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The lights went out, but they did shine at times

2003 The Year in Review

2003 The Year in Review

2003 The Year in Review

A pox, a new PM - and frosty pucks

2003 The Year in Review

2003 The Year in Review

2003 The Year In Review

Saddam's capture caps big story

2003 The Year in Review

2003 The Year in Review

2003 The Year in Review

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Parents watch with pride

Our beef among safest: Peters

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Heart victim 'plane' lucky

New year arrives early for children

Revellers ring in new year

Clarkson commends humanity of peacekeeping

Kisses and a drink for New Year's

Canadian quake aid reaches Iranians

Israelis brace for terror attacks

California cops deny Jackson was roughed up

Arar calls for inquiry after allegations

Alberta, mad cow link queried

Martin consults with Klein

Second fight breaks out between Grits

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2003 The Year in Review

Free Press staff   2004-01-01 04:20:41  


1 -- Legislation comes into effect requiring gun owners in Canada to have their firearms registered.

5 -- Two suicide bombs kill at least 23 people in Tel Aviv.

9 -- Ottawa Senators hockey club files for bankruptcy protection.

10 -- North Korea withdraws from nuclear arms control treaty. B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell is arrested for drunk driving while on vacation in Hawaii.

1 * -- Preliminary hearing begins in Port Coquitlam, B.C, for accused serial killer Robert Pickton.

14 -- Edith Sanders, 81, is sentenced to four years in prison for abusing two daughters and a woman she enslaved in her London home.

20 -- Libya wins chairmanship of UN Human Rights Commission.

2 * -- McDonald's reports its first quarterly loss ever ($345 million US), and says it plans to close 719 restaurants.

24 -- Bank manager Christopher Coburn is hailed as a hero by London police after persuading a knife-wielding robber to free a female employee and hold him hostage instead. Toronto city councillor Jack Layton wins leadership of federal NDP, succeeding Alexa McDonough.

26 -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl.

27 -- UN inspectors say in report to Security Council they have found no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

29 -- AOL Time Warner posts loss of nearly $100 billion US, the largest ever in American corporate history.


1 -- Space shuttle Columbia disintegrates upon re-entry into Earth's atmosphere over Texas; crew of five men and two women killed. Seven high school students killed in avalanche east of Revelstoke, B.C., the second deadly slide to hit the area in a month.

2 -- Vaclav Havel steps down after more than a decade as president of Czech Republic.

4 -- Canada Bread announces it is closing its plant on South Street in London, putting 181 people out of work.

5 -- Provincial premiers and federal government reach a $27-billion, five-year deal on health-care system. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell presents spy photos and taped radio intercepts at UN Security Council as evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.

6 -- A lesbian couple from London asks a family court judge to declare the partner of the biological mother of a two-year-old boy as a third legal parent.

9 -- Melanie Turgeon from Lac-Beauport, Que., wins women's downhill at world ski championships at St. Moritz, Switzerland. Cindy Klassen of Winnipeg wins overall title at the world all-around speed-skating championships.

10 -- Inderjit Singh Reyat pleads guilty to manslaughter in the 1985 Air India bombing that killed 329 people and is sentenced to five years in prison.

12 -- International Atomic Energy Agency declares North Korea in violation of its international obligations.

15 -- Residents evacuated from Badger, Nfld., after ice jam causes flooding. Millions of people around the world march in peace rallies to protest impending war on Iraq.

17 -- Winnipeg-based Great-West Lifeco strikes deal to acquire Canada Life, creating country's largest insurance company. At least 21 die in stampede at Chicago nightclub.

18 -- Finance Minister John Manley delivers federal budget, announcing increase in spending on health, the military, the environment and social programs. Israeli tanks roll into Gaza City, killing 11 Palestinians. Fire in subway car in Daegu, South Korea, kills an estimated 190 people.

19 -- An Iranian military plane crashes in southeastern Iran, killing more than 300.

20 -- Nightclub erupts in flames during pyrotechnics display at a rock concert in West Warwick, R. I., killing at least 99.

24 -- Earthquake kills at least 265 people in western China.

27 -- Sea King helicopter crashes on deck of Canadian destroyer headed for Arabian Sea.


9 -- Randy Ferbey and his Alberta rink defeat Nova Scotia in Nokia Brier final.

11 -- Libya accepts responsibility for 1988 Lockerbie bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 that killed 270 people, and agrees to pay compensation to families of victims.

12 -- Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic is assassinated by gunmen in Belgrade. Elizabeth Smart, a teenager who was abducted from her bedroom nine months ago, is found just kilometres from her home in Salt Lake City.

