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2003-5 ARCHIVES

Accused Priest Awaiting Extradition Released
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
January 10, 2003, 3:50 p.m. EST

MONTREAL -- A retired priest facing sex abuse charges in Massachusetts waived his right to an extradition hearing Friday, then was released pending a final appeal.

The Rev. Paul Desilets, 78, has 30 days to submit an appeal to Justice Minister Martin Cauchon, who then has 90 days to make a decision on whether to extradite him, Desilets' lawyer said.

Under terms of his conditional release, Desilets must remain in Quebec and stay away from minors, said the lawyer, Guylaine Lavigne.
Desilets, who lives in a Montreal area nursing home, was arrested in October at the request of U.S. authorities. A Massachusetts grand jury indicted him last year on charges of sexually abusing 18 altar boys between 1978 and 1984 at Our Lady of Assumption Parish in Bellingham. Desilets faces no charges in Canada.

Friday, Quebec Superior Court Judge Andre Denis identified Desilets as the person sought and ruled there was sufficient evidence in the U.S. indictments to proceed with the extradition.

Wearing a dark coat and looking pale and frail, Desilets nodded when asked in French if he understood the proceedings. Through his lawyer, he waived his right to a full extradition hearing.

Lavigne said her client received the conditional release because of his age and frail health, as well as his appearance at all previous hearings. She said Desilets was "having difficulties moving and other health difficulties."

Prosecutor Ginette Gobeil said she had no objection to the conditional release.

Desilets previously has described the claims against him as exaggerated. He has been named in several U.S. lawsuits, and his case was among those cited by critics of Cardinal Bernard Law, the former Boston archbishop who stepped down in December over his handling of numerous claims of abusive priests.

The crisis erupted after the release of previously secret church documents that revealed Law shuffled offending priests from parish to parish, rather than removing them.
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Clone Sect's HQ Full of Sci-Fi Imagery
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Monday, January 20, 2003; 1:42 PM

VALCOURT, Quebec –– From the first sight of a futuristic, curving concrete building amid the barns and grain silos of southern Quebec farmland, something is off-beam.

Entering the headquarters of the Raelian religious sect, past a sign welcoming visitors to UFOland, is like strolling onto the set of a bad 1950s sci-fi movie, complete with a replica of the flying saucer that supposedly brought the space aliens who visited Rael, the sect founder. But the display lights don't work and inflated plastic pool seats create the command post.

This is no theme park, but the Canadian base of a group associated with Clonaid, which stunned the world with the Dec. 26 claim of having cloned a baby but has failed so far to provide proof.

Few believe Clonaid head Brigitte Boisselier's claim, and Rael readily acknowledges it may not have happened.

"If it's real, she deserves the Nobel prize because she is making history and it's the most fantastic scientific advance in history of humanity," Rael said, sitting at a small plastic table with his book and a sign with his Web site address.

"If it's not true, she's also making history with one of the biggest hoaxes in history, so in both ways it's wonderful. Because, thanks to what she is doing now, the whole world knows about the Raelian movement. I am very happy with that."

A former race-car driver and journalist named Claude Vorilhon, Rael wears a pointy-shouldered white outfit, a large silver medallion in the shape of a swirling Star of David around his neck.

With a graying, thin beard and mustache and hair pulled back into a ball, his face has a slight resemblance to the artist's rendition of the extraterrestrial named Yahweh who Rael says came by spacecraft to deliver a message to him on Dec. 13, 1973.

"We were the ones who made all life on earth, you mistook us for gods, we were at the origin of your main religions," the messenger told Rael, according his Web site at www.rael.org. "Now that you are mature enough to understand this, we would like to enter official contact through an embassy."

Despite such conditions for the one-hour interview as referring to him as "his holiness" and avoiding questions that make him repeat himself, Rael came across as calm and charismatic. He smiled and laughed frequently, gesturing gently with his hands.

No matter what subject came up, the answer always seemed to come back to attention for his sect.
Boisselier initially said she would provide DNA proof that an unidentified American woman gave birth to a clone. After a Florida lawyer filed a court motion for the state to take custody of the baby, Boisselier said the parents decided against the DNA testing. The parents have not been identified.

That caused universal dismissal of the cloning claim, though Boisselier says accusations of a huge publicity stunt were the product of prejudice.

Even Rael sought to distance his movement from Clonaid, calling it a separate, independently funded organization and saying he only assists Boisselier – a Raelian bishop – in a "spiritual" capacity.

"She has created a new company, I don't know where. I don't know where the lab is, I don't know the family" of the baby, he said. "I know absolutely nothing, it is her company. I don't know and I don't want to know, I told her, because I never lie, and I don't want to say to you I don't know if I know. Like that I can tell you honestly I don't know."

Yet the more he spoke, the more he seemed to know. He told of finding out about the forthcoming birth of baby Eve at a Christmas party he attended with Boisselier and of later telling her to prevent the child from being taken from her parents.

"If you have to choose between your credibility and reputation and the future of the child and the family, choose the child because it's much more important than your reputation," he said he told Boisselier.

Stopping the DNA tests was correct to prevent "any chance that the child is removed from her family," Rael said.

No matter how it turns out, the story has attracted new Raelians, according to Rael. He put worldwide membership at 60,000, a figure considered grossly exaggerated by those who follow cults.

"A media analyst said the Raelian movement got about $500 million worth of media coverage across the world and I think it is true, and it is not finished," he said, later noting, "This event saved me 20 years of work."

That work involves spreading the word of the Elohim, Hebrew for God or, in Raelian translation, "those who come from the sky" – a technologically advanced species that chose Rael as their spokesman on Earth.

With the help of the Elohim, Rael believes, scientific and technological breakthroughs will make advanced cloning an everyday feat. Eventually, he said, fully grown clones will be downloaded with memory and experiences, like software in a computer, to enable people to achieve eternal life.

Raelians also embrace free love and nonviolence, Rael said, calling Mahatma Gandhi his model.

Standing next to a model of a DNA strand, guide Daniel Heroux, 45, said a desire for something new drew him to the movement 22 years ago.

"I was pretty lost then," Heroux said, mentioning drug use in his past. "When I asked a friend where he derived all his knowledge about everything from politics to sexuality, he said, 'You wouldn't believe me,' and told me about the Raelian presence in Quebec."

Heroux is now an active member, passing out pamphlets and living at UFOland, where he said he can play his keyboard at all hours without disturbing anyone.
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Refugee-Seekers Head to Canada From U.S.
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, January 22, 2003; 1:38 AM

LACOLLE, Quebec –– Ronald Blanchet sees them every day, trudging up the road from the U.S. border post to his Canadian immigration station at the crossing south of Montreal.

Tired, frustrated and usually from Pakistan, refugee-seekers are flocking to this crossing between Lacolle, Quebec, and Champlain, N.Y. They say they want out of the United States because of real or rumored security steps in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"They ask us to register there, so I left," said Farooq, a 26-year-old Pakistani who refused to give his last name, of new U.S. regulations that require nonimmigrants from Pakistan and other countries to register with the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

He was among 21 who turned up on Jan. 16, about triple the usual number seeking political asylum. The night before, Blanchet called in extra help from Montreal's Dorval Airport to deal with a rush of 41 that crammed the immigration office he directs.

From the beginning of the year through Monday, Blanchet's border post had 243 people arrive seeking refugee status. Of those, 171 – 70 percent were Pakistani. In all of 2002, Pakistanis made up 41 percent of those seeking asylum.

Pakistanis feel they have been targeted because their Muslim country used to have close ties to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, and because many al-Qaida fugitives are believed to be hiding there.

In the five days after Christmas, more than 200 people showed up at Lacolle, requiring Blanchet to get a trailer to house them while they awaited processing.

"I'm trying to detect trends," Blanchet said."People are telling me they are moving because they are afraid of the registration program."

The border rush appears mostly isolated to the Lacolle crossing, the main route between Montreal and New York City. Rene Mercier, a spokesman for Canada's immigration department, said he was unaware of any developing trend at other border points.

Farooq flew into New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport from Pakistan on Jan. 14 in hopes of starting a new life. A Shia Muslim, he said he felt threatened by the Sunni Muslim government back home in Sial Kot in eastern Pakistan. Other Pakistanis in New York warned him of trouble, though, saying the new requirement to register with U.S. authorities by Feb. 21 could bring his detention and even deportation.

"They said it was better to go to Canada than stay" in the United States, Farooq said.

So he took a journey made by hundreds in recent weeks, riding a bus from New York City to Plattsburgh, N.Y., then riding a cab to the last highway exit a mile from the border, and walking the rest of the way.

"Now I have no money and no place to stay," he said while waiting to be photographed, fingerprinted and interviewed in a process that can take six hours.

The U.S. registration requirement is part of efforts to better track tens of thousands of foreign visitors, but complaints have emerged of unnecessary detentions of people seeking to register.

Blanchet said that has started rumors in the Pakistani community of New York that registering means getting deported and the Canadian border will soon close to refugee-seekers.

"I think some people are playing with rumors to get money from their clientele," he said.

Janet Dench of the Canadian Council of Refugees in Montreal said new laws in Canada and the United States have caused concern among refugee-seekers. The Canadian regulations include tighter initial screening of refugee applicants, and the two countries have signed an agreement that requires foreigners to apply for refugee status in the country in which they land.

Called the safe third country agreement, it allows Canada to deny entry to refugee claimants crossing the land border from the United States, based on the argument that those claimants already are in a safe place.

That means people like Farooq, who flew to New York and then traveled to Canada to seek refugee status, would be returned to the United States to seek asylum there unless they have family in Canada.

The agreement signed in December has yet to take effect, Mercier said.

When it does, Dench said, Canada will turn away large numbers of refugee-seekers without hearing their cases. She noted a previous influx of Pakistani refugee-seekers occurred in June due to rumors of the safe third country agreement.
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Iraq Crisis Rekindles Quebec's Independent Spirit
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Monday, March 3, 1:55 AM ET  

MONTREAL - The Iraq crisis has kindled strong anti-war sentiment in Quebec, widening the divide with the rest of Canada and boosting the hopes of the separatist movement for a comeback in the French-speaking province.
When Canadians joined the global anti-war demonstrations Feb. 15, more than 100,000 Quebecers turned out in bitterly cold Montreal, many waving the Quebec flag and chanting "Non a la guerre en Irak" in what was by far the nation's largest protest.

Opinion polls indicate Quebec has the strongest anti-war sentiments in Canada. A recent survey showed 61 percent of Quebecers reject Canadian intervention in Iraq, even with U.N. backing, while in the rest of the country, more than 60 percent support a Canadian role if the United Nations authorizes war.

The numbers highlight Quebec's trade and cultural ties with France and its history of questioning Canadian involvement in wars supported by the English-speaking provinces. Backing for Washington is strongest in conservative western provinces such as Alberta.

Although the Iraq issue and the separatist cause aren't linked, Quebec Premier Bernard Landry hopes the anti-war mood will bolster his struggling Parti Quebecois, nine years in power and facing an election this year.

The Iraq issue shows "that there really are two nations in Canada," he said. A war would further divide opinion, showing that Quebec should be sovereign, Landry said.

A few months ago, Landry's party was running third in provincial opinion polls behind the opposition Liberal Party and the upstart Action Democratique du Quebec, a center-right party with support among both English- and French-speakers.

Quebecers were said to be tired of the language disputes that had wracked the province since the 1970s, and content with the concessions that make it the country's most autonomous province.

Now Landry's separatists have caught up, running about even with the ADQ and ahead of the Liberals.

Claude Gauthier, vice president of the CROP polling agency, said a war could give Landry's party a further boost.

"When people are worried about a certain international situation, familiar things are more reassuring than unknown ones," Gauthier said.

More than twice the size of Texas with 7.4 million people, Quebec has been a contentious subject since the 1760s, when the British completed their takeover of what was then called New France.

Its distinctness is reflected in its separate language rights, legal system and immigration rules. But the separatists have failed in two referendums to muster a majority for independence.

Analysts say one reason anti-war sentiment is stronger here is that Quebec gets much of its TV news from France, Europe's leading opponent of war in Iraq, while in English-speaking Canada, CNN is more widely watched than Canadian specialty news channels.

A split over Canada's role in a foreign war is nothing new. In World War II the country was torn between French- and English-speakers in a national referendum on conscription. While 64 percent of Canadians supported it, Quebecers voted 3-1 against it.

"Historically in Quebec, there is a greater opposition to the idea of war," said Jack Jedwab, executive director of the Association of Canadian Studies. He said Quebec's anti-war movement traditionally is more vocal, left-leaning and union-affiliated than elsewhere in the country.

"The Canadian linguistic divide on the Iraq issue is even more apparent when the question of military intervention arises," Jedwab wrote in a recent study titled "Between Old and New Europe: Canadian Opinion on the Possible Invasion of Iraq."
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Airlines further battered by Iraq war, U.N. agency says
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Monday, March 24, 4:37 PM ET

MONTREAL - The war in Iraq is forcing airlines to alter their routes — particularly between Europe and Southeast Asia — and the adjustments could cost the already battered airline industry billions of dollars, the president of the U.N. civil aviation agency said Monday.
Airlines must use longer alternate routes to avoid the conflict area, causing delays averaging 90 minutes and increasing costs related to equipment, crew, fuel and insurance, Assad Kotaite said at the opening of the International Civil Aviation Organization's weeklong conference.

That's bad news for an industry that lost US$12 billion last year due to an estimated drop in traffic of more than 2 percent from 2000 levels, according to Kotaite.

The industry is expected to lose US$10 billion this year, he said.

A long war would make the negative impact "extremely harsh," he said.

The alternate air routes, recently finalized by the ICAO in coordination with concerned states and in cooperation with the International Air Transport Association, circumvent the main combat area.

"Up to this point, the contingency plan has worked well," Kotaite said.

The conference attended by 135 countries is looking at liberalizing the international regulatory framework for air transport with safeguards for fair competition, safety and security.

"At no time in the history of civil aviation has there been a greater need for continuing evolution of a stable regulatory environment for air transport operations," Kotaite said.
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Quebec Separatist Party Seeks Third Term
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Saturday April 12, 3:43 PM ET

MONTREAL - A party created to make French-speaking Quebec independent from Canada seeks a third straight term in power Monday after an election campaign in which it toned down its sovereignty message.
Premier Bernard Landry and his Parti Quebecois face a strong challenge from the Quebec Liberal Party headed by Jean Charest when the province's 5.4 million voters decide who controls the 125 seats in the National Assembly.

A Liberal victory would signal the continued calming of separatist emotions in Quebec, where 80 percent of the population speaks French.

All involved say sovereignty is not the most important issue, but it has been the underlying topic of influence, along with the war in Iraq.

The election comes eight years after Quebecers defeated a sovereignty referendum — the province's second — by less than a percentage point. An inability to maintain momentum for sovereignty caused Landry's predecessor, Lucien Bouchard, to resign unexpectedly in January 2001.

Secure in its Frenchness and less anxious to break free of the Canadian embrace, Quebec has put aside the sovereignty struggle.

Polls show most Quebecers oppose another sovereignty referendum any time soon, and the 66-year-old Landry has responded by softening his message, pledging to put the issue to a vote only when he knows it will succeed.

Charest, 44, scoffs at that.

"Mr. Landry is asking you for a new mandate to make sovereignty his first priority," Charest said during the campaign. "The government that he is proposing to you will use all means...to pursue its first objective, which is to prepare and win the next referendum."

His opinion resonates with non-Francophones, particularly immigrants who fear a sovereign Quebec would favor the French-speaking majority.

"I don't trust him," Armando Loureiro, 48, a Portuguese-born hair stylist in a Liberal stronghold of Montreal, said of Landry. "He wants separation."

The Liberals have strong support among English-speaking Quebecers and immigrant communities that have neither French nor English as a first language. Those groups comprise about 20 percent of the electorate, though, and tend to be concentrated in a small number of ridings, or electoral districts.
That means Charest's party must win almost as many seats as Landry's Parti Quebecois in Francophone ridings, where the core of separatist support resides.

Pollsters say voters want change after almost nine years of Parti Quebecois rule, having tired of the endless talk of sovereignty. While Landry is credited with running a competent government that has brought a stable economy, some wonder if a committed separatist can bring political calm.

That question is even more pertinent because of the Iraq war, which is strongly opposed by a majority of Quebecers.

Landry was expected to benefit from the war, with people generally choosing a stable status quo in times of unease. He has said the province's strong anti-war movement showed that Quebec was a different society from much of English-speaking Canada.

Instead, the lingering sovereignty issue has caused people to choose Charest and the Liberals because they offer cooperation, instead of confrontation, with the rest of Canada, said Anne-Marie Marois of Leger Marketing, a polling firm.
"Jean Charest's challenge was to show that a separatist party could not promote stability," Marois said. "And he has done that, starting with the debate."

The Iraq war dominated media coverage and voter attention when the election campaign formally began March 12, making the lone debate on March 31 the real start of the race.

Charest benefited from the debate, attacking Landry as a separatist and saying the Liberal Party represents change for Quebecers, both separatists and federalists. He made improving a troubled health care system his top priority.

Landry also focused on social issues, proposing policies to benefit young families in an effort to boost the Francophone population growth. His proposals included a four-day work week and tax benefits for families with young children.

Seven other parties are fielding candidates with only one, Action Democratique du Quebec led by Mario Dumont, considered likely to win any seats.

Dumont, 32, and his party had a major rise in popularity last year, embracing conservative policies such as tax cuts to win several by-elections that expanded their seats in the legislature from one to five.

Under the media glare and scrutiny of an election campaign, his party has failed to generate momentum and is running a distant third in polls, expected to get about 15 percent of the vote and perhaps a handful of seats
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Quebec Separatists Fight for Reelection
By Phil Couvrette
The Associated Press
Monday, April 14, 2003; 11:02 AM

MONTREAL - In a topsy-turvy election campaign, Quebec's pro-independence party has played down separation from Canada while the main opposition has sought to keep the issue prominent.

The French-speaking province votes Monday on whether to give Premier Bernard Landry's separatist Parti Quebecois a third straight term in power, and another chance for a sovereignty referendum.

Landry's party, created to make Quebec independent from Canada, faces a strong challenge from the Quebec Liberal Party headed by Jean Charest, a proponent of keeping Quebec in Canada. The Parti Quebecois slogan was "Let's Stay Strong," while the Liberal party countered with, "We're Ready."

More than 5.4 million voters are registered to decide who fills the 125 seats in the National Assembly, as the provincial legislature is known. The party that controls the legislature forms the government.

Opinion polls indicated a race too close to call, after a surge in support for the Liberals in recent weeks. Pollsters say voters want change after nine years of Parti Quebecois rule and a divisive 1995 sovereignty referendum that failed by the narrowest of margins - less than a percentage point.

"After two mandates, that's enough," said Myriam Ferland, 38, voting in the Mont-Royal riding, or district, in Montreal.

Landry, 66, a former finance minister, insists a sovereign Quebec remains his aim. But with polls indicating most Quebecers oppose another referendum any time soon, he has soft-pedaled that issue, saying he would hold another referendum only if it was sure to succeed.

His campaign focused on social issues, proposing benefits for young families with children to promote population growth among the Francophone population.

Responding to the Liberal surge in the polls, Landry spent the final weekend of campaigning attacking his opponent's programs as too expensive and saying Charest would fail to stand up to the federal government on behalf of Quebec.

"The federal government wants Jean Charest as Quebec's advocate," Landry said Sunday. "They know he's not as effective as I could be and I was."
His message resonated with Denise Fortin, a Mont-Royal voter.

"We've had good government during a difficult period," she said. "No party would have done better on health care. We have eliminated deficits. We don't want a return to deficits."

Charest refused to let Landry's separatist leanings get hidden, saying the premier only wanted a chance to hold another referendum. He was careful to acknowledge the legitimacy of the sovereignty movement, calling for those seeking to break from Canada to vote for his party anyway to bring change.

"There will always be a sovereignty movement in Quebec and you have to accept the fact that they defend that idea like I defend mine," he said Sunday.

A Liberal victory would signal the continued calming of separatist sentiment in a province where 80 percent of the people speak French.

While Landry is credited with running a competent government that has brought a stable economy, some wonder if a committed separatist can bring political calm. That question became even more pertinent because of the Iraq war, which is strongly opposed by a majority of Quebecers.

Landry was expected to benefit from the war, with people gravitating to a stable status quo in times of unease. But the Liberals made inroads by arguing they offer cooperation, instead of confrontation, with the rest of Canada, said Anne-Marie Marois of Leger Marketing, a polling firm.

Seven other parties fielded candidates, but only one, Action Democratique du Quebec, was expected to win any seats.
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Separatist Party Defeated in Quebec Vote
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday April 15,10:31 PM

QUEBEC CITY - Quebec voters have ended the Parti Quebecois' nine-year run in office, dooming any efforts soon to seek independence for the province through a referendum.
The Liberal victory on Monday was thorough, reaching across the province, where only eight years ago a sovereignty referendum that failed by less than a percentage point.

A win would have given the Parti Quebecois, which was created to deliver independence, a third-straight term in office and a boost for proponents of holding another referendum within about three years.

But With more than 99 percent of polls reporting, the Liberals led by Jean Charest had 45.9 percent of the votes to 33.2 percent for the Parti Quebecois of Bernard Landry.

In third was the Action Democratique du Quebec at 18.3 percent. The turnout of 3.8 million voters was 70 percent of the 5.4 million eligible.

Stfiling the separatist sentiment was a personal triumph for Prime Minister Jean Chretien, head of the federal Liberal Party, who has battled against Quebec's succession throughout his political career.

"It's a confirmation that the threat of separation has disappeared. This is very, very good for Canada," Chretien told reporters in the Dominican Republic, where he is on a state visit.

In his victory speech, the 44-year-old Charest promised a change from the past acrimony between Quebec's separatist leadership and the rest of Canada, but made clear his allegiance was to the province.

"Our first mission will be to defend Quebec's interest with passion," he said, signaling his intention to challenge the federal government for more tax revenue and other money to help pay for services such as health care.

Opinion polls had indicated a race too close to call, but a surge in support for the Liberals in the final weeks carried over to election day.

Landry, 66, the defeated Parti Quebecois leader, promised to continue the pursuit of sovereignty, acknowledging his goal of another referendum on the issue within 1,000 days had been unpopular.
"But a few thousand more days, what are a few thousand days in the history of a nation?" he said.

Yet Landry's party, aware of public disenchantment with the sovereignty debate, had softened its separatist message in the campaign.

Quebec, about twice the size of Texas, is far different from the rest of Canada. Its legal system is based on the Napoleonic Code, while the rest of Canada follows English common law. It raises its own income tax and sets its own immigration rules, geared to attract French-speakers.

At the Parti Quebecois election headquarters, 21-year-old supporter Paul Charron said the sovereignty movement would recover.

"In four years we'll be back and stronger," Charron said. "I voted for a country, I voted for a nation. It was my first time voting and it's not easy, but we'll be back."
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Canada to contribute to U.N. mission in Congo
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, May 22, 2003

OTTAWA  - Canada will make a small contribution to a U.N.
intervention force in Congo, but details were still being worked out,
Prime Minister Jean Chretien said Thursday.

   After meeting with visiting French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre
Raffarin, Chretien said the two discussed the "sad situation" in the
central African nation where lingering war has claimed thousands of
lives.

   "We are prepared to participate," Chretien said. "We want to do
this under the aegis of the United Nations."

   He said technical aspects still needed to be worked out. While
conceding that the situation in Congo was urgent, he added, "We haven't
made our minds up" on what the contribution will involve.

   Chretien indicated Canada could send troops, even though the
Canadian military already is stretched thin by years of budget cuts and
a commitment to deploy 2,000 troops in Afghanistan this summer.

   "The contribution (for Congo) will not be a big one. The demand is
not for a big number," Chretien said.

   Raffarin said France was prepared to set up an intervention force
for Congo, but called technical aspects "difficult."

   "There are two dimensions to this problem _ the organization of an
international intervention force, which is a political decision, and
also a technical question, which is a very precise aspect," Raffarin
said.

   He cited the difficulty in getting an emergency force to the trouble
area in Congo as a major challenge.

   A U.N. spokesman said Wednesday it was "taking longer than we had
hoped" for the international community to piece together an emergency
force to deploy to eastern Congo, where the death toll from recent
tribal fighting is mounting.

   The Hema and Lendu tribes have battled repeatedly for turf in
eastern Congo, trying to win control of its rich mineral deposits, vast
timber forests and fertile land.

   The latest clashes broke out May 7 after neighboring Uganda pulled
out the last of its more than 6,000 soldiers in and around Bunia, in
Ituri province, and left a security vacuum. More than 280 people have
been killed.

