Friday, December 14, 2007

Still so many questions about Lillian O'Dare

Lillian Jean O'Dare (right) poses with a friend known only as Diana.

By Tom Hawthorn
Special to The Globe and Mail
Dec. 12, 2007

She was found because tenants were looking for more storage space.

It was spring, 1989. Sheila Adams, a graphic artist, was renting a rambling, three-bedroom house in Vancouver's eastside. She shared the space with a boyfriend and a tree-planting buddy.

“It was big and cheap,” she said. “Great location. A short block off the Drive.”

Artists and musicians had flocked to the streets surrounding Commercial Drive, taking advantage of low rents near a lively stretch of cafés and restaurants.

At 941 Salsbury Dr., between Parker and Venables, Ms. Adams's gearhead boyfriend looked for a place to store car parts. In the basement, he found a small opening in the wall. The original porch upstairs had been closed in and added to a bedroom, part of which extended beyond the foundation.

The opening was sealed by a door on which four letters were crudely painted. The door had no hinge and had been nailed shut. It was pried open.

“There was a bunch of stuff in there,” Ms. Adams said. “Suitcases. Garbage bags. Not thinking anything of it, we took it all to a dumpster.”

After the junk was removed, they decided to level the dirt floor. Ms. Adams remembers hearing her boyfriend cry, “Uh, oh!”

His shovel had unearthed a skull. A bit of skin and hair was visible, but the remains had been there for some time. Police were called. The skeletal remains were removed, and the dirt sifted for evidence.

Police estimated the body had been there for about a decade. They were off by just one year.

Another 18 years passed before science could identify it.

This year, Forensics Magazine highlighted a new technology for DNA testing known as mini-STR (which stands for short tandem repeat), in which even small fragments of biological material can yield helpful information. The development will “make it possible for law enforcement to re-examine unsolved murder and sexual assault cases that have not been addressed for years,” the magazine reported.

On July 9, the remains were identified, and five weeks later, the Missing Women Task Force revealed the victim was Lillian Jean O'Dare.

She had been reported missing on Sept. 12, 1978.

Five years ago, her name was added to the city's list of missing women, which now numbers 65. Robert Pickton has been convicted in the murders of six of the women and is accused of killing 20 more.

No one has been charged in Ms. O'Dare's death.

In August, police released a fading photograph showing Ms. O'Dare with a friend.

She is of average build, stands 5 feet 6, has carefully waved blond hair. She wears a loose-fitting white pantsuit over a brown blouse speckled with white dots. Ms. O'Dare hugs her petite friend Diana with her right arm.

Police released the photo hoping friends or family might recognize Diana, who may have been a roommate when Ms. O'Dare went missing.

Little is known about the dead woman, who was from Williams Lake.

She shared a birthday with Elvis, although the singer was nine years older than she. At her disappearance she was 34.

Ms. Adams remembers a staff sergeant from the Vancouver police pointing out the letters G-R-M-C daubed on the door.

“Do you know what that stands for?” he asked.

She guessed it was the French initials for the RCMP.

“Grim Reapers Motorcycle Club,” he said.

Later, a neighbour told her the house had been occupied by bikers. They were the targets of a drive-by shooting. The next day, the bikers vanished.

Ms. Adams called the police after the name was released this summer. She has since been reinterviewed by the RCMP.

“I'm really glad that she was identified,” Ms. Adams said. “It seems more hopeful, I guess.”

She continued to live in the house after the discovery, even though some of her friends were “creeped out.”

Long after she moved from Salsbury Drive, she continued to think about the woman, as she has the other missing women.

Ms. Adams volunteers at the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre, which was founded the year Ms. O'Dare was killed. She helps serve food at holiday meals, arranges prizes for bingo games and prepares the centre's newsletter.

A trial has ended, but women still go missing. The centre has posters of some who have disappeared in recent months. “It's not over,” she said.

Yesterday, Ms. Adams saw the photo for the first time, putting a face to a woman too long unknown.

Ms. Adams feels a responsibility to her.

Spare a moment to remember Lillian O'Dare, missing no more, but still posing so many questions.