17 -- The U.S. gives Saddam Hussein a 48-hour ultimatum to get out of Iraq with his two sons or face war. Prime Minister Jean Chretien declares Canada will not join the war without UN support.

18 -- Palestinian parliament creates new position of prime minister, with Mahmoud Abbas named to the post.

20 -- London city manager George Duncan resigns following months of clashes with council members over leaks of confidential information. Duncan's resignation came eight months after he joined the city. U.S.-led war in Iraq begins with strikes at targets in Baghdad aimed at killing senior Iraqi leaders; American, British and Australian forces roll into Iraq from Kuwait. Air Canada announces plans to cut 3,600 jobs.

2 * -- Chicago wins best picture Oscar, Adrien Brody named best actor and Nicole Kidman best actress.

24 -- Brose North America announces plans to build an $81-million auto parts plant in London that will create 350 jobs.

26 -- A St. Thomas court orders an Aylmer couple not to strike their seven children, ending months of litigation that began when social workers removed the children from their home in July 2001. Ontario declares a health emergency as number of SARS cases jumps to 62.

30 -- Women's world hockey championship in China cancelled over fears of SARS that has claimed 50 lives around the world.


1 -- Air Canada files for bankruptcy protection. SARS kills two more people in Toronto, bringing the death toll to six in Canada.

4 -- U.S. says its forces have secured Baghdad's international airport.

5 -- Avril Lavigne wins four Juno awards, including best single of the year and pop album; Shania Twain wins three awards, including artist of the year.

9 -- U.S. tanks and troops pour into the heart of Baghdad, topple statue of Saddam Hussein.

10 -- British Airways and Air France announce they will end their Concorde service because of falling passenger demand.

11 -- A family court judge turns down an application by a lesbian couple from London to have the partner of the biological mother of a two-year-old boy declared a third legal parent.

1 * -- Mike Weir, a native of Bright's Grove, becomes the first Canadian to win the Masters golf tournament. Canada's Randy Ferbey and his team defeat Switzerland to win the world curling championship.

14 -- Liberals under Jean Charest win majority in Quebec election.

15 -- Catherine Burr, a human rights specialist hired in July 2002 to combat harassment at city hall, resigns after expressing concerns about the independence of her role.

2 * -- WHO issues travel advisory that names Toronto along with Beijing and China's Shanxi province as places that travellers should avoid in order to minimize the global spread of SARS, which has killed at least 250 people worldwide. Ontario Provincial Police lay 12 criminal charges against brothers Stan and Frank Koebel who ran Walkerton's water system during deadly E. coli outbreak in May 2000.

24 -- Federal Fisheries Minister Robert Thibault announces fishing ban off northeast coast of Newfoundland and the Gulf of St. Lawrence because of depleted stocks. North Korea admits it has nuclear weapons.

28 -- Air India trial opens in Vancouver, with two men pleading not guilty to the bombing of an Air India plane in 1985.

29 -- WHO rescinds travel ban advisory for Toronto.

30-- U.S. President George W. Bush unveils "road map" for peace in the Middle East, urging Palestinians and Israelis to end violence. The plan envisions a Palestinian state by 2005.


1 -- Philips Electronics announces it is closing its light-bulb manufacturing plant on Clarke Road in London. The plant employed 145 people. At least 167 people, including more than 40 students are killed in earthquake in southeastern Turkey. B.C. Appeal Court says laws preventing same-sex marriage are discriminatory. Canadian dollar surges above 70 cents US for the first time in five years. U.S. President George W. Bush declares major hostilities in Iraq over.

* -- Mob of about 250 people, upset over reduced crab quotas, set fire to four vessels, a fish plant and a federal building in Shippagan, N.B.

11 -- Canada beats Sweden to win world hockey championship.

12 -- Suicide bombs kill at least 34 at housing compounds in Saudi capital of Riyadh.

1 * -- Insolvent Air Canada cuts routes and grounds 40 planes as a result of steep drop in traffic due to SARS outbreak.

19 -- Five suicide bombings in 48 hours kill 17 people, crushing hopes for peace talks between Israel and Palestinian Authority. British adventurer Pen Hadrow, 41, becomes first person to trek across Canada to the North Pole.

20 -- The first Canadian case of mad cow disease in a decade is confirmed in Alberta, prompting the United States, Australia and Japan to ban beef imports from Canada.

21 -- Earthquake kills more than 2,200 people in Algeria. More than 190 countries, including Canada, adopt treaty aimed at diminishing the use of tobacco.