   U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan last week asked France to lead an
emergency force to the Ituri region, which is to be separate from the
U.N. peacekeeping force already in the country. A French military team
Wednesday wrapped up a two-day mission to the region to assess the
possibility of deploying such a force.

   British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Wednesday his government also
was considering how it could help, and a Pakistani military officer was
scheduled to arrive in Bunia.

   The Ugandans' withdrawal this month left a 625-member U.N.
contingent made up mostly of troops from Uruguay, and an even smaller
Congolese police force contending with an estimated 25,000 to 28,000
tribal fighters in Ituri. The U.N. contingent has increased somewhat,
but not enough to quell the fighting.

   Congo's war broke out in August 1998 when Uganda and Rwanda sent
troops to back rebels seeking to oust then-President Laurent Kabila,
whom they accused of arming insurgents threatening regional security.
Most foreign troops have withdrawn under a series of peace deals. The
war has killed an estimated 3 million people, mostly through hunger and
disease, according to relief groups.

   The Security Council authorized an 8,700-strong U.N. peacekeeping
force for Congo in December.
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Montreal Man Suspected of Terror Links
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Fri May 23, 7:18 PM ET

MONTREAL - A Moroccan man labeled a threat to Canada's national security has been arrested in Montreal, reportedly on suspicion he has ties to a convicted terrorist in the United States.
Adil Charkaoui, who has lived in Canada since 1995, was detained on Wednesday, said Nicole Currier of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

A May 16 warrant for his arrest, filed in Federal Court in Ottawa, states there are "reasonable grounds" to believe he is a danger to national security.

Canada's top security official, Solicitor General Wayne Easter, and Immigration Minister Denis Coderre also have signed a security certificate that designates Charkaoui a threat to national security and authorizes his immediate deportation with federal court approval.

Authorities refused to provide further details, but sections of the law cited in the arrest warrant state a person is inadmissible to Canada on security grounds for "engaging in terrorism," "being a danger to the security of Canada" and being a member of a suspected terrorist organization.

Court documents in the case were sealed, but newspaper reports based on unidentified sources said authorities accused Charkaoui of associating with Ahmed Ressam, an Algerian who lived in Montreal's Muslim community in the 1990s.

Ressam was convicted in April 2001 in the United States of plotting to bomb Los Angeles International Airport during millennium celebrations.

Like Ressam, Charkaoui is suspected of having trained in Osama bin Laden's camps in Afghanistan , unidentified sources told Montreal newspapers.

In a telephone call from detention Friday to The Associated Press, Charkaoui said Canadian authorities are trying to make an example out of him to show the United States they are combating terrorism.

"It's a political affair. I am accused of no crime," he said. "Canada didn't join the war against Iraq and now it wants to make steps to mend differences."

He said he was once interrogated for 12 hours by the FBI  during a flight change from Morocco at John F. Kennedy International Airport before being let go.

"If I'm such a threat, you think they would have let me go?" he asked.

Charkaoui claimed Canadian intelligence services have been trying to recruit him for years to spy on the Muslim community.

A woman who answered the phone Friday at Charkaoui's address and identified herself as his mother said he turns 30 years old in July.
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Detention hearing for alleged terrorist put off until July
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Fri May 30, 2003

MONTREAL  - A Moroccan man facing deportation from Canada as a national security threat will remain in custody for more than a month until his next court hearing, a judge said Friday.

Adil Charkaoui, 29, was arrested last week on suspicion of links to the al-Qaida network.

Charkaoui, who has lived in Canada since 1995, denies any links to Osama bin Laden's network or other terror groups.

Judge Simon Noel said Friday that the government's evidence against Charkaoui, much of it kept secret for security reasons, was "pertinent" to the case. He postponed arguments until July 2 to give Charkaoui and lawyer Rocco Galati time to prepare.

"To have chosen a shorter period of time (to prepare) would not have been professional," Galati said.

Charkaoui, dressed in beige pants with a checkered shirt, sat handcuffed between two security agents during the hearing. He only spoke once, answering "yes" to give Galati permission to present the case in English at the July hearing.

He also exchanges a few words in Arabic with family members before being led away.

The security certificate signed by the federal solicitor general and immigration minister designated Charkaoui as a national security threat. Evidence it contains will be presented to Noel, but not to Charkaoui and his lawyer, unless Noel decides to make it public.

Outside the court Friday, supporters of Charkaoui criticized the process as unfair.

"You don't know the evidence against you, your lawyer doesn't know the evidence, how can you get a just trial?" asked Salam Elmenyawi, president of the Muslim Council of Montreal.

Galati said the procedure forces him to work with "hands tied" by not knowing exactly what his client is accused of doing.

The measure also requires Charkaoui to remain in detention until the July 2 hearing.

Court documents released Tuesday said Charkaoui "has the profile of a sleeper agent that can be activated at any time."

He should be deported for security reasons "because he was and still is a member of a network of international groups and individuals that support the extremist Islamic ideas of Osama bin Laden," they said.

The documents also allege Charkaoui knew several members of a Montreal al-Qaida cell linked to Ahmed Ressam, who was arrested in Port Angeles, Washington, and convicted of planning to bomb Los Angeles International Airport during millennium celebrations.
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WADA Faces Cuts Due to Nonpayments
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Sat Jun 7, 8:45 PM ET

MONTREAL - The World Anti-Doping Agency will have to cut back on programs until it doubles the money it has collected for its 2003 budget.
"It is truly disheartening that we are in a situation where we cannot currently fulfill a number of our obligations because our stakeholders cannot honor their commitments to pay on time," agency chief Dick Pound said Saturday following WADA's first executive committee meeting since a global drug code was endorsed by sports bodies and governments in Denmark in March.

WADA so far has received $6.5 million — 30 percent of its 2003 budget — and the executive committee agreed that because of a current "budget crisis" it would make no further financial commitments until $7 million more has been received.

Pound says this could mean cuts in drug-testing research and education programs and would make sending observers to world athletic events such as the Pan American Games in the Dominican Republic and the world championships in Paris difficult.

WADA was set up in 1999 and financed solely by the International Olympic Committee in its first two years. Since 2002, the agency's funding has been split evenly among sports organizations and governments.

Governments have paid only $2.7 million of their total share of $10.1 million. Among them, the United States told WADA it expects to pay its $1 million share in October or November, after Congress approves the budget. WADA now says it will approve its budget in June rather than November to allow more time for governments to come through.

Last week, Pound said "not one cent" has been received from countries in Asia or major contributors such as the United States, Spain, Italy and France.
Britain and Canada recently paid their dues.

WADA says it has also discussed with the IOC penalizing countries that don't pay, including denying Olympic accreditations to government officials and refusing to allow the national flag to be flown at opening, closing and medal ceremonies.

Pound said he was confident the problem would resolve itself in the long term after an international convention is established under UNESCO, making the anti-doping code "part of domestic law" and the payments legally binding.

The code sets out uniform anti-doping rules for all sports and all countries, including two-year bans for steroid use.

More than 30 sporting organizations have adopted the code and 64 governments have pledged to accept it, but Pound is confident those numbers will increase after the IOC adopts the code at its session next month.

WADA also announced it had accepted results of an independent report stating that urine tests could stand alone on detecting the presence of recombinant erthropoetin (EPO).

The report recommends that urine testing be used in conjunction with blood testing. Pound says some sport bodies will probably elect to choose blood tests because they are cheaper but notes only urine tests can stand alone.

Blood tests can cost as little as $60 and urine tests as much as $400, Pound noted.

Pound also said he was still trying to press professional leagues, including the NBA, NHL, NFL and major league Baseball, to sign up to the anti-doping code but says the leagues insist they already have effective drug-testing programs in place and are tied by collective bargaining agreements with players' associations.
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Montreal Dead Sea Scroll exhibit window to era of Jesus
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, July 13, 2003

MONTREAL (AP) _ After a 40-year battle, God will reach down and lift
the Sons of Light to victory over the Sons of Darkness. At least that's
how one of the Dead Sea Scrolls tells of the miracle to come.

But judging from the inky atmosphere at a special exhibition in
Montreal, the Sons of Darkness seem to be winning. Since it's safest to
read these ancient texts in the semi-dark, special climate-controlled
cabinets glow dimly for just 40 seconds _ offering a glimpse of the
artifacts _ then darken for a whole minute.

Still, the exhibit sheds light on how people lived around the time
of Jesus, when members of a Jewish sect scrawled the texts on animal
skins, papyrus and even copper. The artifacts offer insights into
various aspects of life, including religion, music, food, trade and the
roles of women and children. Some contain chapters from books of the
Bible's Old Testament.

The sacred texts were discovered in caves not far from the Dead Sea
starting in 1947. They rarely leave Israel, but the exhibit "Archaeology
and the Bible From King David to the Dead Sea Scrolls" is making two
stops in Canada. It's at Montreal's Pointe-a-Caillere Museum until
November 2, and moves to Ottawa's Museum of Civilization in December.

The fragile scroll fragments are yellow, some severely darkened
with age and sensitive to light and dryness. The inscriptions are
sometimes hardly legible but, even with the scrolls' condition,
interest in them is intense.

"Our capacity is limited, but we're expecting some 150,000 people,"
says Francine Lelievre, the Montreal museum's executive director.

Most religious scholars believe that the scrolls were created by a
sect of monastic Jews called the Essenes, who left mainstream Judaism to
live a communal life in the desert near the northwestern coast of the
Dead Sea.

When the Romans invaded their community, Qumran, around A.D. 68, the
Essenes hid the manuscripts in nearby caves, some in jars _ where they
remained until their discovery almost 2,000 years later.

"The finding of The Dead Sea Scrolls is the single greatest moment
of archaeological discovery of modern times," says Israel Museum
director James S. Snyder.

Most were written in the regional languages of Hebrew and Aramaic,
with a few in Greek. They are dated between the first century B.C. and
the first century A.D., making them centuries older than the oldest
Hebrew biblical text.

The scroll about War of the Sons of Light with the Sons of
Darkness and one called Isaiah B are making their first trip to North
America. The Isaiah B scroll, severely damaged and in the dimmest
corner of the climate-controlled section, has never been exhibited
before. Written on animal skin with black ink, it includes chapters of
the Old Testament book of Isaiah.

A third scroll, entitled Rule of the Community, is the best
preserved and most legible scroll. It's some 75cm (30 inches) long and
is making its first trip outside Israel in nearly half a century.

The exhibit also includes 100 other archaeological pieces, some of
which date to 1200 B.C. and offer the only material evidence of the
existence of key figures in the Bible.

A basalt stele, which dates from the ninth century B.C., mentions
King David, and an eighth century B.C. miniature ivory pomegranate is
said to be from the first Temple of Jerusalem built by Solomon.
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WTO Protesters Smash Windows in Montreal
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Mon Jul 28,11:46 AM ET

MONTREAL - A handful of protesters opposed to the World Trade Organization (news - web sites) raged through downtown Montreal on Monday, smashing store windows and attacking U.S. symbols ahead of a meeting of 25 trade ministers. At least one person was arrested before the activists were dispersed by police.

The activists, many wearing hoods and gas masks, attacked a Burger King restaurant before moving on to a Gap clothing store in the main shopping street, accusing multinational companies of moving into developing countries and forcing local producers out of business.

"Whose streets? Our streets," the group shouted, waving banners that declared "Destroy the WTO." Later, under pressure from the police, they scattered into the side streets.

"What they did was legitimate," said Stefan Christoff, one of the organizers of the protests. "Police tried to stop the demonstration happening, people's voices were rejected. These demonstrations allow people to question these institutions and their policies."

The rampage by a dozen or so activists occurred as police in riot gear held back around 250 protesters gathered in front of the Sheraton hotel, where 25 trade ministers were to meet later Monday. The meeting was called by Canada's Pierre Pettigrew to try to resolve differences between nations working on a global treaty to reduce barriers to international trade.

Organizers of the rally had predicted that thousands would gather for protests, but only a few hundred had turned up by early Monday.

The activists are aiming to shut down the meeting, which they claim is a prime example of rich nations getting richer at the expense of the developing world.

Student Rodrigo Santos, 22, from Ontario said he had a firsthand look in his native Chile at how multinationals hire people at low wages, benefiting their shareholders back home rather than local communities.

"If somebody ends up thinking about things and can tell their children and maybe someone else, that's good enough for me," Santos said.

The Montreal gathering is supposed to smooth the way for a meeting of all 146 WTO members in Cancun, Mexico, in September.

But it looks to be a rocky road, with major differences between importing and exporting countries of agricultural products and anger from developing countries that their interests are being ignored.

Police have been preparing for weeks for possible trouble during the meeting. During the Summit of the Americas in April 2001 in nearby Quebec City, protesters tore down a security fence and hurled Molotov cocktails, rocks and other projectiles at police during violent confrontations in which about 60 demonstrators and 50 police officers were injured.

WTO ministers have not met in North America since the 1999 Seattle meeting that was marred by clashes between protesters and police.
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Canada Seeks to Explain Blackout's Cause
The Associated Press
Thursday, August 14, 2003; 11:56 PM

TORONTO - Canadian officials insisted a massive blackout Thursday across the Northeast and parts of Canada originated in the United States, though U.S. power workers denied that and American officials blamed Canada.

In the hours of confusion after the outage - the biggest in U.S. history - Canada's government offered conflicting explanations for the blackout, blaming it first on lightning in Niagara, then a fire at a Niagara plant, and next a fire at a Pennsylvania nuclear power plant.

Canada's defense minister later backed off some of those theories, though remained firm that the source of the problem was in the U.S. section of the intricate power grid shared by the northeastern United States and Ontario.

"The source is an outage in a northeastern United States power plant," said McCallum's spokesman Shane Diaczuk.

In the United States, officials were looking at a power transmission problem from Canada as the most likely cause of the outage, said a spokeswoman for New York Gov. George Pataki. There was no sign of terrorism, officials in New York and Washington agreed.

The changing theories started several hours after the power went out at about 4:15 p.m. EDT.

Jim Munson, a spokesman for Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien said: "We have been informed that lightning struck a power plant in the Niagara region on the U.S. side." The premier's office later said a fire at the Niagara plant in New York caused the blackout, while the defense minister said the fire was at a Pennsylvania nuclear plant.

"That is absolutely not true," said Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Maria Smith. "It's bizarre. We have a direct line to each of our five (nuclear) power plants and they are all running at 100 percent ... There's not even a trash can fire, we would know."

Brian Warner of the New York Power Authority said he wasn't sure where the power failure originated.
"The New York Power Authority's Niagara Power Project has at no time during this incident cease to operate. We also have not experienced a lightning strike at that facility," he said.

An Associated Press reporter in Niagara said the plant was running and that lights were on. A plant employee emerged to speak to the media and to deny any lightning incident.

"That type of equipment failure, we would have known about right off the bat," said Joanne Willmott, regional manager for community relations for the New York Power Authority. "A lighting strike that triggered an equipment failure would have shown up in our control room."

In his earlier comments, the defense minister did not name the plant in Pennsylvania where he believed there was a fire or give further details. But his spokesman later said that McCallum and other Canadian officials were getting their information from a variety of sources, including some in the United States, as the situation unfolded.

In Canada, blackouts were reported in Toronto, as well as Ottawa in the province's eastern reaches and in much of Ontario. The blackout had not spread as far as Thunder Bay in northwestern Ontario, suggesting power in the north was sporadic.

Ontario Premier Ernie Eves declared a state of emergency for the province and asked any nonessential or non-emergency workers to stay home Friday.

In Sudbury, Ontario, 210 miles north of Toronto, more than 100 miners at a Falconbridge nickel mine were staying in underground lunchrooms because the outage halted elevators to bring them to the surface.

"I wouldn't call it an emergency situation right now - they've got plenty of water, and the ventilation is still operational with the backup power," Sudbury police Staff Sgt. Al Asunmaa said. "They're not in any immediate danger right now."

Power was also knocked out on Parliament Hill, leaving scant emergency lighting.

In Toronto, streetcars preparing to transport workers around downtown for the evening rush hour ground to a halt, sending riders into the street to hail taxi cabs.

Some people ended up directing traffic on their own.

Wearing a suit and tie, Peter Carayiannis waved vehicles through one busy intersection. "I've been doing this for about 45 minutes because nobody else is," he said.

"The streetcar can't go anywhere, you just have to wait," said Mike Collins, a streetcar driver with the Toronto Transit Commission.

Diane Grover, spokeswoman for the Canadian defense department, said Canada "considers this an act of nature in the Niagara region on the U.S. side of the border. It has caused a cascading power outage affecting 9,300 square miles," she said.

Grover said the power company, Ontario Hydro, was in the process of separating itself from the American power grid in order to restore electricity to its customers.

An official at the Ontario power company agreed, saying the problem originated elsewhere.
"We're confident that the trigger for this widespread outage did not occur on our system," said Al Manchee. "There was no indication that there was anything wrong in our system prior to the outage."

He said power was being restored slowly, with substantial progress expected throughout the evening.
Toronto's international airport was one of six, including airports in New York, Newark, Cleveland and Ottawa that was grounded, according to the U.S. Transportation Department.

Millions of Canadians were without power, and the total blackout area covered roughly 50 million people. Electricity was out in a broad swath of the Northeast - stretching west to Ohio and Michigan - and in southern Canadian cities, starting shortly after 4 p.m. EDT.

In Toronto, Canada's largest city with more than 2 million residents, traffic snarled at major intersections as workers denied transportation tried to get home in their own vehicles, in taxis or on foot.

Power began to come back in some cities as afternoon turned to evening, but officials said full restoration would take much longer. The Toronto Stock Exchange said it would open as usual Friday, running on backup power if necessary.
------------------------------------------------------------------
Exhibition shows protraits of suffering by murdered reporter
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Thursday,  August 28, 2003

MONTREAL: A young woman holds her head with both hands, crying over the death of her brother. An Iraqi woman lies in a hospital bed, looking at the bullet that wounded her.

Images of suffering women in a hard land are the theme of an exhibition of photos by Zahra Kazemi, the Canadian journalist beaten to death while in custody in Iran.

Her case has become a political issue in Iran and is causing diplomatic friction with Canada, but organizers of the exhibition of 55 photos, titled "NoPicture!", say the goal is to show Kazemi's work and through it, the woman behind the shutter.

"We want to show this is something else than a diplomatic row between Iran and Canada," said Jean-Eudes Schurr, curator of the BloWup photogallery where the black-and-white photos hang on the walls.

Stephan Hachemi, Kazemi's son who lives in Montreal, provided the collection that focuses on the lives of Muslim women under repressive regimes in Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq.

"Her photos of women and children are very intimate," Schurr says. "The pictures don't scream out utter misery but they accuse. The gaze of their subjects isn't a feeble one."

Some are of women openly grieving the loss of a son or brother. In others, the suffering is internal. A recent photo shows a mother and her children in an apartment in ruins in Baghdad. Another captures a child in a refugee camp.

"It's a great way to show who my mother was, the work she was doing, the love for the work she was doing," Hachemi said. "She was reporting about the misery, the injustice, especially in the Middle East recently, that people were facing."

Louise Lariviere of Reporters Communication, a Montreal-based organization that promotes Canadian photographers, called the exhibition a chance to get to know the 54-year-old Kazemi.

"We were always seeing her photo but never her own photos, so we placed a call to her son," said Lariviere, whose group is hosting the exhibition until Sept. 2.

Kazemi's work took on new depth since 1999, when she started taking longer trips to live with her subjects in refugee camps or their ruined homes, according to Lariviere.

The exhibit covers travels from 1999 to this year, where she took pictures in Iraq before her death in her native Iran.

"She was living with families outside and inside the (refugee) camps," Hachemi said. "She was really aware of their situation."

The pictures will be sold at a fund-raising event.

On the day the Iranian government admitted Kazemi was beaten to death while in custody, Hachemi recalled some of his last conversations with his mother were about her work.

"We talked about the danger she exposed herself to when she traveled," he said. "She was really confident about it (her work). She was ready to take these risks."
-------------------------------------------------------------

Tour drug report released
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Monday,  September 22, 2003

MONTREAL (AP) _ Samples kept out of refrigeration. Testing centres not clearly identified. A lack of supporting documents.

Such problems in trying to detect drug cheats at the recent Tour de France were observed by officials from the World Anti-Doping Agency, according to a report made public on Monday.

The 47-page report was released before all parties - including the International Cycling Union - had a chance to respond, due to a leak of a previous draft to the French media, a WADA statement said.

It noted that merely sending an observer mission to the Tour de France - the world's premier cycling event and a source of doping cases in the past - showed the progress in expanding anti-doping efforts.

The report praised some parts of the monitoring system, such as the firmness of Tour de France officials against doping, good health controls by the International Cycling Union, and the quality of the doping laboratory and France's strong measures against trafficking in doping substances.

Implementing the new WADA anti-doping code, adopted earlier this year by the International Olympic Committee, and better co-ordination among anti-doping officials would help create an ideal system at the Tour de France, the report concluded.

Regarding blood tests, the report noted all technical and administrative procedures were completed in rapid fashion, with great professionalism. Problems included the need to refrigerate transported samples and ensure proper documents were included, it said.

The report also said 34 hours was too long for transporting pre-race, out-of-competition samples to the testing laboratory.

It called for clearly identified testing centres, where access would be restricted and closely monitored. Doctors should explain all stages of the procedure to the racers and allow them to ask questions, the report said.

The laboratory should be open longer - at night and on weekends - to speed up the process, and also should receive samples 24 hours a day to help ensure their security and safety, according to the report.

At the 2003 Tour de France, all racers underwent a medical exam with blood tests, and the International Cycling conducted four random blood tests on 164 riders throughout the three-week race.

Urine tests also were conducted every day on the winner of the stage, the owner of the yellow jersey and other randomly appointed racers to detect various banned substances.

The only rider to fail a drug test was Spanish cyclist Javier Pascual Llorente, who tested positive for the banned hormone EPO.

In 1998, the Tour de France was nearly wiped out by a drug scandal that saw the French Festina team disqualified.

EPO, or erythropoietin, is a hormone naturally produced by the body but now available as a genetically engineered product. EPO artificially increases the level of red blood cells and therefore enhances endurance.

The World Anti-Doping Code sets out uniform rules and sanctions for all sports and countries. It is the first international policy against banned performance-enhancing substances.

The code calls for two-year suspensions for steroid or other serious drug offences. Sports organisations are required to enact the code before next year's Athens Olympics. Governments have until the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy.

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NAFTA partners support Canada's intention to supply generic drugs to poor countries
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
October 7, 2003

MONTREAL  - The United States and Mexico said Tuesday they want Canada to adhere to trade rules in its plans to allow generic drug makers to supply poor countries with cheap copies of patented medicines.

After a meeting of the North American Free Trade Agreement Commission, the U.S. and Mexican trade ministers said they had no problem with Canadian intentions to participate in a World Trade Organization agreement involving generic drugs.

"We think it's a very fine step," U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said following talks with Mexican Secretary of the Economy Fernando Canales and Canadian International Trade Secretary Pierre Pettigrew. "We, of course, would expect that Canada as one of the framers of the rules would maintain the rules we agreed on."

Pettigrew said Canada has a responsibility to take proper steps because its actions could be copied by others. He said Canada wants to respect international obligations, including intellectual property rights.

The United States was the biggest opponent to the WTO agreement reached Aug. 30 that creates a legal loophole allowing the most desperate countries to override patents on expensive drugs and order cheaper copies from generic manufacturers, with patent holders receiving a small payment.

Major pharmaceutical companies worry that the generic medicines could end up being resold for profit instead of going to those who need them most, undercutting profits. They warn that future research and development of patented medicines could be harmed by an unfair system.

Canada's patent laws currently prohibit drug producers from copying patented medicines for 20 years, except for national distribution in emergencies. While the government says it wants to change the patent laws, it acknowledges it will likely take months to properly analyze the issue and make the necessary amendments.

AIDS drugs are a particular concern because they are far too expensive for patients in Africa, where the disease rates are high. The average AIDS patient in the United States takes a combination of drugs that costs about US$14,000 annually _ far beyond the budgets of developing countries.

Generic versions of those drugs cost a fraction of that amount.

The three trade ministers expressed continued support for expanding free trade agreements despite the recent failure of WTO talks in Cancun to reach consensus on issues such as agriculture subsidies by industrialized nations.

"We're committed to taking the NAFTA concept and expanding it to the hemisphere," Zoellick said, referring to ongoing work on a Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement. "One way or another the heart of free trade we planted and nurtured through NAFTA will extend to the hemisphere."
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 Panel says Cooperation Needed on Drugs
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Friday, November 21, 2003; 7:52 AM

MONTREAL - More cooperation between neighboring countries will help combat drug trafficking and terrorism while allowing legitimate trade to flow, the new head of an Organization of American States panel on drug abuse said.

Wrapping up a four-day meeting in Montreal, Paul E. Kennedy said Thursday that the 34-nation Inter-American Drug Abuse Commission will use the border relationship between the United States and Canada as a model for cooperation to improve drug control.

The two countries have formed joint border investigative teams and shared information, and focused on improving security without hurting the movement of commerce and traffic.

"We have to find the correct balance between public safety and security measures and the facilitation of the movement of trade and people," Kennedy said.

His commission's mission is to assess the state of the drug trade, including abuse, production and trafficking, as well as related issues such as money laundering and firearms trafficking for a hemispheric summit scheduled for 2005.

"You can't solve these problems by yourself. The failure of a neighbor to successfully address crime can be manifested in another country," he said.

He called for improving security at ports in North, Central and South America to combat drug trafficking, and by extension terrorism.

For example, 90 percent of Colombia's cocaine trafficking occurs by sea, Kennedy said.

Fighting the drug trade means confronting problems related to money-laundering, terrorism financing, illicit arms trafficking and transnational organized crime, he said, adding: "Where drugs go, guns and violence follow."

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Anti-Doping Agency Extends Dues Deadline
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Friday, November 21, 2003; 8:06 PM

MONTREAL - The World Anti-Doping Agency gave governments an additional six months to pay their 2004 dues and threatened to impose penalties on those who miss the deadline.

Countries will now have until June 30, instead of Dec. 31, to pay their 2004 dues. WADA president Dick Pound said deadbeat countries could lose their seats on the agency's board and executive committee.

Other possible penalties for nonpayment could include the International Olympic Committee refusing accreditation to government officials for the Athens Games and prohibiting use of the national flag at opening, closing and medal ceremonies.

"There should be no reason for governments not to make their payments on time," Pound said following a meeting of WADA's executive committee in Montreal.

Pound said the United States, Italy and Ukraine were among the major countries yet to pay their annual dues to WADA, which is jointly funded by the Olympic sports movement and national governments.

The United States annually provides $800,000 in direct funding to WADA through the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

WADA has received $13 million, or 65 percent, of its 2003 budget with just one month remaining before countries were scheduled to make their 2004 contributions.

Governments have paid only $6.5 million of their total share of $10.1 million.

The financial crunch means WADA will set its budget based on receiving only 80% of its dues, Pound said after the agency announced that its 2004 budget would see no increase from this year's $21.5 million.

WADA was set up in 1999 and financed solely by the International Olympic Committee in its first two years. Since 2002, the agency's funding has been split evenly among sports organizations and governments.

Pound says relations with U.S. counterparts are "confusing" after days in which a U.S. board member consistently abstained or voted against all resolutions of substance without offering an explanation.

"How do you get where you want to be when no one wants to talk," Pound said.

The U.S. Olympic Committee assured IOC president Jacques Rogge in a letter Thursday that the United States will pay its WADA dues within the next three months, after the passage of a Treasury/Transportation bill currently making its way through Congress.

Rogge had told the U.S. to pay its dues or forget about bidding for the 2012 Games. New York is one of nine cities in the running for the event. The IOC will select the host city in 2005.

Pound is confident WADA's funding problem will resolve itself in the long term after an international convention - currently being drafted by a United Nations agency - makes WADA payments legally binding and the anti-doping code part of domestic law.

The global drug code, endorsed by sports bodies and governments in Denmark in March, sets out uniform anti-doping rules for all sports and all countries.

WADA and the IOC's Rogge have said all Olympic sports must adopt the code or risk being dropped from the games.

WADA and soccer's governing body, FIFA, this week settled their differences over drug punishments, clearing the way for the sport to stay in the Olympics.

More than 98 sporting organizations have adopted the code and 89 governments have pledged to accept it. WADA is hoping most will have signed on by next year's Athens Games.
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Easing the pain of Arabs and Jews through drama in Canada

By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, November 25, 2003; 8:08 PM

MONTREAL - On the stage, actors depict flirtatious Israeli soldiers delaying a Palestinian woman named Rania at a checkpoint.

Try again, says the real Rania, sitting in the audience. The humiliation and tedium of the checkpoint is not there. Show more rage.

The actors now moan and crawl about, faces twisted in agony.

That, Rania says, shows what she feels.

The scene is from a drama program that is part of the "Peace and Conflict Resolution Series," Concordia University's attempt to stem the spillover of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict onto its campus.
Next up is the experience of Chaim Ronn, a Jewish man, who hears a shopkeeper speaking Arabic and says "Salam malekum" in greeting. The shopkeeper, who is Palestinian, quickly sizes up Ronn as Jewish and complains "You threw us out of our country, I won't forget it."

Ronn tells a childhood memory of being rushed to the basement during an Arab attack, but the shopkeeper cuts him off with the price of the item he wants, and Ronn walks away muttering about a missed opportunity for dialogue.

The moving force behind the program is Armand Volkas, a Jewish son of Holocaust survivors, now a San Francisco-based psychotherapist specializing in conflict resolution.

Volkas previously used drama therapy to try to reconcile descendants of Holocaust survivors with children of the Third Reich. Now he has extended his work to an interactive concept called "Healing the Wounds of History."

Under his direction, the Playback Theater company - three women and two men dressed in black - acts out personal stories of people from communities torn by conflict.

Volkas and the local actors performed before more than 100 people at Concordia, where the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has dominated campus life.

A pro-Palestinian faction won student government elections in 2001, setting off a chain of reactions that culminated in a chaotic protest in September 2002 against Benjamin Netanyahu, the former Israeli prime minister, who had to cancel a speech on campus.

Jewish students complain of being threatened and assaulted, and the campus chapter of Hillel, the Jewish social organization, is fighting in court to overturn a freeze of its funding and activities.

University officials turned to Volkas to help act out experiences and grievances brought by four Israelis and two Palestinians to the Oct. 26 program, then take audience feedback. Few of those in attendance were students, though, and the six people who shared their experiences for the session were mostly involved in cultural bridge-building already.

Carmela Aigen, a Canadian Jew who promotes Israeli-Palestinian dialogue, recalled a tearful conversation with her son after he volunteered to drive a tank in the Israeli army.

The actors played out the scene, using Aigen's words accompanied by piano, flute and chants, to set a poignant tone.

"Drive carefully," the actor playing Aigen sobbed. "Don't forget to have mercy in your heart."
Aigen described watching a piece of her life as "intense."

"This is my first time and it was so incredible," she said. "It also gave me a feeling of empowering myself with courage and hope."

Over a loudspeaker, Volkas kept up a meditative commentary throughout the event.

A large, balding man with a soothing baritone, he knows his technique can't solve the world's ills, but says it promotes dialogue.

"This is a very humble effort to create a path for others to follow," Volkas said. "Otherwise we implode."

Confronting the conflict while it still rages, instead of decades later as in the case of the Holocaust, contains benefits and pitfalls, according to Volkas.

"Are we going to need resolution and psychological distance in order to truly work through the conflict or can we do it while it is inflamed?" he asked. "It may need the distance. I don't know that you can do it in a Palestinian refugee camp. The Palestinian diaspora has more psychological distance and overview that could begin to change the paradigms."

The next step is up to audience members, he said - "to go out into the world and take some action.

It's not just about feeling better but doing some acts to counter this overwhelming force toward helplessness and despair.
"That's my hope, creating little ripples."

Some ripples seemed evident after the Concordia session.

"It's important for us to have a Muslim perspective," said Deena Eliosoff, a Jewish audience member.
"We don't realize their anger. We don't always take that Arab rage seriously."
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U.S. Pays 2003 Dues to Anti-Doping Agency

By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Mon Dec 22, 3:19 PM ET
        
MONTREAL - The United States paid its 2003 dues to the World Anti-Doping Agency and appointed Scott Burns as its representative to the group's board.     
     
Burns, who replaces Andrea Barthwell, is deputy director for state and local affairs at the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy. He has served on the White House Committee on Illegal Narcotics and Addiction.

WADA president Dick Pound had accused the White House of showing no interest in the fight against performance-enhancing drugs in sports. But on Monday he called the $800,000 payment a "very encouraging sign of the commitment this government is willing to make to the fight against doping."

Pound previously said the United States, Italy and Ukraine were among the major countries yet to pay annual dues to WADA, which is jointly funded by the Olympic sports movement and national governments.

The agency was created in 1999 to spearhead global drug testing.

"We are looking forward to this partnership with WADA," Burns said.

The International Olympic Committee has said it will consider refusing accreditation to next summer's Athens Games or withholding invitations to government officials and VIPs from delinquent countries.

The IOC also said countries could be barred from bidding for the Olympics if they fail to pay their dues.

New York's candidacy for the 2012 Summer Games could have been endangered.
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Frank Zappa's widow sues Canadian store for using music
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Monday January 12, 6:41 pm ET

MONTREAL (AP) -- The widow of eclectic musician Zappa was in a Canadian court on Monday seeking unspecified damages from a furniture company for using one his tunes in a 1995 appliance advertisement.

Gail Zappa and her lawyer flew from California to Quebec City to pursue the statement of claim filed in 1998.   
The claim said the store "distorted, mutilated or otherwise modified the composition and used it in association with a product."

The president of the company being sued for using the Zappa tune Watermelon in Easter Hay from the 1979 album Joe's Garage said the rocker's wife turned down several offers to settle out of court.

Jacques Tanguay said his company, Ameublements Tanguay Inc., didn't know the song was under copyright, adding his chain tried in vain to prevent the case from landing in court."There have been talks a number of times over the past nine years," Tanguay said outside court. "(There were) many attempts to settle this, but unfortunately we're in court."

Zappa, who died in 1993 of prostate cancer aged 52, was a quirky artist whose fans included many people other than rockers.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.

His widow, a Los Angeles resident, is named as a plaintiff, along with their children Moon Unit, Dweezil, Ahmet and Diva.

She accused Ameublements Tanguay of knowingly ripping off the song even though it knew it was under copyright."It's a signature work of my husband, it's part of a literary work and not only did they take it without permission, they whacked it, they cut it and chopped it up to suit their design," Gail Zappa said in an interview Sunday night.

The furniture chain insists the whole thing is due to a misunderstanding and it made a mistake in good faith.It said it did not realize the song was Zappa's and had hired a Quebec City producer which subcontracted the musical work to a freelancer.

Tanguay, a 10-store chain, is a subsidiary of Montreal-based Groupe BMTC Inc., a holding company with 2,000 employees and a net income of about US$27 million in 2002.

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U.S. Envoy Praises Border Security
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Monday March 29, 9:41PM ET

MONTREAL - U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci praised security improvements with Canada Monday, saying they've made the border "open to trade but closed to terrorism."

The ambassador to Canada told officials from both countries here that information sharing and investments in counterterrorism have helped to speed border commerce and travel.

"This has been a great accomplishment for both Canada and the United States that we have a border that is much more secure than it was on Sept. 11, 2001," he said.

Especially effective has been a new "fast lane" system that creates special lanes for low-risk travelers and goods to cross the frontier. Both countries participate in the programs.

Last week Canada announced $454 million in new spending over five years on Canada's defenses against terrorism.

The new money brings to more than $6.2 billion the federal total aimed at enhancing security following Sept. 11, 2001.

Besides cooperation at the federal level, Canadian provinces and U.S. states have initiated their own agreements, such as a cross-border information-sharing agreement between Vermont and Quebec.

Cooperation between the U.S. and Canada on terrorism extends to the private sector.

Officials said one U.S. firm is supplying Canadian police with facemasks to protect against bioterrorism.
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Kisses, ovations abound at Quebec's first gay marriage
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
April 1, 2004

MONTREAL - The first gay couple in Quebec to be legally wed could not wait to be pronounced married Thursday before embracing during a ceremony at Montreal's court building.

Michael Hendricks, 62, and Rene Leboeuf, 48, hugged in front of about 100 cheering friends and co-workers in a room set to accommodate half that. The newlyweds sealed their vows with a kiss.

"To hear those words we fought so long to hear and to listen to them for the first time, because they've always been words before, now they are vows," said an emotional Hendricks after the ceremony.

The couple, who have been together for 31 years, realized their dream of marriage after the Quebec Court of Appeal paved the way for gay marriages in the province with a March 19 ruling that dismissed an appeal of a lower-court ruling by religious groups.

The lower court had ruled that the traditional definition of marriage is discriminatory and unjustified.

Same-sex marriages already have been declared legal by provincial courts in Ontario and British Columbia. The three provinces represent a total of some 70 percent of Canada's 32 million people.

Canada's Supreme Court has been asked to clarify the constitutionality of gay marriage in a nonbinding ruling due next year, and Prime Minister Paul Martin has promised to introduce a bill to legalize it.

Hendricks and Leboeuf first tried to wed in the same court building on Sept. 14 1998.

"We were refused and we were put out, so we went to court the same day," Hendricks recalled, explaining how the refusal sparked their almost six year fight against the province to legalize same-sex marriage.

Just eight other same-sex couples have come forward to be married so far, Montreal court house officials said.

Toronto has issued 1,143 same-sex marriage licenses between June 19, 2003, and Feb. 13. Of those, 398 licenses were issued to Americans and 61 were for couples from outside Canada and the United States. The total number of marriage licenses issued by the city during that period was 12,046.

Hendricks said they would honeymoon in South Beach, Florida, "just like all other old couples do." But he lamented the slow acceptance of gay marriage in the United States.

"In the U.S. it seems to have been caught up in a mire of religious confusion. It's going to be a long battle for them," he told The Associated Press.
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Montreal Mob Boss May be sent to U.S.
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Thursday April 8,11:17 PM ET
         
MONTREAL - A court ruled Thursday that reputed Montreal mob boss Vito Rizzuto can be extradited to the United States, where he faces charges of racketeering and murder dating back to 1981.          
Rizzuto, 58, could face charges in the slayings of Bonanno mob family members Alphonse (Sonny Red) Indelicato, Philip (Phil Lucky) Giaccone and Dominick (Big Trin) Trinchera in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1981.

Montreal police arrested Rizzuto on Jan. 20 this year.

Rizzuto had argued that the statute of limitations on the murder charges expired in 1986 and he should not be extradited.

But Quebec Superior Court Judge Jean-Guy Boilard rejected the argument.

The judge found that if the same crime had occurred in Canada, that would have justified Rizzuto's committal for trial, said crown prosecutor Ginette Gobeil.

Rizzuto's defense attorney Pierre Morneau said he would likely appeal the decision.
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Bush a threat to world peace, activist says
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
October 07, 2004

The first wife of Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger opened an international conference on abolishing the death penalty today by calling US President George W. Bush a threat to world peace.

The three day Second World Congress Against the Death Penalty, which was first held in Strasbourg, France in 2001, gathers hundreds of participants with the goal of urging countries to ratify a UN protocol against the death penalty.

Although nonbinding, the protocol signed by over 50 countries would be an important step toward eliminating capital punishment, organisers said.

"I think President Bush is in my view, if I may say so, the most dangerous man in power today," Bianca Jagger said.

"There is a threat not only for the people of the United States but if he is elected, I feel it would be a threat for the world and would unfortunately put us in a position where we will be confronting the possibility of a third world war," Jagger said.

Jagger, who is a goodwill ambassador for the Council of Europe, said she appealed in 2000 to the former Texas governor to block the execution of a man who was imprisoned when he was 17. When he refused, she witnessed the execution along with the man's family and other death penalty opponents.

The council monitors human rights and democracy in more than 40 countries.

"The execution of a condemned man is barbaric," she told conference delegates. "The execution of an innocent man is murder."

The 59-year-old Jagger said living in Nicaragua under a dictatorship taught her the meaning of oppression.

Amnesty International says 1146 people were executed last year in 28 countries and more than 2756 were sentenced to death in 63 countries.

The US and Japan are listed as the only democratic countries to execute more than one death row inmate every year and the US is among three countries that execute minors.

According to Amnesty International, 38 child offenders - people under 18 at the time of the crime - were executed worldwide since 1990, half of them in the US.

Next week the US Supreme Court will review whether convicted juveniles should face the death penalty.

Event organiser Michel Taube said Montreal was chosen in part because of its proximity to the US, a country where he said "the death penalty is not the subject of a major societal debate".

High-profile attendees include former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson and French actress Catherine Deneuve.

Debates during the conference are to focus on issues such as the death penalty in the face of terrorism and whether there should be a boycott of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing because of China's record on executions.

Conference organisers also want countries to pass laws that prevent the extradition of citizens to states where they face the death penalty and to welcome refugees who face it in their own country.

So far 80 countries have completely abolished the death penalty while 78 continue to execute people. Others may allow capital punishment, but not routinely apply it.
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Officials to assess Iraqi election
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
December 20, 2004 - 10:34PM

OTTAWA - International election experts have agreed to establish a commission to assess the fairness of Iraq's elections.

Canada's chief electoral officer, Jean-Pierre Kingsley, said Elections Canada will establish a secretariat for the International Mission for Iraqi elections.

The body will monitor not only the coming January 30 vote, but also a referendum in October and another election in mid-December of next year.

The mission will be based in the Middle East and Iraq, and will include members of independent elections commissions and electoral experts from various countries including Canada, Britain, Indonesia, Mexico, Panama and Albania.

Kingsley said efforts were made to make the mission "as multi-country as possible".

The January 30 vote is a keystone in US plans to stabilise Iraq and end the political chaos there.

Separately, President George W Bush said Americans must understand that next month's elections in Iraq are "the beginning of a process".

Security is increasingly a concern in the planning of the election.

On Sunday, gunmen killed three Iraqi electoral officials in Baghdad and car bombs in two other cities claimed more than 60 lives.

"I certainly don't expect the process to be trouble-free," Bush said.

Some Iraqi political parties say they are concerned about security and urged that the election be delayed. Walking out of the conference room in Ottawa, Iraqi ambassador to Canada, Howar Ziad, said he was "concerned" about the violence.

"Our government is working to improve the situation," he said. "We hope to get international support for the Iraqi election process."

Kingsley said mission officials going to Iraq would be sent to areas that are considered safe. "We will be exceedingly careful," he said. "We will not expose members of the team to a risky enterprise."

At first, the mission will "minimise the number of people in Iraq", Kingsley said, hinting that much of the work would initially be done in nearby countries but depend how the "situation will evolve" in Iraq.

Kingsley said the experts were briefed both by the Iraqi ambassador to Canada and the US military on the situation in Iraq. He said mission workers will make use of security options at their disposal on the ground, including private security companies.

Kingsley said the objective of the mission was not to issue a definitive report on the election process, but to make occasional observations on information collected through networking with over 5,000 observers being trained in Iraq.

Kingsley said the mission would look into a number of core organisational matters such as the legal framework, the registration of political parties, electors and candidates, procedures to file complaints during and the after the vote as well as the education of electors, training of election workers, access of media and tabulation of results.

The assessment will be forwarded to the Iraqi election commission and other world bodies.

Making a rough assessment of immediate needs, Kingsley said initial staffing of the core group could consist of about a dozen personnel with a budget of about 500,000 dollars covering pay, travel, residency and security costs, but stressed those were initial assessments.

The participants at the Ottawa conference, primarily electoral experts from around the world, gathered for two days in closed-door session in the basement of a hotel downtown.

Canadian officials were usually secretive and tightlipped about the forum, held in a conference room under guard. They would not supply reporters with a list of those attending the meeting and were discreet about the precise location of the conference.

The meeting was endorsed by the United Nations and the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq. It was hosted by Elections Canada in partnership with the International Foundation for Election Systems.

Canada, which did not participate in the war in Iraq, straining relations with Washington, offered to host the conference as a contribution to the rebuilding effort.
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Most experts assessing Iraqi elections will be in Jordan
The Associated Press
December 24, 2004

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Most international experts assessing the fairness of Iraq's elections will monitor the Jan. 30 vote from the safety of neighboring Jordan, but a few observers will head to Baghdad and perhaps other Iraqi cities if security permits, U.N. and other officials said Thursday.

Experts putting together the international team made clear it will not conduct the usual on-the-ground election monitoring with hundreds of foreign observers in Iraq such as was recently seen in Afghanistan. Instead, it will be assessing the vote based on more than a dozen different criteria.

"We believe we can run a very effective operation to assess how well-run the election was even if there are not huge numbers of electoral observers on the ground,'' said Canada's chief electoral officer, Jean-Pierre Kingsley, who hosted a meeting in Ottawa this week of international election experts to discuss the Iraqi election.

The countries agreeing to participate in the International Mission for Iraqi Elections include Albania, Britain, Canada, Indonesia, Mexico, Yemen, and the Association of Central and East European electoral administrators, Kingsley said Thursday.

Australia also will participate, U.N. and other officials said on condition of anonymity.

Most foreign experts will be based in Amman, Jordan, the officials said, but the international mission will have high-level staff in Baghdad who will be in contact with all the key players in the Jan. 30 election -- including the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq overseeing the vote, political parties, the government, civil society groups and Iraqi election observers.

Kingsley refused to provide any details about the international mission's deployment.

"We will be very careful deploying people in known hazardous situations,'' he said. "We have not ruled out going into Iraq or parts of Iraq.''

The deteriorating security situation in Iraq has prompted calls for the elections to be delayed beyond Jan. 30, but the United States has maintained that the vote, which will select an assembly to draft Iraq's new constitution, should go on as scheduled. On Tuesday, a blast ripped through a mess tent at a military base in Mosul, killing 22 people -- most of them Americans.

Earlier this week in Ottawa, Iraqi ambassador to Canada Howar Ziad said the Iraqi government was "working to improve the situation.''

"We hope to get international support for the Iraqi election process,'' Ziad said.

Assessing an election required much more than being on the ground on election day, Kingsley said.

"We're talking here about an (Iraqi) electoral commission that is known to be independent, that is well-oriented, that has support from U.N. personnel on the ground,'' he said. "This is very different than when you have a suspect electoral body.''

The United Nations continues to appeal for international observers since it cannot determine the fairness of an election it helped organize.

"The presence of international observers adds an extra layer of credibility to any electoral process,'' U.N. election chief Carina Perelli said. "Therefore, what we can do is urge, call for, and plead for international groups to come to the fore.

"We not only welcome the Canadian effort but we urge other groups to come to the front and to send observers to this process.''

The Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe said Wednesday it will not send observers to Iraq, and the European Union also reportedly opted out.

The United Nations has helped train Iraqi election observers, who will likely be key to assessing the vote.

Iraqi nongovernmental organizations aim to have 10,000 national observers, who would be deployed at between 7,000 and 9,000 polling stations, the officials said.

The International Organization of Migration, which is not a U.N. agency, is organizing voting for Iraqis living abroad.

The United Nations said registration for overseas Iraqi voters was expected to occur Jan. 17-23, though officials said agreements have not yet been signed with all 14 countries where voting is expected to take place.

Kingsley said the international mission will send observers to monitor voting by Iraqis abroad.

Countries participating in the international mission will meet again in early January to take stock of the situation in Iraq, Kingsley said.

------

Associated Press reporter Phil Couvrette in Ottawa contributed to this report.
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U.S. coal-fired electricity plants among largest polluters
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
January 12, 2005

MONTREAL _ Power plants in the U.S. midwest and southeast spew a disproportionately large amount of continental air pollution, according to an environmental commission's study released this week.

The Ohio River valley, parts of Indiana, West Virginia and Illinois in the midwest and
Tennessee, northern Georgia and Alabama in the southeast are pollution hot spots caused by coal-fired electricity power plants, the study by the Montreal-based Commission for Environmental Cooperation said.

It compared emissions from 1,000 fossil-fuel plants in Canada, Mexico and the United
States using 2002 data and found a small percentage of facilities are responsible for most of the pollution.

While the United States is easily the largest continental polluter because of the size of
its economy, its share of electricity-producing emissions is disproportionately large owing to its reliance on coal to produce half its power, the report said.

"This report shows that, site by site, coal-fired power plants are the dominant source of
harmful air emissions from the electricity sector in North America," says William Kennedy, executive director of the commission.

The commission was created by the United States, Canada and Mexico under the North
American Free Trade Agreement to ensure that environmental laws are observed under the deal.

The commission's 93-page report measured pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen
oxides, mercury and carbon dioxide, which can cause acid rain, haze, smog, and climate change, as well as toxic mercury found in fish that people eat.

A plant in Monticello, Texas emits the most mercury of the plants listed but the top
individual polluters are not all in the United States. A plant in Veracruz, Mexico leads the
continental sulfur dioxide list while another in Coahuila, Mexico produces the most nitrogen oxides.

