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Separatists' fervor subsides in Quebec
Secure in its Frenchness, province more inclined to stay part of Canada

By Phil Couvrette / Associated Press



MONTREAL -- There was a time in the 1990s when Quebec's language war got so nasty that the anthem couldn't be sung at ball games, so loudly would the French-speaking fans boo the English-language version.
Nowadays, the fans just wait good-naturedly for the game to start.

The relaxed atmosphere is just one manifestation of what looks like a different Quebec, secure in its Frenchness and less anxious to break free of the Canadian embrace. The long struggle that at one point descended into terrorism, threatened to tear Canada apart and dragged Quebec through two divisive referendums on sovereignty, seems to have been put on the backburner.

One piece of evidence is the skyrocketing fortunes of a 32-year-old legislator named Mario Dumont. Preaching lower taxes, spending cuts and private health care, he is the very model of a modern mold-breaker. Most significant, however, is his insistence that Quebec sovereignty, while not a dead issue, is not a priority.

His party, Action Democratique du Quebec, started the year with one seat in the 125-member provincial legislature, and now has five, having unseated representatives of the ruling -- and separatist -- Parti Quebecois, in one special election after another. Dumont's party leads the opinion polls, and some analysts can imagine it being strong enough to take power by the time provincial elections roll around next year.

Sovereignty issue not dead

The reasons behind the truce over separatism are many: a feeling that the language battle has been largely won; the autonomous powers that give Quebec significant control of taxes, education and immigration policies; the sense that in a wired and globalizing world, issues of sovereignty suddenly seem narrower.

Indeed, some now worry that in a world that increasingly relies on English, Quebecois who don't speak the language will be at a disadvantage.

Premier Bernard Landry has insisted the next election will also be about sovereignty, that his Parti Quebecois will stick to its goal even if it loses votes, and that "there's no question of deviating from this objective for any short-term political rationale."

The Parti Quebecois has been in power for two terms, and that confronts it with another challenge: No party has won a Quebec provincial election three times in a row since the 1950s.

Another newly elected legislator for Action Democratique du Quebec is Francois Corriveau, who is the same age as Dumont. He voted for Quebec sovereignty in the last referendum, in 1995, but now calls for new thinking.
"People in their 30s have lived through all the disappointments of the last 20 years," he says. "We want an end to the quarrels with the federal government."

As a child, Louis Balthazar felt alienated as a French speaker. Store clerks served him in English, movies were in English, people on the streets spoke English.
Now, strolling down Boulevard Rene-Levesque (formerly Dorchester Street) one feels the changes of the past decades: people chatting mostly in French, ordering meals from French menus, renting the latest French movies from video stores.

The French language, cuisine and fashion feel as organic to Montreal as they do to Paris. The bars stay open later and the corner groceries sell wine, much to the delight of visiting teens from the more buttoned-up neighboring province, Ontario.

To Balthazar, a semi-retired political science professor at Laval University, the triumph of French has made the Parti Quebecois "a spent force." The 7.4 million people of Quebec "have a very strong identity and want to be respected," he said in an interview. "But they also want to be part of Canada."

Quebec always contentious

Quebec, well over twice the size of Texas with one-third of the population, has always been a contentious subject: in the 1760s, when the British completed their takeover of what was then called New France; in 1867, when the country of Canada was formed as a dominion under Queen Victoria, and a century later, when French President Charles de Gaulle visited Montreal and electrified the Quebecois with his cry of "Vive le Quebec libre!" -- long live free Quebec.

But try as they might, the separatists have failed in two referendums to muster a majority for independence, even though they have couched their goal in terms of remaining in some form of association with Canada's other nine provinces and three territories.

Quebec's separateness is reflected in many critical ways: Its legal system is based on the Napoleonic Code, while the rest of Canada follows English common law. It raises its own income tax. It sets its own immigration rules, geared to attract French-speakers. And it has a law favoring French over English.

Yet it remains sufficiently embedded in Canada to have produced the three dominant national figures of the past 30 years -- Prime Ministers Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Brian Mulroney, and the present one, Jean Chretien.

Levesque's reign

The struggle over Quebec's future began to sharpen in the late 1960s, when the Parti Quebecois was formed under the leadership of a TV commentator-turned-politician named Rene Levesque, who would go on to rule the province for nine years.

Things reached their low point in 1970 when a shadowy militant group called the Quebec Liberation Front, demanding "total independence," kidnapped and killed Quebec's labor minister, and separately abducted but freed a British diplomat.

In 1977 came the Charter of the French Language, banning the display of signs in English, with language police to enforce the new rules. An exodus of English-speakers followed. The English-speaking population of Quebec, which had been 13.1 percent in 1971, would dwindle to 8.8 percent over the next 25 years.
In 1980, Levesque held the referendum he had promised, but didn't get what he hoped for; Quebec voted 3-2 to stay in Canada.

Fifteen years later, another referendum dealt the separatists a hair's-breadth defeat. Today, sensing that voters are tired of the subject, the up-and-coming Dumont scores points by promising no more referendums for at least five years.

Legal challenges to the constitutionality of the language laws have resulted in compromises whereby bilingual signs are permitted, as long as the French lettering is larger.

James Berlyn is a teacher of children with disabilities and a fourth-generation Scottish-Quebecois-Canadian. He says a half-dozen of his friends moved out in the early 1980s, but nowadays he feels no pressure. "I know just a little French, and it hasn't kept me from working here," he says.

Eardley Dowling is an English-speaking real estate agent living among French-speakers. He also sees a decline in separatist fervor, but still considers the subject too touchy to raise with his neighbors. "That would be explosive," he says. "That would mean the end of the friendship."

Language question persists

Indeed, the sovereignty issue may be on ice, but the language question still flares up regularly.

Three Montreal outlets of "Second Cup," a Canadian coffee shop chain, were fire-bombed in October 2000. A group calling itself the French Self-Defense Brigade claimed responsibility.

But as Lucien Bouchard, Quebec's premier at the time, explained, the law exempts trademarks. A company can't be forced to change its name in order to operate in Quebec, he said. "Wal-Marts exist, Toys R Us exist, and that has not provoked an outcry."

Still, the government remains vigilant. A new law is being enacted to impose more French in the workplace, and lately Quebec Web sites with insufficient French content have been getting warnings. But the number of complaints overall is falling, according to the government's French language office -- 1,686 complaints of non-compliance in 1998-99, but only 992 the following year. The office says this is mainly because companies have learned the signboarding rules.

Language spats still can quickly become causes celebres, as Formula One racer Jacques Villeneuve, a Quebec man, discovered last year when he opened a Montreal nightclub called Newtown, the English translation of his name.

Although the name is legally trademarked, it provoked a dozen complaints to the language office. "You have to see further than your nose," Villeneuve protested at a news conference. "It's a big world. I grew up a lot of the time in Switzerland, where people speak three or four languages and no one gets angry at each other."

Benoit Gignac, son of the beloved Quebec singer Fernand Gignac, told the Montreal Gazette last month that he no longer fears for the French language. "I think the battles we led in the 1960s and 1970s for the French language were extremely salutary," he said. "What has been accomplished is pretty irreversible in the end. The confidence we have gained, we will never lose."

But one campaigner for sovereignty says the battle isn't over. She fears Quebec's low birth rate threatens its culture. Young Quebecois are spoiled, she says; they have never known the humiliation of shopping at an English-owned department store and being snapped at by a sales clerk for speaking French.

In her 60s and doing charity work, she blames past referendum defeats on scare tactics by the federal government. She remembers being warned that if Quebec went independent, the Canadian dollar would weaken to 75 cents to the U.S. dollar. Quebec is still in Canada but the dollar today is down to 66 cents.
Balthazar, the political scientist, cautions against writing off the sovereignty issue.

Dumont, he says, is in tune with the current mood of putting the issue aside but not writing it off. "He keeps sovereignty in his pocket just in case. That's how we have accomplished things and won battles -- by keeping the threat of separation as an option."


Major events in Quebec history

1763: Britain completes its conquest of the French territories of Canada.
1867: British North America Act establishes Canada as a British dominion, gives French and English languages equal status in federal and Quebec parliaments.
1960: Jean Lesage is elected premier of Quebec and adopts a policy called "the Quiet Revolution," seeking cultural and social reform, and autonomy for the province.
1967: Quebec nationalists get a historic boost -- and federal government is infuriated -- when French President Charles de Gaulle, visiting Canada, declares to a crowd in Montreal: "Vive le Quebec libre!" -- long live free Quebec.
1968: Creation of the Parti Quebecois, which absorbs the small independence movements, setting the stage for concerted drive for sovereignty and Canada's prolonged constitutional crisis.
1969: French is made Canada's other official language.
1970: The militant Quebec Liberation Front kidnaps British diplomat James Cross and then Quebec Labor Minister Pierre Laporte, demanding independence. Laporte is found dead; Cross is freed.
1976: Parti Quebecois led by Rene Levesque wins Quebec provincial election, promises to hold a referendum on a plan whereby Quebec would have sovereignty but remain associated with Canada.
1977: Bill 101, Charter of the French Language, becomes Quebec law, with sweeping bans on the use of English. The move triggers an exodus of English-speakers, mostly to neighboring Ontario.
1980: Separatists lose a referendum, with 60 percent voting to stay in Canada.
1990: The Meech Lake Accord, designed to regulate the relationship among the provinces and perhaps settle the Quebec issue for good, collapses after Manitoba and Newfoundland legislatures vote it down.
1995: Federalists again defeat separatists in a Quebec referendum, taking 51 percent of vote.
2001: Lucien Bouchard resigns as Quebec premier, acknowledging failure to rekindle Quebec people's passion for sovereignty.

Filed Sunday, July 21, 2002
This feature story has appeared in major newspapers world-wide including:
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ARCHIVES
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Long trial predicted for "Mafiaboy' hacker
By Phil Couvrette
The Associated Press
Dec. 8, 2000

MONTREAL (AP) _ The trial of a 16-year-old computer hacker accused of paralyzing major Web sites of CNN, Yahoo! and Amazon.com in February could last six months because of the technical evidence, his lawyer said Friday.

At a court hearing for the suspect, who cannot be named under Canadian law but is known by his computer nickname Mafiaboy, Judge Gilles Ouellette scheduled another hearing for Dec. 13 on whether a pre-conference meeting should take place to speed up the process.

The youth stood with his hands cuffed behind his back throughout Friday's 15-minute court appearance. He wore a black T-shirt adorned with a dragon draped in a U.S. flag and said nothing.

Police rearrested the youth on Dec. 1 for violating conditions of his release from custody after being charged in April with more than 60 counts of computer hacking and mischief. He has pleaded innocent to the charges, which involve the temporary disabling of Web sites by bombarding them with messages.

If convicted, he could spend up to two years in a juvenile detention center. An adult convicted of the same charges would face up to 10 years in prison.

After his initial arrest, the youth was allowed to live at home under strict conditions that included staying away from computers, attending school and keeping out of trouble.

He was taken back into custody for being suspended from school, cutting classes, arguing with teachers and other disciplinary problems.

His lawyer, Yan Romanowski, said Friday the stress of the criminal case was a factor in the youth's problems at school.

He said he would file an appeal to the youth's continued detention next week. The trial would last from three to six months, Romanowski said, because "it will be very technical, there will be many witnesses in a field which is very technical."

The hacking case in February raised concern worldwide about the vulnerability of major Web sites as dependence on the Internet for communication and commerce increases.

Police say Mafiaboy crippled the Web sites by bombarding them with thousands of simultaneous messages. Prosecutors also allege he broke into several computers, mostly at U.S. universities, and used them to launch the attack against the Web sites.
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Proposed Montreal Merger Unites City
By Phil Couvrette
The Associated Press
Dec. 12, 2000

MONTREAL (AP) _ In the heart of an often uneasy bilingual city, French and English speakers are fighting fiercely for their turf - but not against each other

They are united against a plan to merge their 26 communities - which are in the middle of the city on Montreal Island but have their own governments - with the rest of Montreal.

An estimated 70,000 sign-waving, chanting people _ some bused in from other parts of Quebec and even Ontario _ clogged downtown streets on Sunday in a show of force against a proposed provincial law that would permit such municipal amalgamation.

``Hands off our city" read signs, in French and English in the world's second-largest French-speaking city, as whistles screeched and parka-clad protesters marched. Some carried upside down Quebec flags, a dig at the separatist provincial government that is pushing the plan.  

Demonstrators expressed a range of reasons for braving the freezing temperatures, all based on the same basic concern _ a loss of autonomy. Municipalities dating back more than a century would disappear administratively, making beloved town crests and flags obsolete, while local services such as trash collection would come under the bigger and presumably less efficient Montreal administration.

"I've never demonstrated about anything in my life, but I have a personal attachment to my city," said Annie Drolet of Outremont, considered the home of much of Montreal's French-speaking intelligentsia. "My parents have always lived here, and I know that if I want something done I can just walk up to town hall and be heard."

Other cited what they called a heavy-handed approach by the provincial government.

``I'm not here against forced mergers but in favor of democracy," said Jean-Francois Laforge of Sainte Foy, who accused authorities of acting without consulting the people. ``I would have preferred to have stayed at home playing with my kids than to come freeze myself here. But after awhile we have to stand up and say society exists for individuals and not vice versa."

It was the largest demonstration since a 1995 anti-separatist rally a few days before the last referendum on Quebec sovereignty.

Jean Charest, who heads the Liberal Party in Quebec's provincial politics, organized the 1995 federalist rally and also was present on Sunday. He hopes the issue can help his Liberals topple the Parti Quebecois in the next provincial election, expected in 2002 or 2003.

"The government has no mandate to do this," Charest said. ``Why didn't they mention this during the last election?"

The mega-merger issue was considered one of several reasons that the separatist cause fared poorly in last month's national election won by the federal Liberal Party. The province's separatist party at the national level, the Bloc Quebecois, lost the popular vote in Quebec to Prime Minister Jean Chretien's Liberal Party and barely managed to match the Liberals' 38 Parliament seats.  

Under the plan, the 26 boroughs on Montreal Island, the heart of the city, would be merged into one administration. A final decision by the provincial legislature on the law enabling the consolidation was expected next week.

Similar plans also have begun for Quebec City and Hull, across the Ottawa River from the federal capital in neighboring Ontario.

The reasons are the same for any municipal merger _ streamlining levels of government to reduce costs and consolidate power. In Montreal, the amalgamation would increase the city's population by 500,000 to 1.8 million.

Mayor Pierre Bourque, who spent Sunday collecting signatures at town hall for a pro-merger petition, said the public feared change.

"They have privileges they're afraid to lose," he said of the protesters. "People always resist change. This is good in a way, it is democracy. People have to express themselves in the debate, but the government is right to do what it is doing."

Mary Deros, a member of the Montreal city government, recalled the bureaucratic walls she faced when she lived in Outremont on a street that forms the border with Montreal proper.

``An invisible barrier was set up where I could go to the swimming pools in Outremont but could not bring somebody who lived on the other side of the street," Deros said. "It's the best thing that could happen to Montreal, to unify everybody."
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Split Among Quebec Separatists
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Dec. 21, 2000

MONTREAL (AP) _ A hardline separatist's comments criticizing Jews has revealed a political split in Quebec's governing Parti Quebecois, which wants sovereignty for the province.

Yves Michaud, 70, who wants to run as the party's candidate in a by-election next year in a francophone district of Montreal, was condemned by the provincial legislature last week for his statement on a radio show perceived as trivializing the Holocaust.

Michaud said on the program that Jews seemed to believe they were "the only people in the world to have suffered in the history of humankind." He also described a major Jewish organization as "anti-Quebecois."

His comments rekindled a sensitive issue in Quebec _ alleged intolerance by Quebec separatists for minority populations that tend to oppose sovereignty.

After the last failed sovereignty referendum in 1995, former premier Jacques Parizeau blamed the loss on ``money and the ethnic vote," a statement considered a major reason for his failure to retain his position.

Michaud's comments drew a quick condemnation from Premier Lucien Bouchard, the Parti Quebecois leader, who engineered the condemnation by the legislature and also said he would oppose having Michaud run as a party candidate.

"I don't believe you can make these remarks in any democracy, when we know what a genocide was," Bouchard said.

Allies of Michaud responded that a legislative rebuke was improper, as Michaud lacked membership in the chamber. Parizeau and other prominent sovereigntists took out a full-page newspaper ad to support Michaud, calling the assembly's motion ``a serious attack on the rights and liberties of citizens."

The dispute follows a poor showing by separatists in last month's federal election. The Bloc Quebecois, the national party representing the interests of Quebec separatists, lost six seats in the federal Parliament and finished second to the governing Liberal Party in the popular vote.

Bouchard has said he intended to hold another referendum before his term as Quebec premier expires in 2003, but the decision against pushing for a vote next year angered hardline separatists in the Parti Quebecois.

Another measure opposed by some separatists _ allowing for separate boroughs or municipalities in Montreal, Quebec City and Hull to be amalgamated into a single city administration _ was pushed through the legislature on Wednesday by Bouchard, who cut off debate.

Now what is being called the "Michaud affair" has hardline separatists questioning if Bouchard is too soft on the separation issue.

"I am asking myself serious questions right now about (Bouchard's) leadership," said Andre Reny, president of the Parti Quebecois association in the district where Michaud wants to represent the party.

Bouchard remains unmoved about any threat to his leadership by the dispute.

"Actually, I think I'm now fulfilling my duty as leader of this party," he said Wednesday. "What would we tell the world if a political party that carries the torch of Quebec sovereignty - that wants to build a democratic nation – has, in its discourse, intolerance and attacks on ethnic citizens of Quebec?"
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Quebec Premier Resigns
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, Jan. 11, 2001

QUEBEC –– Lucien Bouchard announced his resignation as Quebec premier Thursday, citing his inability to gain independence for Canada's Francophone province and amid impatience by hard-liners at his cautious approach.

Bouchard said he would remain in his post until a successor could be chosen. That was expected to take several weeks.

He made the announcement after holding emergency meetings of his Cabinet and the Parti Quebecois caucus in the Quebec legislature.

In his resignation statement, Bouchard, speaking in French, said his role as premier and Parti Quebecois leader was to bring sovereignty to the province.

"The results of my work are not very convincing," he said, later adding: "I assume all of the responsibility which is mine because I did not manage to relight the flame and to sensitize our citizens to the gravity of the situation."

A champion of the Quebec sovereignty cause who led the campaign that barely failed to win a 1995 referendum on the matter, Bouchard, 62, has faced heavy criticism from Parti Quebecois hard-liners who wanted him to push more strongly for holding another sovereignty vote.

While saying he wanted another sovereignty referendum before his term as premier expired in 2003, Bouchard also has repeatedly insisted that "winning conditions" must exist, including a stable provincial economy and strong public support.

With opinion polls showing dwindling support for another referendum, Bouchard decided to get out of politics to work privately and be with his wife and two young sons.

Bouchard lost a leg to flesh-eating disease in 1994, but his health was not considered a factor in his resignation.

Brian Tobin, the industry minister in Prime Minister Jean Chretien's federal government, said reduced support for the separatist Bloc Quebecois in the November national election might have played a role.

"I don't think it is realistic to believe the goal of sovereignty can be achieved in the next few years," Tobin said. "Does Mr. Bouchard's leaving reflect that reality? Perhaps."

Bouchard's spokeswoman, Christiane Miville-Deschenes, called the announcement "an emotional moment for everyone."

"There comes a time when every politician has to reflect on his future and he did that during the holidays," she said, adding that Bouchard informed colleagues of his decision last week.

Bouchard took over leadership of the Parti Quebecois shortly after separatist forces barely lost the 1995 sovereignty referendum. In 1998 provincial elections, the party held onto power despite winning only 43 percent of the popular vote, giving Bouchard a five-year term as premier.

His resignation leaves the Parti Quebecois in disarray, with no clear candidate to succeed one of the province's most popular politicians. It was unclear what effect the resignation would have on the separatist cause. Hard-liners angered by Bouchard's caution could rally around it as a victory for a more aggressive policy on sovereignty and protecting the French language.

In the national election in November, the Bloc Quebecois – the separatist party in the federal government – lost six seats from the 44 it held in the previous Parliament and finished second to the Liberal Party in the popular vote.

Bouchard angered Parti Quebecois hard-liners in December by announcing his government would not allocate funds for the sovereignty cause in 2001. That deepened a split in the Parti Quebecois that was further exacerbated when hard-line separatists rallied behind a potential party candidate who made controversial comments about Jews.

Yves Michaud, 70, said on a radio show in December that Jews seemed to believe they were "the only people in the world to have suffered in the history of humankind." He also described a major Jewish organization as "anti-Quebecois."

His comments rekindled a sensitive issue in Quebec – alleged intolerance by separatists for minority populations who tend to oppose sovereignty.

Bouchard engineered a condemnation of the comments by the Quebec legislature and said he would oppose Michaud's running as a party candidate. That brought complaints from some hard-liners who have taken out full-page ads in Quebec newspapers criticizing the legislative rebuke against someone outside the chamber.
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Computer Hacker Enters Guilty Plea
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, Jan. 18, 2001

MONTREAL –– A teen-age computer hacker accused of crippling several major Internet sites including CNN, Yahoo and Amazon.com, pleaded guilty on Thursday to 56 charges of mischief.

The trial of the 16-year-old Montrealer known as "Mafiaboy" had been set to begin Thursday on 66 charges relating to attacks last year on major Web sites as well as security breaches of sites at institutions such as Yale and Harvard universities.

The court had just convened when prosecutor Louis Miville-Deschenes announced that the youth had pleaded guilty to most of the charges.

The youth, who cannot be identified under Canadian law, sat in silence while his attorney, Yan Romanowski, changed his plea on most of the charges. The plea avoids a trial that was expected to last three to six months. The other charges were withdrawn.

The teen-ager, who dropped out of high school after he was charged, was freed pending sentencing. In the meantime, he must stay away from computers, observe a 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. daily curfew, and show up at his restaurant job.

The judge of Quebec youth court set April 17 and 18 for pre-sentence arguments on the penalty. The youngster faces a possible sentence of up to two years in juvenile detention.

The prosecutor, Miville-Deschenes, told reporters that wiretapped phone conversations and computer intercepts proved Mafiaboy's role "beyond a reasonable doubt."

"He bragged that the FBI was not even closing in and would never arrest him. He made it clear through his own conversations that he was responsible for the attacks," the prosecutor said.

The teen-ager was first arrested on two mischief charges last April after someone calling himself Mafiaboy crippled CNN's Web site last February.

Ten counts of mischief related to "denial-of-service" attacks on the Web sites, including those run by Yahoo! Inc., Amazon.com Inc., eBay Inc., and Dell Computer Corp. The sites were bombarded with thousands of simultaneous messages, which prevented legitimate users from accessing them.

The remaining charges dealt with hacking into computers, many of them located at U.S. universities.

In comments in court documents, Canadian police investigator Marc Gosselin acknowledged U.S. help in tracking down the hacker.

"The attacks occurred between Feb. 6 and 14 2000. We were informed and received an assistance request by the FBI on the 14th. Two days later we identified the residence at the source of the attacks," said Canadian investigator Marc Gosselin.

After his arrest in April, U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno praised the joint U.S.-Canadian investigation that led to the arrest and called it a signal for hackers to beware.

The FBI said field offices in five U.S. cities are participated in the search for the suspect, and the agecy also contacted several known computer hackers, known by their online nicknames, about the attacks.
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Authors Support 16-Year-Old Writer  
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2001

OTTAWA –– A 16-year-old boy expelled from school after he read a threatening story he wrote in class has become a symbol of free expression among Canada's literary community.

The case has attracted national attention, with heavy media coverage focusing on the month the boy spent in jail after he read his story about a bullied teen-ager who plans to blow up his school to his 11th grade classmates.

The teen, who cannot be identified under Canadian law, was released on $6,775 bail on condition he stay off the Internet, only go out with adult supervision and stay at least three miles from his former school.

Of four charges against the youth, only one involves the story he read in class, entitled "Twisted." The other three concern alleged threats he uttered to schoolmates.

Top authors Margaret Atwood ("The Handmaid's Tale"), Michael Ondaatje ("The English Patient") and others have rallied around the youth, appearing Sunday at a forum called "Artists for Freedom of Speech," in a show of support.

Atwood, Ondaatje and others called for vigilance in preventing repression of free speech.

Atwood gave the teen "First Words," a book of childhood writings from authors including Michael Crichton, Gore Vidal, Norman Mailer and John Updike. Inside she wrote, "Good luck."

"One thing writers do feel they know how to do is ... they know how to read and they know how to read between the lines," she said. "And reading between the lines of this story is quite another story. I think that is why we are here."

Another student from the youth's school, however, criticized the forum.

"The whole case has been blown out of proportion," said George Bonkowsky, 16, who attended as part of a three-member group calling themselves Voice of Reason. "Everybody's concentrating on the monologue. It should be about the alleged threats he made. They have been misinformed."

Originally, the boy was supposed to read "Twisted" at the gathering, but said he decided not to because of fear "it would inflame the situation."

The teen, who has a minor speech impediment, says he was bullied because of the way he spoke. He was reportedly attacked by at least five students shortly before he read "Twisted" in class.

"There's this boy who's been harassed and tortured all his life until he was at the brink of insanity and sanity," the story says, describing how the boy straps explosives to his body.

After he read it at Tagwi Secondary high school in Cornwall, Ontario, students began asking if he intended to do the same as the boy in the story, the teen said.

His teacher notified school authorities, and police arrested him before Christmas. He remained in jail for a month until bail was posted. Since the arrest, his 14-year-old brother has also been arrested on a charge of making threats.

Writers organizations say the case raises freedom of expression issues, and a criminal lawyer has agreed to represent the boy for free.

"As concerns over violence in our schools grows, we need to offer creative, nonviolent alternatives," said Sean Wilson, the Artistic Director of the Ottawa International Writers Festival, which organized the forum. "I can't think of a healthier response to bullying than a short story."
Ondaatje told the audience of about 250 people that writing enabled him to escape a troubled childhood.

"I see myself as someone who was saved by writing," he said.

Another author, Tim Wynne-Jones, decided against appearing at the rally, calling the case "a lot more complex" than a freedom of expression issue.

The Ontario Secondary High School Teacher's Federation also criticized the event, saying the youth's teacher recognized his story "might represent more than just the true creativity of a student, but might in fact be a hidden cry for help."
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Sacre Bleu! Habs Sold to American
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Jan. 31, 2001

MONTREAL –– First there was the death of Maurice Richard, the revered Rocket who epitomized the Francophone flavor and flair of the Montreal Canadiens.

Then came a second straight season out of the Stanley Cup playoffs for a team that has won hockey's top prize a record 24 times.

Now Montrealers face perhaps the cruelest blow, symbolizing all they dislike about the direction in which the NHL has taken Canada's national game as the 21st century dawns.

The sport's most storied franchise now belongs – Sacre bleu!– to an American.

Molson Inc. sold 80 percent of the club and all of the Molson Centre on Wednesday to Colorado businessman George Gillett for $183 million.

Brewery president and chief executive officer Daniel O'Neill assured local fans the team will stay in Montreal. But he also said no offers came from any Canadian company or individual.

Still, the mere thought of an American owner vexes the Canadiens' faithful, who have seen Les Habs become the Hab-Nots.

After another recent loss that kept the Canadiens in last place in their division, with fewer points than even the expansion Minnesota Wild, fans departing the Molson Centre grumbled about the inevitability of change.

Jean Lapierre, walking with his wife beneath the enormous poster of Rocket Richard – who died last year – on the side of the arena, described the dilemma: He wanted owners with money to build a championship team, but he didn't want them to be American.

"We're talking about the Mecca of hockey," he said. "But the team needs new star players."
Without any immediate hope for improvement, he said, he would cancel the season tickets he's held for 15 years.

"I would prefer a Canadian owner but it's all about the money now," said Joey Romano, another fan who wore a winter hat with a Canadiens' emblem on the front.

Romano acknowledged that NHL franchises based in Canada need help to keep up with U.S. adversaries.

"It's a competitive game now. The team could really use a tax break and owners ready to spend money," he said, conceding that such a combination seemed unlikely in Montreal.

The difficulties facing NHL franchises in Canada are well known, starting with contracts that require payment to players in much stronger U.S. dollars. That means every dollar of income generated by Canadian franchises in ticket sales, television rights and other sources is worth only two-thirds of each dollar paid in salaries to players.

Last year, the Canadian government announced a tax-relief plan for Canadian-based NHL franchises that required provincial and local authorities to also help out.

The plan collapsed within days, partly due to public opposition over spending tax money on millionaire hockey players and club owners.

Molson announced last year it planned to sell controlling interest in the Canadiens. It said it would retain a minority interest and also signed a 20-year, $100 million agreement to remain as the principal sponsor.

Molson spokesman John Paul Macdonald said the sale was part of a broader strategy to unload non-brewing interests, and that the company "has not had any significant response (from the public), one way or another, during the sale process."

With this sale, all three of Montreal's major sports teams – the Canadiens, baseball's Expos and the Alouettes of the Canadian Football League – are owned by Americans.

The biggest fear – the hockey club's move from Montreal – was quickly addressed. Canadiens President Pierre Boivin spoke of the franchise being "part of the historical and social fabric of Montreal and the province of Quebec" when the team was put up for sale, and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman recently said: "The Canadians aren't going anywhere."

He called the possibility akin to an Ohio buyer moving the New York Yankees to Columbus.

Outside the arena bearing the Molson name, which replaced the fabled Forum as home of the Canadiens in 1996, Jim McLaren offered a broader view of the issue.

"It kind of bothers people they (new owners) have to be American. You have to be concerned about American culture taking over," said the Ottawa resident who drives 90 miles each way a half-dozen times a year to see the Canadiens play at home.

McLaren, though, knows that victories and championships on the ice mean more than nationality in the owner's office.

"The bottom line is nobody wants a losing team," he said.
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Canadiens Sold to Colo. Businessman
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2001; 5:09 p.m. EST

MONTREAL –– Uh-oh, Canada. An American is the new owner of the Montreal Canadiens.
George Gillett signed the papers Wednesday to become majority owner of the most storied team in professional hockey.

Now he must convince Canadians that he's not their worst nightmare – an American owner who will take the NHL's most successful franchise south of the border.

Gillett wore a Canadiens tie and pin at the center-ice news conference Wednesday announcing the $183 million deal to buy an 80.1 percent stake from Molson Inc. and the Molson Center arena where the team plays.

He then promised to return the "grandeur of this team" that has won 24 Stanley Cups and epitomized the French-Canadian pride and flair in hockey.

"Our vision is to restore the franchise as the greatest team in hockey," Gillett said, insisting that the agreement and the NHL served as significant safeguards against any possible move.

"We want to work with the fans and we want to work in harmony with the Montreal community," he said.

That was the small dose of good news in a story many Canadians awaited with dread. While other Canadian-based franchises have moved to the United States, the loss of the Canadiens would tear the social fabric of a nation that embraces hockey as the natural expression of its combination of grace, ruggedness and competitive spirit.

"The Canadiens will remain in Montreal," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. "I could conceive of no condition under which a relocation of the franchise would even be considered."

Just having an American own the franchise, even with guarantees it won't move anywhere, rankles many Canadiens already distrustful of the direction the NHL has taken the sport.

They complain that only six of the 30 NHL teams are based in Canada, and at least two others besides the Canadiens have warned of a possible sale – and move – in recent years.

Canadian-based clubs pay higher local taxes than U.S.-based clubs, and players get paid in U.S. dollars, while revenue from ticket sales, broadcast rights and other sources comes in weaker Canadian dollars.

Sitting with former teammates Yvan Cournoyer and Guy Lafleur, Hall of Fame center Henri Richard said economic reality dictated the sale.

The Canadiens "will stay in Montreal forever. I'm sure of that. But the money is in the States. They're all paid in U.S. dollars," he said. "It's kind of sad, but there's not much you can do about that."

The City of Montreal provided a helping hand on Wednesday, cutting the $7.3 million annual local tax bill by more than $2.6 million.

Molson President Daniel O'Neill and Gillett called the reduction an important part of the deal, though O'Neill noted: "It's still one of, if not the highest tax bill in the country."

Asked why he would want such an investment, Gillett spoke of the chance to be part of a special franchise that has won a record two dozen Stanley Cups.

"Know that my family and I are assuming this responsibility with great seriousness, with great humility and with tremendous respect for the history and tradition that makes this perhaps the greatest sports franchise in history," he said.

The deal still requires NHL approval, which could take a month or longer to secure.

Molson Inc., the brewing giant that took over the franchise in 1978, made keeping the Canadiens in Montreal a requirement of any sale.

O'Neill said the company retained a special share with its 19.9 percent stake in the franchise to block any move. He also said Gillett showed him a genuine desire to rebuild the franchise, which has missed the Stanley Cup playoffs the past two seasons and is danger of doing so again this year.

"He recognizes this is not simply any team," O'Neill said of Gillett. "This is ... a very special organization, a great history and part of a great Canadian heritage. We are entrusting him with this treasure and I feel comfortable he will deliver."

O'Neill also noted that a lack of legitimate offers from any Canadian company or individual eliminated questions about selling to an American.

Gillett has an up-and-down career in business, at one point heading the fourth largest ski-resort operator in the United States and owning a major beef-processing company.

He also endured personal bankruptcy in 1992 after his holding company, Gillett Holdings Inc., defaulted on $983 million U.S. of junk bonds. Last year he led a failed attempt to buy the Colorado Avalanche.

A native of Racine, Wisconsin, he describes himself as "a sports fanatic since childhood."
He briefly held a 22 percent stake in the Miami Dolphins in 1966, and bought and operated the Harlem Globetrotters in 1967. He also launched a chain of TV stations through Gillett Communications Co.
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Blair Defends Airstrikes Vs. Iraq
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, Feb. 22, 2001; 8:34 p.m. EST

OTTAWA –– Heading to his first meeting with President Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair used a stopover in Canada to defend his decision to join in U.S.-led airstrikes against Iraq.

The 24-hour visit – Blair's first to Canada as prime minister – gave him a chance to discuss the new U.S. president with Jean Chretien, the Canadian leader who met with Bush earlier this month.
Blair said last week's airstrikes were needed to prevent Baghdad from re-emerging as a threat to world peace.

"The reason why we have to act is to prevent him (Saddam Hussein) from developing the capability to threaten the world again," Blair said after a one-hour meeting with Chretien on Thursday.

Blair indicated there was sufficient provocation for the bombing raids, saying Iraqi forces launched more attacks on allied planes in January "than in all of the year 2000 put together."

Blair arrived here Wednesday, his first visit as prime minister. He was traveling to Washington Thursday night for meetings with Bush and talks on security and defense. Blair returns to London on Saturday.

Blair withheld comment on Thursday on Bush's goal of creating a missile defense shield for North America. Russia, China and some European countries have opposed the idea.

Chretien said Thursday he hoped Bush would heed the concerns of countries that the shield would cause a new arms race.

In a speech to Canada's Parliament, Blair called for better trade relations between his country and North America.

"Despite ever closer links, our trade relations have become bedeviled by disputes over issues like beef and bananas," Blair said.
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Landry Sworn in As Quebec Premier

The Associated Press
Thursday, March 8, 2001; 5:03 p.m. EST

QUEBEC –– Outspoken separatist Bernard Landry became the new premier of Quebec on Thursday, and his leadership was expected to reinvigorate a sovereignty movement that has slid into apathy.

Landry was sworn in as premier in the same room in the provincial parliament in Quebec City where his predecessor, Lucien Bouchard, announced his surprise resignation in January.
Bouchard said then he was unable to spur support for the separatist movement and Quebec sovereignty.

Landry, who succeeded Bouchard as head of the Parti Quebecois that governs Quebec, has turned to bold rhetoric to try breathe new life into the movement.

"I want to be the last premier to devote so much energy to trying to resolve the national question," he said last week, hinting at intentions to call another referendum on sovereignty despite two defeats and opinion polls that show most people oppose a third vote.

Landry says Quebec seeks a "partnership" with Canada similar to that shared by members of the European Union.

"Quebec is a nation just like Sweden, or Denmark or Scotland," he said recently.

Still, analysts said his bold statements were attempts to galvanize the core party support in his bid to succeed Bouchard, rather than a certain signal of another referendum.

Speaking so much about sovereignty is "for internal (party) consumption," said veteran columnist and political analyst Michel Auger. "The (Parti Quebecois) is talking about sovereignty a lot under Landry, knowing it has little echo in the people."

Landry's aggressive style might be intended to provoke a confrontation with the federal government, headed by the Liberal Party and Prime Minister Jean Chretien. Last year, the governing Liberals forced through a bill that set tough conditions for holding a sovereignty referendum and negotiating separation from the rest of Canada.

"The sovereigntist dynamic today is missing the provocation, the issue it needs to help justify having a referendum," said Jean-Marc Leger, president of Leger Marketing. "Landry's real battle is ... against the apathy" of Quebec residents.

Landry was born in Joliette in Quebec, which was formerly Saint-Jacques, and studied law at the University of Montreal and economics and finance at the Institut d'etudes politiques in Paris.
A founder of the Parti Quebecois with Rene Levesque in 1968, Landry has held various top Cabinet posts. He was economic development minister from 1976-82, and was the finance minister when he lost a bid to succeed Levesque as party leader in 1985. Landry was appointed deputy premier in September 1994. Sixteen months later, he added on the finance minister portfolio.

Before taking office, Landry already was complaining that the federal government was trying to prevent him from addressing the Summit of the Americas, a gathering of 34 heads of state in Quebec City in April.

"Decisions are not being made in Quebec or in Ottawa but at the international level where the federal government represents us," he said. "Democracy is getting further away from us."
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Boxer Convicted in Sex Abuse Case
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Friday, March 16, 2001; 12:27 p.m. EST

MONTREAL –– World champion boxer Dave Hilton Jr. was convicted Friday of charges he sexually abused two young sisters for three years.

Judge Rolande Matte, who made the ruling in the non-jury trial, said the girls' testimony was credible and called much of the defense's testimony confusing. She said Hilton had a "talent for improvisation."

"I disbelieve the testimony of the accused," Matte said.

There was no reaction from the 37-year-old Hilton when the verdict was read. He was denied bail and is to return April 19 for sentencing arguments. He could get up to 14 years in prison.

Hilton, the WBC super middleweight champion, was charged with nine sex-related counts after he was arrested in April 1999. The abuse was said to have begun when each of the girls was 12 and lasted from 1995 to 1998.

The charges included sexual assault, sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching.
Hilton had been forced by a court order to live in an alcohol detoxification center.

Defense lawyer Paul Skolnik had derided the accusations of the sisters as a "fantastic frame-up" to try to get money from Hilton.

Hilton testified that nothing sexual occurred over a period of several years when he was close to the girls and their mother.

Hilton, 39-2-3 in his pro career, won his championship in December in a split decision over South Africa's Dingaan Thobela in Montreal. The WBC has said it wouldn't strip Hilton's title until the appeals process has been exhausted.

The trial attracted large crowds every day, with fans clamoring for autographs and photos with the boxer, one of three brothers from a well-known Montreal boxing family.
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Canada Cracks Down On Hell's Angels
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, March 28, 2001; 8:15 p.m. EST

MONTREAL –– Police raided Hells Angels hangouts across Quebec on Wednesday, arresting more than 100 suspects in a major crackdown on alleged organized crime by biker gangs.

The raids began around dawn, and a force of more than 2,000 police had taken 118 people into custody in Quebec by mid-afternoon, said provincial police spokesman Andre Durocher. Two other suspects were arrested as a result of three raids in Ontario and British Columbia, police said.

"We're talking about the most important operation of this kind that we've ever had," Durocher said.

One of the sites raided was the home of Maurice "Mom" Boucher, the Hells Angels leader in Quebec who is in custody awaiting trial on two first-degree murder charges involving the deaths of two prison guards.

Warrants issued in connection with the raids leveled 13 more murder charges against Boucher and three charges of attempted murder. Another warrant charged his son, Francois Boucher, with murder in eight of the same deaths. It was unclear whether Francois Boucher was in custody.

Quebec's public security minister, Serge Menard, said scores of the estimated 106 full members of the Hells Angels in the province were arrested. Police seized assets worth $5 million, including seven homes and $333,000 in cash, he said.

Durocher said suspects faced a range of charges including murder, conspiracy to commit murder, drug trafficking and gangsterism.

Cpl. Leo Monbourquette of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said the operation would affect affiliated biker operations in Ontario and Western Canada.

"We've got charges pending against everyone from the top all the way down to the bottom," he said.

The raids were part of an escalating battle by Canadian police against biker gangs that police say have become networks involved in drug trafficking and other crime.

Police say drug-trade turf wars between the Hells Angels and a rival group, the Rock Machine, are blamed for at least 158 murders, 169 attempted murders and the disappearances of 16 other people.

Federal laws that make it illegal to belong to an organized crime gang have been used to convict four Rock Machine members, and 13 members of the Hells Angels are on trial in a similar case.

The Rock Machine recently joined the Texas-based Bandidos, expanding Canada's biker rivalry.
Police believe the Hells Angels have six Quebec chapters and the Bandidos two chapters. In addition, less powerful gangs working with the Hells Angels or Bandidos handle tasks such as collecting money from drug dealers, according to police.

Bikers from the puppet gangs become Angels or Bandidos only after several years of earning trust and building drug rings of their own, police say.
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No Agreement on global warming among America's ministers
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Friday, March 30, 2001

MONTREAL - Environment ministers from 34 Western Hemisphere nations including the United States and Canada were unable to agree on a common stance regarding global warming, according to their statement Friday.

After two days of meetings that followed the U.S. government's rejection this week of the Kyoto Protocol, the statement said: ''There was not full consensus on this issue among ministers of the Hemisphere.''

Christine Whitman, head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, attended Thursday's talks but left before the final session on Friday. Whitman said Thursday that the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which requires nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, was ''deeply flawed.''

She said U.S. President George W. Bush remained committed to working with other nations to combat global warming, but refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

Other ministers at the meeting said Friday there was debate on the matter, which involves a disagreement between the United States and European nations over how the Kyoto agreement would be implemented.

David Anderson, the Canadian environment minister, said European inflexibility caused the collapse of talks last November in The Hague on implementing the Kyoto Protocol.

Anderson said he would push for further discussion on the issue to try to preserve the treaty.

This week's meeting involved the environment ministers from every country of North, Central and South America except Cuba. It was considered a preparatory gathering for the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Quebec City, when leaders of the same countries will discuss expanding the North American Free Trade Agreement to include Central and South America.
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Veteran of IOC eyes top job
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Monday, April 2, 2001

MONTREAL (AP) -- Dick Pound has done almost everything there is to do in the Olympic movement -- from swimming in the 1960 Rome Games to serving as a top official of the International Olympic Committee.

The only step left would be to succeed Juan Antonio Samaranch when the longtime IOC president steps down in July. Pound scheduled a news conference Monday in which he is considered certain to announce his candidacy.

The Montreal lawyer, who turned 59 last week, has an unmatched resume in IOC experience compared to his known and expected rivals. Some of that experience might have created enemies, though, and the race is considered tight less than four months before the IOC votes in Moscow.

Other announced contenders are Jacques Rogge of Belgium, Anita DeFrantz of the United States and Pal Schmitt of Hungary. Kim Un-yong of South Korea is expected to join the race Tuesday. The deadline to declare candidacies to succeed Samaranch, the IOC president for 21 years, is April 10.

Pound has become one of the most powerful figures in the Olympic movement as the man who negotiates the IOC's multimillion-dollar television and sponsorship deals. He was IOC vice president to Samaranch from 1996-2000, and became chairman of the new World Anti-Doping Agency.

Pound also headed the IOC investigation of the bribery scandal surrounding next year's Salt Lake City Games that resulted in 10 IOC members being expelled or resigning.

``Nothing I do on the IOC is done with a view of becoming president,'' he once told the Toronto Star. ``There are a load of things I wouldn't have done if that were the case.''

Pound's first Olympic experience was more than four decades ago when he swam on the Canadian team in Rome, finishing sixth in the 100-meter freestyle and fourth in the team relay.

He joined the Canadian Olympic Association in 1968 and became its president in 1977. He was on the IOC the next year, and five years later made the executive committee.

One of his first tasks was to negotiate the sale of television rights for the Olympics. The deals he arranged are considered crucial to the growth of the movement, with the rights to the 2004 Games in Athens selling for $1.6 billion.

A married father of three children and two stepchildren, Pound speaks French and English.

Rogge, an orthopedic surgeon and former sailor, is president of the European Olympic Committees. He was the IOC's point man for the 2000 Sydney Games and now oversees planning for Athens 2004.

DeFrantz, a former rower and the IOC's first vice president, is the highest-ranking American and woman in international sports. She would be the IOC's first female president.

Schmitt, a fencing gold medalist in 1968 and 1972, cites 18 years' experience on the IOC -- including eight years on the executive board -- and seven years as Hungary's ambassador to Spain and Switzerland.

Kim is a longtime IOC power broker who received a serious warning by Pound's investigation of the Salt Lake City scandal. Kim's son was indicted by U.S. authorities in the Salt Lake City case.
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Dick Pound Seeks IOC Presidency
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Monday, April 2, 2001; 3:54 p.m. EDT

MONTREAL –– Dick Pound entered the race Monday to be IOC president, saying he had unmatched credentials and urging colleagues to maintain the course that has brought the Olympics unparalleled success.

The long-expected announcement made the Montreal lawyer the fourth contender for the IOC vote. A final candidate is to enter the race Tuesday, one week before the deadline.

The International Olympic Committee votes July 16 in Moscow on a successor to Juan Antonio Samaranch, who is stepping down after 21 years in one of the most powerful jobs in sports.

Pound said his background as an Olympic athlete and key administrator were reasons IOC members should vote for him.

"In short, I believe my experience provides a unique background from which to move forward," he told a news conference attended by a dozen Canadian Olympic athletes.

The crowd stood and applauded when he concluded by speaking of the "great honor" and "great privilege" if elected by the IOC.

Other announced contenders are Jacques Rogge of Belgium, Anita DeFrantz of the United States and Pal Schmitt of Hungary. Kim Un-yong of South Korea is expected to join the race Tuesday.

With about 120 members eligible to vote, the candidate with the lowest support goes out after each ballot until one person achieves a majority.

Pound, who turned 59 last week, has a strong Olympic resume. Some of that experience might have created enemies, though, and the race is considered tight.

Pound negotiated the IOC's multimillion-dollar television and sponsorship deals that helped the IOC regain economic stability and the opportunity for growth.

He served as IOC vice president, the last term expiring last year, and became chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency. He also led the IOC investigation of the bribery scandal surrounding next year's Salt Lake City Games that resulted in 10 IOC members being expelled or resigning.

In a document, "Vision for the Olympic Movement," released with his announcement, Pound outlined goals that included promoting the Olympics as the world's premier sporting event. He repeatedly mentioned the need to reach out to the world's youth throughout.

Pound also called for a "comprehensive assessment" of the Olympics, including their size and financial structure, and played to the voting IOC members by promising to enhance their "status, importance and role" in their home countries and internationally. That would include financial assistance "where required," the document said.

Pound praised Samaranch for transforming the Olympics from being "fragmented" and "chronically underfunded" to a "united, universal and well-funded movement."

Pound's first Olympic experience was more than four decades ago when he swam on the Canadian team in Rome, finishing sixth in the 100-meter freestyle and fourth in the team relay.

He joined the Canadian Olympic Association in 1968 and became its president in 1977. He was on the IOC the next year, and five years later made the executive committee.
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Protest Planned at Canadian Summit
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, April 17, 2001; 2:10 a.m. EDT

QUEBEC –– Two lines of people square off, shoving and grunting in a human tug-of-war that turns faces red and sweaty. Expletives fill the hall, attracting a security guard holding a walkie-talkie up to his mouth.

This time, it's only a rehearsal. Activist Philippe Duhamel is showing about 40 people of all ages and backgrounds what to expect when they come to protest at the Summit of the Americas.

"If you can't deal with the possibility of getting arrested and the idea of a criminal record, don't join the movement," Duhamel told the workshop on protest methods, held by groups organizing demonstrations at the weekend gathering of 34 heads of state from Canada to Brazil.

Through e-mails, public pronouncements and the workshops held in Quebec City, Montreal and Toronto, the protest movement makes clear that it considers the summit a showdown over the momentum of globalization.

Leaders at the summit will be discussing the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement, which would expand the North American Free Trade Agreement to Central and South America.

Angered by what they call a lack of openness and public participation in the negotiations, the diverse groups opposing the process plan a range of demonstrations – some peaceful, some confrontational.

The most radical elements hope to repeat the chaos that undermined World Trade Organization talks in Seattle in 1999, considered a defining moment for the anti-globalization community.
Police are anticipating mayhem. Quebec's minister of public security has increased the police force comprising federal, provincial and local officers to 6,000.

"We have to prepare for a situation even more serious than the previous ones. We're getting set for the worst," said the minister, Serge Menard. "That doesn't mean we hope for the worst."

Mayor Jean-Paul L'Allier noted that President Bush's attendance at his first major international meeting gives demonstrators a rare opportunity to capture world attention. He fears that a 10-foot-tall fence being built around several acres of Old Quebec City as a security perimeter will become a flashpoint of confrontation.

"I'm worried a city like Quebec, which figures on UNESCO's world heritage list, could witness the kind of violent events like those seen in Seattle," he said. "At the same time, extreme (security) measures should not be used to deprive people of the right to demonstrate."

Groups organizing the protests plan three "levels" of demonstrations – festive ones with giant puppets, songs and chants; civil disobedience such as blockades; and direct attempts to disrupt the summit itself.

The idea is to help the 10,000 or more protesters feel comfortable with whatever level of activism they choose to join, said Tania Halle of the Anti-Capitalist Convergence, known by its French-language acronym, CLAC.

At his workshop at the University of Quebec campus in Montreal, Duhamel divided the participants in two groups that took turns playing police trying to remove protesters from a mock barricade.

As a veteran of the Seattle protests, he knows that lessons learned by both sides since then have hardened attitudes and strategies. Shutting down the summit is "not a realistic goal," Duhamel conceded, so his group provides training for defending against police batons, tear gas and police dogs, as well as gives information such as legal guidance on arrests.

Protest organizers include local groups like the CLAC and Duhamel's salAMI, and others from outside Canada such as the Black Bloc, considered the most violent.

At a workshop sponsored by Concordia University students in Montreal, former Black Panther Lorenzo Komboa Ervin summed up the attitude of the radical side.

"If we don't constitute a threat to the system, if we don't make them think that their precious lives or profits are in danger, they will not take us seriously at all," he said.
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Excluded voices gather for people's version of Summit
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, April 17, 2001

QUEBEC –– Critics of the Summit of the Americas _ politicians, activists and others _ gathered Tuesday at a "people's summit" to demand a voice at the upcoming gathering of Western Hemisphere leaders.

More than 3,000 were registered for the five-day "people's summit" that will culminate in a march Saturday to express displeasure with the summit talks. Starting Friday, the leaders of 34 countries _ including President Bush _ are to discuss expanding the North American Free Trade Agreement to Central and South America.

Protesters, however, say the Summit of the Americas only seeks to extend harmful trade practices to already struggling economies in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Critics also say the private atmosphere of the summit, with no copies of draft trade agreement documents available to the public and police erecting a 10-foot-tall security fence around acres of old Quebec City, prevents those most affected from being heard.

"There have been no elections on these issues. They haven't been debated in most parliaments," said organizer Monique Simard. "What is good for the business community isn't necessarily what's good for everyone."

In stark contrast to the glass-and-metal Quebec City Convention Center where the heads of state will gather, the people's summit began Tuesday at a covered market along the St. Lawrence Seaway.

There, delegates heard women from Latin America describe how free trade has brought them more harm than good.

Economic adjustments prescribed by foreigners only bring trouble, said Marie-France Joachim of Haiti, who urged her nation's government to reject any free-trade agreements reached during the summit.

She cited the 1985 slaughter of hog herds after the U.S. government warned of ailments with Haitian pigs. Four years later, Joachim said, U.S. pork products dominated the Haitian market.

Joachim also cited discrepancies between the treatment of men and women in Haiti. Women field workers earn about 33 cents for six hours of work _ but men make twice that, she noted.

"Free-trade doesn't mean freedom but just a means to bind our hands a little bit more," she said.

Speakers at the people's summit also included Quebec Premier Bernard Landry, who called the free trade process "incomplete" without dissenting opinion. Landry, whose Parti Quebecois seeks sovereignty for Quebec, was refused his request to address the Summit of the Americas.