22 -- A London couple and a family friend are sentenced on charges stemming from the death of Walter Zepeda, 19. Zepeda died of dehydration in January 2002 after he was tied down for nearly seven days in an exorcism attempt. Zepeda's mother, Ana Mejia-Lopez, is freed from custody; his father, Diego Zepeda-Cordero, and friend Alex Osegueda are jailed for another 15 months.

UN Security Council votes 14-0 to lift 13 years of sanctions against Iraq. The resolution authorizes U.S. and Britain to administer Iraq and control its oil until a legitimate government is recognized in the country.

27 -- Federal government introduces legislation to eliminate criminal penalties for simple possession of marijuana, but promises a tougher line against growers and dealers.

28 -- Goalie Patrick Roy announces his retirement after 18 NHL seasons.

31 -- Nova Scotia MP Peter MacKay is elected leader of the federal Progressive Conservative party.


2 -- The Queen marks the 50th anniversary of her coronation at Westminster Abbey.

* -- Manitoba New Democratic Party led by Gary Doer easily wins second straight majority election.

4 -- International court for Sierra Leone indicts Liberian President Charles Taylor on war crimes charges. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas launch peace plan, offering pledges in hopes of ending decades of bloodshed. Martha Stewart is indicted on nine criminal charges, including obstruction of justice, fraud and conspiracy stemming from alleged illegal stock trades.

9 -- Premier Bernard Lord and his Conservatives win majority in New Brunswick general election. New Jersey Devils win Stanley Cup, defeating Anaheim Mighty Ducks.

10 -- Ontario Court of Appeal rules that the right to marry should be extended to same-sex couples.

11 -- A Palestinian suicide bomber dressed as an Orthodox Jew blows himself up on a bus in Jerusalem, killing 16 people.

15 -- Actor Hume Cronyn, 91, dies. The London native was nominated for an Academy Award in 1944, one of the high points of a stage and screen career that spanned more than 70 years. San Antonio Spurs win the NBA championship.

17 -- Federal government says it will change the definition of marriage to include gays and lesbians.

19 -- The U.S. air force decides not to court-martial two pilots who mistakenly bombed Canadian troops in Afghanistan in April 2000, killing four.

2 * -- George Radwanski resigns as federal privacy commissioner following vote of non-confidence from MPs.

27 -- Canada's largest shipyard, Saint John Shipbuilding Ltd., owned by the Irving family, is formally closed after remaining shut for three years.

28 -- 15,000 people crowd Storybook Gardens when the venue reopens after a $7-million renovation.

29 -- Alberta skier Beckie Scott is awarded Olympic silver medal after IOC decides to nullify the results of a Russian cross-country skier. Israel begins a troop pullback in Gaza and three leading Palestinian militant groups declare a three-month suspension of attacks on Israelis in breakthroughs for a U.S.-backed peace plan.


1 -- Bylaw banning smoking in London restaurants, bars and workplaces goes into effect. A London man becomes the first person charged under the bylaw after he lights up in a downtown bar and asks the owner to call police.

2 -- Vancouver wins right to host the 2010 Winter Olympics. World Health Organization removes Toronto from its list of SARS-affected areas.

8 -- Iranian conjoined twins, 29, die after doctors in Singapore separate them.

9 -- Bangladeshi ferry capsizes south of Dhaka; at least 600 people are missing and feared drowned.

11 -- Iranian-born Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi dies in Iran after being detained and reportedly beaten for taking pictures in a Tehran prison.

1 * -- The first interim government of 25 prominent Iraqis takes office in Iraq.

17 -- The Canadian Baseball League pulls the plug on its season less than two months after the London Monarchs began play in a nationally televised game at Labatt Park.

22 -- Odai and Qusai Hussein, sons of the ousted Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, are killed by U.S. troops after a raid on a villa in Mosul.

2 * -- B.C. pig farmer Robert Pickton is ordered to stand trial in the deaths of 15 missing women.

27 -- Lance Armstrong wins his fifth consecutive Tour de France.

28 -- More than 200 people are arrested during violent demonstrations in Montreal against World Trade Organization meeting.

30 -- Close to half a million people attend a SARS benefit concert for Toronto featuring the Rolling Stones and other musical acts.


2 -- Forest fires rage out of control in parts of Alberta and British Columbia.

5 -- Nova Scotia election results in a minority government led by Tories under John Hamm.

8 -- Canadian William Sampson, who had been sentenced to death for 2000 car bombing in Riyadh, is released from Saudi Arabia prison after 31 months in solitary confinement.

11 -- Liberian President Charles Taylor surrenders power to his vice-president before heading into exile to Nigeria.

12 -- Prime Minister Chretien announces $1.3 billion in spending to curb global warming under Kyoto environmental treaty.

1 * -- Dr. Nestor Yanga of Toronto dies of SARS, bringing the final SARS death toll in Canada to 44.

