Six men can’t pry bear off victim

“I grabbed my best knife. When I got there the victim was being thoroughly gripped by the bear with his paws and it was chewing on his back. It was a horrific sight,” Mr. Stirling said yesterday.

The bear was standing, doggedly gripping its victim with its teeth and front paws while four men tried to pry it off with fishing gaffs – strong poles with hooks designed for lifting heavy fish – with such force that they bent the poles. Another man was beating the animal’s head with a hammer before he picked up a 10-centimetre blade and stabbed it repeatedly.

Mr. Stirling pleaded with the other man to stop annoying the bear with his “tiny” knife, then stepped forward with his chosen weapon, a Swedish filleting knife with a 30-cm blade.

“I was saying, ‘Where is his head?’ When I could see his throat, I reached in stabbing. I could hear blood flowing. I figured I got his jugular.”

The victim, a 52-year-old Saltspring Island man whose name has not been released, is in stable condition in a Victoria hospital.

The initial results of a necropsy performed on the bear by a vet yesterday showed the animal was very old, skinny and in poor health.

Mr. Stirling said the animal was completely focused on its victim throughout the attack, which lasted about five minutes.

“It was premeditated. He went straight for him and there is nothing you could do to prevent it. Any one of us could have been the victim – I was surprised he didn’t choose me because I was the only one on the dock cleaning fish.”

Bud Watt, one of the first rescuers on the scene, said someone tried to distract the bear with fish but it seemed intent on bigger prey.

“It never let go until it was dead,” he said. “It didn’t know we were there.”

Mr. Watt, the owner of the Port Renfrew Marina, where the attack took place, said the bear swam a short distance across an estuary where the marina is located and vaulted straight over the back of the boat at the man.

“This was a pretty humbling experience. There’s a 200-pound bear, and 700 pounds of men can’t move the damn thing,” he said. “They always seem such lethargic beasts when you see them walking along the beach, but when you see the damage they can do, they aren’t cute anymore.”

He said it never occurred to him to do anything but run toward the attack.

“Everyone was thinking, ‘We got to stop this thing or this guy’s going to die.’ No way anyone could sit around and watch.”

The marina is in a remote area known for black bears, a two-hour drive west of Victoria, and a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Environment said conservation officers had to put down a bear just a few weeks ago in the area because of aggressive behaviour.

But Kate Thompson said this attack was unusual. “This was a very aggressive bear. When you have five or seven people fighting it and it wouldn’t back off, it’s oddball behaviour.”

Ms. Thompson said roughly 700 bears are killed each year in B.C. because of conflicts with humans, but this has been an especially bad year in some areas because a poor season for berries has starved many animals.

The Port Renfrew incident was the seventh bear attack on a human in B.C. this year, but the first one on Vancouver Island since 2005.

Total domination provides Dutch treat for Oranje Army

One felt sorry for those French fans, dryly ironic in their French team shirts, berets and big plastic baguettes. They were certainly cute and rather sweetly self-deprecating, but they’ve got nothing on the Oranje Army. It is emphatically orange, enormous and united. Like the Dutch team, this time.

And France got a sharp, shocking taste of the Dutch style of soccer here in last night. They were given a master class in dazzle, the sort of freewheeling, always-in-search-of-a-goal soccer that the Dutch suddenly epitomize again. At this tournament, the Netherlands has now defeated both the World Cup champions Italy and runners-up France, with stunning ease. It has qualified for the next round, with a game to spare.

This particular Dutch team, more so than the last few incarnations, is rooted in the style of the original Dutch invention, Total Football.

The Dutch brought Total Football to fruition in the 1970s. As a kid I remember the stunning, endless movement of it taking the Netherlands to two World Cup finals. Before that, the Ajax team had come to dominate European club soccer using the same system. It’s certainly a system, but as soccer systems go, this one was both revolutionary and incredibly entertaining.

It involves everyone moving constantly, supporting the entire team in a collective, attacking-and-defending effort. A player who moves out of position is automatically replaced by another from his team, whether it’s a striker stepping in to defend or vice-versa. It’s ceaseless and fluid and confounds the opposing team. A defender assigned to mark a striker is suddenly marking defender who has gone on the attack. For the team playing Total Football, unity and intuitive collective understanding is everything.

The potential for Total Football is obvious – it bedazzles the crowd and baffles the opposition. But it depends entirely on a certain mentality. The players have to be deeply skilled to switch positions easily, or be endlessly drilled in multi-tasking.

In other soccer cultures it’s all unthinkable. A player does his job as well as possible but an Italian defender is not going to spring forward into an attacker’s position and expect his striker, in return, to instantly shift to the back four.

The classic Dutch Total Football is played with a 4-3-3 system, allowing for ease of movement on the field, with flying wingers, in the style of Arjen Robben ceaselessly going forward, allowing the entire Dutch team to shift behind him. In recent years, Dutch managers tinkered with it, and relied on the traditional 4-4-2 formation. It didn’t work.

Current manager Marco van Basten, a former player, apparently listened to the complaints of his team, heard all their arguments about how to mesh individual skills and shifted to the unusual 4-2-3-1 formation we’re seeing here at Euro 2008. It means using two holding midfielders, usually Giovanni Van Bronckhorst and Demy De Zeeuw, while Wesley Sneijder acts as a sort of fulcrum in front of them, spreading the ball to two wingers and forward to lone upfront man Ruud van Nistelrooy.

As we’ve seen, this is a system of always-flowing, always-attacking fluidity, Sneijder moves forward and moves back. It’s about helping van Nistelrooy and he, meanwhile, lets others go forward in his place. It’s total football tweaked to match the skills of these particular players.

Yesterday’s game was remarkable on several counts, one being the lack of a goal for van Nistelrooy. He’s supposed to be the goal-getter, but that’s only on paper. In reality he’s often a utility man, supporting seven players who are free to go forward, shoot and possibly score

It’s simple, really: Dutch soccer is rooted in collectivism, flexibility and the creative use of limited space. So, too, are the principles of Dutch society. At the beginning a group of people in a small area had to reclaim land from the sea and build dikes to project themselves. Only if everybody was reliably in sync could any of this succeed. Later, it became necessary to put small space to maximum use and that required both creativity and an assured blend of individualism and collectivity. It’s all about collaboration and creativity. And use of space. That’s Dutch soccer. And Dutch architecture and design.

Books have been written about this. It’s odd how soccer can be the opening into a society, but it can be on several counts. As for now, what happened last night.

And the Oranje Army? That’s so Dutch, the massive crowd of 50,000 or 60,000 people joining together to support the team, no matter what. Travelling and flowing like a river of people. And all in orange. Some are orange cowboys. Some are orange Elvis figures. Some are little Dutch girls in pigtails. Some are Marilyn Monroes. But all in orange, always. That’s collectivism, individualism and ingenuity, right there. And entertainment, too.

A Dutch Treat

Beside it, waiting to travel elsewhere, a noisy mob gradually filled the platform. They were decked out entirely in orange, with goofy hats and honking horns and drinking as if beer were about to be made illegal.

Disbelief dominated on both sides, if they were being honest about it. Netherlands 3, Italy 0 in the opening match for both sides in a big tournament. The World Cup champions humbled by a side that hadn’t beaten them in 30 years.

The memory of all of those glamorous Dutch soccer teams who couldn’t quite get it done when it mattered dissolving in the evening air, along with the pretensions of the Azzurri faithful, who for a couple of years – who’s kidding who, forever – have felt that their best 11 defined the sport’s aesthetic heights.

It began at the Stade de Suisse, built on the location of the former Wankdorf Stadium, which was the site of two famous/infamous matches during the 1954 World Cup – Germany’s Miracle of Bern triumph over Hungary in the final, and Hungary’s bloody Battle of Bern win over Brazil in the quarter-finals.

The new place is just a sterile little 32,000-seat park, which by match time seemed three-quarters filled with Dutch supporters who follow their team far and wide and who obviously weren’t put off by predictions that theirs was an ordinary, uninspiring, dysfunctional side crippled by injury.

The match, to be fair, began a bit tentatively.

The Italians are always happy to ease into a soccer tournament, taking draws instead of wins if necessary, defending at all costs, getting through to the next round and then getting down to business. But Holland showed plenty of poise, controlling the ball in the midfield, with the towering Orlando Engelaar looking cool playing the centre of the wheel.

The tone changed dramatically in the 26th minute, when Ruud van Nistelrooy opened the scoring on a goal that appeared at first – and second – glance to be offside.

Standing just off the goal line, a couple of yards behind the last standing defender, he deflected a pass/shot from Wesley Sneijder into the Italian net, then immediately looked over at the referee’s assistant as if expecting to see the raised flag.

But what seemed black and white in the moment was made a bit grey by the fact that Italy’s Christian Panucci was lying, apparently injured, just beyond the touchline. If he had taken himself off the pitch on purpose to play van Nistelrooy offside, as was apparently the ruling, the goal should indeed have counted.

In any case, it did, and the Italian players and fans were incensed.

They couldn’t complain, though, when Sneijder made it 2-0.

Dirk Kuyt took a beautiful cross from Giovanni van Bronckhorst and headed it gently back to Sneijder, who volleyed past goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon in the 31st minute. It could well have been 3-0 at the half, when van Nistelrooy was sent in alone, and just may have been impeded trying to get to the ball before Buffon could deflect it away.

That score after 45 minutes meant the Italians would have to turn it on in the second half, to leave their comfort zone and revert to an all-out attack. They did, and, especially after Alessandro Del Piero came on as a substitute, at times forced the Dutch back on their heels.

Luca Toni, sent in alone, chipped one over the bar, and twice ‘keeper Edwin van der Sar was called on to make spectacular saves, the first on a shot by Fabio Grosso, the second on a direct free kick by Andrea Pirlo. Had it gone to 2-1 there, Holland would have been in tough to hold on.

But the rebound off Pirlo’s free kick was turned into a brilliant counterattack, which culminated with van Bronckhorst heading home the third goal for the Netherlands in the 79th minute and that was that – a little bit of soccer history made on a spot that has seen plenty of it.

Now the Dutch, suddenly brimming with confidence, are playing a kind of beautiful game that was supposed to be beyond this year’s squad.

Robin van Persie, who was ruled out by his coach because of injury, came on in the second half as a substitute, and looked both fine and dangerous. Arjen Robben remains hobbled at least through the first round, but on the evidence of last night, they don’t really need him.

Now the Italians understand that they can’t ease their way into the final eight, that they’ll need at least one win over France or Romania, and that without Fabio Cannavaro (ankle) at the back, the team that locked down everyone at World Cup 2006 looks not nearly so impregnable.

Not such good news for the folks riding the rails back to Rome last night, but great news for those just tuning in for a show.

Betty of Burleigh Falls

Betty was a member of the three-century club, having lived in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.

During visits she would reminisce about life with a chuckle and a twinkle in her eye. Born Elizabeth Windsor, she was the third-youngest of 14 children. They lived in tourist country in a one-storey log house. The long kitchen had an equally long table to seat the large family.

Tourists would take the boat to Port Hope, Ont., then the train to Lakefield and a stagecoach or carriage to their cottage. Betty’s mother had an ample milk house kept cool in the summer with ice that had been collected in the winter. Eggs, cream, butter, cheese and pork from their mixed farm were stored here for delivery to the tourists. Her father was a guide on Stony Lake and would take tourists out in his rowboat to fish.

After Betty married Bill Crowe in 1919 they bought a farm nearby. They had two children, Morley and Marlene. Betty continued her parents’ tradition and sold goods to tourists.

Betty and Bill attended the nearby Zion United Church, where Betty arranged musical evenings with neighbouring choirs. The skits she performed would bring the house down.

Their new 1928 Chevy replaced their horse and buggy. Bill delivered mail for 36 years. Betty would often go along to take clothing and food to needy families.

Betty once said having a car changed her life. She started writing stories on accidents and weddings for the Peterborough Examiner, for which she was paid by the word. Always resourceful, she would notice the expiry date on people’s newspaper subscriptions and get the commission when the customer renewed.

After Bill died in 1972 Betty moved to Lakefield.

She hadn’t travelled farther than Kingston or Niagara but was always deeply interested in what was happening in the world. Although only 15 when the Titanic sank, she would always cut the anniversary article out of the paper.

She had a constant stream of visitors and would always serve them tea in a china cup. Young and old loved to talk to her.

At 91, Betty accomplished a lifelong dream of writing her own cookbook. Asked when she celebrated her 100th birthday about her proudest moment, she said it was when her cookbook was published.

No doubt her long life and good health can be attributed to eating food in moderation, drinking plenty of black tea, keeping a positive attitude, and the grace of God.

Betty leaves her two children, five grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren with many happy memories.

Gwen McMullen is Betty’s friend.

One big winter wallop

Environment Canada senior meteorologist Ria Alsen said it will finally leave Ontario and Quebec later Sunday morning, and the Maritimes this evening, but will it likely be Monday before it exits Newfoundland.

 

In terms of its size, duration, precipitation and winds, the storm is a monster.

The Ottawa and Niagara Falls areas have been hardest hit in Ontario with more than 45 centimetres of snow since Friday, pushing totals for the year to near record levels.

There have been scores of traffic accidents across the province, hundreds of flight delays and cancellations and even some power outages in Toronto.

Due to higher winds and blowing snow, the situation is even worse in Montreal and Quebec’s Eastern Townships where more than 40 centimetres of snow has fallen.

And it’s messier yet in the Maritimes where the snow has been mixed with freezing rain in many areas.

If there’s any consolation for those digging out Sunday it’s that they may go down in history as witnesses to one of the snowiest winters in recorded history, said Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips.

The storm dropped a foot of snow in Arkansas, created tornadoes in Florida, and heavy rains in the southeastern parts of the United States before beginning its expected day-and-a-half tear through Eastern Canada.

"It’s a huge event, we can’t diminish the point or can’t emphasize enough that it’s a mammoth storm," Mr. Phillips said.

"The other thing that’s quite impressive is it’s a 36-hour event, and this is not a typical kind of a weather event in Canada which typically can last 10 to 12 hours."

March is known to come in like a lion, and Ms. Alsen said it’s because a lot of cold Arctic air is running headlong into warm moist air from the southern United States, creating perfect storm conditions.

And winter-weary Canadians are not out of the woods yet. Ms. Alsen said there will likely be more snow later this month and into April.

Ms. Alsen added that with the heavy snow, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources is growing increasingly concerned about the possibility of flooding.

If temperatures were to rise quickly, Ms. Alsen said the runoff from melting snow could push rivers and streams to dangerously high levels.

On the warm side of the storm, parts of Nova Scotia could see 70 millimetres of rainfall. That has emergency measures officials monitoring some areas like Truro and Oxford for possible flooding, but admit it’s unlikely.

On Saturday, blowing snow blinded drivers and made roads treacherous across much of southern Quebec.

Provincial police blamed the conditions for a dramatic accident on Saturday afternoon involving as many as 20 vehicles near Lavaltrie, northeast of Montreal.

At least 10 people were injured in the highway smash-up, police spokesman Gregory Gomez said.

It may be difficult to grin and bear it now, but Mr. Phillips said Canadians will be able to think back to these dreary days with stories of how they survived one of the worst winters ever.

"I think what will happen is people will start cheering for their record," Mr. Phillips predicted.

"Because if there’s any comfort in a winter of misery it’s in at least having something to talk about in the warm days, to brag to your grandchildren that, ‘I remember the winter of 2007-2008.’ "

Old Man Winter pumps up the volume

Environment Canada yesterday issued a slew of weather warnings as residents of Ontario, Quebec and some parts of New Brunswick today brace for as much as 40 centimetres of snow. Freezing rain and rain are expected through other areas of the Maritimes.

"It’s wishful thinking to think just because we’ve turned the calendar into a spring month of March it means winter is over. No. Winter takes its sweet time sometimes leaving us, and it’s very reluctant to leave," said David Phillips, senior climatologist at Environment Canada.


Snow from city streets geting final rest between DVP and Bayview Extention at the bank of Don River.Truckloads are arriving none stop 24hr. During one full shift of 12hr aprox. 500 trucks get load off. Each truck bring obout 10 tons. Photo by (Boris SPREMO for The Globe and Mail)

This year, the Western Canada has had to survive through frighteningly frigid temperatures, while there’s been no reprieve from the snow in Eastern Canada.

Toronto largest one-day snowfall this winter was 30 centimetres in early February. With a total of 178 centimetres so far this winter and another pummelling this weekend, it likely won’t take long before the city breaks its snow record of 207 centimetres set in 1938-39. And Montreal, with 317 centimetres so far this winter, is not far from breaking its 1970-71 snow record of 383 centimetres. Yesterday, Toronto’s 200 salters, 300 sidewalk plows, 600 street plows and 1,700 staff were ready for the storm that began yesterday and is expected to grow stronger this afternoon and last into the evening.

"It’s been a very long winter. [City crews] have been basically fighting snow since the first week of December. Suffice it to say they’re looking forward to spring, though it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be showing up any time soon," said Myles Currie, director of transportation services for the city.

In Fredericton, where Environment Canada forecasts freezing rain for today, Nicole Moore, the nurse manager for the emergency department at Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital, said more people have come in with fractured ankles and hips this winter, and she is expecting more today and tomorrow.

"This year, we’ve had more storms and the numbers are a bit more than you normally would see," Ms. Moore said. "I’m kind of hoping that people are getting used to [the weather], and knowing to stay home where they should be, where they’re nice and safe."

Environment Canada forecasts winter’s wrath won’t end with this storm. Cities like Toronto and Ottawa get about 22 per cent of their annual snowfall after the first of March. Similarly, 35 per cent of Calgary’s annual snowfall comes in March, Mr. Phillips said.

What’s worse, the forecast for spring shows colder than normal conditions for most of Canada because of the lingering effects of La Nina, a weather phenomenon that creates lower than normal sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean.

Mr. Phillips is philosophical. "It could have been worse," he said. "It could have been cold and snowy out West, and it could have been cold and snowy in the East. But we have the cold and no snow in the West, and we have mild and lots of snow in the East. It wasn’t the double-whammy for us.

"But there was still a lot of misery to go around," he added, "to make it a very memorable winter and one that I think most Canadians would rather forget."


Videos: ‘Winter from Hell’  (Senior forecaster describes ‘The Winter from Hell’ as the latest system spreads misery across the Maritimes and eastern Canada).

‘I still wonder how he didn’t perish in that water’

Mr. Nattaq had grown up following the nomadic existence of his Inuit ancestors. Even after he had settled in Iqaluit, taken a government job and become deputy mayor, he remained a hunter – one of the most skilled and experienced in the community.

He finished his tea and took out his diary. February 17, 2001, he wrote. Minus 36 degrees and calm.

For almost 20 years, Mr. Nattaq had kept track of the weather and ice conditions in small spiral-bound notebooks. He sensed that winter was changing. The old ways of predicting storms, which he had learned from his elders, were no longer reliable, and the snow was different – it wasn’t good for building igloos until later in the season. More worrisome was the sea ice; it was forming later and breaking up earlier, and seemed thinner, less stable. When he goes out on the land now, Mr. Nattaq stays warm in a wolfskin parka.

