April 2010 Archives

Q&A With Contestants in "The Next Big Question" / Phone-in: Chefs Flinn and Willum answer your cooking questions

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

Fuel For Thought: Questions drive scientific research - whether it's pure or applied. Now and then, a question attracts creative minds from many disciplines - a scientific question whose answer could make a noticeable change to the lives of many.
It's what the Canadian Institute For Advanced Research has dubbed "The Next Big Question".
In April, CIFAR launched the first of seven cross-Canada sessions in Halifax. In each, three scientists give a short presentation to persuade the audience that their field of inquiry holds The Next Big Question for researchers.
The first presenter was Dr Allan H. MacDonald, who received his B.Sc. from St. Francis Xavier University and his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Toronto. He was a member of the research staff of the National Research Council of Canada, and since 2000, has taught at the University of Texas at Austin. His question is "Can we create superconductors At Room Temperature ?"
The second presenter was Dr. Steve Scherer, a molecular geneticist. He focuses on understanding how human genes interact to cause disease. Dr. Scherer received international acclaim for his discovery of the regions of the human chromosome that contain genes linked to autism. He was able to identify these regions because he specializes in identifying variations in the structure of the human genome. His question : "What does your genome say about who you are ?"
The final presenter was Dr Marla Sokolowski, a Professor of Biology at the University of Toronto and a Canada Research Chair of Genetics and Behavioural Neurology. Dr. Sokolowski has focused on a "foraging" gene that affects the way fruit flies search for food & identified a single protein that plays a key role in the actions of this gene, which - and here's the application - might be related to the way you & I decide what, when and where to eat. She's using this gene to screen DNA from people with eating disorders in order to gain a deeper understanding of how genetic factors influence human afflictions. Her proposal for The Next Big Question : "Why is destiny not in our genes ?"
After the three scientists made their pitch, audience members asked them questions, in order to help them decide which question would get their vote.
And if you want to read all the contenders for The Next Big Question and vote for your choice, click here.

Get Fresh With Me - Please ! Scratching your head about what to make for supper this evening ? What to prepare when friends drop in for a get-together tomorrow night ?
Well, according to our guests, you can't go wrong if you focus on getting what's fresh. They both take advantage of whatever seasonal, local foods are available - and if you think this isn't a great time of year for edibles which fit that description, think again.
Craig Flinn is the chef and proprietor of Chives Canadian Bistro in Halifax and author of two cookbooks : Fresh & Local and Fresh Canadian Bistro.
Lars Willum is originally from Denmark. He's hosted the Cape Breton cable show Be My Guest and operates his catering company Cape Breton Gourmet in Sydney.
They're full of ideas and helped Maritimers who were wondering about how to incorporate seasonal ingredients like fiddleheads, sorrel and rhubarb in their cooking. They also answered questions about cooking and baking.


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Phone In: Brain Development - The Difference Between Boys and Girls

Posted by DEBORAH M WOOLWAY

From the Neck Up: Our society is hyper-conscious of physical differences between boys and girls. If anything, it seems to reinforce and exaggerate those differences in everything from clothing to cosmetics. But psychologist Dr JoAnn Deak believes the more intriguing differences are in the brains of young men and women and in the different ways those brains develop. It's an important area of knowledge for any parent, teacher, coach or other adult who has an ongoing relationship with children.
Dr Deak says adults are "neurosculptors" of children, because their every interaction will influence the adult those children will become. She's spent more than 30 years as an educator and psychologist, helping children develop into confident and competent adults. Dr Deak is the author of Girls Will Be Girls: Raising Confident and Courageous Daughters, and is currently working on a Trilogy : Brainology 101 for Students, Teachers & Parents. You called with questions about those differences in the brains of young men & women, or the different rates at which they seem to develop, and shared your observations based on your experience with children.


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What Sank The NBPower/Hydro-Québec Deal ? Phone In: How Has Divorce Changed Your Life?

Posted by DEBORAH M WOOLWAY

Why The Deal Went South: last November, New Brunswickers woke up to the startling news that their government intended to sell N-B Power to Hydro Quebec. At the time, very few people knew how much power rates would need to rise to cover the utility's 4.5 billion dollar - and growing - debt, a growth largely due to delays in refurbishing the Point Lepreau nuclear power station.
This week, Premier Shawn Graham sought federal help to pay for the cost overruns at Lepreau, which are estimated at between 450 million and 1 billion dollars. Atomic Energy of Canada Limited is in charge of the upgrade at Lepreau, and Premier Graham says it's not fair that New Brunswickers should have to pay for AECL to learn "on the job" for the benefit of future refurbishments elsewhere in the world.
Power rates for New Brunswickers are already expected to rise 3% a year to cover the Lepreau delays not covered by AECL. Bill Marshall is a former NB Power executive and energy consultant who supported New Brunswick's revised deal to sell NB Power to Quebec . He thought it was the only way to avoid "rate shock" down the road. Marshall shared his opinions about why the deal evaporated this week at an energy conference in Halifax. He also offered his perspective on the importance of more regional coooperation when it comes to developing energy policy.

