As It Happens

April 20, 2021 Episode Transcript

Full-text transcript

The AIH Transcript for April 20, 2020

[host]Hosts: Carol Off and Chris Howden[/host]

Prologue

CAROL OFF: Hello. I'm Carol Off.

CHRIS HOWDEN: Good evening. I'm Chris Howden. This is "As It Happens".

[Music: Theme]

CO: The verdict is in. A jury finds former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all charges in the murder of George Floyd.

 

CH: Finding a needle in a haystack. To help Canadians navigate the confusing patchwork of vaccine appointments, volunteers with a group called Vaccine Hunters Canada come to the rescue.

 

CO: A bridge too far. The mayor of Ottawa calls out Ontario's premier for forcing police checkpoints between his city and Gatineau, Quebec -- because he says the stops won't stop the spread of COVID. 

 

CH: Finding her voice. A New Jersey 94-year-old discovers a record she forgot she made as a teenager -- and now that her family has shared it online she's finding the audience she always deserved.

 

CO: Screech for the top. People aren't the only animals who scream -- and after completing a new study of human shrieks, researchers know full well about our full wails. 

 

CH: And …time waits for snowman. And yesterday, time ran out -- so, as part of an annual tradition, Switzerland watched as that symbol of winter burned -- and cheered as the head of that snowman, whose name is Böögg, exploded.

 

CH: "As It Happens", the Tuesday edition. Radio that knows that's just the tip of the ice Böögg.

[Music: Theme]

Part 1: Chauvin Verdict, Gatineau/Ottawa Border, Human Scream Study

 

Chauvin Verdict

Guest: Tray Pollard

CH: In Minneapolis, the jury has delivered its verdict in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin.

 

[sc]

PETER CAHILL: We the jury in the above entitled manner as to count one, unintentional second-degree murder while committing a felony, find the defendant guilty. This verdict agreed to this 20th day of April 2021 at 1:44 p.m.

 

[/sc]

 

CH: The just also found Derek Chauvin guilty of two more counts, including murder and manslaughter, for the killing of George Floyd. The former police officer was caught on video kneeling on the neck of George Floyd for over nine minutes in May of last year. The killing set off weeks of protests across the U.S. and around the world. It's expected that the streets of Minneapolis will be full again tonight. Tray Pollard is there now. He's an activist who knew George Floyd personally. We reached him in Minneapolis, just after the verdict was read. 

 

CO: Tray, what is the scene now in the streets of Minneapolis?

 

TRAY POLLARD: Joy. A lot of joy. A lot of people chanting. A lot of people clapping. A lot of people crying. It's just a true testament that the times is really changing.

 

CO: I was watching the... the verdict, and at the same time, a split screen watching the street. There was no television out there. There was no... no feed of what was going on inside the court. How did people learn? Just describe the sort of wave of knowledge that the verdict was guilty, guilty, guilty?

 

TP: So a lot of people, you know, technology, modern technology. So somebody had microphones out there, and a lot of people have, you know, have streaming TVs on their phone. So right when the judge appeared on screen, they put the microphone by the phone and then they started reading accounts and guilty on all three counts. And everybody just I mean, literally there was more crying than anything

 

CO: Describe that? Just tell us a bit more about the emotions that you saw outside that courthouse?

 

TP: Like I stated, you know, you had... and this is important to note, it was every nationality, every culture, every religion that was... that's out here right now. And all of them are sharing that same emotion, the same emotion. They crying, and, you know, again, they hugging each other. And it's honestly, it's a beautiful scene now. It really is.

 

CO: Watching the... the trial from the first... from the earliest ones, the teenager, Darnella Frazier, who describes what she saw when she was the one who took the video, having the chief of police of Minneapolis Police Department, what he said that this was absolutely not within the training. This was... this was... and he had said earlier that it was murder. For all the people who testified, all those as it rolled through that trial, did it seem like there was any other possible verdict they could reach?

 

TP: Honestly, a testament to what you just stated, but also, the... the…. the expert... the expert that testified. You know, in our minds and in our hearts, we said there is no way possible that this dude is going to get off on any of these charges. And he didn't.

 

CO: And what do you think... the jury never even asked any questions, they just went off and within a quite short period of time came to their conclusion. What do you think that deliberation was like?

 

TP: I personally feel like by the time they got in there and they got to asking each other questions, I don't think it was nothing even said. [both chuckling] I mean... I mean, again, you know, when you look at that video, I mean, it is really clear and uncut. And I've said this repeatedly, that this is not no Minneapolis, Minnesota issue. This was a world issue, right? And… and so, you know, when... when... when this incident occurred, you know, a lot of people was just like, wow, like this is unbelievable. And I think that video was kind of like an open and closed door kind of deal. And I think that the prosecution did an extraordinary job of pointing out the facts that everybody sees in that video, despite the defence trying to do their job, which that's their job, they supposed to try to create some kind of doubt. Unfortunately, they had way too many weapons to overcome. The chief of police, the bystanders that were standing there, the paramedic from the fire department, instructing him that he needs to check his pulse. And like, it was no way possible this dude was going to get off on any one of them charges. No way possible.

 

CO: This is so much more than this trial, isn't it? That nine and a half minutes that shook your country. It became an international symbol of police excess toward Black people. It... his last words, I can't breathe, have become a mantra internationally. What does it mean? What... what... what will you think the repercussions, the fallout of this extraordinary murder, this extraordinary trial will be?

 

TP: Honestly, you know, and that... that is very true, right? And I say that from this perspective, when you look at history and African-Americans and their involvements with law enforcement, it has never been good. In the last 50 years of policing in the state of Minnesota, it has only been one conviction. And that was a Black guy. And today exemplifies the change that is completely transforming our country as we speak. I would be robust if I didn't say to you, the radio station, to the country of Canada, you know, me talking to you guys, me, you know, giving you guys play by play, not just now, but last year as well. I can't thank you guys enough, man. I really can't. And I just really wanted to be able to say that so that your... your... your listeners can know that I do appreciate the love. I do appreciate the support. And especially to your radio station. I can't tell you how much I love you guys and how much I'm appreciative of you depicting the truth about what's going on in Minnesota.

 

CO: What do you think tonight will be like for people in the streets, for people who watched and who waited so long to hear this verdict?

 

TP: Again, I think you're going to see exactly what you're seeing on TV. A lot of tears, a lot of crying, a lot of emotion, except I think that this time around, it'll be good emotions. And people will be sharing in that. And unfortunately, right after this is over with, we'll be right in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, because the same incident occurred just a week and a half ago.

 

CO: And we will be following that story as well. Tray, I appreciate once again speaking with you. Thank you.

 

TP: Absolutely, my dear. You guys take it easy.

 

CH: Tray Pollard is an activist who knew George Floyd. We reached him in Minneapolis, just after Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering Mr. Floyd. 

