Exporting Asbestos - David Miller's "Greenstreets" - Why The Mona Lisa ?

Our guest host this week is Kevin Sylvester

Hour One

Asbestos Exports

Michaela Kaiserlingk is a 72-year-old widow whose life changed forever when her husband got sick with mesothelioma, a terminal cancer caused by asbestos exposure. His death turned her into a fervent activist, and she now spends her retirement trying to convince Ottawa to ban the export of asbestos overseas. She argues that if the mineral is too dangerous to use in Canada, we shouldn't be exporting it to developing countries such as India.

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Hour Two

Green Streets

David Miller and the greening of our cities. As Mayor of Toronto, Mr. Miller was a keen environmentalist. And he still is.

For our second hour, he's prepared a special report on the Green Streets of New York City.

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Hour Three

Mona Lisa

Guest Host Kevin Sylvester talked with Barbara Nichol, author and documentary maker, about the 100th anniversary of the theft of the Mona Lisa. Nichol recently produced and presented an "Ideas"  Documentary entitled "Why The Mona Lisa? " and she was the perfect person to talk with Kevin about the 'most famous painting in the world'. 

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Eleswhere in the program: An interview with author Arthur Slade about self publishing of electronic books ,  and a re-broadcast of the award winning documentary "Habtom's Path".

Hour One


Sometimes you choose your calling ... and sometimes life chooses it for you. Just ask Michaela Kaiserlingk. Five years ago, the 72-year-old knew nothing about asbestos.  Then in 2007, her husband Robert started having trouble breathing. Two years later, the  university professor was dead from mesothelioma, a terminal cancer caused by asbestos  exposure.
It has been decades since asbestos was widely used in construction in Canada, but it is still used in developing countries like India ... and Canada remains a major asbestos  exporter, despite the well-documented health risks.

That fact ... and her husband's sudden death ... turned Michaela Kaiserlingk into an  anti-asbestos activist. Today, she spends her retirement compiling news stories about the health risks, responding  to e-mails from other widows and widowers, and writing letters ... so many letters ... to  politicians pushing them to ban the export of asbestos.

Sometimes her efforts land her in hot water. Last month, Ms. Kaiserlingk received a cease  and desist order from the Conservatives that threatened legal action from if she did not stop using the party logo in one of the anti-asbestos ads on her website.  Michaela Kaiserlingk joined Kevin Sylvester from our Ottawa studio.

Arthur Slade:

When Arthur Slade was 10 years old, he had an "other world" experience that, as he himself  has said, blew his mind. The kid from rural Saskatchewan went to see Star Wars - infact dragged his entire family to see it. And when he left the movie theatre that spring day, he  knew he had to "live in a world of imagination".

Arthur Slade's imagination has been enthralling and giving teenaged readers the creeps for  years with a slew of novels, short stories and comic books. His fantasy thriller "Dust" won 

a Governor General's award in 2001. His other work includes the Northern Frights horror  trilogy, Monsterology, and the Hunchback Assignments series.

Lately, Arthur Slade has entered another brave new world, one that is providing its share of surprises and challenges -  or dare I say thrills and chills. He is now in the ebook  business, re-releasing many of his books for the kindle and Ipad crowd. Arthur Slade in conversation with Kevin Sylvester from our studio in Saskatoon.

Hour Two

Green Streets:

A special report by former Toronto Mayor David Miller. In the months since he has stepped  down from his old job in this city, he's been a busy man. He's back at a big downtown  Toronto Law Firm. He's an advisor on urban and environmental issues  to international  organizations like the World Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and  Development-the  OECD. And to the C40-an organization of big cities around the world that  are focussed on fighting climate change.

He's a Global Fellow on the Future of Cities at New York University. But he was NOT too busy to prepare a full hour report for The Sunday Edition last season. A rebroadcast of his  special report on New York . That city has  been called the Big Apple for decades. But more  and more these days , its being called the Big Green Apple.

Hour Three

Documentary: Habtom's Path

The story began in a dusty, hot village in Eritrea , and ended in an icy wood in Halifax just a few weeks ago. That day, Habtom Kibraeb was told that his refugee claim had been denied by Immigration Canada Deportation was almost certain. Now - on Habtom's path - from shepherd boy to young solider, from runaway to laundry worker - there was an obstacle he couldn't face, a fate from which he saw no escape. So in his mother tongue of Tigrinya, he wrote a letter to the people he cared about most. Then he hung himself from a tree in a Halifax neighbourhood he knew well.

His friends, his advocates, his community are struggling to piece together what happened and why. Habtom's Path was produced by Mary Lynk. A friend of Habtom's, Naz Yemane, read the farewell letter and its English translation.

Habtom's friends wanted to fulfill his wish to be cremated and buried in Canada. But his  younger brother said he would kill himself if Habtom's body was not returned to his homeland. The friends felt they had no choice. They sent Habtom's body back to Eritrea, the country he had tried so desperately to escape.

Habtom's Path was originally broadcast on The Sunday Edition in April of 2010.Congratulations to Mary Lynk and to our documentary editor Karen Levine. Habtom's Path has recently received a Gold Award at the New York Radio Festival.

Mona Lisa:

 One Hundred years ago today, Vincenzo Peruggia, a house painter from Italy, crept into the  Louvre in Paris and stole the Mona Lisa. It took the museum two days to discover that the  masterpiece had actually been stolen and it was almost two years before it was recovered. It wasn't the first major art theft in the world, nor the last, but it captured global attention like none other and played a critical role in making the Mona Lisa what it is today, the most famous painting in the world.
 Of course making the Mona Lisa famous wasn't Vincenzo Peruggia's aim...he claimed to Italian authorities when he was finely arrested that he just wanted to bring a great Italian treasure back home. Seems like a pretty straightforward, uncomplicated story. But truth is not much about the  Mona Lisa has ever been uncomplicated.

 This is something author and documentary maker Barbara Nichol knows very well. She spent a lot of time over the past couple of years contemplating the mystery of La Joconde. The  result of her labours was the CBC Ideas Documentary, "Why The Mona Lisa?". Barbara Nichol was in conversation with Kevin Sylvester from our Toronto Studios.

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