Thursday, April 23, 2009 | Categories: Episodes
It's Thursday, April 23rd.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is standing by his statement that Israel is a racist state and says his critics are blowing things out of proportion and deliberately taking him out of context.
Currently, He blames the Jews.
This is The Current.
As you've been hearing in the news, after four very long months, Canadians Robert Fowler and Louis Guay are said to be safe, secure and ready to return to Canada. Both men were kidnapped in Niger on December 14th and disappeared without a trace.
Robert Fowler -- Canada's former Ambassador to the United Nations -- was acting as the U.N. Secretary General's Special Envoy in Niger. Louis Guay was working as Robert Fowler's assistant. An organization called Al-Qaida in The Islamic Maghreb is said to be behind their almost 19 week ordeal.
Louise Frechette is a longtime friend and colleague of Robert Fowler. She is the former United Nations Deputy Secretary General. She is now a distinguished fellow at the Centre for International Governance and Innovation and she was in Montreal.
Anne Deluce is a friend of Louis Guay and she spoke to us in Toronto.
The group that claimed responsibility for taking Robert Fowler and Louis Guay hostage is called Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or the AQIM. Its fighters are hardcore - going back to the 90's in Algeria when Islamic extremists were fighting the government, killing civilians sometimes massacring whole villages.
J. Peter Pham has been monitoring them. He's the Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University. He is a specialist in security issues in Africa and the author of a new report called "Al-Qaeda in The Islamic Maghreb: An Evolving Challenge in the War on Terror." Doctor J. Peter Pham was in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
Tax Mistake - Couple
For 13 years now, Irvin Leroux has gone back and forth with the Canadian Government in a bitter fight over his taxes. The Canada Revenue Agency insisted he owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes. Irvin Leroux disagreed. So he fought ...and fought. But as the battle continued, his bill got bigger, climbing to one-million-dollars in back taxes, penalties and interest.
The story begins back in 1992. Mr. Leroux developed some land he owned in Valemount, British Columbia. He removed trees, sold the timber ... created lots for a subdivision and built an R-V park. The plan was that the business would support him and his wife, Jill Moore, in their retirement.
But the couple's never-ending fight over taxes ruined those plans. And even though the Canada Revenue Agency eventually admitted it made a mistake, the battle isn't over. Irvin Leroux and Jill Moore joined Anna Maria from Vancouver.
Tax Mistake - Reporter (cont'd)
In our last half-hour, we spoke to Irvin Leroux and his wife Jill Moore. They walked us through the last 13 years of their life and their battle with the Canada Revenue Agency. It began with an audit in 1996 that found that Mr. Leroux owed $50,000 dollars. Five more audits and ten years later, the bill stood at a million dollars.
Eventually, the Canada Revenue Agency admitted it had made a mistake. But in the process, Mr. Leroux lost his business, his home and his savings. He and his wife are still fighting for compensation.
The CBC's Kathy Tomlinson has been investigating the couple's story and she was in Vancouver.
Thursday is mail day on The Current and our Friday host, Nancy Wilson joined Anna Maria in studio to help read some of your letters.
Durban 2 - The United Nations anti-racism conference wraps up tomorrow in Geneva. But even before the conference began, it was stoking controversy. Several counties including the Canadian government, with the United States, boycotted the conference. Both said it gives voice to anti-Semitism and racism. This segment set off it's own firestorm in the mailbag.
LTTE: The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam have been fighting in Sri Lanka for nearly thirty years. But now, the Tamil Tigers are surrounded, in a small strip of land on the northeast coast of the country... along with about fifty thousand civilians. There are reports that civilians are being killed in large numbers.
Yesterday we heard from a number of people with a variety of views on the conflict including Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, a spokesperson for the Sri Lankan military. And last Friday we heard from Professor Cheran regarding the conflict. He's a professor of sociology and anthropology at the University of Windsor. And after those items aired, we heard from you.
After we got off the air yesterday we kept calling and calling to try to reach someone in the crucial no-fire zone where the LTTE has shrinking control. Eventually we got someone to pick up the phone in a makeshift hospital in a place called Mullaitivu in the no-fire zone. The phone was passed around a bit until Dr. Thangamuthu Sathiyanoorthy came on the line. We aired our conversation.
Because there are no international reporters and there are no independant aid workers permitted in the area, it's not possible for us to verify independently some of his statements.
Afghan Women Law: More than three hundred women gathered to oppose a new law limiting the rights of women. Among the restrictions, the law forbids women to refuse sex with their husbands. Last Thursday on program, we spoke to two women, deeply invested in the conflict. Nelofer Pazira is an Afghan Canadian journalist, currently working in Afghanistan on a film. Irshad Manji is the director of the Moral Courage project, a global leadership project with New York University. This segment prompted some letters in our inbox.
Susan Boyle: It's likely you've come across the latest sensation from the British television show, "Britain's Got Talent." In just over two weeks, Susan Boyle has become a household name. Her video on Youtube received nearly one hundred million views in its first nine days online. And she's been appearing on many major television programs. Our discussion on Ms. Boyle filled up our mailbag. We shared a few thoughts.
Last Word - Jacob Zuma
Stay with us on CBC Radio One. Q is next. And later today on The Point, host Aamer Haleem is looking at the way YouTube can ruin corporate reputations. The Point is at 2 o'clock -- 2:30 in Newfoundland and parts of Labrador. And during the hockey playoffs, you can still find The National at 9 o'clock and 10 o'clock on CBC Newsworld.
We ended today's program with a word from the man expected to be South Africa's President by the end of the day. Early results put the ANC's Jacob Zuma well ahead of his rivals. To many, Mr. Zuma is an inspiration ... To others, he is a man of questionable integrity who holds disturbing views about women.
We aired an excerpt of an interview Mr. Zuma gave two years ago, to a documentary maker, Owen Shahadah who was trying to make a film about Kwa Mashu, South Africa's oldest township. And Jacob Zuma mused about what the African diaspora could be doing for Africa.