November 05, 2009

Pt 1: Job Quality Erosion - There have been a lot of good news stories when it comes to Canada's job numbers lately. So you'd be forgiven for thinking that the economic crisis we've all been living through is easing or even over.

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Pt 2: Afghan Idol - We started with some sound of Afghan Star, a talent show produced in a war zone. It is a highly popular and somewhat unlikely hit across Afghanistan. Millions of fans gather around their TV sets for the show's grand finales ... eagerly anticipating the results and the possibility that talent might trump politics, gender and ethnic divisions. The story behind the show is now an award-winning documentary film.

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Pt 3: Letters - Time for our weekly look at the mail and our Friday host, Hana Gartner joined Anna Maria in studio to help read your letters.

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It's Thursday, November 5th.

Afghan Star - a television talent show modeled on American Idol - is being credited with breaking down ethnic barriers across Afghanistan and strengthening the country's democracy.

Currently, it works just like Canadian Idol ... Only in the end, the runner-up concedes to Hamid Karzai.

This is The Current.

Job Quality Erosion

There have been a lot of good news stories when it comes to Canada's job numbers lately. So you'd be forgiven for thinking that the economic crisis we've all been living through is easing or even over.

But according to to Benjamin Tal, there's another story underway. And it suggests that for many, the crisis is only just beginning to hit home. Benjamin Tal is a Senior Economist with CIBC and the author of the Canadian Employment Quality Index. He was in Toronto this morning as part of our on-going series Work In Progress.

Job Quality Erosion - Panel

For a lot of people, having to downgrade your employment expectations can be a humbling experience. We heard from Ron Jamieson.

Our next two guests spend their days trying to help people like Ron Jamieson. Alan Kearns is the Founder of CareerJoy, a national career coaching company. He was in Ottawa. And Laurell Ritchie is a National Representative for the Canadian Auto Workers. She also coordinates the union's actions and adjustment centres, which help laid-off workers find new jobs. She was in Toronto.

Afghan Idol

We started with some sound of Afghan Star, a talent show produced in a war zone. It is a highly popular and somewhat unlikely hit across Afghanistan. Millions of fans gather around their TV sets for the show's grand finales ... eagerly anticipating the results and the possibility that talent might trump politics, gender and ethnic divisions. The story behind the show is now an award-winning documentary film.

Last month, the film was chosen as Britain's entry for an Oscar in the category of Best Foreign Language film. The television show has been credited with breaking down ethnic barriers and encouraging democracy in Afghanistan. But it has its critics too. The Afghan Council of Scholars has called Afghan Star, immoral and un-Islamic.

Daoud Sediqi was the original host of Afghan Star. He's now a radio host with Voice of America and he was in Washington, DC.

Letters

Time for our weekly look at the mail and our Friday host, Hana Gartner joined Anna Maria in studio to help read your letters.

Nortel LTD Benefits: If you choose to pay into a long term disability insurance plan through your employer ... you do so for the comfort of knowing that you will be financially covered if the worst happens in the future. Such was the case for Nortel employees. But as the company declared bankruptcy, employees on long term disability discovered that benefits they thought were paid out by the insurance company that was dealing with them, Sunlife, were actually being paid by Nortel. Sunlife administered the plan, but Nortel was paying the benefits.

The confusion, frustration and fear now being felt by former Nortel employees is not unique in Canadian labour history. When the Eatons department chain declared bankruptcy in 1999, several hundred employees on long term disability found themselves in the same situation. Edward Palmer was one of those employees. He worked for Eatons from 1985 until 1999. And Edward Palmer was in Winnipeg.

Family Farms: The future of the family farm is pitted up against mega supermarket chains and factory farms. Yesterday on The Current, we visited a family farm in southeastern Ontario ... for a sense of how a family farm can survive in this day and age. We also spoke with Laurent Pellerin, president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture.

Robert Cox Update: We wanted to update you on a story we brought you a couple of months ago. Journalist Robert Cox risked his life covering Argentina's Dirty War ... a ruthless campaign from 1976-1983 by the country's military junta to root out subversives and suspected terrorists. Mr. Cox was the editor of the Buenos Aires Herald at the time, and his paper was a lone voice in Argentina reporting on what was happening to the estimated 30 thousand people targeted by the government.

This Tuesday, he was formally made an "Illustrious Citizen" of Buenos Aires, in recognition of his journalistic heroism and integrity.

Military Recruitment: The military calls them "information sessions" but some say they are much more aggressive than that. In Quebec, the Canadians Forces Recruitment Centre has been setting up kiosks in high schools and CEGEP campuses. A coalition of teachers' and students' unions is hoping to get that changed. Tuesday on The Current, we heard from both sides of the debate.

Shopkeeper: David Chen was simply a shopkeeper in Toronto's Chinatown ... trying to run his business. But when he and two of his employees caught a man who they thought shoplifted from the store ... they chased him down, tied him up and locked him in a truck till police arrived. David Chen has been charged with assault and unlawful confinement. Last week on The Current, we spoke with David Chen's lawyer, Peter Lindsay who recounted his client's version of events.

Gay in Uganda: Well, a proposed new anti-gay law in Uganda would make life for gays and lesbians increasingly treacherous. The bill proposes jail terms for people who don't immediatley report gays and lesbians to police. And it also would apply the death penalty for gay sex in some cases. Last Thursday on the program, we spoke to David Bahati, the Ugandan MP who tabled the bill.

Several listeners wanted to know what the Canadian government's position was on this proposed Bill, so we called the Department of Foreign Affairs and shared part of what the department sent us. It reads:

The promotion and protection of human rights is an integral part of Canadian foreign policy. Canada stands up for human rights and takes principled positions on important issues to ensure that freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
We are deeply concerned about the stigma and discrimination directed towards people based on their sexual orientation -- which undermines the integrity and dignity of those subjected to these abuses and as a consequence makes them vulnerable to more serious human rights violations. If adopted, a bill further criminalizing homosexuality would constitute a significant step backwards for the protection of human rights in Uganda
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Request Count: Two more requests brings our total to 17 for the season, with 14 denials. That's 3 for 17 ... the kind of batting average that gets you demoted.

Theme Music: Our theme music has its fans but here's an original one. J. H. Lime of Vancouver wrote us this week saying that his clock radio is set to turn on just when the show starts and the theme music is rather jarring ... "like french-kissing a light socket!!" so he did a rearrangement of the theme music complete with a Pink Panther finish and we ended on that note.

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