Venezuela was once a regional powerhouse and major oil producer. Now, as Jeff Lewis reports, the plummeting price of crude, skyrocketing inflation, chronic food shortages and rising crime are creating a toxic mix, and nobody knows what happens next
Saturday, March 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page F1

CARACAS -- There are no bursts of colour as fireworks pop high above the Bulevar de Sabana Grande. Only thin wisps of smoke in the azure sky mark the precise time, two years ago, that Hugo Chavez died suddenly, from cancer.

It is 4:25 p.m., and Venezuelans are taking stock of an economy in meltdown.

"I don't feel good at all," one man grouses.

"It's terrible. This is total chaos," a student adds.

Even once-ardent supporters of the charismatic leader are growing restive with life under his hand-picked successor, President Nicolas Maduro.

For years, Venezuela was a nation on the rise - a founding member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries more than 50 years ago. Decades later, Mr. Chavez was able to lavish oil riches on the poorest residents, providing everything from hospital clinics to hefty food subsidies and free gasoline.

Today, the country is in the midst of economic and political chaos. Oil prices have fallen by more than 50 per cent since last summer, and so much crude is sloshing around in global markets that even subsidized oil from Venezuela looks relatively expensive. President Maduro is scrambling to meet billions of dollars in debt payments due this year, while struggling to quell violence and manage an increasingly disillusioned population of about 30 million. Meanwhile, Cuba is re-establishing ties with the United States, once a shared foe.

At the same time, years of central planning and rigid price controls have gutted domestic production of many goods, leaving Venezuela completely dependent on imports it can no longer afford. Shortages of food, medical supplies and other staples are widespread and getting worse. Those once-beneficent medical clinics are closing, grocery-store lineups last hours, and violent crime - already among the worst in the world - is on the upswing. The abrupt skid in oil prices and resulting unrest have rapidly transformed the former Latin American powerhouse into a pauper, undermining its regional influence. It is also further weakening a key competitor to Canada's oil sands.

As conditions deteriorate, Mr. Maduro is lashing out in paranoid fits. In recent weeks, the government has stepped up arbitrary detentions, jailing political opponents on conspiracy charges, and business executives for allegedly hoarding supplies. The aggressive moves have cast doubt on the timing of parliamentary elections set for later this year. They have also stoked fears that Venezuela is in the twilight of an unlikely experiment in democracy. Under the sway of Mr. Maduro, there are fresh anxieties that the country is careening toward some place much darker.

'Without national industry, we don't eat'

Roughly 660 kilometres southeast of Caracas's sun-baked streets, at the confluence of the Orinoco and Caroni rivers, stands Ciudad Guayana. This industrial region once lured Spanish conquistadors in search of El Dorado, the mythical city of gold. By the 1960s, though, the city served as a base for developing Venezuela's natural riches: iron ore, bauxite, coal, hydroelectricity and oil.

By the mid-1980s, CVG Venalum, the state-run aluminum company, was bleeding cash, and its smelter, in nearby Puerto Ordaz, was running at 60-per-cent capacity. But over time the operation returned to profit, a former executive recalled. Production rebounded, and a $600-million (U.S.) expansion pushed output to new highs.

"We were at one time the 12thlargest aluminum producer in the world," says the former employee, who asked for anonymity to avoid political repercussions.

In 1998, Venalum was on the verge of being privatized. Then, a young military lieutenant named Hugo Chavez became president.

The privatization plan was abandoned, investment fled, output withered. Today, the company is a husk - yet another sign of rot in a mouldering economy.

Beginning in 2003, Venezuela reaped billions as Chinese demand began to push oil prices sharply upward. The windfall helped Mr. Chavez cut poverty and boost incomes, largely through transfers and social programs. But debt piled up, and widespread graft fostered a new class of superrich known as the "boligarchs." (The reference is both to oligarchs and Simon Bolivar, an independence hero revered by the supporters of presidents Chavez and Maduro.)

Under Mr. Chavez, the country borrowed as much as $70-billion during a decade-long boom, and spent lavishly. According to Francisco Monaldi, a visiting professor of energy policy at Harvard University, Venezuela's fiscal deficit stood at more than 18 per cent of GDP the year before Mr. Chavez won his last election, in 2012; government spending climbed to more than 52 per cent of GDP, and imports totalled $60-billion.

Key industries atrophied from neglect or were nationalized.

"I believe that the biggest problem is that, throughout time, there's been a policy of destroying the national industry," says Joaquin Ortega, a political scientist at the Central University of Venezuela. "Without national industry, we don't eat what we produce, [and] we don't wear what we produce.

Everything is imported."

In the latest sign of neglect, the country recently started swapping oil for coffee with Nicaragua. At the same time, foreign investment has shrivelled, and a flood of cash has left the country as professionals seek hard assets in more stable locales. By one estimate, Venezuelans hold as much as $350-billion in assets offshore.

Still, Mr. Chavez retains an aura of power. His image is a potent political symbol: It salutes motorists snarled in traffic from highway billboards, urging them to stay the course:"Cumpliendo la mision!"

"They have created a lot of propaganda and fantasy around the almost magical powers that are attributed to Chavez and how he could move people," Mr. Ortega says. But Venezuela today is marked by growing repression and financial excess for a select few, he says. The recent commodity crash, he adds, only lends fresh irony to an old saying: "The closer to the oil well, the poorer you are."

Parallel realities

Nicolas Maduro is opening a new grocery store. It's Saturday in Caracas, and the city's streets are deserted. The president, doing his best to look sporty and patriotic in a blue, yellow and red jumpsuit, is beaming into televisions and over radios across the country.

Since taking office two years ago, Mr. Maduro has aped Mr. Chavez in using state-controlled media broadcasts - known as cadenas, or "chains" - to alternately flay the opposition and tout the latest government achievement.

On occasion, he wields a pocketsized copy of the country's constitution.

Today, he is seated at a long table flanked by key ministers.

Behind him, store shelves are conspicuously full. There is cooking oil, powdered milk, cornmeal.

"That's the wealth of socialism," he says. Moments later, a block of white cheese is lowered onto the table in front of him. "Great cheese," he raves. "Let's open it so you can see. This is a fresh product. Get me a knife!"

He cuts a piece and begins chewing, with gusto. Venezuela, he says, between mouthfuls, is fighting a war. "Capitalism versus socialism, humanism versus diabolical models," he thunders. Just as quickly, his tone softens. "Here you have it, a wonderful cheese.

Pass it out in the front row with a banana that's over there. Marvellous!"

Before the broadcast cuts to a dairy farm (the source of the cheese), Mr. Maduro reflects, to no one in particular, "You know, with a little Andean bread and a hot coffee and this cheese, we can be the whole afternoon over here."

Outside, chronic shortages and daily shop queues belie his rhetoric. In fact, some government-run grocery stores have taken to moving the long lines of waiting customers to underground parking garages - in an attempt to stop people from tweeting pictures that contradict official assurances that shortages are rare.

Fingerprint scanners, first rolled out last October, are increasingly used to enforce the rationing of basic price-controlled items, including milk, rice, coffee, toothpaste, chicken and detergent.

Signs posted at some stores indicate which days people can purchase goods: Your shopping day is determined by the last digit on your national identification card.

Such policies prevent people from stocking up on particular items. Shoppers can buy just one kilogram of powdered milk a week, for example; locals say the restrictions only lengthen queues and wait times.

"I feel that people are blind.

They don't get what we're going through," says "Carlota," 63, a resident of a slum called the 23rd of January (its name refers to the date of the 1958 coup d'état that overthrew dictator Marcos Perez Jimenez). One of dozens of people lining up for laundry soap in the rain one recent morning, Carlota had left her post at a government bank without permission to do so, so did not want to use her real name.

The shortages extend far beyond food and laundry detergent. Tal Cual, a daily opposition newspaper, recently fired 50 per cent of its staff and slashed its print run to once a week, due partly to shortages of newsprint, says its editor, Xabier Coscojuela.

The health-care system, hailed by supporters as one of Mr. Chavez's triumphs, is crumbling. The University Hospital in Caracas - with 1,200 beds, it is Venezuela's largest - is grappling with shortages of key supplies. When The Globe and Mail visited earlier this month, there were no surgical gloves, medical sponges or antibiotics, and anesthetic was running out. Nor was there basic equipment needed to perform heart surgeries, according to two cardiovascular specialists there.

Amid the chaos, doctors say colleagues are decamping to Chile, Colombia, Australia, Canada, the U.S. and Spain. Those who remain say they are effectively on strike.

"Patients are dying because of the lack of supplies" and delayed procedures, says Isaubett Yajure Mendez, a third-year resident on the unit. As of mid-February, when heart surgeries stopped completely, the university hospital had performed only 15 procedures this year.

Gaming the system

Street vendors jostle in the shadow of diesel-spewing buses outside the Petare metro station, a gateway to a slum on the capital's outskirts. The roadside flea market unfurls in a sea of flip-flops, leather wallets, clothing and cheap jewellery.

Here, too, are the fruits of the country's rigid currency controls.

An array of products, from diapers to hand soap, fetch at least 10 times regulated rates. Three condoms cost more than does a kilogram of chicken.

Venezuela's inflation rate has soared to roughly 70 per cent, among the world's highest. Official rates start at 6.3 bolivars to the U.S. dollar (when, for instance the government is importing goods) but have hit up to 193 bolivars to the dollar, under a new exchange platform recently launched. The black-market rate, meanwhile, was at 280 during my visit there this month. This mess leads to massive price distortions and is causing private investment to atrophy.

It also means that vast sums can be earned by those willing to manipulate the system. Venezuela's substantial food subsidies have fuelled smuggling with neighbouring Colombia, intensifying shortages in western cities such as Maracaibo, residents there say.

In February, Mr. Maduro's government introduced a new exchange platform called Simadi, in a bid to combat the black market. But that so-called Marginal Currency System is far from ideal, those with knowledge of it say.

Despite promises that the new rate would be free-floating, the government remains stingy in doling out U.S. dollars.

"The ideal thing to do is to not have any type of control," says Jorge Roig, president of the Venezuelan Federation of Chambers of Commerce, which represents private businesses, during an interview at his Caracas office. "But we understand that the political reasons for that to happen are not favourable right now."

Critics blame the complex system for squeezing profits and worsening shortages. For its part, the government accuses business owners of hoarding goods, smuggling and price gouging, as part of an "economic war" aimed at sabotaging the country. As recently as last month, two executives at a major pharmacy chain were arrested and charged with "economic destabilization."

The currency regime has forced some businesses to take extraordinary measures. To maintain stocks of everything from milk to coffee and macadamia nuts at his Caracas café, Carlos Avila pays farmers far more than the government-controlled prices.

For cacao, he pays 550 bolivars a kilogram; that compares to the officially decreed price of 35 bolivars. Coffee is regulated at 95 bolivars a kilo; Mr. Avila pays 300.

Because distributing green coffee beans is illegal, his supply trucks are regularly harassed by government soldiers seeking bribes. "The people who wrote the law are inept," he scoffs, sitting at a small corner table in Franca Coffeecakes in Caracas's Las Mercedes neighbourhood, one of three locations the 38-year-old owns in the city.

Years of rigid price controls and central planning ensure espresso is cheap in cities, while bleeding farmers of profit, Mr. Avila maintains. As a result, he says that many farmers have given up entirely, migrating in massive numbers from rural communities to urban barrios, exacerbating poverty.

It is a cycle that Mr. Avila knows well. In 2013, an employee's two sons were incarcerated. A year later, one of the boys was gunned down in a gangland shooting.

Their mother lived in one of the capital's sprawling slums: Her own parents had farmed cacao but didn't earn enough money to live, and so had moved to the city.

Her son's death marked a turning point for the company and for Mr.

Avila personally, he says, now haunted by a question: What if the mother's parents had never left the fields?

"If we shift our vision of purchasing supplies toward rural communities, there is a bigger chance, even though it's smallscale, that we can prevent that situation," he says over the soft clink of cutlery scraping on dishes.

He is fighting strong currents, he acknowledges: Venezuela's economic incentives are massively distorted, and paying more than government-mandated prices isn't always enough to keep farmers growing their agricultural crops. Two growers whom Mr. Avila recently met have swapped cacao and coffee for caco and marijuana, underscoring a stark challenge.

"If we as a nation are not willing to pay our growers for their green coffee the amount of money they would get for caco," the entrepreneur says, "basically we're going to have a very, very fucked-up society."

The bottom of the oil barrel

Those shortages and currency struggles are set against the sharp plunge in global oil prices. The commodity accounts for 96 per cent of Venezuelan exports, and generated some $78-billion in hard currency in 2013.

The central bank estimates a minimum oil price of $117 a barrel is needed if the country is to make ends meet; among other expenses are billions in debt payments due this year. But the price of Venezuelan oil is expected to average just $44 a barrel this year, according to economic-research firm Ecoanalitica C.A., leaving an estimated $33-billion hole in the government's budget.

Once an industry leader, Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), the nationally owned oil and natural-gas company, is now a bloated mess, says Jose Toro Hardy, who left the organization as Mr.

Chavez came to power. Its mandate has spread to include sectors that have little to do with petroleum, among them social housing. "They are doing everything," Mr. Hardy says, "but producing oil."

The company is burdened by debt, and daily production has fallen precipitously, to about 2.6 million barrels, down from a peak of roughly 3.3 million barrels in 2005. U.S. imports of Venezuelan crude oil and petroleum products are down 49 per cent from a decade ago; they sat at about 800,000 barrels a day in 2013.

Locally, President Maduro has so far balked at raising the price of gasoline - hefty subsidies mean it is effectively free - for fear of inciting a popular backlash.

The oil industry's decay mirrors the steady decline of Venezuela's economy, which has been gutted by years of central planning; the International Monetary Fund projects it will contract by 7 per cent this year.

Even so, Venezuela still ranks as the fourth-largest supplier of crude to the U.S. market. The hope is that PDVSA can reverse years of missteps and dwindling investment in maintenance and production. There are signs the company is changing tack, giving minority partners more financial and operational control in joint ventures. Some employees with overtly political roles have been let go, Reuters reported this month.

At the same time, however, the government is facing dozens of claims demanding compensation for billions in assets seized during a wave of nationalizations led by Mr. Chavez. The former president created PetroCaribe in 2005 to foster support among Venezuela's neighbours by selling oil on the cheap, letting them finance up to 60 per cent of their purchases at preferential rates over 25 years.

Now, some of those deals are being refinanced to drum up cash.

Analysts say the strategy stands to weaken Venezuela's stature in Latin America. Meanwhile, falling oil prices make such deals less crucial to the country's neighbours.

"I think it's definitely seen its efforts to grow its influence considerably constrained," says Harold Trinkunas, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. "You're not seeing any language coming out of Venezuela about spreading 21st-century socialism or extending the revolution or any of these things ... that's by and large disappeared."

The refinancings are helping to plug a short-term gap, but sweetheart deals on oil sales mean that Venezuela is collecting far less than it is owed. A recent deal with the Dominican Republic raised just $1.9-billion out of a $4.1-billion debt owed by that country, for example. That $1.9-billion added to the $2.5-billion generated by a recent debt issuance by Citgo Petroleum Corp., PDVSA's refining arm. (Venezuela had $24.2-billion in international cash reserves as of the end of February, according to Barclays PLC.)

How such windfalls will get spent is an open question. About $5.1-billion of PDVSA debt is due to creditors in the fall, heaping more financial pressure on the cash-strapped government at the worst possible time. "Our main concern is that food shortages are getting worse every day," says Asdrubal Oliveros, director of Ecoanalitica. "The temptation for the government to use those resources in order to buy products and not pay debt is huge."

Ripple effects

Venezuela's shrinking oil output has been Canada's gain. PDVSA has withered to such a degree that its Citgo refinery outside Chicago is now among the largest buyers of oil-sands crude. And Canadian pipeline giant TransCanada Corp. has pointed to that trend in order to bolster support in the U.S. for its stalled Keystone XL project, insisting that the Albertato-Texas pipeline would offset dwindling Latin American imports to the key Gulf Coast market.

The Canadian energy push comes amid an escalating diplomatic spat between Washington and Caracas, and as the U.S. government seeks to rebuild ties with Cuba after years of enmity.

The White House this month declared Venezuela a threat to national security, and ordered sanctions on seven officials with ties to President Maduro's government, citing concerns over human-rights violations. The move came after Venezuela gave the U.S. Embassy in Caracas 15 days to reduce its staff to 17 from 100. Venezuela has also placed visa restrictions on U.S. citizens travelling to the country.

In 2008, the Assembly of First Nations sought to form a "strategic" alliance with Venezuela as part of a campaign to get the government of Stephen Harper to sign the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. But a hoped-for visit from Mr. Chavez never materialized. Today, relations between the two countries are largely dormant.

In February, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson expressed concern over a decision by the Venezuelan government to authorize the use of lethal force against protesters, a largely symbolic move.

Violence on the rise

The bodies arrive in rickety cargo vans; some of those vehicles are held together by tape.

It is Monday at the morgue in the Caracas neighbourhood of Bello Monte. The morgue was once a social club, owned by one of Venezuela's largest distillers.

Fans on the building's air conditioners sit motionless in the dry morning heat. A pungent stench lingers between parked cars, and wafts over families who seek the shade of nearby jabillo trees.

"The most beautiful crown is the one that justice gives," a nearby plaque proclaims. It rests near a bronze bust of Simon Bolivar, whose image rivals that of Chavez as a propaganda tool.

For many, it is a hollow sentiment. Officially, Venezuela's murder rate sits at 39 per 100,000 inhabitants. But convictions are rare, and the government is widely suspected of massaging data, when it reports figures at all.

"They don't exist," says Sandra Guerrero, who has documented the bloodshed for 20 years as a crime reporter for El Nacional, one of the last vestiges here of a free press. "There's no official numbers."

Outside estimates paint a grim portrait. Last year, the widely tracked Venezuelan Observatory of Violence counted 24,980 violent deaths, and pegged the murder rate at a "conservative" 82 per 100,000 inhabitants - up from 79 murders per 100,000 in 2013, and among the highest in South America. (In Canada, there are 1.44 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.)

As did his predecessor, President Maduro has accused critics of inflating numbers to stoke fear.

But data from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) show Venezuela's murder rate accelerating markedly over the past decade - even as violence in neighbouring Brazil and Colombia has eased - roughly doubling from 2000 to 2012.

Much of the violence is linked to the vast quantities of cocaine, heroin and marijuana that regularly pass through Venezuela from Columbia on their way to markets in North America and Europe. Latin American experts and critics of the government also blame widespread impunity and corrupt policing for perpetuating violence between rival gangs.

Amnesty International this week said it was concerned about political interference in the justice system, as well as an escalation in arbitrary detentions and statesponsored violence, more than one year after clashes between police and largely middle-class anti-government protesters left 43 people dead.

In February, a 14-year-old student was shot dead by police during a protest in the western city of San Cristobal, triggering another wave of demonstrations. The incident came mere weeks after the government passed a new law authorizing the use of deadly force against demonstrators.

The widespread lawlessness feeds paranoia in the capital, where 3.5 million people live. In Caracas's superrich enclaves, diplomats and government officials live in walled compounds topped with razor wire. In many areas, locals rarely venture out past 8 p.m. for fear of being mugged or kidnapped. Drivers are regularly robbed at gunpoint in the city's stifling traffic, and so car windows are tinted deep black to hide the telltale glow of iPhones and other valuable gadgets.

"Every day you can see how people get killed from 10 or 20 shots," says Ms. Guerrero, the journalist. "When there's a lot of bodies, they don't have enough time in one day to do all the autopsies."

Democracy at risk

They came in full riot gear, armed with assault rifles.

In a matter of minutes one day last month, soldiers from the Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional, Venezuela's secret service, smashed a door with a battering ram at suite 606 in an office in Caracas's tony Chacao neighbourhood. They vanished just as quickly, taking Antonio Ledezma, Caracas's mayor, who now stands accused of plotting a coup against the government.

"They kidnapped him, from this very same office," Mitzy de Ledezma, his wife, recalls in a small meeting room only slightly larger than the cell that the mayor now occupies at Ramo Verde military prison.

The detention followed the arrest last year of opposition figure Leopoldo Lopez, sparking condemnation from rights groups and the U.S. government.

Some opposition leaders, fearing the government crackdown is a prelude to something more ominous, are pressing for a revolt.

"We are facing a true national emergency," says Maria Corina Machado, a former congresswoman who now leads an upstart right-wing movement called Vente Venezuela.

But others see Mr. Ledezma's arrest as an attempt to goad protesters into the streets, providing cover for delaying parliamentary elections set for later this year.

The opposition remains divided following last year's deadly clashes. Henrique Capriles, who was narrowly defeated by Mr. Maduro in the 2013 presidential election, has urged caution.

It's unclear what happens next.

No firm date is set for the vote.

Meanwhile, U.S. sanctions on several Venezuelan lawmakers appear to have backfired, bolstering support for Mr. Maduro and his governing Socialist Party. On Twitter and state-run television broadcasts, the president has stridently denounced the measures as an attempt to topple his government. This month, citing a nebulous "imperialist" threat, he obtained decree powers from Venezuela's parliament for the rest of the year, a step the opposition decried as a power grab.

Some fear a repeat of the 1989 revolt called the Caracazo, a wave of looting and protests that swept the country after the government raised prices on some goods to cope with sinking oil revenues.

Thousands were killed in a government purge, setting the stage for Mr. Chavez's botched 1992 coup and, ultimately, his triumph during elections six years later.

Even hard-line leftists are growing nervous. There are "authoritarian risks" with Mr. Maduro in power, says Nicmer Evans, of the faction Socialist Tide. "He has lost the capacity to connect with peoples' needs, and this generates fear."

Marco Lina has no time to be afraid. Her days are consumed in an endless search for basic consumer goods. "Maybe at one store I can get soap. At another I can get toilet paper," the 52-year-old says, pausing outside a Portuguese grocery shop in Caracas's La Florida neighbourhood.

It's mid-afternoon, and a steady trickle of customers is buzzed in and out through a heavily barred door. The store is blocks from the towering headquarters of the national oil company, and has been robbed five times in two years. The owner says he is considering shutting for good. The numbers don't work, he says. Still, he is optimistic things will change for the better.

Ms. Lina laughs as she hears this and calls back over her shoulder: "Dream on! Dream on!"

Associated Graphic

Photography by Natalie Keyssar

Opposition politician Maria Corina Machado is shown with supporters at a protest last month marking the anniversary of the country's first major anti-government demonstration.

Thousands of employees and supporters of the national oil company PDVSA attended a recent rally against imperialism.

A patient holds a bag containing food and water that her sister brought her while she waits for care in a hospital in Caracas. Doctors have reported debilitating shortages of supplies - sheets, food, surgical gloves, antibiotics - needed to care for patients. 'Patients are dying because of the lack of supplies,' one resident at The University Hospital in Caracas said.for patients. 'Patients are dying because of the lack of supplies,' one resident at The University Hospital in Caracas said.

A protester is arrested by police in Chacao, a subdivision of Caracas, last month at a demonstration marking the anniversary of major demonstration held last year.

Chronic shortages of basic goods in grocery stores is a reality in many parts of Venezuela.

In the sprawling outdoor market of Petare, vendors sell toilet paper, detergent, and other scarce supplies, often at a markup.

Behind the façade
A number of the financial pledges the Royal Ontario Museum promoted, and banked on, as it built its signature piece of architecture have not fully materialized. Meanwhile, taxpayers have had to fill in the gap
Saturday, March 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A12

In the fall of 2006, as construction workers were putting the finishing touches on Toronto's most polarizing piece of architecture - the Royal Ontario Museum's Michael Lee-Chin Crystal - administrators were scrambling to raise more money.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, which had lent the museum more than $72-million to finance the Crystal, was concerned that charitable pledges to the ROM were not keeping pace with its skyrocketing costs. One of Canada's wealthiest citizens was invited to a meeting where museum officials pleaded for more money.

"We really need pledges," a fundraiser told the patron. "We don't care how long you take to pay it off."

A number of the pledges that the museum promoted, and banked on, during the peak fundraising years for the $300-million renovation have not fully materialized, a Globe and Mail investigation has found. Since then, Ontario taxpayers have assumed the debt the ROM initially owed to CIBC and filled a $23-million void left by these donors - all of whom were given substantial recognition for pledges that, a decade later, remain outstanding.

These unpaid donations - which the ROM promoted as "gifts received" - have triggered many problems: The museum has incurred penalties for missed loan payments and paid more interest than it envisioned. On top of that, the museum's debt threatens to discourage new donors who are reluctant to fund the lingering costs of a long-finished project.

The money trickling in has arrived at a slower pace than the ROM once anticipated; 2015 marks the first time in five years that the museum has not had to defer part of its annual payment to the province.

This financial burden stems from the museum's reliance on charitable pledges that were anything but firm, Ontario government records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show.

These documents, as well as more than a dozen interviews with officials close to the ROM, have lifted the lid on the secretive world of big-money philanthropy, revealing a fundraising campaign that at times placed greater emphasis on the perception that money was being raised than the actual collection of funds. In the dozen years since breaking ground for the Crystal, the ROM has struggled to pay off the debt on a striking - and, to some minds, unsightly - steel-and-glass creation bursting onto Bloor Street.

It is not unusual for donors to take several years to honour significant pledges. It is rare, however, for one of the country's most prominent cultural institutions - one that houses Canada's largest museum collection - to have so many uncollected donations for so many years.

"In my experience, I have not heard of such large pledges going unfulfilled in Canadian philanthropy," said Don Johnson, a Toronto philanthropist who sits on the boards of four charitable foundations, including the Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation.

The museum refused to discuss the identities of donors with outstanding pledges, but several sources close to the museum agreed to name names in interviews. Some said they were increasingly uncomfortable with the public recognition these donors received; others said they believed the museum was doing a disservice to other donors. The Globe and Mail was a sponsor of the renovation and provided free advertising space for more than two years, valued at more than $2-million.

One outstanding pledge came from Shreyas Ajmera, a foodindustry magnate who made part of his fortune with a baking company. A photograph of Mr. Ajmera and his wife is featured on a wallsized picture, located near the museum's entrance, celebrating the ROM's "New Century Founders" - people who promised more than $5-million to the campaign to renovate the museum. In 2008, the ROM named a gallery of international artifacts after the couple.

As of the beginning of this year, Mr. Ajmera had paid no more than a small portion of the money he pledged in 2006, five sources close to the museum said.

In an interview in February, Mr. Ajmera declined to specify how much of his $5-million pledge he had donated to the ROM. He said he had an agreement with the museum that allowed for contributions to be made at his discretion.

"When we pay, we pay," he said.

Mr. Ajmera said that before the museum announced his gift, officials told him they needed more pledges to compensate for a lack of government funding. He said no one from the museum ever said to him, "You have to pay now."

On Wednesday of this week - one month after his first interview with The Globe - Mr. Ajmera said he was now in compliance with the two-year-old policy on naming rights, which stipulates that 25 per cent of a pledge must be paid before a space can be named. Mr. Ajmera said he has given the ROM more than $1.25-million, or one quarter, of his pledge. (An official close to the museum said Mr.

Ajmera made a "significant payment" toward his outstanding pledge after his first call from The Globe.) In Wednesday's interview, Mr. Ajmera said he was serious about meeting his obligation to the ROM.

In the nine years since the ROM announced Mr. Ajmera's gift - which was heavily publicized, including in the pages of this newspaper - he has also served on the ROM's board of governors. That organization, which is a separate entity from the museum, functions much like a hospital foundation and manages fundraising and donor recognition. This means Mr. Ajmera, like some other donors with outstanding pledges, helps oversee the organization responsible for soliciting his payments.

The ROM declined to answer questions about the terms of its agreement with Mr. Ajmera, citing its policies on donor privacy, but the pace of his payments has not affected his relationship with the museum. "Mr. Ajmera is in good standing with the museum and we are grateful for his support of the ROM," Marnie Peters, a ROM spokesperson, said in a statement.

Alex Shnaider, a Russian-Canadian billionaire, has also received acclaim from the ROM for his contribution toward its revitalization.

He and his wife, Simona, were identified in the museum's 200708 annual report under the heading "gifts received" for having promised between $5-million and $10-million, and he was recognized at a museum gala as the annual donor of merit. An image of the Shnaiders is also featured in the New Century Founders portrait.

But that promotional material makes no mention of a key condition attached to Mr. Shnaider's pledge. The billionaire's donation was contingent on the success of his investment in Toronto's Trump International Hotel and Tower, which has been mired in litigation and plagued by unsold units. Since Mr. Shnaider's gift was announced and publicized, he has paid nothing toward his pledge.

In an e-mailed statement, a lawyer for Mr. Shnaider said that the ROM's board of governors was aware his gift was contingent and that his client "did not request any public recognition." Mr. Shnaider "remains committed to making a gift upon successful completion of the Trump project," Symon Zucker said.

Mr. Shnaider's lawyer said his client did not "execute any documents" in connection with the pledge. Even if he had signed a gift agreement, such records are not considered contracts and are not legally binding.

Like Mr. Ajmera, Simona Shnaider has served on the board of governors. She was appointed shortly after the Shnaiders received credit for their gift, and she left the board in 2012. As with Mr. Ajmera, the ROM refused to discuss the particulars of Mr. Shnaider's pledge, but said he was "in good standing."

The man who was in charge of the museum when the pledges were made, former CEO William Thorsell, told The Globe he had complete confidence in the pledges at the time and he retains that confidence now.

With each passing year, the effective value of these pledges has decreased: The ROM has had to pay the province $14.7-million in interest since taxpayers lent the museum $88.6-million eight years ago.

The pledges of these two men account for less than half of the $23-million still outstanding in pledges. The bulk of the missing donations can be attributed to one donor, Michael Lee-Chin, whose payments were delayed in the wake of the 2009 financial crisis.

'DREAM BIG' This fall, guests at the "Dream Big" gala for the Joseph Brant Hospital were treated to wild halibut from Northern British Columbia, an acrobatic performance and what the program described as a "historical and visionary" surprise announcement.

The Burlington, Ont., hospital used the gala as an opportunity to reveal the largest charitable gift in its history, a $10-million donation from the family of Mr. Lee-Chin, a billionaire investor. The hospital's fundraising team called the donation from the businessman - who owns a sprawling estate not far from Burlington and a bank in his native Jamaica - "a true testament to the family's philanthropic spirit."

But for several sources close to the ROM, as well as the Ontario ministry monitoring the museum's debt, the announcement was perplexing: Mr. Lee-Chin has yet to pay the museum more than $10-million of the $30-million he promised more than a decade ago.

When that gift was announced in 2003, it was heralded as an important step in Canadian philanthropy - an example of new money taking on a civic duty that had traditionally fallen to the old.

It was a transition engineered by one of old-money's most celebrated figures, Hilary Weston, chair of the campaign and the wife of Canada's second-richest man.

Mr. Lee-Chin told interviewers at the time how Ms. Weston came knocking on his door, appealing to a first-generation immigrant's desire to make his mark. As the Crystal became a reality, Mr. LeeChin's star shone the brightest: The ROM didn't announce the Westons' gift of up to $25-million until nearly a year after Mr. LeeChin's. And while the Weston gift was recognized on the old wings of the building facing Queen's Park, the ROM named the splashy new Crystal after Mr. Lee-Chin.

But six years after the announcement of Mr. Lee-Chin's donation, an unforeseen storm spoiled the coming-out party for a new generation of philanthropists.

Mr. Lee-Chin's then-mutual fund company, AIC Limited, was walloped by the global financial crisis, which sources said resulted in him temporarily suspending his payments toward the Crystal.

He has since entered into a payment plan of approximately $600,000 a year, two sources said.

Mr. Lee-Chin declined to respond to numerous phone messages, e-mails sent to him through his assistant, and letters couriered to his home and office. Like Mr. Ajmera, Mr. Lee-Chin serves on the museum's board of governors.

The individuals interviewed for this story had conflicting views on the billionaire's partly fulfilled pledge. Several said the payments are slow but the donor is committed. "The museum is well disposed toward Michael Lee-Chin," one source said. "He's acting in good faith."

Others said they were taken aback by the new pledge to the hospital. One source close to the museum said: "It's not something that I understand."

In a 90-minute interview at her museum office, Janet Carding, the ROM's outgoing chief executive, invoked the "global financial crisis" as an explanation for the ROM's donation challenges. She used the expression a dozen times in the interview. Ms. Carding declined to discuss individual donors, citing the importance of privacy for donor arrangements.

She said she believes the campaign to build the Crystal was a success, and said the museum continues to work with donors to ensure their gifts are paid at "times that work for them." Stickhandling the museum's debt obligations and the needs of its donors "has been a challenge," she said. "This has not been an easy situation for the ROM."

Nobody was expecting such a predicament 15 years ago, when several civic-minded businessmen partnered with the provincial and federal governments to remake Toronto's arts institutions.

'A GREAT LEAP FORWARD' At the start of the new millennium - as flashy cultural attractions were increasingly recognized as key to the economic success of a city - Toronto joined the megamuseum building boom. The provincial Progressive Conservative government pledged about $100million from its SuperBuild fund toward six of the city's cultural institutions, and the federal Liberals followed suit with more funding. The third funding pillar was the city's philanthropic ranks.

Private donors to Toronto's SuperBuild cultural projects often stretched their payments over a number of years, so it was standard practice to take out large bridge loans to cover the cost of construction. The Canadian Opera House Corporation and the Art Gallery of Ontario retired their respective loans in 2012.

The ROM, however, was the largest of these projects and ran into the biggest cost overruns. Fundraisers had to keep raising their targets, and a board of governors made up of establishment figures worked to broaden their membership.

Nonetheless, the museum promised it would be prudent even as it signed on with star architect Daniel Libeskind to build a provocative modern addition to the historic museum that, when first proposed, called for engineers to invent a new cladding material that would somehow change seamlessly from glass to steel. Mr. Thorsell, a former editorin-chief of The Globe and Mail who went on to become the museum's chief executive, said the startling architecture would reinvigorate the institution responsibly.

In a 2003 ROM publication, he explained that to get its SuperBuild funds, the museum had to demonstrate that the project would strengthen the ROM's finances, "rather than expose it to greater risks." He later told the media that the funding, which eventually totalled $42-million from Ontario and $30-million from Ottawa, would "stimulate a great leap forward in the ROM's self-sufficiency, ensuring the ROM continues to operate at the first rank of international museums."

Instead, the soaring cost of this controversial and intricately engineered building triggered a cascade of problems that the ROM has struggled to contain.

As the Crystal neared completion during a period when the price of steel skyrocketed, CIBC became nervous that pledges weren't in line with expenses. A source familiar with the loan said the bank intended to hike the museum's interest rate.

In October, 2007, the provincial government stepped in. Several months after the Crystal's grand opening gala, Ontario assumed the debt through its lending arm, the Ontario Financing Authority, or OFA.

The museum is an agency of the province. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport said in a statement that the ROM requested the refinancing "to reduce its interest charges and improve its long-term ability to meet its debt obligations." The records released through Freedom of Information show that the OFA was involved from the outset, helping the ROM secure its initial loans from CIBC based on a business case that "reliable donor pledges would be collected." The same business case, using averages achieved at other large North American museums, also predicted a spike in ticket sales to 1.5 million annual visitors, attendance the museum has never come close to reaching. (The ROM's best numbers for post-renovation attendance date to the period of 2009 to 2011, when two popular exhibitions, Dead Sea Scrolls and China's terracotta warriors, helped attract an annual 1.1 million visitors.)

In 2009, only two years after agreeing to take on the debt, bureaucrats were sounding the alarm about the ROM's unfulfilled pledges. In a confidential briefing note to the then-minister of culture, Aileen Carroll, ministry officials explained that the museum had received only 50 per cent of the donations promised that year.

By 2010, the ministry was aware the ROM had doubts about some pledges, raising concerns about the museum's ability to pay its debt. "In some cases pledge payments have been delayed and in other cases ROM is determining whether payments are still collectible," Alexandra Bent, a ministry official, wrote in a November, 2010, briefing note. (Ms. Carding told The Globe that the museum never considered writing off these pledges.)

The museum made its first three annual payments to the province, in part by using proceeds from the sale of its planetarium building, which it sold to the University of Toronto for $22million. In 2011, when incoming donations failed to cover the year's payment, museum officials and the OFA restructured the loan. Not only did the new terms extend payments until 2027, they allowed the ROM to pay a penalty and defer its annual fixed-rate payment whenever there was a shortfall - a safety net that the ROM has availed itself of four of the five years since the loan was renegotiated. This special provision has kept the museum from going into default, but it has also created an ominous spectre in the years 2023 to 2027. During that period, the ROM is scheduled to come up with $29.6-million, according to a payment plan prepared by the Ontario government last summer. That plan accounts for the $23-million in outstanding pledges and an additional $10million the ROM borrowed.

The museum said that it expects to make more payments than the ones outlined in that schedule, because it has firmed up some donor pledges, and that the amount owed in the final years should be half that. A spokesperson for the tourism ministry said: "We are confident that they will be able to pay back the loan in its entirety by the 2027 deadline." However, one source close to the ROM said: "It's pie in the sky to figure out how we could possibly pay this on time."

But this was not the kind of message the ROM wanted to deliver to the public when it created this new flexible loan structure in 2011. A draft of an undated internal ROM communications strategy, which was also released as part of The Globe's Freedom of Information request, details how the museum deliberately decided not to issue a media release about the new terms. Its primary concern at the time was ensuring that "donor confidentiality ... remain paramount."

"The ROM must be able to communicate that the Museum is not in serious financial difficulty and that the Renaissance ROM campaign was successful," the document states. The author of the strategy is not identified.

The document also includes a mock question-and-answer session with a hypothetical journalist. Reporters inquiring about donors in default were to be told: "Some donors have requested their pledge payment schedules be extended. We have a 98-percent fulfilment rate for Renaissance ROM pledges."

Other records released by the ministry tell a different story. In 2012, $30-million in pledges were still outstanding - a fulfilment rate of 86 per cent on the $220million the ROM says it raised privately. Asked to explain the 98per-cent figure, a ROM spokesperson said it referred to both money received by the museum and "pledges on track to be paid."

The draft communications strategy also instructed ROM officials to deliver a short and emphatic answer if asked about specific donors stopping payments.

"Question: Did a [named donor] stop paying?" "Answer: No."

The tourism ministry had a different view of the museum's finances. In 2012, then minister Michael Chan wrote to Sal Badali, the chair of the museum's board of trustees - a body that oversees the museum's operations, and is a separate entity from the board of governors, which oversees fundraising.

In the March 23, 2012 letter, which has been heavily redacted by government officials, Mr. Chan explains that he is "concerned at the extent of the museum's current financial challenges." He cites "delayed donor pledge payments" as one of those challenges.

Meanwhile, bureaucrats closely monitored the pace of incoming donations and received updates from the ROM. In a March, 2013, presentation, the ROM explained that, a month earlier, it had taken "special effort" to encourage donors to speed up payments in advance of its scheduled loan instalments to the province. The initiative netted $120,600.

A few months later, on June 3, 2013, ministry officials exchanged e-mails when they learned the ROM had received a donation from a donor whose name has been redacted from the documents. The next day, when they learned the amount paid - which has also been redacted - Diane Wise, a ministry director, couldn't hide her surprise.

"That's all?" she wrote. "I don't think that is what OFA expected when they were told there were payments being made."


A few weeks ago, after The Globe's initial interview with Janet Carding, museum officials did something that at least one donor had been demanding for some time: It covered up the large photographic collage of its New Century Founders.

Visitors to the Thorsell Spirit House can no longer view images of the 17 donors who pledged $5-million or more - most of whom have paid out their pledges. Instead, they are greeted by a promotional poster for the museum's upcoming exhibition on Pompeii, the Italian city buried in a volcanic eruption 1,700 years ago.

Ms. Carding leaves the ROM next week to take on new post as director of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. Her interim replacement, Mark Engstrom, is a 27-year veteran of the museum.

He takes the helm of an institution that has seen its curatorial ranks shrink since it embarked on its quest to remake itself through grand architectural changes. The museum now has positions for 34 curators and assistant curators, compared with 46 around the time of the groundbreaking.

The ROM Governors - the museum's fundraising arm - is also in a period of transition. New director Susan Horvath, who began her job on Dec. 1, 2014, takes control of an agency under scrutiny. Records released to The Globe show that the Ontario government was concerned it had no control over the arm's-length governors. "As a private charitable foundation, the ROM Governors is not accountable to the government or the OFA. The ROM has not implemented a formal agreement between the museum and the foundation to ensure accountability over annual commitments to the OFA," a 2013 briefing note states.

As for its debt, the ROM says the horizon looks brighter than it did a few years ago. New donations are coming in and the museum expects to make its $2.2-million loan payment to the province at the end of the month. But major new donors will not be given recognition so easily. Since 2013, the ROM has belonged to a new philanthropic-sector accreditation program that requires firm policies around granting naming rights to galleries or wings.

The visionary behind the Crystal assures Ontario taxpayers that the uncollected pledges will be fully paid. Mr. Thorsell, who was director of the ROM from 2000 to 2010, defends the initial public recognition for donors. "We properly celebrated their pledges when they were made and created appropriate recognitions," he said in an e-mail.

Although he is far removed from the museum now, he said his faith in the patrons has not wavered: "They will not let us down."


The Globe and Mail has been researching the Royal Ontario Museum's record of charitable donations for eight months. The investigation was prompted by a tip in June, 2014, that some museum patrons received substantial public recognition for donations to build the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal that had not materialized.

Initial inquiries to current and former senior ROM officials were met with resistance. The Globe persisted, requesting documents under the Freedom of Information Act from Ontario's Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sports, which oversees the museum. Five months after the request was made, The Globe received 290 pages of ministry briefs, e-mails and financial statements. These documents revealed a disturbing portrait of a publicly funded institution that was financially handicapped by debts accumulated as a result of uncollected donations it continued to trumpet.

Over the next four months, a team of reporters interviewed more than 30 former and current officials from the ROM, the Ontario government and the philanthropic sector. The research cast a much darker light on the Crystal project that the ROM celebrates as the "largest and most successful cultural fundraising campaign in Canada's history."


Greg McArthur is a member of The Globe and Mail's investigative team.

His reporting has been recognized by all of Canada's major journalism awards: He has won a National Newspaper Award, several National Magazine Awards and the top prize awarded by the Canadian Association of Journalists. Kate Taylor is a senior feature writer and columnist in Globe Arts. She is a two-time National Newspaper Award nominee and the author of two novels, Mme Proust and the Kosher Kitchen and A Man in Uniform. Jacquie McNish is a Senior Writer with The Globe and Mail. She is the recipient of seven National Newspaper Awards and the author of four books, two of which won National Business Book Awards.

The Globe's SecureDrop service provides a way to securely share information with our journalists. You can find it at this link: securedrop/

Associated Graphic

Visitors to the Thorsell Spirit House can no longer view images of the 17 donors who pledged $5-million or more. Instead, they are greeted by a promotional poster for the museum's coming exhibition on Pompeii.


In 2008, the ROM named a gallery of international artifacts after Shreyas and Mina Ajmera.


The bulk of the still-outstanding donations can be attributed to Michael Lee-Chin, whose payments were delayed in the wake of the 2009 financial crisis.


The Royal Ontario Museum says the horizon looks brighter than it did a few years ago, and new donations are coming in.


The recruitment of seven CEGEP students to the Islamic State has highlighted a difficult issue across the province: How do Muslim youth find a place when they're stuck between two cultures that don't understand one another?
Saturday, March 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A12

Young Bilel Zouaidia was a laid-back sort, more obsessed with computers than his Muslim religion, really. Or so it seemed to classmates.

Yahia Alaoui Ismaili and Mohamed Rifaat didn't accomplish much in school. Mr. Rifaat had tons of friends and he was devout, once posting online an artful video of himself singing a call to prayer atop Mount Royal.

But neither man advertised interest in jihad. Mr. Ismaili even took the occasional drink, breaking a cardinal rule of Islam.

They were part of a group of seven young Montrealers going about the business of launching adult lives. And then one night they were gone.

On the evening of Jan. 16, some of the seven told family they were off to visit friends. Instead, they all went to Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport in Montreal, where they boarded a flight bound for Istanbul and eventually Syria; authorities say they were to join the ranks of Islamic State fighters there.

A few lingering online clues point to discontent overlooked: Shayma Senouci promoted a petition to stop the Quebec Charter of Values that would have cracked down on religious symbols, such as the veil she wore, in the public service. She raged against civilian casualties in the Palestinian territories. Mr. Rifaat posted photos of himself protesting Islamophobia with controversial Muslim teacher Adil Charkaoui.

But when news broke of their departure, it floored nearly everyone. Their families, friends, former schoolmates and teachers, and Montreal's Muslim community, all came under intense scrutiny but were at a loss to explain.

Mr. Zouaidia's mother answered a recent call this way: "We've given all we have to give, we cannot speak about this any more. We need to heal and be with ourselves."

Maisonneuve College, where many of the Montreal seven studied, was questioned about the teaching in its classes. With police and parents helpless to do anything, the school took one of the few actions by anyone in a position of authority: It suspended a rental agreement with Mr. Charkaoui, a man once accused of being a terrorist-in-waiting who taught Islamic courses and led other weekend activities in school space. Some of the Montreal seven were among his students.

With no evidence Mr. Charkaoui did anything wrong, those classes resume this weekend.

Alienation from mainstream society has long been a key factor luring young people to join foreign wars, from the Spanish Civil War to the Islamic State offensive in the Middle East. But misguided former college students lured off to jihad are only part of this story.

The disappearance of the Montreal seven has added urgency to a painful discussion taking place in Quebec for more than a decade. A fissure is growing between Muslims and the Quebec society that aggressively courted Frenchspeaking North African immigrants, part of a plan to maintain a francophone bastion in North America. The conflict sets smallbut-growing Muslim communities who hold fast to faith against a majority population that prefers religion to remain entirely private, or to appear only as mere historical vestige.

The Quebec experience serves as a cautionary tale to other Canadians who face problems with potential homegrown terrorists, along with the recent resurgence of the same hardening rhetoric, political opportunism and outbursts of bigotry over Muslims that have plagued Quebec. The province shows it is easy to start questioning how religious practice fits in a secular, democratic society, but in an era of terror it's not so clear how it ends, or what damage may be done along the way.

"We feel like we are stuck between two chairs," said Rima Demanins, a 21-year-old who speaks French and English at home with her Lebanese-born parents and prays five times a day but does not wear a veil.

"We're stuck between Quebec culture and our countries of origin, our religion and our parents, our culture. And every time something happens, the first thing I actually think is, 'Please don't let it be a Muslim, please don't be a Muslim,' because they're going to stick it to us and we're going to look bad."

Most of three dozen Quebec Muslims interviewed by The Globe and Mail in recent weeks, from liberal students to controversial conservative elders, say they are facing the most hostile atmosphere they have seen since the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. Recent polls showing a spike in hostility toward visible minorities and immigrants across Canada tends to support this view.

The recruitment of the Montreal seven comes on the heels of a series of events that have thrust Islamist terror to the top of Quebec consciousness. The attacks in the fall in Ottawa and Saint-Jeansur-Richelieu, Que., shocked all Canadians, but the January assault on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo hit Quebec particularly hard. Many francophone Quebeckers, especially in the province's intellectual and media circles, have deep connections to France.

Muslims, global experts on jihad and de-radicalization, politicians, police and scholars warn of expanding alienation. Muslims seem at a loss for how to gain trust in their Quebec homeland.

In the words of Gérard Bouchard, the eminent sociologist who cochaired a provincial commission on the place of religion in Quebec society, Muslims are being pushed toward isolation.

"Unless the trend is reversed, we will finish by creating ourselves what we wanted to avoid at all costs - a minority that through stereotype and discrimination gives up little by little on integration and ghettoizes itself," Mr. Bouchard said in a recent interview. "Do we not recognize here the rich soil that produces radicalization?" Muslims comprise about 6 per cent of Montreal's population and 3 per cent of Quebec's - putting the city behind Toronto's 7.7 per cent and the province right in line with the national average.

But Quebec Muslims have faced outsized scrutiny and harassment with the fear of Islamic radicalism.

Women are accosted on the street for wearing veils, and in one case, even in court by a judge who felt religion had no place in her courtroom. Media investigate community organizations suspected of being radical hotbeds; often they turn out to be ordinary worshippers bewildered by the attention. Any special status, from gender-segregated fitness and health classes to requests for prayer spaces, becomes headline news. Vandals have targeted a dozen Islamic centres since the start of 2014, including one that had windows shot out late last year.

"I call it a witch hunt, a new form of McCarthyism," said Mr.

Charkaoui, the onetime terror suspect-turned-controversial Montreal Muslim leader. With his gift for snappy rhetoric, he occupies a lot of space in the polarized Quebec secularism debate.

Mr. Charkaoui's voice booms from the other side of a full shoe rack at the Centre Communautaire Islamique de l'Est de Montréal. It's a Saturday night and a stream of men come and go. Mr. Charkaoui was giving an Islamic history lesson in French to a group of about 100 young faithful. Little is known about what motivated the seven Montrealarea jihadis, but at least three attended these kinds of lectures given by Mr. Charkaoui. He disputes a fourth reported connection. Mr. Charkaoui was arrested under an immigration security certificate in 2003 on suspicion he was an al-Qaeda sleeper agent.

Among the unproven allegations were that he trained in Afghanistan with al-Qaeda in the 1990s.

He was released from custody in 2005, and a court dropped electronic monitoring on him in 2009 after Ottawa refused to provide evidence. He has since launched a lawsuit against the federal government while obtaining Canadian citizenship.

In an interview, Mr. Charkaoui was good-humoured as he explained connections to some of the students - a far cry from most of his Quebec media appearances where rage often surfaces. He said Mr. Rifaat came to his protests "like thousands of others. He came with his dad, and participated in a lot of activities. I saw no sign of anything wrong. The fact his name came out like that was a total shock to us."

Mr. Zouaidia came twice to his classes, before he was pulled out by his father, who had concerns he was being radicalized. "Even though the social climate is heavy, we just did not see it coming," Mr. Charkaoui said. "We encourage our youth to participate in our activities, in protests, so they see an alternative. They don't want 'blah blah blah,' they want action."

After students left for jihad and Maisonneuve College briefly suspended Mr. Charkaoui's rental contract, he threatened to sue the school. The school decided to allow him to return this weekend on the condition it can monitor his teachings.

Mr. Charkaoui, who runs an anti-Islamophobia activist group in addition to leading Islamic classes at several venues, said "everything we do is public. Everything we do is open because our goal is to make Quebec an open place."

But openness has limits. A few days after the interview, Mr. Charkaoui attended a screening of The Secret Trial 5, a documentary about the detention of him and five other men under security certificates. He spotted a Globe reporter who had contacted some of his students looking for information about his lectures and the Montreal seven. He accused the reporter of harassing his students and of collaborating with CSIS and Montreal police. In fact, the reporter's source was the students' own Facebook pages.

"A teenager comes to my classes twice - I don't even know him - and a media circus is after me," Mr. Charkaoui said, surrounded by a small group of supporters who joined in badgering the reporter.

Salam Elmenyawi, another Montreal Muslim cleric, asked for understanding. "Adil Charkaoui is a very good man who has suffered immensely, and he has more right than any of us here to fight for our freedom," Mr. Elmenyawi said. "I don't believe he had anything to do with those people leaving at all."

Mr. Elmenyawi points out that with all the scrutiny Mr. Charkaoui faces, it's unlikely he's promoting illegal foreign fighting to his charges. Students who have attended Mr. Charkaoui's courses say they've never heard him speak of jihad or Osama bin Laden or the Islamic State in a positive light. One described his class as "super-normal, like going to the movies" for Muslim kids in Montreal.

When he's asked for his view on ISIS, Mr. Charkaoui deflects slightly, saying he's against all forms of violence, before usually switching to a list of offences the West has committed against Muslims. "Why are we forced to answer for [IS]?" he said. "Why are we forced to justify ourselves?" .

While the students' departure was a shock to friends and family, a recent convert who was part of their network says the discrepancy between their attitudes online and in real life foreshadowed their brash decision to leave.

Minh Qasim Vo, a 24-year-old criminology student who converted to Islam more than four years ago, met several of the students who left, but was mostly exposed to their social feeds, where they were more vocal about politics than at home or at school. "The way they expressed themselves, it was very arrogant, impulsive," he said.

Mr. Vo experienced first-hand what it's like to take the ancient scriptures too literally when he first converted. He watched YouTube videos to learn the religion.

"It's a double-edged sword because they bring you so much, and at the same time, you can interpret them very literally," he said.

He thinks a feeling of marginalization has made the students open to recruitment. "It's nature and nurture, but it has to do with character as well," he said, likening joining the Islamic State to joining a street gang.

Many experts agree. Young adults yearn to belong to a cause greater than them and to take action, according to Amy Thornton, a researcher in radicalized youth in Europe and North America from the department of security and crime science at University College London.

Skinhead groups, gangs, cults along with sports teams and the military recruit based on that need, she said. "Young people are looking for a narrative to their lives. They are looking for a transcendental justification, that thing that is bigger than you," she said. "In this case, it's the chance to defend their faith and to save women and children from the evils of [Syrian President Bashar] al-Assad."

When Djemila Benhabib heard about the Montreal students heading off to jihad, she immediately recognized the story. She lived next to it.

Ms. Benhabib grew up in Algeria and was in her late teens when she first noticed neighbourhood boys disappearing.

They were off to join Islamist fighters in the Algerian Civil War.

In 1994, she fled the country with her family and became an influential anti-fundamentalist writer.

While Western societies engage in endless self-analysis, Ms. Benhabib is not convinced Quebec's regular drumbeat of stories about conflicts between religious minorities and the wider community have had a corrosive effect. The problem, she says, is that people such as Mr. Charkaoui politicize Islam in a way that turns Western, democratic countries into an enemy, creating a hothouse atmosphere perfect for growing radicalization.

"A lot of mosques are no longer just places of worship," she said.

"They've been diverted from their mission toward ideology and politics. They talk non-stop about the Palestinian cause. They talk non-stop about Jews, apostates, even about westernized Muslims who don't share their view. A youth who is rebelling against his parents, the environment, the media and needs a cause suddenly has it."

Long before homegrown terror rose to the top of Canadian consciousness, Quebec went through a decade of heightened scrutiny of Muslims, and flirted with a sort of "France-light" model of secularism. Where Canada embraced the laissez-faire model of multiculturalism, France has spent more than 100 years zealously pushing religion out of public life. Quebec has struggled to carve out a middle ground.

In the 1960s, the Roman Catholic Church was relieved of managing many of Quebec's institutions, particularly in health and education. Muslim veils provoke memories of religious repression for many Quebec women who fought the church to control their reproductive lives and get out of the house.

"Quebeckers are very proud of this universal, humanist heritage," Ms. Benhabib said. "They won't accept from other religions what they rejected from their own."

When France banned veils from public schools in 1994 and other ostentatious religious symbols in 2004, some Quebec intellectuals and politicians who had always chafed at Canadian multiculturalism saw a model in French laïcité, although few have proposed going as far as France.

"The worry that exists in Quebec is not unique to Quebec, it has driven all of Europe," Ms. Benhabib said. "The separation of church and state is fundamental. What we see with Islamists is they do not live their religion in the respect of others. They do not accept the social and democratic pact at the centre of our society.

It's an assault on our values. Quebeckers don't want it, they don't accept it. Canada is waking up to it."

Here is the kind of scrutiny Muslims have faced lately: It's just before lunch on a Friday when a reporter and cameraman show up unannounced at Concordia's Muslim Students' Association library.

The crew is trying for the "hidden camera" look of a television news sting but the camera isn't hidden, exactly; Noor Mady can see it under the man's arm. The reporter is looking for works by controversial authors he's found through the university club's online database.

"They just barged in," said Ms. Mady, a 20-year-old neuroscience major who was in the library at the time. Her friends, gathered around a table, exchanged looks of disbelief. That night on the news, they saw the TVA exclusive: The "very powerful" Muslim students' association, with its office and "private" library, housed books written by Islamist reactionaries who had promoted corporal discipline for women and the death penalty for apostates. The librarian was shown scurrying for cover, face blurred.

With 6,000 Muslim students, the report concludes, Concordia is an attractive target for extremists.

"It was totally unfair," said Ibrahim Abou Arab, a member of the association executive who is among the many urbane-butdevout Muslim students at Concordia. Mr. Arab points to a halfdozen campus awards his group has received for its outreach efforts and participation in the Concordia community. The report didn't mention that the group shares office space with Jewish and gay student associations.

"You want to stop radicalization? You don't do it by crushing a library," Mr. Arab said. "You do it by educating people."

There was no need for a semihidden camera, he said. Just a moment's advance warning and basic courtesy would have sufficed. The Muslim library is itself an open book, he said while showing a reporter around.

Nearly 10 years ago, Mario Dumont was the leader of Quebec's third party, the Action Démocratique du Québec.

He was looking for a wedge to vault it from third-party status. He found religion.

Around that time, no subject was taboo for examination when it came to how religious practice intersected with the more secular majority, from prayer rooms to turbans to the sale of kosher meat to unsuspecting atheists.

In November, 2006, with his party at 12 per cent in polls, Mr. Dumont waded neck-deep into the debate: "We can't defend the Québécois identity with mushy words that no one understands.

We can't defend the Québécois identity with one knee on the ground." Mr. Dumont would stand up for the majority's right to ignore religion.

He was accused of capitalizing on bigotry. Now he looks at how far the debate has come and laughs. For one thing, he never would have tried to fire people wearing religious symbols such as hijabs from the civil service, as the Parti Québécois proposed in 2013.

"I was a relative moderate compared to some of the things being suggested," Mr. Dumont said.

In the 2007 election, he came within seven seats of defeating Jean Charest and became leader of the Official Opposition. But the strategy of playing on fears of religion proved no sure winner.

One year after Mr. Dumont's breakthrough, his party fell back to rump status and he was out of politics. Despite the popularity of its Charter of Values, the PQ suffered a historic defeat last year and leader Pauline Marois also tendered a humiliating resignation. Other factors contributed to those defeats, but the identity issue couldn't save them.

Mr. Dumont said Quebeckers are confused. Fundamentalist preaching is mixed up with normal worship. One week Montreal uses blunt zoning bylaws to curtail activities of a radical imam, and weeks later Shawinigan withholds a permit for an ordinary mosque because people are afraid. Even a Quebec court judge refused to hear the case of a woman wearing a hijab - a move Mr. Dumont found appalling.

"You know it's hard to draw lines for the ordinary citizen when even the judges are confused," he said.

Philippe Couillard's Liberal government is adding to an atmosphere of fear through inaction, Mr. Dumont believes. The Liberals have promised policies to combat extremism and guide Quebeckers on how religion should be accommodated in public life. But the timeline is uncertain and ministers responsible squirm when asked about it.

Mr. Couillard insists his government just wants to act in a deliberate manner to reinforce secular values without trampling rights.

"It's understandable people are worried," he said recently, adding his government will fight radicalism "by reaching out to the peaceful, moderate Muslim majority and building links with authorities." At the same time, the Premier has already taken aim at the niqab, saying his forthcoming proposal will include a requirement that faces be uncovered in interactions with public services.

The debate spins easily out of control, and not just in Quebec.

A rift recently opened among NDP MPs over whether the niqab has a place in the federal civil service or citizenship ceremonies. Prime Minister Stephen Harper was accused of using inflammatory rhetoric when he described the niqab as "rooted in a culture that is anti-women." On Monday, Conservative MP Larry Miller declared on the radio that Muslim women who do not wish to remove their face-covering niqab during a citizenship ceremony should "stay the hell where you came from." He later apologized.

Coincidentally, that same day, the Coalition Avenir Québec party proposed a way to send such women back to their countries of origin. The party led by François Legault would put immigrants on three-year probation, after which they would have to pass a "Quebec values" test or be sent home.

The various proposals set up a host of possibilities for confrontation with the Supreme Court of Canada, which this week spelled out how religious freedom must be balanced with the values of a secular state.

"A secular state does not - and cannot - interfere with the beliefs or practices of a religious group unless they conflict with or harm overriding public interests," the court said in a case involving religious instruction. "A secular state respects religious differences, it does not seek to extinguish them."

Compromise and sensible solutions are not easy to find in an atmosphere this hot. While Britain, Germany and several Nordic countries have had success with anti-radicalization efforts, Canadian programs are just barely getting off the ground.

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre recently announced the creation of a centre for de-radicalization.

So far, the centre is little more than good intentions and a phone number directly into Montreal police headquarters - hardly an inducement for families to seek preventative help. Civil rights lawyer Julius Grey called it a "snitch line." Mr. Coderre said much work remains to be done.

In Calgary, Mahdi Qasqas, a Muslim youth and family outreach co-ordinator and anti-terror researcher, said he is preparing a pilot project for preventing extremism to give parents "a place to go to report worrisome behaviour without fear of causing irreparable damage" of police action.

Ms. Thornton, the British deradicalization researcher, said there are different models for countering extremism, but the wider atmosphere matters. Canada has sent fewer than a couple hundred fighters to jihad and homegrown terrorists remain mercifully rare compared with Europe. Maintaining a calm and welcoming stance is key to Canada remaining a fringe contributor to the ranks of extremists, she said.

"This is about keeping your national identity, and Canada's national identity is about openness and integration and toleration," she said. "Don't let extremists from either side dominate debate. Don't lurch toward marginalizing people just because something happens. Stay balanced."

Montreal imam Abdul Rashid Anwar welcomes a line of visitors to his home as part of a "Meet a Muslim Family" campaign he helped launch. One way to reduce Muslim marginalization, especially among the young, is to rebuild damaged bridges with the wider community, he says.

When he ponders the current landscape in Quebec - the jihadi recruitment, the overheated rhetoric of some Muslims and secularists, the political opportunism - he sees people using the same harmful wedges to different ends.

He says a simpler message would do more good.

"All those with sway in society need to use that influence to say to our youth, 'Your life is important and you shouldn't waste it for a cause that is not even real.

You belong here.' "He pours black tea with sugar for his guest and replenishes plates full of watermelon, kiwi and strawberries. Cookies are carefully arranged on an ornate dish, along with other sweets - the hospitality a form of outreach.

"Eat, please," he says, a note of urgency in the offer.

Associated Graphic

Adil Charkaoui attended a panel discussion following a screening of the documentary The Secret Trial 5 in Montreal on March 12. Having previously spent six years under security certificates, he has been linked to at least one student who travelled to join militants fighting in Syria.


Rima Demanins, 21, studied at Maisonneuve College before going to study journalism at the University of Montreal. Seen at the college earlier this month, Ms. Demanins, who was born in Quebec, has written about the issues facing the Muslim community.


Noor Mady, 20, is studying behavioural neuroscience at Concordia University in Montreal.


Ibrahim Abou Arab is vice-president of external affairs for the Muslim Students' Association at Concordia University in Montreal. He says education is key to stopping radicalization.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015 Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Friday, March 27, 2015 – Print Edition, Page P38

Raghuram Rajan got it started. On Jan. 15, the governor of the Reserve Bank of India jolted traders on Mumbai's Dalal Street by cutting interest rates. The surprise was the timing of the announcement: Rajan wasn't supposed to deliver a policy statement for another 19 days.

The weirdness continued that same day--in Switzerland, of all places. For three years, the Swiss National Bank had steadily bought euros on currency markets to keep the country's franc from surging in value relative to the euro, and thereby choking off growth. Unorthodox, yes; but global financial markets had grown accustomed to the regular renewal of the bank's stance. Without warning, however, the Swiss cut the franc's tether.

Swiss National Bank chairman Thomas Jordan also set the benchmark Swiss lending rate at negative 0.75%. In theory, a lower rate should put downward pressure on the franc; not enough in this case, as the franc's value shot up by 18% in the days that followed. Many hedge funds bled red.

And on it went. The Danes cut interest rates four times in the span of a few weeks. As this issue of the magazine neared deadline, China's central bank cut rates by a quarter of a percentage point and Poland slashed them by a half point. In the first 60 days of 2015, some 20 central banks had executed stimulus measures.

Let's call it The Great Central Bank freak-out of 2015

The scale and breadth of intervention is reminiscent of the central bankers' manoeuvres during the 2008-09 financial crisis, with one big difference: There is no obvious emergency this time.

The central bankers who acted so boldly in the Great Recession say they are now responding to the startling collapse in oil prices. But since when was cheaper gasoline such a bad thing? The central bankers reply that, when you combine the plunging cost of energy with stagnant growth in major economies such as Europe and Japan, deflation has emerged as the clear and present danger.

Into this frenzy stepped Stephen Poloz.

The Bank of Canada governor had the decency, at least, to wait until his regularly scheduled interest rate policy announcement on Jan. 21. The bank's benchmark rate had been set at 1% for more than four years, put in place by Poloz's predecessor, Mark Carney. Everyone assumed it would stay there. But Poloz shocked Canadian markets with a quarter-point cut. He called it "insurance" against the economic blowback from the fall in oil prices. The deterioration of wealth, he said, would be "unambiguously negative for the Canadian economy."

Poloz's counterparts all have similar explanations: Central banks are hardwired to fight inflation or deflation, so what else are they supposed to do? But what if the world's central banks have developed a hero complex? Cheaper money works by tickling our greed. It tempts us to borrow, spend and invest.

That is what makes economies go around. The thing is, there is an emotion that trumps greed: fear.

The Bank of Canada was by no means enthusiastic about the Canadian economy's prospects at the end of 2014. Poloz made a point of underlining his dissatisfaction with the high number of Canadians who were either looking for work or in need of more hours. Still, things seemed to be crawling in the right direction. A weaker loonie and stronger economic growth in the United States looked likely to give exporters a lift. Statistics Canada confirmed in March that real gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 2.4% in the last quarter of 2014, faster than the central bank reckons the economy can grow without eventually stoking inflation.

The bet on Bay Street at the end of last year was that Poloz would leave the benchmark rate unchanged for most of 2015 before starting a gradual trek back to higher rates. Growth conditions aside, the Bank of Canada was also clearly worried that Canadians were borrowing their way to a new financial crisis. In its policy announcement last Dec. 3, the bank noted that "household imbalances"--which is how it describes the country's record debt load--"present a significant risk to financial stability." The implication: Higher interest rates eventually would be needed to wean Canadians off their credit habit.

Seven weeks later, Poloz decided there was a more significant risk facing the Canadian economy than mass foreclosures. At a news conference on Jan. 21, Poloz explained that the sharp drop in oil prices at the end of 2014 was proving to be far worse than expected. By convention, the bank bases its forecasts on the current price of oil. In October, the cost of Western Canada Select was about $70 (U.S.) a barrel. When policy makers gathered to rethink policy in January, WCS had been stuck below $40 (U.S.) a barrel for weeks, which is nowhere near enough to cover the cost of extracting oil from sand in Northern Alberta. The bank has seen oil shocks before. Their statistical models gave them a good idea of where things were headed. Thousands of Canadians were facing certain unemployment. Oil companies already were scrapping plans to expand production, triggering a broader decline that would rob factories of orders and consultants of service contracts. There would be pain.

The bank focuses on something called the "output gap" to tell it how close or far it is from hitting its inflation target. The gap is the difference between actual GDP and the level of production the bank thinks the economy can manage before inflation accelerates too quickly. The goal is to get as close to the red line as possible. Last fall, the gap was narrowing. In January, it was getting wider.

Hence the rate cut, according to Carolyn Wilkins, senior deputy governor of the Bank of Canada. "That's why we decided to take out the insurance that we did, by cutting the rate, so that we could increase the chances that our projection, which is that we'll close the output gap by the end of 2016, will actually occur," Wilkins told me in late February, just before she and the other members of the bank's Governing Council went into a customary week-long blackout period ahead of the March 4 policy announcement. (In that announcement, Poloz left the overnight target unchanged.

More on that later.) "Certainly from our point of view, doing the right thing with respect to monetary policy is the best way to maintain our credibility, because we'll be more likely to achieve our inflation target, but also that credibility should be something that underpins confidence."

Plenty of other experts disagree. Paul Masson, an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management and a former adviser at Canada's central bank, says Poloz's notion of insurance was akin to unloading the cannons at the first sight of the enemy's flag. "'Taking out insurance' can take many forms, such as keeping your powder dry until it is needed," he says.

The chief executive of a Canadian company, who requested anonymity in order to speak freely, says he thought Canada's economic leaders were asleep at the switch.

"My impression was that the Bank of Canada and the government were totally unprepared for a major correction in oil prices," the executive says. "They have been fixated on Canada as a petro-country and nothing more. Their reaction didn't seem to appreciate how volatile the Canadian dollar was and the violent correction will also have negative ripple effects."

The little-talked-about problem inherent in this rush to the barricades by central bankers is that it sent a massive signal that we have reason to be fearful. "Who then would be bold enough to make a long-term commitment in such an environment?" wonders Stephen Lewis, an economist with ADM Investor Services International Ltd. in London.

Central bankers don't necessarily care about what the Lewises of the world have to say. The City of London and Wall Street types have been hurling those sorts of barbs for years. But what if the people who run millions of businesses--large and small, global and local--are rattled?

The bank needs to keep the confidence of entrepreneurs like Mark Hanna, a partner at Montreal-based Leeza Surfaces Inc., which supplies stylish, highend countertops. The company is headquartered just north of Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, and has warehouses in Toronto, Vancouver and Connecticut. I first met Hanna at a forum for entrepreneurs in Ottawa in August, 2009, near the end of the Great Recession. He was weathering the crisis well, and he was optimistic.

But when I contacted Hanna this past February, after Poloz's surprise rate reduction, he was spooked. "The cut in rates, to me, suggests desperation," he said. "This does not instill confidence when I think about our economy." The trouble for central bankers is that there are lots of Mark Hannas out there--in every industrialized country. He is an honest-to-goodness economic actor: a hirer of people, a customer for loans. He is the kind of person the central banks are trying to help, yet they've shaken his desire to expand his business. So why the Great Freak-Out?

In the old days, central bankers tried to avoid volatility--or creating excitement of any kind, really. They were the stoic guardians of our economies, detached from the fickle political calculations of governments and immune from the base profit motives that drive corporate leaders. Alan Greenspan, who was chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006, was the archetype of the abstruse central banker. His long, elliptical responses to questions from U.S. legislators, delivered in a monotone, were quite deliberately opaque. "I should warn you," he once joked, "if I turn out to be particularly clear, you've probably misunderstood what I've said."

Yet Greenspan, oddly, was easy to read when it came to what the markets cared about most. He liked to adjust interest rates in predictable, quarter-point increments, so when he started down a path, investors and traders knew where they were headed. The Greenspan years came to be known as the Great Moderation.

There was nothing moderate about monetary policy during the financial crisis and its aftermath. Ben Bernanke, Greenspan's successor, and the heads of the rest of the world's major central banks, acted boldly and massively. They slashed interest rates--to 1% in the euro zone, and near 0% in the United States and Japan. The Fed, the Bank of England and the Bank of Japan also launched huge quantitative easing programs that lasted for years--essentially creating hundreds of billions of dollars worth of currency to buy government bonds and other debt securities, thereby injecting cash into banks that could be loaned to businesses and consumers.

The politicians did their part, too--at first. They ran massive budget deficits to stave off another Great Depression. Even Canada's resolutely tight-fisted Conservatives cranked up infrastructure spending and racked up a $56-billion deficit in the 2009-2010 fiscal year, and a $33-billion shortfall in 2010-2011. But since then, to varying degrees, governments have shifted back to austerity. The Group of 20 got out the fire hose when the world was on fire, but they didn't stick around for the rebuild.


That austerity is now an anchor on growth. The U.S. recovery has picked up momentum over the past year--in part because state and local governments are spending again--but the American economy is the exception. Even growth in China is slowing. Japan remains mired in a slump that, in many respects, has lasted since the 1990s. Much of Europe is flirting with deflation and a triple-dip recession.

In contrast to governments, the central bankers have kept stimulating since the financial crisis. Denmark pioneered the use of negative interest rates in July, 2012, when its central bank lowered the deposit rate on funds it holds for commercial banks to -0.2%, to encourage those banks to loan the money instead of hanging onto it.

All along, of course, many analysts have questioned how effective the low, low rates and all that E-Z money have been. Some argue that the central bankers have done little more than fuel asset price bubbles, lining the pockets of the well-to-do, but few others. The U.S. stock market has almost tripled since the bottom in 2009.

Apartments in New York have cracked the $100-million barrier, and in London, they've soared beyond $200 million--asking prices, at least.

Closer to home, average prices for a detached house in Vancouver or Toronto have soared above $1 million. The University of Toronto's Masson wrote a paper in 2013 that pleaded with Carney to raise interest rates. He says that Canada's lacklustre economic growth since then hasn't caused him to change his mind. A massive run-up of debt caused the financial crisis. History could be repeating itself.

Central banks understand the risks. They simply are unwilling to put theoretical concerns ahead of a threat that is staring them in the face. Deflationary pressures last fall pulled the big central banks in various directions. After injecting more than $3.5 trillion (U.S.) into the U.S. economy following the financial crisis, the Fed ended its regular monthly purchases of bonds and mortgage-based securities in October. That was the Fed's nod to those who accuse it of sowing the seeds of the next crisis. But Janet Yellen, who replaced Bernanke in February, refused to signal when she might raise the official rate from zero. In September, Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, lowered the ECB's benchmark rate by 10 basis points to 0.05%, and its deposit rate to -0.2%. He also promised that the ECB would soon unveil a massive QE program of its own.

Then, another wild card began creating more headaches for central bankers.

a weeK before Poloz's dramatiC interest rate announCement, timothy lane, one of four deputy governors of the Bank of Canada who sit with Poloz and Wilkins on its Governing Council, gave a speech at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

The title was clear enough: "Drilling Down--Understanding Oil Prices and Their Economic Impact." The text was released online and, toward the end, Lane declared that lower oil prices would be "bad for Canada."

If that was meant as a warning, most analysts and commentators missed it. The bank rarely sent messages via its deputies, so few--if any--market participants would have been giving Lane their full attention.

Besides, there were no other reasons to expect any surprises.

After Poloz succeeded Mark Carney in June, 2013, he made a point of easing his way into his new role at the centre of the Canadian economy. He kept the bank's benchmark rate at the 1% set in September, 2010, allowing the memory of Carney's dramatic moves during the financial crisis to fade away. No more adventures in monetary policy--Poloz was fond of telling audiences that the time had come to let "Mother Nature" do her work.

No wonder Poloz sounded almost apologetic when he met with reporters after his rate cut. "We generally prefer that markets not be surprised by what we do," he said. "We took comfort from the observation that the consequences of the drop in oil prices appear to be well understood, and that the possibility of a rate cut had begun to enter markets in the last couple of weeks." Or maybe it didn't. The Canadian dollar plunged by more than 1.5 cents (U.S.) that day, closing at 81.07 cents, its lowest level since April, 2009.

The Bank of Canada's leaders are clearly sensitive to the possibility that monetary policy could actually undermine confidence, rather than bolster it. But in January, they decided to risk it. Wilkins insists that they knew what they were doing. A quarter-point interest rate adjustment is the type of fine-tuning that the bank used to do all the time. "It's a bit of a stretch to say that a 25-basis-point cut in a policy rate is a panic reaction to a 57% decline in oil prices since last June," she said.

That oil price collapse is more of a problem for Poloz than it is for central bankers in Europe and Asia. All of the bankers are worried about the deflationary impact on consumer prices. Poloz also has to contend with the impact on output and employment in the Alberta oil patch, and on the companies that supply and finance it.

In some ways, Poloz's job is much trickier than Carney's was during the financial crisis. Carney had the aid of Jim Flaherty's expansionary fiscal policy, but now the Harper government is determined to balance the books before the election this fall. On the day that Poloz cut interest rates, Finance Minister Joe Oliver said there was no need for a matching response from him. "We think it's wrong to burden our children, our grandchildren with expenditures that we're incurring today, so we think a balanced budget is important and we're going to achieve it," he said in a broadcast interview with CNBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Oliver would be correct if it still was the 1990s, when Canada was facing a debt crisis. Now, Canada is one of the few countries with a triple-A credit rating. The federal deficit is so narrow--less than 0.5% of GDP--that it hardly matters whether the government balances it or not.

The provincial premiers aren't helping Poloz much, either. Bank of Canada economists estimate that the total portion of GDP growth this year attributable to all levels of government will be 0.2 percentage points. In 2006, that figure was 0.8 percentage points. I asked Wilkins if the January interest-rate cut would have been necessary if current government spending was at pre-crisis levels. She dodged the question. "We take fiscal policy as a given," Wilkins said.

COMPARED TO WHAT THE ECB'S DRAGHI announced on Jan. 22, Poloz's rate cut looked like a blip. Draghi unveiled a €1.1-trillion quantitative easing plan that would have the ECB co-ordinate purchases of €60-billion worth of securities a month until September, 2016. Investors were ready for QE, but not on that scale.

Britain's Guardian newspaper described it as "shock and awe." The plan kicked the Great Freak-Out into the stratosphere.

In many countries, official interest rates are now lower than they were during the financial crisis. The Danes, the Swiss, the ECB and the Swedes all are experimenting with negative interest rates. In effect, they are challenging hedge funds and banks to find more productive uses for their money than financial speculation.

At least some investors are encouraged. U.S. and Indian equity markets have scaled new heights this winter. "The accommodation should result in a positive wealth effect via higher equities and bonds," Ankur Patel, chief investment officer at R-Squared Macro, an investment firm based in Birmingham, Alabama, told me.

"These co-ordinated global rate cuts, zero-interest-rate policy, and QE may be what ultimately provides a net positive boost to confidence."

Yet the usual doomsayers and conspiracy theorists--and the Internet is full of them--are predicting disaster: We are headed for a devastating global currency war, reminiscent of the 1930s, when central banks slashed exchange rates in an attempt to ignite their countries' exports. But when those competitive devaluations were combined with beggar-thy-neighbour trade restrictions, they only aggravated the Great Depression by reducing global demand for goods and services.

The suggestion that central banks are trying to beggar one another like they did in the Great Depression is highly debatable. Yes, the exchange rate is one of the channels through which a central bank influences inflation. And when interest rates shift, capital diverts to countries that offer the highest return. With so little demand in many countries to offset the upward pressure on exchange rates, they have little choice but to keep lowering rates in order to hit their inflation targets. The adjustment is more mechanical gets. The adjustment is more mechanical than predatory. "It is not so much a currency war, or anything malicious, but the mere fact of lack of co-ordination," says Vivek Dehejia, an economics professor at Carleton University who currently is working on a research project in Mumbai.

Dehejia has a point. The world's central bankers this winter looked like soldiers awakened in the middle of the night to fight an unknown enemy. If there was no grave emergency, then surely someone should have said so. But who? That was part of the problem. There is no one.

The most powerful central banker in the world is Janet Yellen. She has a reputation as a communicator. Yet the Fed's messages have been anything but clear.

This past February, Yellen tried to cool speculation that the Fed's policy committee would raise the target range of its benchmark rate--now between zero and 0.25%--any time soon, or even hint that it would. "If economic conditions continue to improve, as the committee anticipates, the committee will at some point begin considering an increase in the target range for the federal funds rate on a meeting-bymeeting basis," she said. "Before then, the committee will change its forward guidance. However, it is important to emphasize that a modification of the forward guidance should not be read as indicating that the committee will necessarily increase the target range in a couple of meetings."

She sounded like Alan Greenspan.

In theory, negative interest rates and years and years of ultralow interest rates should work just fine. Unless, of course, executives and investors look at a negative interest rate and decide nothing good can come of a policy that appears to defy reason.

Ben Bernanke always warned that monetary policy wasn't a panacea. We finally may be witnessing what he meant. After the scramble of January and February, the weeks and months ahead will determine whether monetary policy still has any pop.

Which brings us to the Bank of Canada's most recent interest rate announcement.

On March 4, Poloz performed another stunner--this time by doing nothing. Financial markets had priced in another rate reduction. There was grumbling about Poloz sending mixed signals. There is a real risk that central bankers could be losing the public trust. And if that is true, they just made things worse.

Associated Graphic


India's Raghuram Rajan (opposite) kicked off a global deluge of interest rate cuts in January. Thomas Jordan of Switzerland (below) set his benchmark rate at less than zero

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said he was just taking out a little "insurance" with his quarter-point cut. To traders, it looked like panic, and they pounded the loonie


After Europe's Mario Draghi (below) dropped the big one--€1.1 trillion of quantitative easing--U.S. Fed Chair Janet Yellen wouldn't tip her hand


The incredible shrinking region
An aging population, diminishing workforce, overreliance on natural resources and resistance to immigration have sent the Maritimes into a dangerous economic spiral. John Ibbitson weighs in on what it will take to turn the tide
Saturday, March 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page F1

CHARLOTTETOWN -- Mireyne MacMillan grew up on a farm about a half-hour's drive from Charlottetown, near Mount Stewart, which was once a thriving riverside railway stop for travellers to and from the capital.

Over the years, the village has boasted two blacksmiths, two garages and a car dealership, the biggest strawberry plant in the Maritimes, a co-op store, two warehouses for potatoes, two fish plants, a movie theatre, a box factory, a handle factory, a dentist and two doctors. At least 50 local residents served in the Second World War.

Then the trains stopped running.

Today, says Ms. MacMillan, 19, Mount Stewart "is full of a lot of older people." And "full" isn't what it once was. According to the most recent census, the 2011 population was a mere 225, a drop of 14 per cent in just five years.

Each September, the local high school has more empty seats.

Effervescent, ambitious and civic-minded - we chat while she sells cookies on the University of Prince Edward Island campus, to support the swim team - the second-year student in the foods and nutrition program sees no future for herself on the Island. "I'd like to live here," she says, "but I don't think I'd be able to get a position. A lot of people I know have already left."

Nor is she likely to put down roots in neighbouring Nova Scotia or New Brunswick. After decades of declining fortunes, the Maritime provinces now find themselves trapped in what one observer describes as "a perfect storm" of economic and demographic decline.

The cause of that storm is no mystery; governments have been grappling with it for years. "Everyone knows what the problem is," says Peter McKenna, head of political science at UPEI. "It's just that no one knows what to do about it."

Because of their fading economies, PEI, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are running out of people like Mireyne MacMillan. Last year, 1,000 more people left PEI for other parts of Canada than arrived from them. The population of Nova Scotia has been falling since 2011, when it peaked at 948,000; over the next two decades, another 20,000 people are expected to leave. New Brunswick is in similar straits. Between the middle of 2012 and the middle of last year, the population dropped by almost 2,000, to 754,524.

But the real problem is the makeup of the population that remains. Every year - due to a weakening economy, a dearth of immigrants, and a population reluctant to face these problems - there are fewer workers to pay taxes and more old people in need of government services.

Within five years, a provincial study predicts, the working-age population of New Brunswick will have declined by 30,000, again largely due to the exodus of younger workers, even as 50,000 more people pass the age of 65. A provincial commission in Nova Scotia forecasts that, within 20 years, that province's working-age population will have declined by 100,000, or about 20 per cent.

The trend may seem familiar - "going down the road" to find work is a Maritime tradition - but the tipping point is approaching rapidly, says Marco Navarro-Génie, president of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, a conservative think tank located in Halifax. "We have an economic crisis on the horizon," he says.

Who will pay for the health care of a population with so many seniors and so few workers? Who will purchase the houses going up for sale? Who will buy the new cars, the appliances, the children's clothing - all the things that families need when starting out? How far will children have to be bused to the few remaining schools?

Such a future can have only one outcome: slashed health care, education and other social services; ever greater departures by anyone able to escape the vortex; rural towns that become ghost towns; growing provincial deficits and debts, along with steadily reduced credit ratings that will increase borrowing costs.

Disaster looms unless Maritimers work together to reverse the slide - and, in some respects, adjust their thinking.

Prof. McKenna says the Maritimes enjoy strong social cohesion - "You don't get that sharp polarization" between left and right seen elsewhere in Canada. But there is also a downside: "a particular resistance to change."

A major reason for that resistance, says Donald Savoie of the Université de Moncton, is that "our region, more than the other Canadian regions, remains rural."

Although 80 per cent of Canadians live in cities, about half of the people in the Maritimes reside on farms or in small communities.

"New ideas and thinking usually come from urban areas, which are home to universities, innovation and less social and religious pressure," says Prof. Savoie, a leading authority on public administration and regional development.

But his bigger concern involves something else that's missing: "Our region also lacks the energy, entrepreneurial spirit and the desire for a fresh start that new Canadians bring. We simply do not have enough new Canadians coming to the Maritimes."

Welcome wagon badly needed

In other parts of the country, Canada's aggressive immigration policy is helping to smooth the impact of an aging population.

But New Brunswick, with 2.2 per cent of Canada's population, takes in only 0.8 per cent of the country's immigrants; Nova Scotia, home to 2.8 per cent of Canadians, takes in just 0.9 per cent of newcomers.

Both provinces, in other words, attract about one-third of the immigrants their numbers warrant. And many of those who do come don't stay.

Immigrants avoid the Maritimes because of the lack of economic opportunities and because they tend to gravitate toward communities that already have newcomers. But there are darker reasons, too.

A landmark report on Nova Scotia's future, commissioned by the provincial government in 2012, and released last year, refers to "barriers stemming from negative attitudes and even racism when it comes to welcoming new people into our communities and hiring people 'from away.' " Carol (she refuses to give her last name) is in her 70s, and sitting with a friend in a food court in downtown Halifax. During lunch hour, she reports, the tables are filled with members of visible minorities. She knows that many are foreign students attending one of the city's six universities, and most will go home when they graduate.

"But some of them will stay and take jobs from people here," she predicts.

Thinking like that is one reason the commission's report was called Now or Never: An Urgent Call to Action for Nova Scotians.

"We didn't pick the title," explains Commission Chair Ray Ivany. "The title picked us."

Long-limbed, animated, the son of a Sydney steelworker, Mr. Ivany is president of Acadia University, one of the nation's finest liberal-arts institutions. He is passionate about the challenges his province faces.

"We were not trying to be hyperbolic," with the title, he maintains, during a conversation in his office on the Acadia campus, in postcard-perfect Wolfville.

"The demographic and economic spiral has reached the point that, if we don't grab hold of the situation now, there is a reasonable question to be posed of whether we can turn it around."

Key to that turnaround, he is convinced, is overcoming the region's resistance to outsiders, by aggressively targeting and attracting immigrants. That, in turn, will require a change of mindset, both within government and the population.

But it can be done. Prince Edward Island has worked hard to recruit immigrants. As a result, the province's immigration rates are about where they should be, and newcomers now account for about 10 per cent of the Island's population which, unlike that of its neighbours, has risen slightly, to more than 146,000.

Not coincidentally, employment growth in PEI has tracked the national average in recent years, even though it is stagnant in New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia is actually shedding jobs.

Fading influence

As the belt tightens in the Maritimes, the provinces will make increasingly frantic pleas for federal aid - pleas likely to fall on deaf ears.

One reason is fiscal: Ontario is now a have-not province. With almost 40 per cent of the country's population and economy, it has been receiving equalization payments since 2009. (This year, it will get $2.4-billion.) Every dollar Ontario takes out of the pot is a dollar no longer available to help prop up the Maritimes.

Canada now consists of three groups.

First, there are the "have" provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador, which contribute to the equalization pot. (The latter is included even though it also suffers from high unemployment and outmigration, because of the revenues it now receives from offshore oil and other natural resources - which may say as much about the fairness of the equalization formula as it does about the province's improving fortunes.)

After the haves come the big have-nots: Ontario and Quebec.

Bringing up the rear are the small have-nots, the Maritimes and Manitoba. Which illustrates another reason Maritime calls for help may be ignored: Voters there just don't matter much any more.

To blame: Central Canada

How did it come to this? The simple answer is, the Maritime provinces were betrayed by the rest of Canada.

Nova Scotia and New Brunswick entered Confederation in 1867 (PEI held out until 1873) reluctantly, and with good reason. At the time, the region enjoyed a thriving economy built on trade, mostly with the U.S. Northeast.

There were steel mills, cotton mills, sugar refineries, glassworks - a quarter of the new Dominion's manufacturing capacity.

Manufacturing was financed locally, through lenders that evolved into the Royal Bank and Scotiabank. Maritimers' shipbuilding prowess was worldrenowned. Halifax was a major hub on the Atlantic seaboard.

