CAROL OFF: Hello, I'm Carol Off.
JEFF DOUGLAS: Good evening, I'm Jeff Douglas. This is As It Happens.
CO: Justice is done. After 28 years, Canada's longest-serving chief justice has announced her retirement – and tonight, we'll look back at the many stands Beverly McLachlin took while sitting on the bench.
JD: The bashing amid the bash. Russia Day is meant to be a day of celebration – but today, there were clashes with police, and hundreds were detained, as thousands across the country marched against corruption.
CO: They can't believe our ice. An annual Arctic research trip to study the effects of climate change is abruptly cancelled – because climate change itself has set loose dangerous ice.
JD: Two out of three are bad. When the U.S. opted out of the Paris climate accord, it became part of a mere trio of countries that have not signed on. Nicaragua, however wants you to exclude it from that exclusive group.
CO: As a matter of faction. Former FBI Director James Comey leveled some serious accusations against the U.S. President last week – so why do Trump supporters believe Mr. Comey exonerated him of all wrongdoing?
JD: And...no uncertain dermis. You may have heard that the Queen's speech opening British Parliament was delayed because it had to be written on goatskin – but an expert clears up that myth, saying it's a matter of all work and no flaying.
As It Happens, the Monday edition. Radio that tells you who we're gonna call: goats busters.
[Music]Back To Top »
Part 1: Beverley McLachlin steps down, climate change study, goat skin paper
Beverley McLachlin steps down
Guest: Emmett MacFarlane
JEFF DOUGLAS: Supreme Court of Canada Justice Beverley McLachlin is stepping down from the bench.
Chief Justice McLachlin's legacy is full of benchmarks. She was the first woman to fill the role. And she held the position for longer than any other Chief Justice has. She also transformed the court into a modern institution.
Justice McLachlin built consensus in a court known for infighting. She called the treatment of First Nations people in Canada, quote, "cultural genocide." And she raised the ire of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who once referred to Justice McLachlin indirectly as simply, quote, "a sitting judge."
Emmett MacFarlane would characterize the Chief Justice a lot differently. He's a political science professor at the University of Waterloo. We reached him in Waterloo.
CAROL OFF: Professor MacFarlane, after 17 years, what kind of a legacy do you think Beverly McLachlin is leaving behind?
EMMETT MACFARLANE: She leaves a legacy of having modernized the Supreme Court as an institution, she has opened up the court in a way that her predecessors had not. And she's really been able to steer the court into a more consensual and deliberative body, so she's actually changed not just Canadian law but how the court operates and how the court arrives at judgments.
CO: And what was her philosophy of judgment? I mean she has she has spoken about it herself trying to characterize it. How would you characterize it?
EM: Well way in a way, she has kind of exemplified the court as being both bold and cautious. The court under her has been very well of are very aware of its own limitations and its relationship with the other branches of government. But it's been quite bold in particularly areas of constitutional law like the Charter of Rights and in a whole host of even recent decisions such as on assisted dying, prostitution, supervised injection facilities. The court has taken a principled approach but one that has been very conscious of its overall role in Canadian government.
CO: What we heard during the time of Stephen Harper's government, he accused often accused the court under her and other courts as well, other benches. But he said that they called them an activist court thwarting the will of parliament. And when she was when the court led by Justice Beverley McLachlin would strike down decisions and initiatives of the Harper government. Why did she, do you think there's any truth to that, that it was an activist court?
EM: I'm not sure that “activist” is a particularly useful word because it basically is used by people who just don't like the outcome of the Supreme Court's decisions. And it doesn't really tell us much about the court's behavior. It is true that the court wields tremendous policymaking power. The court is as much a political institution as it is a legal institution. But the question ultimately and usually becomes do we need this third party independent arbiter in order to protect the protect rights of citizens as well as to settle questions between say the federal government and the provinces on federalism issues? And the answer is usually yes. So the court certainly faced some tumultuous times during the Harper government but I, I'm not sure I'm not sure that that was a significant break from the past and I'm not sure that that has changed under the current government. The Trudeau government's response for example to the assisted dying decision certainly pushed back a bit on what the court said should be the threshold for access to assisted dying. In a very similar way that the Harper government pushed back on the court's decision relating to prostitution.
CO: You mentioned prostitution, assisted suicide. These are two of the initiatives of the Harper government that was struck down by the Supreme Court under Chief Justice McLachlin. But there's also Senate reform, the issue of Omar Khadr, another issue that that was the Harper government was quite angry about. And of course, the one where she seemed to have clashed with Stephen Harper was over the selection of Judge Marc Nandon to be elevated to the Supreme Court. Can you tell us about that?
EM: Yeah and here's a decision that the court effectively determined whether or not the eligibility criteria would allow for a federal court judge from Quebec to be appealed to the Supreme Court so there was a matter of effectively statutory law there. The bigger part of that decision was actually whether or not Parliament itself was free to change the eligibility requirement for Supreme Court justices. And the court was actually quite strident and effectively entrenching itself in the Constitution and requiring the unanimous consent of all the provinces in order to make changes to the court's own composition. And so, that certainly I think the most pronounced institutional struggle during chief justice McLachlin's tenure. And it was certainly certainly with the Harper government. And we did see also an unprecedented kind of set of competing press releases between the Harper PMO and the Supreme Court over the chief justice's involvement in warning the government about this appointment ahead of time.
CO: What are the decisions that she will be remembered for?
EM: I think the recent references that you indicated involving Senate reform and involving the Supreme Court itself are an important legacy because they are first time that the court addressed in any in any substantive way the constitutional amending formula and how we can make or cannot make future changes to our Constitution. And I think that resonates this year as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the original Constitution.
I think she's also generated such a litany of important precedential cases on issues ranging from prisoner voting rights to the design of the healthcare system itself, to even the reference on Quebec's secession, which was put out by the court before she became chief justice but which reflects many of the subsequent unanimous decisions that came out under her tenure. This is a court that worked very hard to speak with one voice on maybe the most famous case in Supreme Court history that involved a potential breakup of the country. And so for all of these cases I think, she is, she'll have quite a lasting legacy for decades to come.
CO: All right we'll leave it there. Professor MacFarlane, thank you.
EM: Thank you.