He and the other hunters weren’t sure if all this was part of a natural cycle, or if the climate change they had been hearing about was to blame.

But seals, not global warming, were on his mind that frigid February morning almost seven years ago. At 6 a.m., he donned the traditional caribou parka and pants his wife, Annie, had made for him, tucked his eyeglasses in the back pocket and set out.

Four hours later, he was swimming.

CHAPTER ONE: THE NEW WINTER

Winter is softening everywhere in Canada – despite what many people have seen out their windows in recent days. You don’t have to be a climatologist to notice the signs, especially in Southern Ontario, where snowbanks aren’t as big as they once were, and it’s rarely cold enough long enough to bother building a backyard rink.

After two of the warmest winters on record, Canadians have been told to expect a more traditionally frigid three-month blast this year. Environment Canada has predicted that, because of La Nina, a weather phenomenon that moves cooler air and water around the Pacific Ocean, this will be the coldest and snowiest winter in 15 years.

But one harsh year doesn’t change the fact that the Earth is warming. Climatologists say they look at averages and patterns, and when they do, the future doesn’t look so white. The trend, according to the Nobel-Prize-winning United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is toward warmer and wetter winters in Southern Canada. Satellite data show that snow cover in much of the Northern Hemisphere is declining. In a little more than 40 years, the panel predicts, all of Eastern Canada may be too warm for snowmobiling and other activities that require reliable snow.

Here in the Arctic, the story is even more dramatic. Global warming is accelerated, with temperatures rising far faster than almost anywhere else on Earth – and in the process changing the season that has defined the North.

From 1970 to 2000, average temperatures increased 3.5 degrees, versus a global increase of 0.7 degrees, and the rise has been more notable during the winter, says David Barber, director of the Centre for Earth Observation Science at the University of Manitoba.

Since August, he has been making three-week treks to an icebreaker in the Beaufort Sea from which he is studying how the Arctic marine system is responding to climate change. The project is part of International Polar Year, which runs until March, 2009, and will bring more than 50,000 scientists to the polar regions, many to investigate global warming.

Dr. Barber has been studying Arctic ice since 1981 and is astonished by how quickly it now vanishes in the summer. By mid-September of this year, the perennial ice that floats over much of the Arctic Ocean had shrunk to its smallest size since satellite measurements began three decades ago – an area 39 per cent smaller than its annual average from 1979 to 2000.

The ice has melted, he explains, or gone south through the channels between Ellesmere and Baffin islands and Greenland. He estimates that by 2030, give or take 10 years, the Arctic may be ice-free.

When sea ice melts, it exposes darker water that absorbs the solar radiation that snow and ice would normally reflect back into space. This heats the ocean and in turn melts more ice, a loop that helps to explain why temperatures are rising so much more quickly in the North.

It also affects seasonal ice – the ice that forms every year. Sea ice always has fissures, according to Dr. Barber, but now that it appears later, it’s often thinner and less reliable, even in midwinter.

CHAPTER TWO: SIMON’S NIGHTMARE
Mr. Nattaq was about 40 kilometres southeast of Iqaluit – far out on Frobisher Bay – when the well-worn snowmobile track he was following suddenly turned to mush.

His machine broke through the ice and he began to sink, a moment of panic and primal fear he has relived again and again. “That blue water,” he says, through an interpreter, “the feeling of being under that water comes over me.” He struggled to get out, but the rifle slung over his shoulder caught on a ridge of ice and pushed him back into the water. He went under again, but finally got rid of the gun and was able to pull himself to safety.

Gasping for air, he turned around in time to see his qamotik, the traditional Inuit sled he had been towing, slide into the ocean, taking all of his survival gear with it.

It was only 10 in the morning. He wouldn’t be missed for hours and he hadn’t told anyone about his plans. “No one knew which way I had gone.”

His clothes were soaked and starting to freeze, so he took off his parka and began to slap it against the sea ice to get rid of the water. He worked frantically for two hours, also drying his pants and sealskin boots. Then he started to walk.

He didn’t head back to Iqaluit, but went north, toward land and where he knew there was a shed on the tundra. It was closer than town and he was sure he would find some blankets and a stove there. As he walked, he left a trail of ice chunks to guide anyone looking for him.

But he didn’t make it off the ice that night. It grew dark and, when he was too tired to go on, he covered himself with snow for insulation and went to sleep. He was prepared to die. “I felt I had completed my journey through life. If God wanted me to go, I would go.”

He was concerned, though, about his family; especially Annie. He knew how worried she would be. He prayed until he fell asleep and that gave him comfort.

“A warm breeze came over me. I felt as if I were wrapped in a blanket.”

Back in Iqaluit, Annie had expected her husband home around 6 p.m. When there was still no sign of him at 9, she called the municipal search-and-rescue team and was told not to fret – that Simon was an experienced, well-equipped hunter and had probably decided to camp out overnight.

“They thought he was okay,” she explains with the help of interpreter Jeanie Eeseemailee.

A gentle, straightforward person, Mrs. Nattaq can calm a grandchild with a few whispers. But her voice becomes strained when she describes the two terrible days when she didn’t know what had happened to the man she had met almost 40 years earlier.

That was in 1963. She was from Kimmirut, a small community not far from Iqaluit and famous for its extreme tides. He was from Hall Beach, on the Nunavut mainland. They were both in Toronto, having gone south for medical treatment, and found comfort in each other’s company.

A few years after returning north, they married and started a family in Iqaluit, where Mr. Nattaq had found work at a residence for high-school students from remote settlements.

Although they lived in the Eastern Arctic’s biggest community, they relied on what the Inuit call “country food” and Mr. Nattaq kept the family well supplied with caribou, seals, belugas and Arctic char. His wife went hunting with him until the third of their eight children arrived and she prepared skins and sewed clothing the way her elders had taught her. She was glad Simon was wearing his caribou suit and hoped it was keeping him warm.

On Sunday morning, she again called search-and-rescue, still to no avail. They were sure Mr. Nattaq was on his way home, but she was sure he was in trouble. He always came back around the same time, and there had been radio reports of thin ice on the bay.

CHAPTER THREE: SIMON’S SALVATION
By then Mr. Nattaq had started walking again, revived after drinking from a puddle he found beside him when he woke up. It was still daylight when he reached the shack on the tundra. He opened the door, expecting to find blankets and a stove. “But there was nothing.”

Feeling spent, he settled in as best he could for another night at minus 38. Again, praying gave him comfort and made him feel warm. As he slept, the search finally got under way, and the next morning, he heard a plane overhead. They were looking for him, but how could he get their attention? “I had to find a shiny object.”

He ripped a metal shingle off the roof of the shed and used it to reflect light from the sun. The signal worked.

But now that he knew help was on the way, it seemed to take forever. The closest searchers were 24 kilometres away. When they finally arrived, it had been 53 hours since he had gone into the water. “I kept up my strength the whole time, but when I saw them, I collapsed.” By the time Mr. Nattaq arrived at the hospital in Iqaluit, the glasses in his back pocket were covered in a layer of ice five centimetres thick and his feet and legs were severely frostbitten. But as Mrs. Nattaq rushed to his side, someone grabbed her arm and told her that, if it hadn’t been for the caribou-skin clothing, her husband wouldn’t have made it.

“I still wonder how he didn’t perish in that water,” she says.

CHAPTER FOUR: ALIEN INVASION
In the 1970s, climate models predicted that global warming would affect the Arctic earlier and more dramatically than other parts of the planet.

Climate change was a hotly contested theory back then, but over the years, many scientists have become convinced that the heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere at an unprecedented rate really are warming the Earth. Last month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its fourth report, and declared that the evidence is “unequivocal” and, unless something is done, there will be a rise in sea levels, more fierce storms, more floods and droughts.

IPCC scientists say that, by 2050, winter in Southern Canada will be rainy, more like an extended November. The Arctic will still get snow, but it may be falling on trees instead of tundra, and invasive species may squeeze out many native plants and animals that, from bacteria to polar bears, have adapted to the cold.

The people also have adapted to the cold, says Inuit activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier, and are now paying a heavy price. They rely on ice and snow for food and travel – imagine having your highways and grocery stores turn into a puddle.

She says the Inuit are uniquely positioned to sound the alarm on global warming because they are living through the kind of dramatic changes that scientists say could affect every country in the world.

She believes that they can make a case for taking action on global warming that can’t be ignored.

CHAPTER FIVE: SIMON TODAY
Simon Nattaq still can shoot a caribou from his snowmobile, but he can no longer load it on his qamotik. By the time he was rescued, his feet and lower legs were so badly frostbitten that he had to stay in hospital in Iqaluit until April. Then he was flown south to Ottawa, where doctors finally decided they had to amputate.

Now 62, he has learned to walk in snow on his prosthetic legs, but he can’t kneel, so when he goes hunting, he takes along a folding chair. “I have to quarter the caribou before I bring them home.”

And yet with his broad shoulders and proud carriage, he remains an imposing figure. His can look and sound stern, but enjoys a good laugh, whether pretending to mistake rooftop Christmas reindeer for caribou or claiming that he is really David Suzuki. (There is a resemblance.)

It is cozy in the kitchen of the home he and his wife share with two grown sons: The Queen smiles benignly on the wall, Annie is at the stove frying bannock as two visiting grandchildren curl up on the couch watching television.

But as her husband tells the story of how he almost died, and shivers in the process, a distant look comes over his face and Annie seems so stricken at times that Jeanie, the interpreter, reaches over to comfort her.

