The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on May 8, 1997 · 24
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The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada · 24

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Issue Date:
Thursday, May 8, 1997
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The City Editorial Page B4 THE OTTAWA CITIZEN THURSDAY, MAY 8, 1997 OUR TOWN 'V Plus dr. i'-iyj r t, pour lc jsunfta au p du CNA i cen; it.' chrfrtre du CHA,? ,jmp06it:w"&", Lnmw D-'CT--.- -;,-)BMfc,, t ,:,." f - fit'4' I 1 Ww 'w.v.c I ' ' " ' :.-" J 1 . I i - - - . ru 1 ...J Leah Yin, a 13-year-old Grade 8 student at Pinecrest Public School, won the grand prize in the age 10-13 category of the National Arts Centre's "See What I Hear" art contest for young people. Students between the ages of 6 and 13 were invited to draw images of what they imagined when they listened to the National Arts Centre Orchestra play. Leah's drawing shows that music can be found everywhere. All of the more than 800 entries in the contest will be on display in the NAC promenade until Aug. 31. Citizen photograph by John Major reading the blame lor almost three weeks, a coroner's jury in a stuffy Sparks Street hearing room has learned of a string of miscues, mis-assumptions and inactions that preceded the murder of two Ottawa chil dren by their father in May 1995. The Children's Aid Society of Ottawa Car-leton would like the three-woman, two-man panel to identify poor legislation and provincial spending cuts as major culprits in the horrific deaths of Wilson and Margret Kasonde. Testimony so far, however, suggests the CAS has mostly itself to blame. Here's some of what the jury has learned at the halfway point in this inquest: The children, Wilson and Margret Kasonde, were afraid of their father, Robert Kasonde. The Kasonde parents were separated, and Margret, 8, cried at school on days she was supposed to visit her father; Robert Kasonde's apartment was filthy, to the point where cockroaches were crawling in the oven and fridge; Mr. Kasonde owned a high-powered hunting rifle, "the kind you might use to hunt moose, or a bear," according to testimony. Although police had removed the firearm once, a CAS caseworker knew it had been returned; Wilson Kasonde, 10, wrote a letter describing how his father hit him in the eye, twisted his arm and pushed him to the floor a Loblaws store; Mr. Kasonde had a drinking problem; Mr. Kasonde had physically and verbally abused his wife in the past, and Jane Kasonde was afraid of her husband; Mr. Kasonde, in a state of drunkenness, was reported to have aroused himself by rubbing up against his daughter, who was only four at the time of the incident; As far back as 1989, a day-camp counsellor had told the CAS that little Wilson Kasonde's parents weren't feeding or clothing him proper- ly- A health-care worker considered Mr. Kasonde a "ticking time bomb." None of this cumulative evidence prompted the CAS to go to court to keep these children away from their father. Instead, it closed the file on the Kasonde family in August 1994. Some of the half-dozen caseworkers who have testified so far concede that different action would be taken if the same circumstances occurred today. Apparently CAS management thinks so too: one employee was disciplined and a supervisor on the case has taken "early retirement" Mel Gill, executive director of the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa-Carleton, instituted a review and concluded that "the pace of service was too slow." The CAS has sharpened its policies for dealing with non-custodial parents and families that own guns. Yet Children's Aid is also using this case to argue that the Ontario legislation under which it operates is too constraining. And it has variously tried to spread the blame among high case loads and low funding. Together with other children's aid societies across Ontario, it wants more power under the Child and Family Services Act. So far, it hasn't made a convincing case. Human decisions, not legislative limits, appear to be at the root of the Kasonde tragedy. When senior children's aid officials testify, likely in June, they may finally explain how a family could so tragically unravel right before their eyes. Mother's Day at the War Show Flaunting weapons of mass destruction as family entertainment is distasteful By Richard Sanders mo many, the annual National Panital Air Vinw ic a irwfnl and festive occasion at which the awesome majesty of avia tion can be enjoyed and celebrated. This year's fun-fiJled weekend comes complete with a midway boasting free rides. It is viewed as good wholesome family entertainment. However, to a growing number of Ottawa citizens who have scratched beneath the