Monday 31 October 2005

Sponsorship Program: A National Scandal And Disgrace

Tomorrow Justice John Gomery will release his official report from the nine-month public inquiry which he chaired on the scandalous Canadian Sponsorship Program. Launched in 1996, the Sponsorship Program was created to promote federalism and unity across Canada, particularly within the province of Quebec that had past carried sentiments of separatism. When the auditor-general’s report in 2004 detailed questionable practices and gross mismanagement of the program fund, it sparked a national outcry that eventually forced the Government of Canada to announce a public inquiry. In the wake of this federal scandal, political alliances got divided, politicians fell in disgrace, and our nation became the unwanted center stage of political backstabbing, public mistrust, and backdoor illegal dealings. The Gomery Inquiry was equally scandalous, often befalling to the level of a public sideshow of personal ego and political hand-washing. Notwithstanding the monetary price tag Canada has already paid with this national fiasco, the Gomery Report will only serve to remind Canadians the other unmeasured price tag Canada will have to pay for years to come—the loss of our trust of our government to do what is best in our interest. 

By Philip Jong • At 08:11 PM • Under Column • Under World
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Monday 24 October 2005

Bird Flu: A Pandemic In The Making

For the past weeks the medical, political, and economic threats stemmed from the avian flu virus had grown on a global scale. Of particular concern is the H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus that exhibits marked homology to the deadly H1N1 strain which caused the Spanish flu of 1918 and infected an estimated 20-40 percent of the world’s population. First reported in 1997, the reemergence (or more properly, redetection) of this virus in the wild in both Asia and Europe has now created panics among the public health officials around the world, fearing that human-to-human transition of this virus will create an unstoppable pandemic.

While human deaths have been reported from the avian flu, current mode of transmission is still restricted from only birds to human. Still, European Health Commission was quick to declare last week the spread of bird flu from Asia into Europe to be a “global threat” requiring immediate international action. A less specific declaration had also been made previously by the World Health Organization which warned of a substantial risk of an influenza pandemic in the near future, most probably from the H5N1 strain. In Ottawa, health ministers from around the world will convene this week with the intent to strengthen the global response to this potential influenza pandemic in the making. If this effort is successful, it will stand in history as a precedent of a unified global cooperative effort in the prevention rather than treatment of a global disease.

By Philip Jong • At 09:14 AM • Under Column • Under World
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Monday 17 October 2005

Disaster Overload And Tragedy Fatigue

In recent months reports of natural disasters have continuously dominated the news media. From Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the US to the Tsunami and Earthquake in South Asia, the endless string of natural disasters this year has captured the world’s sympathy. Every day, sights and sounds of human suffering in the affected areas are recorded on film and broadcasted over the airwaves. The constant bombardment of humanitarian catastrophes has left all of us with little else but an utter sense of helplessness. We are fast experiencing disaster overload and tragedy fatigue, choosing instead to shelter ourselves from the world to protect our own sanity. Rather, in these times we must remind ourselves not to withhold our compassion for others who have been afflicted by such calamities, for they are tragic reminders that all things which we hold so dearly may be so easily taken away.

By Philip Jong • At 12:01 AM • Under Column • Under World
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Monday 10 October 2005


On September 25, an outbreak of respiratory illness began in a nursing home in Toronto, Canada. When neither the source nor the etiology of the outbreak could initially be identified by public health officials, media and public attention quickly grew on the developing outbreak. News agencies in the US and worldwide began to compare the virulent outbreak to that of SARS in 2003, despite no medical evidence existed to suggest the pathogen was that causing SARS. As the death toll from this outbreak rose, public fear was further heightened by the suggestion that a new or mutated virus might be the cause. A disconnect began to grow between the “real” truth and the “perceived” truth of the outbreak.

When the cause was finally identified to be due to Legionnaires’ disease, a known and not uncommon respiratory illness, the gap between these two versions of truth had grown so large that many of the public could no longer tell apart the factual and frictional elements of the outbreak. Proper delivery of public health must involve more than the prevention and treatment of diseases, but the education of the public (and the media) so that unjustified speculation and fear will not run rampant as they had during this public health crisis.

By Philip Jong • At 12:01 AM • Under Column • Under Health • Under World
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Monday 03 October 2005

Protecting Or Abolishing The Legacy Of Governor General?

Last week Adrienne Clarkson stepped down and Michaelle Jean stepped in as the Governor General of Canada. Notwithstanding the polarized political sentiment carried by this new office, Canadians are again questioning the need to continue honoring our vestigial monarchial past with an appointed head of state. Proponents who favor abolishing this office cite the need for Canadians to finalize our political independence from Britain in today’s post-Elizabethan era. Other critics are dissatisfied with the unnecessary expenses incurred by such office that functions only to promote our continual subservient tie to the aging monarchial system.

As a Canadian, I feel that the symbol of Governor General can serve not only to honor our colonial past but to promote patriotism in Canada by being an ambassador of Canadians for Canadians. Bridging the relationship between the Governor General and Canadians on a grassroots level will not only silence its opponents but make all citizens in Canada proud of their colonial heritage.

By Philip Jong • At 08:00 AM • Under Column • Under World
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Saturday 01 October 2005

Upon A Sunset

Upon A Sunset

By Philip Jong • At 12:01 AM • Under Media • Under Travel
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