Checking-In: Listener Response

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We're updating several big stories, revisiting the issue of the Kidney Trade with the Canadian prosecutor who has just won his case against those at a transplant clinic in Kosovo. And we're tracking the fight against Intra-Company Transfers where abuses in the U.S., similar to those alleged to be happening here have resulted in a Congressional push for change. Plus as always, our listeners' thoughts on some of the stories of the week.



Anthony Germain, our Friday host, joined Anna Maria from St. John's to help us zip through our listener feedback.

Organ Trade: On Monday, our season long project, Line in the Sand - about the significant dilemmas we face, explored the complicated ethical dilemmas surrounding the black market sale of kidneys in developing countries. We heard from documentary filmmaker Ric Esther Bienstock and then we debated the idea of compensating organ donors. It's a story that touched many listeners.

Patricia Howe from Strathmore, Alberta wrote:

I agree that the government should help those who want to donate, because my husband needs a kidney transplant, and some of the reasons that people don't step up is not only because of fear, but the extra costs for that person to be off work.

Melissa Rockenfield from New Hamburg, Ontario had a different take. She writes:

I was disappointed that you did not address the primary ethical issue. Should we do organ transplants of any kind - whether paid or unpaid? Our modern society seems to worship at the altar of the undead. We spend billions of dollars in seeking to delay death. Why not spend that money in supporting life - address world poverty, support early education and health programs? I know this is a very unpopular view - but it is rarely broached in discussions about organ transplants.

A listener from Calgary emailed this:

Up front, I am one of the many who is waiting for a kidney. Of course, I support all the possible legal and moral strategies for increasing the number of kidneys that are available for transplants. I had a person willing to donate a kidney. It took 16 months of scheduled tests waiting as long as 4 months between appointments, before we finally got the word that the person was not suitable. It astounds me that the process to approve a kidney donor takes so long - on average at least a year. It seems so counterproductive to drag out the process for approving kidney donors. If the transplants were done more quickly, there would be more money in the health system to deal with other issues.

Back in February 2012 we spoke with a Canadian lawyer spearheading a high-profile case against an organ trafficking ring in Kosovo. The case has now come to a close and he's here to give us an update.

Jonathan Ratel is an European Union special prosecutor and head of special prosecution in Kosovo. He was in Victoria.


  • From The Current Archives: Jonathan Ratel
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After hearing our segment on the organ trade, Richard Vickery from Vancouver had an idea. He wrote:

3D printers can print working guns; why can't we use them for developing kidneys? This way the recipient need not die while waiting for a donor.

Good point, Richard. Here's a look to the future. There could come a day when there's an alternative to trading organs -- by making them in the lab. Dr. Anthony Atala is the director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in North Carolina. His work focuses on growing and regenerating tissues and organs.

He and his team have already engineered the first lab-grown organ to be implanted into a human -- a bladder. And in a Ted Talk in 2011, he demonstrated an experiment that might one day put an end to organ donation. It's a 3-D printer that uses living cells to produce a kidney. But for now - just a proto-type unsuitable for transplantation.



Is TV Dead?: On Wednesday, our segment on the future of television set off a Twitterstorm of activity. Many of our listeners have cut cable and jumped ship to online options such as Netflix.

Sharon Somerville tweeted this:

I haven't owned a television in years. Watch everything on the computer with a good set of headphones. Cheaper, better.

But not everyone agrees TV is on the way out. Brad Weiss posted this on Facebook:

I don't believe televisions as viewing portals are dead. But the tradition of viewing regularly scheduled programming is definitely on the decline. At the end of the day, it's not the television that is dying - but the distributor we choose to source our content from that is at risk.

And we heard from Alice Slebers from Kelowna, B.C. on our voicemail.

Temporary Foreign Workers: On Tuesday, the CBC's Kathy Tomlinson, our Go Public reporter, told us about some changes to the way the Temporary Foreign Workers program will operate. But they didn't include changes to the way the Intra Company Transfer program is run. Some workers told the CBC they believe it's a way for companies to fast track foreign employees into Canadian jobs without having to go through the regular process. We heard stories of fake resumes, kickbacks and workers not following the rules.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in the United States are debating changes of their own. They're included in a sweeping legislative proposal called The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act.

Ron Hira testified before the Judiciary Committee of the US Senate that's considering the proposal last week. He's an Associate Professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology and has been researching the foreign worker system in the States for more than a decade. He was in Rochester this morning.

New Denver Dormitory: On to an update from a story we brought you last August. In the 1950's, the B.C. government rounded up children from the Doukhobor sect known as the Sons of Freedom.

The Sons of Freedom rejected the provincial education system, opting instead for home schooling. They also refused to register births, marriages and deaths... some also marched naked and set fire to buildings in protest.

The province responded by forcibly removing about 200 children from their families and sent them to New Denver, BC where they lived in a residence and attended public school. It took decades, but eventually those children would speak out publicly about abuse they say they suffered at the New Denver Dormitory.

Last August on The Current we heard freelance journalist Kalyeena Makortoff's documentary where she spoke with three people about the abuse they endured ... Elsie Erickson, Helen Chernoff-Freeman and Joe Sherstobitoff:


  • From The Current Archives: Apology for the Doukhobors
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About 100 former residents filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. The group wanted the government to follow through on recommendations from a 1999 Ombudsman report which called for an unconditional public apology.

Last Friday the Tribunal ruled it does not have the authority to compel the BC government to apologize. Elsie Erickson was one of the complainants... she was seven years old when the RCMP removed her from her home and escorted her to the New Denver dormitory.

Now, as always - we want to hear from you. Join the discussion at Facebook. Or tweet us @thecurrentcbc. You can call us toll free at 1-877-287-7366. Or write to us via Canada Post - Box 500, Station A, Toronto, M5W 1E6.

You can also check out our website where you can email us via the contact link, download the podcast., and get more information on all the stories you've heard on the program.

This segment was produced by The Current's Shannon Higgins.


Other segments from today's show:

Waiting to Be Heard: Amanda Knox

Ottawa family says they can't care for their autistic son anymore

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