The report dispels notions that Mexico is a large polluter because it is less developed
than its continental partners and that Canada is an environmental haven, co-author Paul J. Miller said.

Mexico uses coal for just 8 percent of its electricity and its three coal-fueled plants
produce many times less emission per capita than the United States.

Canada gets 60 percent of its electricity from hydropower. However, the country is also
home to the largest carbon-dioxide generating plant on the continent, in Nanticoke, Ontario. It spews 23 million tons of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, every year.

Only a few large plants use modern pollution-fighting technology to reduce emissions but that is slowly changing, Kennedy said.

"A number of power plants are currently installing new technologies to reduce pollution,
and this report helps set a North American benchmark with which we can show their
environmental achievements over time," he said.
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Organizers want swim worlds in Montreal
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
January 18, 7:28 PM ET

MONTREAL - Sponsors are coming forward to raise money for the swimming world championships, but organizers still need almost $5 million to ensure the cash-strapped event stays in Canada.
FINA, the sport's governing body, is expected to decide the future of the July 17-31 event Wednesday in Frankfurt, Germany.

"It's more than a bump in the road, but it's manageable," Roger Legare, the co-president of the organizing committee, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

FINA gave the local organizing committee until Tuesday to assure it would be able to meet the $30 million budget.

"We are ready to host this, the television schedule and contracts are set, so are transport and infrastructure needs," Legare said.

Last week, FINA refused a Quebec government request to bail out the event.

The world championships, which have never been held in North America, are expected to attract 2,000 athletes, coaches and officials from 160 countries.

The championships include swimming, diving, water polo and synchronized swimming, and have been touted as Montreal's biggest international event since the 1976 Olympics.

Dick Pound, co-president of the organizing committee and a former Olympic swimmer, has said that canceling the event would be a major blow to Canada's efforts to stage international sporting competitions.

"It would be unthinkable for a country like Canada to lose an event of this importance on the basis of a failure of funding," Pound said.

The last swimming worlds were held in 2001 in Fukuoka, Japan.
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Molson shareholders prepare to vote on Coors merger
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
January 28, 2005

MONTREAL  - Shareholders of North America's oldest beer company, Canada's Molson Inc., prepared to vote Friday on whether to accept a proposed merger with Adolph Coors, the third-largest brewery in the United States.

The US$6 billion (euro4.6 billion) merger would f orm the world's fifth-largest brewery if shareholders in Montreal _ and by Coors shareholders next Tuesday in Golden, Colorado _ agree to the deal.

The combined Molson Coors Brewing Co., with headquarters both in Montreal and Denver, would own brands that include Coors Original, Coors Light, Keystone, Molson Canadian and Carling.

Earlier this month, the Canadian brewer and Coors dramatically increased a special dividend to persuade wavering shareholders to approve their deal. The sweetened offer came after several shareholders, including some with significant holdings, said they would oppose the merger because they did not believe they would receive fair value for their stock.

Molson Chairman Eric Molson, a member of the Canadian-based brewer's founding family, agreed to waive participation in the dividend, which amounted to about US $50 million (euro38.4 million).

Several shareholders have contended the proposed merger was not equitable and did not give them enough money for their holdings. In past months, many analysts and shareholders have suggested an increased dividend or premium.

Ian Molson, the brewery's former deputy chairman who tried unsuccessfully to mount a rival bid for Molson, said he would vote against the merger, calling it a "bad transaction" for Molson shareholders. He said Molson, which has a larger market capitalization and stronger domestic base, would shift to a new U.S. headquarters with two Coors executives in charge.

"In my judgment, Molson has an ongoing ability to create value for its shareholders, substantially in excess of what is offered by way of the Coors merger proposal," Molson said in a statement earlier this month. "Molson should not be afraid of the future."

In Montreal, Molson has loomed large over the city for more than a century.

"I am Canadian," proclaim the Molson ads that dot the city; neon signs with the Molson logo hang outside many of the city's bars and restaurants.

The brewery, built on the banks of the St. Lawrence River in 1786 by John Molson, was the driving force behind the city's first public hospital, Montreal General Hospital. Molson also was a major investor in Canada's first railroad, eventually linking the country from sea to sea.

Though described as a "merger of equals" by the two companies, some in the French-speaking capital of Quebec describe the proposed merger as a U.S. takeover, largely because of the differences in their sizes. Others say just the opposite in Golden, where the company founded in 1873 is the largest employer in a much smaller town.

Last year, Molson had sales of US $3.5 billion (euro2.69 billion) , compared with Coors' $5.4 billion (euro4.15 billion).
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Molson shareholders vote for Coors merger
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Fri Jan 28, 6:38 PM ET  

MONTREAL - Shareholders of Canada's biggest brewer, Molson Inc., on Friday voted overwhelmingly in favor of merging with Adolph Coors Co., the third-largest brewery in the United States.

The $6 billion merger would form the world's fifth-largest brewery if Coors shareholders also approve next Tuesday, as widely expected.

The combined Molson Coors Brewing Co., with headquarters both in Montreal and Denver, would own brands that include Coors Original, Coors Light, Keystone, Molson Canadian and Carling.

Molson officials said that more than 80 percent of the shareholders agreed to the merger, whose chances were increased earlier this month after the brewers dramatically increased a special dividend to persuade wavering Molson shareholders to approve their deal.

"Molson management and the board are very pleased that shareholders have supported the merger and understood the strategic and economic value of the transaction," Molson Chairman Eric Molson said in a statement after the vote, which took less than 45 minutes.

He said the merger creates a company "with the operational scale and the financial strength to compete in the rapidly consolidating global beer market."

Warren Chippindale, a former director of Molson, said shareholders understood that it was likely the best offer they would get.

"I think that it was generous of the Molsons to offer the special dividends and not take it for themselves," Chippindale told reporters after voting himself. He shrugged off concerns that yet another Canadian industry was being dominated by U.S. interests.

"It's a big world and that's where the market is," he said. "I would rather see this kind of a merger than a takeover by a Miller or something like that."

The brewing giant SABMiller PLC had indicated it would be interested in making a bid for Molson should the pending merger with Coors fall through.

Earlier this month, the Canadian brewer and Golden, Colo.-based Coors dramatically increased a special dividend to persuade wavering Molson shareholders to approve their deal. The sweetened offer came after several shareholders, including some with significant holdings, said they would oppose the merger because they did not believe they would receive fair value for their stock.

It boosted the dividend to Molson shareholders to $4.53 US per share from $2.71 per share, or about $532.6 million in all.

Molson Chairman Eric Molson, a member of the Canadian-based brewer's founding family, agreed to waive participation in the dividend, which amounted to about $50 million.

Shareholder Francois Perreault said he was going to oppose the merger until the dividend deal.

"Molson wasn't really giving us a good deal. It could have been involved with more international corporations," said Perreault, after voting in favor of the merger on Friday, saying the dividend "pushed me over the edge."

Coors spokeswoman Laura Sankey said the company was pleased with the results of the Molson shareholder vote.

"We're confident that our shareholders will approve the merger," she said. "The proxies we have received to date already indicate a majority have voted to approve the merger."

Molson told shareholders on Friday that a vote by option holders Thursday was overwhelmingly in favor of the merger.

Several shareholders have contended the proposed merger was not equitable and did not give them enough money for their holdings. In past months, many analysts and shareholders have suggested an increased dividend or premium.

Ian Molson, the brewery's former deputy chairman who tried unsuccessfully to mount a rival bid for Molson, said he would vote against the merger, calling it a "bad transaction" for Molson shareholders. He said Molson, which has a larger market capitalization and stronger domestic base, would shift to a new U.S. headquarters with two Coors executives in charge.

"In my judgment, Molson has an ongoing ability to create value for its shareholders, substantially in excess of what is offered by way of the Coors merger proposal," Molson said in a statement earlier this month. "Molson should not be afraid of the future."

Though described as a "merger of equals" by the two companies, some in the French-speaking financial capital of Quebec describe the proposed merger as a U.S. takeover, largely because of the differences in their sizes. Others say just the opposite in Golden, where the company founded in 1873 is the largest employer in a much smaller town.

Last year, Molson had sales of $2.8 billion compared with Coors' $5.4 billion.
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Rogge visits Canada to promote 2010 Games
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
January 31, 6:25 PM ET

MONTREAL - IOC president Jacques Rogge, making his first visit to Canada since Vancouver was awarded the 2010 Winter Olympics, said Monday he was pleased with the organizing committee's progress.
Rogge also urged companies and Canadian citizens to support the games, saying the days of countries relying on their governments to finance the Olympics were done.

"We need the association of the corporate world to achieve success." Rogge said at a luncheon hosted by the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal. "Investing in the Olympic Games is the best investment you can do."

Rogge, who heads to Vancouver on Tuesday, spoke to political and business leaders as well as athletes.

He also met with Quebec premier Jean Charest and federal sports minister Stephen Owen earlier in the day, and said he was confident that Canada has the political backing to hold a successful Olympics.

Canada has twice had cities host the Olympics. Montreal was the site of the Summer Games in 1976, and Calgary hosted the Winter Games in 1988. The Montreal Games were plagued by financial difficulties.

Canada has set a goal to win 35 medals at the Vancouver Games, which would be second only to the 44 the country won at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

Rogge also spoke about the 2008 Beijing Games, saying that the IOC has been insistent that human rights be respected in China.

"We are absolutely adamant that human rights are a very important aspect of staging the Olympic Games," Rogge said, adding that Chinese officials had assured him that the games were a way to accelerate "social change."
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Bomb threats evacuate two stores
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Friday February 11, 4:59 PM EST

MONTREAL (AP) - Bomb threats were called in against two Canadian Wal-Mart stores in Quebec Friday, just two days after U.S. retail giant announced it would close the Canadian store where workers nearly won the first-ever union contract from the world's largest retailer, police said.

The stores were in the town of Gatineau, directly across the river that separates the French-speaking province from Ottawa, the federal capital. Gatineau police Sgt. Andre Pellerin said two phone calls were made to the stores claiming there were bombs in the buildings.

Gatineau police cordoned off the area and searched the stores while employees waited outside.

One of the stores was declared safe and reopened to the public, authorities said.

A spokesman at that Wal-Mart, Roger Lefebvre, told Radio-Canada TV the caller had said the bombs were to go off at noon.

CLOSING

On Wednesday, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. the world's largest retailer, announced it would close its store in Jonquiere, Quebec -- a move it said was in response to demands from union negotiators that would make it impossible for the store to sustain its business. The 200 workers at the store were close to winning the first-ever union contract from the company.

Wal-Mart officials said Thursday they anticipated a union-supported boycott of its stores -- a concern that surfaced after union officials last week, citing an impasse in the negotiations, appealed to Quebec labor officials to appoint a mediator.

But Henri Masse, head of the Quebec Federation of Labor, told reporters that a boycott would be ``put aside for now.''

FIGHT FOR UNION

Instead, Masse said labor officials would continue their efforts to unionize more Wal-Mart stores in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada.

Masse said the union would also push to have a first contract implemented at the Jonquiere store, even though the company has said it will close that store on May 6 due to financial reasons. The store is located about 155 miles north of Quebec City.

''We have the right to have a collective agreement imposed by an arbitrator,'' Masse said, adding that they would use all legal means possible to keep the store open.
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FAA says stricken plane offered clearance but refused to land
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday March 8, 2005

MONTREAL (AP) _ A Canadian jet that lost a large portion of its rudder during a flight off the coast of Florida last weekend was given clearance to land in the United States, but chose to return to Cuba, the FAA confirmed Tuesday.

Some passengers, however, said the pilot announced that he had  requested to land in Fort Laurderdale, a city just north of Miami, but was told that he wasn't allowed to because of the U.S. embargo against Cuba that doesn't allow commercial flights between the estranged countries.

Air Transat flight TS 961 lost a large portion of its tail rudder 30 minutes into an overnight flight on Sunday between Varadero, Cuba, and Quebec, forcing it to abort its trip to Canada.

None of the 261 passengers or nine crew members was injured, according to the airline, but passengers said they were knocked around as the plane had difficulties straightening itself.

``I was afraid of dying,'' Danielle Gagnon told The Associated Press by telephone from Quebec city on Tuesday. ``I thought it was over, but at least I was with my daughter.''

FAA spokesperson Laura Brown told the AP that the pilot contacted the traffic control center in Miami and asked to land in Fort Lauderdale, but was directed to Miami, where customs would still be open late at night and able to handle the flight.

The pilot did not declare an emergency and chose to return to Varadero, a decision made by the pilot and Air Transat control center ``because the company has access to maintenance staff at this airport," the charter airline said in a statement.

Brown said declaring an emergency would have permitted the plane to
land wherever necessary, but added the pilot probably considered he had
enough control of the plane and could not guess the damage to its tail.

The United States maintains a strict embargo on Cuba and no commercial flights travel
to the United States from Cuba. Canada has no such restrictions and is a
major investor on the island nation, a preferred sun-spot for
winter-weary Canadians.

Brown insisted Tuesday that the origin of the flight was not important and that the plane was directed toward Miami only because customs would still be open.

Passengers have told media in Quebec that the pilot told the passengers he was refused landing rights in Fort Lauderdale because the flight originated in Cuba.

Gagnon, a researcher for Radio-Canada, said she was sitting in one of the last rows and heard a loud noise. The crew initially said there was a problem with the auto-pilot and nothing to worry about.

As the plane's navigation struggled, the jet tilted and sent flight attendants falling, including one who was pinned under a cart. ``Passengers were screaming,'' she recalled.

Gagnon said the passengers became angry when the pilot announced the
plane could not land because ``Americans and Cuba don't agree with each
other,'' she quoted him as saying.

Other passengers have recounted a similar scenario. ``We were outraged,'' Gagnon said. ``It could have been a planeload of Cubans and it changes nothing. We're still human
beings.''

On Monday, the airline disputed the passenger version in a statement. ``It is untrue that American authorities were opposed to allowing the plane to land on their territory," the company said.

Several of Air Transat's Airbus planes were temporarily grounded
after the incident. All company A310s were inspected and no problems
were found, the company said. The damaged aircraft was put into service
in 1991 and had been inspected only last week.

An investigation by Canada's Transportation Safety Board is underway.

Last week, Air Transat's insurers _ not the airline itself _announced a $7.65 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit by about 175 passengers after their flight was forced to make an emergency landing in the Azores in 2001.

The pilot was hailed as a hero for flying the engine-out jet for 19 minutes before landing at an air base about 1,450 kilometres west of Portugal, though Portuguese officials later blamed the incident on poor maintenance and lapses in pilot training.
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Canadian cardinals candidates for papacy
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Tue Apr 12, 1:48 PM ET  

MONTREAL - Perhaps he is too young, and from the wrong continent, but Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec City has made at least one list of papal contenders that mentions no other American or Canadian cardinals.

Born in the small, remote town of La Motte, Quebec, and named a cardinal only two years ago, Ouellet, 60, has rapidly gained prominence and respect.

Though far from a front-runner, he has — in the eyes of some experts — the best chance of any North American cardinal to be John Paul II's successor. The National Catholic Reporter, a U.S.-based weekly, listed him as one of the top 20 candidates.

Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte of Montreal, an amiable and approachable archbishop, also has been mentioned in Rome as a possible compromise choice for pope, though in Canada his prospects are viewed as slimmer than Ouellet's.

Ouellet speaks six languages and has traveled extensively, teaching philosophy in Colombia, earning philosophy and theology degrees in Rome. In 2001, he was consecrated bishop by the pope and the following year promoted to archbishop of Quebec and primate of Canada.

Ouellet is considered a traditionalist; he has advocated the return to Eucharistic adoration and Gregorian chant and had a good relationship with the late pontiff.

Earlier this year, Ouellet issued an open letter to Canadians, urging them to defend the traditional definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. Canada's Parliament is currently debating whether to make same-sex marriage legal nationwide, as it already is in seven provinces and territories.

Ouellet called gay marriage "offensive to the moral and religious sensibility of a great number of citizens, both Catholic and non-Catholic."

Some believe Ouellet is too young to be considered for the papacy; publicly at least, he seems to agree.

"I'm just a young bishop," Ouellet said. "You have plenty of good candidates among the cardinals who have long experience."

But some local experts are excited about his career prospects.

Ouellet has "the stature of someone who could be pope," said McGill University Catholic Studies director John Zucchi. "He has an acute intelligence and intellectual capacity with a strong theological background and language skills."

If Ouellet represents the intellect of the church in Canada, Turcotte represents the heart. Turcotte, 68, seems as comfortable ministering to dock workers or soup-kitchen clients as he does in the halls of the Vatican, Zucchi says.

In 1984 Turcotte was a chief organizer of Pope John Paul II's 12-day visit to Canada and in 1990 was named archbishop of Montreal. He became a cardinal in 1994, and in 1997 was elected president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Although the longest-serving of three active Canadian cardinals, and mentioned in Rome as a possible contender, Turcotte "would not be on any man's short list," Zucchi says. "He has no broad experience beyond his own diocese."

Canada's third active cardinal is Aloysius Matthew Ambrozic, 75, the archbishop of Toronto.

There are roughly 13 million Catholics in Canada, about 43 percent of the population, and nearly half of them live in the French-speaking province of Quebec.
Even in Quebec, however, the church has lost much of its power and influence. Attendance at Mass has dwindled and numerous churches have been put up for sale in recent years.
-----------------------------------------------

WHO says flu stains still sought
The Associated Press
Tue Apr 19, 8:06 PM ET  

GENEVA - South Korea has joined Mexico and Lebanon as countries that have yet to destroy all samples of the killer influenza virus they received as part of routine test kits, the U.N. health agency said Tuesday.

But all three countries have made progress in tracing the missing shipments from the United States and the total destruction of the samples is possible, said Klaus Stohr, influenza chief of the World Health Organization.

Because of fears of a global pandemic should the virus be released, WHO has been urging destruction of the 50-year-old H2N2 virus. The kits were sent to 61 laboratories in 18 countries outside the United States.

"We believe that within the next hours, perhaps days, the matter will be resolved," Stohr told reporters.

U.S. laboratories, which received the vast majority of the 3,747 kits sent out in October and February, have destroyed more than 98 percent of them, Stohr said.

Nancy Cox, head of the influenza branch of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said officials have received written confirmation that 86 percent of the samples worldwide had been destroyed.

"Things have gone extremely well," she said, speaking at the World Vaccine Congress in Montreal. "There's been a very concerted global effort."

The shipper of the sample that went astray in Lebanon had turned it over to another shipper for local delivery, but it never arrived at the intended laboratory and work was underway to locate the kit with the delivery service so that it can be destroyed, he said.

"We have a little bit of a loose end here," Stohr said, adding that both authorities and the shippers are working on locating and destroying the virus.

The missing shipment to Mexico has been tracked down in a warehouse, Stohr added.

The Mexican Health Department said last week that the missing sample "never arrived in Mexico."

But Stohr said once the sample was found in a warehouse, the Mexican authorities wanted to send it back to the United States "because nobody wanted to pay the import tax and the government did not allow the sample to the leave the country."

"A team is now on its way from Mexico City to that bonded warehouse where the sample is going to be rounded up and is going to be destroyed," Stohr said.

Three South Korean laboratories said they had never received shipments made last year, but the shipper has signatures indicating that the packages were delivered to them and an attempt is being made to determined what happened to them, Stohr said.

Chile said a kit it sent back to the United States in March remains unaccounted for, but WHO spokeswoman Maria Cheng said the agency understood that the shipper in Texas had attested in writing that the kit materials were destroyed.

The so-called "Asian flu" strain of 1957 killed between 1 million and 4 million people. It has not been included in flu vaccines since 1968, and anyone born after that date has little or no immunity to it.

Most of the samples were sent starting last year at the request of the College of American Pathologists, which helps labs do proficiency testing. The last shipments were sent out in February.

WHO understands that the decision to include the virus was made by someone at the U.S. firm Meridian Bioscience Inc., Stohr said.

"It was extremely unwise and shortsighted," he said. "If you want somebody to prove his capacity in doing certain microbiological tests, if you can do this with a very benign virus, why would you put a very pathogenic virus which can cause a pandemic in such proficiency testing."

He said the case had also raised concerns about the distribution of microbes, and noted that until health authorities raised the alarm over the testing kits two weeks ago it was possible to buy H2N2 over the Internet.

Once the samples are destroyed, health authorities will turn to tightening controls in general, Stohr said.

No one knows how many national laboratories around the world have stored the H2N2 virus over the years in their own refrigerators and how secure those samples are, he said.

----

Associated Press writer Phil Couvrette contributed to this report from Montreal.

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Canada's foreign minister denies he's candidate for OAS
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
April 27, 2005

MONTREAL - Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Pierre Pettigrew said Wednesday that he's flattered by reports he might be the next leader of the Organization for American States, but he isn't a candidate.

Recent media reports have said the minister _ who speaks fluent English, French and Spanish _ is emerging as a consensus candidate as secretary general of the 34-member organization. Five rounds of voting for a new leader have so far resulted in a stalemate; the next vote is scheduled May 2.

Chile's Interior Minister Jose Miguel Insulza and Mexico's Secretary of Foreign Affairs Luis Ernesto Derbez have garnered 17 votes apiece.

Analysts have put forward Pettigrew because of his fluent Spanish and his work as Canada's minister of international trade from 1999 to 2003. Canada has never headed the OAS, which it joined in 1990.

Pettigrew, speaking to a group of business leaders on Canada's revamped foreign policy and taking questions from reporters, said the "unprecedented" deadlock at the OAS made it natural for various scenarios to emerge.

But he said he was neither a candidate nor campaigning for the job, and reminded the audience that Ottawa was backing Derbez.

"Certain members (of the OAS) do not like this present situation and think that if a consensus candidate could emerge it would be better for the organization," he said, adding it was up to the two leading candidates to resolve the issue.

Pettigrew, however, did leave open the possibility that "backroom discussions of interest to me" may occur during a Community of Democracies meeting in Santiago, which begins Thursday.

Pettigrew, from Canada's French-speaking province of Quebec, has in the past indicated he hoped to be involved with an international organization following his political career.

"We will cross the bridge when we arrive at the river," he said of a possible OAS nomination.

Pettigrew could soon be out of a job. Prime Minister Paul Martin's minority government is crumbling under a corruption scandal and the opposition Conservative Party is threatening a no-confidence vote that could soon topple his Liberal Party-led Parliament.

Analysts have said Canada's role as mediator in the Americas is making it an attractive country from which to draw a potential leader. Pettigrew could gather the support of the United States, a close ally, and Latin American countries interested in choosing the leader of a neutral country able to have influence in Washington.


---------------------------------------------------------

Poll indicates French Quebec, angered by scandal, would vote for sovereignty
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Fri Apr 29, 7:28 PM ET  

MONTREAL-A decade after Quebec's failed referendum on defection from the rest of Canada, people in the French-speaking province are once again fired up about the possibility of going their own way.

Outraged over revelations of millions of dollars in kickbacks and money laundering in a program designed to keep Quebecois in the national fold, a new poll indicates a majority of them are so disgusted with the federal government that they would prefer sovereignty if a vote were held today.

The national unity program that is under so much scrutiny today - and threatening to topple the current minority Liberal government - was born from the narrow defeat of a sovereignty referendum in 1995.

Then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien and his Liberal Party established a fund that is now alleged to have funneled millions of dollars to advertising firms to promote nationalism in Quebec, but apparently did little or no work.

A Leger Marketing survey conducted for The Globe and Mail and Montreal Le Devoir newspapers showed 54 percent of respondents in Quebec would support sovereignty in a referendum that also offered some form of economic and political partnership with the rest of English-speaking Canada.

The entire country has recoiled from the government scandal, but nowhere has passion been more vivid than in Quebec. The most explosive revelations have emerged since the federal inquiry moved to Montreal, where it has been televised live, playing like a daily political soap opera to big audiences.

The actors - businessmen who benefited from the nationalism program - are Francophone, leaving Quebecers doubly enraged at being portrayed as crooks.

"I had to see this with my own eyes," said Remy Laforet, a retired Quebec nationalist who was observing the inquiry in a federal building in downtown Montreal, which is being broadcast on a giant screen in an adjacent auditorium. "It's just one scandal after scandal."

Pollster Jean-Marc Leger said Quebecers "want to blow off some steam and they will do it the first chance they head to the polls."

But their anger likely will be directed toward the Liberals, and not focused so much on the renewal of independence.

Leger polls accurately predicted the final tally of the 1995 referendum, in which federalists eked by with 50.6 percent.