2007 CTVglobemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The man who filmed the Montebello provocateurs

By Tom Hawthorn
Special to The Globe and Mail

Dec. 5, 2007


Paul Manly's five-minute, 23-second video clip of a confrontation during a summer protest in Quebec is a compelling piece of theatre.

A man wearing a suit jacket challenges three burly men whose faces are hidden behind black bandannas.

“Take your mask off, brother,” he says. “Take your mask off.”

He taps the shortest of the burly men on the shoulder. He then spots a large rock in the man's gloved right hand.

“Put the rock down, man!” the man in the suit orders. “Put the rock down!”

He taps him on the back, swears at him, calls him a cop. He places a hand against his chest to prevent him from moving toward a line of helmeted riot police.

The man with the rock responds by shoving the suited man. Meanwhile, other masked demonstrators begin chanting, in French, “Policier!”

The standoff becomes ever more tense when arms reach in to grab at the masks. In the end, the three burly men press through the police lines to be arrested and escorted away.

Mr. Manly, a 43-year-old Nanaimo filmmaker, captured the scene on a high-definition camcorder while making a documentary. He's going to call it Trading Democracy for Corporate Rule, which means Michael Moore is not about to be challenged at the box office.

Mr. Manly travelled to cover the protests against a summit of the leaders of Canada, Mexico and the United States held at a luxury resort at Montebello, Que., in August. He rode a bus with members of the Council of Canadians, which he has since joined, a group critical of trade talks taking place without input from ordinary citizens.

The balding man in the suit jacket who confronted the burly men was Dave Coles, president of the Communications, Energy, and Paperworkers Union of Canada. Which explains his use of the word “brother,” as well as some of his riper oaths. (The CEP represents many Globe and Mail employees.)

“It was a pretty intense scene for me,” Mr. Manly said of the confrontation that began Aug. 20 at a police line across from the village's cemetery.

“I was confused because I don't speak French. I thought at first the crowd was saying Dave Coles was police. When I saw rocks, then I got worried. I could see these guys were intent on causing trouble.”

The standoff lasts just three minutes. It begins with the trade union leader trying to shoo away a small contingent of masked demonstrators, at the front of which were the three burly men.

“This is our line,” Mr. Coles announces. “This is for old guys, grandmothers, grandfathers. This is our line.”

Afterward, addressing the crowd and reporters, Mr. Coles accuses the burly men of being police provocateurs, although he rhymes the word with Mousketeers. “They were provocateers with boulders,” he says. “…They're trying to create a riot so they can suck us all in to get beat up.”

Soon after, he left aboard a bus on which Mr. Manly showed him the footage. The documentarian and the trade unionist were well on their way home by the time another confrontation wound up with police firing tear gas.

Mr. Manly posted his video on the Internet that night.

“Putting the video on YouTube made me nervous,” he said. “I didn't know who these guys were. CIA? CSIS? Blackwater [security firm] agents?”

The provincial police denied the three men were police officers. The accusation was dismissed as paranoia.

But the posting got enough traffic to warrant media interest. Brief clips of Mr. Manly's video aired on national TV newscasts. The police came clean and admitted the men were undercover officers. “At no point did Sûreté du Québec policemen act as agents provocateurs or criminals,” the force said in a statement.

In retrospect, the police infiltrators are dressed in costumes that are a comic-book fantasy of the anarchist style. They looked more like frat boys celebrating Halloween. The short man with the rock wore a ball cap sideways on his head, a black T-shirt, camouflage pants and, as Mr. Manly's film showed, the exact same model of boot as was being worn by the police officer who arrested him. Whoops.

Besides, your average scrawny anarchist – a young dumpster diver, or perhaps a self-described tofu-powered vegan freak – does not usually tip the scales beyond the 100-kilogram mark.

Mr. Manly said the infiltration of legal, peaceful protests darkens the reputation of police. He is not without sympathy. His sister is an Ontario Provincial Police constable; an uncle served in the RCMP.

“I do not want to get tear-gassed, tasered, batoned, or water-cannoned,” he said. “I just want to exercise my democratic rights.”

