Wednesday November 22, 2017

Wednesday November 22, 2017 Full Episode Transcript

Note: Transcripts may contain errors. If you wish to re-use all, or part of, a transcript, please contact CBC for permission. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print. Copyright © CBC 2017

The Current Transcript for November 22, 2017

Host: Anna Maria Tremonti

STORIES FROM THIS EPISODE

Listen to the full episode

Prologue

[Music: Theme]

SOUNDCLIP

[Sounds: Noise and distorted recorded speech]

ANNA MARIA TREMONTI: That's from the early 90s a recording of Serbian General Ratko Mladic during the Bosnian war, ordering the destruction of Muslim neighborhoods. “Shell them” he says “until they're on the end of madness.” Twenty two years after he was first indicted for war crimes in the former Yugoslavia. A UN tribunal today pronounced Ratko Mladic guilty of 10 counts, including genocide, and sentenced to life in prison. In a world that has seen so many atrocities by other warriors since that war, what message does this drawn out case send? We're asking in about an hour. And from the conviction of a brutal general in Europe to the fall of an autocrat in Africa.

SOUNDCLIP

We are told that he is gone. We don't want him anymore. And yes. Today it's victory. It's victory in our hearts. It’s victory for our children. It's [unintelligible] [sobbs]. I am so sorry.

AMT: It has been an emotional 24 hours for the people of Zimbabwe. Their president, the liberator they once welcomed, turned into the autocrat they could not shake. And now the day after Robert Mugabe's historic resignation their jubilation is tempered by the fact that his replacement has his own stained reputation. His party still holds power and the economy he helped destroy is as precarious as ever. In a moment we're asking how Zimbabwe moves forward. Also today, the new normal.

SOUNDCLIP

Fires are still out there. They are still actively grueling. We have folks on the fire line starting their third shift right now. They have not been relieved because their [unintelligible] not available to come in with so many fires in the area.

AMT: Mix hot dry temperatures with dry forests and the erratic results of climate change and you get mega firestorms rampaging the U.S. and Canada, affecting wildlife, water systems and even air quality, half a world away. In half an hour, our project, Adaptation, looks at how wildfires are shaping our future. I'm Anna Maria Tremonti. This is The Current.

Back To Top »

Mugabe resigns: What's next for Zimbabwe?

Guests: Margaret Evans, Obert Gutu, Monica Mutsvangwa

SOUNDCLIP

I have received notice of resignation.

[Wild cheering]

AMT: Now you heard the cheering it was with the surprise announcement the end of the decades long dictatorship of Robert Mugabe. Yesterday Zimbabwe's parliamentary speaker read from his resignation letter, during an impeachment hearing against him. That was the reaction. The historic move ends a crisis that saw a military takeover that prevented Mr. Mugabe's wife Grace and her faction within the ruling ZANU-PF party from taking over the country. Robert Mugabe's resignation prompted ecstatic jubilation that quickly took over the streets. We spoke to Kudzayi Zvinavashea freelance reporter in Harare.

SOUNDCLIP

[Crowds cheering and chanting]

KUDZAYI ZVINAVASHEA: Well I'm hoping for a better future here in Zimbabwe, like from the basic things. Basic things here I mean what. We don't have we don't have clean water that runs in our taps every day. Sometimes we have power cuts. I can't even speak off the bank. The cash crises, with the current crisis we can't access money in our banks right now. Corruption is an alarming rates right now. 15 billion dollars in diamond revenues went missing, freedom of expression, people getting arrested for insulting the president. If you speak out against the government or you critique the government you are considered activists. These are feeling that people have been putting up for years and years and years.

AMT: For the latest I'm joined by the CBC's Margaret Evans in Harare. Hi Margaret.

MARGARRET EVANS: Hi Anna Maria.

AMT: What's the mood like in the city today?

MARGARRET EVANS: It's just I mean it's still pretty ecstatic although people are sort of tired as well because there was a lot of celebrating into the night. But really sweet scenes you know this morning in that little hotel that I'm staying at. The entire staff kind of got up and had a cake together and it had the Zimbabwe flag in there. I mean just smiles everywhere people grinning from ear to ear.

AMT: It sounds like you can feel it in the air.

MARGARRET EVANS: You can smell it. You can touch it. It's just it is unbelievable. You know people are looking each other in the eye you know reaching out hugging each other just literally jumping up and down with happiness.

AMT: Well we know the ZANU-PF Party former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa will succeed Mr. Mugabe. What have people heard from him at this point?

MARGARRET EVANS: Well really nothing except for a statement yesterday saying he wasn't going to come back without security guarantees. When he left or he was fired by Mugabi and left the country he said his life was threatened. But now we're hearing I mean the speaker of the house had a press conference here, or the speaker of the parliament, a little earlier saying that Mnangagwa is going to be back today's expected around 6:00 p.m. local time and then he will be sworn in on Friday as the new president of Zimbabwe, because he has been named as the choice of the ruling Zanu-PF party which of course was also Robert Mugabe's party.

AMT: And remind us who Mr. Mnangagwa is?

MARGARRET EVANS: Well, his nickname is the crocodile. And so that should tell you a little bit about him and his faction here is known as the Lacoste faction, a little bit of humor there. But he's a pretty dark character. He is Mugabe's former intelligence chief he is a liberation hero he fought you know against white minority rule here. He is been accused of atrocities in the 1980s against enemies of Mr. Mugabe. He is the guy who basically managed the pillar of fear here in various election campaigns. So it's led to a lot of concern on some levels. People saying what are we doing a week jumping from one dictator to another. Others say Mugabe was so bad people were so desperate for change that it doesn't matter who did it and they're going to fight you know another battle another day. And there are also people who say you've got to give them a chance because he's more of a pragmatist he's got good business acumen. He might be able to help bring the economy back. But you know it is a question that many people are asking but a lot of people also don't want to talk about it because they see him as their liberator.

AMT: And are they viewing the ZANU-FP party differently than now that Mugabe is not running it?

MARGARRET EVANS: No. I mean I'd say that the political lines haven't really changed too much. You know the opposition people still see this as a chance for them from themselves. You know they're not happy that Zanu-PF is going to take over and they see this is kind of a consolidation period for Zanu-PF. They think that Zanu-PF is basically going to just you know live off the exaltation of the departure of Mugabe and use it if there are elections held. I mean there are elections scheduled down the road. But the opposition kind of say that they need to you know get it together. And they also say a lot about the mood that we saw on the streets here. On Saturday these you know this sense of liberation that people felt being able to speak their minds. They think that they can try to keep that alive to force a more democratic reckoning if you like with the ZANU-PF party that has just ruled this country with an iron fist for so many years.