Federalist leaders have urged people not to read too much into polls and remind Canadians that provincial elections in Quebec are not due for two years. The local separatist Parti Quebecois then would have to overcome the majority of Quebec Liberals and others who currently rule the provincial assembly before they could call a referendum.

Even so, Prime Minister Paul Martin has found it necessary to plead with Quebecers not to turn their backs on the country over the scandal.

"The separation of Quebec is not the answer to abuses like this," he said, reminding them his first task, after elections last June, was to dissolve the program and order an inquiry into the corruption claims.

Quebec's Intergovernmental Minister Benoit Pelletier, however, said the numbers should not be taken lightly.

"Those who thought that the idea of sovereignty was a thing of the past are mistaken," he said. "We face a very strong movement."

Canadians should not assume Quebec independence is right around the corner, countered Jack Jedwab, executive director of the Association of Canadian Studies, who was involved in strategy for the federalists during the last referendum and has been monitoring polls for years.

"There is always a degree of volatility on the issue of sovereignty. It enjoys its peaks and valleys, depending on the issue," he said.

A graph of polling since 1995 in Le Devoir showed a roller-coaster of results varying from 40 percent two years ago to 54 today.

The inquiry, however, has acted as a strong catalyst for nationalists, Jedwab says, conceding that if a Quebec provincial elections were held today: "I would be very afraid."

The demand for sovereignty in Quebec has waned since French was made the official language and the province gained significant control of taxes, education and immigration policies.

Andre Laviolette, a university student following the federal inquiry, plans to change his vote from Liberal to Conservative in the next federal election. While the scandal is deplorable, he said, the fate of the country shouldn't hang in the balance.

"You don't destroy a country on the basis of a scandal of a few million dollars," he said.

But for all their rage, 56 percent of the 1,008 Quebecers questioned for the Leger poll who said they would vote for sovereignty also want Quebec to remain in Canada.

"That's very Quebecer, it's a paradox," Leger says.

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Wal-Mart's Unionized Quebec Store closes
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Fri Apr 29, 6:43 PM ET  

MONTREAL - Wal-Mart Canada announced the closure of a unionized store in Quebec on Friday, a week ahead of schedule, prompting a senior union leader to call the retail giant "cowardly."

The store in Saguenay, whose employees formed a union last year but were never able to negotiate their first contract, was slated to close on May 6. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said the decision to close store, about 155 miles north of Quebec City, was "easy," since it had been losing money.

"Anyone who saw the store in the last few days should not have been surprised," said company spokesman Kevin Groh. "It was virtually a shell and there comes a time when it doesn't make a lot of sense to operate a department store without merchandise."

The world's largest retailer has fought off efforts to unionize its U.S. stores, but the United Food and Commercial Workers, or UFCW, has been making some headway in Canada. Michael Forman of the CFCW in Quebec accused the store of "cowardly" behavior.

"They accelerated the process of emptying the store because they're aware that next week there's going to be a day of action across the country at various Wal-Marts," Forman said.

Henri Masse, head of the Quebec Federation of Labor, called the early closing the latest "deceitful attack," and said it was an attempt by the U.S. retail giant to avoid the media glare as unions are planning a series of "actions" at Wal-Marts across Canada on May 6.

The company announcement came just as a provincial labor commission was to hear arguments Friday on a union motion aimed at preventing the company from closing the Saguenay store and other Wal-Mart outlets in Quebec.

Groh said the employees received 12 weeks notice, would be paid until May 6 and would receive two weeks of severance pay for every year of service.

That means most of them will get between seven and eight weeks of severance pay as well as career counseling, he said.

"Under normal circumstances, they would be entitled to two weeks of working notice, so I think we've gone above and beyond, and it's something we're very pleased to have been able to do," he was quoted as saying by The Canadian Press.

Groh said union contract demands would have required the hiring of 30 additional full-time employees.

"The business could not continue and frankly we were unable to convince the union to accept a contract that would have allowed the store to continue operating profitably and efficiently," he said.

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Montreal Airport scare was food product
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Wed May 4, 2005  

MONTREAL -  A white powder that spilled out of a package at the customs area of Montreal's airport, causing four people to feel ill, was probably food-related and not related to criminal activity according to authorities.

In a phone message to the media Montreal police said that preliminary studies of the powder by a laboratory suggested it was a food-related substance and dismissed any ties to terrorism or criminal activity.

The powder spilled from a package the size of a ring box that arrived Tuesday night on a flight from London, Montreal police Constable Miguel Alston said.

Police said two people were being investigated in the attempt to trace the owner of the package.

British Airways spokesperson Honor Verrier said the package originated in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Eleven government employees were in the customs area of Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport when it spilled, Alston said.

Four people complained of throat irritation, headaches and difficulty breathing, said Eric Berry, a spokesman for the city's ambulance service.

Three were in stable condition and in isolation at a local hospital but were expected to leave isolation and be seen by a doctor before being released from the hospital, a spokesperson told the Associated Press.

"We are waiting for further information from the Montreal Public Health Department to determine the next step for these patients," said Glenn J. Nashen, a hospital spokesperson said.

The people who had powder on them were hosed down with water.

Police and firefighters sealed off the immediate area, as airport operations continued and no flights were canceled or delayed.

No passengers were exposed to the powder.
---------------------------------------------------------------
Pound gives FIFA doping ultimatum
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Mon May 16, 2005  
MONTREAL  -- The World Anti-Doping Agency is giving FIFA until September to comply with global rules on sanctions for drug offenders or jeopardize soccer's place in the Olympics and possibly affect the World Cup, WADA officials said Monday.

WADA says FIFA's insistence on six-month suspensions rather than two-year bans for serious drug offenses is in breach of the world anti-doping code adopted last year by Olympic sports federations.
"This is not acceptable," WADA president Dick Pound said. "There will be immediate consequences if they're not compliant."

WADA's executive committee, which met Sunday and Monday in Montreal, gave FIFA until its congress in Marrakech, Morocco, in September to make the changes required.

Because governments, such as Germany, also are signatories of the anti-doping code, they could deny FIFA access to stage events within their borders. The World Cup is set for Germany next year.

"One consequence might be that governments will not accept FIFA tournaments on their territories," WADA vice chair Brian Mikkelsen said.

WADA accepts FIFA's position that doping cases should be judged on an individual basis, but the sides differ on the length of sanctions.

WADA cannot sanction organizations such as FIFA, but can recommend measures to governments and national soccer associations.

Pound said last week he had spoken regularly with FIFA president Sepp Blatter and he "fully understands the problem and the need for making the internal rules code compliant."

FIFA gave unanimous approval to the code at its congress in Paris last year.

"In due course, they'll receive a response from our executive committee," said CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer, a member of FIFA's executive committee. "I don't understand.

"They agreed to what we're doing when we signed this document at our congress. I'm sure we'll get down to the facts, but I'm not sure everybody is working from the same set of information."

Countries paying their WADA dues earlier than before are a measure of the organization's growing influence and of the importance given to fighting doping, officials say.

"We're seeing strong recognition among the governments of WADA's importance and impact, demonstrated by their fulfillment of funding obligations," director general David Howman said.

WADA has collected 60 percent of its 2005 funding versus six percent at this time two years ago for the 2003 budget.

"The participation of twelve ministers at WADA's Foundations board meeting today sends a strong signal that governments are committed to the fight against doping in sport," Pound said.

WADA also said it will conduct 30 percent more out-of-competition tests this year, over 3,000 in all, focusing particularly on sports and regions where such programs are weak.

WADA also announced that Montevideo, Uruguay, would be the site of its Latin American regional office.

WADA said it will seek to organize a third world conference on doping in 2007. The first two meetings were held in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1999 and Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2003, where the universal code was adopted.

The WADA code, approved by international federations and national governments, sets out uniform rules against performance-enhancing drugs cutting across all sports and all countries.
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World's biodiversity Declining at an Alarming Rate
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Fri May 20, 7:08 AM ET  

MONTREAL — The world's biodiversity is declining at an alarming rate, threatening human well-being and future development and requiring important efforts and new thinking on conservation, a sweeping international report released on Thursday says.

The report is the second of seven reports billed as the world's largest study of changes to Earth's ecosystems and their impact on humans. It is the result of five years of collaboration between 1,360 experts from 95 countries around the world.

Human activity is responsible for a reduction of biodiversity, which degrades ecosystems and penalizes other groups of people, especially the poorest who depend most on them, according to the report presented at McGill University in Montreal to mark the International Day for Biological Diversity.

Entitled "Ecosystems and Human Well-being: the Biodiversity Synthesis Report," it was prepared by the U.N. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment with the cooperation of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

"The loss of biodiversity is a major barrier to development already and poses increasing risks for future generations," said Walter Reid, the director of the Millennium Assessment, "However, the report shows that the management tools, policies, and technologies do exist to dramatically slow this loss."

According to the report changes in biodiversity due to human activities were more rapid in the past 50 years than at any time in human history, and over the last 100 years species extinction caused by humans has multiplied as much as 1,000 times.

Some 12 percent of birds; 23 percent of mammals; 25 percent of conifers and 32 percent of amphibians are threatened with extinction, and the world's fish stocks have been reduced by an astonishing 90 percent since the start of industrial fishing.

"We will need to make sure that we don't disrupt the biological web to the point where collapse of the whole system becomes irreversible," warns Anantha Kumar Duraiappah, of Canada's International Institute for Sustainable Development, one of the co-chairs of the report.

The report notes that while efforts have helped reduce the loss of biodiversity more action is needed as little progress is foreseen in the short term.

"The magnitude of the challenge of slowing the rate of biodiversity loss is demonstrated by the fact that most of the direct drivers of biodiversity loss are projected to either remain constant or increase in the near future," the report says.

The report blames biodiversity change on a number of factors including habitat conversion, climate change, pollution and over-exploitation of resources.
----------------------------------------------------
Twenty-five years later, Quebec still ponders break
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Fri May 20, 11:47 AM ET  

MONTREAL - It was 25 years ago on Friday that Quebec held the first of two failed referendums on sovereignty, yet Canada still fears its French-speaking province will eventually break away.

That concern was played out this week amid the high-stakes drama on Parliament Hill, in which a key Conservative Party member defected to the Liberals and rescued the minority government from collapse.
Toronto MP Belinda Stronach said she feared the alignment between the Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois, whose chief mandate is the independence of Quebec, could lead to a breakup of the Canadian confederation.

"The political crisis affecting the country is too risky and dangerous for blind partisanship," she said, after joining the Liberals on Tuesday. "The country must come first."

In the lead-up to Thursday's no-confidence motion in the House of Commons - which was so close a tie had to be broken by the speaker - Prime Minister Paul Martin's minority government lashed out against the Conservative opposition for "jumping into bed with separatists."

The Conservatives several months ago paired themselves with the Bloc Quebecois, the federal party created in 1990 to represent Quebecers who are seeking independence for the massive eastern province.

The Conservatives seized on a corruption scandal within the Liberal Party, one that grew from national unity program in the 1990s to keep Quebec in the national fold. An auditor general's report determined millions of dollars from the fund went to Liberal-friendly advertising firms for little or no apparent work in return.

The corruption allegations led to the party's minority standing in Parliament after losing seats in national elections last year and the near-death vote of confidence on Thursday.

Recent polls have shown the national unity fund scandal has so disgusted Quebecers that they would prefer sovereignty if a vote were held today.

After the razor-thin defeat of his no-confidence motion, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper apologized to Quebecers about the outcome.

"I profoundly regret that the only members of Parliament from Quebec to vote against corruption were sovereignists," Harper said. "And I do hope that ... you Quebecers will not move away from Canada because of Liberal corruption."

Support for sovereignty has reached levels unseen since the last referendum for independence in 1995 failed by less than a percentage point.

Last week, a Leger Marketing poll said 54 percent of Quebecers would vote for separation from Canada if given the choice today.

"Something dangerous is happening," Pollster Jean-Marc Leger said. "It's a wake-up call for federalists."

The same poll, however, showed that Quebecers remain attached to Canada and its symbols, such as the national anthem and maple leaf flag. Leger says the paradox is due to a shortage in options offered to Quebecers.

"For 40 years, they've been seeking change," Leger said. "On one side, there's sovereignty; on the other side, it's the status quo. They don't want either of them - but they're stuck."

While the concept of Quebec sovereignty has remained popular since the first referendum 25 years ago, the concept has been tarnished by violence and fears of terrorism. In 1970, a shadowy militant group, the Quebec Liberation Front, demanded total independence, kidnapped and killed Quebec's labor minister and abducted, but later freed, a British diplomat.

Today, any notions of terrorism in Quebec are tied to fears of al-Qaida sleeper cells operating among the city's immigrants from French-speaking North African countries Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco.

The demand for sovereignty in Quebec also has waned since French was made the official language in 1977 and the province gained significant control of taxes, education and immigration policies. The leader of the provincial separatist Parti Quebecois, Bernard Landry, said those born after the landmark legislation are key to sovereignty.

The law also imposed French education on most new immigrants to Quebec, making new arrivals and youngsters likely to "incarnate those who will manage a sovereign Quebec because they were born Quebecers," Landry said.

Landry said he sees another sovereignty bid within the next few years and hopes to hand the sovereignty issue over to the next generation.

In the end, what likely will keep Quebec from defection is that most Quebecers are unwilling to fully turn their backs on Canada.

"A real Quebecer knows what he wants, and what he wants is an independent Quebec in a strong Canada," Quebec artist Yvon Deschamps once wrote.
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On the Net:
Bloc Quebecois: www.blocquebecois.org
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NY Governor fears anti-globalization on the rise
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Wed Jun. 1, 8:26 PM ET  

MONTREAL -- New York Gov. George Pataki warned Wednesday that anti-globalization efforts were gaining ground, citing the stunning rejection of the EU constitution by the French and Dutch and the reluctance of many in the U.S. Congress to approve a free-trade pact with Central America.

"There is a growing sentiment against the free market, open economies and more globalization of the world's economy," Pataki said in a speech at the International Economic Forum of the Americas. "We saw what might be an element of that in France when the French people voted down ratification of the European Union constitution."

On Sunday, 55 percent of French voters said no to the proposed EU constitution, in part citing fears of job losses to outsourcing and other open-market consequences.

Dutch voters Wednesday overwhelmingly rejected the EU constitution, which was designed to further unify the 25-nation bloc and give it more clout on the world stage, but has instead polarized opinion across Europe.

Pataki also said he was doubtful that Congress would approve the Central American Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA.

"I'm not sure he'll get it through Congress," Pataki said of President Bush, "because there are those who are saying we have to protect the industries that are here as opposed to opening up markets both ways. I think that is completely wrong."

Many Democrats complain the agreement lacks labor and environmental protections to stop abuses of workers in poor, low-wage Central America. Republican opponents mainly come from textile areas hit hard by foreign competition or areas connected to the sugar industry, which considers CAFTA a threat to its future.

"I think we cannot reverse the tide of globalization," insisted Pataki. "I think we have to make sure it is done in an intelligent and balanced way, but we cannot build barriers to free-trade."

Pataki was paid for the speech by the Montreal Institute of Administrative Studies, a nonprofit group created to study the global economy and public administration. His usual fee is $15,000 to $20,000.

During his visit, Pataki also had private talks with Quebec Premier Jean Charest.

Pataki spokesman Kevin Quinn said the two planned to discuss New York-Quebec issues with the main focus on border security, trade and economic development. The Pataki aide said the two would also be finalizing plans for the third Quebec-New York economic summit to be held in Albany in October.

Quinn said Pataki would be returning to New York state Wednesday night.

Pataki held a news conference in Rouses Point on Lake Champlain just south of the New York-Quebec border earlier Wednesday to announce $1.8 million in grants to northern New York counties for a variety of projects.
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Hearing held for Notorious Canada Inmate
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Thu Jun 2, 5:37 PM ET  

JOLIETTE, Quebec - Notorious child killer Karla Homolka covered her face and appeared to be crying when her crimes were reviewed Thursday by authorities hoping to restrict her movement after her impending release from prison.

It was her first public appearance since her sentencing in 1993 after she pleaded guilty in the sex slayings of two southern Ontario teenagers Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French.

Homolka, 35, has served her 12-year manslaughter sentence and is set for release from a Quebec prison July 5, though federal guidelines may allow her release as early as June 23.

Wearing a salmon-colored suit, Homolka was escorted in handcuffs into the courtroom at Quebec Superior Court in Joliette, about 50 miles north of Montreal.

She became a symbol of evil to many Canadians when the horrific crimes she perpetrated with her ex-husband Paul Bernardo were revealed at his first-degree murder trial.

In what has been dubbed a "deal with the devil," Homolka got a reduced sentence by testifying against Bernardo. As part of the plea agreement, she was not charged in the death of her younger sister, 15-year-old Tammy Homolka, who died on Christmas Eve 1990 from choking on her own vomit after she was drugged and raped by the couple.

Judge Jean Beaulieu turned down a motion to adjourn by Homolka's defense attorney, Sylvie Bordelais, who argued the prosecution would be reneging on their original deal with Homolka by seeking limitations on her freedom.

Brian Noble, an officer with the Niagara Regional Police Service, reviewed the details of the kidnappings, rapes, murders and disposal of the bodies. He reminded the judge that the National Parole Board only last year determined Homolka was still likely to commit another violent crime.

Homolka, a model student and the oldest of three beautiful sisters raised in a middle-class suburb, was a veterinarian's assistant when she met Bernardo.

Prosecutors at Bernardo's trial said she was a battered wife under the spell of the charming Toronto accountant, whose final beating landed her in the hospital and caused her to file for divorce and go to police.

Bernardo, eventually convicted of raping 13 Ontario women or girls, committed many of the assaults during the first three years of his relationship with Homolka. Psychiatrists and criminal profilers told prosecutors Bernardo was a control freak and a heavy drinker who slowly lured Homolka into their partnership as sexual predators.

He came from an affluent home, prosecutors said, but apparently was furious to learn as a teenager that he was illegitimate, the product of an affair between his mother and another man. He is now serving a life sentence at an Ontario prison.

Homolka, who has legally changed her name to Karla Leanne Teale, is to be released from the Joliette Institution, about 60 miles northeast of Montreal. Her parents have said she hopes to find an apartment and a job in Montreal, having learned French during her prison stay.

As Noble went over the details of the murder of her sister, Homolka dabbed tissues to her eyes and appeared to be crying. She has been accused by the families of her victims and former inmates of showing no remorse.

Tim Danson, the lawyer representing the Mahaffy and French families, said he would be asking the judge to block Homolka from visiting parks, playgrounds or other areas typically filled with children.

"My clients, more than anyone, appreciate how dangerous Karla Homolka is," Danson told CBC TV outside the courthouse. "Karla Homolka got away with murder. They recognize she represents a serious threat to the public and they want to do what they can to protect the lives of other Canadians."

The Ontario government will use Section 810 of the Criminal Code, which only applies to individuals who may commit another offense or be a danger to the public, in arguing that her movements should be restricted once she is out of prison. They also will seek a court order requiring Homolka to submit a DNA sample for a criminal database, Michael Bryant, the province's attorney general, said Monday.

Bryant said he met recently with two of the couple's other rape victims to get their input into what restrictions they would like to see imposed.

Bryant would not say if the province would — or could — consider bringing new charges against Homolka in connection with one of the victims, known as Jane Doe, who told the Toronto Sun this week that she wanted Homolka to face trial for drugging, raping and almost killing her.
------------------------------------------------------
Psychiatrist testifies child killer Homolka not dangerous
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
June 3, 2005

JOLIETTE, Quebec - A psychiatrist said Friday that notorious child killer Karla Homolka did not pose a threat to society and no restrictions should be placed on her movements when she is released from prison.

Authorities from Ontario, the province where Homolka and her former husband Paul Bernardo committed their murders, are calling on the Quebec Superior Court to limit her movement once she is released.

Homolka was in the courtroom for a second day in her first public appearance since being sentenced in 1993 after pleading guilty in the sex slayings of two southern Ontario teenagers Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French.

Homolka, 35, has served her 12-year manslaughter sentence and is set for release from Joliette Institute on July 5, though federal guidelines may allow her release as early as June 23.

Homolka, who has legally changed her name to Karla Leanne Teale, is to be released from the women's prison about 100 kilometers (60 miles) northeast of Montreal. Her parents have said she hopes to find an apartment and a job in Montreal, having learned French during her prison stay.

She became a symbol of evil when the details of what she and Bernardo did to teenage girls were revealed at his first-degree murder trial and especially after videotapes of their crime spree were found.

In what has been dubbed a "deal with the devil," Homolka got a reduced sentence by testifying against Bernardo. As part of the plea agreement, she was not charged in the death of her younger sister, 15-year-old Tammy Homolka, who died on Christmas Eve in 1990 after choking on her own vomit after she was drugged and raped by the couple.

"Before meeting Bernardo, nothing in her childhood indicated deviance," Louis Morissette, a psychiatrist who evaluated Homolka last month, told Judge Jean Beaulieu, who must decide whether to restrict her movements.

"She did horrible things to save her relationship, to keep this link of affection," he said. "Despite the gravity of the crimes committed, if we take into consideration all the things that we presently know, is she dangerous? Not in the short term."

Homolka's attorney, Sylvie Bordelais, has argued the prosecution would be reneging on their deal with Homolka by seeking limitations on her freedom.

The psychiatrist was asked whether it was true that Homolka was having a relationship with a convicted murderer, suggesting that she was still associating with dangerous criminals. Reports have suggested Homolka has become romantically involved with Jean-Paul Gerbet, a French man who is up for parole in 2008 for the murder of his girlfriend seven years ago.

Morissette said he heard there had been a kiss between them.

"When you ask Madame Teale (Homolka), it was a kiss in the library that was seen by a guard," Morissette said.
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Judge Restricts Homolka's Post-Prison Life
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Fri Jun 3, 7:04 PM ET  

JOLIETTE, Quebec - Karla Homolka, whose involvement with her husband in the rape and murder of two teenagers horrified Canadians a decade ago, will be severely restricted in her movements and activities after she is released from prison, a judge ruled Friday.

Superior Court Judge Jean Beaulieu said Homolka must keep police apprised of her whereabouts at all times, may not contact her ex-husband or the families of their victims, and must continue psychological therapy. She cannot have any job that requires working with children younger than 16.

Homolka, 35, sat impassively as the judge read a long list of conditions and limitations, which her lawyer had argued would violate the original plea bargain Homolka made before she was sentenced for manslaughter in 1993.

Beaulieu said when Homolka is freed from prison in Joliette, about 60 miles northeast of Montreal, she must report to authorities where she will be living, report to police once a month, provide DNA samples, give officials advance word of any travel plans and continue therapy.

"This person refuses to discuss, in depth, the circumstances of the crimes during therapy," he said. "She is keeping herself from grasping their enormity and deprives herself of avoiding repeated offenses."

Homolka has served her 12-year sentence and is set to be freed July 5, though federal guidelines may allow her release as early as June 23. Her court hearing this week was her first public appearance since being sentenced after pleading guilty in horrific sex slayings of two southern Ontario teens, Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French.

She became universally despised in Canada when the details of what she and her then husband, Paul Bernardo, did to the girls were revealed at his first-degree murder trial.

Homolka got a reduced sentence by testifying against Bernardo. He was convicted and is serving a life term at an Ontario prison.

As part of her plea agreement, Homolka was not charged in the death of her own sister, 15-year-old Tammy Homolka, who died in 1990 after choking on her own vomit when she was drugged and raped by the couple.

"Today, Canada's justice system acted — not reacted — acted to prevent harm upon Homolka's release," said Michael Bryant, Ontario's attorney general. "Right now, certainly my thoughts are with the victims and their families. This has been a brutal period for them, to have to relive this yet again."

Homolka, who has legally changed her name to Karla Leanne Teale, has told her parents she hopes to find an apartment and a job in Montreal, having learned French during her prison stay.

A psychiatrist testifying for the defense Friday told the judge she was not a psychopath and unlikely to commit fresh crimes. Homolka, who was repeatedly beaten by Bernardo, has portrayed herself as a battered wife who went along with the rapes and murders to survive.

"She did horrible things to save her relationship, to keep this link of affection," said Louis Morissette. "Despite the gravity of the crimes committed, if we take into consideration all the things that we presently know, is she dangerous? Not in the short term."
---------------------------------------------------
Homolka's Transferred to another Prison
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Sat Jun 7, 10:02 PM ET

MONTREAL - Karla Homolka, whose involvement with her husband in the rape and murder of two teenagers horrified Canadians a decade ago, has been transferred to another Quebec prison after receiving threats and in order to avoid the media glare, a television station reported Saturday.

