Brandon Sun (Newspaper) - July 2, 2002, Brandon, Manitoba
In Brief Farm program quickly stumbles
By Scott Edmonds
Talks resume in Toronto strike
TORONTO — It was the perfect kind of weather for a walk in the park or a dip in the pool in Toronto on Canada Day, but a strike by municipal workers meant pools were closed, city parks weren’t being maintained and the gentle breeze in the air brought with it the putrid stench of rotting trash.
Since outside workers walked off the job Wednesday, Toronto’s garbage has been piling up, ferry service to picturesque Toronto Island has been suspended and road work has been on the wane. Some Canada Day festivities and fireworks displays were even called off.
Talks resumed yesterday between the city and Local 416 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, representing the 6,800 outside workers.
The union was optimistic the dispute could be resolved soon.
Accused arsonist was fascinated hy fire
CIBECUE, Ariz. — The man charged with starting one of the blazes that has blackened a huge swath of Arizona forest and destroyed hundreds of homes was fascinated with flame when he was a boy and sometimes set fires, a foster brother said.
Prosecutors have accused Leonard Gregg, 29, of starting the blaze in dry grass because he wanted to earn $8 US per hour as part of a fire crew.
Wilson Gregg, the suspect’s brother by adoption, recalled how he was intrigued by fire as a child and occasionally set dangerous ones — including a backyard bonfire that almost swept out of control.
“Whenever my mother would cook, he would watch the flames,” Wilson Gregg told The Arizona Republic. “It fascinated him.”
If convicted of both counts of wilfully setting fire to timber or underbrush, he could face IO years in prison and be fined $500,000. A preliminary hearing was set for Wednesday.
Sub accident caused by explosion of fuel
MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian government said yesterday that leaky torpedo fuel caused the explosions that destroyed the Kursk nuclear submarine, wrapping up nearly two years of sensitive investigation into one of the country’s worst post-Soviet disasters.
The announcement that the vessel was destroyed by an internal malfunction — and not a foreign sub as had once been theorized — was an uncomfortable admission for Russia’s struggling military. The Kursk was one of the navy’s most advanced subs when it sank in the Barents Sea in August 2000, killing all 118 men aboard.
Industry and Science Minister Ilya Klebanov, who led the commission investigating the disaster, said a leak of hydrogen peroxide used to fuel the 65-76 Kit (Whale) torpedo was at fault.
The conclusion was reached unanimously at the commission’s last meeting Saturday, Klebanov said.
Korean skirmish casts doubt over U.S. talks
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. officials said yesterday that a skirmish between vessels of the two Koreas that left four South Korean sailors dead has cast doubt on whether proposed U.S.-North Korean talks will take place.
The Bush administration proposed to North Korea last Thursday that officials of the two countries meet in Pyongyang during the second week in July. But that meeting, never a sure thing to begin with, has become more doubtful following Saturday’s shooting incident in waters off the peninsula’s west coast. In addition to the four fatalities, 19 South Koreans were injured.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher called the incident a North Korean provocation. However, South Korean President Kim Dae-jung wants to press ahead with his efforts to reconcile with the North.
Manhunt for suspected kidnapper cuds
BROOKS, Alta. — A massive police search for a kidnapper who snatched a five-year-old boy away from his Alberta home ended peacefully on the weekend after the suspect turned himself in to police in Kamloops, B.C.
ROMP said Rene Michael LaRochelle, 20, used a payphone in the B.C. city to call police before surrendering Sunday night. He faces charges of kidnapping, unlawfully being in a dwelling house and theft over $5,000.
Aaron Reesor, 5, was found huddled inside his parents’ stolen car parked in downtown Kamloops. Police said he wasn’t harmed, but was tired and hungry. Aaron was taken to a Kamloops hospital early yesterday to be checked over before spending the night in a foster home. He was flown to Brooks on an RCMP aircraft and reunited with his parents later Monday.
“His family is relieved, to say the least,” said Const. Sherry Brunelle of the Brooks RCMP.
WINNIPEG — If Canada won’t support its farmers as they battle for world market share with subsidized producers in the U.S. and Europe, Ted Menzies wonders who’s next?
“Are we going to stop producing steel?” asks the former president of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association, who farms near Calgary.
“Are we going to stop producing lumber?”