Mr. Manly thinks there should be an inquiry into police activity at Montebello, a demand repeated in the House of Commons yesterday by his MP, Jean Crowder (NDP – Nanaimo-Cowichan). Rocks were thrown that day and he wonders who launched them. Could be protesters. Could be cops. Who knows?

Tomorrow, he will be posting more high-definition images on YouTube showing questionable behaviour by some members of the crowd.

Checking out the 10-minute introductory film to his documentary, which was posted three weeks ago, I was viewer No. 1,518. The video of the police infiltrators being exposed, posted three months ago, had 338,406 hits as of yesterday afternoon.

That's what you call an audience.

2007 CTVglobemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.

From peaches and beaches to world beaters

By Tom Hawthorn
Special to The Globe and Mail

Nov. 28, 2007


Dick Warwick buried a brother last month. He buried a sister in July and another sister a year ago next month.

He might say he was worried about grief becoming a habit if only he had more siblings to lose.

Nine of 10 Warwick children of a great sporting family are gone.

“I'm the only one left,” Dick, 79, said at his home in the Saanichton neighbourhood, near Victoria. The thought gave him pause. “You know, five of us are in the hall of fame in Saskatchewan.”

Claude was a boxer. Millie played baseball professionally in the United States in a circuit made famous by the Hollywood movie A League of Their Own. Grant and Billy were tough forwards in the National Hockey League.

Dick was never in the NHL, but he lured his brothers to the Okanagan Valley in the 1950s, where they operated a popular restaurant and helped transform a local hockey team from a squad of amateurs into world beaters.

They learned their toughness on the Saskatchewan prairie. Their parents, who hailed from Quebec's Eastern Townships, travelled west after the Great War, during which their father broke colts for military service. They had farms at Sintaluta and Indian Head, but lost the land during the Depression and were forced into the city. Their father went from driving a tractor to driving a truck.

Dick Warwick was the baby in a brood with five sisters (Embyl, Isma, Jean, Wilda, Millie) and four brothers (Archie, Claude, Grant, Billy).

“It was tough times,” he said. “There was no money at all. But my parents worked hard and we never missed a meal.”

They lived across the street from a large field that the city flooded each winter. The boys learned to stickhandle with broken sticks scavenged from the local junior team, nailed together and covered in tape. Skates were shared among the boys and Dick can remember his mother spending 15 cents to buy him a second-hand pair.

“We played every sport there was to be played. It kept us out of trouble.”

Hockey also encouraged the lads in an exploration of the pugilistic arts. In 1941, Claude took the Dominion amateur featherweight title, overcoming a hard-hitting local favourite at a tournament in Vancouver.

Claude joined the navy as a boxing instructor that summer. He was pressed into service with the Regina Navy football team and scored his team's only touchdown against Winnipeg in the 1942 Western final.

He was stationed in Nova Scotia near the end of the Second World War when the bus in which he was a passenger was struck by a train near Sydney. He suffered a concussion, was taken to hospital in Montreal, and lingered for two weeks before dying four days before what was to have been his wedding day.

Then the oldest son, Archie, a flight lieutenant in the air force, had a nervous breakdown after crash landing while towing a glider. After recuperating, he had a long career as an engineer.

Meanwhile, Grant, who was nicknamed Nobby, was named the NHL's rookie of the year for scoring 16 goals with the New York Rangers during the 1941-42 season. Grant enjoyed eight seasons in the NHL. Billy joined him for two brief call-ups with the Rangers, although most of his career was spent in the minors.

Dick never made the NHL. In those days, there were more seats in the House of Commons than jobs in the top league. Still, there was a market for the Warwicks' hard-crashing, take-no-prisoners, win-at-all-costs style. In 1948, Dick turned down a chance to play professionally at Wembley. “They made a big offer,” he said. “I'd have been the dukes of dukes.” Instead, he wound up playing in Nanaimo, then moved on to Penticton in the beautiful Okanagan Valley.

The town, whose population was about 12,000 in the mid-1950s, was known for its peaches and its beaches. The senior amateur hockey club even took its nickname from three varieties of peaches grown in the bountiful valley – Vedette, Valiant and Veteran.

