CBCradio

April 9, 2009

Pt 1: Abdelrazik/Kafka Doc - Abousfian Abdelrazik is a Canadian who has been stranded in Sudan for six years. He was jailed twice suspected of supporting and accused of supporting Al Qaida. The RCMP and the CSIS, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service have since cleared him of any criminal wrong-doing. But he can't come home because the federal government says he's a security risk and won't issue him a passport.

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Pt 2: Letters - It's Thursday. That's mail day on The Current and our Friday host Nancy Wilson joined Anna Maria in studio to help read your letters.

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Pt 3: Alberta Budget - From the heady days of 400-dollar "prosperity cheques" for everyone and economic "bonanzas" ... to the suddenly spendthrift world of plunging energy prices, Alberta has found itself on the wrong end of a boom.

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It's Thursday April 9th.

Kal Penn, the Hollywood actor who played "Kumar" in the stoner films "Harald and Kumar go to White Castle" and "Harald and Kumar escape from Guantanamo Bay" has just announced he's accepting a job in the Obama White House.

Currently, Republicans say they're outraged at the idea of an actor in the White House.

This is The Current.

Abdelrazik/Kafka Doc

Abousfian Abdelrazik is a Canadian who has been stranded in Sudan for six years. He was jailed twice suspected of supporting and accused of supporting Al Qaida. The RCMP and the CSIS, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service have since cleared him of any criminal wrong-doing. But he can't come home because the federal government says he's a security risk and won't issue him a passport.

So Mr. Abdelrazik has been sleeping on a cot in the Canadian Embassy for the last 11 months. His story has prompted comparisons to the story of Josef K, the protagonist in Franz Kafka's novel, The Trial.

This morning, we wanted to put those two stories side-by-side, to see where they intersect. John Zilcosky has agreed to help us. He's the author of Kafka's Travels and the chair of the department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at the University of Toronto. And Amir Attaran has agreed to help too. He is a law professor at the University of Ottawa who has worked on Abousfian Abdelrazik's case in the past. And we also heard from Abousfian Abdelrazik himself.

We did request interviews with Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon and his Parliamentary Secretary Deepak Obhrai. They were not available.

 

Letters

It's Thursday. That's mail day on The Current and our Friday host Nancy Wilson joined Anna Maria in studio to help read your letters.

Abdelrazik: In our last half-hour, we explored the Kafkaesque aspects of Abousfian Abdelrazik's story. He is of course the Canadian stranded in Sudan for six years now. He was suspected of supporting Al Qaida, picked up at the behest of a Canadian agency and jailed twice. And although the RCMP and CSIS have cleared him of any criminal wrong-doing, the Canadian Government continues to say he is a security risk and has refused to issue him a passport. This story prompted many listeners to write and share their thoughts.

Paul Dewar has been trying to find a loophole that would bring Mr. Abdelrazik to Canada. He's the NDP's Foreign Affairs critic. And last Friday, he tabled a summons for Mr. Abdelrazik to appear before the Foreign Affairs Committee. Paul Dewar was in Ottawa this morning.

The Current has asked the Prime Minister's Office and the Minister of Foreign Affairs for an interview. Those requests were declined. But we did receive an e-mail from the Department of Foreign Affairs. It reads, in part, as this matter is currently under litigation we cannot comment further on the situation.

Decriminalizing Incest: Incest is illegal in Canada. But it's not a crime among consenting adults in France, Spain, Portugal or the Netherlands. Tuesday on The Current, we heard about a boy who was removed from his family to a foster home because his father was violent and an alcoholic. As an adult, he then met his sister ... they ended up marrying and having four children. He was charged with incest and sentenced to time in prison. This story prompted many listeners to write, we read some of our listener response to this story.

Hinkley Update: We wanted to update you on a story we brought you last month. Hector Hinkley was diagnosed with brain cancer almost two years ago. He relies on the drug, temodol to keep him alive. But the cost of the drug -- about thirty thousand dollars a year -- is more than the Hinkley family's annual income.

The Hinkleys' story touched many of you. We received emails and phone calls for days... people who wanted to get in touch with Laura and Hector Hinkley. So earlier this week, the CBC's Joan Weeks went back to Port Hawkesbury to sit down with the Hinkleys again. They told her that, they too, had heard from Canadians.

Along with cards and well wishes, the Hinkleys and the Cancer Centre in Sydney that treated Hector also received 4,500-dollars in donations. And Hector's wife Laura has received news that her company's new health care provider will pay for his drugs. She's not sure how long the company will pay for the drugs. But they are hopeful. The Hinkleys say that they were lucky. But they point out that many Canadians are still in the same position they were in a month ago.

That includes former airline executive David Lyon of New Brunswick, who wrote to us after hearing Hector's story on our program. David also has terminal brain cancer. He was taking Temodol, but now his oncology team has recommended that he go on the take-home cancer drug Avastin, which -- at nearly 200-dollars per-pill -- is twice as expensive as Temodol. David can't afford Avastin. He thought he had a comprehensive drug plan. But his coverage has run out and he's looking at selling everything to stay alive. We contacted him for an update on his situation.

And with such a heavy letters bag, we had to spill over into the next half hour with some thoughts on Block Toilets and April Fool's Day.

 

Letters (cont'd)

We dipped back into an overflowing mail bag this morning.

April Fools: We were thrilled to find more of your responses to our April Fool's Day prank about the Radical Thrift movement. One of the things we included in that piece was an interview about a neighbourhood block toilet and a group that called itself "Spread The Movement." We shared a letter on this story.

To talk to us about what works and what doesn't when it comes to April Foolery, we were joined now by Michael Olmert. He's a professor in the English Department at the University of Maryland, and the author of a book called Milton's Teeth and Ovid's Umbrella: Curiouser and Curiouser Adventures in History. Michael Olmert was in St. Michael's, Maryland.

Music Bridge

Artist: The Dears
CD: "Gang of Losers"
Cut: CD9 Whites Only Party
Label: Maple Music
Spine: MRCD 6459

Alberta Budget

From the heady days of 400-dollar "prosperity cheques" for everyone and economic "bonanzas" ... to the suddenly spendthrift world of plunging energy prices, Alberta has found itself on the wrong end of a boom.

After years of multi-Billion-dollar surpluses, Alberta's Finance Minister Iris Evans is projecting a 4.7-Billion-dollar deficit this year ... the first deficit in 16 years and the largest in the province's history. The Alberta Government says that with resource revenue expected to fall by 6.4-Billion-dollars this year, there really isn't any other option.

But that argument infuriates the Government's critics. They say that since this is hardly the first time Alberta has seen the downside of an energy-fueled boom, it's not too much to expect that it might have seen this day coming and done a bit more to plan for it.

And for thoughts on that, we were joined by Diana Gibson, the Research Director at the Parkland Institute. She was in Edmonton. And in Calgary, Roger Gibbins is the President and CEO of the Canada West Foundation.

Last Word - Kafka Airport 

Earlier today, we examined the Kafkaesque overtones in Abousfian Abdelrazik's story ... the Canadian who has been stranded in Sudan for six years. Unable to return home because the Federal Government says he's a security risk even though he's been cleared by both RCMP and CSIS.

We ended the program today with a satirical take on finding shades of Kafka in everyday life ... courtesy of the satirical web site theonion.com.

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