A tartan noir

Tanya Davies August 2 1999

A tartan noir

Tanya Davies August 2 1999

Canada Notes

The Games begin in


Athletes from 42 countries were on hand at Winnipeg Stadium for the opening of the 13th PanAmerican Games. Canada’s team was led in by Winnipeg cyclist Tanya Dubnicoff. Also participating in the opening ceremonies were seven native athletes who had carried the official torch for the 1967 Winnipeg games but had not been allowed to bring it into the stadium. Last week, they took part as honoured guests.

Quebec nurses reject a deal

Twenty-five days after beginning an illegal walkout on June 26, Quebec nurses rejected a proposed contract settlement with the provincial government, voting by 75 per cent against the deal. Money remained the issue: the Parti Québécois, which is facing other public sector contract negotiations this fall, refused to budge from its offer of a five-percent raise over three years, and a onetime, $35-million catch-up pay package. The nurses were demanding six per cent over two years, with

the third year to be negotiated later.

Confusion reigned in the wake of the vote. Some nurses returned to the picket lines; others, saying they had lost confidence in union leader Jennie Skene and her negotiating team, reported for work. “We felt betrayed,” said one. “That’s the word—we felt like that.” Six hundred union delegates, meanwhile, who had recommended acceptance of the agreement, met in a stormy meeting to consider their next course of action. Skene used the occasion to issue a plea for solidarity to the union’s 47,500 members. The delegates decided to end the strike for now and seek mediation in their contract dispute.

Uproar over a missing military memo

Critics accused the Canadian Forces of a coverup when it was revealed that a memo by a military doctor—describing soldiers’ exposure to toxic substances during the mid-1990s peacekeeping mission to Bosnia—had disappeared from personnel files. Military brass, who deny that any such exposure took place, ordered an investigation into who tampered with the files and when. The memo is important to soldiers who say they have suffered medical problems as a result of their service and are pursuing claims against the Forces.

Crime goes down

Statistics Canada reported that the 1998 crime rate—8,102 incidents per 100,000 people—is the lowest in almost 20 years. In 1998, the rate fell by 4.1 per cent, the seventh consecutive drop in as many years. The rate of homicides—1.8 per 100,000—was the lowest in 30 years.

Manning drops the gloves

Reform Leader Preston Manning took further aim at party dissidents, threatening disciplinary measures and warning of anarchy if Reformers do not accept his vision of a United Alternative coalition with Tories. (In June, party members voted by 60.5 per cent to endorse the idea.) At week’s end, Manitoba MP Jake Hoeppner, one of Manning’s most vocal critics, was suspended from the caucus.

Guilty swinger

The owner of L’Orage, a Montreal swingers’ club, was found guilty of keeping a common bawdy house. Jean-Paul Labaye, who had argued that no prostitution took place on his premises and that his clients were all consenting adults with the right to associate, is appealing. Police raided the club in March, 1998, and charged 41 people with being found in a common bawdy house; those trials are on hold pending the appeal.

A manhunt ends

Police in Toronto said that skeletal remains found at the foot of a cliff in the east end of the city were those of Stephen Toussaint. Fie had been the object of an international manhunt since the April, 1998, murder of his co-worker, Bob Ivens. Toussaint was also a suspect in an arson attack at his Toronto church.

Murder in Calgary

Police in Calgary charged Deborah Point, 38, with the second-degree murder of her roommate, Audrey Trudeau, 44, who disappeared in February. Trudeau’s chopped-up remains were found in boxes in a garage after people noticed a stench. The garage was owned by a woman who let friends store belongings there.