The Vees had more aspirations than talent in Dick's first season with the club. It was not until he lured his brothers to British Columbia – fans even passed the hat to raise $1,300 to gain Grant's release from Buffalo – that the team had enough scoring punch to challenge for the Dominion title.

Away from the ice, the brothers operated Warwick's Commodore Cafe (“Where sportsmen meet”) across the street from the post office. Dick liked to order a sirloin, or T-bone steak. (He was also partial to a pretty cashier named Pam, to whom he has been married for 53 years.) The restaurant was a popular gathering place for local sports fans.

In 1953-54, with Grant as the playing coach, the Vees won the Okanagan league. They then defeated the Nelson Maple Leafs for the B.C. championship and the flashy Winnipeg Maroons for the Western title, before upsetting the Sudbury Wolves for the Allan Cup as senior champions. The Vees were then selected to represent Canada at the world championships to be played in West Germany the following March.

The little town went crazy. A local singer recorded a song urging her team on to victory.

The Vees were placed in the unenviable position of having to reclaim Canada's reputation as a hockey power after the Soviets had knocked off a team from Toronto the previous year.

The Vees crushed the Americans 12-1 with Billy scoring six goals. In the game against Czechoslovakia, Billy Warwick twice tied the score for Canada before the Penticton team won, 5-3.

The Warwick brothers were ardent anti-Communists, and before the showdown against the Soviet Union, Grant told the players that if they lost they might as well move to China.

A few thousand Canadian soldiers stationed nearby attended the game at Krefeld, West Germany, which was broadcast by Foster Hewitt to a large radio audience back home.

“They were dirty buggers, I'll tell you,” Dick said of the Soviet players.

The Soviets relied on a scientific rather than a spontaneous style of puck movement.

“They had a certain pattern of coming out of their own end,” Dick said. “We adapted to it and then we took command.”

The Canadians won 5-0 with Billy scoring two goals and Ivan McLelland getting the shutout. (The goalie gave up just six goals in eight games.) After the game, he told Mr. Hewitt and his Canadian audience that victory over the Soviets felt better than winning the Stanley Cup.

The team returned home with a beautiful silver trophy. The brothers put it on display in their restaurant. It was supposed to be returned to competition, but Dick remembers Billy hated the idea of surrendering it.

“He said, ‘Hell, we worked hard for that trophy. We're keeping it.' ”A silver-plated replica was ordered and was sent to Europe the next year with the Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen.

The Warwicks kept their secret for years.

A year ago, there were four surviving siblings. Millie died in Edmonton last December. Wilda died in Winnipeg in July. Billy died in the Alberta capital last month. Now, there is only Dick left from his generation of Warwicks. He knows where the trophy is but he's not saying.

The Vees' triumph came seven months after the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Vancouver. Preceded by Percy Williams' two gold medals at the 1928 Summer Olympics and followed by the world hockey championship won by the Trail Smoke Eaters in 1961 and Nancy Greene's Olympic skiing medals seven years later, the Vees put the province on the world's sporting map, a status to be confirmed in 26½ months with the opening of the 2010 Winter Games.

Mr. Warwick is hoping he'll be invited. If so, he might have a piece of silverware to show off.

2007 CTVglobemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Trying to save the world, one idea at a time

By Tom Hawthorn
Special to The Globe and Mail

Nov. 21, 2007


Lawyers in black suits and matching ties do battle with stick-wielding policemen on the streets of Lahore, Pakistan.

In Afghanistan, critics assail Hamid Karzai's meddling in anointing a successor as leader of the Alokozai, one of the Pashtun tribes supporting the president.

On the lawless border between the two lands, the remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaeda plot their latest offences.

Half a world away, in a non-descript office in an ordinary building at the University of Victoria, a man with a common name but an uncommon résumé monitors developments in those lands of strife and battle.

All in a day's work for Gordon Smith.

Few on campus know his work, fewer still in the surrounding city are aware of his reputation. Yet, he is engaged on a global level on two high-profile files – security in Afghanistan, and the expansion of the G-8.

The former diplomat and high-level federal bureaucrat is the executive director of the Centre for Global Studies, a clearing house of sorts for think tanks.

