Seals in Canada: Hunters, activists face off PHIL COUVRETTE, who's covered the Canadian seal hunt for the AP, talks to asap about where the debate over the hunt stands this season. Monday, 27 March, 2006, 18:08 EST, US By MEGAN SCOTT Even the celebrity power of Paul McCartney couldn't stop it. Despite pleas from McCartney and other animal-rights activists, fishermen armed with spiked clubs have taken to the ice floes for Canada's annual seal hunt, which began Saturday. Several protesters have also shown up at the Gulf of St. Lawrence, sparking a showdown between the two groups. At one point, a sealing vessel charged up to a small boat carrying protesters, and a fisherman flung seal intestines at them. And on Sunday, police arrested a group of animal activists for getting too close to the fishermen. Animal-rights groups and celebrities, such as McCartney and French film legend Brigitte Bardot, say seal hunting is cruel, claiming the fishermen skin the seals alive or leave some pups to die if they are not immediately knocked unconscious. Most of the seals killed are two to three weeks old, when they are so fat from their mothers' milk they can barely move. A 1987 law prohibits killing pups younger than two weeks who have not shed their fluffy white coat. The fishermen say the annual hunt is crucial to their livelihood. Last year's hunt brought $14.5 million in revenue, after 320,000 seals were slaughtered. Fishermen sell the seals' pelts and blubber, earning up to $10,000 during the two-week hunt. Can there any resolution to the debate over the hunt? Phil Couvrette, who reports for the AP out of Montreal, traveled to the ice floes to cover the seal hunt. asap spoke to Couvrette about the long-running debate. ___ I know the seal hunt has been going on for centuries. Why such ugly protests now? Are more seals being killed than ever before? Couvrette: I wouldn't say that it is more or less ugly now. It's certainly a lot more publicized. Paul McCartney made a very publicized visit. And Brigitte Bardot has really developed animal activism since the '70s. They spoke very strongly against it and that generated a lot of publicity. But the way things are done, the way the hunt is being done hasn't changed a whole lot in the last few years. ___ I know the weather has been warm. How has that affected the seal hunt? Couvrette: This year the number of seals simply was not there. That is a bit because of the ice situation. For some extraordinary reason, it has been very warm very early on. There has been a thawing that has been very strong over the St. Lawrence. Basically some of those seal pups don't get to have the chance to learn how to swim. They fall through the ice and drown very early on, and that will account for the lack of seals out there. ___ Are fishermen still hunting, or have they given up? Couvrette: Some of them are still hunting because this is a very important time of year. These are people usually who have had a history of living by the sea and depend on the fisheries a lot. And a lot of the fisheries that they used to depend on with time have dwindled. The cod fishery has suffered a lot. The crab fishery as well. For many of them, this seal hunt for a few days is when it's very lucrative because you can perhaps make up for some of the losses that are incurred the rest of the year when the other fisheries aren't doing so well. Some of them are determined to be out there to get what they can. Some of them have been discouraged. ___ How are these fishermen making their money? The United States banned Canadian seal products in 1972, and Europe banned importing the white pelts in 1983. Couvrette: Other countries seem to be buying them. They are making money from the pelts and increasingly they are making money from the oil. Apparently, that is where they are getting most of their money. I was speaking to one lifelong hunter, and he was saying also what people don't consider is that there is a lot of spinoff from this activity. So it generates a lot of economic activity, and really it generates some money. ___ Do you think this debate will ever end? Couvrette: The protesters scored a major victory in the '80s. In 1987, there was a prohibition. Seals two weeks and younger couldn't be hunted anymore. Certainly the market for those seals disappeared right then and there. They are hoping they will score a similar victory. For those hunters, with the dwindling fisheries out there -- well, they are not seeing many alternatives out there. It's hard to tell. I certainly don't see that on the horizon, but really, who knows? Canadian Jews fear Russian group behind anti-semitic graffiti By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Friday January 13, 2006 MONTREAL -- A Jewish organization that monitors anti-Semitic activities in Canada said Friday it suspects a Russian group is behind a rash of swastikas that were spray-painted in a Jewish neighborhood of Montreal this week. B'nai Brith Canada said the swastikas were found at seven locations in the Cote-des-Neiges and Notre-Dame-de-Grace neighborhood, near a Jewish school and community center in the French-speaking financial and cultural capital of the province of Quebec. Two of the sites were spray-painted with the Internet address of a Russian national socialist Web site www.nso-korpus.info, a site that includes a photo of Adolph Hitler and quotes excerpts from his Mein Kampf autobiography. Although police have no suspects and there have been no eyewitnesses, the language of the site leads B'nai Brith to suspect the Russian group is involved, which would be a first, said spokesperson Leah Berger. "We haven't had any issues with the Russian community," said Berger. The incidents, all within two blocks of one another, mark a sharp increase in the number of incidents, she said. "Callers to our Anti-Hate Hot line first alerted us to the problem," said Allan Adel, national chair of the League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith Canada. "They were rightly concerned by the visually explicit displays of anti-Semitic graffiti in close proximity to Jewish schools, houses of worship and community institutions." The incidents occurred in a culturally diverse part of the city, with some 160,000 residents, many of whom are Jewish and Holocaust survivors. "You can imagine this kind of event touches them in a deep way," Berger said. In Quebec, B'nai Brith saw an 88 percent surge of anti-Semitic incidents in 2004, including the fire-bombing of a Jewish school, though it anticipates the final tally for 2005 will be lower. Overall, Canada saw an hike of 47 percent in anti-Semitic events in 2004, making it the worst of the 22 years that it has been conducting an audit. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Conservative party wins in Canada election The Associated Press Tuesday January 24, 2006 OTTAWA - Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party won national elections Monday and ended 13 years of Liberal rule, a victory expected to move Canada rightward on social and economic issues and lead to improved ties with the United States. The Conservatives' winning margin was too narrow to avoid ruling with a minority government, a situation that will make it difficult to get legislation through a divided House of Commons. The triumph for the Conservatives came with many Canadians weary of the broken promises and corruption scandals under the Liberal Party, making them willing to give Harper a chance to govern despite concerns that some of his social views are extreme. "Tonight friends, our great country has voted for change, and Canadians have asked our party to take the lead in delivering that change," Harper told some 2,000 cheering supporters at his campaign headquarters in Calgary. Relations with the Bush administration will likely improve under Harper as his ideology runs along the same lines of many U.S. Republicans. Harper has said he would reconsider a U.S. missile defense scheme rejected by the current Liberal government of Prime Minister Paul Martin. He also said he wanted to move beyond the Kyoto debate by establishing different environmental controls, spend more on the Canadian military, expand its peacekeeping missions in Afghanistan and Haiti and tighten security along the border with the United States in an effort to prevent terrorists and guns from crossing the frontier. With nearly all votes counted in the race for the 308-seat House, officials results showed Conservatives with 123 seats; Liberals with 103; Bloc Quebecois with 50, New Democratic Party with 28; and one seat to an Independent. Three seats still haven't been determined. Prime Minister Paul Martin conceded defeat and said he would step down as head of the party, though remain in Parliament to represent the Montreal seat he won again. It was an unusual move to do both on the same night, but Martin appeared upbeat and eager to continue to fight the Conservatives from the opposition benches of the House. "I have just called Stephen Harper and I've offered him my congratulations," Martin told a subdued crowd at his headquarters in Montreal. "We differ on many things, but we all share a believe in the potential and the progress of Canada." The Conservative victory ended more than a decade of Liberal Party rule and shifted the traditionally liberal country to the right on socio-economic issues such as health care, taxation, abortion and gay marriage. Some Canadians have expressed reservations about Harpers' views opposing abortion and gay marriage. During the campaign, Harper pledged to cut the red tape in social welfare programs, lower the national sales tax from 7 percent to 5 percent and grant more autonomy and federal funding to Canada's 13 provinces and territories. The Liberals have angered Washington in recent years, condemning the war in Iraq, refusing to join the continental anti-ballistic missile plan and criticizing President Bush for rejecting the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions and enacting punitive Canadian lumber tariffs. Martin, 67, had trumpeted eight consecutive budget surpluses and sought to paint Harper as a right-winger posing as a moderate to woo mainstream voters. He claimed Harper supports the war in Iraq, which most Canadians oppose, and would try to outlaw abortion and overturn gay marriage. Harper denied those claims and said Sunday that Martin had failed to swing voters against him. "Canadians can disagree, but it takes a lot to get Canadians to intensely hate something or hate somebody. And it usually involves hockey," Harper quipped. Voters cast ballots at 60,000 polling stations amid unseasonably mild winter weather. Turnout from the country's 22.7 million registered voters was expected to be better than the 60 percent of the June 2004 election, the lowest number since 1898. William Azaroff, 35, voted for the left-of-center New Democratic Party but conceded a Conservative government was likely to win. "I think it's a shame," said the business manager from Vancouver, British Columbia. "I think the last government was actually quite effective for Canadians. I think a Conservative government is just a backlash against certain corruption and the sense of entitlement." Martin's government and the House were dissolved in November after New Democrats defected from the governing coalition to support the Conservatives in a no-confidence vote amid a corruption scandal involving the misuse of funds for a national unity program in Quebec. An investigation absolved the prime minister of wrongdoing but accused senior Liberals of taking kickbacks and misspending tens of millions of dollars in public funds. Just as campaigning hit full swing over the Christmas holidays, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced they were investigating a possible leak by Liberal government officials that appeared to have influenced the stock market. When the 38th Parliament was dissolved, the Liberals had 133 seats, the Conservatives had 98, the Quebec separatist party Bloc Quebecois had 53 and the New Democrats had 18. There also were four Independents and two vacancies. _____ AP writers Phil Couvrette in Montreal, Rob Gillies in Toronto, Shelley Knapp in Calgary and Jeremy Hainswroth in Vancouver contributed to this report. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Goalie Theodore tests positive for banned substance By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Feb 9, 9:06 pm EST MONTREAL (AP) -- Montreal goalie Jose Theodore has tested positive for a banned substance in pre-Olympic screening because he was using a hair-growth drug that can be used as a masking agent, the Canadiens' team doctor said Thursday. The test wasn't part of the NHL's new testing program, so he will not be subject to league discipline. Theodore was not picked for Canada's Olympic team, but was on the preliminary 81-player eligibility list. No punishment was handed down because he is appealing the result to an arbitrator. Canadiens team doctor David Mulder said at a news conference that Theodore was tested Dec. 12. A month later, the Hockey Canada doctor informed Mulder about Theodore's test result. Mulder said Theodore tested positive because the goalie has been taking Propecia, a hair-growth stimulant, for about eight years -- even though he has a full head of hair. Mulder said he was aware that Theodore was taking the Propecia. Propecia, Mulder said, was placed on the banned substance list about two years ago. Besides helping grow hair, it is considered a masking agent for other performance enhancers. Mulder stressed Propecia alone is not a performance enhancer. He said he was "convinced" the goalie was not using the drug to mask the use of performance enhancers. Theodore, speaking after Montreal's 3-2 overtime win at Buffalo, said he began using the stimulant to preserve what remains a full head of hair. "I always like my hair real long and I like to keep it long as long as possible," said Theodore, who served as backup against the Sabres as Cristobal Huet made his fifth consecutive start. "I don't feel I have anything to hide," Theodore said. "It's not something that I got on the black market. It was a prescription from the doctor for eight years, so I don't feel uncomfortable by anything." Theodore noted he had never tested positive before despite competing in several international tournaments. He added he was only made aware of Propecia being placed on the banned list in October. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement that Theodore also faces no sanctions for future positive tests for Propecia because the goalie had already applied for an exemption for prescribed use. Last month, Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Bryan Berard was suspended from international competition for two years after testing positive for a banned steroid. Berard didn't make the U.S. Olympic team. He also was not subject to league discipline. Earlier Thursday, World Anti-Doping Agency president Dick Pound repeated his criticism of the NHL's drug-testing program at press conference in Turin, Italy. The NHL introduced random tests for performance-enhancing drugs this season, but anti-doping authorities have attacked the plan as weak and ineffective. "It amounts to practically nothing. There are no offseason tests. And you're not allowed to test a player after a game or before a game," Pound said. Theodore is 17-15 this season with a 3.46 goals-against average but has struggled over the last month and a half, with a 4-9 record and a 4.06 goal-against average. Theodore added that one look at his slim build -- he's listed at 5-foot-11 and 182 pounds -- is proof that he's not taking steroids. "If you look at me with no shirt, if I'm taking steroids then I should change the guy that's selling them to me because it's not working," Theodore said. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Muslims demonstrate in Canada against cartoons By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Saturday February 11, 2006 MONTREAL _ Muslims demonstrated peacefully in two principal Canadian cities Montreal and Toronto -- to condemn the publication of blasphemous cartoons. About 250 protesters gathered Saturday near McGill university in downtown Montreal, a heavy police presence separating them from some 50 counter-protesters holding signs across the street. The protest coincided with another demonstration in Toronto of about 1,500 people who clogged a busy downtown area just outside the Danish consulate. In Montreal, protesters had initially planned to march to the Danish consulate but changed their plans after some 50 Muslim groups appealed to organizers to cancel the demonstration apprehending violence could erupt. ``We're here to denounce insults against the Holy Prophet and all prophets and all types of provocation,'' declared Said Jazeri, imam of Montreals al-Qods mosque which organized the protest. "This is a great proof of tolerance, to show the world that once Muslims are free they're like everybody else, civilized people, people of peace." Protesters chanted and sang, some people holding signs reading "No to insulting our prophets, Muhammad, Jesus, Moses" while young children clutched copies of the Coran. Jazeri thanked the crowd for showing up despite what he called a campaign of intimidation by others members of the Muslim community. There were widespread divisions on the need to hold the protest in the Muslim community of this French-speaking city home to thousands of immigrants from North Africa, some fearing violence. Other groups haved been promoting a dialogue between the local communities by opening the doors of local mosques and distributing information pamphlets as part of an education campaign about Islam. Protesters were prohibited from chanting hateful slogans or bringing flags of any sort to prevent flag-burning incidents, the trademark of protests held around the world. "We're against all forms of violence and we have proved it," Jazeri said at the end of peaceful gathering which lasted about 30 minutes. But at least some of the protesters condoned some of the violence which have marked demonstrations elsewhere. "It's a perfectly normal reaction, they were justified and I would be a hypocrite to tell you otherwise," Wassila Bouzidi said of protesters torching embassies in other more violent demonstrations. "People should not insult the Prophet, what would your reaction be if someone struck your child?" Counter-protester Sebastien Mallet,22, holding a sign saying "Drawings are not a weapon but a form of expression" said the violence elsewhere was overblown. "We're tired of these crazy demonstrations, all for a few drawings, for nothing." Police sealed a section of a downtown street for the event and had extra officers on duty. Spokesperson Anie Lemieux said there were no incidents bar one arrest unrelated to the protest. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Blind Algerian man holes up in church to avoid deportation By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Monday February 13, 2006 MONTREAL _ Blind and suffering from diabetes, Abdelkader Belaouni feared he could be deported to the United States or worse, his native Algeria. He took a traditional route to protect himself, seeking _ and being granted _ sanctuary in a Canadian church. Belaouni argued he could be persecuted in either the U.S. or Algeria. He fled his homeland in the late 1990s and had managed to scrape together a living in the United States until 2003, when he fled to Canada after coming to feel the post-9/11 environment was hostile toward Arabs. The argument failed to move Canadian Immigration officials, who refused his claim in October _ saying he had no connection to Canada _ and asked that he report, luggage and ID in hand, for deportation on Jan. 5. Instead, the 38-year-old Belaouni began hiding out in the rectory of the St. Gabriel Roman Catholic Church in Montreal. "I was given two reasons for being rejected: lack of employment and lack of family," he told The Associated Press in the rectory where he has been sheltered. Belaouni has scraped by on government welfare and the generosity of friends, as his status prevents him from getting a job. He has received support from local officials and human rights activists and has appealed to the minister of immigration. But a change of government after January's parliamentary elections means he may have to take up the entire process again. "My hope is that the minister will make a final humanitarian gesture and allow me to stay," Belaouni said. Canadian Border Services Agency spokesperson Robert Gervais said an arrest warrant was issued for Belaouni after he failed to show up for deportation. "He has exhausted all legal avenues," Gervais said, after risk assessments concluded he would not face persecution if returned to the United States or Algeria. However, by tradition, Canadian police have generally not arrested those who are given sanctuary in churches. Belaouni joins a number of refugee claimants who are using churches in Newfoundland, Ottawa, Vancouver and Toronto to avoid deportation. Three Palestinian refugees spent 13 months in the basement of Montreal's Eglise Notre Dame de Grace before their deportation order was lifted on humanitarian grounds last year. A Colombian family was also allowed to stay at about the same time after spending 19 months in another Montreal church. However, in March 2004 police did arrest another Algerian who took refuge in a church in Quebec City. Authorities said he was wanted for jumping bail. Belaouni made a living selling phone cards in Brooklyn after fleeing the Algerian civil war in 1996. After the Sept. 11 attacks, U.S. officials required foreign nationals, many from Muslim countries including Algeria, to register with authorities. Many were eventually deported, and Belaouni feared the same. After he registered and went through three interviews, he was forced to surrender his passport. That's when he decided to flee to Canada, where he believed he would be accepted on humanitarian grounds. In March of 2003 Belaouni walked across the Canadian border with the assistance of a Montreal friend who helped him apply for refugee status and offered him shelter. The Rev. Jim McDonald of St. Gabriel said he could not turn Belaouni away. "We lost a little sleep about whether or not this would take place. But I think I would lose a lot more sleep if it would happen that Kader was picked up on Jan. 5," McDonald told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., using a nickname for Abdelkader. Last year, the safe third-country border agreement between Washington and Ottawa allowed the countries to deny refugee claimants crossing the land border because it deemed them already safe in either Canada or the United States. But Belaouni doesn't feel he'd be safe returning to the United States. "We have paid for what they have done," he said of the 9/11 hijackers, adding one of his Brooklyn neighbors died in the attack on New York City. Belaouni fears that if he is forced to return to the United States, that he may be deported back to Algeria, having abandoned the registration process. He ran a grocery store back home and said he was regularly bullied by Islamic militants waging war with the government, though there was no way to independently verify that claim. Algeria erupted into bloody civil war in 1991, when the military aborted elections when the fundamentalist Islamic Salvation Fronts took the lead. An army crackdown escalated into a bloody insurgency in 1992-1998 that resulted in some 100,000 deaths. While much of the country has since stabilized, some regions are still subject to travel advisories. "No one could guarantee my security there," Belaouni said. "Personally, with my handicap, it would be very difficult for me to go back." Belaouni said he is receiving treatment for his diabetes at a Montreal clinic and added that's one reason he want to stay here. "I hope the minister will consider my state of health above all else," he said. _____ Solidarity Across Borders: www.www.solidarityacrossborders.org ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Mexicans surpass others in seeking refugee status By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Monday Feb 13 18:24 MONTREAL (AP) -- More Mexicans than any other nationality fled to Canada last year -- though relatively few of them are allowed to remain, officials said Monday. Mexicans for the first time surpassed Chinese, Colombians, Sri Lankans and Indians as claimants to Canada, their partner in the North American Free Trade Agreement, according to figures released by the Immigration and Refugee Board. Last year 3,541 Mexicans applied for refugee-status in Canada, where officials worry they enter only to then cross into the United States. However, most of those Mexicans -- 2,286 -- had their cases rejected, and some 696 did not even show up at their refugee board hearing, officials said. Of those 696, 471 withdrew their claim an went back to Mexico, while 225 disappeared altogether. Once a claim is made, refugee-seekers must agree to appear at a scheduled refugee hearing before they are released. While they await their hearing, they are free to enter society and apply for permission to work or to place their children in schools. China, Colombia, Sri Lanka and India rounded out the top five in 2005, but all had significantly higher ratios of success than Mexico. Only 19 percent of Mexican refugee-seekers were accepted, compared with an average of 46 percent among the top 10. As citizens of a free-trade partner, Mexicans do not need a visa to enter Canada, but they are not given a preferential treatment for residency or work permits. "All refugee-seekers are treated the same regardless of their country of origin, and that includes the United States," said Charles Hawkins of the Immigration and Refugee Board. Mexicans have steadily become Canada's top refugee-seekers, coming in 2nd in 2004 and 2003, 4th in 2002 and 8th the year before. Immigration officers and security officials worry that many of the Mexicans use illegal smuggling rings to gain entry into the U.S. after they are in Canada. Hawkins, however, said there is not a trend in the number of people who do not show up at the hearings and then disappear altogether. "It doesn't appear people who come here abandon their claim in greater numbers," he said, noting that the number of people who never show up actually has gone down. In 2004, 246 Mexicans "abandoned" their refugee claims, according government figures, compared with 225 last year and 275 in 2003. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Quebec priests oppose Vatican on Gay issues By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Tue Feb 28, 10:45 PM ET MONTREAL - In a rare public dissent, 19 Catholic priests have denounced the Vatican's opposition to gay marriage and allowing homosexuals into the priesthood. The clerics signed an open letter that ran Sunday in Montreal's La Presse newspaper, criticizing the church's positions on the issues. The priests said the church was invoking "natural law" to make its case against homosexuality, arguing that slavery was also once considered "natural." "What we are saying is that human nature is constantly evolving," Claude Lemieux, one of the signatories, told The Associated Press by phone Tuesday. "We believe this position is closer to that which is shared by our parishioners." The letter questions whether the church has "the last word on the mysteries of political, social, family and sexual life." "In these matters," the letter says, "the official teaching of the church has shown itself more than once to be wrong." The letter was in response to the position against gay marriage by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. Recent guidelines of the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education also restated opposition to the ordination of priests with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies." But the Vatican said there would be no crackdown on gays who are already ordained. Canada last year legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, a move many clerics of all religions opposed. There are roughly 13 million Catholics in Canada, about 43 percent of the population, and nearly half live in the French-speaking province of Quebec. In 2004, Quebec legalized gay marriage. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Coroner: Lack of oxygen, not peanut-butter killed girl By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Monday, March 6, 2006 1724 GMT MONTREAL, Quebec (AP) -- A teenager with a peanut allergy did not die from kissing her boyfriend following his peanut-butter snack, but from a lack of oxygen to her brain, a Quebec coroner said Monday. Coroner Michel Miron declined to disclose the exact cause of death because he has yet to submit his final report to the provincial coroner's office, but he told The Associated Press he hoped to end the "phobia" provoked by the case, which drew global media coverage. Christina Desforges, 15, died in a Quebec hospital in November. Officials at the time had said that doctors were unable to treat her allergic reaction to a peanut-laced kiss from her boyfriend the previous weekend. Allergists described the case as being rare and worrisome. "Elements of the investigation tell us peanut butter was not responsible," Miron told the AP. Miron said clinical indicators have eliminated peanut as the cause for her death and said it appeared the girl suffered from "cerebral anoxia," or lack of oxygen to the brain, which caused serious damage. Miron said he could not discuss reports that the girl suffered from asthma and believed she was having an attack before her collapse. Symptoms of peanut allergies can include hives, plunging blood pressure and swelling of the face and throat, which can block breathing. Miron said he felt compelled to speak out to counter incorrect claims that peanut butter was responsible for Christina's death, or that injections used to treat allergic reactions were ineffective. "People thought the girl had not used her Epipen [Adrenalin shot] properly and families were panicking because they thought it wouldn't always work," he said, insisting that the drug's effectiveness was never in doubt. Scientific journals also had contacted him, questioning the use of the Adrenalin shot and how it is injected. "It was necessary to set things straight," Miron said. "The drug wasn't used at all because nobody knew she was allergic," he said, noting the first hospital she was sent to did not have her records. Miron said the girl and her boyfriend kissed, but many hours after he ate the peanut-butter snack. By then he had ingested other foods such as popcorn and beer. The saliva generated in the process also would have cleansed his mouth before the kiss, Miron said. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Quebec bishops downplay rebel priests By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer 03.10.2006, 08:55 PM MONTREAL - Quebec's Catholic bishops Friday downplayed a recent public outburst of 19 priests against the Vatican's stand on homosexuality, but called for an internal debate on the matter. The Quebec Conference of Catholic Bishops held this week precedes an upcoming visit of Canadian bishops to the Vatican in May, where the issue will be among the "principal aspects" of discussions with Pope Benedict XVI. The bishops said they regretted that dissident priests had made their views public through the media last month, but agreed it provoked needed dialogue within the church on a variety of topics, including gay marriage. The Feb. 26 letter was a rare case of public dissent within Quebec's Catholic church. In it, the priests criticized the Vatican for opposing gay marriage and forbidding homosexuals from the priesthood. They suggested the church needed to evolve, rather than have "the last word on the mysteries of political, social, family and sexual life." The bishops issued a news release Thursday, calling the letter "food for thought." "We regret, however, that we have been brought into this by force of circumstance; it is a confrontational dynamic that threats to harden positions," the bishops said. The bishops said their coming meeting with the pope would explore various topics about Quebec society, including "ethical questions such as civil union and the definition of marriage." Canada last year legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, a move many clerics of all religions opposed. There are about 13 million Catholics in Canada, about 43 percent of the country's population, with nearly half living in the French-speaking province of Quebec. ------------------------------------------------------------------------- French minister praises French Canadians for devotion to language By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer 5:40 p.m. March 17, 2006 MONTREAL - The French foreign minister praised Quebec's determination to defend the French language in North America, saying Friday that the region has set an example for all Francophones. French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said French-speaking Canadians were more insistent on using French words for technical terms that are typically spoken in English in France. "You are teaching us how to fight for our language and we thank you; we should imitate you," Douste-Blazy said at the home of the French consul-general in Montreal. Douste-Blazy, ending a two-day visit to Canada, avoided the delicate issue of Quebec sovereignty. A movement for independence of the French-speaking province was narrowly defeated in 1995, when Quebecois voted against separation by a slim margin in a referendum. He nonetheless sympathized with the identity plight of Quebecers. "The more globalization is present, the more the Internet makes the world a village, the more we want to belong to a strong identity," he said. But Douste-Blazy cautioned that the defense of the culture and language of a minority was not the same as defending nationalism. "These are two completely different things," he said. The foreign minister also praised Canada's universal public health system as the reflection of "a society based on solidarity," and contrasted it with the health care situation in the United States. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Aviation group regrets EU ban By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer 23/03/2006 09:24 AM Montreal - African aviation officials attending a global airline security conference said on Wednesday they understood the need to keep the skies safe, but regretted a European Union decision to blacklist some of their airlines. Earlier in the day, the EU banned over 90 mostly African-based airlines from landing at European airports, declaring them unsafe, as part of a new blacklist of airlines that fail to meet international safety standards. Tshepo Peege, president of the African Civil Aviation Commission, agreed that "any airplane that is unworthy should not be in the air," but feared the EU's move could spark reprisals. "The ban is very unfortunate," he said. "The problem is, we're going to have a tit-for-tat situation." Closing a three-day security conference, the UN International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) avoided criticising the EU's decision, despite its aversion to non-diplomatic measures such as blacklists. "Both the European community and ICAO had a difficult summer ... and all felt compelled to act as quickly as possible," said Bill Voss, director of the ICAO's Air Navigation Bureau. "We acted on a global level (by organizing the conference) ... Europe had compelling needs from their own public to act on a regional level." The ICAO said it would seek to improve airline safety with greater transparency by starting to post on the internet aviation safety audits for different countries, and singling out nations that refused to do so by March 2008. US and Venezuela meet: American and Venezuela aviation officials also met during the conference to try to avoid a bilateral ban on each others' airlines. Venezuela wants the US Federal Aviation Administration to end safety restrictions imposed in 1995 on Venezuelan airliners and says it will decide on March 30 whether to ban US flights. US Ambassador William Brownfield warned earlier this week that Venezuelan flights to the US would be banned if Caracas went ahead with its restrictions. Caracas insists it has corrected any safety problems and recently invited FAA officials to inspect its airlines. FAA spokesperson Laura Brown said on Tuesday that FAA Administrator Marion Blakey was in Montreal to deal with other safety issues and it was unclear on Wednesday whether the two countries made any progress on the debate. Venezuela's proposed ban, which would prohibit flights by Houston-based Continental Airlines Inc and Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines Inc, and restrict some by AMR Corp's American Airlines, based in Fort Worth, Texas, comes amid increasingly tense ties between Caracas and Washington. ICAO head Assad Kotaite said a US mission would visit Caracas early next month to maintain dialogue and assess Venezuela's progress since its last audit. "The bridges are not broken, in aviation they must not be broken," Kotaite said. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Canada's hotly debated seal hunt underway Saturday By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer 6:05 p.m. March 23, 2006 MONTREAL - Canada's contentious seal hunt begins Saturday in the frozen ice floes off the Gulf of St. Lawrence, federal fisheries officials announced Thursday, as animal-rights activists gear up for their annual protests. Department of Fisheries and Oceans spokesman Phil Jenkins said while ice conditions are poor in the southern portion of the gulf - between the mainland of Quebec and the Atlantic Ocean - many seals have been spotted further north. The government insists the country's seal population is thriving, at nearly 6 million, and the annual hunt supplements the incomes of the isolated fishing communities in Quebec and Newfoundland. But animal-rights activists and celebrities, including Paul McCartney and Brigitte Bardot, have placed Canada under an unpopular global spotlight, calling the world's largest seal hunt barbaric and unnecessary in a developed nation. Registered hunters are not allowed to kill the pups before they molt their downy white fur, typically when they're 10 days to three weeks old. "The animals are only weeks old, its cruel, they have yet to meet maturation," deplored Chris Cutter of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, which has invited a parliamentarian from Germany, currently considering a ban of seal products, to witness the hunt. Boycotts have worked in the past, Cutter notes, after countries banned the import of pelts from white coat seals, causing their market to collapse. The United States banned Canadian seals products in 1972, and a ban on importing the white pelts of seal pups was implemented by the European Community in 1983. The quota for the hunt in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is 91,000 harp seals. When the hunt moves to Newfoundland in April, up to 325,000 seals can be killed this year. About 320,000 seals pups were killed last year, bringing the local fishermen 14.5 million. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Seal hunt begins amid protests By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Sun Mar 26, 12:42 AM ET GULF OF ST. LAWRENCE - Sealers took to the thawing ice floes off the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday, the first day of Canada's contentious seal hunt, confronting animal rights activists who claim the annual cull is cruel. Protesters dodged flying seal guts pitched at them by angry hunters on the first day of the spring leg of the world's largest seal slaughter. Reporters and activists tried to get as close as permitted to the hunt on the Gulf of St. Lawrence, but their presence infuriated sealers hunting for scarce animals on small, drifting ice pans. At one point, a sealing vessel charged up to a small inflatable Zodiac boat carrying protesters, and a fisherman flung seal intestines at the observers. "They threw carcasses at our Zodiac and they came rushing at us in their boat and tried to capsize us in the wake," Rebecca Aldworth of the Humane Society told The Associated Press. "This is standard behavior out here; the sealers feel that they're completely above the law." The fishermen in the isolated island communities of Quebec and Newfoundland say the hunt supplements their meager winter incomes, particularly since cod stocks have dwindled dramatically during the past decade. They resent animal-rights activists, who They say have little understanding of their centuries-old traditions. The hunt brought $14.5 million in revenue last year, after some 325,000 seals were slaughtered. Fishermen sell their pelts, mostly for the fashion industry in Norway, Russia and China, as well as blubber for oil, earning about $60 per seal. The federal government maintains Canada's seal population is healthy and abundant, with a population of nearly 6 million in the Arctic north and maritime provinces. Regulations require the sealers to quickly kill the seals with a pick or bullet to the brain. The pups also must be over 2-3 weeks old and have shed their white downy fur before being killed. Mark Small, president of the Northeast Coast Sealers Coop, has been sealing off Newfoundland for about 40 years. He said the activists do not understand how important the hunt is to family fishermen. "I think the Canadian public realizes these are coastal people who live off the sea and depend on the hunt to survive in small communities where the fish stocks are not there," Small told the AP in a telephone interview from St. Johns. Animal rights activists claim the fishermen often skin the seals alive or leave some pups to die if they are not immediately knocked unconscious. The Humane Society has had high-profile allies in celebrities like Paul McCartney and his wife, Heather Mills McCartney, who traveled to the Gulf of St. Lawrence two weeks ago to pose with the newborn pups. In a video message from London, the McCartneys proposed that Canada could end the slaughter by offering a license buyback program to sealers. The French film legend Brigitte Bardot came to Ottawa earlier this week. She said she was stunned that a developed nation would still let such a practice continue, three decades after she first came to Canada to frolic with some pups in an attempt to end the slaughter. The unseasonably mild temperatures in the Gulf of St. Lawrence have made the ice thin and many of the harp seal pups appear to have drowned, prompting protesters to call for the quota of 325,000 kills to be lowered to compensate for the natural deaths. John Grandy, a veteran animal-rights activist on board a plane chartered by the Humane Society to monitor the hunt and report any abuses, also said fewer pups were on the ice this year. "That tells us many have died, they fell through before they could swim," Grandy said. Roger Simon, spokesman for the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, disputed concerns about a high natural seal mortality this year. "There will always be some mortality and some drowning," Simon told The Canadian Press. Aboriginal and Inuit hunters began the commercial kill in November in Canada's frozen Arctic waters; the spring leg will move off the coast of Newfoundland in April. The St. Lawrence hunt can last from three to 10 days, depending on hunting conditions. Martin Dufour, a helicopter pilot from Quebec who was ferrying the Humane Society protesters out to the ice, said he was not opposed to the hunt, only the way in which the seals are killed. "I don't know why they use the picks," he said. "It's a savage way and the seals are too young." The hunters prefer to use spiked clubs called hakapiks to crush the seals' skulls, rather than possibly damage the pelts with bullet holes. -------------------------------------------------------------------- Terror suspect Charkaoui gets high profile ally in son of late Canadian PM By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer April 7 2006 MONTREAL _ Terror suspect Adil Charkaoui appeared in Federal Court on Friday to ask that restrictions imposed on him following his release from detention be lifted and again denied he was tied to al-Qaida. Charkaoui, 32, was arrested in 2003 and detained for 21 months on allegations that he is a sleeper agent for Osama bin Laden's terror network. He was released on bail in February 2005. His release required that he obey certain conditions, including a curfew, having to be accompanied by his mother or father outside his home and wearing an electronic tracking bracelet. More than a dozen people testified on his behalf and some offered to chaperone him if the measures remain in place. Among them was Alexandre Trudeau, the son of the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, who said Charkaoui was suffering unnecessarily as a result of the bail conditions. "I don't think he's a threat to national security and the government certainly hasn't proved that he might be," Trudeau said outside the federal court. "We have no reason to listen to a government that says, `Trust us with this, we know what's best for you.'" Trudeau is a respected journalist who has supported similar cases and is working on a documentary regarding Canada's so-called security certificates, which allows Ottawa to detain terror suspects indefinitely, without trial and based on secret evidence. "In this case there are many problems such as the non-presumption of innocence and the burden of proof is on Mr. Charkaoui," Trudeau said. "But without showing him the allegations against him, it's very problematic; he may as well be bin Laden." Charkaoui has argued that threats to deport him to his native Morocco are in violation of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms as he would likely be tortured there. Charkaoui said he has tried repeatedly to prove that he is not a terrorist. "Thirty people have testified in my favor, I have taken four lie-detector tests, I have condemned terrorism in open letters," he said. "I not only want my freedom but to be cleared of all suspicion." But convicted terrorist Ahmed Ressam _ who was nabbed in 1999 trying to enter the United States from Canada with a trunkload of explosives intended for an attack on Los Angeles International Airport _ reportedly told authorities he had seen Charkaoui at a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan in 1997 or 1998. The security certificate, a highly contentious provision of Canada's Immigration Act strengthened after the 9/11 terror attacks, means some evidence against Charkaoui is known only by the government and Federal Justice Simon Noel. Noel did not make a decision but asked Charkaoui's lawyer to come up with a list of suggested changes to the release conditions for him to consider. He will likely rule before the end of the month. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Rwanda President Kagame urges foreign investment, higher education at home By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer April 25 2006 MONTREAL _African countries that promote education and development in an effort to combat poverty in their nations must prevent a brain-drain of qualified professionals from the continent, Rwandan President Paul Kagame said Tuesday. Addressing the opening of a two-day conference on education and economic development in Africa, Kagame said the decline of higher education institutions was contributing to the emigration of Africans who were seeking better lives in other parts of the world. "Africa must do more to retain these professionals," said the Rwandan leader, the guest of honor of the Canadian Council of Africa in Montreal. Kagame said his country had seen a sharp increase in school enrollment in the last decade, but that the number of students attending university was still the lowest on the continent. "We must invest in education across the board," he said. The conference has drawn some 300 participants, including speakers from 25 African nations, to discuss the continent's education challenges and promote partnerships with Canada. Kagame's visit has been closely followed by protesters who accuse him of repression at home and involvement in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda's neighbor, where many Rwandans fled during and after the 1994 genocide in their tiny central African homeland. Kagame headed the Tutsi-led rebel force that ended the civil war. More than 500,000 people, mainly Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus lost their lives in the genocide orchestrated by the extremist-Hutu government then in power. Rwanda went on to twice invade Congo, trying to root out Hutu militias. The second invasion, in 1998, sparked a five-year war in Congo that drew in six African countries. An estimated 3.5 million people died in the conflict, most from war-induced disease and starvation. Some groups had called on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to bar Kagame from Canada for alleged war crimes. Outside the hotel where the conference was taking place, Kagame supporters on Tuesday waved Rwandan flags and chanted in the rain while beating drums next to dozens of vocal opponents holding signs that read: "Kagame Assassin" and "Africa's Hitler." "We are here to raise awareness, we are not happy that Canada welcomed a criminal like Kagame," said Faustin Nsabimana of the Canadian Rwandan Congress. A speech given by Kagame on Monday was also marked by protest when one man was wrestled to the ground and arrested after he jumped out of his seat and yelled: "You're a criminal. I love my country. Long live the Democratic Republic of Congo." During the speech, Kagame told a gathering of some 250 business and diplomatic delegates at a dinner organized by the Counsel of International Relations, that his country's economy was booming and eager for international investment. "Rwanda has left the times of strife behind and, today, she is enjoying unprecedented political and economic stability," he said in a glossy brochure handed out to potential investors. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Haiti president-elect ends quiet visit to Canada By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer May 3 2006 MONTREAL (AP)_ Haiti's President-elect Rene Preval wrapped up an informal visit to Canada on Wednesday, insisting that he didn't come to plead for money, yet taking home another C$48 million (US$43 million) in aid. Preval ended four days of meetings in Ottawa and the French-speaking province of Quebec saying he intends to put an end to visits by Haitian leaders in which they beg for foreign aid and instead focus on explaining the crisis facing the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. "I have not come here asking for projects or money," he said after meeting with Premier Jean Charest of Quebec, home to some 120,000 Haitians. "I have come to explain. I have come to seek comprehension and friendship." Preval, who was elected on Feb. 7 and will be sworn later this month, said he hoped to remain in power for five years, during which time he would push to give his impoverished Caribbean nation sound infrastructure and solid institutions. "If after five years I could leave strong institutions, good conditions for investment and the framework for leading this country when I leave, I will be satisfied," he said. Earlier this week, Preval met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Haitian-born Governor-General Michaelle Jean and Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay. He also visited Montreal, where he mingled with members of the city's Haitian community. During the visit, Ottawa announced an additional financial assistance package of C$48 million (US$43 million) to promote good governance and democracy in Haiti, which recently held a runoff election to choose a new parliament. The vote was seen as a test of legislative support for Preval and was carried out with little unrest, compared to presidential elections that had been postponed by violence and called two years after a revolt toppled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Haiti is the largest beneficiary of Canadian aid in the Americas. Over the last two years, Canada has spent more than C$190 million (US$171 million) funding reconstruction and development projects. -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Peanut kiss didn't cause death, Coroner confirms By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer May 11, 2006 Montreal - A teenager believed to have died from a peanut allergy after kissing her boyfriend actually died from a severe asthma attack, a Quebec coroner revealed on Thursday. Coroner Michel Miron said Christina Desforges, 15, died from cerebral anoxia, or lack of oxygen to the brain, triggered by a severe asthma attack. The 15-year-old girl stopped breathing in the early morning of November 20, 2005, after kissing her boyfriend, who had eaten two pieces of toast with peanut butter about nine hours earlier. The initial suspicion by doctors that lingering peanut allergens from that kiss triggered an allergic reaction was wrong, Miron said. "Nine hours passed between the time when the young man ate his two toasts and 03:00, when he kissed Christina," Miron said. "A recent study shows at the end of an hour, there is no allergen left in the saliva." Smoked pot The girl had spent hours at a party with smokers at a home in Saguenay, Quebec, when her breathing problems began. She also had smoked pot in the previous hours, Miron added, another factor that can cause problems for asthma sufferers. Around 03:00, Desforges told her boyfriend she was having trouble breathing. She went in the basement to get her inhaler, waking another boy as she stumbled down the stairs. Once outside, she collapsed. The boys tried to resuscitate Desforges as she was being taken to the hospital, but the coroner estimates her brain was deprived of oxygen for 25 to 30 minutes. She was taken off life support nine days later. Full coroner's report released When the teen died, Quebec medical officials said doctors were unable to treat her allergic reaction to a peanut-laced kiss from her boyfriend. In March, Miron broke the usual silence preceding the full release of a coroner's report to end those rumours and the "phobia" provoked by a case which drew global media coverage. He said he was concerned the rumours were triggering suspicion that injections used to treat allergic reactions were ineffective, after fielding calls from concerned medical journals. Some symptoms of peanut allergies, such as difficulties breathing from the swelling of the face and throat, can be confused with asthma attacks. Asthma kills about 500 Canadians every year, according to the Asthma Society of Canada. Society head Frank Viti said many asthma sufferers do not take their symptoms seriously. "It's infuriating, because it's completely preventable," Viti said. -------------------------------------------------------------------------- US says war on drugs turns to meth By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer May 12, 2006 MONTREAL (AP) -While marijuana remains the drug of choice and cocaine has been "the bane of our existence" in the global war on drugs, methamphetamine has now become a global threat, the head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration told a conference that ended Thursday. Karen Tandy and representatives from 80 countries gathered in Montreal for four days to hash out new ways to fight the war on drugs at the 24th International Drug Enforcement Conference. The closed-door conference ended Thursday, with a statement that emphasized the importance of global intelligence-sharing to fight the drugs, increasingly tied to terrorists. The statement said international drug-enforcement cooperation made possible the arrest of high-level Afghan drug dealers who were giving monetary support to the Taliban, as well as the dismantling of major ecstasy and methamphetamine rings based in Canada and the United States. "The global drug threat can be a daunting challenge, but conferences like IDEC reinforce that the call to fight stretches across thousands of miles, oceans, and boundaries," said Tandy. In her opening address on Tuesday, Tandy said while cocaine "has been the bane of our existence and remains a persistent global challenge," the use of amphetamines had grown to 26 million people worldwide, more than the number of users of heroin and cocaine combined. Methamphetamine, also known as speed or crank, is a highly addictive drug and easily made out of ingredients found at the local pharmacy and hardware store. Law enforcement agents across the United States now list it as their No. 1 drug threat because it is cheap and addictive. Tandy noted the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime estimates the illegal drug market is valued at US$322 billion worldwide. "Thats higher than the gross domestic product of 88 percent of the countries in the world," she said. The conference, which is closed to the media, took place in Canada for the first time, having been previously hosted by countries such as Panama, Mexico and Argentina. It will be held in Spain next year for its 25th anniversary. As the IDEC opened Monday, protesters held a counter-conference in a nearby hotel a few blocks away to criticize America's war on drugs and condemn their prohibition. The symposium brought together scholars and activists from Eastern Europe and the Americas, as well as former U.S. law-enforcement officers who spoke in favor of legalizing drugs after years spent busting criminals. "The only thing we're accomplishing is filling our jails, because we're not keeping the drugs off the street," Terry Nelson, a Texas police officer for more than 30 years, told CBC TV. "The war on drugs is not working. It's broken and it needs to be fixed." ------------------------------------- FIFA to push for world anti-doping standards By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer May 14, 2006 MONTREAL _ Fifa will push for its members to adopt the world anti-doping code in time for the World Cup next month, the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) said on Sunday. If the code is adopted at Fifa's congress before the start of the tournament on June 9 in Germany, the world's top soccer stars would be subject to two-year suspensions for serious doping violations instead of the lighter bans under Fifa rules. Wada head Dick Pound said on Sunday that soccer's world governing body informed him that it would work to accept the code in time for the World Cup. "The great thing about Fifa being onside is that it's the biggest, most important sport in the world," Pound said after two days of Wada meetings. "The World Cup is the only thing that rivals Olympic audiences. "It's a tremendously strong message." Wada and Fifa have been working out the details since last month, when the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland found Fifa was not in compliance with Wada's standards on eight points, including its penalties for failed drug tests. Pound said seven of the eight points can be approved at a Fifa executive meeting and the last at a Fifa congress in Munich in the week leading up to the World Cup. The two sides have been at odds for two years, with Fifa preferring a six-month minimum ban and to judge each case on its individual circumstances. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Australian PM: Diminished US will make world vulnerable to terror By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer 05-18-06 2029EDT OTTAWA (AP) -- Those who seek a diminished U.S. role in global affairs should be careful what they wish for as it would leave the world more exposed to terror, Australia's prime minister told the Canadian parliament on Thursday. John Howard, a close U.S. ally in the war on terror, said the United States represents a power for good. "A retreating America will leave a more vulnerable world,'' Howard said in a speech to lawmakers on the first day of a three-day visit here. "It will leave a world more exposed to terrorism and will leave a more fragile and indeed dangerous world.'' "The values for which the United States stand are the values to which Canada and Australia stand,'' he said. "They are values of spreading democracy of individual liberty and a society where free enterprise is the principal economic driver, but also a society where the less fortunate should be protected by a decent social security safety net.'' Howard is the first foreign leader to visit Prime Minister Stephen Harper since the Canadian's election victory in January. While both countries share the same head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, Howard's is the first visit by an Australian leader in decades. By contrast, Howard has made repeated visits to Washington, where his staunch support on the war on terror and Iraq has been well received. Unlike Australia, Canada did not take part in the war in Iraq, causing friction with the U.S. But Harper's new Conservative minority government is closer to Washington than its Liberal predecessor, quickly moving to settle a long-standing lumber disagreement and espousing a conservative ideology closer to that of President Bush. Howard and Harper are scheduled to talk about the war on terror and international security. Both countries have troops in Afghanistan. Howard is ending a weeklong visit to North America. He spent five days in the U.S. where he held talks with Bush and key administration officials. ---------------------------------------------------- Canada considers moving away from Kyoto By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer 05-19-06 19:43:31 GATINEAU, Quebec (AP) -- Efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions must involve the world's top polluters, Canada and Australia's leaders said Friday, an indication that Canada is considering joining a partnership of countries fighting climate change outside the Kyoto Protocol. Australia, which has not ratified the Kyoto accord, has been encouraging Canada to join the Asian-Pacific Partnership on climate change to promote new technologies. The group includes the United States, China and India, which are either not part of the Kyoto Protocol or have no emissions targets, as well as Japan and South Korea. The Kyoto Protocol aims to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by 5 percent below 1990 levels. After meeting with Australian Prime Minister John Howard in a mansion in the Gatineau hills some 15 miles (24 kilometers) north of Ottawa, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, "We believe it's the kind of initiative the world needs." "If we're serious about climate change and controlling greenhouse gases, we clearly have to have an international regime that includes the largest emitters," Harper said. "We in Canada certainly welcome the initiative, as a government that finds itself 35 percent behind existing Kyoto targets and with the need to do something," Harper said, adding he had discussed the possibility of joining the group. Under the former ruling Liberal party, Canada strongly defended the Kyoto protocol when it hosted an international environment conference in Montreal in December, but the newly elected conservatives of Stephen Harper have been less supportive of Kyoto. "Our attitude is we want to engage the international community on any level that's going to get real progress and involve everybody," Harper said. Howard said his country would "warmly welcome" Canada if it were to join in. The partnership explores combating global warming through technological development rather than mandatory emissions cuts. Howard said countries are reluctant to sacrifice their economies to curb emissions. Harper and Howard, whose countries account for 43 percent of the world's uranium deposits and more than half its uranium production, also said they will be studying the U.S. Department of Energy's Global Nuclear Energy Partnership that suggests using nuclear energy to meet the growing demand for electricity. They said nuclear energy would have an important role in dealing with their respective energy and environmental challenges in the years ahead. "We don't approach this American-inspired proposal with antagonism, we approach it with interest," Howard said, stressing there was pressure in his country to make use of nuclear energy to ease the concerns related to the environment and high energy prices. On the second day of Howard's three-day visit to Canada, the leaders also discussed international security and their military role in Afghanistan, as well as the environment and Asia-Pacific region. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Nobel Laureate urges better resource management to prevent wars By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer May 24, 2006 MONTREAL (AP) The world can avoid conflict by better managing its limited resources, Nobel Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai told a global conference of educators on Tuesday. The Kenyan professor, winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for her work on environmental conservation, told the opening of the 58th Annual Conference of the Association of International Educators that managing resources more responsibly and sharing them more equitably can pre-empt future crises around the world. "There is a limited amount of resources on the planet and when you have excess, it is at the expense of others" she told the gathering of some 7,000 participants from 90 countries meeting in Montreal until Friday. "We don't have to go to war, kill each other, destroy each other, destroy each others countries, and then sit down around the table to try to look for peace" said the founder of the Green Belt Movement, which led to the planting of 30 million trees throughout Kenya. The conference has brought together educators, administrators, policy experts and world leaders to exchange ideas under this year's theme: Advancing Our International Commitment. Participants stressed the need for international education exchanges, particularly to better understand the post-9/11 world. "The idea is the more we connect across borders the better off we will be as a planet," said Ursula Oaks, a NAFSA spokeswoman. Other notable participants include Mary Robinson, Ireland's first woman president, and the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Iranian human rights activist Shirin Ebadi. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Right to detain terror suspects indefinitely challenged By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer 06-12-06 Right to detain terror suspects indefinitely in Canada challenged in Supreme Court The Associated Press, June 12, 2006 OTTAWA - Opponents of a Canadian immigration law that allows authorities to detain terror suspects indefinitely without trial were preparing to challenge it before Canada's Supreme Court, as the country reels from the recent arrests of an alleged homegrown terrorist ring. Opponents say the law violates the country's Charter of Rights and Freedoms in part because it allows for lengthy detentions based on secret evidence and without the right to appeal. Five Arab Muslim men, held for years under "security certificates" that deem them a threat to national security, face deportation on suspicion of terrorist activities. The men claim they are innocent and face torture if returned to their native Algeria, Morocco, Syria and Egypt. Human rights and immigration lawyers will argue Tuesday before Canada's highest court, challenging the constitutionality, conditions of detention and undisclosed evidence against the men under the provision of Canada's Immigration Act. "The way the system is set up violates fundamental justice," said Paul Copeland, a lawyer for Mohamed Harkat, an Algerian and one of three men challenging the certificate process. "These cases will help determine whether Canada follows the lawless American approach on national security or creates a uniquely Canadian path in conformity with the principles of international justice," he said. Harkat, Adil Charkaoui and Hassan Almrei, the three men taking their cases to the Supreme Court, are all accused by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service of having ties to al-Qaida. So are two other detainees, Mohammad Mahjoub and Mahmoud Jaballah, who are not part of the current challenge but whose fates likely rest on the outcome. Charkaoui, 32, was released on US$42,000 bail last year after 21 months in detention, on allegations that he is a sleeper agent for Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network. Charkaoui, who is the main appellant, denies the connection and argues that security certificates are unconstitutional and violate the Charter, as well as international law. "I am heading to the Supreme Court with optimism," Charkaoui said in a statement. "Despite the difficulty, we have succeeded in bringing this issue to the fore and gaining an impressive level of support, both in Canada and internationally." If the security certificate, which can only be applied to foreigners, is upheld in court, Charkaoui could be deported to his native Morocco, where he fears torture. Charkaoui remains constrained by strict bail regulations, including a tracking bracelet. He had to obtain special permission to travel to Ottawa from Montreal to attend his challenge. The court will also consider the cases of two men detained in Kingston, Ontario: Harkat, the Algerian who was arrested in Ottawa in December 2002, and Syrian-born Hassan Almrei, who has been detained since 2001. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and many other international and Canadian groups have claimed the security certificates have resulted in violations of fundamental human rights. A U.N. committee on arbitrary detention last year expressed grave concern about the detentions without the right to a fair hearing. Federal lawyers, in their written brief to the Supreme Court, defend the process as essential to safeguard intelligence sources, including those of allied countries that share material with Canada, most notably the United States. "There is no right to an unfettered disclosure of all information on which a security certificate is based," the brief states. In fact, revealing details could "fatally jeopardize international cooperation in the sharing of vital information." Terrorism-related cases have become the focus of great scrutiny in Canada, since the arrest of 17 men and teenagers on June 2 for allegedly plotting attacks in Ontario. Some observers fear the current climate of public apprehension could impact the high court decision, which is not expected for several months. "Judges are human beings, the same way anyone else is; obviously they read the news," said lawyer Barbara Jackman, who represents Almrei and will address the Supreme Court. "Of course it's going to impact in some way." ------------------------------------------- Supreme Court hears challenge to indefinite terror-related detentions By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer 2006-06-14 11:13 OTTAWA - Three Arab men challenged Canada's policy toward foreign-born terror suspects before the Supreme Court, arguing that detaining them for years or deporting them back to their homelands to possibly face torture violates the constitution. The three-day hearing, which opened Tuesday, comes on the heels of 17 arrests that foiled a plot to launch homegrown terrorist attacks. Mohamed Harkat, Adil Charkaoui and Hassan Almrei are accused by the Canadian intelligence service of having ties to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network. The men say they are innocent and have spent years in detention as the government determines whether they should be deported. The men fear they will be tortured or killed if forced to return to their native countries of Algeria, Morocco and Syria, respectively. Under Canada's hotly debated ''security certificate'' program, the federal government can detain and deport immigrants without charge, and without providing them or their lawyers with evidence, if they are deemed a threat to national security. A slew of civil libertarians and human rights advocates joined attorneys for the three men Tuesday in arguing against the detentions before the court. Edward Greenspan of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association urged the justices to avoid being influenced by public anxiety over terrorism. ''We must realize that the greatest danger to our institutions may rest not in the threat of subversion, but in our own weakness in yielding to wartime anxiety and our readiness to disregard the fundamental rights of the individual,'' he said. Douglas Elliott, representing the Canadian Arab Federation, noted that the five men held under the certificates are Arab Muslims, which he said smacked of racial profiling. ''Arabs in Canada live in a society where stereotypes have been reduced to a single equation: Arab equals Muslim, and Muslim equals terrorist,'' he said. Lawyers for the men also challenged the conditions of their detention and the government's refusal to disclose the evidence against them or their attorneys. ''Cases should be heard fully and publicly by an independent and impartial court,'' Johanne Doyon, an attorney representing Moroccan-born Charkaoui, told the nine-judge bench. Federal law allows sensitive intelligence information to be heard behind closed doors by a federal judge, with only sketchy summaries given to defense attorneys. If those foreigners choose to fight deportation, they can spend years in jail while the cases go through the courts. In the end, they risk being labeled as terrorists and stigmatized by flimsy evidence, said Doyon. ''There may be consequences that last a lifetime.'' Two other detainees, Mohammad Mahjouband Mahmoud Jaballah, are not part of the current challenge but their fates likely rest on the outcome. Both are Egyptian. Charkaoui, 32, was released on US$42,000 bail last year after 21 months in detention on allegations he is a sleeper agent for al-Qaida. He denies the connection but fears he will be tortured if he is deported to his native Morocco. ''We cannot allow Guantanamo in Canada,'' he said outside the courtroom ''I don't just want to be free _ I want justice.'' Harkat was released on bail last month after more than three years behind bars. Like Charkaoui, he must wear an electronic monitoring bracelet and follow strict bail terms. Almrei, a native of Syria who has been detained since 2001, remains in jail, as do Mahjoub and Jaballah. Barbara Jackman, representing Almrei, said her client is in a maximum security facility with no access to a canteen, education or other programs that convicted prisoners are able to use. ''You can't just put someone in jail, throw away the key and not give them any hope of getting out,'' she said. Federal lawyers, in their written brief to the Supreme Court, defend the process as essential to safeguard intelligence sources and Canada's allies. They allege Almrei was involved in an international forgery ring and should be deported. ''Given the threat posed by the ability of terrorists to travel on fraudulent documentation and al-Qaida's preference for operatives to carry Canadian and other passports, rather than Middle Eastern ones, Almrei's detention helps disrupt the procurement and distribution of such passports,'' the brief read. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Canadian-Lebanese outraged over deaths The Associated Press Jul 17th - 7:40pm Relatives of the Canadian-Lebanese family killed in an Israeli air strike in southern Lebanon lashed out at the Canadian government Monday, saying it had not done enough to protect its citizens from the violence nor demanded an end to Israeli aggression. Eight Canadian members of the family of Ali El-Akhras, a Montreal pharmacist, were killed as a result of the attack on Sunday, relatives in Montreal said. Three other Lebanese members of the same family were also killed, they said. The Canadians were vacationing in their family's home in the village of Aitarun near the Israeli border at the time of the air strike. Akhras was wounded and died on Monday, his cousin in Montreal, Ibrahim Balbaki, said. His wife Amira, their four children - Saja, Zeinab, Ahmad and Salam - his mother Hania and his cousin Ali all died in the blast on Sunday. His father, Ahmad, was badly injured. Meyssoun Akhras, the sister of El-Akhras, told a news conference in Montreal Monday she was outraged that Canada has stood behind Israel and not done more to protect Canadians. "They have all died in one single room," she said between tears, shaking with anger. "I pray now that they are all in heaven." Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has supported Israel's right to defend itself from the Hezbollah attacks since the Islamic militants captured two Israeli soldiers and killed eight others last Wednesday. Israel responded by unleashing a six-day air and sea barrage across Lebanon which has killed at least 210 people in Lebanon. In Israel, 24 have died. "I ask the prime minister to be on our side and to speak the truth, to speak the truth of Israel, and to say that Israel has come into my home, that Hezbollah was protecting my house," Akhras said. Canada is a close ally of Israel, but also supports the Palestinian quest for a homeland. Harper, on the final day of the G8 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia on Monday, countered criticism that Canada has been slow to evacuate some 40,000 Canadian citizens from Lebanon. He said Ottawa would have six commercial ships off the Lebanese coast by midweek. He said the return of Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hezbollah, not an immediate cease-fire, was the key to ending the current conflict. "We are not going to give in to the temptation of some to single out Israel, which was the victim of the initial attack," Harper said. "The onus remains on the parties that caused the conflict to take steps to end the conflict. But obviously we urge Israel and others to minimize civilian damage." Canada's Lebanese community in Montreal numbers about 50,000. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Canada scrambles to get historic evacuation under way The Associated Press 2006-07-18T 15:20:17 Six chartered passenger ships were to be in position off the coast of Lebanon on Wednesday to begin evacuating up to 30,000 Canadians stranded in the crossfire there, in what could become the biggest evacuation of its citizens in Canadian history. There are as many as 50,000 Canadian-Lebanese in Lebanon, but many of them have dual citizenship and live in Lebanon, so it was unclear how many would want to be evacuated. Foreign Affairs officials said Canadians would be evacuated by ship from the port of Beirut. Authorities intend to evacuate some 4,500 a day, ferrying them to Cyprus, an island nation about 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of Lebanon in the Mediterranean Sea, where three aircraft have been leased to fly them home. Kim Girtel, a spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs, said about 30,000 Canadians in Lebanon have now registered with the embassy in Beirut. She acknowledged the evacuation will take time. "It would be nice if we could Star Trek them out, but it's going to take time," she said. "Priority goes to people in greatest need." Ottawa announced Tuesday that citizens would not have to pay for the evacuation, a relief for many who already have lost vacations - and some family members - in the weeklong fighting between Israel and Hezbollah militants based in southern Lebanon. A Montreal family lost eight members, including four young children, on Sunday to an Israeli missile attack. They were all in one home near the southern border of Lebanon. Many of Canada's 150,000 Lebanese live in French-speaking Montreal. Several hundred demonstrated in front of the Israel Embassy on Tuesday. Lebanese-born member of Parliament Maria Mourani was among them. "This is not an attack against Hezbollah, it's an attack against all Lebanese people," she said. "Canada always had an image of peace and dialogue, to strike a balance. Canada has lost this image with Mr. Harper." Prime Minister Stephen Harper has infuriated many in the Lebanese community by repeatedly supporting Israel's right to protect itself, and couching his calls for restraint by noting that Hezbollah started the conflict by kidnapping two Israeli soldiers. Hassan Al-Akhras - a cousin of the Montreal pharmacist who was killed in the Israeli airstrike, along with his mother, wife and four children and another cousin - said he would demand an investigation into why Canadians were not evacuated sooner. "This is criminal," he told the AP in Montreal. "I want those responsible to be brought before the courts, starting with Mr. Harper. What are we, second-class citizens? Is he the prime minister of Israel or Canada? He failed his mandate; Harper put the rights of Israelis before those of Canadians." Harper, in France on Tuesday on his way back from the G8 summit in Russia over the weekend, denied claims that Ottawa had been too slow to act. "There have been hundreds of federal employees who have been working day and night to put in place the largest evacuation of Canadian citizens from another country in our history," Harper said. "This, under the circumstances, will be done extraordinarily quickly." Canadian officials say they are seeking assurances of safe passage through southern Lebanon to Beirut from all "belligerents" in the crisis. Sources told The Canadian Press that a military reconnaissance squad was dispatched Monday to Lebanon to provide security and logistical advice for the evacuation. Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay said the government is also seeking assurances from Israel and Lebanon that the ships carrying Canadians will not be targeted. Opposition critics in Parliament have accused the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper of reacting sluggishly to the plight of Canadians trapped in Lebanon. France, Italy, Sweden and Denmark began evacuating their citizens Monday, and the United States began evacuating some of the estimated 25,000 Americans in Lebanon on Tuesday. ----- AP correspondent Phil Couvrette in Montreal contributed to this report. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Canada ends evacuations from Lebanon despite criticisms By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer 07-29-06 04:00 PM EST MONTREAL (AP)--On the day Canada conducted the last large-scale removal of its citizens from war-torn Lebanon, Liberal opposition politicians criticized the end of the evacuations and said the country's current foreign policy threatened its credibility as a possible mediator in the Middle East. Four ships were sent to evacuate Canadians on Saturday, bringing the total to over 13,000 people that Canada has removed from the country since evacuations began 10 days ago. The embassy has registered some 40,000 Canadians living in Lebanon. Opposition members of parliament called for the continuation of the evacuation and said Canada should do more to reunite families. "One can't stop evacuations like that. It's totally unacceptable, it's a lack of compassion," said Liberal lawmaker Denis Coderre. "We're talking about human lives not statistics." The Liberal parliamentarians called for an immediate cease-fire to the hostilities and for the establishment of a humanitarian corridor to help evacuees. Canada's first evacuees were rescued by boat from Beirut on July 19, days after the beginning of Israeli-Hezbollah hostilities. A slow start to the Canadian operation triggered a firestorm of criticism of the government's handling of the crisis, including accusations that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office micromanaging the evacuations. Other observers say the government did its best given it was faced with the second largest number of evacuees next to the U.S. Harper has infuriated many in the Lebanese community by repeatedly supporting Israel's right to protect itself, and couching his calls for restraint by noting that Hezbollah started the conflict by kidnapping two Israeli soldiers. This week Harper maintained his stance after Israel bombed a U.N. observation post killing three and leaving one Canadian missing and presumed dead. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan suggested Israel deliberately targeted the U.N. outpost despite repeated calls to stop the attacks, but Harper said he didn't believe that was the case. "We believe that the right to defend does not mean that you have carte blanche," Coderre said. "Canada has a fair-minded principle-based foreign policy and if we are not doing that we won't be able to keep our role as mediator," he said. "Canada must play a leader's role and stop being a mouthpiece for president Bush or Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice." Coderre said the opposition was awaiting a session of the House of Commons foreign affairs committee this week to shed some light on Canada's slow response. Opposition leader Gilles Duceppe also called for Canada to return to its traditional role of peacekeeper in the Middle East and to "a more balanced position in the conflict." ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Montreal kicks off Outgames By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Sunday July 30, 2006 MONTREAL (AP) -- The acrobatics of Cirque du Soleil, songs from musical stars such as k.d. lang and a little politics officially kicked off the First World Outgames in Montreal's Olympic stadium. Some 12,000 participants from over 100 countries are taking part in 35 athletic events that run until Aug. 5, but with disciplines that include bridge, ice hockey and dragon boat regatta, in addition to swimming, basketball and track and field, this is not your ordinary sports competition. The events are not exclusive to gays and any records set during competition will stand, but organizers say it is more about mass participation than breaking records. Some 30,000 loud spectators attended the opening ceremonies late Saturday night, dancing to club diva Martha Wash's rendition of "It's Raining Men," hooting as the muscular men of Cirque du Soleil interpreted a balancing act called "Hand in Hand" and cheering as Canadian Olympian Mark Tewksbury and tennis champion Martina Navratilova read excerpts from a new declaration calling for the recognition of universal gay rights. "Long live liberty in diversity," they both yelled to a cheering crowd. "I remember a time when I swam at the Olympics and felt all alone," said Tewksbury, who only made his sexual orientation public after he quit competition, fearing discrimination. "I don't feel that way anymore." The sports competitions are part of a greater gathering that includes an international conference on gay and lesbian rights to promote "social change through sports." The rights conference, held July 26 to 29, was launched in the presence of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, and included some 1,600 participants in over 200 workshops. The event included the drafting of the Montreal Declaration, which calls from protection against gay bashing and promotes freedom of expression and will be submitted to the United Nations. Participants from countries where being gay is a criminal offense made a special entrance Saturday night to loud cheers and ovations. "I know some of you are from nations in which one's sexual orientation could lead to prison sentence or even death," said Montreal mayor Gerald Tremblay. "Your presence encourages us to continue to work for a better world." The crowd, however, shouted down a federal minister to protest the absence of Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the games. His conservative government is also seeking to review Canada's gay marriage legislation. Canada legalized same-sex marriage nationwide last year under another government. The Outgames come on the heels of the seventh Gay Games in Chicago, which Montreal was originally slated to host but turned down after a dispute by organizers who went on to stage their own games. While the Outgames have roughly the same number of events and participants as the Chicago gay games, nearly twice as many countries are participating. "There are so many countries in the world where being gay is not only punishable by justice but punishable by death," Navratilova said during a visit at Montreal's city hall. "We're worried about equal rights as a same-sex couple in America, where in other countries people are worried about staying alive because they're gay." Tewksbury says correspondence with gays in countries such as Nigeria had to be made in complete confidentiality by fear participants' lives would be in jeopardy. Coming on the 30th anniversary of the 1976 Olympics, the Outgames are the largest athletic events the city has hosted since then. The Outgames conclude with a closing ceremony at Olympic stadium on Aug. 5 featuring a performance by Liza Minnelli. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Small plane crashes near Montreal By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Tuesday, September 12, 2006; 9:30 PM MONTREAL -- A single-engine plane crashed into a residential area south of Montreal island on Tuesday, hitting vehicles and injuring six people _ two in the plane and four on the road, police said. The plane was left belly-up with a broken wing on the south shore of Montreal. "The plane made an emergency landing and hit four vehicles when it crashed," said Pierre Quintal of Longueuil police. "Six people were injured, including the pilot of the plane and the passenger, who suffered minor injuries." The other four injured people were in vehicles on the road, police said, adding the injuries were not life-threatening. Several streets in the area were cordoned off. One witness interviewed by TVA network said he saw the plane swooping low near the airport and could not hear its engine before it crashed into a sport utility vehicle. Other witnesses said the plane seemed to be having trouble steering and was closing in on a nearby airfield in the wrong direction. Sunny conditions suggested the weather was not a factor. The crash followed the spectacular landing of a Cessna plane on a major Montreal thoroughfare following engine failure over the weekend. Nobody was injured in that incident. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Montreal shooting rampage kills student By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Wed Sep 13, 7:33 PM ET MONTREAL - A man in a black trench coat and a mohawk haircut opened fire Wednesday at a downtown Montreal college, slaying a young woman and wounding at least 19 other people before police shot and killed him, witnesses and authorities said. Police dismissed suggestions that terrorism played a role in the lunch-hour attack at Dawson College, where scores of panicked students fled into the streets after the shooting began. Some had clothes stained with blood; others cried and clung to each other. Two nearby shopping centers and a daycare center also were evacuated. "I was terrified. The guy was shooting at people randomly. He didn't care, he was just shooting at everybody," said student Devansh Smri Vastava. "There were cops firing. It was so crazy." Witnesses said the attacker started firing outside the college before walking in the front door. Much of the shooting was in the second-floor cafeteria, where students dropped to the floor and lay in terror. At times the gunman hid behind vending machines before emerging to take aim - at one point at a teenager who tried to photograph him with his cell phone. Teachers ran through the halls, telling everyone to get out of the building. Police rushed to the scene, hiding behind a wall as they exchanged fire with the gunman, whose back was against a vending machine, said student Andrea Barone, who was in the cafeteria. He said the officers proceeded cautiously because many students were trapped around the assailant, who yelled "Get back! Get back!" every time an officer tried to move closer. Eventually, Barone said, the gunman went down in hail of gunfire. Authorities did not provide any information about the attacker. Police spokesman Ean Lafreniere said there was just one gunman at the school and the search for any others was over. Although police initially suggested the gunman had killed himself, Police Director Yvan DeLorme later said at a news conference that "based on current information, the suspect was killed by police." Police with guns drawn stood behind a police cruiser as a SWAT team swarmed the 12-acre campus. The attacker's bloody body, covered in a yellow sheet, lay next to a police cruiser near an entrance to a school building. Montreal General Hospital said 11 people were admitted, including eight who were in critical condition. The nine others were taken to two other hospitals. One young woman later died, a police official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the victim's next-of-kin had not yet been notified. "Today we have witnessed a cowardly and senseless act of violence unfold at Montreal's Dawson College," Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said. "Our primary concern right now is to ensure the safety and recovery of all those who were injured during this tragedy." The shooting recalled the 1999 attack at Columbine High School in Colorado, where two students wearing trench coats killed 13 people before committing suicide. Canada's worst mass shooting also happened in Montreal. Gunman Marc Lepine killed 14 women at the Ecole Polytechnic on Dec. 6, 1989, before shooting himself. The 25-year-old Lepine roamed the halls of the school firing a rifle, specifically targeting women whom he claimed in a suicide note had ruined his life. Nine other women and four men were wounded. That shooting spurred efforts for new gun laws and greater awareness of societal violence - particularly domestic abuse. Canada's tighter gun law was achieved mainly as the results of efforts by survivors and relatives of Lepine's victims. Dawson is more of a pre-college division than a traditional university. It was the first English-language institution in Quebec's network of university preparatory colleges when it was founded in 1969. With about 10,000 students, it is the largest college of general and vocational education, known by its French acronym CEGEP, in the province. Witnesses to Wednesday's attack said a man wearing a black trench coat entered the school cafeteria and opened fire without uttering a word. Derick Osei, 19, said he was walking down the stairs to the cafeteria when he saw a man with a gun. "He ... just started shooting up the place. I ran up to the third floor and I looked down and he was still shooting," Osei said. "He was hiding behind the vending machines and he came out with a gun and started pointing and pointed at me. So I ran up the stairs. I saw a girl get shot in the leg." Osei said people in the cafeteria were all lying on the floor. "I saw the gunman who was dressed in black and at that time he was shooting at people," student Michel Boyer told CTV. "I immediately hit the floor. It was probably one of the most frightening moments of my life." "He was shooting randomly, I didn't know what he was shooting at, but everyone was screaming, Get out of the building!" Boyer said. "Everybody was in tears. Everybody was so worried for their own safety for their own lives." Raamias Hernandez, 19, said he had just finished his class when he saw everyone start to run. He said the gunman was dressed in a black jacket and had a mohawk haircut. Hernandez said he started to take pictures with his cell phone with his friend and the suspect saw them and started shooting. Vastava said he saw a man in military fatigues with "a big rifle" storm the cafeteria. "He just started shooting at people," Vastava said, adding that he heard about 20 shots fired. He also said teachers ran through the halls telling students to get out. "We all ran upstairs." Barone, 17, said he was sitting in the cafeteria with his girlfriend and some friends when he heard some shots. "At first I thought it was a firecracker," he said. "Then I turned around and I saw him. He was dressed in a black trench coat and I saw his hand firing a handgun in every direction." Barone said a police officer emerged from a corner next to the cafeteria and fired a shot in the direction of the gunman no more than several yards away and missed him. Five or six more police officers showed up, he said. Barone said it was like a running battle with five or six shots fired in both directions every minute. After police eventually killed the gunman, the officers helped the students leave the cafeteria, crawling out on their bellies along a wall. Barone said as they were crawling out toward an exit they saw a girl who had been shot in the torso and who was face down surrounded by a pool of blood. He said officers told them: "Don't look, don't look. Keep going out." ----------------------------------------------------------------- Police say Montreal gunman killed self By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Thu Sep 14, 7:03 PM ET MONTREAL - A 25-year-old man who mounted a deadly shooting rampage at a downtown Montreal college had posted pictures of himself on the Internet with a rifle and said he was feeling "crazy" and "postal" and was drinking whiskey hours before the attack. The man, identified by police as Kimveer Gill, also said on a blog that he liked to play a role-playing Internet game about the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado and wanted to die "in a hail of gunfire." In the end, Gill dressed in a black trench coat like the Columbine shooters put his own gun to his head and pulled the trigger during a shootout with officers at Dawson College on Wednesday, police said. Gill, wielding a rapid-fire rifle and two other weapons, had already wounded 20 other people by the time he took his own life. One of his victims, an 18-year-old woman, later died. Four others remained in critical condition Thursday, including three in extremely critical condition and one in a deep coma. The Internet postings and neighbors' accounts reveal an angry, solitary young man who lived with his mother in Laval, near Montreal. He sported a mohawk, dressed in black and was filled with hatred for everyone from jocks to preppies and everything from country music to hip-hop. He once worked for a carpet company and more recently an auto parts business. "Work sucks ... school sucks ... life sucks ... what else can I say? ... Life is a video game you've got to die sometime," he wrote in his profile for a Web site called vampirefreaks.com. Authorities searched Gill's home Wednesday evening and seized his computer and other belongings. "I don't know what they found in the computer," said a woman who answered the phone at Gill's home and said she was his mother. "They took everything." She described her son as "a good man." "Just ask anybody. Ask the neighbors. He was a good son," the woman told The Associated Press. She refused to give her name. A neighbor across the street said he was a loner. "There were never any friends," Louise Leykauf said. "He kept to himself. He always wore dark clothing." Another neighbor, Mariola Trutschnigg, said she noticed a changed in his appearance in recent months when he "started wearing a mohawk and black clothes." In postings on vampirefreaks.com, blogs in Gill's name show more than 50 photos depicting the young man in various poses holding a rifle or a knife and wearing a black trench coat and combat boots. One photo has a tombstone bearing his name and the epitaph: "Lived fast died young. Left a mangled corpse." The last of six journal entries Wednesday was posted at 10:41 a.m, about two hours before Gill died at Dawson. He said on the site that he felt "crazy" and was drinking whiskey that morning and described his mood as "postal" the night before. "Whiskey in the morning, mmmmmm, mmmmmmmmm, good !! :)," he wrote. "His name is Trench. you will come to know him as the Angel of Death," Gill wrote at another point on his vampirefreaks.com profile. "He is not a people person. He has met a handful of people in his life who are decent. But he finds the vast majority to be worthless, no good, conniving, betraying, lying, deceptive." This inscription is below a picture of Gill aiming a gun at the camera: "I think I have an obbsetion (sic) with guns ... muahahaha." "Anger and hatred simmers within me," said another caption below a picture of Gill grimacing. He wrote that he is 6-foot-1, was born in Montreal and is of Indian heritage. It was unclear whether he meant east Indian or American Indian, but Gill is a common name in India. He said his weakness is laziness and that he fears nothing. Responding to the question, "How do you want to die?" Gill replied "like Romeo and Juliet or in a hail of gunfire." Gill repeatedly said on his blogs that he loved black trench coats. He wore a black trench coat during the shooting and opened fire in the cafeteria just as Columbine students Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris did in 1999. He also maintained an online blog, similar to Klebold and Harris, devoted to Goth culture, heavy metal music such as Marilyn Manson, guns and journal entries expressing hatred against authority figures and "society." He said he liked to play "Super Columbine Massacre," an Internet-based computer game that simulates the April 20, 1999, shootings at the Colorado high school when Klebold and Harris killed 13 people and then themselves. Gill complained that a video shooting game, "Postal 2," was too childish. He wanted one that allowed him to kill more and go "beserk." "I want them to make a game so realistic, that it looks and feels like it's actually happening," he wrote in his blog. Danny Ledonne, the creator of "Super Columbine Massacre," posted a message of sympathy on his site. "I am, like most, saddened by the news of the recent shooting at Dawson College. I extend my condolences to those affected by this painful event," Ledonne wrote. A 23-year-old man and a 12-year-old girl accused in a triple murder in Medicine Hat, Alberta, earlier this year also had profiles on vampirefreaks.com. Montreal Police Chief Yvan Delorme said the lessons learned from other mass shootings had taught police to try to stop such assaults as quickly as possible. "Before our technique was to establish a perimeter around the place and wait for the SWAT team. Now the first police officers go right inside. The way they acted saved lives," he said. Delorme said some officers were at the school on an unrelated matter when the shooting began and reinforcements were sent in. Witnesses said Gill started shooting outside the college, then entered the second-floor cafeteria and opened fire without uttering a word. Anastasia DeSousa, 18, of Montreal was killed. Police initially said Gill shot himself but later Wednesday they said they thought officers killed Gill during an exchange of fire. On Thursday, however, Francois Dore of the Quebec provincial police said "preliminary results of the autopsy showed that he died of self-inflicted wounds." Dore said police shot Gill in the arm before he turned his gun on himself. Canada's worst mass shooting took place in Montreal when gunman Marc Lepine, 25, killed 14 women at the Ecole Polytechnic on Dec. 6, 1989, before shooting himself. That shooting spurred efforts for new gun laws achieved mainly as the results of efforts by survivors and relatives of Lepine's victims. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said it was too early to begin questioning how tougher gun control laws might have averted Wednesday's rampage, but that current laws clearly did not work. "The laws we have didn't prevent this tragedy, which is why our government will be in the future because of this incident and many others looking to make our laws more effective," Harper said. Canadian laws prohibit the possession of unregistered handguns, and the rules for ownership of registered guns are stringent. Many politicians and police contend illegal guns flowing across the U.S.-Canada border are behind a recent spike in firearm violence. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Montrealers mourn student victim By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Fri Sep 15, 8:38 PM ET MONTREAL - Students shared hugs, knelt to say prayers and wept openly Friday at the entrance of Dawson college, where a makeshift flower-covered shrine was steadily growing as the city paused to take stock of this week's school shooting. As flags flew at half-staff across the city, people left flowers and collected their thoughts in silence in various spots around the perimeter of the school. Twenty-five year-old Kimveer Gill, dressed in a trench coat and sporting a mohawk, went on a shooting rampage Wednesday on Dawson's campus of 10,000 students, killing a young woman and wounding 19 people before taking his own life when cornered by police. Near the entrance where some of the shooting took place, a poster with a picture of the only person killed in the spree, 18-year-old Anastasia De Souza, carried the words, "We miss you Anna." Another sign said, "To the victims and the families, you are in our hearts." Workers scrambled inside to get the college ready to reopen for classes next week, but some students indicated returning would not be easy. "I think a lot of people aren't gonna come back on Monday," said Melody Tousignant, 18. "All of my friends are saying that they can't do it. ... Everybody is so traumatized by what happened." Karine-Josee Igartua, director of psychiatric emergency services, said Montreal General Hospital had received some 150 calls since the shooting, half of them from people in distress looking for psychological support. She said that complaints of stress, anxiety and insomnia were normal given the circumstances. "The reaction is intense but it is normal after such an abnormal event," she said. "Our sense of security has been shaken." Igartua said drop-in centers were being opened for people seeking help and expected some students to feel apprehensive about returning to school next week. The hospital reported that one more shooting victim was discharged Friday, and two patients were moved from intensive care to the hospital's regular ward. Seven wounded, of the 11 originally brought in, remained in the hospital, including two who were in critical condition. All had sustained bullet wounds. Mayor Gerald Tremblay invited mourners to sign a book of condolences at city hall through Sunday. --------------------------------------------------- WADA holds off on hypoxic chamber ban By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Saturday, September 16, 2006 · 7:55 p.m. MONTREAL -- The World Anti-Doping Agency held off on banning the use of hypoxic chambers, but asked that studies look further into health implications. Hypoxic or hyperbaric tents and chambers are used by many athletes to replicate high-altitude conditions and boost levels of oxygen-rich red blood cells. WADA's ethics committee ruled Saturday that the chambers enhance performance and violate "the spirit of sport" but the executive committee refrained from adding them to their list of prohibited substances and methods for 2007 during its meeting Saturday. "It doesn't mean we approve it," WADA head Dick Pound said. He noted that with the current information available, putting it on the list was not warranted. "Some people under some conditions, yes, you can obtain some performance-enhancing effect, but not in all," Pound said. "We are however concerned that there may be some potential danger of a medical nature." WADA said it asked the IOC medical commission to look into the issue of health effects. WADA's Scientific director, Olivier Rabin, said that side-effects of using the chambers could include altitude-sickness as well as sleep disturbance and could affect the response of the immune system. Pound also called "tremendously encouraging" the decision by former members of Lance Armstrong's United States Postal Service cycling team to come forward and admit that they used the performance-enhancing drug EPO to prepare for the Tour de France in 1999. Pound praised that such personal initiatives by athletes could help the fight against doping in sport. "I hope it continues and we certainly encourage it," he said. On Thursday Pound said he had full confidence in doping tests for EPO, which produced an initial positive finding for Marion Jones but came back negative in the backup sample. Pound said WADA would look into all the documents in the Jones' case to determine if there were any mistakes after it asked the Los Angeles laboratory that analyzed her samples to provide them. It considers this process "standard procedure when samples don't match." Pound also regretted that it was "taking more time than we would like" for countries to ratify the UNESCO convention on doping. Only 17 countries have ratified the treaty so far; at least 30 are required for adoption. WADA said it would commit $5.4 million this year to scientific research that aims to identify and detect doping substances and methods, bringing the total amount of research since 2001 to $27 million. ----------------------------------------------------- Montreal students return after shooting By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Monday, September 18, 2006; 6:20pm Students respectfully made a path through flowers forming a makeshift shrine and entered Dawson College for the first time since last week's shooting which killed one student and injured 19 others. At 12:41 p.m. EST, the time the shooting started last Wednesday, hundreds of students started a symbolic entry, under the applause of onlookers, through the entrance where some of the violence had taken place, reclaiming their school from the tragedy that had left Sept. 13th etched in their memory. One day before classes formally resume, they were allowed to collect books and other items that were left behind in the panic that broke out when a lone gunman started firing indiscriminately. Kimveer Gill, 25, dressed in a trench-coat and sporting a mohawk, went on a shooting rampage on the campus of 10,000 students, killing one 18 year-old girl before taking his own life after being cornered by police. Over the weekend his parents expressed their sympathies to the families of the victims and asked for forgiveness. In an interview with La Presse newspaper they said Gill had been more solitary and sad since the holidays and had already been treated for depression. They said they were aware their son owned guns but added that they were all acquired legally and registered and were told they were used for his sporting enjoyment at a local gun club. The parents claim however they were unaware of internet postings in which Gill called himself "Angel of death" and professed to wanting to "die in a hail of gunfire". Gill also spent a brief period of four weeks trying out the Canadian armed forces, but eventually quit before he had even manipulated arms. While psychologists said the return to class would be difficult for some students, others got a lift from the solemn procession which the students themselves organized as a show of unity. "It's pretty overwhelming but it's also uplifting to see everyone coming together as a community, said Andrea Zwaagatra, 21. Dawson director Richard Fillion said some 10 to 15 percent of students were still deeply affected by the tragedy. "This is an exceptional moment in Dawson history," Fillion said of the school's reopening. "We will never forget what happened." Health professionals, including nurses, social workers and psychiatrists, were on hand Monday to help students come to terms with the tragedy. While Monday was marked by efforts to heal the wounds left by the shooting, fears of a copy-cat incident were raised as the provincial police arrested and seized the computer of a 15 year-old boy who allegedly praised Gill and threatened a similar attack on his school on the site Vampirefreaks.com, the same site where Gill had posted disturbing thoughts and photos of him brandishing various weapons. Jayson Gauthier, of Quebec provincial police, said the boy, who cannot be identified under Canadian law because of his young age, appeared in court this morning and would spend the night in custody awaiting his bail hearing while authorities sifted through his computer. "We are looking for files and any means of going through with what he was saying," Gauthier said. A 23-year-old man and a 12-year-old girl accused in a triple murder in Medicine Hat, Alberta, earlier this year also had profiles on vampirefreaks.com. Gauthier said police got a tip on the internet posting from the public. "We will act swiftly to crack down on these individuals," he said, noting a number of people had posted comments supportive of Gill on the web site. Seven injured students, all suffering from bullet wounds, remained at Montreal General Hospital, where four have been discharged since the shooting. Meanwhile the Canadian Parliament opened a new session in Ottawa observing a moment of silence for the victims of the shooting. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Karzai visits Canada to shore up support for mission By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Thursday, September 21, 2006 OTTAWA - Afghan President Hamid Karzai came to Canada on Thursday to thank its people for their military sacrifice in Afghanistan and try to convince skeptics about the need to stay involved in his country as opposition to the mission mounts among the Canadian public. Canada has lost 36 of its approximatively 2,300 troops in Afghanistan, including four during a recent suicide attack, leading to calls for military withdrawal from the left-wing New Democratic Party and other parliamentarians opposed to the country's most important combat operation since the Korean war. Karzai is aware of the growing controversy over the mission and will argue that Canadian involvement is making his country better, said Omar Samad, Afghanistan's ambassador to Ottawa. In recognition of Canada's military sacrifices in his country, Karzai will meet with the families of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan and lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in addition to meeting Prime Minister Stephen Harper for the first time since Harper visited Kabul in March. Karzai will address parliament on Friday. On Thursday Prime Minister Stephen Harper staunchly defended Canada's mission in Afghanistan during a speech at the United Nations in which he appealed for more help, stressing the future of the U.N. depended on success there. "The success of this mission, in providing both security and development, is vital to the safety, livelihood and very future of the Afghan people but it is also vital to the health and future of this organization," Harper said. "If we fail the Afghan people, we will be failing ourselves. For this is the United Nations strongest mission and, therefore, our greatest test. Our collective will and credibility are being judged. We cannot afford to fail. We will succeed." Earlier this week Harper was steadfast Canada would stay in the country as long as it takes to achieve success, committing a new military contingent in the process. Some saw it as the strongest indication yet that Canada's troops may be there past its current 2009 commitment. "The exit strategy is success. There will be no other conditions under which this government will leave Afghanistan," Harper said. As the new Canadian parliamentary session opened, opposition leaders called for an emergency debate on foreign policy and New Democratic leader Jack Layton suggested the government is merely copying U.S. policy "on the fly" with regard to the mission in Afghanistan. In recent polls Canadians have expressed a growing dissatisfaction with the mission. This week only 38 percent of respondents to an Ekos poll supported military participation in Afghanistan, down 24 points since December 2001. Harper says the polls only reflects Canadian concern over mounting casualties and not opposition to the military mission and should not keep Canada from staying the course. "Canada is in there, absolutely, for the right reasons," he stressed. Karzai will go to Montreal on Saturday to participate in a round-table meeting with non-governmental organizations. Karzai, who addressed the U.N. in New York on Wednesday, is scheduled to return to the U.S. to visit the White House on Sept. 26, one day before President George W. Bush and the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan meet to discuss regional security. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Karzai thanks Canada for sacrifices in his country By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Thursday, September 22, 2006 OTTAWA - Afghan President Hamid Karzai thanked Canada for its military sacrifice in Afghanistan in a speech to Parliament on Friday noting improvements in his country but hoping for an extended commitment to defend against the resurgence of terrorism. Addressing a joint meeting of the houses of Parliament, Karzai recognized the Canadian casualties in his country but said they were helping Afghanistan rebuild. "We admire your determination to help Afghanistan at times with the dearest sacrifice that mankind can offer, the life of your soldiers," Karzai said, specifically addressing the families of fallen soldiers. "Yes, It is sad but it is worth it." Karzai was in Ottawa to shore up support for military assistance in his country at a time of renewed attacks by Taliban insurgents and slumping support for the war in Canada. Canada has lost 36 of its approximatively 2,300 troops in Afghanistan, including four during a recent suicide attack, leading to calls by opposition politicians for military withdrawal. Karzai said international help was effectively helping the country rebuild, but also warned of the dangers of forgetting Afghanistan, stressing that its abandonment in the past had helped al-Qaida set up its bases in the country and plan the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 in New York City and on the Pentagon. Afghanistan is no longer isolated as Sept. 11 has shown, Karzai said during a press conference after the speech, making the need to confront militants more imperative. "If we do not defeat them wherever they are, Afghanistan or any part of the world, they can choose to strike us at their timing, at the place of their choice," he said. Karzai said Afghanistan had seen many improvements in the last five years, including the return of refugees, elections, a constitution and a gradual rebuilding of its institutions, but said a resurgence of militants fueled by the growth of the production of opium poppies required a long-term commitment. "We want to have a country as good as yours and a parliament as good as yours but we will not have that unless we have destroyed poppies. I hope you will have the patience to bear with us for that long, perhaps 5 to 10 years," he appealed. That would extend Canada's mission beyond 2011, the year Canada's current humanitarian commitment ends but two years after its current military commitment ends. Harper said in a press conference following the speech that Canada would have to evaluate Afghanistan's needs in time and did not reject the possibility of an extended commitment. "I don't anticipate that we will leave but I certainly anticipate our role to change particularly as we achieve one of our objectives which is to insure that the Afghans themselves, the Afghan forces, are increasingly able to take care of their own security, Harper said. "Our men and women in uniform have shed their blood in a cause we all believe in," Harper said. "Canada does not leave other countries before our work is done. Karzai pleaded against opposition arguments for a withdrawal of Canadian troops in Afghanistan. Karzai blamed the insurgency in Afghanistan on militants coming from across its borders, an indirect reference to Afghanistan's neighbor, Pakistan, after a week in which the leaders of both countries had been accusing each other of not doing enough to crack down on extremists. "Unfortunately it was in those countries beyond our borders where (terrorists) were reorganized, trained, financed and provided with ideological motivation," he said. Violence continued in Afghanistan on Friday when a bus of construction workers was ambushed by militants, killing 19 of them. In recent polls Canadians have expressed a growing dissatisfaction with the mission but this week Harper said they only reflect Canadian concern over mounting casualties and not opposition to the military mission and should not keep Canada from staying the course. Karzai will meet with the families of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan and lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Karzai, who addressed the United Nations in New York on Wednesday, is scheduled to return to the United States to visit the White House on Sept. 26, one day before U.S. President George W. Bush and the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan meet in three-way session to discuss regional security. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Chirac: Bin Laden Intel not confirmed The Associated Press Saturday, September 23, 2006 A leaked French intelligence document raises the possibility Osama bin Laden died of typhoid, but President Jacques Chirac said Saturday the report was "in no way whatsoever confirmed" and officials from Kabul to Washington expressed skepticism about its accuracy. There have been numerous reports over the years that bin Laden had been killed or that he was dangerously ill, but the al-Qaida leader has periodically released audiotapes appealing to followers and commenting on current news events. The regional French newspaper l'Est Republicain printed what it described as a copy of a confidential document from the DGSE intelligence service citing an uncorroborated report from a "usually reliable source" who said Saudi secret services were convinced that bin Laden had died. The document, dated Thursday, was sent to Chirac and other top French officials, the newspaper said. "This information is in no way whatsoever confirmed," Chirac said when asked about the document. "I have no comment." Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry offered no details. "I've heard the reports, but I have no information at all. I have no idea," spokesman Mansour al-Turki told The Associated Press. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she had "no comment and no knowledge" about the report, while presidential spokesman Blair Jones said the White House could not confirm the report's accuracy. But two U.S. intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said U.S. agencies had no information to suggest bin Laden was dead or dying. A senior official in Afghanistan's Foreign Ministry said he was very skeptical of the document, noting past false reports of the death of bin Laden. He declined to let his name be used because he was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly. Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Tasnim Aslam, called the information "speculative," saying his government had no information on bin Laden. Many people suspect bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders are hiding in the Pakistani mountains along the border with Afghanistan. Among previous reports, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said during the U.S.-led offensive that toppled Afghanistan's Taliban regime in late 2001 that he was "reasonably sure" bin Laden had been killed by U.S. bombing raids on the Tora Bora caves. Bin Laden also was rumored to have kidney problems, but a physician detained by Pakistan on suspicion he was treating top Taliban and al-Qaida militants told AP in December 2002 that the al-Qaida leader was in excellent health when the physician saw him a year earlier. The Washington-based IntelCenter, which monitors terrorism communications, said it was not aware of reports on the Internet speculating about bin Laden and a life-threatening illness. "We've seen nothing from any al-Qaida messaging or other indicators that would point to the death of Osama bin Laden," IntelCenter director Ben N. Venzke told AP. Al-Qaida would likely release information of bin Laden's death fairly quickly if it were true, said Venzke, whose organization also provides counterterrorism intelligence services for the U.S. government. "They would want to release that to sort of control the way that it unfolds. If they wait too long, they could lose the initiative on it," he said. IntelCenter said the last time it could be sure bin Laden was alive was June 29, when al-Qaida released an audiotaped eulogy for al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed by a U.S. air strike in Iraq earlier that month. Chirac spoke at a news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Compiegne, France, where the leaders were meeting. Putin suggested leaks can be ways to manipulate. "When there are leaks ... one can say that (they) were done especially," he said. Chirac said he was "a bit surprised" at the leak and had asked Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie to investigate how the document was published. The document from DGSE, or Direction Generale de la Securite Exterieure, indicated the information came from a single source. "The chief of al-Qaida was a victim of a severe typhoid crisis while in Pakistan on August 23, 2006," the document said. His geographic isolation meant medical assistance was impossible, the French report said, adding that his lower limbs were allegedly paralyzed. According to the document, Saudi security services were pursuing further details, notably the place of bin Laden's burial. When asked about the report during an appearance in Montreal, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that if proven true, it would be "good news" for the entire world. -------------------------------------------- Associated Press writers Katherine Shrader and Deb Riechmann in Washington, Anne Gearan in New York, Lauren Frayer in Cairo, Egypt, and Phil Couvrette in Montreal contributed to this story. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Karzai comments on reports of bin Laden's possible death By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Saturday, September 23, 2006 MONTREAL - If proven true, reports of Osama bin Laden's death are "good news" for the entire world, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Saturday. "If it's true of course it's very important news for all of us. That would mean that the mastermind of al-Qaida, the head of al-Qaida, that brought so much misery to people all over the world would have been taken away," Karzai told reporters before an address to Montreal's international relations council. "Let's just see if it's true or not," he said. A leaked French intelligence document raised the possibility Saturday that Osama bin Laden may have died of typhoid in Pakistan last month, but the report has not been confirmed. During his address Karzai paid homage to four Canadians soldiers recently killed in his country, saying that their sacrifice had to be honored by completing their mission. "For that sacrifice we must make sure that the Canadian mission in Afghanistan, together with the rest of the world, succeeds," he said. "We still have a journey to make to complete what we began after 2001," Karzai said. Canada's international cooperation minister said C$12 million (US10.7 million; 7.5 million) in additional aid would be given to Afghanistan's national microcredit program, which provides loans and financial services to the country's poor. Karzai also met with New Democratic party leader Jack Layton, who has been openly critical of Canada's military mission in Afghanistan. Layton said that while they disagreed on the need to pursue military operations they came to the conclusion that any long-term solution to the problems in Afghanistan would be political and not military, and should include Pakistan. "We need to put pressure on the international community as well as on players, including Pakistan, to move into a new pattern toward a discussion for political solution," Layton said. "We believe this war-fighting mission in the south is no way to go." Layton said Karzai was hopeful that upcoming trilateral meetings with Pakistan in Washington next week would produce results, and that a larger international forum should be considered if they fail. Karzai, who addressed the United Nations in New York on Wednesday, is ending a three-day visit to Canada and is scheduled to return to the United States to meet with President George W. Bush and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to discuss regional security. In a speech to the Canadian parliament Friday, Karzai indirectly blamed Pakistan for letting the country's militant insurgency spill across the borders into Afghanistan. But while the two countries have accused each other of not doing enough to crack down on extremism, they maintain a good dialogue, according to Karzai's spokesman on international affairs. As recently as a few weeks ago Pakistan and Afghanistan had productive "frank" discussions about the problem, Khaleeq Ahmad told The Associated Press. "Terrorism will be on the agenda," he said of the Washington meeting. "What we are saying is that we should not fight the results of terror, but the sources of terror," Ahmad said. "We have to cut it at the roots." Outside the downtown hotel where Karzai was speaking, about 35 anti-war protesters demonstrated and at least one person was arrested. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Canadian overpass falls; deaths feared By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Saturday, September 30, 2006 LAVAL, Quebec - An overpass near Montreal collapsed Saturday, crushing two cars whose occupants were feared dead, authorities said. At least five people were injured. Drivers on Highway 19 slammed on their brakes and watched in horror as the overpass slowly collapsed, sending cars plunging and crushing at least two vehicles. Quebec provincial police did not confirm any deaths but spokeswoman Chantal Mackels said police believed it was unlikely that anyone in the two crushed cars survived. "We watched the overpass slowly come down and two cars fell from it," witness Golda Simon told TVA network. Manon Joly had just dropped her daughter off at dance school and was in her car about to drive onto Highway 19. "I slowed down and then all of a sudden everything collapsed like a house of cards," she said. "There were three or four cars that plunged into the hole right in front of me." Ambulances transported five people. Three were in critical condition including two suffering from head injuries. Emergency workers had not yet reached people trapped under the wreckage, said Andre Champagne of ambulance service Urgence-Sante. The workers were trying to secure the site before attending to those trapped, he told The Associated Press. "We know minutes are precious," Champagne said. "It takes a long time. These are heavy structures that have to be moved." Mackels said three lanes of the overpass plus a pedestrian sidewalk collapsed onto Highway 19. She said four vehicles - a motorcycle, two cars and a minivan - were on the overpass at the time The incident occurred before 1 p.m. One witness told TVA he noticed that the road sunk an inch or two when he traveled over the overpass minutes earlier and he called emergency dispatchers. Jean-Nicolas Turcotte, who lives near the overpass, was woken up by the collapse. "I was sleeping when the large crash woke me up. At first I thought it was an earthquake or an accident. I looked out the window and heard people screaming," Turcotte said. "And I saw large puffs of smoke rising." Claude Canton was painting his house just off the highway when he heard a loud bang. He said he saw two cars that were stuck under rubble and one started to catch fire before police put it out with extinguishers. Aerial helicopter shots showed two passenger cars and a van on their backs or on the sides over the wreckage of the collapsed overpass, blocking traffic for miles. Authorities closed the bridge further down connecting Laval with the island on Montreal. The incident was similar to the 2000 collapse of an overpass, also on the island of Laval north of Montreal, which killed one and injured two. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 5 die in overpass collapse near Montreal By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Sunday, October 1, 2006 LAVAL, Quebec - Quebec provincial police said Sunday that at least five people were crushed to death in their cars after the collapse of an overpass near Montreal. The cars were pulled out about 15 hours after Saturday's dramatic lunchtime accident when a 65-foot stretch of three lanes of a viaduct collapsed, sending several other vehicles crashing onto Highway 19 below. Firefighters and other workers had to use cranes and other heavy machinery to painstakingly break up the concrete into as many as 18 huge slabs, including a pedestrian sidewalk. Three people were found in one car and two other bodies were recovered from the other car trapped by the falling concrete in Laval, police spokeswoman Isabelle Gendron said. The vehicles were crushed so badly in the Saturday afternoon collapse that they barely reached the knees of one firefighter when lifted from under tons of concrete rubble Sunday. "At this point the rescue operation is completed," Gendron said, noting that no other vehicles were trapped beneath the concrete. Drivers on Highway 19 in the Greater Montreal Area slammed on their brakes and watched in horror as the overpass slowly collapsed shortly before 1 p.m. Police said six people were injured, including two who were listed in critical condition, when a minivan and a motorcycle plunged off the overpass. Doctors at Sacre-Coeur Hospital in Montreal said some of those injured had improved overnight but gave no further details. One of the injured was counting his blessings the day after the collapse. Robert Hotte was driving over the viaduct when the road in front of him began to disappear. "I was wondering what the ... what is happening," he told The Canadian Press. "As we went down with the bridge, my first words were to say `Anne-Marie,' the name of my girlfriend. We went down, falling with the bridge. It was all dark." The vehicle crashed into the debris below, landing on the passenger side window. They crawled out a window, waiting for a few minutes in a police car for an ambulance to arrive and take them to hospital. Hotte suffered some minor injuries and was released after X-rays. His girlfriend remained in the hospital in stable condition on Sunday, but she had some internal bleeding, Hotte said. One witness told TVA television network that he noticed that the road sunk an inch or two when he traveled over the overpass minutes earlier, so he called emergency dispatchers. Transport Quebec spokeswoman Josee Seguin said the overpass was built in 1970, while Laval Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt said it had passed an inspection test last year. Seguin said the department heard about an hour before the accident that some pieces of concrete were falling off the overpass. She added that Transport Quebec then issued an advisory to traffic reporters to mention the debris. A Transport Quebec inspector was sent to the site about 30 minutes before the tragedy but the overpass remained open. "It is a viaduct that had never, until now, shown any signs of weakness," Vaillancourt said. "It wasn't on the list of viaducts and bridges that needed to be repaired or replaced." It was the second serious overpass collapse in Laval in the last six years. In 2000, a man died when a section of overpass that had been under construction for six months collapsed and eight 70-ton beams fell on the car he was riding in. A coroner's report later concluded a construction company didn't properly secure the concrete beams, and accused the province's construction industry of shoddy work and questionable corporate practices. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Quebec to probe deadly overpass collapse By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Sun Oct 1, 8:42 PM ET LAVAL, Quebec - Quebec's government said Sunday it would launch a public inquiry to determine why an overpass collapsed north of Montreal, crushing five people to death. Visiting the accident site Sunday, Quebec Premier Jean Charest gave his condolences to the families of the victims and said an inquiry by a former provincial leader would seek to shed light on the disaster. "We don't know how this happened," Charest said. "The initial info we have leads us not to be able to understand how the bridge fell. We're going to want to find out how this happened and why this happened." There appeared to have been some advance warning signs of trouble with the overpass in Laval before Saturday's collapse, which also injured six people. One witness told TVA television network that he noticed the road had sunk an inch or two when he drove on the overpass minutes before the collapse and he called emergency dispatchers. Transport Quebec, the province's transportation ministry, also heard about an hour before the accident that some pieces of concrete were falling off the overpass, said spokeswoman Josee Seguin. She said Transport Quebec then issued an advisory to traffic reporters on the debris and an inspector from the agency was sent to the site, but it remained open. Not long after that, a 65-foot stretch of the viaduct collapsed, sending several vehicles crashing onto Highway 19 below. "It is a viaduct that had never, until now, shown any signs of weakness," said Laval Mayor Gilles Vaillancourt. "It wasn't on the list of viaducts and bridges that needed to be repaired or replaced." Seguin said the overpass was built in 1970. Vaillancourt said it had passed an inspection test last year. The crushed cars were pulled out about 15 hours after Saturday's lunchtime accident. Firefighters and other workers had to use cranes and other heavy machinery to break up the concrete into as many as 18 huge slabs to remove it. Vehicles were crushed so badly they barely reached the knees of one firefighter when lifted from under tons of concrete rubble Sunday. Three people were found in one car and two bodies were recovered from another, police spokeswoman Isabelle Gendron said. Police said six people were injured, including two who were listed in critical condition, when a minivan and a motorcycle plunged off the overpass. Robert Hotte, one of the injured, was driving over the viaduct when the road in front of him began to disappear. "I was wondering ... what is happening," he said. "As we went down with the bridge, my first words were to say 'Anne-Marie,' the name of my girlfriend. We went down, falling with the bridge. It was all dark." The vehicle crashed into the debris below, landing on its passenger-side window. He and his girlfriend crawled out a window and were taken to the hospital. Hotte suffered minor injuries and was released. His girlfriend remained in the hospital in stable condition on Sunday with some internal bleeding, he said. It was the second serious overpass collapse in Laval in the last six years. In 2000, a man died when a section of overpass that had been under construction for six months collapsed and eight 70-ton beams fell on the car he was riding in. A coroner's report later concluded a construction company didn't properly secure the concrete beams, and accused the province's construction industry of shoddy work and questionable corporate practices. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Students barricaded in Montreal school By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Wednesday Oct. 4, 2006 MONTREAL Students were brought inside and barricaded in the school gym after some of them said they saw an armed man in a nearby park, but the incident was a false alarm, Montreal police and school board officials said. Police rushed to Les-Enfants-Du-Monde primary school after receiving the call at midday and established a perimeter but determined that there was no threat to the West-end public school of some 400 students from 5 to 12 years old. "The operation near a school, with a man who was possibly armed, is over," police spokeswoman Anie Lemieux said shortly after 2 p.m. (1800 GMT). "No suspect was found." The incident occurred three weeks to the day after an armed man entered Montreal's Dawson College, killing one woman and injuring 19 people before taking his own life. It also follows a series of U.S. school shootings. A gunman killed himself and five girls Monday at a one-room Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania; on Friday a 15-year-old Wisconsin student shot and killed his principal; and last Wednesday a man took six girls hostage in Colorado, sexually assaulting them before fatally shooting one girl and killing himself. "The children were never in danger or in contact with the individual," said Sylvain Arsenault of the Montreal school board. "We called the parents to tell them to pick up their children; we didn't want them to take any chances on the way home." Arsenault said police quickly arrived on the scene, while the school board's trauma team was also called in just to be safe. "We have to be prudent without bordering on paranoia," he said, referring to other recent school incidents. Police across Quebec investigated over half a dozen threats against Quebec schools in the days following the shooting at Dawson College. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Microcreditors gear up for massive gathering By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Thursday Nov. 9, 2006 Organizers of the upcoming Microcredit Summit, whose members are seeking to assist the world's poorest people by providing small loans, said Thursday that their efforts could lift more than half a billion people out of extreme poverty in less than a decade. Speaking in Ottawa ahead of a four-day summit in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which gets under way Sunday, Microcredit Campaign Summit director Sam Daley-Harris said the ambitious goals of the conference would require "renewed efforts and new players." The Summit has already drawn Bangladeshi economist Dr. Muhammad Yunus, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize on Oct. 13; Queen Sofia of Spain; the prime minister of Pakistan and other heads of states, as well as large philanthropic groups such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Organizers will launch a new goal to help 175 million families get small loans by the end of 2015, which they believe could impact some 875 million people. The microcredit scheme of offering small loans to poor people who have no collateral was launched by Yunus in Bangladesh some 30 years ago, when he founded the Grameen Bank. It gave out loans, mostly $200 (156) and mostly to women, to buy a cow or cellular phone. Those women went on to sell the milk or telephone calls, feed their families and send their kids to school. Now there are some 3,100 institutions worldwide giving microcredit loans. Daley-Harris said the Nobel Prize has helped the program gain much-needed attention. The Campaign's progress from 1997-2005 went by largely unnoticed," Daley-Harris told a news conference in Ottawa. "Now, with the announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize, we are asking the world to not only take notice, but also take action." The Microcredit Summit Campaign, launched in 1997, is determined to help 175 million people living on less than $1 a day get small loans by the end of 2015, despite previously falling short of reaching its initial goal 100 million people by the end of 2005. The campaign still provided loans to about 82 million people. An estimated 1 billion of the planet's people still live on less than a dollar a day; another 3 billion are believed to subsist on $2 a day, or half the world's population. Yunus will open the summit Sunday by addressing some 2,000 delegates from more than 100 countries to review their efforts and launch the next round of goals for the campaign. Micro-bankers, some with as many as 6 million loans out this year, will deliberate with global commercial bankers from Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, ING Bank, Scotia Bank and many others. _____ On the Net: Microcredit Campaign Summit: http://www.microcreditsummit.org -------------- Microcredits part of mainstream, Nobel Prize winner says By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Sunday Nov. 12, 2006 HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) - Critics of microcredit have been proven wrong, as the revolutionary banking system goes mainstream and continues to lift millions of people out of poverty, Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus told the opening of global conference Sunday. Yunus and his Grameen Bank, which he founded in his native South Asian country more than three decades ago, shared the Nobel Peace Prize a month ago. "We were not taken very seriously, we were ridiculed, but today we can celebrate," Yunus told a jubilant crowd in his first North American address since winning the award on Oct. 13. Members of the Washington-based Microcredit Summit Campaign have gathered to discuss their new goal of reaching 175 million people living on less than $1 with small loans by 2015. Though it fell short of its previous goal of 100 million people by the end of 2005 - reaching 82 million people instead - its proponents believe the Nobel will further their cause. The four-day summit, which runs through Wednesday, brings together 2,000 delegates from more than 100 countries, including Queen Sofia of Spain, the president of Honduras and the prime ministers of Pakistan and Sri Lanka. (more) ---------------------------------------------------------- Suspected Spy due in Canadian Court By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Thursday, November 16, 2006 · 7:37 p.m. PT Canada will try to deport an alleged spy, authorities said Thursday, after he was arrested in Montreal this week and called a potential threat to national security. The man was taken into custody by the Canada Border Services Agency on Tuesday, said Melisa Leclerc, a spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day. A copy of the security certificate, obtained by The Associated Press, said a man alleging to be Paul William Hampel, "a foreign national," had been detained, but it gave no details about his nationality or the accusations against him. CTV reported that the suspect is possibly from Russia, posing as a Canadian citizen, but federal officials would not confirm that. Under Canada's Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the man is suspected of "engaging in an act of espionage or an act of subversion against a democratic government, institution or process as they are understood in Canada," the certificate said. The Federal Court of Canada said the man would appear in a Montreal courtroom Wednesday to review the allegations against him. It is the first time in a decade that a security certificate has been filed in an espionage case. In 1996, two Russian spies were deported from Canada. Leclerc said more information would become available as the legal process unfolds in Federal Court. "There's not much I can say, because it's before the court," she told The Canadian Press. Barbara Campion of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, told the AP that the security certificate - which allows authorities to detain suspects who pose a threat to national security without formal charge or trial - was released by the Federal Court on Wednesday. She said she could not comment further, but added that the man was "believed to be a spy." Under federal immigration law, the government may use a certificate to deport a non-citizen suspected of being a risk to Canadian security. Critics, however, argue the certificate system is unconstitutional because the person named does not have full access to the evidence against him. The Supreme Court of Canada is about to rule on a challenge to the certificate regime and whether it's constitutional. The certificates have become a flashpoint in Canada's fight against terrorism, drawing criticism from human rights activists and lawyers. Five Arab Muslim men have been detained under the certificates since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States. The certificates have now been used in 28 cases, almost all involving terrorism or espionage, since 1991. Dmitriy Olshevsky and Yelena Olshevskaya, who went by the bogus names Ian and Laurie Lambert, made headlines in 1996 when they were arrested and promptly removed from Canada. Friends and co-workers were stunned to learn the pair were actually "sleeper" agents for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR, the successor to the KGB. Two Russian diplomats kicked out of Canada in 2002 were military attaches at the Russian Embassy in Ottawa, suspected by many of being involved in espionage. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- LeMond Urges criminal sanctions against dopers By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Mon Nov 20, 8:10 PM MONTREAL (AP) - Three-time Tour de France champion Greg LeMond wants athletes who cheat by using banned drugs to face criminal charges for defrauding the public and their sponsors. LeMond also told the World Anti-Doping Agency that athletes who confess or come forward with information that could undo doping networks should receive more lenient punishment, balancing the benefit of people coming clean with the need to penalize cheaters. "I believe in severe penalties, possibly even life bans. But you can't penalize everybody, or no one will come forward," said LeMond, adding that athletes who co-operate should get a second chance, but under a probationary period of intense scrutiny. The American cyclist made the remarks Monday as a guest of WADA's Foundation board, at a time when the doping agency is considering tougher sanctions for athletes found guilty of doping. As WADA reviews its global anti-doping code, which sets out common rules and sanctions for all sports, the International Association of Athletics Federations has proposed doubling the standard penalty for a doping violation from a two-year to four-year suspension. Athletes want strong sanctions, WADA executive committee and athlete committee member Rania Elwani reminded the board. "Athletes are responsible to make sure they get nothing wrong in their system," she said. LeMond said doping was one of the reasons he left the sport "with a bad taste in my mouth." At the time, he assumed his declining rankings were a result of his failure to compete or train sufficiently. Now, he believes the development of drug programs - EPO in particular - were responsible. "EPO was used to transform decent athletes into super-athletes," he said. In other business Monday, WADA unanimously elected Jean-Francois Lamour as its new vice-president, one year before Dick Pound is expected to step down as the leader of the agency. Lamour, nominated by European ministers last month, was the only candidate and is in a leading position to replace Pound. "One of my priorities is to look at our ability to reinforce the battle against the trafficking of doping products," Lamour said. The board also approved a US$23 million budget for 2007, an increase of three per cent over this year. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Canada says it's arrested Russian Spy By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Nov. 21, 2006, 4:24PM MONTREAL - A man arrested on espionage charges is an elite Russian spy who had been collecting intelligence on Canada for more than a decade, Canadian authorities said in court documents released Tuesday. The man identified as Paul William Hampel was taken into custody by the Canada Border Services agency on Nov. 14 and accused of being a foreign spy deemed threatening to Canadian security. Revealing details in documents filed in Federal Court in Montreal, Canadian Security Intelligence Service officials said they believed Hampel is a member of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR, a successor to the KGB. The officials said Hampel used a fraudulent birth certificate to obtain at least three Canadian passports and recommended that he immediately be deported. He was to appear in court on Wednesday. Hampel's attorney, Stephane Handfield, said his client would seek a delay in the deportation proceedings because he only received the summary of the evidence against him on Tuesday. Handfield also complained that Hampel had problems contacting his lawyers last week. He said he met with Hampel on Sunday, but would not say where he is being detained. "I didn't talk to him last week because it was impossible for him to communicate with his lawyers," he told The Canadian Press. The documents detailed items allegedly found by authorities on Hampel after he was detained at Pierre Elliot Trudeau Airport, including a fraudulent Ontario birth certificate in a travel pouch under his shirt, $6,810 in five currencies, three cell phones, two digital cameras and a short wave radio. "Hampel's establishment of a legend based on Canadian documentation has provided him with the ability to covertly further the interests of the SVR for over a decade both within Canada and abroad," the federal summary reads, accusing him of being "an elite intelligence officer." The documents were filed on behalf of CSIS, Canada's intelligence arm. Calls to the Russian Embassy in Ottawa and the SVR in Moscow were not immediately returned. Dmitriy Olshevsky and Yelena Olshevskaya, who went by the bogus names Ian and Laurie Lambert, made headlines in 1996 when they were arrested and promptly removed from Canada. Friends and co-workers were stunned to learn the pair were actually "sleeper" agents for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 90 alleged organized crime figures arrested in Montreal By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Wed. Nov. 22, 2006 MONTREAL: Police arrested some 90 suspected mobsters early Wednesday, including the father of a man who allegedly killed members of the Bonanno crime family in New York, dealing what they described as a major blow to organized crime. Dubbed Project Coliseum, in a reference to the ancient Roman landmark, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said 700 police officers in Montreal conducted early morning raids to round up suspects, calling it "one of the most important police operations in the history of Canada." The national police force said more than 1,300 charges were expected to be brought against the suspects, including attempted murder, drug dealing, gangsterism, extortion, bookmaking and possession of restricted weapons. "We believe we've pierced Italian organized crime," Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cpl. Luc Bessette said, adding that the project began two years ago. "When we talk about organized crime, we do so knowing that many in this country don't believe it impacts their daily lives or is even present in their communities," RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli said. "By sowing the seeds of greed, corruption and violence, organized crime directly harms individuals, communities and society at large." The RCMP, Montreal police and Quebec provincial police took part in the raids. Among those arrested was 82-year-old Nicolo Rizzuto, the father of Vito Rizzuto, who was deported to the United States earlier this year to face charges related to the murder of three members of the reputed Bonanno crime family in New York. Also arrested were Francesco Arcadi, Francesco Del Balso, Paolo Renda, Rocco Sollecito and other associates. The RCMP alleges the men are part of an organized crime family whose primary activity was to import and export drugs, operate an online bookmaking business, extortion and murder. "This major international investigation ... highlighted the group's criminal activity and revealed the many tentacles of traditional Italian-based organized crime," the RCMP said in a statement. The RCMP investigators said the group had infiltrated Montreal's international airport and that a customs officer and a dozen current and former employees were involved in a scheme to import 1,300 kilograms (2,866 pounds) of cocaine by container. The police said the first 300 kilograms (660 pounds) in the first shipment was seized. The RCMP said assets of some of those charged were seized, including houses and bank accounts. More than C$3.1 million (US $2.7 million; 2.1 million) and US $255,200 (198,045) were seized in the course of the investigation. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Canada claims man arrested works for Russian intelligence By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Wed. Nov. 22, 2006 MONTREAL: The case of a man accused of being an elite Russian spy gathering intelligence in Canada for more than a decade was put off until next week after a judge agreed Wednesday that the accused had not had enough time to consult with his lawyers. The suspect was taken into custody by the Canada Border Services Agency on Nov. 14 after authorities said a man identified as Paul William Hampel was in fact a foreign national suspected of engaging in acts of espionage that threatened Canadian security. In documents filed in Federal Court in Montreal on Tuesday, CSIS officials said they believe Hampel is a member of the Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR, a successor to the KGB. Hampel appeared in court Wednesday morning, but the federal judge put the hearing off until next Tuesday so that he would have more time to consult with lawyers. A spokeswoman for the SVR in Moscow declined to comment on the case and calls to the media liaison at the Russian Embassy in Ottawa were not returned. Hampel is believed to have collected intelligence on Canada for more than a decade, authorities said in the documents filed on Tuesday. They claim he used a fraudulent birth certificate to obtain three Canadian passports and recommended that he be deported. "Hampel's establishment of a legend based on Canadian documentation has provided him with the ability to covertly further the interests of the SVR for over a decade both within Canada and abroad," the federal summary reads. The documents said when Hampel was detained and searched by authorities at Pierre Elliot Trudeau Airport on Nov. 14, they found his fraudulent Ontario birth certificate in a travel pouch under his shirt; C$7,800 (US$6,810; 5,300) in five currencies; three cellular phones; five sim cards (several of which were password protected); two digital cameras and a short wave radio. Details of his three Canadian passport applications in 1995, 2000 and 2002 were included in the documents. Though most of the contents were blacked out, the first two applications claimed that Hampel was a lifeguard and travel consultant. "An SVR illegal is an elite Russian intelligence officer," said the documents filed on behalf of CSIS, Canada's intelligence arm. "Illegals are secretly deployed abroad, operate covertly under assumed names and life stories and masquerade as citizens of target countries." The last time Russian spies were captured and booted from Canada was in 1996, when Dmitriy Olshevsky and Yelena Olshevskaya, who went by the bogus names Ian and Laurie Lambert. Friends and colleagues were stunned to learn the pair were actually "sleeper" agents for the SVR. -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Police continue to arrest Montreal crime figures By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Thur. Nov. 23, 2006 MONTREAL: Canadian police were rounding up suspects for a second day in what they called one of the most important police operations in the country's history which involved 90 members of organized crime, four of them living in the U.S., authorities said Thursday. Since early Wednesday morning Project Coliseum has been sending some 700 police officers conducting raids in Quebec and two other provinces, looking to arrest 90 suspected mobsters, including the father of a man who allegedly killed members of the Bonanno crime family in New York, dealing what they described as a major blow to organized crime. Police said some 56 of the suspects had already appeared in court while the names of twelve others still on the loose were posted on the web site of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The Mounties said more than 1,300 charges were expected to be brought against the suspects, including attempted murder, drug dealing, gangsterism, extortion, bookmaking and possession of restricted weapons. Among the figureheads arrested was 82-year-old Nicolo Rizzuto, the father of Vito Rizzuto, who was deported to the United States earlier this year to face charges related to the murder of three members of the reputed Bonanno crime family in New York. Also arrested were Francesco Arcadi, Francesco Del Balso, Paolo Renda, Rocco Sollecito and other associates. The RCMP alleges the men are part of an organized crime family whose primary activity was to import and export drugs, operate an online bookmaking business, extortion and murder. Police said it disrupted the import of cocaine from the Caribbean and South America as well as a cannabis route from Canada into the U.S. using a Native reserve as a transit location so that the drugs could be moved to Florida. Twenty-four individuals were answering charges related to that scheme involving the Akwesasne Mohawk reserve straddling the U.S.-Canada border. Charges faced by the suspects include attempts to import drugs from countries such as Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, one shipment of 300kg (660 pounds) of cocaine having been seized in a container first loaded onto a truck in Newark, New Jersey. "In most large-scale investigations here in Canada, especially those targeting organized crime, we're always working with the various agencies in the U.S. whether it's Homeland Security, the FBI or DEA, we're always working in partnership," said RCMP inspector Michel Aubin. "The investigation has shown they had external contacts," Aubin said of the suspects. "These contacts are under investigation." Aubin said most of the 90 suspects are Canadian but noted "there are four individuals that live in the states for which arrest warrants have been issued here in Canada." RCMP investigators said some suspects had infiltrated Montreal's international airport and that a customs officer and a dozen current and former employees were involved in a scheme to import 1,300 kilograms (2,866 pounds) of cocaine by container. More than $2.7 million in assets were also frozen and $255,200 in U.S. currency were seized in the course of the investigation. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Man accused of being Russian spy faces deportation By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Dec 04 2006, 20:55 MONTREAL (AP) - A lawyer representing a man accused of being a Russian spy told a judge Monday that his client had acknowledged using a false Canadian passport, was in fact a Russian citizen and would no longer fight deportation. The federal judge accepted the surprise confession and said the man who called himself Paul William Hampel would now be deported. Judge Pierre Blais, however, declined to reveal the true identity of the man, saying it could harm his family or health. Only last week, Hampel's lawyer, Stephane Handfield, insisted Hampel was a Canadian citizen, was innocent of any allegations against him and would fight to remain in Canada. The Russian ambassador also denied that Hampel was a spy, saying that type of Cold War espionage was over. But Handfield told reporters outside the courtroom that the man called Hampel realized he had no witnesses or proof of Canadian citizenship, so he decided to give up his effort to fight deportation. "After discussions with our client these last few days, he decided to admit that he wasn't Paul William Hampel," Handfield said, adding that the man also acknowledged he was in Canada illegally, was Russian, and "wanted to return to his country of citizenship." Handfield would not answer questions about Hampel's alleged intelligence activities, and said his client expected to be deported quickly. "He fears for his safety and that of his family everywhere," Handfield said, declining to give Hampel's true name or discuss whether he was engaged in espionage. The Canada Border Services Agency took Hampel into custody on Nov. 14 after finding he was carrying a fraudulent Ontario birth certificate under his shirt. According to documents filed in Federal Court in Montreal, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service believes Hampel is a member of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR, a successor to the Soviet-era KGB. Officials had asked for his immediate deportation, suspecting him of acts of espionage that threatened Canadian security. When Hampel was detained and searched at Pierre Elliot Trudeau Airport, he had $6,810 in five currencies; three cellular phones; five sim cards for cellular phones (several of them password protected); two digital cameras and a shortwave radio, according to CSIS documents. An official with the Office of the Registrar General of Ontario told a hearing last week that there was no birth or death certificate for a Paul William Hampel and that the registration number Hampel used on his birth certificate had been assigned to another person who is alive. Hampel's three Canadian passport applications in 1995, 2000 and 2002 showed he had claimed to be a lifeguard and a travel consultant. A self-published book of landscape photography called "My Beautiful Balkans" showed he had traveled widely in the region. On his Web site promoting the book, Hampel calls himself an emerging markets analyst. The Web site shows new photo postings on Nov. 11 from Serbia and Macedonia. Cases involving alleged Russian spies are rare in Canada. The last case was in 1996, when Dmitriy Olshevsky and Yelena Olshevskaya, who went under the names of Ian and Laurie Lambert, were arrested and promptly deported. Friends and co-workers were stunned to learn the pair were actually "sleeper" agents for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Gainey family thanks rescuers By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer 12.12.06, 7:37 PM ET MONTREAL - The family of Canadian hockey great Bob Gainey on Tuesday thanked supportive fans and all those who helped search for his daughter, who has been missing since a huge wave swept her overboard a ship in the Atlantic. Laura Gainey was on the deck of the 180-foot tall ship Picton Castle on Friday night when the wave hit the ship. She was wearing protective clothing but no lifejacket at the time. The U.S. Coast Guard called off the search for Gainey, 25, on Monday night. In their first comments since the incident 475 miles off Cape Cod, the Montreal Canadiens general manager and his three other children thanked "all the people who have been involved in the search for our darling Laura." "Their extensive efforts and their tremendous support throughout this ordeal will never be forgotten," the family said in a statement released by the Montreal Canadiens. "We would particularly like to thank the United States Coast Guard and the Canadian Forces' Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Halifax for their extraordinary efforts. "We are also very grateful to the entire crew of the Picton Castle and the merchant ships that graciously volunteered their time and resources." Less than two weeks ago, the tall ship set sail from Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, for a six-month tour that would take it to the Caribbean. Gainey was a member of the crew, with responsibility for certain watches and instruction of volunteer trainees. U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard aircraft had scoured the ocean for Gainey using infrared night-vision technology to continue searches at night. While the water temperature was found to be a relatively warm 68 degrees in that part of the mid-Atlantic, and Gainey was a strong swimmer, the Coast Guard called off the search Monday evening as it was unlikely she could have survived 70 hours in the water. On Tuesday, the Picton Castle, which had also been actively searching along with two merchant ships, also announced it was ending its search. "The time has now come to end the search and allow our crew to carry on with the voyage southward towards calmer, safer waters," captain Daniel Moreland said. "They are tired, grief-stricken for their shipmate and heartsick for the Gainey family." Gainey has taken a leave of absence from the team. A moment of silence will be held when the Canadiens face Boston in Montreal on Tuesday night. A member of the hockey Hall of Fame, Gainey won five Stanley Cups with Montreal during a 16-year career as a forward from 1973-89. He also won a championship as general manager of the Dallas Stars in 1999. His wife, Cathy, died of brain cancer in 1995 at 39. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ UN aviation agency reports world traffic up 5 percent By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer December 21, 2006 MONTREAL: World airline traffic grew by about 5 percent in 2006, with the Middle East and Asia leading the way while North America, Europe and Latin America were below the world average, the U.N. civil aviation agency reported Thursday. Preliminary traffic figures by the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) reported that the total number of passengers grew by about 4 percent to 2.1 billion this year, while traffic in terms of passenger miles increased by about 5 percent. The figures mark a continuation of traffic growth after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States and a slowing world economy hurt airline traffic in 2001 and 2002. The Middle East was expected to keep leading the pack due to strong regional economies and sustained growth, while the Asia-Pacific region saw domestic routes showing strong growth in both capacity and traffic figures. North American airlines, meanwhile, have had to adjust their strategies on international routes, focusing on longer routes, while dealing with stiff competition domestically "to respond to low-cost competition." "Growth for airlines in North America, Europe and Latin America were below the world average, mainly due to a more measured deployment of capacity, some route rationalization and changes in the route mix introduced by carriers of the North American and European regions," the ICAO said in a news release. The average passenger load was up to almost 76 percent from around 75 percent last year on both international and domestic routes. Freight traffic was also up 3 percent over last year, with freight tons carried on scheduled services worldwide growing to around 39 million tons (35.5 million metric tons). -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Jailed Olympic gold medallist Bedard arrives in Canada By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer January 4, 2007 MONTREAL: After spending Christmas and New Year's in jail, Olympic gold medalist Myriam Bedard boarded a plane in the United States on Thursday and arrived in Canada, where she will face parental child abduction charges. Bedard flew home to Quebec City, Quebec on a Royal Canadian Mounted Police jet in police custody and will spend the night at a detention center before her bail hearing Friday. Bedard's American attorney, Kevin McCants, said Bedard's attorneys expected her to be released from custody Friday on the condition that she not leave Canada. Bedard was arrested Dec. 22 and is being held on a warrant as an international fugitive for allegedly violating a child custody order by bringing her 12-year-old daughter to the United States. U.S. marshals found her and the girl, Maude, at a hotel in a suburb between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. A judge in Canada signed an order on the day of Bedard's arrest that granted sole custody of her daughter to her ex-husband, Jean Paquet, McCants said he learned Thursday. He said Bedard was not aware of the order. "We're working on getting it thrown out," McCants said. The 37-year-old Bedard won two gold medals in the biathlon competition at the 199Lillehammer Olympics in Norway. An attorney from her Canadian lawyer's office read Bedard her rights in a phone conversation with the plane. Isabelle Charles says she informed Bedard, who was hoping to be freed right away, that she would have to remain in jail one more night. "There was a bit of disappointment but she knows she doesn't have a choice," Charles said. McCants said Bedard had come to the U.S. with her daughter and common-law husband, Nima Mazhari, to talk to U.S. officials about a scandal involving a Canadian government sponsorship program in Quebec between 1996 and 2004. Bedard testified in 2004 in Canada that she had been forced to quit a job at Via Rail in 2002 after raising concerns about the company's dealings with an advertiser. "This is just a punishment because of what happened with the political scandal. That's what she told me," McCants said. She faces up to 10 years in prison for child abduction. Paquet alleged she had taken their daughter from Quebec City without his permission. Mazhari has had his own legal problems. He was charged in 2005 with theft and possession of about 20 stolen paintings worth $100,000 (76,300). __ AP Writer Ben Nuckols contributed to this story from Baltimore. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Olympian Bedard out on bail By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer January 5, 2007, 3:06 PM CST MONTREAL - Former Olympic biathlon champion Myriam Bedard was given bail Friday on a charge of breaching a custodial order involving her 12-year-old daughter. Bedard's appearance in a Quebec City courtroom came a day after she returned home following nearly two weeks in jail in the United States. She was given bail with conditions that include supervised visits with her daughter, remaining in Quebec and surrendering her passport and appearing once a week at a designated Montreal police station. "I'm very happy to be out, I can't wait to see my daughter," the two-time gold-medalist told a crush of reporters waiting outside the courthouse. Her attorney John Pepper Jr. considered the ruling "most reasonable" ahead of a jury trial that will begin with a preliminary hearing on April 2. Bedard's lawyers contend she did not breach a custody agreement when she took her daughter to the United States on Oct. 3. Bedard, who was denied bail by a U.S. judge shortly after her arrest in Maryland, waived her right to an extradition hearing. The two countries agreed last Friday for her return to Quebec to face the criminal charges. The 37-year-old Bedard won two gold medals in the biathlon competition at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. She faces up to 10 years in prison for child abduction. Her ex-husband alleged she had taken their daughter from Quebec City without his permission. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Canadian authorities investigating terror threat By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer January 19, 2007 MONTREAL: Canadian authorities said Friday they were investigating terrorist threats against Montreal's anglophone community by a group claiming links to militant Quebec separatists who kidnapped and murdered a Quebec minister in the 1970s. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said it was investigating the source of a statement signed by a group which claimed to be a cell of the Quebec Liberation Front (FLQ) and threatened to attack public buildings in the city's largely English-speaking west end. "Is it a hoax, is it someone who wants to pass as an FLQ cell? This remains to be determined, but we are taking this very seriously," said Luc Bessette of the RCMP. "Our entire national security team is working on this and the investigation will be handled as quickly as possible." In 1970, the shadowy militant FLQ demanded "total independence" from Canada. Its members kidnapped and killed Quebec's labor minister and later abducted, then freed, a British diplomat. The subsequent "October Crisis" was considered one of the darkest periods in modern Canadian history. Canadian troops patrolled the streets of Quebec and jailed alleged FLQ sympathizers, most of whom were later found innocent of having any FLQ ties. Since then, the separatist Parti Quebecois has gained seats in the provincial assembly, but twice failed to win referendums calling for independence of the French-speaking province. The political party has never advocated violence in its struggle for sovereignty. In the statement dated Jan. 15, the purported cell of the militant group warns that attacks would target anglophone municipalities with the intention of causing "maximum impact" between Feb. 15 and March 15, using booby-trapped parcels and remote-control devices. "It's possible there will be injuries and deaths," warns the document obtained by The Associated Press. Municipalities in Quebec that renounce their bilingual status before Feb. 15 and promote the French language would be spared, the document contends. Immigrants who don't learn French and businesses that don't conform to Quebec laws that call for the prominent display of French on their business signs were also threatened. The group said it would target shopping malls, bridges, rail lines, airport facilities, water supplies, municipal buildings and service stations. Copies of the statement were sent to the mayor of the Montreal suburb of Beaconsfield, as well as Quebec Premier Jean Charest and French President Jacques Chirac. The same group issued a first warning of attack last November, referring to the same date. On Feb. 15, 1839, five members of the French-Canadian Patriotes, who were rebels against British colonial authority, were hanged. The author claimed French-speaking Quebecois were "systematically ridiculed by a local anglophone majority who scorn the French language and the rights of francophones" and subject them to "Anglo-Saxon imperialism." The November statement launched an investigation by the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, which includes Montreal and provincial police, the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. While the Quebec separatist movement has not displayed the militancy of the 1970s in recent years, polls indicate the movement is far from dead, with support for Quebec's independence hovering between 40 to 45 percent. A motion passed by the House of Commons in Parliament last fall stated that the people of Quebec form a nation within a united Canada, in an attempt to address the identity debate. ------------------------------------------------------------------------- World's oldest woman dies By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer January 19, 2007 MONTREAL: Julie Winnifred Bertrand, believed to be the world's oldest woman at 115, died in her sleep at the Montreal nursing home where she had lived for the last 35 years, an official at the home said Friday. Bertrand, born Sept. 16, 1891, in the Quebec town of Coaticook, passed away early Thursday morning, according to Nicole Ouellet. Her nephew Andre Bertrand told The Gazette in Montreal that she died peacefully in her sleep. "She just stopped breathing," said Bertrand, 73. "That's a nice way to go." Bertrand became the world's oldest woman last month, after the death of Elizabeth Bolden, a Tennessee woman born on Aug. 15, 1890, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. The designation set off a publicity storm of sorts. Bertrand's niece, Elaine Sauciere, said the fame her aunt acquired late in life was really quite "unbelievable." "This little woman sold clothes at a department store in Coaticook," said Sauciere, 70. A British film crew had just requested an interview with Bertrand for a documentary on people who live long lives. The work also features Emiliano Mercado del Toro of Puerto Rico, the world's oldest person, who was 26 days older than Bertrand. Andre Bertrand said his aunt never had a problem saying no - and did so to dozens of journalists, filmmakers and medical researchers keen on discovering her secret to long life. "She was tough, feisty and self-sufficient," Bertrand said of his aunt. The eldest of six children of harness maker Napoleon Bertrand and his wife, Julia Mullins, Bertrand never married. She had her suitors, Sauciere said, adding it's difficult to say how close she may have been to Louis St. Laurent, a young lawyer from Compton who went on to become prime minister. "She was friends with his sister and I think she was sweet on him, but how serious it was, I don't know," Sauciere told the Gazette. Bertrand worked as a buyer for the F.X. Lajoie department store in Coaticook, a mill town in the Eastern Townships close to the Quebec-U.S. border, according to the Gazette. For the past 35 years, her home had been a small room at Residences Berthiaume de Tremblay, a long-term care facility overlooking the Riviere des Prairies. Until 10 years ago, Bertrand enjoyed full health and a quiet life, punctuated by the home's social events, picnics, sing-alongs and her annual birthday party. A private family service will be held at the nursing home. Years ago, Bertrand purchased a burial plot at the Catholic cemetery in Coaticook. ------------------------------------------------------------- Internet hate site owner gets six months in jail By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer January 24, 2007 MONTREAL: Human rights advocates said Wednesday a judge was too lenient when he sentenced a man to six months in jail for the willful promotion of hatred on the Internet. Quebec Court Judge Martin Vauclair on Tuesday called Jean-Sebastien Presseault "vile" and "nauseating" for building and managing a Web site promoting the genocide of blacks and Jews and featuring racist and anti-Semitic songs and games. Presseault's Web site, which was created on a U.S. server, has since been removed. Presseault, 30, had just finished serving another stint in jail for threatening a judge. The ruling disappointed prosecutor Thierry Nadon, who had sought a one-year term to dissuade others from fomenting hatred. "It's too lenient, with good behavior it can be reduced to a sixth of his sentence," said Moise Moghrabi of B'Nai Brith's League of Human Rights, a Jewish group. "Hatemongers find that (the Internet) is a fantastic tool to spread hatred and blanket the world." Presseault is the second Canadian to go to jail for espousing hatred on the Internet. An Alberta judge handed a 16-month sentence to a man in September in what was called a groundbreaking Internet hate-crime case. Presseault's Web site praised Timothy McVeigh's 1995 bombing in Oklahoma City, Adolph Hitler and the Ku Klux Klan, and featured racist games and photos as well as "hate music" that police said has been downloaded more than 300,000 times. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Muslim woman chooses head scarf over job By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Fri March 16, 2007 MONTREAL: Muslim rights groups were angry Friday that a young Muslim woman was forced to quit her job at a prison after she refused to remove her religious headscarf. Asked to choose between the scarf and a new training program at Montreal's Bordeaux jail, Sondos Abdelatif, 19, chose to wear her hijab and walked away from the job on Tuesday. The incident has upset Muslim groups and fueled debate in predominantly Roman Catholic Quebec over reasonable accommodation for its religious and cultural minorities. Abdelatif, whose family said she was in school and could not be reached for comment Friday, quit the program after she was told that a hostile prisoner could use her hijab to strangle her. While rules at the institution make no mention of hijabs - a scarf that covers the hair and neck - they do stipulate that a guard's hair must be tied back and that they cannot wear ties. Quebec's Public Security Department and the labor union representing prison guards supported the decision. "As a security measure, the hijab cannot be accepted as an element of the uniform to execute the functions of a correctional officer," said public security department spokesman Real Roussy. The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations called the firing "entirely unnecessary" and pointed out that the Canadian Armed Forces and police departments in other Canadian cities allow women to wear the headscarf on active duty. "If it really was a security issue, they would have sat down with Sondos and would have said, 'Look, we're really worried about your safety and we need to talk about what we can do to address this or we'll fire you,'" said CCAIR spokeswoman Sarah Elgazzar. "But she was given an ultimatum: 'You either take it off or you're fired.'" While the Armed Forces require a special head scarf, others working in police forces wear them bandana-style, Elgazzar said, adding that Abdelatif had been willing to do that. The debate over how Muslims are treated in Quebec has been making headlines. Last month, an 11-year-old Muslim girl from Ontario participating in a soccer tournament in Quebec was pulled off the field after she refused the referee's request to remove her scarf. The Quebec Soccer Federation backed the decision by stressing it had been made in accordance with rules that forbid wearing anything that could cause harm during a game. The flap became international when the issue of the hijab was raised at an International Football Association board meeting and Egypt later accused Canada of intolerance. In January, the small rural town of Herouxville in central Quebec drew international attention when it adopted a declaration of "norms" that advise immigrants how to fit in, including a ban on face coverings other than on the Halloween holiday. ---------------------------------------------------------------- Muslim face veil banned in Quebec vote By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Fri March 23, 2007 MONTREAL - Muslim women will have to remove their face coverings if they want to vote in Monday's elections in Quebec, a government official said Friday, reversing his earlier decision to allow the veils. Marcel Blanchet, the French-speaking province's election chief, had been criticized by Quebec's three main political leaders for allowing voters to wear the niqab, which covers the entire face except for the eyes, if they signed a sworn statement and showed identification when they vote. But Blanchet reversed his earlier decision Friday, saying it was necessary to avoid disruptions when residents go to the polls. "Relevant articles to electoral laws were modified to add the following: any person showing up at a polling station must be uncovered to exercise the right to vote," he said. Blanchet had to get two bodyguards after the Quebec elections office received threatening phone calls and e-mails following his initial decision to allow niqabs. He said Friday some residents had threatened to protest by showing up to vote wearing masks. The reversal was condemned by Muslims groups who said it could turn their members away from the polls. "I am so saddened, I doubt many of these women will show up at the polls on Monday after all this mockery," said Sarah Elgazzar of the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations. Many European countries are also grappling with the issue of Muslim veils. In Britain, former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw caused a stir last year when he said he wanted Muslim women to abandon the full-face veil, while a Muslim teaching assistant in northern England was suspended from her job for refusing to remove one. France passed a law in 2004 banning Islamic head scarves in schools, and the Netherlands has announced plans for one banning full-length veils in public places. Germany also has a law banning teachers in public schools from wearing head scarves. Last week in Quebec, a young Muslim woman was forced to quit her job at a prison after she refused to remove her headscarf. The public security department supported the decision, citing security concerns, but Muslim groups pointed out that the Canadian Armed Forces allow women to wear headscarves on active duty. Last month, an 11-year-old Muslim girl from Ontario participating in a soccer tournament in Quebec was pulled from the field after she refused the referee's request to remove her headscarf. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Global warming melts the Arctic triggering race for riches The Associated Press Fri March 23, 2007 HAMMERFEST, Norway (AP) _ Barren and uninhabited, Hans Island is very hard to find on a map. Yet these days the Frisbee-shaped rock in the Arctic is much in demand _ so much so that Canada and Denmark have both staked their claim to it with flags and warships. The reason: an international race for oil, fish, diamonds and shipping routes, accelerated by the impact of global warming on Earth's frozen north. The latest report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says the ice cap is warming faster than the rest of the planet and ice is receding, partly due to greenhouse gases. It's a catastrophic scenario for the Arctic ecosystem, for polar bears and other wildlife, and for Inuit populations whose ancient cultures depend on frozen waters. But some see a lucrative silver lining of riches waiting to be snatched from the deep, and the prospect of timesaving sea lanes that could transform the shipping industry the way the Suez Canal did in the 19th century. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates the Arctic has as much as 25 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and gas. Moscow reportedly sees the potential of minerals in its slice of the Arctic sector approaching US$2 trillion (euro1.5 trillion). All this has pushed governments and businesses into a scramble for sovereignty over these suddenly priceless seas. Regardless of climate change, oil and gas exploration in the Arctic is moving full speed ahead. State-controlled Norwegian oil company Statoil ASA plans to start tapping gas from its offshore Snoehvit field in December, the first in the Barents Sea. It uses advanced equipment on the ocean floor, remote-controlled from the Norwegian oil boom town of Hammerfest through a 90-mile (145-kilometer) undersea cable. Alan Murray, an analyst with the energy consultants Wood Mackenzie, said most petroleum companies are now focusing research and exploration on the far north. Russia is developing the vast Shkotman natural gas field off its Arctic coast, and Norwegians hope their advanced technology will find a place there. ``Oil will bring a big geopolitical focus. It is a driving force in the Arctic,'' said Arvid Jensen, a consultant in Hammerfest who advises companies that hope to hitch their economic wagons to the northern rush. It could open the North Pole region to easy navigation for five months a year, according to the latest Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, an intergovernmental group. That could cut sailing time from Germany to Alaska by 60 percent, going through Russia's Arctic instead of the Panama Canal. Or the Northwest Passage could open through the channels of Canada's Arctic islands and shorten the voyage from Europe to the Far East. And that's where Hans Island, at the entrance to the Northwest Passage, starts to matter. The half-square-mile (1.3-square-kilometer) rock, just one-seventh the size of New York's Central Park, is wedged between Canada's Ellesmere Island and Danish-ruled Greenland, and for more than 20 years has been a subject of unusually bitter exchanges between the two NATO allies. In 1984, Denmark's minister for Greenland affairs, Tom Hoeyem, caused a stir when he flew in on a chartered helicopter, raised a Danish flag on the island, buried a bottle of brandy at the base of the flagpole and left a note saying: ``Welcome to the Danish island.'' The dispute erupted again two years ago when Canadian Defense Minister Bill Graham set foot on the rock while Canadian troops hoisted the Maple Leaf flag. Denmark sent a letter of protest to Ottawa, while Canadians and Danes took out competing Google ads, each proclaiming sovereignty over the rock 680 miles (1,100 kilometers) south of the North Pole. Some Canadians even called for a boycott of Danish pastries. Although both countries have repeatedly sent warships to the island to make their presence felt, there's no risk of a shooting war _ both sides are resolved to settle the problem peacefully. But the prospect of a warmer planet opening up the icy waters has helped push the issue up the agenda. ``We all realize that because of global warming it will suddenly be an area that will become more accessible,'' said Peter Taksoe-Jensen, head of the Danish Foreign Ministry's legal department. Shortcuts through Arctic waters are no longer the stuff of science fiction. In August 2005, the Akademik Fyodorov of Russia was the first ship to reach the North Pole without icebreaker help. The Norwegian shipyard Aker Yards is building innovative vessels that sail forward in clear waters, and then turn around to plow with their sterns through heavier ice. Global warming is also bringing an unexpected bonus to American transportation company OmniTrax Inc., which a decade ago bought the small underutilized Northwest Passage port of Churchill, Manitoba, for a token fee of 10 Canadian dollars (about US$8;euro6). The company, which is private, won't say how much money it is making in Churchill, but it was estimated to have moved more than 500,000 tons of grain through the port in 2007. Managing director Michael Ogborn said climate change was not something the company thought about in 1997. ``But over the last 10 years we saw a lengthening of the season, which appears to be related to global warming,'' Ogborn said. ``We see the trend continuing.'' Just a few years ago, reports said it would take 100 years for the ice to melt, but recent studies say it could happen in 10-15 years, and the United States, Canada, Russia, Denmark and Norway have been rushing to stake their claims in the Arctic. Norway and Russia have issues in the Barents Sea; the U.S. and Russia in Beaufort Sea; the U.S. and Canada over rights to the Northwest Passage; and even Alaska and Canada's Yukon province over their offshore boundary. Canada, Russia and Denmark are seeking to claim waters all the way up to the North Pole, saying the seabed is part of their continental shelf under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Norway wants to extend its claims on the same basis, although not all the way to the pole. Canada says the Northwest Passage is its territory, a claim the United States hotly disputes, insisting the waters are neutral. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has pledged to put military icebreakers in the frigid waters ``to assert our sovereignty and take action to protect our territorial integrity.'' Politics aside, there are environmental concerns. Apart from the risk of oil spills, more vessels could carry alien organisms into the Northwest Passage, posing a risk to indigenous life forms. The Arctic melt has also been intensifying competition over dwindling fishing stocks. Fish stocks essential to some regions appear to be moving to colder waters, and thus into another country's fishing grounds. Russian and Norwegian fishermen already report catching salmon much farther north than is normal. ``It is potentially very dramatic for fish stocks. They could move toward the North Pole, which would make sovereignty very unclear,'' said Dag Vongraven, an environmental expert at the Norwegian Polar Institute. Russia contests Norway's claims to fish-rich waters around the Arctic Svalbard Islands, and has even sent warships there to underscore its discontent with the Norwegian Coast Guard boarding Russian trawlers there. ``Even though they say it is about fish, it is really about oil,'' said Jensen, the consultant in Hammerfest. In 2004, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the sovereignty issue ``a serious, competitive battle'' that ``will unfold more and more fiercely.'' With all the squabbling over ownership, Tristan Pearce, a research associate at the University of Guelph's Global Environmental Change Group in Canada, reminded Arctic nations of who got there first: indigenous peoples like the Inuits and the Sami. ``Everybody is talking about the potential for minerals, diamonds, oil and gas, but we mustn't forget that people live there, all the way across the Arctic,'' he said. ``They've always been there and they have a major role to play.'' ___ Associated Press reporters Beth Duff-Brown in Toronto, Phil Couvrette in Montreal, Mike Eckel in Moscow, Dan Joling in Anchorage, Alaska, and Karl Ritter in Stockholm, Sweden, contributed to this report. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Separatists in three-way vote to defeat federalist liberals By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Sun March 25, 2007 MONTREAL _ Quebecers decide the fate of Premier Jean Charest's Liberal government Monday in an extremely close three-way election that experts say could usher in a minority government, staving off another referendum in the French-speaking province on separation from Canada. Charest and his federalist Liberal party face tough challenges from Andre Boisclair of the separatist Parti Quebecois and Mario Dumont's conservative-oriented Action Democratique with polls showing the three parties in a dead heat and many voters still undecided. More than 5.6 million voters are registered for the election to fill the 125 seats in the National Assembly, the provincial legislature. A win by the separatists, who were removed from power in the previous election and vow to hold a vote on independence if elected, would be a blow to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who supported a motion recognizing the French-speaking people of Quebec as a nation within Canada last fall and whose recent budget was viewed as being particularly generous to Quebec. While separation has not been a major issue in the campaign, it is never far from the surface as support for independence usually hovers around 45 percent and Boisclair wants to hold a referendum as soon as possible if elected. But the idea of holding another referendum soon is unpopular and Boisclair's personal popularity lags behind that of Charest and Dumont, 36, whose party would seek to trim government and obtain more autonomy for Quebec within a united Canada. Dumont made his mark in the campaign early for speaking out against some accommodations for religious and cultural minorities living in predominantly Catholic Quebec. The issue took center stage on Friday when an electoral official ruled that Muslim women will have to remove their face coverings if they want to vote in Monday's election, reversing his earlier decision to allow the veils. Dumont's rise as a contender, after his party finished a distant third in the 2003 elections, has upset the usual duality of the political landscape that made the issue of Quebec sovereignty so predominant since the 1970s. A minority government would need the support of other parties to pass legislation because they would lack a majority in the National Assembly. Quebec has not seen such a government since 1878. "As far as we can remember we had a party system that was bipolar with two dominant parties that were trading majorities after two terms," says University of Montreal political scientist Pierre Martin. "This time not only do we see a sitting party on the verge of losing an election after just one term, but we also have a three-party situation. It's a brand new situation." A minority Parti Quebecois government would have to drop its main objective of holding a new referendum because it would require a majority vote in the National Assembly that the other parties would reject, Martin says. The Parti Quebecois held referendums on separation in 1980 and 1995, losing the second by a razor-thin margin. Charest, 48, says the PQ's independence ambitions leave it out of tune with average Quebecers. "It's a whole series of questions, quarrels, that are not the priority of Quebecers," he said. But to Charest's dismay Quebecers are particularly dissatisfied with his record for failing to keep promises of major tax cuts in the most heavily taxed province in the country. "The Liberal government of Jean Charest was not very popular so people are looking for a protest vote," said Antonia Maioni of McGill's Institute for the Study of Canada. Charest wants Quebecers to stop being among the most taxed citizens in North America, but his last-minute announcement of $700 million Canadian (US$603 million) in new tax cuts was criticized by Boisclair, who said that Quebecers would see through past broken promises and what he considered an attempt to buy their vote. He also accused Charest of being too cozy with Ottawa, something of a liability in Quebec. When the election was called on Feb. 21, Charest seemed to enjoy a comfortable lead in the polls but it has gradually eroded after weeks of lackluster campaigning. Still two major dailies, Montreal's La Presse and Gazette, backed the incumbent. The Liberals can traditionally count on strong support among English-speakers and immigrant communities. But this solid base of support comprises about 20 percent of the electorate, so Charest will also need the help of French-speakers, who make up 80 percent of the voters. --------------------------------------------------------------- Rwandan is first to stand trial in Canada under War Crimes Act By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Mon March 26, 2007 MONTREAL: A survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide told a hushed courtroom Monday how she repeatedly cheated death in a desperate attempt to escape Hutu militias, as the trial began for the first person charged under Canada's War Crimes Act. Desire Munyaneza, 40, faces two counts of genocide, two counts of crimes against humanity and three charges of war crimes under the seven-year-old act that allows Ottawa to try suspects within its borders for crimes that occured abroad. He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges. Munyaneza is accused of leading attacks on Tutsis at the National University of Rwanda and south of the capital, Kigali, during the 1994 genocide, in which more than half a million members of the Tutsi ethnic minority and politically moderate Hutus were slain. Prosecutor Pascale Ledoux told an overflowing Quebec Superior Court that Munyaneza had "the intention of destroying the Tutsi population in the context of an armed conflict." Canada denied Munyaneza, a Hutu, refugee status in September 2000 and he lost several appeals. An Immigration and Refugee Board panel also found there were reasons to believe he had participated in crimes against humanity. African Rights, a Rwandan group that has documented the genocide, linked Munyaneza to key figures indicted by the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal. Munyaneza was living in Toronto before he was arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in October 2005 after reports of his sightings started circulating among Canada's Rwandan community. Some 12 Rwandan witnesses are expected to testify against Munyaneza in the coming months. Their names have been kept secret, and the first woman to testify Monday sat behind a screen. Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian general who headed the multinational U.N. peacekeeping force during the genocide, is also expected to testify. Witness C-15 - a Tutsi woman born in 1977 who was going to school in Butare in 1994 - said she was one of two people to survive the slaughter of some 3,000 people at the school, having been left for dead on a pile of bodies after she was knocked out. In the following days, she sought refuge in a hospital. Beatings and killings continued inside the hospital, assisted by doctors, she said, forcing her to flee again. The witness said she was spared at one of the road blocks after telling militia members that while her mother was Tutsi, her father was a Hutu, but then watched a Tutsi slain on the spot. "These people did a lot of bad things," she said through a translator in a Rwandan dialect. She said "Desire" manned one of the road blocks and badly beat Tutsi refugees with a club before loading them on trucks. She did not, however, list him among the local leaders of the Hutu militia whom she recognized. Munyaneza, wearing a gray suit with a blue shirt, listened attentively and took notes. "It is very important for the truth to come out; anything that can accomplish that and render justice to the victims is," said Jean-Paul Nyilinkwaya, a spokesman for the Page-Rwanda Association, which supports survivors of the genocide. Though Munyaneza is the first to be prosecuted under the war crimes act, there are more than 70 active cases under investigation, according to the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Quebec faces new political landscape By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Mon March 26, 2007 MONTREAL (AP) - Quebec politics were thrown into turmoil Monday when Prime Minister Jean Charest's Liberals were only able to eke out a slight lead in elections, giving the French-speaking province its first minority government in nearly 130 years. The conservative Action Democratique surged into a surprising second place and official opposition party status, while the separatist Parti Quebecois lost seats and calmed fears by opponents that a renewed independence movement was gaining ground. The three-way race and the toss-up for second place left more than 5.6 million registered voters facing an uncertain political landscape. Charest's Liberals won or led in just more than one-third of Quebec's 125 seats in the National Assembly, the provincial parliament, a handful more than Action Democratique and the third-place Quebec separatist Parti Quebecois. The massive rise of Mario Dumont's Action Democratique was the story of the night. His rise as a contender, after his party finished a distant third in the 2003 elections, has upset the usual duality of the political landscape that made the issue of Quebec sovereignty so predominant since the 1970s. Charest was the first prime minister to fail to win a second majority mandate in 40 years. "Sure there's a little disappointment, but it's still a nice victory," retiree Andree Filiatrault said at Liberal Party headquarters in downtown Montreal. "We thought it was going to be easier, but we'll take it; we still won," said another Liberal Party member, Martin Liu. When asked how Quebecers would deal with their first minority government in more than a century, he said: "We'll have to negotiate. The people here have never seen a minority government." The result also left the Parti Quebecois and the provincial sovereignty movement with major questions. Under Andre Boisclair, the party fell to the lowest level of popular support in decades and the smallest number of seats since 1989. While separation has not been a major issue in the campaign, it is never far from the surface as support for independence usually hovers around 45%, and Boisclair had said he intended to hold a referendum as soon as possible if elected. But the idea of holding another referendum soon is unpopular, and the 40-year-old Boisclair's personal popularity lags behind that of Charest, 48, and 36-year-old Dumont, whose party sought to trim government and obtain more autonomy for Quebec within a united Canada. Dumont made his mark in the campaign early for speaking out against some accommodations for religious and cultural minorities living in predominantly Catholic Quebec. The issue took center stage on Friday when an electoral official ruled that Muslim women will have to remove their face coverings if they want to vote in Monday's election, reversing his earlier decision to allow the veils. "It's about a need for change; the Liberals have made too many unkept promises and I like what Dumont is saying about the need to reduce the size of government," Gerome Beaulieu, a 27-year-old school teacher, said just after voting for Action Democratique. "It's a bit of a protest vote." The new minority Liberal government will now need the support of other parties to pass legislation because they would lack a majority in the National Assembly. Quebec has not seen such a government since 1878. "As far as we can remember we had a party system that was bipolar with two dominant parties that were trading majorities after two terms," says University of Montreal political scientist Pierre Martin. "This time not only do we see a sitting party on the verge of losing an election after just one term, but we also have a three-party situation. It's a brand new situation." The minority Parti Quebecois government will now have to drop its main objective of holding a new referendum as that would have required a majority vote in the National Assembly. The Parti Quebecois held referendums on separation in 1980 and 1995, losing the second by a razor-thin margin. But to Charest's dismay, Quebecers are particularly dissatisfied with his record for failing to keep promises of major tax cuts in the most heavily taxed province in the country. "The Liberal government of Jean Charest was not very popular, so people are looking for a protest vote," said Antonia Maioni of McGill's Institute for the Study of Canada. Charest wants Quebecers to stop being among the most taxed citizens in North America, but his last-minute announcement of $700 million Canadian (US $603 million) in new tax cuts was criticized by Boisclair, who said Quebecers would see through past broken promises and what he considered an attempt to buy their vote. He also accused Charest of being too cozy with Ottawa, something of a liability in Quebec. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Girls won't remove hijab at sports event By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Sun April 15, 2007 MONTREAL - First soccer, then Tae Kwon Do. A team of mainly Muslim girls had to pull out of a Tae Kwon Do tournament Sunday because members refused to remove their hijabs. Tournament organizers told team officials the girls could not compete because the head scarves posed a safety risk. It is the second ban of hijabs in Quebec sports in recent months, part of a larger debate in the province about accommodations for cultural and religious minorities. International referee Stephane Menard said the decision was made at a referees' meeting earlier in the day. "The equipment that is allowed under the world Tae Kwon Do federation rules doesn't include the hijab," Menard said Sunday. "We applied the rules to the letter." In February, an 11-year-old Muslim girl from Ontario participating in a soccer tournament in Quebec was pulled from the field after she refused the referee's request to remove her head scarf. The move was supported by soccer associations, citing security concerns. The Tae Kwon Do team, made up of girls between eight and 12 years old, is affiliated with a Muslim community center in Montreal. Five of the team's six players wear a hijab but have been allowed to participate in similar tournaments around Quebec. The Muslim center's boys club pulled out of the tournament in an act of solidarity. "I'm very upset," said Bissan Mansour, one of the players. "We made so many efforts and practiced harder than usual to be here." Team coach Mahdi Sbeiti said he does not understand why his team is being barred now, especially since many of the referees were familiar. "On the international scene, many teams from Muslim countries wear the hijab and have never had such a problem," Sbeiti said. "I don't see why it should be a problem here and now." Sbeiti says his team has often been cited as an example of cultural integration but suspects the political atmosphere played a role in the decision. Quebec has been embroiled in a debate about accommodations for cultural and religious minorities. Ahead of provincial elections last month, government officials ruled that Muslim women had to remove their face coverings if they wanted to vote, to allow for proper identification. The Canadian Council of American-Islamic Relations said Sunday's decision will not encourage Muslim women to participate in sports. "With Azzy Mansour being kicked off a Quebec soccer field for wearing the hijab, and five girls today being ejected from the Longueuil tae kwan do tournament, it seems that Muslim women now have to make a choice between their faith and sport," said Sarah Elgazzar, CAIR-CAN spokeswoman. ---------------------------------------------------------------- Trial of accused Rwandan criminal delayed as he recovers By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Mon April 16, 2007 MONTREAL - A Rwandan man standing trial for war crimes for his alleged role in that country's 1994 genocide remains under medical watch and will be kept in isolation after having been beaten in his Canadian jail cell, a court heard Monday. Desire Munyaneza's trial was further postponed until Wednesday, one week after he was severely beaten by an inmate and taken to a hospital bleeding from his eyes and with head wounds. Munyaneza, 40, is the first person charged under Canada's War Crimes Act, which permits the trial of suspects for crimes that occurred abroad. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. During a court session that judge Andre Denis said was a break from the actual trial, the director of the detention center, Yves Ste-Marie, said he regretted the beating incident and that "extraordinary" measures were being used to protect Munyaneza, such as isolating him at all times in his cell block and during transportation to the courthouse. Munyaneza is accused of leading attacks on members of the Tutsi ethnic minority at the National University of Rwanda and south of the capital, Kigali. More than a half million Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were killed during the genocide. The proceedings were first halted last Thursday so Munyaneza could recover from his injuries. His latest checkup, completed this morning, reported him as being fit enough to stand trial, but his lawyers said Munyaneza could not see from one eye and had trouble concentrating. His lawyers, who have called the beating an embarrassment to Canada's justice system, said Munyaneza and his 17-year-old attacker are mutually pressing charges against each other over the incident. ------------------------------------- Montreal police learned from previous school shootings By Phil Couvrette Associated Press Writer Mon April 16, 2007 MONTREAL - When a lone gunman entered Dawson college in Montreal and began shooting last September, police counted on new procedures and a bit of luck to neutralize the assailant quickly. Kimveer Gill, 25, opened fire at the downtown Montreal college last September, slaying a young woman and wounding 19 other people before he turned the gun on himself as police cornered him. As luck would have it police officers on the scene for an unrelated matter were rapid first responders able to spot the suspect. But in a city which had seen two college shootings in the 17 previous years, police had also gained experience from the previous incidents to keep the situation from getting out of control. Montreal Police Chief Yvan Delorme said last September that precious lessons learned from other mass shootings had taught police to try to stop such assaults as quickly as possible. "Before our technique was to establish a perimeter around the place and wait for the SWAT team. Now the first police officers go right inside. The way they acted saved lives," he said. Montreal police refused to comment Monday about the tragic shooting at Virginia Tech, but as Americans try to make sense of the deadliest campus massacre in U.S. history which left at least 33 dead, including the gunman, questions have begun to emerge about the time allowed to elapse before authorities contained the shooting. In Canada the lessons were painfully learned from the Dec. 6, 1989 college shooting at Montreal's École Polytechnique, Canada's bloodiest, during which Marc Lépine entered a classroom at the engineering school, separated the men from the women, told the men to leave and opened fire, killing 14 women before killing himself. While shots rang out at École Polytechnique emergency personnel "had a perimeter outside and they waited. No one went inside," Delorme recalled last September. Another shooting in Montreal occurred in 1992, when a Concordia University professor killed four colleagues. By last September Montreal officers had changed their modus operandi and rushed into the building only a few minutes after the gunman. "This time it was very efficient, very proactive," Delorme then said. Aaron Cohen, a SWAT trainer based in California, said time is of the essence during such circumstances, as the quick intervention in Montreal eventually showed, avoiding a similar bloodbath. "While they wait another innocent person is dead. There's just no time to sit around," Cohen told Canada's CBC TV. "It has to be fast. On Monday a gunman opened fire in a Virginia Tech dorm and then, two hours later, shot up a classroom building across campus, killing 32 people in the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history. The gunman committed suicide, bringing the death toll to 33. Virginia Tech President Charles Steger said authorities believed that the shooting at the dorm was a domestic dispute and mistakenly thought the gunman had fled the campus. Emergency law considered in Quebec student protest THURSDAY, MAY 17, 2012 11:15 PM EDT BY PHIL COUVRETTE MONTREAL (AP) Facing the most sustained student protests in Canadian history, Quebecs provincial government introduced emergency legislation Thursday that would shut some universities and impose harsh fines on pickets blocking students from attending classes as the government looked to end three months of demonstrations against university tuition hikes. Hundreds of protesters gathered in downtown Montreal on Thursday night as the government introduced the bill. The protest spilled into an expressway between stalled cars. Police told them to clear the way or be arrested. Tuesday will mark 100 days since the demonstrations began. Wearing the familiar red color of the protest, demonstrators some wearing masks blew horns and called the provincial premiers name mockingly. They were closely watched by nearby patrol cars and police followed on foot in full riot gear. Authorities said 122 were arrested late Wednesday as thousands of demonstrators spilled into the streets of Montreal, with some smashing bank windows and hurling objects at police. Quebec Premier Jean Charest said the proposed legislation would not roll back the tuition hikes. Rather, it would temporarily halt the spring semester at faculties paralyzed by walkouts and push up the summer holidays. Classes would resume earlier in August. The legislation contains provisions for heavy fines for students and their federations. Fines range from $7,000 to $35,000 for a student leader and between $25,000 and $125,000 for unions or student federations if someone is prevented from entering an educational institution. The bill also lays out strict regulations governing student protests, including giving eight hours notice for protest itineraries. The Quebec national assembly is being convened Thursday evening for a debate expected to last through the night with a vote expected on Friday. Student reaction to the bill was damning. This legislation strikes a blow to the freedom of expression, said Leo Bureau-Blouin, considered one of the more moderate student leaders. Dozens of protesters on Wednesday stormed into a Montreal university, breaking up classes. Tensions continued Thursday in Gatineau, Quebec, the site of previous protests against the hike that resulted in hundreds of arrests, where three junior colleges were evacuated after a bomb threat. Courses resumed later in the day. The government has pointed out that a majority of students in Quebec have quietly finished their semester and arent striking. But many remain angry over the proposed tuition hikes. The three-month conflict has caused considerable social upheaval in the French speaking province known for having more contentious protests than elsewhere in Canada. There have been numerous injuries, countless traffic jams, a few smashed windows, subway evacuations, clashes with law enforcement and disruptions to the academic calendar. The protests have at times mushroomed beyond the cause of cheap tuition, attracting a wide swath of other participants who dislike the provincial Liberal government or represent a variety of disparate causes ranging from environmentalism, to Quebec independence and anarchy. Charest said he would table emergency legislation aimed at ending the disorder, while sticking to the planned tuition hikes. Charests re-election prospects have been placed further in doubt, raising the prospect that the pro-independence Parti Quebecois could gain power in an election expected later this year or next. Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois opposes any legislated crackdown on the protests and has been wearing the red square of the protest movement. Marie Desjardins, President of the Quebec Federation of the University of Students, called on Charest to sit down personally with students and negotiate. Biomedical student Sebastien Potvin, 30, wearing a red cowboy hat and holding a red banner, the color of the protest, said from a Montreal street corner that he fears the new law will only bring more violence. I dont think it will solve the problem, I think it will anger students twice as much, Potvin said. He said the coming tuition hikes could jeopardize his remaining studies. Under the latest version of its tuition plan, the government would increase fees by $254 per year over seven years. Quebec has the lowest tuition rates in Canada. The provincial government bought ads in Thursdays newspapers explaining how it has already made several adjustments to its tuition plans to soften the impact on the poorest students. The dispute has claimed the provinces education minister, who announced her resignation from politics earlier this week Antonia Maioni, a political science professor at Montreals McGill University, said while there were large student protests in the mid-1990s in Quebec over fee hikes, and then again in 2005, the current Quebec protests are notable for their longevity and the number of arrests. I dont think student protests have ever lasted for months like this before, she said. Those in favor of the tuition increases say they will improve the quality of universities, devolve more personal responsibility to students and ease the burden on taxpayers. Opponents argue higher fees will undercut universal access to education. In addition the city of Montreal will be looking into a bylaw that would regulate wearing masks during protests when council convenes on Friday. Officials say people wearing masks have been causing the most problems. A similar measure was being considered in Quebec City, where fewer protests have taken place. Rights groups have protested this limits their democratic right to demonstrate. With some degenerating into violence the U.S. consulate in Montreal issued an alert last month warning visitors and U.S. expats to be wary of demonstrations and exercise caution. ____ Associated Press Writers Sean Farrell, Rob Gillies and Charmaine Noronha contributed to this report. Quebec passes law in effort to end daily protests By PHIL COUVRETTE, Associated Press May 18, 2012 MONTREAL (AP) Quebec's provincial government passed an emergency law Friday restricting demonstrations and shutting some universities as the government seeks to end three months of protests against tuition hikes. Outraged students reacted by calling it an act of war. Among the controversial provisions of the law, which passed 68-48, is a requirement that police be informed eight hours before a protest and told the route of any demonstration that includes 50 or more people. Critics called that an affront to civil rights. Hours after the vote thousands of protesters marched in downtown Montreal to condemn the legislation, which students and supporters say limits their ability to demonstrate their disapproval of the fee hikes. "They pulled the plug instead of trying to develop something constructive through talks, " said participant Felix Siry, 22. "I think this will just make things worse." Police officers in riot gear, and others on horseback watched as the loud and energetic crowd made its way downtown, chanting "No special law will break us!" A number of molotov cocktails were tossed causing police to declare the demonstration illegal. Police used pepper spray and one man was arrested after the crowd got too close to cops. Some people threw objects at a small group of helmeted cops were forced to retreat. The angry crowd followed the retreating cops who then charged back firing tear gas. The crowd was much larger than the hundreds who gathered Thursday night as the government introduced the bill to quell the most sustained student protests in Canadian history. On Wednesday, protesters smashed windows and more than 120 people were arrested. Both police and protesters were injured. Earlier Friday, the city of Montreal passed an ordinance restricting protesters from wearing masks during demonstrations, levying fines between $500 and $3,000. The city also said demonstrators will have to provide details of their itineraries beforehand. Officials have said they believe protesters wearing masks have been causing the most trouble. A similar bylaw was under consideration in Quebec City. "Our cities can no longer become targets," Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay said. "It's time to reclaim our streets, our neighborhoods, our cities." Rights groups also have protested that bylaw, calling it a restriction on their democratic right to demonstrate. Quebec Premier Jean Charest said the provincial legislation would not roll back the tuition hikes of $254 per year over seven years. Rather, it would temporarily halt the spring semester at schools paralyzed by walkouts and push up the summer holidays. Classes would resume earlier in August. The law imposes harsh fines on protesters who block students from attending classes. Proposed fines range from $1,000 to $5,000 for a student, $7,000 to $35,000 for a student leader and between $25,000 and $125,000 for unions or student federations if someone is prevented from entering an educational institution. The Quebec Bar Association said it had serious concerns about the law and said the scale of the restraints on fundamental freedom wasn't justified. Opposition Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois called Friday "one of the darkest days of Quebec democracy," and said Charest should hold elections because of the unpopularity of the law. Martine Desjardins, one student leader, blamed the government for "letting the conflict deteriorate" and said it was seeking to "drown the conflict in the tribunals." Student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois called the law the "murder of the right to demonstrate." He said his group would challenge the law before the courts and called on protesters to take part in a march in great numbers next Tuesday, which will mark the 100th day of protests. But embattled Education Minister Michelle Courchesne said before the vote that despite the legislation, talks would go on and an agreement could still be reached with the students. "Even if there is a special legislation tonight, tomorrow, there can still be an agreement after the law," she said. She stressed that the law doesn't prevent students from protesting, and said she remained open to a dialogue with students. Some of the loudest cheers early on Friday were reserved for one man who stood on a garbage can and burned what looked like a copy of the government bill. The conflict has caused considerable social upheaval in the French-speaking province known for having more contentious protests than elsewhere in Canada and the country's the lowest tuition rates. The U.S. consulate in Montreal last month warned visitors and U.S. expatriates to be wary of demonstrations. Quebec protests gain high profile support May 20, 2012 MONTREAL (AP) Quebec's student protest movement gained some high-profile supporters in the fight against tuition fee increases over the weekend as anger mounted and demonstrations continued against a new law aimed at curbing the three months of demonstrations. Montreal police arrested more than 180 people on Sunday night. Quebec's provincial government passed an emergency law Friday restricting protests, including a requirement that police be informed eight hours before and told the route of any demonstration that includes 50 or more people. Demonstrations were held again Sunday, including a rowdy evening march, for the 27th night in a row. The new law has only served to fuel the student movement. The nightly demonstration was quickly declared illegal by police after it started at around 8:30 p.m. after objects were thrown at police, said Sgt. Ian Lafreniere early Monday. A first group of protesters was cornered and 110 people were arrested. As the demonstration continued, more arrests were made after demonstrators climbed on police and civilian vehicles, causing damage, he said. The previous night's protest also ended with dozens of arrests as police clashed with protesters. Student groups have panned the law and said they would challenge it in court and continue demonstrations. A major demonstration is scheduled Tuesday to mark the 100th day of protest. Montreal police said more than 200 demonstrations have taken place since the student movement began in February. More than 300 arrests have been made in the last week. The movement also gained celebrity support. Montreal indie rockers Arcade Fire wore the movement's iconic red squares during an appearance with Mick Jagger on Saturday Night Live. Twitter erupted with questions about the meaning of the fashion statement, while student backers praised the move. Activist and filmmaker Michael Moore also gave his support to the students, featuring links about the issue on his website. The conflict has caused considerable social upheaval in the French-speaking province known for having more contentious protests than elsewhere in Canada. Quebec Premier Jean Charest has refused to roll back the tuition hikes of $254 per year over seven years. Quebec has the lowest tuition rates in Canada, but even after such an 80 percent increase, it would remain among the lowest in the country. While the new legislation aimed at stopping the protests is unpopular among students and rights groups, a poll published the day after legislation was passed showed two-thirds of Quebecers supported it. The U.S. consulate in Montreal last month warned visitors and U.S. expatriates to be wary of demonstrations. Quebec students mark 100 days of tuition protests By PHIL COUVRETTE, Associated Press May 22, 2012 MONTREAL (AP) Tens of thousands of students marched through the streets of Montreal on Tuesday to mark 100 days since the movement against higher tuition fees began. The protest comes after Quebec's provincial government passed emergency legislation to end Canada's most sustained student demonstrations ever. Protesters carrying red banners and signs, the color of the demonstrations, walked in unison chanting "Our streets!" The protest during the day was peaceful, but at a smaller demonstration at night some protesters threw fireworks and beer bottles at police. Riot police responded with pepper spray and arrested at least one protester. Police declared the night protest illegal after no one provided an itinerary. Since the law was passed Friday, nightly protests have often turned violent, resulting in some 300 arrests Sunday alone. The new law requires that a detailed agenda be provided for protests of more than 50 people. Student groups have vowed to challenge the legislation in court. Rights groups say the new law limits protesters' ability to express themselves democratically. On the eve of Tuesday's protest, the most militant of three major student groups said it would defy the new law and call for protests and strikes to continue throughout the summer, a busy period of outdoor festivals in Montreal which draws in millions of dollars in tourist revenue. "Thousands of people have come to demonstrate with us, not only against the rise in tuition rates but with the intention to signal their disapproval of the special law," student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois said. "The gesture made by tens of thousands is one of massive and collective civil disobedience." At a news conference, Quebec Public Safety Minister Robert Dutil read from a list of cities with equally tough rules for organizing protests. Dutil listed Geneva, Toronto, New York, Los Angeles and Spain as jurisdictions that require far more than eight hours' notice up to 40 days, in the case of Los Angeles in order to hold a protest. "Other societies with rights and freedoms to protect have found it reasonable to impose certain constraints, first of all to protect protesters, and also to protect police," Dutil said. There were small demonstrations in support of the Quebec students in New York and Paris on Tuesday. Since the protests started in February, unions, separatists and anarchists have joined the movement, as well as some celebrities. Montreal indie rockers Arcade Fire wore the movement's iconic red squares during an appearance with Mick Jagger on the TV show "Saturday Night Live." Activist and filmmaker Michael Moore also gave his support to the students, sending tweets in French and English. Quebec Premier Jean Charest has refused to roll back the tuition hikes of C$254 (US$249) per year over seven years. Quebec has the lowest tuition rates in Canada, and they would remain among the country's lowest after the increases. The conflict has caused considerable social upheaval in the French-speaking province known for having more contentious protests than elsewhere in Canada. Retiree Claude Gravel, 61, said she was against the law seeking to calm down tensions after 100 days of protests. "I'm all for a few months of peace and quiet, but not at this price," she said. She said the tuition hikes would make educating her college student son hard on the family's limited finances. Quiet Revolution's old dreams fuel Quebec protests PHIL COUVRETTE, Associated Press, ROB GILLIES, Associated Press Updated 09:53 a.m., Saturday, May 26, 2012 MONTREAL (AP) Quebec's generous social services date back to sweeping reforms in the 1960s, a period of intense nationalism. Yet many Quebecers look back at the "Quiet Revolution" with regret over one unfulfilled promise: free higher education. That sentiment is fueling Canada's most sustained student demonstrations ever. It has been anything but quiet. Some 150,000 students in more than a dozen Quebec colleges and universities have been on strike since February to protest the provincial government's plan to raise tuition fees. Street protests in Montreal have ended in clashes with police and mass arrests. A strict new law designed to stop the demonstrations has only broadened the movement to include separatists and Occupy protesters, and triggered a wider debate over public freedoms. The students are threatening to persevere through the summer, just when the city traditionally awakens from its dark and frigid winter for jazz and comedy festivals that draw in millions of dollars in tourist revenue. The French-speaking province's average undergraduate tuition $2,519 a year is the lowest in Canada, and the proposed hike $254 per year over seven years is tiny by U.S. standards. But opponents consider the raise an affront to the philosophy of the 1960s reforms that set Quebec apart not only from its U.S. neighbor but from the rest of Canada. "The whole consensus around education was built around the Quiet Revolution," said Pierre Martin, a political science professor at the Universite de Montreal. "That consensus would tend toward a tuition-free model in the future. That was a promise." As a result, he said, Quebecers don't compare their tuition rates to those in the U.S. or English-speaking Canada, but to those in European countries where higher education is free. Quebec Premier Jean Charest, who has vowed to shake up the debt-ridden province's finances since he was elected nearly a decade ago, has refused to cave. More than 2,500 students have been arrested since the demonstrations began more than 100 days ago, including nearly 700 this past Wednesday alone. The total is five times the arrests during a period in the 1970s when soldiers were deployed to the streets in Quebec because of a spate of terrorism by a group demanding independence from Canada. The tuition hike is part of a broader effort to shift Quebec's fiscal burden away from taxpayers the province has some of the steepest personal income taxes in North America and the highest per-capita debt in Canada and onto the shoulders of each person who uses a service. "Every citizen has to do their part," Quebec Finance Minister Raymond Bachand told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "This is the 21st century." Bachand said the students want more money in their pocket to the detriment of others. He noted that the government has expanded student grants so that middle and lower income students can more easily afford the increase. "We're talking about 50 cents a day so basically it's moved from a question of tuition fees to a question of a social movement like you've seen in other parts of the world," Bachand said. "We're not used to this as Canadians. We're used to sitting down, disagreeing, negotiating and coming to an agreement." In an effort to restore peace, Charest's government passed emergency legislation on May 18 restricting protests and closing striking campuses until August. The law requires that police be informed eight hours before a protest begins, including details on the route of any demonstration of 50 or more people. It also prohibits demonstrations within 50 meters (165 feet) of a college and declares that anyone who incites or helps another person break the new protest regulations can be fined. The new law has "changed the discourse now and introduced a new element into the debate, and that is the question of rights," said Bruce Hicks, a political scientist at Concordia University. The students have challenged the law in court. Provincial Public Safety Minister Robert Dutil said Quebec cities are simply joining others that already have tough rules for organizing protests, including Los Angeles and New York. "Law 78" has inspired a particularly cacophonous form of protest: from 8 p.m. to 8:15 p.m., people around Quebec emerge onto sidewalks and balconies to bang pots and pans. Anne Claude, a 23-year-old computer student banging pots with a friend one evening in the heart of Montreal's Latin Quarter, said the law has only increased her resolve to be heard. "The new law limits our ability to demonstrate," Claude shouted over the noise. Across the street, pizza parlor owner Naeem Ahmed shook his head when he recalled the sight of an open fire hydrant gushing water into his business and a bonfire lit dangerously close by. Ahmed, 37, has had a front row seat to more than 30 straight nights of protests. Confrontations between helmeted police and students have scared customers away. Students sometimes seek shelter in his establishment to escape police sweeps. "For businesses it has been really, really horrible," Ahmed said, taking a break with some of his employees to look at cellphone footage of a recent protest. One of his employees joined the pot-bangers, clanging two trash lids together. "Police come and ask everybody to leave," he said. Still, he sympathizes with the students. "If you go to any country, when the students hit the streets, you have to listen to them," he said. "When they come out you have to accept it." The student groups and the government have announced their intention to return to negotiations in the next days, with Quebec Education Minister Michelle Courchesne saying she expects a "very, very important" session following positive discussions over the phone. But the two sides seem far apart. Student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois wants to propose a long-term plan that would essentially fulfill the promise of the Quiet Revolution: scrapping university tuition fees altogether within five years and funding that by increasing taxes on financial institutions. That is the opposite of what the government wants. "Sacred cows only exist in India," the finance minister has repeatedly said. Quebec Students, Government Resume Negotiations By PHIL COUVRETTE Associated Press OTTAWA, Ontario May 28, 2012 (AP) Quebec college and university students and the provincial government returned to the bargaining table on Monday in an attempt to put an end to a months- long dispute over tuition hikes that has led to clashes with police and mass arrests. Student leaders said Monday the tuition hike and an emergency law put in place to limit protests would have to be on the table. The two sides are meeting in Quebec City. Students have called for a tuition freeze, but the government has ruled out that possibility. The French-speaking province's average undergraduate tuition $2,519 a year is the lowest in Canada, and the proposed hike $254 per year over seven years is tiny by U.S. standards. But opponents consider the raise an affront to the philosophy of the 1960s reforms dubbed the Quiet Revolution that set Quebec apart not only from its U.S. neighbor but from the rest of Canada. Analysts have said Quebecers don't compare their tuition rates to those in the U.S. or English-speaking Canada, but to those in European countries, where higher education is free. More than 2,500 students have been arrested since the demonstrations began, including nearly 700 this past Wednesday, but arrests are down markedly since. Student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois said his group wasn't going to rush a decision and would take the time to ponder any agreement. He said if the government refused to budge on the two issues, his group would reconsider participating in negotiations. "Since the beginning of the strike the organizations agree on the objective to cancel tuition hikes," he said. Student leaders Leo Bureau-Blouin and Martine Desjardins agreed tuition fees have to be on the table and said the ball was in the government's court. Education Minister Michelle Courchesne said she was showing up at the meeting "open" to discussions but didn't know how long meetings would last. Quebec Premier Jean Charest, who has vowed to shake up the debt-ridden province's finances since he was elected nearly a decade ago, has refused to cave in. Charest's government passed emergency legislation on May 18 restricting protests and closing striking campuses until August. The law requires that police be informed eight hours before a protest begins, including details on the route of any demonstration of 50 or more people. It also prohibits demonstrations within 50 meters (165 feet) of a college and declares that anyone who incites or helps another person break the new protest regulations can be fined. Amnesty International says the law breaches Canada's international human rights obligations and called for it to be rescinded by Quebec's legislature. The latest round of talks comes at a crucial time for the Quebec government, with thousands taking to the streets nightly in protest and Montreal's peak tourism season fast approaching, a period of international events such as the Grand Prix F-1 race and international jazz and comedy festivals that bring millions in revenue. Event organizers have expressed concern about the impact the continuing protests could have on the festivals, which include nightly outdoor shows on stages surrounded by lucrative concession stands that draw thousands into the streets for weeks. Students have been holding nightly protests, some of whom have ended in clashes with police. The latest manifestation of dissent has been protesters pouring to the streets banging pots late into the night, creating a cacophony of noise some fear could disrupt festival performances. Quebec protesters, government close in on deal By PHIL COUVRETTE The Associated Press 12:06 a.m. Wednesday, May 30, 2012 QUEBEC CITY Quebec student representatives and provincial government officials emerged from a second day of talks to end a bitter dispute over tuition hikes short of an agreement but confident talks were progressing to possibly end weeks of student protests. Both sides agreed to meet again Wednesday. Student leaders said progress had been made and they would evaluate several proposals presented by both sides. Students have called for a tuition freeze, but the government has ruled out that possibility. Students also object to an emergency law put in place to limit protests. "We will take the night and probably tomorrow morning to evaluate the different scenarios and restart the negotiations during the day in the hope of presenting an offer to our members," Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, a co-spokesman for the more hardline CLASSE student protest group, told reporters. Asked if a deal was imminent, Martine Desjardins, the head of one of the university student groups, said "it depends how many hours you consider to be imminent." Student leaders said tuition hikes were on the table while the matter of the law was "broached" but left to be dealt with in greater detail in the future. Any agreement would have to be put to the various student associations for approval. The government was hoping to avoid a repeat of previous talks that ended with an agreement in principle with the leaders that was later rejected by the associations. The French-speaking province's average undergraduate tuition $2,519 a year is the lowest in Canada, and the proposed hike $254 per year over seven years is tiny by U.S. standards. Opponents consider the raise an affront a manner of thinking that has its roots in the philosophy of the 1960s reforms in Quebec dubbed the Quiet Revolution. The social movement set Quebec apart from the rest of Canada, and has the Quebecois comparing themselves to European countries where higher education is mostly free, rather than to the neighboring United States. Protesters in Montreal and Quebec City were back in the streets again Tuesday evening in the latest in a string of consecutive night protests, banging pots and chanting against tuition hikes and the new law. A number of demonstrators gathered again in front of the building where the talks were taking place. Police were noticeably absent Tuesday evening, some protesters going as far as banging on the door of the building with pots and wooden spoons. On Monday, riot police were deployed as about 200 protesters stood in front of the building where the talks were held. Quebec City Police Lt. Stephane Dufresne said 84 were arrested. It was the first incident of mass arrests since last Wednesday when nearly 700 protesters were arrest. More than 2,500 people have been arrested since a student strike at more than a dozen Quebec colleges and universities began in February. Quebec Premier Jean Charest, who has vowed to shake up the debt-ridden province's finances since he was elected nearly a decade ago, has refused to cave in. But he attended Monday's talks with the students for the first time since the conflict began, after being urged to do so by student leaders. Charest said Tuesday he participated in the talks to show the government speaks with one voice at the table and because discussions had reached a new stage. "We all want to turn the page and move onto other things," Charest said. "I hope it helps send a signal that the government wants to arrive at the best possible solution." Charest's government passed emergency legislation on May 18 restricting protests and closing striking campuses until August. The law requires that police be informed eight hours before a protest begins, saying organizers must provide details on the route of any demonstration of 50 or more people. It also prohibits demonstrations within 50 meters (165 feet) of a college and declares that anyone who incites or helps another person break the new regulations can be fined. Amnesty International says the law breaches Canada's international human rights obligations and called for it to be rescinded by Quebec's legislature. Groups outside the province have condemned the new law. In Ottawa, labor unions joined major student organizations in a demonstration in support of the Quebec students' demands. In France, meanwhile, the far left New Anti-capitalist Party also supported Quebec's students and condemned what it considered an unprecedented law "criminalizing all social movements." The latest round of talks comes at a crucial time for the Quebec government, with Montreal's peak tourism season fast approaching, a period of international events such as the Grand Prix F-1 race and international jazz and comedy festivals that bring millions in revenue. ___ Porn actor is suspect in Canada body parts case By PHIL COUVRETTE Associated Press Wed, May. 30, 2012 OTTAWA - A porn actor is wanted in a gruesome case of dismembered body parts that were mailed to different places including the headquarters of the Conservative Party of Canada, police said. Luka Rocco Magnotta, 29, is wanted for homicide, Montreal police said Wednesday at a news conference. According to an official close to the investigation Magnotta worked as a porn actor and there is video of the crime. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk publicly about those details. Magnotta, believed to originally be from Toronto, was renting an apartment in a working-class Montreal neighborhood. It was behind that building that police found a man's torso in a suitcase in a heap of garbage Tuesday, police said. That same day, a foot was found in a package mailed to the Conservative party headquarters in Ottawa, and a hand found at postal warehouse in the Canadian capital. The package with the hand was addressed to the Liberal Party of Canada. Early testing shows the three body parts come from the same man, police said. Police in masks combed through the blood-soaked Montreal studio apartment on Wednesday. A blood stained mattress remained there after they left. "For most of the officers that were there all night long this is the kind of crime scene they've never seen in their career," Montreal Police Cmdr. Ian Lafreniere said. Lafreniere said they are investigating the possibility that other body parts might have been mailed. He said the suspect and the victim knew each other. He said it isn't linked to organized crime. The packages with the foot and the hand had been mailed to Ottawa from Montreal. It wasn't clear why. "As a father, I would have trouble sleeping at night knowing that the suspect was in my neighborhood," Lafreniere said. Police said Magnotta is also known by the names Eric Clinton Newman and Vladimir Romanov. They described him as white, 5 feet 8 inches tall (1.78 meters) with blue eyes and black hair. His internet presence indicates he is a bisexual porn actor and model. Police discovered the severed foot after Jenni Bryne, a top political adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, opened a bloodstained box at Conservative party headquarters Tuesday. When Bryne opened the box, a foul odor overcame the office. "It was such a horrible odor. I'm sure many of us will not forget it," Conservative Party spokesman Fred DeLorey said. Police said the package was addressed to the Conservative Party of Canada and not to a specific person. Canada Post wouldn't comment on the discoveries. Eric Schorer, the manager of the building where the suspect lived, said Magnotta had been living there for about four months but hadn't been seen around in a while. He said there were never any complaints about noise in the unit, and that Magnotta passed a credit test to rent there. "He seemed like a nice guy," Schorer said. Richard Payette, who lived across the hall from Magnotta, said the door of Apartment 208 was left open for part of the day on Wednesday. Payette said there was an overwhelming smell drifting out into the hallway, like bad meat. An online video showing a man that looks like Magnotta shows him committing violent acts against kittens. The video contains at least one photo made available by Montreal police Wedesday that identified the man as Magnotta. For nearly two years, the name has been notorious among animal-rights activists looking for a man who tortured and killed cats and posted videos of it online. "It's very upsetting," Opposition New Democrat member Yvon Godin said. "It could be just one crazy person that did it, but at the same time we have lots of people unhappy in our country, the way the country is going." Opposition Liberal member Justin Trudeau called the packages horrific. Students and Quebec government still talking THURSDAY MAY 31, 2012, 5:18 AM QUEBEC CITY (AP) Student representatives and Quebec government officials emerged from a third day of talks aimed at ending weeks of protests over tuition hikes without an agreement after a laborious session aimed at ending weeks of protests. Student groups said they made a new proposal Wednesday to the government and were hoping to get an answer from officials Thursday. "We gave our proposal to Quebec's government, we discussed it, we debated it, and the minister of education said she needed the night to think about it," said student leader Leo Bureau-Blouin. Students have called for a tuition freeze, but the government has ruled that out as a possibility. Students also object to an emergency law put in place to limit protests. "There was an exchange of offers, a ping-pong game all day and it ended with our last return so we're waiting for a reaction tomorrow," said student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois. "There have been many proposals on both sides, there were ups and downs." More than 2,500 people have been arrested since a student strike at more than a dozen Quebec colleges and universities began in February. Any agreement would have to be put to the various student associations for approval. The government was hoping to avoid a repeat of previous talks that ended with an agreement in principle with the leaders that was later rejected by the associations. The French-speaking province's average undergraduate tuition - $2,519 a year - is the lowest in Canada, and the proposed hike - $254 per year over seven years - is tiny by U.S. standards. Analysts say Quebecois are more likely to compare themselves to European countries where higher education is mostly free, rather than to the neighboring United States. Students said a proposal to drop the yearly rise by $35 to $219, was unanimously rejected. Education Minister Michelle Courchesne said Wednesday that efforts were continuing to reach an agreement but the talks seemed laborious. "The situation is serious so let's put time on our side," she said Wednesday. "We're progressing, it's difficult but as I was saying it's not over till its over." Protesters in Montreal and Quebec City were joined by demonstrators across the country Wednesday partaking in what a Facebook group called Casseroles Night in Canada, a reference to the pots marchers have been banging to show their support for the students. One posting on the social media page even included a photo of protesters banging pots in Little Rock, Ark. Protesters gathered again outside the building where the talks were taking place in Quebec City, banging pots and waving the flags of unions which have given students their support. Quebec Premier Jean Charest, who has vowed to shake up the debt-ridden province's finances since he was elected nearly a decade ago, has refused to cave in. But he attended Monday's talks with the students for the first time since the conflict began, after being urged to do so by student leaders. Charest's government passed emergency legislation on May 18 restricting protests and closing striking campuses until August. The law requires that police be informed eight hours before a protest begins, saying organizers must provide details on the route of any demonstration of 50 or more people. It also prohibits demonstrations within 50 meters (165 feet) of a college and declares that anyone who incites or helps another person break the new regulations can be fined. Amnesty International says the law breaches Canada's international human rights obligations and called for it to be rescinded by Quebec's legislature. On Wednesday, two United Nations freedom Special Rapporteurs expressed concern about the law and "urged federal and provincial governments of Canada and Quebec to fully respect the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, expression and association of students affected by two new legislations." Police think Canada body parts suspect fled abroad May 31, 2012 Associated Press OTTAWA, Ontario A Canadian porn actor suspected of mailing body parts to the headquarters of two major political parties after making a video of the killing might have fled to France, police said Thursday. A Montreal police official said they have information that Luka Rocco Magnotta might have left Canada for France but said his current whereabouts are not known. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to talk about the case publicly, gave no other details. Montreal Police Cmdr. Ian Lafreniere earlier said authorities believe Magnotta fled North America based on evidence they found at his apartment, and based on a blog Magnotta once wrote about how to disappear. Magnotta, 29, has been added to Interpol's "wanted persons" list. "We believe he may be in a foreign country," Lafreniere told The Associated Press. "He left a letter on a website mentioning how to disappear for good, and secondly, our investigation brought us some details that might let us think that he could be away from the country." Lafreniere also said police have been trying to take down an online video that they believe shows Magnotta murdering a man he dated. The video shows a man stabbing another man with an ice pick while the victim lies naked and tied up. The first man later reveals he has slashed the other man's throat. He also dismembers the corpse and performs sexual acts with it. Lafreniere said they were able to take down the video Wednesday night but that it keeps reappearing online. "It's horrible. I can't believe people take advantage of watching this," he said. Lafreniere said police believe the victim is a man reported missing several days ago and that the man's family lives overseas. He said police were having trouble contacting the family. The case began Tuesday when police found a man's torso in a suitcase behind Magnotta's apartment building and a severed foot was found in a package mailed to the Conservative Party headquarters in Ottawa. A hand was found in a separate package at a postal facility, addressed to the Liberal Party of Canada. Other body parts remain missing, and Lafreniere said police are investigating the possibility that they also may have been put in the mail. Criminal profiler Pat Brown said the suspect clearly loves attention. "He's not political, psychopaths rarely are, so he didn't send those parts for political reasons but to get a splash in the media. He wants to go in history as being the creepiest guy out there," Brown said. Police said Magnotta is also known by the names Eric Clinton Newman and Vladimir Romanov. They described him as white and 5 feet 8 inches tall (1.78 meters) with blue eyes and black hair. A police official said he was a porn actor. His internet presence indicates he is a bisexual porn actor and model with a myriad of aliases. Magnotta changed his name from Eric Clinton Kirkman in 2006, and online posts suggest he had a longtime fascination with identity change and escape. In a post on the Digital Journal website dated 2009 that police confirmed, a six-step article under Magnotta's name describes how to disappear. "When making the decision to disappear, it is very important to understand that this is not a process that can be successfully accomplished overnight," it reads. "For best results under normal circumstances, a minimum of four months is really necessary to successfully carry out the heroic actions necessary to leave your old life behind. "This is certainly not an undertaking to be entered into lightly be completely sure of yourself before you commit to this." A Montana lawyer said he alerted authorities after seeing the video the murder on a gore website days before it became part of the investigation, but he was only taken seriously after the murder was reported. The lawyer, Roger Renville, said he saw the video on Saturday morning and by late Saturday afternoon had called law enforcement, including local law enforcement, FBI, Toronto police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. "The last one was Toronto police department and nobody would take the report seriously," he said. "Late Tuesday I called the Mounties, and given what was in the news that day they took it very seriously and when I told them the name of the suspect they said 'we're looking for this guy' and they took it very seriously and took all my information." Magnotta, born in the Toronto area, was renting an apartment in a working-class Montreal neighborhood. Police in masks combed through the blood-streaked apartment Wednesday. Mike Gauthier, who has lived in the building for three years, said Magnotta's apartment was emptied before he apparently vanished in recent days. There were no clothes and no books inside, he said. Few tenants said they knew Magnotta, who had only lived in the building for around four months. They described him as an effeminate man who was quiet and aloof but pleasant at times. An online video shows a man who looks like Magnotta committing violent acts against kittens. The video contains at least one photo made available by Montreal police Wednesday that identified the man as Magnotta. For nearly two years, animal-rights activists have been looking for a man who tortured and killed cats and posted videos of it online. Police discovered the severed foot Tuesday after Jenni Bryne, a top political adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, opened a bloodstained box at Conservative party headquarters. When Bryne opened the box, a foul odor overcame the office. "It was such a horrible odor. I'm sure many of us will not forget it," Conservative Party spokesman Fred DeLorey said. Police said the package was addressed to the Conservative Party of Canada and not to a specific person. Talks over Quebec student demonstrations collapse May 31 Associated Press QUEBEC CITY (AP) Quebec's premier Jean Charest said Thursday he suspended negotiations with university students aimed at ending weeks of protests over proposed tuition hikes, a development that could lead to a long summer of demonstrations and clashes with police. Charest said the talks reached an impasse and a huge gap remains after four days of talks. Charest said there will be an election in the French-speaking province within 18 months and that it will be "up to the silent majority to express itself." Student leaders said Quebec's education minister stepped away from the table, saying it wasn't politically possible to reach an agreement. One student leader called for more street protests and said he planned a large rally in Montreal for Saturday. Student groups called for a tuition freeze, but the government has ruled out that possibility. Students also object to an emergency law put in place to limit protests. More than 2,500 people have been arrested since a student strike at more than a dozen Quebec colleges and universities began in February. At least three demonstrations took to the streets of Montreal hours after the talks broke down, all at one point merging into one that police said was at least a few thousand strong. Two people were arrested. Two demonstrators were also arrested in Quebec City after throwing items at police but police spokeswoman Catherine Viel said more were expected in the city where the talks collapsed. The failed talks comes at a crucial time for the Quebec government, with Montreal's peak tourism season fast approaching, a period of international events such as the Grand Prix F-1 race and international jazz and comedy festivals that bring millions of tourism revenue. Charest said he hoped the break would bring some calm to the streets, but student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois called for "a return to the streets." Charest said Nadeau-Dubois' group had threatened to disrupt the lucrative F-1 racing Grand Prix next weekend, but the student leader said he was merely going to use the publicity generated by the event to make his cause visible. Quebec's average undergraduate tuition $2,519 a year is the lowest in Canada, and the proposed hike $254 per year over seven years is tiny by U.S. standards. But opponents consider the raise an affront to the philosophy of the 1960s reforms dubbed the Quiet Revolution that set Quebec apart not only from its U.S. neighbor but from the rest of Canada. Many Quebecois are more likely to compare themselves to European countries where higher education is mostly free, rather than the U.S. Students said a proposal to drop the yearly rise by $35 to $219 was unanimously rejected. Education Minister Michelle Courchesne said it takes it takes two to tango and as long as someone still wants to freeze the fees it makes it difficult to negotiate. The student said they're willing to go back to the negotiating table whenever the government wants. "We're still here. We're always ready to negotiate," said Martine Desjardins, one of the four main student leaders . "We'll wait." Charest, who has vowed to shake up the debt-ridden province's finances since he was elected nearly a decade ago, has refused to cave in. But he attended Monday's talks with the students for the first time since the conflict began, after being urged to do so by student leaders. Charest's government passed emergency legislation on May 18 restricting protests and closing striking campuses until August. The law requires that police be informed eight hours before a protest begins, including on the route of any demonstration of 50 or more people. It also prohibits demonstrations within 50 meters (165 feet) of a college and declares that anyone who incites or helps another person break the new regulations can be fined. Amnesty International says the law breaches Canada's international human rights obligations and called on Quebec's legislature to rescind it. On Wednesday, two United Nations freedom Special Rapporteurs expressed concern about the law and "urged federal and provincial governments of Canada and Quebec to fully respect the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, expression and association of students affected by two new legislations." Murder victim is Chinese student, police say June 1 Associated Press MONTREAL The man killed in a videotaped attack that was discovered after body parts were mailed to Canada's top political parties was a Chinese student, police said Friday, as authorities in France searched for the suspect, a Canadian porn actor. Montreal Police Cmdr. Ian Lafreniere identified the victim as Jun Lin, 33. Police have said he dated Luka Rocco Magnotta, who is now on Interpol's equivalent of its most-wanted list. A senior French police official said he is sure Magnotta is in France and that Magnotta has been there in the past. Another French police official said Magnotta apparently flew to Paris from Montreal last weekend, before the case emerged. Porn actor wanted for murder over body parts in Canada mail Lafreniere said Jun Lin doesn't have family in Montreal, but a family member reported him missing on Tuesday. He had last been seen May 24. Lafreniere said the murder occurred the night of May 24-25, and the suspect left for Europe on May 26. According to a missing person's notice on the website of the Chinese consulate in Montreal, the victim was from the city of Wuhan and arrived in Montreal in July 2011. "He is a Chinese citizen who studied at a university here in Montreal and was here for a certain time," Lafreniere said. "Thanks to the Chinese embassy, we have been able to reach the family with the sad news of what happened." Advertise | AdChoices The case began Tuesday, when a package containing a severed foot was opened at the ruling Conservative Party headquarters. A hand was discovered at a postal facility, addressed to the Liberal party of Canada. A torso was found in a suitcase on a garbage dump in Montreal, outside Magnotta's apartment building. Body parts in the post: Human foot mailed to Canada Conservative party HQ Montreal police have said they believe Magnotta, 29, fled for France based on evidence they found at his apartment and a blog he once wrote about how to disappear. "What will hinder him the most is what he used to glorify himself, the Web, with all the photos we have of him," Lafreniere said. But he warned that Magnotta is "someone who can disguise himself, he can change into a woman, wear a wig." Only on NBCNews.com Ex-Penn State president disputes Freeh report The female face of HIV: 'Everyone's at risk' First funerals for Aurora victims planned Will trial shed light on motive in Aurora killings? Miracle baby of the Aurora tragedy Labor braces for attack should GOP sweep in November UK workers cash in on Olympics with strike threats France's fugitive search unit has been ordered to hunt for Magnotta, the French officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about such searches publicly. They gave no details about his suspected whereabouts. Lafreniere said Magnotta could be anywhere in Europe, and "there's even been talk he might have returned to Canada under another identity." Police suspect Magnotta filmed the murder. The video, posted online, shows a man stabbing another man with an ice pick while the victim lies naked and tied up. The first man later reveals he has slashed the other man's throat. He also dismembers the corpse and performs sexual acts with it. "We have quite convincing proof of the crime he committed," Lafreniere said Friday, referring to the video. Other body parts remain missing. Police said Magnotta is also known by the names Eric Clinton Newman and Vladimir Romanov, and they described him as white and 5 feet 8 inches tall with blue eyes and black hair. A police official said he was a porn actor. Derek MacKinnon, a former resident of the building where Magnotta lived, said he was the only person Magnotta would speak to in the building. MacKinnon identified himself as an actor who played a serial killer in the 1980 horror film "Terror Train." "I was a killer who killed 11 people in this film, so he was rather interested in my career versus his," MacKinnon said. "It was like a quick conversation, not like anything big. And knowing that we were both gay, I think that's probably where he had the connection with me because he was extremely cold, standoffish, wouldn't talk to anybody, but he would stop for a sec to say something to me, and I think that he felt there was a kindred spirit or something between the two of us." He said Magnotta "was always well groomed" until the last time MacKinnon saw him, on May 25. He said Magnotta was having "a bad hair day." "It was red, and he normally is dark," MacKinnon said. "It looked like a really bad wig." Quebec protests continue June 2 Associated Press MONTREAL (AP) Thousands of students and their supporters huddled under umbrellas and banged on pots as they marched in the streets of Montreal in the rain Saturday, two days after talks collapsed between student groups and the Quebec government aimed at ending weeks of protests over proposed tuition hikes. The failed talks came at a crucial time for the Quebec government, with Montreal's peak tourism season fast approaching with international events such as the Grand Prix F-1 race and international jazz and comedy festivals that bring millions of dollars in tourism revenue. Student groups called for a tuition freeze, but the government ruled out that possibility. Students also object to an emergency law put in place to limit protests. Quebec's average undergraduate tuition $2,519 a year is the lowest in Canada, and the proposed hike $254 per year over seven years is tiny by U.S. standards. But many Quebecois are more likely to compare themselves to European countries where higher education is mostly free, rather than the U.S. "The attitude is to send a message to (Quebec Premier Jean) Charest that, at this moment, it is not only a student struggle but a popular struggle," said student leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, who had called for more protests after the talks collapsed on Thursday. "We see a lot of people going in the streets every night in Montreal and now all over Quebec." Students mixed with families gathered at a central park near downtown Montreal, listening to speeches before the march started Saturday afternoon. Josee Mercier, 30, with her family of five in tow, said she was there for her kids' education, but also for her own immediate study plans. "I'm a single mother, I can't afford tuition of thousands of dollars," she said. "I'm also trying to head back to school to become a nurse but because it's too expensive and I have a family to support just I can't." "We need a government that cares about the poor, about kids," she added. It was the latest daytime rally in Quebec's largest city. On May 22 over 100,000 marchers marked the 100th day of student protests. An even larger crowd gathered on March 22. More than 2,500 people have been arrested since a student strike at more than a dozen Quebec colleges and universities began in February. Most have occurred during marches in Montreal and Quebec City. Quebec officials said Nadeau-Dubois' group has threatened to disrupt the lucrative F-1 racing Grand Prix next weekend, but the student leader reiterated Saturday he was merely going to use the publicity generated by the racing event to make his cause visible. Charest said the students were hurting the Quebecois with their actions and hindering the very people from whom they seek support. Charest's government passed emergency legislation on May 18 restricting protests and closing striking campuses until August. The law requires that police be informed eight hours before a protest begins, including details on the route of any demonstration of 50 or more people. It also prohibits demonstrations within 50 meters (165 feet) of a college and declares that anyone who incites or helps another person break the new regulations can be fined. Amnesty International said the law breaches Canada's international human rights obligations and called on Quebec's legislature to rescind it. On Wednesday, two United Nations officials expressed concern about the law and "urged federal and provincial governments of Canada and Quebec to fully respect the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, expression and association of students affected by two new legislations." Murder suspect arrested June 4 Associated Press A Canadian porn actor suspected of murdering and dismembering a Chinese student and mailing his body parts to Canadas top political parties was reading about himself on the internet when he was arrested at a café in Berlin. Canadian investigators say 29-year-old Luka Magnottas obsessions led him to post internet videos of his killing kittens, then a man, and finally to his arrest at the café where he had spent two hours reading media coverage of himself. An international manhunt set off by a case of internet gruesomeness that captured global attention ended quietly on Monday in the working-class Neukoelln district of the German capital when a café employee recognised Magnotta from a newspaper photo and flagged down a police car. Confronted by seven officers, he tried at first giving fake names, but in the end he just said you got me, said police spokesman Guido Busch. Magnotta is wanted by Canadian authorities on suspicion of killing Jun Lin, a 33-year-old man he dated, in Canada, and mailing his body parts to two of Canadas top political parties. They say Magnotta filmed the murder in his Montreal studio apartment and posted it online. The video shows a man with an ice pick stabbing another naked, bound male. He also dismembers the corpse and performs sexual acts with it in what police called a horrifying video. The warning signs apparently were already there. For nearly two years animal activists had been looking for a man who tortured and killed cats and posted videos of his cruelty online. Since Lins murder, Montreal police have released a photo from the video which they say is of Magnotta. In 2005, Magnotta was accused of sexually assaulting a woman, but the charges were dropped, the lawyer who represented him at the time said. Magnotta is believed to have fled to France on May 26, based on evidence police found at his apartment and a blog he once posted about disappearing. In Germany, police spokeswoman Kerstin Ziesmer said Magnotta was being questioned, and would be brought before a judge behind closed doors. He says he is the wanted person, she added, while cautioning that his identity still needed to be confirmed by German authorities. Canada, like Europe, has no death penalty, making extradition likely. The cases full horror emerged when a package containing a severed foot was opened at the ruling Conservative Party headquarters on May 29. That same day, a hand was discovered at a postal facility, addressed to the Liberal Party of Canada. And a torso was found in a suitcase on a garbage dump in Montreal, outside Magnottas apartment building. Police in masks combed through the blood-soaked Montreal studio apartment last Wednesday. As they unravelled his background, police discovered that Magnotta changed his name from Eric Clinton Newman in 2006 and was born in Scarborough, Ontario. Nina Arsenault, a Toronto transsexual who said she had a relationship with Magnotta over a decade ago, described him as a drug user with a temper, who sometimes turned his anger on himself, hitting himself on the head. Montreal police Commander Ian Lafreniere said investigators were extremely relieved and pleased about the arrest. We said from the beginning that the web has been used to glorify himself and we believe the web brought him down, said Lafreniere. He was recognised because his photo was everywhere. Human remains delivered to 2 Vancouver schools June 5 Associated Press MONTREAL - Packages containing a human foot and hand were discovered at two schools in Vancouver on Tuesday, in what could be the latest gruesome twist in the case of a Canadian porn actor suspected of dismembering and eating his former lover. Police said they could not immediately confirm if the body parts in question were the missing extremities of Chinese student Jun Lin, whose hand and foot were discovered last week when they were mailed to Canada's top political parties. The suspect, Luka Rocco Magnotta, 29, was caught Monday in Berlin, after evading police for days while he partied in Paris. He told German authorities he would not fight extradition to Canada. Vancouver Deputy Police Chief Warren Lemcke said a package containing what appeared to be a human hand was opened by staff at False Creek Elementary School after 1 p.m. Tuesday. Another package containing what appeared to be a human foot was found by staff at St. George's private school for boys later in the day. The British Columbia Coroner's Service and the Vancouver police's major crime investigators have been called in. "There is no indication any student or staff has been targeted at any school," Lemcke said. "This must have been a very traumatic incident for all involved in the schools involved in opening the packages and the Vancouver Police Department will assist any way we can with our victims services section." Video footage of what authorities believe to be the killing seems to show the suspect eating the body, said police in Montreal, where the death occurred. Montreal Police Cmdr. Ian Lafreniere said that although police have not been able to conclusively confirm it, they suspect Magnotta ate parts of the victim's body. "As gross and as graphic as it could be, yes, it was seen on the video," Lafreniere said. Authorities allege Magnotta filmed the slaying in his Montreal studio apartment and posted it online. A copy of what police believe is the video of the killing, viewed online by AP, shows a man with an ice pick stabbing another naked, bound male. He also dismembers the corpse and performs sexual acts with it. It did not show anyone eating the body but did show a man using a fork and knife on it. Police suggested Tuesday that they have access to more extensive video of the killing, possibly an unedited version. "We're keeping some details for ourselves," Lafreniere said. Shortly after the killing, authorities say, Magnotta flew from Montreal to Paris. Scores of French police hunting for him were inundated with hundreds of tips and alleged sightings of the suspect, whose photo was splashed in newspaper papers, TV screens and websites worldwide, thanks to an Interpol alert. The suspect monitored news reports about what police knew and took steps to evade authorities. Witnesses contacted French police with claims of having seen Magnotta partying in the Bastille area of east Paris, said Christophe Crepin, a police union official who shared details about the manhunt in a phone interview with The Associated Press. One tipster said Magnotta drank a late-night Coca-Cola at a bar in the northwestern Batignolles quarter, which police collected for fingerprints. Pornography magazines and an air-sickness bag from the plane he had taken from Montreal to Paris were found in a dingy hotel room where he stayed in Bagnolet, northeast of Paris. "He needed to be seen, and to party," said Crepin, who relayed information he received from agents in the judicial police unit that tracks fugitives. "Naturally some of the people who saw him broke out into a cold sweat when they recognized him." Magnotta's refusal to stay low eventually got him caught. He was arrested while reading about himself at an Internet cafe in Berlin after an employee recognized him from a newspaper photo and flagged down a police car. Magnotta appeared before a German judge in the afternoon and was ordered held pending extradition, police spokesman Thomas Neuendorf said. He was then transferred to a Berlin prison from a police detention center. He will have to go before a German court for an extradition hearing once Canada formally requests that he be returned for trial, Neuendorf said. "I assume there will be no problems," he said. "According to his statements to prosecutors he will not fight his extradition." That means Magnotta could be returned to Canada as early as this week, according to authorities. The Canadian Embassy in Berlin declined to comment on when Ottawa may file the official papers seeking extradition. Cmdr. Denis Mainville, the head investigator of the Montreal police major crimes unit, said investigators will review hundreds of homicide cases over the last 30 years in Montreal and throughout Quebec for any possible links to Magnotta. Mainville said such a review is routine in such cases. Magnotta arrived in Berlin on Saturday on a bus Paris, said Martin Steltner, a spokesman for Berlin prosecutors. Crepin said Magnotta had contacts in Paris from a previous visit in 2010. "He didn't come to Paris by chance. He knew he could get along in Paris, he knew people," he said. Police, for example, trailed a large-framed man who had been in contact with Magnotta, he said. Police questioned another man with whom Magnotta spent two nights. The man didn't immediately realize who his companion was, Crepin said. At times, French investigators grew frustrated with leaks in the media notably a French TV report indicating police had used technology to track Magnotta's mobile phone. As a result, Magnotta turned it off, Crepin said. "He had closely monitored what we police were doing to concoct his strategy," he said. Crepin said surveillance camera footage showed Magnotta boarding a bus to Berlin on Friday evening. He said German officials were alerted that Magnotta might be in Berlin at some point before the arrest, but he did not specify when. The case's full horror emerged on May 29 when a package containing the severed foot was opened at Canada's ruling Conservative Party headquarters and a hand was discovered at a postal facility, addressed to the Liberal Party of Canada. A torso, meanwhile, was found in a suitcase on a garbage dump in Montreal, outside Magnotta's apartment building. As they unraveled his background, police discovered that Magnotta changed his name from Eric Clinton Newman in 2006 and that he was born in Scarborough, Ontario. He is also known as Vladimir Romanov. Police said he has 70 Facebook accounts under different names. Montreal police on Tuesday said DNA tests have confirmed that the body parts mailed to the political parties were Lin's remains, and that they have footage of Magnotta mailing the two parcels that were sent to Ottawa. "The head is still missing," Lafreniere said, hours before the parcels were discovered in Vancouver. "And one hand and one foot is still missing." Zheng Xu, a press spokesman at the Chinese consulate in Montreal, said Lin's family has been contacted and wants to travel to Canada as soon as possible. He said he was not able to give any further details without the family's approval. In Vancouver, Kurt Heinrich of the city's school board said no students saw the package at False Creek Elementary. Larissa Warrington, the chair of the False Creek elementary parent advisory council, said students were in school at the time and police vans were present when she picked up her three kids. "I came to pick up my children as I usually do and was told there was a suspicious package at the school," an emotional Warrington said. "It is disturbing. It's awful. Why would anybody do that? It's very unsettling, as you can imagine, having children at this school." Friends of Canada victim remember quiet student June 7, 2012 Associated Press TORONTO (AP) On his blog, he liked to call himself Big Bad Justin, but in reality, according to his postings and his acquaintances, Jun Lin was a quiet, unassuming man who came to Canada from China to study engineering and computer science. As a cashier at a convenience store, he never missed a shift. He loved his cat and queued up for the new iPhone on the day it went on sale. Now his parents are here to collect the dismembered remains of the victim of a murder that has appalled the world with its gruesomeness, videotaped and posted on the Internet. Im going to Canada! he posted on May 10, 2010. Last week parts of him turned up in parcels mailed to Canadas two main political parties. A torso was found in a suitcase on a garbage dump in Montreal, outside the apartment building where he is thought to have been killed. Police reported that what looked like a foot and hand, separately mailed to two Vancouver schools and discovered Tuesday, are thought to be linked to the case. Police are waiting for the head to turn up. On his blog, the 33-year-old indulged his love for fashion, home-cooked food, Apple products, American TV and Andy his tabby cat. A copy of what police believe is the video of the killing shows a bound, blindfolded man naked on a bed being stabbed to death with an ice pick, then dismembered. Investigators suspect a 29-year-old Montreal man, Luka Rocco Magnotta of committing the murder and posting the video online. He was caught at a cafe in Berlin. Montreal police say he and Lin were dating, but no reference to the suspect has yet been found in Lins extensive online postings. I dont know under what circumstances they knew each other, but for someone to target him, I never would have thought this, said Zoya De Frias Lakhany, who was Lins friend and fellow student at Concordia University in Montreal. Lin was a shy, straight-A computer student so nice, humble and honest, said De Frias Lakhany, 21. He was really involved in his studies and never missed class. On the Chinese microblogging site weibo.com, Lin wrote excitedly about moving to Canada. Upon arriving in Montreal, he kept up his mostly cheerful blogging, although he sometimes betrayed a sense of loneliness. Class is to begin soon, reads one posting from last year, accompanied by a photo of an empty classroom. Im so nervous. Been out of school for so long. I just realized I am 10 years older than my classmates, he wrote a month later. They can call me Uncle. Its so crushing. More than 1,000 entries are scattered with photos he took of himself. In some, he stares at the camera, expressionless. In others, he makes faces or poses shirtless. The photos were accompanied by discussions of his diet and plans for staying fit. My calves are getting so thick, he complained one day. I am on diet chicken breast, broccoli, tomatoes, peas and whole-wheat bread. A few days later, he explained his weight gain: I know why I am so fat in Canada. Butter and bread in the morning. Im so fat, he wrote. Yet the photos show a slender man. Followers of his blog commented that he was cute. Lins last blog entry, dated May 16, 2012, has drawn 40,000 comments, most of them expressing shock and condolences over his death. But some of the posters debate homosexuality, with many suggesting Lins sexuality led him into a dangerous situation. Chinas government considered homosexuality a mental disorder until 2001 and it remains a sensitive topic in the country, where gays are frequently ostracized. Friends and strangers have lit virtual candles on Lins blog. A Facebook page dedicated to Lin features photos of him traveling and posts demanding swift justice for Magnotta, a former porn actor who, authorities say, flew to Paris shortly after the killing and spent several days partying and evading police before his arrest in Berlin. At the Montreal convenience store where Lins boss says he never failed to show up for work, a memorial is piled with flowers and sympathy cards written in English, French and Mandarin. The Chinese consulate in Montreal said Lins family plans to speak with the media when they are ready. De Frias Lakhany said her friend seemed happy in Montreal. He would take pictures of the snow and post them, she said He was sweet, never complained and smiled all the time. Associated Press writers Didi Tang in Beijing, David Rising in Berlin, Phil Couvrette in Ottawa, Sean Farrell in Montreal and Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report. Heavy police presence for F1 race in Montreal Jun. 10, 2012 MONTREAL (AP) Police in Montreal clamped down Sunday on any attempt by protesters to disrupt the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix race. Police spokeswoman Anie Lemieux said about 30 people have been arrested at the subway stop near the race track as a preventive measure. Some protesters had wanted to fill the subway with their supporters to make it difficult for fans to get to the race but the main downtown hub was filled with police officers in yellow jackets instead, checking any commuter with a back pack and red square, the symbol used by student protesters who have been demonstrating for more than three months against university and college tuition hikes. Officers patrolled the corridor leading to the line traveling to the race venue, and were on every train car as well. Thousands of tourists in Montreal over the last few days for the F-1 Grand Prix race have witnessed protests as students demonstrating against the planned tuition hikes paraded in their underwear, beat drums and pots and occasionally clashed with police near areas especially designated for street parties. But Montreal police backed by their provincial counterparts made their presence felt on the streets and in the subway system below to make sure any planned disruptions of one of Canada's most lucrative tourist events did not take place. Students have called for a tuition freeze, but the government has ruled that out as a possibility. Students also object to an emergency law put in place to limit protests. As soon as talks with the government broke down recently, one student group, soon joined by an anti-capitalist group known for its disruptive protests, said they planned events to make their presence felt during the F-1 event. Security was no less tight near two street parties going on during race day on Sunday, as police wearing helmets watched a group of a few dozen protesters go back and forth, sometimes stopping to chant slogans. "Welcome to Montreal!" they chanted sarcastically to an amused crowd of tourists sitting down on one of Crescent St.'s many patios to watch the race or a Euro soccer game broadcast on television and snapping pictures. Banging drums and pots, the group walked down the street chanting "Whose streets, our streets!" Police also arrested five people there after one confrontation. The street parties have been a popular target of protesters. Some faceoffs with the officers guarding the events have led to rocks and bottles being thrown at police who have responded with pepper spray and arrests. On Saturday night, police in riot gear blocked off streets in an attempt to keep the students away from Formula One revelers, who felt a faint sting of pepper spray as they sat on restaurant patios and watched the protests go by. Family of slain Chinese student moved by support June 12, 2012 Associated Press OTTAWA, Ontario The family of a Chinese student who was killed and dismembered in Canada said they are deeply troubled by his death but have been moved by the outpouring of sympathy and charity. Jun Lin's family arrived in Montreal last week. The family said in a statement made public late Monday that Lin was "the pride for our whole family clan." "This appalling catastrophe has dealt a disastrous blow to our family," the family said in its statement released by the Chinese consulate in Montreal. "But it inspired outpourings of sympathy and charity in people, bringing together kind-hearted people in society, and deeply moving and gratifying us in a time of deep sorrow." The gruesome death of Lin, whose body parts first turned up in parcels mailed to two of Canada's main political parties in Ottawa, launched an international manhunt for his lover, porn actor Luka Rocco Magnotta. Investigators suspect Magnotta, 29, of killing Lin and posting a video online showing him having sex with the dismembered corpse. Police also say the video shows him eating parts of the victim's body. Magnotta was caught reading stories about himself at an Internet cafe in Berlin last week and is facing extradition from Germany. Lin's family visited with police and officials from Concordia University in Montreal , which later announced the creation of a fund to support the family's trip and create an award in Jun Lin's name. Lin, 33, was enrolled as an undergraduate in the school's department of engineering and computer science. "Lin Jun was a Buddhist believer. He made a point of doing benevolent deeds and achieving moral excellence. He was an extremely nice child with filial respect to his parents. It feels as though his care for his parents and sister is still with us even today," the family said. Lin's torso was found two weeks ago in a suitcase at a garbage dump in Montreal, outside the apartment building where he is thought to have been killed. Police said a foot and hand were also mailed to two Vancouver schools. His head is still missing. His family is calling for the suspect to be extradited back to Canada as soon as possible so that justice can be done and bring consolation to the family and the Chinese community. In the meantime, they asked that Lin be remembered for his "kindness, hard work, and passion for life." Montreal teacher fired for showing video June 14, 2012 Associated Press MONTREAL (AP) A Montreal teacher was fired for showing a high school class a video that police believe depicts the slaying and dismemberment of a Chinese student, school officials said Thursday. Police suspect Luka Magnotta of killing Jun Lin and posting a video online that shows him stabbing and having sex with the dismembered corpse. The case drew worldwide attention when Lin's body parts were mailed to the headquarters of two of Canada's political parties, and provoked an international manhunt when the suspect fled to Europe. Magnotta was caught in Berlin last week and is facing extradition. The teacher was suspended with pay June 4, the same day he showed the video. The school board released a statement Thursday saying it had severed all ties with the 29-year-old teacher. The teacher's name was not released. "The unacceptable nature of the teacher's act required an unambiguous measure," Marguerite-Bourgeoys school board president Diane Lamarche-Venne said in the statement. The board said it considered the gravity of the act and its impact on students when making the decision. Staff at Cavelier-De LaSalle High School said that a team of psychologists was available to deal with any problems. The video is so disturbing that, according to Montreal police, even seasoned detectives who watched it were troubled. Montreal police were also looking into possible charges against that teacher. Many students had defended the popular young teacher and said they urged him to show the video. Earlier Thursday, several held a rally around lunchtime. The student body has created a petition calling for his reinstatement. Canadian fugitive arrested June 17, 2012 Associated Press EDMONTON, Alberta - The man wanted in an armored car heist at a Canadian university that left three armed guards dead was carrying $330,000 in cash and no passport when he was arrested by U.S. border officials, police said Sunday. Travis Baumgartner was stopped Saturday near a border crossing in Lynden, Washington, southwest of Abbotsford, British Columbia. He was driving a Ford F-150 truck with the Alberta license plate that police had been seeking, Police Supt. Bob Hassel said at a news conference. Hassel said the suspect tried to get through the border with his driver's license. He had the cash in a backpack. Thomas Schreiber of U.S. Customs and Border Protection said the suspect didn't have a gun and was arrested without incident. Baumgartner, 21, had been on the run since Friday when four armed guards were gunned down, three of them fatally. He faces three counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. Hassel said the injured guard remains in critical condition. Baumgartner was the fifth member of a G4S Cash Solutions crew that was re-loading bank machines at a University of Alberta mall and residence where the shooting happened, police said. The armored truck was found abandoned but running not far from the security company's offices. Dead at the scene were Michelle Shegelski, 26; Eddie Rejano, 39; and Brian Ilesic, 35. Police had launched an international manhunt to find Baumgartner. Hassel said Baumgartner is currently being held at a police detachment in Langley, British Columbia, and is expected to be transferred back to Edmonton sometime in the next week. G4S Cash Solutions spokeswoman Robin Steinberg said the company would conduct its own investigation into the shooting. Baumgartner had only been on the job for three months. "We applaud the dedication of the Edmonton Police Service, and other law enforcement agencies in apprehending Travis Baumgartner today," Steinberg said in a statement. "Our thoughts remain with the families and friends of the victims and also with the Baumgartner family." Baumgartner's mother issued a statement Friday pleading for her son to surrender and apologizing for an argument they had. Such shootings are rare in Canada, where residents are nervous about anything that might indicate they are moving closer to U.S. levels of gun violence. The oil boom town of Fort McMurray, Alberta, however, often has drug-related shootings, and Vancouver often has gang shootings. Gunfire at Toronto's most prominent mall this month left two dead and several injured and a shooting at an Edmonton club in 2006 left three dead. Steven Munz, a close friend of Baumgartner, had said that Baumgartner had been on the job for only three months and wanted to eventually become a police officer, but said Baumgartner didn't believe he had what it took. Munz said he had noticed a change in his personality in the last year, and that he had been irrational at times. In a profile on the dating website Plenty of Fish, Baumgartner bills himself as an armored car guard interested in video gaming. A photo shows him shirtless holding a cell phone. He says he has a laid back personality and a "10" physique. "I'm a great guy. We don't come around often," he writes. But his Facebook page is much darker, quoting the character of the anarchist Joker from the movie "Dark Knight" and musing about "popping people off." Baumgartner lived with his mother and step-sister in Sherwood Park, a bedroom community just east of Edmonton. Suspect in body parts case returns to Canada Jun 18, 2012 Associated Press MIRABEL, Quebec (AP) A Canadian porn actor suspected in the dismemberment of a Chinese student arrived in Canada on Monday via military transport from Germany, where he was arrested this month. Luka Magnotta did not fight his extradition. He is suspected of killing Jun Lin and sending body parts to Canadian political parties and schools. The head is still missing. Police said they would ask Magnotta where it is. Investigators say Magnotta posted a video online showing him having sex with the dismembered corpse. Montreal police Cmdr. Ian Lafreniere said Magnotta's plane landed at Mirabel airport just outside Montreal. A convoy of police vehicles with flashing lights rolled out to meet the suspect. Half a dozen men escorted him down the stairs of the plane and into a minivan. Armed guards stood by. A handcuffed Magnotta, dressed in a green long sleeve shirt and black jeans, said nothing as he was escorted into the van. "We're extremely happy with the result today," Lafreniere said. "This is not the end of the investigation. We're missing an important part of the investigation which is the head of the body." He said they hope to help the family mourn by telling them where the head is. China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Tuesday when asked about Magnotta's return that China was monitoring developments and hoped that there would be justice to give "the victim a result that capn have him rest in peace." Lafreniere said Magnotta's return went smoothly. He called the military flight an extraordinary measure but said there was no way they were going to bring him back on a commercial flight with other people sitting onboard. Magnotta, 29, will appear in court Tuesday, Lafreniere said. A defense attorney will likely be designated then, said Rene Verret of Quebec's prosecutors' office. Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said in a statement that Magnotta was removed from Berlin on Monday by a Canadian military transport. "The Government of Canada thanks the Government of Germany for their swift and decisive action in this matter," Nicholson said, adding that they would have no further comment. Canadian Public Safety Minister Vic Toews noted that Magnotta himself sped up the process by declining to contest his extradition. Martin Steltner, a spokesman for Berlin prosecutors, said Germany's federal government gave formal approval for the extradition a few days ago. Magnotta's court-appointed lawyer during the extradition proceedings, Evelyn Ascher, could not be reached late Monday. Magnotta was caught reading stories about himself at an Internet cafe in Berlin earlier this month after he spent a few days partying in Paris. Lin's torso was found last month in a suitcase at a garbage dump in Montreal outside Magnotta's apartment building. The case first emerged when a package containing a severed foot was opened at Canada's ruling Conservative Party headquarters on May 29. That same day, a hand was discovered at a postal facility, addressed to the Liberal Party of Canada. About a week later, a foot and hand were found mailed to two schools in Vancouver. Police said notes were included in most of the packages but declined to say what they said. DNA tests have confirmed that all the body parts belong to Lin, a Chinese national studying computer science at Concordia University. Magnotta is wanted for first-degree murder, defiling a corpse, threatening the prime minister and using the mail system for delivering "obscene, indecent, immoral or scurrilous" material. Yan Shi of the Concordia Chinese Students Association said Lin's family remains in Montreal, but he hasn't heard any reaction from them to Magnotta's return. The family traveled to Canada from China upon learning of Lin's death. Police said Magnotta and Lin, 33, were in a relationship. Magnotta pleads not guilty Jun 19, 2012 Associated Press MONTREAL (AP) A Canadian porn actor accused of dismembering his Chinese lover and mailing the body parts to political parties and schools pleaded not guilty Tuesday to five charges including first degree murder. Luka Magnotta entered his plea before a judge via videoconference from a Montreal detention center. It was his first hearing since being extradited to Canada under very tight security from Germany, where he was arrested after an international manhunt. His lawyer, Pierre Panaccio, requested that Magnotta be evaluated by a psychiatrist to determine his criminal responsibility. The court will consider that request Thursday. Magnotta, 29, is suspected of killing Jun Lin, a 33-year-old a computer science student at Concordia University, and sending his feet and hands to Canada's top political parties and two schools. The head is still missing, and police said they would ask Magnotta where it is. Investigators say Magnotta also posted a video online showing him having sex with the dismembered corpse. A second, unedited version of the video seen by police shows him eating parts of the body. Police say Magnotta and Lin were in a relationship. During the hearing, Magnotta stood silently between two guards, handcuffed and wearing a brown shirt. He said just one word to his defense lawyer. Panaccio told his client that he hoped to speak with him later Tuesday. "If you wish to call me at home tonight, I'd be pleased to talk about this," Panaccio told Magnotta. "Okay," the suspect replied before being led away to detention. His appearance lasted about three minutes. Magnotta faces charges including first-degree murder, defiling a corpse, threatening the prime minister and using the mail system for delivering "obscene, indecent, immoral or scurrilous" material. Prosecutor Helene DiSalvo said authorities will meet with Lin's family, who traveled to Canada after hearing of his death. She said finding the head is important to both the case and the victim's family. The case became known when a package containing a severed foot was found at Canada's ruling Conservative Party headquarters on May 29. That same day, a hand was discovered at a postal facility, addressed to the Liberal Party of Canada. Lin's torso was found in a suitcase at a garbage dump in Montreal outside Magnotta's apartment building. About a week later, the missing foot and hand were found mailed to two schools in Vancouver. Police said notes were included in most of the packages but declined to say what they said. Magnotta, who fled to Canada before the killing was discovered, spent a few days partying in Paris before moving on to Berlin, where he was caught earlier this month as he read stories about himself at an Internet cafe. He did not contest his extradition from Germany and arrived Monday in Montreal on a military plane. Police called the Canadian military flight an extraordinary measure. Police said preliminary checks with private airlines suggested it would be difficult to use a standard commercial carrier to get Magnotta home. Among the problems: the airline would have had to vacate an entire section of seats around the suspect. China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Tuesday that China was monitoring developments and hoped that there would be justice to give "the victim a result that can have him rest in peace." Magnotta trial starts next year Jun 21, 2012 Associated Press MONTREAL (AP) A Canadian porn actor accused of dismembering his Chinese lover and mailing his body parts around the country appeared in person before a judge for the first time and requested a trial by jury. The parents of Luka Magnotta's alleged victim watched on a video screen at the Thursday hearing. Magnotta's lawyer did not seek a psychiatric evaluation for his client at the hearing in Montreal, even though the defense team had said it would. Defense attorney Luc Leclair offered no explanation about why no evaluation was requested. Magnotta, 29, has pleaded not guilty to five charges, including first-degree murder, in the death of university student Jun Lin. The hearing focused on setting the date for Magnotta's next court appearance. The suspect was told he would face a preliminary hearing in March when evidence against him will be disclosed. That means it will be well into next year before the trial starts in a case that horrified Canadians and sparked an international manhunt that led to Magnotta's arrest in Berlin earlier this month. Jean-Pascal Boucher of the Quebec prosecutors' office said it was "normal delay" and the court date was "relatively soon considering the availability of both counsel and the judge and room." Leclair asked for trial by jury, which would take longer than a trial before a judge. He also told Judge Jean-Pierre Boyer he was concerned his client wasn't receiving proper care. "I want to express my concern for his physical well-being and his mental well-being," Leclair said. The judge agreed to make a request to ensure that Magnotta received medication, but he placed a publication ban on the type of medication. Magnotta's physical appearance in court was a surprise. Security around the suspect has been very strict, and he entered his plea of not guilty via videoconference at his arraignment Tuesday. Wearing a plaid shirt and jeans, Magnotta kept his eye on the judge from behind a glass partition, flanked by two guards. Four other guards stood outside the glass box. Lin's parents, who traveled to Canada from China upon learning of their son's death, watched the proceedings on a screen in a separate room, Boucher said. The case emerged after a package containing a severed foot was opened at Canada's ruling Conservative Party headquarters on May 29. Other body parts were later found at a postal facility, a garbage dump outside Magnotta's apartment building in Montreal, and in packages mailed to two schools in Vancouver. Investigators say Magnotta posted a video online showing him having sex with the dismembered corpse. A second, unedited version of the video seen by police shows him eating parts of the body. DNA tests have confirmed that all the body parts belong to Lin, a Chinese national studying computer science at Concordia University. His head is still missing. Police say head belongs Canada body parts victim July 4, 2012 Associated Press MONTREAL (AP) A human head found in a park belongs to a Chinese student who police say was dismembered by a Canadian porn actor, authorities in Montreal confirmed Wednesday. The head of Jun Lin was the last body part still missing since he was killed and dismembered in May. Luka Magnotta is accused of dismembering his lover Lin and mailing the body parts to Canadian political parties and schools. He pleaded not guilty to murder charges last month. Lin's head was the only remaining missing body part until Sunday, when Lemieux said investigators found it in Park Angrignon after the major crimes unit received a tip. The park is a few miles (kilometers) south of Magnotta's apartment. "It had been there for quite some time, but we won't go into details, partly out of respect for the family and friends of the victim," said Lemieux. "What is important is what we were looking for has been found and the rest of the investigation can continue." Montreal police spokesman Robert St-Onge said police now believe that they have recovered all of Lin's remains. He said the family, which has been seeking closure, has been informed. Investigators say Magnotta, 29, posted a video online showing him having sex with the dismembered corpse. A second, unedited version of the video seen by police shows him eating parts of the body. Police say Magnotta and Lin were in a relationship. The case became known when a package containing a severed foot was found at Canada's ruling Conservative Party headquarters on May 29. That same day, a hand was discovered at a postal facility, addressed to the Liberal Party of Canada. Lin's torso was found in a suitcase at a garbage dump in Montreal outside Magnotta's apartment building. About a week later, a missing foot and hand were found mailed to two schools in Vancouver. Police said notes were included in most of the packages but declined to say what they said. Magnotta, who fled to Europe before the body was discovered, spent a few days partying in Paris before moving on to Berlin, where he was caught last month as he read stories about himself at an Internet cafe. He did not contest his extradition from Germany and arrived in Montreal last month on a Canadian military plane. Lin's family arrived in Montreal last month and attended a memorial service last week. Lin, 33, studied computer science student at Montreal's Concordia University. Magnotta has opted for a jury trial and is expected to have a preliminary hearing next March. Along with a first-degree murder charge, Magnotta is charged with defiling Lin's corpse. He is also charged with harassing Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and members of Parliament, and publishing and mailing obscene material. US recovers apparent remains of WWII airmen PHIL COUVRETTE, Associated Press Monday, July 30, 2012 OTTAWA (AP) U.S. divers searching the wreckage of a U.S. Army amphibious plane that went down in the St. Lawrence River during World War II have recovered what appear to be remains of the crew that went missing nearly seven decades ago. The plane, a PBY-5A Catalina based in Presque Isle, Maine, had completed the first leg of a routine flight and was taking off for the return trip to base when it capsized in rough weather in the eastern Gulf of Saint Lawrence on Nov. 2, 1942. Four of the nine people on board were pulled to safety before the plane sank. Parks Canada discovered the plane in 2009 while conducting a survey near the village of Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan in eastern Quebec. Earlier this month, the Joint Prisoners of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command, a federal agency that works to recover members of the military who are missing in action, dispatched a 50-person team on the USS Grapple to investigate the site in the hopes of recovering the remains of the missing. Marc-Andre Bernier, the chief underwater archaeologist for Parks Canada, said from the vessel Monday that some of what appears to be remains has been found and will be sent to a lab to be identified. The search teams were withholding further details out of respect for the families, he said. The remains were to be transported to a laboratory in Hawaii. Divers also found a trove of items that amounts to a time capsule of the war years, he said. Sunglasses, navigation and radio equipment, kitchen items as well as a log of operations were recovered. "The paper is still readable, you can see the typewritten print, it's a list of procedures for the radio," he said. "It's quite phenomenal." The plane had been left undisturbed until the U.S. divers arrived, Bernier said, save for the intrusion of cameras to have an idea of the conditions inside. Members of the public also made sure the site remained undisturbed over the years, he said. The plane was serving an emergency airfield in Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan during the war as part of a corridor linking the U.S. to Europe. After failing to take off following a first attempt, due to high waves, the plane attempted a second takeoff at higher speed but hit a large wave which opened a leak, flooding it with water. Local fishermen were able to pull the survivors to safety despite the rough seas, according to accounts of the incident. U.S. officials say the search for the more than 83,000 Americans missing from past conflicts remains of utmost importance. "This recovery effort is a solemn and significant undertaking," U.S. Consul General Peter O'Donohue said in a statement on the recovery operation. "For the United States, this is a sacred mission to honor those who served their country to the last." Woman drowns while getting wedding photos taken Associated Press August 24, 2012, 9:30 PM RAWDON, Quebec - A woman drowned after being pulled under the water by a strong current while she was having photos taken in her wedding dress near waterfalls, Quebec police said Friday. Sgt. Ronald McInnis of the Quebec provincial police said her body was recovered about four hours after she disappeared under the water. Police had originally said she fell from a cliff and tumbled into the waterfall but later corrected that. The woman was married on June 9 and was having photos taken in her dress with the picturesque Dorwin Falls as a backdrop in Rawdon, north of Montreal. While she was being photographed with her feet in the water the dress became saturated with water, leaving her unable to stay above water, police said. The photographer and a bystander tried to rescue her but were unable to because of the weight of the dress, McInnis said. She slipped under the water and her body was later recovered in a basin about 100 feet away by a diver, he said. McInnis said family members at the location Friday evening. He said two witnesses had to be hospitalized and treated for shock. Police investigate massive maple syrup theft August 31, 2012 ST-LOUIS-DE-BLANDFORD, Quebec (AP) Police in Quebec were following the scent of something sweet millions of dollars' worth of maple syrup missing from a large warehouse stocking over $30 million worth of the amber nectar. The theft puts a cavity-sized dent in Quebec's syrup stock, considered to be a global strategic reserve of the sweet stuff that is often used to replenish markets during disappointing seasons. Quebec produces up to 80 percent of the world's maple syrup. Quebec Provincial Sgt. Claude Denis said Friday it was too soon to determine the exact quantity or value of the maple syrup stolen from the St. Louis-De-Blandford facility where over 10 million pounds (4.54 million kilograms) is stored. The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers said it discovered the missing syrup last week during a routine inventory where empty barrels were found at the site at St-Louis-de-Blandford, Quebec. Officials initially kept the news quiet, hoping it would help police solve the crime. Anne-Marie Granger Godbout, the executive director of the federation, said that while it isn't unusual for individual maple syrup producers to have stock stolen, having millions worth of syrup stolen is "unusual". "It's the first time something like this has happened," she said. "We've never seen a robbery of this magnitude." She said the disappearance of the stock wasn't obvious at first in the huge warehouse. The facility alone houses nearly the equivalent of half the entire U.S. production of maple syrup in a year, she said. "The U.S. market is the main market for maple syrup, about 75 percent of Canadian maple syrup is directly exported to the U.S.," she said. She noted the theft was particularly ill-timed after a disappointing 2012 season for U.S. producers, triggering more demand for Canadian syrup. She said auditors would require a few more days to determine how many of the 45-gallon barrels have been emptied. Theft of stock at the individual producer level prompted the industry in Quebec to group inventory in locations such as this, Granger Godbout said. Quebec separatist party may return to power PHIL COUVRETTE, Associated Press Sept. 3, 2012 GATINEAU, Quebec - Voters in Quebec head to the polls Tuesday in an election that may see a separatist party return to power, potentially placing the French-speaking province on course for another referendum to break away from Canada. Liberal leader Jean Charest, who has headed Quebec for nearly a decade, called an early election on Aug. 1, and has consistently trailed in the polls to Pauline Marois' Parti Quebecois. But some polls indicate Marois - who could become the province's first female premier - may not have enough votes to obtain a majority of the seats in the Quebec Assembly, undermining efforts to quickly hold a referendum on separation. Quebec has held two referendums to split from Canada, in 1980 and 1995, the last narrowly rejecting independence. Polls show there's little appetite for a new referendum and Marois herself has left much uncertainty about if and when one would be held under a PQ government. A recent poll showed support for independence under 30 percent but analysts say voters are weary of the Liberals after three terms in office and the PQ are expected to benefit from that. The PQ has said once elected it would seek a transfer of powers from the federal government in areas like employment insurance and immigration policy. The PQ believes if this is turned down it would bolster their case that Quebec should be a separate country. The campaign has been a three-way race involving a new party, Coalition Avenir Quebec, headed by a former PQ minister who says the separation issue has paralyzed the province for far too long. Charest called the election more than a year before he had to, citing unrest in the streets due to this spring's student protests over tuition hikes. The most sustained student protests ever to take place in Canada began in February, resulting in about 2,500 arrests. Polls showed the Quebecois were more likely to side with the government on the need for a tuition hike, but they were divided on an emergency law brought in place to limit demonstrations. Politicians and rights groups have said the legislation restricts the right to demonstrate. But education was hardly a major topic during the campaign, Charest seeking to focus voters on the need to maintain a stable government promoting job creation during troubled global economic times instead of electing separatists who would create uncertainty. He stressed his province has largely been spared the economic hardships seen elsewhere in the West. Charest has notably touted a northern development plan, the Plan Nord, which his party says would see $80 billion in public and private investment over the next 25 years in areas such as mining and energy, creating thousands of jobs annually and benefiting the entire province. But Marois says the companies doing business wouldn't be paying enough royalties and CAQ leader Francois Legault said foreign companies mostly stood to benefit from the project. Both PQ and Liberals said they would make it harder for foreign companies to take over Canadian ones, an issue brought to the fore as Mooresville, North Carolina-based Lowe's seeks to take over Quebec-based hardware chain Rona. Critics say Charest called the snap vote to avoid any embarrassment from an ongoing corruption inquiry into the province's construction industry, which is expected to resume after a summer break and has been largely overshadowed by the student protests. After nine years the Quebecois have grown wary of the Liberals and are reluctant to re-elect them considering the corruption allegations and a student unrest that evolved into a larger social protest, says Concordia political science professor Bruce Hicks. "Quebecers tend to tire of the government and throw them out," he says. "It's sort of been the tradition in Quebec politics." But Hicks still considers the election "up for grabs" considering the number of people who remain uncertain about how they will vote. Two-thirds of Quebec voters want nothing to do with sovereignty, Hicks says. But even if it doesn't come to a new referendum, the election of a PQ government would make for tense relations with the federal government and a conservative prime minister who has difficulty appealing to the Quebecois. "At the very least the rhetoric is going to increase but I suspect tensions and conflict will rise as well," he says. Polls open in election that may see Quebec separatist party return to power By PHIL COUVRETTE, Associated Press Sep 4, 2012 MONTREAL (AP) People in Quebec weighed returning a separatist party to power as they voted Tuesday in the French-speaking province, which could edge toward another referendum to break away from Canada if the Parti Quebecois ends nearly a decade of Liberal rule as expected. Liberal leader Jean Charest, who has headed Quebec for nearly a decade, has consistently trailed in the polls to Pauline Marois' Parti Quebecois since he called an early election on Aug. 1. But most polls indicate Marois who could become the province's first female premier will not have enough votes to obtain a majority of the seats in the Quebec Assembly, undermining efforts to quickly hold a referendum on separation. Quebec has held two referendums to split from Canada, in 1980 and 1995, the last narrowly rejecting independence. Polls show there's little appetite for a new referendum and Marois herself has left much uncertainty about if and when one would be held under a PQ government. A recent poll showed support for independence under 30 percent, but analysts say voters are weary of the Liberals after three terms in office. Quebec voters became tired of the Liberal party after corruption allegations surfaced against the party and student protests erupted this spring, said Bruce Hicks, a political science professor at Concordia University in Montreal. "Quebecers tend to tire of the government and throw them out," he said. "It's sort of been the tradition in Quebec politics." Voting was swift in many corners of the province, with more than half of voters casting ballots almost three hours before the polls closed at 8 p.m. EDT (1200 GMT), according to election officials. Ballot counting started shortly afterward. Walking out of a downtown Montreal polling station, Djessy Monnier, 41, said it was time for a change of government and he voted for the PQ. However, he said a third referendum shouldn't be a priority. "Someone is going to have to find a solution to the student conflict," he said. Voters elect representatives for seats in Quebec's 125 districts, a single party needs to obtain 63 seats to form a majority. Without a majority a party will need to form a coalition to govern. When the legislature was dissolved the Liberals held 64 seats and the PQ 47 with other parties and independents dividing the rest of the seats. One seat was vacant. "This could be a historic day as we could elect a first woman head of state in Quebec," Marois said before voting. More autonomy for Quebec is high on the agenda for the PQ, which has said it would seek a transfer of powers from the federal government in areas like employment insurance and immigration policy. If those measures are rejected, the party believes it would have a stronger case for independence. Visiting a candidate's constituency office north of Montreal, a crucial battle zone, Charest said Tuesday that Quebec's electors had to choose between "stability, jobs and the economy and those who would propose referendums and instability." The campaign has been a three-way race involving a new party, Coalition Avenir Quebec, headed by former PQ minister Francois Legault, who says the separation issue has paralyzed the province for far too long. Entering his polling station to vote, Legault said he was confident of the day's results. "This is a historic day, a new era is beginning," he said, adding it was time to "put aside disagreements on referendums and begin a new change, a cleanup and re-launch of Quebec." Charest called the election more than a year before he had to, citing unrest in the streets due to this spring's student protests over tuition hikes. The most sustained student protests ever to take place in Canada began in February, resulting in about 2,500 arrests. Polls showed the Quebecois were more likely to side with the government on the need for a tuition hike, but they were divided on an emergency law brought in place to limit demonstrations. Politicians and rights groups have said the legislation restricts the right to demonstrate. Education was hardly a major topic during the campaign. Charest sought to focus voters on the need to maintain a stable government promoting job creation during troubled global economic times, instead of electing separatists who would create uncertainty. He stressed his province has largely been spared the economic hardships seen elsewhere in the West. Charest has notably touted a northern development plan, the Plan Nord, which his party says would see $80 billion in public and private investment over the next 25 years in areas such as mining and energy, creating thousands of jobs annually and benefiting the entire province. But Marois says the companies doing business wouldn't pay enough royalties. Legault said foreign companies mostly stood to benefit from the project. Both PQ and the Liberals said they would make it harder for foreign companies to take over Canadian entities, an issue brought to the fore as North Carolina-based Lowe's seeks to take over Quebec-based hardware chain Rona. Critics say Charest called the snap vote to avoid any embarrassment from an ongoing corruption inquiry into the province's construction industry, which is expected to resume after a summer break and has been largely overshadowed by the student protests. But Hicks, the political scientist, still considers the election "up for grabs" considering the number of people who remain uncertain about how they will vote. Two-thirds of Quebec voters want nothing to do with sovereignty, Hicks says. But even if it doesn't come to a new referendum, the election of a PQ government would make for tense relations with the federal government and a conservative prime minister who has difficulty appealing to the Quebecois. "At the very least the rhetoric is going to increase but I suspect tensions and conflict will rise as well," he says. Separatist party wins power in Quebec By PHIL COUVRETTE, Associated Press Sep 5, 2012 MONTREAL A separatist party won power in the French-speaking province of Quebec on Tuesday night, but another referendum to break away from Canada isnt expected any time soon after the party failed to win a majority of legislative seats. Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois, who becomes Quebecs first female premier, replaces Liberal Jean Charest, Quebecs leader for nearly a decade. With opinion polls showing little popular appetite for a new separatist referendum, Marois herself has left much uncertainty about if and when one would be held under a government her party leads. But more autonomy for Quebec is high on the agenda for her party, which has said it would seek a transfer of powers from the federal government in areas like employment insurance and immigration policy. If those measures are rejected, the party believes it would have a stronger case for independence. Without a majority in the Quebec Assembly, however, the party will need to work with other parties to pass legislation, and the results will undermine efforts to quickly hold a referendum on separation. Shooter mars election win in Quebec By PHIL COUVRETTE, Associated Press Sep 5, 2012 MONTREAL A gunman has opened fire during a midnight victory rally for Quebec's new premier, killing one person and wounding another. The new premier, Pauline Marois of the separatist Parti Quebecois (PQ), was whisked off the stage while giving her speech and uninjured. It was not clear if the gunman was trying to shoot Marois, whose party favours separation for the French-speaking province from Canada. Police identified the gunman only as a 50-year-old man and said he opened fire in the back of the hall while Marois was giving her victory speech to hundreds of supporters at the Metropolis auditorium. The gunman then fled outside where he set a small fire before he was captured, police said. Police said they didn't know the gunman's motive, but said that as he was being dragged towards the police cruiser, the suspect shouted in French, "The English are waking up!" Marois returned to the stage after the shooting and asked the crowd to peacefully disperse. The attack shocked Canadians who are not used to such violence at political events. The suspect was wearing a blue bathrobe over black clothes. Camera footage showed a pistol and a rifle at the scene. Emergency medical workers said one victim was pronounced dead at the scene and a second person was wounded. A third person was treated for shock. The separatist party won the election, but failed to win a majority of legislative seats. Though the Parti Quebecois wants the province to break away from Canada, its victory is unlikely to signal a new push for independence. Opinion polls show little appetite for a separatist referendum after previous ones had been rejected by voters in 1980 and 1995. Marois herself has left much uncertainty about if and when one would be held. But her party will push for more autonomy from the federal government. The attack took place just after Marois began speaking in English - a rare occurrence in a speech at a partisan PQ event. She had promised English-speaking Quebecers that their rights would be protected, following an emotionally charged campaign that saw her party focus on language-and-identity issues. Earlier in the evening, people in the crowd booed when they heard outgoing Liberal Premier Jean Charest speak English in his concession speech. Charest spent nearly 10 years in power. Suspect IDed in Quebec election rally shooting By PHIL COUVRETTE and ROB GILLIES Sep. 5, 2012 7:05 PM MONTREAL (AP) Police interrogated a man accused of opening fire at a midnight victory rally for Quebec's new separatist premier, but they said the suspect's rambling statements in French and English offered no immediate motive for the shooting that killed one man and wounded another. A police official on Wednesday identified the suspect as Richard Henry Bain, 62, from La Conception, Quebec. The police official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the suspect had not been charged. Police said Bain will likely appear in court Thursday morning. Meanwhile, people who know Bain, the owner of a hunting and fishing resort, recalled his complaints about bureaucracy but could think of no political grievances he held. Quebec provincial police said the masked gunman wearing a bathrobe opened fire just outside the building where Pauline Marois of the separatist Parti Quebecois was giving her victory speech. The gunman was heard shouting "The English are waking up!" in French as police dragged him away. Marois was whisked off the stage by guards and was not injured. She later called the shooting an isolated event and said it was probably a case of a person who has "serious health issues." "I am deeply affected by this, but I have to go forward and assume my responsibilities," Quebec's first female premier said Wednesday, calling Quebec a non-violent society. "An act of folly cannot rid us of this reality." The attack shocked Canadians who are not used to such violence at political events and have long worried that gun violence more often seen in the U.S. could become more common in their country. Police said a 48-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene and a 27-year-old man was wounded but would survive. A third man was treated for shock. Police didn't identify the victims, but they worked at production company Productions du Grand Bambou Inc, a person answering the phone at the Montreal company confirmed. It was not clear if the gunman was trying to shoot Marois, whose party favors separation from Canada for the French-speaking province. Marois had just declared her firm conviction that Quebec needs to be a sovereign country when she was pulled off the stage. "What's going on?" she asked her security detail. The crowd apparently was unaware of what had happened. Marois said that when she first went backstage, she saw that someone was wounded and there was a fire outside, but she thought everything was under control. Police initially said the gunman made it into the building, but later said they believe he opened fire just outside in the back alley. The gunman then lit a small fire before he was captured, police said. He didn't put up any resistance, said Lieut. Guy Lapointe of the provincial police. "We can't establish at this point what the motive or intent was," Lapointe said. "Was he targeting Madame Marois? I'll tell you a lot of things were said by this individual after they arrested him, in French and English." Police had dealt with the suspect previously for a minor incident, Lapointe said. Marois later returned to the stage and asked the crowd to disperse peacefully, and then seemed to finish her speech. She left the hall amid a tight cordon of provincial police bodyguards. The suspect was a heavy-set man wearing a black ski or balaclava mask, glasses and a blue bathrobe over a black shirt and black shorts. Police didn't identify what weapons he had, but camera footage showed a pistol and a rifle at the scene. Police said there is no reason to believe anyone else was involved. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement that he was "angered and saddened" by the shooting. "It is a tragic day where an exercise of democracy is met with an act of violence," Harper said. Outgoing Liberal Premier Jean Charest, who announced he is stepping down as party leader after ruling Quebec for nearly a decade, said "Quebec has been struck directly in the heart" by the shooting. Bain owns a hunting and fishing resort near the ski resort area of Mont Tremblant, Quebec, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) north of Montreal. A list of members of the Mont Tremblant Chamber of Commerce describes Richard Bain as the owner of Les Activités Rick, which promotes itself as a major fly-fishing destination. The site was pulled down Wednesday with the message "This account has been suspended." The phone number listed was out of service. Marie-France Brisson, director general in the municipality of La Conception, said Bain frequently met with community officials, notably to expand his outdoor activities. His requests included exclusive rights to local land, which involved complicated processes that sometimes frustrated him, she said. Brisson said Bain dealt with them in French, not English, though it was broken French. He complained about red tape, but there were no outbursts about language, she added. Brisson said she last saw Bain in recent weeks and there was no change in his usual demeanor. Jean Benoit Daigneault, of tour and charter helicopter company Heli-tremblant, said he and Bain met on a few occasions, but he wasn't aware of any grievances Bain had with the Parti Quebecois. Wednesday morning's attack took place just after Marois began speaking in English a rare occurrence in a speech at a partisan PQ event. She had promised English-speaking Quebecers that their rights would be protected, following an emotionally charged campaign that saw her party focus on language-and-identity issues. The party's victory is unlikely to signal a new push for independence. Opinion polls show little appetite for a separatist referendum. Previous referendums on separatism were rejected by voters in 1980 and 1995. The last outbreak of major political violence in Quebec occurred in the 1970s, when Canadian soldiers were deployed after terrorist acts by a group seeking independence. Members of the militant FLQ kidnapped and killed Quebec's labor minister and later abducted, then freed, a British diplomat. The "October Crisis" was considered one of the darkest periods in modern Canadian history. Quebec election shooting suspect faces 16 charges By PHIL COUVRETTE, Associated Press Sep 6, 2012 MONTREAL (AP) The suspect in a deadly shooting at a rally following the election of Quebec's new separatist premier was arraigned Thursday on 16 charges, including murder, attempted murder and possession of explosives. Richard Henry Bain, 61, of La Conception, Quebec, made his first appearance in court behind protective glass after being accused of opening fire outside the midnight victory rally Tuesday for Pauline Marois of the Parti Quebecois. Prosecutors said that after the shooting, Bain used a flare to light a small fire. The heavyset Bain, dressed in white, appeared calm and alert during his appearance in the highly secured courtroom. He spoke briefly with his court-appointed lawyer but did not address the court, and there was no plea. Bain is scheduled to return to court Oct. 11. The shooting killed Denis Blanchette, 48, and wounded a 27-year-old just outside a Montreal theater. The suspect's gun jammed after the initial shots were fired, a Quebec police official said Thursday, possibly saving lives. Prosecutor Eliane Perreault said outside the courtroom that Bain had two weapons on him and three more in his car nearby. She said the weapon used in the shooting was a legally registered long gun. Weapons charges include negligent storage of weapons and ammunition. Among the weapons in his possession were a 9 mm Luger, a Beretta, a Ceska Zbrojovka carbine, a semi-automatic 22LR and .357 Magnum revolver. Bain, who owns a hunting and fishing lodge, had many more guns at home including shotguns, almost all of which were registered, Perreault said. When asked if Bain targeted the premier, Perreault said only that there might be additional charges. She said authorities were continuing to investigate the motive. Bain was in a "proper state of mind" to appear in court after spending some time in a hospital, she said. Elferide Duclercville, Bain's court-appointed lawyer, said she had not been able to meet her client before court and was rushing after the hearing to continue their brief discussion of a few seconds while he was in the box. Police have said there is no reason to believe anyone else was involved in the shooting. Marois was whisked off the stage by guards and was not injured. She called the shooting an isolated event and said it was probably a case of a person who has "serious health issues." The attack shocked Canadians, who are not used to such violence at political events and have long worried that gun violence more often seen in the U.S. could become more common in their country. Neighbors and acquaintances of Bain said he was a friendly but often frustrated businessman who had overseen several failed ventures but never had any public outbursts, leaving them to wonder how he could be charged with such crimes. The masked gunman, wearing a bathrobe, was shown on television ranting and shouting "The English are waking up!" in French as police dragged him away after Tuesday's shooting. He didn't put up any resistance, said Lieut. Guy Lapointe of the provincial police. People who know Bain, whose lodge is 90 miles (145 kilometers) north of Montreal, recalled his complaints about bureaucracy but could think of no political grievances he held. The mayor of La Conception, Maurice Plouffe, said he was "very surprised" to hear Bain was tied to the shooting and said the images of the suspect being dragged away by police "were not easy to watch." Plouffe said Bain was sometimes frustrated in his dealings with the city after seeing a number of zoning requests were rebuffed, but he added, "I have never seen him become aggressive; he was quite normal." A man full of ideas and proposals, Bain, however, seemed unlucky in his business ventures. "He had many projects, but not many of them materialized," Plouffe said. A list of members of the Mont Tremblant Chamber of Commerce describes Richard Bain as the owner of Les Activités Rick, which promotes itself as a major fly-fishing destination. The shooting victims worked at production company Productions du Grand Bambou Inc, a person answering the phone at the Montreal company confirmed. Friends of Blanchette, a lighting technician, packed a downtown Montreal street Wednesday night for a candlelight vigil outside the hall where he was killed. It was still not clear if the gunman was trying to shoot Marois, whose party favors separation from Canada for the French-speaking province. Marois had just declared her firm conviction that Quebec needs to be a sovereign country when she was pulled off the stage. "What's going on?" she asked her security detail. The crowd apparently was unaware of what had happened. The separatist Parti Quebecois party's victory is unlikely to signal a new push for independence. Opinion polls show little appetite for a separatist referendum. Previous referendums on separatism were rejected by voters in 1980 and 1995. Canada severs all ties with Iran Sept. 08, 2012 Associated Press TORONTO - Canada shut its embassy in Tehran on Friday, severed diplomatic relations and ordered Iranian diplomats to leave, accusing the Islamic Republic of being the most significant threat to world peace. The surprise action reinforces the Conservative government's close ties with Tehran's arch foe Israel but also removes some of Washington's eyes and ears inside the Iranian capital. It comes as Iran's talks with world powers over its nuclear program have stalled, and Israel is weighing the option of a military strike to prevent it from developing atomic weapons. Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful objectives only. The move also underscores the widening gaps between Western countries' attempts to isolate and punish Iran and Tehran's efforts to forge closer ties with energy-hungry Asian trading partners such as India and Pakistan to counter Western sanctions. Iran's recent push to bolster and redefine its links with Asia makes the break with Canada a less serious blow to Tehran than it would have been years ago. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said that the Canadian Embassy in Tehran would close immediately and Iranian diplomats in Canada have been given five days to leave. A spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry, Ramin Mehmanparast, called Canada's decision "hasty and extreme" and said that Iran would soon respond, the semiofficial Fars news agency reported. A note in Persian posted on the door of Iran's embassy in Ottawa read: "Because of the hostile decision by the government of Canada, the embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Ottawa is closed and has no choice but to stop providing any consular services for its dear citizens." Baird said Canada was officially designating Iran a state sponsor of terrorism and gave a long list of reasons for Canada's decision, including Tehran's support for Syria's embattled President Bashar al-Assad in that country's civil war. "The Iranian regime is providing increasing military assistance to the Assad regime; it refuses to comply with U.N. resolutions pertaining to its nuclear program; it routinely threatens the existence of Israel and engages in racist anti-Semitic rhetoric and incitement to genocide," Baird said in a statement. "It is among the world's worst violators of human rights; and it shelters and materially supports terrorist groups." Baird said he also was worried about the safety of diplomats in Tehran following attacks on the British embassy. Britain downgraded ties with Iran following an attack on its embassy in Tehran in November 2011, which it insists was sanctioned by the Islamic Republic's ruling elite. After the attack, Britain pulled all of its diplomats out of Iran and expelled Iranian diplomats from U.K. soil. UN chief gets pranked by Quebec radio station By MARIA SANMINIATELLI and PHIL COUVRETTE Associated Press Fri, Sep 28, 2012 UNITED NATIONS (AP) Former victims include Bill Gates, Mick Jagger, Britney Spears and Sarah Palin. This week, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon joined the ranks of those pranked by a Quebec radio station, his office confirmed Thursday. Montreal comedy duo Marc-Antoine Audette and Sebastien Trudel called Ban on Wednesday afternoon and pretended to be Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. "He quickly realized it was a prank ... and he took it as it was intended: as a joke," said Eri Kaneko, associate spokeswoman for Ban's office. Known as the Masked Avengers, the two are notorious for prank calls to celebrities and heads of state. The duo said in a news release that the world's top diplomat was rushed out of an important meeting to speak to them. Quebec City radio station CKOI played excerpts of the prank Thursday, and was planning on broadcasting the entire call Friday. During the call, Ban appears to become suspicious when fake Harper complains he was too busy combing his hair with Krazy Glue to attend this week's ministerial meeting of the U.N. General Assembly a clear dig at the Canadian prime minister's immaculate hairdo. "Excuse me, am I speaking with Prime Minister Harper right now?" Ban is quoted as saying. Fake Harper begins the call in French by explaining why he sent his "lap dog," Foreign Minister John Baird to New York in his place. Audette said he was surprised by how quickly they got to Ban after talking to about half a dozen people on the phone. "We thought it would take us a few days to get the secretary-general on the phone," he said. Audette played Harper, while Trudel acted as his aide. The joke on Ban came during his busiest week of the year, when leaders from all over the world converge to headquarters in New York. "Perhaps this was not the best use of his time," Kaneko said. "In the future, we will be listening extra hard for poor French accents for any calls coming from Canada." Nevertheless, Ban was a good sport, the prankster said. "He was very cool about it, even laughed," Audette said. "He's very likeable." "Well played," Harper's spokesman tweeted about the prank. Son of late Trudeau to run for Liberal leadership PHIL COUVRETTE October 2, 2012 09:10 PM EST MONTREAL (AP) Hoping to turn around the fortunes of Canada's once-dominant Liberal Party, the eldest son of the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau announced Tuesday evening he was following his father's footsteps and launching his bid to obtain the party's leadership. Justin Trudeau, 40, a charismatic member of Parliament since 2008, made the announcement in front of hundreds of supporters packing a community center in his Montreal district, ending days of speculation and adding sizzle to the political contest which officially begins next month and ends in April 2013. Many Liberals hoped Trudeau would run for the leadership of a party that ruled Canada for much of the last century but was regulated to third-party status in the last election. "I am in love with Canada. I want to dedicate my life to serve it," Trudeau said in French. Pierre Trudeau, who died at age 80 in 2000, was prime minister for almost all of a 16-year stretch from 1968-84. Sweeping to power on a wave of support nicknamed "Trudeaumania," Trudeau had a charisma reminiscent of another young, dashing politician who had captivated the U.S. eight years earlier former President John F. Kennedy. Trudeau's sophisticated, sometimes irreverent style fascinated and captivated his country. Justin Trudeau was born while his father was prime minister, on Christmas Day, 1971. Justin gave a moving eulogy at his father's state funeral which fed early speculation he would one day seek office, years before he eventually joined the ranks of his father's party. He said Tuesday he's determined to breathe new life into a party he says has lost touch with middle-class Canadians. He said Canadian families have seen their incomes stagnant, their costs go up and their debts explode. He said the opposition New Democrats have stoked regional resentment and blamed the successful while the ruling Conservatives have chosen to favor western Canada's oil sector and promised that wealth will trickle down eventually. "Both are tidy ideological answers to complex and difficult questions. The only thing they have in common is that they are both, equally, wrong," Trudeau said. He said solutions can come from both the right and left and said he will create policies based on facts. Analysts say Trudeau will have to make it clear his candidacy is more than just about his youthful charm and familiar name. Trudeau is a big draw at Liberal fundraisers and polls have shown the former teacher to be a party favorite reaching rock-star like status. Some observers fear Trudeau's leadership bid packs such punch it may turn into a coronation of the party's next leader, scaring away potential contenders. But critics have called him a political lightweight, saying little about major policy issues in his roles overseeing youth, amateur sport and immigration. "The impression this leaves an outside observer is if he wasn't called Trudeau, no one would be talking about any political ambition," University of Montreal political scientist Pierre Martin said. "We have someone here with a thin CV." His name and recognition will put him in the spotlight but as a whole he has yet to articulate a clear vision in public, Martin said Trudeau only jumped into politics four years ago, but turned down offers to represent a usually safe riding to take on a stronghold of the separatist Bloc Quebecois, which he won. He increased his margin of victory in last year's election. But the Liberal Party fared poorly in the 2011 election, finishing in third for the first time in Canadian history and seeing the latest in a succession of party leaders fail to inspire electors amid non-stop attack TV ads by the ruling Conservatives. It remains to be seen what kind of attack ads the Conservatives will run against a popular Trudeau should he become Liberal leader. Former colleagues of current Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper say his long-term goals are to shatter the image of the Liberals the party of former Prime Ministers Trudeau, Jean Chretien and Lester Pearson as the natural party of government in Canada, and to redefine what it means to be Canadian. Police seize more than 600 barrels of maple syrup Wednesday - 10/3/2012, 8:34pm EDT KEDJWICK, New Brunswick (AP) - Police in Canada have seized more than 600 barrels of maple syrup in New Brunswick as part of an investigation into the theft of millions worth of syrup in Quebec and are transporting it back to Quebec under police protection, officials said Wednesday. The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers reported large quantities of syrup missing last month during a routine inventory, finding empty barrels at a site of the province's global strategic reserve at St-Louis-de-Blandford. Quebec provincial police Sgt. Christine Coulombe said Wednesday police executed a search warrant in Kedjwick, New Brunswick last week, but could not provide more information as the investigation was ongoing. However, the owner of Kedjwick-based exporter S.K. Export Inc. said police visited last week and told him it was related to the missing syrup. Etienne St-Pierre said his usual suppliers, small producers based in Quebec, sold it to him. This has left the New Brunswick exporter in a sticky situation. He's been locked out of his office, which he said is under Royal Canadian Mounted Police watch. "They came in and said we're taking everything, there wasn't much I could do," said Etienne St-Pierre, who said he initially thought the officers were joking. Saying he has nothing to hide, Etienne St. Pierre has since shown all his paperwork to investigators trying to get to the bottom of the great syrup heist. The shipment of the pancake-topper was making its way back to Quebec in a heavily guarded convoy of 16 trailer-loads on Wednesday. "(The convoy's) under police protection going somewhere in Quebec," said Yvon Poitras, the general manager of the New Brunswick Maple Syrup Association. Quebec is a maple syrup superpower, producing 80 percent of the world's maple syrup and the warehouse involved stocked more than $30 million worth of the sticky substance. Man called Canadian mafia figure freed from prison Friday, October 5, 2012 FLORENCE, Colo. (AP) A man described in court documents as the former boss of the Canadian mafia was released Friday from a federal prison in Colorado after serving half of a 10-year sentence in a racketeering case. Vito Rizzuto pleaded guilty in 2007 to racketeering charges related to three Mafia killings in New York City in 1981. He was released after getting credit for time served and good behavior. Rizzuto was accused of participating in the fatal shootings at a Brooklyn social club in May 1981 of three captains of the Bonanno crime family Dominick "Big Trin" Trinchera, Philip "Philly Lucky" Giaccone and Alphonse "Sonny Red" Indelicato. The men were suspected of plotting to take control of the organization, authorities said. Crime boss Joseph Massino was sentenced to life in prison in 2005 after pleading guilty to orchestrating those killings and five others. Children discovered Indelicato's body in 1981 while playing in a vacant lot in Queens that became known as a graveyard for people ordered killed by gangsters. In 2005, based on evidence from the Massino investigation, authorities returned to the site and unearthed the remains of Giaccone and Trinchera. Authorities considered Rizzuto the head of Canada's most powerful criminal organization when he was arrested in 2004. But the organization was battered during his years behind bars, as scores of his associates were arrested. Many were killed. Those slayings straddled three generations of his own family, with his father and his son both gunned down. His brother-in-law has been missing for two years. Meanwhile, the business dealings of the Rizzutos are under intense scrutiny during a Quebec public inquiry into corruption in the construction industry. Canadian mob expert and author Antonio Nicaso said Rizzuto returns to a country and a mob scene very different from the one he left. "The violence of the last few years is a symptom of an ongoing fundamental shift in the nature of organized crime in Quebec," he said. "Before you used to have one strong group, now many players are taking advantage of the situation." He said it would be difficult to replace the Rizzuto family but more difficult to replace the political and financial connections the family was able to build in the past 30 years. Nicaso said no group is capable of doing that. Police will probably watch Rizzuto's every move, making it difficult for him to operate or for others to harm him, Nicaso said. He described Montreal in particular as "a powder keg."