JD: Emmett MacFarlane is a political science professor at the University of Waterloo. We reached him in Waterloo, Ontario. And just 12 days ago. Chief Justice Beverley McLaughlin was interviewed by the CBC's Laura Lynch. And in that interview she was asked why she had used the label cultural genocide to characterize the treatment of First Nations people in Canada.
BEVERLEY MCLACHLIN: The labels aren't important. We can call a certain historical epoch or event whatever. But what is important is to recognize the facts. Because we're involved in Canada in a process of reconciliation. The court has said this in many decisions, ministers, governments have said this. And in order to make that process of reconciliation with indigenous peoples succeed, we have to start from a basis where we actually recognize facts. One of those facts was the taking away of children over a very long period of time from their parents to go to residential schools. And that produced injustices which have been recognized now by the government and the system.
LAURA LYNCH: Now I don't mean to rush you toward retirement but I wonder if you have begun to reflect on what your legacy has been as both Justice on the Supreme Court and Chief Justice.
BM: I don't spend a lot of time reflecting on it honestly because I'm so busy I guess building it, not that I even think about that. I'm just busy trying to decide the cases that come before the court, do my little part in the most responsible way possible.
But I think if there is to be a legacy, it has to reside in those decisions that I've participated in, had the honor to participate in because that is the work of the court. That's what my life's work has been. And whether, how I'm viewed in future generations will depend I think almost entirely on that.
JD: That was Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, speaking to the CBC's Laura Lynch nearly two weeks ago. Today, the longest-serving Supreme Court Chief Justice announced her retirement.
Climate change study
Guest: David Barber
JD: A group of Canadian scientists was supposed to be on its way to the Arctic on an expedition this month. But that expedition has been called off due to unsettling irony. The group wanted to measure the effects the changing climate is having on the Arctic. Things like melting glaciers and the shrinking snow cover. They've had to cancel because of the effects the changing climate is having on the Arctic. David Barber is a CIA specialist and head of the research project. We reached him in Winnipeg.
CO: Professor Barber, what are the sea ice conditions that led you to cancel this expedition?
DAVID BARBER: They were very severe. They were ice hazards that basically were created by [unintelligible] down from the high Arctic and residing off the Newfoundland Coast, much further south than we expected them to be. The research icebreaker we're on, the Amundsen is a twelve hundred class ice breaker which is sort of the second most powerful ice breaker we have in Canada and it had a hard time navigating through this ice. So the conditions were very difficult.
CO: Have you ever seen this kind of ice off the coast of Newfoundland?
DB: No, I never have and not expect to find it there either. This ice would typically melt before it would get that far south. Really, what's causing this problem is that the ice is getting thinner and there's less of it in the high arctic which allows it to be more mobile. This mobility can lead to unusual things like this event where the ice gets pushed out of the high arctic gets, into the Labrador current and makes its way all the way south off the coast of Newfoundland.
CO: And so all of this has led to having to cancel the expedition, so but, can you explain a bit more about why that's the case?
DB: Well it was really two reasons. You know we had spent the first week of the expedition already doing search and rescue operations in the Strait of Belle-Isle and we'd been doing ice escort services to you know allow ferry boats that were trapped in the ice to get between Newfoundland and Quebec, and then the Coast Guard moved us to the north east coast of Greenland where the ice was even heavier and even thicker. And there's, you know the search and rescue calls were coming to the ship multiple times per day with fishing boats being sunk and people having to be rescued from on ice flows and you know many different hazards were happening. And it became clear to me that you know, if we were to take our research icebreaker out of there, that would leave a very big hole and therefore a very big risk for, you know, marine operations in that part of Canada. And on the flip side of that, if we thought OK if we do go north, our fuel program is going to be contracted from a four week study to a two and a half weeks study and so all of the science teams would be pushing very hard to try to get as much data as possible in the limited time left to us, and that would also create a risk.
The Arctic is not a place where you want to be doing things quickly. You want to think them out and you know, go about them in a very controlled position where you're thinking about things before you're doing them all the time and so it was very risky both to stay and to leave. And so with all that risk in front of us, the best and only decision was really to cancel and regroup and go out at another time.
CO: To go at it another time, what will be changed? If this is going to be the conditions, if this is what you're now seeing as a development, when will you be able to do this kind of research? When will you be able to get those scientists out and be able to do this investigation?
DB: Well part of it is, you know, our partnership with the Coast Guard, I think we've learned a lot collectively between the Coast Guard and science in this particular event. I mean, we had three other very capable icebreakers that could have assisted in this but they were all being repaired at the time. And so we were down with a certain amount of capacity in this situation so the Coast Guard has certainly learned from that process.
Of course, the Coast Guard is also stuck with a very aging fleet. The fleet is very old and it needs to be need to look at how we're going to rejuvenate and repopulate the fleet with new vessels and what capability these vessels will have. I mean, we got stuck in this ice.
So a smaller, less capable ice breaker or a frigate or you know some ice reinforced vessel they just couldn't go anywhere. So we also have to think about, yes climate change is happening, but in the short term, now I'm talking you know five years 10 years 15 years, these kind of ice hazards we can expect them to go up. And so the sort of the take home message for me is that science needs to play a role in that process, and we will as we move forward, but the communications are sometimes difficult between governments and universities and we all have to realize that what we're doing here is doing these things on behalf of the country and it's really the country that suffers from the effects of climate change.
CO: But you also have 40 scientists who are probably quite disappointed right now.
DB: Oh absolutely. It was a very difficult decision to make and everybody was extremely disappointed but they also appreciate the fact that hopefully something positive will come out of this, where you know, our systems and our abilities to deal with these kind of challenges will improve as a consequence. And that the individual students will be protected with the thesis work they're doing. I think they also learned a lot about the importance of being a scientist. So these are young people that are going to develop their careers in science, and this was an excellent example of just how darned important science is.
CO: Professor Barber, it’s very interesting and I'm sorry your trip got cancelled but I appreciate you speaking with us. Thank you.
DB: Thank you so much.
JD: David Barber is a CIA specialist and a professor at the University of Manitoba. He’s also the chief scientist for the Hudson Bay System Study. We reached Professor Barber in Winnipeg.
JD: Today, two state attorneys general filed a lawsuit against the President of the United States.
