Canada Notes

June 5 2000

Canada Notes

June 5 2000

Canada Notes

A homecoming for the Unknown Soldier

Canada’s Unknown Soldier came home—from the cemetery at Vimy Ridge, where he died during the famous 1917 battle that sent the German army into retreat. The body lay in state in Ottawa before being interred in a new tomb at the National War Memorial. “This young man represents all those who have answered the call to duty,” said Veterans Affairs Minister George Baker.

An illegal walkout hits Alberta

Ten thousand health-care workers in Alberta walked off the job for an illegal two-day strike that forced hospitals to cancel surgeries and discharge hundreds of patients. In a mediated settlement, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees and the Provincial Health Authorities of Alberta finally agreed to a contract that will give licensed practical nurses—the largest of the four groups of striking workers—a 16-percent increase over two years. The deal also contained an amnesty for union members who walked out, although

the union itself was fined $400,000 for contempt of court after defying a Labour Relations Board order.

Health care in Alberta was also one of the main topics of debate at the annual western premiers’ meeting. Alberta’s Conservative Premier Ralph Klein faced off against his NDP counterparts—Ujjal Dosanjh of British Columbia, Roy Romanow of Saskatchewan and Manitoba’s Gary Doer—over his provinces Bill 11. That legislation, passed on May 10, expands the role of private clinics in Alberta, and has raised fears it will result in a two-tiered healthcare system. In the end, Romanow said he is adopting a “wait-and-see” attitude about the legislation.

Gary Filmon calls it quits

Former Manitoba premier Gary Filmon resigned as leader of the provincial Conservatives, saying he will vacate his seat in the legislature this fall. The announcement marked the end of a 25-year career in politics, with 11 years spent as premier of Manitoba until Gary Doer’s New Democrats unseated the Tories in 1999. Filmons government managed to balance the provincial budget, but his time in office was also marked by the legislature’s failure to ratify the Meech Lake accord in 1990 (the vote was stalled by native MLA Elijah Harper).

Fighting deportation

The Supreme Court of Canada will consider whether immigrants deemed to be security risks can be deported to their home country if they face the risk of torture. The court will hear the appeals of Manickavasagam Suresh, who is from Sri Lanka and is a former leader of the World Tamil Movement, and Mansour Ahani, a former Iranian secret service agent. Both are fighting deportation, claiming they will be tortured or executed if they return home.

Lloyd’s cancels a sea search

Lloyd’s of London decided it will not search the seabed off Nova Scotia for $300 million in jewels lost in the 1998 crash of Swissair Flight 111, which killed all 229 people onboard. Family members of crash victims were shocked when the insurance company applied for a recovery licence, saying the search would disturb a sacred site.

Placards at a union office

Pickets were set up outside Canadian Auto Workers union offices after 92 clerical workers walked off the job over a dispute regarding pensions. The strikers are seeking the same pension negotiated in 1999 for CAW members who work at offices at Chrysler, Ford and General Motors.

Bail for a porn star

Former porn star Kathryn Gannon, better known as Marilyn Star, was arrested in Vancouver, but received bail while she awaits a June 26 extradition hearing. U.S. authorities allege that the B.C. native received illegal stock tips from her former lover James McDermott Jr., a Wall Street investment banker who was found guilty of securities fraud in April.

Facing an anti-gay backlash

Canadian Alliance leadership candidate Tom Long responded to an Internet statement by the pro-life Campaign Life Coalition that said he was a danger to Canada because two of his advisers are gay. “I will not tolerate discrimination of any kind,” he said. Fellow candidate Stockwell Day denied suggestions from the Long camp that he was behind the report.