Country superstar Shania Twain returned to her true roots last week, marking Canada Day in the Northern Ontario mining town of Timmins where she grew up. For her first concert there since she made it big in Nashville, Tenn., the town’s population of 45,000 swelled by thousands as visitors from all over the continent came to see the belle with the famous midriff on the final stop of a worldwide tour. Ottawa had the Snowbirds; Quebec a nurses’ strike. “Twainville” had the sultry soloist who kept them rocking in the aisles from the opening bars of Honey,; I’m Home.
Testing the limits of free speech
Canada’s six-year-old child pornography law is headed for the Supreme Court of Canada after the B.C. Court of Appeal found the wording to be too broad and unwieldy. The judgment upheld a lower court ruling in January dismissing possession charges against a retired city planner, John Sharpe, 65, of Vancouver. Reform Leader Preston Manning demanded Parliament be recalled to override the courts. Justice Minister Anne McLellan, while not ruling out using the notwithstanding clause of the Charter of Rights and
Freedoms to set aside the judgment, instead urged the Supreme Court to hear the B.C. government’s appeal quickly. In the majority 2-1 decision, B.C. Justice Anne Rowles said the law effectively criminalizes possession of material created by people from their own imagination without any need to show direct harm to anyone else. “The charter,” she wrote, “should never permit the state to regulate an individuals private recorded thoughts, no matter how objectionable those thoughts might be.” Simple possession of child porn will not be prosecuted in British Columbia until the appeal is heard, but distribution, production and possession for distribution remain crimes.
Tyrell Dueck, the 13-yearold Saskatchewan boy who chose to put his faith in God instead of chemotherapy in defiance of the medical establishment, died in a Saskatoon hospital. The Dueck family fought two court
orders to refuse conventional treatment after bone cancer was diagnosed in November. One of three children in a deeply religious family, Tyrell spent three weeks at an alternative clinic in Mexico in March and was said at the time to be recovering.
Relatives of the 26 miners killed in the Westray mine explosion seven years ago saw their hopes for justice go up in smoke. An independent report said that Nova Scotia prosecutors acted properly in staying manslaughter and criminal negligence charges against mine managers Gerald Phillips and Roger Parry a year ago. The two were charged within months of the 1992 disaster.
Chased from town
Quebec’s language police are vowing to return to the rebellious anglophone town of Shawville, northwest of Ottawa, where one of their inspectors was shooed away last month by a convoy of local businesspeople. Inspector Lucie Couvrette was taking pictures of the English signs in the town of 1,500 when the local media began taking pictures of her and townspeople followed her about until she left.
Reform’s leaky ship
A leaked Reform party memo asserting that many MPs should be discouraged from running in the next election elicited an angry response from some who felt they were singled out for bucking the party line. Chief party strategist Rick Anderson’s memo surfaced as leader Preston Manning was launching a campaign to have $26 billion cut from federal taxes. It also was revealed the party is $472,000 in debt.
Colin Thatcher, the former Saskatchewan cabinet minister who was sentenced to life in prison for the brutal murder of his ex-wife JoAnn Wilson in 1983, has applied to be eligible for early parole under the controversial faint hope clause. That provision, open to anyone who has served at least 15 years, triggers a judicial review.
Chanteuse at the bar
The ownership of a song is now in the hands of a Supreme Court judge in British Columbia following the conclusion of an elaborate eight-month trial in which pop star Sarah McLachlan was sued by former drummer Darryl Neudorf, who assisted with the singer’s debut album 11 years ago.
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