Brian Frosh of Maryland and Karl Racine of the District of Columbia accused President Trump of violating the constitution. Specifically, they say he's running afoul of the constitution's "emoluments clause," which forbids the president from accepting gifts and or payments from foreign powers.
And they say that, because Mr. Trump has not sufficiently disengaged himself from his business interests, he has improperly used his position to advance his business interests.
Attorney General Brian Frosh gave more details at a press conference earlier today.
BRIAN FROSH: The president's conflicts of interests threaten our democracy. It's that simple. We cannot treat the president's ongoing violations of the Constitution and his disregard of the rights of the American people as the new and acceptable status quo. Here's a little about what we know so far about what the president has done. He's pitched the Trump International Hotel to foreign diplomats and to government officials. He appears frequently at Trump establishments using his role as president as a marketing device to raise their public profile. He's paid by companies owned by foreign governments including China which leased space at Trump Tower. He continues to take money from foreign governments including Saudi Arabia India Afghanistan and Qatar who own property in Trump World Tower and pay him charges associated with those properties. He doubled the fees at Mar a Lago after he was elected from $100,000 to $200,000. He hosts foreign leaders they're using the trappings of the presidency to heighten its profile. He even promoted his resort on a State Department website and on embassy websites. He's pursued trademark protection in China for 10 years. He was unsuccessful the entire time during his campaign and after his election he indicated he might end the one-China policy. But on February 9th he met with President of China, pledged to continue the one-China policy. Five days later China gave him trademark protection. He doesn't appear to understand or care about these violations of the Constitution, the Constitution that he swore to uphold and protect. He flouts them. He brags about them and as we now know from his tweets, he has little respect for the rule of law and he has little respect for the court's ability to enforce the law. We do not sue the president of the United States casually. I wish President Trump had addressed these issues, these violations, himself. But he has not. And they must be addressed and remedied.
JD: Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh speaking at a press conference earlier today. Mr. Frosh is part of a lawsuit seeking an injunction to prevent the president from breaking the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution. The White House responded to the lawsuit this afternoon saying the president's business ties do not violate the Constitution and that the lawsuit was politically motivated.
Guest: Gary Brannan
JD: Quite a few things have not gone, well quite according to plan since the U.K.'s snap election was called. And now you can add the Queen's Speech opening parliament to the list.
Prime Minister Theresa May is scrambling to form some kind of government after her party's shockingly poor performance at the polls. And while Her Majesty was supposed to give her speech in one week's time, today it was announced that it's been delayed.
And one of the reasons for the delay was "printing problems". But we're not talking about an empty laser-printer cartridge. Tradition holds that the Queen's Speech be written on "goatskin parchment paper". And apparently, when you write on goatskin, it takes the ink a while to dry.
We reached Gary Brannan, an archivist at the University of York in England, to help us understand.
CO: Mr. Brown and why most the Queen's Speech be printed on goatskin?
GARY BRANNAN: It's basically to do with tradition and the properties that the material has. I think one thing just to say is that as I understand it, it’s not actually printed on goatskin itself, it's in a material called goatskin parchment paper. So it's actually paper that has the look and feel and properties of goatskin but without the goats haven't been harmed.
CO: OK so why does it have to be printed done on fake goatskin parchment paper?
GB: The reason really behind it is trying to look towards durability while keeping a sense of tradition. These are things are intended to be really permanent so they want to make sure they use material that lasts a long time. Parchment itself is a really durable material it's got a proven history of being around. At the Borthwick Institute at the University of York where I'm based, I’m the medieval specialist and I look after records dating back to the 11th century that are on parchment. And really it lasts a long time. But the paper they’re using is what we call archival paper. It's acid free which means it shouldn't really damage itself in the way that the machine made papers can do.
So they’re kind of doing a nod towards the tradition of using parchment. Parchment has the order of permanency about it, but they're also using a material that should, and I stress should, last a very very long time. And really only have paper since the mid-late 14th century, so it's still a pretty young material as these things go.
CO: OK we're told that the Queen's speech, it's held that because the ink takes, well how long does it take for the ink to dry on this parchment paper?
GB: It can take quite a while. The way the paper is made means that unlike sort of regular paper you might pull out of the printer or something, the ink doesn't soak into the material. It’ll sort of sit on top of the paper. So if you’re using parchment itself, it has that kind of waxy feel to it. It doesn't sink into it, it sticks on top, so it does take quite a long time to dry. Whether it takes three days or not, I'm not entirely sure but it certainly was something that dries instantly.
CO: So how is it working? Because this is a rapidly evolving situation in your country as you know. I mean every hour we're hearing a different configuration of how you might be governed by whom and when. So how do you actually write a speech if things take days to dry if it's changing every minute?
GB: I think this is one of the things that they're wrestling with minute and it will be part of the reason behind possibly the Queen's speech being held back a bit. It means that you can't really amend these things very quickly so if there do need be any changes to the content of the Queen's speech, the Queen's speech of course, setting over the government's legislative program for the year ahead. Means they can't really amend it very easily. It will need time to set and drawing and be bound and delivered to the queen to be signed. So lots of stages within it that must take a few days to do.
CO: What kind of ink? It's not like a laser printer. What kind of ink goes into this?
GB: I'm not entirely sure which ink. It will be a nod to tradition again. Way back when, they would have used a natural ink made from oak [unintelligible] that you’d find on oak trees. And that's quite a thick ink. So if it’s something along the same lines it would be something like that I would have thought.
CO: OK, so they’re trying to, if this is evolving faster than you can tweet. And so what are they scratching it out and writing it down again? Or just I mean little things in parenthetical additions. I mean how do they capture in the end what the government, whoever it might be by the time the queen reads it, how do they capture all this if they keep rewriting it?
GB: It would be a case that eventually they would set down what we should be going in. As normal, these are usually quite easy things. You know, the government says what it's going to do. It ends up on the bit of parchment skin paper later on after being printed onto it. These things are printed on, they're not handwritten as I understand it. But when it takes time for people to agree these things, they need to build in time for the ink to dry. It's a nod back to the permanency in the way that things, the slow nature of how things used to be done I think in the past. They would have taken time for things to be decided in written down. Writing things down was a really permanent final act in things and sort of set the odds with the modern world evolves as you said, evolving quickly too quickly to tweet. When you think about using traditional materials and traditional processes, the one thing you’ve got to build into is time.
