Wednesday January 10, 2018

January 10, 2018 Episode Transcript

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The Current Transcript for January 10, 2018

Host: Anna Maria Tremonti

STORIES FROM THIS EPISODE

Listen to the full episode

Prologue

[Music: Theme]

SOUNDCLIP

VOICE 1: I can't forgive Steve Bannon who's becoming quite notorious, for saying that my presidency's anything but glorious. Now Junior is another case, we all know just how green he is. He doesn't have my brain, 'cause I'm a very stable genius.

ANNA MARIA TREMONTI: The CBC's own Julie Nesrallah lending her professional operatic voice to a version of Pirates of Penzance with lyrics courtesy of the Twittersphere. All in reaction to the U.S. President's reaction to Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury. The fallout from that best-selling expose is still in motion with the latest news that Steve Bannon banished first from the White House has now said, 'bye bye' to Breibart. There is lots to ask Michael Wolff and he is waiting in the wings first up today. Last up will be more of that Pirates of Penzance rendition. And in half an hour...

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[Sound: Weary sounding cough]

AMT: As a particularly nasty, debilitating, and even potentially deadly flu grips Canada, the U.S., and other parts of the world, we are asking about the 1940s technology still used to make flu vaccines. Can you even call it technology when it's that old? Also today...

SOUNDCLIP

VOICE 1: Kazemi an Iranian-born photographer was arrested and accused of spying after taking pictures of a Tehran prison in June 2003. Eleven days later she was dead.

AMT: The Iranian Ayatollah who was Chief Justice at the time of Canadian Zahra Kazemi's murder in an Iranian prison is now in hospital in Germany. A former Canadian war crimes prosecutor says now is the time to get him. We will hear from Payam Akhavan in about an hour. We're also talking pay equity today on the radar in a big way after long-time journalist Carrie Gracie called out her BBC bosses and quit her China job.

SOUNDCLIP

CARRIE GRACIE: At the moment, good women are getting very frustrated. Their goodwill, thier loyalty is being exploited. And this has to stop.

AMT: That's in an hour. I'm Anna Maria Tremonti. This is The Current.

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Fire and Fury author Michael Wolff defends book, but feels 'guilty' about Steve Bannon backlash

Guest: Michael Wolff

SOUNDCLIP

DONALD TRUMP: I consider it a work of fiction and I think it's a disgrace that somebody is able to have something, do something like that. The libel laws are very weak in this country. If they were strong, you wouldn't have things like that happen where you can say whatever comes to your head. But just so you know, I never interviewed with him in the White House at all. He was never in the Oval Office. We didn't have an interview. And I did a quick interview with him a long time ago having to do with an article, but I don't know this man. I guess sloppy Steve brought him into the White House quite a bit, and it was one of those things. That's why sloppy Steve is now looking for a job.

AMT: Well it is a book that everyone is talking about - even Donald Trump. That was the U.S. President last week sounding off about the new bestseller, Fire and Fury. And his former strategist Steve Bannon, who he now calls sloppy Steve. Few books in recent memory have sparked the kind of press or presidential push back that this one has. And thanks, no doubt, in large part to the president's angry tweets about it - bookstores have been struggling to keep up with the demand. Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House is the work of journalist Michael Wolff, and he joins us from our New York City studio. Hello.

MICHAEL WOLFF: Nice to be here.

AMT: Nice to have you with us. As you listened to Mr. Trump there, was there anything he said you can agree with?

MICHAEL WOLFF: Every time I have now heard this president say this hundreds of times and each time I am struck by the fact that if this is a work of fiction, they are taking it very seriously.

AMT: How did you get that much access to the White House and the people who work there?

MICHAEL WOLFF: I hate to say - I wish I could say that there was some magic and some talent. But to be perfectly honest I just basically knocked on the door and arrived and didn't leave. Perhaps my talent is looking like the furniture because everyone was very accepting of the fact that I was there. No one seemed to question this. And everybody seemed to make use of me like a piece of furniture. But I was just the sounding board. The guy who listens - the black hole

AMT: So am I understanding this correctly - for about 18 months you sort of hung out in the West Wing?

MICHAEL WOLFF: I really - in the West Wing which would have begun of course on January 20th. So it was really from just after the inaugural on January 20th until Bannon left the White House or was banished from the White House in late August. And then there were several other times that I was back there. But basically I began writing the book in late August.

AMT: Okay, so they essentially let you in and they never noticed that you didn't leave.

MICHAEL WOLFF: Exactly.

AMT: Well we'll get to some of the fallout from Fire and Fury. But I want to talk about some of the specifics you detail in the book because you saw lots of things up close and personal. Give us an idea of President Trump's governing style.

MICHAEL WOLFF: I think the problem with that - I can give you an idea of his style. It would be hard pressed to give an idea of his governing style because I don't think that's really what he does. It's not really of concern to him governing. Governing would be a very difficult abstraction for this president. I mean anything that we would associate in any kind of traditional way of governing which has to do with process, which has to do with goals, which has to do with making choices and decisions, has to do with weighing a lot of information and a lot of data. None of these things are within the president's interests or frankly abilities. One of the major crises, a daily crisis, in this White House is how to get information to this president because he doesn't read and on top of that he doesn't listen.

AMT: You call him semi-illiterate in the book.

MICHAEL WOLFF: Well let me make the point - it's not that I call him this. I really am not the person cast - this book is not about my impressions of the president. This book is about what the people closest to him - how they perceive him and what they say about him. So to call him semi-illiterate - I frame that as that there is a constant discussion about what this might be. Why does he not read? Some speculate because he is literally semi-literate. Some that he's dyslexic. Some that he just can't be bothered. Some that actually say that this is his secret. His fundamental political calling card, that he is a post-literate president. All he does is watch television.

AMT: You quote Katie Walsh who was before quitting the White House deputy chief of staff who said - and I'm quoting here "It was like trying to figure out what a child wants."

MICHAEL WOLFF: In truth that's almost everybody. Actually everybody. Among the senior staff has at one time or another referred to him as a child. Sometimes he's an 11-year-old. Sometimes is a six-year-old. Sometimes he's a two-year-old. But all to the point that he needs immediate gratification. That everything is about that need.

AMT: And so how would that manifest itself in where you were as you watched the staff come and go?

MICHAEL WOLFF: I think one of the clear ways it manifests itself is in his Twitter behaviour. That White House is in a sense run by his Twitter account. I mean everybody is poised at the edge of their seats waiting to see what he's going to tweet. And every tweet changes the day and changes the nature of whatever plan they might have had, whatever policies they are pursuing, and whatever strategy they are trying to put in place.

AMT: And what did you learn about Donald Trump and intelligence briefings?