 

[Music: Glassy guitar riff]

 

Gatineau/Ottawa Border

Guest: Jim Watson

CH: Ottawa and Gatineau are a river -- and a province -- apart. But in normal times, the two cities can feel like one. This week, though, they've felt more like two different countries on opposite sides of the Cold War. That's because of Ontario's strict new COVID lockdowns, which have placed police checkpoints on Ontario's borders -- making sure travelers have a valid and essential reason to pass. Yesterday, those new rules created travel chaos in Ottawa/Gatineau. And the mayor of the nation's capital is not happy about it. We reached Jim Watson in Ottawa.

 

CO: Mayor Watson, first of all, for those who haven't seen the video or actually been trying to cross the border between Quebec and Ontario, can you just paint us a little picture of what these new restrictions, what troubles this is causing for your city?

 

JIM WATSON: Well, it was basically a nightmare yesterday. We have five bridge crossings from Gatineau to Ottawa, as well as to ferry crossings. And one of the bridges was backed up ten and a half kilometres. So it was frustrating for those people, to say the least.

 

CO: And these are people, just give us for people who don't know the Ottawa-Gatineau relationship, how many people actually cross the border from work to home or home to work?

 

JW: Oh, there's tens of thousands. You know, we have about six-thousand health care workers that live in Gatineau and cross the border every day to work in long-term care homes or hospitals, retirement homes and the like. You know, I understand we don't want people, you know, going to the Gatineau for, you know, cheap beer of the day, or, you know, go to Gatineau Park. We asked people on our side to stay if you don't have a reason to go if you're non-essential worker. And the mayor of Gatineau's done the same with his residents, please, you know, stay in Gatineau unless you have to go for legitimate reasons, work, medical, or compassionate grounds. And so what ended up happening was the police, Ottawa Police, were put in this awful, awkward situation of having to have all of these officers there slowing down the traffic. And I believe yesterday of the tens of thousands of cars that went through. Only two were turned away.

 

CO: And this is, so Ottawa Police Service has to man this checkpoint or serve this checkpoint 24/7, right?

 

JW: That's right. That's the direction that's come from the provincial government. This is obviously not well thought out by the province because, you know, it was just such a debacle yesterday. Today, what's happened is police are just basically waving people through and not stopping anyone. And it just doesn't make any sense at all. You know, there was no evidence of any transmittal of COVID-19 coming over in large numbers from... from Quebec. You know, they're in basically the same boat as we are. Their restaurants and stores and so on are closed. So people coming at 6:30 in the morning are not coming for, you know, a bush party and, you know, getting drunk in a park or something like that. They're coming to work. They're essential workers.

 

CO: On Friday, when Premier Doug Ford had his press conference, he said that... and announced these... these border checkpoints. He blamed open borders for the COVID variants that were coming into Ontario. That he says are causing the infections that are filling up the hospitals. So is that not a valid concern?

 

JW: Well, again, there's no evidence that that's taking place between Gatineau and Ottawa. It may be at international airports when flights are coming in from other... other countries. But this is an example of where if the province had picked up the phone and simply consulted with myself, with the chief of police that we have here in Ottawa, Chief Sloly, we could have explained to them that this was not going to work. It was going to create this kind of havoc, you know, bumper to bumper. And clearly, you know, we proved yesterday what a fiasco it was.

 

CO: Did you not get any notice of this? Did the Ontario government, Premier Ford, did not notify you that this was coming?

 

JW: Nothing at all. And, you know, the solicitor general has said in the legislature today, well, the mayor was encouraging people not to go to Gatineau. Well, of course, I was. You don't need to go to Gatineau to go and do shopping or hiking and so on. Stay in Ontario unless you work. And the mayor of Gatineau, Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin, was saying the same thing. But that's a world of difference by encouraging our residents to do that responsibly to where the province brought us bringing in these... these checkpoints on five bridges, as well as to ferry crossings and the highway system, which is being patrolled by the Ontario Provincial Police. So our chief of police has written to the solicitor general and said that he's going to be keeping track of all of the costs and will be sending a bill to the province. But we hope that by the end of the week, the province will come to their senses and realize that they didn't quite understand the Ottawa-Gatineau relationship and how important that is to have those open bridges, particularly for the number of people that work in Ottawa and live in Gatineau and vice versa.

 

CO: We saw another job imposed on the police of Ontario on Friday as well that they were to stop people, ask them where they're going if they were out, and to find people who might be breaking the lockdown rules. The police in many jurisdictions, including Ottawa, said that they would not conduct any random stops or random checks of people. How are the Ottawa Police responding to these... these new jobs that the Ontario government gave them on Friday?

 

JW: Well, they're frustrated like the rest of us. You know, the same thing with the playground edict that came down, and they had to backtrack from that. And the random police checks, one being, I believe, you know, unconstitutional. But our chief of police was not going to have anything to do with that. And I spoke out against it and a number of other mayors in Ontario. And to the credit of the province, they did listen, and they backtracked. But this is a great example, Ms. Off. If people at the provincial level simply picked up the phone, called myself or the chief, we could have given them the lay of the land and say, you know what? Putting in checkpoints 24 hours a day, seven days a week at seven different crossings just doesn't make any sense. And there's no empirical evidence that shows that there are these mass invasions of Gatineau people with COVID-19.

 

CO: What will you be saying to Premier Ford when you have a chance to speak with him?

 

JW: Well, ask him respectfully to rescind the order to have our police, you know, patrol these... these border crossings. Explain to him how the Gatineau-Ottawa economy is intertwined, how they have been completely ineffective and just done nothing but frustrate people. And I spoke out against the Gatineau, you know, the Quebec decision last year where they did exactly the same thing that we're doing with their... their police, you know, stopping people. And it created lots of angst and frustration and eventually was taken away. It just proved on the Quebec side completely ineffective. And that's exactly what's happening on the Ontario side, thanks to the provincial order.

 

CO: Well, we'll be watching in coming days to see if this is rescinded. And it's good to talk to you, Mayor Watson. Thank you.

 

JW: My pleasure. Thank you, Ms. Off.

 

CH: Jim Watson is the mayor of Ottawa. That's where we reached him.

 

[Music: Jazz]

 

[This is almost certainly the screams of girls and women chasing The Beatles… or The Beiber] 

 

Human Scream Study:

Guest: Sascha Fruhholz

CH: Now, this… this is not the sound of imminent danger.

 

[Music: "She Loves You" by The Beatles]

 

CH: It's the sound of Beatlemania -- young women screaming with joy at seeing The Beatles circa 1963. And according to a new study, that kind of happy shrieking is relatively new to human beings. Most animals scream only to communicate danger. Researchers in Zurich say they have identified the six kinds of screams made by humans. And that we respond differently to a scream at a single spider, for example, than we do to a scream at four Beatles. Professor Sascha Fruhholz is the lead author of the study. And we reached him at the University of Zurich in Switzerland.

 

CO: Sascha, I can remember the girls and women screaming like that at Beatles concerts. Just the sight of Beatles would make them do that. But what is it about that screaming that made you want to understand why they were doing that?

