It's Wednesday December 2nd.
Children all over North America saw Barack Obama's speech on Afghanistan last night instead of the previously scheduled showing of a Charlie Brown Christmas.
Currently, Here's what Afghans heard: (insert sfx of teacher talking from Charlie Brown)
This is The Current.
Afghan Strategy - Haroun Mir
After three months of waiting, U.S. President Barack Obama is moving ahead with an ambitious new strategy in Afghanistan. His plan would put 30,000 more U.S. troops in Afghanistan by next summer and start bringing them home a year after that. The idea is that the surge in U.S. troops -- along with a renewed diplomatic push in Pakistan -- will push back the Taliban and set the stage for a peaceful and democratic future for Afghanistan.
Like many people, Haroun Mir has mixed feelings about that plan. He is the Director of Afghanistan's Center for Research and Policy Studies. He was in Kabul.
Afghan Strategy - John Bolton
John Bolton is the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. He has been calling for a more decisive plan in Afghanistan for some time now. He was in London, England this morning.
Afghan Strategy - Patricia Degennaro
But according to Patricia DeGennaro, even thirty-thousand more pairs of boots on the ground won't solve Afghanistan's most fundamental problems. She is a Senior Fellow at the World Policy Institute. She also teaches international security and U.S. Foreign Policy at New York University in New York City.
Cheryl Baker says "as far as I'm concerned, the only power I have is as a Mom. That's all I have." Cheryl lives in North Vancouver, on the Squamish Reserve with her husband, Calvin Senior and their twenty-year-old son, Calvin Junior. Calvin Junior is severely disabled. And there is a crack in the system that's big enough for him to fall through. Our Vancouver producer Yvonne Gall joined us to explain.
Cd: Milk of Human Kindness
Cut: 10, Pelican Narrows
Spine: DNO 050
A Moment in Time - Doc Promo
This coming Sunday marks the 20th anniversary of the Montreal massacre. It was Dec 6th, 1989 when Marc Lepine walked into Montreal's L'Ecole Polytechnique ... and opened fire, killing 14 women.
Freelancer writer Susan McLelland has produced a documentary called A Moment in Time. We broadcast the full documentary on Friday and played an excerpt.
There has been some disturbing testimony this week at the House of Commons Transport Committee. It has centred around the safety of Canada's passenger airplanes. There have been stories of illegal refueling ... masking tape holding electrical cords in place and a shortage of airplane inspectors.
The people sounding the alarm point to a controversial change in aviation regulation in Canada. It's called Safety Management Systems or SMS. Under SMS, some of the responsibility for regulating safety is shifted from government agencies to the airlines. That means airlines conduct their own inspections and report the results to government agencies. It's a system that is praised by some in the industry around the world and one that was being defended at this weeks hearings in Ottawa. We heard from Marc Gregoire, the Assistant Deputy Minister of Transport followed by Martin Eley with Transport Canada.
Our next two guests take a very different view of SMS. Virgil Moshansky is a retired Alberta judge who headed the inquiry into one of Canada's worst aviation disasters, the crash of Air Ontario Flight 1363 in Dryden, Ontario in 1989. He was in Calgary. And Carlos DaCosta is a former airline mechanic who is now the Airline Coordinator for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers in Canada. He was in Toronto.
We requested interviews with Transport Canada and the transport minister John Baird. Neither was available to speak to us. Minister Baird's press secretary, Chris Day, wrote on the government's behalf, that Canadians can travel with confidence knowing that Canada's aviation system is among the safest in the world. Transport Canada chose to delay the implementation of small operator SMS due to timing concerns - not safety concerns. The additional time will also allow the Department to improve oversight tools and to provide more training to inspectors.
Despite the allegations of some, Transport Canada retains full responsibility for aviation safety oversight and takes enforcement action when necessary. Transport Canada has a range of enforcement tools available, from oral counselling, to monetary penalties, to certificate suspension.
Air Safety Regulation
This safety management system has created turbulence in other countries such as the United States and Australia. But according to Bill Voss, it's still a better system and it's likely safer than the alternatives. He's the President and CEO of the Flight Safety Foundation and he was in Washington.
Last Word - Maple Leaf Gardens
As you may have heard on the news, the future of Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens has finally been settled. Part of the building will be turned into a Loblaws. The rest will become an athletic centre for Ryerson University. There is a lot of history in that building, including sixty-eight years worth of hockey. And for many, that history is best captured by the voice of Foster Hewitt. He was the play-by-play announcer for the Toronto Maple Leafs for more than half-a-century. And he spent much of that time suspended several stories above centre-ice in the Gardens' legendary gondola. Foster Hewitt died in 1985. We gave him the last word this morning.