More Than An Institution: marriage is an entire belief system. So when a marriage fractures, the partners can be shocked into questioning everything they'd ever taken for granted : their judgment in choosing each other, their sincerity in vowing to stay together until parted by death - even their sense of self-worth and abilities as lovers or parents.
When Sarah Hampson and her husband divorced after 18 years of marriage, they not only had their individual lives to sort out. Most importantly, there were the lives of their three children to consider. But they also learned what all exes discover - that every relationship - whether with family, friends or work associates - had shifted under their feet. In her book, "Happily Ever After Marriage", Sarah Hampson doesn't just examine the arc of her own marriage; she shares the insights of the men, women and children who've gone through divorce, revealing a much richer diversity of experience than the stereotypes would have us believe. And since so many married couple break up, there's no shortage of people with their own story to tell. We asked you: how has divorce changed your life ?


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Avoiding The Energy Crunch/Listener Mailbag/ Phone In: Allergies

Posted by DEBORAH M WOOLWAY

This Time We're Serious: more & more of our electricity generated by wind and tides for all eternity. Lower power rates.
Are these realistic goals for Atlantic Canada - or just a pipedream?
That question is being discussed with some urgency at a Renewable Energy conference in Halifax. It's attracted hundreds of participants from this region and the New England States. There seems to be consensus that we can't afford to wait for genuine cooperation to appear magically - that the time for people to get their act together is now. Power rates are going up in a grid that gets a lot of its electricity from fossil fuels and aging plants. And this is before we get into the additional, impending costs of a carbon tax. On the other hand, there are some promising renewable projects - large-scale wind farms in all three provinces, as well as Newfoundland hydro and Fundy tidal power - that just can't get off the drawing board unless the provinces and states find a way to move that renewable energy around. The CBC's Jennifer Henderson brought us a report from the conference.

Over To You: David Bigelow of Lower Sackville commented on a proposal from Duncan MacAdams: Mr MacAdams is a mechanical engineer who suggests that one way to to finance the expensive conversion of heating systems from oil or electricity to more sustainable sources is by setting up a fund that would provide a guarantee for a long-term, low-interest loan which you'd pay off on your monthly energy bill.
Other listeners had rivers on their mind. Tom Hickie extolled the beauty of the Little Salmon River in New Brunswick, and cautioned about forestry practices that damage watershed. Charles MacDonald shared some happy memories the Mira River holds for him and his family, and Janice Harvey says not to forget the Petticodiac, which has just been reunited with the Bay of Fundy in a controversial and long anticipated restoration project.
From rivers, we moved on to newspapers. We explored the uncertain future of conventional newspapers in last Friday's Phone In. Tony Diamond of Stanley, New Brunswick says he was struck by the number of callers who preferred to get their news electronically suggesting that the internet is an environmentally benign alternative. Not so, says Mr Diamond, noting that the manufacture of digital equipment involves mining rare minerals, which are not renewable, often with devastating environmental impacts, and the contribution to greenhouse gas emissions by internet servers and their cooling systems is increasing.

The Wheezes and Sneezes: if you suffer from allergies, that annual miracle of nature we call Spring can be a particularly trying time. While everyone else is oohing and awing about all the early appearance of those swelling buds and flowering trees, you can be reduced to a sniffing, sneezing red-eyed wretch. Allergies are no fun for anyone, at any age. Specialist Dr. Greg Rex answered your questions about allergies.


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From Goats Gone Wild to Saving Your Pennies/ The Phone in: Art Irwin

Posted by DEBORAH M WOOLWAY

Maritime Noon Has Overtime Periods: just like the NHL or the NBA: except that, unlike pro sports, we go into overtime every day. Once we leave the studio we head back to our desks to check out your emails and answering machine comments on interviews or our phone-in topics. Take personal finance. Recently, Micheline Godin wrote to say that it's never too early to start learning how to handle money, and she described the "four wallet" system she uses to teach her six year old daughter. Then Iain MacLeod shared a tip about credit cards courtesy of a very helpful bank teller. He says every month and free of charge, his bank will go into his account and remove the necessary funds to bring his credit card to a zero balance. No fuss, no muss. And, his bank offers another free service. When you get a replacement credit card, they notify all your pre-authorized payees (eg: the phone company, cable company, etc) which is very helpful service but only available if you ask for it.
                 Then there was Runner. Matthew Eisses heard how we'd tracked down the owner of the big, 400-lb exotic brown & white boer goat which one of you had seen hanging out with deer. It turns out Runner had bolted on the day he was delivered to a farm in Nine Mile River - 4 1/2 years ago. Matthew's a farmer, and he cautioned that the goat's owner was still liable for any damage the animal might cause.

Oil Tank Turmoil: If the mild weather has had you poking around the yard, the early start of perennials and shrubs probably caught your eye. But that mean you might have a smaller window of opportunity to see the places where winter weather might have compromised the exterior of your house - because once those bushes fill in and flower beds are in bloom, you won't be able to get that close again until about November. It's also a good time to make some decisions about your oil tank, especially if it's outdoors. The latest Canadian Standards Association code on residential oil tank installations could apply to you. Art Irwin operates Irwin Energy Consulting Services in Halifax, and he offered advice on your heating system, insulation or energy conservation.