Almost seven years after his ordeal, Mr. Nattaq’s memories – preparing to die as he lay in the dark on the ice, hearing a search plane pass him by – remain so vivid that “sometimes I shed tears,” he says.

How did he survive? He believes it was a miracle and credits the power of prayer and hope – and his wife. “Annie’s craftsmanship must be recognized.”

He doesn’t mention his enormous physical and mental strength, but is hard to imagine many men making it through such an ordeal, or taking their first steps just one month after having their lower legs amputated. “I’m not the type of person who sits around. Everyone was amazed at how fast I recovered.”

To get around, he uses walking sticks with nail-like tips – one if he’s in town, two out on the land. He walks stiffly, but confidently. He doesn’t like to complain but, like many amputees, he still experiences “phantom pain” in his missing feet and shins.

At first, his wife didn’t want him to hunt again and refused to make more traditional clothes. Then she relented and sewed a wolf parka with polar bear pants. But he wears them only on land. He has tried to hunt seals again but, every time he steps on the ice, “I get overwhelmed by fear.”

His freezer contains what is left of the caribou he killed in October and Mrs. Nattaq nibbles on a frozen piece of its stomach lining as she digs for whale blubber and seal fat under the frozen pizzas. But her husband says he’s not the hunter he once was. “Before the accident, my family had the best choice of country food. I could go further to get the best caribou. I can’t go as far now.”

He is certainly more cautious and recently cancelled an outing for more caribou because his snowmobile was acting up. When he does go, he always carries his cellphone. (Most hunters now travel with cellphones or satellite phones, which work, he says, even 40 kilometres out on the ice.) He also takes a small red light to flash, should he need to attract the attention of a rescue team.

He also wishes he could afford to keep a dog team, which can sniff out thin ice and guide a sled around it. Dogs also put a hunter in closer contact with the ice. Snowmobiles travel so fast that they can go from safety to danger within seconds. He keeps busy. Although he had to stop working at the school after the accident, he is still on city council – a paying position – and attends the Anglican church. He also belongs to a community group formed to pass on traditional Inuit skills and knowledge. He teaches how to build an igloo or how to make qamotiks.

He doesn’t talk much about his accident, especially to outsiders, but hopes it can inspire people. “As we go through life, we go through many hardships. Never give up.”

As for global warming, he believes that the Inuit will adapt and stay in their ancestral lands, come what may. He is more worried about the animals – the polar bears, caribou and seals, which he says are already showing signs of stress.

People need to understand the problem is real, he says. “I feel that everybody in the world should work together on global warming.

“If we work together, we can find a better way to do things.”

Anne McIlroy is The Globe and Mail’s science reporter and Fred Lum is a staff photographer.

Norval Morrisseau, 76


Norval Morrisseau, Thunderbird Shaman Teaching People, acrylic on canvas, 69 x 104 inches, signed, 1990. (KINSMAN ROBINSON GALLERIES)

Such descriptions, of course, ignore the likes of Tom Thomson, Emily Carr and the Group of Seven and place Mr. Morrisseau in a league with the most innovative artist of the 20th century. The hyperbole is forgivable. They are part of the legend – the story of a true primitive who emerged from the Northern Ontario wilderness to awe the sophisticates in the major art centres of the world. Indeed, Mr. Morrisseau remains the only native artist ever to have had a solo exhibition (for three months, starting in February, 2006) in the 127-year history of the National Gallery of Canada.

Art dealer Jack Pollock, one of the many who claimed to have discovered Mr. Morrisseau, was also part of the legend but had a better grasp on his contribution. “He invented a visual vocabulary that never existed before him,” Mr. Pollock said before his death in 1992. “He gave the demi-gods of his people an image.”

Mr. Morrisseau could properly lay claim to being the creator and spiritual leader of the Woodland Indian art movement, not only in Canada but in the northeast United States. He developed his style independent of the influence of any other artist and was the first to depict Ojibwa legends and history for the non-native world.

He broke the taboos of his people by revealing sacred stories, but believed it was his mission to put his heritage before the modern world so it could be kept alive. He was “a living bridge to the past,” said Donald Robinson of Toronto’s Kinsman Robinson Galleries, his major dealer for more than 15 years.

Three generations of native artists have followed in his footsteps, producing variations of the Morrisseau style using heavy black outlines to enclose colourful, flat shapes. Many of these artists have become wealthy in the process but such success was denied Mr. Morrisseau, who never quite escaped the poverty into which he was born.

“To this day, I don’t know how we made a living,” he wrote in an article published in The Globe and Mail in 1979. “You see, that sense of real necessity is not a thing that most people in white society know anything about.” He was raised by his grandfather who was “the most influential person in the whole of my life and also a good provider. We always had moose meat in the house. Also oranges, but no bananas.”

Born near Thunder Bay to a family living on the Ojibwa Sand Point Reserve on Lake Nipigon, he was baptized Jean-Baptiste Norman Henry Morrisseau. The oldest of five sons, he went to school for six years, but only finished Grade 2. “You see, the first year you get there, they put you in kindergarten,” he once wrote. “The next year you come back and they put you in kindergarten again. Next thing you know, you are in Grade 1. Then, the following year, you start Grade 1 all over again. Maybe you stay in Grade 1 three or four years.”

He was brought up by both his maternal grandparents. His grandfather was a shaman who schooled him in the traditional ways of his culture while his grandmother, a Catholic, made it her business that he was familiar with Christian beliefs. By all accounts, it was the conflict between the two cultures that influenced his outlook and what would later become his art.

Over the years, legends have developed around Mr. Morrisseau. According to one story, he became perilously ill at 19. A visit to the doctor did nothing and a medicine woman was summoned. A renaming ceremony was performed (Anishnaabe tradition holds that a giving powerful name to someone near death can rally strength and save a life). He was renamed Copper Thunderbird, and recovered. Later, he would use it to sign his paintings.

Somewhere along the way, he developed a fondness for alcohol. When Mr. Pollock first met him in the summer of 1962, he was drunk. The artist demanded that Mr. Pollock look at his work. Mr. Pollock was impressed and was interested in mounting an exhibit, but Mr. Morrisseau wanted to sell his works on the spot for $5 each. Mr. Pollock talked him out of it and a subsequent showing at the Pollock Gallery sold out within 24 hours, netting the artist $3,000. Time magazine declared that “few exhibits in Canadian history have touched off a greater immediate stir than Morrisseau’s” and predicted that he would launch “a vogue as chic as that of the Cape Dorset Eskimo’s prints.”

He continued to live in the area north of Lake Superior and apparently squandered much of his money. In 1978 – a year in which he was appointed to the Order of Canada – when someone jokingly suggested that he throw a garden party, just like the Queen, he bought an antique silver tea service and a set of Royal Crown Derby china to entertain 21 of his friends, colleagues and admirers in his chair-filled wilderness garden. Each was given a rare American buffalo nickel as a gift and a Morrisseau original drawing.

Over the years, he remained a master of the primitive school of art. In 1981, Globe and Mail art critic John Bentley Mays described Mr. Morrisseau’s as wholly appropriate to the context of his background. “His styles, situations and subjects are exactly what we would expect in the work of a self-taught artist who has lived most of his life in northern Ontario. There is little attention to figurative modelling in these pictures, no delving into the problems of perspective or pictorial depth. Using his small repertoire of techniques, he presents stylized versions of what he knows: the bears, loons, fish and turtles that live in the forests and ponds, and the people in the town around him.

“But these are not ordinary forests, ponds and people. Morrisseau’s art transports us into a shadowy archetypal realm where ordinary things are wonderful. In his visionary lakes swim mighty fish, armed with bolts of spiritual lightening. A bear spirit — a dragon-like chimera spangled with bright eyes and brilliant colours — suddenly stands in your path.”

For all his success, Mr. Morrisseau allowed his career and his life to descend relentlessly. In 1987, he was discovered wandering the downtown streets of Vancouver, sleeping in alleys and selling his sketches for the price of a bottle of booze. “To get drunk in Vancouver is the most beautiful thing there is,” he was quoted as saying.

Years later, after he had dried out, Mr. Morrisseau told The Globe that his drinking binges in part reflected his resentment over “never getting my fair share.” Still, he said he enjoyed life on the Vancouver streets: “I met a lot of nice people. I might even do it again – without the booze – so I can remember them all clearly.”

Around that time, he met Gabor Vadas, a young man with problems, and the two formed a bond. Mr. Morrisseau believed that Mr. Vadas was his son and the younger man presents himself as such. However, the relationship was never ratified “through the legal courts,” according to Mr. Vadas’s wife, Michele, “but certainly as far as from a traditional native and spiritual point of view [Mr. Vadas was his son] because they take their adoptions very seriously … They never lost faith in each other and have always been very loyal to each other.”

In 1989, Mr. Morrisseau was the only Canadian painter invited to exhibit at the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris during the bicentennial of the French Revolution. After seeing the works of Van Gogh and Picasso, he decided they were “all greys” and returned home to paint “some real colour.”

He first exhibited with the Kinsman Robinson Galleries the following year. Wearing a new silk suit, he arrived for the opening in a white limousine. The exhibition sold out.

At 65, Mr. Morrisseau developed Parkinson’s disease but continued to paint. “My hands don’t shake when I hold a brush,” he told Chris Dafoe of The Globe in 1999.

He had a healthy respect for his own talent. Dr. Henry Weinstein, a doctor in Northern Ontario’s Red Lake district who in the 1950s was among the first to recognize Mr. Morrisseau as a true original, was a friend of Pablo Picasso and once gave a Morrisseau drawing to the Spanish master. On the back, Mr. Morrisseau had written, “From one great artist to another.” Picasso, after looking at the drawing is said to have remarked: “Well, you never know, do you?” – meaning that great art surfaces in unlikely places.

