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Archive for Wednesday, November 21, 2001

People

November 21, 2001

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Citizen Mandela

Canada bestowed honorary citizenship on Nelson Mandela, making him only the second foreigner to receive the honor.

Prime Minister Jean Chretien welcomed the former South African president into "the Canadian family" on Monday, calling him "a citizen of the world by excellence, and forever more, a citizen of Canada."

Mandela, 83, joined Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who helped thousands of Jews escape the Nazis in Europe, as the only recipients of honorary Canadian citizenship. Wallenberg, who died in 1947, was honored posthumously in 1985.

Belaboring his point

Ian McKellen accused British Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labor government of failing to tackle discrimination against homosexuals.

The British actor, who stars in the upcoming movie "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring," said the Labor administration was no better than its Conservative predecessor at addressing gay issues.

In an interview published Tuesday with the Radio Times magazine, the actor and prominent gay rights campaigner also said it was "appalling" that gays were still discriminated against in the workplace in Britain.

Blair appointed Britain's first openly gay Cabinet minister after the Labor Party took power in 1997, making Chris Smith his culture secretary.

Single-minded plea

"Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling is calling on the British government to improve the plight of more than 1 million single-parent families living in poverty.

"Lone parents and their children are the poorest groups in our society. We are a wealthy nation, yet we have one of the worst records of child poverty in the industrialized world. It is a scandal," Rowling told the National Council for One Parent Families conference on Monday in London.

Rowling, herself a single mother, has spoken in the past of the difficulties of caring for her daughter, before literary fame brought her a fortune.

Still on the job

Queen Elizabeth II met Dracula on Tuesday and asked about his career.

At an investiture at Buckingham Palace, the monarch awarded 79-year-old actor Christopher Lee the title Commander of the British Empire, or CBE, for his services to entertainment.

"The queen said, 'You've had a long career' it's 55 years now and she asked me what I was doing now," said Lee, a longtime star for Britain's Hammer horror studio whose many films include "Horror of Dracula" and "The Curse of Frankenstein."

Lee plays 8,000-year-old wizard Saruman the White in "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring," the adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's classic, which opens Dec. 19 in the United States. Lee also plays the villainous Count Dooku in the latest "Star Wars" prequel, due out in May.

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