CBCradio

May 6, 2008

Pt 1: Untying Food Aid - In 2005, Canada slowly began to change the way in which it delivers food aid -- and by 2008, a growing global food crisis caused the process to speed up.

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Pt 2: India's Billionaires - In early 2008, Forbes Magazine released its annual survey of the world's wealthiest people. As usual, there were some familiar names at the top of the list, including Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. But in 2008, four of the world's top ten billionaires came from India, more than any other country represented in the top ten. And when you scan the full list, India has more billionaires than any other country in Asia, including Japan.

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Pt 3: The Bin Ladens - On September 13, 2001, ground zero in New York City was still smoldering, the dead were still being counted, and the full scope of the worst terrorist attack in United States history was still being absorbed.

Read more here

It's Tuesday May 6.

Charity Navigator, a watchdog group, has rated the musician Sting's charity Rainforest Foundation, one of the worst for percentage of actual monies used for the purported charity.

Currently, Sting's charity was ranked just slightly ahead of The Conrad Black Foundation for the Support of Fraud and Embezzlement.

This is The Current.


Untying Food Aid

In 2005, Canada slowly began to change the way in which it delivers food aid -- and by 2008, a growing global food crisis caused the process to speed up.

Until the changes, all of the money the Canadian government gave out for food aid had to be used to buy food from Canadian farmers. But in 2005, that changed, permitting aid agencies to use half of the money to buy food from outside Canada.

By the end of April 2008, as the global food crisis took centre stage, Bev Oda -- Canada's Minister of International Cooperation -- announced that Ottawa was "untying" those restrictions entirely. Aid agencies could now buy food from wherever they like.

Minister Oda turned down our request for an interview, but she explained the policy change on CTV's Mike Duffy Live.

As part of our on-going series Diet for a Hungry Planet, we're going to explore what kind of impact that policy change will have. For years, aid agencies advocated "untying" Canada's food aid, saying it would increase efficiency and promote the growth of local and regional markets in developing countries. It's a theory Stuart Wells says sounds like a great idea -- but one that simply doesn't work in practice.

Stuart Wells is the President of the National Farmers Union and he spoke to us from his farm just east of Swift Current, Saskatchewan.


Untying Food Aid - Aid Agency

The Canadian Foodgrains Bank is one of the aid agencies that have been lobbying Ottawa to "untie" Canadian food aid. It's a Christian organization that's based in Winnipeg and relies largely on donations from Canadian farmers. But it's also funded by the Federal Government, through the Canadian International Development Agency, and it received an extra five million dollars to help deal with the increasing cost of food.

Jim Cornelius, the Executive Director of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, joined us from Ottawa.


Listen to Part One:

 

India's Billionaires

In early 2008, Forbes Magazine released its annual survey of the world's wealthiest people. As usual, there were some familiar names at the top of the list, including Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. But in 2008, four of the world's top ten billionaires came from India, more than any other country represented in the top ten. And when you scan the full list, India has more billionaires than any other country in Asia, including Japan.

Those two facts are testament to the overwhelming force of the Indian economy, by 2008 the fourth largest in the world. But the people benefitting from this frenzy of wealth generation are a select group. And their millions -- even billions -- haven't changed the fact that overall, India remains extremely poor.

Raman Roy, Chair and Managing Director of Quatrro BPO Solutions, is one of the pioneers of India's outsourcing industry and he's often credited with helping launch India's economic boom. By age 50 he amassed a multimillion dollar fortune. He joined us from New Delhi.


India's Billionaires - Future of India

India's growing number of billionaires is just one of the results of the country's incredible economic expansion. Daniel Lak is a Canadian journalist who spent nearly twenty years as a reporter in India, documented the growth in the new book, India Express: The Future of a New Superpower. He joined us in Toronto.


Listen to Part Two:

The Bin Ladens

On September 13, 2001, ground zero in New York City was still smoldering, the dead were still being counted, and the full scope of the worst terrorist attack in United States history was still being absorbed. That same day, the FBI was helping make arrangements to fly several members of Osama Bin Laden's extended family out of the United States, and Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, the Saudi Ambassador to Washington, was smoking cigars with President George Bush on the Truman Balcony overlooking the south lawn of the White House.

Those two events speak volumes about the privileged, complicated and often compromising relationship among the Bin Ladens, the Saudi Royal Family and the United States Government. It's a relationship that has deep roots and serious -- if often unintended -- consequences for all three parties. Steve Coll traces that history in his book, The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century. He's a Pulitzer Prize winning author, the President of the New America Foundation and a Staff Writer with The New Yorker Magazine. He joined us from Washington.


Last Word - Wheat Kings

We began this episode by talking about the federal government's decision to "untie" Canada's food aid, meaning the money Ottawa gives to aid agencies will no longer have to be used to buy food from Canadian farmers; it can be used to buy food anywhere in the world. Of course, in the past, much of what's been bought from Canada has been wheat. So we closed this episode with an ode to one of Canada's most abundant and iconic crops Wheat Kings as performed by The Tragically Hip.


Listen to Part Three:

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