Canada

Canada Notes

August 14 2000
Canada

Canada Notes

August 14 2000

Canada Notes

High-seas drama

In a dramatic confrontation ending an 18-day standoff, a Canadian military helicopter lowered 14 armed soldiers onto the deck of a freighter 160 km south of St. Johns, Nfld., as it tried to flee with more than $200 million worth of Canadian military hardware and three Canadian soldiers aboard. The Ukrainian captain of the American-owned GTS Katie frantically radioed that he was under attack and weaved to avert the takeover. The boarding party from HMCS Athabaskan took less than an hour to take control of the ship and order its captain to sail to Bécancour, Que.

The Katie, which was carrying military gear including tanks, armoured vehicles, trucks and ammunition used by Canadian troops in Kosovo, was waiting outside Canadian waters because of a dispute over payment for the journey. To bring the equipment back, Ottawa had hired a Montreal firm that, in turn, subcontracted the ships owner. But the Katies captain refused to dock until his firm was paid. Defence Minister Art Eggleton said that with 10 per cent of the force s total equipment at stake, “we had to take action,” and dispatched a boarding party from the Athabaskan. “Having our equipment held hostage was not acceptable.”

Alberta challenges court on child hookers

Police in Alberta are continuing to detain prostitutes under the age of 18 despite a court decision deeming the practice unconstitutional. But the province, which is appealing the decision, now requires the child hookers to sign a consent form before going to a safe house, where they can be held for up to 72 hours. And if they decline, they have the right to appear before a judge with a lawyer. On July 28, a provincial court judge ruled that the Alberta child-protection law violated various charter rights.

Staying behind British bars

Ontario rejected a proposal from convicted murderer Albert Walker, 54, to serve his life sentence in Canada rather than in Britain. The former financial consultant from Paris, Ont., who was convicted of murder in 1998, fled to England in 1990 with his then15-year-old daughter, Sheena, and $3.2 million he had stolen from his clients. To help avoid capture, Walker murdered Ronald Platt during a sailing trip on the English Channel on July 20, 1996, and then assumed the dead mans identity.

Controversy over garbage

Toronto city council voted to send 1.3 million tonnes of trash annually by rail to an abandoned open-pit mine near Kirkland Lake, Ont. Residents of the city of 10,000 people, 500 km north of Toronto, are divided over the issue. Many believe the dump, which will cost $145 million to start up, will bring economic development, while others fear it may leak toxins, poisoning groundwater over a vast area.

Privacy commissioner named

George Radwanski, 53, a former journalist and longtime Liberal adviser, has been named federal privacy commissioner. Radwanski, who wrote a biography of Pierre Trudeau and served as an aide to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, replaces Bruce Phillips, 70, also a former journalist, who is retiring. While Conservative critics said Radwanskis appointment amounted to patronage, Phillips said they should wait to see how Radwanski performs before attacking him.

Day mends party wounds

To boost party unity, Canadian Alliance Leader Stockwell Day gave prominent roles to backers of leadership rival Preston Manning in his first shadow cabinet. Manning will act as Days senior adviser and draft policy on science and technology. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien called byelections for Sept. 11 in the B.C. Interior riding where Day says he will run and in central Nova Scotia where Conservative Leader Joe Clark will try to re-enter the House.