Letters: Vancouver Rioters, Asbestos & Pensions

We speak with renowned novelist and activist Alice Walker as she prepares to sail to Gaza with a message of support for Palestinians. And we read your letters about Vancouver rioters, asbestos and pensions.

Part Three of The Current

Sailing to Gaza - Alice Walker

We want to take you back now to the story of the Mavi Marmara... the Turkish ship carrying activists who were trying to reach the shores of Gaza. The Mavi Marmara was part of a flotilla... protesting Israel's blockade of Gaza last year and trying to bring humanitarian supplies to the territory. As the ships neared Israeli waters, Israeli commandos raided the ship and nine Turkish activists were killed in the ensuing skirmish.

Now a second flotilla of ships is preparing to sail to Gaza, including a Canadian ship carrying dozens of Canadian citizens, despite the disapproval of the Canadian government and Israel's threat to use force to prevent the ships from entering the area.

One of the highest-profile people aboard the flotilla will be Alice Walker. She's best known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Color Purple and her activism fighting against such things as female genital mutilation ...and going back to the 60's for the American civil rights.

And now, at the age of 67, Alice Walker is getting ready to sail to Gaza. We reached her in Athens, Greece.


If it's Thursday, it must be mail day on The Current. To help do the honours, our producer Lara O'Brien joined Anna Maria in the studio.

Public Shaming: The outcome of last week's Stanley Cup final was a disappointment to Vancouver but the ensuing riot -- looting, vandalism and violence -- was a deeper blow to the city. And facing the glare of such an unflattering spotlight, Vancouver residents were soon determined to take action.

A number of Facebook pages were created where people have been posting pictures of the rioters. But that kind of public naming and shaming was troubling to some of our listeners while others thought it was an appropriate action. We shared some of our mail on this topic.

Asbestos: This week in Geneva, representatives from 143 countries have gathered to update the Rotterdam Convention. That's a treaty that lists hazardous chemicals which require a warning ... chemicals that countries can refuse to import if they are unable to handle them safely. This week's summit was considering whether to add chrysotile asbestos to the list.

Yesterday, the Canadian delegation broke its silence and blocked listing asbestos in the Convention ... the only country to oppose listing it. That's in line with Canada's long-standing support for the export of chrysotile asbestos from Canada, which the Conservative government says is safe if handled properly.

Monday on The Current, we heard from a senior human rights advisor to the Rideau Institute and a co-ordinator of the Rotterdam Alliance -- a group of environmental and health organizations promoting the implementation of the Rotterdam Convention. They we heard from you.

Pensions: A key issue in the job actions taken at Air Canada and Canada Post has been pension coverage for future workers. Pensions are an expensive benefit for companies to provide and fewer than three million private-sector workers in Canada have a company pension. Last Thursday on The Current, we asked young workers about the value of a company pension. Then we heard from our listeners with their take.

Cyber War: A postscript to a story from last week. We spoke to Sharon Polsky the National Chair of the Canadian Association of Professional Access and Privacy Administrators. We talked to her about an international treaty signed by Canada known as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

Graham Henderson, President of the Canadian Recording Industry Association took issue with several points made in that interview. He reiterates that the agreement has no three-strikes requirement. We aired a clip.

Eva Gabrielsson Follow Up: We wanted to follow up on a conversation The Current had this past October with Eva Gabrielsson. She was Stieg Larsson's partner for more than 30 years, until his death. Stieg Larsson wrote the best-selling trilogy that began with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Last time we spoke with Eva Gabrielsson, she spoke about her love for Stieg and her loss, and her battle for creative rights of his work. She writes extensively about those themes in her new book. She also reveals a few details about a fourth book in which the main character, Lisbeth Salander, breaks free of her ghosts and enemies, and manages to take revenge on those who have harmed her. Eva Gabrielsson's book is entitled "There Are Things I Want You to Know" About Stieg Larsson and Me. Eva was in Washington, DC.

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