Then, in 1879, the federal government imposed the National Policy, creating a tariff wall with the United States in order to protect Central Canadian manufacturing. Suddenly, the nearest market for Maritime goods was Montreal, 1,200 kilometres to the west.

Cut off from American markets and far removed from the Canadian heartland, the Maritimes withered into a mostly rural economy dependent on forestry and the fishery, which offered only seasonal work. To protect what jobs were left, governments began throwing good money after bad, propping up moneylosing coal mines, paper mills, tourist resorts.

"The place hasn't recovered since," says Mr. Navarro-Génie. A political scientist, he came east just 18 months ago, after years of teaching in Alberta and a stint at the Frontier Centre in Calgary, another conservative think tank.

(As we talk in his suburban office, we both marvel at Halifax's towering snowbanks - although he loves his new home, Mr. Navarro-Génie, born in Nicaragua, says the winter wind "has a cruel soul.") In the 1950s, the federal government started pouring money into the region through transfer payments that eventually became the equalization program, along with dubious economic-development schemes. Not only did those schemes mostly fail; they are blamed for encouraging the attitude that government subsidies are better than private investment at creating jobs.

A problem with Hail Marys

As the decline deepened, economic-development policy increasingly resembled the governmental equivalent of buying lottery tickets. There were spectacular failures, such as the heavy-water plant at Glace Bay, N.S., a 1960s eyesore closed in 1985 and finally torn down in 2013; and New Brunswick's attempt in the 1970s to jumpstart its own auto industry with the gull-winged Bricklin.

More recent boondoggles have been smaller in scale, but no less embarrassing. In the 1990s, with the completion of the Confederation Bridge and the rising popularity of golf, the tourism-fixated government of Prince Edward Island invested heavily in places to play the game. But golf waned in popularity, and with losses reaching $500,000 a year, the province put its four courses up for sale in 2007. A year later it wrote off $10-million in bad debts. To this day, the courses remain unsold and are losing $800,000 or more a year.

Nova Scotia, meanwhile, is vexed by the Yarmouth ferry. In 2009, the NDP government of the day shut down the money-losing service between the western tip of the province and Portland, Me.

But last year, after intense local resistance, the Liberal government inaugurated a new service with a $21-million forgivable loan that was to cover the first seven years of operations. Instead, the money was gone in mere months, and the final tally for taxpayers in 2014 was $28.5-million. This year, the government hopes to lose no more than $13million on the service.

Last month, Globe and Mail readers learned of another Island fiasco - a government attempt to create an international online gambling hub. Insiders, including the provincial conflict-of-interest commissioner, invested in the scheme, which fell apart after two years of covert planning. The tale left a bad taste in the mouths of those who believe that people in the know profit from that knowledge. "It just feeds additional cynicism, exasperates people, and simply turns them away from even trying something new or different," Prof. McKenna says.

A natural-resources conundrum

Last fall, Nova Scotia imposed a moratorium on the use of hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas. A review panel convened to examine its economic potential had predicted that fracking would bring at least $1-billion a year into the province and create up to 1,500 permanent jobs. The government decided against it, however, due to native opposition, and worries about the environmental impact.

The issue also was a major bone of contention in the New Brunswick election last fall, when the anti-fracking Liberals defeated the pro-fracking Conservatives.

Shelley Hippern, who manages a suburban Halifax pet store, cheered the decisions. Exploiting shale gas deposits "might be beneficial to us, and maybe our kids," she explained, while customers nodded in agreement.

"But what about generations from now? We have to look at the bigger picture."

This month, Encana Corp. announced that Nova Scotia's offshore natural-gas reserves are smaller than previously thought. Industry analysts expect the gas to run out as early as next year, after which the province will have to import gas - at a price perhaps 40-per-cent higher than Nova Scotians currently pay - from the United States. That gas will come from fracked shale in Pennsylvania.

At the Université de Moncton, Prof. Savoie argues that the fracking moratorium was the "wrong message at the wrong time," and sees a connection to Maritimers' reluctance to embrace change.

"Though I do think that some of us have awakened to the challenges, how many of us is not clear," he says. "I do think that it is much more comfortable to just carry on and hope that something will break in our favour soon."

Old friend with a new hat

The word in Truro - the "hub of Nova Scotia" and the home of Stanfield's underwear - is that Bill Casey will likely win, and that's the problem. Not for Mr. Casey, of course. Over the years, the affable political veteran has sat in the House of Commons, first as a Progressive Conservative, then as a Conservative, and finally as an Independent. This time, he is running as a Liberal.

"I think he's got a pretty good chance," predicts Doris Martenstyn, a retired nurse, over a cup of coffee on a street of strip malls and food chains. "People know who he is. And he's a bit of a renegade."

Recently turned 70, Mr. Casey has been out of politics since resigning his seat in 2009 to become his province's representative in Ottawa. But now he's back, and is running as a Liberal because he is impressed by the leadership of Justin Trudeau.

In fact, all of Atlantic Canada seems impressed: it is where the Liberals have their widest lead in the polls, currently 52 per cent compared to 23 per cent for the Conservatives and 17 per cent for the NDP. (Except for Newfoundland, the provincial governments are now Liberal as well.)

Even though they hold more than half of the federal ridings in the Maritimes, the ruling Conservatives have introduced policies expected to cost them dearly when Canadians go to the polls Oct. 19.

While maintaining the equalization program, the Harper government has stripped the equalization component that used to be built into other programs, such as health care and social transfers.

Funding is now delivered on a per-capita basis, which seriously disadvantages the Maritimes, with their small, aging populations and disproportionately high health-care needs.

As well, the government has tightened the rules for eligibility for employment-insurance benefits, requiring that recipients be willing to travel up to an hour to work, and to accept 70 per cent of their previous pay. This will draw few votes in a region with about 10-per-cent unemployment and where much of the population works in seasonal industries - fishing, agriculture, tourism - and depends on EI the rest of the year.

But the loss of support won't have much influence on the election's outcome. Population growth in Ontario, B.C. and Alberta has led to the creation of 27 new ridings, plus three in Quebec. Those 30 seats represent five more than in all three Maritime provinces and enough to dilute their representation in the Commons to just 7 per cent.

But the region struggles with a much larger political problem: People agree with each other far too much.

"I've always been a Red Tory," Mr. Casey explains over the phone. (He has gone south to escape a particularly brutal Maritime winter.) "I believe government should be there to help people who cannot help themselves," but "I also believe government should be fiscally responsible, too." Such beliefs are deeply entrenched here in the last bastion of a brand of conservatism that emphasizes state intervention in support of those in need, as a kind of noblesse oblige.

However, if the Red Tories are less conservative, the Liberals and New Democrats here are more conservative than elsewhere, which helps explain why New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island are reluctant to provide abortion services, no matter which party is in power, and why Nova Scotia MP Peter Stoffer opposed the gun registry even though he is a New Democrat (although he later voted to save it).

How to turn things around

Despite the severity of the problems facing the Maritimes, there is a way forward - so clear and convincing that Prof. Savoie, Mr. Navarro-Génie and Mr. Ivany all offer solutions that could be summarized as Five Rules for Saving the Maritimes.

1. Maritimers must understand that Ottawa never was and cannot be the solution to the region's problems. If anything, an excessive reliance on federal support has made things worse.

2. Only a healthy private sector will attract workers, encourage immigration and keep the young at home. Governments must craft policies that encourage businesses large and small to locate, stay and grow.

3. While there are economic opportunities in the rural economy, such as the Annapolis Valley's burgeoning wine trade, real growth will come from cities.

Halifax, especially, could once again be a major hub, and Nova Scotia should target every available dollar at encouraging its growth. By thriving, the city will lift the entire region.

4. Although the notion of Maritime union is deeply unpopular, the provinces must work to eliminate non-tariff barriers to the free movement of people and goods throughout the region, similar to the internal economic union that B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan have fashioned.

5. Most important of all, they must aggressively recruit immigrants, to slow the aging of the population while injecting new energy and ideas.

Even though it lost 1,000 people to outmigration last year, PEI wound up being the only Maritime province whose overall population did not decline, due mostly to immigration.

Wade MacLauchlan is bullish on the Island's future, as you might expect from someone who became its premier three weeks ago.

"Being small can be big," points out the former UPEI president, whose Maritime accent may have become more pronounced since he entered politics. By continuing to attract immigrants while fostering a small but growing manufacturing sector, and leveraging the research coming out of UPEI, "we can add a billion dollars to the provincial economy by 2020," he says.

The cost of lost youth

That kind of growth could create the jobs that would keep university graduates at home. Until it does, PEI will keep losing young - and suffering the consequences.

Mireyne MacMillan, for one, worries not only about her future but that of her father. Robert MacMillan could be forced to give up the family dairy farm. At 56, he needs help with the heavy lifting and doesn't want to keep his children from their studies.

It's "almost impossible to find young people willing to work," she says.

The more that people like her flee, logic suggests, the harder it will be to convince those who stay behind of the need for radical change.

But Ray Ivany doesn't agree.

Asked whether Nova Scotians are scared enough to endure major sacrifices - such as cuts to rural services, so that money can be invested elsewhere - in order to reverse the population drain, the Acadia U president karate-chops the air. "Yes, yes, yes!" he says, predicting that "we are going to look ourselves in the mirror, and we are going to realize there is no one who can solve this except ourselves."

Mr. Ivany foresees a future in which "we have dramatically altered our immigration patterns ... we will have increased productivity, we will be trading at considerably higher levels, our resource sectors will be getting more wealth even out of what we currently harvest."

Marco Navarro-Génie isn't so confident. He believes that the entrenched conservatism of the region will frustrate innovation.

As much as he loves his new home, "people don't want things to change ... things are fine the way they are."

But things aren't fine and, unless Maritimers act boldly to arrest their decline, Mireyne MacMillan and thousands of others will keep going down the road, leaving an increasingly older society in their wake.

John Ibbitson is writer at large for The Globe and Mail.

Associated Graphic

A rotted-out fishing boat lies in a field behind Jude's Point Wharf in Tignish, PEI.


Mireyne MacMillan, a student at the University of PEI, grew up on her father Robert's dairy farm, which she fears he could be forced to give up.


Nova Scotian Shelley Hippern agrees with a moratorium on fracking that would have brought $1-billion a year to the Nova Scotia economy.


Friday, March 27, 2015 – Print Edition, Page P23

More than half of the world's seven billion inhabitants live in cities--a figure that is projected to grow to 66% by 2050. And as our urban centres grow, so too does the demand for more efficient means of moving the people who live in them. We talked to 11 urban planners, economists, business leaders and big thinkers for their vision on creating the cities of the future.

"There's no major city in the world that has solved the issue of mobility through the private car. None. And the only way to move people is through public transportation. For that, we need to improve buses. Wherever you see a traffic jam, that's where you should have dedicated bus lanes.

And people need to be able to walk to the station. We're not going to be able to get people out of their cars unless transit is cheaper, faster, more convenient or all of the above."

--Gil Penalosa is chair of the non-profit group 8-80 cities and former commissioner of parks, sport and recreation for Bogotá, Colombia

ROAD RAGE The term originated in 1987- 1988 when a rash of freeway shootings took place on L.A.'s 405, 110 and 10 freeways

$121 BILLION (U.S.) Annual cost of all wasted time and fuel from being stuck in traffic in the U.S.


That's how much extra fuel americans consume due to all that traffic--adding up to 25.4 billion kilograms of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by idling cars


New York isn't known for its friendly streets, but as transportation commissioner under ex-mayor Michael Bloomberg, Janette Sadik-Khan made them a lot more welcoming. Many of the changes were controversial at first, but public support grew. The shift showed that, to the surprise of some, removing space for vehicles needn't worsen congestion. And making life easier for cyclists can help local businesses. Now a principal at the former mayor's consultancy, Bloomberg Associates, Sadik-Khan tells us how she brings the lessons of New York to the world.

Over seven years, we added almost 400 miles of bike lanes to New York City streets to create a true cycling network. On top of that, we launched CitiBike, the largest and most popular bike-share system in the United States. It was really the first new transportation system in New York in 60 years, and it's already become a permanent part of the city fabric. We also built 60 pedestrian plazas across all five boroughs and reworked hundreds of corridors and intersections. Our streets are safer than they've ever been.

The health of the city's economy is linked to the health of a city's streets--we saw proof in numbers.

We saw really impressive growth in retail sales by localrun businesses, up 172% in the more walkable parts of Brooklyn.

Commercial vacancies near Union Square dropped 49% when public space was added. And closing part of Times Square to cars boosted safety while increasing overall vehicle travel speeds in the area.

In the global race to build safer and more sustainable communities, cities that don't innovate and give people choices will be left at the starting line.

No two cities are exactly alike, but we now have the opportunity to show what worked in New York. You know, tailor it to meet the needs of a particular city. If we can introduce world-class streets to New York, Toronto and Calgary and Ottawa can too.

It takes new thinking to change streets, though. And in a lot of places, streets have been the same for so long that people have forgotten what's possible.

The attraction to the status quo is incredibly powerful and you really need to show people something even stronger to break that bond.


Go ahead--butt in. Polite merging, in which drivers dutifully move over as soon as they're aware the road will narrow, can send a ripple effect back 30 kilometres as cars brake to let others in. That's why more jurisdictions are encouraging the zipper merge-- vehicles stay in both lanes as long as possible, and then one car merges and one car advances. Maximizing the use of road space can cut backups by 40%.

"Canadian cities have been too influenced by American city planning, which until recently was nothing to brag about. There has been too much focus on the automobile. In Copenhagen, the strategy is to be a good city for people. It has to do with the physical design of the streets. People are amazed at what they see here: Things have been getting better for 50 years, and that is a feat. You Canadians can do it, for God's sake."

--Jan Gehl is a danish architect and public space guru whose firm has worked on projects in cities around the world


Number of Canadians who commute to work, according to the 2011 National Household Survey--and about 80% of them drove in a private vehicle

Partner up

Jascha Franklin-Hodge Chief information officer of Boston

In a previous life, Jascha Franklin-Hodge worked on the digital strategy for Barack Obama's two presidential runs. Today, he's trying to breathe new life into the way Boston deals with an age-old annoyance--traffic management. In January, the city teamed up with Uber to try and use the data the company collects to solve some of its traffic woes. The following month, Boston partnered with Waze, a Google-owned traffic app that collects congestion data from its millions of users.

We took the Waze feed and integrated it with our Geographic Information Systems platform to create a map that can be viewed inside the city's traffic management centre.

It allows the people who control the signal system to see where there are incidents that they may need to respond to.

For example, Waze may notify them that there's a brokendown truck blocking a lane on a particular street. If they have a camera in the area that they can access, they can say, Okay, I see what's going on, I'm going to extend the green cycle on the light ahead of this truck.

Roadways are used by buses, cyclists, private vehicles. And now there are things like Uber and Lyft, and while they're not public transportation in the traditional sense, they are part of the transportation network.

In some ways we're catching up on the data front for more traditional road users, because the public transit system has been providing detailed route and service data for years.


Medellin, Colombia | $7 Million

For generations, the city of Medellin, Colombia, was known for its drug violence and intractable poverty. Home to Pablo Escobar, it was the murder capital of the world in the 1980s and '90s. Steep hills and clogged streets stifled the city's social and economic mobility; those who grew up in the slums rarely escaped. But a decade of unorthodox transit planning is changing all that. In 2004, the city launched its Metrocable system of soaring gondolas that usher 40,000 people a day between hillside slums and the rest of the city. In 2013, the city finished its latest quirky effort to integrate the once-divided city: a 384-metre escalator that cuts a half-hour hike up to the impoverished Comuna 13 district down to five minutes. Free to use, the $7-million escalator is believed to be unique in the world. The city's campaign to fight crime through transit seems to be working. A Columbia University study found that murders declined by 66% in areas where Metrocable stations were built. Dubbed "the cable car of the poor," theMetrocable systemis nowbeing replicated by other South American cities that are embracing the notion that mobility equals prosperity.


Anders Kofod-Petersen Scientist

Researchers around the globe are in a race to develop intelligent traffic signals to manage traffic woes. Norwegian artificial intelligence expert Anders Kofod- Petersen is one of them: He built a prototype using the camera from an Xbox lying around his lab in Trondheim and says the device will ease traffic congestion, helping to reduce pollution from idling engines, and discourage jaywalking.

I get annoyed when I drive to an intersection and I get a red and there's no pedestrian for miles. Why do I have to sit here, waiting for this invisible pedestrian?

Our signal looks at the body language of people near the traffic light. We look at certain points on a pedestrian--their hips, shoulders and gaze direction--and calculate a predicted path. If this path indicates that the pedestrian wants to cross the street, we know that.

We track these people moving about and do calculations that inform the systemthat here are, let's say, seven pedestrians who have the intention of crossing the road. And that will go into the scheduling system, which will also know something about how many cars are about. And then the decision is made to give the green to the pedestrians or to the cars.

We are also interested in knowing howlong we should keep the green light for the pedestrians. If it is some young sporty guy who runs, he needs the green for five seconds, but if old Mrs. Johnson is arriving with her wheeled walker, she probably needs slightly more time. So we are also trying to classify these pedestrians--are they children or old?--so we can adjust the length of the green-red cycle.

There's no way we can actually solve traffic. But we can make it better.

THE PLANNING GUIDE Before the Transitmix app, transit planners sketched out bus routes on pieces of paper, plugged them into Google Earth and then put the mileage into Excel to tally the cost. But that didn't take into account population density and demand. Transitmix-- created by former NASA developer Sam Hashemi--does. When he put a beta version online, 50,000 maps were created in the first month. "It's not sexy to start a company focusing on tools for government agencies," says Hashemi, "but the impact you can have is incredible."

It pays to go private

In the 1980s, state-owned Japan Railways was wheezing under mounting debt and ridership was stagnating. In a bold experiment, the Japanese government spun off the railway assets into several private companies, the biggest of which was East Japan Railway, known as JR East. Freed of the state's shackles, JR East became a lean, hyper-competitive transit corporation--it launched new routes, slashed travel times and made transit hubs ultra-efficient. Before "there was no competition or competitors, so there was no competitive spirit," says Takao Nishiyama, the company's executive director of overseas affairs. The company now moves an astounding 17 million passengers per day through Tokyo's spotless subway network and aboard the Shinkansen bullet trains--although they travel at 320 kilometres per hour, not one has recorded an accident since operations began more than four decades ago.

"We're looking at the Y generation--the first in decadeswhere a car is not their first priority. It doesn't even rank in the top five." --Joe starkman, president of condo developer Knightsbridge Homes, is proposing to build a pair of condo buildings in Calgary with no resident parking. This would be the first such development in Alberta and is politically sensitive enough that city council would have to approve it this spring. Opponents are calling the plan unrealistic, but Starkman counters that he's tapping into a worldwide trend--and he's able to offer a cheaper product since underground parking stalls in downtown Calgary cost about $60,000 to build.

Let the data guide you Jean-François Barsoum Senior managing consultant, Smarter Cities, Water and Transportation at IBM

Jean-François Barsoum helps cities co-ordinate the flow of information from traffic cameras, road sensors and public transit networks. Lyon and some other French cities are adopting the systemthat helps crunch the data and beam real-time information to users on their smartphones.

You could take the subway to the end of the line and then you could take a cab. or you could take a bike to the train station and then you could take the train. and because of the access to all the information--including how many parking spots there are for electric vehicles, if the trains are running late and if there is a road blockage--people can actually take all of this into account. if there's a delay, the system will alert you and say the mode you thought you were going to take to the airport won't work for you any more. it will also do predictions.

There's historical data which says that at 4 o'clock it usually looks like this, but it will also take in existing conditions and say, based on what it looks like now, here's what we think it is going to look like. it will actually think ahead: every time there is an incident or a change in what's happening on the highways, the system will let you know.


Seoul | $367 Million (U.S.)

Even on a bitterly cold winter evening in Seoul, South Korea, couples are strolling leisurely along the Cheonggyecheon, laughing and holding hands as they follow one of the paths that flank the stream. The waterway burbles along, in a sunken concrete thoroughfare, for nearly 11 kilometres, in the heart of this megacity of 10 million people. It's hard to imagine that, a decade ago, roughly 168,000 cars a day travelled over an enormous raised highway that towered over the Cheonggyecheon. Then, in 2000, urban planner Kee Yeon Hwang and his team convinced then-mayoral candidate Lee Myungbak of the merits of replacing the freeway with a recreational corridor. Together, they calmed a skeptical (and furious) public, and got the elongated park built in about 2 1/2 years. At the same time, the city added two roads and a 14.5-kilometre bus-only line beside the previous route of the freeway. It also built dozens of bridges to connect the two sides of the stream. The project is credited with increasing bus ridership by 15%, and subway ridership by 3.3% between 2003 and 2008; downtown traffic has also decreased by 2.3%. As for Lee, he became Korea's 10th president.


Donald Shoup is a rock star--probably the only rock star--in the world of parking policy. The radically commonsensical ideas in his 2005 book The High Cost of Free Parking have inspired a cadre of self-declared Shoupistas in cities around the world who want to apply the laws of supply and demand to on-street parking.

Tell me about your study of the Los Angeles neighbourhood of Westwood, where you found an astronomical amount of cruising for parking.

It's a 15-block area and, over a year, we estimated that it amounted to about 915,000 vehicle miles travelled. That's equivalent to four trips to the moon, or 36 trips around the Earth. It was 50 cents an hour at the meters, but the cheapest off-street parking was about $2--and often you get a similar ratio in other cities. If you look at the garage, it might be $10 for the first hour, $2 on the street. So the city is telling you to cruise. They did the same study in New York and found similar results. In San Francisco, they've tried out variable pricing in a big way over the last three years--the cost changes depending on location, time of day and day of the week--and it cut the time of cruising in half.

This makes me think of the Seinfeld episode where George wants a free spot. Why does parking make us crazy? Just what George said: "I never pay for parking. Paying for parking is like going to a prostitute. Why should I pay, if when I apply myself, maybe I can get it for free?" Well, of course that's what people are doing.

BUILD A TEST CITY How do you claim the title of selfdriving- car capital of the world? Build a $6.5-million (U.S.), 32-acre facility for autonomous vehicles. The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor'sMCity will simulate driving in a real urban centre, including a four-lane highway, streetlights, roundabouts and a variety of road surfaces. The project is backed by the major automakers, along with tech companies like Verizon and Qualcomm.

"There are health studies that show around 4,000 people die prematurely every year from poor air quality in London. And if that's the case in London, I can tell you now that in Beijing and Moscow, it's going to be a lot higher than that. If you are only going to punish the big dirty wagons initially and disincentivize those, then politically you are not going to upset too many people. Then, year on year, you can tighten up the standard, bit by bit. "

--Martin Powell is a former environmental adviser to london mayor boris johnson and is now head of urban development at siemens aG, whose technology is used to ding drivers £11.50 ($22) for motoring into the city centre. A new proposal would see central london become an ultralow-emissions zone by 2020. large older trucks would face a £100 ($190) daily charge, and cars more than 13 years old would be fined £12.50 ($24) daily.

Just do it

Jonas Eliasson Professor, Stockholm's Centre for Transport Studies

On Jan. 2, 2006--the morning before Stockholm introduced a 2 congestion charge--the bridges leading into the city centre were jammed with cars. On Jan. 3, however, traffic flowed freely, thanks to the 20% of drivers who kept their cars off the road. Eliasson helped launch the program.

Why was the charge so successful?

First, we already knew that economic policies affect behaviour, and that the effect is bigger if the prices are really visible. one of the things we did in stockholm was that we had a big electronic sign over the road reminding people that they really were paying a charge, even though they didn't get a bill until the end of the month.

And people had more alternatives than we appreciated--not only public transportation, but also in terms of departure times, other destinations, carpooling. each of these effects were relatively small--the number of drivers going to public transportation was less than 10%, but when you added up 5% going to other departure times, 3% going to carpooling and so on, you reach this almost magical figure of more than 20%.

How did drivers feel about it?

The benefits were so large that people started to like it--which i don't think many people had counted on. before, just 20% or 25% of voters were in favour. After a year, 70% or 75% of voters were in favour.

So, why are politicians so afraid of these kinds of charges?

I think many politicians underestimate that people will get used to almost any kind of change rather quickly. once the charge was in place, we asked people in stockholm if they had changed their behaviour--and it turned out most of them weren't even aware they had changed.

How do you translate stockholm's experience into advice for others?

It depends on what your particular congestion problems look like. when i ask that question, the response i get most often is, "we have congestion everywhere and all the time." But most cities have worse congestion around the city centre and on a couple of highways, and typically during rush hours. and so what you do is to put a price on the most severe bottlenecks--the junctions or ramps that cause these queues, which build up and lock other junctions. just putting a price on these places can help quite a lot.


London | $25 Billion

In a 2007 episode of the enormously popular U.K. motoring program Top Gear, the show's four hosts race one another across London, each using a different mode of transportation: car, bicycle, public transit or motorboat. In the end, the bike wins, a result that prompts host Jeremy Clarkson to disavow the entire segment for fear of alienating his car-mad fans. The real point was not to prove that two wheels are better than four, but to highlight the absolute madness of navigating one's way across the congested city. For Clarkson, relief is on the way in the form of Europe's largest construction project. Upon completion in 2018, the $25-billion Crossrail will span 118 kilometres from Heathrow Airport to Shenfield in Essex, about 50 kilometres away from the city's centre, and will move 200 million people a year. The newline, which will run both above and underground, will increase London's rail capacity by a whopping 10%. (The tunnelling is expected to be completed this spring. In the photo, Elizabeth, a tunnel machine named after the Queen, breaks through to Liverpool station in January, 2015.) At times, the project has seemed more like a massive archeological dig. In boring 42 kilometres of new tunnels, workers have discovered mammoth bones, Roman horseshoes and 3,000 skeletons dating back to the 16th century.

Associated Graphic








Can't see the forest for the techies
With the heyday of B.C. resources over, it's a good thing Vancouver has universities that could seed a tech sector--and the scenery that can keep it here
Friday, March 27, 2015 – Print Edition, Page P44

When the guides of the future plan the itinerary for the walking tour dubbed "Vancouver: Tech City," they'll start in Railtown. After all, this is where the social media company Hootsuite emerged in 2008, amid the cheap, converted warehouses between the Downtown Eastside and the docks on Burrard Inlet.

Back then, you called the neighbourhood "sketchy," but that got you the stink eye from Bill Tam, president and CEO of the BC Technology Industry Association: "It's edgy!"

The next stop on the tour will be Gastown, another old neighbourhood of small-footprint buildings full of walk-up offices, but one that was more gentrified in the early days--not "edgy" but "funky." In 2015, this was the home of entrepreneurial hothouses like Launch Academy, where hopeful youngsters learned how to innovate--or how to fail quickly and start again before they dragged their friends and family members into an expensive mistake.

Following a semi-circle, the tour will run through downtown, where the high-tech industry suddenly became so dominant around 2015 that it outbid law firms and government ministries for the city's most prestigious office space. And then it's on to Yaletown, another converted warehouse district that, in the dawning era, bristled with clubs, cafés, spas and fitness emporiums--and high-tech offices brimming with thousands of hipster techies who could afford that kind of thing.

Then, down past the Telus World of Science, tourists on this outing will come to Mount Pleasant, where Hootsuite took over a snazzy space in a move facilitated by the always-accommodating Vancouver Economic Commission.

Finally, saving the best for last, it will be on to the SkyTrain for a quick trip to Burnaby and the 10-minute walk to The Company That Saved the World.

Every great tech scene has an origin story, complete with a ground zero, like the Palo Alto garage where Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, late of Stanford, seeded Silicon Valley. In British Columbia, the point of genesis is in the Vancouver suburb of Richmond, in an old shed long since lost in the fog along the Fraser River delta. That's where Professor John MacDonald and physics grad Vern Dettwiler headed on Feb. 3, 1969, after they walked out of the University of British Columbia to set up a little remote-sensing company. They thought that they had an interesting technology, and they were disappointed that the brilliant young scientists and engineers they'd seen go through UBC all seemed to be leaving town. The two men hoped they might be able to keep some of the more promising students employed. Now, 46 years later, MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.--better known as MDA--is a communications and information company with more than 4,800 employees arrayed in plants and offices around the world, including 600 in its head office and still-leading research-and-development centre in Richmond. They build everything from black-box military communications systems to radar satellites. And in their benign shadow, the high-technology sector in B.C. now employs 84,000 people, more than the forestry, mining and oil and gas industries combined.

According to a recent KPMG report commissioned by the BC Technology Industry Association, B.C. boasts 9,000 hightech companies that together generate more than $15 billion in direct economic impact--that's 7.6% of provincial GDP.

That sudden growth, in a province that still can't shake the resource-industry self-image, has produced a buzz, and the buzz has turned to giddiness with the arrival and/or expansion in Vancouver of some major international players. Microsoft and Sony Pictures Imageworks have staked out huge footprints in what is arguably the highest-profile commercial space in downtown Vancouver--the redeveloped former Eaton's (later Sears) department store that anchors Pacific Centre at 725 Granville St. Barely a block away, Amazon is installing 1,000 high-tech employees in the Telus Garden, a new head office for a telco that is, itself, a tech giant, with 7,000 employees in Metro Vancouver, including 1,200 in the downtown core; 700 of them will work at this new location.

The attendant pressure has changed the face of commercial real estate in Vancouver's suddenly crowded downtown. Norm Taylor of commercial real estate firm CBRE says the market is set to absorb more than two million square feet of new office space in the next two years, the largest growth spurt in Vancouver's history. As of late February, that space was more than 60% pre-leased. And in a central business district once reserved for head offices (or what small share Vancouver has of them), high-end law and accounting firms and government, high tech--growing at twice the speed of the rest of the B.C. economy--is generating more than 40% of the demand for office space.

It's true, of course, that B.C.'s $15 billion in tech salaries, services, sales and exports pales next to California's $275 billion.

But it's early days. "B.C. is in that adolescent growth stage when parts of you grow faster than others. It's an awkward passage," says Bill Tam.

The gawky phase has demonstrated three things, each of which bodes well for the future. First, tech is all about people, and every person interviewed for this story made some reference to B.C.'s research universities as a source of both tech geniuses and bold entrepreneurs. (Full disclosure: I have written for the presidents of UBC, Simon Fraser University and the University of Victoria.)

Second, tech is sticky. Sure, it's not physically stuck to a resource like mining or forestry. But it's surprisingly difficult to pick up and move an established tech company--especially the creative part.

Third, tech is all about critical mass. Once you have the above-mentioned talent pool, you get networking and creative cross-pollination. And you get spinoffs minted by people with serious industry experience. While no one is bold enough to say Vancouver has reached critical mass, the success of homegrown heavyweights like Hootsuite, and the arrival or expanding presence of international anchors, indicates a sector heading toward maturity.

Actually, "sector" isn't the right word to describe this phenomenon any more. In a time and place where a surprising number of people subscribe to both Greenpeace and Harvard Business Review, we talk about the tech "ecosystem" and its "biodiversity."

Tech is no longer as sterile as a lab. It's a forest of interaction where little things feed big things and big things, in turn, seed new little things.

The best illustration of this is the BC Techmap, an interactive visual history compiled by PricewaterhouseCoopers over the last 18 years. The map shows thick bundles of connections emanating from the research universities. In a 2013 report on some 220 UBC spinoffs and affiliated companies, Colliers International calculated total market capitalization of $2.5 billion and total annual revenue of $400 million. SFU says that it has "spun out, mentored, incubated and assisted over 200 companies, adding more than 2,400 jobs to our economy and contributing an estimated $186 million in annual tax revenues." That's just direct economic activity driven from university labs--everything from biotech contenders like QLT Inc. to cleaner-energy industries like Westport Innovations. The universities, with help from institutions such as the British Columbia Institute of Technology and Emily Carr University of Art + Design, also spawn the engineers, scientists and technicians in clean tech, the health professionals and researchers in biotech, the computer and electrical engineers in web tech, and the designers, artists and storyboard writers in gaming and computer animation. Oh yes, and the business people.

Once in the tech sector, few of those people sit still. One of the next biggest tentacle bundles on the Techmap runs from MDA to the many dozens of other companies that have benefited over the years from lessons learned at the knee of MDA's masters. Another bundle emanates from Ballard Power Systems, the once-ballyhooed fuel-cell innovator whose biggest actual output to date may be counted in talent that it has trained and sent on to other enterprises.

Consider Mossadiq Umedaly, who was Ballard's chief financial officer in its mid-'90s heyday when Ballard, Daimler-Benz and Ford together looked like they might seize the whole burgeoning market for no-emission vehicles (said market imploded when regulatory leader California decided that hybrids were a more practical alternative). Umedaly says that Ballard's chairman at the time, the late Fraser Mustard, used to divide the tech world into "doers" and "thinkers," and then, à la Rumsfeld, into "doers who think" and "thinkers who do."

Umedaly, a doer who thinks, left Ballard before its slide and, in 1999, assumed the presidency (and later the chair) of Xantrex, a power electronics company that had been working on unsexy but practical power inverters since 1983. Umedaly saw the potential to scale up the Xantrex operation, especially in an age when inverters were becoming essential to managing intermittent power from renewable sources like wind and solar. He found a first round of financing and then floated an IPO in 2004, and by the time he sold the company in two pieces to Ametek and Schneider Electric, Xantrex was "the biggest clean-tech company in B.C.," with annual revenues of $250 million.

Schneider is huge; "it's the French Siemens," says Schneider's VP operations and CFO for solar, Jill Tipping. With 150,000 employees around the world and 3,000 in Canada, the company had the capacity to relocate its 200 new Burnaby employees, specialists in solar power, pretty much anywhere--a thought that Tipping says never came up. Instead, the company's global solar business unit is headquartered in Burnaby.

Although Xantrex had no manufacturing here, almost no sales and--given the low cost of B.C.'s hydroelectric power--no market, "this is the brain trust; it's the gold mine. The risk of moving it and disrupting it accidentally is too high," Tipping says. In the tech world, "you do the things that are smart to do in the places that are smart to do them," she adds, pointing to Apple, which designs in California and manufactures in China. Tipping's only reservation about Metro Vancouver is that question of critical mass. There is great local talent, but Schneider still has to recruit mid-career managers and senior engineers from elsewhere. So, Tipping says, Schneider is delighted to see companies like Microsoft upping their Vancouver presence. "Even if they're not directly in our space, it still creates a cluster effect that's good for us."

The story is similar at the Vancouver operations of what is now SAP, the world leader in enterprise software and software-related services, with 130 offices around the world and 74,000 employees. The 1,200-person Vancouver operation began in the 1980s as a local start-up called Crystal Services.

Owing to a succession of takeovers, it was later known as Seagate Software, Crystal Decisions and Business Objects before being acquired by SAP in 2008. Again, SAP has the global capacity to shift or absorb smaller operations, but in Vancouver, it chose to consolidate and expand. Kirsten Sutton, managing director for SAP Labs Canada, says this location is now the SAP Canadian Centre of Excellence for Analytics--the largest software development employer in B.C., it's SAP's locus for innovation in some of its most important product lines. As with Schneider and Xantrex, Sutton says, moving was never an option. "The DNA is what SAP needed," and that DNA is peculiar to Vancouver. "It's the culture, the worklife balance. People who work here love it here and it comes through in their work."

In any story of Vancouver, it is, of course, inevitable that the work-life thing would come up. The city is so often dismissed as being full of people who spend too much time hiking and skiing and standing in the path of pipelines. Sitting in the spectacular downtown wedged between False Creek and Burrard Inlet in the lee of the North Shore Mountains, it's easy to understand how people in the rest of the country would find Vancouverites smug (even if self-deluding about whether it's worth the cost of living). But nearly everyone interviewed for this story had recently travelled to Eastern Canada, and they all felt compelled to give a weather report. In a February phone conversation, Don Osborne, president of the MDA Information Systems Group, mentioned that he was looking out across a busy, balmy Richmond golf course--and that, in Ottawa and Montreal, which he had visited the previous week, the temperature had been minus 35. SAP's Kirsten Sutton phoned from the airport in Toronto. Minus 25. Dennis Lopes, head of legal and corporate affairs for Microsoft Canada, called from the Vancouver airport, taking his last whiff of air redolent of early cherry blossoms. He was flying home to Microsoft's Canadian head office, also in the Toronto area, and he was dreading the change.

Microsoft is busily recruiting for its newest international development centre in the spanking new Pacific Centre space. (It has similar centres around the world from China to Finland, but no others in Canada or the U.S.) To this end, Lopes says, "We're recruiting from around the world and, from a candidate perspective, Vancouver is very desirable, despite the high cost of living." He went on to deliver an analysis straight out of Richard Florida. In addition to being warm and beautiful and conducive to an outdoor lifestyle, Vancouver is richly multicultural and highly diverse, all aspects that are attractive to people from the creative sector. It's also close to Microsoft's international headquarters in Seattle, although what really matters, for people collaborating on projects, is that it's in the same time zone. Asked, though, if this is a recruiting centre whose real purpose is to consolidate staff, the best of whom would then be cherry-picked to go south of the border, Lopes dismisses the suggestion out of hand. Microsoft already had a Vancouver development staff of about 300. Rather than sending those folks south, it's more than doubling their numbers.

The staff in the new 143,000-square-foot Pacific Centre office will number 700, and there is a rumour (which Lopes declined to confirm) that Microsoft has told its broker that it may hang on to 75,000 square feet in an existing office in tony Yaletown. Microsoft is digging in--and in a way that contributes to a growing Canadian myth: head office, sales and marketing types go to Toronto; techies, creative and other hipsters to the Left Coast.

Mind you, it's not all about the mountains, the oceans and the choice of three cappuccino purveyors on every block.

Randy Lake, executive vice-president and general manager of the animation and visual-effects leader Sony Pictures Imageworks, brings a hard, cold, cashbased reality back into play when he says, "I love Vancouver." Having moved the Imageworks head office from Culver City, California, to Pacific Centre as of April 1, "I would not want to pick up and leave. But if the [tax] incentives were gone tomorrow--well, that's my nightmare scenario." The sweetest of those incentives, for Sony, is the DAVE--the Digital Animation or Visual Effects--tax credit, which lately means that a credit of "17.5% can be applied against any qualified B.C. labour expenditures that are incurred while performing eligible post-production activities in B.C." Lake says this break, more than any other factor, drove the relocation from Culver City.

Still, even Lake returns to the metaphor of the high-tech ecosystem. His 750 animators and visual-effects specialists will be in the same building as Microsoft's development staff, and they all will be mere blocks away from colleagues in Gastown and Yaletown, where Sony had maintained a smaller production studio for the last five years. Lake said the firm was originally attracted by the talent in homegrown firms like Distinctive Software (now part of Electronic Arts) and Image Engine. Here again, there is strength in numbers. The visualeffects community is highly nomadic, jumping from one film production to another and--when necessary--from one production company to another. So, again, it's easier to recruit if prospective employees know that a subsequent shift would take them to, say, the sizable Industrial Light & Magic facility down the street and not all the way down the I5 to California.

There are two other broad aspects to the B.C. tech story--and two other places in the ecosystem. At one extreme is the bold entrepreneurial start-up--the 5,000 one-person operations that don't even get included in the count of 9,000 existing high-tech companies. At the other are the Hail Mary candidates, like General Fusion. This is The Company That Saved the World (or at least Would Save): a $50-million gamble to produce an energy source that founder Michel Laberge insists would render fossil fuels redundant for everyone on Earth.

Laberge personifies the surprisingly short distance between those extremes. First, he is, himself, an indirect product of MDA. Following the BC Techmap, MDA begat Creo, the laser-imaging company that was acquired by Kodak in 2005. Laberge worked at Creo for nine years after receiving a PhD in physics from UBC. At Creo, he says, he learned there was more to business than "solving a triple integral equation."

But he got bored with Creo's lasers, took his savings and set to work, in an abandoned gas station on Bowen Island, on a simple fusion power plant.

In other words, a decade ago, he was one of those start-up companies with no employees. But, by his efforts, he generated both heat and light. In fact, he generated enough energy to convince Mike Volker, director of SFU's Innovation Office and co-founder of the Vancouver Angel Technology Network, to raise a total of $420,000 from 60 investors. Then Laberge recruited Creo colleague Doug Richardson ("for no salary!") as CEO, and, between them, they made enough progress to attract another $50 million in financing, including contributions from everyone from Chrysalix Global Network and the oil sands company Cenovus to Jeff Bezos. They're now working on the components of a fusion-energy reactor that will have no long-lived radioactive waste and a nearly inexhaustible fuel supply from sources such as heavy hydrogen atoms from seawater. "We're trying to convince ourselves that it will work," Laberge says. "Then we will need a big pile of cash." He thinks their design could result in a plant that costs only $200 million, compared to the nearly $20-billion (U.S.)

bill for the latest experimental fusion reactor in France.

This gets to one of the last, limiting factors affecting Vancouver's reach for tech greatness: big piles of cash. While these seem to be available in the trunk of every Silicon Valley Jaguar, everyone complains that they are in short supply north of the border.

Haig Farris, the famed West Coast angel investor who cofounded and ran Ventures West, and who helped raise the $200 million that put the Burnaby quantum computing company D-Wave on the map, sniffs at the suggestion. "I've been in this business since 1973 and it hasn't changed one little bit: I go to Silicon Valley and all I hear is, 'It's so hard to raise money.'" But then he acknowledges that, in some ways, things have changed. "Now physics and math are driving everything and people in the venture capital community don't get it. Neither the media nor the investors understand. So, there's lots of angel money. But it's hard to get people to commit for longterm, complicated things: for artificial intelligence, learning computers and materials science. The best deals are still the hardest to sell."

And yet, Mossadiq Umedaly, who has also spent much of the past decade managing or facilitating tech investments, says: "For a good idea, there's always money."

Which bit of optimism leads to a last word from Laberge, who is Québécois, funny and self-deprecating in a completely unconvincing way, and who, if he succeeds, could generate a dividend that will make the combined job-creating tech fortunes of Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk seem modest. Laberge offers both a complaint, and a solution: "It's as hard to find the money as it is to find the fusion. I walked a lot to find the money. So, I'd say, you need a good idea and long legs."

Associated Graphic


Winter scenes from Canada's new tech town, from far left: the new Telus Garden building; a nearby art installation and, below it, a typical Yaletown block of offices, condos and restaurants; chilling on the seawall; chilling again, this time at SAP; condos on the park--and the water; an Aquabus ferry below the Cambie Bridge

Hootsuite employees work at communal tables. The office boasts tent-style meeting rooms, local art and beer on Fridays. At right, Hamilton Street as work gets out

Michel Laberge's company, General Fusion, foresees a new form of clean energy. "The sphere," centre, is filled with molten leadlithium that is pumped to form a vortex

Fixing Japan's never-ending lost decade
Saturday, March 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B6

TOKYO -- Tsuyoshi Nishikawa and his wife Rina look every bit the modern Japanese couple as they walk cheerfully along a street in Tokyo's sparkling Marunouchi district.

The stylish pair live in Saitama prefecture, just outside the capital. Mr. Nishikawa, dressed in a crisp navy jacket and suede shoes, works for a major Japanese construction company. Ms. Nishikawa, in a sleek winter coat and black heels, works in a café.

The Nishikawas got married two months ago and seem to embody the new-found optimism surrounding Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's radical "Abenomics" plan, aimed at pulling the Japanese economy out of its two-decade slump. The stock market recently reached a 15-year high, as investors bet the fragile recovery will gather steam. Now the government is transitioning from the first two "arrows" - printing money to end Japan's two decades of deflation and spending huge sums on public infrastructure - to the third arrow: Structural reforms to boost Japan's growth.

But like the broader Japanese economy, the Nishikawas are far from prosperous. Mr. Nishikawa's wages have stagnated and his wife only works part-time, a member of the increasingly irregular work force. Like many ordinary Japanese, they do not invest in stocks, and have seen little benefit as shares have risen.

"I don't think Abenomics has had any effect," Mr. Nishikawa says.

Three years after he took power, Mr. Abe is still struggling to make Abenomics work. His structural reforms have made some progress, but the benefits of Abenomics have not trickled down to ordinary citizens, while Mr. Abe's reforms have begun to tear at the fabric of Japanese society.

Corporate profits have climbed with the weaker yen, and Japan's elites are getting richer. But the countryside is emptying out, as farmers face bankruptcy. Japan's growing ranks of elderly, meanwhile, are worried about health care and social security, while young people wonder what Japan's future holds for them.

This year is the test for Abenomics' success - or failure. Early indications are worrisome: The government on Friday reported a zero consumer price index increase for February, a sign that the pull of deflation has returned despite massive stimulus efforts.

Japan's economic overhaul is being closely watched by other countries grappling with some of the same problems - deflationary forces, slack growth and policies that rely on surging levels of government debt.

As the "third arrow" reforms roll out, the confidence of couples like the Nishikawas is crucial for a sustained economic turnaround in Japan. That's because the country's structural problems - a shrinking work force, a lack of women in the workplace, aging farmers - are inextricably tied to demographics: Japan's population is aging rapidly and has begun to shrink. Japan's leaders desperately need people to feel financially secure enough to have children. That has not happened yet.

"We do talk about children, but then we talk about wages and we're not confident in our financial situation," says Mr. Nishikawa, 43. "We're worried that we won't be able to have kids."

Window of opportunity

After the Second World War, with many of its cities in ruins, Japan began a tentative economic recovery before growing furiously for decades. In the 1970s, growth was surging, Japan introduced a generous social security scheme, and Harvard's Ezra Vogel wrote Japan as No. 1: Lessons for America.

Surging growth turned into a runaway bubble that eventually collapsed in the 1990s, ushering in a so-called "lost decade" that has never really ended. Real estate prices and the stock market crashed.

Japan still has world-class infrastructure, railway firms, auto makers, research institutes and financial institutions, and is the world's third-largest economy. It has also maintained its high standard of living and low unemployment, thanks to a preference for wage cuts over layoffs.

But the slump has dragged on, and Japan's ability to maintain its quality of life looks doubtful. As administrations experimented with Keynesian stimulus, government debt ballooned dangerously - and is now 250 per cent of Japan's gross domestic product.

Mr. Abe inherited a bleak economy. But with a snap election in late 2014 behind him, economists say he now has a chance where others failed: A window of political stability, a central bank governor in Haruhiko Kuroda who believes in slaying deflation, and a government united behind a mission.

"Before, there was not really prime ministerial leadership within the government," says Susumu Kataoka, a senior bureaucrat at the Cabinet Secretariat, which co-ordinates policies. "With Abe, that has dramatically changed. There is a big stress on each ministry, on each minister, that if [Abenomics] is not implemented, it is their fault."

The full breadth of the reforms being undertaken is astounding: the first major agricultural reform in 60 years; liberalization of the energy sector; health care reforms; a push to increase female work force participation; corporate governance reform; an attempt to get citizens to invest in riskier assets; and programs to bring in foreign workers, in a society where immigration is taboo.

"We've seen concrete effects from Abenomics," says Kiyoshi Tanigawa, manager of industrial policy at the Japan Business Federation, or Keidanran. "Of course, there are some weaknesses in consumption that we see in Japan. But we think we need to push forward with reforms. This is an important year to see if Japan can actually come back."

One clear victory for Mr. Abe's structural reform came in early February when negotiators struck a deal with the Central Union of Agricultural Co-operatives, or JAZenchu, an enormous farming group that lobbies for steep tariffs against foreign products and controls a vast amount of Japanese agriculture. The deal stripped JAZenchu of its ability to audit the roughly 700 co-ops across Japan - a first step in Mr. Abe's vision of forcing farmers to become more competitive as he pursues the Trans-Pacific Partnership freetrade deal, which includes Canada.

Shin Haseda, a 61-year-old rice farmer in Akita prefecture, is anxious about all the change. He may be the last in a line of rice farmers at least 15 generations long. Like many of Japan's farmers, whose average age is 66, Mr. Haseda has only a small plot of land (2.6 hectares), another parttime job (in his case, as a dog trainer), and has a tenuous succession plan - his son is a businessman in Tokyo.

"My son is thinking, if there was a job in Akita, that he could work part-time there, and also farm, but so far that hasn't happened," Mr. Haseda says. "I'm a smallscale farmer, so I'm the target of Abe's reforms. People talk about competitiveness and globalization, but we have to ask whether we can survive with global competition."

Agricultural reform is a microcosm of Mr. Abe's broader dilemma: Economists like it, but people are wary.

Saito Kazuhiro, 38, a thirdgeneration rancher in Hokkaido with four employees and 240 Holsteins, worries Mr. Abe is out to create a different sort of Japan.

"The government is thinking, the larger the [farm] size, the better - but this isn't the right way," he says. "You have to provide delicate care, and if the companies become bigger, it's going to be hard. Quality control is going to suffer."

Gender inequality

When Kimie Iwata graduated in 1971, Japanese women were expected to quit their jobs after their first child and become homemakers. Despite her own marriage and children, Ms. Iwata defied expectations and pushed on with her government career, working long hours and dealing with transfers to other parts of Japan. When she moved to the private sector in 2003, she became the first female executive vice-president at Shiseido, a wellknown Japanese cosmetics firm founded in 1872.

"It was a hard life," she says. "I don't want women of this generation to go through the same hardships."

The statistics on gender equality in Japan are dismal. Roughly 40 per cent of Japanese women don't work, far more than other developed nations, and roughly 70 per cent of women quit after having a child. Women earn 30 per cent less than male counterparts, and nearly 90 per cent of Japanese managers are men.

Now an adviser to Shiseido and an outside director at Kirin Holdings, Ms. Iwata also serves on a cabinet committee composed of ministers and executives. She was around for the implementation of Japan's 1986 law on gender equality, and has seen the government become more focused on getting - and keeping - women working as Japan's demographic crisis looms larger.

And that crisis is huge: Estimates suggest Japan's workingage population will fall to just 44 million by 2060 from 80 million in 2013, while Japan's total population could shrink in that same time frame to about 86 million from 128 million.

"This time they're serious," Ms. Iwata says.

Mr. Abe has pledged to create an additional 400,000 child care spots by the end of 2017, and has introduced a number of measures to publicize firms' progress on gender equality - which includes getting companies to declare the number of women in executive posts in annual filings. But Ms.

Iwata knows this requires no less than a wholesale shift in mindsets. And although there is buy-in from a thin slice of elite executives who are sensitive to Mr. Abe's pleas, she sees great resistance among middle managers.

"Middle management is the problem," she says. "Many managers understand what's written on paper, and the head of the personnel department is serious. But there are a lot of managers who haven't pushed women to succeed, and so they're hesitant."

Mr. Abe, though, has seen some progress. The government says more than one million women have joined the work force since the start of Mr. Abe's reign, while the percentage of women in management has risen from a paltry 6.9 per cent in 2012 to 8.3 per cent in 2014.

Kaoru Nomiyama, a 22-year-old who just landed a job at a major insurance company, plans to keep working after marriage, but figured that means she needs to work for a big, listed company with more flexibility - and under more scrutiny - than smaller firms that employ the majority of Japanese.

"I was thinking about the future after I married someone, because I want to keep working," she says.

"I can get transferred if my husband gets transferred."

Sato Sawako, 32, doesn't have that option. The TV producer has a one-year-old child and works for a smaller company she worries may not abide by standards aimed at large firms.

"At the company I work at, I don't see how the policies will work," Ms. Sato says. She couldn't find a spot in a government-subsidized daycare and is already paying for a more expensive private option, but she suggests that things are getting better for women in Japan. "Because everyone's talking about the need to improve the system, it will be easier."

Corporate governance For Masaki Shizuka, it's been a long battle.

About 15 years ago - well into Japan's economic malaise - the senior executive officer at the Tokyo Stock Exchange began pushing for reforms in corporate governance that would raise standards and help kick-start growth.

It did not go well. "We got so much resistance," he says.

Japanese boards of directors are infamously closed, clubby and resistant to radical overhauls of flailing, unprofitable companies.

Boards were often stacked with company managers, Mr. Shizuka says, and it would not be uncommon for boards to be made up of a company's separate divisions - making strategic shifts practically impossible. Outside directors were rare, and were often appointed from parent companies or trading partners.

If Mr. Shizuka seems cheerful, it's because he says things are changing - thanks to Mr. Abe.

Mr. Abe's government introduced a law that requires companies to appoint independent outside directors - or explain publicly why they did not. "In the West, independent directors generally prevent risk," he says. "But in Japan, the independent directors need to encourage it."

And now, 15 years later, the draft corporate governance code he championed has been created to reinvent corporate Japan - everything from demanding explanations of keiretsu-style cross-holdings of shares in related public firms and anti-takeover measures, to introducing codes of conduct and protection for whistleblowers. The foreign investors who first plowed money into Japanese stocks have been followed by Japanese investors - proof Japan believes in itself, he adds.

Broadly, the new rules seek to reinforce a sense that Japanese firms are not make-work projects for a declining nation, but dynamic firms working for shareholders. After decades of avoiding layoffs by implementing wage cuts, this is big change. Before Abenomics, Mr. Shizuka says, people only talked about redistributing wealth, not creating it.

"There's no doubt that this is very drastic reform," he says. "It's [now] their mission to improve the value of their companies.

Before this, it was to secure the livelihoods of their workers.

"We have to understand that there is some risk involved, but if we don't take the risk and succeed, our children's generation will be burdened with debt."

The reforms touch almost every aspect of Japanese people's lives, from the food farmers provide and the wages Mr. Abe is trying to get raised, to the makeup of people's investments - which Mr. Abe is trying to shift away from government bonds and toward riskier assets such as stocks.

Tetsuya Inoue, a former secretary to Bank of Japan's deputy governor and now chief researcher for Nomura Research Institute Ltd., says Abenomics is working, particularly because of the deliberately weakened yen. But while this benefited multinationals, smaller firms that sell to domestic consumers and import materials will have to "suffer" through higher input costs, he said.

This uneven impact is similar to other aspects of Abenomics, and will inevitably lead to more tension. He notes that there will be resistance "on every aspect" of Abenomics, particularly with reforms to social security.

"It could change the structure of the society," Mr. Inoue says.

"The general public will need to be be patient for the time being.

But there is growing impatience."

One of those changes has been the soaring number of part-time and temporary workers, which numbered just 4 per cent in 1988 but now account for nearly 40 per cent of employees. Temporary employees are less likely to marry or have children, and have little job security. For the young, there is a crushing sense that - as elsewhere in the developed world - the future will be tough. And the government is piling up so much debt that people now refer to it as a generational transfer.

"I expect things will be worse in the future. There's no way we'll have a better life. We'll have to pay back all that debt," says Okinaka Haruki, 25, who works for an online book seller. "Right now, I don't have enough confidence in my financial situation that I could provide for a family."

Despite the see-saw nature of Japan's comeback, many think wrenching changes are necessary if Japan wants to maintain its quality of life - as well as regain its global stature in an insecure region. That means weathering tough reforms and perhaps even tinkering with immigration from other Asian countries to offset population decline, Mr. Inoue says, even if it's divisive. Over the next year, it will be crucial to see whether corporations spread wealth at home, and keep wages above inflation. That might happen. In mid-March, Toyota, Nissan and Hitachi and other major Japanese firms agreed to some of the biggest base pay increases in more than a decade as part of Japan's annual "Spring Offensive" salary negotiations.

"The government, companies and unions all share the feeling [about] the virtuous economic cycle," said Tatsuro Ueda, Toyota's managing officer.

If Mr. Abe's efforts fail to rejuvenate the economy and Japan's confidence, however, the burgeoning demographic crisis will only deepen the country's economic woes - shrinking GDP, and putting the country's future in doubt. That's why it's necessary to push through with reforms, refocus on high technology and new industries such as robotics, exploit Japan's long history of investing in Southeast Asia and hope its reputation for quality provides a competitive advantage, says Japan Institute of International Affairs president Yoshiji Nogami.

"People won't listen to an economically weak Japan," says Mr. Nogami, a former high-ranking dipolomat. "We can't compete with countries with younger people like India or a huge population like China. We have to aim for an economy of quality."


Monetary policy

The Bank of Japan is pursuing an aggressive policy of monetary easing, injecting liquidity into the economy with the hope of ending the country's two decades of deflation. With a firm target of pushing inflation up to 2 per cent, the central bank launched an unprecedented bond-buying program that saw the bank's assets reach 57 per cent of Japan's gross domestic product in 2014 - more than double the U.S. Federal Reserve's holdings. With the steep drop in the price of oil, inflation has fallen back a bit - but it is still rising faster than wages, putting a damper on household spending, which has declined for months.

Fiscal stimulus

The second "arrow" is massive fiscal stimulus spending mainly targeted at infrastructure projects and stimulating private investment. The government has spent more than $200-billion (U.S.) on a package the government said would boost GDP by two percentage points and create roughly 600,000 jobs by pouring money into new public works such as tunnels, bridges and earthquake-resistant roads. Although critics recall infrastructure projects tossed into rural areas from previous governments, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government won a snap election in December - and announced more stimulus.

Structural reforms

The third arrow - structural reforms of Japan's economy in order to spur long-term growth - is in many ways the most important, and will likely have the deepest impact on most people's lives. The reforms span nearly the entire economy: a new corporate governance code; dramatic agricultural reforms; policies to boost women's participation in the work force; health care and energy market liberalization; foreign worker programs in an immigration-adverse nation. The reforms have begun to roll out, and have had some impact: The stock market, for instance, is soaring. But many ordinary people fear the impact may increase disparities in an historically egalitarian society.

Associated Graphic

Tsuyoshi Nishikawa, wearing the ubiquitous commuter mask, with his wife Rina in Tokyo's Marunouchi district: 'I don't think Abenomics has had any effect.'


Protesters hold 'No to the Abe' placards at rally in Tokyo on March 22.


A closed restaurant in Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture.


Toyota's Takaoka factory in Toyota City produces 130,000 vehicles a year.


Pedestrians cross a street in Tokyo.


Hockey's tectonic plates have shifted. The decades-old position of NHL enforcer appears to be gone, or at least banished to the minor leagues; suddenly, those players are too one-dimensional, too controversial and too prone to health problems. Patrick White finds the last refuge of the scoundrel
Saturday, March 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S1

ROME, N.Y. -- The radio dial in Rome, N.Y., this March day is plugged with complaints about the coldest February on record and ads for debt-consolidation services.

Snowbanks block any view of intersection cross-traffic as Tom Sestito pilots his SUV up Black River Blvd. and pulls into Dippin Donuts.

Sestito's dad calls him a "burger-and-fries kind of guy" while Sestito's brother, Tim, also a pro hockey player, "is more a tofuand-cottage-cheese type." Perhaps heeding that knock, Sestito orders a coffee and avoids the 60 varieties of confectionery on offer. He squeezes his 6-foot-5, 225-pound frame into a booth near the window and nudges a black tuque up his forehead, revealing a scar that interrupts his left eyebrow and a facial expression that says he'd rather be 3,700 kilometres west of here.

Not just here at Dippin Donuts, but here in Rome, his blue-collar hometown that has lost nearly one-quarter of its population to job loss over the past couple decades. He already punched his way out of here once, scraped his knuckles all the way to the NHL and a twoyear, $1.5-million (U.S.) contract to play with the Vancouver Canucks through the end of the 2015 season.

On average, an NHLer plays about six seasons in the league. They have to make hay while the sun shines. By Pete Sestito's rough estimation, his son would be 27 by contract's end - his athletic peak - perched on solid footing for five or six more contracts before retirement.

But then hockey's tectonic plates shifted.

As if by collusion, teams dropped their fighters after 60 years of embracing and encouraging them. Suddenly, they were too slow, too one-dimensional, too violent, too controversial, too costly, too prone to concussion, too associated with addiction, depression and suicide. Their advanced stats stunk.

No single argument made much sense; together they proved decisive.

Earlier this year, the Canucks sent Sestito down to the AHL's Utica Comets. After 10 games with the club, the Canucks issued a three-sentence press release saying his playing days for the club - both the Comets and the Canucks - were done.

He would continue to receive his salary. Now, here he is in his 27th year, making $850,000 to clutch a Styrofoam cup and stare out at the snowbanks.

"This right here, what I'm doing right now, I'm bored out of my mind," he says. "I wake up in the morning and wonder what I'm going to do besides work out."

The details of how the NHL's most willing fighter - 19 bouts last year - went from powerplay time with the Sedin twins to Dippin Donuts are muddled. Clearer is the larger trend Sestito personifies.

In the words of Brian McGrattan, the top heavyweight of the past nine years and a frequent Sestito combatant, the decades-old position of enforcer is "over."

"It's done," he says following a recent practice at the Glens Falls Civic Center, the crumbling upstate New York home of the Adirondack Flames. "It was fun while it lasted, but if they're sending me down, that means it all over."

Not everyone's willing to accept his prognosis.

The rise of the gorillas

Ask hockey's undisputed sage, Scotty Bowman, when the modern enforcer role began and his mind scoots back through generations, shooting past McGrattan and Bob Probert, skipping over Chris (Knuckles) Nilan and David (Tiger) Williams, landing in the late 1950s.

The rest of the six-team league had realized they could beat the grace and speed of the dominant Montreal Canadiens with flying knuckles and high elbows.

They actively acquired mean players. The Habs refused to engage in the arms race until the crucible of the 1961 playoffs.

At least three Canadiens - including Jean Béliveau - suffered concussions against a nasty Chicago Blackhawks team that would go on to win the Cup.

"That Chicago team was full of big, strong guys like Reggie Fleming and Murray Balfour," says Bowman, who was then a scout with the Canadiens. "Then Toronto won cups in '62, '63 and '64 with some pretty tough teams. Montreal went through those years struggling. The skill players were not able to exhibit the skill they had."

Canadiens general manager Frank Selke declared he never wanted to see his stars "bullied by these gorillas" again. He added John Ferguson, Ted Harris and Terry Harper to the roster.

The trio racked up 448 penalty minutes in leading the team to the Stanley Cup in 1965.

"These guys made a huge impact," Bowman says. "But they were regular players. They played a regular shift. They weren't the part-time players you'd see later."

The arms race ramped up with expansion in 1967. For new teams based in U.S. cities lacking discerning hockey fans, fights sold tickets - or so owners thought. The enforcer role underwent mission creep, transforming from policeman into gladiator, entertainer - a sentiment captured in Slap Shot.

Later teams would take the Selke model to an extreme. Don Cherry stocked his "Big Bad Bruins" with grinders and fighters. After being pushed around in its first few seasons, the Philadelphia Flyers squad beefed up with the likes of Dave (The Hammer) Schultz and André (Moose) Dupont, resulting in two Cups.

The league cracked down, creating special penalties to target bench-clearing brawls and other thuggish behaviour.

Soon, a new enforcer model emerged - the nuclear deterrent.

Wayne Gretzky arrived during the Slap Shot era, but he avoided on-ice muggings thanks to the presence of 6-foot-3 Dave Semenko. Semenko was so feared, that, according to, he needed only 70 career fights to establish his supremacy. Gretzky, meanwhile, was able to exhibit his skill.

After a few seasons, everyone wanted a Semenko. The enforcer became a full-time fighter with his own training regimen. As their size increased, their playing time went down. In his final season, Tony Twist, a ferocious 6-foot-1 fighter for the St. Louis Blues, weighed 270 pounds and clocked five minutes of playing time a game. The heavyweights became superheavyweights. In 2001, the Minnesota Wild drafted a 6-foot-7 behemoth named Derek Boogaard.

"It became an era of my Snuffleupagus against your Snuffleupagus," says Ross Bernstein, author of The Code, an exploration of NHL fighting for which he interviewed dozens of enforcers, past and present. "But something had to give; the players were becoming so big and fast but the sheet of ice remained the same size. You could see it: These guys were the last dinosaurs."

Détente spread league wide

For Matt Kassian, it was about 2 p.m. on April 15, 2014, when something finally gave, when the comet struck, when his imminent extinction as a hockey player appeared.

Since 16, he had followed the enforcer formula of hard work, aching metacarpals and deference to authority. But on that spring day, his boss, Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray, held a season-ending press conference and casually mentioned he had no intention of re-signing his designated enforcer - Kassian.

"I found out on Twitter it was over. I was completely blindsided," Kassian says. "My phone blew up with messages. I'd met with Bryan the day before and it wasn't clear that that was what he was going to say. I didn't have time to renegotiate my contract. I didn't have time to talk to an agent. I didn't have a chance to prepare."

In the midst of the press conference, Murray revealed he'd chatted with Leafs GM Dave Nonis before the season-ending Battle of Ontario. The two executives agreed to dress a smaller, fight-free line-up. That détente has since spread league wide.

Over the off-season, the likes of Kassian, Krys Barch, Paul Bissonnette, Kevin Westgarth and several others failed to find NHL employment. In September, the Toronto Maple Leafs demoted popular fighters Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren. The duo have since accumulated 23 games and one point for the Marlies. The Marlies denied a request to speak with either player for this story.

Shortly after the Murray press conference, Kassian and his wife packed up their Ottawa home and moved back to his hometown of Sherwood Park, Alta. He enrolled in business classes and began teaching at a hockey school. "It's pointless to sit and wait and not do anything and then if something doesn't happen you're caught with your pants down," he says.

He's always been one to plan ahead. In 2005, at 16, he jumped over the boards on his first shift in his first game for the WHL's Vancouver Giants and fought the biggest opposing player he could find. Never the most graceful skater or prodigious goal-scorer, he knew he had to announce himself in some other way or, perhaps, forever squelch his bigleague dreams.

"I knew I was going to have to fight him," Kassian says from his parent's Sherwood Park home.

"Because of my size and my style of play, I had to."

The role didn't bother Kassian.

A self-proclaimed "Jesus guy," he could think of no more virtuous job than protecting his teammates. But things became tough in 2011, the year three of his fellow enforcers - Rick Rypien, Wade Belak and Boogaard - died for reasons friends and family members linked to their careers.

Researchers have studied the brains of several enforcers, including Boogaard's, and found evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative disease that disrupts the medial temporal lobe, a region responsible for impulse control, anxiety and memory. The NFL has agreed to pay out a reported $1-billion to settle a CTE-related lawsuit with players. The NHL wants to avoid a similar disbursement.

As marginal players, enforcers carry an extra mental burden of pursuing careers on the cutline. "As an enforcer, you don't get leeway with mistakes," Kassian says. "You make a mistake, and you sit or get sent down. So you stop taking risks and stop developing as a player. The equipment guy would always hear before I would if I was sitting.

You walk into the dressing room every day and get nervous, hoping your equipment is still hanging up."

And then there are the physical ailments. "Last year, my hands, sometimes I couldn't even close my fists I had so many fights," Sestito says. "I used a lot of ice and this hot wax machine that acts like a heat pack."

The financial rewards justified the agony - barely. Kassian went from making about $60,000 in the AHL to more than $550,000 in the NHL. "The feeling of getting that first paycheque is great," he says, "but to be honest and frank, after tax, union dues, extras, the salary is significantly less. You also have to remember your life is extremely limited. It was never about the money for me."

Young, upstart scrappers have evaporated

On a frigid March day, more than a dozen members of the McGrattan family file into Hamilton's FirstOntario Centre to watch Brian take the ice for the Adirondack Flames.

At 33 years old with his first child on the way, McGrattan appears at ease with what he calls the twilight years of his pro career. He takes long, languorous strides. His positioning is instinctual. On the power play, he racks up five shots, 17 minutes of ice time and no fights.

Nobody challenges him. His mother, Cathy, is somewhat grateful. "I never watched his fights," she says, placing both hands over her eyes in mock fear. "But I don't harp on him about it. I was counselled early on that if he's fighting and thinking, 'Oh, my mom's watching,' that's not a good distraction."

New rules in Canadian junior leagues hand out game misconducts for staged fights and suspensions for serial fighters.

Young, upstart scrappers have evaporated. The surly Marlies, for instance, have recorded just 28 fights this season, according to, tied for second-lowest in the AHL. Across the NHL, fights per game have reached lows unseen in 46 years.

"I hate to say this, but the role of the three-to-five shift guy is gone," says Dennis Bonvie, a Chicago Blackhawks scout and former scrapper who McGrattan credits with teaching him the ways of the enforcer. "That's what I did and how I made my living, but as a scout, I'm not looking for that any more."

Mike Babcock's Detroit Red Wings have long preached the virtues of a four-line team. Only now, with the help of advanced stats that show with annoying precision how much every player contributes, is the rest of the league catching on.

"You just can't have onedimensional players any more," Bernstein says. "Instead of the T-Rexes or the Snuffleupaguses, you're getting velociraptors - smaller guys who have speed, can score and can protect teammates if need be."

The stats suggest McGrattan is no velociraptor. He could probably scrape out a few more years in pro leagues around the world, but he's already looking at a career beyond the ice. Seven years ago, he spent two months in an Arizona rehab clinic for alcohol problems. Today, he spends much of his off-ice time counselling other players. "I have a few things like that to fall back on," says McGrattan, standing outside the visitor's dressing room following the Flames' overtime victory, tattoos of sobriety angels and samurais on full display across his shoulders and around his legs. "Fortunately, I'm not going to be scrambling for a job when I'm done. That's one worry off the plate."

At 27 years of age, Kassian also has a kid on the way. He was skating daily with the local Junior B team while he waited for a pro club to call. When the March 2 trade deadline came and went without a solid offer, he decided to focus on school.

"You have your identity set as a professional hockey player," he says. "Once that's gone, what do you have? A part of your identity is gone. As a Christian, I don't put my identity in money but in what I do. I'll have an easier time. Some guys will get lost."

Back in Rome, Pete Sestito is optimistic the enforcer role will rebound. He's not so sure about his son. "Tom is me, we're the same person," the former Colgate University tight end says.

"And I know at his age I wasn't the best at taking responsibility for problems I created."

In Vancouver, Tom Sestito complained to reporters after sitting for two months. "I kind of went off the deep-end with the media," he now admits. "I voiced my displeasure through the media and I don't think I should have done that. At the time I thought it was the right play. Things couldn't get any worse. But now I'm here."

Down in Utica, he directed his grievances at coaches rather than reporters, insisting he was far better than the fourth line to which he'd been relegated. "I played in the AHL long enough to know I'm not that," he says.

"We just came to an agreement that I'd practise at home and they'd work on trading me. Now I'm stuck in limbo."

But his dad worries about the practice time. In the morning, he says his son works out like a madman, hitting the gym with a trainer and skating alone at a local arena. "But by 2 p.m., he comes home, calls up his old crew and heads out."

In the coming months, he may head to San Diego or Florida to train free of distractions. "I need to clear my head," he says, finishing his coffee and standing up from the booth. He's gentle but outgoing in person. Local kids are drawn to his affable personality. "I want to get back because I want to show a lot of people what I can do," he says, smiling. "I want to play Vancouver, like really bad. All the management, coaches - I want to stick it to those guys."

He fires up his SUV and pulls out of the icy parking lot, craning his neck to see what's behind the next snowbank.

Associated Graphic

Matt Kassian is pictured in Edmonton on March 11. Once the Senators' enforcer, Kassian now faces an uncertain future.


Brian McGrattan, seen playing for the Adirondack Flames, the Calgary Flames' AHL affiliate, says the storied role of the NHL enforcer is no more. 'It's done,' he says. 'It was fun while it lasted.'


Former enforcer Matt Kassian, right, helps run a practice with the Vimy Ridge Hockey Academy in Edmonton on March 11. After being dropped by the Senators, Kassian moved back to Alberta.


Debate the analytics trend he kick-started all you want, but you should know he's among the most interesting men in the game and that two of the best goalies in history swear by his teaching methods
Saturday, March 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S1


On the morning of a midMarch game against the Calgary Flames, the St. Louis Blues goaltending coach, Jim Corsi, was minding his own business when a shot rang off the crossbar and clunked him on the forehead.

Momentarily stunned, and bleeding, Corsi skated off the ice and was greeted in the corridor outside the dressing room by Martin Brodeur.

Brodeur is a member of the goaltending fraternity, recently retired, and now working for the Blues as a special assistant. Brodeur demanded to see the damage - a lump the size of a golf ball had formed, and a bluish bruise was in the process of forming. Naturally, the two started to compare war stories because, after all, that's what goaltenders do.

But in a world where most people know Corsi only as an advanced statistic, here was living proof that there was an actual flesh-and-blood human being behind the equation.

Corsi, the formula, measures the shot-attempt differential of a player while on the ice, helping to usher in a new era of analytics that is sweeping and dividing the NHL community.

Corsi, the person, is in his first season as the Blues goaltender coach, after spending the previous 16 years doing for the same job for the Buffalo Sabres.

In his time with Buffalo, Corsi worked with Dominik Hasek and helped Ryan Miller develop into an NHL star.

He is also an engineering grad, a former school teacher and a teammate of Wayne Gretzky's during the Edmonton Oilers' inaugural NHL season, responsible for eight of their 28 regular-season wins that year. Corsi played more than a decade professionally in Italy.

During his early minor-pro days, spent in the old North American Hockey League, he played with and against many of the characters who inspired the movie Slap Shot. He was also one of the NHL's first full-time goaltending coaches, grew up in Montreal, attended Concordia when it was still Loyola University, briefly played professional soccer for the Olympique, and is now coaching the Blues' goaltending tandem of Brian Elliott and Jake Allen.

In short, with Jim Corsi, there's a lot to get to know.

And yet, for the vast majority of casual hockey fans, Corsi is synonymous with a measure, not a man.

"It has taken on a life of its own," Corsi acknowledged. "I remember telling my wife, 'I'm not Fahrenheit.' When people talk about it, they don't say it's the statistic named after Jim Corsi. They say, 'He has a Corsi of ... .' "I had become an inanimate object. I had become Kleenex."

The story of how Corsi, now 60, came to be part of the analytics movement begins in the mid-1970s, after he'd graduated from Loyola with an engineering degree and was pondering several career choices. The Kansas City Scouts had him on their college protected list, but by the time Corsi was ready to consider pro hockey as an option, they'd moved to Colorado and become the Rockies.

Ultimately, a conversation with Ken Dryden, then a star goalie with the Montreal Canadiens, persuaded him to give pro hockey a try instead of venturing out in the working world as an engineer.

"It's remarkable because both Ken and Dave Dryden had major impacts on the arc of my career," Corsi said. "My wife and I were college-educated and we had a pretty good future going if we'd stayed with that. At the time, NHL contracts weren't that big.

We weren't going to get rich. Ken said, 'Jim, give it three years. You can always be an engineer in three years, but you can't come back to hockey in three years - and if you don't try it now, you'll never know what you could have been.' I thought that was great advice - and after three years, I was in the NHL.

"Then it was Dave Dryden retiring that got me into the NHL with Edmonton. He was really good for me because he was the first to talk about goalie coaching. He had an analytical mind.

He'd say, 'More goals are coming in from here than there, so maybe you should work more on these skills.' And I'd think, 'Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.' "It was the first hint Corsi would have a future, instructing goalies, and it began when he began tweaking his own game and technique.

A second career crossroads came soon after his rookie NHL season with the Oilers. Unhappy about being bounced from Edmonton to Oklahoma City to Houston in the 1979-80 season, and cognizant that he'd given pro hockey the three years he promised, Corsi decided he might have a brighter future doing something else - until he got a call from Dave Chambers, then Italy's national team coach.

Chambers telephoned Corsi at his mother's Montreal home to offer him a chance to play in Italy and she hung up the phone (Corsi tells this story, mimicking a heavy Italian accent).

Ultimately, Corsi reached Chambers, decided to try Italy for one year and stayed for 12, playing mostly for AS Varese. In all, he made eight appearances for Italy at the world championships and, in 1982, was in goal when Italy shocked a Canadian team that included Gretzky by tying it 3-3. In that same tournament, it also defeated the United States, pushing it into the B pool for the following year's worlds, a result that would cause him a moment's grief during a job interview some 15 years later.

When Corsi retired after the 1991-92 season, he moved back to North America and started teaching part-time, consulting with teams part-time and doing some colour work alongside Dick Irvin on Montreal Canadiens broadcasts.

In the meantime, he sent applications through the mail, seeking a job in the NHL as a goalie coach. That first year, he got an interview with New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello, made the short list, but didn't get the job. For five years, he kept trying and not getting anywhere.

In the summer of 1998, just at a point when he was exploring doing a PhD in education sciences, the Sabres called and asked him to interview. It was a turning point.

"I had listed Mark Napier as a reference because I'd played with him in Europe and [Sabres' coach] Lindy Ruff had called Mark to ask about me," Corsi said. "So I'm in the room with Lindy Ruff, Don Luce, Terry Martin, all the big wigs with the team and [GM] Darcy Regier walks in and says, 'I don't know anything about you, but our assistant coach, Mike Ramsey says you're the bugger that forced the USA to go down into the B pool at the world championships' because we'd beaten them and it forced them to go down.

"I'm sitting there, I took my glasses off, I say, 'Well, I guess this interview is over.' And they all started to laugh. So I think, 'Maybe it's not over.' It wasn't. Corsi returned to Montreal, where he'd been offered a full-time tenured position teaching high school math and science. Then Buffalo called and offered him the job - part-time to start. After talking it over with his wife, he took it.

Ruff, now coach of the Dallas Stars, had a clear affection for Corsi, describing him as "a very articulate, intelligent man. He's 100-per-cent loyal, just a really good guy, who loves to talk. I would say to him, 'Jimmy, don't ask me a question you know the answer to already.' If you were sharing stats, he would come up with formulas, different from the NHL's, that you could use and would help you."

Corsi was at the forefront of the NHL's trend toward hiring goalie coaches. Previously, teams tended to use goalie consultants, who weren't officially members of the coaching staff. Instead, they'd parachute in a handful of times a year, or if a goalie was going through a slump, to work on technique and sometimes, just to talk about the job, which was so distinct from what a position player might go through when he struggled.

"In those days, if the goalie wasn't stopping enough pucks, the solution was just to get another goalie - not to work with the goalie to make him better," Corsi said.

"For me, the real change came after the 2004-05 lockout. More and more teams started to hire full-time goalie coaches. They were no longer consultants - and there was new pressure on them to make sure the kids in the organization were developing. It wasn't enough just to mentor goalies. There was a teaching role. Development was required.

You'd be back and forth between the NHL team and the minors.

Now, they even have full-time goalie coaches in the minors.

"So it's evolved - to the point, where goalie coaches' heads are now rolling. They used to be untouchable. If the goalie coach got the job, he was there for keeps.

Now, it's to the point even this year, two teams [Edmonton and Philadelphia] released their guys in mid-season. That sends tremors. It used to be a safe haven.

Now, he's just a coach involved in developing players."

In Buffalo, Corsi had a chance to work with Hasek, coming off two consecutive Hart trophy wins, and eventually Miller, drafted 138th overall in 1999, the year after Corsi joined the organization. In Buffalo, Corsi developed a formula he said was designed to measure a goalie's workload.

Based on his own playing experience, Corsi theorized that simply counting shots on goal was not an accurate barometer of how much work a goalie did on any given night. Instead, he believed a goaltender could exert just as much effort or more trying to stop a shot that never made it through to the net, as he did an actual recorded shot on goal.

As a result, he incorporated blocked and missed shots into his analysis of a goalie's workload, on the grounds that goaltenders still had to be prepared to move laterally across a crease on an odd-man rush, or lunge for a shot that might be just high and wide of the net. These goalie "actions" were as physically taxing as recorded shots on goal.

Moreover, he also placed a greater value on tracking viable scoring chances, as opposed to simply shots, some of which, taken from far range or a bad angle, were often relatively harmless.

The method behind the madness was simply to help his goaltending charges train more efficiently.

Corsi's groundbreaking work eventually landed in the hands of several Internet bloggers who refined them many times over, by adding new variables.

But Corsi also believed his role was to work with a goalie's strengths as well as trying correct his shortcomings.

Hasek, for example, played an unorthodox style. In someone else's hands, he might have been asked to completely remake his game. Corsi didn't. Corsi wouldn't. Speaking at the Hall of Fame last November following his induction, Hasek said his career in North America was largely aided by goalie coaches who didn't try to reinvent his game into the cookie-cutter style of the era.

"What is it that makes Dominik so good?" Corsi said. "He thinks like a player but plays like a goalie. That, for me, was the essential thing. The successful goalies today, they think like forwards and play like goalies. If you look at all the successful goalies, they could see what the play was going to be. People would say, 'Was he ever lucky to be in that spot.' No, he was waiting for it.

He could see what was going to happen.

"My biggest and constant challenge to goalies is telling them, their biggest strength is playing hockey. If you want to stop pucks and just stop pucks, you're doomed."

Last year, after the Sabres' housecleaning, Corsi was without an NHL position and working with the national team in Italy when Blues GM Doug Armstrong called and asked him to interview for the opening in St. Louis, a job he ultimately landed. St. Louis is in contention for the President's Trophy as the NHL's top team and its goaltending, which has been excellent this season, will be under scrutiny as the Blues try to win their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

"When I went back to school to learn about teaching, one of the things I learned was about the psychology of how people learn.

In teaching, the research shows one of the worst retention levels is through lecture. So as a coach, the best way to teach a goalie to do a drill is to show him how - by doing it yourself. I remember being in youth hockey and the coach would start screaming if you didn't do the drill properly.

I'd think, 'They're not deaf, that's not the problem.' With the pros, if the drill goes sour after I showed them, I'd say, 'Stop, stop, stop,' and say, 'Guys, my fault, I didn't explain it properly.' People learn visually, audibly, tactilely.

Some guys, when they hear a drill explained, they go to the back of the line, because they want to see how it's done."

The value of analytics has divided the hockey community into two camps. Corsi believes it doesn't need to be so. Instead of being framed as an either/or proposition, the reality is, you can be in both. They are a measure of past performance and can provide a clue to future behaviour.

But they are not to be taken as absolutes.

"As a coach, I often say, if you think with your heart, you end up with heart disease. But ultimately, you get patterns. You start seeing things [in the analytics] that match what you're thinking. It's something that allows us to interpret the qualities of what that athlete is doing, but it is not Fahrenheit. The temperature outside today is an absolute measure, a fact. Analytics are not an absolute, but they are numbers that help the debate move forward.

"I used to get hate mail from people who'd say, 'I'm old school and what do you know?' What do I know? It's just like plus-minus.

You have to take it with a grain of salt. For me, I just look at my body of work. Dominik Hasek asks me to be one of his guests at the Hall of Fame. Marty Brodeur, who doesn't know me from Page 9, comes in and invites me to talk video with him because he wants to make sure his game is right.

Those are the things that matter for me. The fact that I'm still employed in hockey is more than enough."

As for the fact that his name is now associated with a hockey statistic in the same way that a 17th-century German physicist, engineer and glass blower is associated with a temperature scale, Corsi is okay with Corsi.

"Even my kids, their friends would say to them, 'the Corsi number, it's cool you have the same name as them.' They'll say, 'Well, no, it's my dad.' "But it's wonderful. It's humbling. It's quite a funny story how it got that name, but I'm okay with that. I don't feel marginalized. I'm actually quite pleased in the grand scheme of things. It's nice to hear the debate on analytics has been expanded. My only concern is it's almost gone too far the other way - what is reality, other than what the numbers show? - because there's more to it than that.

"I often say, 'Statistics are like a lamppost for a drunkard. You can either use it to lean on or to illuminate.' " .

Follow me on Twitter: @eduhatschek

Associated Graphic

St. Louis Blues goaltending coach Jim Corsi has had a long career and only recently has become known for a statistic.


St. Louis goalies coach Jim Corsi at practice in Winnipeg on March 19: His tandem of Brian Elliott and Jake Allen has the Blues eyeing a franchise-first Stanley Cup.


Nearly every major chain--Marriott, Westin, Sheraton--has launched a line of smaller, hipper hotels. So how can the germain family, who first brought the concept to Canada in the 1980s, compete?
Friday, March 27, 2015 – Print Edition, Page P50

IN THE FLUORESCENT-LIT PARKADE beneath Montreal's new Alt Hotel sits a gleaming Tesla, the super-sleek electric car that starts at $70,000. The vehicle belongs to a guest, but the specialized wall charger through which the car gets its juice was installed by Alt to attract clients--particularly the hip and monied.

Alt's parent company, Group Germain Hospitalité, is the first Canadian hotelier to cut a deal with Elon Musk's automaker, and the fact that Tesla drivers--who are about as niche as any market can be--have sought out the hotel is a good sign. But there's a much larger strategy at work for Germain. In the cutthroat hotel market, anything Alt can do to stand out as a distinct brand is worth pursuing.

The Germain family opened Canada's first boutique hotel in Quebec City in 1988, back when the term "boutique" had barely entered the traveller's lexicon. With just 126 rooms--about one-fifth as many as the nearby Château Frontenac--Hôtel Le Germain-des-Prés was wildly different from the larger chains it competed against. Its focus was on style and design, rather than scale, from the stand-up showers and modern furniture to the soft lighting, unique artwork and bowls of fruit in the lobby. It was luxury without the price tag, and the concept was a hit.

In fact, Le Germain did so well that it wasn't long before other hoteliers began to mimic it. Today, industry giants like Westin, Sheraton and Marriott all have boutique subsidiaries of their own, while independents have popped up across the country to capitalize on travellers looking for an alternative to the impersonal, cookie-cutter chains.

All of which raises the question: Has the hotel market hit Peak Boutique?

"It's overused," admits co-president Christiane Germain--who runs Germain with her younger brother, JeanYves--of the boutique moniker. But there's good reason for that. Christiane says simply: "It sells."

CHRISTIANE AND JEAN-YVES STILL REMEMBER THE first time they walked into a boutique hotel: the Morgans, New York City, 1985. The two had grown up in Quebec City, where their parents, Victor and Huguette, had bought a convenience store in 1957, which they parlayed into a lunch counter and, eventually, a successful steakhouse. By the time Christiane and Jean-Yves were old enough to join the family business, it included a property management company and a portfolio of residential and commercial buildings.

On a business trip to Manhattan, they checked into the recently renovated Morgans Hotel on Madison Avenue, which was getting a lot of buzz. Christiane instantly understood why--walking into the place was like witnessing a new invention. Gone was the beige-and-white motif that characterized most hotels at the time. Instead, the decor was rich with colour, and the bathroom walls were adorned with bold black-and-white checkerboard tiles. In most of the rooms, bathtubs were scrapped in favour of stand-up showers with glass doors stretching from the poured-concrete floors to the ceilings. That in itself was revolutionary for a North American hotel. Shiny steel airplane-style sinks replaced the traditional vanity, and the lobby looked like a living room, with furniture sourced from Parisian flea markets.

"The design was really exceptional," says Christiane, sitting with her brother 30 years later in a brightly lit, coloursplashed meeting room at the Alt Montreal. Both are fashionably dressed in that seemingly effortless French mode.

They look far younger than they are (she is 59, he is 58).

"You remember, Jean-Yves? The rooms were not large, they were small. But the use of the space was really quite--it was new."

"Showers," says Jean-Yves.

"Yeah, showers."

Morgans is credited with starting the boutique phenomenon. Opened in 1984, it was the brainchild of Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell, the promoters behind New York's legendary Studio 54, the mecca of '70s disco culture--until the Internal Revenue Service ended the party by sending them both to prison for tax evasion.

Upon their release in 1981, Schrager and Rubell turned their attention to the hotel business. Their idea was to create a spot so hot, people wouldn't just want to stay there--they'd want to be seen there. Schrager and Rubell bought a stuffy old place called the Executive and hired French interior designer Andrée Putman, who devised the bold colour and decor scheme. In an interview soon after it opened, Rubell tried to describe what set Morgans apart. "Well, if a Holiday Inn is like Macy's or Bloomingdale's, we are like a boutique on Madison Avenue," he said, according to Alan Philips, chief marketing officer of the Morgans Hotel Group, which now owns 13 boutique hotels around the world. "And that's where it came from."

So what is a boutique hotel, anyway? That, says Philips, is "one to be argued for the ages."

Originally, it meant a hotel that was smaller than 150 rooms (though that has been stretched in recent years to 200-plus).

However, Philips says the term has more to do with qualitative measures than quantitative. "If you really want to hit it in the best way possible, you want the hotel guest to call their friends and say, Where are we going tonight? And they'll say: Your hotel--it's the coolest place in town."

The Germain siblings decided they wanted to create their own "it" spot in Quebec City. Le Germain-des-Prés opened--sans bathtubs--three years after that stay at Morgans. The Canadian boutique was born, entering an industry dominated by huge chains like Sheraton in the mid-market, and by Canada's own Four Seasons brand in the luxury segment. Le Germain settled somewhere in between.

