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November 26, 2009

Pt 1: Lindhout Release - We started this segment with a clip of Amanda Lindhout speaking to CTV News Channel from Mogadishu, Somalia yesterday. She's a freelance journalist from Sylvain Lake, Alberta. She was taken hostage on August 23rd, 2008 and held captive for 15 months.

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Pt 2: Canadian Diplomatic Service - There is, by now, a pretty good chance you're familiar with the name Richard Colvin. In the last week, he's gone from high-ranking but anonymous diplomat to high-profile whistle-blower thanks to his explosive allegations before a Parliamentary committee. He said that Afghan detainees were routinely subjected to torture after Canadian soldiers handed them over to Afghan authorities and that his superiors in the Department of Foreign Affairs pressed him to remain quiet about it.

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Pt 3: Letters - This is Thursday ... mail day at The Current. And producer John Chipman joined Susan Ormistonn in studio to get through some of the mail.

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It's Thursday November 26th

Nova Scotia Conservative MP Gerald Keddy apologized for describing unemployed Nova Scotians as quote no good bastards.

Currently, The unemployed accepted his apology and said they looked forward to welcoming him to the no good bastards club after the next election.

This is The Current.

Lindhout Release - James Loney

We started this segment with a clip of Amanda Lindhout speaking to CTV News Channel from Mogadishu, Somalia yesterday. She's a freelance journalist from Sylvain Lake, Alberta. She was taken hostage on August 23rd, 2008 and held captive for 15 months.

Amanda Lindhout is re-united with her family in Nairobi, Kenya this morning. She says her family did raise money to pay a ransom, but that she's not sure how much was paid.

Last Saturday, Paul Vickers helped organize a fund-raiser for Amanda Lindhout's family. He owns several bars in Calgary, including Ceili's where Amanda worked, off-and-on, for several years. We heard from bar owner Paul Vickers who helped organize a fund-raiser for Amanda Lindhout's family in Calgary last Saturday.

Jim Loney can relate all too well to the emotions around Amanda Lindhout's release. And to the very tricky dilema of whether ransom money should be paid to kidnappers. On November 26, 2005 a little-known band of Iraqi insurgents kidnapped Jim and three other members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams from the streets of Baghdad.

The kidnappers released grainy footage of their hostages which was widely publicized around the world. They also demanded two million dollars in ransom. Tom Fox, one of Jim's co-captives, was executed. And then, in March of 2006, troops led by British forces raided a building where they found the remaining hostages. After 118 days in captivity, Jim and the other two remaining hostages were free. Jim Loney now lives in Toronto and he has been in touch with Amanda Lindhout's family during her captivity. He was in our Toronto studio.

Lindhout Release - McTeague

Making the decision to pay a ransom is fraught with emotional and ethical complications. And its a choice that Liberal MP Dan McTeague wishes the Lindhout family didn't have to make. He is the Liberal Party's critic for Consular Services and former Parliamentary Secretary responsible for Canadians abroad. He was in Ottawa.

The Current requested an interview with Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon, but he was unavailable.

Canadian Diplomatic Service

There is, by now, a pretty good chance you're familiar with the name Richard Colvin. In the last week, he's gone from high-ranking but anonymous diplomat to high-profile whistle-blower thanks to his explosive allegations before a Parliamentary committee. He said that Afghan detainees were routinely subjected to torture after Canadian soldiers handed them over to Afghan authorities and that his superiors in the Department of Foreign Affairs pressed him to remain quiet about it.

We aired a clip .... the last part when Colvin says that "internal censorship" meant diplomats working in Afghanistan couldn't even refer to a deteriorating security situation raises two questions that are much bigger than the specifics of how Canada dealt with Afghan detainees. Just how much leeway do diplomats have to speak out about what they see in the field? And what consequences do they face when they do?

We've asked three people to weigh in on those questions this morning. Gar Pardy is the former head of Consular Affairs in the department of Foreign Affairs. He was in Ottawa. Brian McAdam spent 30 years working in the Canadian foreign service up until 1993, when he reported corruption at the Canadian consulate in Hong Kong. He was also in Ottawa. And David Hutton is the Executive Director of the Federal Accountability Initiative for Reform, or FAIR. He was in London, England.

We invited Foreign Affairs Minister, Lawrence Cannon and also Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Deepak Obhrai, neither of them were available to speak this morning.

Letters

This is Thursday ... mail day at The Current. And producer John Chipman joined Susan Ormistonn in studio to get through some of the mail.

Pamela Wallin: All week long, the Conservative government has been dealing with the fallout from allegations made by senior Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin. He says that in 2006 and 2007, Afghan detainees were routinely tortured in Afghan prisons, after they were transferred by Canadian Forces. Mr. Colvin says the Canadian government was aware of the situation and continued to transfer detainees anyway.

Yesterday on the program, Pamela Wallin weighed in. She is a senator appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Deputy Chair of the Senate's Defence and National Security Committee. She was also part of the Independent Panel on Canada's Future Role in Afghanistan. And she was in Afghanistan last week.
We asked her specifically about the 18-month period that Richard Colvin was referring to.

Malalai Joya: At 27, Malalai Joya was the youngest person elected to the Afghan parliament. But she found the democratic process in Afghanistan less than democratic. When she rose to speak in parliament, her microphone was turned off. There were death threats and threats of rape shouted across the floor.
Malalai Joya says her country is being run by fundamentalist warlords and that foreign troops are only aiding a corrupt system. And last Thursday on The Current, she told us that Canadian troops have to get out of Afghanistan.

Brighton Bombing: Three weeks ago on The Current, we examined the legacy of an IRA bombing 25 years ago at the Grand Hotel in Brighton, England. The target was British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. She survived. But the bomb killed five others, including a British MP named Anthony Berry.

In her struggle to come to grips with her father's death, Mr. Berry's daughter, Jo Berry decided to reach out to the man who killed him, an IRA operative named Patrick Magee. Ms. Berry and Mr. Magee shared a microphone three weeks ago to share their story.

And after it aired, we received an extraordinary email from Ishnan Kaur of Brampton, Ontario where she talked about our interview inspiring her to contact her estranged father. After receiving this letter we decided we had to inquire further and Ishnan Kaur was in our Toronto studio. And Jo Berry joined us from Stoke on Trent, England.

Climate Change Cover-Up: A week from Monday, The United Nations Climate Change Conference will kick off. But it's unlikely there will be trumpeting fanfares for the event. Hopes were initially high. But they've been scaled back now as it has become increasingly clear that a binding agreement to replace the expiring Kyoto protocol is not expected to be reached at the conference. Last Thursday, Lawrence Solomon brought his views on the topic to The Current. He is one of Canada's best known climate change skeptics and also the Executive Director of Energy Probe.

In the interview with Lawrence Solomon, he made a statement about the funding of Greenpeace, that Alex Paterson of Greenpeace Canada took exception with. Mr. Paterson writes: Lawrence Solomon quite clearly stated that Greenpeace receives money from the oil industry. That is completely untrue. Greenpeace is an independent, member-funded organization. We don't accept money from the oil industry or any other corporations. This policy forms the foundation of our stated non-partisan independence. Our funding comes from our 90,000 Greenpeace members in Canada, and 2 million worldwide. Funding from individuals gives us the freedom and clarity to objectively campaign on issues free from corporate interference.

In response to that Lawrence Solomon issued this reply:

I incorrectly identified Greenpeace as one of the environmental groups that has been funded by multinationals promoting climate change legislation. I was mistaken: Greenpeace is not among the environmental organizations that receive corporate funds. Further, Greenpeace assures me that it does not and has not either solicited or received corporate funds, as a matter of policy. I believe Greenpeace and regret any harm I have caused. Greenpeace is an organization with which Energy Probe and I have long cooperated, and currently cooperate, to further our mutual environmental goals.

Request Count: It has been a busy week on the Request Count Front. We tried to line up interviews with Health Minister Leona Aglukaaq, and Chuck Strahl, the minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, to speak about the level of child welfare services on First Nations. And we've been eager to speak with Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon about Richard Colvin's testimony. All four ministers declined.

The tally now stands at 23 requests and four interviews. The Current has been turned down 19 times by federal cabinet ministers so far this season. We should mention The Current will be wrapping up it's Request Count feature next month, but we will be continuing it on our website, cbc.ca/thecurrent for the rest of the season.

Music Bridge

Artist: Thievery Corporation
Cd: Asia Lounge: Third Floor
Cut: CD 1, Cut 2, Une Simple Histoire
Label: SPV

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