Security was tight at the Canadian border ahead of the Summit of the Americas. Canadian officials said strict security measures were necessary to prevent the kind of violence that derailed World Trade Organization talks in Seattle in December 1999.

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Six Arrested Ahead of Summit
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, April 18, 2001; 11:17 p.m. EDT

QUEBEC –– Police arrested six Canadians they said were planning violence at this weekend's Summit of the Americas, officials said Wednesday, displaying seized weapons that included small explosives and smoke grenades.

Inspector Robert Poeti of the Quebec Provincial Police said increased security for the Friday-Sunday summit, where 34 leaders of the Western Hemisphere will gather, led to the arrests of two 21-year-old men driving into Quebec City and four men in the Montreal area.

The arrests occurred Tuesday and Wednesday. Police recovered the explosives and grenades along with flammable liquid, baseball bats, gas masks and pointed sticks, Poeti said.

Poeti said a Canadian military reservist and a former member of the military were among the six arrested, and that some of the explosive materials seized were military-issue. The arrest of the two men in Quebec City on Tuesday led to the arrests Wednesday of the four in Montreal, he said.
Police would not identify the arrested men, who face charges including possession of explosives, stealing military supplies and conspiring to endanger public safety.

"We'll have no tolerance for people coming here to cause problems and criminal acts," Poeti said.
In a separate case, a 17-year-old youth from New York state was arrested for possessing knives and pepper spray in Quebec City. City police Inspector Gaetan Labbe said the youth was freed on $130 bail and ordered to stay away from the security area around the summit. The youth's name and hometown were not released.

Huge protests are planned around the summit by activists who are traveling from around the world. Shopkeepers have boarded up many stores, and Canadian authorities have erected a 2 1/2-mile concrete-and-wire fence to prevent the activists from getting near the summit site.

On Wednesday, a Quebec judge ruled that although the fence infringes on civil liberties, it is justified given the fears of unrest. The groups that filed the lawsuit said they would appeal, but the appeal will not be heard until after the summit.

Probably the most high-profile of the activists, French farmer Jose Bove, said Wednesday that he would participate in the demonstrations but didn't want to make trouble.

Bove, 47, is appealing a three-month prison sentence for the 1999 ransacking of a McDonald's restaurant in France.

"I have not come here to impose any mode of action, but will participate in whatever actions are being prepared by local groups," Bove said.

The Canadian government intervened to allow Bove to attend the Summit of the Americas, where the leaders will discuss expanding the North America Free Trade Agreement to include Central and South America and the Caribbean.

Immigration laws allow border officials to turn back anyone with a criminal record. Activists heading to Quebec City say they have been harassed and refused entrance at the Canadian border.
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Police seal off Quebec City for summit
The Associated Press
Thursday, April 19, 2001; 09:43 P EDT  

QUEBEC (AP) — Police sealed off the heart of old Quebec City on Thursday, creating a heavily guarded security zone to keep protesters and possible violence away from a summit of 34 leaders, including President Bush. Forklifts hoisted concrete blocks topped with wire mesh into busy intersections, and hundreds of police in bulletproof vests stood guard at spots along the 2.3-mile fence encircling meeting sites of the Summit of the Americas. More than 6,000 police officers will patrol the security zone Friday through Sunday to guard against incursion by the expected 10,000 or more protesters.
Quebec City residents and demonstrators from around the world watched as the final pieces were dropped into place. Police allowed through only residents with special passes and delegates, journalists and workers accredited for the meeting.

Protesters have dubbed the barrier the "Wall of Shame" and liken to it to the Berlin Wall as a symbol of oppression and division. Thousands of anti-globalization activists have come to this picturesque 17th-century city, and organizers fear the kind of violence that derailed trade talks in Seattle in December 1999.

But the first two demonstrations were peaceful. About 150 people marched outside the Quebec provincial agriculture ministry and presented a list of concerns about genetically modified food. Later, a few hundred women chanted, danced and sang outside the security fence. Dozens of police, some in riot gear, kept a close watch, but there were no confrontations.

A candlelight procession by about 300 people left a local university on Thursday night for the seven-mile walk into town. The planned route avoided the security zone set up by police.

The protesters represent a diverse range of activists — organized labor, human rights organizations, environmental groups and other who say the talks on creating a Western Hemisphere free-trade zone should be in public instead of a locked-in conference center.

A people's summit of groups opposed to the free trade talks called for a hemispheric referendum on the proposal. In its final declaration after three days of meeting and seminars attended by activists from throughout the Americas, the group urged more attention to democracy, human rights, equality, solidarity and the environment.

"These free trade agreements prioritize exports at the expense of the needs of local communities," the declaration read. "We are witnessing the consolidation of economic and legal corporate power at the expense of popular sovereignty."

The security wall, intended to keep the protesters far from the summit venue, survived a lawsuit this week that challenged it on constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and movement. A judge agreed Wednesday that the wall restricts personal rights, but said it was justified because of the security risks.

Police cite concerns of Seattle-like violence to defend the fence, which surrounds several acres of landmarks like the Chateau Frontenac hotel that dominates the old city skyline and the provincial Parliament building.

Seven men have been arrested on charges of planning violence at the summit, and police seized military smoke grenades and small explosives.

The closest protesters can get to the convention center where the summit is being held is 100 yards across a cemetery, on Rue Saint-Jean.

Along the streets, shop windows were covered with plywood or metal screens Thursday in anticipation of unrest.

"The whole situation is deplorable. I'm going to keep my kids inside the whole time. I may even leave town," said Patricia Hamel, owner of the Collection Lazuli gift shop.

Local activists have made the wall a kind of bulletin board for anti-free-trade and anti-U.S. sentiments. Among the slogans spray painted throughout the city are "Bush Go Home," "Berlin" in reference to the wall that divided East and West Germany for decades, and "Viva Cuba" in support of the only hemispheric country barred from the summit for its lack of democratic elections.

Plastic flowers and colorful balloons are attached elsewhere.

Protests also are planned far from Quebec City, with marches or blockades threatened in other Canadian and U.S. cities and in Tijuana, Mexico, near the border with California. A caravan of several hundred protesters from the United States turned back at the Canadian border in upstate New York when some people were refused entry.

Cyberprotests also could occur. The Electrohippie Collective says it is targeting Web sites connected with the summit for protest activity — most likely a flood of e-mail that would hamper operation of the sites.
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Summit Balloon Protester Arrested
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Friday, April 20, 2001; 2:55 p.m. EDT

QUEBEC –– Security for the Summit of the Americas is tight on the ground – and also in the air.

A police helicopter intercepted a hot-air balloon emblazoned with protest slogans above the summit site on Friday, and officers arrested the Greenpeace activist who piloted it.

Two other activists from the environmental group also were aboard the green-and-blue balloon with messages urging action on global warming, but they were not arrested, according to one of them, Jo Dufay.

She said the crew set off Friday morning and drifted over the summit site. When a police helicopter approached 20 minutes later, the activists set it down on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River.

Pilot Franz Taucher was arrested, but Royal Canadian Mounted Police spokeswoman Elaine Lavergne said police couldn't immediately say whether he would be charged with flying in prohibited airspace.

Police have built a 2.3-mile security wall around the heart of old Quebec City to prevent protesters from approaching the talks on creating a free-trade area from the Arctic to Argentina.
-----------------------------------------------

Montrealers Strip for NY Photographer
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Saturday, May 26, 2001; 3:50 p.m. EDT

MONTREAL –– Lying in the streets naked could get you in trouble in most places, but in Montreal Saturday some 2,000 people stripped with the blessing of authorities to pose for a New York photographer famed for juxtaposing flesh and concrete.

Spencer Tunick had asked Montrealers to strip for his latest "human sculpture" – part of his Nude Adrift series that will take him to every continent, including Antarctica, to shoot group nudes.

The throngs began disrobing enthusiastically at 5:30 a.m. as the morning air hovered at 55 degrees. Two young women and a man apparently changed their minds and tried to make a run for it once the order to get naked was given – but could not get into a nearby mall. Its doors had been locked to prevent photographers from entering to get good shots of the nudes.

"I want to thank the city of Montreal for recognizing this as art," Tunick told the crowd. "This is art. Not good art or bad art, but it's art."

Tunick first had his nude models lie down side by side in curled positions on the corner of St. Catherine and Jeanne Mance streets. Nearby, Montreal's Museum of Contemporary Art ran an exhibit featuring his photos called Metamorphosis and Cloning.

He then had them lie face up for a second shot.

People were naked for about an hour. Tunick received a loud ovation when he told people they could put their clothes back on.

"I feel extremely energized," said Jean-Pierre Leclerq, 41, after taking part in the session, "It was a lot fun. Nobody was uncomfortable, we all seemed very at ease."

Tunick said he was impressed by the turnout, which topped all this previous nude shoots, and praised Montreal as a "very open-minded and progressive" city.

He's been arrested for some of his previous work including shots he did in his native New York City.

Tunick says he is attempting to show humanity's collective vulnerability in a cruel, harsh world.

"It's an abstraction, that seeps into and onto the pavement, that creates a sense of vulnerability to the body juxtaposed (against) a very harsh outside world with many things coming against us," Tunick said after the shoot. "Environmental issues, social issues, anything coming up against the body, which is pure. So this is where the body tries to overpower the street."
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Seven Montreal McDonald's Vandalized
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Saturday, July 7, 2001; 5:44 p.m. EDT

MONTREAL (AP) -- Seven McDonald's restaurants in and around Montreal were vandalized Saturday in simultaneous attacks.

Also Saturday, police said a pepper spray-like chemical was released in the air near an underground shopping area, causing patrons' eyes to sting, police said.

No one was seriously injured in the chemical attack, but it forced the evacuation of some 500 people and the closure of three subway stations for almost an hour, said Montreal police spokesman Ian Lafreniere.

A McDonald's was located near the site of the chemical release, but police said they did not know if the attack was targeted at the restaurant. Police could not say what exactly the chemical was or how it was released.

The attacks against the seven McDonald's restaurants in and around Montreal all took place around 8 a.m. In all incidents, trash cans were set on fire in the restaurant bathrooms, said Lafreniere.

Police are investigating whether the seven attacks were linked to a labor dispute between McDonald's and the union Confédération des Syndicats Nationaux.

The union's spokesman Marc Laviolette on Saturday denied any connection to the vandalism, calling the damage ''regrettable.''

Last month, the sole McDonald's branch in Canada with union workers was closed. The union accuses the restaurant management of systematic union-busting.

A message left on the answering system at McDonald's regional headquarters in Montreal went unanswered Saturday.
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Canadian Pilot Says He's No Hero
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2001; 6:20 a.m. EDT

MIRABEL, Quebec –– Call him well-trained, professional, even courageous, but Air Transat Capt. Robert Piche says he's no hero for gliding a jetliner carrying 304 people to safety on the Azores Islands after it lost engine power over the Atlantic Ocean.

"That's what we get trained for, that's what we get paid for, to be successful in a situation like that," the trim 49-year-old said at his first news conference since the landing Friday. "I'm not a hero."

But others say Piche's safe landing of the Lisbon-bound Airbus A330-200, despite no engine power, was nothing short of a miracle. The touchdown was so hard, the plane's tires burst into flames.

"This was a near tragedy. They were minutes away from the plane going into the ocean and so the effort to bring that plane down without engines is undoubtedly heroic," Canadian Transport Minister David Collenette said in Ottawa on Tuesday.

Eleven people – nine passengers and two crew members – required hospitalization, but their injuries were not considered serious.

While passengers have told of screaming panic inside the plane as it drifted down, Piche and other crew members described a tense, silent 81 minutes from when equipment indicated a fuel leak to the rough touchdown at Lajes airport on Terciera Island in the Azores, 900 miles from Portugal.

"Of course we had doubts. But we did what we had to do," Piche said of himself and the crew. "You do as you've been taught, as you've been trained, and that's about it."

A preliminary report issued Tuesday by Portuguese investigators said a malfunctioning fuel injection pump caused low fuel pressure in both Rolls-Royce engines of the jetliner with 291 passengers aboard.

It was unclear if the plane had any fuel left when it landed without power, and Piche and other Air Transat officials avoided commenting on technical issues Tuesday.

According to a timeline provided by the investigators, Piche's crew noticed what they called a fuel leak at 4:25 a.m. Friday (1:25 a.m. EDT), then issued a mayday call 23 minutes later. An hour later, the right engine lost power, and ten minutes after that the left engine went dead.

It took 18 more minutes for the plane to glide down and land, then 90 seconds to evacuate it, according to crew members.

Piche said when the second engine cut out, he was left with nothing but his control stick with minimum power from an emergency propeller to control the aircraft.

He provided few details of how he brought the plane down, saying he was working with co-pilot Dirk de Jager and flight director Meleni Tesic to try to avoid any harm to the passengers.

The incident showed that procedures set up for problems on international flights, such as alternate landing sites, could work.

"I've been flying for 30 years. I understand full well that on an international flight, nothing like this is supposed to happen," he said. "Now I understand that the system we have throughout the world, the system operates. It works."

Passengers described terrifying moments of chaos on the gliding plane, but Tesic praised all aboard for following procedures and instructions.

"I can tell you that it was an extremely silent cabin," she said. "There was absolutely no panic among all the passengers."

That differed from the account of passenger Joao Gaspar, who spoke of passengers screaming as the plane quickly lost altitude, then "depressurized and jerked about."

Airbus Industrie has sent a team of specialists to the Azores Islands to assist in the investigation by Portuguese authorities.

Spokesman David Velupillai said it was the first such incident involving an aircraft from the A330 family. Almost 200 of the model are in service worldwide, and another 200 are on order, he said.

Airbus launched the A330-200 in May 1998. It is a smaller version of the A330-300.
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Canada accepts U.S. flights
The Associated Press
Tuesday, Sep. 11, 2001

OTTAWA (AP) - The Canadian government tightened security in major cities and along the American border after Tuesday's terrorist attacks, and dozens of intercontinental flights bound for the United States headed to Canada instead.

The Canadian military was put on alert and major government and tourist sites were closed, including Parliament Hill in the capital, Ottawa, and the tall CN Tower in Toronto. The U.S. Embassy was closed and under increased security.

Some border posts temporarily closed, but reports that the entire frontier would be sealed proved untrue.

The Peace Bridge at Buffalo was shut for about 20 minutes, the Canadian Broadcast Corp. reported, then reopened under increased security with a Royal Canadian Mounted Police checkpoint closely searching vehicles headed for the United States.

At the crossing between Lacolle, Quebec, and Champlain, N.Y., U.S. chief inspector Mike McMullen said traffic proceeded as usual under what he called ``heightened awareness.''

A few vehicles were searched, but the flow appeared normal for a Tuesday afternoon. In the area between the two sides, a Canadian flag hung at half-staff while the U.S. flag remained atop its pole.

Some travelers said they were told the border was closed, but decided to try it anyway. Erin Wayne and her parents were flying back from Scotland to New York on Tuesday when the flight was diverted to Montreal's Dorval airport because of what the pilot called ``a tragedy.''

The family took a taxi at a cost of $65 and walked across, luggage in hand, to search for a ride to Syracuse, N.Y.

Truck driver Everett Jackson, hauling a load of live chickens, was told by his company, Ross Breeders, that the border was closed and to go rest in a hotel.

``We decided to find out anyway,'' Jackson said before heading for South Carolina.

Airports in eastern Canada accepted U.S.-bound planes that were diverted when most U.S. airports were shut after highjacked jets crashed into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon outside Washington and apparently elsewhere.

Dozens of unscheduled landings were expected at the Canadian military base at Goose Bay in Labrador, a small community several hundred miles north of Halifax, Nova Scotia, with limited hotel space.

``We filled up two hours ago,'' said Sherry Beaucage, a reservations clerk at the Albatross Motel. ``There's nowhere near the hotel space needed to accommodate them. It's pretty devastating.''

Dozens more diverted flights were expected at the airports in St. John's, Newfoundland; Moncton, New Brunswick; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Toronto; Montreal; Vancouver, British Columbia; and even Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory, where Canadian jet fighters escorted two flights from Korea diverted from their scheduled landing in Alaska.
----------------------------------------------------------
Canadian Border Remains Open
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2001; 7:13 p.m. EDT

LACOLLE, Quebec –– Long lines and stringent searches slowed traffic along the U.S.-Canadian border Wednesday, but vehicles moved freely in both directions a day after the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history.

Officials warned the world's longest undefended border would be more tightly patrolled and travelers should expect to wait for hours. At some crossings, lines of vehicles stretched for miles. At others, traffic moved with minimal delays.

U.S. officials said Wednesday they were investigating whether one group of hijackers crossed the Canadian border at a checkpoint and made their way to Boston, where jetliners operated by American Airlines and United Airlines were hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center.

Prime Minister Jean Chretien said that Canadian security forces had no information about that.
The allegation raised concerns that liberal immigration and refugee policies in Canada enable terror groups to organize north of the border and infiltrate the United States.

U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci said the United States and Canada must work together to coordinate immigration policies and improve intelligence and security networks.

"We want to stop them before they get to the border and that requires resources for intelligence and law enforcement," he said.

Osama bin Laden, the Afghanistan-based Islamic militant, is considered the most likely figure behind a string of attacks against U.S. targets. Two former Montreal residents with alleged links to the Saudi exile have been convicted on U.S. terrorism charges.

Hundreds of thousands of people cross the U.S.-Canada border daily, reflecting the close ties between North American allies who share the world's largest trade relationships – worth more than $1 billion a day.

While air travel across the border remained suspended, road traffic proceeded Wednesday under tighter security.

An Associated Press journalist encountered a line of six cars at the crossing at Lacolle, Quebec, about 40 miles south of Montreal, which was about normal for an early afternoon trip to Champlain, N.Y.

The cars moved past a much longer line of trucks being searched by U.S. customs officials and National Guard forces.

A customs officer asked the journalist for identification and how long he would stay in the United States. He produced his press pass and said he would only stay briefly before returning to write about the border crossing.

The official asked the journalist to turn off the vehicle and open the trunk, which was quickly searched and then closed.

The journalist faced similar questions by U.S. officials when heading back to Canada. Normally, each country only checks people entering its territory.

U.S. chief inspector Mike McMullen described Wednesday's traffic as normal and said searches caused some delays.

"It's taken more than an hour. Usually it's 15 minutes," said Terry Vachon, a Canadian driving a truck with Quebec license plates.

Dawneen MacKenzie, a spokeswoman for Livingston International Inc., which facilitates trade between the United States and Canada, said major slowdowns occurred along the border.

Trucks were waiting 12 hours at the Niagara Falls border point, and the line was 15 miles long in Sarnia, Ontario., she said. At the crossing from British Columbia into Blaine, Wash., the wait was six hours or more, she said.

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Major Airlines Prepare to Take Off
The Associated Press
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2001; 11:26 a.m. EDT

Federal aviation officials reopened the nation's skies for travel Thursday, warning that it could take days for schedules to return to normal and promising tough, new security measures.

Major airlines were expected to begin limited flight schedules Thursday, but things got off to a slow start.

At Montreal's Dorval Airport, all flights to the United States were still listed as canceled as the 11 a.m. EDT resumption time passed.

"We're being told that there are no flights on Northwest. Right now, they can't guarantee anything for a week," said Ana Belda of Alicante, Spain, who was waiting with her husband, two children and two friends for a flight to Detroit.

The U.S. aviation system was shut down Tuesday after hijacked planes were crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field.

Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta said commercial and private planes were allowed to fly starting at 11 a.m. EDT. He said airports and flights would be resumed on a case-by-case basis – and only after stringent security measures are in place.

The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered security increased to its highest level since the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Mineta urged passengers to allow ample time to deal with the new procedures.

"There will be some inconveniences, but safety will be the first element of our system to be restored," Mineta said in a statement released by the White House.

Some of the planes that were diverted Tuesday were allowed to fly Wednesday, carrying only those passengers who had begun the journey. More were expected to leave Thursday.

At least some regularly scheduled United Airlines flights were expected to begin at 7 p.m. EDT Thursday, and some scheduled flights on American Airlines and TWA after 4 p.m. EDT.

"We expect the return of our full schedule of service to take several days," American said.

Delta Air Lines said "very limited operations" would start sometime after noon EDT Thursday.

Continental had canceled all regularly scheduled flights for the day, but planned to offer special service in cities such as San Francisco and Cleveland, "where we see demand," spokeswoman Erica Roy said.

At Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, passengers awaited word of when they might reach their destinations.

"Considering this devastation, we have no complaints," said Louise Norton, 67, who was trying to get from Sea-Tac to Raleigh, N.C. "We would love to be home, but a lot of people would love to have their families."

Mineta made his decision after a series of meetings Wednesday with White House aides, Cabinet officials, the Federal Aviation Administration, industry and law enforcement. He called the decision "good news for travelers, for the airlines and for our economy."

Most of the nation's air fleet was grounded Tuesday morning following the hijackings of jets from Boston, Newark, N.J., and Washington's Dulles airport. Even as the FAA imposed new restrictions on passengers, airlines and airports, some members of Congress were pointing to security lapses.

Mineta has proposed a series of tough measures, including a ban on curbside check-ins and an increased police presence in airports. The Justice Department said one option is to put law enforcement personnel on planes, a practice that has been used in the past.

Regardless of whether that step is taken, U.S. marshals, the U.S. Customs Service and the Border Patrol will be part of increased security on the ground at airports, Justice Department spokeswoman Mindy Tucker said.

The Air Transport Association said the FAA should consider taking over the passenger screening process rather than leaving it to the airlines.

"When we are dealing with terrorism, there are functions and responsibilities that are beyond our abilities and responsibilities," the airlines' trade group said in a statement.

FAA Administrator Jane Garvey was expected to brief the Massachusetts congressional delegation Thursday on security at Logan Airport in Boston, where two of the hijacked planes originated.
----------------------------------------------

Despite deep history, Montreal may lose Expos
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2001; 4:45 p.m. EDT

MONTREAL (AP) -- This is where Jackie Robinson began his climb to the big leagues and history, where Pete Rose stroked his 4,000th hit, where the major leagues first put down roots outside the United States.
Now the rich baseball history of Montreal may become only that -- history.

Major league owners meet Tuesday near Chicago to discuss the possibility of folding the Expos, a team known more for the stars it has sent away than the championships it has brought to town.

Commissioner Bud Selig cites the circumstances -- annual losses, no local television contract, and average attendance last season of 7,648 per game -- as reasons for considering eliminating the franchise that produced stars such as Andre Dawson, Tim Raines and Pedro Martinez.

"As the problems have exacerbated, it has become clearer to me that everything should be on the table," Selig said last week.

Majority owner Jeff Loria, a New York art dealer who bought the Expos in 1999, says he plans on another season in Montreal. But Loria also makes clear that huge losses of recent years cannot continue.

He blames the lack of a local TV contract in media-saturated Montreal, where hockey is king, for putting the Expos at a disadvantage compared to other clubs.

"Most teams have what we don't have, which is local television revenue," Loria said in a Montreal Gazette interview published Oct. 12. "Ours is nil, practically nil. It doesn't work. How do you run a team?"

The $34 million payroll is not much more than some players on other teams make in a season, showing the Expos' inability to sign major stars and compete on the field. Forbes magazine estimated in March that the Expos franchise was worth $92 million, last in the majors, compared to $635 million for the New York Yankees.

Loria says a $20 million loss is expected from this season. Failure to gain support for a new ballpark to replace the vast Olympic Stadium built for the 1976 Games has hurt, along with the lack of ticket and TV revenue.

"It's hard to have an appetite to spend more money when two successive years you do that, and there isn't a great deal of enthusiasm for the sport," he said. "I'm not interested in losing a lot of money again next year. I'm just not going to do it."

Fans say they started losing interest after the 1994 season, when the strike shut down baseball as the Expos were having their best season.

Star players such as Martinez, Larry Walker, David Segui and Moises Alou were traded or allowed to leave in cost-cutting measures in the years following the strike, and winning ways went with them.

"That really did it for me," said Diane Emery, 46, who used to attend 20 games or more a season. "Montreal has really become sort of a farm-team with time. They develop new talents, they become good players producing exciting baseball and suddenly we don't have the money to keep them and they have to be dealt away."

A similar lament is heard from NHL franchises in Canada that pay their players in U.S. dollars while taking in Canadian dollars worth about two-thirds as much. Escalating salaries in both sports compound the problem, but it is felt more by the Expos.

"Montreal will pay the price for the lessons major league baseball is going to learn," said Tom Valcke, president of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, who used to work in the commissioner's office. "For 100 years baseball players used to make seven times what the average Joe makes. Now it's 40 times."

Valcke said losing the Expos would be "significant."
"We would be deeply saddened," he said. "The city set so many standards and firsts, from the first games in Canada to Pete Rose's 4,000th hit. The country has its baseball roots in Montreal."

So why the endless empty seats in Olympic Stadium? Valcke blames several factors, including World Series games played at night, too late for young kids to watch the greatest moments.

"Not a lot of them saw the time Joe Carter hit the home run [that won the 1993 World Series for Toronto] because it was too late in the evening," he said. "This would have gripped their heart, they would have become fans forever."

The problem is not a lack of baseball fans, Valcke insists, citing the warm farewell given Robinson after his last game with the Royals of the International League before joining the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 to break the major league racial barrier.

"Not only did he get two standing ovations, he was mobbed in the streets when he left the place," Valcke said. "Who at the time could have imagined a huge crowd of white people turning out to thank a black baseball player like that?"

That season, Montreal drew 412,744 spectators for minor-league ball. Last season, the National League Expos drew 619,451.

Carl McCoomb, the Hall of Fame curator, said the decline of the Expos has harmed baseball throughout Quebec. Last spring, the 49-year-old Lennoxville-Ascot Little League shut down.
"The lack of interest filters down to the youth," McCoomb said. "They don't see their friends and parents play baseball or wear a baseball cap and that has an impact."

Francis Briere, assistant editor of an online baseball magazine, said fans were too fickle, demanding victories without showing support in the tough times.

"If Montreal supported the team and its ownership, [major league baseball] would have no choice but to respect public opinion and back the team," he said. "It's not only a matter of money, it's a matter of the heart."

For Mario Pelletier, a 26-year-old fan, it all comes down to performance.
"They've got to win," he said. "Quebecers are a passionate people. They'll all hop aboard the bandwagon if it comes through town."
-----------------------------------------------------------------

(translated)
Malgré un riche passé, la ville de Montréal pourrait perdre les Expos
MONTREAL (PC) - C'est la ville où Jackie Robinson a amorcé sa poussée vers les ligues majeures, où Pete Rose a cogné son 4000e coup sûr et où le baseball majeur a, pour la première fois de son histoire, accordé une équipe à l'extérieur des États-Unis.

Mais le riche passé du baseball à Montréal s'apprête à devenir justement de l'histoire ancienne.

Dans une entrevue, le propriétaire Jeffrey Loria a dit qu'il envisageait de disputer une autre saison à Montréal.
Loria soutient que le manque de revenus émanant du contrat de télédiffusion locale, dans une ville où le hockey est roi, cause d'énormes torts aux Expos.

"La plupart des équipes ont ce que nous n'avons pas, c'est-à-dire des revenus de télévision adéquats, a affirmé Loria.
"Les nôtres sont, à toutes fins pratiques, inexistants. Ça ne fonctionne pas. Comment faire pour diriger une équipe?", a ajouté Loria, qui estime le déficit, en 2001, à 20 millions $ US.

La masse salariale des Expos, établie à 34 millions $ US, est à peine supérieure aux salaires que certains joueurs, ailleurs, reçoivent pour une seule année, ce qui tend à démontrer l'incapacité des Expos à faire signer des contrats à des joueurs vedettes.
Par ailleurs, l'équipe a été incapable d'obtenir l'appui recherché pour bâtir un nouveau stade au centre-ville, sans oublier les faibles assistances des dernières années.

"C'est difficile de vouloir dépenser des sommes d'argent additionnelles lorsque des investissements comme ceux que nous avons faits, ces deux dernières années, ne génèrent pas plus d'enthousiasme auprès du public, a poursuivi Loria. Je ne suis pas intéressé à perdre de l'argent encore la saison prochaine. Il n'en est pas question."

Plusieurs amateurs ont perdu intérêt pour le baseball après 1994, quand une grève a coupé court à une saison durant laquelle les Expos détenaient la meilleure fiche des ligues majeures.

Lors des années subséquentes, des vedettes telles Larry Walker, John Wetteland, Moises Alou et Pedro Martinez sont devenus joueurs autonomes ou ont été échangés lors de ventes de feu.

"Montréal va écoper pour les leçons que les dirigeants du baseball majeur vont tirer, prédit Tom Valcke, un ancien employé du bureau du Commissaire, maintenant président du Panthéon de la renommée du baseball canadien.
"Pendant 100 ans, a poursuivi Valcke, les joueurs de baseball touchaient sept fois plus d'argent que le citoyen ordinaire; aujourd'hui, leur salaire est 40 fois plus élevé."

Selon Valcke, la disparition des Expos serait déplorable.
"Nous serions tous très attristés, a-t-il confié. Montréal a établi tellement de standards et de précédents, du premier match disputé au Canada en passant par le 4000e coup sûr de Pete Rose. Les racines du baseball au Canada passent par Montréal."
Valcke est persuadé que les nombreux sièges vides des dernières années au Stade olympique n'ont rien à voir avec le manque d'intérêt des amateurs montréalais.

"Non seulement les spectateurs ont-ils réservé deux ovations à Jackie Robinson lors de son dernier match en 1947, a relaté Valcke, mais ils l'ont assailli dans les rues en quittant le stade. Qui, à cette époque, aurait pu imaginer une foule de gens de race blanche réserver un tel traitement à un joueur de race noire?"

Cette saison-là, les Royaux, le club-école des Dodgers de Brooklyn, avaient attiré 412 744 spectateurs au stade Delorimier. L'an dernier, les Expos ont enregistré une assistance totale de 619 451 amateurs au Stade olympique.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shop Owner on Terror List Denies Link
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, Nov. 8, 2001; 11:58 a.m. EST

OTTAWA –– A man identified on a U.S. list as part of a financing network supporting Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida organization said that he and his brother, arrested outside Boston, have done nothing wrong.

Liban Hussein says his business – Barakaat North American, Inc. – helps Somalis send money to relatives back home through offices in Ottawa and Massachusetts.

"I hope people understand what is really going on. You can't just jump up and catch people and say they are terrorists, it's wrong," Hussein told the Toronto Star newspaper Thursday.

"This company has nothing to do with bin Laden," said Hussein, who came to Canada as a refugee from Somalia and obtained citizenship in 1995.

The U.S. list issued Wednesday accuses Hussein and his brother, Mohamed M. Hussein, of running an illegal money transfer operation. The brother was arrested at Barakaat North America's Dorchester, Mass., offices Wednesday morning and appeared at a preliminary hearing in federal court in Boston Thursday.

Federal authorities charged the brothers with illegally operating a money-transfer operation and Samantha Martin, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office, said a warrant had been issued for Liban M. Hussein's arrest.

Canada has placed Hussein and his business on a list of companies and individuals whose assets can be frozen or seized because of suspected terrorist ties.

Customers showed up Wednesday at the Bashaal grocery store in suburban Ottawa where Hussein operates the money transferring service, but he said he's halted transactions for now.

President Bush identified Al-Barakaat was one of two underground currency exchanges that are funneling large amounts of cash to al-Qaida.

The organizations, Al Taqua and Al-Barakaat, operate in more than 40 countries, including the United States, and channel funds to al-Qaida through companies and nonprofit they run, the administration said.

Investigators believe tens of millions of dollars a year flow overseas through Al-Barakaat. Much of that was sent by Somali residents of the United States to relatives, with the networks skimming money off for al-Qaida through exchange fees.
"This is the only way that Somali people transfer money back home," Hussein told the Star. "There is no other way. There are no banks there, there's no Western Union there, this is the only way."

Across Europe and the United States on Wednesday, police conducted raids designed to unravel two Islamic financial networks accused of laundering and raising money and providing logistical support to bin Laden's al-Qaida organization.

Investigators said they believe tens of millions of dollars a year flowed overseas through the Al-Barakaat network of stores, groceries and money exchanges, much of it from funds that Somalis living in America send home to relatives. Some of that money was skimmed for use by al-Qaida and other terrorist networks, investigators said.

Hussein told the Star that he called the office of Foreign Affairs Minister John Manley for help. Manley is the elected member of Parliament from Hussein's district, and Hussein said Manley previously helped him with immigration questions.

"He knows me, I have a file down there, that's why I called him," Hussein said. Manley heads the Cabinet committee overseeing national security in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
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No money transfers at Somali shop after US names it on list
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, Nov. 8, 2001

OTTAWA  - A money-wiring service to Somalia was shut down after the United States listed the address as the site of a suspected terrorist organization.

The Bashaal food store, a  Somali-run shop on the ground floor of an apartment building in suburban Ottawa, is at the address cited by U.S. authorities for Barakaat North American, Inc.

No one who was at the store Wednesday said they knew that name or Liban Hussein, who is sought by U.S. authorities for alleged terrorist links and listed as having the same address. The telephone number of the only Liban Hussein in the telephone book was out of service.

Abdelrahman, who was managing the store Wednesday, said the owner was away until Thursday and that the service of sending money to Somalia was "frozen." He said he didn't know why the service _ known as hawala _ was shut down.

The hawala network generally involves brokers who accept the money and notify partners at the destination point to make the payment. Money never travels, and the transactions are settled up by the hawala brokers without any paper trail.

Across Europe and from coast to coast in America on Wednesday, police conducted raids designed to unravel two Islamic financial networks accused of laundering and raising money and providing logistical support to alleged terrorist leader Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida organization.

Investigators said they believe tens of millions of dollars a year flowed overseas through the Al-Barakaat network of stores, groceries and money exchanges, much of it from funds that Somalis living in America send home to relatives. Some of that money was skimmed for use by al-Qaida and other terrorist networks, investigators said.

The U.S. list included Barakaat North America Inc., with offices in Ottawa and Dorchester, Massachusetts, and Liban Hussein, who had addresses in Ottawa and Dorchester. U.S. authorities have asked that businesses and names on the list have their assets frozen or seized.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Manley said Canadian authorities were considering the U.S. request.

"We will deal with it once we have had our own verification of the identity and the nature of the persons on the list," Manley said in Parliament.
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Editor: Taliban Jailed Canadian Reporter
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, November 27, 2001; 5:56 PM

MONTREAL –– A Canadian freelance reporter was detained Tuesday in Taliban-held territory of Afghanistan, according to the editor of the weekly newspaper for which he writes.

Alastair Sutherland, the Montreal Mirror editor, said reporter Ken Hechtman was taken prisoner near Kandahar, the last stronghold of the Islamic militia. Associated Editor Matthew Hays said correspondents from USA Today and the London-based Guardian newspaper informed the Mirror of Hechtman's detention.

Initial reports indicated Hechtman was held by the Taliban, but Sutherland said later the identity of his captors was unclear.

"Someone received a note from him in prison. He's being held in chains," said Hays. "We don't know if anyone else has been taken prisoner from the press but obviously we're very alarmed and very concerned about this."

Hechtman's father, Peter, said he knew little about his son's situation.
"We're dealing with a very difficult situation and we would appreciate if you respect our privacy," he said.

According to Hays, the 33-year-old Hechtman has been in the region since early October. His most recent report for the Mirror, from Peshawar, Pakistan, appeared in the Nov. 22 edition. A Nov. 15 article was from Taliban-held territory in Afghanistan.

Francois Bugingo of Journalists Without Borders told Canada's RDI French-language television news network that Hechtman was "tied down to the ground and apparently he's been brutalized at least a couple of times."
"We're looking for a contact in order to negotiate his release," Bugingo said.

The Guardian said its reporter, Jonathan Steele, said a witness, Mohammed Zai, told him Hechtman was kidnapped in the border town of Spinboldak, but it was not clear by whom.

The newspaper said Hechtman is believed held in a windowless room, chained hand and foot. According to Steele, Zai said Hechtman was guarded by about 11 armed men. They wanted money and threatened to kill him, Zai told Steele.

USA Today confirmed Tuesday that a correspondent in Pakistan contacted the Montreal Mirror after receiving a note from Hechtman in prison. The USA today correspondent did not know why Hechtman was detained or where he was being held, the newspaper said.

Reynald Doiron, a spokesman for Canada's foreign affairs department, said Tuesday the Canadian High Commission in Islamabad, Pakistan, had been asked to check the unconfirmed reports of Hechtman's detention.

Doiron also said he called Canadian news organizations on Monday night, before reports of Hechtman's detention surfaced, to warn of a Taliban plot to lure western journalists to Kandahar in order to hold them as hostages.

According to Doiron, the Taliban intended to trade the hostages for Taliban and al-Qaida war prisoners or kill them if U.S. bombing of Taliban positions continued.
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U.N. Hold Conference on Oceans
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Friday, November 30, 2001; 9:24 PM

MONTREAL –– Delegates to a U.N. conference on marine pollution endorsed a plan of action Friday aimed reducing the amount of pollutants reaching the world's oceans and coastal areas.

Concluding a week of talks, the officials approved new recommendations for a 1995 agreement to control land-based activities that produce sewage, heavy metals, radioactive substances, sediment and other waste materials harmful to the marine environment.

The conference was the first full review of a November 1995 pact signed by 108 governments and the European Union to protect and preserve the coastal and marine environment. The agreement is known as the Global Program of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities.

"We need the strong will to take action and leave a legacy to our children of clean oceans," said Herb Dhaliwal, the Canadian fisheries and oceans minister. "If we don't, 20 to 25 years from now we're going to see serious problems."

Dhaliwal, one of two dozen government ministers in attendance, called for immediate action on the dumping of sewage and other wastes into oceans, considered the major source of coastal pollution today.

More than 80 percent of marine environment pollution is caused by land-based activities, such as sewage, run-off from agricultural and industrial sites, and habitat destruction, according to a conference statement.

A declaration adopted Friday urges governments to "address those activities which affect the health and productivity of the world's oceans" and asks the "donor community and financial institutions" to support the program.

"If we're going to protect the marine environment, we have to do things differently," said Veerle Wanderweerd, a U.N. Environment Program coordinator. "The (program of action) is the first step."

Michael Meacher, the British environment minister, said the conference set up a "systematic" program each nation should pursue.

The conference declaration called for governments and international organizations to provide more funding and new ways to help financing of projects in developing countries.
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Al-Qaida Suspects Said Out of Canada
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Saturday, January 26, 2002; 6:25 AM

MONTREAL –– A Canadian man identified as a potential al-Qaida suicide attacker was quiet and kept to himself before moving out of his apartment – and reportedly leaving the country – last year, a former neighbor said.

Prime Minister Jean Chretien said Al Rauf bin Al Habib Bin Yousef al-Jiddi was not in Canada, and little other information was available about the Tunisian-born man who obtained Canadian citizenship in 1995.

Al-Jiddi, 36, was identified Friday by U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft as the fifth man in videotapes found in the rubble of the residence of Mohammad Atef – reportedly Osama bin Laden's military chief who U.S. officials say was killed in a November U.S. air strike.

The other four were identified when Ashcroft first made the videotapes public last week. In the tapes, all five were leaving suicide messages.

Ashcroft said a photograph of al-Jiddi also was recovered from the rubble, along with a suicide letter by al-Jiddi from August 1999. In the letter, al-Jiddi pledged to die in battle against infidels, according to information released by U.S. authorities.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported a second man named by Ashcroft as a possible accomplice – another Tunisian-born Canadian named Faker Boussora – left Canada with al-Jiddi on a flight to Europe in November. Boussora obtained his Canadian passport last October. No other information about him was available.

"Both individuals should be considered extremely dangerous," Ashcroft said, adding that he lacked any information on their whereabouts. "As a result, we are publicizing their photographs worldwide."
At a four-story apartment building on Montreal's east side listed as al-Jiddi's last known address in Canada, a woman living in a ground-floor unit identified his photograph as the "tall man" who lived upstairs until late last year.

The woman, who refused to give her name for security reasons, said the man rarely spoke and kept to himself. She said a second man living in the apartment remained after the "tall man" left.

No one answered the door at the unit where the man lived, though a pair of boots were lying outside. Knocks on other doors in the building also went unanswered Friday night.

Al-Jiddi arrived in Canada in April 1991 and obtained citizenship in October 1995. His passport bears the name Abderraouf Jdey, and he also is known as Farouq Al-Tunisi.

According to the CBC, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service had al-Jiddi under surveillance before he left the country but lacked sufficient cause to detain him. Ashcroft credited Canadian authorities Friday for helping identify al-Jiddi.

A CSIS spokeswoman refused to comment on any details about al-Jiddi, only saying that the agency was cooperating fully with the FBI. Immigration officials and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police referred all inquiries to CSIS.

The announcement that suspected terrorists were living in Montreal evoked memories of Ahmed Ressam, an Algerian convicted last year of plotting to bomb the Los Angeles International Airport. A Montreal resident, Ressam was arrested in December 1999 trying to enter the United States with bomb-making material in the trunk of his car.

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States blamed on bin Laden, Canada and the United States have agreed to a series of joint measures intended to bolster security along their 4,000-mile border without harming trade between them worth more than $1 billion a day.

U.S. President Bush announced Friday he would seek about $11 billion in spending on border security next year, an increase of $2.1 billion over this year.

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Path of Canadian Al-Qaida Suspects Familiar
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Saturday, January 26, 2002

MONTREAL –– Two Canadian men identified by the United States as a potential al-Qaida suicide attackers have expanded the list of suspected or known terrorists who lived in the North African immigrant communities of East Montreal.

Al Rauf bin Al Habib Bin Yousef al-Jiddi, 36, and Faker Boussora, 37, have similar histories to others now jailed in the United States and elsewhere after being convicted of charges in terrorism-related activity.

Born in a North African country_Tunisia_they came to Canada in the 1990s and obtained Canadian citizenship. They lived in an area dotted with mosques and full of North African immigrants, and where cells of extremist groups have operated.

Al-Jiddi had another similarity with other Montreal-based terrorists_multiple names on official identification. His passport bears the name Abderraouf Jdey, and he also is known as Farouq Al-Tunisi.

The two men reportedly left Canada on a flight to Europe last November, though Canadian and U.S. officials say their whereabouts are unknown.

Residents of the four-story apartment building cited by U.S. officials as al-Jiddi's last known address on Saturday described the Arab man who moved out of the unit last year as quiet and someone kept to himself.

Stephanie Babusiaux of France, who moved into her fiance's apartment one floor below last month, said her fiance told her of meetings by groups of men in the suspect's apartment.

A neighbor of the suspect told her he had been inside the unit once and "there was nothing there," he said.

Another resident, who refused to give her name for security reasons said he was the "tall man" in apartment No.6 moved out late last year. She identified him as al-Jiddi from a photo made public by U.S. officials.

Al-Jiddi was identified on Friday by U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft as the fifth man in videotapes found in the rubble of the residence of Mohammad Atef _reportedly Osama bin Laden's military chief who U.S. officials say was killed in a November U.S. air strike.

The other four were identified when Ashcroft first made the videotapes public last week. In the tapes, all five were leaving suicide messages.

Ashcroft said a photograph of al-Jiddi also was recovered from the rubble, along with a suicide letter by al-Jiddi from August 1999. In the letter, al-Jiddi pledged to die in battle against infidels, according to information released by U.S. authorities.

Al-Jiddi came to Canada in 1991 and obtained citizenship in 1995, according to U.S. and Canadian sources. His passport bears the name Abderraouf Jdey was issued in 1999.

Boussora came from France in 1992 on a student visa to attend a university in Quebec city, The Globe and Mail newspaper reported Saturday. He obtained his Canadian passport last October, but little information about him was available.

The apartment linked to al-Jiddi is in an area of the city used others related to terrorism, such as Ahmed Ressam, the Algerian convicted in the United States last year for plotting to bomb the Los Angeles International Airport during millennium celebrations.

Ressam's arrest in December of 1999 while trying to enter the United States with bomb-making materials in the trunk of his car focused attention on Montreal as the base of cells of radical Arab and North African groups.

Others known to have lived in Montreal include Mokhtar Haouari, convicted as an accomplice in the Ressam case; Adelmajid Dahoumane, an indicted co-conspirator with Ressam reportedly under arrest in Algeria; and Fateh Kamel, convicted in France on terrorism charges.

Allegations that lax immigration and refugee laws allow terrorist cells to operate in Canada have stung the government, which has passed more restrictive policies since the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service warns that dozens of terrorist groups have a presence in Canada's large immigrant communities created under policies intended to boost the population of 30 million.

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Abraham Lincoln Exhibit in Montreal
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Friday, February 15, 2002; 5:11 AM

MONTREAL –– It is a small notebook – brown with age – and its pages record the medical treatment given Abraham Lincoln the night the 16th president was assassinated.

"The surgical aid that could be rendered consisted of keeping the external orifice of the wound free from coagulation and promoting the discharge of blood and brain tissue," wrote Dr. Charles Sabin Taft, a 23-year-old military surgeon. He rushed to treat the president after Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth in 1865 at Ford's Theater in Washington.

Taft's diary is the "most significant" item in a Lincoln collection that went on display Tuesday – Lincoln's birthday – at McGill University, said Irena Murray, curator of McGill's Rare Books Library.

The exhibition runs until April 12 and is the largest private collection of Lincoln artifacts outside the United States. It was given to McGill by Dr. Joseph Nathanson, a 1919 graduate who left it to the university in his will.

"On the day I graduated, I promised that if the fates were willing and I could afford it, I would repay the institution which had given me my life's work," Nathanson, a New York gynecologist who taught for more than 60 years at Cornell University, once said. "I love McGill more than anything else in the world – except my wife."

Murray said giving the collection to a Canadian institution sets it apart.

"Bringing it here, it will shine in a different way than if it were one among the many interesting collections in the United States," Murray said.

The exhibit comprises 3,500 publications on Lincoln in dozens of languages, including books, pamphlets, images and letters.

While other Lincoln exhibits, such as one in the U.S. Library of Congress, take a historical perspective, the McGill exhibition offers "the different schools of thought that have popularly and scholarly imposed themselves on Lincoln," said presidential historian Gil Troy.

The materials cover various periods and themes of Lincoln's life, from his pre-presidential years through the Civil War and then his assassination. Some pamphlets attack the president credited with abolishing slavery.

One photographic portrait was the Matthew Brady picture adapted for the $5 bill, perhaps the best-known image of Lincoln.

The Nathanson Lincoln collection got its start with "Abe Lincoln Grows Up" by Carl Sandburg. He bought it for his daughter in 1937.

Murray said the surgeon's diary was "the most complete set of notes Taft made on the actual events" of Lincoln's assassination.

In it, Taft describes being at the theater, hearing a pistol shot and looking up to see Booth jumping down from Lincoln's box.

Taft wrote that Lincoln was given brandy, which he had trouble drinking. He told of holding Lincoln's head up to prevent the wound from touching the pillow.

The president's breathing "gradually increased in frequency and decreased in strength up to the last breath," Taft wrote.

"To have this kind of eyewitness account from beginning to end is extraordinary and very exciting," Troy said. The exhibit also includes a framed piece of towel stained with Lincoln's blood.

Nathanson said in his will the materials should be available for research. Tuesday's opening on Lincoln's 193rd birthday coincided with the launch of a digital library.

–––
On the Net: Lincoln library: http://digital.library.mcgill.ca/lincoln/
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U.S. Pushes for Air Security Audits
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, February 19, 2002; 4:35 PM

MONTREAL –– The United States pledged $1 million this year and more money over the next two years for a sweeping audit of aviation security worldwide, U.S. officials told an international conference Tuesday.

U.S. Deputy Transportation Secretary Michael Jackson said evaluating security at airports and airlines was a necessary part of new strategies required in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The United States is pushing the International Civil Aviation Organization – a 187-nation U.N. body – to approve an action plan that calls for a global audit and other steps.

ICAO President Assad Kotaite opened the group's two-day security conference by noting that terrorists introduced a new threat – civil aircraft used as "weapons of mass destruction" – and saying the world must act to prevent future tragedies.

"One fatal act of unlawful interference, one fatal accident is one too many," Kotaite told delegates from more than 140 countries and 22 international organizations. "We must do more, especially since today we are faced with a whole new dimension of threat."

The plan of action calls for "universal, regular, mandatory, systematic and harmonized" audits of security standards and practices recommended by the ICAO.

Kotaite said the audits would cost $17 million to conduct, and the ICAO had $2 million to contribute.
Federal Aviation Administrator Jane Garvey told a news conference that the ICAO security audits would be similar to safety audits already conducted to prevent technical failure.

Jackson said the United States would provide $1 million this fiscal year and a similar level of support in the two ensuing years. The United States already provides assistance to countries seeking to comply with ICAO standards, he said.

"The terrorists will look for the weakest link in the chain to access flights internationally," Jackson said. "It would be foolhardy to think only the United States is the target of terrorist ill will."

Jackson also called for stricter security measures aboard planes, including stronger cockpit doors and better training for flight staff to prevent attacks.

Canadian Transport Minister David Collenette announced a contribution of $220,000 for the audit program.

Malawi delegate Willie Konzakapansi, who oversees airports in the southern African country, said the audit would help nations learn what needed to be done to meet international standards.

"Looking at the scope, the extent of work which is required in this program, it is obvious we will need outside assistance to help us," he said.

Kotaite said it was in every nation's interest to take part, noting the economic devastation from the Sept. 11 attacks. He said 120,000 aviation jobs have been cut, with airlines losing $10 billion in 2001.

Another 170,000 aerospace industry jobs disappeared and the industry worldwide lost $7.5 billion in 2001, Kotaite said.
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Nations Voice Concern Over Profiling
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, February 20, 2002; 8:50 PM

MONTREAL –– A bloc of nations including Saudi Arabia, China and India on Wednesday urged a halt to racial profiling as part of enhanced airport security measures.

"Such unacceptable practices ... only succeed in causing insult and injury," said a statement by 17 countries presented to a conference of the International Civil Aviation Organization.

The U.N. body endorsed an action plan that includes mandatory audits of aviation security in member countries and other measures to combat terrorism in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Debate over the racial profiling issue delayed the closing news conference almost two hours. The final declaration included a paragraph in which members declared a commitment to implement security measures "in a manner which is objective and non-discriminatory on the basis of gender, race, religion or nationality."

The U.S. government uses a program called the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System to root out potential terror suspects. Program defenders say it avoids racial or ethnic profiling, though some Arab-Americans have complained.

ICAO President Assad Kotaite said the audits would cost $17 million to conduct, and the ICAO had $2 million to contribute. He told the final news conference the organization had received pledges for another $2.4 million so far for 2002.

On Tuesday, the United States pledged $1 million this year and more money in the next two years for the audit program.

Kotaite has repeatedly warned that failure to react strongly to the Sept. 11 attacks, in which hijacked commercial flights were flown into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, would cause catastrophic harm to the global air travel industry with a ripple effect in other sectors.

"I'm convinced the results we have obtained will greatly contribute to protect human lives and restore the confidence of the public," Kotaite said of the conference attended by more than 700 delegates from 154 countries and 24 international organizations.

While the ICAO lacks enforcement power, Kotaite noted that countries failing to meet its recommendations risked a loss of international air travel.
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Canadian Artist Riopelle Dies
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, March 13, 2002; 8:12 PM
MONTREAL –– Jean-Paul Riopelle, an abstract expressionist painter and sculptor who was the first Canadian to have a painting sell for more than $1 million, has died. He was 78.

Riopelle died Tuesday at his home on Ile-aux-Grues on the St. Lawrence River east of Quebec City, said Robert Tourigny, a nurse who cared for the painter. The cause of death was not disclosed.

"He died calm and serene," Tourigny told RDI, a French-language television news channel. "He always said he wanted to die at home, surrounded by his things, in his bed, just like a bird in its nest."

Riopelle spent most of his adult years in France, building an international reputation in the 1950s and mingling with the intellectual celebrities of the era.

He was a member of the informal group of expatriate artists known as the Ecole de Paris (School of Paris), which also included Marc Chagall, according to the Artcyclopedia Web site.

Riopelle's works were exhibited around the world. In 1989, one of his paintings sold for $1.4 million at a New York auction. It was the largest amount paid for a Canadian painting at the time and the first to exceed $1 million, according to media reports.

Prime Minister Jean Chretien called Riopelle one of Canada's greatest artists.
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G-8 Leaders Talk About Terrorism
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Monday, May 13, 2002; 11:02 PM

MONT-TREMBLANT, Quebec –– Ministers from the world's industrial powers began two days of talks Monday by looking at links between terrorist fund-raising and organized crime.

The meeting of the G-8 justice and interior ministers in this mountain resort an hour north of Montreal is a prelude to the G-8 summit in June involving leaders from the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia.

