Host: PETER MANSBRIDGE
Time: 22:00:00 ET – 23:00:00 ET
CBC-TV THE NATIONAL
PETER MANSBRIDGE: Tonight. The pressure builds.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN (1): Two versions of events have been presented to this House.
MANSBRIDGE: A major ruling in the House of Commons means the controversy surrounding the Defence Minister won’t fade away. Open for business.
JEAN CHRETIEN (Prime Minister of Canada): I met business people and I talked business.
MANSBRIDGE: What’s the Prime Minister saying to sell other countries on Canada? And the Gospel according to John.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN (2): And what is in that seed cannot come out.
MANSBRIDGE: Why do these people treat a former Edmonton shoemaker like he’s the new messiah.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN (1): His words touched me in a way that I had never been touched before.
MANSBRIDGE: We investigate a controversial new age guru.
ANNOUNCER: The National. From the Canadian Broadcasting Centre, here is Peter Mansbridge.
Title: Political heat on Art Eggleton has gone up a few more degrees
PETER MANSBRIDGE: Good evening. The political heat on art Eggleton has gone up a few more degrees. The Defence Minister will face a formal review to decide if he has shown
contempt for Parliament. At issue are his claims about when he knew Canadian troops had captured Taliban prisoners. Today, the Speaker of the House ruled the matter should go to a
committee. It’s a surprising move and a very serious one for Eggleton. The CBC’s Eric Sorensen reports.
ERIC SORENSEN (Reporter): A bad week just got worse for the Minister of Defence. First, Art Eggleton kept the Prime Minister ill informed about Canada’s military mission in
Afghanistan. Now, the Speaker of the House, Peter Milliken, is calling into question what Eggleton said about that mission.
PETER MILLIKEN (Speaker of the House): Integrity of information is of paramount importance.
SORENSEN: Milliken could not square Eggleton’s different accounts about this controversial incident, Canadian soldiers taking prisoners in Afghanistan in late January. On Tuesday,
Eggleton said he first learned of it four days after it happened.
ART EGGLETON (Minister of National Defence): Mr. Speaker, I first became aware of the possibility on Friday.
SORENSEN: The next day, he said he’d found out almost immediately.
EGGLETON: Within 24 hours of when it actually occurred.
SORENSEN: The Speaker couldn’t overlook the contradiction.
MILLIKEN: I believe that both the Minister and other Honourable Members recognize that two versions of events have been presented to this House.
SORENSEN: So, did Eggleton mislead the House? That question will go to the procedure on House Affairs Committee. The committee could dismiss the matter or it could find
Eggleton in contempt of Parliament. If so, it could recommend to the House of Commons that Eggleton apologize or even that he step down. Only the Prime Minister has the authority
to dismiss a Cabinet Minister, and Jean Chretien shows no signs he’s thinking of that.
CHRETIEN: Yes, I have confidence in him. He made a mistake. He recognized that. Everybody makes mistakes in life. And it was an honest mistake and I said fine.
SORENSEN: When the Prime Minister says “fine,” the opposition worries the Procedures Committee will simply toe the party line.
JOHN REYNOLDS (Interim Canadian Alliance Leader): And the Liberals control this committee, so they’ll vote the way they’re told to vote by the Prime Minister. So really what we
have to have here is a case of public opinion telling the Prime Minister what he should do.
SORENSEN: Critics say Eggleton should step aside as Minister until the committee reports back to the House.
JOE CLARK (Progressive Conservative Leader): The Minister should step aside and allow someone with authority to step into that very key position in the command structure.
JUDY WASYLYCIA-LEIS (Manitoba NDP MP): There’s nothing worse for our troops in battle than not to be able to trust the supreme commander, the Defence Minister, the
SORENSEN: Eggleton says the mission in Afghanistan is the very reason why he should stay put.
EGGLETON: I have no intention to step aside. I’ve got a job to do. It’s a very important time in the history of the Canadian forces, and I intend to do the job.
SORENSEN: Partisan criticism is one thing, but it’s another matter when the Speaker, the symbol of fairness in Parliament, raises doubts about what a minister has been saying in the
House of Commons. In the end, Art Eggleton may have to rely on the Liberal majority in Committee and in the House to avoid censure. Eric Sorensen, CBC News, Ottawa.
Title: More insight into Eggleton’s problems
PETER MANSBRIDGE: Well joining us again tonight, our Parliamentary Bureau Chief Keith Boag. Keith, quite a day. What are we left with at the end of it all?
KEITH BOAG (Parliamentary Bureau Chief): Well as a procedural event, it’s a pretty big deal to people who are interested in those kinds of things. After all, the Speaker did not
simply take the Minister at his word, and that is an unprecedented thing in the House of Commons. But at the end of the day, at the end of the week, Art Eggleton is still the Minister of
National Defence, and the Prime Minister says he has no intention of changing that.
MANSBRIDGE: Well, as you say, a Parliamentary procedure, and I wonder, outside the queensway, what does it all mean? What could it mean? How serious is this really?
BOAG: Well what’s important here is the question about whether Ministers of the government really have a firm grip about what’s going on with Canadian troops in Afghanistan, and
the answer is maybe they do, maybe they don’t because the Minister responsible has admitted that he sometimes doesn’t understand everything he’s told by his department, and that,
because of that, he sometimes doesn’t pass along important information to the Prime Minister.
