Checking-In: Listener Response


It's Thursday-- which--of course, is the day we check in with our listeners. From a conflict and now ceasefire between Israel and Hamas to cancer in the workplace and a love in for The Current's 10th Anniversary special, we share some of your views on the stories we've recently covered. And we also look into protecting Rohingya Muslim minorities in Burma -- the country also known as Myanmar. Now, Doctors Without Borders, or Medecins Sans Frontiers, is concerned its teams there are no longer able to access everyone who needs help.

Checking-In: Listener Response

Our Executive producer, Jennifer Moroz joined Piya Chattopadhyay in studio to check in with what you've had to say this week.

Living Under Rockets: Yesterday we put faces to the conflict in the Middle East. Amjad Shawa lives in Gaza City and is the Gaza co-ordinator for a Palestinian NGO. And we also heard from Faye Bittker who lives in Meitar, Israel and has felt the rocket attacks from Gaza .

This is always a divisive issue and that was clear in the listener feedback.

Here are points from each side. Kate Morris of Toronto emailed this:

I was really struck by the class positioning of Faye Bittker in contrast to the desperation of your guest from Gaza. She seemed utterly oblivious to the privilege that is inherent in having one's own shelter.

And from Stephanie who tweeted this:

Thanks for acknowledging Hamas doesn't invest in shelters, warning sirens or iron shields; only bombs.

Generic OxyContin: We've covered the controversy over OxyContin several times on this program. OxyContin is a powerful painkiller with effects similar to morphine. Used properly, it can be very effective. But it is frequently abused by addicts.

Last spring, the company that produces OxyContin stopped making it and replaced it with a new formulation that is said to be harder to abuse. But this weekend, the company's original patent -- the one so many people were abusing -- runs out. That means generic versions can be sold.

Some addiction experts and provincial health ministers had asked Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq to step in to stop generic versions from coming onto the market.

But earlier this week, Minister Aglukkaq declined to do that. Deb Matthews is one of the people who was pushing the Federal Government to act. She's Ontario's Health Minister and she was in Toronto.

Work & Breast Cancer: The message that we are all responsible for our own health comes through clearly in cancer-prevention messages. Drink less alcohol. Exercise more. Avoid processed foods.

But this week, a new study looked at the connection between the workplace and cancer. And working in the fields of agriculture, metal related manufacturing and plastics - were three workplaces flagged for higher risk.

Hilary Prince was not surprised to hear this outcome. She writes from Stratford, PEI:

My mother and sister were diagnosed with breast cancer in the early 1950s. Both died shortly afterwards. Both worked in a bakery, the ovens of which were fueled with coke - or spent coal. My father also worked in the bakery. He died four years later from pancreatic cancer.
I am quite sure they all died from the carcinogenic effects.

Hilary also told us that she was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer but she is fine so far.

Christine Rogalsky of Waterloo, Ontario offered this view:

Just because the job uses known carcinogens ... it doesn't necessarily follow that there will be harmful exposure. The more important questions are why the exposure would be happening despite the laws.

And Susanna Bruneau of Camrose, Alberta emailed us this:

If it is hazardous for women to work with these products, isn't it still dangerous for women to work with products after they have been distributed? We need to research the impacts of using so many different types plastics every day.

MSF & Burma: Earlier this week, US President Barack Obama made an historic trip to Burma -- the country also known as Myanmar -- where he met both the president and the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Obama urged Burma's leaders to continue democratic reforms and do more to protect the country's Rohingya Muslim minority.

Back in August, The Current discussed the plight of the Rohingya -- a group the United Nations calls one of the world's most persecuted minorities. We also heard from critics of Aung San Suu Kyi who said she should be doing more to speak out in defence of the Rohingya. In recent weeks, there have been fresh outbreaks of sectarian violence between Rohingya Muslims and Buddhist Burmese in the northwestern Rakhine state.

