Listen to the full episode
Our community is in a crisis. Our community is hurt. Those are our children, those are our future. We need help in our communities. Not just temporary help.
MARCIA YOUNG: That is Joshua Frogg a Wapekeka First Nation band council member and an uncle. His niece and her friend took their lives earlier this year. The girls were just 12-years-old. It has been devastating for the Northern Ontario First Nation. The alarm is sounding ever louder for help to arrive in a fundamentally different form. We're starting today with a medical doctor who knows that community well and who knew those two young girls. Dr. Mike Kirlew is a physician and an advocate, he’s coming up in just a moment. Then overseas, where soccer may be the sport of choice, but for some unruly hooligans the real action is off the field.
Nothin’ better than having a fight. And you don’t know if you’re getting your butt kicked and you don’t know if you’re going to kick someone’s. You don’t know even if you’re going to get bottled, you don’t know if you’re going to get glassed. That’s the exciting bit abou’ it.
MY: A surprising proposal from a Russian politician to make an organized sport out of soccer hooliganism to help control the chaos. The World Cup is on its way to Moscow next year, we're asking whether it's something worth thinking about. That's in a half hour. Plus, with a steady stream of former journalists taking jobs in the Trudeau government, there are fears the practice could be adding fuel to criticism like this, from pundit Ezra Levant.
Now you think I use the phrase media party as an insult, I don’t, I use it as an objective empirical description. They are a clique of friends in Ottawa and Toronto. They just love them their Justin Trudeau.
MY: The ethics of crossing over from journalism into a government, that's in an hour. I’m Marcia Young and this is the Friday edition of The Current.Back To Top »
'Our complacency will be paid for in full with children's lives,' warns Indigenous health care advocate
Guests: Dr. MikeKirlew
The cost of our complacency will be paid for in full with children's lives. Period. I remember the health minister, I heard her speak at a conference not too long ago, and she said something that I found very powerful. She made the statement — insist on equity. And I remember going back to the hotel room that night and thinking about what she said, she said insist on equity. She didn't say suggest equity. She said insist on equity. And that's what we're here to do.
MARCIA YOUNG: That passionate voice is Dr. Mike Kirlew. He was speaking just days after a tragedy at the Wapekeka First Nation in Northern Ontario. In the space of one week, two 12-year-old girls took their own lives. Their names were Jolynn Winter, and Chantell Fox. Dr. Mike Kirlew had been their physician. He is a family doctor in Sioux Lookout, Ontario and the surrounding area, including Wapekeka First Nation. Unlike many other health care professionals, he does not fly in and out. He has lived with his family in the community for a decade. He's become a fierce advocate for improved Indigenous health care. Dr. Mike Kirlew joins us from Sioux Lookout in northwestern Ontario. Hello.
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: Hello. Great to be here today. Thank you for having me.
MY: Thank you for joining us. Tell me about those two girls.
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: It's an extremely tragic situation. To lose two girls that young is very very tragic, very very tragic. But I must say, I've been exquisitely impressed at the community's resilience in pressing onward.
MY: There was urgency in your voice when you spoke just days after they had died. When you said insist on equity. What did you mean?
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: You know what, I'm going to bring up the example of Jordan's Principle. The Indigenous health care system is not designed to remember children like Jordan, it's designed to forget them. You know, and we often think that the Indigenous health care system is broken. I don't believe it is broken. I think that it is actually accomplishing what it was originally intended to do. The Indigenous health care system, as I've seen it over the past year, it wasn't meant to remember children like Jordan, or the two girls that passed away in Wapekeka or the countless of other suicides that we've had in our region. It was intended to forget them.
MY: Jordan's Principle is a policy that puts children first, and pays for children, whoever pays, somebody pays. But the children are put first.
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: Right.
MY: What exactly do you want from the funding?
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: I want there to be equitable funding, and that commitment for health care transformation. We pride ourselves in Canada, you know, on Medicare, our publicly funded single payer system. It's not a perfect system but I think it's a very very good system. And one of the things that I've noticed, because I had the opportunity to interface with both the federally run Indigenous health care system and as well as the provincially run health care system, is that the provincially run health care system is more focused on quality. It's looking at quality and looking at excellence. And it has accountability systems that are built into it. There are provincial health care quality acts, because we recognize that, you know, there's a big difference between doing health care and doing health care well. Where are those equivalent federal accountability measures? Is it clear that the provincial one applies on reserve? Is there a comparable federal system? We don't have those accountability measures. We don't have those quality of care measures in the federal system as you do in the provincial system. So not only do you need equitable funding, and we're not getting that. You also need system transformation.
MY: What are you getting? Two months have passed since the girls have died, what are you getting?
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: There are mental health supports that are in the community. I'm not seeing though that transformative change at the government level. If the system doesn't transform, this will be repeated, not might be, this will be repeated again.
MY: Is anybody listening to your warning?
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: We're stating it. I know communities have put forward, you know, as we learned about in Wapekeka, they had put forward community based proposals right? Months prior to this crisis and it fell on deaf ears. It fell on really really deaf ears. And, you know, I'm very concerned is the government serious about transformation? They need to get serious about transformation. And I'd heard actually the health minister make a statement once about innovation, right? And transformation. And that those things are always disruptive. You know, disruptive innovation. The system needs to be transformed.
MY: The young girls were your patients.
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: Yup.
MY: How are you doing?
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: You know, it can be, it's not easy. It's not easy at all, you know. It's not easy being a persistent witness to injustice. I've been in this region for ten years. I've seen things like children being denied care or trying to get children out for a hearing test or trying to get them out for speech language pathology and not being able to do so. Those things are potential limiting in children. And you've watched for the past ten years, where you've seen a lot of potential lost, and that's not easy. That's definitely not easy.
MY: And when people are discouraged they become depressed.
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: Yeah.
MY: And what has happened since January, since the girls died? Have there been more suicides?
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: In our region there have been more suicides. Not in the community, but in our region there have been in the Sioux Lookout zone. And that's what I'm saying, unless the system transforms there will be more suicides, not might be, will be.
MY: What are some of the simple things that can help that is not equitable. That you think could make a difference right away?
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: Mhm. Well like, for example, ensuring kids have access to developmental services. If those developmental services are available in the region, funding their travel out to access those developmental services. I've had children that need, as I was saying, speech language pathologists. You might even have the speech language pathologist in Sioux Lookout, where I live, that's willing to see the child. But getting them funded to travel to see them, that's what the problem is.
MY: And what about, you talked about a hearing test. That's a pretty simple thing to do in the city.
