Overture

ANOTHER TROUBLING DAY

May 21 2001
Overture

ANOTHER TROUBLING DAY

May 21 2001

ANOTHER TROUBLING DAY

Overture

THE WEEK THAT WAS

Canadian Alliance MP Chuck Strahl, a strong critic of leader Stockwell Day, began searching for 11 fellow MPs to form a new party with enough members to gain official status in the House. For the past month, Day has faced repeated demands for his resignation. The turmoil will likely continue in the face of allegations that former Alliance member Jim Hart received $50,000 from the party to give up his B.C. seat in Okanagan-Coquihalla so Day could run for Parliament.

Execution delayed

He was to die on May 16. But just as prison officials began isolating condemned Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh by limiting personal contacts to family, lawyers and spiritual advisers, the FBI discovered 3,135 documents that should have been turned over to McVeighs legal team in 1997. As a re-

sult, McVeigh received a stay of execution to June 11. The 33-year-old former soldier claimed sole responsibility for the April 19, 1995, bomb! ing of the Alfred P Mur“ rah Federal Building, which killed 168 people and injured 500.

A tragic discovery

A woman walking her dog found the body of five-year-old Jessica Koopmans, a week after she vanished from her Lethbridge, Alta., home. The body lay covered in brush in a field outside Fort McLeod, about 50 km west of Lethbridge. Police had mounted a massive but fruitless search effort, involving hundreds of volunteers, after the girl disappeared while going to play at a friends house on the same block. Few details were available pending an autopsy, but her grandfather confirmed the body was Jessicas.

CELLPHONES, AUTOMOBILES AND ACCIDENTS

Calls for banning the use of cellthough a recent report by the University phones in cars increased after of North Carolina Highway Safety Rea tragic crash claimed the lives of search Center said other distractions Richard Schewe, 31, and his two-yearsuch as eating, talking and adjusting old daughter, Mikaela. The two died controls are far more likely to result in when Schewe, apparently distracted by a crashes. Some countries, including cellphone conversation he was Britain, Italy and Spain, have already engaged in, didn’t stop at a railroad banned the use of cellphones behind the crossing gate in Pickering, just east of wheel. In Canada, a motion to prohibit Toronto, and their car was hit by a freight talking on the phone while driving has train. Studies have shown that cellbeen introduced in the House of Comphones increase the risk of accidents, almons by NDP MP Bill Blaikie.

Charges against a policeman

Const. Martin Cardinal, 24, of Ottawa was charged with unlawful exercise of authority and discreditable conduct because of an incident last November in which he was caught on videotape slamming Julie Cayer s head on the trunk of his police car after arresting her. Cayer, 34, was intoxicated at the time of the incident.

Soccer stampede

Distraught relatives and friends searched for loved ones after a soccer stampede at Accra Sports Stadium in Ghana killed at

least 126 people. The fatal rush was triggered when police fired tear gas at fans hurling debris onto the field at the end of the game. It was the continents fourth deadly stadium disaster in a month, raising questions about Africa’s hopes of hosting the 2010 World Cup finals.

No vote, no help

Toronto Liberal MP Tom Wappel, 51, apologized for snubbing James Baxter, an 81-year-old partially deaf and blind war veteran. Baxter had written Wappel in a bid to gain veteran’s benefits. But Wappel

responded tersely. “How is it,” he asked, “that you are writing me for help if you did not think enough of my abilities to justify voting for me?” Wappel defended his statement and only apologized after he faced a barrage of criticism from his own party, veterans’ groups and the opposition.

A new kind of patch

The world’s first contraceptive patch—now awaiting government approval—is as safe and effective as the pill, researchers say. The study, published in the May 9 issue of the The Journal of the American Medical Association, involved 1,417 women at 45 U.S. and Canadian clinics from October, 1997, to June, 1999. Women found that the matchbook-size patch, produced by the U.S. drug giant Johnson & Johnson, was easier to use than the pill.

Britain to the polls

British Prime Minister Tony Blair called a general election for June 7. Analysts said it was his to lose: according to the latest polls, Blair’s Labour Party, which held 417 of 659 parliamentary seats at the time of dissolution, enjoys the support of 50 per cent of voters.

Larger than life

Friends and supporters of the late René Lévesque said they will replace his life-

sized statue outside the Quebec National Assembly with a bigger version. Paul Bégin, the Parti Québécois minister responsible for Quebec City, said that at fivefoot-five, the statue is too short and encourages “ungraceful gestures,” such as people “leaning on the premier’s head.” The new and improved Lévesque will be more than eight feet tall.

Palestinian territory invaded

Israeli forces invaded the Palestiniancontrolled town of Deir el-Balah in the Gaza Strip, destroying a police station and five homes. The retaliatory raid followed a week of violence that included an attack on a nearby Israeli army outpost, the death of a four-month-old Palestinian girl by Israeli tank fire and the discovery in a West Bank cave of the bodies of two murdered Jewish teenagers.

More than 520 people have been killed in the region since renewed fighting erupted last September.

A controversial tax break

Ontario Premier Mike Harris’s government did away with the province’s longstanding opposition to supporting private schools. A new budget extends a tax credit to families whose children attend private or independent religious schools. The credit, which is expected to cost the government $300 million, will be phased in over five years and is capped at a maximum of $3,500 per child per year. Ontario is the first province to offer such credits.

Stiff sentence

Jurors in one of Vancouver’s more notorious trials recommended that the man they had convicted of second-degree murder for fatally stabbing a Starbucks manager serve 15 years before becoming eligible for parole. B.C. Supreme Court Justice David Vickers concurred, declaring last week that Mirhashem Seyed-Fatemi, 51, must serve that minimum for his Jan. 29, 2000, stabbing of Tony McNaughton. When Seyed-Fatemi came into the store looking for his estranged wife, Starbucks employee Ildiko Seres, McNaughton had tried to shield her.

WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH...

John Roth, president and chief executive of Nortel Networks Corp., will leave the embattled tech giant next April. Nortel, which stunned investors last winter with an earnings warning, is cutting 20,000 jobs in response to a sudden downturn in its business. Roth, manning the top job since 1997, has been assailed by shareholders for the stunning loss of $325 billion in Nortel’s collective share value since its stock hit a peak of $124.50 last July. Roth’s planned departure-compounded by the immediate resignation of secondin-command Clarence Chandran for

medical reasons-leaves the company with a weak succession plan, observers say. While Roth said his advance notice gives “plenty of time” to find a successor, the market appeared to disagree. A further $1.12 was shaved off Nortel’s share price to close at $22.48 last Friday, the day of the joint announcement. One analyst, expecting it will be difficult to find good candidates, notes: “The talent pool is not extremely deep.”

Roth, 58, who late last year cashed in a $ 135-million stock-option package, did not spell out his reasons for retiring, nor did he say what he intends to do.