July 26, 2010

Pt 1: Crime & Punishment - The latest statistics show that crime rates in Canada continue to decline.  So how can the Harper government still justify the need for its tough-on-crime agenda? Jim Brown talks with Justice Minister Rob Nicholson and Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page to get some answers.  (Read More)

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Pt 2: Rwanda Elections - Two weeks from today, the citizens of Rwanda will head to the polls - and President Paul Kagame is expected to walk away the winner, once again. But critics say that's largely because in Kagame's Rwanda, there is no room for opposition. (Read More)

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Whole Show Blow-by-Blow

Today's guest host was Jim Brown.

It's Monday July 26th.

New York City may recruit police to help round up and kill 170 thousand Canadian Geese.

Currently, In retaliation, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is giving all Bald Eagles 48 hours to leave the country ... or else.

This is the Current.

Crime & Punishment - Rob Nicholson

We started that segment with a clip from Prime Minister Stephen Harper, speaking in the House of Commons in February. His tough-on-crime message is one that has become pretty familiar to Canadians. Harper's been driving it home since his days on the campaign trail.

And in recent months his government has begun to actually push through legislation. But last week, Statistics Canada released figures showing that crime is actually on the decline in Canada. We heard from Mia Dauvergne, a Senior Analyst at the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, and co-author of the Statistics Canada crime report released last week.

And the data she was summarizing seem to raise real doubts about the need for expensive new anti-crime legislation. Put another way: If crime is already falling, is there really a need to get tough on it?

So to answer that question we were joined by Rob Nicholson. He is Canada's Justice Minister and Attorney-General. He was in Niagara Falls.

Articles: Tories may revive minimum pot sentences as part of tough-on-crime agenda / Prime Minister's tough-on-crime agenda energizes base, appeals to swing voters

Crime & Punishment - Kevin Page

The government doesn't seem to be losing too much sleep over how much its anti-crime agenda will cost taxpayers. But Kevin Page is a little anxious. As Parliamentary Budget Officer, his job is to provide an independent take on how public policies will affect government finances. Last year, MPs asked him to look into the costs of the tough-on-crime legislation, and he delivered a report in June. Kevin Page was in Ottawa.

Articles: The true costs of 'truth in sentencing' / Sentencing act to cost billions: report


Rwanda Elections - Carina Tertsakian

Sixteen years after the genocide in Rwanda, the tiny east African country has - by many accounts - come a long way. In recent years, Rwanda has been held up in the western world as a model of progress and a beacon of hope.

But these days, a much different storyline is emerging out of Rwanda - one that has Frank Habineza, president of Rwanda's Green Party, living in fear. Earlier this month, Habineza's deputy turned up dead - nearly decapitated.

The brutal murder of his deputy is just one in a troubling series of events leading up to Rwanda's August 9th national elections. In those elections, President Paul Kagame, the Tutsi leader whose army put an end to the 1994 genocide, is expected to maintain the grip on power he has held for the last 16 years. But critics say that's because the President and his supporters have effectively eliminated any competition.

Kagame and his ruling RPF party have been accused of barring major opposition parties from registering in the election. The government has arrested opposition leaders; shut down newspapers, and arrested at least two journalists who were critical of the president. A third journalist was shot and killed.

Kagame's government has denied any involvement in the killings. And it says it has only cracked down on opposition voices guilty of inciting ethnic tensions ... the same ones that 16 years ago led Hutu extremists to slaughter 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Carina Tertsakian has been monitoring the situation as a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch. She was working in the country until April, when she was denied permission to stay. She joined us this morning from London.

Rwanda Elections - Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza

Another outspoken critic of President Kagame is Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, leader of Rwanda's United Democratic Forces Party. After 17 years living in Europe, she returned to Rwanda in January to run for the presidency.

Umuhoza, an ethnic Hutu, immediately stirred controversy with a speech she made at Rwanda's main genocide memorial. She said, in order to properly heal, the country needed to commemorate and seek justice for Tutsi victims of the genocide and Hutus killed by Kagame and his army. CNN's Christiane Amanpour spoke to President Kagame about Umuhoza in March. We aired a clip with what he had to say.

In April, Umuhoza was arrested on charges of genocide denial, ethnic divisionism and ties to a terrorist group. Her party has been prevented from registering in the election, and she remains under house arrest in Kigali. She joined us from there today.

Rwanda Elections - Edda Mukabagwiza

In response to mounting international criticism, President Kagame last week vowed the upcoming elections would be 'free and fair.' So to speak for his government today, we were joined by Edda Mukabagwiza. She is Rwanda's High Commissioner to Canada and before that, served as Rwandan Minister of Justice. She joined us from Ottawa.

Related Articles for Rwanda Elections: UN urges full probe into a Rwandan opposition leader's death / Rwanda arrests writer for comparing Kagame to Hitler / Violence rises in Rwanda as election nears / Rwanda accused of crackdown as elections loom

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