Poem: “Silence Of The Sea”

In the Gulf of St. Lawrence,
rescuers from Canada and the U.S.
try to free three whales
entangled in ropes.

In the port of Kushiro,
a crane lifts the body
of a Minke whale.

Mouth wide open.
Baleen shown.
Blood drips from where the harpoon hit.

It is the first of 227 whales
to be killed this year
– 25 of them endangered –
as Japan lifts its ban
on commercial hunting.

Tokyo restaurateur Shintaro Sato
hopes young Japanese
will rediscover the taste.

His family
has been preparing whale dished
for half a century.

 

(Editor’s note: poet Shai Ben-Shalom, an Israeli-born biologist, examines current events in the Blacklock’s tradition each and every Sunday)

Book Review — Murder In Authie

In the village of Authie, France, population 1500, it’s still possible to score a $56 hotel room with a nearby McDonald’s rated “catastrophique” on TripAdvisor. There is also a Rue des Canadiens “where the bodies of two murdered soldiers were placed on the street so that a tank could repeatedly run over them,” explains Canadian Battlefields Of The Second World War. In Authie in 1944 “wildly excited Hitler Youth began murdering Canadians while the battle still raged and continued killing prisoners systematically after the fighting ceased.” Murder victims numbered 37.

Authors Terry Copp and Matt Baker lead readers on an intriguing tour of the Normandy countryside that witnessed gallantry and atrocity 75 years ago. Take a drive down Highway D170, “one of the prettiest roads you will explore in Normandy”, they write. “This is one of the roads the Regina Rifles used in their advance inland on D-Day.” Names of the dead are immortalized in a village church.

Canadian Battlefields rises to the best tradition of war tour guides, juxtaposing tips on where to find a good, cheap lunch with concise accounts of horrific sacrifice where Canadians fought and died in “the hope of a better world”. The historical research is flawless; accompanying maps are compelling. Readers learn the actual location of parachute drop zones off the farm roads, away from McDonald’s.

“The Canadian citizen army that fought in the Battle of Normandy played a role all out of proportion to its relative strength among the Allied armies,” the authors write: “Perhaps it is time to recognize the extraordinary achievements that marked the progress of the Canadians across Normandy’s fields of fire.”

“No one knew what the outcome of individual battles would be or how long the campaigns in Western Europe might last,” they note. “And no one knew exactly what was required of them.”

Readers are swept along the stony beach at Dieppe where 901 Canadians perished and 1,946 were taken prisoner in 1942. “The heroism of individuals could only accomplish minor miracles,” says Canadian Battlefields.

Only seven of 23 landing craft made it ashore that morning. Victims included tank crews drowned within sight of the beach. Canadian Battlefields takes readers through the seaside resort along a narrow lane to a nearby cemetery, “beautifully kept”, it says.

And there is the village of Bretteville-sur-Laize, where the French erected a memorial to Private Gérard Doré of Roberval, Que., a veteran of the Fusiliers Mont-Royal. Doré enlisted at 15 and was dead at 16, “believed to be the youngest Canadian soldier killed in Normandy”. The marker reads: ‘Volunteer’.

By Holly Doan

Canadian Battlefields of the Second World War: Dieppe, D-Day and the Battle of Normandy, by Terry Copp and Matt Baker; Wilfrid Laurier University Press; 250 pages; ISBN 9781-92680-41701; $24

Suggest Auditors Try Google

The Canada Revenue Agency in an Offshore Compliance Audit Manual recommends auditors use Google and Facebook searches to find tax scofflaws. “The internet is a wonderful resource,” said the manual obtained through Access To Information: “Auditors should use their judgment.”

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Want Ethics Chief To Speak

Conservative MPs yesterday petitioned the Commons ethics committee to reopen televised hearings on SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. The committee’s Liberal majority last March 26 vetoed any investigation of complaints the Prime Minister and senior aides went to extraordinary lengths to quash a criminal prosecution of the company: “Canadians deserve fulsome answers.”

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Unaware Of Compensation

More than a quarter of passengers surveyed are unaware airlines are obliged to pay for lost or damaged luggage. The research at airports nationwide was conducted by the Canadian Transportation Agency prior to the July introduction of a passenger rights’ code: “Did you know airlines can be held liable?”

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Judge Explains Oil Spill Fine

A British Columbia judge has explained a seven-figure corporate fine for an offshore spill that breached three Acts of Parliament. The $2.9 million penalty over the sinking of the tug Nathan E. Stewart is equivalent to less than one percent of the operator’s revenues: “The offence was not intentional.”

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Count 49 Calls And Meetings

Senior Liberals including the Prime Minister and aides arranged at least 49 separate meetings and phone calls to discuss SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. legal troubles, Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion yesterday disclosed. The full extent of attempts to save the company from criminal prosecution is not known since officials concealed documents from investigators, wrote Dion: “The focus is on the Prime Minister.”

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Lavalin Still In The Money

SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. has continued to receive millions in federal contracts even as it sued the Government of Canada in an unsuccessful bid to avoid trial on bribery and fraud charges. Contracts totaling more than $15 million were awarded in six months, accounts show: “Why was SNC-Lavalin brought in?”

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Generics Are 25% Of Market

Canadians typically spend more on generic drugs than patients in Australia or the U.K., a federal agency said yesterday. Generics account for about 25 percent of drug sales, said the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board: “Canadians spent more on generic medicines than residents of any other OECD country except the U.S.”

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More Drownings In Pools

More Canadians drown in swimming pools than lakes or ponds, says the Public Health Agency of Canada. Analysis of years’ worth of hospital records confirmed June, July and August are the worst months for swimming fatalities: “The majority occurred in swimming pools.”

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Fed Climate Claim Unproven

There is no evidence climate change caused Canada’s costliest flood, says a Department of Environment report. Researchers said incidents of heavy rainfall are “rather random” with no detectable trends, though Environment Minister Catherine McKenna has cited extreme weather events as proof “climate change is happening now”.

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Cite Scandalous Trademarks

The federal trademark office in Access To Information records has detailed applications rejected last year as vulgar or scandalous. Under the Trademarks Act regulators may veto slogans or symbols: “Jeez-Us so nearly resembles as to be likely mistaken for Jesus and therefore would be offensive.”

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Pot User Challenges Eviction

Ontario’s Human Rights Tribunal in the first case of its kind in Canada will rule on whether landlords may evict tenants for keeping marijuana. Landlords complained Parliament’s 2018 legalization of cannabis would lead to years of court challenges over use in rental buildings: “Do I understand the Government of Canada would leave it totally to the courts?”

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Shippers’ Fees To Increase

The Coast Guard will hike icebreaking fees this winter with a “larger increase” planned in 2020, says a federal report. Auditors in the Department of Fisheries responsible for the icebreaker fleet said private shippers must pay more: ‘The cost is shouldered ultimately by Canadian taxpayers.’

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Mysterious Decline In Cash

The Bank of Canada is monitoring cash sales of cannabis after citing an unusual spike in consumer spending that coincided with legalization of marijuana last October 17. Researchers said the value of banknotes in circulation saw the largest one-month drop since 1935: “Legalization could appear to have had a significant impact on cash use.”

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