French-speaking news channel LCN says she was transferred to Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines, about 20 miles north of Montreal, after she received a series of threats during a week of court hearings that determined her movements will be severely restricted after she is released later this summer.

Her usual prison is in Joliette, about 60 miles northeast of Montreal. Police would not confirm the move or reports of threats.

Homolka, 35, has served her full 12-year sentence and is set to be freed July 5, though federal guidelines may allow her release as early as June 23. Her court hearing this week was her first public appearance since being sentenced for the horrific sex slayings of two southern Ontario teens, Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French.

She became despised in Canada when the details of what she and her then husband, Paul Bernardo, did to the girls were revealed at his first-degree murder trial. Homolka got a reduced sentence by testifying against Bernardo. He was convicted and is serving a life term at an Ontario prison.

As part of her plea agreement, Homolka was not charged in the death of her own sister, 15-year-old Tammy Homolka, who died in 1990 after choking on her own vomit when she was drugged and raped by the couple.

Superior Court Judge Jean Beaulieu ruled Friday that after Homolka is released from prison she must report to authorities where she will be living, report to police once a month, provide DNA samples, give officials advance word of any travel plans and continue therapy.
------------------------------------------------
Neil Young to headline Canada's Live 8 concert
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Sat Jul 2, 2005

BARRIE, Ontario - Located away from large urban centers and drawing a limited crowd, Canada's Live 8 concert offers music fans a more intimate experience and features the return of native son Neil Young.

Toronto-born Young, 59, was a late addition to the event and will crown the evening by marking his return on stage, accompanied by the Fisk University Jubilee Choir, three months after he was treated for a brain aneurysm.

Some 35,000 spectators are expected to see a collection of mainly Canadian artists such as the Barenaked Ladies, Bryan Adams and The Tragically Hip, joined by guests DMC and Motley Crue in the small town of Barrie, Ontario, 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Toronto.

Quebec diva Celine Dion will perform via satellite from Las Vegas.

The Canadian concert, hosted by Dan Aykroyd and Tom Green, was a late addition to the world-wide event to raise awareness for poverty in Africa after organizers were pleased by the response from European countries and the U.S.

Aykroyd says any effort to bring awareness to poverty in Africa can go a long way. "Nobody's ever doing enough when you're talking about that kind of poverty," he told a local radio station.

Organizer Bob Geldof says Canada is in better position to increase aid to Africa because it has enjoyed years of budget surpluses. Canada's aid rate is hovering between only 0.2 and 0.3 percent of its gross domestic product.

"The hope is that the massive public outcry of concerts will convince them to take the step in terms of debt reduction and better trade rules," singer Bruce Cockburn said in the week before the concert.

Concertgoers lining up two hours before the 11 a.m. (1500 GMT) start say the event has gradually made African aid a topic of conversation.

"I do not know if it is going to bring anything, but now everybody talks about it, so it is good," said Brent Johnson, 30, who lives west of Toronto.

The weather was expected to be sunny and around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 Celsius).

The full lineup is: Barenaked Ladies, Bruce Cockburn, Bryan Adams, The Bachman Cummings Band, Celine Dion, Deep Purple, Gordon Lightfoot, Jann Arden, Jet, Motley Crue, Our Lady Peace, Sam Roberts, Simple Plan, Tom Cochrane and The Tragically Hip.
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Cochrane kicks off Canada's Live 8 concert
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Sat Jul 2, 6:25 PM ET  

BARRIE, Ontario - Canadian favorite     Tom Cochrane kicked off Canada's Live 8 concert with "Life is a Highway" before 35,000 roaring fans, moving the global event into North America.
Concertgoers also sang along with     Bryan Adams, jumped and bodysurfed to A Simple Plan and heard local favorite     Bruce Cockburn pull out his catalogue of hits.

Live 8, which is intended to encourage increased aid for Africa, started off Saturday in Japan, then worked its way across Africa and Europe. The other North American venue, Philadelphia, started an hour later than the concert in Barrie, about 50 miles north of Toronto.

Thousands of pairs of arms went up at noon as concertgoers in Canada joined others around the world and followed actor and musician     Will Smith's lead from a satellite feed from Philadelphia, snapping their fingers their fingers every three seconds to mark a death in Africa.

But the taped performance of Quebec diva     Celine Dion had some detractors.

"She could have afforded to fly," remarked a disappointed Liz Tomassetti, who otherwise rated the show as "excellent".

Before starting the concert, Cochrane called on Canadians to make a donation and called on     Prime Minister Paul Martin to increase aid for poverty stricken Africa.

"I think that he has to realize that there are a lot of Canadians that really want something done," he said.

Just after Cochrane spoke the gates opened and hundreds of fans, some who slept out over night, ran onto the grounds of Park Place to get the choice spots.

"Canadians care! Canadians care!" Host     Dan Aykroyd cried to the fans before Cochrane took to the stage.

Located away from large urban centers and drawing a limited crowd, Canada's Live 8 concert offered music fans a more intimate experience and the return of native son     Neil Young.

Toronto-born Young, 59, a late addition to the event, was marking his return on stage three months after being treated for a brain aneurysm.

Some 35,000 fans heard a collection of mainly Canadian artists such as the Barenaked Ladies and The Tragically Hip, joined by guests DMC and Motley Crue in the small town of Barrie.

The Canadian concert, hosted by Aykroyd and     Tom Green, was a late addition to the world-wide event to raise awareness for poverty in Africa after organizers were pleased by the response from European countries and the United States.

Organizer     Bob Geldof said Canada is in better position to increase aid to Africa because it has enjoyed years of budget surpluses.

"Today we are part of the biggest rock concert in history," Adams told the crowd. "We're seeing people power. I believe in that."

Concertgoers lined up two hours before the 11 a.m. start.

"I do not know if it is going to bring anything, but now everybody talks about it, so it is good," said Brent Johnson, 30, who lives west of Toronto.

The giant stage was flanked with two Live 8 banners featuring the golden guitar logo over a Canadian flag. They read: "We don't want your money. We want your voice."
------------------------------------------------------------------

Neil Young closes Canada's Live 8 concert
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Sunday Jul 3, 2005  

BARRIE, Ontario - Neil Young brought an end to the global Live 8 concert in Canada with a rousing edition of "Keep on Rockin' In The Free world" and "O Canada" before 35,000 roaring fans at Live 8 in Ontario.

The setting sun fittingly accompanied the closing ballads of the Toronto-born Young, 59. The concert marked Young's return on stage three months after being treated for a brain aneurysm.

The artists, some 20 bands and individuals in all, signed off with Young's trademark "Keep on Rockin' In The Free world" before being joined by the crowd in the singing of "O Canada."

Canadian favorite Tom Cochrane kicked off Canada's Live 8 concert with "Life is a Highway" before 35,000 roaring fans, moving the global event into North America.

Concertgoers also sang along with Bryan Adams, jumped and bodysurfed to A Simple Plan and heard local favorite Bruce Cockburn pull out his catalogue of hits.

Live 8, which is intended to encourage increased aid for Africa, started off Saturday in Japan, then worked its way across Africa and Europe. The other North American venue, Philadelphia, started an hour later than the concert in Barrie, about 50 miles north of Toronto.

Thousands of pairs of arms went up at noon as concertgoers in Canada joined others around the world and followed actor and musician Will Smith's lead from a satellite feed from Philadelphia, snapping their fingers every three seconds to mark the child death rate in Africa.

But the taped performance of Quebec diva Celine Dion had some detractors.

"She could have afforded to fly," remarked a disappointed Liz Tomassetti, who otherwise rated the show as "excellent".

Local area paramedics said some 80 people were treated for heat strokes and scrapes. Before starting the concert, Cochrane called on Canadians to make a donation and called on Prime Minister Paul Martin to increase aid for poverty stricken Africa.

"I think that he has to realize that there are a lot of Canadians that really want something done," he said.

Just after Cochrane spoke the gates opened and hundreds of fans, some who slept out over night, ran onto the grounds of Park Place to get the choice spots.

"Canadians care! Canadians care!" Host Dan Aykroyd cried to the fans before Cochrane took to the stage.

Located away from large urban centers and drawing a limited crowd, Canada's Live 8 concert offered music fans a more intimate experience.

The Canadian concert, hosted by Aykroyd and Tom Green, was a late addition to the worldwide event and displayed a collection of mainly homegrown artists such as the Barenaked Ladies and The Tragically Hip.

Organizer Bob Geldof said Canada is in better position to increase aid to Africa because it has enjoyed years of budget surpluses.

"Today we are part of the biggest rock concert in history," Adams told the crowd. "We're seeing people power. I believe in that."

Concertgoers lined up two hours before the 11 a.m. start.

"I do not know if it is going to bring anything, but now everybody talks about it, so it is good," said Brent Johnson, 30, who lives west of Toronto.
----------------------------------------------------------------------

Rebound in air travel forecast
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Friday Jun 29, 2005  

MONTREAL, Canada (AP) -- Global passenger traffic will continue to take off in the next three years after rebounding strongly last year, having recovered from the Sept. 11 terror attacks and SARS outbreak, the U.N. civil aviation agency reported Thursday.

According to the latest forecast of the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization, traffic will continue its rebound of 2004, with world airline passenger traffic expected to expand by 7.6 percent, 6.5 percent and 6.2 percent in 2005, 2006 and 2007, respectively.

The Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on New York and Washington and a slowing world economy hurt airline traffic in 2001 and 2002.

The following year, traffic was further dented by the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, and the war in Iraq.

The U.N. agency said airline travel began to recover in the second half of 2003 and that it rebounded by 14 percent last year, due in part to the strong recovery of airlines in the Asia-Pacific region, which was most severely affected by SARS.

The agency said that stronger regional economies and sustained growth in the Middle East, as well as a slight decline in the cost of travel, also help explain the rebound.

The agency predicted airline traffic in the Middle East likely would grow the most, averaging some 10.9 percent a year from 2005 through 2007.

Asia-Pacific airlines also should experience above-average traffic levels, ICAO estimates.
For the remainder of 2005, European and North American airline markets were expected to grow at more than seven percent and six percent, respectively, but growth rates for 2006 and 2007 are projected to be slightly lower.

Traffic for Latin American airlines and the Caribbean, as well as Africa, is expected to grow somewhat below the overall annual growth rates over the period.
----------------------------------------------------

Canada's governor general the pride of Haitian community
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Sunday Aug 21, 2005

MONTREAL (AP) _ More than a month before she officially takes the title of governor general of Canada, a descendant of slaves and child of political exiles from one of the world's poorest countries is already the pride of Canada's Haitian community.

Michaelle Jean, a Quebec-based journalist and documentary filmmaker whose family fled dictatorship in Haiti when she was a child, is set to become Canada's first black vice-regal, and at age 48, one of its youngest when she is sworn in on Sept. 27.

Though mostly ceremonial, the post carries great prestige. It's one of the oldest institutions in Canada, representing its official head of state, the Queen of England, while promoting Canadian sovereignty and national identity at home and abroad.

"We're always at the bottom, whether it's the violence and corruption back home or the gangs in Montreal," said Haitian Marie-Michele Comeau. "When someone's made it to the top, everybody gets very excited."

But while Haitians are rejoicing in Quebec _ the French-speaking province that is now home to 100,000 immigrants or descendants of the Caribbean island _ others are painting Jean as a former supporter of Quebec independence who doesn't deserve to represent Canada.

Still others have claimed the stunning black woman is a token and a pawn, picked by Prime Minister Paul Martin to boost the slipping support of federalism and his Liberal Party in Quebec.

The allegations have tempered the joy among the Haitian community.

"In the 30 years I have been in Quebec, I have never felt such a swell of pride as a Quebecer, followed by such disappointment among the Haitian population _ a disappointment that could well turn to anger," wrote Haitian-born author Dany Laferriere in the op-ed pages of La Presse newspaper.

The heated charges against Jean _ who holds dual Canadian and French citizenship and speaks five languages _ were launched by a nationalist publication that claimed she and her husband were once known in Quebec cultural circles as sovereignists.

Others pointed to a 1991 documentary produced by her husband, Jean-Daniel Lafond, in which Jean joined a group of well-known separatists in a toast to independence. It wasn't clear whether she meant the independence of Quebec or of the French Caribbean island of Martinique. The film was an exploration of the life of Aime Cesaire, a Martinique poet and legislator, and his influence on the Quebec independence movement.

The Quebec separatist movement is extremely sensitive to Canadian politics, one that can make or break politicians and contribute to the downfall of a government.

Though Quebecois narrowly defeated the last independence referendum in 1995, recent polls have indicated that if another poll were held today, Quebecers might vote in favor of some sort of autonomy within Canada. Many are disgusted by a multimillion dollar corruption scandal within a Liberal Party program to boost national unity in Quebec.

Jean remained quiet about the ordeal until Wednesday, when she released a short statement that confirmed her commitment to Canadian federalism and denied belonging to any political party or the separatist movement.

"I am deeply touched and wish to thank all those who have so warmly greeted the news of my recent nomination to the office of Governor General of Canada," she said. "Others have questioned my attachment to Canada and that of my husband, Jean-Daniel Lafond.

"I want to tell you unequivocally that both he and I are proud to be Canadians and that we have the greatest respect for the institutions of our country. We are fully committed to Canada. I would not have accepted this position otherwise."

Martin also issued a statement praising Jean.

"Canadians have a right to know that the occupants of Rideau Hall are unquestionably dedicated to Canada," he said. "At the time of her appointment, the governor general designate spoke forcefully of her love for our country."

The road to Rideau Hall, where the governor general lives, across the street from the prime minister in Ottawa, has been full of roadblocks and challenges for Jean, whose family fled Francois Duvalier's brutal regime to settle in Quebec when she was 11.

"I have come a long way," Jean said when she was introduced as the country's 27th governor general. "My ancestors were slaves, they fought for freedom. I was born in Haiti, the poorest country in our hemisphere. I am a daughter of exiles driven from their home by a dictatorial regime."

Jean became one of the first black reporters at Radio-Canada, the CBC's French-language television service, and went on to become a popular anchor and narrator for documentaries.

Most Canadians have indicated that Jean will proudly represent their nation, which was built by immigrants and is today one of the most diverse and multicultural in the world.
----------------------------------------------------
Canada's Supreme Court to hear challenge to federal detention of terror suspects
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
August 25, 2005

MONTREAL  - Canada's Supreme Court decided Thursday it would hear a challenge to the government's security certificates that allow federal authorities to detain terror suspects, or those who are deemed a threat to national security, without charge.

The appeal was brought by Adil Charkaoui, who was detained for 21 months on allegations that he is a sleeper agent for Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network.

Charkaoui, 32, was released on C$50,000 (US$42,000) bail in February and is fighting deportation to his native Morocco. He maintains his innocence and argues the security certificate violates both the Charter of Rights and Freedom _ Canada's version of the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights _ and the nation's obligations under international law.

His earlier challenges to the system were dismissed by a Federal Court judge and that decision was upheld by the Federal Court of Appeal in December.

Charkaoui called the court's decision to hear his case a victory in itself.

"I think this is a great day for Canadian justice, for the rights of refugees and immigrants here in Canada," he told reporters in Montreal, where he has been forced to remain since his release, wearing an electronic tracking device around his ankle.

The security certificate, a highly contentious provision of Canada's Immigration Act strengthened after the 9/11 terror attacks on the U.S., means that some evidence against Charkaoui is known only by the government and the judge. Even the suspect's lawyer is not allowed to see the secret evidence.

"This case will help to determine Canada's future direction," said immigration lawyer Johanne Doyon, who has been representing Charkaoui for years. "Are we willing to put greater discretionary power in the hands of the government officials or will we uphold the fundamental rights of individuals, including non-citizens?"

Doyon said it would take at least six months for the case to be heard.

Four other men, all Muslim Arabs, are currently being detained under the security certificates, which have been condemned by human rights groups both at home and abroad.

All the suspects claim their innocence and argue they risk of torture or execution if returned to their native Algeria, Morocco, Syria and Egypt.

Amnesty International has claimed the security certificates have resulted in violations of fundamental human rights. A U.N. committee on arbitrary detention in June expressed grave concern about the jailings without the right to a fair hearing.

"We can't sacrifice democracy on the altar of the war on terrorism; otherwise we become like the terrorists," the U.N.committee's chairwoman Leila Zerrougui said after meeting the four suspects in jail.

The security certificates can only be applied to foreigners. If the certificate is upheld by a court, the suspect is then deported to his country of origin.

Convicted terrorist Ahmed Ressam _ the so-called "millennium bomber" who lived in Montreal before being nabbed in December 1999 trying to enter the United States on a ferry from British Columbia with a car trunkload of explosives intended for an attack on Los Angeles International Airport _ reportedly told authorities he had seen Charkaoui in a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan in 1997 or 1998.

Charkaoui denies the allegations. He was working toward a master's degree in education at the University of Montreal before his arrest in 2003. The conditions for his release make it difficult for him to resume his education and become a teacher, Charkaoui said.
-----------------------------------------------------------
American parents search for sons
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Wed Aug 31, 7:20 PM ET

MONTREAL - The parents of two young American men missing for nine days said Wednesday they believe something "sinister" happened to their sons, who were spending the summer in Toronto working for an adult entertainment modeling agency.

Steve Wright, 20, of Santa Rosa, Calif., and Mark Kraynak, 23, of the Pittsburgh-area city of Uniontown, Pa., were last seen at 3 a.m. outside a nightclub in Montreal on Aug. 22. They were supposed to return to the United States that day, via Toronto, where they had spent the summer working for the French Connection Francaise, an agency that provides strip clubs and adult entertainment firms with male models.

The police said they exhausted all leads and transferred the case to the major crimes division of the Montreal police.

Police said that they still consider it a case of missing persons. Constable Robert Mansueto says Montreal police were still not suspecting foul play.

"We haven't reached that point yet," he said. "We're dealing with the loose ends and reviewing the investigation to make sure nothing was missed."

The parents disagreed.

"There has been something sinister that has happened," Mark's mother, Janice Kraynak, said at a news conference. "That is my feeling, my mother's instinct, and it is not a missing person (case) anymore."

She and Wright's parents said their sons were typically in touch with them and would not go off on a whim without letting people know.

Kraynak's parents said he served with the U.S. military in     Iraq and received a Purple Heart. He was due to start his sophomore year of college this week.

The two young men were last heard from when they called another friend from a taxi at 3:15 a.m. saying they were heading to an after-hours club in the nearby city of Laval.

Stephan Sirard, the owner of the California-based FCF who was accompanying the two Americans in Montreal, denies the nature of their work had anything to do with their disappearance. He conceded people of the adult entertainment industry sometimes faced stalkers, but stressed nobody knew they were going to Montreal.

His agency is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to their whereabouts.
------------------------------------------------------------
Canadian leader calls Bush to offer support for Katrina
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, September 01, 2005  

OTTAWA - Prime Minister Paul Martin on Thursday offered President Bush his country's sympathy and support over the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, but the anticipated discussion over a bitter lumber dispute between the two neighbors did not come up, Martin's spokesman said.

The call had been scheduled for discussing the softwood lumber debate, but the fallout from the hurricane trumped all other issues, representatives of both leaders said.

"(Martin) began by expressing his personal condolences and those of every Canadian" during a 15-minute conversation, said spokeswoman Melanie Gruer. "And he told the president that Canada stands ready to help in any way at any time and that we're actually quite anxious to help."

Ambassador David Wilkins said other issues "pale in comparison" to what he said might be the worst natural disaster in U.S. history. Thousands are feared dead in the southern United States and tens of thousands of others left homeless as a result of the hurricane.

Bush said New Orleans suffered more damage than New York did in the Sept. 11 attacks, and promised a government recovery effort of unprecedented scale for the storm-ravaged city and the surrounding Gulf Coast.

Wilkins had been scheduled to meet later in the day with International Trade Minister Jim Peterson to discuss the lumber dispute, which has cost Canadian lumber companies more than $4.1 billion (U.S.) in punitive tariffs. The meeting was later canceled.

The two countries have been at loggerheads over Canadian lumber exports for two decades. But recent decisions by the World Trade Organization -- in favor of punitive tariffs on Canadian lumber -- and the North American Free Trade Agreement, which favored Canada, have angered both sides amid fears of a trade war.

"We know this isn't the time to be talking about softwood lumber," said Jacquie LaRocque, a spokesperson for Peterson. "Canada's focus right now needs to be support for our friends south of the border in light of Katrina."

Wilkins said both countries must return to the negotiating table to avoid souring relations over an issue that represents a small percentage of trade between the world's largest trading partners.

Wilkins, appointed recently by Bush to become the 21st American ambassador to Canada, was speaking at a newsmaker breakfast at the National Press Club of Canada in the federal capital. He resigned from the South Carolina House of Representatives, where he served for 25 years, to accept the post, which he took up in late June.

The WTO on Monday issued a confidential ruling to both sides that said it intended to issue a report in October supporting the United States, prompting Ottawa to declare it would consider retaliatory duties on U.S. imports.

"Talk of trade war and retaliation make good copy, but they don't make good sense," Wilkins said, adding that retaliatory tariffs by Canada against U.S. imports would harm both countries. "Friends negotiate, they don't retaliate."

Canada is enjoying a large surplus in its trade with the United States, he noted, adding softwood lumber exports were booming despite tariffs because of a strong U.S. housing market. Canada captures 34 percent of America's lumber market, he said.

"Both sides have much to lose if we fail to negotiate and much to gain if we do," he said. "We want both sides back at the negotiating table as soon as possible."
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Police confirm they found bodies of missing Americans
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, September 01, 2005

LAVAL, Quebec - Canadian police said Thursday they had discovered the bodies of two young American men who have been missing for 10 days, but were not yet sure whether foul play played a role in their deaths.

Guy Lajeunesse, a police spokesman for the city of Laval, just north of Montreal, said the bodies of Steve Wright, 20, of Santa Rosa, California, and Mark Kraynak, 23, of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, were found at the bottom of a rock quarry near a nightclub where the men had told a friend they were headed before dawn on Aug. 22.

Lajeunesse said the parents, who have been working with police on the investigation, had been told that the clothing on the men confirmed they were those of their sons.

"We're going to need an autopsy to show the cause of death," Lajeunesse said. "Right now, we don't know if they jumped, if they fell or if someone pushed them."

He said the men were found at the foot of a 50- to 60-foot (15- to 18-meter) drop of the quarry and that any fall - accidental or not - would have killed them.

The two men were last seen at 3 a.m. outside a nightclub in Montreal. They were supposed to return to the United States that day, via Toronto, where they had spent the summer working for the French Connection Francaise, an agency that provides strip clubs and adult entertainment firms with male models.

They had called a friend that morning to say they were headed to the Red Lite, an after-hours club in Laval, Quebec's second-largest city on a neighboring island from Montreal.

Kraynak was injured in Iraq with the 82nd Airborne Division and received a Purple Heart. His parents said he was due to start his sophomore year of college this week.

"We're devastated," said Joseph Kraynak, Mark's uncle, reached by telephone in Uniontown. "Mark was a wonderful boy. You couldn't ask for a better person."

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Police says autopsies of missing Americans inconclusive
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Wed, Sept. 7, 5:35 PM ET

LAVAL, Quebec - As the bodies of two young Americans found dead in a quarry in Quebec last week were being returned to their families Wednesday, police said autopsies didn't reveal whether the deaths were accidental or the result of foul play.

Guy Lajeunesse, a police spokesman for the city of Laval, said no trace of knife or bullet wounds or signs of violence were found but investigators were going to reconstruct their last days to determine how they ended up where they did.

"We still don't know if they fell there, if it was an accident, if they were pushed or if they were carried there," he said.

Last Thursday police found the remains of Steve Wright, 20, of Santa Rosa, Calif., and Mark Kraynak, 23, of Uniontown, Pa., at the bottom of a rock quarry near a nightclub, where the men had said they were going. They were missing for 10 days.

The autopsy found the two had multiple fractures and their bodies were in an advanced state of decay, making the investigation more difficult.

Police found a cell phone, wallets and jewelry on their bodies, making robbery an unlikely motive, Lajeunesse said.

Police termed the deaths "suspicious." They expect a toxicology report later this week to determine whether the two had been drinking or using drugs.

Authorities were calling on witnesses who had seen or met the men to come forward. They were still looking for the taxi driver said to have taken them across town to an after-hours club on Aug. 22.

The two male models were last seen at 3 a.m. Aug. 22 outside a nightclub in downtown Montreal. They were supposed to return to the United States later that day, via Toronto, where they had spent the summer working for an agency that provides strip clubs and adult entertainment firms with male models.

They had called a friend that morning to say they were headed to the Red Lite, a popular after-hours club in Laval, Quebec's second-largest city on a neighboring island from Montreal.