14 -- Biggest blackout in North American history hits most of Ontario and the eastern seaboard, including New York, Cleveland and Detroit, leaving 50 million people in the dark.

18 -- French health minister resigns after heat wave death toll reaches 10,000.

19 -- Truck bomb outside hotel housing UN headquarters in Baghdad kills at least 23 people. Suicide bombing on a bus kills 21 people in Jerusalem.

21 -- Canadian troops begin their first patrol of Afghani capital of Kabul.

25 -- The Canadian Food Inspection Agency announces a recall of beef and beef products from Aylmer Meat Packers Inc. An Agriculture Ministry official said the plant was closed and its licence suspended after a search by provincial investigators. Prime Minister Chretien signs land claim deal giving Dogrib control over 39,000 square kilometres in N.W.T.

27 -- Mars passes closer to Earth -- 55.76 million kilometres -- than at any time in last 60,000 years.

29 -- Car bomb kills more than 125 people, including leading Iraqi Shia leader, at shrine in Najaf.


1 -- Netherlands becomes the first country to make marijuana available as a prescription drug, allowing pharmacies to sell it to chronically ill patients.

4 -- Navistar International announces it will keep its Chatham plant open. The company had planned to close the aging factory, but changed its position after the province and federal governments kicked in $65 million in grants and loans.

6 -- Mahmoud Abbas resigns as prime minister of Palestinian Authority, throwing the peace process in crisis.

9 -- Montreal's Dorval Airport is renamed Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport.

12 -- UN lifts sanctions on Libya imposed about 15 years ago after the bombing of Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland.

16 -- Ryan Malcolm, a waiter from Kingston, is crowned the Canadian Idol winner in the televised pop star contest.

19 -- Supreme Court of Canada rules that the Metis are a distinct aboriginal group with a constitutional right to hunt for food.

25 -- Canada's largest meat processing company, Maple Leaf Foods, buys the second largest packaged meat company, Schneider Corp. in $413-million deal.

28 -- Archbishop Marc Ouellet of Quebec is named cardinal by Pope John Paul.

29 -- Conservatives win majority government in P.E.I.

30 -- Murray Faulker is named London's next police chief, taking over when Brian Collins retires in March.


2 -- South African John Maxwell Coetzee wins Nobel Prize for literature. Liberals, led by Dalton McGuinty, wins majority in Ontario election.

5 -- Canadian Maher Arar is released from Syrian jail after a year in custody.

7 -- Arnold Schwarzenegger wins election to replace California Gov. Gray Davis. Canadian dollar climbs past 75 cents US to finish at its highest close since 1996.

10 -- Iranian writer and lawyer Shirin Ebadi wins the Nobel Peace Prize for her focus on human rights.

14 -- D.B.C. Pierre wins the Booker Prize for his first novel, Vernon God Little.

15 -- China launches its first manned spacecraft; it lands safely after orbiting Earth 14 times.

16 -- Leaders of Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservatives unveil a deal to merge the parties. Security Council authorizes multinational occupying force under U.S. command for Iraq and urges UN members to contribute troops and funds for reconstruction.

17 -- Carlos Mesa Gisbert takes over as new president of Bolivia after his predecessor, Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, resigned following weeks of bloody street protests.

19 -- Pope John Paul beatifies Mother Teresa, calling her an icon of charity.

20 -- Kirk Jones, 40, of Canton, Mich., survives a plunge over Niagara Falls, wearing only his clothes.

21 --Conservatives win a majority in Newfoundland election.

25 -- Florida Marlins win the World Series with a victory in the sixth game over the New York Yankees.

27 -- Suicide bombers strike at Red Cross headquarters and police stations in Baghdad, killing at least 34 people.

28 -- MPs approve legislation paving the way for limited use of human embryos in medical research and banning human cloning.


2 -- Iraqi insurgents down a U.S. helicopter, killing 16 American soldiers. Gene Robinson is consecrated as bishop of New Hampshire, the Anglican Communion's first openly homosexual bishop.

4 -- M. G. Vassanji is the first two-time recipient of $25,000 Giller Prize for literature.

5 -- Saskatchewan NDP, led by Premier Lorne Calvert, wins a fourth term by a slim majority in provincial election. Gary Ridgway of Auburn, Wash., known as the Green River Killer, pleads guilty to 48 murders.

6 -- Prime Minister Jean Chretien receives tributes on his last day in House of Commons. Former privacy commissioner George Radwanski is first Canadian to be found guilty of contempt of Parliament in 90 years.

9 -- At least 18 people, mostly Arab expatriates, including a Canadian landed immigrant, are killed in a suicide bombing at residential compound in Riyadh.

