December 19, 2010: Hugh Segal's Call to Action on Poverty, Patwa Bible: Documentary - Privacy in the Google Age
Hugh Segal's Call to Action on Poverty- A year ago, a bi-partisan committee of the Senate issued a 300-page report offering up 70-plus recommendations for government action on poverty. It received unanimous support in the Upper House. The response of the Harper Government to the report was polite; it would take the recommendations under advisement, the time tested non-response of a non-responsive government. Hugh Segal, surely the very last of the Red Tories, was the Conservative co-chair of the committee. When we last spoke, he was optimistic that his report would be taken seriously. Senator Segal is back in our first hour to talk about his personal and continuing war on poverty and the fate of his report.
Read more about hour one here
Privacy in the Google Age - In the era of Facebook and Google, `privacy' is rapidly becoming a quaint holdover from the pre-digital age. And we add to the problem by handing over to the web an amazing amount of private information. We volunteer to reduce our personal wall of privacy. In this hour, we had an international roundtable on the peril to privacy.
Read more about hour two here
Great Aunts - Our Third Hour this morning is dedicated to those formidable and sometimes intimidating women, our Great Aunts. There was something regal about them and they often had a strong impact in our lives.
Read more about hour three here
Elsewhere in the program: Producer Frank Faulk introduces us to the Patwa Bible. It features the Christmas Story in the Gospel of Luke as you've never heard it before - in Jamaican Creole. Now this path breaking work has been released in the Jamaican Diaspora including Canada; Also, we'll feature a personal essay on learning to skate; the great Charlie Brown Christmas; and Michael's essay about a Christmas concert in the school gym.
We will no longer be posting the music information for the show on our website. If you have any questions about a particular track, feel free to send us an email with your request.
Michael's Weekly Essay
In this week's essay, we aired a reprise of Michae's essay about Christmas concerts and the wonderous country of Childhood.
Hugh Segal's Call to Action on Poverty
The recommendations were sweeping.....and they were swept right under the carpet.
Last December, Senators Art Eggleton and Hugh Segal released a 300-page report intended to help the 3.4 million Canadians that they describe as "entrapped in poverty" by government-run social programs that are "substantially broken." The report was titled "In From the Margins: A Call to Action on Poverty, Hosuing and Homelessness." and it concluded with more than 70 recommedations. The Senators called for the federal government to work with the provinces on child-care, housing and welfare payments, among other things.
In April, the report received unanimous support from the Senate. According to the rules of Parliament, the government had 150 days to respond. In September, the Harper government did just that, but not in the way many poverty advocates had hoped. There was a 20-page report, documenting current programs. And then there was a pledge that the government would "take the committee's recommendations under advisement as it continues to find ways to help Canadians succeed." But you can't eat promises to take recommendations under advisement.
Meanwhile, a new child poverty report from the UN ranks Canada 17th out of 24 rich countries. Nearly one in ten Canadian children are still living in poverty. Another study from the National Council of Welfare has concluded that it's harder to get welfare in Canada today than it was during the recession of the early nineties. And the Centre for Research on Inner City Health released a study calling the government's housing strategy "deplorable" - noting that for every Canadian sleeping in a shelter bed, there are 23 households on the verge of homelessness.
Conservative Senator Hugh Segal is one of the few federal politicians to make the fight against poverty the keystone of his political career. He was in our studio in Ottawa.
A Charlie Brown Christmas
On a December night 45 years ago, millions of North Americans tuned in to watch a television special. It was a half hour animated show featuring the characters of the Peanuts comic strip by Charles Schultz.
A Charlie Brown Christmas pre-empted The Munsters on that Thursday night, and came on right after the popular Gilligan's Island. In the United States alone, half of all televisions that were on that night were tuned in to "A Charlie Brown Christmas".
Which came as a shock to the executives at CBS. Executives hated the final version of the special and fought tooth and nail with producers to make drastic changes.
What they especially disliked was the music by jazzman Vince Guaraldi, performed by Guaraldi, bass player Fred Marshall and drummer Jerry Granelli.
Whoever said network executives knew anything about television or music. "A Charlie Brown Christmas" is as popular now as it was 45 years ago, and the soundtrack is as ubiquitous at this time of year as shopping anxiety and shortbread.