MANSBRIDGE: Briefly looking ahead to next week, do you expect it to still be an issue in Question Period or is this now off to a committee?
BOAG: Well, the procedural stuff will certainly keep it alive. If there are any other events happening in Afghanistan, you can be sure that the opposition is going to frame them in the
context of the Minister not really fully understanding everything he should about what’s going on in theatre.
MANSBRIDGE: All right, Keith. Thanks very much. Keith Boag, our Parliamentary Bureau Chief, joining us again tonight from the nation’s capital.
Title: World Economic Summit
PETER MANSBRIDGE: Well, while the Defence Minister was the big story in Ottawa, Prime Minister Chretien and some senior Cabinet Ministers were in New York City today
selling Canada at the world economic summit. They used the opportunity to tell the politicians and business people about the health of the Canadian economy and to, yet again, push the
Canadian dollar. The CBC’s Paul Hunter has more.
PAUL HUNTER (Reporter): The police in New York were ready for anything this morning as the world economic forum began in earnest. And though the police may have kept
protestors away, it seemed no one could stop Canadian politicians. There’s the Industry Minister. There’s the Minister for International Trade. The Finance Minister. And the Prime
Minister. All here to meet with other leaders and tell the world Canada’s economy is stronger than the world might think.
JEAN CHRETIEN (Prime Minister of Canada): I am here to talk about our success.
HUNTER: There’s even a federal government ad in the Wall Street Journal. “Canada means business,” it says. With that headline and all the talk from all the politicians aimed at people
right here, the heart of New York’s financial district. It’s here that money traders have lately turned thumbs down on the Canadian dollar. It’s been trading at near record lows against the
US dollar. And so today, Canada made this point.
ALLAN ROCK (Minister of Industry): The current value of our dollar doesn’t reflect the value of our economy, the fact that the underlying conditions are really quite attractive.
HUNTER: So why has the world not noticed?
PIERRE PETTIGREW (Minister of International Trade): Even Canadians don’t know the extraordinary development of the Canadian economy.
CHRETIEN: Many of the traders don’t even know. They don’t even check. That is one of the problems. So we have, and it is a message, that we have to tell our story better because
we’re so humble, we Canadians. We’re not braggers naturally.
BOB SINCH (Salomon Smith Barney): Well I think the world has noticed Canada.
HUNTER: This currency strategist says Canada’s economy makes its dollar a good investment, but wonders why Canadian politicians are suddenly so focused on it. Maybe too
SINCH: And there’s always a concern that decisions that are made might get made for political rather than for sound economic reasons. I don’t want to imply that that’s happening now.
But I think the markets will be leery that there becomes too much of a focus on the currency when, in fact, in the list of important variables, it’s pretty far down the list.
HUNTER: And to be sure there are other matters for the Prime Minister at this forum. Meetings and a big speech he gave on African issues tonight and a quick chat with the rock
singer Bono who praised Chretien for his work in Africa, though said nothing publicly about the sagging Canadian dollar. Paul Hunter, CBC News, New York.
Title: Still ahead
PETER MANSBRIDGE: Still ahead tonight, mighty mouse.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN (1): It may mean the end of sport as we know it.
MANSBRIDGE: Build a better mouse, and the athletic world will beat a path to your door. Could it lead to more cheating? And the Gospel according to John.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN (1): His message of love and truth was what really, really touched me.
MANSBRIDGE: John Dereuter has hundreds of followers, two girlfriends and an ex-wife and a dubious reputation.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN (2): He was lying. That was big to me.
MANSBRIDGE: A documentary report.
Title: Uncertainty surrounding fate of American journalist Daniel Pearl
PETER MANSBRIDGE: More chilling uncertainty today surrounding the fate of American journalist Daniel Pearl. It began with a new e-mail from someone claiming to be his
kidnapper in Pakistan. The note said Pearl has already been killed. But then a telephone call was received by US officials, and the caller said Pearl is still alive and would be spared in
exchange for two million dollars and a former Taliban official. The White House says it’s trying to get to the bottom of the conflicting claims and is doing all it can to find Pearl.
Title: Roof collapse in Thailand kills seven
PETER MANSBRIDGE: Rescuers in Thailand are tearing through tons of rubble tonight searching for survivors of a roof collapse. Witnesses say the building buckled under the
weight of some new air conditioning equipment. So far, seven people have been confirmed dead, but that number is sure to climb. More than 100 people were inside assembling
computers at the time, and several are still missing.
Title: World’s social forum taking place in Brazil
PETER MANSBRIDGE: Well, call it the counter-summit to the World Economic Forum. This is the world’s social forum, now taking place in Brazil. Some 50,000 political activists
are taking part, protesting mainly against globalization and Washington’s call for a free trade zone stretching from Alaska to Argentina.
Title: Controversy over statue of Margaret Thatcher
PETER MANSBRIDGE: And Britain’s Iron Lady has now been cast in stone, Italian marble, to be exact. This statue of Margaret Thatcher was unveiled today in London and it’s
stirring up controversy. The likeness is not supposed to be displayed in the House of Commons until long after Thatcher’s death. But some of her supporters are trying to have it
Title: Middle East
PETER MANSBRIDGE: In the Middle East tonight, there is dissension in the ranks of the Israeli army. More than 100 reservists are refusing to serve in Palestinian-controlled areas,
citing moral concerns. Today, Israel warned tough action would be taken against the group. Still, that has not stifled the debate about Israel’s military operation. Here’s Neil MacDonald.
NEIL MACDONALD (Reporter): Sammy Ali Kizba lives in the squalor of Kalandia camp, in a cement shack under the gaze of Samar, his dead fifteen year old son. His home is a pall
of sorrow, of hatred and self-recrimination. The living room is dominated by the gaze of his other dead son, Yasser. Yasser was eleven. Both sons were cut down in clashes with Israeli
soldiers. Tonelessly, Sammy Kizba relates how he sent his wife and children to Jordan after the intifada erupted, fearing for their safety. But the family couldn’t bear being separated so
they came home. In December, Yasser was shot dead. This month, it was Samir. “I went up to an Israeli officer once during the clashes”, he says, “and told them not to shoot, they are
children. He told me, no, this is how we pass our time.” Such stories are largely ignored by Israelis who tend to focus on their own tragedies. In the past few days, though, voices of
protest have been growing within one of Israel’s most revered institutions, the army. More than 100 officers are now saying publicly they will no longer serve in the occupied territories,
and they’re telling ugly stories about the things they’ve seen. They’ve placed newspaper ads, enraging the military establishment. And they are giving interviews in the Israeli media,
talking about forcing Palestinian civilians to pick up suspicious objects that might be bombs, about blocking ambulances filled with obviously sick people, about protecting Jewish
settlers who are beating and stoning Arabs and, above all, about illegally targeting and killing civilians, sometimes at a great distance. “It doesn’t matter why they pick up a stone,” says
this Lieutenant Yishai Shagi. “It doesn’t matter if they are a woman, child, or a man. Open fire.” Tonight, a former head of the secret service, the Shimbet, told Israeli television he
sympathizes with the dissenters. “As far as I’m concerned,” Ami Ayalon, “not enough soldiers are refusing to obey orders that are blatantly illegal. For example, to shoot an unarmed
youth is a blatantly illegal order. I am very worried about the number of Palestinian children shot during the past year.” Most Israelis, though, seem more worried about the very idea of
soldiers refusing to serve in the territories. What the soldiers are alleging is secondary, as is the long-term result of what they’re describing, because it’s easy to guess what Sammy
Kizba will be telling his surviving sons about the Israelis as they grow older. Neil MacDonald, CBC News, Kalandia in the West Bank.
Title: Development on death of twin baby girls
PETER MANSBRIDGE: A development tonight in the story of the twin baby girls found dead this week in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Their grandfather, Jerome Kerrigan, is charged with
criminal negligence in their deaths. Tests done on the three month old girls found they had been physically abused. Today, Kerrigan did a television interview. He says he didn’t know
the girls were injured.
JEROME KERRIGAN: It was said that there was no broken ribs. It was a mistake, and then I find out, well, yeah, he read another report and there was broken ribs and a broken leg.
MANSBRIDGE: The girls were from Slave Lake, Alberta. Their grandfather applied for and was granted custody last month. He was driving them home when they died.
Title: Nfld residents angry over arsenic in drinking water
PETER MANSBRIDGE: People in two small Newfoundland communities near St. John’s are angry their drinking water is contaminated with arsenic, but officials waited months to tell
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN (1): You knew that people were drinking water with arsenic into it and you did nothing about it, only test it further. That doesn’t help me with my two kids!
MANSBRIDGE: Officials say they were just following procedure.
Title: Approval given for sale of Montreal Expos
PETER MANSBRIDGE: A Major League Baseball committee has approved the sale of the Montreal Expos. If the decision is ratified the league would run the team. It’s not a
long-term solution, but it does appear the Expos will be around for another season.
Title: The market
PETER MANSBRIDGE: Now here’s a look at how the markets did on this first day of February. The TSE was up 42.02 points to close at 7,690.51, and the CDNX was up 14.03
points to close at 1,132.56. The Dow was down 12.74 points to close at 9,907.26, and the NASDAQ was down 22.79 points to close at 1,911.24. The Canadian dollar was down .10 to
close at 62.90 cents US.
Title: Fight brewing in Liberal party over sale of new memberships
PETER MANSBRIDGE: A nasty fight is brewing in the federal Liberal party over who can join and, ultimately, it could determine who will lead. Jennifer Ditchburn reports.
JENNIFER DITCHBURN (Reporter): When Liberal party executives meet, they usually discuss pretty mundane business.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN (1): All I can say is it was a very interesting meeting.
DITCHBURN: But this time they’re caught in a power struggle between Prime Minister Jean Chretien and the man who would like to replace him, Paul Martin. This executive member
says things are getting tense on the party’s governing body.
AKAASH MAHARAJ (National Executive Member): Ultimately, I think that it is troubling, it should be troubling for people who hold to Liberal democratic values to believe that
there’s a possibility that a party, that the party is being, shall we say, is turning its eyes more towards the ambitions of the few rather than the will of the many.
DITCHBURN: The latest tug of war between these Liberal heavyweights is over who controls the sale of Liberal Party memberships. For future leadership candidates, selling
memberships to supporters means securing votes at a leadership convention. Supporters of Paul Martin have already sewn up control of many riding associations across the country.
Now they’re pushing to limit the sale of new memberships, protecting their portion of the political pie. That level of control poses a hypothetical threat to Chretien at the next Liberal
party convention when he will face a review of his leadership. Chretien’s supporters on the national executive are taking action. They want the Prime Minister to have unprecedented
access to as many membership applications as he wants. And they want to make sure provincial associations hand out a reasonable number of applications to anyone who wants them.
STEPHEN LEDREW (Liberal Party President): The Liberal Party has to keep getting new members to remain vital, otherwise we end up looking like some blue-rinse country club.
DITCHBURN: But some MPs fear that if too many membership forms are put into circulation, special interest groups could hijack the riding associations.
STEVE MAHONEY (Ontario Caucus Chair): I believe our party should be open to people who want to join. It always has been. But I don’t think that my Caucus colleagues should be
subjected to hostile takeovers without having some ability to fight it.
DITCHBURN: Maharah worries that the proxy war between the camps will do damage to the party.
MAHARAJ: If it is being driven simply by the ambitions of small groups of people, either to retain or acquire power, then I think that they will find that it will, in the long term, backfire
DITCHBURN: Over the past week, Jean Chretien has lashed out against those who would challenge his authority. But now, even some of his supporters are privately wondering
whether changing party rules goes a little too far in this battle for power. Jennifer Ditchburn, CBC News, Ottawa.
Title: Regina is the car theft capital of Canada
PETER MANSBRIDGE: Regina is known as the Queen City, but now it has another, more dubious title, the car theft capital of Canada. As David Common reports, it seems that just
about anyone’s car can be stolen.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN (1): Probably three to four blocks right now.
DAVID COMMON (Reporter): For a small city, Regina has a big problem. Thirty-eight hundred cars were stolen last year, the worst year on record, and, per capita, the worst in the
country. Now, after immense public pressure, the province has announced a plan to combat auto theft.
CHRIS AXWORTHY (Saskatchewan Justice Minister): We can make it work by ensuring that when they’re back in the community, we’re on their case if they ever even think of
committing another offence.
COMMON: He should know. Twelve hours before, Axworthy’s car was stolen.
AXWORTHY: Of course my first reaction was, as would be the case with most people, did I park my car here?
COMMON: If you watch closely in the distance, that there, was his car moving fast, being pursued by police. The police say for all the thefts, there aren’t that many thieves, only about
thirty young offenders are responsible for the majority of thefts. The plan is to target them for rehabilitation while they’re in custody and keep a close eye on them once they’re out.
CAL JOHNSTON (Regina Police Chief): Auto theft for the purpose of joyriding has become part of the culture of Regina within a small group of young people. But where is the
sense in having us arrest them over and over again?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN (2): I will be relentless.
COMMON: This man’s car has been stolen three times in the last year. He thinks the new plan is ridiculous.
CLARENCE MOHR (Car Theft Victim): They should be out sweeping the streets or something, working for minimum wage. Put the money at their hand at the end of the week and
then snatch it away from them, and say, I’m sorry, that goes to the damage you’ve done.
COMMON: Both the police and government say if the plan doesn’t work, they’ll be changing it, and changing it fast. Overnight, another fifteen cars were stolen, and one of those cars
belonged to the government. Again. David Common, CBC News, Regina.
Title: Winter storm hit Quebec and the maritimes
PETER MANSBRIDGE: It’s a good night to stay indoors if you live in Quebec or the Maritimes. A winter storm hit hard today, and it’s not done yet. Freezing rain coated Montreal,
causing traffic troubles and power outages. Snow fell in Halifax, creating a mess during the rush hour this morning. Ice pellets and flurries are in the forecast in several areas.
Title: Winter storm killed at least 20 in the US
PETER MANSBRIDGE: That same weather system has killed at least twenty people in the United States. Snow clogged streets in Maine today. Up to thirty centimetres of snow are
expected. The storm did this to Missouri. More than 300,000 people there were without electricity today. Some homes might not have power until next week.
Title: Biotechnology being closely tracked by world of sports
PETER MANSBRIDGE: Well, biotechnology is a field focused largely on making bodies stronger and more durable. So it’s no surprise that every stride forward is being tracked
closely by the world of sports. Athletes, of course, are always looking for something to give them an edge, and that has Olympic officials in particular worried, as it could open up a
whole new chapter in the story of cheating. Here’s Kelly Crowe with a feature report.
KELLY CROWE (Reporter): It’s the science of speed. Skate suits ribbed and dimpled to control vortex and turbulence, the very fibres engineered to improve performance. This lab
footage shows Canada’s Catriona Lemay-Doan testing the new Canadian suit in a wind tunnel.
CATRIONA LEMAY DOAN (Olympic Athlete): We’re trying to save hundredths of seconds. And if the suit is going to be doing that, then that helps.
CROWE: Engineering suits. The rules say that’s okay. But what if athletes try to engineer their own bodies, using the breakthroughs of biotechnology to one day rearrange their genes?
It’s something sports officials are already worrying about.
DR. ANDREW PIPE (Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport): I have concerns that it may mean the end of sport as we know it, given that we may be embarking upon a process in which
we create some kind of unique sporting subspecies. And I just think that’s so chilling.
