Handy Headlines for May 27 2006

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The Article

Brison hits out over gay Mounties ‘gag order’

CALGARY – Liberal leadership candidate Scott Brison said a reported “gag order” on Conservative MPs regarding the same-sex marriage of two Mounties shows the Prime Minister does not trust everyone in his government to be socially progressive.

…“So if Stephen Harper does not trust his own Members of Parliament to be socially progressive, why should Canadians trust his party or his government to be socially progressive?” Mr. Brison, who is openly gay, told reporters in Calgary yesterday.

…“I don’t know why Mr. Harper is so concerned about this. I don’t know why Mr. Harper is so concerned about whether or not RCMP officers are straight or not. It doesn’t matter whether they are straight as long as they can shoot straight.”

…It has been reported that the Harper government has forbidden MPs to comment on the controversial subject and questions on the subject are being referred to Stockwell Day, the Public Safety Minister. However, earlier this week, Melissa Leclerc, Mr. Day’s communications director, was reported as saying, “The minister won’t have any specific comments on this. That’s their private life. There’s nothing much we can say.”

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Volpe campaign gets big bucks from teen kids of drug company executives

OTTAWA (CP) – Liberal leadership hopeful Joe Volpe has received $54,000 in donations from two drug company executives and their wives and kids.

…Under a new political financing law that went into force in 2004, corporate donations to leadership contestants are strictly prohibited. But while a company cannot contribute money to a campaign, individual Canadians including a company’s executives, employees and family members are each entitled to give a maximum of $5,400.

…When the law was introduced, critics argued it amounted to a loophole that would allow companies to circumvent the ban on corporate donations.

According to a statement of contributions filed by Volpe with Elections Canada, Barry Sherman, CEO and chairman of generic drug manufacturer Apotex Inc., donated $5,400 to the Toronto MP’s leadership bid.

…Sherman’s wife, Honey, and four children – all residing at the same address – also gave $5,400 each.

…Apotex president Jack Kay, his wife, Patricia, and two children donated $5,400 each as well.

…According to Apotex public affairs director Elie Betito, four of the six children listed as donors are teenagers.

…Neither Sherman nor Kay’s affiliation with Apotex is mentioned in the statement.

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Conservatives add to scandal lawsuit
Expected to sue Liberals
OTTAWA – The Conservative government has widened its lawsuit to reclaim additional millions in improperly awarded contracts related to the federal sponsorship scandal—its first action on the file since taking office in February.

…Public Works Minister Michael Fortier announced yesterday that federal lawyers have added Nicolas Gosselin and Groupaction subsidiary Alleluia Design to the civil lawsuit that was launched under the previous Liberal government, originally against 19 defendants for more than $40-million, in March, 2005.

…The addition of Mr. Gosselin, the son of advertising executive Gilles-Andre Gosselin, and Alleluia, which was characterized as a Groupaction shell company in last year’s sponsorship inquiry, brings to 30 the number of companies and individuals being sued by the government.

…Efforts to recoup this money, as well as additional claims for more money against some of the key actors in the sponsorship program, have raised the total value of the lawsuit by $7-million to $63-million.
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PM backs down on policy for fallen

VICTORIA and OTTAWA — Families of soldiers killed overseas will decide whether the country can watch their loved ones return home, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said yesterday, reversing his government’s policy hours after a grieving father said his daughter died to defend freedoms not restrict them.

…Mr. Harper said he was troubled to learn that Tim Goddard, the father of Captain Nichola Goddard, said during a eulogy at her funeral that he disagreed with the government’s decision to keep reporters away from the airfield when bodies arrive back in Canada.

…“I had given fairly clear instructions that, when bodies were to come home, families were to be consulted,” Mr. Harper said at a news conference in Victoria. “And if all families were agreed on making that particular ceremony public, that our government should have no difficulty with that. I’m not sure what happened in this case.”

…Mr. Harper said he spoke with Dr. Goddard this week. “He didn’t raise the issue with me so I didn’t realize there was a problem, but obviously I’ll look into it and find out if the family’s wishes were different to what was done and why that was the case and we’ll correct it in the future.”

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Related Stories

Father chastises Harper in eulogy to dead soldier

CALGARY – In an emotional eulogy for his daughter, the father of the first Canadian woman to die in combat issued a stern rebuke to Prime Minister Stephen Harper Friday, criticizing him for barring the media from his child’s homecoming.

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Indigo pulls controversial Harper’s off the shelves
Firm fears offending Muslims with cartoons that sparked demonstrations

…Canada’s largest retail bookseller has removed all copies of the June issue of Harper’s Magazine from its 260 stores, claiming an article by New York cartoonist Art Spiegelman could foment protests similar to those that occurred this year in reaction to the publication in a Danish newspaper of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.

…Indigo Books and Music took the action this week when its executives noticed that the 10-page Harper’s article, titled Drawing Blood, reproduced all 12 cartoons first published last September by Jyllands-Posten (The Morning Newspaper).

…The article also contains five cartoons, including one by Mr. Spiegelman and two by Israelis, “inspired” by an Iranian newspaper’s call in February for an international Holocaust cartoon contest “to test the limits of Western tolerance of free speech.”

…Harper’s publisher John MacArthur said he was “genuinely shocked” by Indigo’s action, in part because two large U.S. chains, Borders and Waldenbooks, are selling the issue.

…(Three months ago, both chains yanked a small U.S. publication, Free Inquiry, when it reproduced four of the Danish cartoons. That Free Inquiry issue with the cartoons is currently on sale at Indigo.)

…“I’d expect an American company to do this, not a Canadian,” Mr. MacArthur said yesterday. “Even though you have tougher libel laws than us and your own versions of political correctness, to my mind [Canada] has always been a freer place for political discourse.”

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