Mark MacKinnon visits the unassuming city in the shadow of the Urals where, not long ago -- and for not very long --free expression was allowed to flourish. In fact, it was encouraged and even financed by the state. Then something happened Photography by Sergey Ponomarev
Saturday, August 15, 2015 – Print Edition, Page F1

PERM, RUSSIA -- The era feels impossible now, in a Russia that's increasingly closed, controlled and paranoid: Crowds dancing as buskers played world beats in a muddy field outside the governor's office. A governmentsupported contemporary art gallery displaying exhibits daringly mocking of the Kremlin. An independently run museum that kept alive memories of the gulag and held an annual festival of opposition politics, on premises that warned against the dangers of totalitarianism.

For several years, Perm - a city of brutal Soviet architecture that is home to just under a million people - was an anomaly in this country, a special political space. While the Kremlin was crushing opposition parties and the last independent media elsewhere, in Perm artists were encouraged to experiment, journalists could criticize, and visitors might think they were in Western Europe, rather than middle Russia.

Project Perm, as it became known, was the brainchild of a reformist regional governor and an art curator cum political strategist who had played a role in Vladimir Putin's rise to power, something he has come to rue. Together - and with the tacit support of Dmitry Medvedev, who swapped jobs with Mr. Putin and served as president between 2008 and 2012 - they decided to build a showcase of how a different Russia might look, an alternative to the throwback authoritarianism on the rise in Moscow. And they succeeded - for a while.

Perm's summers were transformed by the launch of the month-long White Nights festival, named for the endless summer evenings here on the plains just west of the Ural Mountains.

Some years, as many as a million visitors were drawn to its mix of street art, theatre and live music.

Each June, musicians and graffiti artists, some from as far away Western Europe and Latin America, descended on the city.

The heart of Project Perm was the Museum of Contemporary Art established in the city's disused River Station, a Stalinist hulk of a building where passengers once bought tickets for boat trips along the placid Kama River. Among the provocative works the museum displayed was a blood-red wall, spattered with black paint to look like clouds of smoke, entitled simply Maidan - a reference to the central square in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, where the pro-Western protest that was to overthrow a Russianbacked government had just begun.

The Perm-36 gulag museum - already the only place in Vladimir Putin's Russia where visitors could experience the mix of monotony and terror that was life inside a Soviet labour camp - launched Pilorama("the name means "sawing bench," a reference to the woodworking done by inmates), an annual festival featuring opposition politics and folk music.

The media also felt free enough to criticize Oleg Chirkunov, the reformist governor, and even Project Perm itself, although local journalists still knew better than to pay too much attention to national politics.

"The idea was they would allow Perm to become a democratic region. When people would come to Perm, they would see democracy and think: 'All of Russia could be like this,' " says Marat Gelman, the Moscow political scientist and art curator tasked by Mr. Chirkunov in 2008 with turning this little-known city into a renowned cultural centre, akin to Edinburgh or Bilbao. Over the next three years, Mr. Gelman recalls, Perm "made such important steps forward." He dreamed of spreading the model to other cities, of fathering an "artistic perestroika."

Then things started to unravel.

Mr. Putin announced at a United Russia party conference in the fall of 2011 that he intended to return to the presidency the following year, and that Mr. Medvedev was stepping aside to clear the path. When anti-Putin protests erupted later that year, Mr. Gelman returned to Moscow to join them.

But middle Russia wasn't ready for the revolution Mr. Gelman and Mr. Chirkunov wanted to see.

The protests foundered, and Mr. Putin won the 2012 election with precisely 63 per cent of the vote, both in Perm and across the country.

One of Mr. Medvedev's last acts in the Kremlin was to accept Mr. Chirkunov's resignation that spring - three years before the governor's term was to end. Project Perm was over.

Soon afterward, funding for White Nights and Pilorama was ended, and this year, the state moved to take control of the management of Perm-36. The new administration - arguing that residents of the city never wanted the avant-garde art and Western-style freedoms that Mr.

Chirkunov and Mr. Gelman brought - seems possessed with trying to erase all traces of the brief period when Perm was ruled by liberal ideals.

Gone now are the art installations that mock the state, and the accompanying warnings about the dangers of returning to the Soviet past. In their place are endless billboards celebrating the Second World War victory over Nazi Germany - with scant mention that the country had allies in that fight - as well as the new symbol of pan-Russian nationalism, the orange-and-black St. George's ribbon used by Joseph Stalin to reward the heroes of his wars.

"The moment now is a moment for going back to spiritual and religious traditions, about restoring and renewing Russia's historical code of values," says Igor Gladnyev, the new regional minister of culture, youth policy and mass communication, his voice echoing through the empty café of the city's biggest hotel. "Some would call this conservatism. I would call it common sense."

But Mr. Gelman says the move against Perm is a microcosm of how the state has tightened control over how Russians think about themselves, substituting any desire to be part of Europe and the West with a belief in Russian exceptionalism and an accompanying willingness to stand alone.

"It's like some kind of conservative cultural revolution," he explains during an interview in Budva, the resort town on Montenegro's Adriatic coast where he now lives. "They are going back to the past, saying everything modern is bad, and everything old is good. In this way, the [Communist] revolution is a good thing, the monarchy was a good thing, and Stalin's labour camps were also good."

Same story, new script

Sergey Kovalev still remembers how the cold got into his bones - how guards told prisoners their barracks were warm enough, even as ice coated the inside walls - while he was an inmate in Perm-36, one of the lesser-known spots in the Soviet Union's infamous gulag archipelago.

Now, four decades later, Perm-36 is in the process of forgetting him.

Mr. Kovalev, one of the Soviet Union's more famous dissidents, spent seven years at the labour camp after being arrested in 1975 for publishing a samizdat journal chronicling human-rights abuses.

After the Soviet collapse, he was among the founders of Memorial, a group that took over the management of Perm-36 and preserved it as a museum, a lonely testament to the horrors of a system that swallowed millions of citizens.

For 20 years, Perm-36 was simultaneously ignored, tolerated and partly funded by the state.

But it was never promoted as an important tourist attraction, and the government never bothered to improve the potholed dirt road from the city to the camp, making the 120-kilometre trip a forbidding 2 1/2 hour journey.

Now the state, which was renting the site to the human-rights activists, has taken charge of the museum("which had already stopped accepting grants from abroad to avoid being labelled a "foreign agent"). These days, Perm-36 is directly controlled by the regional ministry of culture, which seeks to tell a "neutral" story of what happened there, giving the testimony of prison guards equal weight with that of inmates.

The Soviet authorities, visitors are now told, had reasons for doing what they did.

To a first-time visitor, the tour given today at Perm-36 seems thorough enough. The violence and repression of the Stalin era are grimly illustrated with statistics and maps. Nothing is glossed over about the backbreaking work done here, or the claustrophobic isolation cells. For inmates who broke the camp's often-inane regulations, "outdoor time" simply meant being escorted to another small room, this one with barbed wire for a roof.

Only if armed with Mr. Kovalev's recollections can you spot how the story is now told differently. In the new version, the prisoners' cells were warmer, the beds softer and the guards less cruel than Mr. Kovalev remembers.

"Sometimes the prisoners just wanted to find reasons to complain. But in the 1970s and eighties, the conditions were okay," says burly tour guide Sergey Spodin. A former member of the Red Army, he remembers that his unit used to conduct shooting drills outside the barbed wire that surrounded Perm-36, knowing it would scare those inside, whom, they'd been told, were enemies of the state.

And some really were Russia's enemies, Mr. Spodin insists.

Perm-36 held members of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, the militia founded by Stepan Bandera that briefly fought alongside the Nazis, and against the Red Army, during the Second World War. More than 50 years after he was assassinated by the KGB, Mr. Bandera has been resurrected by Kremlin-controlled media as the core reason for Russia's involvement in Ukraine.

Today, his collaboration with the Nazis has been exaggerated to the point that in Russia his name has the same ring as Hitler's. Russia claims it needed to annex the Crimean Peninsula to save residents from Mr. Bandera's modern followers, portrayed as having genocidal intentions toward those who speak Russian rather than Ukrainian. The Kremlin-supported separatist armies of eastern Ukraine's Donetsk and Lugansk regions say they are fighting for freedom from the "fascist Banderites" who now rule in Kiev.

As Mr. Spodin continues his tour, it becomes clear that Perm-36 was brought under state control not to hide what happened here, but to make sure the story being told fits in with the government's narrative about the war in Ukraine. As in Soviet times, not even a museum is allowed to challenge the official version of the truth.

"What's happening to the museum is the same as what's happening to Perm, is the same as what's happening to the entire country," Mr. Gelman says.

Known by another name

Perm could have been famous, were it not for the Russian literary tradition of bestowing pseudonyms on cities.

Set in the forest approach to the Urals, which separate Russia's European and Asian halves, the city was founded by Catherine the Great during her 18th-century quest to secure Russia's influence over Siberia. Perm has been identified as the "uncultured and behind-the-times" town that playwright Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters are desperate to escape, and novelist Boris Pasternak set part of his Nobel-winning Dr. Zhivago here, although he called it Yuriatin.

During the Cold War, Perm sank deeper into anonymity as one of the Soviet Union's closed cities.

Its Motovilikha artillery plant and Aviadvigatel aircraft-engine factory were deemed too sensitive for foreign eyes, and tourists came only after the Iron Curtain fell.

Today, the city is still the industrial heart of central Russia, although a rusting one. The Motovilikha and Aviadvigatel plants remain, but don't employ as many people. Part of the slack has been taken up by the oil and gas industry, but the city feels mired in stagnation. A construction crane is a head-turning sight.

Critics say Mr. Chirkunov and Mr. Gelman, neither of whom had lived in Perm, failed to grasp the region's essentially conservative and working-class nature.

Locals wanted culture that was connected to their lives, not high-brow installations that mocked institutions they respected, such as the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church.

Nikolai Novichkov worked as Mr. Chirkunov's chief of staff, and then as the region's deputy minister of culture, during the time of Project Perm. He was a supporter, until Mr. Gelman refused any censorship of an exhibit mocking the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The show included a poster showing five nooses hanging in the shape of the Olympic rings, and another depicting a snarling Stalin wearing the suit of Misha the Bear, the Sochi mascot. Mr. Gelman's gallery displayed the exhibit during the White Nights festival in the summer of 2013, ensuring the maximum number of people would see the critique of a project deeply personal to Mr. Putin.

But by then Mr. Chirkunov was gone. The exhibit was closed and Mr. Gelman fired.

The pressure then escalated when he returned to Moscow and became one of the few public figures to openly support Pussy Riot, the female punk-rock trio jailed for singing a profanitylaced, anti-Putin song in Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral. His name began to appear on "enemies of Russia" lists posted online, not far below that of Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader gunned down in February outside the Kremlin walls.

By then Mr. Gelman had already decided it was time to leave. "Until 2012, the situation was that 'if you're not with us, don't speak out, but [otherwise] you can do what you want.' " After Mr. Putin's return to the presidency, however, "it became 'You are with with us or against us and, if you are against us, you will have problems.' There was no more place for neutrality."

It was quite a comeuppance for a man who had played a key role in Mr. Putin's rise to power 15 years before. In 1999 and 2000, Mr. Gelman was the deputy director of state television, tasked with the sensitive project of introducing Russians to Mr. Putin and convincing them that this previously unknown man was the solution to the country's many problems.

He succeeded, helping to orchestrate fawning media coverage of such stunts as Mr. Putin piloting a fighter jet into Grozny during the war in Chechnya. But by the end of his first four-year term in the Kremlin, the President's evident authoritarian streak had begin to concern Mr. Gelman. He left politics and focused on his Moscow gallery until Mr. Chirkunov lured him to Perm.

"I think that, yes, [Mr. Gelman] made a mistake. ... He gave them a reason to fire him," Mr. Novichkov now says of the ill-fated Sochi show. "I think, if you're going to put on an exhibit that a million people will see, you have to take into account the opinion of the Putin Majority."

That majority, Mr. Novichkov explains, is the 63 per cent of Perm who voted for Mr. Putin in 2012, and the much greater share who back him now on the annexation of Crimea and the standoff with the West. They are the ordinary Russians who feel their lives have improved economically over the 15 years of Mr. Putin's rule, and who support him politically in exchange.

The Western sanctions imposed since the start of the conflict in Ukraine have yet to alter that social compact. Italian cheese and French mineral water have disappeared from store shelves and restaurant menus in Perm as elsewhere("Russian countersanctions ban most Western agricultural products), and residents keep a keen eye on the bouncing value of the ruble, now worth about 40 per cent less than a year ago. But Russians are known for stoic suffering, and Mr. Novichkov says that most blame the West, not their own government, for the conflict in Ukraine, and for the sanctions. His own understanding of the Putin Majority perhaps explains why he now has a high-ranking post in the capital.

"Some call it self-censorship, I call it marketing. No one denies that you have to know your audience and how they will perceive your art," he explains, sitting in a Moscow café. "I feel strongly that the Putin Majority are inclined to like this imperial state of mind. Being an empire is comfortable, and the annexation of Crimea is an act of being an empire."

'Soviet Union 2.0'

Sergey Kurginyan rejects the idea that the Kremlin is guiding Russia back to the past. Instead, the leader of a neo-Soviet movement called Essence of Time says the government has changed course to be in line with the majority.

Mr. Kurginyan is proud of the role Essence of Time played in the state's takeover of Perm-36, a move he says was essential to ending the "anti-Soviet propaganda" that was weakening Russia's sense of national identity.

Essence of Time is a new force in Russian politics. Mr. Kurginyan is an old one. Now 65, he was a gadfly in the last days of the Soviet Union, telling anyone who would listen that Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika program was part of a CIA plot.

Later, Mr. Kurginyan became part of the leftist reactionary movement that challenged thenpresident Boris Yeltsin's hold on power; he was inside Russia's White House when Mr. Yeltsin ordered tanks to fire on it in 1993 during his deadly power struggle with the Communist-dominated parliament.

After that, Mr. Kurginyan was confined to the political fringe.

But the ideas he championed - he says he is hoping to see a "Soviet Union 2.0" - never went away. He took to posting lectures on YouTube. Despite their dry content("most feature Mr. Kurginyan just sitting at a desk and talking into the camera), some gained over 100,000 views. Most popular have been his recent lectures on why the Kremlin was right to seize Crimea, and why it should do more to support the separatist armies in Donetsk and Lugansk.

Mr. Kurginyan appears to have captured the political zeitgeist by working to reconcile two powerful forces that have long been in conflict: the Communist Party and the Russian Orthodox Church.

In 2012, when the streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg were filled with tens of thousands of protestors, Mr. Kurginyan called for his online followers to defend Mr. Putin. They did, forming the backbone of a big pro-Putin rally, which Mr. Kurginyan opened by telling the crowd that "patriotic forces" needed to save the country.

Mr. Kurginyan believes the episode taught Mr. Putin that his support base was not the Moscow liberals who wanted the country to be friends with the West, but the deeply conservative millions who lived in the rest of the country.

Twenty years after his political career seemed over, Mr. Kurginyan was back with an army of motivated, Internet-savvy young people. And the Kremlin owed him a favour.

He says Essence of Time was responsible for starting the petition that led to a 2013 law banning U.S. citizens from adopting Russian children. He's also an outspoken supporter of the law against "homosexual propaganda" that Mr. Putin signed the same year.

After those victories, Mr. Kurginyan and his movement turned to Perm-36, unleashing an Internet campaign against the former prisoners who ran it. The local chapter of Memorial says that it was Essence of Time who pushed the government to run the museum.

"It was not a museum of history; it was a museum of propaganda, of anti-Soviet propaganda," Mr. Kurginyan now says, claiming - as the official tour guides now do - that conditions were not that bad. "This prison was the best in the whole Soviet Union."

While some historians say nearly 40 million people passed through the gulag system, Mr. Kurginyan says the real number is closer to 700,000. In Germany, questioning the extent of the Holocaust is a crime. In Russia, saying the gulags weren't so bad is now mainstream.

Mr. Kurginyan says only two ideologies can control Russia - extreme nationalism, which risks turning into facism, or a neocommunism that resurrects what he calls "the good in the Soviet Union."

The new Soviet Union, he says, would necessarily include territories populated by Russian-speakers beyond Russia's current borders. An aide says Essence of Time has actively been recruiting volunteers to help fight the Ukrainian army in Donetsk and Lugansk.

Despite Western accusations that Mr. Putin has become a dictator, Mr. Kurginyan says the President still needs and actively seeks popular support.

"If you have an anti-Soviet ideology in modern Russia, [to rule] you would have to be some military person who kills all the communists," Mr. Kurginyan says, reclining with a smile at the end of a two-hour interview that was much like listening to one of his lectures. "Putin is not as Soviet as I am. But he wants to be elected."

'Like 1936 in Germany'

Instead of the White Nights festival that briefly drew crowds of tourists, Perm this year held Kaleidoscope, a much smaller offering focused on an amusement park stuffed with roller coasters and shoot-'em-up games in the city's central Gorky Park.

At the park's entrance, there is a canvas military tent where visitors can listen to a soundtrack of falling bombs mixed with martial music - and cries of "Glory to Stalin" - as they peruse 70 blackand-white photos from the war("which in the Russian telling began with Nazis invading the Soviet Union in 1941).

In most of the photographs, Soviet soldiers are driving back the enemy, or relaxing behind the lines. Only one shows someone killed in the fighting.

Many of those who visit the tent wear the orange-and-black ribbon that has - in its most recent resurrection - come to imply support for Mr. Putin and his policies in Ukraine. On the average street in Perm("or Moscow), half the cars and buses that pass will have an orange-andblack ribbon hanging from their rearview mirror.

"It feels like all the tragedy is gone and we only have success and this balloon of celebration.

This is a problem, because it makes it seem as though war is good," says Nailya Allakhverdieva, who took over the Perm Museum of Contemporary Art after Mr. Gelman left.

The gallery has moved from the River Station premises - which the regional government declared officially derelict - to a smaller location far from the city centre. While Ms. Allakhverdieva prefers a lower-key and less provocative approach, the museum remains a hub of alternative thought.

"War won't come if we all say no," reads a message painted on the sidewalk outside the main entrance.

But Mr. Gelman thinks more war is coming. "People who were perfectly normal yesterday are going crazy today, saying 'Crimea is ours!' " he says as he walks through the quiet cobblestoned streets of his new home in Montenegro. "It's like 1936 in Germany. By 1939, everyone could see what was going on. But in 1936 there were still intellectuals who were rationalizing, explaining that Germans really did need Lebensraum" - more room to live.

In Mr. Gelman's telling, the closure of Project Perm and the state takeover of Perm-36 are akin to what the Nazis did in the 1930s: burning any books that didn't fit their official ideology.

"For them, culture is an instrument of propaganda. An artist is just a hooligan - you have to limit and control them, to tell them what they can and cannot do. In fact, it would be better if there were no artists at all."

The trouble with 'Banderites'

The guided tour of Perm-36 is exactly the same as 12 years ago("when I took it while on vacation with friends) - except for one room.

They call it the Black Room now, and it's behind a padlocked door, avoided by the guides. The walls are covered with the biographies and photos of some of Perm-36's most famous inmates, including Mr. Kovalev, the human-rights activist. Also honoured were two heroes of the Ukrainian nationalist movement: poet Vasyl Stus, who died in a hunger strike and is buried inside Perm-36, and Levko Lukyanenko, who survived to co-author Ukraine's declaration of independence and to serve as the new nation's first ambassador to Canada.

A senior member of the museum's new management team, speaking on the condition of anonymity, says neither man should ever have been celebrated in public, and the Black Room will reopen only when it no longer features "Banderites."

"If we talk about the gulag and political repressions, we have to consider the context that created the situation on the territory of the Soviet Union," says Mr. Gladnyev, the minister of culture.

"It's not a question of avoiding something, or of bias. But within the framework of historical events there were people who helped the fascists, and committed crimes. And there were those who protected their homeland and thought about the future."

Those involved in running it before the state takeover say that, without the material in the Black Room, Perm-36 has lost its meaning.

"The museum was dedicated to the political prisoners," says Robert Latypov, who heads the Perm chapter of Memorial. "Now they say: 'If you had Banderites in this prison, then the museum is a Banderite museum.' It's pure manipulation."

He, like Mr. Gelman, sees the takeover as one of the last acts in Russia's slide back to totalitarianism. "The process is almost over.

The media is almost completely under control. Our power structure is purely vertical. In the regions, the governors don't answer to the local communities.

They answer to just one person," he says, pointing up at his ceiling. "I'm sure that someone's listening to us at this very moment.

I don't doubt it."

Now 85 and living in anonymity in Moscow's suburbs, Mr. Kovalev, the former inmate, is even harsher in his assessment.

"The differences between Putin's Russia and Stalin's time are just one. There are not mass political repressions. The victims of the gulag camps were millions.

Now the number of political arrests are just a few hundred," he says, his voice filled with the anger of someone who has spent decades issuing warnings that few have heeded.

"But the nature of this state hasn't changed one bit."

Mark MacKinnon is The Globe and Mail's senior international correspondent, based in London.

Associated Graphic

Room with a view: This is what passed for going 'outside' if inmates at Perm's notorious gulag broke a rule. Now conditions at the camp have been reassessed - and deemed not all that bad.

Street performers parade through a park in Perm: The annual White Nights arts festival drew both participants and visitors from

Musicians at the Perm Opera Ballet Theatre: Officials now say residents didn't want art that pushes the envelope.

m far and wide - until Vladimir Putin returned as Russia's President.

A display of photos from the Second World War, which Russia now seems to think didn't begin until it was invaded.

Soviet-era posters at the gulag museum, which one critic now accuses of having been dedicated not to history but to 'anti-Soviet propaganda.'

Artillery on display at one of the arms plants that made Perm off-limits to outsiders until the Soviet Union fell.

The Riding
Mississauga Centre is a microcosm of modern Canada, and a key bellwether: suburban, diverse, and inclined to back political winners. John Ibbitson reports on what it will take to succeed here - and what that tells us about an election that is very much up for grabs Photography by Aaron Vincent Elkaim for The Globe and Mail
Saturday, August 22, 2015 – Print Edition, Page F1

MISSISSAUGA -- Because Joab, 4, and Zeervia, 2, managed to get more of their dinner on them than in them, their father, Elvis Malcolm, cleans up as he explains why he plans to vote for Stephen Harper.

Other party leaders "say a lot, but don't deliver," Mr. Malcolm, a personal-fitness trainer, tells a reporter who is interrupting the family's evening meal. He values the child-care benefit that arrives each month courtesy of the Harper government. He believes the Conservatives have managed the economy well.

"They've moved the country forward."

Just a few doors down the street, Judy MacDonald is finally getting home after her 90-minute rush-hour commute from downtown Toronto, where she works as a dental assistant. Mr. Harper will never, ever have her vote, especially now that the Conservatives have introduced an income-splitting tax benefit.

"I'm a single mother, so I don't have anyone to split the income with," Ms. McDonald explains. She is still trying to make up her mind whether to vote for the New Democratic Party's Thomas Mulcair or Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.

Mr. Malcolm and Ms. MacDonald may not agree on much, but with Canada's 42nd federal election campaign well under way, the two have one thing in common: They live in a riding like no other, one that is a microcosm of modern Canada, located in a region with a tradition of backing whichever party forms the government.

It has been three weeks since Mr. Harper - soon after Mr. Malcolm and millions of parents like him had received back payments for increased child benefits (a $3-billion handout that critics called blatant vote-buying) - asked Governor-General David Johnston to dissolve Parliament and call an election for Oct. 19.

At 78 days, the campaign will be the longest in 143 years, likely the costliest ever and, for the first time in this country's history, a three-way race for power that is too close to call.

Mr. Harper is bidding to become the first party leader since Wilfrid Laurier to win four consecutive mandates. Thomas Mulcair is hoping to be the first New Democrat ever to lead the nation. And Justin Trudeau wants to restore the Liberal Party to its historic place at the top of the greasy political pole; that would require a herculean feat (the Liberals flirted with extinction after the last election), but the polls suggest that any of the three leaders could succeed.

This election falls in the midst of uncertain times. In July, Canadians learned that, with oil prices still down, the economy had shrunk for the fifth month in a row and may already be in recession. The military is battling radical insurgent Islamists in the Middle East amid a heated debate over how much power security forces should be given to detect and prevent attacks on the home front. Pressure is becoming so great to have Ottawa seriously tackle the challenge of climate change that the Conservatives find themselves on the defensive as environmental laggards.

Just three months ago, Mr. Harper's home province cast aside almost a half-century of Progressive Conservative rule to embrace, astonishingly, the NDP.

Across the country, incumbents have been ousted in four of the last six provincial elections, and a conservative party hasn't won since doing so in Saskatchewan in November, 2011, six months after Mr. Harper's last victory.

As a result, the prospect of federal change is now in the air with the polls so close - the latest weekly tracking poll from Nanos Research puts the three major parties in a virtual tie - that the contest has been heated since the moment it was called. All three are battling to defend the ridings they have, and to seize any they can from their rivals.

If there is one riding equipped to foreshadow how close the outcome of this perplexing election may be, it is Mississauga Centre.

Although its name may be familiar - the old Mississauga Centre disappeared in a redistribution more than a decade ago - it is new for this election, made of turf poached from four of its neighbours.

And it is a bellwether at birth.

New seats, in swing territory

Of course, every riding counts in an election. But in Canada, different regions have a tendency to cancel each other out.

Quebec is volatile, but for the past quarter-century has supported whichever party forms the opposition (first the Bloc Québécois, then the NDP). The Liberals are traditionally strong in Atlantic Canada and in most city centres across the country, where they battle the NDP for dominance. The Conservatives own the Prairies and rural Southern Ontario.

But Canada is no longer either urban or rural: It is a suburban nation. According to a 2014 study headed by David Gordon, director of the School of Urban and Regional Planning at Queen's University, two-thirds of all Canadians live in suburbs.

The two regions where large numbers of ridings swing from one party to another - deciding elections in the process - are both suburban: the belts wrapped around Vancouver and Toronto.

Of the two, the latter - known collectively as the 905, for its area code - is more important only because it has almost twice as many seats (22 or so, depending on how you count) as the former.

How significant is the 905? In almost every election since 1968, the majority of the ridings from Oshawa in the east, north to the shore of Lake Simcoe and west to Burlington have gone to the party that formed the government.

