October 26, 2009

Pt 1: General Rick Hillier - General Rick Hillier calls it one of the more idiotic decisions ever made by the Canadian forces. In the mid 1990s, the Canadian military sold its heavy-lifting Chinook helicopters to the Netherlands. The decision came after years of funding cutbacks and infighting between top army and air force officials over who should pay for the helicopters.

Download Flash Player to view this content.


Pt 2: H1N1 Vaccine Fears - We started this segment with some advice from Rick Mercer. Although according to public health officials, what we should really be doing is getting vaccinated for the H1N1 flu virus. They've been making the case for vaccinations as often, as clearly, and as loudly as they can. But a couple of weeks ago, when reporters asked him if he planned to get the vaccine, Prime Minister Stephen Harper sounded almost as confused as Rick Mercer.

Download Flash Player to view this content.


Pt 3: Lasers and Planes - We started this segment with helicopter pilot Spencer Harden. He was describing what it's like to be hit by a laser pointer... one that's been aimed by someone standing invisibly on the ground below. He's an American but pilots in Canada and around the world say they're also noticing a disturbing spike in the number of these kinds of incidents.

Download Flash Player to view this content.



It's Monday, October 26th.

Stephen Harper praised disgraced former cabinet minister Maxime Bernier on Friday while they were making infrastructure investments in Quebec.

Currently, there was no word on whether any stimulus was found in Julie Couillard's apartment.

This is the Current.


General Rick Hillier

General Rick Hillier calls it one of the more idiotic decisions ever made by the Canadian forces. In the mid 1990s, the Canadian military sold its heavy-lifting Chinook helicopters to the Netherlands. The decision came after years of funding cutbacks and infighting between top army and air force officials over who should pay for the helicopters.

Years later, General Hillier was forced to ask the Dutch military for a ride on those very same choppers so that he could visit Canada's forward operating bases in Afghanistan. The Canadian flag was almost visible underneath its Dutch insignia. It's one of many stories in General Hiller's new memoir that illustrate the obstacles his beloved Canadian Forces have had to overcome in order to be an effective fighting force in Afghanistan. The memoir is called A Soldier First: Bullets, Bureaucrats and the Politics of War. General Rick Hillier joined us in Toronto this morning.



 

H1N1 Vaccine Fears - Microbiologist

We started this segment with some advice from Rick Mercer. Although according to public health officials, what we should really be doing is getting vaccinated for the H1N1 flu virus. They've been making the case for vaccinations as often, as clearly, and as loudly as they can. But a couple of weeks ago, when reporters asked him if he planned to get the vaccine, Prime Minister Stephen Harper sounded almost as confused as Rick Mercer. We aired a clip.

Since then, the prime minister says he does indeed plan to get the vaccine. And according to a public opinion poll released on Friday, about half the country is with him. Fifty-one per cent of Canadians said they are very or somewhat likely to get the H1N1 flu vaccine. That's up considerably from earlier this month when only a third of Canadians said they planned to be vaccinated. But it's still not as high as public health officials would like.

On Friday, Canada officially entered the second wave of the H1N1 flu pandemic.
At last count, at least 1,541 people have been hospitalized in Canada because of H1N1. Eighty-six have died including a preteen girl from Cornwall, Ontario with no pre-existing medical condition. She was admitted to hospital and died Saturday.

Vaccination efforts have brought out a lot of anti-vaccine campaigners. Over the weekend, more than one hundred people paid 25-dollars-each to attend a sold-out event in Calgary called Vaccine Clarity, Get the Facts. Lectures were given by Mary Tocco and Andrew Moulden, two people who claim vaccines can cause neurological damage and auto-immune disorders. Media was not allowed into the lecture. But The Current's Pamela Aramburu managed to speak briefly to Doctor Andrew Moulden and we aired part of what he told her. We also shared some thoughts from people at the event.

Glen Armstrong isn't buying those arguments. He is concerned about the effect they might be having. He's the head of the Department of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases at the University of Calgary.

H1N1 Vaccine Factoboard

And in the interests of clear information ... here are a few things worth noting.

Health Canada says there have been no shortcuts taken in the approval process for the H1N1 flu vaccine.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, without interventions such as a vaccine and antiviral medication, between 25 and 35 per cent of the Canadian population could become ill over a period of a few months.

People who have the flu shed the virus and can infect others from one day before getting sick, to up to seven days after.

In Canada, serious side-effects from the regular, seasonal flu vaccine occur rarely ... about once in every one million shots.

If you're pregnant, health officials say, the risk of getting swine flu and developing a complication in your pregnancy outweighs any theoretical risk from an adjuvanted vaccine.

Of the people who get the H1N1 virus, about 1 in 1,000 will become gravely ill and have to be hospitalized. Out of those, one in five will die.

The chances of developing Guillain-Barré syndrome from the seasonal flu vaccine are low. According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, approximately one additional person out of every one million vaccinated may be at risk for that.

H1N1 Vaccine Fears - Psychologist

The fact that Canadians are struggling with the decision over the H1N1 flu vaccine won't come as a surprise to Leora Swartzman. She's a Professor of Psychology at the University of Western Ontario. Among other things, she specializes in clinical health psychology. She was in London, Ontario.



 

Lasers and Planes - Pilot

We started this segment with helicopter pilot Spencer Harden. He was describing what it's like to be hit by a laser pointer... one that's been aimed by someone standing invisibly on the ground below. He's an American but pilots in Canada and around the world say they're also noticing a disturbing spike in the number of these kinds of incidents.

In fact, later this week... a man from Lacombe, Alberta will appear in court on charges connected to an incident over the summer, in which a laser was allegedly pointed at an Edmonton Police helicopter. The case is one the first of its kind to go to court in Canada. So while the courts don't face many of these incidents - - pilots say they do.

Kevin Medcroft has been on the receiving end of a laser pointer more than once. He's a commercial pilot and he was in Yorkshire, England.

According to the U.K.'s Civil Aviation Authority, the number of incidents of lasers being shone into aircraft is increasing exponentially. The authority reported 28 incidents in 2007 ... 200 in 2008 ... and it has reported more than 460 so far this year. And it's happening here in Canada too.

Lasers and Planes - Air Canada Pilots Association

We aired a sample of accounts of incidents involving laser pointers as they have been logged in Transport Canada's Civil Aviation Daily Occurrence Report System. There have been more than 110 incidents reported in Canada in the last year including two last week, one near Hamilton and one in Calgary. That's roughly 5 times the number of incidents reported 2 years ago.

Captain Barry Wisznioski is a pilot who flies with Air Canada. He's also the chair of the Technical and Safety Division of the Air Canada Pilots Association. He was in Toronto. And Steve Liu is the CEO of Wicked Lasers. He was in Hong Kong.

We did ask Transport Canada to do an interview with us but they declined.

Last Word - 350

We gave the last word today to a number. Saturday was the International Day of Climate Action. Thousands of events took place all over the world, including more than 250 in Canada. The day was organized by the group 350.org. The number 350 refers to 350 parts per million. Climate scientists believe that's the highest concentration of carbon dioxide we can have in the atmosphere and still expect to avert catastrophic climate change. The problem is that we're already at 390 parts per million. We ended the program with an exchange between Senator John Kerry and Al Gore from last January about the significance of the number 350.



Comments are closed.