surface, a sinister dimension of the spectacle is becoming evident. Because the air show is a venue for showcasing some of the deadliest warplanes ever built, it is now becoming known as the war show. Present this year will be such military aircraft as the B-2 Spirit, F-117 Fighting Falcon, A-10 Warthog, IDS Tornado, B-i Lancer, F16 Viper, CF-18 Hornet, F-4 Phantom, CT-133 Silverstar and CP-140 Aurora. The preponderance of U.S. war-planes in this arsenal of entertainment is perhaps why this year's show is being touted by organizers as the official site to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force. -This year, for the first time, a campaign was organized to raise awareness about a variety of peace, social justice and environmental issues surrounding the air show. These efforts, by the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade, are supported by dozens of local and national organizations. Many peace, environment, Third World development, labour, anti-poverty, students' and women's organizations are calling for a public boycott of the show. Flaunting weapons of mass destruction as family entertainment is seen as distasteful and insensitive. Romanticizing war by associating advanced military technology with positive emotions, dissociates these killing machines from their real functions in war and oppression. Adding insult to injury, Sunday, May 11 is Mother's Day, which was originally intended to celebrate world peace. Just imagine the scene, a carnival atmosphere with kids laughing on amusement rides against an aerial backdrop of deadly warplanes performing daring stunts. Such an ostentatious display, juxtaposing the instruments of joy with those of death, conjures up striking images that challenge even the extreme absurdity of slogans found in Orwell's 1984: War is Peace, Ignorance is Strength, Freedom is Slavery. This year, the show's star attractions will be the B-2 and F-117. Both "stealth" bombers are part of the U.S. nuclear war fighting arsenal. At $2.2 billion U.S. each, the B-2 bomber is the most expensive aircraft ever built. It was too expensive to use during the war against Iraq. Developed during the Cold War to evade Soviet radar and carry out a nuclear attack, it can travel up to 8,000 miles without refueling and can "deliver" up to 75,000 pounds of bombs. On April 1, the Pentagon unveiled a new atomic bomb for the B-2. This B61-11 bomb breaches the U.S. undertaking not to build new nuclear weapons and threatens the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. By continually improving its nuclear arsenal, the U.S. may encourage potential nuclear powers in the Third World to ignore that treaty and develop their own nuclear weapons. The F-117 can carry up to 5,000 pounds of bombs including a wide variety of laser-guided, conventional bombs or two nuclear weapons. It was used in the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989 and the war against Iraq in 1991. The F-117S flew more than 1,250 sorties over Iraq and dropped more than 4.4 million pounds of bombs. The air attacks, which destroyed water purification facilities, electrical plants and sewage treatment plants, led to the widespread epidemics that killed an estimated 500,000 Iraqi children under the age of five. To many of the world's children, the sight of U.S. warplanes swooping towards them would not be cause for joy and wonder. To many, the warplanes featured at air shows are symbols of horror, devastation and death, To make matters worse, air show organizers are also holding an exposition for local high technologyaerospace industries. In promoting this trade show to potential exhibitors, organizers point out that foreign military attaches from embassies in Ottawa will be bvited. This is worrisome because much of Ottawa's high tech and aerospace production is military-related. We also know that despite Canada's military export guidelines, hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Canadian military hardware is sold every year to some of the world's most violent and repressive regimes. As responsible citizens, we are challenged to think globally and act locally. One place we can start is with the National Capital Air Show. Richard Sanders is co-ordinator, Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT), OttawaKiS3N7. Telephone: 613-231-3076. Fax:231-2614. Website: httpwww.ncf.carleton.cacoat Submissions to the Citizen's local editorial pages are welcome. They must include the author's full name, an address and a phone number for verification. We condense and edit for style. Writers who send articles will be contacted within two weeks if they are accepted for publication. Some submissions may be selected for use on the letters pages. Articles should be addressed