MICHAEL WOLFF: I mean you cannot - an intelligence briefing is a very specific exercise in being given information. It's all about the transfer of information. And he couldn't do it. He couldn't listen to it. He became impatient almost right away. And that was actually early on -and this started during the transition when a lot of the people around him began to become, if not quite alarmed yet, to take notice and to realize this was going to be a profoundly different kind of president and a different kind of situation. Again how do you get this guy to listen to information?

AMT: Well your book raises the prospect that he may be having cognitive problems. What's the evidence for that?

MICHAEL WOLFF: That's an issue that has really been raised outside of this book. And I certainly don't make the case in the book. I'm not a doctor. I wouldn't have the basis to make that case. But I do present the issues as outlined by the staff which is that everybody is aware of and disconcerted by his constant repetitions. And within the White House there's kind of a measure of this of saying, 'you know it used to be that he repeated the same three stories and he did this in the same words, the same facial expressions, the same tone'. You got those same three stories within 30 minutes. And as the months went on that began to shrink. And you would get the same three stories in 10 or 15 minutes.

AMT: And so how worried are the people in the White House about his mental state? What kinds of conversations would they have?

MICHAEL WOLFF: Well they are worried about the full range of things. Possibly his mental state. But as well just his standard behaviour. Behaviour that doesn't really have anything to do necessarily with a changing mental state. He's always been like this. So it is the difficulties - I would say probably there are two main issues. The personal difficulties of dealing with Donald Trump. And then the larger picture of what does this is mean? What are the implications? What happens at a moment in history when you have a president - and I think almost or I would say actually every member of the senior staff came to this conclusion - what do you do when you have a president who cannot adequately function in the job?

AMT: And you know Michael Wolff there has been fierce push back against what you have written, not just from the White House, but from other journalists. So I want to ask about your reporting methods. You have called what is in this book versions of events you believe to be true.

MICHAEL WOLFF: You know...

AMT: Believe to be true? Know to be true?

MICHAEL WOLFF: I'm going to do some some push back here. The kind of book I've written - I have not written a new kind of book. I've written a different kind of book then daily coverage. My model here - for better or worse is a Bob Woodward kind of model. You make a set of trade - in order to get this picture of inside the White House you make a set of trade offs. Exactly the way Woodward has done in a succession of books. As a matter in fact Woodward has in one - I think its The Agenda - has a disclaimer very similar to my own. That you are basically dealing with versions of the truth here. My job is to sort those and to produce a book, a portrait, which either comports with your idea of reality. Or you can say - I suppose you can say as the president does, it is fiction. The difference here is that this book has become partly to do with the president's actions. Something more than a book. It has become this huge event and phenomenon, again, largely because of the president's reactions to it. So I almost want to say I can't tell you what the truth is. You know don't looked to me to do that. I have just written a book. This is about what I saw, what I heard to the best of my ability, to get what I believe to be the true story. And as I say, it's in the end just a book.

AMT: How important is the former White House chief of staff Steve Bannon in having all of this happen in the way you've characterized all of this?

MICHAEL WOLFF: He was not the chief of staff. He was the chief strategist.

AMT: Yeah. Sorry, yeah.

MICHAEL WOLFF: Although that was part of the issues in this White House - who was the real chief of staff? And the answer is, there was no real chief of staff. Therefore there was constant disarray and chaos. Steve was one of the important sources in the book. Hardly the only source. He was one of the sources who was willing to go on the record. And more importantly - and I came to like Steve and admire his insights and also his language. When Steve opens his mouth, you think, 'oh my goodness. This is a level of vivid political conversation. The likes of which we have seldom heard'.

AMT: It's funny I actually thought this was as much a study of Steve Bannon. I learned more - like a lot about Steve Bannon through this book, as well as Trump. You paint a picture of a real - the infighting amongst Reince Priebus, Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon.

MICHAEL WOLFF: It was a White House which was completely fractured. In effect these people were - each saw the other almost as assassins. Nobody really cared what was happening outside of the White House. It was just a day to day battle for, I would say, partly influence but really even more a day to day battle for survival.

AMT: You say that in some ways that fight they would cancel each other out and that would lead to a paralysis. And that would lead to the fact - each man became an inveterate and polished leaker.

MICHAEL WOLFF: It's one of the interesting things - really interesting - and anomalous things about this White House that everybody maintained their own private press operation. And this goes for the president too. The president, you know, traditionally there is a press office, a press secretary - a Sean Spicer for the first six months of the presidency for instance. And that's the way presidents communicate. There are 40 people in the press office. The president had his own press person. Not the press office. His own individual press person, and was always running sort of back channel press operations. But it was only the president who had his own press person. Jared Kushner had his own. Jared and Ivanka had their own press person. Steve Bannon had his own press person. So the official - the 40 people press office - were sort of pushed to the side. So everybody was running their own freelance operation.

AMT: And yesterday we learned Steve Bannon has left Breitbart. He apologized to Donald Trump in the controversy after the release of your book. What do you make of all of that?

MICHAEL WOLFF: I don't really know yet. I mean I see Steve as - he was the chief strategist in the White House and Steve is a grand strategist. So he may very well have a plan. I hope he has a plaN. I feel personally - I feel bad. I feel guilty that Steve appears to be in a difficult situation. My analysis of this for what happened here would be something like, I believe that Steve was absolutely sure that Roy Moore, the Senate candidate in Alabama, would win. And that would be a big win for Steve and a big loss for the president. And it would have given Steve the leverage to go into the 2018 race. Now Roy Moore of course - when Steve was making this grand strategy Roy Moore had not yet been accused of egregious sexual harassment. I think that if Roy Moore had won then my book would have been another part of Steve - it would have helped Steve break with the president. And I think he wanted to break with the president. I think that he had come to regard Donald Trump as an idiot.

AMT: Could Steve Bannon still hurt the Trump presidency if he wanted to?

MICHAEL WOLFF: I think very much so. Yes.

AMT: Should we be watching the Mueller investigation on that front then?

MICHAEL WOLFF: I don't know how much - I mean Steve was always very careful to stay away from that question, the Russian question, the Russian issues. Steve would put it, 'you know I just don't go into rooms where they're talking about Russia'. So I think Steve's ability to hurt the president which would be vast because he knows the - he better than almost anyone else knows the inside workings of this White House. But I tend to think not on the side of the Russian investigation.

AMT: Michael Wolff we have to leave it there. Thank you for your time today.

MICHAEL WOLFF: Thank you very much.

AMT: Michael Wolff, author of Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, joined us from our New York City studio.

SOUNDCLIP

VOICE 1: I am the very model of a very stable genius. I have a mighty button and no problems with my penius. I have no time for television, golf, or social media, since my brain is way better than the best encyclopedia.

AMT: Once again mezzo-soprano and CBC host Julie Nesrallah singing a couple of playful tweets about President Trump's intelligence. Listen for more of those lyrics at the end of our program today. Meanwhile, the CBC News is next, And we are talking about the flu. I'm Anna Maria Tremonti. This is The Current.

[Music: Bridge]

Back To Top »

This year's flu shot may be ineffective, but you should still get it, argues Dr. Brian Goldman

Guests: Dr. Brian Goldman, Dr. Amesh Adalja

AMT: Hello I'm Anna Maria Tremonti and you're listening to The Current.

[Music: Theme]

AMT: Still to come, 74 cents - that is all Canadian women still earn for every dollar earned by a Canadian man. But the call for true pay equity has been gaining steam, with both the #MeToo movement and the high profile resignation this week of a prominent BBC editor. We are taking up the pay equity discussion in half an hour. And we'll hear about how a former Iranian leader may finally be held to account for the death of Iranian-Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi. But before we get there, taking the temperature of this year's colds and flus.

SOUNDCLIP

VOICE 1: I'm going to take a look in your throat here, okay?

VOICE 2: The new numbers from the CDC are no surprise to Dr. Kate Katzung. Another patient with flu-like symptoms ending up in her E.R. So far this flu season, a staggering 41,719 cases have been reported. Nearly three times more than this time last year.

VOICE 2: The San Diego County Health Department says the flu has gotten so bad it is now considering declaring a public health emergency. Several local hospitals.

VOICE 3: Jennifer Thew was a medical receptionist and she had been vaccinated against the flu virus. Nevertheless she managed to catch it. And on Saturday she died after being taken to Calvary Hospital here in Canberra.

VOICE 4: H.S. says that more people in Calgary have been given their flu shot this year in comparison to this time last year. But the city continues to be a hot bed for flu activity.

AMT: Well from Australia, to Europe, and right across North America this flu season has already been a deadly one. Australia's aggressive outbreak saw over 93,000 people fall ill last September alone. In France, nearly 12,000 people were hospitalized and 30 people died as a result of the flu over the holidays. And right now in the U.K. the cities of London and Dorchester are considered the only two places with no reported cases. Meanwhile, in North America what has so far been considered what officials call a "moderately-severe" flu season is expected to get worse. Calgary is considered the epicentre of Alberta's flu outbreak. This is Dr. Eddy Lang, head of Emergency Medicine in Calgary.

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EDDY LANG: We are seeing one of the most severe flu seasons that we've ever had. In terms of the number of cases identified were 50 percent higher and about 100 percent higher in Calgary than we have been in previous flu seasons. It's a particularly severe strain as well. In that it's causing prolonged illness with four to six days of fever, muscle aches, and cough. We are also seeing rare cases usually in the very young or the very elderly where the influenza is triggering a dangerous pneumonia that's requiring patients to go on breathing machines, to go to the intensive care unit, and those can even be fatal. So some of the hospitals in Calgary over the last couple of weeks - the entire capacity of the emergency department is full of admitted patients waiting for beds upstairs and have no place to go. So how can we see new patients coming in if our hospital was full of admitted patients - many affected by the flu. It feels very precarious at times that we're on the verge of a disastrous situation.

AMT: Well that is Dr. Eddy Lang, head of the Emergency Medicine in Calgary. Our own Dr. Brian Goldman is with me in our Toronto studio. He is an emergency room physician and of course the host of CBC Radio's White Coat Black Art. Hi Brian.

DR. BRIAN GOLDMAN: Hi Anna Maria.

AMT: That's quite the picture he paints there in Calgary.

DR. BRIAN GOLDMAN: Yeah it is. Calgary is truly the epicentre. More hospitalizations and deaths than any other part of the province. They were hit hard before Christmas and since. But the flu has also been quite bad in Winnipeg, parts of B.C., Quebec City, Montreal, Ontario is really starting to pick up, Ottawa, Waterloo, Windsor. And it's moving east as well.

AMT: So he talks about it's doing to the rest of the hospital just with so many people needing help. How are hospitals coping over?

DR. BRIAN GOLDMAN: Hospitals in Calgary aren't the only ones above capacity. In Quebec and Montreal Jewish General's emergency department is at 175 percent capacity. And I went there a few years ago to study corridor medicine - looking after patients on the corridor. So what do you if you don't have enough rooms, cubicles, for patients because you're full upstairs in the hospital. You actually have to have patients in the corridors. Laurentian Hospital had 156 percent capacity. Winnipeg Regional Health Authority announced on Monday that roughly 80 elective and non-emergency surgeries had been cancelled - postponed. Just yesterday Ottawa's Queensway Carleton Hospital cancelled elective surgeries and had a very overcrowded emergency department. So it's kind of the same story as Calgary and in other pockets in Canada as well.

AMT: So who should go to the hospital if they have the flu and who should stay home?

DR. BRIAN GOLDMAN: So this is a tricky thing because if somebody calls the emergency department and says, 'should I come?' We are trained to never tell people not to come if I can use the double negative because you have no idea how sick somebody is on the other end. So anything I'm saying about this is with that in mind.

AMT: You're speaking generally. Not specifically to any one person.

DR. BRIAN GOLDMAN: For anyone to come to the emergency department just come and don't ask. And don't say Goldman said don't go to the emergency department. But the people with the flu who should go to the hospital, who probably need to be hospitalized, have severe shortness of breath. These are people who either can't speak in full sentences or they're short of breath at rest, in a stretcher, or in bed, or in a chair, walking a few feet at their own pace. People who are severely dehydrated. So if you feel like you're passing out. If you have passed out. People who are confused and delirious. So that means loved ones who note that they're confused and delirious - they should be coming to hospital. So should people who have a persistently high fever - say 39 or 40 degrees that they can't bring down. And I don't mean for one or two days. But it's persistent for four or five days. Everyone else with a relatively mild case of the flu, in theory should actually stay away from the hospital so is not to infect other people admitted to hospital, who themselves may not have the flu, but if they get the flu now they are at risk of dying.

AMT: Wow. Okay so tell us about this strain? H3N2.

DR. BRIAN GOLDMAN: H3N2. This particular strain of influenza A is predominant right now. It represents nearly all the more than 11,000 confirmed laboratory cases of influenza A that have been reported so far this season. I am sure that number is being revised upward as we speak. Stains of H3N2 tend to cause more serious flu. This strain has been responsible for more than 1,000 hospitalizations and at least 34 deaths in Canada. In Australia it was the predominant strain that, for which there were 217,000 laboratory confirmed cases of flu during their winter - our summer. So from June till August.

AMT: So they've actually been through this. We can learn from them.

DR. BRIAN GOLDMAN: Yes. And in fact the warnings were there and they said that the vaccine was going to be 10 percent effective, which is not very effective. And will that be the case in Canada? We're not sure yet. The CDC - Centers for Disease Control in the United States - is still hopeful that it could be as much as 30 or 40 percent effective. But I wouldn't be surprised if it's that ineffective.

AMT: Does this strain H3N2 affect one group over another? Who is more at risk?

DR. BRIAN GOLDMAN: Well it tends to cause more serious illness in vulnerable people. So those who have weak immune systems. The very young. The very old. H3N2 through is crafty. It's difficult to develop a vaccine. By the way I should also mention that there is another strain of influenza which is unusual here. It started in B.C. It is influenza B Yamagata. And there are places in British Columbia where at least earlier in the flu season, 50 percent of the cases of flu were influenza B as well as influenza A, which is unusual. We don't usually have that. It's usually influenza A that predominates in the early part of the season and then as we get in to February and March that's when influenza B starts to peak.

AMT: So what happens when they kind of merge like that?

DR. BRIAN GOLDMAN: What happens is that you get more cases. You get more people who have the flu. More morbidity. Greater morbidity. On the other hand if the vaccine is a good match for Yamagata then people who got their flu shots might only be getting H3N2 and dodging influenza B, which is one of the reasons why in my opinion everybody should get a flu shot.

AMT: Well I was just going to bring up the flu shot. Okay so we don't know yet how effective this vaccine is?

DR. BRIAN GOLDMAN: Yeah. It could be could be better than 10 percent. But I know a lot of flu watchers are bracing themselves for saying that. And they'll know a little bit later on because surveillance was done to see who did get a flu shot and got the flu. So with the surveillance of cases they'll be able to determine how effective it was.

AMT: If there is a low efficacy rate, is the flu shot worth it?

DR. BRIAN GOLDMAN: This is where it gets really, really interesting because you get the controversy. People who are predisposed to not get a flu shot. This will be an argument not to get a flu shot. And in fact what's interesting here is that there's now a growing belief that even in seasons when a flu shot is relatively ineffective, it boosts something called cell-mediated immunity. Now cell-mediated immunity won't keep you from getting the flu. But it probably will keep you from getting the most severe consequences of the flu. A study came out that was published this week in the Community Medical Association Journal that showed that instead of picking and choosing which flu shot you're going to get. 'This one is infectable. I won't take it this year'. If seniors receive a flu shot annually every year without fail, they are half as likely to require admission to hospital, half as likely to die, half as likely to suffer the consequences - ending up on a ventilator as Dr. Eddie Lang mentioned as can sometimes happen in Calgary. And we think that the reason why that's the case is that the flu shot - even though it wasn't a good match - boosts cell-mediated immunity. Now the important thing about this is that cell-mediated immunity is the mechanism that researchers hope will end up in our receiving having a permanent durable vaccine. And maybe our goal of never getting the flu is the wrong goal. Maybe the goal is to make sure that nobody has to die of the flu - or as few as possible will die of the flu. And that's where research is heading.

AMT: And when we talk about deaths from the flu - again we're talking about - it goes after the respiratory system. That's how it can kill you.

DR. BRIAN GOLDMAN: Yeah. Your lungs fill up with fluid and you're not able to breathe, or your heart fails, or your major organs fail.

AMT: So what kind of advice do you have for people listening now in the coming days and weeks? People who think they have it and people who want to make sure they don't get it.

DR. BRIAN GOLDMAN: So I still believe you should roll up your sleeve and get the shot. And if you haven't, get it now. It will take two weeks to work, to develop antibodies - specific antibodies against the flu. Wash your hands thoroughly. Sneeze or cough into your elbow. Stop shaking hands because that's one of the ways that you can pass it from person to person. Keep an eye on people who are at risk. People in nursing homes, loved ones who are living at home more frail - frail seniors Especially people with chronic obstructive lung disease and heart failure because they are the ones that could turn on a dime and develop very severe pneumonia and respiratory failure. And they're the ones that need to be admitted to hospital.

AMT: So in terms of how this flu is being characterized now versus flus of previous years, this one worries you more?

DR. BRIAN GOLDMAN: It's causing more morbidity. It's still a seasonal flu. It's not a pandemic strain. So it's not a major shift where it's going to be affecting people who would otherwise not be affected - well it's going to affect large numbers of people if they're not immune. But it's not going to cause the morbidity that we're terrified of when it comes to a pandemic strain. Picking off young otherwise healthy people and hospitalizing people who would never be hospitalized or wouldn't almost never need hospitalization during a seasonal flu. This is a seasonal flu. It's a bad seasonal flu. But for most of us it shall pass.

AMT: Brian Goldman, thanks.

DR. BRIAN GOLDMAN: You're welcome.

AMT: Dr. Brian Goldman, emergency room physician and host of CBC Radio One's White Coat Black Art, with me in our Toronto studio. Well with Canadian hospitals straining to deal with this year's flu and reports of similar sick spots in other parts of the world, maybe it is time our health systems got a checkup as well. So joining us now to help with that is Dr. Amesh Adalja. He is a Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security. And he is an expert in infectious diseases, critical care, and emergency medicine. And we have reached Dr. Amesh Adalja in Los Angeles today. Hello.

DR. AMESH ADALJA: Hi, thanks for having me.

AMT: We just heard about the flu in Canada. How has the rest of the world fared when it comes to this year's flu?

DR. AMESH ADALJA: Not very well as your prior guest said. This is a moderately severe season and we're seeing hospitals all across this hemisphere really struggling to meet demands. And some of that is compounded by some of the shortages we have after the hurricane in Puerto Rico that caused shortages and IV fluid. So this is really a stress test for the health system of dealing with an infectious disease emergency and we're not doing very well.

AMT: And when we hear about deaths from the flu. Tell us more about what it is that will kill people because of the flu. Where is the susceptibility what actually kills people?

DR. AMESH ADALJA: When people die of influenza it's because the virus infects the respiratory track. Basically the war that goes on between your immune system and that virus causes a lot of inflammation in your lungs. And that inflammation leads to fluid building up in your lungs, pneumonia, and eventually it impairs the ability of your body to harness the oxygen that you breathe in and people become what's called hypoxic. They don't have enough oxygen in their blood and they may die from the inability to get oxygen to their vital organs. And a multi-system organ failure occurs, so different organ systems are all deprived of oxygen and they die. But it's really that the impairment of the respiratory system is how flu kills people.

AMT: And we were talking about the H3N2 strain and how it hit Australia earlier. Where did it originate?

DR. AMESH ADALJA: Well the H3N2 strain has been circulating for quite a long time. Since basically 1968 it's been one of our seasonal viruses and you have to remember that this flu virus in general is something that's not static. It changes. It alters itself. It mutates. And over time its mutations have occurred and we have different strains that occur. So the current strain - the one that we really noticed taking off for this season - started basically in the Australian region in the southern hemisphere which has the opposite flu season as we do in the northern hemisphere. And they started to notice that, that was a dominant strain and it wasn't well-matched to the vaccine strain. So it's something that's now become our seasonal H3N2 and will be accounted for in future vaccines. But the fact was that it emerged after the vaccine was manufactured and we were unable to the craft a vaccine quick enough to do that. So it's now going to be the dominant H3N2 at least for the foreseeable future.

AMT: How much of a challenge is it for vaccine experts to make a seasonal flu shot that is consistently effective?

DR. AMESH ADALJA: It's a huge challenge. Flu is a virus that is very able to mutate. Basically the way it actually survives in the environment is being able to mutate and being able to evade host immune responses. What makes it challenging for a vaccine is because, we make vaccines that target the part of the virus that changes. So our vaccine by definition is always going to need to be updated as the virus changes. This is something that we've been doing since the 1940s when flu vaccines were developed. And the fact is we also have to grow these vaccines in eggs. The majority of them are grown in eggs and that causes the vaccine virus to mutate so we don't always end up with the same thing we started with. So there's a lot of built in difficulties in making a good flu vaccine. And there's been big calls in the United States for universal flu vaccines that don't have to be changed that last for life the way almost the measles vaccine does. And that's really the holy grail in the flu field. But it's not - we're still several years away from even getting there. In the foreseeable future we're going to have this problem with flu vaccine mismatch and not having good efficacy against flu strains.

AMT: Now we're using the same system that was created in the 40s to make most of the flu vaccines. Has that technology changed over time?

DR. AMESH ADALJA: It has changed. But the predominant flu vaccine that most people get is still made in the exact same fashion. However we do have a few newer vaccines that have come out in recent years. One is the recombinant vaccine it's called Flublock. That's one that's made using recombinant technology. So there's no problem with it mutating in chickens because chicken eggs aren't used at all. So that's a really innovative vaccine that we're seeing have stronger efficacy against the ordinary one. And then there's another one that's made - the vaccine seed stock comes from a chicken egg but then it's made in cells instead of in chicken egg. So that's another way that you you can avoid the issue of chicken eggs because you can imagine chicken eggs, not only is it that people people have allergies that they can't get the vaccine, but it also is cumbersome to make them in chicken eggs versus cell technology. And then we also have vaccines that have adjuvants in them, which our immune system boosters. As well as higher dose versions of them. But in general all of those vaccines still need to be matched to the circulating strains. None of them are universal. Some maybe a little bit better than others. But we still don't have what are called game changing vaccines.

AMT: We do get the flu every year. Should we see this coming? Is there a way that we can be better prepared?

DR. AMESH ADALJA: There are lots of ways that we can be better prepared. We do have a lot of surveillance going on in other parts of the world where new flu viruses emerge. Places like China for example. The northern hemisphere and the southern hemisphere both kind of spy on eachother's flu season to try and predict what's going to happen. But the fact is when you make a vaccine there is a long lead time and that lead time forces people to make decisions very early about which strains they're going to include. So if something emerges at the tail end of the season than the other hemisphere, you're not going to be able to incorporate it into the vaccine because manufacturers need a long lead time because they're using chicken eggs to get enough doses ready. So this is an inherent problem in the way we manufacture them. We have to make these predictions very early. And those predictions can be wrong.

AMT: Overall how prepared do you think we are across North America for a flu pandemic?

DR. AMESH ADALJA: I think we're poorly prepared. We're better prepared than we were in 2000 for example. But I don't think that we're fully prepared. You can see that we're struggling with a moderately severe flu season and that's not a good sign. And I think that should be a wakeup call to policymakers and those who work in emergency preparedness that hospitals and health care facilities are not prepared for a severe flu pandemic. And this is the 103 anniversary of the 1918 flu pandemic and we're getting hit hard with a moderately severe flu season. And so I do think that there is massive room for improvement so that we're not going to be unprepared for the surge of patients that you're going to get during even a moderately severe flu season let alone a pandemic.

AMT: And the 1918 flu pandemic, was that the Spanish Flu?

DR. AMESH ADALJA: Yes.

AMT: It killed a lot of people.

DR. AMESH ADALJA: Yeah. Tens of millions of people worldwide. It was probably a global catastrophic, biological event in the likes of which we've never seen since. And I think it really should be something that should be in people's minds when we're dealing with a moderately severe flu season. Remembering what the power of influenza is.

AMT: Well what about preparation globally then? If North America is not prepared, what about other countries and other continents?

DR. AMESH ADALJA: Maybe the developed countries do have flu pandemic plans. But I would say that North America is probably the most prepared based on the fact that there was lots of investments made in the 2000s with the threat of bird flu. And the fact that we had a lot of exercises go on during the 2009 pandemic. But I do think that there is a general recognition by the World Health Organization and other public health bodies that influenza is the most pressing threat that we face. But there are developing countries who are still dealing with thousands of deaths from measles every year. So you have to assume that places like that are going to be really hard hit because they're unable to deal with the daily infectious diseases of their their populations, let alone a new novel pandemic strain.

AMT: We know that there has been research into flu outbreaks for decades. How far are have researchers come in finding a universal vaccine?

DR. AMESH ADALJA: It's kind of a joke in my field that it's always five years away. But five years always lapses and it's still another five years. But there are companies that are working very hard to do this. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease in the U.S. has really made it a priority and has been talking about it a lot. That this needs to be something that rises to the top of the agenda. And there are several companies that are working on it. But like I said, it's very tricky because you have to find a part of the virus that doesn't change. And that can be a challenge because this virus does mutate a lot. So they are looking at different parts of the virus and trying to figure out which is the best. But I do think it's going to be some time before we have a universal flu vaccine. So in the interim we have to get better at just doing the regular stuff well. Diagnosing flu, getting people on antiviral therapy, and getting people vaccinated with our ordinary vaccine.

AMT: I was interested in Brian Goldman was saying about the study that looked at if you get a flu vaccine - studying seniors - the Canadian Medical Association Journal saying that if you get it, even if it's not completely effective, it does have an effect cumulatively over time for some people.

DR. AMESH ADALJA: Yeah. There is emerging data that the flu vaccines do develop multiple different arms of your immune system. The new paper does show that the elderly who get yearly flu vaccines do seem to be protected. I think that's an interesting finding. I think it will require further studying and confirmation just to show exactly how that's happening. And we do know that even if our flu vaccine doesn't prevent you from getting the flu, it does prevent you from getting the severe complications. So hospitalization, death, pneumonia, needing a mechanical ventilator, needing to be into the ICU. So it's not when you hear these numbers - 10 percent or 30 percent efficacy - it's important to remember that those numbers are about getting the flu. So if you get a breakthrough infection with the vaccine, it's likely to be much less severe case than you would have got had you not gotten the vaccine.

AMT: Okay, well Dr. Adalja thank you for your insights today.

DR. AMESH ADALJA: Thanks for having me.

AMT: Bye bye.

DR. AMESH ADALJA: Bye.

AMT: That is Dr. Amesh Adalja. He's a Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security. We reached him today in Los Angeles. Stay with us in our next half hour. It is 2018, so why is Canada actually falling behind in terms of pay equity? Can we finally bridge that gap? If so, how? That discussion and more in about 90 seconds. I'm Anna Maria Tremonti. This is The Current on CBC Radio One, Sirius XM, online on cbc.ca/thecurrent, on podcast and on your radio app.

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Canada should work to arrest Iranian official hospitalized in Germany, says lawyer

Guest: Payam Akhavan

AMT: Hello I'm Anna Maria Tremonti and you're listening to The Current.

SOUNDCLIP

[Persian speaking language]

MANY VOICES: [Sound: Chanting in unison]

AMT: Well that is the sound outside a hospital in Germany, where Iranians were protesting the presence of an elderly patient inside - who happened to be the Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi. He was Iran's Chief Justice for a decade - from 1999 to 2009. And he is in Hanover, Germany for medical treatment. Some see that as an opportunity for justice for the family of Zahra Kazemi. You will remember Zahra Kazemi - she was born in Iran. She was also a Canadian citizen living in Canada. A photojournalist - she was arrested in 2003 after taking pictures outside Tehran's infamous Evin Prison. She was later interrogated and tortured to death inside its walls. That makes Ms. Kazemi one of more than 2,000 people known to have died in Iranian custody under Ayatollah Shahroudi's watch. And that's what brought out protesters last weekend at the Hanover neurological facility where he is being treated. It has also led German politician Volker Beck to file a political complaint against the Ayatollah while he's there in Germany. Payam Akhavan has been working with Iranian NGOs who have put together evidence against the Ayatollah for crimes against humanity. And Payam Akhavan is a former UN prosecutor. He served as a legal counsel before the International Court of Justice at The Hague and the Supreme Courts in Canada and the U.S. Payam Akhavan is in Montreal. Hello.

PAYAM AKHAVAN: Good morning Anna Maria.

AMT: Can you remind us again who Ayatollah Shahroudi is?

PAYAM AKHAVAN: Ayatollah Shahroudi was the head of Iran's notorious judiciary for a decade between 1999 and 2009. And during that decade, Iran's infamous revolutionary courts and prison system persecuted systematically political dissidents, religious minorities, human rights activists, political dissidents. Thousands of people - innocent people were sent to prison. They were subject to torture. That were subject to rape. Many were executed or simply died in prison from abuse. And of course in Canada we know the case of Zahra Kazemi, the journalist, that in 2003 after being subject to brutal rape and torture, died from cerebral hemorrhaging. And Mr. Shahroudi was the head of the judiciary. The infamous Saeed Mortazavi who was directly implicated by Iranian parliamentary Commission - in Zahra Kazemi's murder was a direct subordinate of Mr. Shahroudi.

AMT: And so you're telling me...

PAYAM AKHAVAN: To do an investigation. All that we have had is a cover up. No one has still been held accountable for Zahra Kazemi's murder.

AMT: So you're telling me though that you can connect the dots to the job he had in the kinds of deaths that have occurred under his watch?

PAYAM AKHAVAN: Yes, I believe so. There is been widespread systematic policy of serious human rights abuse under his watch and the Revolutionary Court in particular in Iran are one of the primary instruments of repression that has been used by the Islamic Republic of Iran. And under international law someone such as Mr. Shahroudi bears responsibility for what amounts to two crimes against humanity and massive abuses of human rights on a systematic basis.

AMT: So he is in Germany now. You're suggesting this is the time for the international community in Canada to pounce?

PAYAM AKHAVAN: Well I think that Canada should be requesting the German authorities to detain Mr. Shahroudi. And we should be sending some Canadian officials to Hanover, Germany to question him because he knows exactly what happened with the murder of Zahra Kazemi, at the hands of his direct subordinate Mr. Mortazavi. He knows what happened with the cover up that ensured that nobody is ever brought to justice. So in addition to the approaches that we've made to the German authorities to arrest him and I understand there is now a preliminary examination into his case, while we try quickly as possible to put together evidence - compelling evidence - of crimes against humanity case, which we're still working on. I think the Canadian government has a duty to pursue this matter. Zahra Kazemi was murdered. She was a Canadian citizen. And nothing was never done. I'm not even clear if the Canadian government ever opened a criminal file.

AMT: Right.

PAYAM AKHAVAN: It's never too late to do so.

AMT: So can he be prosecuted under German law. Do they have the right laws that can deal with this?

PAYAM AKHAVAN: Yes, like Canada Germany has what are called universal jurisdiction crimes, which includes crimes against humanity. And all courts have jurisdiction over such crime irrespective of whether it was committed. In Canada we had the [unintelligible] which was regarding the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Based merely on the fact that Canada had custody over the accused. So Germany now has custody over a suspect who could soon become formally accused. So there is jurisdiction. And Canada at the very least could join this effort by calling on Germany to expedite an investigation and to secure Mr. Shahroudi's arrest and seeking access to Mr. Shahroudi to question him about the Zahra Kazemi case.

AMT: And now I remember the case of Augusto Pinochet. He was arrested in London. Was he not? He was getting some kind of medical treatment and that sort of played out. Does this have some parallels?

PAYAM AKHAVAN: The parallels are quite remarkable because Mr. Shahroudi came to Germany as far as we know in his personal capacity. So he enjoys no diplomatic immunity. He's not immune from arrest. And it's quite remarkable that the German authorities admitted someone whose such a notorious figure for receiving medical treatment.

AMT: Would they have had to negotiate that? He can't just show up Can he like that?

PAYAM AKHAVAN: I think the German federal authorities have now admitted that they were not only aware, but they consented to his coming to Germany. So there is no doubt about that. And part of the effort to bring such perpetrators to justice is to send a message to them that they're not safe if they leave their country in which they hold power. That they will be pursued and there is now a sizeable Iranian diaspora - many of whom are victims of serious human rights abuses. And we have all joined forces in a matter of a few days - gather evidence at least sufficient to make Shahroudi into a suspect and to prevent his departure back to Iran.

AMT: So what's the reaction? Have you been in touch with Canadian officials? The minister or ministers responsible - or are there deputy ministers? What is Canada telling you? How interested are they in getting involved?

PAYAM AKHAVAN: It's not clear yet whether Canada will take any action and they may not have been really following this file. But I think they clearly should and now they're on notice that the man that knows everything about Zahra Kazemi's murder is sitting there in Hanover, Germany. I think it would be very unfortunate. That it would send the wrong signal if the Canadian government doesn't act. It would send a signal that we really don't care about the brutal rape, torture, and murder of a Canadian citizen.

AMT: So I guess the follow up should come from us on this end and our collegues. And maybe we should be asking the Canadian government about whether it is going to get involved because you're saying this is a real opportunity.

PAYAM AKHAVAN: It's a rare opportunity for justice and I would say it is the duty of the Canadian government to get involved to show that it will protect the rights of its citizens.

AMT: Payam Akhavan, thank you for your time.

PAYAM AKHAVAN: Thank you, Anna Maria.

AMT: Payam Akhavan, former UN prosecutor now working on the case in Germany against the Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi. We spoke to him from Montreal. We actually have contacted Global Affairs Canada. Global Affairs has written back to us and said, they are not ready to comment yet.

[Music: Bridge]

AMT: You are listening to The Current on CBC Radio One. I'm Anna Maria Tremonti.

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Women still earn 25% less as Canada slips down global rankings

Guests: Sarah Kaplan, Mary Cornish

SOUNDCLIP

CARRIE GRACIE: I could not go back to China and collude knowingly in what I consider to be unlawful pay discrimination. I could not do it. Nor could I stay silent and watch the BBC perpetuate a failing pay structure by discriminating against women. I can't do it.

AMT: Well until recently the woman you heard just there, Carrie Gracie, was the BBC's China editor. She's been making the news herself this week, after resigning that post, and publicly calling out her employer for pay inequity. Ms. Gracie says she quit that job after learning that two of the BBC's four international editors - both of those two men - were earning at least 50 per cent more than she and another female counterpart were. And her resignation has been met with a wave of public support. #IStandWithCarrie trended worldwide on Twitter. Many in the British media have spoken out in support of her.

SOUNDCLIP

CARRIE GRACIE: I think the scale of feeling not just among BBC women, but also just more widely across the country and also internationally, the support that I've had over this. I think it does speak to the depth of hunger for an equal fair and transparent pay system.

AMT: Now of course is Ms. Gracie's resignation comes at a time when the global lens has been focused on gender discrimination, particularly in the workplace. It is an issue Odette Robichaud knows well. Odette Robichaud is a court stenographer from Inkerman Ferry, New Brunswick. She fought for stenographers to be paid equally. And in 2016 the New Brunswick government granted pay equity to the province's courts stenographers, which amounted to $2 an hour pay increase.

SOUNDCLIP

ODETTE ROBICHAUD: We had some issues for a long period of time between other groups that were paid way much more than we were and we were of the opinion that in order to perform our duties as court stenographers we were not fully recognized and fully appreciated for our value. So when we achieved that let me tell you that I was quite pleased and quite proud that we were able to accomplish that for the workers more specifcally for the women.

AMT: Well despite gains such as, Ms. Robichaud's, today women working full-time in Canada earn 74 cents for every $1 full-time men make. And Canada is slipping compared to other countries. We have fallen in the World Economic Forum's global gender gap rankings from 19th place to 35th place in just two years. I'm joined now by two people to talk about all of this. Sarah Kaplan is the Director of the Institute for Gender and the Economy and a Professor of Strategic Management at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. She is here with me in our Toronto studio. Mary Cornish is a lawyer and the co-founder of the Ontario Equal Pay Coalition. She has represented women involved in pay equity cases. She is joining us on the line in Toronto. Hello to you both. Welcome.

SARAH KAPLAN: Good morning.

MARY CORNISH: Good morning.

AMT: Sara Kaplan, I want to start with you. When I look at some of these numbers - So where is Canada at in terms of closing the pay gap?

SARAH KAPLAN: Well Canada has not been closing the pay gap. That number that you cited is a number that has been pretty consistent for a number of years. And so if the idea was we are somehow making progress, we simply haven't. We've been basically plateaued for a number of years on this - on this particular issue as well as many others.

AMT: And why is that?

SARAH KAPLAN: Um, it's not just Canada that has plateaued on the pay equity thing. I think it's in many of the economies around the world even if you look at Nordic Scandinavian countries, you see the same thing because we have in some ways eliminated some of the most obvious ways that there has been pay discrimination over the years. And that movement happened in the 80s and 90s. And now what's left are the really tricky things to solve. And because they're hard to solve, you need to make a concerted effort on a number of fronts. It's very hard to get the willpower and that effort behind to make all of those changes.

AMT: Before we go any further. What's the difference between equal pay and pay equity?

SARAH KAPLAN: So pay equity basically means for people doing the same value work they should be paid the same. So comparing say, a housekeeper to a janitor. If the janitorial work is very heavily dominated by men, but housekeeping is heavily dominated by women, you want to make sure that female dominated profession is paid the same as the male dominated profession. That would be pay equity. Equal pay for equal work is for example the BBC example that we started out with, which is people doing exactly the same job, but getting paid differently. And both of those are factors that are contributing to that 74 cents number that you cited.

AMT: And so how complicated can it be to determine what constitutes pay equity?

SARAH KAPLAN: Determining pay equity I think is quite tricky because you have to be able to figure out equal value work and that's the work of the Pay Equity Commission. They spend a lot of time trying to actually establish, which are the jobs that are comparable and how to basically understand what is equal value and what should the pay equity be.

AMT: Mary Cornish, you were working on this issue in the 70s. How surprised are you that it's still such an issue today?

MARY CORNISH: Well I don't find it surprising because some of the same reasons for the problem both existing, exist now. And those are that essentially, women and the matters associated with women, continue to be undervalued in society. And that happened in the 70s. And we started to get laws that assisted in terms of trying to get at that problem and a variety of those laws came into effect in the 80s and 90s in Canada. But we've still seen a lot of resistance. We've seen it by governments and by businesses who actually, in the end, don't want to pay women more and rely on undervalued women's work in order to carry out their business, including the business of governments.

AMT: So where are we in the legal fight, Mary Cornish, for pay equity?

MARY CORNISH: There are two kind very leading cases that are now. One is before the Supreme Court - actually there is two of them out of Quebec -dealing with restrictions on the entitlements of women in predominantly female workplaces like childcare centres, where the governments have tried to limit the entitlements that those women have under the pay equity laws that they have. And the Supreme court is now reserved on that case. And those cases in fact were brought by unions, which is one of the factors in Canada that it's unions that have brought most of the legal battles. In Ontario, the case that we're waiting on, that I was involved in for the midwives, is against the Ontario government alleging systemic pay discrimination since 1994 against the midwives. That case has been reserved since last June by the Human Rights Tribunal. And that case alleges that the government in fact failed to carry out any kind of gender inclusive analysis and allowed the midwives pay to stagnate. The male dominated medical professions pay kind of leapt forward over the years, and leading to a very large pay gap. Both cases actually have brought forward the notion that you need to have gender-based analysis, which is something the Trudeau government has had in place. And we've had it since the Beijing Women's Conference back in the mid-90s, where Canada kind of invented gender-based analysis. But we still don't in practice carry it out.

AMT: Sarah Kaplan what's the cost of the gender pay gap to our society and to our economy?

SARAH KAPLAN: Well there are lots of costs. I think if we look specifically at the workforce itself, if women are underpaid, we know that there are morale affects of being under appreciated. That leads to lower work effort. And if we're concerned as we are in Canada about productivity of workforce this leads to lower productivity. Also what it can lead to is women opting out. They simply feel undervalued if they have other things pulling them away from work like family responsibilities in a country where women are still expected to do most of the family work and the care work. It's easier for them to leave work if they don't feel appreciated. And I think finally, when we think about the fact that women live much longer then men still on average, if women are earning less over their careers, they're going to have lower retirement savings potentially. And that's why we end up seeing the vast majority of people who are in retirement living under poverty are women. So I think the cost to the society as a whole and to the product of your workforce is extremely high.

AMT: In other words - like it starts young.

SARAH KAPLAN: Yes.

AMT: By the time we have older women in poverty we can actually see it coming.

SARAH KAPLAN: Yes.

AMT: Mary Cornish, who is most affected in Canada by the gender pay gap?

MARY CORNISH: Well I think what we've found is that in fact, if you are racialized, if you're Indigenous, if you have a disability, these are the women who have the highest gender pay gap. And so one of the importance of equity analysis is in fact to also have businesses and governments look at the impacts of their policies, not only on women in general, but on the disadvantaged groups within their workplace. So for example one of the things about the minimum wage, and we've had a lot of controversy about that in Ontario at the moment, is that the minimum wage is like a pay equity down payment for those vulnerable workers who are making very low amounts of money. It's a way of infusing more money into their pockets in a quick way. And one that doesn't require them to go through the whole evaluation process. And so there are a number of things we have to look at to try and get at the most vulnerable workers who are experiencing the gender pay gap.

AMT: And you talked about unions. You're talking about very vulnerable workers. What about those workers who are in maybe better paying positions and negotiate contracts? So women still end up with inequity?

MARY CORNISH: Well this is the other impact. What happens at various points is that men arrive in. They say what they got on the job before and that's the amount they want. Women to have been underpaid in the job they were in before and so there's this ongoing cycle that affects women at all stages of the economic spectrum, including higher paid women. There is also the effect of pay secrecy. Now this doesn't happen as much in unionized workplaces, where pay is more transparent. But in other places people keep the pay secret. Although it's interesting in the BBC which does have unions, but maybe not at some level at which these editors were at. Because England has paid transparency laws the BBC reporter - editor - actually found out the pay.

AMT: That's right. In fact I know because I know women who work for the BBC. Suddenly everybody could look at the salaries.

MARY CORNISH: Correct. And that only happened because of their pay transparency law. And the Equal Pay Coalition in Ontario has put forward a pay transparency law to the Ontario government, asking them to pass it by Equal Pay Day this year in April in order to try and get at some of these issues. So that women have some power in the workplace by having the power and know what classifications are being paid.

AMT: Okay, well you're talking about Ontario. Sarah Kaplan, is there a role for the federal government here?

SARAH KAPLAN: I think there's absolutely a role for the federal government or there is a role for government at every single level. For example just going back to this issue that Mary mentioned about using people's prior salaries to benchmark current salaries. For example in the United States, the state of Massachusetts, has now made it illegal for companies to ask people what their prior salary was and in part to get over that. And so I think whether we're at the provincial level or in the U.S. At the state level or the federal level, I think we can have every level of government should be doing this. And I think pay transparency would be much more effective actually if that were happening at the federal level and not just at the province of Ontario.

AMT: Sarah Kaplan, how do you rate Justin Trudeau's government on this issue so far?

SARAH KAPLAN: I would say that we are all very excited about the idea of the feminist government and the idea that gender analysis is going to take place. I think we are still waiting to see the degree to which it actually happens.

AMT: Mary Cornish, the Ontario Equal Pay Coalition sets out steps to pay equity by 2025. Here we are in 2018. Is that realistic?

MARY CORNISH: Well, we've been asking for that since 2008. So we did give them more time [laughs].

AMT: Sarah's smiling here - but I'm not sure. I think it's a rueful smile [laughs].

MARY CORNISH: Every year we have asked them to engage in a planning process. We've asked for that to happen at the local level, in municipalities, in provinces, to try and sort out what the gap is and then to take the individual steps to get there. And what we find is that we still don't have a plan from - certainly we don't have one from the Ontario government. People have asked it from the federal government. And individual workplaces need to have it. Businesses need to look at what is their overall gender pay gap in their entire business.

AMT: Okay.

MARY CORNISH: And then try and figure out how to get it closed. And it's that way that I think we can start making more direct action.

AMT: We have to leave it there. Thank you both for a your input on this one. Interesting that a BBC editor based in China can get us talking about this in a much bigger way. Thank you.

SARAH KAPLAN: Thank you.

MARY CORNISH: Thank you.

AMT: Sara Kaplan, Director of the Institute for Gender and the Economy and a Professor of Strategic Management at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. Mary Cornish, lawyer and co-founder of the Ontario Equal Pay Coalition. She represented women involved in pay equity cases. Both of them in Toronto. That's our program for today. Stay with Radio One for Q. Tom Power's guest is Brandon Flowers of the Last Vegas rock band, Killers'. Now, we started by speaking with Michael Wolff about his new book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. According to that book, some of Donald Trump's closest staff believe he may be mentally unstable. When that came out in the book, President Trump defended himself on Twitter. Writing - "throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart." He goes on to say in a tweet, "I think I would qualify as not smart, but genius..... and a very stable genius at that!" Well the Twittersphere starting with a user "Hunt The Shark" - took up the grandiose tone of that tweet, and ran with writing new Trump-inspired lyrics to the Gilbert and Sullivan tune. "I am the very model of a modern Major-General. So we asked mezzo-soprano and CBC host Julie Nesrallah to sing a selection of those tweets with a rag tag group of producers from The Crowd as her chorus. We'll leave you with that. I'm Anna Maria Tremonti. Thanks for listening to The Current.

SOUNDCLIP

VOICE 1: I am the very model of a very stable genius. I have a mighty button and no problems with my penius. I have no time for television, golf, or social media, since my brain is way better than the best encyclopedia site.

MANY VOICES: His brain is way better than the best encyclopedia!

VOICE 1: I raised the taxes on the rich by negative a Trillion. It cost the people not a dime but fifteen thousand billion. There's nothing that Obama passed that I will not eliminate. And now I will go golfing while America becomes so great.

MANY VOICES: Now we will go golfing while America becomes so great!

VOICE 1: I can't forgive Steve Bannon who's becoming quite notorious, for saying that my presidency's anything but glorious. No Junior is another case, we all know just how green he is. He doesn't have my brain 'cause I'm a very stable genius. I throw the finest tantrums; I'm repetitive and furious. When CNN airs anything too screwy to be spurious. My crooked doctor tells me I'm a paragon of sanity. And if you don't believe him, you can always ask Sean Hannity.

MANY VOICES: If you don't believe him you can always ask Sean Hannity!

VOICE 1: My rhetoric’s mostly stomping, screaming, beating my atrocious chest. But when it comes to bragging, I am still the braggadociousest. From cola-pitted bones to orange skin most pergameneous. I'm through and through the model of a bigly stable genius!

MANY VOICES: He's through and through the model of a bigly stable genius!

[Sound: Classical music]

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