Like many farmers, he’s looking with a cautious and critical eye at the new umbrella farm policy Ottawa trotted out in June, a policy that has already hit its first stumbling block.
Three provinces — Quebec, Manitoba and Saskatchewan — have already refused to sign off on the new Agricultural Policy Framework, although seven have agreed to take part.
Ottawa is proposing to spend $5.2 billion over five years on a variety of programs under the APF, cis it is generally called. The federal government wants the provinces to kick in as well, bringing the total to almost $8.2 billion.
“Although the ag policy framework contains a lot of motherhood state
ments, it’s really sparse on details and at first brush lacks adequate funding,” says Brian Doidge, a farm economist who works with the Ontario Corn Producers’ Association.
Farmers from British Columbia to the Atlantic provinces are desperate for a program that will show Canada is serious about keeping them in business, rather than helping them find new work.
“I disagree with the argument that we have too many farmers, I don’t think we have enough,” says Harold Culberson, who farms potatoes, grain and cattle in the St. John Valley in New Brunswick. “We just don’t dare be an importer of food because of food safety and issues like that.
“There’s jobs and this just means too much to the economy to not continue really. I think it’s important we have an agricultural sector and it be across Canada and a viable one.”
Culberson and others don’t see the commitment they feel is necessary to guarantee a future for a new generation.
Ministers from Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Quebec refused to join the rest of the provinces that signed the new Agriculture Policy Framework on Thursday in Halifax.
In particular, they balked at contributing to part of the deal that will hand out $1.2 billion to farmers over the two years, in what Ottawa says it’s a “transition” payment to the program.
The provinces say it’s a trade injury payment, to offset the impact of hefty U.S. and European subsidies. Those subsidies most hurt those who grow grains and oilseeds, both heavily dependent on exports.
The transition payment is also a subsidy that disappears in two years, long before the other countries’ programs are set to end, and is only about half what most believe is required.
“The U.S. farm bill has targeted grains and oilseeds,” says Dennis Jack, president of the Ontario Corn Producers’ Association, who farms near Chatham, Ont. “Ninety-five per cent of the direct payments to farmers in the U.S. go to the producers of grains and oilseeds. It’s a targeted program to cause injury and it works.”
He suggests Ottawa doesn’t want to admit it’s compensating farmers for a trade injury that might run afoul of the World trade organization or the rules set under the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs.
“We’re running scared because
we’re afraid that the WTO will not consider this trade neutral and GATT green.”
Others suggest Ottawa may fear other sectors will seek similar compensation, even though some have already been on the receiving end.
Bombardier, for example, received federal help to sell it’s airplanes abroad because of foreign competition.
“We have always called it a free trade injury,” says Stewart Wells, a Saskatchewan farmer and president of the National Farmers Union. “I think they are really thinking it might trigger a lot of other people and sectors of the economy to sit back and say ‘Wait, is free trade working for me?’ ”
Despite the fact that they were the first to pin a figure on the trade injury last year — about $1.3 billion annually — federal officials now insist U.S. and European subsidies are not the big trade problem facing farmers.
Michael Keenan of Agriculture Canada points more to Australian wheat or Argentinian soybeans.
“The international competition we’re facing, while it is stiff and it is growing, it’s coming from efficient producers in a series of countries that have almost no subsidies,” he says.
Hot, dry winds fan forest fire near Prince Albert
PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. — Hot, dry winds fanned flames and fears yesterday as a massive forest fire crept within nine kilometres of Saskatchewan’s third largest city.
The blaze was still considered out of control, but firefighters were cautiously optimistic that they could keep it out of Prince Albert, a city of almost 40,000.
Winds gusting up to 70 kilometres an hour stoked hot spots in the burned-out areas, and there was no
sign of rain in the forecast.
But Curtis Lee, regional fire manager for Saskatchewan Environment, said crews made excellent progress battling the fire Sunday night.
“We still say it’s out of control until we’re IOO per cent confident that it’s going to stay in the perimeter we’ve established,” he said yesterday afternoon.
“A lot of really good work was done.”
Firefighters managed to hold the eastern front of
the fire through a combination of a burnout operation, a 700-metre-wide fire break and a timely Saturday rain that meteorologists were calling “a miracle,” said Murdoch Carriere of the province’s fire management and forest protection service.
“It was not forecast for this area,” Carrier said. “It gave us the six hours that we needed during a tough burning day to get control of actually putting people right on the fire line.”
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