Canada NOTES

February 15 1999

Canada NOTES

February 15 1999

Canada NOTES



Federal Liberals defeated a Reform party motion on child pornography in a 143 to 129 Commons vote. Four Liberals broke party ranks, joining Reform’s call for Ottawa to intervene in the case of a British Columbia judge’s Jan. 15 ruling that made it legal to possess child pornography. Reform wanted the case appealed directly to the Supreme Court of Canada or overturned by invoking the Constitution’s notwithstanding clause. Ottawa wants the case to proceed normally through the appeal process, with the B.C. Court of Appeal set to hear the case in April.


The military grounded seven pilots with the famed Snowbirds aerobatics team, as well as 40 per cent of all other pilots, for being too heavy. The restriction on pilots flying T-33 and Tutor jets was imposed over concerns that the ejection seats cannot cope with pilots over 180 lb. The decision followed a report by the CBC’s fifth estate questioning the safety of T-33 ejection mechanism.


The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal ruled that four columns by Doug Collins in the North Shore News in 1994 exposed Jews to hatred and contravened the Human Rights Code. (Collins, among other things, said the movie Schindler’s List was Jewish propaganda.) The tribunal ordered the columnist to pay $2,000 to businessman Harry Abrams, who filed the complaint.


Ted Hughes, the new head of the inquiry into RCMP conduct at the 1997 APEC summit, urged Ottawa to pay for the legal costs of students involved in clashes with police. Ottawa has already twice turned down such requests. Officers pepper-sprayed and arrested several protesters during the summit in Vancouver.


Chief Justice Antonio Lamer of the Supreme Court of Canada said he would “certainly discourage people from campaigning” for a spot on his court. Lamer said lobbying for the opening created by Justice Peter Cory’s plans to retire in June can be “divisive.” Intense jockeying within Ontario’s legal community followed Justice John Sopinka’s death in 1997.

A OASE OF THE W^ILLIES« Schoolchildren and other onlookers

who gathered in Wiarton, Ont., for Groundhog Day celebrations were shocked by the news that Wiarton Willie, the renowned weather prognosticator, had died. But handlers soon acknowledged that the body laid out in state was that of a stuffed stand-in, and that they had found the real Willie’s decomposing body two days earlier. “We incinerated him—I mean we cremated him,” said Sam Brouwer, one of the handlers. “People need closure,” said another, trying to explain the hoax.

Beatty bows out at the CBC

Beleaguered CBC president Perrin Beatty announced that he has given up his quest for a second four-year term as head of the public broadcaster. Beatty, however, agreed to stay on until October—a six-month extension of his contract—in orderte guide the CBC through upcoming licence-renewal hearings with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. “I knew when I accepted the job that it would not be easy,” said the former Conservative cabinet minister, who plans to return to the private sector.

Sources say that Beatty’s vision of the CBC as a broad-based, full-range service clashed with chairwoman Guylaine Saucier’s view that the

CBC should restrict itself to specialty services such as Newsworld. (The Prime Minister last year granted Saucier a second five-year term.) Beatty’s turbulent tenure included carving $400 million from the CBC’s $1.2-billion budget. CBC senior vice-president James McCoubrey, meanwhile, had taken over several of Beatty’s management functions before being injured in a car accident on Jan. 4. Possible successors to Beatty include Peter Herrndorf, former head of TVOntario, Robert Rabinovitch, a former federal cultural bureaucrat now with the investment company Claridge Inc., and Trina McQueen, a former CBC vice-president who now heads the Discovery Channel.

Wilson wields the axe

Just five days after being named minister in charge of the embattled B.C. Ferry Corp., Gordon Wilson fired its president, Philip Halkett, who had held the post less than three weeks. Wilson replaced Halkett with Bob Ling-

wood, president of Crown-owned B.C. Transit, after Halkett submitted a report that overestimated the top speed of three high-speed ferries currently under construction. Halkett had replaced Tom Ward, who resigned after revealing that the new ferries’ construction costs had almost doubled to about $400 million.