CO: Maybe this is buying them time in a way that is a convenient excuse. Say well there's nothing we can do we can't have the Queen's speech ready because the ink’s still drying when they haven't really figured out what they're going to do to have to put into ink onto goatskin.
GB: To use a well-worn political phrase, “You may very well think that. I couldn't possibly comment”.
CO: Mr. Brannan, thank you.
GB: Not a problem.
JD: Gary Brannan is an archivist with the Borthwick Institute for Archives at the University of York in England, where we reached him.Back To Top »
Part 2: Russia protests, Comey coverage
Guest: Anna Arutunyan
JEFF DOUGLAS: Today is Russia Day a national holiday in Russia. But instead of pride or celebration the people who took to the streets today were expressing their frustration.
[Sound: Crowd shouting, rioting, chanting]
They came out in the thousands today across the country, chanting "Putin is a thief". Wave after wave of protesters demanded an end to official corruption. A significant number of the people on the streets were young – many of them teenagers. In the end, hundreds were detained, including opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was behind the call for a nationwide protest. Anna Arutunyan was also on the streets today. Ms. Aruntunyan is a Russian-American writer and the author of The Putin Mystique: Inside Russia's Power Cult. We reached Ms. Arutunyan earlier today, in Moscow.
CAROL OFF: Anna what did you see in Moscow today at these protests?
ANNA ARUNTUNYAN: It's an interesting irony because Navalny changed the venue of the protest to Tverskaya street where city authorities had organized a historical re-enactment festival. So there were a lot of Muscovites just out there for a stroll enjoying themselves, and suddenly we see these crowds shouting slogans with Russians flags and we see an immediate standoff with riot police.
CO: Just to set the scene a bit, this historical re-enactment, were there people in costume doing performances?
AA: Exactly I mean it was quite surreal. There was at one point a situation where a man dressed in the uniform of Stalin's secret police detaining a protester and handing him over to the riot police.
CO: They're enacting this and are they are in costumes as they do this?
AA: Yes there were there were people in costumes from World War Two. They were people in costumes from the Middle East in the Middle Ages. It was just completely surreal.
CO: So why did Alexei Navalny call for the protest to move to that venue, to that street, which is the main drag in Moscow isn't it?
AA: Well what happened was initially Moscow authorities had given him permission to hold his rally at another street. But then authorities got in the way of him setting up the stage with audio equipment so he couldn't have any audio. And late last night he told his supporters that OK, because authorities aren't allowing us to have audio we're going to move this to Tverskaya.
CO: And how many people turned out for Mr. Navalny’s protest.
AA: It's hard to say. I saw some police reports citing about 3000. But considering that there were at least 750 detained I think it was more than 3000. It's just hard to say because people were showing up, some people who were leaving.
CO: And what were they doing. What were they chanting were they doing similar kinds of activities?
AA: As soon as they passed through the metal detectors and were led into the venue, they started chanting slogans, “Down with Putin,” “Down with the Czar,” “Navalny for President,” “Medvedev should be brought to justice,” “Putin is a theif.” Basically all sorts of slogans. Now considering that Navalny had been detained right outside his home just an hour before the rally started, they were also chanting “Freedom for Navalny.”
CO: So he wasn't even there. How did people know that the venue had been changed?
AA: He told them on his blog the night before. Again this is a protest movement that has been pretty much exclusively organized over the Internet and social networks. This is why the contingent is so young.
CO: So how do police respond? We saw what happened on March 26 when there was a similar call for anti-corruption protests. They were out in the street. There were mass arrests, a lot of people dragged away, some of them didn't seem to even be part of the demonstration. So what happened today?
AA: Basically riot police started pushing protesters who had entered the territory of the festivities. Strangely they started pushing them towards the Kremlin, I'm not quite sure why. There were clashes between the protesters and the police and I saw police snatching people out of the crowd dragging them away. I saw one police officer hit a man with a baton. The man said “Hit me again.” He was not the seen but I mean others were. I saw protesters also taunting police. So I mean there was a lot of emotion there. There was a lot of… I frankly haven't seen anything that intense since protests in May 2012 when Putin returned to the presidency.
CO: And what does that tell you that there is such an intensity to these protests and a lot of young people at them?
AA: Yes this is a new protest wave. It's completely different I think from the one in 2011, but it has the same degree of emotion. I mean people were telling me about how fed up they were with corruption. This isn’t so much about Putin. It's about specific issues like corruption. One young student is 16 years old told me that he really doesn't see a future for Russia.
CO: But is it not the case that perhaps his parents and the older generation, older generations still seem to be supportive of Putin.
AA: Putin still enjoys approval rating of way over 80 percent. But what the Navalny protests have shown in March and now is that there's an overlap between people who are protesting corruption and support Navalny, and people who are also supportive of Putin. And this is an interesting paradox and one that Navalny has I think rightly exploited, that you don't really have to be against Putin to be against corruption.
CO: And so this, what you saw in the streets today in Moscow where seven about 750 people were detained, that was just in Moscow. Were there other protests in other parts of Russia as there were. March 26?
AA: Yeah there were just as last time, there were protests over 160 cities from Kaliningrad in the West to Vladivostok in the east. This shows once again that this is a different type of protest wave that's including people out in the regions and this is not just about Moscow and St. Petersburg anymore.
CO: And what does that tell you?
AA: This means that Navalny has tapped into a deeper level of popular sentiment. This is no longer about the urban creative class. This is about something that people in Russia share in a wider sense their dissatisfaction with corruption with the state of the economy. This isn't any more about pro-Western sentiment or democracy or human rights. This is about things that Russians experience on a daily basis.
CO: And what happened to Mr. Navalny today.
AA: He was detained. I think he's going to spend a few weeks in jail once again. It's unclear what authorities are going to do next because frankly I don't think they have a really good idea of what their options are in terms of containing the threat that Navalny presents. They can't really jail him outright, that would make him into a martyr. But they can't just let him do as he pleases as well.
CO: All right well we'll be following these developments Anna, and I really appreciate speaking with you. Thank you.
AA: Thank you.
JD: Anna Arutunyan is a Russian-American writer and the author of The Putin Mystique: Inside Russia's Power Cult. We reached her earlier today in Moscow. We have an update. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been sentenced by a Russian court to 30 days detention.
Guest: Jeremy Peters
JD: After former FBI director James Comey's Senate testimony last week, two narratives began to emerge.
The first: that President Trump had demanded Mr. Comey's loyalty, that he tried to get him to drop the investigation into former national security advisor Michael Flynn – and that the president's actions may have constituted obstruction of justice.
The alternative narrative – one that was pushed by right-wing media – went like this: Mr. Comey completely exonerated the president, testifying that no one had ever tried to influence him to stop an investigation. Therefore, Mr. Trump is completely innocent of any attempts to obstruct justice.
Jeremy Peters is a reporter with the New York Times. He's looked at how the right-wing media covered this story – and traced it back to a single tweet. We reached Jeremy Peters in Washington D.C.
CO: Jeremy, you're writing that this all began with one person: Jack Posobiec. So who is he and what did he share on Twitter?
JEREMY PETERS: Jack is a right-wing pro-Trump activist he calls himself something of a journalist. I hesitate to use that label because I don't consider what he does to be journalism. I think it's just about as close to propaganda as you can get. And what he did is last month tweet an incorrect statement about the testimony that James Comey gave before the Senate. He claimed that Comey had exonerated President Trump saying that Comey says Trump never asked him to stop the investigation. Well that was just false. Comey said nothing of the sort in that Senate testimony.
But that didn't stop the tweet from ricocheting across the ecosystem of false news and misinformation on the far right. And it eventually, after becoming the source of a few articles on websites like Breitbart and Info Wars, it found its way on to Rush Limbaugh's radio show where Rush Limbaugh read about it and insisted that Jim Comey had had exonerated President Trump. And then just last week you know the story lived on and Sean Hannity referenced it and said that Comey had exonerated Trump and then that… so this false story ended up going from the fringes to mainstream primetime in a remarkable order.
CO: Now, so that was the alternate reality that was presented by Jack Posobiec is as you've described. What are the, because this is the Judiciary Committee hearing. What are the facts of that story?
JP: So the facts are that Comey was asked by the senator from Hawaii, Mazie Hirono, if anyone at the senior levels of the Justice Department or the attorney general himself had intervened and asked to stop an investigation.
Never any anywhere in her question was a mention of Donald Trump and Comey responded “No”. He never mentioned Trump's name in that sense because he wasn’t asked about Donald Trump. And it was clear and it should be clear to anybody reading the transcript that he wasn't talking about Donald Trump because we know from this testimony he gave to the Senate Intelligence Committee last week that he feels that President Trump was directing him to drop the investigation into Mike Flynn. So yes, Comey has been on record saying that he believed the president was trying to interfere in an ongoing FBI investigation.
CO: And going back to Jack Posobiec, what is his record on fake news?
JP: So he has been involved in this spreading of various conspiracy theories and red herrings. One of them is known as “pizzagate.” And that was this utter fiction that that Hillary Clinton and the Democrats were behind some child sex trafficking ring that was located in a Washington D.C. pizza restaurant. Just utterly utterly absurd. Jack Posibiec took it upon himself to go investigate this and then document his supposed investigative work for his online following, which is which is not massive but also not insignificant. You know there are plenty of people, tens of thousands who watch his videos online.
Another other episode he was involved in is this conspiracy theory that's ongoing that doesn't seem to die no matter how many times it's denied and discredited is that the Democratic National Committee is involved in the murder of a former staffer who was tragically shot at 4:00 a.m. in Washington D.C. and what the police have described as a kind of botched robbery.
CO: But is this, would it be possible if there were not people who wanted to believe these stories, that wanted an alternative narrative?
JP: Yeah I think you make a good point there. I think that the distrust that many Americans have in the quote unquote “mainstream media” of which I am a member is played no small role in all of this. They think of us as a partisan entity. I mean the president himself has called us the enemy. And when we become so politicized and made into a villain in Donald Trump's virtuous struggle against the forces of political evil who seek to do him harm. Yes that's that's going to create and feed a lot of mistrust.
CO: Is it fair to say that there is a sizable proportion of the American public who believes an entirely different version of events than the one that mainstream media and outlets like The New York Times are putting out?
JP: I would say that I think there is, the number of people who believe the conspiracy theories. You know the Pizzagate, the DNC murder. That's a pretty small percentage I would say. But what is not small is the percentage of voters, and I talk to these people in my reporting on a daily basis, is to believe, people will believe that the media is exaggerating the details of the Trump investigations and is sensationalizing them. I think that's very real.
CO: And can you persuade them otherwise. If you're in contact with who you're interviewing them and you're putting our stories. I mean what can be done to counter fake news?
JP: God, you know I–
CO: If only you knew.
JP: There's certainly a market for real news because from where I sit, the New York Times has increased its subscription base by 300,000 in the first three months of this year alone. So, it's not like we're turning away or turning off everybody in the country. We're actually we seem to be doing quite well with our business model.
CO: Just finally going back to Jack Posobiec. He was the Washington bureau chief for Rebel Media until quite recently when Ezra Levant let him go. Do you know anything about that?
JP: It's a very murky situation and neither party wants to discuss why. I asked Ezra, he said it didn't have anything to do with the conspiracy theory peddling that Jack Posobiec was involved in. But I've come to learn that subsequently [unintelligible] published to Jack Posobiec has bounced around from a number of jobs in Washington over the years. And I think that it may be that he's just not able to work in the confines of a nine to five type job.
CO: All right we'll leave it there. Jeremy thank you.
JP: OK thank you very much.
JD: Jeremy Peters is a reporter with The New York Times. We reached him in Washington D.C. In a blog post that after Mr. Peters published his recent article Mr. Posobiec stood by his original tweet.
JD: Sometimes a little music can really get you going. Conversely, a lack of music may be preventing you from going.
That's the theory of Cecilia Cato, anyway. Ms. Cato is a councillor in the town of Tingsryd, in southern Sweden. And she has put forth a bold proposal: that music be piped into the bathrooms of local schools. What she has in mind are cover songs – not new versions of previously recorded songs, but songs to cover whatever students are too shy to do in those silent washrooms. Ms. Cato has a number of reasons for her proposal. Two numbers, specifically. As she explained to The Local, "I don't think it's just about No. 2 on the toilet, but many also don't do No. 1."
And as she further explained, "High school is a sensitive period in life, and when you get older I think that you are able to do both No. 1 and No. 2 on toilets that don't cover up the sound."
Well, as any adult who has experienced quiet desperation in a deafeningly silent public washroom, they will tell you that's debatable. And so is Ms. Cato's proposal. Then, after the debate, Tingsryd council will vote on whether to accept her sound judgement. A lot of students are crossing their fingers it passes – because they'll be crossing their legs if it doesn't.
Part 3: Akulivik deaths, Climate Accord: Nicaragua
JEFF DOUGLAS: Former FBI Director James Comey is not alone.
That was one of the messages delivered by Preet Bharara in his first interview since being fired by U.S. President Donald Trump. Mr. Bharara is the former U.S. State Attorney General for the Southern District of New York. And he says that he, too, was uncomfortable with interactions he had with the president, before he was abruptly fired back in March.
Yesterday on the ABC program This Week, Preet Bharara spoke with George Stephanopoulos. Here is part of their conversation.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You had several encounters with president-elect Trump before you were fired by President Trump back in March. Starting at the during the transition, he invited you to Trump tower, asked you to stay on as U.S. attorney.
PREET BHARARA: He did.
GS: And then he followed that up with two phone calls as president elect?
PB: He did.
GS: What happened in those phone calls?
PB: So they were very unusual phone calls and it’s sort of, when I've been reading the stories about how the president has been contacting Jim Comey over time, it’s a little bit like deja vu. I'm not the FBI director but I was you know the chief federal law enforcement officer in Manhattan with jurisdiction over a lot of things including you know business interests and other things in New York. The number of times that President Obama called me in seven half years was zero. Because there has to be some kind of arm's length relationship given the jurisdiction that various people have.
GS: So what did he say?
PB: So he called me in December, ostensibly just to shoot the breeze and asked me how I was doing and wanted to make sure I was OK. It was similar to what Jim Comey testified to. I didn't say anything at the time to him. It was a little bit uncomfortable but he was not the president, he was only the president elect. He called me again two days before the inauguration, again seemingly to check in and shoot the breeze. And then he called me a third time after he became president and I refused to return the call.
GS: You didn’t take it because he was president. But those other phone calls, James Comey talked about the president trying to develop what he called a patronage relationship. Is that what you think was happening with you?
PB: That's not the word I use. It appeared to be that he was trying to cultivate some kind of relationship and it may be hard for viewers of yours to understand if you're a lay person not in the Justice Department. What's wrong with that? The CEO of a company wants to call you know a field manager somewhere, what's wrong with that? The problem is the Justice Department is different. It's a very weird and peculiar thing for a one on one conversation without the attorney general, without warning, between the president and me or any United States attorney. Now, I'm not saying that he was going to ask me about a case although there is some evidence in the record now that Donald Trump didn't think anything of asking a high level law enforcement official to take a particular action that he wanted for himself on a criminal case.
GS: And then when you were actually, when he was actually president you refused to take the call, and I guess the next day you're fired?
PB: So the call came in, I got a message. We deliberated over it, thought it was inappropriate to return the call. And 22 hours later I was asked to resign along with 45 other people.
GS: And some Democrats, notably Elizabeth Warren connecting that to the fact that you did have jurisdiction over Trump Tower. Do you think there's any connection?
PB: I am not drawing the connection. I’ve lived long enough to know that anything is possible. And we're seeing a lot of things going on now with respect to accusations that Jim Comey made under oath. So I don't know. To this day I have no idea why I was fired. I have no idea.
JD: That is former U.S. State Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara speaking yesterday on the ABC program This Week with George Stephanopoulos. It was Mr. Bharara’s first interview since being fired by President Trump back in March.
Guest: Niali Aliqu
JD: Akulivik is a community of just over six hundred people on the Quebec side of Hudson's Bay. Four of its residents now are dead, two are in hospital, following a series of stabbings on Saturday morning.
Niali Aliqu lives in Akulivik. Three of her relatives are among the victims. We reached Niali Aliqu in Akulivik.
CO: Biali, first of all I'm so sorry for what has happened to your community.
NIALI ALIQU: Yes, we’re all shocked.
CO: When did you first realize that something terrible was happening?
NA: I heard yelling and screaming from the next door neighbor and from outside.
CO: And what could you see?
NA: I went to look if it was on my bedroom window. There was none and then I went to my living room window and opened the curtains and then I saw people running around and the police aiming at a person and my son he knocked the door and called for a telephone and said there was a body lying on somebody else's, our neighbor's porch, lying down and he called the ambulance and they arrived and he was already gone.
CO: Among the dead, there’s five victims of this attack. Three are dead, one’s a man, another’s a woman, and the other one is a child believed to be 10 years old. Did you know them?
NA: There’s… we’re all related. They are my cousins from my father's side.
CO: And this is… what you know about the young man, 19 years old, who attacked these people, Illutak Anautak.
NA: Illutak, he was a very nice young man. I don't know about what why it happens. I cannot give answers to why this happened.
CO: Do you know anything more about him?
NA: Yes, his mother had been beaten to death years ago and his older brother had committed suicide.
CO: And what about the, what relationship did Illutak have with the people who he killed? Do you know?
NA: Eva Anautakis the sister of her late mother, his late mother. Because he was also the brother of Eva. And Lucassie is also my granddaughter's father, biological father.
CO: It's just a horrible scene but it's also a scene of people whom you knew. These were relations of yours, and neighbors of yours. So it's not just that you saw horror, this was people close to you.
NA: Yes. We're related. We're all so close but we never had any visitations. Except for at times when we wanted to borrow some coffee or something like that. They came in to get what they needed. He was a nice little boy too. He was always saying thank you when he came in and he is the most difficult time [unintelligible] because a little boy tried to get help and ran and collapsed and I saw his blood. And I cannot get it out in my mind no matter how I try.
CO: Niali, which are you talking about? Which of the victims?
NA: The boy, the 10 year old boy.
