Out in the Open

Scandal, psychopathy and silence: Our 5 most popular stories of 2018

We've compiled a list of the Out in the Open stories you've engaged with most throughout the year.

We've compiled a list of the Out in the Open stories you've engaged with most throughout the year

In December, 2013, during Patrick Brazeau's suspension from the Senate, the parliamentary press gallery denied the Brazeau's bid for accreditation as a freelance reporter for Halifax-based Frank Magazine. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

We've crunched the numbers at Out in the Open to determine which stories have garnered the most attention from our audience. Here's a look back at your five most popular stories of 2018.

1. 'I'm just lucky to be here': Patrick Brazeau's quiet comeback after years of scandal

Senator Patrick Brazeau enters the Senate on Parliament Hill on Sept. 27, 2016 in Ottawa. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

You may know Patrick Brazeau for his famed boxing match with Justin Trudeau, being one of the youngest people ever appointed to the Senate, or as an emerging Indigenous leader during his time heading up the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples.

On the other hand, you may also remember Brazeau for being charged with assault, sexual assault and drug possession, getting suspended from his job during the Senate expense scandal, being disavowed by the party that appointed him, and turning up working at an Ottawa strip club. He's a controversial figure who's back in the Senate as an independent, a seat he may well maintain for decades to come.

"It's a work in progress, but I'm slowly getting there," said Brazeau.

In this full-episode special, Piya spoke with Brazeau about his roller coaster life and career, hitting rock bottom and attempting suicide, how he's trying to carve out a second chance personally, whether he deserves one publicly, and how redemption and responsibility fit into the lives of public figures.

2. This environmentalist didn't speak for 17 years to learn how to listen to his opponents

John Francis in Point Reyes Station, Calif. The environmentalist, whose long vow of silence to protest pollution gained him a nationwide following, now makes his living giving speeches around the world. (Eric Risberg/Associated Press)

Environmentalist John Francis took a vow of silence because he worried that he'd stopped listening to people. It was supposed to last one day... but instead, he remained silent for 17 years.

"How we treat each other was like our first opportunity to treat the environment in a sustainable way or even figure out what we mean when we talk about sustainability," said Francis.

Francis spoke with Piya about how the experience deepened his understanding of the world around him, and why he chose to speak again on Earth Day 1990.

3. Why so few people on Six Nations reserve have clean running water, unlike their neighbours

Dawn Martin-Hill speaks with Out in the Open's Piya Chattopadhyay. (CBC)

Six Nations of the Grand River is a First Nation about a half-hour drive from Hamilton, Ontario. Most people living there don't have household access to clean water... even though communities surrounding it do.

Long-time resident Dawn Martin-Hill suspects the lack of clean water may have had serious detrimental effects on the health of people who live here — including her closest family members.

"Pretty much my entire family has been wiped out by cancer," said Martin-Hill, who's also a professor in the Indigenous Studies Program at McMaster University.

Piya visited Martin-Hill to talk about the reasons for and profound effects of having insufficient access to clean water... and what she's doing to try to change it.

4. How a psychiatry professor accidentally discovered he was a psychopath

James Fallon, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine, describes himself as a ‘pro-social’ psychopath. (Daniel Anderson)

In 2006, neuroscientist and professor James Fallon accidentally discovered he's a psychopath. But not the serial killer kind. Instead, he's emotionally unavailable, reckless and manipulative.

"Strangers are very safe around me," he said. "It's when you get close to me that it's a little more dangerous, because I'm going to get you to do something you don't want to do."

Fallon spoke with Piya about how he gets by around non-psychopaths on charm and what he calls "cognitive empathy" – the ability to understand what others are feeling, without actually feeling it himself.

5. Her mother kept her racial background a secret her whole life

Gail Lukasik is the author of "White Like Her: My Family's Story of Race and Racial Profiling." (Submitted by Gail Lukasik)

Gail Lukasik grew up in the suburbs of Ohio. For most of her life, she thought she was white. Then one day she found out her mother was keeping a big secret about their family background.

"I didn't know what to make of it, because I had lived my entire life to that point as a white woman, that was my identity. And so it's like finding out you're someone else. It's not the whole truth," she said. "I feel a little bit betrayed by my mother, because why didn't she tell me this?"

Lukasik spoke with Piya about how discovering her true racial background changed her views on race and her own identity.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.