AMT: Well and speaking of opposition you did meet with the movement for democratic change opposition leader Morgan Tsvangarai yesterday. What was that meeting like? What did he tell you?

MARGARRET EVANS: In talking about Mnangagwa. He said you know this is a chance for him to perhaps change to actually make a difference to this country. He wasn't he wasn't too dismissive. He is certainly skeptical. And this is a man who's watched - who's fought against Mugabe for so many years, who's watched one of his former enemies basically march in with the help of the military and depose him. He talked a lot about what the international community could do because they will be pushing for elections down the road. I asked him there was some talk about a kind of a transitional national unity government he said: “Nobody's talked to me about that.” But he did say he wants some help from the outside world and here's what he had to say about Canada.

SOUNDCLIP

We would expect Canada, as part of international community, to insist that the democratic route be followed with reforms are implemented. But the elections are free and fair. That once this done post election, the economical systems that may come to the people. Because our nation is really on its knees and that assistance will be helpful.

AMT: So today we can be looking to Canadian officials to see how they respond to Morgan Tsvangirai and what he told you. Margaret Evans, any word on the whereabouts of Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace?

MARGARRET EVANS: No not so far. A lot of speculation. I mean you know early on people were saying that Grace had already left the country and gone to Namibia or to South Africa, where she has a number of properties but lots of people think she's still here. You know it's all very Shakespearean isn't it. I mean you know Mugabe and his hated wife and you know it's interesting when you talk to people out on the streets. They're so angry at Mugabe but they're almost just as angry at Grace saying that she distorted his mind and she's the one responsible for what's happened here. But in any case I think not too many people are worrying about it. A lot of people would like to see him charged. I'd like to see them both charged. But there are people who say you know they don't want to forget his contribution in terms of the war of independence. They don't see the need to punish a 93 year old man. I think they'd like to see him get on a plane and leave. But again nobody's worrying about their well-being too much. They all know that a lot of the money that the public offers have contributed to their properties and their bank accounts abroad. Nobody is too worried about them.

AMT: It's interesting. Sounds like there's so many unanswered questions and there's uncertainty, but there's still that optimism that now things can actually move forward.

MARGARRET EVANS: Yes I mean and also just a sense to please allow us to just enjoy this moment and to kind of have faith in the capital of people here. So many educated articulate gentle people here ready to kind of take up the mantle. So we'll see you know and one of the most enduring images I have from this was last night, just in the middle of all of this kind of mayhem, downtown with buses arriving and cars kind of burning wheelies in the center of town, was a man walking with his two little children and just saying “my children are saved.” So there's this immense optimism that the future generation is going to benefit from this. And let's hope they're not disappointed.

AMT: Margaret Evans, the CBC's Europe correspondent she joined us from Harare Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe's largest opposition party is the movement for democratic change the MDC and we were talking to the party spokesperson and lawyer Obert Gutu yesterday right after all of this happened. Here's that conversation.

OBERT GUTU: Good evening.

AMT: Can you tell me your immediate reaction to the resignation of Mr. Mugabe?

OBERT GUTU: Of course we are very happy very [unintelligible]. It's something that we saw this coming. Mr. Mugabe has gone to be very very unpopular within the party and of the Zimbabwean people. So this is like something that was long overdue. [Unintelligible] is welcomed as our President. There is jubilance here in the streets of Harare right now, people throwing their own car honks and dancing in the streets, and things of cheer ecstasy, here you know, for majority.

AMT: And do you share that joy?

OBERT GUTU: I am what I call guided optimism, because we don't know what will happen now. Most likely Emmerson Mnangagwa is going to take over and we don't know whether we're going to [unintelligible] politics where there's no room for opposition political players to operate freely. So that is why I call it guided optimism, because we want to see how Mr. Mnangagwa is going to be. Maybe we give him some time see how he conducts himself.

AMT: Now Mr. Mnangagwa has a long reputation in ZANU-PF right beside Mr. Mugabe. He has been very tough in the past. Do you think that could be tempered if Mr. Mugabe is not there to influence him?

OBERT GUTU: This is what we are trying to say. Mr. Mnangagwa has battled a lot of [unintelligible] establishment. He has been in the ZANU-PF government since 1980 when we gained our independence from British colonial rule and the need for us to be cautiously optimistic because they have both [unintelligible] from the same book, and this if going to be radically different. For now we are happy but it is guided optimism.

AMT: Remind us what the last decade or so has been like for the people of Zimbabwe.

OBERT GUTU: Things have been very difficult for the majority of Zimbabweans. Life was very difficult. You know the economy is literally collapsed. As you know we have no [unintelligible], for the ordinary person for 90 percent of Zimbabweans. It is very tough, very difficult.

AMT: Even things like food and medical help are difficult are they not?

OBERT GUTU: The food is there but most of it obviously imported from neighbouring South Africa. The supermarkets shelves have food but the prices are very high. Most of the people can't afford because you know we are talking of very high unemployment rate.

AMT: there must have been many times when you feared for your own life because of your politics.

OBERT GUTU: Definitely yes definitely. Well Mugabe was a ruthless politician. He took no opposition. He was an [unintelligible] dictator. So obviously you know that each time you're driving, you watch your back. Wherever you are you have to watch your back. Everything you do you have to watch your back.

AMT: Are those kinds of days over now do you think?

OBERT GUTU: I don't know, too early to tell, too early to tell [laughs]. I don't want to rush and say that it is over. Because Mnangagwa is coming from the same party ZANU-PF, so I'm saying look I will give some time and just watch this thing.

AMT: So what does Zimbabwe need to move into the kind of democracy you and the MDC have been fighting for, for so long?

OBERT GUTU: Well what we need to do is get a complete and total democratization. For the past 37 years we were under ruthless iron fisted intolerant dictatorship. So what we have to do is have conditions for a free and fair election. We have to open up the airwaves. The media here is [unintelligible], all virtually all of the electronic media is part of the ZANU-PF regime. And there is only one television station that is controlled and run by the ZANU-PF regime. So we need all that open of the media space to come up with a policies, the economic policies that are [unintelligible] for domestic and foreign investment, reform our way of doing business. And more importantly claim down on corruption, because corruption is way way out of control.

AMT: And how well organized is the MDC at the moment to be able to take an active part in the way the politics could be turning?

OBERT GUTU: No we are very well organized. We are the largest opposition political party in the country. [Unintelligible] But I believe that people given a fair election is to be in a position to get benefit from the next government.

AMT: And so elections are scheduled for next year. Do you think that will change do you think that will go ahead? What are you thinking?

OBERT GUTU: It is really any day. We're talking about that they might want to come up with a transitional government that might want to come up with a coalition the government. We do not know. I has really been just speculative talk. So for now it is too early, maybe in the next two or three days we will be able to know.

