CBCradio

April 17, 2009

Pt 1: Asbestos/Ogden - It was once thought to be a magical material. By the 1970s, it was used in everything from building materials to coffee pots, from hair dryers to potting soil. But these days, Chrysotile Asbestos no longer enjoys the reputation it once had.

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Pt 2: Tamils - It's been almost three decades since a Sri Lankan head of state has stepped foot in the northeastern town of Kilinochchi. And when Sri Lanka's president visited yesterday, it bolstered the government's claim it is close to defeating the Tamil Tigers.

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Pt 3: New Privacy World - To some people the Internet is the world's biggest commons ... a global public square. For others, it's a realm of shadowy, anonymous figures hiding behind online aliases. But anonymity is becoming less and less a feature of life online. We aired a clip with one perspective on that trend, posted last May on the website, Mobuzz.tv.

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Today's guest host was Nancy Wilson.

It's Friday April 17th.

Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo has admitted to a relationship with a 16 year-old girl when he was a 48 year-old Catholic Bishop and to fathering a child with her.

Currently, The Vatican issued a statement saying at least he believes the holocaust happened.

This is The Current.

Asbestos/Ogden

It was once thought to be a magical material. By the 1970s, it was used in everything from building materials to coffee pots, from hair dryers to potting soil. But these days, Chrysotile Asbestos no longer enjoys the reputation it once had.

Canada, and specifically Quebec, has been mining and exporting the fibrous material for decades. Our government acknowledges it can be hazardous, but it says it can be used safely. However, a number of countries have banned it. The World Health Organization says it can cause cancer.

So in November of 2007, our government asked a group of international scientists to study the risks of Chrysotile Asbestos. Those scientists were told by Health Canada the findings would be made public.

After reviewing the recent scientific literature they affirmed what previous research has said about Chrysotile Asbestos being hazardous. And they reiterated that it had a "strong relationship" to lung cancer. The scientists handed their report to the government in March 2008 and waited to see it posted on the Health Canada website. It never was.

Last week, due to an Access to Information request, a reporter for Montreal's La Presse was able to obtain a copy of the report. Shortly after that, Canada's Public Works Minister Christian Paradis, said the scientists had "irreconcilable positions". He said there was no reason to change Canada's policy on Chrysotile Asbestos.

Dr. Trevor Ogden, was the Chair of the Committee commissioned by Health Canada to assess the risks of chrysolite asbestos. He's also a scientist with the British government with considerable experience with asbestos research. Today, he's the editor of the journal The Annals of Occupational Hygiene. He was in Oxford, England.


Asbestos - Rideau Institute

The Current requested an interview with the Minister of Health, Leona Aglukaaq. We were told she was traveling this morning. Despite repeated attempts to accommodate her schedule, including offering to tape an interview earlier this morning or yesterday afternoon, she was still not available.

The Current also requested an interview with Christian Paradis, the Minister of Public Works who has been speaking about the report obtained by La Presse. Mr. Paradis' riding includes Thetford Mines, the centre of Canada's asbestos mining industry.

Mr. Paradis is in his riding today. Because there is poor cell phone reception in his area, we were told he would not be available for an interview this morning. He was also not available yesterday.

Chrysotile Asbestos is a politically sensitive issue in Canada, and Kathleen Ruff is concerned about how the government is handling the Health Canada report. She's is the Senior advisor of human rights for the Rideau Institute on International Affairs.
That's a public policy research and advocacy group in Ottawa. We reached her in Smithers B.C. this morning.

 

Tamils: Pro LTTE

It's been almost three decades since a Sri Lankan head of state has stepped foot in the northeastern town of Kilinochchi. And when Sri Lanka's president visited yesterday, it bolstered the government's claim it is close to defeating the Tamil Tigers.

That's because the town once stood as symbol -- and stronghold -- of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the LTTE. The rebels have been fighting for independence from the Sri Lankan government for decades, and Kilinochchi was considered home base. Government forces took it from them in January.

Now, the remaining fighters are cornered in a 20 square kilometre "safe zone" on the eastern coast, surrounded by troops. It's believed up to 100-thousand civilians are caught in the middle. The military is firing artillery, and the Tigers are said to be barring anyone from fleeing.

The tension has spilled onto the streets of Canada's major cities. Our country is home to the largest population of Tamils outside Sri Lanka. In January, and again in March, tens of thousands have marched in Toronto, calling attention to the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka. And demonstrators have been on Parliament Hill since last week.

Supporters call them freedom fighters. The Canadian government calls them terrorists. The LTTE has been on Canada's terror list since 2006, and it has banned Tamil fundraising organizations across the country. Yet Tamils in Canada continue to lobby for the LTTE. And Tamil Tiger flags fly at every demonstration.
Manjula Selvarajah is a media co-ordinator with the Canadian Tamil Congress. She was in Toronto.

Tamils: Anti LTTE

Though it's not a particularly popular position to take, there are people within Canada's Tamil population that do no support the LTTE. Lenin Benedict is a member of Toronto's Canadian Democratic Tamil Cultural Association.

Tamils: Diaspora Analysis

The views of Canada's Sri Lankan diaspora is the subject of a research project involving Professor Cheran. He is a professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Windsor.

 

New Privacy World

To some people the Internet is the world's biggest commons ... a global public square. For others, it's a realm of shadowy, anonymous figures hiding behind online aliases. But anonymity is becoming less and less a feature of life online. We aired a clip with one perspective on that trend, posted last May on the website, Mobuzz.tv.

Taking responsibility for your actions on line may be just one way you relinquish privacy. Every day, millions of Canadians hop on the Internet to check their e-mail, chat with their friends on social networking sites, book a vacation or buy a gift. And each time they click on a purchase or post a picture, they give up a little bit of their privacy.

With this explosion of information technology - there are those who warn that our anonymity and our right to privacy is in jeopardy. That's the premise of a new book called On The Identity Trail: Anonymity, Privacy and Identity in a Networked Society. Academics, governments and private corporations around the world contributed to the book, which examines how technology is changing the nature of our private lives, and what it means to be "anonymous."

Dr. Ian Kerr is the lead author of the book. He holds the Canada Research Chair in Ethics, Law and Technology at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law. He was in Ottawa.

The book can be downloaded from the internet for free.


Last Word - Trichy Sankaran

We ended the program this week with some music from a Canadian with South Indian roots. Trichy Sankaran performs frequently as a soloist with his group, Trichy's Trio and a host of other artists around the world. He's also a professor of Ethnomusicology and Performance at York University. We played their song called South Indian Kriti.

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