 

SASCHA FRUHHOLZ: We were actually looking for the most intense way how people really can express emotions through the voice. And then, I mean, you literally come across screens, actually. And then we were looking at the literature, and most of the literature is actually a little bit, let's say, limited to associating screams with negative emotions and negative contexts, like fear, like anger, like aggression. But then we always, like, thought about, well, humans, they also scream on other occasions. And then we thought about, well, humans scream when they experience joy. They scream when they experience pleasure. And that is probably one of our members he came up with this picture of like this footage in the 60s about The Beatles. And he said look at the crowd, I mean, when they... when they see The Beatles, and they scream, [CO chuckles] but they're not afraid. I mean, they're really, I mean, they scream in joy in this way. And that was really one of the selling points. But we said we have to investigate screams, but also like from a positive side.

 

CO: Right. And then I think a lot of them would faint after they finish that screaming. [laughing] But that's... that's another study. So the ones who evaluated pain, anger, fear, joy, passion and sadness. Do people scream to communicate, or they scream because of the deepness of the emotion that they're feeling?

 

SF: Well, it's actually both. I mean, you mentioned two important points here. And these are probably the two functions that we associate with screaming. So it's not only expressing your emotions, but you want to tell another person how you feel. And these are actually the two important things about screams. It's a high,-intense expression of your own emotion. But it's also like a really basic way, but also like a straightforward way of communicating how you feel to another person.

 

CO: How did you actually study this? I mean, did you have to get people to come in and scream for you?

 

SF: [laughing] Yes. In the first part of the study, we invited people, humans, to... to our laboratory, and we have like a sound recording device or sound recording room that is soundproof. They had a microphone. They were completely isolated. So we asked them, or we told them you can produce any type of scream, intense as you can, actually. And... and we really recorded these six different streams. And actually, we also saw they are really different in terms of their acoustic quality. So they're not only screams, but they have a specific acoustic distinctiveness such that other people can really recognize OK, this is a scream of a person feeling joy or this is a scream of a person feeling or being afraid.

 

CO: But you had to… now, the people that were doing this screaming for you, were they... were they supposed to imagine a particular thing and then scream? And then could you match that, whatever it was in their minds and imaginations, with what people thought the scream actually meant?

 

SF: Exactly. So this is what we did. We gave them some example situations, so they should imagine a situation. For example, if they're sad, just imagine you lost an important person and just died. And imagine the sadness that you feel in this situation, and you have this urge to really scream out this emotion in this particular situation.

 

CO: And we're people who listened to the screams able to figure out which emotion they were feeling?

 

SF: Right. So this is what we did in the second phase of the study. And so once we recorded these screams, we asked another sample of participants to listen to the screams and try to figure out what's this person screaming because the person was afraid or because the person was experiencing joy? And the surprising finding was that humans were much more able to classify or to distinguish these positive screams, joyful screams or pleasure screams. They had much more problems classifying or detecting these what we call the negative screams, so like fear screams or anger screams.

 

CO: Why do you think that's the case?

 

SF: This is a really good question. I mean, first of all, it's really surprising because there's a strong, let's say, an evolutionary hypothesis about screaming. And people usually say screams have evolved during evolution because they're a powerful signal of telling another person there's something dangerous in the environment. There's a threat. But actually, it turns out [chuckling] humans are much more sensitive to these positive screams, which we think is a little bit also like a curse, because we as humans, especially in Western culture, we live in different environments where like the common threats of danger that probably animals would experience in the natural environments, they don't really much more occur in human environments.

 

CO: Just going back to the Beatlemania moment, and do you think also [SF chuckles] those kinds of those joyful, excited and perhaps sexual screams [laughing], I mean, we can't rule out the fact that this... that's part of it, right? That they... that they were screaming and it's infectious, that the other girls and women were joining that because, like laughter, they get infected with it?

 

SF: This is actually also what we think. I mean, these positive screams, one function of these positive screams, we think also is they create social bonds. I mean, usually, like as humans, we usually we look for these contexts where we can express positive screams. I mean, we go to concerts of our famous bands. We go to soccer games. We go to football games. And, I mean, these are typical environments where we don't go alone, we go with friends. And usually, I mean, we scream. And one person starts to scream, The other person hears the scream and feels probably the same kind of joy and screams along with the other people. And we think these positive screams are really functioning in creating social bonds between people.

 

CO: Well, they sure did in the 1960s. [laughing] So anyway, Sascha, it's really fascinating. I appreciate speaking with you. Thank you.

 

SF: Thank you very much.

 

CO: Bye-bye.

SF: Bye-bye.

 

CH: That was Professor Sasha Frühholz, Head of Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience at the University of Zurich. He spoke to us from Zurich, Switzerland. His study on human screaming is published in the journal PLOS Biology this month. And you can find more on this story on our webpage at: www.cbc.ca/aih. 

 

[Music: Pop]

 

Switzerland Snowman Exploding

 

[sc]

 

[Music: A very European national anthem-sounding orchestral piece]  

 

TOTALLY NOT SWISS CHRIS HOWDEN: Switzerland, home of chocolates, Swiss army knives and watches, and of course,  Böögg, the evil snowman who explodes. As you know,  Böögg is a large snowman made of straw and filled with fireworks, symbolizing winter. Every year since 1892, on the third Monday in April, thousands gather in Zurich to watch their volatile nemesis burn. The sooner his head explodes, the nicer the summer will be. So good luck this year. Switzerland. And  Böögg, prepare to have your mind blown!

 

[Music: Anthem crescendos]

 

[/sc] 

 

CH: Just a classic piece of tape from the past, in which a very good unidentified announcer discusses the very normal annual Swiss tradition of waiting for a burning snowman's head to explode. Well, yesterday was the third Monday in April. But this year, there was no gathering in Zurich, because there are no gatherings, period. Not to worry, though: Böögg did not evade justice. Instead, his explosive execution took place -- fittingly -- on something called "Devil's Bridge", in a remote gorge, and was televised for all to see. Here's the climax of yesterday's broadcast on Swiss television -- the moment Böögg's flaming, blank-eyed, pipe-smoking head detonates, and falls off.

 

[sc]

 

[announcers speaking in Swiss-German]

 

[a loud explosion, announcers react]

 

CH: Böögg's head exploded after 12 minutes and 58 seconds -- a below-average time, meaning Switzerland will have a very pleasant summer. Congratulations to everyone. Except Böögg.

 

[Music: Electronic]

 

Part 2: Vaccine Hunters, Old Record Found

 

Vaccine Hunters:

Guest: Sabrina Craig

CH: Tracking down a vaccine appointment can be a shot in the dark. In some parts of the country, it's a patchwork: some pharmacies book through the phone, others through an online form, and sometimes you just have to keep refreshing the page in the hopes something pops up. Who has time for that? Vaccine Hunters Canada, that's who. They source out the shots so you don't have to. Vaccine Hunters Canada is a volunteer team that posts on Twitter all day long, with open appointments as they see them. And the group estimates it's helped more than a thousand Canadians book their COVID-19 vaccines. Sabrina Craig is one of the founding members of the group. We reached her in Toronto.

