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October 6, 2008

Pt 1: Julie Couillard - It's a story that has got it all ... Sex, violence, political intrigue. But for Julie Couillard -- the woman at the centre of the story -- it's about her life.

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Pt 2: Medical Officers - Five-and-a-half years ago, when Torontonians -- and indeed many Canadians -- were wracked with anxiety over the SARS outbreak, they looked to the late Sheela Basrur for information and reassurance. She was Toronto's Medical Officer of Health and people came to rely on her as an authoritative voice they could trust, someone who was clearly in charge.

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Pt 3: Sri Lanka Military - One of Asia's longest running civil wars may be coming to an end. Sri Lankan military forces are within three kilometres of the headquarters of the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and now say military victory is in sight.

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It's Monday, October 6th.

Russian human rights activist Lidia Yusupova is thought to be a front-runner to win the Nobel Peace Prize this week.

Currently, Vladimir Putin says he would consider that an honour for the country ... but that it's his understanding the prize cannot be awarded posthumously.

This is The Current.


Julie Couillard

It's a story that has got it all ... Sex, violence, political intrigue. But for Julie Couillard -- the woman at the centre of the story -- it's about her life.

Julie Couillard burst onto the national scene last August when she accompanied her boyfriend at the time, now-former foreign affairs minister Maxime Bernier, to his swearing-in ceremony wearing that now infamous dress. After that, stories about security risks, top-secret documents and her past relationships with members of biker gangs, hit front pages across the country and around the world.

Now, Julie Couillard is determined to tell her side of the story. Her new book is called My Story and Julie Couillard was in Montreal.

 

Medical Officers

Five-and-a-half years ago, when Torontonians -- and indeed many Canadians -- were wracked with anxiety over the SARS outbreak, they looked to the late Sheela Basrur for information and reassurance. She was Toronto's Medical Officer of Health and people came to rely on her as an authoritative voice they could trust, someone who was clearly in charge.

This past August, when the listeriosis crisis came to light, the public face of the outbreak was Maple Leaf Foods CEO Michael McCain. Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz was the federal government's point person on the case until a tasteless joke he made about the outbreak surfaced, and he disappeared from view. Health Minister Tony Clement was not a player. And as Paul Hebert, the Editor of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, pointed out on The Current two weeks ago, neither was Canada's Chief Public Health Officer.

What Paul Hebert said just there got us thinking. If the Chief Public Health Officer is not empowered to speak freely as a public advocate on health issues ... then what is his role? And what should it be?

Dr. Kumanan Wilson has spent quite a bit of time thinking about those questions. He's a Doctor of internal medicine at Ottawa Civic Hospital and a Canada Research Chair in Public Health Policy at the University of Ottawa. He joined us in discussion for this show.

 


Sri Lanka Military

The History

One of Asia's longest running civil wars may be coming to an end. Sri Lankan military forces are within three kilometres of the headquarters of the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and now say military victory is in sight.

The Tamil Tigers, as the rebel group is known, have been fighting for 25 years to carve out a separate Tamil state in the north and east of the country. But the conflict swung heavily against the rebels last year after security forces seized control of their eastern territory. The military is now launching almost daily attacks against The Tamil Tigers' last strongholds in the north. This is the largest offensive the government has ever launched in a war the military admits has already claimed at least 100,000 lives.

As the fighting escalates, aid organizations have pulled out of the north, and activists warn that many more civilians will be killed or displaced.

The Discussion

Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara speaks for The Sri Lankan military. He joined us form Colombo.

M any civilians in and around the rebel stronghold of Kilinochchi are now caught between the Tamil Tigers and the advancing Sri Lankan military, a situation Anna Neistat says is deeply troubling. She's a Senior Emergencies Researcher with Human Rights Watch. Earlier this year, she wrote a report for the group called Recurring Nightmare, which documented abductions and disappearances in Sri Lanka. Anna Neistat was in Prague this morning.

And the last of the aid agencies operating in Tamil-held territory left the area last week, leaving many activists worried there is now no help for the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have already been displaced. Dominic Nutt is the Head of News for Save the Children UK and he was in London, England.


Last Word:

Last week, Canadians watched as the leaders of our five major political parties squared off for two consecutive nights of televised debates. And while he was hanging around the set after the debate, one of The Current's producers found a tape containing a series of questions that were put to the leaders, but for some strange reason, never made it to air. We'll leave you with what he found.

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