The comparison of the two artists was not entirely inappropriate. Mr. Morrisseau, like Picasso, could draw spontaneously, never lifting his pencil from the paper until the image was complete. “Very few artists in the world have this ability,” Dr. Weinstein said.

Mr. Morrisseau’s early work was created on birch bark or animal hides. Mr. Robinson said he at first punched holes in the bark or hide but was later given paints by Dr. Weinstein.

Mr. Morrisseau believed he was a “born painter” and said that when he started to paint, the images “just come.” He created his designs to beautify the world with colour. “The world needs it,” he said. Colour was a key resource in Mr. Morrisseau’s repertory of symbols. He used connecting lines to depict interdependence. “These paintings only remind you that you’re an Indian,” the artist said. “Inside somewhere, we’re all Indians. So now when I befriend you, I’m trying to get the best Indian, bring out the Indianness in you to make you think everything is scared.”

Less inviolate were his family relationships. Mr. Morrisseau has six (some say seven) adult children from his marriage in 1957 to Harriet Kakegamic, and has claimed at times to have fathered as many as 14 sons and daughters. Over the years, this has resulted in conflict with some of the children. Three months ago, for instance, one of Mr. Morrisseau’s sons, Christian, also an artist, announced the creation of the Morrisseau Family Foundation to, in part, “ensure my family’s heritage and the integrity of my father’s legacy.” A month after this, Mr. Morrisseau issued through Mr. Vadas a press release declaring that he had “not been consulted or in any way involved” with the Morrisseau Family Foundation, “nor do I support it in any way.”

Mr. Morrisseau was a prolific artist before illness slackened his output – it’s been estimated he produced more than 10,000 works in his lifetime. Aided by Mr. Vadas, he battled in recent years against what they alleged were a spate of fakes.

In the meantime, Mr. Vadas and his wife cared for Mr. Morrisseau after the onset of Parkinson’s and Mr. Morrisseau doted like a grandfather on their two children, Kyle and Robin. Earlier in this decade, he spent some time in an extended care facility on Vancouver Island, but for most of this year, he lived with the Vadas family in their house in Nanaimo, B.C.

All things considered, Mr. Morrisseau was proud of his place in Canadian art history. “I may not have a Ferrari, but I’m the first Indian to break into the Canadian art scene and I have forever enriched the Canadian way of life,” he said. “I want to make paintings full of colour, laughter, compassion and love … If I can do that, I can paint for 100 years.”

He spent much of his last years in a wheelchair, deprived of intelligible speech. He suffered at least two strokes.

In October, Mr. Morrisseau travelled to Northern Ontario to receive an honorary degree from the University of Sudbury, and had planned to go to New York to attend the opening of his one-man show at New York’s George Gustav Heye Center, which is part of the National Museum of the American Indian. Instead, he became ill in Toronto and was admitted to hospital.

NORVAL MORRISSEAU

Norval Morrisseau was born Norman Henry Morrisseau at Beardmore, Ont., on March 13, 1931. He died yesterday in Toronto General Hospital of complications from Parkinson’s disease. He is survived by numerous children.

The public may visit Mr. Morrisseau’s open casket Thursday and Friday this week from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. each day at Jerrett Funeral Homes, 1141 St. Clair Ave. W., Toronto. It is anticipated that he will be buried near Beardmore, Ont., or Thunder Bay.

This obituary was prepared by Donn Downey (who died in April, 2001), with files from James Adams.

Former Toronto cop guilty of murder

Richard Charles Wills, 50, displayed no emotion as he stood in the prisoners box, neatly dressed, to hear the verdict.

Relatives and friends of his former mistress, Linda Mariani, were elated at the oucome. But Mr Wills’s teenage daughter Jessica collapsed in hysterics outside the courtroom.

"It is a verdict that is amply supported by the evidence," said Ontario Superior Court Judge Michelle Fuerst.

Mr. Wills, 50, was accused of murdering his long-time mistress Linda Mariani, 40, in February 2002, by bludgeoning her with his son’s aluminum Louisville Slugger baseball bat and then strangling her with a red skipping rope that was wrapped three time around her neck.

The 25-year veteran of the Toronto Police Force then stuffed her body, the bat and the skipping rope into a 60 gallon bin, which he sealed tightly and walled up in the basement of his Richmond Hill home.

He testified at his trial that she had died accidentally in a fall from the stair steps, and that he had only hidden the body because he feared that her family would bury her body in the family and plot and not at his Wasaga Beach cottage lot, where the two planned to be buried together under a secret lovers’ pact.

The prosecution argued that he killed Ms. Mariani after she refused to leave her husband, who had been a partner with Mr. Wills in a power skating business.

Her body was discovered four months after her death when Mr. Wills directed York Region Police, who at his insistence had searched the house the day after she died, to the plastic garbage bin and its gruesome contents.

The Crown’s pathologist, Dr. David Chiasson, a veteran of about 3,000 autopsies, testified that Ms. Mariani was possibly alive when she was entombed in the can and he body was so badly decomposed that it was impossible to determine a definitive cause of death.

However, his examination of the rotting remains located two eight-centimetre fractures on the back of her skull, found the skipping rope around her neck, and suggested that the act of shoving her headfirst into the bin may have caused “positional asphyxia.”

One of the most compelling pieces of evidence introduced at the trial was the testimony that Shirley Rochemont, his stepmother, who died of cancer two year ago, gave at his preliminary hearing a year before she died.

In her testimony, which was read into the record, she said that, the day before Mr. Wills turned himself into the police, he told her that he was responsible for his lover’s disappearance.

“Basically I asked him if he had done it, and he sort of nodded yes,” Ms. Rochemont told the court.

With reports from James Rusk and Erika Beauchesne


The remarkable trial of Richard Wills

The accused challenged the justice system with threats to prosecutors, verbal abuse of court officials, meandering monologues and behaviour so bizarre that he was exiled to the ‘rubber room’ for three months. Richard Wills admitted to stuffing the body of his lover in a trash bin, but swore he didn’t kill her The judges responded by taking every step to ensure a fair trial. In doing so, they tolerated extremes of behaviour and assented to orders that led to defence lawyers being paid at least $800,000 of public money to defend him. It was, in a strange way, a triumph of the system

From Wednesday’s Globe and Mail

To borrow from Al Jolson in the original version of The Jazz Singer, the first feature-length movie made with snatches of audible dialogue, "Wait a minute, wait a minute – you ain’t heard nothin’ yet, folks."

Rick Wills is that punishingly loquacious fellow with the coffin-shaped head who last month spent 11-plus days in the witness stand, theoretically testifying in his own defence.

He blithely admitted to one grotesque offence – dumping his lover’s body face-first into a garbage bin and then hiding it in his basement for months – and stands charged with another that is among the most serious on the books, first-degree murder.

Because of who Mr. Wills is – a 50-year-old former Toronto Police officer with an ex-cop’s bag of tricks and so pure a narcissist he might just as well have walked out of the psychiatric Bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision, Page 717 – his trial was as compelling and alarming as watching a train hurtle off the tracks.

But the jurors who yesterday retired to consider their verdict, like those who compulsively followed the case in the press, don’t know the half of it.

Over the life of Regina v Wills – the case has dragged on over five years and eight months – the Canadian justice system was uniquely tested and came perilously close to defeat.

Thanks to Mr. Wills, its most dearly held tenet, a fair trial, often seemed utterly unattainable. Its sense of decorum was daily assaulted by him. Its rules and endearing courtesies he ignored or mocked. Its every participant, from judge to court security officer to lawyer, was personally taunted, subjected to streams of vile profanity and demeaned by Mr. Wills.

And because of the collective terror that if he were unrepresented by counsel – or as he put it once, letting the firm of "Wills, Wills and Wills" do the lawyering – the case would stall forever, he was able to hire and fire a parade of lawyers with impunity.

The costs to the public purse were staggering.

The Globe and Mail made a request for the total legal tab under Freedom of Information legislation weeks ago, and yesterday Globe lawyer Carlos Martins appeared in court, after the jurors retired, to argue that taxpayers have a right to know what they paid for Mr. Wills’ defence.

According to figures released in court yesterday, the Ontario public paid $804,310.92 for defence lawyers up to June 14, 2007, when the trial began.

It is fair to conclude that the final bill will be well over $1-million.

NO ONE SPARED

Mr. Wills is pleading not guilty in the Feb. 15, 2002 death of Lavinia (Linda) Mariani, a 40-year-old bookkeeper and a married mother of one whose long affair with Mr. Wills bewildered then troubled her friends.

He claims she died in a tragic accident at his Hart Street home in Richmond Hill, Ont., falling backwards from the first or second stair of the staircase in the foyer and fatally cracking her skull on the tiled floor. Prosecutors say Mr. Wills is a control freak who, losing his power over Mrs. Mariani, hit her in the head with a bat and tried to strangle her before tossing her body into the bin, where it decomposed so badly her remains had to be poured onto the autopsy table.

Several judges suspected that Mr. Wills was engaging in a deliberate strategy of trying to knock the trial off the rails, and there were times when he came close, many more when his toxic filibustering corroded the administration of justice.

The most wrenching of these moments occurred earlier this month, when Mrs. Mariani’s ill father, Nino Valeri, abruptly stood up in the courtroom and yelled, in front of the jurors and with the trial just weeks away from concluding, to Ontario Superior Court Judge Michelle Fuerst: "I would like to say something – that bastard killed my daughter, not yours!"

As his wife Anna and Dianne Blair, an official with the Victim/Witness office, struggled to usher him out of the room, Mr. Valeri continued, "You don’t even have children, you cannot understand!"