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: Well, and the thing is sometimes it's not that it's not an issue of that it isn't available, it's issue that what are the bureaucratic barriers that are in place to prevent children from accessing those services, right? Sometimes to get the hearing test, you might have a specialist and Sioux Lookout 500 kilometres away who's willing to see the child. It’s who's going to pay for that child to fly down to access that particular specialist? And sometimes there might be policies like you can get the hearing tests covered if you already have a proven hearing deficit. But if you need to make that initial diagnosis then you can't get the hearing test covered. So again, it's bureaucratic barriers. And that's why I'm very committed to health care transformation. And what am I hearing? I'm hearing this notion of incremental change, right? Let's take the current system and let's tweak it, right? Let's take the current system that we know is based on colonization. Let's put in some good sentiments, let’s put in some good intention there and then let’s expect it to produce better outcomes. It's not. It’s not going to produce better outcomes. You don't get better outcomes by incremental change. Just like you don't get the light bulb by incrementally changing a candle.
MY: How can you keep fighting? It sounds so frustrating.
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: It can be. You know, and it is. And, you know, sometimes you have to wake up in the morning and you just stand in front of the mirror, and you look at yourself in the mirror, and you just have to be deliberate and intentional in your decision just to not let colonization win today. In the little I can do as a physician, I'm not going to let it win today.
MY: So speaking of colonies, your parents are Jamaican.
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: Yeah. Yeah.
MY: But now Canadian living in Ottawa. So that would make you a first generation Canadian, much like myself. You are a 20 hour drive away from Ottawa where you grew up.
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: Exactly. And that's a good 20 hour drive.
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: Twenty hours is actually driving pretty fast actually. [chuckles]
MY: Hey, that was Google maps, it wasn't me.
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: There you go. That's driving pretty fast too and stuff, so yeah.
MY: Well, what's it like to be in a community where you probably stand out. I know they call you Dr. Shakehand. [chuckles]
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: Yeah yeah yeah. No no. I love working in Wapekeka, I love working in Sioux Lookout. You know, the community was extremely welcoming. You know, the community has been through this tragedy but there have been tragedies in the past. And just to be able to see, I call it like an infectious resilience, you know what I mean? Like, that's transferable and that's a privilege to be witness to. You know, it feels like home.
MY: Well after 10 years, and you've got kids there too.
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: Yeah yeah. I have three kids.
MY: And a wife. And what about your kids, how are they taking in the dynamics of the situation that's going on in Sioux Lookout?
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: It's interesting, because I find my children, they ask the questions, right? Like, sometimes they can ask the questions that really gets you thinking. Like we’ll drive to a community, you know, a First Nations community, and they'll say something like why isn't the road paved where our friends are? Why is the roads paved in Sioux Lookout and not paved in some of the communities? People have cars there, don't they need paved roads? Now, you know, it's interesting, like, you’ll hear a statement like that from a 9-year-old child and, you know, you've been driving down that dirt road for a long time right? You know, we don't even think about the difference. But they pick up how come the gravel roads only go to certain places? That's a good question to ask right? Like how come the dirt road in this country only ever seems to go down one fork right? When we look at our relationship with the First peoples of this country, you know, we have all this evidence of systemic inequity right? Inequity in terms of the education system, inequity in terms of the healthcare system, inequity in terms of the child protective system right? Not only with inequitable funding but as well as with just systems that are dysfunctional, that are not working. They’re kind of like we take colonial systems and we just put good sentiment on them and they really haven't changed, and they're still giving the same old bad outcomes.
MY: And you're also doing another bit of service work.
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: Yeah.
MY: Which is teaching students, medical students how to be better doctors.
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: Yeah yeah.
MY: I've been listening to your podcasts. [chuckles]
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: Oh yeah.
MY: I really like them.
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: There you go, there you go.
MY: But they're really great and they kind of reminded me of, you know, the old school pastor preaching.
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: Oh really? Oh my God.
MY: Yeah, except you're talking about pediatric pneumonia. But let's take a listen to what you're telling some med students.
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: Alright folks, are we ready to rock?
STUDENTS: Yeah. Yeah.
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: Everybody say yes I am ready to rock.
STUDENTS: Yes, I am ready to rock.
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: Excellent. Sudbury, I want to hear you. Yes, I am ready to rock. Excellent, right? So CCFB 2017 examination. Duh duh dun. Everybody agree after me, say I’m going to do awesome.
STUDENT: I’m going to do awesome.
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: I’m going to rock this.
STUDENT: I’m going to rock this.
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: Excellent, excellent. OK. So, you are working in the metropolis of..
STUDENTS: Sioux Lookout.
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: You are working in the metropolis of Sioux Lookout. And you are on as the resident and next you have a 43-year-old male that comes inside the emergency department, and he’s looking pretty sick. So remember we said what our first three letters that we consider? Is our A, B..
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: Excellent. So A stands for?
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: So what’s you what’s your simplest airway question? Is open or..
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: Open or..
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: Open or..
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: Excellent. So if my airway’s closed, I can open it. Does that make sense?
MY: We could auto tune that. [laughs]
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: [laughs] A lot of repetition to get, you know, people to understand those concepts and then some. So, yeah.
MY: Now who exactly are those students?
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: Those students are actually residents, so at the end of family medicine, the residency write a big examination. So that's kind of what we're talking about there. So just to give them some, I try to put in a lot of real world experience. Like, I'm a rural health care practitioner and it works a little bit different in a very rural and remote setting. The practice of medicine than let's say if you're in a big city, right? We don't have the type of specialist backup like you might have in a larger centre. You know, we're not going to have some of the equipment and we're not going to have some of the diagnostic tests. So I try to provide some of that real world anecdotes, I guess you could call them, and try to throw in a little humour in there as well too, to kind of keep it interesting, to keep people awake, right? So.
MY: Now what difference do you hope to make for the students?
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: You know it's I hope to, I want medical students and I want residents and medical learners to not just be bystanders in systems that they see are unjust. I had a med student just tell me recently when we were working in Sioux Lookout, how do I reconcile with what I see with what the value system that I was taught if they aren't congruent? How do I recognize, how do I reconcile that? How do I reconcile that we were taught that we're in Canada, we believe in things like justice and equity and fairness but I'm not seeing that?
MY: What do you tell them?
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: You know what, I say that at some times in life you have to make a choice. You have to say are you going to be a bystander and watch or are you going to advocate? That's the decision that you have to make. Sometimes the advocacy that you can do as a clinician is just being a witness to the truth that you see on the ground. Some of it’s not about doing something big, it's just about, you know, being a witness.
MY: What is your biggest frustration?
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: It's not seeing that transformation. You know, I'm not, I I'm impatient for that transformation. Additional funding is needed, there is no question about that. But we have to move beyond just incremental change and we have to commit to system transformation. And commit to that disruptive innovation that the health minister talked about. It's going to be disruptive in the sense that governments are used to doing things a certain way and have been doing things for a certain way for a very long time. But it's not working.
MY: And you say something about a litmus test?
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: Yeah.
MY: What do you mean, what are you talking about?