Now, Doctors Without Borders, or Medecins Sans Frontiers, is concerned its teams there are no longer able to access everyone who needs help. Steven Cornish is the Executive Director of MSF Canada and he joined us in our Toronto studio.

Home for Colored Children: Another story to update is our coverage of the Nova Scotia's Home for Colored Children and the shocking stories of former residents of alleged physical and sexual abuse they say they were subject to while at the orphanage. Well over 100 people are now involved in legal action, including a proposed class action suit against the institution and the provincial government.

The Current aired the story on November 7th. Since then, 30 more former residents have come forward. Also, former residents have launched an online petition demanding an inquiry. And now, the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children says it would support a government inquiry. We aired a clip from Sylvia Paris, the chair of the board that oversees the home.

Rimsha Masih Update: One final update. On Tuesday the Islamabad High Court in Pakistan threw out a blasphemy case against a 14 year old Christian girl who was charged with burning pages from the Koran this past summer. The case against Rimsha Masih received international attention over concern for the rights of religious minorities in Pakistan and we covered it here on The Current. According to her lawyer, the case was dropped because there were no witnesses to the alleged crime.

10th Anniversary Show: We started this segment with a little taste of our celebration on Monday of ten years of The Current. Anna Maria Tremonti hosted the program in front of a live audience at Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto and afterwards, we were deluged with congratulatory messages. We were touched by the size of the response on Twitter, Facebook and in our inbox.

Mary Wildridge of Toronto sent us this:

When I first listened to the program years ago, I remember thinking Anna Maria was pretty bold with some of her interviewees. I felt somewhat uncomfortable. But it didn't take long before I realized how remarkable she is. I became a regular listener to the program, loath to miss a day.

Here's another email from Margaret Sinclair of Hornby Island, British Columbia. She writes:

I felt so proud of the guests you had on your anniversary show. All spoke with stunning clarity and bravery about issues that mean a great deal. They did not mince words!
Programs such as The Current give me hope that we are not hopelessly lost. You rock Anna Maria!

And Steve Martens of Elbow, Saskatchewan sent us this:

I haven't always agreed with a the approach The Current has taken on some issues, however I have always agreed with the tough questions.

Jane Minett attended the live broadcast and she writes from Toronto:

I really only know Anna Maria by voice, so it was fun to put a face to that voice. Here's to the next 10 years!

The tables were turned on Anna Maria that day, as she was interviewed by the fifth estate's Linden McIntyre. She recounted stories from her early days and then we heard from Kelly Osgood, who sent this story from Calgary:

In 1978 I was in Grade 6, living in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. I remember someone from CKEC Radio visiting and talking about radio. I asked why there weren't any women on the radio. I was told because women don't like to listen to women on the radio.
Sometime within that year, CKEC hired its first woman. I remember the first time I heard her, I said to my mom, "I guess they changed their mind." Ten years ago, when The Current first aired, I had a feeling I had heard Anna Maria before, somewhere really long ago. When I heard her mention New Glasgow, cobwebs shook from my brain. I remembered that single female voice on the radio. In my young life, that was important.

It's not often we're left with a warm glow, after reading our mail! ... so many thanks to all who wrote in and shared in our birthday celebration.

We also celebrated the 10th Anniversary with the launch of It's an interactive timeline and showcase of many of our best feature interviews of the last decade, sharing with you some of what it took to get them and what happened behind the scenes.

It's an ongoing project and we want your feedback. Be sure to let us know if we missed a favourite interview you believe should be showcased on the site. We want to know what you remember as the most memorable stories The Current has ever aired.

Contact us. We have lots of ways to stay in touch. Call us toll free at 1 877 287 7366. Our Facebook page is Or tweet us @thecurrentcbc. And you can email us from our website.

This segment was produced by The Current's Shannon Higgins and Carole Ito.

Other segment from today's show:

Montreal's new interim Mayor, Michael Applebaum

Rebel takeover of Goma, DR of Congo