Peter Milliken & Letters

It's mail day. We read your letters on Canadian Wheat Board Sales, the retirement of Auditor General Sheila Fraser and Willful Blindness - when one ignores obvious warning signs. Plus we also speak to outgoing House Speaker Peter Milliken about the role of his successor amid the changed political dynamic.

Part Two of The Current

House Speaker: Peter Milliken

It's the election after the election. Today, MPs on Parliament Hill will vote for the next Speaker of the House of Commons. Now, normally this is not the sort of parliamentary business that would attract much attention. But over the past few years, the occupant of the biggest chair in the House has spent a significant amount of time in the limelight.

As Speaker Peter Milliken became a household name for some momentous rulings - including that one where he held the government in contempt of Parliament.
We thought he would be a good person to check with on the importance of today's Speaker election and on what lies ahead for his successor in this new Parliament. Peter Milliken was the Speaker of the House of Commons from 2001 until today ... making him the longest-serving Speaker in Canadian history. He joined us from Kingston, Ontario.

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Bernard St Laurent has been a familiar voice here on The Current over the years. And if you live in Quebec, he's probably an even more familiar voice because he hosts both the daily RadioNoon Montreal program on CBC Radio One and C'est La Vie across the network. And tomorrow, he takes on another hosting job ... here on The Current. As this week's Friday host, Bernie joined us from Montreal to read the mail.

Wheat Board Sales: Since 1935, the Canadian Wheat Board has been the marketing agent for western Canadian wheat and grains. But the future of the Wheat Board lies in the hands of the new majority Conservative government which has been promising to change the way the board functions.

Currently, Western Canadian grain farmers must sell through the board, which guarantees them a minimum price. But the new proposal would allow farmers the choice to sell their crops elsewhere - and potentially get a better price. Tuesday on the program, we heard the pros and cons of the Wheat Board, from two farmers. And we heard lots more in the mail.

Sheila Fraser: Known for her integrity, forthright manner and clear language ... she was - many say - the best government watchdog Canada has ever had. Sheila Fraser officially ended her 10-year term on Tuesday. And last week, as she prepared to step down, she gave us her perspective on a job that has defined her. Her interview with us prompted listeners with their own reviews on her term.

Willful Blindness: Willful blindness is a legal concept -- when someone can be held responsible for things you should know ... or could know ... but turn a blind eye to. It was a key concept in the convictions of Enron CEO and chair Kenneth Lay ... after the company collapsed. But ignoring obvious warning signs happens all the time in life. And last week on The Current, author Margaret Heffernan explained why it's just human nature to be willfuly blind. And we shared more examples of willful blindness that came in the mail and voicemail.

IMF Leader: Last month, IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Khan resigned after getting charged with sexual assault. On Tuesday, The Current looked at who would take his place - and what the future holds for the International Monetary Fund. Anna Maria, you asked your three guests if the scandal surrounding Strauss-Khan in any way tainted the IMF. We aired a portion of that conversation. This interview didn't sit well with one of our listeners and we shared their letter.

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