CO: You saw him after he was stabbed.
NA: No I didn't see him. I saw his blood when he already taken off the road.
CO: What was his name?
CO: Niali, what are you going to do? Are you going to get some help? Are there people that you can get help from?
NA: Yes, we’re going to get some help. We already have help. We already are getting help from the social services. And there are people who are coming in to help the victims’ family and other people who had seen this. We’re going to get help. And there are other people coming in from other communities to give support.
CO: And will you be having funerals very soon do you think?
NA: No I don't. Not soon. They're saying the authorities are saying that they'll be taken for investigation down south and I think it will take weeks for them to come back for funeral.
CO: How important is that going to be for people in your community that you're able to have those funerals? What does that mean for you?
NA: Every funeral is very important to us. We care about people. Every funeral is very important for us. This will be the most important.
CO: Niali, I'm going to leave you. I'm sorry to take up so much of your time when you're trying to cope with what happened but I want to thank you for speaking with us.
NA: You’re welcome.
CO: All right, bye-bye.
JD: Niali Aliqu is a resident of Akulivik, Quebec. We reached her there.
JD: If you turned the sound down and just watched the race, it looked like business as usual for Usain Bolt. He shadowboxed as usual while waiting to step into the box. He held a shushing finger to his lips, as usual, just as the race was about to begin. He had a bad start, as usual, but he won, as usual.
But with the sound up, you could hear something unusual was happening in Kingston, Jamaica on Saturday night. The crowd was screaming, and the vuvuzelas buzzing, from the second Mr. Bolt arrived in the National Stadium. And when he overcame that sloppy start to cross the finish line, first in 10-point-zero-3 seconds, the response was even more deafening than usual.
After the race, Usain Bolt also said something unusual. Unusual for a guy whose brand is effortlessness and confidence.
USAIN BOLT: I don’t think I've ever been that nervous. [Unintelligible] Just the atmosphere and the people, the support they came out and gave me tonight, it was really nerve racking.
The reason for the nerves at the beginning of that particular race was that it was the end. Mr. Bolt’s last ever 100 meter race on Jamaican soil, hence the vuvuzelas, the fireworks, the tribute from Peter Phillips, the leader of the People's National Party, who told the sprinter quote “You are now the greatest Jamaican of all time.” Here's the call of Saturday's race from television Jamaica.
PETER PHILLIPS: Salute to a legend. Men's 100 meters. As part of the salute, surely, every man, woman, and child [crosstalk]
ANNOUNCER: On your marks.
PP: Inside the National Stadium in Kinston is standing with this final event. The journey from 2002 special, Junior Gold, 2003 special, High school champs records at 200 and 400. This is the last run.
ANNOUNCER: Set. Sent up. Bolt didn’t get a great start. Getting up one, [unintelligible] Bolt comes to the front, Usain Bolt in command of the race, the shining light of world athletics closes as Jamaican champion. Kingston witnesses the last competitive performance in the land of wood, water, and speed for Usain St. Leo Bolt.
ANNOUNCER 2: It’s so special that the time he has run is the exact same time that he ran his first 100 metres at the professional in 10.03 seconds. We couldn't have written that script.
ANNOUNCER: His first 100 meters. The time that he ran when he was able to convince Glen Mills to let him run the 100 meters at the Olympic Games. 10.03.
JD: The sound of Usain Bolt's final race in his homeland, which took place in the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica, on Saturday. That call was broadcast on Television Jamaica.
Two months from today, Usain Bolt will race for the last time ever, at the IAAF World Championships in London.
Climate Accord: Nicaragua
Guest: Paul Oquist
JD: Do you remember when the big Donald Trump out of the Trump presidency was his decision to pull the United States out of the Paris Accord? Well, that was a couple of weeks ago. And way back then, much was made of the fact that the US President's decision to withdraw from the climate accord put his country on a very short list. Because it had joined just two UN members that haven't signed up. One of them is Syria, which is of course mired in a horrible horrible civil war. The other is Nicaragua.
But what most of the coverage of that exclusive group failed to mention was that Nicaragua’s problem with Paris was a little different from President Trump's.
Paul Oquist was Nicaragua's negotiator at the Paris talks. We reached Mr. Oquist in Managua.
CO: Mr. Oquist, Donald Trump says the Paris climate accord is too restrictive for the United States. Why didn't Nicaragua sign on?
PAUL OQUIST: Because the agreement is too weak. The agreement is not legally binding. The agreement doesn't keep temperature under 2 degrees. It doesn't achieve the 1.5 degree goal. It has developing countries renouncing of their legal rights to indemnisation to the losses and damages that are receiving year after year. So the Paris agreement doesn't fulfill its own objectives. It fails by a hundred per cent to achieve the 1.5 degrees centigrade though. The Paris agreement was set up in such a way that it is getting the large emitters off the hook. The large emitting countries do not want to commit themselves to that degree of emissions reductions required to reach the 1.5 degree target or even the two degree target. So they are looking for all kinds of subterfuges to not place themselves to take political decisions economic decisions that would be required to stop climate change.
CO: Much has been said and since Mr. Trump withdrew from the agreement about the three countries who would not be a part of it, who are all the countries who are part of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. And there’s a 197 in that club, so that it would be the United States now not part of it, Syria not part of it because well Syria's in the middle of a war, and Nicaragua is mentioned. Now the reasons why Nicaragua is not part of is for entirely different reasons than that obviously of Syria but also of the United States. You're saying because it doesn't go far enough.
PO: Absolutely. It's voluntary when it should be legally binding. It will lead us to three to three point five degrees which is a worldwide average, which in the tropics like Nicaragua, in the deserts and the Arctic regions, will lead to four to six degrees in increase and that will be catastrophic for our country. It will be less water, less food, less health, less nutrition, more poverty, and more migration, by the way towards the northern countries with a three degree world. There are already climate change refugees in the world. Some 14 million according to [unintelligible]. But when we get to the heavy three degree world, the IPCC estimates there could be 200 million displaced people because of climate change. Actually the world is headed towards very difficult times because of the failure of the high emitter countries to come to terms with the absolute necessity that they reduce their emissions.
CO: When Nicaragua made these, made this case, made these arguments and said you weren't going to sign because of that, what was the response in Paris at the summit?
PO: Well we did not want to block what the international community what we wanted to do. So we made our speech after the approval of the of the Paris agreement but then we made it very clear that the voluntary nature of this is the road to failure. And this is not on a road to success, this is on a road to failure.
Second of all we've made it clear we're going to 3.5 degrees is going to undercut the other major agreement may in 2015 which was the 2030 agenda and the sustainable development goals, which in which the world commits to more water, more food, more nutrition, more health, and less poverty but with the three degree world, the international organizations themselves are telling us we're going to have less water, less food, more malnutrition. We're going to have more disease, more death and disease. And this is going to hit very hard the economies of many countries with fragile economies and will produce large amounts of refugees who will move north. So I think that the developed countries should think this through, think through the consequences of not assuming their responsibilities now are going to be?
CO: What do you think about Canada’s record on greenhouse gas emissions?
PO: Well, Canada left the Kyoto agreement as you know, and they returned to the meeting, to the co-process. Canada has 2 percent of the world's emissions. It's among the top ten. It would be wonderful that a candidate would take a leadership role among them because it has the ability to do so I think, it has very good international relations. And to take a leadership role in here so as to plan necessity of reducing the [unintelligible] for 2030 from 55 to below 35. With that we could put the lid on a 1.5 degree temperature change in this century, and save the world from a lot of grief, of death destruction massive migrations, and disease. But to do that it's going to take very strong measures to take the world very swiftly to a genuinely low carbon economy and to massive capture of greenhouse gases via the reforestation of degraded land.
CO: Minister Oquist, we appreciate your time. Thank you.
PO: Thank you very much.
JD: Paul Oquist is the minister of national policy and private secretary to the Nicaraguan president. We reached him in Managua.
Adam West obituary
JD: On Friday, the world lost a superhero, or at least the human who ironically – and ironically – portrayed one on TV.
Actor Adam West portrayed the Caped Crusader in the campy and hugely popular TV series that from 1966 to 1968. And the presence he brought to that role – the physique, the baritone voice, the wit – remained a constant in roles he played over the rest of his long career.
Over the weekend, Mr. West's family announced that he had died of leukaemia. He was 88 years old.
On June 15 of 1967, Adam West spoke to the CBC's Tony Thomas in Hollywood. Here's part of that conversation, from our archives.
TONY THOMAS: Here in Gotham City, Batman is taking time out from his arduous defense of the law and justice to have a bite to eat. That man is of course Adam West and I'm surprised to find that he has to eat.
ADAM WEST: I’m human like anyone else.
TT: I'm much relieved to hear that.
AW: I know there are a few people who think I'm superhuman but let me tell you that's not true.
TT: Can you understand the enormous success of this show?
AW: Well I suppose as well as anyone can analyze or understand success in its purest form, I guess it's not too definitive that there are always those mysterious elements or essences that contribute to success in this business especially. I think we just got pretty lucky. There's a great deal of thought however I don't want to negate that. A great deal of thought that goes into it and a lot of production and the talent of a large number of people. I don't think anyone thought that it would take off quite to this extent.
TT: You know it's been baffling, probably still is baffling to a lot of the audience why we've had such a success.
AW: I think it points to the enormous desire we have for real heroes in the world today. I think the kids really want to have a hero.
TT: Well the show is you, I'm sure realize appeals to audience on a number of levels. The fanciful bizarre comedic aspects appeal to the adults, and some of the even nuttier aspects appeal to the college group, teenagers. And of course the action, the color, the excitement the fact that its heroes and villains. The people in Gotham City are so really nutty. I think appeals to the children and I think your point that the world hasn't had a really legendary fictional visual character in a long time has contributed a great deal of success with younger people and children.
JD: From our archives, that was Adam West, best known for portraying Batman in the sixties. He was speaking to Tony Thomas on CBC Radio back in 1967. Adam West died on Friday. He was 88 years old.
JD: "Not for the claustrophobic."
That is how one person described the situation to the Associated Press – a nerve-wracking rescue that happened on Alaska's Mount Denali last week. A man fell at least a dozen metres down a crack in a glacier barely wide enough to fit his body. And the rescue took more than half a day.
B.C. paramedic Stephan Peters was on a climbing holiday with a friend when he was asked to help out. Here's part of what he told the CBC about what happened:
So we were talking to the Rangers. You know, what can we do to kind of minimize the hypothermia? Because he's been down in the glacier kind of stuck between the ice. We don't really know trauma-wisee what was wrong with him but we knew that you know the conditions that he was stuck between ice for at least 10, 11 hours now you know in the freezing cold. So we're just kind of discussing what we could do to kind of minimize that.
And then another ranger went down the other side and was pouring hot water kind of on his feet. Because his snowshoes were still on actually and the snow shoes were underneath, kind of he was trapped underneath the ice and they couldn't pull him up because the snow shoes were kind of preventing him to come up. But no one can get to the snow shoes. So the only way to kind of get his snow shoes free was to pour hot water.
So there was another gentleman, another ranger, I think a volunteer ranger who was boiling water and they were just passing it down on the line and then pouring the hot water on his boots and on his snow shoes. So yes we brought a stove with us so we started boiling water as well.
We hooked up lines and we, you know we started lowering people down and pulling people up. And I think if we were on the glacier for at least two three hours until one of the rangers on the side of the caravan, that you know pulled on the patients line. So there were three or four of us and we started pulling on the patient’s line and they actually got them free for the first time in I think 12 hours. It took at least 45 minutes till he came to the surface but they wiggled him up up to the surface eventually. They got his snow shoes off and that was I think the biggest thing.
And then once he got to the surface we you know we discussed what was going to happen once he got there. And you know, they had evac bags so it's just like a big air kind of back board. We had it a sleeping bag and a sled and a whole bunch of first aid gear. We brough first aid gear, they had the park's first aid gear. There was another paramedics from the Anchorage fire department. I'm not sure if he was working at the time or if he was a volunteer as well but he was there as well.
JD: That was B.C. paramedic Stephan Peters speaking yesterday. The man that Mr. Peters helped rescue was flown to a hospital in Alaska. The hospital told a CBC producer in Vancouver earlier today that he remains in stable condition.
CBC would like to acknowledge the support of the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund.