Letters: Valcartier, Teen Cosmetic Surgery & Bears

We dip into the mailbag as usual on Thursday's. Plus, we continue our conversation about a tragic accident 37 years ago at the military base in Valcartier, Quebec with a man who oversaw the morgue that day. And we'll revisit that story of the 8-year-old who admitted to getting Botox injections on national TV. It turns out the story is more complicated than we thought.

Part Three of The Current


Thursday, as always, is mail day here on The Current. And to help read your letters today, Tom was joined by producer Lara O'Brien.

Valcartier: Earlier this week, we brought you a tragic story from the military base at Valcartier, Quebec. Back in July, 1974, a terrible accident occurred during the base's summer training camp for cadets. The teens had gathered for a lesson on explosive safety when a grenade -- thought to be a dummy -- exploded killing six cadets and injuring another 54.

Thirty-seven years later, little has been done to heal the scars of that day. Tuesday on The Current we heard from three people who were there including Peter Van Kampen. He was a 15 year old cadet who was in the room at the time the grenade went off. Hearing this item brought back memories for some of our listeners.

And we wanted to contact Brian Patterson who left a voicemail on our feedback line regarding this story. He was a Captain in the Twelfth Armoured regiment at Valcartier. He was in Napanee, Ontario, this morning.

The Current did request to speak with someone from the Department of National Defence about the 1974 blast - and complaints about how the military handled it, and the people affected. We were told no one from the Department was available to talk to us. They did, however, send a statement.Here's an excerpt:

While the tragedy cannot be reversed, it must not be repeated. Safety is a vital consideration in the Army Cadet program, which has changed significantly since 1974 [...] Leaders at all levels conduct training with rigorous attention to the safety and well-being of Canada's youth - our leaders of tomorrow.

We thank and commend Mr. Fostaty, and those who relived their tragic memories in order to collaborate in his book, and participate in the interview, for keeping alive the legacy of those promising young lives that were lost that day. We express our condolences to those who have suffered as a result.of this tragedy, and especially to the families who lost their young sons so suddenly.

Teen Cosmetic Surgery: Moving on to another story from the past week. Cosmetic surgery for teens in the United States and Canada account for about two percent of all plastic surgeries in North America. That adds up to over two hundred thousand procedures. And not only are the numbers growing but teens are also undergoing cosmetic surgery at younger and younger ages.

Last week on The Current, we heard a debate over how young is too young. Stephanie Selter is 19 now. She has undergone rhinoplasty, liposuction and chin augmentation. After this segment aired, we heard from our listeners with their added thoughts on the subject.

Now as you heard in that clip of Stephanie Selter. Our discussion about youth cosmetic surgery was prompted by the story of eight year old Britney Campbell. She and her mother, Kerry, made quite the splash when they went on Good Morning America earlier this month to talk about Britney getting Botox injections.

After we aired our story, questions were raised as to whether the mother had actually injected Britney with botox. The mother claims that a freelance journalist paid her to make up the story. The journalist denies this and insists she saw the mother inject the daughter with botox. However, she does admit to paying the mother to tell her story.

So, we - as well as a lot of other media who picked up the story - may have been duped. The story could be a hoax. But one thing we do know for sure is this: Whether the story is true, a journalist paid money for it.

For more on the problematic nature of checkbook journalism we were joined by Kelly McBride. She is with the Senior Faculty for Ethics at the Poynter Institute and we reached her in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Bear Encounters: Finally for this morning ... an homage to bears. The Victoria Day weekend marked the beginning of cottage season for many and as Canadians fled the city for the woods, we heard bear stories like none other. And we added a few more comments on bears to end our letters pack today.

If you have any comments about anything you hear on The Current, send us your thoughts.

Music Bridge

Artist: Thievery Corporation
Cd: Mirror Conspiracy
Cut: # 3, Indra
Label: 4AD
Spine: CAD2K

Last Word - Centenarian

All season, we've been bringing you the voices of centenarians across the country as part of our 100 at 100 project. Well, today, ended the show with what you might call a three-fer ... three brothers, all over the age of 100. They're the Ellsworth brothers, from Newfoundland. And as far as we know, they're Canada's only family with three siblings who have lived at least a century.

The eldest brother, George Ellsworth, is celebrating his 104th birthday today. He still lives in Englee, the Newfoundland fishing community where he was born in 1907. Pat, who is 100, is in a nursing home several hundred kilometres north of there. And Jim, 102, lives with his daughter near St. John's - more than 500 kilometres away. The brothers just don't get around like they used to. So the last time they saw each other was four years ago. But that's not putting a damper on George's birthday. We reached him at his daughter Dorothy's house in Englee. He's hard of hearing, and doesn't speak as well as he used to, so Dorothy interpreted for us.

Well, as we said before, George's brothers sadly can't be with him on his birthday. They live too far away. So George's younger brother, Pat, delivered his birthday wishes by phone. Pat is also hard of hearing ... not uncommon when you reach the age of a hundred. But he can sing! And earlier today, he did just that in honour of his big brother's birthday.

Other segments from today's show:

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