 

CO: Sabrina, just a few weeks ago, Vaccine Hunters had about ten-thousand followers on Twitter. Now you've got more than 100-thousand followers. Just how busy has your life become helping people find vaccines?

 

SABRINA CRAIG: It's been actually such a pleasure to be part of this. I'd like it to be known I'm not working alone. It's a core group of four people, and we have 15 or so people working in different social media areas.

 

CO: It's all volunteer?

 

SC: Yep! We're all volunteers. Most of us have full-time jobs. So it's a big undertaking.

 

CO: How did you personally get involved in this?

 

SC: Right around when Vaccine Hunters Canada Twitter was about hitting four-thousand followers, I saw it. I thought it was great. I kept on messaging them tips, and the person who was on the other end happened to know me in real life. So he invited me to join in and become a contributor. So I was person number three on the team.

 

CO: Why is it necessary? I mean, this is... vaccine rollout is supposed to be kind of comprehensive. We're told by the premier of Ontario in particular that this is easy, folks. You can just go and sign up. What made Vaccine Hunters Canada necessary?

 

SC: So, a lot of people find the comprehensiveness of the vaccine rollout actually an overload of information. Some people find it difficult to navigate, particularly if English isn't your second language or if you have a grasp of the English language, maybe you're not super familiar with navigating the Internet. So that's where we come in.

 

CO: I think people listening to this, anyone who has done what you're doing for many people, maybe they've done it for themselves or for a family member, someone who's not tech-savvy, who maybe doesn't have access to Internet, really, you do have to be pretty smart and on the ball to actually [chuckling] nail down one of these vaccines. So how do you manage to find an appointment for somebody for a vaccine they couldn't find for themselves?

 

SC: So we empower people to see what's already available. We crowdsource information on when vaccine appointments are available. And we post it on to our social media so that people can easily see the availabilities and then click through and book for themselves or their families. Recently, we are also partnering with pharmacies and the city of Toronto so that we can highlight their pop-up clinics so that we can ensure that there's lots of people to fill up the spots.

 

CO: What have you heard from people about how frustrating it is trying to nail down an appointment for a vaccine?

 

SC: We've definitely heard a lot. We operate on Twitter, Facebook and a chat server called Discord. And we hear from a lot of people from a lot of different walks of life, people with autism wondering if they fall under the provincial guidelines for intellectual or developmental disability risk? And there's a lot of people that we don't care about because of the barrier, either in technology, language, access or otherwise.

 

CO: Can you think of an example, a time when you were particularly satisfied that you were able to get somebody an appointment, somebody you helped

 

SC: This past week, I believe, we posted, I posted, a fairly catchy Ottawa Ontario availability. And later on, the team received a notification that someone was able to book their English second language-speaking father, who is also an essential worker to that Ottawa place. So it feels really good to have the connections made and ensure that people are able to book it, and the right people. So it feels really good.

 

CO: Well, I'm sure it does, and I'm glad you did that. But at the same time, if you hadn't done that for that man, it's an essential worker, would he have gone unvaccinated?

 

SC: In that particular instance, the son was aware of his father's schedule and able to identify that this was convenient with a few less steps then possibly what his dad would do by going through the traditional multi-tab Google search frustration situation.

 

CO: We've covered the story of the vaccine rollouts of, let's say, in the United Kingdom or in other countries. And it's very organized. Their sign-up is pretty straightforward, but it doesn't seem to be happening here. And so why is that? Why do you think that, again, why do you think it's even necessary that you need to help people? Why shouldn't they... why can't they do it for themselves? Why isn't it... why aren't they able to do it?

 

SC: Many of the other countries have something like this. They have a Vaccine Hunters America for their different states going on, and they have ones in other places. I know that they have one in Israel as well. I think this is a case of the grass is always greener on the other side. We're here to help people whenever and however we can. Reducing the barriers and partnering with clinics, pharmacies, city governments and whichever governments reach out to us is something that we're very pleased to do for.

 

CO:Are you getting any help and reach out from the Ontario government, for example?

 

SC: None of the... I'll be honest, we have a very full inbox right now. We haven't had any provincial coordination going on, but I definitely see that that could be something possible in the future

 

CO: All right. Well, maybe someone's listening, and that reach out will happen because it sure sounds like people need need it, Sabrina. And I'm glad you're there for them.

 

SC: Thank you so much from everyone at Vaccine Hunters Canada. We hope to empower and provide a community where people can help eligible Canadians find vaccines. 

 

CO: All right. Thank you. 

 

SC: Thank you.

 

CH: Sabrina Craig is a co-founder of the Vaccine Hunters Canada group. We reached her in Toronto. And you can find more details on how the group works to help Canadians get vaccines on our website: www.cbc.ca/aih.

 

[Music: Elevator music]

 

SK Weight Loss Guy

 

CH: With all the comfort food being consumed in our ongoing discomfort -- and the fact that we have been told to stay indoors for the last year -- it's no wonder some of us have put on a few pounds. But for one Newfoundlander living in Saskatoon -- the pandemic has pushed him to do the opposite. He's lost weight. And not the kind of minimal weight you lose by just drinking light beer while you binge-watch "Letterkenny". Kyle White has lost a hundred-and-fifty pounds. Here is Kyle White talking with CBC Newfoundland.

 

[sc]

 

KYLE WHITE: We had a lot of bad habits. My wife and I, like a lot of folks did, I think, back in the "Tiger King" era of the pandemic. We had a lot of take-out, a lot of sitting on the couch. Eventually, that didn't feel really healthy. You know, I've been a big guy all my life, and I knew that wasn't sustainable. But at some point last year, I realized that we had a little bit more time on our hands to maybe do something about it. So I just started going for walks. Started walking the dog a little bit more. Then I started listening to podcasts on walks. And then we just tried to eat a little bit better, and then a little bit better. And then, throughout the year, that just built, and we started seeing results.

 

JEREMY EATON: What was your weight then? And can I ask what you weigh now?

 

KW: For sure. There's a lot... a long time that I just didn't step on a scale because you're afraid to. You don't really want to face that... that truth. But I remember about a little over a year ago, I stepped on the scale, and I was around 430 pounds. A lot of scales, of course, don't go that high. We fortunately had one that did. So I was able to try to kind of set that as a benchmark and then work down from there. And now, I've actually dipped under 280 pounds.

 

JE: How does that feel for you personally, and how does it feel physically?

 

KW: Pretty crazy. Like it's... it's kind of hard to wrap my head around because that's... that's a whole person. Personally, it feels fantastic. I've got more energy than I know what to do with most days. Anytime I take a rest day, usually by late afternoon, I'm a bit... I'm ready to bounce off the walls.

 

JE: But is there a certain goal that you'd like to hit?