Drummer Jerry Granelli is the sole surviving member of the Vince Guaraldi Trio. He now lives in Halifax and he recently spoke to CBC Halifax about the Charlie Brown phenomenon.
Skating - A Personal Essay
A few years ago, I took on my own battle of the blades.
For my entire life I had felt like less of a guy, less of a Canadian, because I couldn't skate .
So at the urging of colleague who was tired of hearing me talk about it - I signed up for lessons and finally learned to stand on the ice without falling, and move around on it. It wasn't easy.
Kyla Hanington had different reasons for wanting to skate again.
It's the Christmas story - the gospel of Luke - like you've never heard it before. Some of the sounds, some of the words are familiar. The lilt is captivating, beautiful, alive. This the Gospel of Luke in Jamaican Creole - patwa - the mother tongue of 85 percent of the people in Jamaica. It's the first completed book in a massive New Testament translation project.
When the Bible Society of the West Indies released its pathbreaking work, there was recognition, gratitude and a storm of controversy on the island. Patwa - a language? Written down?
Now its creators are spreading the story behind the translation - and the Good News - to the diaspora. Which is why it's General Secretary, Reverend Courtney Stewart, and young linguist Jodianne Scott landed up at York University in Toronto recently.
This documentary was produced by the CBC's Frank Faulk and it's called, Which Will Come....To All The People.Privacy in the Google Age
It's a double-edged sword that's cutting a swath through the 21st century.The digital age has given the average person access to an unprecedented amount of information.
Sitting in front of a computer screen, we can get a bird's eye or street-level view of nearly every corner of the earth - thanks to Google Incorporated.
We can read newspapers and blogs, listen to local radio and communicate almost instantly with anyone else in front a computer anywhere in the world. Not even governments can't shield themselves from it. The average citizen of any western country is now reading secret US government cables, thanks to Wikileaks.
But the other edge of that sword points squarely back at the person sitting at the keyboard. Nearly everything one does online can be - and often is - tracked: by advertisers who pay big dollars to profile consumers and governments that want to keep an eye on private citizens.
And not all of this surveillance is "snooping." People are voluntarily putting more and more of their private lives into the public domain. Facebook claims 500 million active users, who post all kinds of personal information. And a recent study shows that in western countries, eight out of ten children under the age of TWO have their pictures online.
So if we're getting and giving up so much information, has our notion of "privacy"actually changed?
Gus Hosein is a policy director at Privacy International, a private "watchdog" organization focused on privacy intrusions by government and businesses. He's also a Visiting Senior Fellow at the London School of Economics. He was at a studio in London.
Alexander Dix is the Berlin Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information. He was at a studio in Berlin, a city that's seen more than its fair share of privacy instrusions . He's less than 15 kilometres from the former headquarters of the Stasi, the East German secret police who perfected the art of government surveillance.
Canada's Privacy Commissioner has made an international name for herself by successfully taking on the internet giants. In a now legendary confrontation, she took Facebook to task for allowing third parties to have access to the photos and personal information of their users without their specific consent. Jennifer Stoddart was recently reappointed for another three year term and she was in our CBC studio in Montreal.
Auntie Em aside, popular culture has not always been kind to aunts. Their portrayal in books and plays and films has swung wildly from reverence to ridicule. For years aunts seemed to bear the burden of society's discomfort with women who went their own way, didn't marry, didn't have children. The words make us cringe now - - spinster, maiden, dotty, old maid, careworn, long-suffering. All it seems intended to place these women on the sidelines, looking at life from the outside in. But there were also the exhuberant, exotic, eccentric aunts. The Auntie Mames who were like kids, only bigger, with money. They had charisma and charge accounts. And the time to enchant, indulge and play with their small charges. There are aunts who are related to us by blood. But then there are "aunties" - kin to us simply by the fact that they love us, just the way we are. Courtesy aunts, they call them in the Caribbean. Aunts in all their glory and complexity are the subject this special hour of The Sunday Edition, one we're calling 'Great Aunts'.
To start our celebration, we're joined by Rupert Christiansen. He's the author of The Complete Book of Aunts. Mr. Christiansen was in our London studio.