- OTTAWA (CP) - What fate the
stars hold for Paul Martin may be unclear.
- But one thing's certain: Canada's prime minister recently
had a high-flying close encounter with a UFO.
- Martin and his entourage were cruising above Alberta
when their Challenger jet came within an otherworldly whisker of a luminous
object streaking through the night sky. In a report to Edmonton air traffic
controllers, the pilot of Martin's plane noted seeing a "very bright
light falling" through the air, with smoke trailing, while the aircraft
passed over Suffield, Alta., on Sun., March 21.
- People aboard at least two other planes also saw the
plummeting object, which was travelling "at a very fast rate of speed"
from a high altitude, says the report.
- A copy of the one-page form, titled "UFO Procedures,"
was provided to The Canadian Press by Chris Rutkowski of the Winnipeg-based
group Ufology Research of Manitoba.
- Rutkowski, a longtime tracker of UFO sightings, obtained
the report from the federal Transport Department, which routinely forwards
him data on unidentified flying objects.
- Martin travelled to a farm near Picture Butte, Alta.,
to announce an aid package for farmers last Monday.
- So was an extraterrestrial envoy trying to convey a message
to Canada's new leader?
- Unlikely, says Rutkowski. What the prime minister's plane
and many others saw that night was almost certainty a chunk of a comet
or an asteroid that entered Earth's atmosphere and burned up into fragments.
- An amateur astronomer in Calgary captured the blazing
streak on videotape. And it appears one or more such fireballs were seen
by people across the Prairies and as far east as Quebec.
- In any event, it's unclear if Martin or his aides even
glimpsed the object that crossed the plane's path.
- "I'm not sure of whether the prime minister himself
was apprised of what the pilot had seen at the time," Rutkowski said.
- Justin Kingsley, a spokesman for the Prime Minister's
Office, could not shed light on the question of whether Martin was aware
of the celestial sighting. "I don't have any other information than
what was provided through the protocol of the pilots," said Kingsley.
- Ufology Research of Manitoba publishes an annual study
on UFO sightings in Canada, including many cases involving meteors.
- The group's recently released 2003 survey found that
a record 673 reports of unidentified objects were made to various organizations
and investigators in Canada.