 

JE: To a point. I've definitely shifted my goals, maybe towards running. I've got my eye on, you know, completing a 10K in June, a half marathon in September, maybe someday a marathon, although that's a... a long distance.

 

[/sc]

 

CH: That was Kyle White speaking to CBC Newfoundland reporter Jeremy Eaton. During the pandemic, Mr. White lost a hundred-and-fifty pounds.

 

[Music: Banjo!]

 

Old Record Found:

Guest: Madeline Forman

 

CH: Madeline Forman has always loved to sing. As a teenager, she idolized singers -- especially Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, and the Andrews Sisters. She had big dreams to follow in their footsteps and share her voice with the world. But life got in the way, and Ms. Forman put those dreams on hold. And as the decades passed, they gathered dust and faded from memory. Then, last spring, the 94-year-old was cleaning out a closet. She found an old forgotten 78 RPM record she made in 1946. And now, with that discovery, Ms. Forman's dream of becoming a star is finally becoming a reality. We reached Ms. Forman in Long Branch, New Jersey.

 

CO: Madeline, can you take us back to the moment when you found this record in your closet? What was that like for you?

 

MADELINE FORMAN: Well, it was a moving day. We... we had sold our house, and we were cleaning it out. And I came across this box. I opened it up, and there were the records. I recognized them by I am sure I had seen them many years ago, but I hadn't seen them recently. And I was surprised.

 

CO: So... and so these were recorded, this was a record you had made in 1946, right?

 

MF: Correct, I made in '46. Then again, in '53, I made three records. I sang... I had just been married and you know at that time I loved to sing wherever and whenever. And I [chuckle] just got married, the band was playing, so I got up to sing. [chuckling]

 

CO: Let's play... I think people want to hear what you sound like, so let's just play a bit from the recording from 1946. How old were you then?

 

MF: In 1946, about 20. Twenty years old, right, 20.

 

CO: OK, let's have a listen.

 

MF: I had to go back a long time ago! [laughing]

 

CO: This is you when you were twenty years old. This is you singing "Don't Take Your Love From Me".

 

[Music: "Don't Take Your Love From Me" as sung by Madeline Forman]

 

CO: That is just lovely hearing your voice. [both chuckling] And scratchy because is the old 78, right? The RPMs?

 

MF: Oh, yes, yes, yes. And you hear the scratching in the background because that's the way it was, you know? [chuckling]

 

CO: What do you remember about making that recording?

 

MF: I remember walking into this room. There was a stage. I saw a microphone. I went right to the microphone. I closed my eyes and I focussed on singing like I was singing to two-thousand, three-thousand people. And I just sang. I remember it so well. Nothing else, closed everything up, just shut my eyes and didn't know anything else existed except singing.

 

CO: But this is... that's not the voice of an amateur. That's not the voice of somebody who just has never been trained or knows how to sing. 

 

MF: Trust me. That was me!

 

CO: And the response when people -- heard that.

 

MF: Trust me! That was me!

 

CO: I know it was you.

 

MF: We were poor. I had no money for singing lessons. And I know... well, you could sing. Singing was free. It was for me. I didn't have to... no, I had no lessons whatsoever.

 

CO: What kind of reaction did you get from people when they heard your voice?

 

MF: You know, in those days things were so tight and people were struggling with a lot of things, or the people I knew. They didn't say too much. They said I was good, nothing sensational. I thought I was good. I didn't think I was great, but at the time, and that's what it was. And they always... I always sang, and they always listened. So I loved that part. So I knew they liked me.

 

CO: But people did hear a lot of talent in that voice. Why did you... why did you not pursue a career as a singer?

 

MF: Oh, well, I didn't because at the time my family was very poor, we had no money. You know, my father, he would sell bananas from a pushcart to provide for his family. And we had five children. And I was number four or five. Well, in high school, after I graduated, I had to make a decision as to what to do. And I knew I couldn't... I had to stay home and help the family financially. So that's what I did. I forgot my singing, although I sang wherever I could, whoever would listen to me, I sang. I sang at weddings, at bar mitzvahs, oh, I did a lot of that. But I knew I had to get a job. I had to work. I had to bring money in.

 

CO: Was that disappointing to you that you were never able to develop that talent?

 

MF: Well, you know, growing up as a kid, I was disappointed in probably everything. I knew I couldn't get anything. There was never money. So I sort of... I, you know, I developed like a wall in front of me saying to myself, don't be disappointed because chances are you're not going to get it. So I sort of developed an attitude, well, so what? So I didn't get this. Oh well, that's the way it is. And that's what I did.

 

CO: So you went and you started your own family. You raised them. And now here you are 94 years old --

 

MF: Yeah, 94 years old. [laughing]

 

CO: Ninety-four years old, and you hear these recordings. How did your family, how did your kids and your family respond when you played this for them?

 

MF: Oh, well, now you mean recently when I discovered them? They're absolutely excited, thrilled!

 

CO: But did your family know about your voice, about how beautiful it was?

 

MF: No, they... no. No, well, like I say, things were tough. There was no money. We had some medical issues in the family. And, you know, they didn't give any thought to me. [chuckling] What can I tell you? But I wasn't disappointed because I knew not to expect anything. And I developed that attitude then. Now, I'm flying. [both chuckling]

 

CO: You're not only flying, you're doing some... some new recordings, right? Can you tell us about that?

 

MF: Oh, yes. Well, what happened, you know, how we got this started, we got... my son got in touch with a cousin of ours who lives in Canada. He's a music producer. He told us about a... a studio, a recording studio called Surefire in New Jersey, where we live in Long Branch, and he got in touch with the man and they got me up there to make the recordings. And what I did was I recorded the same song I sang [hcukling] 75 years ago.

 

CO: And how did it go?

 

MF Yeah, fine, wonderful! I said, listen, I can't sing anymore. You know, it's a long time ago. I don't have the control... well, I know it myself, certain things happen. And they said, listen Tony Bennett could sing, so can you! [both laugh] And I recorded and it wasn't bad, you know? [laughing]

 

CO: But what's it like, though, to be 94 and finally having people appreciate and know what kind of talent you had?

 

MF: You know, I've been smiling for a week, just all day long. It's wonderful. People are calling from all over. And the backgrounds of the people who played for me when I recorded it, they're from all parts of the country. And my cousin Howie in Canada put it all together. They came from all different parts of the world. Can you imagine that? They got together and I sang to that music. Isn't that amazing?

 

CO: It is amazing. 

 

MF: Yeah, it is amazing.

 

CO: But listen, now we're going to play... after you and I finish this conversation, we're going to play one of your new recordings. And I wonder if you have a suggestion. Is there a favourite song that you'd like us to play for our listeners?

 

MF; Well, of course, the one is don't take your love. I always sang that one. 

 

CO: All right. [MF laughs] We will dig that out and play it. Madaline, it's great to talk to you.

 

MF: Thank you so much. It's a pleasure talking with you.