It was his second such outburst, the first having occurred during Mr. Wills’ preliminary hearing, aborted after eight excruciating months because Mr. Wills, then representing himself and so wild-haired he bore a striking resemblance to Charles Manson, was still delaying when the Ontario Attorney-General finally preferred an indictment, committing him to trial.

Reluctantly, Judge Fuerst cited Mr. Valeri with contempt of court and ruled he could not return to the courtroom.

She later told the jurors to "completely disregard" his remarks.

It was bitter irony that the victim’s 73-year-old father, just out of hospital, should have been called on the carpet for an isolated episode while Mr. Wills had carried on for nearly six years a campaign of outrageous abuse.

No one was spared his bile, no one safe from the bellicose garrulousness beneath which simmers the possibility of physical violence.

He managed to learn something private about most of the players and would casually disclose it, such as the day he offered condolences to Judge Fuerst on her father’s recent death: Such knowledge to Mr. Wills means power.

His most overt threats were cop-savvy: When he threatened to punch out prosecutors Harold Dale and Jeff Pearson, for instance, it was always with the codicil that he would have done it "in my younger days".

He regularly insulted even a succession of his own lawyers, for instance describing his fifth, Munyonzwe Hamalengwa, a black man born in Zambia, as "a pompous nigger, an uppity fall-down nigger" – though never within Mr. Hamalengwa’s earshot. As with many of his worst verbal attacks, this happened when Mr. Wills was barred from the courtroom proper because of his conduct, and was monitoring the proceedings from an adjacent room.

Six times on one day alone, using the notorious C word that is one of his favorite epithets for women, Mr. Wills referred to Judge Fuerst as "You fucking —-" or "a biased —-" and "you stunned —-."

He baldly told another judge, Ontario Superior Court Justice Bryan Shaughnessy, that "maybe you should pull up your socks", and labelled a third, Justice Joseph Kenkel of the Ontario Court of Justice, "asinine".

He impugned the integrity of countless witnesses, frequently accusing without a shred of proof the police and prosecutors of destroying or planting evidence.

Half a dozen times, he urinated in the brand-new police car that carried him to court every day from the jail in Lindsay, Ont.

On another unforgettable day, May 30 last year, with the case in the midst of pre-trial motions, Mr. Wills was from the prisoner’s box repeatedly complaining about the state of his clothes, yelling that he smelled like "a pile of shit."

It appears he was displeased with the lack of response he got, because in short order, he either actually defecated or plucked out excrement from his underwear.

"Court’s indulgence," Mr. Hamalengwa said.

He conferred briefly with Mr. Wills, then said, "I am told that Mr. Wills has excrement on his hands."

Judge Fuerst, by then inured to Mr. Wills’ creative theatrics, didn’t miss a beat, mildly asking the court clerk to hand over some Kleenex and hand sanitizer.

THE RUBBER ROOM

Mr. Wills’ behaviour has been so spectacularly outlandish that twice Judge Fuerst ordered him removed from the courtroom, once for almost three months when he was held in an room next door, colloquially referred to as the "rubber room", that was purpose-built for him and equipped with audio-visual equipment so he could listen to and watch the proceedings, and talk to his lawyer.

The rubber room was just part of the elaborate security system Judge Fuerst had installed early last summer, sparked, she said in a ruling, by the fact that transcripts don’t convey Mr. Wills’ dismissive "body language and vocal tone".

Neither do they capture the occasions where Mr. Wills laid down in the prisoner’s dock, loudly farted or burped, laughed during testimony, shrieked "Liar!" or feigned illness, even unconsciousness once such that he was rushed to hospital by ambulance only to be pronounced fit as a fiddle.

Other elements of the security system include a video camera directed at Mr. Wills in the courtroom, and the videotaping of his every movement to and from it, with one security officer leading him, a second operating the camera.

These were merely the lowlights of the freak show the case became.

For all that transcripts fall short of capturing Mr. Wills in full flower, they are nonetheless riddled with references to his various belches, tsk-tsking, grunting and more ordinary histrionics.

His relentless talking alone – once started on one of his battering-ram monologues, Mr. Wills would not be deterred – was wearing.

Yet despite this incessant pattern of thumbing his nose both at judiciary and justice system, despite dozens of explicit warnings, neither Judge Fuerst nor any other involved in the case ever cited Mr. Wills for contempt.

Most gratingly, perhaps, was the fact that while Mr. Valeri had to pay for a lawyer to represent him on the contempt charge, Mr. Wills, by his own admission once a wealthy man, has been greedily sucking away at the public teat since 2003.

OPENING THE PUBLIC PURSE

Arrested on June 7, 2002 after he turned himself in to York Regional Police and directed them to Mrs. Mariani’s body in his basement, Mr. Wills first hired Tim Danson, famous for representing the families of Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French, and gave him $30,000 of his own money as a retainer.

He fired Mr. Danson in November that year, and hired Todd White of Ed Greenspan’s office on a $50,000 retainer, $10,000 of which was returned unspent when he fired Mr. White in September of 2003.

It isn’t disputed that Mr. Wills spent $70,000 from his own pocket, a significant sum.

But he also had embarked upon what one judge later found was "a deliberate course of action" to divest himself of his considerable assets.

Over a few months beginning shortly after Mrs. Mariani’s death, Mr. Wills transferred ownership of five houses he owned, a half-interest in a family cottage, his vehicles, a private RSP and a police pension worth $1,900 a month, all but the cottage to his estranged wife Joanne Wills and their three teenage children – assets deemed worth at least $500,000.

Thus, when he first applied in the fall of 2003 to Legal Aid Ontario and officials went to put a lien on one of the houses as security, they found Mr. Wills no longer owned it, and the application wasn’t processed.

Then he made a second application, and was granted a certificate on the condition he pay $500 a month to a total of $50,000 – then the estimated legal costs.

Mr. Wills flatly refused to sign it.

With the preliminary hearing looming, and Mr. Wills persistently complaining he had no lawyer, Judge Kenkel appointed Howard Borenstein, a respected veteran counsel, as amicus curiae, Latin for "friend of the court".

It was during Mr. Borenstein’s time on the case that yet another lawyer, Dirk Derstine, applied to Ontario Superior Court Judge Alan Bryant for what’s called a Rowbotham order, which requires a provincial attorney-general to foot the bill, typically at Legal Aid rates that in Ontario now are a maximum $96 an hour for the most senior lawyer.

But on March 11 of 2004, with the preliminary hearing slated to begin, Judge Bryant dismissed Mr. Wills’ application – finding "he set upon a course of conduct which rendered him impecunious."

By the time the matter made its way to Judge Shaughnessy almost a year later, the preliminary hearing had gone on for eight months and been halted, mainly because Mr. Wills kept the pace achingly slow.

Mr. Borenstein said that approving a Rowbotham order would set "a dangerous precedent" because of the message "that those who are charged with serious offences can divest themselves of their assets and come before a court and say … ‘pay for it’."

But he also told Judge Shaughnessy that "the primary concern of the court ought to be to ensure that a fair trial, especially for somebody charged with first-degree murder, proceeds."

In the end, the judge agreed with Mr. Borenstein that Mr. Wills’ ability to offend everyone with earshot "may extend to a jury."

Judge Shaughnessy granted the order at Legal Aid rates and called a temporary stay until Mr. Wills could arrange state-funded counsel.

The judge also asked Legal Aid, whose counsel Lee David was present and agreed, to oversee the bills, since the Attorney-General, while paying the tab, can’t be privy to the confidential accounts of a defence lawyer.

The reasons are valid and even noble. Detailed accounts could betray to one arm of the Crown the tactics a lawyer intends to use at trial against another arm of the Crown.

But this hands-off approach, coupled with what turned out to be Legal Aid’s failure, saw the costs of Mr. Wills’ defence appear to start spiralling out of all control.

THE COSTS MOUNT

By January of 2005, with pre-trial motions starting before Judge Fuerst, Mr. Wills still didn’t have a lawyer and claimed he couldn’t find one who would work at Legal Aid rates.

Then, on April 5, the highly respected Cindy Wasser attended court to advise that she would represent Mr. Wills, but that she was going to pursue better funding with the attorney-general.

Accordingly, Judge Shaughnessy heard what is called a Fisher application, named after Larry Fisher, the Saskatchewan man convicted 30 years after the fact in the murder of Gail Miller, in whose slaying David Milgaard was wrongfully convicted (and later acquitted).

Fisher orders typically consist of two controversial elements – they specify the appointment of a particular lawyer usually chosen by the accused and they see the courts establish fees for the lawyer.

Judge Shaughnessy granted one on April 2, 2005 – ordering the attorney-general to pay Ms. Wasser $200 an hour, or more than twice the going Legal Aid rate; junior counsel $140 an hour and a student $50 an hour for research and interviews.

The lawyers also received $40 an hour in travel time and 40 cents a kilometer for gas.

In the event of disputes, they were to return to Judge Shaughnessy, and once Ms. Wasser had reviewed Crown disclosure, which was estimated to take about 200 hours, she was to submit her accounts to Legal Aid.

Judge Shaughnessy concluded the case was "untriable" unless Mr. Wills "is represented by experienced and skilled counsel."

Ms. Wasser, alas, did not last long; Mr. Wills fired her a few months later in the fall.

As 2006 approached, Mr. Borenstein was briefly back on as amicus until Mr. Hamalengwa showed up in early January.

According transcripts of a hearing over the summer, Judge Shaughnessy ordered Legal Aid in 2006 to vet Mr. Hamalengwa’s accounts in a manner consistent with the agency’s own "big case management program" – its scheme for examining the books on the bigger cases it finances.

