Canada

Canada Notes

May 10 1999
Canada

Canada Notes

May 10 1999

Canada Notes

Canada

Election fever across Canada

Voting day appeared to be on the horizon in four provinces. In Ontario, Premier Mike Harris’s Conservatives released their 52-page campaign Blueprint—a follow-up to the Common Sense Revolution that swept them to power in 1995—promising 20-percent cuts in both personal income tax and residential property taxes as well as the creation of 825,000 jobs during a second mandate. The Ontario Tories are widely expected to call an election after tabling the provincial budget this week. In Manitoba, Premier Gary Filmon's beleaguered Tories brought down a balanced pre-election budget that cut the province’s personal income tax rate by three points to 47 per cent of the feder-

al rate and increased health spending by 10 per cent. With a provincial election call expected within weeks—and with the government still reeling from a voterigging scandal, dating from the 1995 election, that reached up into the ranks of Filmons closest advisers—the Tories have recently made a flurry of spending announcements in areas such as health, education and transportation.

Neighbouring Saskatchewan’s ruling NDP also appeared ready to go to the voters as that province’s long-running contract dispute with its nurses seemed headed for a resolution. Premier Roy Romanow said he had not yet picked a date, but implied that a June election was a possibility now that the nurses, who recently staged a 10-day illegal walkout, were back at the bargaining table. And in New Brunswick, Premier Camille Theriault’s Liberals were also considering a June election.

On the horns of a dilemma

The debate over genetic engineering intensified as Montrealbased Nexia Biotechnologies Inc. announced that it had produced Canada’s first cloned goats. The animals are part of a complicated project to produce spider silk in goat’s milk, which will be made into a super-strong substance for medical use. Health Minister Allan Rock said he will introduce legislation to ban human cloning later this year.

‘They’re playing mind games’

David Milgaard was committed to a psychiatric ward in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley after entering the office of a local physician and loudly demanding lithium. Milgaard, 46, was cleared in 1997 of the 1969 sex murder of Saskatoon nurse’s aide Gail Miller after wrongly serving nearly 23 years for that crime. His mother, who steadfastly fought for her son’s release, attributed his fragile psychological state to problems in securing adequate compensation from the Saskatchewan government. “They’re playing mind games with him,” said Joyce Milgaard, who is scheduled to meet with John Nilson, the province’s justice minister, this week.

Not guilty

New Brunswick native activist Noah Augustine, 28, was acquitted of murder in the shooting death of Bruce Barnaby, 41. During his trial, Augustine, a resident of the Red Bank First Nation reserve in the Miramichi region of eastern New Brunswick, admitted that he shot Barnaby during the early morning hours of Sept. 19, 1998, at Barnaby’s home on the nearby Eel Ground First Nation reserve. But Augustine said he had done so in self-defence while questioning Barnaby about his suspected involvement in the 1986 road accident death of Augustine’s cousin. Augustine and Thomas Fdaddad, a friend and former native police officer who accompanied him to Barnaby’s house, fled to Florida, where they surrendered to authorities a week after the incident.

A ‘big mistake’

The prosecution rested its case against Warren Glowatski, 18, charged with second-degree murder in the savage 1997 beating death of Victoria-area teenager Reena Virk. Appearing as the last witness, RCMP Sgt. Bruce Brown testified that on the night of Glowatski’s arrest, he overheard the teenager telling his father, “I made a big mistake. I can’t get myself out of this.” The Crown contends that Glowatski and a girl who is also facing a murder charge beat Virk to death after an earlier beating by Glowatski and a group of girls.

A resignation in Quebec

Quebec’s revenue minister, Rita DionneMarsolais, resigned from cabinet after the province’s access-to-information commission said her department had broken the law by giving confidential information about Quebecers to polling firms. She is the first minister in Premier Lucien Bouchard’s cabinet to be forced out of government.

Child porn appeal

The B.C. Court of Appeal reserved its decision in the appeal of a controversial lower court ruling that overturned Canada’s child pornography law. Lawyers for John Robin Sharpe of Vancouver, acquitted of two charges of possession of child pornography as a result of the original ruling, argued that the legislation is too broad (it covers not only photos but also such things as sketches and written materials). But they acknowledged in court that possession of photographic child pornography should remain illegal.