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Youth Outreach Program Loses Its Funding/Phone-In: What Aren't You Getting From Mainstream Newspapers?

Posted by DEBORAH M WOOLWAY

To Good To Last: It's a program that offers hope and practical training to troubled young people who've fallen through the cracks of society. The Youth Outreach Program run by the John Howard Society in Fredericton also had an enviable success rate, encouraging kids to return to school, and making it possible for them to find work. It's federal funding has just dried up. We spoke with Valerie MacCullam, the Executive Director of the John Howard Society in Fredericton.

Read All About It: Of all the means of distributing journalism and other information, newspapers carry the richest history. Like resilient nations that survived for centuries, they've yielded larger-than-life characters, and been shaped by battles that changed the borders of their influence. Some seemed to vanquish their foes, so it's no surprise that the word "empire" was attached to large newspaper chains.But like many empires in history, the newspaper seems to be crumbling. It's under siege on many fronts : the loss of advertising revenue, the migration of readers to the web, even the cost of newsprint and delivery. And what of the content ? The reporting & opinion, sports & business - even the cartoons & horoscopes ? How much do people care about getting that mix of information from several sheets of newsprint they can open at the kitchen table or on the bus ? That's been the source of much reporting & opinion over the past few years, and at this point, it's not clear what's next for newspapers. But there is a sense that we're in the midst of some fundamental change in our relationship with all that ink and paper.
                        In the 1960s and 70s, several alternative publications emerged in the Maritimes, because their editors and reporters felt the mainstream papers weren't tackling stories that might make established interests uncomfortable. Nick Fillmore published The 4th Estate in Nova Scotia during that time. He was a reporter, editor, producer and investigative journalist with the CBC for more than 18 years and a founding member of the Canadian Association of Journalists and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression. Mr Fillmore writes on media issues and develops media projects in Africa.
Silver Donald Cameron was the publisher and founding editor of The Mysterious East, an alternative monthly based in Fredericton from 1969 until late 1972. He's an author of non-fiction and fiction, a columnist with the Sunday Herald, and the interviewer on a web-based show called thegreeninterview.com, featuring conversations with thinkers, activists or innovators. Our question: What are you not getting from mainstream media?


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Fiddling Around With Energy Efficiency/Phone-in: Your Favourite Maritime River

Posted by DEBORAH M WOOLWAY

One Man's Plan: There are many motives for reducing your domestic fuel bill. For starters, you could save a pile of money. But Duncan MacAdams feels that government programmes and incentives from utilities haven't gone far enough in moving society towards greater energy efficiency. Mr MacAdams manages several properties in Halifax. He's a mechanical engineer, and he believes that whether you own a bungalow or an apartment building, there's a financial obstacle that keeps us from breaking with what he calls "obsolete" energy sources and replacing them with more secure ones. He presented his ideas for getting past that obstacle to a Utilities and Review Board hearing into energy conservation this week. To read his proposal, click here.

Going Down the River: Rivers have always held a special place in the lives of Maritimers, from the days when they were key transportation routes and commercial arteries that linked isolated communities, to the present, where they offer a variety of recreational opportunities. And, of couse, there's always the stunning views they provide as they meander through the landscape. From the Kennebecasis to the Miramichi, the Margaree to the LaHave and to the Brudenell, Cardigan and Montague, you shared your stories about the Maritime river that hold a special place in your heart. Our guests were journalist, poet and playwright Harry Thurston and David Folster, the founding president of the St John River Society. Congratulations to Mr Folster, whose lifelong commitment to the St John River, and to it's people, history and environment, will be honored April 24th at a dinner in Fredericton.


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The Basics of Personal Finance for Young People/Phone In: Managing Your Money

Posted by DEBORAH M WOOLWAY

Mounting Debt, Bigger Burdens: How many sleepless nights and family tensions have been sparked by money problems ? It's usually the old story of not enough revenue coming in to cover the monthly bills. But how many of us would have avoided falling into those holes if only we'd learned the basics of personal finance - especially before we left the comfortable place where mum & dad covered real-world expenses ? Charles Ackerman realised that most teens have no idea of concepts like debt and credit, or the importance of saving or living within their means. So he decided to do something about it. Charles has just finished his second year in business at St Mary's University. He got involved with an organization called Students in Free Enterprise, and together, they developed a nuts and bolts workshop called "Dollar And A Dream" which they first delivered to at-risk youth and then, for students in the public high school system.

We also checked in with a teacher and a student who took part in the Dollar and a Dream workshop: Brad Boudreau teaches entrepreneurship at CPAllen High School in Bedford, and Greg Dobson is a grade 12 student.

 
On the phone in, our guest was John Eisner, the President of Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada Ltd. He answered all your questions about managing your money.


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Mystery Creature Identified / All Aboard: Rural Transportation in the Maritimes/ Phone In: Filing Your 2009 Income Tax Return

Posted by DEBORAH M WOOLWAY

Wild and Wooly Creatures: Lorraine Simmons of Halifax called us recently to describe a chance sighting of what looked like a large, curly horned goat hanging out with a bunch of deer. Turns out, the goat belongs to Shelley Skedden of Upper Nine Mile River, Nova Scotia. Or it did. It's a 400 pound Boer goat buck that Shelley and her husband brought in to service the lady goats on their farm, and it's been on the lam for four and a half years.

Getting From Point A to Point B: In most parts of the Maritimes passenger train service is a distant memory, the bus "milk runs" that used to connect small communities are morphing into "express runs" between cities, and bus lines have applied to drop some routes altogether. Yesterday on the phone in we asked you what would improve transportation among Maritime communities. Several of you emailed to ask why the heck we don't press school buses into service. One caller also suggested we could also take a cue from Cuba. There, government cars are clearly identified and are required to pick you up if they're going your way.
Philip Milo told us about the success of Kings Transit in serving Annapolis Country and Western Kings County. And a shuttle bus operator in the Yarmouth area said she hoped government dollars aren't spent subsidizing public transit, because it would put small businesses like hers at a disadvantage. Krista Shackleton of Gagetown wrote to say that we should stop the bleeding away of small communities, and support local services, retailers and producers, and if necessary, help them to get us what we need. Her comments were echoed by Andrew Graham in Saint John.

This Is It: Well, if you've put off the job of filing your 2009 income tax return until now, it's time to get focused. Pat Olmstead of the Canada Revenue Agency answered all your questions.


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Advice for Maritimers with travel plans involving Europe : get philosophical / Contenders for the Next Big Question for Canadian scientists / Phone-in: What would improve transportation between Maritime communities ?

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

Flying The Ash-filled Skies - Or Not: Keep your reservations and hope for the best. That's the advice Maritimers with international travel plans are getting. They're nervously watching what's happening in the skies over Europe, where ash from a still-erupting volcano has spewed dense clouds of particulate into the atmosphere. That's grounded flights to, and throughout, much of that continent and beyond. Bob Sime is a consultant in the tourism and transportation industry and he joined us to share his assessment of the situation.

 

So What's the Next Big Question? We asked two Canadian scientists with international reputations who want to convince you that they are working on it. The Next Big Question is also the name of an event unfolding in several Canadian cities, and making a stop in Halifax, Tuesday, April 20th at Pier 21. The event is sponsored by the Canadian Institute For Advanced Research, and YOU get to vote in person or online for which of the 12 Next Big Questions really rocks your world, and should rocket to the top of the list of priorities for scientists.
Two of the three scientists who'll be pitching their ideas Tuesday evening are Dr. Marla Sokolowski - biologist extraordinaire at the University of Toronto and a Canada Research Chair of Genetics and Behavioural Neurology (in her spare time), and Dr. Steve Scherer, a molecular geneticist and member of CIFAR's Genetic Networks program.


Buses ? Trains ? Cars ? Hitchhiking ? The sound of a train pulling into the station is only a memory in most Maritime communities. The railbeds have either been reserved for freight or converted to hiking trails. So, what about bus lines as a means of getting from A to B ? They were touted as the alternative to rail travel. But so-called "milk runs" that stopped in several rural communities have been converted to "express runs" between cities. And the bus lines have applied to drop some runs entirely.
So, if you don't have a car and you need to get to an appointment in the city, or if you operate a business and need something from an urban industrial park, what do you do ? Is transportation something that requires direct government assistance or should it be left to the marketplace ?
Our guests were Kyle Buotte of the Centre for Policy Alternatives, which has been lobbying for a provincial Crown corporation to oversee rural transportation in Nova Scotia, and Trevor Hansen, PhD candidate in civil engineering at the University of New Brunswick whose research includes transportation issues for rural seniors. Our question: What would improve transportation between Maritime communities ?


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Certifying a fishery as sustainable can still leave you with questions at the seafood counter / Phone-in : Should people who post online comments have to identify themselves ?

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

Is There A Catch to the Catch ?: Wal-Mart Canada has laid claim to a role of a big-box promoter of sustainability. The chain plans to sell only eco-friendly seafood within three years. Wal-Mart, and other major grocery chains, are relying on the Marine Stewardship Council to certify fisheries as sustainable. Many East Coast fisheries are interested in securing that MSC label. But it's not a straightforward process and it can yield some ambiguous results. The CBC's Lisa Roberts brought us up-to-date.

journoprof & gnarlygreek: It's one of our Fundamental Freedoms in the Charter : "freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication".
But if we use an alias while expressing our" thoughts, beliefs and opinions in the press & other media of communication", are there limitations on that freedom ?
That question is unfolding in the courts, in news rooms, and in online comments sections across Canada.
This week,a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge approved a request from Halifax's top firefighting officials that the weekly newspaper The Coast and the web giant Google reveal the identities and IP addresses of seven people who allegedly defamed them.
One of the headscratchers is that - aside from their online comments sections - the same news media exercise an enormous amount of control over everything else published or broadcast under their banner. No letter to the editor has a hope of being printed if the writer doesn't supply a name & address for publication and a phone number for verification. Ditto for calls to our answering machine which we play back.
But the online community seems to have adopted the convention of anonymous posting. Some say it gives people an opportunity to get past the traditional editorial control mechanisms of the news media. However, what about the laws that protect people from libel, slander, defamation and hate ?
Our guest was Dean Jobb, Assistant Professor at the University of King's College School of Journalism in Halifax, and author of the book "Media Law for Canadian Journalists." Our question : Should people who post online comments have to identify themselves ?