to Randall Denley and may be sent by: Mail: CO The Ottawa Citizen 1101 Baxter Road Ottawa, K2C 3M4 Fax:(613)596-8458 E-mail: MICHEL LAPALME THE OUTAOUAIS Handouts: the politics of yesterday In Hull and Aylmer, we are supposed to be gifted with the most talented of Prime Minister Jean Chretien's ministers. Marcel Masse, after all, had been the top bureaucrat in New Brunswick before becoming the top bureaucrat in Canada. He has been the architect of some of the most complex constitutional negotiations and participated heavily in almost all important policy decisions made by the government of Canada since the mid-seventies. So when I received his first electoral flyer, I did not expect what I saw: a collection of pictures, carefully collected throughout his years in office, of the minister handing out small cheques, one by one, to local voluntary organizations, their directors lining up in support of his campaign. As if this money was his and this generosity was his. This personal money, it was implied, would have been out of reach of these organizations without his touch. And now, they all serve their master in return. When he launched his campaign, Mr. Masse proclaimed, in the same way, that 2,997 contracts had been given to Hull's entrepreneurs since he took office. And 388 in Aylmer. The impression he wants to give is that he handed them out personally. I know these practices won't ever disappear from the political picture but the defeat of the Duplessis government 37 years ago left such ugly memories of patronage that decent politicians have carefully avoided it throughout Quebec. This is wise because so many people today understand that ethics is part of political talent. It is a given that decency is more easily experienced by politicians of talent in secure constituencies and so I wonder why Mr. Masse would feel so insecure. Z, There is absolutely no way the Bloc will ever elect anyone in Hull-Aylmer. The Conservatives and the NDP are absent, the Reform party almost unheard of. The short campaign won't give anyone any chance to emerge against him. If he really needs a challenge this month, Mr. Masse would do better to climb some mountain slopes in Nepal, as he used to do. Or develop his vision for Canada. But this would be precisely opposite to the promotion of those personal handouts. When I see federal politicians counting the dollars with which they want to buy our votes, I always return to an old scene of some 20 years ago involving Jean-Luc Pepin, then head of the Pepin-Robarts Commission. It was in Hull. Mr. Pepin was presiding over an audience, the way the commission had done it across the county. That particular night, he faced a student who had just one question. "I do not want to hear about money," said the student. I want to hear about ideals. I like Canada, but in school, my friends have an ideal vision of a country to build. How can I respond to this? Idealism is the key for many of us. We never hear about that from Ottawa." Mr. Pepin gave no convincing answer that night. Of course, his report contained better elements later, but the real answer still waits to be heard. If our leaders have any answers, they have not crossed the line between the governing and the governed. Twice recently, major participants in our past political life came out of retreat to express their concern about a message undeveloped. Brian Mul-roney's speech in Toronto urged our leaders to craft something different from Meech Lake in order to break an impasse that is still there after 15 years of unfinished business. Claude Castonguay, a former member of Robert Bourassa's cabinet who was so strong at the time that he was the man behind the breaking of the Victoria constitutional agreement of 1971, followed with an alarming call: "Unless something unexpected happens ... or a bold initiative is taken, the sovereigntists will carry the next referendum This is what lies ahead." In US. politics as we saw last fall, in English politics as it just happened, even in French politics as we observe it now, politicians are forced to split programs into parcels to find tiny nuances upon which to develop grandiose visions which, alas, escape them Well, for a gifted man in Hull-Aylmer, there is a full month of governing-governed close relations to craft some new language on the greatest issue facing Canada and to test some more messages to carry the soul of a people in the next millennium How come the man who once waltzed to the top of one of the highest peaks in the world just to discover that "there was nothing there," cannot see that there is more to this election than the godfather's handouts? Michel LaPalme of Aylmer writes for this space every other Thursday.

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