March 2010 Archives

NS decision on gas pricing means customers near border will continue to head to NB for fill-ups / Refugee groups on Ottawa's new policies / Green plastics / Phone-in: your 2009 income tax return

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

Cross-Border Gassing : It looks as if gas station operators in the Amherst area will continue to see their neighbours' licence plates disappearing into the distance on the road to Aulac or Sackville, New Brunswick. The Utilities and Review Board has ruled that despite the fact consumers on their side of the border pay 5.4 cents per litre more for gas than New Brunswickers, there is still what it considers to be a "viable gasoline market in the Border Area". We spoke with a disappointed Randy Smith, President of the Amherst and Area Chamber of Commerce.

From A Refugee Camp To Your Neighbourhood: Changes to the way Canada decides who gets into this country are receiving cautiously positive reviews from people who work with refugees in the Maritimes. Ottawa wants to open the door to more people languishing in UN-sponsored refugee camps, while quickly ushering out those who come to Canada and make bogus claims for asylum.  
Under the new plan, 2500 additional refugees would be allowed into Canada each year.  But 2000 of those must be sponsored by private organizations, which provide financial and social support.
We spoke with Lorraine LeClair, Executive Director of the Multicultural Association of Greater Moncton and Evelyn Jones, the refugee sponsorship co-ordinator with Immigrant Settlement and Integration Services in Halifax. (For information on the April11th benefit concert for ISIS in Halifax, click here.)

Plastic Without the Petroleum ? Plastics are relatively cheap to produce, lightweight, strong and versatile, and the convenience they offer is almost irresistible. But most - from 2-litre pop bottles to the container filled with leftovers in the back of the fridge - are made from finite oil resources. When we toss petroleum-based plastics out, they end up clogging a landfill, or, if burned,  generating harmful emissions. If only they could biodegrade.  
Dr. Andrew Dove is a chemist at the University of Warwick in the U.K. He's working on non-petroleum-based plastics (He's giving a talk at 7pm, Wednesday, March 31st, in the Wanda Wyatt Lecture Theatre at the University of Prince Edward Island).   

Sharpen That Pencil : It's a chore many of us put off til the last minute.  But it has to be done, and the more organized and better-informed we are, the easier it'll be. We are, of course taking about filing this year's income tax form. Pat Olmstead of the Canada Revenue Agency answered dozens of questions.

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Forestry at the crossroads : what's the highest use for trees ? A driver safety course designed for seniors / Phone-in: Mary Anne White and Richard Wassersug on The Science of Every Day Life

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

Newsprint, Houses, or Biofuel ?  So far, Nova Scotia's forest industry has dodged the bullet. In the past decade, more than 200 pulp and paper mills across North America have closed - many of them in neighbouring New Brunswick, Québec and Maine. The North American forest industry has also lost money in 7 out of those 10 years. Now, it's faced by increased competition from countries where the trees grow faster and production costs are lower.
And while NS hasn't seen a single closure, yesterday we heard Scott Travers predict that it's only a matter of time. He's president of Minas Basin Pulp and Power, which makes 100% recycled paperboard products. But for mills that depend on trees, Mr Travers suggested that forestry companies turn their attention towards making a new product : biofuel like ethanol.
Wade Prest is with the Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners & Operators Association. He told us why he's concerned about the possibility of pulp, paper & lumber operations shifting towards the production of ethanol and energy instead. He hasn't seen the data to convince him it would be either sustainable or the best use of trees.
When it comes to using wood in your province, what do you think the priorities should be ? What would you need to see to convince you that a particular path - whether the end product is lumber, pulp, paper, biofuel or a forest that captures carbon - is the best path ? Go to the Contact Us page.

Better Safe Than Sorry : Recently, we raised a topic that drew a torrent of emotional response. We asked how we should determine when it's time for elderly drivers to hang up the car keys for good.
One proposed answer is through a planned driving retirement program. The idea is to keep seniors on the road - safely - for as long as possible, and when they can no longer drive, to have programs to help them get around. These would include things like access to public transportation and tax breaks for car pooling. But which government, agency or organization will take the lead on that ?
In the meantime, drivers will continue to age - and drive. We spoke with John Pellerine, the Senior's Safety Co-ordinator for Antigonish Town and County. It sponsors a driving safety program called Operation Boomers that's funded by the Insurance Bureau of Canada.  

TIme's Up ! From the speed of chemical reactions in a lab, to the age of our universe, Drs Mary Anne White & Richard Wassersug are mightily impressed by the time scales over which science  works. Today discussed the incredibly long and short time frames that scientists work within, and then answered questions about The Science of Everyday Life. Mary Anne is University Research Professor of Chemistry & Physics at Dalhousie University; Richard Wassersug is Professor of Biology, Anatomy & Neurobiology at Dal, but joined us from Melbourne, Australia - where he's on sabbatical.
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Switching struggling Maritime forest companies to energy producers / We dig deeper into the root cellar idea - for houses and institutions / Phone-in: Art Irwin with advice on damp basements and answers to home heating questions

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

From Energy Consumer To Energy Producer ? A drop in lumber exports to the US, industry consolidation, and layoffs and closures at pulp mills have all added to uncertainty in one of the region's most venerable business sectors.
But is it possible - or desirable - to retool an industry which consumes large amounts of energy into a producer of energy ? If so, would it be sustainable ?
Scott Travers believes it's time for the forest industry to radically rethink what it's doing.  Mr Travers is president of Minas Basin Pulp and Power. When he appeared recently before Nova Scotia's Standing Committee on Resources, he was asked what the future held for the forestry industry. He replied that the real driver will be energy security.  

Getting To The Root of a Solution: On our March 26th phone-in, our guest was Jim Merkel of Belfast, Maine. He's the author of Radical Simplicity: Small Footprints on a Finite Earth. He talked about ways of scaling back unnecessary consumption - which not only saves money but reduces waste and pressure on natural resources.  
As is often the case in phone-ins - one of the things that came up in conversation with the guest seemed to seize your attention. Towards the end of the show, caller Heather Williams of Economy, NS suggested that building codes should require that new homes include a "cold room" or "root cellar". Several of you commented favourably on this. Then we heard about Jim Merkel's large-scale project : he's going to teach a course at Unity College in Maine that will lead to the construction of a commercial-sized rootcellar.

