January 23, 2009

Pt 1: Defending Khadr - Yesterday, U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order calling for the closure of the United States Military Prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba within one year. The order also says that the U.S. will -- quote -- "seek international cooperation aimed at achieving the transfers of detainees." -- unquote. And that means that Omar Khadr -- the only Canadian being held there -- may be coming home.

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Pt 2: Pipeline Bombings - First came the bombs. Then came the bounty. And now the tension is rising as neighbours are pitted against each other in the small community of Tomslake in northern British Columbia.

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Pt 3: Bill Chu Feature - We started this segment with the sound from last year's Chinese New Year's celebrations in Vancouver.

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Today's guest host was Sheila Coles in Regina.

It's Friday, January 23rd.

Microsoft is laying off 5,000 workers in the wake of declining sales.

Currently, Microsoft executives promise to make the company more profitable by rolling out new cutting-edge technology ... beginning with the mPod and mPhone.

This is the Current.


Defending Khadr - Lawyer

Yesterday, U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order calling for the closure of the United States Military Prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba within one year. The order also says that the U.S. will -- quote -- "seek international cooperation aimed at achieving the transfers of detainees." -- unquote. And that means that Omar Khadr -- the only Canadian being held there -- may be coming home.

Omar Khadr is now 22. He's the youngest prisoner in Guantanamo. He was captured in Afghanistan when he was 15, after a fire-fight with U. S. forces. The U.S. accuses him of killing an American medic. He's facing five war crimes charges ... charges that have been dropped and then reinstated three times. He has undergone hundreds of hours of interrogation. He says he was tortured.

Until yesterday, the Canadian government's position has been that it would not try to bring Omar Khadr back to Canada as long as there was an on-going legal process in the United States. But now, President Obama may have inadvertently forced Ottawa's hand.

We aired a clip of how Defence Minister Peter MacKay responded to questions about the issue on Wednesday, right after President Obama announced a 120-day suspension of the trials at Guantanamo.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Chief Spokesman says the government's position has not changed and that the government will simply wait to see what happens in Washington. But Omar Khadr's lawyers have sensed an opportunity in all of this. Nate Whitling is one of the lawyers representing Omar Khadr and he was in Edmonton.


Defending Khadr - Professor

Many legal experts say that winning a case that would compel the Canadian Government to intervene on Omar Khadr's behalf is hardly a sure-thing.

Ed Morgan is a Professor at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Law. He specializes in Constitutional Law and he was in our Toronto studio.

The office of Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon declined our request for an interview.

 

Pipeline Bombings

First came the bombs. Then came the bounty. And now the tension is rising as neighbours are pitted against each other in the small community of Tomslake in northern British Columbia.

In the last three months, four bombs have hit Encana's oil and gas facilities around the community. Police are investigating. But Encana -- Canada's largest producer of natural gas -- has offered up half-a-million dollars for information leading to the conviction of the bomber or bombers.

The CBC's Erin Collins was in Tomslake this past week and he joined us from our studio in Calgary.

 

Bill Chu Feature

We started this segment with the sound from last year's Chinese New Year's celebrations in Vancouver.

In a little over a week, Bill Chu will be marching in this year's Chinese New Year's Parade. And marching beside him will be several members of Vancouver's First Nations communities ... friends of his with whom he's formed a close bond based on two painful histories.

Bill Chu came to Canada as an immigrant from China in 1974. He connected with Vancouver's native communities by chance. But that connection helped him in a cause he cares deeply and passionately about getting proper recognition for the contributions that Chinese and Chinese-Canadians have made in building British Columbia. It even led him to the bones of long-dead Chinese British Columbians. He's fighting to protect those historic sites now. And he's also fighting alongside British Columbia's First Nations to have their own history properly respected.

Bill Chu is a founder of Canadians for Reconciliation and he was in Vancouver.


Last Word - Aretha

And speaking of the Canadian economy. The Conservative Government is expected to run a 64-Billion-dollar deficit over the next two years. It's quite a departure from Stephen Harper's former fierce phobia of deficit-spending. But then again, these are hardly ordinary times. So maybe -- is it possible that James Brown was wrong when he wrote "Money Won't Change You?" Hmm. How about we defer judgment on that one and give Aretha Franklin the last word.


Music

Artist: Aretha Franklin
Cd: "Lady Soul"
Cut: CD 7, "Money Won't Change You"
Label: Rhino
Spine: R2 71933

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