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: Well, like for me, the litmus test of reconciliation isn't it not equitable treatment? That's what the litmus test of reconciliation is. It’s that am I treating you fairly? Am I treating you equitably? That's the litmus test of the reconciliation.
MY: So has that frustration, that litmus test, not passing that litmus test. Has it ever made you want to leave?
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: Again, you know, yes it has. You know, I would be lying if I said I hadn't considered it. You know I mean? But, you know, again, that resilience, you know, is what keeps you there, right? And the people is what keeps you there. You know, that resilience in the face of adversity, you know. Can you imagine losing two, you know, it's not just two kids, it's two relatives, sisters, cousins, you know. You know, your intimate family. And then you speak to somebody and they tell you, you know what, we're down now but we're going to be up again.
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: We were down before and we got up, right? That's what infectious. That's what keeps you there.
MY: What do you want the federal government to do in the immediate future?
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: They have to be committed to transforming their system. The system is bureaucracy centered and not patient centered and community centered. And they have to not only fund the system more equitably, but they have to be committed to system transformation. Outcomes do not improve with just good intentions or sentiment. You need to have a commitment. A deliberate intentional commitment to improving healthcare quality delivery. That's what makes health care outcomes improve. And right now I am concerned because that patient focus isn't there, that patient centeredness that we talked about in the provincial health care system. That's why we have things like in the province of Ontario, you know, family health teams and different sort of practice models to encourage that we're using patient centered approach and not system centered approach.
MY: Alright, thank you so very much. We'll leave it there.
DR. MIKE KIRLEW: Thank you so much. Great talking with you today.
MY: Dr. Mike Kirlew is a family physician in Sioux Lookout and the surrounding area in northwestern Ontario. We had hoped to speak with Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott today so she could respond to Dr. Kirlew’s comments. She was not available but we're hoping to schedule an interview in the future. If you have thoughts about the obstacles facing health care for Indigenous communities in the north and what could be done about it then we want to hear from you. Tweet us @TheCurrentCBC, post on our Facebook page or email us by clicking on contact at cbc.ca/thecurrent.
MY: The CBC News is next. Then, talking about fight club. A Russian politician's proposal to make an organized sport out of soccer hooliganism sheds light on the ugly side of the beautiful game. I’m Marcia Young and you're listening to the Friday edition of The Current.Back To Top »
Legalizing soccer hooliganism won't prevent fan violence, say experts
Guests: Dougie Brimson, Eoin O’Callaghan
MARCIA YOUNG: Hello, I’m Marcia Young and you're listening to the Friday edition of The Current.
MY: Still to come, from covering the government to working in it. Since the Liberal government took power, at least half a dozen journalists have moved from jobs in media to jobs inside the corridors of power. Is it something to be concerned about? We'll discuss the ethics of what journalists sometimes call going to the dark side in half an hour. But first, imagine going to a fight and seeing a soccer game break out.
[Sound: crowd yelling, fences rattling, bottle smashing]
MY: That's how it sounded off the soccer pitch and on the streets of Marseille, France during last year's European Championship. Violent clashes between soccer fans left hundreds of people injured. The clashes primarily involved fans from Russia and England. That stoked fears about the likelihood of bloodshed at the 2018 World Cup, which will be held in Russia. This week however, a novel idea from a Russian lawmaker caught the world's attention. Igor Lebedev proposed a solution to hooliganism — organize it and make it a spectator sport. He seems to be putting forward a sort of fight club scenario to stop violence from spilling out into the streets. We have two guests with us who have some thoughts on this idea. Eoin O'Callaghan is a soccer journalist and broadcaster in Toronto. Dougie Brimson is a former soccer hooligan. He's also an author and has written several books on the topic. He joins us from north of London in England. Hello to you both.
DOUGIE BRIMSON: Hello.
EOIN O'CALLAGHAN: Hello.
MY: Dougie, let's start with you. How realistic is this idea to legalize soccer hooliganism?
DOUGIE BRIMSON: Well, on the face of it is a laughable idea and has quite rightly been dismissed out of hand as being foolhardy, to say the least. However, if you look at it objectively, ten years ago we would never have thought for one second that we would have mainstream TV showing stuff like mixed martial arts, cage fighting, which we have today. So is it really that much of a stretch to see a sport involving groups of ten people fighting each other in a stadium? Personally, I don't think it is. I don't think it is right but I don't think it’s beyond a stretch of the imagination.
MY: Eoin, I want to bring you in on this conversation, how seriously are people taking this idea?
EOIN O'CALLAGHAN: Well I think Dougie makes an interesting point. I mean, Lebedev is a little bit of a loose cannon and, you know, we heard that last summer, in terms of the kind of championing that he was doing of the behaviour of Russian hooligans in France. And I think that he is dangerous in all of this because, you know, anytime there's a major tournament, what you want it to do is to make a statement and to make the right statement. And I think Russia has a well-worn and well-documented problem with violence and racism and xenophobia down through the last number of years, particularly as social media has increased, it's becoming easier for the wider world to see these incidents take place. And the reaction by a lot of hard core Russian fans we need to improve this stuff. We need to tell the world that not everybody in Russia is a football hooligan. Not everybody in Russia is a racist. A lot of us want this stuff to change. You know, CSKA Moscow is one club that has been relatively notorious. They've really really tried through supporter groups to increase awareness and to do the right thing. So ultimately, it always comes back to politicians being unhelpful in situations like this. They open their mouths, they think that they're playing to the crowd and ultimately you find yourself in situations here where you're trying to think long term. And actually, what's the effect of this guy opening his mouth again? And whenever there is a major tournament, even a small little off the cuff remark can be a damaging slight on the actual helpful stuff that people are trying to do over in Russia at the moment.
MY: And when we talk about hooligans, we're not just talking about people who are yelling in the stands. It gets more serious than that. Dougie, what exactly do we mean when we say hooliganism in this context?
DOUGIE BRIMSON: Hooliganism is a catch all term, I think that's one of the real problems with it. Any anti socialite, if you've got someone who doesn't go to football, who’s merely going about their own business and you've got five lads walk down the road who stare at him funny and shout rude things whatever, they're hooligans. People like to tag everything antisocial associated with football as hooliganism and it isn’t. We often, nine times out of ten, in fact in 99 times out of 100 we would come under attack rather than attack anybody else. So you need to be on your game, you need to understand what's going to go on and what's happening. You need to understand if amongst a group of home fans walking away from a ground are 20 lads who are looking to take you on. Now, you ought to know when you're away that everybody who is with you had your back and they have to know that you've got your back. It's almost a military part of the thing. And that to many of them, that was the attraction. You know, being a kind of in a little gang if you like. And hooliganism is akin to a gang culture. It’s a schizophrenic gang culture because it only happens on football match days. You know, it’s not a profession. And it's just about shared experience. The real problem for football isn’t organized hooliganism, it’s disorganized hooliganism, the stuff that happens off the cuff, the type of stuff that is spontaneous. Because the organized stuff, the kind of thing we saw in Marseilles, the authorities police football so tightly now. But they should be aware of that, they should be on top of that already. The fact they know is one of the great debates, and you do have to wonder when we’re talking about a subject which really kicked off in England in the late seventies, mid-eighties, you know, why are we still talking about it 30 years later as a major problem? And that's purely down to the fact that the authorities have never grasped the realities of what hooliganism is, why it exists, why it continues to exist? Because they don’t understand it and they’ll never understand it because they continue to apply rational reason into it and it is completely irrational.