The Scourge of Damp Basements: Jim Merkel might have piqued a lot of interest in the topic of cold rooms, but you won't be keeping vegetables or anything else down there if it's not dry. Basement dampness isn't only unhelpful - it's unhealthy, since it can create ideal conditions for the growth of mould. And over time, water infiltration in your basement can lead to structural problems.
The combination of the spring thaw and spring rains make this the season when you're most likely to detect the problem of a leaky basement.
Art Irwin - who operates Irwin Energy Consulting Services in Halifax - returned with advice on how best to deal with the problem in the short run and over the long term. He also answered questions about home heating and energy conservation.
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Cattle producers sue Ottawa over the 2003 BSE crisis / The search for authentic Maritime foods / Phone-in: Jim Merkel, author of Radical Simplicity - your ideas for a more sustainable life

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

See You In Court: On May 20th, 2003, at the height of the BSE scare, the US closed its borders to Canadian beef. The action threw this country's cattle industry into crisis.   
The public feared that bovine spongiform encephalopathy could be transmitted to humans through the food chain. BSE was linked to Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, a fatal brain disorder.
But now, the Canadian cattle industry has launched a class action lawsuit against the federal government, accusing Ottawa of mishandling the crisis and demanding compensation for the huge losses that farmers sustained.   
The case, which will still take years to get to trial, involves anyone who was raising cattle when the border closed. That's about 135,000 farm families.
CBC reporter Rob North spoke with the lead counsel Cameron Pallet, about the case.

Not Just Any Seaweed, Fish or Sauerkraut Gets On This Ark : When is the last time you ate some crispy, midnight-purple dulse ? Its crunchy texture and salty kick might be an acquired taste, but it's a genuine Maritime delicacy.
Dulse is one of several foods that Peter Jackson believes should make it on to the Ark of Taste - an organization related to the Slow Food movement. The Ark's mission is to rediscover and publicize authentic flavours from around the world. For many years, the Halifax- raised Jackson ran a high profile restaurant called Jack's Grill in Edmonton. But he's recently moved to a farm in Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley, where he's busy tending his grape vines & getting reacquainted with the region's most distinctive foods.
Chef Peter Jackson is involved in the Slow Food movement.

No Guilt Trips, Just Smart Tips: The choices we make every day - what we eat, what we wear, how we get to where we want to go - can either reduce or increase the amount of damage we do to the planet. And all those individual decisions add up to huge collective decisions.  
Jim Merkel used to be as materialistic as the next guy. But he's taken a long and interesting path to a more simple, sustainable way of life.  He had an epiphany of sorts after watching the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil tanker disaster unfold on the shores of Alaska. He quit his job as a  U.S military engineer, and ever since, has worked to develop tools to help people - and organizations - become more sustainable.  His 2003 book Radical Simplicity: Small Footprints on a Finite Earth is a practical guide to a less materialistic life.  
These days, Mr Merkel lives as simply as he can at his home in Belfast, Maine.  But he's not a recluse - far from it;  he founded the Global Living Project and conducts workshops around North America on sustainable living.
Jim Merkel shared his experiences, and we asked for your ideas on making the transition to a more sustainable lifestyle or for the story of how you decided to turn good intentions into action. 
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What's the most important point for you in the failed deal between NBPower & Hydro-Québec ? And... Does the public have the right to know when soldiers are wounded ?

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

The Maritimes' Energy Future: The deal might have been abruptly unplugged, but the debate continues to arc and spark across the region. The $3.2 billion plan to sell some NB Power assets to Hydro-Québec officially went dark on Wednesday. Premier Shawn Graham said Quebec wanted major changes that New Brunswick couldn't accept. Premier Jean Charest says it became apparent to Hydro-Québec that some of NB Power's assets would require more investment and constitute more risk than originally expected.
The deal was supposed to solve the debt problem posed by the Crown electrical utility and make New Brunswick industries more competitive by giving them a break on power rates. It was described as a "game-changer" in the Eastern Canadian energy scene.
But the proposal caught New Brunswickers, regional utilities and Atlantic Premiers by surprise last October, and provoked a political backlash.
So, what will the consequences be for individuals and companies that use electricity in the province ? Are there lessons for political leaders at all levels of government when it comes to presenting important initiatives to citizens ?
Our guest was Dr Yves Gagnon, who holds the K.C. Irving Chair in Sustainable Development at l'Université de Moncton. Our question : What's the most important point for you in the failed NBPower/Hydro-Québec deal ?

Reporting on Wounded Soldiers: Information about battlefield casualties has always been an important commodity. Both sides need it to evaluate their success or failure so they can modify plans.Beyond that, the information becomes very malleable. It can be used by the adversaries to create propaganda and inspire; it can be suppressed to prevent it from negatively affecting morale.
But far from the front lines, there are others with a heightened sensitivity to information about war casualties, and with differing degrees of a claim on the right to get it : family members of the combatants, politicians, and of course, the news media.
Recently, there's been a change in Canadian policy. The Department of National Defence will no longer report when soldiers are wounded in Afghanistan. Instead, it will provide statistics once a year. Brigadier-General Dan Menard said "If the insurgents knew how many soldiers were wounded in each...incident, they could use this information to improve their tactics...and cause more Canadian casualties."
Our guest was Scott Taylor, publisher and editor of Esprit de Corps magazine, and author of several books - most recently, his memoir "Unembedded: Two Decades of Maverick War Reporting".
Our question : Does the public have the right to know when soldiers are wounded ? 

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Collapse of the proposed deal NB Power-Hydro Quebec deal / Phone-in : From savages to spiritual icons, Hollywood has played fast and loose with native culture. How have movies shaped perceptions of aboriginal people ?

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

Unplugged : It was described as a "game-changer" in the Eastern Canadian energy scene.
The proposed deal to sell NB Power assets to Hydro-Québec caught New Brunswickers, regional utilities and Atlantic Premiers unawares last October, and provoked a ferocious political backlash.
Premier Shawn Graham then began the task of selling the deal to citizens - explaining how it would solve the debt problem posed by the Crown electrical utility and make New Brunswick industries more competitive by giving them a break on power rates.
But despite subsequent negotiations to tweak the deal into something more palatable, it all ended abruptly this morning when Mr Graham announced the proposed deal was dead.
The CBC's Jacques Poitras traced the saga of the deal from its origins to the possible consequences of its collapse for consumers - and for Premier Graham.
But what of the other half of the deal ? Hear Premier Jean Charest's responses to reporters in Quebec shortly after the news broke.  

"Dusters" and DeceptionReel Injun, a documentary by Cree filmmaker Neil Diamond, traces the evolution of Hollywood's fascination with aboriginal culture - an evolution mired in stereotypes, misunderstandings, and sheer ignorance that would be laughable if they hadn't been so damaging to native peoples over the past century.
For anybody who grew up watching Hollywood's version of native reality, the "Cowboys and Indians" canon is littered with stereotypes of aboriginal people that swing from the noble mystic, to the bloodthirsty savage, and even to "the groovy Indian" of the 1960s.
Reel Injun (the Director's Cut of which will be screened Wednesday, April 7th at the CBC Radio Room at 1599 South Park just off Spring Garden - at 7PM; $10) - explores how aboriginal people and native culture have been used by filmmakers as powerful symbols. It also celebrates the emergence of a vibrant native cinema which has produced spectacular films like Atanarjuat - The Fast Runner - from Inuk director Zacharias Kunuk, the first movie ever made in the Inuit language.  
We were joined by Neil Diamond and film critic Jesse Wente. Our question : How have movies shaped perceptions of aboriginal people ?
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Maritime projects to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions : injecting CO2 into concrete and trimming methane emissions from dairy herds / Phone-in: "Do you think carbon-trading will reduce greenhouse gas emissions ?"

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

Today's Show Is Brought To You By The Element Carbon... and the gas molecules that include it. We explored ways that the Climate Change issue has penetrated some very traditional businesses in the Maritimes - creating opportunities, but also some unanswered questions.
And speaking of questions - when you see a grey slab of concrete, do you ever think about its potential for having a positive effect on the environment ?
Robert Niven does. He's an engineer in Halifax, and he's come up with a way to turn this grey mass into something green, by storing carbon emissions in it.
Douglas Gelevan brought us the story

That Other Greenhouse Gas: Thanks to the methane they emit at both ends, farm animals have a pretty substantial carbon hoofprint themselves. And some people want to fix that.
Bible Hill Nova Scotia's Atlantic BioVenture Centre is trying to attract a project that would reduce bovine methane by feeding them a garlic extract. If it works, it could open the door to two things : a new market niche in dairy products and carbon credits - a new revenue stream for farmers. For an explanation, we contacted Dr. Richard Ablett of the Atlantic BioVenture Centre. He's working with a company from Wales to set up the project.

To Market, To Market: The question of what to do with carbon-based gases reminds me of what someone in the pulp and paper industry said to me many years ago : "Pollution is just a name for something we haven't found a market for yet."
These days, Maritime industries that substantially reduce their emissions by adopting greener technology can now enter a market where they can sell carbon credits. Minas Basin Pulp & Power, for instance, has sold 62,000 tonnes' worth over the past few years.
The push to reduce carbon emissions has opened up what Mark Schapiro has called "the fastest-growing commodities market on earth". Mr Schapiro is a journalist whose February, 2010 article in Harper's Magazine ("Conning the Climate : Inside the Carbon-Trading Shell Game") takes a critical look at that market. It's a market which can link garlic-eating, methane-reduced cows in the Maritimes (which we heard about on today's show) with people known as "emissions assessors" and "carbon developers", who roam the world, connecting carbon reducers with carbon polluters. And as with any commodities market, there are potential profits to be made.
Mark Schapiro joined us from a studio at the University of California in Berkeley. Our question : "Do you think carbon-trading will reduce greenhouse gas emissions ?"  
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Cosmetic pesticides : should the Maritimes be on the same page ? Students learn how indiscreet messages can backfire / Public services you'd live without to balance the books / Phone-in: Questions about hearing loss

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

Variety Is The Spice Of Legislation: Mild weather has sent people's minds into fast forward when it comes to lawns and gardens. But this season promises to be different in more ways than temperature or the amount of rain. Different jurisdictions in the Maritimes are taking a variety of approaches - from guidelines to legislation - to reduce or eliminate many chemicals which have been used to kill bugs or weeds.
But retailers continue to stock many of those banned or restricted substances.
To get an overview of the latest developments, we contacted Tony Reddin of the Atlantic Canada Chapter of the Sierra Club of Canada in Bonshaw, Prince Edward Island, and Chris Benjamin, the Healthy Lawns Coordinator with the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax, part of Pesticide-Free Nova Scotia Coalition.

OMG ! WDYT ? When it comes to texting, is there a communication gap between those who do and those who don't ? Especially when it comes to privacy issues that young people don't understand ?
TextED is offered to Grade 7 students in 200 schools across Canada. It's designed to sensitise young people to the ways that thoughtless messaging through cellphones, Facebook or other social media can mushroom into major problems with peers, parents, schools and even the police.
The CBC's Angela Chang spoke with three students who've taken the TextED course in Fredericton : Victoria Keats, Kassie Costello, and Taylor Dunn from Bliss Carman Middle School.
Angela began by asking if they knew of any examples of texting that led to unhappy consequences.
[And if you really want to decipher those acronyms that keep thumbs flying, click here to look it up on TextED's Acronictionary. G2R].

The Big Public Tradeoff: If it's unpopular for a government at any level to raise taxes, how will it finance the essential programs and services that people want ? A recent Ekos poll confirmed suspicions: only 14% of Canadians would agree to tax hikes as a way to fight deficits.
But with deficits in this year's budgets - and the spectre of future interest charges on growing debts - that leaves finance ministers with one option for keeping costs under control : reduce or eliminate spending and services.
On Friday's phone-in, we asked which government services you'd be willing to do without. Producer Deborah Woolway joined me to go through the many responses that poured in after the show.

Come Again ? If you've caught yourself turning up the radio or asking people to repeat themselves more frequently, you could be suffering from hearing loss. One in ten Canadians suffers from some kind of hearing impairment and that actual numbers are likely to rise as the population ages. Hearing impairment is now the third most prevalent disability in Canada, after hypertension and arthritis. As well, work-related hearing loss claims are on the rise (the Workers' Compensation Board of Nova Scotia received more than 5000 claims for hearing loss in the last decade at a cost of more than $40 million).
Our guests were Greg Noel, director of audiology at Nova Scotia Hearing and Speech Centres, and an adjunct professor at Dalhousie University, and audiologist Nona Fuller, President of the Hearing Institute Atlantic. We invited you to call with questions about hearing loss and treatments.
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As older Maritimers give up their driving licences, how will they get around ? Phone-in : Which reduction or elimination of a government service would you be willing to accept ?

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

Put Yourself In Jim Flaherty's Shoes : You know, the traditional new pair of shoes the federal finance minister buys and puts on during the photo op before delivering the budget.
For that matter, put yourself in the shoes of any provincial finance minister or the chief financial officer of your municipality.
They're all faced with a demand for public services, which cost taxpayers' dollars. And this year, politicians at all levels are cobbling together budgets while struggling with deficits - a shortfall of dollars to meet expenditures on everything from the troops in Afghanistan to emergency rooms and municipal potholes.
But citizens aren't keen on any tax increases. And while no coroner has ever logged "taxes" as a cause of death, the sentiment that we're "taxed to death" has driven the discussion towards cuts to public services.
before going to the phone-in, we heard what Graham Steele, Nova Scotia's finance minister had to say after a round of consultations with taxpayers...also known as service users.

Hanging Up the Keys - But Then What ? Our Thursday, March 18th phone-in touched a raw nerve with many of you. We asked if you would support a driving retirement program for seniors. The idea was floated in an editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. It concludes that we collectively turn a blind eye to the risks involved when it comes to elderly seniors who no longer have the reflexes or abilities drive. And it suggests that -  just like planning for a job retirement, we should plan for driving retirement, and create programs to support that goal.
Well, the discussion continued via email after the phone in, and Producer Deborah Woolway joined me in the studio to read your comments.

"Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven, But Nobody Wants To Die" : Many politicians believe the quickest way to die in the next election is to announce a tax increase. A recent Ekos poll confirmed that 86% of Canadians did not check off  "Raise my taxes" as a means of fighting deficits.
But with deficits in this year's budgets - leading to future interest charges on growing debts - that would leave finance ministers with one option for reaching fiscal heaven : reducing or eliminating spending and services.
Which is fine. But have you ever noticed that when reporters on the street ask people about that, they generally get vague statements about "eliminating waste". That's fine, too : wasting public money is wrong.
But we all use government services. You're using one right now : CBC Radio. And the fact is, we all expect certain public services - whether it's getting your hip replaced or enrolling your child in public school or getting the potholes fixed or having the playing fields maintained.
So - if you believe governments at all levels should work towards balanced budgets and you don't want your taxes increased, which government service - at any level - would you be willing to do without ? Our guest was Dr Jim McNiven, Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Management at Dalhousie University.

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We list water as our most important natural resource, but why do we waste so much ? Phone-in : Would you support a driving retirement program for seniors ?

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

From Morning Shower To Brushing Before Bed : Our days start with water consumption and continue in one way or another until we turn in at night. We drink water, wash dishes and clothes in it, and flush away our waste with it.But what happens when we stop to think about all the ways we use water - something we usually do without much thought at all ?
The 3rd Annual Canadian Water Attitudes Survey of more than 2000 Canadians (commissioned by RBC & Unilever) was released Wednesday. It shows that in Atlantic Canada, we believe that water is a more important natural resource than forests, agricultural land, or fishing.
But when it comes to drinking water, we seem to be more suspicious of what comes out of the tap than other Canadians. Only 32% of Atlantic Canadians drink tap water - the lowest of any of the regions surveyed. The CBC's Angela Chang spoke with people in Fredericton to find out where they get their drinking water.
When you look at all the ways we consume water, the survey mentioned exhibits a wide range of attitudes - from concern to outright delusion. For instance, when asked what amount of water we each use per capita every day, the average Canadian believes it's around 66 litres. In fact, its close to 330 litres.
Dr Graham Gagnon holds the Canada Research Chair in Water Quality & Treatment
in Dalhousie University's Department of Civil & Resource Engineering. He's been looking through the Canadian Water Attitudes Survey and joined us to discuss what's notable about attitudes towards water in our region.

Parking the Car For Good : It's an uncomfortable, stressful and emotional situation for just about everyone when a family decides it's time for Mum or Dad to hang up the car keys and stop driving. For many seniors it can mean a devastating loss of independence - a loss that can be particularly acute in suburban or rural areas where public transportation - or even taxis - may be non-existent.  
But the consequences of NOT dealing with the risk to public safety are worse, says a strongly worded editorial in the latest edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal. It concludes that many people turn a blind eye to those risks when it comes to elderly seniors who shouldn't drive.  And  it suggests that -  just like planning for a job retirement, we should be planning for driving retirement and create programs that do two things:  help seniors drive safely for as long as possible and help them get around when they can't.
Our guests were Dr Noni MacDonald (who co-wrote the CMAJ editorial) and Dr Paige Moorhouse. Dr MacDonald is a professor of pediatrics at Dalhousie University.  Dr Paige Moorhouse  is a geriatric specialist at Dalhousie who's involved in two research projects related to driving and dementia.
Our question : Would you support a driving retirement program for seniors ?
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Acadian Lines' proposed cuts to NB and NS bus service get rough ride from passengers / Ottawa's about-face on C@P cuts / Shifting constellations / Phone-in : buying or selling real estate

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

You Can't Get There From Here : From Port Hawkesbury in Cape Breton to Pennfield and Miramichi, New Brunswick, bus service is often the only link between small communities and cities - where government offices, post-secondary institutions and medical facilities tend to be located.
But lately that connection has been looking fragile. Acadian Coach Lines wants to drop some of its less profitable routes in both New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and that's raised concern in both provinces at public sessions that are part of the review process into its application. To read which routes the company wants to drop, click here. (NB routes are first, then routes in NS)
The CBC's Lindsay Bird briefed us on reactions at public hearings.

To Re-C@P Our Story...:  The federal government's abrupt about-face Tuesday afternoon on a decision to cut funding to C@P sites was welcomed by people who rely on them to access the internet and stay connected.The C@P sites offered free computer and internet access. Last Friday, the people who run those sites were told that many would be closing. Ottawa now says they'll be fully funded for the upcoming year - a reaction, perhaps to calls such as those we received on our answering machine after Tuesday's interviews on the story.

What's your sign ? In 2010, I mean ? To make a generalization, astronomers and astrologers don't usually hang out together. But there's no denying that they have a shared interest in constellations - you know : Pisces, Aries , Capricorn and all that.
In the dying seconds of Tuesday's phone-in, featuring our astronomical team of Doug Pitcairn & Dave Lane, we ran out of time before they could answer the last caller's question. So we went into a rare overtime period of the phone-in. Listen to the question and the answer about how much the constellations have moved over the millennia.

Just Like The Crocuses... :...the For Sale signs are blooming. When a person's thoughts turn towards buying or selling a house, who knows what motivations are at play ? A recent survey showed that a healthy majority of people in this region believe now would be a better time to buy than next year.
There's no doubt that interest rates are relatively low. But the realist would quickly point out this just means that they're bound to rise - which could create a financial crunch in the future.
Emotion, of course, can override reason at any point in the process - from what you budget to buy a dwelling to what you think your existing home should be worth. But since buying or selling a house is ultimately a personal - and important - decision, the more information you have, the better. We convened a panel to answer your questions. Betty Rourke is a realtor with Prudential Summit in Saint John. Bruce McLaughlin is lawyer with the Dartmouth firm of Weldon McInnis. And Ralph Rickard is a home inspector based in Dartmouth. They answered questions about buying and selling real estate.
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What will federal funding cuts mean to Maritimers who depend on C@P sites ? Your thoughts on diversity and multiculturalism in the region / Phone-in : questions about stars, constellations, planets and any object in the night sky

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

Cut Adrift From The Online World : When you need to apply for a tax credit or passport application or pension benefit, and an official tells you to "download the online form from the government website and print it off", you might grumble about having to do this chore.
But what if you don't have a computer and a fast internet connection to connect with that government website ?
Since 1995, most Canadians in this position have been able to go to a local library or community centre, and - with the help of staff or volunteers - use the local C@P site.
Late last week, though, Industry Canada sent out a note indicating it was going to make deep cuts to funding and the number of sites.
To find out what this will mean in the Maritimes Provinces, we contacted Elizabeth Wilson, who coordinates the Afton Computer Club & Cornwall C@P site in Prince Edward Island, and Eric Stackhouse, Chair of Nova Scotia C@P.

More Than Festivals And Exotic Food : We waded into the complex and often sensitive issues surrounding multiculturalism on Monday's phone-in. The ethnic and cultural makeup of Canada is changing rapidly. And while it's more obvious in places like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, the shift is having an effect across the country, including the Maritimes.Our guest was Professor Phil Ryan of Carleton University, whose upcoming book "Multicultiphobia" stresses the need for an open-minded public discussion about the issues raised by multiculturalism.
We asked you what you wish to make of the changing mix of ethnicity, race and culture in Canada. Producer Deborah Woolway dropped in to read your email comments

Look Up; Look 'Way Up : In  the past two weeks, the constellation Orion seems to have moved and turned considerably in the night sky. Will it disappear before summer?  And has the spot on the horizon where the sun rises been moving at a faster rate than in January ?
Well, all stars and constellations shift as the seasons pass - but why?  Our next two guests are prepared to answer questions like those - and any others you have about the night sky.
Dave Lane is Vice President of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and a technician at the observatory at St Mary's University in Halifax. Douglas Pitcairn teaches at the university's Department of Astronomy and Physics. They answered questions about things you see in the night sky.   
Click to download podcast

Multiculturalism - threat to a strong, unified society or word for what's always existed : a changing mix of ethnicity, race and culture that ultimately enriches the country ? What do you wish to make of Canada's increasing diversity ?

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

What Will It Mean To Be Canadian in 2010 ? What do "we" look like and sound like ? Do we subscribe to a set of shared values ?  Should we ? Did we ever ?
Those sensitive and complex questions are coming increasingly into focus as the ethnic and cultural makeup of Canada changes.
Canada currently maintains the highest rate of immigration in the developed world. Statistics Canada projects that by 2031, one in three Canadians will belong to a visible minority - and that, of course, includes many whose families have been here for generations. One in four will have been born outside the country.  
Will these new Canadians adapt to established cultural norms, or will cultural norms adapt to them ?  Will the changing mix of ethnicity, race and culture  enrich Canada? Or does the current understanding of multiculturalism discourage adaptation and erect "cultural walls" among Canadians?
Phil Ryan teaches at the School of Public Policy and Administration at Carleton University. His new book, Multicultiphobia (to be released in May), examines the emergence and influence of people who view multiculturalism as a threat to a strong, unified society.
Despite - or perhaps because of - the sensitive issues involved,  Professor Ryan says Canadians need to talk about points raised by both multiculturalism's critics and supporters, without the discussion degenerating into name-calling and charges of racism or political correctness.  
Our question : What do you wish to make of Canada's increasing diversity

A Great Loss
: It was a shock to hear that our colleague & friend Gary Mittelholtz died on Saturday, March 13th. Gary was familiar to CBC Radio listeners in the Maritimes both as a host and news reporter. When he moved to Saint John in the mid-80s, he felt he'd come home and he, Theresa, and their family put down solid roots.
In his work as a journalist, Gary became a reliable bridge between individuals and the broader community. No matter what the story was, people found it easy to open their hearts to Gary, because of his genuine interest and respect for them, and his belief that it was important for all of us to appreciate how many different life experiences there were around us.
Gary retired from CBC Radio less than two years ago, and continued reflecting the community he loved by becoming publisher-editor of the River Valley News in Grand Bay-Westfield, near Saint John.
If you wish to read more about Gary or leave a comment or reminiscence, click here.
We miss him.

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NS steel fabricator unhappy about millions in public money for new competitor / Interview about 1963 airline crash inspires memorable response / Phone-in: Marjorie Willison answers gardening questions

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

New Kid on the Steel Block : Green energy might come from natural elements like wind and tides, but harnessing it depends on something else : cold, hard steel.
Towers and blades for windfarms and underwater bases for tidal turbines generate millions of dollars' worth of business for steel fabricators.
But an established Maritime firm now faces competition in its backyard from an international company lured there by the provincial & federal governments.
Nova Scotia has invested $60 million and taken a 49% equity stake in a venture with Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering of South Korea. Daewoo will build wind turbine towers and blades at the former TrentonWorks site in Pictou County.
The federal government - through ACOA - is giving Daewoo an additional $10 million.
But the General Manager of the Cherubini Group - Steve Ross - feels this injection of public money puts its steel fabrication business at a competitive disadvantage.

New Leads and Moving Recollections : On Monday, March 8th, we brought you the story of Trans-Canada Airlines Flight 831. Five minutes after taking off from Montréal on November 29th, 1963, the plane nose-dived into the bush near the town of Ste-Thérèse-de-Blainville killing 118 passengers and crew - the worst disaster in Canadian aviation history at the time.
Dr Bob Page and Ern Dick of Granville Ferry, Nova Scotia placed an ad in the Globe & Mail last year, asking people who had personal connections with the crash to contact them.  Our producer Deborah Woolway read one extraordinary email received since the interview.

Herbs Are Bustin' Out All Over : Marjorie Willison - author of The East Coast Gardener - joined us to (a) inspect the Maritime Noon Herb Garden and (b) to answer questions about gardening, pruning and lawn preparation.

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As Maritime rinks slump at Brier, region's fans find new team to cheer / Will change in federal budget make it easier for Maritime entrepreneurs to attract foreign investors ? Phone-in: Doug Bethune answers your automotive questions

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

I'se The B'y That Sweeps The Ice : It's the Holy Grail of Canadian men's curling - the Brier.
And the quest has led the top curling foursomes from across the country to Halifax this year. But for Maritime rinks, this will not be the year when one of them gets to clutch the trophy.
So where will the loyalty of Maritime fans go ?
CBC's Mihira Lakshman is covering the Brier, and he joined us just before hurrying down to the Metro Centre for the day's draws.

Happy Days Are Here Again : The genealogy links that disappeared from our website when the software was changed have been restored ! Terry Punch provided them to us again, along with updates and additions, and we've posted them. Click here and scroll down to Terry's name.

So Long, Red Tape : Whenever two or three Maritimers form a company around a great idea, the potential exists to turn that idea into jobs and profits. But usually, they don't have the money to cover the lean years of developing that idea into a marketplace winner.
At the same time, there are venture capitalists sitting on millions of dollars - ready, willing and able to invest in companies that could find a profitable market niche in four or five years.
It sounds like a marriage made in heaven. But when it comes to marriages between foreign investors and Canadian companies, there have been some impediments.
Last week's federal budget seems to have removed one, though.
To find out whether it's a change that could make it easier for Maritime companies to attract foreign investors, we invited two people who work at that busy intersection. Ben Forcier is Vice-President of Investment with InNOVAcorp, a Crown Corporation that works with early-stage Nova Scotia companies. Tom Hayes is President & CEO of Growthworks Atlantic Venture Fund, a labour-sponsored regional fund.

Is Your Car Giving You Static ? Static build-up in a vehicle can cause more problems than a little snap now and then. It can be the source of "ghost problems" in vehicles - glitches you can feel in your vehicle but can never pin down when you take it into the garage.
Ghost-buster Doug Bethune shared his experience in solving these problems. He also answered your automotive questions.
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Clearing up mixed messages about Ottawa's commitment to help the most innovative Maritime companies / Phone-in: your questions about filing 2009 income tax returns

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

Well, Do You Want To Fund Innovation or Not ? "Innovation" was one of the key words in the latest federal budget. Now, innovation is all well and good, but it involves more than turning good ideas into great products that create jobs. It involves big pots of money - both public and private.
In this region, though, there were some confusing messages about public funding for innovators.
Mr Flaherty announced $19 million to extend ACOA's Atlantic Innovation Fund for the next year. This fund was established a decade ago to help businesses and research institutes to develop and commercialize new technologies
But the fund had been getting about $60 million annually in five-year commitments, so this appeared to be a reduction, and that would contradict government rhetoric about "innovation".
Dr Elizabeth Beale, President & CEO of the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, has been trying to sort out what's really happening with funding for innovation in this region.

Speaking of the are you : We heard your comments from our answering machine about last week's Federal Budget phone-in, and Producer Deborah Woolway read one of your emails.

One of Life's Inevitabilities : Paul Cormier, a Senior Taxpayer Services Agent with the Canada Revenue Agency in Saint John, responded to your questions about filing your 2009 income tax form.