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Humility and generosity from winners of the 2010 Atlantic Book Awards / Animal stories from the backyard wilderness / Phone-in : Bob Bancroft on Wildlife of the Maritimes

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

A Deep Pool of Talent, A Shared Love of the Written Word : The writers, illustrators, publishers and booksellers who've created the region's best books over the past year converged in Dartmouth on April 14th for the 2010 Atlantic Book Awards. There were 28 books in the running for a variety of prizes. Some were multiple winners.
"SS Atlantic : The White Star Line's First Disaster At Sea" won both the Democracy 250 Atlantic Book Award for Historical Writing and the Dartmouth Book Award for Non-fiction. Before the Titanic, the sinking of the Atlantic was the worst marine, single vessel disaster to occur off the Canadian Coast. Of the 952 people on board only 390 were saved.
The spot where the passenger ship sank, off the south coast of Nova Scotia, has been of special interest to divers, and as we've heard earlier in earlier programmes, they've become deeply affected by the tragic story surrounding it.
The awards for the book were a bittersweet honour, as we heard from Bob Chaulk and from Anne Cochkanoff, the wife of his late co-author, Greg.
Another mutiple winner was Linden MacIntrye, well-known for his journalism on CBC's the fifth estate, and the author of "The Bishop's Man". He was gracious in his remarks, generously directing the audience's attention to other people as he accepted both the Atlantic Independent Booksellers' Choice Award and the Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction.
The final award of the evening was the prestigious Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award. Shandi Mitchell, who's better-known for her work in film had just returned from India, because her novel "Under This Unbroken Sky" had won a Commonwealth Prize for First Book in the Canada-Caribbean region. Earlier in the evening, she'd won the Margaret and John Savage First Book Award. But she was called to the stage again for the Raddall.

Confused Cats and Hot Sauce on Poles : It's always great fun to have our birding panel of Ian McLaren, Jim Wilson and Dwaine Oakley on the show, as they were Wednesday, sharing their sightings and observations and hearing about yours. Producer Deborah Woolway joined me to go thorugh some emails related to ways to keep squirrels and raccoons from birdfeeders.

From Feathers to Fins and Fur : Trout ? Turtles ? Coyotes ? There's plenty of Maritime wildlife reacting to the early spring. That can make for some unusual interactions - among themselves and with humans. Biologist Bob Bancroft joined us to share his knowledge of the creatures of forest and stream, and to field your questions about Wildlife of the Maritimes.


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NS court case zeroes in on people who posted certain comments on The Coast's site / Petiticodiac River and Bay of Fundy to mingle for first time since 1968 / Your comments on widowhood / Phone-in : Wild birds

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

Lifting The Veil Of Anonymity : If you've ever read a news story on a website, you may have scrolled down to the "Comments" section. That's where your fellow readers post their two cents' worth on the topic. Occasionally, you'll read something which adds another dimension to the story. But you can also be sure to find some very sharp opinions from people who don't post their names - just a pseudonym.
That anonymity seems to allow some to write things which would never make it into the Letters to the Editor column of a newspaper,or,for that matter, the answering machine at Maritime Noon, both of which require full identification.
But a court case playing out in Halifax suggests that the free-fire zone of online comments might have reached its limits. It centres on allegedly defamatory statements directed at two senior fire department officials and published in The Coast's online edition .
The CBC's Jack Julian gave us details of the decision from the Nova Scotia Supreme Court.

Together Again : For the first time in 42 years, the headwaters of the Petitcodiac River in New Brunswick have been re-united with the mighty Bay of Fundy. That connection was blocked in 1968 by the construction of a causeway between Riverview and Moncton, a move that generated decades of debate. We spoke with the CBC's Kate Letterick just before the gates opened.

Losing A Spouse : Producer Deborah Woolway joined me to read emails we received after Tuesday's phone-in with Dr Deborah Van den Hoonaard on the experience of widowhood.

Seasonal Adjustments : As winters go, we've certainly seen a lot worse in the Maritimes. And there's also a sense that spring seems to have sprung earlier than usual.
What does this mean for wild birds, who take their migration and nesting cues from nature ? We were joined by three birders whose eyes and ears have been finely tuned to activity in the three Maritime Provinces. Dr Ian McLaren is a biologist & professor emeritus at Dalhousie University; Dwaine Oakley is past president of the Natural History Society of PEI and teaches bird identification at Holland College; Jim Wilson is on the board of Nature New Brunswick. They answered your questions about wild birds of the Maritimes.



