Freelance writer and documentary film directorPaul Christopher Webster
     Freelance writer and documentary film director

 

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Paul Christopher Webster is a freelance writer and documentary film director based in Toronto, Canada. He has reported from 20 countries since 1992.

Paul's work in film has appeared on the Arte, BBC, CBC, Deutsche Welle, Discovery, National Geographic, Slice, SWR and Vision Television networks. His work as a writer has been published in dozens of magazines, journals and newspapers across Canada, the U.S, and Europe.

He has won four national magazine awards for his writing, and a Tier One Journalism Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. His work on documentary films has garnered awards from the Canadian Association of Journalists, Hot Docs, the Canadian Academy of Film and Television, and PARISCIENCE, the international festival of scientific films.

Paul’s work focuses on themes in business, science, and politics. For samples of his work in these categories, please click on the links to articles below.





Winner of the 2014 Canadians for Health Research Sanofi Pasteur Medal of Excellence in Health Research Journalism

"This is an outstanding piece of work that exposes an issue of profound social importance...The writing is clear and persuasive, the interviews are effective, and—most importantly—it fulfills the highest mandate of health journalism: to raise awareness and literacy among the general public of both the importance of free scientific inquiry, and specific issues within that sphere that have an impact on our collective wellbeing."



Winner of the 2013 Canadian Bar Association Award for Excellence in Journalism

In his article, The War on The War on Drugs, Paul Webster investigates the little-known fact that large numbers of law enforcement officers see drug problems through a mental health lens and are skeptical of current drug laws.

“Paul Webster’s piece is an outstanding assessment of the fraught nature of both policing and criminal drug policy,” noted the awards jury.



Winner of The 2013 Dave Greber Freelance Writers Magazine Award

Paul Webster is the winner of the Dave Greber Freelance Writers Magazine Award for his article Adverse Reactions, published in Vancouver Magazine in April 2013. Adverse Reactions is an investigative feature probing pharmaceutical industry pressure on the government of British Columbia, raising the question of whether the BC Liberals succumbed to industry pressure to curb research into drug safety and costs.



Recent Publications

  • With mail dying, Canada Post bets its future on e-commerce
    Report on Business Magazine, The Globe and Mail, August 28 2014

    DELIVERANCE: Facing a fate as digital roadkill, Canada Post has pivoted to champion e-commerce. Who better to help Amazon take over the world?

  • Why Antibiotics Are Failing Us
    Vancouver Magazine, July 2014

    Antibiotics have saved billions of lives, yet we’re increasingly immune to their benefits, in part because of their widespread, unregulated use in the chickens we eat. Consumers, growers, government — who will police our last precious line of defence?

  • Critics question Canada's performance on maternal and child health
    CBC The Current, May 26 2014

    Ahead of an international summit on child and maternal health in developing countries, critics are saying Canada has not done enough to meet its own benchmarks on transparency and accountability.

  • Accountability in Canada's Muskoka Initiative questioned
    The Lancet, May 9 2014

    Is the Canadian Prime Minister's billion dollar initiative for maternal, newborn, and child health failing to meet the standards it has urged on the rest of the world?

  • Should BC Spend More Millions on Questionable Flu Drug?
    The Tyee, April 28 2014

    News that an international team of investigators has found the flu drug Tamiflu of little medical use -- despite billions spent stockpiling it in B.C. and around the world -- comes as bittersweet vindication for Barbara Mintzes and her associates with the Therapeutics Initiative, a UBC-based pharmaceutical research group that bills itself as independent from government, industry and other vested interest groups.

  • Using military resources to fight disease
    Canadian Medical Association Journal, April 17 2014

    In a sign that international concern about infectious diseases is attracting attention in military circles, the United States government has launched the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), a multinational effort to confront antibiotic resistance, epidemics, bioterrorism and disease outbreaks. The Pentagon sees improving global health as a potential new mission, says J. Stephen Morrison, director of the Global Health Policy Center at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC.

