Wednesday, February 4, 2009 | Categories: Episodes
It's Wednesday, February 4th.
Mercedes-Benz Canada says it delivered more cars last month than any previous January on record.
Currently ... The introduction of the "Shadenfreude M-Class Coupe" was a big help.
This is The Current.
Just two weeks ago, the 800-Billion-dollar-plus U.S. stimulus package was going to be our salvation ... the macro-economic wave that Canadians could ride all the way to prosperity or at least something a little less dire.
Then last week, the United States House of Representatives introduced a "Buy American" provision into its version of the stimulus bill. The bill passed by the House specifies that all public works projects funded by the stimulus package must be built with U.S.-made iron and steel. The version being considered by the U.S. Senate goes even further.
And that has politicians, economists and businesspeople across Canada running scared. Now it's worth remembering that this isn't the first time we've faced a protectionist impulse from south of the border.
Back in 1967, at least some Canadians were pushing a "fight fire with fire" approach and urging us all to "Shop Canadian." It's an ad we found in the CBC archives. That aired in 1967 on CBC Television. That was 42 years ago - but its an idea that seems to be gaining steam today. We aired what NDP leader Jack Layton proposed during Question Period yesterday.
Well, Ken Lewenza thinks the idea of "Buying Canadian" is one worth reclaiming. He's the President of the Canadian Auto Workers Union and he was in our Toronto studio. Alice Nakamura is a Professor of Business at the University of Alberta and she was in our Edmonton studio.
Can Music Save Cuba
Yesterday on The Current, we took a trip through Havana's thriving underground music scene and met the members of a punk band called Porno Para Ricardo. The group has been banned from even practicing in Cuba. And its leader -- Gorki Aguila -- thrown in jail for daring to take on the government.
This morning, we went back to Cuba but to the opposite end of the island. Like Havana, Holguin has a thriving music scene but one that took a huge hit last fall when Hurricane Ike battered the city and the entire province around it. The CBC's Loreen Pindera has traveled to Holguin and she was in our Montreal studio. Her documentary is called 'Feeding the Cuban Soul'.
If you're interested in learning more about donating instruments to needy Cuban musicians through Vic Vogel, you can email him at email@example.com.
Pope & Vatican II
It was exactly two weeks ago today that an interview with Bishop Richard Williamson aired on Swedish television. And in the course of just a few minutes... he unleashed an unholy uproar that is getting louder by the week. We aired some of what he said in that interview.
In that interview Bishop Richard Williamson neglected to mention that the Leuchter report to which he referred to was done on behalf of convicted Holocaust denier and Neo-Nazi, Ernst Zundel. Bishop Williamson was excommunicated from the Catholic Church 20 years ago but not for Holocaust denial.
Just three days after those comments were broadcast, Pope Benedict the 16th lifted his excommunication as well as the excommunications of three other bishops. All of them follow the teachings of the now deceased Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the man who led the conservative revolt against the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.
Among other things, Vatican Two, as it's called, stated that Jews were not to blame for the death of Jesus Christ and condemned all forms of anti-Semitism. Vatican officials insist that lifting the excommunications does not mean the Pope endorses Bishop Williamson's views about the Holocaust. But a growing number of world leaders are speaking out on the issue including German Chancellor Angela Merkel who yesterday challenged the Pope on his decision.
For their thoughts on the Pope's decision and the controversy around it, we gathered three well-known Catholic writers. Father Tom Reese is a fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University and he was in Washington. Ted Schmidt is the Editor of The New Catholic Times. He's also the author of Journeys to the Heart of Catholicism and he was in Toronto. And James Carroll is the author of the upcoming book Practicing Catholic and Constantine's Sword, the Church and the Jews: A History. He was in Boston.
Last Word - Vocal Sampling
But before we go ... we heard a documentary today about efforts by the Montreal-based musician Vic Vogel to take donated musical instruments to Cuba. The need for instruments there is huge thanks to the devastation caused by last year's hurricane season.
But one group that has been doing just fine despite all that is "Vocal Sampling" ... an all-male Cuban acapella group. And we ended the program this morning with the group's biggest hit outside Cuba to date ... a version of The Eagles' 1977 hit "Hotel California".