This week: Good news, bad news

Calgary’s White Pride march is a dud, while Ignatieff pitches protectionism

Good news


This week: Good news / Bad news
After three decades under one-party rule, Egypt held a free election Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

The outsiders

The annual “white pride” march by Calgary neo-Nazis was poorly attended, as about 15 black-clad skinheads turned out to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in their own fashion. The marchers were, as usual, outnumbered by 200 anti-racism demonstrators at a separate downtown event. Dwindling attendance suggests Calgary’s neo-Nazi colony might be succumbing to infighting and, with its leader in jail for uttering threats, legal troubles too.

Run to ground

After nine days at large, William Bicknell, the six-foot-six, 500-lb. convicted murderer, was recaptured by the RCMP in northwest Alberta. Bicknell, who beat a female crime confederate to death with a baseball bat in 2001, overpowered a lone escort during a day trip outside the Drumheller Institution on March 10. He was caught near the remote town of Sexsmith when a female hostage eluded him and phoned police.

If this be suicide

Conservative MPs in and around Quebec City faced pre-election questioning as the Tory government’s decision not to fund sports arena construction appeared increasingly non-negotiable. A group of MPs had set rumours flying last September by strutting theatrically in the uniform of the city’s departed Nordiques, but local hopes—along with those of arena-seekers in Edmonton and elsewhere—were dashed by a final declaration: no Ottawa dough for pros. Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume denounced the decision as “political suicide” for the province’s Conservative candidates. If so, they will have perished in a worthy cause.

Resurrecting the unheard

An Ottawa-born musicologist at the University of North Texas is reviving the hitherto-lost music of composers persecuted by the Nazis. Professor Timothy L. Jackson recovered scores buried in Germany by Paul Kletzki, a Jewish musician who fled in 1938; the first recording of Kletzki’s piano concerto was nominated for a Grammy this year. Jackson also led the rediscovery of Reinhard Oppel, an influential anti-Nazi composer who was forced to join the army at 62 and died in 1941. Oppel’s oeuvre was found in margarine boxes in a garden shed.

Bad news


This week: Good news / Bad news
Knut, the world famous polar bear, died at the Berlin Zoo last week. Tobias Schwarz/Reuters

Are wide lapels next

In a speech to steelworkers in Nanticoke, Ont., Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff took a ’70s line on foreign-investment reviews, suggesting that outside capital should face a “process that is transparent and penalties that have teeth,” including forced asset sales. “If they come to Canada,” Ignatieff said, “they have to play by Canadian rules.” With the government having wound back the clock by blocking BHP Billiton’s purchase of Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan, protectionism feels like the winner in an election that hasn’t happened.

No mere symbol?

A Calgary man was arrested in the Hoshiarpur district of Punjab for killing his wife with a kirpan, the ceremonial knife orthodox Sikh males are obligated to carry. Gurdial Singh, 57, was visiting India for his son’s wedding when he allegedly slit his wife’s throat during an argument over property. Police said Singh, who is said to have moved to Calgary from India about a year ago, injured another son with the kirpan before fleeing.

News for wildebeests

International institutions, including the World Bank and the German government, are desperate to stop Tanzania from building a highway through the northern tip of Serengeti National Park. Surveyors are already at work on the road, which zoologists say would disrupt the migration of herbivores that has made the wildlife preserve famous. Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete says the route is needed for economic development in poor villages near the park’s rim. The discussion thus has the unfortunate logic of a hostage-taking, but the protection of the Serengeti is worth almost any price.

Sweet and sour

Cocoa traders faced a standoff with Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo, who controls the African republic despite losing elections last year. Traders hoping to pressure Gbagbo stopped exporting cocoa from Ivory Coast, the world’s largest producer, in January. But the united front is threatened by fears that Gbagbo could seize or destroy cocoa stocks, and one Hong Kong-based trading firm has hinted that it may break ranks. Savour that next chocolate bar a little extra.