It’s ‘not a useful conference at all'

The Week That Was

September 17 2001
It’s ‘not a useful conference at all'

The Week That Was

September 17 2001

The Week That Was

Overture

Reno to run

Former U.S. attorney general Janet Reno formally declared her candidacy in the 2002 Florida gubernatorial election. Should she win the Democratic nomination, she would almost certainly run against Republican incumbent Jeb Bush, who played a key role in legal battles surrounding voter irregularities in last November’s protracted presidential election. The final Florida tally cemented the presidency for the governor’s older brother, George W. Bush. Reno, 63, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, said her condition would not impair her ability to campaign or to serve as governor.

J.C. bows out

Legendary Calgary oil baron J. C. Anderson agreed to sell his company to a U.S. petroleum giant, closing an era in the Canadian industry. Anderson, 70, a colourful Nebraskan who came to Canada in 1966, was the last of the major self-made in-

dependent oilmen. The sale of his Anderson Exploration Ltd. to Devon Energy Corp. of Oklahoma City for almost $7 billion also tilted the industry balance to give foreign companies control of more than half of Canadian oil and natural gas production.

Ipperwash questions

Six years after native protester Dudley George was killed in a standoff with Ontario Provincial Police at Ipperwash Provincial Park, a document provided to his family’s lawyers raises further questions over Premier Mike Flarris’s role. Harris has

repeatedly denied that he influenced police operations against natives occupying the disputed park on Lake Huron, but the document, a memo from a civil servant, indicates Harris had, in fact, met with two officers just hours before George was shot. The premier,

It’s ‘not a useful conference at all'

The UN Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, ended pretty much the way it began-amid rancorous debate. Israel and the United States walked out halfway through the nineday summit over Arab-backed demands for language that both country’s delegates decried as anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli. On Saturday, the conference adopted a declaration recognizing the injustice of slavery and colonialism and the “plight” of Palestinians, as well as a global action plan to combat discrimination. While Arab states were disappointed the conference did not directly condemn Israel, Canadian delegation chief Hedy Fry issued a “statement of reservation,” saying Canada wished to “dissociate”

itself from the final documents’ language on the Middle East.

Equally contentious throughout the conference were African nations’ demands that slavery and colonialism be labelled “crimes against humanity.” The Africans wanted Western countries that participated in the slave trade to apologize and pay reparations. The European Union had refused because it felt it would be left open to potential lawsuits. At the last minute, the EU had agreed to compromise language calling on those responsible for slavery to find ways to restore the dignity of victims. An EU spokesman acknowledged it amounted to an apology, but added: “The way it’s drafted, there can’t be any legal consequences.”

More turbulence for a troubled airline

First came a $250,000 federal fine for shoddy maintenancethe largest in Canadian aviation history. Then, hours later last Thursday, Air Transat was hit with a $30-million class-action suit on behalf of three passengers. They, along with 288 fellow travellers, had been en route to Lisbon from Toronto on Aug. 24 aboard the Air Transat Airbus A-330 that ran out

of fuel in mid-Atlantic and glided— miraculously-for 180 km before landing safely in the Azores.

The fine and lawsuit came during a week that saw the airline acknowledge that one of the plane’s engines had been improperly installed during maintenance work five days before the fateful flight (the plane made 13 flights in the interim).

Specifically, when the right-side engine was replaced, it is believed the recommended clearance specifications between fuel lines and hydraulic pipes were not met. Apparently a fuel line to the engine was punctured when it rubbed against a hydraulic line.

A Portuguese-led investigation is looking into whether the plane's crew could have contributed to the aircraft’s problems by pumping extra fuel to the right-side engine. Meanwhile, a lawyer representing the three passengers says he expects others to join the legal a, action against Air Transat. “It’s t starting to look like this plane I should never have left the ground,” I said Antonio Azevedo. “We want to x ensure this never happens again.”

who is being sued by the George family, rejected renewed calls for an inquiry into the shooting as long as the lawsuit continues.

Ultimatum time

The going got tough for the 12 dissident members of the Canadian Alliance who left their caucus to establish the breakaway Democratic Representative Caucus in July. First, Alliance Leader Stockwell Day threatened the MPs with expulsion from the party if they did not return to the fold by early this week and abandon any unauthorized negotiations with the Progressive Conservatives on forming a coalition. But the MPs, who were scheduled to attend a joint caucus meeting

with the Conservatives early this week, were also under pressure from deputy Tory leader Elsie Wayne, who said that those who do show up for the joint meeting would be pressured to join the Conservative party. Between a Stock and a hard place, in other words.