In a rare exception, most of the 905 stayed Liberal in 2006, when Mr. Harper first came to power with a weak minority government. Five years later, when he finally secured a majority, almost every riding in the 905 went Tory blue. The progress of Conserva...

tive power is told in the party's increasing success in Greater Toronto.

Now there is an opportunity for even more 905 blue - the result of a historic expansion of the House of Commons. For decades, suburban populations were underrepresented in the Commons.

Constitutional guarantees and ancient bias in favour of preserving the country's rural roots meant that places like Prince Edward Island were allocated four seats, while single ridings in places such as greater Toronto or Vancouver had almost as many voters as the entire Island.

To remedy the injustice, the Harper government introduced legislation that will grow the House by 30 seats in this election.

Ontario gets 15 new seats, nine of them in the 905, including the new Mississauga Centre.

But Mississauga Centre is special, even if at first glance it seems anything but. With a population of just over 118,000 (still almost as many voters as in all of PEI), it is the heart of a community that, perhaps more than any other, exemplifies modern Canada.

Old suburb, new suburb

Mississauga's civic motto begins "Pride in our past." The city is named for the indigenous people who once lived along the Credit River. No longer able to resist the tide of European settlement, the Mississaugas moved to a new home (provided by the Six Nations Confederacy) near Brantford. In the early 1800s, the land they left behind became the Township of Toronto, not that long before a city with the same name was incorporated a few miles to the east.

For a century the township was largely farmland punctuated by such quiet villages as Erindale, Malton, Clarkson, Port Credit and Streetsville. After the Second World War, however, the farms began to disappear, and then the villages, replaced by what downtowners sniffily call suburban sprawl. With the influx of commuters, several communities combined in 1968 to create the Town of Mississauga, which expanded into a city six years later. By 1976 it had a population of 250,000, consisting mostly of vast tracts of bungalows, strip malls and supermarkets, with wide streets to accommodate all the commuters' cars.

Now, four decades later, that older developed area anchors the southern portion of the city, but the population has tripled to 750,000: multicultural, doubleincome, mobile, wired, suburban and middle-class. And the heart of the community lies a bit to the north, in Mississauga Centre.

The riding begins just east of Square One, one of the country's biggest shopping malls; runs west to the Credit River, the last bastion of the Mississaugas; and is divided in half horizontally by the perpetually humming Highway 403. And it contains the downtown that Mississauga has long been said to lack: a complex jump-started by the local government near Square One that includes a civic centre (with a postmodern city hall, municipal art gallery and wedding chapel), as well as a central library and a performing-arts centre, all ringed by built-yesterday condominiums dominated by two beautiful, curvaceous glass towers nicknamed "the Marilyn Monroes."

Nearby is the Hazel McCallion campus of Sheridan College, named after the iconic mayor who retired last fall after 36 years in office. North and west of the new downtown, the homes are generally newer, larger and more substantial than those to the south: brick houses with oversized garages, and new semis.

A lost 'sense of tightness'

Who actually lives in these homes? As it turns out, we have a very good idea.

By combining census data, other publicly available information databases and social-values surveys, even building permits and satellite images, market-research firm Environics Analytics has sliced up the Canadian population by postal code into no fewer than 68 categories, from "cosmopolitan elite" and "country acres" to "aging in suburbia." (You can find their assessment of your postal code at

Environics also assesses how these people feel, and found that Mississauga Centrans embrace such values as concern for the environment and enthusiasm for new technology, as well as empathy, tolerance and racial diversity. The last of those makes sense, since, like the rest of the 905, the riding has a very large immigrant population. Sixty-one per cent of Mississauga Centre's residents were born outside Canada, and what Statscan calls "visible minority" residents make up a slightly larger portion - 67 per cent - of the population. They are part of the 21 per cent of Canadians, almost seven million souls, who were born elsewhere.

The roughly 250,000 immigrants a year that Canada has been bringing in for more than two decades - the equivalent, over that period, of two Torontos - are almost all from developing countries, and, like most Canadians, they gravitate to the suburbs.

But their attitudes are anything but uniform, observes Rupen Seoni, a vice-president at Environics Analytics. "There is diversity there - but there is diversity within diversity."

Environics says Mississauga Centre is dominated by eight of the 68 groups, most of them composed of middle-class immigrants, though with plenty of variation from lower- to uppermiddle class, depending on the neighbourhood. There are new arrivals, who are well-educated but have modest incomes and are just starting to climb up the social ladder; "sophisticated singles" and upscale couples; and established families, again often affluent, whether newcomers or native-born.

About a quarter of the riding's population is South Asian (principally from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka), about 12 per cent of the population is of Chinese descent, and about 7 per cent Filipino. Another 7 per cent are from Arabic countries.

The fact that Mississauga is such a true melting pot continually amazes even Gurpreet Malhotra, executive director of India Rainbow Community Services of Peel, which offers settlement and other services to the immigrant community. "I can never get past how a Korean bakery will be next door to a Jamaican grocery store beside a Pakistani jeweller, and on and on and on it goes, from all sorts of backgrounds," he says. "I've not seen a mix like this even in Toronto or Vancouver."

For more than four decades, from behind his barber's chair, Joe Barillari has watched Mississauga evolve: the booming new arrivals from Toronto, the kids growing up and moving out, the parents moving on. For the past 17 years, his shop has been in Credit Woodlands, a neighbourhood near the river in the southwest part of the riding. Now, at 65, he should retire, but says he'd miss the company.

"When people get their hair cut, they talk," he says. They talk sports, they talk lottery dreams, they talk about what's going on back in the old country. They talked during the recession about the hell everything seemed to be going to in a handbasket.

Abdullah Al Hamlawi has noticed the city changing as well. Although just 18, he feels nostalgia for a time when Mississauga was "more of a family thing," the nursing student explains during a shopping trip to Square One. "It's lost that sense of tightness."

But as Mississauga just gets bigger and bigger, so does its political clout.

A mix of values

Nowhere is the progress of the federal Conservatives better represented. During the reigns of Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin, every riding in the city went Liberal red, often by huge margins.

In the 1997 and 2000 elections, Carolyn Parrish took the old Mississauga Centre for the party with 65 per cent of the vote.

When the riding was broken up in 2004, she ran in MississaugaErindale and defeated her Conservative opponent by 12,000 votes, only to be expelled from the caucus for making controversial anti-American remarks. Her successor held the riding in 2006, when Mr. Harper came to power, but two years later lost it narrowly (by fewer than 400 votes) and then was beaten handily (by more than 8,000 votes) attempting a comeback amid the 2011 Conservative sweep.

Polling data from that election for the areas that now make up Mississauga Centre reveal that the Conservatives would have won the new riding as well, although by only 2,000 votes. They would have taken 42 per cent of the vote, versus 37 per cent for the Liberals and a respectable 19 per cent for the NDP.

What will happen this time?

According to the Environics research, the eight groups that dominate the riding generally place a high emphasis on social cohesion and the need to save money. These are values associated with the Conservatives, whose ability to connect with these middle-class, suburban newcomers is why they currently hold every riding in Mississauga.

The magnitude of that accomplishment shouldn't be underestimated. Around the developed world, conservative parties are generally seen as anti-immigrant.

And in Canada, for generation after generation, immigrants, mostly from Europe - fleeing war and poverty, arriving with the proverbial five dollars in their pocket - supported the Liberal Party, which encouraged them to come here, helped them get settled, and gratefully accepted their vote. As late as 2000, according to one election study, 70 per cent of all immigrant voters supported the Liberal Party.

But today, most new Canadians come from Asia and the Pacific (India, China and the Philippines are the three largest source countries). The selection process ensures that they have a good education and decent job prospects.

Polling data suggest that their economic and social values (low taxes, law and order) align closely with those of the party - a synergy that tilts Mississauga Centre in Stephen Harper's favour.

But there are also buttons the progressive parties could push.

Tihang Tran, who arrived from Vietnam 10 years ago, works as an administrative assistant in an office building, and dreams of escaping the condominium where she and her husband are raising a nine-month-old son - "They don't let children run around" - and owning a home.

Her biggest concern? "It is very hard to find daycare." And because she wants the very best for her son, she says politicians should "spend on the future of education." Ms. Tran is tailormade to vote for the Liberals or the NDP, which has pledged to bring in subsidized daycare. But the truth is, she knows little about Justin Trudeau or Thomas Mulcair - she just doesn't follow politics.

Legions of new Canadians like Ms. Tran should flock to one opposition party or the other, but don't. Postelection surveys in 2011 showed that, the longer they have been here, and the more affluent they have become, the more likely they are to cast a ballot - and the more likely that ballot will be for a Conservative.

To take Mississauga Centre, the NDP or Liberals either must win back these voters, or persuade more of the others to get involved on their behalf. One problem: Many so-called "landing-pad" immigrants live in apartment buildings or condo towers. That makes it much harder for candidates to reach them through the traditional method of doorknocking - which, in turn, makes advertising and, increasingly, contact through social media even more crucial to their success.

The combatants

Omar Alghabra is back. The 45year-old Saudi-born mechanical engineer who inherited Mississauga-Erindale from Ms. Parrish in 2006 is contending for the Liberals for the fourth consecutive election - fighting for a riding in part fashioned from the one he lost.

Now teaching at Toronto's Ryerson University, he believes the election is about the economy: "Even those who have a job have a sense of anxiety about their jobs."

There are other issues, of course. As he spends a pleasant morning canvassing the northern part of the riding - new semidetached, two-storey brick houses with prominent garages - concerns at the door range from property taxes, speed bumps, the new provincial sex-education curriculum and exorbitant rates for car insurance to the evils of gay marriage and godlessness in general.

But over and over again, conversations circle back to jobs and taxes. The economy has been a defining issue in politics ever since the recession of 2008-09. It's what matters most to Arcadio Parinas - the sort of voter Mr. Alghabra simply must win over.

He is a 32-year-old informationtechnology professional whose wife works in health care. They plan on having children some day, but right now they and their friends "are just focused on our careers." Mr. Parinas came to Canada from the Philippines when he was 5, voted Conservative in the last election, and inclines that way again.

To win, Mr. Alghabra must get him to switch - and the millennial professional is intrigued by the Liberal proposal to cut taxes on middle-income earners like himself, while raising them on high incomes. Echoing Mr. Alghabra, he says, "We just want government to keep our jobs secure and our taxes low." And he, too, wants to hear how the parties are going to help with daycare costs, when the time comes.

The New Democrats are represented by Farheen Khan, who gets a good response when she door-knocks on a rainy evening in Credit Woodlands, seeking names for a petition in support of her party's daycare pledge. The 34-year-old has managed a women's shelter, and already won recognition for her work advocating for women's rights. But her team is demonstrably less well-organized than their Liberal counterpart.

The NDP campaigners use clipboards; the Liberals have iPads.

In fact, until recently, the NDP considered Mississauga less than crucial to its electoral prospects.

The best hope for a New Democratic government, strategists speaking on background maintained, would come not from the 905, but by marrying the party's Quebec base to major gains in British Columbia's Lower Mainland.

That may be because, until now, the battle in the 905 has been red versus blue. But with the NDP now tied with or, in some polls, even ahead of the Conservatives and Liberals, the party has shifted its focus. Mr. Mulcair campaigned in the 905 in late July and will be holding a rally in Mississauga on Monday. There, he will be introduced by Ms. Khan. Mississauga Centre, and ridings like it, are now squarely in the party's crosshairs.

The Conservatives are represented by Julius Tiangson, a financial consultant who, like Mr. Parinas, was born in the Philippines. He declined repeated requests for an interview, but according to his campaign website, Mr. Tiangson arrived in Canada in 1985, and has devoted many years to working with, and advocating for, fellow newcomers.

According to a profile in Munting Nayon, an online Filipino news site, he is "a practising Christian and a former church minister" who originally settled in Saskatchewan before moving to Ontario, where he founded the Gateway Centre for New Canadians in Mississauga, which offers settlement and support services.

According to Mr. Tiangson's website, he and his family "believe in serving God, serving people and serving our community together."

The fight for Canada's soul

Politically active or not, the people of Mississauga Centre agree that their community is a splendid place in which to live and work - a great incubator where starter homes are relatively affordable, a launch pad for anyone determined to make it, a uniquely Canadian cosmopolitan community.

"Just tell them Mississauga is beautiful," Joy Mag, yet another Philippine-born resident, calls over her shoulder as she hurries to pick up her children from swimming lessons. "Everyone should live here."

But for Mr. Malhotra, of India Rainbow, one of the challenges of Mississauga Centre is that many "haven't had the opportunity to be fully a part of the Canadian conversation.

"Whether it concerns sexual orientation or mental health or a number of things, people say, 'No, no - we don't have that, we don't do that, we don't go there.' " Such social conservatism may put them at odds with the nativeborn population. "I don't think it's terribly healthy," he worries.

Even so, newcomers also worry about the cost of daycare, and education, and the environment and global warming. The policies that brought them or their parents here are part of Canada's progressive, not conservative, tradition. If Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair want to win, they must convince these voters of the need for change without disturbing their ambitions and their socially conservative core.

Mr. Hamlawi, the young nursing student, will probably vote NDP, since he detests what he sees as the authoritarian and inequitable policies of the Harper government; and he is appalled that the Trudeau Liberals backed Bill C-51, the Conservatives' anti-terrorism legislation.

His friend, Ryan de Silva, is less exercised by politics, although he, too, is unlikely to back the Conservatives, "because they have been in power for so long. If the Liberals had been in power for that long, I probably wouldn't vote for them either."

But Stephen Harper has Tanveer Farooqi's vote. He came to Canada from Pakistan in 2001 and believes only the Conservatives can be trusted to keep criminals and terrorists at bay. "It was hell there and, if we're not careful, it will be hell here, too," he warns, heading to his car in a grocerystore parking lot.

This bedrock desire for stability is expressed over and over again in Mississauga Centre, and is the Conservative advantage. But that advantage may not be sufficient.

Polls show that, after a decade of Conservative government, voters are growing weary of Mr. Harper's face. There is a great desire for change in the electorate, and that desire could overwhelm all other considerations.

Joe Barillari says he sees the clash between conservative values and a desire for change in his barber shop. The men who sit in his chair, he says, give the Prime Minister credit for getting the country through tough times, but they're also intrigued by the Liberal leader, even if they have doubts.

Like other postwar immigrants, Mr. Barillari worshipped Mr. Trudeau's father (he arrived in Canada in 1968, the year Pierre Trudeau came to power) for promoting multiculturalism. But his customers wonder whether Justin "is not ready for prime time," as Mr. Barillari puts in - echoing the Tories' relentless attack ads.

Does this mean Mr. Harper will keep voters here loyal one more time? Will Mr. Trudeau manage to change their minds and return them to the fold? He certainly seems determined to do so; his first Ontario appearance after the election call was to unveil the Liberal campaign bus - in Mississauga. Or perhaps Mr. Mulcair, newly engaged with the 905, will persuade Mississauga Centrans to reject the past and follow Alberta's lead.

Mr. Barillari shrugs. "We have to see what happens."

Whatever does happen in Mississauga Centre and across the 905 will matter hugely on election night when, if past is prediction, the suburban heart of the nation casts the deciding vote.

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

Associated Graphic

Families gather for a film screening in Mississauga's Celebration Square. The suburban belts around Toronto and Vancouver are historically where federal elections are won or lost.

Kids ride their bikes through Mississauga with the Absolute World complex, an iconic pair of condo buildings known by locals as the Marilyn Monroe Towers, in the background.

Like many suburban communities, Mississauga residents worry about jobs - and commuting to them.

Gurpreet Malhotra, executive director of India Rainbow Community Services, points out some of his favourite local stores.


ABOVE: The riding of Mississauga Centre includes much of what constitutes a downtown core for the city. Inset map: The riding was part of a sea of Tory blue in the 2011 election, compared to a smattering of seats that went to the Liberals (shown in red) and the NDP (in orange).


Note: The voluntary National Household Survey replaced the mandatory long-form census and is considered less reliable by many in Canada's social-research community. (In Mississauga Centre, the global non-response rate to the NHS was 25.3 per cent. According to Statscan, a global non-response higher than 50 per cent means the data is of insufficient quality.)

Kids rush to the ice-cream truck in a housing complex in Mississauga.

Joe Barillari gives Dan Ahumada a trim at his barber shop, which was built over 65 years ago and is one of the oldest in Mississauga.

Trauma's calamitous echoes
The anniversary of Tina Fontaine's killing, reports Kathryn Blaze Baum, underscores how tragedy often ricochets through families
Saturday, August 15, 2015 – Print Edition, Page F1

WINNIPEG -- Charles Fontaine misses the days when his family was whole. He speaks of that time as if he can see it in his mind's eye.

But he was just a baby when he was separated from his parents and two sisters and placed in the foster-care system - an upbringing he describes as fraught with abandonment and with emotional, physical and sexual abuse.

In his 19 years, Mr. Fontaine has experienced such trauma that he cannot remember the good times; he has to close his tear-filled, bloodshot eyes and imagine them. In a rare interview, he told The Globe and Mail that the closest he has come to happiness and a sense of belonging was when he developed a relationship with his younger sister, Tina Fontaine, early last year.

Tina, 15, had been struggling with the details emerging in court related to the 2011 drugand alcohol-fuelled beating death of their father, Eugene Fontaine.

The elder Mr. Fontaine, who was already dying of cancer when he was assaulted by two men, was found dead behind a shed on a rural Manitoba reserve. The first time the siblings met was at their father's funeral.

In the spring of 2014, Tina started running away from her home in Powerview-Pine Falls, Man., where she had been living with her great-aunt, Thelma Favel, to spend time in Winnipeg. She wanted to find Charles again, he says, and connect with the piece of their father that had been missing. By July of last year, Ms. Favel had voluntarily placed Tina in Winnipeg's foster-care system in the hope she would have greater access to support services. In the capital, though, Tina found drugs and sex work.

It is a life that Charles knows all too well. He is himself a meth abuser, using needles to inject the drug, and an escort. He says he and Tina talked about getting clean together, but they never got the chance to make a real go of it.

One year ago this coming Monday, Tina's tiny body was pulled from the city's Red River by police divers who happened upon her corpse, wrapped in plastic, when they were searching for someone else's remains.

"This is a child that's been murdered," Sgt. John O'Donovan, of the Winnipeg Police Service, said in announcing her death.

"Society would be horrified if we found a litter of kittens or pups in the river in this condition. This is a child. Society should be horrified."

Tina's still-unsolved killing has reignited calls for a national inquiry into Canada's murdered and missing indigenous women, spurred public scrutiny of the province's child-welfare system, and highlighted the ways in which a struggling child can slip through the cracks. The last day the Sagkeeng First Nation teen was seen alive, she was in contact with paramedics, a Child and Family Services contract worker, and police, who did not take her into their care despite the fact that she was listed as a missing person.

The Fontaine story also serves as a reminder of how trauma can beget trauma, of how a death or disappearance can ripple through a victim's family with devastating force.

Indigenous women in Canada are far more likely to die violently or go missing than non-indigenous women, and their loved ones, in turn, can find themselves grieving one death or disappearance after the next - an experience recounted to The Globe by families across the country.

When Ottawa-based researcher Maryanne Pearce was compiling her now widely cited list of all murdered and missing women in Canada, she was taken aback at how many of the indigenous victims were related to one another. Manitoba's Osborne family lost Helen Betty Osborne, Claudette Osborne("missing since 2008) and Felicia Solomon. Sisters Laura and Bernadette Ahenakew were killed one year apart, both at age 22. Tina's relative, Cheryl Duck, was found slain at age 15 in 1987. Ms. Pearce's list goes on.

"That's one of the things that struck me so intensely," says Ms. Pearce, whose work helped to inform the RCMP's unprecedented 2014 report that found 1,181 indigenous women were killed or went missing in Canada between 1980 and 2012. "I wondered, 'How much can one family take?' " Indigenous families have endured trauma over many generations - from colonization to the Sixties Scoop and the residential school system. The last of those, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recently said, was central to a national policy aimed at committing "cultural genocide." Families were torn apart. Children were abused, stripped of their self-worth and robbed of their identity. This deeply rooted trauma resonates today, amid a litany of social ills such as poverty, poor housing conditions and unemployment.

Abuse and instability in the home, experts say, can affect the childhood development of the brain, including such things as substance dependence, response to fear, impulse control and learning. "There are real neurologic reasons why folks exposed to high doses of adversity are more likely to engage in high-risk behaviour," California's Dr. Nadine Burke Harris said in a recent TED talk that has been viewed nearly 1.5 million times.

As the anniversary of the discovery of Tina's body approaches, Ms. Favel is confronting the harsh reality that the killing has rendered the girl's loved ones - herself included - more conscious of their own mortality.

Ms. Favel, who agonizes over her decision to place Tina in care, has had suicidal thoughts. Amid the stress, her lifelong seizure disorder has worsened and she recently learned she has cancer for the second time. Tina's younger sister, Sarah, who lives with Ms. Favel, has struggled with self-harm. In her pain, Sarah had to put her schooling on hold but hopes to resume her studies this fall. Ms. Favel is doing her utmost to ensure the girl, 15, survives and thrives despite the unimaginable hand she has been dealt so far("both women are seeing counsellors). Charles's drug use has intensified and he has tried to end his life. Adding to his stress, he recently learned, via Facebook, that he has a two-year-old daughter from a relationship he had when he was drinking heavily.

"This is not the life I wanted," says Charles, who spoke with The Globe after picking up clean needles from a local health centre. "I wanted to be with my dad, with my mom, with my siblings. But I never got that. I don't even believe in God any more. I believe in hell."

A web of loss

The walls of the Sanderson home in Winnipeg are adorned with framed family photos - snapshots of a happier time, before all the death and unanswered questions. In the past four years, Betty-Ann and Oliver Sanderson have lost two sons, Clint and Dwight, a daughter named Jacqueline and Jacqueline's daughter, Simone.

Simone was deeply affected by Clint's 2011 death, which, at least in part, contributed to her rampedup drug use, the Sandersons say. Simone was killed a little over one year later, her body found in a vacant lot in the city's North End.

After the killing, Jacqueline's and Dwight's health deteriorated until they died, less than four months apart. The Sandersons say their pre-existing health conditions - a seizure disorder and a heart condition, respectively - were exacerbated by the loss of the 23-year-old woman and the stress of the police investigation("the case remains unsolved).

Now, the Sandersons are concerned about the long-term well-being of Simone's five-year-old son and of her younger brother, who at age 11 has already lost a sister and his mother - half of his immediate family. "I worry about him," Betty-Ann says of her grandson. "I don't know how he's going to turn out. Maybe one of these days it will really hit him."

Dr. Gabor Maté, a retired physician and author who specializes in addiction, stress and childhood development, says it is critical that children feel safe and loved as they confront trauma, such as the loss of a family member. "Our world view is very much shaped by our early experiences," says Dr. Maté, who spent more than a decade working with patients in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. "If you live in a world that's supportive and nurturing, bad things may happen but you'll have the sense you can handle it. But what if your sense of the world is that it's dangerous, isolating, threatening and nonsupportive? Then the death [of a loved one] is just further confirmation of what you've already learned."

He pointed to a massive investigation in the U.S. that looked at the relationship between adverse childhood experiences("ACEs) and health outcomes later in life. ACEs include abuse, neglect, a parent suffering from mental illness or substance abuse, the incarceration of a family member, and divorce.

The study - carried out in the 1990s by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente's Health Appraisal Clinic in San Diego, and based on a survey of more than 17,000 adults - found that the more ACEs people reported on the questionnaire, the more likely they were to have developed mental and physical health conditions.

Compared with a person scoring zero ACEs, someone with four ACEs, for example, is 4.5 times more likely to become depressed, 10 times more likely to have injected street drugs and 12 times more likely to make a suicide attempt.

Of course, people who score higher on the ACE test do not necessarily face addiction or mental illness, and both can exist in people who score few or no ACEs. Predisposition to certain conditions can be inherited, and some of the ACEs a child confronts may actually be symptomatic, for example, of a parent's depression or addiction. Even still, the numbers are a sobering reminder that ACEs at least increase the risk of health problems.

"Adverse experiences don't just add up, they actually multiply each other," Dr. Maté explains.

"The good thing is there are good people working hard everywhere I go. There are people who want to make a difference."

'Norma is my angel now'

Amid the tangles of loss, there are survivors working to break them.

Judy Maas and some of her siblings spent time in and out of the foster-care system in B.C., beginning with the Sixties Scoop, when child-welfare workers across the country removed thousands of indigenous children from their homes and placed them with non-indigenous families. She grew up around domestic violence and substance abuse. One of her brothers was murdered; another died on the streets, battling addiction. One of her sisters died of breast cancer. Another sister, 35-year-old Cynthia Maas, was slain by a serial killer in 2010 and found in a park in Prince George. One of her cousins was murdered. These days, she is concerned about another cousin, who was close to Cynthia, because the woman suffers from addiction and is "wandering the streets of Prince George."

Despite all this - in fact, because of it - Ms. Maas has made it her life's work to ensure that people like Cynthia, who was struggling with drug use, get the support they need to overcome addiction.

"Everyone entered their own hell," Ms. Maas, a health director at Splatsin Health Services, on a B.C. reserve, said when discussing the impact of her sister's killing on family members. "For me, it was about using my anger to make change."

C.J. Julian, whose sister, Norma George, was found dead in an industrial area east of Vancouver in 1992, says she could well have become one of Canada's murdered or missing indigenous women. After her sister was killed, Ms. Julian's drug use accelerated and she did sex work to support her habit. She spent time at serial killer Robert Pickton's farm and ran away from there once, in 1994. Today, she is committed to maintaining her sobriety and works at a Vancouver non-profit serving those with addiction and mental-health issues.

"I know that if I was to drink and use again, there's a good chance that ... I will die from a drug overdose or be murdered by some unknown person," says Ms. Julian, who was the last in her family to see her sister alive, in the Downtown Eastside. "I feel like Norma is my angel now."

A headstone for two

On a rainy morning on the banks of the Red River earlier this month, Charles Fontaine happened to meet the Sandersons for the first time. The couple was in the area and saw a small group near the makeshift memorial honouring Tina - a pile of painted rocks, figurines, flowers and red ribbons - that still stands at the Alexander Docks despite the construction there.

The pair approached and were soon introduced to Tina's brother, who was among those gathered on the bank. It was a fated meeting, the couple believes, of two families wrestling with the fallout of unsolved killings. "I said, 'I'm sorry about your sister,' " Betty-Ann recalls. "I told him it's a terrible thing that this happens to our native girls ... There was a connection [between us] right away - a sadness, a frustration, wanting answers."

