April 22: BP oil spill one year later with journalist Dahr Jamail and Mississippi resident, Shirley Tillman

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Just over a year ago we heard about an oil drilling rig exploding in the Gulf of Mexico and that 11 workers were missing. Like many, I followed the news as the rig sank into water thousands of meters deep. What would happen to all that piping I wondered? The image of the oil spewing and billowing out of the wrecked valve on the Gulf floor is now one more global icon of disaster.

We all got a lesson on how dangerous deepwater oil drilling is, but perhaps none more directly than the families of those killed outright in the explosion, and today, the people who live along the Gulf coast of the United States.  According to the restorethe gulf.org website, 4.9 million barrels of oil were discharged into the Gulf and just over one million gallons of dispersants were used to keep the oil off the beaches. 

A year after the disaster, and since this is Earth Day, we wanted to get an idea of what has happened in the Gulf area and we spoke with Dahr Jamail, a highly respected independent journalist who has spent many months in the Gulf region investigating and reporting on how the disaster is still a reality with people who live there.

In a recent article, Jamail writes that “…marine and wildlife biologists, toxicologists, and medical doctors have described the impact of the disaster upon the environment and human health as “catastrophic,” and … this is only the beginning of what they expect to be an environmental and human health crises that will likely span decades.” 

Also, in the second half hour we talked to Gulf resident Shirley Tillman (thanks to Dahr Jamail for the contact info) in Mississippi about the aftermath of the disaster and how it has affected her, her family and her neighbours.

skimming oil

In the interview with Dahr Jamail he mentioned the work of Samantha Joye and you can read an article here about her work. Also, Jamail informed listeners that a government gag order prevented scientists from reporting on deaths of marine animals such as dolphins. You can read more about this here.

In talking to Shirley Tillman, we were briefly connected as human beings sharing a beautiful planet. Windsor/Detroit is an industrial area surrounded by water befouled by industry. Ours is a slow motion economic and environmental disaster of sorts, while those along the Gulf of Mexico have had their lives turned upside down in a short period of time.

controlled oil burn

Music Featured on the program from CJAM’s library:

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April 15: Elections and freedom of information with Cara Zwibel

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Open government and freedom of information. That’s what we expect in a democracy, and yet, according to a recent opinion piece written by Cara Faith Zwibel, ” … Canada ranked last [on] the effectiveness of freedom of information laws among major Parliamentary democracies.” Many listeners will remember how difficult it has been for members of Parliament to get information on the Afghan detainee matter, and now during this election campaign we are learning that the Harper government may have misused millions of dollars during the G8 Summit. Yet weeks into the campaign none of the party leaders seem to be taking on the increasing opaqueness of the federal government. The Harper government fell over this very issue, and so one would think that leaders of democratic political parties and citizens would make the contempt of Parliament ruling a big issue. On April 15th, cbc.ca reported  that the Afghan detainee documents cannot be released while Parliament is adjourned. While leaders and candidates square off over budgets and party platforms, this country is sinking further and further into a democracy deficit, not a financial one. We seem to be in this grey area of procedural rulings because the Harper government has stonewalled so much for so long.

 We  talked to Cara Zwibel, Director of the Fundamental Freedoms Program with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, to discuss these issues around the contempt of Parliament ruling. Also, we explored this rather unknown territory around the need for information during election campaigns.    

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Be sure to read The Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s Submissions to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics. 

Sample questions for candidates (CCLA)

  • What is your party’s strategy for increasing government openness and transparency? Can you list your top three priorities when it comes to increasing government openness and how you would go about implementing those priorities?
  • Will your party commit to substantial amendment of the Access to Information Act so that Canadians have effective and efficient access to information about the workings of their government?
  • Currently, Cabinet confidences are completely excluded from the Access to Information Act, which means government institutions can refuse disclosure on the basis that something is a Cabinet confidence, and there is no independent review of whether that claim is well-founded.  Would you amend the Act so that refusals to produce this information could be subject to review by the Information Commissioner?
  • How would you strengthen the Offices of the Information Commissioner and the Integrity Commissioner?

Music featured on the program:

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April 8: Samuel Mulafulafu: Caritas Zambia


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April 12: MiningWatch Canada has published a report on tax evasion by mining companies in Zambia. According to Global Financial Integrity, “multinational corporations’ tax evasion, when averaged per year over the last ten years, amounts to a global net loss of $400 to $440 billion for developing countries.” Read more here.


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Photo: The World fact Book

On the program, we welcomed special guest Samuel Mulafulafu, Executive Director of Caritas Zambia, a “…faith based organization … committed to the promotion of human dignity and sustainable development, … especially for [those] less privileged through witnessing, animation, conscientisation and institutional strengthening.”

Photo: Ameen Hassan

Mr. Mulafulafu has been touring southwestern Ontario meeting with members of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace and Canadians in general. Mr Mulafulafu took us through the history of Zambia which illustrated how the country has suffered from the current global economic order and compared this reality with the post-colonial  years where the state provided education and healthcare for all. Today, Caritas Zambia seeks to stop corruption, rebuild civil society, and create a process that enables Zambians to control the country’s resources and the political and economic processes.

Music on the program:

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April 1: Kate Murray to the Congo, and Michelle Soulliere on Rust belt to Artist belt III conference

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On today’s program we talked to Katelyn Murray about her upcoming travels to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania to do solidarity work. She described her work with Kujali Congo, a charitable organization founded by Jonathon Busiku Kasereka in Windsor, and what work she will do there. Murray stressed she is not engaging in “voluntourism” but will work to build links between citizens stretching from our locale to central Africa.

Kate Murray Photo: Ameen Hassan

In the second half hour Michelle Soulliere returned to our studio to tell us about the Rust Belt to Artist Belt III conference coming up next week in Detroit. Both activists are UWindsor students. This conference builds on the work of two others previously held in Cleveland. In our discussion we talked about the term “rust belt peers” for cities such as Detroit and whether Windsor is seen as such in the  US.


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Michelle Soulliere


Music featured this week:



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The Lost Patrol


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