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Ottawa animator and director of Brother Bear dies at 54

Bob Walker, a celebrated Ottawa-raised animator who was nominated for an Academy Award in 2003, passed away from what’s thought to have been a heart attack last week in California.

Walker grew up in Ottawa and graduated from Gloucester High School. An avid doodler and cartoonist, he pursued a degree in animation at Oakville’s Sheridan College and was soon hired at what was then one of the country’s premier animation studios, Atkinson Film-Arts, in Ottawa.

For five years, Walker worked on animated TV shows like Dennis the Menace. After leaving Atkinson, Walker developed a career as a Walt Disney studio layout artist, working on films such as The Rescuers Down Under (1990), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), The Lion King (1994), Mulan (1998), and Lilo & Stitch (2002).

The year after Lilo & Stitch, Walker moved on to directing, co-directing the 2003 animated feature Brother Bear. The film was nominated for an Academy Award in the best animated feature category, but lost to Pixar’s Finding Nemo.

Walker had recently retired from the film industry to spend more time with his nine-year-old daughter and pursue more personal art projects.

—Diyyinah Jamora

Mike Duffy trial begins in Ottawa

More than two years after reports surfaced of Mike Duffy’s overspending, the suspended senator’s trial began this week in Ottawa.

Duffy faces allegations from Crown prosecutors that he billed taxpayers for personal trips, and to adopt a puppy and a $10,000 personal trainer, among 31 charges.

In 2012, Duffy claimed more than $33,000 in living expenses for his home and meals in Ottawa, despite having lived in the city for the past 40 years in the Kanata home he purchased five years before his appointment as a Prince Edward Island senator. After his primary residence, which is supposed to be in PEI, was questioned, Duffy applied for a PEI health card as proof of residency.

Duffy had inappropriately claimed $90,124, which consequently ended the political career of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s former chief of staff Nigel Wright for providing Duffy with the money to repay the expenses. Duffy was forced out of the Conservative caucus, and was then suspended from the Senate and laid with charges.

Wright faces no charges, but will appear as a Crown witness at Duffy’s trial alongside some of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s closest former advisers and Conservative senators. Duffy will be tried by judge alone with no jury, and the trial could last 41 days or more.

—Diyyinah Jamora

Ottawa historian finds missing Vimy Ridge soldiers

Norm Christie, an Ottawa historian, is believed to have found the remains of 44 Canadian soldiers  who died during the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917.

The young men, who were members of the Canadian Scottish Regiment, were buried in a shell crater after one of Canada’s most famous military battles. Although their deaths were registered, their corpses were never exhumed and reburied in any of the military cemeteries built after the end of the First World War.

Christie told an audience of more than 200 ,who were gathered at a screening of an episode from his documentary series, The Great War Tour, that Canada had an obligation to give these forgotten soldiers a proper military burial. Christie hopes to raise $100,000 to exhume the soldiers.

—Omar Abdikader