MY: There are a lot of people who really believe that a central part of hooliganism is racism, sexism, and homophobia, which I know Eoin you’ve said is like the elephant in the room when it comes to hooliganism. What is that culture really about?
EOIN O'CALLAGHAN: Well I think that, you know, for instance, preceding the Euro 2016 tournament last summer, you did have a couple of these unsavoury incidents that happened in the lead up to it. In terms of hooliganism and that term, which Dougie says is that kind of generic term that everyone seems to use when talking about various things. You know, you did have political, social aspects to all of this. You know, when you look at that footage of English fans in Marseille last summer, you know, F Europe we’re all voting out was one of the chants, right? You know, so I mean, you cannot just kind of throw your hands up and say these guys are just, you know, all enjoying a bit of a party and a bit of a knees up in Marseilles in the middle of the afternoon. Well you can do that, but you don't have to bring politics into it, and you don't have to have to, you know, be insinuating this sort of stuff, you know. So there is that aspect to it. Obviously, and Dougie I'm sure can talk more in depth about this himself, you know, the origins of hooliganism is essentially far removed from that. You know, there is a culture of it's on its own that developed and was curated over a period of time where hooliganism was really a subculture in itself. You know, essentially outside of that kind of racism, homophobia, xenophobia kind of category, it existed on its own. Whereas watching the behaviour of supporters in France last summer, I don't think it was a coincidence that it was a hotspot. I don't think that the timing of it was coincidental because there was other things happening. You also remember we've just touched on maybe the policing and the authorities in this, France at the time was on high alert due to the possibility of a terror attack. And that's where their focus was at that particular moment in time. So maybe there was a vulnerability in those other little sparks that kind of exploded on the streets, in terms of fans fighting, because the focus generally was elsewhere. The threat was bigger, you know, in terms of what France was experiencing. So there were people who maybe wanted to cause trouble and found a gap and they went with it.
MY: Dougie, what is the attraction to hooliganism?
DOUGIE BRIMSON: Can I just go back over.
DOUGIE BRIMSON: I could not disagree more with what you just said. Everything you just said. The political side of the thing, the political chanting that came from the England lads, you know, one of the things about chanting in football, English football fans have a reputation and it’s well deserved, it’s traditional, it’s historical, and it is well-deserved. But English football's cleaned itself up markedly since well, the last World Cup in France. To the point where the traveling England supporters very rarely actually cause any trouble. Trouble tends to find them because they’re still held up as the, you know, the number one, the archetype of hooligan nation. Now, what happened with the political chant, and everybody has an image of England football, they’re just playing up to that image. So the chants about the EU were inevitable. I don't think they were driven by any real political movement within football at all, because I don't ever think that’s really existed. There was a time when the right wing took a foothold in football for sure, but that was purely because it was a fertile recruiting ground for the right wing. It’s nothing like that anymore. Absolutely not.
EOIN O'CALLAGHAN: But for instance, they weren't standing there in the middle of Marseilles saying let's all remain in Europe, that's all really great for us. I mean, you know, they're chanting right wing sentiments. You know, so you can’t kind of.
DOUGIE BRIMSON: Whoa whoa whoa. Leave Europe is right wing? That’s not true.
EOIN O'CALLAGHAN: Well, I think it’s generally kind of regarded as.
DOUGIE BRIMSON: That’s generally regarded but it’s not true.
MY: But it's a choice to fight, it’s a choice to get involved in that scuffle.
DOUGIE BRIMSON: This is another thing. Don’t get me wrong, I'm not defending what went on at all. What happened in Marseilles was completely unexpected, particularly from the English side. The Russian attack came out of nowhere. And what you saw there was a clash really of hooligan cultures. You had the old school English lads who just drink and if trouble turns up, you know, they’ll have a rile, usually nothing overly violent, just lots of numbers and then lots of stuff being thrown about until the police come in and calm it all down. Then you had the Russian lot, the new highly organized, highly trained, very violent and in the aftermath of that, the Russians claimed a massive victory. This is where really, Lebedev came into it. The Russians claimed a massive victory over the English hooligans.
MY: Well let’s hear--
DOUGIE BRIMSON: So when you saw the trouble the next day, that was when England started to get themselves organized, and then you saw the kind of thing we used to see back in the eighties and nineties, where England lads would stand together and actually take the fight to somebody else.
MY: I want to play you a clip from a BBC documentary called Russia's Hooligan Army, which we've voiced over.
VOICE 1: [Russian speaking language] I'm a regular guy, growing up on the outskirts of Moscow city. I graduated from a very ordinary Soviet school but hooliganism has given me principles and courage. Some get it from sports, some from prison, I get it from hooliganism. This is a special feeling to get adrenaline when adrenaline poisons the blood and you get this feeling that you're on the top of Everest you can do anything.
VOICE 2: [Russian speaking language] Our internet is full of videos where guys are fighting at competitions, organizing their own fight clubs. It's different values. We are all learning to fight now. It's a normal tendency. It's a healthy Russian man. We are done with the silly fandom where you sit in a bar drinking beer and then beat up whoever. We are on a new level as I see it and feel it.
[Sound: boxing gloves punching]
MY: That clip is from a BBC documentary called Russia's Hooligan Army. Eoin, what does that tell you about soccer hooligans in Russia?
EOIN O'CALLAGHAN: I think you have to put it in context a little bit. I think that in terms of the production of this documentary, you're going to Russia with a preconceived plan, you’re going to Russia to sit down with hooligans and discuss with them what they're going to do at the World Cup next summer. I think, you know, they're not going to sit there before you and say ah, you know what, we're probably not even thinking of going. Of course there's going to be an element of bravado to this, of course they're going to be talking about how they're going to do the English supporters when they see them. You know, how it's going to be 100 per cent violence, how it's going to be all encompassing. But ultimately, I mean, I'm not sure what anyone expects from when you sit down with guys who, you know, have that kind of self-proclaimed, you know, superiority as being the, you know, the go-to hooligan Russia or whatever it is. You know, I think that we have to look at maybe Russia's past in dealing with major sports events, in terms of how they're going to deal with the 2018 World Cup.
DOUGIE BRIMSON: It's important to note, these forest fight things, these have been going on for a decades. This is nothing new. It's become a big deal because they’ve started filming themselves and posting it on YouTube all the time. You know, as the guy said, there’s loads and loads of them. Eurotrashed, which looked at the hooligan scene in most of the countries across Europe. And it was interesting, doing the research for that, how different it was in every country. I mean, if you look, like a country like Italy, where the ultra groups are almost professional, and they're so very tightly allied to the clubs, to the point where certain clubs in Italy, they're terrified of the ultra groups, the power they have over the club is immense. Spain is going the same route. France is going the same route. Now, that's very different from the kind of hooliganism we have in England. Yet we’re still held up as the archetype.
MY: So how bad is that for the game or how good is that for the game?
DOUGIE BRIMSON: Well there is an argument in the mid-seventies, from the mid-seventies on, that the hooligans were the only ones keeping football going, because they were the only people going. And the irony, you know, lots of people have discovered television, there was all sorts of other ways for people to spend their money and spend their social time, going somewhere where you're at risk of getting attacked which was not a viable proposition. But the hooligans kept going because football was them, it was only when Thatcher came to power and she handed the place all kinds of powers to combat the hooligan threat. And there was a marked demise in hooliganism from ‘85 on.
MY: Well Dougie, you were kind of part of that hooliganism. Why were you in it?
DOUGIE BRIMSON: Why?
DOUGIE BRIMSON: Because it was fun.
MY: But you could get hurt.
DOUGIE BRIMSON: And it’s as simple as that. That was a risk we was prepared to take. I mean, it's guys who are involved in this kind of culture, they do it for life. You know, they're always in and on the peripheries of that scene, whether they're actively fighting or not is largely irrelevant. The culture that allows hooliganism, and again, this is this catch all term, hooliganism. It's just the way we go into football. You do it because it's fun. It's a social thing, you know, you're with a group of lads who you go to football with week in week out, year in year out. And you travel around the country and you, you know, nowadays you meet groups, more for a drink and a laugh than anything else, it’s very rare you see any trouble. But it is you do it because it's fun. Even if you go, when we went somewhere in the eighties, if you went somewhere and, you know, didn't get jumped, didn't get attacked, didn’t get involved in violence, that was often as much fun as when you did. I mean, there's no fun in taking a kicking, believe me. But it is part and parcel of your season of following your club. Sometimes you got attacked, sometimes you attacked, sometimes you had a laugh, sometimes you didn't. That's the way it was. But you continue to do it because you enjoy doing it, that's what you did. So it's irrational.
MY: Eoin, we are looking at the 2018 World Cup. How much violence do you think or what can we expect?
EOIN O'CALLAGHAN: I think, you know, firstly Russia don't like being told what to do, and they don't like the West wagging the finger at them and telling them how they should do things. And I think that that's, you know, there's been a documented problem in Russia in terms of other elements, and there has been an attempt to get better at it. So I mean, I really cannot see the World Cup in 2018 being, you know, a cacophony of violence and other not very pleasant aspects to it. I think that ultimately World Cup tournaments are remembered for the football and nothing else. Yeah, now, with that being said, did I expect a major incident in Marseilles between Russia and England fans last summer? No I didn't. But it's, I think, Russia for lots of different reasons are under pressure with this World Cup next year. And, you know, as Qatar will be four years after that. The whole world is watching you for various reasons and I think it's, you know, ultimately, there's a lot of scaremongering that occurs on the eve of tournaments. I think it's just the natural thing to do. You know, you become accustomed to these discussions about, you know, what's the policing going to be like? And what's this social aspect going to be like? Is there going to be an explosion of this? I think there's probably much more people who want things to happen in Russia next summer than actually will end up happening. Which is a good way to be. I think it's a great opportunity, a lot of people I've spoken to immersed in Russian football, they just want to show the world that, you know, that it's important not to tar everybody with the same brush. And that yes there's a reputation in Russia, but not everyone is cut from the same cloth. Ultimately, when you host the World Cup tournament anywhere, it's about the game itself. And Russian football fans want people to remember that. And ultimately, you know, it's the first World Cup to ever be held in Eastern Europe. This is a big moment for them and it's an opportunity for them as well. And I think ultimately, going on the history of all of this, that, you know, it's unlikely, everything needs to be conceptualized obviously, but I think that, you know, the talking beforehand, there'll be a lot more talking than it will be in terms of unsavoury incidents.
DOUGIE BRIMSON: Yeah, I think that's absolutely correct. I mean, I spend a lot of time in Russia talking to Russian football fans, and one of the ways you’re going to deal with this. I mean, you've got to persuade these guys not to behave. You know, you've got to persuade them, that it's not in their interest to do what they say they're going to do. And I don't think they're going to do it anyway. But one of the ways to do that is to say to them everything you do reflects not on you, it reflects on Russia.
EOIN O'CALLAGHAN: Mm.
MY: We'll leave it there. Thank you both. Goodbye.
DOUGIE BRIMSON: Goodbye.
EOIN O'CALLAGHAN: Goodbye.
MY: Eoin O'Callaghan is a soccer journalist and broadcaster. He was in Toronto. And Dougie Brimson is a former soccer hooligan and author. He was near London and England. You're listening to the Friday edition of The Current on CBC Radio One, I’m Marcia Young. Now for a preview of something coming up next week on The Current. Anna Maria Tremonti will speak with author Bill Schutt about his new book Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History. Yep, the author is a zoologist who has explored cannibalism throughout the animal kingdom — including humans. But it turns out the black widow spider is not synonymous with as synonymous with cannibalism as you may think. He says there's a different spider to watch for that.
BILL SCHUTT: Oh I would say the Australian redback has got to be the my favourite example. So this is a cousin of the black widow spider and this is another example where the male is about the size of a throw pillow compared to the female, if you wanted to envision them having relations, that's kind of the picture.
BILL SCHUTT: And, yeah, so the idea here is that the male is probably not going to encounter many females in his life, and when he does, he wants to mate with her and pass on his genes and to the next generation. So after mating with the female, who's as I said much larger than he is, so they meet face to face and then he does this somersault that presents his abdomen right next to her mouth and she responds by starting to eat his abdomen. He crawls off after a bit and tries to put himself back together and then crawls back into the web again and mates with her a second time, after which she wraps him up and consumes him. And we think, looking at this from a research perspective, that what's going on here is that, as I mentioned, this male is probably never going to see another female again, so why not give her a good meal to fatten her up. And studies have actually shown that females who do consume their mates will not mate with other males and will produce more eggs and more offspring, and will actually be healthier than females who don't consume their mates.
MY: Author Bill Schutt will be Anna Maria Tremonti’s guest next week on The Current to talk about cannibalism. Coming up in our next half hour, does it just make sense for journalists to take jobs in government? Or does it erode the level of trust in our press or in our democracy? Those questions and more, in about 90 seconds. I’m Marcia Young and you're listening to the Friday edition of The Current.
[Music: Extro]Back To Top »
Does public trust suffer when journalists cross over to work in politics?
Guests: Paul Adams, Michel Cormier, Chris Waddell
MARCIA YOUNG: I’m Marcia Young and you're listening to the Friday edition of The Current. The news business in this country has had a tough go of things lately, with a good number of journalists being let go from their jobs. But there does seem to be at least one place hiring Canadian journalists right now — the Liberal government. Since coming to power in October of 2015, at least half a dozen prominent Ottawa writers and reporters have gone to work for the government. Some have taken positions as communications directors for cabinet ministers, others are policy advisers, or have posts directly inside the prime minister's office. The latest hire was former National Post columnist Michael Den Tandt last month. And then the prime minister's communications director announced the hire, there was quite the reaction on Twitter.
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VOICE 1: There's no clear evidence of compromised reporting, but journalists need a cooling off period between covering the government and working for it.
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VOICE 2: I agree Don. Hard to escape conclusion that this could have something to do with the erosion of public trust in media and government.
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VOICE 3: How many columns about Ottawa politics did Michael Den Tandt write while in employment contract negotiations with Gerald Butts?
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VOICE 4: The steady stream of journalists running to the Liberal Party is mind boggling. Hard to escape the public trust and media fury.
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VOICE 5: Do you have a quorum in PMO for a full on media party now?
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VOICE 6: People make their own decisions on what's best for them. But yeah, this whole thing is super uncomfortable for the rest of us.
MY: Some concerns posted on Twitter, and voiced by producers here at The Current. And full disclosure, I should note that two of those who have taken government positions are former CBC journalists from the Parliamentary Hill bureau. Today as part of our occasional series Eye on the Media, we ask what's at stake when journalists take political jobs? Michel Cormier is the Executive Director for News and Current Affairs at the CBC's French language Radio-Canada. He's in our Montreal studio. Paul Adams was a Parliament Hill reporter for The Globe and Mail and CBC, these days he's an Associate Professor at the Carleton School of Journalism and Communication in Ottawa. He's in our Ottawa studio. Hello and welcome to you both.
MICHEL CORMIER: Good morning.
PAUL ADAMS: Hello.
MY: So Paul, let's start with you. What did you make of the reaction to Michael Den Tandt’s departure from the National Post?
PAUL ADAMS: I think it's an overreaction. I think if you look, for example, south of the border, you see lots of journalists who move back and forth between the media and government. I think in doing so they actually enrich both. There are skills that reporters have, in terms of analysis, in terms of writing, in terms of understanding the media landscape that they can bring to government. Government’s an important function in our society. And, you know, as a matter of fact, I think it's not a bad idea for some of those people who have spent time in government to come back into the media. I wouldn't want to see the press corps completely filled with people who were former government people, but I think that they bring knowledge to the press corps which is valuable. So I, you know, I know some people see this as a kind of corrupt revolving door. I don't. I think that journalists, when they are journalists, need to respect the standards of the profession and if anyone is skewing their coverage in order to get a job, that's a bad thing. But I think that, you know, when the job ends, when you leave the media, you have a right to seek employment elsewhere. And, you know, there isn't the same sort of protest when reporters, you know, who often are having difficulty hanging on to their employment in this industry, when they go to business or lobbying or labour or NGOs. These are all also institutions that they cover. So where are they supposed to go? Sell shoes or go into the monastery? I'm not sure that it’d be good for the religious institutions.
MY: Oh everyone dreams of retail, no? [chuckles]
PAUL ADAMS: [chuckles]
MY: Michel Cormier, what goes through your mind when you see prominent political journalists leave to work in the prime minister's office?
MICHEL CORMIER: Well, I mean, it's classic, it's legitimate if people want to do that, you know, they should be able to do it. I don't, just don't think they can come back and be credible journalists. So I take issue with Paul's analysis. It's always very difficult for a news organization when this happens because then people say well they were tainted all along, they were spies for either the Liberal Party or the Péquiste or whatever. So it's always a very difficult situation for us. We've had a few in the last few years who didn't go to work as press agents or analysts but who left actually Radio-Canada to become either a Liberal or P-Q candidates and ended up being cabinet ministers. So that's a different kettle of fish. But, you know, I couldn't see myself, you know, having these people come back as journalists once they've been in politics.
MY: Well why not? They certainly would have a great amount of expertise.
MICHEL CORMIER: Yes. But then it's just, it's the credibility issue. How can you be objective if you actually towed a party line for a number of years? And I think it's even more, you know, serious these days when people, when the trust in the media and in public institutions is at a historic low. You know, I think it is legitimate for people to want to do this. It's fine, if you want to serve in that capacity. But once you've crossed that threshold, I think it's very difficult to come back.
MY: Paul, journalists sometimes characterize this kind of character move as going to the dark side. What do you think of that?
PAUL ADAMS: I just can't stand that. I mean, this is something, and believe me in my, you know, 20 years in the media I probably use that expression too, when somebody left to go work for the government saying oh, he's gone to the dark side. You know, this is born of the adversarial relationship that reporters have with government. And that's quite appropriate that we have an adversarial relationship to a degree, because as reporters we're meant to hold the government to account. And it's just like a crown prosecutor has a particular role in government, or sorry, in the courtroom. But if a crown prosecutor becomes a judge or a defense attorney, that doesn't mean that they've gone to the dark side. That's confusing the role that we have in the system, in the democratic system, with the system as a whole. People inside government are important for, you know, our healthcare, our education, our rights, our law and order, all of these things are, you know, vital to society, and people who work for the government are doing an important function, just as journalists are.
MY: There are fewer journalists in the press gallery now than there have been in the last 22 years. Do you worry about the government poaching or governing party poaching journalists who are covering politics?
PAUL ADAMS: Well, it's really not a demand side thing here. It's, you know, what's happening is Postmedia has shrunk vastly, for example, from, you know, dozens of reporters to three now, I think they have in their bureau. So really what's happening is that some of the people, Den Tandt, Mark Kennedy, Bruce Cheadle from Canadian Press, some of the people who went over in recent months have been really some of the finest journalists of their generation. And I can't speak for their individual circumstances but I think in many cases people get to a certain place in their career and they can they can see in their say 50s that there is no future for them, that they can't be certain that they're going to get to retirement and still have a job and so they begin to look. And in some cases, they're being pushed out, in some cases they're jumping but, you know, it's not because the government is trying to suck them up that they're leaving the media. Primarily, it's because the media is deserting the people who, you know, who sustain their reputation.
MY: So Michel, let's talk about what happens when these people want to come back. What's your thinking?
MICHEL CORMIER: Well, we have, [clears throat] excuse me, we have a protocol when this happens. I mean, the journalists are supposed to advise us as soon as they're actually considering or, you know, have decided to leave the business and then we take them off the air. And in case of people becoming then candidates for an election. You know, if they lose the election, they can come back. But then there's a two year cooling off period a purgatory where they won't be on the air and will be able to cover, you know, whatever issue they would have been associated with which is generally politics. I mean, this happened only once. I mean, often people even when they lose, they've decided to leave the business. What we also do is that we have a thorough investigation by the ombudsman's office to look at their work and, you know, in the preceding years and then to make sure that there was no obvious bias. But that's always seen as quite self-serving by opponents or even by the public because it, you know, it's a very subjective thing when you're a political reporter. People always imagine that you're on one side or the other, so it is an important exercise, but at the same time he does have its limits.
MY: We also asked CBC's director of journalistic public accountability for his take on this. And here's what Jack Nagler says about how the CBC overall, handles this issue.
JACK NAGLER: If say the job that they’re going to overlaps with the beat that they were covering previously, so we'll go back and we'll review the journalism that's been done just to make sure that there isn't anything that might cause us concern. But it's one thing if you get approached, but if you're actually contemplating it, we would expect people to come to us and say look, I'm considering this. And, you know, we would have to figure out again, what's the best way that we can protect the integrity of the journalism so people have confidence that what they're hearing on the radio or reading on the website or seeing on television is independent and impartial.
MY: Michel, do you think journalists should be upfront about their personal political leanings in the first place?
MICHEL CORMIER: Well that's a difficult question. I mean, you know, it depends what kind of media you're working for. You know, at Radio-Canada and CBC we have a very thorough standards and practices. In terms of the journalism, you're not supposed to express opinions or ideas that, you know, have a point of view and that's the rules of our business. Other media have different rules. So, you know, whether we should move away from that, I think is very difficult. If we start that, it opens the floodgates to political opinion and that it would change, I think, as a public broadcaster the whole image that we project. I just want to pick up on what Paul said, and I think he's right in saying that we shouldn't exaggerate, you know, the current crisis of people going over to work for the Liberals. I mean, it does happen every time you have a new government. People actually do leave the media to actually participate in the new government. Maybe the most the most prescient example was that of the first Mulroney government, when you had very prominent people like Bill Fox from The Star or Luc Lavoie from TVA who went over and became the, you know, the press secretary to Brian Mulroney. This does happen and it's not, you know, it's not that new that this is happening now, it's actually quite normal.
PAUL ADAMS: And I saw a lot of New Democrats on my social media feeds getting outraged at Den Tandt moving to the Liberals. Meanwhile in Alberta, I think there are 20 members of the press corps that have gone over to the Notley government. And of course, under Stephen Harper we had famously Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin.
MY: Yeah, they've gone over. Now Paul, how frequently are journalists approached with political job offers?
PAUL ADAMS: Probably a little more often than we realize. Because I think a lot of people get approached and rebuff those approaches. I think when the job market is secure on the media side, I think that most journalists love their jobs, they take great pride in their jobs. You know, in my experience, most people who leave the media don't leave the media because they want to go somewhere else. They usually leave the media because they've reached a blockage in their career, because they're burnt out from the work demands, that kind of thing. So, you know, in my experience, I've heard a lot of people who got approached and just simply rebuffed the approach. And so, you know, it does happen. I don't think that simply an approach is an issue, I think really the issue is, as Michel says, when if you get into negotiations, then there's a professional duty there, there's a responsibility, there's an ethical responsibility to recuse yourself from writing about whatever the subject is under discussion. And if that's the government, then that means, you know, going and doing something else for a few weeks until you sort this out.
MY: And would you share that with a manager that you’re in negotiations?
PAUL ADAMS: Well I think that's a delicate subject, right? I think that, you know, if I’m at a law firm or a bank, I don't necessarily run to my boss when somebody approaches me from a rival institution. But I think that you need to take steps at the very least, to avoid giving the appearance that you are writing about people who are soliciting you for a job.
MY: Michel Cormier, have you been approached?
MICHEL CORMIER: Yes. I resisted the urge. It was a long time ago. It was either in Ottawa or Quebec City. I was very young reporter, so I had the same reaction as Tom Brokaw when he was approached to be Nixon's press secretary. You know, it’s the last thing I want to do.
PAUL ADAMS: Mhm.
MICHEL CORMIER: So but I think, you know, it's an interesting question because, you know, people who work on the Hill often spend their whole life working there. And after a while, I mean, you look at the, you know, the shortcomings of government and you're always analyzing policy, this is how the government should do stuff. So after a point it is I guess understandable that people say well let's have a shot at it.
MICHEL CORMIER: But I think it's also the attraction is not just a question of the fact that you've plateaued in your career or that the job security isn’t there. But also I think it's a fact of being there for so long and just having the temptation to go in there and do better than the people who are there.
MY: Thank you so much, both of you.
PAUL ADAMS: Thank you.
MY: Michel Cormier is the Executive Director for news and current affairs of the CBC's French Language Service Radio-Canada. He was in our Montreal studio. Paul Adams was a Parliament Hill reporter for The Globe Mail and the CBC, and is now Associate Professor at the Carleton School of Journalism and Communication. He was in our Ottawa studio. Let's bring in one more perspective from someone who started his career in government then went on to some high profile work in journalism before moving on to academia. Chris Waddell worked with The Globe and Mail and the CBC before moving on to Carleton University. He's now an Associate Professor in Carleton’s School of Journalism and Communication. He's in our Ottawa studio. Hello Chris.
CHRIS WADDELL: Good morning. How are you?
MY: I'm good. Why do you think we've seen so many journalists move into government communication roles?
CHRIS WADDELL: Well I think a lot, I wouldn't disagree much with what either Michel or Paul had to say. I think what also happens though in addition to that as Michel said, it happens when there's a change of government often, a new government is coming in. And particularly the Harper government may have been a little more extreme, but even traditionally, government cabinet ministers and even backbenchers on the government side tend not to talk as much to journalists as the opposition. So the opposition wants attention when they're in the opposition, so it's not uncommon for journalists to actually build good relationships with opposition MPs. This is a little different in the Conservative period, because much of the rise of the Conservative Party was from the Reform Party, which characterized itself as being outsiders and the media as being part of the Ottawa establishment. So but normally journalists tend to have good relations with opposition MPs. When opposition MPs come into government, they look around for people that they need to have to work for them. And in some cases, they’ve built relations with journalists. And for the reasons that Paul and Michel note, journalists may be interested in changing jobs. Ezra Levant would have you believe that there's something about the Liberal Party and the Liberal government. What do you think about that idea?
CHRIS WADDELL: Well I remember when Ezra Levant was spokesperson and press secretary for Stockwell Day. So he's experimented on both sides as well. That didn't last too well or too long. I believe Mr. Levant, when he was there, one of his ideas was to have everyone go down rather than do scrums in the foyer of the House of Commons, we should all go down and have a more formalized news conference with the leader of the opposition every day after Question Period. That didn't last very long. But so, you know, Ezra has, like everyone else, he's done work on that side and now he's doing work on the other side.
MY: When a journalist makes that move to government, does it in any way de-legitimize the work they've done up to that point?
CHRIS WADDELL: I think it's very difficult to make an argument that it does. People can go back and look and try and find, try and find examples of where someone may have written something that's totally, or reported something that's totally at odds to what they had done before. I think it's not surprising in some level, that journalist’s main loyalty and journalist’s main responsibility should be to their audience, their listeners, readers, and viewers. And you don't want to do anything that makes your audience think that you are doing anything other than applying your best judgment to every story, covering the various sides you can find in a story, and presenting it in as accurate and complete a fashion as possible. If your audience starts to think that other things are entering into the decisions you make as a journalist, in terms of how you structure a story and what it’s made up of, that can be a problem. So in the case of journalists who go to work for politicians, I think as Paul said, it's ideal to either have a period of when they're not in front of the public or not on the air. But retrospectively, it's impossible to know whether that coloured someone’s coverage during the period they were leading up to before they departed.
MY: So leaving journalism can get you a higher salary if you go into the government for many people.
CHRIS WADDELL: Yes.
MY: [laughs] What might motivate a journalist to make a big career change other than, you know, the money?
CHRIS WADDELL: Well I think the things we've talked about. 20 years ago, the media looked like it had a secure future and is around for a long period of time. I don't think there's many reporters at the moment who think that their employer is necessarily going to be in five years exactly what it is at the moment. They're all sitting in newsrooms, they've seen the number of journalists go down quite substantially, through layoffs, cutbacks, buyouts, and those sorts of things. So if you're, and I think the other thing as well that plays into that with something, that I forget if it was Michel or Paul mentioned it. If you're in your mid to late fourties and you have the flexibility to think about doing something different in your life, at some point you say well, I've probably got 15 or 16 or 17 years of working life left, what do I want to do during that period? Do I want to stay in the job I’m in at the moment or would I like to try something different? And because if you want to go somewhere else, you really need to be able to give it, and you have the flexibility to go somewhere else, you really want to be able to give it a good shot. Which means you're not going to another job for six months or a year. So I think that enters some people's thinking as well. But I think the thing that's important to note is this isn't just something that goes on between journalists and politicians, it goes on between journalists and sports teams if you're covering sports or leagues. We've seen a lot of journalists go now work for the league websites, NHL.com, MLB.com, all those. And they're basically writing for the league not writing for their audience anymore. We see in the business community, we see journalists who report on sectors of the economy going to work for a bank for instance, if you've been a banking reporter. Going to a mining company if you've been a mining reporter, becoming a financial analyst. So it's not just a case of journalists and politicians. It happens between journalists and the people that they cover in lots of different areas. Both because I think the journalists have some knowledge and expertise in the field and the people who might want to hire them have seen the journalist in action for a while and have had an opportunity to gauge the demeanor and the personality and whether the journalist would be a fit in the organization. And the other thing you have to remember is that journalists don't realize that they have a lot of skills that are in big demand, not the least of which is the ability to do research, synthesize information, and most importantly work up against a deadline. And those are all attributes that are in short supply in lots of places, and you can see why people would be interested in hiring them.
MY: Alright. Thank you very much. I agree with that, everything you said. [laughs]
CHRIS WADDELL: Thanks very much Marcia.
MY: Thanks Chris. Chris Waddell is a former parliamentary bureau chief for CBC Television. He's currently an Associate Professor at Carleton University School of Journalism and Communication. He was in our Ottawa studio.
MY: You are listening to the Friday edition of The Current on CBC Radio One, I’m Marcia Young. We have a moment to get to some of your feedback. Yesterday on The Current, Anna Maria Tremonti spoke with journalist and activist Desmond Cole. His new CBC documentary, The Skin We’re In, looks at anti-black racism in Canada.
Racism is happening to black people in this country in specific ways, in specific contexts, with a specific history behind it. So you can't just say racism to cover all forms of discrimination. It happens to different people differently. And in my case, I feel like we need to talk specifically about anti-black racism, because it's showing up in very specific ways in our country. The classic stories that we hear about black women and men being followed in stores when they shop. This is something that's very specific to us as black people, but it plays into a larger idea of anti-blackness that says that our bodies are a danger that always needs to be contained. Wherever we're going, we need to be scrutinized by security or police, even if we're just shopping in the store because we might get out of hand.
MY: Well, after that segment aired we heard from many of you. Tony Holland in Nelson, BC sent this email. “Racism is very much alive in our country and Canadians should admit it and do something about it.” Bradley Biamonte in Edmonton wrote in about his own experience, “several years ago, I found out that I have Jewish heritage. I shared this news with coworkers and friends. What I got in return were remarks like has your bank account suddenly grown and hide your wallets. This was all done in fun I was assured. It's pervasive, it's real and it's ugly.” Harry Jennings had a different perspective he posts, “I don't buy that it is systemic everywhere in Canada and am much more hopeful. Easy to say, because I'm a white middle aged guy. However, rubbing shoulders with First Nations and another 40 or so people of other backgrounds in our little town. Keep up the dialogue. This issue can't be allowed to be pushed into the shadows.” As always, we like hearing from you. You can tweet @TheCurrentCBC, post on our Facebook page, or email us by clicking on contact at cbc.ca/thecurrent. And if you missed our conversation with Desmond Cole, you can find it in full on our website or through the CBC Radio app. That is our program for today. And remember, you can always take The Current with you to go on the CBC Radio app. It's free from the App Store or Google Play. Finally today, after our discussion earlier about the suicide crisis in remote First Nations communities, let's end with some powerful words spoken this week in Parliament. Young women from across Canada took part in an International Women's Day event in the House of Commons, one from each riding. Trina Qaqqaq represented the electoral district of Nunavut. We'll leave you with some of what she had to say when she rose to her feet. I'm Marcia young, thanks for listening to the Friday edition of The Current.
TRINA QAQQAQ: As an Inuk who has grown up in Nunavut, suicide is no stranger to myself and those in my territory. We all know it way too well. We are put into and now live in foreign systems that do not work for us. We need support and allies to assist us, work with us, and most importantly to listen to us. We cannot face this problem alone like we have been for so long. There are many factors that contribute into suicide. Lack of or poor health care, housing, living costs, and transportation. Many live in poverty.
[Sound: crowd applause]
TRINA QAQQAQ: Many live in poverty and mental health care is almost nonexistent. We are often left on the backburner, ignored or forgotten. Nunavummiut have been asked to make a plan to help ourselves in these systems we do not understand. All we're asking for is our basic human rights. From leaders with power and ability to make change, where our non-Indigenous allies? Thank you Madam Speaker.
CBC would like to acknowledge the support of the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund.