LAURA LYNCH: Hello I'm Laura Lynch.
CHRIS HOWDEN: Good evening. I'm Chris Howden, sitting in for Jeff Douglas. This is As It Happens.
LL: Armaments length. North Korea claims it just successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile. And for once, there are serious concerns that it's more than just propaganda.
CH: Seeing is barely believing. The grandson of a patient at an Ottawa care facility gets video evidence of a worker repeatedly punching his grandfather in the head. Now, he's wondering how such a thing could have happened?
LL: Men will be boys. An Indigenous activists ceremony mourning atrocities against First Nations people in Nova Scotia is disrupted by a group calling themselves the “Proud Boys”, five of whom are Canadian soldiers.
CH: Trace of doubt. After an Ohio cop tells us he overdosed from touching a tiny amount of fentanyl, a Toronto toxicologist prescribes an antidote to that anecdotal evidence. And raises questions about what really happened that night.
LL: I wish this much weren't true. The lead singer of Spandau Ballet announces he's leaving the band nearly 40 years after it formed. Which is shocking to longtime fans and people who assume the band wasn't still around to be left.
CH: And hello from the other side. Twice she went to see Adele and twice Adele cancelled the shows. Tonight a Newfoundland teacher calls from London, where she flew specifically to see her idol, who just canceled on her again. As It Happens, the Tuesday edition. Radio that guesses she’s is down at the end of Lonely Street at Heartbreak. Adele.
[Music: Theme]Back To Top »
Part 1: North Korea latest, Proud Boys, Jefferson House
North Korea latest
Guest: Melissa Hanham
CH: North Korea is claiming that the missile it tested last night was not just any missile. It was an intercontinental ballistic missile, meaning it has a range longer than any other the rogue state has successfully tested before. The development would be a significant advancement, one that the U.S. had hoped to avoid. American military experts are now reviewing North Korea's claim, and reportedly believe it to be true. Melissa Hanham is a North Korea expert at the James Martin Centre for Non-Proliferation Studies. We reached her in Monterey, California.
LL: Ms Hanham, what was your reaction when you heard North Korea's claim that the missile tested last night was an intercontinental ballistic missile?
MELISSA HANHAM: I agreed, unfortunately. Even in the open source, the information we were getting about its flight time, the distance that it flew, all of these things added up to an ICBM even before North Korea announced it.
LL: For us laypeople, can you describe some of those factors that lead you to that conclusion?
MH: Sure. So when you test a ballistic missile, you fire it sort of at an upward angle. North Korea really likes to shoot it almost directly up. So what they have done in this case even though it didn't go very far across the surface of the earth, it went up so high that you can do a little bit of calculus and determine that the range it has is well over 6,000 kilometers, which means that they have the ability to launch this type of missile as far as Alaska and even some of the western parts of Canada.
LL: So you think this was an intercontinental ballistic missile, but, let's be clear here, it wasn't armed?
MH: This was designed as a test. So this was testing the engine and the ability of the missile to re-enter the atmosphere, albeit at kind of strange angle. This wasn't about the warhead. There are still a lot of questions about what kind of warhead they have? But this missile, at least in the simulations that we ran on, it could carry what we call of a payload of 500 kilograms. There is really from a military standpoint no reason to have an ICBM other than to carry a nuclear warhead. And North Korea has stated very clearly that's what it wants to do.
LL: What does it mean then for North Korea to have a missile like this in its arsenal?
MH: Well, I think you know the changes we'll start to see are slow but important. So this is one test of one ICBM. They're going to test other types of ICBMs that they showed in their April parade. And they're going to build more of them. Currently they're a little bit constrained by the number of vehicles they have to launch them. But they're going to work on making indigenous vehicles to move these rockets around the country. However, in time if we allow this to continue we're probably going to get you know a well-armed North Korean state capable of delivering a nuclear warhead you know as far as Ottawa or Washington D.C. It is important to not just sort of ignore the problem.
LL: And that leads me to my next question: is U.S. president Donald Trump, who has made this a priority. And his tweet last night said quote: “Does this guy have anything better to do with his life? Hard to believe that South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer, perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all.” What do you think of that response?
MH: I found that that those two tweets deeply disappointing for a number of reasons. First, it was clear that he was less well-informed about the situation than I was. And I am nowhere near as powerful as the US president. And two, because his sort of unfiltered tweeting actually does more damage than it does help the situation. North Korea is used to a very different kind of leadership then the U.S. has, and they read all of these pieces of information for nuance and meaning. They try to signal to us in the outside world by using their media and propaganda. By having Trump just sort of tweet from the hip just what comes into his head. It makes the system much more confusing for North Korea to understand and we've already seen some of their media pieces replying directly to his Twitter thread.