Mr. Fontaine, for his part, says he sometimes dreams Tina is still alive; sometimes he wakes up forgetting she was killed. If he could have another moment with her, he says, he would tell her he loves her and that he will always miss her. He would tell her: "You're gone to somewhere you can be safe, where you don't have to go through suffering and pain. And besides, you're with Dad again."

Mr. Fontaine says he now wants to try to be there for his sister, Sarah, but he knows he first needs to stop using. He was clean for three months until earlier this summer, he says, when he broke down at the news he had unknowingly fathered a child.

"People don't understand the pain," Mr. Fontaine says of the loss and tumult he has faced, lifting up the sleeve of his black jacket to reveal scars on his forearm from cutting. "I dream to finally be happy ... I always have to pretend to laugh."

He does not know how he will mark the anniversary of his sister's death, but at Sagkeeng, a headstone for Tina and Eugene is to be erected Monday.

The two were laid to rest at the same site, with Tina's ashes in an urn atop her father's grave.

Last weekend marked one year since Tina was last seen - a milestone that hit Ms. Favel hard because, after all this time, she has so few answers. She does not know when or how Tina died. She wants to know so many things, so badly, including details only the killer would know. As Tina drew her last breaths, the woman wonders, was she calling out for Ms. Favel's husband to protect her?

"To this day, I can't open my curtains because I still wait for Tina to come down the road," she says.

"I dream that I'll wake up and she'll be here and Eugene will be here. Both their deaths have really impacted my soul - and everybody in my family."

Kathryn Blaze Baum, a national reporter with The Globe and Mail, is part of a team covering Canada's murdered and missing indigenous women.

Associated Graphic

Charles Fontaine prepares to inject meth around the corner from the Winnipeg memorial("above right) to his sister Tina, whose portrait is kept by her aunt, Thelma Favel, at Ms. Favel's home in Sagkeeng First Nation.


Judy Maas, who has lost family members to homicide, addiction and cancer, now works in health services at the Splatsin reserve in B.C.


Betty-Ann Sanderson("right) visits a memorial in the Winnipeg parking lot where her 23-year-old granddaughter Simone("shown above as a child), was found in September, 2012.


Oliver Sanderson, husband of Betty-Ann and grandfather of Simone, has also lost Simone's mother, Jacqueline, and two sons, Clint and Dwight.


Simone Sanderson's sister Ashley("left) and her grandmother, Betty-Ann, who worries both about Simone's five-year-old son and about Simone's younger brother, who at 11 has already lost half of his immediate family: 'I don't know how he's going to turn out. Maybe one of these days it will really hit him.'


Tuesday, August 18, 2015 Tuesday, August 18, 2015

'I think that this is going to end badly'
The frantic back and forth that played out in the run-up to Duffy's TV announcement is now at the heart of the ongoing trial
Saturday, August 22, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A4

OTTAWA -- The deadline was set.

In less than 24 hours, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's top aides were expected to be heading into the weekend with the worst of the Mike Duffy affair behind them.

On the evening of Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, Mr. Harper's then chief of staff, Nigel Wright, approved a statement that had been drafted by a small handful of officials in the Prime Minister's Office.

The plan was for Mr. Duffy, then a high-profile Conservative senator who was in the eye of a media storm, to issue the statement in his name and announce Friday afternoon in Charlottetown that he would be repaying his controversial expenses.

All that was needed was Mr. Duffy's approval.

The frantic back and forth that played out in the run-up to that announcement is now at the heart of the ongoing criminal trial in which Mr. Duffy is defending himself against 31 charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

Mr. Duffy felt that as a Prince Edward Island senator, the Senate rules entitled him to claim travelrelated expenses while in the capital even though he had long owned a home and lived in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata. The Conservatives wanted him to admit that he may have made a mistake and to pay back the expenses, shutting down the controversy.

"Capitulation day" is how Mr. Duffy's criminal lawyer, Donald Bayne, has repeatedly described Feb. 22, 2013, in court. Over six days of testimony, Mr. Wright insisted the senator was an active participant.

The testimony, when combined with the detailed chain of e-mails released as evidence in the trial, provide an unprecedented behindthe-scenes look into the Prime Minister's Office, and the rushed decisions that took place during those 24 hours. According to the defence, the flurry of urgent e-mails and meetings show that Mr. Duffy was forced to take part in "a deliberately deceptive scenario designed to mislead the Canadian public."

Two years into the Conservatives' majority government, the PMO was at the height of its power. Its budget had grown to $8-million even though other departments were facing budget cuts. More than $7-million of that went to cover the cost of the office's 94 staff members, who were responsible for various divisions, including policy development, government appointments and issues management.

The Duffy trial has exposed the degree to which PMO staff manage the Conservative caucus, shaping the words the members say and the decisions they make in parliamentary committees.

The detailed plan approved by Mr. Wright would ultimately unravel, setting the stage for the chief of staff to secretly write a cheque to Mr. Duffy for $90,172.24 a month later. The RCMP and the Crown argue that this amounted to bribery on the part of the senator.

Mr. Harper has long maintained that Mr. Wright is the only government official responsible for that controversial decision. Recent testimony from Mr. Harper's lawyer at the time, Benjamin Perrin, has raised doubts about this. Mr. Perrin told the court the Prime Minister's current chief of staff and then principal secretary, Ray Novak, was also made aware of the payment even though Mr. Novak told the RCMP he was not.

But the debate around the infamous cheque all date back to what happened on Friday, Feb. 22, 2013.

The night before

"Mike is going to do this (although I don't consider that final, final until I see an e-mail from his lawyer ...)," Mr. Wright wrote on the evening of Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, in an e-mail to four senior PMO staff. Mr. Wright had talked directly with Mr. Duffy the previous evening.

Copied on the e-mail were director of issues management Chris Woodcock, director of parliamentary affairs Patrick Rogers, spokesperson Stephen Lecce and Mr. Perrin, the PMO lawyer.

Mr. Perrin would be responsible for negotiating directly with Mr. Duffy's lawyer at the time, Janice Payne.

Mr. Perrin had introduced himself by phone to Ms. Payne only the day before. He was waiting to hear back on whether she and Mr. Duffy approved of the plan.

The PMO wanted Mr. Duffy to make his announcement Friday afternoon in Charlottetown in time for the local CBC and CTV supper-hour newscasts. Adding pressure to the situation was the fact that CTV did not have a media crew in PEI at the time, meaning that the Conservatives would have to give the network a few hours' notice so it could send a camera crew from Moncton.

The PMO staff working out of the Langevin Building in Ottawa were dealing with a senator who was in PEI, meaning that all of the interactions were over the phone or through e-mail.

While Mr. Duffy grew up on the island, he had spent most of his prepolitics journalism career living in Ottawa. The Prime Minister's decision to appoint Mr. Duffy as a senator from PEI rather than Ontario in December, 2008, raised questions immediately, particularly from islanders.

Shortly after 9 p.m. Thursday, Ms. Payne responded to Mr. Perrin with a list of several new demands from Mr. Duffy. The senator wanted confirmation that his case would be withdrawn from an audit of expenses being conducted by Deloitte and that a Senate committee would state that his expenses were in order. Other requests included written assurances that he meets the constitutional requirements to sit as a senator from PEI, that his legal fees be covered and that Conservative MPs and senators stick to the PMO's media lines. Mr. Duffy also insisted that he be kept "whole" - meaning that someone else would actually pay back the money.

"This is quite the list of demands," Mr. Perrin reported back to Mr. Wright that night.

Mr. Wright generally agreed with the senator's conditions, even though at the time it was not clear how much that would cost. He wrote that the Conservative Party "is open to keeping Mr. Duffy whole since it is clear that any overpayments were innocently received."

With Mr. Wright's signoff, Mr. Perrin reached out to Mr. Duffy's lawyer just after 10 p.m. Ms. Payne wrote back, saying she could speak with him in the morning, as early as he wished.

'We are good to go from the PM'

Mr. Perrin was up early dealing with work from home even though he had booked Friday as a day off.

He fired off an e-mail to Ms. Payne at 5:14 a.m. to set up a phone call. They would not speak until about three hours later. Ms. Payne left Mr. Perrin with the impression that she and Mr. Duffy were "generally satisfied" with the plan.

Mr. Perrin then took his daughter to a yoga class for two-year-olds, which he described in court as "incredibly cute."

"I recall the day vividly because I got in quite a bit of trouble from my wife for working so much on a day off," he told the court.

Like most days in the PMO, staff were juggling several hot files. Mr. Wright was scheduled to take part in a meeting related to the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, a potential deal that was a high priority for a government focused on boosting international trade. He was also expected to sit in on the first meeting between Mr. Harper and Kathleen Wynne since she had been sworn in as Premier of Ontario earlier that month.

Later that morning, Mr. Wright made plans to contact Conservative Senator Irving Gerstein, who was in charge of the Conservative fund that would cover Mr. Duffy's expenses under the plan.

"For its part, the party would not inform anyone," Mr. Wright reported back at 11:39 a.m. in an e-mail to Mr. Perrin, Mr. Woodcok, Mr. Rogers and Mr. Lecce, which implied that Mr. Duffy should also keep quiet. He stated the party wanted to cap the cost of Mr. Duffy's legal fees at $12,000.

He then relayed a decision that would come back to cost Mr. Wright dearly.

"We need an accounting of what Sen. Duffy owes the Senate (we do not need the latter before his statement is rolled out)," he wrote. Mr. Wright had agreed to have the party cover Mr. Duffy's expenses without knowing the amount.

"I do want to speak to the PM before everything is considered final," he concluded.

About half an hour later, Mr. Wright updated the same three PMO staff: "We are good to go from the PM once Ben has his confirmation from Payne."

That e-mail, along with another Mr. Wright wrote on May 14 that "the PM knows, in broad terms only, that I personally assisted Duffy," would lead to repeated questions as to what exactly Mr. Harper knew about the deal.

However, throughout his six days in the witness box, Mr. Wright supported the Prime Minister's position that he was never told that Mr. Wright gave Mr. Duffy the money.

'Ray, I am cooked'

While the PMO was "good to go" with the plan, Mr. Duffy appeared to be having second thoughts. He reached out in an e-mail to Mr. Novak, then Mr. Harper's principal secretary, who would later replace Mr. Wright as chief of staff. No one else was copied on the e-mail.

Unlike Mr. Wright, Mr. Novak has worked closely with Mr. Harper for virtually all of his professional life.

The desperate tone of Mr. Duffy's e-mail was at odds with the reports the PMO was receiving from Mr. Duffy's lawyer that the plan was moving ahead and the senator was on board.

"Ray. I am cooked. I did nothing wrong," Mr. Duffy wrote at 12:40 p.m. The senator argued that they should be sticking with the Deloitte audit, rather than repaying now in the hope of having his case dropped by the auditors.

"This is nuts and is very hard for me to swallow," he continued.

"I swing between the team player mode and do anything for pmsh [Prime Minister Stephen Harper] and it is time for me to say phack it. Let deloitte decide."

By this time Mr. Lecce, a PMO spokesman, was getting anxious.

"In order to get into the regional broadcasts tonight (6PM AST) - we will need to give a heads-up to media ASAP, as the time zone works against us," he wrote to his colleagues just before 1 p.m.

Then, a new holdup. Mr. Duffy's lawyer wanted the deal in writing.

"I explained that was not happening," Mr. Perrin told Mr. Wright and three others in the PMO.

Mr. Wright agreed and said the senator "can have my word if he wants that."

The plan was speeding ahead.

Last-minute negotiations continued between the lawyers over details, but the PMO and Mr. Duffy's team appeared to be on the same page on the main goal.

And yet, on the side, Mr. Novak and Mr. Duffy continued to exchange e-mails. Mr. Wright would later testify that he was not aware of that side discussion.

Via e-mail, Mr. Novak urged Mr. Duffy to go ahead with the plan.

"We can put a [communications] strategy around repayment that I think will work," he wrote at 1:09 p.m. "Best to seize the initiative and not wait for audit."

Chris Woodcock and Mr. Lecce of the PMO reached out to Mr. Duffy to prepare him for his media interviews, which would start with the local CBC station's 6 p.m. news program Compass, hosted by Bruce Rainnie.

The last-ditch plea

Shortly before the interview would air, Mr. Duffy continued to make his case with Mr. Novak.

"Ray. I can't admit wrong doing," he wrote at 4:28 p.m. in what Mr. Duffy's lawyer would later describe as a last-ditch plea.

"The Senate has to meet me half way."

The original plan would go ahead. The CBC's national news network went to air with what they described as exclusive, breaking news. The network reported that Mr. Duffy contacted the CBC, volunteering for a live interview in its Charlottetown studio. The senator was announcing that he would pay back the money. The interview was quickly aired nationally.

Dressed in a navy suit with a striped tie, Mr. Duffy appeared on set with the anchor. While the senator's eyes appeared slightly red and tired, he quickly slipped into the on-air style he had honed over years as a television journalist, speaking calmly and peppering his message with winks and smiles.

"It's become a major distraction, so my wife and I discussed it and we decided that in order to turn the page and put all of this behind us, we are going to voluntarily pay back my living expenses related to the house we have in Ottawa," he said.

Minutes after the interview, PMO spokesman Andrew MacDougall sent Mr. Duffy a note of encouragement.

From Ottawa, the PMO team was watching it all unfold in real time. Not all of the team, though.

Mr. Perrin followed through with a massage appointment he had booked for his supposed day off.

Mr. Lecce wrote to his colleagues, urging them to turn on the CTV News Channel to watch Mr. Duffy's next interview.

Mr. Wright responded with a single quote from the interview.

The line had not been among the many carefully crafted sentences that were preapproved by the PMO. "I don't think I owe this money."

Clearly the problem was not over. The party balked at paying the rising cost of Mr. Duffy's expenses and the senator's resistance to paying the tab himself would ultimately lead Mr. Wright, a multimillionaire, to quietly give Mr. Duffy more than $90,000.

Efforts to have Mr. Duffy dropped from the Deloitte audit failed. The Duffy file would continue to preoccupy the small team of senior aides in the PMO for weeks as they tried to stickhandle the file through the Senate.

During his extensive testimony, Mr. Wright acknowledged that he did not fully grasp the implications of some of the decisions he had made while managing the controversy. But his early assessment of the situation, written in a Feb. 7, 2013, e-mail, has since proved accurate.

"Let this small group be under no illusion," he wrote to senior PMO aides Mr. Novak, Mr. MacDougall, Mr. Woodcock and Joanne McNamara, who was then deputy chief of staff. "I think that this is going to end badly."

Associated Graphic

The trial has exposed the degree to which PMO staff manage the Conservative caucus, including the detailed plan that was put together to pay for Mike Duffy's expenses.


Nigel Wright acknowledged during his testimony that he did not fully grasp the implications of some of his decisions.


She really really really really really really wants to
Four years after Call Me Maybe, Carly Rae Jepsen is ready to shake off the one-hit wonder label. But in an industry always busy with the next big thing, can the 29-year-old pick up where she left off? Josh O'Kane reports on a pop star's second act
Saturday, August 15, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R1

Pop debuts, like phone calls, can lodge themselves in your brain - but they're both fleeting. In dating and the music business, the follow-through is what counts. Carly Rae Jepsen knows this better than anyone. Her breakthrough single, 2011's Call Me Maybe, was an anthem for lovesick introductions that went nine times platinum in the United States alone. And before the dust even cleared, everyone had the same question: What's next?

Convention dictated an album. The one that ensued - Kiss - was a fine piece of pop, but the Juno-winning record underwhelmed when compared with Call Me Maybe's global dominance, both in sales and infectiousness. It rode the single's coattails rather than building on its legacy, and was, Jepsen admits, a rushed affair - a race against a weeks-away deadline that conformed to the industry's established rules. The dreaded one-hit wonder label was already on the tip of listeners' tongues.

Kiss was followed, however, by an unstoppable burst of creativity. From the moment she handed in the follow-up, Jepsen was "writing constantly, all the time." Her productive streak stretched for more than two years; 200 songs emerged. She worked with conventional pop songwriters and indie sound sculptors; spent three months on Broadway; took off to Sweden; and tried to write the opposite of Call Me Maybe. "I made an entire indie record no one will probably ever hear," she says in an interview. Piece by piece, though, with assists from more than two dozen co-writers and producers, hits emerged. An album came together. On Aug. 21, it will finally see its release.

The new 12-song collection, Emotion, may be garbed in mainstream style and marketing, but its execution is much broader, the product of the unlikely - but perhaps inevitable - convergence of indie sonics and pop's pomp. All of this is filtered through singularly eighties textures, equal parts Prince, Cyndi Lauper and Madonna, lending the songs an edge not before seen in Jepsen's catalogue.

Jepsen knows how easy it is to be filed away as a flavour of the week - and it's a label doubly hard to escape when surrounded by the Internet's eager chorus of naysayers and ugly industry precedents. "It's one thing to have a really hooky song that's popular for a quick amount of time, and it's another thing to have a song that's hooky, but also evokes something in you, and sticks with you," the Mission, B.C.-born singer-songwriter says. "That was my mission statement with this whole album."

Four years ago, pop called Jepsen. On Emotion, she has finally picked up. But in an industry always busy with the next big thing, she better hope that there's someone waiting on the other end of the line.

Flirtation to infatuation It wouldn't be fair to call I Really Like You a fake-out, but it is an anomaly. Emotion's first single, released this past March with a YouTube-slaying video starring Tom Hanks, is more of a callback to Jepsen's earlier, lighthearted sugar-pop. She considers it a transitional song. If Call Me Maybe is about first flirtations, I Really Like You segues to infatuation: a gateway drug to an album that examines relationships from a perspective far more adult than adolescent.

"I felt fine to lead with that single, but I think there's a lightness to that song," says Jepsen, who is 29, infectiously bubbly, and a smidge over five feet tall.

"The rest of the album has darker qualities - sometimes a bit more of a sexual thread to it. It's definitely a more mature sound than I've ever done before. That was very on purpose."

The themes on Emotion mark a conscious evolution for the songwriter, who came to light in 2007, when she placed third on Canadian Idol. She released Tug of War, the public's first fulllength introduction to her own songs, a year later on MapleMusic, earning her a pair of Juno nominations. "I listen to that with such nostalgia, because it's almost like my journal entries put to melody," she says.

"There's not really any consciousness of how to form a song."

She later signed to 604 Records, a label co-founded by Chad Kroeger where, working with Marianas Trench's Josh Ramsay, she honed a once-folky song called Call Me Maybe into a bombastic pop tune. She released it in September, 2011, in advance of a new EP; that December, Justin Bieber unleashed a tweet calling it "possibly the catchiest song I've ever heard." The rest is history: Within weeks, Bieber's manager Scooter Braun signed Jepsen to his imprint, and Call Me Maybe soared to the top of the world's charts.

Sucked into the pop-music bubble, Jepsen was tasked with recording a full-length album to ride Call Me Maybe's high. In between all the concerts and special appearances that a smash hit dictates, she moved to Los Angeles and began working in short-burst sessions with songwriters to distill her ideas into radio-ready anthems - with a two-month deadline. Engineering a hit can be a frustratingly impersonal process and on several occasions she felt left out.

"There'd be a feeling in the room, like, 'You're here for decoration, girl,' " she recalls.

Her team put an end to such sessions, but Jepsen considers the ups and downs of writing Kiss to be an educational experience. "I learned a lot about the rules of pop writing," she says.

"I think with Emotion, I'm aware of the rules and sometimes just purposely decided to break them."

Braun - her manager, Emotion's co-executive producer and an industry kingmaker - admits that Call Me Maybe's success "perhaps overshadowed" the release of Kiss. Naturally, he is deeply invested in Jepsen - and believes Emotion will ensure that she won't be defined as a onehit wonder.

"Carly has always been a great songwriter and this time she had the opportunity to make it about an album and not just a single," he told The Globe and Mail in an e-mail. "She was able to take her time and hone in on the style of music that has been inspiring her. The body of work is what shines through and she is getting to show her full talent in the process. This is one hell of an album."

High praise belies the equally high stakes riding on Emotion; the longevity of Jepsen's career depends on the world siding with Braun. To keep her name in pop's pantheon, she studied up on its history.

Back to the eighties Last June, Jepsen appeared at the annual Songwriters Hall of Fame induction ceremony in New York to cover Lauper's Time After Time and personally induct the legend into the hall. Lauper has had an indelible influence on Jepsen's own songwriting; she regularly recalls a 2013 Lauper concert in Osaka, Japan, that shifted the way she hears pop.

"She sang Girls Just Want to Have Fun, and I just remember thinking, 'God, I'd put that song out right now without changing the production or anything,' " Jepsen says. "I started digging into all of her stuff, and very much seeing something in her music that sometimes the radio music I listen to do today wasn't hitting me the same way. There was more emotion to it ... a bit more yearning and pining."

It's unsurprising, then, that her new record is flooded with the same longing sentiment, bursting synths and throbbing grooves that launched Lauper to fame in the 1980s. This direction didn't happen overnight, though. As Jepsen was furiously composing after Kiss's release, she did the L.A. rounds again, but decided to take more time with her next project.

Instead of rushing into the industry machine, she experimented with styles and song structures as she seized other opportunities, including a run as Cinderella on Broadway, where she squeezed in writing sessions between performances. "Some of the songs I needed to get out of my system before I got to the songs that you hear," she says.

Lauper's sound and emotional honesty eventually found a home in the song Emotion, which became a jumping-off point for what would become the rest of the album. "Oh, okay, this is what I want to do," Jepsen recalls. "I want to do eighties pop and make it super-emotional, and longing and yearning."

She and her guitarist, Tavish Crowe, made a long list of records they loved, and with the help of her A&R rep, John Ehmann, began to reach out to the masterminds behind them.

Many of these names were in the indie world: Records by Solange Knowles and Sky Ferreira led her to British producer Devonté Hynes, also known as Blood Orange, who brought his signature woozy synths and popping bass to the Emotion song All That. Also on the track is Ariel Rechtshaid, who had also worked with Ferreira and helped to give Haim's album Days Are Gone the eighties sheen of Fleetwood Mac's Tango in the Night.

Jepsen also recruited Vampire Weekend's Rostam Batmanglij to work on a song initially called Warm Love. When she first sang him the hook, he stopped her: "Did you say 'warm blood? " he asked. No, she said. "But imagine - that feels so good." The song took on a whole new direction. Released as a single in July, Warm Blood became a dancy, sugary, mid-tempo track with the chopped-and-screwed vocals Vampire Weekend used to great effect on Modern Vampires of the City.

But much of the album's sound was sculpted outside the confines of the traditional American borders. After finishing Cinderella, Jepsen took some demos to her publishing team, who, after hearing the eighties influence, sent her to Britain and Sweden to work with the producers who first honed those sounds.

Multiple trips to Europe ensued, particularly to the pop hub of Stockholm, as she began working with up-and-coming producers("Mattman & Robin), world-class pop craftsmen("Shellback, whose fingerprints are all over Taylor Swift's 1989) and veteran Swedish musicians("the Cardigans' Peter Svensson).

The experience was a far cry from the early sessions when Jepsen felt like mere studio decoration. "It's a rare thing to be a writer of your own music in the lane of pop," she says. "There's more and more women doing it than people are aware of, and it's nice to feel respect from your fellow writers."

In all, it took three years, 200 song ideas, nearly 30 co-writers and producers, and recording sessions in Los Angeles, New York, Stockholm and Vancouver to make Emotion happen.

Girl next door One of Emotion's only songs where Jepsen isn't the lead writer is L.A. Hallucinations. It was first conceived by Zachary Gray, a Vancouver label mate who plays in the band the Zolas. Having watched Jepsen propel to fame over their five years of friendship, he offered to write her a song, from her perspective, about the perils of sudden celebrity. "It's a song that says, 'Yeah, it's really great to be successful and famous, but at the same time I miss knowing who my real friends are,' " he says.

But Jepsen has stayed remarkably true to herself, Gray says.

"She's been marketed as a pretty accessible, girl-next-door personality, and I think that's the only thing she can possibly be, because that's who she is," he says. "I'd get super-jaded if I had the same amount of eyes on me as she does."

Where other nascent stars have fallen victim to cynicism or scandal - Emotion's co-executive producer Bieber comes to mind, though he has recently promised self-reform - Jepsen has owned her celebrity narrative by letting her work speak for itself.

And yes, much of today's pop embraces the eighties with zeal, but Jepsen has carefully tried to craft her own sound within that paradigm. Emotion's loosely R&Blaced tone fits somewhere between the lightness of Swift's 1989 and the Weeknd's second act as a modern Michael Jackson.

But Jepsen doesn't see the point in arbitrary competition; she loves both their music.

"As women, we can just support one another and appreciate what each other does as different and unique," Jepsen says of Swift, whose 1989 she holds up as flawless. And while she has cultivated a heart-on-sleeve personal brand nearly opposite to the hard-partying enigma of the Weeknd, she is thrilled about the Toronto artist's music. She has been listening to his Can't Feel My Face, which features contributions from I Really Like You co-writer Svensson, for months. "I know it's about drugs," Jepsen says, "but it was actually my anthem to myself when I got my wisdom teeth out."

Will she be able to join Swift and the Weeknd at the top of the zeitgeist? Even before Emotion's North American release, fans the world over are going rabid for it: The record has hovered near the top of the iTunes charts in Japan since it saw early release there two months ago. I Really Like You, meanwhile, has spent seven weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and has been certified gold in Canada.

Ehmann, the A&R man who helped to broker Jepsen's connections with Emotion's cast of co-conspirators, calls her determination in making the new record "unparalleled."

"She has crafted a cohesive body of work that is uncommon in pop music today," he says in an e-mail. "Emotion will stand as a testament to her artistry."

It might also be just a taste of what's to come.

"With the next record ... I can see myself just getting weirder and bigger with it," Jepsen says.

"It's a lot of fun to colour outside the lines."

Associated Graphic


Carly Rae Jepsen's new album, Emotion, channels Cyndi Lauper's longing sentiment, bursting synths and throbbing grooves.


Norway's unusual handling of its gusher of resource riches
Saturday, August 15, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B6

OSLO, CALGARY -- As world oil production outstrips demand, China's outlook darkens and prices plumb levels not seen since the Great Recession, energy-exporting countries around the world face a prolonged period of thinner revenues and deepening economic woes.

The chill winds have now reached Norway, long regarded as the world's most prudent manager of an economy heavily exposed to the ups and downs of commodity prices.

