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The Ottawa Citizen from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada • 21

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
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0 THE OTTAWA CITIZEN WEDNESDAY, JULY 7, 2004 B3 CITY 'l have no idea why someone would set fire to my store' Biddi's Buy and Sell owner says previous conviction not connected Idol hopes rest on Barrhaven singer Rebecca Abbott is the only Ottawa-area performer left in the running for Canadian Idol's slate of 10 finalists. TONY LOFARO reports if -l ered their business relationship or when he changed the name of the business and began his partnership with Mr. Lloyd. Mr. Lloyd could not be reached last night Mr.

Blake said investigators have not provided him with further information on the origin or cause of Sunday's fire, but "they should have." Sgt. Mike Haarbosch of the Ottawa police arson investigation unit said his team spent yesterday clearing debris from the scene and it is unlikely conclusive answers will be established before tomorrow. Mr. Blake's store was insured, which he said was a stipulation of his lease with the plaza owners, Commvesco Levinson-Vin-er Group. Mike McGahan, president of the real estate group, declined to comment on the terms of any tenant leases.

He said the McArthur Plaza one of about 60 properties the company owns in the city had never been the target of an act of vandalism before. "We're pretty disturbed by the loss," he said. Meanwhile, efforts continue to raise funds for people whose livelihoods have been affected. John Lacasse, who uses the stage name "John Henry" in his country music career, organized a benefit concert at the Knights of Columbus hall. "I said, 'I have to do something for my friends here, I have to'," said Mr.

Lacasse, who lives just down the street from the mini-mall. Monday's concert raised more than $1,000, and Mr. Lacasse planned a karaoke fundraising event last night at the same venue. Proceeds are being deposited in a trust fund. Donations can be made to the McArthur Fire Donation account 41-44236 at CIBC.

A lot of expectations are riding on Rebecca Abbott, the Ottawa singer appearing on tonight's Canadian Idol show. The 19-year-old singer is the last Ottawa hopeful on the TV-show that has already seen three other Ottawa-area performers let go. Annie Lefebvre, Filomena Pasqua and Constant Bernard all failed to make into the final slate of 10, although they still have a chance in next week's wild card category. Ms. Abbott, who works as a hostess at Marshy's restaurants, hopes to end the Ottawa slump by delivering a solid performance to wow celebrity judges and viewers at home.

"There isn't as much pressure as there is excitement. I am the last Ottawa person competing and Ottawa is counting on me," said Ms. Abbott in an interview yesterday from her Toronto hotel room. "Of course I want to be the Canadian Idol. It would be my dream come true." Eight contestants from across Canada perform tonight for two spots still to be picked from the original group of 32.

Another two singers competing in the wild card round have a chance to advance to the final 10. All contestants on the show tonight are talented enough to go on, she said. "I can pick any two from the group just randomly and it would make sense that they would go on. It could be anyone right now." The show airs on CTV at 8 p.m. Ms.

Abbott, a graduate of Mother Teresa Catholic High School in Barrhaven, was not OTTAWA Committee rejects Hunter audit request The city's corporate services and economic development committee rejected a request that it ask council to audit Knoxdale-Merivale Councillor Gord Hunter's election expenses. Political rival Al Speyers, who lost to Mr. Hunter in 2000 and in last fall's municipal election, said he'd spotted discrepancies in the expense reporting, and was one of four people who filed an application for an audit. Several councillors said they were not satisfied there was enough evidence to justify another look, before rejecting the applications unanimously. Strangers rescue man from river Fast action from a trio of rescuers saved a 76-year-old man floating in the Ottawa River from hypothermia yesterday.

An unidentified fisherman marshalled two bystanders from the Ottawa New Edinburgh Club into action after spotting someone in the water shortly after nooa David Mullin and Betty Ward jumped into the chilly water and kept the man afloat for 20 minutes, until the Ottawa police marine patrol brought paramedics. Officials are uncertain of how or where the man entered the river. ShrinersOK motion, city back in running Shriners put Ottawa back on the shortlist yesterday for their new Canadian children's hospital. Delegates at the annual meeting in Denver, Colorado, passed an amended resolution that would give Ottawa, London, Ont, and Montreal equal consideration as the site for a $ioo-million hospi-taL Ottawa has advocated for the hospital to stay in Montreal, but Tunis Shriner John Ruffo says if that bid fails, the next best choice is Ottawa. Wrong chemical mix injures worker on Hill Two workers on Parliament Hill mixed the wrong concentrations of two chemicals yesterday, releasing a toxic gas in a room located in the East Block.

