Mail: Stem Cell Research / Ethical Oil / Poverty

Also today, we read some of your letters on Canadian stem cell research, Canadian oil and poverty in Canada. And we are still tracking those two east coast ferries now being scavenged on India's ship breaking coast. Marine Atlantic says it put the sale of the ships out to tender. But a the longtime owner of a Canadian brokerage says neither he, nor a dozen or so of his competitors had any idea. He says it is time for the auditor general to start asking questions.

Part Three of The Current

Mail: Stem Cell Research/Ethical Oil/Poverty

Time now for our weekly look at the mail and our Friday host, David Michael Lamb joined Anna Maria in studio to read your letters.

Poverty Call-In: At least ten percent of Canadians live below the poverty line. But they rarely get a voice. Last Thursday, we gave the 10 percent a forum to speak out and share their stories. And we were grateful that so many chose to speak to us.

One voice on the program who pulled at a lot of heartstrings out there was that of 8 year old Santana Justason Jackson. Her brother is the subject of a National Film Board documentary called Four Feet Up. And with Christmas just around the corner, Anna Maria asked Santana about Christmas gifts. And her thoughtful words made many listeners think about the effect poverty has on children.

Stem Cell Research: Most Canadians will proudly recognize the names Banting and Best, as the Canadian scientists who discovered insulin. The names Till and McCulloch may not be as familiar but they should be.

Back in the 1960s in Toronto, Drs James Till and Ernest McCulloch discovered stem cells. It all started with some inexplicable bumps on the spleens of experimental lab mice. Ernest McCulloch passed away earlier this year. But last Tuesday, we asked James Till about the impact of the discovery. We also heard from Joe Sornberger, author of Dreams of Due Diligence: Till and McCulloch's Stem Cell Discovery and Legacy". The discovery of stem cells holds special meaning for some listeners who sent in their personal stories and gratitude.

One listener we heard from on this was Rick Durst. We wanted to know more about his story so we reached him at his home in Milford Bay, Ontario.

Ship Breaking Update: And now for an update on a story we brought you last month on The Current with Gopal Krishna, the founder of Toxic Watch Alliance in India. When he was on the program he talked about two Canadian ferries - The Joseph and Clara Smallwood.and The Caribou. The boats were previously owned by the Crown Corporation Marine Atlantic, which operates ferries between Cape Breton and Newfoundland.

Marine Atlantic was looking to get rid of the boats, and a British Broker won the tender to sell them. Eventually they were sold to two different companies for a little more than seven-and-a-half million dollars. Soon after, the ferries were resold and then scrapped in a ship breaking facility on a beach in Alang, India. The facility is controversial for its poor labour and environmental standards.

Well, after our segment on the sale of those ferries aired, we received an email from Canadian Ship Broker, John Andrews. For the past 36 years, he has owned and operated Fogo Boat Brokerage. And he told us he has concerns about how this particular deal went down. John Andrews joined us from St. John's, Newfoundland.

* We should note that we did request interviews with both Marine Atlantic and Transport Canada, but no one was made available to speak with us today. We will continue trying.

Ethical Oil: Canada's Environment Minister, Peter Kent defends Canada's oil as ethical ... as does the website, The idea is that Canada's human rights record and environmental record stand behind the oil produced in this country. But detractors say no oil can be ethical. Last week on The Current, we heard from spokesperson from Her views sparked a lot of opinion on the mail and we shared a few letters to end our letters segment this week.

If you have something to say about the program, we want to hear it! Here are some ways to contact us.

Last Word - Brian Brett reads The Poverty Trap

As we mentioned, the listener response to our programs on poverty has been overwhelming. Our Last Word today goes to Brian Brett, a writer who lives on a farm on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia. He ended the program with a reading of The Poverty Trap.

Other segments from today's show:

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