AMT: And what do you want us in Canada to remember as we see this happening in your country?

OBERT GUTU: This is the end of an era. You should remember that now that the dictator fallen you maybe wish us good luck and hope that there will be able to democratize our country, Zimbabwe.

AMT: I think we can do that. We can wish you luck. Mr.Gutu, thank you for speaking with me.

OBERT GUTU: Thank you very much.

AMT: Obert Gutu. The MDC’s national spokesperson. We reached him in Harare. Now the end of the Mugabe rule has been a long time in the making. One of the key people behind the final push was Zimbabwe Senator Monica Chang. She's a member of his own ZANU-PF party. In the last year she had a falling out with him. Monica Mutsvangwa joins us from Harare. Hello.

MONICA MUTSVANGWA: Thank you very much.

AMT: You brought in the motion to impeach Robert Mugabe. What's your reaction now that he's gone?

MONICA MUTSVANGWA: Let me say yesterday was truly historic. It brought [unintelligible] among the people of this country to find the dictator finally resigning. We as a parliament has already started the process of impeachment. And our position was very very clear. We were impeaching this president for had done quite a number of things that is a scandal. For example, he had been ignoring all allegations of corruption and misappropriation of public funds, because there was a lot of corruption. We also had an issue with the way he had allowed his wife to [unintelligible] government functions and access classified and privileged information. We also are dealing with our President for serious misconduct in allowing his wife to abuse state resources.

AMT: Yes. And Senator Mutsvangwa, many of the things you outline have been going on for years why was he removed now?

MONICA MUTSVANGWA: Well the truth of the matter is people of this country have been very patient. They give the old, despite the hate for him, because he is the man who lead the move of liberation. Wolf People of Zimbabwe believed in him because he brought in independence and lead the [unintelligible].

AMT: Now we know that Mr. Mnangagwa will take over and that that means your party ZANU-PF continues to rule. And what do you say to those people who are worried that there will be more of the same, that they will not have as much freedom and a real democracy?

MONICA MUTSVANGWA: No president in his right sense would ever even try to do a tenth of Robert Mugabe was doing, because clearly the people of this country, together with a correct political divide they clearly told leadership in this country that ‘if you rule this country that way, you will not even survive for more than a year.’ So this is not going to happen. And let me just say ZANU-PF was voted by get people into power so by removing Robert Mugabe I don't think that is the right time to take away the right of the people who voted for Zanu-PF.

AMT: Okay, well, Monica Mutsvangwa: I thank you for speaking with me today.

MONICA MUTSVANGWA: Thank you very much, Anna Maria. It's always my pleasure to talk to you.

AMT: Bye bye.

MONICA MUTSVANGWA: Thank you.

AMT: Senator Monica Chatila member of the Zanu-PF party that helped oust its own Robert Mugabe. She joined us from Harare. Let us know what you think because you listen to this. You can tweet us, we are @TheCurrent CBC find us on Facebook go to our website cbc.ca/thecurrent. The news is next and then from B.C. to California, from Spain to Brazil the last few months have seen hundreds of thousands of hectares of land scorched by blazing fires that are getting more difficult to contain. I want to be speaking to a fire expert. He's a researcher who is warning that the worst is yet to come. And that is climate change takes hold wildfires in Canada will only get more intense and out of control Ed Struzik joins me right after the news I'm Anna Maria Tremonti. This is The Current.

[Music: Theme]

Back To Top »

Expect more massive wildfires ahead for Canada, warns environment author

Guest: Ed Struzik

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

[Music: Theme]

AMT: Still to come the man known as the ‘Butcher of Bosnia’, Ratko Mladic Guilty of war crimes guilty of genocide. We will hear what the judgment means to a man whose family suffered the war lords crimes. But first wildfires are here to stay and to survive them it is adapt or die.

{Music: Adaptation theme]

SOUNDCLIP

VOICE 1: Good evening wildfires continue to burn across B.C. tonight as more evacuees flee their homes seeking safety away from the flames.

VOICE 2: Our first glimpse of the blackened still smoky crest the fire left on some land here in Southern Alberta. At least five homes and several other structures have been burned in areas too dangerous for us to get into see.

ATM: Well it was a summer like no other NBC in Alberta. Wildfires scorched hundreds of thousands of hectares forced tens of thousands to flee to safety. Officially it was the worst wildfire season in B.C. history and Canada was not alone.

SOUNDCLIP

VOICE 1: We're going to [beep] die. You gotta get out of here.

VOICE 2: The staggering death toll from California's wildfires added one more today, when a water tanker driver was killed in a crash.

VOICE 3: Hundreds of wildfires raging in Portugal in northwestern Spain have killed at least 30 people. Thousands of firefighters are battling to contain them. The fires have spread quickly since Sunday. Farmland has been destroyed and towns and villages evacuated as the flames sweep across the landscape left tinder dry after a hot summer.

AMT: Wildfires raging across Portugal Spain and California and those news reports. As part of our season long project Adaptation, my next guest is making the case that we need to do more to adapt to a future that will bring bigger and more intense forest fires to us. Ed Struzik expects more mega fires as climate change leads to rising temperatures, stronger winds, drier forests. He says these conditions have turned fires into potentially uncontrollable threats to our very existence. Ed Struzik is a fellow at the Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy at Queens University. His new book is Firestorm: How Wildfire Will Shape our Future and he joins me from Edmonton. Hello.

ED STRUZIK: Hello.

AMT: Let's start with the Fort McMurray wildfire of 2016 since that's close to home for you and it was big, some 90,000 people forced to flee. Many of them had terrifying escapes. Two teenagers died in a car accident leaving town but everyone else survived. That seems incredible.

ED STRUZIK: It is incredible. In fact I think that in hindsight the RCMP the emergency response people all admitted that they expected thousands of people to be dead. You know when the fire after the fire entered town the RCMP was already trying to figure out where they're going to have the morgue. Where were they going to get the body bags? They were just they just couldn't believe that only two people died.

AMT: That says something odd because we all know that that was extraordinary that so many people did escape to safety. But the fact that the expectation was that they wouldn't.

ED STRUZIK: You know it was the first time they think that social media exposed fire for you know the terror and the horror that it can bring. And when you see those people in those cars and trucks and houses burning and the forest burning all around you just wonder how it is possible that anybody could have escaped that. And there are a lot of reasons why. I think Fort McMurray was a special exception to the rule. You know as one RCMP officer told me the demographics favored them, because it's a young population. Most of them work in the oil fields where they take safety training courses in a safety training courses that you do what you're told to do whether you like it or not. And so they obeyed the rules and wind directions changed up the last minute. So many things came in together. Those were the reasons why I think a lot of people didn't die.