Computer mammoth

Wall Street and Washington were skeptical, but hardcharging Hewlett-Packard Co. CEO Carly Fiorina was

sure her $20-billion (U.S.) takeover bid for rival giant Compaq Computer Corp. makes sense. “This is a big damn deal, but we can pull it off,” Fiorina declared. If U.S. regulators approve the merger, it would make the combined company the worlds biggest personal computer firm and challenge IBM Corp. in industry heft. Fiorina, who would lead the new entity, is keen to take business from top-selling Dell Computer Corp. in PCs, as well as from Sun Microsystems Inc. in the lucrative server market.

A lawsuit against UCC

A former student launched a $62-million lawsuit against Upper Canada College in Toronto, one of the country’s most prestigious private schools for boys, saying he and other classmates were sexually and physically abused by a teacher during the 1970s. Also named in the suit are thenschool principal Doug Blakey and the teacher, Douglas Brown, who last month was charged with sexual assault. The student, Yvan Prodeus, says the abuse occurred when he was 11 and 12 years old. Brown, who was on the staff at UCC from 1975 until 1993, taught English and also served as a dormitory supervisor.

Weapons and rights

British and Dutch troops resumed collecting weapons from ethnic Albanian rebels in northern Macedonia last week after the Macedonian parliament voted overwhelmingly to give preliminary approval to changes in the country’s constitution. As part of a disarmament-for-rights plan sponsored by NATO, the vote was the necessary next step towards peace, and arms collection had been suspended dur-

ing the weeklong debate. But the plan’s success is not guaranteed: the 36 constitutional changes—among them provisions to entrench Albanian language rights and guarantee increased participation in the national police force—must still be voted on individually, and some are fiercely opposed by many deputies in the Macedonian parliament.

Microsoft stays whole

Bill Gates did not declare victory, but his Microsoft Corp. took a long step out of the woods after the U.S. government abandoned its attempts to break up the

software giant. The Bush administration’s justice department, along with 18 states, also gave up its challenge to Microsoft’s integration of its Internet Explorer browser with its Windows operating system. The Clinton administration had brought an antitrust suit in 1997. A lower-court judge agreed Microsoft was a monopoly and ordered a breakup, but last June an appeal court reversed the breakup call. The justice department will still seek court orders against alleged anti-competitive practices by Microsoft.

Sun, sand, surf—and dangerous waters

Just days after two deadly shark attacks in the United States, Florida moved to ban tourist shark-feeding dives. Calling the excursions a threat to public safety-organizers hand-feed sharks while tourists watch and take pictures-government officials said they were concerned that the dives are changing shark behaviour, causing them to lose their natural fear of humans and drawing them near popular beaches. Experts say the number of shark attacks hasn’t increased in recent years-last year, there were 84 shark attacks worldwide, with just 53 in the U.S., while this

year there have been 40 U.S. attacks so far. But 29 have taken place in Florida, which last year set a state record of 37 attacks.

Meanwhile, a recent series of incidents has heightened public concern on the eastern seaboard. This year’s first fatal U.S. attacks occurred over the Labour Day weekend. David Peltier, 10, was playing in the water at Virginia Beach, Va., when a shark severed an artery in his leg. The next day, Sergi Zaloukaev, 28, died of blood loss after being bitten multiple times while swimming off North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

LESSONS IN HATRED, ULSTER-STYLE

It was enough to sicken even some Protestant hardliners. Catholic girls making their way to the Holy Cross Primary School in the Ardoyne area of Belfast were subjected to verbal abuse and pelted with stones by local Protestants. Two policemen escorting the children-some as young as 4-suffered serious injuries when a home-made bomb blew up in front of them. Violence near the Catholic school degenerated into violence on the streets as that area of north Belfast was rocked by two nights of rioting. Why?

Rational explanations seemed few and far between. The school, which is located a few hundred metres from a so-called peace line sep-

arating Protestant and Catholic neighbourhoods, is nevertheless on Protestant turf. The Catholic population in the area is growing-Protestants say they’ve been harassed and feel under siege. In the spring, they began targeting-who else?children, making Holy Cross the primary focus of the struggle, forcing the school to close early for summer vacation, then giving youngsters a lesson in hatred when classes began again last week. It was all too much for hardline Protestant politician Billy Hutchison.

“There is nothing that justifies this," he said.

“I want to walk away from it and even leave this country. I’m ashamed to be a loyalist.”