 

Speaker 1 You too. Bye-bye.

 

Speaker 7 Thank you. Bye-bye.

 

[Music: "Don't Take Your Love From Me" as sung by Madeline Forman]

 

[Music: Piano]

Part 3: Florida Anti-Riot Law, XPrize Carbon Winner

 

Manitoba-North Dakota COVID Shots

 

CH: Over the next couple months, truckers in Manitoba will head south across the border with North Dakota to pick up something very important: their own vaccines. Up to four-thousand truck drivers will now be eligible for the shots. And it's all on North Dakota's dime. The cross-border plan was hatched between Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum. Here's part of what Premier Pallister said at a news conference this morning.

 

[sc]

 

BRIAN PALLISTER: Before there were borders here, long before there were borders here, there were people here, people who cooperated in challenging times. And we are in such challenging times now, as we all know. And today, along with North Dakota, and that smiling governor, we are building hope for people together. North Dakota and Manitoba share the fifth most active border crossing that exists between Canada and the United States. More than a million vehicles per year cross our shared borders, but not in the last year. And so getting back to that maintaining of that safe and efficient flow of goods and services across the Canada and United States border is important. And protecting the health and well-being, the health and safety of all of us, and of those who transport those goods, is essential for both our communities and our economies as well. The reality of COVID in Canada today is such that the variants of concern are here, the third wave is here, but the vaccines are not here yet. We have months ahead of us before all Canadians are fully vaccinated. And that's in stark contrast to our American neighbours. Our number one limiting factor in protecting Manitobans from this deadly virus is the availability of COVID-19 vaccines. And so today, it gives me great pleasure to announce a continental first, a joint initiative between Manitoba and North Dakota to vaccinate Manitoba-based essential workers that are transporting goods to and from the United States. The Essential Workers Cross-Border Vaccination Initiative is going, to begin with, truck drivers who regularly cross the Canada U.S. border. These hard-working Manitobans keep our economies moving. They keep our people fed. And they keep us all supplied with the goods that we need and that we rely upon. Beginning tomorrow, the state of North Dakota will provide COVID-19 vaccines to fully immunize Manitoba-based truck drivers during their routine trips to the United States, and over the next six to eight weeks, conclude with the second vaccine. And they will be doing that thanks to the government of the United States of America, free of charge. And we say thank you.

 

[/sc]

 

CH: Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister speaking to reporters today about a plan to vaccinate up to four-thousand Manitoba truck drivers, thanks to vaccines in North Dakota.

 

[Music: Folk] 

 

Florida Anti-Riot Law:

Guest: Shevrin Jones

CH: When Florida's Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, signed a controversial bill into law yesterday, he touted it as, quote: "the strongest anti-rioting, pro-law enforcement piece of legislation in the country." Unquote. But many don't share the governor's enthusiasm. The Combating Public Disorder Act includes new penalties that proponents say will clamp down on riots and increase public safety. It was first proposed last year, following the protests in the wake of George Floyd's death. Shevrin Jones has been speaking out against the law. He's a Democratic senator in Florida. We reached him in Tallahassee, earlier today.

 

CO: Senator Jones, before we deal with what is in this law, what do you make of the timing of its introduction?

 

SHEVRIN JONES: I think the timing of the introduction of this law is insensitive to what this country is dealing with right now when it comes to the death of George Floyd. I also believe that it was extremely intentional for the governor to sign this piece of legislation on the eve or even during the backing of the same time that the jurors are looking to find out the fate of Derek Chauvin.

 

CO: It's called Combating Public Disorder Act. Can you tell us what has been now criminalized in the state of Florida?

 

SJ: Well, first of all, they want to criminalize when three or four individuals gather together, and they try to define what a riot is or what a protest is. But the bill's sponsor has done neither of those. The bill would criminalize Floridians for exercising their First Amendment right to protest. It's just wrong on its merits by trying to redefine what rioting is. The bill basically grants police officers broad discretion in deciding who could be arrested and charged with a third-degree felony at a protest.

 

CO: One of the characteristics of a lot of demonstrations when there is violence is that it's.... what we've seen in video is that a very small group, perhaps not even part of the demonstration, are conducting whatever violent acts or vandalism, whatever, while large numbers of people, majority, are conducting a protest. So is there anything in this law that... that makes it a distinction between those two groups of participants?

 

SJ: It does not. There's no distinction between the two participants. I'll give you another example. In July, I was... I was one of the organizers of the Fort Lauderdale demonstration that we had. We had over two-thousand people to participate in this demonstration. We had a very peaceful, unified demonstration. At the end of the demonstration, the police are the ones who agitate the crowd. And because they agitated the crowd, the crowd got rowdy because of what an officer did. And so, at that point, whoever would be the one to define that a riot is happening, now, who are you going to arrest? I had an amendment to say that if the officer is the agitator, he or she should be the one who received the misdemeanour or the felony because in truth and in turn, they are the agitators, not the peaceful protesters.

 

CO: It's interesting the language you're using because this is the language they're using, aggravated rioting, mob intimidation, which are any of these terms defined?

 

SJ: No, they have not defined what a mob intimidation is. They tried their... their best to do it. I mean, you look at an individual trying to define what mob intimidation is. It's as shallow as... as the Stand Your Ground Law that came out four years ago in the state of Florida because you could say that you feel intimidated. Yesterday we had a press conference, and in the press conference that we had, according to the bill we have right now, a police officer can say, well, this is a mob. I feel intimidated. And so, therefore, all of you need to be arrested. I mean, that's how vague the language is. And so this is the unfortunate, unfortunate reality that we're dealing with in Florida right now.

 

CO: And another part of it, I understand, is that the law increases protection to those who respond to those who are demonstrating. It grants a civil legal immunity to drivers who might run through crowds of protesters. What does that mean?

 

SJ: Yup, it means just that. It means that if these... if someone decides to do just as you have just described, then it provides immunity for these individuals. And let's be extremely clear, we saw that type of actions before... those type of actions before

 

CO: It also adds extra protection for Confederate monuments and other historic property that gets additional protection. Again, can you tell us what that means?

 

SJ: That just goes to show you that the priorities of our... our governor is totally out of whack. And it's a total disregard for what's going on across this country when states were taking down Confederate monuments, because we as a country, we're just... we're trying to move from that very dark past of Confederacy, especially here within the South. And the fact that the governor finds the need to protect Confederate monuments and not protect Black lives, it goes to show where his priorities are. There's an old saying that is show me where you put your time and your energy, and I'll show you your priorities. House Bill 1 is the priority of the state of Florida, not COVID, not protecting Black lives, not protecting and talking about Black men being killed by the hands of police. None of that was his party, but this was.

 

CO: The governor said the law is to guard people's First Amendment right to peaceful assembly, but he wants to support law enforcement officers and hold those who incite violence to account. That's why the law is there. How do you respond to that?