LL: What about North Korea's neighbors? How have they responded?
MH: North Korea’s neighbors have sort of put down a couple of notable things. So they were actually reporting more information than the U.S. in the early hours after the test. President Moon of South Korea has met with his National Security Council and has also made requests to meet with the U.N. Security Council. Japan has also put out some statements stating their position in much more traditional diplomatic way.
LL: And if and when the U.S. does determine it was indeed an ICBM, something that it said North Korea should never have, what are the options for the U.S. at that point?
MH: Well, there are two options; neither of them is very palatable. You can go to war. You could launch a preemptive strike. You could remove the weapons by force. That calculation is terrifying to me because no matter how you strategize there is no such thing as a kind of limited war with North Korea. North Korea knows that its very regime exists only because of these weapons and they will fight with everything they have. And even without nuclear warhead, even without intercontinental ballistic missiles, they can use their existing artillery to just shell Seoul really, really badly. So badly that there would be a huge loss of human life, huge damage to one of the world's most important capital cities and that's really why no military intervention has ever happened before was because of this thinking. The other alternative is to negotiate with North Korea, which has happened on and off for a period of decades. And unfortunately, most of that time has been off. And it's given North Korea time to improve its technology. We're going to have to face some very difficult choices. We're going to have to decide if there is something we're willing to trade not to denuclearize North Korea, but to freeze a program. It would involve very complicated and intrusive verification mechanisms much more intrusive than the Iran deal for example. So you know negotiations are, in my opinion, a better option, but they are also no guarantee of success.
LL Ms. Hanham, we are going to watch this very closely in the coming days. And I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us. Thank you.
MH: Thank you for having me on and Happy Canada Day.
LL: Thank you Ms. Hanham, Bye bye.
CH: Melissa Hanham is a senior research associate at the James Martin Centre for Non-Proliferation Studies. We reached her in Monterey, California.
[Music: Sad piano]
Guest: Will Summer
CH: In Halifax on Saturday, an Indigenous activist named Chief Grizzly Mama was leading a ceremony, mourning the victims of an 18th century effort to eradicate Nova Scotia’s Mi’kmaq population. It took place near a statue of Halifax's founder, Edward Cornwallis, who had established the policy of genocide against the Mi’kmaq. And then, it was disrupted by a group of men who belong to an alt-right organization called the Proud Boys. Here's a clip from that interaction.
PROTESTOR: This is Mi’kmaq territory. This is not Canada.
PROUD BOY 1: This is Canada. It might have been Mi’kmaq territory.
RROUD BOY 2: So you don't have a Canadian ID? You don't do your taxes? You don't have a medic care card?
PROTESTOR: This is not an argument.
PROUD BOY 1: Well1, it is.
FEMALE PROTESTOR: You need to have respect and walk around.
PROUD BOY 1: I feel like we're being respectful, but you're telling us our country doesn't exist.
PROTESTOR: Yes, you need to have respect. It would be great if you left, please.
CH: Today, the Department of National Defense has confirmed that five men who disrupted the ceremony are also members of the armed forces. Will Summer recently profiled the group they belong to called the “Proud Boys”. We reached him in Washington, D.C.
LL: You have been following the story that happened in Halifax over the weekend. What is the message that you think the Proud Boys we're trying to get across.
WILL SUMMER: Sure. So the problem is they're a pretty a pretty diverse group as far as their political ideas. But I think the key message with the Proud Boys is that they don't believe that… you know part of their motto is “I won't apologize for creating the modern world.” So this idea of you know the protests that they disrupted, of course, was meant to you know criticize past injustices to Canadian Indians or Native peoples. By disrupting it, I believe the message was these things are in the past, and they think that they're you know this is a sign of white guilt.
LL: So that fits in with what you say is sort of their philosophy. How does it compare to other demonstrations that they've taken part in?
WS: Sure. Well, down here in the U.S. they're very big into supporting sort of far-right people. They're very big fans of Donald Trump for example. A lot of them had shown up for events to like defend monuments related to the Confederacy in the United States that have tried to be taken down.
LL: For a lot of Canadians, this is the first that they'll have heard of the group. Certainly the first I'd heard of the group. They are relatively new. Tell me about how and when they got started?
WS: Sure. Well they were started by Gavin McInness, who’s the Canadian person who is the co-founder of Vice magazine, and has since become a sort of right-wing figure here in America. And he says there are fraternal organizations like the Elks Lodge or the Masons, but they have a sort of far-right tilt. It’s have you know men only; there's a lot of sort of initiation rules about joining the Proud Boys.
LL: Tell me some of those initiation rules?
WS: Sure. So one of them is that in the second level, a bunch of Proud Boys will punch you and you have to yell out the name five cereals. Now, that seems bizarre.
LL: You mean breakfast cereal?
WS: The idea behind it is that it sort of prepares you to think on your feet and think when your adrenaline pumping. Almost sort of is the preparation for the fight that they're so into. And the fourth degree of being a Proud Boy is you have to get arrested or you have to beat up a leftist protester.
LL: Let's just be clear about this, you're talking about shouting out the names of breakfast cereal?
WS: Yeah, exactly right. Yeah, it's very strange.
LL: I understand that there's another unusual rule about… sexual habits?
WS: Yes, that's right. I wasn't sure how I was going to get at that. Yes, so in order to be a third degree Proud Boy you have to subscribe to McInnis’s philosophy of no wanks, which means you can only masturbate once a month. And he believes that you know too frequent masturbation or pornography has sort of zapped the will of the Western man. The morals are very in an era in some ways very traditional. They're very focused on you know having families and large families and that sort of thing. And so they see this as you know they see this as an evil of modernity.
LL: Do you any sense of how big their numbers are?
WSL: It's hard to tell. I mean I think the last time I checked there were a couple of thousands of them on Facebook — on their group. Now admittedly, that’s presumably inflated. But I mean there are a decent number of them. I mean they have pretty well attended events all across the country in the U.S. I was just at a rally in D.C. a couple of weeks ago that was related to one of these far-right causes and there were a good number of Proud Boys you know wearing the uniform and all that.
LL: The Canadian Armed Forces has confirmed that the five Proud Boys members who were part of this incident in Halifax are all members of the military. And I'm wondering if you've got any sense of whether there is also some sort of affiliation with the military in the United States?
WS: I know that in the United States they're very closely allied with the Oath Keepers, which are sort of like hardcore right members and former members of the U.S. military. And you know a lot of the ethos is similar in that it's like a very fraternal organization. There's a lot of talk about brotherhood and ritual and that kind of thing. And that said, this Canadian incident that is the first I've heard of really a direct link between serving members of the military and Proud Boys.
LL: You mentioned when you’re talking about the rituals they have to beat up a left-wing protester. Is that actually happening?
WS: So you know here in the U.S., We have some violent left-wing protesters. And so the idea is that they are only acting defensively. And in practice this is not always the case…
LL: But has it happened?
WS: Indeed, on YouTube there are videos of Proud Boys getting arrested and people are saying you know you've got your fourth degree, you know you're fully-fledged Proud Boy.
LL: How do they fit in with the rest of the alt-right?
WS: The Proud Boys make up what's now called the “Alt-Light”, which is sort of hardcore Trump people, but who are nevertheless, not explicitly white nationalists. Whereas someone like here in the United States Richard Spencer, who is much more explicitly anti-Semitic or white nationalist. They are in fact sort of the faux of those people. They are what are called “Civic Nationalists”. And so there is growingly, at least in the United States, a divide between these two groups.
LL: How would you describe the ideology then?
WS: It's a very sort of traditional right-wing, very almost like a reactionary sort of paleo-conservative, like the rules are glorify the entrepreneur, venerate the housewife, stuff like that. And then there's also sort of a… fittingly given that McInnes was the co-founder of Vice, there is sort of a prankishness and a sort of transgressiveness. If a Proud Boy does something shocking the can say oh, we were just kidding. And so for example on issues you know they allow nonwhite members as opposed to harder members of the alt-right. And additionally, they are ostensibly fine with fine with gay people as well, which is sort of also earns them the ire of harder core members of the right.
LL: Do they have either of those in their ranks.. gay people or people of colour?
WS: Absolutely, and that's part of why it can be very confusing in that you know people I think are very eager to call them white nationalists. And certainly, this is a very bizarre incident in Canada. And so there is a very fine line I would say.
LL: So is this is a serious group? Is this a group that we do need to keep an eye on?
WS: You know I would say keeping an eye on it is definitely worthwhile. When I first discovered them maybe six months ago, people were thinking well you know this has to be fake or whatever. But there are all these Youtube videos and it’s clearly real. And it is indeed growing.
LL: All right, we will leave it there. Will Summer, thank you very much.
WS: Yeah, thanks for having me.
CH: Will Summer is a writer at the U.S. political Web site The Hill. We reached him in Washington, D.C. earlier today, Rear Admiral John Newton, with the Department of National Defense, spoke with reporters about the five men and the incident in Halifax. Here's some of what he had to say.