Despite written confirmation later from Legal Aid that its role "will be to manage the budgetary process", what its officials did instead was simply check Mr. Hamalengwa’s arithmetic.

‘NO BUDGET’

This bombshell emerged only this summer when the AG was copied on a letter from Legal Aid to Mr. Wills’ new lawyer, Raj Napal, informing him the agency was not "case managing" the bills, merely "reviewing the math."

This past June 14, Ms. Fairburn was again back before Judge Shaughnessy to tell him his order from the previous June hadn’t been followed.

There was, she said, "no meaningful budget, indeed no budget in place in this case. … It is in desperate need of some kind of financial management. … Otherwise, the public will continue to pay and pay and pay and pay for this case."

She brought with her that day an affidavit containing "the total amount of monies paid out to date" and pointed the shaken judge to the "breathtaking" numbers.

Judge Shaughnessy described Legal Aid’s failure as "injurious to the public purse and public confidence in relation to the administration of justice…

"What has happened in this case is…shocking…and I am actually disheartened that there could be an abandonment of such an important function."

Indeed, just a week earlier, shortly after Mr. Napal officially took over from Mr. Hamalengwa, Judge Fuerst had expressed her suspicion the funding order was "being abused."

Though as the trial judge she deliberately was kept in the dark about the funding arrangements, Judge Fuerst had excellent reason to be wary.

She had just learned that Mr. Napal was considering calling as many as 18 expert witnesses, and that Mr. Napal’s law student, Phil Viater, who was first brought on by Mr. Hamalengwa, had hired one of his former high school chums, a 24-year-old photographer named Coby Sirkovich, to crop autopsy pictures of Mrs. Mariani’s terribly decomposed body.

Alarmingly, Mr. Viater and Mr. Sirkovich had had the pictures copied at a Japan Camera outlet in a mall, a grievous breach of the rules of evidence-handling and a further assault upon Mrs. Mariani’s already battered dignity.

And, Judge Fuerst discovered in a subsequent inquiry, Mr. Sirkovich was intending to bill the defence $13,000 for his work, Japan Camera had already been paid a further $2,400, and Mr. Viater wasn’t even an articling student yet but rather a third-year student.

Judge Fuerst was concerned enough to have a transcript of those proceedings, and her own remarks, brought to Judge Shaughnessy’s attention.

"It is my opinion," she said, "that the time has come for the attorney-general to look very carefully at the expenditure of public funds in this case…"

At the hearing this past June 14, Ms. Fairburn read aloud what Judge Fuerst said, and expressed her own doubts that it was possible for a student to do $40,000 worth of interviews and research.

At Ms. Fairburn’s suggestion, Judge Shaughnessy imposed a new order telling Legal Aid to meet with Mr. Napal and set a budget, with a proper approvals process, and appointed a three-man panel of senior lawyers to resolve any disputes.

Legal Aid, through its spokesman Kristian Justesen, refused to comment, citing privacy regulations that prohibit discussion of a specific case, though in fact the Wills’ matter wasn’t its case.

AMPLE COMPENSATION

By the time Mr. Wills fired him in May this year on the very eve of trial, Mr. Hamalengwa had been on the case for a total of 109 court days over almost 17 months.

Mr. Wills cheerfully blurted out Mr. Hamalengwa’s alleged total billings before Judge Shaughnessy – a total, Mr. Wills claimed, of $862,857, a figure which may or may not have included Mr. Hamalengwa’s final account for $92,038.65 submitted, Ms. Fairburn said, just that week.

"I cannot discuss the actual amount I received because even I do not know," Mr. Hamalengwa told The Globe and Mail in a recent email interview.

But he said the bill includes "thousands of dollars in disbursements", "several thousand dollars" in transcripts alone and additional copying costs for Mr. Wills, who of course demanded copies of transcripts and case law, weeks spent in preparation, as well as visiting Mr. Wills in jail, taking his frequent phone calls and being available to him 24-7.

And most of the time he worked alone, Mr. Hamalengwa said, "because Mr. Wills essentially disapproved of every counsel I mentioned…on reflection, I think (he) wanted just one lawyer to deal with."

A Bay Street lawyer, Mr. Hamalengwa said, would have earned "slightly over $2-million. … My account on this case is on the low end of what Bay Street and other lawyers would have billed."

Besides, he said, fairly because Mr. Wills is a demonstrated liar, "The client is the least qualified to comment about the costs of this case. Nor is any person who did not deal with Mr. Wills on a day-to-day basis for one and a half years."

Imagine, he wrote, "spending a Saturday for eight straight hours in a closed room alone with Mr. Wills, not one or two times, but several times!"

However, the cynic would note that Mr. Hamalengwa, like Mr. Wills’ sixth lawyer, Mr. Napal, and even the two amici, Mr. Borenstein and Andras Schreck, who took over when Mr. Borenstein was appointed a judge of the Ontario Court of Justice, were amply compensated for their pain.

Mr. Borenstein was on the case as amicus for more than a year and worked the entire preliminary hearing at a rate of $200 an hour; court transcripts show he had earned $142,000 as of November, 2004.

His successor, Mr. Schreck, was rarely in court because by then Mr. Wills had hired Mr. Hamalengwa, but like Mr. Borenstein, he was paid $200 an hour for every day he spent in court and $200 a day, every day the court was sitting, for remaining on standby lest Mr. Wills fire his lawyer again.

Those are just the known or in Mr. Hamalengwa’s case the alleged, costs.

Back in courtroom 403, Judge Fuerst acted swiftly on the matters within her control.

She sent York Police to the Japan Camera store, prohibited its staff from disclosing any information about the case, barred Mr. Viater from any further access to disclosure materials unless Mr. Napal or Suzie Scott, an experienced lawyer who was only briefly on the case and had the misfortune of stumbling into the Japan Camera near-disaster, were present.

It was Ms. Scott who stood in court that day with the jury absent and faced the judge’s fury, while Mr. Napal sat squirming in his chair.

When he finally got to his feet, it was to disavow knowledge of the Japan Camera arrangements and to blame Mr. Hamalengwa.

After all, Mr. Napal mumbled, "Mr. Hamalengwa was senior counsel" then.

"Just a minute," the judge snapped.

"Mr. Hamalengwa wasn’t senior counsel. You told me, when you came on the case, that you were co-counsel.

"In fact, when either Mr. Dale or Mr. Pearson at one point referred to you as junior counsel, you very quickly corrected him and said that you were co-counsel."

Mr. Napal, who practised in England as a barrister before coming to Canada in 1995, had huffily replied that not only was he co-counsel but also that he had practised there "with the silks", meaning those Queen’s Counsel who wear special silk robes.

This was one of the most curious aspects of the trial, how Mr. Napal maintained a sunny view of his own performance in the face of Judge Fuerst’s withering, if invisible to the jurors, criticism of him.

It was as though Mr. Napal and Mr. Viater were immersed in a folie à trois with Mr. Wills, as if by osmosis they now shared some of his qualities, if not the symptoms of the narcissistic personality disorder with which their client was diagnosed by Dr. Jeff McMaster.

Over the course of the five-month trial, Mr. Napal was so frequently found wanting by the judge that his self-esteem ought to have been in tatters. Yet it never was.

Ditto young Mr. Viater.

Despite his role in the Japan Camera fiasco, Mr. Viater this fall is alleged to have facilitated a phone call from Mr. Wills in his jail cell to Toronto Police Detective Reg Wright just days before the officer was to testify.

According to Det. Wright, Mr. Wills made it clear to him that he wanted him to offer false evidence.

Mr. Dale has said on the record he has asked York Police to investigate that incident.

A JUDGE’S PATIENCE

Judge Fuerst suffered in good-humored silence Mr. Napal’s regular late arrival at court and the occasions when he failed to rise when addressing her or turned his back to her when she was speaking to him.

Always exquisitely polite to him in front of the jurors, she several times – always, of course, in voir dire hearings out of their presence – reamed him out for failing to even attempt to control his client and to meet even the minimal disclosure obligations of defence lawyers, flatly saying he had "again played fast and loose" with the rules.

Her most stinging words came in response to Mr. Napal’s last-minute motion that she recuse herself from trial, which would have meant starting from scratch before another judge, on grounds of bias.

He announced the motion late on Oct. 5, with the jurors already sent home for Thanksgiving and a week off while the lawyers were to hone their closing arguments.

Judge Fuerst had been discussing the schedule for days when Mr. Napal, shuffling to his feet with eyes downcast, first disclosed the motion. As she said in her ruling four days later, "Mr. Napal, who obviously had known for some time that he would be bringing this application, sat silent and made no mention of it. He has offered no explanation for his silence."

His legal factum on the motion was puerile in its language, with headlines that read, "Mr. Wills’ Suit was Vandalized and Justice Fuerst Does Not Care" and "Mr. Wills is Not Getting Enough Sleep and Justice Fuerst Does Not Care". But Mr. Napal insisted in oral submissions that, as Judge Fuerst said in her ruling, "the assertions he makes…are his, not simply those of Mr. Wills."

And those assertions, she said, "are startlingly misleading and disingenuous."

In fact, the judge made extraordinary efforts to accommodate Mr. Wills.

In addition to not citing him for contempt, only because as she said in the ruling it would have served "no purpose other than making these difficult proceedings more so", she made sure he received extra privileges at the Lindsay jail, asking officials to let him keep his lights on later than anyone else, get daily access to the disclosure in the case, extra phone privileges, and a constant supply of paper, pens and markers.

Mr. Wills thanked her by constantly claiming maltreatment, demanding more privileges and once going on a hunger strike.

