Tuesday, June 9, 2009 | Categories: Episodes
It's Tuesday, June 9th.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has successfully fought off a challenge to his leadership of the British Labour Party.
Currently ... and yet somehow, "Congratulations" just seems like the wrong sentiment.
This is the Current.
MacDonnell Tape - Steven Maher
Jasmine MacDonnell is having a very bad month. First she had to resign her post as Communications Director for Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt after it was revealed that she left secret government documents at a television newsroom.
Then, yesterday, it came out that the former assistant was in court - trying to avert another scandal.
A recording of a private conversation she had with her former boss - Minister Raitt - had ended up on the desk of a newspaper reporter. And Ms. MacDonnell wanted a court injunction to stop the Halifax Chronicle Herald from making that audio tape - public.
But last evening - she lost the fight - and within minutes of the judges' ruling that the paper was free to release the tape... it did. just that. We aired some of the conversation it put on its' website... it's of Ms. MacDonnell and Minister Raitt in a car discussing the Health Ministry's response to Canada's isotope crisis.
The full recording runs five hours and sixteen minutes and it was actually recorded more than four months ago, on January 30th. Soon after that, the tape ended up at The Chronicle Herald's Ottawa desk where it sat without being listened to, until Jasmine MacDonnell resigned last week. Stephen Maher is the reporter who found the recording and broke the story. He's the Ottawa Bureau Chief for the Halifax Chronicle Herald and he was in Halifax.
MacDonnell Tape - Kory Teneycke
For a government response to this, we were joined by Kory Teneycke. He's the Director of Communications in the Prime Minister's Office. And he was in Ottawa.
MacDonnell Tape - Kady O'Malley
Now it's no stretch to imagine this audio tape may have come up during a certain garden party in Ottawa last night. Kady O'Malley is the Ottawa Correspondent for Macleans' Magazine's web site, Macleans.ca. She writes a blog called, Inside the Queensway. And she just happened to have an invitation for that said party - at Stornoway, the residence of the leader of the official opposition. Kady O'Malley was in Ottawa.
Whither Labour - Reporter
Gordon Brown has lived to fight another day. Yesterday, at a closed-door meeting of the Labour Party's caucus, the British Prime Minister faced down his challengers and quelled an insurrection ... at least for now. He managed that despite a steady stream of cabinet resignations, his party's dismal results in the European Union elections as well as the enduring public anger over the expenses scandal.
But that doesn't mean he's out of the woods yet. His critics inside the Labour Party say he is "on probation." And he will have to call an election within a year ... an election the opposition Conservatives appear poised to win.
Ann MacMillan has been watching this all unfold. She is a managing editor with CBC Newsworld and she was in London, England.
Whither Labour Panel
Even though Prime Minster Gordon Brown dodged a sizable bullet yesterday, there is still a sense that the once-mighty British Labour Party might be in some real trouble.
For their thoughts on the party's future, we were joined by three people. Nick Cohen is a columnist with the Observer newspaper and the author of What's Left: How Liberals Lost Their Way. He's in London. Neil Hamilton is a former Conservative MP who was caught-up in his own scandal in the late 1990s. He's at his home in Wiltshire County. And James Siddelley is a member of the Labour Party's North West Regional Board, as well as the treasurer of the Hazel Grove constituency in Greater Manchester. He was in Bradford.
Joe Schlesinger was in Russia with Richard Nixon. He was in China when ping-pong diplomacy opened the Forbidden City. He was in Tehran when the Shah fled ... and in St. Peter's Square when John Paul the Second became Pope. He's covered conflicts from Vietnam to the Persian Gulf and Prime Ministers from Pierre Trudeau to Jean Chretien. Officially, Joe Schlesinger retired from the CBC 15 years ago after 28 years as a foreign correspondent, host and producer. But he has never stopped reporting.
If you've seen and heard Joe Schlesinger's reports over the years, you'll know that what sets him apart is his story-telling ... the way he finds what he likes to call "the heartbeat" of a story. Here's one of our favourite examples. In March, 1991, Joe was covering the end of the first Gulf War ... specifically the highway between Kuwait and Iraq where retreating Iraqi soldiers had been bombed by American forces. It became known as "The Highway of Death." We aired a clip of Joe Schlesinger's report.
Joe Schlesinger has been a foreign correspondent, host and producer with the CBC since 1966. Tonight, he'll be receiving a lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Journalism Foundation. And Joe Schlesinger was in our Toronto studio.
Last Word - Schlesinger
And we gave the last word today to Joe Schlesinger. In November, he was back in Slovakia to watch as Queen Elizabeth paid tribute to the country and to Nicholas Winton, the man who saved him and 668 other children from the Nazis. We ended the program with part of his report.