“I feel like I'm part of some kind of global conspiracy to make the world a better place,” he said. He thought a moment. “Not much of a conspiracy.”

At 66, he is wrestling with some of the great questions of our age.

More than a half-century has passed since an unforgettable childhood incident in East Berlin sparked a lifelong interest in world peace.

He weighs his words before speaking, reflecting both the caution and the precision of one who had a long career as a diplomat and a bureaucrat. In formal portraits, his long face and pensive demeanour make him look as world-weary as the cartoon character Droopy Dog. The world is a heavy thing to carry on your shoulders.

After earning a doctorate in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he embarked on a career in the Canadian civil service. His titles included a blizzard of secretaryships and senior-adviser positions and stints as deputy undersecretary of this and that. He enjoyed a steady rise and promotions to several key posts. A deputy minister at foreign affairs. Ambassador to NATO. Secretary to the cabinet for federal-provincial relations (after the collapse of the Meech Lake accord). Ambassador to the European Community.

After so long a career as a mandarin, he no longer gets to form policy, nor is his opinion sought by politicians as it once was. He has to content himself by contributing to the debate.

“Nobody from government, from the political or public service level, has ever called me, or asked me for my advice or views on anything,” he said.

“You do it because you hope to stir up a more informed discussion on these things. I think that's happening.”

Earlier this year, he prepared a study titled Canada in Afghanistan: Is It Working? In it, he argued that NATO might have to negotiate with elements of the Taliban. He also suggested a marketing board should be established to purchase the poppy crop for medicinal purposes.

As for Afghanistan, “we wear it.”

He said Canada might have unwittingly engaged in a war in Afghanistan, but having done so – and having suffered military losses, and having killed Afghan civilians – the country cannot now simply set an arbitrary date for departure.

“You just can't walk away from it, even if we got in there not knowing what we were doing. We're there.”

He rejected as unrealistic calls for a pullout, or a date for withdrawal, or the replacement of the Canadian military in hard-fought Kandahar by another NATO ally.

“The political debate in this country is to me – I was going to say the word pathetic, but that's too strong – is superficial.”

His other portfolio is less emotional. He has been hard at work making the case for the G-8 group of nations to expand. The addition of China, Brazil, India, Mexico and South Africa may some day lead to a G-13.

Mr. Smith was born into a family in which public service was seen as a duty. His maternal grandfather, Gordon W. Scott, a chartered accountant from Montreal, had been provincial treasurer in the Quebec government. After the outbreak of the Second World War, he was pressed into service by Munitions Minister C. D. Howe as a dollar-a-year adviser.

Early in the war, he joined Mr. Howe and industrialist E. P. Taylor aboard the Western Prince, which sailed from New York to Britain with a cargo of aircraft for the Royal Air Force. The three men were travelling to promote the sale of Canadian munitions to their wartime ally. About 600 kilometres west of landfall, the liner was struck by a torpedo fired by a German U-boat. The three all managed to get into lifeboats, but the one carrying Mr. Scott capsized and he was lost at sea.

A grandson today recites the date – Dec. 16, 1940 – as though it happened much less than 67 years ago. Mr. Smith's father was absent for much of his childhood, spending four years in military service.

When the boy was aged 12, his family toured Europe. He asked to visit East Berlin, which was under Communist control. The Berlin Wall had not yet been built, nor had the city recovered from the desperate battle that had levelled it in 1945.

“The rubble was all there. People were living in the basement of bombed-out buildings.”

One stop on their tour included a cemetery in which thousands of Soviet troops had been buried. A keen photographer, young Gordon took out his Leica camera to snap a shot of a bust of Stalin.

As he did so, a worker dressed in blue coveralls stepped forward. He addressed the boy in English.

“Take a picture of that bastard?”

The worker spat on the ground.

Soldiers who had been standing guard at the graveyard came running as if to arrest the man.

“Our guide swooped me up, threw me in the car, and off we went back through Checkpoint Charlie,” he said.

From that day on, he said, issues of war and peace have never been far from his mind.

A boy whose curiosity unwittingly caused an incident in which the outcome for the protester will remain forever unknown has spent the rest of his life trying to solve, rather than provoke, conflict.