January 12, 2010

Pt 1: Senate Reform - Well, you've got to hand it to Stephen Harper , he certainly has been consistent. Reforming the Senate has been on his agenda for decades now ... going all the way back to his roots in the Reform Party. And now, it's front and center as a result of the suspension of Parliament.

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Pt 2: Yemen - Ever since the failed Christmas Day attack on a U.S.-bound airplane, Yemen has been called most every name in the counter-terrorism lexicon. Terrorist safe haven. Key battleground against extremism. The next front in the war on terror.

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Pt 3: Women's Studies - Forty years ago, there was a revolution on university campuses across North America. No longer content to accept the status quo as defined by male professors, women created a new field of study ... one centred on their own experiences and perspectives.

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It's Tuesday, January 12th.

Michael Ignatieff says Stephen Harper is an "arrogant leader" who "shuts down" anyone who stands up to his power.

Currently, Ignatieff says he plans to continue biding his time until that changes.

This is The Current.

Senate Reform - Panel

Well, you've got to hand it to Stephen Harper , he certainly has been consistent. Reforming the Senate has been on his agenda for decades now ... going all the way back to his roots in the Reform Party. And now, it's front and center as a result of the suspension of Parliament.

Among other things, proroguing Parliament gives the Prime Minister a chance to appoint new Senators. He says he'll appoint five new Conservative Senators "in the not too distant future." That would give the Conservatives a plurality in the Senate. And that would set the stage for what Prime Minister Harper says will be one of his first orders of business when Parliament returns in March ... reforming the Senate and getting rid of the current appointment system.

For their thoughts on the Prime Minister's plan, we were joined by two Senators. James Cowan is the Liberal's leader in the upper chamber. He was appointed by Paul Martin in 2005 and he was in Halifax. And Bert Brown was chosen in a special Senate election in Alberta and then appointed by Prime Minister Harper in 2007 to sit as a Conservative Senator. He's only the second person in Canadian history to get a Senate appointment this way. He was in Tucson, Arizona.

Senate Reform - Content Factory

We gave the last word on the Senate to our friends at the CBC's Content Factory because though some like to ruminate on a reformed Senate, others like to partake in the age-old Canadian ritual of - ridiculing it. The Content Factory created a handy dandy check-list on how to tell if you're a Senator.

Creative Commons music was used for this item. The song is called Sock Hop by Kevin MacLeod.


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Yemen - Ambassador

Ever since the failed Christmas Day attack on a U.S.-bound airplane, Yemen has been called most every name in the counter-terrorism lexicon. Terrorist safe haven. Key battleground against extremism. The next front in the war on terror.

Yemen is also a fledgling democracy ... as well as the poorest country in the Arabian Peninsula and a major partner for Canadian oil interests. For all of those reasons, Yemen has been calling on western countries -- including Canada -- to boost foreign aid and improve diplomatic and commercial ties. Some security analysts say that could be dangerous, given the political situation in Yemen.

But Khaled Bahah says it's the best way to stop the growth of extremism. He is Yemen's Ambassador to Canada and he was in Ottawa.

Yemen - Aid Debate

People who track Yemen's emergence as a centre for extremist groups say it's going to take more than money to mount a successful counter-terrorism strategy. We were joined by two people who are watching development in Yemen very closely. Fawaz Gerges teaches Middle Eastern politics and international relations at the London School of Economics. He is also the author of several books, including The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global. He was in London, England. Barbara Bodine is a former US Ambassador to Yemen and now a lecturer at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton. She was in Washington, D.C.


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Women's Studies

Forty years ago, there was a revolution on university campuses across North America. No longer content to accept the status quo as defined by male professors, women created a new field of study ... one centred on their own experiences and perspectives.

In the United States, San Diego State University became the first to establish a women's studies program in 1970. Canadian universities and colleges quickly followed suit. And today, the field stretches everywhere from China to India to Uganda. But at the same time, the field is under-going a major shift. Women's studies departments from Harvard to Queen's are being renamed as "gender", "equality" or "sexuality" studies or in some cases all of them.

The Women's Studies Department at Simon Fraser University is in the process of changing its name to The Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies. We heard from Catherine Murray, the department's chair.

Women's studies departments were an early part of the women's liberation movement. And the name change has sparked a debate about the state of that movement, as well as what its goals should be. For their thoughts on those questions, we were joined by two women. Catherine Porter is a columnist with The Toronto Star. She was in Toronto. And Barbara Kay writes a column for The National Post. She was in Montreal.

Last Word - McLachlin Anniversary

It was 10 years ago today that Beverley McLachlin became the first woman to be named Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. We asked Patrick Monahan -- a constitutional law expert who is now the Provost of York University -- to give us his thoughts on what the court has accomplished under Chief Justice McLachlin's leadership. We gave him the last word.


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