  • Federal Wi-Fi safety report is deeply flawed, say experts
    Canadian Medical Association Journal, April 16 2014

    A new review of Health Canada's safety standards for radiofrequency devices, including Wi-Fi and cellphones, is deeply flawed due to the authors' conflicts of interest and lack of expertise, say two scientists invited to peer review the review, which was conducted by the Royal Society of Canada (RSC). The RSC's eight-member panel "actively blinded themselves to vital evidence," says Martin Blank, an expert on the effects of electromagnetic radiation and special lecturer at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. "The panel's position on maintaining the current standards is so fixed that it leads them to conclusions one would never expect from policy officials in the field of health," Blank added in an interview. "I am almost certain that the reluctance of the panel to be guided by biological evidence reflects a lack of expertise in cell biology." Dr. Anthony B. Miller, professor emeritus at the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health, was likewise critical. The panel included members with "major links to the telecommunications industry," says Miller. "This is a conflicted panel, with insufficient expertise in epidemiology. It ignored recent evidence that wireless radiation is a probable carcinogen."

  • Canada opposes harm reduction policies for drug users
    Canadian Medical Association Journal, January 29 2014

    Four drug policy groups monitoring international negotiations underway on reforms to United Nations drug control policies say Canada has joined ranks with China, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan and Russia in aggressively opposing European endorsements of health policies aimed at reducing harms, such as HIV transmission, among drug users. Canada also opposes the participation of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in future UN drug policymaking sessions, observers report from the Vienna negotiations. “To have a federal government get up at international forums and oppose programs that exist at home seems cruel and hypocritical," says Rick Lines, executive director at Harm Reduction International, a UK-based group. "When you oppose harm reduction you inevitably wind up on the same side as Iran, China and Russia."

  • Canada proposes new legal hurdles for supervised injection
    The Lancet, October 31 2013

    Hopes for new supervised injection facilities in cities including Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal—where public health officials say many such facilities are urgently needed—have dimmed dramatically. Under the terms of the Conservatives' proposed Respect for Communities Act, facilities seeking approval to provide supervised injections would face dozens of new legal hurdles. These range from proving that no staff members have criminal records, to providing a letter of support from the local chief of police. Facility operators will also be required to provide an exhaustive array of supportive evidence ranging from information “on crime and public nuisance” to “scientific evidence demonstrating that there is a medical benefit to individual or public health”. An April, 2012, report from the Centre for Research on Inner City Health in Toronto concluded that the city could benefit from three supervised injection facilities, and Ottawa from two. The data supporting this conclusion were substantially drawn from Insite, notes study co-author Carol Strike, who adds that the study found numerous health benefits associated with supervised injection services, including substantial cost savings from averted HIV and hepatitis infections. This has prompted Toronto's Chief Medical Officer of Health, David McKeown, to challenge the Respect for Communities Act. “The requirements in the bill are onerous, and there is no indication as to what level of information or support is needed for a successful application”, McKeown argues. “If the bill is passed as currently drafted, health services seeking to implement supervised injection will have great difficulty.”

  • Questions raised over Iraq congenital birth defects study
    The Lancet, October 5 2013

    The release of a study on congenital birth defects in Iraq has been met with controversy, with some experts questioning its methodology and peer review. WHO officials have stepped in to defend an unsigned and sharply criticised report released by the Iraqi Ministry of Health (MOH) on congenital birth defects in areas where US-led coalition forces used toxin-laced munitions.
  • Controversy Grows Over Integrity of Canada's Review of Cellphone and Wifi Safety
    CMAJ Aug 8 2013

    Concerns have flared over possible conflicts of interest of a second member of a panel chosen by the Royal Society of Canada to examine safety levels for cell towers, cellphones and wireless devices. Now, the Oakville, Ontario–based public interest group Canadians For Safe Technology reports that a second scientist may also be a problematic choice.
  • Indigenous Canadians confront prescription opioid misuse
    Past actions by the Canadian Government and the medical system have left Indigenous communities to deal with a legacy of opioid drug addiction.

