April 12, 2010

Pt 1: Poland Plane Crash - The timing and the geographic coincidence of the plane crash that killed so many Polish elite on Saturday has left a nation numbed. Poland's president, the top rung of military officials, the central bank governor, up-and-coming Parliamentarians .. historians were all dead. Killed at the very site where 70 years earlier Russians massacred more than 20-thousand of Poland's military and intellectual elite. We're asking about the politics around that tragedy this morning. (Read More)

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Pt 2: Drug Store Wars - When it comes to trimming mounting health care costs, all eyes are on Ontario. We speak with the province's health minister about a new plan which would slash what pharmacies can charge for generic drugs. (Read More)

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Pt 3: Sudan Election - People in Sudan are going to the polls in an election that was supposed to mark the end of a brutal civil war and set the country on the road to a bright and peaceful future. The trouble is that many of the opposition candidates aren't on the ballot because they think the election's rigged. (Read More)

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Whole Show Blow-by-Blow

It's Monday, April 12th.

Conservative MP Helena Guergis has resigned as the Minister of State for the Status of Women.

Currently, Rahim Jaffer's business cards have been adjusted accordingly.

This is The Current.

Poland: Michael Moran

Today Poland is in its second day of a full week of official mourning ... following Saturday's plane crash that killed President Lech Kaczynski and some of Poland's most prominent civilian and military leaders.

Citizens of Warsaw lined the streets yesterday as a hurse carrying the body of the President moved the capital. The motorcade passed a sea of candles before disappearing into the Presidential Palace and outside the gates, tens of thousands of mourners quietly paid their respect.

One person watching all of this closely -- partly as an outsider and partly as an adopted son of Poland -- was the Australian writer Michael Moran. He is the author of several books, including A Country in the Moon: Travels in Search of the Heart of Poland. Michael Moran was in Warsaw.

Poland: James Sherr

The death of President Lech Kaczynski puts Poland's already strained relationship with Russia into sharper relief. James Sherr is the head of the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House, an independent foreign policy think-tank in London, England. And that is where we reached him.


Drug Store Wars: Deb Matthews

We started this segment with a clip of James Snowdon. He runs an independent pharmacy in Toronto's Annex neighbourhood called Snowdon Pharmacy. It's one of the few pharmacies that actually prepares on site some of the medications it dispenses. It has been in his family for 104 years. And he's worried about its future and the changes being brought in by the Ontario Government. They would alter the way that generic drugs are dispensed in the province.

First, the province is lowering the cap on the price of generic drugs. And second, it is banning what are known as "professional allowances" fees that generic drug companies pay to pharmacies that agree to stock their drugs. Ontario's Health Minister Deb Matthews says the changes would save the government 750-million-dollars and cut the cost of generic drugs in half.

But James Snowdon says there would be other consequences too. And James Snowdon isn't the only one. Shoppers Drug Mart -- the country's largest drug store chain, which registered  half-a-billion dollars in profits last year -- says the changes will mean lay-offs and reduced hours at its stores. Deb Matthews is Ontario's Minister for Health and Long-Term Care. She was in our Toronto studio.

Drug Store Wars: Joel Lexchin

Other provinces are watching what is happening in Ontario very closely. We aired a clip of Nova Scotia's Finance Minister, Graham Steele.

Joel Lexchin is an emergency room doctor in downtown Toronto and he has written extensively on prescribing and the pharmaceutical industry. He's also a professor of health policy at York University. He was in our Toronto studio.


Sudan Election: Wasil Ali

For several years, the conflict in Darfur has captured the world's attention. And that makes it easy to forget that before Darfur, Sudan was home to a longer and even more deadly civil war. The north-south conflict killed two million people before it ended with a peace deal in 2005.

A cornerstone of that deal was free and fair elections ... the first multi-party elections in 24 years. Those elections began yesterday. And there's a lot riding on them. Sudan has been an independent country for 54 years. It has been at war for 43 of them. And these elections are meant to be the starting point for a new and more peaceful chapter in the country's history.
We aired a clip with what voters in Rumbek in Southern Sudan had to say as they cast their ballots.

But there is an important name missing from the ballots they were casting. Yasir Arman is the leader of the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement, or SPLM. He was also supposed to be President Omar al-Bashir's main competitor for the Presidency. But less than two weeks before the election campaign began, Yasir Arman withdrew his candidacy. Other political parties have done the same. They say it's impossible to hold elections in the midst of the conflict in Darfur.

To take a look at how this decision is shaping this week's election, we were joined by Wasil Ali. He's a Sudanese ex-pat who runs the online newspaper Sudan Tribune. He was in Dallas, Texas.

Sudan Election: Ambassador

Ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad is Sudan's Envoy to the United Nations. He was in New York City.

Sudan Election: Sara Pantuliano

For some more perspective on the credibility for these elections and what is at stake, we were joined by Sara Pantuliano. She is the research fellow at the Overseas Development Institute and she was in London, England.

Last Word: Sudan Drumming

We ended the program today with a project called Sudan 365. It was launched a year ago, in the lead-up to the election we've been talking about, as a call for peace and human rights in Sudan. It's performed by drummers from all over the world, including the drummers from Radiohead and The Police. It's called A Beat For Peace.

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