Lajeunesse said the bodies were to be returned to their families Wednesday.

Kraynak was injured in Iraq with the 82nd Airborne Division and received a Purple Heart. His parents said he was due to start his sophomore year of college.
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Fraud reveals workings of internet theft
The Associated Press
Sun Sept. 11, 9:14 PM ET

WASHINGTON — The illicit haul arrived each day by e-mail, the personal details of computer users tricked by an Internet thief: a victim's name, credit card number, date of birth, Social Security number, mother's maiden name.

One more Internet "phishing" scam was operating. But this time, private sleuths soon were hot on the electronic trail of a thief whose online alias indicated an affinity for the dark side. The case moved ahead in part because of an underground tipster and the thief's penchant for repeatedly using the same two passwords — "syerwerz" and "r00tm3."

Unraveling a scheme that also had hacked Kenyon College in Ohio leapt across continents and ultimately pointed toward a neighborhood in Granby, Quebec. It offers an extraordinary glimpse behind an Internet fraud that targets the most trusting computer users.

"This is really lousy," said Johan Fabris of Holmes, Pa. The 82-year-old grandmother had her online bank account hijacked. Her teenage grandson set up the account for her to sell hand-sewn doll clothes in Internet auctions.

"This was my first foray into the modern computer world. These damn people, life is complicated enough," Fabris said.

In such phishing scams, victims are fooled by realistic-looking e-mails that appear to come from banks or other financial institutions. The urgent-looking messages direct recipients to verify their accounts by typing personal details — credit card information, for example — into a Web site disguised to appear legitimate.

Despite warnings from the government, banks and security experts, consumers fall victim with disturbing frequency.

One industry organization, the Anti-Phishing Working Group, estimated that thieves collectively launch more than 14,000 such schemes monthly and that about 5% of computer users respond to the fraudulent messages.

"They make it look completely real," said Jennifer Phillips, 25, of Martinsville, Ill. She was tricked into disclosing her card number, mother's maiden name, bank routing number and more. "You wouldn't think this could happen to anybody living in the middle of cornfields," she said.

Internet sleuths from CardCops Inc. of Malibu, Calif., uncovered the latest plot.

A tipster pointed them to the thief's e-mail account and gave up the thief's favorite passwords, which the thief previously had shared with the informant, chief executive Dan Clements said.

CardCops monitors Internet chat rooms and other hacker communications for stolen credit card numbers, then notifies merchants and consumers to block bad purchases.

Clements said he logged into the thief's account — despite concerns this could be illegal — and found what he described as a "den of treasure" for identity crooks.

Clements said he discovered copies of victims' financial information plus tantalizing clues to the thief's real identity. They included an invoice for two Gamecube video games purchased with a stolen credit card and delivered to a family's home in Quebec, plus evidence the thief had tested his schemes using a high-speed Internet connection traced to a home computer in Canada.

"I'm so furious," said Cindy Brenneke of Sunnyvale, Calif., whose Bank of America credit card was used to buy the games.

She had been similarly tricked into disclosing her card number. "It was total stupidity," she said. Brenneke said roughly $4,000 in fraudulent charges were run up for music, movies and video games on Web sites within days of her mistake.

The person listed on the invoice as receiving the video games in Quebec denied any involvement in Internet fraud, telling The Associated Press in a brief interview he did nothing wrong.

But shortly after the interview, the e-mail inbox used for the purchases was mysteriously emptied and the password changed, said Clements, who said he kept copies of everything he found.

The fraud illustrates the conflict between quickly warning potential victims and preserving evidence for police to investigate. Clements said he immediately notified each consumer whose information he found in the inbox and later reported the findings to police before the AP called the home in Quebec.

The case also shows how hard it can be to get the attention of police.

Phillips said she called police in Illinois to complain, but a detective never called back. Brenneke said police in California offered to open a file on her case as a courtesy, but told her Canadian authorities would have to investigate. "It kind of stinks," Brenneke said.

Such experiences are common.

"Unquestionably, there are online crooks who are getting away with impunity," said Beryl Howell, a former top lawyer with the Senate Judiciary Committee. "Victims are fending for themselves."

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Quebec said it does not investigate online financial crimes. A city detective in Granby referred the case to provincial police but cautioned that any investigation would take months.

"There's sort of a hole in enforcement," acknowledged Marc Gosselin, a cybercrimes investigator for the Mounties.

Clements said he was unconcerned about the legal risks of reading the thief's e-mails, even though a former Justice Department lawyer said it could land Clements in trouble.

"Law enforcement can't allow self-help vigilantes to go around and do this," said Marc Zwillinger, a former cybercrimes prosecutor.

In the Canadian-based scheme, messages were routed through a computer in Macedonia. Official-looking e-mails were sent randomly on Aug. 23 directing computer users to visit a Web page and confirm details about their bank accounts. The counterfeit e-mails reassured would-be victims "this security measure will protect our customers from account thefts and any other fraudulent activities."

But the Web page did not belong to any bank.

Officials at Kenyon College in Ohio said someone hacked into a school computer Aug. 22 and set up the fake banking page. It transmitted victims' personal information to the Canadian e-mail inbox plus two other addresses believed to belong to thieves.

"It looked very genuine," said Tam Nguyen of Huntersville, N.C., who was tricked into revealing his credit card number, Social Security number, mother's maiden name and more.

"My wife saw the e-mail and told me to take care of it right away. Stupid me, I just went ahead and gave up everything," he said.

The school's director of information systems, Ron Griggs, said the break-in was traced to the same high-speed Internet account in Canada used to run early tests of the fraud scheme. He said 32 people visited the fake banking Web site before someone complained. The college shut off access Aug. 24.

In Illinois, Jennifer Phillips canceled her compromised credit account and is more suspicious these days. But she is under no illusion that what happened to her was an isolated case.

In the days after discovering she had been tricked, Phillips said she received two more urgent-looking e-mails pressing her to verify her bank account online.

This time, she deleted them.

Associated Press writer Phil Couvrette in Montreal contributed to this story.

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Homolka victims' parents to speak in Court
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Thu Sep 15,11:31 PM ET

MONTREAL - The parents of two teenagers killed by Karla Homolka and her ex-husband will be allowed to address the court when Canada's most notorious ex-inmate appeals the conditions of her release as unconstitutional, a judge ruled Thursday.

Federal prosecutors and Homolka's lawyers were in the Quebec Superior Court trying to block the families of Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy from speaking at the hearing set for Oct. 12, during which Homolka will contest conditions imposed on her release from prison in July.

Homolka was convicted of manslaughter in 1993 and given the relatively light sentence of 12 years for her role in the rapes and murders French and Mahaffy in the early 1990s.

In return, she agreed to testify against ex-husband Paul Bernardo, a Toronto bookkeeper serving a life term in an Ontario prison for two counts of first-degree murder.

In sentencing Homolka, prosecutors also considered her role in the 1990 death of her 15-year-old sister, Tammy, who died on Christmas Eve after Homolka held a drug-soaked cloth over her face while Bernardo raped her.

Upon her release in July, a Superior Court judge in Montreal ruled that Homolka must keep police apprised of her whereabouts at all times, may not contact her ex-husband or the families of their victims, and must continue psychological therapy. She also cannot have any job that requires working with children younger than 16.

Homolka and her lawyers will argue that the conditions and limitations violate the original plea bargain made before she was sentenced for manslaughter in 1993.

Judge James Brunton ruled on Thursday that the families can argue on "a very narrow basis," by trying to block Homolka's argument that the conditions break her constitutional rights.

However, they will not be allowed to intervene on whether the restrictions are too harsh or whether Homolka is dangerous.

Tim Danson, the attorney representing the French and Mahaffy families, argued that his clients had an "overriding interest" in taking part in the hearing.

"They are terrified with the prospect of coming face to face with Ms. Teale," Danson said, referring to the name Homolka now uses. "No one has been more directly affected by the actions of Ms. Teale and Bernardo."

After the judge's ruling, Danson said, "All the families could ask for is to be heard and have a fair hearing, and there is no question that we have that."
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WADA denies withholding information in Armstrong probe
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Tue Sep 20,8:08 PM ET
MONTREAL — World Anti-Doping Agency chief Dick Pound denied claims by cycling's governing body that WADA withheld information for the probe into whether Lance Armstrong used banned substances during the 1999 Tour de France.

"We tried to the best of our possibilities to provide the information that we have," Pound told a news conference on Tuesday after a meeting of WADA's executive committee.

Pound said he was puzzled by a request from the International Cycling Union for information on Armstrong because WADA did not exist at the time of the alleged doping incidents.

Pound said WADA was concerned about the "accusatory approach" by UCI, which accused WADA of withholding information.

"We were only formed after these events took place in 1999," Pound said. "We are unable to answer questions of what may have been on the minds of the UCI or the lab."

On Monday, the UCI denied Pound's assertion that its president, Hein Verbruggen, supplied information to the French newspaper L'Equipe, which reported last month that Armstrong's urine samples from the 1999 race contained traces of the banned endurance-enhancing drug EPO.

The UCI urged WADA to censure Pound or assign someone else to the case.

"I thought about sanctioning myself and decided against it," Pound said, joking.

"We're a bit nervous about the way this is going, so while we're willing to be helpful in the context of a full investigation, we're not there to participate in something that amounts to a search of how the information made its way in the public domain."

Armstrong has denied ever using banned drugs, and said he was the victim of a "witch hunt" after the article was published.

Also, Pound said Tuesday that FIFA was inching closer to compliance with WADA's anti-doping code after the soccer body revised its rules to allow WADA to appeal any FIFA rulings to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The arrangement amounted to "a good decision" avoiding future public confrontation, he said. Pound said this year FIFA risked expulsion from the Olympics because it failed to accept two-year bans for serious doping offenses.

WADA also announced that it approved the 2006 list of prohibited substances and methods, which would be published before October and go into effect on Jan. 1, 2006.

WADA said in a news release that the new list was a "consolidation list and includes only minor modifications."
-- ----------------------------------------------------------

Canada's Michaelle Jean was Haiti refugee
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday, September 27, 2005

MONTREAL — Queen Elizabeth II's new representative in Canada is a refugee from Haiti the first black and only the third woman to hold the title of governor general.

Michaelle Jean, 48, is also one of the youngest to hold the office, the highest in Canada's constitutional order. It is a sensitive if largely ceremonial post, dedicated to promoting a national identity for a vast country with deep political and linguistic fault lines.

"I have come a long way," she said ahead of her swearing-in Tuesday. "My ancestors were slaves, they fought for freedom. I was born in Haiti, the poorest country in our hemisphere. I am a daughter of exiles driven from their home by a dictatorial regime."

Her critics claim she is a token and a pawn, picked by Prime Minister Paul Martin to boost slipping support for federalism and his Liberal Party in Quebec. Some say she should have been disqualified from the position because of her alleged ties to Quebec's separatist movement.

Martin has stood by her, calling her a talented woman who will bring fresh perspective to Rideau Hall, the governor general's residence in Ottawa.

"Born in Haiti, she knows what it is to come to a new country with little more than hope," Martin said when he announced her appointment in August. Jean's family fled the brutal regime of dictator Francois (Papa Doc) Duvalier in Haiti when she was 11.

"She is a reflection of that great quality of Canada, a country which focuses on equality of opportunity," he said. "She reflects what we are and what we want to be."

Haitian immigrants have been rejoicing in Quebec the French-speaking province that is now home to 100,000 immigrants or descendants of the Caribbean nation. Other immigrants see Jean, the 27th governor general, as a symbol of what they or their children can hope to achieve in this multicultural nation.

Though once a British subject, the governor general who is also commander in chief of the Canadian Forces has been Canadian since 1952.

Bills passed in Parliament do not become law until the governor general gives them so-called royal assent, but this is done on the advice of the prime minister and his Cabinet and rarely does the governor general dissent.

Jean will also hold special powers to promote stability in times of emergency.
Outgoing Governor General Adrienne Clarkson was asked to extend her term as the country grappled with the uncertainty of Martin's minority government earlier this year.

The divisive issue of Quebec separation could plague Jean throughout her tenure, which is typically five years. A Quebec nationalist publication has asserted she and her French-born husband were once known in Quebec cultural circles as separatists.

Though Quebecois narrowly defeated the last independence referendum in 1995, recent polls have indicated that if another vote were held today, Quebecers might favor of some sort of autonomy within Canada.

Jean remained quiet about the issue until the furor grew so loud she was forced to issue a short statement confirming her commitment to Canadian federalism and denying that she belonged to any political party or the separatist movement.

Jean also announced Sunday that she would give up her dual French citizenship, which she acquired when she married French-born Quebec filmmaker Jean-Daniel Lafond.

The road to Rideau Hall has been full of roadblocks and challenges for Jean.
The daughter of an abusive father, she also survived cancer. Devastated by her inability to conceive a child, she and her husband adopted one of their own.

Jean became one of the first black reporters at Radio-Canada, the CBC's French-language television service, and went on to become a popular anchor and narrator for documentaries.

Most Canadians believe Jean will proudly represent their nation, which was built by immigrants and is today one of the most diverse in the world. Still, as she rises to the highest office on Tuesday, demonstrators plan to protest and demand an end to what they see as one of the last vestiges of their British colonial past.


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Capture, store carbon dioxide
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Tue Sep 27,7:53 AM ET

Montreal - Existing technology should be used to capture and store carbon dioxide underground to prevent emissions and curb global warming, experts suggested in a comprehensive report released by the United Nations.

The document recommends using existing and emerging technologies for capturing the carbon dioxide produced by power plants and factories before it enters the atmosphere.

Carbon dioxide is one of the gases believed to cause the so-called greenhouse effect, which is warming the Earth's atmosphere and is widely believed to be the cause of the planet's increasingly bizarre weather patterns.

"While the most important solutions to climate change will remain energy efficiency and cleaner energy sources, this new report demonstrates that capturing and storing carbon dioxide can supplement these other efforts," said Klaus Topfer, executive director of United Nations Environment Programme.

The report suggests emissions should be captured from sources such as electricity generation, refineries and oil plants, compressed and stored in geological formations, the oceans or in minerals, instead of being released in the atmosphere.

Such practices could lower the cost of mitigating climate change by one-third over the next century and potentially account for half of emissions reductions needed between now and 2100 to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere.

Could become increasingly economical

Storage of carbon dioxide underground could use much of the technology already developed by the oil and gas industry and become increasingly economical with technological advances, the report said.

The report estimates the risks associated with underground storage are similar to current practices of storing natural gas and that 99% of properly stored carbon dioxide would not leak during the next 1 000 years.

The 650-page report is considered the most comprehensive on the subject and was written by some 100 experts from 32 countries.

According to the IPCC, emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases could raise global average temperatures by up to 1.4 to 5.8 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

They will continue to affect weather patterns, water resources, ecosystems and extreme climate events. Scientists already have detected many early signs of global warming, including the shrinking of glaciers and Arctic sea ice, longer summers, changes in the migratory patterns of birds and the spread of many insects and plants toward the poles.

The IPCC report comes ahead of the first meeting in November of all signatories of the Kyoto Protocol since the treaty took effect this year.

The United States, which accounts for one-fourth of the world's greenhouse gases, has refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, saying it would harm the US economy by raising energy prices and eliminating some five million jobs.
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Canadian terror suspect fights deportation to Morocco
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Wed Oct 5, 2005

MONTREAL (AP) - Two years of living under the threat of deportation to a country where he could be tortured has left a suspected terrorist in a state of psychological distress, a Federal Court in Canada heard on Wednesday.

Adil Charkaoui, 32, was detained for 21 months on allegations that he is a sleeper agent for Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network, before being released on bail in February.

He was in Federal Court this week to argue that threats to deport him to his native Morocco are in violation of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as the U.N. Convention Against Torture and have left him psychologically frail.

"A psychiatrist has made me undergo tests and according to her I suffer from post-traumatic stress," Charkaoui told The Associated Press during a break in the proceedings.

Charkaoui is challenging Canadian legislation that permits deportation of non-citizens to countries where they may face torture and death. Charkaoui is living under the constraints of a government security certificate, which allows federal authorities to detain terror suspects, or those deemed a threat to national security, without charge.

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 the judge. This summer, Canada's Supreme Court agreed to hear Charkaoui's challenge of the certificates.

In his Federal Court hearing, Charkaoui was seeking to prevent his impending deportation while he awaits the Supreme Court hearing, likely next year.

Four other men, all Muslim Arabs, are currently being detained under the security certificates, which have been condemned by human rights groups.

All the suspects claim their innocence and argue they risk torture or execution if returned to their native Algeria, Morocco, Syria and Egypt.

"Torture is criminal in this country," Charkaoui's lawyer Johanne Doyon argued on Wednesday. "Why would it be any different with immigrants?"

Daniel Latulippe, representing the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, argued that while deporting someone to a country where he may be tortured is rare, it is not impossible under "exceptional circumstances," such posing a risk to national security.

"You have the power to look at these `exceptional circumstances' and decide whether they are sufficient," he told Judge Simon Noel. "You can intervene and say that the evidence is worthless. But this makes the process in accordance with the Charter."

Charkaoui, in turns, argues that he is innocent.

"In my case, nothing has been proven, I was falsely accused of simply having the profile of a sleeper agent," he said.

Convicted terrorist Ahmed Ressam _ the so-called "millennium bomber" who lived in Montreal before being nabbed in December 1999 trying to enter the United States on a ferry from British Columbia with a car trunkload of explosives intended for an attack on Los Angeles International Airport _ reportedly told authorities he had seen Charkaoui in a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan in 1997 or 1998.
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Key genocide suspect in court
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Fri Nov 3,9:22 AM

Montreal - Survivors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide looked on as the first person charged in Canada under the country's War Crimes Act appeared in court on Thursday to face allegations that he was a key player in the slaughter.

Desire Munyaneza, 39, was arraigned last month in Montreal on several charges, including two counts of genocide, two counts of crimes against humanity and three charges of war crimes.

He 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.

Claims of innocence

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 United Nations International Criminal Tribunal.

Munyaneza was living in Toronto before he was arrested in mid-October after being sighted by Rwandan immigrants. His lawyers claim his innocence.

Wearing handcuffs, Munyaneza appeared at the technical briefing in which prosecutors asked the judge to prevent the defence from revealing witness identities.

Ensure that justice prevails

Although the actual trial is months away, some felt justice was already under way.

"To see a militiaman in custody like that pleases me. It shows Canada is a country ruled by law," said Ones Mugarura, 40, a survivor of the genocide who lost friends and family in the conflict.

Paulin Nteziryayo, vice-president of the Page-Rwanda Association, which supports survivors of the genocide, praised Canada for showing it would not to be a haven for those accused in war crimes.

"Our goal is to make sure that justice prevails, that Canada can go after these people and discourage them from coming here," Nteziryayo said.

Munyaneza has been in custody since his arrest and will remain behind bars at least until his next court appearance on Monday.
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WADA Reiterates Complain concerning FIFA
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
4:08 PM PST, November 21, 2005

MONTREAL -- WADA said soccer's governing body is continuing to drag its feet over adopting two-year bans for first-time drug offenses, and warned FIFA of consequences for noncompliance with the World Anti-Doping code.

WADA chief Dick Pound, following a meeting of the organization's foundation board on Monday, said that the agency had refrained from declaring FIFA noncompliant in May, but gave soccer until its annual meeting in September to conform.

After determining FIFA's changes were insufficient, WADA referred the case to the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

FIFA's offices in Zurich, Switzerland, were closed but FIFA executive committee member Chuck Blazer denied Pound's charges.

"We've done everything necessary to comply, but now he's creating issues that don't exist," said Blazer, the general secretary of CONCACAF. "We're in full compliance."

WADA praised professional leagues such as the Women's Tennis Association, for adopting the code, but chided U.S. pro leagues for falling short, citing baseball in particular.

"While one has to admit there's some progress, it's not very much," Pound said.

Pound also said FIFA has not been transparent in its dealings regarding the CAS.

"To our great surprise and considerable disappointment, we learned indirectly this week that FIFA has submitted its own question to CAS and that they refuse to share with WADA any information whatsoever about this submission," Pound said. "It is an unfortunate course of conduct for FIFA.

"We want to make sure that we do the right thing because, if we are forced to confirm the declaration of noncompliance, this will have serious consequences for football and governments," Pound said.

WADA hopes CAS will rule quickly with the World Cup scheduled to begin in June in Germany.

WADA also said it selected Madrid as host city for the third World Conference on Doping in Sport in November 2007. The other cities considered were Bangkok, and Kuala Lumpur.

The conference is seen as an opportunity to assess the status of the fight against doping following the implementation of the World Anti-Doping Code, and to identify the next steps that should be taken.

WADA's board also approved a $23.8 million budget for next year, three percent higher than that of 2005, and said 80 percent of its 2005 budget had been received.

WADA also praised the U.S. for moving up the timing of its annual payment of dues to the agency.

"We are especially pleased by the actions undertaken in the U.S. by the White House and Congress to move up the date of its contribution," Pound said. "It is a significant commitment that, now with its timely delivery, will allow the Agency to allocate resources with greater confidence to critical programs such as anti-doping research and education."
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Teen with peanut allergy dies after kiss
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Tuesday November 29, 2005 3:46 AM

MONTREAL (AP) - A 15-year-old girl with a peanut allergy died after kissing her boyfriend, who had just eaten a peanut butter snack, hospital officials said Monday.

Christina Desforges died in a Quebec hospital Wednesday after doctors were unable to treat her allergic reaction to the kiss the previous weekend.

Desforges, who lived in Saguenay, about 155 miles north of Quebec City, was almost immediately given a shot of adrenaline, a standard tool for treating the anaphylactic shock brought on by a peanut allergy, officials said.

An autopsy was being performed. Dr. Nina Verreault, an allergist at the Chicoutimi Hospital in Saguenay, declined to comment on the case.

The symptoms of peanut allergy can include hives, plunging blood pressure and swelling of the face and throat, which can block breathing.

Peanut allergies have been rising in recent decades. The reason remains unclear, but one study found that baby creams or lotions with peanut oil may cause children to develop allergies later in life.

About 1.5 million Americans are severely allergic to even the smallest trace of peanuts, and peanut allergies account for 50 to 100 deaths in the United States each year.

Rhoda Kagan, peanut allergist at Montreal Children's Hospital, said Desforges' case is ``very rare and worrisome'' she said.

Reactions will depend on personal medical history and on how much peanut substance was ingested.

While giving a shot of adrenaline is requested immediately following such an attack hospitalization is usually required to monitor progress as 20 to 30 percent of cases patients can have a recurring attack, Kagan said.
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Youth at UN climate conference demand clampdown on emissions
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Tue Nov 29, 2005

MONTREAL (AP) - Not to be left out in the cold on global warming, hundreds of young people from around the world held their own summit on the sidelines of the U.N. Climate Change Conference, demanding government officials to clamp down on greenhouse gas emissions.

Following a five-day youth summit, activists released their own declaration Tuesday, which they will present to the ministerial segment of the Montreal conference next week.

"We, the youth of today and leaders of tomorrow, face an unprecedented challenge as a result of global climate change and share in the responsibility of addressing it," said the International Youth Declaration. "As youth, we have the right to shape the world we live in. We are already taking steps in our own lives and communities to realize our vision and we demand that our leaders do the same."

Using the slogan: "Stop asking how much it will cost you and start asking how much it will cost us," activists said they would organize creative events on the sidelines, including a "messy" hockey game in a flooded makeshift outdoor rink to demonstrate the impact of global warming on Canada's favorite sport.

Organized by U.S. and Canadian youth groups, events also include a march on climate change as well as protests against U.S. policy for refusing to join Kyoto.

The young summiteers, 26 of whom are attending the official U.N. conference, called for a greater presence at international gatherings in the form of a permanently funded "youth constituency."

The declaration further urged governments to develop renewable energy sources that would have less of an impact on the environment and set binding emission reduction targets of 80 percent by 2050 in developed countries.

From the early civil rights protests to last year's Orange revolution in the Ukraine, young people have been the force behind important change, said Billy Parish, 24, of New York.

"In each case, it was courageous young people that catalyzed that movement. We can do it again," said Parish, co-founder of Energy Action, a coalition of U.S. student groups.

Participants said a global effort of redesigning homes and cities should fight climate change and stressed that some North American universities were drawing up greenhouse inventories and developing wind and solar projects to cut emissions.

"Some of us have already been able to dedicate our lives to making sure that climate change is stopped," said Nia Robinson, 25, of Detroit, who demands inclusion of minorities in climate change debate. "Climate justice is the inclusion of the people who are the most impacted."

