4 March 2009: The Headlines

Once a week (usually Tuesdays, this week, Wednesday) I’m the national news reader and writer on Take 5 – a current affairs morning show on Toronto public radio, CIUT 89.5 FM.

I trawl the internet for hours the night before and in the early AM to find under reported stories that fit our public radio ethos of sharing (at least some) stories you won’t find on CBC or in the Globe and Mail.

I’ve decided to post my weekly stories here as well, in case you can’t tune in from 8-10 a.m.:


Open pit mine opens billion dollar law suit

Equal Pay? Mmm… why don’t we let the market decide?

Does Michael Ignatieff has a hard spot for seals?

Making Public Enquiry Reports… well, public

The National Film Board gets added to the Threatened Species list

Academics say universities  should follow Big Pharmaceuticals lead

You ain’t nuthin but a gold digger
Two villagers from the Andean mountains of Ecuador are in Toronto this morning to launch a billion dollar lawsuit against a Canadian junior mining company and the Toronto Stock Exchange.

They’re alleging violence and human rights abuses related to a proposed future open pit copper mine in the Ecuadorean Andes.

Marcia Ramirez and Carlos Zorrilla say the Canadian mining company’s exploration operations have resulted in armed attacks, death threats and assaults on local community members.

They’re suing the Toronto Stock Exchange for arranging financing for the mining company after the Exchange was warned of the risk of violence from the mining company’s local tactics.

Homegrown protests, by the Toronto Mining Support Group, against Barrick Gold’s ecological and ethical practices abroad, are also happening this week as big mining companies converge on Toronto for the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada conference.

We’ll talk to Carlos Zorrilla tomorrow morning on Take 5.

Sources: Canada newswire, Protest Barrick

Equal Pay? Mmm… why don’t we let the market decide?
Canadian labour activists and some academics are calling for the Federal Government to scrap the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act, tabled last month in Parliament.

The Act will let equal pay become another carrot in the collective bargaining process between union and employers.  And complaints would be shifted from the Canadian Human Rights Commission to the Public Service Labour Relations Board.

The government says it will speed up dispute resolutions.  But critics say it will gut the right to equality in the workplace.

Sources: rabble.ca

Does Michael Ignatieff has a hard spot for seals?
The Liberal Party of Canada supports a sustainable and humane seal hunt, Liberal Fisheries Critic Gerry Byrne announced yesterday.

He also accused the Conservative government of refusing to protect the seal hunt industry from attacks by the anti-seal hunt lobby – blaming the Tories for the 85 percent drop in the value of the seal market over the three years the Harper Government has been in power.

Source: Liberal Party of Canada

Making Public Enquiry Reports… Public
It’s been 19 days since Vancouver’s Attorney General received the interim report from an inquiry into the death of Frank Paul, an aboriginal man who froze to death after Vancouver police left him in an alley in the winter of 1998.

Yesterday one NDP Member of the Legislature challenged Attorney General Wally Opal over holding onto the report – and Opal cited the Inquiry Act.

According to the Georgia Straight – the Inquiry Act, brought in by the B.C. Liberals, gives the government the power to delay the release of public-inquiry reports and censor portions of them.

Opal did say the 445-page report will be released – but what he didn’t say is when.

Source: The Georgia Straight

Is the National Film Board Geriatric?
Canada’s publicly funded NFB celebrates its 70th birthday this year, but the Canadian Union of Public Employees says unless the NFB gets more cash – there won’t be many more candles on the cake.

The NFB’s budget has practically stood still since the mid 1990’s. From just over 81 million dollars in 1994-1995, the NFB’s budget was down to 67 million dollars in 2007-2008.

CUPE claims less money is destroying the foundations of the NFB – full-time directors have been replaced with visiting freelancers who stay on for a few months – leaving the organization with little in the way of long term vision and tradition.

Yesterday Filmmaker Jacques Godbout was the latest artist to add his concerns to CUPE’s campaign for more funding, posting a video on youtube warning the NFB is on the road to extinction.

Source: CUPE

If Glaxo Smith Kline can do it – why can’t you U of T?
Academics are calling for Canadian universities to give developing countries free or cheaper access to essential medicines that are invented in their laboratories.

The Canadian chapter of Universities Allied for Essential Medicines says Canadian universities should take a leaf from GlaxoSmithKline.

The pharmaceutical giant shocked and awed with its recent announcement to relax licensing on certain patents, cut prices and invest some of its profits in local healthcare in developing countries – impacting millions of the world’s poorest people.

GlaxoSmithKline will give researchers access to its closely-guarded patent rights on scientific knowledge to speed up research and treatments for some neglected diseases, like tuberculosis and malaria.

A recent study found publicly funded research—much of it done in university labs – is partly behind 15 of the 21 most important therapeutic drugs of the past century.

The Alliance wants universities to follow the University of British Columbia’s lead. UBC is the only Canadian university to implement Global Access Licensing principles, which commit universities to make their discoveries available and affordable to people in the developing world.  The Alliance says it’s time all Canadian universities turn their ethical rhetoric into action.

Source: UAEM, Georgia Straight

Add it Up:  Calculating erotic capital in Toronto’s gay community
On Church Street, sex appeal can be everything – even impacting gay men’s chances of contracting STDs and HIV.

A new study by Univeristy of Toronto sociologist Adam Isaiah Green finds race, age and income all affected a person’s sexual desirability, which in turn had an impact on safer sex practices among members of Toronto’s gay community.

Green told Extra,”For gay men being considered sexually undesirable can have serious health consequences ranging from psychological issues to risky sexual behaviour.”

His study found that young, white, middle-class men are considered much more sexually desirable than men who are racial minorities, over 40 years old, or poor.  Green says men who feel less desired and experience sexual rejection often have trouble asking for safer sex.

The study challenges the notion that deciding to have safe sex is all down to personal responsibility.  Green claims systemic inequalities can impact actions.  He says AIDS organizations need to pay attention to this in their prevention outreach campaigns.  And the inequalities themselves need to be addressed.  Green says diversifying the images promoted by various gay media images of sexual desirability is a start.

Source: Extra


Paving the way for affordable housing in Regina


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