Canada Notes

January 31 2000

Canada Notes

January 31 2000

Canada Notes

Arrests in a grisly murder

Police arrested Muhammad Arsal Khan, 36, and his wife, Kaneez Fatima,

45, for the murder of Khans five-yearold daughter, Farah, in Toronto. The shocking case first came to light in early December when a woman walking her dog along the lakeshore in west Toronto saw a couple burying something under rocks. Suspicious, she later

checked and found a garbage bag containing the limbs of a child. Police subsequently uncovered two more garbage bags containing body parts in the same location—near where Khan and Fatima _ lived until Dec. 24. Last

0 week, police also discovered

1 the little girl’s head, in a I north Toronto park not far « from where the couple had I just moved.

Armed with a composite drawing of the two suspects, police focused part of their investigation on schools and any mysterious absences of children. Last week, acting on information provided by a west Toronto kindergarten teacher, they arrested Khan and Fatima. An autopsy has shown that Farah, whose natural mother lives in Pakistan, was likely beaten to death. Khan, who is now a landed immigrant, received legal guardianship of his daughter when the little girl was four months old, shortly after he and his first wife divorced in Pakistan.

Hunting rights for the Métis

Métis activists hailed it as a “massive victory,” but Ontario Premier Mike Harris was less than enthused. Last week, his province’s Superior Court upheld a lower court ruling saying that Métis in the province—those of mixed Indian and European blood—have the right to hunt and fish independent of provincial regulations. Harris, who said the decision could have an impact across the country, noted that the broadening of hunting and fishing rights also raised serious conservation concerns. The premier added that his government may appeal.

A chief resigns

Edmonton’s beleaguered police chief, John Lindsay, stepped down with a $310,000 buyout package after almost a year at the centre of a police corruption scandal. Last spring, two Edmonton police detectives came forward with charges that senior officers had been passing confidential information to motorcycle gang members and other organized crime figures—

and that Lindsay had ignored the allegations. A subsequent RCMP inquiry cleared the chief of wrongdoing, but the damage had clearly been done.

Last week, the Edmonton Police Commission, which oversees the force, said the scandal had nothing to do with the settlement it arrived at with Lindsay. In fact, the former chief will earn his buyout as a consultant to the commission until June, 2001, after which he will retire at full pension.

Terror and the courts

The Federal Court of Canada upheld federal legislation allowing Ottawa to deport suspected terrorists to countries where they face the risk of torture. Ruling in the case of Manickavasagam Suresh, a Tamil from Sri Lanka, the court said that Suresh, who raised funds in Canada for the terrorist Tamil Tigers, had been involved in activities that “constitute reprehensible conduct outside the protections offered by the charter.” Suresh’s lawyer said the case will be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Deportation is clearly easier said than done. In Montreal, Algerian-born Mokhtar Haouari appeared in Quebec Superior Court in connection with his alleged involvement in a bomb plot aimed at the United States. The court heard how Canadian authorities had continually tried to deport Haouari, who arrived in Canada in 1993. But after Ottawa refused his refugee claim, he used the appeals process to stay. Justice JeanGuy Boilard, who blasted Canadas immigration laws, ordered Haouari jailed until an extradition hearing on March 15. Three other Algerians, all of whom have lived in Montreal at some point, face charges in the United States related to the alleged terrorist plot.

Child porn hearing

The Supreme Court of Canada

heard an appeal of two lower court decisions in British Columbia that struck down the country’s child pornography legislation. The case revolved around John Robin Sharpe, 66, a retired city planner, who was charged in 1995 with possession of child pornography. Sharpe argued that the law was unconstitutional, banning works of the imagination—in this case pornographic writings by Sharpe himself.

Government lawyers argued that the rights of children should supersede charter of rights guarantees to privacy and freedom of expression. But John McAlpine, lawyer for the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, said the court “would drive a stake through the heart of liberty” if it sides with the position advanced by the government. Two judges, Charles Gonthier and Claire L’Heureux Dubé, responded by saying freedom of expression is not absolute. A decision will not come until later this year.

The search goes on

Authorities in Toronto said DNA tests showed that a man who lived under a false identity in Sudbury, Ont., and died of cancer in 1987 was not the individual wanted for the 1983 murder of Sharin’ Morningstar Keenan in Toronto. Police had hoped the mysterious man, whose identity is still not known, was Dennis Melvin Howe, who allegedly raped and killed the nine-year-old and then stuffed her body into a refrigerator before disappearing.

Tory blowup

Charlie Power, Conservative MP for St. John’s West in Newfoundland, stepped down—and in the process lashed out at party leader Joe Clark. Power said his decision was in part due to Clark’s opposition to the Liberal government’s Clarity Bill, which attempts to set ground rules for Quebec secession. It was just the latest blowup over Clark’s position, which many Tories see as being too soft on Quebec: earlier in the week, chief policy adviser Timothy Powers also resigned—reportedly over his unhappiness with Clark—and went to work for a Liberal consulting firm.

Settling scores

Saturday Night magazine setded a libel suit brought against it three years ago by child-rights activist Craig Kielburger. A November, 1996, article by Isabel Vincent cast aspersions on Kielburger’s motives, family and fundraising activities; last week, Saturday Night agreed to pay him $319,000. Kielburger said he felt vindicated.

Trouble at Sydney Steel

The 700 employees of Sydney Steel Corp. faced an uncertain future after the Nova Scotia government, which owns the troubled mill, scrapped a proposed $30-million deal to sell it to a private consortium. Rail Associates Inc., a consortium of eight companies, was supposed to come up with a $ 1.5million deposit by Jan. 12. It failed to materialize. The government said it would bring in receivers to find a buyer or sell the assets. The plant will operate for at least three months until existing orders are filled.