10 -- Anne Marie DeCicco is re-elected as London mayor, defeating main rival Vaughan Minor by more than 11,000 votes. Incumbent mayors Mike Bradley in Sarnia and Diane Gagner in Chatham-Kent are re-elected. Jeff Kohler captures the top post in St. Thomas and Michael Harding wins the mayor's race in Woodstock.

12 -- The provincial government announces an inquiry will be held in the 1995 shooting death of native protester Dudley George at Ipperwash Provincial Park. Truck bomb kills at least 18 Italians at headquarters of Italian police station in southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah. Douglas Glover wins Governor General's Literary Award for his book Elle.

1 * -- Montreal native Eric Gagne of the Los Angeles Dodgers wins National League Cy Young Award

14 -- Paul Martin is elected leader of federal Liberals at convention in Toronto.

16 -- Edmonton Eskimos win Grey Cup, beating Montreal Alouettes 34-22.

17 -- Conrad Black is forced out as CEO of Hollinger International, and he and two other executives say they will repay their share of $32 million in payments that were not properly authorized. Movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger is sworn in as governor of California.

20 -- Two suicide bombings, at the British consulate and a London-based bank, kill 27 people in Istanbul. Pop star Michael Jackson faces charges of child molestation in California.

22 -- Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers play at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton in the first-ever outdoor NHL game, with Montreal winning 4-3.

2 * -- Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze resigns after mass protests over corruption and poverty.

24 -- Jury sentences John Allen Muhammad to death in connection with Washington sniper spree.

25 -- CN Rail, Canada's largest railway, announces it is buying B.C. Rail, the third-largest railway, in $1-billion cash deal.

27 -- President George W. Bush makes a secret, surprise trip to Iraq to serve troops turkey on U.S. Thanksgiving.

28 -- James Driskell is released on bail in Winnipeg after his 1991 conviction for murdering a friend is put into question by DNA tests.

30 -- U.S. troops in Iraq repulse massive attack by insurgents, killing 46 people. Abdul Rahman Khadr, 20, returns to Canada after being held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on suspicion of terrorist activities.


1 -- Ontario government announces it will raise the minimum wage to $7.15 an hour, effective Feb. 1, 2004, from $6.85 an hour, the first increase in nine years.

2 -- Bloc Quebecois MP Robert Lanctot announces he will cross the floor of the House and join the Liberals.

4 -- Ontario government fires three top officials at Ontario Power Generation, blaming them for cost overruns at Pickering nuclear facility.

5 -- Canadian Alliance members vote 96 per cent in favour of joining forces with the Progressive Conservatives for a new party called the Conservative Party of Canada.

6 -- Members of Progressive Conservative party vote 90 per cent in favour of union with Canadian Alliance.

7 -- Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe pulls his country out of the Commonwealth after the 54-member group continues the country's suspension for human rights abuses and defiance of democracy.

8 -- Uptown Theatre in downtown Toronto collapses during demolition, killing one man in adjacent building and injuring 14 others.

10 -- Nova Scotia Tory Scott Brison announces he is switching to the federal Liberal party because he disagrees with his party's union with the Canadian Alliance. U.S. industrialist Jerry Zucker buys 10 per cent of Hudson's Bay Co., Canada's oldest company, and says he is mulling a takeover.

12 -- A London jury convicts Thomas Hurst, 21, of first-degree murder in the brutal sex slaying of five-year-old Naiomi Almeida. Paul Martin sworn in as Canada's 21st prime minister, along with new cabinet that includes Ralph Goodale as finance minister and Anne McLellan as deputy PM.

1 * -- U.S. soldiers capture Saddam Hussein after finding him hiding in a hole north of Baghdad.

16 -- In an unanimous vote, London city council approves the city's bid for the 2006 world junior hockey championship.

Dec. 22 -- The U.S. government raised the national threat level to orange, indicating the risk of a terrorist attack that could be larger than Sept. 11, 2001.

Dec. 24 -- London health officials were trying to cope with new influenza outbreaks at five long-term care facilities as Perth County reports the flu-related deaths of three elderly patients.

26 -- The United States announces its first-ever case of mad cow disease.

27 -- Up to 30,000 people were feared dead as an earthquake hit the city of Bam, Iraq.

28 -- Canada disputed a U.S. finding that the animal struck with mad cow disease originated in Alberta.

29 -- Police were treating the death of Rebbecca Haney, 2 1/2, in Oxford County as a homicide.

30 -- Police expanded their probe into Rebbecca Haney's death, asking for the public's help.

Copyright © The London Free Press 2001,2002,2003

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