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Locked-in pension ? Need money ? You might be in the crosshairs of a scam artist / Phone-in: how to care for people with dementia (and support the caregivers)

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

Are You The Target of This Scam ? Let's say that early in your work history you had a job with a company and put away money in RRSPs. After changing employers, those funds became "locked in".
All right - what happens if you're now out of work and could really use that money, but haven't reached the age when you can access your savings ?
That would make you the target of a new scam that's surfaced in Atlantic Canada.
Natalie MacLellan - the Investor Education & Communications Coordinator with the Nova Scotia Securities Commission - alerted us to it.

Do Caregivers Need Care ?  Every indication is that the population of the Maritimes is aging at a steady clip. At the same time, people are living longer. Eventually, many of us will find ourselves giving care and support to elderly relatives, whether they live at home or move into assisted living facilities or nursing homes.
Dementia is already the leading cause of disability among Canadians over the age of 65. Caring for people who exhibit signs of Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia is stressful and fraught with uncertainty. How do you know if you're doing the right things ? What should you prepare for as a caregiver ?
Dr.Tiffany Chow is a behavioural neurologist specializing in early-onset dementias, based at Baycrest Hospital in Toronto - an internationally renowned academic health sciences center that focuses on aging. Dr Ken Rockwood is a professor of geriatric medicine and Alzheimer Research Chair at Dalhousie University. They answered questions about the best way to provide support to people with dementia - and for the caregivers.
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How a 1963 airline crash provides insights into Canadian society of the era / Phone-in: Genealogist Terry Punch

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

Then and Now - What An Airline Crash Can Reveal : On November 29th, 1963, five minutes after taking off from Montréal, Trans-Canada Airlines flight 831 crashed nose-first into the bush near the town of Ste-Thérèse-de-Blainville. The crash killed 118 passengers and crew, making it the worst disaster in Canadian aviation history at the time.
The vast majority of people who died were men. Most of their wives were mothers who - unlike most women today - worked in the home. They were taking care of young Baby Boomers and had no source of income beyond their husbands' salaries.
On International Women's Day, we spoke with Dr Bob Page - one of the children whose mother was widowed on November 29th, 1963 - about the lasting effects of that event on the surviving families.
Dr Page and archivist Ern Dick of Granville Ferry, Nova Scotia (who lost his uncle in the crash) have been interviewing people connected with Flight 831 or the subsequent investigation. They've produced a DVD of their preliminary research, which includes "At the Moment of Impact" - a 1965 documentary presented on CBC Television's legendary current affairs show, This Hour Has Seven Days. Our podcast today includes an audio excerpt from that show, hosted by Patrick Watson.
If you have a personal connection with the crash and want to share your memories, contact Dr Page :  rpage11 [at] cogeco [dot]ca .
If you want information about the DVD contact Ern Dick : ejdick [at] ns [dot]sympatico [dot]ca

Just In Time For St Paddy's Day: That leprechaun of the genealogical lists, Terry Punch, had information about several good Irish websites you can use to search online if the fancy takes you for a good place to start, click here ). He also answered questions about researching your ancestry.

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Ottawa tables a budget that's long on austerity and short on new spending. Phone-in : what do you like - and not like - about the federal budget ?

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

Slaying the Deficit Dragon or Wishing Upon A Star ? When it comes to federal budgets, "recalibration" can apparently be translated as"boring". The latest from Ottawa is all about reining in Canada's deficit - $54 billion dollars this year - and nurturing the country's fragile economic recovery. The government's restraint plan pledges to nearly-but-not-quite balance the budget by 2015.
How?  There's little new spending in this budget - and Ottawa hopes to squeeze out $17.6 billion in savings during the next five years by freezing departmental budgets, slowing the growth of military spending and capping foreign aid. And as expected, the budget includes Chapter Two of the government's stimulus package - a $19 billion dollar injection into the economy.  
But beyond the stimulus package, the budget contains few new initiatives. There's  $60 million to help youth deal with the tough job market, $62 million for elite and amateur athletes - the Own the Podium program -  and $8 million to create a new oversight body for the RCMP.   
Our guests were Armine Yalnizyan, an economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives - an independent, non-partisan research institute concerned with issues of social and economic justice. Todd King is a Senior Tax Partner with the accounting firm Deloitte Touche in Halifax.
We asked what you like - and don't like about the federal budget. 
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Large egg producers withdraw request that Marketing Council reduce size of free-range flocks / Phone-in: Dietitian and cookbook author Mary Sue Waisman answers questions on how to plan a diet that meets your needs for nutrition and energy

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

Small Farms in the Big Picture [Eggs] :The egg is such a staple of our diet, that refrigerators come with special trays for them.But the eggs we put in those trays can have very different pedigrees. We can buy cheaper, uniformly-graded eggs that come from large, industrial operations or pay a premium for eggs from small, free-range flocks.
In Prince Edward Island, free-range flocks aren't allowed to get any bigger than 299 birds. But in January, the large egg producers requested that the Marketing Council reduce the size of those flocks to 49.
Well, that stuck in the craw of small farmers. Last month, Raymond Loo - who sells eggs at the Charlottetown Farmers Market - told PEI's agriculture committee that he'd have to do the same amount of work for 49 free-range hens as he would for 299, so his bottom line would take an immediate hit. That position was vigorously supported by Islanders who want a steady supply of free-range eggs.
But when MN called the Egg Commodity Marketing Board yesterday, we learned that in the wake of those objections, the large producers have decided to withdraw their request to limit free-range flocks any further.
We contacted Ranald MacFarlane. He and his wife Melanie are relieved to hear that. They operate Pleasant Pork Farm in Fernwood, PEI.

The All-Canadian Diet ? When Canadians are asked about their favourite local food, as they were in a survey conducted recently on behalf of the Dietitians of Canada,  beef, apples, corn on the cob, potatoes, cheese,  maple syrup and lobster topped their list.  
Guess which part of the country voted for the lobster?  
The survey clearly shows that Canadians enjoy a wide variety of foods - a key factor in eating well. Mary Sue Waisman knows about that. She's a dietitian, chef and author of Flavour First: Delicious Food to Bring the Family Back to the Table. She shared her suggestions for following a healthy diet - one that's tailored to your needs.  
And if you're interested in the salad that Mary Sue mentioned at the end of the show, the recipe can be found on this webpage from the Dietitians of Canada : click here.