Paramedics treated and rushed a 46- year-old man to hospital with serious throat and lung irritation after inhaling the noxious gas. The second man escaped uninjured. The pair was combining liquid chlorine and Pool Alum to treat the water that surrounds the Centennial Flame. TORONTO Province still looking at ROH details The Ontario government is still studying details of a $ioo-million public-private sector psychiatric hospital in Ottawa Health Minister George Smitherman was expected yesterday to give the Royal Ottawa Hospital the go-ahead, but spokesman Dan Strasbourg says the government wants to make sure the deal is good for taxpayers. Rebecca Abbott tried out for Canadian Idol last year, but didn't make the cut.

Her friends encouraged her to try again this year. BY SHANNON PROUDFOOT The owner of the secondhand shop where the devastating Vanier strip-mall fire began on Sunday says he has "no idea" why someone would want to destroy his business. "There's a million and one stories you hear, so I'm not going to go by any of them," said Norris Blake, who co-owns Biddi's Buy and Sell in the McArthur Plaza with his business partner, Gary Lloyd. "I have no idea why someone would set fire to my store or any other store. Honestly, I don't know." Arson investigators believe the fire originated at Mr.

Blake's second-hand shop before rapidly spreading throughout the mini-mall and destroying nearly every other business in its path. Mr. Blake said he was "out partying" on Saturday evening before the fire started and did not find out about the destruction of his store until some time later, when he was notified by a phone calL He said his criminal record he was convicted in 2003 of two counts of conspiring to extort for his role at Camelot Investigative Services Inc. has no bearing on the fire investigation. "That shouldn't even be an issue here.

Honestly, that's wrong," he said. Mr. Blake was sentenced to eight months in prison in October 2003 for bis role in a scheme in which the private investigative agency had prostitutes seduce Ottawa businessmen and secretly videotape the encounters for use in blackmail Biddi's Buy and Sell was formerly a children's used goods store called Paradise for Kids, which Mr. Blake opened with his former fiancee, Amanda Borck, in 2001. He could not recall when he and Ms.

Borck sev browser at the discretion of parents. "It's important to help educate our kids that they be able to surf safely," said Ms. Desormeaux, "but a library's role is not to interfere with intellectual freedoms." The policy has "allowed us to resolve the employee grievance without impeding on free speech," she added. The 15-year Ottawa Library veteran was "ecstatic" upon hearing she would receive the Canadian Library Association's award for the Advancement of Intellectual Freedom. That's why I was a little unsure because I thought the judges would rip me apart because they are so sick of hearing it "So, I walked into my audition and apologized ahead of time.

But I'm glad that I did it." For tonight, Ms. Abbott has picked a blues song she hopes pleases the judges. She said she can't reveal what it is, but added it's a song she has performed dozens of times in Ottawa clubs. "This song was my all-time favourite song to perform in bars and I'm so used to doing it. Every time I go out for karaoke with my friends it would be the first song I perform." IN ARTS: BEV WAKEASSESSES THE COMPETITION, PAGE C5 Library worker rewarded for solving porn problem Dispute sends man to hospital with cuts A neighbourhood dispute turned violent last night when a 20-year-old man, who had been drinking, attacked a 19-year-old rival with a kitchen knife.

The attack, which took place on a path between homes on Caldwell Avenue shortly before 8 p.m., left minor cuts on the back of the victim's head, as well as tiny slashes on his stomach and hand. The victim, who lives across the road from his attacker, decided to avoid a police investigation and elected not to lay charges, police say. The victim was in a hospital waiting room late last night. division manager for board policy and strategic planning for the library, is credited with finding a solution. It included installing software that refreshes computer screens after a few minutes of non-use, and the choice of filtered or unfil-tered Internet browsers for patrons over the age of 16.

The split between available terminals is 50-50, in order to accommodate as many patrons as possible. Retaining filtered and unfiltered browsers allows adult patrons access to all websites, while putting a child's choice to use an unfiltered Administrator's solution now used across the country BYMARCI SURKES The Ottawa Public Library administrator responsible for resolving the clash between employees opposed to the availability of porn on library computers and free speech advocates was honoured in June by the Canadian Library Association for spearheading a successful policy and technology even planning to audition this time around after a disastrous attempt last year failed to get her past the preliminary round. She wanted to pass on auditions this time, but friends and family encouraged her to try it again. "I had auditioned last year and they told me they didn't like me so what was going to change in a year? I'm still the same person as before. But my friends kept telling me if I didn't do it I would regret it." At this year's auditions, she sang Etta James' At Last the same song she performed last year and this time it impressed judges, who voted her into the round of 32 hopefuls.

"I think every Canadian Idol singer has sung that song. initiative that serves as a model to public libraries across the country. The Ottawa Public Library's Internet Access Policy came under scrutiny in May 2002 when the employees' union lodged a policy grievance alleging a "poisoned work environment" due to the prevalence of pornographic materials at computer terminals. The union contended exposure to pornography constituted sexual harassment, and was therefore a violation of the Ontario Humans Rights Code. Monique Desormeaux, the Contact 15 in a Please 1 5 months and senior the U.S.

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