Christiane and Jean-Yves (she handles operations, he oversees the finance side) honed their model for 10 years before opening a second hotel in Quebec City in 1997. Two years later, they expanded to Montreal and, in 2003, to Toronto.

Today, there are five Le Germains and six Alts. The higherend Germain locations (in Quebec City, Montreal, Calgary, and two in Toronto) are aimed at travellers who want luxury, but in a more laid-back atmosphere. Walk into a Le Germain and the first thing you notice is the darker tones and soft lighting. Christiane can't find the right word in English to describe the vibe, so she settles on enveloppante, a word that implies a comforting, cocooned feeling.

Alt is the younger, funkier brand, aimed at a crowd the company describes as "trendy but unpretentious" or "inspired and creative." Think app developers on vacation.

There are two Alt locations in Quebec City (including the original Le Germain-des-Prés, which was converted seven years ago), two in Montreal, and one each at the airports in Toronto and Halifax.

Now Groupe Germain is in expansion mode. This past December, it raised $80 million from a consortium of Quebec heavyweights, including the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, La Capitale Financial Group, Industrial Alliance, Fonds de solidarité and investment bank DNA Capital. The eventual plan is to bring the total number of Alts to 15, creating a nationwide chain of cheap-chic boutiques. An Alt is set to open in Winnipeg in April, followed by another in Ottawa next year. A Le Germain will also open in Ottawa in 2017.

But the Germains no longer have the boutique market to themselves. Jean-Yves figures there are 30 such hotels in Montreal alone, and the industry giants are aggressively growing out their own boutique brands--Marriott is adding 60 of its AC hotels in the U.S. and Latin America over the next three years, and has teamed up with Ian Schrager on another boutique offshoot called Edition Hotels.

And that presents a problem for Groupe Germain: They want to get bigger, but they can only hang on to their customers if they don't deviate from the original, intimate concept. "Our challenge," says Christiane, "is to grow and be able to remain small."

THE ECONOMICS OF THE BUSINESS HAVE CHANGED a lot since the Germains came on the scene. Stand-alone hotels in the downtown core are unusual now, replaced by mixed-use developments. The new 550-room Delta is the first dedicated hotel to be built in Toronto in two decades.

Groupe Germain first partnered with a developer five years ago to gain access to precious downtown land it otherwise never could have afforded. Its Calgary Le Germain location, which opened in 2010, is across the street from the Calgary Tower, and includes office space (owned by the Germains) and condos. "It's a prime piece of real estate, and just doing a hotel on it would not have worked at all," says Hugo Germain, Jean-Yves's son and the company's director of development. Christiane estimates they would have needed to open 400 to 500 rooms to justify the price of the land. Since Calgary, all the company's new hotels have been housed in mixed-use buildings. The $27-million Alt in Montreal's Griffintown shares space with condos. The soonto-be-opened Winnipeg location houses office space. The future Le Germain in Ottawa will be part of the city's new art gallery and will also have residential floors.

"It's a barrier to entry to be stand-alone," says Jean-Yves.

The company is also targeting cities that are starved for beds. Ottawa and Montreal, in particular, have lost several older hotels, which have either shut down altogether or converted to residential units, rather than embarking on a costly revamp. In the last year and a half, according to Monique Rosszell, managing director at industry consultancy HVS Canada, Montreal has lost roughly 1,500 rooms (including a 700-room Delta and a 488-room Holiday Inn). Ottawa has lost about 1,000--among them, the 328-room National Hotel. Together, that's the rough equivalent of 12 or 15 boutique hotels. To compound the squeeze, new rooms haven't kept pace with the closures--room numbers across Canada grew by just 0.5% in 2014 and 1.5% in each of the two previous years, says industry analysis firm STR--one of the lowest increases in years. Average growth has historically been about 2.3% a year, adds Rosszell, but the 2009 debt crisis put many hotel projects on hold, and some were never revived.

Some of that demand has been eaten up by Airbnb and other sites that allow travellers to rent rooms in other people's homes. But the overall market, driven by the core business traveller, remains strong enough that many cities are ripe for expansion, or so believes Groupe Germain.

But the boutique model depends more on filling rooms than a big hotel does. In a smaller building, every dollar must be wrung out of the facility because there are fewer economies of scale. "The boutique concept is not easy in terms of managing it well, because you don't have a large capacity," says Gabor Forgacs, an associate professor at Ryerson's Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

"It's important when you look at a boutique hotel that you try to sell each room each night for good dollars, because you don't have 1,500 rooms."

For most hotels--big or small--that means pricing rooms based on supply and demand. Want to stay on a Saturday night? Be prepared to pay far more than on a sleepy Monday.

But the Germains are bucking that industry norm at their Alt hotels, with fixed pricing--$154 a night at both their Montreal locations, for example, regardless of whether it's high season or low, a weekend or weeknight.

Forgacs, who was a manager at Four Seasons before joining Ryerson, is a fan of the idea. "That was bold," he says.

"That was against everything that everybody was doing.

And so far, it's holding up."

But as Hugo readily admits, a lot more goes into a hotel than just the price tag. Success and failure is often determined by other factors, especially in the boutique market.

IF YOU WANT TO KNOW HOW OLD YOUR HOTEL IS, take a look at the electrical sockets. If they're conveniently located above or beside the nightstand, you're in a newer hotel, or at least one that's undergone a significant renovation.

Times change, as does technology, and the job of a hotel is to stay on top of those trends. Before everyone started using their phones as alarm clocks (not to mention checking their e-mails and Twitter before turning out the light), electrical outlets were hidden behind furniture to keep unsightly cords out of the way. Today, that's an inconvenience.

Since Groupe Germain is mostly building hotels from scratch, it can incorporate new design details into each room. It began installing iPod docks in its rooms back in 2003--but even those are out of date now as people increasingly use Bluetooth to sync their devices. "We need to think where the technology is going," says Hugo. "It might sound obvious, but we're always questioning how much wiring to put in a room. Is wiring still relevant? Where is it going to go, with WiFi and Bluetooth, with TVs?" When it comes to furniture, however, the key is not to chase trends. A typical hotel will go five to seven years before updating its rooms. So even the boldest, hippest hotels must be conservative. Alt rooms have partially exposed cement walls, giving them a slightly artistic look. Bonus: They also cost less, which allows designers to put more money into statement furniture like a trendy chair that can be easily swapped out to update the look, without a major overhaul.

Rooms are smaller, too (though with lots of height, since the ventilation equipment is built into the walls, not the ceiling). In a bigger hotel, says Hugo, "you might have 350 square feet of space, but there is a corner you never use. Well, in our case, that corner will be basically removed. Or we're going to be enlarging the window and putting in higher ceilings."

"Sometimes we have to, I will say, to fight with each other," Jean-Yves says of the battle between design and cost.

Those debates invariably include Christiane's 33-yearold daughter, Marie Pier Germain, who has a degree in mechanical engineering from Queen's and serves as the chain's director of professional construction services. She and Hugo, 35--who has a Queen's MBA--represent the next generation of Groupe Germain and are carving out roles for themselves in the operation as it grows.

It's not clear how big the Germains want to get. "In the last five years, we've grown more than we did in the 20 years before that," says Christiane. And though they're committed to remaining a purely Canadian play for now, that's not set in stone. "Once we achieve our objectives here in Canada," she says, "then our model may change."

That's likely a few years off yet. For now, the focus is on cities like Winnipeg, Ottawa and, eventually, Vancouver, with its sky-high real estate costs. Clearly, the Germains believe we haven't hit Peak Boutique--not yet. But with the Marriotts of the world flooding the market, they'll need to balance their own ambitions with the reality of competing against rivals a hundred times their size.

"We're a small player," says Christiane.

"A very small player," agrees Jean-Yves. "And when we do our market research, it brings us down to earth. We're making progress, no question, but we're fighting against the big guys--the big guys."

Associated Graphic

Christiane Germain surveys downtown Winnipeg from her soon-to-be-opened Alt Hotel in the city's downtown


At left, Christiane Germain chooses between local artists at Winnipeg's Gurevich Fine Art and tests out newly installed energyefficient lighting. Below, a worker lays carpeting in a room with Alt's signature concrete wall

Stacey Masson, Groupe Germain's senior director of national marketing, checks out a room in the new Winnipeg Alt--including the stand-up shower, a chainwide feature

Saturday, March 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B8

The Leander Kahney family in San Francisco is exclusively an Apple household. At last count, they have six iPhones, eight iPads, three iMacs, two MacBooks, more iPods than Mr. Kahney can count and assorted accessories, such as Apple TVs and the WiFi-based Time Capsules.

Now that its much-ballyhooed watch is just weeks away from hitting the market, the question is what's the next big thing for the world's leading technology marketer. And the answer could well be its boldest venture yet: an Apple car.

Loyalists like Mr. Kahney, 49, can hardly wait to get his hands on one, if his wife lets him. "I also might have to mortgage my house to do it."

The once-fleeting notion that Apple Inc. might disrupt the automotive sector the way it successfully assaulted the markets for music, cellphones and tablets has become more concrete in recent weeks. It has electrified the Apple community and Mr. Kahney, publisher of Cult of Mac, one of the biggest websites in the world devoted to everything Apple.

"I'm really excited about it, it's really intriguing," he says. "What kind of car are they going to build? Will it be an electric car, a self-driving car or a regular car with a really nice interface? Even just from a sheer design standpoint, it's fascinating."

Similar questions - and the ultimate issue of whether an Apple iCar, iRoadster or iRagtop will hit the road early in the 2020s - are also very much on the minds of senior executives of the world's auto makers.

Reports about Apple preparing to enter the auto market surfaced last month, leading to frenzied speculation about whether it plans to sell its own car, partner with auto makers or try to grab more of the electronic and software content in vehicles amid growing consumer demand for better connectivity and the approach of autonomous cars.

Apple is keeping mum, but enough information has leaked out about its extensive research - including the code name Project Titan - to indicate that the tech giant is determined to win a bigger piece of a global market that generates $1.6-trillion (U.S.) in revenue a year from new car sales alone.

Nothing has the potential to transform the auto industry quite like the entry of the world's most valuable company into the market.

Apple's cash pile of $179-billion is 20 times the annual capital spending of Ford Motor Co. Its profit is nearly four times higher than that of Toyota Motor Corp., even with the depreciated yen.

And its global clout and market value in excess of $740-billion would qualify it for membership in the Group of 20 if it were to become a nation.

Whatever form its vehicle plan eventually takes, it represents an existential threat to the auto club - some of whose members barely survived a brush with death a few short years ago.

The industry is already dealing with tectonic shifts.

The internal combustion engine, a technology that put the world on wheels more than a century ago, is being challenged as never before. Auto makers are spending tens of billions of dollars on battery propulsion and fuel cell systems to meet regulations that will come into force over the next decade and require lower emissions.

Drivers are demanding in-vehicle entertainment, electronic and communication systems that connect seamlessly with those in their homes and offices, as well as such navigational devices as active cruise control, lane departure warning systems and apps that find restaurants and gas stations.

As an example of how swiftly the industry is moving, electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors Inc. said this week that a software upgrade will permit owners of its model S car to drive without touching their steering wheels as early as this summer.

Looming on the road ahead is the autonomous vehicle, which will require game-changing leaps in technology.

But all of that pales in comparison to the disruption that would be caused by Apple, with its massive resources and a huge and loyal customer base exemplified by people like Mr. Kahney and his family. "The issue here is these guys are monsters," says veteran auto industry executive Tom LaSorda, former chief executive officer of Chrysler LLC.

"They're big, they're effective, they have cash. I bet you this is being discussed in every boardroom. And if it's not, they need to give the board a shakedown."

To understand how an invasion by Apple upends an existing market and forces companies to swallow tough medicine in a hurry, there's no need to look any further afield than Research in Motion Ltd., now called BlackBerry Inc., after the smartphone that once dominated the market but is now struggling to stay relevant.

Jim Balsillie was co-chief executive officer of RIM when Apple and Google targeted the company's lucrative hold on the smartphone market.

He recalls how RIM went from being the disruptor in the cellphone arena, effectively blowing up such competitors as Nokia and Motorola and building a $20-billion business, to a disruptee.

"There was not an appetite for strategic chemotherapy at RIM, because organizations hate it," Mr. Balsillie says. "In tech, you have a window in time [to adapt to the new marketplace reality].

If you wait too long, then it becomes palliative."

The auto industry now faces a similar assault and the Fords, Toyotas, Volkswagens and General Motors of the world have to ask themselves if they're prepared to undergo their own strategic chemotherapy, he says.

For the moment, in public, they are adopting the sober stance that they are paying attention to the Apple threat, while many former auto executives and industry pundits drone on about how Apple can't possibly succeed in this business because car manufacturing is a hugely capital-intensive, lowmargin enterprise that is dramatically different from the industries it has already disrupted.

"We take anybody with that kind of capability and cash and technological prowess [entering] our industry seriously," says Joe Hinrichs, Ford's president of the Americas. "But of course, our focus has been on how do we make sure that we are part of the disruption, that we are part of the solutions of the future."

The cloud Apple's big advantage over traditional car makers is simple, yet hard to overcome, and it lies in the cloud.

The cloud consists of remote servers that store vast amounts of data and run applications, giving everyone on the planet with a connected device access to unlimited computing power essentially for free. It is also revolutionizing the way companies do business by instantly providing them with vast amounts of customer data. And it means Apple would not need to acquire car manufacturing capacity or build assembly and distribution networks in order to create chaos in the club.

It's an advantage few traditional manufacturers, including auto makers, fully grasp, let alone have the ability to exploit.

Cloud computing has such transformative power "it makes the Gutenberg press look like a non-event [in terms of technological change]," says Francis McInerney, managing director of North River Ventures in New York and an adviser to Japanese electronics makers and other companies faced with a rapidly changing competitive landscape.

In Apple's case, its huge server capacity enables all of its products, processes, applications and communication tools to link together, producing a single flow of information that the company can tap into quickly.

Everything it produces, from iPhones and iPads to Macs and the new Apple Watch, is just another means of connecting seamlessly to its cloud. Vehicles would be treated the same way, essentially turning them into tablets or Macs on wheels.

"Apple thinks from the cloud out," says Mr. McInerney, who would definitely line up for an Apple vehicle. At least then, he says, he would be assured of a better communications interface than the clunky one in his new upscale German model.

"If you're an Apple or a Google, it allows you to use the same power to manage your supply chain that you use to manage your customers," he says.

"That's a revolution in thinking that allows you to identify all the cash-wait states [where money sits idle] and to collect a stunning amount of customer information in real time. Put the two together and you're turning that information into cash at an accelerated rate. Car companies don't think like that."

What Apple's astute boss Tim Cook, a logistics expert, realizes is that it takes a certain kind of business model to enable the company "to roll up all the industries that it's rolling up, as it hooverizes one after the other," Mr. McInerney says.

Simply put, Apple's formula for continued rapid and profitable growth amounts to "cloud plus logistics," he says.


Many of Apple's electronics suppliers also work with auto makers and they are salivating at the thought of doing more business with the computer giant, which is renowned for determining all of its parts needs and paying for them in full a year or more in advance.

This much is certain: Apple will not make or sell vehicles the traditional way and it has no interest in pursuing a low-margin business of any sort.

"Apple typically starts with the supply chain and works backwards," Mr. McInerney says. "The product itself is less important."

But it would be logical to start with electric cars, because they involve fewer moving parts, which will make them cheaper to produce reliably once Apple can get the high cost of batteries down. Part of its engineers' secret research is believed to be focused on car batteries.

Mr. LaSorda notes that the prevailing method of developing vehicles in the auto industry is to start with a great exterior design and work inward. The centre stack that holds the electronic interface is then drawn up to fit into that space.

Apple, he says, is likely to start from the centre stack and work out, because that's really where the driver interacts with the car.

The key electronic and entertainment systems that need driver input will be voice-activated.

"They can just create a voice over to the car that says 'put No. 3 speed on my air conditioner, get me to 70 degrees. I want to go to this store, where is it?' The navigation system takes over; I don't plug anything in."

Apple is already active in the auto information and entertainment space with its CarPlay system, which uses Siri for voice-activated commands, but requires an iPhone to be plugged in.

The prize for developing its own car, or a complete electronic system that controls an autonomous car, would be a bigger slice of an industry that in new car sales alone is four times the size of the annual smartphone market of $400-billion and dwarfs the $266-billion personal computer market, according to figures compiled by analysts from Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC.


In its remarkable growth trajectory, Apple gobbled its way through markets valued in the tens of billions of dollars, like music players and laptops, then moved into hundred-billion-dollar-plus businesses like smartphones.

Ventures like the high-tech watches and streaming TV may prove to be nice niches, but are too small to have much impact on the top or bottom lines.

At its current size, Apple can only expand to any significant degree by going after far bigger game. Mobile payment services hold promise, although competition will be fierce.

"They've got to be in the trillion-dollar markets. And there are only two that are worth looking at: health care and autos," Mr. McInerney says. Apple is hard at work on both.

On the automotive front, the changes in electronics and technology now sweeping the industry represent an immense opportunity for Apple and Google Inc., in part because autonomous vehicles will provide more time for people sitting in vehicles and thus an even stronger demand to be connected. Google has a self-driving car in development.

"We estimate that the value of the automobile will evolve from being a 90-per-cent hardware device today to being a 60-per-cent software device once cars are fully autonomous," Morgan Stanley analysts wrote in a recent report.

"This is critical to Apple's involvement in the car. Apple has both hardware and software design expertise and the rebalance of the hardware versus software equation in the car can create a void that only Silicon Valley (and a select few existing auto makers and suppliers) can fill."

To ward off the attack of the tech monsters, Mr. Balsillie suggests a defence neither the auto industry nor competition watchdogs seem likely to embrace: Team up and deploy their combined market clout to head them off by coming up with their own value-added model.

"If I were the automotive guys, I would get together ... without violating collusion [rules] and grab my competitor's smartest strategic guy and tell him we have to co-operate before they divide and conquer us."

Like the record companies and cellphone makers before them, auto makers are focused on besting their main rivals. "They don't realize there's a bigger competitor around the corner that can wreck everybody's business model by introducing their own," Mr. Balsillie says.

The music industry only needed three majors to team up to offer an effective downloading service like Apple's. But two of them couldn't even reach a deal.

So Apple, which produces no music and employs no musicians, swooped in.

"They were stuck in their existing competitive world, and tech preys on that," Mr. Balsillie says.

"They count on the entrenched guys being so stuck in their models that they don't rethink [them], and they know they're not really capable of topping them on the innovation front."


The closest thing to a confirmation that Apple is working on a car comes not from the company itself, but from a lawsuit.

In February, Apple was sued by a company called A123, which specializes in lithiumion batteries for passenger vehicles and similar uses.

The lawsuit, which claims Apple poached several of A123's employees, claims the iPhone maker "is currently developing a large-scale battery division to compete in the very same field as A123."

One of the most significant impacts of an Apple foray into the world of cars will likely be be a jolt to the battery industry.

For years, a host of researchers, startups and established companies have been working on developing batteries that are both cheap enough and efficient enough to make electric cars the norm, rather than an anomaly.

But none have the size nor the financial means of a corporate behemoth like Apple.

"Tesla validated the commerciality of the electric car and goaded major car makers the world over to get serious about them," says Steve LeVine, a journalist and adjunct professor at Georgetown University whose latest book, Powerhouse, charts the latest efforts to build a better battery. "Apple's entry is Tesla on steroids."

As such, car companies that previously ignored or underestimated the electric car market - and the broader notion that cars will one day become moving smartphones, rather than basic transportation products - have a very limited amount of time to reassess.

In his meetings with dozens of car company executives, Thilo Koslowski, vice-president and analyst at the research firm Gartner's automotive unit, says he has seen that the industry's old guard is well aware of the transformation.

"The car industry has three to five years left to determine where they want to be in this new age of mobility," he says.

"This is a huge disruption."

Associated Graphic

Leander Kahney, publisher the Cult of Mac website: 'Will it be an electric car, a self-driving car or a regular car with a really nice interface?'



When she became premier in 2011, Alison Redford was seen as the bright, accomplished face of a modern Alberta.By the time she resigned a year ago, she had become the poster girl for lavish spending and entitlement. In an interview with Gary Mason, Ms. Redford speaks out for the first time about the controversies, the caucus revolt - and why she believes her gender played a role in her downfall
Friday, March 20, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A6

CALGARY -- Breaking her silence after a year in political exile, former Alberta premier Alison Redford admits she is a "polarizing figure" who was forced from office after losing the trust and confidence of her party and caucus.

While accepting some responsibility for the controversy that swirled around her, Ms. Redford charged in an exclusive interview with The Globe and Mail that she was the subject of a virulent and corrosive smear campaign she believes was propagated by her political Opposition but eventually included people in her own party.

After a long stretch of soul-searching, she was reluctant to identify specific mistakes she made, but did point to a range of other factors contributing to her difficulties, from her gender to backstabbing in her own caucus. And for all the political turmoil she generated, she maintains that many of the allegations against her were groundless.

"I didn't understand it at the time but I understand it now: I'm a polarizing figure," said Ms. Redford, looking more relaxed than she ever did in office. "I didn't think that I was. I came from a position as a mediator, working on peace negotiations ... but for whatever reason, in particularly this province, I'm a polarizing figure. And maybe I became more of a polarizing figure over time and that's probably true."

Ms. Redford announced her resignation on March 19, 2014, after enduring months of criticism, mostly linked to allegations of abuse of government aircraft and lavish spending habits. The political furor caused by the $45,000 price tag to attend Nelson Mandela's funeral would become the catalyst for an air-of-entitlement narrative that would define her administration and fatally damage her relationship with the public and Tory colleagues.

In the course of a more than three-hour-long conversation, Ms. Redford reflected on such contentious topics as trips her daughter took on government planes, what she knew about the infamous "sky palace" being planned in Edmonton and whether the RCMP investigation looking into her spending habits was politically motivated.

Once seen as the bright, accomplished face of a modern Alberta when elected as the Progressive Conservative Party's first female leader in 2011, Ms. Redford said in her first comments since stepping down that she has spent the past year in deep introspection. The period of self-analysis, she concedes, was precipitated both by the events of the previous few years and the recent arrival of a milestone birthday - 50. She has travelled, read and indulged in pursuits she's never had time for in a busy career - such as baking.

"There have been some tough times the last year, for sure," she said, sitting in a lounge at a Calgary golf club. "I've spent a lot of time reflecting and thinking, trying to understand how I was feeling. I tried to understand why people were saying what they were saying about me; not whether they liked me or not. I spent a lot of time thinking about who I am as I was approaching 50. What I wanted out of my life. What my life has been so far."

Looking back on her premiership - which stretched from Oct. 7, 2011, to March 23, 2014, when she officially left office - Ms. Redford said many of her problems started from her leadership win. She beat out the party hierarchy's preferred candidate, Gary Mar, with the support of only one member of the Tory caucus. Asked if that would become a factor when she began to encounter turbulence on the political front, Ms. Redford said, "Absolutely."

"I was not the establishment choice and was not expected to win and quite frankly I was a fairly young, new politician and mother of a 10-year-old and a pretty independent woman," Ms. Redford said. "So there were lots of things for people to try and figure out and understand and lots of change at once."

She said there were people in the caucus unsettled by that change "and uncomfortable from the very beginning with the choice that was made through the leadership-selection process. But that's politics."

As Ms. Redford's problems proliferated and her polling numbers sank, grumbling inside the Tory ranks grew. There were complaints about an acerbic leadership style; she was seen by some as a bully.

When Calgary Tory MLA Len Webber resigned in March to sit as an independent, he said publicly of Ms. Redford: "She's just really not a nice lady. ... I cannot work for an individual who treats people poorly."

Some suggested Mr. Webber was bitter about losing his cabinet seat. Deputy premier Dave Hancock called him a "sad man." Today, Ms. Redford views the incident through a different lens. She said women in "political roles are perceived differently, judged differently and I think are treated differently."

"You go back to the seventies and eighties - if the man is tough, he's strong, and if the woman is tough, she's a "b" - it's just always been like that," she said. "I'm not saying everybody liked me. That's certainly not the case. Or had to like me. Then I ask the question: Do they like every male politician?

Why is like or not like part of it? It's a complicated issue and I don't think we've sorted it out."

Ms. Redford was adamant, however, that people not get the impression she believes her political fate was sealed because she's a woman. "I don't believe that and I really want to be clear about that."

Throughout much of Ms. Redford's reign, there seemed to be constant rumours relating to her behaviour, tales that seemed to pick up steam as her problems mushroomed and she appeared more politically vulnerable. They were repeated by government MLAs, cabinet ministers, Opposition members, Tory party officials. All of them were salacious and whispered to reporters, who ran them past Ms. Redford's communications staff, who had to inform the boss.

One that was almost mythologized was a story about how Ms. Redford had supposedly slapped a female security official at an airport. "I know I heard that one," she said. It had become so widespread that her advisers told her she needed to address the matter with caucus. She didn't. "I was gobsmacked."

"I know some of the rumours and they're ridiculous," Ms. Redford said, admitting one was that she often drank to excess. "There were affair rumours too. It's simply not reality."

She said in the legislature she faced a political Opposition intent on destroying her credibility. "There were political staffers who work for the Opposition, and maybe even for some of our own members, who know how to use technology and set up accounts and start these rumours and people buy into them. But they were untrue. I would go out and have a drink with people, but there was never a problem."

When asked how she reacted when she was told that people in her own party were participating in the campaign, she said she was originally surprised.

"I had the impression we were pulling in the same direction, but when I was told who, I was less surprised. It was difficult for some people to work in an environment where we didn't do things the same way as in the past."

The final days of Ms. Redford's time as premier were no fun. The pressure to make a gracious exit was growing daily. There were extraordinary meetings of the party executive to deal with her beleaguered leadership. There was a media throng waiting at caucus and cabinet meetings in anticipation of the next resignation. As a student of politics, she had seen this happen to Joe Clark and others.

And once those dynamics develop, she said, they are almost impossible to reverse.

"The reason you are the leader of the party is because you have the confidence of the caucus and the party, and if that starts to change and can't be corrected, then in my mind the writing is on the wall," she said. "Certainly, many people have said, 'You should have stuck it out,' but that wouldn't have been good for anybody. It was not a constructive environment. It wasn't going to allow us to continue doing the work we had done. It's not healthy for anyone" So, on the morning of March 19, she decided to quit, making a dramatic announcement in the rotunda of the Alberta Legislature around dinner time.

The question many Albertans will have, of course, is how much responsibility Ms. Redford accepts for what happened.

"It would be ridiculous to say that I ended up in this circumstance and had nothing to do with it," she said. "I've reflected on an awful lot of these things. Nobody is perfect and never in my life have I been perfect nor ever held myself out to be perfect." What would she have done differently? "I'm not sure that I can answer that in specifics," she said.

However, the former premier did say she pushed policy change that made some in her caucus unhappy. As examples, she cited efforts to make government more transparent and initiatives such as the public reporting of expense accounts, whistle-blower legislation for public servants and even compensation for MLAs working on government committees.

"I don't know if it was the decisions that were made or the speed at which they were made, but those were difficult for people to accept and I can only say that I'm disappointed in that and disappointed in myself for not understanding that maybe it was necessary to approach some of these things differently," the former premier said.

"I'm sure there is a lineup of 500 people who can give you a specific thing that I did wrong and they want me to say sorry for," she continued. "I'm sure there's some I would probably agree with, but there's probably a lot I wouldn't agree with, too."

Ms. Redford accepted that the Mandela expense story - she ultimately agreed to pay back the money for the trip - would lead to broader claims she felt "entitled" and inspire nicknames such as Queen Alison. She feels badly that was the impression some of her actions left.

"To me, it was never about that [living a lavish existence at taxpayers' expense], and if people didn't understand that, that's my fault," she said. "And I apologize for that."

Ms. Redford endured criticism for dozens of trips her daughter took on government planes, on a few occasions with a friend. The former Calgary-Elbow MLA defended them, saying the job of premier demands that you're working virtually all of the time, often away from home. But she was also a mother, she said.

"Other premiers before me travelled with their wife all the time and that always seemed to be acceptable and never the subject of public comment," Ms. Redford said. "My husband never travelled on a government plane. He never did anything with us at government expense. It was completely separate. Those times that Sarah and I

were together certainly didn't at all compare to the amount of time that even other ministers were travelling with their spouse in those same circumstances, so I don't know what that was about.

"The reality is that I was the mother of a child and when I was elected premier everybody knew I was the mother of a child, and I think it was expected and presumed I would be spending time with her."

As for plans to build a penthouse apartment in a downtown government building in Edmonton - dubbed the sky palace - Ms. Redford said the idea for some kind of space for the premier in Edmonton was in the works as far back as Ralph Klein's days as premier. The idea was the subject of a legislative committee, she said, recalling deliberations about the matter when she was justice minister in 2010.

"I became aware at some point of a discussion about making it more into living space and I also know my staff told infrastructure to stop that and that was all I ever knew," she said, contradicting reports she personally ordered the penthouse.

"There was one discussion when someone said to me: 'You're going to be the premier when this is done - what colour paint do you want on the walls?' and stuff like that. That was it."

Last year, an Alberta Justice internal review concluded the former premier could face criminal charges if allegations contained in an earlier Auditor-General's report related to her use of government aircraft and travel-spending habits were proved by an RCMP investigation. Supporters of the former premier called it a political witch hunt.

Asked if she thought the decision to involve the Mounties was politically motivated, Ms. Redford said, "Oh, I think there is a political element involving all that stuff. I think it would be quite disingenuous for people to think there wasn't."

Recently, the RCMP cleared Ms. Redford completely.

One of the low points of the last year came shortly after she resigned from office. She took the advice of friends who suggested she go to her family's condominium in Palm Springs, Calif., to decompress. It wasn't long, however, before she found herself, and often her daughter, being followed by photographers. One picture of the two riding bikes together appeared on the front page of an Alberta newspaper. She was snapped eating in restaurants.

Her activities became fodder on Twitter.

"It was terrible and I wouldn't wish it on anybody," she said. "I really hope it doesn't happen to anyone else the way it happened to me and my daughter."

But that is behind her now. Ms. Redford said Sarah, 13, is doing fine. The former premier, meantime, says she's ready to get back to work. While's she learned to make a mean pie crust, it's time to turn her attention to more intellectual pursuits. Conflict rules prevented her from getting into the job market right away, she says, plus she needed time to herself.

She doesn't know what she'll do. There have not been any job offers or board invitations, likely as a result of the way she exited from office. Work in the energy sector interests her, as does something in the area of human rights, where she distinguished herself as a lawyer working for the United Nations and the federal government in many of the world's most hostile conflict zones. She'd like to mentor young girls on leadership. She wouldn't be averse to working abroad - although, she says, Calgary will always be home.

Despite the troubles of her time in office, Ms. Redford said she still considers it one of her greatest honours.

"It was an absolute privilege to be premier of this province and to meet the people who love their lives, and their families and their communities," she said. "There are so many people who work hard to help their neighbours and are working hard to make life better for other people, and I was always honoured to meet them and try to help them in the work they were doing."

And for everything she went through, she says there have been days she's missed it.

"Talking public policy was exciting and I miss that," she said. "All that other stuff, not so much."

Follow me on Twitter:@garymasonglobe

Associated Graphic


He respected risk, and he pursued it too
Backcountry guide Robson Gmoser loved the world and his family, yet crafted a life in the crosshairs of danger. His friend and client Ian Brown asks why
Saturday, March 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page F1

By general agreement, the most effective skill that mountain guide Robson Gmoser possessed was his laugh. This is not a sentimental observation. It rose quickly and frequently from somewhere between his Roman nose and his bottomless lungs, and seemed to take him by surprise. Clients of wilderness guides tend to ski in places where you can fall headfirst into a threemetre tree well, or disappear down a crevasse, or ski off a cliff, or be buried in an avalanche. Robson Gmoser's laugh told you not to worry.

But when a guide dies in an avalanche, as Robson did on March 10 - when a person revered for keeping others safe slips over the lip into the silence - everyone who loves the mountains takes notice. A worm of doubt begins to turn in the collective mind of an otherwise practical, flinty community. Robson was one of the best known and most accomplished mountain guides in the country - a small but storied club of wanderers that poses an existential question to every person it encounters: If intensity of feeling increases with risk, how much risk should you shoulder to feel sufficiently alive? He ran a B.C. mountain lodge, and infused thousands with his addiction to the wilderness. He was a father, a husband, a brilliant skier. That he was Rocky Mountain aristocracy - a son of Margaret and Hans Gmoser, who invented helicopter skiing in Western Canada - meant his death attracted even more attention.

Beneath the tragedy, of course, is another question: Why him? Or, to ask it a different way: Why do people of such talent and character feel compelled to put their lives in the path of danger? Was his decision worth it? He was only 45.

The shock of the random

The avalanche occurred less than a kilometre from Sorcerer Lodge, a remote ski cabin northwest of Golden, in B.C.'s Selkirk Mountains. You reach the lodge by helicopter, then spend gorgeous days climbing up and swooping down the surrounding slopes.

I skied with Robson (my third tour with him, a piker compared to many others) at Sorcerer two springs ago. It's a heartbreakingly beautiful place, a lodge on a ridge below a vast theatre of snow-upholstered peaks and bowls and valleys and spires.

The red trim of the lodge stands out, a tiny human dab on huge and haughty nature. A friend of mine from Edmonton, John Mitchell, remembers that 12 centimetres of new powder had fallen around the hut the night before our last day there with Robson. The new snow and the sunny day made us optimistic. Nothing could go wrong.

"We were all so excited," John reminded me when I called him after hearing last week's news.

"We were going up high to play in the snow. I exited the hut, and approached Robson to have him conduct the usual morning avalanche beacon check. He leaned in and said, in his quiet tone, 'This should be an okay day!' Then he burst into his laugh. That laugh. It was his greeting."

Robson's accident occurred on a Tuesday at approximately 5:30 in the afternoon. He had returned a group safely after a day on a nearby glacier, and carried on to prepare a nearby slope for the next day's outing.

He was with a guide-in-training, a fellow named Darren, who was working on the uptrack while Robson cut a narrow trail - a rail of a platform barely two skis wide - across a steep slope known locally as the Heinous Traverse.

"We never go in there blind, because it's so hard to turn around," Tom Raudaschl, Robson's long-time co-guide, told me the other day.

The traverse is a shortcut to Mount Iconoclast, a peak that offers luscious descents: You hold your breath and step daintily to get to the good stuff. Robson had set the uptrack, and was skiing back on it when a Size 3 avalanche swept him down the hill.

A Size 3 can slide for a 1,000 metres and have a mass of 1,000 tonnes, enough to bury a car, destroy a small building, break a few trees.

Darren tried to reach Robson on his radio, twice, to no avail - Tom could hear that on his own radio, back at the lodge - and set out along the track to see what was wrong. He saw a crown (the fracture line) and avalanche debris, radioed back to the cabin (Tom was already preparing rescue gear), and skied down the runout path, using his avalanche beacon to find the one strapped to Robson. It was Darren's first ski tour as a guide-in-training.

He did everything he was supposed to do, and did it well, but he was alone and it took 30 minutes to clear Robson's face from under almost a metre and a half of snow. Ten minutes is considered the outside margin of survivability, though there are exceptions and even miracles.

By then, Tom had arrived from the lodge, accompanied by Sorcerer's cook. It was Tom who dug Robson's body clear and continued compressing his chest until the helicopter arrived. There were nearly a dozen doctors skiing at the lodge, including two ER physicians; the squad was carrying adrenalin and oxygen. None of it was enough. "He was really the first person I found in an avalanche," said Tom, who has been a guide for three decades, "and the first dead person I had to dig out of the snow." He'd known Robson for 22 years.

According to Tom, the slab of the avalanche that smothered Robson wasn't thick - 25 cm, "not a deep release or anything." But it was enough to sweep Robson over a 25-metre cliff. "He still had a pack on. And there was no obvious sign of trauma." Tom and I were talking on the phone, three days after it happened. It was late at night. He was having a whisky and thinking about Robson. "Just his overall personality; nothing would stress him out, really. And he had some really bad farts the night before. I remember that, too. I asked him if he was taking his enzymes." It was an old joke of theirs.

Tom was heading into the mountains again the morning after we spoke, to lead a new party of expectant skiers. That's the life of a mountain guide. The accidents are shocking in their randomness and tragic in their effect, but they do not delay the next group. Within six days of Robson's death, his wife, Olivia Sofer, herself a guide, was on e-mail, arranging replacements for her late husband's upcoming tours. People were still counting on him.

At 15, alone in the backcountry

Some friends and I once spent a few days in a tent with Robson in a whiteout on the Columbia Icefield. When we weren't playing cards or telling jokes or checking the weather, we talked about what you talk about in a tent, which, depending how long you're stuck, can be just about everything. Every time I remember that conversation, I think of something else I want to tell Robson.

He was born June 20, 1969, while his father was climbing Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies - hence his son's name. The usual joke is: Thank goodness the old man wasn't climbing Mount Assiniboine.

Growing up, Robson and his older brother, Conrad, spent so much time outdoors they were almost feral. This was near Canmore, Alta., and at their father's fledgling lodge in the Bugaboo Range to the northwest, where Hans was determined to establish helicopter skiing. The boys had a pair of coyotes as pets. As he approached his 15th birthday, Robson was allowed to take a two-week ski tour in the backcountry, on his own. One doubts that happens much these days.

As a skier, his physical grace was unmatched. He made you want to move the way he did, but you never could. Everyone in a ski party wants to be like the guide, and that was especially true with Robson.

Robson earned a degree in forest ecology from the University of British Columbia, but what he wanted to be was a mountain guide, like his father. He started with hikers at Mount Assiniboine Lodge, to the west of Canmore, in 1985, and later worked in the heliski business. But after Hans sold his heli-skiing company, Canadian Mountain Holidays, for a reported $15-million in 1995, Robson began to lead his own ski tours out of Battle Abbey, a remote backcountry lodge of which he would eventually inherit half-ownership from his father.

I first met Robson at Battle Abbey, on one of the trips he guided there and elsewhere every year with Tom Raudaschl and Eileen McKie, their cook. Eileen always said he had a guide's enviable all-round capability: could build anything (a wood-burning oven, a sauna, a pumphouse), was resourceful (he used a sawed-off hockey-stick blade to cut uptrack turns in hard-slabbed snow), took care (he liked to stuff his infant son, Max, into a backpack and take off down a pitch, Max shouting "More! More! More!" all the way).

He liked to memorize poems on the uptrack - William Henry Drummond's The Wreck of the "Julie Plante" and Service's The Cremation of Sam McGee were favourites - to recite in the evenings back at the lodge. "Back at the lodge" was a concept that mattered to him: He had a talent for creating comfort where you wouldn't expect to find any, and a need for groups of people to enjoy it.

Once, his mother made a winter ski-camping trip from Jasper to Lake Louise with the writer and explorer Chic Scott. Before she left, she wanted to see what it was like to sleep outdoors in the winter, so Robson lent her a sleeping bag. The temperature dropped to minus 40 overnight, and Robson found his mother tinged with blue in the back yard the next morning. He'd inadvertently given her a summer-weight bag. He was exceptionally well organized but could be absent-minded.

We think of (male) mountain guides as manly types with technical skills, but it is their caring side, their ability to comfort nervous people in subtle ways - their mothering, if you will - that distinguishes the best ones. Robson's father was one of the more famous he-man mountain guides on Earth; his mother, who spent more time raising him, is one of this country's most adventurous women. (Last summer, at 69, she toured Nepal on foot, walked across a good chunk of Europe, and spent the rest of the season hiking in the Rockies.) That strange combination of solid softness, of gentle reliability, of daring plus caring, was one of Robson Gmoser's notable traits.

The other was humility. There's an old joke about mountain guides: The difference between God and a mountain guide is that God doesn't think he's a mountain guide. Robson wasn't that type. Olivia, his wife, met him in 2005, at Bugaboo Lodge. He was working as a lawn boy.

"I had no idea he was a ski guide or of his background in relation to CMH," Olivia says. "He never said anything. I only found out after a few weeks of being there, from someone else." She liked his "calmness" and his "great looks."

The risk we all face

Robson was no stranger to avalanches: He broke his femur in one a few years ago, and avalanche deaths were a regular feature in the early days of heli-skiing. The deaths deeply upset his father, who became a nervous wreck when snow conditions were shaky; partly because of Hans's influence, accredited Canadian mountain guides are among the best trained and most rigorously tested avalanche analysts in the world. Hans had a ready reply when he thought Robson had done something questionable in the mountains: "Don't be a fucking idiot." Years later, when Tom and Robson discussed a potential route, the conversation often boiled down to a single question: "You're not being a fucking idiot, are you?"

To someone who spends no time in the high wilderness, the motive for adventuring might seem indulgent, or moot, or even illogical: Why do dangerous things at all, if you love life or have children or don't want to die? Why try to feel more alive by trying stuff that could end your life?

The answer is not recklessness or endless adolescence or selfishness: guides try to beat the odds by being extra careful. They do a good job of it. Robson Gmoser was the fifth avalanche fatality in Western Canada this winter; the average at this point in the season is 12. There is no evidence he was careless. There had been very little fresh snow for four weeks, and while the skiing was lousy, Tom Raudaschl says, "the stability was very good. So there's no way you could have triggered any of it." Karl Klassen, the manager of the Public Avalanche Warning Service at Avalanche Canada, himself a guide for 37 years, agrees: "I'm not convinced that anybody would have predicted that large an avalanche at that particular time."

The avalanche that killed Robson, in other words, was the kind that every guide fears - the "lowprobability, high-consequence event."

The rogue no one sees coming.

"Most of the risk you can calculate, right?" Tom said over the telephone - he meant, by examining the snowpack and the slope and the terrain and the weather: the standard moment-bymoment assessment of risk that is the tireless routine of winter guiding. "But there's always the rest of the risk you can't calculate. It's part of the job."

He was talking about the nonnegotiable risk that we all face, driving to work, crossing the street, taking a bath.

I might be wrong, but I had the impression Robson Gmoser went into the mountains because he had to. Maria Coffey, the author of Where the Mountain Casts its Shadow: The Dark Side of Extreme Adventure, who lost a partner, mountaineer Joe Tasker, to a climbing accident, called the urge "a search for transcendence" when I called her the other day.

"It's a moment everyone craves - when you're lifted out of the ordinary into something sublime.

It's the moment when the traffic stops and the mind stills. Focus is probably one of the most satisfying experiences there is."

Skiing in the high country, you have to pay attention. The confusing flurry of life, its extraneous detail, is clarified to essentials.

You focus on necessities and proceed step-by-step; gradually, life below seems more manageable by comparison. It's a form of liberation. The only catch is that, once in a rare while, for all the precautions, someone still dies, due to the incalculable risk.

Of course, if you worried about that possibility all the time, you'd never go skiing again. Robson would never have agreed to that. I wish he were still alive, but I'm glad I got to ski with him anyway. He showed me a way through the danger.

Ian Brown is a feature writer at The Globe and Mail.

Associated Graphic

Mr. Gmoser liked to memorize poems on the uptrack to recite in the evenings back at the lodge.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015 Tuesday, March 24, 2015 ClarificationA Saturday Focus story on the death of backcountry guide Robson Gmoser incorrectly suggested that Tom Raudaschl finished digging Mr. Gmoser's body out of an avalanche on his own. In fact the group that worked to free Mr. Gmoser included, at various points, two doctors and three guides, as well as Mr. Raudaschl.

Politicians in other countries are investing in funny, savvy Internet campaigns aimed at winning voters - and going viral. Not in Canada, where campaigners remain oddly wary of the Web
Saturday, March 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page F4

'I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm," Republican senatorial candidate Joni Ernst said at the start of her first ad during last year's U.S. midterm elections. "So when I get to Washington, I'll know how to cut pork." Featuring lots of swine footage and a closing promise to "make 'em squeal," the spot was viewed 400,000 times on YouTube in its first three days, and played a big part in taking Ms. Ernst from obscurity to victory.

The recent Israeli election saw Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu, not widely known for his sense of humour, successfully try his hand at comic acting. In a 75-second online spot, he arrives at the door of a young couple dressed up for a night on the town. "You ordered a babysitter? You got a Bibi-sitter!"

he tells them, before explaining why he's better suited than his opposition rivals to look after their children.

It is difficult to imagine Stephen Harper putting himself out there the way these politicians did, and Justin Trudeau would probably worry about reinforcing perceptions that he's insufficiently serious. In fact, the majority of Canadian political ads appearing online are blindingly obvious, predictable and on-message to a fault - the kind of stuff you skip over at the first opportunity.

While politicians in other countries are experimenting with savvy and often offbeat digital advertising adjusted for short attention spans, ours have, to this point, mostly recycled TV ads - or variations thereof - online. While some world leaders are putting themselves in unscripted situations to directly engage with electorates, or are getting laughs with self-deprecation, our Prime Minister has put out the dreary 24/ Seven Web "reality" series, which contains weekly highlight reels of announcements and photo ops, red-hot "exclusives" such as Mr. Harper giving a group of Girl Guides a commemorative flag, and very safe Q&As. While incumbents and candidates elsewhere are using social media to offer glimpses of their real lives and personalities, most of ours come off like talking-point automatons.

"Canadian politics isn't really benefiting voters right now," laments Ian Capstick, a former New Democratic Party staffer who now heads the digital-communications firm MediaStyle, "because it's so boring."

It's not that our parties aren't trying to capture an online audience. All of them are currently making a dive into data and analytics to maximize their digital impact, and some of those investments may pay off in the coming election. But while other countries have not been immune, Canada is struggling more than most with a cautious political culture incompatible with the emerging world of digital communication.

As a Conservative who has played senior roles on recent campaigns summarizes it: "There's a tension between the need to be more provocative on a digital platform versus being riskaverse and not at all inclined to divert from very carefully honed messages."

Risk aversion and message discipline have mostly triumphed so far, for reasons that range from the structure of our party system to a relative lack of financial resources. Then there's the argument that the online world is full of shiny objects that generally appeal to a younger demographic; older Canadians are the ones who reliably cast ballots, and they're mostly reached through traditional means.

There are plenty of statistics that would challenge that assumption, showing that pretty much everyone is spending more and more time online. But the failure to adapt to new ways of communicating is not just a potential liability heading into this year's federal election; it's a long-term threat to the parties' relevance, as they risk being tuned out by larger and larger swaths of the population.

Until not that long ago, through the limited number of traditional media and communication options at their disposal - network TV, newspapers, commercial radio, home phones - potential voters were a captive audience. TV spots, which remain by far the single biggest line item in campaign budgets, became squarely focused on pounding simple messages into viewers' brains, rather than charming or intriguing them.

But if captive audiences aren't yet a thing of the past, they soon will be. In the last two years, for the first time ever, Canada's total number of cable subscribers declined; increasingly endless digital options allow us to curate our media to consume only what interests or intrigues us and to shut down anything that doesn't.

The upshot: It's time for Canadian parties to get out of their comfort zone - a message delivered repeatedly by digital-campaigning experts this month at the Manning Networking Conference in Ottawa.

"Politics now is not the same as it was five years ago," Vincent Harris announced to an audience heavily populated by Conservatives, before making a case for "persuasion by entertainment."

The 26-year-old chief digital strategist for prospective U.S. presidential candidate Rand Paul suggested that campaigning politicians need to be nimble, topical and irreverent with advertising online and through social media, and use everything from humour to striking visuals to interactive games and contests in their efforts to capture the attention of would-be supporters.

The messages from a parade of other experts in digital campaigning, including executives at Facebook and Google and the political-technology company NationBuilder, were similar, if more subtle. The word "engagement" came up a lot, as did "authenticity" and "experimentation," all of which can be more daunting for politicians than for others trying to sell something online.

The challenge posed by these new realities is hardly limited to political parties; they could take a page from the corporate world's attempts at adapting. Virtually every one of Canada's mostviewed YouTube ads last year involved narrative rawness or ambiguity or quirk - from TD Bank's footage of customers being surprised when ATMs spat out cash gifts, to the Like A Girl campaign by feminine-hygiene brand Always, which starkly highlighted gender stereotypes, and then challenged them.

Some of those ads ran several minutes, suggesting that, once online viewers are hooked, at least some of them can be kept for a good while. But Google Canada's Colin McKay flagged a different tactic while speaking at the Manning conference - showing a popular Geico insurance ad that blurts out all the relevant information in the five seconds before viewers are given the option to click away and then rewards those who stick around with some humour.

His point: Businesses are trying novel approaches to get their message across, and political campaigns should, too.

It's harder, though, for such campaigns to take the risks inherent in experimentation, in part because the stakes, for them, are higher. Corporations can play the long game, knowing it's unlikely that an ad push will budge their market share more than slightly.

Politicians and their advisers, by contrast, are constantly afraid that a single mistake could torpedo their careers.

"Politics is not a place where failure is embraced," acknowledged Katie Harbath, who heads global political outreach for Facebook, in an interview following her Manning presentation.

NationBuilder vice-president Michael Moschella suggested that, when political campaigns do fall short, the people running them - who may want to keep working in politics - would prefer to make sure they're not caused embarrassment.

But south of the border, some are willing to buck that mentality.

The most extreme example is Fred Davis, who specializes in a peculiar genre of attack ads for Republicans. His creations in recent years have caused much snickering. One ad used "demon sheep" to symbolize the willingness of his candidate's rival to follow the crowd and raise taxes; another plastered the helmet hair of disgraced ex-governor Rod Blagojevich atop other Illinoisans and their state legislature. But they have also achieved the elusive (if tirelessly invoked) goal of going viral, and in some cases been credited with helping to win primary battles.

The recent U.S. midterms saw candidates such as Ms. Ernst experimenting with pitches that caught viewers off-guard and held their attention in ways that might provide a somewhat more replicable model for Canadian politicians.

Not that it's all about ads. It has been seven years since Barack Obama's campaign demonstrated the extent to which interest can be built organically through social media - using existing platforms (notably, in his case, Facebook) and specially created ones ( to engender a sense of community among supporters that, in turn, proved essential in boosting both volunteerism and voter turnout.

Since then, a social-media presence has become expected of pretty much anyone running for anything. As Mr. Moschella puts it, "What smart digital lets you do is talk to people in a really individual way, and talk to lots of them." A study by the Pew Research Center reported that 16 per cent of all registered voters in the U.S. followed candidates in the 2014 midterm elections on social media, up from 6 per cent four years earlier.

No such data is available for Canada, but it seems unlikely there has been that kind of uptake. That has nothing to do with social media use in general; Canada has some of the world's highest rates. (Roughly 20 million Canadians are on Facebook, with a majority of them using it daily.)

It has more to do with how uninteresting the political corners of that world are.

Talk to those who have worked in digital campaigning about how to use social media effectively, and there will be three recurring themes: Candidates should give windows into their personalities and, ideally, even their daily lives; they should directly engage with their supporters; and they should empower those supporters to serve as their online ambassadors.

A few of our federal politicians have embraced at least some of those notions. If you follow cabinet minister Tony Clement on Twitter or Instagram, you may be weary of his aspirational music career and his cottage, but you have a good idea who he is. Asked for examples of MPs who have used their platform well, Facebook representatives at the Manning presentation mentioned Nova Scotia New Democrat Megan Leslie and Conservatives James Rajotte of Alberta and Dean Allison of Ontario. (All of them recently experimented with Q&A sessions through Facebook pages.)

The vast majority of incumbent or aspiring MPs, though, use social media mostly for glorified versions of press releases, serving up talking points or blandly gushing about whatever community event they just attended. The more senior the politicians, the more obvious it often is that they are scarcely even aware the feed exists. And while supporters are encouraged to retweet or "like" politicians' posts, they are rarely encouraged to put into their own words the reasons for doing so - which, when done properly, can be effective in converting others within their social networks to the cause.

It is not hard to understand the parties' reticence on all these fronts, since, taken in isolation, the risks often outweigh the rewards.

And in Canada, there are other reasons that those disincentives tend to win out.

One of those is money. With little campaign-finance regulation, billions of dollars were spent on the last U.S. presidential campaign, and a single congressional race can see upward of $3-million spent. Parties and candidates can afford to pay sizable digital teams, and can throw money at various experiments. This week, Politico reported that Hillary Clinton could ultimately have as many as 1,000 people working on her digital team.

Canadian parties will be capped at not much more than $20-million apiece at the national level in this year's election, and strict donation rules mean they can afford to spend only a relative pittance before the campaign officially starts. Facebook's Ms. Harbath, NationBuilder's Mr. Moschella and others expressed optimism that digital spending will occupy a bigger portion of parties' budgets in 2015 than in the last campaign. But for that to happen, they will have to spend less on something else - and as long as they remain wedded to big ad spends on TV, there just isn't that much leeway.

At least as big a barrier for Canadian parties involves how they are structured. Whereas elected representatives south of the border enjoy relative autonomy, MPs (and aspiring MPs) can scarcely breathe without approval from their leaders. That makes it harder to cultivate their own voices online, try new things, and learn from each other.

That's partly just the nature of the parliamentary system. But even when compared to parties in Britain or Australia, which tolerate a variety of voices within them, ours are uniquely wedded to discipline, even at the expense of being interesting.

At the moment, some parties have more incentive than others to avoid being boring. Mr. Trudeau is trying both to offer generational change and to rapidly rebuild his party's organization after a long period of decay, which helps to explain why the Liberals have been slightly more willing than their rivals to latch on to memes. Recently, for instance, Mr. Trudeau joined the viral celebrations of Odin Camus, an Ontario teen with Asperger's syndrome whose schoolmates failed to RSVP to an invitation to his birthday party. The Liberals have also tried to draw visitors to their website with contests.

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair needs to raise his profile across the country, and fight the perception he's "angry" and inaccessible, so his team may be inclined to seize opportunities that show him being lighthearted as the campaigning heats up. And both the Liberals and NDP have already borrowed from Mr. Obama's playbook by having campaign officials record videos in which they talk to online supporters about strategy.

After nearly a decade in power, meanwhile, Mr. Harper is such a known commodity that drawing attention to himself isn't his priority. At the same time, because the Conservatives tend to draw their support from an older demographic, they have less motivation to craft messages that are digitally compelling.

But that calculus can last only so long, for any party. It's not as though, when they get older, Canadians who are now in their 20s will suddenly start consuming media the way their parents did.

"Digital is more work, no doubt," Mr. Harris, the American digital strategist, said after his presentation in Ottawa. "It's easier to close your eyes and pretend it doesn't exist. But it does."

Adam Radwanski is a political writer for The Globe and Mail. He is covering the run-up to the 2015 federal election and how parties' machines are preparing across the country.

Associated Graphic

A screen grab from an ad that ran online during the recent Israeli election shows Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu offering babysitting services to a young couple.

By comparison, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's dreary Web 'reality' series called 24/Seven is composed of weekly highlight reels, recapping announcements and photo ops.

No barrier's too big for this Brazilian
Leila Velez, CEO of Beleza Natural
Saturday, March 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B3

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Midway through lunch with Leila Velez, she mentions that in 2005 she flew to Miami with the leadership team from her hair-care products company for a crucial meeting. They went two days early, she told me, so they could visit Disney World - and I laughed: Brazilians, I have learned, adore Disney.

I imagined the workaholic Ms. Velez, who grew up poor, rewarding herself with a once-unimaginable visit to the Magic Kingdom.

But even though we were still on the salad course, I should have known Ms. Velez better: This was no joyride to meet Cinderella.

"Disney is well known around the world for being a place with great service, and a lot of lineups, and we said, 'They manage to make people want to come back, to line up in the sun, 40 degrees, with families and kids, and still everybody loves it. They have to have some secret we can learn from,' " Ms. Velez went on in a rush. "After Disney, we changed the whole circuit of our salons."

We were lunching at Rascals, a vast airy restaurant in Barra da Tijuca, the sprawling suburb to the west of Rio's traditional core that has emerged as a competing business hub. Ms. Velez, 41, likes the buffet - bright vegetables and fresh pastas - here, not far from the headquarters of Instituto Beleza Natural, the chain of hair salons that is one of the most remarkable business success stories of emerging Brazil.

At 14, Ms. Velez got a job flipping burgers at McDonald's; by 16, she was the youngest-ever manager in the franchise in Brazil. She struck up a friendship with a co-worker, Rogerio Assis, and met his sister Zica. Ms. Assis was then a hairdresser, trying, in her spare time, to invent a better hair relaxer for Afro-descendant Brazilians who wanted to loosen and tame tight curls. The only product available back then left your scalp charred, Ms. Velez recalled. Ms. Assis finally came up with a formula (after several attempts that left her guinea pig brother bald) and they decided to launch a salon of their own using what they called their "super relaxer." She was 19.

"We had our angel investor," Ms. Velez says, a tiny smile playing at the corner of her lips. "Zica's husband sold his old car; he was a taxi driver." She and Rogerio, by then her husband, put up their savings from the fast-food chain.

Ms. Velez had fallen in love with McDonald's standardized production and she planned their new business with the fast-food model in mind, breaking the hair-relaxing treatment down into stages so that each could be performed faster by a specialist who had only one skill to master. Then they could afford to offer their treatment at a price point accessible to her target market.

Ms. Velez always carefully uses the phrase "curly haired women" to describe her client base, and notes that 70 per cent of Brazilian women have hair that lies on the spectrum from Afro to wavy. This is a reflection of the country's racial heritage, a legacy of slavery and European colonialism. Some 55 per cent of Brazilians identify as black or mixed race; not all poor Brazilians are black, but a disproportionate number of black and mixed-race people are low income. And they are the market for her super-relaxer product and Beleza Natural salons (it means "natural beauty" in Portuguese).

Their first salon was barely bigger than a closet - but they took pains to make it feel entirely different from the usual establishments for their target market: impeccably clean, with fresh flowers and coffee served in chic cups.

That, and the soon-patented super relaxer, drew a huge word-ofmouth crowd, Ms. Velez recalls: Before long they were keeping the salon open from 6 a.m. to midnight, and women were lining up outside, holding their numbers on slips of paper. Caravans of women were coming by bus from outside Rio, making a day of it, and within a year and a half, Beleza Natural was expanding.

But they couldn't get a business bank account for ages - despite standing in the bank with sacks of cash for hours to wait for a manager who never bothered to appear for the meeting. And they couldn't get factories to take the contracts to make their products - because no one believed in the business model.

"They wouldn't even consider it a real business because it was focusing on a solution they could never understand - most of them come from a very high-end social group and most of them don't have curly hair, they don't understand the issue, the needs," she says, in a delicate reference to race: There is not a single company on Bovespa, the Brazilian bourse, headed by someone who is not white.

Today, the company has 29 salons in five Brazilian states, a factory of its own, and in 2013 sold a stake to GP Investments for $32-million (U.S.). At the end of 2013, Beleza Natural was valued at 210-million reais, then about $100-million (Canadian); they plan to add 120 stores in the next five years.

Ms. Velez tells her story in nearperfect English, one of myriad things that makes her different from the typical Brazilian chief executive, in a country where English is still a rarity. She grew up in some of Rio's poshest neighbourhoods, where her father was a janitor (a post that often comes with a tiny apartment in the back of a luxury building): She saw rich kids taking English classes at private institutes and, at 13, persuaded one school to let her swap her services as a cleaner at night for free classes.

Beleza Natural's business model is built on harnessing the buying power of the group known in Brazilian marketing parlance as Class C - those whose family income is between about $580 and $1,700 a month. Their lives have been changed substantially by new jobs, higher minimum wages and a network of social programs, and in turn their new consumption habits have driven much of the economic growth here in the past 15 years. Beleza Natural's backers believe Ms. Velez's intimate understanding of their behaviour as consumers gives the company a huge edge.

We order lemonade - hers sweetened with a sugar substitute - and then Ms. Velez explains: A typical resident of a favela - a poor hillside neighbourhood - has only one bathroom for the family, and so will most often wash her hair in the main sink, bent over (she demonstrates, whisking her own tumble of shiny black curls to one side) and will likely get suds in their eyes, so no-tears is critical. They have tiny bathrooms, and no counter space, so products have to have pump-tops, not lids to be screwed off and set down.

Other companies think the way to tap the Class C consumer is to make a lower-quality, cheaper product, she says, while a spinach ravioli in tomato sauce and shredded mozzarella cools on her plate. They're wrong: "Sometimes the person wants to buy the most expensive one, in order to show a daughter or a boyfriend that they care - so they pay for it with a lot of struggle, in a thousand instalments, but they want the best."

After the Disney World visit, Beleza Natural remade its salons so that at each station on the circuit, there was an experience - a specialist describing new treatments, a guest lecturer talking about parenting, an Internet kiosk for free surfing - the equivalent of Mickey Mouse entertaining the folks in line for Space Mountain. And of course, the visit winds up in a shop, with Beleza Natural products to purchase for home.

Working flat-out on the business and raising two kids, Ms. Velez also carved out time to get an undergraduate degree and then an MBA. She knew now they needed help to expand, and in 2005 she learned about Endeavor, the international non-profit incubator that nurtures entrepreneurs. She managed to get a chance to pitch them - a room full of Brazil's top entrepreneurs, including Jorge Paulo Lehmann, of 3G Capital, the country's wealthiest person, better known in Canada as the man who bought Tim Hortons. They were, of course, all white, and all men.

Ms. Velez and her team were the only people of colour in the room.

"Our first impression was, 'A hair salon, are you serious?' " Paulo Veras, who at the time was managing director in Brazil for Endeavor, told me later. They had never been pitched such a thing before. "But we knew in two minutes," when Ms. Velez started talking, that they would take on Beleza Natural - a nod given to only 1 per cent of those who pitch Endeavor.

"We knew it could be 10 times bigger in 10 years. We look for businesses that can be huge."

Ms. Velez, who is tall with a light dusting of freckles on her nose and cheeks, was a big part of the appeal, he said. "I've seen very few people in my life as driven as her. There are so many people complaining that it's difficult in Brazil - she says, 'I'm gonna make it, don't get in my way.' " Through Endeavor, Ms. Velez had the chance to take business programs at Harvard, Columbia and Stanford universities, and to draw on mentors and advisers. A few years ago, she concluded that Beleza Natural needed a partner and drew up a profile of her dream investor: "It should be someone who won't buy a majority of shares, someone in it for the long term, an investment fund that gives freedom in managing the company."

Fersen Lambranho, chairperson of GP Investments, had been her mentor at Endeavor, and watched the firm grow. "He said, 'I think you're big enough for us.' " Ms. Velez reacted with horror - GP is known for taking a controlling stake, appointing a CEO and focusing on short-term returns. "I said, No way - I love you as a mentor, but ..." The flinty Mr. Lambranho, however, persuaded her to consider it.

She sent him out to visit salons and customers - while she asked for a list of people to talk to, to hear the good and the bad about a GP investment.

But even the bad things she heard sounded good - "that they are very demanding in terms of results, they are very serious in terms of the speed of the growing process - this was music for me, this is exactly what I want." After nine months of talking, GP bought 33 per cent, and 18 months later, Ms. Velez says it's still a honeymoon.

The company employs 3,200 people today, but aims for 15,000 through the expansion; Ms. Velez talks about these employees, and the transformation she hopes the company will make in their lives, with a sort of missionary zeal.

Despite the fact that economic growth in Brazil has stalled to zero and inflation above 6 per cent is taking a bite out of the small disposable income of her target market, Ms. Velez does not seem overconcerned about the impact on her business.

"We won't give up our expansion plan, but maybe we will do it a little slower than we would like to, maybe this year or the next one," she said. "Maybe this year will be a tougher year, but it will pass and Brazil will still have 200 million consumers looking for new solutions with low prices, with good quality."

And after that? Well, she says with a grin, there are plenty of countries with lots of curly haired women.


On mixing business and family:

Ms. Velez and Rogerio Assis were married for 20 years and have two teenage children, but are now amicably divorced; he reports to her as vice-president in charge of expansion. She says there is no conflict: "It's important for us that the company comes first, so it's easy." Today, Zica Assis is the company's brand ambassador - a household name in Class C Brazil - while her husband Jair sits on the board.

On hiring newbies:

For 90 per cent of Beleza Natural's employees, their job with the company is their first experience of formal employment. Most are women, and a great many are single mothers supporting their children and their parents; Ms. Velez calls them "warriors." Since the new recruits have no résumés or references, Beleza Natural looks for other signs of leadership: women who have responsibilities at their church, for example. "Anything that gives us a hint that that person cares about others, really takes pleasure in serving, in leading - that's what we look for."

Racism in Brazil:

"People deny: They would never never say to you, 'Oh I have issues with race.' But look around this restaurant. See if you can see any black woman or man who is not cleaning or serving tables. That is our reality. And if there is a black man being served, people will say, 'Wow, maybe he's a soccer player, maybe he's a samba singer.' That's the truth. I experience it every day."

On change:

"For a few years now, we've been watching a slight change in terms of economic power that these people have now. When they have more consuming power, they become more important and they are a lot more visible and this importance changes the way people think about themselves - there's new confidence, new self-esteem."

Succeeding in Brazil:

"There's a tendency here, when you achieve a certain amount of success, to enter a comfort zone: 'It's okay, that's it.' I think you can be a lot more than that. As an entrepreneur, I have a commitment to changing this country and showing that it's possible to be honest, to be serious, to have a company that is not dependent on corruption, to create jobs and create growth for people - that it's possible."

Associated Graphic


At 86, Augie Merasty has been a lot of things: Father. Son. Outdoorsman. Homeless. But now he is a first-time author, and the voice of a generation of residential-school survivors. Mark Medley reports
Saturday, March 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R1

One day, several years ago, Arlene Merasty learned her father was writing a book. This was surprising news; her father was not an author, nor had he ever expressed any desire to write before. The book was about his time in a native residential school, he told her, a period of his life he'd always been guarded about. He'd been inspired to write after the Working Group on Truth and Reconciliation and of the Exploratory Dialogues took place in the late 1990s. They were living together in Prince Albert, Sask., at the time, and she'd sometimes see him at the kitchen table, writing in his neat longhand, or hear him down in the basement, working away. "He'd write, write and write, and he kept sending his papers to David Carpenter," she says, referring to the acclaimed Saskatchewan author. "I didn't really know if it was true ... because it was hard to tell with my dad whether he's telling the truth or not."

Even after she moved away from Prince Albert in 2006, she regularly received mail at her old house. One afternoon, stopping by her former home, she came across a letter addressed to her father. It was from David Carpenter. It turned out her father had been writing a book after all.

A collection of handwritten letters transformed into a newly published book, The Education of Augie Merasty: A Residential School Memoir might be one of the most important titles to be published this spring, written by one of the year's most unlikely authors: an 86-year-old Cree man who lives on the streets of Prince Albert, fighting not only the bottle, but also prostate cancer and dementia. It's a story of the near-decade he spent at St. Therese Residential School and the "utter cruelty" he both witnessed and suffered. But more than that, it's a story of resilience and perseverance - the tale of a man not only haunted by his past, but haunted by the fundamental need to tell his own story.

It was a curious phone call that David Carpenter received one day in the spring of 2001. The caller was a secretary in the English department at the University of Saskatchewan, where Carpenter used to teach. They had recently received a letter, addressed to "the Dean of the University of Saskatchewan," from a man who identified himself as "a retired fisherman and trapper and jack of all trades." The letter writer was looking for someone "who has a good command of the English language" to help with his memoirs. Ideally, it would be someone willing to travel north to his cabin in Birch Portage, on the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation Reserve in central Saskatchewan, for a couple of weeks during the upcoming summer and tape his life story - specifically his time as a residential-school student - then put it to paper. In lieu of payment, which would be sorted out at a later date, the lucky coauthor would "enjoy the finest fishing in all of" the province. ("I found out in subsequent communications that there was no cabin to stay at," says Carpenter, on the phone from British Columbia. "It hadn't been finished, and there was no electricity.") While he at first turned down the request - he was busy with his own writing projects - Carpenter eventually agreed to help the man, who'd signed the letter Joseph A. Merasty, share his story with the world.

"I suppose I'm a sucker for a hardluck story," Carpenter says. "I think writers often are."

Letters from the man Carpenter came to know as Augie soon began to trickle in - some just a few pages, some thousands of words long. Carpenter had read a lot about the history and legacy of Canada's residential-school system, which was operational from the late 19th to the late 20th century and ensnared an estimated 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children, but never in such graphic, or heartfelt, detail.

"The more stories I got from him, the more intrigued with it I became," he says. These letters also revealed "an extraordinary spirit. You could tell that his education was limited, his capacity to write was limited, but you could also see that he was compelled to tell a story." Over the next eight years, Carpenter and Merasty went back and forth, by letter, by phone and occasionally in person, with Carpenter piecing the stories together into a coherent narrative.

"He thought he'd wasted his life," Carpenter says, "and he thought if only he could finish this book, and I could help him, then that would be his immortality."

After sending one last letter in March, 2009, which promised that 65 more pages of work were forthcoming, Augie Merasty vanished. Carpenter's letters went unanswered. Eventually, he put the manuscript aside and returned to his own work. Merasty had disappeared for long stretches of time in the past, but this time Carpenter felt his cowriter was gone for good.

Last June, Carpenter was introduced to Bruce Walsh, the publisher of University of Regina Press. Walsh had long admired Carpenter's work, and asked if he had any projects looking for a home. Carpenter demurred, at first, but then recalled Merasty's manuscript, which he hadn't looked at in years. Intrigued by the subject matter, Walsh offered to read it; two days later, he agreed to publish it.

There was a slight problem: Merasty had to sign the book contract in order for it to be published. Carpenter, who'd learned the previous November that Merasty was in fact still alive, began reaching out to his contacts in Prince Albert in an attempt to track him down. When that failed, Carpenter began driving the 140 kilometres from Saskatoon to Prince Albert in order to search for his old pen pal himself. There were occasional sightings, rumours of the man, but Merasty remained elusive. Eventually, Carpenter was told to contact a specific detox centre Merasty was said to frequent. He called early one morning, and the woman on the phone told him he was there.

"It was as if he came back from the dead," Carpenter says.

Carpenter drove up to Prince Albert the following month.

Merasty signed the contract, and, less than a year later, 3,500 copies of the book will soon be available at stores across Canada.

"I've published a lot of books in my life," Walsh says. "But I think this is one of the most important books that's ever come across my desk."

Over the phone, Augie Merasty's voice is grizzled, raw, and he complains he doesn't hear too well. This is the second time we've spoken in the past week. He doesn't always understand the questions, and often mumbles his answers, but there are moments of clarity, too. He's been in the hospital, he tells me. "I'm not well at all. I've got a bad cold. I got lung problems. I can't stay out in the cold, otherwise I'll kick the bucket, maybe. Anyways, what about the book?"

The Education of Augie Merasty is a small book - a little more than 100 pages in all. "I started writing quite a few years back," he says, and wrote it "a little at a time." He lost a lot of material over the years - he told Carpenter "hundreds of pages" were stolen, and he claims a black bear ate part of his manuscript - and, by the sound of his life post-residential school, he could write several more volumes. He was a fisherman and a trapper and a hunter, he worked for the prison in Prince Albert and security for the Edmonton Eskimos. He was a boxer, too, mostly a lightweight.

("I was pretty good," he says, a hint of pride in his voice. "When I got out of school, especially when I was in big cities like Flin Flon and Winnipeg and Lynn Lake - all over the north - I had to defend myself.") He and his wife, Agnes, who died in 2004, had 11 children, seven of whom are still alive.

(One of his sons froze to death on the streets; Merasty was with him when it happened.) "There's a lot of things I didn't write about that happened," he says. "If I have time, if I live that long, I'll have more things to write about."

His book concentrates on the years between 1935 and 1944, when he attended residential school in Sturgeon Landing, on the Saskatchewan-Manitoba border. "I started going to school when I was 51/2," he says. "I was supposed to be 6, I think, but my old man put me into school early."

The book begins with Merasty's father transporting him and his siblings to the school by canoe, a journey of several days, fighting blackflies and rapids along the way. Perhaps most surprising is that he devotes the early part of the book to those teachers and school officials who were kind to him: the "immaculately dressed" Father Bernard Pommier; Father Aquinas Merton, "the hardestworking man that I have ever known."

This childhood innocence is soon stripped away as Merasty recalls the sadistic punishment and abuse inflicted on him and his fellow students by the likes of Brer Lepeigne (ominously pronounced Le Pain, whom he writes is "the one human that I would dislike for the rest of my school term, if not for the rest of my life") and the perversely named Sisters St. Mercy and St. Joy. The book's cover is a single blue-grey mitten, a reference to the time he and another boy were forced to walk 20 miles in subzero weather simply because they'd each lost a mitten; they got the strap when they came back to the school empty-handed.

"They'll have to read the whole thing to know the real story," he says. "The truth and nothing but the truth. I didn't exaggerate what I suffered. I put all that in there. The Christian people who tortured us for so many years - they'll read about them. They're supposed to be holier-than-thou, going to communion and confession every day, and yet they made us suffer because we were Indians."

"I want them" - readers - "to know what really happened in those schools," he told me on an earlier occasion. "That was one of the basic reasons I wrote that book ... so it won't happen again."

For the longest time, no one believed Merasty when he said he was writing a book. Now, not only has he "accomplished his life's work," as Walsh puts it, but the publication of The Education of Augie Merasty has allowed Arlene Merasty and her siblings to understand their father in new ways.

"I just never knew why he did the things he did until I read the whole book," she says. "It's not something somebody can get through easily. Ten years of torture, when you're just a kid and you're developing ... " Instead, Merasty found solace in alcohol.

"He says he'll never change," she says. "He'll never be able to quit now - he's too old. I know people who quit drinking, [but] he'd be dead if he quit drinking in two weeks. He can't stop now. He drowns his sorrows in the bottle.

He still thinks about a lot of things."

There are good days and bad days, she says. It was a good day when she showed her father a finished copy of the book, his name embossed on the cover in gold.

"I gave it to him and he held it in his hands," she says. "I took some pictures, and he smiled as he [was] looking at it. He looked at the back cover first, and he seen his portrait there. It was kind of funny because he said, 'I don't like the way this portrait looks. I look so old!' But he just laughed about it. He loves to hold the book in his hands. Something that he's done. He almost feels at peace, I guess you'd say."

Associated Graphic

Augie Merasty's new book recounts the 'utter cruelty' he experienced as a boy in a native residential school.


The new memoir of Augie Merasty, 86, began with a series of handwritten letters.


The tireless tycoon
Sir Martin Sorrell, co-founder and CEO of WPP
Saturday, March 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B3

LONDON -- My breakfast with Sir Martin Sorrell, co-founder and CEO of WPP, the world's largest advertising group - think of it as a tech-infused Mad Men in 111 countries - left me dizzy. I had trouble absorbing the tidal wave of information and numbers that he spewed forth like an automaton.

But I was also impressed.

China? Without consulting notes, he knew the growth rates in the country's various five-year plans (the penultimate one, the 11th edition, was 7.5 per cent). He knew how many employees WPP has in Canada (it's almost 3,000).

He knew that the CIA's World Factbook lists Egypt's population at 83 million while the Egyptian government itself puts the figure at about 90 million. He knows the average tenure of a chief executive officer in the United States (six years) and how that's twice as long as the life cycle of the average chief marketing officer.

I checked some of these figures after our chat and they were amazingly accurate.

His mind works so fast that he has a rather maddening habit of not finishing his sentences before he flies off onto another tangent.

He also likes to finish your questions.

I started to ask: "If you were a private company ... " At which point he jumped in and said " ... what would we do differently?" Well, yes, in fact.

I met Sir Martin in a rather small, bland meeting room in Berger House, a WPP building facing Berkeley Square, one of the poshest bits of real estate on the planet, in west London. When he bolted into the room a few minutes late, iPhone in hand, I was astonished that he was alone.

Today, almost no CEO, certainly no CEO of an FTSE-100 or Dow Jones industrial average company, would dare to meet a media grub without a PR minder in tow (I once interviewed a Ukrainian oligarch who invaded the interview room with a PR man, a lawyer, his assistant and an armed guard.)

Silly me. Within seconds, I realized that Sir Martin doesn't need a PR man because he is his own PR man, and he plays the role well. He is not afraid of the press or public appearances; he courts them both. He is confident, outspoken, opinionated and has a phenomenal memory for facts and figures.

And, like a good PR man, he gets back to you quickly.

Equipped with an iPhone and two BlackBerrys, he is a phenomenal e-mailer and is famous for returning e-mails to anyone and everyone - and quickly. He did for me. A week after our meeting, I sent him a few follow-up questions and he responded within a couple of hours - he was in Egypt at the time.

In a sense, WPP and Sir Martin Sorrell are one and the same. He started the company 30 years ago, when WPP stood for Wire & Plastic Products, and built it into an advertising, media, public relations and digital colossus whose businesses include J. Walter Thompson, Ogilvy & Mather, Grey, Burson-Marsteller, Hill & Knowlton, GroupM, Kantar, Xaxis and Canada's John St., Taxi and Twist Image.

Which raises the question: Since Sir Martin is the public face of WPP - the brand on top of the brand, in effect - what will WPP do when he goes?

To which he responded that he has no intention of going, even though he's 70. "I'll carry on as long as they'll have me," he said.

"My son told a Financial Times reporter that I will never retire, that I'll be found [dead] on seat 1A on the BA flight from London to Beijing. That may not be far from the truth."

Sir Martin looks a good 10 years younger than his age, for which he gives credit to "my Italian wife," referring to Cristiana Falcone, his second wife, whom he met at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and married in 2008. His hair is barely grey. He is short - very short - and trim, though not slight. He looks like he could thump a man half his age.

Breakfast was simple. Bowls of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries and a plate of croissants and muffins - enough for four or five people - covered the side table. Apparently, real-man CEOs don't eat bacon and eggs any more. Sir Martin poured himself a tea and I went for the typically unpleasant British coffee. To my surprise, his fork went untouched and he used his fingers to pluck the berries from the bowls.

Sir Martin and WPP have had a good year, in spite of slowing growth in the developing world.

The company's shares once again outperformed the broader market and the media and consumer subindexes, as they have for five years. In the past year, the shares have gained 27 per cent, giving WPP a market value of £20.5-billion ($38.4-billion). The company's total shareholder return between 2010 and 2014 came to 154 per cent, outpacing rivals Omnicom of New York and Publicis of Paris.

Sir Martin himself has been lavishly rewarded for WPP's abovepar performance. He is the highest-paid FTSE-100 boss, ensuring he routinely becomes the focus of shareholder revolts that began three years ago in the "Shareholder Spring." WPP's so-called leadership equity acquisition plan alone gave him a £36-million stock award and his total pay for 2014 will likely exceed £40million (the precise figure will be published in late April, when WPP's annual report comes out).

In 2013, he hauled in £30-million.

He is a staunch defender of his pay. In an article in the Financial Times in 2012, when he was swamped by a wave of shareholder ire, he wrote: "The compensation debate in the U.K. now seems to have shifted from undeserving bankers paid for failure and from payment for performance to what is fair pay. WPP is not a public utility. If Britain wants world champions in the private sector, we have to pay competitively. ... If the government or institutions believe pay is excessive, tax it."

Sir Martin is a proper tycoon, one of the last of his breed. In the Western world, the list of men who created global businesses more or less from scratch and still run them well past normal retirement age is largely limited to him, Rupert Murdoch of News Corp. and Sumner Redstone of CBS and Viacom. Sir Martin may not be as rich as the others, because he owns only about 1.5 per cent of WPP, but there is no doubt WPP is his baby, even if the board of directors can fire him at will.

Born in London, Sir Martin is the son of a Jewish immigrant whose family came from what is now Ukraine. His father, Jack, ran a chain of electrical shops and was an enormous influence on young Martin's life, acting as adviser, confidant and sort of spiritual adviser. "My dad used to quote the Talmud verbatim just like Shakespeare," Sir Martin said.

"It's the book I would like to explore but have never done."

He was educated at Cambridge and Harvard, where he earned an MBA, then, like his father, delved into business. But he didn't strike out onto his own until the relatively advanced age of 40, when he decided to turn WPP, a lowly maker of wire shopping baskets, into a global advertising business.

In 1985, Sir Martin borrowed £250,000 to buy about 15 per cent of WPP. He was no ad-guy neophyte. From 1978 to 1984, he had been the finance boss of Saatchi & Saatchi, the once phenomenally successful agency run by brothers Maurice and Charles Saatchi (the company is now owned by Publicis).

At Saatchi & Saatchi, Sir Martin was responsible for a flurry of acquisitions that made it the best-known name in the business. At WPP, he applied the same formula: Buy big, buy often and buy everywhere. His sheer aggression won him some enemies. In 1989, when WPP launched a bid for Madison Avenue's Ogilvy Group, David Ogilvy, known as the "father of advertising," called Sir Martin "an odious little jerk." The insult didn't seem to bother him one bit.

At WPP, not only did Sir Martin buy big, he bought diversity. WPP was not just a creative ad agency in the Mad Men mould. In came media-investment management, data-investment management, public affairs, branding, healthcare communications, digital promotion and advertising, sports marketing and programmatics - the automated, real-time purchase of online advertising. The market array is so vast that some of the WPP companies inevitably compete with one another.

"Our industry is creative, but not in the narrow sense of Don Draper in Mad Men," he said. "We certainly need creative types, but we also need the suits who can manage accounts, and great planners. We need data scientists, programmers and software engineers. Today, 75 per cent of our revenue is beyond what Don Draper did."

Given its size - WPP has 188,000 employees - and global reach, the company is evolving to some degree into a proxy for global growth. And therein lies the problem - growth, especially in China, isn't what it used to be.

While 2014 was another record year for WPP, the company noted that net sales growth in the past quarter was only 2 per cent.

That's not all. Austerity is alive and well, not just in the struggling euro zone countries but in the world's biggest companies. Sir Martin says the spreadsheet mentality, also known as the beancounter mindset, persists. Companies don't want to spend on growth; they want to boost profit by cutting costs. Unless corporations undergo a culture change and start to spend again, WPP and its competitors will see their growth constrained.

"I think the Lehman collapse actually had more impact on corporations than consumers because they were staring into the abyss in September, 2008," he said. "The world almost came to an end, which has made corporations very conservative, which is why they're sitting on $4-trillion [U.S.] of net cash. Companies don't want to take risks. They're very much focused on costs, not the top line. So what we have to do is shift the conversation from how companies can become more efficient to how they can become more effective and efficient."

Sir Martin is constantly on the move, forever jet lagged and booked every day to the minute.

Yet, after 30 years of building and managing WPP, he insists he has lost none of his enthusiasm for the job. "There's no such thing as stress if you're having fun," he said.

I ask him what big projects he's involved in. One of them, through a WPP agency called Richard Attias & Associates, is no less than the "repositioning" of Egypt's image to make it more attractive to investors and tourists.

How about that? From overhauling a wire products maker to overhauling an entire country.

Mad Men indeed.


Book: The Talmud ('It's the book I'd like to explore but never have.') Movie: Raging Bull Music: The Beatles TV program: The Wire Holiday destination: Uruguay Sport: Cricket Car: Land Rover Cuisine: Chinese Collection: Works by the British artist Bill Jackman

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With a dozen new purpose-built towers underway and innovative approaches to affordable housing playing out, is Toronto in the midst of a rental renaissance - or is it just more of the same?
Saturday, March 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page M1

It sounds like a tenant's utopia: This month, B.C.based developer Westbank unveiled its proposal for the southwest corner of Bloor and Bathurst, currently the site of Honest Ed's. Instead of the teenytiny condominiums that many had feared, president Ian Gillespie put forth an ambitious complex of 1,000 units. At least half will be two-bedrooms or larger, and every single one of them will be rental.

"We want the project to be as complete as possible, a neighbourhood for big families and little families and middle and high-income and students and seniors and everything in between," Gillespie says.

Westbank is promising 57 live-work spaces for artists, plus an all-season public market.

The proposal caused immediate buzz, not least because purpose-built rental in Toronto has been all but stagnant for decades. Since the mid-1990s, provincial policies have openly encouraged builders to focus on private condos, and since 2009, only 830 new purpose-built rental units have gone on the market.

But now, a rental renaissance seems to be under way. As the economy shakes and the condo bubble deflates, institutional investors are increasingly embracing the slow but steady profit of property management over the riskier highs and lows of retail sales. In a related twist, a few planned private buildings have recently converted into rentals, including the Kingsclub complex near Liberty Village and The Selby project on Sherbourne Street.

The rental sector is desperate for square footage - the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation puts Toronto's vacancy rate at 1.6 per cent - so every unit is welcome. Yet even as 32,726 new condos have gone on the rental market in the past halfdecade, tenants continue to struggle with affordability, unit size and family-friendliness, plus trickier issues such as security of tenure and landlord-tenant relationships. Once the first rush of gladness about new space wears off, many landlords, tenants and market watchers are left frustrated at a piecemeal approach that isn't necessarily filling the gaps that exist.

Rental properties, when they are built to meet all of a prospective tenant's needs, attract a range of incomes and living circumstances that elevate the diversity of a neighbourhood. "I think the enlightened development community that get it, they see integration as an important public benefit," Sean Gadon says.

As director of the City of Toronto's affordable housing office, his job often requires much liaising between other public agencies and developers to find innovative means of adding affordable housing to new construction. With the current state of the rental market, Mr. Gadon has seen that "key workers in the economy are squeezed out of access to housing."

Private developers have 12 tower projects designed specifically for rental currently under way, but most of them are clustered along the city's wealthy northsouth axis. A few carefully negotiated city-led partnerships between developers and non-profit organizations are bearing fruit, but not nearly as much as is needed.

Mr. Gillespie, whose company has almost 4,000 new rental units under way across Canada, knows that his brand-new complex in an upper-middle-class neighbourhood won't be accessible to all.

He believes the Honest Ed's project will add to "the housing continuum," saying that as new buildings go up, "older housing becomes more affordable."

Geordie Dent, executive director of the Federation of Metro Tenant Associations doesn't agree the trickle-down effect will materialize. He points out that despite all of the new individual condo rentals that have come online, the FMTA still gets thousands of calls a year from people who can't find affordable places to live.

"Targeting the higher-end renter hasn't helped free up the lower end," says Dent, who represents an umbrella group of 3,000 tenant associations across the city. "Demand is so outstripping supply."

Most one-off condo rentals were built after the Ontario government eliminated rent control on new buildings in the late 1990s, meaning big price jumps from one year to the next are effectively what Dent calls "economic evictions."

Even those who can afford new buildings are often unsatisfied with spaces designed to maximize investment profit, not livability. In January, Tyler Greenleaf began looking for a new apartment for him, his wife and their two toddlers.

"I wish developers would spend one day living the life of a family," says Mr. Greenleaf, 34. "We saw one that was 1,500 square feet but had only one closet." Another unit billed as three bedrooms was barely 750 square feet.

The 1,400-square-foot condo unit on Bay Street that they live in now is terrific, but the surrounding area doesn't have enough green space for little kids without backyard access. Both Mr. Greenleaf and his wife work at the University of Toronto, and their income allows them to pay up to $2,500 in rent. It wasn't money that was the problem, but design. "We just want 1,000 to 1,200 square feet of adequate space," he says.

Ironically, the flood of units isn't helping those on the other side of the condo rental continuum, either. Property manager Rachelle Berube says that oversupply in the downtown market is pushing many new condo rents below what owners need to break even.

Ms. Berube is the owner of Landlord Rescue and has been a property manager in Toronto for 20 years. She's overseen everything from apartment towers at Jane Street and Wilson Avenue to individual units in boutique Yorkville condos.

In mid-March, she published a blog post challenging the CMHC's 1.6-per-cent vacancy rate, calculating her own portfolio at about 3.2 per cent. "I have a listing at Ice at 12 York St.," she says. The rent is $1,675 a month. "I've had zero phone calls. There are 28 available apartments there listed on MLS. And how many on Kijiji, who knows?" She saw one post from an apartment hunter on the classified-ads site seeking a one-bedroom in Ice.

The problem is, he refused to pay more than $1,350 a month, well below what her client needs to pay the mortgage and maintenance fees.

For tenants on tighter budgets, finding spaces that are both affordable and simply decent can be a challenge. Single mom Hollie Pollard currently lives in a onebedroom basement apartment in the Junction with her 17-year-old daughter. Finding a space she could afford - for her budget, a one-bedroom maxes out at $1,500 a month - was just part of what made her last apartment search tricky three years ago.

"Someplace that's clean, actually has a rental contract, no code violations and a lease that follows the law - very rarely did I find them," says Ms. Pollard, a selfemployed social-media community manager. She's rented most of her adult life, in high-rises and private homes across Canada.

Landlords who refuse to give receipts, or won't do proper repairs, have always been a problem.

Mr. Dent of the FMTA says that uneducated landlords are another problem exacerbated by individual landlords cashing in on the condo rental boom - his organization has lobbied for years for mandatory training for small landlords, but so far the issue hasn't gained any political traction.

Ms. Pollard's current landlord is communicative and timely with repairs, but landing the place came down almost to luck. "They showed the apartment to 24 people, and the wife of the landlord liked me the most as a person," Ms. Pollard says. When her daughter graduates high school, the two of them might move to the suburbs, where rents are often cheaper.

Keeping lower-income workers closer to the core is one goal of the affordable housing office. "We want housing in all neighbourhoods, not only the inner suburbs," Mr. Gadon says. He's helped scatter small clusters of rental units throughout new condos in the downtown core by facilitating partnerships between private developers and non-profits. The official term for this is "inclusionary zoning," and while there are political barriers to implementing it widely, a few small test projects are promising.

The spaces are aimed at specific populations: When Bisha, a 44storey boutique hotel and condo, opens south of King Street West in 2016, it will contain seven rental units reserved for hospitality workers. The units aren't subsidized or geared to income, the way that properties managed by the Toronto Community Housing Corporation are. They'll be renting at 80 per cent of what the CMHC says is an average rent for the area.

It would take serious government initiative, though, to implement solutions such as this on a mass scale. After years of negotiation, the number of inclusionary rentals the office has gotten approved to date is just 49.

As for Mr. Greenleaf and his family, they did find a great spot after three and a half months of searching. In May, the family is moving to one of eight units in an old, character-laden house in the Annex - the type of space many property managers say is most in demand. Rent will be $2,300 a month, including utilities. "I wouldn't call it our dream apartment," Mr. Greenleaf says. "But it is just what we need for this phase of life."


A look at a trio of rental projects in progress:

Opus84 1991 Victoria Park Ave.

Number of units: 84 Number of rentals: 84 This townhouse complex has been an awful long time in the making. In 2012, the original plan to build a new 575unit, three-tower community was scaled back to renovating the existing townhouses, which have yet to be finished.

Completion date: TBA .

Montgomery Square 2384 Yonge St. Number of units: 233 Number of rentals: 233 The historic Postal Station K will stay intact at the base of the 27-storey tower - restored and updated to include a geothermal heating and cooling system.

Completion date: 2017


3415 Weston Rd.

Number of units: 1,400 Number of rentals: 154, with 106 of them reserved for seniors and people with disabilities. The tenanted portion of the complex will open this year, with rent set at 80 per cent of the city's average.

Builder and property manager Medallion received $16.2million in government incentives for the rental building, which opens this year. The entire mixed-use complex will include two more residential towers, and retail.

Completion date: 2017

Associated Graphic

'Someplace that's clean, actually has a rental contract, no code violations and a lease that follows the law - very rarely did I find them,' says Hollie Pollard, a single mom.


Hollie Pollard eventually found an affordable rental - a basement apartment - for herself and her daughter in the Junction.


The U.S. ambassador who got left out in the cold
With relations between the United States and Canada turning chilly, Bruce Heyman's tenure has been a rocky one
Wednesday, March 18, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A1

OTTAWA -- There was a moral to the story. U.S. Ambassador Bruce Heyman went to Ottawa's city hall to give a speech about Canada-U.S. relations, but he started talking about the 1871 fire that levelled Chicago. By 1880, the city that Mr. Heyman calls home had been rebuilt bigger, demonstrating that the devastation of the blaze wasn't all that mattered. "The important part is what happened next," he said.

It's a tale about optimism that Mr. Heyman might be repeating to himself. He's had a rough year.

New U.S. ambassadors are usually courted assiduously by those in power in Ottawa. Not so Mr. Heyman, who arrived in Ottawa last April, at a time when Stephen Harper's government was already cool to the Obama administration over such issues as the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, and he was put in the diplomatic freezer. His initial meetings with Canadian cabinet ministers were uncomfortable, even testy.

Then for months senior figures in the Conservative government refused to even see him.

The cold shoulder turned to the ambassador was part of a chilly year for U.S.-Canada relations, which have become unusually discordant at the top. With Keystone a hot-button issue in both capitals, neither side spares feelings. Mr. Harper blames delays on President Barack Obama putting "narrow" politics before the will of Americans. Mr. Obama insists the pipeline won't help U.S. jobs, but only Canadian oil, extracted in "an extraordinarily dirty way."

There have been spats about bridges, counterfeit goods and Asian trade talks. There's so little love that Mr. Harper kiboshed the Three Amigos summit he was to host in February with the U.S. and Mexican presidents.

Not everything is broken. Military and security co-operation ticks on, managed by officials and, because of its importance, unperturbed by politics.

The $2-billion-a-day trade continues. On Monday, U.S. and Canadian officials announced a deal to expand preclearance for travellers - a piece of the 2011 Beyond the Border deal once touted as a big advance for border trade.But there is a new edge to Canada-U.S. relations, and Mr. Heyman's experience is a symbol of it. Over recent months, The Globe and Mail has spoken with dozens of political players, officials from both sides of the border, and current and former diplomats, to paint a picture of Mr. Heyman's troubled tenure in Canada. Several close to events asked not to be named because of diplomatic sensitivity.

Mr. Heyman declined to be interviewed.

There are at least two sides to the story. People who spoke to The Globe largely agreed on the facts, if not their interpretation.

Either Mr. Heyman quickly gave offence, or his hosts were quick to take it - or both. But it's clear that Mr. Heyman - who had come from the high-powered, "Masters of the Universe" world of investment banking giant Goldman Sachs and brought an assertive, goal-oriented style - wasn't prepared for how easily he'd set off tripwires with a government that wasn't feeling much goodwill.

It's not typical. In the 1990s, Gordon Giffin sipped Scotch with Jean Chrétien. Mr. Obama's first envoy, David Jacobson, went snowshoeing with Laureen Harper. Canadian governments usually worked on the relationship. Former deputy prime minister John Manley noted the Chrétien government figured only one person in the U.S. administration woke up every day thinking about Canada, so they'd better get close.

But things were different this time. After Mr. Jacobson left in July, 2013, the ambassador's chair sat vacant for nine months while frustrations bubbled. It wasn't just that a Conservative prime minister didn't feel admiration for a Democratic president. Washington hadn't put in a cent for a new cross-border bridge to Detroit, and now was stalling Ottawa's request that it at least pay for a customs plaza on the U.S. side. Ten days after Mr. Heyman arrived, Mr. Obama punted the decision on Keystone again, citing a Nebraska court case.

For Mr. Heyman, it's telling that since the day he presented his credentials nearly a year ago, when he and his wife, Vicki, had a 15-minute meet-and-greet with Mr. Harper and his wife, Laureen, the U.S. ambassador has never had a one-on-one with the PM.

In his first meeting with thenforeign affairs minister John Baird, Mr. Heyman's message landed badly. He told Mr. Baird there was nothing he could do about Keystone, so he'd leave the whole file to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. And money for the Detroit bridge customs plaza was off the table.

Mr. Baird was stunned. The new ambassador was telling him he couldn't work on Canada's big issues.

The Americans had reasons.

The Homeland Security budget was already facing a rough ride in Congress. Funding for a customs plaza wouldn't get through - and the owner of the existing Ambassador Bridge, Matty Moroun, had allies including House Speaker John Boehner who would block it. But Mr. Harper's government still expected the U.S. envoy to address Canada's big asks.

In public, Mr. Heyman rubbed the wrong way, too. In his first big speech in June, at Ottawa's National Arts Centre, he did what many U.S.ambassadors have often done, stressing the positives of the relationship. But he didn't mention Keystone. And when Frank McKenna, the former New Brunswick premier and ambassador to Washington, pressed him in an after-speech Q&A about the pipeline and the customs plaza, Mr. Heyman chided him for being negative. "I'm sorry you're all bummed out here," he said.

Bummed out? It rang in the ears of his Canadian government hosts, who complained Mr. Heyman had arrogantly told Canada to get over it.

A week later, three Conservative ministers trooped to an energy summit in New York, organized by Mr. Heyman's former employer, Goldman Sachs - and behind closed doors and in public, excoriated the Obama administration for mistreating a friend with its handling of Keystone.

Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford called it "an affront in no uncertain terms."

There was something else: Mr. Heyman pushed for U.S. wins.

One focus was intellectual property - a perennial concern in Washington, where U.S. firms lobby politicians to pressure Canada to toughen laws on copyright and counterfeits. Mr. Heyman was asked about it in his own Senate confirmation hearing. So he asked Mr. Harper's government, already revamping the law to allow customs agents to seize counterfeit goods coming into Canada, to give border guards power to intercept goods going through Canada to the U.S.

He figured it was the sort of border co-operation Canada often proposed, so he walked into a meeting with Industry Minister James Moore optimistic, according to a U.S. source. He walked out confused. The two clashed.

One offence was that he made the request public, at that NAC speech. "All of a sudden to open up the newspaper and read about this - you don't expect this from a friend," one Canadian insider said.

That was a surprise complaint from a Canadian government whose ambassador, Gary Doer, works Washington politicians and doesn't shy away from public lobbying about Keystone. But there was no doubt about the pique. At a Senate committee in November, Mr. Moore pointedly said he'd told U.S. officials it was "a bit of a stretch" to ask Canada to police goods going to the United States.

By then, the chill was obvious.

The Americans got the message that their outstanding files would be going nowhere. For months after his June speech, Mr. Heyman couldn't get in to see cabinet ministers. "There was no edict," one senior Canadian government figure insisted. But several sources said there was at least a common narrative, from the Prime Minister's Office to ministers, that Mr. Heyman wasn't welcome.

Most in Mr. Harper's government weren't worried. They could afford to freeze out Mr. Heyman, they felt. The Prime Minister and the President met several times a year, and although they didn't have a warm relationship, neither leader was known for warmth.

Some ministers had their own direct links: Mr. Baird could call John Kerry, for example. They could go around Mr. Heyman.

"That's a very circuitous route, to go around the ambassador," said Mr. Giffin, who served as ambassador to Canada during the Clinton administration. Ambassadors co-ordinate across U.S. departments. Mr. Giffin's relationship with Ottawa always stayed warm despite disputes or blunt talk, he said.

Mr. Heyman's freeze-out did start to thaw in the fall. He gave appreciative interviews as Canada joined the military mission against the Islamic State. After two terror attacks on Canadian soil, Mr. Kerry came to issue public condolences. And four other U.S. cabinet secretaries trooped to Canada last fall to meet their counterparts, which helped Mr. Heyman warm up relationships and get meetings again - Mr. Rickford joined him for a Blackhawks game in Chicago.

But there are still barbs on the fence. Aside from the security and military co-operation, and work on a few items from the Beyond the Border agenda, like the Regulatory Cooperation Council to harmonize business regulation, there is almost no new work on bilateral issues.

"There's nothing going on," said one U.S. diplomat.

And things could get worse: Mr. Obama might make his final Keystone decision, and say no. Canada is threatening to retaliate against a U.S. beef labelling law with a mini trade war. There are even fears the Americans, insisting Canada must put its protected dairy industry on the table, will bump Canada out of the 12nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks.

Mr. Heyman is now focusing outside Ottawa. He has heavily courted provincial premiers, and has touted plans to boost trade by connecting provinces and U.S. states - including a campaign to have all 50 U.S. governors send trade delegations.

And for the Conservatives, the big picture on Canada-U.S. relations is now mostly about waiting. Mr. Harper is in an election year; he may or may not win. The United States will then face its own election cycle and Mr. Obama can't run again. Big new plans, and maybe Keystone, will wait for the next president.

Associated Graphic

U.S. Ambassador Bruce Heyman once chided a former Saskatchewan premier for being 'bummed out' about the Keystone pipeline.


It turns out that suspensions and expulsions neither help troubled students nor cut down on conflict in schools. Rachel Giese visits one high school that's trying out new forms of discipline - and succeeding
Special to The Globe and Mail
Friday, March 20, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L1

Most days at St. Jean de Brébeuf Catholic Secondary School in Hamilton, Ont., principal Mark Daly will at some point rise from his desk, pull on his suit jacket, straighten his tie, and make his way from his office to his "spot" - a strategic corner at the junction of two hallways on the main floor.

When the bell rings and students flood the corridors between classes, Daly is there to greet them. Tall, with closecropped hair and the build of a former jock, the principal is an imposing but friendly figure. He calls students by name, asking one about a recent test, another about a basketball game and pointedly teases a third about wearing his tuque inside the school (a no-no). Each student responds with unprompted politeness, addressing every adult with "sir" or "miss."

"It's important for me to see the kids," he says, "but even more important for them to see me, and know that I'm there for them."

From the cheerful, yet contained, chaos in the hallways to the posters promoting racial equality and the rights of LGBT students, it's difficult to imagine that Brébeuf was once considered one of the more troubled schools in the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic school system.

The school has many of the characteristics that lead to disciplinary challenges. It's overpopulated, with 1,650 students now and up to as many as 2,000 some years - there are 18 portables outside to house the overflow. A significant number of students come from low-income families, or have disabilities, or are recent immigrants.

Police were frequently called in to break up fights or to remove drug dealers, and for years the school relied on punitive measures to control the students. In the 2007-08 school year, Brébeuf imposed as many as 90 suspensions a month.

"There was a secretary at the time whose main job was writing suspension letters," says Daly.

Today, Brébeuf is one of the brightest success stories in its board's ongoing efforts to rethink how it disciplines students.

Daly credits the turnaround to initiatives that prevent negative behaviour through a focus on relationships and spiritual values, as well as less reliance on punishments such as suspensions and expulsions.

That shift is part of a broader critique of how discipline is meted out in public education. There have long been questions about whether suspensions and expulsions are effective tools for changing bad behaviour, says Katreena Scott, a psychologist and associate professor at the University of Toronto's Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. She says their use reflects more of a punitive tough-oncrime attitude than a proven approach to discipline.

Data from Canada, the United States and United Kingdom indicate that children with disabilities and children of particular racial backgrounds - black and Hispanic in the U.S., Indigenous and black in Canada, and black in the U.K. - are far more harshly punished and far more frequently suspended and expelled than their white or East Asian peers.

Boys are far more likely to be suspended than girls, but the racial disparity is consistent for girls in the U.S. as well. In 20112012, American black girls in public elementary and secondary schools were suspended at a rate of 12 per cent, compared to just 2 per cent for white girls, according to the Office for Civil Rights at the United States Department of Education.

Very few jurisdictions in Canada make public annual statistics regarding suspensions and race, but one report from the Toronto District School Board revealed that, in 2006-2007, black students were suspended at three times the rate of white students that school year (black students made up 12 per cent of high school students but accounted for 31 per cent of suspensions).

The consequences of these kinds of punishments can include lower academic achievement, higher drop-out rates, and a great susceptibility to involvement in criminal activity. Some critics have claimed that the racial disparity in discipline is creating a "school-to-prison pipeline."

OISE's Scott says the impact of suspensions and expulsions doesn't just fall on the students who receive the punishment. "A school culture that has a high degree of social control and crime-and-punishment policies creates a bad climate for student success and student engagement overall," she says. "The betterbehaved kids start to do poorly, too. Instead of feeling safer, they begin to feel less so, and they begin to see their school as less caring and less supportive."

Brébeuf's transformation started around 2007. In part, this was a result of the softening of the Ontario Ministry of Education's "zero tolerance" policy instituted by the Mike Harris government, which was in place between 2001 and 2007. In the school year after the legislation was enacted, the number of students suspended in the province peaked at 157,436, nearly 50,000 more than were suspended in 2000.

Witnessing the impact of high rates of suspension during the zero-tolerance era, the Hamilton Catholic board had begun independently reconsidering the use of exclusionary discipline. "Anytime a child was removed from a learning environment, that was a serious concern for us," says Toni Kovach, assistant superintendent of education for the HamiltonWentworth Catholic District School Board.

The Hamilton Catholic board introduced alternative forms of discipline, such as restorative justice, in which students who have caused harm have the opportunity to make amends.

Kovach says this approach has been supported by faith-based curriculum within the Catholic system, which teaches forgiveness and reconciliation. Schools added lessons in emotional literacy, social skills and self-regulation. Teachers who are adept at working with children who have behavioural problems are encouraged to mentor their peers.

That latter initiative is crucial, Scott says. "The number one issue I hear from teachers is that they want more training in discipline strategies and managing students with behavioural challenges, or mental health concerns."

Two incidents within the Ottawa Catholic school board in February highlight what can occur when schools lack the resources or training to appropriately integrate and support children with disabilities. Police were called to intervene in two separate cases involving autistic boys; one, aged nine, wound up in handcuffs, and the other, aged 14, who allegedly struck his principal, is now facing criminal charges.

At Brébeuf, some of the disciplinary changes were already underway when Daly arrived six years ago. He boosted student engagement by adding more clubs, and got the board's approval to make improvements to the school's infrastructure, refurbishing the gym and cleaning up an abandoned courtyard.

When he learned that some children were coming to school hungry, he started a breakfast program which now feeds more than 120 students each day. A hallway that had been devoted to grade 12 students' lockers led to bullying and harassment when younger students passed through it, so Daly spread the older ones' lockers throughout the school and encouraged them to act as mentors to the younger ones.

Two of his most significant changes, he says, were small ones. He lifted the ban on smartphones in school, allowing students to use them outside of class time, which immediately reduced conflict as student compliance increased. The same thing happened with uniform compliance: Students must wear their full uniform four days a week, but are permitted hoodies and T-shirts and other civilian clothes on Wednesdays. He says that trusting his students and giving them more freedom resulted in them acting more responsibly.

Daly drops into classrooms unannounced to check in with teachers and students. The school's three vice-principals, armed with walkie-talkies to keep in contact with each other, spend much of their days on the go, counselling students, coaching teams and supporting teaching staff.

Daly says he never set out to directly reduce the number of suspensions and expulsions, and he still administers them for infractions such as drug-dealing and fighting. He and Kovach both say that student safety is the primary concern of the board, and that there are some cases in which removing a student from school is still the best response.

However, behaviour has improved dramatically at Brébeuf.

Daly says he suspends and expels less often not because the policy has changed, but because he has far less reason to discipline his students. Seven years ago, there were as many as three suspensions a day; now there are two or three per month. Kovach says that trend is consistent with Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic schools overall. In 2012-2013, there were 1,828 suspensions board-wide, down more than 50 per cent from a decade earlier (3,777).

Lisa Gondo, 18, says that when she entered the school four years ago in grade nine, it had a reputation for "being a rough school, a place people said they were scared of." Now, the senior and student council vice-president says she can't remember the last time there was a physical altercation, or even a verbal fight between students. "The students here really care about one another and care about the school," she says.

Once most of the students have made their way to their next classes, Daly walks the halls teasing a few stragglers and highfiving a group of girls on their way to the gym. He points out student artwork displayed along the walls, beside photos of champion sports teams, and then shows off the video monitors that display news and announcements. When he put them up a few years back, he was told by some other administrators not to do it because kids at "school like Brébeuf" would smash them. Not a single one has been harmed.

"We've got the best students in the city at our school," he says.

"We know that. And we want them to know that, too."

Associated Graphic

Lisa Gondo, student council vice-president at her Hamilton high school, says a more empathetic approach to discipline has created a greater sense of community


St. Jean de Brébeuf Catholic Secondary School is one of the brightest success stories in its board's ongoing efforts to rethink how it disciplines students.


St. Jean de Brébeuf principal Mark Daly credits the school's turnaround to initiatives that prevent negative behaviour.


Police watchdog gaining support
Investigation office has seen controversy since opening in 2012, but some see its existence as 'real progress'
Saturday, March 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S1

VANCOUVER -- British Columbia's Independent Investigations Office, the police watchdog borne out of the Robert Dziekanski and Frank Paul public inquiries, opened its doors on the morning of Sept. 10, 2012. Greg Matters was shot and killed by RCMP near Prince George approximately 10 hours later.

The IIO's first investigation has also proved to be its most criticized. An independent review found the office's director deployed two former police officers who were not eligible to serve as investigators due to their recent work with the RCMP. The complaint that prompted the review was lodged by a former IIO employee and the office was found to have a "culture problem."

But observers say the office has been largely successful in its core mission - carrying out competent investigations of police-related incidents. The IIO has won the support of politicians, police departments, civil liberties experts, advocacy groups and some victims' families.

Investigations into serious harm or death caused by police appear to be moving much more quickly, with more transparency, observers say. Six officers have been charged since the office opened, and it was an IIO investigation that led to a seconddegree murder charge against an officer last fall - the first such charge against a B.C. officer in recent memory despite a long list of tragic deaths.

A government committee that conducted a separate IIO review released its report last month.

The report looked at the work the office has done, but also explored where the IIO may be headed: its path to 100-per-cent civilian membership, a potential broadening of its mandate to include more cases, and the use of body cameras by police - a move that would make the IIO's files easier to investigate.

Tracey Matters, the sister of Greg Matters, said the office's handling of her brother's case has prompted her to lose faith in the justice system. She took particular issue with the director's decision to have former police officers work on the file, and with the office mistakenly reporting that Mr. Matters was shot in the chest when he was hit in the back.

But the mother of another high-profile victim of a police shooting said the office gives her hope. Linda Bush, whose son Ian was killed by an RCMP officer in 2005, told a government committee: "I have a great deal invested in the success of the IIO and reform of policing: the life of my son. So it may be that I am seeing what I want to see. However, I have spent enough time talking about this with RCMP, B.C. Civil Liberties Association, IIO and media that I think there is real progress."

Richard Rosenthal, the IIO's chief civilian director, sits in his 12th-floor office, a short walk from the Surrey Central SkyTrain station. From his window, Mr. Rosenthal can see the Safeway where Naverone Woods was shot and killed by transit police in December. That investigation is ongoing.

Mr. Rosenthal was named the IIO head in January, 2012. The former Los Angeles County deputy district attorney has also held police oversight roles in Portland and Denver. He says his office has been successful in keeping up with its case load: Files have turned around within four to eight months, whereas before the IIO opened it could take one to two years. He says the public reports the IIO has issued have also provided far greater detail on police-related incidents than was previously available.

But it's difficult to say if more officers have been charged since the IIO began operations.

Neil MacKenzie, spokesman for the Criminal Justice Branch, said it did not previously track allegations involving police in a systematic way. Mr. MacKenzie also noted the IIO only investigates police incidents involving death or serious harm.

The IIO has taken up 121 cases, with 28 files of those files ongoing. Thirty-five have resulted in reports to the Crown, which decided to lay charges in six cases.

Ron MacDonald is director of Nova Scotia's Serious Incident Response Team, which began operations in April, 2012, and also investigates policerelated incidents. Mr. MacDonald said his agency has conducted 79 investigations to date.

Charges have been laid in 13 cases - Mr. MacDonald said one officer has been charged three times, while two of the charges relate to breaches of court orders.

The comparison between B.C. and Nova Scotia is not perfect.

The Serious Incident Response Team can investigate matters involving sexual assault, domestic violence or "other matters of significant public interest," while the IIO cannot. Mr. MacDonald can also directly lay a charge. And B.C., of course, has more than four times the population of Nova Scotia.

Douglas King, a lawyer with the advocacy group Pivot Legal Society in Vancouver, said it appears anecdotally as though more officers are being charged in B.C.

"It's largely perception. Before the IIO, it just seemed like charges hardly ever got laid. It was very much a rarity," he said in an interview.

One of the areas observers have called for reform in is mandate - they think the IIO should take on more cases. Mr. King, in a letter, told the committee the exclusion of "sexual assault and domestic violence from the mandate of the IIO is a serious oversight."

Josh Paterson, executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, said: "With respect, this was a mistake of the legislature and government in the beginning and it is something that must be corrected at the earliest possible opportunity."

Mr. Rosenthal believes the office's mandate should also include "no-hit shootings," in which an officer opens fire but misses.

The committee, however, did not recommend any immediate changes involving mandate. It said the IIO would need additional expertise and resources to take on sexual assault and domestic violence files, and is still facing "administrative and operational challenges."

"That's an area that has to be proceeded with with caution," Mike Morris, the committee's chair and MLA for Prince George-Mackenzie, said in an interview. Mr. Morris was an RCMP officer for more than three decades.

Staffing the office - and finding the proper balance between former police and civilian investigators - has always been a challenge.

Justice Thomas Braidwood and Justice William Davies, who led public inquiries into the policeinvolved deaths of Robert Dziekanski and Frank Paul respectively, recommended the IIO be staffed by civilians. It was widely acknowledged, however, that this might not be feasible in the IIO's early years, given the need to conduct competent criminal investigations.

As of March 1, according to the IIO's website, 15 of 25 investigators were civilians, or 60 per cent.

The committee recommended the continued civilianization of the office, but also said Mr. Rosenthal should have the discretion in "exceptional cases" to relax what's known as the fiveyear rule. The rule bars those who have served as police officers in the last five years from serving as IIO investigators.

Mr. Rosenthal said none of the investigators had specific experience in conducting critical incident investigations when the office opened.

In some cases, he said, he would have to send them back to the scene.

He said the hiring of the first permanent chief of investigations last year has allowed him to view the IIO more holistically and plan its long-term development.

The government committee, citing morale issues, recommended the Ministry of Justice continue to carefully review IIO human-resource practices.

Mr. Rosenthal said morale is typically "the bane of the existence of the first chief" and pointed to Ontario, where the first director of the Special Investigations Unit resigned after a tumultuous two years on the job. (Nova Scotia does not appear to have had such issues.)

"The reality is the work we do is really difficult and I have to be very demanding of my people," Mr. Rosenthal said.

"I demand timely investigations that are competently done."

Mr. Rosenthal's five-year term runs through 2016. When asked if he'd like to be reappointed, he said he's still focusing on this five years, not the next five.


In the years before the Independent Investigations Office was established, B.C. experienced several police-related deaths that prompted calls for reform:

Robert Dziekanski died at Vancouver's airport in October, 2007. Mr. Dziekanski, a Polish immigrant who did not speak English, was moving to Canada to live with his mother. He spent several hours lost in the airport and began throwing furniture.

Four RCMP officers arrived soon after and Mr. Dziekanski was repeatedly stunned with a taser.

Frank Paul died in a Vancouver alley in December, 1998.

Mr. Paul died of hypothermia after he was dragged out of a police drunk tank and propped up against a wall in the cold rain.

Ian Bush was shot and killed by an RCMP officer in the town of Houston in November, 2005. He had been arrested for having an open beer outside a local hockey rink.

Paul Boyd was shot and killed by Vancouver police in August, 2007. Mr. Boyd suffered from bipolar disorder and had been acting erratically, eventually striking two officers with a bicycle chain. He was shot eight times, and video shows he was on his hands and knees before the final shot was fired.

Kevin St. Arnaud was shot and killed by an RCMP officer in Vanderhoof in December, 2004. The Mountie had pursued Mr. St. Arnaud after he broke into a drugstore.

Associated Graphic

Richard Rosenthal, chief civilian director for the Independent Investigations Office, is based in Surrey, B.C.


Frank Paul died after being taken out of a police drunk tank and left in an alleyway while drunk.


Ian Bush was shot by an RCMP officer in Houston, B.C., on Oct. 29, 2005. Mr. Bush was holding an open beer outside a hockey game.

Kevin St. Arnaud was shot by RCMP officers after trying to break into a drugstore in Vanderhoof, B.C., in December, 2004.


Robert Dziekanski died at Vancouver airport, following a scuffle with federal police.

Paul Boyd was shot and killed by Vancouver police in August, 2007.

Saturday, March 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R5

In this series, The Globe and Mail partners with award-winning platform Wondereur to explore the diversity of contemporary art from a completely new perspective. The Globe and Wondereur will approach radically different minds engaged in culture across the country and around the world. Each month, we will ask them to share with us the work of a contemporary Canadian artist who deeply touches them. This month, Globe Arts editor Jared Bland talks to Alexander Neef, the German-born general director of the Canadian Opera Company, about the intersections of art and music, and the work of Neef's chosen artist, Mitchell F. Chan

Was there art in your home while you grew up?

I had a relatively modest upbringing. Before I was born, my father, in his early to mid-20s, had gone through an artistic phase, and he had made a lot of art himself. Paintings and sculptures. By the time I was growing up, I can't remember him doing that any more. So he kind of abandoned it. But the art was still in the house. And then a little later when I would go off to university I would take one of the paintings and have it in my apartment. My father is now retired, but he was a printer. He had an artistic job, he was not only printing books but he was printing exhibition catalogues. And he would be in a fair bit of contact with artists, to get the colours right in those catalogues, and that was really the part that he enjoyed most about his job. But he'd never really pursued the artist's route. But he did all these things, and I think for the longest time I probably didn't know he made them; when I figured that out I was really impressed and proud. So we didn't have any valuable art, but there was my father's art and then my parents would buy, like, little odd paintings. Photographs.

Were you a museum-goer as a child?

We used to go to Italy on vacation, and my mother says that I could not stay out of a single church. The family would stay at a plaza somewhere and say, "You go visit all the churches that you want to visit, and we will be here." I was in awe; I would just take it in. And then later I would start reading up on it. My whole upbringing in art, in music and visual art, everything, was more like an autodidactic approach. I just did what I liked, and read up on what I was more interested in. It was very unstructured, which was wonderful in a way, because I didn't have to follow a curriculum. I had a lot of friends in university who were musicologists and I was always amazed how little they knew. Because they did like a course on the Beethoven string quartets and that's all they did for one semester.

What shape did your autodidacticism take? Did you go to concerts and galleries much while in school?

I went to university in a rather small town, one of the old German universities. It was a city of 50,000 people, with like, 25,000, 30,000 students on top. So it was very academic, but it wasn't a high-profile place. There was a very good university, so it was very much about study - there wasn't a lot there to see.

Eventually you moved to Paris, to work at the Paris Opera as casting director. Did you know artists (other than opera artists) while you lived there?

Very, very few.

But you know more of them now, since you've lived in Toronto.

I've been here much longer than I was in Paris. I was in Paris for just a bit over four years. Which is not an incredibly long time to get roots in. I've been here almost seven years, and that makes a difference.

It's something that I wanted, because one of the things that I understood early on about the arts here is that they are very siloed. And I didn't quite understand why artists wouldn't come to the opera. There was no cultural routine of the artist community that would include the opera, I thought. People like Shary Boyle - Aida was her first opera, and she's been coming ever since. I find it really important. Obviously I'm fond of my art form. But what I find so interesting is that when you bring artists to it that haven't been exposed, they understand it's the same thing they do, with different means. It's about the same, you know, issues and problems.

Why do people need art in their lives?

I once read a letter from Sigmund Freud to Arthur Schnitzler. And Freud pretty much says, "I've seen your latest play, and I wanted to commend you because essentially, in your way, and with your artistry and your intuitive understanding of the human condition, you're doing exactly what I'm doing scientifically." That's what we need art for, because when you compare it to science, it doesn't require from the audience or the recipient a lot of training. Because it's an emotional approach. I think the way we get to like and understand art always starts with the emotion, not with the academic training. You know, you like that painting or you don't like it. You like that music or you don't like it. Then hopefully you can support that with education and you can get people to read books about it, and create that desire to know more, know more about the art, and more about themselves. But at the beginning, it can be a completely education-free space. I always tell people, I don't want to be seen as running a museum or a school. We're not an art school. We're a performing-arts organization, and I always tell people that the show doesn't happen if they don't take ownership and bring themselves into it.

Tell me about Mitchell Chan, the artist whose work you've chosen to highlight in this project.

He's a friend of a good friend of mine. I got to know him as an artist from his performance pieces. He still does those - like he puts the singer in front of the microphone and the singer is attached to some strings, and then the microphone goes into the computer, the computer regulates the movement of the strings. That was the first that I saw of his work, and then I just kept going to his gallery openings, and got to know his other work, the paintings etc. What I really like about him is that he's such a boundless creative mind. It's really hard to categorize. I always criticize him for doing unsellable art. Because all these machines and stuff that he does, it's not what people would usually have in the living room. It's hard to hang, and it needs maintenance. He does machines, and I find them endlessly fascinating. He did a Don Quixote installation at the opera house for us, based on a previous project of the same nature.

You commissioned that piece?

Well, he really came up with it all by himself for one of his shows. I think that was still at Angell Gallery. This metal box that he built, that would throw out the book of Don Quixote in vapour, letter by letter. When we were programming the opera, which, as you know, was a very romantic, 19th-century affair, Mitch and I started talking about it and something really unexpected happened. The old, the original project was a metal box, which looked a little bit like armour. Mitch said, "Oh, I'm going to have to make it a little bit bigger for the Four Seasons Centre." That's what I had in mind, this metal box, and then he came with these three big blue barrels. Which of course pushed it so much further than what I had expected. I had no idea that he would scale it up so much. And aesthetically, I knew it would be a real challenge for our audience to come in and see the three big blue barrels sitting on the bar, throwing out the book of Don Quixote. I called it the "Brain of Cervantes." You know? What I like about this kind of art that Mitch makes, it almost allows you to follow the creative process, even though the mechanisms are usually hidden and you don't really know how it works. But because it's moving, and it's interactive, in some cases, it really allows you to be a part - it's not that you're the spectator in a passive way. And it's narrative, in a way, too, you know, a painting mostly isn't.

Could he work on an opera one day somehow?

You know, maybe. Maybe.

I mean, anyone can do it, right?

No, well, everybody should want to do opera. Because it's such a total art form. It's not about one thing, or one person. It's about a lot of people working together to achieve a common goal. And that, you know, sets the risk of failure pretty high, but it also makes it really successful when that process works.

This interview has been condensed and edited.


Documenting the future of the art world, Wondereur is a ground-breaking cultural platform capturing the creative process of the most inspiring artists worldwide and providing exclusive access to their work. To learn more about Alexander Neef's contemporary art choice, Mitchell F. Chan, go to

Associated Graphic

Top left: A print by Mitchell Chan; middle: Chan's The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha installed at the Four Seasons Centre; bottom: scenes from Neef's art-filled home.

In a timely and essential new book, Canada's former ambassador to China David Mulroney laments the state of our country's foreign policy - one that lacks seriousness, focus and maturity
Saturday, March 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R16

Middle Power, Middle Kingdom: What Canadians Need to Know About China in the 21st Century By David Mulroney Allen Lane, 339 pages, $32

It was October, 2006, and along Beijing's Wangfujing Street, billboards transformed the ancient Chinese city into a portal. Elephants on the Serengeti Plain, Maasai tribesmen brandishing spears, Victoria Falls in full roar. Everywhere one turned, Africa.

The posters announced the third triennial Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, or FOCAC, a key objective in China's zouchuqu zhanlue, or "Go Out," strategy.

Inaugurated in 1999 to help grease the wheels of a burgeoning economic phenomenon, by 2006 FOCAC had become the primary multilateral body shaping the Sino-African relationship. Forty-eight African countries had signed trade agreements with Beijing, and all 48 heads of state were coming for the party. Beijing had spared no expense: FOCAC 2006 was seen as a dry run for the looming Olympic Games, and as no less an important confirmation of China's new superpower status.

The pageantry exceeded anything African dignitaries had come to expect from trips abroad. In Beijing, pariahs were treated like leaders, like major statesmen, like players. Western diplomats, watching the ubiquitous black Audi A6s zoom in from the airport, cabled their unease back home. Some of the more sharp-eyed wonks couldn't help but chuckle at a glossy poster depicting a war-painted Papua New Guinean with a bone through his nose. Did the Chinese know anything about Africa? Did they have any idea with whom they were dealing?

As it happened, they did. FOCAC 2006 was masterminded by a career diplomat named Liu Guijin, a former ambassador to Pretoria and Harare, and at the time China's special envoy to Africa. His BlackBerry contained the numbers of some of the less salutary figures on the world stage, but Liu understood diplomacy as an occasionally dark art that, when practised with skill and sensitivity, resulted in a profoundly altered geopolitical landscape.

His forum literally reshaped the world during the brain freeze that was the global "war on terror," when Canada was prosecuting an endless conflict in a distant land it couldn't possibly fathom, and when a new prime minister was pursuing a détente with Beijing that left old China hands staring into empty ricewine bottles with a mixture of exasperation and shame.

One such hand was David Mulroney (no relation), Canada's ambassador to China between 2009 and 2013 and, like Liu, a lifelong diplomat. Although he doesn't mention FOCAC in his timely and essential primer on Canadian geopolitical dysfunction, Middle Power, Middle Kingdom, Liu's forum represented exactly the sort of visionary gambit Mulroney believes the Canadian government is no longer capable of pulling off.

And he'd know. He's currently serving hard time as a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs, trying to explain what's gone wrong to Canadians who, for almost a generation, have not known anything to go right. "I would like to be able to say that I left government service confident that the country is on the right track in terms of its approach to foreign policy, that we have a clear vision for Canada in the world, and the will and expertise to pursue it," he writes of his retirement last year. "But over the 30-plus years of my career I have witnessed a national loss of focus, a lack of seriousness and ambition when it comes to making our way in the world."

This is one of many headshots that Ottawa sustains over the course of Mulroney's bracing narrative. According to the blurb, Middle Power, Middle Kingdom is a sort of self-help manual for Canadians looking to understand our relationship with China, and how to leverage that relationship into a lasting conduit for national prosperity.

But it's almost as if Mulroney is cribbing from the timeless Ethiopian diplomatic tradition of "wax and gold" - wax being the surface meaning, and gold forming the truth of the argument, its essence. Indeed, this book is not so much about a surging China as it is about a sinking Canada.

Mulroney hardly hides this fact: The final chapters trace his tenure as the deputy minister responsible for the Afghanistan Task Force, "overseeing interdepartmental co-ordination of all aspects of Canada's engagement in Afghanistan" during perhaps the most miserably ill-conceived chapter in this country's history.

China, then, is the McGuffin. But the country also teaches a vital, once-in-anepoch lesson - one that Ottawa has, for the most part, ignored. How do we define the Chinese miracle? Here's one way: In three decades, 300 million Chinese rose from absolute poverty; 200 million moved from farms to industry; 100 million joined the middle class; and half a million became millionaires. Here's another: Canada's population is roughly equivalent to that of the municipality of Chongqing - stomping ground of the fallen Bo Xilai, Toronto's sister city, and a place almost no one in this country has heard of.

(Think about this mixed blessing for a moment: Toronto's allegedly businesscentric former head honcho Rob Ford never visited Chongqing once - never pitched his city's financial services industry, its mining-heavy stock exchange or its claptrap condominiums. As for so many politicians, Dalton McGuinty included, China was barely an afterthought for Ford.)

That's China taken care of. But what about Canada? Mulroney describes the country as "a middle power in middle age," a rather terrifying summation of a country that is barely 150 years old by the official tally. Geography, always a joker, has shaped a gigantic, scarcely populated repository of natural bounty and plonked it alongside the richest, most powerful republic in the history of the planet. The distorting effects of this relationship have led to all sorts of misconceptions of what Canada is - a country defined by what it is not - and confusion about how best to exercise limited power in the face of unlimited might.

Traditionally, Canada dealt with this vast misalignment by hitching its national interests to those of its neighbour, while adhering to the party line at United Nations and other multilateral organizations. But in a world that is becoming increasingly diffuse, one in which Brazil is inarguably more important to our future than Italy, Mulroney argues that long-term foreignpolicy vision is suddenly an existential necessity, rather than something left to the caprice of the UN Security Council. But - and here's Mulroney's central thesis and his primary lament - the systematic degradation of the axis that informs foreign policy at a ministerial level, and enacts it at the bureaucratic level, has made that virtually impossible.

As ambassador to China, Mulroney presided over 60 personnel from 10 federal departments and three provinces, an agglomeration of competing satrapies that could only degenerate into bun fights and turf wars. When the book segues into Afghanistan, we learn that this dysfunction wasn't restricted to the Beijing file. The war against the Taliban, or whatever the Afghanistan adventure represented, wasn't an example of mission creep so much as mission dissolution - a morally coruscating instance of hewers of wood and drawers of water donning Call of Duty battle gear and killing/dying in the mountains until someone told them to stop.

Although Mulroney is polite about it, the Harper government's foreign-policy objectives - steered successively by Peter MacKay, Maxime Bernier, Lawrence Cannon and John Baird - have evolved into something both less and more than foreign policy. "At our worst moment," he writes, "we infantilize foreign policy, thinking we should form relationships with countries because we like them." In a related observation, he correctly claims that Canada's international objectives increasingly dovetail with local political concerns - an unwelcome development in a country that has become increasingly tribal just as it has become more "diverse."

"The most obvious manifestation of our lack of seriousness," Mulroney writes, "is the tendency to use regional travel as a form of outreach to politically important ethnic communities in Canada." He provides examples that are eye-wateringly embarrassing, proof that our slide downward is not going unnoticed by policy makers and world leaders who should be considered partners, not photo ops for the ethnic papers.

It's time to grow up, insists Mulroney, and our engagement with China can help us do so. The book includes dozens of anecdotes about the craft of diplomacy - and although these lack the urgency of his larger cri de coeur, they are fascinating insights into how modern embassies and missions actually function. But the book becomes truly important when it reminds Canadians that if the country hopes to sell natural resources, financial services and technologies to new and emerging markets, Ottawa will have to grasp the nuances of the new world order. This means streamlining the foreign service, refocusing on truly national objectives and acting like hardened pragmatists in our dealings with both old and new friends.

The foreign service traditionally functioned as the link between a parochial, inward-looking Ottawa and the wider world - it's time it did so again. Just as FOCAC reshaped the world, the Chinese have recently committed to creating the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a sort of rejoinder to the dominance of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in shaping global economic policy. The United States is lobbying its allies not to join (for the most part unsuccessfully) and Canada has, dutifully, yet to sign up. Are we a North American country, or are we a Pacific country, or are we both?

I can almost hear Mulroney screaming the answer from his padded cell in the Munk Centre.

Richard Poplak has just finished co-authoring a book interrogating the notion of "Africa Rising."

'A comet' in Canadian journalism
Pioneering Globe and Mail writer made her mark with hard-hitting stories, a fearless personality and dedication to professionalism
Special to The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, March 24, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S6

Fierce, rigorous and unconventional are just some of the words friends and colleagues use to describe Betty Lee, the pioneering female Globe and Mail writer, magazine editor and book author who was 93 when she died on March 17 in her Toronto home with her long-time partner, Dorothy Knight, at her side.

Even though Ms. Lee had suffered a series of strokes over the past 18 months, there were to be no hospital rooms for her, thank you very much, and no long-term care facilities. She knew how she wanted to die, just as she knew how she had wanted to live.

"She was a comet," said Clark Davey, a former managing editor of The Globe who now serves as executive secretary of the Michener Awards Foundation.

"She felt strongly about things and she had the great talent of expression, and the two together made a fierce weapon.

"She was one of the early practitioners of long-form journalism, a magazine writer hiding out in a daily newspaper," Mr. Davey continued. "She would dominate a room just by walking into it, with her physicality and a very loud voice."

Margaret Wente, now a Globe columnist who hired Ms. Lee at Canadian Business magazine during one of the latter's forays outside the newspaper, recalls a wry wit and a total dedication to professionalism.

"Many of the men I worked with were demanding and emotional," Ms. Wente wrote in an e-mail.

"She, by contrast, was a total grown-up."

If you knew her, you did not call her Betty. She preferred her last name, for she felt more like a Lee.

For someone who came of age during the Second World War and got her big breaks by toiling for a Australian radio station while the men were off at war, "Betty" simply didn't cut it.

"If you think of a 'Betty' and you think of a 'Lee,' she was a 'Lee,' " said her friend Lorna Rosenstein. "Lee was strong, independent, warm, bright and absolutely a doer. Fear didn't set her back. When she was looking into something, nothing stopped her."

Betty Lee was born on Dec. 18, 1921, in Sydney, Australia. Her father, Albert Lee, worked in the accounting section of the New South Wales Department of Railways, while her mother, Violet Haffenden, was a housewife who made sure that Betty and her younger sister, Peggy, spent their mornings before school at glorious Bronte Beach.

Her parents had first met at the Sydney train station, fell instantly in love and began an affair, even though Violet was 13 years older and married at the time, with three children. "She shocked the family when it was obvious she was having an affair with this gorgeous (and younger) man and there might have been some sighs of relief when he signed up for the army in 1916 and was shipped off to Europe to help fight in the First World War," Ms. Lee wrote in notes she left about her life.

But the relief would not last for long; when Albert returned to Australia, they resumed their affair and moved in together.

They were not able to formally marry until 1926, after Violet finally managed to extricate herself from her previous marriage.

Throughout, she continued to care for her older children, with her family pitching in to help.

In a way, her parents' relationship was Ms. Lee's first lesson in the importance of following one's passion. For her, it was writing, which she began in grade school when she produced a daily neighbourhood newspaper in longhand and peddled it for a penny.

Her mother and father understood, but they were also pragmatic about their daughter's future. Learn shorthand and typing, they counselled. Working for a prestigious company such as a bank, for example, would surely be better than a job at a grimy newspaper.

Ms. Lee quit high school at 16, ostensibly to learn shorthand and typing to prepare for a life as a secretary. But she had other ideas.

After her first job writing scripts at a radio station, she worked as a writer and editor for a publishing house and a fashion magazine before jumping ship in 1950 for London, England, and the Daily Mirror, a racy tabloid where stories were two or three paragraphs at most. She was miserable, and so were her editors. She left after only a few months.

In 1953, she landed in Toronto at The Globe and Mail. It would be her first stint at the newspaper; over the next two years, she would take on several roles - a reporter, rewrite editor, feature writer, picture editor and editorial writer - before decamping for New York. There, she worked without papers until early 1959, covering sessions of the United Nations and further honing her sense of justice.

Then she returned to The Globe as a feature writer for its expanded weekend edition, which included a weekly magazine. Her first big assignment was the royal tour that stretched through the summer of 1959, the coverage of which was a "colossal bore," she recalled.

"It was far too long for everyone to endure without signs of cracking up, including the royals themselves," Ms. Lee wrote. "I can remember one of my colleagues looking at the passport-class photograph provided on my official name tag and saying sympathetically, 'You're beginning to look like your photo.' " Over the years, she wrote numerous important features and series, including one in 1963 about Arthur Lucas, a soft-spoken giant of a man with a long criminal history who, with Ronald Turpin, had been hanged at Toronto's Don Jail the year before.

Their deaths would mark the last time capital punishment was enforced in Canada and Ms. Lee, who used trial transcripts and extensive interviews to produce the series, sharply questioned the fairness of Mr. Lucas's doublemurder trial from the get-go.

She wrote that every bit of evidence presented had been circumstantial and not a single witness placed him at or near the house in Toronto's Annex neighbourhood where two bodies were found. Mr. Lucas's well-intentioned defence lawyer was trying his first capital case, she continued, and was beset by both lack of funding and a need to prepare for Mr. Turpin's trial on the heels of this one - a file he had accepted because he thought it would occur much later. And the Crown prosecutor had recently remarked that the vast majority of "sinners" were found guilty in court and that it might be more reasonable to presume guilt rather than innocence over the course of a case, as had been done in the past.

At a time when most women were relegated to the sidelines, expected to be silent and supportive, Ms. Lee meticulously paved the way for people who fought against wrongful convictions, such as Isabel LeBourdais, whose 1966 book about the trial of Steven Truscott sparked a huge public outcry and prompted the federal government to refer the case to the Supreme Court of Canada for review. (Mr. Truscott would have to wait until 2007, however, for the Ontario Court of Appeal to finally overturn his conviction for the rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl as a "miscarriage of justice" that "must be quashed.") Along the way, Ms. Lee travelled the world for The Globe, won a National Newspaper Award for a lengthy hard-hitting series on the insurance industry and, in 1972, became the first female Southam Journalism Fellow at Massey College, at the University of Toronto, to be allowed to use the college on a daily basis - just like the men.

Upon her return to The Globe, she wrote movie reviews and a feature about the retinal detachment that occurred while she was watching the movie Last Tango in Paris. That marked the beginning of her long battle with vision problems, spurring others to see their own doctors to have their eyes examined.

Around that time, Ms. Lee left The Globe to try her hand at different media, in magazines such as Chatelaine, Canadian Business and The Canadian; and as a consulting editor for Moneysworth, a personal finance program on TVOntario.

She also wrote a book titled Lutiapik about the experiences of Ms. Knight, who had worked as a nurse for Northern Health Services in the Arctic long before she met and fell in love with Ms. Lee at a dance club in Toronto.

"Everyone else there was young and we began to talk and discovered we had a lot in common," Ms. Knight recalled. "We had to be quiet about our relationship in those days. You didn't tell anybody about it and made sure to do it quietly. I remember police used to come and watch the girls in gay dancing clubs just to see what we looked like. But we looked like everybody else."

To the end, with her sight so deteriorated she could no longer read, Ms. Lee remained an avid and opinionated listener of the CBC and BBC, engaging in conversation and living exactly the way she wanted to, with the woman she loved and surrounded by people who loved her.

Ms. Lee leaves Ms. Knight; her sister, Peggy Mowbray; and a host of friends who became her family in Canada.

To submit an I Remember:

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Associated Graphic

Betty Lee is pictured in about 1961 while working as a feature writer for The Globe Magazine: 'When she was looking into something, nothing stopped her.'


Fuel costs buoy hopes at Jetlines
Ultra low-cost startup plans to boldly go where so many other Canadian discount carriers have failed
Saturday, March 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S1

VANCOUVER -- David Solloway has seen airlines come and go in his 42 years in the industry.

With jet-fuel prices tumbling since last summer, the Canada Jetlines Ltd. president believes the startup company will be in the right place at the right time to launch a new airline this September.

The idea is to create an ultralow-cost carrier (ULCC), borrowing the no-frills concept from companies such as Ryanair in Europe and Spirit Airlines in the United States.

Canada's aviation history is littered with carriers that went out of business for a variety reasons, notably the challenges of operating in a sprawling country. Despite the checkered past, there is an opening for a new Canadian entrant, industry observers say.

"We're building a route network for 16 planes," Mr. Solloway said in an interview in a spartan office near Vancouver International Airport. "Our business model will have cost savings in how we operate. The vast majority of our reservations will be done over the Internet."

Western Canada plays a prominent role in the Jetlines vision, with Vancouver and Winnipeg serving as hubs. Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Ottawa and Montreal are among the proposed destinations. Within 18 months of the first departure, the goal is to expand to Hamilton as the hub in Central Canada.

Jetlines plans to start out small with two jets in operation and one backup. Mr. Solloway, 63, said consumers shouldn't be fooled by the humble beginnings. Calgarybased WestJet Airlines Ltd. launched with only three planes in 1996.

The startup's business model is to lure consumers with low fares and to charge for anything extra.

Plans call for a $25 fee for each carry-on bag and $20 for each checked bag.

Getting off the ground will be much easier said than done. A Globe and Mail investigation into Jetlines' fundraising drive shows an array of relatively small investments, including money from some of the company's executives, friends, family and a wide assortment of contributors. Some of the investments have been token amounts of less than $5,000.

Jetlines hopes to attract $3-million in funding this spring, but that would still be far short of the goal to raise $50-million to finance the launch.

The Vancouver-based company, which is applying to trademark the motto Flying Your Way, has raised almost $2.5-million in total since the fall of 2013. Jetlines chief executive officer Jim Scott and his wife, Holly, have invested $192,000 for 1.3 million shares, or a 16-per-cent stake.

On March 9, Jetlines received a promising inquiry from a Canadian private-equity company, which could become a lead and strategic investor. Whether this latest potential saviour of the Jetlines business model will bear fruit remains to be seen. There is also a potential strategic partner holding talks with Jetlines.

The list of possible major investors has been shrinking, however.

Halifax-based charter carrier CanJet, which got stung during a previous foray into scheduled service and closed those operations in 2006, won't be doing any deal with Jetlines, two industry sources said. And potential foreign investors such as Irelandia Aviation and Indigo Partners don't have any interest in pouring money into Jetlines.

Since July 30, 2014, Jetlines has raised $1-million from 85 purchasers spread over three issues of securities, regulatory filings show.

Since 2013, there have been nearly 185 investors in the fledgling carrier. Almost $5,000 has been invested by Vancouver lawyer Kevin Sorochan, through Soro Law Corp. Mr. Sorochan does legal work for Jetlines. His father, Donald, a lawyer who serves on the board of directors at Jetlines, invested $30,000 while Jetlines interim chairman John Sutherland invested $10,000.

To make it attractive for contributors, Jetlines issued shares at low prices to recognize the high risk involved with the aviation venture. It's a case of high risk, high reward, Mr. Scott said.

Efforts to raise big money have been disappointing. As Jetlines embarked on a road show in December to test the interest of major investors in Central Canada, declining oil markets hammered the share prices of energy companies. That made the prospective investors, who saw the value of their oil and gas shares plunge, nervous about plowing money into Jetlines, Mr. Scott said.

An attempt by Jetlines to merge with Inovent Capital Inc. flopped last month, leaving Inovent chief executive officer David Brett fuming. The two sides are now embroiled in a messy legal dispute. "We were going down the aisle to the altar and I found out that somebody else was in the picture. It's disappointing and hard to fathom," Mr. Brett said.

Jetlines denies any wrongdoing, saying it has acted ethically and honestly, portraying the fight with Inovent as an unnecessary distraction.

The big customer draw at Jetlines will be deeply discounted ticket prices - low enough to persuade them to forget about collecting loyalty points from frequent flier programs at the country's two largest carriers, Air Canada and WestJet. Domestically, the cheap airfares will be also targeted at people who would otherwise drive long hours to their destination. For cross-border flights, Jetlines reckons that ticket prices reasonably close to the low rates offered by U.S. carriers at airports near the CanadaU.S. border will entice Canadians to fly from Vancouver, Winnipeg or Hamilton.

Jetlines officials have been working long hours to prepare reports required to seek regulatory approval to launch from the Canadian Transportation Agency and Transport Canada. Jetlines released its route map in February, generating buzz among consumers. "People are asking us, 'When can we buy tickets for here or there?' It's tremendous," said Mr. Scott, a former pilot with Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways.

Through e-mails and social media, Jetlines heard from passengers who are frustrated by high ticket prices charged by Air Canada and WestJet.

Industry analysts caution that if Jetlines manages to launch and expand to have 16 jets in its fleet within three years as planned, the startup will be in for a rough ride, with WestJet's regional Encore unit positioned to do battle. Air Canada and its regional partners are also at the ready.

Other competitors include Sunwing Travel Group, which has grown over the years to become a large charter operator to leisure destinations. CanJet has a new vacations division.

Learning lessons from discounter Jetsgo Corp.'s collapse in 2005, Jetlines has decided to stay away from Calgary and Toronto - those two cities have airports where WestJet and Air Canada are strong.

Industry experts note that WestJet strayed from its discount roots long ago.

"Canada is one of the largest remaining markets in the world that lacks an ultra low-cost carrier. A principal attraction to prospective investors is that ULCCs are delivering among the strongest financial results in the global airline sector," said Robert Kokonis, president of airline consulting firm AirTrav Inc.

Two Canadian entrants are possible, though industry experts say there isn't room for two discounters in Canada.

Jet Naked, the temporary name of a no-frills airline proposed by WestJet co-founder Tim Morgan, is contemplating opening for business, though no date has been set. Mr. Morgan, who is the CEO at Calgary-based charter operator Enerjet, pointed out that Jetlines placed an order for five Boeing 737 Max jets to be delivered starting in 2021, even though the startup has yet to fly one passenger. "What does Jetlines bring to the picture? They have no earnings," he said. "They certainly have an uphill battle."

Mr. Solloway insists that Jetlines will make inroads in North America. Jetlines has its sights set on operating with seven Boeing 737-300 jets and nine Boeing 737s in the 700 or 800 series, which have a longer range than the 737-300s. Air Canada and WestJet have access to Bombardier Q400 turboprops for regional service.

Jetlines says it expects to have roughly 1,000 employees and contractors in three years. Costs will be kept low through website bookings and expenses controlled by operating a fleet with a single aircraft type, the Boeing 737, instead of multiple models of planes that would cost more money to maintain, said Mr. Solloway, whose grandfather and father worked in the airline business.

Mr. Solloway once worked at Oasis Hong Kong Airlines Ltd., which flew between Vancouver and Hong Kong for less than 10 months, before stopping flights in 2008. His previous jobs include serving as a general manager at Canadian Airlines, which he left in 1992, eight years before that financial troubled carrier was taken over by Air Canada, which itself went through painful restructuring in 2003-04.

The aviation veteran, who started his career in 1973 at CP Air, has enjoyed the perks of travelling around the world. He worked as a general manager in the 1990s for United Airlines in Bangkok, Hong Kong and New Delhi. Instead of preparing for retirement, he is settling in at Jetlines for his next aviation adventure.

"We'll start with Vancouver and move to Alberta and eastward as soon as we can," Mr. Solloway said. "We're in the middle of talking to numerous aircraft leasing companies to get the best possible terms. Where and when we fly will be our secret sauce."


Jetlines' route map, released in February, shows a network of non-stop flights using Vancouver, Winnipeg and Hamilton as hubs, while avoiding Calgary and Toronto.

Associated Graphic

President of Canada Jetlines David Solloway, seen last July, needs $50-million to finance the airline's launch.



Low fuel prices buoy high hopes at Jetlines
Ultra low-cost startup plans to boldly go where so many other Canadian discount carriers have failed
Saturday, March 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S1

David Solloway has seen airlines come and go in his 42 years in the industry.

With jet-fuel prices tumbling since last summer, the Canada Jetlines Ltd. president believes the startup company will be in the right place at the right time to launch a new airline this September.

The idea is to create an ultralow-cost carrier (ULCC), borrowing the no-frills concept from companies such as Ryanair in Europe and Spirit Airlines in the United States.

Canada's aviation history is littered with carriers that went out of business for a variety reasons, notably the challenges of operating in a sprawling country.

Despite the checkered past, there is an opening for a new Canadian entrant, industry observers say.

"We're building a route network for 16 planes," Mr. Solloway said in an interview in a spartan office near Vancouver International Airport. "Our business model will have cost savings in how we operate. The vast majority of our reservations will be done over the Internet."

Western Canada plays a prominent role in the Jetlines vision, with Vancouver and Winnipeg serving as hubs. Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Ottawa and Montreal are among the proposed destinations. Within 18 months of the first departure, the goal is to expand to Hamilton as the hub in Central Canada.

Jetlines plans to start out small with two jets in operation and one backup. Mr. Solloway, 63, said consumers shouldn't be fooled by the humble beginnings. Calgary-based WestJet Airlines Ltd. launched with only three planes in 1996.

The startup's business model is to lure consumers with low fares and to charge for anything extra. Plans call for a $25 fee for each carry-on bag and $20 for each checked bag.

Getting off the ground will be much easier said than done. A Globe and Mail investigation into Jetlines' fundraising drive shows an array of relatively small investments, including money from some of the company's executives, friends, family and a wide assortment of contributors. Some of the investments have been token amounts of less than $5,000.

Jetlines hopes to attract $3-million in funding this spring, but that would still be far short of the goal to raise $50million to finance the launch.

The Vancouver-based company, which is applying to trademark the motto Flying Your Way, has raised almost $2.5-million in total since the fall of 2013. Jetlines chief executive officer Jim Scott and his wife, Holly, have invested $192,000 for 1.3 million shares, or a 16-per-cent stake.

On March 9, Jetlines received a promising inquiry from a Canadian private-equity company, which could become a lead and strategic investor. Whether this latest potential saviour of the Jetlines business model will bear fruit remains to be seen. There is also a potential strategic partner holding talks with Jetlines.

The list of possible major investors has been shrinking, however. Halifax-based charter carrier CanJet, which got stung during a previous foray into scheduled service and closed those operations in 2006, won't be doing any deal with Jetlines, two industry sources said. And potential foreign investors such as Irelandia Aviation and Indigo Partners don't have any interest in pouring money into Jetlines.

Since July 30, 2014, Jetlines has raised $1-million from 85 purchasers spread over three issues of securities, regulatory filings show.

Since 2013, there have been nearly 185 investors in the fledgling carrier. Almost $5,000 has been invested by Vancouver lawyer Kevin Sorochan, through Soro Law Corp. Mr. Sorochan does legal work for Jetlines. His father, Donald, a lawyer who serves on the board of directors at Jetlines, invested $30,000 while Jetlines interim chairman John Sutherland invested $10,000.

To make it attractive for contributors, Jetlines issued shares at low prices to recognize the high risk involved with the aviation venture. It's a case of high risk, high reward, Mr. Scott said.

Efforts to raise big money have been disappointing. As Jetlines embarked on a road show in December to test the interest of major investors in Central Canada, declining oil markets hammered the share prices of energy companies. That made the prospective investors, who saw the value of their oil and gas shares plunge, nervous about plowing money into Jetlines, Mr. Scott said.

An attempt by Jetlines to merge with Inovent Capital Inc. flopped last month, leaving Inovent chief executive officer David Brett fuming. The two sides are now embroiled in a messy legal dispute. "We were going down the aisle to the altar and I found out that somebody else was in the picture. It's disappointing and hard to fathom," Mr. Brett said.

Jetlines denies any wrongdoing, saying it has acted ethically and honestly, portraying the fight with Inovent as an unnecessary distraction.

The big customer draw at Jetlines will be deeply discounted ticket prices - low enough to persuade them to forget about collecting loyalty points from frequent flier programs at the country's two largest carriers, Air Canada and WestJet. Domestically, the cheap airfares will be also targeted at people who would otherwise drive long hours to their destination. For cross-border flights, Jetlines reckons that ticket prices reasonably close to the low rates offered by U.S. carriers at airports near the CanadaU.S. border will entice Canadians to fly from Vancouver, Winnipeg or Hamilton.

Jetlines officials have been working long hours to prepare reports required to seek regulatory approval to launch from the Canadian Transportation Agency and Transport Canada. Jetlines released its route map in February, generating buzz among consumers. "People are asking us, 'When can we buy tickets for here or there?' It's tremendous," said Mr. Scott, a former pilot with Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways.

Through e-mails and social media, Jetlines heard from passengers who are frustrated by high ticket prices charged by Air Canada and WestJet.

Industry analysts caution that if Jetlines manages to launch and expand to have 16 jets in its fleet within three years as planned, the startup will be in for a rough ride, with WestJet's regional Encore unit positioned to do battle. Air Canada and its regional partners are also at the ready.

Other competitors include Sunwing Travel Group, which has grown over the years to become a large charter operator to leisure destinations. CanJet has a new vacations division.

Learning lessons from discounter Jetsgo Corp.'s collapse in 2005, Jetlines has decided to stay away from Calgary and Toronto - those two cities have airports where WestJet and Air Canada are strong.

Industry experts note that WestJet strayed from its discount roots long ago.

"Canada is one of the largest remaining markets in the world that lacks an ultra low-cost carrier. A principal attraction to prospective investors is that ULCCs are delivering among the strongest financial results in the global airline sector," said Robert Kokonis, president of airline consulting firm AirTrav Inc.

Two Canadian entrants are possible, though industry experts say there isn't room for two discounters in Canada.

Jet Naked, the temporary name of a no-frills airline proposed by WestJet co-founder Tim Morgan, is contemplating opening for business, though no date has been set. Mr. Morgan, who is the CEO at Calgary-based charter operator Enerjet, pointed out that Jetlines placed an order for five Boeing 737 Max jets to be delivered starting in 2021, even though the startup has yet to fly one passenger. "What does Jetlines bring to the picture? They have no earnings," he said. "They certainly have an uphill battle."

Mr. Solloway insists that Jetlines will make inroads in North America. Jetlines has its sights set on operating with seven Boeing 737-300 jets and nine Boeing 737s in the 700 or 800 series, which have a longer range than the 737-300s. Air Canada and WestJet have access to Bombardier Q400 turboprops for regional service.

Jetlines says it expects to have roughly 1,000 employees and contractors in three years. Costs will be kept low through website bookings and expenses controlled by operating a fleet with a single aircraft type, the Boeing 737, instead of multiple models of planes that would cost more money to maintain, said Mr. Solloway, whose grandfather and father worked in the airline business.

Mr. Solloway once worked at Oasis Hong Kong Airlines Ltd., which flew between Vancouver and Hong Kong for less than 10 months, before stopping flights in 2008. His previous jobs include serving as a general manager at Canadian Airlines, which he left in 1992, eight years before that financial troubled carrier was taken over by Air Canada, which itself went through painful restructuring in 2003-04.

The aviation veteran, who started his career in 1973 at CP Air, has enjoyed the perks of travelling around the world. He worked as a general manager in the 1990s for United Airlines in Bangkok, Hong Kong and New Delhi. Instead of preparing for retirement, he is settling in at Jetlines for his next aviation adventure.

"We'll start with Vancouver and move to Alberta and eastward as soon as we can," Mr. Solloway said. "We're in the middle of talking to numerous aircraft leasing companies to get the best possible terms. Where and when we fly will be our secret sauce."


Jetlines' route map, released in February, shows a network of non-stop flights using Vancouver, Winnipeg and Hamilton as hubs, while avoiding Calgary and Toronto.

Associated Graphic

President of Canada Jetlines David Solloway, seen last July, needs $50-million to finance the airline's launch.



Radio host a staple of Vancouver airwaves
Disc jockey and TV personality was a standout for his cool insouciance as he rubbed elbows with rock royalty and politicians
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, March 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S12

Fred Latremouille's voice, as smooth as cream liqueur, provided a background soundtrack for British Columbia's baby boomers, who aged along with the popular broadcaster.

He first hit the airwaves in Vancouver at the age of 17 in 1962, building a following on Top 40 radio stations as a disc jockey spinning the latest rock and pop singles. By his 30s, he had transformed from swinging teenaged heartthrob to wisecracking television weatherman. His final public act was as an amiable and affable morning radio host alongside Cathy Baldazzi, a traffic reporter who would become his wife, on a laid-back show called Latremornings.

The death of Mr. Latremouille from liver disease at 69 shocked many of his fans, as his boyish visage and youthful vigour gave him an ageless presence.

A familiar voice on the airwaves for decades, Mr. Latremouille had the ability to connect with his audience, making him a much indemand pitchman for radio and television commercials, where he displayed a deft comic touch.

Like many of his peers, Mr. Latremouille came to radio broadcasting as something of a loner, a boy who moved often and heard on the airwaves the exciting sounds of Elvis Presley and early rock 'n' roll, finding in it an unseen community that shared his interests.

Frederick Bruce Latremouille was born on Oct. 22, 1945, in Nanaimo, B.C., to Margaret and Bruce Latremouille. His father, a wartime pilot and officer, trained other Royal Canadian Air Force flyers on Tiger Moths. The couple divorced when Fred was two. His mother later married Robert Harlow, the regional director of CBC Radio, and the boy grew up in a duplex in West Vancouver. Bill Good, a popular sportscaster, lived on the same block. His namesake son and young Fred bicycled around the neighbourhood and maintained a friendship that would see both become legends in Vancouver broadcasting.

"We didn't so much go to school together," Bill Good Jr. said recently, "as skip school together."

Young Fred earned spending money as a teenage caddy at Gleneagles Golf Course, gaining a love for the sport. At 16, he spotted a newspaper advertisement seeking an announcer for radio station CKYL in Peace River, Alta.

With a song about tumbleweeds playing in the background, the teenager recorded an audition tape in the family basement that he mailed to the station. He lied about his age, telling them he was 20. His ruse was discovered when he arrived at the radio station, but, having already invested the price of an airplane ticket, the station retained the precocious youth, who dropped out of Grade 11 to read the news and host a morning show.

The gig lasted about a year before he returned to Vancouver, enrolled again in high school, and began hanging out in the waiting room of radio station CJOR trying to cajole the staff to listen to his tape. He pestered station manager Vic Waters for months before being hired to handle an afternoon show featuring countryand-western music. The young jock slipped onto the playlist pop tunes of interest to his peers. He claimed to have been the first in the city to play a record by the Beatles, and was a keen promoter of the Motown sound.

In 1964, he was lured away to a popular hit-parade station whose boss jocks were known as the CFUN Good Guys, billed as "tops on the teen scene," and whose weekly charts were called the CFUNtastic Fifty. He even took a pay cut to be able to work at a station more dedicated to pop music.

The following year, Mr. Latremouille played drums with the station's house band, the CFUN Classics, on a rollicking instrumental song titled Latromotion. It first appeared on the CFUNtastic Fifty at No. 45 on Feb. 13, 1965. The tune spent seven weeks on the station's charts, rising as high as No. 13. (The Classics formed the nucleus of the band Chilliwack.)

In an age of frenetic delivery and motormouth patter, his cool insouciance stood out, and he was tabbed to be host of television shows airing on the CBC in the 1960s, including Let's Go, Where It's At and New Sounds. A restless figure confident in his abilities, he flitted from job to job, knowing he was in demand.

He worked briefly at CFAX in Victoria before returning to Vancouver for two years at CKLG, a Top 40 rival to CFUN. At CKLG, he joined with fellow jockey Roy Hennessey under the name Froyed to record a parody of the Rolling Stones' Ruby Tuesday renamed Grubby Thursday. The parody lyrics joked about unclean hippies and rhymed DDT with LSD.

Around this time, the radio host grew his blond hair into a mod, mop-top bowl with long sideburns, while also wearing a velvet-trimmed Edwardian morning coat, or a red serge military tunic in the Sgt. Pepper style. Mr. Latremouille performed alongside Paul Revere and the Raiders and chugged Southern Comfort with Janis Joplin. At public events, he would be mobbed like a rock star.

Mr. Latremouille became a coeditor of the Georgia Straight newspaper in 1967 seven issues after its debut, a time when the underground paper faced harassment from the police and threats from Vancouver's mayor. "Sometimes we had to step over the dopers on the floor to get work done," he once said, "and the Marxists were always coming in to tell us we were too soft." He personally sold the paper on street corners at 10 cents per copy and conducted a telephone interview with John Lennon during his honeymoon bed-in for peace with Yoko Ono in Amsterdam in March, 1969.

A diagnosis of testicular cancer in 1972 seemed to barely slow his pace, though the radiation treatment would damage his bones such that he would be unable to golf in his later middle age. He was host of Hourglass, a dinnertime news program airing on CBC-TV in Vancouver, and later showed up on the dial on a lunchtime program titled Fred and Friends, which was taped at locations around the city. By the early 1980s, he was the weatherman on BCTV's News Hour, a ratings juggernaut in the market. He also appeared in bit parts in Hollywood movies filming in Vancouver.

In 1984, he returned to CFUN, where he handled morning-show duties alongside a bright, young broadcaster named Cathy Baldazzi, who reported on traffic and weather. They married - his third time, her first - in 1987. A move from CFUN to rival KISS-FM in 1992 shook up local radio lineups, as rivals scrambled to counter the city's top-rated morning man.

The couple got Prime Minister Kim Campbell to join them one morning, as she selected music and introduced the traffic report.

The pair retired in November, 1999, with Mr. Latremouille saying it was time, as he told one newspaper, to "bury the alarm clock, sleep in and hit some golf balls." The couple returned to the airwaves six years later on Clear FM, broadcasting from their suburban seaside home in which a studio had been built. After a year, they retired for good, building a summer home on 25 acres on Prince Edward Island.

While holidaying in Hawaii in 2003, the couple invited B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell for dinner.

The premier helped himself to "two or three martinis" before having wine with dinner, Mr. Latremouille said afterward. The premier was later pulled over for speeding and arrested for drunk driving. A breath sample registered a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.149, well over the legal limit of 0.08. Mr. Campbell later pleaded no contest and paid a fine. Mr. Latremouille wondered aloud whether he should have "tackled" his friend before letting him leave.

Like many broadcasters, Mr. Latremouille dedicated much time to charity fundraising and was known for promoting with his wife the annual Christmas Wish Breakfast, a yuletide tradition in which people bring toys for distribution to needy children.

Mr. Latremouille was inducted into the B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame in 2006 and was named to the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' Hall of Fame the following year.

Mr. Latremouille died on March 5 in Scottsdale, Ariz., where he maintained a winter home. He leaves his wife of 27 years as well as sisters, brothers, his stepfather and his mother.

The broadcaster was a noted prankster, responsible for mayhem during live shows. (He once set Bill Good Jr.'s script afire as he read from it.) He incorporated fake wake-up phone calls in his shows, including once calling a woman at a snore clinic to tell her she'd be representing Canada at an international snore-off.

The radio host was in the audience for a taping of The Tonight Show while on holiday in Hollywood in 1988 when he was approached by a man who said he was looking for a Canadian disc jockey. The man told Mr. Latremouille that host Johnny Carson had taken ill, as had guest host Jay Leno. "I started to get nervous," Mr. Latremouille later confessed. "And then I really got nervous when the guy asked me if I was funny." He then was handed a piece of paper letting him know he'd been pranked by friends back home.

To submit an I Remember:

Send us a memory of someone we have recently profiled on the Obituaries page. Please include I Remember in the subject field.

Associated Graphic

Cool and suave, Fred Latremouille, seen with Let's Go co-host Randi Conlin, was made for television.


Fred Latremouille

When Dr. Trance spoke, people listened
A staple at Toronto's Pride festival, progressive radio personality helped define a subculture with big parties and creative programs
Special to The Globe and Mail
Friday, March 20, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S6

Earlier this month, Ellison Berns, the younger brother of the DJ, actor, singer and party organizer Don Berns, walked into a bank in Caledon, Ont.

He was there to sort out his late brother's affairs and expected to simply talk with a teller and be on his way.

No. Numerous patrons and staff began coming up to him, wishing him well, offering their condolences and sharing stories of his brother. Don, who lived nearby, had known everyone and been a part of their lives in some way; he'd often bring back cases of oranges from his trips to Florida and give them to bank staff. "He made a community wherever he went," Ellison, a cardiologist, said.

Don was a part of the glory days of the Toronto radio station CFNY - both on the air with his warm baritone and behind the scenes programming the music.

In the 1990s, he organized some of the first and most notable raves in the city under the moniker Dr. Trance. He was dubbed the Godfather of Rave for his contribution to the scene. His voice was everywhere - various radio stations, Global TV, TSN, Pride Toronto - and he was also an accomplished actor.

Mr. Berns loved music, and his rich, deep voice was perfect for radio. He was a big guy with a huge and giving personality. "He was the biggest kid I ever knew," says Eddy Dobosiewicz, who was close friends with Mr. Berns for more than 40 years, having met him at a concert in Buffalo in the 1970s when Mr. Dobosiewicz was just 16. "He had this infectious, gregarious, bigger-than-life personality. He made people feel welcome and accepted immediately."

The two had a decades-old private joke that they shared the motto of Chuckles the Clown from The Mary Tyler Moore Show: A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.

Mr. Berns died on March 1 at the age of 67 after a suspected heart attack. Just a few days earlier, he'd had minor surgery to put in a stent for an arterial blockage.

From his early days, Don Berns loved music and theatre. Born on Aug. 18, 1947, in West Hartford, Conn., the son of Vivian and Lawrence Berns, he sang in the a cappella group the Pelicans in high school. From there, he went to Brown University, where he studied English, did theatre and sang with the Jabberwocks (and attended every reunion for the legendary group except for the most recent, as the number of his peers attending was dwindling). He also got involved at the radio station WBRU. According to friends and family, Mr. Berns was instrumental in helping shape the station's progressive approach to music.

After graduation, he worked as a DJ in various New England cities. In 1970, he landed a dream job: midday host at WKBW, the Buffalo Top 40 station that was one of the biggest in the country. He was eventually promoted to music director. "It was the tail end of radio in that era, where radio personalities got to be creative," recalls Mr. Dobosiewicz, who was hired by Mr. Berns to work at the station.

Then Mr. Berns shocked the local music industry by defecting to the album rock station in town, where he had more creative freedom. In 1975, he left for Dallas, and for the next decade did a series of DJ gigs across the United States in cities such as San Diego and Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, Mr. Berns met David Marsden, a DJ at CHUMFM in Toronto, and started doing voice-over work for his commercial production company. Mr. Marsden would actually fly down to wherever Mr. Berns was living in the United States to record him. Then, Mr. Marsden launched CFNY, and pioneered an entirely new approach to radio. He actually used Mr. Berns's voice for station ID spots: In other words, Mr. Berns was the voice of the station before he even worked there.

In 1985, a DJ slot came up at CFNY and Mr. Marsden offered it to Mr. Berns. Mr. Berns was living in Pittsburgh at the time and was doing live theatre, TV and a high-profile radio show. "He dropped everything," recalls Mr. Dobosiewicz - CFNY was so well respected in the industry at the time. Soon, Mr. Berns was promoted to assistant program director and music director, then program director.

He stayed until 1992. By then, the station's format had become more traditional and Mr. Berns was ready to move on.

He began DJing at Toronto's Energy 108, spinning techno music - and did the same later on at CHIN-FM and other stations.

He adopted the stage name Dr. Trance and began organizing raves.

Through the promotion company Nitrous, then Atlantic and later Effective, he helped organize massive raves at high-profile venues such as the CN Tower, the Ontario Science Centre and the Toronto Island Airport. He was very much a face of the scene, going out to parties several nights a week as Dr. Trance and talking about raves on the radio.

When the rave scene wound down, Mr. Berns kept busy with voice work and other jobs. He was the station ID announcer for Global for a few years and later for TSN. He always had the main stage at Toronto Pride, DJing during the annual festival. He appeared on numerous radio stations and Internet radio shows.

Mr. Berns did live theatre for most of his life, both directing and acting with community groups wherever he was living.

In his later years, he spent more time on the stage and went out regularly to the theatre as well.

He played Edna Turnblad in Hairspray at the Meadowvale Theatre in Mississauga and Daddy Warbucks in a production of Annie in Brampton. Most recently, he appeared in Puss in Boots in Diversified Theatre's production in Whitby.

Mr. Berns leaves behind numerous tight circles of friends.

"What was so amazing about him is what you see as a public persona is his private persona," his brother recalls. "He was as much of a room-filling person in public as he is in private." He was a loud guy with a loud laugh, who always made time for everyone he met.

Years ago, Mr. Berns met one of his many distant cousins at a family event when the boy was just 10. Despite all the other older relations in the room that were closer to his age and he knew well, Mr. Berns sat down with the boy and asked very caringly about his life and his hopes and dreams. "He could meet a stranger and within moments you felt like you'd known him your whole life," Mr.

Dobosiewicz said.

For his part, Mr. Dobosiewicz remained close friends with Mr. Berns for decades, despite living in different cities. His children considered Mr. Berns a favourite uncle.

Mr. Berns was extremely active in the nightlife and theatre scene in Toronto but he liked to live away from the bustle. He moved to Brampton when he first came to Canada and then relocated to Caledon. Though he lived alone, he rarely had an empty house.

He had many friends who stayed with him on and off over the years. If anyone needed a place to crash, Mr. Berns's door was open. That went double for pets. He had a German shepherd, Mr. Briggs, that he was particularly devoted to until it died a few years ago. At the time of Mr. Berns's death, his longtime friend and frequent housemate Matthew Brown says he "only" had one dog and two cats.

Mr. Brown recalls often seeing Mr. Berns lying in bed reading magazines (he subscribed to many) and sharing the bed with as many as five cats and a big dog.

Mr. Berns was out as a gay man for as long as anyone can remember, but he didn't like to make a big deal out of it. (He once got angry at a friend who introduced him as being gay.)

He had a few romantic partners over the years, but the most enduring relationships in his life were his friends, his huge extended family in the United States and his pets.

Several years ago, he took great strides to improve his health, shedding about 100 pounds and quitting smoking.

He drank very little but was an excellent toastmaster. Apparently, he was a terrible driver. He was so good at Scrabble, though, that playing against him was almost pointless.

He had a big voice, and a big, generous heart.

Mr. Berns leaves his brother, Ellison Berns, and his sister-inlaw, Elizabeth Berns.

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Associated Graphic

Don Berns keeps the party moving at Pride festivities in 2004. A community-oriented man, Mr. Berns was quick to offer his hospitality to those in need: 'He made people feel welcome and accepted immediately.'


When the rave scene wound down, Mr. Berns shifted gears and became the station ID announcer for Global and later for TSN.


This year's winners of the Canada Gairdner International Awards are known for scientific discoveries that reach deep into the inner workings of cells. As Ivan Semeniuk reports, they also offer insights that may help thwart diabetes, autoimmune disease and a range of cancers
Thursday, March 26, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L7

In 1665, the English polymath Robert Hooke wrote that he had gazed at a thin slice of cork through his microscope and found it to be full of tiny spaces. He coined the term "cells" to describe what seemed to him like empty little rooms.

Hooke didn't know it, but he had stumbled upon the basic unit of life and the key to modern medicine. Living things, as scientists would come to realize, are made of cells. But empty little rooms they are not.

As is made clear by this year's Gairdner Awards - Canada's top international medical-science prizes - the cell is more like a city. It is a vast collection of integrated systems that work together to marshal resources, power assembly lines, build impressive structures, dispose of waste, preserve information and perpetuate growth. But unlike any human city, a cell is a self-managed metropolis - there are no bureaucrats keeping the wheels turning, just the wheels turning by themselves, guided by genetics and honed by billions of years of evolution. Our lives depend on it.

Of the seven 2015 Gairdner winners, announced in Toronto on Wednesday, five international researchers are being recognized for uncovering fundamental processes involving cells. Their discoveries are not aimed at one particular disease. Instead they illuminate many.

The Gairdner Awards have a track record of throwing the spotlight on research that has proven significant in the long run. Many winners eventually become Nobel laureates. This year's winners illustrate a long but fruitful road between curiosity and application. While their groundbreaking experiments were, in most cases, performed decades ago, their impact on human health is just beginning to be felt. What they have in common is their role in unlocking the black box of how cells regulate themselves. Along the way they have helped transform our understanding of the way life works.


The discovery: A system that tells the cell when nutrients are available, a role linked to diabetes and cancer

Winner: Dr. Lewis C. Cantley, director, Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York

Just as a city must import food and energy, a cell needs to bring in resources to sustain itself and grow. But when should the drawbridges be lowered?

For cells, the answer depends on a chain of interactions between different kinds of molecules - each one triggering the next. Together these interactions convey a message about the environment outside so that cells can respond and bring supplies on board when they are there to be had.

In the mid-1980s, Lewis Cantley was trying to figure out how insulin activates cells to take up glucose, a key nutrient. Together with colleagues he discovered an enzyme that picks up the message that insulin has been detected by receptors that poke through the cell membrane. The enzyme fires up the internal signalling system and ultimately causes the cell to pump the glucose in.

Although it has the unfamiliar name of phosphoinositide 3-kinase, Cantley's discovery is crucial to body function. When the system lags, it allows glucose to build up in the bloodstream, which can lead to diabetes. When it runs in overdrive, it can allow cancerous cells to rapidly devour the nutrients that feed tumour growth.


The discovery: A protein that lets the cell know when it's time to grow, and a key player in the spread of cancer

Winner: Prof. Michael N. Hall, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland .

In 1989, scientists were curious about rapamycin, a drug first isolated in Montreal that was proving effective in suppressing the immune system and preventing the rejection of donated organs.

What no one understood was how it worked. Michael Hall and his team recalled that rapamycin - as its name suggests - had originally been discovered in a soil sample from Rapa Nui (Easter Island), where it is generated by microbes as a way to attack fungus. So they turned to yeast cells, which are fungal and easier to work with than human cells.

Eventually they were able to piece together a complex set of interactions that rapamycin disrupts. In the process they discovered the "target of rapamycin," or TOR, a protein they knew lay at the heart of the system.

The big surprise came later, when TOR proved to be the central controller in charge of cell growth and size - something that researchers previously thought happened passively depending on available resources. When you build up your muscles by exercising, or when your brain forms new connections to facilitate learning, cells are growing and TOR is at work. The key question, says Hall, is "what is TOR doing when it goes bad?" In part the answer is that a faulty TOR system can prompt cancer cells to metastasize. Ongoing research points to new strategies for tackling cancer and a variety of metabolic diseases.


The discovery: An all-purpose recycling service that allows cells to stay alive when resources are scarce

Winner: Prof. Yoshinori Ohsumi, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo City dwellers must recycle, and so too must cells. But for cells, recycling is a matter of survival.

When nutrients are scarce, the cell has a system for breaking down old or unneeded machinery and harvesting the parts to keep itself going. The system, known as autophagy - literally "self-eating" - involves isolating the material slated for recycling inside a little bubble called an autophagosome. The bubble migrates over to and merges with a lysosome, one of the cells' recycling centres, where enzymes break large molecular components down into their constituent parts, ready for repurposing.

Starting in 1988, Yoshinori Ohsumi was the first to observe and describe this key cell function after detecting it in yeast cells. The system is so dynamic that understanding its operation was not easy, he says, but years of experience with the techniques of microscopy allowed him not only to see autophagy in action, but to identify mutant cells where it was defective. This, in turn, allowed him to discover the genes that are essential for autophagy and the molecular machinery that runs the process.

Ohsumi refers to himself as "just a basic researcher in yeast," yet his discovery is widely recognized as fundamental to human cell survival, and autophagy has been implicated in Alzheimer's disease. "I believe its relevance to many diseases will be discovered in the near future," he says.


The discovery: A watchdog that keeps bad information from derailing cells and provides a window on the causes of genetically based disease

Winner: Dr. Lynne Maquat, director, Center for RNA Biology, University of Rochester, Rochester, N.Y.

Every cell needs instructions to function, survive and even die at the right time. Those instructions come from a master library - the cell's DNA - where they can be copied onto long, stringy molecules called messenger RNA and then sent out to make the proteins that are the basic components of all cell activity. The problem is that sometimes the instructions are wrong.

"All cells make mistakes," says Lynne Maquat, who discovered that cells have a mechanism for identifying and eliminating the bearers of bad instructions, which are called nonsense messenger RNA.

Maquat says she was originally motivated to understand how problems with protein production lead to a wide range of diseases, from cystic fibrosis to many forms of cancer. In the 1980s she began to explore that question, leading her and her colleagues over the next three decades to discover a crucial quality-control system in the cell.

Because nonsense messages often originate from diseasecausing genetic mutations in DNA, the discovery can help better pin down the precise cause of disease and point the way toward future treatments.


The discovery: A type of cell that balances the immune system and keeps the body from attacking itself

Winner: Dr. Shimon Sakaguchi, vice-director, Laboratory of Experimental Immunology, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan .

To build a healthy organism, cells must work together and specialize, and among the most specialized of all are T cells, the immune system's defenders against infection. T cells work by producing destructive enzymes that break down infectious agents. When T cells fail to recognize the difference between the invaders and healthy tissue, the result is autoimmune disease.

It was a quest to understand and treat autoimmune disease that inspired Shimon Sakaguchi when he graduated from medical school. He was drawn to the scientific challenge, he says, and to the "philosophical flavour" of the underlying question: How do cells distinguish self from nonself?

Working with mice in the early 1980s, Sakaguchi was able to demonstrate the existence of a new type of T cell, produced in the thymus gland, whose purpose was to ramp down the immune response and prevent autoimmune disease in the aftermath of an infection. Called regulatory T cells, they have now been shown to provide a crucial balance in the immune system - a balance that can be adjusted in one direction to help treat conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, or in another to invigorate the immune system when fighting the growth and spread of cancer.

Associated Graphic


As it recovers from the depths of the financial crisis, Athens is experiencing a cultural rebirth, writes Robert Everett-Green. Old factories house museums, opera is taking to the streets - even the subway is now a memory machine
Saturday, March 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page T1

ATHENS -- Crowds surge through the pedestrian shopping zone of Athens's Ermou Street, past designer boutiques and a tiny Byzantine church that stands at a kink in the road like an island of sanctity. Kapnikarea church is at least 1,000 years old, though its domed roof rests on four ancient columns from Roman times, each of them stripped from a different ruin.

Those mismatched columns, so pragmatically reused, offer an object lesson about the problems and promise of Athens today. Six years of economic crisis, and several decades of thoughtless urban development, have focused many minds here on the task of building a better future from the usable past.

Apart from its classical monuments, Athens is not a picturepostcard capital. It is gritty, restless and spontaneous, as you can see from rampant graffiti that sometimes blows up into epic street art.

But the city seems to be rebounding from the depths of the crisis, which many say were touched three years ago. More and more Athenians are involved in a kind of civic infill activity, reimagining the town, improvising social services and engaging in what Greek photographer Eirini Vourloumis calls "a forced renegotiation of Greek identity."

Athens is still living the hangover from the boom years of the 1960s, when Athenians were proud of the city they thought they were creating, but also strangely oblivious to the consequences of that process. Uncoordinated development, fuelled by aid from the U.S. government, erased much of the city's neoclassical heritage, and damaged the city's ecology and infrastructure.

Now, ambitious plans are afoot to remodel the downtown in more sustainable ways, and to add cultural capital to civic life.

Innovative restorations, led by artists and arts organizations, are reclaiming rundown industrial districts. There is a feeling here that creativity is the last and best resource when other resources fail.

Nikos Vatopoulos, cultural editor of the Athens daily paper Kathimerini, says that Greece "has entered its Weimar period" - a reference both to its political fragility and its creative dynamism.

Rethink Athens, a project led by the Onassis Foundation, will insert a "green spine" between two central plazas, starting later this year. The six lanes of Panepistimiou Street will be pedestrianized and planted with 800 trees, to become a grand promenade - with bike lanes and a tram line - between the neoclassical environs of Syntagma Square and the slowly reviving area around Omonia Square.

Near the centre of that promenade, the Greek National Theatre is completely restoring the Rex Theatre, an art-deco building designed in 1935 that will become a three-stage theatre hub. Dozens of empty buildings along Panepistimiou will reawaken as cultural spaces through a citywide project called theatre of 1,000 rooms.

The Greek National Opera, which has expanded all over town with unstaged "suitcase operas" and pop-up performances, will have a new theatre as of next year, designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation's new complex in the city's southwest. The National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) has already taken up quarters in part of a restored brewery building originally designed by Takis Zenetos, a leading Greek proponent of modern architecture's International Style.

Technopolis, a complex of display spaces in a former industrial zone in the west-central Gazi district, is perhaps the best model in Athens for physical conversion of the usable past. It was a coal-gas plant, and is now partly a museum for that disused extraction process. But it also houses exhibitions, such as the first Athens Biennale in 2007; and conferences, such as the bio-trade fair that was going on during my visit in November.

Near the cylindrical iron skeleton of the museum's towering gas holder, a dense gathering of restaurants, cafés, art galleries and clubs has crept up both sides of the narrow park between Persefonis and Voutadon Streets, which is now one of Athens's most vibrant night-time areas.

Metaxourgio, a more rugged former industrial area to the north of Gazi, is slowly being revitalized by an influx of art galleries and even a few new condo developments. Since 2008, the Breeder gallery has been housed in a former ice-cream factory that was converted in spectacular minimalist fashion by architect Aris Zambicos. There's no name on the tall steel doors, and the cartoon-like graffiti climbing up the façade is actually an artwork commissioned from a street artist known as ATH1281.

"The crisis has motivated artists," says director Nadia Gerazouni, who adds that many Greek artists have returned home after decamping to Berlin earlier in the economic troubles.

The Breeder represents the likes of Stelios Faitakis, a political muralist whose sprawling Imposition Symphony, shown at the 2011 Venice Biennale, used a vigorous style derived from Byzantine icons to attack censorship.

With faltering state support for culture, Gerazouni says, "if you want to do something in Athens, you just have to go out and do it."

The energy and agony of Athens during the crisis seems to be the main reason that the 2017 edition of the prestigious German art exhibition Documenta will begin here in April of that year, before a second opening in Kassel during the summer. Like Germany when Documenta began in 1955, say the organizers, Greece is dealing with "the trauma of destruction," while embarking on a project of national reinvention.

Inevitably, that project will include the residue of antiquity that crops up in protected sites all over town. The most dramatic recent venue for encountering that past is Bernard Tschumi's Acropolis Museum (2009), which houses statuary from the ancient site, but which also acts as a luminous viewing box from which to look out over modern and ancient portions of the city.

The Athens Metro system is even more dynamic: Displays within stations highlight artifacts uncovered during tunnel excavation. Syntagma station, for example, has exposed pipes from a fifth-century aqueduct,

and a cross-sectioned wall behind Plexiglass, through which you can see early Christian graves with skeletons inside.

The Metro, much of which is sleek and quite new, is "a crowdmover that also functions as a memory machine," say architectural historians Alexander Tzonis and Alcestis Rodi in their book Greece: Modern Architectures in History.

Other parts of Athens strive to forget or conceal recent memories and current problems. You could easily stroll the shopping area of Kolonaki and not realize that a citywide wave of crisisrelated shop closings still roils even this upscale enclave. A visit to the Breeder might leave you unaware of the meaning of tiny single bulbs gleaming above several open doors nearby, all of which lead to brothels.

Poverty is an open fact of life in Athens today, much more than 10 years ago. But even with an unemployment rate near 25 per cent, I saw few homeless people, perhaps because of strong traditional ties within Greek families. For the most part, Athens feels safe. The people I met were unfailingly friendly and seemed more than ready to enter a new phase of their national life. The whole place is in ferment, and when you sense that, Athens seems a more exciting place than tidier, picturebook capitals to the north.


Air Transat offers direct seasonal flights to Athens from Toronto beginning in May. Air Canada rouge offers direct seasonal flights from Montreal.


Greek National Opera Upcoming performances include Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata (May), Giacomo Puccini's Tosca (June) and Georges Bizet's Carmen (July). For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

The National Museum of Contemporary Art The museum's new home, the former Fix brewery, dates back to the 1950s. The permanent collections features works in the fields of painting, photography, video, industrial design, new media, architecture and installation. .

Technopolis The Technopolis grounds are home to the Industrial Gas Museum, a café and myriad cultural events - from dance to music to events for children - that attract more than 600,000 visitors a year. For more information and a calendar of events visit (note: most of the text is in Greek).

Metaxourgio This growing neighbourhood is bursting with arts, small businesses and events. Visit for ideas on what to see and do.

The Breeder gallery Since the economic collapse of 2009, the Breeder has focused on promoting "a select group of emerging Greek artists on the global arena." Its new home in Metaxourgio features more than 5,381 square feet of exhibition space. .

Associated Graphic

Technopolis, once home to gasworks, is now a major cultural space, hosting everything from bike festivals to international art exhibitions.


Architect Bernard Tschumi's Acropolis Museum features a view of both the modern and ancient portions of Athens.


The gritty and restless spirit of Athens is nicely illustrated in the rampant graffiti that sometimes blows up into epic street art.


Speaking with the voice of a generation
You may not know her name, but you definitely know her voice - Susan Bennett is a veteran actress better known as Apple's Siri
Friday, March 20, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B7

If you've ever travelled with Delta Airlines, chances are that Siri has given you an update on your flight - even if you don't own an iPhone.

That's because the original voice of Siri and the voice of the airline's gate announcements come from the same person. Sixty-five year old voice-over actress Susan Bennett has provided the dulcet tones behind GPS systems, telephone on-hold messages, instructional videos and advertisements for more than three decades. She has done work for just about every major company out there, including TV and radio ads for brands such as McDonald's, Coca-Cola and Ford.

She has watched first-hand how the business has changed, and spoke to us by phone from her home in Atlanta about the voices behind the products we use and ads we hear every day.

How did you get into the business?

I used to do a lot of jingle singing, back in the day when they used to actually use groups of people instead of taking one or two voices and over-dubbing.

One day, the voice talent didn't show up. They said "Susan, you don't have an accent, come and read this copy." That was in the late seventies. I got some voice coaching and an agent, and that was the beginning of my career.

Is it strange hearing yourself in the airport or in a commercial?

I'm used to it. The Siri thing freaked me out, though, I have to say.

How did you come to be cast as Siri?

The original Siris [there are different voices for different countries], when we were doing this recording, didn't really know where it was going to end up.

Siri was created by a Norwegian man named Dag Kittlaus. I don't know if he chose my voice, or if Apple changed it when they purchased it from him. I recorded the vocabulary that became the basis for Siri in July of 2005, four hours a day, five days a week, for the whole month.

It was very, very tedious stuff because we were reading phrases and sentences that were created solely to get the maximum number of sound combinations in the language - so the sentences were kind of odd. Then, there's a process called concatenation: the technicians extract sound combinations - vowels, consonants, dipthongs, syllables - and put them back together in their own reconstructed phrases and sentences.

That's why she sounds robotic?

Yes. It's absolutely astonishing, the technology. When the first concatenated voices came out they sounded [switches to a robot voice] Like. This. Hello.

How. Are. You. That's why Siri was such a big deal. She was the first concatenated voice that sounded almost human.

What was it like when you realized it was your voice?

It was rather disappointing to realize that we were not going to be getting paid [residuals] for usage. [Laughs] She came out in 2011 and I didn't reveal myself until 2013 - because part of being a voice talent, is enjoying your anonymity. People don't know what you look like, where you're from, how old you are - all those things people might use to judge you, other than just your voice. So I really couldn't make up my mind. My husband and my son convinced me. They said, "You're missing a fun opportunity."

You won't be the Siri on the new Apple watch, though?

They changed all the Siri voices starting with iOS 7. All the new systems, either they have manipulated my voice to the point where it doesn't sound like me, or they're using a different voice.

I don't know for sure, because Apple ain't talking. [Apple has never officially identified the actors behind Siri's voice.]... The new Siri, well, I think she's much more generic. She doesn't seem to have as much attitude. The first one was pretty funny. Definitely more cheeky, for sure.

Given that it's produced using all this technology, are you able to do the voice?

[Switches into a pitch-perfect Siri voice] Yes, I can. What can I help you with?

That was weird.

It's not quite as perfect as the iPhone. ... My natural speaking voice is a little bit higher than Siri. And because it's been manipulated, it doesn't sound exactly like me. A lot of times, people are surprised. There was a little kid that came here on Halloween one year, and said, "The neighbours say you're Siri.

... You don't sound like Siri," and I said, [Siri voice] "How about now?" [laughs] What did you think of the movie Her, and the idea that people can develop intimate relationships with this kind of technology?

I had mixed feelings, but I thought the acting, the whole look of the movie, and the basic premise were great; and with our continual progress toward artificial intelligence, I'm sure people will become even more invested in their virtual assistants, possibly to the degree of Theodore in the movie! I just hope we can all remember how to communicate with actual humans!

How has the voice-over business changed?

We're kind of celebrity obsessed.

A lot of celebrities are doing voice-overs. Also, they're not doing as much original music [for jingles]. They're using library music or taking old pop songs and using them.

What about the technology?

You can have a very good quality recording system, that's portable.

If you get yourself a decent microphone and plug it into MixerFace [a mobile recording tool for smartphones] you can record right on your iPhone.

There are production websites such as and, where amateurs can do auditions for voice-overs.

Some casting directors also go to social media to find talent - like YouTube. A lot of the commercial work has gone non-union.

Like everything else involved in the Web, it's basically a bottom line, cost situation. There's a ton of competition. And there doesn't seem to be the same amount of respect for experience and professionalism that there was before. ... It's not enough to have a nice voice. You really have to know how to use it.

When you do ads, do you have a type? Is there a certain tone in the work you tend to get?

In the last few years, my voice has gotten a little bit lower, and consequently, I don't get the same types of commercial stuff that I used to do. ... Advertising goes through phases, and different trends. When I did a lot of commercials, there was a lot of dialogue, a lot of characters and comedy. Now there's still comedy, but there seems to be a real guy-next-door thing happening.

You don't have as much of the actor sound. Visually as well - not just with voices. It's all guynext-door. ... There aren't nearly as many female voices in the business as male.

Why is that?

I really don't know. I don't understand that, myself. I think women's voices are very appealing. Some people have the perception that the male voice might be more authoritative, but I really don't know.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Online: Listen to clips of the interview with Susan Bennett at


The revolution in the voiceover industry has come to Canada as well. Here are some of the big changes:

That Hollywood sound

Celebrities have made voiceovers less anonymous: In recent years we've heard such familiar voices as Jeff Bridges in a Duracell commercial, Robert Downey Jr. in a Nissan ad and David Duchovny for Pedigree.

"Voice-over became more visible," said Toronto-based voice casting director Kim Hurdon.

Hollywood also influences the type of voices that are cast. Following the release of the movie Her, Noelle Jenkinson, an agent with AMI in Toronto, saw more requests for voices similar to Scarlett Johansson, who played the Siri-like voice assistant.

Cost controls

In Canada, a lot of the highquality work still uses union talent, but there has been an increase in non-union work.

"What's driving that, I think, is that ad agencies have had to deal with cost consultants who say, 'You can't pay more than this for talent,' " Ms. Jenkinson said.

From announcing to conversation

When Ms. Hurdon began casting more than 25 years ago, nearly all voice-overs were from middle-aged men.

Since then, advertisers "started looking for voices that sounded more like a familiar friend, so that it didn't seem as if they were selling you something as much as giving you a heads up on something you might be interested in," Ms. Hurdon said.

Associated Graphic


The last of the largest private cache of Canadiana on Earth will be auctioned in London on Wednesday. James Adams reports from the depths of our history
Saturday, March 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R1

Peter Stephen Winkworth was a secretive man, not given to interviews, public pronouncements or autobiographical outpourings. So it's unknown just how attuned he was to life's perversities, how keen a sense of irony he'd developed by the time he died at 76 in 2005.

We can, however, be ironists on his behalf, and make this case: that the loss by Winkworth of a leg to a motorboat's propeller in an accident on the Monte Carlo shoreline in the mid-1950s proved a significant, even unprecedented gain for Canadian culture.

For it was in the 50 years following that mishap that Winkworth did his greatest work - you could even call it the work of history - namely the accumulation of the most extensive private collection of Canadiana ever: thousands of vintage prints, maps, drawings, tomes, ceramics, glassware, charts and ephemera relating to first European contact and colonial history in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today Winkworth's most important artifacts reside, permanently, in Ottawa, in Library and Archives Canada and the National Gallery, the result of two headline-making, multimillion-dollar deals completed in 2002 and 2008 after years of tortuous negotiations.

Not everything Winkworthian, though, has vanished behind the doors of institutions. On April 1, 249-year-old auctioneer Christie's in London is hosting a sale of more than 300 lots of (mostly) Canadiana culled from the nowsold Kensington mansion Winkworth and his late wife, Franca, occupied for 50 years. Interest is "huge," says Brett Sherlock, a Christie's senior vice-president based in Toronto. And so might be the prices hammered down.

The lots - which include some 25 wares commemorating MajorGeneral James Wolfe's death on the Plains of Abraham in 1759 and an early 19th-century tomahawk/pipe that once belonged to a governor-general - are going into the bidding carrying a total estimate of $1.7-million to $2.5million. But with individual collectors and museums circling along with a reported consortium of Canadian public institutions, the final tally could be much higher.

Back briefly to the accident in Monte Carlo. If you're inclined to a literary view of life, you could say that until it occurred, Peter Winkworth was living the life you'd expect of the London-born son of an affluent English father and an indulgent Canadian mother. Raised in Britain until he was 7, when his businessman father died, he was sent to Quebec where he attended Bishop's College School in Lennoxville. He read history at Wadham College, Oxford, before joining a firm of Canadian stockbrokers and financial consultants in London.

Slender, handsome, adept at tennis and rowing, he cut, according to several reports, a most elegant figure.

Collecting seems to have been in the Winkworth blood. A grandfather and an uncle in Britain had large appetites for Chinese porcelain and furniture.

Some time in Winkworth's late teens, an uncle in Paris either sold or gave him a set of early 19th-century colonial-era prints by Maj.-Gen. James Pattison Cockburn, from tours of duty to Upper and Lower Canada.

Accounts vary as to how avid was Winkworth's collecting impulse initially. At the same time, there is no denying his avidity gained in mania, momentum and volume after the events in Monte Carlo, including, the Daily Telegraph reports, the court case that "won him a then-record sum in compensation for his injury." Sent to New York to recuperate, Winkworth reportedly practised the use of his artificial leg by walking up and down the daunting entrance stairs to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He pored over catalogues, attended auctions, visited antique shops.

Certainly it was smart of Winkworth to fix his passion on Canadiana; as historian Charlotte Gray has written, "Canadian prints and drawings were considered of little value" in the late 1940s into the 1950s, even among Canadian museums. Socially well-connected in Britain, he would purchase material from both dealers and households, often "visiting," observes Gray, "the country homes of families whose forebears had served in Canada as military officers or government officials to ask whether they had albums or sketchbooks they were interested in selling."

As Dennis Reid, former chief curator of the Art Gallery of Ontario, remarked in 2009: "Peter, I think in many cases, was there before us" - "us" being Canadian museums and galleries. It wasn't until the 1970s that they began to play catch-up. Or at least tried to.

Compared with the prices fetched by some modern and contemporary art, Canadiana, especially 19th-century historical works, still seems like a bargain.

A superb 1856 Cornelius Krieghoff canvas, Quebec Farm, for example, carries the highest estimate - $115,000-$154,000 (£60,000-£80,000) - of any lot in Christie's Winkworth sale.

Yet for Nicholas Lambourn, Christie's head of department, topographical pictures, it seems like 1981 all over again. That's the year he started at Christie's in London and watched billionaire Canadian collector Kenneth Thomson at auction fend off Toronto art dealer G. Blair Lang to acquire, for £85,000, a Krieghoff, Moose Hunters (1859). "That was the world record for a Canadian picture in 1981," Lambourn recalled during a recent promotional/preview visit to Toronto (the painting is now at the AGO in Toronto). "So in sterling terms, Krieghoff hasn't moved very much." The auction record for a Krieghoff, $490,000, was set more than 20 years ago, and the market has been largely dormant ever since.

Still, Lambourn thinks "there's a lot of interest coming back into this field. Certainly it's highly prized by institutions." Take the Winkworth cachet, the fact he rarely lent works from his collection, add the obvious quality of Quebec Farm and "I think you can see why we're hoping the end result will far exceed what we got for Moose Hunters."

Two other lots are exciting Christie's. One is a watercolour on paper, titled An East View of the Great Cataract of Niagara, painted in 1762 by the British army officer/collector/historian Thomas Davies. A gripping panorama, it's generally regarded as "the very first view of Niagara Falls taken on the spot and the first accurate view ... radically correcting earlier fanciful descriptions."

So keen is Christie's on the Davies that, upon landing in Toronto earlier this month, Lambourn and fellow Christie's colleagues Nicolas Martineau and Helena Ingham travelled to Niagara to stand on the exact spot where the soldier composed his view. Christie's presale estimate for the Great Cataract is $77,000$115,000 (£40,000-£60,000). But Martineau is convinced it will fetch more since Christie's, in the 1980s, sold "an incredibly rare" view of New York by the same artist for £110,000, "and this Niagara view is just as interesting."

Martineau is bullish, too, on the lot featured on the front of the auction catalogue. Untitled, by an unknown painter and dated to the early 19th century, it's a vivid depiction, in oils, of Mi'kmaq hunters camped on a bay somewhere in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick. A similar-sized canvas of the same scene by the same artist is in the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Canada, but Christie's says its "lovely thing," 44 centimetres by 60, has the better condition. It's being sold as a package with another, same-sized canvas of a related scene by the same unattributed artist. The estimate: $46,750-$74,800.

By the time the auction ends Wednesday afternoon at Christie's sales room, Lambourn says it is likely that 95 per cent of the lots sold will have been bought by Canadians, the remainder going to U.S., British and possibly French collectors. And while the room is expected to be full of bidders and interested observers, "it really doesn't matter where a sale is held these days," Lambourn said. "Everything's global.

We can sell Australian art in London to Australians in Australia. They can just sit on their yachts with their laptops and bid live."

The auction of The Winkworth Collection: A Treasure House of Canadiana occurs at Christie's South Kensington (London) branch April 1 starting at 8 a.m. ET, 12:00 noon GMT.

Associated Graphic

Most of Peter Stephen Winkworth's collection of Canadiana is held in the National Archives and National Gallery.


Among Peter Winkworth's collection now up for auction is the watercolour by British army officer Thomas Davies called An East View of the Great Cataract of Niagara, one of the first accurate views of Niagra Falls.


A view of Winkworth's Kensington mansion, from which Christie's has culled its catalogue.


Low fuel prices buoy Jetlines' high hopes
Ultra-low-cost startup plans to take off in Vancouver and boldly go where so many other Canadian discount carriers have failed
Saturday, March 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A17

VANCOUVER -- David Solloway has seen airlines come and go in his 42 years in the industry.

With jet-fuel prices tumbling since last summer, the Canada Jetlines Ltd. president believes the startup company will be in the right place at the right time to launch a new airline this September.

The idea is to create an ultralow-cost carrier (ULCC), borrowing the no-frills concept from companies such as Ryanair in Europe and Spirit Airlines in the United States.

Canada's aviation history is littered with carriers that went out of business for a variety reasons, notably the challenges of operating in a sprawling country. Despite the checkered past, there is an opening for a new Canadian entrant, industry observers say.

"We're building a route network for 16 planes," Mr. Solloway said in an interview in a spartan office near Vancouver International Airport. "Our business model will have cost savings in how we operate. The vast majority of our reservations will be done over the Internet."

Western Canada plays a prominent role in the Jetlines vision, with Vancouver and Winnipeg serving as hubs. Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Ottawa and Montreal are among the proposed destinations. Within 18 months of the first departure, the goal is to expand to Hamilton as the hub in Central Canada.

Jetlines plans to start out small with two jets in operation and one backup. Mr. Solloway, 63, said consumers shouldn't be fooled by the humble beginnings. Calgary-based WestJet Airlines Ltd.

launched with only three planes in 1996.

The startup's business model is to lure consumers with low fares and to charge for anything extra.

Plans call for a $25 fee for each carry-on bag and $20 for each checked bag.

Getting off the ground will be much easier said than done. A Globe and Mail investigation into Jetlines' fundraising drive shows an array of relatively small investments, including money from some of the company's executives, friends, family and a wide assortment of contributors. Some of the investments have been token amounts of less than $5,000.

Jetlines hopes to attract $3-million in funding this spring, but that would still be far short of the goal to raise $50-million to finance the launch.

The Vancouver-based company, which is applying to trademark the motto Flying Your Way, has raised almost $2.5-million in total since the fall of 2013. Jetlines chief executive officer Jim Scott and his wife, Holly, have invested $192,000 for 1.3 million shares, or a 16-per-cent stake.

On March 9, Jetlines received a promising inquiry from a Canadian private-equity company, which could become a lead and strategic investor. Whether this latest potential saviour of the Jetlines business model will bear fruit remains to be seen. There is also a potential strategic partner holding talks with Jetlines.

The list of possible major investors has been shrinking, however.

Halifax-based charter carrier CanJet, which got stung during a previous foray into scheduled service and closed those operations in 2006, won't be doing any deal with Jetlines, two industry sources said. And potential foreign investors such as Irelandia Aviation and Indigo Partners don't have any interest in pouring money into Jetlines.

Since July 30, 2014, Jetlines has raised $1-million from 85 purchasers spread over three issues of securities, regulatory filings show.

Since 2013, there have been nearly 185 investors in the fledgling carrier. Almost $5,000 has been invested by Vancouver lawyer Kevin Sorochan, through Soro Law Corp. Mr. Sorochan does legal work for Jetlines. His father Donald, a lawyer who serves on the board of directors at Jetlines, invested $30,000 while Jetlines interim chairman John Sutherland invested $10,000.

To make it attractive for contributors, Jetlines issued shares at low prices to recognize the high risk involved with the aviation venture. It's a case of high risk, high reward, Mr. Scott said.

Efforts to raise big money have been disappointing. As Jetlines embarked on a road show in December to test the interest of major investors in Central Canada, declining oil markets hammered the share prices of energy companies. That made the prospective investors, who saw the value of their oil and gas shares plunge, nervous about plowing money into Jetlines, Mr. Scott said.

An attempt by Jetlines to merge with Inovent Capital Inc. flopped last month, leaving Inovent chief executive officer David Brett fuming. The two sides are now embroiled in a messy legal dispute. "We were going down the aisle to the altar and I found out that somebody else was in the picture. It's disappointing and hard to fathom," Mr. Brett said.

Jetlines denies any wrongdoing, saying it has acted ethically and honestly, portraying the fight with Inovent as an unnecessary distraction.

The big customer draw at Jetlines will be deeply discounted ticket prices - low enough to persuade them to forget about collecting loyalty points from frequent flier programs at the country's two largest carriers, Air Canada and WestJet. Domestically, the cheap airfares will be also targeted at people who would otherwise drive long hours to their destination. For cross-border flights, Jetlines reckons that ticket prices reasonably close to the low rates offered by U.S. carriers at airports near the CanadaU.S. border will entice Canadians to fly from Vancouver, Winnipeg or Hamilton.

Jetlines officials have been working long hours to prepare reports required to seek regulatory approval to launch from the Canadian Transportation Agency and Transport Canada. Jetlines released its route map in February, generating buzz among consumers. "People are asking us, 'When can we buy tickets for here or there?' It's tremendous," said Mr. Scott, a former pilot with Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways.

Through e-mails and social media, Jetlines heard from passengers who are frustrated by high ticket prices charged by Air Canada and WestJet.

Industry analysts caution that if Jetlines manages to launch and expand to have 16 jets in its fleet within three years as planned, the startup will be in for a rough ride, with WestJet's regional Encore unit positioned to do battle. Air Canada and its regional partners are also at the ready.

Other competitors include Sunwing Travel Group, which has grown over the years to become a large charter operator to leisure destinations. CanJet has a new vacations division.

Learning lessons from discounter Jetsgo Corp.'s collapse in 2005, Jetlines has decided to stay away from Calgary and Toronto - those two cities have airports where WestJet and Air Canada are strong.

Industry experts note that WestJet strayed from its discount roots long ago.

"Canada is one of the largest remaining markets in the world that lacks an ultra low-cost carrier. A principal attraction to prospective investors is that ULCCs are delivering among the strongest financial results in the global airline sector," said Robert Kokonis, president of airline consulting firm AirTrav Inc.

Two Canadian entrants are possible, though industry experts say there isn't room for two discounters in Canada.

Jet Naked, the temporary name of a no-frills airline proposed by WestJet co-founder Tim Morgan, is contemplating opening for business, though no date has been set. Mr. Morgan, who is the CEO at Calgary-based charter operator Enerjet, pointed out that Jetlines placed an order for five Boeing 737 Max jets to be delivered starting in 2021, even though the startup has yet to fly one passenger. "What does Jetlines bring to the picture? They have no earnings," he said. "They certainly have an uphill battle."

Mr. Solloway insists that Jetlines will make inroads in North America. Jetlines has its sights set on operating with seven Boeing 737-300 jets and nine Boeing 737s in the 700 or 800 series, which have a longer range than the 737300s. Air Canada and WestJet have access to Bombardier Q400 turboprops for regional service.

Jetlines says it expects to have roughly 1,000 employees and contractors in three years. Costs will be kept low through website bookings and expenses controlled by operating a fleet with a single aircraft type, the Boeing 737, instead of multiple models of planes that would cost more money to maintain, said Mr. Solloway, whose grandfather and father worked in the airline business.


Jetlines' route map, released in February, shows a network of non-stop flights using Vancouver, Winnipeg and Hamilton as hubs, while avoiding Calgary and Toronto.

Associated Graphic


President of Canada Jetlines David Solloway, seen last July, needs $50-million to finance the airline's launch.


The future of fashion: Tech you can wear
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, March 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L1 @Jeanne_Beker

With the impending arrival of the muchhyped Apple Watch this spring, wearable technology is increasingly infi ltrating the mainstream. But even if you're not convinced that there's a role for tech in your personal style, there's no question that it's starting to colour fashion in myriad ways. Bradley Quinn is a British journalist, author and fashion strategist who spends a lot of time pondering fashion's future and advising brands on how to prepare for what's ahead. Author of several books, including Techno Fashion and Textile Futures: Fashion, Design and Technology, Quinn was in Toronto recently to speak at the Ontario College of Art and Design, where I sat down with him to talk about some of the advances that may be in store for forward-thinking fashionistas.

There's so much looking to the past in fashion these days that one might wonder if we're as technologically advanced as we ought to be.

Technologically, it's never looked better. For many years, I've been hearing people say that wearable tech's time has come. But now I really believe that it has, and it's not just me saying it. The media's starting to say it, and manufacturers are backing it up. You've got research labs and academic institutions that are really engineering the way for it, and you've got some very pioneering and visionary people who are getting right into the centre of the mix and starting to shake things up.

But are the masses really getting on board?

Well, "wristable" mobile devices and the sort of biometric technology that we see coming out in sportswear now are not really something that would appeal to the masses anyway. So in fashion terms, we think of those people wearing them as early adopters - the people who are more likely to wear the cutting-edge clothing, the people who are first to get into the shops and buy the radical styles that come out. Those people are very important to brands, because they get it first, so they're often trendsetters. They're normally happier to spend a bit more money and where they go, the rest of the industry will follow.

But in terms of technological innovations in fabrication, I would have thought we'd be further ahead. Why do we still have to send clothes to the dry cleaners? Why do clothes still wrinkle when we don't want them to?

Nanotechnology could take care of that. There are advances in nanotechnology, but these are being funded much more by aerospace and medical health, so it's slower to come into the clothing industry. Now, from my point of view, I started tracking this industry in 1996, at a time when we talked about wearable computing, and it was so unsexy. It was about big clunky machine-type things that were strapped onto the arm or mounted onto the head. So even though some of us may be frustrated thinking that fashion should be advancing more quickly, compared to what it was 20 years ago, we've come a long way.

I remember a few years ago at a Hussein Chalayan show, the designer was playing with remote control clothing - dresses that transformed before our eyes. Why didn't we see that sort of experiment continue?

Well, what I've seen in recent years that's really promising is this biometric technology - the way that sensors can actually be woven into a garment or placed into it strategically so that they monitor things like heartbeat, respiration or amount of perspiration that's released. It can really give the wearer an idea of how they are getting to their fitness goals. And this technology is unbelievable - even washable. So imagine being a health- or weight-conscious individual and in whatever you're wearing to the office during the day, you've got this biometric technology seamlessly integrated into it. You don't even know it's there.

But you can look at the app, because it's transmitting signals to the app, and you can see how close you're getting to your fitness goals, how many calories you're burning and potentially how many calories you've just eaten. Or maybe it's detecting or monitoring a potentially dangerous health problem.

So you're saying the technology is there and now it's just a matter of this being put into some kind of mass production?

It's not just a matter of that. The industry has a lot of challenges to solve fi rst. So the technology is there and we know how to make it work and there is what I would call a latent demand for it. I'm saying it's latent because this is technology that has applications in every man or woman's life, but most people don't know about it. But the challenges the industry is facing and trying to overcome as quickly as it can is all of this wearable technology, just like your mobile phone, needs a power source. And no one wants to walk around with a clunky battery pack strapped on, right? But, as I said, this is starting to advance. I've actually seen batteries that are soft, fl exible, sewable, washable and wearable.

How far in the future are you predicting that some of this "smart fashion" will be readily available?

When it comes to wearable technology, I'm very confi dent it will be mainstream and adopted by most fashion consumers long before 2045. I would say that by the end of next year, biometric technology in sportswear is really going to have a presence. Right now, it is being worn by individuals monitoring their own fitness reports. But in another three years, the technology will have improved dramatically and you'll have groups of people communicating with each other [through it], forming communities, and potentially they will be performing their exercise routines at different locations but will be able to share their vitals signs and fitness reports with each other so that their group can achieve a mutual fitness goal.

What about clothing designers as we know them? How quick do you think they're going to be to embrace some of this new technology?

Well, one brand, a small label called Cute Circuit based in London, has evolved over a 10-year period, from creating something called a Galaxy dress that was made with LEDs that lit up and changed colour. And that dress was just kind of strapped onto a mannequin, and there were long trailing cables that went into the wall to give it power. This is the brand that, a few years ago, did that amazing red carpet dress for Katy Perry with the integrated LEDs and the chiffon that changed colours. They had done clothing for musicians and performers, and two years ago they launched a collection at New York fashion week. So they really did bring wearable tech to the catwalk. They made history.

What do you see as the potential for fashion down the road?

The truth of fashion is that it empowers us to be our best selves, to be more than we can be and arguably more than we can be without it. And fashion has been doing that for a long time - like the corset sculpting women into an idealized shape. Wearable technology can do things like that today. Compression technology can maintain an idealized form, but being able to wear data and retrieve it at your fingertips through your clothes makes you more intelligent, right? When it has integrated communication technology, it makes you more accessible, and it makes you more aware of what's going on in rea time. When you've got devices that are communicating with your children and sort of keeping an eye on them, it's making you a better parent, and when you've got technology helping your fitness goals, your physical performance is improving all the time.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Associated Graphic

SHE'S ELECTRIC Hussein Chalayan's Remote Control dress, left, was displayed in an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute in New York in 2007. Below, far left: Katy Perry attended a Costume Institute Gala benefit at the MET in 2010 wearing a light-up gown by British label Cute Circuit. Below: Cute Circuit showed more high-tech looks at New York fashion week in 2014.


Fashion forecaster Bradley Quinn insists that wearable tech's time has finally arrived.

With the unveiling of five bold visions to overhaul our grim gateway to the Toronto Islands, the city has a chance to make magic. Plans are still more fantasy than reality, but fuelling public imagination may be the best way to build the terminal we need
Saturday, March 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page M1

The Toronto Islands are a magical place, a world apart from the city. And yet getting there is a grim and disorienting experience. You walk past the two-lane maw of a parking garage, along a narrow plaza and - after lining up to buy a ferry ticket - you are steered into an open-air holding pen. Visitors have no choice but to be pushed along by the mob.

Locals, as in so many other parts of Toronto's public realm, take the dysfunction for granted.

But that could change. This week, a design competition run by Waterfront Toronto brought forth five distinct visions for the site from five teams of top-flight designers. The proposals represent the rich state of landscape architecture today: bold in form, sometimes whimsical, attentive to ecology and hard-headed about the way people use public space. It's a set of ideas as deep and nourishing as a Great Lake.

They will fuel the city's imagination on what this site, and by extension the waterfront, could become with enough resources and vision. The desultory state of the terminal and park belies its tremendous importance; the ferry terminal gets 1.3 million visitors a year. It is the main route by which most Torontonians experience the lake. Given the crucial multibillion-dollar revitalization of the waterfront that's now in progress, it makes sense to welcome new ideas about the use and design of this pivot point.

The city has not yet allotted a budget for a serious revamp, but the designers provide insights into the place and bold responses that can - and should - generate some political momentum.

Some of the proposals, presented publicly at City Hall Monday night, dramatically reshuffle the site, which comprises Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and Harbour Square Park. Two effectively make the terminal disappear, merging it into large multipurpose structures: KPMB Architects' Bruce Kuwabara calls this "a fusion of terminal and park." They assume that new ticketing technology would likely eliminate the need for a holding area, thereby freeing the whole park to serve as a waiting area full of lures and attractions.

One turns the park's ground into a roof: The proposal by KPMB with landscape architects West 8 and local urban designer Ken Greenberg creates a lawn and then pulls up part of it, like an enchanted carpet, to form a green roof on top of a complex and beautiful skeleton of wood.

Another, "Civic Canopy," by the New York architects Diller Scofidio+Renfro (with landscape architects Hood Design and Toronto's architectsAlliance), imagines a sculptural canopy that spans the site - a parametric trellis, that would provide shade for passengers and, at other times, for farmers' markets or other community events.

"There is an amazing opportunity to cap Bay Street with a new civic building that should be an icon," DS+R's Charles Renfro said in an interview. But that iconic quality "should grow out of a close read of the islands themselves. We tried to develop a building image which is distinctly architectural, but also tapping into the DNA of natural structures and systems." Their canopy does that, evoking a whale skeleton while fitting into the architects' oeuvre of digitally enabled formal explorations.

Innovation to impress

DS+R is the closest thing to a star designer in the competition - it is best known for its work on The High Line in New York, and will be in the spotlight for the new Broad Museum in Los Angeles later this year. (The office once contrived a "building" that consisted entirely of mist, a precedent that came up in its own proposal and another one, too.)

But the competition field includes a healthy mixture of well-known innovators, such as the English troublemaker Will Alsop, who led the design of OCADU's Sharp Centre for Design, and West 8 and nARCHITECTS; skilled but under-theradar practitioners, such as landscape architects Stoss; and seasoned locals, such as KPMB and ZAS. It's pretty much the ideal blend to produce a mixture of careful analysis and new ideas.

Which is precisely the point.

The site belongs to the city proper, but Waterfront Toronto - an arm's-length agency that is charged with redeveloping much of downtown's eastern waterfront - was brought in to run the design competition thanks to a push from local Councillor Pam McConnell. The waterfront agency has both the expertise to run a good competition and the backbone to defend the importance of design, which is crucial since a competition such as this one doesn't necessarily produce a finished and buildable design.

"We want it to be something exceptional," says Waterfront Toronto vice-president Christopher Glaisek. "Our record is of using competitions to bring ideas that maybe haven't been seen in Toronto before." He cites Sugar Beach and Corktown Common - both the products of international competitions, both first-quality works of urbanism and landscape.

And they have been controversial: Sugar Beach was the topic of more than one attack from Rob Ford, as mayor, and Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, in each case claiming, falsely, that the parks were unreasonably expensive. Mr. MinnanWong now represents Mayor John Tory on the board of Waterfront Toronto. Given the political and economic realities of the city today, how likely are any of the schemes to be realized?

In the short term, they won't.

In the first place, the competition's jury will recommend a winner or a combination of proposals. A first phase will use up a modest pot of money - $750,000 - that the city's parks department had allotted to improve the park, making sure that spending fits into a longrange strategy. That larger strategy is unfunded, but Mr. Glaisek suggests that the strength of the ideas may drive the popular and political will to make it happen.

It's a strong strategy, and I think when many Torontonians see the proposals, they will express enthusiasm, as Mr. Tory himself did in a warm speech at the presentation Monday night.

(An opportunity for public consultation on the proposals wrapped at midnight on Friday.)

From there, a jury will help develop a master plan for the area, which the city can then use to move ahead with rebuilding of the park.

If one proposal gets approved as is, it is likely to be Cloud Park, from the team of Stoss, nARCHITECTS and ZAS Architects, which appears to require the smallest budget and the fewest major moves. It is handsomely detailed, carefully considered and efficient - using a new terminal building to serve as the centre for the park's new skating rink. Seeing even this built would be a victory.

But there are a range of other ideas - including hot tubs and swimming pools set into the lake, and the grand civic staircase suggested by Clément Blanchet's team - that deserve to be considered. Not to mention the grand ambitions of the DS+R and West 8/KPMB proposals. I hesitate to argue on their behalf, simply because they would require a very un-Fordian vision of what the city needs and deserves. But the mayor and the jury heard a good counterargument from Mr. Alsop, whose team offered a pragmatic and clearly considered design dressed up in hot pink accents and blobby "creatures."

It's difficult, Mr. Alsop suggested, to talk about fun when you talk about public space; no architect or politician, he implied, wants to be seen as frivolous. "But fun is very serious business," Mr. Alsop continued. "Fun is how a space is judged, in the long term, whether people enjoy being there."

Call it fun, call it beauty, call it wonder - these qualities deserve a place in Toronto, and may yet find one.

Follow me on Twitter: @alexbozikovic

Associated Graphic

The decades-old Toronto Island ferry terminal is poorly equipped to handle the throngs of people who visit it - about 1.3 million a year.


The proposed ferry terminal interior by the team of Stoss, nARCHITECTS and ZAS Architects.

KPMB Architects, West 8 and local designer Ken Greenberg propose to pull up part of the park to form a green roof on top of the complex.

The proposal by Quadrangle Architects, aLL Design and Janet Rosenberg & Studio includes a swimming pool.

Clément Blanchet's team, which includes Batlle i Roig, RVTR and Scott Torrance, envision building a grand civic staircase.

The designer behind New York's High Line, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, has a bold vision it calls 'Civic Canopy.'

Innovator wore many hats
He is remembered as 'a visionary leader with a constant, unrelenting commitment to the greater good'
Wednesday, March 18, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S6

When Cy Frank was a young man, he was an exceptional baseball player but suffered a devastating knee injury, a torn anterior cruciate ligament. It required him to spend six weeks in a full leg cast and surgery was recommended.

But, as a young medical student, he wondered what the evidence was for the recommended treatment and was shocked by the paucity of studies. So, in his spare time, with the help of an engineering professor, he fashioned a research project that eloquently demonstrated that neither the cast nor the surgery would be helpful.

Solving that riddle was the beginning of a 39-year career that would see Dr. Frank become one of the most respected leaders in Canadian health care, relentlessly promoting evidence-based care in his multiple, simultaneous careers as an orthopedic surgeon, scientific researcher, teacher, entrepreneur, mentor and healthsystem administrator.

"Cy was a visionary leader with a constant, unrelenting commitment to the greater good," said Tom Noseworthy, associate chief medical officer for clinical networks and clinical care pathways at Alberta Health Services, and a long-time colleague.

"It was his preoccupation - obsession even - to make the health system better, and he did."

Dr. Frank, president and CEO of Alberta Innovates Health Solutions (AIHS), which funds health research and promotes innovation in the health system, died in his sleep of a heart attack on March 5. He was 65.

Stephen Lougheed, president and CEO of Alberta Innovates Technology Futures, and a lifelong family friend, said Dr. Frank's sudden death was a shock and the loss is incalculable.

"It's hard to put into words how important his contributions were.

He worked on everything from discovery in the lab to implementation at the bedside, and he changed the system along the way. That's the kind of innovator we rarely see," Mr. Lougheed said.

Cyril Basil Frank was born on Aug. 3, 1949, and raised in Edmonton. His father was a Second World War bomber pilot who became a bush pilot, flying all over Canada's Far North.

From a young age, young Cyril enjoyed tinkering with planes and cars in his father's workshop, and he brought the same curiosity to his study of medicine and later to re-engineering the health system.

He did his undergraduate studies in his hometown, at the University of Alberta, earning a Bachelor of Science in zoology before applying to medical school. Surprisingly in retrospect, his application was rejected four times but, ever the optimist, he was undaunted.

In the interim, he earned a diploma in education and completed two years of genetics before finally gaining entry to medical school at the University of Calgary.

It was during his time in the education faculty that he met Joyce Cranmer, whom he would marry in 1977. The long-time science teacher died of cancer in 2000.

Dr. Frank completed his MD training in 1976 and, four years later, graduated with a specialty in orthopedic surgery.

"And he never did get his ACL repaired because he realized the surgery was not evidence-based," said Nigel Shrive, a professor of engineering at the University of Calgary, who helped with the initial research and collaborated on a number of projects over the years.

Dr. Frank did postgraduate studies at the University of California, San Diego, and the University of Toronto, before returning to the University of Calgary in 1984.

The first thing he did upon his return was go see Prof. Shrive to help design a study on the best treatment for a torn medial collateral ligament, one of the other main knee ligaments alongside the ACL.

"He felt that everything we do in medicine - and health care more generally - should have a basis in evidence," Prof. Shrive said.

Dr. Frank, however, did not feel that approach should apply only to clinical practice but to healthsystem design as well.

While his clinical research influenced how and if knee surgery is performed and how osteoarthritis is treated, he is probably best known for developing a system that dramatically reduced wait times for hip and knee replacements in Alberta, because it came when wait times were at the top of the political agenda. The secret of the project's success was getting health workers, from physiotherapists to surgeons, to co-ordinate care and, more importantly, to involve patients in the process.

Dr. Frank founded the McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health - funded with a generous donation from Calgary philanthropist J.R. (Bud) McCaig - and when he was unsatisfied by available surgical tools, he created a company to make them, Tenet Medical Engineering. He sold the company shortly before his death.

In 2001, when the Medical Research Council of Canada was revamped and bolstered into the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Dr. Frank became the founding director of the CIHR Institute for Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis, a post he held until 2007.

He also became a member of the prestigious Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, where he was chairman of a blue-ribbon committee that examined how best to measure the impact and return on investment of health research; the report they produced influenced science research funding bodies around the world.

Dr. Frank decided that he could have the greatest impact on the health system in his home province, so he took up the post of vice-president of research at Alberta Health Services and, most recently, as the CEO of AIHS.

He was also appointed to the national Advisory Panel on Healthcare Innovation, which should release its report later this year with recommendations on how the federal government can better promote and support health-care innovation.

Dr. Frank received a number of national and international awards, but invariably left them off his CV because he was modest.

When he was admitted to the Order of Canada last year, he didn't tell his sons until two weeks later and, instead of wearing the prized pin on his lapel, he kept it in his pocket, worried that putting it on display would be immodest.

Andreas Laupacis, executive director of the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, said it is hard to overstate Dr. Frank's efforts to reform the health system and make it more patient-centered.

"His was a life of continuous journey in pursuit of medical knowledge, health-care innovation and visionary public health policy," he said.

"We have lost much intellectually. But what hurts the most is that we have lost someone who had such passion about what he was doing, and who did it because he wanted to make the lives of patients better," Dr. Laupacis said.

While Dr. Frank worked long hours, he always made time for his family. He has two sons, Ryan, a pediatric plastic surgeon, and Tym, a resident in orthopedic surgery.

The older son, Ryan, said their father inspired them to pursue careers in medicine but, beyond that, he was a good dad. "No matter how busy he was, he made time for us, like coaching our baseball team," he said.

Ryan said his father was devastated by his wife's death and it changed him. "He underwent a transformation, and realized that there was more to life than just work," he said. "We became very close - a whole other level of friends."

Dr. Frank also purchased a cabin in the Rocky Mountains, near Kananaskis, where he loved to get away (there is no cellphone service) and take long hikes.

Still, at the age of 65, there was no talk yet of retirement, though the elder Dr. Frank did increasingly eye the vintage car he was planning to refurbish - a 1970 Chevelle 396 SS that he had purchased in his student days and hung on to all these years.

"We were looking forward to getting him back in the shop, like he did when he was young," Ryan said.

In addition to his two sons, Dr. Frank leaves his older brother, Geoff; long-time partner, Hélène Lévesque; and her two children, Lauren and Devon Plante.

A public celebration of Dr. Frank's life will be held at the University of Calgary's Jack Simpson Gymnasium on March 21 at 1 p.m.

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Associated Graphic

Cy Frank become one of the most respected leaders in Canadian health care.


How a Canadian businessman 'lost everything' in Cuba
Saturday, March 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B1

Canadian businessman Sarkis Yacoubian only knew his Cuban interrogator - the Cubans call them "instructors" - as Major Carlito. When they first met in the dim basement of the Havana house where security agents had initially imprisoned Mr. Yacoubian in July, 2011, he says Major Carlito greeted him by grabbing his own crotch.

"If you are expecting that the Canadian embassy is going to come to your help, this is what they are going to get," Mr. Yacoubian, 54, says his captor warned him. Then, he says, Major Carlito accused him of being a spy, an accusation that would eventually be abandoned before the Canadian was convicted by a Cuban court of corruption charges and expelled last year.

His story, and that of Torontoarea businessman Cy Tokmakjian, who was released from incarceration in Cuba last month after a similar corruption trial, are cautionary tales for would-be investors in Cuba.

However, some say the historic Dec. 17 announcement of Canada-brokered talks to normalize Cuba's relations with the United States - plus recent moves by leader Raul Castro to liberalize the economy - still has Canadian investors and entrepreneurs interested in the Communist-ruled island.

Despite Major Carlito's threat, the Canadian embassy did closely monitor's Mr. Yacoubian's status as he spent two years in jail before facing any formal charge.

And the ambassador attended Mr. Yacoubian's 2013 trial, which saw him sentenced to nine years in prison and fined $7-million for corruption, tax evasion and doing "economic damage" to Cuba.

Mr. Tokmakjian, 74, spent more than three years in prison. Two of his Canadian employees who had been blocked from leaving Cuba were also recently freed. His Concord, Ont.-based Tokmakjian Group reportedly had a $90-million-a-year business on the island importing vehicles and construction equipment. His assets in Cuba were seized. Mr. Yacoubian, a former employee of Mr. Tokmakjian's who broke away from his boss to build what he said was a $20-million-a-year business in Cuba bringing in similar products, says all of his assets on the island were also seized.

Both were caught up in what has been described as an anti-corruption sweep. Some of their Cuban employees as well as Cuban state officials were jailed.

Several Cuban officials associated with a joint venture with Toronto-based miner Sherritt International Corp., Canada's largest investor in Cuba, were also convicted of corruption offences in 2012. And a handful of other foreign businessmen in Cuba, including Briton Stephen Purvis - who told reporters his captors also initially accused him of espionage - and Frenchman JeanLouis Autret were also imprisoned. Both have since been freed.

Mr. Yacoubian's account of his ordeal sounds plucked from a spy novel. But even though months before his arrest he did buy a 2011 Aston Martin - James Bond's car of choice - he says he was no spy.

He also says he was not corrupt and was only following common business practices in Cuba. He said he was forced to hand over 1 or 2 per cent on many transactions for what he called "protection money" for Cuban officials for routine things, such as permission to operate a mechanics' shop or to obtain payment for goods sold. But he insists he never paid kickbacks to obtain contracts as the Cubans alleged. He questions why he was targeted.

"If there's a traffic light that's red, everybody passes. Now that I am passing you say, hold on a second, you can't do that," he said.

Before Mr. Yacoubian was arrested at gunpoint at his Havana offices in July, 2011, he had been running his own business in Cuba for 15 years after breaking away from Mr. Tokmakjian and founding his own company, TriStar Caribbean Inc., in the mid-1990s.

During his two and a half years in some of Cuba's most notorious prisons, Mr. Yacoubian says he sank into a depression, attempted a hunger strike and threatened suicide. He says he was arbitrarily moved from cell to cell, which he described as "psychological torture." But early on he says he was treated much better, held in a house in Havana, even playing dominoes with his captors. He was also allowed out to visit his elderly mother, who had flown into Havana, and from whom his imprisonment was kept secret.

He says he told his captors about the practices of other companies and of Cuban officials who received payments, and says he was made to testify against Cuban officials at what he said were closed sessions with military prosecutors.

Toronto-area Conservative MP Peter Kent, who represents the Thornhill, Ont., riding where Mr. Tokmakjian and his family live, visited both men while they were held at La Condesa, a prison an hour outside of Havana. He says their cases and those of the other foreign businessmen is chilling investment in Cuba.

"They have lost a lot of significant investment because, I believe, of the treatment of guys like Cy and [British national] Purvis and others," Mr. Kent said, adding that businessmen from close U.S. allies but not from Venezuela, China or Russia had been targeted. "There, but for the whim of somebody in the Interior Ministry, they would either find themselves in jail one day or their assets seized. ... It doesn't matter how well you've behaved, you're vulnerable."

In Mr. Tokmakjian's case, the Cubans alleged that he paid for vacations in Varadero, a barbecue and a flat-screen TV for Cuban officials, as well as for casino chips for a Cuban delegation on a visit to Niagara Falls, Ont. But Mr. Kent called these "confected charges" and said the Cubans refused to allow various expert witnesses to testify in Mr. Tokmakjian's defence, before sentencing him to 15 years in jail in what his company called a "show trial." Mr. Tokmakjian has denied all of the allegations against him.

Through a lawyer, he declined to be interviewed for this story.

Cuba, by comparison with many of its Latin American neighbours, appears to have less large-scale bribery involving high-ranking officials, says Alexandra Wrage, who runs a nonprofit called Trace International and advises multinationals on anti-corruption. But lower-level officials, she says, are often engaged in more widespread runof-the-mill corruption demanding small payments or perks from foreigners.

"The consequences for corporations are kind of terrifying," Ms. Wrage said. "You have a whole population that has basically been trained into the idea that they need to circumvent the rules to survive."

Still, those risks - and the stories of Mr. Yacoubian and Mr. Tokmakjian - don't appear to be dramatically dampening enthusiasm for investment in Cuba from Canada. In one sign of the demand, national law firm Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP will announce this week the launch of a new Cuba practice to help guide foreign investors there.

Gowlings is working with Gregory Biniowksy, a Canadian lawyer who has lived in Cuba for more than 20 years, who says he has seen a significant boost in interest from Canadian investors since December, with none overconcerned about being thrown in jail: "My experience with Canadian, European and even American investors that are looking at Cuba is that it doesn't seem to be playing much of a factor in their calculations."

Mark Entwistle, a former Canadian ambassador to Cuba who now works as a consultant for investors in the country with Toronto-based Acasta Capital, says it is quite possible to do business in Cuba without paying bribes. He said he could not comment on the specifics of the two cases but said he did not think they were scaring business away: "I don't think there has been any great impact of these specific cases and the media attention they have generated on people interested in exploring the Cuba opportunity."

When asked, even Mr. Yacoubian himself declines to outright warn Canadian businesspeople to avoid Cuba: "The businessmen are smart. There is a risk-reward factor. I am not going to comment. If they want to try it, they can try it. It worked for me for 20 years. And then I lost everything."

Associated Graphic

A view of the Cuban capital Havana, where Sarkis Yacoubian was arrested at his offices at gunpoint in July, 2011.


Sarkis Yacoubian was jailed in Cuba for more than two years on corruption charges, and accused of being a spy.


Despite pledge to change practice, foster children in Manitoba being left vulnerable in 'last resort' hotels
Monday, March 23, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A1

WINNIPEG -- MISSING AND MURDERED Searching for the lost

This story is part of an ongoing Globe and Mail investigation into the hundreds of missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada.

The sound of TV shows and children's high-pitched voices spilled from the Winnipeg hotel rooms into the hallway, where the carpet was littered with paint chips crumbling off beige walls awaiting repair.

The first door off the Best Western Charter House elevator was propped open. Inside, two women were supervising three young foster children. Down the hall, another room housed four foster charges, including a threemonth-old baby.

There were at least 10 foster children - most, if not all, aboriginal - staying at the downtown hotel on March 9. Among them was Tina Fontaine's cousin. Tina, a Sagkeeng First Nation teenager, was found dead in August after going missing from her Best Western placement. Her killing sparked fresh scrutiny of the child-welfare system and reignited calls for a national inquiry into Canada's murdered and missing native women.

The women supervising the foster children at the hotel were Complete Care workers contracted by the Manitoba government, which in November publicly pledged to reduce its reliance on hotels for emergency placements and move away from third-party supervisors.

Since the fall announcement, The Globe and Mail has found the situation appears largely unchanged and has learned of other problems with the emergency child-welfare system: extremely vulnerable foster charges being placed in hotels, including one 20-year-old native woman who said she tried to end her life in a hotel bathroom; potential security concerns (the woman said her violent ex-boyfriend made his way to her hotel floor and knocked on her door); and an overwhelmed after-hours child-welfare phone line that sometimes kicks emergency calls to an answering service.

The 20-year-old woman, who is under an extension of care and says she is cognitively impaired partly because of severe child abuse, told The Globe she had been raped not long before being placed at the Best Western in late January. She had been in and out of hotels at least since October, and by midMarch was living in a foster home outside the city.

A disproportionate number of aboriginal children are in care across Canada, but Manitoba is at the centre: Nearly 90 per cent of the more than 10,000 children in care are native. A Globe investigation in October found some children were living in hotels for weeks at a time and that some third-party workers speak poor English and take little interest in their charges' lives. The government contends there is no quick fix to hotel placements, especially since the need for emergency spaces fluctuates daily and some foster parents prefer to take in only babies.

In an interview at the Best Western earlier this month, Tina's cousin, who will be identified in this story as Kailynn to conceal her identity as a government ward, said she is glad she removed herself from an abusive situation outside the city but is hoping for some stability. "I understand, I guess, why I'm going to be here for a bit," said Kailynn, who was later staying at a shelter in an area of Winnipeg she described as unsafe. "But then I want to do my own thing and move on with my life."

The November announcement highlighted a number of commitments, including the creation of 71 new emergency fosterhome spaces. Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross said the majority of the changes would be "fully implemented" by the spring. She also said the province would hire 210 permanent childcare workers over the next two years. As of mid-March, the government had created 57 new emergency spaces and had hired about a dozen childcare workers.

Ms. Irvin-Ross, who spoke with The Globe twice since February for this story, receives weekly statistics about hotel placements and said she had recently seen a "spike" in the use of rented rooms. She said the government is conducting case reviews to better understand the increase and has put a "rush" on hiring childcare workers. The government has also said it is working to prevent children from coming into care in the first place, by, for example, creating a familyfocused pilot project based at Tina's Sagkeeng First Nation.

"Hotels are a placement of last resort," the minister said. "Of course I want things to happen faster. People are working and are committed to addressing the situation. I have to have patience."

Since assuming her Family Services post in the fall of 2013, the minister has not visited the Best Western floor where CFS charges are placed, nor has she spoken with Complete Care workers. Asked why, she said "partly because of confidentiality" and then added it was a "complicated question."

The B.C. Children and Youth Representative, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, said she finds it concerning that vulnerable women - often native - are being placed in the resource of last resort.

"People will victimize and prey upon vulnerable women and girls," she said, adding Manitoba's Office of the Children's Advocate needs an immediate "reset" and broader investigative and reporting powers. "I'm sure [the minister] is well-intentioned, but does she even know what's going on in her own province?" Manitoba still lacks a centralized registry of available foster beds - it is a work in progress, Ms. Irvin-Ross said - and teens continue to bounce from one emergency placement to another.

Kailynn, for example, spent a couple of days at an emergency placement in Steinbach, Man., about a week at the Best Western, a few days at one youth shelter and, as of March 17, was staying at another shelter.

Because she left home without packing any bags, she found herself wearing the same clothes for at least two weeks. At one point, she said she was frustrated her CFS social worker, whom she hopes will help her figure out how to finish her schooling this year in the city, had not called in days to update her.

The woman who raised Tina, her great-aunt Thelma Favel, fears for Kailynn's safety and is concerned the girl will go off the rails, as Tina did after struggling with her father's death and being placed in CFS care in July.

"Tina was only gone for a month and a half, and she just completely changed," Ms. Favel said, her voice quivering at the news that Tina's cousin had been placed at the Best Western.

"I think being in those places changes the kids somehow, so fast." She said she understands the overhaul announced in the fall will not happen overnight, but five months on, she feels the promises are "just talk."

The Best Western is steps from the Office of the Children's Advocate, which the government recently promised to empower via new legislation. It is also a short walk from Portage Place, a struggling mall frequented by some CFS charges living at the hotel, including Kailynn while she was staying there.

When young women go missing, they are sometimes listed in police media releases as having been last seen at or near the mall - a hangout one police officer patrolling the area in the fall described as a "challenge." One of Tina's cousins, Cheyenne Fontaine, said she was behind the mall a few months ago when a man grabbed her by the arm and unsuccessfully tried to drag her away, saying, "I'll buy you for $30."

Ms. Irvin-Ross said staff are working on developing new emergency placements for atrisk youth and large sibling groups, but noted it is a "balancing act" when it comes to fostercare resources.

If there are eight empty beds designated for sibling groups and then eight people suddenly require emergency placements, for example, she would rather see them placed in foster beds than in hotel rooms.

"When I made that announcement in November, I never said we were going to never use another hotel bed," she said. "I truly wish I could, but I can't."

Associated Graphic

A girl who cannot be identified stands near the Best Western hotel in Winnipeg, where she lives as a foster child.


Cheyenne Fontaine says a man behind the Portage Place mall grabbed her by the arm and tried to drag her away.


One of the best izakayas, but also the most annoying
The new restaurant from Oddseoul's Leemo Han has a fabulous menu. You'll have to put up with frustrating service to enjoy it
Saturday, March 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page M2

Hanmoto is a new izakaya and dive bar on Lakeview Avenue, just north of Dundas West. It is run by the young chef Leemo Han, who is also the chef and coowner of Oddseoul, the KoreanAmerican-themed dive bar a few blocks away on Ossington Avenue. Like Oddseoul, Hanmoto has no public phone number or website, and apart from a mention on its Twitter page (it's @hanmoto_, and note the not-at-all-easy-tomiss underscore at the end there), the place doesn't seem eager to disseminate its business hours to the general public. I've been twice now, both times after 7 p.m. on Thursday nights, and it was open, so you can always go on that.

Hanmoto has no sign, of course.

Until you walk right up close, the windows appear to be covered from the inside with cardboard, as though the building is not, in fact, an izakaya and dive bar, but a squatter camp for photophobics. It cannot be long before the appearance of an enormous spray-painted "Go Away!" sign and a moat kept brimming with flaming dog turds.

Inside, it's warm and loud, bare brick walls and bamboo accents built around an open kitchen.

They play old-school hip hop.

The hip hop is punctuated now and then with odd bits of R&B and reggae. (A standout from my most recent visit: Wayne Wonder's cover of Eternal Flame, the Bangles hit.) The first time I ate at Hanmoto, we sat at the counter, pressed up against a glass prep fridge that was filled in part with sushi knives. We ordered most of the menu: torched salmon aburi, hamachi tartare, the sea urchin and crispy chicken-skin-based "uni bomb," the roasted half salmon face, a chicken sandwich.

As we ordered the sandwich, the server stopped us. "Do you want to order two?" The sandwich, a flaky, deep-fried Jamaican coco bun mounded with Japanese curry chicken and coleslaw, would be sloppy to share, she said. "We don't have knives to, like, cut them in half."

I pointed to the sushi knives not eight inches in front of us.

"But there are knives right there that they could cut it with," I said.

The server smiled and shrugged.

"Yeah, we can't," she said.

The second time I ate at Hanmoto, after a half-hour wait, a server directed my party of four to a two-top that was scarcely big enough for a couple of Asahi bottles and a rice bowl. (We held out for a bigger table.) So you will no doubt read the rest of my thoughts about the place as either a cautionary tale or a qualified rave. Either interpretation would be accurate.

Hanmoto is one of the most thoroughly annoying restaurants I've been to in the past six months. I also can't wait to go back.

Izakaya food is Japanese drinking food: the wild, table-dancing, salt-and-fat-and-shochufuelled bastard child of a culinary tradition that otherwise runs on reverence. Mr. Han grew up in Philadelphia and Toronto on a diet of North American junk food and his mother's Korean samgyetang, the ginseng and chicken soup. His first restaurant job was as a dishwasher at Edo on Eglinton Avenue. He quickly became a cook and worked his way up to sushi chef.

At Oddseoul, which he runs with his brother, Leeto, Mr. Han proved himself a master at repurposing such disparate influences into breathtakingly delicious sops for cheap beer and cocktails. (The Loosey, his Philly-style griddled white-bread hamburger sluiced with kimchi hollandaise, remains one of my favourite sandwiches of all time.)

It's a wonder he didn't branch out into izakaya cooking until now. The cooking at Hanmoto is izakaya cooking, but with an extra dose of American-style swagger and incaution - or at least the carefully cultivated appearance of incaution - that makes it devastating stuff to eat.

Hanmoto's uni bomb is a bowl of sushi rice and four large sea urchin gonads, with salmon roe for juicy pop and shivs of ovencrisped chicken skin for guilty umami snap and salt. If you close your eyes as you eat that chicken skin, you can see the ticking timer on the 27 kilotons of animal fat that will some day explode in your superior vena cava. You get wasabi and chopped scallion to offset the creamy uni, sheets of nori and a squall of tiny roasted arare rice balls - they look like hailstones - for toasty crunch. Mr. Han's unibomb isn't cooking. It's food engineering. If he didn't run restaurants, you begin to realize, the chef would be a star product developer for a villainous multinational food conglomerate.

His katsu bun is a sort of modern Japanese burger made with a slab of pork belly that's cooked in ginger beer for 24 hours so that it takes on the light, flaky texture of good halibut, but then it's rolled in panko and deep-fried hard and dressed with iceberg lettuce and "soy remoulade," which really tastes more like Big Mac sauce with life experience. Mr. Han sells it for $7. It's worth more than that.

A lot of the cooking comes on sizzle plates: the fat tranche of enoki mushrooms that's seared hard under a weight so it tastes as meaty as it does vegetal, nearly as substantial as a hunk of flatiron steak. The nasu dengaku Japanese eggplant dish also comes sizzling.

Chef de cuisine Joe Kim (ex-Electric Mud, Momofuku) deep-fries and then broils it to the texture of molten bone marrow and tops it with miso hollandaise, as well as a tuft of deep-fried angel hair made from beets.

The salmon aburi - aburi is the sushi technique of blowtorching raw fish - would be better if it were made with wild salmon rather than the flabby-tasting farmed stuff, but the torching crisps and sweetens it nicely.

(This is not a wild salmon sort of bar.)

The dyno wings, as they're called, are boneless chicken wings stuffed, dumpling-like, with ground pork, ginger and Portuguese smoked bacon.

They're then deep-fried and slathered with tare, the reduced soy, mirin and roasted chicken bone glaze. If those wings don't drive you to drinking, nothing can.

I ordered the salmon face out of morbid curiosity: I am not a faceeater generally. It might have been the cocktail I'd already drunk (lime-leaf infused vodka, ginger liquor and ginger beer) or the several tallboys of Pabst Blue Ribbon, but I quite enjoyed its jiggly-gangly-custard-like textures.

My dinnermate bogued the eyeball when I looked away.

We had the sweet miso ice cream for dessert; it is dense and rich (it's done kulfi-style with condensed milk, frozen in blocks instead of churned). It comes dusted with nori powder. The flavour and texture are reminiscent of cheese as much as of ice cream.

It's delicious stuff, though far too savoury for more than four bites.

A slap of acidity would make it a knockout dish.

As we were leaving, I asked for the bill and reached for the wad of cash I'd brought; Hanmoto accepts credit cards, the server said, smiling. How ... hospitable.

Whether from the food or drink or the shock, I'm not certain, but I nearly fell out of my chair.

Follow me on Twitter: @cnutsmith



2 Lakeview Ave. (at Dundas Street West), no phone, no web .

Atmosphere: A fun and crowded west-side dive bar with hip hop on the stereo, hidden in plain sight. Friendly but not always helpful service.

Wine and drinks: Big-brand beers, very good cocktails, two cheap sakes, plonk.

Best bets: Pretty much the entire menu.

Prices: Sharing dishes (in a way), from $7 to $12.

NB: No reservations.

Open from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., Monday through Saturday.

A Cheap Eats pick, where you can dine well for under $30, before alcohol, tax and tip.

Associated Graphic

Hanmoto's chef de cuisine Joe Kim previously worked at Electric Mud and Momofuku.


Hanmoto, which has no exterior sign, offers wonderful izakaya dishes including nasu dengaku.

A force of change in postsecondary sector
Colleagues credit him as the administrator who laid the foundation for the University of Toronto's long run of academic wins
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, March 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S12

In the late 1980s, during a meeting of top Ontario postsecondary administrators, the group had to make a decision about an agenda item. In a show-of-hands ballot, George Connell, then-president of the University of Toronto and the chair of the Council of Ontario Universities, cast the only dissenting vote.

"So," he said, glancing around the room with a twinkle in his eye, "I see we're deadlocked."

Many U of T students and faculty saw Dr. Connell as a remote bureaucrat charged with fronting an institution plagued by political conflict and labour strife.

Those who worked closely with him, however, regarded him as an unflappable leader with a rigorously analytical vision of the university's direction, but also a disarming sense of humour as dry as a Prairie summer.

In fact, Dr. Connell learned the art of a well-timed riposte in his mother's car while she accompanied a future prime minister around to campaign stops in Saskatchewan. "George's mother was a close friend of John Diefenbaker, in Prince Albert," recounts Torys LLP chairman Rob Prichard, who succeeded Dr. Connell in Simcoe Hall. "One summer, he was hired as Mr. Diefenbaker's driver. Mr. Diefenbaker, who was a great orator, would practise his lines on George, working from a book of jokes, adapting them to local circumstances and refining his timing. George learned the art of humour well at the foot of a master."

Dr. Connell died on March 13 at the age of 84, after suffering for several years from Alzheimer's disease. He is the third towering U of T figure to have passed in recent months. Businessman Joseph Rotman, the philanthropist whose name adorns the university's business faculty, died in January. John Evans, who headed U of T in the late 1970s and put Dr. Connell on a track to eventually head the institution, succumbed to Parkinson's last month.

Colleagues credit Dr. Connell, a biochemist, as the administrator who turned around the sprawling three-campus institution and laid the foundation for its long run of academic wins. According to the Times Higher Education Supplement, U of T is now the world's 16th-ranked university, placing ahead of globally renowned institutions such as Cornell and the London School of Economics.

"That success can be traced directly to George's brilliant work," says Mr. Prichard, who cites Dr. Connell's 1987 blueprint document, titled Renewal, as a point of inflection.

"George developed new policies on teaching effectiveness, graduate studies, university governance and research, and particularly research through the teaching hospitals," observes law professor emeritus Martin Friedland, author of a sweeping history of U of T. "The value of his contribution cannot be overestimated."

Former McGill University principal Heather Munroe-Blum, an epidemiologist who joined U of T's administration as a dean in 1988, adds that Dr. Connell "went out of his way" to advance women into the upper ranks of the institution. "He had the ability to discover strengths you didn't know you had."

Beyond his work at U of T, Prof. Munroe-Blum points out, Dr. Connell also played a crucial role in designing the Canada Foundation for Innovation, which has funnelled billions of dollars into Canadian postsecondary research since it was established by the Liberals under Jean Chrétien in 1997. "I don't know of any [university] president that I've dealt with who had a better vision of the role of universities and postsecondary education," says retired Supreme Court of Canada justice Frank Iacobucci, who served as provost during Dr. Connell's stint as president.

George Connell was born in Saskatoon on June 20, 1930, and grew up in Prince Albert, Sask.

His parents, Lorne and Mabel, were both dentists and owned a practice that required them to occasionally do house calls for inmates and cloistered nuns, according to one of Dr. Connell's daughters, Caroline. He had an older sister, Mary Louise, who died in 2001.

Mr. Diefenbaker wasn't the only famous figure to cross the landscape of Dr. Connell's childhood. According to family lore, he recalled seeing Grey Owl, the eccentric British expat who took on a First Nations identity, around Prince Albert.

In the early 1940s, the Connells packed George, then in his early teens, onto a train for a threeday trip to Toronto, where he'd been enrolled as a boarder at Upper Canada College. After graduating, he attended U of T, where he earned a PhD in biochemistry. Dr. Connell did postdoctoral research stints in Ottawa and New York before returning to a tenure track position at U of T.

He married Sheila Horan on Dec. 27, 1955, and the couple had four children: James, Caroline, Thomas and Margaret.

Justin Nodwell, chair of U of T's department of biochemistry, explains that Dr. Connell's research focused on applying sophisticated biochemical analysis to blood cells, thus creating a foundation for subsequent discoveries in the causes of blood diseases such as anemia and lymphoma. "It was decades ahead of its time," says Prof. Nodwell, who notes that Dr. Connell was also responsible for establishing biochemistry as an undergraduate field separate from medicine.

During his own term as president, Dr. Evans promoted Dr. Connell, then a vice-dean in the faculty of medicine, into a newly created position - vice-president of research. In 1977, he accepted an appointment as president of the University of Western Ontario. "He took Western into the modern age," says former Ontario premier David Peterson, who was a London MPP at the time.

By most accounts, Dr. Connell thoroughly enjoyed his sevenyear stint at UWO, regularly attending campus football games and advocating that canoeing, a personal passion, be added to the list of intramural sports. While he hadn't been a competitive athlete in university, Dr. Connell skied, played tennis and took whitewater canoeing trips when he wanted to get away from academic pressures.

The U of T presidency - which was offered to him in 1984 after incoming president Donald Forster died days before assuming office - proved to be more taxing. At the time, the university was battling controversies over its investments in companies with ties to the apartheid regime in South Africa. Dr. Connell's attempt to shutter the architecture faculty met with stiff resistance, and he also found himself in tense standoffs with the university's faculty association.

In 1986, says Mr. Prichard, Dr. Connell hunkered down in a year-long effort to diagnose the sources of the university's malaise and come up with solutions. While previous administrations had turned to outside experts for advice on such matters, Dr. Connell took on the task himself. "He never took the short route to getting to a resolution to something," says Prof. Munroe-Blum. Adds Mr. Prichard: "He didn't like the messy compromises of politics. He preferred analysis, data and logical argument."

The Renewal blueprint included ideas that were not widely in circulation at the time: the need for a significant endowment fund, as well as the importance of a process that allowed U of T to benchmark itself against other universities. Dr. Connell also advocated sweeping reforms to U of T's governing council.

After six tough years, Dr. Connell decided not to seek a second term as U of T president, and retired in 1990. But he remained active in public policy issues. After advising the federal government on postsecondary education research policy, he was asked by Ontario associate chief justice Dennis O'Connor for advice on how to tackle the inquiry into the tainted water tragedy in Walkerton, Ont., in 2000.

Ms. Connell recalls that her father, a Star Trek fan who sometimes drew good-humoured comparisons to Mr. Spock, invested all his intellectual energy in such tasks. "He'd say, if you tell somebody you're going to do something, you'd better do it. That stayed with me, and he lived his life that way."

He leaves his wife, Sheila, his four children, and seven grandchildren.

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George Connell is seen in 1985 when he was the University of Toronto president.


After 18 years, Robin Rinaldi and her husband decided to open their marriage. Her book about the process bares all
Saturday, March 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R14

The Wild Oats Project: One Woman's Midlife Quest for Passion at Any Cost By Robin Rinaldi Doubleday Canada, 287 pages, $30

Late in her 18-year-marriage, Robin Rinaldi told her husband she wanted to have kids. When he refused, Rinaldi decided that she had to operate from the premise that each person in the relationship was "in this for our own individual goals, not for anything larger." And so, with that, she rented a studio in downtown San Francisco, in a self-admitted act of rebellion, with the goal of turning it into a bumpin' sex lair - a place where she could bring whomever she wanted, to do whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted. On the weekend, she would move back in with her husband and live a normal married life (which, under the strain of these conditions, must have been more "normal," in quotes).

The book, The Wild Oats Project, comes along in the middle of a cultural conversation on the viability of monogamy. Divorce is old hat; children of divorce are struggling with fidelity in their own way.

On the surface, this book seems like it might be an interesting contribution to a necessary, ongoing discussion. Admittedly, I'm troubled by the degree to which it serves as a sick burn on a husband whom the writer can't bear to leave but also badly wants to hurt. Not only would she have a ton of wild extramarital sex, but she would go one better - she would write about it in detail in a book in whose pages she also details the emotional and physical shortcomings of her relationship with her husband. (I know: Cringe!) Still, did I read the hell out of this book? You bet I did.

The Wild Oats Project manages to combine the two most exhibitionistic genres into one book: memoir and porn (or "erotica," if that is your preferred terminology). Within the first 20 pages, we are deep into ... a description of the hot sex she is having during her first affair. Rinaldi is skilled at writing about sex - she is shameless and honest, and she avoids the pitfall of trying to be coy or adventurous with her language - just straightup dirty talk is her thing. Good thing, too, because there is plenty of it throughout the book.

But there is also the pretense of spiritual edification, because as soon as Rinaldi sets herself free, she falls in with a group called OneTaste, an affiliation of middleclass, well-educated people who practise mindfulness through "Orgasmic Meditation," or OM. This is where the book really goes down a San Francisco rabbit hole - you know, where the white rabbit is packing ben-wa balls. (The sexually delicate may wish to stop reading now, because there's no reviewing this book without getting, uh, physical, as Olivia Newton-John once said.) OneTaste is female-centric, with an emphasis on getting women in touch with their sexuality through a series of workshops and practices that include highly regimented instructions, e.g., for no more than 15 minutes will a man stroke a woman's clitoris on its upper left quadrant, while the woman simply registers the sensations; orgasm is optional, not required. Enlightenment trappings aside, the whole community essentially functions as a dating pool for a certain sort of person, of which Rinaldi is one (mostly - she has her criticisms of it, too).

Rinaldi tries a bunch of other very West Coast-y things in pursuit of ... I'm not exactly sure what. Happiness, fulfilment, a deeper life - the things that most of us want but settle for in smaller quantities than we'd wish for. Rinaldi does not settle. She sways and groans and rages and takes off her pants in various group settings, trying to get in touch with her body, because it is her body, she believes, that can lead the way to her happiness.

Her decent but not-quite-pyrotechnic marriage falls by the wayside as she immerses herself in this quest. She is an operatic, reckless narrator, which makes, of course, for great reading. She's also, as is no doubt obvious by now, pretty exhibitionistic.

The book's back jacket promises a story in the vein of Eat, Pray, Love and Wild. I am always a sucker for these books - always. I'm captivated by stories of endurance. A woman is wrecked, a woman seeks deep within her soul, a woman knows herself better and rises to triumphant new heights from which she can now write the story of her suffering. It's an established storyline. We can relate to the pain and feel less alone (who among us has not hit rock bottom?), but we can also believe that, no matter how crazy or rotten things get, there's a reward on the other side. It's compelling and comforting storytelling that demands nothing of us.

That's okay! We can be lazy, voyeuristic readers from time to time. The problem isn't really the laziness - the problem is when we start to think these books offer a template for how to live (and, yes, love and laugh) bravely. The authors make us feel as if we are privy to their hellish depressions and failures, but we're not.

We are reading a packaged, marketable version of hell that always comes with the promise of an exit.

We are lured into believing that what we are reading is the truth though, because of the surfeit of candid confession - the dirt. Surely that much disclosure equals the truth?

North Americans, but particularly Americans, seem to thrive on disclosure.

Writer Jean-Benoît Nadeau once said that you can tell a French woman wants to be your friend if she talks to you at all: "The French have no compunction about not talking to you." Meanwhile, the stereotype of the Ugly American has them spilling out their divorce, their surgeries and their dietary restrictions before the in-flight peanuts even hit the tray table.

By normalizing the confessional mode, like these books do, like so much of American culture does (reality TV, talk shows etc.), something is gained (less stigma) but something is lost. And that something is the essence of intimacy, which is, by definition, something private. What we are getting between the covers is a performance of intimacy. You know where else we find a performance of intimacy? Pornography. What we have now, with this relentlessly explicit genre of memoir, is a pornography of feelings. (I like to imagine saying this in Werner Herzog's voice.)

Both genres adhere to certain conventions. There's the theme of a powerful yearning and then fulfilment, and though the types of happy endings vary greatly, the climaxes are always experienced selfconsciously, transmuted into something consumable. Something deeply appealing that keeps us coming back for more. And in both cases, it's fine to enjoy it - as long as we recognize it's cleaned up, shaped, edited - mostly fantasy.

Rinaldi tries to keep it real. She is candid, self-critical, skeptical (although at certain points in the book I wished for more of this, specifically when she attends a workshop by self-proclaimed "spiritual teacher" David Deida, who tells her she is "the kind of woman who needs to be slapped" to get her energy moving. But Rinaldi is more a participant than an observer here). She knows she is flawed. Nonetheless, this book relies heavily on the idea of self-discovery, selfexposure and catharsis as a cleansing force. After all her thunderous emoting, she almost dodges a happy ending, but not quite.

As therapist Esther Perel writes in her exploration of monogamy, Mating in Captivity, at a certain point, Americans began to believe that intimacy could be equated with transparency. Couples, goes the untold rule, should conceal nothing from each other - that's what authenticity is.

Perel's revolutionary book suggests that we need to reacquaint ourselves with a bit of autonomy and privacy - only through this sense of separateness can we find the electricity of attraction.

It's a directive that might have stood extremist Rinaldi in good stead - both as a lover and as a writer.

Lisan Jutras is the Globe and Mail's deputy books editor.

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'Serial entrepreneur' challenged convention
As the third-generation overseer of Sprung Instant Structures, he built a reputation on mixing humanity with business
Friday, March 27, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S8

When the engineers at NASA needed a covered parking spot big enough for a space shuttle, they called Calgary. They asked for Philip Sprung.

It was much the same when the cries went out for relief efforts in Rwanda, for food warehousing in the Philippines, for a respite shelter at Ground Zero in New York.

The calls would come and Mr. Sprung would answer them. It was how Sprung Instant Structures made its name internationally and how the company's third-generation overseer built a reputation on mixing humanity with business.

It was a legacy not lost on his five children after Mr. Sprung died at his home on March 3 at the age of 83.

"At his funeral we saw that many of dad's life-long friends were business associates," said Philip Sprung Jr., the company's current president. "Most people try to keep those things separate.

It's like the old cartoon - 'Morning, Sam, morning, Ralph' - where the sheep dog and coyote punch in for work and it was all business. But after work, they could sit down and be friends."

Philip Davis Sprung was born in Calgary in June 13, 1931, to Dorothy (née Davis) and Donald Sprung. The family business had been founded in 1887 by Philip's grandfather as a tent, awning and mattress-making operation. Rather than join the firm when he came of age, Mr. Sprung enrolled in law school at the University of British Columbia. His studies were cut short in second year, however, when his father asked him to quit school and move back home.

"I think he was happy to leave Vancouver and join the company," his son Phil said. "He didn't like the overcast in Vancouver. He talked about it for the rest of his life."

Working initially in the company's apparel division, Mr. Sprung was full of ideas. In the mid-1950s, he turned a trailer into a travelling showroom and drove it up the Alaska highway selling outerwear and Western shirts.

The venture was a huge success.

Mr. Sprung's most important innovation came in 1969, when he designed a fabric structure to cover the swimming pool of one of his employees. Not long after that, when the Calgary Stampede needed strong temporary structures that could withstand the elements, he created some. Soon he found more clients in the oil and gas industry.

"When they [wrote] I Did It My Way, Frank Sinatra was talking about a guy like Phil Sprung," said Mogens Smed, one of the many corporate associates and friends.

"Most business people are boring.

All they want to talk about is money. Phil would talk about anything but that."

Family members insist Mr. Sprung was far from boring. He had an active mind and constantly asked questions even if he already knew the answer. What he wanted was to hear a response that could lead to a better way of doing things.

"He was a contrarian," Mr. Sprung Jr. said. "If you said, 'That's a big, beautiful sky,' he would say, 'That's not blue.' He loved to challenge conventional thinking."

That led to the production of a patented "tension fabric material" that was strong enough to withstand gale-force winds and bitter winter conditions. Since 1980, Sprung structures have been seen at catastrophes such as Hurricane Katrina and the flooding of High River, Alta.

Those who occupied the 31,000square-foot tent that he provided next to the smouldering remains of the World Trade Center called it the Taj Mahal. For his humanitarian efforts, Mr. Sprung was honoured by the AmeriCares Foundation and was presented with an award from former U.S. president George H. W. Bush.

Assisting NASA was an entirely different venture, one born of prevention. Space agency officials wanted a structure 51 metres long, 76 metres wide and more than 18 metres high. It was to be a place big enough to house a space shuttle so engineers could open the cargo bay doors and work without being watched.

NASA asked companies from around the world to submit their best pitch. The space agency picked Mr. Sprung's.

"Dad was very proud of being asked [to aid NASA]," Mr. Sprung Jr. said. "They wanted a structure that was almost 180-feet wide [with no middle support running floor to ceiling]. They didn't want any Russian eyes to see what was going on."

Not all of his projects worked as planned, though. He designed a hydroponic greenhouse in Calgary that he claimed could produce cucumbers without soil. When the project failed in 1987, it was blamed on where the greenhouse had been built - smack dab on the site of an old oil refinery that was leaking fumes through the soil.

Undaunted, Mr. Sprung took his greenhouse to Newfoundland, where he was welcomed by Premier Brian Peckford. Once again, the project failed, only this time it cost Newfoundland taxpayers close to $20-million. CBC dubbed the calamity "Premier Peckford's pickled palace."

"He was a serial entrepreneur," Mr. Smed said of Mr. Sprung. "Did people call him crazy? That might have been a word that came up a few times. It never bothered him, though."

Mr. Sprung's quirky ways were evident in his personal life, too.

He wanted his family to be close, so he purchased a large chunk of land south of Okotoks, Alta., then divvied it up among his children, who all built houses on it.

On his portion, he had a designer draw up a 12-sided house with 12 vaulted peaks, a lot of windows and a swimming pool.

If that didn't grab a visitor's attention, there were always the 100-plus animals roaming about the fenced-in property.

Mr. Sprung, it seemed, had a Noah complex. At various times, his game preserve was alive with dogs, goats, peacocks, racoons, deer, palomino horses, a halfzebra, half-pony known as a zony, an African water buffalo, more dogs, a pair of Japanese snow monkeys and a moose named Murray, until it gave birth to a calf. Then there was Mary the moose.

There were also two macaque monkeys known as Tarzan and Jane. They lived outside year round. One of their ways to stay warm was to climb onto the back of a horse and snuggle down. One horse was so startled at having a monkey on its back it began bucking, with the now-startled macaque hanging on for its life.

"I could not believe it when I saw that," said Mr. Sprung Jr., who once talked his dad out of buying a giraffe named Fred. "I said, 'How are we going to bring the giraffe home? It won't fit under the highway overpass.' " In 2001, Alberta Fish and Wildlife officers heard of the exotic animals on the Sprung property and seized many of them. Mr. Sprung was charged with unlawfully possessing wildlife. A judge ruled that the warrants used by wildlife officers were invalid and dismissed the charges. Mr. Sprung then sued the province for precisely $574,178.99.

That story and others were retold when family and close friends gathered this month to reflect on the man who provided shelter to those who needed it.

As the funeral procession left the Sprung acreage, there was a moment that surprised those who witnessed it. All the horses that normally galloped around the property in four separate groups had come together on the road leading out to the highway.

As the cars approached, the horses slowly moved aside.

"It was as if they were paying tribute," Mr. Sprung Jr. said. "Dad would have loved that."

Philip Sprung leaves his partner, Aline Peterson; five children, Kerri, Dawn, Philip, Tim and Brenda; 11 grandchildren; and his sister, Sharon. He was predeceased by his first wife, Beverly, and second wife, Sylvia.

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Philip Sprung was honoured by the AmeriCares Foundation for his humanitarian efforts.


Philip Sprung stands with Newfoundland Enviroponics general manager Dawn Sprung in the company's giant greenhouse installation at Mount Pearl, just outside of St. John's, in 1988.


Building the future
In architecture and design, tremendous solutions for the future can be found in history and the project's specific place - in other words, what's already there. That's one of the compelling themes that emerged from this year's TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) Conference in Vancouver last week. Marsha Lederman outlines three stand-out projects
Thursday, March 26, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L3

Ibuku: building with bamboo

Elora Hardy's groundbreaking designs are as outside the box as they come: She tries to reimagine homes, free from the shackles of tradition. For instance, why does a door have to be rectangular?

Why can't it be round?

It helps that Hardy is building them out of bamboo. For the past five years, her startup Ibuku has built more than 50 unique bamboo structures, most of them in Bali, where she lives (in a little bamboo pod that's "literally a big basket," she told me; her business cards are also made of bamboo). Many are private, luxurious homes in a community known as Green Village.

They are aesthetic knockouts, such as a spectacular six-level "jungle fantasy escape" with a dramatic tunnel-bridge entry, a fourth-floor living room that overlooks the valley, big curving roofs to catch the breeze. Another client wanted a TV in the living room, but boxing off part of the open space with walls didn't feel right, so Ibuku created a giant woven TV pod. The bamboo houses - mostly open-air but with some rooms enclosed to keep out bugs and keep in air conditioning - are filled with bespoke furniture, and they're breathtaking.

Hardy, who is Pierre Berton's granddaughter and was named after Ontario's Elora Gorge, was born in Toronto but moved to Bali when she was five months old and stayed until she was 14.

After earning a degree in fine arts and working in the fashion industry in New York (Donna Karan) for five years, she returned to Bali, where her father was constructing a multistructure school out of bamboo. This led to the birth of Ibuku, where she is creative director.

"When I first saw these structures under construction ... I just thought this makes perfect sense.

It is growing all around us, it's strong, it's elegant, it's earthquake-resistant," Hardy, who is not a trained architect herself, said in her TED talk. "Why hasn't this happened sooner and what can we do with it next?" They are also sustainable: The type of bamboo Ibuku uses has a three-year growth cycle. "That shoot, we watched it grow a metre in three days last week," she told the TED audience. It has the tensile strength of steel and the compressive strength of concrete, she explained. But because it's hollow, it's lightweight. It can be carried manually.

Until recently, it was almost impossible to reliably protect bamboo from insects, but if treated with borax, a natural salt, it turns into a viable building material, she said. But it's hard to persuade people that it is not just possible as a building material - but also something worth aspiring to.

"Most people in Asia think you can't be poor enough ... to actually want to live in a bamboo house," Hardy said. "And so we thought: What will it take to change their minds?"

Dorchester Projects: Reanimating a rundown neighbourhood

It was a water problem in the abandoned building next door that led to a sea change in artist Theaster Gates's Chicago neighbourhood. Water was pooling in the basement and Gates, who began his art career as a potter, was worried. He got the utility to turn off the water and, soon afterward, borrowed money to buy the building - for about $18,000 (it was the beginning of the subprime-mortgage-fuelled economic collapse).

He hosted artists and architects, asking them to think about possibilities. He gutted the place, moved in an archive of glass slides, held exhibitions, dinners.

He called it the Archive House, and it became a magnet for cultural types. "I thought maybe this could be something and maybe this is a good alternative to abandonment," he said in an interview.

Gates has now bought about 60 units in a four-block radius and rehabilitated them into creative spaces or housing for artists.

"What do you do in neighbourhoods when ain't nobody interested in living there? That the people who have the means to leave have already left. What do we do with these abandoned buildings? And so I was trying to wake them up using culture," he said in a standing ovation-receiving talk.

Keeping the bones of the amazing building stock("I believe that beauty is a basic service," he says), Gates acquired more sites to create beautiful, functional cultural spaces. The former crack house across the street became Black Cinema House (quickly outgrowing the space, it has moved to a former AnheuserBusch distribution facility).

Gates's original home, a former candy store, is now the Listening House, home to an old record store's inventory and part of the archive of the Johnson Publishing Co. (publishers of Ebony and Jet magazines). A dilapidated bank building is being turned into a large multidisciplinary cultural centre.

He now dreams of connecting these buildings with a green belt - what he calls a miniature Versailles. Grand Crossing, a neighbourhood that had seen better days, is being transformed - it's less violent and more beautiful, Gates says. Other cities are taking note of Dorchester Projects: Gary, Ind.; Akron, Ohio; Detroit.

"We're starting to give advice around the country on how to start with what you got. How to start with the things that are in front of you, how to make something out of nothing, how to reshape your world at a wheel, or at your block, or the scale of the city."

The future of architecture is here (wherever 'here' is)

"The future of architecture is a frenetic whirlwind of experimentation and a reevaluation of longaccepted habits," writes Marc Kushner in the introduction to his new book The Future of Architecture in 100 Buildings.

And it is being shaped, more than ever, by non-architects who use, rather than design, these structures. Our smartphones have turned us all into architectural photographers, and social media means we have all become part of the conversation and feel comfortable having an opinion.

"We have started 'liking' and hating places out loud," he writes.

The architectural revolution is upon us.

Kushner, co-founder of the firm Hollwich Kushner and chief executive of, told a TED audience last week that his field is growing more diverse - so Vancouver architecture will look different from what you will see, say, in Toronto, as each place takes advantage of local resources (so, yes, bamboo buildings in Bali) and specific local needs.

Consider New York, where Kushner is based. One project from his book that he highlighted during the TED lunch was not a building, but a site-specific, floating filtering swimming pool designed for the city's rivers.

The proposal: Create a giant, Brita-esque pool that floats in the river and is tethered to the riverbed. It filters up to half a million gallons of river water each day, which floats in through the walls of the pool - allowing people to swim in clean river water. The plus-shaped design creates separate areas: People can do laps, play sports, hang out or swim in a children's area.

Dreamed up after a particularly hot New York summer by a group of young architects, + Pool is still just a proposal, but one that has raised more than $300,000 (U.S.) in two Kickstarter campaigns. The team is continuing to work on its development.

"It creates a way for people to actually interact with the rivers," Kushner said. "Why are we not swimming in our rivers any more? So they started asking those questions. And then to start thinking: I don't need a client. I don't need to wait for the mayor to get behind this. These guys went to Kickstarter ... and they started a whole movement.

And it's going to happen."

Associated Graphic

Above: Ibuku has built more than 50 bamboo structures, most of them in Bali. Left: Artist Theaster Gates gutted an abandoned building in Chicago to build Archive House, a magnet for cultural types. Bottom left: The proposed + Pool has raised more than $300,000 (U.S.) in two Kickstarter campaigns to build a floating pool in New York that filtrates river water for people to swim in.


One woman's bucket list of love and sex
'Choices often get messy,' Robin Rinaldi says of her year of 12 lovers - and a husband - documented in The Wild Oats Project
Friday, March 20, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L4

Robin Rinaldi finally felt like a "satisfied wife": Two lovers and a third new date were texting her in the bathroom of an upscale restaurant, while her husband paid their $400 bill at the table.

Rinaldi shares the anecdote in her somewhat maddening new memoir The Wild Oats Project: One Woman's Midlife Quest for Passion at Any Cost, which traces her oneyear experiment trying out an open marriage. After her husband Scott gets a vasectomy, Rinaldi uses it as a bargaining chip to take on sexual partners outside their relationship: "I can't go to my grave a quiet, childless wife with no adventures" is her rationale.

In 2008, Rinaldi was a 44-yearold magazine editor in swinginghappy San Francisco. She posted a personal ad on (the grandpa of Tinder) "seeking single men age 35-50 to help me explore my sexuality." Between Mondays and Fridays, she sequestered herself in a studio apartment and later at an "urban commune" called OneTaste, that hosts hands-on orgasm meditation sessions in which "research partners" are tasked with "quietly stroking a woman's clitoris for 15 minutes."

Over the course of the year, Rinaldi took 12 lovers, returning to her husband on weekends so they could make dinner and do brunch. Husband and wife set just three rules for their open relationship: No unsafe sex, no serious involvements and no sleeping with mutual friends.

They promptly broke all the rules, eventually divorcing after she shacked up with one of her paramours.

Critics have not been kind, dissing Rinaldi's self-empowerment tour as an exercise in narcissism.

Meanwhile, most of the women the author encounters tell her she's "brave." Rinaldi does show glimmers of self-awareness, solidly mining the very real competing desires that marrieds have for security versus novelty ("I don't think you should stay in a relationship that's not working any more because of some dictum you have about monogamy," she says flatly).

It's too bad such plain talk gets lost in a book plagued by insufferable New Agey-isms (Exhibit A: "My clitoris ... dealt solely in truth"). The Globe spoke with Rinaldi from Los Angeles.

How did you and your husband hammer out the logistics of an open marriage?

When you've been with someone for a long time monogamously it's very scary to talk about opening that up. We were trying to think of a way so that we wouldn't be breaking up because we still wanted to spend time together. We decided on part-time away and part-time together, on the weekends. That way we could have a little space to experiment but also keep our marriage going.

If you're leaving or cheating, you're letting go of a lot of security.

We constructed this balance of a secure, domestic life on the weekends and this freer, more adventurous life during the week. For a while, we both had our cake and ate it too. It's hard to do and usually you have to pay for it. In the end, of course, we did.

In a relatively happy marriage, why did you seek out other sexual partners?

I hadn't sowed enough oats before I married - no one's fault but mine. And even though my marriage wasn't sexless, I was wanting a different kind of sexual experience in my 40s - more engaged, naughtier and forceful.

Loving, married sex is one avenue to a certain essential female experience of feeling safe, contained and tender. But at that point I was seeking a more primal sense of femaleness, which I found very difficult to get within the marriage.

Why did the chemistry with your husband slump further with this freer setup?

At first, it improved. During and after an affair, passion can go up in marital sex because you've created some distance. You're suddenly seeing your spouse from a little further back, the way you used to see him when you didn't know him as well. At first that happened for us.

But when you open it up you're also experiencing lots of other people. You see parts of yourself that perhaps weren't being expressed in the marriage, parts that are much easier to express with other people or just even on your own. What's hard is to put those new versions of yourself back into the marriage as it was.

The marriage really then has to change.

There are also threats from the outside, even once you close the marriage back up. My husband stayed friends with a woman he had been seeing and I stayed friends with some of the men I had met. That put chinks in the marriage. And I reconnected with one of those men and that ended the marriage. This is why most people in decent marriages (or even not-so-decent marriages), if they want to stay married, they don't do this for good reason.

What conditions make an open relationship work over the long haul?

They're very rare. Most people are not built for it. I wasn't built for it on any long-term basis. From what I've seen in San Francisco, it seemed that the couples who start off that way tend to do better. They're people who aren't big believers in monogamy to begin with. Eventually they may move to monogamy, but they just have much looser parameters around sex. The people who tend not to do fine are people exactly like Scott and me, who were monogamous and conventional for a very long time and then opened it up. That tends to be too much.

What reaction have you gotten for upending your marriage this way, as a wife?

I've been called self-absorbed, narcissistic, selfish. To an extent, that is true. This is a messy, reallife story of a very imperfect woman who was indulging her selfishness. I don't think those kinds of women are likable, as fictional characters and certainly not as real women.

How do you think this book would be received if it were written by a man in midlife crisis?

I think there would have been an equal amount of scorn but of a different variety - people ridiculing it a bit and calling it sexist.

When a woman does it the tone of the feedback takes on some shaming.

If you're writing openly about midlife crisis, you're going to get emotional knee-jerk reactions from people who are having their buttons pushed. That's not why I wrote this. It's not just some romp where I'm telling everyone to come along and look at my sexy midlife crisis. There's not just sexuality and rebelliousness in there, there's also panic, guilt, grief and loss.

People write off midlife crisis because it's a cliché but it's a cliché because it's real. The thing that's catalyzing it is very serious: Mortality. When you look at where you want to be at the end, your soul panics. Choices often get messy, destroying what you've built up until that point in your life so that you can reinvent.

Are there things you would have done differently?

If I could go back, I wouldn't change the open marriage, but I would not cheat and I would not lie. I mean it's a no-brainer, isn't it? Don't cheat and don't lie? I learned that lesson the messy way, but now I've learned it.

I wasn't 100-per-cent clear on my rationale for doing things and in part I'm still not. If I said I understood it completely or had it all wrapped up in a pretty bow with life lessons and happy endings, I'd be lying. Life and marriage and desire are messy.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Associated Graphic

Robin Rinaldi says her open marriage was a whirlwind that included 'panic, guilt, grief and loss' as well as passion and adventure.

Smooth as a grand touring sedan on the highway, the Subaru also climbs gravel heaps and soars through a blizzard
Thursday, March 19, 2015 – Print Edition, Page D1

CENTRALIA, PA. -- As I headed south through the wooded hills and blackened slag heaps of Appalachia in the new Subaru Outback 3.6R, my mind turned to the business of marketing, and the gambits used to stoke the fires of consumer demand.

What makes us buy a car - or anything else? By way of case studies, consider the television ad for an app called Game of War: Fire Age. The app lets you pretend you're Alexander the Great on your iPhone, assembling armies, constructing siege engines and laying waste to competing civilizations.

But the main character in the ad is Kate Upton, a blonde model who rose to fame on the cover of Sports Illustrated's swimsuit edition. You might wonder exactly what Ms. Upton has to do with military conquest, but marketing isn't about logic - it's about getting attention and triggering desire. Cue Ms. Upton: sex sells.

But then we come to Subaru, a company that eschews the swimsuit model and the low-cut top in favour of practicality, solid engineering and a killer allwheel-drive system. The Outback's place in the consumer ecosystem is not based on sex.

After logging more than 1,000 kilometres on the road, I was deeply impressed with the Outback's capabilities.

It had carried me down the interstate with the competence and smoothness of a great touring sedan. It had also clawed its way up the side of a gravel heap, followed a Jeep down an unplowed back road and brought me safely through an unexpected blizzard.

For decades, Subarus were seen as cult cars. They were the chosen ride of back-to-the-landers and New Englanders with long, frozen driveways. BMW owners bought their cars so everyone would look at them when they rolled up at the velvet rope. Subaru owners bought theirs so they could plow through snow banks - it was hard to look cool in a two-ton Legacy wagon.

But cult-car status can be both a blessing and a curse. Like Tilley sunhats or the walking sticks favoured by middle-aged hikers, Subarus may be excellent products, but you won't catch Kim Kardashian in one.

My time in the Outback made me realize how misguided that mindset really is. The Outback is a truly excellent car. One of its standout features, the advanced all-wheel-drive system, routes power through a sophisticated set of electronically controlled differentials to maximize traction. When the alley behind our house got snowed in, the Outback churned through the drifts without missing a beat. My own car would have been stuck.

Casting around for a destination that would highlight the Outback's capabilities, I decided on Centralia, a Pennsylvania mining town abandoned after its coal mine caught fire. The fire started in 1962, and it's still burning today.

Driving south through the hills of New York, the Outback proved to be a fast, smooth highway cruiser. I set the cruise control, tuned on the satellite radio and relaxed. (The Outback is available with a choice of engines - a 2.5-litre four, or a 3.6-litre six.

Mine had the larger engine, which I liked for its smooth, effortless thrust.)

In Centralia, I found a scene that looked like an apocalypse film: deserted houses, bare trees, abandoned roads split asunder by the infernal forces burning away beneath them. Disneyland, this wasn't. And yet, I met half a dozen people who had come to see Centralia.

"It's like The Walking Dead," said a tourist from Baton Rouge, La. "I just wanted to check it out."

Nearby, I met a young local named Mike who was loading coal into his grandfather's basement from an old pickup truck. I asked him why anyone would stay in Centralia: "They were born here, and this is where they want to die, too," he replied. "Just stubborn, I guess."

Years ago, the mine fire sent clouds of coal smoke through Centralia, turning it into a giant barbecue pit. Today, you can still smell the fire, but you have to look hard to find it. I clicked the Subaru into X-Mode, which increases traction, and headed into the woods. I eventually found a collection of low, blackened hills with thin streams of smoke rising above them.

The only way up was a rutted dirt track that looked like the place for a Jeep Wrangler, not a passenger car. But the Subaru clawed its way to the top without breaking a sweat, smoothly transferring power to whichever wheel had traction. I parked at the top and noticed large patches where the snow had melted. I got out and put my palm on the ground - it felt like a warm stovetop. The fire was still burning deep underground.

According to locals, the Centralia fire started when someone decided to burn trash next to an open coal vein known as a "stripper hole." Another version of the legend attributes the fire to a carelessly discarded cigarette butt. Whether the fire will ever go out is anyone's guess.

The Outback had given me a unique experience, and the test wasn't over yet. In the farm country of western New York State, snow started to fall. Before long, it was a full-on blizzard.

The Outback had good winter tires, and the all-wheel drive system was flawless, pulling up the icy hills with zero wheel spin.

The ABS system was also superb, giving me perfect braking as I headed down a steep, winding hill. Two cars were in the ditch, but mine wouldn't be joining them.

Back in Toronto, I've been using the Outback for day-to-day errands and measuring it up for some of my other missions - like hauling mountain bikes to Durham Forest, and towing a glider trailer. (It's ideal for both, with a built-in roof rack, and a tow capacity of 1360 kilograms.)

This is a car you need time to appreciate. Subaru cultists, of course, don't need convincing - they already know the value of a useful, everyday car with advanced all-wheel drive and a great defroster system. But for the buyer who chooses a car based on tire kicking and a fairweather test drive, these qualities are hard to convey.

The Outback is part of a vehicle category aimed at discriminating buyers who want a Swiss Army knife of a car that's adept in a wide variety of situations.

Competitors include the Audi A4 Allroad and the Volvo XC60.

These are cars that can haul a kayak and navigate a switchback dirt road, but they're also good for highway trips and grocery runs. So why don't more people buy cars like these? Mass marketing is based on catering to the unsubtle desires of the crowd - and they want SUVs.

Selling sophisticated technology is tougher. Convincing someone to buy your car because it has a superior all-wheel-drive system is like marrying off a brilliant but faintly unattractive child - its qualities are revealed over the course of time, when the Pulitzer Prize is won, the snowstorm conquered and the slag heap climbed. But in the showroom and the singles bar, it is Kate Upton in the warrior goddess gown that gets immediate attention.

Never mind: A car like the Subaru Outback is the kind you marry.

Associated Graphic

Once burdened with cult-car status, the Subaru Outback demonstrated its versatility on a journey to an apocalyptic mining town.


Buyers in the Outback's class seek a car able to haul a kayak to the river and a family to Sunday dinner with equal aplomb.


A surprise blizzard tested the Outback's reputation as an adept handler of snow.


Will the fake Sean Monahan please stand up?
Spoof Twitter account is nearly twice as popular as his real one, but 'boring' sophomore Flame is much favourited by his teammates
Saturday, March 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S2


The creative force behind the fake Sean Monahan Twitter account (Boring Sean Monahan) remains an unsolved mystery in the Calgary Flames dressing room, though the suspect list has generally been narrowed down to two possible candidates, both of them long gone from the team.

It might have been defenceman Chris Butler, now with the St. Louis Blues, because of his quiet, sneaky sense of humour. Brian McGrattan, now in the minors, is the other option, a loud and boisterous dressing-room presence who took Monahan under his wing last year, when the latter was still an NHL rookie.

Whoever created - and still maintains - the account (@boringmonahan) follows just one player (McGrattan), which is either a too-obvious clue or a clever red herring.

Defenceman Dennis Wideman thinks it's the latter.

"That's someone real smart, trying to set Grats up," said Wideman, who laughingly pointed out that McGrattan's over-the-top sense of humour is at odds with the dry wit on display in the account, which he, like a lot of Flames players, follows.

When it was launched in October of 2013 to parody Monahan's careful and benign interview answers, the account went viral. It boasts more than 50,000 followers, including many from the hockey world's Twitterati elite: From Roberto Luongo (@strombone1) and Connor McDavid (@cmcdavid97) to future teammate Sam Bennett (@SBennett93).

The ersatz account has almost twice as many followers as his own verified Twitter account (@Monahan20) and works because it so tidily mimics Monahan's solemn public nature - which teammates insist is wildly at odds with the fun-loving guy they've come to know in just under two NHL seasons.

You can understand why the public might be confused because Monahan's real-life answers don't vary all that much from the deadpan lines you read in the fake Twitter account.

Examples: Fake Sean: "Today's game starts at 2 pm. Most of our other games start at night but this one starts early."

Real Sean: "Every game is a big game and I treat every game the same way."

Fake Sean: "I called Johnny Gaudreau to see if he wanted to come over and have some toast this morning but he said he was sleeping in today."

Real Sean: "He [Gaudreau] is a special player, he's doing a great job, he's stepping up, he's taking charge. We're doing a good job as a line, and that's why everybody's having some individual success."

Fake Sean: "A reporter asked me why we are winning so many games this year and I said we are scoring more goals than the other team."

Real Sean: "The scoring opportunities I'm getting, I need to get the job done and put the puck in the net and right now it's happening."

You get the picture. Real Sean is a sober, mature-beyond-his-years 20-year-old, who takes his craft seriously and doesn't much care for social media, seeing it as part of the job of a modern-day athlete, but not a forum he's embraced.

"He's just quiet," Wideman explained. "He's a guy you're never going to figure out. He's talking more than he did last year, obviously, and he's a pretty witty, funny guy. It's just when he does joke around, it's usually just to one or two guys. He's not going to throw it out to the masses."

"Away from the rink, he's a very funny guy," confirmed teammate Lance Bouma, who is Monahan's roommate on the road. "He makes me laugh all the time. For such a good hockey player, he doesn't get too high, or too low.

He just does his thing and plays hard all the time. He's really mature for his age."

Organizationally, the only thing that really matters to the Flames is Monahan's production on the ice, which has been stellar compared with other members of his 2013 draft class.

Nathan MacKinnon won the Calder Trophy last year as the NHL's rookie of the year after going first overall in the same draft in which Calgary selected Monahan sixth, but has struggled for consistency in his sophomore season and is now injured and out of the Colorado Avalanche lineup. The four other players selected ahead of Monahan (Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Drouin, Seth Jones and Elias Lindholm) have all had their share of down moments in their second seasons, a typical development for many young players, even the most talented and highly recruited.

But Monahan, except for a brief scoring slump early, has been remarkably consistent.

He has 29 goals, 56 points, and his line, with Jiri Hudler and Gaudreau, has been the offensive catalyst behind the Flames' playoff push. Going into Friday's game against the Wild in Minnesota, they had accumulated 46 points in March, more than any other NHL line.

Monahan is kind of a prototype.

NHL scouts usually want all the things that Monahan brings - good size (6-foot-2, 198 pounds), good hands and good instincts.

The problem with prototypes is often the physical attributes don't necessarily translate into a complete on-ice package. With Monahan, they do.

"He's pretty mature for his age and he's responsible out there," defenceman T.J. Brodie said. "You can see it in his game - he's so patient. As a defenceman, you know he's going to be back and when he's the low guy, he's going to be in the right spot. He doesn't seem to get too excited over very much. If you're a guy that can also score at the same time, to be able to do both those things, that's big."

Monahan is the first big centre that the Flames have developed internally since the Hall of Famer Joe Nieuwendyk. As did Nieuwendyk, Monahan played a lot of lacrosse growing up, a skill set he believes translates well into hockey.

"Rolling off checks in lacrosse and hand-to-eye co-ordination and stuff like that, it all relates," Monahan said.

Physically, the comparisons aren't there, but in terms of approach and preparation, Flames coach Bob Hartley sees many similarities between Monahan and Hall of Famer Joe Sakic, whom he coached in Colorado.

For much of his career, Sakic's nickname was Quoteless Joe because he didn't say much either, but did his talking on the ice.

"Mony never gets too high, never gets too low," Hartley said. "He talks rarely, but when he does, there's volume to it."

Nor does Monahan accept the notion that ups-and-downs are a normal part of the development of a young player.

"I had a year of experience last year," Monahan said. "You should be better in your second year. I get more opportunity this year and I'm confident in my game right now, so I think that's a big part of playing well."

As for the identity of the player or person behind his Twitter parody account, Monahan says he tried to figure it out last year, but no longer bothers, and "doesn't really care about it, to be honest."

"Obviously, when it first came out, everybody thought it was somebody in the room, but nobody came forward and nobody's figured out who it is," Bouma said. "We give him a hard time about it sometimes. We know it's not him obviously, but if you look at some of the tweets, it's pretty funny, pretty clever."

Follow me on Twitter: @eduhatschek

Associated Graphic

Steady sophomore Sean Monahan of the Flames wins a faceoff against Brandon Sutter of the Penguins in December, 2014.


Coach much more than Hamburglar helper
Cameron has gone with younger skaters to implement a system that suddenly has the Sens among league leaders in puck possession
Monday, March 23, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S2


They aren't throwing hamburgers for the coach, even if he likely deserves the most credit for the Ottawa Senators unlikely rise. What Dave Cameron has done in only 44 games is worthy of considerable praise - and perhaps even a Jack Adams Award nomination.

Ottawa's run hasn't been only about goaltending, even if Andrew (The Hamburglar) Hammond's remarkable story is what's leading the headlines.

It has been about Cameron systematically turning over ice time and responsibility to younger, skilled players and watching them flourish.

At this point, with Chris Neil, Chris Phillips and Clarke MacArthur out of the lineup, the Sens have by far the youngest team pushing for a playoff spot (average age 25.9).

The biggest beneficiaries of the coaching change back in December, meanwhile, have been Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, Mika Zibanejad, Curtis Lazar, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Patrick Wiercioch - all of whom fall in the 25-and-under category. And Phillips and David Legwand, the Senators' two greybeards, are down the most in ice time.

The team's resulting improvement in key areas such as puck possession - from bottom 10 under Paul MacLean to top 10 under Cameron - has fuelled the rise, even if didn't happen overnight.

In fact, on Feb. 8, two months after the coaching change, the Sens still had the league's fifth fewest points and were trailing even the Toronto Maple Leafs, who they beat 5-3 on Saturday.

Since that point, they're 16-2-2 and have gained an incredible 13 points on the Bruins in the race for the final playoff spot in the East. (Ottawa is also now 23 points clear of the Leafs.)

Cameron was promoted to the Sens job with little fanfare. He had ties to ownership, which had made him a likely successor.

When he arrived, the season had appeared lost, especially with Ottawa icing a team near the NHL's salary floor.

Cameron's no-nonsense approach had been successful at the junior level, but that doesn't always translate. And, as the Leafs have shown, a mid-season transition to a vastly different system can be more unsettling than anything. That Cameron found a way to make it work is a positive sign, as even when Hammond falls off - and he will - there's enough good here to keep them in the race.

"We're not in the playoffs yet," Cameron said on the weekend.

"Right? Yeah we're on a good run ... but we're still on the outside.

So let's not get ahead of ourselves yet here."

The truth is, even if Ottawa doesn't make it, this stretch of games changes the long-term outlook for the franchise. This is obviously now a team filled with youth and it's pointed in the right direction, with many unheralded prospects taking a surprise step forward.

They may not keep winning, and the hamburgers may not keep raining down, but they've accomplished something more.

And they've got what appears to be a great coach in charge.


The most likely first-round playoff matchups: There are only 148 games remaining in the NHL's regular season - or 12 per cent of the schedule - and the likely playoff matchups are beginning to take shape. Here are those with the greatest chance of occurring.

1. Islanders vs. Penguins A rematch of one of the best series of the 2013 playoffs. This time, the Islanders are far from a plucky eighth seed after an outstanding, breakthrough year. This likely won't be a goaltenders' duel, and there's enough star power between Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and John Tavares to draw leaguewide attention.

It'll be fun hockey.

Chance of happening: Nearly 80 per cent

2. Canucks vs. Flames Here's one rivalry that could well be rekindled by the NHL's new division-heavy playoff system. Calgary hasn't even made the postseason since 2009 and it will be hindered by not having captain Mark Giordano from the start. Vancouver, meanwhile, was 10-5-1 in the 16 games heading into Sunday against Arizona, and it has been getting great goaltending from Eddie Lack. Chance of happening: More than 60 per cent

3. Lightning vs. Red Wings The storyline here would be obvious: Tampa GM Steve Yzerman against the franchise that he captained to so much playoff success over a long, decorated career. With both franchises on the upswing and in the same division, this is one meeting that will happen very soon even if it doesn't this year.

Chance of happening: Nearly 60 per cent

4. Nashville vs. Chicago Another terrific division battle: The Blackhawks will be minus Patrick Kane, but it's Nashville that has been struggling down the stretch, with an ugly 4-9-2 record before they beat hapless Buffalo on Saturday. The Preds (and everyone in the Central Division) are in a pick-your-poison situation regarding who they'd like to face: If it's not Chicago, St. Louis and Minnesota are hardly downgrades.

Chance of happening: Nearly 50 per cent 5. Ducks vs. Wild Forget that awful, low-scoring 2003 series between these two teams in the conference finals.

This would be a terrific battle between a big, veteran Ducks team and the upstart Wild, who have been the NHL's hottest team the past few months. Anaheim is very likely to get Minnesota or Winnipeg in Round 1, which isn't much of a reward for having the best record in the West. An upset is highly possible.

Chance of happening: More than 40 per cent


Playoff hopes that are almost toast

1. Colorado.

It's remarkable Patrick Roy's Avs are even here at all. The team picked to regress more than any other given their ugly analytics, Colorado went from 112 points a year ago to starting this season with just seven regulation or overtime wins in their first 31 games. Of late, however, the Avs have been good: 11-4-1 heading into Monday's must-win game in Calgary. The problem? The playoff pace for eighth in the West is currently 96 points; Colorado will have to go 9-2-0 the rest of the way to get there.

Chance of making playoffs: 3 to 5 per cent.

2. Florida The Panthers look very much alive in the battle with Boston and Ottawa in the East. They trail both by only a few points and have three of their remaining nine games against them. But Florida has an ugly goal differential and only 25 regulation or overtime wins - only two more than the lowly Leafs - meaning they will not have the top tiebreaker. It's all on Roberto Luongo to get them in, against those odds.

Chance of making playoffs: 3 to 8 per cent.

3. San Jose The Sharks remain in a full-on tailspin, continuing to lose big game after big game. Their only win last week was against Toronto. A shutout loss two nights later in Montreal dropped San Jose to 8-12-2 in their past 22 games.

They can only afford, at most, another two regulation losses in their final 10 games. Amazingly, the Sharks now have a more than 40-per-cent chance of getting a top-10 draft pick - their first since trading up to take Logan Couture ninth overall in 2007. San Jose has missed the playoffs only once in the past 18 years, but big changes are coming in Northern California.

Chance of making playoffs: 4 to 5 per cent.

Follow me on Twitter: @mirtle

Associated Graphic

Ottawa Senators coach Dave Cameron gives instructions to his players shortly after taking the job in December.


Sidney Crosby

Steve Yzerman

Patrick Roy

Logan Couture

VAG's deadline extension is on the ropes
Sources say city hall is losing interest in granting the gallery more time to raise money for a new building
Friday, March 27, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S1

VANCOUVER -- A planned extension of the deadline the Vancouver Art Gallery is facing to raise funds for its new downtown facility could be in jeopardy. The extension had been in the works at city hall, but it is now in a holding pattern because of new tensions between the city and the gallery, The Globe and Mail has learned.

When the city approved the deal nearly two years ago to lease land to the VAG for its new facility, it included a number of conditions, including a requirement that the gallery raise $100-million from the federal government and an additional $50-million from the provincial government by April 30, 2015.

That has not happened, and both levels of government have signalled that funding of that magnitude is not in the cards.

Recognizing that, the VAG formally asked the city for an extension to the fundraising deadline.

In response, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson sent a letter to gallery director Kathleen Bartels and board chair Bruce Munro Wright earlier this month. The letter indicated that "there would likely be significant support by city council for an extension of the timelines and milestones ... provided the VAG is committed to the original requirements approved by council."

Those requirements, laid out in the April, 2013, council reports, relate to the design of the new VAG, the gallery's governance and consultation with the public and cultural sector on the VAG's plan.

The mayor's office did not receive a response to that letter, dated March 10, until Wednesday of this week. And at city hall, it was considered a disappointment in both content and tone, according to sources. It lacked specifics in terms of how the VAG planned to meet the criteria, and reiterated the request for a fundraising extension.

Although it had not yet communicated this to the VAG, city hall was preparing to grant the extension - likely another 12 months - a term that takes into account this fall's federal election. The VAG is hoping a change of government in Ottawa could open up the possibility of securing federal funding. "We are also very conscious of the pending federal election, and the opportunity it presents to the gallery for securing funding for this major capital project," Mr. Robertson wrote in the letter to the VAG.

The federal Conservatives have repeatedly said the funding is not possible. "Our government's position on the matter has not changed: This project is simply too expensive," Heritage Minister Shelly Glover's office said in a statement to The Globe this week. In a previous e-mail last November, it pointed out that a request of $100-million for a single institution exceeds the scope of the Canada Cultural Spaces Fund, the only federal cultural infrastructure program - which has an annual budget of $30-million for the entire country.

Receiving an additional $50million from the current provincial government also appears to be a long shot. In 2008, the B.C. Liberals, under then premier Gordon Campbell, granted $50-million to the project. The city's conditions indicate that the VAG must receive another $50-million from the province. But a highly influential figure - Bob Rennie, the B.C. Liberals' chief fundraiser - has been staunchly and very publicly against the VAG proposal. And Mr. Rennie, a highly successful Vancouver real estate marketer, certainly has the ear of Premier Christy Clark.

Ms. Bartels has consistently put on a brave face about the VAG's inability up to this point to raise that money from the two levels of government. She has said once the conceptual design is revealed later this spring, it will be easier to raise the money needed.

But at city hall, there is a loss of confidence in the VAG's ability to deliver on that condition. Despite having two years to do so, the VAG has not formally asked the federal or provincial governments for the money.

According to sources, the city feels the VAG has ignored many of the guidelines the city had asked the gallery to take into account. For example, the $350million project is far more extravagant than the city had hoped.

Following an international competition, the gallery commissioned a top Swiss firm to design the gallery.

The frustration at city hall over the issue was exacerbated by comments Ms. Bartels made in the Vancouver Sun this week, saying the VAG had always found the funding milestones set out by the city to be unreasonable.

As a result, a source at city hall on Thursday described the appetite to grant the extension as "pretty slim." The source added that it appears the VAG's progress for meeting deadlines is "not good."

Meanwhile, the VAG opens an exhibition Friday featuring the past work of Herzog & de Meuron, the architecture firm it has employed. In that exhibit, the opening date for the new VAG is listed as 2021 - pushed back from the previously scheduled 2020.

The Globe was unable to ask Ms. Bartels about this delay - or any matter relating to fundraising for the new building. She had agreed to an interview following the media preview, but cancelled it abruptly, issuing a statement later in the day instead.

"We remain extremely thankful to the City of Vancouver and the government of British Columbia for their continued support," it began, adding the VAG was "working tirelessly to raise the required funds" and "making every effort to pave the way for further funding from government sources, which is a long, complex and challenging process."

With roadblocks at the government level, the VAG is focusing on the private sector for funding.

But philanthropist Michael Audain's surprise decision to build his own art gallery in Whistler has been seen as a blow to the VAG's ambitions. Mr. Audain was once the chair of the VAG's relocation committee and its foundation board - and a key public voice for the plan. He left the board last year. A few months later, he was named the VAG's first honorary chairman. While Mr. Audain remains supportive of the VAG project, his focus is now on his $30-million 56,000-squarefoot gallery in Whistler, which is scheduled to open in the fall. A large fundraiser is being held in Whistler this weekend.

In addition to the Audain Gallery, there are a number of highprofile cultural projects competing for philanthropic dollars - including the new Emily Carr University of Art and Design campus in East Vancouver and the new Presentation House Gallery planned for North Vancouver.

Ms. Bartels is taking pains to appear optimistic. "This exhibition is a very exciting prelude to the unveiling of the conceptual design of our new building later this spring, when we will also be making a major funding announcement," she said in her remarks at Thursday's media preview.

The city wants clarity on this issue as soon as possible. Part of that block, known as Larwill Park (currently a parking lot across the street from the Queen Elizabeth Theatre), is to be developed under the proposal. And the city is banking on the funds from that. If the new gallery is not going to be built, the city needs to make other plans for the property. That's why the new deadline - if the city agrees to the extension - is likely to be a drop-dead one.

Associated Graphic

Senior partner at Herzog & de Meuron Christine Binswanger, pointing, discusses architecture at the VAG on Thursday.


Members of the media walk through the Vancouver Art Gallery on Thursday, ahead of Friday's Herzog & de Meuron exhibition opening. The architecture firm designed the gallery's proposed new building.


Ethan Hawke's age of enlightenment
Friday, March 20, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R1

Ellar Coltrane isn't the only person in the film Boyhood who grows up on camera. Ethan Hawke's character, Mason Sr., matures from a self-involved scrapegrace to a caring father with credible wisdom. Hawke, 44, was able to convey those changes so simply and believably because they match his own.

As he admits in the new documentary Seymour: An Introduction, which he directed and which opens in select cities today, Hawke experienced a full-blown identity crisis when he turned 40, complete with panic attacks and near-crippling stage fright. "The truth is, I was in a lot of pain," Hawke told me last September, when Seymour premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. In person Hawke's a charmer, thoughtful and self-deprecating.

Something in our hotel meeting room was emitting a low hum, but instead of irritating us, it became a soundtrack for hushed revelations; we kept leaning toward one another and agreeing enthusiastically.

"I felt the world chipping away at my idealism," Hawke continues. "I've acted professionally since I was 13. I'd always been the youngest person in the room. But it was difficult to make it to 30 with the kind of success I'd had at 18. And then I looked up and I was 40. I have four kids, I'm a son, I'm responsible to all these different entities. I didn't know where to put myself on that list of priorities."

Hawke's crisis seems especially surprising because, from the outside, his life always looked so dishy. At 18, he plays a breakthrough role in a beloved film, Dead Poets Society.

Lead roles in diverse genres follow: He works for Ben Stiller in the Gen X romance Reality Bites, for Alfonso Cuaron in a modern-day Great Expectations, for Antoine Fuqua in the badcop drama Training Day (he earns a best supporting actor Oscar nomination for that one; another acting nomination and two for screenwriting will follow).

There's something brash, maybe even a little bratty about Hawke - he seems to do whatever he pleases. He makes his Broadway debut at 22, in Chekhov's The Seagull; his other stage credits include Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, Sam Shepard and Tom Stoppard (he lands a Tony nomination for that one). He co-founds a theatre company in New York; he sets up house in Brooklyn. He writes a novel, The Hottest State, and then another, Ash Wednesday. He marries Uma Thurman, they have two kids, then get divorced. He marries Ryan Shawhughes, who once worked for him as a nanny, and they have two kids. He directs theatre. He directs films. He forms a creative partnership with the writer/ director Richard Linklater; among other projects, they cowrite the acclaimed trilogy Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight.

It sure doesn't look like the résumé of someone wracked with doubt. "I always made myself get on stage, but sometimes it was by a hair's breadth," Hawke says. "Panic attacks, they're really serious.

You start having panic attacks about having a panic attack.

You start avoiding challenging situations."

Then, at a Monday night dinner party he didn't want to go to, Hawke sat next to someone who literally changed his life: Seymour Bernstein, a classical pianist who suffered such severe stage fright that he abandoned his concert career at 50 and became an instructor. This was not a tragedy, however, because as Hawke's documentary gently and generously shows, Bernstein, now in his 80s, is a gifted teacher whose lessons reach far beyond music.

"When Seymour talks about how to be a better piano player, it relates to how to be a better father, a better actor, a better human being," Hawke says.

"What he's really talking about is how to be fully yourself all the time. And that actually requires work. It's discipline."

Hawke's film includes a brilliant demonstration of that, a seven-minute sequence in which Bernstein asks a young female piano student to play a short passage. Repeatedly, he stops her after just a few notes, each time offering a new suggestion.

With any other teacher, she may have dissolved in tears of frustration; with Bernstein, she beams, and by the end of the seven minutes, her playing is discernibly improved.

"Because he didn't stop until she did it right," Hawke says.

"Really good teachers can't let you off the hook. He says his job is to give somebody self-respect, but you don't do that by just telling them they're wonderful. You do it by teaching them how to have the discipline required to feel good about themselves."

Hawke took three and a half years to make the doc; as a result, it has a depth you can feel. "If I'd made it when I was younger, I would have shot it in a month, edited it in two, submitted it to a festival and wondered why it was a little sloppy," Hawke says. "Now, I love realizing time can be my ally."

Working with Linklater on three films that span 18 years, and one (Boyhood) that spans 12, certainly aided that realization. "How could it not?" Hawke asks. "It really got Rick and I thinking about the power of using time as clay."

Through Bernstein, Hawke learned that his stage fright was not only nothing to be ashamed of, it was something to be honoured. "When those things happen, something in you is opening up, you're about to get better," Hawke says now. "No growth happens without pain. I realized that how I perform, in anything, doesn't matter in the ways you're told it matters, like reviews. What matters is the attempt you put forth. It matters because it's your life, it's passing and the time is now."

Hawke's schedule is as crowded as ever. He's the lead in an upcoming Chet Baker biopic, and is filming a romantic comedy for director Rebecca Miller (daughter of Arthur Miller; Mrs. Daniel Day-Lewis). In next month's Good Kill, he plays a U.S. Air Force pilot struggling to adapt to his reassignment in the drone program. When that film's director, Andrew Niccol, hired Hawke, he told him, "'You have a great facility for language, and we're not going to need that in this movie,' " Niccol says in a separate interview. "It was useful for the character, who's stuck in a box, emotionally unavailable, that Ethan's natural way of communicating be stopped. Plus, he has the right amount of maturity for this now, a bit of world-weariness."

Rather than living from role to role, Hawke is now taking a more sweeping approach. "I think the second half of my life will involve more writing and directing," he says. "I still love acting. I love it more than ever, but in a different way. Rick [Linklater] and I have been having a hard think about what we can offer acting right now. We've been working toward a different level of naturalism. Though I think being a movie star is a young person's game, I'm more relaxed on camera than I've ever been.

"Something has clicked in me," he sums up. "Before, I felt like I was a really old young person. Now I feel like a really young old person. I'm ready to try new things. I'm not going to hold onto the old ones."

Associated Graphic

Ethan Hawke learned during the making of his documentary that discipline is required for one to be fully comfortable with oneself.


With Netanyahu, Herzog tied, the coalition building begins
Likud leader uses every trick in his political bag to pull even with Zionist Union opponent
Wednesday, March 18, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A1

Veteran politician Benjamin Netanyahu used every trick in the book Tuesday to pull his Likud party even with his principal opposition, the Zionist Union (ZU) led by Isaac Herzog, in an Israeli election marked by acrimony and accusations of racism.

With ballots being counted through the night, exit polls showed the Likud and ZU tied with 27 seats apiece.

Now comes the messy business of fashioning a coalition. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin will give one of the two men the first opportunity to assemble a government of at least 61 seats, a majority in the 120-seat Knesset.

With at least eight other parties vying for positions in cabinet, the bartering will be fierce. A new centrist party, Kulanu, led by a disgruntled former Likud minister, may cast the deciding vote.

While many days of difficult negotiations lie ahead, Mr. Netanyahu has a better-than-even chance to form a workable coalition and claim a fourth term as prime minister.

At the end of last week, the country's major public-opinion surveys all had Likud trailing by as many as four seats. A last-minute anti-Arab campaign intended to strike fear in the hearts of many Jewish Israeli voters appears to have made the difference in drawing supporters back to Likud.

Soon after polling stations opened, Mr. Netanyahu sounded the alarm in a dramatic video on Facebook. "The rule of the right wing is in danger," he said. "Arab voters are going to the polls in droves!"

"Go to the polling stations! Vote Likud!" he told the people.

The element of fear seems to have succeeded and the number of voters increased substantially later in the day.

"Against all odds: a great victory for Likud ... a great victory for the people of Israel," Mr. Netanyahu crowed on his official Twitter account on Tuesday.

The night before, in his campaign's final official rally, Mr. Netanyahu reassured doubters on the right by recanting his 2009 commitment to negotiate a Palestinian state. Such an entity will not be created, he said, as long as he is in office.

While Tuesday's anti-Arab rhetoric drew strong rebukes for racism, and the repudiation of a Palestinian state puts Israel on a collision course with the United States, the tactics appear to have worked and the Likud vote surged.

Much of it came at the expense of the Jewish Home Party, a pro-settler right-wing party led by Mr. Netanyahu's one-time chief of staff, Naftali Bennett, which finished with just eight seats, according to the exit polls. On Friday, surveys showed Mr. Bennett's party in contention for third place with 13 projected seats.

In the closing days of the campaign, the veteran Mr. Netanyahu had targeted Mr. Bennett, saying that a right-wing government was only possible if the Likud leader got more votes than the centre-left leader, Mr. Herzog. The people on the right listened.

Yet, the first phone call Mr. Netanyahu said he made after the exit polls were announced was to Mr. Bennett. The two agreed, he said, to initiate accelerated negotiations to establish a right-wing government.

This will not be as easy as it sounds.

To form a working majority, Mr. Netanyahu needs at least 61 seats - with Mr. Bennett's party, he has 35. Assuming he can convince Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to return, Mr. Netanyahu will pick up five more seats, making a total of 40.

At the same time, Mr. Herzog, though clearly wounded by lastminute developments, vowed late Tuesday night to "make every effort to form a real socially-minded government for Israel." He told reporters he already had begun discussion with other party leaders about putting together such a coalition.

With his own bloc's 27 seats, Mr. Herzog can count on the support of the left-wing Meretz party, with its five seats, as well as likely gaining the support of the centrist Yesh Atid party that looks to have 12 seats. With those parties in hand, Mr. Herzog has 44 seats.

It all comes down to Israel's two main ultra-Orthodox parties, with six and seven seats, and the new Kulanu party led by former communications minister Moshe Kahlon, which looks to be getting 10 seats.

These are the parties that are likely to make or break a coalition.

Israeli President Rivlin seems intent on fashioning a coalition of his own. No sooner had the exit polls announced a virtual tie between the top two blocs when Mr. Rivlin issued a statement: "I am convinced," he said, "that only a unity government can prevent the rapid disintegration of Israel's democracy and new elections in the near future."

By "unity government," Mr. Rivlin, a long-time Likud speaker of the Knesset, is referring to a government in which the top two parties are included, and a minimum number of other parties are added to give the coalition a majority in the Knesset.

The belief is that such a government, comprised of fewer, larger parties, will be more stable. In theory such a government would leave out extremists and the chances of early dissolution from a government collapse are greatly reduced.

Such a government was established at the time of the 1967 Six Day War, and another in 1984, when Likud and Labour joined together. In that latter example the two parties even rotated the premiership, with Labour leader Shimon Peres running the government for two years, and Likud leader Yitzhak Shamir running things for the other two years.

In the current situation, while Mr. Herzog and Mr. Netanyahu may agree on fundamental matters such as the threat from Iran and the need for economic reforms, it is difficult to see the two sides agreeing on how to approach the issue of settlements on the West Bank and the creation of a Palestinian state.

Left-wing leaders have attempted to discourage Mr. Herzog from entertaining the idea of a unity government.

Some have pointed to the extreme tactics employed by Mr. Netanyahu Tuesday.

Shelly Yachimovich, the former Labour Party leader, denounced Mr. Netanyahu for his "racist" remark about Arab citizens going to the polls. No Western leader would have uttered such a racist remark, she said. "Imagine a warning that begins with 'the rule is endangered. Black voters are heading in droves to the polls,' " she wrote on her Twitter feed.

For their part, Palestinians have expressed disgust with the whole affair and vowed to pursue their efforts at obtaining international recognition of their state.

"It is clear that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will form the next government," Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat told reporters. "So we say clearly that we will go to the International Criminal Court in the Hague and we will speed up, pursue and intensify" all diplomatic efforts to achieve statehood.

Associated Graphic

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Zionist Union party leader Isaac Herzog, right, greet supporters in Tel Aviv.


Far left: Likud party supporters react after hearing exit poll results in Tel Aviv on Tuesday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu closed a gap with centre-left rival Isaac Herzog in a hard-fought Israeli election, the polls showed.


Above: Israeli-Arab candidates who are members of a joint list of Arab parties react to exit poll results in Nazareth on Tuesday. From left: Dov Khenin, Jamal Zahalka, Ayman Odeh, Ahmad Tibi and Aida Tuma.


Left: Zionist Union party supporters react to hearing exit poll results in Tel Aviv on Tuesday. Exit polls showed Prime Minister Netanyahu has the clearer path to forming a coalition.


Celebrating the boss of big-band jazz
Ryan Truesdell's The Gil Evans Project compiles a retrospective on one of Canada's legendary composers
Saturday, March 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R6

Parents can say the darndest things.

Take Margaret Julia McConnachy, whose only child, Gilmore Ian Ernest Green, was born May 13, 1912, in Toronto. She liked to tell her young son that the reason he'd never met his biological father was because he'd died before Gil was born. Seems dad had been a doctor in Toronto, perhaps at the hospital where Gil was born, perhaps not, but no matter: The hospital had burned down. On other occasions, the birth story would get more fantastic: McConnachy would say Gil, born to her in her late 40s, had been a kind of cosmic gift, found by her "on a beach where he'd fallen from a star."

Gil would later tell a biographer he pretty much accepted these yarns as gospel until around the age of 11. By then he was calling himself Gil Evans, after his stepfather John A.

Evans, a peripatetic Canadian miner whom McConnachy had taken as her fifth (and last) husband, and with whom she and Gil travelled around Ontario, Saskatchewan, B.C., Washington, Idaho and Montana from one job to the next. Both the wandering and the marriage finally ended in the late-1920s in Stockton, Calif., population 20,000. There, in high school, Evans developed the preoccupation with music that, before his death in 1988, would result in such legendary collaborations with Miles Davis as Porgy and Bess and Sketches of Spain, friendships with the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Sting, and fame as one of the greatest orchestrators and bandleaders in jazz history, bested perhaps only by Duke Ellington.

Ryan Truesdell confesses that he "loves that story about Gil's birth." Speaking on the phone from Manhattan, his home since 2006, he says he finds it "so great, so ... hazy."

But then, at 35, Truesdell seems to love pretty much everything about Gil. A bandleader/arranger/composer himself, trained at the New England Conservatory, Truesdell in 2012 released Centennial: Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans, a Grammy-winning, 10track album of (mostly) previously unrecorded arrangements and compositions, the oldest dating to 1946, the newest to 1971. No less than 35 top-tier New York-based musicians were involved in that recording in the fall of 2011. The following May, many of them were onstage with Truesdell at New York's Jazz Standard club to celebrate the CD's debut and to inaugurate what has since become an annual tradition - a weeklong live engagement at the Standard under the rubric The Gil Evans Project.

A second Project disc, Lines of Color, recorded during last year's stand at the Standard, has just been released, and on March 28, a 21-piece iteration of Truesdell's band, including vocalist Wendy Gilles, will be playing selections from it and other impeccably executed Evans arrangements and compositions at Koerner Hall in Toronto's Royal Conservatory of Music.

Truesdell has been immersed in the Evans oeuvre for the past several years, having been granted complete access to Evans's manuscripts by Gil's widow, Anita, and their two sons. He's also been in touch with some of the musicians who worked with Evans, or their children, to see what they have. The result has been a discovery and a recovery of works hitherto unknown or believed to have been lost.

Today, Truesdell estimates his Evans project includes some 250 charts.

Truesdell first encountered Evans in the late 1990s while flipping through the jazz racks in a Barnes and Noble in his hometown, Madison, Wis. He'd been turned on to jazz by his high school saxophone instructor, and at this time was passionate for anything and everything by the altoist Julian (Cannonball) Adderley. Coming upon the CD Porgy and Bess, Miles Davis's classic 1959 team-up with the Gil Evans Orchestra, he duly noted Adderley's name among the contributing musicians.

"So I got that and when I took it home to put it on, I was totally blown away with the sound I was hearing," Truesdell recalls. "I was listening to a lot of big bands and playing in big bands, but I'd never heard anything quite like that. So I listened to the whole record and it didn't dawn on me until after I heard the whole thing that I hadn't really heard Cannonball solo at all, the whole reason why I'd bought the record." The next day he was back at the store snapping up as many Davis/Evans collaborations as he could find. This was followed by a hunt for Evans solo excursions such as Out of the Cool (1961) and The Individualism of Gil Evans (1964).

What drew Truesdell to the former Canadian was what continues to earn Evans listeners - the unusual use (for contemporary jazz at least) of French horn, flute, harp and piccolo, the close chord voicings, the harmonic shiftiness, the timbres you get by pitting, say, high reeds against low brass, his dab hand with what Jelly Roll Morton famously called "the Latin tinge." And arrangements could be big-band bold one moment, slinky as "fog coming on little cat feet" the next.

Truesdell says he originally expected to devote maybe "a couple of years of my life to Gil, because I thought it was important. I mean, 2012 was the 100th anniversary of his birth and there seemed to be a resurgence of interest in him and his music.

I figured I'd just do a record and maybe a few performances. Then all of a sudden, people seemed to like it."

As a result, Truesdell put on hold plans to record his own music. He hopes to begin to rectify the matter this summer by spending a lot of time writing new pieces. Yet he's unsure if this work will be cast for a large ensemble. "I'm not keen on writing for five saxophones, four trombones, whatever, but I have this problem where I love colour, this palette of sound," he says.

"So I kinda want a ton of instruments even as I know I have to make the project practical. I guess what I'd like to have is a pseudo-Gil Evans kind of instrumentation ensemble."

Meanwhile, fans of his work on the Evans repertoire need not fear that that well is anywhere close to running dry. For last year's Gil Evans showcase alone, Truesdell and Lines of Color coproducer Dave Rivello recorded 30 or so tunes above and beyond the 11 that found a home on Lines of Color - enough, in short, for another CD or two should demand warrant.

Is Truesdell worried that he'll be identified as a repertory guy mining the glories of jazz past rather than a so-called original artist?

"I can't really say what will happen if the public pegs me as a repertory musician once I start doing my own music; I don't have much control over that," he says. "People at this point likely do see me as a repertory artist, because that's mostly what I'm known for. But I just turned 35; I like to think there's time. Who knows what'll happen? Maybe I'll be known forever as 'the Gil Evans guy.' I guess as long as people are saying my name, it's not a bad thing."

Ryan Truesdell/Gil Evans Project plays Koerner Hall at Toronto's Royal Conservatory of Music Mar. 28, starting at 8 p.m.

Associated Graphic

Gil Evans collaborated with Miles Davis, was friends with Jimi Hendrix and Sting, and is known as one of the greatest bandleaders in jazz history.


New attractions lift capital up a peg or two
With the opening of a national museum, Nordic-inspired retreat and Arctic exhibit, Winnipeg is warming up as a tourist destination
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, March 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page T10

WINNIPEG -- We've all heard the jokes about Winterpeg, the climatically and geographically challenged heart of Canada, the classic Prairie town that many Canadians would rather be from than in. I'm a case in point; I spent much of my youth in the Peg and left 30 years ago.

The city has taken a fresh beating lately, with Maclean's magazine dubbing it the country's most racist city, citing the chronic poverty and discrimination faced by its large First Nations population. Exaggerated or not, similar condemnation could apply to many Canadian communities facing hard historic truths.

With these thoughts in mind, I've come back to my old hometown to take a fresh look and explore a more positive notion - that Manitoba's capital is on its way to becoming a bona fide tourist destination with some special new attractions.

Urban Zentuary

Unless they're ice fishing, snowmobiling or cross-country skiing, many Winnipeggers tend to head indoors to unwind and re-energize during the colder months.

But with the January opening of the Thermea Spa, an $11-million, 50,000-square-foot, Nordic-inspired haven nestled in wooded parkland, they can play outdoors without fear of frostbite.

It's a detoxifying, relaxing experience influenced by Scandinavian techniques based on thermotherapy - alternating hot (saunas, hot tubs) and cold (frigid pools) with rest (endorphinreleasing nap rooms) and massage options.

"Being here feels like you're miles away from the city in the heart of nature," says general manager Frederick Jenni as we tour the complex of Nordic baths and waterfalls, a steam bath, a cedar-panelled Finnish sauna and sumptuous relaxation areas.

We're just a 20-minute drive from the city centre, adjacent to the Crescent Drive Golf Course, but Jenni is right - it feels as if I've stumbled into a Shangri-la hidden in the boreal forests of northern Sweden. And it's one that offers a full menu of luxury body treatments and a fine-dining restaurant.

Bears blast

Twisting, twirling, diving and wrestling above my head, two polar bears play in a Plexiglas underwater tunnel known as the Sea Ice Passage, the hit attraction in Assiniboine Park Zoo's Journey to Churchill exhibit, which opened last summer.

Rescued from the shores of Hudson's Bay, Storm and Hudson, along with four other bears, now reside in the most comprehensive northern species exhibit of its kind in the world, along with wolves, Arctic fox, muskoxen and other wildlife.

"We see this as the perfect fit for anyone heading to Churchill [to see polar bears]. They can come here to get educated first," says Kevin Hunter, the zoo's director of marketing, as he shows me around the exhibit, which includes the International Polar Bear Conservation Centre.

At the visitor interpretive centre - packed with interactive displays, educational games and video interviews with polar bear researchers and conservation managers - Hunter explains that Journey to Churchill helps the zoo actively contribute to its goal of environmental and wildlife education, research and conservation.

The exhibit's most recent polar bear arrivals, sibling cubs Blizzard and Star, were found orphaned on the tundra. "Their mother was nowhere to be seen, a wolf pack was in the area, and there was absolutely no hope for these cubs' survival," Hunter recalls.

"So we sent our vet to Churchill to assess the bears, then decided to bring them here. We would never remove a viable polar bear from the wild," he adds.

The rights stuff

Winnipeg's other major new tourist attraction is the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the first national museum built outside the Ottawa region. Controversial since its inception, as much for what was left out as for what is addressed, this hulking mass of glass, concrete, stone and steel was designed by American architect Antoine Predock.

"Our galleries aren't set up on the basis of particular ethnic groups, or even different human rights issues or categories," explains Maureen Fitzhenry, the museum's media relations manager, as we ascend one of the back-lit alabaster ramps that connect the various galleries.

"Instead, they explore educational themes about human rights itself as a concept and an aspiration, which makes us unique in the world."

Intended to represent "a journey from darkness to light," this kilometre-long pathway reaches its apex in the museum's 100metre-high glass pinnacle, named the Izzy Asper Tower of Hope after the late Manitoba entrepreneur, politician and philanthropist who first came up with the idea of a museum dedicated to human rights education.

The 10 permanent galleries are filled with interactive digital installations, video clips, displays and artifacts that attempt to humanize often-abstract concepts via innovative storytelling techniques.

"We're not a collection of all the human rights stories of Canada or the world that are worth telling," says Fitzhenry as we explore the Turning Points for Humanity gallery, where large monitors depict the contribution and power of grassroots movements and social activism. "We are using examples to support the themes, not choosing examples with underlying themes."

The material, which opened last September, is fascinating and often moving, but can be overwhelming. To fully absorb all it has to offer, it deserves multiple visits.

The writer was a guest of Tourism Winnipeg; it did not review or approve this article.



Thermea Spa offers an all-day thermal experience, with access to baths, saunas and relaxation areas, starting at $45. Hour-long à la carte massage therapy and body treatments start at $95. No reservations required. Its restaurant serves light fare as well as full meals such as seared pike and sweet-brined bison rib-eye. Open daily, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. (775 Crescent Dr., At Assiniboine Park Zoo, explore Journey to Churchill, the most comprehensive northern species exhibit of its kind in the world. Adult admission, $18.50; children 3 to 12, $10. Open daily, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. ( The Canadian Museum for Human Rights, located near the Forks in the heart of the city's historic core, is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (to 8 p.m. on Wednesday). Adult admission $15; families $42. ( .


If you loved The Da Vinci Code, don't miss Don Finkbeiner's Hermetic Code Tour; for $39.30, you spend two hours exploring the Freemason symbols and secret codes hidden in the architecture of the Manitoba Legislature. ( More history can be had at the Forks, Winnipeg's central meeting place, where people have gathered to trade for more than 6,000 years; it's packed with markets, museums, theatres, dining and shopping. ( The Winnipeg Art Gallery showcases pieces from the world's largest collection of contemporary Inuit art. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (to 9 p.m. on Friday).

Adult admission, $12; students, $8. (300 Memorial Blvd.,


In the heart of the Exchange District, the award-winning Deer+almond offers gourmet dishes such as smoked lamb ragout, pork belly and venison. (85 Princess St.,


Winnipeg's newest boutique lodging, the minimalist Mere Hotel, is located on the riverfront in Stephen Juba Park, an easy walk from the Exchange District. King rooms start at $149 a night. (333 Waterfront Dr.,

Associated Graphic

Assiniboine Park Zoo's Journey to Churchill features several rescued polar bears.


The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the first national museum built outside of the Ottawa region.


Inside Dustin Hoffman's co-operative ethos
Friday, March 27, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R1

There's no wrangling Dustin Hoffman. Not on a movie set, where he can be fearsome. And not in a roundtable interview with eight journalists, as he proved last September when his new drama, Boychoir, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

In the film, Hoffman plays the choirmaster at an elite music academy that trains boys during that shining, evanescent moment in their pre-adolescence when their voices sound like angels' harps. Then one day their hormones kick in, and it's gone.

Hoffman's six-decade career is the opposite of evanescent - two Academy Awards, a score of indelible performances from Midnight Cowboy to Meet the Fockers, from The Graduate to Death of a Salesman. Even his failures are epic (Ishtar). At 77, he's grey-haired and ready to grin, with a bracelet of meditation beads and a naughty sense of humour. "When I started out, if one photo was released of somebody giving a blow job - end of career," he tells my table, apropos of nothing. "Now it makes someone a star." His eyes crinkle into a riot of laugh lines.

"Blow jobs are finally getting the credit they deserve."

He appears to wear his livinglegend status lightly: "I swear I'm not aware of it," he says.

"What I'm aware of is, the longer I'm around, the harder it is to get away with murder." But though he's pint-sized, he's not shy about exerting power. He may be the guy who hired a samba trio to entertain the crew of Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium (which shot in Toronto), and who signed so many autographs outside TIFF's Boychoir screening that an impatient handler had to pluck away his pen.

But he's also the guy who drove director Sydney Pollack nuts on Tootsie, forcing co-star Bill Murray to run interference. So if we journalists want to ask Hoffman Boychoir-related questions about talent, training and art, but Hoffman wants to talk about the fraught relationship between actors and directors, guess who wins?

"Dustin can be intimidating, even frightening, if there is a lack of understanding or trust," Zach Helm, Mr. Magorium's writer/ director, once told me. "If you expect an actor to do as you say, he's not the guy to work with. But if you want someone to collaborate, I don't know that there's anyone better."

François Girard, Boychoir's Quebec-born director (he also made Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould and The Red Violin), agrees. "Dustin is an obsessive-compulsive actor," Girard says in a separate interview. "We both would like to do another take for this, another for that. But there was so little time on this movie, only 27 days - we didn't have that luxury.

It was a recipe for tension, but our friendship stayed alive." He laughs. "That might be my biggest satisfaction of this movie."

Hoffman's obsessiveness lasted right through Boychoir's editing process. "Dustin watched about 20 different versions," Girard says.

"He kept calling me back, exchanging notes - 'This scene, are you sure?' The editor would come back, we'd reopen the scene, we'd cut for two days, and then Dustin would call back again. But I love it about him. It shows his dedication to the film."

Hoffman makes it clear that Girard was a good collaborator. He also makes it clear that he's no fan of directors who aren't.

"Directors are sometimes satisfied before they should be," he says. "They feel threatened" if an actor fights back. They sacrifice getting a scene right in order to get it finished. They come in with fixed ideas of how things should go, instead of letting things happen organically in the moment.

They don't let actors watch the playbacks of their takes.

"You have to con these directors into making them feel like what you're suggesting was their idea," Hoffman says. "They would rather not collaborate and fail than collaborate and succeed."

To counter this, Hoffman continues, actors help each other.

"You say to another actor, 'I don't feel I'm doing good work,' " he explains. "The other actor will say, 'When we were running lines, you were right on the money, but then the director asked for more energy. Uh-oh, here he comes, I didn't say anything.' It's like those old prison movies - you talk out of the side of your mouth."

Hoffman "got rid of all that" when he directed his first feature, 2012's Quartet (about a home for retired musicians, including a diva played by Maggie Smith). He says it was a wonderful feeling.

"People warned me, 'Look out for Smith, she's tough,' " he recalls.

And indeed, in the middle of one scene, she simply stopped dead and announced, "I don't know what this scene is about!" But rather than fighting her, Hoffman called a break, heard her out and fixed the problem. "I think acting should be that way," he says. "It should be easy, it should be effortless."

Don't get him wrong - he's had great experiences with some directors. Mike Nichols was wonderful on The Graduate. "They spent three years on the script," Hoffman says. "We had a month of rehearsal, starting from zero on a sound stage with tape, like you do in a play. Then we had 100 days of shooting, which is like five movies now. We could go back, do things over."

On All the President's Men, Hoffman and his co-star, Robert Redford, felt they should eliminate from the script all scenes of their characters' personal lives, "so the audience only knows us as reporters," and director Alan Pakula agreed. Hoffman loved working with Barry Levinson on Rain Man, Sleepers and Wag the Dog. Steven Spielberg was "extremely generous" on Hook. And though he hasn't worked with Woody Allen, Hoffman admires Allen's willingness to let his actors improvise.

"He says, 'Say whatever you want, just make it real,' " Hoffman says. "I prefer that." (He once got the call to be in an Allen film, by the way. "But I said no when I should have said yes.")

Periodically during the interview, we reporters try to steer Hoffman onto other topics, and he throws us a few bones. He wishes he had the talent to be a musician: "If God tapped me on the shoulder now and said, 'No more acting or directing, but you can be a decent jazz pianist,' I'd do it. I love it more than anything." He swears that "there are great parts to aging. Being around longer than other people, you can't help but have a certain amount of wisdom." He pauses, then deadpans, "You look like you don't quite believe me."

But nearly every answer circles back to actors versus directors; it's clearly Hoffman's preferred subject of the day. "There's no such thing as perfection in the arts," he sums up. "Picasso, as his stuff was being hung in galleries, would go in and paint, add things. I don't think you're ever finished. You just keep trying to chip away what doesn't feel real." And if you're Hoffman, you don't let anyone tell you, or ask you, different.

Associated Graphic

Dustin Hoffman makes it clear that François Girard, Boychoir's Quebec-born director, was great to work with.


If you had to reduce your belongings to what really matters, what would you pick? Ellen Himelfarb considers the simplicity of a minimalist life versus the joy of stuff
Special to The Globe and Mail
Thursday, March 19, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L1

In my fortysomething years I have never heard of a bothy. But today, in the London workshop of designer Gareth Neal, I'm getting the play-by-play on constructing one in larch, birch and cedar.

Bothy, I learn, is an old Scottish term for a small shelter or cabin - something off-grid, in today's parlance. Neal's spartan peakroofed wood version is part of a government-funded network of rustic, sustainable artist residences built by local creatives across the Scottish countryside.

More than that, though, the bothy is an ideal, the sort of place we'd all withdraw to if we could just tear ourselves away from the modern world. Next week, Neal will install a cross-section of his space at London's New Craftsmen gallery as the backbone of its exhibition Mindful Living.

There's that word again. Mindfulness, the highly aspirational state of heightened awareness, of basking in the moment, is the buzzword of the decade. But rather than using the bothy as his personal yoga retreat, Neal has made it a template for mindful interior design. To complement his remote countryside cabin, he's assembled 10 essential objects that, he says, are all he'd need "to accompany [him] on a metaphorical journey to a mindful life." Each object was made by a British craftsperson and chosen for the sake of a more peaceful, connected existence.

"I'm taking a close look at how the objects we surround ourselves with can affect our mood and well-being. There's no way to prove that living with certain objects makes us feel better, but I posit it makes for a better, more considered space."

Mindful interiors have not-sosuddenly become a thing. In the name of mindfulness, Vancouver design duo Knauf and Brown recently launched a manual lamp and mirror that require a series of actions to use properly.

Designers and professional organizers have rebranded themselves as "mindfulness consultants" to capitalize on our obsession with spatial and spiritual harmony in our homes.

The "cleaning consultant" Marie Kondo might have whetted our appetite for it all with her bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, which taught millions to commune with their inanimate possessions before kicking them to the curb. Kondo's philosophy is simple: Keep the things that "spark joy" and bid adieu - literally - to the rest. The "KonMari method" has brought the less-is-more ideal to a new, millennial audience and elevated decluttering to a spiritual cleansing.

Neal says he saw the light a few years ago after a week spent learning traditional furnituremaking in a woodland in Herefordshire, England. He says the course altered his perception of materials and waste. "I started really questioning why I was making objects and who for.

Could I justify the waste?" The pieces he's bringing to the bothy project are simple, focused, functional: more eco-based than ego-based. Most items are practical necessities: a wood-burning stove; a set of nesting bowls, knives and a chopping board; blankets; a toothbrush; an axe.

Others are more emotional. The most ambitious is a split-cane fishing rod made by Cornwall craftsman Luke Bannister. "I can't fish," he says, "but I want to learn."

Then there's the record player - not a laptop or an iPod but a good, old-fashioned turntable.

"The idea is to escape from WiFi, to slow down, even go backward a bit," Neal says. "Records have a tacit quality in a way the digital world doesn't. That's the key to all the objects I design - you want to touch them, feel the texture."

Notably absent is all the crap.

"I've reduced life to the essence of the things we cherish and make us feel good. It's something we're missing in the modern world."

Neal doesn't harbour delusions that visitors will ship their possessions to Value Village and move to the woodland. Nor does he expect to spend his entire life living the bothy dream. "This is an aspiration," he says. "It's not about converting everything but making little changes, movements and steps. We're already doing it with food - now I propose taking a look at what surrounds us."

Some designers, understandably, find that concept hard to fathom.

"Perish the thought," designer Thomas Wiggins says when I suggest the idea of winnowing down his life to fewer than a dozen objects that "spark joy." The Canadian-born Wiggins, who divides his time between an 18thcentury château in the south of France and a London pied-à-terre, is best known for creating rooms heavy with lavish textiles, art and curio collections. "One of the first things I do when designing a room is look at how to create scale, balance and symmetry. The only way to do this is by layering with beautiful objects," he says.

Wiggins has honed the act of adding, rather than taking away, since inheriting a piece of Jasperware pottery from his late mother. It set him on a path to collecting neoclassical designs on his travels - "my own version of the Grand Tour," he says. In the 1990s he ran an antique shop in Toronto, then channelled his passion for collecting into custom interiors.

"For me, it's all about creating an environment that's welcoming, comfortable and timeless," he says. "Having beautiful things in these spaces helps do this." What would you find in Wiggins's bothy? His antique wall phone, Murano-glass pendant lantern, vintage domed cigarette holder and a six-piece Spode coffee service. But Wiggins wouldn't stop at 10. He'd round up.

"Do we find irony in the fact that, as part of this mindfulness project, they will be crafting new tableware, new products, more stuff?" asks Colette van den Thillart, a designer and resolute maximalist. It's a good question for designers who advocate paring down while churning out items that are "just the solution."

Neal's experiment, says van den Thillart, "just doesn't work for me because I'm a staunch sensualist and my beautiful things are always there, loving and smiling, when I walk in the room - it's a type of aesthetic therapy. I'm also very suspicious of walking in a room with no books. In my house, books are everywhere."

She agrees with Kondo's philosophy, with one hitch: "I'm forever adding new 'joys.' " Even Neal admits his own reality is still "miles away" from the ideal. "But that's all right," he says. "I can live it for a week in a bothy and slowly build on it. I'm trying to not romanticize the ideal. It's not a dream but something nice to grab little bits of in our lives."

Fair enough, I think, with Kondo on the brain as I haul one of what will become more than a dozen joyless garbage bags out my front door. I feel better already. I'll never be quite as austere as Neal suggests, unless I throw out my family as well. But I'm mindful that at least I'm getting somewhere.

Associated Graphic

Designer Gareth Neal will install a cross-section of his simple shed at London's New Craftsmen gallery.


Designer Gareth Neal says taking a furniture-making course altered his perception of materials and waste: 'I started really questioning why I was making objects and who for,' he says. 'Could I justify the waste?'

Contouring: comely or cartoonish?
If your shopping basket at Sephora is heavier than ever, you can blame the Kardashians, Marilisa Racco writes. Traditionally reserved for stage makeup and previously left to the pros, contouring has stormed the mainstream - not to mention Instagram. But should we really be trying this at home?
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, March 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L6

By now we know there's little left on Kim Kardashian's face that counts as God-given. Not even her cheekbones. In 2012, the reality star tweeted during and after pictures of herself as makeup artist Scott Barnes applied contouring makeup to her face, effectively creating the razor-sharp cheekbones and sculpted nose that contribute to her otherworldly (read: unattainable) beauty.

And the public has been clamouring for contouring products, how-to's and tips ever since. As it turns out, in this era of transparency, we've never been more covered up with bronzer and highlighter.

"Contouring is the top requested mini makeover at the Sephora Beauty Studio in our stores, one of the top trending topics on our beauty board and one of our most popular how-to videos on YouTube," says Bridget Dolan, vice-president of Sephora's Innovation Lab.

In response to this, the Sephora to Go app is testing a fi rst-of-its-kind contouring platform in collaboration with virtual makeup tutorial Map My Beauty. Through the month of June, consumers can upload a selfie and receive step-by-step contouring instructions, including shoppable links, social media sharing capabilities and a detailed face chart that they can e-mail to themselves for future reference.

If it all sounds like a ploy to lure millennial shoppers, it is. Thanks to the rise of natural beauty selfie campaigns and the popularity of #wokeuplikethis, mastering the art of no-makeup makeup (a hot trend for spring and a look that, ironically, can involve a fair bit of contouring) has never been more in demand with this demographic.

"What most women don't know is that Kim Kardashian is wearing an insane amount of makeup," says Sheri Stroh, a Toronto-based makeup artist with Plutino Group. "I laugh when someone says, 'I love her natural look.'" Annabella Daily, founder and CEO of Map My Beauty, recognizes the intimidation factor inherent to contouring and is attempting to bridge the gap through customization.

"Contouring is one of the most challenging aspects to makeup, generally only best understood by makeup artists and professionals," she says. "We wanted to be able to break down the complexities of it by helping consumers identify how and where to apply makeup based on their own face shape and features."

Despite technology's promises of DIY perfection, however, this might be one technique best left to the masters. "A lot of the time, people just look like they have a roadmap on their face," Stroh says. "They have stripes on their cheeks, their noses look dirty, and they've used so much foundation and setting powder that they look like they've been moulded out of clay." Even the perfectly sculpted Kardashian was recently snapped at Paris Fashion Week with a conspicuous brown stripe running down the side of her nose.

Before social media made contouring a trending topic - genetically blessed actress Kat Dennings recently sent out a plea for contouring lessons on Twitter - there were ethnic celebrities who relied on the sculpting and slimming effects of contouring techniques to help them adhere to the previously established social construct that "beautiful" equated to "white."

"Contouring has been evident on ethnic celebrities for a very long time," says Jacquie Hutchinson, Revlon Canada national trainer of product and application. "Oprah, Lil' Kim and Jennifer Lopez have been doing it for years to sharpen their features and narrow their noses. Even Asians were taught to make their eyes appear rounder and less almond-shaped."

Years ago, she says, the cosmetic industry adhered to such whitewashed beauty standards, espousing the ovalshaped face, a dainty nose and big eyes as the ideal. While an African-American woman or Latina with a round face - "fat face," as the blogosphere is referring to it now, proving society still has a ways to go in social evolution - used the sculpting and highlighting techniques of contouring to slenderize her face and nose, today, Hutchinson says, Caucasians are using it to enhance and highlight what they naturally have.

Say what you will about contouring's nasty past, but its next-level transformative effect is unparalleled in the world of makeup application. The seductive allure of a cat eye or red pout doesn't hold a candle to the ability to transform a man into a woman - just ask anyone who's dabbled in drag.

Ricky Boudreau, M.A.C cosmetics trainer who also goes by the female alter ego Ultra Violet, points to classic Chinese theatre and Roman literature as the birth places of female impersonation and by extension, drag makeup.

"Queens have been using these tricks from the very beginning," he says.

"Contouring allows you to remove the man and reveal the woman by changing the shape of your face, removing the male jawline and even toning down the Adam's apple." He uses M.A.C's Studio Sculpt Powders and Studio Finish Concealers to achieve his transformation.

A quick glance at Philippines-based actor, TV host and makeup artist Paolo Ballesteros's Instagram page is enough to prove how transformative contouring can really be. For the past year, he has been altering himself into a host of different celebrities ranging from Kylie Jenner to Cate Blanchett, Reese Witherspoon and even Michelle Obama. While the success of his work is bolstered by elaborate wigs and his innate ability to mimic each celebrity's unique facial expressions, his contouring skills are what allow him to expertly jump from a baby-faced Ariana Grande to a late 1990s-era Cher - and to replicate starlets' generous cleavage using just makeup. Ballesteros told the Huffi ngton Post earlier this month that he learned to execute these expert transformations from watching YouTube videos (of course), proving that unless social media tires of the contouring trend, we will be submitted to striped and roadmapped faces for a long time to come.


'What more women don't know is that Kim Kardashian is wearing an insane amount of makeup,' says Sheri Stroh, a Toronto-based makeup artist. 'I laugh when someone says, "I love her natural look."'

Shimmery highlighter applied on the forehead, nose, cheekbones and chin makes skin gleam when the light hits it.

The combination of highlighter, applied down the centre, and contouring powder, lined on either side, slims the nose.

Dark contouring powder applied in the hollows of cheeks makes cheekbones pop.

Tracing the contours of a runaway trend

THE CELEBRITY ENDORSEMENT Though Kim Kardashian's look above calls to mind the cast of Cats, the reality star in fact posted the selfie to show off the various layers of contouring makeup applied to her face before it is blended into luminous perfection.

THE FORERUNNERS Contouring's roots lie, in part, in the advanced techniques theatre actors have been using for decades. Herman Buchman's 1971 book Stage Makeup offers p many tips for on-stage transformations.

Filipino actor and TV host Paolo Ballesteros (@pochoy_29) uses contouring to transform himself into the likenesses of various female celebrities. Drag queens, in fact, have been relying on this technique for centuries.

THE PRODUCT Retail beauty outlets like Sephora are cashing in on the contouring craze by offering special kits and how-to workshops.

THE HIGHBROW TAKE British makeup artist Alex Box recently used beauty products to recreate her favourite movements in art history. The highlights in Box's representation of Cubism recall a contoured face, pre-blending.

Associated Graphic


Selma exhibit recalls power of the press
Lynn Ball's striking 1965 photos from Alabama, though unpublished, point to the importance of a dying breed: staff photographers
Saturday, March 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A20

The elderly visitor left a short, concise comment in the guest book of the art gallery.

"Their greatest shame!"

She meant it as a compliment.

This small, sleepy arts town founded by a United Empire Loyalist - where, the owner of the gallery says, "If you walked down the street you'd be hard-pressed to find a minority" - is staging a most remarkable photography exhibition this spring that has not only much to say about the past but also a great deal to say about the present.

Selma, 1965 marks the 50th anniversary of the day an ambitious 22-year-old booked time off from his job as a darkroom technician with The Canadian Press, packed up his Konica FP 50 camera and jumped in his creaky Triumph, driving 25 hours straight to reach Montgomery, Ala. Lynn Ball arrived early, with the Selma-to-Montgomery march of late March, 1965, about to begin.

The young Canadian had become fascinated with American politics after working four consecutive shifts in the darkroom following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in the fall of 1963.

He knew that this civil-rights march, already blocked twice by unsympathetic police, would go ahead, this time with the protection of troops sent in by President Lyndon Johnson.

The young photographer found himself in the middle of a boiling racial cauldron. He was not made welcome - by the whites.

"I wasn't scared," remembers Mr. Ball. "I was too young and stupid."

Striking a deal with the wire services where he would be paid $5 for every photograph used, Mr. Ball set out to provide something different than what other photographers were shooting. He photographed a nasty, threatening march by white Montgomery men. He shot the Women's March, where white women paraded in Montgomery carrying signs saying "Keep America White" and, aimed directly at him, "Out of Our City, Agitators."

"You would not believe what came out of their mouths," Mr. Ball recalls.

He tried to file the photographs, but they were immediately stamped with a "kill order." Censoring was done right on site.

"No one moved those photos," Mr. Ball says. "The world never saw any of that. The white demonstrations never happened."

Fifty years later, proof that they did indeed happen are on display at Merrickville's little Canal Gallery. "People aren't happy when they see these pictures," says gallery owner Ted Hitsman. "It's upsetting." His guest book is littered with shocked reaction.

Mr. Ball moved on to Selma for the start of the five-day march, and there had to get accreditation stamped by the notorious sheriff of Dallas County, James G. "Jim" Clark Jr. The sheriff was loudly opposed to integration, dressed in military gear and carried a cattle prod, as well as his police-issue pistol and club. The young freelancer was able to convince the officials he should have the card.

Somewhat surprisingly, sales have been brisk at the gallery for Mr. Ball's shots of the march led by Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Abernathy and Ralph Bunche.

One particularly striking photograph has civil-rights leader Willie Ricks and a state trooper staring each other down - a picture reminiscent of the soldier-warrior standoff at Oka, Que.

The exhibition is not only a powerful reminder of how tense race relations were in the 1960s, it is a strong argument for the enduring power of great news photography.

Staff photographers are an endangered species these days.

Nearly two years ago, the Chicago Sun-Times laid off its 28-person photo staff (though later took back four, rehired as "multimedia" journalists). The Globe and Mail cut five staff photographer positions in favour of using professional freelancers. Earlier this month, the three Irving-owned New Brunswick dailies chopped their photographers. And at the end of January, Sports Illustrated - a publication basically founded on dramatic and quality photography - laid off all its staff photographers.

It's always "economic circumstances," as Sports Illustrated pleaded, but a fair question is: at what price to readers? Reporters using iPhones are not the equal of professional photographers who know what to look for and how to get it.

"It's really sad," says Mr. Ball.

"The readers are being discounted and I fear it's just another nail in the coffin. It shuts off half of the story, as far as I'm concerned."

Lynn Ball and his brother Doug have been two of the finest photographers in Canada over the past several decades. Both grew up in a house with a darkroom, and both were drilled in hard work and quality by their father, John, a former sergeant-major in the Air Force.

Lynn, working as a freelancer and with the Ottawa Citizen, and Doug, mostly with The Canadian Press, shot royal weddings and tours, Northern Dancer's races, political campaigns and sports championships. "I shot the Toronto Maple Leafs' last Stanley Cup," Lynn says. "The last one they'll ever win."

Doug was holding his camera when, during the 1974 federal election, the Progressive Conservatives' charter landed at North Bay, Ont., to refuel. To kill time, someone brought a football out.

Leader Robert Stanfield threw passes and caught passes, but it was the shot of him fumbling the ball that many analysts have claimed cost Mr. Stanfield the election.

Powerful photographs can have great influence. When astronaut and politician Marc Garneau was asked to write a forward to Life on a Press Pass, the book the Ball brothers published, he considered exactly that point: What does a good photograph bring?

What does a poor image or lack of a photograph lose?

"Like most people who pick up a newspaper," Mr. Garneau wrote, "my eye is first drawn to the picture, then to the headline and then to the text. Most of the time, the photography is mundane and totally forgettable. Occasionally, it grabs my attention like a vise and is never forgotten. In some cases, it is the story and nothing else need be said."

Mr. Garneau admires good news photographers for "their ability to sense the moment, the opportunity, the importance of something which is actually still in the future when they decide to act."

Lynn Ball seized that moment in Montgomery, never for a moment thinking it would be 50 years into the future before some of those unsettling photographs would be seen by the public.

He set out for home thinking he just might now have a career in photojournalism and wasn't really paying attention when, as he rolled into Kentucky, the speed limit suddenly dropped and the lights of a state trooper flashed in his mirror.

The trooper coldly filled out a ticket but then glanced at Mr. Ball's press pass - duly approved by "James G. Clark, Jr., Sheriff." His manner changed completely as he began telling Mr. Ball about a time when the two "good ol' boys" had worked together and what a great guy "Jim" was.

Mr. Ball did not think it a good time to argue the point. Unfortunately, the trooper said, he'd already filled out the ticket and notice would now be sent to the photographer's home in Canada.

"But don't worry about it," he said with a wink. "It's invalid the moment you cross the state line."

Associated Graphic

Civil-rights leader Willie Ricks, left, confronts a white state trooper in March, 1965.


Trapped in a down market
The Onslows were forced to sell just as the market turned and dreams of an easy sale vanished
Saturday, March 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S4

CALGARY -- In the spring of 2013, when John and Tammie Onslow put their suburban north Calgary house on the market to relocate to the inner-city, their short- and longterm buy-sell strategies seemed to be unfolding effortlessly.

The couple, in their 40s, and their two children, had been living the Rocky Ridge neighbourhood along the city's northern edge. They were tired of the daily work-and-school commute they'd done for a decade and wanted something more spacious and modern.

Mr. Onslow, a vice-president and portfolio manager of a big bank, was at the point in his career where this wish list seemed doable. His wife, an interior design consultant, worked for a building developer.

The pair settled on a 1954-era house in St. Andrew's Heights in the inner-city northwest. Seventy-year-old poplar trees cascaded the streets with views of downtown, the river and a famous tobogganing hill. It was also close to a private school for their daughter.

They plunked down $950,000 for the house and the lot - opting to tear down and rebuild a 3,200 square foot modern home in keeping with the traditional motif.

Upward markets bolstered the couple's confidence their suburban residence would sell within a year. The following month it sold for $1.3-million. Only now they were stuck; their dream house wouldn't be ready for two years.

Mrs. Onslow's employer had just built an upscale 2,000square-foot, two-storey, threebedroom, duplex in Killarney, close to downtown, in the city's southwest, which she designed.

The listing price was $900,000.

The couple got a deal for $150,000 less than asking.

Things were looking rosy. Selling in suburbia had been a breeze so, naturally, they thought, this too would be a cinch. The couple would certainly recoup the house's original $900,000 value.

And by selling presumably in mid-February, 2015, there would be only be short overlap between selling the temporary and relocating to the new build by April.

They had a trusted relationship with their real estate broker of 14 years, Len T. Wong, owner of Len T. Wong and Associates Re/Max, who had already helped the couple sell three houses. With Mr. Wong's and Mr. Onslow's combined knowledge of oil-price plays and the current upturned market, there was every reason to be optimistic. When the family bought a trampoline for their backyard, Mr. Onslow told his seemingly displeased neighbours, "Don't worry, it will be gone soon."

So when oil took a nosedive, toward the end of last year, the Onslows were gobsmacked. In every market downturn there are people who get caught in the undertow. It looked like the Onslows would be one of them.

Mr. Onslow says Mr. Wong advised him and his wife to push their Killarney listing date forward to mid-January at a starting price of $849,000 - $51,000 less than he and his wife hoped to sell it for.

He also hoped for a long closing date so "we weren't out on the street a month before our new house was ready."

Equally worrisome was the prospect of potentially having two mortgages on his hands should selling become stalled.

"Our new [house] in St. Andrews Heights is [now valued at] $2.5million so I really didn't want that plus this one in Killarney," Mr. Onslow says.

Things took a surprising turn when Mrs. Onslow arrived home from work one day in December and was "dumfounded" to see a for-sale sign on her neighbour's side of the duplex. A quick public listings check showed the house marked at $840,000, nearly $10,000 less than the Onslow's agreed-upon list price - for "the exact same square footage and layout," Mrs. Onslow points out.

"We were in shock. My wife phoned me and I think she used some swear words," Mr. Onslow says.

"I was horrified. My heart leapt into my throat. I [didn't] need competition right next to me," Mrs. Onslow says.

Mr. Wong and his clients set a new price of $839,000 "to try and undercut them," according to Mr. Onslow.

It got worse.

All of a sudden, multiple properties went up for sale in their neighbourhood. "I'm a runner and I see all these new houses popping up and they're not even listed on the MLS listings yet," Mr. Onslow says.

"Every place looked like my place - identical properties that are 1,800 to 2,200 square feet. In just one week I saw 10 new listings and only one sale."

The added sight of nearby teardowns and infill excavations contributed to his anxiety. "I said [to my wife] 'We're not going to make what we thought we were going to make.' " As his list price kept dropping, his nerves increased, especially as many of his senior management clients in the oil-and-gas industry were telling him about the growing number of layoffs in Calgary.

"I'm a numbers guy as well," Mr. Onslow says. "You always want the top dollar and I knew I wasn't going to get it. ... As time went on it just seemed to decline and my equity that I was taking out of Killarney got smaller and smaller."

The couple kept lowering their listing price to stay on par with what other homes nearby were selling for.

"We wanted to keep under everybody because we needed to sell it; we needed to have the advantage," Mrs. Onslow says.

By January the neighbours sold their adjacent duplex for $840,000.

The Onslows dropped their price to $829,000, and then further to $795,000 four weeks ago when a conditional offer finally came through.

"The whole situation irks me with what has happened to the value of the homes in Calgary," Mrs. Onslow says. "I know the value of this home. I designed it.

... We didn't get as much for it as we could have or should have."

The couple know they gambled and lost. They could have sold last year and rented a place to live in while their new home was built.

"We talked about that and we decided against it. ... I did not want to move twice and we didn't feel it was a risk. We sold so many houses and this was the one I thought would sell in a day."

She advises others in a similar situation to opt for the filler rental unit. "Do it - especially in Calgary's market - because you never know," she says.

When the conditions finally came off last week and the sale was a go, the couple was relieved.

"I put my hands up in the air, I was so happy. Our office has no walls and I [screamed] 'My house is sold!' " Mrs. Onslow recalls. "A humungous weight has been lifted."

She admits the couple's minds are already racing to the next steps: "When John came home he said, 'So should we start packing now?' "

Associated Graphic

Tammie and John Onslow reduced their asking price several times after the Calgary housing market dipped when the price of oil collapsed.


When Mrs. Onslow saw other properties in her neighbourhood go up for sale, she was shocked: 'I was horrified. My heart leapt into my throat.'

Musqueam push for rate hike
The last time rent was up for review the leaseholders went to court over the increase, and residents are readying for another fight
Saturday, March 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S6

Leaseholders living in houses on Musqueam land are bracing themselves for another major increase in their annual rents.

Musqueam Indian Band is pushing for a rent increase eight times more than what leaseholders are currently paying. That would mean the average resident would go from paying $10,000 a year to $80,000.

"Honestly, I don't know how this is going to shake out," said a resident who didn't want to be named.

At a meeting Thursday night, it was a sombre looking crowd. A few had been around for the 1995 round of negotiations, including one elderly lady who was visibly shaken by the memory.

Back then, the band had raised the rent to around $36,000 a year, or six per cent of market value. It was a big jump from the $300 to $400 a year the leaseholders had been paying for 30 years.

It erupted in huge controversy and resulted in a Supreme Court decision that took five years to resolve and cost leaseholders approximately $1.5-million in legal fees. The court ruled that rents could go as high as $10,000 and said that reserve land was not worth as much as fee simple land. The court said Musqueam land was worth half the value of non-leasehold land, and rents should be based on that value instead.

But the band disagrees with the 50-per-cent discount, and has come to the decision that an increase of eightfold is in keeping with market rates. The new amount is based on 6 per cent of the current land value. The houses in this prime section of the west side are 3,000-squarefoot houses or bigger, on quarter acre lots, or bigger.

In 1965, the land in the westernmost part of Vancouver, south of Marine Drive, was leased for 100 years to the Musqueam band by the federal government.

There are 75 parties that are subleasing houses from the Musqueam, and they've paid between $300,000 and $700,000 to buy in. On top of that amount, leaseholders pay annual rent as well as taxes, in the order of $9,000. Rents are reviewed every 20 years.

The houses are on large lots, some of them with pools, and they're close to the University of British Columbia, Dunbar and Kerrisdale. In a letter to the leaseholders, the band says, "... property value on the west side of Vancouver for single family homes in the 20 years since the last rent review have gone up by about 400 per cent."

Without a doubt, the value of those spacious houses in that tony part of Vancouver have gone up substantially in the past 20 years.

However, resale of leasehold properties can be difficult. Most people would prefer to own title to their property, while a leaseholder is only renting the land for a period of time. And by 2065, the head lease with the crown will end. As that date approaches, the subleases will likely depreciate because of the uncertainty of what could happen.

As well, there are the big rent increases, which can be a shocker for anyone on a fixed income, such as the elderly pensioners that rent there.

The fact that this is potentially the second dispute over rent increases alone could affect resale values.

"If the rents are so high that it's beyond what the cost of living in Vancouver would be, there would be no attraction to the property," says mortgage broker Rob Macdonald, who works with Invis Team Rob Regan-Pollock. The company has handled several leasehold cases.

As well, leasehold properties that aren't prepaid leases are considered a risk by lenders. And banks generally only finance leaseholds that have at least five years remaining on top of the amortization period.

"It's not as easy to arrange financing on a piece of leasehold, whether native or government lease," Mr. Macdonald says.

He says about 90 per cent of the lenders he deals with would demand the lease is prepaid in order to provide financing.

Real estate agent Tom Jones lists several current listings on Musqueam land, ranging from $658,000 to $738,000 for 4,000square-foot homes.

"Most people that purchase non-prepaid leases do so as cash buyers, line of credit or through private financing," he says on his website.

A woman at the meeting said her house had no value in 1995, as a result of the rent hike.

So why buy into a leasehold in the first place? Leaseholds work for some people because they are generally nice areas at a discounted rate.

"It would have to be discounted because of the lease nature," Mr. Macdonald says. "And they realize there is a risk to it, but if you are 65 and can own a property at a discount and still sell it, they might not get market value, but it's an alternative to renting."

The resident I interviewed had purchased their house for $500,000. If it weren't for the current negotiations under way, the house would be worth about $700,000. When they bought in, they "did the math," and figured that it was a good deal considering the quarter-acre property.

They also didn't think that when the rent came up for renewal the Musqueam band would push for a major rent hike again.

Realtors had cautioned them at the time that they could be entering into a potential mess.

"I wouldn't just warn people away from this [situation]. I would say, 'run away.' " They aren't "fat cats," one person at the meeting said. They're "renters," average people who've lived on the west side as it's undergone immense transformation. Southlands and Dunbar used to be middle-class neighbourhoods until relatively recently, and these renters are caught in the crush of a market that's gone bonkers.

The leaseholders expect to receive formal notice of their new lease rate on April 8. In the meantime, the two sides have been meeting regularly to negotiate a deal. So far, offers by the leaseholders have been rejected, including an attempt to enter into a prepaid lease.

There are about 144 homes in another parcel of the reserve that are prepaid leases, and, as a result, headache-free for those owners.

It will be interesting to see how the negotiation plays out. Both sides are looking for a "fair deal."

The problem is in defining what "fair" means in a city that has become one of the most unaffordable in the world.

"The worst case scenario [for leaseholders] would be they just walk away if they can't afford it," Mr. Macdonald says.

"Musqueam will shoot for as high as they can get, but they will have to be reasonable at the end of the day. That's what we saw 20 years ago.

"There has to be a compromise in there. The last thing they want to do is set the rates too high to the point where people move and don't pay. Then they're sitting on a bunch of vacant properties."

Associated Graphic

The Musqueam band says a rent increase of eightfold is in keeping with market rates.


Hamilton's great leap forward
Millennials and empty-nesters looking to live near a city's core are finding Steeltown a more affordable option than Hogtown
Friday, March 27, 2015 – Print Edition, Page G8

After hard knocks from a shrinking steel industry, a massive residential shift to the suburbs and the more recent 2009 recession, downtown Hamilton seems finally poised to hit its postindustrial stride.

Four major new condo projects in the city centre are selling into a market hungry for urban living at a relatively reasonable price.

Residential units in these developments (including 322 rental apartments) number 2,200. Projects in the planning or discussion stage, as well as some small buildings, will add almost 3,000 new living spaces, according to Glen Norton, manager of urban renewal for the city's economic development department.

Two other condo developments - City Square on Robinson Street and the Stinson School Lofts - lie just outside the provincially designated urban growth centre.

More than 300 new hotel rooms have been added downtown, businesses are returning and the education and health care sectors are investing in the once-derelict area. Coffee shops, restaurants, galleries, bars, boutiques and other amenities are sprouting up to serve the new urbanites, completing the picture of a promising renewal that has been a long time coming.

"The movement out to the suburbs has been reversed," says Mr. Norton, himself a downtown Hamilton condo dweller. "It's being driven by the millennials, who aren't so keen on buying a car and like to be close to their social scene. And at the other end of the spectrum are the empty-nesters.

"All of Hamilton is benefiting from the high prices in Toronto," he adds. "Across the city, about 25 per cent of sales of both new and used homes are going to people from Toronto."

Condos in downtown Hamilton have just passed the $400-persquare-foot average. In Toronto, the average price for new condos is $557 per square foot, with prices tending to rise the closer one gets to the city's core.

A second GO station under construction on James Street North - which the government has said will boost service between Hamilton and Toronto to full-day service, seven days a week - is expected to lure even more Torontonians, who may want to keep their Toronto-based jobs while taking advantage of Hamilton's livability and lower costs.

The nexus of the renaissance is The Residences of Royal Connaught, a $500-million development at the corner of King Street East and John Street South, which includes a restoration of the storied hotel and three new towers. The grand Edwardian building gets its name from Queen Victoria's son Prince Arthur, the Duke of Connaught, who laid the cornerstone in 1914.

Once the place to rub shoulders with visiting dignitaries and movie stars, the Connaught has had many owners over the years, eventually falling into receivership and closing in 2004.

By the time developers Spallacci Group and Valery Homes came on board to save it, three-quarters of the lobby ceiling was lying on the floor and the building was in dire need of repair. Happily for those working to preserve downtown's historic architecture, the long-time Hamiltonian companies - with the help of KNY Architects and interior designer Lisa Boyer - went to work restoring the building to its former glory.

For the Art Deco lobby, they sought the services of a vanishing breed of master craftsmen to rehabilitate the ornate plaster cornices, stately columns and Corinthian capitals. Flooring material added during less thoughtful renovations was removed to reveal the original white limestone floors and the addition of black granite creates a look that is at once classic and fresh. Three massive crystal chandeliers marry modern shapes with historic echoes. A baby grand piano and a cappuccino bar complete the seamless melding of old and new.

"We have so much to offer here in Hamilton in terms of arts and culture and dinning, and you can't get any more core than the Connaught," says Rudi Spallacci, proudly showing off the collaborative creation. "And there's more than 100 years of history here, so that's at big draw."

The city is providing the adjacent Gore Park with a major facelift and the rough-looking block across the street is reportedly set to be renovated by new owners.

More than 80 per cent of the 138 units in the Connaught's Phase I have been sold. In the development as a whole, prices range from $245,000 to more than $1-million for the penthouse suites. The tallest of the towers will be 36 storeys.

Other developments now on the market include: 150 Main Residential Lofts at Main and Caroline streets, by Vrancor Group Inc.; The Residences at Acclamation at 185 James St. N., by Hamilton's Roque family; and The Connolly, on James Street South, by Stanton Renaissance.

The Connolly will preserve the facade, stained glass and other features from the James Street Baptist Church, a Gothic Revival landmark built in 1882. The development, named after the church's architect Joseph Connolly, will include 259 condominium units in a high-rise tower, as well as commercial space.

"It's essential that we get this density downtown and preserve some of these heritage buildings and the way to do it is by integrating them into these larger projects," says architect Drew Hauser of McCallum Sather Architects Inc., who is working on the project. "From a social perspective it integrates them back into that walkable, livable street. Downtown will actually have people who are living there after hours, so restaurants and other businesses can survive."

Will all this development create the critical mass of urban renewal that will finally reverse downtown Hamilton's long, painful decline?

The city's Mr. Norton thinks so.

"Barring another recession or a sharp spike in mortgage rates, we're rolling and I don't see this momentum stopping," he says.

"With the desire of young people to live downtown and more baby boomers retiring, I think it's actually going to accelerate."

Mr. Hauser thinks so, too.

"People are just starting to figure out how good Hamilton is geographically," he says, noting the physical beauty of the water and the escarpment and the transportation options for businesses, as well as the city's vibrant sports, visual arts, theatre and music scenes. "We all want to be part of rebuilding our city."

Mr. Hauser is not merely making an abstract marketing pitch.

He moved from Toronto to Hamilton several years ago when he and his wife wanted to have a third child without adding the price of another bedroom to their housing costs. After commuting back into the city for a couple of years, he eventually got a job in Hamilton. Despite a demanding career and being the father of three, he was quite pleased to find himself with more money and more time.

"I was golfing again and I said, 'Wow, I've got my life back.' "

Associated Graphic

High condo prices in Toronto are helping to fuel development in downtown Hamilton, including this federal building that is being restored into a condominium called 150 Main Street.


The Connolly, a high-rise condo, will preserve the façade and stained glass from the James Street Baptist Church, which was built in 1882.

The Residences of Royal Connaught, a $500-million development, includes a restoration of the landmark hotel.

Are young men becoming collateral damage in the battle for gender equity?
Thursday, March 26, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L1

Fraternity culture doesn't have a fig leaf to hide behind these days.

I'm not making an apology for brutish, sexually violent behaviour. In recent reports from postsecondary campuses, some fraternity brothers - or "gentlebros" as they've been dubbed - sound like Neanderthals in fine wool sweaters.

At the University of Oklahoma, members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity were caught singing a racist song. At Penn State, 144 members of Kappa Delta Rho participated in private Facebook postings of "nude females that appeared to be passed out or in other sexual or embarrassing positions," according to police. One of the members, disgusted with the postings, reported them to authorities. The women were not aware that their photos were being taken. The fraternity has been suspended, and an investigation is reportedly under way.

And these stories are just the latest additions to a heaping pile of dirty frat laundry, much of it inadvertently aired by social media and surreptitious smartphone video.

But in the need to ensure there are safe places for women to be educated - which is crucial - isn't it worth asking if there can be safe places for men to gather without suspicion of being a cabal of misogynist terrorism? In the heated discussion about rape culture, the feminist voice is loudest at the moment, which makes many young men feel that their every move, every thought, is policed. Some might even suggest they're victims of misandry, if they weren't sure their complaints would fall on deaf ears.

A witch hunt, you say? Well, I won't use that loaded term, because it only serves to ratchetup the gender wars when what we need is a little calm.

That said, some of the research about fraternity culture is not kind. A 2007 study by professors at the College of William and Mary - the place, ironically, where the first Greek-letter fraternity, Phi Beta Kappa, was founded in 1776 with the motto "Philosophy is the guide to life" - found that men in fraternities were three times more likely to rape than those who weren't.

A culture of male peer support for violence against women coupled with excessive drinking practices contribute to a higher risk for sexual assault, the study found, leading some scholars to suggest fraternities should be banned. Other research has added to the alarm.

Elizabeth Armstrong and other professors at Indiana University studied the social life at a large Midwestern university for five years, producing a book in 2013, Paying for the Party, How College Maintains Inequality, and a paper on sexual assault that described how fraternities contribute to the reproduction of gender inequality.

But the assumption that all fraternities are bad has led to a rush to judgment - sometimes with embarrassing results. The most noteworthy was last year's Rolling Stone article, "A Rape on Campus," about a brutal gang rape in a room at Phi Kappa Psi house on the University of Virginia campus in 2012. After significant discrepancies in the story were revealed in subsequent reports, the magazine issued apologies. Earlier this week, after a five-month investigation, police in Charlottesville, Va., announced that they found "no evidence" that the alleged rape at the fraternity happened. In a statement that sounded attuned to the fervent anti-frat mood and the possibility of victim shaming, they said they're not suggesting that something horrible didn't happen, only that they couldn't corroborate the woman's story.

Earlier this year, when I was at Dalhousie University in Halifax to look into the dentistry faculty's ordeal, in which a group of final-year male students posted sexually violent content to a private Facebook page, I came across a story about an altercation between female students and a fraternity last year. It spoke to the heightened tension between men and women in the fraught sexual culture on campus. Kappa Alpha fraternity at King's College, which is connected to Dalhousie University, was criticized by a group of female students for being exclusionary.

The Halifax chapter of the fraternity, started in 2009, is a private organization that isn't accountable to the school because it doesn't comply with equity policies, which state that clubs and other student organizations should be open to all genders.

"I became aware that a lot of the first year [female students] in the first couple of weeks at school were being targeted by frat members while they're learning their limits with alcohol and being invited to frat parties," Bethany Hindmarsh, one of the students who wrote a letter to the King's Students' Union (KSU) about the fraternity, told me in an interview. While Hindmarsh and others canvassed opinions about the fraternity on campus to start a conversation about gender-equality issues, she says, one of the Kappa Alpha men reportedly threatened the KSU president, warning her not to interfere with their club. Several of the women were called "feminazis" by men and received sexually violent hate mail, Hindmarsh told me.

In an effort to unravel the hesaid, she-said conflict, I also talked to a current Kappa Alpha member, Ari Flanzraich, who reported that the fraternity had meetings with King's equity board in the wake of the women's complaints. "Nothing came of it," he said of the discussion.

The complaints about the fraternity "were largely theoretical and broadly social [about the idea of exclusion]." He acknowledged that the "default patriarchal white-hetero-capitalist" society prevails and that it needs to change, but he feels the "antifrat idea" is unrepresentative of what the men in Kappa Alpha at King's uphold. "We're open to talking. There is no personal animosity. What often goes on in fraternities in the States is despicable. We have no interest in that." The King's chapter of Kappa Alpha, which consists of approximately 15 friends, was set up as a literary society, he says.

Asked how rape culture pathologizes male thought and behaviour, he was cautious about making a comment for fear of how it might be misinterpreted.

"As soon as I open my mouth, I'm judged," he said. "I don't walk around thinking of myself as a sinner," he finally confessed, after some hesitation, adding that men are expected to constantly "be vigilant of their potential slippage" from politically correct actions and comments.

He's right, of course. And that's because part of the cultural discussion about fraternity culture centres around how aware men are of internalized (and normalized) misogyny.

This week, one of the Kappa Delta Rho fraternity members at Penn State wrote a defence of their society, explaining (anonymously) that "it was a satirical group. It wasn't malicious. It wasn't intended to hurt anyone."

Which clearly proves that they don't understand the impact of their - in this case, potentially criminal - actions.

But in the effort to bring about a harmonious culture of gender equity, how helpful is it to alienate all men, given that their collaboration is part of the solution? Sometimes, the cultural equation seems to be that in order for women to be raised up, men have to be put down, which is just as reductive as women being defined by their biological function - something early feminists found understandably demeaning and offensive.

Friday, March 20, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B2

How much am I bidding for that bra?

Lululemon will have much to crow about when it releases its quarterly results next week. Despite several analysts still being lukewarm on the stock, customers appear to have regained their enthusiasm for the brand and the shares are up 70 per cent from their low just nine months ago.

And fans of the Canadian "athleisure" retailer are keener than ever, so much so that they're driving a market in the resale of new and used Lululemon products, many of which were intentionally made in small numbers to increase their cachet.

Lululemon is frowning on the practice, while at the same time admitting that it may have been going too far with the whole limited-edition thing. "While we don't mind our guests [that's "customers" in normal speak] being hungry for our product, we don't want them to starve for it," chief executive Laurent Potdevin told Reuters.

But they've got a big job ahead of them to dissuade the resellers: Online auction platform eBay lists hundreds of items for sale, from dresses to pants, tops and beachwear.

A used Sandy Savasana coral/ orange bikini (size 6), is described by its Valleyview, Alta., seller as being in great condition: "Like new. Maybe worn once in a pool. That's it. Just cleaning the closet."

But before you get your hopes up, bidding on the item closed late Wednesday evening. It sold for $51.99 (U.S.).

Don't know what you're up to this weekend, but I will be rifling through the wife's gym bag and rooting around the closet in hopes of raising a little extra cash.

Singing a new song in the Greek drama

It's unlikely to be a contender for this year's Eurovision song contest, but a new tune about Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has gone viral in Germany.

In late February a German comedy show released V for Varoufakis, a heavy-metal song parodying Mr. Varoufakis. Its lyrics have been described as hilarious in some media reports, but they must have been written with a particular German comic sensibility in mind. Disclosures can confidently state they don't translate well.

Mr. Varoufakis, who is noted both for his views as an economist and his talents as a diplomat, has also taken to song to offer clear analogies to the problems facing Greece.

Noting that his country's options are constrained by its participation in the single currency, he told Bloomberg that being a member of the euro zone can be best summed up by the Eagles' Hotel California: "You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave."

At a meeting in Paris, Fortune asked Mr. Varoufakis just how dire Greece's lack of money had become. "You think too much about money," he replied, adding "As the Beatles said, 'money can't buy you love.' " Mr. Varoufakis may want to adopt a theme song of his very own. Disclosures suggests a number from Tom Petty would get his message across succinctly: Well, I won't back down No, I won't back down You can stand me up at the gates of Hell But I won't back down Here's hoping that he and the Germans come to find that music really can bring people together.

Welcome to Hotel Warren

Booking a room to attend Berkshire Hathaway's May annual meeting has become increasingly expensive over the years, with some hotels near the Omaha, Neb., venue doubling their rates or requiring guests to commit to staying several nights, even though the event lasts one day.

What to do? Well, come on over, says Warren Buffett. He's got plenty of space.

Now you won't actually be staying with Warren: The chief is just offering up his childhood home to the winner of a contest sponsored by online property rental agency Airbnb, which would allow six people to stay at chez Buffett, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The deadline for entries is April, and would-be guests are required to supply "creative answers" to questions about topics including Omaha, Berkshire Hathaway, Airbnb and their personal travel bucket list. The first question may well be the toughest: "What are you most excited to experience in Omaha?"

Burger King decides to play chicken

As the price of beef continues to soar, fast-food outlets have two choices: either pass the increased costs along to customers, or give more promotion to other items on the menu. It looks as if the big chains have opted for the latter approach, with McDonald's and Burger King bringing back items such as Chicken Selects and Chicken Fries at select locations, reports Nation's Restaurant News.

"We're seeing it across the industry," said DeWayne Dove, vice-president of risk management for Denver-based food-buying co-operative SpenDifference.

"The margins you can get from pork and poultry are advantageous, especially versus beef. The markets are more stable. And you get higher profit," he told Nation's Restaurant News.

The price of boneless chicken breast has dropped by 10 to 12 per cent this year, according to Mr. Dove.

And who decides which Burger King outlet gets the revived offerings? Step up, Gloria, a threeyear-old Rhode Island Red that is embarking on a national Random Gloria tour that kicked off in New York on Thursday. Emerging from her custom-designed coop, tour manager Jacob explains she will choose to peck food from either a yes or no bowl to decide whether a particular location will serve the coveted chicken fries that day.

The burger chain hasn't said what will happen to Gloria when the tour ends, but given the high margins for poultry products these days, it's something she best not think about for now.

A coffee headache from coast to coast

It's no longer enough to be able to create that perfect cup of coffee. Or cappuccino. Or pumpkin spice latte. The ideal barista at Starbucks should now also be a race-relations ambassador.

As The Globe's Affan Chowdhry reported on Wednesday, the ubiquitous coffee chain's well-intentioned effort to address what is often called one of the third rails of U.S. politics has blown up in its face.

Perhaps a tinge of self-righteousness hasn't helped. At the top of the website for Starbucks's campaign, the heading intones: "It began with one voice," before revealing that after recent racially charged tragedies, "the chairman and CEO [Howard Schultz] didn't remain a silent bystander." Starbucks, you're really setting yourself up for trouble with that one.

"Starbucks baristas will have the option as they serve customers to hand cups on which they've handwritten the words 'Race Together' and start a discussion about race," Fortune reports. Probably not the first thing most people dashing in for a quick cup of joe before the morning commute want to do, but never mind.

A typical reaction can be best summed up by that of PBS journalist and broadcaster Gwen Ifill, who tweeted on Tuesday: "Honest to God, if you start to engage me in a race conversation before I've had my morning coffee, it will not end well."

Haute Hiking
Feel like roughing it - to a point? Try 'champagne backpacking.' As one traveller discovers in the Andes, it offers all the adventure, with half the hassle
Special to The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, March 24, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L1

Like many people with busy careers, backpacking no longer entices me as it did in my 20s.

I still crave the thrill of roughing it, but the boundless time and energy I used to have for detailed planning - and for the trip itself - has steadily seeped away, absorbed by adult responsibilities. Just thinking of the inconveniences and unexpected hurdles that come with independent travel exhausts me.

So how can one have a real adventure without all the hassle?

The answer is "champagne backpacking" - i.e., trekking with a few added luxuries. You may not have the same vigour and freedom as in your 20s, but more disposable income means you can hire experts to customize your expeditions, smooth over wrinkles and weave in some five-star amenities. Sleeping bags are welcome, but optional.

I was introduced to the term years ago while planning an ambitious three-week trip to Tanzania. I wanted to climb Kilimanjaro - plus hike an active volcano, go on safari, sail and dive in the Indian Ocean, trek with shepherds in the highlands, tour Zanzibar and relax for a few days on a pristine beach. And I was able to do it all with the help of Africa Travel Resource, a tour agency based in England. It hooked me up with small but reputable lodges and outfitters (which provided me with all the necessary equipment and special apparel) and arranged for reliable transportation between stages.

I was able to get from point A all the way through to Z, cleaned up and well rested for each excursion. A representative at the agency referred to this unorthodox approach as "champagne backpacking," and the term has stuck with me ever since. Although I had help, the experiences on that trip were bona fide, such as the night I served soup at the base of the Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano to a young Maasai warrior hired to protect me and my makeshift campsite from nearby wildlife. (It was abundantly clear that the princely Maasai youth would not be serving me soup.) And I was able to travel on my own, free of some one-sizefits-all itinerary.

More recently, my partner and I enjoyed an unforgettable 50-kilometre trek through the Peruvian Andes. We had a short period of time away from work and, as usual, lacked the luxury to plan.

Applying the champagne-backpacking philosophy, we hired Quechuandes, a reliable trek operator based in Huaraz, a small city an hour's flight from Lima, to customize and arrange all the details. We just needed to show up with weatherproof clothing and a desire for adventure.

The result was an intimidating four-day journey - but it was far more efficient and comfortable than one we would have undertaken completely on our own.

Our odyssey through the Blanca and Negra Cordilleras, one of South America's pre-eminent trekking mountain ranges, was led by a private guide, Miguel Ochoa, and a muleteer, who transported all of our "necessities." These included a pantry's worth of food, from which Miguel prepared delicious three-course dinners every night, and a bathroom tent.

One afternoon, as we encountered a young American couple after hiking five hours in strong rain, the difference in travel approaches was obvious. Here we were, with our seasoned guide leading the way and our essentials already set up at that evening's final destination. And there they were, on their own with everything they needed weighing heavy and wet on their backs.

Awaiting us was a glorious evening spent drying out with hot mugs of tea in a sparse but fully equipped kitchen tent. Our counterparts, on the other hand, would be setting up their twoperson shelter in the cold rain somewhere. And while we enjoyed a freshly cooked meal of crushed lentil soup, sautéed trout fillets, mashed potatoes and steamed local vegetables, they were likely eating unheated food from a can.

Regardless of our comforts, however, each day of climbing and descending presented its own challenges. On the day of our highest ascent, we battled the oncoming rush of water from the peak's melting snow. As precarious as it was going up in these conditions, it proved even more dangerous coming down: We had to gingerly descend on slippery rocks, over which streamed a steady flow of water. Miguel kept a watchful eye and imparted timely tips on how to handle tricky steps - but he could not control nature.

Eschewing a group tour meant we were isolated except for occasional small herds of cows or horses. We were free to go at our own pace, taking in the breathtaking mountain ranges that surrounded us, many capped with pristine snow and ice. One of the tallest and most majestic peaks we saw is - according to some - the one that served as a model for the Paramount Pictures logo. We would not be climbing Artesonraju, of course, but when facing such powerful beauties, the mind inevitably wanders to the thought.

If you are anxious, as we were, to know what happened to the young American couple, we learned that they had made it along the trail just fine. Although we experienced many golden moments on our trek, I'm sure the more daring quest undertaken by those two intrepid travellers afforded them even more.

But, walking away with my own unforgettable experiences, it doesn't matter at all.

One last note, in the interest of full disclosure: There was never any actual champagne involved in these travels, but the point is, there's no reason there can't be.

IF YOU GO The airline LC Peru offers daily one-hour flights to Huaraz from Lima. Many formidable guest houses are available in this mountain town, most for less than $50 a night with breakfast, catering to trekkers.

(They will safely store your luggage while you go off on a multiday trek.)


Quechuandes ( is a trek operator based in Huaraz, offering a variety of mountain adventures of differing durations, levels of difficulty and group sizes. The all-inclusive costs for the four-day Santa Cruz trek is around $800 a couple if travelling without any other tourists.


If you don't want to use a tour operator, you can bring the champagne-backpacking experience to your trek. Even simple things such as taking a short inland flight once in a while, and treating yourself to upscale accommodations on occasion, can lighten the backpacking load. These short flights get you from one "it" location to the next, saving you precious hours that would have been lost to land travel.

Although nothing can replace the experience of riding a bus packed with locals and their small livestock, not every travel moment needs to be lifechanging. A proper hot shower and a pampered sleep after days of lodging in hostels are highly restorative.

Associated Graphic

It's easier to appreciate the beauty of the Andes when mules - not you - carry the gear.


The writer and her partner bask in the view of Nevado Rinrihirca from Punto Union.


With mules to heft a pantry's worth of food and a bathroom tent, trekkers can travel light and focus on the more treacherous parts of the climb.

Sex ed: A world tour
How differing values, ill-equipped teachers and the Internet are making sexual health education more controversial, everywhere
Friday, March 27, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L4

In Namibia, some teachers would hide when it was time to lead the sex-ed class. In South Africa, they would write "HIV" on the blackboard and have students mouth back what it stood for. In Nepal, one teacher tasked with sexual education was dubbed "Reproductive Sir," light fare compared to what female instructors in Kenya, Nigeria and Thailand have been called by their communities: vulgar, promiscuous and prostitutes.

Clearly, sex ed is a headache for many families beyond Ontario, where parents recently stared down Premier Kathleen Wynne's controversial new curriculum. To be implemented this fall in elementary and high schools, the modernized lessons proved divisive among moms and dads who believe sex ed should "happen at home," and those clamouring for up-to-date information doled out in school.

It's a conflict that recurs around the world, says New York University professor of education and history Jonathan Zimmerman. His new book Too Hot to Handle: A Global History of Sex Ed, a comprehensive international chronicle of sex education, traces the challenges in the developing world, as well as newer obstacles: globalization and the Internet.

"School probably isn't very well equipped to challenge the power, immediacy and volume of all the things students see on screens," Zimmerman says, pointing to the ubiquity of online porn. On top of that, he argues that teachers woefully lack pedagogical skills and parental support - two things teachers absolutely need if they're ever to deliver the kinds of ambitious and interactive sexed classes officials are envisioning.

Sex ed is now doubly contentious thanks to globalization, which has added objectors even in places often assumed to be liberal on the subject, such as Sweden. In diverse immigrant hubs, sex ed moves from being a health issue to a political hot potato: Whose morals should children subscribe to - health authorities' or their own community's?

"We have homegrown conservatives joining hands with this much larger and much newer population, with whom they agree about almost nothing except for sex ed," Zimmerman says.

"The more democratic we become, the more problematic sex ed is going to be."

So if sexual education is perpetually playing catch-up with tech, whistle-toting phys-ed coaches remain painfully ill-equipped to deliver lessons on the front lines, and parents increasingly disagree about what their kids should and shouldn't know, why are we even still trying to tackle sex through school? "I think we have to try," Zimmerman says. "Schools' job is to try to raise citizens. Especially in this media environment where some people are getting really twisted and violent ideas about sex, schools should try as best they can to address this. But they have to proceed really gingerly."

Here, a glance at how it's done outside Canada:


Considered a model of sexualhealth education, Sweden was a forerunner, mandating lessons since the 1950s. For decades, sex ed in Scandinavia has been less about scare tactics and more about "sexual self-determination," Zimmerman explains. "The goal wasn't defensive, like it so often is in North America and in the U.K. It was much more oriented toward helping the individual develop a sexual life."

Teaching sexual agency often means being more explicit. Zimmerman describes a Swedish teacher passing out condoms and urging students to experiment at home: Boys were instructed to masturbate with various types to see which they preferred and girls were told to practise opening the package. Earlier this year, a Swedish public broadcaster screened an educational cartoon featuring dancing penises and vaginas during a children's program (sample lyrics: "The vagina is cool, you better believe it, even on an old lady. It just sits there so elegantly"). In Finland, government authorities send condoms and sex-ed leaflets to all teens on their 16th birthday.


Despite its libertine image (and progressive stance on sexual and reproductive rights), Zimmerman argues that France has historically tried to sidestep sex ed because it's so intimately related to values and religion. The author traces the roots of this attitude to France's tradition of secularism: "Schools were supposed to just teach the facts.

When the sexual revolution came along and some teachers started to teach about sex ed, what the French said was you can teach plumbing - what goes where, sperm meets egg - but you can't get into discussions of the subject because that will involve values," he said. Earlier this month, the secretary of women's rights blasted French public schools for not teaching sex ed comprehensively or "equally," specifically around young women's reproductive choices. That said, the government launched lessons about combatting gender stereotypes in its schools in 2013.


Three types of sex-ed curriculums appear throughout the United States: comprehensive (medically accurate information), abstinence-based (mostly abstinence, some science) and abstinence-only. The Obama administration has scaled back federal funding for abstinence-only education, which has been heavily subsidized since the Reagan era despite evidence that it's ineffective at preventing sexually transmitted infections. But with just 22 states and Washington, D.C., legally requiring sex ed be taught in public schools, the country is only beginning to discuss healthy relationships and safe sex in tandem with waiting till marriage. With no standard, Zimmerman notes that there's enormous variation across the country's 14,000 school districts: "Sex ed in Lubbock, Texas, will inevitably look different from sex ed in Brooklyn, New York."


Sex education in Africa has largely focused on combatting the AIDS epidemic. To raise visibility, Botswana incorporated sex ed and HIV awareness materials into science, home economics and religious education; Kenya did the same through its geography, history, civics, Swahili and math classes. Still, teachers trying to convey sexual education face immense obstacles: "There's an incredible amount of anxiety and disagreement about the entire question of youth sexuality," Zimmerman says. "And teachers often have tenuous cultural and professional authority. You put those two things together and sex ed becomes massively problematic." IRAN .

Surprisingly, some of the most sexually explicit instruction occurs in Iran, Zimmerman found. Here, curriculums emphasizes "the consent and readiness of the woman" and "the enjoyment of each partner." The catch, Zimmerman says, is that Iranian authorities only promote sex within (heterosexual) marriage.

A blessing from God, "Sex is a healthy thing, sex is a vital thing, sex is a good thing, provided it's within the marital union," Zimmerman says. "The added Koranic twist is that this is a duty of the husband and the wife to each other."


The focal point in school remains academic success, with few institutions offering any sex ed at all.

Zimmerman writes about health officials doing some "corrective sex education" to stem the tide of online pornography. Sex ed here is viewed as a "fire extinguisher" against the flames of Western "sexual liberation," although many Chinese parents see the two as one and the same problem. People have taken to posting brief explanatory sex-ed videos on Youku, the Chinese version of YouTube, to help each other out. The animated shorts, one of which compares genitalia to electrical outlets and plugs, quickly went viral.

Associated Graphic

In many African countries sex ed is focused on combatting the AIDS epidemic.


Trapped in a down market
The Onslows were forced to sell just as the market turned and dreams of an easy sale vanished
Friday, March 27, 2015 – Print Edition, Page G6

CALGARY -- In the spring of 2013, when John and Tammie Onslow put their suburban north Calgary house on the market to relocate to the inner-city, their short- and longterm buy-sell strategies seemed to be unfolding effortlessly.

The couple, in their 40s, and their two children, had been living the Rocky Ridge neighbourhood along the city's northern edge. They were tired of the daily work-and-school commute they'd done for a decade and wanted something more spacious and modern.

Mr. Onslow, a vice-president and portfolio manager of a big bank, was at the point in his career where this wish list seemed doable. His wife, an interior design consultant, worked for a building developer.

The pair settled on a 1954-era house in St. Andrew's Heights in the inner-city northwest. Seventy-year-old poplar trees cascaded the streets with views of downtown, the river and a famous tobogganing hill. It was also close to a private school for their daughter.

They plunked down $950,000 for the house and the lot - opting to tear down and re-build a 3,200 square foot modern home in keeping with the traditional motif.

Upward markets bolstered the couple's confidence their suburban residence would sell within a year. The following month it sold for $1.3-million. Only now they were stuck; their dream house wouldn't be ready for two years.

Mrs. Onslows employer had just 'built an upscale 2,000 square foot, two-storey, three-bedroom, duplex in Killarney, close to downtown, in the city's southwest, which she designed. The listing price was $900,000. The couple got a deal for $150,000 less than asking.

Things were looking rosy. Selling in suburbia had been a breeze so, naturally, they thought, this too would be a cinch. The couple would certainly recoup the house's original $900,000 value. And by selling presumably in mid-February 2015, there would be only be short overlap between selling the temporary and relocating to the new build by April.

They had a trusted relationship with their real estate broker of 14 years, Len T. Wong, owner of Len T. Wong and Associates Re/Max, who had already helped the couple sell three houses. With Mr.

Wong's and Mr. Onslow's combined knowledge of oil-price plays and the current upturned market, there was every reason to be optimistic. When the family bought a trampoline for their backyard, Mr. Onslow told his seemingly displeased neighbours, "Don't worry, it will be gone soon."

So when oil took a nosedive, toward the end of last year, the Onslows were gobsmacked. In every market downturn there are people who get caught in the undertow. It looked like the Onslows would be one of them.

Mr. Onslow says Mr. Wong advised him and his wife to push their Killarney listing date forward to mid-January at a starting price of $849,000 - $51,000 less than he and his wife hoped to sell it for.

He also hoped for a long closing date so "we weren't out on the street a month before our new house was ready."

Equally worrisome was the prospect of potentially having two mortgages on his hands should selling become stalled.

"Our new [house] in St. Andrews Heights is [now valued at] $2.5million so I really didn't want that plus this one in Killarney," Mr. Onslow says.

Things took a surprising turn when Tammie Onslow arrived home from work one day in December and was "dumfounded" to see a for-sale sign on her neighbour's side of the duplex. A quick public listings check showed the house marked at $840,000, nearly $10,000 less than the Onslow's agreed-upon list price - for "the exact same square footage and layout," Mrs. Onslow points out.

"We were in shock. My wife phoned me and I think she used some swear words," Mr. Onslow says.

"I was horrified. My heart leapt into my throat. I [didn't] need competition right next to me," Mrs. Onslow says.

Mr. Wong and his clients set a new price of $839,000 "to try and undercut them," according to Mr. Onslow.

It got worse.

All of a sudden, multiple properties went up for sale in their neighbourhood. "I'm a runner and I see all these new houses popping up and they're not even listed on the MLS listings yet," Mr. Onslow says.

"Every place looked like my place - identical properties that are 1,800 to 2,200 square feet. In just one week I saw 10 new listings and only one sale."

The added sight of nearby teardowns and infill excavations contributed to his anxiety. "I said [to my wife] 'We're not going to make what we thought we were going to make.' " As his list price kept dropping, his nerves increased, especially as many of his senior management clients in the oil-and-gas industry were telling him about the growing number of layoffs in Calgary.

"I'm a numbers guy as well," Mr. Onslow says. "You always want the top dollar and I knew I wasn't going to get it. ... As time went on it just seemed to decline and my equity that I was taking out of Killarney got smaller and smaller."

The couple kept lowering their listing price to stay on par with what other homes nearby were selling for.

"We wanted to keep under everybody because we needed to sell it; we needed to have the advantage," Mrs. Onslow says.

By January the neighbours sold their adjacent duplex for $840,000.

The Onslows dropped their price to $829,000, and then further to $795,000 four weeks ago when a conditional offer finally came through.

"The whole situation irks me with what has happened to the value of the homes in Calgary," Ms. Onslow says. "I know the value of this home. I designed it. ... We didn't get as much for it as we could have or should have."

The couple know they gambled and lost. They could have sold last year and rented a place to live in while their new home was built.

"We talked about that and we decided against it. ... I did not want to move twice and we didn't feel it was a risk. We sold so many houses and this was the one I thought would sell in a day."

She advises others in a similar situation to opt for the filler rental unit. "Do it - especially in Calgary's market - because you never know," she says.

When the conditions finally came off last week and the sale was a go, the couple was relieved.

"I put my hands up in the air, I was so happy. Our office has no walls and I [screamed] 'My house is sold!' " Mrs. Onslow recalls. "A humungous weight has been lifted."

She admits the couple's minds are already racing to the next steps: "When John came home he said, 'So should we start packing now?' "

Associated Graphic

Tammie and John Onslow reduced their asking price after the Calgary housing market dipped when the price of oil collapsed.


Out with the west, in with the east
The cultural centre of the city is undergoing change, in what one expert is calling 'the great reshuffling into hipster homelands'
Saturday, March 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S7

There was a time when the lush west side of Vancouver was the city's most desirable place to live. For anyone under 40, those days are over.

The city has undergone a radical shift, with the vast majority of young people moving away from Point Grey, Dunbar, Kerrisdale, South Granville and other west side neighbourhoods. They've migrated to the more exciting urban centres, and not just for reasons of affordability. It might have been the initial reason, but now the younger cohort is choosing the east side for its livability and charm.

In those neighbourhoods, professionals, artists, designers, students and young families are revitalizing neighbourhoods. The cultural centre of the city has shifted.

"The numbers indicate that there are people clearing out of the southwest sector of the city," says Andy Yan, adjunct professor of planning at University of B.C.

"You could call this the great reshuffling into hipster homelands."

His numbers show that the area south of Broadway and west of Main Street to UBC saw a 15 per cent decline in 25 to 39 year olds.

Metro Vancouver grew by 16 per cent. But that was data from 2001 to 2011. In the past five years, the number of properties that are valued at over $5-million has tripled.

That would mean an even further drop in the number of young people shifting from west to east.

A map of Mr. Yan's data shows an overwhelming concentration of that cohort in the entire east side as well as the downtown east side, the west end, downtown, throughout Mount Pleasant and along the Broadway corridor.

It's an important demographic, a time in life when people establish their careers and family lives.

Young professionals and families revitalize a neighbourhood. They have a direct cultural impact on a neighbourhood. It's no wonder the vast majority of cutting-edge restaurants, galleries and shops are on the east side.

Real estate agent Keith Roy, 33, is catering to the east side client who would have once chosen to live on the west side. But the west side, he says, has lost its cool.

"These buyers are accountants, lawyers, engineers, doctors, tech people and management consultants, and they are double income.

So you get two people making six figures," he says. "But they don't want to be on the west side any more. They want to be between Fraser and Cambie, they want Main Street, and if they can afford it, they want Douglas Park. And they're going further east.

"I don't get clients who say, 'I wish I could live on the west side.' They're not interested in the west side. It doesn't have the cachet for this type of buyer."

Samuel Baron, 29, is typical of Vancouver's young demographic.

He's urban - as in, not interested in driving anywhere. That means he wants his job, his entertainment and his shopping within walking distance. Gastown suits those needs. Mr. Baron, who holds a Master's in Urban Planning, works at Emily Carr University. He can't yet afford a down payment on a condo, so for the past two years he's happily lived in a 240-square-foot microsuite in Burns Block. He pays $1,000 a month, which includes WiFi.

"The only way this living situation works is the fact that it's dense, and I can reach urban amenities on foot. I have absolutely no desire to get into my car to get groceries," Mr. Baron says.

"I don't see the appeal of that living arrangement. I honestly just stop to get groceries on my way home. I stop every second or third day."

He cycles around the seawall, and he spends time in Mount Pleasant. Occasionally, he'll venture to the west side for baseball or a bike ride along Point Grey Road.

He came from Edmonton and was initially surprised at Vancouver's urbanity.

"When I moved here, I was surprised to see more families in apartments. I think we'll see more of that."

In a city where everybody obsesses over land values, a key component of quality life gets lost in the mix. Investors aside, most people want community and livability as much as they want their home to have high resale value.

For some, community trumps all.

Keri Guelke grew up in Point Grey but she says she wouldn't want to live there again - even if the houses became magically affordable. Her father still lives in Point Grey, but he is thinking of moving into her large, comfortable east side house near Commercial Drive. She says the west side can't compare to the east side when it comes to livability.

"I wouldn't live on the west side because I've never experienced such great community since I moved to the east side," she says.

"I know all my neighbours, and we look out for each other. When my twin boys were born, I got dinners delivered to my house for three months straight, from neighbours and friends.

"People don't seem to know their neighbours [on the west side] anymore."

Tina Oliver is a real estate agent who used to work at city hall for former mayor Philip Owen. She grew up on the west side and now lives north of Fourth Avenue near Waterloo in a big Arts and Crafts house. Her kids, however, prefer the east side, and not just because of affordability, she says.

"Main Street is the new Dunbar.

That's where all the young babies and strollers are, and the charm," Ms. Oliver says.

A big part of the problem is that the west side has lost a lot of its character because of relentless demolitions, fuelled by a demand for bigger houses. The insatiable appetite of the global real estate market has had a significant impact. Since 2005, nearly 9,000 demo permits for residential buildings have been issued in Vancouver. An average of three houses a day are torn down, and the majority are west side character houses around Dunbar-Southlands.

In response, the city issued a late-in-the-day temporary demolition moratorium on First Shaughnessy character houses.

All other houses built pre-1940 are supposed to be recycled up to 90 per cent. They are also looking into upgrading the extremely outdated heritage registry, which was always far from comprehensive.

"The Heritage Action Plan is a good thing, but it's too little, too late," Ms. Oliver says. "The west side is destroyed."

Mr. Yan wonders what the future looks like for west side neighbourhoods, if they continue to lose their young demographic.

And there's no reason to think they won't.

"It's a really interesting population dynamic," he says. "It's basically how certain neighbourhoods are losing their diversity, while others are gaining.

You want diversity, and along with that, you want community.

"We have to wonder what the west side will look like as it loses this aspect."

Associated Graphic

Samuel Baron, 29, lifts the murphy bed out of the way in his Burns Block microsuite on West Hastings Street. 'I can reach urban amenities on foot,' he says.


Court ruling could send odorous private grow-ops up in smoke
Wednesday, March 18, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A1

There were days when David Kralik would arrive at his landscaping and snow-removal business in Mississauga and stay just a few minutes - the heady odour of marijuana from the grow-op next door was too powerful.

"You open the door to come in, go into my office, and I just sit down, fire up the computer and - " He lets out an expletive. "And you just leave. It's that bad."

Mr. Kralik couldn't call the police to complain about the growop, or another in the same building, because they're both legal and under federal jurisdiction.

Across the country, the operators of private but legal medical marijuana grow-ops have drawn the ire of their neighbours. Mr. Kralik says he may have to move out if things don't improve; others have complained that living or working next to a grow-op has negatively affected their business and property values.

But they could soon enjoy clean air again as the days of private medical marijuana grow-ops could be numbered.

A federal court in British Columbia is hearing a case that could shut down all private growers. The federal government replaced this method of growing with large commercial operations in 2013 and 2014, but a court injunction has allowed the smallscale producers to continue. The growers, who have licences from Health Canada to produce marijuana for their own medical consumption, have argued that the pot they produce is much cheaper than what they'd pay commercially. While neighbours to the four GTA grow-ops The Globe and Mail looked at said they don't have a problem with them in principle, they would prefer that they were housed in rural or industrial areas.

The ruling in the federal case - in which four B.C. residents allege their constitutional rights were violated by the federal government when the personal-use grow-op program was shut down - isn't due until the end of the year. Until then, neighbours to private grow-ops are seeking other ways to deal with these federally regulated facilities. Last week Mississauga City Council passed a bylaw that makes it the first municipality in Canada to give city officers powers to police private growers to some extent, a model that other GTA municipalities are considering replicating.

Reto Guenter, whose auto-body shop is in the same building as Mr. Kralik's and the two growops, says he has no issues with the growers, whom he has met.

He said the smell does come into his shop occasionally, though, and believes the growers need a new ventilation system to keep the smell from leaving their units.

"Do people come in and say, 'Did a skunk blow up in here?' Well, yeah," Mr. Guenter said.

But the smell may soon disappear if the growers don't comply with the new bylaw in Mississauga. The bylaw requires those who operate medical-marijuana growops to obtain a $250 licence (which comes with an annual renewal fee of $200). An inspection by the city's fire department and electrical safety authority are part of the licensing process. Officials are aware of two private grow-ops in the city - the two in Mr. Kralik's building. Across Ontario, 6,077 individuals were granted licences to produce medical marijuana for themselves or for someone who needs it, according to Health Canada data from March, 2014, when the program stopped issuing licences.

Mississauga city staff have sent notices to the two growers in town informing them about the municipal licence. If they fail to get one, the city will take legal action, said Mickey Frost, director of enforcement. The growers and the property manager for the building in which they operate could not be reached for comment.

Placing municipal scrutiny on private grow-ops is a step Vaughan Councillor Sandra Yeung Racco hopes her city will soon adopt.

She didn't know a medical marijuana grow-op was operating in her ward until a resident, whose business is next door to it, made a complaint about the smell. Police and fire officials have checked out the space and an investigation by city staff is "ongoing," Ms. Yeung Racco said.

"We at least should know where they set up these units," she said.

"It's better that we know and have some sort of regulation rather than having people just setting it up anywhere."

Mario Bottoni, who complained about the Vaughan grow-op, says he has lost business and has had to run his maintenance company for the past three months out of alternate locations because the smell is so overpowering. He said one of his employees has refused to come in due to the smell, and he himself can only stand it for about 30 seconds, even when wearing a mask.

A reporter who visited the site last week spoke to two employees who work at another business beside the grow-op, both of whom said they had smelled marijuana in their unit before, but only on occasion and in certain parts of the unit. The reporter could not detect the odour on that day.

The building's property manager, Rocco Rampino, said after receiving complaints about the smell, he asked the owner of the unit (who rents the space out to a grower) to improve the ventilation system, which he says has been done. An attempt to contact the grower was unsuccessful.

For Paul Calandra, parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister, no municipal intervention should be necessary to set residents at ease - he hopes the federal court case will permanently shut down all private grow-ops in the country. He says the overwhelming volume of applications for commercial production suggest prices will eventually come down for pot from large-scale growers.

"I certainly have no patience or tolerance for people who will suggest we need to expand residential grow-ops," Mr. Calandra said.

"I think this will obviously be an election issue."

He's taken a particular interest in the issue because a residential grow-op in his Oak Ridges-Markham riding is located across the street from an elementary school.

On a recent weekday afternoon as school let out, the smell of marijuana hung in the air a few blocks away and was especially pungent on the street where the house was located. The Globe was unsuccessful in reaching the grower.

Bric Williams says for the past two years since the house was built, his children's clothes have had the smell of pot baked into them - they attend the school.

The pungent smell permeates his car's interior, just in the few minutes he idles outside when he picks his kids up.

"In the summertime, you have your windows open and your vehicle reeks," he said. "I'm sure if I drove away from here and got caught for speeding or something, the cop would think that I was smoking in the car."

Last month, Mr. Calandra held an open house at the school to discuss the issue. Frustrated parents and neighbours aired their grievances about the smell and associated health concerns, Mr. Calandra said, but he tried to help them understand "not to confront [the homeowner]. He's doing what he's allowed to do."

Nigeria's path to true democracy
African state set to become latest example of the continent's changing political landscape
Saturday, March 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A19

ABUJA, NIGERIA -- For months, powerful factions in Nigeria's ruling party have been campaigning relentlessly against the chairman of the national election commission. In garish full-page advertisements, they attacked his credibility and competence, accusing him of plotting against them and even using cartoon caricatures to mock him.

Yet as millions of Nigerians head to the polls for a historic election on Saturday, electoral chief Attahiru Jega appears to have survived the onslaught - and so has Nigeria's young democracy, so far at least. The election could be the fairest in Nigerian history, thanks largely to Mr. Jega's courage and independence.

The election is seen as the most closely contested in Nigeria's modern era, and the first with a legitimate chance of an opposition victory. If the voting is free and fair, and if the results are accepted, it will be a major victory for African democracy as the continent enters a crucial 18-month testing ground.

Across the continent, autocrats are seeking to extend their power, using a range of dubious tactics to entrench their dominance. But in a growing number of countries, Africans are resisting their rulers, using street protests and the power of the ballot box to defend and revive democratic ideals.

It began in Senegal in 2012, after then-president Abdoulaye Wade used a controversial court ruling to seek a third term in power. People took to the street in protest, and defeated him at the polls. He was obliged to step down.

In October, the rebellious mood spread to Burkina Faso where former military-coup leader Blaise Compaoré had held power for 27 years. When he sought to amend the constitution to extend his rule, thousands of angry citizens took to the streets, finally forcing him to resign. The uprising sent shock waves across Africa.

From now until late 2016, democracy will be tested further.

The election in Nigeria is the first challenge, but equally difficult tests are expected in Burundi, Rwanda, Benin and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its neighbour, the Republic of the Congo. In each country, presidents are positioning themselves to seek a third term in power, often in defiance of constitutions or other agreements.

Yet there is resistance to these schemes - an often surprisingly strong resistance - partly as a ripple effect from the Burkina Faso uprising. It's too early to call it an "African spring." But democracy seems to be spreading.

Two of the biggest battles are now under way in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, countries that have emerged only recently from years of civil war.

Both countries have a history of political violence and repression, yet protesters have braved the dangers in unprecedented street rallies. The protests in the DRC capital of Kinshasa, which led to dozens of deaths in clashes with police, were so strong that the government shut down the nation's entire Internet and cellphone text messaging services for three weeks in an effort to crush the unrest.

"These are massive, landmark events," said Stephanie Wolters, a Central Africa expert at the Pretoria office of the Institute for Security Studies, an Africabased think-tank. "It's no longer business as usual. There's a revitalization of the importance of elections. There's a reconnection between people and politics, and people believe they have a voice. And that's new."

Even in the Republic of the Congo, where the authoritarian regime rarely permits protests, the government was so worried about protests that it imposed a curfew in the capital, Brazzaville, during a key African soccer tournament match. It was afraid that any soccer gatherings would turn political.

"Burkina Faso is on everyone's mind," Ms. Wolters said. "It has changed the game in many ways. Presidents have to keep it in mind now."

Indeed, a visit this month by pro-democracy activists from Burkina Faso and Senegal seemed to enrage DRC President Joseph Kabila who has been quietly manoeuvring for a third term. When the activists held a press conference in Kinshasa, his police raided the event and arrested 30 people including activists, journalists and a U.S. diplomat.

In Nigeria, democracy has been slowly building momentum. For most of their modern history, Nigerians were ruled by colonial masters or military commanders. Democracy was not restored until 1999, and since then it has been tainted by widespread corruption, votebuying, ballot-box-stuffing, election violence and intimidation.

But polls show that Nigerians still strongly support democracy.

A survey released this month by the Afrobarometer research project, based on face-to-face interviews with 2,400 Nigerians, found an overwhelming 65 per cent support democracy while only 21 per cent say that nondemocratic forms of government can sometimes be better.

The same poll found that most Nigerians interviewed are dissatisfied with their own democracy. Most don't trust their leaders and are convinced that their politicians are corrupt, and only 39 per cent approve of President Goodluck Jonathan's performance.

But this doesn't diminish their support for democratic ideals.

For example, 75 per cent said the president should be limited to two terms in office, and 60 per cent said the president must always obey the laws and the courts.

Another poll this year, conducted for the Washingtonbased International Foundation for Electoral Systems, found that 79 per cent of Nigerians surveyed planned to vote in the presidential election. It also found strong majorities in support of the electoral commission, headed by Mr. Jega.

So when the ruling party factions attacked Mr. Jega and sought to depose him, the tactic failed. Most Nigerians supported him.

Mr. Jega, a respected scholar and professor who opposed Nigeria's military regime in the 1990s, has led the electoral commission for the past five years.

In one of his most crucial moves, he used fingerprinting technology to get rid of duplicate registrations by voters who had illegally registered multiple times in ballot-stuffing schemes.

By the time he finished, the commission had eliminated a stunning total of nearly five million duplicate names from the voter rolls. He also helped introduce new voting cards and electronic card readers to further reduce the chances of electoral fraud.

The trends aren't so positive everywhere in Africa. Many authoritarian rulers have maintained their grip on power for decades, including those of Angola, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Chad, Eritrea and Equatorial Guinea. Elections in Sudan in April and in Ethiopia in May will be tightly controlled by the ruling party, with no real opposition permitted. Rwandan President Paul Kagame is believed to be preparing for constitutional changes to give himself a third term, and little resistance is expected there either.

But in the place where it all started, Senegal, there was another democratic breakthrough this month. Rather than extending his rule, President Macky Sall is actually reducing it. He announced a referendum that would authorize a shortening of his term in office, from seven years to five years.

"Have you ever seen presidents reduce their mandate?" Mr. Sall said at a news conference. "Well, I'm going to do it."

Associated Graphic

Volunteers check their voting locations in Yenagoa, Nigeria, on Friday in anticipation of the country's historic election.


One giant leap for building design
The staircase has become central to a building's form and function - providing both beauty and a venue for social interaction
Thursday, March 26, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L4

As you walk into the broad lobby of George Brown College's Waterfront Campus in Toronto, squarely in front of you is a flight of stairs. It offers an enticing route upward along a wall of glass, overlooking a park and Lake Ontario. The message is clear: You can ascend under your own power, and it will be pleasant.

This vertical campus, designed by KPMB Architects and Stantec Architects, shows how the stair - a basic element of architectural grammar that had long been demoted to a secondary role - can again be of central importance. In public buildings and office buildings, architects are being asked to encourage social interaction, provide incentives to healthy behaviour and form complex, beautiful spaces. Stairs are where these aspirations come together.

At the Waterfront Campus building, which houses four health-sciences programs, "the stairs are much more than stairs," says Michael Moxam, vice-president of Stantec and one of the project's lead designers. "They encourage a vertical flow from the city and the campus upward into the building, and they're a visible, strong alternative to the elevator." Thirty or even 10 years ago, the only stairs in a building like this would have been hidden away, windowless and designed as a fire escape.

The elevator would have been front and centre. It was more than 100 years ago that the invention of the elevator helped buildings to stretch vertically into skyscrapers; but in the second half of the 20th century, that useful innovation became a modern convenience that we couldn't refuse.

Part of the shift was visual and spatial. The elevator took over the place of pride, at the centre of major public buildings, that the grand stair had once occupied. In pedestrian-friendly places, this can have a certain logic. Mies van der Rohe's Seagram Building on New York's Park Avenue combined the elevator lobby with an exterior piazza where people could be seen, if not linger. That model travelled to many buildings in business districts the world over.

But the elevator took over the suburbs, too, even in three- or four-storey office parks. By the 1970s, North Americans going to work became accustomed to a sequence of leaving their cars and rising - either from the parking garage or from the door to the parking lot - without ever climbing a step.

The rule of the elevator is now under threat. The growth of employment in inner cities has led to a crop of new office and institutional buildings, which reflect a renewed emphasis on pedestrian activity and street life.

The George Brown building is one of these; it was developed to help revitalize an area of Toronto's waterfront that largely had been underused. Pedestrian activity is a sign of urban vitality, and tall buildings are required on central sites such as this one. "This reflects the expansion of educational buildings from three- or four-storey buildings to a higher and denser scale," partner Bruce Kuwabara of KPMB explains.

The stairs snake upward through a series of open lobbies with seating, inviting students to linger. Interdisciplinary thinking is an explicit goal. At the top is a pair of so-called "learning landscapes," two-storey-high rooms that are part-stair and part-amphitheatre. In each, the walkable stairs run upward alongside wider, deeper steps suitable for sitting. These resemble the Spanish Steps in Rome; Kuwabara calls them "stadium seating." On a recent visit, I saw students hanging out, studying in groups, and looking out at the fine views over the adjacent park and lakefront.

When the main bookstore at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver was renovated, architect Office of McFarlane Biggar sought a similar quality. The bookstore sits slightly below ground, so the architects created a plaza outside to draw students - and then its own set of Spanish Steps just inside. "The steps provide a comfortable place for social interaction," says architect Steve McFarlane. Together, the stair and plaza provide opportunities for programmed activities or for just hanging out.

There is also a clear case that those students will enjoy their own gains in wellness. Studies have shown that awareness campaigns - such as stickers and posters coaxing people to use the stairs - can influence their behaviour, with modest but real payoffs in aerobic fitness. To be sure, elevators have an essential role for those with mobility issues, and accessibility regulations have become tighter in many jurisdictions. But for others, walking is simply healthier. With this objective in mind, the Center for Active Design, a U.S. non-profit, encourages building designers to make stairs visible, prominent, attractive and available for use between adjacent floors of high-rise buildings.

In the recently completed the Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Diamond Schmitt Architects put all of those strategies to use. The building combines a four-storey public area, which houses conferences and meetings, topped by 17 floors of lab space.

The lobby's main feature is a grand stair that sits at the corner of the building and ascends four storeys from street level. From outside, it is clearly visible from both adjacent streets through the building's glass façade: It is a stair as showpiece. Its broad, shallow stone steps are comfortable underfoot. Visitors use them, too. In a few minutes, I saw scores of people climbing up while placing their hands on the solid oak railings. Some lingered on an "amphitheatre," the building's own set of Spanish Steps.

Many of them, one morning, were headed for the third floor's public-event space or the adjacent auditorium. But hospital staff also use the stairs, proceeding across a pedestrian bridge on the third level into the adjacent building and beyond. Diamond Schmitt's Mike Szabo, the firm's principal-in-charge on the project, calls it "the path of least resistance," and that is by design.

While elevators sit at the centre of the building, the stair "is the most efficient and effective way to get around," he says. The route via elevator is deliberately more circuitous.

Upstairs, the laboratory spaces are divided into "neighbourhoods" of two or three levels, each around an atrium that includes a broad, curving window that punctures the façade. These aimed to address the main architectural challenge, Szabo says, which was this: "When you put a facility of this size in high-rise format, how do you give it any kind of connectivity?" The answer, once again: stairs. The lab levels are connected by attractive, curving stairs, each of which is lined with a wall of glistening Venetian plaster. Moving from the 21st floor down to the lower lounge, it was hard not to savour the view over the city, the silky texture of the wall under my hands - or to imagine how much I would be missing by taking the elevator.

Associated Graphic

Clockwise from top: George Brown College's Waterfront Campus in Toronto; the lobby of the Peter Gilgan Centre for Research and Learning at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto; the main bookstore at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.


Rhubarb that grows in dark barns through the winter is tart, fresh and local, writes Chris Nuttall-Smith. The only problem is that nobody knows it exists
Wednesday, March 25, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L1

The ground was frozen as hard as pavement around Lennox Farm last week - you would never guess that just past the dirty snowdrifts and the detritus of yet another brutal winter, it looked a lot like mid-June inside the property's barns.

Bill French, a fourth-generation farmer, cracked open one of the barns' doors to reveal an enormous darkened cavern, all black except for a shimmer of pale yellow just above the floor. As our eyes adjusted, it became a field of colour, phosphorescent yellow leaves giving way to soft pinks and livid reds - row after row of top-grade rhubarb, growing as if by magic in the dark.

I pulled a long, thin stalk and took a bite, anticipating rhubarb's usual rush of eye-watering sourness. But this rhubarb was only as tart as a Granny Smith apple, and with an all-encompassing burst of that early-summer rhubarb flavour that tastes like a long, lazy picnic out in the sun.

The words "fresh and local" may ring like a twisted joke through much of Canada's winter, but now here it was, a halfacre field of any hungry homebaker's fever dreams. "We've been harvesting this barn since February," French said.

They'll get 4,500 kilograms from this single space before starting the harvest in their other two barns. The story of how you grow rhubarb in the dark in the dead of a Canadian winter has nothing to do with some sort of cutting-edge agricultural innovation, or specialty seeds developed in a genetics lab.

Forced winter rhubarb, as it's called, is viable from early January through May each year.

Until the 1960s, it was a common sight in grocery stores and green markets across much of Canada; there were more than 60 winter-rhubarb growers in Ontario alone.

These days, even as interest in eating local produce is soaring, most consumers ignore local rhubarb until it's warm outside - if they even know it exists at all.

"I've been doing this long enough to know not to grow too much until Easter," French said. "In people's minds, it's a spring crop."

Every fall, Bill and his son Brian French dig up ordinary two-year-old rhubarb roots from their fields outside - roots that have spent their lives soaking up energy from the sun as well as nutrients from the soil.

The farmers lay the roots and the clods of soil they come with onto their barns' floors. Come the end of December, they flip on the heat in the first barn, to warm it to 10 degrees.

They start a second barn a few weeks after that, and the third barn another few weeks later.

(The barns are well-insulated.)

The heat forces the roots to expend all that stored energy into pushing up leaves and stalks; it usually takes about five weeks for the bare roots to transform into fully grown stems.

The darkness, though, is what makes forced winter rhubarb taste like an idealized version of the summer stuff. Without sun to activate the vegetable's chlorophyll - yes, rhubarb is a vegetable, not a fruit - it doesn't develop the typical sour green and bitter tastes. Even on its insides, most forced rhubarb isn't green at all, but red instead.

Bill French's great-great-grandfather came over from England in the 1850s and started a market garden just west of downtown Toronto, with rhubarb as a specialty. Rhubarb was newly popular both here and in Britain, thanks in part to the cheapness and availability of refined sugar.

Before long-haul shipping, it was sometimes called "the lemon of the north." French can still rhyme off the names of the forced-rhubarb growers who worked at the peak of the crop's popularity in the 1960s.

Between Christmastime and Easter in Britain, there were special nightly "rhubarb express" trains that would ship tons of the stuff from Yorkshire into London's shops.

The energy crisis pushed many Canadian farmers out - it got too expensive to heat the barns. Changing demographics meant that many new immigrants to Canada didn't have a taste for rhubarb, and long-haul shipping and refrigeration filled grocery produce bins with other fresh fruits throughout the winter.

Today, there are just two forced-rhubarb growers in Ontario, French said. Though I heard of growers in Quebec, I wasn't able to find any. One of the province's largest rhubarb producers, based in SaintÉtienne, shuts down completely every winter, and a manager there said they didn't know of any other companies producing it.

In British Columbia, forced rhubarb is often available through the winter (I saw it on Granville Island a few weeks ago), but is sourced mainly from growers in Washington State, French said.

When I spoke these past few weeks with people who work in food, mentioning that I was writing about local winter rhubarb, many of them were flummoxed.

"Does it get shipped from Belgium?" one of them asked. At least it's available if you know what it is and where to look.

Sobeys stores in Ontario start ordering it in March, Bill French said, and then the other grocery chains come on later in the season. ("The chain stores all call it 'greenhouse rhubarb,' because nobody believes it's grown in the dark," he said, laughing.)

It's often available at Chineserun grocers (rhubarb is a common ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine), as well as at gourmet stores and some farmers' markets. It's been available at Toronto's St. Lawrence Market for a few years.

A couple of days after visiting the Frenches, I rolled out two double crusts worth of butter pastry and started chilling them as I turned my attention to the fruit.

I had brought home half a case of rhubarb - about two kilograms worth - and planned to turn it into pie. I washed and chopped it before adding brown and white sugar (forced rhubarb usually needs just half to twothirds as much sugar as the outdoor crop), and arrowroot powder to thicken it, as well as ground cardamom, ginger, allspice and a couple of dashes of Angostura bitters.

The pies came out bubbling and properly sticky: pastel pinkish red except for the darker spots where the filling had caramelized on top.

I brought one of them to a dinner party last Saturday. All the eyes around the table popped wide when I brought it out.

"Where did you get rhubarb in March?" everybody asked.

Associated Graphic

In the 1960s, there were more than 60 growers of forced-rhubarb in Ontario. But interest in the crop has dwindled, and today Bill French of Melanchon is one of two.


Top: Bill French, right, and his son Brian, left, examine some of the thousands of young rhubarb seedlings on Lennox Farm in Shelburne, Ont., earlier this month. Above left: Brian, left, and Bill examine their crop, which they grow during the winter in heated barns.


Career excellence awards announced
Artists from Toronto and Montreal represent largest bloc of $25,000 prize winners in Governor-General Awards
Tuesday, March 24, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L2

Eight veterans of Canada's visual and media arts world - three women, five men - are this year's winners of the GovernorGeneral's Awards for career excellence in the visual and media arts. The names of the winners, each of whom receives $25,000, were announced Tuesday morning by the Ottawabased Canada Council for the Arts, the awards' administrator.

Artists from Toronto and Montreal represent the single biggest bloc of winners, with three laureates from each city.

The other two are from Victoria and Winnipeg. All the winners, chosen by a nomination-peer jury process, are scheduled to attend a reception April 8 at Rideau Hall in Ottawa hosted by Governor-General David Johnston. Examples of their work are to be presented April 9 through Aug. 30 at the National Gallery in Ottawa. The GGAVMAs have been handed out annually since 2000.

As has been the case from its inception, the laureates reflect the eclectic nature of contemporary art production and related endeavours.

Louise Déry (born 1955) has had a distinguished career as a curator, writer, editor and researcher.

Director of the Galerie de l'Université de Québec in Montreal since 1997, she's also been curator of contemporary art at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec in Quebec City. She's been on the faculty of Montreal's École des arts visuels et médiatiques and the Banff Centre. In addition to mounting exhibitions in Canada by the likes of Manon De Pauw, 2012 Sobey Prize-winner Raphaëlle de Groot and Jana Sterbak, a 2012 G-G Visual Arts laureate, Déry has organized shows of Canadian artists in France, Spain, Turkey and the United States, among others. In 2007, at the Venice Biennale, she curated the installation of David Altmejd's muchdiscussed The Index and The Giant 2 at the Canadian pavilion.

An Anishnaabe Saulteaux, Robert Houle (b. 1947) spent 12 years in residential schools in Manitoba. He then went on to earn a BA in art history from the University of Manitoba and an arteducation degree at McGill before studying painting and drawing in Austria. In 1977, he was named the first curator of contemporary aboriginal art at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau (now the Canadian Museum of History), a position he held until 1981. As a painter, his work has been collected by the Art Gallery of Ontario, Phoenix's Heard Museum of Native Cultures and Art and the National Gallery of Canada, among others. A critic and writer, he also taught at the Ontario College of Art and Design University in Toronto for 20 years. In 1992 he co-curated in Ottawa the exhibition Land Spirit Power: First Nations at the National Gallery.

Winnipeg-born, Toronto-based Micah Lexier (b. 1960) is known as a puckish conceptualist who's worked in a variety of idioms including sculpture, installation art, photography, video and text.

In the past 30 years he's had more than 100 solo exhibitions, appeared in an estimated 200 group shows, accepted numerous commissions and been collected by the NGC, the AGO and the Vancouver Art Gallery. In 2013, Toronto's Power Plant, Canada's most influential avantgarde institution, hosted a 15year survey of key works in the Lexier oeuvre titled One, and Two, and More Than Two.

Known for his collegiality and collaborative spirit, Lexier used the retrospective to present a companion exhibition of 221 works by more than 100 fellow Toronto creators.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (b. 1967) likes to say he's spent the past 25 years "making artwork that is at the intersection of architecture and performance art." With the help of 10 assistants at his Montreal studio, the Mexicanborn Lozano-Hemmer has concocted ambitious, multimedia "platforms for public participation" in locales as varied as Toronto, Philadelphia, Santiago, New York, Basel and Mexico City, bearing titles such as Pulse Front, Vectorial Elevations and 33 Questions per Minute. Two-time resident artist at the Banff Centre, he has a BSc in physical chemistry from Concordia University and won, in both 2002 and 2005, the BAFTA British Academy Award for Interactive Art.

Toronto native Paul McClure (b. 1967) is the 2015 winner of the Saidye Bronfman Award, established in 1977 to honour excellence in the fine crafts. A jeweller, McClure is known for his interest in what he calls "microbiological forms" - works made from traditional materials such as gold, pearls and silver, that interpret the body at the cellular level "to reflect our humanity in this era of medical and biotechnological advancement."

His work has been shown internationally and collected by such institutions as the Canadian Museum of History and Montreal's MFA. He is currently a professor in jewellery at George Brown College's Centre for Arts & Design.

Born in Baltimore, Sandra Meigs (b. 1953) has lived in Canada since 1973 and been based in Victoria for the past 22 years, where she's a professor of visual arts at the University of Victoria. She's (mostly) a painter informed by eclectic influences and varied intentions, and her works, "vivid, enigmatic," are sometimes small, sometimes large. A 2013 mural, Red. 3011 Jackson. (Mortality), for example, spans more than seven metres. Writing in 2001, critic John Bentley Mays observed that Meigs "thinks critically about everything," including painting and thinking, and he called her art "a psychological and philosophical probe" of age-old topics - "the body, light and darkness, storytelling."

Multidisciplinary. That's the only word to describe the creative output of Montrealer Rober Racine (b. 1956). In a career spanning more than 40 years, he's been a visual artist, composer, novelist, broadcaster, choreographer, Web artist, academic, documentary-maker, performer and mixer of media. For 1980's Terrain de dictionnaire A/Z, Racine painstakingly clipped 55,000 individual entries from two editions of the Dictionnaire Robert, then glued them onto tiny cards mounted on pegs; these in turn were affixed to a large rectangular surface.

Winnipeg's Reva Stone (b. 1944) says "all of my work has been about changing technologies and how they alter how we mediate our world." For the last 20 years, she's been using digital technology to explore what critic Robert Enright calls "the interstitial zone" between the organic and the cybernetic, the human and the robotic, science and art.

Carnevale, exhibited at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in 2004, featured a life-sized standing aluminum figure - Stone's "outlined form as a robotic young girl" - equipped with a video camera and projector and mounted on a moveable platform that "used heat sensors to locate and photograph individuals" in the WAG.

Videos about the winners and images of their works can be found at

Associated Graphic

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer's Solar Equation speaks to his passion for creating works that serve as 'platforms for public participation.'


Left: Robert Houle's Mississauga Portraits is a testament to his aboriginal roots.


Right: Reva Stone's Imaginal Expression is an example of her work that explores 'the interstitial zone' between the organic and cybernetic.


The hitch with small cars
Europeans use compact vehicles to tow trailers. Why don't North Americans?
Special to The Globe and Mail
Thursday, March 26, 2015 – Print Edition, Page D6

It was only a fleeting glimpse, but I'm 98.3 per cent sure it wasn't my imagination. On a German autobahn a few years ago, I saw a Volkswagen Jetta compact sedan atop a flat-bed trailer being towed by a Honda Fit subcompact.

You'd never see that here because most passenger-car owners' manuals say "not recommended for towing." And even in the rare case a car does have a tow rating, it's usually a low one.

We are convinced by Trailer Weight Ratings that only large pickups and SUVs suit our towing needs. Yet Europeans manage fine with four-cylinder vehicles. And the few car models that do have a tow rating here usually have a higher one in Europe.

The 2015 British Tow Car of the Year was the Seat Leon - a VW Group compact wagon based on the Volkswagen Golf/ Jetta. In Europe, it is rated to tow 710 kilograms if the trailer is unbraked and as much as 1,600 kilograms for a braked trailer.

Depending on the powertrain, the Jetta's rating in Canada for a braked trailer varies from 454 to 907 kilograms (though only with manual transmission, VW specifies).

The European Economic Community is not noted for a cavalier attitude to road safety, so how to explain this disconnect between towing capability?

For Americans, the typical 4,000-plus-kilogram tow ratings of large trucks ensure they are well within their capabilities.

Andy Thomson, the owner of an RV dealership in London, Ont., suggests too that American auto makers won't put a tow rating on any vehicle that can't be sold in large numbers at a generous profit (read: pickups and SUVs). And he doesn't blame them. Citing the litigiousness of American society, he notes: "The vehicle is one-third of the towing of equation; onethird is the trailer, and onethird is the hitch. Car makers have no control over two-thirds of the equation, but if something goes wrong, they're the first to get sued."

"But with a profitable SUV," he says, "it's worth taking the risk."

Volkswagen doesn't publicize tow ratings in Canada, says spokesman Thomas Tetzlaff, "but for customers who have purchased the vehicle and want to tow, we publish it in the owner's manual." The ratings listed in the manual are followed by the caution, "Volkswagen does not recommend installing a trailer hitch ... if you plan to tow a trailer, please remember your vehicle will be performing a job for which it was not primarily intended. The additional load will affect driveability, handling, fuel economy and performance, and may require (more frequent servicing)."

That said, Thomson is an evangelist for towing with passenger cars, and smaller vehicles in general. His RV store, CanAm, designs and builds its own weight-distribution tow hitches for the task.

Two years ago, Can-Am's display at the Toronto RV Show included a small camping trailer hitched to a Fiat 500 - a combo that Thomson drove to the show from London.

"The Fiat had been traded in and was laying around, and there's not much laying around here that we don't put a hitch on," he says.

"It ran at 100 km/h with no headwind; coming home into a headwind, 85 was it. It was a bit underpowered. It's not a combination we'd endorse without the turbo. But it was solid and stable."

Can-Am's display also included a VW Jetta hitched to a 22-foot Vista camping trailer. A 26-foot trailer on display was promoted as tow-able by a V-6 family sedan, and there was a 30-foot Airstream coupled to a Ford Taurus. Thomson has been impressed, too, by the Chrysler 300 with the Pentastar V-6 and eight-speed transmission: "They gave it only a 1,000-pound (454 kilogram) rating because they can't be bothered."

He also says that minivans (most of which share engineering underpinnings with mid-size sedans) all have at least 3,500pound (1,588-kilogram) tow ratings. "We run two Dodge Caravans because you can't beat them for value."

Robert Krouse, a GM trailering engineer, concedes some points to Thomson. "Europeans do expect a lot more out of smaller vehicles, because they drive a lot smaller vehicles. We probably could do more with smaller vehicles."

But with many cars based on global architectures, auto makers have to decide whether to build in tow capability across the board, or only for markets that would use it. "A lot of the time, we bite the bullet and build them the same way, sometimes we have to pull back," Krouse says.

It's hard for an owner to know whether, say, their Chevrolet Cruze (which has a 454-kilogram tow rating in North America) is built exactly the same as the European version (which is rated tow up to 1,200 kilograms), so if in doubt, play safe and observe the lower limit.

As for CanAm RV's Thomson, he says he won't touch a trailer that doesn't have electric brakes; and he only uses weight-distribution hitch receivers.

He rarely needs to upgrade the car springs but prefers to work with sport sedans for their more buttoned-down suspensions. Short rear overhangs are also preferable.

Of course, the (loaded) weight of the trailer isn't the only factor. You also have to work within the tow vehicle's axle load limits, and the overall gross combination weight rating that applies to the trailer and tow vehicle combined, including passengers and cargo. Always be clear whether your vehicle's ratings are based on braked or unbraked trailers. And some cars require an extra-cost tow package.

It also helps to have a trailer that is specifically designed to minimize mass and aerodynamic drag.

"Everybody talks as if weight is the only thing, but once you're moving, aerodynamic drag is a big factor," says Thomson.

Light, svelte trailers may be more expensive but, as Thomson wrote in his column for RV Lifestyle magazine, "a high-quality, easy-to-tow trailer is a better investment than a fancy new tow vehicle."


Besides those already mentioned, here are some other passenger cars and smaller CUVs with higher tow ratings, in kilograms, than you might expect.

Note that these are the maximum ratings and may not apply to all versions of the given nameplate (it may depend on which engine), and they may require a suitable tow package and/or a braked trailer.

Chevrolet Cruze 454

Chevrolet Impala 454

Ford Mustang 454

Toyota Matrix 680

Honda CR-V 680

Ford Fusion 907

Hyundai Tucson 907

Subaru Outback 1224

Volvo S60/V60 1588

Ford Escape 1588

Chevrolet Equinox 1588

Dodge Caravan 1633

Ford Flex 2041

Jeep Cherokee 2041

Porsche Cayenne 3500

Associated Graphic

The Seat Leon was named the 2015 British Tow Car of the Year. The Leon, which is based on the Volkswagen Golf/Jetta, is rated to tow as much as 1,600 kilograms for a braked trailer.

Forget parking; these days, even a no-frills semi can spark a bidding war
Friday, March 20, 2015 – Print Edition, Page G1

Michael and Carly Telpner weren't sure what offer night would bring for their semidetached Toronto house with one bathroom and no parking.

They certainly didn't imagine it would bring $954,000. But after two rounds of bidding and a lastminute flurry, that price clinched the deal for their three-bedroom house at 512 Balliol St. The house had been listed with an asking price of $799,900. The final tally shows how tight the race can be.

On the night scheduled for reviewing offers, six prospective buyers submitted bids. Three were invited to a second round.

One came in at $950,000 and another at $951,000, Mr. Telpner says. The agent for the prevailing couple just made it under the wire with an offer of $954,000, Mr. Telpner says of the breathless final moments.

Even with all of the bids so close, Mr. Telpner says he wasn't tempted to aim for a third round.

"I didn't want to be obnoxious," he says, and he knew it was a tough evening for all the buyers.

"I didn't want someone to lose out over $2,000 or $3,000, but that was the process we laid out."

The numbers show why so many sellers are grappling with multiple offers: The Toronto Real Estate Board reported this week that sales in the GTA jumped 11.8 per cent in the first two weeks of March from a year earlier. New listings increased 8.4 per cent in the first half of the month compared with the same period in 2014.

The average selling price in the GTA rose 10.6 per cent to $620,106 in the first half of March from a year earlier. TREB says the growth in prices was driven by gains in houses and townhouses.

Jason Mercer, TREB's director of market analysis, points out that a greater share of sales came from high-end detached houses changing hands. That dynamic helped to push up the average price.

In Toronto, the average price of a detached house jumped a whopping 21.3 per cent in the first half of March from a year earlier.

The average price of a semi gained 13.3 per cent, and a townhouse 11.6 per cent.

In the Toronto condo market, sales swelled 12.9 per cent in the first two weeks of the month from a year earlier while the average price edged down 0.8 per cent.

Those who are wading into competition know how tense it can be. If you wonder if it's worth trying to appeal to the emotions of the sellers - as many agents do these days with hand-written notes and stories about their clients - Mr. Telpner says having the best offer is most important but he was also slightly swayed.

Mr. Telpner is a triathlete and he learned that the buyers were particularly keen on the gym he had built in the basement. "Price is first," he says, "but I was kind of gunning for them."

But he was also felt badly for a couple waiting outside in a car with their children. He figures they would have made good new custodians as well. "There's one asset and not everyone can win. I know the others were disappointed."

Mr. Telpner knows because he phoned the real estate agents of the runners-up the following day to thank them for showing up at the table.

"I wanted to make sure that everyone had a very positive experience," he says. "I was happy with the process."

Mr. Telpner, who works in international banking at Bank of Nova Scotia, says the outcome was "very surprising" for the couple's first property sale.

The price was a record for a comparable house in the area near Davisville Avenue and Mount Pleasant Road, he says, adding the couple would have been happy with a selling price of $855,000 or $860,000. The other half of the semi had sold last October for $847,000.

Still, they thought the lack of parking could hold back the price.

"That was what we thought was going to be our biggest hurdle," he says.

Real estate agent Sarah O'Neill of Royal LePage Signature Realty, who represented the Telpners, says people are vying to be in that pocket near Davisville.

"It was incredibly close," she says of the competition.

She points out that the couple had invested quite a bit in the mechanics and insulation of the house since buying it in 2007, and the interior was also nicely designed.

She says potential buyers are savvy these days and they can tell the difference between a house that has had solid investments and one that has just been fixed up to look better for sale.

Ms. O'Neill says buyers at this time of year often have frayed nerves. Multiple offer situations are very emotional, she says, and even more so when there's a second round. "People have to decide very quickly what price to go to. It's tough."

As for the Telpners, they bought a detached house near Avenue Road and Eglinton Avenue in the fall, when buyers were more hesitant.

"People were wondering what was going to happen in the next year," Mr. Telpner says of the speculation about interest rates and other economic factors.

The property was listed with "offers any time."

The couple had looked around a bit but hadn't been serious enough about any of the houses they had seen to even make an offer.

The couple offered slightly above asking and the owners accepted. "We kind of lucked out," says Mr. Telpner of the timing of both transactions.

The Toronto market this week is a bit quieter one, Ms. O'Neill says, because most agents will wait until after March break to put new listings on the market.

Plenty of buyers are likely to be circulating: This week the Bank of Montreal made news when it cut its posted rate on a five-year fixed mortgage to 2.79 per cent from 2.99 per cent.

Meanwhile, organizations including the International Monetary Fund and the Bank of Canada have warned that markets in some Canadian cities - including Toronto - appear overvalued.

Some economists warn that ultra-low interest rates are creating too much froth.

Ms. O'Neill believes that bidding contests will likely lose some intensity as the spring market gathers momentum: Typically the action is most fervid in the early part of the year when there are few listings and a lot of pent-up demand. As move-up buyers find new homes, they in turn list their current properties and the supply loosens up.

She expects that more listings will come on after the public and private school breaks, but the big surge in listings will follow the Easter and Passover holidays.

"I predict it will be gangbusters after that."

Associated Graphic

The semi-detached at 512 Baliol St. sold for $954,000, a record for a comparable house in the Davisville-Mount Pleasant Road area.

I've lost the weight, can I drop the diet?
Following a plan can yield dramatic results, but how you transition back to 'normal' after reaching your goal is just as important
Tuesday, March 24, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L7


I have recently lost weight using the Weight Watchers points program. What happens when I stop obsessively counting points? How do I make that kind of diet change stick long-term? Will I forever have to stick with the plan, or will my healthier eating habits become ingrained? It seems like after restriction, the obvious temptation is to binge, and then yo-yo.


As a registered dietitian in private practice, I've spent my career helping clients lose weight and keep it off. My philosophy has always been, "the things you do to shed excess pounds have to be the very same things you do to keep them off." You can't simply start eating more food - or increasing your daily Weight Watchers points - once you reach your weight goal (unless, of course, you ramp up the exercise). If you do, you will inevitably regain some of the weight you lost.

That's why it's so important that the food plan that anyone follows to lose weight is a realistic and sustainable one. It should be a plan that's healthy, balanced and relatively easy to stick to long-term. Can you really see yourself drinking protein shakes at breakfast, lunch and dinner for years to come? Or forgoing bread, pasta and pizza for the rest of your life? (Of course, I know Weight Watchers does not espouse these practices.)

The things you do to successfully lose weight include not only the foods and portion sizes you eat, but also the framework by which you build your meals and snacks. Whether that framework involves counting points, tallying calories, balancing protein and carbohydrate at meals or measuring portions, you will need to continue to do so, at least to some extent, to help maintain your new healthy weight.

Still, you shouldn't have to do so "obsessively." Over time, you get into a groove that helps you stick to your plan, even after you've lost the weight. You build a repertoire of healthy meals and snacks that meet your allowed number of points or calories, which then become part of your routine. With practice, you come to know what and how much to eat at meals without counting points or measuring foods like you did early on. It gets easier.

New habits - eating smaller portions, reading nutrition labels, being assertive with food pushers, etc. - also start to become ingrained the longer you practise them. Your stomach and eyes get used to eating less food too, making it easier to stick to your plan for the long haul. If your diet is too restrictive in calories, however, the temptation to binge will be large, especially when hunger hits.

Likewise, if you completely ban your favourite treats while losing weight, you'll likely crave them.

When you reach your goal, you might be tempted to treat yourself to the decadent dessert or burger and fries you haven't enjoyed for months on end. And that's okay. The problem is that you didn't learn how to integrate these foods into your new diet on an occasional basis. All-or-nothing thinking is a recipe for trouble.

So yes, maintaining your weight loss requires sticking to your plan 80 per cent of the time, just like you did while losing weight. And to help you do that you'll need to keep your points system (or daily calorie target) in mind and recalibrate from time to time. It's about accountability.

Remember that old habits can easily creep back, making weight regain a strong possibility. Portion sizes become a little bigger, a few too many "extras" sneak in, you stray from the plan on weekends, motivation wanes for the gym, and so on. It's the reality, so it's best to plan for it.

Diet slip-ups will be less likely to occur, or certainly far less likely to accumulate, if you have an accountability system in place. To stay accountable and on track you might decide to count food points a few days each week, especially on weekends. Or, you can use your smartphone to track calories, or write in a food journal for the first week of every month.

Attending weekly or monthly Weight Watchers meetings can also help.

It's also important to weigh yourself once a week. Frequent weighing provides an early warning system. It allows you to catch small increases in weight very quickly and take corrective action to prevent further weight gain.

Do whatever works for you, but do something. Being accountable provides focus and motivation, keys to getting results. You've come too far - and put in too much effort - to lose focus once you have achieved your weight goal.

Keep your eye on the ultimate prize: maintaining your weight loss.

Leslie Beck, a registered dietitian, is based at the Medisys clinic in Toronto. She is a regular contributor to CTV News Channel.


The National Weight Control Registry, established in 1994, is the largest prospective investigation of long-term successful weight-loss maintenance, tracking more than 10,000 individuals who have lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for long periods of time.

Researchers have learned that the following strategies have helped them succeed (they may not sound sexy but they've worked for thousands of people):

Eat breakfast

Nearly 80 per cent of study participants reported eating breakfast every day of the week. People who eat breakfast on a regular basis are more likely to have a structured eating plan throughout the day and are less likely to snack on empty-calorie foods.

Include healthy snacks

Instead of eating only two or three big meals, weight-loss registrants eat more often.

Spreading out their food keeps their stomach always partly full and prevents overeating at the next meal. Eat three meals plus between-meal snacks to prevent hunger.

Keep tempting foods out of the house

It sounds so simple, yet that's what 85 per cent of weight-loss registrants reported doing to stick to their weight-maintenance diet. Almost all say they stock their kitchen with plenty of healthy foods and about one-third say they eat in restaurants less often.

Don't deprive yourself

People in the National Weight Control Registry don't give up their favourite foods. They continue to enjoy them, but not as often as they did when they were overweight. Plan for a treat once a week, during weight loss and maintenance.

Exercise daily

The majority of participants (91 per cent) exercise regularly to maintain their weight loss.

