The Week That Was

Manning says farewell to the House

February 11 2002

The Week That Was

Manning says farewell to the House

February 11 2002

The Week That Was

Manning says farewell to the House

That voice, those draaawn-out vowels, will never be heard again in the House of Commons. Preston Manning took his leave of the chamber last week with a typically elegant farewell address, a reminder that he brought to Parliament Hill skills as an orator which are rare among politicians these days. But the Alberta populist who founded

the Reform party in 1987, and led it to official Opposition status in the 1997 election, hopes to be remembered for more than oldfashioned attention to crafting speeches. He spoke proudly of his influence in promoting tax cuts and fiscal discipline, along with pushing the Liberals to clarify their stance on the rules that will apply in any future

Quebec referendum on separation.

But there was a rueful undercurrent to his exit. In an interview with Maclean's, he talked about the failure of Reform, or its successor, the Canadian Alliance, to form a government. Manning relished developing policy, but admitted he did not grasp the importance of building a national political network when he was first elected MP for Calgary Southwest

in 1993. “Even if you have what appears on the surface to be a national party, in effect there have to be working alliances and coalitions between movers and shakers in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario, the Prairie people and B.C.,” he said. “I don’t think I appreciated that.”

Read the interview with Preston Manning

Dogs maul little girl

A four-year-old girl was mauled to death by two dogs-a Rottweiler and a Labrador-cross that her father was looking after. Neighbours found the body of Kyra-Lee Sibthorpe in a field not far from her father’s Woodland Beach, Ont., home, but Andrew Sibthorpe, 30, wanted by police on an unrelated warrant, was nowhere to be found. He turned himself in three days later. Kyra-Lee, who lived with her mother near Barrie, Ont., was visiting her father when the attack occurred.The Labrador-cross was destroyed,

police said, and the Rottweiler was being studied.

A double tragedy

A grandfather was charged with two counts of criminal negligence in the deaths of his three-month-old twin granddaughters. Jerome Kerrigan, 56, had just gained custody of Angel and Shaniece Kerrigan-Kinahan, along with 21-month-old Tanner, and was driving them from Slave Lake, Alta., to his home in Grand Bend, Ont., when his vehicle broke down. Clerks at a Thunder Bay, Ont., motel called police, who found the

twins dead. Medical reports showed they were injured before Kerrigan gained custody. The children were removed from the home of his daughter, Shaylynn Kerrigan, 18, and Dan Kinahan, 17, after Alberta Children’s Services officials were notified on Dec. 17 the girls had been treated for suspicious injuries.

Blast kills hundreds

As many as 2,000 people were killed after there were explosions at an army munitions dump in the middle of a crowded neighbourhood in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city. A fur-

ther 1,000 are still missing, the Red Cross said. Nigeria's defence minister, Yakubu Danjuma, promised to move the depot, saying it had been built decades ago when few people lived in the neighbourhood.

State of terrorism

In his first State of the Union address, George W. Bush warned that the United States must remain vigilant in its search for the tens of thousands of highly trained AlQaeda soldiers stalking U.S. nuclear stations and other targets. “What we have found in Afghanistan confirms

that far from ending there, our war against terror is only beginning,” Bush said. Calling North Korea, Iran and Iraq an “axis of evil,” he accused the three states of developing weapons of mass destruction and warned that unless they halt their efforts, they will face catastrophic consequences.

Snowball’s chance

British tabloid reporters got a frosty welcome from citizens of Otterville, Ont., when they arrived to dig up dirt on Amy Gehring, a 26-year-old Canadian teacher accused of seducing two underage boys at a Londonarea school where she taught. “All we wanted to do was take some pictures,” said one reporter. “They

totally ambushed us with snowballs.” British reporters have also offered cash to local journalists in exchange for information. Gehring has pleaded not guilty to the charges and her lawyer has described the teenagers as suffering from schoolboy fantasies.

Unions cry foul

Union workers throughout British Columbia walked off the job to protest new measures imposed by the government to rein them in. First, 40,000 teachers staged a day of protest, followed by some 8,000 of B.C.’s community workers. In an emergency session two days earlier, Premier Gordon Campbell’s Liberal government had passed legislation

An advance party of 70 soldiers from the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry left Edmonton last week, en route to Kandahar. There, they will join 1,700 Canadian soldiers who arrived in the region last month and help prepare for the arrival of the rest of Canada’s 750-member contingent to Afghanistan. The remaining troops are expected to be in place by mid-February, to support humanitarian projects, as well as take part in the search for Al-Qaeda terrorists and holdouts of the defeated Taliban regime.

But Afghanistan remained a volatile place. In strategic Paktia province, which borders Pakistan, rival warlords began shelling each

other for control of the area, a conflict that represented a new challenge to interim leader Hamid Karzai’s attempts to forge a lasting peace in his war-torn country. On a trip to the United States and Britain, Karzai asked the UN to expand the international force of 5,000 peacekeepers protecting his fledgling government. His request came as CNN broadcast an interview with the elusive Osama bin Laden, believed to have been recorded at the height of the fighting last October, in which the Al-Qaeda leader defended the use of terror. “If killing those who kill our sons is terrorism,” he said, “then let history witness that we are terrorists.”

allowing the government to break existing public-sector union contracts. To try to ease tensions, the province announced that all 77 Liberal MLAs will take an immediate five-per-cent wage cut and have their salaries frozen for three years.

More than money talks

In a show of support for New York City, some 2,700 business leaders, politicians and celebrities from 106 countries gathered in Manhattan for the 32nd annual World Economic Forum.The forum, which moved from its usual Alpine retreat in Davos, Switzerland, is usually an examination of global balance sheets. But this year, participants, painting Sept. 11 as a wake-up call, vowed to discuss poverty, the AIDS epidemic and other global ills. Still, the city braced for the violent protests that have marred international economic meetings in recent years in Seattle, Quebec City and Genoa, with some 4,000 police lining the streets. Among the Canadians in attendance were Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, Finance Minister Paul Martin and Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge.

Accountability lessons

A commission co-chaired by former NDP leader Ed Broadbent says Canada should ban political party contributions by corporations and unions. The Canadian Democracy and Corporate Accountability Commission, also led by Avie Bennett, chairman of publisher McClelland & Stewart, says that while the impact of corporate donations is a complex question, for many people “the appearance of undue influence is as important as its actual existence.” A ban should be accompanied by an expansion of public electoral financing, the commission says. After a year of research and hearings, it called on governments and business to institute firm corporate social responsibility rules so that leaders take into account the social impact of business decisions, including the effect on the environment and human rights.

Surprises—and embarrassments—for Chrétien

Jean Chretien’s style has often been called managerial-but not last week. As the House resumed sitting after its year-end break, pundits were soon searching for less flattering adjectives. Is mismanagerial a word? The Prime Minister was squabbling with some of his own MPs, feuding with his finance minister, and being embarrassed over Defence Minister Art Eggleton’s bungled handling of questions about Canadian special forces taking prisoners in Afghanistan and turning them over to the U.S. military.

Eggleton’s stumbling over when he knew what was made all the worse by the way he kept Chrétien in the dark. On Jan. 28, Chrétien— pressed by reporters on the hot issue of whether Canada would turn over captives to the U.S. without assurances the Americans would

respect their Geneva Convention rights-dismissed the whole matter as “hypothetical.” Or so he thought. It turned out Canadian commandos had taken prisoners and turned them over to the Americans on Jan. 21-and Eggleton was briefed that same day. But it wasn’t until Jan. 29 that he got around to filling in Chrétien and the rest of cabinet.

Chretien’s new deputy prime minister, John Manley, didn’t help matters by suggesting it wouldn’t have made any difference “had the Prime Minister known a few days or a few hours earlier.” Any hint that Chrétien is removed from pressing events is precisely what he has to fight against these days. After all, with his Jan. 15 cabinet shuffle Chrétien turned over much day-today responsibility to Manley. That raised questions about how long Chrétien plans to stay on, with

some speculating privately that 2002 would be his last full year in office. Others, though, believe he is in for the long haul.

Either the assumption that Chrétien is going, or impatience over the notion of him staying, could explain why the strong glue of Liberal discipline is showing signs of coming unstuck. When Ontario MP Carolyn Bennett publicly chastised Chrétien for failing to appoint more women to cabinet, he blasted her in caucus. But, tellingly, another Liberal MR Carolyn Parrish, then stepped forward to voice the same

complaint. A key test of Chretien’s ability to restore uncontested control is his latest clash with Martin. The finance minister’s supporters back a rule that prevents mass distribution of party membership forms. Chrétien is seeking the power to pass out as many as he likes-but Martin’s team isn’t backing down.

Chrétien first came into cabinet in 1967, when Lester B. Pearson was clearly on his way out, his cabinet in disarray, and an unofficial succession race heating up. After a dreadful start to the 2002 political season, Chrétien must regain his balance-or risk presiding over Liberal history repeating itself.

John Geddes

Should Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan turn over their prisoners to the U.S.