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Evidence that Maritime Noon has the brainiest listeners / Phone-in: Experiences of being a widower

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

This Is Your Brain On Maritime Noon: From time to time, I mention that we can be followed on Twitter. It's a free internet site ( Twitter.com ) that allows you to interact - through very brief messages, or "Tweets" - with individuals, media outlets, businesses, sports teams, researchers - you name it. Those of you who've signed up to follow CBCMaritimenoon receive notification of stories we're working on, requests for help finding potential guests, and a note every afternoon to tell you when the podcast is available.
This week, one of the folks who follows us sent a Tweet that we had been mentioned on journalist Parker Donham's always interesting site, Contrarian.ca. We braced for the worst. Was he taking us to task for something we did on the show ?
Well, luckily, no - although we always appreciate and respect his astute criticism of the news media. No - as it turns out, Mr Donham - who's always argued for openness and transparency - proved that he's not one of those "do-as-I-say,not-as-I-do" pundits. Yesterday, he submitted his brain to an MRI scan and published the fascinating image on his website.
This wasn't a vanity project. Mr Donham was acting as a control subject in a study on memory loss among people with Alzheimer's disease. That is to say - his brain is captured as an example of someone's without Alzheimer's.
We were curious about the study itself, which we hope to follow on a future programme. But we admit we were intrigued to find out the specific conditions at the time the MRI was done : Mr Donham was listening to Maritime Noon during the MRI.
So there, to the left, is Parker Donham's Brain - or at least what it looks like when being stimulated by Maritime Noon. There have already been some interesting comments around the office about what the cross section resembles. We'd love to hear your impressions.

 

"When an older man's wife dies... he enters a foreign country, one which offers few images of what it means to be a widower...". That's the opening line in a new book called "By Himself: The Older Man's Experience of Widowhood" , by St Thomas University sociologist Dr Deborah Van den Hoonaard.

Our collective impression of widowhood has been formed by popular culture: it typically portrays young widowers whose wives have died (usually suddenly and violently) as being devoted to their children...and as romantic leads (think Tom Hanks in "Sleepless in Seattle").
By contrast, older men who suddenly find themselves widowed are often portrayed as lost and unable to cope. It's presumed they are desperate to remarry because they can't take care of themselves, and may find themselves vulnerable to that other stereotype - "the Casserole Queens" (women who descend on bereaved older men).
Dr Van den Hoonaard set out to explore what happens to older men who become widowers. Along the way, she discovered much complexity and diversity. She shared her research and then widowers, widows and their children shared their experiences.


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Feds' termination of Energy Retrofit programme already causing job losses in PEI / New online tool helps non-profits decide whether to apply for charitable status / Phone-in : Pitch the Publishers

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

Fallout From Fed Cut To Energy Conservation Programme: When the federal government abruptly canceled the eco-Energy Retrofit programme on the afternoon of March 31st, it caught the Maritime Provinces off-guard. As partners, they've had to scramble to find a new way to deliver the popular programme, which gave citizens rebates for work done to make their homes more energy efficient.

Now, Prince Edward Island has decided to drop the requirement that homeowners get an independent energy audit before proceeding with things like insulation upgrades or window replacements. Homeowners will have to fill out an application before work begins. A government website lists upgrades that might be accepted.

The audit had been done by independent 3rd parties, such as Sustainable Housing Education Consultants.

We spoke with Terry Watters, President of the Wolfville-based firm, which operates in all four Atlantic Provinces. Since the change in PEI's policy, he's had to lay off three workers and make a last-minute cancellation of his firm's appearance at the PEI Home Show.

To Be Or Not To Be A Charity: Whether you're a donor, a volunteer, or someone who benefits from their services, it would be hard to find a single Maritimer who isn't connected with either a non-profit group or charity. But whether the cause centres on the environment or a disease or a sport, what's the difference between a non-profit and a charity ?

Well, one answer lies in those receipts you've been organizing lately for your income tax returns : only a registered charity can issue them. For non-profits, the question about whether to apply for charitable status can consume a lot of valuable time and effort.
But a new online tool developed by the Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia and funded by the Canada Revenue Agency is designed to make that decision a lot easier. It's called the To Be or Not to Be a Charity Decision Tree, and it's available to anyone in Canada.
We spoke with Robert Miedema, a lawyer with the firm of Boyne Clark in Dartmouth, who worked with the Society on the project.

The Next Bestseller : The last thing a publisher wants to see in the morning mail is a big brown evelope filled with 300 pages of unsolicited writing. Even a slim CD wouldn't lessen the unpleasant task ahead. The contents of that manuscript or digital file might represent years of work and a mountain of hope and expectation on the part of the writer. But aside from some legendary exceptions, it's unlikely those tens of thousands of words will ever end up in the window of the local bookseller...or on the screen of an e-Reader.

What the publisher needs first from a would-be author is something much more modest : a pitch - a concise outline of what the author wants to create - whether it's a work of history, fiction, a memoir, a cookbook or anything else which seeks the attention of readers. Many other steps follow, but the pitch is first.

If you've been mulling over an idea for a book and wondering what would be involved in getting it into print some day, now's the time to get some free, professional advice about the steps you need to take.

Three Maritime publishers joined us to hear your pitches : Laurie Brinklow of Acorn Press, Susanne Alexander of Goose Lane Editions and Patrick Murphy of Nimbus .


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What's the key historical lesson for Canadians from World War 1 ?