The youth summit featured presentations on topics ranging from the bleaching of coral reefs and melting of glaciers as well as expert views on the Kyoto Protocol.
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Boyfriend unaware of deadly peanut allergy
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Nov 30, 2005 : 4:43 pm ET

MONTREAL -- Thinking she was having an asthma attack, Christina Desforges burst into a friend's room and woke him in a desperate search for medicine.

Friends called an ambulance as her breathing grew labored, but Desforges collapsed a moment after she stepped outside. She died four days later.

It quickly became clear the 15-year-old girl succumbed to a peanut allergy -- not from nuts she ate, but a peanut-butter sandwich her boyfriend had consumed before kissing her that day.

A friend of the couple said in a television interview that Desforges' boyfriend and other companions had no idea she was allergic to peanuts. An allergist said Wednesday that the teenager's friends and relatives should have been warned about her condition.

"Some people have an extremely low threshold," said Dr. Rhoda Kagan, an allergist at Montreal Children's Hospital. "This varies greatly from person to person and is highly unpredictable."

She called Desforges's case "very rare and worrisome."

One friend, Michael St. Gelais, said he was devastated by the case.

"I felt guilty at first because if I had realized earlier she was (allergic), we could probably have saved her," he said in an interview with Canadian Broadcasting Corp. "However, we did as much as we could and I don't think there was more we could have done."

Desforges, who lived in Saguenay, about 155 miles north of Quebec City, was almost immediately given a shot of adrenaline, a standard tool for treating anaphylactic shock brought on by an allergy to peanuts. But she died Nov. 23 at a Quebec hospital.

Symptoms of peanut allergies can include hives, plunging blood pressure and swelling of the face and throat, which can block breathing.

"There are several images stuck in my mind," St. Gelais said. "We went upstairs because she really was having more difficulty breathing. The minute we went outside, she collapsed."

A memorial was held Saturday and an autopsy was being performed Wednesday.

Desforges mother declined to talk to The Associated Press.

About 1.5 million Americans are severely allergic to even the smallest trace of peanuts, and peanut allergies account for 50 to 100 deaths in the United States each year.

Peanut allergies have been rising in recent decades. The reason remains unclear, but one study found that baby creams or lotions with peanut oil may cause children to develop allergies later in life.
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Papua New Guinea leading developing nations on protecting earth's atmosphere
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Fri Dec 2, 1:54 AM ET

MONTREAL (AP) - Developing countries not bound by greenhouse gas emissions reductions under a global accord are still determined to do something meaningful to protect the earth's atmosphere - and Papua New Guinea appears to be leading the way.

The South Pacific island introduced a contentious proposal - backed by many powerful countries, including those belonging to the     European Union, Australia and Japan - before the UN Climate Change conference in Montreal which has created a lot of buzz.

Only the top 35 industrialized countries that signed the 140-country Kyoto Protocol - including Canada - are required to cut emissions to 5.2 per cent below their 1990 levels, between 2008 and 2012.

In the week before the Montreal conference, which opened Monday and closes on Dec. 9, Papua New Guinea was preparing to evacuate hundreds of people living in the low-lying Carteret atoll, which is sinking below the Pacific because of rising water levels.

Many scientists believe rising seas are due to global warming, which is in part exacerbated by greenhouse gases.

On Wednesday, Papua New Guinea introduced a proposal that would financially reward developing countries for preserving rain forests, which produce oxygen to help clean the air. Some scientists believe deforestation contributes to about 20 per cent of greenhouse gases.

Protecting a rain forest that was due to be cut down, the Papua New Guinea delegation said, was just as crucial as cleaning up a gas-spewing factories and developing clean energy sources.

"We have joined with many like-minded developing countries that may be prepared to begin, on a voluntary basis, reducing our carbon emissions from deforestation, subject to the creation of meaningful incentives for developing countries to undertake, or strengthen efforts, to address climate change," Papua New Guinea's Environment Minister William Duma told the UN conference.

In other words: Wealthier countries pay the poorer ones not to cut down their trees.

Robert Aisi, Papua New Guinea's ambassador to the     United Nations, said Thursday that he had been getting "generally positive" feedback, but that consultations had just begun.

"Let's be very frank; this is just a start," he said. "Part of the proposal is to work out where the money would come from. I would hope that we can come up with a mechanism."

One of the mechanisms under Kyoto, which went into effect in February, allows a system of bartering carbon emissions. If Germany, for example, is reluctant to clean up a particularly lucrative, but dirty power plant, it can still earn credit toward its mandatory emissions cuts by investing in sustainable technology in another country - or, say, buying up a slice of forest in Papua New Guinea and not tearing down the trees.

The United States, which produces one-fourth of the world's pollution, refused to join Kyoto. U.S.     President George W. Bush said it would harm the country's economy and his delegates at the conference insist the White House will not be a part of any mandatory emissions cuts.

Aisi said that while Washington had not backed his proposal, "they haven't said no."

When Bush pulled out of Kyoto, his administration said it would help fight climate change by saving tropical forests, noted John Niles of the Washington, D.C., based Climate Community and Biodiversity Alliance.

He said Kyoto signatories are now realizing that the decision to exclude reforestation from Kyoto funding was a mistake.

"Papua New Guinea made the convention realize that it forgot to deal with 20 per cent of the emissions," Niles said.

Papua New Guinea has the world's third-largest tropical forest and as an island-nation is particularly vulnerable to climate change.

Duma said emissions cuts by industrialized countries alone can't prevent global warming. He said tropical deforestation is "the single largest sector for carbon emissions within the developing world - up to 20 per cent of global carbon emissions during the 1990s."

While developing countries are not legally bound by Kyoto - including the big polluters China and India - they are still launching initiatives to fight climate change, said Rafael Senga of the World Wildlife Fund in the Philippines.

"They can feel it, and are actually experiencing the impact of climate change," he said.

While Papua New Guinea can count on the support of a number of countries, the proposal is still being debated within developed countries Senga says.

"Its a contentious issue," he said. "Papua New Guinea must be credited for being creative in its approach and taking a pro-active stance in trying to find ways to combat climate change."
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Inuit transformed by global warming
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Sat Dec 3, 2005

MONTREAL - While Canada's isolated northern aboriginals are not sitting at the same table as the 180 nations attending the U.N. Climate Change Conference, they have a front-row seat to the chilling effects of global warming.

From eroding shorelines, to thinning ice and loss of hunting and polar bears, Canadian Inuits of the Arctic north have seen rising temperatures transforming their lives.

"Environmental changes of all kinds are coming at a rate and to an extent that may exceed the threshold of Arctic peoples capacity to respond," states a report released Friday on the sidelines of the conference that is reviewing and expanding on the Kyoto Protocol, which places greenhouse gas emissions caps on industrialized nations.

The report is a result of workshops held across Canada's northern communities between 2002 and 2005 and documents the changes seen in the Arctic through the eyes of Canada's 45,000 Inuits, the natives who are called Eskimos in neighboring Alaska.

Inuit leaders point to the increased frequency of freezing rain, thinning ice and freakish weather patterns forcing centuries of habits to rapidly change.

Natives who have grown up in vast expanses are today finding themselves stranded, their regular paths hindered by melting snow and ice, blocking their hunting routes for the seals and polar bears that provide them food and warmth.

With warmer temperatures, some bacteria, plants and animals could disappear. Polar bears and other animals that depend on sea ice to breed and forage are at risk, scientists say, and some species could face extinction in a few decades.

Inuit leader Jose Kusugak said his community is bearing the brunt of pollution by others. The United States contributes about one-fourth of the greenhouse gases that scientists believe are exacerbating global warming and Canada is also a top polluter.

"It is changing our way of life in every sense of the word," Kusugak told The Associated Press in an interview. He said the risk of skin cancer had also increased in a community used to spending much of its time outdoors.

"People are not used to sunscreen but they need to wear it today, everybody is getting burned," Kusugak said. "When I was a kid, we liked to stay outside all day and only went in to sleep. It was part of our life - and now it is changing."

The shrinking access to food means Inuit are relying more on expensive, store-bought foods, which is damaging diets and their overall health.

Kusugak said he brought along hunters, trappers and Inuit elders to the conference to reassure them that people from the south were not indifferent to their plight.

"It was important to show there are a lot of people in the world who care," he said.
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Activists gather for Climate Change Marches
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Sat Dec 3, 2005
MONTREAL - The Arctic Inuit who are losing their ice caps and activists demanding urgent action on global warming were among thousands taking to the streets in cities around the world Saturday to raise awareness of climate change.

A march in downtown Montreal was to be the largest of the demonstrations expected in 32 countries, including Japan, Germany, France, Bangladesh, Brazil, Australia and South Africa.

In London, protesters passed Downing Street, home of Prime Minister Tony Blair , where they handed in a letter demanding that the government reaffirm its commitment to Kyoto with legally binding targets on emissions reductions.

In Montreal, activists promised a family friendly atmosphere with hot air balloons, theatrical and music acts as they hit the streets in numbers they hope will top 15,000.

Five environmental groups, including Greenpeace and the Climate Crisis Coalition, delivered a petition signed by 600,000 Americans to the U.S. Consulate in Montreal urging the Bush administration and the U.S. Congress to help slow global warming.

"We are here representing the people of the United States who want action to be taken," said Ted Glick of the Climate Crises Coalition, who accused the U.S. delegation of trying to obstruct progress at the conference.

U.S. President George W. Bush President George W. Bush has been widely criticized for pulling out of the Kyoto Treaty, instead calling for an 18 percent reduction in the U.S. growth rate of greenhouse gases by 2012 and committing US$5 billion (euro4.27 billion) a year to global warming science and technology.

"If he (Bush) thinks (Hurricane) Katrina was bad, there are a lot worse hurricanes on their way if he doesn‘t change his policy," Britain‘s former Environment Minister Michael Meacher told demonstrators outside the U.S. embassy in London.

Chanting and blowing whistles, the marchers denounced Blair and Bush for their perceived environmental failings. Some held banners depicting Bush as "Wanted — for crimes against the planet" and advising "Ditch Blair, not Kyoto."

Canadian Inuit of the isolated Arctic north have traveled to Montreal to join the protest. Indian leader Jose Kusugak told The Associated Press that he brought along hunters, trappers and elders to reassure them that people from the south were not indifferent to their plight.
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Activists demand Action on Global Warming
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Sat Dec 3, 7:54 PM ET
MONTREAL - Thousands of protesters took to the streets in cities worldwide Saturday to demand urgent action on global warming as delegates continued their work at an international climate change conference to review and update the Kyoto Protocol.

Police said about 7,000 people marched in downtown Montreal — some dressed up as polar bears. Five environmental groups, including Greenpeace and the Climate Crisis Coalition, delivered a petition signed by 600,000 Americans to the U.S. consulate in Montreal urging     President Bush and Congress to help slow global warming.

"We're worried about climate change, about ways of life in the Canadian Arctic disappearing," said Sarah Binder of Montreal's Urban Ecology Center.

Organizers said 10,000 people marched through London, passing Prime Minister     Tony Blair's home on Downing Street, where they delivered a letter demanding the government reaffirm its commitment to Kyoto with legally binding targets on emissions reductions.

Chanting and blowing whistles, the marchers denounced Blair and Bush for their perceived environmental failings. Some held banners depicting Bush as "Wanted — for crimes against the planet" and advising "Ditch Blair, not Kyoto."

Canadian Inuit traveled to Montreal from the isolated Arctic north to join the protest there. Indian leader Jose Kusugak told The Associated Press that he brought along hunters, trappers and elders to reassure them that people from the south were not indifferent to their plight.

"It was important to show there are a lot of people in the world who care," he said.

Canada's Environment Minister Stephane Dion, who is presiding over the 10-day U.N. Climate Change Conference in Montreal, also took part in the march and said final negotiations next week involving some 120 environment ministers and other government leaders would be crucial to improving the Kyoto agreement.

Bush has been widely criticized for pulling out of the treaty, which binds industrialized nations to lower greenhouse gas emissions. The United States — which spews out nearly 25 percent of the world's carbon emissions — was the target of many demonstrators Saturday.

At a protest in Boston, speakers called on Massachusetts to join with seven other Northeast states that are putting limits on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. Gov. Mitt Romney has not signed on because he is concerned that the pact could mean increased utility rates.

The agreenent's benefits are numerous, said Marc Breslow, director of Massachusetts Climate Action Network, who estimated that about 60 people rallied at Cathedral of St. Paul, an Episcopal church at the foot of Beacon Hill.

"We won't lose our beaches," he said. "We won't lose our oak trees. We won't have more-intense storms."

Protests were expected in 32 countries, including Canada, the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Bangladesh, Brazil, Australia and South Africa.

In Washington, drivers of hybrid cars planned to rally around the White House. In New Orleans, residents intended to hold a "Save New Orleans, Stop Global Warming" party in the French Quarter.
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Southeast environmentalists demand action on global warming
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Tue Dec 6, 2005
MONTREAL - After the most devastating hurricane season on record, officials from Southeastern states attending the U.N. Climate Change Conference urged the White House to take a more pro-active stand in negotiations to reduce global warming.

From hurricanes that are growing more fierce, to coastline erosion due to rising water levels, the southeastern United States is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change because of its well-developed shoreline, officials told a news conference Monday.

The delegates noted rising temperatures were causing glaciers to melt and sea levels to rise, warming the oceans and making hurricanes more potent, developments long cited by climate change experts as the likely consequences of global warming.

"There is nothing good that comes to the Southeast from global warming pollution," Stephen Smith, director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, told an international teleconference from Montreal. "Coastal communities are literally on the front lines of what we have seen with these hurricanes, storm surge and sea-level rise."

The delegation called on President Bush's administration to follow the lead of local governments trying to curb greenhouse gas emissions to protect the earth's atmosphere.

"We need strong leadership; we're not getting it from the (U.S.) delegation sent to Montreal," said Smith, whose family lost a home to Hurricane Ivan in Pensacola, Fla.

The United States, which produces one-fourth of the world's pollution, has refused to join the Kyoto Protocol, resisting any binding commitments to curb global warming by capping industrial emissions of greenhouse gases, saying it would harm the U.S economy.

Bush instead has called for an 18 percent reduction in the U.S. growth rate of greenhouse gases by 2012 and committed about $5 billion a year to global warming science and technology. The U.S. delegation in Montreal has said the Bush administration would also resist binding efforts to control emissions post 2012, after the first phase of Kyoto, infuriating many delegates at the conference.

Smith chastised the federal government response to Katrina as being similar to its response to global warming and urged Washington: "Don't ignore the warning signs, don't arrive at the scene late and don't abandon the Southeast."

The delegates urged Washington to follow the lead of American mayors who have signed initiatives to reduce greenhouse gases emissions in more than 100 U.S. cities.

"Local governments are thinking globally, why can't the federal government?" asked Harvey Ruvin, Clerk of the Circuit and County Court in Miami, Fla.

"Atlanta's mayor has agreed to reduce the city's carbon pollution; our president should do the same," said Ed Arnold of Physicians for Social Responsibility in Atlanta.

The delegates said the economic impact of the storms reaches beyond simply rebuilding what the storms have destroyed. Rising insurance premiums from extreme weather will make living on the coastline cost-prohibitive and could produce a capital flight that will impact the regional and national economies, said Andrew Logan, insurance program director for Ceres, a coalition of institutional investors and environmentalists.

"Homeowners and businesses in the Gulf region are already seeing premium hikes and coverage restrictions, and given this year's devastating hurricanes, conditions will be getting worse before they get better," Logan said.

The devastating back-to-back hurricane seasons caused $30 billion in insured losses last year and as much as $60 billion in losses from Hurricane Katrina this year.

Bill Stallworth, a city council member from Biloxi, Miss. - whose city was pounded by Hurricane Katrina - said the U.S. government must jump on the climate change bandwagon to protect the American way of life.

"It is now time for the U.S. to act. Our quality of life is at stake," he said.

The 10-day climate change conference resumed Monday, with some 120 environment ministers taking part in crucial negotiations to improve the Kyoto Protol, signed by some 150 nations that pledged to reduce greenhouse gases by 5.2 percent by 2012
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Report: 2005 will be warmest, stormiest on record
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Wed Dec 7, 2005

MONTREAL (AP) — This year is likely to go down as the hottest, stormiest and driest ever, making a strong case for the urgent need to combat global warming, a report released Tuesday at the U.N. Climate Change Conference said.

The year 2005, the World Wildlife Fund said, is shaping up as the worst for extreme weather, with the hottest temperatures, most Arctic melting, worst Atlantic hurricane season and warmest Caribbean waters.

It's also been the driest year in decades in the Amazon, where a drought may surpass anything in the past century, said the report by international environmental group.

The report, using data from the U.S. government World Meteorological Organization, was released on the sidelines of the U.N. conference reviewing and upgrading the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty that commits 35 industrialized nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions more than 5 percent by 2012. The United States has not signed on to the protocol.

Kyoto blames carbon dioxide and five other heat-trapping gases for rising global temperatures and disrupted weather patterns. Many scientists believe if temperatures keep rising, extreme weather will continue to kill humans, disrupt lifestyles and make some animal species extinct.

Lara Hansen, chief scientist for WWF's Climate Change Program, said cyclical patterns alone cannot explain the number of hurricanes this year.

"What we're seeing now is even beyond what that cyclical nature would lead us to believe has happened," Hansen told the AP by telephone from Washington. She noted the National Hurricane Center failed to predict how many hurricanes there would be in 2005.

Last year, the center predicted 18 to 21 storms, but so many were recorded that the official naming of them exceeded the Roman alphabet and had to be supplemented with letters of the Greek alphabet.

Waters in the Caribbean were also hotter for longer, causing extensive bleaching from Colombia to the Florida Keys, she said.

In the north, the smallest area of Arctic sea ice ever was recorded in September — 500,000 square miles smaller than the historic average — and a 9.8 percent decline, per decade, of perennial sea ice cover, the report said.

Canada's Inuit issued their own report last week, saying eroding shorelines, thinning ice and losses of hunting and polar bears have affected their lives.

Hansen said some predictions indicate the Arctic North could become ice-free by the end of the century, even possibly by mid-century.

"The rate at which we are losing sea ice goes beyond the normal models of what we would think would be happening," she said.

The United States, which produces one-fourth of the world's pollution, has refused to join the Kyoto Protocol, resisting any binding commitments to cap industrial emissions of greenhouse gases, saying it would harm the U.S economy.

President Bush instead has called for an 18 percent cut in the U.S. growth of greenhouse gases by 2012 and commits about $5 billion a year to global warming science and technology.
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Inuit file petition against U.S.
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Thu Dec 8, 2005

MONTREAL - Inuit leaders from the Arctic North who say their 5,000-year-old way of life is being eroded by global warming filed a petition accusing the United States of being the chief culprit behind damaging climate change.

Sheila Watt-Cloutier, chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, which represents the 155,000 Inuit of Canada, Greenland, Russia and the United States, submitted the petition Wednesday to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the investigative arm of the Organization of American States in Washington.

From eroding shorelines to thinning ice and loss of hunting and polar bears, the Inuit of the Arctic North _ known as Eskimos in Alaska _ have seen rising temperatures painfully transforming their culture and diet.

The petition blames the United States for causing most of the disruption, given that American cars and industry contribute 25 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, yet Washington refuses to abide by carbon emissions caps under the Kyoto Protocol.

The 163-page petition "seeking relief from violations resulting from global warming caused by acts and omissions of the United States," was filed on behalf of 63 Inuit leaders representing Inuits from Canada, Greenland, Russia and the United States.

"We seek a declaration from the commission that the United States, the world's source of more than 25 percent of greenhouse gases, is violating our human rights as outlined in the 1948 American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man," Watt-Cloutier told a news conference on the sidelines of the U.N. Convention on Climate Change.

Some 120 environment ministers arrived Wednesday for the last three days of the 10-day summit to map out further emissions reductions beyond 2012, when the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol expires. Washington has said it would not abide by any emissions caps.

"As we have seen in the last few days, the United States continues to refuse to work with the community of nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," Watt-Cloutier said.

She said the United States was in violation of the fundamental rights of the Inuit, including the right to life, personal property, health and "to practice Inuit culture."

The petition, which is not enforceable, asks the commission to push the United States to adopt mandatory measures to limit its emissions of greenhouse gases.

When asked about the Inuit petition, Undersecretary of State Paula Dobriansky, head of the U.S. delegation to the climate conference, said: "We need to review it, and then we will respond to it."

The United States refused to join Kyoto, which calls on 35 industrialized nations to cut their greenhouse gas emissions 5.2 percent below their 1990 levels by 2012. The Bush administration said any binding caps of industrial emissions would harm the U.S. economy.

Instead, U.S. President George W. Bush has called for an 18 percent cut in the U.S. growth of greenhouse gases by 2012 and his administration commits US$5 billion (euro4.27 billion) a year to global warming science and technology.

"The U.S. has the duty to be cautious," said University of Arizona human rights law professor James Anaya, adding that the petition is meant to be a strong gesture for all people, not only in the north, because the Arctic is a bellwether for the world.

"It's not going too far to say that global warming threatens the basic survival," of man, he said.

Watt-Cloutier, a well-known Canadian Inuit activist, said the petition seeks neither retribution nor confrontation.

"This not about money. We are not seeking damages. This is not a lawsuit," she said. "What we want is the United States to stop violating our rights."

Inuit elders attending the conference said they're suffering from increased lesions from exposure to the sun and melting ice passages were making hunting more difficult.

"The world has to know that we are in a very fragile environment," said Jamesie Mike, one of the elders who says he has witnessed glaciers gradually shrink over the years. "Will the ice freeze enough for us to go hunting? These are my worries there days."
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Environmentalists rail against US for obstructing progress on global warming
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Thu Dec 8, 2005

MONTREAL  - Environmental groups Thursday accused the United States of obstructing progress in the final days of an international conference on climate change.

The two-week conference, attended by more than 180 nations, ends Friday and is showing little prospect for consensus on a key item: mandatory cutbacks in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions after the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012.

Among major developed nations, only the United States and Australia reject Kyoto, the 1997 accord designed to cut greenhouse gases among the top 35 industrialized nations more than 5 percent below their 1990 levels by 2012.

Environmental and non-governmental organizations have been railing against President George W. Bush's administration since the conference opening and reiterated Thursday that Washington has played no role in combating global warming other than obstructing discussions.

"The United States government has come ashore on these negotiations with the destructive power of a hurricane," said David Doniger of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "It is time to lead, follow or get out of the way."

Environmentalists also said there was a gap between policy speeches urging action and the actual closed-door negotiations on the ground. Some delegates are suggesting that negotiations on mandatory emissions cutbacks beyond 2012 be concluded in 2010 instead of 2008, as scheduled under the protocol.

"Negotiations here are in trouble," stressed Bill Hare of Greenpeace International, adding that pushing the conclusions of negotiations to 2010 would not allow enough time for ratification.

On Wednesday, the first day of top-level meetings with environmental ministers from around the world, U.S. Undersecretary of State Paula Dobriansky reiterated Washington's refusal to join talks on any binding commitments to curb global warming despite being urged on by a number of countries, including Canada.

"We also believe firmly that negotiations will not reap progress, as indicated, because there are differing perspectives," she said.

The United States contributes one-fourth of the greenhouse gases which many scientists believe are exacerbating global warming. The Bush administration has said the mandatory industrial emissions cuts would hurt the U.S. economy and instead spends some US$5 billion (euro4.3 billion) a year to promote science and technology to combat global warming.
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Canada's foreign affairs minister mugged entering subway
By Phil Couvrette
Associated Press Writer
Fri Dec 30, 2005 - 3:34 pm

MONTREAL - Canada's foreign affairs minister escaped without injury from a botched attempt to steal his cell phone, police said Friday.

Pierre Pettigrew was talking on his cell phone as he entered a subway station Wednesday afternoon when a man tried to wrestle the phone away from him, said Annie Lemieux, a spokeswoman for the Montreal police.

The alleged assailant, Frederick Estelle, 24, was arrested on the scene and charged with aggravated theft.

A young man who intervened to help Pettigrew, who was not accompanied by body guards, suffered minor injuries to his face. The cabinet minister was not hurt, Lemieux said

The attack did not appear to be related to the current election campaign. "It was a random attack," Lemieux said.

Estelle was denied bail in a court appearance Friday. He will be kept under observation to conduct a psychiatric evaluation until his next court date, Jan. 10.

Estelle, who had no previous record, seemed confused in court and didn't understand what had taken place on the night of the attack.

His uncle Richard Estelle told reporters at the court house that Estelle has a "psychiatric disorder" and was not a dangerous person. Prosecutor David Simon said Estelle had a history of depression.