Most combine brisk walking with another type of planned exercise such as cardio classes, biking or swimming. Regular exercise burns calories and motivates you to make wise food choices.

Step on the scale

To succeed at weight maintenance, 75 per cent of participants weigh themselves at least once a week, even after years of maintaining their loss.

Doing so allows them to catch small weight gains and prevent them from accumulating.

Associated Graphic


After crash, airlines move to change cockpit rules
Co-pilot acted 'for a reason we cannot fathom right now but which looks like intent to destroy this aircraft,' French prosecutor says
Friday, March 27, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A1

A junior German co-pilot - ignoring the screams of his doomed passengers - deliberately flew the Germanwings Airbus A320 into a French mountainside, killing everyone on board, prosecutors said Thursday.

After locking himself alone in the cockpit, Andreas Lubitz, 27, pushed the Airbus into a steep, but controlled dive, as the captain frantically pounded on the armoured door. For more than eight minutes, the plane steadily descended before slamming into the rugged, remote slopes of the Alps on Tuesday, killing all 144 passengers and six crew.

Investigators revealed this nightmarish sequence of events after listening to the cockpit voice recorder recovered from the remains of the pulverized A320.

The Germanwings crash is not the first instance of mass killing of passengers by a pilot. But Mr. Lubitz's deliberate, daylight dive into obliteration is the first that involved the armoured doors and secret access codes to cockpits instituted as security measures on airliners in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackings in which alQaeda terrorists stormed the controls of four U.S. airliners and flew them into New York's twin towers and the Pentagon.

Many airlines, including several in Canada, quickly scrapped existing policies that, like Germanwings, allowed for one pilot to remain alone in the cockpit while the other went to the toilet or into the passenger cabin.

Federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said Thursday that government rules will be changed to make two people in the cockpit a requirement on commercial flights. That matches the long-established and tougher requirement from the Federal Aviation Administration for U.S. airlines.

Air Canada will change procedures "without delay" to require that a flight attendant replace a pilot in the cockpit if one needs to leave and that two people remain in the cockpit at all times on all flights, the airline said Thursday.

WestJet Airlines Ltd. and Air Transat also announced they would change to a policy requiring two in the cockpit.

In Europe, Easy Jet, a Britishbased low-cost airline, and Norwegian Air Shuttle also announced they were changing procedures to require two in the cockpit at all times.

Lufthansa chief executive officer Carsten Spohr, which owns Germanwings, said his airline set high standards but insisted about the crash: "There is no way to rule out such an event."

Mr. Spohr dismissed any need for Lufthansa or Germanwings to change.

"I don't see any need to change our procedures here," he said, sparking a wave of outrage on social media.

Nothing known so far linked Mr. Lubitz to extremist groups, but a major criminal investigation was under way. Police raided Mr. Lubitz's home in Germany searching for clues that might reveal a motive.

He earned his commercial wings two years ago and joined Germanwings, the budget arm of Lufthansa, in September, 2013, direct from Lufthansa's pilot school.

According to Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin, Mr. Lubitz acted "for a reason we cannot fathom right now but which looks like intent to destroy this aircraft."

About the voice recorder, Mr. Robin said: "Only toward the end do you hear screams."

And, perhaps in an effort to ease the horrific scenario now haunting the bereaved family members, Mr. Robin said: "Bear in mind that death would have been instantaneous ... the aircraft was literally smashed to bits."

On Tuesday, with the A320 cruising uneventfully at 11,600 metres, roughly halfway through a routine two-hour flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf, the captain left the cockpit. He was a 20-year veteran with more than 6,000 flying hours compared with Mr. Lubitz, with barely onetenth that time flying.

When the captain tried to return to the cockpit and knocked on the door, Mr. Lubitz didn't answer and didn't unlock the armoured door. Instead, he pushed the aircraft into a shallow dive, steeper than a normal approach to landing but not bizarrely steep.

Outside the locked door, the captain realized something was amiss.

"You can hear banging to try to smash the door down," Mr. Robin said.

Modern airliners, with their armoured anti-terrorist doors, also have safety schemes designed to unlock cockpit doors in the event that pilots are incapacitated. In that scenario, a flight attendant can enter a secret code on a keypad that - unless thwarted from inside the cockpit - unlocks the door. Mr. Lubitz apparently used the override function twice.

The co-pilot did not say anything - not to the increasingly frantic captain nor to the airtraffic controllers who repeatedly called the diving Germanwings Airbus.

"All we can hear is the sound of breathing until impact, suggesting the co-pilot was alive until impact," Mr. Robin said.

A French Air Force Mirage, sent to intercept the Airbus A320 when it failed to respond to air-traffic controllers, arrived too late. The obliterated remains of the Germanwings aircraft were scattered across a rocky slope near the Foux d'Allos ski resort.

Just before the recording stopped, alarms were sounding in the cockpit - likely the increasingly strident "Pull up, pull up" that warns pilots of imminent impact with terrain - and screams of passengers can be heard on the tape.

But Mr. Lubitz was apparently unflustered, secure behind the sophisticated armoured system designed to keep fiends out of the cockpits and passengers safe from terrorist and hijackers.

"You don't get the impression that there was any particular panic, because the breathing is always the same. The breathing is not panting. It's a classic, human breathing," Mr. Robin said.

Families of the victims, who had travelled to France, visited an alpine clearing not far from the remote crash site, which is so steep that it can be reached only by helicopter or strenuous hiking.

The Lubitz family, who had also made the journey, were kept apart from the others once it emerged that the co-pilot had deliberately caused the crash.


(View from inside the cockpit) Three electric locks Escape panel with quickrelease pins (only accessible from inside cockpit)


Pilots usually fly in "norm" mode, which means the cockpit door is locked. To exit or allow access to the cabin (under proper protocol), the switch is toggled to "unlock."

Proper protocol to access the cockpit is to contact the pilots via the interphone, then press "#" on the keypad to sound the buzzer. Then the pilots unlock the door.

Certain crew members have an emergency-access code that they can enter via the keypad if the pilots are unresponsive. After a 30-second wait, the door will unlock for five seconds.


If an attempt is made to enter the cockpit that does not follow protocol, the pilots can toggle the switch to the "lock" position. Doing this will override any attempts to enter. This disables the exterior keypad, the buzzer and any automatic door opening.

Associated Graphic

Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately locked his captain out of the cockpit and crashed the Germanwings Airbus A320 into the French Alps, prosecutors say.



Tumble in the Jungle In 2014, Ford won a TKO in the final round to retain the title as No. 1 sales leader in Canada. In the 2015 rematch, Chrysler leads on points .
Special to The Globe and Mail
Thursday, March 26, 2015 – Print Edition, Page D1


President /CEO Dianne Craig Reid Bigland

2014 Sales 291,823 290,004

2014 Market Share 15.8% 15.6%

2014 Top Seller F-SERIES 126,277 RAM PICKUP 88,521

2015 Units Sold 29,603 36,765

In the most human of moments, Dianne Craig will admit to enduring many sleepless nights through the fall and winter of 2014. The race to be No. 1 in Canada for automotive sales was that tight, and Craig certainly did not want to be the first Ford Canada CEO in five years to call global headquarters in Dearborn, Mich., and admit, "We're No. 2."

Craig and Reid Bigland, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Canada (the former Chrysler Canada), are two intensely competitive people. Craig, a former ski racer, and Bigland, a hockey player, go toe-to-toe in a terrifically raucous business.

Bigland would have loved to unseat Ford; Craig was determined to avoid an ignominious fate.

Right to the the end of the year, Ford and Chrysler engaged in an epic battle, using incentives, fleet sales, various adver.

tising and marketing tools, and their dealer bodies down to the final bell. Ford would hold on to No. 1 by the slimmest of margins - 1,891 units, according to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants. "Yeah, less than 2,000 units," says Bigland with a smile and a shake of the head. "Talk about heartbreak hotel. That's the closest we've been for the full year to be the No. 1 seller in Canada."

And now, in the what-haveyou-done-for-me-lately car business, the question is, who's going to win in 2015? Through March 1, FCA had recaptured the momentum and the lead.

Ford spent much of 2014 pursuing Chrysler before reclaiming the sales lead on Oct. 1. But the last quarter had looked tough, with the best-selling F-150 in the middle of a new-model changeover - thus, limiting inventories - and a new Mustang yet to arrive at dealerships in significant numbers.

"Five years of leadership, especially with the competitors we have ... ," Craig says, carefully picking her words. "Last year the Chrysler team gave us a big run for our money. We knew it was going to be tight, and we had low inventories. But we've always said leadership is an outcome, not a goal."

The two car companies sold close to 600,000 vehicles in Canada, but Chrysler had the better year in terms of gains - sales up 11.5 per cent year-over-year, with market share boosted 0.7 per cent to 15.6 per cent. Ford Canada lost nearly half a point of market share on sales that increased just 3.0 per cent in an overall market that rose 6.1 per cent over 2013.

Down the stretch in 2014, Ford rode its biggest sellers to victory - the Escape compact SUV, Focus compact car, Fusion midsize car and F-Series pickup. All were loaded with rich sales incentives that helped push sales to amazing highs for December - Fusion up 72.9 per cent, Focus up 36.7, F-Series up 36.7 and Escape up 10.5. Overall, Ford's December sales jumped 40.1 per cent. If one single vehicle made the difference for Ford, it would be the Escape. Sales in 2014 were up 15.6 per cent to a record 52,198. That surge combined with Chrysler's sagging Dodge Journey most likely gave the crown to Ford.

"Ford clipped us, so congratulations to them," Bigland said. "But it was our strongest sales in the 90-year history of Chrysler and we were the fastest grower. Hey, year-over-year we gained almost 30,000 units."

Neither Craig nor Bigland admit to putting No. 1 right at the top of their annual must-have lists, but the sales race matters mightily, make no mistake. It's a point of pride to them, their corporate colleagues, dealers and even some car owners. That said, both insist they can't and won't, shall we say, throw everything over the side to lighten the ship in this race.

Says Craig: "I'm a pretty competitive person and our dealers and our employees really value the leadership crown, but we have to make sure that whatever we do is with the customer in mind first. If the outcome is leadership, then that's just the cherry on top of the ice cream.

"I will have to say we were really excited when the numbers finally came in, as close as it was." And then she laughs.

Rematch scenario

Like Ford, Chrysler's business is based on a few high-volume, core models - call them the four pillars. Ram sales for December were up a whopping 51.4 per cent.

Dodge Caravan minivan sales were up 12.0 per cent and sales of the newly-launched Jeep Cherokee surged 28.5 per cent. Dodge Journey crossover sales were down on the year, but still chipped in another 24,715 units.

As 2015 proceeds, Ford should get a lift from volume sales of its all-new F-150 pickup and Mustang, along with a new Edge crossover, the renewed Expedition SUV, a freshened Explorer, a major update of the Focus and a line of new commercial vehicles.

Ford also has high hopes for its Lincoln brand, including the recently-launched MKC crossover, the reengineered Navigator and the planned freshening this year of the MKZ and redesign of the MKX.

Still, Bigland isn't conceding a thing. Like a hockey player shaking hands after losing Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final, Bigland has already put 2014 behind him.

That's history.

"We started 2015 No. 1 and it's just a matter of trying to sustain that," he says, breaking into a wide grin.

FCA expects the just-launched Jeep Renegade to give it a massive boost in an emerging segment of small crossovers that by the end of this year will include the Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3. If successful, the Renegade could account for sales of more than 20,000 this year. FCA is also looking ahead to this year's launch of the Alfa Romeo brand in Canada, spearheaded by the 4C.

The Fiat 500X wagon will also arrive in 2015 and Fiat also has plans for a roadster that will use a Mazda platform. The Grand Cherokee is expected to get a freshening, also. However, the Ram, the minivans and the Journey are not slated for major makeovers this year. They represent huge volumes, so FCA is in tough in mounting a 12-month challenge to Ford.

It's early day, in 2015. The struggle for No. 1 has only just begun. Again.

ONLINE Road test The BMW Z4, by

Associated Graphic

Sales of the Escape jacked Ford sales in December; FCA pits the Ram against the F-150.


Source: DesRosiers Automotive Consultants

It's a waiting game for single condo buyers
The delicate balance of location, amenities and price can be found with patience, even in the country's most overheated markets
Saturday, March 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B7

A single person buying a home has a particular financial and emotional calculus. And Michele O'Keefe is no exception.

Location is tantamount for her.

As the executive director of Canada Basketball, the sport's national governing body, she works in an out-of-way office in Toronto's Etobicoke suburb. Her commute by car is enough driving for the week. When she's home, she wants everything from markets to coffee shops and parks in close walking distance. She wants the condo lifestyle.

And as a single professional, that lifestyle and the condo price still have to be within her means.

For many professionals in Toronto and other booming Canadian markets, a condo is the only option if they want to buy.

Houses are out of reach. As Toronto mortgage agent Matt McKillen with Mortgage Architects noted, the gap between buying a condo and a detached or semi-detached house in comparably desirable neighbourhoods has widened to $300,000 and more. As a result, many of his clients are moving from one condo to another, building their home equity, rather than the traditional route of moving from a condo to a house.

While it is easy to over-generalize about home-buyer demographics, there are trends: For single urban professionals in their middle adult years, the hot demand in the biggest cities is for condos around the $400,000 range, in buildings with character, in appealing neighbourhoods and close to transit (or in Ms. O'Keefe's case, a quick shot by car to work). When describing this to realtors on the phone, you can easily picture them rolling their eyes. They hear this every day.

Yet, single professionals have another interesting characteristic: They tend not to be in a hurry to buy. They wait until they find what they want. They often don't have the same sense of urgency of parents suddenly needing more room to accommodate a growing family, or aging empty-nesters requiring a home that's more manageable.

Ms. O'Keefe had been checking listings for a long time. Renting in the densely populated, uptown Toronto pocket of Yonge and Eglinton, her priority was to wait until she found a place that ticked all the necessary boxes, which an uncompleted condo finally did in the new Canary District neighbourhood by the lake shore.

"I've always found that the commitment to purchase a home was daunting. Life is very different when you're single, as opposed to a couple who share the expenses," Ms. O'Keefe said.

As part of the athletes' village for the Pan American Games this summer in Toronto, Ms. O'Keefe's condo building won't be ready for her until June of 2016. At around $450,000, her new two-bedroom apartment will face west onto an elaborately designed brand-new neighbourhood, which was previously an abandoned postindustrial edge of the downtown.

Condo buying is not just about price and the accompanying maintenance fees. It's also about affording the coffee shops and numerous attractions of the surrounding neighbourhood. That's something single condo buyers need to bear in mind, said mortgage agent Sydney Dookwah, with Sherwood Mortgage Group in Toronto.

The old rule of thumb is that mortgage and debt should not exceed 40 per cent of one's income. "That's definitely the banks' guidelines. But we like to stress to clients that you still want to be able to have and maintain a certain level of lifestyle," she said.

Even seasoned renters should carefully look at more than mortgage payments and fees, but also budget in the cost of the new neighbourhood.

"Condos are all about lifestyle," concurred Vancouver realtor Adina Dragasanu. The main reason for buying isn't just the condo itself, although important, but the surrounding neighbourhood.

One of her recent clients in Vancouver, Bridget Martin, bought a one-bedroom condo in an old, heritage house which had been subdivided into several units. It is near City Hall and, most importantly, the Skytrain's Canada Line, allowing her an easy subway commute to her job as a controller for a sports marketing company. Ms. Martin, 27, had previously been living on the North Shore.

"I put an offer in the day I saw it, and that was the day it came on the market," she said. The topfloor condo has soaring ceilings and an old house feel. It's a surprise when walking through the front door that the house is broken up into apartments, Ms. Martin said. The owners were asking $360,000, and she paid $350,000. Her maximum while looking for a place had been around $420,000.

Amenities aren't a big issue for her. The house has few - no gym nor other condo accoutrements except for a washer and dryer and dishwasher in the units. That means her strata fees are just $100 a month. "That was a huge selling feature for me."

If she moves out one day, she would ideally like to keep the condo and rent it out. She sees it as an investment as much as a home. She made a hefty down payment of 35 per cent in order to keep her monthly mortgage relatively light.

A short walk away in Vancouver, by the corner of Ontario Street and Broadway, Chelsea McCooey also sees her new condo as an asset as well as a home. She is opening a meditation centre close by and wanted to be near it. She was also looking in the $400,000 range for a place with charm, character and investment potential. Her realtor, Ms. Dragasanu, knew the routine.

Like the others, she was just exploring her options, still unsure of whether to rent or buy, when she suddenly found her ideal place, a studio on the fourth floor with a scenic view of False Creek for $386,000. It had been originally listed at $420,000.

Also like the others, location and resale value were major factors in the final decision. And a willingness to wait for the right condo has another plus: It allows time to find the best combination of price and investment potential.

"The realtor laughed at me, because usually people are all stressed out about this stuff," Ms. McCooey said. "But because I had no preconceptions and had never bought before, I was, like, 'This is fun, let's offer them this!' "And she went, 'You're not stressed out?' And I went, 'No, I'm a meditation teacher.'"


This is the second in a series of stories looking at the challenges faced by different generations of people who are in the market for a home, from first-time buyers to growing families, to boomers who are downsizing.

Associated Graphic

Michele O'Keefe has purchased a condo in Toronto's new downtown Canary District and will take possession next year. The building will first be used as part of the Pan Am Games' athletes' village.


Saturday, March 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R19



1 1 11 The Girl On The Train, by Paula Hawkins (Doubleday Canada, $24.95).

2 7 2 NYPD Red 3, by James Patterson and Marshall Karp (Little, Brown & Co., $31).

3- 1 The Little Old Lady Strikes Again, by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg (HarperCollins, $19.99).

4 2 4 Prodigal Son, by Danielle Steel (Delacorte, $34).

5 - 20 The Little Old Lady Who Broke All The Rules, by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg (HarperCollins, $19.99).

6 3 4 Mightier Than The Sword, by Jeffrey Archer (St. Martin's, $32.50).

7 - 1 And The Birds Rained Down, by Jocelyne Saucier, translated by Rhonda Mullins (Coach House, $18.95).

8 4 12 Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline (Avon, $17.99).

9 - 1 The Stranger, by Harlan Coben (Dutton, $32.95).

10 9 7 The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin's , $32.50).



11 3 My Secret Sister: Jenny Lucas And Helen Edwards' Family Story, by Jenny Lee Smith (Pan Macmillan, $15.99).

22 2 Dead Wake: The Last Crossing Of The Lusitania, by Erik Larson (Crown, $32.50).

33 8 The Brain's Way Of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries And Recoveries From The Frontiers Of Neuroplasticity, by Norman Doidge (Viking , $34.95).

4- 1 AsapSCIENCE: Answers To The World's Weirdest Questions, Most Persistent Rumors, And Unexplained Phenomena, by Mitchell Moffit and Greg Brown (Scribner, $28.99).

55 7 Ghost Boy: The Miraculous Escape Of A Misdiagnosed Boy Trapped Inside His Own Body, by Martin Pistorius with Megan Lloyd Davies (Thomas Nelson, $20.99).

64 4 Measure Twice: Tips And Tricks From The Pros To Help You Avoid The Most Common DIY Disasters, by Bryan Baeumler (HarperCollins, $29.99).

77 3 H Is For Hawk, by Helen Macdonald (Hamish Hamilton, $32).

8- 18 You Are Here: Around The World In 92 Minutes, by Chris Hadfield (Random House Canada, $29.95).

96 12 Sarah Style: An Inspiring Room-By-Room Guide To Designing Your Perfect Home, by Sarah Richardson (Simon & Schuster, $32).

10 10 5 Nice Is Just A Place In France: How To Win At Basically Everything , by The Betches (Gallery, $18.99).

The bestseller list is compiled by The Globe and Mail using sales figures provided by BookNet Canada's national sales tracking service, BNC SalesData.




1 All My Puny Sorrows, by Miriam Toews (Random House Canada, $22).

2 Ru, by Kim Thúy, translated by Sheila Fischman (Vintage Canada , $18.95).

3 And The Birds Rained Down, by Jocelyne Saucier, translated by Rhonda Mullins (Coach House, $18.95).

4 Medicine Walk, by Richard Wagamese (McClelland & Stewart, $17.95).

5 The Book Of Negroes (TV Series Tie-In), by Lawrence Hill (HarperPerennial, 5 $17.99).

6 After The War Is Over, by Jennifer Robson (Avon, $18.50).

7 Someone Is Watching, by Joy Fielding (Doubleday Canada, $22.95).

8 Bones Never Lie, by Kathy Reichs (Simon & Schuster, $18).

9 The Bear, by Claire Cameron (Seal, $10.99).

10 Somewhere In France: A Novel Of The Great War, by Jennifer Robson (Avon, $17.99).


1 The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account Of Native People In North America, by Thomas King (Anchor Canada, $19.95).

2 The Brain's Way Of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries And Recoveries From The Frontiers Of Neuroplasticity , by Norman Doidge (Viking , $34.95).

3 AsapSCIENCE: Answers To The World's Weirdest Questions, Most Persistent Rumors, And Unexplained Phenomena, by Mitchell Moffit and Greg Brown (Scribner, $28.99).

4 Measure Twice: Tips And Tricks From The Pros To Help You Avoid The Most Common DIY Disasters, by Bryan Baeumler (HarperCollins, $29.99).

5 The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories Of Personal Triumph From The Frontiers Of Brain Science, by Norman Doidge (Penguin Paperbacks, $20).

6 You Are Here: Around The World In 92 Minutes, by Chris Hadfield (Random House Canada, $29.95).

7 Sarah Style: An Inspiring Room-By-Room Guide To Designing Your Perfect Home, by Sarah Richardson (Simon & Schuster, $32).

8 Intolerable: A Memoir Of Extremes, by Kamal Al-Solaylee (HarperCollins, $17.99).

9 Let The Elephants Run: Unlock Your Creativity And Change Everything, by David Usher (House Of Anansi, $29.95).

10 A House In The Sky, by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett (Scribner, $22).



1 Better Than Before: Mastering The Habits Of Our Everyday Lives, by Gretchen Rubin (Doubleday Canada, $29.95).

2 The 20/20 Diet: Turn Your Weight Loss Vision Into Reality, by Phil McGraw (Bird Street, $28).

3 Goddesses Never Age: The Secret Prescription For Radiance, Vitality, And Well-Being, by Dr. Northrup (Hay House, $25.99).

4 Footprints: 50th Anniversary Treasury, by Margaret Fishback Powers (HarperCollins, $19.99).

5 The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat And Cheese Belong In A Healthy Diet, by Nina Teicholz (Simon & Schuster, $20).

6 The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons In Personal Change, by Stephen R. Covey (Free Press, $19.99).

7 Chicken Soup For The Soul: Thanks To My Mom, by Amy Newmark and Jo Dee Messina (Chicken Soup For The Soul, $17.95).

8 What To Expect When You're Expecting: 4th Edition, by Heidi Murkoff, Sandee Hathaway and Sharon Mazel (Workman, $18.95).

9 How To Win Friends & Influence People, by Dale Carnegie (Pocket, $18.99).

10 Chicken Soup For The Soul: Hope & Miracles, by Amy Newmark and Natasha Stoynoff (Chicken Soup For The Soul, $17.95).



1 The Oh She Glows Cookbook: Vegan Recipes To Glow From The Inside Out, by Angela Liddon (Penguin Canada, $29).

2 The Thug Kitchen Cookbook, by Thug Kitchen Staff (House Of Anansi, $29.95).

3 Wheat Belly 30-Minute (Or Less!) Cookbook, by William Davis (HarperCollins, 3 $24.99).

4 Make It Paleo II: Over 175 New Grain-Free Recipes For The Primal Palate, by Hayley Mason and Bill Staley, with contributor Caitlin Nagelson (Victory Belt, $39.95).

5 The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet Cookbook: More Than 150 Recipes To Help You Lose Weight And Stay Healthy For Life, by Mark Hyman (Little, Brown & Co., $33).

6 Make It Ahead: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, by Ina Garten (Clarkson Potter, $41).

7 Brown Eggs And Jam Jars: Family Recipes From The Kitchen Of Simple Bites, by Aimee Wimbush-Bourque (Penguin Canada, $32).

8 Deliciously Ella: 100+ Easy, Healthy, And Delicious Plant-Based, Gluten-Free Recipes, by Ella Woodward (Scribner, $23.99).

9 The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook: A Fresh Guide To Eating Well With 600 Foolproof Recipes, by America's Test Kitchen Editors (America's Test Kitchen, $33.99).

10 Salad Love: 260 Crunchy, Savory, And Filling Meals You Can Make Every Day, by David Bez (Appetite, $25).

The Canadian Fiction and Non-Fiction bestseller lists, and the Canadian Specialty Books list, are compiled for The Globe and Mail by BookNet Canada.

Why moody women should get their due
Psychiatrist argues that society could benefit by tapping into the cycles of 'empathic, connected energy'
Wednesday, March 25, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L7

Women have long fought against being labelled as moody. But New York psychiatrist Julie Holland believes the description fits.

Women, she argues, are indeed more sensitive, intuitive and emotional. And instead of suppressing their feelings, she thinks women would be better off if they tuned into them.

In her new book, Moody Bitches: The Truth About the Drugs You're Taking, the Sleep You're Missing, the Sex You're Not Having and What's Really Making You Crazy, Holland argues that women aren't meant to be stoic and static. She says the characteristics for which women are often accused of being "hysterical" are not only natural, they're essential to women's physical, emotional and mental well-being.

Too often, however, women turn to psychiatric drugs to achieve emotional stability, even when medication is not clinically needed, Holland says. (According to an Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development report, Canada had the thirdhighest level of consumption of antidepressants in 2011 among 23 member countries, not including the United States.)

It may seem retrograde to suggest women are inherently temperamental. But in a recent phone interview, Holland explained there are advantages to being moody.

You say women are designed to be moody. Can you explain?

Women are biologically going to be a little smaller, a little weaker and they're going to have to have other assets to their survival. One of those assets is intuition and empathy, where we have a sense of how someone else is feeling or what their intentions are. In terms of our non-verbal babies, whether they're hungry or whether they're in pain, or our sometimes less-than-verbal mates, whether they have benevolent intent or whether they intend on leaving the family, there are a lot of advantages to being emotionally sensitive to the environment.

How does that compare with men?

I guess one thing I would like to say is it's never as cut and dried as "women are this way, and men are that way," and there are obviously plenty of men who are intuitive and empathetic. It may be that society has just shut down men's sensitivity, and perhaps men are just as sensitive to women. But they certainly aren't encouraged to be that way. And there are real biological differences.

What is the evolutionary advantage of having premenstrual syndrome?

When you're leading up to being fertile, the estrogen levels build along with serotonin. So the whole first half of the cycle, you're sort of easy and breezy and things don't bother you. And part of that design is that you're trying to attract and be attractive to a mate. What happens with PMS is you're no longer fertile, the egg is dead, it did not get fertilized and you are available to find another mate for the next cycle. It's a chance to be in touch with your dissatisfaction about what's wrong now and what needs to change for your next cycle.

Why do you suggest PMS may provide a more accurate barometer of how satisfied you are with your life?

There's two ways of looking at it. You could say the way you feel mid-cycle when everything is fine is the reality, or you could say the way you feel with your PMS when everything isn't fine is the reality. Or it may be something in between. What I definitely say to my patients is that the thoughts and feelings you are having during PMS are real, not delusional.

Christiane Northrup [a U.S. doctor and women's health expert] talks about thinking about it like low tide - when the water recedes, you can all of a sudden see there's all these shells and crabs and things on the sand.

They've been there all along. So it's an uncovering. It's a chance to see things that are always there, but you're seeing them with a more critical eye.

You recommend that women plan their work and life tasks around the fluctuations of their menstrual cycle. Why?

First of all, there's the practical issues. You absolutely have a lower pain threshold when you're PMS-ing. So it's not a good time to go to the dentist or get a wax.

Also when you have PMS, it's not the best time to go to your boss and ask how you're doing. There are times when you're mid-cycle when you're more stress-resilient and more confident. Those are times to have that talk.

If there are things that require you to be obsessive, like cleaning out your closets or planning a party, those are things that you would do more toward the PMS time when you will definitely have higher levels of being obsessive, when your serotonin levels are low.

How can crying be beneficial?

Tears tell you and everyone around you that something is very wrong and needs to be addressed. So it should be a signal that has you thinking, "What just happened? What upset me? Why did it upset me? What can I do about it?" But it also is a signal to the people around you that they have done something that is affecting you emotionally.

Our society frowns upon moodiness though ...

Well, keep in mind that we're half of society and we can change society. What the world needs more of, in my opinion, is this receptive, sensitive, compassionate, empathic, connected energy. And if we, as women, have that within us, we owe it to ourselves and to the world to bring that to the foreground, fight for it and not have it be oppressed.

This interview has been condensed and edited.


New York psychiatrist Julie Holland offers women the following tips on how to control their mood and hormones.

Rein in those tears Crying is normal, but when it's inconvenient, Holland suggests thinking of rhyming words or counting backward by seven from 100 to force your brain to switch gears from emotional to rational activity.

Go off the pill to find Mr. Right

Do this for three or four cycles to make sure he's the one. Holland explains oral contraceptives can interfere with the way women process pheromones. Women on the pill tend to pick less masculine men and express lower levels of sexual satisfaction and attraction to their partners.

Harness your PMS

Write down everything that bothers you near the end of your menstrual cycle, and take action when you're in a sunnier disposition after your period ends. As Holland writes, "PMS is a time of psychological inventory, to take stock and make sure you are where you want to be in your life."

Associated Graphic

In her new book, Julie Holland argues that women aren't meant to be stoic and static.

CRTC defends 'viewer-centric' decision on TV subscriptions
Saturday, March 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B1

OTTAWA -- Canada's broadcast regulator is set on putting viewers in the driver's seat like never before by aggressively unbundling television subscriptions, even as critics warn that may not be what's best for a healthy TV ecosystem.

Jean-Pierre Blais, the federal regulator's chairman, made that clear on March 12 when he said in a speech that, "while content remains king, the incontestable truth is that the viewer is Emperor."

Since late January, under the direction of Mr. Blais, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has unveiled three major decisions stemming from Let's Talk TV, an 18-month review of television industry rules. The most recent, on Thursday, was nakedly "viewer-centric," in Mr. Blais's words, promising subscribers a slimmed down basic cable or satellite option and the ability to choose only the channels they want to add to it.

Two earlier rulings, which relaxed Canadian content quotas and opened the door to American Super Bowl ads, also skewed in favour of viewer preferences, over protestations - and a court challenge - from industry players that stand to lose millions of dollars as a result.

And that has led some to suggest the CRTC is subtly shifting the way it regulates to be less protectionist, putting customer satisfaction ahead of the interests of broadcasters and distributors, even when it puts jobs and channels at risk. "They seem to be changing their mission from a steward of Canadian content and the steward of the Canadian broadcasting system to some sort of consumer advocate," said Mark Sherman, CEO of the media buying and planning agency Media Experts.

Throughout the Let's Talk TV process, Canadian Heritage Minister Shelly Glover repeatedly called for a pick-and-pay option.

"We look forward to the upcoming decision on unbundling, as we promised to do in our Speech from the Throne," Ms. Glover said in a recent statement.

On Thursday, Mr. Blais brushed aside the notion that the CRTC's emphasis on viewer choice has been politically driven, pointing to a June, 2013, speech in which he urged a shift "from constraint to choice," months before the same sentiment wound up in the Throne Speech.

"I suspect the government and other political parties probably heard what we heard - that there was a frustration with how the broadcasting system was serving [viewers'] needs," he said. Even if the government hadn't made pick-and-pay a priority, and repeated its desires throughout the Let's Talk TV hearing, "I think we'd be at the same place today," he added.

After many months of signals, a move to begin unbundling channels was widely expected, but the breadth of the decision still surprised some experts.

Adam Shine, an analyst at National Bank Financial Inc., "thought that it would be highly unlikely" the CRTC would force pick-and-pay onto every channel above basic, as it has, with so many in the industry pushing hard for a more cautious approach.

"The regulator continues to bow to the emperor while acknowledging the proliferation of content through different channels, ongoing technological innovation and the evolving habits of consumers who are increasingly seeking to get content exactly how, when, and where they want it," Mr. Shine wrote in a research note.

The largest companies, which predicted pick-and-pay would have dire consequences across the industry at the hearing last fall, have softened their stances.

Rogers Communications Inc. and Shaw Communications Inc. said they welcome the CRTC's decision, even as analysts agreed the companies' average revenue per user will likely suffer. (BCE Inc., which owns 15 per cent of The Globe and Mail, declined to comment.)

Mr. Blais insists the CRTC's legislative mandate "hasn't changed," and affordability is written into the Broadcasting Act. Rather, he sees the regulator's drive to satisfy consumers as a necessity if the broadcasting system doesn't want to be washed away by a wave of digital video.

"What's different ... is that the environment, both the technological environment and how people have chosen to interact with it on the various platforms, has changed the effectiveness of regulatory frameworks that we have used in the past," Mr. Blais said. "Yes, we do care about Canadian content, and making sure Canadians have Canadian choices like we always have. The tools have changed."

Still, Canada is going all-in on unbundling at a time when the United States continues to resist pick-and-pay. Companies such as Viacom Inc., Walt Disney Co. and NBCUniversal Inc. have strongly opposed pulling apart larger channel packages, and some even threatened to pull out of Canada if the CRTC introduced a full pick-and-pay system.

"We might now have the most flexible à la carte regime of any comparable country in the world," said Kaan Yigit, president of Solutions Research Group. "Certainly in the U.S., the idea of à la carte like this is definitely something they are worried about as if it's a nasty virus that may jump south of the border."

Viacom, in particular, told the CRTC in a Let's Talk TV submission that if regulations on traditional TV became too burdensome, it was "seriously considering" pulling its channels and distributing them instead through online streaming services, which remain almost unregulated.

U.S. networks are increasingly going that route. For $20 (U.S.) a month, Sling TV lets American viewers stream 16 channels live online, including the popular networks ESPN, CNN, AMC and the Disney Channel. And HBO will soon launch its own standalone online offering, partnered with Apple, which may in turn build a TV-streaming service, according to reports.

Another key question, on both sides of the border, is whether the new pick-and-pay options, which must be in place by the end of 2016, are arriving in time to stop subscribers from "cordcutting" - ditching cable or satellite TV altogether - or whether it even matters if they do.

Mr. Blais dismissed the U.S. networks' threats to leave Canada as "posturing" and "doomsday scenarios." But he also questioned whether "people wanting to see content on different platforms is necessarily a bad thing."

Cord-cutting is still in its infancy. Traditional TV is still in 11.5 million of Canada's 14 million households, as of early this year. And a 2014 survey by Charlton Strategic Research Inc. showed that while 8 per cent of respondents said they intended to cut their cords, only about 2 per cent actually did.

"The challenge for the industry at the moment is with the millennials, the 18-to-24-yearolds who have never subscribed before," said Gord Hendren, Charlton's president. "This [pickand-pay decision] might give them an interesting option."

Associated Graphic

Analysts say Rogers will likely lose revenue per user once its channels, such as Sportsnet, move to a pick-and-pay system.



Digital revolution challenges the archivist
Saturday, March 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R6

When it opened in 1997, Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Bilbao demonstrated how computers could reinvent contemporary building. The art museum's complex, irregular forms were designed with software meant for building fighter jets. But in tech terms, 1997 is prehistory, and since then architecture's leading edge has been reshaped by the digital: How buildings are designed, how they are (or can be) made, how we talk about them and even how we think about space.

Witness the competition for the next proposed Guggenheim museum, in Helsinki. It attracted 1,715 entries online, arguably the largest number ever in an architectural competition. The winners flooded social media and were picked over on design blogs within hours. If one is built, it will likely employ complex geometries rendered with the help of robots.

Making sense of this situation is Troy Conrad Therrien's job. Therrien, a Canadian, was recently named the Guggenheim Museum's curator of architecture and digital initiatives. This role gives him two challenges: interpreting the tech-loaded world of contemporary design and using digital tools to communicate about it.

And as the Helsinki competition moves toward a winner - the six short-listed architectural firms submit their revised visions next week - Therrien is looking to do something with the other 1,709 submissions.

"To me, because there are so many, it felt like the dawn of big data in architecture discourse," says Therrien, 33. "I've been asking, what do you do with that material? How would you think of it as a historian who can work with data?" Do you mine it, electronically, for similarities in form? Do you apply natural language processing to analyze its texts? And then in what form do you make it available online?

These questions begin to suggest the complexities of thinking about, and curating, contemporary architecture.

On a personal level, the digital revolution has changed our experience of space. The city street is a profoundly different place when you walk it with a smartphone.

Within the professions of architecture and building, technical details and much conceptual work happen in the digital realm.

And on a theoretical level, conversations about the culture of buildings, which had always explored physical spaces - the hut, the temple, the brick house, the steel-framed skyscraper - now confront a new digital space, which is beginning to intersect with the real, from design software to the beginnings of the "smart home."

Therrien cites the Italian scholar Franco Berardi: "The Internet is not a tool, it's an environment."

To him, this represents a "fundamental transformation of the conception of space," born of a profound disruption - just as the spasms of the industrial revolution set the stage for modernism in Europe a century ago. "Today we're in the wake of a digital revolution," Therrien argues. "Digital permeates our life, and it has for long enough that we can ask questions of it."

A native of Coquitlam, B.C., Therrien began studying computer engineering at the turn of the millennium. (At the time he was equally serious about sports: He played football at UBC before a broken clavicle ended his varsity career.) A stint working at Microsoft while in school gave him a close-up view as the dot-com bubble burst, and he soon chased a deeper interest in architecture - bringing his skills as a coder to his studies at Columbia University just as a "fetish of the digital," as he puts it, crested in the architectural academy. Work as a "digital strategist" for idea-hungry corporations, and as a curator, followed.

Columbia was one of the centres of experimentation in "digital architecture" during the late 1980s and the 1990s, when architects such as Greg Lynn and Peter Eisenman used new tools to build an avant-garde of theory and form. Gehry advanced that tradition. Such exploration, around 2000, found expression in the built work of many leading designers, including Gehry and Zaha Hadid - the computer as a tool and also as a means of generating forms.

If you are trying to mount museum shows about architecture, this is a challenge: What do you show? And how? Brendan Cormier, another young Canadian curator, now with the Victoria & Albert in London, says Therrien's appointment is timely. "Today, museums with architecture collections are struggling to come to terms with the archives of modern architectural practices, which are largely virtual," Cormier says.

"While archives from the 20th century are awash with paper drawings, letter correspondence and working models, today's practices are producing future archives that will be mostly contained in servers."

The Canadian Centre for Architecture, a leading research and curatorial institution, has tackled that problem with an ongoing project called The Archaeology of the Digital. "We are just at the beginning of understanding how to have digital within the museum," says the CCA's chief curator Mirko Zardini. "The digital will profoundly transform the work and the idea of a museum." In a 2011 essay, he wrote that museums need to imagine themselves as having "two buildings: the physical one, anchored to a specific place, and the digital, accessed online from anyplace at anytime." This, he suggests, is an opportunity "to engage the public, in some cases perhaps a much larger public, in a different way."

This is where Therrien's musings about Helsinki take on special relevance. The Guggenheim is not a leading architecture museum: It has made its mark on architecture through its buildings, though, and these days it is often criticized for its franchise model, taking it to Abu Dhabi (with another Gehry building) in 2017. In Helsinki, the idea of a branch-plant art museum, which asks a franchise fee from the city, has not been entirely well received. The scheme has prompted a sort of protest competition, The Next Helsinki, which calls for alternative strategies of cultural development. One of its protagonists, the New York architect and activist Michael Sorkin, complains of the Guggenheim's "Starbucks museology."

But the design process is moving ahead, and the six finalist proposals, some of them quite innovative, are from small, relatively obscure architecture offices. "It is exactly what you would want from an open, international competition," Therrien says.

And the design ideas for the building, digitally classified and analyzed, will become the substance of an online conversation.

It's a slice of "how architects think in 2014 and 2015," Therrien says - "an incredibly rich data set." It's something that Gehry and his staff in 1997, who presented their finished work only in newspapers and glossy magazines, could not have imagined.

"But what people in the engineering and tech world have understood," Therrien says, "is that technology changes everything."

Associated Graphic

One of the six finalists - among 1,715 competition entries - for the Guggenheim's proposed new Helsinki museum. Much work and creativity also went into the other 1,709 entries, and efforts are being made to do justice to them.

Will Pan Am village pave way for a 2028 Olympic bid?
Build team reflects on a project 'with virtually no hitches' - and how this could bolster Toronto's aspirations
Tuesday, March 24, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B8

When Toronto developers, designers and dignitaries talk of the nearly completed, ontime, on-budget Pan Am Games athletes' village, their stature grows an inch. Their eyes brighten. Their patter accelerates.

But there's something left unsaid, little to no talk of how this may play into a 2028 Summer Olympics bid. Toronto's Economic Development Committee took a pass last year on a 2024 bid, so 2028 is the next option open.

"There are some things that are starting to come up. In other words, if the Pan Am Games athletes' village is a big success, then I think people will want to talk to us," said Bruce Kuwabara of KPMB Architects, one of the two lead architects of the Pan Am village, which will become the new Canary District neighbourhood on the eastern end of Toronto's downtown.

"If it's not a big success, we won't hear from anybody," he added with clipped laugh.

"This is my own personal speculation," said Peter Clewes of architectsAlliance, the other lead designer. "I think the whole idea of the Pan Am bid was a way to demonstrate Toronto's ability to host a major sporting event, such as the Olympics.

"There have been a series of attempts in the past [to get the Olympics], and Toronto has not been successful. It has not even been close. So far, the Pan Am Games, in terms of the development side of the facilities, have gone off with virtually no hitches.

It's on time. It's on budget. It's a very Toronto, business-focused initiative, in contrast to what Vancouver did."

The Games will run July 10-26, with the Parapan Am Games for athletes with disabilities running Aug. 7-15. The village's development team doesn't shy away from contrasting their build to the financially mired construction of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games' village.

Following the Toronto games, the athletes' accommodations will be turned into condos, rental apartments and a residence for George Brown College students, joining the introduction of other apartments blocks, shops and offices in the new Canary District neighbourhood.

From the start, the winning Pan Am bid centred on creating housing that would sell well in the current pre-sale market. "We knew that any kind of approach and design and thinking on this would be based on how to make the most economical, cost-effective response in the [request for proposals]," Mr. Clewes said.

In Vancouver, site developer Millennium Development Corp. brought in a number of different architects and based the design choices on ambitious sustainability criteria and what might sell later in the market, Mr. Clewes said. On the other hand, in Toronto, although the Pan Am village has been built to a high LEED Gold standard of environmental efficiency, the focus was primarily on what would sell now in the current market, Mr. Clewes said.

"Our approach was what is selling rapidly in the marketplace now. Let's not take any risks. It's a really business-focused approach."

Currently, the Canary District Condos building, built in the first phase of construction, is nearly 90 per cent sold. Canary Park Condos, built in the following phase, is 50 per cent sold.

Mr. Kuwabara added that Vancouver's higher emphasis on lowenergy, sustainable design helped to push the pre-sale price of that housing excessively high. Although now seen as a thriving section of False Creek, praised for its green construction, the city had to take over the development of the village when Millennium went into financial trouble in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis.

"One of the first things we did was that we went to Vancouver," said Pan Am village and Canary District co-developer Jason Lester.

"We did a field trip, where not only did we meet with the developer, but we also met with the general contractor. We also met with some of the consultants and had some discussions with people within the city and the financing community, as well as anyone we could think of that was peripherally involved."

The takeaway, he felt, was that the Pan Am village and Canary District construction had to be more of a unified effort with the architects, builders and backers from conception. Mr. Lester's firm Dream Unlimited Corp. (formerly Dundee Realty) is the co-developer alongside Kilmer Van Nostrand Co. Ltd., under the joint venture umbrella name Dundee Kilmer Development Ltd.

"Believe it or not, the hardest part of this project so far was the short period of time that we had to do the actual design, come up with the concept, come up with the strategy and how to execute it, and then obviously the actual procurement," Mr. Lester said.

The overall plan for the West Donlands area had long been designed by Waterfront Toronto, the body that oversees the lakeshore revitalization. The walkways and local Corktown Commons park were also already designed, along with height and setback specifications for the residential buildings. The designers and developers had to come up with the actual building plans.

After Infrastructure Ontario then issued its request for proposals for the athletes' village, "we had to get a good idea of what the [construction] price was going to be, come up with a strategy and come up with all the financial partners in a period of about six months," Mr. Lester said. "We had a few hundred people working on that bid. That's when people were pulling all-nighters."

Yet the aim wasn't to maximize profit, he said. It was to win the bid and keep construction within budget, as well as add some breathing room to the new neighbourhood. For instance, Mr. Lester said the plan could have added "another 1,000 units or a few hundred thousand square feet on each one of these building blocks.

"Developers always think, How can I maximize the density? Here was a very different, very constrained objective."

KPMB's Mr. Kuwabara said, "Our whole concept was that we're not creating buildings. We're creating a neighbourhood, for athletes and for the people who are actually going to live there."


35 Acreage of Canary District.

6 Number of buildings to be used by athletes and team officials: five for housing - George Brown Residence building, Canary District Condos, Canary Park Condos and two rental buildings - plus the new Cooper Koo Family YMCA.

$514-million What Infrastructure Ontario is paying for the build.

Associated Graphic

Canary District co-developer Jason Lester, above, at the Pan Am village in Toronto on Friday. Below, Mr. Lester in the same spot in June of 2012 when work began to create a new neighbourhood for the Games and beyond on former industrial land east of Toronto's downtown.



Cynicism takes a break
Three artists specializing in different media showcase the power of their craft in potentially effecting change
Saturday, March 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R5

VANCOUVER -- It's not easy being a cynic in general, but it's even more difficult at a TED Conference, where you are surrounded by believers, and brainy ones at that. So it's a bit of sweet relief I get to be wowed by these highgenius-quotient talks (in 18 minutes or less) along with the rest of the crowd. Here are a few of my arts-related highlights from this week's conference in Vancouver.

The artist was present

We were instructed to put on blindfolds as artist Marina Abramovic began her TED talk, and she walked us through an early performance. It's 1974, she's in her 20s. Before her is a table of 76 objects, for pleasure and for pain. You can use everything on the table on me, she said, I will take responsibility, even if you want to kill me. At first the participants were gentle - feeding her a glass of water, handing her a rose. But things got violent as people took up the scissors, a razor blade, a pistol. She still bears a scar, and not just figuratively.

Abramovic, 68, has been making performance art for 40 years.

But it was her groundbreaking The Artist is Present at the Museum of Modern Art in 2010 that became the basis for a documentary and brought her mainstream recognition. People lined up for hours so they could sit across from her silently for as long as they wanted. "I understood when I stood up from that chair after three months I'm not the same any more," she told the TED audience. "And I understood that I have a very strong mission: that I have to communicate this experience to everybody."

It gave her the idea to establish an institute of immaterial performing art, which she is trying to build in Hudson, N.Y. Her plan for the Marina Abramovic Institute calls on visitors to sign a contract promising to stay for at least six hours, to don a lab coat and lock away their cellphones, then do some slow walking and water drinking, and then settle in for a performance of music, theatre or dance in a "long duration chair." For now, the institute operates virtually, as a platform, setting up shop at partner venues. It's now in Sao Paulo. Lady Gaga has tried it.

"I didn't make art to be rich and famous," Abramovic told me afterward. "I made art because I believe in this."

Subversive notepad

Growing up in Louisiana, Matt Kenyon was taught at school that if he had a concern about something, he could write to his member of government. Words can register political dissatisfaction, but so can art. Kenyon, 37, creates art projects that stir the pot.

The product of a military family, Kenyon, concerned about the U.S.-led war in Iraq, created a black armband modelled after an improvised explosive device.

Every time an American soldier died overseas it would stab him in the arm. But he knew there would be many more Iraqi civilian victims. As Kenyon explained during his TED Fellows talk, his research tells him it is estimated that between 150,000 and one million Iraqi civilians have died as a result of the conflict.

It was the kind of thing that you might want to write a letter to Congress about, but not on regular paper. Kenyon created tablets made up of pages that look like regular yellow notepaper. But when magnified, the lines on the paper are revealed to be microprinted text of the names of individual Iraqis who have died.

For five years, he has been smuggling it into the stationery supplies of the U.S. and the coalition governments (he didn't reveal how), creating what he calls a living monument that exists in the world and circulates. He handed out the paper at TED and asked people to use it to write to a member of government. "You can help to smuggle this civilian body count into government archives. ... Together we can put this in the mailboxes and under the noses of people in power."

360-degree tool for change

Filmmaker Chris Milk is probably best known for his music videos - particularly his work with Arcade Fire, including the interactive music video The Wilderness Downtown (where you plugged in the postal code of the home where you grew up) and the Summer into Dust glowingballs installation at the Coachella festival.

He is keen to use technology in his storytelling and a few years ago became interested in virtual reality. He wanted to do something artistic and began making short virtual-reality films. But he wanted to do more. "I used to say ... this could be a medium where you can walk in someone else's shoes and you can go to a Syrian refugee camp and feel what it actually is like to live there," he told The Globe.

At a party last November thrown by U2 (with whom he has also worked), he was introduced to a UN adviser who said he was going to a refugee camp in Jordan and suggested it would be great to film something there in virtual reality. "I grabbed him and said, 'This is exactly what I've been saying we need to be doing,' " Milk recalled. A month later, he was in Jordan with his ball of cameras capturing the Syrian refugee camp at every angle, in 360 degrees. "My name is Sidra. I am 12 years old, I am in the fifth grade, I am from Syria and there are problems," begins the resulting work, Clouds Over Sidra.

You experience the film wearing a special head contraption.

Watching it is an astonishing experience, beginning in the desert, through which Sidra's family fled, and immersing you in the refugee camp, her home for more than a year. You smile as you meet its young inhabitants and shudder at the camp's vastness.

In January, Milk took the film to the World Economic Forum, where global leaders - people who can truly effect change - were immersed in this virtual world. "And they were affected by it," he told the TED audience.

"When you're sitting there in her room watching her, you're not watching it through a television screen. You're not watching it through a window. You're sitting there with her. ... And because of that you feel her humanity in a deeper way. You empathize with her in a deeper way. And I think that we can change minds with this machine.

And we've already started to try to change a few."

Associated Graphic

Marina Abramovic, who has been making performance art for four decades, established an institute of immaterial performing art to let people experience what she learned after putting on The Artist is Present.


The best biryani in Toronto? Look no further than here
Saturday, March 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page M2

An out-of-the-ordinary new biryani shop opened quietly last November in the rear of an office complex at Finch Avenue East and Kennedy Road, in Scarborough. Its marketing budget, if you can call it that, was just big enough for a stack of business cards and a yellow vinyl banner reading "Dindigul Thalappakattu Biriyani," which the little shop's management draped beneath the previous tenant's sign.

The restaurant didn't bother to serve the usual range of sweets, curries and "short eats" snacks that are a fixture of most South Indian and Sri Lankan restaurants around the GTA. Chef Anbu Panbarasan, who is a partner in the business, does just one thing, and he does it brilliantly: He makes biryani, the one-pot, special-occasions dish of layered, slow-cooked rice, spice and meat that is often called Indian cooking's highest achievement. Even today, he still gets would-be customers who come looking for samosas or roti and leave in a huff.

Nonetheless, within a month of opening, Mr. Panbarasan was fielding van-loads of food pilgrims from Brampton, Mississauga and Niagara Falls. By the time the food writer Suresh Doss brought me in February (his mother, who lives in Scarborough, had discovered it a few weeks earlier), the chef was making several batches daily and the weekend lineups often stretched well past the door.

The chef makes Dindigul-style biryani, which originated in a mountain village in southeastern India's Tamil Nadu state. Nearly every region on the subcontinent has its own biryani variations and ingredients; close culinary relatives of the dish, which blends Persian Mughlai and Indian influences, are also popular throughout the Middle East and as far away as South Africa. But the Dindigul style is one of the most revered; it is typically far more moist and its flavours more exuberant than the average, closer in a way to great Spanish paella than to the wan, dry biryanis that are commonplace elsewhere around town.

Mr. Panbarasan's mutton biryani blends torrents of tart Indian yogurt, grass-fed mutton (its Tamil name translates roughly to "country sheep"; it's got a distinct and pleasant gaminess), whole spearmint and coriander sprigs, long green chillies and cashews.

He adds scrolls of cinnamon and aromatic pandan leaves, which soften the meat, as well as a bogglingly complex spice mix that includes ginger, garlic, mace and cardamom pods. Crucially, the chef cooks all these together with the rice in the same giant pot, rather than adding the cooked meat at the end, as many other chefs do.

The flavours soak deep into the meat and the rice - he uses a short-grained, neutral-flavoured variety called seeraga samba, instead of the more common basmati; this is another Dindigul hallmark. They mellow and intermingle through low, covered cooking. The biryani emerges lustrous, moist, the flavour dark and round from the meat and warm spices, but thrumming, too, from the fresh herbs and ginger, the yogurt's tartness, the chillies' heat.

Mr. Panbarasan tops every serving with a boiled egg and a piece of tandoori chicken, which he makes from scratch, marinating it in spice and yogurt overnight, before trips through the tandoor and then a deep fryer. The raita here - the yogurt-based sauce that's commonly served with biryani - is so chunky with red onions, carrot, black pepper and green chiles that it's as much a salad as a condiment.

After the first bite, eating becomes an involuntary act, like blinking and breathing, because to stop eating seems inconceivable. The chicken biryani has fewer chillies in it, but is just as moist.

Its flavour impact is just as much of a dropkick. When you look around the room at other firsttimers, you see stunned faces, mostly. The soundtrack of the place is disbelieving chatter.

That's all the more impressive when you realize a plate of the main event costs $10.50.

Mr. Panbarasan, who is 40, grew up in Tamil Nadu, in a town halfway between Dindigul and Chennai, the major coastal centre to the north. In his early 20s he left for Dubai, where he took a job as a cook and learned to make biryani. He came to Canada in July, 2014. He couldn't find another Dindigul biryani specialist around town.

I'm not convinced that the chef is going to be able to keep the name he's given his restaurant.

The name is a reference to the Chennai-based restaurant company called Dindigul Thalappakatti Restaurant that started the Dindigul biryani craze. The company has more than a dozen locations around South India. The name is trademarked, and defended, fiercely.

No matter what the place is called, it is worth becoming one of the pilgrims. The shop sells beer along with the biryani (the liquor licence is a holdover from its previous incarnation as Joe's Bistro), as well as the best masala chai tea I've had in the GTA. They also play Technicolor, Telugu-language costume dramas on the TV by the door, which makes it a pretty much perfect restaurant.

And even those few cranky customers who arrive in search of short eats are coming around. A man asked for samosas at lunchtime one weekday recently; Mr. Panbarasan's assistant, using the standard honorific for an older Tamil man, told him, "I'm sorry, uncle, but we sell biryani only."

The man made toward the exit, but as he was leaving, Mr. Panbarasan handed him a small plastic cup with a scoop of biryani. The man left. Everybody went back to stuffing their faces and watching the costume drama.

A minute later, the man walked back into the restaurant, grinning.

"Okay, I will have one," he said.

Follow me on Twitter: @cnutsmith


3850 Finch Ave. E. (near Kennedy Road), 905-471-6161, no web

Atmosphere: A small, friendly shop with counter service, and Tollywood costume dramas on the TV.

Wine and drinks: A few beers available, as well as soft drinks, outstanding masala chai and Bru-brand instant coffee.

Best bets: Biryani: mutton for huge flavour and huge spice, chicken for slightly less. He's also begun experimenting with fried fish and squid versions, which I haven't tried. Get extra raita, which is crazy-delicious stuff.

Prices: Biryanis are $10.50.

NB: Open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily; the batches are small, so be prepared to wait at times, especially for the mutton.

A Cheap Eats pick, where you can dine well for under $30, before alcohol, tax and tip.

Associated Graphic

Chef Anbu Panbarasan grew up in India's Tamil Nadu state and takes the flavours from that region to create his Dindigul biryani at his Scarborough restaurant.


Saturday, March 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R18

Walking on Trampolines By Frances Whiting, Simon & Schuster, 368 pages, $18.99

Australian Sunday Times columnist-turned-author Frances Whiting's debut novel, Walking on Trampolines, is a moving story about childhood friendships and first love - and how sometimes the two are one and the same. It begins in a small town called Juniper Bay, where Tallulah "Lulu" de Longland and Annabelle Andrews become fast friends, falling headlong for each other because of their mutually unusual mothers and their shared sense of humour, which they convey to each other in a secret language. But when Lulu meets Joshua Keaton, a love triangle forms that will tear the three friends apart - and yet bind them together for the rest of their lives. "I could have told her that he tasted like almonds and smelt like lemons and that the softest place on his skin was everywhere. I didn't tell her those things, but in the end, it didn't matter - she found it all out herself," writes Whiting, perfectly evoking the pain of an impossible love experienced while coming of age.

Where Sea Meets Sky By Karina Halle, Atria Books, 384 pages, $18.00

Gemma Henare and Joshua Miles come from two different worlds, but these worlds collide at a Vancouver Halloween party, where they meet and are instantly drawn into each other's orbit. The next day, Gemma heads back to her native New Zealand - and Josh realizes that what was supposed to be a one-night stand feels uncomfortably like love at first sight. The problem: He doesn't even know Gemma's last name. In fact, all he knows about her is the name of the town she's from. Soon, he finds himself dropping everything and embarking on a quest, to find both Gemma and himself. B.C.-based former travel writer Halle paints a vivid and appealing picture of New Zealand here, and while the book has its share of spicy scenes, it's also full of revelations about art, travel, friendship, family - and the importance of being brave enough to take a risk, even if there's a chance it's going to break your heart.

Mademoiselle Chanel By C.W. Gortner, William Morrow, 416 pages, $33.50

Although his novel is slightly dense with facts and details that don't always flow smoothly on the page and can make the first-person narrative feel forced, C.W. Gortner accomplishes a remarkable feat with Mademoiselle Chanel: He manages to capture and distill one of the most fascinating characters in history, and he doesn't shy away from presenting all sides of her - who she wanted to be, who she could have been and who she really was. The exhaustively researched novel is broken into acts, each one complete with a corresponding Coco Chanel bon mot, that chart her transformation from an impoverished and abandoned child named Gabrielle to the indomitable "Coco," creator of the little black dress and pioneer of the modern fashion world. Adding a delicious sense of place and time to the narrative are the mentions of Coco's many notable friends, including Cocteau, Stravinsky, Picasso and Churchill. And Gortner doesn't shy away from exploring a less attractive aspect of Chanel's story: her murky relationship with the Nazis during the German occupation of Paris.

Becoming Rain By K.A. Tucker, Atria Books, 384 pages, $18

Once you become a fan of USA Today-bestselling Canadian author K.A. Tucker, reading one of her novels begins to feel like a long conversation with your hippest girlfriend - the one who tells it like it is, the one who sometimes shocks you, the one who always has the best stories. This second novel in the Burying Water trilogy is written in her trademark style: street smart, sexy, insouciant and suspenseful. The novel follows Clara Bertelli, an undercover cop who is plucked out of her Washington, D.C. criminal unit by the FBI to work on a prominent case involving the Russian mafia; and Luke Boone, the budding criminal with a heart of gold - and a fantastic body, naturally. Clara, under the guise of socialite Rain Martines, is under orders to get close to Luke, but as she does, she develops feelings that cause ethical lines to blur. The strong female lead and impeccable pacing mingle with a racy plot line, a surprisingly sweet love story and chilling details about the criminal underworld. It's Tucker's most compelling novel to date.

The Bookseller By Cynthia Swanson, HarperCollins, 352 pages, $31.99

Yes, the Sliding Doors-style plot has been done before - but Cynthia Swanson's The Bookseller still feels unique, and, with the help of her deft prose, the author sidesteps formulaic snags and makes the most of the trope the novel is pinned on. It's Denver, 1962, and Kitty Miller is a fulfilled singleton approaching middle age. She runs a bookshop with her best friend, Frieda, and as far as she's concerned, there's nothing missing from her life - until the dreams begin. Suddenly, it's Denver, 1963, and Kitty has morphed into Katharyn Andersson. She's married to Lars, the love of her life, and somehow knows everything about keeping her elegant house, caring for their beautiful children and moving within a new social circle. At first, Kitty delights in these nighttime expeditions, but soon she begins to experience memory lapses. As it becomes increasingly difficult to move seamlessly between her two lives, Kitty realizes she must make a choice - but that no matter which path she chooses, she will lose a part of herself.

Republic of Dirt By Susan Juby, HarperAvenue, 416 pages, $22.99

Susan Juby's follow-up to her Stephen Leacock Medal-nominated The Woefield Poultry Collective has arrived. In Republic of Dirt, readers can happily revisit the madcap world of Woefield Farm, a scrubby plot of land inherited in the first volume by city-girlturned-hopeless-environmentalist Prudence Burns. When Prudence falls ill with a thyroid condition, she's forced to hand over the reins to a somewhat unlikely team: There's eleven-year-old upscale poultry minder Sara, who is charmingly wise for one so young, and whose parents' marriage is in the process of disintegrating "under the crushing weight of their mutual loathing"; reclusive bluegrass legend and grumpy old man Earl, who is now part-owner of the farm; and 21year-old Seth, who is at once a recovering alcoholic, a heavy-metal blogger, a potty mouth and a man on a mission to lose his troublesome virginity. Obviously, hilarity ensues, and Juby's light, comic touch makes this read a genuine delight. But she isn't just playing for laughs: There are also moments that are startlingly poignant, as each character is given a chance to shine - even Stan, the mule.

Increase of asbestos imports defies safety fears
Saturday, March 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B1

Despite rising fears of asbestosrelated illnesses, imports of products containing asbestos show little sign of slowing.

According to Statistics Canada figures, imports of asbestos-related items rose to $6-million last year from $4.9-million in 2013.

The bulk of these goods consisted of asbestos brake linings and pads, which hit $3.6-million in imports in 2014, a seven-year high. Other imports included raw asbestos, friction materials and some items containing crocidolite, which is considered the most dangerous form of asbestos.

The dollar amounts may not seem like a lot of money given Canada's overall trade, but in terms of brake pads that translates into hundreds of thousands entering the Canadian market each year. The World Health Organization and other agencies have said that all forms of asbestos are carcinogenic and the best way to eliminate asbestos-related diseases is to stop using it.

Asbestos is by far the top onthe-job killer in Canada, accounting for almost 5,000 death claims since 1996. Many victims die of mesothelioma, asbestosis and lung cancer, though it may take 20 to 50 years after exposures to materialize.

And yet Canada continues to allow imports and exports of asbestos, unlike other dozens of countries such as Australia, Japan, Sweden and Britain, which have imposed a ban. Canada has imported more than $100-million in asbestos brake pad and linings in the past decade. In total, more than $250-million in imports of asbestos and asbestoscontaining products entered the country between 2004 and 2014.

Canada was also one of the world's largest exporters of asbestos, though raw shipments stopped in 2011 after the last mines closed. Last year, this country exported $1.8-million worth of asbestos products.

A key concern about the brake pads centres on mechanics, who often use air hoses to clean car parts while replacing them, putting dangerous dust in the air. In the past decade, 61 claims for the deaths of auto, truck and bus mechanics stemming from asbestos-related diseases have been approved, according to the Association of Workers' Compensation Boards of Canada.

Brake mechanics, along with construction workers and shipyard workers, are among those most at risk of exposure to asbestos at work, according to the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. A tally by Carex Canada, a research project funded by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, showed 4,300 people in auto repair and maintenance are exposed to asbestos in the workplace.

The federal government has long maintained a policy of "controlled use" of the mineral and Health Canada says that as long as the fibres are enclosed or tightly bound, there is no significant health risk. It's difficult to ensure, though, that fibres stay tightly bound as materials wear out.

"It's hard to quantify the risk, but with a known carcinogen that's associated with cancers at extremely low levels of exposure, I just don't think you can be too cautious on this. And it's not like there isn't a viable alternative.

There are other brake pads out there," says Paul Demers, a University of Toronto professor in public health and director at the Occupational Cancer Research Centre at Cancer Care Ontario.

Canada's two main opposition parties want to see the end of asbestos use in Canada.

"We need to develop a comprehensive strategy to phase out the use of dangerous materials, especially asbestos," Liberal MP Geoff Regan said, adding that his party wants a ban of all asbestos use in Canada. "When it comes to brake pads, there's really no need to have these products in Canada since our manufacturers have largely replaced asbestos with safer alternatives. I can't imagine that Canadian drivers would accept the idea that these products are being used in their cars, if they were really fully aware of the situation."

Ending the use of asbestos brake pads "is an excellent place to start because brake shoes are one thing that a lot of home handymen, backyard mechanics can do on their own, so therefore you are exposing people outside the industrial setting and into the residential setting. There's unnecessary risk," said NDP MP Pat Martin, who has been calling for a ban for nearly two decades.

A couple of U.S. states have passed laws restricting use of brake pads with asbestos and momentum is building to limit their use among manufacturers and in imports.

Safer, made-in-Canada alternatives to asbestos are available, though they cost more. Rick Jamieson is president and chief executive officer of Guelph, Ont.based ABS Friction, an asbestosfree brake-pad factory. He wants to see a complete asbestos ban in Canada.

"We would like to see the same legislation [as some U.S. states] so that it's a level playing field across North America and that Canada doesn't end up a dumping ground for asbestos brake pads," he said. "Because if they're going to ban them in the U.S., they're going to go somewhere."

Marc Brazeau, president and CEO of the Automotive Industries Association of Canada, said workers' safety is a top priority and that the organization would not object to a ban provided the industry was given sufficient notice. "If there is a phase-out period and an opportunity for companies to react, I'm very optimistic and confident that our industry would react in an appropriate way," he said.

Concern over brake pads has prompted Ontario's Ministry of Labour to issue a warning. Asbestos "in aftermarket replacement brake pads poses an increased risk of asbestos-related disease for auto brake mechanics," the ministry said in a 2013 alert.

In an e-mail to the Globe, the ministry said it is "aware of and continues to be concerned about the hazard, and we are looking into what more can be done to ensure the safety of workers."

Health Canada's website still says asbestos poses health risks "only when fibres are present in the air that people breathe." It does not say that all forms of asbestos are a known carcinogen nor that even low levels of exposure can be dangerous. When asked last November if it plans to revise its website, last updated in October, 2012, a spokesperson said in an e-mail that "there are no plans to update it as the health risks to asbestos have not changed and there's nothing to add at this point."

The department said asbestos brake pads do not pose a significant health risk to consumers.


Imports of asbestos and asbestos products rose to $6-million last year. The bulk of the imported goods consisted of asbestos brake linings and pads, which hit a seven-year high.

Associated Graphic


Roused to reform the Red Chamber
'Baby of the Senate' is from a province seeking abolishment, but she says change is needed to save a valuable part of our government
Saturday, March 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A9

As of this coming Wednesday, it will be two years since Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed a senator.

That would be Scott Tannas of High River, Alta., who replaced retired senator Bert Brown. Both were first selected by the people of Alberta.

Prior to that, on Jan. 25, 2013, the Prime Minister named David Wells to represent Newfoundland and Labrador, Doug Black and Victor Oh for Ontario, Lynn Beyak for Alberta and Denise Batters for Saskatchewan.

Ms. Batters, who jokingly calls herself "the Baby of the Senate," would have to retire at age 75, which she will not reach until June 18, 2045. At that point she could be, theoretically, the last senator standing - or, if you prefer, sitting.

There are currently 18 vacancies in the 105-seat Senate of Canada.

Just prior to Christmas, the Prime Minister suggested there was no national appetite for new appointments, despite Speaker Pierre Nolin's concerns about the diminishing effectiveness of the Senate.

Indeed, following the expense scandals of Senators Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin, Patrick Brazeau and Mac Harb, there appears little if any appetite for anything whatsoever to do with the Senate.

Say the Prime Minister simply stops serving up names for the Governor-General to appoint.

And say, again, that this Prime Minister somehow wins another majority this fall and has named none by the set date of the next federal election: Oct. 21, 2019. By then, another 27 senators will have reached retirement age.

And, perhaps, Senators Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau - currently suspended without pay - will have followed Mr. Harb into retirement or exile. That would make for 48 vacancies. A handful more from death, voluntary retirement or jail and the Senate would be at half strength or less.

And given that Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau booted all Liberal senators out of caucus more than a year ago, what would be the point of repair?

Neither abolishment nor reform would be needed for an institution vanishing by attrition.

At the moment, the youngest senator is Mr. Brazeau, who would hold his position until Nov. 11, 2049. He may go well before that, which would leave Ms. Batters with the longest potential shelf life. Not surprisingly, she would hate to think there could ever come a time when there is no Red Chamber.

"This," she says, "is what I've wanted to do since I was 12 years old. Sort of a strange thing to want to do when you're 12, but every Saturday night I used to watch my two favourite shows - This Week in Parliament with Don Newman and Hockey Night in Canada. I knew that I probably wouldn't be a professional hockey player, but I did think about the Senate."

Denise Lesiuk of Regina would go on to play the organ at the Regina Pats junior hockey games.

She would study law and, at the provincial Progressive Conservative Party's 1989 convention, she would meet another young Tory named Dave Batters, who became her husband and, eventually, the Conservative Member of Parliament for the federal riding of Palliser.

In 2008, Mr. Batters went public with his battle with depression and chose not to run again. A year later, at the age of 39, he committed suicide.

His wife became an outspoken advocate for public awareness of mental-health issues.

A golf tournament in her husband's name has raised more than $120,000 and pays for 30second television spots that tell sufferers of depression that they are not alone and should "reach out" for help.

"Sitting in the Senate gives me a national platform," Ms. Batters says. "I can speak to Canadians from coast to coast and openly about the still-too-often stigmatized issues of mental illness and suicide."

She calls her late husband "an early trailblazer" in that he openly acknowledged his problems while still sitting in the House of Commons.

"It's difficult enough for people who were suffering with those illnesses 20 years before and have since successfully conquered them to talk about it," she says.

"But when someone is currently suffering from it and is an MP, that was really a brave thing to do. And it spurred me on to be able to talk about it. I still contend that suicide is the final frontier of stigma. That's one thing that still needs to be talked about."

Ms. Batters says she could have run for public office rather than accept an appointment. Her husband had even given her "right of first refusal" when supporters began pressing one of them to run in Palliser.

"The Senate was my calling," she says. "It is where I wanted to make my public contribution."

Ms. Batters sits on three committees and is joint chair of one that looks into government regulations. She has been Senate sponsor for three different pieces of legislation that have passed.

She has been to Ukraine to monitor an election. And she is part of a small, internal working group that is reviewing and hoping to improve Senate communications.

"Something that is definitely needed," she adds somewhat wryly. "Not enough people understand the important work that we do."

She knows a great many Canadians look at the $138,700 salaries and the $100-million-plus it costs to maintain the Senate and wonder what they are getting for their money apart from newspaper headlines and outrage.

"It's a valuable Canadian national institution that accomplishes so many crucial tasks for Canadians," Ms. Batters argues.

"The Senate represents and protects minority and regional interests. We amend legislation - for example, my committee helped amend the Fair Elections Act - so we provide that 'sober second thought.' " When she accepted the appointment, she agreed to supporting reform that would include a democratically accountable Senate. Ironically, her own province has now passed legislation calling for an end to the Senate and, while she disagrees with abolishment, she does concede that "status quo is not an option."

The Senate has to change or it may as well die by attrition.

"We have the opportunity to build lasting, meaningful parliamentary reform," she says. "We should seize that opportunity to build something positive rather than putting our energies into destroying one of our founding institutions.

"People just want to have a better sense of what we do in the Senate. Then they would understand, and think it's a valuable institution. But in a vacuum they may not understand that much."

First fill the vacuum and reform the institution. Then, possibly, Canadians might be open to filling up the seats again.

Associated Graphic

If the Senate still exists in 2045 and prime ministers continue to avoid having representatives appointed to the Red Chamber, Denise Batters of Saskatchewan might be the only one left.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015 Tuesday, March 24, 2015 CorrectionA Saturday feature story on Senator Denise Batters incorrectly said Senator Doug Black represents Ontario and Senator Lynn Beyak represents Alberta. In fact, the reverse is true. Mr. Black is from Alberta and Ms. Beyak is from Ontario.

Could $100,000 lift your company to the next level?
The Globe's Challenge contest expands in its fifth year, offering extra prizes to businesses with vision, get-up-and-go and a plan
Special to The Globe and Mail
Wednesday, March 25, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B7

Andrew Shepherd knew from the start that the sea salt business he started five years ago would take off eventually and that his brand, Vancouver Island Salt Co., would someday become a recognizable name in Canada and beyond.

It's all happening sooner than he had expected. Over the past six months, revenue picked up dramatically and the company is about to enter the U.S. market - a major step that will have a significant impact on the bottom line.

"We are on track to double sales in 2015 over 2014," says Mr. Shepherd, who shares ownership of his company with his business partner, Scott Gibson. "As well, we are expecting to go from about 200 regular clients to over 500 by the end of the year."

Vancouver Island Salt's accelerated development can be traced back to last September, when the company won the Small Business Challenge Contest, a national competition sponsored by The Globe and Mail and Telus Corp.

Through the contest, small businesses across the country share their biggest business challenge and explain how they would use the $100,000 cash prize to solve the problem. More than 1,000 entered the contest last year.

"Winning the Challenge has made our brand recognizable across the country and opened new markets for us, including the very important U.S. market, where we now have a new distributor setting up to take our products all over the U.S. this spring," Mr. Shepherd says.

The Challenge Contest is running again this year, launching on March 23 and ending June 1. Once again, the winning company gets $100,000 while four semi-finalists each receive $10,000 and a business prize package that includes $2,000 worth of Telus services or devices, a one-year subscription to Globe Unlimited, and mentorship from a business expert.

Ten businesses from the country's Atlantic, North, West and central regions will also receive Regional Recognition prizes of three business devices each.

The Challenge Contest turns five years old in 2015, and extra prizes have been added to mark this milestone. On top of the $100,000 grand prize, the winner will receive $10,000 to donate to a favourite charity.

Three businesses will be named Most Promising Startups, and each will be given a prize package of services, worth an estimated $5,000, from the Toronto advertising firm Agency59 Response Ltd. Fifty companies will also be given honourable mentions.

"We are so excited to be celebrating five years of the Challenge Contest," says Suzanne Trusdale, who leads small business solutions at Telus. "But most of all, we're thrilled to once again shine the spotlight on the small business community - the backbone of innovation and entrepreneurship in Canada."

Ms. Trusdale is part of the contest's panel of judges, which also includes Katherine Scarrow, Steve Tustin and Sean Stanleigh from The Globe and Mail, David Fuller from Telus, Chris Griffiths at Fine Tune Consulting, and Ami Richter from Lug Canada Inc.

"I'll be looking for stories of innovation, and of companies that are committed to sustainability and social responsibility," Ms. Trusdale says. "I also want to see a strategy as well as a clear idea of how the $100,000 cash prize is going to move the business forward."

Ms. Scarrow, small-business editor at the Globe, advises applicants to provide specifics about the barriers preventing their business from advancing to the next level. She also reminds contestants that the prize money is intended as a strategic investment and not as funding for standard operational expenses such as office administration or payroll for existing employees.

For instance, Vancouver Island Salt stated in its application that it would use the money to hire additional staff and buy more equipment to increase salt production, and to retain marketing expertise for building a brand presence in markets outside Canada. The company has fulfilled these goals since it won the contest last year.

"We hired a full saunier - or salt harvester - and purchased some new equipment, most notably a high-pressure jet pump, which saves us multiple hours of time per day," Mr. Shepherd says. "We also invested in a marketing company to improve our branding and help us get ready for international markets. As well, we had a new booth made for trade shows and attended our first big trade show in January, where we got ourselves a big-time American distributor."

Ms. Richter at Lug Canada agrees. Founders with an interesting story are likely to catch her attention, she says.

"As a business founder myself, I'll be looking for entrepreneur experiences with some heart behind it," she says. "I want to see founders who are confident, passionate and who have a clear purpose beyond just making money."

Semi-finalists and winners will be announced on the following dates: five semi-finalists on June 25, the grand prize winner on Sept. 17, three Most Promising Startups on Sept. 23, and regional winners and 50 honourable mentions on Oct. 14.

The Challenge Contest is open to small businesses across the country, except Quebec, that are owned by a legal resident of Canada and employ fewer than 100 workers.

Ms. Trusdale says she hopes to see applications from businesses built on great ideas, even if their revenues are still relatively low.

"Don't let low sales figures stop you from applying, because everybody starts small," she says. "If you think of the best companies in Canada, they really started with someone's great idea."


Previous winners offer pointers for this year's applicants.

Dare to be different

Make sure your application conveys how and why your business is unique in your market, says Andrew Shepherd, CEO and co-owner of Vancouver Island Salt Co. "At the heart of the contest is having a business that stands out," he says.

Show your strengths

Highlight why your business is either at the top of its field, or about to become the top dog, Mr. Shepherd says.

Be passionate

Now is not the time to be shy about showing the passion and purpose behind your business, says Ross Thurston, president of Calgary-based Livestock Water Recycling Inc., which won in 2013. "We really believe in our business and the good we're doing for the environment," he says. "I think that passion showed through in our application."

Demonstrate growth potential

Both Mr. Thurston and Mr. Shepherd emphasize the need to show that your business is poised for growth. If possible, include sales figures, current market share, and projections for future growth.

Associated Graphic

Andrew Shepherd founded Vancouver Island Salt Co., last year's winner of the Small Business Challenge Contest, a national competition sponsored by The Globe and Mail and Telus Corp.


An NHL team's next big prospect might be an MBA
Athabasca University adds a hockey specialty to its executive MBA program, recognizing increasing business complexity of the game
Special to The Globe and Mail
Friday, March 27, 2015 – Print Edition, Page E7

Craig MacTavish is a unique figure in hockey.

Not because of the numerous titles he's had (four-time Stanley Cup winner, broadcaster for TSN, coach, front-office employee, coach again). No, Mr. MacTavish is the lone general manager of a Canadian NHL franchise who has an MBA.

After retiring from the game as a player in 1997, he was accepted to the University of Alberta in Edmonton and the University of Western Ontario in his birthplace of London, Ont. But he declined those offers when the New York Rangers asked him to join its organization as a coach.

Mr. MacTavish later connected with Queen's University when he was finally ready to go back to school, and he completed his MBA from the Kingston-based school in 2011.

Within a few years, Mr. MacTavish might not be alone in having an MBA and being involved in hockey. Athabasca University, in concert with the Business of Hockey Institute, to which Mr.

MacTavish is an adviser, will offer an MBA in hockey starting in May.

The hockey-specific program is made up of six courses that are added to the existing executive MBA curriculum. Students who already have an MBA from another school can get what the St. Albert, Alta.-based BHI is calling a "professional hockey manager" designation by taking just the six hockey courses.

Mr. MacTavish, who's been the Edmonton Oilers' GM since April of 2013, says someone with this degree would make a strong candidate for a job in the NHL in the future.

"You constantly get queries from people that want to get into the business because it's a dynamic field to be in, and it's exciting," Mr. MacTavish explains.

"This is an opportunity for hockey people, and people who have a passion for hockey, to really differentiate themselves."

Announced in January, the online program was positioned as an elite hockey-specific MBA to help "elevate the business side of the game." Registration for the program, which is expected to attract about 30 students and have a total cost of about $79,000, began Feb. 1. The first cohort is expected to graduate in late 2017 or early 2018.

"Hockey competes for people's time and money, and enough wasn't being done for the longterm sustainability of the game," says Chris McLeod, the director of marketing and communications at Athabasca, on online university. "There's a lot that gets put in to developing the talent side, but nothing really is done to enhance business and operations."

The program, which comes along at a time when the NHL has grown into a $3.7-billion (U.S.) a year business, is the brainchild of NHL player agent Ritch Winter and Calgary Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke.

Mr. Winter says it is focused on helping drive the bottom line for hockey, but is also part of a wider trend of MBA-level programs that are much more industry specific.

"We're seeing a greater degree of specialization in almost every business. The technology and the businesses people work with have become more complicated," Mr. Winter says. "A hockey team used to be just a hockey team, now it's got digital offerings, advertising, and different gameday preparations. Without understanding each part of a business specifically, and without getting more specific academically, you're not going to get the best graduates for the business they plan to enter."

Mr. Winter spoke to Mr. Burke about his idea a few years ago, and after a couple of false starts with other schools, they landed on Athabasca.

"Athabasca has the platform - we've had an executive MBA for a number of years, but we made it clear we weren't experts in hockey," says Michael Mauws, Athabasca board of governors member and professor of business policy and strategy. "The intention all along has been to deliver the program with worldleading academics, combined with leading people from the industry."

"You'd be surprised who has called to see if they can be academics in this program," continues Mr. Winter. "We forget that some very talented people are hockey people."

The long-time agent says the idea for the program came to him when he was thinking, somewhat philosophically, about the salary cap on NHL team payrolls, and how he could use it to the benefit of his multimillion-dollar clients.

"In life, we all think about our circumstances and how we can improve them. I thought that the really interesting thing about the salary cap is that we can actually force the owners to pay our clients more money," he says. "The game has improved so dramatically on the ice, and we're in such a competitive environment, entertainment-wise, that isn't it foundational to provide a training ground for executives to drive the business?" Borrowing hockey vernacular, Mr. Winter says the program will become the source of "first-round picks" for the executive suite of NHL franchises.

"If we can bring in 20, 30, or 50 more talented people into the industry and generate more money, and strangely enough, force the owners to give our players half of that, the program seemed like a logical idea."

According to Dr. Mauws, the Hockey MBA is aimed at giving its graduates an opportunity to take their career to the next level, within the industry they're already working in.

"Ritch and Brian wanted to see the game get shaken up," says Dr. Mauws. "They wanted to improve the way the game was being run, and ensure hockey has a longterm future in the face of all the other entertainment options that are available. They really want the very best students coming to the program."

Mr. MacTavish, who oversees a player payroll of $66-million for an organization that Forbes magazine values at $475-million, knows the benefit of an MBA in an NHL front office, and why a program like Athabasca's could be beneficial for soon-to-retire NHL veterans who want to stay in the game on the business side.

"The difficult thing is that you're 35 and you should be going through a stage of your life where there should be a lot of stability.

You should be settled in to a career, with a home and a family.

But at 35, or even less than that, you're faced with a massive career change," he explains. "The people who handled it well were the people that got some other training."

Associated Graphic

Oilers GM Craig MacTavish, who has an MBA, says education helps athletes make the transition into business. 'The people who handled it well were the people that got some other training.'


Time to rethink overexposure to domestic stocks
With declines in Canadian industries, investors would be wise to go global
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, March 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B1

The sharp decline in share prices in the energy sector has left this country's investors - even the ones passively invested in equities - even more aggressively exposed to Canada's domestic economy, just as more and more warnings are heard about the financial sector and the Canadian consumer.

The pullback in energy stocks has reduced that sector's presence in the S&P/TSX composite index of 250 of Canada's largest stocks, as well as in the S&P/TSX 60, which has a similar composition.

Whereas energy stocks made up more than 26 per cent of the composite at the end of July, 2014, their share of the index slipped below 21 per cent at the end of February.

Canada's financial sector, led by its banks and major insurers, maintained its dominant share of nearly 35 per cent of the composite.

And a chunk of energy's decline was picked up by the shares of companies who cater to Canadian consumers; they now represent more than 10 per cent of the composite, up from just over 8 per cent.

These small changes in percentages may not sound like much.

But there are $471-billion in mutual funds and exchangetraded funds whose returns are closely correlated with the composite, including those who explicitly say they're tracking that index, according to Morningstar. Add in the individual stocks' holdings - the banks are wildly popular investments for individuals, given their dividends and long track records of success - and it's possible Canadian investors have never been so exposed to their own country's health - at so precarious a time."People own bank stocks, they love bank stocks; they won't sell them because the dividends are great and they don't see any risk at all in owning bank stocks," says Hilliard MacBeth, an adviser at Richardson GMP. "On top of that, they own more exposure to that sector than they realize because if they own a balanced mutual fund, or if they have a pension plan at work, or any of a number of possibilities, those entities probably have a weighting in financials, as well, so there's double or triple concentration."

Mr. MacBeth, to be clear, has a pointed view: He is publishing a book, When the Bubble Bursts: Surviving the Canadian Real Estate Crash. He has pulled all his clients' money from domestic Canadian banks, and has limited his Canadian equity exposure to companies with international scale.

The naysayers on Canadian real estate, many of whom have been sounding warnings of varying degrees for several years now, have been mocked by boosters as this country's house prices have marched steadily upward. A more middle course, cautious but optimistic, could be heard this week from Toronto-Dominion Bank CEO Bharat Masrani, who told his bank's shareholders that "our view is that a correction, if and when it takes place, would be orderly, that markets will react in an appropriate way."

Canadian investors, nearly across the board, must hope he's right. Four years ago, as gold was making a steady upward climb, materials stocks made up 22 per cent of the TSX composite. Adding in energy's share, resources made up half the composite.

The solid performance of Canada's banks, insurers and brokers in the face of gold's pullback, however, has increased financials' share of the composite from about 28 per cent in February, 2011, as gold was approaching its peak, to that 35per-cent level today.

Add in gains from stocks in the consumer discretionary and consumer staples sectors, which have also picked up mining and energy's lost share, and the chunk of the composite that is linked to the Canadian consumer is up about 45 per cent at last month's end. (Some Canadian consumer stocks, such as Tim Hortons' parent Restaurant Brands International Inc. and Alimentation Couche-Tard, do have significant international holdings that offer a blunting of the reliance on Canadians.)

"If you look at the ETFs that cover the Canadian market, like the XIU [iShares S&P/TSX 60 Index], 37.5 per cent of that baby is financials, so financials are driving a very large percentage of our market," says Kerry Harman, a portfolio manager with Burgeonvest Bick Securities Ltd. "If you compare that with the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average ETF is 16 per cent, and the S&P 500 ETF is 16 per cent, too."

A lot of this Ms. Harman attributes to a "hollowing out" of industry in Canada, including certain miners and steel makers; a loss of headquarters such as Falconbridge and Molson; and a handful of "blunders," such as Nortel Networks, which has disappeared, and BlackBerry, which is trying not to. The solution for Canadian investors, according to Ms. Harman? Go global, particularly since the limits on foreign holdings in RRSPs have been repealed. "You don't have to go to far-flung countries - just look south of the border. Those big multinationals can do a lot of the heavy lifting for investors who are concerned about what exchange their investments are traded on."

ETFs and mutual funds with international holdings offer Canadians a choice of hedged or unhedged to currency exposure, Ms. Harman says. "Here, we have been unhedged for the past year and a half, and even with very conservative investments, we've made a good bulk of our return on being unhedged to the U.S. dollar. If you believe the Canadian dollar is going to fall, as Canadians, we want to be unhedged, because we want to capitalize."

"If you look at the currency, plus the companies, it's where the U.S. can provide great opportunities for Canadian investors," she says. "Because our market is now so small, and limited."


As energy stocks have pulled back in recent months, financials have held steady in the S&P/TSX composite. Investors, however, should be mindful of their exposure to the Canadian economy: Companies in the consumer discretionary and consumer staples sector took up some of the space vacated by energy in recent months. And longer term, the collapse of the mining sector, coupled by steady performance by Canadian banks, means financials have risen from 28 per cent of the composite in 2011 to nearly 35 per cent today. Add in those consumer stocks, and the exposure is nearly 46 per cent.

Associated Graphic

Financial stocks are driving a very large percentage of ETFs that cover the Canadian market, leading to a doubling or even tripling of weighting in financials.



Small Gaudreau plays a big game
Calgary coach Hartley praises the rookie forward for his focus and hard work off and on the ice
Saturday, March 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S3


There was a moment in Thursday night's game against visiting Philadelphia when Johnny Gaudreau (aka Johnny Hockey) - all 5 foot 7 of him - took out Flyers defenceman Luke Schenn along the boards.

As hits go, it didn't register high on the Scott Stevens scale for visible impact. But it accomplished what hockey hits are supposed to do. Schenn, feeling pressure, made an errant pass into the middle that was intercepted by Gaudrea