CROWE: At this lab at the University of Pennsylvania, scientists have created a supermouse. The one on the left is twenty percent bigger and stronger than the ordinary mouse on the
right. This is what the scientists are ultimately trying to do. Inject a human gene directly into an arm or leg to generate a muscle-building protein that will increase muscle strength in one
area but will leave the rest of the body alone. If it fails, it could lead to a fatal overgrowth of the heart muscle, but if it succeeds, it will be a breakthrough for treating aging muscles or
degenerative muscle disease. It’s all aimed at helping sick people get better, but already the athletes are calling.
DR. H. LEE SWEENEY (University of Pennsylvania): I see it’s inevitable, but really the people we’re trying to help, I can’t abandon them just because of the potential athletic abuse.
CROWE: They’re embryonic stem cells from a mouse. Cells that will grow into heart tissue, shown here already pulsing under the microscope. The goal – to one day use human stem
cells to grow heart tissue to repair injured heart muscle, maybe even grow a whole new heart. But does that mean designer athletic hearts one day?
PETER ZANDSTRA (University of Toronto): It’s not even something we’ve been contemplating yet. We’re having a lot of trouble even generating anywhere near the type of function
that a normal human heart would have.
CROWE: The goal of this research is to ease human suffering and fight disease. These scientists say they’re not in the business of designing superhumans.
DR. MICHAEL SEFTON (University of Toronto): I have to laugh. It’s, I only wish we were that good at what we’re doing that we could enhance the performance.
CROWE: Already, athletes have been caught stealing the science. The Tour de France, 1998, five cyclists caught using a synthetic hormone to increase their red blood cells. These
cyclists only got caught because a synthetic hormone shows up in a urine test. But soon, scientists will inject a human gene into the body to create the same hormone, and that one won’t
show up in a doping test. In an athlete, the hormone will increase stamina, but it can also cause a heart attack, and already several cyclists have died.
DR. CHRISTIANE AYOTTE (Canadian Anti-Doping Lab): And there will always be someone ready to do and to kill themself for the sport.
CROWE: These are urine samples from Salt Lake City athletes. Christiane Ayotte is looking for signs of doping she knows about, but what about the drug that she doesn’t know about,
like one caught in a cycling race last summer? A drug so new it doesn’t even have a name yet.
AYOTTE: It’s scary already, so it just could get worse if someone is not putting an end to it.
CROWE: Norwegian speed skater Johann Koss is an Olympic gold medalist. Retired, he’s now trying to solve the problem of high-tech doping. He says it’s more than just cheating.
It’s a major ethical problem.
JOHANN KOSS (World Anti-Doping Agency): Maybe in the future, can build wings on a human being so they can fly. Maybe want to combine animal and humans and to build
other kind of types of people. I don’t know. But this is something we need to discuss on a much higher level than in sport.
CROWE: Still, the abuse of genetic technology is something the sporting world is increasingly worried about as the tempting promise of swifter, higher, stronger continues to spill out
of the lab. Kelly Crowe, CBC News, Toronto.
Title: Gospel according to John
PETER MANSBRIDGE: John de Ruiter used to be an Edmonton shoemaker. Now he’s head of a new age religion with followers around the world. It’s a movement with no name a
message that’s hard to explain. De Ruiter calls himself the living embodiment of truth. Well our colleagues at CBC Edmonton took a closer look at some of that truth. Here’s Judy
Piercey with the gospel according to John.
JUDY PIERCEY (Reporter): It doesn’t look like much. But here it is a Monday afternoon and another day in the spiritual quest is beginning. One by one they trickle in, joining a
worldwide phenomenon, living their whole lives for a spiritual ritual, three days a week in one of the bleakest corners of industrial Edmonton. If the place is unlikely, the man they’re
following even more so. John de Ruiter is a truck loving new age guru. He started out as an evangelical preacher, a man who wants little to do with the outside world. John de Ruiter is
considered by some to be the new Messiah, but to his critics, he is just a man, one who they say has been corrupted by greed, lust and power. And his followers are closing ranks on an
outside world that they increasingly believe will just not understand. Just last summer, people were more than happy to spread the word of his teachings. They came from around the
world for a ten day retreat. People from all walks of life – some drifters, some professionals, many that dropped their families and lives to move here. For now, this was a chance to bask
on the home turf of a man known simply as John.
ERICA HUNTER: This man, John came and his words touched me in a way that I never been touched before.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN (1): The main thing that John conveys is a selfness and an openness and to surrender, it’s you’re your heart.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN (1): His message of love and truth was what really, really touched me some and I wanted to know more about that. I wanted to know if he was for real, if
he really was being what he was teaching.
PIERCEY: Seekers who say simply that they love him. He calls himself the living embodiment of truth. His followers use words like pure and clean and sweet to describe him. They
adore him because he seems to be above the trappings of sex, money and power. Joyce de Ruiter was his first disciple and his wife. For nearly 20 years, she believed everything he told
her. When Joyce and John met, she was 19, he was 22. Like her, he was the child of Dutch immigrants. The minute she set eyes on him, her destiny was set.
JOYCE DE RUITER: And I was working at a book store and he walked in and I said to the girl who I worked with, there’s the man I’m going to marry. And of course I wondered a
million times what I saw that day and I think I just saw intense focused eyes. He was good looking but I don’t think that was it. He just had intense eyes.
PIERCEY: John de Ruiter’s intensity also made a fast impression upon his Lutheran Church. It was here that he got his start. That’s 20 years ago. But there was a quick parting of the
ways. De Ruiter was asked to leave. He started preaching to just a few couples.
JOYCE DE RUITER: For you to go with your thoughts.
PIERCEY: At first, John kept his day job as a shoemaker but gradually his following grew and people started coming to the store to listen to him speak. At the time, it didn’t seem that
unorthodox to Joyce.
JOYCE DE RUITER: I just wanted to be the obedient, faithful, loving wife that I should be. I mean, honestly I mean I know that sounds kind of idealistic.
PIERCEY: Joyce remembers when her dream of being a preacher’s wife started to fall apart. It was just seven years ago that her husband abandoned Christianity and sought out a new
JOYCE DE RUITER: Why didn’t I realize that he was learning her techniques of, various techniques – astral travel, bilocation. A lot of hypnotic kind of stuff. It was called connected
and he would just stare in your eyes. And I remember when he came home and wanted to try this out on me and nothing happened. I didn’t see anything and I didn’t know why but…
PIERCEY: He wanted to practice?
JOYCE DE RUITER: Well, I realize now he was practicing.
PIERCEY: As de Ruiter perfected his technique, his following grew. The staring became John de Ruiter’s trademark. He advertises it as gazing and opens every meeting by silently
looking at the audience for up to an hour.
CAROL ASKEW: He touches everybody’s eyes but sometimes he lingers in some people’s eyes. But he will actually touch everybody’s eyes in the room before the meeting starts. I
have a question.
PIERCEY: Carol Askew saw things when de Ruiter started at her.
ASKEW: John has an affect on people when he stares at them. You could call it hypnotism but it’s more than that. But people do definitely have an experience. I saw lion’s face. I saw
Jesus’ face. I saw an evil face. I saw just pure gold light.
PIERCEY: The staring and silences are a big part of the appeal, part of the mystery of the movement that has no name with a message that’s hard to figure out.
JOHN DE RUITER: And what is in that seed cannot come out until you as consciousness, all of your heart lays down inside of that seed.
STEVEN KENT: The audience is enraptured. They’re just sitting on his every word.
PIERCEY: Steven Kent is a professor at the University of Alberta. He’s recognized as an international expert in alternative religions. He has attended de Ruiter’s meetings but even he
finds the message hard to define.
KENT: In terms of the actual teachings itself, it’s all inner mental psycho babble, some people say.
PIERCEY: Carol Askew liked the message and de Ruiter’s family man image so much that she moved her craft business from Washington state after attending just a few of his
ASKEW: I just said hey, I’m going to do it. I’m going to come up and hang around this man and see if I can be the way that he is.
PIERCEY: She was hoping to sit at his feet and learn from his teachings. But she found the meetings lacking in substance.
ASKEW: There wasn’t really any teachings. It was just going and sitting and being with John for hours and hours and with mostly silence.
PIERCEY: Erica Hunter had the opposite feeling. She settled in Edmonton and abandoned a of career painting movie sets in Vancouver because of what she got from sitting in de
HUNTER: I feel like I’ve waited my entire life to meet somebody like John. I feel like in my heart I’ve thirsted for somebody that could show me about myself.
JOHN DE RUITER: And you encountered what I am, as a parched thirsty heart encountering an ocean.
PIERCEY: Ask people in the meetings to explain the message, and no one seems able to do so. It may be too much for an ordinary person to grasp. But to an expert, the silences allow
followers to fill in the blanks for themselves.
KENT: Much of what’s going on with de Ruiter, I think, is that people are trying to make sense out of their own autobiographies. The trouble is, of course, especially with the baby
boomer generation, is that I, we are expected that we were part of the age of Aquarius. This was the golden age. This is the dawning of the period of enlightenment. Much of getting
older for the baby boomers has been a shock. You know, we expected the age of Aquarius. We got Brian Mulroney, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.
PIERCEY: Whatever the reason, it’s a message that has caught on around the world in places like Hamburg, one of the regular new age centers on an international circuit that takes de
Ruiter to a different country every month. His followers travel too, winding up in one country after another for several days of meetings. Arthur Sandburgs came all the way from
ARTHUR SANDBURGS: The fifth meeting I think today. It’s different each time.
PIERCEY: Babara Muthman has already booked her ticket to Edmonton.
BARBARA MUTHMAN: The first time I saw him in Australia.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN (2): We wanted to organize a meeting in Austria with him.
PIERCEY: Their loyalty pays off for de Ruiter. The admission fee of about $16 Canadian adds up. He’ll walk away from the five days in Hamburg with $40,000 in admission alone.
Not to mention the sale of tapes, books and photographs. But only de Ruiter knows the truth about just how lucrative business is. He is the sole shareholder of Oasis, the company that
handles the web-based sales of products and the bookings for the overseas trips and retreats. Retreats that get bigger every year. Last summer, 500 people paid $400 each for ten days
straight of meetings in Edmonton. Many of them will stay behind and keep on attending six meetings a week for which the admission price is only a couple of bucks. It’s not just the
money. People give of themselves to be close to the leader.
JOYCE DE RUITER: People would offer to clean my house, do my yard work. I could’ve had my kids driven anywhere if I wanted. You could take advantage of it, if you want to.
KENT: People continue to feed the leader with the sense that he or she is special, that he or she is above the ordinary mundane world in which the rest of us live helps fuel this kind of
exclusivity that many leaders breed. That kind of exclusivity often leads to trouble. People then feel that they are beyond the normal roles, that they are outside, that they’re somehow
PIERCEY: The message that the leader is special is reinforced by the degree of need that people bring to the meeting. There are troubled people here. People looking for help.
HUNTER: I cry every time I think about it because I feel so grateful that I met this man.
PIERCEY: Erica Hunter is grateful because de Ruiter helped her find peace of mind.
HUNTER: When I met John, he just, he made it okay to be in pain. And my whole life I realized I had been running from pain. And John in such a gentle way, showed me how to be in
it and that it was okay that it hurt. That’s all it was doing, it was hurting. It wasn’t going to kill me. It was only hurting me.
PIERCEY: But not everyone in the group finds peace of mind. At her very first meeting, Carol Askew saw just how troubled people were.
ASKEW: A young man spoke, probably late 20’s and just ranted and raved for probably three hours about demons and how he was going to kill himself and how just, and just yelling.
KENT: I saw one person spill her soul in front of the group and apparently not get a satisfactory answer. She was out in the hallway after just crying her eyes out. So people have a lot
of emotional needs and they bring them to John.
PIERCEY: Professor Kent is no longer welcome at de Ruiter’s meetings. And neither are reporters. So we brought a hidden camera into this meeting in Hamburg. The boxes are tissues
are placed along the aisles for the inevitable emotional outbursts. At this meeting, a woman begged repeatedly for de Ruiter’s guidance.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN (3): I’m all very confused. I can’t really connect with people. I can’t connect with myself. It just hurts very much because it feels like being dead.
PIERCEY: After contemplating for nearly two minutes, here’s de Ruiter’s reply.
JOHN DE RUITER: Relax without concern.
KENT: People bring to these sessions a great number of needs that they have. The danger of course is that people bring up issues to John and he’s really not qualified as a counselor.
He has no background at all. There’s no support network. There’s no formality about the kind of advice he gives. There’s no follow-up. So the risk is, and it happens with many groups,
is that people get themselves in more emotional trouble.
PIERCEY: It’s something that apparently concerns de Ruiter too. On his website, there is a disclaimer, a warning that de Ruiter is not qualified to deal with emotional problems. Many
people who have followed him for years admit that their lives have not really improved. But still, they stay. Even when their faith and devotion were put to a crucial test. Just three years
after de Ruiter hit the international circuit, his followers back home in Edmonton were shocked to learn just how human their spiritual leader really was.
PIERCEY: In just a couple of years, John de Ruiter had won a reputation around the world as the guru who was highly enlightened but yet humble enough to drive a four by four truck.
He attracted some wealthy and powerful patrons. Gradually, his inner circle included a wealthy couple and two of their daughters. De Ruiter singled out the sisters as disciples. Catrina
von Sass who played on the Canadian Olympic volleyball team.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN (2): Exactly what Canada has to do to get von Sass involved in the…
PIERCEY: And her older sister Bonita von Sass. Joyce often found herself home alone, struggling with her suspicion that her husband was unfaithful. Then around Christmas two
years ago, John de Ruiter asked a disturbing question.
JOYCE DE RUITER: What would you think if I said I was going to have two more wives? I was just, I didn’t know how to take this, you know, seriously? Is this a joke? Is it a test?
JOHN DE RUITER: Let’s being to open up and to…
PIERCEY: It turned out to be neither a joke nor a test? De Ruiter admitted to having sex with both sisters. His wife confronted him at the next meeting.
ASKEW: Then he did not respond at all to her. He just didn’t say a thing. And he did not look happy.
PIERCEY: The next day, de Ruiter explained publicly to his followers that sleeping with the two women was a burden he was forced to act upon. His explanation was recorded for sale
on audio tape.
JOHN DE RUITER: Bonita that took place and with Catrina that took place, it didn’t take place on the basis of any feelings, any preferences, any thoughts. It didn’t have to do with their
looks, their appearance, their heart, their age. It didn’t have anything to do with any kind of compatibility. It had only to do with what arose from within my inner most.
PIERCEY: Carol Askew was shocked and disillusioned.
ASKEW: If he was lying, that was big to me.
PIERCEY: At first, Erica felt betrayed.
HUNTER: I know what he’s given to me and what he’s doing in his personal life, I don’t understand. And I don’t need to understand.
PIERCEY: When Erica’s friends from the group get together for dinner, the talk often turns to de Ruiter’s relationships with the two women. Like most of de Ruiter’s followers, they
quickly came to terms with it.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN (4): I’ve never had an issue with ownership as far as knowing that nobody owns anybody. And knowing that even if I am in a so-called monogamous
relationship or a marriage, that there’s no such thing.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN (5): My heart constantly is pulled towards him as this deep knowing that he’s clean.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN (3): Most of us are not qualified to have even one. We’re not qualified to be married. We’re not qualified to be in relationships. We are not, we’re just not
qualified to be in that. But somebody who is qualified actually can be a husband, a worthy husband not just to one, but to many.
PIERCEY: It was Joyce de Ruiter’s moral breaking point. But it was also a turning point for the group, one that some think is a point of no return.
KENT: The group seemed to cross some sort of threshold and that threshold was the extent to which any of his actions are spiritually driven. That’s the concern, I think, some parents
have. If he can spiritualize what many people see as deviant sexual, or sexual un-secular behavior, then how far will the group allow him to go?
PIERCEY: The question troubled Steven Kent. He began receiving e-mails and phone calls from families worried that their loved ones were in a cult. Not a cult in the sense that they
were denied freedom to come and go or deprived of sleep or food or even forced into rigid beliefs. But in the sense their families can no longer connect with them. The Bosma family
has been missing their youngest daughter and sibling for the past 15 years. Gladys and her husband Don were among de Ruiter’s first followers. Sister Marg was Gladys’ best friend.
MARG BOSMA: It’s not even about what they believe. It’s I miss them. I miss Don. I miss Gladys. I miss the kids.
PIERCEY: It hurts Fred Bosma that his brood includes four more grandchildren who he doesn’t even know. One time he confronted de Ruiter.
FRED BOSMA: And I said John, you sit down there. I have to talk to you, you know. I said this has been on my mind for so long, you know, that you steal my children and my
grandchildren. I said we have no access to anyone because of what you teaching them – Don and the family. Lord, we pray that they could be delivered out of this cult and that they will
be set free and that they…
PIERCEY: The family’s prayer went unanswered. Their loved one made it clear they would never come back into the fold.
MARG BOSMA: If she phoned me up tonight and said that she’s out, I’d probably get on a plane and… (CRYING) And I guess there’s always hope.
PIERCEY: They all worry about her. Especially big sister Elsina.
ELSINA: They no longer think for themselves. They can’t function without his input. So he sits there and he gives them the drugs that they need. So now they’re completely under his
PIERCEY: What are you doing?
ELSINA BOSMA: You know, she’s not on a prescription pill. She’s on John.
PIERCEY: It’s a dependency de Ruiter refuses to talk about. Since word of his relationship with the sisters got out, he avoids all cameras.
JOHN DE RUITER: And the mind has no idea what is happening. It can’t understand it, but in your heart there’s a knowing that it’s utterly good.
PIERCEY: A message not to think. One that’s breeding and growing isolation.
KENT: It spends more and more time with itself and less and less time with contact with the outside world. In the process, it sets off its own morality, its own social system, its own
hierarchy, its own status, its own sense of meaning and value. When those kind of implosions happen, then a lot of problems can occur.
PIERCEY: Joyce de Ruiter has been on her own for almost two years. She works at an indoor rock climbing gym to help support herself and her three children. She’s rebuilding her
life after taking therapy for people who have been brainwashed by cults. Now she wonders just how far her ex-husband supporters will go.
JOYCE DE RUITER: Well it won’t stop until John stops. The group isn’t going to stop. It would take John seeing reality. And I’ve never yet heard of a teacher waking up from their
PIERCEY: But these people are seeking the truth from a man who calls himself the living embodiment of truth.
JOHN DE RUITER: There is a pot of gold at the end of each rainbow.
PIERCEY: A message and a promise that are in such demand. De Ruiter is already booked around the world for the next year.
JOHN DE RUITER: It’s so close.
PIERCEY: For The National, I’m Judy Piercey in Edmonton.
MANSBRIDGE: When we come back, some programming notes to tell you about. And here’s how to get in touch with us.
Title: Your Turn
REPORTER: Canadian troops have just been issued crisp new camouflage combat uniforms, a nice thatched green, ideal for fighting in Europe, for example. But not helpful for
fighting in the bleak desert waste of Afghanistan.
VALERIE PLANT (Barrie, Ont.): I am very disgusted that we don’t have the proper uniforms. Our government should back our military people and show full support.
CHRISTINE BAKKE (Lethbridge, Alta.): I cannot believe that our troops do not have proper clothing, and possibly equipment. Where are the tax dollars going? Ottawa needs to start
being a federal government, not just a playground for bickering lunatics. We need a military. A strong and proud one.
PETER MANSBRIDGE: Some of your thoughts on Canada’s mission to Afghanistan. Monday is another big picture day here at CBC News. From morning till night we will meet the
men and women across this country who offer their time for free to help those in need. Here’s a preview.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN (1): Just put them in the bottom.
BRIAN STEWART (Reporter): I’m Brian Stewart. On Monday I examine volunteerism in Canada. Many find joy helping others.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN (2): It’s about doing something that you love, making a difference.
STEWART: But is it tradition in trouble? Why are fewer Canadians helping and what are we losing?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN (1): What is volunteering? Volunteering is participating as a citizen in your society. That’s what it is.
STEWART: That’s the state of volunteerism.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN (3): Hello Rudolph. How are you? There you go.
STEWART: Monday on The National.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN (3): Okay, you’re welcome.
PETER MANSBRIDGE: That’s The National this Friday. I’m Peter Mansbridge. Just a reminder now about tomorrow’s special celebration of the life of Peter Gzowski. It will be
broadcast live on CBC Newsworld and CBC Radio One at 4:00 eastern. And it will be aired again Sunday on the main network at noon local time, 12:30 in Newfoundland. Thanks for
watching tonight. Have a good and a safe weekend.