Checking-In: Listener Response


A public service without sick leave and English without the apostrophe. Our listeners' thoughts on some of the stories of the week. Plus, we know the film 'Argo' skimped on details about Ambassador Ken Taylor but it doesn't even mention the Thai chef whose veggie-buying trips to a Tehran market allowed him to warn American diplomats what was coming. His story today.

Our Friday host aka Marketplace co-host Erica Johnson joined Anna Maria in studio to look back on the week that was.

Tony Clement: The Conservative government has always adhered to the idea of transforming the public service to bring it more in line with the private sector. And Monday on The Current, Tony Clement shared his thoughts on some of the benefits under scrutiny - pensions, voluntary severance and sick leave. Tony Clement is President of the Treasury Board of Canada.

Kim Hope has been a public service employee for twelve years and writes from Ottawa:

I have worked hard to save up my leave in case something happens to my health. Now I feel quite vulnerable with the uncertainty of changes. People who use their sick leave in its entirety each year don't deserve these changes - when many of us plan ahead and will most likely lose out.
Change needs to happen but I am not sure disallowing banking of sick leave is the solution.

Rene Blom of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan adds this thought:

Unfortunately one cannot modernize the human resource practices by using old school principles. Let's remind Tony Clement that sick leave usage is a function of "job satisfaction". The private sector knows this very well.

And Shannan Little tweeted this:

Tony Clement says there is no management now. But all sick leave is managed and supervisor approved. Doctor manages treatment.
He implies misuse at the end of careers. So deal with abusers. That's good management.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada wanted a chance to respond to Tony Clement's opinions on federal public service workers.

Robyn Benson is the national president of the union that represents more than 180-thousand federal workers and she was in our Ottawa studio.

Somchai Siwanet's Story: Earlier this year the film ARGO scooped up lots of hardware including Best Picture at the Academy Awards. The movie dramatized the story of the so-called Canadian Caper ... the covert mission to rescue 6 US diplomats during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis.

Today we bring you another piece of this tale... one that could have made a cameo in the Hollywood blockbuster... It's about another little known hero in that dramatic rescue. Ottawa's Catherine Louli spoke to Somchai Siwanet about the role he played.

The Apostrophe: Monday we asked if in this day and age of communication in 140 characters was there still value in the old fashioned apostrophe.

Mitesh Jani lives in Markham and sent this:

It wasn't until I heard your discussion that I realized how much I appreciate the apostrophe, and how passionate I am to keep it. Punctuation keeps language orderly and prevents misunderstandings just as traffic laws prevent accidents - which are effectively misunderstandings.

There was lots of support for the apostrophe. Neil Butler tweeted this:

In an era where efficiency is paramount, it makes no sense to disregard a punctuation mark which inherently compacts.

Someone who tweets by the handle "Gadget Girl" posted this:

Your guest says people will know the word based on context without the apostrophe. His premise supposes a native English reader. His theory is further undermined because it does not take into account learning disabilities.

While most did cling to the sanctity of punctuation, we did hear this from Derek Broughton who writes:

George Bernard Shaw pointed out that as long as we are insisting on keeping the apostrophes, then "shan't" should have TWO apostrophes, not one, so we're already ignoring the rules.
If we dropped almost all apostrophes, nothing would be lost.

Yaz & Yasmin: Last week we spoke about the birth control pills Yaz and Yasmin, Bayers' two oral contraceptives. Health Canada suspects both drugs in the deaths of 23 Canadian women and a class action lawsuit is underway, and we asked if women should be worried about taking oral contraceptives.

One of our guests was Dr. Fay Weisberg, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics aad Gynecology at the University of Toronto. She said women should not be afraid to take Yaz and Yasmin because there is no conclusive evidence to prove they aren't safe.

That prompted a few people to write to us expressing concern that Dr. Fay Weisberg had connections to Bayer. The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at U of T has been sponsored by Bayer in the past, and Dr. Weisberg won a "Bayer Healthcare Award for Teaching Excellence" in 2008.

Megg Alexis of Vancouver had this to say:

When you interview a doctor who promotes the product, shouldn't it be disclosed that the doctor received an award from the drug company who makes the product?

We asked the University of Toronto for clarification about Bayer's involvement with Dr. Fay Weisberg and the Department she teaches with, and this is what U of T told us.

In 2007-2008, Dr. Weisberg received a Master Teacher Award. Dr. Weisberg was selected as a recipient by the Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. There is no Bayer connection with this award. This award included a certificate and no monetary gift, and Bayer has no input into deciding the award recipients.

The University added that in the 2005-2006 academic year, U of T's Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology introduced an Educational Partnership Initiative, sponsored by industry. Bayer has been a supporter of the program since 2007, providing between $5,000 to $10,000 per year as unrestricted educational grants to support teaching programs. This money is given to the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and it supports inter-hospital rounds by covering some of the costs (travel and accommodations) of bringing in international experts to speak at rounds. They said none of the industry partners have any input into content or speaker selection, nor do they have any input into the content of any education materials or speakers.

Lots of ways to add your thoughts to anything you hear on The Current. Tweet us @thecurrentcbc. Find us on Facebook. C all any time toll-free at 1 877 287 7366.And of course via Canada Post, write to us at Box 500, Station A, Toronto, M5W 1E6.

This segment was produced by The Current's Pacinthe Mattar and Carole Ito.

Last Word - Line in the Sand in the Summer

Over the summer you can catch Line in The Sand, the best of The Current's stories about the difficult ethical choices we make and the lines we draw.

It airs on Tuesday evenings at 7:30 and Thursday mornings at 9:30 on CBC Radio One and on SiriusXM.

Also, as of Monday, June 24th, you can check out our website, where you can download our podcast anytime. For the first time, we're making all ten episodes of Line in The Sand available next week -- even before they air on radio.

Have you ever drawn a line in the sand or faced an ethical dilemma that came to define you? Let us know!

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