April 29, 2010

Pt 1: Abortion in Ethiopia - In the wake of Canada's decision to withhold funding from any maternal health initiatives which include abortions, we look at how that will affect women in Ethiopia. (Read More)

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Pt 2: Letters - It's mail day. Plus, we meet a nurse who cared for many of the Canadian babies born with deformities because of Thalidomide. (Read More)

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Pt 3: Grizzly Manifesto - Grizzly Bears are among the most powerful creatures on earth. But according to writer and conservationist Jeff Gailus, they live a surprisingly precarious existence in this Country and they need our protection. (Read More)

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Whole Show Blow-by-Blow

It's Thursday, April 29th.

The governing Conservatives have introduced a bill to reform the Senate and make it more democratic.

Currently, If the bill passes, they'll begin ignoring its wishes sometime in the fall.

This is The Current.

Abortion in Ethiopia - Grete Petersen

We started this segment with a clip from International Cooperation Minister Bev Oda speaking earlier this week. The debate over Canada's decision to withhold funding for international maternal health initiatives that include abortions has been raging all week. This morning, we're asking how that decision might affect maternal health in one developing country.

Four years ago, Ethiopia liberalized its abortion laws. But despite the changes to the law, three quarters of the 380,000 abortions performed in 2008 were illegal procedures performed outside proper health facilities ... something advocates say puts women's health at risk.

Grethe Petersen is the Ethiopia Country Director for Marie Stopes International, a not-for-profit organization that provides sexual and reproductive health care -- including abortions -- around the world. The group has received Canadian government funding, but not for its work in Ethiopia. Now, it's worried that it won't be able to get Canadian funding in the future. Grethe Petersen was in Addis Ababa.

Link of interest: Not Yet Rain - Documentary mentioned in this item

Abortion in Ethiopia - Mark Bennet

Others who work in Ethiopia say abortions aren't a necessary part of good, maternal health care.

Mark Bennet is the CEO of the Addis Ababa Fistula Foundation's hospital run by Hamlin Fistula. The hospital does not provide abortions. Mark Bennet hopes that his hospital might be able to get more Canadian funding to do its work. Mark Bennet was in Addis Ababa.

Matercare International

Well, one Canadian-based non-governmental organization is pleased with Canada's stance on this issue. Matercare International is based in St. John's. It provides maternal health care in several countries around the world. The group is run by Dr. Robert Walley, a Roman Catholic obstetrician and gynecologist. We aired a clip with some of what he had to say about the Harper government's decision to exclude abortion from its international maternal health initiative.



It has been a busy week here at The Current. And we have lots of listener mail to show for it. To help wade through it this morning, we were joined by our Friday Host, Gillian Findlay from CBC Television's the fifth estate.

Thalidomide: On Tuesday's program, we heard the powerful story of Frances Kelsey. She is a Canadian pharmacologist who was working in Washington DC in 1960. She helped save untold thousands of American families from a pill whose name has become synonymous with pharmaceutical disaster.

That pill was Thalidomide. Thalidomide was the sleeping pill that created the nightmare of thousands of armless, legless and severely injured children all over the world, including 125 here in Canada. Frances Kelsey's story brought in many letters to the inbox. We shared a few.

Margaret Owens' career was also affected by Thalidomide. In 1962 she became the head nurse of the first floor of the Rehabilitation Institute of Montreal, where many of the Canadian children born with deformities because of Thalidomide were sent. Margaret Owens was in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

Ash Cloud: Last week was the continued effect of the volcanic eruption in Iceland. Financially, the grounding of flights throughout Europe took a negative toll, but as we heard for people living in busy cities, with busy airports -- the resulting silence was golden. We heard from Larry Miller, a correspondent for CBS & NPR, who has lived in London, England for the last 35 years. And his comment on the sounds of silence brought in many comments from our listeners.

Mudslides: Earlier this month, nearly 250 people in Brazil were killed during several mudslides. Most of the mudslides were in Niteroi, a city of about half-a-million people just across the bay from Rio de Janeiro. The hardest hit areas were the slums, or favelas as they are called in Brazil.

Freelancer Christopher Frey brought us that story last Wednesday. Then we heard from Marcelo Vianna-Penner who was born in Brazil but now lives in Winnipeg. He wrote in part: I lost family in the slide. My mom went to the site in Niteroi and for 5 days searched for my aunt and cousin. For more on his personal loss, Marcelo Vianna-Penner was in our Winnipeg studio.

The Current Video: Two weeks ago, The Current launched a pilot project that put part of this program on video on the web. After our second edition of the video edition of The Current we received some comments in our inbox. We aired some of our feedback sent in from listeners and to answer some questions about the video edition of The Current, our senior producer Aaron Brindle joined Anna Maria and Gillian in studio.

Please watch the next two installments of the video edition of The Current and let us know what you think.


Grizzly Manifesto - Jeff Gailus

We started this segment with a scene from the documentary, Project Grizzly. Troy Hurtubise is describing the encounter with a grizzly bear that changed his life. From then on he devoted his life to building a protective suit that could withstand a grizzly attack ... all so that he could - once again - get close enough to a grizzlies to see what makes them tick. It's that kind of passion that speaks to why the grizzly bear occupies a unique place in North American culture. It's the embodiment of power, ferocity and mystery. But despite its formidable physical presence, its long-term survival -- especially in places such as Alberta -- is in doubt.

When government scientists recommended listing grizzlies as threatened in 2002, officials thought there were about a thousand grizzlies in the province. Now, the official count is less than 700. Even in British Columbia, where there are about 15,000 grizzlies, all is not well. The David Suzuki Foundation reported earlier this month that grizzlies are being killed by humans at a much higher rate than provincial limits allow for.

The challenges confronting grizzly bears prompted Jeff Gailus to write his new book, The Grizzly Manifesto. He's a writer and conservationist from Canmore, Alberta and he was in Calgary this morning.

Grizzly Manifesto - Jim Allen

Jim Allen is the Head of Game and Priority Species in the Wildlife Management branch of the Alberta Government's Fish and Wildlife Service. It's a division of the Sustainable Resource Development Ministry. Jim Allen was in Edmonton.

Last Word - Project Grizzly

We gave the last word this morning to Troy Hurtubise, the man we heard earlier whose encounter with a grizzly changed his life. This is from the National Film Board documentary Project Grizzly.

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