 

SJ: I challenge the governor that if that was the intention, then why yesterday in his press conference did he never made mention of the January 6th insurrection of the white supremacist who tried to overthrow the government? So he didn't make one mention of it.

 

CO: One of the things that the sheriff of Polk County, who was also at that press conference, as you mentioned, he said that they were... what they were concerned about was protecting the tourism industry in Florida, and that they would like to see the image of Florida to be a smiling child next to Mickey Mouse, a beach trip, a boat trip, and not people in the streets. What do you say to the sheriff?

 

SJ: Well, I say to the sheriff that I need him to come to reality that that's... that's just not a reality for individuals who live in my community and so many other communities across the state. The unfortunate part is, while they want to placate Florida as being the state with... with Mickey Mouse, I love Mickey Mouse, and I love our beaches, and everything. But let's not play as if the lives of Black and Brown people are not being challenged every single day in this state and in this country. Black mothers having to bear their children due to gun violence while they are trying to make Florida look like it's peaches and cream. It really is not the case.

 

CO: Senator Jones, we will leave it there. We'll be following how this rolls out in your state. And I appreciate speaking with you tonight. Thank you.

 

SJ: Thank you. Bye-bye.

 

CH: Shevrin Jones is a member of the Florida State Senate. We reached him in Tallahassee. We've posted more on this story on our website: www.cbc.ca/aih. 

 

[Music: Hip-hop]

 

FOA: Walter Mondale Obit:

 

CH: Walter Mondale didn't really use the word "liberal" to describe himself. He worried it carried too much weight. But today, the former US vice president, and Democratic presidential candidate, is being remembered as a champion of liberal politics and civil rights. Walter "Fritz" Mondale died on Monday. He was 93. Mr. Mondale spent a decade representing his home state of Minnesota in the Senate. And when Jimmy Carter came calling to see if he would be his running mate in the 1976 presidential election, Mr. Mondale had one condition. He wanted to have a genuine partnership with the president -- and he got his wish. Just before the 2004 presidential election, Mr. Mondale spoke with former "As It Happens" host Mary Lou Finlay about why he was trying to get John Kerry in the White House. And how  9/11 -- and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq -- had polarized the country. 

 

[sc]

 

WALTER MONDALE: I blame a lot of this on Bush and Cheney and the people around them. Instead of doing as most presidents do to try to get middle America behind him and get a consensus in the country that helps them govern, they have decided for the first time that the way to do it is to have intensity on the part of their own hard supporters. And the issues they've chose to present, the war and how they've conducted it, how they've tried to use these issues to, I think, divide the country. The vice president's running around the country right now saying that if you vote for Kerry, the terrorists are coming. This stuff is all bunk, but it does put poison into the public system.

 

MARY LOU FINLAY: Do you find the country more polarized than it was, say, in the 1960s or when you were running in 1984?

 

WM: Oh, it's certainly more polarized than in '84. You know, old Reagan, he... he was a pleasant guy. He really he was trying to get middle America, and he got middle America. And, of course, the... the '60s and the war, you found America where the centre was almost destroyed. It stands out as one of the most tense, internal divisive times in all of American history.

 

MLF: So is that another reason then this year for the polarization because the country is at war again?

 

WM: Well, we had a united country behind Bush in Afghanistan following 9/11. We all knew that we had to act on that, that bin Laden was behind it. But when they shifted to Iraq, and then as these... the truth came out and more and more of what was said to justify the war proved to be dead wrong, to be as nice about it as you can be, and now almost every week, there's been another story about really negligent, profoundly negligent mistakes made by this administration in Iraq. And I think we're fuelling a greater risks of terrorism. And we've certainly shattered the relationships we've had with friends all around the world.

 

MLF: So do you think it was wrong then to go to Iraq, to go into Iraq, or do you think it was wrong to go at that time? And have you changed your view over the months?

 

WM: I thought one of the best ideas was from Chretien, the prime minister, who proposed that we step up and energize the U.N. inspection system and then come back and have another crack at the question of whether we should together go into Iraq. That was... he was slapped down by... by our administration. And I think there was a kind of a brusqueness of belligerence, unilateralism that has really... was uncalled for.

 

MLF: But what do you do now about that?

 

WM: It's very tough.

 

MLF: Yeah.

WM: What I've said, and it's none of this is new, that we've got to reach out again for friends around the world to help. We've got to internationalize our presence there because nothing's more toxic than the concept of being an occupier. We put American kids and British kids in a very bad position over there. There's a lot of things we've got to do to repair the ability of America to work with the rest of the world to bring about some reduced tensions over there. I'm not saying any of this is easy, but what they're doing now is just colossally inept.

 

MLF: No, it's not easy, I guess. I mean, it's not as though President Bush hasn't been trying to internationalize the --

 

WM: Well, let me just be honest about it. When they went into Afghanistan initially, others asked about joining with us, and we were reluctant to do it. The same thing was true when we went into Iraq. We call it coalition of the willing. Unlike the first President Bush in the first war, where we did have a terrific alliance around the world, where we had 90 per cent of the cost paid by others, here, where America's paying almost all the cost and taking all the casualties, and we're standing alone in this thing, except for Britain and a few others,

 

MLF: I often wonder what George Bush senior really thinks about this, don't you?

 

WM: [laughing] He's been awfully silent.

 

MLF: Yeah, if Senator Kerry is more willing to engage other countries to consult them and they might like him better, they might be more willing to talk. There's still the problem of saying this is a fiasco in Iraq. Why don't you come on in?

 

WM: Oh, sure.

 

MLF: Right?

 

WM: No, absolutely. No, this is... I'm not trying to say that we're in... in happy feel here. We got a lot of where there's a real mess over there. But my experience, and I've been around government a long, long time, is that you need friends.

 

[/sc]

 

CH: That was former US vice president Walter Mondale speaking with Mary Lou Finlay in 2004. A week later, John Kerry lost to George W. Bush. Mr. Mondale died on Monday. He was 93.

 

[Music: Horns!!!!!!]

 

Christy Clark Testimony

 

CH: It has been nearly two years since British Columbia Premier John Horgan launched a public inquiry into money laundering -- after reports that billions of dollars of dirty money were being laundered in the province, through real estate and casinos. Starting this week, the Cullen Commission will be hearing from some of the province's most high-profile politicians -- current and former. And that began today -- with the testimony of former Premier Christy Clark. Here she is, being questioned by Commission lawyer Patrick McGowan.

 

[sc]

 

PATRICK MCGOWAN: Were you made aware by your ministers or anyone else that surveillance at Lower Mainland Casino suggested that some high-level players were having hundreds of thousands of dollars in twenty dollar bills delivered to them, sometimes late at night or early in the morning, either on or near the properties of casinos, and were using those funds to buy-in at British Columbia casinos?

 

CHRISTY CLARK: No. And, you know, I have to say, the daily work of law enforcement wasn't something that I was engaged in. As I said, what government does is set the rules, make sure everybody observes those rules, and, you know, law enforcement sets its own priorities, except where government is able to successfully enforce them. But, you know, law enforcement did it's job and those wouldn't necessarily be the kinds of things that a premier is advised about on a daily basis.

