Quebec Premier Pauline Marois visited Scotland this week. Possibly Edinburgh is lovely this time of year, but interestingly Scotland is led by the Scottish National Party, which hopes to gain independence from the U.K. in a referendum next year. The Parti Québécois leader’s meeting with First Minister Alex Salmond was thus subject to much anticipation, even if it turned out to be a relatively low-key, private affair. “It’s purely a courtesy event—‘very nice to meet you,’ ” a Scottish civil servant assured the Guardian. The two exchanged gifts and committed to keep in touch, but Salmond didn’t appear with the premier afterwards. All the same, Marois came away inspired. “It is encouraging,” she said, “because when you see people [such] as the Scottish population, which has such a long history, to decide to ask the question on their future in a referendum, I think it is hope for us.”
Old Dogs, nice trick
A bunch of the boys from the Old Dogs old-timers hockey team were having a few beers at a Kamloops, B.C., riverfront locale when they witnessed Kathryn Easton plunge through the ice of the Thompson River. She was trying to rescue two dogs she was walking that had wandered onto the ice and fallen in. Team members formed a human chain stretching into the river, and wisely used a flagpole to reach out to Easton. She and the two dogs were plucked from the river, freezing but unharmed. “I missed the Polar Bear Swim,” Old Dog Bert Kant told the Kamloops Daily News. “We can laugh because everything is okay.” Like Don Cherry says, it’s all about keeping your stick on the ice.
There are hills in Saskatchewan?
Don McMorris may be Saskatchewan’s highways minister but these days he’s better known as dad to 19-year-old snowboard superstar Mark McMorris. Mark won both silver and gold medals at the X Games in Aspen, Colo., last weekend. What was to have been an slopestyle showdown with the legendary Shaun White wasn’t even close. White crashed out in two of three runs while McMorris recorded the highest score in the event’s X Games history. Among his jumps is the triple cork 1440: three off-axis spins while rotating four times over 15 to 18 m of air. No hockey rink in the McMorris yard. “Ours had a drop-in with a down rail and a box,” dad told Snowboarder Magazine.
Lies and misplaced loyalty
The Supreme Court of Canada has refused to hear an appeal of bomb-maker Inderjit Singh Reyat’s nine-year sentence for perjury. Reyat built the bombs that killed 329 people aboard a June 1985 Air India flight from Canada and another that killed two baggage handlers in Japan. He was at best a foot soldier in the Sikh separatist conspiracy, but he pays a heavy price. His life has been a series of trials, appeals and jail cells for more than two decades. He remains the only person convicted in the terrorist attack. In 2011, Justice Mark McEwan convicted Reyat of repeated lying during the trials of his co-accused Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri. His perjury sentence is believed to be the longest in Canadian history.
Queen Bea no more
The Netherlands’ Queen Beatrix, 75, announced this week that she’s handing over the throne to her 45-year-old son, Willem-Alexander. Beatrix, who was schooled in Ottawa during the Second World War, says she’s abdicating “out of conviction that the responsibility for our nation should now rest in the hands of a new generation.” Willem-Alexander’s accession is set for April 30. He’ll be a male blip in recent monarchical history—since the last Dutch king died in 1890, the country’s monarchs have all been women—and next in line is his eldest daughter Catharina-Amalia.
Talk about male Bonding
“Rumor has it,” as the great Adele is known to sing, that the Academy Awards show on Feb. 24, will bring together for the first time all six men who have played Bond, James Bond. What would one call that? A six-pack of Bonds sounds too plebeian; a bevy of Bonds too girly. A 006 of Bonds, perhaps? The reason, of course, is the 50th anniversary of the bullets, booze and babes movie franchise. And the 006 007s would be: Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig. One thing is a dead certainty: Adele is confirmed to be singing her nominated song Skyfall during the broadcast.
Humble? Well, maybe.
Toronto was spared a multi-million-dollar by-election after Mayor Rob Ford won an appeal of his conflict of interest conviction last week. Ford, elected mayor two years ago, holds onto his office and Torontonians keep their front-row seats on the circus that is city hall. Ford called the trial and the appeal court ruling “a very, very humbling experience.” That said, he pledged to continue his attack on municipal waste and to seek re-election in 2014. “The job is not finished yet, and I plan to spend the next six years on getting the job done.”
Talk about first-class postage
Ann Weiszmann has an understandable fascination with Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Hungarian Jews by giving them doctored identity papers called “shutz-passes.” After all, her mother, then known as Judith Kopstein, was one of those Wallenberg saved. So when Canada issued a stamp in January honouring the great man, Weiszmann bought several booklets in Toronto. When she gave the stamps a close look she was stunned to see a photo of her mother as a 14-year-old, staring back. Canada Post has used a copy of Judith’s 1944 schutz-pass as the stamp’s background. Judith Weiszmann, 83, a retired structural engineer living in Winnipeg, is honoured to be linked with one of her heroes, she told the National Post. She and her mother were stopped by the Hungarian Gestapo. “Those papers saved our lives.”
Tiger takes a mulligan
Anyone who has witnessed Olympic gold medallist Lindsey Vonn attack a ski run knows she is absolutely fearless. This may explain why she has apparently plunged into a romance with golf great Tiger Woods. Star magazine reports the two have dated since November. Vonn, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Woods’s deeply aggrieved ex, Elin Nordegren, has reportedly been teaching his kids, Sam and Charlie, to ski. If anyone can keep Woods—who captured his 75th PGA Tour victory with a win at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines this week—out of the rough and on the straight and narrow it’s Vonn, who has ski poles and knows how to use them.
An angry young man with nukes
Don’t let North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s baby face fool you: he may prove more warlike than either his late dad or grandpa. Last week a defence communiqué pledged the country’s missile and nuclear programs “will target against the U.S., the sworn enemy of the Korean people.” A day later another statement threatened to take “physical countermeasures” against South Korea if it helps enforce United Nations penalties against the outlaw regime. “Sanctions mean a war and a declaration of war against us,” it warned. Such rhetoric bodes ill for the South’s incoming president Park Geun-hye. Her election platform included dismantling the North’s nuclear program and working toward reconciliation.
Zimbabwe goes bust
Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti announced this week that his government had only $217 in the bank. That’s all that was left in government coffers after civil servants were paid. Biti warned that the government doesn’t have enough to fund this year’s presidential election. That leaves the government with no choice: “We will be approaching the international community,” he said. Whether donor countries pay up is an open question. President Robert Mugabe, 88, who’s led—and ruined—Zimbabwe since 1980, has announced he is running again.
Third time unlucky
French judges believe there is evidence suggesting Dominique Strauss-Kahn played a key role in a prostitution ring and should stand trial. In a decision leaked to French newspaper Le Figaro last week, a panel of judges said Strauss-Kahn had “effective and crucial participation in acts of pimping.” Though the former IMF chief has managed to dodge a sexual assault charge in New York in 2011, then a gang rape charge relating to sex parties he attended, it seems he may have to face justice after all, and faces up to 20 years in prison.