Judge Fuerst also made critical evidentiary rulings in favour of the defence, deeming inadmissible Mrs. Mariani’s statements to friends that she was afraid of Mr. Wills and wanted to end the affair, Mr. Wills’ confession to a friend that he had "killed Linda" and his offer, made through one of his first lawyers, to plead guilty to manslaughter.

Her unwritten job, as it was also for the various judges who went before her, was to protect Mr. Wills from the potentially ruinous effects of his own personality.

But in the end, Judge Fuerst also had to protect Mr. Wills from the effects of Mr. Napal, who was at his best only vaguely ineffectual and at his worst, as the judge said once, willing "to be controlled" by his client.

Noting that just six years earlier, Mr. Napal had been criticized for making "an entirely unmeritorious allegation" of bias against another judge, she said, "He has chosen to repeat this conduct. I leave it to others to determine whether he has engaged in professional misconduct that is worthy of the attention of the Law Society of Upper Canada."

Mr. Napal has been there before; in July of 2003, he was found guilty of professional misconduct for among other offences failing to pay into his trust accounts a total of almost $20,000 and billing a client for services he never performed.

He was suspended for a month, ordered to produce his books for review and to enroll in the bar admission course on professional responsibility.

Yet when Mr. Napal was recently asked how he felt about Judge Fuerst’s criticism, he was serene. "I had to do what I had to do," he said, using the very words Mr. Wills so often said about putting Mrs. Mariani into the trash bin.

Mr. Napal said he made a decision that since "I didn’t have time to do the preparation" required, he would "rely" on Mr. Wills "more than normally I would.

"I think," he said with a smile, "we’ve done a good job in trying circumstances."

When the jurors retired yesterday, Judge Fuerst, Mr. Dale and Mr. Pearson and the court staff appeared drained. After years of exposure to Mr. Wills, it is probable they were too ground down to recognize there was anything to celebrate.

But they had wrought a miracle.

It was never pretty. People and institutions made mistakes along the way. The costs went over the moon.

But for all the right reasons, against all the odds and at significant personal sacrifice, they collectively got that malevolent, manipulative chatterbox Rick Wills to and through a trial.

In the famous words first uttered by U.S. Congressman William Bissell in 1850, they snatched victory from the jaws of defeat – and from the lantern-chinned Mr. Wills as well.

***

STRAINING THE SYSTEM

Richard Wills turned courtrooms into circus sideshows for more than five years with a string of bizarre and often abusive antics. The justice system was forced to accommodate an accused murderer who seemed determined to turn his trial into a mockery, and possibly a mistrial.

OPENING THE PUBLIC PURSE

In the months before turning himself in to police, Mr. Wills transferred assets including homes and his police pension to his estranged wife.

THE COSTS MOUNT

After hiring and firing two respected lawyers, Mr. Wills refused ordinary Legal Aid. In order to ensure a fair trial the court made a special order allowing him to hire more lawyers at rates far above those paid by Legal Aid — which was ordered to oversee the bills.

‘NO BUDGET’

It emerged during a hearing this summer that Legal Aid was only checking the arithmetic, not managing the billing. A judge described the situation and the costs as "injurious to the public purse and public confidence".

A JUDGE’S PATIENCE

"It is my opinion," the trial judge said a few months ago, "that the time has come for the attorney-general to look very carefully at the expenditure of public funds in this case."

NO ONE WAS SPARED

Mr. Wills’s campaign of abusive behaviour was aimed at everyone. He hurled obscenities at judges, insulted witnesses and police, threatened prosecutors, feigned illness and even soiled himself.

THE RUBBER ROOM

So disruptive was he that Mr. Wills was removed from the courtroom twice, once for almost three months, and held in a separate room with an audio-visual link, which became known as the "rubber room".

BENDING OVER BACKWARD

Despite all this, judges made extraordinary efforts to ensure Mr. Wills received a fair trial. He was never cited for contempt – and received extra privileges in custody

THE WILLS FORM OF LANGUAGE

It is, of course, for his jurors to decide if Rick Wills is guilty of murdering Linda Mariani.

But what is indisputable is that the ex-Toronto Police officer and accused killer has butchered the Queen’s English.

What follows, taken from his 11-plus days in the witness stand at trial and from transcripts of five years’ worth of proceedings, is a glossary of Willsapropisms — examples of his penchant for mangling a common expression.

Judicial privilege: "Judicial plumage"

Separate the wheat from the chaff: "Separate the wheat from the Chief" (unknown whether police chief, Indian chief or a reference to the late John Diefenbaker

Hunky-dory: "Honky-dory" (presumably a term for well-being felt only by white people)

Between a rock and a hard place: "Between a hard rock and a hard place"

Smile like a Cheshire cat: "Smile like the Chesser cat"

Dog and pony show: "Horse and pony show"

Fast times at Ridgemont High" (from the 1982 movie of the same name): "Tough times at Ridgemont High"

Mr. Wills also made up a number of words, some of which follow, with possible meanings:

Trivoulous: referring to a matter trivial in nature

Sematics: similar to semantics

Alamonish: either akin to "admonish" or reference to massacre at the Alamo

Authenticize: confirm authenticity

Vaccicious: a distant cousin of "vexacious"

Fantisickle: like "fantastic", only better


A majority built on faith

Mr. McGuinty becomes only the second Liberal Premier in the province’s history to win back-to-back majorities since 1937 despite a drop-off of about three percentage points in support. That decline was matched by the Progressive Conservatives. The beneficiaries were the NDP and the Green Party.

The Liberal showing also swept PC Leader John Tory from the legislature, as he failed to win his seat in Toronto, which remained a wasteland for his party. The results as of late last night saw the Liberals leading or elected in 70 seats, two fewer than 2003, the Tories up two seats to 26 from last time and the NDP third, gaining four seats to a total of 11 from 2003. There are 107 seats in the legislature, four more than in 2003.

Mr. McGuinty’s victory came despite efforts by the PCs to paint him as untrustworthy in the wake of broken promises made during his first term, particularly his introduction of a health tax after pledging not to raise taxes. He secured his large majority with only 42 per cent of the vote.

"Ontarians are saying we have not voted for the status quo," Mr. McGuinty said. "We are voting for moving forward and we demand progress. We embrace positive ideas. We deplore negativity. We cherish our diversity. … But we want to work and build and dream together.”

The loss was shattering for Mr. Tory, who said last night he will consult with his party about his future, but also suggested he will stay. "I will continue to have my job to do as leader of my party, holding [the Liberals] to account."

The party was unable to overcome doubts sown by his promise to fund faith-based schools and Mr. Tory will almost certainly come under pressure now to step aside, after three years as leader.

"This was my first campaign as party leader and I’ve learned from that experience," he told crestfallen supporters in Toronto. "Obviously, I am ultimately accountable for the campaign and for the results and I accept that accountability as leaders must do."

NDP Leader Howard Hampton won his Northern Ontario seat of Kenora-Rainy River while his party also appeared to pick up one new seat in the city of Hamilton.

"We increased our popular vote significantly tonight and we’re going to send four new New Democrats to Queen’s Park and some of them are very youthful," he said. He pledged to continue to push for his campaign promise to raise the minimum wage and to cut tuition fees.

Voters also rejected a proposal to change the existing first-past-the-post electoral model to a new system under which the number of seats won by a political party would roughly equal its share of the popular vote. Changing the system received 54 per cent, six points below the 60 per cent threshold needed to pass.

Fewer than 50 per cent of Ontarians cast ballots, a record low. Fifty-seven per cent of Ontarians voted in 2003.

Green Leader Frank de Jong said the referendum might have lost support because voters were confused by the plan, particularly the fact that MPPs were to be elected under a list system.

At press time, Green Party candidate Shane Jolley was running second in the rural riding of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, a safe Conservative riding held by Bill Murdoch, who has held the seat since 1990. Mr. Jolley was sitting at 34 per cent, the highest percentage total of any Green candidate in Canadian history.

Although most of Mr. McGuinty’s ministers survived, one cabinet member, Caroline Di Cocco, was defeated in Sarnia-Lambton, where residents were upset about huge cost overruns in construction of a new hospital.

Ontarians can now expect that Mr. McGuinty will have a relatively free hand in pursuing his social agenda designed to bring down class sizes and reduce waiting lists for patients.

In 2003, Mr. McGuinty won a commanding majority – taking 72 of the legislature’s then 103 seats – with 47 per cent of the vote. The Conservatives won 24 seats with 35-per-cent support, while the New Democrats were the first choice of 15 per cent of voters, winning seven seats.

Mr. McGuinty admitted to having butterflies yesterday when he voted with his wife, Terri, and son, Dalton Jr., at Featherston Public School near his Ottawa home.

"I will go and bite my nails and pace the floor until the results come in. It’s as simple as that," Mr. McGuinty said.

He refused to say what his first governing priority would be.

Despite most polls that showed the Conservatives trailing the Liberals, Mr. Tory remained upbeat as he watched his father, John, cast his ballot in the Toronto riding of Don Valley West, where the PC Leader had hoped to win a seat.

Mr. McGuinty, having suffered in 2003 for raising expectations with a series of promises, played it safer this time around with a plan calling for incremental improvements to existing programs. However, the Liberal Leader may find it difficult to pursue an activist agenda in a second term given the dearth of promises.

Mr. Tory pledged to phase out the controversial $2.6-billion annual health tax over four years, give doctors more latitude to work in private, for-profit clinics as long as their fees are paid with a health card, and end what he calls Ontario’s "catch-and-release" justice system, whereby offenders are allowed back on the street under lenient bail conditions.

But it was his contentious promise to extend government funding to faith-based schools that dogged his campaign. Near its end, he said he would put the matter to a free vote in the legislature. But he appeared to back off too late to rescue the PC effort and it may even have cost him votes.