Faced with the steepest decline in oil and gas spending in a decade and a half and the biggest job losses since the global financial meltdown, the centre-right Norwegian government is pledging to tap more of the country's accumulated resource wealth in an effort to stanch the bleeding.

The sudden decline in its fortunes has put a spotlight on Norway's unusual handling of its gusher of resource cash over the years, parking 100 per cent of the government's revenue from royalties and dividends in a fund that is barred from investing a krone in the domestic economy.

It's a vastly different approach compared with Alberta and other energy producers, which set little aside from their energy windfall and are now facing bleaker fiscal and economic conditions without much of a cushion to soften the blows of tumbling oil prices.

The Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund, the province's rainyday umbrella, barely has enough capital to deal with a few scattered storms. Norway's equivalent, which was partly modelled on Alberta's when it was set up in the early 1990s, could handle a deluge of almost biblical proportions.

Consider the fortune amassed by Norway's prosperity fund.

Norway's petroleum treasure chest holds assets totalling some seven trillion kroner("$1.1trillion), making it the world's largest sovereign wealth fund.

It's a potential shock absorber of a size and scope not available to any other energy producer outside the Arabian Peninsula.

The fund has grown so huge that it now owns 1.3 per cent of the global equity market, covering more than 9,000 companies in 75 countries. At the end of 2014, its Canadian equity holdings alone totalled $12-billion("U.S.) spread across 270 companies. An equally diversified bond portfolio contains everything from more than $1-billion worth of Canadian government bonds, $100-million of Alberta paper and $38-million of Toronto municipal debentures to a smattering of Greek debt. Its only other investments are in real estate, mainly in major cities, amounting to 2.2 per cent of its assets.

There was a time when Alberta policy makers faced the same central question as Norway's.

But they came up with radically different answers.

"Do you want to have this benefit the generation that happens to be around while this is happening, or do you want to distribute the gains over multiple generations?" is the way the question is framed by Leo de Bever, the former head of Alberta Investment Management Corp., which manages $70-billion("Canadian) in Alberta assets, including the Heritage Fund.

"It depends whether you are concerned with a geographical entity called Alberta and its long-term future after oil, or whether you think we're all sort of camping out and when the oil runs out we're going to pick up stakes and move somewhere else."

Norwegians are so determined to leave something behind when the oil and gas income dries up that any effort to withdraw more money from the Government Pension Fund Global - the awkward moniker given to their prosperity fund - than the rules allow would be akin to a Canadian politician trying to change the public health care system. Despite its name, the fund has no specific pension liabilities to meet.

"What is most surprising is that in the current state, there seems to be a general consensus that the money should be kept where it is and the rules should not be changed," said Bruno Gerard, a professor of finance at the Norwegian Business School in Oslo. "So you don't hear claims [outside the oil sector] that more money should be pumped into the economy ... for the current generation. The general population thinks it's perfectly fine as it is."

Still, if the industry's troubles mount, job cuts deepen and the damage sends the sputtering Norwegian economy into reverse gear, it could test that long-standing consensus.

Under current rules, the government can withdraw no more than 4 per cent in any given year, which not coincidentally matches the fund's expected average annual real return.

"It's a flexible rule. It's not 4 per cent come whatever," said Trond Grande, the low-key deputy chief executive officer of Norges Bank Investment Management, an arm of the central bank that manages the fund.

"During the [2008] financial crisis, they went above the 4 per cent. That's how the fund functions as a kind of stabilizer, a buffer mechanism."

In her first budget last October, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said the government would transfer 3 per cent of the value of the oil fund into its budget this year - up from 2.8 per cent in 2014 - to help cover the costs of tax cuts designed to spur growth.

Now, as the official forecast of 1.3 per cent gross domestic product expansion this year and 2 per cent next year("calculated without oil and gas revenues) looks shaky, there are rumblings that the takeout could go higher.

Right-leaning politicians in Norway have argued that the withdrawal cap should be boosted to 5 per cent to put more cash to work in the domestic economy today, while others say it should be lowered to ensure there is enough capital to meet future spending needs. All operate on the thesis that the oil will stop flowing in the next couple of decades.

In the fund's early years, when oil prices were relatively low and the fund relatively small, the Oslo government could get its hands on more cash during downturns, provided it took less than the target level when the economy was expanding.

"The wiggle room actually didn't work," Mr. Gerard said.

"Every year, they said we were in a recession" and spent as much as 6 per cent. But then policy makers became "much more religious" about sticking to the target, he said. And today, it is a matter of Norwegian national pride.

In the midst of their own worst economic slump in years, Albertans are tired of hearing how much better Norway has been at managing its oil riches.

They point to the significant differences between the two jurisdictions, not least of which is the fact Alberta is a province without complete control over its revenues.

Then, there are the vastly higher costs of oil sands development, which required more public investment, as well as the political decision in Alberta to use part of the oil wealth to reduce taxes and spur investment - something Norway is only getting around to now.

There are also questions about whether the Norwegians can sustain their model if the oil slump deepens or another global recession hits.

"They have a small population, relatively, and I would say that for the interim period, it seems to be working," said Michal Moore, professor of energy economics at the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy. But in the face of a prolonged downturn, "they might look again at freeing up some of the revenues generated off of interest and investments."

As for most Albertans, "they care much more about the future of the province than they do about international comparisons," said Kara Lilly, a strategist at Mawer Investment Management in Calgary who tracks global oil trends.

"And if you look at the last election, you saw a pretty clear response from Albertans on how their future, including the Heritage Fund, has been managed."

Indeed, the Heritage Fund has strayed a long way from its original intent.

It was conceived in the early 1970s during then Progressive Conservative premier Peter Lougheed's first term in office.

He ran for re-election in 1975 on a pledge to stash a share of Alberta's resource wealth in an emergency kitty, hoping to convert what was believed to be a fleeting oil boom into a lasting legacy.

Initially, the idea was to save as much as 30 per cent of energy revenues to start with and use a portion of the fund as an investment vehicle for diversifying the provincial economy. But over time, successive Conservative governments propped up dubious ventures in sectors ranging from forestry to aviation and food processing.

Contributions ceased entirely when oil prices tanked in the mid-1980s, and the Heritage Fund has been frozen in time ever since. The government now pockets most of its oil revenue, using the bulk of it for general expenses.

Last year, the fund was valued at $17.9-billion. It generated a healthy return of 12.5 per cent, amounting to about $1.7-billion.

Of that, $1.5-billion was siphoned into the government's general revenues, with $210-million saved.

Since its inception, income transfers to government have totalled $38.2-billion.

The result has been a damaging pro-cyclical fiscal policy: hefty spending in good years and deep cuts during lean times. The province famously has no sales tax - even in the current downturn, it's a verboten concept - but is routinely exposed to volatile swings in commodity prices.

For all their frustration with the way the resource wealth has been managed, Albertans have shown an aversion toward beefing up the Heritage Fund. In May, they rejected then Conservative premier Jim Prentice's plan to shrink the province's dependence on energy revenues by 50 per cent while doubling the fund's size to more than $30-billion within a decade. Mr. Prentice lost a snap election to the New Democrats led by Rachel Notley, who inherited an economy in freefall as a result of skidding oil prices.

The NDP is expected to release a budget this fall showing the full extent of oil's steep decline.

Finance Minister Joe Ceci insists the deficit this year will be in the range of $5.4-billion, even as cutbacks in the energy sector intensify and world and U.S. crude prices remain at less than half the levels of a year ago.

This week, outages at a large refinery in the U.S. Midwest and pipeline snarls pushed prices for Western Canada Select oil sands crude below $30 a barrel - well under provincial forecasts. U.S.

West Texas Intermediate oil has dropped 30 per cent since early June.

The darkening outlook could add as much as $1-billion to the provincial deficit this year, said Robert Kavcic, senior economist at Bank of Montreal. The bank expects the provincial economy to contract by 1 per cent this year, before rebounding to post moderate growth of 1.9 per cent in 2016. The Prentice budget had forecast energy revenue this year of just $2.9-billion, down 67 per cent from the year before, based on a WTI oil price of $55("U.S.).

"The more important thing is that the budget had also assumed that by 2017-18, we would be back into a much firmer oil price environment and a stronger economic growth environment," Mr. Kavcic said.

"So if we don't see that, then that medium-term revenue outlook is going to be quite a bit more stressed."

The NDP has yet to detail plans for the Heritage Fund, but it's clear the party faces stark choices over how to divvy up a shrinking pie - despite raising corporate and personal income taxes earlier this year.

"For decades when oil was strong, the PCs failed to appropriately invest in the Heritage Fund," Mr. Ceci said in a statement, referring to the 43-year Tory dynasty. "Now with the drop in oil prices, it will take some time for our government to reverse the damage. We are committed to appropriately investing resource revenues for future generations and are working on a fiscal plan to that end."

Meanwhile, the Norwegian government, which gets enough cash from the oil fund to cover about 20 per cent of its annual budget needs in a typical year, continues to run surpluses and has no external debt.

"Imagine if Alberta had followed a similar formula, even sticking to [Mr. Lougheed's target of] 30 per cent of oil royalties for the fund," said Greg Poelzer, executive chair of the International Centre for Northern Governance and Development at the University of Saskatchewan and a harsh critic of Alberta oil investment policies.

When the Norwegians were setting up their own heritage fund, they had similar concerns to Alberta policy makers, said Mr. Poelzer, who has studied various resource savings schemes in Canada, the U.S. and Norway.

Would the electorate support taking oil revenues and investing them outside Norway, rather than putting them to work in the domestic economy?

"When confronted with such a choice, Norwegian politicians thought the electorate might not be supportive of a plan that deferred investment," he said.

But they were wrong.

"Politicians underestimate citizens when it comes to these [long-term funds]. People get it.

I think Albertans understand the importance of deferred gratification."

Tying the hands of the Norwegian government before the wave of oil money started flooding in "was, in hindsight, a great thing to do," Mr. Gerard said.

"I'm sure Norway will be able to withstand even a further lowering of activity without too much hardship."

Associated Graphic

An offshore gas platform operated by Statoil ASA stands in the Oseberg oil field in the North Sea 140 kilometres from Bergen, Norway.




Covering the war in Iraq gave photographer Ashley Gilbertson a great sense of purpose, but his experiences there also left him scarred. Driven by a desire to humanize the war, Gilbertson's Bedrooms of the Fallen is a sorrowful reminder of how war reaches far beyond the battlefield
Wednesday, August 26, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A6

Bedrooms of the Fallen is a heartbreaking book. Forty photographs of bedrooms frozen in time, memorials to lost youth.

Each room is mute testimony to the grief of their custodians, the parents whose children will not be coming home from war. Sons and daughters may have departed as warriors, but there is little evidence of this in their bedrooms, the most intimate of chambers. Instead, we see the mementos of childhood and adolescence lovingly preserved.

Amid the sporting trophies, photographs, CD racks, toys, clothes and toiletries, the occasional teddy bear or favourite cuddly toy heightens the pathos, reminding us, lest we forget, of just how young these soldiers were.

The genesis of this book can be traced to what befell Australian photographer Ashley Gilbertson.

In November, 2004, he was on assignment in Iraq for The New York Times, embedded with American forces during their offensive to retake the city of Fallujah, which had been overrun by insurgents. Working with correspondent Dexter Filkins, Gilbertson recalls that they "were on the very, very tip of the spear, the most dangerous place to be," as the U.S. Marines fought their way through the city, sustaining heavy casualties.

After a week of intense combat, the unit had reached the southern edge of Fallujah and paused, affording Gilbertson a chance to take some individual portraits during a lull in the fighting.

While doing so, he was shown a photograph taken on a cheap point-and-shoot camera by a Marine. It was of an insurgent killed inside the minaret of a mosque from where he had been firing on the Marines. This was potentially important news. A mosque could no longer be considered a holy sanctuary under the Geneva Conventions if it was being used in this fashion. A confirmatory photograph was needed.

Gilbertson recollects telling the unit's captain that he was leaving the base to go photograph the dead insurgent inside the minaret, 200 metres back. The captain insisted that he take a squad with him. Gilbertson balked. The captain held firm, leaving the photographer no choice.

"We get to the mosque," Gilbertson recalls. "William [Billy] Miller and another Marine, Christian Dominguez, wanted to go first. I said no, no, no, I'll just go upstairs and get my picture and we'll be out of there. I wanted to get it over with as fast as possible."

Once more, he was overruled by his military minders. They entered the minaret, with Miller leading the way, and began climbing. Gilbertson remembers that it was pitch dark at first and the stairs were strewn with rubble. As they ascended, he saw some sunlight coming through a hole left by a tank shell and recollects thinking, "Great, this will be over soon and we can get out of here. But then there were gunshots ... and I got covered in water. ... My face, my camera, my body, everything was covered in water."

Gilbertson's initial thought that someone's camelback had been shot was quickly dispelled by Dominguez's scream exhorting them to run.

"We tumbled down the stairs," he recalls. "... It was insane. ... these three bodies tangled up, falling down the stairs. ... We fell out the bottom of the minaret and I realized it was not water. It was blood and white matter. Billy had been shot point blank by an insurgent who, I guess, had backfilled the position."

Gilbertson sat on the ground, rocking back and forth. "I remember thinking that my life was over ... that I had dishonoured my profession, dishonoured my newspaper, dishonoured myself. And I didn't know how to move. I didn't know how to continue. I didn't know how to get up. I felt like the world - my world - had stopped turning at that moment. ... There was a fight going back up the minaret to get Billy out ... another guy was wounded. ... I remember sitting and watching that happening and just being absolutely horrified, thinking that more people were going to die as a result of that decision that I had made. ... I know rationally that I didn't pull the trigger. I know that I didn't kill him. But I still believe that it's my fault that he died. I made the decision."

After Billy's body had been retrieved, the squad had to retreat under raking machine gunfire. As Gilbertson ran, he remembers wishing that he would get shot, "because that would have absolved me of all this responsibility and I could just die."

Sigmund Freud observed that individuals who have been exposed to grave danger can become fixated on their moment of trauma. By repeatedly revisiting, albeit unwillingly, involuntarily what has taken place, their psyche attempts to gain mastery of the traumatic event. On its own, this is often a forlorn quest.

This re-experiencing phenomenon would in time come to be viewed as the quintessential feature of a condition we now know as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Billy's death was the catalyst for Gilbertson's PTSD. "Never for a second did I mentally leave that Iraq space in my head," he says.

And thoughts and images of Billy, the dead Billy, "just kept coming back to me."

The unforeseen consequences of Gilbertson's determination to photograph a dead insurgent in the rubble of a minaret also illustrate what English philosopher Bernard Williams has termed moral luck. This refers to attributing moral blame or praise to a person for actions over which he has incomplete control.

Expanding on Williams's theory, Thomas Nagel has described four types of moral luck, one of which, called resultant (or consequential) moral luck, fits what took place in the minaret in Fallujah. When Gilbertson decided to photograph the insurgent, a constellation of permutations presented themselves, none of which were directly in his control, but each of which could have resulted in a different outcome. The captain could have agreed to let him proceed alone.

Miller and Dominguez could have assented to let him ascend the minaret first. And so on. The episode's tragic denouement came about not only because of Gilbertson's desire to get the photograph - a desire that we must readily acknowledge as rational and understandable, given his status as an embedded photojournalist - but also because of decisions made by the captain and Miller, which were just as rational, given their military expertise and roles as Gilbertson's protectors. In Gilbertson's anguished analysis of his actions, we see the framework of moral luck starkly laid out.

When moral luck includes consequences, such as the death of Billy Miller, it invariably engenders regret. "I wish that I could go back and I wish that I could make decisions that didn't lead to Billy dying," Gilbertson laments.

Regret, in turn, can be the spur to actions that might have some reparative significance. For Gilbertson, this meant reaching out to Billy's family. "I wanted to apologize," he says. "I wanted to tell them that it's as a result of their son that I am alive today."

Gilbertson's overture to Miller's parents was well received. "They told me that Billy was just doing his job and that it wasn't my fault."

Although consoled to a degree by this response, Gilbertson could not initially face returning to Iraq and took a break from war photography. A grant allowed him to spend a year in the Italian countryside, reflecting on what his next project would be. His idyllic surroundings did little to lessen his morbid thoughts. "I spent a year thinking about death," he recalls, "photographing ceremonies around death and corpses and bodies and undertakers and embalming and funerals and cemeteries and all that, and I realized that at the end of that year, what I really wanted to photograph was Billy and learn more about who he was."

On his return to the United States, Gilbertson began visiting Arlington National Cemetery. "I spent weeks camped out at Section 60, which is where the Iraq and Afghan vets are buried," he says. "I talked to all the families that came through. I talked to the girlfriends and comrades. I talked to the strangers that would come and read poetry to the dead that are laid out there. I went to memorial services for soldiers that would be held after their units came home. The pictures [I took] were okay, but I don't think it really got to the heart of it."

Gilbertson recalls showing the photographs to his wife and both concluded that they lacked something because they focused on how people grieve, not on what they grieve over. What Gilbertson was looking for instead was another way to capture absence. As his ideas evolved and his search for expression continued, he recalls photographing a woman in the bed that she used to share with her husband, who had come home from Iraq and killed himself.

However, it was while Gilbertson and his wife were looking at the headshots of dead soldiers in The New York Times, marking another casualty milestone, that his wife hit on the idea of photographing the bedrooms of the fallen soldiers. "Seven years later, it's the best idea I've ever had the opportunity to work on," Gilbertson reflects, "and the hardest."

Gilbertson has always seen his role as a war photographer to humanize the story and Bedrooms of the Fallen afforded him an opportunity to do that. The idea may have originated as a debt of gratitude to Billy, but it soon expanded beyond that. Gilbertson became driven by a desire to understand who the fallen were and to convey this to a society more comfortable with brushing away the consequences of distant wars.

The very nature of his project meant witnessing the loss of others and reflecting on it, not just photographing it. Immersing himself professionally in this way gave him that space to sit with his own painful memories and feelings. In time, he was able to see that "there's no way to get away from these thoughts that occupy your mind, there's no way to stop and cut that out, you just have to be there. ... I think I have learned to carry a certain amount of that weight, but I have by no means processed it all."

In Gilbertson's long, painful road back from Fallujah, one can see the redemptive power of creative work. "Bedrooms of the Fallen is, as far as I am concerned, the most successful project I've ever worked on," he says. "The saddest, the proudest without a doubt. ... It was so, so difficult ... I felt closer to war in those bedrooms than I did in Iraq. I know [that] getting the blood on you ... being shot at ... the adrenalin and heartbreak and trauma and losses that we feel over there are real, very real, but when that's happening, you're [focused on] survival. You are not dealing with the emotional aspects of what's in front of you. ... Working in the bedrooms, there was nothing like that. It's the exact opposite. It was all about empathy. It's all about engaging with the family and feeling their losses. ... By deciding to go to war, this is what we created. It's awful. These rooms. These absent rooms."

Bedrooms of the Fallen is not an easy book to look at. This is what Gilbertson wants. No sugar-coating death. No feel-good message of heroism or sacrifice. His aim is to engage the viewer without providing the upbeat coda, the happy Hollywood ending to lives that have ended too soon. In these simple black-and-white photographs, we glimpse, away from the grand cenotaph and blandishments of politicians, the private, personal cost of war. The images force us to confront loss and the ineffable sorrow that fills the void.

In a hierarchy of grief, parents will always come first, but spare a thought for the photographer.

His pain is there on these pages, too. We feel it even before we get to the first bedroom.

"For Billy Miller," the dedication reads, "who died in my place. I'm sorry."

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, kidnapping for ransom and murder to instill terror have made journalism increasingly hazardous. This, in turn, has challenged journalists as never before when it comes to their physical and emotional well-being.

Anthony Feinstein, a psychiatrist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and a professor at the University of Toronto, is a world leader on 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'll feature a frank and intimate interview between Dr. Feinstein and a photojournalist. Each article will showcase an image that represents a seminal moment in his or her life and career - and which often presents a window to a much greater issue.

In this fourth instalment of Conflict Photographers, Dr. Feinstein speaks with Ashley Gilbertson, whose series Bedrooms of the Fallen shows the private, personal cost of war.

Associated Graphic



Islamophobia, sparked by irrational concerns about terrorism at home and abroad, poses a serious threat to the nation's well-being, William A. Macdonald contends. But it can, and will, be overcome
Saturday, August 15, 2015 – Print Edition, Page F10

There is no valid reason for Islamophobia, no matter what Islamic State or homegrown extremists claiming to act in the name of Islam do in Canada, the United States or other countries.

We cannot let 0.003 per cent of the Muslim world speak for the other 99.997 per cent. Canada must avoid this error - and it can.

The answer is simple. It requires a willingness by us all to think for ourselves, to be open with others, and, most importantly, to engage in conversation. Fortunately, that conversation is already under way.

Fear can goad people into action, but it is never a good guide for that action. For some reason, Americans seem to be more naturally fearful than Canadians, and the media there stoke that fear more than Canadian media do. The primary danger for us is succumbing to that heightened fear through contagion. The best antidote is calm, common sense and fair-minded discussion.

We all have a stake.

Mackenzie King, arguably Canada's most successful prime minister, once said he wanted to be remembered not for what he achieved, but for what he avoided. Most important, he avoided the breakdown of unity during the Second World War. Today, in a world preoccupied by extreme terrorist violence, it is essential that Canada, in relation to its Muslim population, avoid a repetition of its failure so far to deal with its First Nations in a mutually accommodating way.

The numbers tell their own story. There are about a million Muslims in Canada, and 1.6 billion around the world, one-quarter of whom reside in India and Indonesia. Despite the current problems particular to Islam, there is no irresistible link between Islam itself and terrorism. No Muslim country is in the world's top 20 in terms of homicides per capita, nor is Islam associated with any of the 10 largest genocides in history.

The only long-run solution to the relationship between Islam and the rest of the world is rooted in mutual accommodation. Whatever is being done to fight terrorism must always keep that reality in mind. Words matter, and we should avoid to the extent possible including the terms Islamic or Muslim in our descriptions of extremism or terrorism, even if the violence is being done in the name of Islam. Readers already know that's what al-Qaeda and Islamic State claim.

Religions need to re-evaluate Islam is no different from any other religion in its need to examine itself critically. The thinking mostly has to come from within, while the challenges will often come from outside events. The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding gay marriage is a good example: Religion not only challenges the world; the world challenges religion. Institutional religions, if they are to survive and thrive, need to communicate with their adherents, and everyone else. For example, the Pope challenges the world to do better at the very moment when the acceptance of gay marriage challenges his church("and not very long after it was challenged by the adverse reaction to its reluctance to respond to the sexual abuse of young people in its care).

David Brooks, the insightful conservative columnist for The New York Times, described the current post-gay-marriage situation in the United States very well. True believers - mostly of a religious persuasion - have a choice, he says; one way is to keep fighting for what they believe by seeking to change laws so that they can impose their views on society. The other, as Mr. Brooks and I both believe, is for these groups to accept that they are special communities of individual believers who can make their best contribution to their members and to society, not by trying to impose their views on others, but by the strength of their own communities of faith.

In recent weeks, the racist massacre in Charleston, S.C., has provided yet another example to our world, desperately in need of more compassion and a larger purpose than individuals themselves. It is difficult to imagine anything more powerful than the personal, face-to-face forgiveness of the deeply mourning relatives to the murderer of their loved ones. The authenticity of this forgiveness could come only from the force of their deep faith.

Issues with Muslims There is an urgent need to find the best strategy to address the double challenge presented by terrorist acts in Canada and terrorist recruits from Canada. Aside from that issue, how big a problem are Muslims? Or, from another perspective, is Canada a problem for Muslims? Canada's history is all about a growing capacity for the inclusion of more and more differences in our society. Covering a woman's face with a niqab is certainly incompatible with the openness that has become part of the Canadian way.

Yet it represents no threat to anyone except on those occasions when there is a clear need to see someone's face, such as for identification purposes or during testimony in court.

CBC-TV's Rosemary Barton conducted a constructive interview on this subject with two Muslim women last November shortly after two soldiers were killed, one in Quebec and the other in Ottawa. She spoke first to a middleaged Quebecker who said that all head coverings, and especially niqabs, are the result of religiously imposed male oppression. She presented herself, I thought, as a supporter of a secularist authoritarianism reminiscent of the religious authoritarianism from Quebec's past.

The other woman was young, lively and wearing a hijab. She said her personal preference was to wear a niqab as well. It was not a male-imposed choice, so she opposed any unnecessary restrictions against it. Asked by Ms. Barton why she didn't have one on for the interview, she replied: "Because other people don't like niqabs." In other words, she respected mutual accommodation.

If non-Muslim Canadians felt uncomfortable in her presence when most of her face was covered, she would voluntarily respect their feelings. I hope that impulse will become the way forward. It would see both sides accommodate each other, not by coercion but by choice.

The situation in Quebec Over the last few years, there have been some sporadic flare-ups on the Muslim front in Quebec. Although, even if Quebec is a distinct society, it is also subject to the same demographic pressures as other parts of Canada. How it reacts, however, reflects the special Quebec drivers of culture, language and identity, which are no longer as different now as they have been at times in the past.

Separatism may be finished in Quebec, but nationalism and some socio-cultural anxiety still remain.

Philippe Couillard seems to be the province's first post-separatist-threat premier. He knows the power of freedom and science as opposed to a narrow nationalism.

He encourages mutual accommodation. Like Robert Bourassa before him, he recognizes that a sound economy and the ability to live within its means are crucial to the survival and prosperity of the province.

Quebec's political preoccupations have always revolved around the survival of the Québécois collectivity within an English-dominated North America.

The Quebec family quarrel following the Quiet Revolution in the 1960s now seems pretty well resolved, and the majority of the population accepts that it will be more protected than threatened by being a part of Canada. This was the position of all of Quebec's great francophone federal leaders before Pierre Trudeau.

So what have these intermittent disputes over Muslims in the province been about? In the past, issues in Quebec around others who are different have been linked to identity insecurity - essentially to language insecurities. After some wrangles in small communities over the "threat" of Muslims they had scarcely ever seen, Premier Jean Charest felt compelled in 2007 to establish the Bouchard-Taylor Commission into cultural and religious accommodation as a political necessity.

The recommendations in its 2008 report over the wearing of conspicuous religious symbols such as turbans, kippot, hijabs and crucifixes in public institutions were mild and never really implemented. Then in 2013, Mr. Charest's successor, Pauline Marois, launched the extremist Quebec Charter of Values, which inflamed the issue once again - and worked against her Parti Québécois in last year's provincial election, when the Liberals returned to office.

The "accommodation" bill that Premier Couillard introduced last fall maintained the religious neutrality of the state even as it protected Quebec "values." Mr. Bourassa had recognized Quebec nationalism as something that could not be ignored, and, similarly, Mr. Couillard initially seemed to realize that, since the Quiet Revolution, equality for women had become a fixture of the Quebec political scene. Thus it had to take precedence over other considerations, so anyone performing("or receiving) a public service in the province could do so with a covered face.

After the terrorist incidents in November, however, the Premier delayed bringing the bill forward.

"I am here to defend the freedom of all Quebeckers of all origins," he said, "and I say no to exclusion and discrimination." This is the kind of firm political leadership that may be needed right across Canada.

A Muslim response How might everyday Muslims best respond to these challenges?

One initiative I heard about recently is The Next Generation, a modest symposium held in Toronto a few months ago. Some of the most accomplished Muslims in the province were invited to discuss two central issues: how to engage the tiny minority of Muslims who develop strong antiCanadian views, then act on them violently; and how to reduce Islamophobia Similarly, I would add: How might non-Muslim Canadians engage intelligently in the conversation we all need to have?

To begin, I suggest that they:

Read two books by the thoughtful English writer Karen Armstrong, entitled Islam: A Short History and Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time, plus Globe and Mail columnist Doug Saunders's The Myth of the Muslim Tide: Do Immigrants Threaten the West?

Visit the Aga Khan Museum("as well as its gardens) in Toronto and appreciate the rich culture included in the exhibitions. Also, as a caution, visit the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba where, after the Muslims were driven out of Spain in the 13th century, their monumental mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral("to my eye, a monstrosity even though I normally love medieval cathedrals), marring a place of rare peace and beauty.

Watch Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World, a documentary film that has been shown on PBS and is available on DVD.

This is a hugely important moment in history - possibly comparable to the transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. Canada lives in the world's best neighbourhood, with an unparalleled array of space, resources and food. It is strong in all the best ways to live: compassion, freedom, science and mutual accommodation.

If we consider Canadian Muslims in this broad context, two issues have been identified as potential problems: terrorism, which, though involving only very small numbers, must be curbed; and women's head and face coverings - a purely sociocultural matter. Consequently, only very limited changes in the law and in the use of state force are needed. The recent Senate committee report on terrorism goes much further. It recommended, among other items, training and certifying imams - a suggestion the Muslim community immediately condemned as religious discrimination. The sensible response to the report will be to use it to have more conversation on these issues among all the stakeholders.

All Canadians - Muslims and non-Muslims - need to put their faith in the proposition that every valid value is safe in the Canada we know. It is for those values that Muslims came to our shores in the first place. If Canada holds to its mutual accommodation heritage, the power of freedom and of Canadian inclusiveness will prevail.

Certainly, a well-thought-out strategy that includes force on the terrorism front will be needed. Ultimately, however, to secure a lasting cure for excessive fearfulness and for keeping limits on the necessary use of law and force, we Canadians have to rely on ourselves and on our ability to find a mutually accommodating way forward.

In 2006, the Environics Institute for Survey Research delivered Muslims and Multiculturalism in Canada, a useful and interesting study that provides a vast array of information that could be very helpful in guiding the discussion, especially as it is being updated this fall.

As Walter Isaacson, the acclaimed biographer of Benjamin Franklin, predicted a decade ago, the dominant battle in the 21st century will be against intolerance, especially religious intolerance. The only way to handle it will be by mutual accommodation. Canada, if it is true to itself, is as well positioned as any country to succeed.

William A. Macdonald is president of W.A. Macdonald Associates Inc., which consults on government relations and economic policy, and has an extensive record of public service.

To bolster his campaign for a coastto-coast conversation about the state and nature of the country, he and his associate, William R.K.

Innes, have created The Canadian Narrative Project, with assistance from Trent University. For more about the venture, please visit

Associated Graphic

A recent protest in Quebec against an international anti-Islamic group: 'I am here to defend the freedom of all Quebeckers of all origins,' says Premier Philippe Couillard, 'and I say no to exclusion and discrimination.'


Under siege
The end of a truce between El Salvador's government and street gangs has turned the country back into a war zone where dozens of people - including the innocent - are murdered every day, reports Stephanie Nolen in San Salvador
Saturday, August 22, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A8

Forty people were killed last Sunday in El Salvador. Fortytwo on Monday, 43 on Tuesday, 30 on Wednesday and on through the week. Even the brutal civil war in the 1980s never had a week like this one.

A spasm of murderous violence has convulsed this Central American country and shows no sign of abating. Many of the dead are young men who are members of notorious street gangs. At least one-quarter of them were shot by police with a tacit take-no-prisoners policy. Many more of the victims were civilians, including at least two toddlers, their murders without any motive other than that's what happens now: People get killed.

"Old people and young people and just anybody - we don't know who is killing and we don't know who will die," said Guadalupe Cruz, who works in a gas station in the capital and prays the whole way home on the bus each afternoon that she arrives before dark and finds both of her teenage sons still alive.

The population of El Salvador is the same size as that of the Greater Toronto Area, 6.1 million people. By way of comparison, 26 people were murdered in Toronto in all of 2014 - fewer than were killed on any single day in El Salvador this summer.

There is a surreal aspect to the violence: In the low-income neighbourhoods that are gang strongholds, the weight of imminent danger prickles in the air, even as women walk to the bakeries on the corners and boys play soccer in dirt fields. At sundown, everyone who can goes indoors and stays there. Wealthy areas are peaceful. There is little other than the coded gang-sign graffiti to indicate the whole city is divided up into territories, and a person must not inadvertently make a wrong turn. Gang members themselves cannot cross the invisible borders without facing near-certain death, but today even civilians cannot go to a job interview or a high school in another territory. In late July, the gangs declared buses could not cross territories; they shut down the public transportation on which the city's poor depend, and killed eight drivers.

Perhaps the most grim aspect of this killing spree is that everybody involved has a recent memory of how different things could be. Back in March, 2012, El Salvador's five gangs - dominated by the Barrio 18 and the Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13 - agreed to a truce, brokered by church and other community leaders. They committed to stop killing each other and to stop killing police, soldiers, jail guards and civilians.

The government also made pledges as part of the deal: It would ease up on repressive measures against the gangs and soften the prison conditions of jailed leaders. There was also a promise of new social development programs in poor neighbourhoods to help reintegration of gang-affiliated youth, who live in slums with poor access to education and almost no hope of employment.

Overnight, the murder rate plunged from 15 a day to an average of 5.5. There were a couple of days, in fact, where no one was killed at all, a phenomenon that nobody could recall happening in decades. Levels of all other kinds of crime also dropped considerably.

In El Salvador, however, this was not considered a public-policy triumph. In fact, in March, 2014, the government withdrew from the process: The presidential election was tight, and the ruling party concluded the perception that it negotiated with criminals did not play well. Then, at the end of 2014, with assembly and local elections looming, President Salvador Sanchez Ceren launched an aggressive crackdown, putting gang leaders back in maximum-security cells, calling in the armed forces for help and intensifying police actions in gang territories. The El Salvadoran digital newspaper El Faro recently reported on the existence of police death squads carrying out point-blank executions of suspected gang members, and of civilians who get in the way; its reporters were forced to leave the country for a period after receiving death threats over the story.

The killings have grown steadily since the intensified police campaign. June, with 677 homicides recorded, was the bloodiest month on record - although August seems certain to surpass it.

"The politicians decided to win votes from the deaths of gang members," said Raul Mijango, a former guerrilla leader in the civil war era who became a legislator and was a key broker of the ceasefire.

How could a policy that cut the murder rate by more than 50 per cent be unpopular? It has to do with El Salvador's political culture, steeped in a history of the authoritarianism of military government and the violence of civil war, said Jeannette Aguilar, director of the Institute of Public Opinion at the University of Central America in San Salvador. In a country where everyone is touched by the gangs, either through extortion or the imminent threat of violence, "people tend to support these kinds of measures and ask for even tougher ones." They want what's called mano dura, an iron fist, the popular term for repressive policies adopted periodically over the past decade. "And some segment of the public even asks for elimination - 'Just kill them,' " she added. "There is a climate of intolerance and vigilantism and polarization." Typically, each government crackdown initially has widespread public support that dies away when it proves to make no difference to public security - or to worsen it.

Nevertheless, praise or at least lukewarm support for the mano dura can be heard in every pupuseria and cantina in this city today. "The truce made things worse: The gangs had more freedom, but not the people," said Ana Gonzalez, 40, who sells trinkets emblazoned with the face of the recently beatified priest Oscar Romero, outside the cathedral where he preached before his assassination. Ms. Gonzalez said she earns $250 a month - and $42 of them she must pay to the gang that controls the cathedral block, or someone in her family would be assaulted or perhaps killed.

"There isn't one Salvadoran family who wasn't a victim of their murder or extortion. The government should build more prisons, arrest more of them, attack them harder." The current murder rate does not trouble her: "It's mostly them killing each other. Which is good for the rest of us."

Indeed, the biggest advantage of the truce is found among civilians who live in the gang areas and gang members themselves, Ms. Aguilar said - and no one polls them, or worries too much about their votes.

Howard Cotto, the deputy chief of police in San Salvador, where the violence is worst, firmly rejected the idea that the state should be negotiating with the gangs, saying they are simply criminal organizations. "What do they want? What's their social or economic or political plan?" he asked rhetorically. "They don't have one. It's easy to talk about a 'truce' but it's really a pax mafioso.

What's it for - so they can get better organized and have better structures, so they have a future ability to act more strongly against the state and civilians?" Critics say the truce served mainly to give the gangs breathing space to increase their resources and their power. Gang leaders were able to run things more efficiently from lowersecurity cells. They bought more weapons and beefed up their ranks, by both enticing and forcing more youths to join. Making deals with them is giving in to blackmail, buying peace by agreeing to let them conduct criminal activity, Mr. Cotto said.

Outside opinion is more tempered. Academics who have analyzed the truce period conclude that gangs did not lose strength or move members out of criminal activity, but that this is largely a reflection of government failure to follow through on commitments to boost spending on social inclusion.

"We promised so much and we did nothing," admitted a senior government official working on the gang response, speaking off the record because his personal views conflict with the official position. The gangs have their origins in Los Angeles and were exported to El Salvador in the 1990s with deportees. Today they have no connection with the United States or other organizations of the same name in Central America, but exist as a warped source of identity and recreation for young people, predominantly male, in communities where many families are split by migration and everyone is poor.

And although he is not allowed to call it one in public, the official believes the country is once again in the midst of war. "This is a war: the war between the 18 and the MS causes 85 per cent of the homicides, but the war with the government causes gangs to develop, to get more weapons, to do more extortion to pay for them, to move to rural areas to avoid the pressure," he said. "It's not a war the state will win - I won't say they can't, but it will be very difficult."

Gangs are killing now because of a hyperactive sense that if they don't kill first they will be killed; because of suspicion of informers and traitors; and from a desire to show strength, he said. There is a toxic mix of numbness and blood lust in the air at this point - "Now they kill just because that's what they do," the official said.

Police and soldiers have been the target of some of this violence - 42 police officers and 15 soldiers have been killed so far this year - but the vast majority of deaths in the recent surge have been civilians killed by gang members.

The gang population is estimated at 60,000 people, of whom 12,500 are in prison. The gangs are surrounded by another circle of people - spouses, children, parents - that bring the total to 500,000, or 8 per cent of the population. To talk of wiping them out, Mr. Mijango says, is effectively to talk about genocide.

Across the country, thousands of Salvadorans are engaged in a desperate search for somewhere even incrementally safer to go.

Some 288,900 people fled their homes within the country in 2014, according to a Norwegian organization called the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre.

And since the end of the truce, there has also been a massive surge in illegal migration to the United States - particularly of unaccompanied minors, teenagers whose parents take on crippling loans to entrust their children to traffickers to take them away before the gangs get them. Some 32,000 Salvadoran children travelling without parents reached the border in 2014.

The United States puts those it catches in overcrowded prisonlike conditions that judges have repeatedly ruled violate its own laws, and has stepped up deportations.

Mr. Mijango is one of the few outsiders with whom gang leaders still speak (for his pains, the national prosecutor has announced that he is being investigated), and he says they are willing to consider new dialogue. But Mr. Cotto, the deputy police chief, said the state has no intention of changing tactics.

A 40-minute drive from the streets of San Salvador, wreathed in yellow police tape each morning, there is a surreal and bucolic vision of what dialogue could produce. In the town of Ilopango, a wheeling-dealing mayor named Salvador Ruano has managed to keep a local truce in place.

Instead of the gangs killing each other, he says, he has the maras growing tomatoes in a greenhouse project - or rather two greenhouse projects, since relations have not improved to the point that the two gangs could hoe the same fields.

Here, a baby-faced senior leader of the Mara Salvatrucha who is known in the streets as Marvin took time out to try to explain the current spike in killings elsewhere in the country. "Sometimes I like to imagine that the streets are like a jungle - in a jungle there are the hunted and the hunters. Even animals, when they sense death, respond. Gangs are feeling some pressure and they react."

Tregua - truce - became a dirty word in El Salvador, he said. And now there is a three-way conflict between "a group of politicians, a group of psychopathic police officers and a group of gang members who don't want to just sit back when a member is killed."

But it doesn't have to be that way, said Marvin, who joined the gang at 14 and went to jail for a decade at 19 for a murder he said he foolishly committed to impress his pals.

He described sitting across the table from his sworn enemies in the Barrio 18 gang during the last negotiations, people he knew had killed his friends. "Why is it that the gangs could do this and put aside their differences and try to make a change," he said, "but all the other social actors can't?"

Associated Graphic


Clockwise, from left: gang members in a jail for minors; medical examiners remove a body; investigators process a crime scene; police guard a murder scene; Ilopango Mayor Salvador Ruano in his office.


Were the Games worth it?
Saturday, August 22, 2015 – Print Edition, Page M1

We were promised an economic boon, a renewed sporting legacy and something to cheer for. With a possible Olympic bid looming, the city must quickly figure out if the Pan Am Games delivered.

Verity Stevenson, Oliver Sachgau and Dakshana Bascaramurty take a closer look at the successes and failures T he Mattamy National Cycling Centre is an odd sight in Milton, Ont., a suburban town less than an hour's drive west from the buzz of Toronto. Across an eight-lane street, a 500-metre dirt path leads directly to the grey and white circular structure, which rises in the middle of a field and is surrounded by little else. Mere weeks ago, it hosted sold-out crowds of spectators, there to watch track cycling events as part of the Pan Am Games. But on a recent August evening, the only sounds outside the cylindrical building were crickets, flapping flags and the hum of a huge air conditioner. A locked fence enclosed the building.

The venue is now home to the country's national cycling team and the next event planned for it is the Canadian National Track Championship in October. But with its $56million construction cost and its $1.1-million annual operating budget, it raises a question that hangs over the Pan Am Games as a whole: Was it worth it?

A Sept. 15 deadline looms for cities to show interest in hosting the 2024 Olympics, which means Pan Am organizers, politicians, businesses and host municipalities are being forced to hastily evaluate the success of the Games and decide whether to go through this all over again - and on an even bigger scale.

The 2009 bid for this year's $2.5-billion Pan Am Games was backed by lofty promises: dazzling new athletic facilities, a shot in the arm for the local economy, much-needed infrastructure upgrades and a regional boost for sports culture.

TO2015, the organizing committee, still hasn't released its official numbers, but an analysis of other data and a survey of stakeholders across Southern Ontario shows mixed reviews for the largest event the region has ever hosted.

If there are any clear winners, they are the region's athletes.

Before the Games, Team Canada's elite cycling division was made up of only 11 athletes who travelled to Los Angeles to train, leaving family and friends behind for most of the year.

Ranks have since tripled.

"This is the first opportunity we've had in over three decades to have our own place, to have a home for high-performance and national team growth," Cycling Canada chief executive Greg Mathieu said.

Rental homes built by Mattamy, one of the velodrome's private sponsors, were set aside for the athletes, who will soon begin to train at the facility full-time.

The Town of Milton hired cyclist Scott Laliberte from British Columbia to head Cycle Milton and to tour area schools to encourage youth to try the track.

For residents, there's also a fitness centre, a 300-metre running track and three basketball courts in the velodrome. The Pan Am Sports Centre in Scarborough, site of the Games' aquatics events, will play host to both elite athletes and professional swimmers.

Beyond the prestige of hosting a major international sporting event and the upgraded infrastructure, the Pan Am Games were also supposed to bring money into the local economy.

News releases by organizers in the lead up to the Games repeatedly mentioned the expected $3.7-billion boost to Ontario's GDP between 2009 and 2017.

During the event, they promised an influx of tourists would translate into money for hotels, restaurants, and entertainment.

But whether local businesses were the winners or losers in the Games will be hard, if not impossible, to calculate.

Credit- and debit-card data from Moneris, Canada's largest payment processor, showed overall spending in downtown Toronto for the duration of the games was about 7.7 per cent higher than in 2014 - a "healthy" year-over-year increase, according to Rob Cameron, chief marketing officer at Moneris.

A more impressive figure was international card spending: up almost 19 per cent during the Games in the downtown area.

"If you used the [credit and debit] cards to follow the story, you'd say more tourists were definitely in Toronto, brought in by the Games," he said.

But Andrew Weir, chief marketing officer of Tourism Toronto, said his impression is that most Pan Am visitors were from Southern Ontario. Though he doesn't yet have final figures, he expects business in July will have remained on par with other years.

Janice Solomon, executive director for the Toronto Entertainment District business improvement area, pointed to the Summerlicious restaurant festival, the recent success of the Blue Jays and the popularity of the musical Kinky Boots at the Princess of Wales theatre as strong draws to downtown Toronto that coincided with Pan Am.

Hamilton, which hosted soccer events, did well: While total spending was up 9.8 per cent from last year, international spending was up 124 per cent.

During the Games, GO Transit ridership on the Lakeshore line, which connected many of the sports venues, was up more than 25 per cent from the previous year.

But that boost wasn't consistent across the region.

While Greyhound Canada saw a 22-per-cent increase in passenger traffic to Toronto, a Via Rail spokesperson said the company's ridership numbers "were not affected by the Pan Am Games."

Toronto Pearson International

Airport recorded 2.2 million passengers entering and leaving during the games, a modest increase compared to 2.088 million passengers during the same period last year.

The largest benefits to tourism will only be seen months or years from now, Mr. Weir said, among them the opportunity to host future events, such as the one on everyone's mind: the 2024 Olympics.

Despite widespread speculation about Toronto potentially submitting a bid for the summer games, Mayor John Tory has said he's still consulting with community groups before making a decision - likely not until closer to the Sept. 15 deadline.

The mayor added that he's asked for a report from city staff on the usability of Pan Am venues for a potential Olympic Games.

"It would disappoint me if all that investment we made in very excellent facilities was not to be, under these new rules, something to be taken into account, if one wanted to bid."

A bid would cost $50-million to $60-million, and hosting could run $3.3-billion to $7.7-billion, according to a 2013 feasibility study by Ernst & Young commissioned by the City of Toronto.

The estimates run high because many of the venues built for Pan Am are so far from Toronto that they may not meet Olympic committee standards. Some events were in Minden Hills (more than two hours from the city), Welland (90 minutes) and Hamilton (one hour).

Rio de Janeiro invested heavily in facility construction when it hosted the 2007 Pan Am Games, which many say was part of a longer game plan to win an Olympic bid for 2016, which it did.

But several venues fell into disrepair or were deemed not up to IOC standards, which meant organizers have spent the past few years rushing to renovate or build new facilities.

It's difficult to extrapolate how well Toronto might do as an Olympic host based on its turn with the much smaller Pan Am Games, but when Vancouver

Whistler hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics, spending there increased 48 per cent, according to Moneris data.

If Toronto wants to succesfully host the Olympics, Mr. Weir said the city will have to substantially rethink its messaging around transportation. Worries about traffic and HOV lanes scared a lot of people away from visiting the downtown core during the Pan Am Games, he said. That hurts businesses and can't be repeated, he said.

"An event like this needs to be positioned as something you want to be a part of, not something to plan around," he said.

Whether the city plays Olympics host or not, Pan Am's organizing committee sees the expenditure as worthwhile. Allen Vansen, TO2015's executive vicepresident of operations, sport and venues, said the most impressive legacy of the Games is the Athletes' Village, a $709-million project that is now being converted into condominiums, a George Brown College student residence and affordable housing. Waterfront Toronto received funding to expedite the planned neighbourhood because of the Games.

While elite athletes competed at the sports venues during the Games, Mr. Vansen says the facilities were designed to be used in the long term as both community recreation and high-performance centres.

"I guarantee you, we will see athletes that will be using these venues for the first time. It'll be their introduction into track cycling or into swimming or athletics. And they will be representing Canada at the Pan Am Games or Olympic Games in decades to come," he said.

The organizing committee has been quick to deem the Games a success, but problems linger at some venues. The $145-million Hamilton soccer stadium was to be used before and after Pan Am as the new home for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats CFL team, which has a 20-year lease with the City of Hamilton, the stadium's owners.

But major construction delays forced the Ticats had to play half a dozen of last season's games elsewhere, which cost the team $1-million per game. Several items required at the stadium were also not delivered on time, and the team had to spend millions to rent or purchase them for temporary use. Ticats chief executive Scott Mitchell said he is working with the city as part of a claim process that could end up in court.

A subcontractor on the project has sued the city, Infrastructure Ontario and the building consortium that was awarded the contract for mismanagement.

Contractors at the $45.5-million athletics stadium at York University have claimed they are owed extra fees for work that exceeded what their contracts outlined.

Even after legal disputes are settled, host municipalities will have to wait to see if the promises of Pan Am pan out.

Mr. Laliberte, of Cycle Milton, is confident Milton will be made into a veritable hub for cyclists, with its smooth roads and proximity to Mississauga and Toronto.

But Milton Councillor Rick Malboeuf is concerned this niche community isn't big enough to sustain the three-storey, 14,240square-metre structure and could leave his town in debt.

Hamilton had previously turned down being the host city for the cycling track. Poor use of Montreal's velodrome after the 1976 Olympics prompted the city to turn it into the Biodome, an ecological attraction. When Winnipeg hosted the Pan Am Games in 1999, it built a temporary venue for cycling.

Pan Am has made a commitment through a legacy fund to cover a portion of the operating costs for the velodrome, the Scarborough aquatics centre and the athletics stadium at York University. But Milton will still be on the hook in the long term, as the fund is worth $70-million over 20 years.

"I think it's going to become a white elephant," Mr. Malboeuf said. "I can't see how those sports will cover the cost of that velodrome."


CIBC Pan Am/Parapan Am Athletics Stadium

Construction cost: $45.5-million

Annual operating cost: $694,688 (the Pan Am legacy fund provides $287,858 annually to offset part of this for at least the first three years)

CIBC Hamilton Pan Am Soccer Stadium a.k.a. Tim Hortons Field

Construction cost: $145.6-million

Annual operating cost: $2-million

Cisco Milton Pan Am/Parapan Am Velodrome a.k.a. Mattamy National Cycling Centre

Construction cost: $56-million

Annual operating cost: $1.15million (the Pan Am legacy fund provides $736,000 annually to offset part of this for at least the first three years)

CIBC Pan Am/ Parapan Am Aquatics Centre and Field House a.k.a. Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre

Construction cost: $205-million

Annual operating cost: $18-million (the Pan Am legacy fund provides $4.1-million annually to offset part of this for at least the first three years)

Atos Markham Pan Am/Parapan Am Centre a.k.a. Markham Pan Am Centre

Construction cost: $78.5-million

Annual operating cost: $1.5-million

Associated Graphic

The Toronto sign, at a cost of just under $100,000, became one of the enduring images of the city's Pan Am Games.


Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse became a national hero at the CIBC Pan Am/Parapan Am Athletics Stadium.


The Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre will play host to elite swimmers.


The CIBC Hamilton Pan Am Soccer Stadium is now being used by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL.


The velodrome in Milton will now host Canada's national cycling team.


The Markham Pan Am Centre hosted events such as badminton during the Games.


'The system failed my son'
The death of five-year-old Brody Meekis from a strep-throat infection has cast a critical light on the inadequacies of health-care delivery on First Nations reserves, reports Gloria Galloway in Sandy Lake, Ont.
Thursday, August 20, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A8

Brody Meekis died of strep throat, a common bacterial infection that is easily cured with a round of antibiotics when diagnosed almost anywhere in the developed world.

But five-year-old Brody was aboriginal and had to rely on the health care provided in his remote Ontario First Nations community.

More than a year has passed since the morning his frantic mother, Wawa Keno, rushed the boy to the nursing station in Sandy Lake, a fly-in reserve 500 kilometres north of Thunder Bay. She still fights back tears as she recounts the final hours in the life of her normally energetic, hockey-loving son.

"I just remember being so angry," Ms. Keno said during an interview in the living room of her ramshackle, two-bedroom bungalow as she and her family prepared for a feast to mark the anniversary of her son's death. "I was just in shock."

Many things went wrong in the treatment of Brody, many of them related to a shortage of medical resources in the remote indigenous community where, as with other Canadian reserves, the responsibility for health care lies with the federal government. And Brody wasn't the only First Nations child to die last year of strep.

A little girl in Pikangikum, Ont., whose name is being withheld by her community, also succumbed to the disease that is rarely fatal anywhere else in Canada.

Report after report has outlined the inadequacies of health-care delivery on reserves - where life expectancy is five to seven years shorter than that of the general population, where babies are more likely to die at birth, and where the rates of tuberculosis, diabetes, traumatic injury, infectious disease and suicide are statistically high.

One of those reports was released earlier this year by the federal Auditor-General. It found, among other things, that just one in 45 nurses working at a sample group of onreserve nursing stations had completed all of the government's mandatory training courses; that nurses are being asked to do jobs they are not authorized to do; that the stations had numerous health and safety deficiencies; and that Health Canada does not know whether individual reserve facilities are capable of providing essential services.

Several of those issues seem to have been at play when Brody fell ill.

His father Fraser Meekis and Ms. Keno have five surviving children - three boys in primary school and two girls still in diapers. Just as the reserve school began a break week in the spring of last year, all of the Meekis boys came home with fevers and sore throats.

Mr. Meekis took his ailing children to the nursing station, but the nurse did not take throat swabs, he said. She instead advised him to give the boys Tylenol, to rub their chests with Vicks VapoRub and to come back for a second appointment the following week.

Sandy Lake has just one medical vehicle to ferry people to and from the facility. It is a van that sometimes breaks down on the rough dirt roads of the reserve and is often diverted by emergencies. It didn't arrive on time to get the kids to the follow-up visit and the family doesn't own a car. So they missed the second appointment.

While the other boys gradually improved, Brody did not. Mr. Meekis said he called to schedule another trip to the nursing station, but was told there were no available appointments for at least a week.

"They said we can call back if things got worse," he said. "I hung up thinking things were going to be okay because they talked me into it. I just had to keep giving the Tylenol every four hours, with Advil, giving him lots to drink and rest."

But none of that helped Brody. A couple of days later, he woke up his brother, Zachary, early in the morning to tell him to fetch their father because he was feeling sick. Mr. Meekis took one look at his son and decided he needed to be seen by a nurse immediately. He roused Ms. Keno, who ran to her grandmother's house to call for the medical vehicle. When it arrived an hour later, she and Brody took off for the nursing station while Mr. Meekis stayed behind with the other children.

At the station, an aging facility where the vinyl chairs in the waiting room are frayed down to the foam, Ms. Keno said she found student nurses who were skeptical about the severity of Brody's illness. "They said he didn't even look sick," she said.

It wasn't until the head nurse turned up a short while later that the medical staff acknowledged there was a real problem, Ms. Keno said. Brody was given oxygen. And because he kept asking for his father, Mr. Meekis was called to the nursing station. He arrived to find Brody ashen and barely responsive.

"It was a student nurse who was watching my son there," Mr. Meekis said. "I kept asking, 'How come he looks like that?' And the nurse was like, 'I don't know.' And the next thing you know, I saw foam coming out of his mouth and I said, 'He's not breathing!'

The nurse panicked. I ran out of the room and said 'emergency, emergency.' "But it was too late: Although the nurses managed to revive Brody once, he died later that morning.

The problems at the Sandy Lake nursing station are well known to the community. Council members say the facility was constructed for a reserve of 500 people that is now home to nearly 3,000. Local residents have been trained to perform duties that would normally be done by medical professionals.

"So you could have your janitor taking X-rays - when he's available," said John McKay, a councillor who was once in charge of medical administration.

Staff retention is also a major issue. The Health Canada allocation of 91/2 full-time nurses has rarely been filled.

Locals who go into nursing find that their degree or diploma is their ticket out of Sandy Lake, and nurses who come from big cities get bored by the isolation and don't stay long.

The nurses complain that they are working 24 hours a day, said Sandy Lake Chief Bart Meekis. (Meekis is a common name in Sandy Lake.)

"We are very short-staffed, and when you are shortstaffed you tend to cut corners and my people end up not getting the services that they should have," the chief said.

"I don't blame the nurses. They are not able to cope with the amount of people who come to the nursing station.

But every case is an emergency for somebody. In Brody's case, he died. That shouldn't happen anywhere."

When asked by The Globe and Mail to outline what steps it is taking to improve the quality of health care on reserves, Health Canada spokesmen said the department provides mandatory training, access to primary-care physicians and nurse practitioners either on-site or by phone or videoconference, and practice tools for nurses.

They also pointed to financial contributions - Canada invests more than $2.5-billion every year to support the health of First Nations living on-reserve - and said the department "remains committed to providing health services in the communities in partnership with the province."

In internal documents, however, Health Canada bureaucrats admit there are staff shortages at nursing stations across the country. The department set a performance target last year of reducing the vacancy rate for nurses within the First Nations and Inuit health branch from 39 per cent to 30 per cent.

The department's corporate risk profile for 2014-15 says there is a "very high" risk the government will not be able to deliver high-quality health services to First Nations and Inuit people.

And a 2010 Health Canada audit of primary health care at reserve nursing stations found that the department was not adequately measuring how well aboriginal people were being served. It pointed out that the nursing stations were operating around the clock, seven days a week, but the government had budgeted for service only from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday to Friday.

The sudden death of Brody Meekis sent the community of Sandy Lake into mourning. His brothers, Ms. Keno said, were especially traumatized. They now believe they can be killed by a common cold.

Although it is required by law for a coroner to attend the scene when a child dies, that rarely happens in remote native communities. Brody's body was instead sent to Kenora, Ont., for an autopsy.

Michael Wilson, the regional supervising coroner for Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario, said the postmortem determined that the boy's heart gave out after the streptococcal infection caused it to beat out of control. That is very rare and "it's mostly in the developing world, in Third World conditions," Dr. Wilson said.

"Certainly, from my work in emergency medicine in my prior career, I saw plenty of strep throats, I gave plenty of prescriptions for penicillin, I certainly saw no one die. When Brody died, I thought, 'Oh my God, people actually die from it?' It took me aback."

Dr. Wilson said he has had significant correspondence with Health Canada about Brody's death and that of the girl in Pikangikum and has made recommendations for improvement. He did not provide details about those recommendations but said he believes Health Canada has taken them seriously.

In February, the department issued its own brief report into the deaths of Brody and the girl. It recommended better community engagement, strengthening gaps in core health programs and improving the availability of health-care tools in native communities.

But it did not deal with any of the specifics of what killed the two children. It lacked clinical reviews to shed light on what happened in that nursing station in Sandy Lake and it was written in such bureaucratic language that Brody's father, Fraser Meekis, said it was unreadable.

The report was so bereft of specifics that Alvin Fiddler, the Grand Chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, which represents Sandy Lake and 48 other First Nation communities, wrote to Valerie Gideon, an assistant deputy minister at Health Canada, to complain.

"Health Canada's failure to include full and detailed information is of great concern, as it makes it impossible to assess the quality of the information gathered and the resulting recommendations," Mr. Fiddler wrote. "Health Canada's process has excluded the parents, extended family, and community leadership. It has failed to provide full and detailed information, which speaks to a lack of transparency and accountability."

The day before The Globe visited Sandy Lake, the department issued an edict to the staff at the nursing station, saying they were not permitted to speak to the media, nor were they to allow pictures to be taken inside the facility.

But the people of Sandy Lake are more than willing to talk about the quality of their health care. The family of 40-year-old Wesley Kakegamic, for instance, is still fighting to understand how he died of a heart attack in March despite seeking help at the nursing station two days earlier.

David Kakegamic said his brother went to the nursing station on March 8 and then again the next day. "He was told that it wasn't an emergency," Mr. Kakegamic said.

The nurses also said bad weather was preventing them from medevacing his brother to a large hospital down south that could properly treat him, he said.

"He was sent back home with a couple of Tylenol and Advil and he was told to rub Vicks VapoRub on his chest," Mr. Kakegamic said.

Wesley Kakegamic died on March 10. He had been a drug user and his family believes that was a factor in the lack of treatment he received. They are angry at the nurses. But the leaders of the community stress they do not believe the nurses are to blame.

"It is the health system that we know today that is failing the First Nations," said Bart Meekis, the Sandy Lake Chief. "We're not asking for more than what the normal Canadian gets for health care," he said. But "we're losing people needlessly." Brody Meekis, he said, was one of them.

"I want you to know that this is not about pointing fault at one person to help ease the pain that I feel," Fraser Meekis said of his decision to go public with Brody's story, "but to let you know that the system failed my son."

Associated Graphic

'We're not asking for more than what the normal Canadian gets for health care,' Sandy Lake First Nation Chief Bart Meekis says.

Fraser Meekis with daughter Makenna, one of his five surviving children.

Fraser Meekis gathers posters and a sign made by Brody's classmates.

Fraser Meekis stands by the grave of his son, Brody, on the Sandy Lake First Nation reserve in Northern Ontario.


Brecon Beacons is a spectacular landscape of limestone outcroppings and glacial lakes, bright green hills and 225 kilometres of rivers. But what sets this national park apart is its human history
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, August 15, 2015 – Print Edition, Page T1

BRECON BEACONS, WALES -- When our tour guide, a former miner, tells us that we'll be descending 90 metres into the earth, no one in the group seems anxious.

When we strap on headlamps - necessary accoutrements for navigating the lightless caverns far below - everyone takes it in stride.

But when he tells us we have to empty our pockets of anything with a battery, a few of us look surprised. "Sparks can come off watches or batteries because of the gases down there," he explains. "You can't bring anything like that down there."

Depositing my mobile phone in the bag he offers, I think to myself: Gases? What did I sign up for?

On the surface, much of this part of southern Wales is what you would expect, and hope, from a Welsh landscape: rolling hills and wild moors, market towns and crumbling castles. The area is dominated by Brecon Beacons, a 1,350-square-kilometre national park that twists with 225 km of rivers and peaks with mountains up to 886 metres tall. Sheep amble across bright-green hills, their coats splashed with blue and red.

But the area isn't just another postcard from Britain. It's far more interesting. That's because the landscape wasn't just shaped by the glaciers that carved its lakes and screes; it was shaped by its inhabitants. Prehistoric stone circles and burial cairns, nearly eight millenniums old, dot the landscape. So do medieval castles, farmhouses and abbeys.

And, of course, mines. When the Industrial Revolution hit, it didn't take long to realize that this corner of Wales was more than pretty hills: From limestone to coal, it had all of the raw materials needed for industry. Today, the Brecon Beacons park overlaps with a 33-square-km section of land called the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2000.

The first ironworks were built here - in the town of Blaenavon, right on the boundary of the Brecon Beacons park - in 1789. They were among the world's largest. A canal was dug soon after, taking iron to Newport, 24 kilometre due south, and on across the sea. By 1800, South Wales was the leading iron-producing region in the world.

The population boomed.

Then came coal. The "Big Pit," a coal mine, was dug in 1860. By 1913, one-third of the world's coal exports were produced by 250,000 Welsh miners.

Although industry - smokebelching, working-class, loud, dirty industry - isn't always seen as a part of heritage worth protecting, this area, for which it has been so crucial, saw it differently.

Today, the 18th-century ironworks, the area's economic engine for decades, still stand, carefully protected as part of the industrial landscape. The 44-metre-tall chimney towers above; the workers' houses, each furnished to look frozen in time from different eras, crouch a stone's throw away.("It must have been hard to get a night's sleep: The ironworks ran 24 hours a day.)

At the old furnace, a laser light and audio show recreates what it would have looked and sounded like - the shouts of men, the crackling fire, the molten metal. But, thankfully, not what it would have felt like: In the ovens, the temperature would have reached about 760 C.

The ironworks closed in 1904, though locals remained in the houses until 1971. Although much of that was from the shift to coal, the coal industry, of course, wouldn't last forever, either.

Now, our group crowds into a rattling elevator, descending the 90metre-deep mine shaft that was sunk in 1860. Once, it carried up 1,000 carts of coal each day, our guide says. Now, it carries only tourists.

After 120 years of work, the mine was shut in 1980, part of the massive, extremely controversial, Britain-wide closings enacted by Margaret Thatcher.

But the Big Pit, like the ironworks, has been preserved. "The only thing missing now is the noise and dust," says our guide, Gavin. He should know: He worked here for 18 years. "Everything else was left as it was."

Which seems, to put it bluntly, somewhat frightening. At the deepest point in our tour, 130 metres of rock push on the wood slats above our heads. The ceiling here used to be 3.5 metres high; now, it's 1.5 metres. It could collapse altogether.

"It could last another second, or another 30 years. We do not know," Gavin says cheerfully. That's why wood is used: If there's a shift in the weight above - never a good sign - you can hear timber groaning.

And do collapses happen? Yes, Gavin tells me. There are five roof falls in the mine each year. In a working mine, though, he says, it's once a week. "This is why you have to be an ex-miner to be a tour guide," he says. At one point, he pulls me aside, with a whisper: "I don't want the others to hear," he says. "But that's a fresh crack from last month."

That's not to mention the danger of the gases: Highly explosive methane gas comes from coal; at one point, Gavin puts a knife to metal to show us how easy it is to make sparks.

Or the dark: At one point, when we flip all of our headlamps off, I'm plunged into the deepest, most velvety black I've ever("not) seen. Or the smell: Hundreds of men, plus horses, spent all day down there, without any facilities.

And yet, Gavin says, there's no question that "if I had the chance to go back to mining, I'd go back tomorrow." His father, brother, uncle and friends were all miners.

His father died last year, at the age of 91, of black lung, the classic and all-too-descriptive coal miner's disease.

Later, once we have ascended, I breathe in fresh countryside air and feel thankful that my life is here, back on the surface. And, for the rest of my time in this corner of Wales, I explore the other offerings of Brecon Beacons.

I poke into lovely old bookshops at the hippie town of Hay-on-Wye, home to one of Britain's bestknown literary festivals. I bite into thick pieces of bara brith, the traditional Welsh spiced bread, at Talgarth Mill, where an 18th-century flour mill ran for decades with the power of the River Ellywe. I scramble up the hillside to Carreg Cennen, a 12th-century castle; used by an English lord to defeat the Welsh, today it is the grey ghost of the stronghold it once was.

I career around country roads in a little Twizys, the single-person electric car that is tiny enough to be laughable - until I wind up on a main road with lorries whizzing past.

I learn that lambs - and there are many of them in the Brecon Beacons in March - really do skip.

And it is all lovely. But for some reason, throughout my stay, my mind keeps returning to the leastpleasant place I've been: A place 90 metres underground, pitch-dark and a little scary, a place where the spirit of this part of Wales really seems to be - and one that in many ways, unlike the farms and the mills and market towns, no longer exists at all.

The writer was a guest of Visit Wales. It did not review or approve this article.


KLM and Delta run flights from Toronto to Cardiff("with stopovers in Amsterdam), while several carriers, including Lufthansa, Air Canada, British Airways, Iberia and American Airlines, run non-stop Toronto-to-London flights. From Cardiff, it's a 45-minute, 40-kilometre drive to the southern edge of the Brecon Beacons. You can take trains to the area from London, coming into Abergavenny station via Newport("about 21/2 hours), but once there, taxi services and buses are limited. Renting a car is preferable.


I stayed at the 23-room Gliffaes Country House Hotel, a rambling stone hideaway in the countryside that is exactly what one pictures from an elegant Welsh country home: massive fireplaces and antique furniture, lush draperies and a glassed-in tea room - even a mounted moose head. Just double-check your extras while you're there; that lovely afternoon tea and morning newspaper will cost you. From $240 a night; Opened last year, the four-star Lion Hotel is a welcome addition to Blaenavon. Its 12 rooms are contemporary chic, with leather headboards, statement wallpaper and splashes of aqua blue or burgundy; there is a steam room, sauna and very good restaurant on site. From $175 a night;


In 2011, the 18th-century Talgarth Mill, a flour mill on the River Ellywe that hadn't been used since the 1940s, got a £750,000("$1.5-million) facelift. Today, it's one of the area's most beloved bakeries and cafés. All the bread is made on site and all the food is sourced locally. Those who want to learn how to make their own bara brith or bara havard("white and rye bread) at home, or who want to try milling flour from scratch, can take classes taught by its in-house bakers. The Shoemakers Arms is a country pub at its best, with real ales, a log fire, friendly staff and fresh, amply portioned foods. That it's relatively off the beaten path, about 15 kilometres from the town of Brecon, makes it all the more telling that it's so popular with locals. Afternoon tea at the 19th-century Angel Hotel is considered to be a must, and with reason: The tea selection is overwhelming, as are the fresh, miniature sandwiches and toothsome pastries - remember to save room for the warm scones with clotted cream and jam. The elegant rooms fill up with tea-takers on weekend afternoons, so book in advance.


One of the best ways to take in the varied Brecon Beacons landscape? With a walk, of course - of which there are innumerable options. Hike through the gorges, caves and cascades of "Waterfall Country"; with everything from 315-million-year-old fossils to a 14th-century ruined corn mill and a former 19th-century tramway, the Sgwd Gwladus Waterfall Walk gives an idea of the area's sweeping history - and comes complete with an audio tour that you can download online. Or enjoy a gentle walk through lush Welsh countryside and rolling hills by following the River Usk, passing kingfisher-rich meadows and the 11th-century Abergavenny Castle.

More walks and hikes are available at There are about a dozen castles in or near the Brecon Beacons national park. The most romantic, though, may be Carreg Cennen Castle, a 12th- or 13th-century hilltop fortress linked by legend to the era of King Arthur, and which inspired numerous artists over the years, including Turner. Bring a flashlight so you can explore the damp, pitch-black tunnel that weaves underground beneath the castle, a previous storeroom ... and dungeon.

Avid readers can't miss the market town of Hay-on-Wye, which has a bizarre and bookish history: The town's castle was bought by a man named Richard Booth in the 1960s, and he declared the town an independent kingdom - that would be devoted to books. Today, it has dozens of bookstores in its pretty, cobblestone streets, and each summer is the host of the famous Hay Festival devoted to literature.

Lovely Llanthony Priory dates to the 12th century; today, it is a haunting, crumbling ruin set against bright-green hills. The priory sometimes hosts events - on Aug. 15 there are outdoor yoga and meditation sessions - and, for those who don't want to leave, even a charming pub and hotel.

The Blaenavon World Heritage Site and Brecon Beacons park are full of ways to explore the area's industrial heritage. The Big Pit Museum and Blaenavon Ironworks mentioned in the story are two of the most interactive and interesting, but others include riding the Brecon Mountain Railway - a vintage steam train - from Pant to Pontsticill, bicycling the towpaths along the 203-year-old Monmouthshire and Beacon Canal or taking a four-kilometre ramble on Black Mountain from the former mining town of Brynamman, past the Nant Melyn quarry and through wild forest and open moor to an open-cast mine.

Associated Graphic

Carreg Cennen, dating back to the 13th century and linked to the legend of King Arthur, is just one of several castles in or near Brecon Beacons.


Brecon Beacons overlaps with the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes an 18th-century ironworks, left, at bottom.


Going down into Blaenavon's Big Pit mine means strapping on headlights, descending 90 metres into the earth and preparing to enter a velvety, deep darkness.

Gauging voter intentions has never been easy, but after several spectacular recent flops, Canada's pollsters are trying to return the industry to its once-credible reputation as predictor of public opinion, reports Eric Andrew-Gee
Friday, August 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A6

It seemed like a safe prediction.

As chief executive officer of Abacus Data, a polling company, David Coletto had followed the 2012 Alberta election closely. In the campaign's final month, his polls and those of his competitors showed the same thing: The right-wing Wildrose Party, led by Danielle Smith, was winning. In its final survey, Abacus had Wildrose up by 10 percentage points over the Progressive Conservatives.

So on April 23, as people across the province cast their ballots, Mr. Coletto was interviewed on Sun News Network and said the obvious: Ms. Smith would be the next premier of Alberta.

Mr. Coletto recently described what happened next.

"The results started coming in," he said, "and my face goes white ..." The PCs had won easily. Their margin of victory, almost 10 points, was the opposite of what Mr. Coletto had predicted.

That election left Canada's polling industry shaken. It wasn't just scrappy upstarts such as Abacus that had blown the call - veteran firms such as Leger Marketing had misfired, too.

Nor was 2012 an anomaly: Albertascale disasters have become increasingly common in the world of publicopinion research, from Israel to Scotland to the United States.

In Canada, with a federal election looming, the polling industry is in a nervous state. Its earnings are shrinking, its reputation is tarnished and its methodologies are in flux. Known for their bravado and influence, many pollsters have been left feeling vulnerable.

"These are not the golden days of polling, that's for sure," said Scott MacKay, president of Winnipeg-based Probe Research. "There are many reasons and they sort of overlap and intersect with each other. It's sort of the perfect storm."

Election-related revenues are a fraction of Canada's $500-million polling industry - less than 4 per cent, according to the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association (MRIA) - but they play an outsize role in pollsters' fortunes.

The lead-up to a vote is a smorgasbord of free publicity for companies such as EKOS, Nanos and Ipsos.

"Doing this work is almost the equivalent of a fashion gangplank," said Angus Reid, 67, whose storied career in polling includes the founding and selling of his eponymous company. "It's an opportunity to show off their research."

By the same token, the spectre of failure looms over pollsters throughout a campaign. A botched election forecast is an excruciatingly public form of failure: Curtis Brown, vicepresident at Probe, admitted to having anxiety dreams about fiascos such as the 2013 B.C. vote, which his colleagues in the industry got spectacularly wrong. (Probe didn't have a poll in the field.)

The upcoming federal election appears especially difficult to call. The most recent Nanos Research poll for The Globe and Mail essentially shows a three-way tie, with the Conservatives, NDP and Liberals separated by less than the margin of error, each hovering around 30 per cent.

But even in the best of times, gauging voter intentions is fraught with difficulties. There are the "Shy Tories," well documented in Britain, who deny that they intend to vote Conservative until doing just that.

The "Bradley effect," meanwhile, is named after an African-American candidate for governor of California who led in the polls right up to voting day before losing to a white opponent.

In the privacy of the polling booth, fickle hearts and cold feet often prevail. As Abacus's Mr. Coletto put it, "Ultimately, people are really unpredictable."

People are even less predictable if you can't get in touch with them, and pollsters are having more trouble on that score. They now find themselves in an awkward state of technological limbo: With both phone and Internet polls plagued with problems, the industry lacks a consistent, affordable way to reach a wide swath of the population.

No less an authority than Nate Silver - the writer and statistician whose nearly perfect predictions of the past two U.S. elections made him a polling superstar - has warned of a sustained dip in quality.

"Polls, in the U.K. and in other places around the world, appear to be getting worse, as it becomes more challenging to contact a representative sample of voters," he wrote in a post on his website,, after this year's British election, when polls failed to predict a Conservative majority.

Pollsters themselves are acutely aware that the industry is amassing a growing tally of failures. The jitters have gotten so bad that even polling successes now come laced with anxiety. When Albertan voters stampeded into the NDP camp ahead of this year's provincial election, polls accurately picked up on the stunning shift. But some in the industry were "so spooked," Mr. MacKay said, "that they didn't even believe their own numbers."

"The NDP was up 15 points the day before the election," he added, "and you saw these guys on TV and their eyes were shifting and they were saying, 'You know, anything can happen.

People change their minds.' "Fittingly for number crunchers, the pollsters' malaise can be quantified: In 2004, the MRIA reported that its members earned $574-million; in 2014, that number was down to $509-million.

"Our industry has definitely taken a hit," said Sébastien Dallaire, vice-president of public affairs at Leger Marketing.

It has been a gradual but painful descent for a sector that journalists and politicians once accorded a kind of mystique. In the late 1970s, the empirical weight of opinion-poll pronouncements was a new force in Canadian politics; pollsters, it was thought, wielded survey results as if they were crystal balls.

By the early 1980s, declining longdistance rates and the ubiquity of land lines led to a spike in telephone polling. Suddenly, it was cheap to call Canadians across the country and, significantly, Canadians were picking up.

"The brilliance of polling in the 1980s is that virtually everyone was accessible through a single means of technology - the telephone," said Andrew Laing, president of the media monitoring firm Cormex Research.

Angus Reid's refusal rate was about 15 per cent in those days, he says - so nearly nine in 10 people who picked up agreed to answer his questions.

Some people even complained when they were denied the novelty of having a pollster call them at home.

"In the early eighties, this was viewed as pretty sexy stuff," Mr. Reid said. "Polling had sort of arrived from the margins to the mainstream and everyone loved it. It was really the salad days of the industry."

Suddenly, pollsters such as Allan Gregg and Darrell Bricker were everywhere - advising political parties, being quoted on front pages and leading the nightly news, they had become minor celebrities.

"It was really exciting," said EKOS Research president Frank Graves, who founded his company in 1980. "It was a period where you felt pretty comfortable that you knew how to do things, people listened ... and you made a lot of money. It was a pretty good deal."

But starting in the early 2000s, technological and social change began dulling some of the industry's lustre.

Many cite weaker voter loyalty as a hurdle to predicting elections. "People are far more pragmatic and spontaneous than they used to be," Probe's Mr. MacKay said, "which is a nightmare for a pollster."

Even more daunting, though, is the issue of getting voters to answer questions about their political preferences on the phone. More than half of Canadians under 35 don't have a land line, and tracking down cellphone users is more expensive since they aren't listed.

At the same time, caller ID has made it easier for land-line users to ignore pollsters. And those who do pick up often promptly hang up again, thinking they've encountered a hated telemarketer.

"It's a call from someone they don't know and it's all the same," Mr. Brown lamented.

Refusal rates for political polls, once below 20 per cent, now often top 90 per cent.

The growing inefficiency of paying for live interviewers has driven the industry toward less expensive techniques such as Interactive Voice Response - robo-polling - and online panels.

That lower cost has allowed a raft of new firms such as Abacus, which does 80 per cent of its polling online, to enter the field.

"I don't think Abacus could have started the way that we did 10 years ago," Mr. Coletto said. "Physically, we needed some office space, a few computers and an Internet connection. ... There are some barriers to entry, but they aren't physical or capital-related."

The old guard often treats these newcomers with thinly veiled contempt.

"There are a lot of people playing at this," said Mr. Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs. "You see these people pop up - who knows what their motivation is. To get a little publicity."

Still, online polling has many credible proponents - Mr. Reid himself uses Web panels for his non-profit research foundation, the Angus Reid Institute.

Boosters point to the different kinds of questions they can pose on the Web, asking respondents what they think of video clips or passages of text.

Mr. Reid, meanwhile, touted the relative intimacy of Internet questionnaires, which allow for interviews on sensitive topics such as sexual harassment that people might be uncomfortable discussing over the phone.

But finding a good response pool online is a "bit of an art form now," Mr. Reid acknowledged. While randomness was once a watchword for pollsters - ensuring that samples weren't self-selecting and skewed - Internet panels now solicit members with Web ads, often asking participants to complete multiple surveys in exchange for Air Miles points, donations to charity, concert tickets and other goodies.

"Increasingly, people expect to be compensated for their time," said Mr. Coletto, who conducts his polls through a panel of 500,000 people compiled by a separate market research firm.

Critics warn that polls conducted through these panels can yield warped results, since respondents have volunteered to participate and might be more opinionated than the general population, or motivated by money.

Nik Nanos, CEO of Nanos Research, which does live-agent phone polling for The Globe, said two-thirds of the polls conducted in Canada wouldn't pass muster for publication in The New York Times, mainly because they aren't random enough.

Online polls aren't always wrong, he said, but they aren't consistent either.

"Do you want your survey right 19 times out of 20, or 15 times out of 20?" he asked.

Pollsters who try to take soundings from social media are greeted with even more skepticism. "Wild, voodoo polls," Mr. MacKay called them.