 

PM: If you'd been told that somebody was dropping off a shopping bag at midnight containing 200-thousand dollars in twenty dollar bills and that was then being accepted by a service provider, would that have been something you thought was appropriate?

 

CC: I can't tell you what... what might have happened. I can only just tell you that we... I mean, recognize it was a serious problem in the province. And that we wanted... that we were taking action to to deal with it, which we did.

 

PM: OK, well, if your minister had told you this is happening, would you have let that continue? Or would you have intervened to... to... or raised some concern about that?

 

CC: Yeah, well, I mean, I... I... again, I can't I can't answer questions about what might have happened. But, you know, the work that we... I can say that we took significant action in the years that I was there. And, you know, I think confirmation of... of its effectiveness is that the current government is continuing with those actions that we undertook.

 

PM: Well, I know you've said you can't... you can't answer what might have been, but I do want you to try to assist the commissioner by telling him what... what degree of concern would you have had had you been told that shopping bags of 20 dollar bills in the hundreds of thousands of dollars were being dropped off and accepted by service providers at Lower Mainland casinos?

 

CC: Ensuring we lived in a civil society where people were safe and where the rules were observed and respected was a central part of our government's promise to the people of British Columbia.

[/sc]

 

CH: That was Christy Clark, the former Premier of British Columbia, testifying today before the Cullen Commission -- which is investigating money laundering in the province.

 

[Music: Ambient]

 

XPrize Carbon Winner

Guest: Jennifer Wagner

 

CH: This week, one Halifax company has a big cheque to deposit. CarbonCure is one of the winners of the Carbon XPrize. The company has been awarded nine-point-four million dollars for the new technology it's created. The global competition challenges companies to develop new technologies to convert CO2 into useful products. Jennifer Wagner is the President of CarbonCure. We reached her in Charlottetown, PEI.

 

CO: Jennifer, tell us a bit about this if you can put it in simple terms for us? What is it that you have accomplished here? What is it that you do?

 

JENNIFER WAGNER: Sure. So CarbonCure has developed a set of technologies that recycle waste carbon dioxide to make concrete greener. And this is really important because concrete is actually the most abundant manmade material on Earth. There's more concrete made than anything else. And so our technology takes carbon dioxide from any source. It could be from a power plant or directly from the air. We bring that CO2 to a concrete plant, and our technology actually injects the CO2 into concrete, where it becomes what's called mineralized within the concrete. So it's actually converted to a stone. So even if that concrete building gets torn down in 50 or 100 years, that CO2 will not be released. And so what's really interesting about the technology is that when we add this CO2, not only is it being permanently embedded within the concrete, but it's also strengthening the concrete. And this is really important because it allows the concrete producer to use less cement to make their concrete, and that can help them achieve even greater environmental benefits.

 

CO: But how much more expensive is the concrete when they've used your system?

 

JW: It's not. So this is something that we've designed from day one, is that we've really tried to minimize the barriers to adoption of the technology. And so for the concrete producers, we actually don't even charge them anything upfront when they install the technology. We install it for free, and then they pay us a monthly subscription fee to use the technology, so it doesn't have to cost them more. And then when you think about when they're delivering this low carbon concrete to construction projects, they don't have to pay more either because the concrete cost the same for the end users.

 

CO: How much CO2 can you actually recycle in this way?

 

JW: So, as a company, we're on a mission to reduce 500 million tonnes of CO2 annually by the year 2030. And sometimes, people have a hard time conceptualizing what that actually means. So it's equivalent to taking about one hundred million cars off the road for a year. And so everything we do, every decision we make, each day is reflected in this mission. We're driving forward to this mission as fast as we can. And the two ways that we're planning to get there are through, first of all, continuing to deploy our technologies to concrete plants around the world, but also continuing to innovate and bring new technologies to market.

 

CO: We have been told for some time now that the only way we're going to avoid disaster with climate change is if we reduce our CO2 emissions, that we have to seriously reduce them in order to avoid that. When you have the ability to convert CO2 when you can recycle it when you can take it out of the atmosphere, does that reduce the responsibility that we have to reduce the amount of CO2 we're using in the first place?

 

JW: I think the first step in getting to net-zero was always to reduce. So whether that's to use more efficient processes or to use cleaner fuels, do everything you possibly can to reduce your footprint first. And then you turn to the new technologies like we have around recycling waste carbon dioxide to make products. So you can actually make a handful of things from CO2. It's not only an opportunity for concrete, but you can actually make plastics and fuels and chemicals from CO2. And so that will be the next phase. And then any remaining footprint a business or a government would have that should be offset with carbon offsets. But the first step is always to reduce.

 

CO: We also know that there is... there has been great discussions, great arguments about carbon tax. But I wonder if it's even possible to get to these kinds of projects like yours, to get to where you are now if it hadn't been a price put on carbon?

 

JW: Yeah. So what's really nice about what we've done is we've been in business now for about a decade. And of course, the carbon tax is... is a ways off, at least in our world. And so we've designed the business model that it makes sense today without a need for a price on carbon. If that were to come into play, it would improve the economics and arguably drive up growth faster. But it is not a requirement. I think there are other technologies which do rely on carbon pricing. And so, of course, they're faced with... with that additional barrier. But I think to you know, it's just hard for me the segment the sectors into which technologies require carbon pricing and which do not, and ours falls into the camp of not requiring it.

 

CO: This prize is more than nine million dollars. And I'm sure that is going to go a long way to help you. But the prize, the carbon X Prize, is funded in part by the Canadian Oil Sands Innovation Initiative. And I wonder that's big oil sands money behind this prize, do you... are you at all concerned this is a bit of greenwashing because they're trying to get some publicity about the idea that carbon scrubbing is possible? That's one of the arguments they've been giving. Do you think that that's... that's going on?

 

JW: Well, I think all sectors need to decarbonize. And I think the sectors who emit the most have sort of a moral obligation to do what they can. But they can't get a net-zero overnight, so I think we need to... to celebrate the incremental achievements over time. And I think when it comes to the X Prize, there wouldn't have been a competition without the sponsors. I'm grateful that they've dedicated the money to contribute to... to one of the solutions to climate change.

 

CO: What are you going to do with the nine million dollars?

 

JW: A couple of things. First, we're going to ramp up our efforts to hit our mission of five hundred million tonnes. But we're also working on some ideas for some social equity causes because I'm sure you're aware that climate change and social inequity are... are linked. So we can't solve one problem without the other. So we'd like to take a portion of the funds and dedicate it to some of the social causes that our team is passionate about.

 

CO: Well, congratulations. 

 

JW: Thank you, Carol. 

 

CO: Thank you, Jennifer.

 

CH: Jennifer Wagner is the President of the Carbon XPrize-winning company, CarbonCure. We reached her in Charlottetown, PEI.



 

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