AMT: The fire Chief Darby Allen called the fire the beast. What made that fire so nasty?

ED STRUZIK: Well you know it just behaved in ways that firefighters had never seen before. And I think the one the eye popping one for me was an Alberta wildfire scientists told me, at the time, that the fire created this fire cloud like a thunderstorm above it. It was brewing out lightning and spitting it out 35 kilometers in advance of the fire and starting a cluster of fires that far away. They had never seen anything quite like that. And of course the other things that weren't so surprising but still you know eye popping embers were being blown five kilometers in advance of the fire and starting fires in town before it even got there. So there was a lot of things about that fire that just made everybody rear back.

ATM: So just to be clear so it wasn't that there was a weather system. It was that the fire created its own weather system.

ED STRUZIK: It did. And this is relatively common and it's happened before. But no one has seen a fire create lightning and spit it out so far in advance of a fire. This is the first time they would actually saw it and it was a blue sky day when that fire occurred. So there was nothing else to account for that close clusters of fires.

AMT: That's incredible. And you know a fire like that as you have reported in your book changes the ecosystem. Shortly after the fort McMurray fire was under control, you were in the burned out boreal forest just north of the city and you were catching Nighthawks. What were you up to?

ED STRUZIK: Well I was out with a Ph.D. student - Dilly Night - from the University of Alberta. We were just talking about this yesterday about how magical it was. We were there in this forest, this fragmented force that has been charred and burned, and the first thing that comes in are the fire beetles that feed and propagate in burnt out tree trunks. Then the woodpeckers come in and they start feeding on what's in behind the bark and on the bark beetles and the Nighthawks thrive in these fragmented environments. And we were catching these Nighthawks in the middle of the night and it was really like a Harry Potter movie. They've got these eyes that are almost as big as their head and they're completely cur… they're so curious that they just kept popping up in front of us wondering like: “What are you doing here?” So you could see how fire plays an important role in rejuvenating an aging forest.

AMT: And why did you want to catch those nighthawks?

ED STRUZIK: Nighthawks are I think endangered in some places threatened and others we know very little about them. We need to know more about them if we're going to save them. Trying to analyze how it is that fire benefits species like these. It's not just nighthawks that benefit. We know that grizzly bears benefit very much from wildfires because you know in the after and after the fire carrion deer die, moose die, and then the following year you have these mushrooms that grow, and then the following years you have berries that grow. And so the fatter the grizzly bear the more likely that they're you know harvesting in a young forest rather than an old forest.

AMT: You list huge wildfires going back centuries. These are not a new phenomenon.

ED STRUZIK: No they're not. I mean you know with Miramichi fire in New Brunswick 1825 was one of the biggest fire the Peshtigo fire in Wisconsin I think killed 25,000 people. You know there was the Big Burn in 1910 along the Alberta Montana Idaho-B.C. border that was massive. It was a fire that was really responsible for the way we fight fires from them. But the difference between then and now is that we're seeing these kinds of fires, these mega fires burning much more often in the past 20 years than they have in this kind of weather cooler period that we've had for the past century.

AMT: And so that's what it's about it's the intensity and the increase in the number of these mega fires?

ED STRUZIK: Yes. They're just happening more often. It's pretty clear you know between 1970 and 1990 for example we had only four fires in Canada that burned more than 200,000 hectors. Since then we've had I think 15 or 16 at the very least that have done so. So we're seeing this increase and largely because of climate change and we've got more people on the landscape and people cause more fires than lightning does.

AMT: So how does climate change factor into this?

ED STRUZIK: Well it's an interesting equation. You know the warmer the temperatures are the drier the forest becomes. You know it's because the atmosphere is capable of holding more of the moisture that would generally fall and quench the thirst of those trees. And you know if you had more rainfall - and we do have it in some place the East is getting more rainfall but we're not getting it in the West. You need you know 15 percent more rainfall to kind of restore that balance. And that's just not happening in western North America and most parts of the world. The second the rising temperatures and intensifies those droughts that occur naturally and these allow bark beetles to spread diseases to take hold and kill trees. And this just makes the forest much more vulnerable to fire. And then I guess the last part is that the warmer it gets the more lightning you're going to get. There's one estimate is that we're going to have 50 percent more lightning in the boreal forest of Canada by mid-century than we do now. And just to give you an example of the severity of these kinds of events is that there was a slow moving thunderstorm that went through Alaska in 2015 and it dropped almost no rain in the five day period but it unleashed 61,000 bolts of lightning, 15,000 in one day. It started 237 wildfires in Alaska. That was their second biggest fire season ever.

AMT: And they were reeling. They just had never seen that much lightning.

ED STRUZIK: One of the fire managers when I was up there at the time told me at the end of the season we got our asses kicked. They just couldn't keep up with it. They were in a triage mode. They just didn't have the resources to fight all the fires. In fact you know the following year I think that, which was a wet year, they thought: “Okay we're okay this year we're off the hook.” And then they got suddenly seven-eight day period where things just got hot and everything dried out. And then the fire threatened to burn the Alyeska pipeline and they had to bring in every single resource they had available. I think they even brought in the army to try to stop it.

AMT: So can you document when the major forest fires began to increase?

ED STRUZIK: They say probably in the 1980s when firefighters started to notice that something was amiss. That fires are burning bigger and hotter and there was a meeting around 1985 in Colorado where people from the Canadian Forest Service actually attended and they started discussing this. People like Mike Flanagan from the University of Alberta, who I think has been on your show, started to look at this more carefully and realize basically around 1988, early 1990s that yeah we're starting to see bigger hotter fires. And they were predicting back then that what we see now is what we're going to get. But people, policymakers, just weren't listening.

AMT: And you kind of make the point that they're barely listening, eh?

ED STRUZIK: No they're not. You just look at the statistics. It's 2400 people employed by the Canadian Forest Service in the 1990s. We've only got 700 now and most of them we're working on important things such as disease and in insect infestation in forests, but almost none of them are working on Wildfire. And there was one fire manager for the U.S. Park Service in the U.S. Forest Service that told me that business as usual is not going to be successful. But the policy makers are still in the business as usual mode.

AMT: Well and you also underline sort of the whole perspective on forest management. Fires do a lot of good for the forest. They rejuvenate them. You just talked about how the animals change and how they need that kind of thing. But we have spent decades suppressing them.

ED STRUZIK: Yes we have. And it started in 1910 with the big burn in the United States on the Idaho Montana Alberta B.C. border and the U.S. Forest Service at that time decided that they were going to fight every fire from that point on. And the Canadian forest service in parks Canada later on adopted the same attitude that we have to stop all these fires. And it was sinister in a way because part of the strategy was to kick out all the first nations’ people out of the national parks sort of Yosemite, Yellowstone, Banff and Jasper. And one of the reasons was because they started fires. They were great fire managers. If you look at pictures of Jasper and Banff at the turn of the century you will not see as many trees. You can see it's lightening but theoretically that really doesn't make a lot of sense, because there's not a light a lot of lightning strikes those areas. What we do know is that first nation’s people lit fires because if a forest got too crowded with trees then the elk, the deer, the grizzly bears and other animals would move away and the berries would be shrouded by the canopy and they would not grow. So they were very good at doing this and the National Park Service just thought this is a no no. Tourists don't like fire. And we still have that attitude today.

AMT: So we can learn a lot from the way indigenous people we're dealing with forests.

ED STRUZIK: We could. You know in my book there I list a lot of different examples where various people in the Canadian forest service, the national park service just thought these people were nuts. Why were they lighting fires? You know it was just a cultural thing that we thought fire was evil and they saw fire as a way of rejuvenating the forest. We just couldn't get into their heads. You know we just you know it was that kind of condescending attitude that we had for so long. We just took nothing away from it.

AMT: It's really interesting that you point to that in your book now at a time when there was so much discussion and debate over how to use the land, especially in Albert and BC, especially in dealing with pipelines and how to develop land or leave it and the indigenous fight over preserving land.

ED STRUZIK: It really is a carryover from you know generations of us thinking that we're you know a superior class of people and that Aboriginal first nations people were primitive in the way they viewed the world. When in fact that they had - I wouldn't say they were geniuses - it's just that they had a much closer relationship with the land and they understood how things worked. And I think we would benefit a lot and I think we are beginning to benefit a lot. There's a lot of groups institutions and universities that are now starting to look at traditional knowledge as a way of moving forward.

AMT: As wildfires get bigger and as they get worse you have looked at some particularly dangerous scenarios that could be in our future. You just mentioned Banff. Tell us about the Banff scenario.

ED STRUZIK: Well this really blew my mind because the two people that took me on a tour of Banff were Cliff White, the architect of Parks Canada fire management strategy - national fire management strategy - and Ian Pengilly, who was for a very long period of time in charge of dealing with wildfire in the park. And they took me to Sulphur mountain which is one of the most popular tourist destinations. A gondola takes tourist up to the top of the mountain. There's a beautiful interpretive center. There's a view of BAMF on one side, the spray River Valley on the other side. It's a must go place when you go to Banff. It's utterly beautiful. The white Spruce Mountain is over 100 years old. But both of them said at some point this is going to catch fire. It could be a lightning storm or it could be you know somebody like a fire down below. And if it's a hot dry day and it's windy this fire will climb up that mountain and it will trap all those people - thousands of people who are either hiking up or who have gone up on the gun gondola. And when we got to the top. I looked at all of these tours you know many of them wearing high heels. Many of them elderly can't. You know some couldn't speak English. And you wonder how would they get down? And when I put this departs Canada they said well we'd try to get them down on the gondola. But then you know Cliff White said well many of them could get asphyxiated by the smoke, fireballs could knock down the gondola. Plus it could take three hours to get everybody off. And I asked Ian who you probably there was kind of like Kirk and Spock. Cliff is Kirk and Ian is Spock. He looked at me very rationally, not saying much and he said: “I think it would probably take about 15 minutes for the fire to get to the bottom of the mountain to the top. And there's really no place for anybody to go up there because there's trees right up on top.”

AMT: 15 minutes.

ED STRUZIK: 15 Minutes for that fire, under certain conditions, dry enough and with the wind enough because you know fires move uphill. Every firefighter knows that. There's no escaping a fire by running up the hill side. And then once it gets to the hillside it starts spitting out embers. And what's on the other side but the town of Banff. You've got 35,000 people, tourists and residents living in Banf. And suddenly the trees and the fences and some of the wood homes start catching fire. How do you get everybody out? You know I'm sure you've been to Banff in the summertime where it's gridlock.

AMT: Many times.

ED STRUZIK: You know the cars can hardly move. How are you going to get fire trucks from Calgary, Canmore to come in there and how you're going to get people to get out? Parks Canada is dealing with this. But they admit it's a nightmare that they really don't want to face.

AMT: It's an old growth coniferous forest when was the last big fire around there?

ED STRUZIK: I think Cliff told me that was around 1870. The situation is watered and burnt in September of all months.

AMT: When the season was supposed to be over.

ED STRUZIK: Yes when we normally think: “Okay it's going to snow” and in fact it actually did snow beforehand because I was driving through the mountains, on my way back from the Pacific coast, and it did snow before this fire took place. You have trees that are 100 years old several hundred years old and it was a major burn. It really basically caught up with all of the fire suppression that we've undertaken for the last 100 years in that part of the world. And Parks Canada to their credit you know evacuated everybody early. And it was unlike the Fort McMurray situation where it was all the very last minute. Fortunately you know the damage was limited but by all accounts wildfire experts who are looking at that fire now are really astonished by just how hot that fire burn.

AMT: And you talk about Banff. There are other scenarios in other parts of the continent that have other people quite concerned about the potential for fire and what the fallout will be. Tell us about Operable unit Three in Libby, Montana.

ED STRUZIK: Libby, Montana is the site of one of the older asbestos mines in North America. It started up in 1911 and it was your typical approach to mining practices at the time and there was a lot of evidence that asbestos was dangerous, and the workers who were exposed to this specialist would eventually suffer from cancer. But it was ignored for the longest time and resulted in huge lawsuits that bankrupt the company and resulted in one of the biggest superfund sites in the United States. And they've been cleaning this up at tremendous cost. I can't remember the numbers but it's one of the most expensive cleanup sites in the United States. And just as they were sort of wrapping things up, public health officials came in just to have a look at wood that is being used by local residents in Libby who heat their houses by wood. You know is there anything in that wood that should be of concern and they found that asbestos and needles had it embedded themselves in the trees in a huge area in and around that forest. And then the EPA got involved and looked at it and they did some test burning at some of their lab sites and found that you know if you burn this wood, the asbestos needles are unleashed. It goes up with the plume of smoke and ash but it doesn't disintegrate. So you have these cancer causing asbestos needles that can travel into the town and can travel theoretically hundreds of miles away. And so now it's become a major public health problem. You know the governor said so, the senator for the areas said so. And at one point firefighters said that they were not going to volunteer to fight that fire, if it ever started. And so they've had to basically station somebody there, a team there for the entire season to put out the fire as quickly as possible before it spreads.

AMT: Because the firefighters don't want to fight that fire because they're going to put themselves into a flurry of asbestos contamination. They can’t fight.

ED STRUZIK: That's right.

AMT: And they'll pay for it down the road.

ED STRUZIK: That's right. And this is a concern of every five firefighter now. You know I talked to people who fought the Fort McMurray fire and the Slave Lake fire. Jamie Coots, who is the fire chief of Slave Lake is convinced that you know he's going to die a young death because of all the the chemicals that he is inhaled from fires that have occurred in his area. But when you add in these other ingredients such as asbestos, we got 10,000 abandoned mines in Canada most of them are in the boreal forest.

AMT: We just haven't tested those trees.

ED STRUZIK: We haven't. And to be fair we haven't really thought about it.

AMT: Ed Struzik, we're going to pause right here. The CBC news is coming up. We're going to continue this conversation after that. I want to ask about some of the dangers to health closer to home; arsenic threats, the implications of ash and toxins in our water and air. We're also going to discuss what Canada needs to do to prepare for a future filled with more of these massive fires. Edward Struzik is a fellow at the Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy at Queens University. His book is called Firestorm: How Wildfire will Shape our Future. We will have some photographs of the fires and landscapes he is talking about on our website cbc.ca/thecurrent, and we will continue this conversation, right after the break. Stay with us. I'm Anna Maria Tremonti. This is The Current.

[Music: Theme]

AMT: Hi I'm Anna Maria Tremonti and you're listening to The Current. Coming up Ratko Mladićat the Serbian general who terrorized Bosnia in the 1990s during the Bosnian war he was running the Bosnian Serb side was found guilty today of crimes against humanity and of genocide, after a trial that lasted hundreds of days. We're asking what it means for those who survived that war and the legacy of the international court that has actually tried him. But first we're going to continue - as part of our project adaptation - We've been talking about the need to shift how we manage forests and how we fight forest fires. Ed Struzik, is an Edmonton he has compiled years of research into his book. It's called Firestorm: How Wildfire will Shape our Future. If you're just joining us and you've missed our conversation before the break, we're going to be posting it today on our website cbc.ca/thecurrent. You can also find it on the CBC Radio app. We're talking about mega fires, forest fires that keep getting bigger and hotter and more threatening. Ed Struzik, You talked about the potential dangers of fire in Libby, Montana because of asbestos and the soil and trees. Yellowknife as well right, you talk about arsenic in the soil in the trees around that area.

ED STRUZIK: You know this is one of those things that have come up just recently. It is very similar to what happened in Libby. There was just so much resistance to trying to make a connection between the gold mines and the arsenic dry oxide, 7,000 tons that were being emitted almost daily in the 1930s and 40s and public health issues. And it took the death of the first nation’s child I think in the 1950s for people to take notice but nobody would do anything about it, because the minds were just too important to the community. I had lived in Yellowknife in the 1980s and I know that there was a lot of people who were trying to get the government to do a serious public health study. And it really wasn't until 2012 that the Queen's University and the University of Ottawa started looking farther afield to see how far has this arsenic traveled. And they found you know it's traveled up to 20 kilometers away - 30 kilometers away from the site it's in the settlements and the crustaceans. You know there was a major die of crustaceans in the aquatic environment. It's in the soil, there off limit areas now and in Yellowknife. And theoretically it's imbedded in the trees as well. Because we know that arsenic is absorbed by the roots of trees and we know this because we use to treat orange trees in Florida with arsenic to try to kill off insects. And nobody's got to this stage yet where we do a burn like the EPA did in Libby. And I think part of the problem is that they're so overwhelmed with the complexity of that site that adding one more to the list is just the straw that breaks the camel's back.

AMT: So interesting. And now you just mentioned smoke and the fire chief talking about his concerns about breathing that stuff and the other firefighters, but parts of Alberta and BC, including Calgary, Kamloops, Vancouver were dealing with heavy smoke from this summer's wildfires and making breathing difficult for people just as they were going outside. So what more do we know about the impact that smoke has on the long term health?

ED STRUZIK: Well we know that many of the harmful chemicals that we have in tobacco smoke or are found in smoke from wildfires. And we know that it is harmful and we are only beginning to understand that. But you know there was a study done that showed that the fires in northern Quebec in 2002 resulted in a 50 percent spike in hospitalizations of the elderly living in 81 counties and 11 states along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.

AMT: That's the drift of the smoke.

ED STRUZIK: That's the drift of the smoke. That is how far can travel. We also know that fires and B.C. in Alaska have resulted in ozone levels rising to dangerous levels in the city of Houston in Texas. And we know that the Fort McMurray fires resulted in an unhealthy levels of ozone; 2500 kilometers away and many of the New England states. Public health officials are just beginning to evaluate this. You know we always assume that “Okay, it is a local problem” but it's not a local problem.

AMT: What impact does smoke and ash have on water systems?

ED STRUZIK: This is one that completely surprised me because I thought you know water flowing out of the mountains is pretty resilient. You know that you get the ash and whatnot gets flushed down and everything is okay after a short time. And I visited a older sibling from the University of Alberta who started up a study of the watershed in the southern Rockies after the 2003 fires and cosiness past, to see how those aquatic systems would recover, how quickly they would recover after a fire. And the reason why he did so is because in 2002 there was a really hot fire in Colorado called the Hayman fire. It burned all the trees along the watershed that supplies about 75 percent of the water to the city of Denver and other communities. That ash and the particulates that get flushed into the river after a big rain fall almost knocked out their water treatment system, and they spent have spent millions of dollars, they had hired 70 scientists. They planted 170 thousand trees. And to this day that river system still hasn't fully recovered. And in fact we know that the South Platte trout fishery - which is one of the most important sport trout fisheries in the United States - still hasn't recovered 17 years after the fire and neither has the aquatic system in the Lost Creek area.

AMT: That's really fascinating and troubling. Well what do we know about the water system around Fort Mac?

ED STRUZIK: Well Fort Mac is now I think doubled the budget for treating water that goes into their treatment plant. The last I heard they're probably going to have to double the cost of the budget again the following year. It's going to be an ongoing issue. Fort McMurray is fortunate in a way because it does have this filtered system. But if you look at places like Victoria or Portland, which draw their water, their water is so good that they don't need to fill it. They're now wondering “well what will happen if there's a big fire in the Victoria area and all of that particulate all those chemicals get into our water supply, what do we do?” And they're dealing with it. But the people I've talked to have told me you know this is really a big big concern.

AMT: You're not talking about scenarios 25 years possibly from now, like this is happening in real time.

ED STRUZIK: People are scrambling. They truly are. And it is a current problem not a future problem.

AMT: So you talk about the municipalities that are confronting this. Where are the holes in how our governments are looking at this and trying to adapt to this growing risk?

ED STRUZIK: Well those cities I think are the exceptions, truly. Because I think generally speaking most cities just are not taking this in hand. Everybody thinks that “okay it's going to happen to somebody else.” So there's this almost willful ignorance that's going on at a municipal, provincial and federal level. We have some good programs such of such as the fire smart programs that you know help cities become more resilient to fires. But you know it's moving on very very slowly. It really needs to be expedited. We need to have better building codes so that we don't have houses that are built in the boreal forests with cedar shake shingles as you'll see in places like Kelowna, where you'll see them in Edmonton along the river valley. We got to you know educate people and tell them mulch is just a great way of you know bringing a fire to your house and planting ornamental Cedars along the side of your house is probably not a good idea. There's an awful lot we can do and we don't even have kind of you know red alert systems in place, like we should have had in Fort McMurray, which tell people when they have to leave and where they go when they have to leave. It's still a kind of a last minute decision that's left up to the emergency response team in every locality. As we know in Fort McMurray there's a lot of politics that takes place is that if you evacuate Fort McMurray, you shut down the pipe the oil sands for a while and that costs an awful lot of money. It costs a lot of lost revenue and salaries and it takes a long time to get those operations to restart. And so I think it would be fair to say ‘I don't know for sure’ but I think it's fair to say that there was an awful lot of pressure on those officials to keep things going. And I think that what we should have is just a line in the sand. The fire gets eight kilometers away from the community everybody evacuate. You know no ‘ifs, ands or buts’ because we know that fire can travel very very quickly. And so something's got to change because the business as usual is not going to be successful.

AMT: And as you point out the smoke drifts and the costs of this, the effects of this environmentally are not localized. This is stuff that affects people around the world.

ED STRUZIK: It does. A classic example of how we resist insights into things like this occurred. There was a Mike, a meteorologist from the U.S. naval defense lab in the United States, told me that 1998 he started to see these really weird clouds in the stratosphere and he couldn't figure out what they were. And then he'd go to his colleagues and he kept telling them “where are these coming from?” They said “well it had to be from volcanic activity because thunderstorms and fire clouds just can't penetrate into the stratosphere.” And then he looked to find out well okay where were the volcanoes? And he couldn't find any evidence of volcanoes that happened around that time. And he go back to his superiors and say “it was not volcanos.” And they laugh and they say “well it has to be because it can't be fire clouds.” And then finally he worked with Canadian scientist Brian stocks with Canadian Forest Service and who had been doing these experimental fires in northern Ontario in the 1980s. And sure enough they did find that they could penetrate into the stratosphere and they could travel around the world two or three times.

AMT: Extraordinary. That's an eye opener for all of us. Ed Struzik, thank you for your work.

ED STRUZIK: Thank you very much.

AMT: Ed Struzik is a fellow at the Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy at Queen's University in Kingston. His book is called Firestorm: How Wildfire will Shape our Future. He joined us today from Edmonton.

[Music]

Back To Top »

'He will die in prison': 'Butcher of Bosnia' Ratko Mladic convicted of genocide

Guest: Alex Whiting, Rafik Hodzic

AMT: I'm Anna Maria Tremonti and you are listening to The Current on CBC Radio 1.

SOUNDCLIP

Mr. Mladic…

[Sound: Indistinct angry speech]

Mr. Mladic if you…

[Sound: Indistinct angry speech]

If you continue like this… Mr…

[Sound: Indistinct angry speech]

We… We… We adjourn… We adjourn

[Sound: Indistinct angry speech]

We adjourn… We adjourn Mr. Mladic will be removed from the court room.

[Sound: Indistinct angry speech]

AMT: Well that was the scene at the Hague today as Ratko Mladic rose in court and started shouting “This is all lies” as you heard he was removed from the court as a judge of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, began to read his damning verdict.

SOUNDCLIP

The Chamber finds Ratko Mladic guilty as a member of various strong [unintelligible] enterprises of the following counts. Count two: Genocide. Count three: Persecution, a crime against humanity. Count four: Extermination, a crime against humanity. Count five: Murder, a crime against humanity.

AMT: In the end, guilty on 10 counts of crimes against humanity. And as you heard there of genocide and he received a life sentence. Ratko Mladic was the Yugoslav general responsible for the activities of the Bosnian Serb fighters in the Bosnian War. He ordered the massacre at Srebrenica in July of 1995. That was the execution of 7000 Muslim men and boys. He was responsible for the Bosnian Serbs brutal camps in the Prijedor area including Omarska where you may remember the picture the infamous shot of an emaciated male prisoner that shocked the world. Responsible for the murder of thousands of Muslims and Croats, first indicted in 1995 but a fugitive for more than 15 years. Today's judgment ends what some say is the most significant war crimes case in Europe since the Nuremberg trial. It also marks the winding down of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia after 25 years of work and after hearing from more than 4500 witnesses. In the end 161 people were indicted, 83 of them were sentenced Rafik Hodzic is originally from period or Bosnia. He's a former spokesperson for the tribunal and he now works on transitional justice. He is joining us from Colombo, Sri Lanka. Alex Whiting is a professor of law at Harbor Harvard University. He's a former senior trial attorney at The Tribunal. He is with us from Boston. Hello gentlemen.

GUESTS: [Cross talking] Good morning. Hello.

AMT: And I should say of course the legal team says they're going to appeal this conviction and the life sentence. But Mr. Hodzic, first of all what is your reaction to this judgment?

RAFIK HODZIC: It is a strange mix of a sense of closure and indifference, I have to say. On one hand it does bring to an end a process that that has marked our lives. Ratko Mladic left a terrible terrible legacy on all of us all the Bosnian; Serbs, Bosnian Muslim, Croats, everyone. And today finally marked the moment where we can - where I can personally start thinking about this man. He will die in prison and that is where he belongs. And we can get on finally with our lives without him being a factor there. On the other hand what happened today in the courtroom and the fact that it has taken so long because of his cowardice his being prepared to face the consequences for what he did with such arrogance. Today he tried at every course to avoid the sentence being passed on him, just showed me again how we allowed people with such… Nothing, nothing behind them but the cowardice to change our lives forever in this way.

AMT: Rafik, what happened to your family?

RAFIK HODZIC: Well anybody who is familiar with Prijedor knows that Prijedor was a site of some of the most notorious concentration camps, most of them ended up in the camps. Some of them did not make it out. And today my mother is actually the only member of the family living in Prijedor while the rest are spread from north of Sweden to the south of New Zealand where they ended up as refugees.

AMT: What will this verdict mean for the victims of so many families then?

RAFIK HODZIC: I hope. I hope it allows the two to have a sense of closure. The problem that we are facing is that the politics of Ratko Mladic was an implement, thereof, are all are still very much alive both in Serbia and in certain parts of Bosnia it has to go. If you see the reactions to the judgment, it is one of the glorification of Mladic as a legend as a hero and that is what worries me very much and that is what probably prevents many people from feeling a full sense of closure. But I hope that it can mark the beginning of a new era in our lives.

AMT: Well in fact I'm just looking at the wires and it says supporters of Ratko Mladic had put up posters in Bosnia praising him, posters in the eastern Bosnian town of Bratunac, carried a picture of him in military attire with the words ‘you are our hero’ written above them. Alex Whiting, first of all your reaction to this judgment.

ALEX WHITING: Well I share many of the thoughts that Rafik has shared. And you know for me, very emotional and important day and a very very significant achievement. I would say two things. The first is that you know when the Yugoslavia tribunal was set up almost 25 years ago in 1993, I don't think anybody would have imagined that it would have the success that it did and that we would have this day when Mladic it would be had been tried and condemned and sentenced to life in prison. There are a lot of mistakes along the way. It took too long. A lot of critics of fair criticism and a lot of things to be learned but that doesn't take away from the incredible achievement of the tribunal. Then the second thing is focusing like, as did Rafik on what happened in court today, that that the judgment was in many ways expected because it had been foreshadowed by my earlier judgments, but the drama of the courtroom today which you played at the beginning of the segment that was unexpected. I thought that was what was significant about that is that: Number one, it showed that at the end of the day Mladic actually really did care what the court was going to say, and as Rafik, said that he tried to prevent it. He tried to disrupt it and he couldn't stop the wheels of justice today. And the court which has allowed defendants in the past sometimes to disrupt it and delay its work, today was going to have none of it. And Mladic, when he started trying to do that, he was sent out of the courtroom and just preceded in the sentence and the judgment was handed down. I thought that was really significant. And it says something about leaders who commit these crimes. They do care about what these courts have to say.

AMT: You know you say that you didn't think anybody would see this. You know as somebody who covered that war extensively, I have to say it was in the middle of Europe. It was one of the best documented wars at the time. Those atrocities were documented at the time. I think many people thought that this would have been prosecuted much sooner. And all these, more than 20 years later, justice may have been done today but that delay, what does that say Alex Whiting?

ALEX WHITING: Well you know of course the delay is a- He was a fugitive for 15 years as you noted and then the trial itself took many years because it's an extremely complex case.

AMT: And let me just interrupt for a second. He was a fugitive for all those years. He was indicted in 19 1995 and lived quite openly because nobody in the U.N., nobody picked him up and then he went into hiding in 2000.

ALEX WHITING: Absolutely right and absolutely right that and what that underscores here is that these courts, these international mechanisms, tribunals will only succeed when they receive political support and political backing. Ultimately this court did both from the United States, from the European Union, ultimately from the region, despite that continued supporters of melodic. And yes it took a long time and yes it happened in Europe and yes that should have happened more quickly. But I think still a staggering success that the court ended up with no fugitives. And if we compare it to other efforts going on today to achieve justice in Syria, in Sudan, in Darfur, in other countries around the world where crimes have been committed, this example is I think something of a beacon showing that where there is the political will there can be success. It's a model for other conflicts where there needs to be justice and where that is not happening today.

AMT: And we know that there are efforts now to document some of the atrocities in Syria. On the wires today the United States has declared that violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar constitutes ethnic cleansing, a phrase of course that was used all the time in the Bosnian war. What is the message? Do those people who commit atrocities have to be more worried today than they were yesterday, Alex Whiting?

ALEX WHITING: I think so yes. I think so. I think the message- If you watch of in the courtroom today; an old man who has finally seen justice catch up with him. I think that has to be a powerful message to those who are responsible for atrocities that have occurred in the past years or that are occurring now that the just the arm of justice is long and it can catch up to you. Now I don't mean to be Pollyannaish or naive. There is an enormous amount of work to be done and I think Rafik gestured to that we have a long way to go. And there's been a lot of setbacks and there will be more setbacks in the future. But again what today shows is that where there is that will, where there is the political will, justice can be achieved and I think that perpetrators have to think about that.

AMT: Rafik Hodzic, during all of this time people have had to live together in Bosnia Herzegovina; Serbs, Croats, Bosnians. What was going on in the tribunal affect the way they were able to do that, how have people been able to move forward with their lives?

RAFIK HODZIC: Why I think it's a mixed bag. I think there are two levels of reality in that sense. And I speak from personal experience of my home town. The people themselves would be able to actually achieve a reckoning with what happened. When I talk to someone who was in the Serb army there, we need very little time to actually arrive at a common understanding of what has taken place and how wrong it was what happened. However as soon as that is elevated to the public conversation, which is dominated by the politics that I described earlier, there is nothing. There is denial. There is perpetration or further discrimination and dehumanization of the other just as there was in the war and that is paralyzing completely any pro progress in reconciliation. ICTY has to get to us in basically making denial and revisionism almost impossible in the face of fact that it has established. But you know very well that it is all about the narrative and the narrative has not changed. The narrative through the examples that you have just even today does not care for the facts. It cares for the myth and unfortunately that is what deeply worries me, because what we can see in the former Yugoslavia is very much like what we could see in the 90s in the former Yugoslavia, or what we can see dominating different divisive discourses elsewhere in the world. And I think that there is where the real danger lies. ICTY we have never changed this without the positive political process.

AMT: gentlemen we have to leave it there but thank you for weighing in on this today. Thank you very much.

GUESTS: [Cross talking] Thank you.

AMT: That is Rafik Hodzic. He is originally from Prijedor, Bosnia, where some of the worst atrocities of the war took place. He's also a former spokesperson for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and a consultant on transitional justice. He joined us from Colombo, Sri Lanka. Alex Whiting is a professor of law at Harvard University. He's a former senior trial attorney at the tribunal. He joined us from Boston. That's our program for today. Stay with Radio One for Q. Bryan Cranston talks to Tom power today about playing Walter White on Breaking Bad the role that changed his life. He'll also address the growing number of sexual assault stories rocking Hollywood many involving people he knows. We just want to give you a heads up, next week we're going to bring you a special edition of the current filling the gaps dental care in Canada. One third of Canadians don't have dental insurance. And next Wednesday we are going to dedicate our entire program to the quality of dental care, including calls for it to become part of Canada’s universal health care system. We're going to hear from people who do not have adequate dental care and who suffer without it. If you have a story of your own to share about dental care, about your ability to afford it, about what it means not to have it, let us know. Send us an email cbc.cca/thecurrent. Click on the Contact link. Let us know right away because we will be working on that for next Wednesday. I'm Anna Maria Tremonti. Thanks for listening to The Current.

[Music: Theme]

Back To Top »

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