JOHN NEWTON: You can think back to just two weeks ago where I made an apology of a sailor who made a war cry while we were introducing Aboriginal candidates to a pre-enrollment course, where we're helping them understand their military culture, and so they can make a decision to join the Canadian Forces. and it was a huge breach of trust between a serving member and those 13 Aboriginals candidates. And so yes, in the business of socializing people young and old who join. Sometimes we haven't got everybody onboard the same boat rowing together. And like I said, every member, every one of you, every Canadian holds beliefs. But when you join a bigger organization you have to park those beliefs in a very private way. And hopefully by learning and developing in the Canadian Forces, your own personal belief system will shift. It's shifted for me. I come from Halifax; I grew up in this community. I lived with the racism in my neighborhood, and I've tried very hard in my career to make amends and to make bridges with the black community and with the Aboriginal community. And I've learned through 34 years of leadership in the Canadian Armed Forces to be a better Canadian. And now, I'm here trying to develop other young people to pull up well short of ever letting their private beliefs get out in the public forum, and then slowly developing public beliefs into a common Canadian Armed Forces ethos.
CH: Rear Admiral John Newton, speaking earlier today in Halifax.
Guest: Gayle Jessup White
CH: As Americans celebrate Independence Day today, archaeologists are peeling back some of the layers of the country's fraught history. A new excavation project at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's 5,000-acre plantation and residence, has uncovered the living quarters of Sally Hemings. For the first time, the restored room will offer a glimpse into the life of the enslaved woman who is owned by the third U.S. president, and is believed to have given birth to six of his children. It will be on display to the public beginning next year. Gail Jessup White is Monticello community engagement officer. She's also a descendant of the Hemings and Jefferson families. She joined us from Monticello, Virginia.
LL: Ms. White, You have both a personal and a professional connection to the story. What is it been like for you to see this new focus on the life of Sally Hemings?
GAYLE JESSUP WHITE: Very powerful, very emotional, very moving. It's a story about my family, so I’m very directly connected to it. But it's also the story of the African-American enslaved people who lived here were here and who died here. So it's not just my family story, it's an American story, and I embrace it, and I'm proud of the work that our team did to make it happen.
LL: You didn't always know you were a descendant of Jefferson and Hemings. How did you find out?
GJW: I learned it when I was 12-years-old — several decades at this point — eavesdropping on my sister and my dad. I heard them talking about our ties to Thomas Jefferson. But I didn’t completely learn of the connection until I traveled to Monticello some 30-plus years later and began working with researchers here about Monticello’s oral history of the descendants of the slave community. But further was the connection discovered via the Internet to descendants from the White family of Thomas Jefferson, and ultimately that led up to DNA testing and that confirmed the oral history that we had always believed. I should also add that just a couple of years ago, I learned of my connection to the Hemings family, which I did not know about at all. We didn't know to what enslaved family we had this decendancy.
LL: What did that mean to you to make this discovery?
GJW: Well, it’s my history; it meant everything to me. To learn that I was a Hemming's was for me nothing short of miraculous. So many African-Americans don't know their history, but for me, I've been able to discover much about my family and the enslaved family the amount Monticello. And that research that's happened here in to Monticello really speaks to America's history.
LL: What do you hope that will come to light about Sally Hemings’s life with this restoration?
GJW: Of course, we hope to make the enslaved people who lived here three dimensional. We want people to see Sally Hemings as a daughter, as a sister, as a mother as, a worker, as a human being. All the people who lived and worked and died at Monticello they were three dimensional. They were real people. They had names. They had families. And that's what I hope people walk away with when they leave Monticello after sitting in the room of Sally Hemings.
LL: Now, you are participating in the Independence Day celebrations at Monticello today. What do you think the story of Sally Hemings tells us about Thomas Jefferson's legacy?
GJW: I think the legacy of Sally Hemings is one of her family. Her family's strength, endurance, pride intellect. I think the legacy of black Americans has been one of striving; one of hope because without hope, how could one have endured what blacks did here in this country during enslavement? I think it's one of hard work. That's a legacy I see emerging from Monticello.
LL: And Thomas Jefferson's legacy?
GJW: Of course, it’s a duality with Thomas Jefferson. We have to acknowledge that he was a slave holder. We also have that he laid the foundation of hope, liberty, freedom. If he hadn't written those famous words: “All men are created equal”, then we wouldn't be fighting today to make those words a reality for every single American. That’s Thomas Jefferson's legacy.
LL: And finally, what about the legacy of slavery? What is that?
GJW: We live with the legacy of slavery every single day — every American. We live with racism every single day. Slavery was America's original sin. It's a stain that we still live with. It's a pain that we live with. As the mother of a 25-year-old young man, I worry about that young man every single day. That he is not safe in his own country. That's the legacy of slavery that we all live with. However, there's always that hope. There's always that strive, and there’s always that movement among many of us to live that dream that was only available for white men who owned property in 1776. That's now accessible to all of us. And we have to fight for it.
LL: Ms. White, I wish you well as you mark this Independence Day. Thank you for your time.
GJW: Thank you so much. I appreciate it. Be well.
LL: Bye bye.
CH: Gayle Jessup White is Monticello’s community engagement officer, and a descendant of the Hemings and Jefferson families. We reached her in Monticello, Virginia.
[Music: Another sad piano. This one is slightly less sad.]
CH: For 38 years, we've all always thought of Spandau Ballet as the same five guys: Gary Kemp, Martin Kemp, Steve Norman, John Keeble and Tony Hadley. When someone says, “Oh, I saw the guy from Spandau Ballet,” we say, without even thinking, “Gary, Martin, Steve John, or Tony?” So bad news, everyone: One side of that seemingly indestructible pentagon is gone. Everyone: it's Tony. If you've been living under a rock since 1979, when that band formed, it's possible that you might not know that Spandau Ballet were five handsome men from London, England. Key figures in the so-called “New Romantic” movement who, as such, sometimes performed in shiny pirate costumes. Then, in 1983, they had a huge international hit with the slow-dance standard “True”, which you obviously just heard. Then they broke up in 1990. Then they reformed in 2009, and toured again. And now, over Twitter, Tony Hadley, Tony as he's known, has announced that he is no longer in the band quote, “due to circumstances beyond my control,” unquote. Now, you'd think that after nearly 40 years there would be no circumstances beyond your control, especially when you're playing the same decades-old hits over and over again forever with Gary, Martin, Steve and John. Although, maybe those were the circumstances?Back To Top »
Part 2: Seniors home, Fentanyl cop update
Guest: Daniel Nassrallah
CH: The surveillance video footage shows an elderly man with Alzheimer's in an Ottawa care facility, being assisted by a personal support worker. But as the patient becomes agitated, the worker forms a fist, and makes a series of rapid punches to the patient's head. The worker was arrested and charged after that incident. And last week, he pleaded guilty to assault. He'll be sentenced later this year. The only reason the assault was caught on tape is because the patient's family installed the camera. Daniel Nassrallah is the grandson of 89-year-old Georges Karam, a patient at the city-run long-term care facility. We reached Mr. Nassrallah in Ottawa.
LL: Mr. Nassrallah, the video footage itself really is quite disturbing to look at. How did you feel watching your grandfather being treated that way?
DANIEL NASSRALLAH: Gut wrenching. When I actually saw the video on the evening of March 8, 2017, I went to stand up and I literally collapsed; my legs gave way. And I can tell you, as his grandson and in my capacity as a lawyer, you're never prepared for something like that.
LL: Tell us what's actually happening in the video?
DN: You see Mr. Jie Xiao being fairly aggressive with my grandfather. You see Mr. Jie Xiao throwing him around in the bed aggressively from side to side. Similar to a piece of law or dead wood, ripping his clothes off and the like; not cleaning him properly by pat-drying his genital area. So my grandfather does try to push them away. He just tried to distance himself from Mr. Jie Xiao. At one point, in trying to push him away, he almost hits Mr. Jie Xiao. Mr. Jie Xiao reacts by becoming aggressive, upset, turns around and punches my grandfather 11 times in the face. It's not 11 consecutive. It's happens in I believe a set of three at first, and then a pause and then another set and then a pause.
LL: And he's also holding your grandfather's hands, so that he can't do anything to defend himself. When you saw the footage, what did you do?
DN: Obviously, you start crying; you're emotionally wrecked for a moment. You gather your faculties. I called the substitute decision makers right away, who are my uncles, for my grandfather. It was about 10:30 p.m. at night when my wife and I actually watched the footage, and we discovered that my grandfather was assaulted. And so at that point, I knew that the staff turned over at 11:00 p.m. so on my way to the home, I drove to the home, on my way to the home, I called the police to meet me there. At that point, the police was there to meet us at the elevators. Mr. Jie Xiao was placed in the nursing station, pending showing the police officers the footage from that evening. And, at which point, the police officers determined that Mr. Jie Xiao was under arrest.
LL: Now, the worker’s arrest was only possible because you had the video evidence. Why had the camera been installed in your grandfather's room in the first place? You put it there, didn't you?
DN: I did. My grandfather kept suffering from bruises, cuts and lesions — mostly to his face. And sometimes the arm would have an answer saying he fell out of bed, which my grandfather's immobile, so we didn't necessarily believe. And in other cases, they didn't have any explanation at all. We decided to install the camera just to keep people honest and accountable. So we installed that camera about February 26, 2017.
LL: Now, you installed the camera, and the staff knows it's there, right?
DN: Yeah, so when we installed the camera, the staff knew and management knew. We actually had management's approval. Literally as soon as you walk in the doorway; it is the size of a baseball. It's attached the wall; it looks like a camera. So ultimately, Mr. Jie Xiao the callousness of his behavior you know doing what he did with the camera running on him — knowing that a camera was on him — that just shows somebody who exhibits sociopathic or callous behavior.
LL: Well, he was supposed to have some expertise in dealing with dementia patients, wasn't he?
DN: That's the thing he's supposed to. And I mean any PSW will let you know that the job is difficult. At the end of the day, you know you know you're going to perform the job, especially with dementia patients, where you might get lashed out upon. You know they might swing at you. They might try to you know move their arms. In my grandfather's case, he can't throw punches because he's largely immobile — very skeletal. But if somebody's swinging at you, you know that they're scared and with dementia and Alzheimer's they revert back to being children, right? So it's fight-or-flight. That's what it comes down to. If they haven't seen you before, and that was the first time we'd ever seen Mr. Jie Xiao at least to my knowledge or my family's knowledge, it very well could have been the first time my grandfather's seen him. So ultimately, you have this stranger who's changing you naked. You're obviously going to be a little bit afraid.
LL: The Gary J. Armstrong Long-term Care Home is run by the City of Ottawa, and here's what the city manager said in response to this incident quote, “I deeply regret that one of our residents was subjected to this incident. Rest assured the safety and well-being of all our residents is our number one priority.” Unquote. You're planning to sue the city, are you not?
DN: The city has been put on notice of anticipated civil litigation. At this point, there is ongoing damages. Ultimately, the ongoing damages are being assessed at this time by the family.
LL: Just last month, the former nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer was sentenced to life in prison for killing eight of her patients in long-term care homes. Now, we're hearing this story of what happened to your grandfather. How much of this is a problem with oversight at all kinds of long-term care homes?
DN: It's a matter of oversight and enforcement. These PSW’s, RN’s and RPN’s are given too much freedom. If you read the public reports from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, you know you do see a lot of things such as medication or medicine cabinets left unattended, or certain staff members neglecting certain residents and then when you look at the ramifications. Normally it's written reprimands to the home, and the home just has to come up with a plan of remedy, you know? Where it's essentially a slap on the wrist. So if you're not going to have the oversight from a corporate level and you're not going to have you know the mechanisms for proper enforcement and punishment from a ministerial level then you have a broken system.
LL: Why did you make the decision to release this video to the public and share what happened to your grandfather?
DN: We, the family, chose to withhold the release the public release of this footage until Mr. Jie Xiao pled guilty. At that point, we made the decision, once the guilty plea was entered, that it is in the public interest. We knew it the whole time it's going to be released. It is in the public interest, but we wanted to give Mr. Jie Xiao the right to a fair trial.
LL: Why is it in the public interest?
DN: Well I'll tell, you as the population continues to age, I don't think any one Canadian can say that they're not either affected or implicated with long-term care homes. Everybody knows somebody who is in one. Everybody will know somebody who will require one. As a family, we never thought we would put our grandfather in a long-term care home. But with the onset of dementia, it's impossible to provide them with the proper care he desires and deserves and requires. I mean we required the help of medical professionals, which we thought we were going to receive. Ultimately, we did not.
LL: Given all that's happened to your grandfather, how is he doing now?
DN: My grandfather isn't doing very well. He's actually in the hospital today, which is related to his hernia. From an emotional perspective, I can tell you my grandfather is not well. He's not trusting of any PSW’s after the incident. RN’s or RPN’s; he's very anxious. He's, on numerous occasions, mentioned to me and other members of the family pleaded with us in Arabic. English translation would be I beg you, I beg at your feet, don't leave me. Something's not right here. Something's not right with him, obviously, we can tell from his mannerisms. We knew our grandfather growing up and ultimately he has suffered ramifications, and we're still discovering the extent.
LL: Why don't you move him to another home?
DN: It's a difficult — it's a rock and a hard place — because people that are in this particular state, they are familiar with their surroundings. They are familiar with their routine. They're familiar with the staff. They're familiar with the food and their bed and their room. So ultimately, taking someone out of their comfort zone at this point actually risks regression. The family is still in the process of determining what to do. Plus, there is a massive waiting list, right? So if my grandfather does leave the home, it's not an automatic guarantee that he can be placed somewhere else. So it's not a simple question of whether to move him. If it was up to me, you know and the family, ideally we'd move him to another facility, which is reputable and provides better care without the abuse. But ultimately, that's not the practical reality.
LL: Mr. Nassrallah, I'm sorry for all that your grandfather and your family has gone through. Thank you for talking to us.
DN: It's my pleasure, and thank you very much for getting the word out. Thank you.
LL: Bye bye.
DN: Bye bye.
CH: Daniel Nassrallah is a lawyer with DNG Nassrallah Law Offices. We reached him in Ottawa. And for more on this story, go to our website: www.cbc.ca/aih.
Fentanyl cop follow-up
Guest: David Juurlink
CH: You may recall an interview on this program, about a month-and-a-half ago, with an Ohio police officer who overdosed on fentanyl. It was a shocking story because the officer hadn't even knowingly taken the drug; he had inadvertently touched a trace amount of it on his shirt. Here's how Officer Chris Green described what happened back at the police station, after responding to a drug bust.
CHRIS GREEN: I was walking out of the door for the evening, and I was told by another officer I had something on my shirt. I reached back and instinctively brushed it off. I didn't think anything of it. And I remember feeling very ill instantly. This is approximately 2-5 minutes after I made contact with the white powder on my sweatshirt. I remember telling him I'm in trouble, something's wrong and I'm thinking there's no way that this happened to me. There's no way that I'm overdosing. This is impossible. My body began to shut down as I collapsed. Officer Smith caught me from collapsing to the floor.
CH: That was Ohio police officer Chris Green describing the moment he collapsed and overdosed from touching trace amounts of fentanyl on his shirt. The story made international headlines, and it seemed to broaden the scope of those affected by the opioid crisis. But when Dr. David Juurlink heard the story, he came away with more questions than answers. Dr. Jurrlink is the head of clinical pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Toronto.
LL: Doctor Juurlink, how did you react when you heard the story of this officer who said he had overdosed from fentanyl simply by touching it?
DAVID JUURLINK: I have to say I was surprised. It's understandable that first responders would be you know worried about their safety. Given all we hear in the news about fentanyl and carfentanil and related drugs. But it's really, really difficult to imagine that transient exposure of the skin would cause someone to overdose.
LL: Really difficult, but is it at all possible to overdose on an opioid like fentanyl by touching it at all, or through skin absorption?
DJ: It would require quite a lot of effort I have to say. I mean if the exposure is purely cutaneous, that is through the skin, you would need to apply you know fentanyl patches, which are meant to deliver fentanyl through the skin in large quantities over a fair bit of your body areas. So it would be very difficult to do. Even if you did that, it would take hours to over to overdose.
LL: From the description we have from Officer Green, this seems like such a coincidence. He's at the station, he touches the hem of his shirt, he comes into contact with the white powder and five minutes later he collapses. How do you explain that?
DJ: I have to say it's really hard to explain. I mean if it was somehow the fentanyl that did it, it wouldn't have been solely through skin contact. You know maybe his finger ended up in his mouth or you know who knows? But we do know that fentanyl is absorbed much more easily across mucosal services like the mouth than it is through the skin. Now, the other possibility is that, I wasn't there so it's hard to say, but when someone thinks they've been exposed to this, it's conceivable, I suppose, that his reaction was you know just his brain taking over, and perhaps a bit of panic. It's hard to say. I'm quite certain he believes he overdosed, but it's just really hard to imagine a scenario by which the events as described could involve fentanyl toxicity.
LL: And I understand you were not there, when taking all of that into consideration, are you suggesting then that maybe this might have been psychosomatic on his part?
DJ: Again, it's certainly possible. We see people all the time who are convinced that something's wrong with them. And to an objective observer, it's clear that what the person thinks is wrong or happened to them didn't actually happen. It's generally difficult — if not impossible — to convince those people that what they feel happened didn't actually happen. But you know the brain is a powerful organ; it controls every other organ in the body. And when people are concerned about their physical safety you know things like this I suppose going to happen.
LL: But then there is this other extraordinary fact I mean he talks about how the symptoms he experienced: confusion, floating, heart-racing, body shutting down, disoriented. He's given three doses of Naloxone, which is the opiate antidote, and only then is he revived. Why would he have required that if he wasn't overdosing?
DJ: Well, first point to make is that the symptoms that he recounts aren't what you'd expect. I mean if someone truly had a massive opiate overdose, enough to take them down within a few minutes, I mean what they would notice is they feel sleepy and they’d pass out and that would be it. The other symptoms that you're describing would not be expected. And the fact that he got better with the Naloxone doesn't mean that the Naloxone was responsible. You know if let's just say for argument's sake that he saw the powder, he panicked and you know became unwell on that basis. That's the sort of thing that's going to pass on its own whether or not you get Naloxone. So I think I wouldn't be putting a whole lot of stock in the notion that Naloxone is what brought him out of this. You know there's a lot of hysteria going on around the opioid crisis, and there are many facets to it. And one of the concerns that I have is that you know if a first responder is called to the scene of an overdose, where someone needs medical attention in the matter in a matter of minutes to avoid dying. You know the notion that people are going to start putting hazmat suits on to manage patients is not what the person needs. They need timely access to Naloxone and assistance with breathing. And most of the time, just simple gloves, or a paramedic, or a police officer, or a fire department person.
LL: But what about a facemask though? isn't there also the possibility that inhaling this could cause an overdose?
DJ: You would have to walk into a space that's a confined space where you have you know some sort of detonation or some other dispersal of a lot of fentanyl occurred. You know it is conceivably possible to inhale it, but there again the standard masks that we've got — these M95 masks or P100 masks — are usually quite enough. But the concern I've got is that people might over-interpret this, or overreact to this anecdote and decide that they need full body protection as if they were walking into a you know sort of a hazmat sort of scene. That's not necessary, and it would, in theory, jeopardize the survival of the person who needs medical attention. If the first responders are spending all of their time getting in suits that they really do not need, that's going to potentially have consequences. And I think first responders need to realize that the idea that they're going to be overdosed by doing their job is very, very hard one to accept.
LL: Now why do you think so many media outlets, including As It Happens, ran with this story? And it became such a big story.
DJ: Well, it's believable superficially. And it's taking place in the context of a continent-wide crisis that's got multiple different facets. And you know here you've got you know a well-intentioned first responder — a police officer — who by all accounts sounds like he was armed. And, of course, the concern would be that the same thing could happen all across the U.S. and Canada. I mean there are thousands of these sorts of encounters between drug users, or people who are selling these drugs and police every day. So I think it was this sort of anecdote that was sort of almost naturally lends itself to going viral.
LL: Dr. Juurlink, thank you for your time.
DJ: My pleasure.
CH: Dr. David Juurlink is the head of clinical pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Toronto. We reached him in Toronto. For more on this story, including a response from Ohio officer Chris Green, go to our website: www.cbc.ca/aih.
CH: Over the weekend, Adele was set to perform the last two shows of her tour in London. But the British singer had to cancel because of damaged vocal cords. That was devastating news for all the fans who’d plan to attend. But it was especially devastating for Lori Shortall, a teacher from Newfoundland who had flown all the way to the UK for the concert. And it's not the first time that she's found herself devastated by Adele… or the second time. Earlier today, Ms. Shortall spoke with the CBC's Anthony Germain, from England. In this clip she explains how she found out this latest concert had been cancelled.
LORI SHORTALL: There was an email from Songkick, which is her ticket distributor. And the first thing I thought was Oh no! And sure enough, I read the email and that they canceled the concert for vocal reasons, which I totally understand. I had absolutely no issue with that. I'm a professional musician; I'm a singer. I've been plagued with laryngitis my whole life. I totally get it. I wish her well. I just wish it hadn't come at the time that it did.
ANTHONY GERMAIN: This is not the first time this kind of thing has happened to you.
LS: No, I have the worst luck. It's the third time this has happened.
AG: The third?
LS: The third!
AG: OK, so where were the other two locations? Because I know she didn't play Mile One, so you went somewhere else.
LS: She did not. You have to travel to see her. In 2011, my sister was living in Houston, Texas and she bought two tickets for my birthday. So the concert was in October. I'm a teacher, so I took a few days unpaid leave from my job and flew down. And, of course, upon arrival, she canceled. That was the time that she canceled quite a significant portion of her tour. She had a horrible vocal hemorrhage, which I would not wish on anybody, and did have to cancel quite a significant portion of her tour. And then last year, my husband is a mountain biker and we were looking for a vacation to do together where he could mountain bike and I could see Adele, so we picked Phoenix, Arizona. So he got to mountain bike, but I did not get to see Adele. I got a phone call about 6:30 driving to the concert from my friend in Newfoundland. And she said what are you doing? And I said driving to Adele. She said No, my honey, you are not. And I said Ha ha, not funny. And she said I know; it's canceled. That's how I found out. I was so mad.
AG: So Houston, Phoenix, London; you're 0 for 3. If you were in baseball it would a strikeout, right?
LS: Yeah, yeah. It's definitely a strikeout.
AG: How much does this cost you?
LS: I mean between the digs and the rails and you know plane tickets and tickets to see her and Air BNB’s and hotels and things like that I've got to be approaching nine to ten thousand dollars, which I totally know is my own choice.
LS: Cut a girl a break! Like five minutes of your time and a cup of tea. You don't even have to sing anything for me. Just you know… just a cup of tea. That's all I'm asking.
AG: So you posted this this ordeal, and a lot of people have obviously shared this. Do you think you might actually have a chance to meet Adele? Because I suspect you're not the only person who wants to see her or have a cup of tea with her.
LS: I don’t know? Like if we went on the who has the worst luck in the world to be in your presence, I think I would be first on the list. So you know, it would be kind of nice if she went like no one has that bad of luck! I got to do something for this girl. It would be nice.
CH: That was Newfoundland teacher Lori Shortall, speaking with the CBC's Anthony Germain, earlier today, on “The St. John's Morning Show”.
CBC would like to acknowledge the support of the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund.