Lend us your ears
Grab your headphones and get comfy — Canada’s National Observer has three brand-new podcasts out now.
Since we’re making a big leap into the world of audio, I thought I’d take this weekend’s newsletter to introduce one of the people behind the podcasts and tell you a bit more about what to expect from our new shows, Maxed Out, Hot Politics and a co-production with Canadaland called canadaLANDBACK.
They’re not our first, of course — last year, we launched Race Against Climate Change, a six-part series hosted by Linda Solomon Wood, Shaghayegh Tajvidi and Polly Leger on the people deploying creativity, innovation and a touch of genius to avert runaway climate catastrophe. This year, we followed up with managing producer Sandra Bartlett’s The Salmon People, the story of an unlikely detective who took on governments and corporations to save wild salmon on the West Coast.
Now, Sandra and associate producer Zahra Khozema are leading a new chapter of CNO podcasts. This week, I spoke to Zahra about what listeners can expect from our new shows, which podcasts she listens to compulsively and what’s great about storytelling with sound.
You can learn more about our podcasts and where to find them below. And once you have a listen, let us know what you think! You can always leave a review on your favourite podcast platform or reach out to us directly — we love hearing from the CNO community. Find me at [email protected].
Have a great weekend and stay safe!
— Dana Filek-Gibson
Looking for more CNO reads? You can find them at the bottom of this email.
The sounds of Canada’s National Observer
When I ask Zahra about her favourite part of putting together a podcast, the answer is a no-brainer.
“Talking to people, easily,” she tells me. “I love seeing people light up when they talk about what fires them up.”
Though she’s new to CNO, Zahra’s no stranger to working with sound. Before joining our team, she worked on podcasts for The Globe & Mail, including Stress Test and The Decibel. She’s also an avid listener who loves CBC’s Front Burner and Nothing Is Foreign, The Daily from the New York Times and an array of true crime podcasts.
As CNO expands its audio storytelling, she hopes to bring more people up to speed on climate issues and the politics around them.
“I really want to bring in a newer audience that might not have time to (sit still and) read a 2,000-word feature,” Zahra tells me. “Climate and the politics around it impact everyone everywhere, so making content using different mediums can bring more people in.”
Plus, she says, there’s nothing like listening to a good story.
“When you hear the passion of folks … the audience can relate to them on a deeper level. Podcasts are very intimate because of this,” she says. “You have someone in your ear telling you a story, influencing your thoughts. I also love that podcasts allow you to be mobile and multitask while still learning.”
Here’s a rundown of what CNO’s new podcasts are all about and where you can find them:
Every other Tuesday — next episode out Nov. 29
CNO | Apple podcasts | Spotify
Canada’s National Observer lead columnist Max Fawcett is setting out to bring back the art of respectful disagreement. Every other week, Max invites someone who does not share his views to debate an important issue, disagree without being disagreeable and maybe even find some common ground.
In Episode 1, he sits down with Seth Klein, also a CNO columnist and author of A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency, to talk about a wartime approach to combatting climate change, building solidarity across society and who needs to act first: politicians or the public. Although the two see the world quite differently, they surprised themselves at the common ground they found on many issues.
“With Maxed Out, I hope folks learn to appreciate disagreement,” Zahra says. “No one has to agree or disagree, but listeners can learn where others come from and their rationale. I think Max Fawcett does a great job building arguments and getting policymakers and influencers to open up.”
Every other Tuesday — next episode out Dec. 6
CNO | Apple podcasts | Spotify
From health policy to climate change, the environment and disinformation, CNO deputy managing editor David McKie likes to dig into big issues. On his new show, David talks with policy experts, politicians and some of CNO’s very own reporters to bring listeners into the rooms where major decisions happen and shed light on how Canadian politics show up in their everyday lives.
“With Hot Politics, listeners can learn about events and topics that shape our democracy, so they have the tools to be part of the conversation in their own communities,” Zahra says.
In his debut episode, David talks with CNO reporter John Woodside about the greenwashing that went down at the United Nations’ latest climate conference, COP27, and how Canada showed up in those international negotiations. He also chats with Greenpeace Canada senior energy strategist Keith Stewart and Richard Brooks, climate finance director for Canadian environmental organization Stand.earth, about the Canadian banks that are making big climate promises and still helping to grow the industry most responsible for climate change.
Next episode out Jan. 2
CNO | Apple podcasts | Spotify
When she was five years old, Bonnie Bressette watched as her house was physically trucked away to make room for an army base. The year was 1942, and the entire community of Stoney Point was forced to move after the Canadian government seized their land. Officials promised to return it once the war was over. That never happened.
Instead, a decades-long reclamation movement formed and has been passed down through generations of Stoney Pointers. canadaLANDBACK, co-produced by CNO and Canadaland, explores that resistance and the peaceful land action in the mid-1990s that was ultimately met with lethal state force.
In the first two episodes of the podcast, CNO editor-in-chief Karyn Pugliese and award-winning producer Kim Wheeler dive into the history of Stoney Point but also ask bigger questions: Why have land actions become necessary? Why have violations of human rights become normalized?
And will today’s generation of Indigenous youth — still locked in similar, intractable struggles with the Canadian state — be content to fight the same battles, in the same ways, as those who came before them?
“Sooner or later,” Karyn says, “Canada is gonna hit the last generation they can bargain with.”
More CNO reads
Wanted: One Love armbands. A Toronto soccer team is searching for the swag, which shows support for the LGBTQ community, after FIFA officials forbid players from wearing them at the World Cup in Qatar, Morgan Sharp reports.
Conservatives scolding Justin Trudeau over his run-in with the Chinese president care more about party than country. At least, that’s how columnist Max Fawcett sees it: “When the conflict is between liberal democracy and authoritarian dictatorship, we should all be able to rally behind the prime minister — no matter what his or her name might be.”
The hunt for offshore oil and gas is on in Newfoundland and Labrador. The province recently handed out more than $200 million worth of exploration licences to fossil fuel companies as part of its controversial plan to double offshore oil and gas production by 2030.
Could an update to Canada’s main environmental law help this woman move home? An “epidemic” of rare cancers — likely linked to pollution from the oilsands — drove Melissa Daniels to leave her home in Fort Chipewyan. But changes to federal environmental law could begin the work of addressing that pollution and its health impacts, Marc Fawcett-Atkinson reports.
Is carbon trading a tool for reconciliation or colonization? A massive market for carbon offsets is in the works to help countries move closer to their climate goals. Some First Nations have embraced the concept as a way to make money and preserve their ancestral territories, Matteo Cimellaro reports. But one Indigenous climate justice organizer says offset trading is just more colonialism.
Canada’s got a $1.6-billion plan to adapt to climate change. Natasha Bulowski dug through the details earlier this week and found money to update flood maps, prevent wildfires and help Canadians survive extreme heat.