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

In the second decade of the 20th century, a complicated web of diplomatic alliances among European nations failed to achieve a balance of power. Then, some 70 million troops massed on battlefields with modern weapons to establish dominance in the most primitive way : by killing their adversaries.
In the case of the British Empire, the former colony of Canada and the actual colony of Newfoundland - came to its assistance. When World War One was over, 15 million people had died, many more were wounded in body or mind, and two empires - the Austro-Hungarian and the Ottoman - had been destroyed. Germany was contained - for a while.
The scale of human carnage had been so horrific, WW1 was named "the war to end all wars". But as we're constantly reminded, it wasn't.
Jeremy Diamond is with the Historica-Dominion Institute, which tries to preserve the memories of Canadian veterans from all wars. He joined us by phone from the National Cenotaph in Ottawa. Joe Bishara is a teacher in Yarmouth, and founder of the Maple Grove and Yarmouth High Schools Memorial Club. He has been teaching students for 25 years about the contribution veterans have made and has won a commendation from the Minister of Veterans' Affairs.
Considering the long-lasting effects of the conflict - some which can still be detected in international conflicts today - we asked: What's the key historical lesson for Canadians from World War 1 ?


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MD who examined emergency medicine system says some problems can be fixed without additional money / Phone-in: Jim White answers questions on using paint or stain - indoors or out

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

Not An Open & Shut Case: If you want to create a political firestorm anywhere in the Maritimes, try shutting down a local Emergency Room. Even staffing a rural ER on weekends or coping with long wait times in an urban hospital are common problems around the region.
Dr John Ross says part of the fix lies in uniform standards and smarter staffing - and not necessarily more money. He's Nova Scotia's Advisor on Emergency Care, and he's been traveling to hospitals and ERs throughout the province, both to gain a better understanding of the difficulties and to help develop solutions.  
Dr Ross has released his interim report and shared his findings.
To read the report, click here.

Not So Fast : A few days of unseasonably warm weather can lead you to do some silly things -  like starting to paint the exterior of a house. Jim White is with Lake City Paint and Paper and XXL Painting & Decorating in Dartmouth. He described the sad consequences of starting those outdoor paint jobs before you get the right conditions. He also answered questions about using paint or stain on any surface - indoors or out.
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Unsafe wharf could jeopardize whale-watching season in NS community / Reactions to ideas for reducing drug plan costs / Phone-in: George Iny of the APA on best buys in new and used cars

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

Whales, Watching & Wharves : It's hard to think of a tourism ad for a Maritime Province that doesn't include a nod to whale-watching. What you won't see in an ad is rotting planks and a sign that says "Not Safe For Use". But that's what greets tourists at the Irishtown wharf on Brier Island in the Bay of Fundy. And what's worse for local tour operators is that a repair job announced by the federal government with much fanfare last September has been canceled because Ottawa says the bids came in too high.
Now local residents are hoping to access emergency funding and cobble together a temporary fix. We spoke with Penny Graham, the owner-operator of Mariner Cruises, a whale-watching tour company in Westport on Brier Island

Paying For Pills : If you pay into a drug plan, are you and your fellow contributors, spending more than you need to ?
Well, probably. At least that's what the Competition Bureau of Canada concluded two years ago. The bureau estimated that buying generic drugs at competitive prices could save people who pay premiums - employers & employees - upwards of $600m a year.
On Tuesday's show, we spoke with Hugh Paton,  Executive Director of Health Plan Payers Canada, a new, non-profit group based in Atlantic Canada that's trying to rally the regional and national organizations that pay for these drugs to move towards a more affordable, sustainable system. He explained how most of the links in the drug supply chain - from manufacturers through to pharmacists and doctors - can make decisions that lead to higher-than-necessary costs. Producer Deborah Woolway dropped in to the studio to read your emails.

Do I Have A Deal For You: The shakedown in the automobile industry continues to ripple around the globe. But  most buyers don't care which struggling brand has been bought by a bigger, more stable manufacturer - they just want to know which vehicle on the local car lot provides the best value.
Our guest was George Iny, President of the Automobile Protection Association. His organization provides annual buyers' guides for new and used vehicles (and be sure to check out that link to the APA; aside from the 2010 Lemon-Aid Guide to New Cars, it includes a video of George revealing the type of disguise he and his researchers might use when they're checking out dealerships and garages).


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New regional group wants to save drug plan members from rising costs / Phone-in: Bill Consolvo and Dave Schulein with advice on maintaining your bicycle

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

Rattling the Drug Supply Chains : If you're going to spend a dollar on some part of your health care, how do you make sure you spend it where it'll do the most good ? That's an especially pointed question when it comes to the steady growth in the cost of pharmaceuticals.
Whether it's your province or a privately-managed drug plan, your employer or you - the burgeoning cost of drugs could eventually consume dollars needed for other health programmes or treatments.
That's why a new, non-profit group based in Atlantic Canada is trying to rally regional and national organizations that bear the cost of these drugs to move towards a more affordable, sustainable system.
We spoke with Hugh Paton, the Executive Director of Health Plan Payers Canada. He's based in Charlottetown.
Comments ? Click here.