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First up : the Maritime Noon Herb Garden sprouts into action / Phone-in : Sara Iverson and Boris Worm answer your questions about the current state and future of the oceans

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Thyme's Up ! The Maritime Noon studio might have a lot of microphones and weather gauges and a laptop and electronics buttons, but it also has lots of natural light. Which had been going to waste, in a way. So you might remember that the last time Marjorie Willison was in for the gardening phone-in, we made a commitment to try one of the things she explained : how to start an indoor herb garden from seed.     
MN's producer, Deborah Woolway, and I took note of everything Marjorie said, got the seed & the soil and the trays & the markers and planted eight herbs : Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme ( aka the Simon & Garfunkel mix ) - along with Basil, Tarragon, Dill & Savoury, which as far as we know have never been incorporated into a hit song. There's a picture of Deborah with the modest flat of seeds near the top of this page.
But the good news is (to use the oldest gardening pun in the book) the thyme is up - already. It burst through the soil overnight - less than a week after being planted.
We'll keep you apprised of the victories and the defeats. And while we realize this might not compare with the drama of the Olympics, at least we have the exclusive broadcasting rights for this. And if you sign up (free) with, and follow CBCMaritimenoon,  you can get all the groundbreaking news on the Maritime Noon Herb Garden.

Untold Depths : The oceans cover 70% of the planet. From the surging tides that sweep in & out of the Bay of Fundy, to the Sargasso Sea, the frigid waters surrounding Antarctica, and the massive Pacific, they're all connected.  
Thursday, March 4th on CBC TV, The Nature of Things begins a provocative 4-part series entitled One Ocean on the ocean and the life it sustains - from the diverse & important microscopic plankton, to the sleek power of the ocean's top predators.
There's still much about the ocean we don't know, and our guests - both marine biologists at Dalhousie university - have devoted their careers trying to unlock its secrets.
Dr Boris Worm's teaching and research focus on the causes and consequences of changes in marine biodiversity, and conservation on a global scale. Dr. Sara Iverson is especially interested in how animals adapt to and exploit their environments in order to survive.
They answered your questions about the current state and future of the ocean.

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HMCS Halifax crew returns from Haiti / NS Premier : "If it's good for Moncton, it's good for Halifax" / Phone-in : Mary Anne White and Richard Wassersug answer questions about The Science of Everyday Life

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

Safely Home : The 225 crew members of HMCS Halifax are happy to be home after a six week humanitarian aid mission to Haiti. The ship and crew were hastily deployed after the earthquake that pulverized the impoverished nation on January 12th.  
What the crew saw and heard and smelled was much more intense than anything we experienced through the media.      
CBC National reporter Stephen Puddicombe - who reported from Haiti following the earthquake and in previous years - joined the crew's friends and family on the jetty for the homecoming. He spoke with Michael Van Herk and his 13-year old daughter Allisa.

Where's That Old Interprovincial Antagonism ? Nova Scotia's Premier gave his listeners something to chew over during a Tuesday breakfast gathering sponsored by the province's Chamber of Commerce. Listen to Darrell Dexter's response when asked whether he felt there's need for greater regional cooperation among Maritime governments.
If you can think of a specific area in which the Maritimes could gain through better collaboration or cooperation, let us know by sending your comment: Click here.

Sprint or long-haul ? Flexible or stiff ?
  It's the difference between the athlete who excels at the 100 meter sprint and the one who competes in the marathon. It's the difference between tires that need to be replaced after 40,000 km and those that roll safely for 100,000.
And what about our own body parts, which seem to have different best-before dates ?
Drs.Mary Anne White and Richard Wassersug talked about the quality of "endurance" in humans and materials. Mary Anne is University Research Professor of Chemistry & Physics at Dalhousie University. Richard is Professor of Biology, Anatomy & Neurobiology at Dal, but joined us from Melbourne, Australia.
They answered your questions about The Science of Everyday Life

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Delivering from farm gate to urban consumers / Restaurateur who wants to "Buy Local" can't get reliable supply / Phone-in: Dan Steeves - sharing advice and stories on how to quit smoking

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

Cutting Out the Middlemen : In varying degrees, many beef, pork and poultry producers in the Maritimes are struggling these days. Everything from cheap imported meat to more centralized processing (see February 26th show) are making it hard to remain profitable.
But one farmer in Nova Scotia has developed a loyal customer base by direct-marketing from the farm gate to the city. John Duynisveld is an agricultural scientist. But he also operates Holdanca Farms ( in Wallace, on Nova Scotia's north shore. Freelance reporter Philip Moscovitch told us how John combines traditional pasturing techniques with the latest research.

"Buy Local" : Easier Said Than Done ?
Elizabeth Crouchman of Hampton, New Brunswick called to tell us that "Buying Locally" is a principle for for her.
If you want to find out where to buy locally produced food in your province, here are the sites :

PEI Fresh From Our Farms :

Conservation Council of New Brunswick :

Select Nova Scotia :

But sometimes, making the commitment to "buy local" is easier said than done.
Costa Elles is a restaurateur in Halifax. He's a partner in the Opa! chain of Greek-themed restaurants (, and lamb is central to the menu.
But he told us that it's not easy to find a reliable supply of affordable local lamb for his kitchen, his customers, or his budget.

Yes, You Can
: If you've ever tried and failed to quit smoking, you're in good company. Even US President Barrack Obama promised his wife that he'd give up the evil weed, but he admits that he sneaks a smoke every now and then. Well, if the most powerful man on the planet deals with stress by lighting up, what's a mere mortal to do?
"Never stop stopping." That's the key message from our guest. Dan Steeves has been working in the addictions field for more than 15 years, providing smoking cessation counseling and support. He's a Community Outreach Worker with Capital Health in Halifax, and has worked on research projects and academic papers about tobacco addiction that he's presented at major conferences in the US, the UK and here at home. He provided advice and listened to your stories about how to stop smoking.
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