Matt, it'* a tough choice. The 2002 seems to be a bit high on the price, despite the region it'* in. Have you thought about possibly taking a trip to neighboring province'* and saving some $$$, even with the expense of a trip?
I'd bet you could get a nice 2000+ SSEi with under 75k for around $15k Canadian....I see them around me for $10k US with that mileage (add $1k for each year newer) and I'd bet you could find something similar if you'd be willing to spend $500 in travel expenses and $14k on the car from a dealer (New car dealer preferrably as they are the most likely to keep vehicles that are in the best condition with the easiest resale.
If you aren't wanting to travel over 4-500KM I'd say stick with the 97. It'* older, but like everyone else has mentioned that it will be quite abit cheaper to insure, you will be making payments for around 1/2 the time you probably would on 02, and when modding you will be getting more bang for the buck.
Any way you make up your mind I wish you the best of luck with the end results. We here at BC will be here for you 110% to ensure you that you are still one of the family.