With terrorism in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States an agenda item for the June summit, the justice ministers were focusing on efforts to dismantle terrorist funding and other anti-terrorist measures.

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said after Monday's opening session that terrorist financing and international crime have become almost inseparable.

"We find that transnational criminal activity is associated with terrorism," such as drug trade money going to terrorist groups, Ashcroft said. "We need to expand and improve international cooperation to confront the internationalization of criminal and especially terrorist activity."

An international campaign to block terrorist funding has seized or frozen more than $100 million so far. Canadian Solicitor General Lawrence MacAulay warned Sunday that such steps could cause terrorist groups to turn to organized crime to raise money.

"We have to look at it as a possibility that they will join forces," MacAulay said. "We are still dealing with them as two different issues."

Canadian Justice Minister Martin Cauchon said the Monday morning session also covered the threat from chemical, biological, nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.

Afternoon talks agreed on the need to set up an international databank to share information on child pornography, though Cauchon said issues such as privacy and enabling legislation remain unresolved.

"The way we think that a databank could work is that you will have in the databank some images of victims," Cauchon said. "You will have as well ... some names of criminals that have been involved in such a crime."

He and MacAulay also held bilateral talks with Ashcroft on tightening security along the 4,000-mile border between the world's largest trade partners.

Ashcroft called Canada and the United States "two great friends ... united to form a common defense against a common enemy."
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Battling Cyber crime, terrorism focus of g-8 justice ministers
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, May 14, 2002

MONT-TREMBLANT, Quebec –– An international database on child pornography. Further steps to cut terrorist financing. Tracking crime through the Internet.

Justice ministers from the world's industrial powers concluded two days of talks Tuesday with an agreement to work together on major crime and security problems they face, including the fight against terrorism after Sept. 11.

A summary of the talks by the top justice officials from the Group of Eight countries - Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States - called the convergence of criminality involving terrorism, organized crime and so-called cyber crime a growing threat.

The meeting was a prelude to the G-8 summit on June 26-27 in Kananaskis, Alberta, where terrorism will be one of the three agenda items, along with the state of the global economy and a new African development program.

While pledging greater international cooperation in battling crime and terrorism, the summary offered few details about specific programs or steps to come.

The participants, including U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, endorsed an international databank on child pornography, but privacy issues and the need for matching legislation in participating countries make setting a timetable impossible for now.

They also said they would work toward enacting the Council of Europe Convention on Cyber Crime, considered a groundbreaking international treaty on combatting Internet crime.

"Criminals are using the Internet to plan and commit crimes and, in doing so, they leave an electronic trail behind," said Canadian Justice Minister Martin Cauchon.

Questions about how to follow that trail need to be resolved, Cauchon said, noting that laws must be formulated for police to get access to Internet information and e-mail without violating privacy rights.

He said Canada intended to work with Internet service providers, the business community and others to work out a system for preserving computer data. New legislation would set rules for turning over information for police investigations, he said.

Canadian Solicitor General Lawrence MacAulay said the meeting also agreed more could be done to cut terrorist funding, with more than dlrs 100 million U.S. seized or frozen so far due to efforts by 151 countries.

"Whether through judicial cooperation to deny support and sanctuary to terrorists, through tracing the actions and communications of terrorists and other criminals over the global Internet, or through coordination at the operational level - the G-8 has taken important steps to enhance their counter-terrorism strategy," said the summary of the talks.
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Greenspan: Economic Prospects Brighter
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, June 4, 2002; 5:24 PM

MONTREAL –– Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said Tuesday that America's economic prospects were looking brighter, but cautioned that economic growth in the coming months will slow from the January-March pace.

"I suspect the American economy is in an upswing – it's not going to be a dramatic upswing ... but events look increasingly positive," Greenspan said in response to questions during a panel discussion with other central bankers.

The U.S. economy, which suffered its first recession in a decade last year, rebounded at an annual rate of 5.6 percent in this year's first quarter. But Greenspan, agreeing with the consensus of private forecasters, said that going forward, "We will not grow at the pace of the first quarter."

Many private forecasters say the economy will turn in growth rates of between 3 percent and 4 percent for the rest of the year. U.S. unemployment, currently at an eight-year high of 6 percent, is expected to peak around 6.5 percent later this summer before starting to decline.

The central bank, after pushing interest rates to a 40-year low of 1.75 percent last year to fight the recession and the shocks from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, has left rates unchanged so far this year.

Many analysts believe the Fed will remain on the sidelines until at least their August meeting, waiting for signs that the jobless rate has begun to fall.

The central bank has room to maneuver, because so far inflation outside of energy prices has remained moderate. In his remarks Tuesday, Greenspan said businesses still had very little power to raise prices because of the lingering effects from last year's recession. But he cautioned that it would be a mistake for central bankers to let down their guard against the threat of inflation.

Greenspan said last year's recession, the first in the United States since 1990-91, would turn out to be the shallowest of the past 50 years. For that reason, the rebound this year would be "pedestrian," he said, because the economy did not have to make up much lost ground.

He said the U.S. economy was able to bounce back so quickly from the recession and the terrorist attacks because of a "dramatic increase" in the use of information technology by companies, which allowed them to quickly adjust to changing circumstances.

He also credited the growing use of derivatives, financial instruments that are linked to the underlying value of a certain asset such as stocks or commodities. He said companies used derivatives to spread their risks.

These factors had allowed for a quick rebound from events such as the terrorist attacks that "would have upended the economy" in the past, Greenspan said.

His comments came at the International Monetary Conference, an annual event in which top officials at the world's largest banks meet with central bankers to discuss problems facing the international financial system.

Greenspan appeared on a panel with Wim Duisenberg, the head of the European Central Bank; Eddie George, governor of the Bank of England, and David Dodge, head of the Bank of Canada.
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Some Scuffling in Anti-G-8 Protests
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, June 27, 2002; 2:22 AM

KANANASKIS, Alberta –– Kept far from their target, protesters opposed to capitalism and globalization used everything from naked dancers to marchers hurling paint-filled balloons to send their message to the summit of the world's industrial powers.

The demonstrations Wednesday in Calgary, about 85 miles east of the meeting venue, and in Ottawa, 2,000 miles further away, were mostly peaceful. During violent protests at last year's Group of Eight summit in Genoa, Italy, one person died.

Hoping to avoid major confrontations this year, the world leaders met in relative seclusion at the Kananaskis resort in the Canadian Rockies. The increased threat of terrorism after Sept. 11 brought intense security, with checkpoints, guarded by camouflage-clad, automatic weapon-toting soldiers, stationed every few hundred yards on the lone paved road to the remote retreat.

Some protesters angered by the lack of access to the leaders of the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia tried to approach the site.

A busload of 15 postal service union members seeking to deliver a protest letter to the leaders was turned back at a police roadblock, with one man arrested for interfering with a peace officer. About 100 vehicles later formed a caravan from Calgary that police allowed through some of the initial roadblocks so they could stage a symbolic protest.

While no major violence occurred, incidents like the burning of a U.S. flag outside the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa and a shoving match between scores of protesters and police at a McDonald's restaurant in Calgary underscored tensions surrounding the demonstrations.

The Ottawa protest ranged from the brazen, when a dozen people danced nude in front of Canada's Parliament, to the bellicose, with some black-clad demonstrators throwing golf balls and paint-filled balloons that damaged street lamps, a bank window and a police car.

Protesters blocked traffic, beat drums and shouted "Capitalism Kills," "The Enemy is Profit," and "Down with the G-8".

"It was a great success," said Lisa Freeman of the Anti-Capitalist Community Action. "People were marching for an end to this capitalist system and these elite G-8 leaders who are hiding out in Alberta."

One man was arrested when protesters stopped the police from apprehending another man. A police officer was seen bleeding from the nose after the scuffle.

In Calgary, a festival-like morning march by 1,000 people snarled traffic but remained peaceful. Afterward, a smaller group headed into the center of the city with dozens of police on bicycles keeping a close watch.

Outside a downtown McDonald's restaurant, the 150 protesters confronted a line of officers who pushed them back, resulting in a brief shoving match. Some protesters shouted "fascists" and "racists" at the police, while others tried to calm the situation.

The group eventually moved on.

Despite the relatively successful day of managing the protests, Calgary police spokesman Al Redford said officers are braced for things to change.

"Summit security remains at a high state of alert," he said, "and we are still ready to respond to any eventuality."
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Fears of Violent Protest  Against G-8 Summit Prove Unfounded
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, June 27, 2002
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) - More than 2,000 demonstrators marched in the rain shouting "Free the people, not the market" and "G-8, shut it down!" Thursday as the Group of Eight closed out a summit that was free of the kind of violence that left a protester dead last year.
The leaders at the secluded summit in western Canada never heard the protesters, who were half a continent away in the capital of Ottawa.

The summit was held in the Rocky Mountain resort of Kananaskis, about 65 miles west of Calgary, because its secluded setting made it impossible for protesters to get close, avoiding a repeat of violent protests at last year's meeting in Genoa, Italy.

"Each protest is becoming more and more impotent," grumbled a protester in Ottawa who gave only his first name, Dennis.

Nonetheless, under the close watch of police, the protesters took to the streets in Ottawa.

"It's a march of 1,000 flags of resistance against war, imperialism, capitalism, genocide, and racism," Lisa Freeman of protest coordinators Take the Capital said. "It's pro-indigenous, immigrant and refugee rights, and people's right for self-determination."

Police kept their distance; the protesters were less belligerent than a crowd the day before that hurled golf balls and paint-filled balloons at buildings.

In Calgary, dozens of protesters rolled in the mud at a downtown park and sang songs celebrating Mother Earth at a festival-like gathering.

"This has really been a lot of fun," said Terri Kirby, an anti-globalization activist who traveled from Vancouver to take part. "We got our messages across, hung out together, heard some decent music and we're free. No one I know has been thrown in jail."

The lack of violence had police claiming success for balancing their response.

"'We need to treat each and every summit on a case-by-case basis," said Staff Sgt. Mike Gaudet of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. "We're very pleased that there's been this commitment obviously from the police, but also from those large numbers of protesters who came here to be heard and seen in a peaceful way."

On Wednesday, some protesters angered by the lack of access to the leaders from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States tried to approach Kananaskis. They were turned back at a police roadblock, with one man arrested for interfering with a peace officer.

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Quebec Celebrates Pope in Canada
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Wed Jul 24, 3:26 PM ET

MONTREAL (AP) - While some in Quebec are miffed that the Roman Catholic church is holding World Youth Day in Toronto instead of Canada's most Catholic province, celebrations still were held in Montreal and other cities for the visit of Pope John Paul ( news - web sites) II.

Thousands of young pilgrims stopped in Montreal en route to Toronto for the Youth Day festivities that culminate in a July 28 outdoor Mass expected to attract more than half a million people.

The scene in Montreal last weekend looked a lot like a World Youth Day, with youngsters gathered around St. Joseph's basilica or carrying musical instruments across nearby Cote-des-Neiges street. At St. Jean Baptiste church, pilgrims dressed in traditional French Polynesian garb broke into a chant and danced.

Hughette Bergeron-Fortin, a World Youth Day spokeswoman for Quebec, said 15,000 people were riding 250 buses for the trip to Toronto. She called the pope's visit to Canada this year "good news," but acknowledged that holding the event in predominantly Catholic Quebec "would certainly have pleased us."

Toronto, Canada's largest city, secured the right to host the event that traditionally attracts hundreds of thousands of young people from around the world because of its ability to handle such a major gathering.

In Francophone Quebec, more than 80 percent of the 7 million population identify themselves as Catholic. But the tenor of Catholicism here has drifted far from the conservative teachings espoused by the pope.

Introduced by French settlers and spread by Jesuit missionaries, Catholicism in Quebec grew into a dominating conservative force that once permeated almost every aspect of society. Today, though, Quebec's Roman Catholic church is considered liberal, with leaders acknowledging the need to revitalize by attracting young people.

In a column in Le Devoir newspaper, journalist Jean-Marc Leger argued that a World Youth Day outside Quebec ignored "the important role of New France and of French Canada in the teachings of the Christian faith, the spreading of Catholicism and the development of the church in North America."

"Most North American diocese originate, directly or indirectly, from those of Quebec and Montreal," Leger wrote.

From the days when discoverer Jacques Cartier planted his cross and settlers colonized New France in the 16th century, religion has been a cornerstone of Quebec culture and identity.

The Catholic church ran schools, hospitals and most social services in the province in the first half of the 20th century. Father Louis Cyr of the St. Francis Xavier Mission described it as "a dictator church which told you how to behave, what to do."

A period of political and social reform in the 1950s and '60s, known as the "Quiet Revolution," gave birth to Quebec's separatist movement while eroding the church's influence here. Within a decade, the province considered Canada's most church-bound and backward became one of the most forward-thinking and liberal in the country.

Today, churchgoing has dropped in Quebec, with only 20 percent saying they regularly attend Sunday Mass, and a 2001 Montreal city report warned 100 churches could be sold in the next five years.

"When the pendulum swings the other way, it compensates. It doesn't stop halfway," Cyr said.

Still, John Paul is wildly popular in Quebec as leader of the Catholic church, even though most people disagree with his conservative views. Although the Vatican ( news - web sites) says a 1984 youth rally in Rome inspired World Youth Day, some in Montreal believe a rally here when the pope visited that same year was the force beyond the annual celebration of young Catholics.

The 60,000 people in Olympic Stadium on Sept. 11, 1984, cheered the pope like a rock star and heard a 16-year-old Quebec girl named Celine Dion ( news - web sites) sing to him on a night that remains vivid in many memories.

"There is no doubt that rally was one for the history books, and it was just one year later that the World Youth Day started taking shape," noted Monsignor Robert Sansoucy, the main World Youth Day coordinator for Quebec.

Last Sunday night, about 30,000 people went to Olympic Stadium where once again, pop music mixed with religious themes at a rally honoring the pontiff, this time still back in the Vatican preparing to travel. The French-language RDI television channel rebroadcast the 1984 rally at the same time.
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Pilgrims Ready for Pope's Mass
Associated Press
Saturday, July 27, 2002; 3:25 PM

TORONTO –– In a parade of faith stretching for miles, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims made their way to a former airfield to join Pope John Paul II for a nighttime vigil Saturday and Sunday Mass that concludes World Youth Day celebrations.

Waving flags and singing songs, the crowd jammed streets in north Toronto as the pontiff met briefly in separate audiences with Prime Minister Jean Chretien and other Canadian leaders.

"Go back in good health and pray for no rain tonight," Marilyn Lastman, wife of Mayor Mel Lastman, told the 82-year-old pope hours before the all-night vigil that was expected to draw at least 500,000 people.

The Mass on Sunday will conclude nearly a week of activities marking World Youth Day, an event inaugurated by John Paul in 1985. More than 200,000 young Catholics from 170 nations registered this year, a decline from previous years.

There was no lack of enthusiasm among the multitudes who walked in midday heat, huddling under overpasses and in the shade of trucks to avoid the sun. Some welcomed water sprayed on them by people on highway bridges, and paramedics on golf carts cruised alongside to assist those overcome by the high humidity and 86-degree temperature.

"You feel the world is coming all together for the same reason," said 14-year-old Annalynn David of Sacramento, Calif. "My heart is beating madly, and I'm sure it will beat even harder when I see the pope again."

Lisa Hieronynus, 27, of New York City said the huge numbers bolstered the faith of those gathering here as the Roman Catholic church tries to emerge from the sex-abuse scandals in the United States.

"It's not every day that you get to experience this kind of solidarity," she said. "A lot of people were shaken and a lot people woke up. This sort of event will help the pope in the long run."

In downtown Toronto on Friday night, pilgrims by the tens of thousands watched a somber re-enactment of the crucifixion as the pope watched on television from his Strawberry Island retreat north of the city, where he has rested since arriving Tuesday night.

John Paul was flown by helicopter to the city a few hours before Saturday's vigil for his visit with the political leaders. He was scheduled to spend two hours at the vigil on Saturday night, then return to the Downsview Park site on Sunday morning to celebrate Mass with a crowd that organizers say could reach 1 million worshippers.

The pope proceeds to Guatemala on Monday, then to Mexico to complete his 11-day trip, the 97th of his nearly quarter-century papacy. While aides had expressed concern the trip would be too much for his declining health, the pope has surprised all by looking stronger and speaking more clearly than in recent months.
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Pope to Hold Mass at World Youth Day
Associated Press
Sunday, July 28, 2002; 7:41 AM

TORONTO –– A dawn storm drenched hundreds of thousands of Catholic faithful sleeping outside at the World Youth Day vigil before Sunday's final Mass with Pope John Paul II.

Gray morning skies greeted the throng that stretched as far as the eye could see at a former airfield converted to a giant outdoor church, with a 160-foot cross towering above from the stage.

"When it stopped, we all woke up in puddles," said Cynthia Lashinski, 17, still in her sleeping bag with plastic on the bottom in a futile attempt to ward off the wet.

The Mass concludes a week of World Youth Day activities in which the frail, 82-year-old pontiff has preached a message of devotion to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

During a 2½-hour prayer service at the vigil on Saturday night, John Paul urged young pilgrims to become builders of a new civilization of freedom, peace and love.

The crowd of more than 500,000 cheered him wildly, waving flags from every corner of the world and chanting his name in open affection.

Speaking in French and English, the pontiff said the new millennium opened with two contrasting scenarios: the sight of pilgrims in Rome for the Holy Year, and the "terrible terrorist attack on New York, an image that is sort of an icon of a world in which hostility and hatred seem to prevail."

"The question that arises is dramatic: On what foundation must we build the new historical era that is emerging from the great transformations of the 20th century?" he asked.

His voice strong despite symptoms of Parkinson's disease and other health problems, John Paul asked whether it was enough to rely on the technological revolution without referring to an individual's spiritual dimension.

The answer: "Christ alone is the cornerstone on which it is possible to build one's existence."

He urged young people to be the builders of a "civilization of love" and learn "to build brick by brick, the city of God within the city of man."

John Paul waved at the leaping, shouting young people along the route of his "popemobile" as it made its way to a giant stage adorned with the cross, which was visible for miles. Among those in the crowd was Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

For one of the few times so far on the trip that began Tuesday, John Paul used a cart pushed by aides to cross the stage, his normal practice in recent months. In Canada, he had made a point of walking with a cane, usually with an aide holding his arm.

Throughout Saturday, crowds of people singing songs and carrying what they needed to spend the night outdoors jammed streets in north Toronto to get to the concrete expanse at Downsview Park as big as 180 soccer fields.

John Paul met briefly in separate audiences with Chretien and other Canadian leaders before flying by helicopter to the park.

More than 200,000 young Catholics from 170 nations registered for this year' tion among the young.

There was no lack of enthusiasm among the multitudes who walked for miles to the vigil in midday summer heat Saturday. Some welcomed water sprayed on them by people on highway bridges, and paramedics on golf carts cruised alongside to assist those overcome by the high humidity and temperatures.

"You feel the world is coming all together for the same reason," said 14-year-old Annalynn David of Sacramento, Calif.

Lisa Hieronynus, 27, of New York City, said the huge numbers bolstered the faith of those gathering here as the Roman Catholic church tries to emerge from the sex-abuse scandals in the United States.

"It's not every day that you get to experience this kind of solidarity," she said. "A lot of people were shaken and a lot of people woke up. This sort of event will help the pope in the long run."

Many brought tents and others built improvised shelters of tarpaulins, plastic barricades and cardboard boxes. In one makeshift camp, Los Angeles youth minister Erick Rubalcava, 28, had a box with a mini-television and battery-powered fan.

"I'm all set," he said. "It's kind of skid row but it's kind of luxurious."

On Monday, the pope proceeds to Guatemala, then to Mexico to complete his 11-day trip, the 97th of his nearly quarter-century papacy. While aides had expressed concern that the trip would be too much for his declining health, the pope has surprised all by looking stronger and speaking more clearly than in recent months.
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New England, Canada Leaders: Loosen Border
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Monday, Aug 26,10:43 PM ET

QUEBEC (AP) - Governors from New England states and premiers of eastern Canadian provinces have called for a smoother flow of goods across the U.S.-Canadian border despite increased security after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Competing for global markets must be a priority for the U.S.-Canada trade partnership, the world's largest at more than $1 billion a day, the governors and premiers said Monday, the first day of their annual two-day talks.

Despite the security concerns of the post-Sept. 11 era, they said, speeding up traffic across the border should be a priority.

A resolution they adopted reflected the thinking: While expressing sympathy to the victims of the attacks that killed and injured thousands in the United States, they called for further talks to "facilitate the smooth flow of peoples and goods avcross the border while at the same time contributing to a higher level of border security."

The 27th Annual Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers, entiled "New Frontiers in Regional Cooperation," focused Monday on North American trade and the need to team up to compete with Europe.

Maine Gov. Angus S. King said "it makes no sense" that people can travel without a border check between France and Germany, who were war rivals this century, while the border between the United States and Canada requires check points.

"We can do more and better," said Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln C. Almond of the $21-billion trade relationship among the Northeast states and Canadian provinces.

Michael Gadbaw, a General electric executive invited as a panelist on the border trade issue, said everyone benefits from easing the ability to move goods and people across the border for trade.

"It is easy to see that unimpeded movement and rapid customs clearance of goods across the Canadian-U.S. border is absolutely critical to the success of operations," Gadbaw said, noting one GE plant in Quebec sends 80 percent of its business across the border. "Security enforcement and compliance are inseparable from trade facilitation."

Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge and Canadian Deputy Prime Minister John Manley have been working on a 30-point "smart border" agreement intended to speed traffic while raising security.

The agreement, which could be completed by the end of the year, is expected to include high-tech solutions such as cargo monitors for trucks and trains that would allow them to cross the border without stopping. Iris scanning devices and other technology also are coming to border points.

The Sept. 11 resolution reaffirmed the solidarity and friendship of people of the Northeast and called for expanding collaboration in emergency preparedness. After approving the resolution, the governors and premiers observed a moment of silence.

Other issues on the agenda include the development of energy markets, environmental cooperation and climate change.

Later Monday, energy officials from Canada and New England states praised a new power cable across Long Island Sound that can transport up to 380 megawatts in either direction during peak emergencies.

The Cross Sound Cable offers better management of assets and more control over costs, said Andre Caille, head of Hydro Quebec, the parent company for the project.

"The greatest challenge is to transport the energy to where it is needed, when it is needed," Caille said. While acknowledging opposition by Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and others, Caille said the cable had all the necessary permits to begin operating.

Gordon van Welie, president and chief executive officer of ISO New England Inc., thanked Canada for power that helped the region deal with what he called the hottest summer on record. He also thanked Caille for the Cross Sound Cable saying such projects offer more options for dealing with emergency conditions.

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U.S. official heads to Canada to resume softwood lumber talks
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Monday, Aug 26, 7:21 PM ET

QUEBEC - A senior U.S. official flew to Canada on Monday to resume talks on resolving the softwood lumber trade dispute, a U.S. consular official said.

Grant Aldonas, under secretary for international trade at the U.S. Commerce Department ( news - web sites), was due in Vancouver, British Columbia, later Monday, said Dominique Nadeau of the U.S. consulate in Quebec City.

The Bush administration slapped antidumping duties averaging 27 percent on softwood imports from four Canadian provinces in May, contending that Canadian lumber imports threatened the U.S. industry.

Canada challenged the duties at the World Trade Organization ( news - web sites), which ruled in Canada's favor last month on a preliminary issue.

Quebec Premier Bernard Landry said Monday that the talks would shift from seeking an overall solution to meetings between the United States and individual provinces, which have different interests in the softwood lumber dispute. He said the U.S. envoy would be in Quebec on Sept. 20.

Softwood lumber from pine, spruce, fir and hemlock trees is used to frame houses. Canada exports dlrs 6.2 billion U.S. in softwood lumber a year to the United States, supplying about one-third of the American market.

Most U.S. timber is harvested from private land at market prices, while in Canada, the government owns 90 percent of timberlands and charges fees, called stumpage, for logging. The fee is based on the cost of maintaining and restoring the forest.

U.S. timber companies contend that Canada's fees are artificially low, calling them subsidies that allow Canadian mills to sell wood below market value and avoid layoffs even during slow times.

Canadian mills employ more than 80,000 people, government figures show, and a prolonged battle over the U.S. duties could eliminate a quarter of those jobs or more, officials say. British Colombia, Quebec and Ontario would be among the hardest-hit areas.

Thousands of workers have lost their jobs since May and lumber exports have dropped, according to Canadian officials.
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New England, Canada Discuss Ecology
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, Aug 27, 5:06 PM ET

QUEBEC (AP) - Governors from New England states and premiers of eastern Canadian provinces agreed Tuesday to study greenhouse gas emissions to try to slow global warming ( news - web sites).

A resolution asking to "evaluate and recommend options for reducing greenhouse emissions" was one of nine approved at the two-day meeting involving six U.S. states and five Canadian provinces.

The U.S. government has rejected the Kyoto Protocol ( news - web sites), an international agreement that calls for mandatory reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. Canada's government says it intends to ratify the 1997 protocol but has come under pressure from the energy industry not to do so.

Gov. Jane Swift of Massachusetts told the closing news conference for the 27th Annual Conference of New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers that studying emissions limits did not contradict U.S. policy.

Having states set limits on emissions "is compatible with the Bush administration's perspective that we have to deal with this in a regional way," Swift said.

Premier Bernard Lord of New Brunswick said working together on greenhouse gas emissions could set an example for other regions.

Another resolution called on the U.S. and Canadian governments to increase funding for research on air pollution and take "economically feasible measures" to reduce air pollutants that cause health problems downwind.

An update to the group's climate plan signed last year reported stronger indications of global warming such as glacial retreat and longer ice-free periods on lakes and waterways.

The meeting stressed closer ties between the United States and Canada, with Monday's talks focusing on speeding the flow of people and goods across the border while maintaining tighter security in the post-Sept. 11 era.

On Tuesday, Quebec Premier Bernard Landry mentioned a common North American currency as a possible long-term goal, noting the strength of the euro showed the tendency toward a monetary union. Others also called for closer relations but said steps such as a common currency were far off.
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Anti-doping agency approves second draft of global code
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, Oct. 1, 7:12 PM ET

MONTREAL - The World Anti-Doping Agency approved a second draft of its proposed universal anti-doping code Tuesday but complained that deadbeat nations — including the United States — were creating funding problems.

Dick Pound, the agency's president and a top International Olympic Committee official, said the WADA executive committee adopted the revised code that included changes suggested in 122 comments received from sports federations, governments, anti-doping agencies and others.

He said the biggest changes from the first draft circulated earlier this year were:
_ an expanded definition of doping to include genetic doping and oxygen transfer agents;
_ clarifying doping control responsibilities among various agencies in existence; and,
_ the possible disqualification of all results of an athlete who tests positive, instead of just the event in which the positive test occurred.

Pound said some questions remained open to discussion, such as whether a two-year ban would be automatic for first-time offenders. Consideration of the athlete's circumstances — age, professional status, nature of the offense — could factor in determining the length of a ban, he said.

Another question was whether the mere presence of a banned substance in an athlete's system constituted a violation, Pound said.

WADA hoped to have a final version ready for consideration and approval at a world anti-doping conference in March in Copenhagen, Pound said. On Monday, he said the goal is to get all Olympic sports federations and participating countries to sign memorandums of understanding on adopting the code before the Athens Olympics in 2004.

Meanwhile, WADA director general Harry Syvasalmi complained that the agency set up by the IOC after the doping scandal at the 1998 Tour de France cycling event had received less than half the US$8.5 million in funding for 2002 promised by countries around the world.

The funding formula calls for the IOC to match contributions by nations, and Syvasalmi appealed to governments to pay what they said they would. So far, the IOC had contributed just over US$5 million compared to the US$4.275 million given by countries, according to a list on the WADA Web site — www.wada-ama.org.

The list showed the United States has failed to pay any of the US$800,000 pledged, with Germany, Italy and Russia failing to pay any of the US$504,978 they each owe.

Britain and France both had paid all of their US$504,978 obligation, and Japan paid its US$1.5 million commitment, the largest of any country, according to the list.

"The situation regarding our funding needs to be urgently addressed," Syvasalmi said. "Governments themselves agreed to the shares they will pay and they must adhere to the commitments they made. It is clear that they are expected to fulfill their obligations."

The anti-doping code would be the first set of universal doping rules for international sports. Among other things, it would establish a single list of banned substances, mandate rigorous out-of-competition testing, and set standard penalties and suspensions for drug cheats, including two-year bans for serious offenses.

It would cover Olympic sports, but professional leagues such as Major League Baseball would not necessarily come under the code except if its athletes compete in the Olympics or other international events.

For years, the IOC has held out the veiled threat that sports could be dropped from the Olympics if they fail to live up to anti-doping rules. No action has been taken.

IOC president Jacques Rogge recently said he would not hesitate to act against sports or national Olympic committees if, after having their views incorporated in the code, they fail to go along.
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Global Fund to Fight AIDS to begin distributing aid soon
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Sunday, Oct. 6, 11:03 PM ET

MONTREAL - An independent group that has raised more than US$2 billion this year to fight AIDS and other diseases announced its first shipments of aid would reach 40 countries by the end of this year.
The Geneva-based Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria , an independent partnership between the private sector and governments, has collected US$2.1 billion in pledges by governments, corporations and individuals.

"A quarter of the money is in the bank and it's enough to cover the first round of handouts, which should be made in the weeks ahead," the Fund's executive director, Richard Feachem, said Sunday at the opening of a Montreal world conference on lung health.

Feachem said Haiti, Ghana, Tanzania and Sri Lanka would be among the first in a list of 40 countries to receive US$630 million worth of aid over the next two years.

Projects approved by the fund included a program of vouchers to help subsidize the sale of bed nets soaked in insecticide in Tanzania, to prevent mosquito bites that can lead to malaria.

The United States government was by far the largest donor with pledges of US$500 million, followed by the governments of Britain, Italy and Japan with US$200 million each.

Individual donors included the U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, a major proponent of the Fund, who pledged US$100,000.

Feachem said the Fund would work with auditing firms "to improve oversight of donated aid money and make sure that it gets where it's most needed in a rapid way."
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WADA head to meet with U.S. drug czar on money owed
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Thu Nov 7, 3:09 PM ET

MONTREAL - The head of the World Anti-Doping Agency will travel to Washington next week to urge U.S. officials to pay what they owe for the agency's budget.
Richard Pound, the WADA president and a top International Olympic Committee (news - web sites) official, will meet Nov. 13 with U.S. anti-drug chief John Walters to discuss the $800,000 owed by the United States, WADA director general Harri Syvasalmi said Thursday.
The United States is the biggest deadbeat among countries that pledged $8.5 million for the WADA budget in 2002. The IOC is matching that amount, accounting for most of the money in the $18 million WADA budget.

So far, just over $10 million of the total has been paid, according to WADA.

Farnaz Khadem, the WADA communications director who will accompany Pound to Washington, said the purpose of the trip is to remind the U.S. government to include the money in the budget process.

Syvasalmi said he will be meeting with Russia's sports minister next week to urge Moscow to pay the $504,978 it pledged. Italy also owes that amount, while a number of smaller countries in Europe, Africa and Central and South America also have yet to fulfill their pledges.

Britain, France and Germany all have paid their $504,978 obligation, and Japan paid its $1.5 million commitment, the largest of any country.

WADA is working on a final draft of a world anti-doping code that would be the first set of universal doping rules for international sports. Among other things, it would establish a single list of banned substances, mandate rigorous out-of-competition testing, and set standard penalties and suspensions for drug cheats, including two-year bans for serious offenses.

The code would cover Olympic sports, but professional leagues such as Major League Baseball would not necessarily come under the code except if its athletes compete in the Olympics or other international events.

It is expected to be adopted at a world anti-doping conference in March in Copenhagen, and would be in effect for the Athens Olympics in 2004.

WADA was set up by the IOC after the doping scandal at the 1998 Tour de France cycling event. The agency is based in Montreal with a staff of 27 people.
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Proposed Anti-Doping Code Debated
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Monday, November 25, 2002; 4:16 PM

MONTREAL –– Officials of the World Anti-Doping Agency argued Monday over penalties and deadlines for the proposed global anti-doping code for international sports.

The code, which would be the first set of universal doping rules, is scheduled to be completed at an international anti-doping conference in March in Copenhagen, Denmark.

WADA president Dick Pound, who also is a top International Olympic Committee official, wants the code in place for the Athens Olympics in 2004.

Pound also wants governments of all countries in the Olympic movement to adopt the code, which means professional leagues like the NFL, NBA and NHL would come under the regulation.

He said Monday the Copenhagen conference, expected to invite more than 1,000 delegates and journalists, should consider a final version of the code rather than hammer out details.

"I don't want Copenhagen to be the opening of a great debate. We're not going to start redrafting the code or standards," he said, adding the event "could be the most important meeting in the history of the fight against doping in sports."

The code would establish a single list of banned substances, mandate rigorous out-of-competition testing, and set standard penalties and suspensions for drug cheats, including two-year bans for serious offenses.

At Monday's meeting, board members focused on fundamental elements of the code, including the lengths of proposed bans and how an athlete would appeal their disqualification.

"Defining what is to be done to reduce the penalty is where the devils are in the details," said Richard Young, a WADA official working on the code project.

WADA communications officer Frederic Donze said the penalties would likely be the focus of major debate until the code is adopted. The deadline for responses to the second draft is Dec. 10.
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N.Y. Police Say Model's Murder Solved
The Associated Press
Saturday, December 7, 2002; 3:41 AM

Twenty years after a rising French-Canadian fashion model was stabbed to death in her apartment, police have named her alleged killer: A top broadcaster known as the king of Montreal's high-flying early '80s disco scene.

Radio and television personality Alain Montpetit confessed to at least two women that he attacked Elite agency model Marie Josee St. Antoine in the foyer of her apartment, New York Police Detective Stefano Braccini said in an interview this week.

Montpetit died of a cocaine overdose in a Washington hotel five years after St. Antoine was killed.

His sister, Francine Montpetit, declined to comment on the allegation when reached at her home near Montreal.

"That's an old story," she said. "I'm not interested in commenting."

St. Antoine's body was discovered in her fourth-floor apartment near Gramercy Park early on the morning of June 18, 1982. The striking 24-year-old model, featured on fashion magazine covers and active in New York and Montreal nightlife, had been repeatedly stabbed in the chest, neck and torso.

"This was pure rage," Detective Stefano Braccini said of the attack, which his "cold case" squad began to investigate last year. "This is a tragedy. She could have been the next Cheryl Tiegs."

Cold case squad detectives interviewed approximately 40 people as they reconstructed the events surrounding the attack. Two women told investigators that Montpetit had confessed his guilt to them, investigators said. And one of Montpetit's former girlfriends recanted previous statements that he had been with her at the time of the killing.

Born into a wealthy Montreal family, Montpetit became one of the city's top broadcasters of the '70s and '80s, moving between Montreal's and New York's social scenes.

"Montreal was a major center of disco at the time, along with New York, and he was the king here," said Nathalie Petrowski, arts columnist for La Presse, a French-language daily newspaper.

Among the witnesses interviewed was former "NYPD Blue" actress Kim Delaney, a neighbor of St. Antoine, who saw her walking with a man hours before she was killed, Braccini said.

Delaney helped a police sketch artist produce a drawing that resembled Montpetit, investigators said. Through her agent, Delaney said her thoughts were with St. Antoine's family.

Investigators believe that, later that night, after a party attended by Grace Jones and John F. Kennedy Jr. at the trendy discotheque Xenon, St. Antoine rejected Montpetit's request to help him renew a relationship with a friend of hers. The rejection enraged Montpetit, investigators believe.

St. Antoine's white pumps were found at the bottom of the staircase leading to her apartment. Police believe she was chased up the stairs and left behind her shoes, which her killer then set side-by-side as he fled the building.
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Sudden decision led to ride in plane's wheel bay by Cuban stowaway
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Fri Dec 13, 6:59 PM ET

MONTREAL - It was a sudden decision, made just a few hours before a Cubana airline flight departed for Canada.
That's why a Cuban man had only a light jacket and no strategy for warding off subfreezing temperatures and minimal oxygen in the wheel compartment of the DC-10 jetliner on the four-hour flight to Montreal last week.

The man, who cannot be identified under a publication ban imposed by the Immigration and Refugee Board considering his case, appeared at a hearing Friday, where the panel set conditions for his release from custody.

He is seeking refugee status, similar to political asylum in the United States, and must post a US$2,000 cash surety and keep authorities informed of his whereabouts in order to avoid continued detention.

Local Cuban groups were expected to help him meet the conditions for his release.
The publication ban is intended to prevent Cuban authorities from identifying the man, thereby preventing any harm to his family or to him if he is sent back to Cuba.

After Friday's hearing, the man told reporters he would endure the travel ordeal again despite conditions that resulted in hospital treatment for hypothermia and exhaustion.

"I had in mind that it was a democratic country and very beautiful," he said of Canada, speaking in Spanish with a translator at his side. He said life was hard in Cuba because of "political problems."

Canadian authorities have indicated the man also told them that economic opportunity was a lure. Under Canadian law, refugee status is granted to people escaping persecution in their homeland on the basis of race, nationality, religion, political belief or social affiliation.

The refugee hearing will likely take place in a few months, according to immigration officials.
The man said he went to work at the Havana airport on Dec. 6 without planning to hop a plane.

"It was a last-minute thing," he said. "It was so sudden I didn't have any time for anything."
He hid in the wheel bay of the Cubana DC-10 for three hours before it took off on a flight that stopped at a Cuban resort, then continued on the four-hour journey to Montreal.

"The voyage to Canada was very difficult because I was hanging from the landing gear of the plane," he said. Huddling close to hot air pipes for warmth, he wondered if he would survive.

"I was very scared because of the cold. It was very cold, but I had hope I would make it," he said.
Aviation experts say the temperature in the wheel compartment would be minus 40 Celsius or colder.
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AP AUDIO:  2005 GLOBAL WARMING PROTESTS  AP AP
                      2006 MONTREAL SCHOOL SHOOTING  AP
                      2006 SEAL HUNT  AP     
FAST FOCUS  Interview
 
Seals in Canada: Hunters, activists face off
PHIL COUVRETTE, who's covered the Canadian seal hunt for the AP, talks to asap about where the debate over the hunt stands this season.
Monday, 27 March, 2006, 18:08 EST, US
By MEGAN SCOTT  
Even the celebrity power of Paul McCartney couldn't stop it.

Despite pleas from McCartney and other animal-rights activists, fishermen armed with spiked clubs have taken to the ice floes for Canada's annual seal hunt, which began Saturday. Several protesters have also shown up at the Gulf of St. Lawrence, sparking a showdown between the two groups.

At one point, a sealing vessel charged up to a small boat carrying protesters, and a fisherman flung seal intestines at them. And on Sunday, police arrested a group of animal activists for getting too close to the fishermen.

Animal-rights groups and celebrities, such as McCartney and French film legend Brigitte Bardot, say seal hunting is cruel, claiming the fishermen skin the seals alive or leave some pups to die if they are not immediately knocked unconscious. Most of the seals killed are two to three weeks old, when they are so fat from their mothers' milk they can barely move.

A 1987 law prohibits killing pups younger than two weeks who have not shed their fluffy white coat.

The fishermen say the annual hunt is crucial to their livelihood. Last year's hunt brought $14.5 million in revenue, after 320,000 seals were slaughtered. Fishermen sell the seals' pelts and blubber, earning up to $10,000 during the two-week hunt.

Can there any resolution to the debate over the hunt?

Phil Couvrette, who reports for the AP out of Montreal, traveled to the ice floes to cover the seal hunt. asap spoke to Couvrette about the long-running debate.

___

I know the seal hunt has been going on for centuries. Why such ugly protests now? Are more seals being killed than ever before?

Couvrette: I wouldn't say that it is more or less ugly now. It's certainly a lot more publicized. Paul McCartney made a very publicized visit. And Brigitte Bardot has really developed animal activism since the '70s. They spoke very strongly against it and that generated a lot of publicity. But the way things are done, the way the hunt is being done hasn't changed a whole lot in the last few years.

___

I know the weather has been warm. How has that affected the seal hunt?

Couvrette: This year the number of seals simply was not there. That is a bit because of the ice situation. For some extraordinary reason, it has been very warm very early on. There has been a thawing that has been very strong over the St. Lawrence. Basically some of those seal pups don't get to have the chance to learn how to swim. They fall through the ice and drown very early on, and that will account for the lack of seals out there.

___

Are fishermen still hunting, or have they given up?

Couvrette: Some of them are still hunting because this is a very important time of year. These are people usually who have had a history of living by the sea and depend on the fisheries a lot. And a lot of the fisheries that they used to depend on with time have dwindled. The cod fishery has suffered a lot. The crab fishery as well. For many of them, this seal hunt for a few days is when it's very lucrative because you can perhaps make up for some of the losses that are incurred the rest of the year when the other fisheries aren't doing so well. Some of them are determined to be out there to get what they can. Some of them have been discouraged.

___

How are these fishermen making their money? The United States banned Canadian seal products in 1972, and Europe banned importing the white pelts in 1983.

Couvrette: Other countries seem to be buying them. They are making money from the pelts and increasingly they are making money from the oil. Apparently, that is where they are getting most of their money. I was speaking to one lifelong hunter, and he was saying also what people don't consider is that there is a lot of spinoff from this activity. So it generates a lot of economic activity, and really it generates some money.

___

Do you think this debate will ever end?

Couvrette: The protesters scored a major victory in the '80s. In 1987, there was a prohibition. Seals two weeks and younger couldn't be hunted anymore. Certainly the market for those seals disappeared right then and there. They are hoping they will score a similar victory. For those hunters, with the dwindling fisheries out there -- well, they are not seeing many alternatives out there. It's hard to tell. I certainly don't see that on the horizon, but really, who knows?

Canadian Jews fear Russian group behind anti-semitic graffiti
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Friday January 13, 2006

MONTREAL -- A Jewish organization that monitors anti-Semitic activities in Canada said Friday it suspects a Russian group is behind a rash of swastikas that were spray-painted in a Jewish neighborhood of Montreal this week.

B'nai Brith Canada said the swastikas were found at seven locations in the Cote-des-Neiges and Notre-Dame-de-Grace neighborhood, near a Jewish school and community center in the French-speaking financial and cultural capital of the
province of Quebec.
Two of the sites were spray-painted with the Internet address of a Russian national socialist Web site www.nso-korpus.info, a site that includes a photo of Adolph Hitler and quotes excerpts from his Mein Kampf autobiography.

Although police have no suspects and there have been no eyewitnesses, the language of the site leads B'nai Brith to suspect the Russian group is involved, which would be a first, said spokesperson Leah Berger.

"We haven't had any issues with the Russian community," said Berger.

The incidents, all within two blocks of one another, mark a sharp increase in the number of incidents, she said.

"Callers to our Anti-Hate Hot line first alerted us to the problem," said Allan Adel, national chair of the League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada. "They were rightly concerned by the visually explicit displays of anti-Semitic graffiti in close proximity to Jewish schools, houses of worship and community institutions."

The incidents occurred in a culturally diverse part of the city, with some 160,000 residents, many of whom are Jewish and Holocaust survivors.

"You can imagine this kind of event touches them in a deep way," Berger said.

In Quebec, B'nai Brith saw an 88 percent surge of anti-Semitic incidents in 2004, including the fire-bombing of a Jewish school, though it anticipates the final tally for 2005 will be lower.

Overall, Canada saw an hike of 47 percent in anti-Semitic events in 2004, making it the worst of the 22 years that it has been conducting an audit.
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Conservative party wins in Canada election
The Associated Press
Tuesday January 24, 2006
OTTAWA - Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party won national elections Monday and ended 13 years of Liberal rule, a victory expected to move Canada rightward on social and economic issues and lead to improved ties with the United States.
The Conservatives' winning margin was too narrow to avoid ruling with a minority government, a situation that will make it difficult to get legislation through a divided House of Commons.

The triumph for the Conservatives came with many Canadians weary of the broken promises and corruption scandals under the Liberal Party, making them willing to give Harper a chance to govern despite concerns that some of his social views are extreme.

"Tonight friends, our great country has voted for change, and Canadians have asked our party to take the lead in delivering that change," Harper told some 2,000 cheering supporters at his campaign headquarters in Calgary.

Relations with the Bush administration will likely improve under Harper as his ideology runs along the same lines of many U.S. Republicans.

Harper has said he would reconsider a U.S. missile defense scheme rejected by the current Liberal government of     Prime Minister Paul Martin. He also said he wanted to move beyond the Kyoto debate by establishing different environmental controls, spend more on the Canadian military, expand its peacekeeping missions in     Afghanistan and Haiti and tighten security along the border with the United States in an effort to prevent terrorists and guns from crossing the frontier.

With nearly all votes counted in the race for the 308-seat House, officials results showed Conservatives with 123 seats; Liberals with 103; Bloc Quebecois with 50, New Democratic Party with 28; and one seat to an Independent. Three seats still haven't been determined.

Prime Minister Paul Martin conceded defeat and said he would step down as head of the party, though remain in Parliament to represent the Montreal seat he won again. It was an unusual move to do both on the same night, but Martin appeared upbeat and eager to continue to fight the Conservatives from the opposition benches of the House.

"I have just called Stephen Harper and I've offered him my congratulations," Martin told a subdued crowd at his headquarters in Montreal. "We differ on many things, but we all share a believe in the potential and the progress of Canada."

The Conservative victory ended more than a decade of Liberal Party rule and shifted the traditionally liberal country to the right on socio-economic issues such as health care, taxation, abortion and gay marriage. Some Canadians have expressed reservations about Harpers' views opposing abortion and gay marriage.

During the campaign, Harper pledged to cut the red tape in social welfare programs, lower the national sales tax from 7 percent to 5 percent and grant more autonomy and federal funding to Canada's 13 provinces and territories.

The Liberals have angered Washington in recent years, condemning the war in     Iraq, refusing to join the continental anti-ballistic missile plan and criticizing     President Bush for rejecting the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions and enacting punitive Canadian lumber tariffs.

Martin, 67, had trumpeted eight consecutive budget surpluses and sought to paint Harper as a right-winger posing as a moderate to woo mainstream voters. He claimed Harper supports the war in Iraq, which most Canadians oppose, and would try to outlaw abortion and overturn gay marriage.

Harper denied those claims and said Sunday that Martin had failed to swing voters against him.

"Canadians can disagree, but it takes a lot to get Canadians to intensely hate something or hate somebody. And it usually involves hockey," Harper quipped.

Voters cast ballots at 60,000 polling stations amid unseasonably mild winter weather. Turnout from the country's 22.7 million registered voters was expected to be better than the 60 percent of the June 2004 election, the lowest number since 1898.

William Azaroff, 35, voted for the left-of-center New Democratic Party but conceded a Conservative government was likely to win.

"I think it's a shame," said the business manager from Vancouver, British Columbia. "I think the last government was actually quite effective for Canadians. I think a Conservative government is just a backlash against certain corruption and the sense of entitlement."

Martin's government and the House were dissolved in November after New Democrats defected from the governing coalition to support the Conservatives in a no-confidence vote amid a corruption scandal involving the misuse of funds for a national unity program in Quebec.

An investigation absolved the prime minister of wrongdoing but accused senior Liberals of taking kickbacks and misspending tens of millions of dollars in public funds.

Just as campaigning hit full swing over the Christmas holidays, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced they were investigating a possible leak by Liberal government officials that appeared to have influenced the stock market.

When the 38th Parliament was dissolved, the Liberals had 133 seats, the Conservatives had 98, the Quebec separatist party Bloc Quebecois had 53 and the New Democrats had 18. There also were four Independents and two vacancies.

_____

AP writers Phil Couvrette in Montreal, Rob Gillies in Toronto, Shelley Knapp in Calgary and Jeremy Hainswroth in Vancouver contributed to this report.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Goalie Theodore tests positive for banned substance
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Feb 9, 9:06 pm EST

MONTREAL (AP) -- Montreal goalie Jose Theodore has tested positive for a banned substance in pre-Olympic screening because he was using a hair-growth drug that can be used as a masking agent, the Canadiens' team doctor said Thursday.

The test wasn't part of the NHL's new testing program, so he will not be subject to league discipline.

Theodore was not picked for Canada's Olympic team, but was on the preliminary 81-player eligibility list. No punishment was handed down because he is appealing the result to an arbitrator.

Canadiens team doctor David Mulder said at a news conference that Theodore was tested Dec. 12. A month later, the Hockey Canada doctor informed Mulder about Theodore's test result.

Mulder said Theodore tested positive because the goalie has been taking Propecia, a hair-growth stimulant, for about eight years -- even though he has a full head of hair. Mulder said he was aware that Theodore was taking the Propecia.

Propecia, Mulder said, was placed on the banned substance list about two years ago. Besides helping grow hair, it is considered a masking agent for other performance enhancers.

Mulder stressed Propecia alone is not a performance enhancer.

He said he was "convinced" the goalie was not using the drug to mask the use of performance enhancers.

Theodore, speaking after Montreal's 3-2 overtime win at Buffalo, said he began using the stimulant to preserve what remains a full head of hair.

"I always like my hair real long and I like to keep it long as long as possible," said Theodore, who served as backup against the Sabres as Cristobal Huet made his fifth consecutive start.

"I don't feel I have anything to hide," Theodore said. "It's not something that I got on the black market. It was a prescription from the doctor for eight years, so I don't feel uncomfortable by anything."

Theodore noted he had never tested positive before despite competing in several international tournaments. He added he was only made aware of Propecia being placed on the banned list in October.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement that Theodore also faces no sanctions for future positive tests for Propecia because the goalie had already applied for an exemption for prescribed use.

Last month, Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Bryan Berard was suspended from international competition for two years after testing positive for a banned steroid. Berard didn't make the U.S. Olympic team. He also was not subject to league discipline.

Earlier Thursday, World Anti-Doping Agency president Dick Pound repeated his criticism of the NHL's drug-testing program at press conference in Turin, Italy.

The NHL introduced random tests for performance-enhancing drugs this season, but anti-doping authorities have attacked the plan as weak and ineffective.

"It amounts to practically nothing. There are no offseason tests. And you're not allowed to test a player after a game or before a game," Pound said.

Theodore is 17-15 this season with a 3.46 goals-against average but has struggled over the last month and a half, with a 4-9 record and a 4.06 goal-against average.

Theodore added that one look at his slim build -- he's listed at 5-foot-11 and 182 pounds -- is proof that he's not taking steroids.

"If you look at me with no shirt, if I'm taking steroids then I should change the guy that's selling them to me because it's not working," Theodore said.
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Muslims demonstrate in Canada against cartoons
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Saturday February 11, 2006

MONTREAL _ Muslims demonstrated peacefully in two principal Canadian cities – Montreal and Toronto -- to condemn the publication of blasphemous cartoons.

About 250 protesters gathered Saturday near McGill university in downtown Montreal, a heavy police presence separating them from some 50 counter-protesters holding signs across the street.

The protest coincided with another demonstration in Toronto of about 1,500 people who clogged a busy downtown area just outside the Danish consulate.

In Montreal, protesters had initially planned to march to the Danish consulate but changed their plans after some 50 Muslim groups appealed to organizers to cancel the demonstration apprehending violence could erupt.

``We're here to denounce insults against the Holy Prophet and all prophets and all types of provocation,'' declared Said Jazeri, imam of Montreal’s al-Qods mosque which organized the protest.

"This is a great proof of tolerance, to show the world that once Muslims are free they're like everybody else, civilized people, people of peace."

Protesters chanted and sang, some people holding signs reading "No to insulting our prophets, Muhammad, Jesus, Moses" while young children clutched copies of the Coran.

Jazeri thanked the crowd for showing up despite what he called a campaign of intimidation by others members of the Muslim community.

There were widespread divisions on the need to hold the protest in the Muslim community of this French-speaking city home to thousands of immigrants from North Africa, some fearing violence.

Other groups haved been promoting a dialogue between the local communities by opening the doors of local mosques and distributing information pamphlets as part of an education campaign about Islam.

Protesters were prohibited from chanting hateful slogans or bringing  flags of any sort to prevent flag-burning incidents, the trademark of protests held around the world.

"We're against all forms of violence and we have proved it," Jazeri said at the end of peaceful gathering which lasted about 30 minutes.

But at least some of the protesters condoned some of the violence which have marked demonstrations elsewhere.

"It's a perfectly normal reaction, they were justified and I would be a hypocrite to tell you otherwise," Wassila Bouzidi said of protesters torching embassies in other more violent demonstrations. "People should not insult the Prophet, what would your reaction be if someone struck your child?"

