Friday December 01, 2017

November 30, 2017 episode transcript

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The AIH Transcript for November 30, 2017

Hosts: Helen Mann and Jeff Douglas



HELEN MANN: Hello I'm Helen Mann.

JEFF DOUGLAS: Good evening. I'm Jeff Douglas. This is as it happens.


A hidden agenda exposed. Ian Bush has already been convicted of three murders and as an Ottawa jury considers another conviction. Newly revealed evidence shows a familiar name on one of his hit lists. Our own Carol Off.

JD: It all came crashing down. The Ontario coroner announces an inquest into the death of the man in a Toronto stage collapse. And tonight we'll hear from another victim. Nearly met the same fate.

HM: A big splash with no ripple effect. a wave of sexual misconduct accusations has brought down a growing number of famous men. But women working outside showbiz or are still suffering in silence.

JD: Cold comfort. A few years ago the ice bucket challenge raised more than 200 million dollars for research into ALS. This weekend, the man who inspired that challenge died of the disease. He spent 14 years fighting going out with a limb.

HM: Our guest campaign to bring the 500 year old former Catholic Saint Francis Xavier to Canada and When that sacred relic goes on a cross-country tour she'll be close at hand.

JD: And...A generous project that's all about being a little shellfish. At the Brooklyn Public Library you can learn about the quiet courage of utterly spineless creatures by visiting the smallest mollusk museum. As It Happens: The Thursday edition. Radio that knows learning about mollusks in school is like snails on a chalkboard.

[Music: Theme]

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Part 1: Ian Bush Case: Reporter, Ian Bush Case: Carol Off, Sexual Harassment Follow, St. Francis Xavier Forearm

Ian Bush Case: Reporter

Guest: Gary Dimmock

JD: As we go to air a jury in Ottawa is considering whether to convict a man by the name of Ian Busch of the attempted murder of a retired civil servant. Mr. Bush is already serving concurrent life sentences for murdering three people in a home invasion in 2007. Before the jurors left the court, the Crown prosecutor told them that quote "This was just the start." He was referring to lists that police found in Mr. Bush's home — hit lists — a long one and a short one. And the name at the top of the long list belongs to the host of this program, Carol Off. Carol's away today at an event but we will hear from her in a moment. First though, Gary Dimmock is the Ottawa Citizen reporter who broke the story.

HM: Gary Dimmock what can you tell us about these lists and why Carol's name was on one of them?

GARY DIMMOCK: Don't know why her name was on them but with Ian Bush he had an obsession. And he had a deep-seated hatred for several institutions and some personalities. And hers was the only recognizable name on the long list, in fact, it was the number one entry. And there was also a short list, and the shortlist was whittled down and fewer names but more information about that potential targets, including two Ottawa judges right down to home addresses.

HM: Was Carol on the short list too?

GD: She was only on the long list.

HM: And you say he had addresses on the short list for all the people on there?

GD: On the short list for some of the potential targets he had addresses. Not all of them but some of them, including one of the local judges.

HM: And bus routes I hear?

GD: Bus routes that he used to stake out the jobs. And that's borne out in evidence from his presto cards that they got from the city of Ottawa. It shows what time his card was used to go to what location and then leave through the bus routes.

HM: You have been covering this trial. How would you describe Ian Bush's behaviour in the courtroom?

GD: Complete and utter contempt for the court process, for anyone in the so-called position of power or authority. For your listeners, for example, he's not the accused that stands up when the judge comes in the room. In fact, yesterday he was, he was sleeping for part of the morning, lying down in the prisoner's bench. It's kind of like he thinks he's in charge of it all, but at the end of the day he's not. What the jury doesn't know, and I can say this now because they're sequestered is that, he's already been convicted of killing three people, those convictions just in May. So what's interesting about these lists — that a lot of the time people in know politics people in the news business sometimes will have hate mail. It's really different, and to a degree shocking, that this hate mail or these lists are not just drawn from the mad man next door. This is the mad man who's already killed three people, including a judge and went to great detail.

HM: Can you tell us, for those who haven't followed, a little bit more about those crimes and what they tell us about Ian Bush?

GD: The crimes — 2007 three senior citizens. He was involved in a bitter tax fued he had focused much of his rage on retired tax court judge Alban Garon. And he had targeted him and he storms in there he gains entry to the so-called high security building and he is a very strong man. He's brutal, he's thuggish. I think it was only twice in the last 20 years, I've said the details are horrifying, in this case they were actually horrifying. You're talking about three senior citizens who were literally bound and gagged and beaten about the head and then suffocated with plastic bags around their heads, with the judge to send the message, he actually after he placed the suffocation plastic bag over his head, he tightened the hanging men's noose around the judge's neck. Those crimes in Ottawa, terrible, terrible murders, they've gone unsolved for seven years. And it wasn't until this case, the attempted murder, the home invasion of Ernest Côté, a World War II vet, decorated, Normandy invasion went on to be deputy minister two different departments, Canadian Ambassador to Finland — remarkable human being. The way it's come out in court now is that if it had not been for him breaking free from the same death trap that the others succumb to. If not for Ernest Côté saving himself and breaking free and phoning his son first and then the police, after he poked the hole in the bag so he could breathe. And believe it or not the man, who is 101 years old, he sounds muffled on the phone because he's still got the bag around his head and he's breathing and talking through a hole, but he's also muffled because he's left most of the duct tape on his mouth because he doesn't want to disturb the evidence. And this is key evidence because it is the only time that he could recall that Ian Bush had taken off his gloves and had touched that duct tape that he used to shut his mouth.

CO: And if it hadn't been for him preserving that evidence those other crimes might not have been solved.

GD: Had it not been for Ernest Côté — this week you heard the Crown attorney in the in the courthouse saying — had it not been for Ernest Côté saving himself it was, that act that actually saved other unsuspecting victims. And when he was talking about other unsuspecting victims he was directly referring to the hit lists. And he said that the home invasion in 2014 at the decorated war vet’s condo was just the start.

HM: In this trial that's underway now is taking place why, given that he was already convicted of the other killings?

GD: The family of Ernest Côté, I think that's been the main thrust behind the prosecution, is that this man lived a remarkable life and they want to see some form of justice for what happened to Mr. Côté. Ernie Côté actually ended up dying months later from unrelated causes and he recounted about this man with what he called brute force. And he said to the police he said this guy, I think the danger here is that this man is a murderer, because he put a bag over my head and at that point in time in that police interview he wouldn't have known that Ian Bush had in fact already killed three people.

HM: Wow. It's a really scary story. Thank you very much for taking us through all of this.

GD: You're welcome Helen.

HM: All right. Bye, bye.

GD: Bye.

JD: Gary Dimmock is a senior writer for The Ottawa Citizen.

Ian Bush Case: Carol Off

Guest: Carol Off

JD: Carol Off, of course, is the regular host of this program. She is off today for an event, but we reached her in Toronto.

HM: Carol, first of all having heard this how are you?

CAROL OFF: Well, I'm fine. It's not the kind of news you want but it sets the mind rolling over everything to try and understand how it could happen.

HM: Yeah. How did you find out that your name was on this list?

CO: You know, the reporter Gary Dimmock, whom you spoke with, he was very kind. He was going to report on it, he saw the list and he knew as soon as the jury was about to deliberate that he would be filing the story, and so he just quickly tried to scramble and find me to make sure that I knew before I read it or heard about it, which is just so thoughtful. Because, you know, even though this is a guy who has covered crime for 20 years, he knew what it was going to be like for somebody to see their name in this context. It was just so thoughtful of him and that's how I learned, he let me know first.

HM: Can you tell me your instant response, what you felt like when you heard it?

CO: It was somewhere between troubled and gobsmacked. It's something that comes with the territory of being a public person. But I suppose, I mean, the first thing when he sort of gave me more of the details, and he tried to give it to me in a way I'll give it to you, which is that the good news is that you are on the long list and not on the short list, where he had an action plan for the people on his very short list. So I’m on the long list but I'm number one on the long list, which is the bad news. And then the really excellent news, from I guess the point of view of being on any list, is that the man is going to be doing a lot of time and that it's unlikely that he will be out in his lifetime.

HM: Gary Dimmock said that he had no way of knowing why you would have ended up on this long list. Had you ever had any contact with Ian Bush?

CO: Not that I know of. The duration of time of these crimes starts in 2007 when he had the first murders, to the present time he's on trial for this attempted murder of this wonderful vet who was the one who exposed it all or was the one who gave the information that helped them actually catch him. And that spans the duration of time I've been it As It Happens. And so if I did encounter him as a journalist in the field maybe before that, but I’ve been at As It Happens all this time. I didn't interview him or cover the story. But you know what it is Helen. I mean, people like what we do, they don't like what we do. Who can get into the mind of someone like Ian Bush and understand what might take him off?

HM: You mentioned this wonderful war vet Ernest Côté, who managed to escape and preserve this evidence. The Crown is saying that he's saved, not just his own life, but the lives of the other people who were listed. What do you think?

CO: That was really so touching when I read that, that the Crown said had it not been for Ernest Côté and being so on top of things. Being 101 years old — I'll be lucky to be alive — let alone so capable of handling myself, escaping from something and doing all the things that Ernest Côté did. But yes, this is a man according to the Crown, had he not been able to tie this together and to see Ian Bush caught and convicted, the likelihood is that he would start working his way down the list.

HM: Well, Carol it's always good to talk with you, and especially so today. Thank you for joining us on your show.

CO: Thank you. And thank you for being on our show.

HM: OK, bye, bye.

CO: Bye, bye.

JD: Carol Off is, of course, the regular host of this program. She is not at work today but we reached her in Toronto.

[Music: 90s Pop]

Sexual Harassment Follow

Guest: Barbara Ehrenreich

JD: Matt Lauer, Garrison Keillor, Charlie Rose, Al Franken, Louis C.K., Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein — the list goes on and on. The floodgates have opened and for the last month stories of sexual misconduct by high profile men have come pouring out. And there have been consequences. Many accused abusers have seen their reputations tarnished. They've lost lucrative contracts, and in Mr. Weinstein's case at least, they have become the subject of criminal investigations. But while change could be coming to the entertainment industry, what about those who work in occupations that don't make the front page? Barbara Ehrenreich is the founder of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project. We reached her in Alexandria Virginia.

HM: Ms. Ehrenreich, it seems that every day there are new allegations of sexual harassment against a high profile, powerful man. How much has changed for women in industries that aren't as glamorous?

BARBARA EHRENREICH: Well, I don't think anything has changed yet in any industry, except for those places where women harassers were actually removed. But completely left out of the discussion is the situation of relatively low-wage women in less glamorous occupations — healthcare workers and housekeepers, other domestic workers, waitresses. The food service industry is a cesspool of sexual harassment. It's so routine, it barely registers it never — you know these are not women who have lawyers they can turn to sue, or who who have friends in high places who can help to get attention.

HM: How pervasive is it? What does research show about the impact this has on those industries?

BE: It's high, I’m talking about 70, even in the case of women and agricultural workers 88 per cent. They're shockingly high numbers.

HM: Can you share some stories of women in those lines of work, the kind of behaviors that they are having to deal with?

BE: Well, I can remember from my own experiences when I was working on my book Nickel and Dimed, on low wage occupations in America, and it sort of was normalized. People would say “Oh never go into the dry storage room with Ralph, or whomever.” Or watch out for such and such, a supervisor. You know, it but it was very, very hard to think of how you would protect yourself. Yes sometimes you do have to be alone in a room with some man who you don't know and have no reason to trust.

HM: When you're talking about say cleaners working at hotels. What is there to protect them?

BE: Well, you know, that's a very vulnerable occupation — hotel housekeepers — because they go into the room they knock on the door say housekeeping. They come in and then they may well be alone in a room with a male guest and that's where unpleasant things can happen. The most famous case of all is the case of Dominique Strauss-Kahn the former IMF head. But this is so pervasive that two cities now — New York and Seattle — are requiring that hotel housekeepers carry with them at all times a panic button they can press when they perceive that they're going to need help.

HM: So if it's gotten to the point where those cities have taken that kind of action, why don't we know more about this? Why aren't we hearing more of these stories?

BE: Well, one reason is that women seldom bring charges. And as far as I can understand, the big reason is not having the resources to do it. By resources I mean access to a lawyer and legal fees and so on. But also if you paid only say eight to 12 dollars an hour you probably would not be able to survive just three or four weeks it would take minimally to get a new job and a new paycheck. You've got to have some kind of buffer to do that. And if you're really low paid you don't have that buffer.

HM: Given what's happening in these high profile industries. Is there any chance that women in these less glamorous occupations might benefit from the conversation taking place right now?

BE: Oh yes, I think it certainly is reaching women in all kinds of occupations. It doesn't take any effort to start a conversation. But in order to give those voices a chance to be heard I think we need to create some safe spaces where working class women can speak up about what they're experiencing. They don't have those right now.

HM: And they're really not getting their stories told in public forums like the media either.

BE: That's right, they’re just not, and that's what bothers me. I mean, that's next step we have to take because the majority of working women are not movie stars. But obviously in some collective way of being heard. Just raising your hand and saying ‘this happened to me’ is not enough because you will be just pounced on at that point.

HM: A lot of people have been saying that this is a watershed moment for women in the workplace. Do you see any real long last change coming out of these high profile stories?

BE: That's what I'm trying to do. And the Economic Hardship Reporting Project — that's what we're trying to do — is broaden this deepen this, and I can't say how that will turn out. But I know that there are a lot of women waiting to be listened to.

HM: Is this a positive moment despite the painful stories we're hearing?

BE: I think so, I really do. I mean, we've had some remarkable things happen in the United States in the last year, one of which was the women's march. And that activated women all over the country. Women went back to wherever they came from and started working with other women collectively in the age of Trump. Then when this came along, starting with Harvey Weinstein, there were just so many women willing and eager to stand up and talk about it.

HM: And yet the president of the United States is himself accused by I believe 13 women and he's still in office and nothing seems to have come from that.

BE: Not yet. No that's the sickening aspect of this whole thing.

HM: If there's a woman listening to us right now who is in a low wage job, who is being harassed or sexually abused, what is your message to her?

BE: Oh hold on sister. There are a lot of us out there who want to help and want to work with you.

HM: Barbara Ehrenreich, I really appreciate you taking time to talk with us today. Thank you very much.

BE: Oh my pleasure.

HM: All right.

BE: Bye.

HM: Bye.

JD: Barbara Ehrenreich is the founder of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project and the author of Nickel and Dimed: On Not Getting By in America. We reached Ms. Ehrenreich in Alexandria, Virginia.

[Music: Guitar Strums]

St. Francis Xavier Forearm

Guest: Angèle Regnier

JD: Next month an enormously important figure will be touring part of Canada — or perhaps more accurately — part of an enormously important figure will be touring Canada. The 500-year-old severed right arm of Catholic St. Francis Xavier will be embarking on a 14 city pilgrimage. It is considered miraculous that despite its age the arm has supposedly failed to decompose. Angèle Regnier is the co-founder of Catholic Christian Outreach. She lobbied to bring the arm to Canada and will be traveling with it. We reached Ms. Regnier in Ottawa.

HM: Ms. Regnier, what's it like for you as a Catholic to see this relic up close?

ANGELE REGNIER: It's really quite astonishing because this relic is incorrupt. So I don't know if many people out there would know what an incorrupt saint or incorrupt relic is, but it means that the body of this this person has not decomposed in the natural process, it remains there. It doesn't look like human flesh exactly because it's not alive but the flesh has not decomposed.

HM: When you look at it what do you see?

AR: Well, at first glance if you're far away it just looks like the skeleton of an arm because it's kind of sunken in and the skin is kind of dry. But when you can come closer you can see, oh my goodness there is meat on those bones, this is this is an arm.

HM: And how much of the arm do you have?

AR: We have the forearm so from the elbow to the fingers.

HM: How did it come to be severed from St Francis Xavier's body?

AR: I don't exactly know when they made the decision to remove his forearm. But you have to imagine it is 500 years ago, so everyone's kind of claiming fame to the connection with St. Francis because he was very famous. So somehow the agreement was made for the arm to go to the mother church in Rome. And it's his right arm, so it’s the arm that he would have baptized and healed and done all the amazing things with.

HM: Where did the idea come from for bringing this severed arm to tour Canada?

AR: So it came about through just conversations with our Archbishop Terry is a Jesuit, he knows how much we appreciate St. Francis, and we've been to Rome with him on several occasions at the Gesù church in Rome where the relic is normally, and he's said to me “Angele you should ask for the arm of Francis Xavier to come to Canada for a visit?” And I'm like “they'll never let us take that Archbishop” and he's like “Oh look it happens” and I'm like “why would they listen to me?” Why would they listen? So our 30th anniversary is coming up in October of 2013. So I just sent kind of a wild email to the Archbishop and said “Hey you've had this idea, our 30th is coming. Maybe if you asked, being a Jesuit and being a bishop, maybe they would release the arm.” And so that's the only reason we got it for sure is because he asked.

HM: Let's get into the logistics of this. What's involved in bringing this forearm, this relic to Canada and getting it across the country on this tour?

AR: So we have this — we are very nervous about first of all exposing it to the cold of Canada. I enlisted some women to make me a coat for him. But in the end I don't think I need to make him a parka but the the Jesuits in Rome have this, it's kind of like a big duffel bag maybe. It's filled with foam and it has a little spot in the middle where you can snuggle in the the Plexiglas in which the arm is in and then it covers up with foam again it's got a layer and it's got another layer. So we can pack it around in this thing but, you know, we had to get its own seat on the plane.


HM: You can't put it in the belly of the plane?

AR: No we can put it underneath, we can't even put it in the overhead bins, he has to have his own seat. So it's like, OK, you're trying to explain this to Air Canada. OK. So we need we need to book a seat. You know, he is a person in a way, but it's a person.


HM: What kind of response did you get?

AR: Well, luckily we talked to some — the Archbishop had friends who worked with Air Canada that could connect us to another person — so they were people of faith that weren't completely weirded out what we were saying. But I was imagining trying to have this phone call with a travel agent and they're like what are you doing?

HM: But you're also going to have to carry a duffel bag with a severed arm through airport security.

AR: Yes, yes. So actually Air Canada is being awesome. They're going to help us make all the connections with the security checkpoints to let them know ahead of time “we're coming on this flight with these people, we have this thing, we have the paperwork from Rome, the paperwork from Italy, the paperwork from the Vatican.” And we'll be doing our best to work through all those things people know what's coming in that it's approved.

HM: Now as a Catholic this is for you a sacred object of course. But is there anything that strikes you as unusual about touring the country with a severed arm?


AR: I think it probably should strike me as unusual but because I have, so many times, gone to visit the relic at Gesu in Rome, and I have such a great admiration for St. Francis Xavier it's — for me it's not weird, for me it's like — I mean, I know it's bones but connected to that is a living friendship with St. Francis Xavier. So for me it's like doing a road trip with a friend. I feel like we're going to go and that people across Canada are going to be really blessed by the experience.

HM: What's the first stop?

AR: Ottawa. The arm is coming to Toronto brought by a Canadian Jesuit, who is director of the Pontifical Biblicum in Rome and Archbishop Terry will pick it up in Toronto. And then we will make our big debut at our Rise Up conference, which is our movements national conference, which happens to be in Ottawa this year. We'll have like eight hundred to a thousand university students — so that'll be the big kick off. And then once that conference is done we will have to Quebec City on January 2nd.

HM: I appreciate you talking with us about it and I hope it's all you want it to be. Thank you very much.

AR: Thank you.

HM: OK bye, bye.

AR: Bye, bye.

JD: Angèle Regnier is the co-founder of Catholic Christian outreach. We reached her in Ottawa. And you can see some photographs of St. Francis’ arm our website:

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Part 2: Toronto Stage Collapse, Mollusk Museum

Toronto Stage Collapse

Guest: Brian Collins

JD: For the victims of the collapse the latest court ruling may have felt like the end of the road. A few months ago and Ontario court judge stayed charges in the case of a massive stage collapse at a Radiohead concert in 2012 in Toronto. Today though, there was a glimmer of hope — Ontario's coroner will launch an inquest into the death of Scott Johnson, the drum technician who was killed in that collapse. Mr. Johnson was not the only victim in the stage collapse that day. Brian Collins. a stage rigger was nearly killed, he still lives with long term injuries. He's speaking to the media for the first time since the stage collapse. We reached Brian Collins in Miami.

HM: Mr. Collins, this coroner's inquest could provide some new insights for Scott Johnson's family. Are you hoping you will get some answers too?

BRIAN COLLINS: I do hope there's some answers that are found. Any kind of new answers or new revelations would be a fantastic thing for sure.

HM: What are the questions, for you, that way most heavily?

BC: Well, I'd like to know exactly where the chain of command broke down. What process happened? Who made decisions and what decisions were made? Why they were made and when they were made?

HM: There were charges laid against Live Nation, Optics Stagings and an engineer. But because of the time it was taking for the case to get to court they were stayed by the Ontario Court judge this September. In the absence of those charges is there any sense of justice that a coroner's inquest could provide?

BC: It depends on what information we're allowed to know. It seems to be everything else is being withheld within this case so far. The case has been, I guess, thrown out. And nobody seems to be being held accountable at this point. It's a travesty of justice as far as I'm concerned. A young man has perished, he's had no voice so far. Nothing is being done for him at this time.

HM: You were directly affected by the stage collapse. You were right there when it happened. Can you take us back to the day June 16th 2012? What were you doing just before the collapse occurred?

BC: Well, right before the collapse occurred myself and the head rigger received a radio transmission to come up on stage to investigate the upstage, what was called the “bottlewall.” And it seemed like it was a trim for a while and it was touching the floor. So we were called to find out what was — to survey situation. Jules Gromer, he went up stage left to where, I guess, the motor control was and I went down stage right towards the drumkit to get a better view of the whole situation. I heard someone yell really loud. I don't know what they yelled. I just heard a loud yell and then I heard something that sounded like it broke and in my head. I heard something just like ‘go’ and I turned around and I ran I jump off the end of the stage. I literally ran for greener pastures and jumped off the end of the stage.

HM: As you were running and jumping what did you see around you?

BC: In my peripheral vision it looked like things were melting, literally looked like someone put a Hershey's chocolate bar in a cup and melted it in a microwave and threw it on the wall. It just things started to seem like it's melting on the side. I couldn't see anything other than the green field ahead of me at that point.

HM: What's the last thing you remember?

BC: I remember jumping off the stage and sort of being in midair and, I guess, at that point a pipe that was fixed to the roof was free falling down and hit me and ahead and drove me into the ground like the game whack-a-mole. It was tons and tons of weight — heavy tons.

HM: How close did you come to dying that day?

BC: I would say within one inch and one second.

HM: What kind of injuries did you sustain?

BC: I had two broken ankles, I broke my back in two different places, I had three broken ribs, fractured skull and I crushed my right knee.

HM: What were you told about what happened after you were hit and how they got you out of there?

BC: Well, how they found me was the head of security was actually a friend of mine and he said he found me amongst the wreckage underneath the video wall, the video wall was of a couple of feet above me. Luckily that it landed on the stage, if it would have fallen away too, I guess I would have been crushed underneath it. He said he found me thrashing on the ground from side to side and he said that I tried to get up and walk away a couple of times and he kept putting me back on the ground. I don't remember any that part though.

HM: Wow. And you took a long time to recover?

BC: Yes, I was basically in the hospital bed for about four months and then it took me about six months to learn how to walk again. My left ankle is pretty much immobile, I can't move left to right. I have really difficult time walking up inclines or down stairs. I do have some pain in my back, it's really hard for me to lean forward or lay down for really long stretches of time.

HM: You've had a lot of time to process all of this. When you look back do you think about that bottle wall, do you think it hanging too low was a hint that something might have been wrong at that point?

BC: There's so many different possibilities that could have taken place at that point. It may have not been leveled, somebody may have not leveled it correctly. We knew there wasn't level any longer, that's when we knew for sure.

HM: Do you have any answers at this point as to the actual mechanics of what caused the collapse?

BC: Really, I can't even speculate what caused it. Obviously there was a cause, and as far as I'm concerned, there's a negligent cause. It was caused by somebody not following some type of directive. I think everything is preventable that's not an act of God if you are a force majeure. This isn't an accident as far as I'm concerned. I don't believe in accidents that happened here in this place. What their decision was and how they made the decision caused this to take place.

HM: You know, there have been calls for improvements to the safety of events that are staged like this. Are there improvements that can be made in your industry?

BC: There could be more set of a standard for stages and how they're constructed. I'm not a big proponent of aluminum stages. I don't think, for these type of shows, the aluminum style stages should be used, they should all be steel. Steel is a much stronger structure at that point. There are several companies out there that have superior stage designs.

HM: And in this case it was an aluminum stage?

BC: It was an aluminum-style roof, yes.

HM: How do you think that the industry might be regulated to improve the situation?

BC: I think regulation is going to be a very difficult thing to bring into this type of industry. It’s really going to be difficult to have somebody at every single job site watching every single thing that took place. The companies themselves need to hold their employees and themselves into a higher regard —that's a start — when you're putting the stages up in such a short timeframe and into another city, another state, another country.

HM: We are talking to you in Miami, where you've been working as a rigger at Lady Gaga’s concert. What's it like for you to continue doing this work that nearly killed you five years ago?

BC: It's sort of back to work. This is what I've done for 30 years. My father has done this for 30 years before me. Things do happen and I've had to deal with what I had to deal with and I've had to continue on what I had to do in my life. I was always safety conscious but I'm even more so now, I'm checking as many things I can. I walk around the stages, I look at as many different aspects as I can at this point.

HM: Do you think justice will ever come at the end of all of this?

BC: No and there'll be no justice really ever done for us for Scott for sure or his family. They're really the biggest victims in this point. There's going to be nothing that can ever bring that young man back.

HM: Mr. Collins thank you very much for talking with us I really appreciate it.

BC: Would I be able to give a couple of thanks to some people that I would really like show appreciation to?

HM: Sure.

BC: I would like to thank my dad because he really, really went out of his way and helped tremendously through this whole thing for sure. I would like to thank my girlfriend for helping me through those times. I like thank Rita my little guardian angel — I did have a guardian angel that showed up at my hospital in Toronto. My heart goes out to Scott — I mean to Ken and Sue Johnson. I care about you guys very much. I hope you guys can find some peace at some point.

HM: Can I ask if you've spoken with the Scott's parents?

BC: I have, I've become friends with them. I've gone to their house, I’ve toured their little town and Ken and I went out, we've had a couple beers together.

HM: I can really hear now how much of an effect this has had on you.

BC: Yeah, it's a big thing for sure.

HM: Thank you Mr. Collins, you take care.

BC: Thank you, you as well.

HM: All right. Bye, bye.

JD: Brian Collins is a stage rigger who was badly injured in the stage collapse at a Radiohead concert in Toronto in 2012. We reached Mr. Collins in Miami. This story is part of a larger CBC investigative series into how workplace deaths in Canada are handled. And you can find more coverage by going to And you can watch a documentary that aired this week about the Toronto stage collapse on CBC's The National. Go to their website:

[Music: Lo-fi Hip Hop]

Theresa May

JD: It wasn't so very long ago that this next sentence would have been unthinkable and perhaps incomprehensible. But today, British politicians continued to weigh the impact and the irresponsibility of the tweets of the president of the United States of America. Yesterday Donald Trump infuriated the United Kingdom when he retweeted videos associated with the far-right nationalist group Britain First. The unverified contextless anti-Muslim videos purport to show acts of violence committed by Muslims. British prime minister Theresa May gave this response to reporters today from Amman, Jordan during a Middle East tour.


PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY: I'm very clear that retweeting from Britain First was the wrong thing to do.

REPORTER: Prime Minister, would you sack one of your own cabinet ministers if they retweeted right-wing propaganda like Britain First?

TM: I have absolute confidence that my cabinet ministers would not be retweeting material from Britain First. I have to say, just for the avoidance of doubt, I’m not a prolific tweeter myself, as you may have seen. And that means I don't spend all my time looking at other people's tweets, but when I feel that there should be a response I give it, and I've given it to a President Trump’s tweets.

REPORTER: Separate to these tweets, in general, do you think U.S. President is a supporter and enabler of far-right groups?

TM: I think that we must all take seriously the threats that fa-right groups pose, both in terms of the terrorist threat that is posed by those groups, and the necessity of dealing with extremist material which is far-right as well.

JD: British Prime Minister Theresa May speaking to reporters from Amman, Jordan today. And back in Westminster members of parliament held a debate on whether President Trump’s state visit to the UK next year should be cancelled. Today Home Secretary Amber Rudd told her fellow MP the state visit will go on — date to be determined. In order of appearance, here are Labour MPs Chris Bryant, Kevin Brennan and Diane Abbott with their questions to the Home Secretary.


CHRIS BRYANT: I say to the home secretary it's no good saying we've been robust, you've been robust before, it’s not made the blindest bit of difference, he's a repeat offender and it will go on and on and on. You cannot stand up to horrible racism, or pretend to do so, and invite them in through the front door. The Prime Minister, when she was Home Secretary, said homophobes and racists who will stir up hatred in this country will not be allowed in this country. And if they come to this country they'll be arrested. That’s what should happen in this case and the Home Secretary knows it, just say it.

HOME SECRETARY AMBER RUDD: Mr. Speaker, I would say there is no pretence here. We are absolutely clear in the action that we will take against people who propagate hate. This side of the House is committed to the agenda of making sure that we protect the people, we promote British values and I will continue to take that position from here.

KEVING BRENNAN: Mr. Speaker, may I offer the government a way out of the diplomatic ditch that they’re in. Her majesty the Queen, because of her great and very welcome age, has been cutting back on her engagements. She's got a royal wedding to look forward to, and the birth of a new great-grandchild. Don't those facts alone justify the government announcing the postponement of the state visit for at least say, three years.


AR: The dates have not yet been agreed. But thank you for his advice.

DIANE ABBOTT: The Home Secretary will appreciate that on this side of the house we believe the United States is our most important ally. We would anticipate that any British government would want to work closely with the United States on issues of mutual concern. But on the question of the online activities of the 45th president, does the secretary accept that the thought that the 45th president chose to tweet material from Britain First, is not just offensive to British people of Muslim heritage. It is offensive to all decent British people. So whilst we appreciate the importance of realpolitik we would also call on the government to make clear that's in no way does it give any support what so ever to the distasteful views of the 45th president on race and migration and Muslim communities internationally. Because to do anything else would be an affront to voters in this country, whichever side of the house they support.

JD: Those were Labour MPs Diane Abbott, Kevin Brennan and first we heard Chris Bryant, putting questions to Home Secretary Amber Rudd in the UK parliament today.

[Music: Steady Guitar Plucks]

UK House of Commons

Guest: Mark Beaumont

[Music: Trance Bass]

Mollusk Museum

Guest: Amanda Schochet

JD: At the Brooklyn Public Library right now in the building's main lobby there is a structure, but if you blink you might miss it. But if you take a closer look you'll see some words on the side and they will add some intrigue, because those words read Smallest Mollusk Museum. Amanda Schochet is one of the cofounders of the non-profit MICRO, which came up with the idea for the Smallest Mollusk Museum. We reached Ms. Schochet in Oakland, California.

HM: Ms. Schochet, for those who may not have seen the pictures, can you describe what your tiny museum looks like?

AMANDA SCHOCHET: So it is around the size of a vending machine. It's a big white column, it has a hologram in the base right at kids’ eye level that has a mollusk swimming through it. So that's like sea slugs and snails and octopuses, and then above are 15 exhibits that have video screens and 3D-printed sculptures and shells that tell the story of the last 700 million years of life on Earth.

HM: You're calling it the Smallest Mollusk Museum. Is there any other mollusk museum?

AS: Right, as far as we know there isn't. And we looked for a while before we made it because the impetus of this was that I just wanted to go to a mollusk museum to begin with.

HM: Why that? What inspired you to want to go to a mollusk museum?

AS: So my partner who I started with mentioned that he was going to the smallest museum. I thought he said the mollusk museum, and the reason I was really excited about it is that I just moved to New York City, which has a really long history with mollusks. They used to have these enormous oyster beds that actually fed the world with oysters for a while. And I was really excited to learn about New York's history with mollusks and excited to learn about the role that New York’s mollusks are playing in the city's ecosystem today.

HM: So this all started because you misheard him saying smallest?


AS: Yes, my hearing hasn't gotten much better.

HM: Where did you get the artifacts?

AS: So for the most part the artifacts are 3D printed. We worked with a lot of scientists from around the world to make, for example, a 3D print of the octopus brain, which is the first 3D print of that and the first 3D model that now our researchers that we work with are using as well. And then as for the shells and our museum we mainly got them from seafood restaurants.

HM: Really?

AS: Yeah. We figured if they're already available then we should give them a second life.

HM: What kind of response have you had from people who were looking at the exhibits?

AS: Oh, it's been really fun. One guy came up to it and after examining it for a really long time he ran off and he goes “I'm a mollusk person.” Something really resonated with him. People examine things in there that we didn't even expect them to get really excited about it. Like, for example, the hologram has gotten a lot of people to start thinking about how they would make a hologram and to want to figure out how it works and build that for themselves, which is such an extra bonus to me that we're inspiring people to create. And then just starting to feel some empathy for these animals that are so different than us, the museum starts out with this movie theater that shows clips from Alien movies because really like all of the aliens that you think about from the B movies or from any alien movie, they're based on mollusks. They’re these slimy, tentacled creatures that we just have in our nightmares, but they are these animals that are on Earth that we can understand and that we can use to understand ourselves. And watching people go from being grossed out by these aliens or scared of them to starting to really fall in love with them is pretty exciting.

HM: Tell me about the litre of slime?

AS: Yeah. One of our exhibits shows how much slime it would take for a snail to cross the Brooklyn Bridge. And we calculated that it would be a litre. So we have an exhibit in the museum that is just box a liter of slime in it in front of a picture of the Brooklyn Bridge.

HM: The gross out factor must really be something for the kids right?

AS: It's a great gross out moment. It's really fun.

HM: So do you think any bigger museums say, you know the Museum of Natural History, sees you as a threat?

AS: Yeah. On the contrary a lot of museums from around New York, and some around the world, have actually reached out to us to see how we can partner, because they recognize this as a challenge that they have to face, which is that they provide all this great stuff but they're not reaching everyone. There are a lot of people who don't have the time or easy access to their museum or maybe didn't know that they were interested in going there to begin with, and so we can really hope reach more people.

HM: The current museum is a public library, a traditional place for learning. What other locations do you see placing these mini-museums in the coming months and years?

AS: We are really excited to start putting these into even more unexpected places. So we're going to medical care facilities starting this month, and we're going to start going into public transit places, shopping malls, airports, ferry terminals. The big dream is to start putting them in DMVs. Is that a thing thing in Canada as well?

HM: We don't call it that but I know what you mean. It’s where you get your driver's license.

AS: Exactly. So here that's the place where everyone has to go periodically and they are notorious for their wait times. So we think it would be extremely fun to have those in the DMV.

HM: Especially snails.


AS: Yes.

HM: Do you hope to branch out beyond mollusks at some point?

AS: Yes, we are already branching out. We're almost finished with our physics museum, we're prototyping at right now and it will be out in limited release in early 2018. And then we're just starting out on our third series, which will be on chemistry.

HM: I love this idea. Thank you so much for telling us about it.

AS: Thank you.

HM: OK, bye, bye.

AS: Bye.

JD: Amanda Schochet is the co-founder of MICRO, a non-profit that is creating mini museums. We reached her in Oakland, California.

Back To Top »

Part 3: Anthony Senerchia Obit, Weapons Legislation, Yeti Researcher

Anthony Senerchia Obit

Guest: Martin Lalli

JD: We all remember the Ice Bucket Challenge. Back in 2014 those videos of friends and family members dumping buckets of ice water on their heads started to fill up our social media feeds — and they went on for months. What you may not know is that Anthony Senerchia Jr was the inspiration for that campaign. And on Saturday Mr. Senerchia died of ALS. He was 46 years old. Martin Lalli is Mr. Senerchia’s brother-in-law. We reached him in New York City.

HM: Mr. Lalli, first of all, let me say how sorry I am for your loss.

MARTIN LALLI: Thank you, I appreciate that.

HM: What have you been thinking about this week as you remember Anthony?

ML: A lot. I think before anyone knew Anthony was the whole town knew who he was. He grew up in Pelham, New York and he was just very, very involved in his community. You know, he was diagnosed with ALS a couple of weeks after he was married. And prior to that Anthony was just so involved in his community, he started a youth football, he was always coaching. When he was diagnosed he didn't want anybody to know, he didn't want to make about him, he never want to make it about him and he actually went a couple of years with only us, his immediate family, knowing about this.

HM: And that was back in 2003 right?

ML: That was 2003.

HM: What did doctors tell him then about his prognosis?

ML: After going through, probably a couple of months of testing for these odd symptoms he was having —some numbness, some weakness in his arms — he finally said ‘What is going on? You guys are putting me through all these tests. Tell me what's happening.’ They just sat him down and said ‘Listen we're diagnosing you with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease and you have two to five years to live.’

HM: He really outlived that prognosis didn't he?

ML: Yeah, he went almost you know 14 1/2 years so.

HM: We've been hearing how much he was the inspiration for the ice bucket challenge. How did that come about?

ML: It was very organic, it was not anything anybody saw coming or planned. Anthony's wife Jeanette, her cousin's husband is a professional golfer down in Florida, and he just kind of did it as a spoof, as a joke. He dumped the ice bucket over his head, there was something going around on the golf tour where they would do that and they would dump the ice over their head and they would challenge their friends that if they didn't repeat the action they'd have to donate to a charity. When Chris Kennedy did it he had said ‘Jeannette I'm putting this on Facebook and if you don't repeat it you have to donate a hundred dollars to the ALS foundation.’ So he tied it to ALS for the benefit of Anthony. So Anthony’s wife Jeanette, the next day she called and said ‘Come on Chris, I'm not doing that. I'm just going to donate the money.’ He said ‘No, no, you have to do it, it will be fun.’ So Jeanette did it and she kind of tagged three people saying ‘you three people if you don't repeat the action you have to donate 100 dollars to either the ALS Foundation or Anthony’s Foundation — Anthony was starting a foundation a not for profit foundation — and it just it just exploded from that moment on, we couldn't believe it. And there were literally thousands and thousands of videos within two weeks. We would stay up all night watching it.

HM: Some of those people were — some of the biggest celebrities in the world took part — certainly in the United States. What did that mean to Anthony you see that unfold the way it did and take off?

ML: You know, it meant everything to him because he didn't want to get into his illness, he didn’t want to make it about him and then his brothers talked him into doing a softball charity tournament two years after he was diagnosed. This is way before the ice bucket challenge and he said ‘OK but only if the money was donated to Columbia Presbyterian ALS fund,’ which was the hospital where he received his care. And hundreds and hundreds of people from the town would show up. And people love that thing in that community, as I was telling you earlier, about his charitable work and they wanted to help and everyone felt so hopeless. They were seeing him deteriorate from their eyes, there was nothing anyone could do. But when this ice bucket challenge started people just rode the train and they said now we could finally do something we can bring an awareness, everybody saw the donations coming in the news station’s coming to Anthony's house. His daughter’s friends who are sometimes intimidated by him because he was having a hard time talking anymore, we're learning about ALS and there was all this money being donated to the ALS Foundation.

HM: 200 million dollars from that ice bucket challenge. Tell us what he felt about that and what he hoped would be done with that money?

ML: You're asking what he hoped, what I hoped was that there would be a cure — a cure to help him. Anthony always said that ‘Hopefully there’s going to be a cure for this, but it's going to be too late for me. It's not going be for me it can be for someone else.’ And that's kind of in a capsule how he thought — someone else, someone else, someone else — this was going to help all these other people behind me who are going to have this disease. We were holding out hope it would be for him, but he felt that would lead to something, hopefully, at some point for the next for the people behind him. He thought it was too late for him.

HM: Yeah. You've spoken about what a big heart Anthony had and how many people loved him. Can you share one memory that you'll carry forward?

ML: I have a lot of memories. I shared I shared one story with your producer earlier and it's something I never told anyone — I never even told my wife. My wife is Anthony's wife's sister — I never told his wife. Me and him were at a casino once and this was probably a year before he was diagnosed. He finally won at the blackjack table, which wasn't always the case for him. He won like seven or eight hundred dollars and me and him were going home that evening and we stopped at a gas station outside the casino and there was a small family sitting out front, it was actually a woman and daughter probably like probably about 12 years old, and they were pretty obviously homeless. And Anthony walked up to them and goes ‘Do you need anything?’ they said ‘Can you get us something to eat?’ And he goes ‘Here just take this’ and he gave them $500, and I give him a hard time. I said ‘Anthony are you nuts? You don’t know if they’re pulling a hustle.’ And he said ‘Come on they clearly need help, they just need a chance.’ And like, I said I gave him a hard time, I gave him a hard time for years but then when I saw how he handled everything with his foundation, how he handled stuff for the ice bucket challenge it made sense, it’s just the way he thought.

HM: That's a beautiful memory.

ML: He was a jokester, a prankster and we had a lot of good times with that. There's a lot of stories — some that probably shouldn't be told.

HM: Before I let you go, I understand that the original bucket Anthony's wife's Jeanette used has ended up somewhere pretty special.

ML: Yeah, it was it was donated to the Smithsonian, Natural History in Washington D.C.

HM: That's amazing.

ML: Yeah.

HM: Well, again our condolences to you and to the rest of Anthony's family and friends. Thank you for sharing your memories with us.

ML: Thank you, I appreciate the time.

HM: All right. Good bye.

JD: Martin Lalli’s brother-in-law Anthony Senerchia was the man who inspired the ALS ice bucket challenge. Mr. Senerchia died Saturday. He was 46 years old. We reached Mr. Lalli in New York and he asked us to share this information about his brother-in-law's foundation with you. You can donate to the Anthony Senerchia Jr ALS Charitable Foundation at All proceeds go to families diagnosed with ALS and to ALSresearch.

[Music: Somber Tones]

Alberta Marijuana

Guest: Professor Kenneth Catania

JD: When it comes to the legalization of marijuana in Canada we have heard a lot of concerns. Some people feel it will cause public harm. Others are worried there isn't enough time to train police officers about the new laws. Alberta MLA Ron Orr however, has concerns that heretofore have not been expressed. The United Conservative Party politician says legalizing marijuana in Canada could lead to a communist revolution similar to the one in China. He made this suggestion yesterday in the Alberta Legislature.


RON ORR: But here's the thing about the opium trade in China in the early days. It began as a medical thing. Then it started to become something that was a fashionable, refined pastime, especially among the young. We have today, a fashionable, refined pastime amongst the young, which is smoking marijuana. And unfortunately now it leads to other things that are much more dangerous and much more destructive. It wasn't until the 1950s that China began to seriously eradicate the opium trade, the opium business, the opium tax revenue and all of these wonderful things that are supposed to be generated from recreational use of drugs. They actually got so serious about it — their whole society was so broken down and debilitated by it — that it contributed to the Chinese Cultural Revolution under the Communists. The execution of thousands of people, dealers were executed, fields were plowed under and planted with real food and, I for one, am not really willing to go down this road. The human tragedy of what's going to happen with this has yet to be revealed. Yes, opium smoking like marijuana was a fashionable, refined pastime especially among the young. But I'll tell you something it doesn't lead to the good life, it's an escape. When you sit in a drug rehab centre and you talk with the people and they're shaking and they're afraid and they can't hold a job and they can't go to work and they know they don't have the mental capacity or the physical capacity to even function in life and they can't look after their children — you tell me how that makes a good society. Thank you.

JD: That was Alberta MLA Ron ORR, an MLA for the United Conservative Party speaking in the Alberta legislature yesterday. In response to Mr. Orr’s comments, NDP MLA Michael Connolly tweeted quote “I doubt he has the grasp on reality that most people have” unquote. He later added quote “It was a very odd morning.”

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Weapons Legislation

Guest: Andrew Stobo Sniderman

JD: The Trudeau government says that bill C-47 will shed more light on Canada's booming international arms sales. Andrew Stobo Sniderman says that if the legislation were serious about transparency it would remove the secrecy that cloaked sales to our single biggest client — the US. Mr. Sniderman served as human rights adviser to Stephen Dion when he was the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He now works at the University of Ottawa’s Human Rights Research and Education Centre, and that is where we reached him.

HM: Mr. Sniderman, what kind of military hardware are we selling to the United States right now, and how much?

ANDREW STOBO SNIDERMAN: Well we don't know how much, which is exactly the problem. And as the rules right now Canada doesn't even count all the weapons we sell abroad. And that's because, as you said, we don't count ourselves the United States and often these weapons go to very questionable characters. So to the people listening to this interview, whether you're driving your car home or chopping your vegetables, my question is very simple. Does it bother you that Canada is selling lethal weapons abroad and we're not even bothering to keep track of what and how many?

HM: Explain to us why it is that we don't track or announce publicly what weaponry we are sending to the United States, why is that?

AS: Well, I think that the main reason is a reason we have to take seriously, which is that it's to maximize trade, it's to maximize investment. You know, one of my best friends growing up was an engineer who worked for Bell Helicopter in Montreal, which is funded by American military contracts, and it's no secret that for many Canadians defense spending puts food on their table, it pays their bills. But my point is very simple, which is that surely we can at least count what we're selling and then we can at least have an informed debate about whether Canada's comfortable with the state of our arms industry.

HM: The United States is Canada's number one ally, we talk about that all the time. Why should we be worried about them buying our military hardware? Why should we worry about what they do with it?

AS: Right. Well, the United States is our best ally but they're also the number one arms dealers in the world. And they're often very happy to give those weapons to some very questionable characters who seem quite useful at the time. People kill people but Canadian weapons kill people too. And we have a responsibility I think to at least know what we're selling, how much and where it's going.

HM: Can you give us an example of an instance where the Americans may have sold Canadian military hardware somewhere else that we might question?

AS: Right. Well, one example is Canada is making engines for a war plane that is being sold in a very large quantity to Nigeria. And earlier this year Nigeria bombed a refugee camp and killed and injured hundreds of people. This is just one example where questions may be raised, but the larger point is that we don't know what we don't know. We're not even counting what we're selling and so Canadians may be comfortable with how things are, but if you don't know you're very unlikely to care.

HM: So for you this is a question of the information we have about the decisions being made, it's not an arms control argument?

AS: Well, I think I'm making a very basic and simple point, which is that our debate has to start from knowing what we're actually selling. And then from there we have to trust Canadians are going to make the right decision about the balance to be struck. And the law is being rewritten right now by parliamentarians so now is the time for constructive criticism, there is time to fix. And I think the fundamental starting point is counting what we sell.

HM: You mentioned having a friend who worked for a company that has been funded by the US military industry. Canada and the United States have what's basically a free trade deal governing the arms sector — they have since the 1950s. Given the state of manufacturing in this country what do you think people who are making, say light armoured vehicles, might think of your proposal?

AS: I'm not interested in passing judgment on those people. I think we have to take seriously that these kinds of jobs do put food on the table. But at the same time I think Canadians should have some responsibility for our involvement in the arms trade. And I think there must be a way to find a way to count what we're selling without unduly affecting trade. It's not so different from the asbestos trade. For a long time Canada sold a lot of asbestos. The Canadian government promoted that and over time with an informed debate potentially Canada changes the way we behave.

HM: This is, as you know, a pretty sensitive time for Canada when it comes to trade relations with the United States. I mean, how do you think it would go over with Donald Trump if Canada were to start reviewing his decisions to sell military equipment to Nigeria or jets to Saudi Arabia?

AS: Well, the United States can make their own decisions. What I'm suggesting is just for Canada to keep track of what we're selling to the United States so that we know our role in this industry. We should be able to find a consensus that reporting what we know is a reasonable thing to ask and Canadians deserve to know that to actually make an informed decision about what we're comfortable with.

HM: But is the next step of that not potentially denying those sales of equipment to the United States if we see that they may send them somewhere that we are questioning?

AS: I think that will be up for a Canadian to decide — parliamentarians to decide — it's up to every government to decide. And right now we don't know the facts and that seems to me to be a fundamental problem with the way our system works.

HM: All right Mr. Sniderman thank you.

AS: Thank you.

JD: Andrew Stobo Sniderman is a visiting researcher at the University of Ottawa’s Human Rights Research and Education Centre. He served as an advisor to Stephen Dion when he was Minister of Foreign Affairs. We reached Mr. Sniderman in Ottawa.

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Yeti Researcher

Guest: Stephanie Gill

JD: For centuries people have reported sightings of the elusive Yeti. Their footprints have been spotted, stories of encounters with them have been passed from one generation to another. And yet there are those who do not believe the Yeti actually exists, despite overwhelming anecdotal evidence that the giant ape-like creatures have long been living large in the high mountains of Asia. So recently scientists at the State University of New York Buffalo, decided the subject was worthy of research so they studied samples that were said to have come from Yeti's to see where they originated. You won't believe what they discovered — for a second — and then you'll totally believe it. Stephanie Gill co-authored this study which can be found in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. We reached Ms. Gill in Buffalo.

HM: Ms. Gill, what were some of these Yeti specimens that you looked at?

STEPHANIE GILL: Well it was a combination of hair, skin, fecal sample, bone, tooth — one was collected by nomadic herdsmen. One was a dried paw or hand from a monastery. Another sample was from the Messner Mountain Museum, and then we also had a number of additional samples that were already thought to be there.

HM: And how did you acquire them?

SG: So our nine Yeti samples were brought to us by the Icons Film company. They approached us because they were interested to see if a DNA analysis of these samples would tell them more about this myth and if it could do something to resolve the myth or to eliminate it. And we had thought that it was possible that these samples were from local bears. So we saw this as an opportunity to explore and expand our evolutionary knowledge of these local bears.

HM: So were the samples from Yeti?

SG: No, They were all from local bears, with the exception of a tooth that was from a dog.

HM: How did a dog tooth get into the mix?

SG: So actually, the dog tooth is particularly interesting because it was part of a quote unquote ‘stuffed Yeti’ from the Messner Mountain Museum. And we also took some hair from this cobbled taxidermy and the hair that we collected was actually Tibetan brown bear, but the tooth was dog.

HM: So it was kind of a mash up?


SG: Yes, somebody was having a bit of a laugh there I think.

HM: What did you think you were going to find when you headed into the study?

SG: We thought we would discover that many of these samples were bear but we didn't know. So that has been very interesting to discover what these different samples are.

HM: And there were a variety of bears as I understand it. How different were they?

SG: Right. So it wasn't just one bear, It was Himalayan brown bears, Tibetan brown bears and Himalayan black bear. And we sequenced the first mitochondrial genome of the Himalayan black bear and Himalayan brown bear to date.

HM: Why hasn't there been more research on these bears in the past or more knowledge about them?

SG: So the samples are very difficult to get hold of because the populations in the area are so small, they're critically endangered. I think that the Himalayan brown bear only numbers 300s, which is enormously small. So it's difficult to encounter these bears too, which sort of plays into the myth in some ways that perhaps when people were encountering Yeti’s they were really just encountering a bear and they hadn't encountered a bear before.

HM: What have you learned through this then about the evolutionary history of these Asian bears?

SG: So one of the coolest things that I think we've learned about these bears is that the Himalayan brown bear is actually representative of a very ancient lineage of brown bears. It diverged from other brown bears more than 300,000 years ago, so it's been isolated in this area for a very long time. And actually, prior to the study it was thought that the Himalayan brown bear and the Tibetan brown bear might actually be more closely related because the Himalayan brown bear is to the west of the Himalayan mountains and the Tibetan brown bear is to the east of the Himalayan mountains. And while they are separated by this mountain range, it was thought that it was possible that one population colonised the other. However, what are results now show is that these two populations the Tibetan and the Himalayan brown bears are actually very genetically dissimilar from each other.

HM: Beyond that genetics are they obviously distinct?

SG: Yes, visually they're very distinct. The Himalayan brown bear is kind of a warmer, lighter shade of brown and Tibetan brown bear is darker brown has a distinctive white collar around its neck and shoulders. These two brown bears are also smaller than our typical grizzly bears that we tend to think of in North America.

HM: So now that you have this information do you think that the science somehow will play a role in future exploration of the roots and the mythology around these creatures?

SG: Well, I think it's a testament to these old mythology and the fact that sometimes maybe there's a grain of truth in these mythologies and that there is something there that maybe it wasn't fully understood or adequately explained. But I think that regardless of the results of our study, in that these Yeti samples all looked to be local bears with the exception of that chimeric tooth from the dog, I think that regardless the myth is going to persist. And that it in fact plays an important cultural role in the peoples of the Himalaya and Tibetan area.

HM: So is it okay with you that you may not change their minds?

SG: Well it wasn't really my intention to change people's minds. And when you have deep rooted culture it can be offensive in some ways, if that's your approach and that's your goal. So it wasn't truly my intention to change people's minds who already believed so strongly in this Yeti. But I wanted to see, and we wanted to see, what the science had to say about these purported Yeti samples.

HM: What did the film producers who brought you these samples think of your findings?

SG: They thought it was pretty neat. And it actually was interesting in that it made sense where the different samples they brought us originated from, and what type of bear it ended up being. So it seems like a Yeti is a bear, but it could be any bad depending on what region and what local bears are around you.

HM: Ms. Gill, thank you very much for talking to us.

SG: Pleasure talking to you Helen.

HM: All right. Bye.

JD: Stephanie Gill recently co-authored a study linking DNA samples from purported Yetis to Asian bears. We reached Ms. Gill in Buffalo, New York.

"Bonjour, Hi"

JD: For the last two days Quebec’s National Assembly has been the site of hi drama — I mean bonjour drama. And now some welcome changes are in store — I mean bienvenue. Let me start over. If you have been to, say, Montreal and someone has cheerfully greeted you with the bilingual phrase bonjour, hi — is it friendly and inclusive or fiendish and intrusive. Because that is how Jean-François Lisée a leader of the party Quebecois sees it. And yesterday in the National Assembly he cited concerns about statistics showing that workplaces in Quebec have become more bilingual — slightly. And he singled out that demonic duo — bonjour, hi. Where some see two words as a joyous Union, Mr. Lisée and his Assembly colleagues see a mismatched couple. And they believe Bonjour can do oh so much better than that gross English loser, hi. Well, as of today bonjour is single and loving it. Because this morning the members of the National Assembly voted unanimously in favour of a new resolution. It concludes as follows — Oh and this is a loose-ish translation from the French — quote “Since the word bonjour is one of the French words best known by the non Francophones of the world. And since that word magnificently expresses the hospitality of Quebeckers, the National Assembly invites all merchants and their employees with local and international clients, to greet them warmly with the word bonjour. Maybe you believe inviting business owners to greet everyone in one state-mandated way doesn't magnificently express hospitality. But amid all the other challenges in Quebec, I guess all those assembly members can be proud for having taking the moral anti-hi ground.

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