Friday, January 29, 2016 – Print Edition, Page P25

Welcome to our sixth annual guide to making money. This year, we turned to the hedge fund manager who inspired a blockbuster and one whose hobbies are as extreme as his investing style; a surrealist aficionado and stalker of distressed assets; Canada's answer to Buffett (and owner of Sinatra's Palm Springs pad); and the man in charge of your retirement fund. PLUS Michael Bloomberg on how to save the world, and more.

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Jean-Guy Desjardins

Desjardins, 71, is chairman and CEO of Montreal-based Fiera Capital, which oversees $100 billion in assets. He also co-founded TAL Global Asset Management, which was sold to CIBC in 2001.

What's your outlook for 2016?

This economic cycle has at least four years to go before we consider the possibility of another recession. We think global growth will be stronger than expected--at least 3.5%. U.S. growth should be above 3%. Europe will be picking up, and so will Japan. China will manage to hang in there with 6.5% to 7% growth. As a result, commodity prices will go up. I would put a target on the price of oil by year-end at about $65 (U.S.) a barrel. With a rising oil price and stimulative monetary and fiscal policy coming from the federal government, it's like having three boosters to the Canadian economy. The place to put your money this year is the Canadian stock market. We expect it could gain 15% or more. The U.S. market could be up 10% in U.S. dollars, but flat or negative in Canadian dollars. We also favour buying European and Japanese equities. We are very negative on the traditional bond market.

Fiera's stock-pickers focus on "best-of-breed"companies. What are some of those names in the firm's portfolios?

We own stocks like Nestlé, Nike and MSCI, an index provider--firms that can sustain a high return on invested capital, are leaders in their industry and have a competitive edge that provides pricing power. They also tend to have a strong brand and unique distribution, while there are often barriers to entry in their space. We generally hold such companies for 10 to 15 years.

What have been your personal best and worst investments?

My best is Fiera, in which I still own a 12% stake. The value of Fiera, after 12 years, is the same as TAL was worth after 29 years. The worst was TAL, because selling it to CIBC was not by choice. It was a good transaction financially, but we were not excited. We had great ambitions for the business.

You continue to lead Fiera's asset-allocation team. What advice would you give investors today?

Underweight fixed-income securities and overweight traditional equities. For someone with a balanced portfolio of 60% stocks and 40% bonds, I would suggest bringing the equity position up to 80% and bonds down to 20%, or as low as possible. We favour not only Canadian equities, but also European and Japanese stocks. I would also rather own cash than bonds. That's because bonds are expected to have negative returns over the next three years as interest rates normalize, and quantitative easing comes to an end in Europe and Japan.

Do you have any hobbies?

I am a serious cyclist--I bike about 4,000 kilometres a year. I train weekdays in a gym. I ski on weekends. It's all work, family and exercise. That's my life. /Shirley Won

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In 2015, he received the CFA Institute's Award for Professional Excellence, bestowed on just 14 investment professionals, including:

Sir John Templeton (1991)

Warren Buffett (1993)

John Bogle (1998)

Keith Ambachtsheer (2011)

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Steve Eisman

Eisman is one of the few money managers who predicted the U.S. subprime blow-up--and had the nerve to make gargantuan bets against it. His hedge fund was up more than 70% in 2008. Eisman is a key character in Michael Lewis's The Big Short and is played by Steve Carell in the movie.

What's it like being portrayed by a Hollywood star?

I think it's a very good movie. And as far as his portrayal of me, it's not 100%. What I would say is: Eliminate my sense of humour and make me angry all the time, and that's the portrayal. It's accurate enough, but it's not really me.

We're calling you an "investing legend." What makes you a legend?

I'm flattered anybody would call me a legend. In some ways, my "fame" is an accident, due to the fact that my area of expertise became ground zero. I did the homework on my own sector, and it turned out that was the most important homework you could have done.

Post-crisis, is the financial system safer than before? Are the systemic risks gone?

If you read the newspapers, sometimes it feels like it could happen again, and from where I sit, that's just not true. The regulators learned the hard way they were wrong, and they've done a lot to correct a lot of the problems. In 2001, Citigroup was levered 22 to 1. In mid-2007, it was levered 33 to 1. Today, it's levered 10 to 1. The banking system probably hasn't been this safe in my lifetime.

Is it hard to have a second act when you go through a once-in-a-lifetime event?

It's not hard to have a second act. It's just that the second act's not going to be as exciting. Thank God--I don't think I could take it again. Running my fund in 2008 felt a little like being Noah. Noah builds his ark and he puts his family on the ark and off they go. So he and his family are safe, and everybody else is dying.

Is there any wisdom you can impart to average investors?

Do your own homework. I can't overstate the importance of this. When things start to go bad, speaking to the management of the company may be the worst thing you can do. You can walk away thinking things are okay when in fact they're not, because seeing outside your own paradigm is sometimes the hardest thing to do. In the big-bank industry from 1995 up until the crisis, every year was basically a good year. Every year, people got paid more, and every year the leverage got bigger. What happened is that the people who ran these firms mistook leverage for genius. If you had gone to one of the senior people in one of these firms in 2006 or 2007 or 2008 and said, "Dude, the entire assumptions by which you have governed your career are wrong," they would have said, "Are you crazy? I made $50 million last year. How could I be wrong?"

Are there people in your life whom you look up to?

That would be my mother and father, with whom I work today [at Eisman Group, now part of Neuberger Berman]. My mother started the business in the early '60s. Then my father decided he didn't want to be a lawyer any more and joined my mom. The most important lesson I learned from them is that investing other people's money is a holy trust. This is money they are counting on for retirement. Treat their money like it's your own.

What do you do at the firm now?

We create broadly diversified portfolios for people--long only.

What are your views on Canada, in light of this long real estate bull run?

Canada has ridden the commodity supercycle probably better than anyone else, and the only thing I'm convinced about Canada right now is that credit losses are going to go up. And not just in terms of housing--universally. The only question, and it's way too early to know, is how high? /Niall McGee

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"I think he sees himself as a defender of justice and righteousness, while at the same time being conflicted--as I think they all were about benefiting from the downfall of an economy" --STEVE CARELL on portraying Eisman in The Big Short

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Jim Pattison

At 87, Pattison still runs Vancouver-based Jim Pattison Group, which has $9 billion in sales from car dealerships, grocery chains, radio stations, fishing and more. Pattison also owns stakes in forestry and port-service companies.

Many entrepreneurs take their companies public to fund growth. Why haven't you done so?

I prefer to stay private. You have more freedom. You can plan for the longer term, and you don't have to worry about each quarter. When you make a mistake, it's also not nearly as visible. While our key company is private, we do invest in public companies from time to time.

Your firm is an eclectic mix of companies. Is there a thread that connects them?

No, it's a collection of random opportunities. We have a number of consumer-focused businesses, as well as those involved in manufacturing and the service industry. But my background is basically in retail. I started selling used cars. Then I sold new ones. I also sold products door to door--from pots and pans to adhesive tape.

What are the key attributes when looking at potential acquisitions?

We look for businesses we can enjoy being in and where we can get a reasonable return. Hopefully we can grow it. Cheap is not necessarily important. You may be better off to pay more and get a good company than wind up with a headache.

What's the appeal of two of your most unusual acquisitions--Ripley's and the Guinness Book of Records?

Ripley's is in the entertainment business. Their business is selling fun. But we find it fun to deal with all the businesses we're in. If you don't find it fun, sell it. We consider ourselves operators of businesses, not investors.

You own a stake in Canfor and recently increased your interest in Westshore Terminals, which operates coal-export facilities. What is your outlook for these resource sectors?

We haven't invested a lot in commodities. There are a lot of things you can't control in that business.

What advice would you give to would-be entrepreneurs?

Anybody who is trying to do new things will make mistakes and feel discouraged from time to time. Just be honest, work hard and, when failure comes, don't give up.

Do you have any thoughts of retiring?

No, but we've had a succession plan in place since 1979. We have an outside board of directors, and it will decide who my successor will be. We have been grooming people who can take over, including president Glen Clark, a former premier of B.C.

Do you have any hobbies?

I don't have a lot of time. I play the trumpet, but not often. We have a few vintage cars. I did buy John Lennon's psychedelic Rolls-Royce, but I gave it away to the British Columbia government to help promote tourism. /Shirley Won

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Guinness World Records

-- 130 million copies sold in 100 countries

Ripley's Entertainment

-- 90+ attractions in 10 countries

Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls

-- Canada's largest indoor waterpark resort

Nova Spirit

-- a 45-metre luxury yacht

Frank Sinatra's former home in Palm Springs

-- complete with the Sultan of Swoon's model train collection

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Boris Wertz

Wertz is one of Canada's most respected early-stage venture capitalists. He's the founder of Vancouver-based Version One Ventures and serves as a board partner for Silicon Valley VC firm Andreessen Horowitz.

What's your favourite metric as a venture capitalist?

Ultimately, what counts is customer satisfaction, so a metric like net promoter score. With brute-force sales and marketing, you can always generate revenue. But you can only build a large, sustainable company if customers love and recommend a product, and come back and use it.

What has been your best investment?

GoInstant is still unrivalled--a Halifax company that got sold to Salesforce with a 10-times return within a year. That is rare. When you invest in a company, you always assume you will be in it for 10 years.

What's your biggest investing mistake?

Passing on [Canadian start-ups] Hootsuite and Shopify. In Shopify's case, I just didn't see how much potential there still was. On Hootsuite, I completely underestimated the traction they already had and how quickly they had grown. One of the lessons of Shopify is that only a few billion-dollar companies are created each year, and if you have a relatively high conviction you're looking at one of them, it doesn't matter if the valuation is a bit high--go for it.

What subsectors in tech offer the best opportunities now?

I think we're at the tail end of the mobile platform. The next-generation platforms are all still early, but we're looking at drones, the Internet of Things, Bitcoin, Blockchain, artificial intelligence and machine learning. We think a lot about virtual and augmented reality. As a VC, you don't want to be at the bleeding edge, and mass adoption is probably a few years away. So we probably want to wait it out for another couple of years.

What areas are you cautious about?

This whole on-demand category has created large companies like Uber, which truly are marketplace platforms and tech companies. But you also have a whole slate of "Uber for X" companies that are service companies that use tech to be more efficient. Ultimately, we want to invest in tech companies, not tech-enabled service companies.

Other than venture, where do you invest your money?

Low-fee index funds and a few private equity funds where I know the manager.

What advice do you have for retail investors?

There have never been more opportunities to get involved with tech start-ups, but it's very risky. There are about 10,000 start-ups created every year, and only 10 become multibillion-dollar companies that create all the returns.

What's your investing motto?

Only invest in what you understand. /Sean Silcoff

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Jim Hall

The chairman of Calgary-based Mawer Investment Management sticks closely to the firm's value investing playbook. It may be boring, to use Hall's own description, but it works.

What's your assessment of the equity markets?

Our team doesn't see a lot of mispricings in either Canada or the U.S. Valuations seem relatively efficient, which should translate into returns in the mid-single-digit range. However, stock prices are very sensitive to interest rates right now, because rates are so low. Which means the impact of any surprises--positive or negative--will likely be magnified. As a result, it's best to stay balanced, by companies, sectors and geography.

As a value investor, what asset classes, markets or sectors look the most promising in 2016?

Domestically focused European companies have struggled for several years, but countries like Spain and Italy are reforming and recovering faster than investors may appreciate. In terms of sectors, competition has been tough on telecoms, but they're likely to find ways to sell more valuable services over their networks for many years to come.

Which sectors are the most overrated?

Real estate continues to be one we wonder about. Prices in many markets may have been held aloft by unusually low interest rates, and that era may be coming to an end. Supply also appears to be growing.

Should investors pay attention to economic news, quarterly earnings or day-to-day market gyrations--or just ignore it all?

Being informed is part of being an investor, so, yes, investors should pay attention. That doesn't mean they should act on the noise. My advice: Don't act without at least 24 hours' reflection and an honest attempt to see things from multiple angles.

What's the biggest mistake investors make?

Acting too quickly, on emotion, often within a very short time frame, and on the basis of limited information.

What has been your worst investment?

At the top of my personal Wall of shame is Bracknell Corp. It was a construction company that had its heyday building telecom networks during the Internet bubble. I recommended purchasing it at just under $9. I got out less than a year later at 70 cents, just before it defaulted. It taught me a lot about bubbles and the destructive power of leverage.

What keeps you awake at night?

Worrying is an occupational hazard, so I'm constantly running through different scenarios. On the other hand, the evidence would suggest our firm is following a resilient process, so maybe I should worry a little less. /Brian Milner

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Investing: The Last Liberal Art

by Robert Hagstrom

"Hagstrom picks up on Charlie Munger's idea that we should use multiple 'mental models' when examining problems--a critical mindset for successful investing"

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Tim Dattels

Dattels started at Wood Gundy in Toronto, then moved to Goldman Sachs in the '90s, where he became a partner and adviser to world leaders. He's now based in Hong Kong, where he leads the Asian operation for TPG, which has $70 billion (U.S.) in capital. For fun, he sits on BlackBerry's board.

What's really happening in China?

The domestic stock market in China has never been a good gauge of the economy. When the economy was on fire between 1999 and 2005, the stock market did nothing. Then, as the market slowed and issues crept in to the economy, it took off. The economy is also split into "Good China" and "Bad China." The Bad is the state-owned enterprises, which are inefficient, and have excess capacity issues and unnecessary leverage. The Good is personified by the BAT trio, Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent--well-run companies by world standards, modern management and extreme innovation. There are hundreds of these companies.

How can us little guys benefit from your wisdom?

China's growth is more modest today, but you have to remember they are adding a Canada a year in terms of GDP growth. I wouldn't stay away. Honestly, though, it is a lot easier for private equity to invest into these markets. I'm really not a fan of the Chinese equity market, because the compliance you would expect when investing just isn't there yet. For lower-risk China exposure, there are plenty of non-Chinese firms that are being very successful there. Apple and Nike are two that come to mind. If you want to get into the country directly, do it through Hong Kong.

You invest in other countries as well. Which ones?

For investors, India is more accessible. It imports almost all its energy, and lower fuel prices combined with reducing fuel subsidies will help the economy enormously. Also, its export coefficient--the percentage of its economy relying on exports--is a fraction of China's, so growth helps leverage exporting companies.

We know mega-investors think in themes that persist for long enough to extract maximum value out of their investments. What are yours?

I'd say the largest theme to emerge recently is around financial services and enabling technology. Roughly one-third of our investments in Asia have been in financial services. The "fintech" area is exploding. Alibaba is the fastest-growing deposit-taking institution in the world, and it doesn't have any branches. In 2015, more than one-third of Asians still didn't have bank accounts. Our investments in Bank BPTN in Indonesia and Janalakshmi in India, where customers borrow small amounts--usually under $3,000--have been two of our best investments. Bricks-and-mortar financial services are headed for the battle of their lives, including in Canada.

The second theme, and it's happening faster in Asia, is the move from physical shopping to e-commerce. This is having a profound impact on landlords, logistics and infrastructure.

Medical tourism and wealthier Asians paying for additional health care is another area we are heavily invested in. You hit three trends: aging demographics, increased wealth and better awareness of healthy living.

The last theme, and it ties a lot of this together, is the rapid deployment of infrastructure in Asia. This is mostly led by Chinese firms, but there are beneficiaries in Canada: Bombardier and SNC Lavalin.

Give me your 2016 outlook.

Be prepared for volatility. It's a different game now that rates in the U.S. are rising. If it persists, that will pull capital into dollar-based markets. Everywhere else where money is still almost free, it can be a dangerous world. /Doug Steiner

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Chinese market in 2015. Dattel's Asian unit, meanwhile, has posted double-digit returns for each of the past five years

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Michael Bloomberg

In 2014, after three terms as New York's mayor, Bloomberg resumed control of the eponymous company he founded in 1981. He has pledged to donate most of his $40.6-billion fortune.

What factors do you take into account when making a philanthropic investment?

The overall goal of Bloomberg philanthropies is to make the biggest possible difference in the largest number of lives. To reach it, we look to invest in issues that aren't getting the attention they should. Road safety is a good example. Traffic crashes claim around 1.25 million lives every year, and that number will increase if we don't do anything, because the number of cars on the road is growing quickly. We also focus on cities, because what works in one city often holds valuable lessons for others. We try to bring together partners wherever and whenever possible. The private sector has resources and expertise that can benefit the public sector, and the public sector has the authority to scale up successful experiments.

How do you determine the return on investment in obesity prevention or green energy?

I've always believed, "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it." And if the data doesn't exist, we help gather it. To give you one example: Almost two-thirds of the world's deaths go unrecorded, and millions more lack a documented cause. So governments and other funders often don't have enough information to focus their resources, and they can't measure whether their efforts are working. Last year, along with the Australian government, we launched a project that will begin to address these problems by helping some of the countries with the most severe lack of health data gather more of it.

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Including Bloomberg, the number of billionaires who've signed the Giving Pledge to donate the majority of their money

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Mark Wiseman

Wiseman became CEO of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board in 2012, leading a team that now manages $273 billion in assets, and generated investment income of more than $4 billion in the second quarter of fiscal 2016.

Do people ask you if they're going to have a pension when they retire?

All the time. The reality is that the CPP is an extremely reliable portion of most Canadians' savings--and I go to great lengths to explain that.

What is your investing style?

Our approach is very much taking a long-term view. In many respects, the reserve fund of the CPP has some of the characteristics of a portfolio that's optimal for somebody in their late 20s or early 30s. And as most financial planners will tell you, that is a portfolio dominated by equities, with a higher degree of risk than one would have in their 60s.

Alternative assets make up about 50% of your portfolio. What's the attraction?

We have comparative advantages individuals don't have, and that's one of the great benefits of having a large pool of assets. First, we have scale. Second, we have certainty of assets--you can't redeem your money under the CPP. And third, we have a long time horizon.

Can an individual investor mimic your style?

You can try, but you couldn't do it at the same cost. And it wouldn't be the right decision for most investors because they're not diversifying the risk across many people.

If you had to name one investment that typifies CPPIB, what would it be?

Wilton Re, a life reinsurance company, which plays to all of our comparative advantages. But more to the point, life insurance is a perfect hedge for one of the major demographic risks facing the CPP--that we've underestimated longevity. What is the risk of holding life insurance policies? It's that you've underestimated mortality.

Any big regrets?

There are two types of errors you can make. The first is easy to spot: errors of commission. You have to make mistakes. You have to lose money. If you're not doing that, you're not taking enough risks. But you don't want to make the same mistake twice. The other errors are harder to analyze: errors of omission. What is the investment you passed up on?

Do you have an example?

During the financial crisis, there were several investments we did not have the intestinal fortitude to make. We were plagued by the same psychological fear that plagues all investors. One of the ways you can fight against human nature--which is to be overenthusiastic when markets are bullish and overly pessimistic when markets are bearish--is to ensure you have certain systematic aspects in how you manage the portfolio. In other words, rebalance to the debt and equity levels you believe are appropriate for the fund. It's a mechanism as markets are falling to be buying equities, and the exact opposite happens as markets come back up. You never have to figure out where the bottom or the top is.

Do you have to be an optimist to be a long-term investor?

I'm not sure, but it would be a pretty miserable existence if you weren't. That may be one of my flaws: I would describe myself as a glass-half-full type of person.

What keeps you awake at night?

I don't sleep much, but I sleep really, really well. There's not much that keeps me up at night, except maybe jet lag. /David Berman

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1 | Government Pension Investment, Japan | $1,143,838

2 | Government Pension Fund, Norway | $884,031

3 | National Pension, South Korea | $429,794

4 | National Social Security, China | $247,361

5 | Canada Pension Plan, Canada | $228,431

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Mohamed El-Erian

El-Erian was CEO of PIMCO, the $1.5-trillion (U.S.) bond-investing behemoth, from 2007 to 2014, and authored the 2008 bestseller When Markets Collide. He's now chief economic adviser at Allianz and chairman of Barack Obama's Global Development Council.

Growth seems sluggish in just about every major economy. What does this mean for investors?

The quest for higher and more inclusive growth means the fundamental drivers of sustainable returns are being challenged, increasing investors' dependence on exceptional liquidity injections from central banks and cash-rich companies. Markets are coming from a period in which such repeated liquidity injections have delivered three gifts to investors: high returns, low volatility and favourable correlations. As the Fed starts its interest-rate hiking cycle--albeit a very gradual one that I call the "loosest tightening" in its modern history--this source of liquidity support and volatility repression will become less uniform. This is likely to place an even heavier burden on corporate cash injections, be they stock buybacks, dividends and/or M&As. It will also intensify the tug of war between liquidity support and sluggish fundamentals, leading to more frequent bouts of greater volatility. Investors will need to focus more on fundamentally driven investment.

Now that the Fed has started to raise rates, what should Canadian investors keep in mind?

Absent adjustments in other policies, the divergence in the monetary policy of the world's most systemically important central bank will lead to greater currency and interest rate volatility. The impact will be felt in other market segments, including commodities and equities.

How can individual investors protect themselves?

Investors need to be able to stomach greater volatility in their holdings of risk assets, and they need to have a larger cash cushion--both to enhance portfolio resilience and to provide opportunities for new investments in the likely event of adverse price overshoots. Also, be careful when it comes to liquidity give-ups and insist on sufficient remuneration up front.

Are continued low prices for oil and other commodities a good thing for investors or not?

It depends on where they're invested. On one hand, lower commodity prices have helped contribute to the unhinging of three market segments already: oil, high-yield bonds and foreign exchange in emerging markets. The consequences have included sharp losses and harrowing volatility. On the other hand, these lower prices have delivered windfalls to consumers and input-heavy companies, thereby providing opportunities for investment outperformance for certain segments. /John Daly

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Wilbur Ross

Ross is chairman and chief strategy officer for New York-based WL Ross & Co., an affiliate of Invesco. The 78-year-old contrarian has made a fortune betting on troubled banks and distressed assets in industries such as steel, coal and textiles.

Where are the opportunities now?

We have purchased quite a few distressed bonds of exploration and production companies in the oil patch, mainly in the U.S. shale industry. Near-term, we do not see a major upward movement in the price of oil, but by 2017 or later, the price may stabilize closer to $60 (U.S.) a barrel. We have put about $1 billion to work in marine transport--mostly crude oil and petroleum tankers--including stakes in Diamond S Shipping Group and Navigator Holdings. We have also made a small commitment to the building materials sector. The theory is that home and apartment buildings are very much on the rise, and sooner or later the United States and other countries have to deal with the need for more infrastructure. We are now looking at the base metals and mining space, including Canadian companies. My guess is the commodity sector will hit bottom in 2016.

What is your outlook for China?

We don't think the economy is going to grow at anything like 7%, which is a very aggressive target--more like 4% to 5% next year. The mix of the economy is changing. It used to be driven by capital investment. Now, it is being driven by growth in service industries, and those industries don't use a lot of raw materials. That is why you have the slump in commodities. It is, however, a big market with rapidly growing income. Chinese products, transportation and gaming companies would be good places to invest. So far, we have not been much of an investor in open-market securities in China. Our two main activities have been running a clean-energy fund with China's largest electric utility, and investments in 17 factories.

What do you consider to be your best investment?

I created my business within Rothschild in 1997 and then bought it from them on April 1, 2000. For someone becoming an entrepreneur, I thought maybe April Fool's Day would be a good start. It has turned out to be the best rate of return I have ever had.

What about your worst investment?

Anybody who invests in risky things is bound to make mistakes, but it's a fairly small percentage. We try to make returns on the order of 20% a year, so you can't afford too many.

What advice would you give investors today?

Find companies you believe in and think are attractive. Then, put in buy orders at 5% or 10% below market. We are in a very volatile period, so you may get lucky.

You're an avid art collector. Does your approach to art differ from investing?

You buy a painting or a sculpture because you love it, and want to own and cherish it. I don't view art as something in which we are speculating. Art is very illiquid and volatile, particularly the contemporary side. Our main collection is surrealism, and particularly René Magritte, a Belgian surrealist. If you deal a lot with distressed companies, surrealism is a natural thing for you to collect, because distressed companies are in their own surrealistic world. There is usually something a little bit strange, a little bit skewed or out of order. It is art that is both visually attractive and intellectually engaging.

Do you have any investing mentors?

That would be Benjamin Graham and David Dodd, who wrote Security Analysis. They laid the foundation for value investing--that is, buying stocks that are fundamentally cheap and taking a long-term view. /Shirley Won

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Greg Boland

Boland finished 2015 by leading a group of shareholders in a deal to sell Wind Mobile to Shaw Communications for $1.6 billion. That's hardly his first windfall--as head of West Face Capital, he has become one of Bay Street's shrewdest hedge fund managers.

What do your best investments have in common?

Our most successful ones have been large, concentrated investments in companies that have fallen on hard times for reasons that are maybe misunderstood by the broad market and where there is a reasonable amount of complexity. Maple Leaf Foods, Hudson's Bay, Stelco, UTS Energy--these were great companies that had very valuable assets but a great amount of investor pessimism.

How has your investment process evolved?

Being a contrarian and buying at the nadir of investor confidence has always appealed to me psychologically, I don't know why. The result is you often get some bumpy rides at the beginning. If you're trying to catch a falling knife, you can get a few nicks on the way down.

For the retail investor with a contrarian streak, where might you direct them?

If the energy sector generates a lot of restructured companies, post-restructuring equities are often pretty interesting--they've already cleansed their balance sheets, they've solved their problems, their enterprise values are compressed. But what generally happens with individual investors is that when you get through a period of distress, you're so beaten up that you're less likely to play offence.

Are investors too easily sold on trendy investments?

The types of investments that can be turned into narratives are very appealing. And when that narrative breaks down, and it becomes a complicated investment, it tends to get orphaned by the marginal investor. That can be when it gets most interesting--when the story can't be explained in an elevator pitch. We can spend hundreds of hours going through all the scenarios, but that's extremely labour-intensive. Unless you're doing an incredible amount of your own work, trying to pick stocks is really tough and probably prone to random results.

Are you influenced by any famous investing figures?

Most of the famous deep-value investors--the Warren Buffetts and Seth Klarmans. But you have to find your own way. You have to do something others aren't doing. One of the few ways you can get an edge is to get involved in a contrarian situation, do a lot of work and really understand the outcomes.

What was one of your worst investments?

With Connacher Oil and Gas, we invested at the tail end of an M&A cycle. We didn't have a large investment in it, but we lost 100% of our capital. We didn't anticipate the world changing as quickly as it did. It's a lesson you learn over and over again--how to quantify the worst-case scenario. In that case, we misquantified it. /Tim Shufelt

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For kicks, Boland heli-skis, climbs mountains, and wind-surfs swells in Hawaii. A few other daredevil execs:


Electronic Arts

(surfing and triathlon)

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(hot air ballooning)

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(car racing)

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Associated Graphic

Desjardins at Fiera's Montreal Office. He bought the painting in Italy--it's by Massimo Giannoni, who often paints the NYSE trading floor

Steve Eisman at the Midtown Manhattan office of the Eisman Group, where he works with his parents, Lillian and Elliott Eisman

From his headquarters overlooking Vancouver's Coal Harbour, Jim Pattison scours the globe for bright investment ideas

Vancouverbased Boris Wertz has invested in dozens of startups, including Frank & Oak, Indiegogo, Wattpad and Upverter

An expert skier (who's also blind in one eye), TimDattels skis all over the world, but most often at Whistler, where he hits the slopes early, then heads to his cabin at the bottom of the mountain to work

Mark Wiseman, the man Canadians are counting on to support them in retirement

Monday, February 01, 2016

Slow plane to China
It's nearly every entrepreneur's dream to crack the vast Chinese market--with its $10-trillion economy and 1.3 billion consumers. Iain Marlow tagged along with Vancouver-based float-plane operator Harbour Air as its top executives rice-wined-and-dined their way across the Middle Kingdom
Friday, January 29, 2016 – Print Edition, Page P49

In a Chinese province you've never heard of, in a city with more people than you thought possible, a Canadian CEO is sitting down with Communist Party officials to a dinner of stewed offal, chicken's feet and fermented "stinky" tofu that the CEO says smells (and tastes) like "a horse's barn." He is doing so with a short, bespectacled Chinese billionaire who has bought half of the man's Vancouver-based company in an unlikely alliance that may soon see float planes buzzing along the Yangtze.

But before that can happen, the rice wine comes out of a back room, carried by an elegant waitress in the employ of the local Party office. Dressed in a sedate black outfit, she flits around the enormous round table filling up each guest's tiny, personal glass jug with throat-searing Chinese rice wine, known as baijiu, or "white alcohol." The toasts are about to begin, and they are not the day's first: The billionaire has already been forced to take an early-afternoon nap, after pounding back baijiu at lunch.

So it goes in China. Sometimes, when foreign businesspeople come here, they are feted with extravagant banquets of Peking duck among the gleaming towers of Shanghai or Beijing. And sometimes, when they arrive to help pry open some obscure part of China's endlessly alluring market of 1.3 billion people--as Greg McDougall of Harbour Air has--they end up in a place like rural Anhui province, in a rather unremarkable regional capital like Hefei, dining with Communist officials who, in this case, happen to be in charge of industrial development in a district called Binhu. And as the evening progresses and the toasts become not table-wide events but stand-up, one-on-one affairs, the baijiu is choked down not from the minuscule shot glasses placed next to each guest's jug, but from the jugs themselves.

Pretty soon, almost everyone in the room has toasted the evening's main guests: McDougall, the straight-talking entrepreneur who turned a ragtag operation of pilots into the world's largest all-seaplane airline; the Chinese billionaire Zuo Zongshen, who built a motorcycle repair shop into an industrial empire and now wants to bring McDougall's float planes to China's mist-shrouded mountains; and the district's newly appointed Communist Party secretary, Ning Bo, who has ambitious plans for transforming the lakeside region now under his control into a tourist attraction for China's growing middle class.

In a way, they all need the other. McDougall needs Zuo to finally take Harbour Air international after a couple of unsuccessful attempts. Zuo needs McDougall to help transform an industrial empire that has been sputtering as China begins to transition away from manufacturing to domestic consumption. And Ning, like local Communist officials across China, wants his own district to shine--and having a famous, Beijing-connected billionaire like Zuo, not to mention a foreign partner like McDougall, is almost too perfect.

As the dinner progresses, the minor guests--including me--begin moving around the table and exchanging business cards in a highly choreographed dance. But McDougall, Ning and Zuo remain where they are. At one point, McDougall is surprised to find himself being embraced by the local Party boss, Ning.

"I love you very much," Ning tells him in limited English, looking deep into McDougall's eyes. "I love you very much."

When McDougall was a boy, his father owned a rustic cabin on an island off British Columbia's Sunshine Coast, a scenic strip of coastline and islands that stretches north of Vancouver. The family lodge was located on a five-acre island, in the middle of a lake on a larger island, that his father bought in 1947 for $200. To get there, the McDougalls had to take a ferry, drive to a boat landing, take an aluminum boat to the bigger island, and portage through the woods before taking another small boat to their cabin, which was on a lake so clean, he says, you can still drink the water.

It was on this lake that McDougall fell in love with float planes, which for decades have buzzed over the massive Douglas firs of the Pacific Northwest. One pilot in particular would often land on the lake and tie up to the family's dock to have a swim or a cup of coffee with McDougall's father.

Though his parents were both Canadian--his father was a teacher, his mother a nurse--McDougall grew up near Santa Barbara, California, and the wild life of a seaplane pilot was irresistible. "I always knew that when I got out of high school in California, I would just stay here one summer and learn how to fly--which is what I did," he says.

He landed his first pilot job flying float planes out of Fort Simpson in the Northwest Territories, lifting off the Mackenzie River and taking supplies into remote First Nations villages. By the early 1980s, McDougall was flying for a struggling West Coast outfit called Hyack Air. Then he hooked up with a real estate entrepreneur who owned a plane and operated from a barge in Vancouver's harbour. When the recession put an end to his boss's high-flying exploits, McDougall asked if he could lease the plane and dock. Another pilot soon joined up with his own de Havilland Beaver, and Harbour Air was born: a short-haul airline for a land of trees, mountains and water.

The company's history has been turbulent, to say the least. One of McDougall's former partners died in a plane crash near Squamish, B.C., after his Grumman Goose hit bad weather. Another got busted with 73 kilograms of weed he hoped to fly south of the border. A third partnership ended when McDougall's co-owner, a wealthy Albertan named Kenn Borek, was killed in a car crash, along with his daughter, on the icy roads leading to Grand Prairie, Alberta. His death gave McDougall full control of a company that was then riven by internal feuds. "It was a shitty way to get it," he says, "but it was transformational."

With McDougall as its sole owner, Harbour Air took off. At the time, the float-plane business was largely seasonal and highly fragmented. But McDougall flew regular scheduled flights (particularly between Vancouver and Victoria) as well as charters, and began buying up other operators, including the only float-plane facility in Whistler. Today, Harbour Air has 43 aircraft--mostly single-engine Otters and Beavers. But there's only so much opportunity flying short-range aircraft in a province of 4.7 million people.

"Our market here is mature," says McDougall, "so it made sense for us to look for new investment. And also, I guess I'm kind of looking down the road. What's my exit strategy?"

Over the years, McDougall had considered many proposals for international expansion. Let's bring your float planes to Indonesia! To Greece! To Malta! He even visited Shanghai back in 1994 to discuss a possible deal, long before the Middle Kingdom had any middle class to speak of. But those efforts crashed. Then came the financial crisis, and investment dried up.

In 2014, Harbour Air went looking for investors and ended up meeting Joanne Yan, a consultant who'd known Zuo for years. When the billionaire showed up in Vancouver to visit friends, Zuo took a few jaunts on Harbour Air's planes, to play golf and search for real estate deals (he ended up buying 500 acres on Bowen Island), and was taken with the idea of bringing the concept to China. And after months of back-and-forth, with complex documents being translated from English to Chinese and back again, Zuo agreed to buy 49% of the company. Then he hired Harbour Air's top executives as consultants to help set up a tourism operation in China.

Finally, McDougall had a real shot at going global.

Zuo was born in 1952, just three years after Mao's Communist army declared the creation of the People's Republic of China. At age 10, his accountant father decided to leave Shanghai for Chongqing, in southwestern China, part of the government's bid to spread growth to poorer, inland provinces. By 1966, the Cultural Revolution had plunged China into a state of confusion and terror that would last a decade. Zuo's school shut down. "I was in high school for a year," he says, "and then three years of nothing."

He was sent to the countryside in 1969 to learn about the peasants that powered Mao's revolution and landed in a small farming community 200 kilometres from Chongqing. "I was just like a peasant, ploughing the soil," Zuo says from a couch in his suite at a five-star hotel in Hefei, as he puffs away on elongated Chinese cigarettes. "We grew rice and wheat and yams and potatoes. It was hard work." He was paid ¥30 (about $6.30) for a year's work.

Zuo tilled soil until 1974, when he was allowed to return to Chongqing. There, he worked in a porcelain factory, making more than his former annual salary each month. But he was unsatisfied. "There was no future," he says. Four years after returning home, as China's population began to boom, Zuo started buying and selling local goods like books and fruit. He also got married--but his wife soon tired of his unpredictable income. And so, in 1982, around the time China's total population tipped over one billion, he opened a motorcycle repair shop. "I just learned by doing it," he recalls. "At that time, I felt it was very complicated. But looking back, it was quite simple."

When the Chinese government began allowing the creation of private enterprises in 1992--spurred by Mao's successor, Deng Xiaoping--Zuo founded Zongshen Group in Chongqing. He began manufacturing engines, then marketed a 70cc motorcycle of his own in 1996. As China's economy boomed and workers began to accumulate disposable income, millions of them bought their first motorized vehicles: cheap, Chinese-made bikes. Zuo's business flourished, and he expanded.

"The demand was bigger than the supply," he says, wreathed in cigarette smoke. "Of course, seizing market opportunities needs hard work and management skill. But most important was that the government opened up the opportunity for individuals to own their own companies."

Zongshen Group, with its 20,000 employees, is now one of the largest motorcycle manufacturers in China--it churns out around four million bikes, electric bikes and three-wheelers each year, and exports many of them to emerging markets in Southeast Asia, Africa and South America. The company also runs joint ventures with Piaggio, the Italian scooter manufacturer, and Barbieri, an Italian maker of small agricultural machines. In 2015, Zuo had a net worth of $2 billion (U.S.), according to the annual Hurun Rich List. He has gone from uncertainty and grim, rural impoverishment to sumptuous urbanity and wealth.

"I've followed China's development," Zuo says simply.

A decade ago, if you wanted to take the train to Anhui province, you'd first have to fight your way through crowds of ragged migrant workers sleeping in the giant square in front of Shanghai's central train station. Then you'd have to jam into an ever-shifting queue of peasants jostling to be first at the ticket counter. When you finally found a seat on board, you'd rumble out of the station on a 12-hour overnight journey.

Today, the subway glides into the shiny new Hongqiao station on Shanghai's outskirts, and escalators ascend to a cavernous main floor loaded with electronic ticket machines. The high-speed train practically floats out of the station, covering the 468 kilometres to Anhui in just three hours.

In Hefei, the province's ho-hum capital, broad boulevards are congested with BMWs, buses, motorcycles and sputtering three-wheelers loaded with farm produce. The hotel where the Harbour Air and Zongshen executives are camped out has a view shrouded in the smog of unprecedented and unsustainable growth. Just 25 years ago, Hefei had a population of 715,000. Now it is a city of almost eight million, on par with London or Hong Kong.

In the morning, Brent Davies, a restaurateur who sits on Harbour Air's board of directors and owns a minority stake in the business, stands in the middle of the hotel's cavernous lobby, examining a soaring Greek column that's already missing some tiles.

"I wonder how long this is going to last," Davies says.

Then Zuo sweeps into the lobby with an entourage.

"How's your business?" Zuo asks Davies.

"A very good year," Davies replies.

"You should open a restaurant here," Zuo says, "or maybe a high-end Chinese restaurant in Vancouver."

"I've wanted to do that for years," Davies says.

"I'll find you the best chef," says Zuo.

When McDougall arrives, the group files out of the hotel and into a waiting minibus en route to the local government development promotion office for Hefei's Binhu district. There, a 15-metre-wide diorama shows a vast new industrial area that will house back-office functions for major Chinese banks operating in the area.

"So there are currently no subways?" McDougall asks.

"No, it's under construction," his government minder replies. "Next year, we'll have three lines."

"In Vancouver, we'd still be planning," McDougall mutters.

Zuo stands in a dark blue suit and brown brogues, glasses at the tip of his nose, watching a promotional video on a massive screen over the diorama. The camera swoops above the district's lake--the future home of Zuo's float-plane base--and through the skyscrapers of the new white-collar district. Soaring music plays.

"Do you hear that?" asks Chad Wetsch, Harbour Air's vice-president of ground operations. "They ripped off the Lord of the Rings song!"

The crew piles back onto the bus. Outside the windows, everything is under construction: office towers and hotels, an indoor water park, an amusement park (complete with half-built Ferris wheel) meant to attract 60,000 people a day, a retail complex that developers hope will one day house Hermès and Versace. The area's population of 400,000 is expected to double soon--all of them potential float-plane passengers.

Our next destination is a grassy hill overlooking the lake--and an under-construction marina. Eventually, Zuo hopes to fly tourists 220 kilometres south, to the rounded, cloud-piercing peaks of Huangshan, or Yellow Mountain, which looks like an ancient Chinese scroll painting. But thick, white haze hangs in the air, and it's impossible to see more than 100 metres.

"Why is the sky always like this?" Davies asks. "Every time I'm in China, it's like this. I've never seen the sun."

That's a problem: Float-plane pilots fly by visual flight rules (unlike commercial jetliner pilots, who fly using instruments). If they can't see through the smog, they can't fly.

"What are the lake conditions out there?" McDougall asks.

"Not many waves," replies Jay Wang, who works for a local investment company.

"When are they actually going to develop the marina site?" McDougall asks. That's where the float planes will land and dock before flying tourists to asyet-unbuilt luxury hotels near the mountains.

"In a year."

"When they say it will be done next year," says McDougall, shaking his head, "it will."

"We talk fast. We do everything fast," Wang replies. "Two weeks ago, there was no grass here."

McDougall looks down: The grass is yellow and trampled, with the occasional patch of parched, cracked dirt.

"I think it needs water," McDougall murmurs.

China is a country in transition. It couldn't remain an export-led, manufacturing-centred economy forever. And so the government is struggling to keep its GDP growing as it tries to orchestrate a transition to domestic consumption, advanced research, high-tech manufacturing and greener technologies that will put an end to the smog that darkens the country's skies and poisons its people.

As part of that campaign, gas-powered motorcycles like the ones produced by Zuo's industrial empire have been banned in 200 Chinese cities, including most major metropolises. Although good for the environment, that's bad for Zongshen Group's business--particularly as rural Chinese continue to pack into big cities. At the same time, increased shipments of cheaper products to emerging markets have put Zongshen at the mercy of volatile currency shifts.

To hedge against these changes, Zongshen has diversified into agricultural machinery and electric vehicles, and plans to get into liquefied natural gas (retrofitting vehicles to run on natural gas and building components for LNG import and distribution). "We feel great pressure," says Zongshen's chief investment officer, Li Yao, who has spearheaded the shift. "All of the enterprises in China are facing this transformation. If you don't transform, you will die. If we transform, we will survive--maybe."

Now that the Chinese government has opened some of its low-altitude airspace (1,000 metres and under) to civilians, aviation is another target for expansion. So far, Zongshen has invested in Harbour Air and an airspace evaluation and planning consultancy aimed at Chinese governments. Zuo has already forged partnerships in China to build drones with both civil and military applications. The long-term plan is to manufacture planes, too.

Zongshen isn't the only company interested in this space. Victoria's Viking Air has signed a strategic partnership to make Twin Otters in China. And U.S.based Textron Aviation, which owns Cessna, Beechcraft and Hawker, is also eager to help expand the industry. Alden Zhang, Textron's Shanghai-based flight operations support director, is a Zongshen consultant and tagged along as Zuo visited officials in Anhui. "We're here to help China set up the general aviation industry. And then maybe they will buy one of our aircraft," Zhang tells me. "Gulfstream, Bombardier, Embraer--they don't think like this. They just want to sell planes. But for us, once we develop the industry, that will be a huge benefit to our company. We have forecast this market will be booming."

To people used to the pace of change in the West, these hopes might seem far-fetched. But things move startlingly fast in China when the government wants them to. The state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China unveiled its C919 airliner in November, just seven years after its creation (see "Blueskying it" on page 21). And Zongshen--a company few in the West have heard of--is a perfect example of how China's private enterprises are pushing ahead even faster, pursuing profits by following Beijing's path. Zuo seems to see himself as a sort of general helping execute Beijing's long-term strategy. He is politically connected as a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, and on the wall of Zongshen's Chongqing showroom, there are photos of him greeting former president Hu Jintao. He takes Beijing's policies to heart, from the "One Belt, One Road" plan to export the nation's excess industrial capacity, to the "Maritime Silk Road" emphasis on countries such as Indonesia. As wages increased in China--Zuo says his workers are paid 50% more than five years ago--he built factories in Vietnam and Thailand.

"China is facing another adjustment," Zuo says. "The past 30 years of high growth have been the biggest economic development in the history of the world. But the government has seen issues in the current structure. Europe has been through this, and Japan. We need to follow the same route. If this is successful, China's economic growth will be extended and stay strong."

"If it's not successful," he adds, "we'll face issues."

But as Zongshen and Harbour Air push forward in China, they're not exactly flying into clear skies--literally or figuratively. One of the issues is planes. Harbour Air can't deploy its own fleet of trusty Otters and Beavers here, since those hardy aircraft went out of production decades ago, making them something of a rarity. Harbour Air rebuilds its planes every five years; the parts are new, but the fuselages date from 1953 to 1967--"vintage," McDougall calls them. That makes them ineligible for import into China, which bars planes more than a decade old.

That's why as McDougall was sampling the charms of Hefei, Harbour Air's president, Peter Blake, and its vice-president of operations and safety, Eric Scott, were in an even more remote city, inspecting potential aircraft for the venture. Up in Harbin, in China's north, they examined the Harbin Y12, which is built by a state-owned Chinese company. They also visited a city whose name neither man can pronounce (Shijiazhuang, about 300 kilometres southwest of Beijing) to inspect a joint-venture factory building Textron's Cessna Caravan.

From there, they flew to Chongqing, where Zuo owns a luxury guest lodge on the side of a steep hill overlooking the city of 30 million, then drove five hours to Wushan, the proposed site of Zuo's second float-plane base. Wushan is a tiny agglomeration of newish apartment blocks that hugs the shore of a Yangtze tributary. Technically, this is the new city of Wushan; the old one sits 95 metres below the boat on which Blake and Scott are now standing, one of the many towns flooded when the Three Gorges Dam was built more than a decade ago.

The pair have already scoped out the dock area for the new marina. Now they're looking at the likely air route from the Wushan harbour through the scenic Longmen Gorge--past its ancient Buddhist temple, a group of rambunctious monkeys and ancient wooden coffins stuffed into caves on the steep cliff faces--to the Nine Lakes National Wetland Park on the other side. As the boat begins its slow journey, small groups of fishermen wave as they power past in wooden skiffs. Blake and Scott's tour guide, Tan Guochun, a local whose old Wushan apartment now lies deep under water, grimaces at the rubbish floating past.

As the yellowish stone walls of the gorge rise on either side, Scott and Blake chatter excitedly.

"There isn't a pilot I know who wouldn't want to fly through this gorge--and they could do it," says Scott, who used to fly water bombers. "But with paying customers on board? Flying through the gorge would be a lot of fun, but it's not the right thing to do."

His eyes take in possible obstructions to a future flight path. There are bridges and electrical towers, none of them outfitted with warning lights, since China doesn't really have low-flying aircraft yet. That means pilots will have to fly higher, into thicker clouds and fog. Wushan is famous for them, surrounded as it is by hills and mountains. How feasible is a float-plane venture that could be grounded half the time due to poor visibility?

"Fog, clouds and airplanes don't really mix," says Scott nervously.

There are other issues, including a pilot shortage. China barely has enough pilots as it is--Scott says he gets two e-mails a week from scouts looking to fill commercial airline jobs here that pay $280,000 (U.S.) a year. But float-plane pilots are another breed entirely. Landing a plane in a busy harbour means dodging boats and towers and wires, through fog, smog and rain. Float-plane pilots are hard enough to find as it is, but in China they don't exist. Zongshen and Harbour Air are looking at establishing a pilot-training operation on the B.C. coast.

Blake--who's a pilot like the rest of the Harbour Air guys--doesn't pretend to know whether this is going to work. "The business side of this, I can't tell," he says. "The advantage here is volume. You've got this body of potential customers just by sheer volume."

Zuo is counting on that. But he's not stopping here. He has already signed a deal with China Minsheng Investment Corp.--one of the largest investment holding companies in the country--to chase float-plane opportunities in Indonesia. There's an ethnic-Chinese business elite there, he says, that would be willing to help them out.

He needs McDougall, too. Zuo bought half of Harbour Air to access its founder's valuable knowhow on a permanent basis. So while McDougall might see this as his chance to exit the business, it's clear Zuo--with his China-sized ambition--wants to keep McDougall as far away from retirement as possible, rather than watch him retreat to his second home in Santa Barbara or that lovely cabin in the woods (which remains off-grid but is now equipped with a helipad).

As he finishes up at the board meeting in Hefei, beneath a Chinese-style banner proclaiming the Zongshen-Harbour Air partnership, Zuo summarizes quickly.

"We'll have Hefei, and this other location in Chongqing. These projects have government support. They're taking some of the pain and subsidizing some of the costs. And now we have Indonesia. If we can focus on these three projects, it will be very lucrative," he says.

He turns to McDougall. "You could be working for us for 10 years," he says. "And it will be very lucrative for everyone involved."

"As long as it's fun," McDougall shoots back. "And lucrative."

"I promise you," Zuo says. "It's going to be a fun ride."

Associated Graphic

Photographs By Andrew Querner

A Harbour Air pilot gets ready to take off from Vancouver's Coal Harbour

CEO Greg McDougall opens the doors on a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver at Harbour Air's hangar in Vancouver

McDougall and his partner, Chinese billionaire Zongshen Zuo, attend a presentation on promoting industrial development in Hefei--a city the size of London or Hong Kong--in rural Anhui province

Photograph Iain Marlow

Eric Scott gazes at low-lying clouds as the boat sails through the Longmen Gorge--following a likely route for the float-plane venture's Wushan operation

Shadow flipping
An opaque real estate practice has led to a wave of house flipping in Vancouver's housing market, but it's not buyers or sellers reaping the benefits. Kathy Tomlinson uncovers how middlemen are fuelling a feverish surge in house prices - and making a fortune in the process
Saturday, February 6, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A10

VANCOUVER -- They had a deal.

The Rappaports' home, on Vancouver's West Side, would net the couple $5.2-million last year. Jo and her husband had bought the stately Craftsman home in 1987 for $362,000. They raised their sons there and loved it. But the neighbourhood had changed. Investors were razing the houses and it was time to move on.

"It used to be the prettiest block," Ms. Rappaport said.

"And it has been a construction zone for the last two years."

The couple suspected the house would be torn down, like so many others on their lush and lucrative street, but they stood to profit nicely. There was some toing and froing over details, then a slight change of plans. For reasons the Rappaports never quite grasped, they were no longer selling their property to the foreign businessman whose offer they had accepted. Instead, they were selling to his real estate agent, Wayne Du of Amex Broadway West Realty, who told the Rappaports that he and the businessman's wife would be purchasing instead, as co-owners.

The Rappaports weren't thrilled, but there was nothing they could do to prevent it.

Their contract, after all, contained what's called an "assignment clause," which gave the businessman the option to sell or transfer his interest in the property before the closing date.

Three months after the deal closed, the new broker-owner relisted the house - which he then had a stake in - and resold it for $6.2-million, a substantial if not unusual price increase that works out to roughly $11,000 a day. Mr. Du is now advertising the house for sale again for $6.58-million. It's all perfectly legal, even if it displeases the Rappaports.

"It's obscene," Ms. Rappaport said. "I had no idea our house was going to be resold. We were shocked when it was flipped."

Assignment clauses are an obscure but increasingly ubiquitous feature of domestic real estate transactions in B.C.'s Lower Mainland, where feverish real estate prices have triggered a frenzy of buying and selling, and a national debate about the risks of an overheated market and the role of foreign investment. As part of an ongoing investigation into the phenomenon, The Globe and Mail examined scores of transactions and hundreds of records, and spoke with more than a dozen real estate agents and observers to understand the role of assignments in the Vancouver market.

The findings shed light on an opaque and speculative realm of the housing market, in which properties are traded one or more times before a deal closes - legal but controversial flipping that creates opportunities for agents to make multiple commissions and investors to profit tax-free from houses that are not yet technically in their possession.

Because assignment sales are rarely listed publicly, they have created a thriving grey market that is accessible largely to investors, speculators and real estate agents who have insider information.

What's more, the assignment market appears to reward neither the original seller nor the ultimate buyer, despite pushing prices higher and higher: Sellers receive less for their properties than what buyers are finally willing to pay at the end of the chain. And buyers - many of them foreign or backed by foreign investors - pay more than they would have to if the middlemen weren't involved.

The resulting distortions threaten to strain the public's trust in the real estate brokerage business, according to some in the profession, while others openly question the sustainability of a market they are heavily invested in - and helped create.

"It worries me a lot that this could all come crashing down. I worry about it all the time," said one Re/Max agent, Khalid Hasan, who said he owns or coowns 15 to 20 properties, all destined for resale.

"A lot of people are just assigning and flipping in this market - because they can make more money," said Mr. Hasan, who said he's bought several properties through assignments. "We witness assigning all the time - crazy assignments."

Mr. Hasan cited one recent case, in which two investors paid $2.5-million for side-by-side properties, then quickly assigned the contracts to a foreign buyer for $3-million.

"They got half a million dollars for doing nothing," said Mr.

Hassan, who - like many real estate agents who spoke with The Globe for this story, whether anonymously or on the record - would only refer to transactions without identifying the properties in question.

Easy money

While many agents make quick, easy money charging fees for arranging assignments - up to $50,000 a deal - others go for bigger profit by buying and selling houses themselves.

While it is virtually impossible to determine the degree to which real estate professionals are personally invested in the market, anecdotal evidence of a brisk insider game abounds - the vast majority of it legal, though some running afoul of regulations enforced by the Real Estate Council of British Columbia.

In an effort to get a glimpse of how many real estate agents trade in property, The Globe and Mail reviewed more than 2,000 public records - including building-permit data, sales transactions and land titles. The method is imperfect, but no one keeps track of how much trading is being done by and among agents.

In one sample of 250 houses sold and resold in Vancouver's West Side for more than $2-million in recent years, 11 per cent involved buyers and sellers with the same names as real estate brokers. Some listed their occupation as "Realtor," several others as "businessperson." In Vancouver, 1 per cent of the population are brokers - meaning that figure is is potentially 10 times what might be expected.

The Globe also reviewed records of 1,585 building permits issued in the suburb of Richmond since 2011. More than 200 of the single-family properties - 14 per cent - were owned by people who were brokers or shared a name with a broker; or by a numbered company with a broker listed as a director. Some owned multiple properties. A sample of 2015 Vancouver building permits yielded similar results. (Building permits are instructive because broker-owners often demolish an older house, build a new one and sell it for up to double their purchase price.)

In an already tight market, analysts said, all of this activity ties up inventory, contributing to unhinged prices, as brokers and investors hold property and trade empty houses.

"It does propel the market upward," said housing-market analyst Ben Rabidoux, who does market research for institutional investors. "They are feeding into the market and making it hotter, while padding their commissions. It's just so toxic."

The Globe also reviewed several MLS ads, where an investment property owned by an agent is listed for sale by themselves or their brokerage firm.

Other agent-owned houses are not on the market, but sitting empty - possibly being held until prices go even higher.

Empty houses are a bone of contention for many Vancouverites, given the lack of affordable housing.

Agents who say they are not involved in speculation said it feels like a rigged game. "With upset clients - that's where it leaves me," long-time broker Carsten Love said. "They aren't given the time and the chance to go after properties. Everything moves so quickly."

The amount of money being made in some deals is astonishing, particularly when buyers purchase, demolish, rebuild and resell.

Nan Zhang, of Royal Pacific Realty, was in the process of getting her real estate licence in 2014, when she bought an older house in Vancouver for $2.8-million. She had it knocked down, then rebuilt. Nineteen months later, she sold her property for $5.6-million - netting an estimated $2-million profit, after substantial effort of her own.

The original seller, Hong Shen, said she was shocked when The Globe informed her how the broker had profitted. "I'm very angry," she said, acknowledging there was not much she could do after the fact. "The buyer would buy the house with no conditions, so I said yes."

By law, brokers must tell buyers and sellers, in writing, if they have a personal interest in a deal before the offer to purchase is accepted. They're also required to inform sellers if they plan to resell.

When she purchased Ms. Shen's house, however, Ms. Zhang was not yet a licensed real estate broker, so she had no obligation to disclose her intention to resell or rebuild the property. She did nothing wrong.

"It was my husband's deal," Ms. Zhang told The Globe by telephone. She considered it an unremarkable transaction in a market such as Vancouver's.

"There are lots of successful investments," she said, questioning why one like hers was drawing attention.

Quick deal, long close

In faster deals involving assigments, brokers or their assistants often entice homeowners to sell by knocking on their door and offering a clean deal on the spot.

After the offer is accepted, however, the buyer doesn't close on the deal. Instead, the broker arranges to assign the contract, sometimes more than once, for fees that range from $20,000 to $50,000, according to real estate experts and court records.

Routine real estate deals close within 30 to 60 days, in most cases. By contrast, assignment deals often involve long closes, which provide an even greater window of opportunity for flipping. Sellers who agree to a quick sale in a hot market often demand closing periods of up to six months, so they can find where they're going to live next.

Often, the seller has no idea their property is being resold before they move out. Realtors told The Globe the downside to flipping through assignment is that they can't show the house to the end buyer, for fear of upsetting the seller, who is in the dark about what is going on.

"There should not be a Wild West mentality where Realtors can just knock on homeowners' doors to get a sale, then use a sales contract to reassign it to numerous investors," said Mr. Rabidoux, the market analyst.

"They have no idea that when they are talked into selling their property, they are effectively selling a call option that is going to be assigned to other buyers."

Middlemen do not pay landtransfer taxes on assignment deals because the property is not technically changing hands.

The transfer tax - $38,000 on a $2-million sale in B.C. and increasing with the price - is triggered only at closing, when a final buyer assumes the title.

And while assessment takes into account any price changes between offer and close, this leaves an unusual loophole in which assignment flipping is effectively tax-free. This loophole diminishes the effectiveness of the tax as a deterrent to speculation.

Assignment deals can also lead to litigation. Broker Leo Zhang of Sincere Real Estate Services is accused by seller Wen Hsien Tsai of devising a scheme to acquire Mr. Tsai's home for less than it was worth, then make a profit assigning the contract. In a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court, Mr. Tsai alleges Mr. Zhang approached him at his West Vancouver home last year, saying he had a buyer who would pay $5.1-million, on the spot. Mr. Zhang would get commissions from the buyer and the seller, which is allowed under B.C.'s realestate rules.

Mr. Tsai accepted the offer with no conditions. In the six months before the closing date, he alleges, Mr. Zhang and the buyer, Zhixiang Li, assigned the contract to a numbered company, which then assigned it again - to an end buyer - for $7.2-million. Mr. Tsai claims the broker stood to make $50,000 extra for arranging the deal, while the other middlemen split the remainder of the $2-million "lift." No money changed hands, however, because the seller refused to complete the deal.

In court filings, Mr. Zhang claims the original buyer legitimately wanted to move, but couldn't sell his house. He also alleges Mr. Tsai approached him, wanting to sell, not the other way around. Mr. Zhang's statement of defence also pointed to the contract, which contained a standard clause allowing it to be assigned.

Both Mr. Tsai and Mr. Zhang declined comment. None of the allegations has been settled in court.

Assignment clauses are intended to give buyers a legal way to back out of a purchase if their circumstances change. In that way, they also protect sellers, whose deal is protected so long as another buyer or assignee is found. They became an issue about six years ago with presale condominiums that hadn't been built yet. Buyers were assigning the contracts for a higher price.

Many condo developers put a stop to that, however, by removing or altering the clauses allowing it.

In the Lower Mainland's redhot, high-end housing market, however, the assignment clause is a powerful instrument to make profit; it is, paradoxically, both cause and effect. Many sellers, though, don't even know these clauses exist - let alone that they agreed to one in their sales contracts.

"A properly advised seller would insist on a no-assignment clause in the contract - but I have never seen that on a house sale," said Ron Usher, a lawyer with the association representing B.C. notaries.

Phil Sunderland and his sister sold their parents' house - where they grew up - for $1.6million, to real estate broker P.K. Kainth of New Coast Realty.

Mr. Kainth wasn't the original buyer, however. He got in by assignment before the deal closed.

He then built two new houses there, which he now has up for sale - at $3-million each.

"I'm sorry when I see what's happened there. We were told [by the city] there was no way that property could be subdivided," Mr. Sunderland said. (A city clerk told The Globe the lot was split into odd shapes, but still passed the requirements.)

The broker remained compliant with disclosure rules because - as in the Rappaport deal - he jumped in after the initial offer was accepted. The rules require brokers disclose to homeowners if they stand to personally profit if they are making an offer, not if they acquire the property later through assignment.

"As the sellers, we are in the dark," Mr. Sunderland said. "It's a non-functional regulation."

The rules are enforced by the self-governing Real Estate Council of B.C., which investigates complaints against licensed brokers. However, The Globe found several instances where sellers didn't know about a broker's interest or didn't understand how it played out - let alone where to complain. Some deals were made on the spot - in one day - where sellers felt real estate agents took advantage of them.

Gloria Amirault sold her Vancouver house to a numbered company, where a broker is named as director. Her house also wasn't for sale, but a friend called saying another broker had a buyer who wanted to meet that day. By dinnertime, Ms. Amirault had sold for $2.1million. The numbered company flipped the property three months later, for $300,000 more.

"I was told I couldn't get any more," Ms. Amirault said. "I was not told they were going to flip it. I think it's dishonest."

The broker whose name is on the corporate records told The Globe he had nothing to do with the deal or the company; he simply put his name on the numbered company "a long time ago."

There is an exception to the rules governing brokers, saying they don't have to disclose their vested interest if it's in a company where they don't own more than 5 per cent of the shares. There is no way to check that, however, because in B.C. shareholder information is not public.

'Poor Canadians'

Many brokers use assignment clauses to make money as middlemen, but one fast-growing Vancouver-area firm has gone a step further: actively encouraging its agents to invest in real estate. New Coast Realty opened in 2012 in Richmond and now has 400-plus brokers and several locations. In a recent blog aimed at real estate professionals, then-vice-president Benson Wang told them insider information gives them an edge.

"Purchasing properties with your real estate license is a great way to earn money for yourself," Mr. Wang wrote. "Listing agents looking to get a property sold will come directly to you with offers that you can choose to undertake. This means you get a clear advantage over other investors."

The Globe found several properties registered under the names of brokers working for New Coast.

Lynn Yang worked as an assistant for one of New Coast's top brokers in 2014. She said one of her jobs was to knock on doors and persuade homeowners to sell quickly in private deals arranged by her boss.

"We would circle an area and try to buy them all - and then flip. [Homeowners] would be told: 'I don't know English, my English isn't very good. I just want to buy your house,' " Ms. Yang said.

Brokers' assistants are not bound by the rules governing agents.

"Maybe you say you are working for a Realtor, maybe you don't. You tell them, 'I really like your house. Can you sell it to me? We will make a deal,' " said Ms. Yang, who is in a dispute with her former employer over $20,000 in wages she claims she is owed. "I am disappointed in the Canadian government. They don't have the sense to look at what's happening out there. Poor Canadians - they just don't understand."

Bilingual ads by New Coast suggest it's interested in "purchasing land, old houses and commercial real estate." However, its managing broker, Josh Rosenberg, insisted New Coast itself has never purchased property from clients - and its ads are aimed at attracting other buyers.

"I can see how they might be read to suggest that New Coast might be interested in buying real estate, but that is just the result of perhaps not the clearest translation of marketing materials," Mr. Rosenberg said.

Three other staffers who recently left New Coast spoke to The Globe on the condition they would not be named. They described curious tactics to get homeowners to list houses for sale with its brokers - including paying clients $2,000 up front.

Brokers are encouraged to maximize commissions, the former staffers said, by then selling to buyers also represented by New Coast. One former broker said foreign buyers often pay too much, believing there are multiple offers.

Mr. Rosenberg told The Globe he had no knowledge of these tactics and would not permit them. "I have never seen evidence of any of these things at New Coast and they would not be condoned," he said.

Another high-level insider said some brokers also help buyers assign contracts - up to three or four times - until a final buyer pays top dollar. Helen Yin, a former New Coast broker, said she was encouraged to make more money that way, but didn't.

"I don't want to do that.

Because when I do the deal, I want to go home and sleep," said Ms. Yin, who is also in a wages dispute with New Coast and has filed suit in smallclaims court.

New Coast takes half of each broker's commissions, in exchange for providing listings and other supports - which is unusual in the industry. At most firms, experienced brokers receive their commissions, then pay various fees to the brokerage.

Mr. Rosenberg said New Coast complies with all rules governing real estate brokerages. He acknowledged contracts are assigned, calling it "common practice across the industry." He said any suggestion that foreign buyers are paying a premium is "an unsubstantiated insult."

William Messer was the managing broker for New Coast when the business started. He said the owner, Ze Yu Wu, hired him to interpret Canadian real estate rules for Mr. Wu and the company's board of directors.

"They get Chinese [clients] who are ignorant of the market to buy their high-end investments. They tell them it's going to appreciate and they will have a tax-free gain," said Mr. Messer, who believes foreign buyers are treated unfairly in the current system.

Mr. Messer said he wrote to the Real Estate Council of B.C. in 2013, expressing concerns that both sellers and buyers weren't being properly informed on what properties were really worth, which is against the rules. He left the company soon afterward.

'It's a travesty'

The Globe attended a New Coast seminar for aspiring brokers last November. Mr. Wang, lead instructor at the time, told them to stay as close as possible to Chinese buyers when they visit Vancouver, to "be their translator" and encourage them to offer top dollar for a property.

"Pick up the client at the airport. Drive them to a hotel. Pick them up first thing in the morning and then drive them around until they make an offer - that day," Mr. Wang said.

He also encouraged the would-be brokers to charge foreign clients for as many services as possible.

"I have multiple properties and an annual income 10 times higher than the average Canadian. I am making more money than multiple doctors," he said.

Mr. Wang said he left New Coast in January.

Before he started New Coast, owner Mr. Wu bought several properties in Richmond, which resulted in complaints and lawsuits from homeowners who alleged they'd been duped into selling for less than their homes were worth.

In documents filed in court, Leo Boucher said Mr. Wu approached him at his house, offering him $840,000 in a private deal. Mr. Boucher is a senior and said his wife had cancer at the time. He sold to Mr. Wu for $950,000 in 2011, and soon found through an appraisal that his house was worth $1.25-million. Mr. Boucher claimed 57 people on his street had been approached with similar offers.

Mr. Wu responded to the suit by claiming he spoke no English and then countersuing. The case was settled confidentially.

Jim Davis agreed to sell his deceased mother's home in 2011 for $870,000 - the same day he was approached by Mr. Wu.

"He said he was looking for a house for his family, he liked the area and he wanted to raise his family in the area," Mr. Davis said in an interview.

Records indicate Mr. Wu then quickly assigned the contract to another buyer for $100,000 more. Mr. Davis filed a complaint with the Real Estate Council against Alban Wang of Amex Sunrich Realty, the broker who facilitated the deal. The regulator said it received 12 similar complaints. It gave Mr. Wang a 14-day suspension for his role.

"What the hell is wrong with our government that will allow these guys to operate like this?

It's an absolute joke. It's a travesty. He got an unpaid vacation," Mr. Davis said.

In recent years, the council has disciplined 13 brokers in B.C.'s Lower Mainland for failing to disclose their interest in deals, some involving assignment of contracts.

"We are seeing an uptick in the number of complaints about assignments," said the regulator's professional standards adviser, Maureen Coleman. "We treat it very seriously because it speaks to fundamental duties to clients - disclosure and conflicts of interest and remuneration."

It's considered professional misconduct when brokers do not follow the disclosure obligations of their codes of conduct.

The maximum penalty is losing their licence.

However, in the 13 cases reviewed by The Globe, 10 of the agents were suspended for three months or less. The council advises people to read their sales contract and hire a lawyer before signing.

Mr. Love, the Realtor, said that, while much of what's going on is indicative of a hot market, he thinks it's tainting his profession.

"It's a dangerous type of business - you are opening yourself up to all kinds of issues and problems," Mr. Love said. "They are committing a sin in our business in that we put our clients first."

Follow me on Twitter: @KathyTGlobe


Buyer #1 agrees to purchase home for $2-million from seller. Buyer's real estate agent will get a commission of $25,000

Buyer's real estate agent finds Buyer #2, who agrees to buy the contract for an extra "lift" of $300,000. Real estate agent will get $25,000 from Buyer #2 for arranging the deal

Buyer's real estate agent then finds Buyer #3, who agrees he will pay another $300,000 for the contract. Real estate agent gets another $25,000 fee from Buyer # 3 for arranging this deal

At closing, Buyer #3 pays $2-million to original seller; $300,000 to Buyer #1; $300,000 to Buyer #2. Home is purchased for $2.6-million. Real estate agent makes $75,000 in fees and commissions

Associated Graphic

This property on West 29th Avenue was purchased in 2014 for $2.3-million. The buyer, who was in the process of getting a real e licence, demolished and rebuilt the house, selling it 19 months later for $5.6-million.


The Rappaports sold their Craftsman home for $5.2-million and it was back on the market three months after the deal closed for $6.2-million. It's up for sale again for $6.58-million.


Assignment clauses in real estate transactions allow properties to be traded multiple times before a deal closes. Agents can earn multiple commissions and investors tax-free profit.


'As the sellers, we are in the dark,' Phil Sunderland said. 'It's a sham. It's a non-functional regulation.'


Lynn Yang is upset at Ottawa's lack of awareness.



John Allemang is an opera super - essentially an extra. His roles vary widely, and sometimes require feats of physical endurance, though he never sings. So why does he do it? Because, as he writes, 'I'm in the presence of recognizable greatness, but I'm also instrumental in making it come to being'
Saturday, January 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page R1

This is why I got into opera.

I'm lying under the steeply sloped stage at the Four Seasons Centre, trapped head-to-head in a cramped crawl space with three other supers, as we're known in the operatic trade, for reasons that clearly have nothing to do with superiority.

Under the leadership of the fifth member of our tight little team, a dancer named Alex who exudes a finger-tipped grace that ought to be impossible in these harsh, immobilized conditions, we are ready to simulate fire in the Canadian Opera Company's production of Wagner's Siegfried.

A few minutes before, we were summoned from our dressing rooms to the stage-left holding area just beyond the view of an audience caught up in the saga of our fearless hero, who will forge a sword, slay a dragon and find love over five otherworldly hours.

Time passes slowly in Wagner. But when the assistant stage manager gives the word, we move quickly and efficiently to our positions. One by one, we duck our heads as low as possible and crawl through a maze of dark, body-sized passages past members of the production team who help set up our subterranean berth and direct us through the moment-to-moment intricacies of the coming scene. The first time I tried out this unforgiving circuit, in a test to see which of us supers was small enough, agile enough and demented enough to take on this choice role, I was immediately reminded of the hellish tunnel in the film The Great Escape, the one that drove Charles Bronson mad.

We all eventually converge, like five points on a head-centred compass, at a single, claustrophobic spot beneath a small circular opening in the stage. This hole represents a fire-pit, the forge where Siegfried will fashion an invincible death-dealing sword out of shiny metal fragments that are the shattered remains of an epic weapon from the previous opera in Wagner's Ring Cycle, Die Walkure. Because the stage is sloped, we would be visible to the audience and destroy the illusion of abstract fieriness crafted by director François Girard if we weren't garbed all in black: a black balaclava covering our faces (and the safety glasses we wear just in case), arm-length black gloves, a black tank top and sweatpants, even black kneepads for the rough, wobbly crawl to our final resting place.

And then suddenly, wonderfully, it's showtime: When the cue comes, we strip off our gloves, inelegantly push them down the front of our sweatpants, shove our legs against the closest support beam and begin to transform our rising hands into a unity of moving fire. Peering through the tight mesh of the balaclava, we sync the undulating motions of 10 arms with Stefan Vinke, our hugely energized and encouraging Siegfried, as he stares down and directs the darting of the flames using broad sweeping gestures, bellows-like exhalations of breath, an almost fiendish cackling that makes us chuckle, and tenor heroics of growing exuberance that match the swelling sounds of the outsized COC orchestra.

For a full 22 minutes, lying on our backs in what are arguably the best seats in the house, reaching up and across to a central meeting-point of red-lit flame (the rigging for the lights digs into our shoulders, not that we have time to notice in our state of pain-denying exhilaration), we waft our hands in rhythmic waves, sparking our fingers in sudden jumps as Stefan bangs the sword fragments together, occasionally reminding each other in urgent whispers to slow down our collective gestures. "It's like you're moving through molasses," assistant choreographer Stephen Cota told us in the rational calmness of the mirrored backstage rehearsal hall. But Siegfried's sword-forging excitement is as infectious as the inspirational music he's singing at a massive, orchestra-transcending volume just a few inches from our ears, and sometimes, caught up in the incomparable, orgiastic, operatic moment, we forget to be fire and become fans.

Like discovering wine

Fandom at some level has to be the reason we've signed on as supers - short for supernumerary, a very fancy word for extra, which is the last thing we consider ourselves to be when we're sweating under the stage and sacrificing our bodies to one of the greatest and strangest of the arts.

I didn't grow up with opera. In the new Toronto suburbs of my youth, the horrifying jauntiness of My Fair Lady was the only theatrical vocal music I knew. When I made a failed attempt at drum lessons as a 13-year-old, I heard some distant scales being sung at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Music that sounded quite disturbing, but apart from the choir at our Lutheran church and an unwelcome invitation to a friend's sister's performance in The Mikado, formal singing didn't exist - certainly not as a pleasure.

So what brought me round? I can look back and find a number of personal counterparts to my maturing love of opera's bigness, its disciplined perfection, its unconventionality in a conforming world, its status as a refuge for people who don't fit in (particularly forceful women with loud voices and strong feelings), its alluring connections with other languages, other cultures, other histories. I didn't carry around simplistic stereotypes of opera being just for the rich, or being limited to the antics of Bugs Bunny cartoons. I was listening to John Coltrane, humming the Elizabethan songs of John Dowland, hitchhiking across North America, studying Greek, cooking head cheese, and running up hills for fun as a dissatisfied, questing teenager and twenty-something. Opera when I finally found it had just as much to offer me.

My mother used to listen to a CBC show called Gilmour's Albums, where the host would play the big hits of opera alongside Bob Newhart comedy routines as if there was nothing special about the unlikely juxtaposition. I'd find myself humming the famous duet from Bizet's Pearl Fishers just because I liked the heroic passion of two blended male voices, and bought into the old-school enthusiasm that Clyde Gilmour, a newspaper movie critic, could bring to this seemingly foreign art form. I started to do some acting at school where collective singing was part of the mix, and the loss of inhibition that stagework offered, this opportunity to become someone other than my ordinary, disenchanted self, was potent.

I moved to England to study. My university pals faithfully attended the touring opera that passed through town as if it were a normal thing to do. I went to Paris with a girlfriend who insisted we see the famous Chagall ceiling at the opera-house. I hadn't realized this meant seeing a show as well, but as a result my first experience of live opera was Verdi's rarely seen Sicilian Vespers. By the time the bracing overture ended, I was hooked.

It was like discovering wine, and I probably went too far too fast in trying to become an expert, an instant sophisticate. With a friend from Oxford, I'd buy cheap obstructed-view seats at Covent Garden in London, and learned how to scurry down from our post in the gods to a nearby pub for a pint or two at intermission, just like a regular.

Back in Toronto, I tried to become a journalist, and drawing on my makeshift expertise, wrote the occasional article about the Canadian Opera Company, where I learned about supering. I put my name in, and got measured - the key to being a super, because in the end it's not about how you look or how talented you are, but whether you fit the costumes. I even decided to take singing lessons, thinking I might as well try to become an opera star since I wasn't going to make the NHL or write for The Globe and Mail. I got to the point where I sang songs by Cole Porter, John Dowland and Franz Schubert to friends and family at my music-class show. If nothing else, I'd faced down a few fears.

And that might have been that, except that when I returned to London, and soon realized I was getting nowhere, the COC suddenly summoned me to be a villager in a production of Massenet's Werther. It was 1979. A new life as a super had begun.

'Are you nuts?'

That's not really how my story ends. I did Werther, which led to Verdi's Otello, which I performed in the day after getting married. That marriage led directly to my 27-year break from superdom. After my success as a storm-fearing citizen of Cyprus and drunk carouser in Otello, I was invited to super in Bellini's Norma, which was to star the great Joan Sutherland. I felt as if I'd made it to the top, if only as a super.

My wife was in the advanced stages of pregnancy. I foolishly asked if she could attend all our rehearsals, so I'd know the moment she went into labour. This request did not go down well. I decided I had to quit. But years later, telling stories to my daughter as we walked through Italy, having exhausted every other strand of my life, I talked about being a super. She, too, was disenchanted with the world as commonly defined (it's in the genes, obviously) and immediately set out to be measured. When she got home, she asked if I was interested, and within a few days we were both cast in Beethoven's Fidelio as ruthless interrogators in a Kafkaesque dystopia. My singing career may have gone nowhere, but I now got to open a COC opera by descending a seemingly infinite ladder carrying an armful of interrogation files. It was pure bliss.

We don't sing in our operas, it should go without saying. That's a feat best left to the professionals, who in this production of Siegfried are the finest in the world at what they do. Every now and then a naïve, first-time super will get caught up in the fun and start humming along to the Toreador song in Carmen or the Anvil Chorus in Trovatore, and corrective retribution will swiftly follow - a stage manager or a veteran super makes it all too clear that our job is to shut up and serve others.

It's a humbling and ennobling experience at the same time, which has to be why I enjoy it more than almost anything I've done in my life. I'm in the presence of recognizable greatness, but I'm also instrumental in making it come to being on a scale of sound and spectacle that can't be matched in the more subdued, reasonable parts of the world I normally occupy. This feeling of controlled frenzy isn't all that far from the visceral experience of playoff baseball in a packed ballpark, except that I'm not just a spectator, but actually on the field, playing the game I'm watching.

That's one comparison. But when I'm hemmed in under the stage, concentrating on our collective work and denying the pain with an intensity so heightened that I have to tell myself to breathe, it also reminds me of being stretched out in the dentist's chair, willing time to go by in an altered state of complete mental displacement - albeit with much better music.

There are 23 of us crazies in Siegfried, and I still remember the first rehearsal a month ago when our choreographer, Donna Feore, knowing what lay ahead, shook her head and said to the mismatched collection of retired teachers, martial-arts instructors, landscape architects, part-time judges, hospital administrators, physics students studying the origins of the universe and moonlighting journalists, "Are you nuts? Why do you want to do this?"

It was an early test of our commitment, but also a welcome-to-the-club kind of greeting that set the tone for the long hours and hard demands that followed. COC supers get paid $13 for a rehearsal and $14 for a show, which essentially covers the cost of downtown parking and a vending-machine snack - although you learn early on that eating in costume is a firing offence. When you become a super, you give up your weeknights and weekends and, in Siegfried, even a number of weekdays - try telling your manager, as I foolishly did last week, that you can't complete a project on time because you're exhausted from working on your fire hands.

'Was that you?'

The Act I forge scene is just a small part of the supers' contribution to Siegfried - and the least demanding, it turns out. In Act II, we have to lie inert on the hard stage for the better part of an hour and awaken just long enough to slither forward and share the extended death throes of the dragon Fafner - voiced with stage-rumbling resonance by the bass Phillip Ens, but collectively played by our mesmerizing dancers in a tiered network of wires and harnesses that oscillate graphically as Siegfried repeatedly thrusts home his magic sword and the lowly supers writhe alongside.

"It's easy," said the COC's co-ordinator of supers, Elizabeth Walker, a few months ago when she first described to me our potential roles in Siegfried. "All you have to do is lie on stage for a while. And then you get up and form the ring of fire."

I needed some luring. I'd never been a big fan of Wagner's intellectualized epics, much preferring down-to-earth, conventionally beautiful and sentimental Italian operas like Puccini's La Bohème, and the everyday kind of supering activities that went with them - being a swaggering soldier, a market-square dilettante, a costumed version of me.

Lying on stage turns out to be the toughest thing I've ever done in the 12 operas I've been a part of. When you've goofed in your set-up, your arm goes numb 10 minutes in, and the feeling becomes unbearable, there's nothing you can do but wait it out and discover what you've been missing in Wagner all these years - such as the enticing beauty of Jacqueline Woodley's forest-bird song floating above our pained, prone bodies as she beckons Siegfried toward his Brunnhilde. Although to be honest, I also find my attention wandering off to the prospect of beer and the imagined aromas of freshly baked bread that await me when I get home at 11:30 p.m. and settle in to a late sandwich and a calming crossword. In this kind of prolonged drift, it's all too easy to fall asleep - the key thing is not to snore or shout out when a vigilant fellow-super suddenly elbows you awake.

A 20-minute break for intermission, and then we're back on the floor for the start of Act III - this time packed tightly together in a brain-shaped configuration, where we represent the disordered fragments of Siegfried's mind. As the act progresses, we roll out across the stage in our low-to-the-ground slithery fashion, contort our way to our feet and collectively emerge as the fiery ring that surrounds the sleeping Brunnhilde - with all of us moving our hands above our heads in harmony (if the show comes off as planned) by staring straight at the audience, but still sneaking a peripheral glance at our neighbour.

Early on in our rehearsals for this extended act of teamwork, I asked Ms. Feore what she looked for in a good super, and she quickly answered, "Body awareness, agility and musicality." I'm pretty sure I've got the first quality from my hockey days of spotting who was open for a pass, away from the play - or my parenting days of trying not to step backwards and trip on a kid's toy. Although my agility will never rival the dancers in our midst - who astonished us one evening with a group performance of German slap-dancing from The Sound of Music - it turns out that I'm an effective slitherer in a show that prizes discreet, low-level movement. But musicality? Epic fail. As opening-night approaches, I'm still not confident about the all-important music cues and am losing sleep over the tightly choreographed movements in Act III that I continue to mess up.

After a few minutes of our strength-sapping display of fire hands, we have to turn on cue, count to eight, take nine slow, encircling paces, each to a 1-2-3-4 count, 16 more to a 1-2 count, then a deliberate walk to our various appointed positions where we all assume different postures at the tinkling of a specific harp cue and set our unmoving gaze on the awakening shape of Brunnhilde for another 15 minutes or so. It was a lot easier when there was someone counting out loud for us in the early rehearsals, but now that darn orchestra is getting in the way.

So I fall back on my dominant skill, body awareness. To maintain the proper look of Wagnerian seriousness, I try very hard not to remember how our Brunnhilde, Christine Goerke, first introduced herself to our group by sliding between the two silk sheets that envelop her hidden body on the stage and announcing, "I'm the filling in the quesadilla." Opera singers, contrary to reputation, are a hoot.

After this, it's dead easy - stand up in a one-by-one sequence if your crossed legs haven't fallen asleep, walk backwards and sideways till you find a prominent underfoot seam at the top of the stage, hang out for another 20 minutes of Siegfried/Brunnhilde rapture, and then disappear one by one to an exact count - I, for example, leave 35 seconds after my departing neighbour surreptitiously taps me, and then tap two more colleagues who will begin their count as I exit.

All that remains is the curtain call, where we get to pretend that some part of the applause is for us, followed by a mad dash to the dressing room to wash off the makeup that nonetheless can linger for days as proof you're living the artist's life, and every now and then a sudden text or e-mail from an opera-going friend - "Was that you in Siegfried? Good thing you didn't knock over the tenor."

'Couldn't do this alone'

I've knocked over a few tenors and baritones and fellow supers in my time, but mainly in the line of duty. In the world of supering, at least in the more realistic roles beyond Wagner's abstractions, men like me often play soldiers and guards. In Donizetti's Roberto Devereux, a fellow soldier and I got to manhandle the lead character, who because of various emergencies and scheduling conflicts was played by four different tenors - each of whom had to be dragged and thrown in a different style depending on their dramatic preferences and aversions to being touched. "You can be more brutal," said our favourite, covered in an array of makeup bruises, just before he hit the stage with an exaggerated thud.

In Verdi's Simon Boccanegra, where my menacing gaze was deployed in a mob riot that disrupts a formal council-chamber meeting, I got to toss chairs and engage in a prolonged fight across the front of the stage that was as tightly choreographed as our rhythmic moves in Siegfried. In Mozart's Idomeneo, my nasty character ripped off the robes covering prisoners attired only in flesh-covered body suits - which would have been a lot more fun if I didn't keep tripping on my armload of robes as I tried to walk haughtily off stage. In the same opera, we soldiers had to lift a host of dead supers onto stretchers, and there was one attention-getting corpse who had the knack of letting his arm slip back off the stretcher just as we tried to hoist him. Even when you're tempted to drop your colleague accidentally on purpose, you have to remember to act professionally and obey the musical timing of your moves, postponing your super revenge for another time.

These little games and improvisations and slip-ups go on constantly during a show - as a super, you learn to roll with whatever happens, because the worst thing you can do is disrupt the logic and progress of the drama. As a Japanese servant in Madama Butterfly, I was meant to be berated for staring disrespectfully at American visitors - but what I didn't expect was to be knocked on the head as my angry overseer got into his part. In the end, my surprise gave way to pleasure. While we're not in this to be stars and egomaniacs, foreground is always better than background.

Well, almost always. In the same show, I was supposed to work my way downstage through the massed chorus and emerge centre-stage to present a ceremonial drinking-cup to Butterfly and her intended. But when I arrived at the appointed spot, knelt down gracefully and offered my tray with a respectful downturned glance, the soprano playing Butterfly that night had altered the established staging and was now standing 10 feet to my right. "What's he doing over there?" she whispered accusingly. I resisted the urge to hop over to her. The screw-up wasn't strictly my fault, but I still felt a sense of shame, like I'd let down the team.

Humility comes with the turf. Opera at times can be like the military or the church in its sense of regimentation and hierarchy, and even when everything seems friendly and easy-going in the rehearsal process, you still need to know that there's no talking back to your superiors, no casting of blame at your colleagues or overruling of directions because you think you know better. You don't. This is how extraordinarily complex shows get put together in a matter of a few weeks, and your job is to do your part and not waste anybody's time or get in anybody's way. In the rest of the world, this could get to be a pain, but in the theatre it works beautifully.

The flip side of all this imposed discipline and order is the powerful feeling you get, at least in a well-run show, that you're part of a team - and that extends to the costume people who fuss over the length of your white Siegfried pyjama bottoms the first day of fittings, the friendly make-up person who tints your complexion a ghostly white and gets to share your innermost thoughts over the course of the show's run, the chatty dresser who makes sure your dirty shirts get washed in time for the next show, the woman who thoughtfully squeezes your cushioned headrest into place under the stage just before the forge scene begins.

I'm not a team person by nature, but the collective purpose of making an opera is one of the pleasures of supering that keeps me coming back, and overrides the occasional agonies of a dragging four-hour rehearsal. And it plays out in the show, when my colleague Liz helpfully squeezes my big toe, which is sticking in her face in Act III's tightly packed mass of bodies, as a cue to start a crucial move, or my neighbour Doug quickly taps my shin in a silent intuitive sign that we need to tighten up our circle as our bodies rise upward, or the forge supers quietly congratulate the group after we've pulled off the 22 minutes of sustained flaming.

As supers, just by the very fact that there is so much overwhelming talent all around us, we're inclined to see our contributions as marginal, our status as lowly. But in Siegfried, I've finally discovered, after a dozen experiences as a hard-working super, that's not the case at all. "It's the combined discipline of the whole cast that adds up to the real theatrical effect," Girard told me. "What matters to me as a professional is commitment." Which we have in excess, no question.

And then he adds something that pleases me inordinately as an opera-loving super trying to turn my fingers into living flame. "The best music we will ever hear is the human voice and the best set we will ever see is the human body."

And when the stresses on that body seem to be pushing it to the limit, I'll be reminded of the conversation I had with our Siegfried, Stefan Vinke. I told him how happy I was to being playing a small part in the forge scene and he immediately interrupted my attempts at being modest. "It's not a small part. My relationship with the fire is real and has to be evident in this production. I couldn't do this alone - I need you just as much as you need me."

* * * * *

The Canadian Opera Company's production of Siegfried runs Jan. 23 to Feb. 14 at the Four Seasons Centre in Toronto.

Associated Graphic

Amateur actors, or supers as they're known in the opera world, are an integral part of the COC's Siegfried.


The Globe's John Allemang, far left, prepares for his role as a super in the COC's production of Siegfried. Supers contribute a great deal to the opera. In Act II, for instance, they must lie inert on the hard stage for the better part of an hour and awaken just long enough to slither forward and share the extended death throes of the dragon Fafner.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The gallery of overlooked books
A Thunder Bay shop specializing in 'nutbar' titles is a national treasure waiting to be found - or lost forever, writes Mark Medley
Saturday, January 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page F1

Before it became "the grotto shrine to the fetish object formerly known as the book," as it's often described by its unlikely proprietor, Letters Bookshop was a karate dojo, of all things. The store is located on a desolate strip in a sketchy part of Thunder Bay, across the street from a bakery and the train tracks. From the sidewalk it appears to be abandoned, the kind of shuttered business blighting small towns all over the country; the windows have been boarded up, although an attentive passerby might notice the plywood has been painted with scenes from the prehistoric Lascaux cave walls in France - some of humankind's earliest stories. There's little indication that what may be Canada's most unusual collection of books is housed inside, carefully curated, over the course of five decades, by one of the more unusual personalities the Canadian book trade has ever produced.

What's most fascinating about Nicky Drumbolis and his one-ofa-kind collection isn't its value, which he estimates is in the millions, or its size - although it includes roughly 50,000 titles, and fills the building, floor to ceiling - but the focus. He has devoted a great portion of his life and livelihood to work that, as he describes it, "slips through the cracks." Pamphlets and hand-sewn chapbooks that were produced in minuscule print runs; novels and poetry collections published by the most obscure of presses; the work of authors whose names the world has forgotten, if it ever knew them.

Mr. Drumbolis describes himself, as do many others, as an outsider, and he has devoted himself to the literary equivalents. Walking into his bookstore is to be exposed to an alternate history of publishing, one in which the likes of Blew Ointment Press and Ganglia and grOnk are just as celebrated as McClelland & Stewart or Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

"He's a remarkable person," says Anne Dondertman, director of the world-renowned Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto. "You have to admire someone who's that single-minded. He's given up everything to do this."

His is a collection "that only speaks to people who are interested in the obscure, the oblique, the esoteric," Mr. Drumbolis says. "There never was and there never will be" another like it - which is why its fate is of interest to so many, from authors to fellow booksellers to librarians, who understand its importance to our collective cultural history.

They also wonder how it can be saved from being dismantled, or, worse, winding up as landfill - considering that Mr. Drumbolis was forced to retreat north in a last-ditch bid to preserve his life's work, a tactic he now fears has only delayed the inevitable, as there is no white knight in sight.

Besides being a bookseller and de facto literary conservationist, Mr. Drumbolis is a historian, writer, editor, bookbinder, gallerist, typographer, detective and storyteller, who claims he'll "talk forever if you want to listen." But he doesn't get many opportunities these days; since moving here from Toronto, he estimates, no more than 50 people have stepped inside the store he purchased five years ago this month. Letters Bookshop is like a treasure buried just below the surface, either waiting to be found - or lost forever.

A little more than a year ago, I ran into Nick Mount, who teaches English at the University of Toronto and is writing a book about Canadian literature in the 1960s. I asked how research was going. He'd just returned from Thunder Bay, he said. Did I know Nicky Drombolis?

I remembered his small, crowded store in Parkdale, in Toronto's west end, where the aisles were so tight in places you could barely squeeze by, with boxes upon boxes wedged three and four rows deep. But like many second-hand antiquarian bookstores in the city, it had disappeared, and I figured he was out of the business. Prof. Mount smiled when I said this, and his eyes grew wide. Mr. Drumbolis was still very much in business, he said.

Nine months later, I was in the home of the Sleeping Giant.

Although he doesn't own a car, and had repeatedly been told I'd gladly take a cab, Mr. Drumbolis is waiting for me at the airport, waving a copy of Crad Kilodney's Sex Slaves of the AstroMutants over his head like a welcome banner. (Mr. Kilodney, who died in 2014, was best known for selling his self-published books on the streets of Toronto - exactly the sort of author Mr. Drumbolis has championed.)

He is 67 but looks a decade younger, and is wearing a black fleece jacket over a blue T-shirt, baggy black jeans, black sneakers and a black beret with "Euskal Herria" embroidered on one side. (It's what the Basques call their homeland and he's Greek.) His goatee is more salt than pepper, and he wears his hair in a ponytail that falls to his shoulders.

On the bus ride downtown, he tells me about his move to Thunder Bay in 2011. He grudgingly returned to his hometown after being priced out of Toronto, an increasingly common fate for booksellers. He searched the province for suitable alternate digs, from Wingham, a few hours outside Toronto, to tiny Red Lake, several hours north of here. "I didn't care where I lived," he says. "As long as it had a beer store and a post office, I was cool."

A friend loaned him $70,000 to cover the cost of the building ($45,000) and the move. It's the first place he has been able to call his own: "I've never owned anything in my life except books."

A lot of books. It took him a year to box them up for the move. Charlie Huisken, former co-owner of This Ain't The Rosedale Library, the iconic independent bookstore, recalls coming out one weekend with other members of Toronto's literary community to help pack up the store and the contents of a dozen-odd storage units Mr. Drumbolis had filled over the years: "There was so much stuff that the trailer was starting to rest on the tires rather than on the suspension."

Once everything had been shifted 1,400 kilometres to Northwestern Ontario - courtesy of two big trucks, one an 18-wheeler - Mr. Drumbolis needed a year to unpack, and then, once he'd built the shelves, another year to organize the collection. The Parkdale store, at 77 Florence St. (also near the train tracks), had soaring 14-foot ceilings but only about 500 square feet of space; he now has more than 3,000 square feet devoted to books, although even this "is hardly big enough." There are still boxes on top of almost every bookshelf, and the old dojo change rooms are now devoted to overflow. The building has no basement and rests on stilts; Mr. Drumbolis wasn't sure it would support everything, so he consulted an engineer and researched how best to distribute the weight. He now figures it will hold. The roof needs replacing, though.

It wasn't always a dojo; the building dates from the early 20th century, and in past lives has been a general store and a post office. An imposing black safe from the period sits in the front room, near the entrance, as does a glass counter that used to tempt the neighbourhood children with candy but now tempts me with a copy, among the many books on display, of Gregory Corso's first major collection, Gasoline, which happens to be inscribed to the Beat poet's friend, Allen Ginsberg, who wrote the introduction and signed it as well.

"Johnny Depp collects Beat stuff, right?" asks Mr. Drumbolis. "If he wants it for seventy-five hundred beans, I'll fly over and put it in his back pocket for him."

The shop is, in fact, four connected buildings. The book collection, divided into various categories, takes up the front half, along with a small workroom for repairs, a bathroom and storage space. The back half has been turned into an apartment, with a modest kitchen, bathroom, a personal research library and office, and two bedrooms, one of which is devoted to the books he has written and published under his own imprint, and where he sleeps on an air mattress.

He describes Letters both as a "shrine" and a "museum," and it's hard to argue with him; it's unlike any bookstore I've ever visited.

'A contributive bookseller'

Nicky Drumbolis says his life has been "a novel, not a story." If that's the case, the prologue begins just across the street. Outside the store, he points east, to an overgrown lot beyond the rail tracks where a two-storey house once stood - and his father was born. His life, in a way, has come full circle.

The path to becoming "probably the most remarkable bookseller Canada has produced," as Toronto rare-book dealer David Mason called Mr. Drumbolis in his 2013 memoir, The Pope's Bookbinder, actually started across town. He was born in Port Arthur (amalgamated with Fort William in 1970 to form Thunder Bay), the oldest of six children. Despite being selected for a citywide advanced-learning program, he didn't finish high school, and even though he later managed to enroll at both Lakehead and York, he didn't finish university, either.

"My education was largely one at rummage sales," he says. "I'd find a book and go, 'This looks neat,' and I'd take it home and read it. And I particularly loved nutbar books."

His life has been immersed in "nutbar" books - books that struggle to find a readership, that don't appear on bestseller lists, that are overlooked for awards, that most people have never heard of. He has spent his bookselling career trying to introduce these works to a larger audience, trying to salvage them from the remainder bin that is time, and, if no one is interested at the moment, ensuring at least one copy survives, just in case a future reader stumbles across it, as he did, and finds some kind of joy. "It's bringing these people back to life," he says.

By the mid-1970s, Mr. Drumbolis was living in Toronto, where he managed a successive string of second-hand bookshops around the city, including Olympia Books, on a seedy strip of Yonge Street, where he was first introduced to the rare and antiquarian trade; and the adult-oriented Reid's Bookstore, also on Yonge Street, where, after being hired, he "started writing [small-press publishers] around North America," imploring them to send their newest titles.

Some publishers were perplexed. "I thought it was a strange place to sell this stuff," recalls Marty Gervais, who had founded the influential Black Moss Press in 1969, and would drive up from Windsor, Ont., with a carload of chapbooks and literary magazines to drop off. "Right beside a vast array of grotesquely large dildos was the poetry I was publishing by the likes of bpNichol and Al Purdy. It made me wonder what his clientele was taking home with them. Living out their sexual fantasies alongside lyrical recitations, maybe?" (According to Mr. Drumbolis, "all that stuff sold. Why? Because these people would come in to buy porno and then they'd always take something to cover it up!")

The first of his own stores, Acme Book, opened in 1978 in the west-end Toronto apartment he shared with his wife, Susan Fritz, the same year he co-founded a magazine-distribution company. He'd drive down to New York to pick up porn, but also avant-garde literature and underground magazines - he says he was the first to bring Art Spiegelman's Raw to Canada. Those trips served a dual purpose: "On the way back, I'd stop in every fucking small town and scout rare books."

In 1982, the first incarnation of Letters opened on the strip of Queen Street West once known as "booksellers' row," where up to 20 bookstores operated at any given time. It was the golden age of bookselling in Toronto, although Mr. Drumbolis set himself apart from his colleagues, as he still does.

"There's two types of booksellers," he says. "There's the distributive bookseller - the guy who just sells whatever he can fucking get - and then there's the contributive bookseller, which is me, who emplaces the kind of book that I think needs to be read.

"As a contributive bookseller, the important thing I felt that a bookstore ought to represent was a depot for the work, a hostel to house people if they needed it - a place to crash or a place to come and hang out - and then a forum, a place where they could exchange ideas."

Letters was all these things. It was somewhere that writers could hold readings, "basically to give these people a forum where they were at the centre," he says. It was a gallery, with display cases housing the best in what Mr. Drumbolis terms "the book arts." It was a publishing house, with him releasing his own work (often using the pseudonym Arthur Cravan, a nod to the Swiss Surrealist poet) and that of other writers he admired under the Letters imprint. It served as a crash pad, not only for writers but for Mr. Drumbolis himself, who slept in a sleeping bag in a back room after his marriage dissolved.

And, perhaps most important, it was a bookstore that was decidedly democratic in how the shelves were stocked - he'd sell almost any book that he deemed worthy. "It wasn't a cabinet of curiosities, but a collection of literary wonders," says Mr. Huisken. "It wasn't just an accumulation, it was a creation."

There's a photo of the old store at 452E Queen St. W., a modest three-storey brick building, with the front window full of what looks to be chapbooks and the front door almost entirely papered over with posters. Mr. Drumbolis stands out front, wearing oversized glasses and a multicoloured checkered sweater, his hands jammed in his front pockets, a thin smile on his lips. It dates from 1988, and was taken by Stan Bevington, a friend and the founder of Coach House Books, perhaps the most important publisher to emerge from the Canadian small-press boom of the sixties and seventies.

The following year, rising rents prompted Mr. Drumbolis to move to Florence Street and take a job with Coach House, where he worked as a bookbinder, off and on, for the next two decades. "Everyone," he says, "saw me as a binder at Coach House, a menial, and didn't know I still had the store."

Mr. Gervais recalls visiting the stop late one night, and being shown early Black Moss titles, some of which he'd likely dropped off amid the sex toys and porno mags years before.

"It was so neat, just being in this place, really quiet at night, and there he is, living in and among his own collection. Many of us have a love for our work, but we go home, as well. But his home was where his books were."

'I hate my existence up here'

And yet his new home isn't such a happy one. Almost no one in Thunder Bay - almost no one in Canada - knows what he is doing.

"I hate my existence up here," he says. "It's done a number on my soul and, believe me, I don't believe in souls." He's lonely, bemoans the lack of good coffee shops and the fact he's so far away from his friends, that he can't go out any given night to a poetry reading. He's angry, frankly, that he had to leave in the first place.

"Toronto lost a huge resource," he says. "I resented the fact that there wasn't enough space on the postage stamp for just one more little guy. So I've got to play out the string up here."

Living on a modest pension (he has repaid all of the $70,000 loan), he spends his days working on his own books, which range wildly in subject matter from lunar iconography to Shakespeare, and which he uploads online, and researching the titles in his collection. "Every book has a story," he says, and he's driven, in part, by finding out what the story is and then sharing it with the world.

Mr. Bevington describes the store as "a retirement home for books," which is probably the most accurate description I've heard. The 50,000 or so volumes it houses don't include the impressive array of art and publishing ephemera Mr. Drumbolis has accumulated. And for the first time, all his books are out on display, which makes the fact that hardly anyone has seen them that much more depressing.

"All of this is my memory," Mr. Drombolis says. "Every single thing in here has some memorable factor about it, and every piece in here was scavenged from some experience. And that experience is still pregnant in these things. This is all the inside of my head, in a way."

Walking through the store is an overwhelming experience. Everywhere I look I spot something I've never seen before and will probably never see again. I could have picked a single shelf of a single bookcase and spent my entire visit studying its contents. Not that Mr. Drumbolis would have let me do that. As we amble up and down the aisles, he is constantly narrating, constantly picking out items at random and telling their story - how he acquired it, or who published it, or whatever happened to its author - which often leads into another, entirely different story, and another book, and so on, until I can't remember which book started the conversation in the first place.

He throws around words like "shit kicker" or "heavyweight" to describe books he particularly loves, his voice growing progressively louder and more animated, the longer he talks. He pulls out a first edition of Leonard Cohen's 1956 debut Let Us Compare Mythologies, part of what is probably the most extensive sampling in existence of Montreal's legendary Contact Press, which helped to launch Margaret Atwood, Irving Layton, Raymond Souster and others. Now here's his Franz Kafka collection, and over here Ezra Pound, and Charles Bukowski, and a few remaining titles from his collection of William S. Burroughs, most of which he sold years ago to David Cronenberg around the time the director was adapting the Burroughs novel, Naked Lunch.

"Henry James," he says, tapping a shelf filled with first editions of the American master. "The guy I wanted to read cover to cover before I died. I don't think I'll get to it now."

His words are tinged with melancholy, not just about James, I think, but about the whole store. After spending a lifetime collecting and preserving these books, there's not enough time in the world to actually enjoy them, let alone sell them. "I'm going to die with more shit than I'm going to fucking sell," he tells me. When I spot a first edition of Joe Gould's Secret, Joseph Mitchell's 1965 book about a man who spent his life working on an oral history of the modern world, I can't help but draw a line between the Greenwich Village writer and this Thunder Bay bookseller.

At one point he stops, mid-sentence, and looks around, in what seems like awe. "I have so much shit," he says, as if to himself.

Part of the reason is that he just doesn't sell many books, at least not any more.

"He's sold everything he's ever sold reluctantly," says Mr. Mason. "Try and buy a book from him. It's not going to work."

Prof. Mount gave it a shot, and was rebuffed - but in the end was given one for free. I was sent home with a suitcase filled with books, too, despite the fact I hadn't asked for any.

For instance, his Queen Street store featured a lending library. He can rattle off titles borrowed years ago and never returned, or titles that came back not in the same condition as when they left. He shows off a first-edition copy of In the Heart of the Heart of the Country, a short-story collection by William Gass; it's stained with what looks like tea, returned that way, he says, by literary icon Alice Munro, once a regular customer. "This was a rare book," he says.

He describes himself as a "cultural mediator" who is "simply a custodian of a shared resource."

"I don't see all of this as 'mine' or 'yours.' I see this as 'ours.' This is history," he says. "I have temporary custody of the book. That's all. It's going to be here after I'm dead."

Or will it?

'When I drop dead ... it's going to go to the Sally Ann'

I was in Thunder Bay for two days, sleeping overnight at the store and speaking to more than a dozen of Mr. Drumbolis's friends and acquaintances. In every conversation, the question as to what will happen to these books was just below the surface. Mr. Drumbolis, for his part, refers to the store as his "tomb." The priority is to ensure the books aren't buried with him.

"It scares the hell out of me thinking about it, because the word 'landfill' keeps coming up," says Steven Temple, a rare-book dealer based in Welland, Ont.

"It should be preserved somewhere, somehow," says John W. Curry, an Ottawa avant-garde poet (as jwcurry) and friend whose small-press collection is one of the few to rival that of Mr. Drumbolis. "There is not another repository like that. It should probably just be turned into a museum."

Says Mr. Huisken, "What we have to do is create an institution to take care of that collection. It's not going to happen on its own."

Mr. Drumbolis has a daughter, a social worker in Sudbury, but doesn't want to burden her. Part of the problem, he says, is that "it's now up in Thunder Bay where, when I drop dead of an aneurysm, it's going to go to the Sally Ann.

"I held onto this stuff, to the detriment of my health, against all odds, in the hopes of seeing it go somewhere," he says. "Nobody wants it, at any cost."

It's more complicated than that. Ms. Dondertman, of the Fisher library, says part of the problem is the size of the collection. "There aren't a lot of libraries who can cope with those numbers, no matter what the books are," she says. "It's a huge, huge challenge."

Mr. Mason maintains that it "won't end up in the dump. There are now enough people in the book trade who know how important what he has is, that that will not be allowed to happen."

That said, what the shop contains "is less than what he has in his head, which is the part that's going to disappear, sadly," says Mr. Bevington. "I don't think that there's any way that you can collect the amount of information that he has in his head."

Poet Cameron Anstee agrees. "It's not just that he has books no one has, but he knows things about those books that no one else knows. The amount of knowledge that he possesses as a result of his life's work - it's not really reproducible.

"Whoever picks up that tradition from him, it's going to be a huge task," adds Mr. Anstee, a doctoral candidate at the University of Ottawa writing about postwar bookselling in Canada. "A hugely important task."

'What would you say about this place?'

On my second morning in Thunder Bay, while drinking lukewarm coffee at his kitchen table, Mr. Drumbolis asks me a question I've been trying to answer ever since: "If I died, what would you say about this place?"

The best answer, I think, is found in 77 Florence, a poem in Phil Hall's 2011 Governor-General's Award-winning collection, Killdeer, inspired by the store "where pilgrims arrive in bewilderment."

This is what Mr. Hall sees when he looks at what Mr. Drumbolis has accomplished:

This recent April flames engulfed Baghdad's National Library/ destroying manuscripts untold centuries old

Almost nothing remains of that great library's tens of thousands of/ manuscripts - books - & Iraqi newspapers

In light of such atrocities - Drumbolis's preservation instinct/ means - to catch the glowing ashes - & save them - so the world-/as-book can be - if not rebuilt - at least remembered - intensely

* * * * * * * * * *

Mark Medley is books editor of The Globe and Mail.

Associated Graphic

'My education was largely one at rummage sales,' says Mr. Drumbolis. 'I'd find a book and go, "This looks neat," and I'd take it home and read it.'


Among the offbeat objects and rare volumes at Letters Bookshop is Leonard Cohen's 1956 debut, Let Us Compare Mythologies, part of what is probably the most extensive sampling in existence of Montreal's legendary Contact Press, which helped to launch Irving Layton and others.

For the first time ever, all of Mr. Drumbolis's books are out on display. 'Every piece in here,' he says, 'was scavenged from some experience. And that experience is still pregnant in these things.'

Once Mr. Drumbolis's collection, including this book of poems by Victor Coleman, had been shifted 1,400 kilometres north from Toronto to Thunder Bay - courtesy of two big trucks, one an 18-wheeler - he needed a year to unpack, and then, once he'd built the shelves, another year to organize the collection.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Carbon challenge: the economic cost
Saturday, January 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page B10

OTTAWA -- Provincial premiers boast leadership in the country's effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but achieving their own lofty ambitions will require political courage and aggressive policies to drive fundamental changes in the way Canadians produce and consume energy.

Just to meet existing federal and provincial targets, governments will have to impose carbon pricing - either a direct carbon tax, a cap on GHG emissions or costly regulations - several times higher than those currently included in various provincial plans, experts say. The result will be higher energy costs for Canadian industry and consumers alike.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to convene a first ministers' conference, tentatively scheduled for March 7, as part of an effort to forge a pan-Canadian strategy to accelerate action on climate change. Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is already conferring with her provincial and territorial counterparts and will meet with them collectively next week in Ottawa.

But don't expect a national plan - or bold new targets - to emerge from the first ministers' conference. British Columbia is still deciding on a response to its climate leadership panel, while Ontario and Alberta are working out details of new policies and Saskatchewan is waiting for more clarity from Ottawa on its intentions before committing to any carbon-pricing plan of its own.

"The first ministers' meeting will serve as the forum for discussion and consensus on the way forward and the actions all parties will need to take to achieve sustainable growth," said Caitlin Workman, spokeswoman for Environment Minister Ms. McKenna.

Last month in Paris, Mr. Trudeau and several premiers took the stage at the United Nations climate summit and vowed that Canada would not shirk its role in an all-out global effort to avert the worst impacts of global warming.

The Paris summit ended with a historic agreement on a common way forward, one that aims to limit the rise in global temperatures to two degrees C, or even 1.5 degrees. Global leaders heralded it as the dawn of a new era of international co-operation; environmentalists hailed it as the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel age.

But as with the countries that endorsed the UN accord, Canadian governments - federal and provincial - face tremendous challenges in turning the heady promise of Paris into a workable reality. Virtually every premier has unveiled a slate of new policies aimed at cutting emissions, or is promising to do so in the coming year.

Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia have aggressive targets over the near and long term that will require tougher policies to achieve. Alberta and Saskatchewan - with the most carbon-intensive economies - are looking to reverse the growth in emissions over the past decade that was fuelled by their booming oil industries and fast-growing populations.

Together with the federal government, provinces are looking for the right recipe that will drive societal change and encourage the development and adoption of clean-tech solutions, without imposing debilitating burdens on companies and consumers.

"It's going to be a profound change for a country like Canada," Sophie Brochu, chief executive officer at Montreal-based Gaz Métro, said in an interview.

Ms. Brochu served as co-chair of a national roundtable on the green economy that met last year in Quebec, and attended the Paris summit as an observer. She is pitching natural gas as a key transition fuel, while promising the steady addition into the fuel mix of bio-methane made from garbage.

She urged governments to be ambitious and pragmatic, as well as transparent so everyone knows the costs and benefits of climate policy.

The former Conservative government committed Canada to reducing emissions by 30 per cent from 2007 levels by 2030, a goal the Liberals described as a "floor" and environmentalists decry as weak. Even with the adoption of carbon pricing, Alberta and Saskatchewan - which depend heavily on oil and coal and together account for nearly half of Canada's emissions - are not expected to reduce emissions below 2007 levels over the next 15 years. That means the rest of the provinces will have to pick up the slack.

Environmental economist David Sawyer calculates that just achieving Ottawa's existing 2030 target would require a tax of $180 on a tonne of carbon dioxide in 15 years. The country's highest carbon tax - implemented by B.C. - now sits at $30 a tonne. An advisory panel in British Columbia last fall urged Premier Christy Clark to increase that $30 levy in $10 annual increments until it reaches $150 a tonne by 2030, and to cut other taxes to soften the blow.

The magnitude of those recommended increases in carbon taxes has stoked fears in the business community, particularly if key trading partners such as the United States lag behind.

Provinces are adopting or expanding explicit carbon pricing - either through cap-and-trade plans or carbon taxes - in order to drive down GHG emissions and shift the economy away from its dependence on fossil fuels. Those efforts would put Canada in the mid to high end of the range among industrialized countries in terms of carbon pricing.

Once Ontario and Alberta implement their respective plans, the country's four largest provinces - representing fully 80 per cent of Canada's GHG emissions - will levy some form of broad-based carbon price. That includes an emissions cap in Quebec and Ontario, a carbon tax in British Columbia and a hybrid system of tax and cap in Alberta. Saskatchewan, which accounted for 11 per cent of Canadian's GHG in 2012, says it will unveil plans for a levy after seeing what the federal government proposes for a national carbon price.

Those direct levies are complemented by indirect carbon costs contained in a raft of regulations as well as subsidies for clean-tech companies. Various provinces are boosting the deployment of electric vehicles and natural-gas-powered trucks and ships, pursuing tougher energy efficiency standards for vehicles, buildings and appliances, and adopting regulations requiring oil and gas producers to reduce methane emissions.

As they ratchet up carbon costs, provinces are looking to soften the blow for those companies - often, but not exclusively, foreign multinationals - that can move investment and jobs either across the border or across the world in search of the lowest costs and best returns. Economists call the phenomenon "leakage" - global emissions aren't reduced when companies merely shift activity from a higher-carbon-price jurisdiction to a competing one that features lower carbon costs.

With hundreds of employees in Ontario and Alberta, Nova Chemicals Corp. - which is owned by Abu Dhabi's International Petroleum Investment Co. - operates in what economists call an "energy-intensive, trade-exposed industry." As with other EITE firms in petrochemicals and steel and cement making, energy is a significant portion of Nova's production costs and competition for markets and capital is intense.

Nova Chemicals' petrochemical complex in Sarnia's Chemical Valley is one of Ontario's largest emitters of greenhouse gases at more than one million tonnes a year, and faces a new provincial cap-and-trade plan that will add to its operating costs. Nova has invested at that Corunna plant to process natural gas rather than crude, and is considering further expansion but is assessing the impact of the province's carbon pricing before proceeding.

The company is also in the late stages of a $1-billion (U.S.) expansion of its Joffre polyethylene plant near Red Deer, Alta., which is being completed just as NDP Premier Rachel Notley rolls out her government's economy-wide carbon-pricing plan that she says will establish the much-maligned province as a climate leader.

"In any of our capital investments, there are many factors that we consider as we develop the projects," Nova spokesman Pace Markowitz said in an e-mail. They include "electricity costs, changing environmental regulations including direct and indirect impact of carbon prices, logistics infrastructure and potential financial incentives," he added.

But all Canadians - companies, institutions and households - face higher energy levies that will flow through the economy as governments tackle climate change. Provinces are looking to ease the pain by subsidizing efficiency efforts and clean-tech alternatives, and by providing direct assistance to lower-income households.

Some experts worry that the premiers are creating a balkanized climate regime, particularly in the electricity system where provincial governments have long isolated their markets to favour government-owned or local utilities. Ontario and Quebec and Manitoba are co-operating under the cap-and-trade plan, and all premiers agreed last summer on a Canadian energy strategy that pledges co-operation. But provinces are still prone to protectionism and acting in isolation, Jock Finlayson, executive vice-president at the British Columbia Business Council, said in an interview. Premiers agreed on a Canadian energy strategy but he said there are still far too many barriers.

"I call it climate mercantilism at the subnational level," Mr. Finlayson said. "We need to link these markets. Everybody who can count to 10 recognizes that you can lower abatement costs by co-operative effort involving multiple jurisdictions rather than having little markets [on their own] trying to find the most cost-effective ways to get emissions down."

However, Gaz Métro's Ms. Brochu said provinces still require the flexibility to address their particular situations, given the dramatic differences in industrial mix, emissions profiles and historical action on climate. "Each province has a mountain to climb, but each mountain is a different shape."

* * * * *


Emissions in 2013: 267 MT, up 57 per cent since 1990.

Targets: The NDP government has not updated the existing target of 50 MT below the "business-as-usual" projection by 2030. The forecast - given a low-oil-price scenario and new government policies - is for emissions to peak around 2020, and then fall to 2015 levels by 2030.

Between 1990 and 2013, Alberta saw its GHG emissions soar - fuelled by a fast-growing economy that featured booming oil exports, the fastest population growth in the country and a reliance on coal-fired power to feed all that rising demand. Now the NDP government is determined to rein them in with a suite of policies including a cap on oil sands emissions and an economy-wide carbon tax set initially at $20 a tonne of carbon dioxide and rising to $30 in 2018. It will also impose regulations to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 45 per cent over the next 10 years.

The principal architect of that plan, University of Alberta economist Andrew Leach, forecasts that provincial GHG emissions will peak around 2020 and then gradually decline to 2015 levels. That forecast is based on the National Energy Board's low-oil-price scenario in which growth in oil sands production largely stalls at about three million barrels a day in 2020, up from 2.5-million b/d last year.

Given that lower-growth scenario, the cap on oil sands emissions won't affect companies before 2030, Prof. Leach said. But it will have an impact if markets rebound more sharply than anticipated and investment picks up, unless companies can deploy new technology to drive down per-barrel emissions.

With the carbon tax, large industries will receive a subsidy to offset much of the tax costs, with the amount of that payment determined by their environmental performance. That's meant to keep those industries competitive with those in other jurisdictions. "The idea is to effect the emissions decision, not the location decision," Prof. Leach said, referring to the potential for Alberta to lose investment in emissions-intensive production to jurisdictions that don't have carbon pricing.

Meanwhile, the Alberta government is entering into negotiations with the province's utilities to determine how they will be compensated for the planned phase-out of coal-fired power by 2030.

TransAlta Corp. announced recently that it is slashing its dividend and refinancing its debt to prepare for a transition from coal to natural-gas-fired electricity and renewable power.

* * * * *


Emissions in 2013: 171 MT, down 6 per cent since 1990.

Targets: 15 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, 37 per cent below 1990 by 2030.

Ontario saw its emissions flat-line between 2011 and 2013 after a steep drop due to the impact of the recession and its decision to phase out coal-fired power. In its report last summer, the province's Commissioner for the Environment warned that the province would not meet its 2020 target if it did not embrace "a more ambitious suite of action."

Since then, the province has unveiled its plan to link with Quebec and California in a cap-and-trade market, with the first auction for tradable permits due early next year. It is also pursuing a broader array of policies - investment in public transit, in charging stations to encourage adoption of electric vehicles and is expected to announce new plans, in conjunction with Ottawa, to provide energy retrofits for buildings.

As in Quebec's system, the government will provide free allowances for some large industries that are energy intensive and exposed to competition. But the protection will be based on a ranking system and it is not clear yet who will win and who will lose.

But there are relatively few industries that are overexposed, said economist Christopher Ragan, chair of the Ecofiscal Commission, a group of academics and former political leaders who have endorsed explicit carbon pricing. In a study released last fall, the commission concluded that Ontario's manufacturing sector is "mostly unexposed" to competitiveness pressures from carbon pricing.

The exceptions: petrochemicals, cement manufacturers, refining and, to a lesser extent, steel. Mr. Ragan endorses the provision of free allowances to EITE companies, so long as it is done on a temporary basis, and is targeted and transparent.

"Businesses will always stand up and say they have competitiveness challenges and they need help," he said in an interview. "You don't just want to give them based on a handshake in a dark room. You want to give them away based on some sort of objective use of data and in a transitional way."

The Ontario chemical industry based in Sarnia and Toronto is making efforts to position itself as part of the solution on climate change. But the industry, which is dominated by large multinationals, still worries that high carbon costs in Ontario will erode competitiveness, not only in its production process but in its supply chain and transportation network.

"It is the provinces that will feel the impacts if the manufacturing they have disappears because they make the wrong choices," said Bob Masterson, president of the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada.

* * * * *


Emissions in 2012: 78 MT, down 8 per cent since 1990.

Targets: 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, 37.5 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030.

Quebec touts itself as Canada's leader on climate change, certainly in terms of emission reductions. Between 1990 and 2012, the province led the country in emission reductions and Premier Philippe Couillard's government expresses confidence it will reach its 2020 goal as a result of its cap-and-trade system that now covers 85 per cent of all emissions in the province.

Quebec has also provided emissions free of charge to energy-intensive industries but - as planned in Ontario - will reduce that free allocation by 1 to 2 per cent a year. Those companies not provided free allowance must purchase emissions units in annual auctions that are held in conjunction with California.

Quebec set a floor price of $10.75 per tonne in 2013, and increases it annually at a rate of 5 per cent plus inflation. At a 2 per cent inflation rate, the floor price would be roughly $17.30 a tonne in 2020.

The Quebec system is connected to California through a carbon market, which facilitates the buying and selling

But achieving its 2030 target will be more challenging because most of the relatively inexpensive reductions have been made, said Steven Guilbeault, senior director of Montreal-based environmental group Équiterre. "We're pushing the government to complement cap and trade with measures that would accelerate and maximize reductions here," Mr. Guilbeault said.

Mr. Couillard caused a stir in Paris when he opposed oil and gas drilling on Anticosti Island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and suggested the days of using natural gas as a transition fuel are limited. He envisages his province being free of fossil fuel use by 2050 - that's an easier reach for Quebec than other provinces given its vast hydroelectric resources.

To get there, the government has invested heavily in charging stations for electric vehicles and provides incentives for consumers to purchase them. The plan is to have 100,000 EVs on the road by 2020, still a relative drop in the bucket given the four million cars and trucks in Quebec.

Gaz Métro's Ms. Brochu was unperturbed by Mr. Couillard's Paris positioning. Her company is promoting the use of natural gas instead of diesel for heavy trucks and ships, and liquefied natural gas instead of oil for remote industrial facilities such as mines.

She noted that the Quebec government recently kicked in $50-million for a $120-million expansion of the company's liquefaction plant in Montreal.

* * * * *


Emissions in 2012: 75 MT, up 72 per cent since 1990.

Target: Twenty per cent below 2006 levels by 2020 with a promise to revise that as part of a national strategy.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is something of an outlier among his provincial colleagues. He has resisted the trend for a provincial carbon levy and warned of the dangers to resource industry jobs if Ottawa imposes too onerous a carbon price.

His government has supported the construction of one of the world's first carbon-capture-and-storage facilities at its Boundary Dam coal-fired power plant.

The plant, which started up last year, is not performing as well as SaskPower had predicted but both the government and the utility say it is early days and have not ruled out CCS projects at other generating stations.

Saskatchewan faces tough challenges in its power sector, which relies on coal for roughly 45 per cent of its electricity output. Under federal regulations adopted by the previous Conservative government, it must phase out its reliance on coal-fired power, unless it is equipped with CCS.

Mr. Wall recently announced a commitment to increase the use of renewable energy, pledging that the province would get 50 per cent of its power from renewable sources by 2030. The Canadian Wind Energy Association applauded that announcement, saying wind generation capacity could grow from current 200 megawatts to 2,000 MW by 2030.

In a statement, the Saskatchewan Environment Department said the province is ready to impose a broad climate policy but is waiting for more clarity from Ottawa on the province's roles and responsibilities under a proposed national strategy. An agreed national price on carbon would allow the province to impose its own levy and direct revenues to a provincial fund to underwrite green technology, the department said.

The Saskatchewan Environmental Society has urged the government to catch up with its neighbouring provinces, and recommended the adoption of a revenue-neutral carbon tax that would increase the cost of fossil-fuel consumption but cut taxes elsewhere. It also called for incentives for consumers to purchase fuel-efficient vehicles and to install solar panels on roofs, farms and commercial buildings, though the commodity price slump has left provincial coffers somewhat strained.

Mr. Wall faces a election on April 4, and will be approaching the federal-provincial climate debate with a clear eye on voters at home.

* * * * *


Emissions in 2012: 60 MT, 21 per cent higher than in 1990.

Targets: 33 per cent below 2007 levels by 2020, 80 per cent below 2007 levels by 2050.

Quebec has competition in its claim for climate leadership: British Columbia was the first jurisdiction in North America to introduce an economy-wide carbon tax, which now sits at $30 a tonne of carbon-dioxide equivalent. B.C.'s emissions rose by 22 per cent between 1990 and 2012, compared with Quebec's 8-per-cent drop, although the western province also boasts stronger economic and population growth.

Environmentalists have been disappointed that Premier Christy Clark froze the carbon tax at $30, rather than allowing the scheduled increases. Ms. Clark says her government wants to see other jurisdictions catch up before B.C. goes further, although she is considering a proposal to increase it beginning in 2018.

A provincially appointed climate panel recommended last fall that B.C. should raise its carbon tax by $10 increments to $150 a tonne by 2030, while dropping the provincial sales tax and providing some "competitiveness adjustments" for the trade-exposed industrial sector. It also urged complementary regulations that would cut emissions in transportation and buildings.

"B.C. has an aggressive target and our modelling shows we need the entire package to be able to meet or even come close to our target," said Nancy Olewiler, a panel member and economist from Simon Fraser University. She said the overall impact on the B.C. economy would be fairly modest, especially compared with the recent volatility in commodity markets.

Prof. Olewiler said B.C. faces a particular challenge as it is presented with several plans to build liquefied-natural-gas plants to export gas to Asia. The panel urged the government to support industry proposals to use electricity to liquefy the gas, which would shield it from increasing carbon costs.

But the LNG industry's representative on the panel said he does not support a higher price on carbon at this time, given pressure from competitors around the world. "We're not opposed to a potential increase in the price of carbon, as long as we're certain that other jurisdictions are catching up to where British Columbia already is," said David Keane, president of the BC LNG Alliance.

The transition to a low-carbon economy holds the promise of enormous economic benefits from the burgeoning clean-tech and renewable energy industries. But it also threatens massive disruption to sectors that have been the bedrock of the Canadian economy.

* * * * *


Carbon price: Any measure that imposes a cost on greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions, whether a tax, an emissions cap or regulatory burden. An explicit carbon price is generated through a tax or a cap-and-trade system.

Emission cap: A government-imposed limit on emissions, typically placed on large stationary sources such as power plants and industrial facilities, but also at the wholesale level for gasoline, diesel and natural gas. Caps are lowered over time to reduce GHG emissions.

Emissions trading: A system in which companies can sell and buy the right to emit specified tonnes of greenhouse gases, creating a market that encourages the most efficient emissions reductions in an economy.

Energy-intensive, trade-exposed industry: Industries for which energy is a major component of production costs and that face considerable competition either as exporters or in their home markets. In pursuing climate policies, governments often seek to protect the competitiveness of such EITE companies.

Carbon leakage: An effect of GHG policy in which industrial activity moves to another jurisdiction due to higher regulatory costs or taxes usually on EITE companies, resulting in a loss of economic activity in the home jurisdiction with little or no impact on global GHG emissions.

Allowances: Under a cap-and-trade system, governments allocate "allowances" or "permits" to companies to emit up to their cap. Those allowances can either be sold or provided free of charge to the companies. A regulated company that can reduce emissions to a level below their cap can then bank the surplus permits for future use or sell them to other firms that then use the credits to comply with their own regulated emissions limit.

Offsets: Companies outside the system - non-covered entities - can generate "offset credits" by cutting emissions and having the reductions certified by a government body. The credits can be sold to a regulated firm to comply with its emissions cap. The seller must demonstrate that the revenue generated by the sale is needed to justify the investment in the emissions reduction.

Deep decarbonization: The aim of dramatically reducing - or even eliminating - fossil fuel use in the economy over the long term. Countries at the Paris climate summit last month agreed to essentially eliminate GHG emissions that result from the consumption coal, oil and natural gas by the second half of the century - 35 years from now.

Associated Graphic








Tuesday, January 26, 2016

FROZEN | The Sequel
Christine Day persuaded us we needed $100 yoga pants from "Lulu." How about $7 to make whole food a choice in the freezer aisle?
Friday, January 29, 2016 – Print Edition, Page P41

Vancouver's Yaletown Urban Fare is the sort of up-to-the-minute supermarket where, directly inside the doors, you're greeted by a produce section--a big one, with an emphasis on freshness and organics.

On the right, a deli section dominates, with dozens, if not hundreds, of salads and entrées made fresh daily. Considering that this is the store that once flew in Parisian Poilâne bread, the bakery is not the presence it once was--all those gluten avoiders. Nor is the meat department--all those vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians and flexitarians. Conversely, the organic and natural-food section has expanded, as have sections devoted to Asian food and products made in British Columbia--the 100-Mile Diet originated here, after all. There's a relatively modest area filled with packages branded by the Krafts, Campbells and Kelloggs of the world, situated, curiously, beside the busy in-store sushi bar. And on the very back wall, a full 90 paces from the front door, is what might be the quietest place in all of Yaletown--the freezer section.

And here, on a lower shelf, behind the big glass doors, reside eight spots reserved for the entrées produced by a Vancouver-based start-up called Luvo that dares to think frozen food can be healthy and delicious. Only six of the spots are stocked today, which could be regarded as good or bad, much like the prospects of the company itself.

Luvo is a company with a rock-star CEO and a corporate creation myth for the ages, but it is also a very deliberate construct, and Yaletown and its Urban Fare are exactly the kinds of places that it was concocted for. The company says it's doubling its revenues annually (as a private company, however, it won't say what those revenues are). Meanwhile, its entrées--offerings such as red wine braised beef with polenta, and orange mango chicken with whole grains, kale and broccoli--are increasingly available in Canadian supermarkets. Still, there's no disputing that, at $7 an entrée, which is roughly double the price of conventional frozen dinners and slightly higher than other gourmet-oriented brands, Luvo is appealing primarily to the affluent and food-literate. The challenge faced by CEO Christine Day--well, one of the challenges--is that grocery shoppers like these make up precisely the demographic that is turning most rapidly away from frozen foods, a category where American unit sales have been dropping by up to 3% annually in recent years. Meanwhile, the company has taken the seemingly counterintuitive approach of targeting its products, not at one of Urban Fare's ever-fragmenting food tribes, but at a broader public that is beginning to read ingredients lists but is otherwise open to anything that's tasty and nutritious.

Luvo's corporate offices are located across False Creek, a few blocks from the headquarters of Lululemon Athletica, where, as CEO from 2008 to 2013, Day led a transformation from sexy upstart to global juggernaut. Before that, she spent 20 years with Starbucks, where she was a charter employee and ultimately rose to senior vice-president for the Asia-Pacific region.

Day's hiring in early 2014, by Luvo founder Stephen Sidwell, marked the company as one to watch, and attracted the attention of media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Fast Company, which later in the year named it to its list of the world's 50 most innovative companies. Behind the scenes, however, Day and Luvo had already run onto the shoals of a food industry that is infamously tough on launches and that Day calls "broken and dysfunctional at every level."

Day, who is 53, is sitting at what we're going to call a boardroom table. Something of a virtual company, with offices and senior personnel scattered around the continent, Luvo maintains about half of its 60 or so non-manufacturing employees in Vancouver, in space subleased from the Vancouver School Board. Not atypically for a start-up, the premises have not been meticulously tailored to the tenant. At some companies, that can mean people crawling over each other in nooks and crannies, but here there are acres of institutional grey. That boardroom table sits in one corner of a room that is the size of a gymnasium, sharing the mostly empty space with a Ping-Pong table and a half-dozen chest freezers full of samples.

Everyone at Luvo needs to have what Day calls a "food story." Founder Stephen Sidwell's story is that, around 2010--carrying 40 extra pounds and worried about his health--he hired a chef who knocked him out with cooking that scrimped on fat but not on flavour. The personal revelation was a business revelation too: Why not take this to the masses?

It was a neat fit for Sidwell. An investment banker who was already helping to transform Vancouver-based mock-meat specialist Yves Veggie Cuisine into continent-wide Gardein Protein International (since sold to Pinnacle Foods for $155 million [U.S.]), he enlisted the help of two former McDonald's executives and promptly launched both Luvo and a health-food restaurant chain, Lyfe Kitchen, which now has 18 locations in the United States.

Day's food story is less momentous, but more poignant. It has to do with her mom, who lost a limb to diabetes. When Day arrived at Luvo, it had developed nine products that were selling in 5,000 retailers in the U.S., including the Kroger, Costco and Safeway chains. The meals, devised inhouse at a test kitchen in California's Bay Area, and made at the company's plant in Illinois, were attracting critical raves, in part due to the unique way they were packaged--not in plastic, but in microwave-ready paper pouches that reduced waste and contributed to a tastier result. They were being served on Delta Airlines, with initiatives under way to add hospitals, education establishments and offices to the mix.

So far, so good. But add to all that activity a name change (the two enterprises at first shared the Lyfe Kitchen brand), and the result was near chaos. "[The retailers] had all bought into the Lyfe Kitchen story, and now we had to tell the Luvo story and we'd been on the shelves for two months," says Day. "That caused a lot of turmoil." Beyond that, there was just too much going on. "The strategy was to grow everywhere," Day says. "We had to retrench and concentrate on our best markets."

Day's original plan had been to take a sizable career break upon leaving Lululemon at the end of 2013, but it quickly became apparent, given the confusion at Luvo, that she would have to start immediately. Today she describes the situation as a simple case of Luvo needing someone like her, a CEO, at the helm. "It was beyond what he wanted to be involved with," she says of Sidwell, who was running the company. "He didn't have the expertise. He wanted to get back to being a venture capitalist." In early 2015, she described a more desperate situation, telling a Los Angeles magazine, "I started seeing the first sales report, the cost of goods and the cash-flow position and said, 'There's not going to be anything to manage in October.'"

The triage involved slowing down some of the introductions and focusing efforts on key retailers where the products did best. Canada was another victim. Luvo products didn't debut north of the border till the second half of 2015, a year behind schedule. Now widely available in B.C., they won't become commonplace farther east until this spring or summer, when supermarket chains including those within the George Weston umbrella (Loblaws, etc.) come on stream. As well, Air Canada is close to following Delta's example of offering Luvo meals as an in-flight option.

As operations began to take on a saner look, Day got to work employing some of the lessons she'd learned at Starbucks and Lululemon. One thing she quickly realized was that while all three companies stretched their categories in exciting new directions, Luvo had some real--and largely unfortunate--distinctions.

"Howard at Starbucks was creating a community gathering place and a daily ritual--a sense of belonging--and coffee was the medium," Day says of Starbucks founder Howard Schultz. "Starbucks was about bringing back personal choice, indulgence and high quality to coffee. So that was disruptive, but there was still strong margins."

Meanwhile, the coffee giant also had the advantage of owning its own stores. "Because you had your own format, you could touch the consumer and you could tell your story," Day says. The same was true at Lululemon, which also enjoyed a happy synchronicity with the yoga craze. "It was a new view of how women's athletic clothing should look and it brought back quality and the retail experience to women, because most of that business had been wholesale."

Luvo, however, lacks both the healthy margins and the retail presence that enabled Starbucks and Lululemon to break through so quickly. "What's challenging for me is that I don't get to touch the consumer," Day says. In fact, not only are the products sold in someone else's environment, they're hidden there behind frozen glass. "It's two items on a shelf and how do you tell the consumer the story--what your offering is?"

Simply put, Luvo is up against some of the barriers strewn about that broken and dysfunctional industry that Day likes to speak of, barriers that are particularly jagged in the frozen-food aisle.

"Frozen food is the most competitive section in the grocery store because of the finite space," explains Steve Stallman, an industry consultant. "You can never add anything, and it includes some very high-volume products. It's hard for even the big players."

If apples aren't selling and oranges are going gangbusters, a produce manager can simply switch a bin or two, and if both are hot, he might even expand a little into the bakery manager's territory. Not so the manager of a frozen-foods section, where freezers are built right into the architecture, generally making expansion out of the question. "If they put you in, they have to take out someone else," says Stallman, whose Stallman Marketing is based in Santa Clarita, California. "So their job, and their bonus, is dependent on them making the right decision."

At a minimum, a frozen-foods manufacturer needs a marketing program to impress a retailer's head office, and then a sales force to deal with individual store and department managers. But it also needs to spread around some cash--a lot of cash, actually. "Almost every retailer charges a fee to, what they say, make changes in the system, discontinue someone's item and put yours in," says Stallman--a so-called slotting fee. "It can be as high as $20,000 an item. If the product doesn't fly off the shelves, it can be discontinued in a week. Now you've just paid your slotting fee and your marketing is kicking in."

No wonder a large proportion of food products fail. Toronto consultant Inez Blackburn's 2008 estimate that 70% to 80% of all launches succumb is widely quoted in the business. But a subsequent study by food marketing professor John Stanton of Philadelphia's Saint Joseph's University found that during a recent 18-month period, the failure rate was considerably lower--43% in the "meals and meal centres" category where Luvo competes, for example. Still, the odds aren't great. Stallman cites two primary reasons. "One is inexperience in marketing. The other is just lack of funds."

Day is nothing if not a marketer, and even before she arrived, Sidwell and company displayed a flair for getting the Luvo message to retailers and customers. Meanwhile, in February, 2015, Luvo attracted an investment of up to $45 million (U.S.) from a branch of Goldman Sachs, giving the investment banking giant a 25% share of the company, while leaving Sidwell and Day with around 10% each. (The remainder is divided between early investors and employees.) But if neither of the potential pitfalls outlined by Stallman seems particularly relevant to Luvo, Day can't forget for a moment that there are plenty more pitfalls inside "the toughest industry I've ever been in." Fortunately, for a frozen-foods company, some of these are opportunities more than obstacles.

The thing that Day says completely shocked her about the food industry is the amount of waste. In the case of fruits and vegetables, a 2012 research paper by the U.S.-based Natural Resources Defense Council pegged the proportion at 52%. That broke down to 20% in the fields, 4% during storage, processing and packaging, 12% in shipping and the retail chain, and 28% at the hands of consumers. Frozen foods can help solve this, says Day. When they're supplying the frozen industry, producers cut down on losses in the fields, since they can use produce of irregular appearance that would otherwise be thrown away. The frozen stream (so to speak) also virtually eliminates losses within the retail chain and the mouldy back corner of consumers' fridges. Moreover, the potential exists to do even better, Day thinks. Luvo is in discussions with groups that are installing dehydrators right on the farm.

Frozen food is normally not thought of as virtuous or aspirational, but waste reduction could give Luvo its own story, that crucial feel-good association that could resonate within Luvo's natural constituency, the affluent and food-conscious.

Only too aware of frozen food's bad rep, Sidwell made another high-profile hire besides Day in early 2014: Samantha Cassetty, who now holds one of the rarest corporate titles: VP nutrition. Based in New York, where Luvo has a satellite office, Cassetty joined Luvo from Good Housekeeping, where, as nutrition director, she was the arbiter of whether food companies that were prepared to pay for the magazine's famous seal of approval for a given product could in fact be granted it. "They came to see me and pitched their product, and I thought it was very interesting," she says of Luvo. So interesting that, within months, she had joined the company.

Cassetty, like anyone in the nutrition end of the business, knew about the frozen-food industry's contention that their products rival the taste and nutrition of garden-picked produce, since the vegetables involved are picked at their peak ripeness, then flash frozen. Meanwhile, their equivalents in the produce section would more likely have been picked green, ripened during transit, then spent days or weeks in a store bin or home refrigerator, awaiting their turn on the stove. Steve Stallman also buys into the idea of frozen foods as gourmet fare, while admitting that it's a tough sell. "Some people get this, and some people don't," he says.

This writer expected to be in the "don't" category, but was surprised by the ingredient quality, flavour profiles and considerable zip of three of the four Luvo entrées he tried. Easily prepared, the dishes stood up well against the supermarket deli products that are their most direct competitors. (A professional food critic did not agree: See at end.)

On the nutrition front, Luvo's case appears to be solid. A recent study, albeit one supported by the U.S. Frozen Food Foundation, concluded that the nutritional value of frozen fruits and vegetables is generally equal to--and in some cases better than--their fresh counterparts. The study, conducted at University of California-Davis, found frozen foods to be particularly adept at preserving vitamin E and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper and iron.

That's frozen food in general. Luvo has some additional advantages, says Cassetty, and not just over traditional brands like Swanson (which Day calls the industry's 1.0s) but also the 2.0s: healthy labels such as Amy's Kitchen. Although it does claim that some of its products are organic and free of genetically modified organisms, Luvo puts most of its emphasis on what its products do contain: an appropriate nutritional balance, limited calorie count, and low levels of fat, sodium and sugar (the red line for both calories and milligrams of sodium is 500). "That's a very different conversation," says Cassetty, compared to competitors who stress what they are "free from."

Here again, there is science to support Luvo's decision to concentrate on overall nutrition rather than food-tribe obsessions such as gluten, organics and GMOs. Recent metaanalyses taking into account hundreds of individual research studies have concluded that there is no or little nutritional benefit from organics and no danger from GMOs. Meanwhile, the Australian scientist who provided the first evidence of non-celiac gluten sensitivity has recanted his findings, given the results of further, more rigorous research. All of these studies have plenty of skeptics, but the obvious takeaway remains: The most direct route to good nutrition and the better health that follows is a balanced diet. Advantage: Luvo.

But, at the same time, Disadvantage: Luvo. The company may have taken what science suggests is the high road, but in doing so it denied itself access to the focused and hence relatively cheap marketing and advertising streams that cater to the various "free froms." By comparison, reaching the masses of mainstream grocery shoppers is frighteningly expensive, especially for a new brand whose message is as much educational as promotional. Luvo has made some small U.S. media buys, in 2015 focusing a magazine campaign on nutritional benefits, with taglines like "talk wholesome to me."

But from the very beginning, even before Day's arrival, the company was successful in gaining considerable profile through a couple of alternative promotional methods--one of them very new, the other very old.

The new one is social media. Day is proud of the company's prowess in this arena, noting that its traffic consistently vies with the much bigger 1.0s and 2.0s. This is a large part of how a lifestyle brand is made today, she says.

The much older one is the celebrity endorsement. Retired New York Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter's role as a brand-development officer dates back to 2013, before Luvo products were widely available. Like others who have signed on--including American swimmer Natalie Coughlin (a 12-time Olympic medallist) and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson--Jeter is compensated with stock and possesses one of Day's food stories. A physician's son, he formed a foundation to promote healthy lifestyles early in his career. Swimmer Coughlin, meanwhile, is a committed foodie who practises organic gardening and blogs about nutrition. And then there is Wilson, who shares with Day aspects of his food story in addition to a Seattle connection.

Wilson, Day notes, approached Luvo, not the other way around. The quarterback's father, it turned out, had died from diabetes complications at the age of 55. The relationship was consummated at a Seattle Mariners game, attended by Jeter, Day and Wilson--creating a considerable commotion in the stands, says Day. Reached via e-mail, Wilson explained his motivation: "My partnership with Luvo is not a typical sponsorship deal; I have a unique position not only as a brand ambassador, but as an investor," he wrote. "As a professional athlete, I have the ability to affect people's lives and with that comes a responsibility to endorse only the products that align with what I believe in, and Luvo is one of those brands."

Luvo's newest marketing wrinkle marries social media and the celebrity endorsement within an initiative loosely modelled on a Lululemon program that enlists local sport figures, yoga teachers and the like as "inspirational leaders." In the Luvo iteration, the chief requirements for local mini-stars joining the "Influencer" program are a lot of social media followers and, of course, a food story. The first to be brought on, Vancouver-based Dai Manuel, is a CrossFit coach and motivational speaker who overcame teenage obesity and counts 55,000 Twitter followers. He hopes to increase his exposure and influence by piggybacking on Luvo's social media reach, even as Luvo does the same with his. No monetary compensation is involved. Rather, says Manuel, "We share the same message, and fight the same fight."

And for Day, it will be a fight. At Lululemon, she made her name by building a company that created a category all its own. As it happens, food trends come and go as quickly as yoga fashions. If Luvo can get on the right side of those, and then stay there, Day's credentials as corporate rock star will be complete. /Jim Sutherland

* * * * * * * * * *


Globe restaurant critic Alexandra Gill puts Luvo to the test in the kitchen

I thought this was supposed to be an easy dinner. Convenience is the main reason people opt for fast food, be it the frozen, canned or restaurant variety. So why are the cooking instructions on Luvo's "steamazing" healthy entrées so complex and confusing?

The meals come with two sets of instructions: one on the box, the other on the paper pouches that go in the microwave or conventional oven. (For some reason, toaster ovens won't work.) The directions involve 10 steps--more if you read the pouch.

"Take the ravioli out of the oven!" I yelled at my sous-chef. (It required a shorter cooking time and lower temperature than the orange mango chicken.)

"No, no, no!" he later scolded as I "carefully" cut along a dotted line to release the steam from the vegetable coconut curry pilaf pouch, while pinching the opposite corners aloft to gently "shimmy" the contents onto a plate. "It has to lay flat while you cut," he said, reading aloud from a different set of instructions.

"This had better taste good," I muttered, thinking to myself that it would have been easier to make pasta.

The microwave is Luvo's recommended method of cooking. I'm not sure why. Yes, the microwave is much faster and heats more thoroughly. (The orange mango chicken's whole grains, kale and broccoli were still cold after 33 minutes in the oven and the required 60-second resting period.) Yet when the pouches are cooked in the microwave, they blow up like popcorn bags, causing some sauces to splatter and stick to the top of the bag. Also, the microwave's kinetic energy doesn't do texture any favours: The ravioli came out rubbery, with a thick, gummy kalericotta filling.

The meals were, however, attractive. Three out of five slid from their pouches looking similar to the pictures on the box, with all their colour-coordinated portions of proteins, starches, vegetables and garnishes intact.

The presentation, however, was not matched in taste. Sickly sweet sauce in the mango chicken needed to be stirred into its bland green grains before it was edible. The curry's red-chili gremolata had a nasal-cleansing sharpness until we mashed it in the pulpy butternut squash. Everything, I'm afraid, cried out for salt.

There were a couple of decent dishes. Steel-cut oatmeal with sliced fruit (one of two Luvo breakfast offerings) was composed with the perfect balance of cranberry tartness and pineapple sweetness. Chicken chili verde was robustly spiced with cilantro, smoky chipotle purée and hot peppers.

But the latter, generously portioned with eight morsels of processed white chicken meat, did make us wonder why the other chicken dish only contained three. And why were we still hungry after eating two meals each?

Luvo's frozen dinners might be nutritious, but they're scarcely convenient, rarely consistent and barely satisfying.

Me, I'd rather cook. /Alexandra Gill

* * * * * * * * * *

Microwave Fave Of Champions?

Luvo's celebrity endorsers link fitness and healthy eating

Derek Jeter

Yankee star is brand development officer

* * * * *

Russell Wilson

Seahawks QB inspired by father

* * * * *

Natalie Coughlin

Olympian swimmer gardens organically

Associated Graphic

Photograph By Cory Dawson

At Starbucks and Lululemon, Christine Day controlled the retail environment; at Luvo, she has no such sway

Samantha Cassetty, VP nutrition, joined Luvo from Good Housekeeping

Photograph Evaan Kheraj/Kathiz

Seven U-Hauls are leaving the province for every one that comes in. Although oil prices have been tanking for more than a year, reports Justin Giovannetti, the human cost of the commodities bust is just now sinking in for many Albertans
Saturday, January 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page F1

EDMONTON -- The price of a barrel of oil was down again and the weather crisp on the morning of Sept. 21, as Jeff Janzen drove through Calgary traffic to his job in one of the gleaming downtown towers where most of the executives in Canada's oil industry work.

He typically drives with the radio off, enjoying a few minutes of quiet and avoiding another morning of grim news. More layoffs were coming. By late September, tens of thousands of jobs had already been lost across Alberta's economy as the price of oil had fallen by half from the nearly $100 a barrel it had been at one year earlier.

Mr. Janzen, 38, was vice-president of corporate development for Steppe Resources Inc., where he had headed the company's growth strategy for three years, working with bankers and looking for companies to acquire. Soon after walking in that morning, he was called into the CEO's office, handed a letter, thanked for his service - and told to leave. "I wasn't overly surprised," he says, "but it was pretty abrupt."

Mr. Janzen headed home and turned off his alarm clock that night. For the first time in a long time, the father of two could sleep in. He had joined the nearly 40,000 Albertans, according to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, who lost their jobs in the province's energy sector last year.

Four months later, Mr. Janzen remains cautiously optimistic. "I don't think it's at a panic level yet ... It's tough, but people are looking at it longer term - it's got to come back eventually, right?"

It certainly should come back - but there are growing signs that the recovery will not be nearly as rapid as Albertans had been hoping. Canada's oil-producing powerhouse is known for boom-and-bust cycles, yet its fortunes have soured considerably since that morning in late September. Hovering around $30 (U.S.) a barrel, oil has fallen to a 13-year low, and the Alberta economy is expected to contract in 2016 for the second year running, according to provincially owned ATB Financial.

The last time that happened was 1982-83, when the province weathered a recession that left scar tissue. The eighties are still spoken about in hushed tones, a time synonymous with abandoned dreams.

The impact of the current collapse has been dramatic, but only now, in the first few weeks of 2016, has it become clear to many Albertans that the protracted pain is back. As oil prices continue to fall and once-generous wages decline, the image of Alberta as a place of boundless opportunity and optimism has faded. Some now worry that Canada's economic engine hasn't just stalled, but may never again run the way it once did.

According to its trade association, 100,000 workers directly and indirectly tied to the oil-and-gas sector lost their jobs last year. Rig operators and oil-well drillers, the core of the blue-collar workforce that fuels Alberta's energy sector, have sustained a disproportionate share of the pain.

In fact, the ranks of the unemployed are approaching the high hit during the worst month of the Great Recession, and ATB Financial expects the unemployment rate to reach 8 per cent - the highest in more than 20 years. It is now 7 per cent, up from 4.7 per cent a year ago.

In the wake of those numbers (and despite an uptick in oil prices late this week) the optimism that once helped droves of unemployed Albertans like Mr. Janzen cling to the hope of rapid recovery has dimmed.

"I think most people expected this downturn to be shorter than it will be," says Jeff Callaway, a senior investment adviser with Canaccord Genuity in Calgary, and also president of the Wildrose Party, which is currently in opposition in the Alberta Legislature. "In the summer, we saw oil prices start to pick up, and people got a sense of false security. They figured that they could take their severance and work on the house for a few weeks. But then the prices rolled over and continued to fall. There has just been a series of body blows to the industry since then."

Slowdown in the sands

The impact hasn't been even across the province. The capital region continues to hum, aided by a New Democratic Party government that has ruled out mass cuts to the civil service. But Calgary and Northern Alberta have felt the pain, in spades. And business has slowed to a crawl in the capital of the oil sands.

While production around Fort McMurray is expected to increase this year, many projects can now operate with fewer workers, and the frantic pace of activity has largely fallen away. Businesses across the city, from car washes to barbershops, report reduced traffic. One of the last glimpses of the old Fort McMurray is in the parking lots around Tim Hortons outlets, where long lines of trucks still idle around the clock to get fresh coffee.

After a decade of constant flying back and forth from his native Nova Scotia, Brian Pettipas settled in Fort McMurray four years ago, and bought a house. But work in the oil-services industry has all but dried up. Drilling for new wells is expected to hit its lowest level in decades this year, and the percentage of time each drill rig is busy is expected to be the lowest since records began being kept in 1977.

The Bank of Canada expects energy companies to cut spending by 25 per cent this year, after slashing investment levels by 40 per cent in 2015. As oil-and-gas producers look to reduce costs, they've cut back on many of the perks that workers like Mr. Pettipas, a heavy-equipment operator who had run a dredge pump at a Suncor tailings pond until he was laid off last fall, once needed to break even.

On Jan. 15, his union posted 140 jobs for local people (part of a growing trend of hiring locally), but Mr. Pettipas says the work, while welcome, may not be enough: "They're 40-hour jobs, which would pay your bills in any other city, but you make your money on your overtime in Fort McMurray."

Reflecting the drop in worker travel, traffic at Fort McMurray's new $250-million airport has also been falling off, with passenger traffic down 16 per cent last year. Charter flights commissioned to bring in oil workers fell by 50 per cent. The number of regular flights has also started to decline, with service cancelled to Red Deer, Denver and Mexico. WestJet announced this week that flights to Kelowna, B.C., scheduled five times a week, will be suspended in February.

"I've been around for drops before, but this one is just a little tougher and longer," says Mr. Pettipas, who grew up in a small town outside Halifax. "There will be a boom again, I just need to ride it out."

He now has a message for friends back East: "Don't come. It has to go up, but not now."

From influx to exodus

And the influx has slowed. Last year, before the full impact of the drop in oil prices began to bite, Calgary was still the fastest-growing city in the country, followed closely by Edmonton (which surpassed Ottawa-Gatineau as Canada's fifth-largest metropolitan area in 2013).

After years of heady growth, both Alberta cities now have overloaded transit systems, crowded classrooms, and hospitals struggling to provide proper patient care. The median age in the province in 2011 was 36.5, compared with the national median of 40.6. As a result, more Albertans are now in their childbearing years. To meet educational demand, the government is currently building or expanding more than 230 schools. Indeed, despite hard economic times, although schools were expecting a 1.5-per-cent increase in enrolment in September, early estimates indicate that the increase was more than 2.5 per cent.

In tandem with the economic decline, the province has witnessed several other unwelcome developments:

The suicide rate rose 30 per cent in the first half of 2015.

Police chiefs have warned that nearly all categories of crime are climbing.

The abuse of fentanyl, a potentially deadly and once little-known painkiller, has surged. In the first nine months of last year, 213 Albertans died from fentanyl overdoses, almost double the number of a year earlier.

By the end of September, insolvencies across the province were up 25 per cent from a year earlier.

In fact, the great Alberta influx, which saw droves of Canadians make their way to the province in search of opportunity, may be thrown into reverse. According to the Bank of Canada's latest Monetary Policy Report, net interprovincial migration to Alberta in the third quarter of 2015 was at its lowest level since 2010.

Kevin Phone, the Calgary-based vice-president of Premiere Van Lines, says he now has about seven trucks moving people out of Alberta for each truck bringing people in. According to Mr. Phone, in the past, drivers transported belongings to Alberta from the East Coast - and then found themselves waiting weeks for a load full enough to warrant the trip back. Not any more.

At peak times, empty tables

In the wake of such drastic change, the very face of downtown Calgary has begun to change. Rents are down nearly 20 per cent, according to rental websites, a remarkable decline from last January. Restaurants that once required reservations for business lunches now have open tables at peak times. And the frenzy of activity on the Plus-15 system of pedways that connects the downtown's buildings, where men and women in tailored clothes hustle between offices, is noticeably quieter.

"There's a real feeling of tumbleweeds," says Rob McMorris, who for four years has been a freelance photographer in downtown Calgary. Last fall, as companies downsized and moved to smaller offices, or emptied entire floors, Mr. McMorris - whose photos are used by real-estate services for advertising - grabbed his camera and equipment as often as five times a week to take shots of newly vacated spaces.

"What's weird here is just the vast amount of it. Every week, there was a new sublease, a new vacancy," he says. "In the last 12 months, it has been crazy."

The vacancy rate downtown now stands at more than 18 per cent - the highest inventory of empty space ever recorded here by Colliers International. During the last downturn, following the Great Recession, the commercial real-estate vacancy rate peaked at 15.2 per cent.

And while most office floors are cleaned out before he gets to them, Mr. McMorris sees the traces of the people who once worked in them. "I took photos of two floors that had been a local energy company, and everything was still there," he says. "The kitchen still had the coffee mugs and stacks of single-serving K-cups everywhere. I thought, 'Wow. They just got the call and did not come in.'"

Also falling are Calgary's outrageously high downtown parking rates, once considered second only to New York in North America. As a concession to the economy, the Calgary Parking Authority has frozen curbside rates for 2016.

When the severance runs out

For those who remain, work is increasingly hard to find.

Craig Fryzuk, who works as a bankruptcy trustee and senior vice-president with personal-services giant BDO, has had to expand his office to deal with the increase in bankruptcy filings. He recently posted a job for an administrative assistant - and received 421 resumés. "Normally," he says, "30 to 60 would be a large amount."

Many people approached his office for advice after the first round of layoffs. Six months later, as severance packages began to run out, the first flood of bankruptcy filings came in. It's indicative of the difficulties faced by a family with a $536,990 house - the average selling price for a detached home in Calgary last year - and (often) two cars, and kids.

Along with questions that come his way about renting out spaces, downsizing into a smaller home, or shedding assets, he's also had to deal with the fallout from divorces, and to be on the watch for more cases of spousal abuse and aggressive behaviour.

"For a while, I kept hearing from people that they only needed help in the short term and that they'd be hired back after the summer. It was very optimistic, that's how Albertans are," Mr. Fryzuk says.

But, he adds, "when December came around, people told us, 'Yeah, I don't anticipate being back at work until this thing turns around.' They're looking for anything they can get their hands on."

Boom time for the bailiff

When mortgage payments are missed and banks foreclose, people like John Shortridge appear on the scene. The owner of Allied Shortridge Civil Enforcement says he is already seeing a 60-per-cent rise in demand for bailiffs - and is looking to hire. "We're the people at the end of the system,' he notes, "where everything has failed."

It can take six months for an eviction process to work its way from first notice to a knock at the door. "Someone who has fallen behind can't blame the economy - it's an abstract thing," Mr. Shortridge says. "But when the bailiff shows up, they can put a face on it - we get yelled at. A bailiff needs to have broad shoulders."

Yelled at or not, he adds, "If you don't move within two days, when we come back, we pack everything up and put it in storage. You need to pay all the costs ... The worst is that you lose all those baby pictures, which have no value for anyone else, but are priceless for you. It's heartbreaking,"

He reads the business pages closely, knowing that a further decline in oil will increase demand for his services.

Visions of a new normal

Until being laid off on Nov. 16 as part of a five-per-cent cut to the workforce at Enbridge, Greg Nichols was director of customer service at the company, running scheduling activities for the pipeline giant's North American crude-oil system. He calls his nearly five years at the company "fantastic," and seems to bear no ill will against it. In fact, he sheepishly admits, moves he recommended may have led to what happened to him.

Having paid down his debt, the Saskatchewan-born Mr. Nichols is in relatively good shape. He is treating his time off as an opportunity: reflecting on his career, looking for a new challenge, and extending his gaze beyond Canada.

Still, he may have to recalibrate his expectations. "In the last couple of days," he says, "I was talking with an executive recruiter based in the U.K. and he asked me what my base salary was - and then added, 'keeping in mind that this is Calgary we're talking about, and I'll rebase your salary in reality.' That may not be exactly what he said, but he was saying that everyone in this city is going to need to shift their expectation of total compensation."

With the outsized wages of the oil patch leading to wage inflation across the province, the median income for an Alberta family was $97,390 in 2013 - far above the national median of $76,550. The gap was even more pronounced in Calgary, where the figure tipped over $101,000.

Thanks to the late Ralph Klein, Albertans also got to keep more of their earnings than did other Canadians. With no sales tax, and a flat 10-per-cent provincial tax on incomes, Mr. Klein trumpeted the "Albertan Advantage" while premier from 1992 to 2006.

But those low tax rates are now a thing of the past for many Albertans. After her election as premier last year, the NDP's Rachel Notley hiked the income-tax rate for anyone making more than $125,000. Indeed, starting this year, the tax on incomes over $300,000 rises sharply - from 10 per cent to 15.

At the same time, the regulatory burden on business has been growing. Calgary remains a hub for entrepreneurs, but Alberta has slipped behind Saskatchewan in most ease-of-business rankings. "The high price of oil helped us cover up a lot of inefficiencies across the board," says Canaccord Genuity's Mr. Callaway.

"It now takes three years, or longer, to get a small oil-sands project approved in Alberta. Across the border in Saskatchewan, it takes six months. There are burdens here in Alberta where we are getting in our own way."

The economy has also made life difficult for corporate recruiters. Jessica Young could once plan more than six months in advance, working with a good sense of who would be hiring and when. But this year, says the Calgary-based representative of executive-search firm Pekarsky & Co., "it seems like it'll be harder to see ... down the line."

Laid-off executives and managers come to Ms. Young looking for help, but the economic contraction is bad for her business. "The stress of this economy has seen people's emotional reactions creep in," she says. "They tell us about chasing leads for months and nothing coming up. Some people haven't been out of the workforce for 20 years."

At the same time, she says, hard times are laying bare the shortcomings of some executives who were hired when profits were high, and standards sometimes low. "It's easy to see levels of competence when the tide is going out," she says.

In fact, Ms. Young has recently shifted her focus away from the oil-and-gas industry, to event hiring and not-for-profits. In the spring, she will be leaving her native province altogether, to open her company's new office in Toronto. "I think people are starting to see through the veneer of the Alberta Advantage," she says. "They're seeing that things might not turn back again; they aren't planning on an upswing any more."

'Like being hit by a blunt object'

How low will Alberta go? "It looks like the 1980s all over again," says Mr. Callaway. "I don't want to be Dr. Doom and Gloom, but it looks likely that we're facing more pain."

Between 1981 and 1983, as the province faced high interest rates, a collapsing oil price and the National Energy Program brought in by the federal Liberals, its gross domestic product contracted by 9.8 per cent. Bankruptcies increased by 50 per cent in 1983 over 1982, which was itself a bad year. Unemployment rose to nearly 12 per cent, from 4.5 per cent; housing markets collapsed. Mr. Klein, then the mayor of Calgary, drove a front-end loader through a plywood wall of "negativity" in a campaign to fight recessionary gloom.

"This recession will be like being hit by a blunt object - it ... won't be as painful, but it will last for much longer," says Todd Hirsch, chief economist for ATB Financial. "This will probably be the longest downturn since the 1980s."

While he says that there are many similarities between this recession and the 1980s, there is one very different variable: interest rates. "Mortgage rates in the mid-eighties were 15 to 18 per cent, so when you lost your job and were without an income for a month or two, you were almost certainly going to default on your mortgage." Rates today are around 4 per cent, and many more households now have two income-earners, which helps to mitigate the impact of a layoff.

Mr. Hirsch predicts that Alberta has "not reached bottom yet." Following last year's one-per-cent contraction, he now expects that the economy will shrink by 0.5 per cent in 2016 - a prediction he says has changed "in a very substantial way" since the start of the Christmas break.

He expects another round of layoffs in the spring, estimates that unemployment will reach 8 per cent by year's end, and thinks that oil has fallen so far below the break-even point for many energy projects that any recovery will be gradual. "The bottom will come over the next six months, with some gradual improvement at the end of 2016. The light at the end of the tunnel is another eight to 12 months off. It'll be a return to where we were last October." Adds Mr. Hirsch: "The industry will be gasping for air, but at least they can gasp."

With Premier Notley speaking about the need to diversify Alberta's economy to reduce the impact of future oil crashes, Mr. Hirsch says some diversification will occur organically. But that, he says, will also require a change in expectations. "We might have to get rid of the idea that we'll always have three-per-cent unemployment and five-per-cent growth - nearly Chinese levels of growth - here."

One upside, he adds: "We might be more tempered, and healthier, in the long run."

'Something will give'

Some Albertans may look for opportunities beyond oil and gas, but the energy sector is what many know best. After losing his job at Steppe Resources, Jeff Janzen met up with a geologist laid off the same day. "We always got along with each other, respected each other, so we decided to start something up," he says. "We've been working to secure funding and start purchasing some assets."

Along with two other partners, they've founded Islander Oil and Gas. With the prices of energy assets depressed, he say it's a good time to buy. While some investors are waiting on the sidelines, holding out for the economy to hit bottom, Mr. Janzen is optimistic that oil will bounce back, and is looking for assets that will be worth a lot when it does.

"Do I want to start an oil-and-gas business in Alberta right now? Honestly, it would be a lot easier in Saskatchewan or Manitoba. They're more business-friendly," he says. But with two young children, he isn't ready to move. "I'm pretty optimistic," he adds, "that something will give."

* * * * * * * * * *

Justin Giovannetti is a reporter in The Globe and Mail's Edmonton bureau.

Associated Graphic

Under construction: An office tower takes shape in Calgary, but the vacancy rate stands at more than 18 per cent, the highest ever recorded in the city.

Photography by Chris Bolin for The Globe and Mail

It's quitting time, yet a major pedestrian walkway in Calgary is notably devoid of pedestrians one day this week.

Riding home from the financial district: The buses are much emptier than they used to be.



An empty office at a Calgary oil-and-gas company that, with layoffs, has had to consolidate its 11 floors into five.

Office space in great supply: A year ago unemployment was 4.7 per cent. It may double that before things improve.




A condo under construction sits vacant in downtown Fort McMurray, whose airport has been reducing flights.

A home for sale in downtown Fort McMurray last fall: Not long ago housing was at a premium.



Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Charity case
The fall of Goodwill in Toronto - the shuttered stores, the embittered employees, the discarded donations - was anything but sudden. Janet McFarland, Jeff Gray and Eric Andrew-Gee report on a financial failure long in the making
Saturday, January 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page M1

For 31 years, John Petti was a janitor at a Goodwill outlet in Scarborough. Now, bewildered, jobless and left with just 11 boxes of Kraft Dinner in his North York apartment, he is struggling to understand the thrift store's sudden demise.

Looking at piles of newly donated goods sitting untouched in motley heaps outside Goodwill's locked doors at the Progress Avenue location, Mr. Petti wonders how a business model with a well-established brand relying on free donations could suddenly run out of cash and go belly up.

"The maddening thing is, every single day, people are donating," he said. "They come out in a freaking rainstorm and drop off donations."

Mr. Petti joined dozens of out-of-work Goodwill employees in the parking lot on Wednesday to demand their paycheques and call for the resignation of chief executive officer Keiko Nakamura. Some had showed up to work on Sunday to find shuttered stores and no explanation.

Coursing through their expressions of fear and anger is a deep sense of betrayal and confusion over how this could happen. "In my world, if you give me something for free, and I sell it, I'm going to have money in my pocket," Goodwill truck driver and union steward James Nickle said. "It's pretty simple."

Sadly, for the 430 mostly low-wage employees put out of work, the fall of Goodwill's Toronto operation was anything but simple.

While the organization's closing was abrupt, a Globe and Mail analysis of Goodwill's operations shows that its decline was long in the making. The group's financial woes stretch back well over a decade, and the charity weathered a string of major and minor crises for years as it attempted to find a solid financial footing.

Goodwill's failure is a story of numerous poor management decisions set against the backdrop of an increasingly competitive retail environment for secondhand goods. Coming together, the two factors were a fatal combination.

While Ms. Nakamura has offered minimal public comment about the financial issues that sunk the organization - and would not agree to be interviewed for this article - it is clear that the charity has operated on the brink for years.

Court records in legal disputes illustrate how long Goodwill has struggled to make ends meet. In 2006, for example, the charity's lender cancelled its line of credit because of financial concerns, which prompted the organization to distribute credit cards to executives in order to make key payments and provide petty cash.

Ms. Nakamura's predecessor, former Deloitte human resources consultant Ken Connelly, ran Goodwill for more than a decade before retiring in 2011. The organization was always financially up against the wall and, by its nature, difficult to manage, he said.

Among its challenges, Goodwill has a mandate to employ people with disabilities, immigrants, people with criminal records and the chronically unemployed.

"It's like the people who Goodwill serves, it's a marginalized community," said Mr. Connelly, 75, who now writes poetry. "Most of the employees have come through a program of some sort, and it is unionized ... so you're always negotiating. And it's just a very tough environment for everyone connected to it."

The combination of a union and Ontario's move to increase the minimum wage, which Mr. Connelly supports, did make it harder to meet the payroll. Wages were Goodwill's single biggest annual expense, at around $17-million, close to two-thirds of its revenue.

Plus, Mr. Connelly said, new competitors in the second-hand clothes market were emerging.

In addition, the 2008 financial crisis hit the charity, and the city's poor whom it serves, very hard, he said.

But even before the financial crisis, Goodwill was struggling. It made a series of bold moves meant to shore up its future, but kept ending up further behind. In 2005, it sold off its Jarvis Street flagship store, which had stood for 70 years, to developers. Goodwill earned $14-million, but it was soon eaten up paying off debts, buying new equipment, paying severance to laid-off workers, setting up new stores and facilities and subsidizing ongoing losses.

Around the same time, Goodwill Toronto thought that it could fix its problems by bringing in consultants from a successful Goodwill branch in the United States, signing an 11-year deal for help from Goodwill Manasota Inc. of Bradenton, Fla. But the help did not come cheap.

Trainers were sent north from Florida to work with Toronto's staff to find ways to maximize revenue. However, according to Goodwill Toronto's financial statements, by 2008, with the financial crisis biting, Toronto had to cancel the deal. Mr. Connelly said he felt that the trainers had taught his organization all they could.

But Goodwill Toronto was left with a $160,263 (U.S.) bill it couldn't pay. It agreed to make $1,000-a-week instalments until its financial health improved.

In an interview, current Goodwill Manasota vice-president Veronica Brandon Miller said she was unaware of the details of the Toronto contract, or why it was cancelled. But she said her organization does its best to help struggling Goodwill stores.

"A lot of people don't understand ... there's a whole process to make sure that you are gaining the most revenue from [each] donation," she said. "And that's what we do."

Goodwill Toronto had also fallen way behind on the $1,300 (U.S.) a month in dues it must pay to Goodwill Industries International Inc., the organization based in Rockville, Md., that serves as an umbrella for independently operated Goodwills across the United States and Canada.

In 2009, according to its financial statements, Goodwill Toronto agreed to pay Goodwill Industries International $136,811 in back payments, spread out in monthly instalments scheduled until 2017. This week, a spokeswoman for the international group said her organization had sent a representative to Canada to look into the sudden collapse of the Toronto-based chapter.

Mr. Connelly said that, despite all Goodwill's many problems, the shuttering of the organization on his successor's watch came as a shock. He is hopeful that it will reopen, not just for the staff, but for the many customers who live in poverty and not only shop at the store but also feel like part of a community there.

"When they go into one of the downtown stores or an upscale store, they don't feel welcome, they are basically told to get out," he said. "Whereas when they go to a Goodwill store, they feel at home."

In 2011, Mr. Connelly retired and was replaced by Ms. Nakamura, who had been fired as CEO of Toronto Community Housing Corp., the massive city agency that oversees its 58,000 units of public housing. She was asked to leave TCHC in March, 2011, after an audit report uncovered lavish staff spending and sloppy procurement practices.

Ms. Nakamura's background was in the public sector, and she had no experience running a retail-store chain. At Goodwill, she was overseen by a volunteer board that also lacked significant retail-management backgrounds, many of its members coming from other parts of the business or charitable world. They resigned en masse last Friday and have declined to speak, leaving many questions about their handling of the crisis.

By all accounts, Ms. Nakamura hit the ground running. Her first priority was to develop a strategy to turn around the organization, including a "real estate consolidation" plan that ultimately saw Goodwill close at least five store locations under her tenure.

She also launched a strategy to cut overhead costs, and replaced some top officials. In 2012, she fired the long-time chief operating officer, Vijay Goutam, after alleging that he used a Goodwill credit card for $27,000 in cash withdrawals or advances "to benefit him personally," according to court documents filed in a wrongful-dismissal suit.

At first, Mr. Goutam, who received a salary of $156,550, agreed to pay the money back and was allowed to stay on, on probation. In the court documents, he denies any wrongdoing, saying that in previous years, once expense receipts were reconciled, he would cover any "overage" for cash spent without receipts.

But he was let go after allegations emerged that he had then "pressured" a subordinate to lend him $9,000, which Mr. Goutam also denies in the documents. He sued in 2013, but the two sides reached a settlement.

Through his lawyer, Mr. Goutam declined to comment for this story.

The CEO changeover came as Goodwill was in the midst of making one of its biggest financial decisions in years: the sale of its only significant remaining real estate asset. After the selloff of its Jarvis Street location, it had retained a nearby parcel of land on Richmond Street, where it once had a garage to repair its fleet of trucks. It had turned this property into a donation centre and, in 2006, had taken out a $980,000 mortgage on it.

In 2011, Goodwill got an offer from condo developer Brad Lamb for the site for $4.2-million. But a legal dispute threw the deal into question, after it emerged that an adjacent property owner had actually purchased a right of first refusal on the property from the original owners who had sold it to Goodwill in 1987.

Mr. Lamb did not get the land. It was sold to Goodwill's neighbour, and the charity continued to rent from the new owners and operate its donation centre until this week.

The proceeds from the 2011 sale came at a critical time. Without the cash, Goodwill would have suffered a $2.4-million loss that year. The money was supposed to go into a reserve fund, but it ended subsidizing the organization's losses in the next few years.

A period of relative calm followed. According to the 2012 financial numbers, sales grew and costs fell. Yet the company's auditors still attached their standard warning to the 2012 financial statements, signed in May, 2013, warning that Goodwill faced risks "that cast significant doubt about the organization's ability to continue as a going concern."

That warning was a major barrier that kept Goodwill from being able to borrow more money from banks. But the new management team was optimistic that the auditor's alert would soon disappear.

"While the organization has endured problems in the past, the financial results in 2012 are a positive trend and represent an ongoing commitment by management to return Goodwill to operational stability as a going concern," the charity said in its 2012 financial statements.

However, competition continued to grow stiffer, not only from long-standing thrift-store charities such as the Salvation Army and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, but especially from a growing number of for-profit retailers moving into the second-hand market.

Value Village, a for-profit company owned by U.S.-based Savers Inc., is the best known of the group, and has moved aggressively into the Toronto market. But competition has also grown from new chains emerging in various niches of the second-hand-clothing sector.

For example, Canadian-owned chain Talize has opened six second-hand clothing stores in Ontario, while Minneapolis-based franchise giant Winmark Corp. is seeing its operations expand in Canada with a growing array of second-hand businesses.

Winmark's brands include Once Upon a Child, which sells children's clothes and equipment; Play it Again Sports, which sells second-hand sporting gear; and Plato's Closet, which sells clothing aimed at teens and 20-year-olds. All now have multiple outlets in Southern Ontario.

Many of those competitors also pay for donated clothes, drawing away some of the best-quality merchandise that previously would have been given to charities such as Goodwill, which do not pay for donations.

Goodwill has also had to contend with the rise of personal online sales of second-hand goods over the past decade on sites such as Kijiji, which have been a blow to donations. Some are turning to local "freecycle" sites to simply give away their unwanted stuff.

Ms. Nakamura told reporters at a news conference on Monday that Goodwill also struggled with steep rental costs in an expensive market such as Toronto, where it owned none of its own stores.

One of Goodwill's competitors, the Salvation Army Thrift Stores, also leases a majority of its locations.

Michele Walker, national retail-operations manager for the Thrift stores, said rent costs have been an issue. But Ms. Walker said the Salvation Army Thrift organization, which operates 30 stores in the Central Ontario region, has had "moderate" revenue growth, even in Toronto, which has offset increases in leasing costs.

And she said Salvation Army has benefited from long-term relationships with its landlords, meaning that it has not had to move locations frequently. "We have a lot of long-standing relationships and long-standing leases in the Toronto area, so we're not constantly moving," she said.

Goodwill has faced more churn, with Ms. Nakamura closing at least five stores, and many other stores closed before she arrived. She also had to contend with other real estate decisions made before she joined the organization.

For example, Goodwill moved locations in 2010 from a bustling but high-rent retail location on Roncesvalles Avenue in west-end Toronto to a new "flagship" in an industrial park on Islington Avenue, at the off-ramp from the adjacent Gardiner Expressway. The store is far larger, but the location has little foot traffic and there are no other retailers within sight of the building.

John Williams of retail consultancy JC Williams Group, who has advised Goodwill and the Salvation Army on retail strategy in the past, said Goodwill's troubles have all the signs of a mismanaged operation. Considering that the retailer paid nothing for its merchandise, "obviously the management and oversight structure wasn't functioning," he said.

"I'd love Salvation Army to take them over. They know what they're doing," Mr. Williams said.

By the time it closed this month, Goodwill Toronto - whose territory stretches from the Greater Toronto Area to Ottawa - had just 16 stores left, leaving it with diminishing brand awareness.

The optimism that greeted Ms. Nakamura's arrival in 2012 quickly evaporated as her renewal plan was overtaken by weak store sales.

From a peak of $27.5-million in 2012, the Toronto region's retail store sales revenue fell steadily under her watch to $23-million in 2014. In both 2013 and 2014, the organization again recorded deficits. (The charity has not disclosed its 2015 financial information.)

At the end of 2014, Goodwill faced a further setback when management lost a dispute with the Canadian Airport Workers Union, which represents most of its employees.

The union complained about Ms. Namakura's "winter strategy," meant to cut costs in the slow cold months of January to March. All employees were to see their hours cut, but the union complained that the collective agreement required Goodwill to lay off part-timers first, before slashing hours for full-timers. Management argued that laying off at least 53 part-timers for a full three-month period each year would be disruptive.

An arbitrator upheld the union's grievance. The ruling also required Goodwill to work out a deal to reimburse full-time employees for lost wages from having their hours reduced, which the union's lawyer, Denis Ellickson, said could be a "considerable sum." However, Mr. Ellickson said the union agreed last fall to postpone a hearing to determine the size of the payments until Goodwill could get "over a hump" financially.

Goodwill did not get over the hump. Although the fourth quarter is traditionally stronger for second-hand retailers because of the lucrative Halloween costume season, Goodwill Toronto began its slow winter season in January, 2016, without even enough cash in the bank to cover payroll costs.

Employees said they had no sense of the financial problems and were assured in late 2015 that things were going well.

One long-time Goodwill employee who worked at the company's Thorncliffe Park location said Ms. Nakamura met with staff at the store a few months ago and assured them that the organization was healthy.

"We actually had a meeting with Keiko. She said, 'It's wonderful, everything's good,' " Nadia Manikis said. "No indication."

With inadequate cash at the start of January, and no hope for a quick turnaround in the coming months, Goodwill's volunteer board decided at an evening meeting on Friday, Jan. 15, to shut down operations immediately.

(Strangely, Goodwill had posted an ad on its Facebook page the day before looking for three new directors to join the board.)

No one has explained why the move was so abrupt, and why no interim measures - such as further store closings, partial layoffs or a major restructuring - were attempted.

Shocked employees waited all week to see if they would at least get their unpaid back wages, only to be told that their final pay would be provided on Friday. Ms. Nakamura said in a statement that she is still seeking "support and alliances to create a constructive path forward for the organization," but offered no details about what is being considered.

"This crisis may present an opportunity for a transformation," she said.

Workers' hopes are fading, however.

Zahra Mohamed, who worked at a location in Brampton, is over 60 - she wouldn't say how old, exactly - and fears that without Goodwill she will struggle to find work. "Who's going to hire me at this age?" she said.

But, like many other employees at Wednesday's protest, she believes that Goodwill is fundamentally viable and could be revived. While it's still unclear whether that interpretation holds water, it is all the employees have left.

"We know we are in a mess," Ms. Mohamed said. "But we know we can come back."

* * * * * * * * * *

With a report from Marina Strauss .

Follow us on Twitter: @JMcFarlandGlobe, @jeffreybgray, @ericandrewgee, @MarinaStrauss


Michael Eubanks, chair: chief information officer at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, previously worked at technology company One Inc. and at Canadian Tire Corp.

Michael Levitt, vice-chair: executive director of Humber River Family Health Team and consultant to non-profit organizations.

Mark Trachuk, treasurer: partner at law firm Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, practises corporate and securities law.

Yazdi Bharucha: director of Centric Health Corp. and Genesis Land Development Corp., retired chief financial officer of Canadian Apartment Properties REIT.

Jim Curran: former CBC radio traffic reporter.

Christine Hart: former Ontario cabinet minister, lawyer, president of Accord/hart & Associates Inc., which provides mediation and alternative dispute resolution services.

Amy Hosotsuji: event planner and youth co-ordinator at the Grassroots Youth Collaborative, which supports youth-led festivals and events in Toronto.

Kelly Juhasz: managing director of Knowledge Transfer Company Inc., which advises firms on digital strategy and designs training tools.

Amin Remtulla: chief information officer at Trillium Gift of Life Network, an Ontario government agency co-ordinating organ donations.

David Wai: director of plan design and policy at the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan Implementation Secretariat.

Alex Kjorven: head of applied innovation practice at Purpose Capital, which advises investors with a social impact mandate.

Controversial crises

The abrupt shutdown this week of Goodwill's Toronto operations is not Keiko Nakamura's first brush with crisis.

Before her 2011 appointment as chief executive officer of Goodwill Industries of Toronto, Eastern, Central and Northern Ontario, Ms. Nakamura was the controversial head of Toronto Community Housing Corp. (TCHC), the city agency that oversees 58,000 units of public housing with an annual budget of more than $600-million.

Ms. Nakamura was fired in March, 2011, after a city audit report revealed evidence of lavish staff spending and poor procurement practices at TCHC, including millions spent on improperly solesourced contracts. The auditor listed numerous examples of improper spending, including $53,500 for a staff party, $40,000 for a Christmas party, $1,925 for manicures and $1,000 for chocolates from Holt Renfrew.

The spending occurred between January, 2009, and June, 2010, and Ms. Nakamura argued that she was not CEO over the full period and had introduced policies to rein in improper spending after she became head of the organization.

But former mayor Rob Ford's administration insisted on her ouster, arguing that she was part of the management team in place during the period in question. She joined TCHC in 2005 as chief operating officer before becoming CEO on an interim basis in 2009 and permanently in 2010.

Before joining TCHC, she was Toronto's director of facilities services, and previously worked for 10 years in the health-care sector at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.

Associated Graphic


Heaps of goods were left outside the Richmond Street Goodwill after the closure of all 16 Toronto-region stores was announced.


A notice taped to a window informing people of the closure of the Richmond Street Goodwill.


The store closures leave its regular customers out in the cold, since 'they don't feel welcome' at other stores, says Ken Connelly, former CEO of Goodwill's Toronto operations.


Kahsar Hameed is comforted by co-worker and the union's chief steward James Nickle.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Saturday, February 6, 2016 – Print Edition, Page B8

TORONTO -- It's a late afternoon in mid-January when a solemn-faced Harris Fricker shuffles into a dimly lit conference room, three floors above the nexus of Toronto's financial district.

Mr. Fricker, chief executive officer of GMP Capital Inc. - one of Canada's largest and most-storied independent brokerages - has just received board approval to unveil a major restructuring that will cut jobs, shutter offices and drastically reduce his company's global footprint.

"You either adapt or you perish," Mr. Fricker says, going over the details of his plan. "It's a very, very tough operating environment."

The next morning, GMP will eliminate a quarter of its work force - including 73 positions in Canada - while closing operations in Australia and Britain and cutting roughly a third of its U.S. staff. The company's long-standing dividend will also be eliminated.

"The decisions made were gut wrenching and the cause of many hours of lost sleep," read a nextday memo to staff from Mr. Fricker. "Today is a tough day for all of us, especially our partners who lost their jobs."

The fate of GMP and scores of other independent Canadian brokerages is indelibly linked to the health of the resources market.

Crude oil, the single most important commodity for independents, has been in free-fall - plummeting 70 per cent since mid-2014. In its most recent quarter, GMP's energy sector investment banking revenue cratered a staggering 87 per cent year-overyear. The company's shares are trading near an all-time low.

Rival firm Canaccord Genuity Group Inc. isn't faring much better. As recently as mid-2014, Canaccord's market capitalization was in excess of $1.35-billion. It's worth roughly a third of that today. Canaccord, too, has been forced to lay off staff, parting ways with 15 bankers in November.

At the smaller end of the scale, it's orders of magnitudes worse. Fifty boutiques - one quarter of the industry - have either gone out of business or been acquired in distressed sales over the past three years, according to data from the Investment Industry Association of Canada (IIAC).

In December alone, three boutiques shut down - and some were messy. When Octagon Capital Corp. went bust, the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) had to bail out a $4.7-million investor shortfall. Jacob Securities was shut down by the regulator amid a host of compliance violations.

"This is the absolute worst environment I have ever seen for the independent brokers," says Sumit Malhotra, a veteran equities analyst with Scotia Capital.

The closings and cuts resonate far beyond Bay Street. Independents are an integral part of the Canadian capital markets ecosystem. They once funded large swaths of companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and almost the entire TSX Venture Exchange. On Bay Street, boutiques have led the way in everything from compensation to financial innovation, while drawing in some of the great characters in Canadian finance.

Much of what ails the industry is out of its control. The broad collapse in commodity prices has seen deal making, financings, and trading volumes plummet.

At the same time, a multiyear upending of the business model - much of it driven by technology - has caused traditional revenue sources to evaporate. Regulatory costs, too, have escalated worldwide in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. "A perfect storm," Mr. Fricker says.

The industry has faced great tests before: The Bre-X Gold scandal in the late-1990s; The dot-com technology crash; The financial crisis of 2008. But nothing compares with what's happening right now.


The shape and form of the modern-day brokerage industry can be traced back to a regulatory change that came into effect almost 30 years ago.

In 1987, a ban prohibiting Canadian banks from entering investment banking and trading was lifted. Within months, many of the large independents - some of which had existed since the turn of the century - were swallowed by the banks. In short order, Bank of Montreal bought Nesbitt Thomson, Royal Bank of Canada acquired Dominion Securities and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce swallowed Wood Gundy.

While many of the early independents were conservatively run businesses - specializing in investment banking advice - they took on more risk over time. In the 1980s, Gordon Capital pioneered the "bought deal," wherein a brokerage buys an entire stock offering directly from an issuer at a discounted price. If the shares aren't flipped to third-party investors quickly, the broker can take a disastrous hit.

Soon after the banks entered the brokerage industry, tensions arose between the stuffy chartered bankers and the risk-taking mavericks on the capital markets side. Through the 1990s, the big banks struggled to meld the old with the new. Attempts to make their newly acquired brokerage arms less risky often didn't sit well.

"There's no doubt that people were feeling stifled," says Kevin Muir, a former trader with Dominion Securities and RBC Dominion Securities, who witnessed the transition from the inside. "I saw, firsthand, that clamping down on risk."

The friction emboldened a new generation of entrepreneurs.

Among them was Terry Salman, an ex-U.S. Marine who'd seen combat in Vietnam. Mr. Salman got his start in the financial industry as a research analyst with Nesbitt Thomson in 1973. He stayed loyal to the independent for more than 20 years while taking on increasingly senior roles.

But after Nesbitt was acquired by BMO, he started to get antsy.

"I wanted to go back to something smaller - not bank-owned," Mr. Salman says. "I decided to start my own firm."

In 1994, Salman Partners began building a strong equity research department. Institutional investors paid handsomely for the firm's stock reports and the research helped win lucrative corporate financing business.

"In the early days, we were able to do very well. We had a very, very good business model," Mr. Salman remembers.

Salman was part of a new wave.

The next year, Griffiths McBurney and Partners (now GMP) started up. Its founders - which included Brad Griffiths, Kevin Sullivan and Michael Wekerle - were all hungry, entrepreneurial-minded exiles from independents.

"These were talented individuals. Known salespeople, known traders, known investment bankers and they hit the ground running," says David Fleck, former head of sales and trading at BMO Nesbitt Burns.

Salman, GMP and other independents zeroed in on small- and mid-cap oil and gas and mining exploration companies, a somewhat sleepy sector in the late nineties that the banks - who concentrated on big-cap companies - largely let the independents have to themselves.

That early strategic decision by the boutiques would pay off in a huge way in the years ahead.


"The whole commodity boom changed everything," Mr. Muir says.

In the early 2000s, China's economic coming of age was beginning to fuel unprecedented demand for oil, natural gas, gold and base metals - natural resources in which Canada was teeming.

"Now, all of a sudden, instead of the established companies like Bell or Nortel or CP being the hot stocks, it was actually all those stocks that the banks had been ignoring for so long," Mr. Muir says.

The new guard of independents - GMP, Paradigm Capital, Haywood Securities, Peters & Co., FirstEnergy Capital, Salman Partners, Dundee Securities and many others - were ready and willing to service thousands of upstart resources companies that were looking for funding.

"When you're a mid- or smallcap commodity company, it's access to capital in the form of equity that's crucial because banks don't give you leverage when you're starting a mine. It's too risky," Mr. Fleck says. "The boutiques were perfectly positioned to do bought deals."

One such company was tiny FNX Mining. When founder Terry MacGibbon wanted to raise money to dig for nickel and copper in a couple of abandoned mines in Northern Ontario, he knew he had little chance of securing money from a bank. Dundee Securities, though, was more than willing to take a flyer.

"Dundee did the first seed-capital raise for us at 40 cents in 2001. We raised $1.5-million and that allowed us to expand our very small team," Mr. MacGibbon says.

Through the 2000s, FNX became a multibillion-dollar company with much of its capital coming from independents Dundee and GMP.

The boutiques were also thriving on the trading side of the business. GMP, in particular, was consistently among the most active trading shops on the Street, which helped it win even more investment banking business.

"GMP would go to an investment banking client and say: 'We're trading your stock. We know where your stock is. We should be your lead banker. Forget about these banks because they don't know how your stock trades,' " Mr. Fleck says.

"FNX Mining, they would trade that like crazy. Like water. When FNX decides to do a financing, who are they going to call? Are they going to call BMO? Or are they going to call GMP?" In 2003, GMP launched an initial public offering at $5.50 a share. Canaccord followed the next year. Both expanded internationally.

"They were building these pretty big platforms. These platforms were not much smaller than my platform at BMO. And I'm competing against these guys," Mr. Fleck recalls.

In 2006, GMP's shares peaked at $28. Privately held independents also skyrocketed in value. In 2007, Westwind Partners, which had been set up only five years prior, was sold to U.S. firm Thomas Weisel Partners Group for $147-million (U.S.) - or roughly five times book value. In the same year, Australian investment bank Macquarie Group paid $146.5-million (Canadian) for Orion Financial.

"A lot of the global firms were like, 'This commodity boom is fantastic. We don't know what we're doing. We'd better buy someone,' " Mr. Fleck says.

By the mid-2000s, the independents had become the place to work on Bay Street. Top performers were collecting some of the richest pay packets yet seen in Canadian finance. In 2006, GMP's head trader, Mr. Wekerle, took home roughly $4-million in bonuses alone and held equity worth $90-million. While he was an aberration, there were many boutique traders and investment bankers commanding multimillion-dollar paydays. Their success drove compensation higher across the industry.

"The employee shareholders at good boutiques were not only getting paid very well from the bonus pools, they were also making returns of 50 to 100 per cent on their equity in the firm," says Joe Kan, a Bay Street headhunter.

"The bank-owned dealers essentially needed to 'circle the wagon' around their top producers by paying them well in comparison, so there was less financial incentive to leave and join one of the quality boutiques."

The success fuelled an era of ostentation and indulgence rarely seen before or since. At the time, Mr. Wekerle was zooming around Bay Street in a purple Lamborghini. When the supercar was smashed, he replaced it with an orange one.

"You had these guys that were the most aggressive; the biggest risk takers making the most," says Mr. Muir, the former trader.

"It was an absolutely insane time."

But it wouldn't last.


"Up until 2008 we were doing fine. And then it just started to come off the rails," Mr. Salman says.

The great financial crisis of 2008 hit independents hard.

Commodity prices plunged.

Earnings took a hit. Deal flow and financings slowed. Post-crisis, a new wave of technological and regulatory changes would be ushered in that would permanently alter the business. The competitive landscape was also about to get a lot tougher for boutiques.

Mr. Fricker's "perfect storm" was rolling in.

Post-2008, big banks, battered by the same forces as everyone else, started to compete more aggressively to win investment banking revenue in the smalland mid-cap sectors. Independents who routinely had been the lead bankers in equity underwriting syndicates in energy and mining were suddenly becoming marginalized.

"The syndicates became much more dominated by the bigger players, particularly the banks, and our positions became much, much smaller," Mr. Salman says.

With their gigantic balance sheets, banks could dangle cheap loans to companies - something independents could not offer.

Those loans gave banks a crucial edge over the boutiques.

"If they're lending to a company, then they're also going to be saying to that company: 'We expect to advise you in M&A and underwrite your stock offering,' " says Mr. Fricker, who watched GMP lose reams of corporate financing business to the banks.

Through the latter part of 2009 and into 2010, commodities, particularly gold, entered yet another bull market and business at the boutiques rebounded. But the independents were about to face another test - one they would be powerless to stop.

The trading side of the business - which historically had kept the lights on at the brokerages - was about to be turned upside down.

New regulations mandated portfolio managers execute a trade at the lowest cost; business could no longer be won based on a broker's relationship with a portfolio manager.

"In the old days, you would bring your research analyst in if you thought you had a great idea.

You would pitch the portfolio manager and if the portfolio manager thought the idea had resonance they would be a buyer of the stock and typically they would be a buyer through your trading desk," Mr. Fricker says.

"A portfolio manager no longer dictates who they trade with."

Making matters worse, the rise of electronic trading, or "direct market access" (DMA), gave inhouse traders at asset managers the ability to execute trades at a fraction of the cost of going through a broker. DMA was tailor-made for trading highly liquid stocks.

"DMA certainly is cheaper and it certainly has proliferated," says Diana Avigdor, head of trading at Toronto-based asset manager Barometer Capital Management.

"We are low at Barometer, probably around 20 per cent [usage of DMA]. But I know some large firms are at 50 per cent."

Stocks also became increasingly traded on so-called "dark pools" as opposed to stock exchanges.

Buyers and sellers plug directly into these pools anonymously, cutting the broker out entirely.

The institutional stock trade, a market in which the brokerages had held 100-per-cent share, was being inexorably taken out of their hands. Trading commissions plummeted across the industry.

"Trading has probably been the most devastating thing from the standpoint of a secular change," Mr. Fleck says. "That's permanent."

By the fall of 2012, the great bull run in gold was over and the metals market was in a tailspin. Suddenly, nobody wanted to finance a new mine, and cost cutting became the industry mantra.

Then, in mid-2014, with scads of new supply coming on stream, and Chinese demand waning, the oil market collapsed.

Boutiques that had depended on mining and energy for countless financings were suddenly vulnerable. Between 2013 and mid-2015, a number of wellknown firms went out of business, including Fraser MacKenzie, Byron Capital and EdgeCrest Capital.

By late 2015, Salman Partners - with its 75-per-cent weighting in resources - was under immense strain. The firm was winning almost no investment banking business and its clients, under severe financial pressure themselves, had long since stopped paying for research.

"I needed a few days to clear my head. I went skiing. I just said to myself 'how can I make this work?,' " Mr. Salman says. "I just couldn't come up with any answer."

In December, Mr. Salman made the excruciating decision to wind up his business and laid off his staff of 40. After a 22-year run, it was over.

Today, of the 100 or so independent dealers left in Canada, 50 post annual revenue of $5-million or less - "a magnitude suggesting insufficient scale to operate under existing conditions," according to Investment Industry Association of Canada CEO Ian Russell.

In other words, more shutdowns are inevitable.


Even in the face of this extreme pressure, not all of the independents are in a precarious state.

Mid-tier broker Cormark Securities hasn't had any significant layoffs in the past five years, and none are planned. Cormark is well capitalized and its employees - all of whom own equity - have seen an average annual return on equity of 20 per cent over the past three years.

"Relatively speaking we're doing quite well, but absolutely speaking we're going through tough times just like everyone else," says Scott Lamacraft, Cormark's chief executive officer.

Cormark, like any broker in Canada, has material exposure to commodities, but during the boom years, it invested heavily in other sectors, such as technology and industrials. The firm, which has only two offices in Canada, also resisted the urge to get too big. It's a strategy that cost Cormark during the boom times, but means it is much better insulated now.

"Independents that are doing well are well managed, have managed their costs well, and are firms that have some diversification on the revenue front," says IIAC's Mr. Russell.

"Cormark, FirstEnergy, Peters & Co., Mackie Research, Haywood Securities - it isn't to say those firms haven't had their share of difficulty. But they're doing okay."

Look hard enough and you can find one possible path through the rough for the brokerage industry. In the past few years, a number of new shops have popped up that offer investment banking advice, but do not have the now-expensive-to-run sales and trading desk.

In 2013, ex-Dundee Securities banker Bob Sangha founded Maxit Capital, which specializes in providing M&A advisory work.

In 2014, when three gold companies took a run at Osisko Mining, the big-cap gold company turned to Maxit (and BMO) for financial advice.

In 2015, former GMP investment banker Neil Selfe founded boutique advisory firm, Infor Financial. Among Infor's early mandates was advising Element Financial on an $8.6-billion acquisition. (BMO, Barclays and CIBC were also named as advisers).

"Infor probably had the best return on equity of any firm in our sphere of influence in the country last year," says Cormark's Mr. Lamacraft.

Still, as the full-service independents get smaller, the big banks invariably get bigger. Earlystage companies in search of funding are left with less choice.

It's a scenario that few argue is a good thing for the health of Canadian capital markets.

"Without those guys - not only FNX - a lot of companies would not have been able to raise money," Mr. MacGibbon says. Quadra FNX (formerly FNX Mining) was eventually sold for $2.9-billion in 2012.

"They played - and will again hopefully play - a very important role in the industry."

The independents that do make it likely will be smaller versions of themselves. More boring, less flamboyant, more regimented, less fun. The paycheques, already significantly smaller, may be permanently lower.

"If you think that there's going to be an independent lobbying effort on behalf of the independent broker dealers, that annual convention could be held in a canoe," Mr. Fricker quips.

"That ain't happening. It's all on us, and we earn multiples of what many hard-working Canadians make and that means you've got to step up every day and earn it, and be viable."


Dec. 2015, Salman Partners (voluntary wind-up) Founded in 1994 by Terry Salman, Nesbitt Thomson veteran and former chair of Investment Dealers Association of Canada (IDA). Specialized in commodities sector. Known for strong research team.

Dec. 2015, Jacob Securities (IIROC shutdown) Founded in 2006 by ex-Dundee Securities investment banker Sasha Jacob. Specialized in renewable power sector. Shut down by the regulator after failing to meet minimum capital requirement and compliance violations.

Dec. 2015, Octagon Capital (IIROC shutdown) Founded in 1993. Employed 100 people at peak. Shut down by the regulator after failing to meet minimum capital requirement. Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIFP) bailed out $4.7-million investor shortfall following shutdown.

Aug. 2015, EdgeCrest Capital (voluntary wind-up) Founded in 2013 by investment banker David Beatty. Specialized in mining and energy. In 2007, Mr. Beatty sold his previous boutique, Westwind Partners for $147million (U.S.).

May 2014, Byron Capital (voluntary wind-up) Founded in 2009, it specialized in small caps. Employed 60 people.

Apr. 2013, Fraser MacKenzie (voluntary wind-up) Founded in 2004. Raised about $7-billion for small cap resource companies. Employed 80 people.

March 2013, Loewen, Ondaatje, McCutcheon (relinquished IIROC membership, still exists as exempt market dealer) Founded in 1970, it was the "first independent researchbased institutional equity firm in Canada," according to the firm's website.

Associated Graphic

After a 21-year career at Nesbitt Thomson, Terry Salman - a former U.S. marine - started his own firm when the big banks moved into the brokerage game. Eventually, a severe commodities rout combined with shifts in regulation and technology took a toll.


David Fleck, former head of sales and trading at BMO Nesbitt Burns, has had a front-row seat to the rise and fall of Bay Street's independent brokerages.




A deadly combination of wide loads and shift workers gives this 443-km stretch of road a deservedly bad reputation, Dakshana Bascaramurty reports
Saturday, February 6, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S1

Sometimes it's easy to tell if it's been a successful rescue: The cut and the bruised are talking the whole time they're being loaded into an ambulance. Other times, the silent victims never regain consciousness, maybe never make it alive to the nearest hospital.

Nick Mysko learns of their fate the next day. Too often it's another life lost to an unforgiving patch of pavement, the most notorious stretch of roadway in all of Alberta: Highway 63.

For 443 kilometres, this north-south thoroughfare to Fort McMurray and beyond goes by many names - Suicide 63, the Highway of Death, Hell's Highway. That's often because people speed or try to pass when it's too dangerous. The end results are left for Mr. Mysko and his three co-workers who operate Highway 63 Rescue. Their job is to be first-responders to accidents on 63. They're funded by a provincial grant and expected to be on call 24/7. The statistics show why: From 2008 to 2012, there were 2,457 accidents along the entire route. From 2002 to 2010, 66 people were killed.

The highway's reputation is so bad that some peewee hockey teams in the province refuse to play away games in Fort McMurray. Parents don't want to send their kids up 63.

"It can be a boring drive with nothing much to see," Mr. Mysko says of the highway's ability to lull people into a false feeling of control. "You get a call [from the dispatcher], you go in expecting anything."

The heightened attention on this highway stems from its role. It's not just essential for transporting goods to the oil sands; it has become the main connection to the rest of civilization for Fort McMurray's burgeoning residential population of 73,000.

Passing lanes periodically pop up along the drive down the highway, but it's common for impatient drivers to pass the car in front of them by darting into oncoming traffic, sometimes before cresting over blind hills or turning blind corners. From 2008 to 2012, 130 collisions were head-on.

Many blame the undivided design of the road for these crashes, including one especially devastating accident in 2012 that killed seven people and made national headlines.

(Two pick-up trucks collided head-on when one pulled out to pass a vehicle on a snowy night.)

While some sections of 63 had been expanded to four lanes, the 2012 collision prompted a commitment from the province to twinning the highway from Grassland, in the south, up to Fort McMurray by 2016. It will cost $1.2-billion and is close to being completed.

"There's a sense that Fort McMurray contributes very, very strongly to Alberta's economy and wasn't receiving an equivalent return," Transportation Minister Brian Mason says.

But those who take the highway to work and back say this expensive solution to the problem is no solution at all. The problem isn't just the highway, they say, but the people on it.

Countless Canadian highways are populated with their share of dangerous drivers, but here in northern Alberta, there are a set of conditions that have conspired to make recklessness more common. There are wide transport loads that can clog up the road, a shortage of turn-offs along the way, and the shiftworker lifestyle.

The province says the rate of collisions has been decreasing in recent years, but Mr. Mason is already looking ahead to a new set of issues his government will have to focus on after the highway is twinned.

"I don't want to minimize the impact of what we're doing on road safety, but what we are doing may create the potential for other types of bad-driver behaviour," he says.

Mr. Mysko can attest to the results. No matter how prepared you are physically and emotionally, he says, "seeing a body in a ditch or seeing a family crying, that's hard to forget."

Wide load ahead

Highway 63 is unlike any other in the province, which is why Alberta's transportation ministry cannot say how it compares to others when it comes to collisions. The speed, design and traffic load change abruptly on it when one drives from Edmonton to the Athabasca oil sands.

Some twinned stretches of smoothly paved, divided road have limits of 110 km/h, then transition into two undivided lanes with a limit of 100 km/h, before winding down to 70 km/h through the pothole-riddled asphalt in Fort McMurray.

The highway is one of the starkest examples of infrastructure development failing to match the speed of population and industry growth. Much of Highway 63 looks like a quaint country road, but it has evolved into the main artery connecting the oil sands to the big cities, and is used to move all manner of things north to the Syncrude and Suncor sites.

Drivers who regularly use 63 often have at least one photo on their smartphones of a pre-fabricated bungalow being carted up the road. Others will check one of the many social media accounts devoted to the highway to find out when the super-wide loads are moving through so they can schedule their trips around them.

Those loads can be truly beastly: equipment roughly twice the length of an Olympic-sized swimming pool, or so wide, it spills over both lanes and onto the shoulders of the highway.

Getting stuck behind one for a portion of your journey can turn a four-hour drive into an eighthour one.

After crawling forward for several minutes or even hours, drivers who get the opportunity to pass one of these loads often lay on the gas to make up for lost time. That breeds a misleading sense of invincibility, says Debbie Hammond, the executive director of Coalition for a Safer 63 and feeder roadway 881. The coalition consists of oil companies, local government and a safety authority that has focused on educating drivers as the key to highway safety.

"How many times does this driver, this industry worker, get into his vehicle after shift change, drive at least 20, 30 km/h over the speed limit, pass on double solid [lines], pass on hills, pass on corners, and gets home every time?" Ms. Hammond asks. "In his mind, 'This is never going to happen to me.' "

'Who's the most sober?'

Before Highway 63 Rescue was contracted to offer highway assistance, the volunteer fire department in Wandering River was responsible for road rescues in the area. The department had access to an ambulance four days a week, Thursday to Sunday, and it was no coincidence that most of the oil sands work camps' shift changes happened on those days.

The Globe and Mail talked to many who have a stake in road rescue - towing companies, safety advocates, first responders - and all cited the shift-worker lifestyle as a major factor in the high rate of collisions on Highway 63. At the camps north of Fort McMurray, the Monday-toFriday, 9-to-5 work week is replaced with a range of other rotations: 14 days on and seven off, seven on and seven off, six on and one off. Workdays are often 10 or 12 hours long.

Most work camps are dry, so the end of a rotation has come to be associated with letting loose. Between 2008 and 2012, 5.6 per cent of drivers in fatal collisions had consumed alcohol, and 28.9 per cent were travelling at an unsafe speed.

Ms. Hammond says she's heard about workers who will meet at a gas station after a shift change, fill up their tanks, then set off on Highway 63 as part of a game: First one to Edmonton wins a pot of money.

Since the seven-person fatality in 2012, companies have been staggering shift changes to redistribute the traffic flow, but, in Ms. Hammond's ideal world, all shift workers would be flown in and out of camp between rotations.

"There's a shift change, and a carload of guys are going to go grab a beer and who's the most sober one to drive?" Ms. Hammond says. "I worry about that, because it seems to be pervasive. It seems to be an acceptable norm. I don't know how to tackle that."

'Coffee is always selling'

The first rest stop south of Fort McMurray is in Wandering River, a full two hours away. There was one closer, at the halfway point of Mariana Lake, but it closed years ago and drivers who are regularly on the road say that loss has compromised safety.

Nelia Esperitu, a petite and chipper Filipino woman who manages the Burger King and adjoining Petro Canada in Wandering River, says drivers stop in for all manner of snacks, but, when asked what sells best, she gestures at the plastic dispenser and stack of disposable cups on a counter at one end of the gas station.

"The coffee is always selling good, because they have to wake up, to stay awake for the drive," she says.

The fact that Highway 63 is a long road that cuts through a lot of remote territory isn't just a challenge for drivers trying to stay awake, but also for police trying to crack down on speeding, Mr. Mason says. While enforcement has been significantly beefed up along 63, there are still long sections between where provincial and local police units are stationed. RCMP choppers are occasionally used to bridge these gaps: They observe how long it takes for a vehicle to travel from point A to B, and if it's faster than the speed limit, they radio down for ground patrol to pull over the driver.

But that's still not enough.

Nathan Bergen, a crane operator who lives in Edmonton and drove much of Highway 63 several times a week, believes the only way to change driver behaviour is to increase RCMP presence around the clock, seven days a week, and to take a cue from British Columbia and adopt harsher penalties: If you are caught at 40 km/h or more over the speed limit, your vehicle is taken away from you on the spot.

Mr. Bergen would like to see that happen in Alberta. No more "'we're going to give you a ticket, " he says. "Stop with this Kumbaya."


"You're doing 100 on here, you might as well be doing 50," Rod Tubman says, pinching some tobacco leaves from a metal tin and placing them into the back corner of his mouth. He no longer feels pressure to keep up with the speed demons on the road around him.

Mr. Tubman, who has spent much of his career on Highway 63 moving all manner of goods, grips the knob on his steering wheel to turn left onto the road.

On this April day, he's hauling gravel from the pit near House River, about 100 kilometres south of Fort McMurray, to a spot just a few kilometres down the highway where a bridge is being constructed as part of the twinning project. As he slows to turn his 31-yearold dump truck, three vehicles in a row cross over the double solid yellow line into oncoming traffic to pass him. They're impatient.

Mr. Tubman's driving instincts are flipped when he drives Highway 63: When he slows down for a turn, he pays more attention to his rearview mirror than to oncoming traffic, knowing that many people will try to pass him. He's driven the highway in all conditions. In winter, he builds ice roads and bridges with a tanker truck. In summer, he does a lot of hauling with his dump truck. His black Wranglers have been permanently stiffened and discoloured from road dust.

Even on this short loop he's driving, he points to multiple markers of past collisions out the window: "See that?" He gestures at the thick tire tracks that show a semi veered off the road and into the ditch.

"Look at this," he says, waving a finger in the direction of a 200-foot section of missing guardrail where a truck apparently plowed through. He's personally witnessed vehicles that have made the fatal error of driving on cruise control in the winter: When they hit a patch of ice, they go sailing.

Before he went solo, Mr. Tubman used to manage a group of workers at a camp. He'd make them stay overnight after the end of their rotation, knowing well enough from personal experience not to trust them on the road. "I did not want to be responsible for someone leaving my job and not getting home," he says.


The better calls, the ones they prayed for, would only involve directing traffic until a tow truck arrived. The worse ones required extricating mangled bodies from vehicles. Sometimes there was so much blood, they didn't know what body part they were looking at; other times, they had to put out fires before they could even think about getting within a few feet of a car to pull out the driver. For a stretch, the break room in the Wandering River Fire Hall was wallpapered with photos from crashes, but eventually they became so numerous and grisly that they were taken down.

Before 2012, the first responders on the scene of collisions on the 150-kilometre stretch of Highway 63 - the stretch now handled by the company Highway 63 Rescue - were members of Wandering River's volunteer fire department.

They had joined expecting to put out the occasional forest fire or barn blaze. But as oil sands development spurred growth in the area, the job became almost entirely about responding to Highway 63 collisions.

By 2011, they were receiving 140 calls a year for road rescue and putting their lives at risk in unexpected ways: Rubberneckers snapping photos on their phones, and impatient drivers trying to blow through the scene, nearly mowed down the volunteers trying to direct traffic at the site of a collision.

From a peak of 18 members, volunteers started falling away until they were down to just three in 2010.

When a call came in for a road rescue, the department needed at least six people to tend to the scene.

In desperation, Ron Jackson, the director of emergency services in Athabasca Region (which includes Wandering River), called a public meeting and asked the 75 residents who attended what it would take for them to join the fire department again. Did they want new gear? Compensation?

"Basically, everyone in that room said, 'We'll join the fire department; that's not the issue, but we're not going out on that highway,' " Mr. Jackson said.


Sergeant Julie Murphy is heading southbound on Highway 63, eyeing the vehicles on the other side of the ditch, which are travelling north.

From a distance, they may not be able to recognize her black SUV as a police vehicle, but some are reducing their speed as they pass her, like kids running through the hall who slow down in front of the principal's office. She presses the button on her trickedout dashboard that turns off her radar, on a hunch that some of these vehicles are equipped with radar detectors.

Policing speed has already become a bigger part of her job in recent years, as new portions of the highway have opened, and she believes it will only get worse when the twinning project is complete.

One day, when construction was still underway on a stretch of the highway north of Fort McMurray near the oil sands, Sgt. Murphy pulled over two drivers who appeared to be racing. The posted limit was 50 kilometres an hour; they were clocked at 190. On a spring enforcement blitz, the force gave out 12,000 tickets to drivers on Highway 63 on the 288-kilometre stretch between Wood Buffalo and Boyle, most of them for speeding.

While the sharp drop in the price of oil has challenged the stereotype of the oil sands worker making more money than he knows what to do with, tickets often don't seem to be much of a deterrent to speeding.

An occasional sight along Highway 63, especially in the winter, are abandoned cars in the ditch.

After a collision, a temporary worker who might not have insurance for his car will just leave it behind instead of shelling out his own money to get it hauled a long distance by a towing company.

Sgt. Murphy once pulled over a car that was heading north to a work camp. "Why are you speeding going to camp?" she asked the two men in the vehicle.

"The Roughriders [football] game is starting," they explained.

Associated Graphic

Highway 63 is the main connection to the rest of civilization for Fort McMurray's burgeoning population of 73,000.


Emergency medical technicians Edward Grainger, left, and Greg Merservia respond to a truck driver in distress.



Drama queens
A teenage girl is a force of nature, with emotions so powerful they shock even her. In this exclusive excerpt, psychotherapist Lisa Damour uses neuroscience to help parents - and anyone perplexed by teenage girls - understand what's really going on in their heads
Friday, February 5, 2016 – Print Edition, Page L1

When I was in my first semester of graduate school, the professor teaching my psychological testing course handed me a stack of Rorschach inkblot tests to score. Before sending me on my way, he offhandedly said, "Double-check the age of the person whose test you are scoring. If it's a teenager, but you think it's a grown-up, you'll conclude that you have a psychotic adult. But that's just a normal teenager."

Twenty years later, I don't need to score inkblot tests to know that healthy teenage development can look pretty irrational. Parents tell me about it every day. They describe how a minor annoyance - such as when a girl finds out that the jeans she wants are still riding out the rinse cycle - can turn into an emotional earthquake that knocks everyone in the house off balance.

The sudden force of a teenager's feelings can catch parents off guard because, between the ages of six and 11, children go through a phase of development that psychologists call latency. As the term implies, the mercurial moods of early childhood simmer down and girls are pretty easygoing until they become teenagers and their emotions kick up again.

Recent developments in brain science offer new insight into why latency ends when it does. Though we used to assume that the brain stopped developing somewhere around age 12, we now know that the brain remodels dramatically during the teenage years.

The renovation project follows the pattern in which the brain grew in the womb. It starts with the lower, primal portions (the limbic system) then moves to the upper, outer areas (the cortex), where the functions that separate humans from other animals live.

Updates to the limbic system heighten the brain's emotional reactions with research indicating that the feeling centres beneath the cortex are actually more sensitive in teens than in children or adults. For example, one straightforward study used functional magnetic resonance imaging to watch teenage brains respond, in real time, to emotional input. The research team showed images of fearful, happy and calm faces to children, teens and adults while monitoring the activity of the amygdala, a key player in the emotional reactions of the limbic system. Compared to the brain activity of children and adults, the teens' amygdalas reacted strongly to fearful or happy faces. In other words, emotional input rings like a gong for teenagers and a chime for everyone else.

With the lower-to-higher remodelling of the brain, the frontal cortex - the part of the brain that exerts a calming, rational influence - doesn't come fully online until adulthood.

This means that limbic system reactions outstrip frontal cortex controls.

Put simply, intense emotions burst through and introduce you, and your daughter, to a new period of emotional upheaval.

Adults often tell teens that their feelings are at full blast because of "hormones." This usually doesn't go over very well, plus it's probably inaccurate. Despite the obvious coincidence between the beginnings of puberty - with its acne, growth spurts, and dawning smelliness - and the intensification of your daughter's emotions, research suggests that the impact of pubertal hormones on teenagers' moods is indirect, at best.

In fact, studies find that hormones respond to, or may even be trumped by, other factors that influence your daughter's mood, such as stressful events or the quality of her relationship with you.

In other words, the changes in your daughter's brain and the events that occur around her are more likely to shape her mood than the hormonal shifts occurring inside of her.

Here's the bottom line: What your daughter broadcasts matches what she actually experiences. Really, it's just that intense, so take her feelings seriously, regardless of how overblown they might seem. Parents who are surprised by their daughter's dramatic ups and downs can lose sight of the fact that she is pretty shocked, too.

So if your teenage daughter is developing normally, you are living with someone who secretly worries that she is crazy and who might have the psychological assessment results of a psychotic adult. And we might as well add that you are living with a girl whose key support system - her tribe - consists of peers who are also as reactive and erratic as they will ever be.

Your daughter works hard every day to harness powerful and unpredictable emotions so that she can get on with doing everything else she means to do.

To manage all of that intensity and to keep from feeling crazy, she'll recruit your help. Depending on the moment, she might ask for your support directly, she might unload her feelings on you or she might find a way for you to have a feeling on her behalf.

Sometimes you'll recognize the role you are being asked to play, other times you'll only appreciate your part in retrospect, if at all. Understanding your daughter's efforts to harness emotions will allow you to maintain your sanity while you're busy helping her feel confident in her own.

Teenagers often manage their feelings by dumping the uncomfortable ones on their parents, so don't be surprised if you find that the arrival of adolescence comes with a surge in complaining. No parents enjoy listening to their daughter's endless stream of complaints, but it's a lot easier to stand if we appreciate that her griping serves a valuable purpose.

Complaining to you allows your daughter to bring the best of herself to school. Instead of being rude or aggressive toward peers or teachers at school, your daughter contains her irritation and waits until she is safely in your company to express it.

If she can hold it together all day at school, you might wonder why your daughter can't hold it together a little bit longer so that she can also be pleasant with you. As it turns out, willpower is a limited resource. By the time they get to the end of the day, there's just no energy left to contain their annoyance, and the complaining begins.

Girls who get a chance to talk about the abundant frustrations of their day usually feel better once they've unloaded their distress on you. Any adult who has spent dinnertime grumbling about a co-worker, neighbour, or boss understands that sharing one's true feelings at home makes it a lot easier to be charming out in public. Teenagers are no different. Having used you as their emotional dumping ground, they are prepared to return to school and play the part of the good citizen.

Indeed, they may be able to act as a good citizen at school precisely because they are spending some of their time imagining the colourful complaints they will share once their school day has ended.

When your daughter complains, listen quietly and remind yourself that you are providing her with a way to unload the stress of her day. Many parents find that they want to do something as they listen to their daughter's distress - to offer advice, point out their daughter's misconceptions, make a plan to address her troubles, and so on. Do not feel pressed to solve your daughter's problems; you've probably tried and already found that she routinely rejects your suggestions, even the especially brilliant ones.

If you really want to help your daughter manage her distress, help her see the difference between complaining and venting.

Complaining generally communicates a sense that "someone should fix this," while venting communicates that "I'll feel better when someone who cares about me hears me out."

Most of what teens complain about can't be fixed. No magic wand can make her peers, teachers, coaches, locker location, or homework any less irritating.

Better for her to do a little less complaining about such realities and a little more venting. In doing so, she moves away from the childlike idea that the world should bend to her wishes to the adult idea that life comes with many unavoidable bumps.

How do you get her to do this?

When she starts rolling out the complaints, consider asking, "Do you want my help with what you're describing, or do you just need to vent?" If she wants your help, she'll tell you. Even better, she might take your advice having actually asked for it.

If she wants to vent, she'll tell you and you can sit back and know that just by listening you are offering meaningful support.

More important, she'll start to learn that sometimes, just by listening, you are providing all the help she needs. Your daughter may be suspicious of your motives the first time you offer her the opportunity for unbridled venting. If she has grown used to getting (and, of course, reflexively rejecting) your advice when she complains, she may wonder what you're up to. But stick with it and be clear that you believe in the healing powers of "just venting." Soon, she'll come around. Don't expect that venting will - or should - fully replace complaining. But do take advantage of opportunities to help your daughter distinguish between problems that can and should be solved and problems that are best addressed by sharing them with someone who cares.

If the content of your daughter's venting strikes you as totally unfair and you feel compelled to weigh in, consider saying, "I have a different take on the situation. Do you want to hear it?" Should she say yes, carry on.

Should she say no, bite your tongue and find comfort in the knowledge that your daughter is now aware that she shouldn't mistake your silence for a tacit endorsement of her views.

Congratulate yourself when you can get your daughter to advance to venting, because there will be times when you won't even be able to get how she expresses her displeasure up to the level of complaining (much less venting). These are the days when she simply takes out her annoyance on anyone in her path - a particularly unpleasant, and common, form of using you (your other children, or the family dog) as an emotional dumping ground. If your daughter feels that she must punish your family for her bad day, you might let one or two cutting comments pass. But, if it becomes clear that she plans to be wretched all evening, go ahead and say, "You may not be in a good mood, but you are not allowed to mistreat us. If you want to talk about what's bugging you, I'm all ears. If you're going to be salty all night, don't do it here."

Externalization is a technical term describing how teenagers sometimes manage their feelings by getting their parents to have their feelings instead. In other words, they toss you an emotional hot potato.

Your adolescent daughter doesn't wake up one day and say to herself, "I think I'll start handing off my uncomfortable feelings to my parents." The decision to use externalization for emotional relief occurs outside her conscious awareness. Unconscious processes can be powerful. If we could hold up a microphone to your daughter's unconscious mind, it would say, "You know, I've had a long day of being upset about this poor grade I just got back - the whole thing has become exhausting. I don't have a solution to the problem, but I need a break from being upset. I'll leave the test where Dad will surely find it so that he can be upset about it.

Now, he might try to get me to remain upset about this grade, so I'll tell him he's overreacting and walk away - that should keep the upset feeling in his lap and out of mine for a while."

Externalization happens when your daughter wants to get rid of an uncomfortable feeling.

And not just anyone will take on her uncomfortable feeling; it has to be someone who really loves her. Externalization is a profound form of empathy.

It goes beyond feeling with your daughter to the point of actually feeling something on her behalf. When teens complain, they own their discomfort, will often accept your empathy, and may even allow you to help them address the source of their misery. When they externalize, they want you to accept ownership of the offending feeling and will prevent you from giving it back.

It's the difference between "Mom, I want to tell you how uncomfortable this very hot potato I'm holding is and see if you've got any good ideas for how I might manage it" and "Mom, take this hot potato, I don't want to hold it any more.

And hang on to it for a while."

Externalization is a strange and subtle process that helps make adolescence manageable - for your daughter. Teenagers spend the better part of their time with peers who are also trying to harness their emotions and may not be able to offer useful support.

Put another way, how do you get your best friend to take your hot potato if she can barely manage the potatoes she's already got?

When teenagers feel overwhelmed by their feelings and need to do something, they find a loving parent and start handing out potatoes. Lucky for your girl, but not so lucky for you.

Parents on the receiving end of an externalization often don't know what hit them.

For the most part, there's not much that you can do about externalizations. You will rarely, if ever, be able to identify an externalization at the moment it occurs. And talking with your daughter about her behaviour won't prevent her from doing it.

Teens don't consciously decide to externalize, so they can't consciously decide not to. The process unfolds as rapidly for her as it does for you.

Even if you could talk your daughter into taking responsibility for all of her difficult feelings all of the time, would you want to? Your willingness to hold your daughter's emotional hot potatoes from time to time is a thankless and charitable act, but it will help her get through some of the roughest patches of her adolescence. Given the opportunity to unload their discomfort, most teens will gather their resources and work through what went wrong, or discover, with the benefit of time, that the problem comes down to size on its own.

If you find yourself compelled into radical action after a brief but painful encounter with your daughter, I've got two words for you: do nothing. Though a teenager will experience her fight with a friend as a full-blown crisis, it's our job as adults to remember that it's not.

Talking with a trustworthy adult about what's happening with your teenager is usually the perfect salve to the discomfort of being on the receiving end of an externalization. By sharing the situation with someone who isn't holding an emotional hot potato, most parents start to see things more clearly and to regain an adult perspective on the problem. Sometimes another adult isn't available or the content of the externalization feels too sensitive to be shared. Under these conditions - and absent pressing safety concerns - wait at least a day before taking any action. Waiting gives the hot potato time to cool and gives you and your daughter time to craft a rational plan.

And you'd be surprised by how rarely a plan even needs to be made once some time has passed.

From the book Untangled by Lisa Damour, Ph.D. Copyright © 2016 by Lisa Damour. Reprinted by arrangement with Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All Rights Reserved.


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Associated Graphic


Teenage girls turn their parents into emotional dumping grounds as a coping mechanism for stress and irritation.

From its beginning a half-century ago, Whistler-Blackcomb has been a place of innovation. The size of the mountains and the volume of snow that steadily falls draws the best skiers and snowboarders - and became essential to the development of both sports. The region's reputation in winter sports has surged, but there's a cloud in the otherwise sunny future - climate change
Saturday, January 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S1

WHISTLER, B.C. -- It's 8 a.m. on a Friday, and the Wizard chairlift is not yet open. But some 20 centimetres of fresh snow have fallen overnight, and 100-plus eager people are already in line at the base of Blackcomb mountain - all of the skiers wearing twin-tipped skis, where both the front and back tips curl upward.

The skis were invented at Whistler Blackcomb in the late 1990s, by a group led by Mike Douglas, JF Cusson and the late JP Auclair. Skiing had lost its edge, and twin-tip skis revolutionized the sport. Later in the morning, higher up the mountain, Douglas rides a chairlift and points over to the old halfpipe where he and his friends imagined skiing's future: emulating snowboarders, pulling off new tricks, taking off and landing backward - the genius of the new twin-tips. At the time, there was a sign at the top of the pipe that read: "Snowboarders only."

"Skiers weren't supposed to be in there," says Douglas, 46, a pro skier and ski filmmaker. "I never really felt like an inventor. A lot of people said, 'Why didn't you patent it? You'd be rich.' I didn't really care about being rich. The goal wasn't to make money. The goal was to make skiing cool again."

From its beginning a half-century ago - Whistler opened on Jan. 15, 1966 - this has been a place of innovation. The size of the mountains and the volume of snow that steadily falls drew the best skiers - and eventually snowboarders - and became essential to the development of both sports. Some of the earliest helicopter skiing and avalanche safety began at Whistler, just 120 kilometres north of Vancouver. And as the business grew - Blackcomb and Whistler Village opened in 1980 - the region's role in winter sports began to surge, as did its fame.

The sprawling backcountry is a favoured setting for movies and magazines, and Blackcomb's Horstman Glacier, in summers, serves as an incubator of Olympic medalists. Whistler's village and slopes proved a spectacular setting for the 2010 Olympics.

Whistler is facing the same ongoing scourge of ski areas worldwide: climate change. But the resort remains on a short list of global go-to spots, alongside Hokkaido, the north island of Japan, and the best of the European Alps, says Pat Bridges, creative director at Snowboarder magazine.

"It ranks right around there, at No. 1," says Scott Gaffney, director at American ski filmmaker Matchstick Productions. Gaffney first came to film Douglas and friends in the late 1990s. Their work "did a lot for Whistler, in terms of blowing it up as an epicentre," he says. "Everyone knew of the terrain. They really created this core of 'things are changing in the sport - and this is where it's changing.' " .

'Adrenalin junkies' The Whistler valley had for centuries been a primary route for First Nations to traverse the dense Coast Mountains to reach the Pacific Ocean from the British Columbia interior.

In 1914, the railway came through, to connect the mining and timber resources of the interior with the port at Squamish, 60 kilometres south of Whistler. The same year, a fishing lodge was opened on Alta Lake in the Whistler area. For all its proximity to Vancouver, Whistler was isolated: Until the late 1950s, there was no road at all from Vancouver to Squamish. The journey was made by ship.

The Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, Calif., in 1960 inspired a group of Vancouver businessmen, led by Franz Wilhelmsen, to search for similar potential in the Coast Mountains. They found it at Whistler. The Olympic dream was quixotic, given how raw and remote Whistler was, but six years later, after struggling to raise financing, Whistler Mountain opened. There was a four-person gondola, one chairlift, two T-bars and six runs.

Whistler was a quick hit. The business made money the first winter and long lines became the norm. Big names in skiing soon arrived. Jim McConkey, a pioneering skier in movies, renowned for his powder skiing, came in 1968 to open the ski school and rental shop. He was host to many adventurers, including then prime minister Pierre Trudeau.

"He wasn't a real fast skier," McConkey says, "but you could take him just about anywhere."

Toni Sailer, the Austrian legend who won all three skiing gold medals at the 1956 Olympics, opened up a summer ski camp on the glacier atop Whistler. Among Sailer's staff was Nancy Greene, the Canadian who dominated women's skiing in the late 1960s.

Her husband, Al Raine, was later central in the creation of Whistler Village.

"When I first came here," Sailer said in 1981, "there were bears walking around on the road.

There was only a gravel road."

Once Blackcomb and the new village opened in 1980, the modern resort - and global winter sports hub - began to take shape.

A parade of snowboard pros, early icons such as Craig Kelly and Terje Haakonsen, came in the summers for the halfpipes and jumps on Blackcomb's Horstman Glacier. Around the same time, the influential ski filmmaker Greg Stump brought the likes of mohawked Glen Plake to film a movie. They hadn't seen anything like it outside the biggest mountains in the Alps in Chamonix, France.

"The thing that blew me away was it was North America and it was big, it was huge," Stump says.

For Marie-France Roy, Whistler was a beacon. She had grown up in a small town in the Charlevoix region northeast of Quebec City and had snowboarded at Le Massif since she was 11. When she was 18, she and her boyfriend drove across Canada to Whistler for a summer. "We were so broke," Roy says. "We were living in my car."

She worked as a housekeeper that summer and only snowboarded once - but she resolved to return. After college, in the early 2000s, she moved for good.

Today, at 31, she has recently been named women's rider of the year by two top snowboard magazines.

Roy is among an influx of pros who have made Whistler home and turned the "Whistler backcountry" into a two-word staple of magazine covers and photos, and ski and snowboard films - the surrounding backcountry is full of prized locations, often accessed by snowmobile.

It was here pros pushed the boundaries of their sports. On Roy's second trip into the backcountry, there was a harrowing moment when she and her guide, on a snowmobile together, blasted up a slope in bad visibility to reach a shooting location. They were bucked off. The snowmobile tumbled backward and the guide leaped to stop its fall, preventing it from tumbling off a cliff below.

They got back on and kept going.

"We're all adrenalin junkies," Roy says.

This is the milieu in which Kye Petersen grew up - the training ground that propelled him into the top ranks of skiing.

Kye is the son of Trevor Petersen, who, along with his ski mountaineer partner Eric Pehota, made his name in the 1980s and 1990s on the most extreme lines around Whistler and beyond. Trevor died in an avalanche in Chamonix in 1996, when Kye was six.

Several years later, after twin-tip skis emerged, Kye dedicated himself to the sport. The timing was ideal. On Blackcomb, Kye tagged along with older skiers such as Mark Abma, a pro, and a group called 604 Jib Culture, in the jump park.

Beyond the boundaries, he followed the path of his father. At 12, on his first day with backcountry gear, he skied a line his father and Pehota pioneered in the 1980s, D.O.A. It stands for Down Over and Around - the directions to access the line outside the boundary from the Blackcomb lifts.

"Dead on Arrival" seems equally apt for the couloir, a steep ribbon of snow walled in by rock; at the top, it's barely wider than a ski's length. D.O.A. is a rite of passage for the best at Whistler - and helped school young Kye.

Now 26, Petersen is a veteran of ski films, including starring in the work of innovative local company Sherpas Cinema. Outside Magazine has called Petersen "perhaps the best skier of his generation."

"It sparked it all for me," says Petersen of Whistler.

He likens the region for skiing to the North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii, the celebrated surfing destination. "There's so many lines off all these mountains that are only a quick hike off the lifts," he says. "Having all that, it's such a playground that it got me going." A challenging half-century The Horstman Glacier is melting.

Near the top of Blackcomb, at about 2,250 metres above sea level, the 7,000-year-old glacier has lost half its volume in the past century. The pace has accelerated in the past 15 years. It forces changes: One T-bar has been moved 60 metres to the right of its previous location because of the receding glacier. The final pitch of the other T-bar started to become unduly steep. Snowmaking equipment has been installed to mitigate the changes and protect the melting ice.

"We were definitely in trouble last summer," John Smart says.

"It's changed substantially. The melt is pretty bad. We're one of the few trying to save a glacier."

Smart is a former Olympics mogul skier for Canada who started the annual Momentum summer ski camps in 1992, following Ken Achenbach's Camp of Champions for snowboarders that started in 1988.

Smart's idea was to employ his teammates, Canada's best moguls skiers, as teachers. The tradition continued through the years. The likes of the late halfpipe skier Sarah Burke, winner of four gold medals at X Games, and two-time Olympic gold medal moguls skier Alex Bilodeau attended Momentum camps as teenagers - and later, as successful pros, returned to coach.

Bilodeau was among the winners of gold at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, alongside two other former Momentum campers, Canadian Dara Howell in women's ski slopestyle and American Joss Christensen in men's ski slopestyle. Snowboarder Mark McMorris, who won slopestyle bronze, was among the athletes who trained at Camp of Champions and made the podium at the 2014 Games.

The fate of the Horstman is the latest in a series of trials that go back to the beginning.

In the mid-1960s, the founders were about a third short of the $800,000 they needed to open for business. An investment at the last moment from Montreal's Power Corp. filled the gap. When Blackcomb and the village opened in 1980, the expansion ran headlong into a recession and double-digit interest rates.

The run toward the 2010 Olympics was hit by another economic shock, the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. Joe Houssian, the Vancouver entrepreneur who turned Whistler Blackcomb into a formidable business, sold it in 2006 to a New York hedge fund, Fortress Investment Group. The deal was heavily financed by debt, and the financial crisis battered the investment.

Fortress fought lenders who had threatened to auction off Whistler Blackcomb during the 2010 Olympics. The Games were a success, but Fortress thereafter lost control of the resort and it was established as its own entity.

The company has fared well since. Its stock has nearly doubled. The business is focused on the winter but has been bolstered by year-round operations. The number of skier visits has slid in recent years, but other visitors - summer sightseers, hikers and downhill mountain bikers - have increased. In 2014-15, only threequarters of the total were skiers and snowboarders.

Climate change is the current challenge - the future of the glacier, and skiing, is in jeopardy.

Whistler Blackcomb has undertaken remediation efforts. One is a renewable energy project on Fitzsimmons Creek, between the two mountains, opened in partnership with several companies in 2010. It can produce the same amount of electricity used by the resort in a year.

In the company's 2015 annual information form, a regulatory document that includes an assessment of business risks, Whistler Blackcomb flagged the spectre of climate change, but the long-term picture is unclear.

"The company is unable to quantify" the potential financial impact, the filing said - but it noted it could be significant.

Hugh Smythe has seen Whistler through its half-century history.

When it opened, he was an 18year-old volunteer ski patroller, driving up on weekends from Vancouver. The place was rudimentary and rugged. He slept in the cafeteria. He was hired the next winter. Later, as an executive, Smythe helped start Blackcomb and then was president of the combined resort, as it became a global destination.

Even as winters remain the heart of Whistler, they have become more difficult. Not much snow fell last winter. This season has been better, with six metres of snow falling so far, but it's still a bit below average compared with the past decade.

Summer has been an essential addition, Smythe says, and again sets Whistler apart.

"There's been ups and downs of the economy through all the years, but it's definitely the busiest mountain resort community on a year-round basis," he says.

"There's nobody else that comes close."

Associated Graphic

In the late 1990s, a group of skiers led by Mike Douglas, seen here at Whistler last month, pushed what you could do on skis but were hindered by antiquated equipment. They then persuaded sports equipment manufacturer Salomon to make a new kind of ski.


Backcountry enthusiast Marie-France Roy, recently named women's rider of the year by two snowboard magazines, first visited Whistler when she was 18. She later moved there permanently.

Franz Wilhelmsen, who led the drive to create a ski resort in the Coast Mountains, stands on a peak across the valley from Whistler and gestures to his newly opened ski hill in 1966.


Gallerist was 'kingpin' of Canadian art
He championed the likes of Michael Snow, William Kurelek and Joyce Wieland and eventually shifted to Inuit artists
Wednesday, February 3, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S6

Origin stories, be they humble or the stuff of myth, often are fuzzy in the details.

Take the Isaacs Gallery in Toronto, defunct essentially since 2001, but during its 1960s heyday, perhaps the leading showcase for contemporary Canadian art in the country, certainly in Toronto, and a prime sower of the modern-ist ethos. Its founder, Avrom Isaacs, died at the age of 89 of congestive heart failure in Toronto on Jan. 15.

The historical record shows that what would become The Isaacs was spawned circa mid-1949 when two University of Toronto pals, Isaacs (né Isaacovitch) and Al Latner, rented a small shop in the downtown Toronto district known as The Ward, the city's first immigrant neighbourhood and, in parts, its wannabe Greenwich Village.

There the duo set up a pictureframing/art-supply business, the Greenwich Art Shop, operating it mostly part-time initially. The plan - or perhaps more accurately, the hope - was to build a clientele from among the artists with studios in the neighbourhood and the students attending the nearby Ontario College of Art (OCA). By mid-1950, the art shop was a solo operation, helmed by the bushy-browed, burly-framed Mr. Isaacs. He was 24 and had just earned a BA in political science and economics.

You could say he was looking for some direction. Born March 19, 1926, in Winnipeg, young Avrom once thought he might work for his father, Isaac, who had a wholesale dry goods business. Then he thought he might be a mechanical engineer, then a veterinarian. He liked animals; he'd worked in an animal clinic.

But it was the art thing that took hold, even as he acknowledged he knew little-to-nothing about it; he hadn't taken a single visual arts course. Still, he was avid, open-hearted and curious. Word soon spread that the Greenwich Art Shop was the place for good framing done at reasonable cost.

Artists, proto-Beats and students began to hang out. If you didn't have a permanent address, you could use the shop as a maildrop. If you were looking for a job as, say, a set painter for CBCTV, and didn't have a home phone, you could leave Mr. Isaacs's number with the prospective employer. It was a community hub of sorts, a scene.

Somewhere in there, too, someone got the idea that Mr. Isaacs should show original art on his premises and in the windows. "At that time, the galleries in Toronto were ... well, the only expression I can use is 'mouldy fig,' " explained the artist and scenographer Murray Laufer recently.

"Yes, there were contemporary artists, but there wasn't really any place they could call home."

Maybe it was Mr. Isaacs himself who had the idea. No one knows for sure. Michael Snow, who would graduate from the OCA in 1952, believes it was their mutual pal, painter Graham Coughtry, who "first suggested that or did that. Av didn't have the intention of becoming a gallery," Mr. Snow said recently. "It's just that certain artists suggested - and I think Graham started it actually - that he hang things and, when he sold some, that sort of decided him to go a little farther."

Avrom Isaacs, of course, eventually took it a lot farther. Today, merely listing the names of some of the artists who came to be collared and corralled in his stable - Snow and Coughtry, William Kurelek, Joyce Wieland, Dennis Burton, Gordon Rayner, Jack Chambers, Greg Curnoe, Gathie Falk - is sufficient to conjure a swirling collage of images, styles and movements, a charged atmosphere in which everything seemed doable and anything seemed possible (including international fame). Even today the mind boggles, for instance, at Mr. Isaacs's decision in spring 1968 to pay for two of the most influential artists of the 20th century, Marcel Duchamp and John Cage, to play five hours of ... chess at Toronto's Ryerson Polytechnic Institute (now Ryerson University)! This was part of the Isaacs Gallery Mixed Media Concerts series, started in 1965 to promote such then-nascent developments as performance and intermedia art.

Mr. Isaacs at first mounted no formal exhibitions in his Ward shop, keeping the framing-andsupply business front and centre.

When a 21-year-old Mr. Coughtry graduated in 1953 from the OCA (now the Ontario College of Art and Design University), he invited Mr. Isaacs to share an apartment - an arrangement that lasted until mid-1955. Later, Mr. Isaacs would characterize the experience as his "post-graduate degree in the arts." In July of that year, Isaacs decided to shutter the shop temporarily to take a six-week solo tour of art museums in the U.K. and Europe.

Returning, he announced his intention to close the shop and establish an actual gallery in larger premises nearby. In a 1988 interview, Mr. Issacs claimed it was Mr. Snow and Mr. Coughtry who "talked him" into opening a gallery because, they said, "there was no place in the city to show [their] pictures."

Whatever the raison d'être, Mr. Isaacs did find a new space by the end of 1955, naming it the Greenwich Gallery. It opened in February, 1956, with a group show of works by five painters, among them Mr. Coughtry, Mr. Snow and William Ronald, the last one of the founders of the famous group of abstractionists Painters Eleven.

The custom-framing part of the business, where the real money was made, moved to the rear of the gallery.

Mr. Isaacs kept moving forward from there. In 1957, he married the actress Norma Renault, with whom he had one child, a daughter, Renann, in 1964. The gallery continued at its Ward location for almost six years, renamed The Isaacs in fall 1959 before relocating in spring 1961 to a customdesigned space on Yonge Street, just north of Bloor on the eastern edge of Yorkville. It's this incarnation, spacious, with white walls and a cedar ceiling, that most people think of when they think of the Isaacs Gallery. Mr. Isaacs, in fact, would stay there for 25 years, turning a show pretty much every three weeks. It also became a venue for concerts and readings, rallies and lectures. Said Isaacs in 1986: "I had terrific artists and I was a kingpin." Said a former colleague: "Just as everybody goes to Rick's in Casablanca, everybody went to Av's on Yonge."

Friends and associates today are quick to applaud the Isaacs "eye." Observed Mr. Laufer: "I think he also had something like intuition, something that wasn't just a matter of seeing, but of getting a feeling of something." Mr. Isaacs never subscribed to a particular aesthetic, except perhaps "the desire to be engaged," said Martha Black, now curator of ethnology at the Royal B.C. Museum but formerly assistant director/ curator at the Isaacs. "He liked dramatic work, emotional work."

In one interview in the 1980s, Mr. Isaacs confessed to being "totally insecure" for pretty much his first decade as a dealer. "I went with what I felt was good, but I didn't know if I was on the right track." Indeed, when Mr. Kurelek, whom Mr. Isaacs first hired as a picture-framer, came to paint Mr. Isaacs's portrait in 1964, he called it The Seeker.

Michael Snow: "Av would ask questions, but he was never very obvious about it. He'd find out opinions, but he wouldn't just blatantly say what he thought. ... He wasn't pushy. When you were having a show, at least in my case, I showed what I wanted and we worked on the installation together. He didn't say in any way, 'We don't like that.' We did talk about what was in the shows because he, of course, wanted to know as much as he could. But he didn't have a pro or con opinion; it was simply learning, being able to pass that on to other onlookers."

Over time, Mr. Isaacs did become more confident, developing, according to Joan Murray in her 1996 memoir Confessions of a Curator, a particular admiration for Ambroise Vollard, the French dealer, an early champion of Cézanne and Picasso. "Like [Vollard]," Ms. Murray writes, "he wanted to be a tastemaker."

Ms. Black said someone she knew once described Mr. Isaacs as "deceptively benign." He was, she observed, "a pretty steely guy, very determined, very competitive," who could be gruff. He was unafraid to dismiss a bad idea with a blunt "What crap," and a supposed hurt with a "Get over it." At the same time, "he came across as very accessible to people. They all felt they knew him. They didn't call him Mr. Isaacs very often, even Avrom; it was Av. But for all the approachability, he was sort of a deep guy."

Sculptor/installation artist Mark Prent, who joined the Isaacs shortly after graduation in 1970 from what is now Montreal's Concordia University, recalled Mr. Isaacs's kindness and generosity - and his willingness to fight for his artists. Mr. Prent's hyper-realistic polyester resin renderings of the naked human form in extremis are not to everyone's taste, to put it mildly. Even Mr. Isaacs reportedly "turned away" on his first encounter, only to warm to the work when it continued to haunt him after the intitial shock.

"Other artists could set up at Av's in a day or in a few hours," Mr. Prent said in a phone interview. "I needed several days, three, four, because of the lights and sounds and sets I used. So the gallery had to be basically closed for us. Av would pay for the transportation from Montreal to the gallery. He put us up at a hotel. He gave us the key to the gallery. We'd work until 2 in the morning, go to the hotel to sleep, then come back a few hours later.

Av would bring us coffee. He'd take us to some 24-hour sandwich place. ... He looked after us almost like we were his children."

Mr. Isaacs was there, too, in 1972 and 1974, when Toronto police, citing a little-known statute banning the public display of "disgusting objects," threatened to shut down a Prent show in each of those years. It was Mr. Isaacs who kept the gallery open, hired the necessary legal help, and ensured that Mr. Prent's legal costs were covered after the case went to the Supreme Court.

The omnivorous Issacs eye eventually fastened on Inuit art.

After hosting two Inuit-themed shows at the gallery in the late 1960s and making the first of what would be almost a dozen trips to the high Arctic, the dealer established in June, 1970, a standalone space dedicated to its sale.

Called the Innuit Gallery, it was among the first private commercial outlets in the country devoted to serious Inuit art. From that point, the fate of his main gallery was inextricably linked to that of the Inuit showcase, the success of the latter in effect subsidizing the operations of the former.

Faced with a mammoth rent increase in 1986, Mr. Isaacs shuttered his much-loved Yonge Street perch on Halloween and, early the next year, opened a new space just south of the Art Gallery of Ontario. That gallery functioned until 1991, when Isaacs declared he was officially getting out of contemporary art to concentrate on Inuit art. In the meantime, Mr. Isaacs had divorced and now was deeply involved with TV producer Donnalu Wigmore, who would remain his "partner in everything" until his death.

In 1992, he received an honorary doctorate from York University and was named a member of the Order of Canada.

By spring 2001, however, quadruple bypass surgery and two knee replacements helped him decide to quit the art business.

"I'm 75, for Christ's sake," he told The Globe and Mail at the time.

"I've done the same thing for 50 years. I'm starting to bore myself.

I want to see if I can find out who the hell Av Isaacs is."

Daughter Renann, 51, in the meantime, continues the tradition, running an eponymous commercial contemporary art gallery she opened in 2010 in Guelph, west of Toronto. She credits 12 years spent "doing everything" at her father's Inuit gallery for "giving me a real sense of what it takes to run a gallery."

Mr. Isaacs leaves his wife, Ms. Wigmore; his daughter, Renann; and his brother, Nathan. He was predeceased by his sisters, Evelyn and Sadie, and his first wife, the former Norma Renault.

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Associated Graphic

At the Isaacs Gallery in Toronto, Avrom Isaacs, pictured in 1978, hosted concerts, readings, lectures and rallies.


Mr. Isaacs, in 1960, stands in front of Tight Like That by Gordon Rayner; his hand rests on Oracle by Robert Hedrick.


When a bomb demolished the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City in 1995, Charles Porter, a banker working nearby, grabbed his camera. He speaks with Anthony Feinstein about how his Pulitzer Prize-winning images from that day changed his life - for a time - and what his reflections are 20 years later
Wednesday, February 3, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A6

About the series

Photojournalists are vital witnesses to global events. Through their lenses, we, the readers safe at home, glean a sliver of visual reality from places torn by man-made or natural catastrophe.

As recent events have shown, kidnap for ransom and murder to instill terror have made journalism increasingly hazardous. This, in turn, has challenged journalists when it comes to their physical and emotional well-being.

Anthony Feinstein, a psychiatrist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and professor at the University of Toronto, is a world leader in the psychological effects of war on front-line journalists. Together with Dr. Feinstein, The Globe and Mail is running a year-long project: Conflict Photographers Once a month, we feature a frank and intimate interview between Dr. Feinstein and a photojournalist.

Each article showcases an image that represents a seminal moment in the photographer's life and career, and often presents a window to a much greater issue.

On the morning of April 19, 1995, Charles (Chuck) Porter IV, banker and keen amateur photographer, left his desk on the 13th floor of the Liberty Bank building in Oklahoma City to go process a loan. No sooner had he arrived four floors below than he heard a tremendous boom and felt the building shaking. His first thought was of a controlled demolition but, looking out the window, he saw debris floating past.

His curiosity was piqued.

Porter had never forgotten advice given to him by John White, the Chicago photojournalist and Pulitzer Prize winner, to keep a loaded camera with him at all times. He could not have known that listening to White would take him on a rarefied journey, one in which he would be widely feted, but vilified, too.

With camera in hand, he went in search of the source of the debris. Rounding the corner a couple of blocks away from the Liberty Bank, he came upon a stupefying site. To Porter, it looked as though someone had taken a giant ice-cream scoop to the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building. The front of the edifice was gone and a large section offcentre had been gouged out from top to bottom. Such was the force of the blast that 324 buildings within a 16-block radius had also been damaged or destroyed.

Porter had come upon no controlled demolition, but rather the most devastating act of homegrown terrorism in the history of the United States. He was on the scene before the first responders.

There wasn't a journalist in sight.

He immediately began taking photographs.

When I asked Porter to reflect on his emotions at the time, he recalled feeling shocked. But he also believes his camera became his buffer, separating him from the mayhem unfolding before his eyes. He spent around 45 minutes at the scene and shot two rolls of film. He did not know that a bomb planted by Timothy McVeigh had caused the damage and killed 168 people.

By mid-morning, downtown Oklahoma City had been evacuated. With work over for the day, Porter hurried along to his local Wal-Mart, eager to have his film developed. (A footnote to this story contains a coincidental twist that links victims and perpetrator. Porter's film was processed by the daughter of Officer Charlie Hanger. Earlier that morning on Interstate 35, Officer Hanger had pulled over a vehicle without license plates driven by McVeigh and arrested him for carrying a concealed weapon.

McVeigh would languish for two days in the county jail before being linked to the bombing.)

Porter's first emotion on seeing his developed prints was relief that the images were in focus. It was only when he noticed the effects his photographs had on others that he looked again at them. Unsure of what to do next, he dropped by the local Associated Press office on his way home and was stunned when they asked him how much he wanted for some of the prints. "I had never been paid for a photo in my life," he told me.

Things moved quickly after that. No sooner was he home than The Times of London called, followed by Time, Newsweek and Life magazines. A FedEx van pulled up to his front door to transport his negatives to New York. All the major news affiliates, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, began calling. By evening, Charles Porter IV was being represented by Sygma, one of the world's premier photo agencies.

The media frenzy would go on for weeks.

The photograph that captured the attention of the world was of a bloodied baby, Baylee Almon, being carried in the hands of firefighter Chris Fields. A second photograph, taken a few seconds earlier, shows police officer John Avery handing over the grievously wounded child to Fields, who has touchingly removed his rough firefighters gloves before receiving the infant. Porter's memory of how he came to take the photographs speaks to pure chance and instinct. "I see something run toward the left corner of my eye," he recalled. "I turn with my camera; it's a policeman carrying something. I snap the frame just as the policeman hands it to a fireman. The fireman turns, and he's holding this infant. He just holds it there for a couple of seconds. I take one shot."

That one shot would win Porter a Pulitzer prize. It also lends credence to Susan Sontag's observation that "photography is the only major art in which professional training and years of experience do not confer insuperable advantage over the untrained and inexperienced - this for many reasons, among them the large role that chance (or luck) plays in the taking of pictures, and the bias towards the spontaneous, the rough, the imperfect.

There is no comparable level playing field in literature ... or in the performing arts ... or in filmmaking ..." Porter would receive other accolades, most notably a British Picture Editor's Award. But his image also became contentious, albeit inadvertently. A few days after the bombing, with the city reeling, the AP brought together Aren Almon - the mother of Baylee - with Fields, Avery and Porter. He recalls it was a hard meeting. He felt out of place, "the fifth wheel." Almon was distraught. Porter remembers saying that he hoped the photograph had not caused her further grief, for that had not been his intent, and being reassured by her that it had not.

Over the years, however, stories emerged to the contrary. Twenty years on from the blast, Aren Almon-Kok, now married and with two children, recalls how awful it had been to see her dead child on the front page of the Daily Oklahoman. Porter's iconic photograph had enshrined Baylee as the "face" of the tragedy.

Some of the bereaved families objected to this. They felt neglected by comparison and resented what they saw as the limelight falling on one family to the exclusion of others. They turned their anger on her. To Almon-Kok, the ubiquitous photograph was a constant reminder of her loss. "I didn't want to see Baylee dead everywhere every day," she told one interviewer.

When Porter recently sent a Facebook message to Almon-Kok for what would have been Baylee's 21st birthday, he received a bitter response. She had always hated the photograph, she informed him, and wished it had never been taken.

As Oklahomans affected by the bombing reeled from the magnitude of their trauma, mindful of President Clinton's plea that "the loss you feel must not paralyze your own lives," darker forces emerged looking to profit from tragedy. Porter was inundated with offers to use his photograph for merchandise, coffee mugs, T-shirts, gold coins. He turned them all down, except one. He divulged that an agreement was reached with Almon-Kok and Fields for a Sam Butcher's Precious Moments figurine, but the deal subsequently fell through when the lawyer representing Almon-Kok tried to cut a more lucrative deal on the quiet.

Meanwhile, financial shenanigans were going on elsewhere, too. Lester LaRue, an employee at Oklahoma Natural Gas dispatched to the scene by his company, had taken a photograph almost identical to Porter's. (Porter claims he can immediately tell the difference between the two because his photograph has a sharper focus). LaRue subsequently sold the image to Newsweek, but the gas company claimed ownership of it. The courts ruled in the company's favour. LaRue lost his job.

Away from the glare of publicity and the hovering entrepreneurs, the victims of the tragedy and the first responders were coming to terms with what they had experienced and witnessed.

For Baylee's mother, the pain endured. Fields developed posttraumatic stress disorder and required counselling. Avery, according to Porter, received therapy, too. And Porter? How did the photographer fare?

Chuck Porter is an uncomplicated man. He left banking a couple of years after the bombing, retrained as a physical therapist and relocated to Texas, where there were better job opportunities. He leads a comfortable suburban life with his wife and two young children. He is not troubled by the accolades he has received in the context of a tragic event, although he is quick to state that he wished the bombing had never taken place.

He is proud of his prize-winning photograph. He sleeps well at night. His dreams are not troubled. He harbours no regrets, no guilt. His brow is unfurrowed. He has never needed therapy. Having spent some time with him amidst his toy-strewn living room, I have no reason to doubt any of this.

But trauma can be a tenacious beast. PTSD and depression are extreme manifestations of a traumatic response. Far more frequent are subtler tell-tale signs.

They should not be regarded as pathological, for their effects are more bemusing than distressing.

They can take varied forms, as Porter's history revealed. In the months after the bombing, he was in demand as a television and radio guest. Tom Brokaw interviewed him. He appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show. He enjoyed the attention and yet he noticed that whenever he began talking about what he had witnessed, he would break out into a profuse, cold sweat, develop palpitations, experience difficulty breathing and feel his anxiety surge. It wasn't stage fright.

There was no fear. Rather, his body, his physiology had retained an imprint of that traumatic day.

At an unconscious level he had been conditioned by what he had experienced. As long as he avoided the subject he was fine, but the moment he summoned up memories, he triggered this physiological response. The symptoms were transient. In the weeks that followed, they faded away.

More striking is another of Porter's experiences. While he retains strong memories of what he witnessed, he cannot recall any sounds from his time at the bomb site. No wailing sirens, no shouts of the first responders, no cries from the victims. His memories are blanketed in a deep silence. Similarly, he cannot remember any smells linked to the blast. McVeigh had manufactured his 13-barrel bomb from ammonium nitrate, nitromethane, fertilizer and diesel fluid, all of which have a pungent odour that would have permeated the smoke at the site. Porter has no memory of this, either. To him, this absence of sound and smell blunts some of the drama that was unfolding before him.

This cleaving of two senses that are so intimately linked to traumatic events suggests the presence of dissociation, a separation of normally integrated mental processes. It occurs when the psyche is overwhelmed by the magnitude of an experience. In Porter's case, it has left its stamp. Reflecting on those events 20 years back, he recalls a silent world, "like watching a movie on mute." It doesn't distress him. Just another leftover quirk from a day like no other.

Listening to Porter tell his story, I was struck by how different his life is from those photographers whose careers are defined by war and conflict. Absent is that relentless drive to return to the fray, to bear witness to suffering and to brave many dangers in doing so. From time to time, he picks up his camera for a wedding or sporting event. No more than that. He enjoyed his moment of fame. It never gave him a taste for more.

And yet Louis Pasteur was surely right when he observed that chance favours the prepared mind. Porter could not have foretold the Oklahoma bombing, but he kept his camera loaded and close. "Would you like to see my Pulitzer?" he asked as we made our way to the front door, the interview over. He stopped by a glass cabinet and opened it.

Shifting aside the family china, he showed me his coveted prize.

Associated Graphic



Friday, February 5, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A6

The deal

The sprawling General Dynamics plant in northeast London, Ont., is a rare success story today in Canada's badly battered manufacturing sector.

It's the key beneficiary of a deal brokered by the former Harper government that paved the way for what is now the largest manufacturing-export contract in Canadian history.

The $15-billion deal, first announced in 2014, will keep 3,000 Canadians employed for 14 years - many of them located in Southwestern Ontario.

There's just one glaring drawback: the customer.

Under this transaction, Canadian workers are building weaponized armoured vehicles for Saudi Arabia, a country roundly condemned for an abysmal record on human rights as a result of its appalling treatment of women, dissidents and prisoners.

General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) advertises its fighting vehicle as a classic piece of Canadiana. In marketing materials, it showcases the combat machine, equipped with a machine gun, alongside photos of poutine, a Mountie, a hockey game and a moose. The advertising tagline reads: "This is Canadian."

Critics, however, say the Saudi arms deal is un-Canadian and that a country whose icons include peace makers such as Lester B. Pearson and Roméo Dallaire has no business selling weapons to a Middle East regime regularly ranked among the world's worst on human rights.

Landing the Big One

Canada's biggest arms deal in history is no ordinary transaction.

Stephen Harper's government lobbied the Saudis hard for the business, pouring significant resources into the competition. This deal, clinched less than two years ago, was brandished by the Conservatives as proof that "economic diplomacy" - or making the service of private industry the centrepiece of foreign policy - works.

The prime minister himself wrote then-King Abdullah to assure him that Canada was committed to the deal and executives from its defence-export-promotion company, the Canadian Commercial Corp., even spent the Christmas of 2013 in the Middle East waiting for the opportunity to get the monarch to sign off on the deal.

Adam Taylor, a former aide to then-international trade minister Ed Fast, said winning the contract proved "Canada was playing the game in a competitive world where others are playing the game more fiercely and with better results."

The contract was a lifesaver for the GDLS plant in London, which was looking for new business after Canada's participation in the war in Afghanistan had wound down, and the Canadian Armed Forces had less light-armoured vehicle (LAV) work to send its way.

"This deal literally saved the General Dynamics Land Systems operation in London, Ont., and made it the hub for the next generation of light-amoured vehicle," Mr. Taylor said.

The federal government is front and centre in this deal. It brokered the deal and is the prime contractor, meaning it's ultimately responsible for the delivery of these weapons to the Saudis.

The foreign service has embraced its beefed-up role in landing business for companies such as GDLS, which is a subsidiary of a major U.S. defence contractor.

When Canada's ambassador to Saudi Arabia gave Ottawa early notice the deal was coming together, he was positively jubilant. In an October, 2012, e-mail with the subject line "GDLS lands the Big One," Thomas MacDonald informed the federal government of what had transpired and ended his missive with a jubilant expression: "Gotta LOV the LAV!"

The customer

The Saudi Arabian National Guard is a distinctive defence force inside this Middle East country. It is loyal to the long-ruling Saud family and helps this clan keep its grip on power. It is dedicated to protecting the monarchy from internal threats and, if necessary, from rival families or a coup by the Saudi military.

This praetorian guard is a useful tool to suppress civil unrest. Separate from the Saudi army, it has a main force of 100,000, and owns its own helicopters, artillery and thousands of armoured combat vehicles.

In 2011, the Saudi King sent security forces equipped with fighting vehicles to neighbouring Bahrain to help his ally crush protests sparked by the Arab Spring uprisings across the region.

The Canadian government doesn't deny that Canadian combat vehicles, part of far smaller orders this country sold to the Saudis in the past, may have been part of the force deployed to Bahrain. Ottawa says only that "to the best of the Government of Canada's knowledge," Canadian armoured vehicles were not used to kill, or fire upon, civilians who died in the uprising.

That same year, Riyadh sent the guard to Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, home to the country's major oil fields, to quash demonstrations by the sizable Shia minority in February and March, 2011. Shiites make up as much as 15 per cent of the Saudi population and form the majority in Eastern Province.

The problem with Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is a human-rights pariah.

It is among the biggest executioners in the world, often carried out by beheading. It conducted the biggest mass execution in decades in early January, killing 47 - including a prominent dissident Shia cleric from Eastern Province.

The Sunni majority oppresses its Shia minority citizens, who face discrimination in the education system and the courts, and cannot build houses of worship outside designated enclaves.

Human-rights advocates are pleading with Riyadh to reconsider the case of Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nimr, sentenced to death by crucifixion over his alleged role in pro-Shiite protests when he was 17 years old.

Saudi Arabia is wreaking devastation in Yemen as the head of a coalition of Arab states that are battling Houthi forces aligned with Iran.

A United Nations panel report last week said the Saudi-led military campagn is indiscriminately killing civilians there, conducting "widespread and systematic" bombing of non-combatants. The report attributed 60 per cent of civilian deaths and injuries in the Yemen conflict to air-launched explosive weapons, and said the coalition's "targeting of civilians ... is a grave violation of the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution," and violate international law.

Women cannot drive in Saudi Arabia. Saudi authorities took harsh measures against women who defied this ban in 2015.

The male guardianship system there means women cannot obtain a passport, marry, travel or obtain higher education without the approval of a male guardian, usually a husband, father, brother or son, according to Human Rights Watch.

Public practice of religion other than Islam is forbidden, as are challenges to Islam.

Saudi writer Raif Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes after being convicted for blasphemy.

Secrecy and a refusal to reconsider

The federal government is supposed to police arms exports to make sure Canada is not supplying weapons to human-rights abusers.

In the case of the Saudi arms deal, it's impossible for Canadians to learn why Ottawa let this deal proceed.

As with the Harper Conservatives, Justin Trudeau's new Liberal government is refusing to explain how this contract is justified under Canada's arms-control rules, which are supposed to restrict weapons exports to countries with poor human-rights records.

Those rules call for Ottawa to curb shipments to countries with a "persistent record of serious violations of the human rights of their citizens." Shipments are forbidden if there is a chance the customer could turn the arms against its own population. In the case of Saudi Arabia, the biggest risk would be that the National Guard uses the combat vehicles against the restless Shia minority in Eastern Province.

Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion's department refuses to make public the analysis that Ottawa is supposed to conduct to determine that shipping arms to Saudi Arabia is acceptable to Canada, saying it could injure the "commercial confidentiality of the deal."

And also, as with the Tories, the Liberals are refusing to reconsider the contract, framing it as a done deal despite urging from elder Liberal statesman Lloyd Axworthy to review the transaction.

"Everybody says it's for jobs, but I think if you start counting up the price you pay in terms of instability and repression and forceful maintenance of order, you may be paying a high price," Mr. Axworthy told The Globe in January.

"I think the Saudis have really, in the last couple of years, really become a problem country," he said. "The degree of oppression against women and dissidents in Saudi Arabia is becoming almost epidemic."

Mr. Axworthy said Saudi Arabia's and Canada's interests don't align on major issues. Canada is suffering the impact of the oil-price crash after Saudi Arabia abandoned a long-standing policy of cutting supplies to stabilize petroleum prices. As well, the Mideast country is long accused of exporting Islamic fundamentalism. "We're saying we've got to do something about terrorism and extremism," Mr.

Axworthy said, "and you've got a very wealthy country using a good part of its wealth to proselytize."

Both Ottawa and General Dynamics refuse to divulge details of the deal, including how many combat vehicles will be sold.

Ottawa is contractually obliged to keep secret the details of the transaction. Department of Global Affairs e-mails obtained by The Globe and Mail under the Access to Information Act indicate the Saudis have made excess publicity about the sale of armoured fighting vehicles a deal breaker.

Officials were scrambling behind the scenes last year after the arms deal got more media attention, trying to determine the consequences of publicly releasing the terms of the Saudi contract.

Not 'jeeps'

Mr. Trudeau has sought to play down the egregiousness of the Saudi arms deal, telling reporters during the federal election campaign that the deal brokered by Canada was merely a transaction to sell "jeeps" to Riyadh.

But as The Globe and Mail first reported in January, the armoured combat vehicles will feature medium- or high-calibre weapons supplied by a European subcontractor - such as a powerful cannon designed to shoot anti-tank missiles.

Details about the turreted weapons have been slow to emerge because both GDLS and its Belgian supplier, CMI Defence, part of CMI Groupe, are saying little about the contract and subcontract.

CMI, which manufactures turrets and cannons, is supplying two gun systems for the Canadian-made vehicles, including a medium-calibre weapon, and the Cockerill CT-CV 105HP, which it advertises as a "high-pressure gun with an advanced autoloader to deliver high lethality at very light weight," one with the capacity to fire 105 mm shells and a heavy, armour-penetrating missile.

Ottawa's ongoing duty

The Trudeau Liberals frame the Saudi deal as a fait accompli and say that they cannot alter it.

This is despite the fact the contract is still in early phases - General Dyamics said in January it is still in "material procurement stage" and notwithstanding the Canadian government's ongoing obligation to monitor the human-rights conduct of Saudi Arabia.

Under pressure from critics of the Saudi deal, the Liberals shifted messaging in late January - acknowleding they have the power to suspend exports in the $15-billion arms sale, saying Ottawa reserves the right to do so if events warrant.

That's not enough for some. Cesar Jaramillo, executive director of Project Ploughshares, an anti-war group based in Waterloo, Ont., thinks Ottawa already has sufficient grounds to reconsider the sale.

"Of course, job creation is a legitimate pursuit for any government," he told The Globe. "But there are lines that Canada should not cross in the pursuit of profit - and sustaining one of the worst humanrights violators in the world should clearly be one of them."

Associated Graphic

The recipient of Canada's LAVs is Saudi Arabia's National Guard, which protects King Salman, left. Former prime minister Stephen Harper's government brokered the deal in 2014.


Refugee crisis is a demographic time bomb
Beyond the anguished journeys, a wrenching challenge: how influx of asylum seekers will affect census numbers for years to come
Saturday, February 6, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A17

LONDON -- Europe's welcome for refugees has faded fast. Five months after the image of little Alan Kurdi lying dead on a Turkish beach - which inspired German Chancellor Angela Merkel to declare her country could take many more refugees - the mood darkens by the day.

Last week, it was Sweden - long perceived as the European country most welcoming of newcomers - declaring it expected to reject as many as half the 160,000 asylum applications it received in 2015, and that tens of thousands of people would be deported.

Finland and Austria quickly followed with similar plans (Finland said it might reject as many as two-thirds of its 32,000 refugee applicants).

Denmark and Switzerland made their growing hostility to newcomers plain another way, introducing laws allowing for the seizure of refugees' jewellery and other valuables as a crude method of helping subsidize asylum-seekers' costs to the state.

Bavaria and other south German states have taken similar steps.

Meanwhile, discussion spread about kicking Greece out of the continent's visa-free Schengen Area, a move that would effectively bottle up refugees in the economically failing country, turning Greece into a giant holding pen.

British Prime Minister David Cameron captured Europe's darkening zeitgeist when he disparagingly referred to the thousands of people camped in the French port of Calais - people hoping to reach Britain - as "a bunch of migrants" that the Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn would foolishly admit into the country if he ever gained office.

(Mr. Cameron this week hosted a donors' conference that raised $6-billion (U.S.) for the refugee crisis. It was a commendable effort, but delegates to the conference openly spoke of it as an effort to deter more people from coming to Europe via making life somewhat more bearable in the refugee settlements of the Middle East.)

Canada, watching from afar - and worried about integrating the much smaller number of Syrian refugees now arriving - would be wise not to follow Europe down this dimly lit path, or draw the wrong lessons from it.

Our refugees are different from their refugees. And our integration challenges will be different too.

Europe's backlash began on the heels of the awful events that took place in Cologne, Germany, on New Year's Eve, when crowds of young men - described as "North African or Arabic" in appearance, and apparently including some recent arrivals - mobbed, robbed and in some cases sexually assaulted young women near the city's main train station.

It was an incident that gave the continent's right-wingers fresh ammunition for their argument that the more than one million recently arrived Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans and other refugees don't fit into European society; that they're collectively a threat to the continent's values.

A poll released last week found 40 per cent of Germans thought Ms. Merkel should quit over her decision to open the country's doors to refugees.

But the threat isn't the refugees' culture; it's the gender mix that Europe is importing. And that's directly connected to the deadly sea crossings that have taken the lives of Alan Kurdi and more than 4,000 others since the start of last year.

The European Union signed a deal last month that will see it pay the Turkish government $4.5-billion to step up its efforts to stem the flow of illegal migrants attempting the crossing to Greece. In exchange, Turkish police are making a more visible effort to crack down on the smugglers who charge around $1,000 a person to arrange a rubber dinghy trip to such Greek islands as Lesbos, Kos and Chios.

But all Turkish police are accomplishing is to push the smugglers to find new and often more dangerous routes. The arrival numbers in Greece - 3,500 a day in January - show that the refugees keep coming anyway. If anything, Europe should be bracing for even greater numbers to arrive at its borders in 2016.

And yet, none of the EU's $4.5billion is going where it's needed most: to a ferry terminal that would make it safer for those determined to make the crossing to Greece's outlying islands.

And so, people continue to die; at least 244 in January of this year alone (when more than 65,439 people made sea crossings to either Greece or Italy in the dangerous winter waves, compared with 5,550 last year, when 82 people died).

It's a ludicrous situation, especially when witnessed from the shores of Lesbos, where earlier this year I watched a flimsy dinghy bob to shore with a few dozen desperate people aboard.

Their survival was in question until the minute they touched land, when they were immediately wrapped in blankets and dry clothes, and given medical checks by teams of aid workers and volunteers waiting on the rocky beach.

Anyone who intervened to help the refugees a moment earlier risked being charged under Greek law for aiding illegal entry into the country.

But once the refugees touch land, the Greek government allows the volunteers to do their work, and itself moves as quickly as possible to get the new arrivals on to Athens, and then on buses toward the Macedonian border and central Europe beyond.

In other words, if you survive the sea journey, the hardest part of the trip is over. Even the authorities start helping you with the trek onward.

Still, the EU and Turkey balk at making the sea crossing easier, since it would almost certainly encourage even greater numbers of people to try to reach Europe (although a well-regulated ferry terminal would also allow for document screening in Turkey, while cutting the smugglers out of the game).

Leaving the dangers in place is doing Europe no favours. The hazards associated with the journey ensure that Europe will continue to receive a disproportionate - and socially unhealthy number - of unaccompanied young men.

I've interviewed enough refugees over the past eight months of this crisis to see a pattern: The young men travelling alone to Europe are their family's chosen delegate. They're sent to stake out a new future, to find a job and eventually gain residency and citizenship. They're planting the family's flag. The plan is to some day bring the rest of the clan over.

This isn't necessarily bad news for Europe. This is an aging continent, one that can use an influx of talented young workers. But the prices that smugglers extract mean that most families can only afford to send one member, so they pick their best-educated or most-skilled child. The dangers of the trip mean that most families will choose to send a son over an equally talented daughter.

Statistics compiled by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees show 57 per cent of the just over one million people who have arrived on the islands of either Greece or Italy since the start of last year were adult males, versus 17-per-cent women and 27-per-cent children. Strip out the under 18s, and 77 per cent of the adults who made "irregular entries" to Europe were men (compared with 66 per cent in 2012, before the refugee crisis began in earnest).

Those numbers come with unpredictable consequences. In Sweden, the country that has received the highest per capita number of asylum applications, The Economist magazine forecast that the country's gender ratio would tip to 107 men per 100 women, from 105 per 100, if all the new arrivals were allowed to stay. Among 14- to 17-yearolds - where new arrivals are overwhelmingly male - the figure would rise to 116 per 100 women, from 106 per 100. A country that stands as a world leader in gender equality may soon have an imbalance similar to China's.

Canada, in contrast, will have very different, but equally challenging, integration issues. The bulk of the 25,000 Syrians that the government and private sponsors are in the midst of resettling have almost nothing in common with the refugee population arriving in Europe.

Europe is chaotically receiving the youthful cream of the crop.

Canada, by relying on the UNHCR to lead its selection process, is receiving Syria's poorest and most vulnerable. Where Europe is receiving too many young men, most of those that Canada is resettling are families, often with female heads of households, the men often having died in the war.

I've interviewed large numbers from both refugee pools. Those I've met waiting on the beaches of Turkey hoping to cross to Greece, or walking through the Balkans as they broke borders on their way north, have been predominantly men. But while that was unsettling - where were the women and children? - many had impressive skill sets.

I've met refugees who were lawyers, engineers and university professors back home before the wars.

Languages were another asset.

If I was speaking to a group of six or seven Syrians, Afghans or Iraqis, at least one or two of the group usually spoke some English. I've met asylum-seekers who spoke French and German, too.

The 25,000 refugees Canada is importing contrast with Europe's new arrivals in almost every way. Generally speaking, they were the most economically vulnerable of the Syrian refugees living in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon because they hadn't been affluent before the war either.

It's simple math: Those who were poor in prewar Syria ran through their savings before rich refugees did.

As international aid dwindled - last year the world funded just 40 per cent of an $8.4-billion United Nations appeal for Syria - they were the ones who suffered most from declining food stipends and dwindling school spaces. They were the ones who couldn't even contemplate paying a smuggler thousands of dollars to take them to Europe.

They were Syria's olive farmers and shopkeepers before the war, not its university graduates. Of the dozens of refugees headed to Canada that I met (and I was focused on the government-selected pool, rather than private sponsorships), I can remember only one who spoke passable English.

Many of their kids, worryingly, had been out of school for years.

Our challenge, then, will be completely different than Europe's. Don't look to Cologne and shudder. Look instead to the alienated suburbs of Paris and Brussels, where the children of Muslim immigrants were allowed to grow up as angry outsiders within French and Belgian society. Look to Canada's own native reserves, where a community that started behind was allowed to fall even further behind.

The Syrians arriving in Canada pose almost no security threat.

They've passed more checks than anyone else in the country.

But there's still a time bomb that needs to be defused. The parents need immediate help, with language lessons and other necessary skills for coping in the very alien society they've just arrived in.

Their children will require even more direct engagement to help them catch up for the years of missed schooling. They will almost certainly need scholarship programs that give them preferential access to postsecondary education.

Despite some hiccups, Canada's various levels of government - with a big assist from church groups and volunteers - are off to an impressive start resettling the new arrivals. But the effort can't wane.

Europe's reception for refugees is growing cool. If Canada is going to avoid serious longerterm problems of our own, our welcome has to keep getting warmer.

Associated Graphic

There are stark differences in the types of refugees arriving in Europe and in Canada. In Europe, they are predominantly affluent young males seeking a toehold for their families back home, while Canada is receiving Syria's poorest and most vulnerable.



A vacation of one's own
More women are travelling alone - and the industry is taking notice. Catherine Dawson March leaves her family at home to see whether staying at a solo-friendly resort delivers the solitude of her dreams
Tuesday, February 2, 2016 – Print Edition, Page L1

PUNTA CANA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC -- Punta Cana. The words are like a vacation in your mouth before you even arrive. Whisper "Punta Cana" and you can already feel the sand between your toes and the surf lapping against your legs. Inside the Dominican Republic's biggest resort region, the party never stops - and, at almost any price point, all-inclusive indulgence is your everyday.

It's what draws 60 per cent of the country's 5.14 million tourists.

It's what drew me. And it's what drew Amy Schwab earlier this month when she needed a solo escape from Chicago's deep freeze. In her mid-40s, this wasn't her first resort trip, but it still took her a few days at Breathless Punta Cana to snag a chaise longue by one of the better pools.

Long enough to know that this spot - facing the afternoon sun, not too far from the bar or the beach - was prime real estate.

That day she spread out her towel, smoothed on some SPF, pulled out her novel and settled in for a lovely day of rum and sun.

The sun was easy, the rum was trickier.

"I kept waiting for the pool server to come by my chair but he kept passing me to serve the couples nearby - even when I looked right at him, and more than once," she said.

Amy walked over to the bar and got her own drink. But when it was time for another, she was loath to get up. She was at an allinclusive - free drinks delivered to your deck chair is part of the experience.

"Eventually the pool guy came by," she said. He asked whether she wanted another pina colada, then: "And what about your husband?" If there's one thing you don't ask a woman travelling alone, it's, "What about your husband?" Especially when there's a significant increase in females flying solo. In 2015, a TripAdvisor survey of more than 9,000 women from around the globe reported that 41 per cent had travelled alone; the number jumped to 74 per cent when combined with the segment of women who planned to travel alone later that year.

But it's not just women. Visa's Global Travel Intentions Study of 2015 reported that the number of affluent adults who vacation on their own has more than doubled to 32 per cent, up from 14 per cent in 2013. With those kinds of numbers, resorts, cruise lines and tour operators are responding with packages to attract them.

But it may take more than travel agents to get the message across once these women arrive. After the (unintended) slight, Amy just sighed. It wasn't the first time she'd been asked that question during her stay - room service kept bringing her two breakfasts - but it stuck a pin in her mood every time.

When Amy told me this story, it was a relief to know that I wasn't the only one being ignored. I had left my family behind to relax - truly relax - on a quiet beach by a warm ocean. It was the kind of escape I'd often fantasized about: A vacation free from cooking and cleaning (hello cottage rental), the stress of navigation (ahh, the road trip), manual labour (our annual camping folly) and sibling arbitration (home and away). A vacation where the only finger I'd lift would be to turn the page of my novel? I'd waited years for this.

Breathless is one of Transat Vacation's new Solo Collection resorts, about a dozen or so adults-only getaways from Cuba to Saint Lucia that cater to this growing segment of the industry.

Vacationers who book through the Solo Collection program won't pay more for travelling alone (there's no single supplement), room service is free and the resorts have a set aside a communal table where solo diners meet and mingle.

When I arrived, I laughed when I saw the bottle of bubbly on ice - with one champagne flute. This time, the fun in exploring a new hotel room was mine alone: the enormous bed, the Jacuzzi tub on the balcony, the fridge full of pop, chocolate bars and Pringles I wouldn't have to fight my kids for. And, as a woman travelling alone, I was impressed that the staff, from the bellboy to housekeeping to room service, always asked permission before entering my room.

My first morning, I wandered over to one of the restaurants closest to the beach. No one asked whether I wanted to sit at a table with other solo travellers, but to be honest, I didn't want to.

I was enjoying being on my own, even when the waiter automatically filled a second coffee cup at my place setting. I needed a double dose of caffeine anyway.

I took a long walk along what felt like a good chunk of Punta Cana's 50 kilometres of coastline.

Beaches are public in the Dominican and along this stretch (a 45minute drive from the airport) much of the land between resorts is undeveloped. I passed local families enjoying the sun and numerous souvenir shacks.

Did I want a palm-leaf hat? My picture with a monkey? A massage by the sea? The shilling was persistent, but a simple "No, gracias" cut short the verbal assault almost every time. And when it didn't, I just kept walking quickly. I never felt unsafe.

I could even indulge in my girlish selfie habit without my kids making fun of me (stunned that I was actually here, by myself, I whipped out my camera far too often).

By the time I got back to the Breathless beachfront, I was ready to collapse in a deck chair.

I lost myself in my novel for a long time. But when I looked up to order something rummy and yummy, I realized I was invisible.

Couples and groups were taking priority over my now not-so-subtle wave to the beach butler. I thought about sending signals with U.S. dollar bills tucked into the straps of my bathing suit, but then the booze butler arrived to take my order. Sated with a pina colada, and then a strawberry daiquiri, I turned back to my book. I had nothing else to do but read. Things were looking up.

That night at dinner (and the night after), the hostess did not ask whether I wanted to sit at the long communal table. As I followed her through the restaurant I noticed that four solo diners (seated alone at tables for two) were immersed in their phones and e-readers. I became the fifth.

By dessert, it occurred to me that I was having so much relaxing "me" time that nearly two days had gone by without talking to anyone but resort staff. So I picked up my crème brûlée and asked whether I could join the two women eating alone side by side.

Marcela, 40, from Brazil, had wanted to travel without her boyfriend and his kids, while Marie, 32, flew in from France to meet new people. And while we shared tips about the seven pools and off-resort gift shops, they confessed that, while Breathless was couple oriented (I found out later only 5 per cent of its business is solo guests), Marcela and Marie were enjoying having a beach vacation to themselves.

Their satisfaction is reflected in an American 2014 survey on solo travel, which (while aimed at older vacationers) noted that travellers report high satisfaction rates when they take the plunge and explore solo: 97 per cent of respondents enjoyed travelling on their own, and 81 per cent planned to do it all over again in the next year.

During my deck-chair reading I discovered that Santo Domingo, about a three hour drive, was the first European city in the New World. So the next morning I signed up for a tour. I figured I'd find a few kindred spirits among people wanting to leave a beach resort for a 12-hour cultural tour.

I was right: This was where I met Amy and other like-minded travellers. We shared resort stories over the long drive and when our guide walked too far ahead, we'd pass on our own observations about Diego Columbus's restored palace, or the Parque Colon, with a statue of his father, and pointed out impressive 16th-century architecture in the continent's first cathedral, Catedral Primada de America, then snapped pictures of one another along the cobblestones of Calle Las Damas. What a relief to get out of my own head for a while.

I also had my first taste of Dominican food - mofongo (plantains, pork rinds and garlic), rice and beans and sancocho (a multimeat stew with vegetables and spices) - which I was thankful for; Breathless's 11 restaurants were good and the meals artfully prepared, but it favoured more common international cuisine.

That night back at the resort, Amy and I shared a table for two ordering all sorts of tasty Middle Eastern dishes and laughing over the day's events. We parted with promises to look each other up if we were ever in the other's hometown.

But before I returned to my room to start packing, I slipped off my sandals and found a beach chair close to the ocean's edge. I wanted another good dose of "me" time. Looking up at the stars, another drink in my hand, I realized that was the sweetest luxury I'd found.

The writer was a guest of Transat Tours. It did not review or approve the story.


Transat Tours' Solo Collection is available at 18 resorts throughout the Caribbean at a variety of price points. Breathless Punta Cana is one of the better, 4.5 star ones. There is no single supplement, but there is free WiFi, free room service and - with any luck - a communal table to share meals. Ask for it when you arrive at the resort restaurant.

Solo Collection packages at Breathless start at $1,629 for five nights, upgrade to the Xhale Club (quieter beach, exclusive lounge, restaurant, pools, better booze, concierge service and so on) from $2,159.

In the air, Transat's Club Class (upgrade required) has all the usual airline-flight upgrades, but it's all done in an intimate space of a dozen passengers.

It's like flying in a bar car - strangers actually turn and chat with one another. Air Canada Vacations also caters to the solo crowd with programs at 17 hotels and resorts in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and one in Hawaii. These resorts will drop the single supplement fee and offer various activities for those travelling alone. Bring a lot of U.S. dollar bills for tipping and more for spending. The Dominican peso is accepted, but reluctantly. Also, be wary of resort "vacation club" marketing.

Guests are often expected to attend a breakfast "orientation" meeting, but it's really a hard sell to keep you coming back to the resort chain.

If you want to feel like a queen for a day, rent a cabana.

Suddenly, the booze butlers will drop by regularly, and serve lunch at your beach bed.

At Breathless, it's a pricey (up to $100 U.S. a day) but heavenly extra. On my cabana day, I left this little palace only to swim or take a kayak out onto the ocean.

Associated Graphic


Breathless Punta Cana offers packages for solo travellers, providing a lot of opportunities for 'me' time while lounging by the ocean.


Wednesday, February 03, 2016

An updated directory of the brands, designers and influencers to name drop now
Saturday, February 6, 2016 – Print Edition, Page L6

A AMI Named after designer Alexandre Mattiussi, who spent time at Givenchy and Dior, this French brand is upgrading the modern man's wardrobe, with easy, sporty staples and crisp, Parisian-inspired style.

B BWGH Inspired by photography, textiles and youth culture, Brooklyn We Go Hard (a.k.a.

BWGH) has amassed a cult following with their subversive T-shirts, sneakers and accessories.

Despite the name, the brand was started by two childhood friends who live and design in Paris.

C CRAIG GREEN This Central Saint Martins grad has become the darling of the London men's-wear scene with his draped, wrapped and re-worked garments, all of which reinterpret traditional ideas of uniform and utility.

D DRAKE Just call him the people's champion. While other rappers flaunt their Goyard bags and Cartier bracelets, the only bling Drake mentions comes in the form of a song. Don't discount his influence though. The rapper is just as important to the fashion industry as that other rap god (more on him later). Drake's style works because he dresses like ordinary people, so it's not hard for fans to access his look. Case ccess in point: When the rapper was phoapper tographed wearing a Stone Island sweater over the summer, it gave mmer, the nineties "dad brand" an and" instant jolt of credibility, lity, while simultaneously y upping their cool factor with the under-30 set. More proof of Drake's influence: His OVO brand just opened its second clothing store - in L.A.

E EDMUND OOI Born in Malaysia, based in Belgium and showing in New York and Milan, the 28-year-old Ooi is the nomadic fashion wunderkind. Merging elements of sci-fi and modern art with bold colors and proportion play, Ooi is creating men's wear with a sense of humour, a sense of irony, and above all, an original point of view.

F FAMILY From the siblings behind accessories brand Giles & Brother to the dapper bros behind New York's Ovadia & Sons, the family that designs together, succeeds together. Casely-Hayford is the latest family-run business to make its mark on the men's-wear scene. Designer Joe Casely-Hayford had been in the business for decades before he brought on son Charlie as stylist and co-designer. Now, the father-son duo is the toast of London, with their inspired takes on fresh and fearless British sportswear.

G GOSHA RUBCHINSKIY When Dover Street Market places an order for your collection before it's even hit the runway, you know you've got a hit on your hands. Gosha Rubchinskiy made his debut in Paris during the Spring 2015 shows, and he's been on an upward trajectory ever since. The Muscovite mixes nineties nostalgia and post-Soviet Muscovit references with a gritty, street punk aesthetic. Is it art? reference Is it highhigh-fashion? Is it all just an elaborate inside joke?

Who cares, when you're selling out the biggest ca bou boutiques in the world and being praised by ev everyone from A$AP Rocky to Vogue.

H HYPE BEAST Definition: a person who obsesses over underground brands and limited-edition releases, often braving long lines or camping out to get his hands on new, exclusive product before anyone else. (See: Supreme x Jordan Brand, Adidas Ultra Boost, anything Kanye) See also: RE-SELLER - a true hype beast's worst enemy.

I INFLUENCER Originally used to define founders or leaders of a particular thought community, the word is now - often loosely - applied to people with large social-media followings who leverage their influence to promote products and brands, including men's-wear r labels. A recent Women's Wear Daily report found that top influencers now charge up to $25,000 (U.S.) per Instagram post. That's nearly five times the going rate from just 18 months ago.

J JUSTIN O'SHEA Can you be rough and ready-to-wear at the same time? The buying g director for is proof that tough guys can pull off a bespoke suit, too. The tattooed ed tastemaker has become one of the few reliable street-style stars, with his signature beard and deft mixing of Savile Row staples and sporty separates. Just don't call him a lumbersexual.

K KENT AND CURWEN Established in 1926 as a gentlemen's fashion brand, U.K.-based Kent and Curwen is stepping up efforts to appeal to a younger customer. The first step: signing David Beckham as a brand ambassador, with plans to launch a Beckham-designed collection in 2016.

L LOU DALTON Trained at the Royal College of Art, Dalton is highly regarded for her quiet, refined approach to men's wear. Intricate yet unfussy, her collections reveal novel approaches to print and texture, all rendered appro on tra traditional silhouettes. More than anything, her p pieces look comfortable - like clothing you would actually want to put on and wear.

M MALE MODELS Forget Karlie and Cara, male models are so taking over the mainstream. Last year, it was Taylor Swift tapping industry vet Sean O'Pry as her "Blank Space" love interest. Now Selena Gomez is taking a cue from her friend's book, casting model Christopher Mason in her latest video, for Hands to Myself. Celeb kids Gabriel Da Day-Lewis and Dylan Brosnan, meantime, are booking major campaigns, appearing for Calvin Klein and Saint Laurent respectively. A then there's Lucky Blue Smith.

And M Model of the year and runner-up to Kany in GQ's "Most Stylish" poll, Smith has Kanye also single-handedly made platinum hair cool again, sending droves of men to the salon to get the "Lucky Blue 'do." The newly minted Angeleno has fronted campaigns for Tom Ford, Calvin Klein and Philipp Plein.

And he's still just 17.

N NICK WOOSTER You can't flip through a magazine or Instagram without seeing a photo of Wooster, and for good reason.

The former retail consultant-turned-front row staple has more than half a million followers analyzing his every look, from his deconstructed pompadour to the break in his tailored trousers.

His ongoing collaborations with sneaker brand Greats and Italian suiting company Lardini, meanwhile, are consistently sold out.

O OFFICINE GENERALE Workwear-inspired tailoring that doesn't feel forced. The Parisian label has made its mark with simple silhouettes, noble fabrics, and manufacturing in g Portugal that respects the design and productiontion process. The result is a brand that's as wellmade as it is wearable - smart fashion for the e forward-thinking man.

P PARK & PROVINCE It seems like every guy we know is shopping at this Toronto-based boutique, which also boosts a thriving online business. With its mix of contemporary brands and old-school favourites, the store has positioned itself as the go-to shop op for the guy who wants to look good and smell ll good, while appearing like he's just strolling through the neighbourhood.

Q QUIRKY Once reserved for nerdy hipsters ers or big Mad Men-type looks, quirky is mak- aking a comeback this season in less obnoxious s doses. Maison Kitsune does it with its self-aware slogan Ts, while Opening Ceremony presented an entire collection inspired by Beethoven and Bach.

(Trust us, it's not as crazy as it sounds). Hoping to ease into the quirky trend? Start with Pintrill - an online shop where you'll find everything from an emoji pin to a vintage Penny Hardaway pin, perfect for personalizing any outfit.

R REIGNING CHAMP Between this popular sportswear brand, Herschel Supply and Viberg boots, it's a great time to be from British Columbia. Reigning Champ continues to lead the way, with its Canadian-made essentials now stocked in more than 20 countries around the s world, and collaborations with everyone from Club Monaco to the L.A. Galaxy soccer team.

The brand also opened its first flagship store in Vancouver last year, with plans to expand to more locations soon.

S SAKS FIFTH AVENUE Saks is making a serious play for the men's-wear market, having just acquired Gilt Groupe for an estimated $250-million (U.S.). Expect to see a ton of Saks inventory off-loaded onto the discount s which means deals on both private-label and site, brand-name merchandise. Opening in Toronto spring, the venerable U.S. department store is this a working with parent company Hudson's Bay, also t expand its breadth of brands and products for to male consumer. Expect to see more denim the a casual sportswear alongside the racks of suits and a sweaters that will always be a Saks signature.

T TECHNICAL FABRICS You can't touch a rack of clothes these days without sliding up against some neoprene, and the technical trend looks to continue in 2016. Vancouver-based Arc'teryx Veilance approaches technical fabrics from a fit and function perspective, offering pieces for the city's rainy climate that can hold d their own on the streets of Milan.

U UNITED ARROWS The Japanese have always done men's wear better than anyone else, which is why this retail storeturned-concept brand continues to lead the pack with deceptively simple jackets, suiting and separates. You'll want to put these piecess on because they look so cozy and comfortable; le; you'll never want to take them off because they're just so damn cool.

V VIRGIL ABLOH The mastermind behind d fashion label Off-White, and creative director for Kanye West, Abloh is one of the most influential stylists and designers today.

His background in civil engineering and architectec ture make him an unlikely arbiter of style, yet it's exactly this openness that has made him a go-to for celebrities and magazines like, not to mention a finalist for the prestigious LVMH prize. Playing with proportion, logos and an often-muted palette, Abloh's pieces defy gender norms and ethnicity, instead focusing on self-expression and individual style. It's no wonder, then, that the most influential retailers and editors in the world are all clamouring for his attention.

W WHITE MOUNTAINEERING Designer Yosuke Aizawa started his Tokyo-based label with three principles: design, utility, technology. He's applied that inspiration along with his deft touch for fabrication and wearability to pieces that are inherently urban yet fitted for the outdoors a well. Think padded jackets, pumped as up sweats and retro-inspired sneakers - an ongoing collaboration with adidas Originals.

X XAVIER DOLAN Hello? The Canadian filmmaker not only directed Adele's big c comeback video, but he also fronted Louis Vuitton's latest men's campaign.

Loui From fashion weeks to film festivals, the dashing director consistently ranks as one dash of Young Hollywood's best-dressed.

Y YEEZY You didn't think we could write Y men's-wear wrap without including Kanye did you? The omnipresent rapper is officially a fashion icon, proving his chops official with a sold-out (and well-received) collection at New York Fashion Week, and translating that into big sales for his monochromatic, futuristic street-wear line. He's also scoring with his buzzy collaboration with Adidas.

Reports say retailers will be receiving four times the amount of Yeezy Boosts in 2016, proof that Kanye is holding true to his promise of making fashion accessible to all.

Z ZOOLANDER Because Derek is the first male model to land the cover of Vogue and the first man to appear on the cover since, well, Kanye did it with Kim Kardashian in 2014.

Associated Graphic





The 'supersalesman for the North'
As the first resident commissioner of the Northwest Territories, he pushed the region toward self-rule
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, January 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S12

Stuart Hodgson dodged Nazi U-boats on frigid Arctic convoys before battling Communists within his union as he organized loggers on both coasts of Canada. Later in life, he built a distinguished career as a public servant, most notably serving as the first resident commissioner of the Northwest Territories.

A towering man with large, rough hands and a booming voice, he displayed a good-humoured enthusiasm that verged on the comical. The New Yorker writer Edith Iglauer once described him as a "supersalesman for the North [who] always talks in exclamation marks." The Inuit knew the jolly, mustachioed commissioner as Umingmak - muskox.

Mr. Hodgson, who has died at 91, was also a founding signatory of the New Democratic Party. Mentored by NDP Leader Tommy Douglas, he received his northern appointment from Liberal Prime Minister Lester Pearson, befriended his successor, Pierre Trudeau, and, later still, served several in public administration roles in British Columbia with appointments from Social Credit Premier Bill Bennett.

Stories by and about Mr. Hodgson are legion, perhaps the best known involving the union leader being approached about becoming commissioner by Mr. Pearson.

"But I don't know that much about government," Mr. Hodgson protested.

"That's why I'm sending you," the prime minister replied.

The commissioner exercised one-man rule over a vast swath of the North American continent, a sparsely populated expanse of 1.25 million square miles, a third of the Canadian land mass. His instructions were to begin a process leading to self-rule by northern residents.

His administration coincided with a growing rise of militancy among younger native leaders and the commissioner earned criticism for his authoritarian approach to governance. As commissioner, he was a force unto himself, combining the roles of premier and lieutenant-governor, as well as legislative speaker. "I am the government," he once told a reporter. At the same time, he insisted his every edict was issued with the interests of the territorial population in mind. "I have 34,000 bosses," he once said.

Eager, gregarious, though unfamiliar with the Arctic except for his brief wartime experience, Mr. Hodgson was a superb choice for the transitional period. "I had gone north as a tourist, I suppose, looking for adventure and I returned home as someone who realized the enormous potential there," he wrote in an unpublished memoir. He promoted tourism and mining, and established a civil service in the territory. He also found a lingering acrimony among northerners toward their southern rulers. The federal Department of Northern Affairs and Natural Resources, known as DNANR, was referred to by northern residents as the Department of No Action and No Results. The commissioner pushed the territory toward self-rule. In this role, he was on occasion referred to as one of the last fathers of Confederation.

In his years in the North, he befriended commoner and royalty alike, from hunters on the frozen tundra to Prince Charles, who invited Mr. Hodgson to his wedding to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. "I've always looked upon him as a friend," Mr. Hodgson told Angela Mangiacasale of The Globe and Mail. "To think of all the millions of people he must have met, it's nice to know he feels the same way." In the end, Mr. Hodgson had to send his regrets, missing out on what became known as the wedding of the century.

Stuart Milton Hodgson was born in Vancouver on April 1, 1924, a second son for Mary Louisa (née Allen) and Allan Jay Hodgson, a labourer at plywood mills on the Fraser River. The boy, who would grow to a strapping 6-foot-2, began working in the mills at age 15, taking a full-time job when he quit high school after completing Grade 11.

With war waging around the globe, he joined the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve. He served as an anti-aircraft gunner aboard HMCS Monnow, a frigate that escorted a convoy to the Arctic port of Murmansk in the Soviet Union. Mr. Hodgson and another gunner were credited with shooting down a German combat plane off the Norwegian coast. At war's end, a boarding party from the frigate accepted the surrender of a German U-boat.

Mr. Hodgson returned to the West Coast and the mills, becoming an activist in the International Woodworkers of America. The enemy then was not so much the bosses but rival trade unionists seeking to affiliate the woodworkers with a Communist union. "A vicious fight," he once described the struggle to Jamie Lamb of the Vancouver Sun. "Fist fights. Shotguns. That sort of thing."

In 1951, he married Pearl Kereluk, a secretary originally from Hairy Hill, Alta., whom he had met when she asked him for a light for her cigarette.

Mr. Hodgson's faction prevailed and he became a prominent figure in British Columbia trade union circles. In 1959, he was dispatched to Newfoundland to support what became a bitter, bloody loggers' strike. The death of a policeman during a brawl in the town of Badger and the subsequent incendiary words of Premier Joey Smallwood caused a mob to seek out Mr. Hodgson at his hotel in Grand Falls. The organizer arrived shortly ahead of the vigilantes only to find the innkeeper had tossed his possessions into the snow.

As Mr. Hodgson frantically tossed his clothes back into a suitcase, a passing cab driver asked what had happened.

Fell on the ice, he explained, and the (expletive) suitcase popped open.

Mr. Hodgson took a seat in the cab, eager to make his escape.

The driver was in no hurry.

"There's a mob comin' our way and the word is they're going to hang a guy," the cabbie said in a Newfoundland brogue. "That ya might like to see it."

The mob was spotted coming over a hill toward the hotel.

Mr. Hodgson, seeking to not betray his identity, not to mention his urgent desire to flee, politely asked if there was a way to avoid being caught in the jam.

As they drove down side streets, the driver asked what brought the stranger to town.

"I'm a shoe salesman," he lied. "But, you know, business is bad. I'm having a hard time moving any product."

"Well, there's a strike on," the driver explained.

The cabbie later realized the identity of his passenger, whom he ordered out and left abandoned on the side of the highway. Mr. Hodgson and other union leaders eventually made their way to a deserted barracks at Gander airport where they hid for several days before seeking to leave the island. They tried to buy tickets on a flight to Ottawa, but the agent balked. "Not for you fellas," he said.

Meanwhile, word got out about the union guys being at the airport and a small but noisy group pursued them through the concourse.

An alert Pan Am agent quickly got the men onto a trans-Atlantic flight that happened to be stopping in Gander to refuel.

Mr. Hodgson wound up seated in the front of the plane, where he persuaded a stewardess to leave him a bottle of Crown Royal. Once the plane was airborne, he realized he did not know his destination. He was never so happy as when he landed in New York.

An activist with the social democratic Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, Mr. Hodgson and his union played a central role in the creation of the NDP following the debacle of the 1958 federal election. But he soured on the new party after it failed to make a breakthrough in the subsequent election. In 1967, he accepted a Liberal appointment to serve as a territorial commissioner. He led two chartered propeller planes filled with bureaucrats and office furniture, as well as one civil servant's pet skunk, to the small mining town of Yellowknife, where the territory capital was established after decades of rule from faraway Ottawa. The new government offices were temporarily located in a school, a curling rink and a bowling alley.

Mr. Hodgson's tenure coincided with times of great change in almost all aspects of life in the North. The commissioner appointed Abe Okpik to head Project Surname, visiting communities and asking the Inuit to choose surnames to replace their government-issued identity numbers, which had been printed on leather disks and worn around their necks like dog tags. A distinctive polar bear-shaped licence plate was adopted in 1970 as part of centennial celebrations for the territory. The inaugural Arctic Winter Games were held that year, a brainchild of Mr. Hodgson's after he despaired at the poor showing local athletes made when facing southern competition.

In 1975, he relinquished his authority to an elected council, an important evolution on the path to self rule.

On April 16, 1979, Prince Charles officiated at the opening of the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, a $5-million museum and archive in Yellowknife that served as a showpiece for Mr. Hodgson's desire to boost tourism. The commissioner had also hired American artist Arnold Friberg, known for his monumental set designs for Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments, to paint a life-sized portrait of the Prince.

Mr. Hodgson soon after left the North to serve as chairman of the International Joint Commission, which handles issues involving shared water boundaries with the United States. This was followed by a term at the helm of the BC Ferries and, later, as head of BC Transit. Mr. Hodgson then served as a citizenship judge until his retirement in 2005.

He was invested in the Order of Canada in 1971 for his role in labour relations and as commissioner. Pearl Hodgson was named to the Order three years later for her volunteer work in the North. As well, Mr. Hodgson was made a commander in the Order of the Dannebrog by Queen Margrethe of Denmark.

Mr. Hodgson died in Vancouver on Dec. 18. He leaves a son, a daughter and five grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife.

In his time as commissioner, Mr. Hodgson tried to visit every hamlet in the territories at least once a year. The commissioner carried a rifle and sometimes a sidearm, but did not shoot game either for sport or sustenance. When asked once why he did not hunt, he reportedly responded that it was because of the plane he shot down during the war. While most of the crew were rescued, one young man had died. For Mr. Hodgson that was enough death to last a lifetime.

* * * * * * * * * *

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Send us a memory of someone we have recently profiled on the Obituaries page. Please include I Remember in the subject field.

Associated Graphic

Stuart Hodgson holds a young Justin Trudeau in his arms to help him look at a painting of an Inuit hunter.


While he was commissioner, Mr. Hodgson embraced life in the North, travelling widely in the region.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Resourceful NFL creates itself anew every day
As the league holds its 50th Super Bowl, it continues to evolve into the most rapacious sports league in the world. And it never looks backward
Saturday, February 6, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S1

TORONTO -- Just a couple of days into the relentless slog that is the week leading up to the Super Bowl, Cam Newton was already losing it.

Five years after he was drafted, the Carolina Panthers quarterback has finally become the face of the league. Few have ever seemed so fitted to the role. The men he takes over from - Tom Brady and Peyton Manning - come off in public as dour functionaries. Everything they say sounds as though it was being read aloud from a lawyer's statement.

Newton comes off as cuddly and spontaneous. He has the gift of seeming to enjoy himself even when he's doing things that bore him. That quality lasted just a few hours into his first Super Bowl experience.

Upon being asked for the 10,000th time a question that amounts to "How awesome is it to be you?" Newton smiled ruefully. "You know what's confusing? How can I reword questions I've been asked so many times? Nothing has changed since I saw you guys 24 hours ago."

It is hard to properly convey the pointless drudgery that is the NFL's pre-Super Bowl media routine. For an entire week, you ask the same questions of the same people so that they can give you the same answers. All that changes is the venue.

The stars get pushed up onto a podium. Theirs is the lesser pain. The B-list guys are planted alone at tables, where they will sit for an hour or two being completely ignored. Generally speaking, the result of this interaction is journalism so banal and flavourless, it ought not to exist.

Nevertheless, it does. Though nothing more can possibly be known about Cam Newton and his choice of pants, more is told.

This is because the NFL - alone among all the sports leagues in the world - has no appetite for reflection. With good reason, no league is as frightened of its own past.

And so it must create itself anew every single day, even when it is using the same dreck from the day before.

This week, the New York Times ran a story about the North Carolina man who owns the only recording of Super Bowl I, played in 1967. It was taped by his father on a precursor to the household VCR.

For years, the man, Troy Haupt, has been trying to sell the video to the NFL. That seems like a straightforward transaction, but the league isn't interested.

Haupt made a deal to broadcast a portion of the recording in a CBS news piece leading into Sunday's game. He was to be paid $25,000 (U.S.). The deal fell apart because, Haupt claims, the NFL intervened.

The league's lawyers have warned him that, while he may own the recording, he does not hold the copyright to its contents.

Any infringement on that copyright will result in Haupt facing "injunctive relief and special damages." Haupt has asked the league if they can sell the tape jointly, and split some of the money with charity. No dice.

Essentially, the NFL is censoring its own creation myth.


Because the NFL does not look backward. It's dark back there and nobody likes it.

Though they work a good line about family and belonging (including our semi-annual reminder that the Green Bay Packers are "community owned"), the NFL is the most shamelessly rapacious sports league in creation. No other is run so much like a widget factory - making players and fans the interchangeable widgets.

The 2015-16 season has been a long reminder of this fact.

The league is just emerging from the abating storm over brain injuries, having done nothing substantive to fix the problem (because the problem is that getting hit in the head is bad for you.

It is also the whole point of football).

The league knows the truth that dare not be spoken - that people enjoy watching other people risk (and occasionally suffer) catastrophic injury. It's exciting. It feels real. Most of those who complain the loudest are also avid consumers of the product - which must be an especially electric emotional frisson.

All we ask is that they die off screen, which they're kind enough to do.

We can collectively rend our garments over the unfairness of all this, but it's not changing. As long as there are young men willing to trade their health for a few years of celebrity and decent money, there will be millions people aching to watch them do it. TV ratings do not lie.

The league doesn't like to talk about this because, from a marketing standpoint, mental collapses and humiliating deaths are not winning topics. Any discussion of the past now inevitably winds around to the plight of all those deceased former players.

Two weeks ago, it was a littleknown New York Giants backup, Tyler Sash, only 27. This week, we heard that one of the league's iconic early personalities, Kenny Stabler, had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Every time the NFL takes a stroll down memory lane, it ends up in a graveyard. So they don't do that.

The other theme to the year was forced renewal.

Twenty years ago, when the Rams left Los Angeles for Missouri, they blamed a bad stadium deal and a shrinking fan base.

Now current team owner Stan Kroenke has used the same rationale to move the club out of St. Louis and back to L.A.

The Oakland Raiders, who've also left L.A. once, would like to share Kroenke's new arena, or maybe one in Las Vegas. So would the San Diego Chargers. They've named Kroenke's new pleasure palace City of Champions Stadium. It's in Inglewood, where the Lakers used to play. Until they left.

Teams move in other leagues, but they tend to do so under real financial duress.

No league bounces teams around like the NFL, despite the fact that none of them is hurting financially. The Rams are among the league's least valuable franchises, and they're still worth $1.5billion (U.S.). Kroenke paid half that for the club only six years ago. In order to move the club, he must pay other owners a $550million relocation fee. Though he's free to supply it in yearly instalments over a decade, Kroenke plans to write a cheque for the full amount.

The Rams left L.A. for St. Louis because the city wouldn't pay for a new building and then just give it to them. Then they left St. Louis for L.A. for the same reason. It's a pretty nifty con.

A few years from now, they'll do it again. Green Bay aside, no group of teams is less rooted in the communities they entertain.

NFL clubs are mercenary outfits, floating from port to port looking to pillage the tax base for as long as they're tolerated. Then they move on.

This happens because the NFL is not a local concern. Its audience will consume any sort of football, played by any team from anywhere. People will watch the St. Louis Rams or the L.A. Rams or the Mexico City Rams. The only trick is keeping the uniform colours consistent.

Even the locale of the Super Bowl - played in a neutral site - reinforces that separation between people and the teams they support. If you want to watch your team play for a championship, you go to them. They don't come to you.

And so the league can't spend a bunch of time moonily looking back at great teams of the past.

Too often, they were yanked out from under their own fans.

If you can't talk about former players and former teams, it's awfully hard to talk about anything that happened in the past.

And so, why bother?

That forces the NFL to become exclusively forward looking, often insufferably so. This is the "Let's discuss the match-ups" league.

These people go deep, but in the shallowest possible way. No team sport is more strategic and none is poorer at explaining it to you.

After suffering through a full afternoon of Phil Simms's jabbering incoherently about play selection, everyone has the same thought: "How did this guy find his way out of the parking lot, never mind how did he play quarterback?" He's just one offender among hundreds, including every current player and coach. The entire enterprise is floated on constant, mindless chatter. The NFL is that person who will not let you out of a conversation, for fear you'll wander off and talk to someone else. So it just keeps speaking without saying a thing.

You only start to really notice during this run-up week. The sad thing? It works.

It works because the Super Bowl is the last remaining date on the sports calendar that feels like a genuine event. The NFL lucked into a commodity no other league has the advantage of - scarcity. By the time the baseball, hockey and basketball seasons reach their crescendo, you've watched a lot of baseball, hockey and basketball. If you're not deeply invested in the competitors, you've probably watched too much.

This will be only the 19th game the Panthers and Broncos play this year. You needn't feel supportive about either team. The vast majority of Super Bowl viewers are neutrals. You suspect many of them don't care all that much about football. They just want to be part of a shared societal moment. In 2016, in the midst of our fractured cultural landscape, not caring about the Super Bowl feels a little too much like not caring about anything.

That instinct has its own inertia.

It keeps drawing you back, year after year. It requires minimal effort on the league's behalf. All it needs do is count on the human desire to be one of the gang.

It also requires no reflection or real connection to what's happening or who's doing it. On Sunday, you may want to see Peyton Manning win one more or see Newton win his first. Next year, it'll be different characters and you'll have your reasons to root for or against them. The cast is constantly renewable and easily forgettable.

Once football has ground them up, they either retire to a broadcaster's booth or disappear altogether. One way or the other, none of them, not even the greatest, is necessary. The NFL doesn't have Joe DiMaggios or Gordie Howes or Michael Jordans.

Instead, it has the shield, which is immutable, existing outside of eras and history.

That corporate culture of forgetting is the league's great strength, and the source of its ruthless expansionism. They've recognized that football isn't a heritage.

It's an unbreakable habit.

Follow me on Twitter: cathalkelly

No Drake, no problem at Fring's
Saturday, February 6, 2016 – Print Edition, Page M4

The guest of honour had stood us up again, and no one was willing to say it. You could feel it though, around that bar, throughout that room, in the faint hope behind the liquored smiles, at the tables that lingered longer than strictly necessary.

You sure it was here?

The party girls in the barely there dresses kept looking toward the entrance.


The hip-hop boys in the indoor tuques stared down into their cellphones. He used to call.

That we were supposed to wait?

The band kept on teasing, a drum and a bass and a jazz guitar in a slow, cool, sexy neo-soul jam, ratcheting up the expectation.

Maybe he wasn't coming after all. Maybe it was us who'd done him wrong.

But then the guitarist threw the crowd a crumb above the vamping: a single unmistakable, tension-busting chorus.

I know when that hotline bling.

The girls in the barely there dresses quietly shrieked.

That can only mean one thing.

The hip-hop boys in the indoor tuques looked up from their cellphones toward the girls and smiled. All of Fring's was waiting for Mr. OVO, but who were we kidding to think he'd show in his own restaurant? Tonight his music would have to do.

Drake became a restaurateur last fall in classic Drake fashion.

There was no announcement and no preopening hype - just a starpacked party at the end of September in the former Crush Wine Bar on King Street West, with October's Very Own, as Drake and his crew are known, in the DJ booth, spinning for the night.

Fring's, as the place is called, has been packed with would-be groupies almost ever since.

The business is a partnership with chef Susur Lee, the designer Brenda Bent and their sons, Kai and Levi Bent-Lee, who also run Bent restaurant on Dundas Street West. The Lee-Bent-Bent-Lee family provides the cooking, the design and the management, and Drake provides his aura from afar. Shockingly, perhaps, the place isn't bad. It's exactly what a modern, downtown Toronto theme restaurant and bar should be.

Ms. Bent's design is the first success: She is a master of the half-hidden, exquisite detail. Notice the taxidermied exotic birds behind the perforated screening in Fring's second-storey entryway, and the glowing, saloonstyle chandelier made not from crystal but, ingeniously, from clear plastic coat hangers that absorb and diffract the room's soft light. There are red-tasselled boudoir lamps above the blackleather booths in the back, by the bar, where they send out cloying cocktails in a seemingly unending stream.

Up front, closer to King Street, the walls are adorned with huge, wrought-iron crosses, as if Ms. Bent stopped in at a forgotten, Crusader-era cemetery on her way to work one morning. It's a loud, comfortable, mostly friendly lounge and restaurant on King Street West. What the place doesn't have much of is the usual theme-restaurant memorabilia.

Fring's is Drake's restaurant only because everybody knows it is, from Instagram and Twitter - because the people are all too happy to take it on faith.

Downstairs, though, by the restrooms, there are a couple of sops, in the form of a wall-sized neon installation that reads "6 on! A" above a giant wave (it's a not-so-sly reference to Drake's nickname for Toronto, combined with the title of a recent hit).

That sign is often wholly obscured by selfie-taking women.

And the directives on the bathroom doors read "6 Gods" and "6 Goddesses," which are also Drake references, and so the restroom doors, too, are often obscured by selfie-takers, which is odd, if you ask me, but to each her own, I guess.

The service varies. The busboys mostly look like budding MMA fighters, all scary tats and blackplastic earpieces. You're never quite sure if they're here to fill your water glass or snap your clavicle in three. Others among the servers are kind, solicitous, indifferent or forgetful. And then there's also Kevin. "I'll be your charismatic waterboy this evening," Kevin told us the first time I ate there. Kevin is charming and bossy and he hip-hop gestures with his hands as he talks to customers. Kevin couldn't stop flirting with my date.

"And have either of you dined at Fring's or any of the Susur restaurants?" he asked her, almost as if I didn't exist. No, we answered, lying.

"All right, well let's make it special because it's your first time," he said. "The first time should be special."

"Are you going to pop our Susur cherry," my dinner date said right back.

Kevin, bless him, didn't miss a beat. "We're going to start off slowly, you're going to be unsure if this is right and then it's just going to feel amazing and you're going to want more," he answered.

With those introductions done, he took us into the menu. "The idea is the food is so good that you're going to want to try a bit of everything," he said.

Yet by "everything," Kevin did not mean to include the cocktails. "I feel I can say this to you guys, our cocktails aren't that good," he said.

As for the sake: "We have one really damn good bottle of sake, stay away from the other ones," he said. One of them, Kevin told us, tastes like "a rice punch in the face."

As for the wine: "Don't get the by-the-glass wine. The by-theglass wines are only drinkable.

I'm not going to let you drink this only-drinkable wine." The crab cakes are good but too small, he advised us, while the lobster and truffle poutine special is dope, and the oysters would be a mistake. "No don't get the oysters!" he shouted when I tried to order them. "It's not oyster season, they're Blue Point, they're not that good."

Which - it is prime oyster season at the moment, actually, and the Blue Points right now are excellent, but I didn't bother correcting him. Sincerely, I love this kid.

I love a charming, bossy waiter. A charming, bossy waiter makes you feel as if you're in able hands.

This last bit, of course, can be an issue at Fring's, because Fring's is a Susur Lee restaurant.

Susur Lee is merely a figurehead lately - if his hands are still able, you would hardly have cause to know. The menu he's created at Fring's beet salad, served with whipped goat's cheese and roasted apples, is exactly what it needs to be: fresh, bright and tasty. The salmon crudo, seasoned with ponzu and bits of green apple, is very good, and the "Mom's Meatballs" - I asked whose mom one evening, but our server didn't know or care - were just meatballs, plain but good ones, in a thick, rich, brightred marinara sauce. The crispy chicken sliders are crispy chicken sliders: You'll like them if you like them. The Susur Burger is a soft, juicy, cheesy, manhandleable $22 cheeseburger; it's good if not particularly memorable. It comes with Jamie Kennedy fries.

The fried chicken was unmoist and overbattered, and the batter had all sorts of herbs in it and it sloughed off in big, doughy flakes before you could get the chicken to your mouth. That fried chicken cost $28. The toasts, though, were excellent: piles of good ingredients, fresh cheese, or soft avocado, seasoned perfectly, and served on thick, dense slices of Forno Cultura toast.

The truffle pappardelle costs $40 and was passably good but didn't taste like much. If you spend $40 on a plate of pasta in a restaurant that also serves crispy chicken sliders, you get what you deserve. The whole fish is a better idea. The seared, sort-of almondine branzino was terrific when I tried it one night.

As for the crab cakes, Kevin was right: They are small and you get only three of them for your $24, but what he didn't mention is that they come stuffed with melted brie, and set over puréed black garlic. I loved them. The butter-poached lobster poutine with shaved black truffles was not great, not bad, not dope, but good enough. The truffles looked as though they'd been scraped through a box grater, which is an odd way to treat a truffle if it's any good.

For dessert, do try the "caramel monkey bread," which may sound infantilizing but tastes a little like a sticky toffee pudding, served with clotted cream, salted caramel and an excellent hazelnut ice cream. Or get the molten chocolate cake. Really. There can't be shame in a place like Fring's.

When we finally left some time before midnight, we'd still seen no sign of him, but the band, which was excellent, had riffed on Hotline Bling twice since we'd arrived, and had played a bunch of D'Angelo, also, and one of the boys in the indoor tuques was now sitting across from one of the barely dressed girls.

I pushed my way into the 6 Gods room and then out into the night and scanned up and down King Street for Drake's Bugatti Veyron. I didn't see it.

It had been a really good time.

Follow me on Twitter: @cnutsmith



455 King St. W. (at Spadina Avenue), 416-979-9696,

Atmosphere: A very cool, very loud, surprisingly swanky restaurant and lounge, filled at all hours with King West professionals and hip-hop groupies. Live music on Wednesdays. Who seen Drizzy yet, yo?

Wine and drinks: A decent, California-heavy wine list with many usual suspects; good sake, very sweet cocktails (go off-menu; classic martinis and negronis are excellent) and no beer.

Best bets: Beet salad, salmon tartare, the burger, ricotta toast, avocado toast, whole branzino, caramel monkey bread.

Prices: Appetizers, $10 to $24; mains $24 to $40.

Fring's is the menu of a newly graduated culinary student, a month or two out of George Brown chef school. It is good in spots and less good in others, but either way, it isn't even remotely the work of a once world-leading innovator. Does that matter? It probably doesn't. That Susur Lee is the putative chef here is all but irrelevant to the experience of being at Fring's.

Associated Graphic

Fring's, brought to you by Drake and Susur Lee, is exactly what a modern, downtown Toronto theme restaurant should be.


Stratford Festival's elder statesman
Veteran supporting player inspired Jon Lovitz's Saturday Night Live character Master Thespian
Special to The Globe and Mail
Monday, January 25, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S8

Colm Feore shared a favourite joke with William Needles. Whenever Mr. Feore saw the elderly actor in a theatre or on the street in Stratford, he'd hail him with a line from Shakespeare: "Are you yet living?" Mr. Needles would invariably erupt with laughter.

That wisecrack, from the opening scene of Much Ado About Nothing, is originally spoken by Benedick to Beatrice with mock amazement, but there was some real amazement behind Mr. Feore's teasing. After all, Mr. Needles was in his 90s and had been a member of the Stratford Festival company since its tent-by-the-river origins in 1953. He had only quit acting in 2006, at the age of 87, and continued to attend all the festival shows. And his surname was all too appropriate: His memory for Shakespearean text was needle-sharp right up to the very last.

Mr. Needles died Jan. 12, 10 days after his 97th birthday, at a hospice in Alliston, Ont. He had recently been moved there from Stratford General Hospital, where he had been convalescing after suffering a massive heart attack on Dec. 19. During his time in hospital, Mr. Feore had gone to visit him, along with fellow Stratford leading man Geraint Wyn Davies, who'd done a memorable production of Henry V with Mr. Needles in 1989.

"We'd been given to understand that Bill was ailing," Mr. Feore recalled, "but the moment he spotted Ger, he launched into the Chorus from Henry V." They ended up listening to Mr. Needles reminisce about his experiences in the Second World War and gamely trade more Shakespearean dialogue with them until his daughter Jane gently asked the men to leave and let her father rest.

"But we made him laugh and had fun," Mr. Feore said. "He seemed like the old Bill. And he loved being around actors. He loved sharing his stories of the festival and giving us guidance and reminding us all of why we were there."

Mr. Needles was not only a living record of the festival's history, but a distinguished actor himself, a respected acting teacher for many years at University of California, Irvine, and a co-founder of the Actors' Fund of Canada. His achievements netted him a Queen's Jubilee Medal and membership to the Order of Canada, among other honours. To generations of young performers, however, he was simply lovable "Billy Noodles," the sage to whom you could turn for advice, insight and paternal reassurance.

"Many people called him 'father' or 'daddy,' outside of his own family," said Jane Needles, the eldest of his five children. "And that's what he was like - he had that special capacity to be a mentor to others."

George William Needles was born Jan. 2, 1919, in Yonkers, N.Y., the eldest child of Marian (née Westover) and Ira Needles. When he was six, the family moved to Kitchener, Ont., where William and his two siblings, Lauranna and Myron, grew up. Mr. Needles's father was an impressive figure. Ira Needles was an Iowa farm boy who left home as a teenager and climbed the corporate ladder to become president of B.F. Goodrich Canada.

He was later a founder and the second chancellor of the University of Waterloo, and would serve as a member of the Stratford Festival's board of governors from 1957 to 1960.

His father was a hard act to follow and Mr. Needles later said he chose acting "out of desperation" as a way to avoid going to business school. "I knew I couldn't compete with my father, who was a very accomplished and powerful man," he recalled in a 2005 video interview for Theatre Museum Canada. After lecturing him on the pitfalls of the acting profession, Ira Needles insisted his son get the best training possible and sent him to the Art Institute of Chicago's Goodman School of Drama.

Following graduation, Mr. Needles did a stint as an actor/stage manager in Winnipeg before coming back east to Toronto, where in 1940 he landed the male lead in the CBC Radio soap opera John and Judy. The show would become the first of his long-running engagements, lasting 14 years, although early on he took a four-year break to serve in the war.

In the wake of Pearl Harbour, Mr. Needles enlisted in the U.S. Army and was shipped out to the Pacific. "Pop was nearsighted and very unathletic," said his son, playwright Dan Needles, with a chuckle. "But he could type, drive a Jeep and play the organ, so they made him a chaplain's assistant." He took part in the Battle of Okinawa and saw Tokyo after it was fire-bombed. Dan Needles said his father never forgot the devastation he witnessed: "He had a survivor's guilt about it - that he'd got off easily compared to others."

After his discharge, Mr. Needles returned to Toronto and, in 1946, married his wartime pen pal, Dorothy-Jane Goulding, daughter of Dorothy Massey Goulding, director of the seminal Toronto Children's Players. The couple eventually had five children. It was also in Toronto where Mr. Needles auditioned for the celebrated British director Tyrone Guthrie, who was hiring local actors for the first season of the Stratford Festival.

Joining that fabled early company, Mr. Needles learned the art of Shakespearean acting from Mr. Guthrie's imported stars, including Alec Guinness and Irene Worth, and mingled with such young up-and-comers as Bruno Gerussi, Christopher Plummer and William Shatner. He landed a leading role by chance in the second season, when Mr. Guthrie tapped him to play Petruchio in a Wild West staging of The Taming of the Shrew after Mavor Moore dropped out.

"It was the most horrific time I've ever been through," he recalled in his 2005 video interview, noting that he had only a few weeks to learn the part. "Without the assistance of Barbara Chilcott [who played Kate], and her two brothers ... I wouldn't have made it. They'd take me out in the fields at night and rehearse the lines with me."

Whether or not that experience scarred him, Mr. Needles thereafter preferred to be a supporting player. "He wasn't comfortable in leading roles," Mr. Feore said. "He told me he found immense gratification in doing the detailed work of a supporting actor. And he did it with such grace and so deftly. He could bring the wealth of his experience into just a few lines."

Mr. Needles spent 47 seasons at Stratford, taking on more than 100 parts. He was always generous to younger actors, Mr. Feore said, recalling with some embarrassment how, while rehearsing the role of the mad king Leontes for the 1986 production of The Winter's Tale, he threw Mr. Needles, who was playing the courtier Antigonus, around the stage. "When I apologized later he said, 'No, no, dear boy, that's perfectly fine. You must do what you have to do to find the character.' It was such a courageous and kind thing to do."

At the same time, Mr. Needles was no pushover. "He would not put up with any dictatorial directors," Stratford artistic director Antoni Cimolino recalled, "and he was willing to walk out on a production if he didn't like the people he was working with."

Outside the festival, Mr. Needles acted on Broadway in the 1969 hit Hadrian VII with Alec McCowen and on film and television - notably as Banquo to Sean Connery's Macbeth in a 1961 CBC production of Shakespeare's "Scottish play." In 1974, Mr. Needles began a lengthy association with the University of California, Irvine, as a visiting lecturer in drama, where his students included a young Jon Lovitz. Mr. Needles became the inspiration for the comedian's Saturday Night Live character Master Thespian, an affectionate parody of grand Shakespearean actors. The two stayed in touch and spoke on FaceTime when Mr. Needles was convalescing. "He was the kindest, nicest man. ... A great actor," Mr. Lovitz wrote on Twitter when he heard Mr. Needles had died.

Mr. Needles and his wife, Dorothy-Jane, a playwright and broadcaster, lived apart. "They were much happier in their own spaces," Jane Needles said. The Needles children spent much of their childhood on a farm near Rosemont, Ont. - an inspiration for Dan Needles's popular Wingfield Farm plays - with their father driving up from Stratford to visit them between shows. Dan and Jane, a veteran arts administrator, followed in their parents' footsteps, although Dan said his father hardly encouraged a life in the theatre. "It never occurred to me that you could make a living at it because he complained about it so much."

It was out of that keen appreciation of the precarious nature of his profession that Mr. Needles helped start the Actors' Fund of Canada, in the 1950s. The organization continues to provide financial assistance for artists in need. He also owned a big old house in Stratford where actors were always welcome to stay. "He was a beautiful man with such a big heart," Jane Needles said. "He'd give the shirt off his back."

Mr. Needles leaves his wife; his children, Jane, Arthur, Dan, Reed and Laura; 15 grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and his sister, Lauranna Jones.

The Stratford Festival is planning a tribute to Mr. Needles in the spring and has dedicated this year's production of As You Like It to his memory.

Mr. Cimolino said the festival will miss his delicious sense of humour and the example he set for how to speak and act Shakespearean verse. But most of all, Mr. Feore added, it will miss him as a living link with its past: "With his stories, he gave us some comfort, some sense of baton-passing. He was telling us, 'Listen, this is not ground that has never been walked over before. You're among friendly ghosts.' "

* * * * *

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Associated Graphic

William Needles stars as Castruchio in the Stratford Festival's production of The Duchess of Malfi in 2006.


Mr. Needles plays Petruchio in the Stratford Festival's 1954 production of The Taming of the Shrew. Mr. Needles, centre, is seen with fellow actors Douglas Campbell and Barbara Chilcott.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

His whole adult life, Gary Mason wished he could ski. Each attempt ended in disaster until, at age 60, he vowed to give the bunny hill one last shot
Monday, January 25, 2016 – Print Edition, Page L1

Growing up in Southwestern Ontario, my friends and I did not give a second's thought to skiing. The one and only time I tried strapping two planks to my feet was on a high-school field trip in the early 1970s. I remember burning my hands on a rope tow, then tumbling ass-over-tea-kettle on my journey down the hill.

For the rest of the afternoon, I hung out behind a burger shack with some buddies who were passing around a mickey of Lemon Gin.

When I moved out to Vancouver in my early 20s, everyone skied, or so it seemed. People talked about Whistler, the world-renowned skiing mecca 90 minutes north of town, in an almost spiritual way. I decided to give it a shot.

The day my pals and I arrived in town coincided with a nasty rainstorm. It was February, 1980, and the weather was so bad they closed all the lifts. Determined to get at least one run in so we could say we "skied" at the famous resort, a few of us trudged a couple hundred yards up the mountain and then attempted to ski down. I recall staying upright for about five seconds (it may have been less) before hitting the ground with a terrible thud that sent me sliding on my back 50 yards down the hill. I then had to make the ignominious expedition back up the mountain to retrieve my scattered skis and poles.

In the intervening years, I would inevitably bump into someone going skiing and find myself annoyed that I had not given the sport another chance. Or worse, I would find myself in Whistler on work-related business and feel like the world's most pathetic poser. Sitting in a bar, I prayed no one asked about conditions on the hill that day. Year after year, I vowed to take lessons but never did.

And then I turned 60.

The big 6-0, which I hit last August, was like no other birthday I'd experienced. I found it - what are the words? - profoundly depressing. My colleague Ian Brown captured the dark mood and pangs of angst it can generate in his brilliant book Sixty. One line in it resonated with me: "How much life can you live in the fourth quarter, not knowing when the game itself might end?"

To cope with this dubious milestone, I made a list of all the things I wanted to do while I was still in decent shape and of sound mind. Topping it was learning to ski. I bounced the idea off a few friends; most gave me the kind of wincing look that said: "Poor boy's already losing it." One said it was a lost cause - skiing was too difficult and intimidating a sport to take up after 50. Stubborn ass that I am, I was more determined than ever to press on.

I contacted the folks at Whistler-Blackcomb and told them what I wanted to do: learn to ski at 60. I also said I was going to chronicle my experience, good or bad. They loved the idea and set me up with the equipment I would need and also an affable and highly capable instructor - Tom Radke. We would spend three days together on the slopes, which was a colossal benefit. (Whistler-Blackcomb offers group lessons of up to four people, which are a great and much cheaper option.)

Tom is a bear of a man who learned to ski growing up in Sault St. Marie, Ont. Like many, he would come West and never return. Once he saw what real mountains looked like, and once he experienced the ecstasy of skiing down them, that was it. It became an addiction. Over time, he would become an in-demand instructor in both Canada and the United States.

One of the first things he asked me was whether I had played hockey growing up. I had. This, I would discover, would be an enormous advantage in learning how to ski. Day 1 was mostly spent on the bunny hill. Actually, we didn't even go to the bunny hill at first; we went to a bunny patch, which was mostly flat but did contain elevation changes of six inches or so. There, Tom taught me how to feel comfortable on one ski, then two, and then we quickly graduated to a snow plow - forming an inverse V with your skis - which is the elementary way to stop. After mastering that, we hopped on a chairlift so we could practise the snow plow on something resembling a real hill.

This went fine. The only thing remotely upsetting was watching all the three- and four-year-old kids whizzing by me. There were literally dozens, coming from everywhere. It's shocking, actually, how young kids are when they start this sport. It's even more astonishing when you see the kind of runs they are going down - ones so steep that when I eventually faced one myself, I was paralyzed with fear.

On Day 2, Tom taught me the essentials of turning. This is where my skating skills came in handy. (It's all about the ankles.) he motions were familiar to me, even if I had five-foot slabs of fibreglass attached to my feet. I did well, despite catching the edge of my ski blade a few times in the snow and going for a tumble. On my third and final day, Tom took me further up Blackcomb where, he assured me, there was a run he thought I could handle. I wasn't so sure. And when I had my first look at some of the drop-offs I was going to have to travel over, I felt sick - although I never displayed any hint of my nervousness to my supremely confident instructor.

Having said that, fear is a legitimate emotion. Skiing is not without its risks, especially as you get older. And you have to know and accept this. Broken bones, or worse, can happen, especially if you're not aware of your surroundings. A good helmet is a must. The better shape you are in off the mountain, the better chance you have of succeeding on it.

There are no official numbers on how many people older than 60 are downhill skiing in Canada today. In the United States, the National Ski Areas Association reported that just more than 5.3 per cent of skiers visiting American hills last year were older than 60. When I was in Whistler, I caught up with Wendell Moore, 67, who runs a senior ski team program at the resort for anyone 55 and older.

When it began, in 2003, only seven people took part, Moore told me. Most had skied before but wanted to continue in a group setting of like-aged adults. Today, Moore has more than 250 in the program, with six older than 80. "And many are excellent, excellent skiers, including a few over 80," Moore told me. "Today, with the way they make and design skis, the sport is easier than it's ever been."

Besides, when you're over the hill, you pick up speed. (Old ski joke, apparently.)

You don't want to hear about how I coped with some of the more technical aspects of skiing, and what was involved in mastering them (or beginning to). You want to know how I did; whether I overcame the physical and psychological impediments my age placed in my way. The answer is I passed the test with flying colours. And it gave me a unique joy I hadn't felt in a while.

Why? The supreme rush of shushing down a ski slope, the wind hitting your face, the mountain scene spread out in all its glory before you. There is nothing like it. I was irritated that I'd waited so long to experience this feeling, and delighted that I fought the ennui that settles in with age, ignored the impulse to take a pass on things that seem remotely scary or even dangerous.

Now, I am forced to say here (my instructor insisted, seriously) that not everyone my age (or just on either side of it) who is contemplating learning to ski will enjoy the same success, at least immediately. I have an athletic background, played a lot of sports. I stay in reasonable shape. I have strong legs. This likely helped me avoid the sore muscles I fully anticipated having after each day on the slopes. There were a few bruises from falling, however.

And as I mentioned, years of skating was a considerable asset. You bend your ankles to turn in hockey in much the same way you do when you ski. I found I could come to a full stop with my skis the same way I do with my skates. That said, I believe most anyone can do what I did with time and motivation.

I can see joining a program such as Wendell Moore's one day, but not yet. I have lost time to make up for. I need to get better. I need to put some miles under my skis. But I've discovered that learning the sport has opened up an entire new world. Now I spend my time researching equipment and techniques. I'm looking for a new ski jacket, to replace the hand-me-down snowboard coat that one of my kids loaned me for my ski lessons.

It is possible to breathe new life into an old body and in the process feel exhilarated in a way you haven't for a long time. In fact, I can't wait to get back up to Whistler, to feel the power and energy the town and the sport give me. And I can't wait to be sitting in some bar afterward, hoping someone asks how I found the conditions.

* * * * *

Gary Mason is a national affairs columnist for The Globe and Mail based in Vancouver.

Associated Graphic

Gary Mason lives 90 minutes south of Whistler Blackcomb, a world-famous resort, but had never taken a ski lesson.


Gary Mason, shown here on Whistler-Blackcomb mountain, was astonished to see kids whizzing down slopes that left him paralyzed with fear.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Putting the personal in the professional
Mark Rose Chairman and CEO, Avison Young
Saturday, February 6, 2016 – Print Edition, Page B3

TORONTO -- Mark Rose arrived as chief executive of Avison Young armed with a methodical plan to expand the small Canadian company into the world's fastestgrowing real estate firm.

There was only one thing he forgot to consider: his health.

By 2013, five years of constant travel - he gets on a plane four to five times a week to oversee the company's aggressive growth - had taken its toll on his body.

"You get on a plane, you entertain, you eat meals, you have wine, you don't watch yourself," says the 52-year-old father of three, who regularly commutes to Avison Young's Toronto head office from his home in Chicago.

Co-workers began asking him about his health. So did one of his board members from the private equity firm that purchased a minority stake in his company.

Then Mr. Rose returned from a trip to France, sick with the flu, and found a package on his doorstep.

He had gotten an opportunity to play a round of golf with Phil Mickelson and had received a commemorative gift in the mail that included an autographed photo of himself with the famous golfer.

"Phil's not a small guy, and I looked at the picture of the person next to him and I said: 'I got it,' " he says.

He put himself on a low-carb diet - no bread, no pasta, no alcohol - and ran his first triathlon that August. He has since lost 62 pounds.

"I'm back playing ice hockey, which makes me so happy," he says over lunch, flashing his Apple watch - one of several fitness trackers he owns. He's having the lobster cobb salad, which he eats every time he dines at E11even restaurant near Avison Young's office in Toronto's South Core neighbourhood.

Having overhauled his lifestyle, Mr. Rose set about to do the same with his company. At an employee meeting in Vancouver, he threw out his prepared speech and instead launched a corporate wellness program.

He now mentors employees who are also struggling to get healthy, along with those who are coping with tragedies or serious health problems. "I have stories and e-mails that would make you cry at this table," he says, listing off details of employees who are living with cancer, or who are grieving the sudden death of family members.

Incorporating the personal into the professional is a common theme with Mr. Rose.

Since being lured to Avison Young in 2008, he has grown what was previously a collection of four largely autonomous provincial operations with 11 offices and fewer than 300 employees into a merged company with 75 offices spread out across five countries and more than $500million in annual revenue.

Most of Avison Young's growth has come through acquisitions; it has spent more than $100-million buying more than 30 companies since Mr. Rose became CEO. But when he talks about his expansion program, he describes a plan that is less focused on building a real estate business than on creating a cultural movement.

Much of his time doing due diligence in acquisitions is spent on getting to know new recruits, he says, asking about their family, gauging their opinions to make sure they're a cultural fit and letting go those who don't make the cut. He recounts having to fire a new recruit less than 24 hours after hiring him, although he declines to elaborate.

"The entire program is built on something very specific, which is your head matters, but your heart matters more," he says.

Central to Mr. Rose's vision for what he calls "the real estate services firm of the future" is the idea that Avison Young will remain a private company, owned by employees who buy into the firm through annual share offerings, share in the profits and vote on the company's strategic plans.

It's a structure common in other service industries, such as law and accounting, but is rare in real estate, where most large firms are publicly traded.

A career spent rising through the ranks of commercial real estate brokerages south of the border convinced Mr. Rose that the corporate structure of public companies, designed to report their financial performance in 90day increments, was a poor fit with the cyclical nature of commercial real estate, which thrives on long-term relationships with powerful clients.

"Your relationship with your clients are 10 years. You shouldn't be worrying whether you're achieving revenue-generating activities in July versus December.

Heck, it shouldn't matter if it's year 2 or year 5." he says. "Our entire competitive field right now is exactly the opposite."

So far, it seems to have worked.

Avison Young's head count has grown to more than 2,100, including 300 voting principals and another 100 employee-shareholders whose share purchases have helped finance the firm's aggressive expansion.

As much as Mr. Rose describes the merits of collective decisionmaking, the vision for Avison Young is largely based on a strategy that he carefully developed over decades in real estate. When listening to him describe his background, it's clear he has been on a steady, structured path for much of his life.

He grew up in the Queens borough of New York City. His parents, a stay-at-home mom and a carpenter, pushed him to excel, encouraging him to fast-track his high-school education. Academics came easily to him and he graduated high school at the age of 16.

"Looking back, I wouldn't recommend it and I didn't recommend it for my children," he says of graduating early. "My mother and father thought that I could advance; I could basically skip years. But you're actually too young."

He got an undergraduate degree in accounting and planned to enroll in law school, but his parents weren't sure they could afford it. So he got his CPA designation and went to work instead.

He landed a job at Helmsley Enterprises, working for infamous New York real estate titans Harry and Leona Helmsley, whose holdings included the Empire State Building.

There he met his mentor, James Boisi, whom he followed a few years later to Pan American Properties, a real estate company owned by the pension fund of British Coal Corp. He rose to become its CEO when he was just 27, orchestrating the company's move to sell off its nearly $1-billion (U.S.) worth of U.S real estate before the real estate bubble of the early 1990s burst.

His timing was impeccable and the pension fund avoided the worst of the real estate crash. But, as the CEO of a real estate company that no longer owned any real estate, it meant Mr. Rose was out of a job.

He started his own brokerage, but quickly realized he wasn't an entrepreneur, selling the firm to Jones Lang Wood in 1995 to become a partner.

He left in 2005 to become CEO of Grubb & Ellis, a struggling brokerage that had been delisted from the New York Stock Exchange.

He launched a turnaround plan, but it was cut short in 2007 when the brokerage went public through a reverse merger with a firm that specialized in tax-sheltered real estate investments. He left the company that December.

The two firms ultimately proved to be a poor match, and Grubb & Ellis filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

After leaving Grubb & Ellis, Mr. Rose took nine months to put together the strategy he would ultimately implement at Avison Young, and shopped around for a firm willing to accept his vision.

He admits he wasn't deliberately targeting a Canadian firm. But by coincidence, he had agreed to speak at Avison Young's annual meeting in Edmonton in 2008 and, afterward, some of the firm's executives approached him about coming on board.

The company had all the elements he was looking for: It wasn't based in the U.S., it was private and it was employeeowned.

He turned it down. He didn't want his speech to come off as someone angling for a job. But by April, he was back negotiating with Avison Young.

Rivals are suspicious of how long Mr. Rose is able to sustain Avison Young's rapid growth without selling the company or taking it public.

Having found a firm willing to embrace his vision for a different type of real estate enterprise, he's in no rush to cash in any time soon.

"For us, there is no end game," he says. "This is a company that will be built for its future. The young people will eventually buy out the retiring folks. Whoever said there's an end game to a living, breathing company?"


Birthplace: Borough of Queens in New York

Education: BA in accounting from Queens College, City University of New York

Family: Married to Allyson for 33 years. They celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary in November at a steakhouse in Nashville, where Mr. Rose was travelling for work. Two daughters, aged 25 and 22, and a son, 18.

Hobbies: Running, reading, golf. He completed the Three Peaks challenge in the U.K., climbing the tallest peaks in England, Scotland and Wales.

Hopes to do a half marathon on the Great Wall of China and climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Is the assistant coach of Avison Young's recreational hockey team.

Favourite sports team: "I moved to Chicago. I'm still a New York team fan, but if you move to Chicago, you have to love the Cubs. It's a team that hasn't won in 108 years. So I love the Cubs, even though I love the Mets. And I love the Blue Jays."

Words of advice from his mentor, the late James Boisi: "I was blessed to have a mentor who taught me it was my role to teach people to be better than me. Your legacy is to create value in people, companies and culture that you don't shy away from. The other piece of this is keep working really hard yourself and maybe no one will ever catch up to you."

Associated Graphic


New COC head Tricia Smith has Olympian task ahead of her
Saturday, January 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S1

MONTREAL -- When the person everyone wanted to hear arrived at the lectern in a Toronto ballroom last month, the introduction was perfunctory.

"Hi, I'm Tricia Smith, president of the Canadian Olympic Committee," she said, before quickly getting down to business.

It was an unremarkable opening, devoid of fanfare, which was precisely the point.

A Vancouver-based lawyer and former Olympic rower, Smith formally took over from the more bombastic Marcel Aubut in late November and, to some present at the December session for "mission staff" - several hundred coaches, sports administrators and COC types - the contrast in style and tone was striking.

"Marcel would have at least had a warm-up speaker to introduce him," one participant said wryly.

In the weeks since a September sexual-harassment complaint that prompted the 68-year-old Aubut to resign and shook the COC to its core, Smith has taken up the task of reforming the organization, a dominant player in the Canadian amateursport landscape.

She has promised to modernize governance, harassment policy and the administrative structure based on the recommendations of a third-party investigation that revealed "a majority" of the more than 100 people interviewed witnessed or experienced sexual or personal harassment.

People inside and outside the organization note a perceptible shift in approach, but the COC's institutional culture may prove harder to change.

Despite Smith's apologies and assurances of greater transparency during last fall's probe, interviews with current and former employees and officials from other amateur sports bodies paint a portrait of a resolutely clubby organization with a high self-regard and a penchant for opacity.

"That's pretty typical of the Olympic culture internationally," former Olympic champion swimmer Mark Tewksbury said.

"What's interesting is there are signs that's changing [at the IOC level], so maybe Canada has a chance to be a bit of a leader."

The question on many lips is just how far Smith will go.

But as Swimming Canada CEO Ahmed El-Awadi pointed out, while the COC is "bringing in experts, doing the right things and working hard at it, it's not an easy process."

Throughout Aubut's tenure - he was elected president in 2009 - the organization has also become known for its fast-churning cast of employees. Everyone has heard the expression "work hard, play harder." More than one person describes the COC as "work hard, work harder."

"The irony here is that from an outward-facing standpoint, the COC has probably never been better. It's more open to athletes, it's more professional, it provides more services and support," said Tewksbury, the COC's chef de mission at the 2012 London Olympics. "But behind closed doors, the governance has clearly been problematic. ... I would hope that the board would take a hard look at itself. This is not just staff responsibility."

Bruce Kidd, a former Olympic runner and principal of the University of Toronto Scarborough, wondered why "nobody has walked away from that executive and that board."

"I'm not sure they quite get the severity of this. They don't necessarily see it as a giant challenge of governance," said Kidd, who is an honorary member of the COC and has served on committees at the IOC level. He added that the COC has a systemic problem, and that incremental changes will not suffice. "There is going to have to be structural change," he said.

The COC is not known for introspection and critical self-examination.

Unless personnel moves are forthcoming, and there are no indications they are, the people Smith is counting on to help repair the organization will largely be those who were in place during the Aubut era, including CEO Chris Overholt.

That rankles many in the sporting community.

A former Olympian and COC employee, who did not wish to be identified because her present employer has commercial ties to the organization, said it's unlikely the culture will change until it's led by people who are not currently part of the system.

It is an oft-repeated view.

This week did see three staff departures - including chief sport officer Caroline Assalian - but the board and remaining members of the senior executive team are otherwise unchanged.

The COC has yet to confirm Assalian's exit officially or provide the reasons for it.

Such circumspection extends to the organization's business dealings. It does not routinely publish detailed financial statements, and the Canadian Olympic Foundation, the COC's charitable arm, has a C-minus grade from Charity Intelligence Canada, which tracks financial reporting.

It's possible to find critical voices within the COC, which held a three-day staff retreat this week, but many employees are reluctant to discuss the situation with outsiders. When The Globe and Mail left a phone message for one staffer this week, it was returned by the public-relations department.

The same is broadly true of national sport organizations and other amateur sport bodies, which, despite the natural tension in the milieu - the COC and the federally funded Sport Canada are de facto competitors and have long had a fractious relationship - seem less than keen to take on the Olympic committee publicly.

El-Awadi, who strongly supports Smith's efforts, offered an explanation for the relative silence.

"I don't know that anyone is avoiding talking about it. It's more that a lot of what has happened is internal to the COC and people don't have the full picture, and nor should they," he said.

Still, it's clear most amateur sports organizations are not keen to bite the hand that feeds them.

The federal government, via Sport Canada and Own the Podium, is the biggest funder of amateur sport in Canada, but the COC's contributions are far from negligible.

Like other funding bodies, the COC also attaches strings to most of its contributions, which can only be used for narrowly targeted purposes.

Under Aubut, the COC was a prodigious fundraising apparatus, and although it has raised hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years and says 60 per cent of its expenditures are for sport, it is not always clear exactly where the money is going. (The COC's total spending in 2014, the most recent year for which data are available, was about $50.8-million; total receipts were $63.4-million.)

The COC's public disclosures do not provide a detailed breakdown of what each national association receives, but reports from some federations suggest the amounts can vary from almost nothing to millions in a given Olympic year.

According to financial reporting from Own the Podium, which is a partner with the COC in the Canadian Sports Institutes, the COC contributed about $3-million to OTP-supported programs and $4.7-million directly to national sports organizations and the institutes in 2014-15.

A COC spokesman said it can be misleading to consider funding on an annual basis, as both fundraising and expenditures are typically planned over a four-year Olympic interval. He also confirmed the COC, which is a private non-profit corporation, does not typically release sport-by-sport spending.

Sources said the COC also provides management expertise to federations through a sponsorship arrangement with a global consultancy.

The COC also controls much of the national corporate sponsorship money that flows to amateur sports in Canada - an Aubut innovation - and uses its funds to give promotional assistance, hold athlete events and finance things such as performance-related studies.

A board member at an amateur sports federation, who is not authorized to speak publicly on his organization's behalf, said the COC has considerable influence in raising or lowering a sport's profile, and that many sport associations are willing to bow to the national body's wishes because of the economic might created under Aubut.

The national organizations provide a steady supply of members for the COC board and help elect its leaders and, in turn, depend on the COC for support.

Smith, who ran against Aubut under a reform banner in 2009, first became involved with the COC in 1980, and has held roles in Rowing Canada and the international rowing federation.

Although she is universally respected, it's hard to argue that she comes to the job as an outsider.

Smith declined interview requests through a spokesman this week, but the platform document she circulated to voters before last November's election sketches out her ambitions.

"I will re-establish the ethics and values of the COC through inclusive and collaborative leadership built on a foundation of respect and integrity," the document said, promising that "the COC will be a world leader in good governance."

It also pledged to establish "a culture of inclusivity, collaboration and unified focus, a culture that will renew the COC's place of honour among its partners."

Few people doubt Smith's sincerity or integrity.

As Tewksbury, who supports the new president, indicated, she is taking the reins at a propitious time.

The current IOC president, Thomas Bach, has signalled a desire to make the international body - long synonymous with corruption and entitlement - more transparent and upright.

Perhaps that will even include tolerating overt dissent.

As an athlete representative to the IOC board, Tewksbury famously demanded the resignation of then-president Juan Antonio Samaranch in 1999. His reward for speaking up, he says, was to be frozen out of the Olympic family for a decade.

If the COC is ripe for change, there is also a hope that it will ripple beyond the organization's walls and through the main national sporting bodies.

"I'll bet there are 52 boards asking the same question: What are we doing, and how can we be better?" El-Awadi said. "I'm not sure the people who have come forward in the harassment investigation have fully understood the impact they've had. It's going to affect the landscape across the country. ... We need to have uncomfortable discussions, including at the COC, but, the more we have them, the more comfortable they get."

Associated Graphic

Tricia Smith, right, seen presenting snowboarder Maelle Ricker with her team jacket in 2014, has pledged to establish 'a culture of inclusivity, collaboration and unified focus' at the COC.


Nevis - which lives in the shadow of its sister island St. Kitts - boasts empty beaches, more monkeys than people and streets so quiet they don't need traffic signals. Sometimes it's good to be unpopular
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, February 6, 2016 – Print Edition, Page T1

NEVIS, WEST INDIES -- As the ferry from St. Kitts approaches the west side of Nevis, I take in the view of the idyllic volcanic mountain, framed with lush tropical greenery and pearl-coloured sand.

"This is Pinney's, the most popular beach," a friendly local explains, pointing to a few charming shack eateries and a couple of chairs and umbrellas in the distance. Between them is unspoiled coastline, with hardly any passersby, and long stretches of coconut groves. When I mention that, for a popular place, it doesn't look busy at all, he smiles. "There are no crowds in Nevis," he says. "Every beach feels private."

The smaller of the two islands in the country of St. Kitts and Nevis is untouched by mass tourism. There are no casinos or duty-free shops, and roads are free from traffic lights. The island is intimate and easy to explore. Any taxi driver doubles as a guide; with only 93 square kilometres and 12,000 residents, all locals are familiar with every corner.

At the peak of the sugar industry in the 18th-century, Nevis (pronounced Nee-vis) was known as the Queen of the Caribbean, for the island's beauty and social grace of its planter and merchant families.

While the industry is long gone, gorgeous grounds of some historic plantations have been converted into intimate, upscale hotels, which have attracted privacy-seeking celebrities including Meryl Streep, Michael Douglas and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

When Trudeau and his family vacationed in Nevis earlier this year, photos surfaced of him at Sunshine's on Pinney's Beach.

It's one of the island's popular local bars famous for its Killer Bee punch, which is based on a mix of rum and passion fruit juice. "One and you're stung; two, you're stunned; three, it's a knockout," says Sunshine, the owner. The bar was on our mustsee list, too, and we take our Killer Bee cocktails (it stings gently when consumed in small sips) over to one of the large picnic tables to look out over the ocean with our toes in the sand.

Then we enjoy the best thing on Pinney's Beach - the Caribbean Sea itself. While winds are ubiquitous on the other, Atlantic-facing, side of the island, the west side of Nevis is virtually breeze-less. It is a perfect place for young swimmers to gain confidence and for older ones to snorkel. Since the water is as flat as glass, I choose stand-up paddle boarding. The absence of strong currents makes it a relaxing ride with impressive views over to the south end of Nevis' sister island, St. Kitts, and puffy clouds circling the volcanic peaks above the country's capital, Basseterre.

A short walk up the beach from Sunshine's is the Four Seasons Resort, the largest property on the island. Its beautiful waterfront is complemented by the ruins of a former sugar and coconut plantation, bordering the Robert Trent Jones-designed golf course. On the north side of Nevis, Nisbet Plantation Beach Club is centred on the Great House, where Fanny Nisbet met General Horatio Nelson during his service at the Leeward Islands. The couple married at Montpelier Plantation, now another high-end resort, which hosts an exquisite gourmet restaurant in its 300-year-old sugar mill.

The quaint past is also alive outside of the hotels. I encounter it in the tiny city of Charlestown, where traditional houses are decorated with ornate gingerbread fretwork, and the well-restored birth house of U.S. founding father Alexander Hamilton presents exhibits of Nevis over the years. It is not a grand museum in size, but as the only visitor I enjoy undivided attention from the curator.

Many locals suggested we visit the abandoned sugar factory at Hamilton Estate, which, up in the rain forest, often serves as a playground for the island's wildlife. Nevis is one of several Caribbean countries where vervet monkeys, initially brought as pets from Africa, escaped and naturalized in the wild. According to current estimates, there are more monkeys than people in Nevis, so it's easy to find them in trees, bushes or alongside sugar plantation ruins. Social and mischievous, they're quite unfazed by human presence, and might even pose when you pull out a camera.

We spot them after touring the Hamilton Estate ruins, before heading to the other end of the property, where a torch-lined pathway leads to the popular Bananas restaurant. Its brightly coloured main room is dominated by diverse local art and a striking rum bar. Inspired by the historic plantation setting, I order aged rum from Martinique, which I imagine would be closest to the drink of choice back in the day. We take our glasses to the upper terrace and watch the sun set behind the palm-tree tops into the sparkling Caribbean sea.

The deep tones of the 10-year-old rum smell delicious in the gentle breeze, though the taste is intense - I'm not used to drinking a country's colonial heritage.

But when you're in the Caribbean, rum is a way of life, so we make sure to stop in at Mango, which has more than a hundred varietals from Bermuda to Brazil.

Inside the Four Seasons Resort, Mango pairs rum with local seafood, such as snapper, wahoo or mahi mahi. The restaurant also offers signature cocktails such as the Nevisian spirit, which goes down easy with a splash of fresh juices to complement the rum's rich flavour. I enjoy it on Mango's open waterfront deck with a tasty lobster fritter.

While I was busy exploring local culinary traditions, my son became interested in cricket, so we sign him up for a lesson with Carl Tuckett, a former international player and umpire. He offers group and private classes for children, depending on the season. On the Charlestown Secondary School field, my son learns a few basic moves from Tuckett before some local students join in for an impromptu game after their practice. It is a simple setting, with rusty poles and unpainted walls, yet the vibe is hospitable and inviting. "All of Nevis is very calm and friendly," says Tuckett, whose cricket career led him to a five-year stay in England and numerous trips across the world. "A great place to live."

Our last stop before we leave is the sea turtle nesting ground on remote Lover's Beach, at the northwest end of the island. We tour it on a late November evening with Lemuel Pemberton, who started Nevis Turtle Group to monitor the progress of turtle nests and help prevent poaching.

It is the tail end of the season and Pemberton warns us that there might not be much to observe, but we head out anyway, watching as he relocates nests attacked by mongooses and carefully records the number and condition of eggs he finds. As the midnight hour approaches, we are still walking in the dark, across the endless coastline, avoiding rocks and waves, looking for turtles that aren't there.

And then, under a heap of empty shells in the last nest of the night, a baby turtle appears. It is a delicate creature, less than seven centimetres long, with tiny flippers and faint lines on its soft shell, but it moves vigorously in my hands, signalling it's ready to be released. For a few moments we admire a small miracle of nature, a lone baby turtle on a long beach, until it waddles into the gentle waves of the Caribbean and embarks on the journey of life.


If you want to join the local volunteers of the Nevis Turtle Group on their beach-monitoring walks, arrive during the nesting season of leatherback, hawksbill or green turtles from March to November. For details,


Four Seasons Resort Nevis The largest resort on the island includes a golf course, 10 tennis courts, five restaurants and a spa. Their Sea Turtle Conservancy program offers sea turtle day camps for younger guests, as well as a roster of events in July, where turtles are tagged with GPS satellites and released. Rooms from $312 (U.S.), Montpelier Plantation & Beach Intimate and sophisticated, this Relais & Château property is nestled in the exquisite tropical gardens.

From $225, Nisbet Plantation Beach Club The only historic plantation on the beach, with pale yellow cottages along the fairway to the sea. From $435, Nevis Oualie Beach Casual and affordable, this beachfront venue is ideal for water-sport enthusiasts. From $166, .


Bananas Hidden in the lush gardens of Hamilton Estate, this charming venue offers eclectic cuisine, from fresh local lobster linguine to braised Moroccan lamb shanks.

Mango On a deck right above the water, this beach restaurant serves premium seafood, alongside Caribbean favourites such as mango rum barbecue ribs with coconut coleslaw.

Mill Privée For a romantic treat, go for a candlelit dinner at this historic sugar mill, located on Montpelier Plantation. Five-course tasting menu from $95. Sunshine's The local favourite beach shack on Pinney's Beach serves light meals based on freshly caught seafood. .


Museum of Nevis History On Charlestown's Main Street, visit the birth house of Alexander Hamilton and explore Nevisian artifacts through the ages.

Associated Graphic

The volcanic Nevis Peak - which stands at 985 metres - dominates the island's skyline.


Above, people swim in the Caribbean Sea in Long Haul Bay, Nevis. Newcastle Bay and the island of St. Kitts are in the background. Below, an abandoned sugar factory in Nevis often serves as a playground for the island's wildlife.


The Nevisian Heritage Village contains many historical dwellings depicting the evolution of Nevis's social history through housing.


Above, Nevis is one of several Caribbean countries where vervet monkeys, initially brought as pets from Africa, escaped and naturalized in the wild. Below, the absence of strong currents on the west side of Nevis makes for a relaxing stand-up paddle board ride.


'I suppose I'm on a quiet mission'
Designer and shop owner Sydney Mamane believes in the power of a well-fitted wardrobe and in having it produced locally
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, February 6, 2016 – Print Edition, Page L12

A feisty handful of local merchants are stepping up their personal service game to meet the challenge from mega retailers soon opening their doors in Canada. Sydney Mamane, a passionate tailor and designer who fell into fashion when he fi rst moved to Toronto from Montreal, is one of these shopkeepers putting up a fight.

Initially a student of communications, Mamane eventually found himself styling wardrobe for fi lms. His keen eye for style blossomed, and he soon mastered the art of tailoring. Ten years ago, Mamane opened an ultra-hip men's-wear shop on Queen West, featuring a coveted cache of cool European, Japanese, American and Canadian labels. In 2012, he launched his own denim label, United Stock Dry Goods. Mamane's minimalist esthetic and good taste has won him legions of devoted fans who appreciate great fabrications, interesting cuts and outstanding fits. I dropped by Mamane's eponymous emporium, Sydney's, recently to chat about retail's changing landscape, a man's optimum wardrobe, and the mission he's on to celebrate local talent and production.

Why this particular space in this particular part of town?

When we fi rst moved here it was more affordable, so we moved here because it was a little bit easier but I was also able to identify with the demographic in the area. And it was, at the time, changing quite rapidly. I saw the potential in having a store on Queen West when really there weren't that many shops. There were defi nitely no men's stores down here. I saw the opportunity to develop my custom business and then slowly pick up new brands and expose up-and-coming designers and provide a platform for them to show their work. Similar to an art gallery, if you will. We were curating the shop along with our own merchandise to provide something fresh at the time.

Online retailing is red hot these days. What are your thoughts on that?

We have an online component, but it is defi nitely not our strongest suit.

We're more grassroots; we really love to interact with our clients. It's much more helpful to describe what the products are, and the goods you're selling when you're actually feeling it, and trying it on - and there's that sensual interaction with the garment.

The connection you make is very difficult to achieve when you're viewing online or on a blog.

Plus you can offer a point of view that is also quite helpful.

Exactly. So the curation comes across when people are seeing merchandise in a store and they're seeing that the palette and the story develop in the store in relation to the space itself.

It's really a narrative that we try to build from the very beginning, and hopefully people understand that.

I cringe when I hear discussions in the women's arena about "ageappropriate dressing." What's your philosophy about age-appropriate dressing for men? Is there such a thing?

I don't believe there is such a thing.

What is age appropriate? If someone feels comfortable in what they're wearing, then it's age appropriate. I've seen people who peacock and they do it very, very well at an older age.

Some people believe that it's garish when you're younger, and as you get older you're eccentric. Some feel that there's more license to explore as you get older, or it's just wacky when you're younger and you're just a hipster or fashion kid. But what is really the difference?

It's the fit that I think is really key.

These days, when some people opt for bespoke tailoring and others are lucky enough that they can just buy stuff off the rack, what do you think men have to keep in mind?

We work with a specific silhouette here - a slim silhouette. It doesn't mean that someone has to be slim to wear a slim silhouette. People have been wearing tailored garments for hundreds of years. In the Edwardian period, gentlemen still had guts. A lot of people were drinking heavily back then, but regardless, they were still wearing suits that had a high arm hole, a slimmer sleeve, and defi nitely slimmer through the body. There was a leaner silhouette even though it accommodated for a larger gut. So it doesn't necessarily mean that you have to wear oversize clothing to be comfortable. You just need clothing that fits you well to be comfortable.

And it simultaneously looks sharper, so you are winning on both ends. It's just fi nding the person who's able to fit you properly. And that's part of our personalized service.

How big a wardrobe does the average guy need? Do you think less is more for some?

We encourage people to start with a foundation wardrobe. I think where some people go wrong is potentially buying a lot of editorial-type pieces right away and then it ends up being a costume or caricature. If you have foundation pieces, such as just the right navy or charcoal suit - one suit to start if you're not a suit guy - a nice cashmere sweater, a nice pair of raw jeans, the perfect black or white T-shirt depending on your preference, a nice button-down collar shirt, a structured, collared white shirt as well, a black suit... these are all staples in a man's wardrobe. I believe once people have that foundation then they can start exploring with different colours and patterns and textures. Then it's a lot easier to integrate those patterns and textures with the foundation pieces so it makes it really easy to dress. I am a fi rm believer that people shouldn't think too much about what they're going to wear in the morning. It should be natural.

They should just be able to pull out almost anything in their wardrobe and it should go together pretty easily. We have better things to do with our time and our lives then to think about what we're going to wear every day.

What do you think is the prevailing feeling right now, when it comes to attitude in men's dress?

I think it's a combination of attitudes.

I don't think one is completely dominating - not in our shop at least. I know there's been a huge push towards the sartorial aesthetic.

There's no question that suiting has become a little bit stronger for us. Men are enjoying wearing suits again, and not just in a business environment. Quite frankly, a wellfitting suit is quite comfortable and there's a way of styling it so it isn't that stuffy either. It is quite sharp.

Yes, a suit can be dressed up or down in wonderful way.

Absolutely. And likewise, a pair of jeans can be dressed up. I know it sounds crazy but it can be. And people are mixing things up with sport jackets. It's not strictly about suiting in the tailored world.

The retail landscape, in this country particularly, is changing so dramatically, so radically, so frighteningly. But there's a sincerity that I fi nd coming from you, from your shop and from what your brand is emblematic of. How tough is it?

It's extremely difficult because I feel the industry is shifting. It's becoming corporatized essentially from the lowest levels to the highest levels.

So there's less and less room for independents. But the advantage of being an independent is that we're quite nimble and we can shift very, very quickly. We developed our own collections to become more competitive in the market place.

We do made-to-measure to be more competitive in the marketplace as well, and we're shifting more toward a private label scenario. At the moment we're approximately 80 per cent private label, and by the end of 2016, we're going to be about 98 per cent private label. But it makes it all even more difficult, because all our private label is produced locally, and there's a human element to that.

We're looking at local factories, and local people, and a lot of those who work at these factories have families as well. So we don't feel that we're just producing clothing for a store to make money. We feel like it's our responsibility, as an independent retailer, to support local production as much as possible.

You're trying to keep the identity and the integrity of this country intact when it comes to offering services. In this age of globalization, when we are getting overshadowed so quickly, that's admirable.

Yeah, absolutely. And where does the bottom line end? There's always more room to squeeze out margins, but a lot of it has to do with greed.

And if people continue on this road to greediness, then it really is going to strip any type of culture out of this industry and many others.

Besides running your shop, buying merchandise and designing your collections, you still relish sitting at the little sewing machine at the back of your shop sometimes, helping with alterations. You have your fi ngers in all these pies. Why is it so important to you, after all this time?

I believe in it. I always believed in what I was doing. I suppose I'm on a mission. And it's a quiet mission.

It's a small mission. But I believe in supporting what happens locally. I believe in supporting local factories.

I believe in designing and producing locally. And I believe there's something to be said in doing that.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Associated Graphic

LOCAL HERO Designer Sydney Mamane (pictured) produces his private-label clothing locally, something he feels, as an independent retailer, is his responsibility to support. His Queen West shop (above) features fitted men's wear from his own line and other select labels.


Novelist wrote about the lives of women
Her most popular novel, The Book of Eve, was adapted into a play that became a hit at Stratford, starring Jessica Tandy
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, February 6, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S12

In Constance Beresford-Howe's most famous novel, The Book of Eve, published in 1973, the 65year-old heroine tries to explain why she bolted from her long marriage to a demanding invalid husband: "You can't know what it's like to be invisible for years on end. ... Never independent.

Never free, even to use those four-letter words we all know, because the chief duty of females, we were taught, was to practise the restraints of civilization, not explore its possibilities."

Buoyed by the early wave of feminism, at a time when people were more easily shocked than they are today, she wrote lively novels about women at various stages of life, struggling to live unfettered, trying to discover who they really are once they throw off the restraints placed around them by husbands, fathers, society itself.

Her heavy use of dialogue in all her books made them highly readable, while her sense of irony and deft social comedy led to comparisons with the English writer Barbara Pym.

"She was such an independent spirit; under her quiet exterior, she was a doughty little person," said Pat Kennedy, her long-time editor at Macmillan of Canada, of Ms. Beresford-Howe, who stood barely five feet tall. "I remember once the American publisher wanted to change the spellings to U.S. spelling and she just dug her heels in and wouldn't have it.

"I think she is underrated because she was quiet and not flashy. She was very witty, and had a real eye for the moment.

She disliked people who impinged on the independence of others."

Ms. Beresford-Howe died in a hospice in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, England, on Jan. 20, at the age of 93. She had been suffering from an inoperable tumour blocking her digestive tract. She and her husband, Christopher Pressnell, had been residents of Britain for 25 years.

Of her 10 novels, only The Book of Eve has been continuously in print since it first appeared (others are available as e-books), and Eva, the senior citizen who reinvents herself and even finds a much younger lover, has joined Morag Gunn, Anne Shirley, and Del Jordan as one of the bestloved heroines in Canadian letters.

Ms. Kennedy said women approached the author at readings to say that she gave them courage to change their lives.

The book was published in Sweden, the United States, Argentina, Brazil, the Netherlands and Turkey. Adapted for the stage by Larry Fineberg, it was a hit at Stratford in 1976, with Jessica Tandy in the lead role. (Stratford's literary manager at the time, Urjo Kareda, reported that he overheard a man complain at intermission that he hadn't driven all the way from Michigan to hear Ms. Tandy say "shit" on stage.)

The 2002 film version altered the flavour of the book substantially. It starred Claire Bloom as Eva; another English rose, Susannah York, as her friend May; and Québécois heartthrob Daniel Lavoie as the lover, Johnny, changed into a Romanian instead of a Czech immigrant.

Constance Elizabeth BeresfordHowe was born Nov. 10, 1922, in Montreal, the first of two children of Russell and Marjorie (née Moore) Beresford-Howe. Her English-born father was area manager for an insurance company.

Young Constance grew up in the city's Notre Dame de Grâce (NDG) neighbourhood, where she had the advantage of her parents' library, stocked with classics her father had brought from England and 19th-century fiction her mother had acquired while working in a Toronto bookstore before her marriage. Laid up with rheumatic fever as a child, she passed her time reading and writing. By 13, she was attempting to write a novel set in the London slums.

Family life was stressful owing to financial worries, which only grew worse when her father was killed in a car accident while driving to the family's vacation house in Cacouna, on the south shore of the St. Lawrence, one weekend.

Her writing career got off to a running start at McGill University, where her stories were published for the first time, in the McGill Daily and the student magazine Forge. In 1945, she graduated with honours, winning the Shakespeare Medal for highest standing in English and the Peterson Prize for creative writing.

That year she also won the Dodd, Mead Intercollegiate Literary Fellowship (worth the thenlavish sum of $1,200) to complete her first novel, The Unreasoning Heart. The following year, the book was not only published by New York-based Dodd, Mead but appeared (condensed) in the now-defunct Redbook magazine - a heady experience for a 22year-old writer.

Set in her own NDG neighbourhood, the somewhat melodramatic story concerns the interactions of a family of six, and Abbey, a 16-year-old orphaned girl, who goes to live with them. Abbey falls in love with Con, one of the adult sons - the one less favoured by his mother, but a better man than David, the mother's favourite.

"When I started to write, the literary life hardly existed," Ms. Beresford-Howe told this writer in 2002.

"Canada was a blank place on the literary map; Morley Callaghan and Hugh MacLennan were the two stars then. You had to have courage to set something in Winnipeg or Montreal."

She earned her master's at McGill, then moved to Brown University, on Rhode Island, on a provincial scholarship to work on her PhD, having decided on an academic and literary career. Her short fiction showed up in Saturday Night and Maclean's magazines and, in 1947, her second novel, Of this Day's Journey, appeared, praised by William Arthur Deacon of The Globe and Mail. Two other novels followed: The Invisible Gate (1949) and My Lady Greensleeves (1955), a historical novel, based on real events.

Having obtained her PhD in 1950, she was hired to teach English at McGill to servicemen returning from the Second World War and stayed on. Hugh MacLennan and Louis Dudek were among her colleagues and friends. She taught creative writing briefly at the University of British Columbia and wrote essays and book reviews for The Montrealer, but there were no novels for 18 years.

The Beresford-Howe family, in straitened circumstances after the father's death, decided to take a lodger into their NDG home, and that is how Constance met Christopher Pressnell, a Cambridge-educated French teacher eight years her junior, who needed a place to live. They married in 1960 and, in 1967, joyfully adopted 10-week-old Jeremy, their son, now a major in the Canadian Forces.

In 1969, distressed by the growing separatist movement in her home province, the couple moved to Toronto with their small child. In the two-year hiatus between teaching at McGill and starting a teaching job at Ryerson Polytechnic Institute (now Ryerson University), Ms.

Beresford-Howe wrote The Book of Eve.

She told this reporter that the character of Eva was in part inspired by her mother, who had never left her father but should have. Another source for Eva was a 70-year-old woman named Edith, whom she and Mr. Pressnell met aboard ship while returning from England: "Edith was 70 at the time and had lived for years in England, but was a Canadian. She said to me, 'I have a male friend and he's Hungarian, and furthermore, it's not platonic.' " The next two novels in what she considered to be her "Voices of Eve" trilogy were Population of One and The Marriage Bed, both dealing with the trials of women alone. The latter is the story of Anne Graham, a young mother of two with a third one on the way who is abandoned by her husband for another woman. In the end, she takes back her errant husband, who is clearly unworthy of her love.

The book was filmed for CBC television but it disappointed some of her readers for its affirmation of the maternal role.

Andrea O'Reilly, who teaches in York University's faculty of gender and women's studies, wrote in the journal Canadian Women's Studies that Ms. Beresford-Howe "accepts if not glorifies the circumscriptions of the traditional mother/wife role in The Marriage Bed" and the book "bears traces of a conservative ideology."

She retired from Ryerson at age 65, after writing Night Studies about teachers at Simcoe College, a third-rate educational institution in downtown Toronto, who develop a closer relationship during a power failure. (She denied - unconvincingly - that Simcoe College was Ryerson.)

Two more novels rounded out her oeuvre. Prospero's Daughter (1988) is about a celebrated and highly theatrical Canadian author living in England who tries to engineer the marriage of his simple-minded daughter to a man she doesn't want, with disastrous results; A Serious Widow (1991) is the story of Rowena, a woman of 50, who discovers upon the death of her husband that he had another family in Ottawa. The book was a finalist for Ontario's Trillium award but lost out to Margaret Atwood's Wilderness Tips.

Her own marriage lasted 55 years and was ideally happy. "We never had a separation," said her husband, lest anyone should think her plots were autobiographical.

The couple had retired to England and found a house they loved in the picturesque Suffolk village of Lavenham; they travelled frequently in France and returned occasionally to Canada.

Tragically, Mr. Pressnell outlived his wife by only two weeks.

He died in hospital on Thursday, when his heart stopped in the course of emergency surgery for a bowel obstruction.

Constance Beresford-Howe leaves her brother, John Howe; son, Jeremy Presnell; and granddaughter, Emily Constance.

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.

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Constance Beresford-Howe, seen here circa 1986, was often compared to the English writer Barbara Pym due to her sense of irony.


Driven to help entrepreneurs succeed
Janet Bannister, general partner, Real Ventures
Saturday, January 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page B3

TORONTO -- When Janet Bannister met legendary venture capitalist Bob Kagle in 2000 while looking for a job in Silicon Valley, he told her she hadn't experienced enough failure in her life. "He said, 'I think people learn a lot more from their failures than their successes,' " she says.

Ms. Bannister had certainly had her share of successes. A prosperous teenaged entrepreneur from Brampton, Ont., she graduated at the top of her class at the University of Western Ontario's Ivey Business School, worked for Procter & Gamble and consulting firm McKinsey, and had twice won the Canadian national triathlon championship.

But her greatest career achievement still lay ahead: In 2005, Ms. Bannister launched one of Canada's most successful Internet brands: Kijiji, the online classified business owned by eBay. Since leaving three years later, Ms. Bannister has applied her experience to other companies, most recently as a venture capitalist helping Canadian startups grow into disruptive market players.

And yet, Ms. Bannister does not come across as some corporate alpha warrior type, as we sit for lunch at Mildred's Temple Kitchen, located in Liberty Village, a hip, gentrified warehouse neighbourhood in Toronto. Sporting a dark sweater draped over her shoulders and a Timex Iron Man Watch, the 44-year-old Ms. Bannister is a warm, engaging and energetic presence. She has come from delivering cookies to the new offices of Hubba, a hot startup that has built a platform for retailers to replenish merchandise from brand-name suppliers, and which Real backed in an $11million Series A venture financing last fall. "What could be better than seeing these guys succeed, right?" she says with unadulterated joy in her voice.

Ms. Bannister is a trailblazer in many ways - an all-too-scarce senior female venture capitalist, builder of a successful online business in Canada and a relatively rare Canadian who gave up a career in Silicon Valley to return home. She bashfully deflects comments about her C.V.: When I say she's easy to describe - as "the person who invented Kijiji" - she manages only a quick "Yes, yes, thanks."

Ms. Bannister grew up determined to keep up with her three older siblings, but also to chart her own path. Her mother, a real estate agent, encouraged her children to be independent. Her father, an IBM salesman, gave his children "unconditional love and support," she says, as we dig into our meals - a roasted curried cauliflower salad for her and huevos rancheros for me.

While other girls her age were into V.C. Andrews and Anne Rice, the 14-year-old Ms. Bannister read famed automobile executive Lee Iacocca's autobiography and decided she needed business experience. So her father helped Ms. Bannister write a business plan for a muffin operation; she costed out ingredients, researched flavours, learned how to prepare financial statements. Ms. Bannister's father built a special muffin carrier for her bicycle and helped write a sales script.

The next summer, she persuaded 15 shops near her uptown Toronto home to stock her muffins. She would wake up at 1 a.m. to bake 25 to 30 dozen muffins and leave the kitchen spotless by 7 a.m., ready to set out. Later that summer, Ms. Bannister worried she wouldn't reach her $2,000 profit goal for the season, so she started making lemon cakes, too, and exceeded her goal by 20 per cent. Some customers wanted her to stay in business, but Grade 11 beckoned.

Ms. Bannister studied business at Western, then landed a coveted brand manager job with Procter & Gamble, overseeing the Pampers, Cascade and Vicks brands in Canada. She left after four years to backpack solo across Southeast Asia, and landed at McKinsey in Toronto upon her return in 1997, staying three years before deciding she missed the entrepreneurial lifestyle.

Ms. Bannister joined a Boston media streaming firm in 2000, and began scoping out opportunities in Silicon Valley. She studied up on the region's top venture capitalists, targeting those who had a similar background to hers.

That led her to Mr. Kagle, a packaged goods and consulting veteran. "I thought, okay, maybe this guy will relate to me," she says.

After peppering him with messages, Mr. Kagle, a backer and director of eBay, finally agreed to meet, and offered to have the web firm's CEO, Meg Whitman (now CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co.), call her, which she did the next day.

Ms. Bannister joined eBay in 2001 and led the expansion of the firm's sales beyond its core collectibles categories into general lines such as clothing, home and gardening, and books. "The world was our oyster," as Ms. Bannister and her team tripled sales annually and explored expansion opportunities, recalls John McDonald, who worked with her at the time and has remained a friend.

But Ms. Bannister missed her friends and family and asked to transfer to Toronto. The job she took in 2003 was a step down - running the website - "but I thought, 'Whatever, it's my ticket home,' " she says.

After benchmarking the Canadian operation, she realized something odd: While Canadians visited eBay at least as much as customers in other markets, they only followed through with transactions half as often. Rather than try to adapt Canadians to eBay, she surmised it was better to adapt eBay to the local preferences.

"Canadians spend a ton of time online ... but they prefer to transact off-line," she says. She proposed launching a classifiedad-listings site in Canada. Craigslist dominated in the U.S., but its Canadian operation was not as developed. Ebay's brass were skeptical, but trusted Ms. Bannister, giving her approval, with scant resources but a lot of freedom.

Ms. Bannister launched Kijiji (the name, imposed from above against her initial objections, is Swahili for "village") first in French in Quebec in February, 2005, where Craigslist had little presence. She went on maternity leave that April and, when she returned in November, the business was doing so well, it launched nationwide. She was promoted to run Kijiji's international expansion, and it has since moved into more than 30 countries. Today, Kijiji Canada is the top classified ad site in Canada, drawing more than 11 million visitors monthly.

Ms. Bannister decided in 2008 to leave Kijiji to spend time with her son before he started school. "I really love my work, but I'm also extremely close to my son, and that's a priority." After six months, she began consulting, taking on projects for Starbucks, Indigo and ING Direct, among others. "I realized that I loved helping companies," she says.

After three years of consulting, Ms. Bannister decided she needed fresh hands-on experience to stay relevant. She worked for two years as CEO of online fashion startup the Coveteur before the principals of Real Ventures, a nine-year-old Montreal earlystage venture capital firm, reached out in 2014.

"I had this perception that everyone in the VC industry was sort of cutthroat and ruthless," she says. "But then I started talking to these guys and realized this was really special and they had great values and perspectives on the world, that they were there to support entrepreneurs." She joined that September, working out of Toronto, and has since led 10 investments for Real out of its $89-million third fund, four of which are in financial technology firms.

As a venture capitalist, Ms. Bannister has applied the same discipline and drive she showed as an executive and athlete. She wakes up daily before 5 a.m. and works out for 60 to 90 minutes, and "her e-mail is the very first e-mail I get in the morning," says Aran Hamilton, CEO of Vantage Analytics, a company she backed in a $1.1-million financing in 2014.

Ms. Bannister has quickly established herself as a tough, driven, analytical but also empathetic investor and always-available adviser. "My sense is that a lot of VCs try to command and control their investee companies," Mr. Hamilton says. "Janet is different ... she always conveys her respect and appreciation for us and our vision. Even when we need coaching or nudging, it's done in a constructive, positive way."

"I feel extremely lucky to be working with [entrepreneurs], and I feel it's my mandate to help them be successful in any way," Ms. Bannister says. "If that means just getting out of the way, that's good, and if it means me getting my hands dirty, that's okay. If it means just sitting down and having coffee while they complain ... that's fine too - whatever I can do to help them be successful."


Age: 44

Place of birth: Brampton, Ont.

Education: HBA (honours business administration) from University of Western Ontario

Family: Married to Rob Rutledge, a professional coach, for 14 years. They have a 10-year-old son named Andy.

Favourite book: Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. "To me, the central theme of this book is that if you love what you are doing and do it with your whole heart, there is no limit to what you can do."

Favourite form of transportation: My road bike, preferably on quiet country roads.

Favourite activity: Going for a long hike with my husband, son and our golden retriever, Windsor.

Favourite vacation: Rustic safari in Botswana.

Guilty pleasure: Dark chocolate with nuts.

What she looks for in an investment: "A big idea, a big vision, something we think can grow to be a $100-million business in valuation. And we look for a great team," typically with a smart technical person and a more businessfocused co-leader. "But the key thing for me is somebody who is passionate about ideas, who is street-savvy and understands how to get things done, and understands there will be a lot of dips and bumps in the road, but they're going to power through and keep going."

Associated Graphic


Marxist scholar had a towering intellect
York professor inspired students through challenging seminars, debates and writings on the roots of capitalism and democracy
Special to The Globe and Mail
Thursday, February 4, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S6

Barely five feet tall but considered an intellectual giant, Marxist scholar and political science professor Ellen Meiksins Wood was instrumental in making Toronto's York University a centre for the radical critique of social and political thought toward the end of the 20th century.

In the late 1960s, Prof. Meiksins Wood was recruited from the United States along with her husband and fellow political scientist Neal Wood. York University gave them teaching positions at a time when the institution was fast becoming a destination for important figures on the intellectual left. Students across Canada were clamouring for more radical perspectives and the new generation of Marxist scholars was drawn to York by the opportunity to build programs at a new university.

Prof. Meiksins Wood, who died of cancer in Ottawa on Jan. 14 at the age of 73, distinguished herself as one of the major political theorists of her generation.

Rejecting the notion that capitalism was the inevitable outcome of economic processes that had always existed, she instead zeroed in on capitalism's historical specificity. In The Pristine Culture of Capitalism (1994) and The Origin of Capitalism (1999), she traced capitalism's origins to the 16th-century English countryside, when the interests of the landed aristocracy were advanced at the expense of the peasant classes.

Her position built upon the pioneering work of the American historian Robert Brenner, fuelling what came to be known as the "Brenner Debate." Prof. Meiksins Wood extended and developed Prof. Brenner's analysis by focusing on the central role of the market in emerging economic systems. The market was a coercive institution that dominated both workers and capitalists, argued Prof. Meiksins Wood, and as long as production derived from market competition, class antagonism would persist.

Prof. Meiksins Wood was also the left's foremost theorist of democracy and its history, according to her former student David McNally, now a political science professor at York.

Running through her work is the idea that democracy must always be fought for and secured from below, that it comes about through resistance and popular insurgency and is never conferred from above by benevolent legislators.

In Retreat from Class (1986) and Democracy Against Capitalism (1995), Prof. Meiksins Wood defended historical materialism against post-Marxist critiques, before undertaking a large-scale study of political thought from antiquity to the modern day. The first two volumes, Citizens to Lords: A Social History of Western Political Thought from Antiquity to the Middle Ages (2008) and Liberty & Property: A Social History of Western Political Thought from Renaissance to Enlightenment (2012), were published by Verso; the third volume was still in preparation.

Ellen Meiksins was born in New York on April 12, 1942. She spent her early years on West 177th Street in Washington Heights and in nearby J. Hood Wright Park.

Her parents, Gregory and Bella, were active in the Jewish labour movement in Europe; they left Latvia as political refugees during the inter-war years and settled in New York. Gregory held a PhD in political science and worked as a United Nations interpreter. Bella, who had worked in refugee relief in Europe, became a social worker in New York, and moved to Los Angeles, with Ellen, after she remarried.

Educated in Connecticut, Switzerland and Los Angeles, Ellen Meiksins attended Beverly Hills High, earned an undergraduate degree in Slavic languages from the University of California, Berkeley in 1962 and a PhD in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1970.

While still finishing her PhD, she moved to Toronto in 1967 with her first husband, Neal Wood, who had been offered a faculty position in political science at York's Keele Street campus. Ellen, already a promising scholar in her own right, was hired to teach at York's Glendon campus.

At York, the pair founded the Graduate Program in Social and Political Thought. Both believed strongly that social and political theory needed to be placed in historical context. Studying the social situations in which theorists lived and worked improved our understanding of what the theorists meant. This approach infused their teaching and writing, including Class Ideology and Ancient Political Theory: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle in Social Context (1978), which they co-authored.

The duo co-taught an interdisciplinary graduate seminar, The Theory and Practice of the State in Historical Perspective, a social history of political thought that ranged over much of human history. It was launched in 1977-78 and quickly became legendary.

Frances Abele, a professor at Carleton University's School of Public Policy and Administration, was one of Prof. Meiksins Wood's graduate students, from 1976 to 1983. She remembers leaving each week's seminar "abuzz with intellectual energy and new ideas."

Even as a young scholar, Prof. Meiksins Wood was a powerfully talented intellectual and a wonderful teacher: clear, logical, imaginative, rigorous, determined, focused on the topic at hand and quick to expose sloppy thinking.

She also relished contention and was one of the most rewarding people to disagree with. In addition to the legendary seminar, George Comninel did a reading course as a master's student in the late 1970s with Prof. Meiksins Wood on Marx's Grundrisse and the three volumes of Capital.

Now a political science professor at York, Prof. Comninel grew up in the same neighbourhood as his teacher, and their weekly meetings recalled the New York environment in which they were raised: The departmental secretary described their sessions as the times "when George and Ellen get together to yell at each other."

Faculty up and down the corridor closed their doors as the two worked their way through the texts, only to discover that they read Marx in exactly the same way.

An extraordinarily influential teacher, Prof. Meiksins Wood left behind a loyal group of former students influenced by her socialhistorical approach to theoretical analysis. Many went on to have distinguished careers of their own, inspired by her teaching, her willingness to devote time and attention to their work, and her relentless pursuit of clarity in the service of social justice.

Linked to the academic left in North America and in Europe, Prof. Meiksins Wood served on the editorial board of the British journal New Left Review from 1984 to 1993 and the socialist magazine Monthly Review from 1997 to 2000. Prof. Meiksins Wood not only took part in debates about world events, neoliberalism and the rise of postmodernism, producing important books and major articles, but helped to shape them.

Prof. Meiksins Wood wrote nine books, co-wrote two with Prof. Wood and co-edited three collections. She was inducted into the Royal Society of Canada in 1996.

Like Hannah Arendt before her, Prof. Meiksins Wood was an important female scholar in a male-dominated field whose work didn't focus on feminism.

Ursula Huws, professor of labour and globalization at the University of Hertfordshire, explains in a Monthly Review essay that at a time when "more and more women were entering academic life, it was still extraordinarily rare in the field of political economy for a woman to be recognised and respected as a towering intellect with a grasp of the whole - and not just someone who writes about gender. In fact it is hard to think of anyone since Rosa Luxemburg who achieved this status on the academic left."

Her brother, Peter Meiksins, professor of sociology and viceprovost at Cleveland State University, knew a different side of her. Ellen loved music, especially Bach, and learned to play the cello and the piano as a child. She taught herself to play the oboe during her time in Toronto and played chamber music with other amateur musicians. Prof. Comninel learned over the years not to call his friend and colleague during major tennis tournaments or Blue Jays games.

Prof. Meiksins Wood was fond of the English countryside and spent many hours walking on Dartmoor, in Devon, and in other areas. When Prof. Meiksins Wood became involved with the London-based New Left Review, she and her husband spent many months there each year, eventually buying a home. When they retired from York, they divided their time between Toronto and London until Prof. Wood's death in 2003.

Often overlooked in the focus on Prof. Meiksins Wood's radical politics and theoretical grounding, notes Jonathan Sas, director of research at the Broadbent Institute, is that, unlike many Marxists, she supported the NDP and the British Labour party, and did not see herself as above or divorced from practical politics.

"She could write stinging critiques of the drive for accumulation, but be a voice against Tony Blair and for a more progressive candidate in a non-radical party like Labour," Mr. Sas explains.

Prof. Meiksins Wood and Ed Broadbent had first met as young faculty members at York in the late 1960s but went on to have divergent careers. When they were both widowed after long and very good marriages, their acquaintance deepened. Mr. Broadbent, the classical social democrat, and Prof. Meiksins Wood, iconoclastic, myth-busting thinker of the radical left, respected and engaged with one another, discussing and debating social democracy, capitalism's inequalities and social organization.

While their views were different enough to fuel debate, they shared an ethical commitment to a higher form of society and believed deeply in the transformative side of social change. The couple married in 2014.

Prof. Meiksins Wood leaves her husband, Mr. Broadbent, and her brothers, Peter Meiksins of Cleveland and Robert Meiksins of Milwaukee.

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.

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Ellen Meiksins Wood was a noted academic who arrived at York University from the United States in the late 1960s.


Prof. Meiksins Wood met former federal NDP leader Ed Broadbent in the 1960s, and the couple married in 2014 after both were widowed.

Becoming Cindy Crawford
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, January 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page L1

One positive gift of aging is becoming truly comfortable in one's skin. It's something that hasn't been lost on Cindy Crawford, the supermodel who splashed on the scene in the mid 1980s and gave new meaning to beauty throughout fashion's heyday in the 90s. I first met her shortly after she launched her career, and was immediately impressed by her down-to-earth attitude and inherent business savvy. Now on the verge of turning 50, the native of DeKalb, Ill. is the mother of two teenagers and is happily married to former model and nightlife entrepreneur Rande Gerber.

Residing in California, with a summer home in Muskoka, Ont., and juggling duties with her skincare and furniture lines, Crawford still enjoys some modelling assignments (see the sexy new spring campaign for French brand Balmain for her latest stint in front of the camera), and has just come out with an impressive and spirited coffee table book entitled Becoming. It features a collection of photographs of some of Crawford's most memorable work, as well as a candid narrative of growing up in fashion's fast lane. Saks Fifth Avenue brought the statuesque beauty to Toronto recently to share her stories with an exclusive crowd, and I had the chance to talk with Cindy about staying grounded, making choices and her trademark mole.

You really impacted the world in a profound way because you were just about the first model that we looked at as a beauty who was bolder than some of the waifish girls that were on the scene at the time. Did you see it that way or were you so caught up in the moment that you were oblivious to it?

I think we just got up and went to work everyday, and we were just lucky to catch that wave. It was a time in fashion where there was a lot of focus on the models, much like there is again today. I think that the things that made us different were celebrated. We all were allowed to have our own persona and the designers and the magazines wanted to help make us stars.

You say in your book that you weren't into the kissy kissy, phony thing. Was that something that was hard to be during those days - to be a real person in a very unreal world?

I don't think it was hard because for me; it would be harder to be different than who I am. Like I say in my book, modelling's what I do - it's not who I am. So my whole world and identity was not caught up in being seen at the right parties and wearing the right designers. I love fashion.

And I made great friends and I travelled the world and I made money. I've had so many great experiences, but that's just one aspect of my life.

The candour with which you speak about your life in the book is almost disarming because I don't think most people would expect you to be that open and honest.

It wasn't easy for you growing up. There was a lot of love in your family but you suffered hardships. How would you say that those kinds of things shaped who you would later become?

Coming from a place of feeling loved as a kid is like your backbone, because that helps you get through all the other stuff. We did have some tragedy, like my brother dying. And I think from that I learned two things: One is philanthropy, and two is that you can't take life for granted. Especially when you're a young teenager or young adult, you think you're invincible. But when you experience death so close up, you realize no one's invincible. I think that is good, because you're not taking anything for granted.

And then with my parents divorced, those were harder lessons. I guess in some ways, it made me want to be able to take care of myself, which was a good thing in a way. You don't want to close yourself off so much that you can't have a healthy relationship either, but it made me want to be fi nancially independent.

You say that one thing you wish you could have told your younger self was to have been a little more fearless.

What did you mean by that?

I was from a very small town and very unsophisticated. And I think sometimes I felt like, "Oh what if I say the wrong thing, or I don't know what fork to use?" But one of the blessings of getting older is you get to the point that you realize everyone at that table probably has some version of that in their head. So it's just, like, get over yourself! You can use the wrong fork, you can not know what a word means, you can not know if they're referring to some famous painter or artist. It's okay to ask questions or admit that you've never heard of someone. I kind of felt like The Emperor's New Clothes. Do I really belong here? And maybe no one thought I was feeling that way, but sometimes I would not do things if I wasn't sure, thinking that I wouldn't know what to talk about, or what to wear, so I'll just stay home.

You were afraid to admit your vulnerability. But that's what endears you to people now. It's even sweet the way you talk about your trademark mole, and how an agent pressured you to have it removed.

As a kid, you're self-conscious about anything that makes you different. And my sisters didn't make it any easier by teasing me. I had talked to my mom about removing it, but we never really got serious about it. And then I went to my very first modelling agency and they said I might want to think about removing my mole. I was like, "See mom...I told you we should remove it!" My mom was really smart, and instead of saying no, which I think a lot of parents would do, she just said, "Well, okay. But just remember what your mole looks like.

You don't know what a scar would look like." She really let it be my choice instead of telling me no. Then as I started working as a model sometimes people would try to cover it up with makeup or retouch it out of the picture. But eventually, that became the thing that people remembered about me. "Oh, it's the model with the beauty mark!" Even the other day, I met someone at the airport who had a mole and she's like, "I just want to thank you because you made this okay." The message I try to teach young girls is that something you could think was weird as a teenager could end up becoming your calling card when you're older.

What do you find to be the most daunting thing about getting older?

It's not really daunting, but getting older does keep your vanity in check, let's put it that way. You have to rise to your higher self. It's very easy in your twenties, when your skin and hair are beautiful, to say that beauty is on the inside. But when you start seeing the signs of aging, you really have to put your money where your mouth is and be kind to yourself, just like you would be to a girlfriend.

You have turned into this figure that women look up to - someone who seems to have it all, at a time when so many of us wonder if that's possible. What do you say to people who look at you and go, "Yeah've got it all!"

Well, something's got to give usually, and when my kids were little, I applied myself less to my work. I think that women can have it all, but it's very hard to have it all at the same time. I don't travel as much because I want to be home with my kids.

It's not a hardship, it's a choice that I make and everything's a choice. Every choice that you make with something that you do, you're not doing something else. And that's how we create our own lives, by making those choices that are priorities for us. So I'm very blessed. And yes, I have a career, but I'm an almost 50-year-old model! That's not a super rock solid job, you know. There are a lot of question marks about what's next.

But that's exciting, too.

You said in your book that writing it was a gift to yourself - it allowed you to reflect on your career.

It really was. We're always measuring ourselves against other people and sometimes all you see are other people's highlights reels. So many times we forget to just stop and pat ourselves on the back for what we've accomplished or what we've gotten through, or how we've grown. I think maybe some people think, "Oh, Cindy Crawford's book is going to be about modelling, or makeup tips, or whatever." But it's really about lessons that I learned in the world of modelling but that really are universal.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Associated Graphic

OLDER AND WISER In her new book, Cindy Crawford writes about life lessons, including the benefits of being fearless and that it's okay to ask questions.


Sublime food with a side of sticker shock
Parcae, deep in the Templar Hotel, is far less polished than chef Danny Hassell's cooking - and the prices are out of whack
Saturday, January 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page M6

A couple of times a year if I'm lucky, I get sucker-punched with the peppery, savoury-porcine pong of good nduja. Nduja is a soft Calabrian sausage made with extra-fatty pig bits and bushels of fresh peperoncino chillies; it tastes like somebody took the best things about pork pâté, summer sausage, great butcher bacon and high-end Italian hot sauce and combined them into one.

As a finishing touch to clams or bitter greens, the stuff is devastatingly tasty, but until eating at Parcae, the new, off-radar and often frustrating restaurant in the boutique Templar Hotel, I'd almost never had nduja in any quantity.

There, the up-and-coming chef Danny Hassell tucks great heaps of it into fresh ravioli, which he buries in a frothy sauce - an espuma, as the Italians might call it - made from burrata cheese and cream. The sausage's smoky, sinus-clearing spice and savoury depth combine like a lusty kiss with the pasta's silky starch and that sauce's sweet cream smoothness; it's as close as you'll get to a Southern Italian getaway without leaving town.

It is also an excellent window into Mr. Hassell's talents: Like most of what he serves in the 60seat restaurant, that nduja ravioli dish is a masterwork of over-thetop deliciousness and technique.

Mr. Hassell, who is 37, grew up in Montreal and Hamilton, the grandson of Pugliese immigrants.

Everyone in his family cooked; by the age of 13 he decided he wanted to make a career of it, he said.

After a long run in Hamilton restaurants, he moved up through the ranks at Mark McEwan's ONE, in Yorkville, and then through the Buca company; his last post there was an extremely impressive turn as Bar Buca's opening chef de cuisine.

You can see that training on his plates. There's a bit of ONE in the crowd pleasers such as his whole, butterflied branzino, or the brilliant candy-coloured radish and orange salad he's been serving lately. The Buca influence, meantime, shows in the chef's laserfocused flavours, his smart application of salt, char, sophisticated bitterness and acidity, and his pinpoint execution, as well as in his love of odd but luxe ingredients such as the sturgeon bone marrow Mr. Hassell finishes his risotto with.

Yet, as a restaurant, Parcae is far less polished than Mr. Hassell's cooking. The contrast can be jarring. Named for the trio of women in Roman mythology who control the fates, the place is hidden behind an unmarked metal door at the back of the Templar Hotel's lobby, as if management would rather that nobody found it. (That strategy has been quite successful to date.) It's down the candlelit stairs in a dark and windowless basement space with hard steel tables and a muddy-sounding stereo system, which booms Depeche Mode and trip hop off the textured concrete walls. Parcae's decorating theme is best described as "high-class Berlin sex dungeon": Note the entire wall given over to the backlit photo tableau of gartered thighs and pert, uncovered nipples, and opposite that, the trio of black-andwhite boudoir shots hanging from polished steel chains. Both times I ate there I couldn't help wondering who else had used my table before me, and how.

There are other weirdnesses.

The service is friendly and professional and as well-informed as you'll find in most expensive restaurants, but the red wines come 10 degrees too warm, as if they were stored above a furnace. If you ask for an ice bucket to chill down your syrupy, booze-forward California pinot noir, the management may be out of ice. (True story; to their credit, sort of, they managed to find some.)

And Parcae's present wine list is as plain and charmless as a municipal parking ticket. If you order a bottle here, your only certain fate is to be royally gouged. The markups run around 300 per cent - check out the $45 premier cru Chablis they list at $180, and the $25 pinot noir they sell for $90.

Parcae's cheapest bottle costs $68.

For what it's worth, Mr. Hassell said on the phone this week that he was aware of those problems, and he's just hired a new manager for the restaurant, a former Buca hand. This should make an enormous difference. He said the wine list and decor will be overhauled.

Most puzzling, though, are the prices on Mr. Hassell's food menu.

It's as though he poured so much love and energy into perfecting his dishes that he lost all sight of what they're actually worth. Parcae is a small-plates-sharing place, which I typically have no quarrel with. Here, though, the value proposition feels absurd.

That nduja dish is one of the better deals at $15, though it contains just three ravioli, each as wide around as a silver dollar. Mr. Hassell's (genius) duck ravioli plate, meanwhile, would be better called a raviolo plate, as it contains just one piece of pasta. Sure, the duck is braised for 24 hours with wine and tomatoes so it's rich and voluptuous; the wide, round raviolo it's packed into comes covered with mascarpone cheese and hazelnuts and the crumbly, unctuous crunch of roasted duck skin, all of which gets toasted with a blowtorch. But that two-bite dish costs $18.

His carbonara - picture 10 pieces of rigatoni in too much sauce, and you've pretty much nailed it; this was one of the kitchen's few run-of-the-mill dishes - costs $21.

As I shared that puny pasta plate with a friend one night, I couldn't help wonder why Mr. Hassell's kitchen didn't triple the portion; the extra ingredients might have cost an extra 70 cents.

The pricing of the proteins is no less mystifying. Parcae's wholeroasted, $32 branzino dish would be better named "branzino's baby brother"; it was the smallest branzino I've ever seen, about four ounces of fillet if we're being extremely generous. But then at least the plate also bore the tiny fish's gaping head, which, as a cheery manager put it, is "edible to some cultures, enjoy."

Parcae's deep-fried lamb brains, by contrast, come in a decent portion, served properly soft and rich on their insides and set over a bowl of mushrooms, demi-glace and nicely bitter dandelion.

Those were a comparative fire sale at $12.

And if you wanted a piece of grilled meat, the only truly substantial thing on Parcae's menu one night recently, your only choices were a 32-ounce, $120 steak, a 20-ounce piece of veal or a 20-ounce double pork chop (both of those cost around $60; not awful), which is a whole lot of flesh for a table of two. The kitchen had also debuted a buttermilkfried whole baby rooster earlier that week, which would have been an ideal middle ground at $32. It had already sold out.

My friend and I spent $300 on dinner, and then stopped afterward for cheeseburgers at The Burger's Priest.

The only reason any of this matters is because Mr. Hassell is an excellent chef. If you can look beyond Parcae's many annoyances, there's some truly brilliant food. The chef's clams dish combines barely cooked shellfish with a peasant ragoût of broad white cicerchia beans, tomatoes, and the cured, smoked pork-cheek product called guanciale, which you scoop up with shards of grilled bread. He serves his romanesco broccoli with a cream sauce that balances the sharp kick of mustard oil with sugar and vinegar, and his pork comes with a house-made apple mostarda so good that I'd happily eat it by the jar.

I am hopeful that the changes Mr. Hassell has promised will make Parcae a far better restaurant, and quickly, because it would be a shame for the place to stay the way it is. In the meantime, consider stopping in at the pleasant bar upstairs to order a few dishes. Get some of the excellent fried artichokes and the radish salad, the lamb brains, both the raviolis, the clams, and at least one of the excellent desserts, which are made by Mr. Hassell's sous chef, the Au Pied de Cochon vet Joseph Awad. There are raspberry jam-stuffed bombolone doughnuts, if that's your speed, or even better still, Mr. Awad's superlative white cake, maple-syrup caramel and smoked-vanilla-salt take on pouding chômeur.

If you're still hungry afterward, a cheeseburger isn't an entirely horrible idea.

Follow me on Twitter: @cnutsmith



348 Adelaide St. W. (at Peter Street), in the Templar Hotel, 416-398-5335,

Atmosphere: A dark, noisy hotel basement restaurant with friendly service and nudie pictures everywhere.

Are they artful? After many cocktails, possibly. The bar upstairs is nice.

Wine and drinks: Cocktails: fine. Wines: not fine. Bottles start at $68 and aren't worth half that much.

Best bets: Artichokes, radish salad, lamb brains, romanesco, both raviolis, clams, risotto, bombolone and pouding chômeur.

Prices: Teeny tiny plates: $10 to $32. Humongous plates: $60 to $120.

Associated Graphic

Executive chef Danny Hassell oversees sous chef and dessert master Joseph Awad in the kitchen at Parcae.

The brightly coloured radish salad, left, is one of the good bets at Parcae, while the clams dish, which combines shellfish with a peasant ragoût of white cicerchia beans, tomatoes and guanciale, is brilliant.


Naval officer was hailed as a hero
Navy named a ship after her to recognize her heroism following a torpedo attack at sea during wartime
Special to The Globe and Mail
Monday, February 1, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S8

Margaret Brooke's heroism in the frigid waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence is the stuff movies are made of. In the early morning of Oct. 14, 1942, the 27-year-old Royal Canadian Navy officer was aboard the SS Caribou, a ferry travelling between Sydney, N.S., and Port aux Basques, Nfld., when the vessel was hit by a torpedo from the German submarine U-69 in the Cabot Strait off Newfoundland.

Hours before the sinking, Margaret and her friend and nursing colleague, Sub-Lieutenant Agnes Wilkie, had decided to look for the life jackets in the cabin and Margaret worked out how to put them on. Luckily, they had a flashlight nearby later on, when they needed it.

"When the torpedo struck I was thrown across the room right on top of Agnes. I knew what had happened but for a second couldn't do anything. She [SLt. Wilkie] jumped up and grabbed the flashlight and climbed up for our life belts," she wrote in a letter sent home to her brother, Hewie, just after the incident. Dr. Brooke died in Victoria on Jan. 9 at the age of 100.

The torpedo struck at 3:14 a.m. SLt. Brooke described her shipmates on deck as "one terrified mob." The two women, who had managed to retrieve their "burberrys," or naval coats, didn't know to jump clear of the sinking vessel.

"We were sucked under with her. How we got away from her, I don't know, but we clung together somehow all the time we were under and when we finally reached the surface, we managed to grab a piece of wreckage and cling to that," she wrote to her brother.

A few minutes later, an overturned lifeboat floated by and they joined others clinging to ropes. A soldier helped SLt. Brooke up and then they pulled SLt. Wilkie out of the water. Soon, the weather and the frigid water brought on hypothermia.

SLt. Wilkie lost consciousness and let go but SLt. Brooke hauled her back, holding onto a rope on the lifeboat with one hand and her colleague with the other.

"I did manage to hold her until daybreak but then a wave pulled her right away from me. She didn't suffer [because she was unconscious] but it was so terrible to see her go."

Only SLt. Brooke and two or three other survivors were still clinging to the lifeboat half an hour later when the minesweeper HMCS Grandmere picked them up. The naval ship had been escorting the ferry, but it left the survivors to chase the German submarine; 136 of the 237 passengers died, many of them civilians, including children.

SLt. Wilkie was the only nurse in all three services - navy, air force and army - killed by enemy action in the Second World War, according to Cynthia Toman, the author of An Officer and a Lady, Canadian Military Nursing and the Second World War. SLt. Wilkie, 42, was a native of Carmen, Man. She had volunteered for service while working as a nurse at the Misericordia Hospital in Winnipeg. She and SLt. Brooke travelled together on the train from Winnipeg returning from leave and had become close friends.

German U-boats caused havoc in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the St. Lawrence River. Here is the Naval Museum of Quebec's tally of the losses: "Five naval ships were torpedoed, four of them Canadian, the fifth a United States Navy tanker. ... On the St. Lawrence River and Gulf, 21 merchant ships were torpedoed. Seventeen of them sank, while four remained afloat."

The Battle of the St. Lawrence claimed a total of 340 Allied lives, about half of them members of the Royal Canadian Navy and Merchant Marine. The sinking of the SS Caribou was the single greatest loss of life. Four months after that sinking, the U-boat responsible, U-69, was forced to the surface by depth charges and rammed and sunk by a British destroyer in the North Atlantic. All 43 German sailors aboard perished.

Last April, the Royal Canadian Navy announced it would be naming one of its six new Arctic patrol vessels the HMCS Margaret Brooke, in her honour.

"Lieutenant-Commander [her rank when she retired] Brooke was a true Canadian naval hero," said Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, commander of the Royal Canadian Navy. It was the first time a Canadian ship had been named for a woman and the first time for a living person. All six of the new vessels are to be named after Canadians who served in the navy.

Dr. Brooke said she was blindsided by the news, which she received on her 100th birthday in a phone call from then-minister of national defence, Jason Kenney, as well as a personal visit from a ranking naval officer in Victoria, where she lived. She always preferred to be called Miss Brooke or Dr. Brooke, and chastised Mr. Kenney in the phone call for calling her Ms. Brooke.

"I've been astounded," she told The Globe and Mail in a phone interview in April of last year. "The navy doesn't just go around naming its ships after people."

Margaret Brooke was born April 10, 1915, in Ardath, Sask., and grew up on a farm there. Her father, Herbert, ran the farm and her mother, Maude, was a school teacher. When she was 18, Margaret and her brother, Hewitt, both left the farm for Saskatoon to attend the University of Saskatchewan, where Margaret earned a bachelor's degree in household science; her brother a medical degree. She went to work as a dietitian at the Ottawa Civic Hospital.

When the war broke out, she enlisted in the navy, and since they did not have a category for dietitians, she was made a nursing sister, with the rank of sub-lieutenant, the entry-level naval officer rank. Her brother, Hewitt, enlisted as a doctor and served on the HMCS Skeena, ending the war as a lieutenant-commander.

After the attack, SLt. Brooke took a month's leave and then worked in naval hospitals in Newfoundland and elsewhere for the rest of the war. For her heroism, she was made a military Member of the Order of the British Empire, a rare honour. The citation reads: "For gallantry and courage. After the sinking of the Newfoundland Ferry S.S. Caribou, this Officer displayed great courage whilst in the water in attempting to save the life of another Nursing Sister."

"Aunt Margie didn't like to talk about the Caribou incident but she did after the navy named the ship after her," said her niece, also named Margaret Brooke. "She said that in some book they said [the survivors] were singing hymns. She told me, 'Don't let anyone tell you we were singing hymns.'"

After the war, she stayed in the navy, rising to the rank of lieutenant-commander, the equivalent of major, before retiring in 1962. She moved home to Saskatchewan, and enrolled at the University of Saskatchewan where she studied paleontology, eventually earning a PhD.

"Her thesis was on microfossils of the Jurassic system in Southern Saskatchewan," her professor and colleague, Glen Caldwell said. She stayed on at the University of Saskatchewan doing research in paleontology, which Dr. Caldwell described as the geological study of life on Earth. Many of the microfossils that fascinated her were tiny sea creatures that once lived in the sea that covered Southern Saskatchewan.

She retired from the university in 1986 and moved to Victoria, where she had once been stationed as a naval officer. She led an active life there, and among other things joined a volunteer group that tended the gardens at the Lieutenant-Governor's residence, a few blocks from her home.

One of the many things she was involved in was fact-checking for a Saskatoon writer, Suzanne North, who was working on a novel about farm life in prewar Saskatchewan. When the novel, Flying Time, was published, Dr. Brooke was acknowledged in the foreword. The novel won an award and somehow came to the attention of André Kirouac, the director of the Naval Museum of Quebec City, which has a special section on the Battle of the St. Lawrence.

"As we were trying to find any details about Dr. Brooke's career, we suspected she could be still alive somewhere in Canada. The book was in fact a door opener on the path to find her niece and then Dr. Brooke herself," Mr. Kirouac said.

There followed a series of interviews in newspapers and on the CBC. Dr. Brooke was modest about her role in the war.

"I think, just like everybody else, when the [Second World War] came along, we were all anxious to help out in some way. So I applied to the navy, and next thing I knew, I was on my way to Newfoundland," she said in an interview last year.

Dr. Brooke lived on her own until she was 97, when she fractured her hip. She remained in good health until contracting pneumonia last fall. She leaves five nieces and nephews, six great-nieces and great-nephews and one great-great-nephew.

* * * * *

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Associated Graphic

Margaret Brooke is the only nursing sister to have been named a Member of the Order of the British Empire during the Second World War for her heroic acts following the sinking of the SS Caribou on Oct. 13, 1942.


Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Home schooling
A High Park family chucks the Toronto house for a decommissioned school in Prince Edward County
Friday, January 29, 2016 – Print Edition, Page G3

Alysa Hawkins was browsing real estate ads on Kijiji when one offbeat listing sparked her curiosity.

For sale: South Marysburgh Central Public School, $256,000.

Ms. Hawkins and her husband, Jesse Parker, had never talked about buying a decommissioned school before. They had been ruminating for years, however, about leaving Toronto for a more free-spirited life in the country with their three young daughters.

The school, located in the 19th-century hamlet of Milford in pastoral Prince Edward County, had been shuttered in 2011 because of low enrolment.

But this was not the sort of Victorian one-room schoolhouse that city dwellers have been turning into charming country homes for years.

The red-brick institution was built in 1960 in the typical style of the era: A 10,600-square-foot building with a flat roof, coloured panels below the windows and rows of classrooms with cinder block walls. It sits on a gentle rise, surrounded by eight acres of land, including a baseball diamond and a playing field.

The couple had already visited the area to see an "executive' home with all of the modern conveniences when Ms. Hawkins spotted the ad for the school.

They showed the two listings to their friends and asked which one they should buy.

"They all said 'go for the school,' " Ms. Hawkins says.

Of course, their friends know them well, they acknowledge with good humour. They agree they have a history of making unconventional life choices.

Once they bought a large sailboat, despite never having sailed before. After a few lessons, they navigated from Toronto to the Bahamas.

On their return from that adventure, they needed a house, so they bought one at a silent auction. Once inside, they discovered it had been used as a crack den.

With those experiences under their belts, retrofitting a school didn't seem so daunting. They bargained the price down to $190,000, sold their house in Toronto and ended up with enough left over to fund the renovation. In 2013 they packed up a rented trailer and moved to Prince Edward County.

Figuring out how to make a living would come later.

First they had to make the school livable. They arrived to find homework assignments still pinned to classroom walls, abandoned skipping ropes and a box of trophies from the 1970s. They dealt with the alarming brown sludge bubbling out of the plumbing in the boys' bathroom and scoured every surface multiple times.

"The building was in dire straits," Mr. Parker says.

To keep friends and family updated on their progress, Ms. Hawkins launched a blog called Letters from the Lunchroom.

"We didn't move here to get rich. We moved here to get living," she wrote in an early post.

They often put down their tools to explore the county, which is about two hours east of Toronto and juts out into Lake Ontario.

They hiked wooded trails with the dogs and took picnics to the rolling dunes of Sandbanks Provincial Park until they discovered the hidden cobblestone beaches that only locals know.

"It's enormous and it has an enormous coastline," Mr. Parker says of the surprisingly large area.

They also hosted a non-stop stream of curious visitors from the city. Prince Edward County's rolling landscape of dairy farms and vineyards has given rise to a thriving tourism scene that offers farm-to-table dining, artisanal cheese makers and cycling tours of the wineries.

About mid-September, they realized they'd better get to work on getting the heating system up and running.

In the last year of its operation, the heating oil bill for the school was $38,000 and the electricity was another $10,000.

They needed a better system.

Mr. Parker had already ordered a pellet-fired boiler from China and planned to use it to generate under-floor heating but they found installing the piping more complicated than they expected. They also weren't entirely sure the heat would radiate through the school's thick concrete floors.

In the meantime, the family survived by living and sleeping in two rooms. They managed to rig up the plumbing for hot showers in the boys' bathroom but the air was icy.

Mr. Parker's fallback - reverting to the school's old oil-fired boiler and electric heaters in the classrooms - proved to be unworkable.

"It became obvious that the main heater would never go back on," he says. "That was our lowest point."

After much searching he found a plumber who was willing to make the drive to the south-east corner of the county to help him get the new system running. Loads of insulation and 60 new windows were in place.

Suddenly everything came together and they were all blissfully warm.

Soon the girls were riding their scooters and roller skating down the corridor, Ms. Hawkins says.

Walls were brightened with fresh white paint and new closets were built in all the rooms.

They bought a showroom kitchen from an ad on Kijiji and turned the former gym into a great room with the added perk of a stage for musical and theatrical performances.

Reya, Wini and Ruby each have a full-sized classroom for a bedroom. The former kindergarteners' area has been repurposed as a mud room and the staff lounge has been turned into a guest kitchen.

By the summer of 2014 the place was so transformed that neighbours with a bed and breakfast suggested they start one of their own. Local businesses had more visitors than they could accommodate.

"The community was great - they would send their excess."

The school's layout turned out to be ideal. Their B&B, called South in Milford, now has three suites open to guests in the summer months.

Two classrooms each have ensuite bathrooms, kitchenettes, sitting areas and doors to the outside. A massive two-bedroom suite combines the former library and offices.

Many inns in the county won't accept guests with children or dogs, Ms. Hawkins says, so they accept families with both.

Another novel enterprise was the launch of the annual Old School Bluegrass Camp with their musician friend Jenny Whiteley. Teachers and students camp on the school grounds and gather together for workshops, performances, and bonfires.

"The stage is perfect. We have concerts every night," Ms. Hawkins says.

They did have some resistance from some members of the community, says Mr. Parker, because some were concerned about the impact from crowds of musicians descending on the quiet town. But they limit attendance and make sure not to play too long into the night.

Local politicians have worked to smooth things over, they say, because the officials are aware that small communities need to stem the flow of people out of rural areas.

The "creative rural economy policy" strives to loosen up regulations that prevent entrepreneurs and artists from making a living.

People in the area also knew that a sister school in another part of the county had also closed due to low enrolment. No buyer stepped forward and the building fell into such a state of disrepair, it is now beyond saving, Mr. Parker says Milford residents were relieved that the couple wanted to save South Marysburgh school from a similar fate.

"People are happy that we bought the school," Ms. Hawkins says. "We had incredible community support," The couple also enjoys reducing the family's environmental footprint and living in a more sustainable way. Their cost of living is lower and they figure they can find inventive ways to augment their income.

"The economy out here is just what you make of it," Mr. Parker says.

Ms. Hawkins finds she has more free time to volunteer at the school and learn new skills, such as painting and cheese making. Mr. Parker has built a skating rink right outside the back door and this winter's project is to finish turning the former boys' bathroom into a new family bathroom with a huge tub for the girls.

They still have a long list of things to accomplish, including keeping bees and brewing beer.

They already raise chickens and Ms. Hawkins is thinking about selling eggs this summer. Maybe they'll get some sheep.

Ms. Hawkins has offered their land to a local group that plants butterfly-friendly gardens around the area in a bid to protect the vanishing habitat of the Monarch.

The parents also enjoy seeing how resourceful the girls are becoming.

Last summer, for example, all five of them planted seeds for growing organic corn. When the corn was ripe, the girls earned their own money for new tablets by selling it at a roadside table.

"We want to grow as much food as we can," Ms. Hawkins said.

They have already planted 1,000 trees and aim to plant many more.

"We are treeing the land just as quickly as I can possibly do it," Mr. Parker says.

As for family life, the move has meant leaving their leafy street near High Park and they all miss their friends. But on the upside, they can invite groups of their city friends to visit at the same time, Ms. Hawkins says.

"We can have multifamily weekends - and there's enough room for everybody."

Associated Graphic

Alysa Hawkins, Jesse Parker and their three daughters, Reya, Wini and Ruby, live in a converted school in Prince Edward County. Each girl has a full-sized classroom for a bedroom. The family also runs a three-room bed and breakfast out of the building.


Poloz puzzle: Policy lauded, but message muddled
Saturday, January 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page B1

TORONTO, OTTAWA -- Economic Insight

Last winter, not long after Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz stunned financial markets with an unexpected interest rate cut - perhaps the defining moment of his tenure as head of the central bank - he was asked whether he was enjoying his time in an economic hot seat that had just gotten considerably hotter.

His response: "I'm loving it."

But after a trying 12 months in which the Canadian economy flirted with recession, and Mr. Poloz cut the bank's benchmark overnight rate twice and came close this week to a third cut, the love affair may have lost some of its lustre. Certainly Canada's economic and financial circles have developed a love-hate relationship with the personable but occasionally perplexing central bank chief.

From former senior central bankers to academics to Bay Street analysts, the general consensus is that Mr. Poloz has done a solid job steering Canada's monetary policy through a trying and uncertain year. They agree that the cut a year ago, which at the time confused and even angered market participants, proved a prescient and wise move. But many central bank watchers continue to struggle with the way Mr. Poloz and the bank communicate their message - and this week's announcement was no exception.

"I think there is a bit of a divergence between what Poloz is saying and what the market is thinking," says George Davis, chief fixed-income and currency analyst at RBC Dominion Securities. "There's a dose of skepticism about what the bank is pitching."

Experts credit Mr. Poloz for acting early with monetary stimulus at the first signs of oil shock trouble a year ago. At the time, some critics felt he had acted too rashly and hastily. But in hindsight, he is generally lauded for being ahead of the curve, given the rough year that unfolded since.

There are also many prominent supporters of his decision this week to hold the central bank's key rate steady at 0.5 per cent, despite a growing call from the markets ahead of the decision for a quarter-percentage-point cut, sparked by alarm over the deepening plunge of oil prices.

"I think the way that this has been set out, to me it looks like it's exactly the right analysis of the situation," says David Dodge, the Bank of Canada's governor from 2001 to 2008. "Let the exchange rate do what it's supposed to do. Don't create any additional uncertainty around that [with a rate cut]."

At his post-announcement press conference, Mr. Poloz looked remarkably relaxed and confident, given that the holdsteady decision by the Governor and his council of deputies was, by all accounts, a nail-biter. (By contrast, he has often appeared in the past year popping throat lozenges and fighting a cold, perhaps a testament to how straining his job has been.) Nevertheless, some of what Mr. Poloz had to say raised as many questions for the market as it answered.

After long viewing Mr. Poloz as a proponent of weak-dollar policies (a characterization to which he has frequently objected), he suddenly sounds as if he is willing to defend the Canadian dollar. That sparked a sharp turnaround in the currency; by the end of the week, the loonie was up more than 2 cents (U.S.) since the rate announcement, additionally aided by a rebound in oil prices.

There is now also a widespread belief that Mr. Poloz has essentially thrown down the gauntlet to Ottawa - all but declaring that monetary policy has gone as far as it's willing to go to stimulate the economy, and it's now time for fiscal policy, government spending, to take the reins. That's reading an awful lot into what Mr. Poloz actually said: That the bank hasn't incorporated the government's promised spending increase into its economic growth projections because it won't know the details of that spending until after the government presents its budget in the coming months; that this will improve the bank's growth projections when it happens; and that this was a factor in the bank holding off on another rate cut. Still, central-banking veterans noted, for the Bank of Canada to comment at all on the economic benefits of a not-yet-announced government spending stimulus was an unusual step into the fiscal sphere.

More significant, many are puzzled by the bank's unexpectedly optimistic view of the economy that accompanied its rate decision, especially in light of oil's further downfall, as well as the marked deterioration of business sentiment in the bank's own Business Outlook Survey, released only days earlier. The bank forecast gross domestic product growth of 1.4 per cent this year even without incorporating the effects of government stimulus spending; several private sector forecasters believe growth won't be much more than 1 per cent, including the stimulus.

"We thought the accompanying statement would be dovish-leaning. That caught the market by surprise," Mr. Davis says.

Central-bank-speak has traditionally been like a code of meaningful words and phrases for investors to break, to unlock the bank's policy leanings and their market implications. Mr. Poloz has changed the Bank of Canada's approach to communicating its message, and in doing so has changed the code - much to the ongoing frustration of many market participants.

"The people on Bay Street have been annoyed," says economist Stephen Tapp, research director at the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP).

Unlike his predecessors, who would use the text of the previous rate announcement as the template for the next one and change only a handful of words to signal subtle changes in their thinking, Mr. Poloz insists on starting each rate statement as a blank slate, telling, as he puts it, "a fresh story" every time. He argues that it makes for a better conversation.

But it has complicated the task of interpretation for the country's trading desks.

"It's not as easy to read into the narrative. There's not the same flow," RBC's Mr. Davis says.

It also has meant that occasionally, the precision of the message leaves something to be desired.

That came up again in this week's rate announcement.

The bank's formal statement announcing the decision, as well as in its more detailed quarterly Monetary Policy Report that was released at the same time, stated that the bank forecasts that Canada's output gap (the difference between actual output and the economy's full capacity, indicative of how far the economy is running below its potential) will close "around the end of 2017."

But in his prepared opening statement at a press conference following the announcement, Mr. Poloz characterized the timing as "late 2017, perhaps later." Critics say the inconsistency creates uncertainty in the market and complicates investing decisions.

Steve Ambler, an economics professor at the Université du Québec à Montréal who sits on the C.D. Howe Institute's Monetary Policy Council (a shadow committee of leading monetary experts that mimics the Bank of Canada's deliberations and issues its own rate recommendations), says the bank's "communications issue" has come up repeatedly at meetings of the council.

Cutting by one-quarter of a percentage point has a pretty minor impact, he says. "If you want to really have an impact, tell markets what direction you're going to go."

On the other hand, Mr. Poloz took the unusual step of disclosing that he and his colleagues had "a bias toward further monetary easing" when they began their deliberations a week before the rate decision, but talked themselves out of it. This was an unprecedented level of public candour for a central bank that doesn't even record minutes of the private deliberations of its decision-making leadership, let alone release them publicly.

Communications issues aside, the bottom line for many observers is the Bank of Canada's success in guiding the economy back to health. In this week's announcement, Mr. Poloz and his team remain convinced that the economy can be back up to full speed within two years. The problem, critics point out, is that they have been saying that consistently ever since the Great Recession - yet every few months, the goal posts get moved further down the field.

Mr. Tapp of IRPP notes that because of the nature of Canada's monetary policy, which targets getting the economy back to full capacity and inflation stable at the 2-per-cent target typically within six to eight quarters, the bank has had a tendency to assume it will achieve those targets in the second year of its forecasts. Right now, the bank forecasts growth of just 1.4 per cent in 2016, but 2.4 per cent in 2017. A year ago, it predicted growth of 2.1 per cent for 2015 (it is now estimated at 1.2 per cent) and 2.4 per cent for 2016.

"There's always this assumption in Year Two that growth will accelerate. And it doesn't," Mr. Tapp says.

And there may lie the ultimate note of caution on reading Mr. Poloz's message.

"If someone tells you that we'll be back to full capacity in two years because the bank says we will, and so we don't need a rate cut, don't believe it. There have been seven years that it hasn't been true," Mr. Tapp adds.

Associated Graphic




Colmar is just a three-hour TGV ride from the City of Lights. And if its romantic good looks are not enough to charm you, consider this: It's the heart of Alsatian wine country - and flatbread with cheese, cream and lardons is a local specialty
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, January 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page T1

COLMAR, FRANCE -- Sometimes when you are driving, your brain shifts to automatic mode and your thoughts can drift. That's the state I was in, driving through the French countryside, imagining what I might have for lunch, when I was jolted back to full attention. On the outskirts of this country town in the heart of Europe, I was confronted with the Statue of Liberty.

Really? Lady Liberty in the middle of Alsace? Had we taken a wrong turn?

Aah, but the town was Colmar, the small Alsatian city that was the birthplace of Frédéric Bartholdi. He is the sculptor who created the iconic statue that now guards the entrance to New York. This replica, towering over a traffic roundabout, was a tribute to one of the town's most famous citizens.

Later, in a café on the Rue Saint-Martin, with a sunwashed wall behind me and an espresso and pain au chocolat in front of me, I thought about how serendipitous it is when a destination exceeds your expectations. Colmar certainly did. It is a small city of 70,000 or so, relatively unknown to North Americans but a getaway of choice for French tourists, especially busy Parisians. The TGV highspeed train can get passengers from Paris to the centre of Colmar in three hours, prices here are more affordable than in the City of Light, the food and wine is sophisticated and the cultural offerings are first class. Plus, it is one of the sunniest and driest places in France.

Colmar is in the Haut-Rhin section of the Alsatian Wine Route, about an hour's drive from Strasbourg and a popular destination for wine touring. Dating from the ninth century, the old town centre has survived wars, invasion and revolution and still retains its early architecture - Gothic, Renaissance, baroque and neoclassical buildings that line the streets in the city's heart. I had expected to be charmed by the paintbox beauty of Colmar's well-preserved buildings and the visual pleasure of its canals bordered by outdoor cafés. That neighbourhood isn't called Le Petite Venice for nothing. But on this sunny day, the pink and blue and amber halftimbered buildings, carefully restored, were more than eye candy. The narrow and busy cobbled streets, the bustling shop windows filled with lovely things to eat and the multilingual jumble of conversations produced a sense of a real city that had kept its layers of history. It was easy to picture market day in the Middle Ages in the squares and along the sides of the canals.

Age has given the cobbled streets of Colmar a gentle patina.

The walls of the Guard House, on Place de la Cathédrale, first mentioned in documents from 1286, have weathered to a pale blush pink, and time has softened the golden Vosges sandstone of Saint Martin's Church.

My eye was caught by the carved stone faces above many doorways, particularly one of a wild boar above a former butcher's shop. The House of Heads, at 19 Rue des Têtes, dating from 1609, still displays a series of grotesque faces that grimace at passersby.

Look higher, above the rooftops, and you'll see another Alsatian specialty. I hadn't anticipated the storks. From where I stood on the Place de la Cathédrale, I could clearly see a massive nest perched on the top of the steeple of Saint Martin's, with a stork looking calmly out over the city.

The birds return from their winter retreat in Africa each spring to inhabit and repair their same nests. Storks have always been important in Alsace as symbols of good fortune, fidelity and fertility. Noticing my attention to the bird on top of the church, the lady beside me smiled, "Storks are always faithful. That one comes back every year."

One of my reasons for coming to Colmar was to see Matthias Gruenewald's Isenheim Altarpiece.

Housed in the newly renovated Unterlinden Museum, which officially reopened earlier this month, I saw the work in a temporary site at the Dominican Church, about 200 metres from its usual home.

The altarpiece was donated to the city by the Monastery of St.

Anthony in nearby Isenheim.

Washed with light from the church's stained-glass windows, the central panel of Gruenewald's work revealed Christ's emaciated figure covered with sores, his hands splayed in pain, his body pierced, bloody and clearly suffering. It was poignant and moving, as are the other panels of the altarpiece. Nearby is the Madonna of the Rose Bush, from 1473, an important masterpiece painted by Colmar native Martin Schongauer.

With the altarpiece back in the Unterlinden Museum, visitors can also tour the new modern and contemporary art wing (with works by Picasso, Monet and Léger) that has opened after a three-year, nearly $70-million renovation and expansion. Even before the renovations, the Unterlinden was regarded as one of the best small museums in Europe.

Exploring Colmar proved to be surprisingly easy on foot, so I kept moving through the old city until I found the Frédéric Bartholdi Museum, founded in 1922 in the house in which he was born. It's an intimate space, set in a quiet square and worth a visit. One room is devoted to the design and step-by-step creation of the Statue of Liberty. Other works by Bartholdi, fountains and monuments, can be found in several places throughout the town.

The culinary culture in Colmar is also beguiling and surprisingly stellar, with eight Michelin-starred restaurants in the area.

Throughout history, the region has changed hands many times and that shows up in the local specialties.

I needed to try the famous flammekueche (in Alsatian) or tarte flambée (in French), a pizza with crème fraîche, cheese, onions and lardons on a thin crust.

It was delicious, light and crunchy, and matched perfectly with a chilled local riesling. Foie gras is prevalent on menus here, too, since Alsace is one of three centres of its production in France. German-inspired dishes such as choucroute garnie - sauerkraut with potatoes and ham - and charcuterie, including boudin sausage and kassler, a cut of salted and smoked pork similar to Canadian bacon, abound.

Baeckeoffe is a slow-cooked meat and vegetable stew, originating from dishes that local women made on wash days, putting everything they had into a pot sealed with dough, and dropping it off at the local baker's to cook for the day while they caught up on the laundry. I also tried kugelhopf, a crown-shaped cake studded with fruits that went perfectly with my afternoon coffee.

And since I was in Colmar during white asparagus season, spargla was on every menu, served usually with mayonnaise, potatoes and ham.

And then there's the wine. Colmar is considered the heart of the Alsatian Wine Route, which stretches a total of 170 kilometres passing 100 wine villages.

Visitors can tour it by car or take bicycles along the relatively easy roads that wind between the Rhine and the Vosges Mountains.

The Grand Crus of Alsace are rich and smoky, honeyed yet dry.

Be sure to sample the local riesling, available everywhere in Alsace; it is different from the German style, more aromatic and dry. In addition, the area produces pinot blanc, pinot gris and gewurztraminer.

Colmar is a convenient base for exploring the region, and you want to be in the city for the evenings. On weekends, as night falls, Colmar is illuminated by a sophisticated series of static and dynamic lighting systems that wash buildings in colour and enhance the architectural details of the town. It's lovely and romantic, and a fine excuse to sit outside with a glass of something local.

A visit here delivers on many levels: art, architecture, fine regional cuisine and vintages from the capital of Alsatian wine country. It's less expensive than Paris but more sophisticated than you might expect. There's a reason why Parisians come here on holiday.


Colmar is an easy 72-kilometre drive from Strasbourg. There is also regular high-speed train service - three hours from Paris, 30 minutes from Strasbourg, 45 minutes from Basel, Switzerland.

Visit en for information about tours, sites and museums.


Riquewihr is a gorgeous wine town that's 14 kilometres from Colmar. You can get there by car, bike or local bus. Go early, before the tour buses arrive.

The wine bars, restaurants and architecture are beautiful, if a little touristy.

Ribeauvillé is 17 kilometres from Colmar, and is another pretty, though less frequented, wine town with three castles.

For cycling maps and suggested route ideas, visit


La Maison des Têtes (House of Heads) is entrally located, modestly priced and architecturally interesting. Rooms from $299, room only. 19 Rue des Têtes; .


Try Restaurant-Wistub Pfeffel for German and French dishes.

The flammekueche is delicious, light and crunchy. 1 Rue de Rempart;

Restaurant JY's offers upscale dining in the centre of the Petite Venice neighbourhood. 17 Rue de la Poissonnerie;

Associated Graphic

Houses and cafés line the canal's edge in Colmar's Petit Venice neighbourhood. The old town centre dates back to the ninth century.


Dating from the ninth century, the town retains its early architecture - Gothic, Renaissance and baroque.


Italian for beginners
Jhumpa Lahiri chronicles her love affair with another language
Saturday, February 6, 2016 – Print Edition, Page R12

In Other Words By Jhumpa Lahiri, translated by Ann Goldstein Knopf Canada, 233 pages, $29.95

There should be a word in English that communicates the letdown of realizing "There is no word for it in English." It being: those sentiments that are cut fine and impossible to value with a single word.

Those "complicated hybrid emotions," wrote Jeffrey Eugenides in his 2002 novel Middlesex: "The sadness inspired by failing restaurants," he notes, or "the excitement of getting a room with a minibar." I would add, "the cool precision required for pageturning piano music" or "the frustration of putting a duvet cover on," or "the tender joy of grandchildren helping their grandmother blow out her birthday candles." There should be, at the very least, one word that captures that - the way the English language falls short. How it siphons and miscarries meaning, and is occasionally without.

These are the thoughts that crossed my mind while reading Jhumpa Lahiri's latest book - her fifth, her non-fiction debut - In Other Words. Not quite memoir or journal or essays collected in a traditional form, these fragmented meditations on immersion, a Why I Write inquest, a work in progress interpolated with some fiction - a project, more or less - published bilingually but originally written in Italian and translated into English by Ann Goldstein, detail the Pulitzer Prize-winning author's long abiding affair with learning Italian. In her afterword, Lahiri considers In Other Words "a hesitant book, and at the same time bold." All at once, "a point of arrival and of departure... based on a lack, an absence... both public and private."

It's no wonder she volleys between contradictions.

As I continued reading, it became clearer and clearer to me that this book is Lahiri's receipt of not knowing. To plunge into darkness voluntarily, to become fluent from scratch, especially as the author of tremendously successful and highly acclaimed books in English is to re-experience, every day, a mix of doubt and the levity born from no one supposing expertise. In Other Words is an account of wanderlust for someone who, I'd estimate, winces at the word, welcoming it insomuch as it applies to her inner life. By no means a travel book, In Other Words is book about seeking. Learning Italian, despite Lahiri's rigorous, unremitting practice, is a metaphor. A tool for wrestling with and perhaps even resisting issues having to do with identity, which she explored in her previous books, but that now she's exploring in the first person. Her first person. It also helped her contend with a general estrangement from English, the language she, as a child, characterized as her "stepmother." (Lahiri was born in London and spoke Bengali in her home.)

There is perhaps no writer today better suited to write a book about language. It's a topic that courses through Lahiri; that constitutes her DNA. Generational schisms, immigrant parents and heritable longing, absence, questions of home and homelessness, assimilation, displacement, exile - geographic, emotional, linguistic - battling who you are based on where your parents are from, feeling some essential need to return to a country that was never yours, are all common themes in Lahiri's previous books - two collections of short fiction, Interpreter of Maladies and Unaccustomed Earth, and two novels, The Namesake and The Lowland. Identity pervades her work and rarely do answers provide relief.

Lahiri's pull towards Italian was sparked 20 years ago during a visit to Florence with her sister. On that trip, instead of a guidebook, Lahiri brought a small green dictionary. She considered it her map, her compass, a sacred text. A parent. Twenty years later, Lahiri still considers that same dictionary - the size of a bar of soap - "bigger than [herself]" and "full of secrets." What's changed is how she positions the dictionary. It no longer represents a parent, she notes, but a brother. In Other Words tracks this shift.

While her attachment to Italian suffuses each page, so does her growing confidence in speaking and writing in it; she experiences pure joy upon being, for the first time, translated into English from Italian. This new language permits her a level of rapture I hadn't come across in her previous work, which possesses a far more melancholic cadence.

In Other Words is prone to metaphors. Swimming across a lake, the significance of a bridge, of scaffolding, an ex-boyfriend, falling in love and our relationship to forever.... The list goes on. All cling to familiar Lahiri tropes of belonging and identity, only this time, the shivers of insecurity constitute too her second adolescence. A chance to re-experience the disorientation she felt as a Bengali girl growing up in America, who perceived life dichotomously, "suspended rather than rooted."

Writing, for Lahiri, she shares, has always been a form of concealment. To feel alone. To "tolerate" herself and "get closer to everything that is outside of [her]." To not continuously be in service of other people's expectations of her. Learning Italian has required that she interact with the world, work with teachers and translators; second-guess her instincts, experience false starts and a new kind of alienation.

As it were, scrutinize her "divided identity," not through fictional characters, but again, in the first person. Her first person.

She recounts an episode in Salerno where a saleswoman assumes that Lahiri cannot speak Italian.

Her husband, on the other hand, is praised for speaking Italian, despite also being a foreigner and knowing the language far less. "Here is the border that I will never manage to cross," she writes. "The wall that will remain forever between me and Italian, no matter how well I learn it. My physical appearance." To be seen, yet chance on invisibility, is every writer's deep wish, blessing and curse. But to be seen at literal face-value, to be ignored for that same reason, to be treated like lesser-than and disfavored, is no longer a matter of personal preference.

It's an obstacle. It's dehumanizing. She goes on: "I feel like crying. I would like to shout: 'I'm the one who desperately loves your language, not my husband. He speaks Italian only because he needs to, because he happens to live here. I've been studying your language for more than twenty years, he not even for two.' " She meets the same resistance and racism in America. A man passing out flyers that she refuses to take yells, "What the fuck is your problem, can't you speak English?" Of course, unfortunately, this comes as no surprise. Yet still, hearing Lahiri recount instances of having to justify herself, her name, her appearance, as opposed to experiencing racism through the point of view of one of her characters, is, I'll admit, jarring. Comforting too - though I doubt the latter is of any comfort to Lahiri.

Her desire - not, perhaps, to master Italian, but immerse herself in it and become fluent, to develop a new eloquence - has never let up, as with most desires that exist as long as they are never fulfilled.

More so, it's been impossible to rationalize. And why should it? "Without a sense of marvel at things," she writes, "without wonder, one can't create anything."

Italian keeps her curious. A proof of life.

Lahiri's English prose is often described as "plain" by both critics and admirers. She distances herself from style. Few flourishes, little flare, and a nearOrwellian approach to writing with purpose. A fidelity to the mot juste. She builds story as though tracklaying a railway. Writing in a new language that she feels a deep affection for, where she must approach every word and turn of phrase with extra care and consult her many dictionaries, where Lahiri must cope with what is out of reach, reads naturally Lahiri to me. The exposure of her frustrations and seams, however, does not. "I fear that it's a false book," she writes. "I'm insecure about it, a little embarrassed."

The confessional tone adds fidgets to her prose.

Does it work? I'm not sure. But I've also never read a book like this before. She's invented a form.

I am reminded of Anne Carson's Nox, which, too, invented a new form. It's a book-in-a-box, an accordion-folded epitaph to her brother who died. Told through the lens of her translation of of Catullus's Poem 101, Carson writes about loss. It's beautiful.

Like Lahiri's In Other Words, Nox explores limitation through autobiography, how the unbearable and the indefinable are sometimes the same. Both books exist as, in a manner of speaking, resuscitations.

"Prowling the meanings of a word, prowling the history of a person, no use expecting a flood of light," writes Carson. "Human words have no main switch.

But all those little kidnaps in the dark."

As Lahiri notes, "What does a word mean? And a life? In the end, it seems to me, the same thing. Just as a word can have many dimensions, many nuances, great complexity, so, too, can a person, a life. Language is the mirror, the principal metaphor. Because ultimately the meaning of a word, like that of a person, is boundless, ineffable."

Durga Chew-Bose is a Montreal-born writer. Her work has appeared in Hazlitt, The Guardian, The New Inquiry, and Flare, among other publications. She is currently working on her first collection of essays.

City moves to water down HCA bylaw
Residents file suit claiming compensation for designated First Shaughnessy homes
Saturday, February 6, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S7

When city hall created Vancouver's first heritage conservation area last fall, it was, heritage enthusiasts agreed, a giant step for the preservation of the city's dwindling historic houses.

First Shaughnessy, which is the oldest part of the former Canadian Pacific Railway lands, bordered by W. 16th, West Boulevard, Oak and King Edward, had lost many of its pre-1940 houses to redevelopment. The properties had become prized for their sizable lots instead of their craftsmanship and architecture as prices skyrocketed these last several years, fuelled by a wealthier demographic.

Between 2005 and 2014, there were 202 demolitions in First Shaughnessy. When the city put a moratorium on demolitions in the area in June, 2014, there were inquiries to demolish 19 of the 318 pre-1940 homes that remained.

The Heritage Conservation Area (HCA) zoning - which uses Parks Canada guidelines to conserve historic places - would officially protect the remaining houses from demolition, including "demolition by neglect," which is the intentional ruin of a house. The HCA was to be a rigorous plan, also prohibiting ill-fitting makeovers and additions the area has seen in recent years.

Throughout three public hearings, an angry group of homeowners, worried about potential loss of equity, fought against the HCA on the grounds that they would deserve compensation for potential loss of value. Several argued that their old houses were not worthy of protection from demolition. They also rejected the benefit of infill, which would allow them to add coach houses and secondary suites. Several said they preferred privacy to rental revenue. And an organized group threatened to sue if the zoning passed.

But many residents also applauded the move to protect the houses and, in a bold move for Vancouver, the city voted unanimously for the first heritage conservation area. On Jan. 19, in response to the lawsuit, a city report was presented to council that recommends scaling back on the rigorousness of the HCA. The city's acting planning director Jane Pickering recommended that national guidelines be removed - guidelines that are considered the gold standard for heritage conservation.

As heritage consultant John Atkin puts it, "They've taken the teeth out of it. It's interesting to me that they just proclaimed it, and a few people get their knickers in a knot and they do this.

"The whole point of busting our ass on Shaughnessy was that, if we are conserving those 300 houses, then we should be conserving those 300 houses."

Heritage Vancouver president Javier Campos says the move shows a lack of political will.

"I understand their position and I think it's very weak. I think it's a situation where they are not willing to spend the political capital and stand up and do it properly and it will hurt us in the long run.

"We're not talking about something radical or new; [the guidelines] are tried and true," he adds.

"They're used everywhere. I think it's a real blow, because the whole point of heritage is it has to be well done. If you don't do it well, you end up with monstrosities.

And then there's nothing left for the future."

The city's reasoning for the amendment is that the guidelines are too complicated for the average person to understand. Mr. Campos argues that it would be up to architects and designers to interpret them, much the way builders interpret the building code. "We will still be looking at them, but the intention is we don't expect the public to have to refer to them," Ms. Pickering says.

"It's trying to address some of the issues they've brought up in the lawsuit that we agree could benefit from some clarity. I think that's what we're trying to do. It will make things clearer for people. And, in my opinion, any time things are clearer, it's a better situation for everyone."

Four plaintiffs from the pre-1940s houses group have filed a lawsuit against the city for compensation, according to Jonathan Rubenstein, a First Shaughnessy resident who owns one of the pre-1940 houses. Mr. Rubenstein argues that the city didn't do due diligence in choosing which houses belong in the conservation area. He also argues that homeowners should be compensated for loss of value because their houses will be more difficult to sell. As well, he says homeowners will be burdened with having to do costly repairs that they can't always afford. He has no plans in the near future to sell his house; he is against the bylaw on principle.

"What the city is doing is they are implying they have the power to do a bulk designation without compensating. Honestly, if they are going to do that, don't you think they should take steps to do it with properties they have properly assessed as heritage properties? All they did was pick 1940 out of the air. If they deem my house worthy of conservation, that's for the benefit of the public at large. If it deprives me of value, then surely the public should pay to conserve it for the public good.

If [the government] wants to take a piece of my property for road, they pay me for it."

Heritage experts find it surprising that the lawsuit would appear to be having a chilling effect on the city, since the city is widely considered to be on solid legal footing. Bill Buholzer, a lawyer with expertise in municipal law, says there is no legal argument to be made for compensation when the city rezones property. "I know there is now a claim by some owners against the city in relation to the HCA, and, frankly, I don't know on what basis they could bring such a claim because the Vancouver charter says specifically the city doesn't have to compensate anybody for exercise of their heritage-zoning powers. I think that claim, to me, would be a non-starter."

Ms. Pickering said the petition from the residents is about more than just compensation, although that's the big issue. "They have a lot of stuff they are contesting," she said. "These are small things that we are spending some time on. I can't comment on the lawsuit in particular, but as with any [lawsuit], they take time.

"It's our first time having gone through this. We're learning too."

The consensus among heritage experts is that the lawsuit doesn't stand a chance.

"I think the city is within its rights," Mr. Atkin says. "There are people who are angry because there is a frenzy there in terms of buying property to knock down and build a palace. So it's lucrative for a whole bunch of people.

But at the same time, it's been pointed out, the city gets to do this stuff when it wants to.

"We're loathe to interject because of property rights and that nonsense. It makes it really hard. We have so little real and authentic heritage conservation in this city."

If we are going to protect our historical buildings, there's a reason stringent laws are needed, as well as the enforcement of them.

Without them, history can fall through the cracks. There is an example of heritage protection not working in Kerrisdale, where the Morissette farmhouse at 5503 Blenheim St. sits empty and boarded up. In 1998, it was subdivided into two lots and the house was zoned for three units; however, development never happened. The 1912 house was designated heritage, which means it can't be torn down. But because there is no law protecting it from "demolition by neglect," it has sat empty and unheated for several years. Someone had left its windows open for several months, and they were only recently closed.

The house, now owned by a numbered company, has been for sale for about five months at an asking price of $4.5-million. Real estate agent Steve Wadhera says they received several offers last year that weren't accepted. He hasn't had any offers this year. Big new houses surround the old Morissette house.

"You can renovate this property and that's about it," he said.

Neighbour and Vancouver Vanishes author Caroline Adderson petitioned the city for several weeks to have someone close the windows on the historic house.

She and other neighbours who called the city were initially told the city had no legal recourse to protect the empty house. But Ms. Adderson searched the Vancouver Charter and found a clause that said it was an offence to "take an action that would damage an interior feature" of a protected building. "There was just complete confusion around what the city had to do in this situation," she says. "I had to read the Vancouver Charter and find the clause that would force the city to close the windows."

Mr. Wadhera said he had no knowledge about the windows being left open. "The city closed them. I wasn't involved."

As Mr. Campos says: "It's time we grow up and start to take these things seriously."

Associated Graphic

The 1912 Morissette farmhouse was zoned for development in 1998 - but has sat empty since.


Pre-1940s mansions in First Shaughnessy such as this one have been at the heart of bitter legal battles over heritage conservation in Vancouver.

Probe uncovers human-smuggling network extending into Canada
In wiretaps, a North African smuggler is heard touting $7,800 as the price to get into the country using black-market passports
Saturday, February 6, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A13

PALERMO, ITALY -- Italian prosecutors have uncovered a human-smuggling network that extends into Canada from Europe and North Africa. It is being investigated for a range of criminal activity, including the possible delivery of terrorists into North America.

Extensive wiretaps of conversations between North African smugglers and their clients are sprinkled with references to Canada. In one conversation, a notorious Eritrean smuggler named Medhanie Yehdego Mered, who operated in Libya and boasted, "I will be the new Gadhafi," said he planned to invest $170,000 or euros (the currency is not specified) of his smuggling income in Canada.

In another conversation, 5,000 (about $7,800) is touted as the price to get to Canada using black-market American or Italian passports.

The first stages of the probe, led by some of Italy's top anti-Mafia and anti-terrorist prosecutors, have already resulted in nearly two dozen convictions as the prosecutors crack down on the cold-blooded North African smuggling gangs that are delivering thousands of migrants to their deaths in the Mediterranean Sea.

A second human-smuggling and -trafficking trial in Palermo, the Sicilian capital, will start shortly and will probably result in more convictions, with the guilty receiving up to 30 years in prison.

The investigations are known by their operational code name - Glauco, a patron saint of sailors.

The first investigation, Glauco 1, has finished, and the second, Glauco 2, is winding down ahead of the new trials. A follow-up investigation, which will be far broader in scope, will examine how the tentacles of the smuggling network have reached into northern Europe and North America.

"In Glauco 1, we focused mostly on Italy," said Calogero (Gery) Ferrara, the Italian justice department prosecutor in Palermo who is leading the Glauco investigations. "In Glauco 2, we focused on Italy plus Europe, and the followup investigation will be Italy, Europe and the rest of the world."

In an interview in Palermo last week, Mr. Ferrara, 45, said U.S. authorities have already visited his office to inquire about the smuggling network's trans-Atlantic connections. Canadian investigators have yet to contact him, though he expects them to do so as investigators in northern Europe launch their own probes based on the Italian findings, and the publicity surrounding the success of the initial Glauco effort builds up.

Mr. Ferrara and the senior prosecutor in the Palermo office, Maurizio Scalia, have so far found no compelling evidence that the suspected terrorists have been planted in any of the hundreds of boats making their way from Libya, Egypt and Tunisia to Italy.

But they are fully aware that at least two of the jihadis involved in the November terrorist attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people, passed themselves off as refugees, leading European investigators to suspect there might be an "alliance of convenience" between the leaders of criminal smuggling groups and terrorist groups.

"We don't have proof" that terrorists use smuggling networks to get to Italy, Mr. Scalia said. "But we can't exclude it."

The Glauco investigations are the most extensive probes yet into the criminal smuggling and trafficking networks that are earning billions of dollars for their ringleaders and inflicting horrendous suffering on their clients. The network strongmen apparently operate in tandem in Eritrea, Ethiopia and Libya, and deliver asylum seekers into a European smuggling pipeline that extends from Sicily into mainland Italy, then north to Germany, Sweden and Finland. That network now appears to have leaped the Atlantic into North America.

In December, Mr. Ferrara used a presentation at the Council of Europe, in Strasbourg, to describe the network, based on the Glauco investigations, and how the Italian prosecutors used anti-Mafia techiques to reach the convictions in the Palermo trials. The techniques rely on extensive wiretapping; witness-protection programs for informants, known as supergrasses; interviews with the survivors of smuggling voyages; and interviews with prison inmates, such as Italian Mafiosi, who may have been part of, or may have known about, the North African smuggling gangs.

(A 2011 court case in Sicily revealed a criminal partnership between an eastern Sicilian Mafia family and Egyptian smugglers.)

Mr. Ferrara says his efforts to bring the Glauco investigations to light have triggered related smuggling-network investigations in Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and Britain. He is also holding meetings with EuroJust, the European Union agency that facilitates judicial co-operation in trans-border criminal matters.

"The Glauco case was so effective that it was identified as a template case for anti-smuggling investigations," Mr. Ferrara said.

The Glauco case began in the autumn of 2013, when a Mediterranean tragedy convinced prosecutors that a broad, Mafia-style investigation into smuggling networks was urgently needed. On Oct. 3, an overcrowded fishing boat that had set out from Libya developed engine problems just short of Lampedusa, the Italian island roughly halfway between Tunisia and Sicily. The boat burned when the asylum seekers set fire to a blanket to attract attention from the Italian coast guard. It capsized when passengers moved en masse to one side.

No fewer than 366 of them died, mostly Eritreans and Somalis.

The analysis of recovered mobile phones and documents, as well as interviews with the survivors, produced a treasure trove of leads for the Italian investigators.

The "Lampedusa case," which would form the basis of Glauco 1, also produced chilling accounts of horrific treatment by the smugglers. "The women who could not pay were assaulted," one survivor told the investigators. "All the women in that [migrants' centre in Libya] were raped by Somalis and Libyans. It was like a concentration camp."

The wiretapped conversations intercepted calls, painstakingly translated from Arabic and Arabic dialects, from Ermias Ghermay, an elusive Eritrean smuggler - he has never been photographed - who lives in Libya and is now one of the most-wanted men on Earth. In a phone intercept on Oct. 31, 2013, he expressed no sympathy for the Lampedusa disaster. Speaking to a big-name Sudanese smuggler named John Mahray, who remains at large, Mr.

Ghermay, who is thought to be the organizer of the Lampedusa boat trip, blamed the migrants themselves for the shipwreck. "It was their fault," he said. "They should have called for help when they were at open sea and not waited [until the] last minute burning a blanket and causing the shipwreck."

The prosecutors got lucky, because one of the men arrested in June, 2014, as part of the Glauco 1 investigation, agreed to work as a supergrass. He is the Eritrean Nuredin Atta Wehabrebi, now 32, who had addresses in Sicily and Rome and is now under police protection somewhere in Italy.

He told the prosecutors that he had worked for about a decade smuggling asylum seekers into Italy and on to northern Europe and agreed to co-operate because he felt guilty about the migrant deaths in the Mediterranean. In exchange, prosecutors will recommend that he receive a light sentence, perhaps five years, instead of 20 or 30 years. "He gave us thousands of pieces of information that will be used in future investigations," Mr. Ferrara said.

The North American connection was revealed by Mr. Wehabrebi and by snippets of conversations between other smugglers, convincing the prosecutors that the criminal smuggling network had gang members in Canada and Mexico and perhaps the United States.

Mr. Wehabrebi admitted that he used a variety of illegal methods, including fake passports and visas and bogus marriages, to get them there.

"He confirmed that he brought migrants to Mexico and that a person in Mexico helped them go into the United States," Mr. Ferrara said. "He also gave the names of a couple of people in Canada."

Mr. Wehabrebi also claimed he went to Canada, but the prosecutors have not confirmed whether he actually did.

The Glauco documents contain dozens of references to Canada, most of which do not go into much detail. But some of the longer references seem to reveal that Canada is emerging as an attractive destination for desperate asylum seekers. In one conversation, Shamshedin Abkadt, an Eritrean smuggler who had addresses in Milan and Rome, recommended to a colleague that entry into Canada would be easier than entry into the U.S. "With an Italian passport, you can get into Canada," he said.

In another conversation, Mr. Abkadt said it would cost 5,000 to get a migrant into Canada, but that the migrant would need a passport to get there. "Too bad because, a few days ago, I had an American passport but I just sold it," Mr. Abkadt said. "But if this boy returns it with the visa, I will give it to you."

He also said he had organized the transfer of two migrants, one of whom was in Switzerland, to Canada. On separate trips, they used the same passport. The first migrant simply mailed the passport back to Europe so the second migrant could use it.

Mr. Ferrara said he and the other prosecutors will seek help in unravelling the North American end of the smuggling network.

"We will ask for co-operation with the Canadian authorities and the American authorities," he said. "We will soon start on this."

Associated Graphic

Gery Ferrara, the Palermo prosecutor leading the investigations, says while U.S. authorities have already visited his office to inquire about the smuggling network's transatlantic connections, Canadian investigators have yet to contact him.


Unearthing B.C.'s mysterious Spanish roots
Old swords and shipwrecks suggest an early presence in the Okanagan, but Spain has no record of any lost expeditions in Canada
Saturday, February 6, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S1

VANCOUVER -- Long before Captain James Cook sailed along the West Coast in 1778, laying the foundation for England's claim to what is now British Columbia, Spanish explorers were attacked and killed by natives in the Okanagan Valley.

That is the legend, at least. The story has circulated like an urban myth in British Columbia's interior for over a century, making its way into local tourism brochures and regional history books despite a lack of scientific proof.

A growing body of evidence, however, including a Spanish sword that has been dated to the 16th century, now suggests that it is more than just a folk tale. If true, it would rewrite the history of North America, placing Spanish explorers thousands of kilometres farther north than they are currently known to have penetrated in inland expeditions.

"Oh yeah ... it's entirely plausible," says Stan Copp, chair of the department of sociology and anthropology at Langara College.

Dr. Copp has had a lifelong interest in the legend. He became fascinated with archeology when, as a boy, he first saw ancient rock paintings in the Okanagan, including one that appears to show a line of slaves, tied together at the neck, guarded by dogs and mounted men, which was the Spanish method.

The story in the Okanagan is that an armed Spanish expedition captured slaves in the Okanagan Valley after trekking into British Columbia by following the Columbia River from the Oregon coast. The legend is that warriors attacked and killed the Spaniards in retribution, as the group headed south after wintering near what is now Kelowna.

The dead soldiers are supposed to be buried in a longlost burial mound somewhere in the Okanagan.

The historical record shows Spanish explorers sailed along the west coast of North America, reaching as far north as Alaska in the 1700s. Overland expeditions crisscrossed what is now the southern United States in a quest for gold that took conquistadors from Florida to California. But, on land, they never penetrated the interior north of Colorado and Arkansas.

Spanish records of exploration, kept in detail to underpin claims of sovereignty, make no mention of a lost patrol in Canada.

Dr. Copp, however, says the pictograph suggests slaves were taken. But by whom?

"When I first saw it, I was told by an elder: This is evidence of the Spanish. These are the first people enslaved and those are the vicious Spanish dogs," he said.

"Which all makes sense, except I don't see any evidence of Spanish armour [in the painting]."

Intrigued, Dr. Copp did an archeological dig near the pictograph, a sacred site that has been in use for at least 4,000 years, but didn't find any evidence of Spanish contact.

Then he stumbled on an old weapon while digging in the archives of the Penticton Museum and Archives.

"I was down in their vaults and I saw this damn sword. I thought, what the heck is this thing? They had it listed as the Sword of the Turtle People. It was supposed to be Spanish," he said. "The problem was, the curator at the time didn't really know where the sword had come from. The only record was that it had 'probably' been turned in by a First Nations person with a story that it had originated locally." ("Turtle People" is said to be a native name used because of the armour early conquistadors wore, but Dr. Copp said by the time the Spanish were exploring North America, they'd largely given up the cumbersome armour. He thinks the name is a New Age invention.)

In a recent paper, Dr. Copp says the sword has been identified as a kastane, a Sinhalese sword made in Sri Lanka possibly as early as the 16th century.

At least three other ancient "edged weapons" have been found in the Okanagan, including a sword dug up on a homestead in 1939, which is now held by the Vernon Museum and Archives.

Dr. Copp said more research is needed before any conclusions are made about the swords, but it appears they date to the 18th, 19th and possibly the 16th century.

In addition, Karen Aird, a First Nations researcher, has brought to his attention the head of a halfpike, a type of weapon used in the mid-17th century. The weapon is in the Kamloops Museum and Archives and Ms. Aird said it reportedly was unearthed on native land by a rancher in the 1950s.

Dennis Oomen, curator at the Penticton Museum and past curator at the Kamloops Museum, said that based on photos he sent to the Canadian War Museum, it was determined the Kamloops blade is of Spanish origin.

"In their opinion, it is a spontoon, not made in the big Spanish armament works in Toledo, but probably in a Spanish colony," Mr. Oomen said.

One serious problem the researchers face is that when the weapons were brought to the museums years ago, few records were kept and it isn't known exactly where the items were found.

Both Dr. Copp and Mr. Ooman say the weapons could have been brought into the area by early fur traders, who first arrived in 1811, or even before that, by native traders.

There is also the problem, said Mr. Ooman, that the Spanish historical record contains no reference to a lost patrol in the Pacific Northwest.

Early Spanish explorers kept detailed records of where they went as a base for claims of sovereignty. But it is also known that, driven by a desire to find gold or capture slaves, Spanish conquistadors did range widely across the U.S. southwest.

Dr. Copp says it is possible that a group travelled into southern British Columbia from Spain's early colonies in California.

There is also a possibility that they came ashore near the mouth of the Columbia River.

As early as 1542, Spanish ships had sailed as far north as San Diego Bay and, by the 1700s, they had reached Alaska. Coastal features in British Columbia - Juan de Fuca Strait, Cortes Island - reflect an early Spanish presence.

Scott Williams, who is leading a team looking for an old Spanish shipwreck just south of the Columbia River, said galleons were often blown off course as they crossed the Pacific from Asia, headed for the coast of California.

"There are two pretty well-supported native accounts of two different wrecks," he said. One ship was lost in 1694 and another in 1725. There are also several Spanish ships that vanished while on exploratory trips up the West Coast.

"The wreck [of 1725] is known about because the son of one of the survivors was still living when the fur traders got there. He told the traders he was the son of a Spanish sailor who was wrecked at the mouth of the Columbia River and his father and three others had survived and lived with the Indians for a while ... and then had decided to try their chances following the Columbia River. And they were never seen again," he said.

The earlier wreck is known about because parts of its cargo, huge blocks of beeswax destined to be turned into candles for Spanish mission churches, have been dug out of the sand near where the wreck is thought to lie.

"There are oral histories of anywhere from nobody to 30 survivors [from that wreck]," Mr. Williams says. According to native oral history, the Spaniards who survived that wreck were later killed in a battle on the coast.

Dr. Copp and Mr. Williams weren't aware of each other's research until recently. Now they are in contact and wondering if there might be a connection between the old Spanish weapons in the Okanagan, and the shipwrecks on the coast.

Dr. Copp is also talking with Ms. Aird about collaborative research involving First Nations oral history and he has identified an unusual mound in the Okanagan that might be an ancient burial site.


1 Between 1694 and 1725, two Spanish galleons are wrecked on the Oregon Coast; a third ship is lost on the coast, location unknown.

2 Native reports along the Columbia River say survivors of at least one of those wrecks travelled inland.

3 An old Spanish sword, said to have been found locally, is held by the Penticton Museum. A spearhead, tentatively identified as a 17thor 18th-century Spanish spontoon, unearthed on native land by a farmer, is held in the Kamloops Museum.

4 Legend in B.C.'s south Okanagan Valley tells of a fight between Spanish soldiers and natives in the Similkameen Valley. A column of Spaniards is said to have been attacked as they headed south, after wintering in the Okanagan Valley, perhaps as far north as Kelowna.

Associated Graphic

The discovery of a Spanish sword in the Okanagan Valley suggests that the Spanish visited British Columbia almost 250 years ago.


This pictograph found in a cave suggests slaves being taken, possibly by Spanish explorers.



This blade was determined to be of Spanish origin based on photos sent to the Canadian War Museum.


Change for Chinatown
The arrival of new condo towers in the heritage district has community groups worried
Saturday, January 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S5

King-mong Chan, who was born in Hong Kong and came to Canada at the age of 1, says he has been discovering his roots through Vancouver's historic Chinatown. But as encroaching new midrise condo developments threaten the culture and charm of the tiny neighbourhood - with a history that goes back to the 1880s - he's wondering if there will be anything left of Chinese tradition once the condo developers are finished with it.

"There shouldn't be any more condos," says Mr. King-mong.

"We've seen enough development. It's like a train unleashed."

Mr. Chan is part of a coalition of young Chinese-Canadians that has formed in the last couple of years in reaction to the sweeping changes in Chinatown. Many see them as the voice of a movement to save Chinatown before it's too late.

For some, Chinatown's sudden infusion of condos is a case of, "Be careful what you wish for."

For others, it's exactly what they feared would happen after new zoning allowed for taller buildings.

For more than a decade, Chinatown and the area around it had been suffering from a lack of vitality. The demographic had aged, businesses were hurting and, at night, the sidewalks were dead. Members of Chinatown's business community wanted a solution, so the city held a series of public consultations and eventually rezoned the area to make way for buildings as high as 17 storeys along Main Street. The idea was that density, by way of condos, would revitalize the area and get shoppers into stores.

The plan had the support of Mayor Gregor Robertson, and it had significant pushback from Chinatown residents, including many seniors who felt they weren't being heard. Former Downtown Eastside city planner Nathan Edelson, who at the time approved of the rezoning, also cautiously noted: "If the market is just left to its own devices, it will push people out."

And, sure enough, the ensuing rush to develop has left many in the community feeling blindsided. Or, as Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Gardens co-architect Joe Wai puts it: "It's becoming the demolition of a historical district.

"What we are seeing is not even [like] Yaletown. Chinatown is being treated as a commodity, as opposed to community or history or character of the place. Where else do we get character places in Vancouver anymore? Gastown, Chinatown and funny old Commercial Drive - that's where you feel there is a sense of place."

Mr. Wai had initially approved of the relaxation on Chinatown building heights, but the trade-off was supposed to be significant community benefits, including social housing and historically sensitive building design.

"We can't wish for the Chinatown of 1886 or 1947, when the Chinese got the vote, or even the 1960s, when it was booming. It's different now, but different doesn't mean you change the whole character."

Not long after the city passed the new Chinatown plan, residents were startled by the quick development of three condo projects on Main Street. Wall Financial Corp. followed with the purchase of the block at 288 E.

Hastings and, last year, evicted seven retailers that catered to the low-income community, including a barber who charged $8 for a haircut, a barbecued-meat store and a bakery. The butcher moved out of the area. Golden Wheat Bakery, a Chinatown institution, is scrambling to find a new retail space nearby.

Chinatown storefronts are 25 feet wide, but developers are assembling properties that will have much wider storefronts, and bigger rents, argues Mr. Wai.

The developer has plans for a 12-storey tower with 68 market rental units, 104 social housing units and ground-floor retail.

Most of the social housing units would measure an estimated 255 square feet and rent for $912 a month, as currently set by BC Housing Income Limits, according to the Carnegie Community Action Project website.

The Development Permit Board will decide on the application at a city hall meeting on Monday at 3 p.m.

Mr. Chan says he'll be there.

"There was this belief that if we had wealthier residents in the area, it would make Chinatown thrive," says Mr. Chan, seated in the Carnegie Community Centre at Hastings and Main, where he has an office. Mr. Chan, who has a degree in social work, grew up in Toronto and now lives in Richmond. Like other young ChineseCanadians, he sees Chinatown as symbolic of the struggle that early Chinese immigrants endured, including discrimination, low wages and the vital role they played as labourers, including their work on the Canadian railroad. Chinatown had formed out of a shared history, language and culture, and its residents provided for each other, he says. The clan associations built cheap oneroom accommodations for lowincome residents, many of whom still pay around $300 a month.

Gentrification is already sweeping the area as a result of the rezoning. It seems as though a hip new upscale coffee shop or home furnishings shop is opening every other day. But low-income Chinese seniors aren't interested in a $5 latte.

"Some see it as a dignity issue, what's happening in Chinatown," says Mr. Chan. "By building midrise towers and changing the retail, it is almost an attack on Chinese people. There's the need to defend Chinatown and to protect and honour how it came to be and, right now, it's not honouring that.

"We need to move toward a Chinatown that is more equitable, and not just about money, which is the feeling among seniors in the town hall meetings that we hold regularly. For a lot of people, Chinatown is their roots."

Last year, Mr. Chan's group presented the city with a petition consisting of 1,400 signatures from people calling for a moratorium on development until the city adopted a policy to protect Chinatown and create more housing for seniors.

"What's really frustrating is the city is saying it's a done deal, so they won't accept any other community plans," says Chanel Ly, seated across from Mr. Chan. Ms.

Ly is an outreach worker for seniors in Chinatown, and an organizer of another group, Youth for Chinese Seniors.

"But from what I remember, the local residents, the Chinese seniors, weren't consulted."

A major source of their concern in the last year has been the Beedie Group proposal at 105 Keefer, in the historical heart of Chinatown. The developer applied to rezone the site, currently a parking lot, to allow for a 13-storey residential development that will include 25 units of seniors' housing. Opponents argue that a big residential project will dilute the character and importance of the street, which includes the Chinese Cultural Centre and a monument to Chinese war veterans.

Last fall, former premier Mike Harcourt spoke publicly against the project, saying it would dwarf surrounding heritage.

"If you let this Beedie thing go, the scale of it, then other developers will offer ridiculous money to other [landowners] and do the same thing," says Mr. Wai, a board member of the Building Community Society of Greater Vancouver. Mr. Harcourt is the chair.

"Before you know it, there's no more Chinatown. I call what's happening right now the Alamo - but we're not going to get killed," he adds, laughing.

Everyone agrees that Chinatown's survival comes down to the seniors. They are a vulnerable group, isolated by age and often a language barrier, says Ms. Ly.

"There are a lot of impoverished seniors. All are living on oldage security. Some have family and some don't. Some have a lot of medical problems, and some live in self-contained units, and others are in single-room occupancies. Some are facing rent increases that they can't afford."

If they are pushed out, Chinatown will become little more than a Disneyfied version of its former self.

Doris Chow, along with her sister June, founded the Youth Collaborative for Chinatown as a step toward reintegrating seniors.

They formed when the 17-yearold annual Chinatown night market shut down in 2014. The market had been a summertime gathering spot for seniors in the area, so the group formed a monthly, year-round mahjong social that's proved popular with all ages and backgrounds.

"Seniors loved the night market. Without it, they'd be stuck in their rooms," says Ms. Chow.

"And we need to keep the seniors."

And yet, Ms. Chow says they've only seen 22 new units of seniors' housing arrive under the new Chinatown plan.

"We haven't seen anything significant. We're not getting money to restore the heritage buildings.

All we're getting is skateboard shops. It's a lot of new business catering to a specific demographic."

She questions why revitalization has taken the form of condos when Granville Island is a popular destination that thrives without condos.

"Chinatown is a living history ... If we don't preserve this historic neighbourhood, I don't know what kind of legacy that is."

Associated Graphic



Top: King-mong Chan, right, in downtown Vancouver's Chinatown with youth worker Doris Chow, left, and outreach worker Chanel Ly, worries encroaching condo developments threaten the culture and charm of the neighbourhood.

Why hide your love story - the dating-site exchanges, courtship texts, emails and Insta snaps - in the depths of your phone when you can preserve (and present) them in a book or on a scroll? Zosia Bielski surveys the many new options for making digital ephemera last
Thursday, February 4, 2016 – Print Edition, Page L1

When comedian Aziz Ansari began courting his girlfriend, he put his flirtatious text messaging game into overdrive. Nonchalantly, he invited the woman out for "din din," dropping references to his standup career and Hokey Pokey cookies, the ones she baked at Momofuku Milk Bar, where she worked as pastry chef.

Privately though, Ansari was freaking out: He had frantically vetted that cookie text with a friend, rewriting the message several times. And to avoid looking "over-eager," he waited until 10:13 the next morning to hit send.

Ansari landed the date, and a year later, his girlfriend resuscitated those first tentative notes, gifting Ansari a large book that compiled their entire text-message history up to the first anniversary. It was a voyeuristic peek into the early, heady days of their relationship. They were typed and time-stamped memories that people who dated in the era of landlines never had the privilege (or embarrassment) of revisiting this way.

"Digital technology gives all of us the chance to have this very unique record of our romantic relationships," Ansari observed in his recent book Modern Love, which traces the impact technology is having on our intimate lives. "Although these new tools may cause us all stress and angst," he continued, "the same technology has also given us all a new place to store, remember and share our love for each other."

Like Ansari and his girlfriend, a growing number of partners are taking stock of romantic relics buried in their technology.

With modern courtship now spanning texts, e-mails, Facebook posts, WhatsApp messages, online dating site exchanges and Instagram photos, some couples don't want their experiences locked away behind illuminated screens. The more retrospective among us want to collect those archives in one place, print them and hold them closer.

A number of apps and services have started catering to people with that nostalgic urge, turning digital ephemera into more tangible artifacts - from encyclopediasized tomes of personal e-mails, to high-quality magazines featuring your most treasured Instagram snaps, to old-timey paper scrolls printed with special textmessage exchanges.

For her 10th wedding anniversary, Montreal journalist Marion Kressmann received three such scrolls from her husband, Sylvain Lumbroso. With the help of a service called, Lumbroso printed eight months' worth of long-distance courtship texts onto the tiny scrolls. In the last message, the two finally agreed to meet in person. "It was a good memory that we keep as a symbol of our marriage," said Kressmann, 39, who plans on leaving the scrolls to her two daughters as something of a legacy. launched two years ago in France, after co-founder Martin Daniel decided to print out his text message history with a longdistance girlfriend as a gift. Since then, has processed about 100 million texts. Most customers are partners printing off their giddy first exchanges, although some go further. One of's largest shipments was 300 scrolls at once; the client was a husband who had recently lost his wife.

"Those text messages tell the story you had with somebody from the beginning when you first met to the path you've had together," Daniel said.

Another service, txt-book, an app for Android and iPhone, lets people compile their texts in books and magazines in one of two formats: one looks like the text bubbles on your smartphone and the other is typeset like a romance novel.

"We call it the modern love letter, these text-message snippets that we send back and forth every day in relationships," said Scott Kochlefl, a 36-year-old who came up with the idea with his husband, George Tyler Barnet.

Barnet, 32, decided to compile a book of texts for their six-month anniversary. He had to manually transcribe all of the texts in Microsoft Word, a process that took three weeks. The two decided to make the process more seamless for other couples.

"We'll take out our books every six months and pick a random page," Kochlefl said of his own txt-book. "We're on the floor, dying and laughing. You change so much and you don't realize it until you can actually look at it all. It's like people wishing they had somebody take their picture on the day they met. Here, you can go back to a specific day or a random page and see what was on your mind that day, what was a big deal and what wasn't. Did you have a fight or did you not?

It's a very interesting chronological diary of your relationship."

Kochlefl said the book form lets couples trace the arch of a relationship from coy banter to the steamy months, right through to the domesticity of a long-term union: "It's basically down to the grocery lists, but people like to save this stuff." Some partners even make books after a breakup: "Think of it as volumes on your bookshelf," Kochlefl said. "This was Jeff. This was Jim. This is Chris."

Indeed, the sheer volume of romantic correspondence today is staggering: most txt-books contain between 10,000 and 25,000 text messages, with many of the relationships just a year old. "We just created a txt-book that had 179,000 texts in it," said Kochlefl, who routinely compiles 500page, dictionary-sized tomes that go back five years. "Can you imagine the First World War, trying to send a love letter? You'd get three of them," he said with a laugh.

Constant connection is a hallmark of our modern relationships, which makes archiving all the more complicated. We send roughly 224 million text messages a day in this country, this as phone calls decline. Dating in the era of snail mail and phone calls meant there were far fewer momentoes to catalogue, said Wendy Duff, interim dean of the faculty of information at the University of Toronto.

"So much of our conversation used to be face-to-face. Then, we have these beautiful letters from the 1800s. Then the phone comes in and replaces that letter writing.

Now, lo and behold, we have texts, a medium of writing for which there is a record left," said Duff, who studies archives. "This need to hold onto something that we might not be able to revisit is a deep part of us."

Duff said that putting your most prized texts, e-mails and photographs on paper signals a distrust for the digital and an urge for preservation - for when your hard drive inexplicably crashes and corrupts all of your wedding photos. "Here we are taking a link to our most precious memories and we put it into what is really a black box. There is a very real fear - as a person who's constantly breaking my phone - that you will lose these items. They seem so much more ephemeral in the digital world."

George Sylvain, who co-founded Social Print Studio, which prints customers' photos onto pretty much any surface offscreen, echoes Duff, adding that some of his clients really don't trust the Internet with their stuff.

"Baby photos especially can lead to this extra level of distrust: 'Who owns my baby photos?' Getting them printed is a nice way to declare your ownership over them."

Also leery of storing thousands of baby pictures on their phones, Scott Valins and his wife Elizabeth founded Recently, a monthly print magazine curated from your personal Instagram photos.

Set to launch in Canada in February, the subscription service lets users pick their favourite most recent 100 Instagram pics, printing them on hard card stock for $8.99 (U.S.) an issue.

"We're of that generation that has one foot in the analog world and one in the digital, and we felt unfulfilled having all of this stuff behind a screen," said Valins, adding that aside from parents, expats and military families are sending loved ones these personal magazines to share what life is like where they are.

That's the heartwarming side of the trend. It isn't hard, however, to read some of its proponents' projects as an exercise in selfabsorption. A magazine customized with your Instagram pics goes well beyond the family album, positioning its subject as a lifestyle brand.

"I'm sure there are some people out there who are going to make books of selfies," Valins acknowledged. But he added that it's human to look at photos: "It's something you're supposed to hold and think about."

As for archiving your honeymoon-phase texts in a hardcover book, Kochlefl said this also comes with hidden benefits. Such tangible evidence of courtship can serve as a reminder for longterm, committed couples to step it up.

"You really do forget how much you try in the beginning," Kochlefl said. "It's really nice to go back and remember that you actually tried to impress the other person. We really put a lot of time and energy into relationships and it's nice to remember that we still have to."

Follow me on Twitter: @ZosiaBielski

Associated Graphic


Txt-book, top, lets people compile their texts in books and magazines, while, above, produces old-timey paper scrolls printed with special text-message exchanges.

The hair up there
To shave or not to shave? For centuries, it has been the most important question a man has faced. From goatees to chinstraps, soul patches to Van Dykes, a new book explores the often hairy history of facial fuzz
Saturday, January 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page R13

Of Beards and Men: The Revealing History of Facial Hair By Christopher Oldstone-Moore University of Chicago Press, 338 pages, $42.79

This past June, during the height of the Stanley Cup finals, the hockey world found itself gripped by controversy. As the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Chicago Blackhawks went head-tohead on the ice, NBC Sports chairman Mark Lazarus started a battle of his own when he lobbied the NHL to officially ban playoff beards.

For Lazarus, whose network was broadcasting the playoffs in the United States, where interest in hockey is modest, this was framed as largely a financial concern. "Let's get their faces out there," he told The Chicago Tribune. "I know it's a tradition and superstition, but I think [the beards do] hurt recognition. [Players] have a great opportunity with more endorsements. Or simply more recognition with fans saying, 'That guy looks like the kid next door,' which many of these guys do."

The backlash to Lazarus's proposal was swift - not just from the players, for whom playoffs beards are a decades-old tradition in the NHL, but also from the fans. Watching your favourite team slowly sprout facial hair over the course of the spring is a nice visual complement to the gauntlet that is playoff hockey, where many players fight through injury for a taste of victory: a ragged beard to match their ragged bodies. A beard is also a sign of dedication, as if players are spending so much time at the rink and in the gym that they couldn't possibly find time for the razor. Plus, of course, it's entertainment fodder.

Every year fans delight in tracking who has the best playoff beard, and (especially) who has the worst. Chicago captain Jonathan Toews, for instance, may be talented enough to lead his team to three Cups in six years, but even he has reluctantly accepted that a full, thick playoff beard will always remain just out of reach.

Besides, were beards really as acute a problem as Lazarus claimed? After all, a beard isn't a disguise for the face. Many would argue that it's actually an accessory to it, albeit a rarely used one. Lazarus ultimately wasn't able to convince the NHL, but he's far from the first to try controlling male facial hair in the name of some larger purpose. In fact, he's part of a surprisingly grand tradition, as historian Christopher OldstoneMoore could attest.

"The history of men is literally written on their faces," writes the Ohio-based academic in Of Beards and Men, a new and wide-ranging cultural inventory. Perhaps because of that visibility, beards have always carried a strong moral and symbolic power, even as the tenor of that power (good or bad) has proven difficult to pin down.

To illustrate the book's fundamental tension, the inside flap of the dust jacket features two author photos. In one, Oldstone-Moore wears a thin, dark beard; in the other, he's fully shorn. Readers can choose which image of the author they want to mentally accompany them as they go.

Considered at book length, what's most immediately striking about beards is their scarcity. As Oldstone-Moore makes clear, ever since Alexander the Great first ordered his troops to shave before battle some 2,300 years ago, a shorn face has been the standard for much of Western civilization. This reign has been interrupted by "four great beard movements" along the way. Yet, like beards themselves, even these were often patchy and short.

The first beard movement took place in the second century, when the Roman emperor Hadrian led by example, thus convincing his subjects to give up shaving for the next hundred years or so. The second, during the High Middle Ages, saw kings and nobles grow luxuriant beards to match their splendorous armour, even as the clergy continued going bare-faced in the name of the Lord. The Renaissance was home to the third beard movement, partly as a popular rebellion against that church-dictated value system. And the final one came during the latter half of the 19th century, as a new wave of bodyfirst masculinity took its cues from Walt Whitman declaring, in Leaves of Grass, "Washes and razors for foofoos ... for me freckles and a bristling beard."

The crux of Oldstone-Moore's argument is that trends in male facial hair are never just a matter of fashion, or personal preference, or even practicality. He debunks, for instance, the legend that Alexander's men shaved so that enemy troops couldn't grab them by their beards, thereby gaining a tactical advantage. Hadrian wasn't merely growing his beard out to cover a facial blemish, either, as is also popularly believed. Rather, a society that encourages men to grow beards - or to shave them off - is making a conscious effort to redefine its conception of masculinity itself. For Hadrian, this meant a realignment with the male philosopher class, who had kept their beards all along and ridiculed those who hadn't. And for Alexander, some 500 years earlier, the statement was even more dramatic, since in his time, appearing clean-shaved was a look reserved for gods. By encouraging his troops to shave their beards, as he had already done, Alexander was essentially telling them that they, too, were godlike - not to mention categorically different from "the inferior, bearded Asians they confronted."

Throughout the history of the West, we see this pattern repeat itself, even as the specific contexts come and go. Beards are always categorical walls, separating one type of man from another.

In general, facial hair tends to be associated with man in his so-called natural state: rugged and strong, but also brutish and uncivilized. Shaving, meanwhile, is linked with concepts such as modernity, weakness, femininity and (just maybe) godliness. Put another way: Men let their beards grow when they want to return to nature, and shave them off when they want to transcend it.

No matter what theory is in vogue at a given time, there are always scientists on hand who are ready to back it up. Some ancient Greeks believed that beards were the result of semen, which was believed to be stored inside men's heads, getting accidentally trapped in the chin region en route to their penises during sex, and then fertilized into hair by an inner "vital heat."

Scientists today are no less committed to the cause. Maybe my favourite detail in OldstoneMoore's book is the researcher who, in the 1970s, carefully weighed his beard trimmings to show that his facial hair grew faster on days before he travelled to meet his lover, thanks to extra androgen produced by sexual anticipation.

Ultimately, it comes down to optics. Politicians in particular are often closely associated with their facial hair, from Lincoln's chin curtain to Hitler's mustache to Thomas Mulcair's bristles (which might explain why so few of them wear it these days). But beards can also serve as larger Rorschach tests, in which different societies look at the same image and come to wildly different conclusions, and sometimes the real history must be retrofitted to match the symbolism of the day. Today we think of Jesus Christ looking like a medium-bearded ur-hippie, but for the first 500 years of Christian art, he was depicted as a smooth-cheeked figure similar to the Greekstyle gods the Romans were used to seeing. The beard was only introduced when the church wanted to emphasize Jesus postresurrection: different from the cherubic angels he was surrounded by in Heaven, as well as visibly burdened by his ordeals on Earth. Even in eras when beards were shunned, the symbolism lived on: a fresh-faced, 12th-century bishop encouraged his fellow men seeking strength to "let our interior beard grow."

By his own admission, Oldstone-Moore's book has limitations. It is almost exclusively focused on elite males from Western Europe and North America. Anyone looking for insight into the significance of facial hair in Eastern cultures and religions will come up empty-handed (personally, when I think "beard," the first thing that comes to mind isn't David Beckham's calculated stubble, but the glorious, why-do-I-even-bother whiskers worn by my Sikh friends).

But when it comes to charting a path through facial hair's woolly past in the West, Of Beards and Men does a fine job - even if it does end on a rather uncertain note. Despite their cachet in certain cultural circles and at certain times of the year (see, if you must, Movember), actual beards are still in short supply. Modern-day science is conflicted over why men have them, whether women are attracted to them and even whether anyone likes them at all, period. After all these years, beards remain mysterious to the end.

And as Oldstone-Moore writes, this could all change on a dime. "When facial hair becomes desirable, or even acceptable, for soldiers, managers, and legislators," he writes, "we will know that a new chapter in the story of masculinity has begun."

Michael Hingston is the Edmonton-based author of The Dilettantes. He started growing a beard over the holidays and it isn't going well.

Associated Graphic


Strange bedfellows in Alberta
Once bitter rivals, Postmedia's Calgary Sun-Calgary Herald merger signals more than just a media corporation's financial struggles
Saturday, January 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A6

CALGARY -- Calgary Sun reporters chasing stories in the nineties had perfected the art of midnight apologies.

The tabloid went to press after the Calgary Herald, giving the Sun an edge when the two newspapers competed bitterly.

Reporters working the Sun's late shift had to go to the docks of the Herald's printing press and grab a copy of the broadsheet as they were loaded on to delivery trucks every night. If the Herald had a scoop, the Sun reporter had to match it before the tabloid went to press. The night reporter had to make midnight phone calls to politicians and sources, begging and apologizing at the same time. Letting the Herald waltz away with an important story was not an option. Editors yelled.

The nasty rivalry and professional consequences dwindled over the years, although beating the competition never went out of style. Now the battle is over: Journalists at the Sun and Herald who survived layoffs this week are on the same team, working on stories that appear in both papers. In Alberta's capital, the Edmonton Journal and Edmonton Sun also merged their newsrooms and advertising teams. Their owner, Postmedia Network Canada Corp., is doing the same for its dailies in Vancouver and Ottawa as it tries to find millions of dollars to meet its financial obligations.

Roughly 90 journalists lost their jobs Tuesday, with more to come. A combined 60 journalists lost their jobs in Calgary and Edmonton. At least one Journal reporter quit after surviving the layoffs.

The fallout is about more than adding a small number of people to the list of thousands of unemployed Albertans. It is, instead, about whether Postmedia's remaining journalists can effectively hold politicians and organizations to account, deliver a diversity of opinions, and produce newspapers that are different enough to retain separate audiences and advertisers, despite containing slews of news stories that are nearly identical.

It is also about whether the consequences of not merging the newsrooms would be even more troublesome.

"If you have fewer people asking questions, you're going to get fewer answers," Stephanie Coombs, the Edmonton Journal's managing editor who was let go in the sweep, said this week. "That's bad for the public ... If you're not asking questions and people aren't telling stories, who is going to expose wrongdoing?" Further, without competition between newspapers, the thrill of beating the competition evaporates. That, too, means less pressure on everyone, from police chiefs to officials running homeless shelters.

Last year, Postmedia last year bought Sun Media's English-language news organizations, pledging to operate separate newsrooms in cities where it owned more than one title. The Competition Bureau approved the $316-million deal. Its papers in Calgary and Edmonton are not unionized.

Guy Huntingford served as the Calgary Herald's publisher between August, 2010, and May, 2013, as well as other senior roles within Postmedia and its predecessor companies. Postmedia's decision to buy the Sun papers and merge newsrooms will save the papers, he said.

"You have to look at the other side of the equation, which is, if they don't do this, they go away completely," he said. "Individually, both organizations were going down a path that was probably going to push them to their demise. Putting them together gave them new life.

That's a good thing."

Mr. Huntingford, who himself was bumped out of the Postmedia conglomerate, said the Herald and Journal were profitable during his time at the chain. He estimates the Herald and Journal were either the top two money-makers or, at worst, placed first and third.

"They [were a] hugely, enormously, important part of the Postmedia empire."

But the chain's healthy papers have been dragged down as the conglomerate directs cash toward its debt obligations.

Postmedia's operating profit reached $19.4-million in the first quarter, up from $18-million in the same stretch a year prior.

However, the company's interest expenses hit $18.7-million, up from $15.3-million from the comparable quarter, according to financial results dated Jan. 13.

Postmedia lost $4.2-million in the quarter, compared to $10.2million a year prior.

The company, which also owns the National Post, has $25.9-million of long-term debt due in 2016; another $302.7-million due in 2017; and $353.4-million due in 2017, according to the company's 2015 annual report. It must also make interest payments on this debt, and as of August, 2015, it expected to pay $70.5-million in interest in 2016 alone. The company is trying to refinance its debt.

Most of its debt is owned by Canso Investment Counsel Ltd. in Richmond Hill, Ont., and GoldenTree Asset Management in New York. Paul Godfrey, Postmedia's chief executive, this week said this week that none of the company's papers lose money.

Media organizations around the globe are struggling to make a profit as more people read news online. With fewer print subscribers, newspapers can not charge as much for advertisements. But, at the same time, online ads sell at a steep discount and online subscriptions have not been enough to make up the difference. The Toronto Star last week said it plans to shutter its main printing plant and cut more than 300 people, including about a dozen journalists.

Postmedia said its broadsheets, which that used to compete against its tabloids, will remain unique even though its journalists no longer compete.

"The street-level view of the city, served up with a bit of sass and a healthy sports package will remain at the core of the Sun, while the more seriousminded Herald will retain its focus on Calgary's politics, arts and business," Gerry Nott, the senior vice-president of content at Postmedia, wrote in a note to readers in Thursday's Calgary Sun. "Local voices, those columnists who engage or enrage you, will remain distinct to each of the titles.

"And the voices of the papers themselves will remain strong and separate."

The promise's limits appeared in Thursday's Calgary papers.

The Calgary Sun ran a picture of what appears to be a chihuahua on its front page, with a headline that said "Cheating Dogs," guiding readers to a story about the unregulated certification system for service animals.

The Herald went with photos of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Davos, Switzerland, and a file photo of the city's mayor, Naheed Nenshi. The main story on the front page was about a city councillor calling for a $60million tax break for small and medium-sized businesses. Their respective columnists appeared only in their historical papers.

However, the Herald and Sun made only minor changes to the overlapping news stories in each paper. A story on gasoline prices, for example, appeared on the third page of both papers, under the same byline.

The first paragraph of the respective stories were different, but the articles were otherwise identical save for seven minute tweaks. The changes: "some other" in the Sun became "other local" in the Herald; an "and" in the Sun was changed to a "but" in the Herald; "the foreseeable future" became "some time"; and a "the" became a "that."

Jose Rodriguez is now the editor-in-chief of the Calgary Herald and Calgary Sun. Mr. Rodriguez, who previously led the Sun, declined to comment.

Lorne Motley is now in charge of the two Edmonton papers, leaving his post as the Herald's top editor.

He directed questions to a Postmedia spokesperson who did not return a call seeking comment.

Margo Goodhand, the Edmonton Journal's editor-in-chief, was also pushed out, along with Ms. Coombs. Ms. Goodhand, who spoke up after Postmedia forced its papers to endorse the Conservative Party of Canada in the general election, declined to comment. Postmedia also let go Donna Harker, the Edmonton Sun's managing editor. She declined to comment.

Alberta's opposition parties all argued the cuts will hurt the province's political system.

Brian Jean, the leader of the Official Opposition, said the province is already short on journalists. "As disturbing as it is, we now have more PR people working for the Alberta government spinning stories than we have reporters writing stories," the Wildrose Party leader said.

"These cuts are going to constrain the public's ability to have ample discourse and to discuss all the issues."

Premier Rachel Notley declined an interview request submitted Tuesday. Instead, her spokeswoman sent a statement from the province's leader. "I'm troubled to hear about more job losses in Alberta at a time when our province is struggling. I am also concerned over the concentration of ownership and editorial control that now exists within Alberta's print media," the statement said.

"Journalism is so important to a healthy democracy and this loss of opinion leaders in our province will surely undermine the level of public discourse and discussion on important issues.

Associated Graphic



Tuesday, January 26, 2016


A Saturday news story on Postmedia incorrectly said it has two long-term debts due in 2017. In fact, those debts referenced are for $302.7-million in long-term debt in 2017, and $353.4-million in 2018.

La Loche turns to forgiveness, healing in wake of shootings
Community mourns four victims, including two young brothers, killed by gunman during rampage
Monday, January 25, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A1

LA LOCHE, SASK. -- Archbishop Murray Chatlain, in green robes and a beaded crucifix around his neck, stood before a congregation of 250 people in La Loche on Sunday with a message: Do not be angry at the teenage boy accused of killing four people in this northern community last week.

Two of the four who died were teenage brothers. Their grandparents wanted the archbishop to ask their friends and neighbours to forgive the shooter and pray for him and the victims.

"One of the traditions in this Dene community is that we have prayer intentions at the beginning of mass," the archbishop said after the service. "The family itself offered the [prayer] intention."

The grandparents attended the Sunday morning service at Our Lady of the Visitation Roman Catholic Church. The congregation sang in Dene and English before and during the service. Some adults held children in their laps. The worn wooden pews, painted blue, were full. Community members also prayed from the church's balcony. They wore winter coats in the nippy building. Candles burned at the front of the church.

Drayden Fontaine, 13, and Dayne Fontaine, 17, were killed in a yellow home on the shore of Lac La Loche. The alleged shooter then killed two adults at the La Loche Community School. Politicians in the town are calling for the school to be torn down.

"The hope is that there is not just attention [on La Loche] today, but government [will continue to pay attention] over the years ahead for the people that are genuinely looking for some healing and help," the archbishop, who led this church between 2000 and 2001 and can speak a limited amount of Dene, said after mass.

The mother of the two deceased teenagers posted on Facebook this weekend: "My heart shattered into a million pieces," she said. "So sad I don't have no more babies."

The 17-year-old accused shooter cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. He has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder.

The RCMP allege that the accused killed two brothers Friday in a part of town known as Other Village. A faded white fence surrounds the yard, where a handful of poplar and spruce trees are growing. A small boat and two swing sets - one broken - are also in the yard. A light is on in the basement, as well as some on the main floor. Christmas lights are strung around a utility pole in the yard.

The alleged shooter then went to the La Loche Community School, where he shot a number of staff and students early Friday afternoon, RCMP believe. Marie Janvier was declared deceased at the school. She was a 21-year-old rookie teacher's aide. Adam Wood, a 35-year-old teacher from Uxbridge, Ont., was transported to hospital where he was later declared dead. He started at the La Loche school in September. Seven others were hit. One of the wounded will undergo surgery Monday, a relative told the hundreds gathered at a vigil Sunday night.

Georgina Jolibois, the Member of Parliament for Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River, said the school should be demolished.

"Tear down the building, rebuild the building," she said. "There's so much pain, so much trauma. They need to rebuild.

"The families are hurting, the youth are hurting, the community is hurting. The north is hurting," she said. "When you listen to the community, when you listen to the youth, when you listen to the elders, and the pain - they will say that also."

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall came to La Loche Sunday to meet with the community. After getting together with community leaders, he walked side by side with other dignitaries as they placed a single flower arrangement in the snow in front of the memorial at the La Loche Community School.

The community, he said, needs support now and in the years to come, Mr. Wall told residents standing in front of the school. "You will not be walking through this alone." Mr. Wall said that counselling resources are being provided for the community and he encouraged people who needed help to reach out.

In an earlier news conference, he said there have been some difficult discussions on when to reopen the school.

"The first parameter would be not until every single student and every single member of the staff and parents and grandparents feel that it is a safe place. And if that takes more of a presence from police, or if it takes something else, the provincial government, the government of Saskatchewan is going to be there to provide it, not just for the short term, but for as long as it's deemed necessary, " he said.

Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde, federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, Ms. Jolibois and La Loche's acting mayor Kevin Janvier joined Mr. Wall at the memorial. They spoke with residents, shook hands, offered hugs and posed for pictures.

Mr. Goodale told reporters that the government must listen to the community and learn from this incident and "respond appropriately."

"We need to rebuild the resilience. We need to make sure that the safety and security systems are appropriate and strong. We need to make sure that those who are wounded and suffering are properly taken care of, both in the physical sense and the psychological sense. And we have to find the long-term solutions."

Mr. Bellegarde also said that there needs to be a focus on the long term.

"And how do you have a longterm strategy to end violence? That's the ultimate goal, violence in our communities," he said. "We start thinking about the gap we always refer to, between the quality of life between First Nations people and the rest of society. And this tragedy speaks to the need to really work together to develop that long-term strategy, provide hope for our young people."

Ronnie Lemaigre, who is heavily involved in the community and church, believes the mother of the deceased brothers dropped them off at school Friday morning. She then left La Loche, flying to her job at the McArthur River uranium mine, he said. She returned Friday because of the shootings.

The family of the accused has had limited contact with the teen, the archbishop said. The teenager is scheduled to appear in court Monday in Meadow Lake.

David Ruelling's niece and nephew were at the school when the shooting began. The students described a terrifying scene to Mr. Ruelling in which the gunman tried to enter the classrooms and shot through a door.

In the nephew's classroom, as the danger became clearer, the lights were turned off and the door was locked.

"[My nephew] said the shooter checked the doorknob and when he found it locked, he just kept going. He was shooting as he was going down the hallway," said Mr. Ruelling, himself a teacher at the Clearwater River Dene Nation School, 14 kilometres from the La Loche Community School. Mr. Ruelling's school was also put into lockdown on Friday as a result of events in La Loche.

His niece told him students were screaming and crying during the shooting.

"The students originally thought it was just a fight. Then they heard popping sounds," he said. In his 14-year-old niece's classroom, the gunman shot through the classroom door, leaving glass embedded in his niece's arm.

"Everybody's in shock. A school is the place where everybody thought kids would be safe. It's just sudden and horrible," Mr. Ruelling said.

The RCMP said it received several calls from teachers and students around 1 p.m. local time Friday, reporting a shooter in the school. The detachment is about one kilometre from the school.

* * * * *


Before 11 p.m.: Two teen brothers are gunned down in a home in the 300 block of Dene Crescent.

Shortly after 1 p.m.: Police begin receiving calls from frantic students and teachers saying there is a shooter in the school.

Between 1:08 p.m. and 1:10 p.m.: Police begin arriving at the school. They see a shooter inside and chase the individual deeper into the school.

1:15 p.m.: Police challenge the shooter and the individual surrenders without negotiation or incident. Officers find nine people shot, which included two fatalities.

After 1:15 p.m.: Police receive a call about a body in a house. They find two brothers - one 13, the other, 17 - dead.

Associated Graphic

Worshippers at the Church of Our Lady of the Visitation console each other on Sunday as they pray for the shooting victims.



Tuesday, January 26, 2016

'Had he not fallen, he would have made it'
Grieving friends say five men who died in Friday's B.C. avalanche were not young, high-risk, high-altitude snowmobilers
Monday, February 1, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S1

McBRIDE, B.C., VANCOUVER -- The five friends from Alberta were in high spirits Friday as they enjoyed a warm and bright day snowmobiling on Mount Renshaw. Before they could stop for lunch, they had to traverse one obstacle: an avalancheprone pass.

The first four snowmobilers had made it through the pass when they looked back and saw that John Garley had fallen off his snowmobile. The seasoned 49-year-old outdoorsman, from Stony Plain, Alta., was standing up and straightening his goggles as the rumbling started and a wall of snow descended.

In total, 17 people were in the path of the avalanche. Mr. Garley and four other Albertans died on the slopes of Mount Renshaw that day. His four friends survived and helped with rescue efforts.

Ian Park was only 250 metres away from Mr. Garley when the whooshing sound of at least 10,000 cubic metres of snow and debris began rushing down the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

Within moments, his friend disappeared in a white cloud.

"I was in shock, I was thinking 'Oh no,' I was in awe," he said.

"It was unfortunate, had he not fallen, he would have made it."

As snow was falling around their idling snowmobiles, Mr. Park and his three friends ran toward where Mr. Garley had been standing. They turned their personal beacons to receive, creating a chorus of chirping noises as they neared where their friend's beacon was buried in the snow.

Equipped with snow shovels and probes, they dug through the fresh snow, quickly hardening to the consistency of concrete. Within five minutes, the burly heavy-duty mechanic was dragged free.

"It was only five minutes. We instantly got on CPR," Mr. Park said. "It didn't work." He remained with Mr. Garley, performing CPR, as the other three moved on to help with the search effort unfolding in front of them.

The mountain is an alpine playground, a jewel in an area that markets itself as the mecca for Canadian snowmobiling.

With 5,200 hectares of groomed trails, snowmobilers can power up 2,200 metres of Rocky Mountain slope in the largest snowmobiling area in the Robson Valley, a well-known spot for snowmobilers near the Alberta border and about 20 kilometres northeast of the village of McBride, B.C.

On Saturday, B.C.'s Coroners Service released the identities of those who died, including Vincent Eugene Loewen, 52; Tony Christopher Greenwood, 41; Ricky Robinson, 55; and Todd William Chisholm, 47.

Dale Monaghan is a friend of Mr. Garley's group. He was riding on a nearby mountain when the avalanche happened. He says that hundreds of riders pass through the spot each day where the snow gave way around 1:30 p.m. on Friday.

"It's not like you go through that area crossing your fingers, and trying to get through fast like Russian Roulette," Mr. Monaghan said Sunday afternoon.

According to local search and rescue, 142 snowmobilers were on Mount Renshaw at the time.

The avalanche, which left a debris field of half a square kilometre, has been classified as a level 3.5 in intensity, strong enough to destroy an automobile.

Mr. Garley was part of one of four different groups that were caught in the avalanche. In all, five were killed and 12 were impacted. While the pass is a bottleneck on the mountain, Mr. Park has been snowmobiling on the mountain for 35 years and says he's never seen so many groups stop at once.

"I was surprised that they stopped at that spot, a bad spot," he said. "It's unusual that so many people stopped in a place like that. The training that you're supposed to have says you don't concentrate people in that kind of avalanche area because it increases the risk," he said.

Authorities do not yet know whether the avalanche was caused by human activity, but Mr. Monaghan, whose daughters grew up with Mr. Garley's two children, said his group of friends were hit by "a freak situation, because they would never put themselves in harm's way."

"They're not 30-year-old highrisk, high-altitude snowmobilers," said Mr. Monaghan, who had passed up an invitation for the annual guy's trip to the region for the second year in a row so he could take one of his daughters sledding nearby. "They love the mountains, are extremely well-prepared and all have the latest state-of-the-art equipment."

Mr. Park returned to the avalanche area on Sunday with another survivor to help recover Mr. Garley's snowmobile. Four more machines were slung under a helicopter and flown off the mountain on Sunday. Most showed signs of damage.

Mr. Garley's wife and two daughters released a statement on the weekend, saying that he died, "enjoying the majestic Canadian outdoors with friends.

John cared for and valued friendships dearly and for this he had many close friends, many of whom enjoyed with John and his family the incredible Canadian outdoors."

Dale Mason has been a member of the Robson Valley Search and Rescue team for more than 30 years. While the local avalanche danger was marked as considerable on the day of the slide, he cautions that considerable is the "normal" level for McBride.

"That's where the sign is most of the winter, it's a measured risk," he said.

Mr. Mason credited the training and preparedness of the men caught in the avalanche for the large number who survived.

"It was hard work for them.

They were shovelling, finding one body, and then another body, your heart really goes out for them," Mr. Mason said.

From the first helicopter taking off until the end of the recovery operation, the process took only two hours and 40 minutes, he said.

Loranne Martin, McBride's mayor, said the region had experienced a "strange" weather year, which had created instability on the slopes. "Sledding on the mountains can be very rewarding, but it can also be very dangerous," she said.

With more than half the people riding machines in the hills around the village of 600 visiting from Alberta, McBride's locals vow that snowmobiling will go on. "It's what helped build us as a town. It's what helps keep our businesses open, and our school and hospital. We don't have mills, we have snowmobiling," said Clint Traquair.


Climate change will bring warmer winter nights and a more stable snowpack to many parts of Western Canada's backcountry, which will reduce the overall risk of avalanches, one of the country's leading hydrologists says.

John Pomeroy, Canada Research Chair in water resources and climate change, said less frigid winters will mean less blowing snow, which means smaller cornices - a major factor in avalanches.

"The snow's whipped around by the wind, especially when it's dry and cold; so if it's warmer and wet, it will be sticky and less likely to blow around," said Dr. Pomeroy, director of the Centre for Hydrology at the University of Saskatchewan.

"If it can't blow, it can't form these big cornices at the mountaintops and those are where, traditionally, very big avalanches come down."

However, forecasting the dangers of an area will also become much more complex because extreme shifts in weather will likely lead to snowpacks forming in ways that are different, he said.

Dr. Pomeroy, who has been studying glaciers in the Rockies for decades, said it is too early to tell whether this winter in the region will be a repeat of last year's low overall snowfall. However, he said that so far both this year and last have seen heavy precipitation early in the season and then snow drop off to below the historical average in January.

Donita Kuzma, a regional coroner overseeing the investigation of Friday's avalanche, told The Globe on Sunday that her agency still hadn't determined whether the fatal event was caused by human activity.

An avalanche technician is expected to release findings Monday after examining the site on Saturday, she said.

There were 192 avalancherelated deaths in B.C. between 1996 and 2014, with an average of 10 deaths a year, according to B.C.'s Coroners Service. Forty-one per cent died while snowmobiling.

The majority of avalanche deaths occurred in B.C.'s Interior region.

Associated Graphic

A helicopter flies past a mountain near McBride, B.C., on Saturday, a day after five snowmobilers died in an avalanche.



Todd Chisholm

John Garley

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

'Had he not fallen, he would have made it'
Grieving friends say five men who died in Friday's B.C. avalanche were not young, high-risk, high-altitude snowmobilers
Monday, February 1, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A5

McBRIDE, B.C., VANCOUVER -- The five friends from Alberta were in high spirits Friday as they enjoyed a warm and bright day snowmobiling on Mount Renshaw. Before they could stop for lunch, they had to traverse one obstacle: an avalanche-prone pass.

The first four snowmobilers had made it through the pass when they looked back and saw that John Garley had fallen off his snowmobile. The seasoned 49year-old outdoorsman, from Stony Plain, Alta., was standing up and straightening his goggles as the rumbling started and a wall of snow descended.

In total, 17 people were in the path of the avalanche. Mr. Garley and four other Albertans died on the slopes of Mount Renshaw that day. His four friends survived and helped with rescue efforts.

Ian Park was only 250 metres away from Mr. Garley when the whooshing sound of at least 10,000 cubic metres of snow and debris began rushing down the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

Within moments, his friend disappeared in a white cloud.

"I was in shock, I was thinking 'Oh no,' I was in awe," he said. "It was unfortunate, had he not fallen, he would have made it." As snow was falling around their idling snowmobiles, Mr. Park and his three friends ran toward where Mr. Garley had been standing. They turned their personal beacons to receive, creating a chorus of chirping noises as they neared where their friend's beacon was buried in the snow.

Equipped with snow shovels and probes, they dug through the fresh snow, quickly hardening to the consistency of concrete. Within five minutes, the burly heavyduty mechanic was dragged free.

"It was only five minutes. We instantly got on CPR," said Mr. Park. "It didn't work." He remained with Mr. Garley, performing CPR, as the other three moved on to help with the search effort unfolding in front of them.

The mountain is an alpine playground, a jewel in an area that markets itself as the mecca for Canadian snowmobiling. With 5,200 hectares of groomed trails, snowmobilers can power up 2,200 metres of Rocky Mountain slope in the largest snowmobiling area in the Robson Valley, a well-known spot for snowmobilers near the Alberta border and about 20 kilometres northeast of the village of McBride, B.C.

On Saturday, B.C.'s Coroners Service released the identities of those who died, including Vincent Eugene Loewen, 52; Tony Christopher Greenwood, 41; Ricky Robinson, 55; and Todd William Chisholm, 47.

Dale Monaghan is a friend of Mr. Garley's group. He was riding on a nearby mountain when the avalanche happened. He says that hundreds of riders pass through the spot each day where the snow gave way around 1:30 p.m. on Friday.

"It's not like you go through that area crossing your fingers, and trying to get through fast like Russian Roulette," Mr. Monaghan said Sunday afternoon.

According to local search and rescue, 142 snowmobilers were on Mount Renshaw at the time.

The avalanche, which left a debris field of half a square kilometre, has been classified as a level 3.5 in intensity, strong enough to destroy an automobile.

Mr. Garley was part of one of four different groups that were caught in the avalanche. In all, five were killed and 12 were impacted. While the pass is a bottleneck on the mountain, Mr. Park has been snowmobiling on the mountain for 35 years and says he's never seen so many groups stop at once.

"I was surprised that they stopped at that spot, a bad spot," he said. "It's unusual that so many people stopped in a place like that. The training that you're supposed to have says you don't concentrate people in that kind of avalanche area because it increases the risk," he said.

Authorities do not yet know whether the avalanche was caused by human activity, but Mr. Monaghan, whose daughters grew up with Mr. Garley's two children, said his group of friends were hit by "a freak situation, because they would never put themselves in harm's way."

"They're not 30-year-old highrisk, high-altitude snowmobilers," said Mr. Monaghan, who had passed up an invitation for the annual guy's trip to the region for the second year in a row so he could take one of his daughters sledding nearby. "They love the mountains, are extremely wellprepared and all have the latest state-of-the-art equipment."

Mr. Park returned to the avalanche area on Sunday with another survivor to help recover Mr. Garley's snowmobile. Four more machines were slung under a helicopter and flown off the mountain on Sunday. Most showed signs of damage.

Mr. Garley's wife and two daughters released a statement on the weekend, saying that he died, "enjoying the majestic Canadian outdoors with friends.

John cared for and valued friendships dearly and for this he had many close friends, many of whom enjoyed with John and his family the incredible Canadian outdoors."

Dale Mason has been a member of the Robson Valley Search and Rescue team for more than 30 years. While the local avalanche danger was marked as considerable on the day of the slide, he cautions that considerable is the "normal" level for McBride.

"That's where the sign is most of the winter, it's a measured risk," he said.

Mr. Mason credited the training and preparedness of the men caught in the avalanche for the large number who survived.

"It was hard work for them.

They were shovelling, finding one body, and then another body, your heart really goes out for them," Mr. Mason said.

From the first helicopter taking off until the end of the recovery operation, the process took only two hours and 40 minutes, he said.

Loranne Martin, McBride's mayor, said the region had experienced a "strange" weather year, which had created instability on the slopes. "Sledding on the mountains can be very rewarding, but it can also be very dangerous," she said.

With more than half the people riding machines in the hills around the village of 600 visiting from Alberta, McBride's locals vow that snowmobiling will go on. "It's what helped build us as a town. It's what helps keep our businesses open, and our school and hospital. We don't have mills, we have snowmobiling," said Clint Traquair.


Climate change will bring warmer winter nights and a more stable snowpack to many parts of Western Canada's backcountry, which will reduce the overall risk of avalanches, one of the country's leading hydrologists says.

John Pomeroy, Canada Research Chair in water resources and climate change, said less frigid winters will mean less blowing snow, which means smaller cornices - a major factor in avalanches.

"The snow's whipped around by the wind, especially when it's dry and cold; so if it's warmer and wet, it will be sticky and less likely to blow around," said Dr. Pomeroy, director of the Centre for Hydrology at the University of Saskatchewan.

"If it can't blow, it can't form these big cornices at the mountaintops and those are where, traditionally, very big avalanches come down."

However, forecasting the dangers of an area will also become much more complex because extreme shifts in weather will likely lead to snowpacks forming in ways that are different, he said.

Dr. Pomeroy, who has been studying glaciers in the Rockies for decades, said it is too early to tell whether this winter in the region will be a repeat of last year's low overall snowfall. However, he said that so far both this year and last have seen heavy precipitation early in the season and then snow drop off to below the historical average in January.

Donita Kuzma, a regional coroner overseeing the investigation of Friday's avalanche, told The Globe on Sunday that her agency still hadn't determined whether the fatal event was caused by human activity.

An avalanche technician is expected to release findings Monday after examining the site on Saturday, she said.

There were 192 avalancherelated deaths in B.C. between 1996 and 2014, with an average of 10 deaths a year, according to B.C.'s Coroners Service. Forty-one per cent died while snowmobiling.

The majority of avalanche deaths occurred in B.C.'s Interior region.

Associated Graphic

A helicopter flies past a mountain near McBride, B.C., on Saturday, a day after five snowmobilers died in an avalanche.



John Garley

Todd Chisholm

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

A new exhibit at the Gladstone collects hundreds of found Polaroids - a window into the lives of black families. Co-curator Zun Lee hopes the project will help him find the father he never knew. Brad Wheeler reports
Saturday, February 6, 2016 – Print Edition, Page M1

His father isn't in the picture.

At the Gladstone Hotel, the photographer and documentarian Zun Lee stands among the sea of mounted Polaroids that comprise Fade Resistance, an exhibition of snapshots portraying African-American families in the 1970s, 1980s and later. Occupying the rooms and common spaces of the second floor, the collection represents a curatorial project of Mr. Lee and Kenneth Montague that involves vernacular photography and an attempt to present an alternative to the dysfunctional-black-family stereotype.

Polaroid photography represents a peculiar piece of pop-art history, come-and-go technology and scrapbook nostalgia. Popularized in an era when photo development entailed considerable rigmarole, the processing of Polaroids happened in presto fashion, right in one's hands.

On the surface, the rich assemblage of pictures is unremarkable.

But, like the magic of the process itself, in speaking to Mr. Lee, a fuller picture develops gradually. Although the shots represent the significant events and everyday life situations of others, Mr. Lee's own story is part of the narrative - a narrative that involves an alienated son, interracial bonding and a well-hidden family secret.

"This is my truth," Mr. Lee says.

"I'm not trying to create the antithesis of anything. It's my version of what I saw and lived."

Growing up in Frankfurt, Germany, Zun Lee was looked after by the African-American families of U.S. soldiers stationed on a military base near his own home.

"I was a latch-key kid," explains Mr. Lee, 46, whose South Korean parents were busy working. "Most of the German kids didn't want to play with me, so I gravitated to the black families of military personnel. There was a lot of parenting and love and kinship happening with them that I wasn't getting from my own parents."

But here's another thing he wasn't getting from his parents: The truth of his heritage. Mr. Lee's biological father was a black man, not the South Korean father he grew up with. Because of his notquite-Korean appearance, he endured derogatory comments from family members. But it wasn't until he was in his 30s that he learned of his true bloodline.

His mother can't (or won't) provide information about his biological father, leaving little Mr. Lee can do to track him down.

"I was having a lot of resentment when it came to not knowing my father," explains Mr. Lee, who says he was given a complex growing up because of the way he looked. "And part of what I'm doing with my photography projects is to put the work out there in the hope he sees it and reaches out to me."

Mr. Lee completed his education in Germany, including medical school. At age 25, he moved to Atlanta. He's lived in Toronto, working as a management consultant in the health-care field, since 1997. It wasn't until 2009 (after friends gave him a camera) that he took up photography.

As an adult, he was nagged by the disconnect between the family life of the African-Americans who nurtured him in Germany and the race-based assumptions common in North America, where black domiciles are often portrayed by media, politicians and in film and television as being fatherless.

"Why don't we see the everyday black fathers, which we see in white sitcoms?" asks Mr. Lee, dressed in Nikes, blue jeans and a blazer. "And when you do see the black fathers, they're either superhuman or super-villains, and there's nothing in the middle.

That makes it hard to humanize them."

In the 1980s, we watched the super-doctor-dad of The Cosby Show.

In the 1990s, there was the welloff patriarch of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. More recently, when it wasn't vilifying football player Adrian Peterson for the harsh physical disciplining of his son, the sports media fawned over the precocious daughter of basketball star Stephen Curry.

To fill the gap between the two extremes of African-American fatherhood, in 2011 the self-taught artist produced Father Figure, a series of poignant portraits of African-American dads and their offspring - images of babes being fed in arms, father and sons exchanging hugs against urban skylines, and bathtub duties with daughters. "Many African-Americans are not perfect," Mr. Lee says.

"But they're present and they're trying their best. Somehow that gets lost in the equation."

The Father Figure series spawned the Fade Resistance project, in which hundreds of Polaroids were collected through yard sales and eBay scouring. The snapshots are often of joyous occasions: A young man proudly poses in his military uniform; a grandmother beams in a kitchen; a young boy in a parking lot has a smile as wide as his bow tie.

"The title of the exhibit reflects a phenomenon that is happening, in which photographic images of everyday black folk are disappearing and era is being forgotten," says Dr. Montague, the co-curator and Toronto art collector. "It's up to us to hold this stuff from the dustbin of estate sales and so forth, and pull it into the realm of something to be considered contemporary art."

For whatever reason, the majority of snapshots originatd in Los Angeles. A batch taken at California's San Quentin State Prison shows a family and the incarcerated black male protagonist over the course of years. In some shots, the subjects are relaxed and smiling, while other shots portray a more pensive mood. All the photos, however, are taken in a way that de-emphasizes the institutional setting.

"It's sad that we look at them and actually muse about the origins and the outcomes of what's happening in the prison photos and the lives represented in them," Mr. Lee says. "The act of looking is a bit problematic, because somebody paid a price, and the price is probably still being paid."

Asked about the sheer volume of Polaroids, Dr. Montague laughs. "I'm a minimalist by nature, but with this show it's all about more is better. Ten images?

Pretty good. But 800 images, now you're talking."

Unlike digital photography (or traditional film, with negative copies), Polaroids aren't reproducible. What fascinates Mr. Lee aren't the images themselves, but that he is in possession of them.

"How did these precious images end up on the street?" he asks.

"What happened in people's lives to cause them to lose something so personal?

The Fade Resistance project does not end with the exhibition.

Some of the Polaroids have notes on the back or in the margins, providing clues to their origins.

Mr. Lee hopes to return the family-album mementos to their original owners, and to document the snapshot homecoming and the stories behind the pictures.

He's tracked down a couple of the families in California, but so far the people contacted have been reluctant to discuss the history of the Polaroids and how they were lost.

One woman, when contacted, laughed and said she had thrown the photographs of her and her divorced husband away purposely. "She told me she'd rather I burn them than return them," Mr. Lee says.

As for his own family affairs, the outlook is uncertain. He doesn't have a relationship with his parents, who remain (with a younger brother) in Germany, and who are unhappy with his photography projects. "They feel that by me doing this, it's shaming the family," Mr. Lee says. "It's something I was ready for. It's sad, but my door is open."

Zun Lee's Fade Resistance, to Feb. 28. Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen St.

W.; a panel discussion takes place Feb. 7, noon.

Follow me on Twitter: @BWheelerGlobe

Associated Graphic

Zun Lee, with some of the Polaroids that comprise the Fade Resistance show at the Gladstone Hotel this month, says the exercise has been cathartic.


That they were able to cobble together about 800 Polaroids for their Fade Resistance show is a point of amazement for the curators, Zun Lee and Kenneth Montague - both in volume and the poignancy that each photo imparts. 'How did these precious images end up on the street?' Mr. Lee asks. 'What happened in people's lives to cause them to lose something so personal?' The photos also present a more fair and balanced portrayal of black fathers, he adds.


HeartMob takes on the cybertrolls
Innovative new website allows users to call in help from an 'army of good' in the fight against online bullies
Monday, February 1, 2016 – Print Edition, Page L4

A teenage girl snaps selfies in her bedroom, duck pouting, shades on, shades off, working her angles. She uploads one of the photos to Facebook, sits back and waits.

Instead of the "likes" and approval she'd hoped for, the girl gets a storm of venomous comments: "No need to see your ugly face in the morning." "Are you a girl or a boy?" "I bet we could get her off the Internet ... I know where you live."

The girl logs onto another website called HeartMob, reports the comments and gets some more humane messages in her inbox: "So sorry to see this. Take care of yourself - you're great!"

Launched last week, HeartMob is an innovative new website with a lofty aim: to end online harassment. The website lets those who are being harassed online report their abusers, put in "help requests" for support and get access to psychological, legal and safety resources if they need them.

More notable may be the website's mission to embolden bystanders to step up and speak up for those being targeted online. When they pass a security check and sign up, bystanders (or "Heartmobbers") are encouraged to help document harassment with screen grabs and report abuses on behalf of victims to the social networks where it happened. HeartMob also asks these volunteers to send some kinder notes to the people who've just been eviscerated online, sometimes for something as innocuous as a morning selfie.

For anyone who has been bombarded with a steady stream of scorn online, it's welcome news. Late last month, Gregory Alan Elliott was acquitted on all charges in Canada's first criminal-harassment trial involving Twitter, stemming from allegations that he had harassed women's-rights activists Stephanie Guthrie and Heather Reilly on the social network.

While some saw the ruling as a victory for freedom of speech, many others worried that it spells a rough road for women who are routinely attacked and threatened online.

"If, in the eyes of the law, the harassment of Stephanie Guthrie is par for the course, then we can look forward to many more years of the status quo - women getting harassed, and everybody saying that it's somebody else's problem," wrote Slate's Amanda Hess.

Circumventing courts and the often ineffectual "block" functions on social networks, HeartMob (tagline: "Online harassment is killing the Internet. You can help save it.") hopes to put the power back in the hands of the silent majority on the Internet: the non-trolls.

According to recent findings from the Pew Research Center, 40 per cent of adults have been harassed online at some point in their lives, and some 73 per cent have witnessed it happening to others. (Women 18 to 24 were disproportionately targeted: 26 per cent had been stalked online and 25 per cent had suffered sexual harassment online.)

Aside from bystander intervention, the website also lets people document abuses that have cropped up across multiple media platforms, building a more compelling case history of harassment for companies and law enforcement down the line. HeartMob also partnered with the five major social-media companies - Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit and YouTube - to compile a more streamlined guide for reporting abuses on each of those platforms.

The website is the brainchild of the group behind Hollaback, a decade-old international movement that combats street harassment, including geotagging where perpetrators are in the city, and rallying bystanders to speak up when they see people being harassed in public. Eventually, HeartMob wants trained bystanders to actually reach out to trolls with the hope of reforming them (empathy, anyone?). For now though, the goal is to reduce trauma. The Globe spoke with Hollaback co-founder Emily May about tipping the scales on a mean Internet.

How does HeartMob work?

It lets people share their stories, show other people the extent to which harassment happens and then ask others to come and help them out. It could be sending a kind message. Or it could be asking others to report the harassment for you, to the social-media platform where it happened. Or asking them to screen-shot the harassment for you if you're getting a lot of it, so that you don't have to be further traumatized by looking at it. We're asking folks to show up from all over the Internet and stand up against online harassment.

Women who feel harassed online were shown last week that they can't necessarily rely on the court system in Canada. And many women reporting slurs and threats to the social networks that host them are being told it doesn't technically qualify as abuse, not by company standards. Are you putting the fix back in the hands of users themselves?

We hear some people talking about the need for stronger legislation and others talking about how the social-media companies need to get it together and solve these problems. Others suggest that people who are harassed online just need to protect themselves better.

We know that it's not just one thing that's going to singlehandedly end online harassment. There's work that each of us can individually do, not just sit around and wait for the courts and the social-media companies to figure it out.

For us the answer really sits with community accountability. We believe there are many more people in the world who are standing against online harassment than those who are perpetuating it. This is designed to build an army of good. We need to give all those good folks out there a voice. This is good for people on a personal level but it's also good for the future of the Internet.

Does it actually build a more compelling case if 20 bystanders are alerting a company to a troubling post, rather than the one victim?

Each of these social-media platforms has intricate and specific ways of assessing whether a threat is credible, and where it sits on the queue of threats that they are addressing. But we need to be reporting. They need to know that it's not just the person being harassed who thinks it's a problem. It's a much larger segment of their customers troubled by this kind of harassment.

What does online bystander support do for victims?

Our No. 1 goal is to reduce trauma for people who have been harassed online. We know from running Hollaback for the past 10 years that just the simple act of documenting your harassment and sharing your story on a platform can reduce trauma. We want to take that one step further and show people that not only are others listening to what they're experiencing, they want to help them, too.

How do we galvanize bystanders?

When we've talked to potential bystanders they say the No. 1 thing that stands in their way is that they don't know how to help. Sometimes they're not sure if something is harassment or just some kind of inside joke that maybe they're missing. They're not sure what they can do for that person and they're worried about making it worse or overwhelming them. We want to remove that barrier so that people who want to help know how to do it.

Are you encouraging bystanders to engage the bullies?

We are looking into ways to do that, ways that are non-violent and start to explain to the harasser, "Hey, while you may think saying 'I want to rape you' is funny, the way that is heard [by the target] is, 'I can't leave my house now.' " But we are definitely not in favour of harassing the harasser. We want to fight fire with water.

What do you say to those who believe that when we curb abusive content online, we also limit our collective freedom of expression?

My response would be free for who? When people receive violent threats and harassment just for having an opinion online, it has a silencing effect. I don't want to be on an Internet where women, people of colour and others who are disproportionately affected by online harassment don't feel free to express themselves.

* * * * *

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Associated Graphic

A girl poses for a selfie in a promotional video for HeartMob, a new website that aims to nurture civility and battle mean behaviour online.


Tuesday, February 02, 2016

How much is enough for your emergency fund?
Experts recommend stashing three months of your net income into a TFSA or other accessible account, more if you're self-employed
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, January 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page B12

Jessica Moorhouse started taking her money seriously about six years ago, after she graduated from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia with a degree in film production. The Coquitlam, B.C., native moved out on her own with little more than a laptop and a few hundred dollars.

Straight out of university, Ms. Moorhouse got a job at a local newspaper, but it didn't take long for her and her fiancé, Josh G. Bowman, a recording engineer, to feel as though Vancouver didn't offer enough career opportunities for either of them. Even though neither knew a soul in Toronto, they plotted out a plan to move there after they married in May of 2013.

A key part of their preparation was the building up of an emergency fund, a stash of cash they could draw from in the very likely event that it would take them time to find work.

"After we got married, we sold everything in our apartment, stored some stuff at my parents' place, and got into his little hatchback and drove across the country," says Ms. Moorhouse, 29. "It seemed kind of crazy. We really had to start from the ground up.

"Looking back, I'm really glad we took that risk of coming here," she says. "We were unemployed for about three months and couldn't get EI [Employment Insurance], so our emergency funds really made that move possible. And we're better off for it now; we both have higher-paying jobs."

Financial advisers all suggest establishing an emergency fund with enough cash to cover at least three months of your net income in case something unexpected comes along, such as job loss, illness, or a major house or car repair, so that you don't have to go into debt to cover it.

Ms. Moorhouse, who works in digital marketing and blogs about personal finance at, has had one since she left home.

"I wanted to make sure I had some security in case something happened; I knew so many friends who were in debt, and I didn't want that," she says. "Once we finally started working, we started to replace it. I feel like no matter what your situation, you should always have an emergency fund. I don't feel comfortable unless I have $10,000 in a savings account in case something happens. I'm pretty averse to debt."

According to a 2015 Bank of Montreal survey, 56 per cent of Canadians say they have less than $10,000 in available emergency funds, 44 per cent have less than $5,000, and 21 per cent have less than $1,000. Twentynine per cent said their savings would only last one month or less, while one-quarter reported that they have enough to last them over a year.

The Rainy Day Survey of 1,000 adults, conducted by Pollara, also revealed that 24 per cent of Canadians say they are living paycheque to paycheque with hardly anything set aside for a financial emergency. However, it also found that the average amount Canadians have tucked away for a curve ball is $41,694, up $6,457 from 2014.

Paul Shelestowsky, senior wealth adviser at Meridian, an Ontario credit union, says that, anecdotally, it is far more common to hear people say that they are living paycheque to paycheque than that they have a few thousand dollars in a "What if?" fund.

"People who have emergency funds tend to be people who have been savers all the way through and they've always been able to live below their means," Mr. Shelestowsky says. "It's getting harder and harder for people to live within their means or with the amount of debt they have.

"The people who are using TFSAs [tax-free savings accounts], who have TFSAs maxed out, are generally people that already had their money somewhere else and have found another place to shelter it."

Having recently raided his own emergency fund for a house repair, Mr. Shelestowsky endorses having such a stockpile rather than relying on credit to cover a crisis.

"I look at a line of credit or a home equity line of credit as more of a Band-Aid," he says.

"You're going to have to pay it back. You should ignore your emergency fund and try and think of it as something you don't have access to. It's for needs, not for wants.

"To me, it's all about peace of mind," he adds. "In a perfect world, you would always have something to fall back on because you just never know what's going to come down the pipeline."

To build up an emergency fund, Mr. Shelestowsky says you need to do a little legwork first: Start tracking your expenses.

"It's the single hardest thing for people to do, but it's one of the best things you can for do for your finances," he says. "If you don't have a sense of what your expenses are, you can't make a budget, and without a budget you're going to be going paycheque to paycheque."

Websites such as and other online tools and apps make tracking expenses easy.

From there, Mr. Shelestowsky suggests setting up a small preauthorized automatic withdrawal so that a certain amount of money comes out of every paycheque and goes straight into a savings account. Say you get paid biweekly and start with $20 a cheque; at the end of the year you will have $520. Increase that amount as your income rises. If you get a bonus or a tax refund, put some or all of that money in your emergency fund as well.

While the basic rule of thumb is to have enough money to cover at least three months of net income, even that may not be enough, says certified financial planner Julia Chung of JYC Financial in South Surrey, B.C.

"Most people severely lowball their expenses; they think they spend way less than they actually do," Ms. Chung says. "If you spend 100 per cent of your paycheque when it comes in, as many people do, then your expenses equal your net income.

"The three-month rule is based on the assumption that the individual has a disability policy, either personally or through their employer, that provides them with a benefit after 90 to 120 days of illness," she adds.

She notes, too, that contract workers, business owners and those who are self-employed should consider having at least six months of net income on hand.

"Many business owners will have a year [of net income set aside], particularly when they are in a volatile industry or in startup mode," she says. "Many other business owners will have nothing because they put 100 per cent of their funds into the business, but six to 12 months would be much, much better."

As for where to park that money, the general consensus is that a TFSA is the best vehicle because funds are easily accessible and won't come with a tax hit upon withdrawal. Mutual funds aren't intended for shortterm holdings. Ms. Chung notes that high-interest savings accounts, redeemable or cashable guaranteed investment certificates, term deposits and money market funds are other options - though she offers a caveat.

"When you're looking at vehicles for your emergency funds, ask yourself: Can I access it quickly and at low cost?" she says. "Emergencies rarely show up during business hours and have pens ready to sign off with your financial institution. Make sure a reasonable portion is available at midnight on a Sunday when you're in a rural area with two flat tires. This is Canada."


$41,694 Average amount that Canadians have set aside in an emergency fund, according to a 2015 survey of 1,000 adults conducted by Pollara, up $6,457 from 2014.

56 Percentage of Canadians in the survey who say they have less than $10,000 in available emergency funds.

21 Percentage who say they have less than $1,000.

Associated Graphic

Jessica Moorhouse says her move to Toronto from Vancouver wouldn't have been possible without the emergency fund she dipped into while looking for a new job in her new city.


Hydro-Québec's quest for the 'God Battery'
Saturday, February 6, 2016 – Print Edition, Page B1

VARENNES, QUE. -- Karim Zaghib powers up a Chevy Volt electric hybrid for a tour of his domain: the energy storage and conversion facilities at Hydro-Québec's sprawling two-square-kilometre research campus in Varennes, a Montreal exoburb on the South Shore of the St. Lawrence River.

Mr. Zaghib is Hydro-Québec's point man on a high-stakes strategic mission to develop the superbattery of the future that will propel the much-vaunted allelectric car into the realm of commercial viability and consumer receptivity. The veteran electro-chemist is a self-described idealist who dreams of spearheading the big technological breakthrough in electric-vehicle battery technology, committed to making a major contribution to a cleaner, more liveable planet.

For the province of Quebec and its marquee utility, which spends about $100-million a year on research and development, the spoils of victory are potentially huge: bragging rights to ownership of a revolutionary battery technology - potentially valued in the billions of dollars - that beats out an impressive bevy of rival research organizations in the United States, China, Japan, South Korea and Europe, not to mention such major corporate players as Panasonic and Sony.

Mr. Zaghib says he and his team can create - within five years - a battery providing a range of 500 kilometres before needing a recharge.

The current maximum range for electric vehicles (EVs) is about 160 kilometres. It's one of the more aggressive targets - both in terms of timeline and range - among other major research projects around the world. And the challenge is huge: producing a battery that is safe, affordable, light, reliable, that can be cheaply mass produced, that charges quickly and efficiently, and offers the kind of range and power that drivers now get from the ubiquitous internal combustion engine. Hydro-Québec touts itself as a major contender in the EV battery sweepstakes, pointing to its 35 years in EV battery research and solid reputation based on hundreds of patents and research breakthroughs.

Despite low gas prices, the political and environmental climate seems right for investing in this type of research. Much of the world has signed off on the Paris Agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions and there is a renewed sense of urgency regarding a need for clean new technologies. But whether Hydro-Québec and its research centre - known by its initials, IREQ, where about 480 people work - can reach its daunting targets on the elusive superbattery front is another matter.

Inside the building, Mr. Zaghib, 52, shows off several projects on the go, including efforts to improve the efficiency and storage capabilities of the industry's workhorse: the lithium-ion battery, found in most laptops and mobile phones and the most common power source for EVs.

While still in their infancy and selling very modestly, EVs have made headlines lately - helped by Elon Musk and his critically adored but expensive Tesla Model S luxury hatchback - as concerns mount over climate-change and vehicle emissions. Hydro-Québec, Canada's largest hydroelectric utility, already holds dozens of patents and has licensed out some 40-odd battery and energystorage technologies to companies worldwide, including Sony, BASF, Mercedes-Benz and IBM.

The scandal at Volkswagen AG involving widescale cheating on emissions tests on millions of diesel vehicles has provided a welcome boost to efforts to put more EVs on the road in more than just token numbers (there are currently about 330,000 EVs registered in the United States). But the competition is brutal. Electrochemists, materials scientists and engineers around the globe at hundreds of private-sector ventures, university labs and government-funded agencies are on the case in a big way, intensifying efforts to conjure up the elusive, delicately balanced alchemy that will produce an energy source capable of revolutionizing ground transportation (not to mention the applications for home and industrial use).

Among major players in the uber-battery sweeps are the Chinese - BYD Auto, BYD stands for "Build Your Dreams!"- and the South Koreans - LG Chem Ltd.

The big auto makers are all to some extent involved in funding or do in-house research. Even Google, Apple, Swiss watch maker Swatch and entrepreneurs James Dyson of vacuum cleaner fame and Richard Branson are getting in on the action.

In the United States, one of IREQ's biggest rivals in the public sphere is the Argonne National Laboratory, officially named the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, a big science program that brings together some of the top minds in high-tech battery development. Indeed, the lithium-ion batteries powering Mr.

Zaghib's Chevy Volt on the tour of his facility use a technology licensed from Argonne.

EV battery research over the past several years has been dogged by a surfeit of companies and institutes boldly trumpeting allegedly paradigm-shifting battery discoveries. The field is littered with the remnants of grandiose hype and unfulfilled promises.

"There's a battery innovation announced at least every month, usually every couple of weeks," says Jeff Chamberlain, a scientist at Argonne, near Chicago, and - along with Mr. Zaghib - a cheerleader for new battery technology. "Somebody somewhere in the world says, 'I've got it.' " Expectations run high for a battery that is inexpensive, that addresses socalled "range anxiety" - the fear of having a drained battery before reaching home or the next public charging station - and that doesn't take an eternity to charge, he says. The result is massive pressure on inventors, developers and financial backers to proclaim the Next Big Thing without it having passed critical tests such as commercial viability, Mr. Chamberlain says.

Mr. Zaghib - whose résumé includes a four-year stint in the 1990s at Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Industry - says he believes a 500-kilometre range is doable, notwithstanding the raft of skeptics who contend that a wonder battery of this kind remains far off in the distant future. Mr. Musk's Tesla Motors Inc. - whose growth strategy includes building a "Gigafactory" in the Nevada desert to mass produce the lowest-cost lithium-ion batteries - has a "lovely" program but it doesn't address such critical issues as short battery life cycle, low range before recharging and weight, Mr. Zaghib says. "We need new systems" that go beyond the current industry standard lithium-ion battery pack, he exclaims.

Essentially, the modus operandi in boundary-smashing battery research is to test an array of combinations of elements and new materials in the hopes of lighting upon the Holy Grail of combos that will outshine the limited - although still perfectable - lithium-ion battery.

IREQ has a strong reputation for its research into so-called solidstate battery materials that are deemed safer than their liquid counterparts because they are not flammable.

Mr. Zaghib - who has been at IREQ since 1995 - enjoys huge respect in the small world of cutting-edge battery research. He is the author or co-author of 130 scientific papers and is a tireless promoter of battery innovation and patent protection. Unfortunately, he and his fellow members of the Big Battery congregation are up against a wall of skepticism that has been built up over the years.

"I don't think it should be Hydro-Québec's responsibility to be involved in that kind of development," says energy economics expert Jean-Thomas Bernard, a visiting professor at the University of Ottawa.

Jeff Sadoway is another illustrious battery pioneer.

Producing the "God Battery," as one wag dubbed it, is fraught with difficulties, says Mr. Sadoway, a materials chemistry professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and entrepreneur who invented a liquid-metal battery to store power on the grid that has the financial backing of Bill Gates and French oil and gas giant Total SA.

The lithium-ion battery is not the solution because it is prone to losing stored-energy capacity, he explains. "Can you imagine a 200kilometre range vehicle in its first year that, after five years, is down to the 100-kilometre range?" Prof.

Sadoway asks. "How are you going to sell that car?" Discovering the elusive, harmoniously matched mix of materials to make the perfect - or near-perfect - battery is a gigantic undertaking, he warns.

Associated Graphic

Karim Zaghib, left, talks passionately about energy-storage research at Hydro-Québec's IREQ facility near Montreal.


Once bitter news rivals, the merging of the offices of the Calgary Sun and the Calgary Herald signals more than just a media corporation's financial struggles, but also highlights troublesome questions about whether the papers' parent company, Postmedia, can continue to deliver a diversity of opinions, Carrie Tait reports
Saturday, January 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S1

Calgary Sun reporters chasing stories in the nineties had perfected the art of midnight apologies.

The tabloid went to press after the Calgary Herald, giving the Sun an edge when the two newspapers competed bitterly. Reporters working the Sun's late shift had to go to the docks of the Herald's printing press and grab a copy of the broadsheet as they were loaded on to delivery trucks every night. If the Herald had a scoop, the Sun reporter had to match it before the tabloid went to press. The night reporter had to make midnight phone calls to politicians and sources, begging and apologizing at the same time. Letting the Herald waltz away with an important story was not an option. Editors yelled.

The nasty rivalry and professional consequences dwindled over the years, although beating the competition never went out of style. Now the battle is over: Journalists at the Sun and Herald who survived layoffs this week are on the same team, working on stories that appear in both papers. In Alberta's capital, the Edmonton Journal and Edmonton Sun also merged their newsrooms and advertising teams. Their owner, Postmedia Network Canada Corp., is doing the same for its dailies in Vancouver and Ottawa as it tries to find millions of dollars to meet its financial obligations.

Roughly 90 journalists lost their jobs Tuesday, with more to come. A combined 60 journalists lost their jobs in Calgary and Edmonton. At least one Journal reporter quit after surviving the layoffs.

The fallout is about more than adding a small number of people to the list of thousands of unemployed Albertans. It is, instead, about whether Postmedia's remaining journalists can effectively hold politicians and organizations to account, deliver a diversity of opinions, and produce newspapers that are different enough to retain separate audiences and advertisers, despite containing slews of news stories that are nearly identical. It is also about whether the consequences of not merging the newsrooms would be even more troublesome.

"If you have fewer people asking questions, you're going to get fewer answers," Stephanie Coombs, the Edmonton Journal's managing editor who was let go in the sweep, said this week. "That's bad for the public ... If you're not asking questions and people aren't telling stories, who is going to expose wrongdoing?"

Further, without competition between newspapers, the thrill of beating the competition evaporates. That, too, means less pressure on everyone, from police chiefs to officials running homeless shelters.

Last year, Postmedia bought Sun Media's English-language news organizations, pledging to operate separate newsrooms in cities where it owned more than one title. The Competition Bureau approved the $316-million deal. Its papers in Calgary and Edmonton are not unionized.

Guy Huntingford served as the Calgary Herald's publisher between August, 2010, and May, 2013, as well as other senior roles within Postmedia and its predecessor companies. Postmedia's decision to buy the Sun papers and merge newsrooms will save the papers, he said.

"You have to look at the other side of the equation, which is, if they don't do this, they go away completely," he said. "Individually, both organizations were going down a path that was probably going to push them to their demise. Putting them together gave them new life. That's a good thing."

Mr. Huntingford, who himself was bumped out of the Postmedia conglomerate, said the Herald and Journal were profitable during his time at the chain. He estimates the Herald and Journal were either the top two moneymakers or, at worst, placed first and third.

"They [were a] hugely, enormously, important part of the Postmedia empire."

But the chain's healthy papers have been dragged down as the conglomerate directs cash toward its debt obligations.

The company, which also owns the National Post, has $25.9-million of long-term debt due in 2016; another $302.7-million due in 2017; and $353.4-million due in 2017, according to the company's 2015 annual report. It must also make interest payments on this debt, and as of August, 2015, it expected to pay $70.5-million in interest in 2016 alone. The company is trying to refinance its debt. Most of its debt is owned by Canso Investment Counsel Ltd. in Richmond Hill, Ont., and GoldenTree Asset Management in New York. Paul Godfrey, Postmedia's chief executive, said this week that none of the company's papers lose money.

Postmedia said its broadsheets, which used to compete against its tabloids, will remain unique even though its journalists no longer compete.

"The street-level view of the city, served up with a bit of sass and a healthy sports package will remain at the core of the Sun, while the more serious-minded Herald will retain its focus on Calgary's politics, arts and business," Gerry Nott, the senior vice-president of content at Postmedia, wrote in a note to readers in Thursday's Calgary Sun. "Local voices, those columnists who engage or enrage you, will remain distinct to each of the titles.

"And the voices of the papers themselves will remain strong and separate."

The promise's limits appeared in Thursday's Calgary papers.

The Calgary Sun ran a picture of what appears to be a chihuahua on its front page, with a headline that said "Cheating Dogs," guiding readers to a story about the unregulated certification system for service animals. The Herald went with photos of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Davos, Switzerland, and a file photo of the city's mayor, Naheed Nenshi. The main story on the front page was about a city councillor calling for a $60-million tax break for small and medium-sized businesses. Their respective columnists appeared only in their historical papers.

However, the Herald and Sun made only minor changes to the overlapping news stories in each paper. A story on gasoline prices, for example, appeared on the third page of both papers, under the same byline. The first paragraph of the respective stories were different, but the articles were otherwise identical save for seven minor tweaks. The changes: "some other" in the Sun became "other local" in the Herald; an "and" in the Sun was changed to a "but" in the Herald; "the foreseeable future" became "some time"; and a "the" became a "that."

Jose Rodriguez is now the editor-in-chief of the Calgary Herald and Calgary Sun. Mr. Rodriguez, who previously led the Sun, declined to comment. Lorne Motley is now in charge of the two Edmonton papers, leaving his post as the Herald's top editor. He directed questions to a Postmedia spokesperson who did not return a call seeking comment.

Margo Goodhand, the Edmonton Journal's editor-in-chief, was also pushed out, along with Ms. Coombs. Ms. Goodhand, who spoke up after Postmedia forced its papers to endorse the Conservative Party of Canada in the general election, declined to comment. Postmedia also let go Donna Harker, the Edmonton Sun's managing editor. She declined to comment.

Alberta's opposition parties all argued the cuts will hurt the province's political system.

Brian Jean, the leader of the Official Opposition, said the province is already short on journalists. "As disturbing as it is, we now have more PR people working for the Alberta government spinning stories than we have reporters writing stories," the Wildrose Party leader said. "These cuts are going to constrain the public's ability to have ample discourse and to discuss all the issues."

Premier Rachel Notley declined an interview request submitted Tuesday. Instead, her spokeswoman sent a statement from the province's leader. "I'm troubled to hear about more job losses in Alberta at a time when our province is struggling. I am also concerned over the concentration of ownership and editorial control that now exists within Alberta's print media," the statement said. "Journalism is so important to a healthy democracy and this loss of opinion leaders in our province will surely undermine the level of public discourse and discussion on important issues.

Associated Graphic


The new, merged headquarters for the Edmonton Journal and the Edmonton Sun.



Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Clinton shifts to up-close-and-personal approach in folksy Iowa
Monday, January 25, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A1

IOWA CITY, IOWA -- Iowa is a place where politics unfold on a human scale. Campaigning politicians field spontaneous questions from citizens at town halls, break bread with local party activists in hopes of securing their endorsement and win support vote by vote.

It's a tough dynamic if you're Hillary Clinton. At a rally Thursday in Iowa City, Democratic faithful queued for up to an hour to get into the room. When the former secretary of state went to shake hands with supporters, they were kept behind a waist-high fence and the candidate was surrounded by grim-faced secret-service agents.

Bernie Sanders, her rumpled aging hippie challenger, has no such restrictions. At a town hall last week in Fort Dodge, people came and went as they pleased and the senator from Vermont waded right into the crowd after his speech.

While the circus-like Republican race has sucked up most of the nation's political oxygen, the contest on the Democratic side has often seemed staid - not least because of Ms. Clinton's aura of invincibility. But with just a week to go before this heartland state of 3.1 million holds the first electoral test of the U.S. presidential race, Mr. Sanders has erased her lead in the polls and threatens to deal her an embarrassing defeat.

Iowa's first-in-the-nation status, combined with the folksy nature of the caucus process itself - on voting day, people gather in school gymnasiums and church basements to debate the merits of the candidates before making their picks - mean the locals expect up-close access to the politicians.

"Iowans have gotten used to the idea that before they make up their mind, they want to see the candidate two, three, four, five, six times," says Tom Larkin, a Democratic activist in the Iowa City suburb of Coralville, and supporter of Ms. Clinton. "And if you don't spend the time here in Iowa, you'll never win [the state]."

Far from the stereotype of American politics as cable-news soap opera, this is a place where many voters expect substantive speeches and specifics on policy. At Mr. Sanders's town hall, he gets questions on everything from health-care reform to federal support for small business to term limits for members of Congress. His plain-spoken style, as he rails against big banks and promises universal health care, strikes a chord. Even his appearance - blazer a size too large, mop of messy white hair - telegraphs a casual authenticity that matches his populist message.

"I love his honesty - he's for the people. He's not afraid to stand up against the big meanies," says Amy Houy, 38, sitting in the audience with her partner and step-daughter.

To Mr. Sanders's supporters, Ms. Clinton reads as an establishment politician, prone to compromise and beholden to moneyed interests. Mia Dorothy, 24, describes her as "a flip-flopper." Says 77-year-old Skip Christensen: "She has so many ties to Wall Street."

Still, political observers give Ms. Clinton credit for running a better campaign here than in 2008, when she lost Iowa and her front-runner status to Barack Obama by eight percentage points. Instead of relying mostly on large rallies and advertising as she did last time, Ms. Clinton has toured around in a van nicknamed Scooby and staged smaller-scale events. She has also built up a strong local organization, crucial to getting out the vote on caucus day.

"She learned the lesson from 2008 in terms of the organizational side. She's not comfortable with it, but she understands how it works," says Timothy Hagle, a political science professor at the University of Iowa. "It's like somebody who has to take a required class to graduate that's outside your major: 'I gotta take it, I need to do well, but it's not my favourite.'"

Democratic activists here say that, within months of the 2012 election, Ms. Clinton's campaign was already quietly hiring staff in the state and dispatching representatives to attend local party meetings and fundraisers to build relationships and recruit volunteers. When the race began in earnest last year, Ms. Clinton swiftly opened field offices across the state. Mr. Sanders, by contrast, made less effort to court the local party establishment and took months to get an organization up and running.

"Bernie Sanders had these huge crowds, but he didn't have the organization necessary to capture that. It was just Bernie Sanders and a couple staffers with clipboards," says Tom Henderson, chair of the Polk County Democrats in Des Moines. "The Sanders campaign operates outside the party organization."

Ms. Clinton has also taken a different tack on gender this time around. Whereas in 2008, she played down the issue, it is now central to her campaign.

"You've seen her play up the fact that she's a woman. When she talks about gun violence, for example, she talks about it as a grandmother," says Jennifer Glover Konfrst, a political communications expert at Drake University in Des Moines. "She's using her biography to frame her policy choices."

Conversations with voters at the Iowa City rally suggest this is a key part of her appeal. Nearly everyone in the audience, when asked what they like about Ms. Clinton, first cites her capability to do the job, then her ability to finally shatter the country's highest glass ceiling.

"She's very competent. She has all this foreign-policy experience," says librarian Karen Mason, 62. "I also feel very strongly it's high time we had a female president."

Ann Menner, a 21-year-old Pilates instructor, says she is drawn to Ms. Clinton because of her experience and her policy pledges - particularly making university more affordable - and her gender is an added bonus.

"Most women are not voting for her because she's female, but she just understands what's most important to females - female health, females in the workplace, equal pay, family leave during pregnancy or illness," she says.

Ms. Clinton can still win the nomination even if she loses Iowa. But a loss to Mr. Sanders would leave her wounded. And it would be a signal she must find a way to win over the disaffected Democrats who have glommed onto his populist insurgency.

On the ground, she has already adjusted her campaign to reach out to the voters - the young, the economically marginalized - Mr. Sanders is courting. Her rally in Iowa City, a college town of 70,000 in the eastern part of the state, includes a performance by pop singer Demi Lovato, which draws a crowd of more than a thousand mostly millennial voters to a wood-panelled university hall. And when the candidate herself takes the stage, she peppers her speech with references to Mr. Sanders's pet issues.

"How do we get the economy working for everybody, not just those at the top, and raise incomes?" Ms. Clinton asks, before vowing to "take on the big special interests who are always trying to put the wall against the kind of progress we believe in. I'm going to take them on whether they're insurance companies or banks, drug companies or the gun lobby."

It goes the other way, too: At his town hall a few days earlier, Mr. Sanders promises pay equity, one of Ms. Clinton's key issues.

And this scrutiny, Iowans say, is the best part of putting candidates through the crucible of the caucuses: It stress-tests candidates' campaigns, forces them to sharpen their policies and prepares them for the general election.

"Him being in the race has already made her address issues that probably wouldn't have come up - and vice versa," says Mr. Larkin, the Democratic activist. "It's always good to have a contested race. It's fun to run unopposed, but the reality is a race makes you a better candidate because it makes you focus on your issues. And if you have weaknesses, they're exposed."

Associated Graphic

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders arrives for a campaign event at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, on Sunday.


Rival Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton greets supporters on Sunday following an event in Marion, Iowa.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Disneyfication of our national parks
Mother Canada war memorial proposed for Cape Breton brings to fore reservations about the mindset guiding resource management
Saturday, January 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A9

If it hadn't been for the California gold rush, Walt Disney would have been a Canadian, as was his father.

There are some in Parks Canada who quietly believe - and many who were once with Parks Canada who will no longer stay quiet - that the godfather of theme parks would have fit right in here, the way things have been going.

They point to the 24-metrehigh Mother Canada statue that may soon be going up in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.

They mention the increasing infatuation with "glamping" ("glamorous camping") in park campgrounds. They shudder at the proposal for roofed overnight accommodation at exquisite, unspoiled Maligne Lake, a major attraction in Jasper National Park. They cringe at the Glacier Skywalk that has been built along the Icefields Parkway that runs between Jasper and Banff.

They shake their heads to think that land may soon be taken out of legally designated wilderness and added to the Lake Louise ski resort lease so that the ski operation could nearly double in size.

Kevin Van Tighem, who was superintendent of Banff National Park until his retirement five years ago, has become one of the most outspoken of the disenchanted former Parks Canada managers - 28 of whom signed a letter protesting the Mother Canada project.

Canada's world-famous national parks, Mr. Van Tighem says, are no longer valued for what they were intended - but are increasingly being treated as "raw material to be commodified into a bundle of Disneyesque visitor attractions and marketing packages." It is as if "nature was no longer enough," laments the former superintendent.

These former managers point to the official mandate of Parks Canada and say that it has been stripped of its integrity. The Canada National Parks Act, which was passed in 2000, states that these parks (now 46 in number) are for the people of Canada and "shall be maintained and made use of so as to leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations." According to the legislation, the first priority of the minister responsible (currently Liberal Catherine McKenna, previously Conservative Leona Aglukkaq) shall be the "maintenance or restoration of ecological integrity, through the protection of natural resources and natural processes."

Nikita (Nik) Lopoukhine served as director-general for National Parks Directorate when that clause was added. Today, retired in Ottawa and still chair emeritus of the World Commission on Protected Areas, he bemoans the fate of those good intentions.

"This is the fundamental mandate that should be driving decisions," Mr. Lopoukhine says.

"The non-ecological-integrity dedicated staff has pushed the point that ecological integrity may be a first priority - but there are other priorities. Forgetting the first priority, though, seems to be easy when political and other pressures are applied."

For former managers, such as Mr. Lopoukhine and Mr. Van Tighem, the Mother Canada project is the perfect example of how things have gone so wrong.

The massive statue is an idea that began with Toronto businessman Tony Trigiani, who wished to see some memorial erected to those who did not come home from wars in which Canada has fought. The statue would depict a woman with outstretched arms and is inspired by the statue Canada Bereft, which adorns the national memorial to the First World War dead near Vimy, France.

The Never Forgotten Foundation was created to raise the expected $25-million required to complete construction of the statue, parking lot and various other attractions. The initiative had the support of then-regional cabinet minister Peter MacKay and retired major-general Lewis MacKenzie, as well as several high-profile Canadians who have since largely stepped away.

Another group, Friends of Green Cove, was founded to fight the proposal's location. They have nothing against a memorial to the war dead, but they believe placing it in a national park along one of the country's most spectacular vistas is simply wrong. Others agree. "Offensively tasteless," in the words of a Globe and Mail editorial.

Such rush to development, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society says, has created "a crisis in our national parks." The parks, according to national director Alison Woodley, "are part of the heart and soul of this country. They are our natural treasures and they belong to each and every one of us as Canadians, but private commercial development is putting our most special protected areas at risk."

The Mother Canada controversy has split the small community of Green Cove, many of whom see jobs in the building and tourism potential in the future. The Friends of Green Cove, who oppose the statue's placement, scoff at the suggestion that this would have been a last sighting of land for convoys leaving for Europe. One of the Friends, Sandra Barr, distinguished professor of geology at Acadia University, first began researching the Green Cove area four decades ago and claims the surrounding rock structure is unique. The proposal to build there, she told local media, is an "absurdity."

And yet, the Never Forgotten Foundation has a letter of support posted on its website that comes from Alan Latourelle, chief executive officer of Parks Canada. The letter says that Parks Canada is "honoured" to be involved in the project and says it would be "an exceptionally striking and appropriate addition to Cape Breton Highlands National Park."

Retired managers say many National Parks employees are "embarrassed" by the letter and even more so by a $100,000 donation Parks Canada made to the foundation wanting to build the statue. The money was to be used for a study of the project and the establishment of a website.

Mr. Lopoukhine is among those who believe political pressure was brought to bear on the department. "They in effect coerced Parks Canada," he says, "after cutting [its budget] 19 per cent - to give $100,000 to the foundation."

"We are very much opposed to the proposed location of this large memorial statue with its associated parking, restaurant and interpretive centre," said the letter sent to then-minister Aglukkaq by the 28 former senior managers with Parks Canada.

"It is not only inappropriate for a national park, it is in violation of the site's Wilderness zone designation as detailed in the management plan for the park. ... in Nova Scotia there is no shortage of sites that can accommodate such a project. Green Cove is not one of them."

"We are not against the statue," Mr. Lopoukhine adds, "just where it would be."

Ms. McKenna, the Minister of the Environment and climate change who is responsible for Parks Canada, has said there will be a review that will include environmental assessment and the public consultation process.

For Mr. Van Tighem, the Mother Canada situation reflects an attitude in which some in Parks Canada now say: "Rules? We don't actually have those any more, so what did you have in mind as a money-making idea for our park? We'll dress it up in heritage language and funky marketing-speak to persuade ourselves it's good for national parks, and then you can have at 'er."

Mr. Van Tighem's hope is that a different leadership climate might "revitalize Parks Canada's respect for itself. In my view, Parks Canada doesn't need bottom-up change - there are many good people in the organization, they are just scared and demoralized. And it doesn't need some kind of revitalization of public support: Every single public opinion survey or consultation program through my whole career and since then has confirmed that the vast majority of Canadians value national parks, want them protected, and see them as publicly accessible nature preserves, not as theme parks.

"What is needed right now is top-down change: real leadership from a government, minister and CEO who deeply love the idea of national parks as places free from artifice, commodification and commercialization, where nature rules and all Canadians are free to discover the wild and the natural.

"Frankly, Canadians should settle for nothing less."

Associated Graphic

Former Parks Canada staff are beginning to speak out about the desecration of some of Canada's national treasures. One such example is the SkyWalk over the Columbia Icefields at Jasper.


A planeload carrying some of the key players in the agreement to preserve the Great Bear Rainforest touched down in Bella Bella, B.C., late last week for an unheralded ceremony marking the conclusion of the deal. The Globe and Mail's Justine Hunter and John Lehmann followed the group representing the four partners responsible for the deal
Monday, February 1, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A7


Valerie Langer was at the table when the name "Great Bear Rainforest" was dreamed up as a campaign strategy in 1997. At the time she was part of the Friends of Clayoquot Sound - the leaders of the campaign that began the war in the woods. They pioneered the strategy of organizing market boycotts to pressure forest companies to stop logging old-growth trees. Now the director of B.C. forest campaigns for ForestEthics Solutions, Ms. Langer talks about the campaign that consumed almost 20 years of her life: "The environmentalist's gateway drug is Clayoquot Sound. I started campaigning there in 1983. Then I spent 10 days canoeing in behind Bella Bella. It was jaw-dropping. My heart is in Clayoquot Sound but this was Clayoquot, multiplied.

"At one point there was a junket organized by the forest industry, they brought over European publishers. We got our foot in the door, saying two sides of this story needed to be told. One of the reps from the German publishers said, 'Sometimes you ask for a black Cadillac when you only need a red Ford. But sometimes you need the black Cadillac.' And they threw the gauntlet down and said, 'You have got to work this out: environmentalists and industry. Because we are not going to be friends to either of you.' It wasn't that industry had to cave to all the environmental demands. The challenge, to keep the support of the marketplace for better forestry, was to work something out with industry.

That was the watershed moment.

"But there was a parallel conflict, between the government and First Nations about who had the rights to make the rules and allocate the forests. Those parallel conflicts were so intertwined that the process for a solution had to accommodate all four interests.

"The major learning piece is that the marketplace was critical all the way through. The war in the woods stopped but the pressure was continuous: The customers of the logging companies have injected themselves into conversations many times, when things were falling apart, they said keep at it. Now we are going to be communicating to the market, to tell them the Great Bear Rainforest is the model."

B.C. government

Premier Christy Clark has concluded the deal that was first embraced by NDP premier Ujjal Dosanjh 16 years ago, and then tentatively secured by Liberal premier Gordon Campbell in 2006. It was left to her government to finalize agreements with 26 First Nations in the region to ensure that the human residents of the rainforest are not left behind. Ms. Clark reflects on how, in a province scarred by passionate battles over pipelines and other resource development, this agreement can serve as a path forward: "All the fights about oil, fishing, logging - so much of it has been about preserving our beautiful coast. You can't understand British Columbians unless you can grasp the emotion that people feel about our coast. It's what makes us so different from Alberta and Ontario and other parts of the country.

"That's what's so amazing about this: That fight was so passionate at the time and here we are at an agreement. It took a long time and it involved a lot of people with diverse interests but we all found a common interest. And everybody, I think, felt like they compromised a little to get there.

That's a truly Canadian achievement.

"Collaborating is the way we need to do business in British Columbia. This is reason for optimism. We want to maintain economic growth and we want to preserve these natural gifts. This is proof that we can.

"For me personally, I'm a child of this coast. My great-grandfather raised my grandfather at Clayoquot, on the beach. When I am here on the coast, at the water's edge with this forest behind me, I feel more at home than anywhere else in the world."

Forest companies

Rick Jeffery is president and CEO of the Coast Forest Products Association. He's been involved in the file since the market boycott was launched in 1997.

He was then the president of the Truck Loggers Association. He has been the industry's chief negotiator since 2012. He says it took a leap of faith to trust old adversaries, but the payoff - for all parties - will be immense.

"There was a high level of distrust amongst the parties. In the Great Bear Rainforest context, you had [forest companies] saying we have legal rights here; you had another group waging war with our customers. It's not easy to trust somebody you feel is trying to impinge on your livelihood. But we reached an agreement: We would down tools around logging in these valleys and they would stand down their campaign so we can talk. And we did. That set the framework for collaboration.

"What changed? We've all grown up.

What we have learned from our customers was, we could have all the explanations and facts and figures to tell them why what we were doing was okay, but if there was conflict associated with our products, they could get those products somewhere else.

Now we have a forest industry that will provide jobs and sustainable, climate-friendly products. It's not just about the market. The world has to shelter 7.4 billion people and forest products provide the best building materials. This shows we are sustainable."

First Nations

Dallas Smith is president of the Nanwakolas Council, one of the two major First Nations organizations representing most of the 26 aboriginal communities in the region. He has been a part of the land-use planning from the start, but the region's aboriginal communities were initially hostile when they learned environmentalists and industry were trying to work out a conservation plan within their traditional territories . He believes the plan that has been crafted now offers hope for the indigenous people of the region.

"My initial reaction was, 'Why are these people - these outsiders - talking about our territories?' It was very defensive.

"But through the land-use planning forums, I began to understand the role of First Nations people on the coast. We have these communities that are in the middle of nowhere, but there is resource extraction that is dependent on relationships with these communities. It started to dawn on me, the opportunity that First Nations had to play a significant role when it comes to making decisions in what became known as the Great Bear Rainforest.

"It's huge for us because our people go back since time immemorial and we are part of the functioning ecosystem. These other groups were simply wanting to use these ecosystems. We realized we had a certain accountability, as we claimed through our songs and dances that we have this cultural connection to our land and resources, that we have to stand up and show the world we are part of this, this is why we are supporting discussions about how to make practices in the Great Bear Rainforest more sustainable.

"It's funny, after all these years, I don't know whether I'm an NGO or an industry guy. I cherish my relationships with both sides, I want to see more sustainable development but there are some serious issues that need protection in the Great Bear and I think we've done that.

"Now it's necessary to take steps to ensure that our communities are able to share in the economic success, in the balance that we have achieved in the Great Bear. How do we make these communities better places to live? The Great Bear Rainforest is world-renowned, but my communities still live in third-world conditions in this territory. If that is still the case 10 years from now, the Great Bear has failed."

These interviews have been edited and condensed.

Associated Graphic

Valerie Langer, Premier Christy Clark, Dallas Smith and Rick Jeffery marked the Great Bear Rainforest deal on Friday.



Some of the hottest chefs are serving food in tins. Why not take a page, writes Jon Sufrin, and survey the cupboard for supper inspiration
Wednesday, February 3, 2016 – Print Edition, Page L1

For almost a year now, foodobsessed patrons in Toronto have been shelling out $60-plus for high-end cans of Spanish cockles at Bar Raval and lining up for the sticky toffee puddings and tourtières that Charlotte Langley of Scout Canning sells in tins. Meanwhile, Spam - as in the luncheon meat - is holding its spot on restaurant menus across the country.

And yet, somehow, home chefs - especially when they're entertaining - still consider tinned food a last resort: a little too cheap, a little too convenient and as far from artisanal as possible.

A quick perusal of any grocery store's canned food section will reveal fascinating and delicious finds, such as escargot, Icelandic cod liver or sardines in tomato sauce. Maybe canned food gets a bad rap because it's not always easy to figure out exactly what to do with the stuff. So, to help up your tin game, we challenged four chefs to come up with canbased recipes that are good enough to change public opinion.


Maple-pomegranate glazed unagi The canned food options at an Asian grocery store are among the most interesting pantry additions you'll find anywhere (if you can find it, shiokara - preserved squid innards - is briny, chewy and as funky as Gorgonzola).

Chef Shin Suzuki has a soft spot for canned eel, the sweet and tender seafood also known as unagi. "It's something I grew up on," he says. "It's delicious."

He suggests serving the fillets on steamed rice drizzled with a simple glaze made from soy sauce, mirin, maple syrup, ginger and pomegranate seeds.

1 cup short-grain rice 1/4 cup soy sauce 1/4 cup mirin 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup 1 small knob of ginger 2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds 1 can unagi 1 tablespoon chopped chives 1 tablespoon sesame seeds (toasted and ground)

Wash and steam rice, keep warm. Combine soy sauce, mirin and maple syrup in a small pot. Crush the knob of ginger and add it to the pot. Reduce to a syrup consistency. When glaze is cooled, remove the ginger, add pomegranate seeds and set aside. Open the unagi and place as many fillets as you like on top of the steamed rice. Sprinkle with chopped chives and sesame seeds and drizzle the maple pomegranate glaze to finish.


Vegetarian cassoulet

Cassoulet is a meaty, superlatively hearty peasant dish that's steeped in French tradition. For casual cooks, it's the ultimate whatever's-lying-around meal.

"Canned beans are a great product," chef Dustin Gallagher says.

"I think you can make great vegetarian dishes with food that's readily available."

For the cassoulet:

4 cloves of garlic, chopped 1 small onion, chopped 1 jalapeno, chopped 1 bouquet garni of thyme, rosemary and sage 2 cans cannelini (white kidney) beans, around 15 ounces each 1 can stewed tomatoes, around 15 ounces 2 cups vegetable stock 1 bunch chopped kale 1 tablespoon paprika Salt and pepper, to taste

For the topping:

8 pieces butternut squash (half moons from the bottom) 4 pieces Japanese eggplant, cut 4-inches lengthwise with tops and bottoms cut off 2 vine-ripe tomatoes, cut in half 1/4 cup maple syrup 1/4 cup lemon juice 2 tablespoons butter 1/4 cup chopped parsley 1/2 cup breadcrumbs 1/2 cup of Parmesan Salt, to taste

In a large pot, sauté garlic, onions, jalapeno and bouquet garni.

Add drained beans, tomatoes, vegetable stock, kale and paprika and cook at a low temperature for 30 minutes.

In a large skillet, sear-roast squash, eggplant and tomato.

Take tomato out once it has a nice colour, then glaze the eggplant and squash with maple syrup, lemon and butter. Season with salt.

Mix parsley, breadcrumbs and Parmesan in a bowl.

Put the cooked beans in an ovenproof dish and top with the roasted vegetables and the breadcrumb mix. Place in the oven and broil until golden brown.


Chickpea, tomato and tuna bruschetta

Bruschetta can be way more than just chopped tomatoes on bread (though there's nothing wrong with simplicity, either). Chef Tret Jordan opened four cans for this savoury bruschetta: chickpeas, anchovies, tomatoes and albacore tuna. "There are always concerns about overfishing with tuna," Jordan says, "but Raincoast Trading is a brand that's Ocean Wise certified."

1 cup canned chickpeas 1 cup canned tuna 1 cup canned tomatoes 4 fillets canned anchovy 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 3-4 cloves minced garlic 2 tablespoons chopped parsley 2 tablespoons chopped basil Salt and pepper, to taste Sliced fresh baguette or crostini

Open the chickpeas and give them a good rinse with cold water.

Open the tuna and flake into a bowl. Open the tomato and chop into 1/4-inch dice. Reserve the tomato juice.

Heat a good-size pan on the stove to medium-high, and then add the olive oil. Add the anchovy fillets first and gently fry.

Using the back of the fork, mash the fillets until they almost completely break up.

Add the garlic and sauté until just starting to turn golden brown. Stir in the chickpeas and continue to sauté.

After 30-45 seconds, tip in the chopped tomato and a splash of the tomato juice. Keep the heat up to help reduce the juice and add the flaked tuna and stir to mix in. Cook until the tomato juice has reduced enough to bind together. There should be almost no juice left from the tomato, but a good shine from the olive oil.

Stir in the chopped herbs and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Serve warm or chilled with crostini or a sliced fresh baguette.


Scotch egg

Traditionally, a Scotch egg is coated in sausage, but chef Marc Landry has come up with his own version using canned corned beef instead. "When I was working in England, we used canned corned beef at the Ivy," he says. "We made a corned beef hash, and I've taken that hash and put it around an egg."

A low-tier Scotch egg is tough and rubbery, but Landry's suggestion for a five-minute boil - which solidifies the egg white but not the yolk - will avoid this pitfall. A word of warning though: while Scotch eggs are delicious, they're tricky to make, so patience is required.

6 eggs 4 small potatoes 2 small onions, chopped 1 can corned beef, 7 ounces Worcestershire, to taste 1/2 cup flour, or enough to coat eggs 1/2 cup bread crumbs, or enough 1 to coat eggs

Boil four of the eggs for 5 minutes. Chill and peel. They will be quite soft, so be careful with them. The five-minute boil is ideal for yolk texture, but eggs boiled for a slightly longer duration (6 or 7 minutes) will be easier to work with.

Boil the potatoes until they are soft, roughly 12 minutes. Chill, peel and grate the potatoes.

In a pan, cook the onions on high heat until they are charred.

In a separate bowl, mix the corned beef, the potatoes and the onions. Add a few splashes of Worcestershire sauce to your taste.

Coat the eggs with the mix, using about a quarter of it for each egg. It can help to coat the egg with a bit of flour beforehand. If the mix is too wet, add flour to it as you gently sculpt it to the egg.

Beat the remaining two eggs in a bowl. Take the coated eggs and proceed with a breadcrumb coating (put the coated eggs in flour, then in the beaten eggs, then in breadcrumbs.)

In a fryer or a pan with oil, fry the coated egg until crispy and golden brown.

Associated Graphic

Chef Tret Jordan of Vancouver's Homer St. Cafe makes this fresh-tasting bruschetta from the contents of four cans - chickpea, tuna, tomato and anchovy.


Monday, February 1, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A1

BELLA BELLA, B.C. -- The 20-year battle to protect the Great Bear Rainforest - the largest coastal temperate rainforest on the planet - is over, with the B.C. government set to announce Monday it has reached an agreement with environmentalists, forest companies and First Nations.

The deal, which will be enshrined in legislation this spring, applies to a stretch of 6.4 million hectares of the coast from the north of Vancouver Island to the Alaska Panhandle. It promises to protect 85 per cent of the region's old-growth forests, with logging in the remaining 15 per cent subject to the most stringent commercial logging standards in North America.

Representatives for the four partners gathered for a ceremony in the Heiltsuk community of Bella Bella on Friday to mark the completion of an accord that reaches far beyond the original objectives of protecting ancient forests and the home of the unique white-furred black bear known as the Spirit Bear.

The final agreement also recognizes aboriginal rights to shared decision-making and improves economic opportunities for the 26 First Nations that reside in the region with a greater share of timber rights and $15-million from the province.

In Bella Bella's school gymnasium, hereditary chiefs wearing their regalia of button blankets and ermine-trimmed headdresses danced and a chorus of children sang to welcome Premier Christy Clark and the chief architects of the deal.

"This is a singular place - a gift - for us to preserve and this is the biggest statement we've ever made about our commitment to that," Ms. Clark said in an interview after a short hike through the forest to the edge of an estuary. "To me, it's an expression of our collective love of this land and this coast."

In the late 1990s, the Heiltsuk people welcomed visiting international customers for B.C.'s forest products to explain their concern about the timber being taken from their traditional territories. They showed their guests the home of the Spirit Bear and the ancient forests and pristine watersheds that command awe from visitors. But the region is also home to 18,000 people, many in remote and impoverished communities with little opportunity for work.

Marilyn Slett, chief councillor of the Heiltsuk Tribal Council, said her community was drawn into the conflict early on, but their views were not always part of the debate. "That's the milestone - the collaboration," she said in an interview. "As Heiltsuk people, as Coastal Nations, we aligned around common values of protecting the land." But her people want jobs too. "Our nation clearly and consistently said, there must be balance."

A critical part of the final agreement was the completion of government-to-government agreements, 26 in all, that B.C. signed with the resident First Nations on how the agreement will be managed.

"The outcome is we have a sustainable forest industry for B.C., and a platform for us to march down the road of reinvestment in the industry," said Rick Jeffery, chief negotiator for the forest companies. Those companies gain a valuable green stamp of approval to market their products, but also the certainty of having partnerships with the local First Nations.

"Now we have this great treasure, the result of collaboration between First Nations, industry, government and NGOs. That's the big success."

The pact creates a framework for sustainable economic development that environmentalists hope will serve as a global model for resolution of other land-use conflicts, from Canada's boreal forest - considered to be the largest intact forest on Earth - to the rapidly disappearing tropical rainforests in Indonesia.

The campaign began almost 20 years ago, when a group of environmentalists gathered over Italian food and wine to map out a strategy to save the region's old-growth trees. They began by rebranding what was then known as B.C.'s Central Mid-coast Timber Supply Area as the Great Bear Rainforest, and then launched their battle, one that threatened to poison the markets for the province's forest products.

With the combined efforts of Greenpeace, ForestEthics and the Sierra Club BC, more than 80 companies, including Home Depot, Staples and IKEA, were persuaded to stop selling products made from B.C.'s oldgrowth forests.

Then-B.C. premier Glen Clark condemned the activists as the "enemies of B.C." and refused to accept the region's new moniker.

It was market pressure that brought industry to the table. A representative of the German publishing industry representing $600-million worth of paperpublishing contracts in B.C. met with both sides and demanded they work out their differences so that his clients could be assured they were buying sustainable and conflict-free paper.

In 2001, the Joint Solutions Project - an alliance of forest companies and environmental organizations - announced a ceasefire in the war in the woods. The marketing campaign against B.C. forest products was abandoned and, in exchange, the companies deferred logging in 100 pristine valleys. There was now an opportunity to collaborate.

"That put us in a place to really start talking seriously about a different future for the Great Bear Rainforest," said Catherine Stewart, who steered the negotiations on behalf of Greenpeace for the first six years.

Ms. Stewart now represents another non-governmental organization, Canopy, which partners with forest-product customers - including The Globe and Mail - to advance conservation. But she plans to join her former Greenpeace colleagues and others on Monday to celebrate the completion of the deal.

"It sets a huge precedent and a very encouraging one for threatened ancient forests around the world - it says this can be done," Ms. Stewart said.

Ten years ago, a tentative pact was signed with international fanfare. Then-premier Gordon Campbell stood on a podium alongside forestry executives, environmental activists and aboriginal leaders to announce "the culmination of an unprecedented collaboration." It was hailed as a "dream come true" by negotiators.

But implementation of the plan proved to be more challenging than expected. Logging continued and soon the three environmental organizations at the table raised concerns that the agreement wasn't being met.

There was trouble, too, for the First Nations leaders who had signed on. They returned to their home communities to find criticism, not accolades, because the deal delivered little to help lift up their people.

"We always thought this was about stopping logging," said Dallas Smith, president of the Nanwakolas Council which represents six of the First Nations in the Great Bear Rainforest.

"But it morphed into something else, about saving this globally significant area that was unique because of its untouched wilderness, but with the understanding that there are indigenous people who are interwoven into the fabric."

However there is still work to done, said Ian McAllister of Pacific Wild, an environmental organization devoted to issues in the Great Bear Rainforest, whose stunning photography of the region and its wildlife would play a crucial role in building support for its preservation.

"There is no skirting the issue: This agreement proposes to log 2.5 million cubic metres of oldgrowth forests every year for the next 10 years," he said in an interview. "The campaign was to stop ancient-forest logging.

Unfortunately this agreement enshrines the idea that ancientforest logging is part of doing business in the Great Bear Rainforest. That's been a significant change in the conservation movement."

Associated Graphic

An aerial view shows a section of the Great Bear Rainforest near Bella Bella, B.C., on Friday. A deal that protects 85 per cent of the 6.4 million hectare coastal forest will become enshrined in legislation this spring.


Top, Tim McGrady, a guide with Spirit Bear Lodge, looks for bears in Klemtu, B.C., in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest, last summer. Middle, a 'spirit bear' hunts for salmon in a river near Klemtu last summer. Bottom, a juvenile humpback whale breaches near Klemtu.


Barristan the bold and Bigmouth the loud
Saturday, January 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page R4

Gaslight Written by Patrick Hamilton Directed by David Gilmore Starring Ian McElhinney, Flora Montgomery, Owen Teale At the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto 3

Bigmouth Written by, directed by and starring Valentijn Dhaenens At the Panasonic Theatre in Toronto 3 ½

Gaslight, a 1938 "Victorian thriller" by the British novelist Patrick Hamilton, gave a name to something that previously had no name. Its brilliant opening scene paints such a recognizable, if heightened, picture of a commonplace form of mental abuse that the play's titular noun was turned into a verb to describe it.

In a gloomy sitting room in 1880s London, Bella Manningham (Flora Montgomery) is walking around on eggshells as Mr. Manningham (Owen Teale) naps under the evening paper. She's only organizing muffins for teatime with the maid - but is clearly terrified.

After her husband does awake, Mr. Manningham chastises Bella for fearing chastisement - and it's clear he's a bad sort even before he then flirts with the young maid in front of her (ostensibly to teach his wife not to treat the servants as equals). Next, he dangles tickets to the theatre in front of Bella - only to yank them away once he discovers that a picture has been taken down from the wall.

Bella professes to have had nothing to do with this redecorating - but her husband says, in a tone more in sorrow than in anger, that if she doesn't start confessing to hiding objects around the house, he will have to have her committed.

Witnessing Bella's psychological anxiety - making someone doubt their memory or sanity has since become known as "gaslighting" - is almost equally as nervewracking for an audience.

While Hamilton described his hit play - later made into a number of movies - as a pastiche, the way his opening scene skirts melodrama is what makes it so great.

In director David Gilmore's production currently at the Ed Mirvish, Teale presents a Mr. Manningham who is not entirely evil, while Montgomery's Bella does seem a little overly frantic.

There's enough doubt to be tantalizing.

Very little that follows Gaslight's opening scene, however, could be called brilliant - and that's not only because the plot hinges on the way the gas lights in the Manningham household dim at unexpected moments.

Hamilton's searing portrait of domestic abuse is only an introduction for a thriller that isn't particularly thrilling, a mystery that is not really that mysterious.

Disappointingly, the question of whether Bella is going mad or not is dismissed rather quickly as a detective named Rough (a jaunty Ian McElhinney) shows up to assure her that she is not.

Instead, Rough spins a tale about her husband that involves a murder long ago and missing jewels. Rough's entrance marks the beginning of a stretch of drawing-room exposition that it's hard to believe wouldn't have seemed comically extended even to audiences in 1938. I think it's a fault of the playwright more than McElhinney that the actor jumped over a good chunk of dialogue on opening night.

The Northern Irish thespian - known of late for playing a character named Barristan the Bold on HBO's Game of Thrones - stopped, apologized and then jumped back. But when Inspector Rough arrived at the line he had prematurely leapt to - a cliché about murderers always returning to the scene of the crime - what was notable was how little of what he had said in the interim mattered. Rough treats Bella as if she were extremely dim, and the play treats the audience in roughly the same manner.

The intriguing plot defect at the centre of Gaslight is that Bella never really develops a skepticism of men who feed her stories.

She simply stops believing everything her husband has told her - and starts believing everything that Insp. Rough tells her, with little proof.

To a certain extent, the audience undergoes a similar journey - emphasizing how theatre is a form of gaslighting, an enjoyable, safe one where you consent to being tricked into believing that actors on stage in 2016 Toronto are actually in a drawing room in 1880s London.

It would be interesting to see an adventurous deconstruction of Gaslight - one that exploits the paradox in its construction. This is not that production, but an endearingly old-fashioned take - one for which the Ed Mirvish Theatre's old curtain has been pulled out of storage. (For a select few, seeing this gorgeous velvet curtain with gold tassels at the bottom rise and fall will be worth the price of admission; I swooned.)

David Mirvish has teamed up with British producer Paul Elliott - who used to import pantomime to Toronto and recently brought last year's The Last Confession to town - to create this production in Toronto.

It's being sold on its two male stars and the fact that they have both been on Game of Thrones - a fact that further pushes Bella into the background.

Teale - whom I know from the excellent Netflix series River - and his nuanced portrait of a pseudo-Victorian villain is the main reason to recommend this production. McElhinney lives up to his character's description as "brusque, friendly, overbearing," but the complete lack of tension he brings to the stage does threaten to tip the proceedings over into camp.

As for Montgomery, she gives a vivid portrayal of Bella all the way through - until the end, when she doesn't quite convincingly take the play's final step.

Victoria Lennox, as an older maid named Elizabeth, is uncommonly good in a small role.

I t's international theatre season in Toronto. With the Progress Festival in full swing and World Stage kicking off, Mirvish Productions is getting in on the act - importing an unusual performance piece from a Belgian actor named Valentijn Dhaenens called Bigmouth as part of its Off-Mirvish series.

As if at a press conference held across history, Dhaenens moves up and down a long table covered in microphones speaking famous and not-so-famous speeches - from the funeral oration of Pericles (dated from around 400 BC) to some of former U.S. president George W.

Bush's more sober moments of oratory. (Using looping pedals and a clever design of Jeroen Wuyts, Dhaenens sometimes speaks or sings as multitudes.)

Dhaenens professes to be more interested in rhetorical echoes through the ages than any of the political content of these speeches. Indeed, unexpectedly, you may hear the compassion of Pericles in George W. Bush, or the passion of Socrates in Osama bin Laden. Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan may appear speaking about how he is an African in America, rather than African-American - but in the way he talks, he seems not far off from the ultra-American General George Patton.

King Baudouin of Belgium's unexpectedly moving speech about abortion in 1990 foreshadows a dicey one by Belgian politician Frank Vanhecke warning of the transformation of Europe into Eurabia.

Those are the only two Belgian historical figures in the show: Most are American; only one is a woman. Dhaenens - performing in about five different languages, with surtitles in English for the less multilingual - has created a fascinating, if oddball, show about the history of speech through the lens of a European who understands America largely from a distance.

Part of the show's charm, however, is how it makes the familiar strange. Ending the show with the Nat King Cole song Nature Boy - shades of another mash-up, Moulin Rouge - was a shade too bizarre for me. I appreciated being left to draw my own conclusions, however.

Gaslight continues to Feb. 28.

Bigmouth continues to Feb. 7.

Tickets and times at

Associated Graphic

Gaslight, by British novelist Patrick Hamilton, is playing at the Ed Mirvish Theatre until Feb. 28.


Bigmouth is an unusual performance piece from Valentijn Dhaenens.

Broncos need to stop Newton
In the 50th battle of the AFC versus the NFC the ground game will be vital for both teams
The Associated Press
Saturday, February 6, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S3

When the Panthers (17-1) have the ball

Go Cam. Stop Cam. No, it's not that simple for Carolina and Denver. But close.

Quarterback Cam Newton has been the NFL's most dynamic offensive player this season. He had 35 touchdown throws and 10 TD runs during the regular season, and he's added five more scores in the playoffs. Tall, strong and more accurate than ever, he's a tremendous force in the pocket.

Tall, strong and elusive, he's hard to slow down when on the run.

Near the goal line, he can be unstoppable.

So how does Denver try to slow down Newton? With the NFL's top-ranked defence.

That unit turned the AFC championship game in the Broncos' favour by rushing, hitting and distracting Tom Brady. The key will be the performances of the linebackers, led by All-Pro Von Miller, who couldn't be blocked by New England and also had an interception.

DeMarcus Ware, Danny Trevathan and Brandon Marshall also will try to get in Newton's face and mind, whether in the pass rush or popping up in unexpected spots. Look for co-ordinator Wade Phillips to come up with even more varied schemes than Denver used against Brady - recognizing that Newton's escapability and power must be neutralized, too.

Carolina will counter by getting RB Jonathan Stewart involved early. He's the best running back in this game, and has an All-Pro blocker in fullback Mike Tolbert, but he's facing a defence that rarely is ineffective in stopping the ground game.

The Panthers' underrated O-line, led by All-Pro centre Ryan Kalil and RG Trai Turner, won't get a break against any of Denver's guys in the trenches. DEs Antonio Smith, Derek Wolfe and Malik Jackson all have made significant contributions for Phillips.

Just like last week, when All-Pro Rob Gronkowski was at tight end, Denver needs to shut down the position. It's not unfair to argue that Carolina's Greg Olsen (88) is just as meaningful to his offence as Gronk is in New England.

Denver's secondary was banged up by the Patriots, and is stronger on the corners with Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib. It's conceivable one of them will be matched up with Olsen, particularly if T.J.

Ward and Darian Stewart are hobbled. Watch for Denver's third CB, Bradley Roby to see lots of action.

Newton has made journeyman WR Ted Ginn Jr. into a solid receiver, and veteran Jerricho Cotchery operates in empty spaces from the slot. Philly Brown broke an 86-yard TD reception against Arizona.

Newton made them effective against two staunch defences, Seattle and Arizona, in the postseason. Can he do it against a third such opponent - and in the Super Bowl?

When the Broncos (14-4) have the ball

The Panthers say they are preparing for a five-time NFL MVP, but they know Peyton Manning hasn't played at that elite level during this injury-ravaged season. They also are aware that for one game - especially this game - Manning just might conjure up the brilliance.

So Carolina won't try to outsmart Manning, a particularly difficult chore, and will get physical with him. Watch for the D-line that has been so dominant in the playoffs to ratchet up the pressure even more.

Kawann Short, Star Lotulelei, Charles Johnson and Mario Addison up front, plus linebackers and defensive backs on the blitz will try to make Manning uncomfortable. One way to defeat that, of course, is getting RBs C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman involved early and successfully.

That could force some hesitation for the Panthers.

Then again, with All-Pro LB Luke Kuechly, the league's leading tackler, Carolina has the guy who can counteract that strategy.

And if his fellow All-Pro at the position, Thomas Davis, can suit up and perform with his broken right arm, so much the better for Carolina. And so much the worse for Denver.

The Broncos have not given Manning great protection all season, but it has been good enough in two postseason wins. The onus is on LT Ryan Harris, rookie G Max Garcia and first-year starting centre Matt Paradis.

When Manning throws, the theory has been he can't get the ball deep with enough on it. Accurate or not, he's still tough on the shorter passes and play-action.

WRs Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, TEs Owen Daniels, Virgil Green and Vernon Davis, plus Anderson supply plenty of options. Provided they have gotten past the dropsies that plagued many of them against Pittsburgh - it was less a factor against New England - they will present a formidable challenge for All-Pro CB Josh Norman, ball-hawking S Kurt Coleman and the rest of the DBs.

Special teams

Ginn averaged 10.3 yards on punt returns and broke a 32-yarder to set up his own TD run against Arizona. But the Panthers aren't anything, uh, special on coverage units.

K Graham Gano finished second in the NFL in points with 146, and is good, not great, from long range. He also missed three PATs in 2015.

Denver K Brandon McManus hit 30 of 35 field goals during the season and is perfect on all seven in the playoffs. He has range, too, and gets lots of touchbacks.

The Broncos are without kick returner Omar Bolden, but their coverage squads are solid. Punter Britton Colquitt has had better seasons. So has Carolina's Brad Nortman.


Ron Rivera was the NFL coach of the year in 2013 and is a frontrunner for the award this season.

A solid defensive assistant and co-ordinator for years, he finally got his own team in 2011 and has gone 49-34-1, with three straight NFC South crowns.

Extremely popular with his players, Rivera has been called "Riverboat Ron" for his willingness to take chances in games.

He's toned that down recently, but the Panthers on both sides of the ball recognize his faith in them when he gambles.

Co-ordinators Mike Shula (offence) and Sean McDermott (defence) are creative and aggressive. McDermott has more talented players on his unit, but Shula has Newton.

Gary Kubiak spent eight seasons coaching the Texans after being John Elway's backup for much of his playing career. Elway summoned him to replace John Fox after last January's postseason debacle against Indianapolis.

Kubiak's offence required many adjustments from Manning, and the most cerebral of quarterbacks made most of them swiftly. Just as significantly, when Manning went down, Kubiak and offensive co-ordinator Rick Dennison had tutored backup Brock Osweiler well enough to keep sailing toward the AFC's top seed.

Phillips has been one of football's most successful defensive minds for years. He's a perfect example of someone who might not be suited for the top job, but is a superb co-ordinator.


Manning's quest for a second Super Bowl ring and the chance to go out like his current boss, Broncos GM Elway, did in 1999. Manning isn't saying outright this is the end of his Hall of Fame-calibre career, despite all the indications it will soon be over. His teammates not only want the perfect send-off for their QB, but to erase memories of the shellacking Seattle put on them two years ago.

The Panthers believe that despite having the NFL's best record all season - and one of the best in NFL history - they have been underappreciated by the masses.

They hear the word "castoff" applied to some of them, and it bites.

Associated Graphic


Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton threw for 35 touchdowns and ran for 10 scores during the regular season.


While one-off events have a role in the higher cost of groceries in Canada, a systemic emphasis on agricultural exports, the closings of food-processing plants and retailers' preference for dealing with large companies put more steam behind the trend, Ann Hui reports
Saturday, January 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A10

When Atif Kubursi was researching Ontario's food system a few years ago, he made a curious discovery: The same trucks that were hauling large bags of Ontario carrots for sale down in Florida were transporting bags of U.S. carrots back up to Canada.

"The Americans prefer the better-tasting [Canadian] carrots. And Canadians prefer better-looking American carrots," the McMaster University economics professor said, noting that Canadians import some foods unnecessarily.

Over the past few weeks, Canadians have been hammered with headlines warning of skyrocketing food prices: the famous $8-cauliflower and a 30per-cent hike in the cost of beef. And although some of those sudden spikes can be explained by one-off events expected to level off over time - extreme weather such as a drought in California, or a plunging Canadian dollar - Prof. Kubursi's observation that Canadians import food they don't need to is key to understanding the bigger picture.

The trend is that, while global food prices have dropped steadily over the past five years, Canada has been the outlier, with prices increasing. But although experts expect another price hike next year, they say there's no need to raise alarm bells yet - that relative to other countries, Canada is still doing well in terms of affordability.

Over the past five years, overall food costs as measured by the consumer price index have outpaced inflation, rising between 1.4 per cent and 3.7 per cent each year, according to Statistics Canada.

That means the bill for a bag of 16 grocery items - all of them recommended in Canada's Food Guide as part of a healthy diet - now costs $70, up from $59 in 2011.

A decline in Canada's fruit and vegetable production is largely to blame for this, said Evan Fraser, Canada Research Chair in Global Food Security at the University of Guelph.

"We used to be fairly self-sufficient in fruit and vegetable categories," he said. But after the North American free-trade agreement removed key protections for local growers, many of the country's large food-processing companies headed south.

Many local farmers who used to rely on these companies as stable buyers for their fresh produce, Mr. Fraser said, moved to other crops.

A 2014 study from Ivey Business School found that Canada lost 143 food-manufacturing facilities between 2006 and 2014 - although 63 new plants opened in that same time. Meanwhile, the area dedicated to vegetable production in Canada has declined by more than 34,000 hectares since 2001.

As a result, Canada has become increasingly reliant on imported food - and increasingly vulnerable to fluctuations. "This amplifies the extent to which our food prices are exposed to international trends and things like the price of oil and currency," Prof. Fraser said.

Prof. Kubursi, meanwhile, said the carrot example is just one of many that show Canadians need to rethink their food choices to better match local consumption with local production. He acknowledged that food choices are a matter of personal taste, but said that better education - including labelling local products - could be key.

Others, such as University of British Columbia food economics professor Jim Vercammen, point to grocery retailers' preference for partnering with large, reliable suppliers over smaller local ones.

"The big stores don't like to deal with inefficient supply chains - they like the big trucks that come from California every second day," he said. "They unload, and don't have to worry about seasonal effects."

The rising prices have raised concerns that the most vulnerable populations are the ones hit the hardest: lower-income families and the homeless.

And in northern places such as Nunavut, where affordability has long been a pressing issue, rising prices have only exacerbated the problem.

Groups such as Food Secure Canada urge the federal government - and Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay, who was recently mandated by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to develop a national food policy - to strengthen support for local agriculture beyond export-driven commodities.

A statement from Mr. MacAulay emphasized the products that are grown domestically. "Canada is a major exporter of agricultural products like grains, oilseeds and red meat, and a lower Canadian dollar keeps our export sales strong and supports farm incomes," he said.

The minister also described prices, despite recent hikes, as "reasonable" - an assertion echoed by Sylvain Charlebois, a professor with the University of Guelph's Food Institute.

Prof. Charlebois, who released a report last month on rising food prices, said Canada is still doing relatively well in terms of affordability. He pointed to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which showed that just more than 9 per cent of Canadians' average consumer spending in 2014 went to food consumed at home.

In its worldwide ranking of food affordability, the USDA found Canada fifth overall.

He said that retailers could also be part of the reason why prices have been going up. For decades, Prof. Charlebois said, competition in the grocery retail market resulted in price wars. "The whole focus was about prices and about making food prices as low as possible," he said.

But in the past few years, "we've started the era of strategic focus," with each retailer concentrating on its own specific strategy - Sobeys on logistical efficiency with its acquisition of Safeway, and Metro targeting more upscale markets.

"Now, the fascination is not so much about food prices, but more about quality and diversity," he said.

And to Prof. Charlebois, rising prices might not be a bad thing. Higher prices, he said, might increase the currency of food in general, and lead people to pay more attention and ask more questions about the products they put in their carts.

"I would say for decades in Canada, we were dealing with a marketplace that not only made food cheap, but actually marginalized it," he said. "Basically, food was competing against the best TV available, trips to Cancun. It's different now."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which ranks 85 countries on food affordability, placed Canada fifth over all in 2014. That list found the average Canadian spends 9.3 per cent of their consumer expenditures on food consumed at home - or $2,506 (U.S.) each year. The U.S. came in first on that list, spending just 6.5 per cent on food. The average resident in Nigeria - the worst-ranked country on the list - spends 56.6 per cent on food.

In the past five years, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations' food price index measuring global prices has dropped by about 12 per cent. In the same period, Canada's consumer price index for food has risen between 1.4 per cent and 3.7 per cent each year.

Food prices are expected to rise again in the next year between 2 per cent and 4 per cent, according to University of Guelph researchers - meaning the average Canadian household could spend an extra $345 on food. The researchers predicted the biggest price hikes will be for meat (mainly beef and pork), as well as fruits and nuts - forecasting an increase between 2.5 per cent and 4.5 per cent. Other products, such as dairy and eggs, are expected to remain stable.

In a University of Guelph survey, nearly 38 per cent of respondents said they have reduced or stopped eating beef in the past year - 62 per cent of whom said that choice was made for financial reasons.

According to the Ivey Business School, 143 foodprocessing plants shut down in Canada between 2006 and 2014. And, since 2001, Canada has lost more than 34,000 hectares dedicated to vegetable production.

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Inside Amanda Palmer's controlled chaos
The singer thrives on last minute art-making, as she demonstrates again with her latest project, inspired by the death of David Bowie
Saturday, February 6, 2016 – Print Edition, Page R2

A manda Palmer has never let a lack of prep time stop her from doing her thing. During Vancouver's inaugural TED conference two years ago, she mounted a pay-what-you-can, off-site concert with two days' notice, a lineup she secured in part by trolling the TED hallways and a stage manager who volunteered over Twitter about 24 hours before the doors opened.

Palmer thrives on last-minute art making, as she demonstrates once again with her latest project, created not long after a birth - Palmer's baby, with the author Neil Gaiman, in September - and inspired by a death - David Bowie's, in January.

Palmer's surprise EP of Bowie covers, Strung Out in Heaven: A Bowie String Quartet Tribute, was released on Friday - a collaboration with composer/producer/ musician Jherek Bischoff that is at turns tense, mournful, frenetic and gorgeous.

Palmer and Gaiman received the news of Bowie's death by text message at 3 a.m. in Santa Fe, N.M., where they were visiting relatives with their baby - "a tiny fleshy reminder," Palmer wrote in an essay she released to media to accompany the EP, that Bowie, like friends who had recently died from cancer, was just passing through. "The baby is Ash. Dust to dust. Funk to Funky."

The next day Palmer was talking to Bischoff, with whom she was collaborating on a single, Machete, and they started contemplating the idea of a flash Bowie tribute. "We were literally on the phone a few hours after David Bowie died saying here we are working together with a bunch of strings. How crazy would it be if we took a sharp left and spent the next couple weeks secretly working on a David Bowie project?" Palmer explains from a café in Sarasota, Fla., where she was visiting relatives.

"And so we did."

After all, Palmer, the crowdsourcing queen, has been raising money on Patreon "to make stuff" - asking patrons to pledge some money every time she puts out a piece of content (a song, a video etc.). What better "stuff," she thought, than a Bowie tribute? They gave themselves a deadline: two weeks. Bischoff recorded the strings in Los Angeles, Palmer recorded the vocals in Santa Fe, and vocals for duets came in remotely - from Anna Calvi (on a sorrowful Blackstar) from London and John Cameron Mitchell (on Heroes and Helden - the German version) in his New York apartment.

Gaiman also pitched in on a haunting cover of Space Oddity that includes an extraordinary, mad string-propelled liftoff.

The six-track EP is selling on Palmer's Bandcamp website for a minimum of $1 (U.S.) - with 54 cents of that going to Bowie's publisher and the remaining proceeds from the first month of sales to the cancer-research wing at Boston's Tufts Medical Center in Bowie's memory. It also includes artwork created by artists in the United States, Britain, Spain and Australia - contributions organized by Palmer.

"It's funny; being a mom I can't always physically make it to stage but for the past few weeks I've been breastfeeding a baby with one hand and the other hand typing to artist friends all over the globe and doing vocals and listening to mixes and desperately trying to convince myself that my life is not over because I had a baby," Palmer said while breastfeeding her four-month-old son.

"I can do a project like this and use the Internet as my stage and still juggle a baby and not feel like I'm abandoning my motherhood post."

Palmer is a polarizing figure - she has a large and devoted fanbase but is also a magnet for criticism. Her past crowdfunding effort earned her cash and attention - but also landed her in some hot water. After famously raising $1.2-million (U.S.) on Kickstarter to record a new album, she was widely criticized for asking musicians to play for free (or at least for beer and hugs or high-fives).

She also got critics worked up over A Poem for Dzhokhar, hastily written after the Boston Marathon bombing. The controversial poem sparked hundreds of comments, wild exchanges on Twitter and even parody poetry ("some of the hate poems were REALLY GOOD," she wrote on her blog).

With the Bowie tribute out, Palmer is focusing on another project: She is planning another so-called Ninja Ted event for Vancouver, coinciding with this month's TED conference ($20 tickets are now on sale; it's a benefit for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank). Unlike the couple of days of planning that went into that first Vancouver show in 2014, Palmer gave herself nearly three weeks to plan the event this time - still an unheard-of chaos of a schedule to organize a show, but "which is like a decade in Amanda Palmer time," she noted.

There's no confirmed lineup for the event - which she calls a "high-octane, lo-fi circus" - but if Bischoff is able to be there, they will perform tracks from the new EP. Writer/culture critic Maria Popova is a go, as is poet Sarah Kay. Beyond that, Palmer will do her thing - sourcing Vancouver talent and tapping TED speakers on the shoulder and inviting them to appear.

"Al Gore is going to be playing a banjo and singing songs about climate change," she said. "I just haven't e-mailed him yet."

She's joking of course, but she's serious about the impromptu spirit of the event.

"Everybody knows what it is like to be in a room where the show has been thrown together versus meticulously planned for nine months. And really very often it is the shows that are thrown together with love and care that are the more memorable," she said. "There's something just really wonderful about sending up a flare into the sky and saying, hey everybody, come over here, let's do a thing."

Palmer is counting on people to help with the baby - Gaiman won't be in Vancouver for TED this time; he needs to concentrate on writing, Palmer says. But I wonder, how does she have the energy for these projects with a baby?

"The fuel on which I run is chaotic improvisation. If I don't have some chaotic improvisation as the gas in my car, my car stalls and I get depressed and unhappy," she said. "So it really is a juggle between doing the things that kind of keep me fundamentally happy and feeling like I'm still a responsible parent. And I'm watching Neil as a writer go through the same thing. ... And I think we're both coming to terms with who we need to be in order to be happy parents, so that we don't deprive our kid of having the correct human beings.

"I tried for about three months to do absolutely nothing but child care ... and I started to get depressed," she added. "I was starting to feel the life force drain out of me. I want the kid to have parents who are happy and his parents happen to be happiest when they're working artists. ... The flipside of that question would be, how would I have the energy to do nothing but just take care of the baby and I think I would go fucking nuts."

Amanda Palmer's #ninjaTED event is at the Vogue Theatre in Vancouver on Feb 17. Proceeds benefit the Greater Vancouver Food Bank.

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Amanda Palmer and Jherek Bischoff collaborated on Palmer's surprise EP of David Bowie covers.


Pine for the redwoods
The famous towering trees are just one highlight of a Route 1 road trip full of twists
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, January 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page T2

MENDOCINO COUNTY, CALIF. -- My husband and I cross San Francisco's iconic Golden Gate Bridge and head toward Mendocino County, our first stop on a five-day journey to the famous redwoods of Northern California. We pass glittering views of the Pacific and zigzag through sun-dappled oak woodlands as I poke my head out the open window and breathe in the heady aroma of fresh earth and pine needles.

It is a road trip I have wanted to take for decades, and one that comes with a renewed sense of urgency because the trees are at risk. While some of these giants have stood for of 3,000 years, they face an incredible test: the California drought.

In October, Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency because of "the worst epidemic of tree mortality in its modern history." According to a report released last month by the Carnegie Institution for Science, 58 million trees, including redwoods, have shown signs of significant water loss since 2011.

Coastal redwoods draw much of their moisture from fog, but even they are starting to exhibit signs of distress.

In 100 years, "most of the big trees could be gone," Nathan Stephenson, an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, told The New York Times in 2014 - a sober reminder not to take anything for granted, and the reason we're finally in Northern California.

We drive past endless fields of cows and horses on Route 1, and stop for lunch in Bodega Bay, where Alfred Hitchcock filmed The Birds. The clam chowder is delicious, even better because we're eating it on a picnic table overlooking Fisherman's Cove.

Our home for the night is Mar Vista Cottages near Anchor Bay in Gualala (pronounced Wa-LA-la), a 12-cottage complex where a sign welcomes you, "SLOW, CHICKENS AT PLAY." It's no joke; the henhouse has 130 chickens of all varieties. As Jamie parks, Lola, a friendly goat, trots over to check out the car. Our cottage has a cozy living room, well-stocked kitchen, a dining area and a bedroom with a window facing the beautiful forest.

A note tells us to leave a small wire basket outside the door if we want just-gathered eggs. There's a larger basket with a pair of scissors for picking vegetables and herbs from the organic garden.

Although our total mileage for the day has only been about 240 kilometres, we're too tired to walk down to the beach (across the street and down the path) or get back in the car to find a restaurant for dinner, so we hang out our egg basket, pick tomatoes, green peppers, scallions and herbs from the garden, and make a delicious omelette.

The next day, we head north on the coastal zigzagging roads called twisties, where the scenery constantly changes from golden fields of hay to forest groves or jagged cliffs. Growing near the sides of the road are pink belladonna lilies called naked ladies; in the spring, the plant has green leaves. The leaves drop off in summer and pink flowers appear on the naked stem.

Our new accommodation, and I mean brand-new, is the Inn at Newport Ranch just outside Fort Bragg, where we are the first overnight guests.

The town of Newport sprung up around lumber. Chutes anchored at the top of the headlands transported logs down to ships. If you look over the edge of the cliff at the inn, you can still see the remnants of one of the old chutes.

In 1885, lumber operations were moved to Fort Bragg and Newport became a ghost town - that is, until 85-year-old Vermonter Will Jackson saw a newspaper ad for 839 oceanfront acres in Mendocino. He flew out, fell in love with the land, bought it, and now owns 2,000-plus acres. Jackson has built the most gorgeous inn I have ever seen. Everything is redwood: floors, tables, the bar, even the headboards. He has spared no expense.

We sit on the wraparound porch, then walk to the edge of the headlands to spot seals and whales in the ocean. Jackson takes Jamie and me on an ATV redwood safari up and down the hills of his property, through the redwood groves, to a quarry, and through a field where cows graze among wildflowers.

Dinner at the inn is fresh and delicious, and we would love to stay another day, but we have limited time and are anxious to get up to the Redlands.

Leggett has a famous drivethrough 2,400-year-old redwood tree: 325 feet tall and 21 feet wide.

Sure, it's touristy to drive through, but how can we not? We shoot photos and head to the Avenue of the Giants, a shady road with 51,222 acres of redwood groves. Pulling off the road and looking up at a canopy of these ancient trees is a meditative and humbling experience. The air is fresh, the smell is woodsy and it is absolutely silent except for the slight rustling of branches.

I love the redwoods, but I'm equally happy driving the coastline with kilometres and kilometres of headlands with vista turnouts to stop and admire unending Pacific Ocean views.

Happily, we also have ocean views at our next hotel, the Heritage House Resort and Spa in Little River, where James Dean stayed while filming East of Eden. Our room has floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that open onto a terrace above a little cove. We sit and listen to the waves lapping gently against the rocks.

The next day, we drive down the jaw-gapingly beautiful Route 128, which connects Mendocino Valley to wine country. One minute we're steering through twisties, the next among shady redwood groves, and then alongside Anderson Valley's verdant vineyards from Navarro to Boonville.

While we like to consume wine, we don't like to stop and taste at every winery, and we don't have to because our final accommodation, the stunningly gorgeous Mediterranean compound The Madrones has four tasting rooms on the property.

This is the first time our accommodation is not ocean-facing, but it's still wonderful. We sit in the garden near the apple and pear trees watching the hummingbirds flit from flower to flower.

Designer Jim Roberts, who calls himself "the groundskeeper," created The Madrones 20 years ago as his home and office. Seven years ago, he built tasting rooms, added a restaurant and turned the space into an opulent nineroom retreat.

Dinner is outdoors at Table 128 at the Boonville Hotel, eight kilometres away. The delicious green bean salad with onions also features amazing goat cheese. The waitress, who says it's from a farm down the street, adds, "You can't throw a rock without hitting a goat or a sheep."

As we arrive back at our hotel and walk toward our room, I look up at the full moon and then, right below the moon, I see the Big Dipper - a perfect ending to our Northern California journey.

The writer travelled with assistance from Visit California. It did not review or approve this article.


Mar Vista Cottages:, from $185 (all prices in U.S. dollars) a night (two-night minimum) The Inn at Newport Ranch:, from $250, including daily breakfast and evening appetizers and drinks The Heritage House Resort and Spa:, from $129 a night The Madrones:; from $175

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Humboldt Redwoods State Park contains some of California's old-growth forest land.


For dance icon Peggy Baker, time is a flat circle
Her latest creation, Phase Space, reflects her ever-increasing obsession with teamwork and 'deepening artistic relationships'
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, January 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page R10

Dancer Sarah Fregeau opens her mouth and screams.

The noise, which rips across Studio 5B of Toronto's National Ballet School, is as incredible as it is ear-piercing - think somewhere between electrical feedback and what might ring from the throat of a bat. If Fregeau weren't standing in front of me, I'd never guess it was humanmade.

Moments later, dancer Ric Brown is balancing on a chair and howling. The howls begin modestly, then build into rough, gnashing, animalistic bellows.

I'm sitting only a few feet from him and the intensity is overwhelming - the sounds are uncannily real.

Suddenly, the noises stop and a woman steps forward to give the dancers notes. "Don't become too pensive," she tells Fregeau.

"Make the squishy sounds louder and leave them sooner." Then the woman turns to Brown and beams. "Those howls - I love.

They have so much appetite."

This montage of otherworldly sounds is part of a rehearsal for Phase Space, the latest creation by one of Canada's most renowned dance artists, Peggy Baker. The work is composed of four parts - Baker calls them "micro-worlds of composition" - and features six of her company dancers: Ric Brown, Sarah Fregeau, Kate Holden, Sean Ling, Sahara Morimoto and Andrea Nann.

Phase Space takes its name from a modelling system used by physicists. Baker came across the term while researching for locus plot, her elegant, mathematicsthemed work that premiered last year in Toronto to critical acclaim. She couldn't get over how well the concept captured her own approach to composition: The model expresses the instability of space and the nonlinearity of time through a process of folding, compressing and stretching. "I thought: That's exactly what I do," Baker tells me.

Once the dancers have left the studio for the day, we're able to talk in more detail. Baker speaks with unself-conscious warmth, gesturing with her large, expressive hands to draw out certain points.

"I'm in a new chapter of my creative life," she says, referring, in part, to her recent retirement as performer. It's a retirement she's not overly strict about; she interrupted it on a whim last fall to collaborate with Arcade Fire violinist Sarah Neufeld.

But she's also referring to her ever-increasing obsession with teamwork. "Collaborating has allowed me to completely transcend the structures of my own solo performance life. And I've always been interested in deepening artistic relationships."

Phase Space is a collaboration on every level. At its most foundational, it draws on the specializations of three very different artists: Baker is responsible for movement and composition, Fides Krucker for "vocalography," and composer/pianist John Kameel Farah will create and perform live electronic music.

Krucker is the woman responsible for the mad sounds that, moments before, were tearing through studio 5B. (Peggy Baker has been artist-in-residence at the National Ballet School since 1992.) Krucker's background is in contemporary opera and traditions of embodied voice.

She first collaborated with Baker at a cultural offshoot of the Vancouver Paralympics in 2010.

Baker was working on a piece for a solo dancer and a vocalist in a wheelchair and needed someone to reconstruct a vocal score by her husband, composer Ahmed Hassan (who died in 2011). She knew Krucker only by reputation and asked if she'd be able to help.

"In the rehearsal room, I loved everything she was doing," Baker says. "Every invention gave me another idea. I said to her: We need to do an original project."

Baker's collaboration with Farah, an award-winning classical pianist and composer, started at about the same time. Music has always been central to Baker's practice; throughout her solo career, she'd established a longstanding partnership with Canadian concert pianist Andrew Burashko. Playing from memory, Burashko accompanied her through a huge repertoire of choreography, playing both classical and contemporary pieces.

But as Baker shifted her focus away from performing, and Burashko became increasingly busy with the Art of Time Ensemble, Baker found herself in need of a new musician.

She was also curious to see what would happen when music was not the primary motive behind her choreography. "I wanted a complete reversal of the standard approach, in which music is chosen first and then dancing built accordingly."

The first attempt at this came via a collaboration with Farah called Aleatoric Solo No. 1 (2013) and Aleatoric Duet No. 2 (2014).

Baker created the choreography in rehearsal, then Farah spontaneously composed and performed musical accompaniment onstage. Similarly, in locus plot, Farah was integrated into the process only once the movement and vocalizations were set. He watched what Baker and Krucker had come up with, and proceeded to compose modernist-sounding piano sequences, interspersed with beat-driven electronic music, to complement the pre-existing composition.

With Phase Space, Baker wants to give Farah an opportunity to explore a structured middle ground between these two approaches. While he'll have a blueprint of the soundscape, Farah's modus operandi will still be largely improvisational. He'll sit in a booth 12 feet above the stage and respond live to the performance as it unfolds.

"There are infinite ways to improvise," Farah tells me. "Each time I see the work, I respond differently and I try to balance that with the moments I've previously discovered and want to keep. There's a tension between rhythmic and arrhythmic, floating rhythms and zany sounds, then the last piece is just purely, straight-up beautiful. Peggy lets me express these radically different sides of myself; she wants to exploit that in the best way."

Phase Space is also collaborative in what it demands of its six dancers. Baker was determined not to invent any new movement for the piece; instead, she asked each member of the ensemble to come to rehearsal with 10 minutes of choreography from her previous work - steps and sequences they had grown attached to, that still lived inside their bodies and felt specially memorable.

Baker's objectives with this are twofold. First, she wants to focus on her own understanding of composition, tightening the parameters of her creativity by limiting the vocabulary of her steps.

(She likens the exercise to fridgemagnet poetry: You can say anything, but only with the available words.)

Second, she wants to create room for her dancers to be interpreters on their own terms - an imperative at the crux of all her new work.

"It's what I was allowed in my solo career, and in my work with Lar Lubovitch's company [in New York]. He gave us so much responsibility to carry his repertoire. It really liberated me as a solo dancer; it was such a priceless gift. I never used a rehearsal director - I didn't want things fixed up from the outside. I wasn't trying to get someone to think things looked really good; I was working from an internal channel to embody the vision of the choreographer."

Baker thinks the micro-managing of performance is one of the weaknesses in the dance world.

It's an approach she dogmatically rejects.

"I want to see how the dancers bring themselves to the work.

I'm not trying to live out my dancing desires in their bodies.

These days, I want to say as little as possible."

Phase Space is presented by Peggy Baker Dance Projects from Jan. 2231 at the Betty Oliphant Theatre in Toronto (

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Ric Brown and Sahara Morimoto rehearse Phase Space, composed of 'micro-worlds of composition.'


The price is right
Offerings from Argentina and Chile bound to please both the palate and the pocketbook
Saturday, January 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page L9

Seasoned bargain hunters may recall the launch about a decade ago of a runaway success story called Fuzion Shiraz Malbec. Priced at $7.45 in Ontario and $8.10 in Quebec, the Argentine red quickly became one of the bestselling wines in Canada.

It also haunts me to this day. I touted the brand after it had exploded in its fi rst market, Quebec, and soon found myself unable to enter a crowded room without someone eventually shouting, "Hey, you're that Fuzion guy!" A prominent CBC radio show even called to ask me if I'd explain Fuzionmania on the air, which taught me that CBC radio producers don't spend enough on wine or don't make as much money as they should.

A top seller to this day, moving roughly 100,000 cases annually in Ontario alone, where it now sells for $8.25 ($9.29 in B.C.), Fuzion Shiraz Malbec did much to raise awareness in Canada and the United Kingdom about Argentina's treasure trove of value brands, many of them built on the signature red grape malbec. (It was never launched in the United States, by the way, because of a copyright confl ict with the name.)

More recently, though, Fuzion and its bargain-basement kin have become poster children for Argentina's current struggles with profitability. As I've reported before, runaway inflation, trade restrictions and unfavourable exchange rates have crippled the country's ability to make money in the $8 to $10 range in export markets.

So, there's a growing shift away from industrially farmed commodity wines like Fuzion toward the sort of higher-quality offerings that come from prized, cool, higher-elevation vineyards, an echo of what's been transpiring in neighbouring Chile as well as Australia, for that matter. If there's a war cry among Argentine producers today, it's that "$13 is the new $8" or "$15 is the new $10."

The fi rst selection among the recently launched, well-priced South American wines below is a conspicuous case in point. Santa Julia Reserva Malbec ranks as one of the better-made affordable reds I've sampled from Argentina in a while. A few fellow Canadian wine critics I know agree. It's especially noteworthy, though, because the Santa Julia line is made by Familia Zuccardi. That's the large family-owned fi rm that makes, yes, Fuzion.

"Santa Julia Malbec is a good example of where we are going," Jose Zuccardi, the company's president, told me over the phone when I reached him in Florida. Unlike Fuzion, Santa Julia's reserva malbec is cellared in quality French-oak barrels to soften the bright fruit and add an overtone of spice. It's also sourced, not from a wide swath of farms across the vast Mendoza region, but from select mountain vineyards in the region's western Uco Valley, where clear, high-elevation sunlight assists in ripening while cool night-time temperatures help retain vibrant acidity.

Zuccardi has not abandoned Fuzion but the winery, a large two-millioncase-a-year operation, is putting more resources behind Santa Julia, a brand that's close to Jose Zuccardi's heart for another reason. It was named after his now 33-year-old daughter. He intended to simply call it "Julia" but Zuccardi was prompted to add "Santa" - Spanish for saint - for the benefit of export markets because an Italian grappa company had already registered "Julia" for alcoholic beverages in Italy. With luck the wine will become the patron saint of a new generation of premium Argentine bargains.

Santa Julia Reserva Malbec 2014 (Argentina) SCORE: 88 PRICE: $12.95

More serious than most malbecs that sell for less, this red brings savoury depth to a category dominated by youthful, grapy, simple fruitiness.

Medium-full-bodied, it's dry and attractively chalky in texture, with a savoury essence of spice, smoke, vanilla and grilled meat. Try it with roast lamb, eggplant parmesan or grilled sausages.

$14.99 in British Columbia.

Atamisque Malbec 2011 (Argentina) SCORE: 92 PRICE: $29.95

Dense and sturdy, with a firm tannic backbone, this high-end red offers up plum, dark-berry and coffee notes.

Exceptional for the money, it would pair well with red-meat roasts, though it should improve with up to a decade in the cellar. Caveat: The 15-per-cent alcohol peeks through ever so slightly.

Available in Ontario.

Trivento Amado Sur Malbec Bonarda Syrah 2013 (Argentina) SCORE: 89 PRICE: $16.95

Bonarda, the bright-acid red grape that, like malbec, has come to define Argentina, makes up 20 per cent of this blend, along with 10-per-cent peppery syrah.

Full-bodied but not tiresomely heavy, it features ripe berry fruit, supple tannins and lively spice and acidity along with a fresh minty overtone. Good complexity for the money and versatile with food, though perhaps ideally paired with Argentine-style beef empanadas. $14.99 in British Columbia, $13.55 in Saskatchewan, $14.99 in Manitoba, $17.25 in Quebec, $18.99 in New Brunswick, $18.99 in Nova Scotia.

Toneles Tonel 22 Malbec 2012 (Argentina) SCORE: 89 PRICE: $17.95

Essentially dry but with a hint of crowdpleasing sweetness, Tonel 22, made by a winery around since the 1920s, combines ripe, syrupy-berry fruit and smooth dark chocolate notes with lifted acidity and peppery spice. Try it with roasted red meats. Available in Ontario.

Estampa Fina Reserva Carmenere Syrah Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (Chile) SCORE: 89 PRICE: $18.95

Gutsy stuff. Sturdy and meaty, Estampa's full-bodied and smartly crafted red blend is packed with berry fruit accented with licorice, smoked rubber and mint. Pair it with leg of lamb or grilled steaks. Various prices in Alberta, $17.53 in Manitoba.

Santa Carolina Specialties Dry Farming Carignan 2011 (Chile) SCORE: 89 PRICE: $17.95

Dry farming means no irrigation. That's one way - a tough way - to yield great wine grapes, which need precious little watering anyway. You force the vines over many years to search on their own for water, roots burrowing deep into the soil. An impressive red, this is made from the European carignan variety common to Spain and France and hails from deep-rooted 80-year-old vines. Full-bodied, it shows ample fruit ripeness hinting at plum and kirsch along with shoe leather and a whiff of menthol. Tight tannins bode well for five to 10 years in the cellar. Match it to rare duck breast. $17.99 in Manitoba.

Casa Silva Cool Coast Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Chile) SCORE: 89 PRICE: $16.95

Vibrant and grassy, with tart-tangy grapefruit and lemon on a light frame.

Great for lightly prepared or raw shellfish dishes or young cheeses. $19.99 in Nova Scotia.

Undurraga Sibaris Gran Reserva Pinot Noir 2013 (Chile) SCORE: 88 PRICE: $15.95

Chile continues to make advances with pinot noir, a coolness-craving grape one generally thinks of as more classically suited to countries with foggier regions, like Burgundy. Here's a well-priced example, brimming with crisp berries, baking spices and a whiff of tar, set against soft, integrated tannins. $13.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta.

Terrazas de los Andes Reserva Malbec 2013 (Argentina) SCORE: 88 PRICE: $18.95

Full-bodied and youthful, with grape-blueberry fruit and fresh acidity laced with licorice, spice and pepper.

$21.49 in British Columbia, $19.23 in Saskatchewan, $20.90 in Quebec, $28.79 in Nova Scotia.

The hands that rock
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, February 6, 2016 – Print Edition, Page R8

In English, we have some good idioms that connect our hands to our memories. When we know something intimately and unthinkingly, we compare it to the back of our hands. When we think about what matters to us - the stuff essential to happiness, the triumphs that make a life - we like equating value with scarcity; we count them on one hand.

Then hands can seem both anonymous and disarmingly identifying. Michel de Montaigne thought they could be more expressive and revealing than the sound of a human voice.

Belgian dancer/choreographer Michèle Anne De Mey and filmmaker Jaco Van Dormael, her husband, have developed a technique that uses hands as synecdoche for the whole human experience. Last year, they toured their genre-melding Kiss and Cry across 30-odd countries, performing it in eight languages. The work blends film and theatre to create "nano-dance," a choreography of the hands, which is captured live onstage via a Steadicam, then projected onto a huge screen. Kiss and Cry was presented at Canadian Stage in 2014 to critical acclaim; this year, the Toronto theatre will be the first theatre to show the work back-toback with its second instalment, Cold Blood - which received its world premiere in December of 2015 in Mons, Belgium, as part of the European Capital of Culture festival.

De Mey is well known as a dancer and choreographer in Europe.

Throughout the eighties, she performed with famed Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, before founding an independent company and building a large repertoire of her own.

Van Dormael has established a reputation in European film for his surreal reflections on death and his sensitive depictions of mental disability. The day before Kiss and Cry's opening night in Toronto, I sat down with De Mey and ensemble-member/associate choreographer Grégory Grosjean in the green room of the Bluma Appel Theatre. Van Dormael hadn't yet landed in Toronto - he was promoting his latest film, The Brand New Testament, which stars Catherine Deneuve, in Belgium.

De Mey, dressed all in black, has the long limbs of a dancer and a penetrating stare. She told me that the idea for nano-choreography came out of a desire for a thoroughgoing collaboration with her husband, but a reluctance to work within the usual dance-film conventions. They started with a workshop (a chantier) that could question and reflect on the differences and similarities between their forms.

"Jaco said that the difficulty he has with filming dance is trying to decide between a close-up shot and capturing the whole body.

So, to be funny, we decided to solve the problem by filming a dance of the fingers - where close-up and general become the same shot."

But the joke had more life than they'd imagined; the informal audience who watched the fruits of the chantier found the hand choreography unusual and moving. So the couple kept developing the technique at their kitchen table, taking their children's outgrown toys - Playmobil, electric trains, doll-house furniture - and seeing how the movement of their hands in and around these objects could begin to suggest narrative and character. With a male and female hand at play, the theme of love emerged naturally.

They developed a story of an old woman looking back on the great loves of her life - which, of course, she could count on one hand. The most perfect of these loves was the first one, from her youth, which started on a train when she grazed the hand of a stranger.

"Dance works with a lot abstraction," Grosjean says. He's been collaborating with De Mey as a dancer and co-creator for 15 years and plays each of the five male lovers in Kiss and Cry. "So it was really nice to play between representing the character and then letting that evolve into abstract dance, pure expression.

What's fantastic about filming hands is that there's no head. So everyone projects themselves onto the character."

De Mey starts walking two of her long, elegant fingers upsidedown on the coffee table between us. "You go like this, and you see a woman. Now you have an animal." She lowers her hand and makes four fingers scurry in the other direction. Then she undulates from her wrist, her hand swerving toward me in one piece.

"Now a snake. You see, the code for storytelling is quite simple, you can jump and go really, really quickly and the audience is never lost. Everyone knows it's just hands - there's no trick!"

"It's a poetic of the fake," Grosjean adds. "Everyone knows this isn't reality, that it depends on the power of imagination."

Baring the device of creation is a crucial part of the show. All the mechanisms of filmmaking are on display; the narrative of making theatre unfolds alongside the narrative of the play itself. De Mey calls this "the revelation of the two eyes": the eyes of the audience and the eye of the camera.

When I caught Kiss and Cry on opening night in Toronto, it was moments of this dynamic simultaneity between process and effect that I found most compelling. What the collective is able to do from a technical perspective is impressive, conjuring beautifully contained micro-worlds through the use of mirrors, lights and diorama-like sets. In one scene, dry ice is made in a disco club by having a member of the collective exhale cigarette smoke onto the tiny dance floor. These worlds are then captured at shifting and surprising camera angles, producing atmospheric images of snow, skating rinks, burning houses and bathrooms submerged in water.

But I found the production marred by mawkish, sentimental writing and a focus on love that, without background or development, felt just about as unearned as heaps of gratuitous sex. All text is relayed by a male voiceover that oscillates between painfully twee aphorisms ("love affairs are like an onion; they start dry, then make you cry") and thin, repetitive tropes about people who disappear from our lives and people we never forget.

There's swelling opera-singing one moment, then Amélie-esque accordion-playing the next. Not a moment goes by where you don't know exactly what emotion is being wheedled out of you.

I wonder if some people find this affective telegraphing helpful - something like the emotional equivalent of a laugh track. Judging by the roaring standing ovation, I would say yes. But my feelings tend to rebel when they know what's expected of them.

Near the end of Kiss and Cry, De Mey and Grosjean make their full bodies more involved in the primary narrative. The voiceover becomes less intrusive and, in flashes of stillness and uncertainty, I was able to breathe a little and enjoy refreshing subtlety. De Mey told me that Cold Blood goes further than Kiss and Cry in terms of theme and physicality. I hope this allows for more nuance, less control, so that the stylistic merits of nano-dance aren't overwhelmed by a heavy-handed story.

Kiss and Cry continues until Feb. 7; Cold Blood runs Feb. 10-14. Both are presented by Canadian Stage at the Bluma Appel Theatre in Toronto (

Associated Graphic

Michèle Anne de Mey presents nano-dance, a hand choreography, at Canstage.


Every Saturday, contributing design editor Anya Georgijevic highlights chic interiors and homeowners for Globe Style's Favourite Room feature. This week, she asks 10 of Canada's top designers and architects to call out the space that, for better or worse, inspires them most
Saturday, January 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page L6


When Toronto-based architect Meg Graham fi rst visited the Yale Center for British Art in 2000 with some colleagues, she was left speechless. "I'm not sure anyone spoke for the fi rst 20 minutes, we were so taken in by the space," she explains. While Louis Kahn's fi nal project appears rather boxy from the outside, its interior is fi lled with soft, natural light, bouncing from the two central courtyards and roof apertures, giving the spaces great depth and a sense of closeness. "The simultaneous intimacy and boundlessness of the building is something I strive for in every project we do. It can take your breath away, a reminder that we are all part of something much larger than ourselves and our every day."


While working on a commission tto design interior elendustrial ments for a Toronto residence, indesigners Jessica Nakanishi and Jonathan Sabine became enamoured with the home's smart spaces, a collaboration between the cli-ent and The Practice of Everyday Design. "We were inspired by how simple but uncompromising the space was. Every surface, detail, piece of furniture and fixture has been considered," explains Sabine. The design duo (who contributed a simple ladder rack to the space) and bath area, a standalone room separate from the toilet) was struck by the shower functions. "The typical harshness of washroom surface finishes is absent here, replaced by a subtle, irregularly textured tile and matte white fixtures."


Halifax-based architect Vincent Van Den Brink holds a love/hate relationship with a generic hospital room. "This room is my favourite because it reminds me of both the good and the bad in design. It was because of my time in a hospital that I always focus on design with the human emotion in mind," he explains. Van Den Brink cites the sameness of the room type as an example of non-customized design, which Breakhouse strives to avoid, designing everything from buttons to buildings. "Our office designs around a human experience. We want to create places where people belong - places that welcome and support human behaviour."


"I dream of this space still, 40 years on," says Vancouver-based architect Gair Williamson of the Le Corbusier-designed chapel that continues to draw 80,000 architecture lovers each year. While Williamson has never directly referenced this legendary building in his own work, the visceral experience of visiting it forever influences his perception of interior spaces and the power they can hold. "A polychromy of light pours through the south wall in the manner of the great Gothic cathedrals and directs your gaze to the left and the altar, while the bowed ceiling moves you to genuflection."


On his last visit to London and Nikelab's 1948 store, Torontobased designer Jeff Wortley, who specializes in retail spaces, discovered that a shop could double as a community gathering space. Designed by U.K. firm Hotel Creative, the store is built under the arch of a railway line and features a dramatic entrance with two lit up white lines leading into the enclosed courtyard. "It's really welcoming and despite being technically outdoors, it acts as a decompression zone, a place away from the chaos of the streets," he says. "That makes it ideal for meet-ups, community gatherings or even just a pause point for shoppers."


While working on the Chinatown Livestock store, Vancouver-based industrial designer Lukas Peet discovered the trials and tribulations of spatial design. It is because of lessons learned in that process that this shop remains Peet's favourite, one that will forever influence his future projects. "With a space, you have to consider the user's whole body as well as the possibility of many users within the space and how the movement throughout the space occurs, as well as lighting, sound, temperature, touch - possibly scent - and taste," he says. "It is these senses that need to be considered in a space, as opposed to a product."

ZOË MOWAT, ZOË MOWAT DESIGN, ATELIER BRANCUSI, PARIS, FRANCE Montreal-based furniture designer Zoë Mowat drew inspiration for her Stack Lamp from sculptor Constantin Brancusi's Endless Column, which she discovered while visiting his Paris atelier. The famed artist willed his studio and its contents to France, and it was later reconstructed, exactly as it was, by architect Renzo Piano as part of the Pompidou Centre. "The atelier is a very calm and immersive space that has a kind of soft creative hum I can't quite describe," says Mowat. "Surrounded by his work and tools, one is immediately drawn into his vision and method."

JOHANNA HURME, 5468796 ARCHITECTURE, NORDIC PAVILION, VENICE, ITALY While preparing to represent Canada at the 2012 Venice Biennale in Architecture, Winnipeg-based architects Johanna Hurme and Sasa Radulovic visited the Nordic Pavilion, designed by Sverre Fehn and built for the same exhibition in 1962. "The room is a beautiful demonstration of how the most simple architectural means can create a space that really moves people," says Hurme, "The way in which natural light falls through the depth of the concrete roof members elevates the space and creates a serene, almost weightless atmosphere - a shadeless, Nordic quality of light. The open space is interrupted by three large tree trunks, blurring the outdoors and indoors. "I think the human reaction to this room is universal and visceral, an achievement that most architects spend a lifetime trying to accomplish."

KATE ALLEN, RAD ARCHITECTURE, CHÂTEAU DE CHENONCEAU DINING ROOM, LOIRE VALLEY, FRANCE As a designer behind many of Calgary's top eateries, Kate Allen was struck by the humble beauty of the staff dining room in Château de Chenonceau, which is in stark contrast to the rest of the castle's luxurious interiors. "For me, the heart of the castle was found in the kitchen, where a large harvest table sits in front of the fi re and beneath the soft curves of the vaulted ceiling," explains Allen.

"This charming little space is unpretentious, authentic and fosters the act of gathering around food. It has offered inspiration as we explore the de-formalization of dining in our work."


Edmonton-based furniture designer Shane Pawluk found inspiration in the angular staircase of Livingspace Interiors. "I was immediately drawn to the minimalist aesthetic and intelligent use of geometry," says Pawluk of the Omer Arbel-designed interior. He and his design partner Jerad Mack love to explore angular forms, sometimes referencing Livingspace's sharp corners. Pawluk describes the Livingspace showroom as striking the right balance between stark and decorated. "We hope to evoke a similar feeling with our furniture collection," he says. "Designed, without being superfluous, and minimalist, yet warm and inviting."

Have an inspiring space of your own? Follow @globestyle on Instagram and Twitter and tag a photo of it using #FavouriteRoom.

Associated Graphic







Mayor Tory and the week that shook our transit future - again
Saturday, January 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page M1

W hen John Tory marked his first anniversary in office last month, he could legitimately boast that he had returned sanity to city hall after the mad years of Rob Ford. Unknown to most of the city, though, trouble was brewing for his young administration.

Mr. Tory ran for office on a promise to get the city moving. But serious political headaches and roadblocks were mounting.

And this week, when he embarked on the biggest flurry of action in his mayoralty, he was moving to stave off possible defeats on some of the biggest parts of his agenda.

Experts had concluded that SmartTrack, the 22-stop "surface subway" he campaigned on, would be prohibitively expensive. As critics have been warning for almost two years, a promised western spur of the line was not feasible without billions of dollars in tunnelling.

Some developers and downtown councillors were unhappy with a council decision to keep the eastern end of the Gardiner Expressway standing, blocking plans to redevelop part of waterfront. And councillors were threatening to reopen the bitter debate over a subway extension in Scarborough.

To sidestep these troubles, Mr. Tory executed a series of retreats, course changes and compromises designed to keep peace on council while preserving key elements of his top projects.

The mayor argues that his willingness to adjust shows he can bridge divides and listen to expert advice, rather than bulling ahead like his predecessor. "The civil war is over," he told a press conference, referring to the endless wrangling over transit for Scarborough. Later, in his office overlooking Nathan Phillips Square, he seemed relieved and satisfied at how the week's big pivot had gone.

But as even the mayor was ready to admit, many of the shifts were forced on him by looming political trouble and the cold reality of the facts. This week the chickens of his campaign came home to roost.

Consider SmartTrack. His critics said all along that running GO-type trains along Eglinton Avenue West was a cockeyed idea.

Unlike the rest of his proposal, which would run along existing GO rail lines, this part needed new track. And it seemed obvious that much of it would have to be tunnelled, a disruptive and hugely expensive process.

Mr. Tory pushed back hard, suggesting that his critics were just nervous Nellies. While he admitted that some tunnelling might be needed, he insisted sheer determination would get the project done. But once Mr. Tory was in office, council voted to approve analysis that made it clear his critics were right.

A preliminary report in November showed that substantial tunnelling would be needed to put SmartTrack along Eglinton. The final report, released this week, pegged the cost for that part of the plan at up to $7.7-billion.

The mayor had little choice but to back down. On Tuesday morning he voiced support for light rail along Eglinton. Making the reversal more palatable, he touted projections showing that SmartTrack could still attract a lot of riders, provided it runs frequently enough and the fare is kept low enough.

His turnabout on the spur line had been coming for some time.

The publicly available portion of the November report did not include costs and the mayor said then, and reiterated this week, that he had neither seen them nor been briefed.

However, around that time, observers started to notice a shift of tone. When asked about Eglinton late last year, the mayor's answers were vague enough to give him room to manoeuvre. He repeatedly said he would listen to expert advice.

The next challenge for the mayor was the Gardiner Expressway.

Wounds were still festering after the bitterly fought battle over the eastern portion of the road, when a narrow majority on council voted not to tear it down. City staff and consultants were tasked with improving the design for a rebuilt section of expressway.

This week three possibilities were unveiled, and staff telegraphed that they would recommend the most expensive. This would raise the long-term price past $1-billion, but the adaptation is a sort of compromise finding some support among those who want the highway gone.

The final, and perhaps biggest, problem the mayor had to tackle was the Scarborough subway extension. In 2013 council voted narrowly to scrap a planned light-rail line and instead build three new stops on the BloorDanforth subway line. While campaigning, Mr. Tory ruled out revisiting this decision. The deal was done, with all three levels of government on board, he kept saying, even once elected.

Mr. Tory said this week, though, that he had actually been trying since early in his term to find a way to mollify all sides by fiddling with the plan. He said he broached the idea of changing the plan with a key Scarborough MPP, who politely declined.

But the issue wouldn't die and some city councillors hoped to go back to light rail. Midtown councillor Josh Matlow, one of the leading voices for LRT, said support has been coalescing.

"The three-stop subway was not a sure thing, I can tell you that," he said this week.

For his part, Mr. Tory acknowledges that the pro-LRT side could have won the vote. He needed a way out. Fortunately for him, a solution would come from an influential figure around city hall: Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat.

After putting Scarborough's situation through some tough analysis, her team crafted plans for a major revamp of transit in the area.

Armed with her plan, Mr. Tory started talking to city councillors about a big shift. The proposal emerged this week and involves retaining a stretch of subway - the existence of which has become a sacred cow for some Scarborough politicians - but shortening it and plowing the savings into an extension of the Eglinton Crosstown light-rail plan. Although both SmartTrack and the Scarborough transit plans are almost certainly improved by the changes, it's also true that the shifts were probably required to keep them alive.

Those on council still unhappy with the Scarborough subway plan were gathering their forces.

And the staggering bill for building SmartTrack in the west end could have pushed the price far beyond what council would have accepted. The moves on all three issues seem to have bought time and, as Mr. Matlow put it, "peace in the valley." But Mr. Tory's troubles are not over yet.

SmartTrack has other flaws.

City staff presenting the ridership projections acknowledged they have no idea if it is possible to run trains as often as was assumed for the best scenarios, or how much it could cost. Ongoing negotiations with the regional transit agency Metrolinx will determine the number of stations and the fare passengers will have to pay, the other key determinant for ridership.

The Scarborough deal looks pretty solid, but you never know with Toronto transit, which has gone through endless permutations, delays and reversals.

Councillors are already talking about changing elements of the plan. Mr. Matlow, for one, wants to think about running the subway above ground, along the route of the present Scarborough RT line. Mr. Ford, meanwhile, is already fulminating against the new deal.

For Mayor Tory, the peace in the valley could be fleeting.

Follow us on Twitter: @marcusbgee, @moore_oliver

Three can't-miss contemporary-art shows
Bob Rennie's exhibit breaks ground, Brian Jungen feels sole-ful with new Air Jordan sculptures, and DOUG gets catastrophic
Saturday, January 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page R3

VANCOUVER -- In Vancouver this January, some important moments in contemporary art: A Canadian artist's Turner Prize-nominated work has its North American premiere; collector/real estate guru Bob Rennie mounts his most complex show yet at his own gallery; and Brian Jungen returns to his seminal source material - sneakers. Western arts correspondent Marsha Lederman walks us through three essential events.

Winter 2015/2016: Collected Works at the Rennie Collection

Since Vancouver real estate marketer Rennie opened his own gallery in 2009 to show works from his astonishing contemporary-art collection, most of the exhibitions have featured a single artist. The show opening this weekend breaks new ground - the museum's first survey and the first Rennie himself has curated. Nearly 60 works by more than 40 artists offer commentary on these chaotic times - racism, gun violence, wealth inequality.

The exhibition also invokes a feeling of chaos as you move through, greeted first by John Baldessari's large-scale installation Camel (Albino) Contemplating Needle (Large). The 2013 work references a biblical passage about it being easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven - conjuring one-per-centers (and a chuckle, when you consider Rennie's own wealth).

Upstairs, the enormous Animal Farm '92 (after George Orwell) by Tim Rollins and K.O.S. features pages of George Orwell's classic marked up with drawings of animals affixed with heads of political leaders of the day - Brian Mulroney fronts a dog (with devilish ears); Nelson Mandela a raven. Installed nearby is Brian Jungen's Nike Air Jordan raven mask and Ai Weiwei's Coloured Vases - seven Han Dynasty vases dipped in industrial paint, offering a commentary on China's complexities.

Hank Willis Thomas's 2004 work Priceless, which Rennie hung in his office after the fallout from the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., feels painfully contemporary: "3-piece suit: $250. New socks $2.

9mm Pistol: $80 ... Picking the perfect casket for your son: priceless." Thomas J. Price's 34-inch bronze is a black man with a cellphone in one hand while the contents of his other hand are a mystery inside his hoodie pocket.

Rennie bought the work last month for this show.

Other grim works include Sophie Calle's photographic gravestones - Mother, Father, No. 37 and Baby - installed on the floor rather than the wall - and General Idea's Black AIDS (prototype).

And on the building's top floor, a single work - Rennie's first art purchase: Norman Rockwell's gushingly optimistic On Top of the World.

"We were promised that this was life - a boy and girl sitting on top of the world," says Rennie, standing next to a Kerry James Marshall work referencing lynching in America. "We were all led to believe that it was going to be Norman Rockwell. And this is what we got."

Winter 2015/2016: Collected Works is at the Rennie Collection until April 23 (

Brian Jungen at Catriona Jeffries Gallery

It's been more than 10 years since Jungen ended the series that made him a darling of the art world and beyond. Prototypes for New Understanding (19982005) saw the B.C. artist disassemble Nike Air Jordan running shoes and reconfigure them to resemble Northwest Coast aboriginal masks. Red, white and black, the sneakers were even the right colours for Jungen's smart, whimsical investigation of identity and appropriation, influenced by his own First Nations heritage.

The series was always meant to end at 23 - Michael Jordan's number - although Jungen did produce two additional masks: one for philanthropist Michael Audain and the other for Jordan himself, at the athlete's request.

"I couldn't say no, right?" Jungen says.

Now, in a major development, Jungen is returning to the source material and making new work with it. Five of his new Air Jordan sculptures are installed at Catriona Jeffries Gallery for an exhibition that opened Thursday.

(A sixth - actually the first work in the new series - is installed at the Rennie show; an all-black mask-like sculpture reminiscent of the KKK or Abu Ghraib that serves as a sort of marker separating Prototypes and the new works.)

The new sculptures are entirely different - more open and abstracted. Gone are direct references to the First Nations masks - although suggestions can still be found. Unlike the first series, these new sculptures include laces and soles. In one piece, 13 are stitched together, creating the illusion from certain angles of one giant sole.

The new works have been influenced by Jungen's new circumstances. He has left Vancouver and bought a ranch outside Vernon, B.C., where he has a large studio and powerful machinery - a saddle sewing machine, a band saw - allowing him to work with the shoes in a new way, using the same kind of tools that were used to manufacture them.

Brian Jungen is at Catriona Jeffries Gallery until Feb. 27 (

DOUG at the CAG

"I knew this guy once named Doug. Man, did he have some luck." So begins Janice Kerbel's chronicle of the misadventures of her accident-prone protagonist. DOUG began as an online project and ultimately became a performance.

"I wanted to try and find a way ... to describe an event using sound," says Kerbel, who is from Toronto, is now based in Britain, and whose previous works include instructions for robbing a bank (Bank Job), a radio-play love story between plants (Nick Silver Can't Sleep) and a play for stage lights (Kill the Workers!). "I wondered if it was possible to write an accident, to compose an accident."

It was more than possible. The world premiere of DOUG in Glasgow in 2014 was said to have been a knockout.

Six vocalists across the vocal range (bass to soprano) perform a song cycle recounting nine catastrophic events, such as falling down a flight of stairs, being struck by lightning, drowning and choking.

The work, composed in collaboration with Laurie Bamon and Philip Venables (with their help, Kerbel figured out a method by which she could write music), was nominated for Britain's prestigious Turner Prize last year. It's having its North American premiere at Vancouver's Contemporary Art Gallery on Jan. 29, performed by vocal ensemble musica intima - part of a week of performance art programmed by the CAG. Five other Canadian artists will also bring innovative, experimental performances to the gallery (and, in Cindy Mochizuki's case, to a boat).

"An important thing for us was really to give them that space," CAG curator Shaun Dacey says.

"A lot of times, performances within an institution can be thought of as sort of secondary to a major exhibition. We really wanted to empty out the gallery and offer carte blanche to these artists."

Six performances by Canadian artists are at the CAG from Jan. 26 to 31 (

Associated Graphic

B.C. artist Brian Jungen has five new Air Jordan sculptures at Catriona Jeffries Gallery.


John Baldessari's Camel (Albino) Contemplating Needle (Large), on display at the Rennie Collection, conjures one-per-centers.

In Janice Kerbel's DOUG, showing at the CAJ, six vocalists perform a song cycle recounting nine accidents.


The next generation?
Chris Pine is 'continually stunned' he's asked to play action heroes - but the new Captain Kirk knows that it could all easily fall apart
Special to The Globe and Mail
Friday, January 29, 2016 – Print Edition, Page R2

I hope someone makes a liveaction Barbie movie, so Chris Pine can play Ken. Sculpted of forehead, even of hairline, possessed of magnificent eyebrows and a fetching drop from shoulders to waist, the 35-year-old actor is such a doll that he practically has a permanent white highlight in his eyeballs to make his baby blues sparkle.

In his two outings as Captain James T. Kirk - 2009's Star Trek and 2013's Star Trek Into Darkness - he finds exactly the right placement of tongue in cheek to both embody the hero and nod to his campy quality. (His third outing as Kirk, Star Trek Beyond, is due July 22, timed to the 50th anniversary of the franchise.) As a Coast Guard boatswain in his new highseas drama The Finest Hours - set in 1952 and based on the true story of one of the greatest marine rescues in history - Pine is an archetypal square-jawed hero: strong, taciturn, brave and true.

But it's his performance of the song Agony as Cinderella's Prince in 2014's Into the Woods that best showcases Pine's Ken-ness. Leaping on rocks, rending his garments, turning his eyes to heaven and being competitively lovelorn with another prince, Pine steals the film in 2.5 minutes. "Am I not sensitive, clever, well-mannered, considerate, passionate, charming, as kind as I'm handsome?" he croons. He even rolls his Rs.

Pine could be singing about himself, of course. But after spending 20 minutes on the phone with him recently, I'd change his theme song title to Modesty. He claims to be "continually stunned" that he's asked to play heroes. He admits that he loves "the pageantry and the weird, heightened state that Hollywood can bring you to," yet makes sure to add, "but I'm careful not to expect anything."

He admits that his 2014 film Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, in which he attempted to reboot the character previously played by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck, did not work out. He freely mentions a failed audition for Avatar("I was horrible"). And asked for a crazed-fan story, he cites his appearance on English host Graham Norton's talk show, in which he and Benedict Cumberbatch went into the audience to mingle with their fans (Pine's are called Pine Nuts). "I spent all this time with one woman who, it turned out, wasn't there for me at all. She was there for Benedict."

He chuckles. "That was humiliating."

So modest is Pine, he's willing to go where most leading men will not (or where their agents won't let them): He'll play second banana to a female superhero (Gal Gadot) in Wonder Woman, due in June, 2017.

The son of two working actors, Pine was raised on modesty. His father, Robert Pine, is best known for playing a police sergeant on the late-1970s TV show CHiPs; his mother, Gwynne Gilford, appeared in such films as Beware! The Blob and Satan's School for Girls. "I grew up in a situation where nothing was secure," Pine says. "There were good and bad years, tidal waves of success and fallow times. I was fortunate to go to really good schools and always have food on the table. But I know how fickle my business is."

He describes himself as an awkward, gangly kid with "pretty miserable acne." He spent a lot of time with his mom, listening to operas and musicals on the record player underneath their stairs, entertaining her with skits and songs. At 8, he developed a fascination with the 1940s, and dressed up in a fedora; later it was fighter pilots.

"I always felt on the outside looking in," Pine says. "It's ridiculous to me that people view me as this blond, blue-eyed guy. It's like I'm watching it happen to myself. So I have to laugh at it."

The Finest Hours recreates the events of Feb. 18, 1952, when a raging storm off the Massachusetts coast split apart two different oil tankers on the same night.

Thanks to bold piloting by Coast Guard boatswain Bernard Webber (Pine), most of the crew of one tanker came home alive. The film is a somewhat uneasy combination of a CGI-heavy disaster pic with an RKO-era love story. But Pine is clearly channelling "the Jimmy Stewarts, the Gary Coopers, the Burt Lancasters of the world" that he grew up loving.

"I feel at home in that time period," he says. "There's something deeply resonant about it for me."

Some critics are finding Pine's performance almost too modest, perhaps because his natural charisma is dampened down - literal..

ly. He shot most scenes surrounded by blue screens in a water tank, which was built in a repurposed shipyard warehouse (the size of three football fields) in Quincy, Mass. The rest was shot off the coast of Chatham, Mass., "in the actual waters where it all took place," Pine says. The cast was sprayed with giant fire hoses and blown around by wind machines. Pine figures he spent "about 90 per cent of the movie soaking wet."

The last two survivors of that night who are still alive - the engineman on Webber's crew, Andy Fitzgerald, and one who was too ill to go out, Mel Gouthro - came to visit the set on Veteran's Day, and their bearing contributed to the film's modest tone.

"These are humble men, from humble backgrounds," Pine says.

"They found their honour and nobility, and a great amount of pride, in clocking in, doing their job well and then clocking out and going about their lives."

The "ordinariness" of the men, Pine continues, is what gives their story its impact: "I hope people relate to them - real, human guys next door, who could be your history teacher, or your EMT, every.

day Joes who feel fear, as all of us do, but who decide to be selfless, and succeed."

Ever careful, Pine makes it clear that he's not dissing those who aren't modest. "There's a lot to be said for someone like Kanye West, who's been, in some ways, a beautiful narcissist," Pine says. "There are many things to be learned from someone who loves what he does so much, and is so proud of it. I'm not a judger. There are many different perspectives on how to go about walking in this world."

His heart, however, lies with the Bernard Webbers. "Our culture is driven by Twitter feeds and Facebook accounts and Instagram likes," Pine says. "It's all about seeing and being seen, and substantiating your existence by continually turning your camera phone on yourself to make sure that you're actually there, and worthy. There's a spirit in Webber and the guys from his generation that is not about that stuff at all.

Their pleasure is in being there for the other human being."

Pine's pleasure is in bringing them to life.

Associated Graphic

Chris Pine, star of the new action film The Finest Hours, grew up as the son of two working actors. 'I know how fickle my business is.'


La Loche studied, rejected crime-prevention model
Monday, February 1, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A4

In the months before a gunman took four lives in La Loche, town leaders debated adopting a made-in-Saskatchewan crimeprevention model designed to identify and pre-empt residents on the verge of committing crimes.

The model, piloted in Prince Albert five years ago, has since gained an international following, imitated across the continent for an approach to community safety that borrows equally from public-health modelling, macroeconomics and Moneyball.

Enthusiasm for the new way of criminal justice does not extend to La Loche, however.

"We talked about it a few months ago," said Leonard Montgrand, president of the La Loche Friendship Centre, which houses a range of social services that would be key to establishing the Prince Albert model in La Loche.

"We were trying to see if this model would work for us. It seems to work well in the cities, but we're not so sure it will work well here."

It is too early to say whether any community safety program could have pre-empted the rampage in La Loche on Jan. 22, which left seven others wounded. A 17-year-old boy, who can't be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, has been charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder.

"We don't know enough about what happened there to say one or two things could have prevented this," said Dale McFee, the province's deputy minister of corrections and policing. "We need to debrief. It's a tragic situation. So many people's lives have been touched. We have to figure out what could have been done."

Mr. McFee, a plainspoken former junior hockey star and police chief, is the force behind Saskatchewan's evolving criminal-justice model, an approach he's confident can reduce calls to police by 30 to 40 per cent. The province's Building Partnerships to Reduce Crime Strategy represents a philosophical shift in how government views crime - from a cop-and-corrections issue to a social-wellness issue, where teachers, nurses, social workers and addictions counsellors play an equal role to police and jail guards.

The frontline of the strategy is called a Hub, an alliance of local service providers - police, educators, social services workers, doctors and others - who meet twice-weekly to discuss emerging community concerns. They act as both an early warning system and rapid-intervention team for at-risk residents.

Around a table, Hub members name residents at risk of future criminality. Their submissions are based upon a complex matrix of risk factors that are generally good predictors of future delinquency, including homelessness, addictions, truancy, domestic violence, mental health issues and others.

The Hub then shifts to preemption mode. A chronically absent student with bad parenting issues could be met with a door-knock from school and social services workers along with a referral to a parent aide, for example. Or a bullied teen could get referred to mediated counselling alongside his bullies.

The goal is to tackle the problem within 24 to 48 hours, ensuring that high-risk residents get help before they end up in a jail or an emergency room or a morgue.

In Prince Albert, the change came out of crisis. "I was the chief who went from 2,900 arrests to almost 8,000 over eight years," Mr. McFee said in an interview with The Globe and Mail late last year. "We got tough.

It wasn't working."

Mr. McFee worked with Norm Taylor, a criminal-justice consultant who advises both the Saskatchewan and Ontario govenrments. Mr. Taylor had been researching the future of policing for the Saskatchewan government and concluded that the province didn't have a policing problem, but instead "a marginalized people problem," he said.

The two introduced a Hub in Prince Albert just three months after observing a similar setup in Scotland that's been deployed to dramatic effect. From 2010 to 2013, Prince Albert's crime rate fell by 21 per cent, before jumping back up by about 11 per cent in 2014.

"Over time, I'm quite confident we can pull 30 to 40 per cent of police calls out of the system," Mr. McFee said. "And instead, get these people the help they need so that, hopefully, they never return to the system."

The Moneyball portion - or predictive analytics - of the strategy comes into play when the Hubs pass their intervention data to a secondary team, called a COR, or Centre of Responsibility. The COR analyzes the data for trends and gaps in service. In Prince Albert, for example, the COR found that responding to alcohol abuse among high schoolers was difficult because of an absence of stats on the problem, and teamed with a group of academics to rectify the problem.

"We've Moneyballed what drives the system," said Mr. McFee, who has hired a team of economists, mathematicians and other number-crunchers since taking the deputy minister job in 2012. "Justice for the large part is predictable. If it's predictable, then it should be preventable."

Many jurisdictions are following Saskatchewan's lead, but none more enthusiastically than Ontario, which has established Hubs in 30 communities.

Part of the attraction to the Saskatchewan model is savings.

Police costs and downstream justice costs are ballooning. If highpaid officers can divert some of their non-emergency workload away from the justice system altogether, fewer police will be needed and costs will come down. Or so the theory goes.

"If you reduce demands on the system, you start bending the cost curve," said Yasir Naqvi, Ontario's Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services.

"Part of this is about reducing demand for police so we can free up police resources for solving crime, investigating crimes and preventing crimes from happening."

Complications appear in applying the model to small towns such as La Loche, a community of about 3,000 people with one of the highest crime-severity indexes in the country. Overworked police and other social-services workers often can't find time to meet twice a week. What's more, the kind of specialized expertise often needed around a Hub table - from psychiatrists, say, or gangexit experts - is unavailable.

A third plank of the Saskatchewan model could help. Last July, the government established a non-profit research group that will focus on addressing broad provincial crime trends. One of their early projects is a video conferencing system designed to help small-town Hubs get immediate access to outside expertise.

"It's similar to Telehealth," Mr. Taylor said. "In some remote communities, the local cop, nurse and teacher could now get instant involvement from outside experts."

Only five years old, the Saskatchewan model is still evolving. Progress shouldn't be measured by a single tragedy.

"Our model is not perfect, but it's getting better and better all the time through constant tweaking," Mr. McFee said before the La Loche shooting. "What we have to protect against is the odd bad thing dictating bad policing or bad law. We're going to have anomalies. We always will."

Associated Graphic

An RCMP vehicle sits near a house in La Loche, Sask., where two brothers were killed in a Jan. 22 shooting rampage.


When speed serves a purpose
Raonic's cannon, which can reach more than 230 kilometres an hour, puts him in the pantheon of hard hitters
Friday, January 29, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S3

A tennis ball booms off the racquet of Milos Raonic at more than 230 kilometres an hour, one of the best serves in tennis history - and far faster than a big-league fastball or a hockey slap shot.

The man on the other side of the court can take some solace that the tennis ball - much more so than a baseball or hockey puck - will slow significantly, losing roughly half its velocity, as it travels over the net and bounces off the court before it is to be returned.

"It's not fun. Not fun at all," said Grant Connell, the Canadian who played in the 1990s and was once No. 1-ranked in doubles. The biggest serve of his era was Goran Ivanisevic, who hit more than 10,000 aces - the second-most in history.

"It's really a bit of a guessing game," Connell said. "The guys nowadays are so good, I can't even imagine returning serves today. With some people, it can come up on you so ridiculously fast. You get used to it, and you adapt to it. But a regular player can't really relate to it; it's not possible."

Raonic's serve has been crafted since he grew up in the Toronto suburbs, spending a third or more of practice on his serve.

Today, at 6 foot 5, his serve is the bedrock of his game and has helped him reach the Australian Open semi-final, a Canadian men's first.

Raonic does not always post the fastest serve - at the Australian Open this year, Raonic's 234 km/h is second to the 235 banged out by Sam Groth of Australia - but it is notably faster than others. The third-fastest serve in Australia has been 226 km/h, from American John Isner. The eight km/h gap between Raonic in second and Isner in third is the same as between Isner and the 14th-fastest serve, Andy Murray, Raonic's semi-final opponent, at 218 km/h.

Raonic does not necessarily gun for aces. He is second with 84 in five matches. Isner, who lost in the fourth round, had 114.

Raonic, however, is tied for first in first-service points won, with 83 per cent.

His Australia performance mirrors his game in recent years.

In 2014 and 2015, Raonic was top five in aces and in both years second in first-serve points won, at more than 80 per cent, both times behind No. 1 Ivo Karlovic and No. 3 Roger Federer.

Karlovic, 36, is 6 foot 11 and has the most aces in history, 10,457, but has never cracked tennis's top 10. Federer is No. 3 all-time in aces, but hits them at about a third of the rate of Karlovic.

Raonic seeks "unpredictability" on his serve. He also bounces the ball an even number of times before serving. Six if he feels good. Eight or 10 if he feels stress.

"It's all about being able to do different types of serves from the same start, from the same motion," Raonic said at a sponsor event in 2014. "That way I can keep [the returner] out of rhythm and off balance as much as possible."

In tennis, there are upward of 0.7 seconds to handle a serve that starts at 190 km/h - a fairly typical speed - across the 78foot tennis court. On arrival, it is down to about 100 km/h. When Raonic launches one of his 230plus serves, it's going 160 km before it bounces, 135 after the bounce and about 115 at the baseline.

Compared with baseball or hockey, there is more time to return a tennis ball than there is to hit a fastball or stop a hockey puck.

On the ice, a goalie can have as little as 0.2 seconds to deal with a slap shot from the slot.

It's not a reaction. It's reflex.

Like in tennis or a baseball hitter, it's ability and years of practice. The object can move so fast that for a portion of its journey the human eye doesn't really see it.

"When the puck is coming at you from a guy like Al Macinnis or Brett Hull or Al Iafrate, the key is you have to see the puck leave the stick," retired goaltender Kelly Hrudey said.

Hockey has variables that tennis and baseball do not: tipped pucks, and the traffic of bodies.

And then there are the greats, who didn't have the biggest slap shots. Hrudey and Wayne Gretzky were teammates for eight seasons. Gretzky was a magician in the way the puck left his stick.

"I could never figure out his release," Hrudey said. "It fooled your eyes."

In baseball, a hitter has less than half a second - roughly 0.4 seconds - between the ball leaving the pitcher's hand and arriving at the plate.

"Piece of cake," laughed Matt Stairs, who played 19 seasons in the majors, with two seasons of 100-plus runs batted in.

"A fastball is an easy pitch to swing at, but not an easy one to hit. You rely more on using your hands than your body. If you use your hands, you'd be surprised how quickly you can get to a ball, where if you have a lot of body movement, by the time you swing, the ball is by you."

Stairs has seen his share. And hit his share. He has the most pinch-hit homers in history, 23.

He faced heat from the start.

The first big-league pitcher he faced, in 1992, was Rob Dibble, the flame-throwing closer for the Cincinnati Reds.

"He had a violent windup and threw the ball well," Stairs said.

"It was in the mitt before you could even take a swing."


Milos Raonic's hardest serve heading into the semi-final at the 2016 Australian Open was 234 kilometres an hour.

Lewis Hamilton, the Formula One driver, reached speeds exceeding 360 km/h in a Mercedes in a practice run in Mexico City in 2015.

Giancarlo Stanton, a Miami Marlins outfielder, belted a ball that left his bat at 193.6 km/h in 2015.

Shea Weber, the Nashville Predators defenceman, fired a 174.6 km/h slap shot at the 2015 NHL all-star game skills competition.

Aroldis Chapman, the New York Yankees relief pitcher, clocked a fastball at 167.2 km/h in 2015.

Shoaib Akhtar, a Pakistani cricketer, bowled a 161 km/h delivery in a game against New Zealand in 2002.

American Pharoah, the thoroughbred that won the 2015 U.S. Triple Crown, ran as fast as 40.2 miles an hour (64.6 km/h) at the 11/4-mile Kentucky Derby.

Donovan Bailey, the former Canadian sprinter, reached 43.6 km/h when he won the 1996 Olympic gold medal in the 100 metres.

Source:,, Australian Open, ESPN, F1, Trackus

Associated Graphic

Canada's Milos Raonic has the second-fastest serve at the Australian Open this year with 234 km/h. Australia's Sam Groth hits 235 km/h.


The big and the small of Toronto's gaming industry
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, January 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page M7

Two of Toronto's most prominent video-game studios are celebrating anniversary milestones. Though the studios are utterly different in scale of projects and staff, they both reflect the fact that this city makes a lot of video games. And crucially, it's a renaissance that's evolved over the past decade despite a broader dearth of commercial star power on the scene.

"If you grew up in Toronto and you want to make video games," says independent game maker Damian Sommer, who created the turn-based party game The Yawhg, "you have two options: Move somewhere that has big studios, Montreal, Vancouver, St. Catharines. Or two: Just go on your own, lone-wolf it." It's the absence of the big companies that's turning Toronto into a hub for lone wolves.

A community of independent developers, who generally don't work under major commercial publishers or pursuit more artistic exploits, have made Toronto well-known for making more video games than you'd believe.

While not all of the games are huge blockbusters, they are coming out at a dizzying rate.

The Yawhg, made by a team of four, wasn't a massive hit, but even its humble success has financially sustained Mr. Sommer since he quit his banking job. Christine Love, who made Analogue: A Hate Story, Daniel Steger, who made Mount Your Friends, and Alexander Martin, who makes a lot of games, one being Starseed Pilgrim, have had similar-scaled successes, netting them captive, paying audiences eager to see what they do next.

Looking over the fray from the top of the industry in Toronto is Ubisoft. Five years ago, Ubisoft, one of the largest game companies in the world, opened a branch in the city, taking over a red brick building on Wallace Avenue, just off Lansdowne Avenue, originally built by General Electric in 1922 before becoming a sock factory.

They recently acquired another wing to accommodate the growing staff. They are in the business of non-stop blockbusters.

With much fanfare, Ubisoft's Toronto studio opened in 2010 under an arrangement with the province. With $263-million from Dalton McGuinty's Liberal government, the company promised to have a staff 800 strong by 2020. By the end of 2015, they hired 400 people - the first job in the game industry for about 100 of them, managing director Alex Parizeau said.

"Managing growth and shipping big games, it's complex," he said.

Ubisoft's anniversary party was catered with nice, juicy shrimp appetizers and a custom beer, the label claiming staff had drunk their way through 8,100 litres in its social history. Davenport MPP Cristina Martins attended the party. In a speech, she praised Ubisoft franchises such as Far Cry - in an upcoming spin-off, which the Toronto studio will work on, players will be taken back to the Stone Age - and Just Dance, adding that she's happy the company has brought so many jobs to the area, spurring local development. Later, she also pointed out that the Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art is about to relocate around the corner on Sterling Road.

The Canadian centre of commercial game development remains, however, in Montreal, where Ubisoft has been since 1997 and employs more than 2,000 people. In its efforts to fish out some of that strength, the Ontario government also helped with a 2012 expansion of the Oakville office of Grand Theft Auto creators Rockstar, and multiple investments into the now-defunct Silicon Knights of St. Catharines. But big-time video-game developers have shied away from the Greater Toronto Area. Eidos, BioWare and Warner Bros. offices, which can handle the weight of hundreds of young programmers and assure them experience and pay, remain planted in Montreal.

Ten years ago, Nathan Vella co-founded Capybara in Toronto, a studio that began with a flip-phone tie-in to Pixar's Cars.

Operating out of a loft overlooking Spadina Avenue, the 23-person team has become a model of success for independent studios - abroad and at home - and an idol for artistically ambitious games.

"In the five years that Ubisoft has been here and growing, helping this city keep some of its talent that the smaller studios couldn't keep, it is interesting that [big studios] haven't followed their example," Mr. Vella said. (For their recent anniversary, the studio hosted about 100 friends at the Drake Hotel with food, drinks and games.)

Capybara started out working on contract for other publishers, including Ubisoft. That was until 2011, when they released the surprise hit Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery, a strange, intimate adventure for tablet devices inspired by Carl Jung's The Red Book and Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian.

When it came out - shortly after Ubisoft's arrival in the city - independent games weren't considered a massive part of the industry. Mr. Vella knew the product was a gamble and initially prayed just to break even.

(It was partly funded by the Ontario Media Development Corporation's Interactive Digital Media Fund.)

The game sold more than one million copies. Along with the independent blockbuster Minecraft - its Swedish creator, Markus Persson, now owns the second-most expensive mansion in Beverly Hills - these smallstudio productions started to crystallize a vision of the future.

This year, a game about soccer with cars called Rocket League came out of nowhere to become a hot-ticket item, and a game from 2014 about a haunted pizzeria, Five Nights at Freddy's, still has a devoted following. No one really knows what players want until the developers make it.

Mr. Vella is greatly appreciative of the reputation that Sworcery has earned them to pursue new projects. Capybara is currently developing Below, a muted, aesthetically driven adventure. It has been in development for years; independence means you can be flexible with release dates. Their fans have become vocally impatient, though, and Mr. Vella said he'd much rather that than hear crickets.

The community itself is an indispensable part of game-making in the city. The Hand Eye Society, now a non-profit organization, was established in 2009 to mingle these makers together, once holding regular social events. Having successful members such as Mr. Vella - who, in 2010, co-founded the Indie Fund, an international grant for about two independent games per year - helped attract aspiring creators. It continues to put on gaming events throughout the year such as Wordplay, a one-day event about interactive storytelling at the Toronto Reference Library.

"Toronto is relatively expensive for a corporate entity," said Henry Faber, who runs a co-op space called Bento Miso, which has become a hub for game developers.

It also hosts Dames Making Games, a non-profit supporting women who are interested in making games.

"If you're not here to take advantage of the inherit sharable culture that Toronto has going for it, then you're looking for an insulated headquarters," Mr. Faber said.

"There are cheaper places to do that."

Associated Graphic

Nathan Vella co-founded Capybara Games, which made the 2011 hit game Superbrothers.


A screencap from Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery.


An instant classic of TV storytelling
Monday, February 1, 2016 – Print Edition, Page L3

'Who the hell signs a suicide note with a happy face?" That question is asked by lawyer Robert Shapiro and the answer is this: His client, O.J. Simpson.

In the vast and lurid annals of American crime, the trial of O.J. Simpson has significant standing.

The brutal murder of two people - one of whom, Nicole Simpson, was almost decapitated - and the accused a very famous man, a national hero. What unfolded is a narrative we think we know. But 20 years later, the details blur. We know the verdict, but do we understand it and all that happened in the layers of legal machinations, twists and accusations?

The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (starts Tuesday, City, FX Canada, 10 p.m.) takes us back inside the crime, the trial and all the reverberations. In the annals of great television, the 10part drama emerges instantly as a classic, a showpiece of tour-deforce TV storytelling. It's that good, that rich and compelling.

"He didn't ask how she died"

The broader cultural circumstance, which resonates throughout, is deftly established in the opening minutes. We see footage of the beating of Rodney King by LAPD officers and the riots that exploded after the verdict in that case. We meet O.J. (Cuba Gooding Jr., who is excellent) leaving his home, getting into a limo to go to the airport and chatting idly with the awestruck driver. The driver says he hasn't driven many celebrities. "I remember the first celebrity I met, " O.J. replies casually.

"That's what I wanted to be when I grew up."

Then the slow enactment of the crucial discovery. A neighbour walking a dog sees bloody footprints and discovers two dead bodies. The first cops arrive. One notes, "There's no media here."

The other replies resignedly, "There's been a double murder in Brentwood. They'll be here soon."

All of the key pieces of evidence come into play - the glove is found, bloody fingerprints are noticed. A cop reaches O.J. at a hotel in Chicago and tells him the news of his wife's death. O.J. seems groggy. The cop, after putting down the phone, tells a colleague, "He didn't ask how she died."

"He's got the cops chasing him. He's black now"

Enter Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson, who is superb in a deeply challenging role), the prosecutor.

She's heard, vaguely, of O.J. She looks at the case. Clear-eyed, unaffected by his fame, she sees O.J. as the number-one suspect.

You know from the start that her journey through this case will be life-changing, a brutal education in celebrity politics and the circus of constant media attention. And race. Deftly interwoven into the early part of the narrative is the subtext the LAPD and the prosecutor don't understand or acknowledge that fact.

But watching the beginnings of the O.J. case unfold is Johnnie Cochran (Courtney B. Vance, magnificent here), a charismatic lawyer already on a roll, mustering all manner of indignation about racism in the LAPD and absolutely magnetic when he starts talking race and revenge against the police. He's cocky beyond belief - another foreshadowing of the trial's bizarre twists - while his black friend inside the prosecutor's office, Christopher Darden, is wary of the case he knows will be a mess of racial attitudes and posturing.

While the outlandish chase of O.J. in the white Bronco is playing out, Darden tells his neighbours that O.J. isn't really a black hero.

He's a guy who left the 'hood to live a life with white celebrities.

And a neighbour scoffs, "He's got the cops chasing him. He's black now."

"Can you spell that name, 'Kardashian'?"

From the get-go, O.J.'s close friend, Robert Kardashian (David Schwimmer, in the post-Friends role of a lifetime) is by his side. A lawyer who has stopped practising law, he's very rich but not famous, and devoted to O.J. Exactly why isn't clear. But O.J.'s a star and Kardashian's entire circle is made up of very wealthy, famous people.

In one genius-level scene of black humour, Kardashian speaks at his first press conference.

Reporters ask him to spell his name. The scene cuts to his young daughters watching TV at home and, in unison, chanting out the spelling of their family name. Kardashian is dragged into helping O.J. not just by friendship, but by lawyer Robert Shapiro (John Travolta) who has answered a plea for help from O.J.

Shapiro is the ultimate L.A. and Hollywood insider. "You know that I'm a fixer of things," he tells a cop.

In some reviews, Travolta has been criticized for his mannered portrayal of Shapiro - all slowdrawl grandiose speaking voice and hand gestures. But it works.

Anyone who has spent time inside L.A.'s powerful elite recognizes the showy pomposity that is attached to real influence.

"O.J. is news, he's entertainment and he's sport!"

The drama is essentially the work of producer Ryan Murphy. In his Glee, American Horror Story and Scream Queens, Murphy has always created and written in broad strokes. Sometimes the tone is ideal, as it was in Glee.

Sometimes, as in various American Horror Story seasons, the tone and rhythm are fumbled and gross excess is the result.

Here, being guided by Jeffrey Toobin's book The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson (and much of the writing done by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski while Murphy directs), the tone is perfect. Murphy's point, throughout, is that everything about the O.J. trial was rooted in the day-today doings and stratagems of L.A.

and the entertainment industry - an industry itself selling a false view of the world, events and narratives that mechanically conclude as uplifting.

It was inevitable, he seems to suggest, that the legal system as it applied to O.J.'s alleged crime, would begin to morph into something false, unbelievable but true to the mechanics of Hollywood storytelling. The entire trial was showbiz at its very worst.

Murphy, by intuition or intent, seems to view the O.J. trial as a situationist act - an event that challenged the spectacle and pushed it to absurdity, thus exposing what the art-theory situationists call "the effective dictatorship of illusion."

Illusions are shattered or affirmed over and over. While the white Bronco chase proceeds, a TV executive storms into master control and orders that the NBA finals be dumped off the air and replaced by non-stop O.J. coverage. He barks, "O.J. is news, he's entertainment and he's sport!"

Associated Graphic

Strong performances by John Travolta, David Schwimmer and Cuba Gooding Jr. make The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story a tour de force. The 10-part drama takes viewers back inside the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, and the subsequent trial.

Motherhood issues giving birth to new thinking in legislatures
Friday, January 29, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A1

Stephanie McLean was elected to the Alberta legislature on May 5 as the NDP MLA for Calgary-Varsity; she's also pretty sure her son was conceived that same day.

And as she is about to give birth - Feb. 7 is the due date - the 28-year-old politician is also about to make history as the first MLA in Alberta to have a baby while in office.

As the rules stand now, Ms. McLean could be penalized for having a child - her pay could be docked if she misses more than 10 sitting days. But her pregnancy is forcing changes to those outdated rules in a legislature that has never had to deal with a young woman politician and her newborn baby.

"I found out I was pregnant and started Google searching ... and found out very quickly there was nothing to rely upon," says Ms. McLean, who is also a lawyer.

There is no maternity leave for MLAs; they do not qualify for employment insurance. This is also the case federally for members of Parliament.

Alberta is not unique in rethinking how its elected chamber should work. In Ottawa, Justin Trudeau's government is looking at ways of bringing the working conditions and rules in the House of Commons - which were designed for men and by men - into the 21st century.

Prime Minister Trudeau has asked Government House Leader Dominic LeBlanc to work with the Opposition to make Parliament Hill more gender-sensitive, and so he is now looking at abolishing Friday sittings, scrapping scheduled votes that usually occur after 6 p.m. (perhaps voting in the afternoon after Question Period), and starting the work day in the Commons an hour earlier, at 9 a.m.

These changes would allow MPs with families, some of whom live in Ottawa, to get home for dinner. Abolishing the half-day Friday sittings would allow MPs to get back to their ridings, work with constituents and be at home with their families for the weekend, he said.

"As a general rule, we're the only legislature in the country that regularly sits five days a week, and we're the legislature to which the people have to travel the farthest," Mr. LeBlanc noted.

He hopes to have changes by spring. In last October's election, 88 women were elected to the House of Commons, representing 26 per cent of the members in the chamber and a tiny increase from the 2011 result.

"There are younger and younger members of Parliament on all sides, and we certainly want to encourage more women to run," Mr. LeBlanc said, noting that these are among the "systemic barriers" that discourage people from running.

Lisa Raitt supports getting rid of Friday sittings. For nearly seven years, Ms. Raitt, the Conservative MP for Milton, sat in Stephen Harper's cabinet. She was one of the few ministers with young children, and during those years she says she gave up trying to make time for friends, dividing her life between caring for her two sons, who were seven and four years old when she was first elected, and her job.

"Looking back on it, had I known, I don't know whether or not I would have made the leap [into politics]," she said. "So once you're in it, you've got to deal with whatever the situation is. I don't regret it ... although I have no friends. My friends are my children and my staff."

Not having to be in Ottawa for Friday makes a big difference to her. "It allows people to get home to their ridings and to do constituency work on Friday, which was the hard thing to fit into the schedule," she said.

Ontario's legislature is ahead of the game - changes were made nearly a decade ago as a result of a push from Progressive Conservative Ottawa MPP Lisa MacLeod, who had just had a baby.

The legislature did not sit on Fridays, so that wasn't an issue.

But child care was, as were latenight sittings, which required Ms.

MacLeod to physically be in the chamber. In addition, the workday in the legislature began at 1 p.m.

"I just didn't think it was reflective of modern-day life," said Ms. MacLeod, who adds her circumstances forced her to become an "unlikely feminist" when she was first elected in a by-election in 2006. Her husband took a year off of work to look after their daughter.

As a rookie opposition MPP, she didn't have a lot of clout, but found a sympathetic ear from the Liberal government at the time.

The sitting hours were changed - the legislature started earlier, and that mostly eliminated the nighttime hours. Changing tables were installed in the washrooms, and a high chair was put in the restaurant in the basement of the main legislative building.

"I think we still have a ways to go, but we are much better now," Ms. MacLeod said.

Like Ms. MacLeod, Alberta's McLean describes herself as an "accidental trailblazer." Her surprise pregnancy - she and her husband are thrilled about it - has provided an opportunity to modernize.

For example, the NDP government is now planning to change the law that would dock an MLA's pay for missing more than 10 sitting days. "It is meant to be punitive," Ms. McLean said.

"These are the acceptable reasons - bereavement, illness or public duty. Those are acceptable reasons, but having a child is not.

That is archaic legislation."

In addition to that, NDP House Leader Brian Mason said the government has already tried to bring in "family-friendly" workplace hours.

The legislature used to begin sitting at 1:30 p.m., but the NDP changed that to 9 a.m. as a way to eliminate late-night sittings. It didn't work. The opposition filibustered on a contentious bill, and the late hours continued. Mr. Mason said they need to take another look at that issue.

Nancy Peckford of Equal Voice, the non-partisan organization advocating for more elected women, said it's astonishing how basic these changes are, compared with other workplaces. But it's a start.

"Legislatures function in a regulatory void ... [it] has meant that they aren't compelled, as many other industries would be, to catch up to the times," she said.

For Ms. Peckford, so much more needs to be done to encourage women to run for office. "While the structural/institutional realities are often a significant disincentive for women," she said, "it's the culture of politics that is equally demotivating.

"The scandals, the lack of transparency, the relentless gamesmanship have all contributed to the erosion of respect for elected representatives - and has led to an unforgiving arena for those who do jump in."

Associated Graphic

Stephanie McLean, the NDP MLA for Calgary-Varsity, is the first Alberta MLA to be pregnant while in office. She is expecting her first child in February.


How income tax is actually a museum piece
A century ago, after Centre Block was razed by fire, politicians were forced to move off-site and ushered in a new era of government
Saturday, February 6, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A9

They moved out one of the fossil exhibits and turned the space into a temporary home for the Senate.

No joke; true story.

It all happened 100 years ago this passing week. Somehow, a fire began in the reading room of the Centre Block on Parliament Hill - instantly sparking rumours of German sabotage - and, before it was over, the building was destroyed and seven people dead.

One was a member of Parliament, Bowman Brown Law of Yarmouth, N.S. Two women visiting with the wife of the Speaker perished when they insisted on collecting their furs from their rooms before running.

By 3 p.m. the very next day, Parliament was again in session - only now sitting several blocks away in the rotunda of what was then called the Victoria Memorial Museum, a Gothic Tudor "palace" that had been completed just five years earlier.

For slightly more than four years, the Parliament of Canada would gather in this building that then housed the Geological Society of Canada.

Paintings owned by the National Gallery would be moved elsewhere. Plants and fossils would be shifted to other quarters. The duck-billed Edmontosaurus, recovered near Drumheller, Alta., and on display since 1913, would cease to be the biggest draw.

That honour was now held by prime minister Sir Robert Borden, already harried enough trying to marshal Canada through the worst months of the Great War, and silver-haired Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the prime minister who had ordered the museum built and who would lie in state there in 1919, the building swathed in black and 50,000 citizens parading past his casket.

There is nothing but a fading plaque near the entrance to make note of this curiosity in Canadian history; yet, there are some who believe that Canada entered the modern age while operating out of temporary quarters.

Over the four years the Senate and House of Commons were found in the museum, some 485 acts were given Royal Assent.

When the politicians returned to Parliament Hill in late February of 1920, they brought with them a different country.

On Thursday evening, the Victoria Memorial Museum, now known as the Canadian Museum of Nature, held a lecture by David Tough, who grew up not far from the museum and currently teaches political science at Trent University in Peterborough, Ont.

Dr. Tough's talk, "The Parliamentary Fire and Modern Politics," argues that "the origins of modern politics" were found in the museum. Parties organized on a left-right spectrum, universal suffrage gained a foothold and, of course, the first income tax was levied.

In Dr. Tough's opinion - and contrary to any thought currently going through your mind - income taxation was warmly welcomed and cheered by the citizens of Canada.

"It was a time of intense political upheavals of the First World War," he says. "And there was definitely big change for Canada.

"There was a shift in the power relationships between the elite - the lawyers and businessmen who were representing the Liberals and Conservatives in Parliament - and the people. Power shifted to women and to workers and to farmers, and through the course of the Depression and the Second World War those changes would come to full fruition.

That's when we established modern politics, the belief that politics is of the common person and that governments should help people."

The forced move to the museum, he believes, had a psychological effect on politicians. The war was not going well. Parliament had just burned down and, despite an official inquiry that would conclude the fire had been accidentally set, perhaps by a careless smoker, conspiracy theories abounded. One American businessman claimed that he knew Germans were planning an attack on the Canadian capital.

The United States was then not yet at war with Germany, but the businessman supposedly alerted American officials, although nothing was done.

"It all contributed to a feeling of anxiety," Dr. Tough says, "a feeling that they were losing prestige - especially among the senators." Not only were people laughing at the fossils connection, but they had to jostle with ordinary citizens - including women - if they wished to watch proceedings. One senator even complained that the dinosaurs were giving off lice, only to be informed by scientists that lice were not likely to live on their own for several million years.

"They were frustrated by the way that they saw their prestige being eroded," Dr. Tough says of the all-male politicians.

Women had gained the vote in Manitoba just the week before Parliament burned. It had taken years, a mock Parliament staged by Nellie McClung and endless resistance from Conservative premier Sir Rodmond Roblin, who proclaimed "most women don't want the vote." Besides, he argued, if they gave women the right to vote, the next thing the labour movement would demand is the enfranchisement of servant girls - "on the plea that servant girls have as good a right to vote as any other class of women."

Manitobans tossed Sir Rodmond out in the next election and women got the vote.

Federally, progress was incremental, the politicians voting in the museum to extend the vote to nurses and women in the armed services, then to women who had husbands or sons serving overseas and, finally, all women over 21 were allowed to vote as of Jan. 1, 1919.

The war empowered more than women. Farmers and labour became more active.

"People who they previously could essentially ignore suddenly had power," Dr. Tough says. "And the politicians were clearly annoyed."

According to Dr. Tough, ordinary Canadians had grown furious that their spouses and children were going off to fight while many rich people in the country were profiteering from the war.

At one point, munitions workers in Ontario threatened a general strike if the government failed to spread the cost to the well-off. In 1917, the House bowed to public pressure and passed the Income War Tax. They hoped it would prove temporary.

"There's a real misunderstanding about income taxation and where it came from," Dr. Tough says. "It was passed during the First World War, but it had almost nothing to do with paying for the war. It had everything to do with buying off part of the public, assuaging part of the public that was upset."

While the politicians had been resistant to introducing such a tax, they found it a "useful tool" when war was over and there were huge debts to pay. "When the money started rolling in," says Dr. Tough, "government started to change its tune. People have the wrong perception.

Today we think of income tax as a kind of dull burden, as in 'death and taxes,' but there was a popular push for it at the time."

And, of course, it would prove anything but temporary.

Associated Graphic

The Centre Block went up in flames 100 years ago this week. When politicians returned to Parliament Hill in 1920, it was a different country.


Can computers teach you to write a bestseller?
Saturday, January 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page R3

'I doubt that a recipe for a bestseller could be as easy to follow as a recipe for a cake." So said novelist Marie-Hélène Poitras in Le Devoir recently, after agreeing to try a recipe for bestselling American fiction developed by McGill University's .txtLAB, a research unit that applies computer analysis to literary texts.

Over the past several Saturdays, the French-language Montreal daily has conducted a competitive experiment in using digital text analysis as a way to change the way writers write. The paper asked five established Quebec novelists to compose a story of about 1,200 words using guidelines produced by .txtLAB from a study of 200 titles from the New York Times bestselling fiction list.

Common features of American bestsellers, according to .txtLAB director Andrew Piper, are short sentences (11 words on average), simple actions relayed with active verbs, frequent descriptions of facial expressions and characters who are into technology and have a mystery or violent crime to solve. These books avoid complex emotions, uncertainty and nature description, he says, as well as tea, rats, giants and bears.

Most writers of literary fiction regard bestsellers with a mixture of envy for the numbers involved and disgust for the kind of writing that often racks them up. Le Devoir lightened its assignment by presenting it as a game, with a reader poll to decide the winner.

Most of the four francophone writers whose responses have appeared so far treated the task as a joke, conspicuously ticking off items on Piper's list, importing characters from Star Wars (in Monique Proulx's On ne rit pas) or going all meta on the brief (Daniel Grenier, whose Annie courait features a Meta-Troll).

Only Stéphane Dompierre's Millionaire fauché took the challenge more or less seriously. It was a gothic mystery tale written in flat, simple sentences that mimicked the dull music of some bestsellers while propelling me to the last line - a page-turner just one page long.

The .txtLAB unit is part of McGill's investment in the blooming field of digital humanities, which, over the past five years, has attached itself to faltering humanities departments, including literary studies. Digital humanities involves many things, but in this instance, it's what you get when you stop reading a text and start counting and sorting its working parts - a practice known as quantitative analysis.

Some quantitative analyses of literary texts can produce real insights about evolutions in style and vocabulary. Others rely on what Piper himself calls "admittedly blunt tools" to make broad generalizations. In a December article in the New Republic, he and colleague Richard Jean So claim to chart the rise and fall of sentimentality in fiction - at a peak in Victorian times, they say, and declining ever since. That conclusion seems more sensible than the way they got there: by measuring the frequency of "sentimental words" such as "abominable" and "rapturous." An arbitrary and archaic word list is too coarse a net to catch the sentimentality in a sentence such as, "Tell me if Tiny Tim will live."

A quantitative analysis of 40,000 novels in 2014, by a team at the Stony Brook campus of the State University of New York, claimed an 84-per-cent rate of predicting literary success. But its main criterion for "success" was the number of times a book had been sourced from the Gutenberg Project, a free text-sharing site that includes nothing new or under copyright. In this kind of analysis, "prediction" often means studying a text "blind," then seeing whether your results tally with what actually happened to the book after publication, whether in 1978 or 1850.

The Stony Brook study's focus on texts that were many decades old produced no solid criteria for predicting the future success of a new book, contrary to many hopeful media headlines. A lot of bestselling fiction fades into obscurity over time, as recent Giller Prize-winner André Alexis noted in a discussion with Piper published at the start of Le Devoir's series.

Piper claims that .txtLAB has a 75-per-cent prediction rate for bestsellers, but that, too, is retrospective. It doesn't mean that any unpublished book has become a bestseller on the basis of a .txtLAB recommendation.

But it does mean, Piper says, that he has information that could usefully affect what is created in the future. The point of Le Devoir's experiment, in his view, was not to get Quebec authors to play at being clones of bestselling Americans, but to see how they might appropriate aspects of blockbuster fiction into their own voice and style.

In any case, Piper says, "bestsellers are much more diverse than the word lets on." A profile of the average bestselling novel may be like a computer-generated sketch of an average face that resembles no one in particular.

It's easy to find writing by bestselling authors that breaks .txtLAB's rules. "As it slowly sinks behind the mountains, the sun sprays light so warmly coloured and so mordant that, where touched, the darkening lands appear to be wet with it and dyed forever." That's from the first page of Intensity, a bestselling novel by Dean Koontz, whose books have sold more than 450 million copies. Note the length of the sentence and the nature description, both barred by Piper's criteria. Note also the botched poetry of "the sun sprays light," so close to Neil Simon's satirical "the sun spits morning" in The Owl and the Pussycat, a play about a failed novelist. I doubt that any set of computer-generated rules could measure the licence given to very popular storytellers to write badly.

The odd thing about Le Devoir's experiment in recipe fiction is that there has been no allusion to the single biggest barrier to any francophone writer aiming to produce "an American bestseller." Surely, the task should have been defined as writing a text that a translator such as Sheila Fischman might convert into a bestseller in the United States, which is a very hard job indeed. According to figures from the University of Rochester's translation program, only 3 per cent of books published in the U.S. are translations, and most of those aren't fiction.

"Despite the quality of these books," says a post on the program's Three Percent webpage, "most translations go virtually unnoticed [in the U.S.] and never find their audience." Best to treat the whole thing as a game, as Le Devoir did, and leave it to Shakespeare to deploy the ultimate active verb in this story: Exit, pursued by a bear.

Associated Graphic

Le Devoir asked five established Quebec writers to compose a short story using guidelines produced via digital text analysis of 200 titles from The New York Times bestselling fiction list.


Trump's halo effect extends to evangelicals
The candidate has disproved the theory that the GOP needs a pious leader
Saturday, January 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A16

Pastor Robert Jeffress of the First Baptist Church in Dallas understands Donald Trump's halo effect.

At the Trump Tower in New York with other religious leaders last September, Dr. Jeffress was impressed when the building's namesake invoked the faith of his mother. Mr. Trump also asked the group to extend their prayer time from one hour to a mighty 21/2 hours. What's more, added Dr. Jeffress, the Republican frontrunner seemed genuinely moved by the experience.

"I believe that Mr. Trump would be a sincere friend of evangelical Christians if he were elected," said Dr. Jeffress, the author of the upcoming book Not All Roads Lead to Heaven.

That a profane, thrice-married worshipper of Mammon is top in the polls among evangelical Republicans defies conventional wisdom. Mr. Trump has so far disproved the theory that the GOP requires a pious man to lead it. Instead, many white evangelicals would rather put their faith in a candidate with sharp elbows who will fight for their rights.

"We've had several past presidents who've espoused religious beliefs but weren't exactly born again," mused Dr. Jeffress, who has not endorsed a candidate.

"Waving a Bible doesn't make you a Christian any more than waving a kumquat makes you a vegetable."

A Jan. 12 New York Times/CBS poll showed that Mr. Trump, a Presbyterian sometimes prone to xenophobic and misogynist rancour, enjoyed the support of 42 per cent of the evangelical vote, far in front of rival Ted Cruz. The Canadian-born senator from Texas - a churchgoing son of a pastor and impressive, if not browbeating, constitutional expert - Mr. Cruz had 25 per cent. A new poll from Zogby Analytics of likely GOP caucus and primary voters shows Mr. Trump receiving 45 per cent of the total Republican vote and Mr. Cruz in second at 13 per cent.

Several factors contribute to Mr. Trump's success. Echoing what polls have been indicating for several years, Dr. Jeffress said the U.S. is less religious than it used to be, including those who still nominally count themselves as religious. While evangelicals are by no means a monolithic bloc, he stressed, there is a wide sentiment that the ruling class of Republicans in Washington lost the cultural wars.

"The [U.S. Supreme Court's] same-sex marriage ruling was a gut punch for everyone," he explained, adding that the sense of powerlessness has altered expectations. Like other Americans, they are more consumed these days with the economy and national security. "They're not looking for spiritual leaders.

They want problem solvers."

Mr. Trump is also the front-runner in Iowa, where the caucuses will be held on Feb. 1. On Tuesday, he received the endorsement from another reality-TV personality, Sarah Palin, who presumably would also bring a healthy portion of her own evangelical vote to his camp.

The result, wrote David Frum in The Atlantic, underlines a growing schism between conservatism as an ideology, represented by Mr. Cruz, and conservatism as an identity, represented by Mr. Trump and Ms. Palin. The former draws support based on party principles. The latter is grounded in grievance.

Like Mr. Frum, political science professor Ryan Claassen of Kent State University says this kind of support for Mr. Trump may be less about so-called "values issues" and more a function of the country's enduring racial tensions. Many political scientists agree that Republican gains in recent decades began in the 1960s, when Senator Barry Goldwater took positions against the Voting and Civil Rights acts.

Perhaps Mr. Trump's appeal is rooted in similar sentiments, overriding concerns about the culture wars. "Of all the candidates, Trump is most antagonistic toward the Black Lives Matter movement, the least welcoming to immigrants, and the most intolerant of other religions," said Prof. Claassen, author of Godless Democrats and Pious Republicans? Party Activists, Party Capture, and the 'God Gap.' "I'm not sure it's as much about cultural issues as it is about tolerance and inequality."

Mr. Trump's outsider status and his own blustery dogma - however controversial - have made him more authentic in the eyes of Christian Conservatives: "They're leaning toward Trump because he's saying the right things to them, albeit in a clunky way," Prof. Claassen says. Many forgive Mr. Trump his trespasses, including his pro-choice to prolife flip-flop. Also, on the practical side, they want someone who, ultimately, can beat Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

This week has shown that Mr. Trump's aura keeps getting brighter. Liberty University, run by Jerry Falwell Jr., should have been hostile territory for the Donald. After all, it's where Mr. Cruz launched his presidential campaign almost a year ago in front of 11,000 students. But last Monday, Mr. Falwell compared his guest of honour, Mr. Trump, to his own famous father and Martin Luther King Jr.

For his part, Mr. Trump bumbled, charmed and shocked. During his speech, he ranked his signature book, The Art of the Deal, "a deep, deep second to the Bible," adding that, "The Bible is the best. The Bible blows it away." He referred to Corinthians II as "Two Corinthians," as though the book were about a couple of Greek guys from Corinth. "That's the whole ball game," he continued, unbowed.

"Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. And here is liberty."

Daniel Williams, author of God's Own Party: The Making of the Christian Right, said Mr. Trump's traction reminds him of Ronald Reagan during his own presidential campaign leading up to the 1980 contest. President Jimmy Carter was by far a more religious man than Mr. Reagan - whose previous marriage to actress Jane Wyman was a stain on his Christian credentials - but voters still felt the Gipper would make a better president.

Mr. Trump said something similar earlier this week on CBN News. "Well, No. 1, and there are lots of ways of looking at it, but beyond all else, Ronald Reagan wasn't a totally, he didn't read the Bible every day, seven days a week. But he was a great president. And he was a great president for Christianity."

Prof. Williams sees the rise of Mr. Trump as a momentous schism between the evangelical leadership and churchgoers, who, in his estimation, live in different worlds. "On the whole, the leadership is cool to Trump at best - and hostile at worst," said Mr. Williams, associate professor of history at the University of West Georgia. Congregants, especially in the South and among lower socioeconomic groups, are concerned about issues such as immigration. They need a man of action. "They are willing to embrace someone who is not one of them - as long as he can change the country's direction."

Associated Graphic

Supporters hold up Donald Trump signs at a rally in Tulsa, Okla., this week.


Still mired in a crisis that has seen more than one million migrants and refugees flood into the continent in 2015 - more than half from war-torn Syria and Iraq - several EU and non-EU countries are proposing or passing tough new measures to manage current asylum seekers and stem the influx of more
Thursday, February 4, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A8

1 Germany 441,800 First-time asylum applicants

Germany is reeling from the influx of more than 1.1 million migrants and refugees who entered the country in 2015, mostly from Syria or Iraq, but many from North Africa.

Germany's "EASY" system counts new arrivals ahead of their claiming asylum.

To weed out illegitimate refugees, the cabinet is declaring Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia "safe countries" so that no one from there can claim asylum.

A two-year waiting period for reunited refugee families is also to be introduced so that only those family members who are being personally and urgently persecuted will be allowed to join their families in Germany sooner.

People blame Chancellor Angela Merkel for the country's open-door policy on refugees and her popular support has fallen to its lowest level in 41/2 years.

Germany is considering taking away benefits from asylum seekers if they refuse to try to learn the language and integrate.

Some southern German states are seizing assets from refugees worth more than 750 ($1,145).

2 Sweden 156,120 First-time asylum applicants

Sweden took in 163,000 asylum seekers last year, the most per capita in Europe.

However, authorities are preparing to expel 60,000 to 80,000 of them because their applications for asylum have been rejected.

About 35,000 of the refugees were unaccompanied children. However, pressure on the government is growing to scrutinize the age of these "children," as many are alleged to be young adults.

3 Denmark 18,160 First-time asylum applicants

The government has placed ads in Lebanese newspapers telling Syrians they are not welcome in Denmark.

To help cover the expense of housing the asylum seekers, the Danish parliament, the Folketinget, passed a law on Jan. 26 allowing authorities to seize people's valuables - including cash and jewellery, but not personal items such as wedding bands - worth more than 10,000 kroner ($2,050).

The city of Randers is requiring all public cafeterias, including those in schools and daycare centres, to serve pork meals in order to discourage Muslim refugees.

4 Norway 30,460 First-time asylum applicants

Despite criticism of Denmark's overseas ads discouraging refugees, the Norwegian government has begun its own anti-refugee ad campaign.

5 Britain 35,075 First-time asylum applicants

Prime Minister David Cameron is resisting public pressure to take in refugee children from within continental Europe. He insists that Britain must focus on efforts in Syria and other conflict zones.

In Cardiff, Wales, refugees were made to wear red wristbands in order to receive free meals, although an outcry against the stigmatization has reportedly ended the practice.

In Middlesbrough, England, refugees have been housed in residences with red doors, a distinction that also reportedly led to discrimination and attacks.

6 Switzerland 33,300 First-time asylum applicants

Authorities have begun warning refugees they will have to hand over any property worth more than 1,000 Swiss francs ($1,370).

7 Greece 10,200 First-time asylum applicants

The European Union is ordering Greece to slow the flow of asylum seekers through better registration and security checks.

More than 60,000 migrants and refugees entered Europe through Greece in January, most of them from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The EU says it will impose border controls between Greece and other EU member states if Athens does not comply.

Greece says it will have its army do more to help police and port authorities deal with the new arrivals.

8 Hungary 174,425 First-time asylum applicants

Hungary is preparing to build an anti-migration fence along its border with Romania, unless Romania stops the flow of asylum seekers entering Hungary.

Budapest's right-wing government already has erected barbed-wire fences along its frontiers with Serbia and Croatia.

9 Czech Republic 1,120 First-time asylum applicants

Czech authorities are taking refugees' money to pay for their detention, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says. In some cases, the refugees have reportedly been strip-searched in an effort to find cash.

10 Slovakia 100 First-time asylum applicants

The government has announced it will refuse entry to any Muslim asylum seekers, and will take in only Christians.

11 Serbia N/A

Serbia, which is used by migrants in transit to EU states, has announced it will facilitate the passage of only those who are going on to Austria or Germany.

12 European Union over all 1,211,830 First-time asylum applicants

Many European countries now are working to limit large numbers of refugees. A variety of them have begun to implement border controls between EU members, an act that may spell the end of the union's vaunted border-free Schengen zone. Others, on the periphery of the EU, have built border walls and fences to restrict the entry of refugees and migrants.

All 28 EU members have approved a 3-billion fund in 2016 for Turkey to improve living conditions for refugees in exchange for Ankara's ensuring that most do not migrate to Europe.

The EU will provide 1-billion from its own budget, while 2-billion will come from the individual members, beginning with Germany contributing 427.5-million this year.

The International Monetary Fund has urged EU countries to temporarily pay refugee workers less than the minimum wage. The measure is intended to mitigate the cost of accepting refugees and allowing them to find work faster.

Children now make up more than one-third of the people making the perilous sea crossing from Turkey to Greece, the United Nations has said. Children and women on the move now make up nearly 60 per cent of new arrivals, a significant shift since June, when 73 per cent of refugees were adult men and only one in 10 was under the age of 18.

The Europol police agency warns unaccompanied minors are particularly vulnerable to exploitation, abuse and trafficking. More than 10,000 children who arrived alone in Europe in the past two years have disappeared, the agency says.

Associated Graphic

At left, refugees and asylum seekers register their names in Stockholm in October. Sweden took in 163,000 asylum seekers last year, the most per capita in Europe. At centre, Danish border police stop refugees from Syria at the Padborg train station, near the border with Germany, in September. Denmark passed a law last week requiring newly arrived asylum seekers with assets above 10,000 kroner to help pay for their stay. At right, migrants and refugees wait for a security check after crossing the Macedonian border into Serbia, near the village of Miratovac, on Friday last week. Serbia has announced it will facilitate the passage of only those migrants who are proceeding on to Austria or Germany.


A day for rosé
Toasting Valentine's with these rosy sparklers requires some planning ahead, but the bottles are worth it
Saturday, February 6, 2016 – Print Edition, Page L13

Finally, the big day's almost here. I don't know about you, but I'm excited. I'd be even more excited if by "big day" I could mean this Sunday's Super Bowl. Anticipation for that event in my home was extinguished two weeks ago when the Broncos nudged out the Patriots in the AFC conference championship. Like a good New England fan, I'll be yawning into my nachos as Carolina crushes Denver. And as Coldplay lulls me completely to sleep during the half-time show, I'll dream of the next big occasion on the calendar that's actually worth a sparkling-wine celebration, Valentine's Day.

It helps to ponder that big day in advance because many special wines, like a couple of the Canadian offerings below, are available mainly through direct purchase from the estates.

If you're like me, you'll also want to slip that bottle in the Frigidaire ahead of time.

Wine for Valentine's should be consumed the evening of, not handed over as a lukewarm gift to be stashed away for another fête. Even if your plans involve a restaurant, consider pouring a "pre-drink" at home before calling the cab. (You might just shave $30 off your restaurant bill in cocktail costs, which will cover the price of the bubbly - nudge, nudge, wink, wink.)

Given the occasion, I trust you won't fi nd it cheesy for me to include a preponderance of rosés in the selections here. There is, in fact, nothing cheesy about a Valentineblush colour where quality sparkling wine is concerned.

In the high-end Champagne world, rosés tend to be more expensive and more coveted.

They get their tint in either of two ways. Red grape skins are left to steep only briefly in contact with the clear juice after pressing, or the wine is produced like a normal white - with no skin contact - but later stained with a small dose of red wine later on.

Some people believe the added injection of red-skin fl avour and antioxidant tannin yields extra body and cellarworthiness. I'm inclined to agree, but I also think it's just plain seductive to gaze at.

Benjamin Bridge Rose Sparkling 2011 (Nova Scotia) SCORE: 92 PRICE: $44.50

It's still something of a local secret, but Nova Scotia makes stellar bubbly. Quebec-born winemaker Jean-Benoit Deslauriers brings the estate's signature high-tension edge to this rosé. It's lightmedium-bodied, with a strawberry centre and fresh bread nuance energized by lemon zest and chalky minerality. Available in Nova Scotia stores and direct from the winery at

Blue Mountain Brut Rosé R.D.

2011 (British Columbia) SCORE: 92 PRICE: $32.90

B.C. sparkling wine pioneer Blue Mountain puts as much devotion into its bubbly production as I do into my bubbly consumption.

The colour of this delectable wine is faint blush, like deftly applied rouge on a pretty face. It's a fittingly light tint given the wine's delicate profile and high-voltage acidity. That said, it's smooth in the middle, showing sweet strawberry and apple-sauce characters. It's remarkably easy to drink, which might make for a very happy Valentine's Day. Available in select private stores and direct at www.

Bertolani Rose Lambrusco Reggiano (Italy) SCORE: 90 PRICE: $15.95

You may remember Lambrusco.

Maybe not. It was popular in North America almost before wine was popular. Back in the 1960s and early 1970s, the spritzy, sometimes sweet Italian red was on a par with Coke and Pepsi. It was soda pop, but with a splash of alcohol. Newly trendy, its quality has generally and significantly improved. This is one of the better offerings at a reasonable price. Dry, it's lightly tinted, with moderate carbonation and notes of tart cherry and apple, with a firm acid spine and touch of bitterness. Perfect for a charcuterie board. Available in Ontario.

Bottega Rose Gold Rosé Spumante (Italy) SCORE: 90 PRICE: $26.95

The flashy bottle might scare away most "serious" wine buyers. Curvy like a bowling pin, it's coated in reflective faint-pink foil, like a Christmas-tree ornament. But the price is decidedly premium, suggesting it's not exactly aimed at someone like The Dude, Jeff Bridges's scruffy bowling-obsessed character in The Big Lebowski.

What a pleasant surprise. It's simultaneously fun and seriously crafted. Fermented according to the big-tank charmat method common to Italian proseccos (versus the more involved bottlefermented Champagne process), this pinot noir-based rosé is a whisper sweeter than its bone-dry "brut" billing would suggest, with a rounded strawberry and green apple essence. $27.49 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $27.99 in Manitoba.

L'Acadie Vineyards Vintage Cuvée Rosé 2012 (Nova Scotia) SCORE: 89 PRICE: $27

B.C.-born Bruce Ewert, who worked in the Okanagan Valley (and elsewhere) before moving east with his Nova Scotia-born wife, Pauline Scott, released Nova Scotia's first Champagne-method sparkling wine back in 2008. The local industry owes much to his foresight, and his careful hand is in evidence in this certified-organic blend of l'acadie blanc, seyval blanc and marechal foch grapes.

Technically dry, with a touch of sweetness, it's got a core of cherry and raspberry jam lifted by citrus zest. Available direct at www.

Nino Franco Brut Prosecco Superiore (Italy) SCORE: 89 PRICE: $21.95

Prosecco, Italy's immensely popular sparkling wine, doesn't get much more blue chip than this. From one of the style's most respected producers, this white bubbly bursts forth with red apple and sweet lemon drop flavours carried on an active froth. Balanced and compelling.

Various prices in Alberta., $21.75 in Quebec.

Jost Selkie Frizzante 2014 (Nova Scotia) SCORE: 89 PRICE: $19.95

Jost, Nova Scotia's pioneering winery, named this delight "selkie" after the folkloric creature that transforms from seal to human. The wine performs a bit of a trick, too. Sweet and musky, it manages to stay lively and light (at just 8.5-per-cent alcohol), with a gentle spritz that's tame enough to accommodate a regular screw cap versus caged cork. Perfect for light, moderately sweet cakes and cookies. Available in Ontario at the above price, $19.99 in Nova Scotia, $19.99 in New Brunwsick, $20.27 in Newfoundland.

Chateau des Charmes Rosé Sparkling 2012 (Niagara) SCORE: 88 PRICE: $28.95

Rose-petal pink, this is made in the Champagne method, with its second fermentation conducted in bottle, but, unlike most Champagnes, it's a tad sweeter than off-dry, with charming, cheerful candy-like fruit flavours.

Available in select Ontario LCBO stores and direct at www.

Syria peace talks halt over lack of progress
UN Secretary-General says suspension of negotiations demonstrates how far apart supporters and opponents of Assad regime still are
Friday, February 5, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A9

LONDON -- United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned that the war in Syria "cannot go on like this," as donor countries pledged billions more in aid to refugees after negotiations to end the conflict were suspended for lack of progress.

The leaders of Jordan and Lebanon - which together host almost two million Syrian refugees - piled on more grim news by telling an international donors' conference in London that their countries were near the breaking point if the world did not do more to help.

Mr. Ban, in opening remarks to the fourth annual Supporting Syria conference, said the apparent collapse of the peace talks - which UN envoy Staffan di Mistura put on hold until Feb. 25 after failing to get the two sides to agree to even sit in the same room during six days of shuttle negotiations in Geneva - showed how far apart the supporters and opponents of President Bashar al-Assad still are.

Mr. Ban appeared to blame the regime and, by extension, its Russian and Iranian allies, for refusing to agree to rebel demands for the lifting of sieges as a precondition for face-toface talks.

"It is deeply disturbing that the initial steps of the talks have been undermined by the continuous lack of sufficient humanitarian access, and by a sudden increase of aerial bombing and military activities within Syria," he said. "I agree fully with [Mr. di Mistura] that we should not have talks for the sake of talks. The coming days should be used to get back to the table, not to secure more gains on the battlefield."

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, whose government supports the Assad regime, said he hoped that the pause in the Geneva talks would be "temporary."

There were few encouraging signs on the ground, however.

Government forces - fighting alongside Lebanon's Hezbollah militia - have made a series of rapid gains around the rebelheld city of Aleppo in recent days, advances facilitated by relentless Russian air strikes.

The Syrian army said Thursday that the shattered city, which was home to more than two million people before the war, was now almost completely surrounded.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told the London conference that Turkey - which already hosts about 2.3 million Syrians - was bracing for as many as 70,000 more refugees fleeing air strikes in the Aleppo region. Meanwhile, Russia accused Turkey of preparing to "invade" Syria.

Mr. Ban's speech was followed by a sombre address from Jordan's King Abdullah II, who said his country - which hosts about 635,000 officially registered Syrian refugees - could take no more. He reminded the assembled leaders that Jordan, which has a total population of 9.5 million, is also still hosting refugees from the Iraq war and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"Looking today into the eyes of my people and seeing the hardship and distress they carry, I must tell you: we have reached our limits," the King said. "Our country will continue to do what we can to help those in need, but it cannot be at the expense of our own people's welfare."

Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam struck a similar note, saying his country was experiencing shortages of everything from water to school spaces as a result of the influx of more than one million registered refugees. "Soon, Lebanon will no longer be able to contain an eruption," which will drive more refugees abroad, Mr. Salam warned. "Time is running out."

Those dire warnings were coupled with an appeal from Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who called on leaders to create a $1.4-billion (U.S.) fund focused on education refugee children. "How can we think of a better future for Syria when 700,000 children are out of school among the refugees?" she asked a news conference.

Mr. Ban said the world needs to keep pace with the growing needs of the millions of Syrians who have been displaced by a civil war that has left more than 250,000 people dead and is now entering its sixth year. The UN has asked for $8-billion to deal with the crisis in 2016. The international community met only 40 per cent of the UN's $8.8-billion appeal last year, leading to reductions in food stipends as well as a chronic shortage of school spaces in the main host countries of Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

"Despite the generosity of some donors, the international community has failed to keep pace with these needs," Mr. Ban told the donors conference, which was held under tight security in the heart of London.

"The situation is not sustainable. We cannot go on like this.

There is no military solution."

British Prime Minister David Cameron said donor countries would do "everything we can" to meet the aid request. By the end of the one-day meeting, he said $6-billion had been raised toward the 2016 goal, with $5-billion more pledged for later years.

Mr. Cameron promised that the Britain would donate $744million this year to the Syrian refugee crisis, roughly double its 2015 contribution.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel - who has seen her support ratings plummet since she declared last fall that Germany would welcome refugees, provoking hundreds of thousands fleeing Syria and other conflicts to make their way toward the European Union - said her country would donate $1.3-billion.

That total included $634-million earmarked to the World Food Program, which the agency said would meet half its annual need for the Syria crisis.

Falling WFP food rations was one of the biggest reasons many refugees left temporary residences in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan and tried to reach Europe.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry - in an address full of bitter remarks about the Assad regime's refusal to halt sieges and allow humanitarian access to several rebel-held areas so that the Geneva talks could have a chance to succeed - announced $925-million in new American aid for Syrian refugees.

International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said Canada would not give any new pledges in London, though Prime Minister Justin Trudeau would "in a couple of days" make an announcement encompassing Canada's military, diplomatic and humanitarian strategy for Syria and the region.

Ms. Bibeau called the suspension of the Geneva negotiations "a big disappointment," but she said the London conference sent the message that "we're all working together here."

Not everybody. Neither Russia nor the Syrian government was represented at the Supporting Syria event.

Associated Graphic

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon says the world needs to keep pace with the millions of Syrian refugees who have been displaced by a civil war that has left more than 250,000 people dead and is now entering its sixth year.


Sky-high restaurants come with lofty challenges
Diners enjoy spectacular views and upscale food atop Toronto's highest buildings. But for the staff, the logistics of operating an eatery high in the air are less delicious
Tuesday, February 2, 2016 – Print Edition, Page B6

TORONTO -- There is no change room at Oliver & Bonacini's Canoe restaurant, atop the 54th floor of the Toronto-Dominion Centre in Toronto's financial district.

Thankfully, kitchen staff have the PATH: When they head in to work, they change clothes in a locker room rented in a neighbouring building, then take the underground pedway to the tower-topping restaurant.

Such is the price of doing business at Canoe, where space is at an incredible premium. In exchange for the TD Centre's sweeping views of Lake Ontario, the Humber Bay and the western Greater Toronto Area, value must be wrung from every square inch.

And that's just half the battle for the two-decade-old Bay Street haunt.

Like many other sky-high restaurants, it must create the appearance of a smooth operation while fighting against the myriad logistical nightmares that can pop up when you're 180 or more metres from the ground.

Seated at Canoe's westernmost row of tables, general manager Lee Jackson briefly dismisses the skyline that spreads out behind him. "Nobody's going to come up here and be happy paying $55 for an entrée because of the view," he says, as a plane lands on Toronto Island to his left. "So the food and the service are absolutely paramount to business here."

The struggles of penthouse (and near-penthouse) restaurants start at the ground level and snake their way up. Canoe, for instance, must share the TD Centre's three-port loading dock with the rest of the tower's tenants. If a supplier shows up at the wrong time, their wait can be as long as 2 1/2 hours.

"We're very fortunate that we're a restaurant a lot of people want to work with, so our suppliers bite the bullet to be able to do business with us," Mr. Jackson says.

A few kilometres north, atop the Manulife Centre, staff at The One Eighty deal with the same kinds of struggles. Like Canoe, they have minimal storage space, meaning their deliveries are smaller and more frequent - they could get fish every second day, but prefer to restock daily. The Yorkville restaurant has an even more precarious load-in situation; delivery trucks often get stuck in loading-bay jams, and occasionally call up to the 51stfloor business to have someone come down and pick up supplies.

"They actually will stop on Bay Street and run into the centre to do the deliveries, because to them it's just cheaper to get a ticket than it is to spend two hours waiting to get into the loading dock," says Sebastien Centner, chief executive officer of Eatertainment, which operates The One Eighty.

The CN Tower has fewer tenants than most skyscrapers, but it soars much higher. The towertopping 360 Restaurant has to bring supplies and staff up the same six elevators everyone else uses. Much of the prep for the 400-seat restaurant is done at the base of the tower - meat is cleaned and portioned, stocks are prepared. Then all of it - including 6,000 pieces of cutlery, 2,500 pounds of beef and 500 loaves of bread a week - is carted up a passenger elevator to the kitchen, where every plate is made to order.

Making sure everything is in the right place at the right time requires meticulous inventory sheets and constant radio communication. "In a traditional restaurant, you have the main line in front, and production behind the main line. Ours are 1,100 feet apart," says Peter George, 360's executive chef.

Depending on the tower, elevators themselves can pose problems. The One Eighty has a dedicated elevator, but if that breaks down, the restaurant is forced to use its backup - one that's usually used by the 50 residential floors below. At Canoe, to get deliveries or to retreive something from their underground dry storage, staff and suppliers might have to fight for the two first-come-first-serve freight elevators - one of which can be sidelined for hours at a time for tenant move-ins.

Once you reach the top, things should be just like every other restaurant, right? For diners, yes, things usually appear to be. It's a different picture for chefs and cooks. You won't find gas stoves at Canoe, The One Eighty, or 360.

"Having gas on the 54th floor is extremely high-risk," says Canoe's Mr. Jackson. Both his restaurant and 360 cook by induction instead, which frustrates some chefs, but certainly has its benefits. "The kitchen is a lot cooler on a daily basis," 360's Mr. George says.

Induction might not be what all chefs are used to, but Mr. George insists his team has grown to love the magnetic means of cooking.

"There's an unbelievable amount of control," he says.

Chefs at The One Eighty, meanwhile, can use their unusual circumstance to make creative meals with a pizza oven. "It gives them the flexibility of doing something we normally couldn't in an environment like that," Mr. Centner says.

And then there's the view, which is under immense pressure to be kept bright and squeaky-clean. Canoe's windows are washed quarterly, though Mr. Jackson wouldn't mind it being more frequently. But that would not only squeeze Canoe's already-tight margins - it could potentially violate the contracts it has with its landlord.

Weather, however, is less predictable. But Mr. Jackson says that Canoe's brand alone helps keep reservations up even when fog or sleet descends on Toronto.

"If it's a foggy day, it's like rain on your wedding day," he says. "You don't really have the opportunity to change the date if you plan to come."

There are, however, fewer window-seat requests when the weather's a nuisance. And that can be a good thing, in its own way. "It allows people to focus on the food and the service, which is what actually keeps people coming back."


10.3% Biggest one-week REIT gainer: Temple Hotels. CIBC

9.2% Biggest one-week REIT decliner: Genesis Land Development. CIBC

19.6% Increase in leased industrial, commercial/retail and office space in fourth quarter of 2015 in Toronto, compared with same quarter of 2014. Toronto Real Estate Board

27% Approximate decrease in number of sales of industrial, commercial/retail and office properties in fourth quarter in Toronto year-over-year. TREB

Associated Graphic

The vistas from Canoe restaurant in Toronto's TD Centre are among the best in the city but they're not enough to keep customers coming back, says general manager Lee Jackson. 'The food and the service are absolutely paramount to business here,' he says.


Anger roils both sides of political divide
Iowa voters feel neither party is properly addressing their insecurities about the economy, terror and immigration
Monday, February 1, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A3

SIOUX CITY, IOWA -- On Monday, Iowa will kick off the 2016 race for the White House, a contest in which two fiery, fringe candidates from the left and right have hijacked the national imagination and undercut the political establishment.

Traditionally, this sleepy agrarian state is not exactly a bellwether of who eventually will take the world's most important job.

Remember past victors Mike Huckabee or Rick Santorum? But this contest already has major consequence. Polls leading up to the caucus indicate Nativist strongman and real-estate mogul Donald Trump as the Republican front-runner, with a 5-per-cent lead against experienced politicians such as Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and even Ted Cruz, a favourite among evangelicals here.

That margin is amplified to double-digits in national polls.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who rails against corporate greed and calls for revolution, is within the margin of error of defeating former secretary of state Hillary Clinton in the Hawkeye State. While lagging behind Ms. Clinton in the national polls, the curmudgeonly 74-year-old's democratic-socialist message has already made him the convincing front-runner in New Hampshire, Vermont's neighbour, which hosts the second race next week.

Analysts say that back-to-back wins would make him a viable threat to upset the woman who was once touted as a shoe-in.

Voters feel that neither party is properly addressing their insecurities about the economy, terror and immigration and are looking for simple - or perhaps, simplistic - remedies to fix the issues.

Hundreds of rallies, thousands of attack ads and countless minutes of bombardment by phone later, Iowa has become the contest that mirrors, if not exaggerates, anger on both sides of the U.S. political divide.

"Many Americans don't feel the American dream is available to them any more," the former senator from neighbouring Minnesota, Norm Coleman, told The Globe and Mail over the phone.

"The Democrats are looking to a socialist, and the Republicans to Donald Trump. ... It is not a pretty picture."

Mr. Coleman, a Republican who recently endorsed Mr. Bush, pointed out that parties who field outsiders as their presidential nominees will court electionnight disaster. Richard Nixon trounced the very liberal George McGovern in 1972; far-right Barry Goldwater lost to Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964's landslide.

A political figure who some say reminds them of Mr. Goldwater, Mr. Trump has made political hay out of garden-variety boorishness, calling for a ban on Muslim immigration and a wall to fence off Mexicans. Last week, the developer picked a fight with Fox News, perceived by many to be the GOP's unofficial megaphone, opting out of a debate because the channel refused to replace the moderator. Despite his absence, the seemingly invincible Mr. Trump stole the spotlight.

The theme of anger in Mr. Trump's campaign has continuously come up, which the billionaire mocked at a rally in Sioux City Sunday night.

"They ask me, 'Is it true that you're angry?'" he said in a sarcastic tone. "I say, 'What's good?' I am angry. I'm really angry."

Mr. Trump said if he is voted in, Americans won't be unhappy anymore. "You'll be happy," he vowed during his subdued sitdown discussion with Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr. "There'll be a lot of victories."

Part of Mr. Trump's appeal is his authoritarian image as a strongman who is going to shake things up, said Alan Abramowitz, author of The Polarized Public: Why American Government is so Dysfunctional. "In the GOP campaigns, the rhetoric is almost apocalyptic - the country's going to hell."

From the left, Mr. Sanders's call to rise up against corporate greed has resonated with millennials, a key constituency for Barack Obama when he was a relatively unseasoned politician running again Ms. Clinton in the 2008 election.

On Saturday in the liberal university town of Iowa City, Mr. Sanders drew an estimated 5,000 supporters. They came to hear the senator and millennial music acts of note such as Vampire Weekend, who joined Mr. Sanders and his wife, Jane, on stage for a version of Woody Guthrie's anthemic This Land Is Your Land.

"The pundits say young people don't vote," he called out to the massive crowd. "How would you like to make the pundits look dumb on election night?" Reflecting much of the country's political frustrations, Amanda Yoder, who caucused for Ms. Clinton's 2008 campaign, said that Mr. Obama has been a disappointment. "He went around promising a lot here last time around, especially about education, and I have to fundraise for my kids' school," she said Saturday in West Des Moines.

Ms. Yoder, who lives near Iowa City, holds down two jobs in the biotech industry and as an event photographer. Her husband, a conservative, is a deputy sheriff and also works as a mason. She doesn't feel their economic situation has improved in the past eight years and she has not been impressed with Ms. Clinton's track record in office, either.

When asked if she will vote for Mr. Sanders, she said he has offered very little in the way of foreign policy.

Part of the wider frustration also stems from two-term-president fatigue. President Obama's former senior strategist, David Axelrod, wrote a mea culpa in the New York Times last week explaining why he didn't see the rise of Mr. Trump. "Many Republicans view dimly the very qualities that played so well for Mr. Obama in 2008," he wrote. "Deliberation is [now] seen as hesitancy; patience as weak