    The Lancet April 27 2013

    In the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, which encompasses most of Ontario’s northern land mass, with a total Aboriginal population of around 45 000 in 49 communities, more than 50% of the adult population are prescription opioid drug misusers in need of treatment, according to a 2011 assessment prepared for the Nishnawbe Aski chiefs.
  • Adverse Reaction
    Vancouver Magazine April 2013

    British Colombia's firing of scientists closely involved in staging major studies of physician prescribing practices, and the safety of a wide array of drugs is a situation that Dr. David Henry, CEO of Toronto’s Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, Canada’s preeminent centre for science-based health policy development, describes as extremely distressing. “The most comprehensive data in Canada has been denied to us,” he says, noting that the B.C. government has failed to respond to repeated inquiries from alarmed scientists across Canada.
  • Roots of Iraq's maternal and child health crisis run deep
    The Lancet 16 March 2013

    10 years after American and British forces toppled Saddam Hussein and helped initiate a decade of intense violence, life expectancy at birth in Iraq is 59 years—at least 12 years less than in Egypt, Syria, Morocco, and Jordan, all of which are far poorer countries. The rate of children dying in the first year of life is 32 deaths for every 1000 livebirths—about the same as it was in 1989. Iraq's maternal mortality figures are equally disturbing. With 84 women dying in childbirth per 100 000 livebirths, Iraq is among the group of 68 countries that account for 97% of all maternal and child deaths globally.
  • Where the BlackBerry still reigns supreme
    ROB MAGAZINE

    BlackBerry has lost most of its reliable, high-margin market share in rich countries in North America and Europe while gaining low-margin traction in unpredictable, poor ones. It’s a risky formula for recovery. But it may be the only hope that RIM has. In the world’s fourth most-populous nation, Indonesia, more than half of the 20 million or more smartphone users are currently tethered to BlackBerrys.
  • After all the time and money invested, will e-health ever deliver on its promise?
    ROB MAGAZINE
    Canada’s e-health disconnect doesn’t stem from a lack of effort. Convinced that electronic connections between patients and clinicians will forge better, cheaper health care, the provincial and federal governments have lavished cash on health information technology in pursuit of the sort of cost efficiencies and quality improvements that were captured long ago in banking, travel and telecommunications. But progress remains dismal and Canada perennially trails other wealthy nations in annual e-health progress rankings.
  • The War on the War on Drugs
    Vancouver Magazine, November 1 2012

    "It’s tough for a cop to admit,” says Victoria BC constable David Bratzer as spokesman for the Washington, D.C.-based group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. "but our laws just don’t make sense." Thanks largely to Bratzer’s relentless campaigning LEAP is starting to gather momentum. "You could say I lead a double life," Bratzer muses, "but I don’t. It’s not inconsistent to enforce drug prohibitions while criticizing them. It’s my duty to do both."

BUSINESS

SCIENCE & MEDICINE

POLITICS

The Canadian tech company that's bigger than RIM

Mention CGI to most people and the first thing that comes to mind—or appears on-screen in a Google search—is computer-generated imagery. But while you may not know about CGI, CGI knows about you. In recent years, the company has moved aggressively into the cybersecurity arena and in 2011, CGI formed a Canadian Defence, Public Safety and Intelligence unit under the leadership of Lieutenant-General (retired) Andrew Leslie. Leslie quickly recruited Ken Taylor, a former cyberwarrior with the Canadian Department of National Defence, and John Proctor, an internationally recognized security and risk expert who had logged 22 years with the British and Canadian forces.While executives won’t discuss whether CGI contracts involve warfare, company job postings and press releases suggest this may be the case. A search of the CGI careers website for "electronic warfare" in May turned up 74 jobs. One posting calls for a "cyber warfare specialist." Another recent posting called for an employee located at a U.S. base in Kuwait to assist with operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Afghanistan itself, CGI sought an air transport logician capable of passing a U.S. Army physical examination.
Report on Business Magazine, June 27, 2013

Where the BlackBerry still reigns supreme

BlackBerry has lost most of its reliable, high-margin market share in rich countries in North America and Europe while gaining low-margin traction in unpredictable, poor ones. It's a risky formula for recovery. But it may be the only hope that RIM has. In the world's fourth most-populous nation, Indonesia, more than half of the 20 million or more smartphone users are currently tethered to BlackBerrys.
Report on Business Magazine, November 29, 2012


Can Canada reckon with its health costs?

The Lancet, Volume 380, Issue 9845, Pages 875 - 876, 8 September 2012


Russia kupol camp

In Russia’s remotest corner the descendants of gulag prisoners and guards now work side by side under Canadian bosses.

The Globe and Mail Report on Business Magazine, March 23, 2011

Iraq is a Hard Place
To read the article, click on poster above.

Iraq is a Hard Place (cover story)

Iraq boasts the world's fourth-largest proven oil reserves. The daunting risks of drilling in the world's most violent oil frontier are offset by the fact that it is also the world's most promising oil frontier.
Report on Business Magazine, February 27, 2009

Hard-Hat Heaven

A powerful alliance of builders, bureaucrats and bankers is quietly sliding an entirely new foundation across some of the Canadian economy’s most important terrain. “There’s no magic in it,” says Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty “You just want to do it in a way that doesn’t saddle your kids with excessive payments.”
Report on Business Magazine, February 25, 2010

A Religious Revival: Buddhism is Big Business in China

Phoenix is one of China’s largest private television networks, broadcasting to over 40 million Chinese homes, and bringing in more than US$100 million in annual advertising income. Although the network is partly owned by Rupert Murdoch, the world’s richest media baron, the majority owner is 57-year-old Liu Changle, who ranks 179th on Forbes’ most recent list of China’s richest people. His net worth is estimated at US$440 million. Phoenix, behind its low-budget façade, is a major money-maker.
Canadian Business, December 8, 2008

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Maternal and Child Health

GLOBAL HEALTH: AN EVERYDAY HOLOCAUST OF PREVENTABLE DEATHS

A 27-part series including field reports from Belize, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Iraq, India, Russia and Uganda.


Drug-resistant bacteria

ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE MOVING FROM SOUTH ASIA TO EUROPE TO NORTH AMERICA: A GLOBALIZING HEALTH CRISIS

To see articles from this 16-part series, please follow this link 


CANADA'S MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR eHEALTH CONUNDRUM:
41-part series of articles investigating why Canada lags the world in building a public health infostructure.

Indonesia Healthcare

Ceinture de Feu
To view these films, click on the links below.

 

Two documentary films about the ring of volcanoes surrounding the Pacific Ocean, from prospecttv

La Ceinture de Feu du Pacifique-2
From: prospecttv | 2 juin, 2011
La ceinture de feu du Pacifique - Kamtchatka, Hawaii et Alaska
un film de Jürgen Hansen et Paul Webster
Montage: Frédéric Frankel

La Ceinture de Feu du Pacifique-3
From: prospecttv | 2 juin, 2011
La Ceinture de Feu du Pacifique - Mexique et Guatemala
un film de Jürgen Hansen et Paul Webster
Montage: Frédéric Frankel

 

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Drug politics in Canada

DRUG POLITICS

Canada’s disastrous rejection of evidence-based policies
...a series of 14 articles


Canadian Aboriginal Health Inequity

Read the articles

Columbia

Read the articles


Aid vs Trade
Readers Digest
, July 2011

JAPAN’S NUCLEAR CRISIS IN CONTEXT
Should the U.S. More Tightly Control Nuclear Fuel It Makes?
ScienceInsider

Some say the U.S. government should reexamine its legal obligations under the law and add safety rules to the agreements countries sign when they buy U.S. fuel or reactors.
ScienceInsider, 29 March 2011

To see more articles on nuclear power and nuclear weapons, please follow this link.

Why is nuclear safety always shrouded in secrecy?
CBC Radio1

The Japanese Government was quickly accused of hiding the full extent of the danger at the Fukushima nuclear facility. Why is nuclear safety always shrouded in secrecy?
CBC Radio, The Current, March 22, 2011

Power in land Power in hand
To view Deutsche Welle's English-language version of this film, click on poster above.

 

A 30 minute documentary film for SWR and Deutsche Welle International Television, Germany

Canadian Aboriginal People can block multi-billion dollar industrial mega-projects including the Northern Gateway pipeline proposed by Enbridge Inc. to connect Canada's controversially dirty oil sands with markets in Asia. Enbridge admits it may cost upwards of a billion dollars to win Aboriginal support.
Deutsche Welle English web English-language broadcast Feb 8, 2010. 
SWR German website German-language broadcast Feb 3, 2010.

 

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