Friday December 02, 2016

December 2, 2016 full episode transcript

Note: Transcripts may contain errors. If you wish to re-use all, or part of, a transcript, please contact CBC for permission. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print. Copyright © CBC 2016

December 2, 2016 full episode transcript

Host: Kelly Crowe


Listen to the full episode


[Music: Theme]


VOICE 1: The government of British Columbia is about to make a jumbo mistake.

VOICE 2: The person that wants to develop it, he's not even from here. He'll develop it and then he’ll leave. And what are we left? A ski hill that nobody wants.

KELLY CROWE: A ski resort or sacred ground? It's up to the Supreme Court of Canada to decide. In a landmark case, the first test of Indigenous religious freedom under the Charter of Rights. That's the Jumbo Glacier Resort versus the spirit of the grizzly bear, coming up first. Then..


DONALD TRUMP: We have to do something, we have to go see Bill Gates and a lot of different people. We have to talk to them, maybe in certain areas closing that internet up in some way.

KC: Who's afraid of the big wide internet? President-elect Donald Trump is. Worried about ISIS and its online followers, he's about to close it off. Now, the keeper of an internet archive with ten million gigabytes of data is looking to keep it safe in Canada. And finally, a story about institutional sexual slavery.


Where they were actually brought in doctors and nurses, and it's not to take care of women but to make sure the soldiers were OK and the sexual slavery system was running well.

KC: There was no comfort for the comfort women. The more than 200,000 women that were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese army during World War II. Even though they're now well over 80-years-old the women are still fighting for an apology. We'll have that story for you in an hour. I'm Kelly Crowe, and this is the Friday edition of The Current.

Back To Top »

Supreme Court hears landmark case on Indigenous religious freedoms

Guests: Josh Paterson, Kathryn Teneese, Warren Everson


[Music: Ominous electronic beat]

VOICE 1: This is an opportunity to develop an iconic all seasons resort. There will be nothing like this in North America. When you go up to the top of Jumbo mountain and you look down into Lake of the Ganging Glaciers, I guarantee, Honourable Speaker, people are going to come from around the world.

VOICE 2: What we're talking about is a sacred space in which they want to literally dump a village. We're the ones that have to prove our rights to the land, it’s ridiculous right? If we say that a space is sacred or a place is sacred within the boundaries of our territory, we should be able to say no. And our no should be heard.

KELLY CROWE: A fight to build a ski resort on land considered sacred by an Indigenous group in BC is in the hands of the Supreme Court of Canada. They Ktunaxa First Nation says Jumbo mountain, in the southeast corner of British Columbia, is the home to the spirit of the grizzly bear. But developers have plans for that land to be a four season glacier skiing destination. In 2012, the BC government gave a green light to the resort, but the Ktunaxa say the mountain is sacred to them and that the approval violates their freedom of religion. This is the first time the Supreme Court is hearing a case examining how Indigenous spiritual beliefs are protected by the charter's freedom of religion and it has precedent setting potential. Kathryn Teneese is the Ktunaxa Nation Council Chair. She's in our Ottawa studio. Hello.

KATHRYN TENEESE: Good morning.

KC: So what were your feelings as you watched legal proceedings yesterday at the Supreme Court?

KATHRYN TENEESE: Well, I guess, initially it was kind of inspiring but at the same time I realized that the process that we were involved with wasn't, isn't equipped really to deal with the kind of questions that we were raising because they haven't been discussed before. I mean, as your introduction described, you know, possible precedent setting, because it's not something that really has been raised in the way that we're raising it.

KC: So what questions would you like to have seen be discussed that aren't coming up in court?

KATHRYN TENEESE: Well, I'm not sure that they're not coming up but I'm just not sure that the folks that were having the discussion were really clear in what they were talking about. I mean, yes we instructed our legal counsel but they're not Ktunaxa, you know. And so it's a challenge for anyone that doesn't, you know, isn't grounded in what the issue is, you know, from a Ktunaxa perspective, that's what makes it hard.

KC: So tell us about it. What makes that mountain sacred?

KATHRYN TENEESE: Well, it's something that is far beyond me in terms of knowing, you know, my limited knowledge of that but it's something that it's been described to us. It's a very important part of who we are as Ktunaxa people and it's a place because the physical grizzly bears are there. And the grizzly bear spirit is a very important part of the guidance that we receive from, you know, through our structures. So and it's just a place that when the physical grizzly bears are threatened and that's part of the issue. I mean, we've been talking about the issue from a number of perspectives. And, you know, the spirituality has always been part of it but we were participating in various processes, environmental assessment discussions, et cetera and felt that the spiritual issue was not going to be part of the conversation because the science was telling us that it didn't make sense.

KC: So in terms of the spiritual aspect, are ceremonies practiced on Jumbo mountain?

KATHRYN TENEESE: Well, you know, I guess that's the other thing is that Ktunaxa spirituality, you know, isn't the same as, you know, whatever, you know, people think about, you know, their religious beliefs, they go to church or they, you know, they go somewhere and do something on mass sometimes. And in our case, individuals that would be traveling to that area do what, you know, do what they need to do when they're there. And, you know, so you couldn't describe it as OK we’re going to take a, you know, a trip there and do certain things. I mean, there are people there from time to time doing certain things.

KC: Now this has been a long fight. Why has it been so important to you? This has been going on since 1992.

KATHRYN TENEESE: Well, since the proponent came to us and described the project that he was dreaming about and we indicated to him that we couldn't support the project as he described it. And we actually early in the conversation asked him to go away and come back with something that was less of a footprint on the area. And, you know, because it was an important place to us. But we weren't heard.

KC: Now what if the Supreme Court appeal fails, what will you do next?

KATHRYN TENEESE: Well, we haven't gotten that far down the road but we certainly will be continuing. There's not really anything domestically available but our issue has been raised at the UN, in the UN permanent forum on Indigenous issues. And, you know, I'm not sure, I'm not really conversant in the mechanisms that might be available to us there. But, you know, it's certainly one that the indication from Ktunaxa citizens is that we have to do what we're doing.

KC: OK. Well, thank you very much for talking with me.


KC: Kathryn Teneese is the Chair of the Ktunaxa Nation Council. She was in our Ottawa studio. We did invite the BC government to comment but it declined because the case is before the court. This case is being closely watched by a number of groups with intervener status at the Supreme Court hearing. On one side some government and business interests are arguing that Indigenous religious freedom should be interpreted more narrowly. We'll hear from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in a minute. But first, the BC Civil Liberties Association supports the Ktunaxa First Nations’ position. Josh Paterson is the Executive Director of the BC Civil Liberties Association. And he's in Vancouver. Hello.

JOSH PATERSON: Good morning.

KC: Why did your group decide to be part of this case?

JOSH PATERSON: Well, for us this was a really important case about what freedom of religion means for all Canadians and particularly about what it means for Indigenous peoples in this country. Essentially, what the government of BC has been saying here is that freedom of religion should be interpreted more narrowly when it comes to Indigenous people. And the question for the court is whether or not that guarantee of religious freedom can be violated by the development of an Indigenous sacred site. You know, most religions that many Canadians practice don't have their sacred sites here in Canada. But of course, Indigenous religions, Indigenous spiritual belief systems do have their sacred sites here and for five hundred years that fact has been ignored. And so what this case is really asking is that governments have to consider that. And when they're looking at Indigenous spirituality and freedom of Indigenous religion, they can't ignore the fact that there are those connections to land.

KC: Now, this case has been called potentially precedent setting. What could be the broader implications?

JOSH PATERSON: Well, the bigger implication is that, there's a few of them. First of all, it's that when governments are making decisions that, in this case, don't just alter the spiritual character of a piece of land for Indigenous peoples but destroy its spiritual character, what this First Nation has argued is that their deity, the grizzly bear spirit, will actually no longer be available to them if this site is developed.

KC: So it will leave?

JOSH PATERSON: If another mountain were made into a ski hill, it’d be one thing, but this particular site, this particular sacred site would actually cause profound harm to their spirituality if it's developed. So that governments need to consider that, need to weigh that kind of claim when they're making their decisions is what the significance of the case is. If you think about it in terms of other religions, most reasonable people get the idea that you don't want to go around destroying sacred sites. People kind of understand that you wouldn't want to develop the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, that you wouldn't want to destroy the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. There's a lot of resources spent preserving sacred sites around the world and there are sacred sites in Canada. And so this government too, in BC and in Canada, need to start thinking about that if they're going to protect the freedom of religion of Indigenous peoples.

KC: Now, the BC Supreme Court ruled against the Ktunaxa. What was its rationale?

JOSH PATERSON: Well, the rationale of the BC Supreme Court essentially said that, you know, if this site is destroyed, Ktunaxa people can continue to carry on their ceremonies and to practice their faith. What I understand the Ktunaxa to have argued is that no, we won't be able to anymore because if you develop this particular site, you will actually destroy the substance of our faith. The spirit itself that is important to us will no longer be there, will leave the mountain, will not be available to our people anymore for spiritual assistance. So the action of the government would actually destroy the substance of what they are worshipping. And the court didn't recognize that, they said well you could carry on practicing anyways. So that's part of what the argument is about.

KC: Now, if this appeal fails what message do you think that would send?

JOSH PATERSON: Well, I think it would mean that with respect that courts and governments are going to be giving less force to the protection of religious freedom for Indigenous peoples, if governments don't at least have to consider. And this isn't to say that government would be restrained from doing everything at all times. What's being asked by us, for example here, is that they need to consider it, that it needs to be appropriately weighed, that it can't be ignored. If governments are allowed to ignore the importance of sacred sites and land as part of Indigenous freedom of religion, then Indigenous peoples will be getting less of a protection of freedom of religion than other Canadians. It will be harder for them to make their claims because where their spirituality is tied to land, the government and courts will be saying well, you know, we just don't think that that's important enough to really do anything about. And that would be problematic, not only for Ktunaxa but for all Indigenous peoples and indeed for the relationship between Indigenous peoples and other Canadians. I mean, Canada has spent, you know, centuries trying to destroy indigenous spirituality through residential schools, for example. It's time for governments to start considering Indigenous spirituality and taking that into account in making its decisions, just as they have to take into account the freedom of religion of other Canadians who are impacted by decisions that could affect their spirituality.

KC: OK. Well, thank you very much for talking with me.

JOSH PATERSON: Thank you very much.

KC: Bye bye. Josh Paterson is the Executive Director of the BC Civil Liberties Association. And he was in Vancouver. For a business perspective, I'm joined by Warren Everson, from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, which was another intervener in the case. Warren Everson is the chamber's Senior Vice President. And he's in Ottawa. Hello.

WARREN EVERSON: Good morning Kelly.

KC: So why is this case important to the Canadian National Chamber of Commerce?

WARREN EVERSON: Well, it's as Kathryn said, it's the first time that the court has been asked to draw some lines concerning spiritual rights and how they apply within the charter. We were interested in, we don't have any interest in the specific case, the matter of the ski resort so much as we want to understand how this law is going to work in the future. That's quite a complicated situation with conflicting claims on that Crown land. So we are very interested in how the court will in the future say the spiritual rights of one community can affect the lawful activities of other people, including other Aboriginal people in a particular area.

KC: So how do you think those rights should be balanced?

WARREN EVERSON: Well, it's a fascinating discussion. Yesterday in the court, one of the judges, Justice Moldaver, talked about a shield and a sword. So he said Article 2 of the charter is a protection, it's a shield of your religious rights. But he asked the attorneys, is it also a sword that allows you to impose those rights on other parties? And that's exactly the case that's being disputed now.

KC: Now, is it, let's talk a bit about having to make a choice between one right or another.

WARREN EVERSON: So for the business community, you know, we as have a chamber have spent the last five years or so on the other side of this equation, it's all about reconciliation and cooperation. We spent a lot of time on how business and Aboriginal communities can go together in partnership. So we don't like to find ourselves in a conflicting situation. But one of the worst things about the Canadian economy, by everyone's measure, is how badly regulated we are, how inconsistently and how much uncertainty attaches to our law and our jurisdictions. And this is just another area, all of the issues around the duty to consult, the Crown's obligation to consult and accommodate Aboriginal people are in motion right now, they're in flux. And so, if you're trying to do a business, regardless of who you are, it's not clear what the law is, what it requires and exactly when it has been satisfied. And this is an important element of it, the case that came yesterday to the court is really one of the dramatic examples of that.

KC: So if this is settled that will help, no matter which way it's settled, sounds like you’re suggesting.

WARREN EVERSON: Absolutely. You know, everybody has a right to know what the law is and to make their decisions accordingly. The narrative that we have in the past of white developers imposing on communities, unfortunately very true and all too often true, but that narrative is changing now. Increasingly, we find businesses in partnership with Aboriginal communities and nobody's exactly certain whose rights are going to prevail. It's especially bad situation in British Columbia because we don't have the guidance of treaties and there's 198 First Nations in British Columbia and they may each of them have unique spiritual and religious practices. We're asking the court to give us some guidance as to how we are to navigate among all of those.

KC: Now, if the Supreme Court rules in favour of Ktunaxa’s rights, what kind of similar claims would there be? Would there be others do you think?

WARREN EVERSON: Well, I think that it would at least invite the possibility that every First Nation might be able to exert power in situations based on their religious beliefs. Keep in mind, the Supreme Court is hearing an appeal against a decision made by British Columbia. So most of what yesterday's discussion at the court was about whether or not the lower courts and the minister in question, the minister in British Columbia, had conducted themselves appropriately and done the appropriate tests. That's the actual issue. But as Kathryn has explained, these religious beliefs are going to direct and fuel the actions of First Nations as they wrestle with development opportunities and amongst each other, of course, because there's a lot of cross-hatching claims in British Columbia.

KC: OK. Well, thank you very much for talking with me today.

WARREN EVERSON: It's a pleasure.

KC: OK. Warren Everson is the Senior Vice President with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. And we reached him in Ottawa. You won't want to miss an interview that's coming up on The Current next week. Anna Maria Tremonti will be talking to Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show, about his life and his new book Born a Crime. He'll share his experience of growing up in apartheid South Africa, at a time when the relationship between his black mother and white father was illegal. His racial identity made for a lot of confusion growing up.


TREVOR NOAH: I was different. People mocked me, gave me names like mixed breed, half caste. I hate that term half, why half? Why not double?

[Sound: crowd laughter]

TREVOR NOAH: Or twice as nice? I don’t know. They give you weird names. I just wanted a cool name, you know. I wanted to be black to be honest, that's all I ever wanted. Especially since one one day growing up, I met an American and he was shocked that in South Africa we had all these titles. And he he said to me, he said well, you know, Trevor if you go out to America they'll label you as black. And I said really? He’s like oh hell yeah hahaha.

[Sound: crowd laughter]

TREVOR NOAH: Yeah buddy, everybody’s black out there, yeah. You’d be super black.

[Sound: crowd laughter]

TREVOR NOAH: Oh that sounds good to me, superblack. And I made a choice, I was like first chance I get I go out to America, I'm going to get a piece of that black.

[Sound: crowd laughter]

TREVOR NOAH: And I did. Boarded a flight, it was an 18 hour journey, Johannesburg to New York. I didn't sleep a wink. I just sat in my chair like a madman watching every single black American movie I could find. Just sitting there going crazy, practicing, like yeah, yeah. Yeah, you naw mean? You naw mean? Yeah, yeah, sorry? Oh, the chicken please, the chicken. Thank you. Oh, that’s fine, thank you.

[Sound: crowd laughter]

KC: Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show will be on The Current Monday with Anna Maria Tremonti.

[Music: Extro]

KC: The CBC News is next. Then, US President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to close up the Internet. I'll speak with a man who wants to keep it open and is looking to Canada for help in keeping it safe. My conversation with Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, in our next half hour. I'm Kelly Crowe, and you're listening to the Friday edition of The Current.

[Music: Extro]


Fear of Trump has the Internet Archive moving to Canada

Guests: Brewster Kahle

KELLY CROWE: Hello, I'm Kelly Crowe, and you're listening to the Friday edition of The Current.

[Music: Theme]

KC: Still to come, women used as sexual slaves by the Japanese army are still lobbying for an official apology 60 years after they were abused. Also, pipeline economics, do the promises add up? One leading economists doesn't think so. But first, copying the world's biggest Internet Archive from the US and pasting it into Canada.


DONALD TRUMP: Because we're losing a lot of people because of the internet. And we have to do something, we have to go to see Bill Gates and a lot of different people that really understand what's happening. And we have to talk to them, maybe in certain areas, closing that internet up in some way. Somebody will say oh, freedom of speech, freedom of speech. These are foolish people. We have a lot of foolish people. We have a lot of foolish people. We've got to maybe do something with the internet because they are recruiting by the thousands.

KC: US President-elect Donald Trump is worried about the internet. Specifically, he's worried about ISIS using it to recruit more followers. On the campaign trail he said maybe we've got to do something about that like close parts of the internet, and that has Brewster Kahle worried. He's one of those people who worries about freedom of speech and internet freedom. He's the founder of the Internet Archive, a non-profit digital library that's been keeping billions of web pages for the historical record. Since 1996, it’s been collecting everything from movies to video games, books and scholarly journal articles. This week, Brewster Kahle announced the Internet Archive is fundraising to build a backup of its archive to be hosted here in Canada, where it would be out of Donald Trump's reach. Brewster Kahle is in San Francisco. Hello.

BREWSTER KAHLE: Great to be here.

KC: Thank you for being here. Well, first of all, what did you think, what did Donald Trump say that made you start worrying?

BREWSTER KAHLE: Well, Donald Trump as a candidate has been pretty consistent about, well, libel laws wanting to be expanded, freedoms of the press has gone too far. There's been different comments about net neutrality, being very strong on opponents. And it's could follow that the government surveillance that we now know of because of Edward Snowden could not only be continued but increased. So there's reasons to worry and to start to understand, well, what is a role of an organization that's designed for the long term like the Internet Archive, with its digital holdings. We want to be perpetually available but also private, so that readers can read things without fear of being watched.

KC: So it sounds like it's sort of a two prong approach. On one hand to preserve the actual data, on the other hand to preserve the privacy of the people who want to see the data.

BREWSTER KAHLE: Yes, absolutely. It's what libraries have always done over the years. And there's been a long history with libraries, where people get rounded up for what they've read and bad things can happen to them. So this happens. The Internet Archive is blocked in China. It's blocked in some parts of Turkey, sometimes in Russia the Internet Archive is blocked. So the idea of access to information is not always everybody's idea of a good time.

KC: Now, what kind of content is in the archive, for people who might not know what kind of service this is?

BREWSTER KAHLE: Well, we've been working with the University of Toronto and the University of Alberta and libraries around the world to digitize books. We digitize about a thousand books every day. So we have all of the public domain materials from the University of Toronto for instance, because of the leadership of Carole Moore at the university there and continuing on with Larry Alford. So it’s books, music, video, web pages and actually, a lot of people use this for is web pages. We archive, we try to archive every website and every web page on every website every two months and it's available for free on go and see the past of the web. And the book are available--

KC: [interposing] This is the way back machine you're talking about.

BREWSTER KAHLE: This is the Wayback Machine. So it's available for free on archive org and is where people can borrow books or download public domain books or borrow modern books so they can have them for two weeks electronically.

KC: Now, the Wayback Machine. How does that work?

BREWSTER KAHLE: The way that the Wayback Machine works is there, we crawl the world wide web and there are now a thousand librarians that try to figure out what sites should be archived how often, to make sure we've got a good copy of this cultural miracle which is the World Wide Web and if you go to the Wayback Machine and type in a URL, you can see past versions of websites and you can click around and see the web as it was. It's the only record of its kind. So if you wanted to see, oh let’s say President Trump and his presidential election website in 2008 or 2012, or Hillary Clinton's website when she was in the Senate or commercial websites or universities. People, about 800,000 people a day use this resource, to be hold people accountable or even just find web pages that are no longer on the web.

KC: So how would this be different than a newspaper archive, for example?

BREWSTER KAHLE: It's similar to a newspaper archive but it has web pages and it just has, well, billions of them. So we collect about a billion pages every week. So the total collection is now 279 billion pages, if you count just web objects about over 500 billion of these. So it is enormous. We collect as much information as in all of the books of the Library of Congress every week. The average life of a web page is only 100 days before it's deleted or changed. So the web is constantly changing. If we didn't have a record, we'd live in the perpetual present and those that control the present, as George Orwell says, control the future. And so this is a mechanism of keeping a past alive, out of print web pages.

KC: Now, can the archive be subject to hacking?

BREWSTER KAHLE: I guess so. We try to do what we can to stop it. And one of the ways of stopping hacking or the like is to have copies. We live always trying to build into the model of the Library of Alexandria in ancient times, when it was the centre of learning for 500 years. Yet it's now best known for not being here anymore. And so we need to make copies in a way that they didn’t. If they had put a copy in India or China, we'd have the other works of Aristotle, the other plays of Euripides, but we don't. So let's not repeat the mistakes of the ancients.

KC: Now, what are you afraid could actually happen under a Trump presidency? What kind of mechanisms could the president do once he is in power to actually damage it?

BREWSTER KAHLE: We really no idea what is coming up. We’re on unprecedented ground. There’s nothing about this election that has been normal and about this candidate and now president-elect. So there's, I would say that it's actually a kick in the butt for us to go and do something we probably should have done long ago and actually had been planning and talking with the organizations in Canada. We were already planning to go and put some materials up there. And this has just been a time to reflect on what does it take to make long term commitments in a time when things change all around the world.

KC: Now, are there other threats besides a Trump presidency that you would want to protect the archives from?

BREWSTER KAHLE: Yes. Earthquakes, we’re in San Francisco so [laughs] we're always aware of that. There's disk drive failures, there'd be institutional faults, there'd be law changes. There could be all sorts of different things that make it so that the environment changes for being a library in different times. We look at the history and this has always been the case. So you just, the reason why we have so many of the works from ancient times is we've made copies.

KC: Now, how much support are you getting from Canada?

BREWSTER KAHLE: It's been fantastic. There's just, oh, we've gotten calls and emails and people wanting to help, people offering locations. It's been just wonderful to see the warm welcome from Canada.

KC: Now, are there any differences in the jurisdiction? Do you need advice from Canadian internet law experts, for example. And what is the reason why Canada would you think would be a safer place?

BREWSTER KAHLE: Actually Michael Geist, who's a Canadian copyright expert, is on the board of the Internet Archive Canada. And we've also had, Internet Archive Canada had a lawyer go and look at the legal ramifications of putting a digital library in Canada. And actually, Canada has great laws for it and actually made changes recently to make it so that cultural preservation can go a pace in Canada, in ways that actually are better than most countries. So Canada is actually quite forward thinking when it comes to digital libraries, we'd like to see that go further faster.

KC: Any reaction to the amount of coverage you've had? I mean, this is has made some headlines.

BREWSTER KAHLE: We had no idea this was coming. We launched our fundraising letter that was, you know, pretty generic a couple of days ago. But we announced that we were looking into the Canadian move because of the environment changes and that is what really has caught on. And the good part about that is people want to help. And I think that we have to take seriously the issues about digital preservation. It's not easy, where books can last for hundreds of years, if you just do the wrong thing once or if you snooze for five or ten years and don't copy forward digital materials, it'll be gone and gone forever.

KC: Now, some have said we're living in a post-truth era when fact and information don't matter the way they used to. So now that you're, you know, trying to preserve the factual record, what do you say about that? This idea that it might not matter and when you think that would mean?

BREWSTER KAHLE: Holy crow, would that be a horrible world if truth became completely relative. So what we want to do is make it so that things are cited to real references and those references are kept. For instance, Wikipedia has become such an important part of our ecosphere and we, all of the links on Wikipedia often go to, well, web addresses, many of which are down. And so about four years ago, we started collecting every out link whenever they were authored. And there's been now robots written, so one million links on Wikipedia have now been repaired. So they point into the Wayback Machine. The idea is to make it so that it's easy to go and cite things that were really actually true. We also archive all of television or, well, a lot of it. And the idea there, we've made us television news available so you can go and search to find what people said and put a clip of what they said. So when somebody says I never said that, it's very easy to go there, to go and find, well, actually you did and it was on television and here is a clip of it happening. So if we can go and make it more difficult for people to just disavow the past, that's at least part of going and living in a more truthful fact-filled world.

KC: Now, only one caveat to that would be how do you know what you're saving is actually true? Well, what about this fake news being preserved for future generations?

BREWSTER KAHLE: People are already archiving, actually, fake news and using it for analysis to be able to find out what the plight is there. So yes, at least we need a record of what happened so it just doesn't flow over, as television and radio tends to do without creating a record that’s searchable. Can we do that, make that record and make it searchable so at least we can analyze it. But then, you're absolutely right, there's this big problem. How do you know what you're looking at? And that's informing people about looking at sources of materials and being, let's have debunking move the speed of these sensationalist articles that look like they influenced our election. And let's make this a does not happen again. That might be by putting in reputation systems for sources and writers, I don't know, maybe citations. We've already linked things to Politifact, that does deep professional debunking. And let's go and have real journalism live because we've hollowed out, especially in the United States, the investigative reporting resources to be able to have this, enough attention to be put on some of these things that these guys say that are just wrong.

KC: OK. So you have a lot of work ahead of you it sounds like.

BREWSTER KAHLE: We're just a library. And yes, I think we need to make libraries relevant to anybody that reads their materials on screens.

KC: OK. Well, thank you very much for talking me about this.

BREWSTER KAHLE: Thank you very much.

KC: Brewster Kahle is the founder of the Internet Archive. He was in San Francisco. You're listening to the Friday edition of The Current on CBC Radio One and Sirius XM, I'm Kelly Crowe.

Back To Top »

Economist warns insufficient oil demand hinders Trans Mountain pipeline

Guests: Jeff Rubin


JUSTIN TRUDEAU: We have made this decision because we are convinced it is safe for BC and it is the right one for Canada. It is a major win for Canadian workers, for Canadian families and for the Canadian economy, now and into the future.

RACHEL NOTLEY: What it means is that we can get access now to China and other Asia-Pacific markets. It means that we can get a much better price for our product. It means that we can be more economically independent of our neighbours to the south. I mean, there's nothing, and of course they are our biggest trading partners and they always will be. But we need to have the ability to pick our markets and this is something that has been long overdue.

KELLY CROWE: High hopes for the newly approved Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion from both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley. To Albertans and dozens of First Nations, the pipeline is a desperately needed economic lifeline but to other First Nations and environmentalists it's a threat to their way of life. Jeff Rubin has been crunching the numbers and according to him, the promised economic benefits of the pipeline don't add up. He's a Senior Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation and former Chief Economist at CIBC World Markets. And he joins me in our Toronto studio. Hello.


KC: So what were your first thoughts when you heard Prime Minister Trudeau had approved the pipeline?

JEFF RUBIN: Well I think what listeners have to understand is that the economic case for the approved Kinder Morgan pipeline is no different than the economic case for the rejected Northern Gateway pipeline. Both would serve as conduits to the Asian market. Now, it's been alleged that there is more attractive pricing over there, that in fact we've lost billions of dollars of revenue because we haven't got world pricing. The reality is the opposite. The reality is that Asian markets pay less, not more for the bitumen that the Canada wants to sell than US refineries. If you look at other comparable products Kelly, like Mexico Maya crude, which is also a heavy oil much like the product the oil sands is selling. It trades for over eight dollars a barrel less in Asia than it does in Gulf Coast refineries, where, you know, the world's heavy oil refinery hub is located. So, in fact, if you look at what Western Canadian select trades at today, which is the price of oil sands, it's about 35 dollars a barrel. Take off another eight dollars a barrel to sell it in Asia and you're looking at something like 27-28 dollars a barrel. Costs of new oil sand production that would fill this pipeline from in situ production are north of 60 dollars a barrel.

KC: So where is the argument based, where is it coming from?

JEFF RUBIN: OK, I mean, so if I'm the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers I would go, well, OK Jeff, that's true today, but these pipelines have 30, 40 year economic lifetimes. And so with the new production that would supply them and in the future they will be economic. Well, not if Canada along with over 170 other countries come even remotely close to living up to their pledge to hold global climate change to one and a half to two degrees because it's precisely the time frames in the next 20 to 30 years that this has to be done. And if you look at what that implies, and the International Energy Agency has looked at even the old two degree target, it implies a world that contracting oil market that leaves very little role for high cost sources of supply, like Canada's bitumen.

KC: So are they saying by going in this direction that they're actually not going to try to hit those targets or are they, is it wishful thinking? I mean.

JEFF RUBIN: I'm just saying that, you know, if you look at the longer term case, and that’s got to be the case that the petroleum industry would make, because they'd say, you know, true Jeff, it doesn't make sense in today's economics but it will in tomorrows because of inevitable business as usual growth in world oil demand.

KC: But I guess they would say if we don't do it, and there is a business case for it, then we've missed a chance.

JEFF RUBIN: But there will not be. There's even less of a business case in the future than there is today. If you look Kelly, at what stabilizing even two degrees means, it means world oil demand falls to about 80 million barrels a day by 2030 and 74 million barrels a day by 2040. That's like a 25 per cent cut from current production. Well, it's not Saudi Arabia with 10 dollar a barrel production costs or Kuwait or Iran or Iraq that's going to bear that — it's the oil sands. I mean, so the question becomes in a emission constrained world, not only is production growth not have an economic context but it's highly debatable. Where anywhere close to the two and a half million barrels a day that's currently being scooped out is going to make commercial sense in that world.

KC: OK. But perhaps there's another reason to build pipelines that doesn't exclusively dealing with the future price. I'd like you to listen to Ian Anderson, President of Kinder Morgan Canada, talking about his expectations for the pipeline.


This project, which we plan to begin constructing later in 2017, will bring thousands of good paying middle class jobs for Canadians. It will bring tax benefits for all levels of government and will allow our customers, producers get maximum benefits for Canadian resources. The majority of the new barrels committed to our expansion have been pointed towards our dock or offshore markets. And will have the capacity, ultimately, to move 550,000 barrels a day off of our loading facility there in Burnaby.

KC: So Ian Anderson believes the pipeline will bring tax benefits and thousands of jobs. So what do you think about the job creation?

JEFF RUBIN: Well, if in fact it's built and there is going to be court challenges, but if in fact it's built, I don't deny that the construction of a new pipeline will be a short term job creator. But if that ends up being a stranded asset, that's not an engine of economic growth, that's an albatross around the economy. And just look at the impact of stranded assets in the oil sands already on the Alberta economy and the Canadian economy.

KC: So there's something, there's this dissonance at the heart of this though. I mean, this idea of trying to reduce carbon use and carbon emissions and trying to increase the sale of carbon at the same time.

JEFF RUBIN: It would be akin to having your foot on the brakes and the accelerator at the same time. I mean, going to a 50 dollar carbon tax, phasing out coal fired generation are all things that we would have to do to come anywhere remotely close to Harper’s old target of reducing emissions 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. But this increase in oil sand production if it ever went ahead, would effectively negate that. So sends a very mixed message. But for the oil sands future, it's not what Canada does because after all this isn't for the Canadian market, it's what the rest of the world does. And if the rest of the world comes anywhere close to coming up to the emission reduction targets, that's a contracting world oil market that has a very very small role for high cost oil, whether it's Arctic deep water or oil sands.

KC: Now, Justin Trudeau said in his news conference announcing this decision that no country in the world would leave oil in the ground when there was still a market for it.

JEFF RUBIN: Well, yeah, but it all depends on the price of getting it out. Countries that only get half the cost of production, that oil's going to stay in the ground. Countries that can pump out oil cheaply, that oil will flow.

KC: Now you sound like you don't think the pipeline will actually happen.

JEFF RUBIN: Well, [chuckles] you know, I mean, this is not a done deal either financially, because I'm not the only person who can figure out that what kind of discounts the Asian refineries pay, nor I think politically, because I think there's widespread opposition to this in the Lower Mainland, but that's for other people to talk about. I'm just saying from an economic perspective, the economics of this pipeline are no different than the one that was rejected — Northern Gateway.

KC: OK. Well, thank you very much Jeff for coming and talking.

JEFF RUBIN: Hey, my pleasure Kelly, good seeing you again.

KC: [laughing] Jeff Rubin is a Senior Fellow at the Centre for International Governance and Innovation and former Chief Economist at CIBC World Markets. He was in our Toronto studio.

[Music: seductive electronic keyboard]

KC: Coming up in our next half hour, comfort women were used as sexual slaves by the Japanese army in World War II. And they're not standing down from their demand for an apology. The director of a new documentary reveals what keeps these 80-year-old women going. I'm Kelly Crowe and you're listening to the Friday edition of The Current.

[Music: Extro]

KELLY CROWE: Hello, I'm Kelly Crowe, and this is the Friday edition of The Current. We received a huge response to a story we brought you yesterday. Researchers at Oxford are proposing a new tax on certain foods based on their carbon footprint. One that would see the price of beef, for example, go up by about 40 per cent because of its impact on climate. Marco Springmann, the study's lead author says the environment needs it.


The food system is responsible for up to a third of all greenhouse gas emissions. So that means if we really want to limit climate change to acceptable levels something has to change.

KC: Peter Shawn Taylor has written a paper for the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation, arguing against this kind of tax.


Food is a necessity of life. Taxing food for whatever reason is going to make people worse off.

KC: The debate got many of you sending us heated reactions. John Smola from Ottawa wrote, “I gave up my car because I found I could use public transit efficiently. My contribution is done. Leave my stake alone.” Jeff Blum tweeted, “it's time we made meat consumers pay the cost of consumption. We're slowly dying by the hand of carbon emitters.” Wendy Simon from St. John, New Brunswick shared this, “I am low income and have Crohn's disease. I'm also iron deficient. I have to eat meat to get my needed iron and protein and I'm unable to consume legumes and so on. If meat were ever to be taxed, my health would suffer greatly.” Vivian Unger from Fredericton supported a so-called sin tax on meat, “people like meat but it will be better for human and planetary health in the long run. I think it would be a good idea to subsidise cricket and mealworm businesses at the same time, and encourage them to get their products onto our grocery shelves, so that we have options to help us make the switch to other protein sources.” And finally Sujinjer Juneja tweeted this, adding the hashtag eat a carrot. “The idea of lab grown meat is the last straw that will make this omnivore go full time vegan.” If you missed the story, visit our website, download our podcast or listen on the CBC Radio app. If you don't have it yet, it's free from the App Store or Google Play. It lets you browse through past episodes of our show and start listening in just a few seconds. You can search for stories you missed or want to hear again or listen live to your local CBC station right from your smartphone or tablet. You're listening to the Friday edition of The Current on CBC Radio One and Sirius XM, I'm Kelly Crowe.

Back To Top »

Elderly women seek official apology from Japan for their sex slavery in WW II\

Guests: Tiffany Hsiung


[Sound: crowd yelling and protesting]

KELLY CROWE: Every Wednesday afternoon since 1992, protesters have gathered in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul demanding one thing — an apology. The protesters are so-called comfort women and during World War II Japanese soldiers used them as sexual slaves. The women are now in their eighties and their struggle to get an apology from the Japanese government for what was done to them in their youth has been captured in a new documentary by the National Film Board of Canada. It opens in select theatres today. And a warning, their stories are disturbing. Tiffany Hsiung is the Director of The Apology, and she's with me in our Toronto studio. Hello.

TIFFANY HSIUNG: Hi, thank you for having me.

KC: Thank you for being here. So we heard sound from one of those protests, describe the scene.

TIFFANY HSIUNG: Well, in that protest, that was in Seoul, Korea and that happens every Wednesday, as you mentioned. And when they're not demonstrating in Seoul and they're traveling to other countries, they're also demonstrating and holding peace rallies wherever they can.

KC: So what does it look like? There's lots of people, there.

TIFFANY HSIUNG: So that particular demonstration will mark the 1000th demonstration in Seoul. And so right now they are still demonstrating every Wednesday and there is about over I think 1,500 people gathering around them. And the grandmothers are in the front lines, they're leading the protest and chanting as well as making speeches.

KC: Well let's back up a bit and talk a bit about who were the comfort women?

TIFFANY HSIUNG: So the comfort women survivors quote, unquote. It's a euphemism given by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II. And these are over 200, estimated over 200,000 young women and girls kidnapped and coerced, some were from, a large group came from Seoul, from Korea, a large group also came from Taiwan, China and the Philippines and Indonesia. And there are also some Dutch women also that were involved as well.

KC: Now they were kept individually or in small groups? Were they taken to a central place or was it sort of spread out over that territory?

TIFFANY HSIUNG: In Korea they were brought to China. A lot of the comfort stations that have been documented actually happened all across China. And the few places that I went to go visit it's so eerie and scary because there's no plaques or documentation, it’s just stories from the grandmothers and from people that have lived in that village for many years that's been passed down, that that was a particular place that was used as a comfort station. And they were either abandoned homes or schools that were taken over or hospitals that were taken over. And it was an institutionalized sexual slavery system, where they actually brought in doctors and nurses, and it's not to take care of the women but to take care of the soldiers in case they have contracted any venereal diseases. So it was just to make sure the soldiers were OK. And so doctors were actually brought in from Japan to make sure that, you know, this sexual slavery system was running well and clean.

KC: Well, even recently, some politicians have suggested this was necessary.

TIFFANY HSIUNG: Yes, exactly. I mean, these are stories that I've definitely heard before as well, that this was something to keep the rape off the streets. Because during the rape of Nanjing, like, there was so much rape that was happening on the streets and it was being photographed and documented by international press and they thought the best way to keep it off the streets, also to control the diseases that their soldiers were getting, was to actually create this institutionalized sexual slavery system.

KC: So how many of those women are still alive?

TIFFANY HSIUNG: It's hard to estimate a number because, like, in our story we talk about how it's been really hard for these grandmothers to actually come out and to share their stories. So the known amount of women in Korea that actually came out when this first came public in 1992 was, I believe, over 300 women came out publicly and now there is just under 50 that are still alive with us today in Korea. In China again, the number is so difficult to really lock down because only so many came out in China, in different regions but the region that I was filming in, that I was at was in Shaanxi province. And one of the educators there, the ones that went in and actually documented the women stories, he documented at that time when he started, was over 122 women in just that small region, only 122 that he had documented. And now today there are known three survivors that are alive today and one of them is in our film grandma Cao.

KC: OK, so let's talk about the women that you feature in your film. So you've got three grandmothers as they call them. There's grandma Gill from Korea, grandma Adela from the Philippines and grandma Cao from China. We'll hear a little bit from them before we go on. But, you know, before we play this tape, we should again say the stories are quite difficult to hear.


[Translated from Korean language]

GRANDMA 1: When I was 13-years-old, I got separated from my family without a single word. When I got there, I was made into what they call a comfort woman.

[Music: somber piano]

GRANDMA 2: They raped all three of us. They took turns. I was so weak I couldn't take it. I was only 14-years-old.

GRANDMA 3: I was impregnated by the Japanese soldiers at the comfort station. I almost died giving birth. Two years later, I returned home.

KC: What did they tell you about how they survived all of that?

TIFFANY HSIUNG: When I first met the grandmothers, what was so remarkable about them was, you know, their strength and their resilience after all these years, you know. What's really inspiring is their human spirit, like, they have been able to survive afterwards. And even holding that silence, even holding that, and their idea was just to protect the next generation, they didn't want to pass on that burden. But that shame was still very present. And for Lola Adela specifically, when she was taken, it was, you know, specifically her walking down on the streets thinking that it was safe to come out. And without even any mention to her family, she was just snatched off the street with her friends and they were locked up in a garrison, you know, for months and months at a time, not knowing if they would survive, not knowing if they would ever be released. And what was so shocking about her story is coming home and having her mom tell her that it's just best that we just keep this a secret, just between you and me. And so that silence, that really started at such a young age and passed down from her mother, you know, and that cycle just continued. And really the story is following that personal journey of, like, why and how they could live with that silence for so long and up to, you know, now in their eighties still holding that silence from their own families. And to me that's such an important story, it's a universal story really, that I think women today still face and still go through. And my curiosity’s always been like why, where does that come from and how can we change that?

KC: So let's listen to Grandma Adela talking with you about this in the Philippines.


TIFFANY HSIUNG: Your father never knew?

GRANDMA ADELA: No, until they died. I told my mother, we take it ourself, because at that time it’s really a big shame as a woman to be raped.

[Music: somber strings]

TIFFANY HSIUNG: So with your family today, you still have to pretend nothing happened?

GRANDMA ADELA: Yes. But they heard all about it, that this [unintelligible], are claiming for compensation.

TIFFANY HSIUNG: But they don’t know that you are—

GRANDMA ADELA: And they want justice, but they do not know that I am one. They expect me that I am only helping the organization.

TIFFANY HSIUNG: Will you ever tell your children?

GRANDMA ADELA: Never. I never tell them, even one. There would be shame on, they’ll be ashamed of me, I know.

KC: So she said she would never tell her children and she was participating in this group as a volunteer.


KC: They knew that she was going to these meetings but they didn’t know that she was one of them.

TIFFANY HSIUNG: [crosstalk] She was telling them she was a volunteer for a senior citizen group. And, you know, it was--

KC: Even though she was working with the comfort women.

TIFFANY HSIUNG: Yeah, and that she was one of them. And that was the lie that she was telling her kids too because she was so scared of being disowned by her own family. She was so scared of this idea that they would reject her and that they wouldn't want her around her grandkids. And so to see that, you know, over the years since I first met. I met her in 2009 and to see her go through that and to kind of just be on the sidelines as just being, you know, there present to observe her day-to-day life. Eventually, you know, she became more comfortable t,o like, start talking about it and bringing me into just kind of the things that she was thinking about. And, you know, she had this thought that oh, but maybe they did hear about it and maybe that's why, you know, they don't call me during Christmas. And, you know, you could see that it was still aching her, you know, that her heart was still heavy with this. And to watch her personal journey over these years, it is such a privilege to be able to document her and in such an intimate way, where I don't think that we get to see enough about when we talk about, you know, sexual violence or these types of atrocities. We never get to see that human spirit, we never get to see what happens behind the closed doors outside of the protest. And I think that The Apology, what we what we did, we were able to actually bring people into that space, where we can truly understand the impact of war. We could truly understand what it feels like to live through it all these years, to carry such silence with us.

KC: So Grandma Adela tells you at one point, she feels she has a thorn stuck in her heart. And then you capture this amazing moment where she decides to tell.

TIFFANY HSIUNG: Yes. So in that moment, you know, it was I remember that day, it was nerve wracking for all of us. You could imagine all these years I've been, you know, with Lola Adela, thinking, like, OK, this one time she actually told me, it's not in the film, but she told me, she's like, you know what Tiffany, after the film is done, this is how I'm going to tell them. I'm going to tell them to watch this movie and then they'll know all about it and that will be that.

TIFFANY HSIUNG: And I'm like are you serious? This is how you want to, this is [laughing] how you want tell your children? She said yes this is the best way to do it, we’ll just finish the movie and we'll just let them watch it. And to see her go through that transition and that personal journey of then wanting to actually make that trip and to then be able to confront and tell her eldest son, it was truly remarkable.

KC: What was the reaction from the son? You don't really see that in the movie, you see her sort of silently, you have it set up where you can see that they're talking and can see that the conversation is very intense but you don't hear what they're saying.

TIFFANY HSIUNG: No. And it was only afterwards when I met Eric afterwards, that he revealed to me what he was feeling and what he was going through. I mean, you have to imagine that something so shocking to hear about your own mother after all these years, and he's like in his sixties, right? So he's hearing about this just for the first time and so his own processing was difficult and a bit of frustration and anger. But it kind of, everything kind of made sense to him. But I think he also felt that pain from his mother of like why did you need to keep this a secret from us all these years?

KC: And you can see that she's quite, still distraught that she couldn't tell her husband.

TIFFANY HSIUNG: No, no. And that, you know, the time that we spent together, a lot of her stories actually were about her love that she had with her husband. Adela was fortunate enough, out of all the grandmothers, and most of the grandmothers that I met throughout all these years, she was one of the fortunate ones to actually have a life, get married, have children of her own and to create this quote, unquote normal, you know, life afterwards. And so you could say that she had the most to lose in that sense. She felt like she can never tell her husband because it was almost like she felt she was so fortunate to have and therefore it was she was going to protect this with all her life and she was not going to do anything to. And you see in the film she talks about it, she's like, you know, why would I say anything and in case, like, this will cause a broken family and separation. And so you can imagine, like, to be in her eyes and for most of the grandmothers, like, she was fortunate to carry on afterwards and to have this family and she would do anything to protect it. And if that meant to self-imprison herself in these stories and never pass it down, that was the choice that she had made in a very very early point in her life. But her husband was everything to her and the love stories that she told me, I knew that that was a big pain in her.

KC: Where did the village people think all these girls had gone? And when they came back where did they think they were coming back from? I mean, was there a knowledge about this that just wasn't talked about or did they sincerely not know?

TIFFANY HSIUNG: Absolutely. This is something that's not taught and not documented in their historical textbooks or are taught in schools. I mean, for Adela the story that she had told her father was that she was, when the war broke out and when the Japanese were occupying their city, you know, everyone was advised to just stay in their homes and not leave. And so I think her parents had assumed that she was staying with one of her friends over all these months and because it was advised not to wander the streets. It just so happened that she did wander the streets and that's when she got picked up by the Japanese soldiers with her friends.

KC: Now let's talk about grandmother Gill. Now, you have some interesting time with her. She seems to be almost fighting for this all alone now.

TIFFANY HSIUNG: She was one of the youngest and one of the latest to come out. And so she often said that she's the only one left to be able to continue this fight because she came out so late and the other grandmothers are too old to be traveling anymore.

KC: She's everywhere.

TIFFANY HSIUNG: She's everywhere. [laughs] She's remarkable. I mean, she's gone all around the world. In fact, she was actually here for our world premiere at Hot Docs. She flew in from Korea and presented the film with us. And prior to that, she's never actually watched a movie before in a cinema. And there she was, the first time she was watching a movie, it would be the story of herself. And it's remarkable because, you know, so much of her memory has faded over the years and so for her to watch her own life on the screen, it was phenomenal because she's remembering all the remarkable things she's done and the people that she's impacted and the love that she's received with her son, that intimate moment between her and her son. So it's been such an honour to be able to give that back to her.

KC: Now, grandma Cao is, she’s, well, tell me about her.

TIFFANY HSIUNG: [laughing]

KC: I’ll let you tell me.

TIFFANY HSIUNG: Grandma Cao reminds me so much of my own grandmother. And I think, like, I have connections with each of the grandmothers in very different unique ways. And with Grandma Cao, her relationship with her adopted daughter just reminds me of my mother and my grandmother. And this way of expressing loves through screaming at each other, [chuckles] you know, and it's just protecting each other. You know, it's like, why are you out here chopping up wood, it's so cold. Can't you see it's cold. It's like, oh, I just needed firewood. And she's so independent and that's why she lives on her own. Even at the age of, like, 92, she's still out on her own. And--

KC: [interposing] But she's out on her own in a very harsh.


KC: Place. She's chopping wood, she's scooping coal, she’s cooking over a fire, she's.

TIFFANY HSIUNG: And that to me, I always, like, you know, I questioned, I was like, oh wouldn't it be better if, you know, someone could just take care of her and she could just live a very peaceful, you know, relaxed life. But that was just part of her routine after spending so many years with her and observing her, like, everyone needs purpose. Everyone needs to also feel their own independence. And for I think grandma Cao, like, her strength comes from her stoicness, even her stoic silence, you know. And it makes sense because after all these years, they had to survive. After everything that she has gone through, two years captured, having a child. So it totally makes sense to me to see that she still carries and exudes that independence even at the age of 90. Just, yeah.

KC: And there's this wonderful scene where you get her a hearing aid.

TIFFANY HSIUNG: [laughing] Yeah.

KC: And then in this incredible moment, when she can finally hear and it's funny how you sort of trick her into admitting she can hear by asking her some questions about lunch or something. But then she tells you a story now that she can hear your questions, that even her daughter had never heard. You don't need to tell the, hold the spoiler alert here, but it's a remarkable scene.

KC: It's a remarkable scene and actually in that scene particularly, some background context to it, is that she actually waited for her daughter to leave for her to tell me that story, you know. And that's what for me, it was like, this is still going on. This idea that I can't tell that to my own daughter, you know. And that to me is like that it's not to say that she just didn't, she couldn't tell that difficult story to own daughter, but she could tell it to me, you know. And I think over the years the daughter's curiosity and just wanting to know and that moment that you did see, the daughter finally did, you know, have that spark of interest of OK, what really happened, what really happened back then? But in that particular moment after she was able to hear and we were in that room together just hanging out, you know, she waited till her daughter left the room and that's when it all came out. And I was just sitting there in utter shock, in utter shock.

KC: How did you come across the story of the comfort women in the first place?

TIFFANY HSIUNG: Well, I learnt about it because I was invited to actually document a study tour that was being hosted by ALPHA Education based in Toronto. And their mandate is of taking educators in North America to Asia to learn about these atrocities of World War II. And so I was there following these teachers along and watching them learn from all these survivors. And amongst all the survivors were these grandmothers that were coming into these conference rooms and testifying. And that's when I really first heard about the stories, directly from the survivors’ testimonies. And I was just shocked and blown away that these were stories that I've never heard about, never taught about and stories that were never passed down by my own parents when they talked about war and history. And so that really propelled me to want to hear more. And to see that, you know, when they were speaking about this story, there was a sense of like, just hear me, just believe me that this happened. And you could see that there's so much of that weight that they've been carrying and that they're finally letting it out. And I see that we all have that responsibility to do what we can to record, document and share.

KC: Was there doubt that it had ever happened?

TIFFANY HSIUNG: I think there was definitely doubt from, you know, like, the Japanese government that, you know, that they didn't want to admit for a very long time that this had ever happened, that they were, you know, responsible for this. And it went through stages of like, they're all liars, that they're not speaking the truth. But that's just absolutely impossible, [laughing] you know.

KC: And right now where are they in their attempt to get an apology?

TIFFANY HSIUNG: They're still fighting, every Wednesday. They're, you know, they're still hoping to get the official apology. An apology that actually recognizes their demands, which is really to educate the younger generation, to actually have this documented in history's textbooks, to actually have a museum that actually honours and remembers what has happened to them. These are the most important things for the grandmothers. Aside from the apology, the apology falls with these responsibilities that's up to the Japanese government to follow through with.

KC: The apology so far has been we'll apologize but we don't want you to talk about it anymore.

TIFFANY HSIUNG: Basically, and to remove all those peace statues that have been created all around the world.

KC: OK. Well, thank you very much.


KC: Tiffanu Hsiung is the Director of the NFB documentary The Apology. And she was in our Toronto studio. We contacted the Japanese embassy in Canada to ask about the status of an apology for the comfort women, it sent us a statement which we have posted on our website at

[Music: Credits Theme]

KC: And now it's time to give credit where credit is due. The week that was on The Current was produced by Idella Sturinho, Shannon Higgins, Howard Goldenthal, Ines Calabresi, Lara O'Brien, Julian Uzielli, Josh Bloch, Sujata Berry, Liz Hoath, Karin Marley, Kristin Nelson, John Chipman and Willow Smith. Special thanks this week to network producers Michael O'Halloran in Calgary Anne Penman in Vancouver and Suzanne Dufresne in Winnipeg. The Current’s writer this week is Pacinte Mattar, our web producer is Lisa Ayuso, our technical producer is Gary Francis and our senior documentary editor is Joan Weber. Our senior producers are Richard Goddard in Toronto and Kathy Simon in Vancouver. The executive producer of The Current is Kathleen Goldhar. That's our program for today. Earlier today, we talked about internet freedom in the era of soon to be US President Donald Trump. Well, few people were as passionate about freedom of speech online as Aaron Swartz. He was a whiz kid activist who co-founded Reddit. He believed so deeply in the freedom of sharing information on the web that he downloaded millions of academic journal articles because he wanted the information to be free to everyone. For that he was charged by the FBI and faced the possibility of 35 years in prison. Aaron Swartz took his own life at 26 in 2013. Our last word today goes to Aaron Swartz. I'm Kelly Crowe, thanks for listening to the Friday edition of The Current, Anna Maria is back with you Monday.


AARON SWARTZ: On the internet, I think the First Amendment takes on an even more important role because if you think about how computers work, they're not like people, they don't understand what it is they're saying, right? They just take a bunch of text from over here and paste it over there, they’re just big copying machines. I mean, that's inside, that's what they do, they copy things from one place to another. And so, laws about the content of speech which traditionally have been prohibited by the First Amendment, they’re almost impossible to execute on the computer, right? A computer can't look at this and say is this offensive? You know, a computer can't look at something and say does this upset the government? You know, it's not a person, there's just no way for it to know that. And so if you have laws saying that kind of speech is it legal? it makes it impossible for the internet to work, right? You know, every point along the system there's something being copied. You know, the little router you have in your house copies it to a thing down the street, copies it to a big building somewhere. Like, dozens of copies are made just in the most inconsequential task. And if every time the computer has to stop and say huh, is this illegal? The internet would fall apart, it would just be impossible to do.

[Music: Extro]

Back To Top »

CBC would like to acknowledge the support of the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund.