April 15, 2010

Pt 1: Jaffer/Guergis Affair - We look at what the on-going saga involving Helena Guergis and Rahim Jaffer tells us about the rules we have in place to regulate lobbying and conflict of interest and whether either of them has violated them. (Read More)

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Pt 2: Letters - It's mail day. We read your letters on the program about MS, Nazia Quazi's plight, drug store wars and . Plus, meet a man who traveled half-way around the world for a controversial and unproven new treatment for multiple sclerosis.  (Read More)

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Pt 3: Tough New Planet: Author Bill McKibben has good news and bad news. The bad news is that we've damaged the Earth to a point where it just isn't as friendly to humans as it used to be. The good news is that he has some ideas about how we might live with that.
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Whole Show Blow-by-Blow

It's Thursday, April 15th.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office says freedom of information is the Oxygen of Democracy.

Currently, Unfortunately the rest of the statement was blacked out.

This is The Current.

Jaffer/Guergis Affair

The headlines in the largest newspaper in the country are screaming with more allegations against former Conservative cabinet minister Helena Geurgis this morning. The Toronto Star quotes a private investigator who in turn quotes a man charged in his own case of fraud and then alleges that the RCMP investigation that is underway is related to drugs and stock fraud.

Though she is charged with nothing Helena Geurgis has lost her job and all of her privacy. The stories range from details of her personal health problems, to those of her extended family .. to rumours about what might have happened at parties.

In the midst of all of this, a hungry opposition has been demanding information, convinced that Ms. Geurgis' troubles are directly related to alleged lobbying efforts by Green Power Generation, a company in which her husband, Rahim Jaffer is a partner.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper asked both the federal Ethics Commissioner and the RCMP to investigate Ms. Geurgis. Despite the PM's clarification .. the opposition continues to charge that Mr Jaffer needs to answer to questions of influence peddling and questionable lobbying practices.

Duff Conacher is the coordinator of Democracy Watch. That's a not-for-profit and non-partisan group that advocates democratic reform and government accountability. Mary Dawson is the Federal Conflict of Interest & Ethics Commissioner. They were both in Ottawa. And Susan Delacourt is the senior political reporter with the Toronto Star.




Thursday is mail day at The Current. And Gillian Findlay joined Anna Maria in studio for a look at what you've had to say about what you've heard on the program. She is, of course a co-host of CBC Television's the fifth estate. And she'll be back in this chair tomorrow as The Current's Friday Host.

Multiple Sclerosis: Doctor Paolo Zamboni has pioneered a new medical procedure that he claims can significantly alleviate some of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. It has created huge waves in the medical community and among people living with MS. But many MS researchers are questioning the validity of his work. Yesterday on The Current, we heard from both sides.

Doctor Mark Freedman is a neurologist and the Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Research Unit at the Ottawa Hospital. Doctor Paolo Zamboni is a Professor of Medicine and the Director of the Vascular Diseases Centre at the University of Ferrara in Italy. We heard a lot about those interviews in our mail and we shared some here.

Duncan Thornton and his brother both have multiple sclerosis. And they decided to go to a clinic in Poland to undergo Dr. Zamboni's procedure. They had the procedure three weeks ago today. Duncan Thornton was in Winnipeg this morning.

Nazia Quazi: Nazia Quazi is a 24-year-old woman with dual Indian and Canadian citizenship. For the last two years, she has been trapped in Saudi Arabia. That's because in Saudi Arabia, a woman requires her male guardian's permission to leave the country. And she says her father has refused to grant her that permission because he disapproves of her boyfriend. Last week, Nazia Quazi told us how she retains her faith that things will eventually turn out for her.

To find out what the Canadian government is doing about her case, we also spoke with Deepak Obhrai. He's the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. And he is responsible for consular services.

Opinion was divided in the mail. We shared some of our listener's views on this.

We also received several missives from listeners concerned about Ms Quazi's identification as a dual citizen of India and Canada. She told us she holds a Canadian passport, as well as one from India. She also told us that her father brought her into Saudi Arabia on her Indian passport.

Then we got an e-mail from Yohann Sulaiman of Vancouver. In it, he writes:

Indian citizens have no legal means to obtain dual citizenship with Canada. The Indian government revokes citizenship instantly when a person becomes a Canadian citizen.

To clarify the issue, we decided to contact S.M. Gavai. He is India's High Commissioner to Canada. He was in Ottawa.

Drug Store Wars: The Ontario Government is proposing changes to the way that generic drugs are dispensed in the province. The government plans to lower the cap on charges for generic drugs and to eliminate what are known as "professional allowances". Monday on The Current, we spoke with Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews. She believes professional allowances are one of the reasons why we have been paying so much for generic drugs. After we aired this segment, we heard from you.

To add to your thoughts about anything you hear on the program, you can email us, you can call us toll-free anytime at 1 877 287 7366. Or send us an old fashioned letter to Box 500, Station A, Toronto, M5W 1E6.

We are also on Twitter at TheCurrentCBC. And we've created a fan page on Facebook.


Tough New Planet

In any relationship, it's important to respect boundaries. That's something humans haven't been very good at when it comes to our relationship with the Earth. And now some scientists say we may end up paying a heavy price for that. Jonathan Foley is a climatologist and an ecologist. He's also the Director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. We aired what he had to say about the dangers of ignoring boundaries.

Jonathan Foley was a member of a group of scientists who published a report in the journal Nature last year. It looked at nine aspects of the environment in order to determine how close humanity is to pushing the Earth beyond its capacity to sustain life as we know it.

According to the report Jonathan Foley helped write, there's some breathing room in some areas. But in others we're either approaching a tipping point or already past it. For example, with biodiversity loss, he says we've blown way past the limit.

Bill McKibben has been thinking about planetary boundaries for a long time. And he thinks we've already reached a breaking point. His latest book is called Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.That's "Eaarth" with two a's by the way. In it, he argues that we need to develop a blueprint for life on a planet that's not as friendly to humans as it used to be. Bill McKibben was in Toronto.

Watch this segment on The Current Video

Last Word: Anna Lappe

Before we go ... Bill McKibben was just telling us about how we need to change our food system for the harsh, new planet we live on. That's something Anna Lappe has spent a lot of time working on. Her new book is called Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do About It. And she thinks that a low-carbon, low-chemical food system would be good news for foodies. We gave her the last word this morning.

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