March 30, 2009

Pt 1: George Galloway - A judge will decide today whether controversial British MP George Galloway will continue to be barred from entering Canada. But that's not going to stop him from trying. Mr. Galloway wants to fly from New York to Canada later today, but the Canada Border Services Agency has ruled that he is a national security risk and is not to be permitted to enter the country. The agency based its ruling on Mr. Galloway's support for Hamas, the Palestinian political party and armed faction that the Canadian Government considers a terrorist group. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney refused to overturn the decision.

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Pt 2: Schreiber/Mulroney - We started this segment with some tape of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney speaking to the House of Commons Ethics Committee back in December 2007.

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Pt 3: Soil - We started this segment with E.E. Cummings' poem, In Just-spring. And across much of Canada, the world is indeed "mud-luscious" and "puddle-wonderful." Spring is in the air. And the ground has been transformed from frozen dirt to sticky, squishy mud. Bulbs are waking up in that soil. Roots are spreading and seeds are germinating, pushing their roots downwards and shooting tendrils up into the air.

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It's Monday, March 30th.

Controversial British MP George Galloway has filed a lawsuit challenging the Canadian government's decision to bar him from the country as a "politically motivated" attack on freedom of expression.

Currently ... Unfortunately for him, that's now perfectly legal in Canada. Who knew?

This is The Current.

George Galloway

A judge will decide today whether controversial British MP George Galloway will continue to be barred from entering Canada. But that's not going to stop him from trying. Mr. Galloway wants to fly from New York to Canada later today, but the Canada Border Services Agency has ruled that he is a national security risk and is not to be permitted to enter the country. The agency based its ruling on Mr. Galloway's support for Hamas, the Palestinian political party and armed faction that the Canadian Government considers a terrorist group. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney refused to overturn the decision.

And yesterday, Mr. Galloway's lawyers challenged it in Federal Court. Mr. Galloway will find out this afternoon if Justice Luc Martineau will grant him a temorary reprieve to enter Canada. We spoke to him earlier this morning from Washington, just before he caught a flight to New York and he addresssed the issue of Hamas - of going to Gaza with humanitarian aid and 45-thousand dollars worth of cash that he gave to Hamas officials.

George Galloway is a British MP and we spoke to him earlier this morning from Washington.

Galloway - Lawyer

We requested an interview with Jason Kenney, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. We were told that he is traveling and unavailable for an interview and that no one else from the department was available either. But last week, Jason Kenney did give an interview to CBC Television's Don Newman. We aired a bit of what he said.

Barbara Jackman is George Galloway's lawyer and someone who has represented numerous people who have been denied admission into Canada. She was in Toronto.

Galloway - Analyst

In its ruling, the Canada Border Services Agency invoked section 34 of the Immigration and Refugee Act. Among other things, that section lists the reasons that someone may be denied entry into Canada.

And for his thoughts on how that section should be interpreted, we were joined by Wesley Wark. He's a security expert at the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto. He was in Ottawa this morning.

 

Schreiber/Mulroney

We started this segment with some tape of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney speaking to the House of Commons Ethics Committee back in December 2007.

And it was the first time he had publicly acknowledged accepting cash from German businessman Karlheinz Schreiber. Mr. Schreiber is wanted in Germany on fraud and bribery charges. And ever since Mr. Mulroney made that statement, a lot of people have been waiting for a little clarity on their relationship.

Mr. Justice Jeffrey Oliphant begins presiding over a public inquiry into the relationship between Mr. Mulroney and Mr. Schreiber in Ottawa. To help bring us up to speed on the long-running saga that has been described as the Schreiber-Mulroney affair, we were joined by Harvey Cashore. He is a senior editor with CBC Televison's The Fifth Estate. He's produced several documentaries about Schreiber and Mulroney. He's also the co-author of The Last Amigo: Karlheinz Schreiber and the Anatomy of a Scandal. His forthcoming book is The Truth Shows Up.

Schreiber/Mulroney

Six years ago, William Kaplan broke the story about the cash payments made by Karlheinz Schreiber to Brian Mulroney. He is now the author of two related books ... Presumed Guilty: Brian Mulroney, the Airbus Affair and the Government of Canada and A Secret Trial: Brian Mulroney, Stevie Cameron and the Public Trust. William Kaplan was in Toronto.

Schreiber/Mulroney

Robin Sears is Brian Mulroney's spokesperson and he was in Ottawa.

 

Soil

We started this segment with E.E. Cummings' poem, In Just-spring. And across much of Canada, the world is indeed "mud-luscious" and "puddle-wonderful." Spring is in the air. And the ground has been transformed from frozen dirt to sticky, squishy mud. Bulbs are waking up in that soil. Roots are spreading and seeds are germinating, pushing their roots downwards and shooting tendrils up into the air.

But according to James Nardi, that's only one part of the story of healthy soil. And healthy soil is more important than you may realize. James Nardi is the author of Life in the Soil and The World Beneath our Feet. And we asked him to imagine himself in a forest near the University of Illinois where he teaches entomologyand then tell us what's going on underneath his feet.

Years ago, Charles Darwin estimated -- pretty accurately as it turned out -- that in England and Scotland alone, worms moved about 500 million tonnes of soil every year.

But if soil is the skin of the earth, we're shedding it much faster than nature can produce it. In the last 65 years, about 1.2 Billion hectares of farm land -- that's about the size of China and India combined -- have been degraded by soil erosion.And according to a new report, about 80 per cent of the agricultural land in Sub-Saharan Africa has been degraded by intensive farming and erosion.

David Montgomery thinks it's about time we stopped treating soil like dirt. He teaches geomorphology at the University of Washington. He's also the author of Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations and he was in Exeter, England.

Last Word - Digging in the Dirt

Stay with us on CBC Radio One. Q is next. And later today on The Point, host Aamer Haleem will be speaking with former Olympic gold-medal swimmer, Mark Tewksbury. The Point is at 2 o'clock -- 2:30 in Newfoundland and parts of Labrador. And, tonight at 10 o'clock on CBC Television, The National kicks off three nights of special coverage on the recession in the United States.

And we ended the program with one more thought about dirt ... one that's also about what you find when you go looking there. Peter Gabriel's song Digging in The Dirt from his 1992 album, Us.

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