THE WEEK

The war on terror

Canadian troops bid farewell to Kandahar

July 29 2002
THE WEEK

The war on terror

Canadian troops bid farewell to Kandahar

July 29 2002

The war on terror

THE WEEK

Canadian troops bid farewell to Kandahar

As three pipers played the Maple Leaf Forever, the Canadian flag was lowered for the last time at a military base near Kandahar. More than 800 Canadian soldiers from the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry arrived in Afghanistan in February as part of the American-led international coalition to root out the remnants of the al-Qaeda terrorist network. The soldiers began leaving this week for an American military base on Guam, where they will undergo reorientation counselling before returning to Canada. In addressing the Canadians, American Maj.-Gen. Franklin Hagenbeek lauded their efforts. “Their tremendous performance,” he said, “added to the legacy of their proud regiment.”

The regiment’s assignment was also marked by tragedy, when the pilot of an American F-16 dropped a 255-kg bomb, killing four Canadian soldiers on nighttraining exercises near Kandahar. But last week, a leaked transcript of taped radio

In June, Canadian and U.S. officials blamed American F-16 pilot Maj. Harry Schmidt for the April 17 friendly fire deaths of four Canadian soldiers. But according to tapes, Schmidt told air-traffic controllers, “I’ve got some men on the road and it looks like they’re firing at us.” He then dropped the bomb and immediately radioed: “Can you confirm they were shooting at us?” The controller replied: “You’re cleared. Self-defence.”

communiciations suggested U.S. air-traffic controllers operating from an AWACS, a plane crammed with radar technology, were also unaware that the Canadians were on the ground, leading to suspicions that a serious command-and-control failure contributed to their deaths.

As the Canadians prepared to leave Kandahar, sailors aboard the Canadian destroyer HMCS Algonquin found themselves in the thick of the action. Using flares to light up the night sky over the Gulf of Oman, they pursued and captured two alleged terrorists fleeing in a powerboat. The incident began when three high-speed boats were spotted by surveillance aircraft at noon on July 13. The Algonquin came alongside at about 9:30 p.m. The boats fled but the Algonquin gave chase, using an inflatable boat to overtake the speedboat believed to be carrying the suspects. Two suspects were removed and were picked up the next morning by a U.S. helicopter.

‘But of course. I'm 39 years old. I’ve been elected first when I was 31 years old, and yes, I tried it before. My own experience can’t tell you if it’s harmful or not.’

JUSTICE MINISTER MARTIN CAUCHON, acknowledging he’d smoked pot after raising the possibility that possession could be decriminalized

Major arrests in Greece

Greek police arrested seven members of the elusive November 17 terrorist gang, most notably Alexandras Giotopoulos, 58, alleged to be the group’s chief ideologue. The former university professor denied he was a member of the radical leftist band, which is blamed for killing 23 people, including British, American and Turkish diplomats, since 1975. Police said two of the others they arrested last week confessed to a series of bombings and killings. The police operation—widely hailed as a major step in ensuring security at the Athens Olympics in 2004—was triggered by the June 29 arrest of a man who was wounded when the bomb he was carrying exploded prematurely in the busy tourist port of Piraeus. November 17 takes its name from the date of a 1973 student uprising against the military dictatorship that ruled Greece from 1967 to 1974.

A knock-down pitch at baseball

In the U.S., the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act has been employed to bring down mafia families—and now the RICO Act is being used against Major League Baseball. In a Miami federal court, 14 former owners of the Montreal Expos accused commissioner Bud Selig and former Expos majority owner Jeffrey Loria of fraud and racketeering. The plaintiffs, including Stephen Bronfman, BCE Inc., BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc. and other business heavyweights, claim Selig and Loria conspired to eliminate the Montreal franchise and that they intentionally undermined the viability of the team. Those tactics, they claim, included removing the Expos from local television and subverting plans for a new baseball stadium in downtown Montreal. The lawsuit is seeking compensatory and punitive damages of at least US$100 million. The Montreal franchise may close for good at the end of the season.

Old foes rock on

Heavily armed Spanish soldiers stormed Perejil, a small island of barren rock a few hundred metres from the North African coast, and ousted six Moroccan troops who had hoisted their country’s flag there. Both Spain and Morocco claim the outcrop, but analysts say the dispute is tied to the future of two nearby Spanish settle-

ments, Ceuta and Melilla, that are holdovers from the colonial era. Morocco has long argued Spain’s occupation of the two cities is illegal.

Apologizing for murder

In a surprise move, the Irish Republican Army apologized for killing non-combatants in terrorist attacks over the last 30 years in Northern Ireland—an estimated 650 of the 1,800 people the IRA is believed to have killed during the violence between British loyalists and Irish nationalists. Analysts say the apology is the IRA’s attempt

at creating a better image for itself after recent revelations linked it to Colombian FARC rebels. The group is also suspected of being behind a break-in at a top security police station in Belfast in March and an upsurge in street violence.

Shaking down Seagal

In a case of life imitating art, mobsters associated with New York City’s Gambino crime family tried to shake down toughguy actor Steven Seagal while he was in Toronto shooting a film. According to evidence emerging at the trial of a Gambino

crime family member in New York, Seagal was threatened by four alleged mobsters who visited him while he was filming the movie Exit Wounds in August, 2000. As well, according to wiretapped conversations, the actor’s long-time producer Julius Nasso took part in demanding that Seagal pay US$150,000 to the mob for each movie he made. Seagal was so shaken, investigators said, that he allegedly paid $700,000 to the mob.

Take a pill

Unveiling a mega-merger isn’t easy in the current financial climate. Just ask Pfizer Inc., the world’s largest drug company, which said it will buy rival Pharmacia Corp. in an all-stock deal worth US$60 billion. Within a day of the announcement, the stock of Pfizer, which sells Viagra and Lipitor, dropped so sharply the deal was worth only $51 billion. Analysts worry that Pharmacia, maker of Celebrex, does not have enough major new drugs in the pipeline to justify the price.

Markets’ yin and yang

First the good news—the Bank of Canada deemed the Canadian economy so strong it boosted its key lending rate by one-quarter of a percentage point to 2.75 per cent. Then regulators announced the creation of the Canadian Public Accountability Board to oversee and discipline auditors. Starting in October, the new board will tighten up accounting rules and force firms to regularly switch auditors. But there was enough bad news to keep the markets down. Toronto-based electronics manufacturer Celestica Inc. announced up to 6,000 layoffs, while beaten-down Nortel Networks Corp. is facing a class-action lawsuit alleging it overstated the company’s sales.

Governments’ addiction

In 1992, lotteries, casinos and video lottery terminals netted federal and provincial governments $2.7 billion. By 2001, that amount had soared to more than $10.7 billion—$6 billion of which was pure profit. On average, every adult in Canada spends $424 on government-run gambling.

An early election call

Turkish Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit agreed to hold elections on Nov. 3, some 18 months earlier than scheduled. The move

appears to have blunted calls for Ecevit, who has seen nearly half of the legislators from his Democratic Left Party resign in recent weeks, to step down. His governing coalition is divided over whether Turkey should move forward with reforms aimed at gaining entry into the European Union, a process many consider vital to the country’s economic recovery.

Cop charged in beating

Jeremy Morse, the white Inglewood, Calif., policeman videotaped on July 6 beating a black youth, pleaded not guilty to “assault under the colour of authority,” a felony charge that applies to law enforcement officials. On the videotape made by a bystander, Morse is shown slamming 16-yearold Donovan Jackson onto a squad car and punching him in the face with his fist. Morse’s lawyer said the incident amounted to “reasonable force” under the circumstances. Police had stopped Jackson and his father because the car they were in had expired tags.