Bombs Away, Gardeners: Lobbing "seed bombs" into vacant lots is an idea that carries a certain appeal for the renegade gardener lurking in many of you. The marble-sized bombs -  wildflower seeds embedded in moistened clay powder and compost - are being made at workshops sponsored by the Conservation Council of New Brunswick. Erica in Mabou, Nova Scotia, told us why it appeals to her.

Two-Wheel Tune-Up : The recent run of sunny, warm weather across the Maritimes has encouraged many of you to haul the bikes out of the shed or garage for a spin. Or perhaps you're one of those hardy souls who've been pedalling steadily through the winter. Either way,  it's a good time to make sure your bike is running safely & smoothly.
Bill Consolvo runs Darling's Island Bike Shop near Saint John, and a new store in Moncton called Consolvo Bikes. Dave Schulein runs Ideal Bikes in Halifax. They answered your questions about bicycle choice, adjustment and maintenance. 
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Sudden end of federal eco-Energy Retrofit program has heating contractor shaking his head / Why NB environmentalists want to make the scruffiest pieces of urban land "ground zero" for wildflowers / Phone-in: genealogist Terry Punch

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

Lights Out : Canadians in all economic groups used it for years to make their homes more energy efficient.Through the the eco-Energy Retrofit program, you could get up to $5000 from the government to help you seal & insulate your house or buy a more efficient heating system. The upgrades have saved people hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year, and helped reduce energy consumption.
But on March 31st, as the clock ran out on the fiscal year, Ottawa announced it was suspending the program as a matter of "prudent fiscal management". Anyone who's already booked an evaluation is still eligible, but new applications will no longer be accepted.
Every province had partnered with Ottawa in the eco-Energy Retrofit program.  On Thursday, we spoke with Richard Brown, the Minister of Environment, Energy & Forestry in Prince Edward Island and Elizabeth Weir, President and CEO of Efficiency NB. The interviews prompted a heating contractor to call and tell us why he thinks the federal decision is wrong on many levels.


Seeds Away : The next time you're walking by a hard-scrabble vacant lot littered with Tim Horton's cups and cigarette butts among the spring weeds, imagine that same space filled with daisies and black-eyed Susans. According to some environmentalists, there could be an explosion of native wildflowers in places like that this summer.
The Conservation Council of New Brunswick is making and handing out what they call "seed bombs" and encouraging people to start lobbing. The CBC's Angela Chang checked it out.


Just Suppose We Juxtapose : If you watch crime dramas, you've seen it a million times. After the police investigators have exhausted all their leads and their frustration is at the boiling point, someone links the victim with a suspect. They might have attended the same school 30 years ago, or dated the same person - but the revelation comes because someone has juxtaposed the two people : placed them side by side and found a significant connection in the past which could explain the more recent fatal connection.
Juxtaposition is a technique you can use to save yourself enormous amounts of time in researching your family tree - especially if you share a surname with millions of people - say Brown or LeBlanc or Lee.
Terry Punch is the author of three volumes of  "Erin's Sons : Irish Arrivals in Atlantic Canada". He gave examples of genealogical juxtaposition, and answered questions about how to research your family tree.
Speaking of research, the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, The Archives and Research Department of the New Brunswick Museum and Saint John Regional Library are providing  NAVIGATING THE INTERNET sessions at the New Brunswick Museum, Market Square in Saint John on April 24, 2010 from 10:30am - 3:00pm. For more information contact info@nbgssj.ca






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PEI and NB react to Ottawa axing program that helps homeowners cut energy costs / Former residents of PEI orphanage disappointed in Supreme Court of Canada decision on liability for alleged abuses / Phone-in: Marjorie Willison with advice on gardening

Posted by Costas HALAVREZOS

Out In The Cold...Again : For years, the eco-Energy Retrofit program has been incredibly popular - and for obvious reasons. You could get up to $5000 from government to increase the energy efficiency of your home, which would in turn, save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year - forever after.
But on March 31st, in the dying hours of the fiscal year, the federal government announced it will suspend the program.
And while anyone who's already booked an evaluation is still eligible, the federal Natural Resources Department will no longer accept new applications.
This is the second time the federal government has dropped the program. When it eliminated it in 2006, the backlash from citizens who planned to access funds for retrofits forced it to reinstate it.
Every province had partnered with Ottawa in the eco-Energy Retrofit program. We contacted Richard Brown, the Minister of Environment, Energy & Forestry in Prince Edward Island and Elizabeth Weir, the President and CEO of Efficiency NB.

Not Responsible: The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that the government of Prince Edward Island is not responsible for what allegedly happened at the Mount Herbert Orphanage.
In 2002, 57 former residents of the orphanage launched the lawsuit, claiming they had been physically and sexually abused there.
The CBC's Pat Martel gave us the background on the story and details of the decision.
To read the decision, click here.

Come On, Tarragon
: We're happy to report that the herb seeds we planted in February are flourishing, and have now been transplanted into pots with the help of our technician, Gerry Thibault. However...sad to say, there is one exception : the tarragon.
Marjorie Willison inspected the plants and explained what the problem might be. She's the author of The East Coast Gardener, and she also answered questions about your gardening plans.
 




 
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