Today's guest host was Bob McKeown
It's Friday, May 15th.
The Conservative Party is running attack ads suggesting that Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is an opportunistic elitist who speaks French with a Parisian accent.
Currently, Mr. Ignatieff is said to be furious that Canada's Prime Minister can't tell a delicate Bourguignon lilt from Paris' pedestrian banality.
This is The Current.
Protests - Green
Last Sunday, thousands of Tamil Canadians walked onto the Gardiner Expressway in downtown Toronto -- shutting down one of the busiest highways in the country.
It was just one in a series of protests designed to attract attention to the bloody fighting in Sri Lanka. Many of the other demonstrations were carefully orchestrated to minimize the impact they would have on people's day-to-day lives. But they have nonetheless provoked a heated, sometimes angry and occasionally xenophobic response.
On-line forums, editorial pages and radio phone-in shows have all been flooded with commentary. Some called the action on the Gardiner "criminal stupidity." Others accuse the protesters of holding drivers hostage. Some go so far as to say that the protesting Tamil Canadians should just go back to "where they came from."
This morning, we're asking what the responses to these protests say about our tolerance for being inconvenienced by a political or social cause someone else believes important. Joe Fiorito is a columnist with the Toronto Star and he has been covering the demonstrations. We heard from him with his take on why some people have responded the way they have.
Lowell Green has been covering the demonstrations in Toronto and in Ottawa. He is a radio talk show host with CFRA 580 in Ottawa and he was in Ottawa.
Protests - Activist
There are, of course others with concerns about the sense of resentment that has emerged in response to these protests.
Caroline Egan has spent many years on the front-lines of demonstrations for women's rights and the trade union movement and she was in our Toronto studio.
Ever since he was 11 years old, Michael Jackson has been a certified pop music star. From his debut with the Jackson Five to the best-selling album of all time. Of course the years since then have been less thrilling for the King of Pop ... His bizarre and well-documented personal habits ... his brushes with the law including two new business-related lawsuits - filed just last week.
So in an attempt to reclaim his title and resurrect his career, Michael Jackson has been rehearsing for 50 already-sold-out shows in London, England this summer. He promises the shows will be bigger and better than anything we have seen before... he even plans to introduce a new dance move once the shows kick off in July.
To help us consider what Michael Jackson's enduring popularity says not only about him but about us and contemporary culture, we were joined by three guests this morning.
Katherine Monk is culture commentator for CanWest News and she was in Vancouver. Diane Dimond is an investigative journalist who has covered Michael Jackson since 1993. She's also the author of Be Careful Who You Love: Inside the Michael Jackson Case. And she's just outside New York City. And Bob Thompson is the Director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University and he was in Syracuse, New York.
Michael Jackson - Dance Move
Well, naturally when we had it confirmed that Michael Jackson was working on that new dance move - reputedly even more spectacular than the moon walk. We decided to assign the Current's dogged investigative team to the story.
And when we found out that Michael Jackson was working on a new dance move that is said to be even more spectacular than the moon walk, we decided to sic the Current's dogged investigative team on the story. That team, of course, comprises of one - Seymour Bernstein.
Afghan War Changing?
U.S. President Barack Obama came into office promising to get the United States out of a war it shouldn't be in Iraq and re-committed to one it should be be fightin in Afghanistan. But the man his administration has picked to lead the renewed Afghan campaign has had a recent career largely steeped in the Iraq war.
Earlier this week, President Obama's Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, announced that he was removing the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan and replacing him with General Stanley McChrystal. General McChrystal is an Iraq War veteran who ran a commando operation so secretive that for years, the Pentagon refused to admit it even existed. He is known for eating only one meal a day ... operating on just a few hours of sleep and running up to 16 kilometres to work and back every day. One former colleague said that the first thing that came to mind when he thought about General McChrystal is "no body fat."
If or when he's confirmed, Stanley McChrystal will oversee President Obama's new Afghanistan strategy including a plan to nearly double the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan in the months to come.
For a sense of how the change of command is being received by the military in Afghanistan, we were joined by Richard Blanchette. He is a Canadian Brigadier General and the spokesperson for ISAF, NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. He was in Kabul this morning.
Afghan War Changing? - Analysis
For some insight into General Stanley McChrystal's career and the approach he'll bring to the mission in Afghanistan, we were joined by Chuck Nash. He's a retired United States Navy Captain and now a military analyst and he was in Washington.
And Sunil Ram is a former Canadian Forces Soldier and Officer. He's also an international defense and military analyst and he was in Toronto.
Last Word - Michael Jackson
Earlier in the program, we heard about Michael Jackson's bid to resurrect his career with a string of 50 sold-out concerts at the O2 Arena in London, England. We also heard a few theories about why we're still so fascinated by his every move - on stage and off. So we ended the program today with a musical meditation in that vein. A song called Fan Letter To Michael Jackson by The Rheostatics.