Letters: Detox Jails, Rights & Democracy, Iran Executions

It's mail day. We find out what you've had to say about detox jails, what went wrong at the government-funded agency Rights and Democracy and we talk about what's behind the increase in executions in Iran.



Thursday is mail day. And The Current's Kathleen Goldhar joined guest host, Piya Chattopadhyay for a look at your letters.

Detox Jail: Last Thursday, Calgary Police Chief Rick Hanson presented a new idea for dealing with addicts who commit crimes. He wants a secure detox facility. And he outlined who might benefit from such a facility. That idea sparked a lot of interest in our mail and we shared some of those letters.

Despite public support for building some kind of secure detox facility, our next guest says we should treed carefully. Karen Urbanoski is a researcher at the Harvard Medical School. She has a Phd in Public Health. She was in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Rights & Democracy: Last week we brought you a story about a publicly funded, Canadian human rights agency called Rights and Democracy. Last January, the organization's president, Remy Beauregard died of a heart attack. He died after coming home from a contentious board meeting, and after months of turmoil within the organization.

The documentary focused on a number of key events behind the growing tensions inside the agency, including the performance appraisal of Mr. Beauregard from May of 2009. In a general board meeting, Remy Beauregard's performance met with approval but the evaluation sent to the Privy Council Office contained a different message. We aired a clip from Aurel Braun who is the chair of the board of Rights and Democracy and from former board member Payam Akhavan. Then we heard from our listeners with their added thoughts.

Since Remy Beauregard's death, there has been a great deal of public concern over the future of Rights and Democracy. And we wanted to take a few minutes to explore that issue. Aurel Braun argued in the documentary that serious problems within the organization pre-dated his arrival as chair of the board of directors and that there were big problems even before Mr. Beauregard's tenure as president. That sentiment is echoed by Terry Glavin. He's the senior researcher with the Canada-Afghanistan Solidarity Committee and a freelance journalist who writes a lot about human rights issues. We aired a clip.

According to David Matas -- a human rights lawyer who is currently serving his third term on the board of directors at Rights and Democracy -- those problems are rooted in confusion over what kind of organization Rights and Democracy is supposed to be. It's something, he says, that has been a problem since the agency was founded by the Brian Mulroney government in 1988. He says the board grappled with the issue during his first term in the late 1990s and that one of the central questions was whether Rights and Democracy is a supporter and founder of non-governmental organizations, or an NGO itself. We aired a clip.

But Paul Wells sees the situation differently. He's a senior columnist with Maclean's magazine. He has followed the Rights and Democracy saga very closely. And he says this development is in keeping with the Mulroney government's original intent. We aired a clip.

Regardless of what the mandate of Rights and Democracy is or should be, both Paul Wells and former board member Payam Akhavan firmly believe that the events of the last two years have left it in far worse shape than it was before Aurel Braun became the chair of the board. We aired a clip.

Terry Glavin -- the freelance journalist who writes about human rights issues -- is even more blunt about the future of Rights and Democracy. We heard from him again with his concerns.

Iran Executions: Yesterday on the program, we brought you the story of Saeed Malekpour, an Iranian national and a permanent resident of Canada. In 2008, he returned to Iran to visit his dying father. He was arrested on charges involving internet pornography and has been sentenced to death.

Yesterday, Anna Maria Tremonti interviewed his wife, Fatemeh Eftekhari, who is trying to get the Canadian government to help get her husband out of Iran. We had intended to follow her interview with a discussion about the disturbing increase in the number of executions in Iran. But Fatemeh Eftekhari was so compelling, that we ran out of time. So we aired the conversation Anna Maria had with Rudi Bakhtiar of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

To add your thoughts to anything you hear on The Current, contact us. We love to hear from you!

Last Word - Bocuse D'Or Promo

Before we go ... the Bocuse D'Or is one of the mostly highly regarded cooking competitions in the world ... the equivalent of the Olympics for high cuisine. Tomorrow on the program, Genevieve Oger will take us into the heart of the competition as she follows Canadian chef, Ryan Stone. We ended the program today with a preview of her documentary, The Bocuse.

Other segments from today's show:

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