Counter-protester Sebastien Mallet,22, holding a sign saying "Drawings are not a weapon but a form of expression" said the violence elsewhere was overblown. "We're tired of these crazy demonstrations, all for a few drawings, for nothing."

Police sealed a section of a downtown street for the event and had extra officers on duty. Spokesperson Anie Lemieux said there were no incidents bar one arrest unrelated to the protest.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Blind Algerian man holes up in church to avoid deportation
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Monday February 13, 2006

MONTREAL _ Blind and suffering from diabetes, Abdelkader Belaouni feared he could be deported to the United States or worse, his native Algeria. He took a traditional route to protect himself, seeking _ and being granted _ sanctuary in a Canadian church.

Belaouni argued he could be persecuted in either the U.S. or Algeria. He fled his homeland in the late 1990s and had managed to scrape together a living in the United States until 2003, when he fled to Canada after coming to feel the post-9/11 environment was hostile toward Arabs.

The argument failed to move Canadian Immigration officials, who refused his claim in October _ saying he had no connection to Canada _ and asked that he report, luggage and ID in hand, for deportation on Jan. 5.

Instead, the 38-year-old Belaouni began hiding out in the rectory of the St. Gabriel Roman Catholic Church in Montreal.

"I was given two reasons for being rejected: lack of employment and lack of family," he told The Associated Press in the rectory where he has been sheltered.

Belaouni has scraped by on government welfare and the generosity of friends, as his status prevents him from getting a job.

He has received support from local officials and human rights activists and has appealed to the minister of immigration. But a change of government after January's parliamentary elections means he may have to take up the entire process again.

"My hope is that the minister will make a final humanitarian gesture and allow me to stay," Belaouni said.

Canadian Border Services Agency spokesperson Robert Gervais said an arrest warrant was issued for Belaouni after he failed to show up for deportation.

"He has exhausted all legal avenues," Gervais said, after risk assessments concluded he would not face persecution if returned to the United States or Algeria.

However, by tradition, Canadian police have generally not arrested those who are given sanctuary in churches. Belaouni joins a number of refugee claimants who are using churches in Newfoundland, Ottawa, Vancouver and Toronto to avoid deportation.

Three Palestinian refugees spent 13 months in the basement of Montreal's Eglise Notre Dame de Grace before their deportation order was lifted on humanitarian grounds last year. A Colombian family was also allowed to stay at about the same time after spending 19 months in another Montreal church.

However, in March 2004 police did arrest another Algerian who took refuge in a church in Quebec City. Authorities said he was wanted for jumping bail.

Belaouni made a living selling phone cards in Brooklyn after fleeing the Algerian civil war in 1996. After the Sept. 11 attacks, U.S. officials required foreign nationals, many from Muslim countries including Algeria, to register with authorities.

Many were eventually deported, and Belaouni feared the same. After he registered and went through three interviews, he was forced to surrender his passport. That's when he decided to flee to Canada, where he believed he would be accepted on humanitarian grounds.

In March of 2003 Belaouni walked across the Canadian border with the assistance of a Montreal friend who helped him apply for refugee status and offered him shelter.

The Rev. Jim McDonald of St. Gabriel said he could not turn Belaouni away.

"We lost a little sleep about whether or not this would take place. But I think I would lose a lot more sleep if it would happen that Kader was picked up on Jan. 5," McDonald told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., using a nickname for Abdelkader.

Last year, the safe third-country border agreement between Washington and Ottawa allowed the countries to deny refugee claimants crossing the land border because it deemed them already safe in either Canada or the United States.

But Belaouni doesn't feel he'd be safe returning to the United States.

"We have paid for what they have done," he said of the 9/11 hijackers, adding one of his Brooklyn neighbors died in the attack on New York City.

Belaouni fears that if he is forced to return to the United States, that he may be deported back to Algeria, having abandoned the registration process. He ran a grocery store back home and said he was regularly bullied by Islamic militants waging war with the government, though there was no way to independently verify that claim.

Algeria erupted into bloody civil war in 1991, when the military aborted elections when the fundamentalist Islamic Salvation Fronts took the lead. An army crackdown escalated into a bloody insurgency in 1992-1998 that resulted in some 100,000 deaths. While much of the country has since stabilized, some regions are still subject to travel advisories.

"No one could guarantee my security there," Belaouni said. "Personally, with my handicap, it would be very difficult for me to go back."

Belaouni said he is receiving treatment for his diabetes at a Montreal clinic and added that's one reason he want to stay here.

"I hope the minister will consider my state of health above all else," he said.

_____

Solidarity Across Borders: www.www.solidarityacrossborders.org
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Mexicans surpass others in seeking refugee status
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Monday Feb 13 18:24

MONTREAL (AP) -- More Mexicans than any other nationality fled to Canada last year -- though relatively few of them are allowed to remain, officials said Monday.

Mexicans for the first time surpassed Chinese, Colombians, Sri Lankans and Indians as claimants to Canada, their partner in the North American Free Trade Agreement, according to figures released by the Immigration and Refugee Board.

Last year 3,541 Mexicans applied for refugee-status in Canada, where officials worry they enter only to then cross into the United States.

However, most of those Mexicans -- 2,286 -- had their cases rejected, and some 696 did not even show up at their refugee board hearing, officials said. Of those 696, 471 withdrew their claim an went back to Mexico, while 225 disappeared altogether.

Once a claim is made, refugee-seekers must agree to appear at a scheduled refugee hearing before they are released. While they await their hearing, they are free to enter society and apply for permission to work or to place their children in schools.

China, Colombia, Sri Lanka and India rounded out the top five in 2005, but all had significantly higher ratios of success than Mexico. Only 19 percent of Mexican refugee-seekers were accepted, compared with an average of 46 percent among the top 10.

As citizens of a free-trade partner, Mexicans do not need a visa to enter Canada, but they are not given a preferential treatment for residency or work permits.

"All refugee-seekers are treated the same regardless of their country of origin, and that includes the United States," said Charles Hawkins of the Immigration and Refugee Board.

Mexicans have steadily become Canada's top refugee-seekers, coming in 2nd in 2004 and 2003, 4th in 2002 and 8th the year before.

Immigration officers and security officials worry that many of the Mexicans use illegal smuggling rings to gain entry into the U.S. after they are in Canada.

Hawkins, however, said there is not a trend in the number of people who do not show up at the hearings and then disappear altogether.

"It doesn't appear people who come here abandon their claim in greater numbers," he said, noting that the number of people who never show up actually has gone down.

In 2004, 246 Mexicans "abandoned" their refugee claims, according government figures, compared with 225 last year and 275 in 2003.
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Quebec priests oppose Vatican on Gay issues
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Tue Feb 28, 10:45 PM ET

MONTREAL - In a rare public dissent, 19 Catholic priests have denounced the Vatican's opposition to gay marriage and allowing homosexuals into the priesthood.
The clerics signed an open letter that ran Sunday in Montreal's La Presse newspaper, criticizing the church's positions on the issues.

The priests said the church was invoking "natural law" to make its case against homosexuality, arguing that slavery was also once considered "natural."

"What we are saying is that human nature is constantly evolving," Claude Lemieux, one of the signatories, told The Associated Press by phone Tuesday. "We believe this position is closer to that which is shared by our parishioners."

The letter questions whether the church has "the last word on the mysteries of political, social, family and sexual life."

"In these matters," the letter says, "the official teaching of the church has shown itself more than once to be wrong."

The letter was in response to the position against gay marriage by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. Recent guidelines of the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education also restated opposition to the ordination of priests with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies." But the Vatican said there would be no crackdown on gays who are already ordained.

Canada last year legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, a move many clerics of all religions opposed.

There are roughly 13 million Catholics in Canada, about 43 percent of the population, and nearly half live in the French-speaking province of Quebec. In 2004, Quebec legalized gay marriage.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Coroner: Lack of oxygen, not peanut-butter killed girl
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Monday, March 6, 2006 1724 GMT

MONTREAL, Quebec (AP) -- A teenager with a peanut allergy did not die from kissing her boyfriend following his peanut-butter snack, but from a lack of oxygen to her brain, a Quebec coroner said Monday.

Coroner Michel Miron declined to disclose the exact cause of death because he has yet to submit his final report to the provincial coroner's office, but he told The Associated Press he hoped to end the "phobia" provoked by the case, which drew global media coverage.

Christina Desforges, 15, died in a Quebec hospital in November. Officials at the time had said that doctors were unable to treat her allergic reaction to a peanut-laced kiss from her boyfriend the previous weekend.

Allergists described the case as being rare and worrisome.

"Elements of the investigation tell us peanut butter was not responsible," Miron told the AP. Miron said clinical indicators have eliminated peanut as the cause for her death and said it appeared the girl suffered from "cerebral anoxia," or lack of oxygen to the brain, which caused serious damage.

Miron said he could not discuss reports that the girl suffered from asthma and believed she was having an attack before her collapse.

Symptoms of peanut allergies can include hives, plunging blood pressure and swelling of the face and throat, which can block breathing.

Miron said he felt compelled to speak out to counter incorrect claims that peanut butter was responsible for Christina's death, or that injections used to treat allergic reactions were ineffective.

"People thought the girl had not used her Epipen [Adrenalin shot] properly and families were panicking because they thought it wouldn't always work," he said, insisting that the drug's effectiveness was never in doubt.

Scientific journals also had contacted him, questioning the use of the Adrenalin shot and how it is injected.

"It was necessary to set things straight," Miron said. "The drug wasn't used at all because nobody knew she was allergic," he said, noting the first hospital she was sent to did not have her records.

Miron said the girl and her boyfriend kissed, but many hours after he ate the peanut-butter snack. By then he had ingested other foods such as popcorn and beer.

The saliva generated in the process also would have cleansed his mouth before the kiss, Miron said.
----------------------------------------------------------------------

Quebec bishops downplay rebel priests
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
03.10.2006, 08:55 PM
MONTREAL - Quebec's Catholic bishops Friday downplayed a recent public outburst of 19 priests against the Vatican's stand on homosexuality, but called for an internal debate on the matter.

The Quebec Conference of Catholic Bishops held this week precedes an upcoming visit of Canadian bishops to the Vatican in May, where the issue will be among the "principal aspects" of discussions with Pope Benedict XVI.

The bishops said they regretted that dissident priests had made their views public through the media last month, but agreed it provoked needed dialogue within the church on a variety of topics, including gay marriage.

The Feb. 26 letter was a rare case of public dissent within Quebec's Catholic church. In it, the priests criticized the Vatican for opposing gay marriage and forbidding homosexuals from the priesthood. They suggested the church needed to evolve, rather than have "the last word on the mysteries of political, social, family and sexual life."

The bishops issued a news release Thursday, calling the letter "food for thought."

"We regret, however, that we have been brought into this by force of circumstance; it is a confrontational dynamic that threats to harden positions," the bishops said.

The bishops said their coming meeting with the pope would explore various topics about Quebec society, including "ethical questions such as civil union and the definition of marriage."

Canada last year legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, a move many clerics of all religions opposed.

There are about 13 million Catholics in Canada, about 43 percent of the country's population, with nearly half living in the French-speaking province of Quebec.
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French minister praises French Canadians for devotion to language
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
5:40 p.m. March 17, 2006

MONTREAL - The French foreign minister praised Quebec's determination to defend the French language in North America, saying Friday that the region has set an example for all Francophones.  

French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said French-speaking Canadians were more insistent on using French words for technical terms that are typically spoken in English in France.

"You are teaching us how to fight for our language and we thank you; we should imitate you," Douste-Blazy said at the home of the French consul-general in Montreal.  

Douste-Blazy, ending a two-day visit to Canada, avoided the delicate issue of Quebec sovereignty.

A movement for independence of the French-speaking province was narrowly defeated in 1995, when Quebecois voted against separation by a slim margin in a referendum.  

He nonetheless sympathized with the identity plight of Quebecers.  

"The more globalization is present, the more the Internet makes the world a village, the more we want to belong to a strong identity," he said.  

But Douste-Blazy cautioned that the defense of the culture and language of a minority was not the same as defending nationalism.

"These are two completely different things," he said.  

The foreign minister also praised Canada's universal public health system as the reflection of "a society based on solidarity," and contrasted it with the health care situation in the United States.

----------------------------------------------------------------------
Aviation group regrets EU ban
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
23/03/2006 09:24 AM

Montreal - African aviation officials attending a global airline security conference said on Wednesday they understood the need to keep the skies safe, but regretted a European Union decision to blacklist some of their airlines.
Earlier in the day, the EU banned over 90 mostly African-based airlines from landing at European airports, declaring them unsafe, as part of a new blacklist of airlines that fail to meet international safety standards.

Tshepo Peege, president of the African Civil Aviation Commission, agreed that "any airplane that is unworthy should not be in the air," but feared the EU's move could spark reprisals.
"The ban is very unfortunate," he said. "The problem is, we're going to have a tit-for-tat situation."
Closing a three-day security conference, the UN International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) avoided criticising the EU's decision, despite its aversion to non-diplomatic measures such as blacklists.
"Both the European community and ICAO had a difficult summer ... and all felt compelled to act as quickly as possible," said Bill Voss, director of the ICAO's Air Navigation Bureau.
"We acted on a global level (by organizing the conference) ... Europe had compelling needs from their own public to act on a regional level."
The ICAO said it would seek to improve airline safety with greater transparency by starting to post on the internet aviation safety audits for different countries, and singling out nations that refused to do so by March 2008.
US and Venezuela meet:
American and Venezuela aviation officials also met during the conference to try to avoid a bilateral ban on each others' airlines.
Venezuela wants the US Federal Aviation Administration to end safety restrictions imposed in 1995 on Venezuelan airliners and says it will decide on March 30 whether to ban US flights. US Ambassador William Brownfield warned earlier this week that Venezuelan flights to the US would be banned if Caracas went ahead with its restrictions.
Caracas insists it has corrected any safety problems and recently invited FAA officials to inspect its airlines.
FAA spokesperson Laura Brown said on Tuesday that FAA Administrator Marion Blakey was in Montreal to deal with other safety issues and it was unclear on Wednesday whether the two countries made any progress on the debate.
Venezuela's proposed ban, which would prohibit flights by Houston-based Continental Airlines Inc and Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines Inc, and restrict some by AMR Corp's American Airlines, based in Fort Worth, Texas, comes amid increasingly tense ties between Caracas and Washington.
ICAO head Assad Kotaite said a US mission would visit Caracas early next month to maintain dialogue and assess Venezuela's progress since its last audit.
"The bridges are not broken, in aviation they must not be broken," Kotaite said.
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Canada's hotly debated seal hunt underway Saturday
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
6:05 p.m. March 23, 2006

MONTREAL - Canada's contentious seal hunt begins Saturday in the frozen ice floes off the Gulf of St. Lawrence, federal fisheries officials announced Thursday, as animal-rights activists gear up for their annual protests.
Department of Fisheries and Oceans spokesman Phil Jenkins said while ice conditions are poor in the southern portion of the gulf - between the mainland of Quebec and the Atlantic Ocean - many seals have been spotted further north.
The government insists the country's seal population is thriving, at nearly 6 million, and the annual hunt supplements the incomes of the isolated fishing communities in Quebec and Newfoundland.
But animal-rights activists and celebrities, including Paul McCartney and Brigitte Bardot, have placed Canada under an unpopular global spotlight, calling the world's largest seal hunt barbaric and unnecessary in a developed nation.
Registered hunters are not allowed to kill the pups before they molt their downy white fur, typically when they're 10 days to three weeks old.
"The animals are only weeks old, its cruel, they have yet to meet maturation," deplored Chris Cutter of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, which has invited a parliamentarian from Germany, currently considering a ban of seal products, to witness the hunt.
Boycotts have worked in the past, Cutter notes, after countries banned the import of pelts from white coat seals, causing their market to collapse.
The United States banned Canadian seals products in 1972, and a ban on importing the white pelts of seal pups was implemented by the European Community in 1983.
The quota for the hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is 91,000 harp seals. When the hunt moves to Newfoundland in April, up to 325,000 seals can be killed this year.
About 320,000 seals pups were killed last year, bringing the local fishermen 14.5 million.
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Seal hunt begins amid protests
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Sun Mar 26, 12:42 AM ET

GULF OF ST. LAWRENCE - Sealers took to the thawing ice floes off the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday, the first day of Canada's contentious seal hunt, confronting animal rights activists who claim the annual cull is cruel.
Protesters dodged flying seal guts pitched at them by angry hunters on the first day of the spring leg of the world's largest seal slaughter. Reporters and activists tried to get as close as permitted to the hunt on the Gulf of St. Lawrence, but their presence infuriated sealers hunting for scarce animals on small, drifting ice pans.
At one point, a sealing vessel charged up to a small inflatable Zodiac boat carrying protesters, and a fisherman flung seal intestines at the observers.
"They threw carcasses at our Zodiac and they came rushing at us in their boat and tried to capsize us in the wake," Rebecca Aldworth of the Humane Society told The Associated Press. "This is standard behavior out here; the sealers feel that they're completely above the law."
The fishermen in the isolated island communities of Quebec and Newfoundland say the hunt supplements their meager winter incomes, particularly since cod stocks have dwindled dramatically during the past decade. They resent animal-rights activists, who They say have little understanding of their centuries-old traditions.
The hunt brought $14.5 million in revenue last year, after some 325,000 seals were slaughtered. Fishermen sell their pelts, mostly for the fashion industry in Norway, Russia and China, as well as blubber for oil, earning about $60 per seal.
The federal government maintains Canada's seal population is healthy and abundant, with a population of nearly 6 million in the Arctic north and maritime provinces.
Regulations require the sealers to quickly kill the seals with a pick or bullet to the brain. The pups also must be over 2-3 weeks old and have shed their white downy fur before being killed.
Mark Small, president of the Northeast Coast Sealers Coop, has been sealing off Newfoundland for about 40 years. He said the activists do not understand how important the hunt is to family fishermen.
"I think the Canadian public realizes these are coastal people who live off the sea and depend on the hunt to survive in small communities where the fish stocks are not there," Small told the AP in a telephone interview from St. Johns.
Animal rights activists claim the fishermen often skin the seals alive or leave some pups to die if they are not immediately knocked unconscious.
The Humane Society has had high-profile allies in celebrities like Paul McCartney and his wife, Heather Mills McCartney, who traveled to the Gulf of St. Lawrence two weeks ago to pose with the newborn pups.
In a video message from London, the McCartneys proposed that Canada could end the slaughter by offering a license buyback program to sealers.
The French film legend Brigitte Bardot came to Ottawa earlier this week. She said she was stunned that a developed nation would still let such a practice continue, three decades after she first came to Canada to frolic with some pups in an attempt to end the slaughter.
The unseasonably mild temperatures in the Gulf of St. Lawrence have made the ice thin and many of the harp seal pups appear to have drowned, prompting protesters to call for the quota of 325,000 kills to be lowered to compensate for the natural deaths.
John Grandy, a veteran animal-rights activist on board a plane chartered by the Humane Society to monitor the hunt and report any abuses, also said fewer pups were on the ice this year.
"That tells us many have died, they fell through before they could swim," Grandy said.
Roger Simon, spokesman for the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, disputed concerns about a high natural seal mortality this year.
"There will always be some mortality and some drowning," Simon told The Canadian Press.
Aboriginal and Inuit hunters began the commercial kill in November in Canada's frozen Arctic waters; the spring leg will move off the coast of Newfoundland in April. The St. Lawrence hunt can last from three to 10 days, depending on hunting conditions.
Martin Dufour, a helicopter pilot from Quebec who was ferrying the Humane Society protesters out to the ice, said he was not opposed to the hunt, only the way in which the seals are killed.
"I don't know why they use the picks," he said. "It's a savage way and the seals are too young."
The hunters prefer to use spiked clubs called hakapiks to crush the seals' skulls, rather than possibly damage the pelts with bullet holes.
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Terror suspect Charkaoui gets high profile ally in son of late Canadian PM
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
April 7 2006
MONTREAL _ Terror suspect Adil Charkaoui appeared in Federal Court on Friday to ask that restrictions imposed on him following his release from detention be lifted and again denied he was tied to al-Qaida.

Charkaoui, 32, was arrested in 2003 and detained for 21 months on allegations
that he is a sleeper agent for Osama bin Laden's terror network. He was released on
bail in February 2005.

His release required that he obey certain conditions, including a curfew, having
to be accompanied by his mother or father outside his home and wearing an electronic
tracking bracelet.

More than a dozen people testified on his behalf and some offered to chaperone
him if the measures remain in place. Among them was Alexandre Trudeau, the son of the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, who said Charkaoui was suffering unnecessarily as a result of the bail conditions.

"I don't think he's a threat to national security and the government
certainly hasn't proved that he might be," Trudeau said outside the federal
court. "We have no reason to listen to a government that says, `Trust us with
this, we know what's best for you.'"

Trudeau is a respected journalist who has supported similar cases and is working
on a documentary regarding Canada's so-called security certificates, which allows
Ottawa to detain terror suspects indefinitely, without trial and based on secret
evidence.

"In this case there are many problems such as the non-presumption of
innocence and the burden of proof is on Mr. Charkaoui," Trudeau said. "But
without showing him the allegations against him, it's very problematic; he may as
well be bin Laden."

Charkaoui has argued that threats to deport him to his native Morocco are in
violation of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms as he would likely be tortured
there.

Charkaoui said he has tried repeatedly to prove that he is not a terrorist.
"Thirty people have testified in my favor, I have taken four lie-detector
tests, I have condemned terrorism in open letters," he said. "I not only want
my freedom but to be cleared of all suspicion."

But convicted terrorist Ahmed Ressam _ who was nabbed in 1999 trying to enter the
United States from Canada with a trunkload of explosives intended for an attack on
Los Angeles International Airport _ reportedly told authorities he had seen Charkaoui
at a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan in 1997 or 1998.

The security certificate, a highly contentious provision of Canada's Immigration
Act strengthened after the 9/11 terror attacks, means some evidence against Charkaoui
is known only by the government and Federal Justice Simon Noel.

Noel did not make a decision but asked Charkaoui's lawyer to come up with a list
of suggested changes to the release conditions for him to consider. He will likely
rule before the end of the month.

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Rwanda President Kagame urges foreign investment, higher education at home
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
April 25 2006

MONTREAL _African countries that promote education and development in an effort to combat poverty in their nations must prevent a brain-drain of qualified professionals from the continent, Rwandan President Paul Kagame said Tuesday.

Addressing the opening of a two-day conference on education and economic development in Africa, Kagame said the decline of higher education institutions was contributing to the emigration of Africans who were seeking better lives in other parts of the world.

"Africa must do more to retain these professionals," said the Rwandan leader, the guest of honor of the Canadian Council of Africa in Montreal.

Kagame said his country had seen a sharp increase in school enrollment in the last decade, but that the number of students attending university was still the lowest on the continent.
"We must invest in education across the board," he said.

The conference has drawn some 300 participants, including speakers from 25 African nations, to discuss the continent's education challenges and promote partnerships with Canada.

Kagame's visit has been closely followed by protesters who accuse him of repression at home and involvement in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda's neighbor, where many Rwandans fled during and after the 1994 genocide in their tiny central African homeland.

Kagame headed the Tutsi-led rebel force that ended the civil war. More than 500,000 people, mainly Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus lost their lives in the genocide orchestrated by the extremist-Hutu government then in power.

Rwanda went on to twice invade Congo, trying to root out Hutu militias. The second invasion, in 1998, sparked a five-year war in Congo that drew in six African countries. An estimated 3.5 million people died in the conflict, most from war-induced disease and starvation.

Some groups had called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to bar Kagame from Canada for alleged war crimes.

Outside the hotel where the conference was taking place, Kagame supporters on Tuesday waved Rwandan flags and chanted in the rain while beating drums next to dozens of vocal opponents holding signs that read: "Kagame Assassin" and "Africa's Hitler."

"We are here to raise awareness, we are not happy that Canada welcomed a criminal like Kagame," said Faustin Nsabimana of the Canadian Rwandan Congress.

A speech given by Kagame on Monday was also marked by protest when one man was wrestled to the ground and arrested after he jumped out of his seat and yelled: "You're a criminal. I love my country. Long live the Democratic Republic of Congo."

During the speech, Kagame told a gathering of some 250 business and diplomatic delegates at a dinner organized by the Counsel of International Relations, that his country's economy was booming and eager for international investment.

"Rwanda has left the times of strife behind and, today, she is enjoying unprecedented political and economic stability," he said in a glossy brochure handed out to potential investors.    
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Haiti president-elect ends quiet visit to Canada
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
May 3 2006

MONTREAL (AP)_ Haiti's President-elect Rene Preval wrapped up an informal visit to Canada on Wednesday, insisting that he didn't come to plead for money, yet taking home another C$48 million (US$43 million) in aid.

Preval ended four days of meetings in Ottawa and the French-speaking province of Quebec saying he intends to put an end to visits by Haitian leaders in which they beg for foreign aid and instead focus on explaining the crisis facing the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.

"I have not come here asking for projects or money," he said after meeting with Premier Jean Charest of Quebec, home to some 120,000 Haitians. "I have come to explain. I have come to seek comprehension and friendship."

Preval, who was elected on Feb. 7 and will be sworn later this month, said he hoped to remain in power for five years, during which time he would push to give his impoverished Caribbean nation sound infrastructure and solid institutions.

"If after five years I could leave strong institutions, good conditions for investment and the framework for leading this country when I leave, I will be satisfied," he said.

Earlier this week, Preval met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Haitian-born Governor-General Michaelle Jean and Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay. He also visited Montreal, where he mingled with members of the city's Haitian community.

During the visit, Ottawa announced an additional financial assistance package of C$48 million (US$43 million) to promote good governance and democracy in Haiti, which recently held a runoff election to choose a new parliament.

The vote was seen as a test of legislative support for Preval and was carried out with little unrest, compared to presidential elections that had been postponed by violence and called two years after a revolt toppled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Haiti is the largest beneficiary of Canadian aid in the Americas. Over the last two years, Canada has spent more than C$190 million (US$171 million) funding reconstruction and development projects.
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Peanut kiss didn't cause death, Coroner confirms
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
May 11, 2006

Montreal - A teenager believed to have died from a peanut allergy after kissing her boyfriend actually died from a severe asthma attack, a Quebec coroner revealed on Thursday.

Coroner Michel Miron said Christina Desforges, 15, died from cerebral anoxia, or lack of oxygen to the brain, triggered by a severe asthma attack.

The 15-year-old girl stopped breathing in the early morning of November 20, 2005, after kissing her boyfriend, who had eaten two pieces of toast with peanut butter about nine hours earlier.

The initial suspicion by doctors that lingering peanut allergens from that kiss triggered an allergic reaction was wrong, Miron said.

"Nine hours passed between the time when the young man ate his two toasts and 03:00, when he kissed Christina," Miron said. "A recent study shows at the end of an hour, there is no allergen left in the saliva."

Smoked pot

The girl had spent hours at a party with smokers at a home in Saguenay, Quebec, when her breathing problems began. She also had smoked pot in the previous hours, Miron added, another factor that can cause problems for asthma sufferers.

Around 03:00, Desforges told her boyfriend she was having trouble breathing. She went in the basement to get her inhaler, waking another boy as she stumbled down the stairs.

Once outside, she collapsed. The boys tried to resuscitate Desforges as she was being taken to the hospital, but the coroner estimates her brain was deprived of oxygen for 25 to 30 minutes. She was taken off life support nine days later.

Full coroner's report released

When the teen died, Quebec medical officials said doctors were unable to treat her allergic reaction to a peanut-laced kiss from her boyfriend.

In March, Miron broke the usual silence preceding the full release of a coroner's report to end those rumours and the "phobia" provoked by a case which drew global media coverage.

He said he was concerned the rumours were triggering suspicion that injections used to treat allergic reactions were ineffective, after fielding calls from concerned medical journals.

Some symptoms of peanut allergies, such as difficulties breathing from the swelling of the face and throat, can be confused with asthma attacks.

Asthma kills about 500 Canadians every year, according to the Asthma Society of Canada.

Society head Frank Viti said many asthma sufferers do not take their symptoms seriously.

"It's infuriating, because it's completely preventable," Viti said.
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US says war on drugs turns to meth
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
May 12, 2006

MONTREAL (AP) -While marijuana remains the drug of choice and cocaine has been "the bane of our existence" in the global war on drugs, methamphetamine has now become a global threat, the head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration told a conference that ended Thursday.

Karen Tandy and representatives from 80 countries gathered in Montreal for four days to hash out new ways to fight the war on drugs at the 24th International Drug Enforcement Conference.
The closed-door conference ended Thursday, with a statement that emphasized the importance of global intelligence-sharing to fight the drugs, increasingly tied to terrorists.

The statement said international drug-enforcement cooperation made possible the arrest of high-level Afghan drug dealers who were giving monetary support to the Taliban, as well as the dismantling of major ecstasy and methamphetamine rings based in Canada and the United States.

"The global drug threat can be a daunting challenge, but conferences like IDEC reinforce that the call to fight stretches across thousands of miles, oceans, and boundaries," said Tandy.

In her opening address on Tuesday, Tandy said while cocaine "has been the bane of our existence and remains a persistent global challenge," the use of amphetamines had grown to 26 million people worldwide, more than the number of users of heroin and cocaine combined.

Methamphetamine, also known as speed or crank, is a highly addictive drug and easily made out of ingredients found at the local pharmacy and hardware store. Law enforcement agents across the United States now list it as their No. 1 drug threat because it is cheap and addictive.

Tandy noted the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime estimates the illegal drug market is valued at US$322 billion worldwide. "Thats higher than the gross domestic product of 88 percent of the countries in the world," she said.

The conference, which is closed to the media, took place in Canada for the first time, having been previously hosted by countries such as Panama, Mexico and Argentina. It will be held in Spain next year for its 25th anniversary.

As the IDEC opened Monday, protesters held a counter-conference in a nearby hotel a few blocks away to criticize America's war on drugs and condemn their prohibition.

The symposium brought together scholars and activists from Eastern Europe and the Americas, as well as former U.S. law-enforcement officers who spoke in favor of legalizing drugs after years spent busting criminals.

"The only thing we're accomplishing is filling our jails, because we're not keeping the drugs off the street," Terry Nelson, a Texas police officer for more than 30 years, told CBC TV. "The war on drugs is not working. It's broken and it needs to be fixed."
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FIFA to push for world anti-doping standards
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
May 14, 2006
MONTREAL _ Fifa will push for its members to adopt the world anti-doping code in time for the World Cup next month, the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) said on Sunday.

If the code is adopted at Fifa's congress before the start of the tournament on June 9 in Germany, the world's top soccer stars would be subject to two-year suspensions for serious doping violations instead of the lighter bans under Fifa rules.

Wada head Dick Pound said on Sunday that soccer's world governing body informed him that it would work to accept the code in time for the World Cup.

"The great thing about Fifa being onside is that it's the biggest, most important sport in the world," Pound said after two days of Wada meetings. "The World Cup is the only thing that rivals Olympic audiences.

"It's a tremendously strong message."

Wada and Fifa have been working out the details since last month, when the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland found Fifa was not in compliance with Wada's standards on eight points, including its penalties for failed drug tests.

Pound said seven of the eight points can be approved at a Fifa executive meeting and the last at a Fifa congress in Munich in the week leading up to the World Cup.

The two sides have been at odds for two years, with Fifa preferring a six-month minimum ban and to judge each case on its individual circumstances.
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Australian PM: Diminished US will make world vulnerable to terror
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
05-18-06 2029EDT

OTTAWA (AP) -- Those who seek a diminished U.S. role in global affairs should be
careful what they wish for as it would leave the world more exposed to terror,
Australia's prime minister told the Canadian parliament on Thursday.

John Howard, a close U.S. ally in the war on terror, said the United States
represents a power for good.

"A retreating America will leave a more vulnerable world,'' Howard said in a
speech to lawmakers on the first day of a three-day visit here. "It will leave a
world more exposed to terrorism and will leave a more fragile and indeed dangerous
world.''

"The values for which the United States stand are the values to which Canada and
Australia stand,'' he said. "They are values of spreading democracy of individual
liberty and a society where free enterprise is the principal economic driver, but
also a society where the less fortunate should be protected by a decent social
security safety net.''

Howard is the first foreign leader to visit Prime Minister Stephen Harper since the
Canadian's election victory in January.

While both countries share the same head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, Howard's is
the first visit by an Australian leader in decades. By contrast, Howard has made
repeated visits to Washington, where his staunch support on the war on terror and
Iraq has been well received.

Unlike Australia, Canada did not take part in the war in Iraq, causing friction with
the U.S. But Harper's new Conservative minority government is closer to Washington
than its Liberal predecessor, quickly moving to settle a long-standing lumber
disagreement and espousing a conservative ideology closer to that of President Bush.

Howard and Harper are scheduled to talk about the war on terror and international
security. Both countries have troops in Afghanistan.

Howard is ending a weeklong visit to North America. He spent five days in the U.S.
where he held talks with Bush and key administration officials.
----------------------------------------------------

Canada considers moving away from Kyoto
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
05-19-06 19:43:31

GATINEAU, Quebec (AP) -- Efforts to curb greenhouse gas
emissions must involve the world's top polluters, Canada and
Australia's leaders said Friday, an indication that Canada
is considering joining a partnership of countries fighting
climate change outside the Kyoto Protocol.

Australia, which has not ratified the Kyoto accord, has been
encouraging Canada to join the Asian-Pacific Partnership on
climate change to promote new technologies. The group
includes the United States, China and India, which are
either not part of the Kyoto Protocol or have no emissions
targets, as well as Japan and South Korea.
The Kyoto Protocol aims to reduce overall greenhouse gas
emissions by 5 percent below 1990 levels.

After meeting with Australian Prime Minister John Howard in
a mansion in the Gatineau hills some 15 miles (24
kilometers) north of Ottawa, Prime Minister Stephen Harper
said, "We believe it's the kind of initiative the world
needs."

"If we're serious about climate change and controlling
greenhouse gases, we clearly have to have an international
regime that includes the largest emitters," Harper said.

"We in Canada certainly welcome the initiative, as a
government that finds itself 35 percent behind existing
Kyoto targets and with the need to do something," Harper
said, adding he had discussed the possibility of joining the
group.

Under the former ruling Liberal party, Canada strongly
defended the Kyoto protocol when it hosted an international
environment conference in Montreal in December, but the
newly elected conservatives of Stephen Harper have been less
supportive of Kyoto.

"Our attitude is we want to engage the international
community on any level that's going to get real progress and
involve everybody," Harper said.

Howard said his country would "warmly welcome" Canada if it
were to join in. The partnership explores combating global
warming through technological development rather than
mandatory emissions cuts. Howard said countries are
reluctant to sacrifice their economies to curb emissions.

Harper and Howard, whose countries account for 43 percent of
the world's uranium deposits and more than half its uranium
production, also said they will be studying the U.S.
Department of Energy's Global Nuclear Energy Partnership
that suggests using nuclear energy to meet the growing
demand for electricity.

They said nuclear energy would have an important role in
dealing with their respective energy and environmental
challenges in the years ahead.

"We don't approach this American-inspired proposal with
antagonism, we approach it with interest," Howard said,
stressing there was pressure in his country to make use of
nuclear energy to ease the concerns related to the
environment and high energy prices.

On the second day of Howard's three-day visit to Canada, the
leaders also discussed international security and their
military role in Afghanistan, as well as the environment and
Asia-Pacific region.
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Nobel Laureate urges better resource management to prevent wars
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
May 24, 2006

MONTREAL (AP) The world can avoid conflict by better managing its limited resources, Nobel Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai told a global conference of educators on Tuesday.

The Kenyan professor, winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for her work on environmental conservation, told the opening of the 58th Annual Conference of the Association of
International Educators that managing resources more responsibly and sharing them more equitably can pre-empt future crises around the world.

"There is a limited amount of resources on the planet and when you have excess, it is
at the expense of others" she told the gathering of some 7,000 participants from 90 countries meeting in Montreal until Friday.

"We don't have to go to war, kill each other, destroy each other, destroy each others countries, and then sit down around the table to try to look for peace" said the founder of the Green Belt Movement, which led to the planting of 30 million trees throughout Kenya.

The conference has brought together educators, administrators, policy experts and world leaders to exchange ideas under this year's theme: Advancing Our International Commitment.

Participants stressed the need for international education exchanges, particularly to better understand the post-9/11 world.

"The idea is the more we connect across borders the better off we will be as a planet," said Ursula Oaks, a NAFSA spokeswoman.

Other notable participants include Mary Robinson, Ireland's first woman president, and the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Iranian human rights activist Shirin Ebadi.

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Right to detain terror suspects indefinitely challenged
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
06-12-06

Right to detain terror suspects indefinitely in Canada challenged in Supreme Court
The Associated Press, June 12, 2006

OTTAWA - Opponents of a Canadian immigration law that allows authorities to detain terror suspects indefinitely without trial were preparing to challenge it before Canada's Supreme Court, as the country reels from the recent arrests of an alleged homegrown terrorist ring.

Opponents say the law violates the country's Charter of Rights and Freedoms in part because it allows for lengthy detentions based on secret evidence and without the right to appeal.

Five Arab Muslim men, held for years under "security certificates" that deem them a threat to national security, face deportation on suspicion of terrorist activities. The men claim they are innocent and face torture if returned to their native Algeria, Morocco, Syria and Egypt.

Human rights and immigration lawyers will argue Tuesday before Canada's highest court, challenging the constitutionality, conditions of detention and undisclosed evidence against the men under the provision of Canada's Immigration Act.

"The way the system is set up violates fundamental justice," said Paul Copeland, a lawyer for Mohamed Harkat, an Algerian and one of three men challenging the certificate process.

"These cases will help determine whether Canada follows the lawless American approach on national security or creates a uniquely Canadian path in conformity with the principles of international justice," he said.

Harkat, Adil Charkaoui and Hassan Almrei, the three men taking their cases to the Supreme Court, are all accused by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service of having ties to al-Qaida.

So are two other detainees, Mohammad Mahjoub and Mahmoud Jaballah, who are not part of the current challenge but whose fates likely rest on the outcome.

Charkaoui, 32, was released on US$42,000 bail last year after 21 months in detention, on allegations that he is a sleeper agent for Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network.

Charkaoui, who is the main appellant, denies the connection and argues that security certificates are unconstitutional and violate the Charter, as well as international law.

"I am heading to the Supreme Court with optimism," Charkaoui said in a statement. "Despite the difficulty, we have succeeded in bringing this issue to the fore and gaining an impressive level of support, both in Canada and internationally."

If the security certificate, which can only be applied to foreigners, is upheld in court, Charkaoui could be deported to his native Morocco, where he fears torture.

Charkaoui remains constrained by strict bail regulations, including a tracking bracelet. He had to obtain special permission to travel to Ottawa from Montreal to attend his challenge.

The court will also consider the cases of two men detained in Kingston, Ontario: Harkat, the Algerian who was arrested in Ottawa in December 2002, and Syrian-born Hassan Almrei, who has been detained since 2001.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and many other international and Canadian groups have claimed the security certificates have resulted in violations of fundamental human rights. A U.N. committee on arbitrary detention last year expressed grave concern about the detentions without the right to a fair hearing.

Federal lawyers, in their written brief to the Supreme Court, defend the process as essential to safeguard intelligence sources, including those of allied countries that share material with Canada, most notably the United States.

"There is no right to an unfettered disclosure of all information on which a security certificate is based," the brief states. In fact, revealing details could "fatally jeopardize international cooperation in the sharing of vital information."

Terrorism-related cases have become the focus of great scrutiny in Canada, since the arrest of 17 men and teenagers on June 2 for allegedly plotting attacks in Ontario.

Some observers fear the current climate of public apprehension could impact the high court decision, which is not expected for several months.

"Judges are human beings, the same way anyone else is; obviously they read the news," said lawyer Barbara Jackman, who represents Almrei and will address the Supreme Court. "Of course it's going to impact in some way."
-------------------------------------------

Supreme Court hears challenge to indefinite terror-related detentions
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
2006-06-14 11:13
OTTAWA - Three Arab men challenged Canada's policy toward foreign-born terror suspects before the Supreme Court, arguing that detaining them for years or deporting them back to their homelands to possibly face torture violates the constitution.

The three-day hearing, which opened Tuesday, comes on the heels of 17 arrests that foiled a plot to launch homegrown terrorist attacks.

Mohamed Harkat, Adil Charkaoui and Hassan Almrei are accused by the Canadian intelligence service of having ties to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network. The men say they are innocent and have spent years in detention as the government determines whether they should be deported.

The men fear they will be tortured or killed if forced to return to their native countries of Algeria, Morocco and Syria, respectively.

Under Canada's hotly debated ''security certificate'' program, the federal government can detain and deport immigrants without charge, and without providing them or their lawyers with evidence, if they are deemed a threat to national security.

A slew of civil libertarians and human rights advocates joined attorneys for the three men Tuesday in arguing against the detentions before the court.

Edward Greenspan of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association urged the justices to avoid being influenced by public anxiety over terrorism.

''We must realize that the greatest danger to our institutions may rest not in the threat of subversion, but in our own weakness in yielding to wartime anxiety and our readiness to disregard the fundamental rights of the individual,'' he said.

Douglas Elliott, representing the Canadian Arab Federation, noted that the five men held under the certificates are Arab Muslims, which he said smacked of racial profiling.

''Arabs in Canada live in a society where stereotypes have been reduced to a single equation: Arab equals Muslim, and Muslim equals terrorist,'' he said.

Lawyers for the men also challenged the conditions of their detention and the government's refusal to disclose the evidence against them or their attorneys.

''Cases should be heard fully and publicly by an independent and impartial court,'' Johanne Doyon, an attorney representing Moroccan-born Charkaoui, told the nine-judge bench.

Federal law allows sensitive intelligence information to be heard behind closed doors by a federal judge, with only sketchy summaries given to defense attorneys.

If those foreigners choose to fight deportation, they can spend years in jail while the cases go through the courts. In the end, they risk being labeled as terrorists and stigmatized by flimsy evidence, said Doyon. ''There may be consequences that last a lifetime.'' Two other detainees, Mohammad Mahjouband Mahmoud Jaballah, are not part of the current challenge but their fates likely rest on the outcome. Both are Egyptian.

Charkaoui, 32, was released on US$42,000 bail last year after 21 months in detention on allegations he is a sleeper agent for al-Qaida. He denies the connection but fears he will be tortured if he is deported to his native Morocco.

''We cannot allow Guantanamo in Canada,'' he said outside the courtroom ''I don't just want to be free _ I want justice.'' Harkat was released on bail last month after more than three years behind bars. Like Charkaoui, he must wear an electronic monitoring bracelet and follow strict bail terms.

Almrei, a native of Syria who has been detained since 2001, remains in jail, as do Mahjoub and Jaballah.

Barbara Jackman, representing Almrei, said her client is in a maximum security facility with no access to a canteen, education or other programs that convicted prisoners are able to use.

''You can't just put someone in jail, throw away the key and not give them any hope of getting out,'' she said.

Federal lawyers, in their written brief to the Supreme Court, defend the process as essential to safeguard intelligence sources and Canada's allies. They allege Almrei was involved in an international forgery ring and should be deported.

''Given the threat posed by the ability of terrorists to travel on fraudulent documentation and al-Qaida's preference for operatives to carry Canadian and other passports, rather than Middle Eastern ones, Almrei's detention helps disrupt the procurement and distribution of such passports,'' the brief read.
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Canadian-Lebanese outraged over deaths
The Associated Press
Jul 17th - 7:40pm

Relatives of the Canadian-Lebanese family killed in an Israeli air strike in southern Lebanon lashed out at the Canadian government Monday, saying it had not done enough to protect its citizens from the violence nor demanded an end to Israeli aggression.
Eight Canadian members of the family of Ali El-Akhras, a Montreal pharmacist, were killed as a result of the attack on Sunday, relatives in Montreal said. Three other Lebanese members of the same family were also killed, they said.

The Canadians were vacationing in their family's home in the village of Aitarun near the Israeli border at the time of the air strike.

Akhras was wounded and died on Monday, his cousin in Montreal, Ibrahim Balbaki, said. His wife Amira, their four children - Saja, Zeinab, Ahmad and Salam - his mother Hania and his cousin Ali all died in the blast on Sunday. His father, Ahmad, was badly injured.

Meyssoun Akhras, the sister of El-Akhras, told a news conference in Montreal Monday she was outraged that Canada has stood behind Israel and not done more to protect Canadians.

"They have all died in one single room," she said between tears, shaking with anger. "I pray now that they are all in heaven."

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has supported Israel's right to defend itself from the Hezbollah attacks since the Islamic militants captured two Israeli soldiers and killed eight others last Wednesday. Israel responded by unleashing a six-day air and sea barrage across Lebanon which has killed at least 210 people in Lebanon. In Israel, 24 have died.

"I ask the prime minister to be on our side and to speak the truth, to speak the truth of Israel, and to say that Israel has come into my home, that Hezbollah was protecting my house," Akhras said.

Canada is a close ally of Israel, but also supports the Palestinian quest for a homeland.

Harper, on the final day of the G8 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia on Monday, countered criticism that Canada has been slow to evacuate some 40,000 Canadian citizens from Lebanon. He said Ottawa would have six commercial ships off the Lebanese coast by midweek.

He said the return of Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hezbollah, not an immediate cease-fire, was the key to ending the current conflict.

"We are not going to give in to the temptation of some to single out Israel, which was the victim of the initial attack," Harper said. "The onus remains on the parties that caused the conflict to take steps to end the conflict. But obviously we urge Israel and others to minimize civilian damage."

Canada's Lebanese community in Montreal numbers about 50,000.
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Canada scrambles to get historic evacuation under way
The Associated Press
2006-07-18T
15:20:17

Six chartered passenger ships were to be in position off the coast of Lebanon on Wednesday to begin evacuating up to 30,000 Canadians stranded in the crossfire there, in what could become the biggest evacuation of its citizens in Canadian history.

There are as many as 50,000 Canadian-Lebanese in Lebanon, but many of them have dual citizenship and live in Lebanon, so it was unclear how many would want to be evacuated.
Foreign Affairs officials said Canadians would be evacuated by ship from the port of Beirut. Authorities intend to evacuate some 4,500 a day, ferrying them to Cyprus, an island nation about 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of Lebanon in the Mediterranean Sea, where three aircraft have been leased to fly them home.

Kim Girtel, a spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs, said about 30,000 Canadians in Lebanon have now registered with the embassy in Beirut. She acknowledged the evacuation will take time.

"It would be nice if we could Star Trek them out, but it's going to take time," she said. "Priority goes to people in greatest need."

Ottawa announced Tuesday that citizens would not have to pay for the evacuation, a relief for many who already have lost vacations - and some family members - in the weeklong fighting between Israel and Hezbollah militants based in southern Lebanon.

A Montreal family lost eight members, including four young children, on Sunday to an Israeli missile attack. They were all in one home near the southern border of Lebanon.

Many of Canada's 150,000 Lebanese live in French-speaking Montreal. Several hundred demonstrated in front of the Israel Embassy on Tuesday.

Lebanese-born member of Parliament Maria Mourani was among them.

"This is not an attack against Hezbollah, it's an attack against all Lebanese people," she said. "Canada always had an image of peace and dialogue, to strike a balance. Canada has lost this image with Mr. Harper."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has infuriated many in the Lebanese community by repeatedly supporting Israel's right to protect itself, and couching his calls for restraint by noting that Hezbollah started the conflict by kidnapping two Israeli soldiers.

Hassan Al-Akhras - a cousin of the Montreal pharmacist who was killed in the Israeli airstrike, along with his mother, wife and four children and another cousin - said he would demand an investigation into why Canadians were not evacuated sooner.

"This is criminal," he told the AP in Montreal. "I want those responsible to be brought before the courts, starting with Mr. Harper. What are we, second-class citizens? Is he the prime minister of Israel or Canada? He failed his mandate; Harper put the rights of Israelis before those of Canadians."

Harper, in France on Tuesday on his way back from the G8 summit in Russia over the weekend, denied claims that Ottawa had been too slow to act.

"There have been hundreds of federal employees who have been working day and night to put in place the largest evacuation of Canadian citizens from another country in our history," Harper said. "This, under the circumstances, will be done extraordinarily quickly."

Canadian officials say they are seeking assurances of safe passage through southern Lebanon to Beirut from all "belligerents" in the crisis.

Sources told The Canadian Press that a military reconnaissance squad was dispatched Monday to Lebanon to provide security and logistical advice for the evacuation.

Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay said the government is also seeking assurances from Israel and Lebanon that the ships carrying Canadians will not be targeted.

Opposition critics in Parliament have accused the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper of reacting sluggishly to the plight of Canadians trapped in Lebanon.

France, Italy, Sweden and Denmark began evacuating their citizens Monday, and the United States began evacuating some of the estimated 25,000 Americans in Lebanon on Tuesday.

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AP correspondent Phil Couvrette in Montreal contributed to this report.
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Canada ends evacuations from Lebanon despite criticisms
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
07-29-06 04:00 PM EST

MONTREAL (AP)--On the day Canada conducted the last large-scale removal of its citizens from war-torn Lebanon, Liberal opposition politicians criticized the end of the evacuations and said the country's current foreign policy threatened its credibility as a possible mediator in the Middle East.

Four ships were sent to evacuate Canadians on Saturday, bringing the total to over 13,000 people that Canada has removed from the country since evacuations began 10 days ago. The embassy has registered some 40,000 Canadians living in Lebanon.

Opposition members of parliament called for the continuation of the evacuation and said Canada should do more to reunite families.

"One can't stop evacuations like that. It's totally unacceptable, it's a lack of compassion," said Liberal lawmaker Denis Coderre. "We're talking about human lives not statistics."

The Liberal parliamentarians called for an immediate cease-fire to the hostilities and for the establishment of a humanitarian corridor to help evacuees.

Canada's first evacuees were rescued by boat from Beirut on July 19, days after the beginning of Israeli-Hezbollah hostilities.

A slow start to the Canadian operation triggered a firestorm of criticism of the government's handling of the crisis, including accusations that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office micromanaging the evacuations. Other observers say the government did its best given it was faced with the second largest number of evacuees next to the U.S.

Harper has infuriated many in the Lebanese community by repeatedly supporting Israel's right to protect itself, and couching his calls for restraint by noting that Hezbollah started the conflict by kidnapping two Israeli soldiers.

This week Harper maintained his stance after Israel bombed a U.N. observation post killing three and leaving one Canadian missing and presumed dead. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan suggested Israel deliberately targeted the U.N. outpost despite repeated calls to stop the attacks, but Harper said he didn't believe that was the case.

"We believe that the right to defend does not mean that you have carte blanche," Coderre said.

"Canada has a fair-minded principle-based foreign policy and if we are not doing that we won't be able to keep our role as mediator," he said. "Canada must play a leader's role and stop being a mouthpiece for president Bush or Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice."

Coderre said the opposition was awaiting a session of the House of Commons foreign affairs committee this week to shed some light on Canada's slow response.

Opposition leader Gilles Duceppe also called for Canada to return to its traditional role of peacekeeper in the Middle East and to "a more balanced position in the conflict."
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Montreal kicks off Outgames
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Sunday July 30, 2006

MONTREAL (AP) -- The acrobatics of Cirque du Soleil, songs from musical stars such as k.d. lang and a little politics officially kicked off the First World Outgames in Montreal's Olympic stadium.

Some 12,000 participants from over 100 countries are taking part in 35 athletic events that run until Aug. 5, but with disciplines that include bridge, ice hockey and dragon boat regatta, in addition to swimming, basketball and track and field, this is not your ordinary sports competition.

The events are not exclusive to gays and any records set during competition will stand, but organizers say it is more about mass participation than breaking records.

Some 30,000 loud spectators attended the opening ceremonies late Saturday night, dancing to club diva Martha Wash's rendition of "It's Raining Men," hooting as the muscular men of Cirque du Soleil interpreted a balancing act called "Hand in Hand" and cheering as Canadian Olympian Mark Tewksbury and tennis champion Martina Navratilova read excerpts from a new declaration calling for the recognition of universal gay rights.

"Long live liberty in diversity," they both yelled to a cheering crowd. "I remember a time when I swam at the Olympics and felt all alone," said Tewksbury, who only made his sexual orientation public after he quit competition, fearing discrimination. "I don't feel that way anymore."

The sports competitions are part of a greater gathering that includes an international conference on gay and lesbian rights to promote "social change through sports."

The rights conference, held July 26 to 29, was launched in the presence of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, and included some 1,600 participants in over 200 workshops. The event included the drafting of the Montreal Declaration, which calls from protection against gay bashing and promotes freedom of expression and will be submitted to the United Nations.

Participants from countries where being gay is a criminal offense made a special entrance Saturday night to loud cheers and ovations.

"I know some of you are from nations in which one's sexual orientation could lead to prison sentence or even death," said Montreal mayor Gerald Tremblay. "Your presence encourages us to continue to work for a better world."

The crowd, however, shouted down a federal minister to protest the absence of Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the games. His conservative government is also seeking to review Canada's gay marriage legislation. Canada legalized same-sex marriage nationwide last year under another government.

The Outgames come on the heels of the seventh Gay Games in Chicago, which Montreal was originally slated to host but turned down after a dispute by organizers who went on to stage their own games.

While the Outgames have roughly the same number of events and participants as the Chicago gay games, nearly twice as many countries are participating.

"There are so many countries in the world where being gay is not only punishable by justice but punishable by death," Navratilova said during a visit at Montreal's city hall.

"We're worried about equal rights as a same-sex couple in America, where in other countries people are worried about staying alive because they're gay."

Tewksbury says correspondence with gays in countries such as Nigeria had to be made in complete confidentiality by fear participants' lives would be in jeopardy.

Coming on the 30th anniversary of the 1976 Olympics, the Outgames are the largest athletic events the city has hosted since then.

The Outgames conclude with a closing ceremony at Olympic stadium on Aug. 5 featuring a performance by Liza Minnelli.
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Small plane crashes near Montreal
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, September 12, 2006; 9:30 PM

MONTREAL -- A single-engine plane crashed into a residential area south of Montreal island on Tuesday, hitting vehicles and injuring six people _ two in the plane and four on the road, police said.

The plane was left belly-up with a broken wing on the south shore of Montreal.
"The plane made an emergency landing and hit four vehicles when it crashed," said Pierre Quintal of Longueuil police.

"Six people were injured, including the pilot of the plane and the passenger, who suffered minor injuries."

The other four injured people were in vehicles on the road, police said, adding the injuries were not life-threatening.

Several streets in the area were cordoned off.

One witness interviewed by TVA network said he saw the plane swooping low near the airport and could not hear its engine before it crashed into a sport utility vehicle.

Other witnesses said the plane seemed to be having trouble steering and was closing in on a nearby airfield in the wrong direction.

Sunny conditions suggested the weather was not a factor.

The crash followed the spectacular landing of a Cessna plane on a major Montreal thoroughfare following engine failure over the weekend. Nobody was injured in that incident.
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Montreal shooting rampage kills student
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Wed Sep 13, 7:33 PM ET

MONTREAL - A man in a black trench coat and a mohawk haircut opened fire Wednesday at a downtown Montreal college, slaying a young woman and wounding at least 19 other people before police shot and killed him, witnesses and authorities said.
Police dismissed suggestions that terrorism played a role in the lunch-hour attack at Dawson College, where scores of panicked students fled into the streets after the shooting began. Some had clothes stained with blood; others cried and clung to each other. Two nearby shopping centers and a daycare center also were evacuated.

"I was terrified. The guy was shooting at people randomly. He didn't care, he was just shooting at everybody," said student Devansh Smri Vastava. "There were cops firing. It was so crazy."

Witnesses said the attacker started firing outside the college before walking in the front door. Much of the shooting was in the second-floor cafeteria, where students dropped to the floor and lay in terror. At times the gunman hid behind vending machines before emerging to take aim - at one point at a teenager who tried to photograph him with his cell phone. Teachers ran through the halls, telling everyone to get out of the building.

Police rushed to the scene, hiding behind a wall as they exchanged fire with the gunman, whose back was against a vending machine, said student Andrea Barone, who was in the cafeteria. He said the officers proceeded cautiously because many students were trapped around the assailant, who yelled "Get back! Get back!" every time an officer tried to move closer.

Eventually, Barone said, the gunman went down in hail of gunfire.

Authorities did not provide any information about the attacker. Police spokesman Ean Lafreniere said there was just one gunman at the school and the search for any others was over.

Although police initially suggested the gunman had killed himself, Police Director Yvan DeLorme later said at a news conference that "based on current information, the suspect was killed by police."

Police with guns drawn stood behind a police cruiser as a SWAT team swarmed the 12-acre campus. The attacker's bloody body, covered in a yellow sheet, lay next to a police cruiser near an entrance to a school building.

Montreal General Hospital said 11 people were admitted, including eight who were in critical condition. The nine others were taken to two other hospitals. One young woman later died, a police official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the victim's next-of-kin had not yet been notified.

"Today we have witnessed a cowardly and senseless act of violence unfold at Montreal's Dawson College," Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said. "Our primary concern right now is to ensure the safety and recovery of all those who were injured during this tragedy."

The shooting recalled the 1999 attack at Columbine High School in Colorado, where two students wearing trench coats killed 13 people before committing suicide.

Canada's worst mass shooting also happened in Montreal. Gunman Marc Lepine killed 14 women at the Ecole Polytechnic on Dec. 6, 1989, before shooting himself.

The 25-year-old Lepine roamed the halls of the school firing a rifle, specifically targeting women whom he claimed in a suicide note had ruined his life. Nine other women and four men were wounded.

That shooting spurred efforts for new gun laws and greater awareness of societal violence - particularly domestic abuse. Canada's tighter gun law was achieved mainly as the results of efforts by survivors and relatives of Lepine's victims.

Dawson is more of a pre-college division than a traditional university. It was the first English-language institution in Quebec's network of university preparatory colleges when it was founded in 1969. With about 10,000 students, it is the largest college of general and vocational education, known by its French acronym CEGEP, in the province.

Witnesses to Wednesday's attack said a man wearing a black trench coat entered the school cafeteria and opened fire without uttering a word.

Derick Osei, 19, said he was walking down the stairs to the cafeteria when he saw a man with a gun.

"He ... just started shooting up the place. I ran up to the third floor and I looked down and he was still shooting," Osei said. "He was hiding behind the vending machines and he came out with a gun and started pointing and pointed at me. So I ran up the stairs. I saw a girl get shot in the leg."

Osei said people in the cafeteria were all lying on the floor.

"I saw the gunman who was dressed in black and at that time he was shooting at people," student Michel Boyer told CTV. "I immediately hit the floor. It was probably one of the most frightening moments of my life."

"He was shooting randomly, I didn't know what he was shooting at, but everyone was screaming, Get out of the building!" Boyer said. "Everybody was in tears. Everybody was so worried for their own safety for their own lives."

Raamias Hernandez, 19, said he had just finished his class when he saw everyone start to run.

He said the gunman was dressed in a black jacket and had a mohawk haircut. Hernandez said he started to take pictures with his cell phone with his friend and the suspect saw them and started shooting.

Vastava said he saw a man in military fatigues with "a big rifle" storm the cafeteria.

"He just started shooting at people," Vastava said, adding that he heard about 20 shots fired. He also said teachers ran through the halls telling students to get out. "We all ran upstairs."

Barone, 17, said he was sitting in the cafeteria with his girlfriend and some friends when he heard some shots.

"At first I thought it was a firecracker," he said. "Then I turned around and I saw him. He was dressed in a black trench coat and I saw his hand firing a handgun in every direction."

Barone said a police officer emerged from a corner next to the cafeteria and fired a shot in the direction of the gunman no more than several yards away and missed him. Five or six more police officers showed up, he said. Barone said it was like a running battle with five or six shots fired in both directions every minute.

After police eventually killed the gunman, the officers helped the students leave the cafeteria, crawling out on their bellies along a wall.

Barone said as they were crawling out toward an exit they saw a girl who had been shot in the torso and who was face down surrounded by a pool of blood.

He said officers told them: "Don't look, don't look. Keep going out."
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Police say Montreal gunman killed self
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Thu Sep 14, 7:03 PM ET

MONTREAL - A 25-year-old man who mounted a deadly shooting rampage at a downtown Montreal college had posted pictures of himself on the Internet with a rifle and said he was feeling "crazy" and "postal" and was drinking whiskey hours before the attack.

The man, identified by police as Kimveer Gill, also said on a blog that he liked to play a role-playing Internet game about the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado and wanted to die "in a hail of gunfire."

In the end, Gill dressed in a black trench coat like the Columbine shooters put his own gun to his head and pulled the trigger during a shootout with officers at Dawson College on Wednesday, police said.

Gill, wielding a rapid-fire rifle and two other weapons, had already wounded 20 other people by the time he took his own life. One of his victims, an 18-year-old woman, later died. Four others remained in critical condition Thursday, including three in extremely critical condition and one in a deep coma.

The Internet postings and neighbors' accounts reveal an angry, solitary young man who lived with his mother in Laval, near Montreal. He sported a mohawk, dressed in black and was filled with hatred for everyone from jocks to preppies and everything from country music to hip-hop. He once worked for a carpet company and more recently an auto parts business.

"Work sucks ... school sucks ... life sucks ... what else can I say? ... Life is a video game you've got to die sometime," he wrote in his profile for a Web site called vampirefreaks.com.

Authorities searched Gill's home Wednesday evening and seized his computer and other belongings.

"I don't know what they found in the computer," said a woman who answered the phone at Gill's home and said she was his mother. "They took everything."

She described her son as "a good man."

"Just ask anybody. Ask the neighbors. He was a good son," the woman told The Associated Press. She refused to give her name.

A neighbor across the street said he was a loner.

"There were never any friends," Louise Leykauf said. "He kept to himself. He always wore dark clothing."

Another neighbor, Mariola Trutschnigg, said she noticed a changed in his appearance in recent months when he "started wearing a mohawk and black clothes."

In postings on vampirefreaks.com, blogs in Gill's name show more than 50 photos depicting the young man in various poses holding a rifle or a knife and wearing a black trench coat and combat boots.

One photo has a tombstone bearing his name and the epitaph: "Lived fast died young. Left a mangled corpse."

The last of six journal entries Wednesday was posted at 10:41 a.m, about two hours before Gill died at Dawson.

He said on the site that he felt "crazy" and was drinking whiskey that morning and described his mood as "postal" the night before.

"Whiskey in the morning, mmmmmm, mmmmmmmmm, good !! :)," he wrote.

"His name is Trench. you will come to know him as the Angel of Death," Gill wrote at another point on his vampirefreaks.com profile. "He is not a people person. He has met a handful of people in his life who are decent. But he finds the vast majority to be worthless, no good, conniving, betraying, lying, deceptive."

This inscription is below a picture of Gill aiming a gun at the camera: "I think I have an obbsetion (sic) with guns ... muahahaha."

"Anger and hatred simmers within me," said another caption below a picture of Gill grimacing.

He wrote that he is 6-foot-1, was born in Montreal and is of Indian heritage. It was unclear whether he meant east Indian or American Indian, but Gill is a common name in India.

He said his weakness is laziness and that he fears nothing. Responding to the question, "How do you want to die?" Gill replied "like Romeo and Juliet or in a hail of gunfire."

Gill repeatedly said on his blogs that he loved black trench coats. He wore a black trench coat during the shooting and opened fire in the cafeteria just as Columbine students Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris did in 1999.

He also maintained an online blog, similar to Klebold and Harris, devoted to Goth culture, heavy metal music such as Marilyn Manson, guns and journal entries expressing hatred against authority figures and "society."

He said he liked to play "Super Columbine Massacre," an Internet-based computer game that simulates the April 20, 1999, shootings at the Colorado high school when Klebold and Harris killed 13 people and then themselves.

Gill complained that a video shooting game, "Postal 2," was too childish. He wanted one that allowed him to kill more and go "beserk."

"I want them to make a game so realistic, that it looks and feels like it's actually happening," he wrote in his blog.

Danny Ledonne, the creator of "Super Columbine Massacre," posted a message of sympathy on his site.

"I am, like most, saddened by the news of the recent shooting at Dawson College. I extend my condolences to those affected by this painful event," Ledonne wrote.

A 23-year-old man and a 12-year-old girl accused in a triple murder in Medicine Hat, Alberta, earlier this year also had profiles on vampirefreaks.com.

Montreal Police Chief Yvan Delorme said the lessons learned from other mass shootings had taught police to try to stop such assaults as quickly as possible.

"Before our technique was to establish a perimeter around the place and wait for the SWAT team. Now the first police officers go right inside. The way they acted saved lives," he said.

Delorme said some officers were at the school on an unrelated matter when the shooting began and reinforcements were sent in.

Witnesses said Gill started shooting outside the college, then entered the second-floor cafeteria and opened fire without uttering a word. Anastasia DeSousa, 18, of Montreal was killed.

Police initially said Gill shot himself but later Wednesday they said they thought officers killed Gill during an exchange of fire. On Thursday, however, Francois Dore of the Quebec provincial police said "preliminary results of the autopsy showed that he died of self-inflicted wounds." Dore said police shot Gill in the arm before he turned his gun on himself.

Canada's worst mass shooting took place in Montreal when gunman Marc Lepine, 25, killed 14 women at the Ecole Polytechnic on Dec. 6, 1989, before shooting himself.

That shooting spurred efforts for new gun laws achieved mainly as the results of efforts by survivors and relatives of Lepine's victims.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said it was too early to begin questioning how tougher gun control laws might have averted Wednesday's rampage, but that current laws clearly did not work. "The laws we have didn't prevent this tragedy, which is why our government will be in the future because of this incident and many others looking to make our laws more effective," Harper said.

Canadian laws prohibit the possession of unregistered handguns, and the rules for ownership of registered guns are stringent. Many politicians and police contend illegal guns flowing across the U.S.-Canada border are behind a recent spike in firearm violence.

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Montrealers mourn student victim
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Fri Sep 15, 8:38 PM ET

MONTREAL - Students shared hugs, knelt to say prayers and wept openly Friday at the entrance of Dawson college, where a makeshift flower-covered shrine was steadily growing as the city paused to take stock of this week's school shooting.
As flags flew at half-staff across the city, people left flowers and collected their thoughts in silence in various spots around the perimeter of the school.

Twenty-five year-old Kimveer Gill, dressed in a trench coat and sporting a mohawk, went on a shooting rampage Wednesday on Dawson's campus of 10,000 students, killing a young woman and wounding 19 people before taking his own life when cornered by police.

Near the entrance where some of the shooting took place, a poster with a picture of the only person killed in the spree, 18-year-old Anastasia De Souza, carried the words, "We miss you Anna." Another sign said, "To the victims and the families, you are in our hearts."

Workers scrambled inside to get the college ready to reopen for classes next week, but some students indicated returning would not be easy.

"I think a lot of people aren't gonna come back on Monday," said Melody Tousignant, 18. "All of my friends are saying that they can't do it. ... Everybody is so traumatized by what happened."

Karine-Josee Igartua, director of psychiatric emergency services, said Montreal General Hospital had received some 150 calls since the shooting, half of them from people in distress looking for psychological support.

She said that complaints of stress, anxiety and insomnia were normal given the circumstances.

"The reaction is intense but it is normal after such an abnormal event," she said. "Our sense of security has been shaken."

Igartua said drop-in centers were being opened for people seeking help and expected some students to feel apprehensive about returning to school next week.

The hospital reported that one more shooting victim was discharged Friday, and two patients were moved from intensive care to the hospital's regular ward. Seven wounded, of the 11 originally brought in, remained in the hospital, including two who were in critical condition. All had sustained bullet wounds.

Mayor Gerald Tremblay invited mourners to sign a book of condolences at city hall through Sunday.

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WADA holds off on hypoxic chamber ban
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Saturday, September 16, 2006 ·  7:55 p.m.

MONTREAL -- The World Anti-Doping Agency held off on banning the use of hypoxic chambers, but asked that studies look further into health implications.

Hypoxic or hyperbaric tents and chambers are used by many athletes to replicate high-altitude conditions and boost levels of oxygen-rich red blood cells.

WADA's ethics committee ruled Saturday that the chambers enhance performance and violate "the spirit of sport" but the executive committee refrained from adding them to their list of prohibited substances and methods for 2007 during its meeting Saturday.

"It doesn't mean we approve it," WADA head Dick Pound said.

He noted that with the current information available, putting it on the list was not warranted.

"Some people under some conditions, yes, you can obtain some performance-enhancing effect, but not in all," Pound said. "We are however concerned that there may be some potential danger of a medical nature."

WADA said it asked the IOC medical commission to look into the issue of health effects.

WADA's Scientific director, Olivier Rabin, said that side-effects of using the chambers could include altitude-sickness as well as sleep disturbance and could affect the response of the immune system.

Pound also called "tremendously encouraging" the decision by former members of Lance Armstrong's United States Postal Service cycling team to come forward and admit that they used the performance-enhancing drug EPO to prepare for the Tour de France in 1999.

Pound praised that such personal initiatives by athletes could help the fight against doping in sport.

"I hope it continues and we certainly encourage it," he said.

On Thursday Pound said he had full confidence in doping tests for EPO, which produced an initial positive finding for Marion Jones but came back negative in the backup sample.

Pound said WADA would look into all the documents in the Jones' case to determine if there were any mistakes after it asked the Los Angeles laboratory that analyzed her samples to provide them. It considers this process "standard procedure when samples don't match."

Pound also regretted that it was "taking more time than we would like" for countries to ratify the UNESCO convention on doping. Only 17 countries have ratified the treaty so far; at least 30 are required for adoption.

WADA said it would commit $5.4 million this year to scientific research that aims to identify and detect doping substances and methods, bringing the total amount of research since 2001 to $27 million.
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Montreal students return after shooting
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Monday, September 18, 2006; 6:20pm
Students respectfully made a path through flowers forming a makeshift shrine and entered Dawson College for the first time since last week's shooting which killed one student and injured 19 others.

At 12:41 p.m. EST, the time the shooting started last Wednesday, hundreds of students started a symbolic entry, under the applause of onlookers, through the entrance where some of the violence had taken place, reclaiming their school from the tragedy that had left Sept. 13th etched in their memory.

One day before classes formally resume, they were allowed to collect books and other items that were left behind in the panic that broke out when a lone gunman started firing indiscriminately.

Kimveer Gill, 25, dressed in a trench-coat and sporting a mohawk, went on a shooting rampage on the campus of 10,000 students, killing one 18 year-old girl before taking his own life after being cornered by police.

Over the weekend his parents expressed their sympathies to the families of the victims and asked for forgiveness.

In an interview with La Presse newspaper they said Gill had been more solitary and sad since the holidays and had already been treated for depression. They said they were aware their son owned guns but added that they were all acquired legally and registered and were told they were used for his sporting enjoyment at a local gun club.

The parents claim however they were unaware of internet postings in which Gill called himself "Angel of death" and professed to wanting to "die in a hail of gunfire".

Gill also spent a brief period of four weeks trying out the Canadian armed forces, but eventually quit before he had even manipulated arms.

While psychologists said the return to class would be difficult for some students, others got a lift from the solemn procession which the students themselves organized as a show of unity.

"It's pretty overwhelming but it's also uplifting to see everyone coming together as a community, said Andrea Zwaagatra, 21.

Dawson director Richard Fillion said some 10 to 15 percent of students were still deeply affected by the tragedy.

"This is an exceptional moment in Dawson history," Fillion said of the school's reopening. "We will never forget what happened."

Health professionals, including nurses, social workers and psychiatrists, were on hand Monday to help students come to terms with the tragedy.

While Monday was marked by efforts to heal the wounds left by the shooting, fears of a copy-cat incident were raised as the provincial police arrested and seized the computer of a 15 year-old boy who allegedly praised Gill and threatened a similar attack on his school on the site Vampirefreaks.com, the same site where Gill had posted disturbing thoughts and photos of him brandishing various weapons.

Jayson Gauthier, of Quebec provincial police, said the boy, who cannot be identified under Canadian law because of his young age, appeared in court this morning and would spend the night in custody awaiting his bail hearing while authorities sifted through his computer.

"We are looking for files and any means of going through with what he was saying," Gauthier said.

A 23-year-old man and a 12-year-old girl accused in a triple murder in Medicine Hat, Alberta, earlier this year also had profiles on vampirefreaks.com.

Gauthier said police got a tip on the internet posting from the public.

"We will act swiftly to crack down on these individuals," he said, noting a number of people had posted comments supportive of Gill on the web site.

Seven injured students, all suffering from bullet wounds, remained at Montreal General Hospital, where four have been discharged since the shooting.

Meanwhile the Canadian Parliament opened a new session in Ottawa observing a moment of silence for the victims of the shooting.
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Karzai visits Canada to shore up support for mission
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, September 21, 2006

OTTAWA - Afghan President Hamid Karzai came to Canada on Thursday to thank its people for their military sacrifice in Afghanistan and try to convince skeptics about the need to stay involved in his country as opposition to the mission mounts among the Canadian public.

Canada has lost 36 of its approximatively 2,300 troops in Afghanistan, including four during a recent suicide attack, leading to calls for military withdrawal from the left-wing New Democratic Party and other parliamentarians opposed to the country's most important combat operation since the Korean war.

Karzai is aware of the growing controversy over the mission and will argue that Canadian involvement is making his country better, said Omar Samad, Afghanistan's ambassador to Ottawa.

In recognition of Canada's military sacrifices in his country, Karzai will meet with the families of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan and lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in addition to meeting Prime Minister Stephen Harper for the first time since Harper visited Kabul in March.

Karzai will address parliament on Friday.

On Thursday Prime Minister Stephen Harper staunchly defended Canada's mission in Afghanistan during a speech at the United Nations in which he appealed for more help, stressing the future of the U.N. depended on success there.

"The success of this mission, in providing both security and development, is vital to the safety, livelihood and very future of the Afghan people but it is also vital to the health and future of this organization," Harper said.

"If we fail the Afghan people, we will be failing ourselves. For this is the United Nations strongest mission and, therefore, our greatest test. Our collective will and credibility are being judged. We cannot afford to fail. We will succeed."

Earlier this week Harper was steadfast Canada would stay in the country as long as it takes to achieve success, committing a new military contingent in the process. Some saw it as the strongest indication yet that Canada's troops may be there past its current 2009 commitment.

"The exit strategy is success. There will be no other conditions under which this government will leave Afghanistan," Harper said.

As the new Canadian parliamentary session opened, opposition leaders called for an emergency debate on foreign policy and New Democratic leader Jack Layton suggested the government is merely copying U.S. policy "on the fly" with regard to the mission in Afghanistan.

In recent polls Canadians have expressed a growing dissatisfaction with the mission. This week only 38 percent of respondents to an Ekos poll supported military participation in Afghanistan, down 24 points since December 2001.

Harper says the polls only reflects Canadian concern over mounting casualties and not opposition to the military mission and should not keep Canada from staying the course.

"Canada is in there, absolutely, for the right reasons," he stressed.

Karzai will go to Montreal on Saturday to participate in a round-table meeting with non-governmental organizations.

Karzai, who addressed the U.N. in New York on Wednesday, is scheduled to return to the U.S. to visit the White House on Sept. 26, one day before President George W. Bush and the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan meet to discuss regional security.
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Karzai thanks Canada for sacrifices in his country
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, September 22, 2006

OTTAWA - Afghan President Hamid Karzai thanked Canada for its military sacrifice in Afghanistan in a speech to Parliament on Friday noting improvements in his country but hoping for an extended commitment to defend against the resurgence of terrorism.

Addressing a joint meeting of the houses of Parliament, Karzai recognized the Canadian casualties in his country but said they were helping Afghanistan rebuild.

"We admire your determination to help Afghanistan at times with the dearest sacrifice that mankind can offer, the life of your soldiers," Karzai said, specifically addressing the families of fallen soldiers. "Yes, It is sad but it is worth it."

Karzai was in Ottawa to shore up support for military assistance in his country at a time of renewed attacks by Taliban insurgents and slumping support for the war in Canada.

Canada has lost 36 of its approximatively 2,300 troops in Afghanistan, including four during a recent suicide attack, leading to calls by opposition politicians for military withdrawal.

Karzai said international help was effectively helping the country rebuild, but also warned of the dangers of forgetting Afghanistan, stressing that its abandonment in the past had helped al-Qaida set up its bases in the country and plan the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 in New York City and on the Pentagon.

Afghanistan is no longer isolated as Sept. 11 has shown, Karzai said during a press conference after the speech, making the need to confront militants more imperative.

"If we do not defeat them wherever they are, Afghanistan or any part of the world, they can choose to strike us at their timing, at the place of their choice," he said.

Karzai said Afghanistan had seen many improvements in the last five years, including the return of refugees, elections, a constitution and a gradual rebuilding of its institutions, but said a resurgence of militants fueled by the growth of the production of opium poppies required a long-term commitment.

"We want to have a country as good as yours and a parliament as good as yours but we will not have that unless we have destroyed poppies. I hope you will have the patience to bear with us for that long, perhaps 5 to 10 years," he appealed.

That would extend Canada's mission beyond 2011, the year Canada's current humanitarian commitment ends but two years after its current military commitment ends.

Harper said in a press conference following the speech that Canada would have to evaluate Afghanistan's needs in time and did not reject the possibility of an extended commitment.

"I don't anticipate that we will leave but I certainly anticipate our role to change particularly as we achieve one of our objectives which is to insure that the Afghans themselves, the Afghan forces, are increasingly able to take care of their own security, Harper said.

"Our men and women in uniform have shed their blood in a cause we all believe in," Harper said. "Canada does not leave other countries before our work is done.

Karzai pleaded against opposition arguments for a withdrawal of Canadian troops in Afghanistan.

Karzai blamed the insurgency in Afghanistan on militants coming from across its borders, an indirect reference to Afghanistan's neighbor, Pakistan, after a week in which the leaders of both countries had been accusing each other of not doing enough to crack down on extremists.

"Unfortunately it was in those countries beyond our borders where (terrorists) were reorganized, trained, financed and provided with ideological motivation," he said.

Violence continued in Afghanistan on Friday when a bus of construction workers was ambushed by militants, killing 19 of them.

In recent polls Canadians have expressed a growing dissatisfaction with the mission but this week Harper said they only reflect Canadian concern over mounting casualties and not opposition to the military mission and should not keep Canada from staying the course.

Karzai will meet with the families of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan and lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Karzai, who addressed the United Nations in New York on Wednesday, is scheduled to return to the United States to visit the White House on Sept. 26, one day before U.S. President George W. Bush and the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan meet in three-way session to discuss regional security.
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Chirac: Bin Laden Intel not confirmed
The Associated Press
Saturday, September 23, 2006

A leaked French intelligence document raises the possibility Osama bin Laden died of typhoid, but President Jacques Chirac said Saturday the report was "in no way whatsoever confirmed" and officials from Kabul to Washington expressed skepticism about its accuracy.

There have been numerous reports over the years that bin Laden had been killed or that he was dangerously ill, but the al-Qaida leader has periodically released audiotapes appealing to followers and commenting on current news events.

The regional French newspaper l'Est Republicain printed what it described as a copy of a confidential document from the DGSE intelligence service citing an uncorroborated report from a "usually reliable source" who said Saudi secret services were convinced that bin Laden had died.

The document, dated Thursday, was sent to Chirac and other top French officials, the newspaper said.

"This information is in no way whatsoever confirmed," Chirac said when asked about the document. "I have no comment."

Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry offered no details. "I've heard the reports, but I have no information at all. I have no idea," spokesman Mansour al-Turki told The Associated Press.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she had "no comment and no knowledge" about the report, while presidential spokesman Blair Jones said the White House could not confirm the report's accuracy. But two U.S. intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said U.S. agencies had no information to suggest bin Laden was dead or dying.

A senior official in Afghanistan's Foreign Ministry said he was very skeptical of the document, noting past false reports of the death of bin Laden. He declined to let his name be used because he was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly.

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Tasnim Aslam, called the information "speculative," saying his government had no information on bin Laden.

Many people suspect bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders are hiding in the Pakistani mountains along the border with Afghanistan.

Among previous reports, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said during the U.S.-led offensive that toppled Afghanistan's Taliban regime in late 2001 that he was "reasonably sure" bin Laden had been killed by U.S. bombing raids on the Tora Bora caves.

Bin Laden also was rumored to have kidney problems, but a physician detained by Pakistan on suspicion he was treating top Taliban and al-Qaida militants told AP in December 2002 that the al-Qaida leader was in excellent health when the physician saw him a year earlier.

The Washington-based IntelCenter, which monitors terrorism communications, said it was not aware of reports on the Internet speculating about bin Laden and a life-threatening illness.

"We've seen nothing from any al-Qaida messaging or other indicators that would point to the death of Osama bin Laden," IntelCenter director Ben N. Venzke told AP.

Al-Qaida would likely release information of bin Laden's death fairly quickly if it were true, said Venzke, whose organization also provides counterterrorism intelligence services for the U.S. government.

"They would want to release that to sort of control the way that it unfolds. If they wait too long, they could lose the initiative on it," he said.

IntelCenter said the last time it could be sure bin Laden was alive was June 29, when al-Qaida released an audiotaped eulogy for al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed by a U.S. air strike in Iraq earlier that month.

Chirac spoke at a news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Compiegne, France, where the leaders were meeting.

Putin suggested leaks can be ways to manipulate. "When there are leaks ... one can say that (they) were done especially," he said.

Chirac said he was "a bit surprised" at the leak and had asked Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie to investigate how the document was published.

The document from DGSE, or Direction Generale de la Securite Exterieure, indicated the information came from a single source.

"The chief of al-Qaida was a victim of a severe typhoid crisis while in Pakistan on August 23, 2006," the document said. His geographic isolation meant medical assistance was impossible, the French report said, adding that his lower limbs were allegedly paralyzed.

According to the document, Saudi security services were pursuing further details, notably the place of bin Laden's burial.

When asked about the report during an appearance in Montreal, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that if proven true, it would be "good news" for the entire world.

--------------------------------------------
Associated Press writers Katherine Shrader and Deb Riechmann in Washington, Anne Gearan in New York, Lauren Frayer in Cairo, Egypt, and Phil Couvrette in Montreal contributed to this story.
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Karzai comments on reports of bin Laden's possible death
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Saturday, September 23, 2006

MONTREAL - If proven true, reports of Osama bin Laden's death are "good news" for the entire world, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Saturday.

"If it's true of course it's very important news for all of us. That would mean that the mastermind of al-Qaida, the head of al-Qaida, that brought so much misery to people all over the world would have been taken away," Karzai told reporters before an address to Montreal's international relations council.

"Let's just see if it's true or not," he said.

A leaked French intelligence document raised the possibility Saturday that Osama bin Laden may have died of typhoid in Pakistan last month, but the report has not been confirmed.

During his address Karzai paid homage to four Canadians soldiers recently killed in his country, saying that their sacrifice had to be honored by completing their mission.

"For that sacrifice we must make sure that the Canadian mission in Afghanistan, together with the rest of the world, succeeds," he said.

"We still have a journey to make to complete what we began after 2001," Karzai said.

Canada's international cooperation minister said C$12 million (US10.7 million; 7.5 million) in additional aid would be given to Afghanistan's national microcredit program, which provides loans and financial services to the country's poor.

Karzai also met with New Democratic party leader Jack Layton, who has been openly critical of Canada's military mission in Afghanistan.

Layton said that while they disagreed on the need to pursue military operations they came to the conclusion that any long-term solution to the problems in Afghanistan would be political and not military, and should include Pakistan.

"We need to put pressure on the international community as well as on players, including Pakistan, to move into a new pattern toward a discussion for political solution," Layton said. "We believe this war-fighting mission in the south is no way to go."

Layton said Karzai was hopeful that upcoming trilateral meetings with Pakistan in Washington next week would produce results, and that a larger international forum should be considered if they fail.

Karzai, who addressed the United Nations in New York on Wednesday, is ending a three-day visit to Canada and is scheduled to return to the United States to meet with President George W. Bush and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to discuss regional security.

In a speech to the Canadian parliament Friday, Karzai indirectly blamed Pakistan for letting the country's militant insurgency spill across the borders into Afghanistan. But while the two countries have accused each other of not doing enough to crack down on extremism, they maintain a good dialogue, according to Karzai's spokesman on international affairs.

As recently as a few weeks ago Pakistan and Afghanistan had productive "frank" discussions about the problem, Khaleeq Ahmad told The Associated Press.

"Terrorism will be on the agenda," he said of the Washington meeting.

"What we are saying is that we should not fight the results of terror, but the sources of terror," Ahmad said. "We have to cut it at the roots."

Outside the downtown hotel where Karzai was speaking, about 35 anti-war protesters demonstrated and at least one person was arrested.
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Canadian overpass falls; deaths feared
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Saturday, September 30, 2006

LAVAL, Quebec - An overpass near Montreal collapsed Saturday, crushing two cars whose occupants were feared dead, authorities said. At least five people were injured.
Drivers on Highway 19 slammed on their brakes and watched in horror as the overpass slowly collapsed, sending cars plunging and crushing at least two vehicles. Quebec provincial police did not confirm any deaths but spokeswoman Chantal Mackels said police believed it was unlikely that anyone in the two crushed cars survived.

"We watched the overpass slowly come down and two cars fell from it," witness Golda Simon told TVA network.

Manon Joly had just dropped her daughter off at dance school and was in her car about to drive onto Highway 19.

"I slowed down and then all of a sudden everything collapsed like a house of cards," she said. "There were three or four cars that plunged into the hole right in front of me."

Ambulances transported five people. Three were in critical condition including two suffering from head injuries.

Emergency workers had not yet reached people trapped under the wreckage, said Andre Champagne of ambulance service Urgence-Sante. The workers were trying to secure the site before attending to those trapped, he told The Associated Press.

"We know minutes are precious," Champagne said. "It takes a long time. These are heavy structures that have to be moved."

Mackels said three lanes of the overpass plus a pedestrian sidewalk collapsed onto Highway 19. She said four vehicles - a motorcycle, two cars and a minivan - were on the overpass at the time

The incident occurred before 1 p.m. One witness told TVA he noticed that the road sunk an inch or two when he traveled over the overpass minutes earlier and he called emergency dispatchers.

Jean-Nicolas Turcotte, who lives near the overpass, was woken up by the collapse.

"I was sleeping when the large crash woke me up. At first I thought it was an earthquake or an accident. I looked out the window and heard people screaming," Turcotte said. "And I saw large puffs of smoke rising."

Claude Canton was painting his house just off the highway when he heard a loud bang. He said he saw two cars that were stuck under rubble and one started to catch fire before police put it out with extinguishers.

Aerial helicopter shots showed two passenger cars and a van on their backs or on the sides over the wreckage of the collapsed overpass, blocking traffic for miles. Authorities closed the bridge further down connecting Laval with the island on Montreal.

The incident was similar to the 2000 collapse of an overpass, also on the island of Laval north of Montreal, which killed one and injured two.
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5 die in overpass collapse near Montreal
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Sunday, October 1, 2006

LAVAL, Quebec - Quebec provincial police said Sunday that at least five people were crushed to death in their cars after the collapse of an overpass near Montreal.

The cars were pulled out about 15 hours after Saturday's dramatic lunchtime accident when a 65-foot stretch of three lanes of a viaduct collapsed, sending several other vehicles crashing onto Highway 19 below.

Firefighters and other workers had to use cranes and other heavy machinery to painstakingly break up the concrete into as many as 18 huge slabs, including a pedestrian sidewalk.

Three people were found in one car and two other bodies were recovered from the other car trapped by the falling concrete in Laval, police spokeswoman Isabelle Gendron said.

The vehicles were crushed so badly in the Saturday afternoon collapse that they barely reached the knees of one firefighter when lifted from under tons of concrete rubble Sunday.

"At this point the rescue operation is completed," Gendron said, noting that no other vehicles were trapped beneath the concrete.

Drivers on Highway 19 in the Greater Montreal Area slammed on their brakes and watched in horror as the overpass slowly collapsed shortly before 1 p.m.

Police said six people were injured, including two who were listed in critical condition, when a minivan and a motorcycle plunged off the overpass.

Doctors at Sacre-Coeur Hospital in Montreal said some of those injured had improved overnight but gave no further details.

One of the injured was counting his blessings the day after the collapse. Robert Hotte was driving over the viaduct when the road in front of him began to disappear.

"I was wondering what the ... what is happening," he told The Canadian Press. "As we went down with the bridge, my first words were to say `Anne-Marie,' the name of my girlfriend. We went down, falling with the bridge. It was all dark."


The vehicle crashed into the debris below, landing on the passenger side window. They crawled out a window, waiting for a few minutes in a police car for an ambulance to arrive and take them to hospital.

Hotte suffered some minor injuries and was released after X-rays. His girlfriend remained in the hospital in stable condition on Sunday, but she had some internal bleeding, Hotte said.

One witness told TVA television network that he noticed that the road sunk an inch or two when he traveled over the overpass minutes earlier, so he called emergency dispatchers.

Transport Quebec spokeswoman Josee Seguin said the overpass was built in 1970, while Laval Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt said it had passed an inspection test last year.

Seguin said the department heard about an hour before the accident that some pieces of concrete were falling off the overpass. She added that Transport Quebec then issued an advisory to traffic reporters to mention the debris.

A Transport Quebec inspector was sent to the site about 30 minutes before the tragedy but the overpass remained open.

"It is a viaduct that had never, until now, shown any signs of weakness," Vaillancourt said. "It wasn't on the list of viaducts and bridges that needed to be repaired or replaced."

It was the second serious overpass collapse in Laval in the last six years.

In 2000, a man died when a section of overpass that had been under construction for six months collapsed and eight 70-ton beams fell on the car he was riding in.

A coroner's report later concluded a construction company didn't properly secure the concrete beams, and accused the province's construction industry of shoddy work and questionable corporate practices.
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Quebec to probe deadly overpass collapse
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Sun Oct 1, 8:42 PM ET

LAVAL, Quebec - Quebec's government said Sunday it would launch a public inquiry to determine why an overpass collapsed north of Montreal, crushing five people to death.
Visiting the accident site Sunday, Quebec Premier Jean Charest gave his condolences to the families of the victims and said an inquiry by a former provincial leader would seek to shed light on the disaster.

"We don't know how this happened," Charest said. "The initial info we have leads us not to be able to understand how the bridge fell. We're going to want to find out how this happened and why this happened."

There appeared to have been some advance warning signs of trouble with the overpass in Laval before Saturday's collapse, which also injured six people. One witness told TVA television network that he noticed the road had sunk an inch or two when he drove on the overpass minutes before the collapse and he called emergency dispatchers.

Transport Quebec, the province's transportation ministry, also heard about an hour before the accident that some pieces of concrete were falling off the overpass, said spokeswoman Josee Seguin.

She said Transport Quebec then issued an advisory to traffic reporters on the debris and an inspector from the agency was sent to the site, but it remained open.

Not long after that, a 65-foot stretch of the viaduct collapsed, sending several vehicles crashing onto Highway 19 below.

"It is a viaduct that had never, until now, shown any signs of weakness," said Laval Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt. "It wasn't on the list of viaducts and bridges that needed to be repaired or replaced."

Seguin said the overpass was built in 1970. Vaillancourt said it had passed an inspection test last year.

The crushed cars were pulled out about 15 hours after Saturday's lunchtime accident. Firefighters and other workers had to use cranes and other heavy machinery to break up the concrete into as many as 18 huge slabs to remove it.

Vehicles were crushed so badly they barely reached the knees of one firefighter when lifted from under tons of concrete rubble Sunday.

Three people were found in one car and two bodies were recovered from another, police spokeswoman Isabelle Gendron said. Police said six people were injured, including two who were listed in critical condition, when a minivan and a motorcycle plunged off the overpass.

Robert Hotte, one of the injured, was driving over the viaduct when the road in front of him began to disappear.

"I was wondering ... what is happening," he said. "As we went down with the bridge, my first words were to say 'Anne-Marie,' the name of my girlfriend. We went down, falling with the bridge. It was all dark."

The vehicle crashed into the debris below, landing on its passenger-side window. He and his girlfriend crawled out a window and were taken to the hospital.

Hotte suffered minor injuries and was released. His girlfriend remained in the hospital in stable condition on Sunday with some internal bleeding, he said.

It was the second serious overpass collapse in Laval in the last six years.

In 2000, a man died when a section of overpass that had been under construction for six months collapsed and eight 70-ton beams fell on the car he was riding in.

A coroner's report later concluded a construction company didn't properly secure the concrete beams, and accused the province's construction industry of shoddy work and questionable corporate practices.
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Students barricaded in Montreal school
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Wednesday Oct. 4, 2006
MONTREAL Students were brought inside and barricaded in the school gym after some of them said they saw an armed man in a nearby park, but the incident was a false alarm, Montreal police and school board officials said.
Police rushed to Les-Enfants-Du-Monde primary school after receiving the call at midday and established a perimeter but determined that there was no threat to the West-end public school of some 400 students from 5 to 12 years old.
"The operation near a school, with a man who was possibly armed, is over," police spokeswoman Anie Lemieux said shortly after 2 p.m. (1800 GMT). "No suspect was found."
The incident occurred three weeks to the day after an armed man entered Montreal's Dawson College, killing one woman and injuring 19 people before taking his own life.
It also follows a series of U.S. school shootings. A gunman killed himself and five girls Monday at a one-room Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania; on Friday a 15-year-old Wisconsin student shot and killed his principal; and last Wednesday a man took six girls hostage in Colorado, sexually assaulting them before fatally shooting one girl and killing himself.
"The children were never in danger or in contact with the individual," said Sylvain Arsenault of the Montreal school board. "We called the parents to tell them to pick up their children; we didn't want them to take any chances on the way home."
Arsenault said police quickly arrived on the scene, while the school board's trauma team was also called in just to be safe.
"We have to be prudent without bordering on paranoia," he said, referring to other recent school incidents.
Police across Quebec investigated over half a dozen threats against Quebec schools in the days following the shooting at Dawson College.
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Microcreditors gear up for massive gathering
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Thursday Nov. 9, 2006
Organizers of the upcoming Microcredit Summit, whose members are seeking to assist the world's poorest people by providing small loans, said Thursday that their efforts could lift more than half a billion people out of extreme poverty in less than a decade.

Speaking in Ottawa ahead of a four-day summit in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which gets under way Sunday, Microcredit Campaign Summit director Sam Daley-Harris said the ambitious goals of the conference would require "renewed efforts and new players."

The Summit has already drawn Bangladeshi economist Dr. Muhammad Yunus, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize on Oct. 13; Queen Sofia of Spain; the prime minister of Pakistan and other heads of states, as well as large philanthropic groups such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Organizers will launch a new goal to help 175 million families get small loans by the end of 2015, which they believe could impact some 875 million people.

The microcredit scheme of offering small loans to poor people who have no collateral was launched by Yunus in Bangladesh some 30 years ago, when he founded the Grameen Bank. It gave out loans, mostly $200 (€156) and mostly to women, to buy a cow or cellular phone. Those women went on to sell the milk or telephone calls, feed their families and send their kids to school.

Now there are some 3,100 institutions worldwide giving microcredit loans.

Daley-Harris said the Nobel Prize has helped the program gain much-needed attention.

The Campaign's progress from 1997-2005 went by largely unnoticed," Daley-Harris told a news conference in Ottawa. "Now, with the announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize, we are asking the world to not only take notice, but also take action."

The Microcredit Summit Campaign, launched in 1997, is determined to help 175 million people living on less than $1 a day get small loans by the end of 2015, despite previously falling short of reaching its initial goal 100 million people by the end of 2005.

The campaign still provided loans to about 82 million people.

An estimated 1 billion of the planet's people still live on less than a dollar a day; another 3 billion are believed to subsist on $2 a day, or half the world's population.

Yunus will open the summit Sunday by addressing some 2,000 delegates from more than 100 countries to review their efforts and launch the next round of goals for the campaign.

Micro-bankers, some with as many as 6 million loans out this year, will deliberate with global commercial bankers from Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, ING Bank, Scotia Bank and many others.

_____

On the Net:

Microcredit Campaign Summit: http://www.microcreditsummit.org

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Microcredits part of mainstream, Nobel Prize winner says
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Sunday Nov. 12, 2006

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) - Critics of microcredit have been proven wrong, as the revolutionary banking system goes mainstream and continues to lift millions of people out of poverty, Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus told the opening of global conference Sunday.

Yunus and his Grameen Bank, which he founded in his native South Asian country more than three decades ago, shared the Nobel Peace Prize a month ago.

"We were not taken very seriously, we were ridiculed, but today we can celebrate," Yunus told a jubilant crowd in his first North American address since winning the award on Oct. 13.

Members of the Washington-based Microcredit Summit Campaign have gathered to discuss their new goal of reaching 175 million people living on less than $1 with small loans by 2015.

Though it fell short of its previous goal of 100 million people by the end of 2005 - reaching 82 million people instead - its proponents believe the Nobel will further their cause.

The four-day summit, which runs through Wednesday, brings together 2,000 delegates from more than 100 countries, including Queen Sofia of Spain, the president of Honduras and the prime ministers of Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

(more)
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Suspected Spy due in Canadian Court
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, November 16, 2006 · 7:37 p.m. PT

Canada will try to deport an alleged spy, authorities said Thursday, after he was arrested in Montreal this week and called a potential threat to national security.

The man was taken into custody by the Canada Border Services Agency on Tuesday, said Melisa Leclerc, a spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day.

A copy of the security certificate, obtained by The Associated Press, said a man alleging to be Paul William Hampel, "a foreign national," had been detained, but it gave no details about his nationality or the accusations against him.

CTV reported that the suspect is possibly from Russia, posing as a Canadian citizen, but federal officials would not confirm that.

Under Canada's Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the man is suspected of "engaging in an act of espionage or an act of subversion against a democratic government, institution or process as they are understood in Canada," the certificate said.

The Federal Court of Canada said the man would appear in a Montreal courtroom Wednesday to review the allegations against him.

It is the first time in a decade that a security certificate has been filed in an espionage case. In 1996, two Russian spies were deported from Canada.

Leclerc said more information would become available as the legal process unfolds in Federal Court. "There's not much I can say, because it's before the court," she told The Canadian Press.

Barbara Campion of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, told the AP that the security certificate - which allows authorities to detain suspects who pose a threat to national security without formal charge or trial - was released by the Federal Court on Wednesday.

She said she could not comment further, but added that the man was "believed to be a spy."

Under federal immigration law, the government may use a certificate to deport a non-citizen suspected of being a risk to Canadian security.

Critics, however, argue the certificate system is unconstitutional because the person named does not have full access to the evidence against him. The Supreme Court of Canada is about to rule on a challenge to the certificate regime and whether it's constitutional.

The certificates have become a flashpoint in Canada's fight against terrorism, drawing criticism from human rights activists and lawyers. Five Arab Muslim men have been detained under the certificates since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States.

The certificates have now been used in 28 cases, almost all involving terrorism or espionage, since 1991.

Dmitriy Olshevsky and Yelena Olshevskaya, who went by the bogus names Ian and Laurie Lambert, made headlines in 1996 when they were arrested and promptly removed from Canada.

Friends and co-workers were stunned to learn the pair were actually "sleeper" agents for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR, the successor to the KGB.

Two Russian diplomats kicked out of Canada in 2002 were military attaches at the Russian Embassy in Ottawa, suspected by many of being involved in espionage.
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LeMond Urges criminal sanctions against dopers
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Mon Nov 20, 8:10 PM

MONTREAL (AP) - Three-time Tour de France champion Greg LeMond wants athletes who cheat by using banned drugs to face criminal charges for defrauding the public and their sponsors.

LeMond also told the World Anti-Doping Agency that athletes who confess or come forward with information that could undo doping networks should receive more lenient punishment, balancing the benefit of people coming clean with the need to penalize cheaters.

"I believe in severe penalties, possibly even life bans. But you can't penalize everybody, or no one will come forward," said LeMond, adding that athletes who co-operate should get a second chance, but under a probationary period of intense scrutiny.

The American cyclist made the remarks Monday as a guest of WADA's Foundation board, at a time when the doping agency is considering tougher sanctions for athletes found guilty of doping.

As WADA reviews its global anti-doping code, which sets out common rules and sanctions for all sports, the International Association of Athletics Federations has proposed doubling the standard penalty for a doping violation from a two-year to four-year suspension.

Athletes want strong sanctions, WADA executive committee and athlete committee member Rania Elwani reminded the board.

"Athletes are responsible to make sure they get nothing wrong in their system," she said.

LeMond said doping was one of the reasons he left the sport "with a bad taste in my mouth." At the time, he assumed his declining rankings were a result of his failure to compete or train sufficiently. Now, he believes the development of drug programs - EPO in particular - were responsible.

"EPO was used to transform decent athletes into super-athletes," he said.

In other business Monday, WADA unanimously elected Jean-Francois Lamour as its new vice-president, one year before Dick Pound is expected to step down as the leader of the agency. Lamour, nominated by European ministers last month, was the only candidate and is in a leading position to replace Pound.

"One of my priorities is to look at our ability to reinforce the battle against the trafficking of doping products," Lamour said.

The board also approved a US$23 million budget for 2007, an increase of three per cent over this year.
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Canada says it's arrested Russian Spy
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Nov. 21, 2006, 4:24PM

MONTREAL - A man arrested on espionage charges is an elite Russian spy who had been collecting intelligence on Canada for more than a decade, Canadian authorities said in court documents released Tuesday.

The man identified as Paul William Hampel was taken into custody by the Canada Border Services agency on Nov. 14 and accused of being a foreign spy deemed threatening to Canadian security.

Revealing details in documents filed in Federal Court in Montreal, Canadian Security Intelligence Service officials said they believed Hampel is a member of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR, a successor to the KGB.

The officials said Hampel used a fraudulent birth certificate to obtain at least three Canadian passports and recommended that he immediately be deported. He was to appear in court on Wednesday.

Hampel's attorney, Stephane Handfield, said his client would seek a delay in the deportation proceedings because he only received the summary of the evidence against him on Tuesday.

Handfield also complained that Hampel had problems contacting his lawyers last week. He said he met with Hampel on Sunday, but would not say where he is being detained.

"I didn't talk to him last week because it was impossible for him to communicate with his lawyers," he told The Canadian Press.

The documents detailed items allegedly found by authorities on Hampel after he was detained at Pierre Elliot Trudeau Airport, including a fraudulent Ontario birth certificate in a travel pouch under his shirt, $6,810 in five currencies, three cell phones, two digital cameras and a short wave radio.

"Hampel's establishment of a legend based on Canadian documentation has provided him with the ability to covertly further the interests of the SVR for over a decade both within Canada and abroad," the federal summary reads, accusing him of being "an elite intelligence officer."

The documents were filed on behalf of CSIS, Canada's intelligence arm.

Calls to the Russian Embassy in Ottawa and the SVR in Moscow were not immediately returned.

Dmitriy Olshevsky and Yelena Olshevskaya, who went by the bogus names Ian and Laurie Lambert, made headlines in 1996 when they were arrested and promptly removed from Canada. Friends and co-workers were stunned to learn the pair were actually "sleeper" agents for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service.
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90 alleged organized crime figures arrested in Montreal
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Wed. Nov. 22, 2006
MONTREAL: Police arrested some 90 suspected mobsters early Wednesday, including the father of a man who allegedly killed members of the Bonanno crime family in New York, dealing what they described as a major blow to organized crime.

Dubbed Project Coliseum, in a reference to the ancient Roman landmark, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said 700 police officers in Montreal conducted early morning raids to round up suspects, calling it "one of the most important police operations in the history of Canada."

The national police force said more than 1,300 charges were expected to be brought against the suspects, including attempted murder, drug dealing, gangsterism, extortion, bookmaking and possession of restricted weapons.

"We believe we've pierced Italian organized crime," Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cpl. Luc Bessette said, adding that the project began two years ago.

"When we talk about organized crime, we do so knowing that many in this country don't believe it impacts their daily lives or is even present in their communities," RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli said. "By sowing the seeds of greed, corruption and violence, organized crime directly harms individuals, communities and society at large."

The RCMP, Montreal police and Quebec provincial police took part in the raids.

Among those arrested was 82-year-old Nicolo Rizzuto, the father of Vito Rizzuto, who was deported to the United States earlier this year to face charges related to the murder of three members of the reputed Bonanno crime family in New York.

Also arrested were Francesco Arcadi, Francesco Del Balso, Paolo Renda, Rocco Sollecito and other associates.

The RCMP alleges the men are part of an organized crime family whose primary activity was to import and export drugs, operate an online bookmaking business, extortion and murder.

"This major international investigation ... highlighted the group's criminal activity and revealed the many tentacles of traditional Italian-based organized crime," the RCMP said in a statement.

The RCMP investigators said the group had infiltrated Montreal's international airport and that a customs officer and a dozen current and former employees were involved in a scheme to import 1,300 kilograms (2,866 pounds) of cocaine by container. The police said the first 300 kilograms (660 pounds) in the first shipment was seized.

The RCMP said assets of some of those charged were seized, including houses and bank accounts. More than C$3.1 million (US $2.7 million; €2.1 million) and US $255,200 (€198,045) were seized in the course of the investigation.
----------------------------------------------------------------------

Canada claims man arrested works for Russian intelligence
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Wed. Nov. 22, 2006
MONTREAL: The case of a man accused of being an elite Russian spy gathering intelligence in Canada for more than a decade was put off until next week after a judge agreed Wednesday that the accused had not had enough time to consult with his lawyers.

The suspect was taken into custody by the Canada Border Services Agency on Nov. 14 after authorities said a man identified as Paul William Hampel was in fact a foreign national suspected of engaging in acts of espionage that threatened Canadian security.

In documents filed in Federal Court in Montreal on Tuesday, CSIS officials said they believe Hampel is a member of the Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR, a successor to the KGB.

Hampel appeared in court Wednesday morning, but the federal judge put the hearing off until next Tuesday so that he would have more time to consult with lawyers.

A spokeswoman for the SVR in Moscow declined to comment on the case and calls to the media liaison at the Russian Embassy in Ottawa were not returned.

Hampel is believed to have collected intelligence on Canada for more than a decade, authorities said in the documents filed on Tuesday. They claim he used a fraudulent birth certificate to obtain three Canadian passports and recommended that he be deported.

"Hampel's establishment of a legend based on Canadian documentation has provided him with the ability to covertly further the interests of the SVR for over a decade both within Canada and abroad," the federal summary reads.

The documents said when Hampel was detained and searched by authorities at Pierre Elliot Trudeau Airport on Nov. 14, they found his fraudulent Ontario birth certificate in a travel pouch under his shirt; C$7,800 (US$6,810; €5,300) in five currencies; three cellular phones; five sim cards (several of which were password protected); two digital cameras and a short wave radio.

Details of his three Canadian passport applications in 1995, 2000 and 2002 were included in the documents. Though most of the contents were blacked out, the first two applications claimed that Hampel was a lifeguard and travel consultant.

"An SVR illegal is an elite Russian intelligence officer," said the documents filed on behalf of CSIS, Canada's intelligence arm. "Illegals are secretly deployed abroad, operate covertly under assumed names and life stories and masquerade as citizens of target countries."

The last time Russian spies were captured and booted from Canada was in 1996, when Dmitriy Olshevsky and Yelena Olshevskaya, who went by the bogus names Ian and Laurie Lambert. Friends and colleagues were stunned to learn the pair were actually "sleeper" agents for the SVR.
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Police continue to arrest Montreal crime figures
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Thur. Nov. 23, 2006

MONTREAL: Canadian police were rounding up suspects for a second day in what they called one of the most important police operations in the country's history which involved 90 members of organized crime, four of them living in the U.S., authorities said Thursday.

Since early Wednesday morning Project Coliseum has been sending some 700 police officers conducting raids in Quebec and two other provinces, looking to arrest 90 suspected mobsters, including the father of a man who allegedly killed members of the Bonanno crime family in New York, dealing what they described as a major blow to organized crime.

Police said some 56 of the suspects had already appeared in court while the names of twelve others still on the loose were posted on the web site of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The Mounties said more than 1,300 charges were expected to be brought against the suspects, including attempted murder, drug dealing, gangsterism, extortion, bookmaking and possession of restricted weapons.

Among the figureheads arrested was 82-year-old Nicolo Rizzuto, the father of Vito Rizzuto, who was deported to the United States earlier this year to face charges related to the murder of three members of the reputed Bonanno crime family in New York.

Also arrested were Francesco Arcadi, Francesco Del Balso, Paolo Renda, Rocco Sollecito and other associates.

The RCMP alleges the men are part of an organized crime family whose primary activity was to import and export drugs, operate an online bookmaking business, extortion and murder.

Police said it disrupted the import of cocaine from the Caribbean and South America as well as a cannabis route from Canada into the U.S. using a Native reserve as a transit location so that the drugs could be moved to Florida.

Twenty-four individuals were answering charges related to that scheme involving the Akwesasne Mohawk reserve straddling the U.S.-Canada border.

Charges faced by the suspects include attempts to import drugs from countries such as Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, one shipment of 300kg (660 pounds) of cocaine having been seized in a container first loaded onto a truck in Newark, New Jersey.

"In most large-scale investigations here in Canada, especially those targeting organized crime, we're always working with the various agencies in the U.S. whether it's Homeland Security, the FBI or DEA, we're always working in partnership," said RCMP inspector Michel Aubin.

"The investigation has shown they had external contacts," Aubin said of the suspects. "These contacts are under investigation."

Aubin said most of the 90 suspects are Canadian but noted "there are four individuals that live in the states for which arrest warrants have been issued here in Canada."

RCMP investigators said some suspects had infiltrated Montreal's international airport and that a customs officer and a dozen current and former employees were involved in a scheme to import 1,300 kilograms (2,866 pounds) of cocaine by container.

More than $2.7 million in assets were also frozen and $255,200 in U.S. currency were seized in the course of the investigation.
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Man accused of being Russian spy faces deportation
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Dec 04 2006, 20:55

MONTREAL (AP) - A lawyer representing a man accused of being a Russian spy told a judge Monday that his client had acknowledged using a false Canadian passport, was in fact a Russian citizen and would no longer fight deportation.

The federal judge accepted the surprise confession and said the man who called himself Paul William Hampel would now be deported. Judge Pierre Blais, however, declined to reveal the true identity of the man, saying it could harm his family or health.

Only last week, Hampel's lawyer, Stephane Handfield, insisted Hampel was a Canadian citizen, was innocent of any allegations against him and would fight to remain in Canada. The Russian ambassador also denied that Hampel was a spy, saying that type of Cold War espionage was over.

But Handfield told reporters outside the courtroom that the man called Hampel realized he had no witnesses or proof of Canadian citizenship, so he decided to give up his effort to fight deportation.

"After discussions with our client these last few days, he decided to admit that he wasn't Paul William Hampel," Handfield said, adding that the man also acknowledged he was in Canada illegally, was Russian, and "wanted to return to his country of citizenship."

Handfield would not answer questions about Hampel's alleged intelligence activities, and said his client expected to be deported quickly.

"He fears for his safety and that of his family everywhere," Handfield said, declining to give Hampel's true name or discuss whether he was engaged in espionage.

The Canada Border Services Agency took Hampel into custody on Nov. 14 after finding he was carrying a fraudulent Ontario birth certificate under his shirt.

According to documents filed in Federal Court in Montreal, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service believes Hampel is a member of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR, a successor to the Soviet-era KGB. Officials had asked for his immediate deportation, suspecting him of acts of espionage that threatened Canadian security.

When Hampel was detained and searched at Pierre Elliot Trudeau Airport, he had $6,810 in five currencies; three cellular phones; five sim cards for cellular phones (several of them password protected); two digital cameras and a shortwave radio, according to CSIS documents.

An official with the Office of the Registrar General of Ontario told a hearing last week that there was no birth or death certificate for a Paul William Hampel and that the registration number Hampel used on his birth certificate had been assigned to another person who is alive.

Hampel's three Canadian passport applications in 1995, 2000 and 2002 showed he had claimed to be a lifeguard and a travel consultant. A self-published book of landscape photography called "My Beautiful Balkans" showed he had traveled widely in the region.

On his Web site promoting the book, Hampel calls himself an emerging markets analyst. The Web site shows new photo postings on Nov. 11 from Serbia and Macedonia.

Cases involving alleged Russian spies are rare in Canada. The last case was in 1996, when Dmitriy Olshevsky and Yelena Olshevskaya, who went under the names of Ian and Laurie Lambert, were arrested and promptly deported. Friends and co-workers were stunned to learn the pair were actually "sleeper" agents for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service.
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Gainey family thanks rescuers
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
12.12.06, 7:37 PM ET
MONTREAL - The family of Canadian hockey great Bob Gainey on Tuesday
thanked supportive fans and all those who helped search for
his daughter, who has been missing since a huge wave swept
her overboard a ship in the Atlantic.

Laura Gainey was on the deck of the 180-foot tall ship
Picton Castle on Friday night when the wave hit the ship.
She was wearing protective clothing but no lifejacket at the
time. The U.S. Coast Guard called off the search for Gainey,
25, on Monday night.

In their first comments since the incident 475 miles off
Cape Cod, the Montreal Canadiens general manager and his
three other children thanked "all the people who have been
involved in the search for our darling Laura."

"Their extensive efforts and their tremendous support
throughout this ordeal will never be forgotten," the family
said in a statement released by the Montreal Canadiens. "We
would particularly like to thank the United States Coast
Guard and the Canadian Forces' Joint Rescue Coordination
Center in Halifax for their extraordinary efforts.

"We are also very grateful to the entire crew of the Picton
Castle and the merchant ships that graciously volunteered
their time and resources."

Less than two weeks ago, the tall ship set sail from
Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, for a six-month tour that would take
it to the Caribbean. Gainey was a member of the crew, with
responsibility for certain watches and instruction of
volunteer trainees.

U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard aircraft had scoured the ocean
for Gainey using infrared night-vision technology to
continue searches at night.

While the water temperature was found to be a relatively
warm 68 degrees in that part of the mid-Atlantic, and Gainey
was a strong swimmer, the Coast Guard called off the search
Monday evening as it was unlikely she could have survived 70
hours in the water.

On Tuesday, the Picton Castle, which had also been actively
searching along with two merchant ships, also announced it
was ending its search.

"The time has now come to end the search and allow our crew
to carry on with the voyage southward towards calmer, safer
waters," captain Daniel Moreland said. "They are tired,
grief-stricken for their shipmate and heartsick for the
Gainey family."

Gainey has taken a leave of absence from the team. A moment
of silence will be held when the Canadiens face Boston in
Montreal on Tuesday night.

A member of the hockey Hall of Fame, Gainey won five Stanley
Cups with Montreal during a 16-year career as a forward from
1973-89. He also won a championship as general manager of
the Dallas Stars in 1999. His wife, Cathy, died of brain
cancer in 1995 at 39.
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UN aviation agency reports world traffic up 5 percent
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
December 21, 2006
MONTREAL: World airline traffic grew by about 5 percent in 2006, with the Middle East and Asia leading the way while North America, Europe and Latin America were below the world average, the U.N. civil aviation agency reported Thursday.

Preliminary traffic figures by the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) reported that the total number of passengers grew by about 4 percent to 2.1 billion this year, while traffic in terms of passenger miles increased by about 5 percent.

The figures mark a continuation of traffic growth after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States and a slowing world economy hurt airline traffic in 2001 and 2002.

The Middle East was expected to keep leading the pack due to strong regional economies and sustained growth, while the Asia-Pacific region saw domestic routes showing strong growth in both capacity and traffic figures.

North American airlines, meanwhile, have had to adjust their strategies on international routes, focusing on longer routes, while dealing with stiff competition domestically "to respond to low-cost competition."

 "Growth for airlines in North America, Europe and Latin America were below the world average, mainly due to a more measured deployment of capacity, some route rationalization and changes in the route mix introduced by carriers of the North American and European regions," the ICAO said in a news release.

The average passenger load was up to almost 76 percent from around 75 percent last year on both international and domestic routes.

Freight traffic was also up 3 percent over last year, with freight tons carried on scheduled services worldwide growing to around 39 million tons (35.5 million metric tons).
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Jailed Olympic gold medallist Bedard arrives in Canada
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
January 4, 2007
MONTREAL: After spending Christmas and New Year's in jail, Olympic gold medalist Myriam Bedard boarded a plane in the United States on Thursday and arrived in Canada, where she will face parental child abduction charges.

Bedard flew home to Quebec City, Quebec on a Royal Canadian Mounted Police jet in police custody and will spend the night at a detention center before her bail hearing Friday.

Bedard's American attorney, Kevin McCants, said Bedard's attorneys expected her to be released from custody Friday on the condition that she not leave Canada.

Bedard was arrested Dec. 22 and is being held on a warrant as an international fugitive for allegedly violating a child custody order by bringing her 12-year-old daughter to the United States. U.S. marshals found her and the girl, Maude, at a hotel in a suburb between Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

A judge in Canada signed an order on the day of Bedard's arrest that granted sole custody of her daughter to her ex-husband, Jean Paquet, McCants said he learned Thursday. He said Bedard was not aware of the order.

"We're working on getting it thrown out," McCants said.

The 37-year-old Bedard won two gold medals in the biathlon competition at the 199Lillehammer Olympics in Norway.

An attorney from her Canadian lawyer's office read Bedard her rights in a phone conversation with the plane. Isabelle Charles says she informed Bedard, who was hoping to be freed right away, that she would have to remain in jail one more night.

"There was a bit of disappointment but she knows she doesn't have a choice," Charles said.

McCants said Bedard had come to the U.S. with her daughter and common-law husband, Nima Mazhari, to talk to U.S. officials about a scandal involving a Canadian government sponsorship program in Quebec between 1996 and 2004. Bedard testified in 2004 in Canada that she had been forced to quit a job at Via Rail in 2002 after raising concerns about the company's dealings with an advertiser.

"This is just a punishment because of what happened with the political scandal. That's what she told me," McCants said.

She faces up to 10 years in prison for child abduction. Paquet alleged she had taken their daughter from Quebec City without his permission.

Mazhari has had his own legal problems. He was charged in 2005 with theft and possession of about 20 stolen paintings worth $100,000 (€76,300).

__

AP Writer Ben Nuckols contributed to this story from Baltimore.
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Olympian Bedard out on bail
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
January 5, 2007, 3:06 PM CST

MONTREAL - Former Olympic biathlon champion Myriam Bedard was given bail Friday on a charge of breaching a custodial order involving her 12-year-old daughter.

Bedard's appearance in a Quebec City courtroom came a day after she returned home following nearly two weeks in jail in the United States.
She was given bail with conditions that include supervised visits with her daughter, remaining in Quebec and surrendering her passport and appearing once a week at a designated Montreal police station.

"I'm very happy to be out, I can't wait to see my daughter," the two-time gold-medalist told a crush of reporters waiting outside the courthouse.

Her attorney John Pepper Jr. considered the ruling "most reasonable" ahead of a jury trial that will begin with a preliminary hearing on April 2.

Bedard's lawyers contend she did not breach a custody agreement when she took her daughter to the United States on Oct. 3. Bedard, who was denied bail by a U.S. judge shortly after her arrest in Maryland, waived her right to an extradition hearing.

The two countries agreed last Friday for her return to Quebec to face the criminal charges.

The 37-year-old Bedard won two gold medals in the biathlon competition at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.

She faces up to 10 years in prison for child abduction. Her ex-husband alleged she had taken their daughter from Quebec City without his permission.
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Canadian authorities investigating terror threat
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
January 19, 2007

MONTREAL: Canadian authorities said Friday they were investigating terrorist threats against Montreal's anglophone community by a group claiming links to militant Quebec separatists who kidnapped and murdered a Quebec minister in the 1970s.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said it was investigating the source of a statement signed by a group which claimed to be a cell of the Quebec Liberation Front (FLQ) and threatened to attack public buildings in the city's largely English-speaking west end.

"Is it a hoax, is it someone who wants to pass as an FLQ cell? This remains to be determined, but we are taking this very seriously," said Luc Bessette of the RCMP. "Our entire national security team is working on this and the investigation will be handled as quickly as possible."

In 1970, the shadowy militant FLQ demanded "total independence" from Canada. Its members kidnapped and killed Quebec's labor minister and later abducted, then freed, a British diplomat.

The subsequent "October Crisis" was considered one of the darkest periods in modern Canadian history. Canadian troops patrolled the streets of Quebec and jailed alleged FLQ sympathizers, most of whom were later found innocent of having any FLQ ties.

Since then, the separatist Parti Quebecois has gained seats in the provincial assembly, but twice failed to win referendums calling for independence of the French-speaking province. The political party has never advocated violence in its struggle for sovereignty.

In the statement dated Jan. 15, the purported cell of the militant group warns that attacks would target anglophone municipalities with the intention of causing "maximum impact" between Feb. 15 and March 15, using booby-trapped parcels and remote-control devices.

"It's possible there will be injuries and deaths," warns the document obtained by The Associated Press.

Municipalities in Quebec that renounce their bilingual status before Feb. 15 and promote the French language would be spared, the document contends. Immigrants who don't learn French and businesses that don't conform to Quebec laws that call for the prominent display of French on their business signs were also threatened.

The group said it would target shopping malls, bridges, rail lines, airport facilities, water supplies, municipal buildings and service stations.

Copies of the statement were sent to the mayor of the Montreal suburb of Beaconsfield, as well as Quebec Premier Jean Charest and French President Jacques Chirac.

The same group issued a first warning of attack last November, referring to the same date.

On Feb. 15, 1839, five members of the French-Canadian Patriotes, who were rebels against British colonial authority, were hanged.

The author claimed French-speaking Quebecois were "systematically ridiculed by a local anglophone majority who scorn the French language and the rights of francophones" and subject them to "Anglo-Saxon imperialism."

The November statement launched an investigation by the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, which includes Montreal and provincial police, the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

While the Quebec separatist movement has not displayed the militancy of the 1970s in recent years, polls indicate the movement is far from dead, with support for Quebec's independence hovering between 40 to 45 percent.

A motion passed by the House of Commons in Parliament last fall stated that the people of Quebec form a nation within a united Canada, in an attempt to address the identity debate.
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World's oldest woman dies
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
January 19, 2007

MONTREAL: Julie Winnifred Bertrand, believed to be the world's oldest woman at 115, died in her sleep at the Montreal nursing home where she had lived for the last 35 years, an official at the home said Friday.

Bertrand, born Sept. 16, 1891, in the Quebec town of Coaticook, passed away early Thursday morning, according to Nicole Ouellet. Her nephew Andre Bertrand told The Gazette in Montreal that she died peacefully in her sleep.

"She just stopped breathing," said Bertrand, 73. "That's a nice way to go."

Bertrand became the world's oldest woman last month, after the death of Elizabeth Bolden, a Tennessee woman born on Aug. 15, 1890, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

The designation set off a publicity storm of sorts. Bertrand's niece, Elaine Sauciere, said the fame her aunt acquired late in life was really quite "unbelievable."

"This little woman sold clothes at a department store in Coaticook," said Sauciere, 70.

A British film crew had just requested an interview with Bertrand for a documentary on people who live long lives. The work also features Emiliano Mercado del Toro of Puerto Rico, the world's oldest person, who was 26 days older than Bertrand.

Andre Bertrand said his aunt never had a problem saying no - and did so to dozens of journalists, filmmakers and medical researchers keen on discovering her secret to long life.

"She was tough, feisty and self-sufficient," Bertrand said of his aunt.

The eldest of six children of harness maker Napoleon Bertrand and his wife, Julia Mullins, Bertrand never married.

She had her suitors, Sauciere said, adding it's difficult to say how close she may have been to Louis St. Laurent, a young lawyer from Compton who went on to become prime minister.

"She was friends with his sister and I think she was sweet on him, but how serious it was, I don't know," Sauciere told the Gazette.

Bertrand worked as a buyer for the F.X. Lajoie department store in Coaticook, a mill town in the Eastern Townships close to the Quebec-U.S. border, according to the Gazette.

For the past 35 years, her home had been a small room at Residences Berthiaume de Tremblay, a long-term care facility overlooking the Riviere des Prairies.

Until 10 years ago, Bertrand enjoyed full health and a quiet life, punctuated by the home's social events, picnics, sing-alongs and her annual birthday party.

A private family service will be held at the nursing home. Years ago, Bertrand purchased a burial plot at the Catholic cemetery in Coaticook.
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Internet hate site owner gets six months in jail
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
January 24, 2007

MONTREAL: Human rights advocates said Wednesday a judge was too lenient when he sentenced a man to six months in jail for the willful promotion of hatred on the Internet.

Quebec Court Judge Martin Vauclair on Tuesday called Jean-Sebastien Presseault "vile" and "nauseating" for building and managing a Web site promoting the genocide of blacks and Jews and featuring racist and anti-Semitic songs and games.

Presseault's Web site, which was created on a U.S. server, has since been removed.

Presseault, 30, had just finished serving another stint in jail for threatening a judge.

The ruling disappointed prosecutor Thierry Nadon, who had sought a one-year term to dissuade others from fomenting hatred.

"It's too lenient, with good behavior it can be reduced to a sixth of his sentence," said Moise Moghrabi of B'Nai Brith's League of Human Rights, a Jewish group. "Hatemongers find that (the Internet) is a fantastic tool to spread hatred and blanket the world."

Presseault is the second Canadian to go to jail for espousing hatred on the Internet. An Alberta judge handed a 16-month sentence to a man in September in what was called a groundbreaking Internet hate-crime case.

Presseault's Web site praised Timothy McVeigh's 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City, Adolph Hitler and the Ku Klux Klan, and featured racist games and photos as well as "hate music" that police said has been downloaded more than 300,000 times.
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Muslim woman chooses head scarf over job
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Fri March 16, 2007

MONTREAL: Muslim rights groups were angry Friday that a young Muslim woman was forced to quit her job at a prison after she refused to remove her religious headscarf.

Asked to choose between the scarf and a new training program at Montreal's Bordeaux jail, Sondos Abdelatif, 19, chose to wear her hijab and walked away from the job on Tuesday.

The incident has upset Muslim groups and fueled debate in predominantly Roman Catholic Quebec over reasonable accommodation for its religious and cultural minorities.

Abdelatif, whose family said she was in school and could not be reached for comment Friday, quit the program after she was told that a hostile prisoner could use her hijab to strangle her.

While rules at the institution make no mention of hijabs - a scarf that covers the hair and neck - they do stipulate that a guard's hair must be tied back and that they cannot wear ties.

Quebec's Public Security Department and the labor union representing prison guards supported the decision.

"As a security measure, the hijab cannot be accepted as an element of the uniform to execute the functions of a correctional officer," said public security department spokesman Real Roussy.

The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations called the firing "entirely unnecessary" and pointed out that the Canadian Armed Forces and police departments in other Canadian cities allow women to wear the headscarf on active duty.

"If it really was a security issue, they would have sat down with Sondos and would have said, 'Look, we're really worried about your safety and we need to talk about what we can do to address this or we'll fire you,'" said CCAIR spokeswoman Sarah Elgazzar. "But she was given an ultimatum: 'You either take it off or you're fired.'"

While the Armed Forces require a special head scarf, others working in police forces wear them bandana-style, Elgazzar said, adding that Abdelatif had been willing to do that.

The debate over how Muslims are treated in Quebec has been making headlines.

Last month, an 11-year-old Muslim girl from Ontario participating in a soccer tournament in Quebec was pulled off the field after she refused the referee's request to remove her scarf.

The Quebec Soccer Federation backed the decision by stressing it had been made in accordance with rules that forbid wearing anything that could cause harm during a game.

The flap became international when the issue of the hijab was raised at an International Football Association board meeting and Egypt later accused Canada of intolerance.

In January, the small rural town of Herouxville in central Quebec drew international attention when it adopted a declaration of "norms" that advise immigrants how to fit in, including a ban on face coverings other than on the Halloween holiday.
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Muslim face veil banned in Quebec vote
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Fri March 23, 2007
MONTREAL - Muslim women will have to remove their face coverings if they want to vote in Monday's elections in Quebec, a government official said Friday, reversing his earlier decision to allow the veils.
Marcel Blanchet, the French-speaking province's election chief, had been criticized by Quebec's three main political leaders for allowing voters to wear the niqab, which covers the entire face except for the eyes, if they signed a sworn statement and showed identification when they vote.

But Blanchet reversed his earlier decision Friday, saying it was necessary to avoid disruptions when residents go to the polls.

"Relevant articles to electoral laws were modified to add the following: any person showing up at a polling station must be uncovered to exercise the right to vote," he said.

Blanchet had to get two bodyguards after the Quebec elections office received threatening phone calls and e-mails following his initial decision to allow niqabs. He said Friday some residents had threatened to protest by showing up to vote wearing masks.

The reversal was condemned by Muslims groups who said it could turn their members away from the polls. "I am so saddened, I doubt many of these women will show up at the polls on Monday after all this mockery," said Sarah Elgazzar of the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Many European countries are also grappling with the issue of Muslim veils.

In Britain, former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw caused a stir last year when he said he wanted Muslim women to abandon the full-face veil, while a Muslim teaching assistant in northern England was suspended from her job for refusing to remove one.

France passed a law in 2004 banning Islamic head scarves in schools, and the Netherlands has announced plans for one banning full-length veils in public places. Germany also has a law banning teachers in public schools from wearing head scarves.

Last week in Quebec, a young Muslim woman was forced to quit her job at a prison after she refused to remove her headscarf. The public security department supported the decision, citing security concerns, but Muslim groups pointed out that the Canadian Armed Forces allow women to wear headscarves on active duty.

Last month, an 11-year-old Muslim girl from Ontario participating in a soccer tournament in Quebec was pulled from the field after she refused the referee's request to remove her headscarf.
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Global warming melts the Arctic triggering race for riches
The Associated Press
Fri March 23, 2007

HAMMERFEST, Norway (AP) _ Barren and uninhabited, Hans Island is very hard to find on a map.
Yet these days the Frisbee-shaped rock in the Arctic is much in demand _ so much so that Canada and Denmark have both staked their claim to it with flags and warships.

The reason: an international race for oil, fish, diamonds and shipping routes, accelerated by the impact of global warming on Earth's frozen north.

The latest report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says the ice cap is warming faster than the rest of the planet and ice is receding, partly due to greenhouse gases. It's a catastrophic scenario for the Arctic ecosystem, for polar bears and other wildlife, and for Inuit populations whose ancient cultures depend on frozen waters.

But some see a lucrative silver lining of riches waiting to be snatched from the deep, and the prospect of timesaving sea lanes that could transform the shipping industry the way the Suez Canal did in the 19th century.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates the Arctic has as much as 25 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and gas. Moscow reportedly sees the potential of minerals in its slice of the Arctic sector approaching US$2 trillion (euro1.5 trillion).

All this has pushed governments and businesses into a scramble for sovereignty over these suddenly priceless seas.

Regardless of climate change, oil and gas exploration in the Arctic is moving full speed ahead. State-controlled Norwegian oil company Statoil ASA plans to start tapping gas from its offshore Snoehvit field in December, the first in the Barents Sea. It uses advanced equipment on the ocean floor, remote-controlled from the Norwegian oil boom town of Hammerfest through a 90-mile (145-kilometer) undersea cable.

Alan Murray, an analyst with the energy consultants Wood Mackenzie, said most petroleum companies are now focusing research and exploration on the far north. Russia is developing the vast Shkotman natural gas field off its Arctic coast, and Norwegians hope their advanced technology will find a place there.

``Oil will bring a big geopolitical focus. It is a driving force in the Arctic,'' said Arvid Jensen, a consultant in Hammerfest who advises companies that hope to hitch their economic wagons to the northern rush.

It could open the North Pole region to easy navigation for five months a year, according to the latest Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, an intergovernmental group. That could cut sailing time from Germany to Alaska by 60 percent, going through Russia's Arctic instead of the Panama Canal.

Or the Northwest Passage could open through the channels of Canada's Arctic islands and shorten the voyage from Europe to the Far East. And that's where Hans Island, at the entrance to the Northwest Passage, starts to matter.

The half-square-mile (1.3-square-kilometer) rock, just one-seventh the size of New York's Central Park, is wedged between Canada's Ellesmere Island and Danish-ruled Greenland, and for more than 20 years has been a subject of unusually bitter exchanges between the two NATO allies.

In 1984, Denmark's minister for Greenland affairs, Tom Hoeyem, caused a stir when he flew in on a chartered helicopter, raised a Danish flag on the island, buried a bottle of brandy at the base of the flagpole and left a note saying: ``Welcome to the Danish island.''

The dispute erupted again two years ago when Canadian Defense Minister Bill Graham set foot on the rock while Canadian troops hoisted the Maple Leaf flag.

Denmark sent a letter of protest to Ottawa, while Canadians and Danes took out competing Google ads, each proclaiming sovereignty over the rock 680 miles (1,100 kilometers) south of the North Pole.

Some Canadians even called for a boycott of Danish pastries.

Although both countries have repeatedly sent warships to the island to make their presence felt, there's no risk of a shooting war _ both sides are resolved to settle the problem peacefully. But the prospect of a warmer planet opening up the icy waters has helped push the issue up the agenda.

``We all realize that because of global warming it will suddenly be an area that will become more accessible,'' said Peter Taksoe-Jensen, head of the Danish Foreign Ministry's legal department.

Shortcuts through Arctic waters are no longer the stuff of science fiction.

In August 2005, the Akademik Fyodorov of Russia was the first ship to reach the North Pole without icebreaker help. The Norwegian shipyard Aker Yards is building innovative vessels that sail forward in clear waters, and then turn around to plow with their sterns through heavier ice.

Global warming is also bringing an unexpected bonus to American transportation company OmniTrax Inc., which a decade ago bought the small underutilized Northwest Passage port of Churchill, Manitoba, for a token fee of 10 Canadian dollars (about US$8;euro6).

The company, which is private, won't say how much money it is making in Churchill, but it was estimated to have moved more than 500,000 tons of grain through the port in 2007.

Managing director Michael Ogborn said climate change was not something the company thought about in 1997.

``But over the last 10 years we saw a lengthening of the season, which appears to be related to global warming,'' Ogborn said. ``We see the trend continuing.''

Just a few years ago, reports said it would take 100 years for the ice to melt, but recent studies say it could happen in 10-15 years, and the United States, Canada, Russia, Denmark and Norway have been rushing to stake their claims in the Arctic.

Norway and Russia have issues in the Barents Sea; the U.S. and Russia in Beaufort Sea; the U.S. and Canada over rights to the Northwest Passage; and even Alaska and Canada's Yukon province over their offshore boundary.

Canada, Russia and Denmark are seeking to claim waters all the way up to the North Pole, saying the seabed is part of their continental shelf under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Norway wants to extend its claims on the same basis, although not all the way to the pole.

Canada says the Northwest Passage is its territory, a claim the United States hotly disputes, insisting the waters are neutral. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has pledged to put military icebreakers in the frigid waters ``to assert our sovereignty and take action to protect our territorial integrity.''

Politics aside, there are environmental concerns. Apart from the risk of oil spills, more vessels could carry alien organisms into the Northwest Passage, posing a risk to indigenous life forms.

The Arctic melt has also been intensifying competition over dwindling fishing stocks.

Fish stocks essential to some regions appear to be moving to colder waters, and thus into another country's fishing grounds. Russian and Norwegian fishermen already report catching salmon much farther north than is normal.

``It is potentially very dramatic for fish stocks. They could move toward the North Pole, which would make sovereignty very unclear,'' said Dag Vongraven, an environmental expert at the Norwegian Polar Institute.

Russia contests Norway's claims to fish-rich waters around the Arctic Svalbard Islands, and has even sent warships there to underscore its discontent with the Norwegian Coast Guard boarding Russian trawlers there.

``Even though they say it is about fish, it is really about oil,'' said Jensen, the consultant in Hammerfest.

In 2004, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the sovereignty issue ``a serious, competitive battle'' that ``will unfold more and more fiercely.''

With all the squabbling over ownership, Tristan Pearce, a research associate at the University of Guelph's Global Environmental Change Group in Canada, reminded Arctic nations of who got there first: indigenous peoples like the Inuits and the Sami.

``Everybody is talking about the potential for minerals, diamonds, oil and gas, but we mustn't forget that people live there, all the way across the Arctic,'' he said. ``They've always been there and they have a major role to play.''

___

Associated Press reporters Beth Duff-Brown in Toronto, Phil Couvrette in Montreal, Mike Eckel in Moscow, Dan Joling in Anchorage, Alaska, and Karl Ritter in Stockholm, Sweden, contributed to this report.
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Separatists in three-way vote to defeat federalist liberals
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Sun March 25, 2007

MONTREAL  _ Quebecers decide the fate of Premier Jean Charest's Liberal government Monday in an extremely close three-way election that experts say could usher in a minority government, staving off another referendum in the French-speaking province on separation from Canada.

Charest and his federalist Liberal party face tough challenges from Andre Boisclair of the separatist Parti Quebecois and Mario Dumont's conservative-oriented Action Democratique with polls showing the three parties in a dead heat and many voters still undecided.

More than 5.6 million voters are registered for the election to fill the 125 seats in the National Assembly, the provincial legislature.

A win by the separatists, who were removed from power in the previous election and vow to hold a vote on independence if elected, would be a blow to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who supported a motion recognizing the French-speaking people of Quebec as a nation within Canada last fall and whose recent budget was viewed as being particularly generous to Quebec.

While separation has not been a major issue in the campaign, it is never far from the surface as support for independence usually hovers around 45 percent and Boisclair wants to hold a referendum as soon as possible if elected.

But the idea of holding another referendum soon is unpopular and Boisclair's personal popularity lags behind that of Charest and Dumont, 36, whose party would seek to trim government and obtain more autonomy for Quebec within a united Canada.

Dumont made his mark in the campaign early for speaking out against some accommodations for religious and cultural minorities living in predominantly Catholic Quebec.

The issue took center stage on Friday when an electoral official ruled that Muslim women will have to remove their face coverings if they want to vote in Monday's election, reversing his earlier decision to allow the veils.

Dumont's rise as a contender, after his party finished a distant third in the 2003 elections, has upset the usual duality of the political landscape that made the issue of Quebec sovereignty so predominant since the 1970s.

A minority government would need the support of other parties to pass legislation because they would lack a majority in the National Assembly. Quebec has not seen such a government since 1878.

"As far as we can remember we had a party system that was bipolar with two dominant parties that were trading majorities after two terms," says University of Montreal political scientist Pierre Martin. "This time not only do we see a sitting party on the verge of losing an election after just one term, but we also have a three-party situation. It's a brand new situation."

A minority Parti Quebecois government would have to drop its main objective of holding a new referendum because it would require a majority vote in the National Assembly that the other parties would reject, Martin says.

The Parti Quebecois held referendums on separation in 1980 and 1995, losing the second by a razor-thin margin.

Charest, 48, says the PQ's independence ambitions leave it out of tune with average Quebecers.

"It's a whole series of questions, quarrels, that are not the priority of Quebecers," he said.

But to Charest's dismay Quebecers are particularly dissatisfied with his record for failing to keep promises of major tax cuts in the most heavily taxed province in the country.

"The Liberal government of Jean Charest was not very popular so people are looking for a protest vote," said Antonia Maioni of McGill's Institute for the Study of Canada.

Charest wants Quebecers to stop being among the most taxed citizens in North America, but his last-minute announcement of $700 million Canadian (US$603 million) in new tax cuts was criticized by Boisclair, who said that Quebecers would see through past broken promises and what he considered an attempt to buy their vote. He also accused Charest of being too cozy with Ottawa, something of a liability in Quebec.

When the election was called on Feb. 21, Charest seemed to enjoy a comfortable lead in the polls but it has gradually eroded after weeks of lackluster campaigning. Still two major dailies, Montreal's La Presse and Gazette, backed the incumbent.

The Liberals can traditionally count on strong support among English-speakers and immigrant communities. But this solid base of support comprises about 20 percent of the electorate, so Charest will also need the help of French-speakers, who make up 80 percent of the voters.
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Rwandan is first to stand trial in Canada under War Crimes Act
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Mon March 26, 2007
MONTREAL: A survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide told a hushed courtroom Monday how she repeatedly cheated death in a desperate attempt to escape Hutu militias, as the trial began for the first person charged under Canada's War Crimes Act.

Desire Munyaneza, 40, faces two counts of genocide, two counts of crimes against humanity and three charges of war crimes under the seven-year-old act that allows Ottawa to try suspects within its borders for crimes that occured abroad.

He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Munyaneza is accused of leading attacks on Tutsis at the National University of Rwanda and south of the capital, Kigali, during the 1994 genocide, in which more than half a million members of the Tutsi ethnic minority and politically moderate Hutus were slain.

Prosecutor Pascale Ledoux told an overflowing Quebec Superior Court that Munyaneza had "the intention of destroying the Tutsi population in the context of an armed conflict."

Canada denied Munyaneza, a Hutu, refugee status in September 2000 and he lost several appeals. An Immigration and Refugee Board panel also found there were reasons to believe he had participated in crimes against humanity.

African Rights, a Rwandan group that has documented the genocide, linked Munyaneza to key figures indicted by the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal.

Munyaneza was living in Toronto before he was arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in October 2005 after reports of his sightings started circulating among Canada's Rwandan community.

Some 12 Rwandan witnesses are expected to testify against Munyaneza in the coming months.

Their names have been kept secret, and the first woman to testify Monday sat behind a screen.

Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian general who headed the multinational U.N. peacekeeping force during the genocide, is also expected to testify.

Witness C-15 - a Tutsi woman born in 1977 who was going to school in Butare in 1994 - said she was one of two people to survive the slaughter of some 3,000 people at the school, having been left for dead on a pile of bodies after she was knocked out.

In the following days, she sought refuge in a hospital. Beatings and killings continued inside the hospital, assisted by doctors, she said, forcing her to flee again.

The witness said she was spared at one of the road blocks after telling militia members that while her mother was Tutsi, her father was a Hutu, but then watched a Tutsi slain on the spot.

"These people did a lot of bad things," she said through a translator in a Rwandan dialect.

She said "Desire" manned one of the road blocks and badly beat Tutsi refugees with a club before loading them on trucks. She did not, however, list him among the local leaders of the Hutu militia whom she recognized.

Munyaneza, wearing a gray suit with a blue shirt, listened attentively and took notes.

"It is very important for the truth to come out; anything that can accomplish that and render justice to the victims is," said Jean-Paul Nyilinkwaya, a spokesman for the Page-Rwanda Association, which supports survivors of the genocide.

Though Munyaneza is the first to be prosecuted under the war crimes act, there are more than 70 active cases under investigation, according to the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration.
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Quebec faces new political landscape
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Mon March 26, 2007

MONTREAL (AP) - Quebec politics were thrown into turmoil Monday when Prime Minister Jean Charest's Liberals were only able to eke out a slight lead in elections, giving the French-speaking province its first minority government in nearly 130 years.

The conservative Action Democratique surged into a surprising second place and official opposition party status, while the separatist Parti Quebecois lost seats and calmed fears by opponents that a renewed independence movement was gaining ground.

The three-way race and the toss-up for second place left more than 5.6 million registered voters facing an uncertain political landscape.

Charest's Liberals won or led in just more than one-third of Quebec's 125 seats in the National Assembly, the provincial parliament, a handful more than Action Democratique and the third-place Quebec separatist Parti Quebecois.

The massive rise of Mario Dumont's Action Democratique was the story of the night. His rise as a contender, after his party finished a distant third in the 2003 elections, has upset the usual duality of the political landscape that made the issue of Quebec sovereignty so predominant since the 1970s.

Charest was the first prime minister to fail to win a second majority mandate in 40 years.

"Sure there's a little disappointment, but it's still a nice victory," retiree Andree Filiatrault said at Liberal Party headquarters in downtown Montreal.

"We thought it was going to be easier, but we'll take it; we still won," said another Liberal Party member, Martin Liu.

When asked how Quebecers would deal with their first minority government in more than a century, he said: "We'll have to negotiate. The people here have never seen a minority government."

The result also left the Parti Quebecois and the provincial sovereignty movement with major questions. Under Andre Boisclair, the party fell to the lowest level of popular support in decades and the smallest number of seats since 1989.

While separation has not been a major issue in the campaign, it is never far from the surface as support for independence usually hovers around 45%, and Boisclair had said he intended to hold a referendum as soon as possible if elected.

But the idea of holding another referendum soon is unpopular, and the 40-year-old Boisclair's personal popularity lags behind that of Charest, 48, and 36-year-old Dumont, whose party sought to trim government and obtain more autonomy for Quebec within a united Canada.

Dumont made his mark in the campaign early for speaking out against some accommodations for religious and cultural minorities living in predominantly Catholic Quebec.

The issue took center stage on Friday when an electoral official ruled that Muslim women will have to remove their face coverings if they want to vote in Monday's election, reversing his earlier decision to allow the veils.

"It's about a need for change; the Liberals have made too many unkept promises and I like what Dumont is saying about the need to reduce the size of government," Gerome Beaulieu, a 27-year-old school teacher, said just after voting for Action Democratique. "It's a bit of a protest vote."

The new minority Liberal government will now need the support of other parties to pass legislation because they would lack a majority in the National Assembly. Quebec has not seen such a government since 1878.

"As far as we can remember we had a party system that was bipolar with two dominant parties that were trading majorities after two terms," says University of Montreal political scientist Pierre Martin. "This time not only do we see a sitting party on the verge of losing an election after just one term, but we also have a three-party situation. It's a brand new situation."

The minority Parti Quebecois government will now have to drop its main objective of holding a new referendum as that would have required a majority vote in the National Assembly.

The Parti Quebecois held referendums on separation in 1980 and 1995, losing the second by a razor-thin margin.

But to Charest's dismay, Quebecers are particularly dissatisfied with his record for failing to keep promises of major tax cuts in the most heavily taxed province in the country.

"The Liberal government of Jean Charest was not very popular, so people are looking for a protest vote," said Antonia Maioni of McGill's Institute for the Study of Canada.

Charest wants Quebecers to stop being among the most taxed citizens in North America, but his last-minute announcement of $700 million Canadian (US $603 million) in new tax cuts was criticized by Boisclair, who said Quebecers would see through past broken promises and what he considered an attempt to buy their vote. He also accused Charest of being too cozy with Ottawa, something of a liability in Quebec.
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Girls won't remove hijab at sports event
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Sun April 15, 2007

MONTREAL - First soccer, then Tae Kwon Do. A team of mainly Muslim girls had to pull out of a Tae Kwon Do tournament Sunday because members refused to remove their hijabs.

Tournament organizers told team officials the girls could not compete because the head scarves posed a safety risk. It is the second ban of hijabs in Quebec sports in recent months, part of a larger debate in the province about accommodations for cultural and religious minorities.

International referee Stephane Menard said the decision was made at a referees' meeting earlier in the day.

"The equipment that is allowed under the world Tae Kwon Do federation rules doesn't include the hijab," Menard said Sunday. "We applied the rules to the letter."

In February, an 11-year-old Muslim girl from Ontario participating in a soccer tournament in Quebec was pulled from the field after she refused the referee's request to remove her head scarf. The move was supported by soccer associations, citing security concerns.

The Tae Kwon Do team, made up of girls between eight and 12 years old, is affiliated with a Muslim community center in Montreal. Five of the team's six players wear a hijab but have been allowed to participate in similar tournaments around Quebec.

The Muslim center's boys club pulled out of the tournament in an act of solidarity.

"I'm very upset," said Bissan Mansour, one of the players. "We made so many efforts and practiced harder than usual to be here."

Team coach Mahdi Sbeiti said he does not understand why his team is being barred now, especially since many of the referees were familiar.

"On the international scene, many teams from Muslim countries wear the hijab and have never had such a problem," Sbeiti said. "I don't see why it should be a problem here and now."

Sbeiti says his team has often been cited as an example of cultural integration but suspects the political atmosphere played a role in the decision.

Quebec has been embroiled in a debate about accommodations for cultural and religious minorities.

Ahead of provincial elections last month, government officials ruled that Muslim women had to remove their face coverings if they wanted to vote, to allow for proper identification.

The Canadian Council of American-Islamic Relations said Sunday's decision will not encourage Muslim women to participate in sports.

"With Azzy Mansour being kicked off a Quebec soccer field for wearing the hijab, and five girls today being ejected from the Longueuil tae kwan do tournament, it seems that Muslim women now have to make a choice between their faith and sport," said Sarah Elgazzar, CAIR-CAN spokeswoman.
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Trial of accused Rwandan criminal delayed as he recovers
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Mon April 16, 2007

MONTREAL - A Rwandan man standing trial for war crimes for his alleged role in that country's 1994 genocide remains under medical watch and will be kept in isolation after having been beaten in his Canadian jail cell, a court heard Monday.

Desire Munyaneza's trial was further postponed until Wednesday, one week after he was severely beaten by an inmate and taken to a hospital bleeding from his eyes and with head wounds.

Munyaneza, 40, is the first person charged under Canada's War Crimes Act, which permits the trial of suspects for crimes that occurred abroad. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

During a court session that judge Andre Denis said was a break from the actual trial, the director of the detention center, Yves Ste-Marie, said he regretted the beating incident and that "extraordinary" measures were being used to protect Munyaneza, such as isolating him at all times in his cell block and during transportation to the courthouse.

Munyaneza is accused of leading attacks on members of the Tutsi ethnic minority at the National University of Rwanda and south of the capital, Kigali. More than a half million Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were killed during the genocide.

The proceedings were first halted last Thursday so Munyaneza could recover from his injuries.

His latest checkup, completed this morning, reported him as being fit enough to stand trial, but his lawyers said Munyaneza could not see from one eye and had trouble concentrating.

His lawyers, who have called the beating an embarrassment to Canada's justice system, said Munyaneza and his 17-year-old attacker are mutually pressing charges against each other over the incident.
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Montreal police learned from previous school shootings
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Mon April 16, 2007

MONTREAL - When a lone gunman entered Dawson college in Montreal and began shooting last September, police counted on new procedures and a bit of luck to neutralize the assailant quickly.

Kimveer Gill, 25, opened fire at the downtown Montreal college last September, slaying a young woman and wounding 19 other people before he turned the gun on himself as police cornered him.

As luck would have it police officers on the scene for an unrelated matter were rapid first responders able to spot the suspect. But in a city which had seen two college shootings in the 17 previous years, police had also gained experience from the previous incidents to keep the situation from getting out of control.

Montreal Police Chief Yvan Delorme said last September that precious lessons learned from other mass shootings had taught police to try to stop such assaults as quickly as possible.

"Before our technique was to establish a perimeter around the place and wait for the SWAT team. Now the first police officers go right inside. The way they acted saved lives," he said.

Montreal police refused to comment Monday about the tragic shooting at Virginia Tech, but as Americans try to make sense of the deadliest campus massacre in U.S. history which left at least 33 dead, including the gunman, questions have begun to emerge about the time allowed to elapse before authorities contained the shooting.

In Canada the lessons were painfully learned from the Dec. 6, 1989 college shooting at Montreal's École Polytechnique, Canada's bloodiest, during which Marc Lépine entered a classroom at the engineering school, separated the men from the women, told the men to leave and opened fire, killing 14 women before killing himself.

While shots rang out at École Polytechnique emergency personnel "had a perimeter outside and they waited. No one went inside," Delorme recalled last September.

Another shooting in Montreal occurred in 1992, when a Concordia University professor killed four colleagues.

By last September Montreal officers had changed their modus operandi and rushed into the building only a few minutes after the gunman.

"This time it was very efficient, very proactive," Delorme then said.

Aaron Cohen, a SWAT trainer based in California, said time is of the essence during such circumstances, as the quick intervention in Montreal eventually showed, avoiding a similar bloodbath.

"While they wait another innocent person is dead. There's just no time to sit around," Cohen told Canada's CBC TV. "It has to be fast.

On Monday a gunman opened fire in a Virginia Tech dorm and then, two hours later, shot up a classroom building across campus, killing 32 people in the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history. The gunman committed suicide, bringing the death toll to 33.

Virginia Tech President Charles Steger said authorities believed that the shooting at the dorm was a domestic dispute and mistakenly thought the gunman had fled the campus.



 

Emergency law considered in Quebec student protest
THURSDAY, MAY 17, 2012 11:15 PM EDT

BY PHIL COUVRETTE
MONTREAL (AP) — Facing the most sustained student protests in Canadian history, Quebec’s provincial government introduced emergency legislation Thursday that would shut some universities and impose harsh fines on pickets blocking students from attending classes as the government looked to end three months of demonstrations against university tuition hikes.  Hundreds of protesters gathered in downtown Montreal on Thursday night as the government introduced the bill. The protest spilled into an expressway between stalled cars. Police told them to clear the way or be arrested. Tuesday will mark 100 days since the demonstrations began.  Wearing the familiar red color of the protest, demonstrators — some wearing masks — blew horns and called the provincial premier’s name mockingly. They were closely watched by nearby patrol cars and police followed on foot in full riot gear.  Authorities said 122 were arrested late Wednesday as thousands of demonstrators spilled into the streets of Montreal, with some smashing bank windows and hurling objects at police.  Quebec Premier Jean Charest said the proposed legislation would not roll back the tuition hikes. Rather, it would temporarily halt the spring semester at faculties paralyzed by walkouts and push up the summer holidays. Classes would resume earlier in August.  The legislation contains provisions for heavy fines for students and their federations. Fines range from $7,000 to $35,000 for a student leader and between $25,000 and $125,000 for unions or student federations if someone is prevented from entering an educational institution. The bill also lays out strict regulations governing student protests, including giving eight hours notice for protest itineraries.  The Quebec national assembly is being convened Thursday evening for a debate expected to last through the night with a vote expected on Friday.  Student reaction to the bill was damning.  “This legislation strikes a blow to the freedom of expression,” said Leo Bureau-Blouin, considered one of the more moderate student leaders.  Dozens of protesters on Wednesday stormed into a Montreal university, breaking up classes. Tensions continued Thursday in Gatineau, Quebec, the site of previous protests against the hike that resulted in hundreds of arrests, where three junior colleges were evacuated after a bomb threat. Courses resumed later in the day.  The government has pointed out that a majority of students in Quebec have quietly finished their semester and aren’t striking.  But many remain angry over the proposed tuition hikes.  The three-month conflict has caused considerable social upheaval in the French speaking province known for having more contentious protests than elsewhere in Canada.  There have been numerous injuries, countless traffic jams, a few smashed windows, subway evacuations, clashes with law enforcement and disruptions to the academic calendar.  The protests have at times mushroomed beyond the cause of cheap tuition, attracting a wide swath of other participants who dislike the provincial Liberal government or represent a variety of disparate causes ranging from environmentalism, to Quebec independence and anarchy.  Charest said he would table emergency legislation aimed at ending the disorder, while sticking to the planned tuition hikes.  Charest’s re-election prospects have been placed further in doubt, raising the prospect that the pro-independence Parti Quebecois could gain power in an election expected later this year or next. Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois opposes any legislated crackdown on the protests and has been wearing the red square of the protest movement.  Marie Desjardins, President of the Quebec Federation of the University of Students, called on Charest to sit down personally with students and negotiate.  Biomedical student Sebastien Potvin, 30, wearing a red cowboy hat and holding a red banner, the color of the protest, said from a Montreal street corner that he fears the new law will only bring more violence.  “I don’t think it will solve the problem, I think it will anger students twice as much,” Potvin said.  He said the coming tuition hikes could jeopardize his remaining studies.  Under the latest version of its tuition plan, the government would increase fees by $254 per year over seven years.  Quebec has the lowest tuition rates in Canada. The provincial government bought ads in Thursday’s newspapers explaining how it has already made several adjustments to its tuition plans to soften the impact on the poorest students.  The dispute has claimed the province’s education minister, who announced her resignation from politics earlier this week  Antonia Maioni, a political science professor at Montreal’s McGill University, said while there were large student protests in the mid-1990s in Quebec over fee hikes, and then again in 2005, the current Quebec protests are notable for their longevity and the number of arrests.  “I don’t think student protests have ever lasted for months like this before,” she said.  Those in favor of the tuition increases say they will improve the quality of universities, devolve more personal responsibility to students and ease the burden on taxpayers.  Opponents argue higher fees will undercut universal access to education.  In addition the city of Montreal will be looking into a bylaw that would regulate wearing masks during protests when council convenes on Friday. Officials say people wearing masks have been causing the most problems. A similar measure was being considered in Quebec City, where fewer protests have taken place. Rights groups have protested this limits their democratic right to demonstrate.  With some degenerating into violence the U.S. consulate in Montreal issued an alert last month warning visitors and U.S. expats to be wary of demonstrations and exercise caution. 
____  Associated Press Writers Sean Farrell, Rob Gillies and Charmaine Noronha contributed to this report.

Quebec passes law in effort to end daily protests

By PHIL COUVRETTE, Associated Press – May 18, 2012  
MONTREAL (AP) — Quebec's provincial government passed an emergency law Friday restricting demonstrations and shutting some universities as the government seeks to end three months of protests against tuition hikes. Outraged students reacted by calling it an act of war. Among the controversial provisions of the law, which passed 68-48, is a requirement that police be informed eight hours before a protest and told the route of any demonstration that includes 50 or more people. Critics called that an affront to civil rights. Hours after the vote thousands of protesters marched in downtown Montreal to condemn the legislation, which students and supporters say limits their ability to demonstrate their disapproval of the fee hikes. "They pulled the plug instead of trying to develop something constructive through talks, " said participant Felix Siry, 22. "I think this will just make things worse." Police officers in riot gear, and others on horseback watched as the loud and energetic crowd made its way downtown, chanting "No special law will break us!" A number of molotov cocktails were tossed causing police to declare the demonstration illegal. Police used pepper spray and one man was arrested after the crowd got too close to cops. Some people threw objects at a small group of helmeted cops were forced to retreat. The angry crowd followed the retreating cops who then charged back firing tear gas. The crowd was much larger than the hundreds who gathered Thursday night as the government introduced the bill to quell the most sustained student protests in Canadian history. On Wednesday, protesters smashed windows and more than 120 people were arrested. Both police and protesters were injured.   Earlier Friday, the city of Montreal passed an ordinance restricting protesters from wearing masks during demonstrations, levying fines between $500 and $3,000. The city also said demonstrators will have to provide details of their itineraries beforehand.   Officials have said they believe protesters wearing masks have been causing the most trouble. A similar bylaw was under consideration in Quebec City. "Our cities can no longer become targets," Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay said. "It's time to reclaim our streets, our neighborhoods, our cities."  Rights groups also have protested that bylaw, calling it a restriction on their democratic right to demonstrate. Quebec Premier Jean Charest said the provincial legislation would not roll back the tuition hikes of $254 per year over seven years. Rather, it would temporarily halt the spring semester at schools paralyzed by walkouts and push up the summer holidays. Classes would resume earlier in August. The law imposes harsh fines on protesters who block students from attending classes.  Proposed fines range from $1,000 to $5,000 for a student, $7,000 to $35,000 for a student leader and between $25,000 and $125,000 for unions or student federations if someone is prevented from entering an educational institution. The Quebec Bar Association said it had serious concerns about the law and said the scale of the restraints on fundamental freedom wasn't justified. Opposition Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois called Friday "one of the darkest days of Quebec democracy," and said Charest should hold elections because of the unpopularity of the law. Martine Desjardins, one student leader, blamed the government for "letting the conflict deteriorate" and said it was seeking to "drown the conflict in the tribunals." Student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois called the law the "murder of the right to demonstrate."   He said his group would challenge the law before the courts and called on protesters to take part in a march in great numbers next Tuesday, which will mark the 100th day of protests. But embattled Education Minister Michelle Courchesne said before the vote that despite the legislation, talks would go on and an agreement could still be reached with the students. "Even if there is a special legislation tonight, tomorrow, there can still be an agreement after the law," she said. She stressed that the law doesn't prevent students from protesting, and said she remained open to a dialogue with students. Some of the loudest cheers early on Friday were reserved for one man who stood on a garbage can and burned what looked like a copy of the government bill. The conflict has caused considerable social upheaval in the French-speaking province known for having more contentious protests than elsewhere in Canada — and the country's the lowest tuition rates. The U.S. consulate in Montreal last month warned visitors and U.S. expatriates to be wary of demonstrations.

Quebec protests gain high profile support

May 20, 2012  
MONTREAL (AP) — Quebec's student protest movement gained some high-profile supporters in the fight against tuition fee increases over the weekend as anger mounted and demonstrations continued against a new law aimed at curbing the three months of demonstrations. Montreal police arrested more than 180 people on Sunday night. Quebec's provincial government passed an emergency law Friday restricting protests, including a requirement that police be informed eight hours before and told the route of any demonstration that includes 50 or more people. Demonstrations were held again Sunday, including a rowdy evening march, for the 27th night in a row. The new law has only served to fuel the student movement. The nightly demonstration was quickly declared illegal by police after it started at around 8:30 p.m. after objects were thrown at police, said Sgt. Ian Lafreniere early Monday. A first group of protesters was cornered and 110 people were arrested. As the demonstration continued, more arrests were made after demonstrators climbed on police and civilian vehicles, causing damage, he said. The previous night's protest also ended with dozens of arrests as police clashed with protesters. Student groups have panned the law and said they would challenge it in court and continue demonstrations. A major demonstration is scheduled Tuesday to mark the 100th day of protest. Montreal police said more than 200 demonstrations have taken place since the student movement began in February. More than 300 arrests have been made in the last week. The movement also gained celebrity support. Montreal indie rockers Arcade Fire wore the movement's iconic red squares during an appearance with Mick Jagger on Saturday Night Live. Twitter erupted with questions about the meaning of the fashion statement, while student backers praised the move. Activist and filmmaker Michael Moore also gave his support to the students, featuring links about the issue on his website. The conflict has caused considerable social upheaval in the French-speaking province known for having more contentious protests than elsewhere in Canada. Quebec Premier Jean Charest has refused to roll back the tuition hikes of $254 per year over seven years. Quebec has the lowest tuition rates in Canada, but even after such an 80 percent increase, it would remain among the lowest in the country. While the new legislation aimed at stopping the protests is unpopular among students and rights groups, a poll published the day after legislation was passed showed two-thirds of Quebecers supported it. The U.S. consulate in Montreal last month warned visitors and U.S. expatriates to be wary of demonstrations.

Quebec students mark 100 days of tuition protests

By PHIL COUVRETTE, Associated Press – May 22, 2012  
MONTREAL (AP) — Tens of thousands of students marched through the streets of Montreal on Tuesday to mark 100 days since the movement against higher tuition fees began. The protest comes after Quebec's provincial government passed emergency legislation to end Canada's most sustained student demonstrations ever.  Protesters carrying red banners and signs, the color of the demonstrations, walked in unison chanting "Our streets!" The protest during the day was peaceful, but at a smaller demonstration at night some protesters threw fireworks and beer bottles at police. Riot police responded with pepper spray and arrested at least one protester. Police declared the night protest illegal after no one provided an itinerary.  Since the law was passed Friday, nightly protests have often turned violent, resulting in some 300 arrests Sunday alone. The new law requires that a detailed agenda be provided for protests of more than 50 people.  Student groups have vowed to challenge the legislation in court. Rights groups say the new law limits protesters' ability to express themselves democratically.   On the eve of Tuesday's protest, the most militant of three major student groups said it would defy the new law and call for protests and strikes to continue throughout the summer, a busy period of outdoor festivals in Montreal which draws in millions of dollars in tourist revenue.  "Thousands of people have come to demonstrate with us, not only against the rise in tuition rates but with the intention to signal their disapproval of the special law," student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois said. "The gesture made by tens of thousands is one of massive and collective civil disobedience."  At a news conference, Quebec Public Safety Minister Robert Dutil read from a list of cities with equally tough rules for organizing protests.  Dutil listed Geneva, Toronto, New York, Los Angeles and Spain as jurisdictions that require far more than eight hours' notice — up to 40 days, in the case of Los Angeles — in order to hold a protest.  "Other societies with rights and freedoms to protect have found it reasonable to impose certain constraints, first of all to protect protesters, and also to protect police," Dutil said.  There were small demonstrations in support of the Quebec students in New York and Paris on Tuesday.  Since the protests started in February, unions, separatists and anarchists have joined the movement, as well as some celebrities.  Montreal indie rockers Arcade Fire wore the movement's iconic red squares during an appearance with Mick Jagger on the TV show "Saturday Night Live." Activist and filmmaker Michael Moore also gave his support to the students, sending tweets in French and English.    Quebec Premier Jean Charest has refused to roll back the tuition hikes of C$254 (US$249) per year over seven years. Quebec has the lowest tuition rates in Canada, and they would remain among the country's lowest after the increases.  The conflict has caused considerable social upheaval in the French-speaking province known for having more contentious protests than elsewhere in Canada.  Retiree Claude Gravel, 61, said she was against the law seeking to calm down tensions after 100 days of protests.  "I'm all for a few months of peace and quiet, but not at this price," she said.  She said the tuition hikes would make educating her college student son hard on the family's limited finances.

Quiet Revolution's old dreams fuel Quebec protests

PHIL COUVRETTE, Associated Press, ROB GILLIES, Associated Press
Updated 09:53 a.m., Saturday, May 26, 2012  
MONTREAL (AP) — Quebec's generous social services date back to sweeping reforms in the 1960s, a period of intense nationalism. Yet many Quebecers look back at the "Quiet Revolution" with regret over one unfulfilled promise: free higher education.  That sentiment is fueling Canada's most sustained student demonstrations ever. It has been anything but quiet.  Some 150,000 students in more than a dozen Quebec colleges and universities have been on strike since February to protest the provincial government's plan to raise tuition fees. Street protests in Montreal have ended in clashes with police and mass arrests.  A strict new law designed to stop the demonstrations has only broadened the movement to include separatists and Occupy protesters, and triggered a wider debate over public freedoms. The students are threatening to persevere through the summer, just when the city traditionally awakens from its dark and frigid winter for jazz and comedy festivals that draw in millions of dollars in tourist revenue.  The French-speaking province's average undergraduate tuition — $2,519 a year — is the lowest in Canada, and the proposed hike— $254 per year over seven years — is tiny by U.S. standards. But opponents consider the raise an affront to the philosophy of the 1960s reforms that set Quebec apart not only from its U.S. neighbor but from the rest of Canada.  "The whole consensus around education was built around the Quiet Revolution," said Pierre Martin, a political science professor at the Universite de Montreal. "That consensus would tend toward a tuition-free model in the future. That was a promise."  As a result, he said, Quebecers don't compare their tuition rates to those in the U.S. or English-speaking Canada, but to those in European countries where higher education is free.  Quebec Premier Jean Charest, who has vowed to shake up the debt-ridden province's finances since he was elected nearly a decade ago, has refused to cave.  More than 2,500 students have been arrested since the demonstrations began more than 100 days ago, including nearly 700 this past Wednesday alone. The total is five times the arrests during a period in the 1970s when soldiers were deployed to the streets in Quebec because of a spate of terrorism by a group demanding independence from Canada.  The tuition hike is part of a broader effort to shift Quebec's fiscal burden away from taxpayers — the province has some of the steepest personal income taxes in North America and the highest per-capita debt in Canada— and onto the shoulders of each person who uses a service.  "Every citizen has to do their part," Quebec Finance Minister Raymond Bachand told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "This is the 21st century."  Bachand said the students want more money in their pocket to the detriment of others. He noted that the government has expanded student grants so that middle and lower income students can more easily afford the increase.  "We're talking about 50 cents a day so basically it's moved from a question of tuition fees to a question of a social movement like you've seen in other parts of the world," Bachand said. "We're not used to this as Canadians. We're used to sitting down, disagreeing, negotiating and coming to an agreement."  In an effort to restore peace, Charest's government passed emergency legislation on May 18 restricting protests and closing striking campuses until August. The law requires that police be informed eight hours before a protest begins, including details on the route of any demonstration of 50 or more people. It also prohibits demonstrations within 50 meters (165 feet) of a college and declares that anyone who incites or helps another person break the new protest regulations can be fined.   The new law has "changed the discourse now and introduced a new element into the debate, and that is the question of rights," said Bruce Hicks, a political scientist at Concordia University. The students have challenged the law in court.  Provincial Public Safety Minister Robert Dutil said Quebec cities are simply joining others that already have tough rules for organizing protests, including Los Angeles and New York.  "Law 78" has inspired a particularly cacophonous form of protest: from 8 p.m. to 8:15 p.m., people around Quebec emerge onto sidewalks and balconies to bang pots and pans.  Anne Claude, a 23-year-old computer student banging pots with a friend one evening in the heart of Montreal's Latin Quarter, said the law has only increased her resolve to be heard.  "The new law limits our ability to demonstrate," Claude shouted over the noise.  Across the street, pizza parlor owner Naeem Ahmed shook his head when he recalled the sight of an open fire hydrant gushing water into his business and a bonfire lit dangerously close by.  Ahmed, 37, has had a front row seat to more than 30 straight nights of protests. Confrontations between helmeted police and students have scared customers away. Students sometimes seek shelter in his establishment to escape police sweeps.  "For businesses it has been really, really horrible," Ahmed said, taking a break with some of his employees to look at cellphone footage of a recent protest. One of his employees joined the pot-bangers, clanging two trash lids together.  "Police come and ask everybody to leave," he said.  Still, he sympathizes with the students. "If you go to any country, when the students hit the streets, you have to listen to them," he said. "When they come out you have to accept it."  The student groups and the government have announced their intention to return to negotiations in the next days, with Quebec Education Minister Michelle Courchesne saying she expects a "very, very important" session following positive discussions over the phone.  But the two sides seem far apart. Student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois wants to propose a long-term plan that would essentially fulfill the promise of the Quiet Revolution: scrapping university tuition fees altogether within five years and funding that by increasing taxes on financial institutions.  That is the opposite of what the government wants.  "Sacred cows only exist in India," the finance minister has repeatedly said. 

Quebec Students, Government Resume Negotiations

By PHIL COUVRETTE Associated Press
OTTAWA, Ontario May 28, 2012 (AP) Quebec college and university students and the provincial government returned to the bargaining table on Monday in an attempt to put an end to a months- long dispute over tuition hikes that has led to clashes with police and mass arrests.  Student leaders said Monday the tuition hike and an emergency law put in place to limit protests would have to be on the table. The two sides are meeting in Quebec City.  Students have called for a tuition freeze, but the government has ruled out that possibility.  The French-speaking province's average undergraduate tuition — $2,519 a year — is the lowest in Canada, and the proposed hike— $254 per year over seven years — is tiny by U.S. standards. But opponents consider the raise an affront to the philosophy of the 1960s reforms dubbed the Quiet Revolution that set Quebec apart not only from its U.S. neighbor but from the rest of Canada.   Analysts have said Quebecers don't compare their tuition rates to those in the U.S. or English-speaking Canada, but to those in European countries, where higher education is free.   More than 2,500 students have been arrested since the demonstrations began, including nearly 700 this past Wednesday, but arrests are down markedly since.   Student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois said his group wasn't going to rush a decision and would take the time to ponder any agreement. He said if the government refused to budge on the two issues, his group would reconsider participating in negotiations. "Since the beginning of the strike the organizations agree on the objective to cancel tuition hikes," he said. Student leaders Leo Bureau-Blouin and Martine Desjardins agreed tuition fees have to be on the table and said the ball was in the government's court.  Education Minister Michelle Courchesne said she was showing up at the meeting "open" to discussions but didn't know how long meetings would last.  Quebec Premier Jean Charest, who has vowed to shake up the debt-ridden province's finances since he was elected nearly a decade ago, has refused to cave in.   Charest's government passed emergency legislation on May 18 restricting protests and closing striking campuses until August.   The law requires that police be informed eight hours before a protest begins, including details on the route of any demonstration of 50 or more people. It also prohibits demonstrations within 50 meters (165 feet) of a college and declares that anyone who incites or helps another person break the new protest regulations can be fined.   Amnesty International says the law breaches Canada's international human rights obligations and called for it to be rescinded by Quebec's legislature.   The latest round of talks comes at a crucial time for the Quebec government, with thousands taking to the streets nightly in protest and Montreal's peak tourism season fast approaching, a period of international events such as the Grand Prix F-1 race and international jazz and comedy festivals that bring millions in revenue.  Event organizers have expressed concern about the impact the continuing protests could have on the festivals, which include nightly outdoor shows on stages surrounded by lucrative concession stands that draw thousands into the streets for weeks.  Students have been holding nightly protests, some of whom have ended in clashes with police. The latest manifestation of dissent has been protesters pouring to the streets banging pots late into the night, creating a cacophony of noise some fear could disrupt festival performances.

Quebec protesters, government close in on deal 

By PHIL COUVRETTE  The Associated Press 
12:06 a.m. Wednesday, May 30, 2012
QUEBEC CITY — Quebec student representatives and provincial government officials emerged from a second day of talks to end a bitter dispute over tuition hikes short of an agreement but confident talks were progressing to possibly end weeks of student protests.  Both sides agreed to meet again Wednesday. Student leaders said progress had been made and they would evaluate several proposals presented by both sides.  Students have called for a tuition freeze, but the government has ruled out that possibility. Students also object to an emergency law put in place to limit protests.  "We will take the night and probably tomorrow morning to evaluate the different scenarios and restart the negotiations during the day in the hope of presenting an offer to our members," Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, a co-spokesman for the more hardline CLASSE student protest group, told reporters.  Asked if a deal was imminent, Martine Desjardins, the head of one of the university student groups, said "it depends how many hours you consider to be imminent."  Student leaders said tuition hikes were on the table while the matter of the law was "broached" but left to be dealt with in greater detail in the future.  Any agreement would have to be put to the various student associations for approval. The government was hoping to avoid a repeat of previous talks that ended with an agreement in principle with the leaders that was later rejected by the associations.  The French-speaking province's average undergraduate tuition — $2,519 a year — is the lowest in Canada, and the proposed hike— $254 per year over seven years — is tiny by U.S. standards. Opponents consider the raise an affront — a manner of thinking that has its roots in the philosophy of the 1960s reforms in Quebec dubbed the Quiet Revolution.  The social movement set Quebec apart from the rest of Canada, and has the Quebecois comparing themselves to European countries where higher education is mostly free, rather than to the neighboring United States.  Protesters in Montreal and Quebec City were back in the streets again Tuesday evening in the latest in a string of consecutive night protests, banging pots and chanting against tuition hikes and the new law. A number of demonstrators gathered again in front of the building where the talks were taking place.  Police were noticeably absent Tuesday evening, some protesters going as far as banging on the door of the building with pots and wooden spoons.  On Monday, riot police were deployed as about 200 protesters stood in front of the building where the talks were held. Quebec City Police Lt. Stephane Dufresne said 84 were arrested. It was the first incident of mass arrests since last Wednesday when nearly 700 protesters were arrest. More than 2,500 people have been arrested since a student strike at more than a dozen Quebec colleges and universities began in February.  Quebec Premier Jean Charest, who has vowed to shake up the debt-ridden province's finances since he was elected nearly a decade ago, has refused to cave in. But he attended Monday's talks with the students for the first time since the conflict began, after being urged to do so by student leaders.   Charest said Tuesday he participated in the talks to show the government speaks with one voice at the table and because discussions had reached a new stage.  "We all want to turn the page and move onto other things," Charest said. "I hope it helps send a signal that the government wants to arrive at the best possible solution."  Charest's government passed emergency legislation on May 18 restricting protests and closing striking campuses until August. The law requires that police be informed eight hours before a protest begins, saying organizers must provide details on the route of any demonstration of 50 or more people. It also prohibits demonstrations within 50 meters (165 feet) of a college and declares that anyone who incites or helps another person break the new regulations can be fined.  Amnesty International says the law breaches Canada's international human rights obligations and called for it to be rescinded by Quebec's legislature.  Groups outside the province have condemned the new law. In Ottawa, labor unions joined major student organizations in a demonstration in support of the Quebec students' demands. In France, meanwhile, the far left New Anti-capitalist Party also supported Quebec's students and condemned what it considered an unprecedented law "criminalizing all social movements."  The latest round of talks comes at a crucial time for the Quebec government, with Montreal's peak tourism season fast approaching, a period of international events such as the Grand Prix F-1 race and international jazz and comedy festivals that bring millions in revenue.  ___

Porn actor is suspect in Canada body parts case

By PHIL COUVRETTE Associated Press
Wed, May. 30, 2012
OTTAWA - A porn actor is wanted in a gruesome case of dismembered body parts that were mailed to different places including the headquarters of the Conservative Party of Canada, police said.  Luka Rocco Magnotta, 29, is wanted for homicide, Montreal police said Wednesday at a news conference.  According to an official close to the investigation Magnotta worked as a porn actor and there is video of the crime. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk publicly about those details.  Magnotta, believed to originally be from Toronto, was renting an apartment in a working-class Montreal neighborhood. It was behind that building that police found a man's torso in a suitcase in a heap of garbage Tuesday, police said. That same day, a foot was found in a package mailed to the Conservative party headquarters in Ottawa, and a hand found at postal warehouse in the Canadian capital. The package with the hand was addressed to the Liberal Party of Canada. Early testing shows the three body parts come from the same man, police said.  Police in masks combed through the blood-soaked Montreal studio apartment on Wednesday. A blood stained mattress remained there after they left.  "For most of the officers that were there all night long this is the kind of crime scene they've never seen in their career," Montreal Police Cmdr. Ian Lafreniere said.  Lafreniere said they are investigating the possibility that other body parts might have been mailed. He said the suspect and the victim knew each other. He said it isn't linked to organized crime.  The packages with the foot and the hand had been mailed to Ottawa from Montreal. It wasn't clear why.  "As a father, I would have trouble sleeping at night knowing that the suspect was in my neighborhood," Lafreniere said.  Police said Magnotta is also known by the names Eric Clinton Newman and Vladimir Romanov. They described him as white, 5 feet 8 inches tall (1.78 meters) with blue eyes and black hair.  His internet presence indicates he is a bisexual porn actor and model.  Police discovered the severed foot after Jenni Bryne, a top political adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, opened a bloodstained box at Conservative party headquarters Tuesday.  When Bryne opened the box, a foul odor overcame the office.  "It was such a horrible odor. I'm sure many of us will not forget it," Conservative Party spokesman Fred DeLorey said.  Police said the package was addressed to the Conservative Party of Canada and not to a specific person.  Canada Post wouldn't comment on the discoveries.  Eric Schorer, the manager of the building where the suspect lived, said Magnotta had been living there for about four months but hadn't been seen around in a while. He said there were never any complaints about noise in the unit, and that Magnotta passed a credit test to rent there.  "He seemed like a nice guy," Schorer said.  Richard Payette, who lived across the hall from Magnotta, said the door of Apartment 208 was left open for part of the day on Wednesday. Payette said there was an overwhelming smell drifting out into the hallway, like bad meat.  An online video showing a man that looks like Magnotta shows him committing violent acts against kittens. The video contains at least one photo made available by Montreal police Wedesday that identified the man as Magnotta. For nearly two years, the name has been notorious among animal-rights activists looking for a man who tortured and killed cats and posted videos of it online.  "It's very upsetting," Opposition New Democrat member Yvon Godin said. "It could be just one crazy person that did it, but at the same time we have lots of people unhappy in our country, the way the country is going."  Opposition Liberal member Justin Trudeau called the packages horrific.

Students and Quebec government still talking 

THURSDAY MAY 31, 2012, 5:18 AM
QUEBEC CITY (AP) — Student representatives and Quebec government officials emerged from a third day of talks aimed at ending weeks of protests over tuition hikes without an agreement after a laborious session aimed at ending weeks of protests.  Student groups said they made a new proposal Wednesday to the government and were hoping to get an answer from officials Thursday.  "We gave our proposal to Quebec's government, we discussed it, we debated it, and the minister of education said she needed the night to think about it," said student leader Leo Bureau-Blouin.  Students have called for a tuition freeze, but the government has ruled that out as a possibility. Students also object to an emergency law put in place to limit protests.  "There was an exchange of offers, a ping-pong game all day and it ended with our last return so we're waiting for a reaction tomorrow," said student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois. "There have been many proposals on both sides, there were ups and downs."  More than 2,500 people have been arrested since a student strike at more than a dozen Quebec colleges and universities began in February.  Any agreement would have to be put to the various student associations for approval. The government was hoping to avoid a repeat of previous talks that ended with an agreement in principle with the leaders that was later rejected by the associations.  The French-speaking province's average undergraduate tuition - $2,519 a year - is the lowest in Canada, and the proposed hike - $254 per year over seven years - is tiny by U.S. standards. Analysts say Quebecois are more likely to compare themselves to European countries where higher education is mostly free, rather than to the neighboring United States.  Students said a proposal to drop the yearly rise by $35 to $219, was unanimously rejected.  Education Minister Michelle Courchesne said Wednesday that efforts were continuing to reach an agreement but the talks seemed laborious.  "The situation is serious so let's put time on our side," she said Wednesday. "We're progressing, it's difficult but as I was saying it's not over till its over."  Protesters in Montreal and Quebec City were joined by demonstrators across the country Wednesday partaking in what a Facebook group called Casseroles Night in Canada, a reference to the pots marchers have been banging to show their support for the students. One posting on the social media page even included a photo of protesters banging pots in Little Rock, Ark.  Protesters gathered again outside the building where the talks were taking place in Quebec City, banging pots and waving the flags of unions which have given students their support.  Quebec Premier Jean Charest, who has vowed to shake up the debt-ridden province's finances since he was elected nearly a decade ago, has refused to cave in. But he attended Monday's talks with the students for the first time since the conflict began, after being urged to do so by student leaders.  Charest's government passed emergency legislation on May 18 restricting protests and closing striking campuses until August. The law requires that police be informed eight hours before a protest begins, saying organizers must provide details on the route of any demonstration of 50 or more people. It also prohibits demonstrations within 50 meters (165 feet) of a college and declares that anyone who incites or helps another person break the new regulations can be fined.  Amnesty International says the law breaches Canada's international human rights obligations and called for it to be rescinded by Quebec's legislature.  On Wednesday, two United Nations freedom Special Rapporteurs expressed concern about the law and "urged federal and provincial governments of Canada and Quebec to fully respect the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, expression and association of students affected by two new legislations."


 

Police think Canada body parts suspect fled abroad 

May 31, 2012 Associated Press

OTTAWA, Ontario –  A Canadian porn actor suspected of mailing body parts to the headquarters of two major political parties after making a video of the killing might have fled to France, police said Thursday. A Montreal police official said they have information that Luka Rocco Magnotta might have left Canada for France but said his current whereabouts are not known. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to talk about the case publicly, gave no other details. Montreal Police Cmdr. Ian Lafreniere earlier said authorities believe Magnotta fled North America based on evidence they found at his apartment, and based on a blog Magnotta once wrote about how to disappear. Magnotta, 29, has been added to Interpol's "wanted persons" list. "We believe he may be in a foreign country," Lafreniere told The Associated Press. "He left a letter on a website mentioning how to disappear for good, and secondly, our investigation brought us some details that might let us think that he could be away from the country." Lafreniere also said police have been trying to take down an online video that they believe shows Magnotta murdering a man he dated. The video shows a man stabbing another man with an ice pick while the victim lies naked and tied up. The first man later reveals he has slashed the other man's throat. He also dismembers the corpse and performs sexual acts with it. Lafreniere said they were able to take down the video Wednesday night but that it keeps reappearing online. "It's horrible. I can't believe people take advantage of watching this," he said. Lafreniere said police believe the victim is a man reported missing several days ago and that the man's family lives overseas. He said police were having trouble contacting the family. The case began Tuesday when police found a man's torso in a suitcase behind Magnotta's apartment building and a severed foot was found in a package mailed to the Conservative Party headquarters in Ottawa. A hand was found in a separate package at a postal facility, addressed to the Liberal Party of Canada. Other body parts remain missing, and Lafreniere said police are investigating the possibility that they also may have been put in the mail. Criminal profiler Pat Brown said the suspect clearly loves attention. "He's not political, psychopaths rarely are, so he didn't send those parts for political reasons but to get a splash in the media. He wants to go in history as being the creepiest guy out there," Brown said. Police said Magnotta is also known by the names Eric Clinton Newman and Vladimir Romanov. They described him as white and 5 feet 8 inches tall (1.78 meters) with blue eyes and black hair. A police official said he was a porn actor. His internet presence indicates he is a bisexual porn actor and model with a myriad of aliases. Magnotta changed his name from Eric Clinton Kirkman in 2006, and online posts suggest he had a longtime fascination with identity change and escape. In a post on the Digital Journal website dated 2009 that police confirmed, a six-step article under Magnotta's name describes how to disappear. "When making the decision to disappear, it is very important to understand that this is not a process that can be successfully accomplished overnight," it reads. "For best results under normal circumstances, a minimum of four months is really necessary to successfully carry out the heroic actions necessary to leave your old life behind. "This is certainly not an undertaking to be entered into lightly  — be completely sure of yourself before you commit to this." A Montana lawyer said he alerted authorities after seeing the video the murder on a gore website days before it became part of the investigation, but he was only taken seriously after the murder was reported. The lawyer, Roger Renville, said he saw the video on Saturday morning and by late Saturday afternoon had called law enforcement, including local law enforcement, FBI, Toronto police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. "The last one was Toronto police department and nobody would take the report seriously," he said. "Late Tuesday I called the Mounties, and given what was in the news that day they took it very seriously and when I told them the name of the suspect they said 'we're looking for this guy' and they took it very seriously and took all my information." Magnotta, born in the Toronto area, was renting an apartment in a working-class Montreal neighborhood. Police in masks combed through the blood-streaked apartment Wednesday. Mike Gauthier, who has lived in the building for three years, said Magnotta's apartment was emptied before he apparently vanished in recent days. There were no clothes and no books inside, he said. Few tenants said they knew Magnotta, who had only lived in the building for around four months. They described him as an effeminate man who was quiet and aloof but pleasant at times. An online video shows a man who looks like Magnotta committing violent acts against kittens. The video contains at least one photo made available by Montreal police Wednesday that identified the man as Magnotta. For nearly two years, animal-rights activists have been looking for a man who tortured and killed cats and posted videos of it online. Police discovered the severed foot Tuesday after Jenni Bryne, a top political adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, opened a bloodstained box at Conservative party headquarters. When Bryne opened the box, a foul odor overcame the office. "It was such a horrible odor. I'm sure many of us will not forget it," Conservative Party spokesman Fred DeLorey said. Police said the package was addressed to the Conservative Party of Canada and not to a specific person.   

Talks over Quebec student demonstrations collapse

May 31 Associated Press

QUEBEC CITY (AP) — Quebec's premier Jean Charest said Thursday he suspended negotiations with university students aimed at ending weeks of protests over proposed tuition hikes, a development that could lead to a long summer of demonstrations and clashes with police.  Charest said the talks reached an impasse and a huge gap remains after four days of talks. Charest said there will be an election in the French-speaking province within 18 months and that it will be "up to the silent majority to express itself."  Student leaders said Quebec's education minister stepped away from the table, saying it wasn't politically possible to reach an agreement. One student leader called for more street protests and said he planned a large rally in Montreal for Saturday.  Student groups called for a tuition freeze, but the government has ruled out that possibility. Students also object to an emergency law put in place to limit protests.  More than 2,500 people have been arrested since a student strike at more than a dozen Quebec colleges and universities began in February.  At least three demonstrations took to the streets of Montreal hours after the talks broke down, all at one point merging into one that police said was at least a few thousand strong. Two people were arrested. Two demonstrators were also arrested in Quebec City after throwing items at police but police spokeswoman Catherine Viel said more were expected in the city where the talks collapsed.  The failed talks comes at a crucial time for the Quebec government, with Montreal's peak tourism season fast approaching, a period of international events such as the Grand Prix F-1 race and international jazz and comedy festivals that bring millions of tourism revenue.  Charest said he hoped the break would bring some calm to the streets, but student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois called for "a return to the streets."  Charest said Nadeau-Dubois' group had threatened to disrupt the lucrative F-1 racing Grand Prix next weekend, but the student leader said he was merely going to use the publicity generated by the event to make his cause visible.  Quebec's average undergraduate tuition — $2,519 a year — is the lowest in Canada, and the proposed hike — $254 per year over seven years — is tiny by U.S. standards. But opponents consider the raise an affront to the philosophy of the 1960s reforms dubbed the Quiet Revolution that set Quebec apart not only from its U.S. neighbor but from the rest of Canada.  Many Quebecois are more likely to compare themselves to European countries where higher education is mostly free, rather than the U.S.  Students said a proposal to drop the yearly rise by $35 to $219 was unanimously rejected.  Education Minister Michelle Courchesne said it takes it takes two to tango and as long as someone still wants to freeze the fees it makes it difficult to negotiate.  The student said they're willing to go back to the negotiating table whenever the government wants.  "We're still here. We're always ready to negotiate," said Martine Desjardins, one of the four main student leaders . "We'll wait."  Charest, who has vowed to shake up the debt-ridden province's finances since he was elected nearly a decade ago, has refused to cave in. But he attended Monday's talks with the students for the first time since the conflict began, after being urged to do so by student leaders.  Charest's government passed emergency legislation on May 18 restricting protests and closing striking campuses until August. The law requires that police be informed eight hours before a protest begins, including on the route of any demonstration of 50 or more people. It also prohibits demonstrations within 50 meters (165 feet) of a college and declares that anyone who incites or helps another person break the new regulations can be fined.  Amnesty International says the law breaches Canada's international human rights obligations and called on Quebec's legislature to rescind it. On Wednesday, two United Nations freedom Special Rapporteurs expressed concern about the law and "urged federal and provincial governments of Canada and Quebec to fully respect the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, expression and association of students affected by two new legislations."

Murder victim is Chinese student, police say

June 1 Associated Press

MONTREAL — The man killed in a videotaped attack that was discovered after body parts were mailed to Canada's top political parties was a Chinese student, police said Friday, as authorities in France searched for the suspect, a Canadian porn actor. Montreal Police Cmdr. Ian Lafreniere identified the victim as Jun Lin, 33. Police have said he dated Luka Rocco Magnotta, who is now on Interpol's equivalent of its most-wanted list. A senior French police official said he is sure Magnotta is in France and that Magnotta has been there in the past. Another French police official said Magnotta apparently flew to Paris from Montreal last weekend, before the case emerged. Porn actor wanted for murder over body parts in Canada mail Lafreniere said Jun Lin doesn't have family in Montreal, but a family member reported him missing on Tuesday. He had last been seen May 24. Lafreniere said the murder occurred the night of May 24-25, and the suspect left for Europe on May 26. According to a missing person's notice on the website of the Chinese consulate in Montreal, the victim was from the city of Wuhan and arrived in Montreal in July 2011. "He is a Chinese citizen who studied at a university here in Montreal and was here for a certain time," Lafreniere said. "Thanks to the Chinese embassy, we have been able to reach the family with the sad news of what happened." Advertise | AdChoices   The case began Tuesday, when a package containing a severed foot was opened at the ruling Conservative Party headquarters. A hand was discovered at a postal facility, addressed to the Liberal party of Canada. A torso was found in a suitcase on a garbage dump in Montreal, outside Magnotta's apartment building. Body parts in the post: Human foot mailed to Canada Conservative party HQ Montreal police have said they believe Magnotta, 29, fled for France based on evidence they found at his apartment and a blog he once wrote about how to disappear. "What will hinder him the most is what he used to glorify himself, the Web, with all the photos we have of him," Lafreniere said. But he warned that Magnotta is "someone who can disguise himself, he can change into a woman, wear a wig." Only on NBCNews.com Ex-Penn State president disputes Freeh report The female face of HIV: 'Everyone's at risk' First funerals for Aurora victims planned Will trial shed light on motive in Aurora killings? Miracle baby of the Aurora tragedy Labor braces for attack should GOP sweep in November UK workers cash in on Olympics with strike threats France's fugitive search unit has been ordered to hunt for Magnotta, the French officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about such searches publicly. They gave no details about his suspected whereabouts. Lafreniere said Magnotta could be anywhere in Europe, and "there's even been talk he might have returned to Canada under another identity." Police suspect Magnotta filmed the murder. The video, posted online, shows a man stabbing another man with an ice pick while the victim lies naked and tied up. The first man later reveals he has slashed the other man's throat. He also dismembers the corpse and performs sexual acts with it. "We have quite convincing proof of the crime he committed," Lafreniere said Friday, referring to the video. Other body parts remain missing. Police said Magnotta is also known by the names Eric Clinton Newman and Vladimir Romanov, and they described him as white and 5 feet 8 inches tall with blue eyes and black hair. A police official said he was a porn actor. Derek MacKinnon, a former resident of the building where Magnotta lived, said he was the only person Magnotta would speak to in the building. MacKinnon identified himself as an actor who played a serial killer in the 1980 horror film "Terror Train." "I was a killer who killed 11 people in this film, so he was rather interested in my career versus his," MacKinnon said. "It was like a quick conversation, not like anything big. And knowing that we were both gay, I think that's probably where he had the connection with me because he was extremely cold, standoffish, wouldn't talk to anybody, but he would stop for a sec to say something to me, and I think that he felt there was a kindred spirit or something between the two of us." He said Magnotta "was always well groomed" until the last time MacKinnon saw him, on May 25. He said Magnotta was having "a bad hair day." "It was red, and he normally is dark," MacKinnon said. "It looked like a really bad wig."

Quebec protests continue

June 2 Associated Press

MONTREAL (AP) — Thousands of students and their supporters huddled under umbrellas and banged on pots as they marched in the streets of Montreal in the rain Saturday, two days after talks collapsed between student groups and the Quebec government aimed at ending weeks of protests over proposed tuition hikes.  The failed talks came at a crucial time for the Quebec government, with Montreal's peak tourism season fast approaching with international events such as the Grand Prix F-1 race and international jazz and comedy festivals that bring millions of dollars in tourism revenue.  Student groups called for a tuition freeze, but the government ruled out that possibility. Students also object to an emergency law put in place to limit protests.  Quebec's average undergraduate tuition — $2,519 a year — is the lowest in Canada, and the proposed hike — $254 per year over seven years — is tiny by U.S. standards. But many Quebecois are more likely to compare themselves to European countries where higher education is mostly free, rather than the U.S.  "The attitude is to send a message to (Quebec Premier Jean) Charest that, at this moment, it is not only a student struggle but a popular struggle," said student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, who had called for more protests after the talks collapsed on Thursday.  "We see a lot of people going in the streets every night in Montreal and now all over Quebec."  Students mixed with families gathered at a central park near downtown Montreal, listening to speeches before the march started Saturday afternoon.  Josee Mercier, 30, with her family of five in tow, said she was there for her kids' education, but also for her own immediate study plans.  "I'm a single mother, I can't afford tuition of thousands of dollars," she said. "I'm also trying to head back to school to become a nurse but because it's too expensive and I have a family to support just I can't."  "We need a government that cares about the poor, about kids," she added.  It was the latest daytime rally in Quebec's largest city. On May 22 over 100,000 marchers marked the 100th day of student protests. An even larger crowd gathered on March 22.  More than 2,500 people have been arrested since a student strike at more than a dozen Quebec colleges and universities began in February. Most have occurred during marches in Montreal and Quebec City.  Quebec officials said Nadeau-Dubois' group has threatened to disrupt the lucrative F-1 racing Grand Prix next weekend, but the student leader reiterated Saturday he was merely going to use the publicity generated by the racing event to make his cause visible.  Charest said the students were hurting the Quebecois with their actions and hindering the very people from whom they seek support.  Charest's government passed emergency legislation on May 18 restricting protests and closing striking campuses until August. The law requires that police be informed eight hours before a protest begins, including details on the route of any demonstration of 50 or more people. It also prohibits demonstrations within 50 meters (165 feet) of a college and declares that anyone who incites or helps another person break the new regulations can be fined.  Amnesty International said the law breaches Canada's international human rights obligations and called on Quebec's legislature to rescind it. On Wednesday, two United Nations officials expressed concern about the law and "urged federal and provincial governments of Canada and Quebec to fully respect the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, expression and association of students affected by two new legislations."

Murder suspect arrested

June 4 Associated Press

A Canadian porn actor suspected of murdering and dismembering a Chinese student and mailing his body parts to Canada’s top political parties was reading about himself on the internet when he was arrested at a café in Berlin.  Canadian investigators say 29-year-old Luka Magnotta’s obsessions led him to post internet videos of his killing kittens, then a man, and finally to his arrest at the café where he had spent two hours reading media coverage of himself.  An international manhunt set off by a case of internet gruesomeness that captured global attention ended quietly on Monday in the working-class Neukoelln district of the German capital when a café employee recognised Magnotta from a newspaper photo and flagged down a police car. Confronted by seven officers, “he tried at first giving fake names, but in the end he just said ‘you got me’,” said police spokesman Guido Busch.  Magnotta is wanted by Canadian authorities on suspicion of killing Jun Lin, a 33-year-old man he dated, in Canada, and mailing his body parts to two of Canada’s top political parties.  They say Magnotta filmed the murder in his Montreal studio apartment and posted it online. The video shows a man with an ice pick stabbing another naked, bound male. He also dismembers the corpse and performs sexual acts with it in what police called a horrifying video.  The warning signs apparently were already there. For nearly two years animal activists had been looking for a man who tortured and killed cats and posted videos of his cruelty online. Since Lin’s murder, Montreal police have released a photo from the video which they say is of Magnotta.  In 2005, Magnotta was accused of sexually assaulting a woman, but the charges were dropped, the lawyer who represented him at the time said.  Magnotta is believed to have fled to France on May 26, based on evidence police found at his apartment and a blog he once posted about disappearing.  In Germany, police spokeswoman Kerstin Ziesmer said Magnotta was being questioned, and would be brought before a judge behind closed doors. “He says he is the wanted person,” she added, while cautioning that his identity still needed to be confirmed by German authorities.  Canada, like Europe, has no death penalty, making extradition likely.  The case’s full horror emerged when a package containing a severed foot was opened at the ruling Conservative Party headquarters on May 29. That same day, a hand was discovered at a postal facility, addressed to the Liberal Party of Canada. And a torso was found in a suitcase on a garbage dump in Montreal, outside Magnotta’s apartment building.  Police in masks combed through the blood-soaked Montreal studio apartment last Wednesday.  As they unravelled his background, police discovered that Magnotta changed his name from Eric Clinton Newman in 2006 and was born in Scarborough, Ontario.  Nina Arsenault, a Toronto transsexual who said she had a relationship with Magnotta over a decade ago, described him as a drug user with a temper, who sometimes turned his anger on himself, hitting himself on the head.  Montreal police Commander Ian Lafreniere said investigators were extremely relieved and pleased about the arrest. “We said from the beginning that the web has been used to glorify himself and we believe the web brought him down,” said Lafreniere. “He was recognised because his photo was everywhere.”

Human remains delivered to 2 Vancouver schools

June 5 Associated Press

MONTREAL - Packages containing a human foot and hand were discovered at two schools in Vancouver on Tuesday, in what could be the latest gruesome twist in the case of a Canadian porn actor suspected of dismembering and eating his former lover. Police said they could not immediately confirm if the body parts in question were the missing extremities of Chinese student Jun Lin, whose hand and foot were discovered last week when they were mailed to Canada's top political parties. The suspect, Luka Rocco Magnotta, 29, was caught Monday in Berlin, after evading police for days while he partied in Paris. He told German authorities he would not fight extradition to Canada. Vancouver Deputy Police Chief Warren Lemcke said a package containing what appeared to be a human hand was opened by staff at False Creek Elementary School after 1 p.m. Tuesday. Another package containing what appeared to be a human foot was found by staff at St. George's private school for boys later in the day. The British Columbia Coroner's Service and the Vancouver police's major crime investigators have been called in. "There is no indication any student or staff has been targeted at any school," Lemcke said. "This must have been a very traumatic incident for all involved in the schools involved in opening the packages and the Vancouver Police Department will assist any way we can with our victims services section." Video footage of what authorities believe to be the killing seems to show the suspect eating the body, said police in Montreal, where the death occurred. Montreal Police Cmdr. Ian Lafreniere said that although police have not been able to conclusively confirm it, they suspect Magnotta ate parts of the victim's body. "As gross and as graphic as it could be, yes, it was seen on the video," Lafreniere said. Authorities allege Magnotta filmed the slaying in his Montreal studio apartment and posted it online. A copy of what police believe is the video of the killing, viewed online by AP, shows a man with an ice pick stabbing another naked, bound male. He also dismembers the corpse and performs sexual acts with it. It did not show anyone eating the body but did show a man using a fork and knife on it. Police suggested Tuesday that they have access to more extensive video of the killing, possibly an unedited version. "We're keeping some details for ourselves," Lafreniere said. Shortly after the killing, authorities say, Magnotta flew from Montreal to Paris. Scores of French police hunting for him were inundated with hundreds of tips and alleged sightings of the suspect, whose photo was splashed in newspaper papers, TV screens and websites worldwide, thanks to an Interpol alert. The suspect monitored news reports about what police knew and took steps to evade authorities. Witnesses contacted French police with claims of having seen Magnotta partying in the Bastille area of east Paris, said Christophe Crepin, a police union official who shared details about the manhunt in a phone interview with The Associated Press. One tipster said Magnotta drank a late-night Coca-Cola at a bar in the northwestern Batignolles quarter, which police collected for fingerprints. Pornography magazines and an air-sickness bag from the plane he had taken from Montreal to Paris were found in a dingy hotel room where he stayed in Bagnolet, northeast of Paris. "He needed to be seen, and to party," said Crepin, who relayed information he received from agents in the judicial police unit that tracks fugitives. "Naturally some of the people who saw him broke out into a cold sweat when they recognized him." Magnotta's refusal to stay low eventually got him caught. He was arrested while reading about himself at an Internet cafe in Berlin after an employee recognized him from a newspaper photo and flagged down a police car. Magnotta appeared before a German judge in the afternoon and was ordered held pending extradition, police spokesman Thomas Neuendorf said. He was then transferred to a Berlin prison from a police detention center. He will have to go before a German court for an extradition hearing once Canada formally requests that he be returned for trial, Neuendorf said. "I assume there will be no problems," he said. "According to his statements to prosecutors he will not fight his extradition." That means Magnotta could be returned to Canada as early as this week, according to authorities. The Canadian Embassy in Berlin declined to comment on when Ottawa may file the official papers seeking extradition. Cmdr. Denis Mainville, the head investigator of the Montreal police major crimes unit, said investigators will review hundreds of homicide cases over the last 30 years in Montreal and throughout Quebec for any possible links to Magnotta. Mainville said such a review is routine in such cases. Magnotta arrived in Berlin on Saturday on a bus Paris, said Martin Steltner, a spokesman for Berlin prosecutors. Crepin said Magnotta had contacts in Paris from a previous visit in 2010. "He didn't come to Paris by chance. He knew he could get along in Paris, he knew people," he said. Police, for example, trailed a large-framed man who had been in contact with Magnotta, he said. Police questioned another man with whom Magnotta spent two nights. The man didn't immediately realize who his companion was, Crepin said. At times, French investigators grew frustrated with leaks in the media — notably a French TV report indicating police had used technology to track Magnotta's mobile phone. As a result, Magnotta turned it off, Crepin said. "He had closely monitored what we police were doing to concoct his strategy," he said. Crepin said surveillance camera footage showed Magnotta boarding a bus to Berlin on Friday evening. He said German officials were alerted that Magnotta might be in Berlin at some point before the arrest, but he did not specify when. The case's full horror emerged on May 29 when a package containing the severed foot was opened at Canada's ruling Conservative Party headquarters and a hand was discovered at a postal facility, addressed to the Liberal Party of Canada. A torso, meanwhile, was found in a suitcase on a garbage dump in Montreal, outside Magnotta's apartment building. As they unraveled his background, police discovered that Magnotta changed his name from Eric Clinton Newman in 2006 and that he was born in Scarborough, Ontario. He is also known as Vladimir Romanov. Police said he has 70 Facebook accounts under different names. Montreal police on Tuesday said DNA tests have confirmed that the body parts mailed to the political parties were Lin's remains, and that they have footage of Magnotta mailing the two parcels that were sent to Ottawa. "The head is still missing," Lafreniere said, hours before the parcels were discovered in Vancouver. "And one hand and one foot is still missing." Zheng Xu, a press spokesman at the Chinese consulate in Montreal, said Lin's family has been contacted and wants to travel to Canada as soon as possible. He said he was not able to give any further details without the family's approval. In Vancouver, Kurt Heinrich of the city's school board said no students saw the package at False Creek Elementary. Larissa Warrington, the chair of the False Creek elementary parent advisory council, said students were in school at the time and police vans were present when she picked up her three kids. "I came to pick up my children as I usually do and was told there was a suspicious package at the school," an emotional Warrington said. "It is disturbing. It's awful. Why would anybody do that? It's very unsettling, as you can imagine, having children at this school."


 

Friends of Canada victim remember quiet student 

June 7, 2012 Associated Press

TORONTO (AP) — On his blog, he liked to call himself Big Bad Justin, but in reality, according to his postings and his acquaintances, Jun Lin was a quiet, unassuming man who came to Canada from China to study engineering and computer science. As a cashier at a convenience store, he never missed a shift. He loved his cat and queued up for the new iPhone on the day it went on sale.  Now his parents are here to collect the dismembered remains of the victim of a murder that has appalled the world with its gruesomeness, videotaped and posted on the Internet.  “I’m going to Canada!” he posted on May 10, 2010.  Last week parts of him turned up in parcels mailed to Canada’s two main political parties. A torso was found in a suitcase on a garbage dump in Montreal, outside the apartment building where he is thought to have been killed. Police reported that what looked like a foot and hand, separately mailed to two Vancouver schools and discovered Tuesday, are thought to be linked to the case. Police are waiting for the head to turn up.  On his blog, the 33-year-old indulged his love for fashion, home-cooked food, Apple products, American TV and Andy his tabby cat.  A copy of what police believe is the video of the killing shows a bound, blindfolded man naked on a bed being stabbed to death with an ice pick, then dismembered.  Investigators suspect a 29-year-old Montreal man, Luka Rocco Magnotta of committing the murder and posting the video online. He was caught at a cafe in Berlin. Montreal police say he and Lin were dating, but no reference to the suspect has yet been found in Lin’s extensive online postings.  “I don’t know under what circumstances they knew each other, but for someone to target him, I never would have thought this,” said Zoya De Frias Lakhany, who was Lin’s friend and fellow student at Concordia University in Montreal.  Lin was a shy, straight-A computer student — “so nice, humble and honest,” said De Frias Lakhany, 21. “He was really involved in his studies and never missed class.”  On the Chinese microblogging site weibo.com, Lin wrote excitedly about moving to Canada. Upon arriving in Montreal, he kept up his mostly cheerful blogging, although he sometimes betrayed a sense of loneliness.  “Class is to begin soon,” reads one posting from last year, accompanied by a photo of an empty classroom. “I’m so nervous. Been out of school for so long.”  “I just realized I am 10 years older than my classmates,” he wrote a month later. “They can call me Uncle. It’s so crushing.”  More than 1,000 entries are scattered with photos he took of himself. In some, he stares at the camera, expressionless. In others, he makes faces or poses shirtless.  The photos were accompanied by discussions of his diet and plans for staying fit.  “My calves are getting so thick,” he complained one day. “I am on diet — chicken breast, broccoli, tomatoes, peas and whole-wheat bread.”  A few days later, he explained his weight gain: “I know why I am so fat in Canada. Butter and bread in the morning. I’m so fat,” he wrote.  Yet the photos show a slender man. Followers of his blog commented that he was cute.  Lin’s last blog entry, dated May 16, 2012, has drawn 40,000 comments, most of them expressing shock and condolences over his death. But some of the posters debate homosexuality, with many suggesting Lin’s sexuality led him into a dangerous situation. China’s government considered homosexuality a mental disorder until 2001 and it remains a sensitive topic in the country, where gays are frequently ostracized.  Friends and strangers have lit virtual candles on Lin’s blog. A Facebook page dedicated to Lin features photos of him traveling and posts demanding swift justice for Magnotta, a former porn actor who, authorities say, flew to Paris shortly after the killing and spent several days partying and evading police before his arrest in Berlin.  At the Montreal convenience store where Lin’s boss says he never failed to show up for work, a memorial is piled with flowers and sympathy cards written in English, French and Mandarin.  The Chinese consulate in Montreal said Lin’s family plans to speak with the media when they are ready.  De Frias Lakhany said her friend seemed happy in Montreal.  “He would take pictures of the snow and post them,” she said “He was sweet, never complained and smiled all the time.”
Associated Press writers Didi Tang in Beijing, David Rising in Berlin, Phil Couvrette in Ottawa, Sean Farrell in Montreal and Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.

Heavy police presence for F1 race in Montreal 

Jun. 10, 2012 

MONTREAL (AP) — Police in Montreal clamped down Sunday on any attempt by protesters to disrupt the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix race.  Police spokeswoman Anie Lemieux said about 30 people have been arrested at the subway stop near the race track as a preventive measure.  Some protesters had wanted to fill the subway with their supporters to make it difficult for fans to get to the race but the main downtown hub was filled with police officers in yellow jackets instead, checking any commuter with a back pack and red square, the symbol used by student protesters who have been demonstrating for more than three months against university and college tuition hikes.  Officers patrolled the corridor leading to the line traveling to the race venue, and were on every train car as well.  Thousands of tourists in Montreal over the last few days for the F-1 Grand Prix race have witnessed protests as students demonstrating against the planned tuition hikes paraded in their underwear, beat drums and pots and occasionally clashed with police near areas especially designated for street parties. But Montreal police backed by their provincial counterparts made their presence felt on the streets and in the subway system below to make sure any planned disruptions of one of Canada's most lucrative tourist events did not take place.  Students have called for a tuition freeze, but the government has ruled that out as a possibility. Students also object to an emergency law put in place to limit protests. As soon as talks with the government broke down recently, one student group, soon joined by an anti-capitalist group known for its disruptive protests, said they planned events to make their presence felt during the F-1 event.  Security was no less tight near two street parties going on during race day on Sunday, as police wearing helmets watched a group of a few dozen protesters go back and forth, sometimes stopping to chant slogans.  "Welcome to Montreal!" they chanted sarcastically to an amused crowd of tourists sitting down on one of Crescent St.'s many patios to watch the race or a Euro soccer game broadcast on television and snapping pictures. Banging drums and pots, the group walked down the street chanting "Whose streets, our streets!" Police also arrested five people there after one confrontation.  The street parties have been a popular target of protesters. Some faceoffs with the officers guarding the events have led to rocks and bottles being thrown at police who have responded with pepper spray and arrests. On Saturday night, police in riot gear blocked off streets in an attempt to keep the students away from Formula One revelers, who felt a faint sting of pepper spray as they sat on restaurant patios and watched the protests go by.

Family of slain Chinese student moved by support 

June 12, 2012 Associated Press 

OTTAWA, Ontario –  The family of a Chinese student who was killed and dismembered in Canada said they are deeply troubled by his death but have been moved by the outpouring of sympathy and charity. Jun Lin's family arrived in Montreal last week. The family said in a statement made public late Monday that Lin was "the pride for our whole family clan." "This appalling catastrophe has dealt a disastrous blow to our family," the family said in its statement released by the Chinese consulate in Montreal. "But it inspired outpourings of sympathy and charity in people, bringing together kind-hearted people in society, and deeply moving and gratifying us in a time of deep sorrow." The gruesome death of Lin, whose body parts first turned up in parcels mailed to two of Canada's main political parties in Ottawa, launched an international manhunt for his lover, porn actor Luka Rocco Magnotta. Investigators suspect Magnotta, 29, of killing Lin and posting a video online showing him having sex with the dismembered corpse. Police also say the video shows him eating parts of the victim's body. Magnotta was caught reading stories about himself at an Internet cafe in Berlin last week and is facing extradition from Germany. Lin's family visited with police and officials from Concordia University in Montreal , which later announced the creation of a fund to support the family's trip and create an award in Jun Lin's name. Lin, 33, was enrolled as an undergraduate in the school's department of engineering and computer science. "Lin Jun was a Buddhist believer. He made a point of doing benevolent deeds and achieving moral excellence. He was an extremely nice child with filial respect to his parents. It feels as though his care for his parents and sister is still with us even today," the family said. Lin's torso was found two weeks ago in a suitcase at a garbage dump in Montreal, outside the apartment building where he is thought to have been killed. Police said a foot and hand were also mailed to two Vancouver schools. His head is still missing. His family is calling for the suspect to be extradited back to Canada as soon as possible so that justice can be done and bring consolation to the family and the Chinese community. In the meantime, they asked that Lin be remembered for his "kindness, hard work, and passion for life."  

Montreal teacher fired for showing video 

June 14, 2012 Associated Press   

MONTREAL (AP) — A Montreal teacher was fired for showing a high school class a video that police believe depicts the slaying and dismemberment of a Chinese student, school officials said Thursday. Police suspect Luka Magnotta of killing Jun Lin and posting a video online that shows him stabbing and having sex with the dismembered corpse. The case drew worldwide attention when Lin's body parts were mailed to the headquarters of two of Canada's political parties, and provoked an international manhunt when the suspect fled to Europe. Magnotta was caught in Berlin last week and is facing extradition. The teacher was suspended with pay June 4, the same day he showed the video. The school board released a statement Thursday saying it had severed all ties with the 29-year-old teacher. The teacher's name was not released. "The unacceptable nature of the teacher's act required an unambiguous measure," Marguerite-Bourgeoys school board president Diane Lamarche-Venne said in the statement. The board said it considered the gravity of the act and its impact on students when making the decision. Staff at Cavelier-De LaSalle High School said that a team of psychologists was available to deal with any problems. The video is so disturbing that, according to Montreal police, even seasoned detectives who watched it were troubled. Montreal police were also looking into possible charges against that teacher. Many students had defended the popular young teacher and said they urged him to show the video. Earlier Thursday, several held a rally around lunchtime. The student body has created a petition calling for his reinstatement.

Canadian fugitive arrested

June 17, 2012 Associated Press

EDMONTON, Alberta - The man wanted in an armored car heist at a Canadian university that left three armed guards dead was carrying $330,000 in cash and no passport when he was arrested by U.S. border officials, police said Sunday. Travis Baumgartner was stopped Saturday near a border crossing in Lynden, Washington, southwest of Abbotsford, British Columbia. He was driving a Ford F-150 truck with the Alberta license plate that police had been seeking, Police Supt. Bob Hassel said at a news conference. Hassel said the suspect tried to get through the border with his driver's license. He had the cash in a backpack. Thomas Schreiber of U.S.  Customs and Border Protection said the suspect didn't have a gun and was arrested without incident. Baumgartner, 21, had been on the run since Friday when four armed guards were gunned down, three of them fatally.  He faces three counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. Hassel said the injured guard remains in critical condition. Baumgartner was the fifth member of a G4S Cash Solutions crew that was re-loading bank machines at a University of Alberta mall and residence where the shooting happened, police said.  The armored truck was found abandoned but running not far from the security company's offices. Dead at the scene were Michelle Shegelski, 26; Eddie Rejano, 39; and Brian Ilesic, 35. Police had launched an international manhunt to find Baumgartner.  Hassel said Baumgartner is currently being held at a police detachment in Langley, British Columbia, and is expected to be transferred back to Edmonton sometime in the next week. G4S Cash Solutions spokeswoman Robin Steinberg said the company would conduct its own investigation into the shooting. Baumgartner had only been on the job for three months. "We applaud the dedication of the Edmonton Police Service, and other law enforcement agencies in apprehending Travis Baumgartner today," Steinberg said in a statement. "Our thoughts remain with the families and friends of the victims and also with the Baumgartner family." Baumgartner's mother issued a statement Friday pleading for her son to surrender and apologizing for an argument they had. Such shootings are rare in Canada, where residents are nervous about anything that might indicate they are moving closer to U.S. levels of gun violence. The oil boom town of Fort McMurray, Alberta, however, often has drug-related shootings, and Vancouver often has gang shootings. Gunfire at Toronto's most prominent mall this month left two dead and several injured and a shooting at an Edmonton club in 2006 left three dead. Steven Munz, a close friend of Baumgartner, had said that Baumgartner had been on the job for only three months and wanted to eventually become a police officer, but said Baumgartner didn't believe he had what it took. Munz said he had noticed a change in his personality in the last year, and that he had been irrational at times. In a profile on the dating website Plenty of Fish, Baumgartner bills himself as an armored car guard interested in video gaming. A photo shows him shirtless holding a cell phone. He says he has a laid back personality and a "10" physique. "I'm a great guy. We don't come around often," he writes. But his Facebook page is much darker, quoting the character of the anarchist Joker from the movie "Dark Knight" and musing about "popping people off." Baumgartner lived with his mother and step-sister in Sherwood Park, a bedroom community just east of Edmonton.

Suspect in body parts case returns to Canada 

Jun 18, 2012 Associated Press

MIRABEL, Quebec (AP) — A Canadian porn actor suspected in the dismemberment of a Chinese student arrived in Canada on Monday via military transport from Germany, where he was arrested this month. Luka Magnotta did not fight his extradition. He is suspected of killing Jun Lin and sending body parts to Canadian political parties and schools. The head is still missing. Police said they would ask Magnotta where it is. Investigators say Magnotta posted a video online showing him having sex with the dismembered corpse. Montreal police Cmdr. Ian Lafreniere said Magnotta's plane landed at Mirabel airport just outside Montreal. A convoy of police vehicles with flashing lights rolled out to meet the suspect. Half a dozen men escorted him down the stairs of the plane and into a minivan. Armed guards stood by. A handcuffed Magnotta, dressed in a green long sleeve shirt and black jeans, said nothing as he was escorted into the van. "We're extremely happy with the result today," Lafreniere said. "This is not the end of the investigation. We're missing an important part of the investigation which is the head of the body." He said they hope to help the family mourn by telling them where the head is. China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Tuesday when asked about Magnotta's return that China was monitoring developments and hoped that there would be justice to give "the victim a result that capn have him rest in peace." Lafreniere said Magnotta's return went smoothly. He called the military flight an extraordinary measure but said there was no way they were going to bring him back on a commercial flight with other people sitting onboard. Magnotta, 29, will appear in court Tuesday, Lafreniere said. A defense attorney will likely be designated then, said Rene Verret of Quebec's prosecutors' office. Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said in a statement that Magnotta was removed from Berlin on Monday by a Canadian military transport. "The Government of Canada thanks the Government of Germany for their swift and decisive action in this matter," Nicholson said, adding that they would have no further comment. Canadian Public Safety Minister Vic Toews noted that Magnotta himself sped up the process by declining to contest his extradition. Martin Steltner, a spokesman for Berlin prosecutors, said Germany's federal government gave formal approval for the extradition a few days ago. Magnotta's court-appointed lawyer during the extradition proceedings, Evelyn Ascher, could not be reached late Monday. Magnotta was caught reading stories about himself at an Internet cafe in Berlin earlier this month after he spent a few days partying in Paris. Lin's torso was found last month in a suitcase at a garbage dump in Montreal outside Magnotta's apartment building. The case first emerged when a package containing a severed foot was opened at Canada's ruling Conservative Party headquarters on May 29. That same day, a hand was discovered at a postal facility, addressed to the Liberal Party of Canada. About a week later, a foot and hand were found mailed to two schools in Vancouver. Police said notes were included in most of the packages but declined to say what they said. DNA tests have confirmed that all the body parts belong to Lin, a Chinese national studying computer science at Concordia University. Magnotta is wanted for first-degree murder, defiling a corpse, threatening the prime minister and using the mail system for delivering "obscene, indecent, immoral or scurrilous" material. Yan Shi of the Concordia Chinese Students Association said Lin's family remains in Montreal, but he hasn't heard any reaction from them to Magnotta's return. The family traveled to Canada from China upon learning of Lin's death. Police said Magnotta and Lin, 33, were in a relationship.

Magnotta pleads not guilty

Jun 19, 2012 Associated Press

MONTREAL (AP) — A Canadian porn actor accused of dismembering his Chinese lover and mailing the body parts to political parties and schools pleaded not guilty Tuesday to five charges including first degree murder.  Luka Magnotta entered his plea before a judge via videoconference from a Montreal detention center. It was his first hearing since being extradited to Canada under very tight security from Germany, where he was arrested after an international manhunt.  His lawyer, Pierre Panaccio, requested that Magnotta be evaluated by a psychiatrist to determine his criminal responsibility. The court will consider that request Thursday.  Magnotta, 29, is suspected of killing Jun Lin, a 33-year-old a computer science student at Concordia University, and sending his feet and hands to Canada's top political parties and two schools. The head is still missing, and police said they would ask Magnotta where it is.  Investigators say Magnotta also posted a video online showing him having sex with the dismembered corpse. A second, unedited version of the video seen by police shows him eating parts of the body. Police say Magnotta and Lin were in a relationship.  During the hearing, Magnotta stood silently between two guards, handcuffed and wearing a brown shirt. He said just one word to his defense lawyer. Panaccio told his client that he hoped to speak with him later Tuesday.  "If you wish to call me at home tonight, I'd be pleased to talk about this," Panaccio told Magnotta.  "Okay," the suspect replied before being led away to detention.  His appearance lasted about three minutes.  Magnotta faces charges including first-degree murder, defiling a corpse, threatening the prime minister and using the mail system for delivering "obscene, indecent, immoral or scurrilous" material.  Prosecutor Helene DiSalvo said authorities will meet with Lin's family, who traveled to Canada after hearing of his death. She said finding the head is important to both the case and the victim's family.  The case became known when a package containing a severed foot was found at Canada's ruling Conservative Party headquarters on May 29. That same day, a hand was discovered at a postal facility, addressed to the Liberal Party of Canada.  Lin's torso was found in a suitcase at a garbage dump in Montreal outside Magnotta's apartment building.  About a week later, the missing foot and hand were found mailed to two schools in Vancouver. Police said notes were included in most of the packages but declined to say what they said.  Magnotta, who fled to Canada before the killing was discovered, spent a few days partying in Paris before moving on to Berlin, where he was caught earlier this month as he read stories about himself at an Internet cafe.  He did not contest his extradition from Germany and arrived Monday in Montreal on a military plane.  Police called the Canadian military flight an extraordinary measure. Police said preliminary checks with private airlines suggested it would be difficult to use a standard commercial carrier to get Magnotta home. Among the problems: the airline would have had to vacate an entire section of seats around the suspect.  China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Tuesday that China was monitoring developments and hoped that there would be justice to give "the victim a result that can have him rest in peace."

Magnotta trial starts next year

Jun 21, 2012 Associated Press

MONTREAL (AP) — A Canadian porn actor accused of dismembering his Chinese lover and mailing his body parts around the country appeared in person before a judge for the first time and requested a trial by jury.  The parents of Luka Magnotta's alleged victim watched on a video screen at the Thursday hearing.  Magnotta's lawyer did not seek a psychiatric evaluation for his client at the hearing in Montreal, even though the defense team had said it would. Defense attorney Luc Leclair offered no explanation about why no evaluation was requested.  Magnotta, 29, has pleaded not guilty to five charges, including first-degree murder, in the death of university student Jun Lin.  The hearing focused on setting the date for Magnotta's next court appearance. The suspect was told he would face a preliminary hearing in March when evidence against him will be disclosed.  That means it will be well into next year before the trial starts in a case that horrified Canadians and sparked an international manhunt that led to Magnotta's arrest in Berlin earlier this month.  Jean-Pascal Boucher of the Quebec prosecutors' office said it was "normal delay" and the court date was "relatively soon considering the availability of both counsel and the judge and room."  Leclair asked for trial by jury, which would take longer than a trial before a judge. He also told Judge Jean-Pierre Boyer he was concerned his client wasn't receiving proper care.  "I want to express my concern for his physical well-being and his mental well-being," Leclair said.  The judge agreed to make a request to ensure that Magnotta received medication, but he placed a publication ban on the type of medication.  Magnotta's physical appearance in court was a surprise. Security around the suspect has been very strict, and he entered his plea of not guilty via videoconference at his arraignment Tuesday.  Wearing a plaid shirt and jeans, Magnotta kept his eye on the judge from behind a glass partition, flanked by two guards. Four other guards stood outside the glass box.  Lin's parents, who traveled to Canada from China upon learning of their son's death, watched the proceedings on a screen in a separate room, Boucher said.  The case emerged after a package containing a severed foot was opened at Canada's ruling Conservative Party headquarters on May 29. Other body parts were later found at a postal facility, a garbage dump outside Magnotta's apartment building in Montreal, and in packages mailed to two schools in Vancouver.  Investigators say Magnotta posted a video online showing him having sex with the dismembered corpse. A second, unedited version of the video seen by police shows him eating parts of the body.  DNA tests have confirmed that all the body parts belong to Lin, a Chinese national studying computer science at Concordia University. His head is still missing.

Police say head belongs Canada body parts victim

July 4, 2012  Associated Press 

MONTREAL (AP) — A human head found in a park belongs to a Chinese student who police say was dismembered by a Canadian porn actor, authorities in Montreal confirmed Wednesday. The head of Jun Lin was the last body part still missing since he was killed and dismembered in May. Luka Magnotta is accused of dismembering his lover Lin and mailing the body parts to Canadian political parties and schools. He pleaded not guilty to murder charges last month. Lin's head was the only remaining missing body part until Sunday, when Lemieux said investigators found it in Park Angrignon after the major crimes unit received a tip. The park is a few miles (kilometers) south of Magnotta's apartment. "It had been there for quite some time, but we won't go into details, partly out of respect for the family and friends of the victim," said Lemieux. "What is important is what we were looking for has been found and the rest of the investigation can continue." Montreal police spokesman Robert St-Onge said police now believe that they have recovered all of Lin's remains. He said the family, which has been seeking closure, has been informed. Investigators say Magnotta, 29, posted a video online showing him having sex with the dismembered corpse. A second, unedited version of the video seen by police shows him eating parts of the body. Police say Magnotta and Lin were in a relationship. The case became known when a package containing a severed foot was found at Canada's ruling Conservative Party headquarters on May 29. That same day, a hand was discovered at a postal facility, addressed to the Liberal Party of Canada. Lin's torso was found in a suitcase at a garbage dump in Montreal outside Magnotta's apartment building. About a week later, a missing foot and hand were found mailed to two schools in Vancouver. Police said notes were included in most of the packages but declined to say what they said. Magnotta, who fled to Europe before the body was discovered, spent a few days partying in Paris before moving on to Berlin, where he was caught last month as he read stories about himself at an Internet cafe. He did not contest his extradition from Germany and arrived in Montreal last month on a Canadian military plane. Lin's family arrived in Montreal last month and attended a memorial service last week. Lin, 33, studied computer science student at Montreal's Concordia University. Magnotta has opted for a jury trial and is expected to have a preliminary hearing next March. Along with a first-degree murder charge, Magnotta is charged with defiling Lin's corpse. He is also charged with harassing Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and members of Parliament, and publishing and mailing obscene material.

 

US recovers apparent remains of WWII airmen 

PHIL COUVRETTE, Associated Press 
Monday, July 30, 2012
OTTAWA (AP) — U.S. divers searching the wreckage of a U.S. Army amphibious plane that went down in the St. Lawrence River during World War II have recovered what appear to be remains of the crew that went missing nearly seven decades ago.   The plane, a PBY-5A Catalina based in Presque Isle, Maine, had completed the first leg of a routine flight and was taking off for the return trip to base when it capsized in rough weather in the eastern Gulf of Saint Lawrence on Nov. 2, 1942.   Four of the nine people on board were pulled to safety before the plane sank.   Parks Canada discovered the plane in 2009 while conducting a survey near the village of Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan in eastern Quebec.  Earlier this month, the Joint Prisoners of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command, a federal agency that works to recover members of the military who are missing in action, dispatched a 50-person team on the USS Grapple to investigate the site in the hopes of recovering the remains of the missing. Marc-Andre Bernier, the chief underwater archaeologist for Parks Canada, said from the vessel Monday that some of what appears to be remains has been found and will be sent to a lab to be identified.  The search teams were withholding further details out of respect for the families, he said. The remains were to be transported to a laboratory in Hawaii.   Divers also found a trove of items that amounts to a time capsule of the war years, he said. Sunglasses, navigation and radio equipment, kitchen items as well as a log of operations were recovered.   "The paper is still readable, you can see the typewritten print, it's a list of procedures for the radio," he said. "It's quite phenomenal."   The plane had been left undisturbed until the U.S. divers arrived, Bernier said, save for the intrusion of cameras to have an idea of the conditions inside.   Members of the public also made sure the site remained undisturbed over the years, he said.   The plane was serving an emergency airfield in Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan during the war as part of a corridor linking the U.S. to Europe.   After failing to take off following a first attempt, due to high waves, the plane attempted a second takeoff at higher speed but hit a large wave which opened a leak, flooding it with water.   Local fishermen were able to pull the survivors to safety despite the rough seas, according to accounts of the incident.   U.S. officials say the search for the more than 83,000 Americans missing from past conflicts remains of utmost importance.   "This recovery effort is a solemn and significant undertaking," U.S. Consul General Peter O'Donohue said in a statement on the recovery operation. "For the United States, this is a sacred mission to honor those who served their country to the last."

Woman drowns while getting wedding photos taken 

Associated Press 
August 24, 2012, 9:30 PM
RAWDON, Quebec - A woman drowned after being pulled under the water by a strong current while she was having photos taken in her wedding dress near waterfalls, Quebec police said Friday.  Sgt. Ronald McInnis of the Quebec provincial police said her body was recovered about four hours after she disappeared under the water. Police had originally said she fell from a cliff and tumbled into the waterfall but later corrected that.  The woman was married on June 9 and was having photos taken in her dress with the picturesque Dorwin Falls as a backdrop in Rawdon, north of Montreal.  While she was being photographed with her feet in the water the dress became saturated with water, leaving her unable to stay above water, police said.  The photographer and a bystander tried to rescue her but were unable to because of the weight of the dress, McInnis said.  She slipped under the water and her body was later recovered in a basin about 100 feet away by a diver, he said.  McInnis said family members at the location Friday evening. He said two witnesses had to be hospitalized and treated for shock.

Police investigate massive maple syrup theft 

August 31, 2012  
ST-LOUIS-DE-BLANDFORD, Quebec (AP) — Police in Quebec were following the scent of something sweet — millions of dollars' worth of maple syrup missing from a large warehouse stocking over $30 million worth of the amber nectar.   The theft puts a cavity-sized dent in Quebec's syrup stock, considered to be a global strategic reserve of the sweet stuff that is often used to replenish markets during disappointing seasons. Quebec produces up to 80 percent of the world's maple syrup.  Quebec Provincial Sgt. Claude Denis said Friday it was too soon to determine the exact quantity or value of the maple syrup stolen from the St. Louis-De-Blandford facility where over 10 million pounds (4.54 million kilograms) is stored.   The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers said it discovered the missing syrup last week during a routine inventory where empty barrels were found at the site at St-Louis-de-Blandford, Quebec. Officials initially kept the news quiet, hoping it would help police solve the crime.  Anne-Marie Granger Godbout, the executive director of the federation, said that while it isn't unusual for individual maple syrup producers to have stock stolen, having millions worth of syrup stolen is "unusual".  "It's the first time something like this has happened," she said. "We've never seen a robbery of this magnitude."  She said the disappearance of the stock wasn't obvious at first in the huge warehouse. The facility alone houses nearly the equivalent of half the entire U.S. production of maple syrup in a year, she said.  "The U.S. market is the main market for maple syrup, about 75 percent of Canadian maple syrup is directly exported to the U.S.," she said. She noted the theft was particularly ill-timed after a disappointing 2012 season for U.S. producers, triggering more demand for Canadian syrup.  She said auditors would require a few more days to determine how many of the 45-gallon barrels have been emptied.  Theft of stock at the individual producer level prompted the industry in Quebec to group inventory in locations such as this, Granger Godbout said.

Quebec separatist party may return to power

PHIL COUVRETTE, Associated Press 
Sept. 3, 2012  
GATINEAU, Quebec - Voters in Quebec head to the polls Tuesday in an election that may see a separatist party return to power, potentially placing the French-speaking province on course for another referendum to break away from Canada.   Liberal leader Jean Charest, who has headed Quebec for nearly a decade, called an early election on Aug. 1, and has consistently trailed in the polls to Pauline Marois' Parti Quebecois. But some polls indicate Marois - who could become the province's first female premier - may not have enough votes to obtain a majority of the seats in the Quebec Assembly, undermining efforts to quickly hold a referendum on separation.   Quebec has held two referendums to split from Canada, in 1980 and 1995, the last narrowly rejecting independence.   Polls show there's little appetite for a new referendum and Marois herself has left much uncertainty about if and when one would be held under a PQ government. A recent poll showed support for independence under 30 percent but analysts say voters are weary of the Liberals after three terms in office and the PQ are expected to benefit from that.     The PQ has said once elected it would seek a transfer of powers from the federal government in areas like employment insurance and immigration policy. The PQ believes if this is turned down it would bolster their case that Quebec should be a separate country.   The campaign has been a three-way race involving a new party, Coalition Avenir Quebec, headed by a former PQ minister who says the separation issue has paralyzed the province for far too long.   Charest called the election more than a year before he had to, citing unrest in the streets due to this spring's student protests over tuition hikes. The most sustained student protests ever to take place in Canada began in February, resulting in about 2,500 arrests.   Polls showed the Quebecois were more likely to side with the government on the need for a tuition hike, but they were divided on an emergency law brought in place to limit demonstrations. Politicians and rights groups have said the legislation restricts the right to demonstrate.    But education was hardly a major topic during the campaign, Charest seeking to focus voters on the need to maintain a stable government promoting job creation during troubled global economic times instead of electing separatists who would create uncertainty. He stressed his province has largely been spared the economic hardships seen elsewhere in the West.   Charest has notably touted a northern development plan, the Plan Nord, which his party says would see $80 billion in public and private investment over the next 25 years in areas such as mining and energy, creating thousands of jobs annually and benefiting the entire province.   But Marois says the companies doing business wouldn't be paying enough royalties and CAQ leader Francois Legault said foreign companies mostly stood to benefit from the project.   Both PQ and Liberals said they would make it harder for foreign companies to take over Canadian ones, an issue brought to the fore as Mooresville, North Carolina-based Lowe's seeks to take over Quebec-based hardware chain Rona.    Critics say Charest called the snap vote to avoid any embarrassment from an ongoing corruption inquiry into the province's construction industry, which is expected to resume after a summer break and has been largely overshadowed by the student protests.   After nine years the Quebecois have grown wary of the Liberals and are reluctant to re-elect them considering the corruption allegations and a student unrest that evolved into a larger social protest, says Concordia political science professor Bruce Hicks.   "Quebecers tend to tire of the government and throw them out," he says. "It's sort of been the tradition in Quebec politics."   But Hicks still considers the election "up for grabs" considering the number of people who remain uncertain about how they will vote.    Two-thirds of Quebec voters want nothing to do with sovereignty, Hicks says. But even if it doesn't come to a new referendum, the election of a PQ government would make for tense relations with the federal government and a conservative prime minister who has difficulty appealing to the Quebecois.   "At the very least the rhetoric is going to increase but I suspect tensions and conflict will rise as well," he says.

Polls open in election that may see Quebec separatist party return to power 

By PHIL COUVRETTE, Associated Press
Sep 4, 2012   
MONTREAL (AP) — People in Quebec weighed returning a separatist party to power as they voted Tuesday in the French-speaking province, which could edge toward another referendum to break away from Canada if the Parti Quebecois ends nearly a decade of Liberal rule as expected. Liberal leader Jean Charest, who has headed Quebec for nearly a decade, has consistently trailed in the polls to Pauline Marois' Parti Quebecois since he called an early election on Aug. 1. But most polls indicate Marois — who could become the province's first female premier — will not have enough votes to obtain a majority of the seats in the Quebec Assembly, undermining efforts to quickly hold a referendum on separation. Quebec has held two referendums to split from Canada, in 1980 and 1995, the last narrowly rejecting independence. Polls show there's little appetite for a new referendum and Marois herself has left much uncertainty about if and when one would be held under a PQ government. A recent poll showed support for independence under 30 percent, but analysts say voters are weary of the Liberals after three terms in office. Quebec voters became tired of the Liberal party after corruption allegations surfaced against the party and student protests erupted this spring, said Bruce Hicks, a political science professor at Concordia University in Montreal. "Quebecers tend to tire of the government and throw them out," he said. "It's sort of been the tradition in Quebec politics." Voting was swift in many corners of the province, with more than half of voters casting ballots almost three hours before the polls closed at 8 p.m. EDT (1200 GMT), according to election officials. Ballot counting started shortly afterward. Walking out of a downtown Montreal polling station, Djessy Monnier, 41, said it was time for a change of government and he voted for the PQ. However, he said a third referendum shouldn't be a priority. "Someone is going to have to find a solution to the student conflict," he said. Voters elect representatives for seats in Quebec's 125 districts, a single party needs to obtain 63 seats to form a majority. Without a majority a party will need to form a coalition to govern. When the legislature was dissolved the Liberals held 64 seats and the PQ 47 with other parties and independents dividing the rest of the seats. One seat was vacant. "This could be a historic day as we could elect a first woman head of state in Quebec," Marois said before voting. More autonomy for Quebec is high on the agenda for the PQ, which has said it would seek a transfer of powers from the federal government in areas like employment insurance and immigration policy. If those measures are rejected, the party believes it would have a stronger case for independence. Visiting a candidate's constituency office north of Montreal, a crucial battle zone, Charest said Tuesday that Quebec's electors had to choose between "stability, jobs and the economy and those who would propose referendums and instability." The campaign has been a three-way race involving a new party, Coalition Avenir Quebec, headed by former PQ minister Francois Legault, who says the separation issue has paralyzed the province for far too long. Entering his polling station to vote, Legault said he was confident of the day's results. "This is a historic day, a new era is beginning," he said, adding it was time to "put aside disagreements on referendums and begin a new change, a cleanup and re-launch of Quebec." Charest called the election more than a year before he had to, citing unrest in the streets due to this spring's student protests over tuition hikes. The most sustained student protests ever to take place in Canada began in February, resulting in about 2,500 arrests. Polls showed the Quebecois were more likely to side with the government on the need for a tuition hike, but they were divided on an emergency law brought in place to limit demonstrations. Politicians and rights groups have said the legislation restricts the right to demonstrate.  Education was hardly a major topic during the campaign. Charest sought to focus voters on the need to maintain a stable government promoting job creation during troubled global economic times, instead of electing separatists who would create uncertainty. He stressed his province has largely been spared the economic hardships seen elsewhere in the West. Charest has notably touted a northern development plan, the Plan Nord, which his party says would see $80 billion in public and private investment over the next 25 years in areas such as mining and energy, creating thousands of jobs annually and benefiting the entire province. But Marois says the companies doing business wouldn't pay enough royalties. Legault said foreign companies mostly stood to benefit from the project. Both PQ and the Liberals said they would make it harder for foreign companies to take over Canadian entities, an issue brought to the fore as North Carolina-based Lowe's seeks to take over Quebec-based hardware chain Rona. Critics say Charest called the snap vote to avoid any embarrassment from an ongoing corruption inquiry into the province's construction industry, which is expected to resume after a summer break and has been largely overshadowed by the student protests. But Hicks, the political scientist, still considers the election "up for grabs" considering the number of people who remain uncertain about how they will vote.  Two-thirds of Quebec voters want nothing to do with sovereignty, Hicks says. But even if it doesn't come to a new referendum, the election of a PQ government would make for tense relations with the federal government and a conservative prime minister who has difficulty appealing to the Quebecois. "At the very least the rhetoric is going to increase but I suspect tensions and conflict will rise as well," he says.

Separatist party wins power in Quebec 

By PHIL COUVRETTE, Associated Press
Sep 5, 2012  
MONTREAL — A separatist party won power in the French-speaking province of Quebec on Tuesday night, but another referendum to break away from Canada isn’t ­expected any time soon after the party failed to win a majority of legislative seats.  Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois, who becomes Quebec’s first female premier, replaces Liberal Jean Charest, Quebec’s leader for nearly a decade.  With opinion polls showing little popular appetite for a new separatist referendum, Marois herself has left much uncertainty about if and when one would be held under a government her party leads.  But more autonomy for Quebec is high on the agenda for her party, which has said it would seek a transfer of ­powers from the federal government in areas like employment insurance and immigration policy. If those measures are rejected, the party believes it would have a stronger case for independence.  Without a majority in the Quebec Assembly, however, the party will need to work with other parties to pass legislation, and the results will undermine efforts to quickly hold a referendum on separation.

Shooter mars election win in Quebec

By PHIL COUVRETTE, Associated Press
Sep 5, 2012  
MONTREAL — A gunman has opened fire during a midnight victory rally for Quebec's new premier, killing one person and wounding another.  The new premier, Pauline Marois of the separatist Parti Quebecois (PQ), was whisked off the stage while giving her speech and uninjured.  It was not clear if the gunman was trying to shoot Marois, whose party favours separation for the French-speaking province from Canada.  Police identified the gunman only as a 50-year-old man and said he opened fire in the back of the hall while Marois was giving her victory speech to hundreds of supporters at the Metropolis auditorium. The gunman then fled outside where he set a small fire before he was captured, police said.  Police said they didn't know the gunman's motive, but said that as he was being dragged towards the police cruiser, the suspect shouted in French, "The English are waking up!"  Marois returned to the stage after the shooting and asked the crowd to peacefully disperse. The attack shocked Canadians who are not used to such violence at political events.  The suspect was wearing a blue bathrobe over black clothes. Camera footage showed a pistol and a rifle at the scene. Emergency medical workers said one victim was pronounced dead at the scene and a second person was wounded. A third person was treated for shock.  The separatist party won the election, but failed to win a majority of legislative seats. Though the Parti Quebecois wants the province to break away from Canada, its victory is unlikely to signal a new push for independence.  Opinion polls show little appetite for a separatist referendum after previous ones had been rejected by voters in 1980 and 1995. Marois herself has left much uncertainty about if and when one would be held. But her party will push for more autonomy from the federal government.  The attack took place just after Marois began speaking in English - a rare occurrence in a speech at a partisan PQ event. She had promised English-speaking Quebecers that their rights would be protected, following an emotionally charged campaign that saw her party focus on language-and-identity issues.  Earlier in the evening, people in the crowd booed when they heard outgoing Liberal Premier Jean Charest speak English in his concession speech. Charest spent nearly 10 years in power.

Suspect IDed in Quebec election rally shooting 

By PHIL COUVRETTE and ROB GILLIES — 
Sep. 5, 2012 7:05 PM
MONTREAL (AP) — Police interrogated a man accused of opening fire at a midnight victory rally for Quebec's new separatist premier, but they said the suspect's rambling statements in French and English offered no immediate motive for the shooting that killed one man and wounded another.  A police official on Wednesday identified the suspect as Richard Henry Bain, 62, from La Conception, Quebec. The police official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the suspect had not been charged.  Police said Bain will likely appear in court Thursday morning. Meanwhile, people who know Bain, the owner of a hunting and fishing resort, recalled his complaints about bureaucracy but could think of no political grievances he held.  Quebec provincial police said the masked gunman wearing a bathrobe opened fire just outside the building where Pauline Marois of the separatist Parti Quebecois was giving her victory speech.  The gunman was heard shouting "The English are waking up!" in French as police dragged him away.  Marois was whisked off the stage by guards and was not injured. She later called the shooting an isolated event and said it was probably a case of a person who has "serious health issues."  "I am deeply affected by this, but I have to go forward and assume my responsibilities," Quebec's first female premier said Wednesday, calling Quebec a non-violent society. "An act of folly cannot rid us of this reality."  The attack shocked Canadians who are not used to such violence at political events and have long worried that gun violence more often seen in the U.S. could become more common in their country.  Police said a 48-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene and a 27-year-old man was wounded but would survive. A third man was treated for shock. Police didn't identify the victims, but they worked at production company Productions du Grand Bambou Inc, a person answering the phone at the Montreal company confirmed.  It was not clear if the gunman was trying to shoot Marois, whose party favors separation from Canada for the French-speaking province.  Marois had just declared her firm conviction that Quebec needs to be a sovereign country when she was pulled off the stage.  "What's going on?" she asked her security detail. The crowd apparently was unaware of what had happened.  Marois said that when she first went backstage, she saw that someone was wounded and there was a fire outside, but she thought everything was under control.  Police initially said the gunman made it into the building, but later said they believe he opened fire just outside in the back alley. The gunman then lit a small fire before he was captured, police said.  He didn't put up any resistance, said Lieut. Guy Lapointe of the provincial police.  "We can't establish at this point what the motive or intent was," Lapointe said. "Was he targeting Madame Marois? I'll tell you a lot of things were said by this individual after they arrested him, in French and English."  Police had dealt with the suspect previously for a minor incident, Lapointe said.  Marois later returned to the stage and asked the crowd to disperse peacefully, and then seemed to finish her speech. She left the hall amid a tight cordon of provincial police bodyguards.  The suspect was a heavy-set man wearing a black ski or balaclava mask, glasses and a blue bathrobe over a black shirt and black shorts. Police didn't identify what weapons he had, but camera footage showed a pistol and a rifle at the scene.  Police said there is no reason to believe anyone else was involved.  Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement that he was "angered and saddened" by the shooting. "It is a tragic day where an exercise of democracy is met with an act of violence," Harper said.  Outgoing Liberal Premier Jean Charest, who announced he is stepping down as party leader after ruling Quebec for nearly a decade, said "Quebec has been struck directly in the heart" by the shooting.  Bain owns a hunting and fishing resort near the ski resort area of Mont Tremblant, Quebec, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) north of Montreal.  A list of members of the Mont Tremblant Chamber of Commerce describes Richard Bain as the owner of Les Activités Rick, which promotes itself as a major fly-fishing destination. The site was pulled down Wednesday with the message "This account has been suspended." The phone number listed was out of service.  Marie-France Brisson, director general in the municipality of La Conception, said Bain frequently met with community officials, notably to expand his outdoor activities. His requests included exclusive rights to local land, which involved complicated processes that sometimes frustrated him, she said.  Brisson said Bain dealt with them in French, not English, though it was broken French. He complained about red tape, but there were no outbursts about language, she added.  Brisson said she last saw Bain in recent weeks and there was no change in his usual demeanor.  Jean Benoit Daigneault, of tour and charter helicopter company Heli-tremblant, said he and Bain met on a few occasions, but he wasn't aware of any grievances Bain had with the Parti Quebecois.  Wednesday morning's attack took place just after Marois began speaking in English — a rare occurrence in a speech at a partisan PQ event. She had promised English-speaking Quebecers that their rights would be protected, following an emotionally charged campaign that saw her party focus on language-and-identity issues.  The party's victory is unlikely to signal a new push for independence. Opinion polls show little appetite for a separatist referendum. Previous referendums on separatism were rejected by voters in 1980 and 1995.  The last outbreak of major political violence in Quebec occurred in the 1970s, when Canadian soldiers were deployed after terrorist acts by a group seeking independence. Members of the militant FLQ kidnapped and killed Quebec's labor minister and later abducted, then freed, a British diplomat. The "October Crisis" was considered one of the darkest periods in modern Canadian history.  

Quebec election shooting suspect faces 16 charges 

By PHIL COUVRETTE, Associated Press
Sep 6, 2012   MONTREAL (AP) — The suspect in a deadly shooting at a rally following the election of Quebec's new separatist premier was arraigned Thursday on 16 charges, including murder, attempted murder and possession of explosives. Richard Henry Bain, 61, of La Conception, Quebec, made his first appearance in court behind protective glass after being accused of opening fire outside the midnight victory rally Tuesday for Pauline Marois of the Parti Quebecois. Prosecutors said that after the shooting, Bain used a flare to light a small fire. The heavyset Bain, dressed in white, appeared calm and alert during his appearance in the highly secured courtroom. He spoke briefly with his court-appointed lawyer but did not address the court, and there was no plea. Bain is scheduled to return to court Oct. 11. The shooting killed Denis Blanchette, 48, and wounded a 27-year-old just outside a Montreal theater. The suspect's gun jammed after the initial shots were fired, a Quebec police official said Thursday, possibly saving lives. Prosecutor Eliane Perreault said outside the courtroom that Bain had two weapons on him and three more in his car nearby. She said the weapon used in the shooting was a legally registered long gun. Weapons charges include negligent storage of weapons and ammunition. Among the weapons in his possession were a 9 mm Luger, a Beretta, a Ceska Zbrojovka carbine, a semi-automatic 22LR and .357 Magnum revolver. Bain, who owns a hunting and fishing lodge, had many more guns at home including shotguns, almost all of which were registered, Perreault said. When asked if Bain targeted the premier, Perreault said only that there might be additional charges. She said authorities were continuing to investigate the motive. Bain was in a "proper state of mind" to appear in court after spending some time in a hospital, she said. Elferide Duclercville, Bain's court-appointed lawyer, said she had not been able to meet her client before court and was rushing after the hearing to continue their brief discussion of a few seconds while he was in the box. Police have said there is no reason to believe anyone else was involved in the shooting. Marois was whisked off the stage by guards and was not injured. She called the shooting an isolated event and said it was probably a case of a person who has "serious health issues." The attack shocked Canadians, who are not used to such violence at political events and have long worried that gun violence more often seen in the U.S. could become more common in their country. Neighbors and acquaintances of Bain said he was a friendly but often frustrated businessman who had overseen several failed ventures but never had any public outbursts, leaving them to wonder how he could be charged with such crimes. The masked gunman, wearing a bathrobe, was shown on television ranting and shouting "The English are waking up!" in French as police dragged him away after Tuesday's shooting. He didn't put up any resistance, said Lieut. Guy Lapointe of the provincial police. People who know Bain, whose lodge is 90 miles (145 kilometers) north of Montreal, recalled his complaints about bureaucracy but could think of no political grievances he held. The mayor of La Conception, Maurice Plouffe, said he was "very surprised" to hear Bain was tied to the shooting and said the images of the suspect being dragged away by police "were not easy to watch." Plouffe said Bain was sometimes frustrated in his dealings with the city after seeing a number of zoning requests were rebuffed, but he added, "I have never seen him become aggressive; he was quite normal." A man full of ideas and proposals, Bain, however, seemed unlucky in his business ventures. "He had many projects, but not many of them materialized," Plouffe said. A list of members of the Mont Tremblant Chamber of Commerce describes Richard Bain as the owner of Les Activités Rick, which promotes itself as a major fly-fishing destination. The shooting victims worked at production company Productions du Grand Bambou Inc, a person answering the phone at the Montreal company confirmed. Friends of Blanchette, a lighting technician, packed a downtown Montreal street Wednesday night for a candlelight vigil outside the hall where he was killed. It was still not clear if the gunman was trying to shoot Marois, whose party favors separation from Canada for the French-speaking province. Marois had just declared her firm conviction that Quebec needs to be a sovereign country when she was pulled off the stage. "What's going on?" she asked her security detail. The crowd apparently was unaware of what had happened. The separatist Parti Quebecois party's victory is unlikely to signal a new push for independence. Opinion polls show little appetite for a separatist referendum. Previous referendums on separatism were rejected by voters in 1980 and 1995.

Canada severs all ties with Iran 

Sept. 08, 2012 Associated Press  
TORONTO - Canada shut its embassy in Tehran on Friday, severed diplomatic relations and ordered Iranian diplomats to leave, accusing the Islamic Republic of being the most significant threat to world peace.  The surprise action reinforces the Conservative government's close ties with Tehran's arch foe Israel but also removes some of Washington's eyes and ears inside the Iranian capital.  It comes as Iran's talks with world powers over its nuclear program have stalled, and Israel is weighing the option of a military strike to prevent it from developing atomic weapons. Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful objectives only. The move also underscores the widening gaps between Western countries' attempts to isolate and punish Iran and Tehran's efforts to forge closer ties with energy-hungry Asian trading partners such as India and Pakistan to counter Western sanctions.  Iran's recent push to bolster and redefine its links with Asia makes the break with Canada a less serious blow to Tehran than it would have been years ago.  Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said that the Canadian Embassy in Tehran would close immediately and Iranian diplomats in Canada have been given five days to leave.  A spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry, Ramin Mehmanparast, called Canada's decision "hasty and extreme" and said that Iran would soon respond, the semiofficial Fars news agency reported.  A note in Persian posted on the door of Iran's embassy in Ottawa read: "Because of the hostile decision by the government of Canada, the embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Ottawa is closed and has no choice but to stop providing any consular services for its dear citizens."  Baird said Canada was officially designating Iran a state sponsor of terrorism and gave a long list of reasons for Canada's decision, including Tehran's support for Syria's embattled President Bashar al-Assad in that country's civil war.  "The Iranian regime is providing increasing military assistance to the Assad regime; it refuses to comply with U.N. resolutions pertaining to its nuclear program; it routinely threatens the existence of Israel and engages in racist anti-Semitic rhetoric and incitement to genocide," Baird said in a statement. "It is among the world's worst violators of human rights; and it shelters and materially supports terrorist groups."  Baird said he also was worried about the safety of diplomats in Tehran following attacks on the British embassy.  Britain downgraded ties with Iran following an attack on its embassy in Tehran in November 2011, which it insists was sanctioned by the Islamic Republic's ruling elite. After the attack, Britain pulled all of its diplomats out of Iran and expelled Iranian diplomats from U.K. soil.

UN chief gets pranked by Quebec radio station 

By MARIA SANMINIATELLI and PHIL COUVRETTE 
Associated Press – Fri, Sep 28, 2012 
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Former victims include Bill Gates, Mick Jagger, Britney Spears and Sarah Palin. This week, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon joined the ranks of those pranked by a Quebec radio station, his office confirmed Thursday. Montreal comedy duo Marc-Antoine Audette and Sebastien Trudel called Ban on Wednesday afternoon and pretended to be Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. "He quickly realized it was a prank ... and he took it as it was intended: as a joke," said Eri Kaneko, associate spokeswoman for Ban's office. Known as the Masked Avengers, the two are notorious for prank calls to celebrities and heads of state. The duo said in a news release that the world's top diplomat was rushed out of an important meeting to speak to them. Quebec City radio station CKOI played excerpts of the prank Thursday, and was planning on broadcasting the entire call Friday. During the call, Ban appears to become suspicious when fake Harper complains he was too busy combing his hair with Krazy Glue to attend this week's ministerial meeting of the U.N. General Assembly — a clear dig at the Canadian prime minister's immaculate hairdo. "Excuse me, am I speaking with Prime Minister Harper right now?" Ban is quoted as saying. Fake Harper begins the call in French by explaining why he sent his "lap dog," Foreign Minister John Baird to New York in his place. Audette said he was surprised by how quickly they got to Ban after talking to about half a dozen people on the phone. "We thought it would take us a few days to get the secretary-general on the phone," he said. Audette played Harper, while Trudel acted as his aide. The joke on Ban came during his busiest week of the year, when leaders from all over the world converge to headquarters in New York. "Perhaps this was not the best use of his time," Kaneko said. "In the future, we will be listening extra hard for poor French accents for any calls coming from Canada." Nevertheless, Ban was a good sport, the prankster said. "He was very cool about it, even laughed," Audette said. "He's very likeable." "Well played," Harper's spokesman tweeted about the prank.

Son of late Trudeau to run for Liberal leadership               

PHIL COUVRETTE 
October 2, 2012 09:10 PM EST 
MONTREAL (AP) — Hoping to turn around the fortunes of Canada's once-dominant Liberal Party, the eldest son of the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau announced Tuesday evening he was following his father's footsteps and launching his bid to obtain the party's leadership.  Justin Trudeau, 40, a charismatic member of Parliament since 2008, made the announcement in front of hundreds of supporters packing a community center in his Montreal district, ending days of speculation and adding sizzle to the political contest which officially begins next month and ends in April 2013.  Many Liberals hoped Trudeau would run for the leadership of a party that ruled Canada for much of the last century but was regulated to third-party status in the last election.  "I am in love with Canada. I want to dedicate my life to serve it," Trudeau said in French.  Pierre Trudeau, who died at age 80 in 2000, was prime minister for almost all of a 16-year stretch from 1968-84. Sweeping to power on a wave of support nicknamed "Trudeaumania," Trudeau had a charisma reminiscent of another young, dashing politician who had captivated the U.S. eight years earlier – former President John F. Kennedy. Trudeau's sophisticated, sometimes irreverent style fascinated and captivated his country.  Justin Trudeau was born while his father was prime minister, on Christmas Day, 1971.  Justin gave a moving eulogy at his father's state funeral which fed early speculation he would one day seek office, years before he eventually joined the ranks of his father's party.   He said Tuesday he's determined to breathe new life into a party he says has lost touch with middle-class Canadians. He said Canadian families have seen their incomes stagnant, their costs go up and their debts explode. He said the opposition New Democrats have stoked regional resentment and blamed the successful while the ruling Conservatives have chosen to favor western Canada's oil sector and promised that wealth will trickle down eventually.  "Both are tidy ideological answers to complex and difficult questions. The only thing they have in common is that they are both, equally, wrong," Trudeau said.  He said solutions can come from both the right and left and said he will create policies based on facts.  Analysts say Trudeau will have to make it clear his candidacy is more than just about his youthful charm and familiar name.  Trudeau is a big draw at Liberal fundraisers and polls have shown the former teacher to be a party favorite reaching rock-star like status.  Some observers fear Trudeau's leadership bid packs such punch it may turn into a coronation of the party's next leader, scaring away potential contenders. But critics have called him a political lightweight, saying little about major policy issues in his roles overseeing youth, amateur sport and immigration.  "The impression this leaves an outside observer is if he wasn't called Trudeau, no one would be talking about any political ambition," University of Montreal political scientist Pierre Martin said. "We have someone here with a thin CV."  His name and recognition will put him in the spotlight but as a whole he has yet to articulate a clear vision in public, Martin said  Trudeau only jumped into politics four years ago, but turned down offers to represent a usually safe riding to take on a stronghold of the separatist Bloc Quebecois, which he won. He increased his margin of victory in last year's election. But the Liberal Party fared poorly in the 2011 election, finishing in third for the first time in Canadian history and seeing the latest in a succession of party leaders fail to inspire electors amid non-stop attack TV ads by the ruling Conservatives.  It remains to be seen what kind of attack ads the Conservatives will run against a popular Trudeau should he become Liberal leader.  Former colleagues of current Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper say his long-term goals are to shatter the image of the Liberals – the party of former Prime Ministers Trudeau, Jean Chretien and Lester Pearson – as the natural party of government in Canada, and to redefine what it means to be Canadian.  

 

Police seize more than 600 barrels of maple syrup    

Wednesday - 10/3/2012, 8:34pm EDT
KEDJWICK, New Brunswick (AP) - Police in Canada have seized more than 600 barrels of maple syrup in New Brunswick as part of an investigation into the theft of millions worth of syrup in Quebec and are transporting it back to Quebec under police protection, officials said Wednesday.  The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers reported large quantities of syrup missing last month during a routine inventory, finding empty barrels at a site of the province's global strategic reserve at St-Louis-de-Blandford.  Quebec provincial police Sgt. Christine Coulombe said Wednesday police executed a search warrant in Kedjwick, New Brunswick last week, but could not provide more information as the investigation was ongoing.  However, the owner of Kedjwick-based exporter S.K. Export Inc. said police visited last week and told him it was related to the missing syrup. Etienne St-Pierre said his usual suppliers, small producers based in Quebec, sold it to him.  This has left the New Brunswick exporter in a sticky situation. He's been locked out of his office, which he said is under Royal Canadian Mounted Police watch.  "They came in and said we're taking everything, there wasn't much I could do," said Etienne St-Pierre, who said he initially thought the officers were joking.  Saying he has nothing to hide, Etienne St. Pierre has since shown all his paperwork to investigators trying to get to the bottom of the great syrup heist.  The shipment of the pancake-topper was making its way back to Quebec in a heavily guarded convoy of 16 trailer-loads on Wednesday.  "(The convoy's) under police protection going somewhere in Quebec," said Yvon Poitras, the general manager of the New Brunswick Maple Syrup Association.  Quebec is a maple syrup superpower, producing 80 percent of the world's maple syrup and the warehouse involved stocked more than $30 million worth of the sticky substance. 

Man called Canadian mafia figure freed from prison 

Friday, October 5, 2012
FLORENCE, Colo. (AP) — A man described in court documents as the former boss of the Canadian mafia was released Friday from a federal prison in Colorado after serving half of a 10-year sentence in a racketeering case.  Vito Rizzuto pleaded guilty in 2007 to racketeering charges related to three Mafia killings in New York City in 1981. He was released after getting credit for time served and good behavior.  Rizzuto was accused of participating in the fatal shootings at a Brooklyn social club in May 1981 of three captains of the Bonanno crime family — Dominick "Big Trin" Trinchera, Philip "Philly Lucky" Giaccone and Alphonse "Sonny Red" Indelicato.  The men were suspected of plotting to take control of the organization, authorities said.  Crime boss Joseph Massino was sentenced to life in prison in 2005 after pleading guilty to orchestrating those killings and five others.  Children discovered Indelicato's body in 1981 while playing in a vacant lot in Queens that became known as a graveyard for people ordered killed by gangsters.  In 2005, based on evidence from the Massino investigation, authorities returned to the site and unearthed the remains of Giaccone and Trinchera.  Authorities considered Rizzuto the head of Canada's most powerful criminal organization when he was arrested in 2004.  But the organization was battered during his years behind bars, as scores of his associates were arrested. Many were killed. Those slayings straddled three generations of his own family, with his father and his son both gunned down. His brother-in-law has been missing for two years.  Meanwhile, the business dealings of the Rizzutos are under intense scrutiny during a Quebec public inquiry into corruption in the construction industry.  Canadian mob expert and author Antonio Nicaso said Rizzuto returns to a country and a mob scene very different from the one he left.  "The violence of the last few years is a symptom of an ongoing fundamental shift in the nature of organized crime in Quebec," he said. "Before you used to have one strong group, now many players are taking advantage of the situation."  He said it would be difficult to replace the Rizzuto family but more difficult to replace the political and financial connections the family was able to build in the past 30 years.  Nicaso said no group is capable of doing that.  Police will probably watch Rizzuto's every move, making it difficult for him to operate or for others to harm him, Nicaso said.  He described Montreal in particular as "a powder keg."