"I see some of these Facebook polls and it makes me want to puke," Mr. Reid said.

As dubious polling becomes more prevalent, the industry looks poised to have an unusually large impact on this year's federal election. About twothirds of voters are determined to replace the Harper government and many believe that whichever opposition party looks likeliest to accomplish that goal will reap a bumper crop of strategic ballots.

That calculus will be heavily determined by polling: If the NDP, for example, leads by a healthy margin at the start of the campaign's home stretch, lukewarm Liberals could flock to the orange tent - or vice versa.

In an effort to shore up their credibility and their bottom lines ahead of such a crucial test, Canadian pollsters have begun trying to self-police. Mr. Bricker was recently elected chairman of one such group, the Canadian Association for Public Opinion Research, which launched in June. It plans to set standards around transparency and polling methods to hold firms accountable when things go pear-shaped.

"In Canada, everybody just kind of runs away," he said. "It hurts the industry, but most importantly, it's a disservice to democracy."

Others, such as Mr. Graves and Mr. MacKay, predict a return to old-school techniques such as door-to-door surveys, which they think could bolster polling's legitimacy.

"I know it sounds primitive," Mr. MacKay said.

Primitive maybe, but it could just prevent another Wildrose moment for pollsters.


The right-wing insurgents of the Wildrose Party were expected to topple a Progressive Conservative dynasty that had been in power for 40 years. Instead, Alison Redford's PCs won a nearly 10-point victory and held on to their commanding majority in the legislature.


Unpopular over the introduction of a harmonized sales tax, the Liberals were expected to lose after 10 years in government. The NDP, led by Adrian Dix, held a comfortable lead in the polls until voting day. But Christy Clark's Liberals stormed to a five-point win and another majority. Every pollster in the race got it wrong.


Throughout the campaign, polls showed Labour and the Conservatives neck and neck. As election day approached, the Tories seemed to creep ahead slightly, but the race was deemed too close to call. When ballots were counted, David Cameron had earned his Conservative Party a stunning majority government, an outcome virtually no one predicted. Polls had significantly overestimated Labour support.

Exit stage left
To renew his faith in the art form he loves, J. Kelly Nestruck went back to where it all began: high school. But, as he reports in his final dispatch, the critic discovered the problem with Canadian theatre isn't really about theatre at all
Saturday, August 22, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R3

This is the eighth and final instalment of High School Drama, the Globe Arts summer series about Lakeshore Collegiate Institute's production of Les Misérables. To read the first seven entries and meet the cast, visit

After the third and final performance of Les Misérables, Lakeshore Collegiate Institute's acting students cry their makeup off backstage - and then head with drama teacher Greg Danakas to a local church basement for the cast party.

There, the 30-odd students involved in the production eat pizza, drink pop and take group selfies on the dance floor before moving into a smaller room for the main event: the speeches.

This is a long-standing Lakeshore drama ritual. Each student who will not be in the spring play next year - whether due to graduation or for any other reason - gets to give a farewell speech. It's a big deal: Bradley Plesa, for instance, the graduating student who played Jean Valjean, was up until 3 a.m. the night before writing his speech.

Jesse Thompson, who played the young revolutionary Marius, goes first and sets the tone in a valedictory address. He teases each of his cast mates, then praises them - moving from the youngest up to drama executive president Hilliary Lyn, his close friend and frequent co-star, who played Cosette.

"We've taken 10 bows together in 10 different shows," Jesse T. says, "and now it's time to take the bow for our childhood."

It turns out the earlier weeping at the school was just a warmup. Boxes of tissue are slid back and forth between groups of crying teens gathered in clumps on the floor - and piles of used ones begin to accumulate in all corners. It is an astonishing sight to an outsider - the only comparison I can draw is to the scenes of mass mourning after Princess Diana died.

And Jesse T.'s 20-minute speech is just the first of the evening. At around 1:30 a.m., with no end to the tributes or tears in sight, I leave the students and their bleary-eyed chaperones to this ritual - and say goodbye for what I think will be the last time.


Following Lakeshore's production of Les Misérables through four months of rehearsals, I learned a number of lessons about the roots of the problems that ail professional theatre in Canada today. But what is it that the students learned from putting on this play? Why is drama on a high school curriculum anyway - rather than simply being an extracurricular activity?

Lakeshore's website lists the following "life skills" that drama students will develop in the introductory class: "self-esteem, confidence, public speaking, group skills, negotiation and leadership."

These sound a lot like business skills - and, indeed, Jim Ellis, the management consultant (and stepdad) who played the narrator Victor Hugo in Les Mis, gave a lecture to Mr. D's cast one day about how the students' theatrical expertise might transfer to the corporate world. Allan Easton, Lakeshore's principal, argues for the inclusion of theatre in his school's curriculum in a not dissimilar way. "There's certainly a dramatic push right now for STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] - a huge push, not just in the board, but in society," he told me. "I would still argue, as an educator, that having the ability to speak in front of a group of people whether you're the accountant making the pitch, or in any situation, that's a huge skill."

I understand the desire to distill the importance of drama class down to marketable skills, just as I understand why theatre companies argue for grants and donations by touting the economic spinoffs their work generates. It's just that this language always misses the point - it's like describing the importance of a certain medicine by listing its side effects. No one buys a ticket to a play because theatre helps the restaurants in the area do well, just as no one studies acting imagining how they'll perform in a boardroom.

I think there's more to it, anyway. In ancient Greece, theatre and democracy were born one after the other - and some scholars believe the former helped give birth to the latter.

The Greeks didn't come up with ritual or storytelling, but they did invent dialogue - and Duke University's Peter Burian has argued audiences learning to listen to characters present different points of view in the theatre paved the way to them listening to each other in democratic discourse.

Learning to act requires you to go even further and put yourself in someone else's shoes. It breeds empathy, and the empathetic are good citizens. I could see how empathy grew in Mr. D's students through their cast-party speeches. Most of the praise to fellow students was delivered in this way: I didn't like you at first, but now I understand you and like you.

Mr. Danakas, the proud Greek who sees his students as a family as well as a class, puts it simply when talking about what he does. "I always say drama is the most important class in the school. It's about teaching kids to be human beings," he tells me. "I'm going to sound like a tree-hugger: It's all about love - it's about loving the kids, loving the play, loving each other."


Is that what Mr. D's students feel they have learned from acting and lighting and costuming Les Misérables? On the last day of classes before exams at Lakeshore, I pay a final visit to the Toronto school's drama studio because I had forgotten to ask them this question.

The atmosphere is oddly tense as I enter the room - it couldn't be further from the group hugs and the tears of the cast party.

It's the only time I've seen any teen in Mr. D's class look like they were waiting for the bell to ring.

With little left to do in acting class now that the play is over and the assignments have been handed in, Mr. Danakas essentially hands the reins over to me - and I take off my shoes and sit down in the circle to asks these teens what they have taken away from working on a non-musical adaptation of a novel published in 1862.

Many of them did talk of love - it seemed almost everyone related to Eponine, who pines for Marius, who is in love with Cosette. "I guess life's like that: You don't always get what you want," was the lesson Jaime Wells, who played Eponine beautifully, learned, confessing her own unrequited crushes. "You're not always going to have a happy ending."

Jesse McCormack, the eagerbeaver stage manager, has a different perspective on Les Mis, having been in and out of the foster-care system since he was five years old. Jesse M., who is on a victory lap at Lakeshore, describes his first set of foster parents as "brutal people" - not unlike the Thénardiers who take in Fantine's young daughter, Cosette, simply for the money.

But it's not Cosette who Jesse M. relates to as he reflects on the play - it's Jean Valjean, who must go through life with the stigma of having been a prisoner.

"Jean Valjean became Monsieur le Maire: He escaped that past, though it came back to haunt him," Jesse M. says. "I was in foster care - and there's always that image in the back of my mind, of what a foster kid looks like." He pauses. "I could smell like the prison. I could stink like the prison. Or I could overcome it."

This is the best monologue I've heard all semester - delivered by the stage manager. And with that, I ask Mr. D's class if they have any questions for me in return about the series I'm planning to write.

"Where do you buy a newspaper?" Bradley asks.


No one in Lakeshore's acting class asked me for a speech - or to tell them what I had learned from Mr. Danakas's class. If they did now, this is what I would say: I came to Lakeshore with a naive point of view. I really did want to renew my faith in theatre after becoming frustrated with professional theatre in this country - and rediscover the joy of theatre I had felt as a high school student myself. But you only get to be a teenager once.

And what I found when I looked at high school drama through an adult critic's eyes were things I hadn't noticed the first time around. I found an acting class that wasn't fully representative of the racial diversity of its school, and that it was easier for students from certain economic classes to participate than it was for others.

I found a high school theatre with less money and less audience than it used to have, and more hoops to jump through, set up by administrators and unions. I found bureaucracy and I found selfcensorship - and I found art's value being sold with the language of business.

But what I ultimately discovered at Lakeshore is that the dissatisfaction that I've been feeling about the professional Canadian theatre I cover as a critic isn't really about theatre at all, but about the wider society that theatre exists in and reflects. If theatre and democracy have indeed been linked since ancient Greece, then it makes sense that theatre would suffer from the same problems as our democracy - which is also unfair and bureaucratic and filled with leaders who speak to taxpayers instead of citizens.

In the end, what will always make live theatre special and frustrating is that it involves actual people up on stage performing for actual people in the audience. It is a microcosm of our society. It's too much to expect utopia from an art form made out of us. Unlike with film or television or Netflix, however, the dialogue is not distant. At a play, we're all in a room together, audience and artists, riddling out all our problems. And maybe if we get closer to doing that in a theatre, we can get closer to doing it in society.


Goodbyes are difficult - not everyone gets a poetic exit line like Fantine, like Eponine, like Valjean. When the bell rings, Mr. D's students don't linger - and the drama studio quickly empties. All that's left for the summer are Lakeshore students from the past, frozen in production photos on the wall under a sign that reads: FAMILY.

The reason Lakeshore's final acting class was so tense, I learn now, is that Bradley and Mr. D had a fight before I arrived. A tired Bradley, who was recently elected prom king, felt the final class was pointless; Mr. D criticized him for his lack of leadership in that moment. The argument escalated and the two went, in Mr. D's words, "head to head." That was the last time Mr. D and Bradley spoke after four years of working together as teacher and student - and as I write this in August, they still haven't made up.

This ending makes a certain type of sense: Big, boisterous Bradley Plesa is more like big, boisterous Mr. D than any of the other students. He's even headed to York to study acting this fall, as the first in his family to go to university - following on the exact same journey Mr. D embarked on a little more than three decades ago. That kind of intense connection between individuals is hard to end with a wave or a hug - and, since Mr. D casts himself as the Greek father of his students, it's not surprising that matters took a dramatic turn.

On this day in June, the last day of classes, Mr. D doesn't seem bothered by this as he closes the door to his office (a sticker on it reads: "Hugs, not drugs"). He is already thinking about what play to do next, and about the Grade 11s who will become Grade 12s next year.

"I've never had a class of kids like this, Kelly," Mr. Danakas says to me. "I've never had a class of such perfect students."

Follow me on Twitter: @nestruck

Associated Graphic

Ember Cope gets emotional on the closing night of Les Mis at Lakeshore Collegiate Institute in Toronto in May.


Teacher Greg Danakas, left, takes a bow during the curtain call. Cast member Gabriel Valencia receives a hug from his father, Antonio, after the final show.

Italian star Sebastian Giovinco is keeping Toronto FC afloat by force of will. Only two dozen games into his MLS career, the little titan may already be the finest player in league history
Saturday, August 22, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S1

Just inside his right elbow, Sebastian Giovinco has a tattoo of a smiling cartoon blob flashing the "L" sign over its forehead.

"Loser," Giovinco explains, in a rare burst of English.

The "loser" is Giovinco himself.

After deciding six months ago to leave Juventus (hand way up here) for Toronto FC (hand way down there), he was slated in his national press.

It is difficult to fully capture the influence that group has over the opinions of soccer-obsessed (i.e. all) Italians. If those silken jackals want a coach fired, he's fired. If they want a player gone, he's gone. And if they decide you are no good, you stop mattering. Woe betides the man who catches their sneering notice.

"Most of them were saying, 'You're afraid to challenge yourself. It's simple to go into an easier league. That's why you've chosen Toronto,' " Giovinco says, speaking through a translator. "It was just common chatter.

I don't want to talk about it."

Very obviously, it bothered him. A lot. He spent the bulk of his introductory news conference wielding a metaphoric hacksaw, cutting all ties with the country of his birth: "In Italy, I had many problems. ... I wanted to find a city, a team, that from the beginning welcomed me."

Within a month of arriving in Canada, he'd decided on the tattoo.

"You think I'm a loser. I know that's what you think I am.

So, this is for you guys," he says flatly, staring hard at nothing. He purses his lips in that very Italian way and waggles a hand dismissively.

Giovinco's translator, Antonello, summarizes thusly: "It's an eff you."

It can be fairly said that while Giovinco would probably be a great player were he fully contented, his engine runs at much higher RPMs on resentment. To hear him tell it, the golden pitch that got him to Toronto was, "We want you." (The offer of $7.1-million [U.S.] a year - then the highest salary in league history - probably helped as well.)

But no one else put it to him that plainly. So here he is, reimagining what soccer can be at this level and transforming a cursed franchise.

Throughout its history, TFC has not sailed the seas of MLS. It's dragged the ocean floor. The team has spent stupid amounts of money trying to solve the problem.

It's still not solved.

Currently, the team has one hand flailing above water level, trying to hang on to a playoff position. This looks very much like déjà vu - a good run through the beginning and middle of the season, undone by a hundred-storey swoon at the end.

The difference in this case is Giovinco. He is keeping this team afloat by force of will. Only two dozen games into his MLS career, he may already be the finest player in league history.

You could describe what he's done statistically.

He has more goals (16) than the next five scorers on his team combined. He leads MLS in combined points - goals and assists (27). Despite playing from a recessed position, he's taken more shots on target than anyone in the league (53). It is axiomatic in soccer that no player can create offence by himself. Giovinco is the exception that proves that rule.

But to fully appreciate Giovinco's magic, you have to watch him. Everyone else is playing checkers. He's playing threedimensional chess. He has that special vision - literal and figurative - that allows him to see what's going to happen an instant before anyone else. Then he has the speed and skill to fully exploit that foreknowledge.

I put it to him that it all looks very easy when he does it. I can tell when the statement is only half-translated that he's already offended. He wants to explain all the work that goes into ... I cut off the translator.

"No, what I meant to say is that you look like you're working on a different level from everyone else."

He does me the favour of looking at me now.

"Grazie," he says. Then, "Thank you." Disaster averted.

Giovinco was raised in industrial Turin, the son of a metal worker and a waitress. He has a younger brother who plays professionally in Italy's third division.

Giovinco's parents are from the south - Calabria and Sicily. They went north looking for work. This common migration marks every Italian who makes it as a permanent outsider.

At eight years old, he was spotted playing in a suburban children's league by scouts from Juventus. He was brought into the club's academy.

In Turin, they call Juventus the Vecchia Signora - Old Lady. The nickname is a pun, but the club is mother to all the city's fans.

As just one example of his stubbornness, Giovinco continued to support his employer's bitter rival, AC Milan. He only shifted his allegiance grudgingly.

"Oh, well. When you're 15 years old at Juve, it's normal to root for them," he explained later. He signed his first professional contract at 17. At that point, he was already training with the senior team.

Despite an abundance of talent, his career at Juventus never fully launched. He was loaned out twice to lesser clubs and cut a sporadic figure on the national team. He was in and out of favour with a series of managers.

Most of this was down to his size. Soccer players are not big men, but they tend to have muscular heft, especially in the lower half. Giovinco is both small (5 foot 4) and wispy (listed at 137 pounds). Judging by the look of him, he may be the only professional athlete in North America who inflates his weight.

We are sitting in a trattoria in tony Yorkville. Giovinco lives a couple of blocks away at the residences of the Four Seasons Hotel.

He has arrived straight from practice in a T-shirt and shorts. He has a diamond bracelet on one wrist and a watch the size of a dinner plate on the other. The Italianspeaking wait staff are "Ciao"-ing up a storm.

He makes a great point of stopping to address each person in turn. "Is everybody eating?" he asks.

No, you go ahead.

This is a bad breach of table etiquette, but Giovinco doesn't want to insist. He shakes his head sadly.

He has a long discussion with the waiter about lunch. He wants a salad, but it isn't on the menu.

He lists off what he'd like in it - chicken, goat cheese and a light dressing. He inhales the first plate in the Italian style - fork and a hunk of bread acting in tandem.

Then he orders another. It's twice as big. It's gone just as fast.

He apologizes. "I don't eat like this all the time. I do have salad, but I'm an Italian."

By that, he means that he usually eats real food - pasta, pizza and such. It's charming to meet someone with a hang-up around food that works the opposite way. He's spent his life trying to gain weight.

Asked for his favourite restaurant in the area, he says, "My home."

This is the key allure of Toronto for Giovinco. It's completely different than what he's used to, but allows him to remain the same.

He moved here with his longtime partner, Sharj (it's her eye that you may have seen tattooed photo-realistically on the back of his neck), and their toddler son, Jacopo. By all accounts, Giovinco, 28, prefers the comforts of family life to the city's club scene.

This was not the case with Jermain Defoe, the big-money bust who preceded Giovinco. As such, it was a factor in making Giovinco the highest-paid Italian player in the world. Toronto FC hoped it was getting a highly motivated workaholic. In turn, Giovinco was hoping he could finally put his job in its proper perspective.

In Turin, he was hounded - by the press and fans. The fixation was exacerbated by the fact that he was a local product.

"You can't go for a walk with your family. You can't go buy an ice cream. There is too much passion. They're always on you: 'Please, please, please.' Here, it's different," Giovinco says. "They are more respectful. Let's call it 'educated.' They understand. In Italy, it's too much."

When the pressure is more reasonable, he feels a responsibility to be accessible. He recounts a recent chance meeting with a major sports star whose name he'd rather not have printed. Giovinco asked for a picture together.

He was rebuffed. "Not a good person," Giovinco says darkly in English.

Then, back in Italian: "I will take a picture with anyone who wants one. All they have to do is ask. If I don't want to take a picture, there is an easy way to solve that problem - I don't leave my house."

The owner of the restaurant has come over now - a fellow Calabrese. He wants to know if Giovinco wants any hard-to-find favourites. Perhaps some soppressata (cured sausage) or 'nduja (a spicy meat spread)? The owner's mother is going to make it for him, special. Giovinco is aglow.

"I'm in love with this city, the lifestyle," he says.

Is it the soccer or the culture that attracts you most? "For now, of course, it's more the lifestyle. I hope in the future it will also be the soccer. It [the quality of the North American game] is different. You can't say it's not."

From someone else, you might go ferreting around in that quote for an insult. But not Giovinco. He calls things by their real names and has fully delivered on his high-priced promise. What more could a city want?

Given how well he's playing and the changeable nature of his profession, will he stay if a much bigger European club comes for him?

He's on a five-year deal, but traditionally soccer contracts don't mean much if a player is motivated to leave.

"I'm happy to stay. This is a long-term project. But if Manchester City calls you? I don't think it will happen. If they really wanted me, they would've asked me before. That's being realistic.

Of course, once something happens, you need to think about it.

But I'm very happy here. I don't think I'm going to leave."

It's the sort of non-weaselly commitment that Toronto FC will be just as happy to hear. The team should worry about whether Giovinco is included in Italy's squad at Euro 2016, to be played in France. Exclusion from England's national set-up is what drove Defoe around the bend.

Giovinco has yet to receive any assurances, but Italy's manager Antonio Conte is a long-time admirer. Giovinco calls making that team "very important to me."

It would be a profound coup for MLS as a whole if one of its players featured in soccer's most difficult tournament. It's never happened.

Giovinco doesn't seem terribly bothered right now. He's finished eating and is in no hurry to rush off. Jacopo will wake up from his nap in a half hour. They'll spend the afternoon horsing around.

Perhaps later they'll all go for a walk. Having been denied the pleasure for so long, he's a great fan of the lazy urban stroll. He'll take a few pictures, but mostly he'll be ignored. As he prefers.

For now, the best soccer player in North America is happy to let soccer sort itself out. He's busy concentrating on living the bella vita, overseas division.

Follow me on Twitter: @cathalkelly

Associated Graphic


Just inside the right elbow of Toronto FC's Sebastian Giovinco, right, there is a tattoo of a smiling cartoon blob flashing the 'L' sign over its forehead. The Italian has explained it to mean 'loser' - a reminder of how the Italian media treated him when he left Juventus in Serie A for Major League Soccer.


Tattooed on the neck of the former Juve player is a photo-realistic drawing of one of the eyes of Sharj, his long-time partner.


Prime of her life
Serena Williams, 33, is having a season for the ages. She sends chills up the spines of competitors, all the while cementing her place as someone whose influence on tennis has been profound, Eric Duhatschek writes
Saturday, August 15, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S1

Serena Williams turned pro in 1995 at the age of 14, and the decision hardly caused a ripple at the time. Women's tennis had long been a teenager's game: In 1976, Tracy Austin made the cover of Sports Illustrated as a precocious 13-yearold in pigtails, with the caption "A Star Is Born"; in 1988, Steffi Graf won a calendar Grand Slam when she was 19.

When Williams captured her first Grand Slam title, the 1999 U.S. Open, she was 17, an up-and-comer. The reigning queen of women's tennis, the player she defeated, was the veteran Martina Hingis, who was all of 18.

But the pendulum has swung dramatically since that era, to the point where teens are comparatively rare and Williams, now 33, is turning in a season for the ages.

Williams has already won the first three Grand Slam events of the year - the Australian and French Opens, and Wimbledon. In September at the U.S. Open, playing as the defending champion, Williams will have a chance to win a calendar Grand Slam for the first time in her career.

What we're seeing from Williams this year is practically unprecedented in modern professional sport. Here is an athlete who's in the conversation for the greatest women's tennis player of all time and still the pre-eminent figure in the sport, yet she's nearing the end of her second decade as a pro.

Think of the greats in all other sports - team or individual, male or female - and ask yourself: After two decades, did any of them still dominate their peers the way Williams has this season?

She has compiled a 40-1 match record going into the Rogers Cup; her only singles loss was to Petra Kvitova on clay in Madrid back in the spring.

Sure many of the greats remained highly effective players and could often show glimpses of their former greatness. But not utter dominance.

Williams, today, casts such an imposing shadow over the women's game that, when she is on, most of her peers will concede they start tournaments fighting for second place.

"Obviously, Serena is a level above us when she's playing well, so it's hard," says Caroline Wozniacki, the No. 5 player on the tour and one of Williams's closest friend on the tour. "I think we all try and do our best to bring her to our level."

Apart from Graf in 1988, only Maureen Connolly("1953) and Margaret Court("1970) have ever won a calendar Grand Slam on the women's side.

"She's such an amazing athlete and I really hope she can do it," says Ana Ivanovic, who, as No. 6 in the world, is among the players who potentially could stand in Williams's way. "She's been working really hard and she's been on top of the game for so long, so I think she deserves it."

It is pointed out to Ivanovic that it's an odd thing to hear Williams's peers speak so admiringly - that they would be cheering on her competitor's pursuit of this significant career milestone.

"I know, I know," Ivanovic answers as a smile spreads animatedly across her face. "But she's such a great athlete and we're so lucky to have someone like her in our sport. I don't think many people realize it, and I don't think she gets enough credit for what she's achieved. Everyone only talks about men's tennis, but to have someone like Serena, it's really very fortunate."

Ivanovic raises an interesting question about Williams' career arc: Does she get enough credit for what she's accomplished on the tennis court?

Admittedly, at different times in her career, Williams has been a polarizing figure in the sport. She received well-deserved criticism - and a hefty fine - for verbally abusing a linesperson at the 2009 U.S. Open, going off, McEnroelike, after she'd been called for a foot fault at a critical point in a match she eventually lost to Kim Clijsters.

There have been injuries and illnesses along the way, resulting in dips in her ranking.

A current profile in New York Magazine shows her in a stunning photo layout, but the accompanying text can't resist a snarky dig about how she sells her fashion line on the Home Shopping Network.

But here in Toronto, competing in a Rogers Cup tournament she has won the past two times it was played in the city, she is the star, and other luminaries gather to watch her play. Drake and Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki - among the best at their respective pursuits - are here to acknowledge the absolute best in hers. On media day, she mounts a full charm offensive. She is open, chatty, makes eye contact and even engages in a bit of banter with reporters. She plays along as Wozniacki pretends to interview her during the press briefing. She appears content with the balance in her life - like a lot of athletes with many years and successes behind them, she acknowledges she is enjoying the second half of her career more than the first.

"Every year that goes by, I start to love the game more than in the previous year, and that's rare," Williams says. "Sometimes, I step out on that court - mainly for matches - and I really feel this incredible joy and appreciation of being out there. 'Wow. I'm living my dream.' " By this time in a career, she adds, "You've learned from your ups and downs, and you're able to not make the same mistakes and not feel the same pressures.

You almost feel a little more free because you don't have to prove anything. I think that plays a lot into it."

Mainstream commentaries about Williams's game generally focus on her power and strength, but according to Germany's Andrea Petkovic, who lost to Williams in the round of 16, that portrayal overlooks two other important parts of her game - her serve and her court sense.

"She's strong, obviously," Petkovic explains, "but when you play her, it's not her power, it's her serve. She just gets a lot of free points on her serve and you feel the pressure from there. But once she's in the rally, she tries to open up the court with the angle and then goes for the ball. She really builds the point. She doesn't always go full power."

"And I don't think she would be where she is with just that type of [power] game," Petkovic continues. "Maybe 10 years ago, but not today. Today is physically so fast, so you can get to those balls. If you play like this, we can handle those balls. But she plays very, very smart, and I think people don't give her enough credit for that. She's crafty. She can play anything. I remember the match she played against [Justine] Henin at the [2010] Australian Open, where she was forced to play the higher slice and the spin, and she did all that. People tend to focus on the most obvious, and that's the power, but you know, that's people."

Unlike some players of her generation, who grind it out week after week on tour, Williams has always played a shorter competition schedule. It hasn't prevented her from earning almost $73-million("U.S.) in career prize money, or attracting more than five million Twitter followers. But even though she's filled her off time pursuing a lot of different interests - from acting and fashion to philanthropy - Williams says ,"I haven't burned myself out."

Going into the Rogers Cup, she was ranked No. 1 with 12,371 points, miles ahead of Maria Sharapova, the No. 2 player in the world, who withdrew from Toronto because of an injury and is at 6,386. Sharapova won two of their first three career meetings back in 2004, but since then Williams has won 17 in a row.

What's more, according to Ivanovic, women's professional tennis has never been deeper, making the gap between Williams and the rest of the field all the more extraordinary.

"In times before, it was a little bit different. But now, from the first round in a Grand Slam, you have to fight for it," Ivanovic says.

"Even 10 years ago, when I was starting, top seeds, the first three or four rounds, they had it easy.

But now, it's changed a lot. The game is much tougher. So in this era, to be so dominant is amazing."

Women's Tennis Association chairman and CEO Stacey Allaster says Williams's influence has been profound, on and off the court, and the tour is lucky to have her.

"I think it's an absolute gift that she chose to play tennis," Allaster told The Globe and Mail's Rachel Brady. "If we look in the United States 15 years ago, there weren't that many African Americans playing tennis, and now, when we look at the top-100 Americans, there are several. So she is breaking some barriers there.

"Together with [sister] Venus, who has been our modern-day Billie Jean King, she has helped us achieve equal prize money.

Each generation takes the sport to the next level, and how lucky have we been to have two of the best of the best female athletes competing in our sport. They physically took the game to a new level with their strength and power. And now, playing tennis at 33 and 35, they have changed the way people think about the career length of our top players in women's tennis."

Still, Karl Hale, the tournament director in Toronto who has become a friend of the Williams family over the years, believes it is impossible to compare tennis players across the eras because so much has changed, from the equipment to the way players train and prepare for competition.

"All you can do is compare them to their eras, and how they dominate them. Just as Graf dominated hers, Serena is dominating hers and Martina [Navratilova] did as well.

"I've gotten to know [Serena] really well over the past couple of years because I took her whole family down to Jamaica, and they're an unbelievable family.

They're really close. They really support each other a lot. Public perception can be different at times, but they're incredible people. Really genuine. Really sweet.

"As you know, in her world, it's very difficult because there are so many needs and wants and asks for her. Behind the scenes, she's just an awesome person."

When Williams is asked about her legacy, she concedes that it does cross her mind occasionally.

"My legacy, I always hoped, would be just someone who was the best I could be on the court, but it would also be the things I've done off the court - the different charities I've been involved in," she says. "For me, the opportunity to be a good player has given me the opportunity to help other people, too. For me, that's really important."

And if the preteen Serena Williams, growing up in Compton, Calif., could look into a crystal ball and see what the soon-tobe-34-year-old version of her had accomplished, what would she think?

"I think she'd be really happy," Hale answers. "She's handled the fame really well. There've been a few moments here and there, but we all have those. She's done so much good for the community, but I also think she wants to leave a legacy as the greatest female player of all time. It really is important to her. So she's enjoying it, yes, but she's also putting a lot of pressure on herself to leave that mark on the game.

"Knowing her, she's not thinking about the finish line. She's taking every championship as it comes and continuing to do great things. But she's not done yet."

Follow me on Twitter: @eduhatschek

Associated Graphic


To understand the devaluation of the yuan and the changes in the Chinese economy today, look to the growth in its services sector rather than heavy industry, reports Nathan VanderKlippe in Beijing
Saturday, August 15, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A10

A few seconds past 9:25 a.m. on Tuesday, the People's Bank of China released an 85-word statement explaining why it had just lowered the value of its currency by 1.9 per cent, the biggest one-day cut since 1994. It was, the bank said, "for the purpose of enhancing the market orientation" of the yuan, whose notes still bear the likeness of Mao Zedong.

Markets responded as if the old Communist Party chairman had himself come back to run the second-largest economy on Earth. Within moments, commodities, stocks, currencies and hopes were sinking.

In their place was indignation.

"Currency war!" screamed bank analysts. "China has rigged the rules," complained Charles Schumer, the U.S. senator. "They're just destroying us!" yowled Donald Trump.

By Thursday, after a series of extraordinary interventions by the central bank, calm returned; on Friday, the yuan ticked back up a few notches.

In doing so, it offered a reminder of the yuan's trajectory over the past 15 months, in which it has done the exact opposite of decline. It has, instead, quietly soared. Relative to the euro and the Australian dollar, the yuan is up more than 20 per cent since May, 2014. By early this week, it was by some measures the most overvalued of the world's biggest currencies. China is now growing at the slowest pace in a quarter-century, a key reason for global slowdown worries. But as faltering economic prospects have brought widespread devaluation of currencies - the loonie included - in China itself, authorities were letting the yuan fly.

For China, the high yuan has become another powerful tool in propelling a shift that is upending China's economy, a change whose global reverberations have only just begun.

After decades of overseeing a country wedded to industry, Chinese planners have in just a few short years watched the factories and steel mills that were once their chief growth engines take a back seat to the captains of the new economy - the investment banks, restaurant chains and airlines that make up the services sector.

China has long sought to jack up its services sector, in hopes of fashioning itself after more developed countries. Now it's happening, propelled in part by a series of financial policies that are reshaping the country and, in the process, substantially altering the role China will play as a world consumer in years to come - a shift with important implications for resource-heavy countries such as Canada.

This year, for the first time, China is likely to see services represent more than half its economy - a remarkable change from 2012, when services, at 44.6 per cent, still lagged industry.("China still lags far behind other countries; in Canada, services are roughly 70 per cent; in India, 57 per cent.)

The change has come with little help from Chinese consumers, who have largely stuck to old saving habits rather than spending their way to a modern retail economy. In the U.S., consumer spending makes up two-thirds of GDP. In China, it's half that - a figure that has only just begun to rise after a decades-long slide from 51 per cent in 1985.

And China has had other reasons to keep a high yuan, which has been useful in stemming capital flight.

Bureaucratic inertia has also played a role: After opting to march in lockstep with the U.S. dollar, China simply kept going as the greenback climbed a mountain.

But along the way, the strong currency has also helped speed the country's transformation. Combined with high interest rates and a rising consumer class, the currency has brought heavy pressure to what Ken Courtis, chairman of Starfort Investments Holdings and a former managing director of Goldman Sachs, calls China's "old smokestack, industrial, capital-intensive companies."

It is, he said, "a recipe for killing off highly indebted companies that can't generate profit" - a tidy way to describe the industries that built China, and whose recent struggles have made the country's National Bureau of Statistics a dealer in ugly figures.

Growing numbers of steel makers are now losing money and steel output is expected to fall 2 per cent this year. Seventy per cent of coal firms are in the red and coal production is down 4.5 per cent. Cement profits are down 67.6 per cent and output has tumbled 5.3 per cent.

Some manufactured goods are faring worse: industrial boiler production has fallen 13.5 per cent this year; smelting equipment plunged 26.7 per cent in June. Nationwide, Chinese exports fell 8.3 per cent in July.

As just one example of the scale of change, "this idea that we've seen peak steel is completely plausible," said Nicholas Lardy, an author and fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics who has written extensively on the development of the Chinese economy. "And if that's the case, the 20- to 30-percent growth in steel output that was driving everybody for a decade - that's long gone."

The idea that Chinese demand has crested, and the likelihood that no other nation will replace it, suggests waning commodity prices are a preview of a greater reckoning that looms for Canada and other nations whose race to build resource extraction capacity was based on a belief that the pull from across the Pacific would continue for years. That no longer seems likely.

In China, meanwhile the services sector - those hotels, banks, cellphone providers and spas - is roaring. In the first half of 2015, the GDP among services rose 8.4 per cent, some 21/2 times the growth rate in the primary, or extractive, sector.

Businesses in catering and retail sales are surging at a double-digit clip, and they're pulling the rest of the country with them. If China continues at its current pace, its service sector will help create a third more jobs this year than in the heyday of big industrial expansion.

"The relationship between industrial growth and GDP growth has completely broken down," said Mr. Lardy.

The change is profound, but "grossly underappreciated."

In other words, to understand the Chinese economy today, you'd be better to look at its hotels than its factories.

The 100 employees at Healthyland Industry Co. Ltd. pump out pillowy, red, leather recliners and other furniture for export. Owner Lawrence Ma sells sofas in 30 countries; in Canada, they're sold at International Furniture Distribution Centre in Concord, Ont.

Recent years have not been kind to China's furniture makers.

A big sofa factory stuffs and ships 100 containers a month. In 2008, Dongguan was home to more than 100 such firms. "Now, you can't find 20," said Mr. Ma, whose own firm has kept its head above water.

Industrywide "exports are down more than 30 per cent."

In the past year, the strong yuan has further eaten away at profits already made thin by soaring worker costs. It's also increasingly hard to find good people among a new generation of highly educated youth born to middle-class families. "They don't want to work in a factory. They want to work in an office," Mr. Ma said.

They are being called by the siren song of the service sector.

"If I had the money, I wouldn't make sofas," Mr. Ma said. But it's not clear what he would do, even if he had the cash. "The whole of China is slowing down, and there's more and more risk," he said. "It's not so easy to make money."

Flipping an economy on its head is not easy, particularly in a place that has long exercised strong central control. In building a new economy, China has been forced to confront a raft of problems, including an instinct for heavy-handed management.

For China to modernize, entrepreneurs say a lighter touch is required.

The tension between the two came glaringly into view in recent months.

China's high-flying bourses and its devaluation of the yuan both exemplified a new bid to let markets flourish. But when stocks crashed and the yuan began to fall, Beijing quickly stepped in with shows of massive force, barring funds and executives from selling shares and ordering state-owned banks to spend enough dollars to keep the yuan riding high.

Authorities "worried that market overreaction would exceed what they could control. So they reverted to old-style command-and-control thinking," said Wang Fuzhong, an economics professor at Central University of Finance and Economics.

For entrepreneurs, the persistence of old ways creates tensions that occasionally boil over. This spring, a Chinese hotelier grabbed public attention by posting online a startlingly direct letter to Premier Li Keqiang.

In it, Wu Hai, the founder of China's Crystal Orange Hotel Group, complained that the government stifles growth through dense red tape and the dominance of state-owned companies he called "big brothers."

"After our left cheek has been slapped by the big brothers, we sons of bitches can only turn our right cheek for another slap," he wrote.

He lamented the "shackles" placed on entrepreneurs in China.

It was hardly a diplomatic letter - and as it blazed its way through the Chinese Internet, he feared he would be shut down. Instead, he gained hero status and was invited to Zhongnanhai, the secretive Beijing compound home to China's most powerful people, for a meeting.

He was told Mr. Li personally read the letter, which underscored a central problem: Even as China tries to remake itself into a more modern economy, its service sector has yet to break free from government control.

An analysis in China's New Place in a World in Crisis, published by Australian National University, found that as recently as 2007, state firms mopped up 92 per cent of the profit and held 94 per cent of the assets among the top 500 service-sector companies. The years since have brought only modest change to government dominance in the sector.

"There's been a whole lot of positive inducements to try to encourage the growth of services, the growth of small and medium enterprises. But there hasn't been any real significant cutting away of the state sector and the administrative privileges and special access to finance they have," said Charles Horne, the economy portfolio manager at Beijing research and advisory firm China Policy. "It's been stalled because there's a lot of vested interests."

Adding to those problems is a bureaucracy stuck in another age, Mr. Wu said.

When local leaders set out to encourage innovation and new growth, they do it with money in hand, trying to pick winners and losers. In the process, they create "a new unfairness. They don't know how to help," he said. "They need to let the market play the role."

Still, his own business is mirroring the broader service sector and growing at breakneck speed. His network of 72 hotels will, in roughly a year, expand by another 60.

And if he ever worries at the future of his industry, he need only look at his young staff, who may provide the best sign that China's grey days of concrete and steel are increasingly giving way to designer clothes and glitzy vacations as a new generation discards the old consumer reticence. "They travel a lot. They go overseas. They're willing to spend money," he said.

"That's a big change to me. They don't save money like our generation did. And with consumers willing to spend, China is changing from a manufacturing base to a consumption economy. That's a really good thing."

Associated Graphic



Shape up or ship out
Canada will start to lose out unless more domestic bitumen upgraders and refineries are built, Brent Jang reports
Saturday, August 15, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S1

A wooden sign stands at the entrance to Suncor Energy Inc.'s Voyageur property north of Fort McMurray, a reminder of false starts for nurturing Canada's oil wealth.

It's a site map for the sprawling complex in Alberta's oil sands, showing where an array of equipment and tanks would have been located if Suncor hadn't pulled the plug in the spring of 2013.

Suncor cancelled the $11.6-billion upgrader project after investing $3.5-billion on the early construction phases.

The oil giant decided upon reflection that it doesn't make economic sense to construct a new plant to upgrade tar-like bitumen into synthetic light crude.

A four-hour drive south of Fort McMurray, North West Upgrading Inc.'s refinery is under construction near Edmonton. The $8.5billion project is slated to begin operating in the fall of 2017. The Alberta government backstopped the venture in 2011, clearing the way for North West to break ground in the fall of 2013, just months after Suncor ditched Voyageur.

North West chief executive officer Ian MacGregor warns that Canada will lose out unless companies build more domestic upgraders and refineries. North West, through its wholly owned subsidiary NW Refining Inc., will be primarily producing lowercarbon diesel for the domestic market.

"There's a huge transfer of value - taxes, jobs and economic activity - to Texas and other places south. If you don't care about that, maybe that's okay. But if you want some schools, hospitals and jobs, you want bitumen processed in Canada," Mr. MacGregor says as he tours the sprawling construction site near Redwater in Sturgeon County.

Canada sent almost 1.2 million barrels of unprocessed bitumen a day to the United States last year, or about 60 per cent of daily oil sands production.

That production from Alberta is forecast to surge over the next five years. The conventional wisdom among Canadian oil producers is that in the years ahead, increasing market access south of the border and expanding to Asia will be crucial to moving bitumen out of landlocked Alberta.

But in British Columbia, there are high hopes that where Alberta faltered with only one refinery in the works, the West Coast will prevail in producing refined products such as diesel, gasoline and jet fuel.

Exports are the goal of three B.C.-based refining projects.

Those proposals are spearheaded by upstarts seeking to send refined products across the Pacific Ocean. Two of the B.C. proposals - Pacific Future Energy and Kitimat Clean - involve building pipelines from Alberta to northwestern British Columbia, where the bitumen would be converted into refined products for export to Asia. Pacific Future Energy is also examining moving crude by rail to its proposed refinery site near Prince Rupert.

A third oil proposal, Eagle Spirit Energy, envisages refining the bitumen into finished products either in Alberta or northeast B.C., before piping them to the West Coast for export.

Some industry officials believe the B.C.-based refining projects are a long shot because proponents need to lure financial backers and find a way to win over First Nations groups. Another challenge is competing against huge Asian refineries in their own backyard.

"If it were economic to have a new refinery, I assure you there would be one," says Ian Anderson, president of Kinder Morgan Canada, which is proposing to expand its Trans Mountain pipeline from the Edmonton area to Burnaby. Trans Mountain's existing system carries heavy and light oil, as well as diesel and gasoline In the early 1990s, there were four oil refineries in the B.C. Lower Mainland. Today, there is only one in the region, operated by Chevron Canada Ltd.

Still, proponents say their ideas deserve serious consideration. The B.C. players point out that oil pipeline proposals geared toward transporting bitumen have run into fierce opposition, including routes planned for refineries in the United States("Keystone XL) and Asia("Trans Mountain expansion and Northern Gateway). That leaves fewer options for getting bitumen to market.

British Columbia is counting on having a geographic advantage. Being on tidewater, the refineries contemplated by Pacific Future Energy and Kitimat Clean would be easier and cheaper to assemble in B.C. than in Alberta because prefabricated modules would be shipped over from Asia.

Mr. MacGregor argues that more of Alberta's oil sands bitumen should be kept in Canada for upgrading into synthetic light crude or further processing into refined products. "Many U.S. refineries have expanded their capacity. They say, 'We want Canadian oil feedstock.

Keep sending it.' But I think Canada needs to build more refineries. The finished product is more valuable. You can't put bitumen in your car. It would be like putting tar in your tank," he says.

Judith Dwarkin, chief energy economist at ITG Investment Research, warns that spending billions of dollars to increase refining capacity within Canada is no economic panacea. She notes that North West received big subsidies when the Alberta government agreed to supply 37,500 barrels a day of bitumen to the company and also pay fees for processing. "It isn't really a commercially-based decision, but is diverting public funds from other uses in order to subsidize the processing of oil," Ms. Dwarkin says.

Ted Morton, executive fellow at the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy, issued a study in April that called North West a "boondoggle with high risks for Alberta taxpayers."

North West will be the first oil refinery to open in Canada since 1984. A North Dakota refinery that opened earlier this year was the first to be built in the United States since 1976.

North America's refining industry has proven to be a tough business over the past 40 years as dozens of plants closed.

Industry players have chosen to expand existing refineries or make them more efficient instead of building new ones, says Bill Simpkins of the Canadian Fuels Association, which represents the refining sector.

Suncor is a supporter of TransCanada Corp.'s controversial Energy East pipeline project, which proposes to take unprocessed bitumen from Alberta to New Brunswick for export.

Some of the raw commodity could potentially be processed at Suncor's Montreal refinery if that plant gets retrofitted to handle diluted bitumen.

Cenovus Energy Inc., which jointly owns two U.S. refineries, is among the Canadian companies keen on sending bitumen into the United States. Cenovus and other producers also want to sell the raw commodity to customers in Asia.

But with low oil prices, some North American refineries are thriving after years of facing thin profit margins.

Last month, premiers approved a national energy strategy, including efforts to bolster the Canadian economy by processing more of the raw material within this country. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, B.C. Premier Christy Clark and their counterparts pledged to support "value-added processing" as part of their 40-page national energy strategy.

Stockwell Day, the former leader of the Canadian Alliance, is Pacific Future Energy's advisory board chairman. He argues that exporting refined products would pose a substantially lower risk to the environment than a tanker spilling bitumen into the ocean.

Despite the skeptics, Mr. Day envisages a new era for the oil sands - valued-added activity that creates more jobs and generates economic spinoffs: "Why ship the jobs and prosperity out of Canada?"


What upgraders do: Upgrade tar-like bitumen from the oil sands into synthetic light crude, which in turn is further processed at refineries into finished petroleum products.

Number of Canadian upgraders: Five in Alberta - Suncor Energy Inc., Syncrude Canada Ltd., Shell Canada Ltd., Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. and Nexen Energy ULC. As well, there is an upgrader in Lloydminster, Sask., operated by Husky that also refines oil into diesel.

What refineries make: Refined products such as gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

Number of Canadian refineries: 16("eight in the West and eight in the East).

One refinery in Canada under construction: North West Upgrading Inc.'s joint venture with Canadian Natural Resources near Redwater, Alta.

(Despite the name, North West will produce refined products such as diesel.)

Canada's largest refinery: Irving Oil Ltd.'s Saint John plant has been a major exporter of refined products for decades. Irving exports more than three-quarters of its production of gasoline, jet fuel and home heating oil to the New York and Boston regions by tanker, said Patricia Mohr, vice-president and commodity market specialist at Scotiabank.

Exports to U.S.: U.S. refineries are major buyers of Canadian oil. For example, Calgary-based Cenovus Energy Inc. sells much of its production into the U.S. market, where it has two jointly-owned refineries("one in Texas and the other in Illinois) that have significant capacity to process Canadian heavy oil.

Pioneers: Suncor and Syncrude are the two pioneers in the the oil sands. Suncor has been in the upgrading business since 1967 at its main property near Fort McMurray while Syncrude began operating in 1978.


Major producers in the energy industry want to increase shipments of bitumen instead of building costly new refineries to handle a forecast surge in oil sands production in the years ahead.

While the U.S. has been the traditional market for Canadian oil exports, producers are also turning their sights to customers in Asia to expand to new global markets.

Here are five controversial oil pipeline plans:

Enbridge Inc.'s Northern Gateway: This bitumen pipeline project from the Bruderheim, Alta., to Kitimat, B.C., continues to face stiff opposition from First Nations in British Columbia.

Kinder Morgan Canada Inc.'s Trans Mountain: Plans to expand the pipeline from Alberta's Strathcona County to Burnaby, B.C., would increase the number of oil tanker shipments from Vancouver's Burrard Inlet to 34 a month from five.

TransCanada Corp.'s Keystone XL: The proposed route from Alberta to Nebraska has been a lightning rod for U.S. climate change activists opposed to the oil sands and faced political opposition in Washington.

TransCanada Corp.'s Energy East: The project would improve market access from the West to two Quebec refineries and also be a boost for Irving Oil Ltd.'s Saint John refinery and potential oil exports from New Brunswick. Suncor Energy Inc. could benefit if it adds a coker("used to process heavy oil such as bitumen) at its Montreal refinery. The Alberta bitumen would displace imported oil at the Montreal refinery.

Enbridge Inc.'s reversal of Line 9B: While the four proposals listed above face major obstacles, testing on Line 9B is expected to done by the end of this year to clear the way for light oil to flow from Ontario to Quebec.

Refineries and upgraders in Canada There are five upgraders in Alberta, as well as one in Lloydminster, Sask., operated by Husky that also refines oil into diesel. Of the 16 operating refineries in Canada, there are eight in the West, including the Lloydminster Husky upgrader, and eight in the East. North West Upgrading Inc.'s joint venture with Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. is the lone refinery under construction in Canada.

Associated Graphic

Ian MacGregor, CEO of North West, is on site where a refinery is currently under construction near Redwater, Alta.



'But if you want some schools, hospitals and jobs, you want bitumen processed in Canada,' CEO of North West Upgrading Ian MacGregor says.

North West seen beyond a canola field.

A vacuum tower and furnace are prepared for installation at North West near Redwater, Alta. PHOTOS BY


Shape up or ship out
Canada will start to lose out unless more domestic bitumen upgraders and refineries are built, Brent Jang reports
Saturday, August 15, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S1

A wooden sign stands at the entrance to Suncor Energy Inc.'s Voyageur property north of Fort McMurray, a reminder of false starts for nurturing Canada's oil wealth.

It's a site map for the sprawling complex in Alberta's oil sands, showing where an array of equipment and tanks would have been located if Suncor hadn't pulled the plug in the spring of 2013. Suncor cancelled the $11.6-billion upgrader project after investing $3.5-billion on the early construction phases. The oil giant decided upon reflection that it doesn't make economic sense to construct a new plant to upgrade tar-like bitumen into synthetic light crude.

A four-hour drive south of Fort McMurray, North West Upgrading Inc.'s refinery is under construction near Edmonton. The $8.5-billion project is slated to begin operating in the fall of 2017. The Alberta government backstopped the venture in 2011, clearing the way for North West to break ground in the fall of 2013, just months after Suncor ditched Voyageur.

North West chief executive officer Ian MacGregor warns that Canada will lose out unless companies build more domestic upgraders and refineries. North West, through its wholly owned subsidiary NW Refining Inc., will be primarily producing lowercarbon diesel for the domestic market.

"There's a huge transfer of value - taxes, jobs and economic activity - to Texas and other places south. If you don't care about that, maybe that's okay.

But if you want some schools, hospitals and jobs, you want bitumen processed in Canada," Mr. MacGregor says as he tours the sprawling construction site near Redwater in Sturgeon County.

Canada sent almost 1.2 million barrels of unprocessed bitumen a day to the United States last year, or about 60 per cent of daily oil sands production. That production from Alberta is forecast to surge over the next five years. The conventional wisdom among Canadian oil producers is that in the years ahead, increasing market access south of the border and expanding to Asia will be crucial to moving bitumen out of landlocked Alberta.

But in British Columbia, there are high hopes that where Alberta faltered with only one refinery in the works, the West Coast will prevail in producing refined products such as diesel, gasoline and jet fuel.

Exports are the goal of three B.C.-based refining projects. Those proposals are spearheaded by upstarts seeking to send refined products across the Pacific Ocean. Two of the B.C. proposals - Pacific Future Energy and Kitimat Clean - involve building pipelines from Alberta to northwestern British Columbia, where the bitumen would be converted into refined products for export to Asia. Pacific Future Energy is also examining moving crude by rail to its proposed refinery site near Prince Rupert.

A third oil proposal, Eagle Spirit Energy, envisages refining the bitumen into finished products either in Alberta or northeast B.C., before piping them to the West Coast for export.

Some industry officials believe the B.C.-based refining projects are a long shot because proponents need to lure financial backers and find a way to win over First Nations groups. Another challenge is competing against huge Asian refineries in their own backyard.

"If it were economic to have a new refinery, I assure you there would be one," says Ian Anderson, president of Kinder Morgan Canada, which is proposing to expand its Trans Mountain pipeline from the Edmonton area to Burnaby. Trans Mountain's existing system carries heavy and light oil, as well as diesel and gasoline In the early 1990s, there were four oil refineries in the B.C. Lower Mainland. Today, there is only one in the region, operated by Chevron Canada Ltd.

Still, proponents say their ideas deserve serious consideration.

The B.C. players point out that oil pipeline proposals geared toward transporting bitumen have run into fierce opposition, including routes planned for refineries in the United States("Keystone XL) and Asia("Trans Mountain expansion and Northern Gateway). That leaves fewer options for getting bitumen to market.

British Columbia is counting on having a geographic advantage.

Being on tidewater, the refineries contemplated by Pacific Future Energy and Kitimat Clean would be easier and cheaper to assemble in B.C. than in Alberta because prefabricated modules would be shipped over from Asia.

Mr. MacGregor argues that more of Alberta's oil sands bitumen should be kept in Canada for upgrading into synthetic light crude or further processing into refined products. "Many U.S. refineries have expanded their capacity. They say, 'We want Canadian oil feedstock. Keep sending it.' But I think Canada needs to build more refineries.

The finished product is more valuable. You can't put bitumen in your car. It would be like putting tar in your tank," he says.

Judith Dwarkin, chief energy economist at ITG Investment Research, warns that spending billions of dollars to increase refining capacity within Canada is no economic panacea. She notes that North West received big subsidies when the Alberta government agreed to supply 37,500 barrels a day of bitumen to the company and also pay fees for processing. "It isn't really a commercially-based decision, but is diverting public funds from other uses in order to subsidize the processing of oil," Ms. Dwarkin says.

Ted Morton, executive fellow at the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy, issued a study in April that called North West a "boondoggle with high risks for Alberta taxpayers."

North West will be the first oil refinery to open in Canada since 1984. A North Dakota refinery that opened earlier this year was the first to be built in the United States since 1976.

North America's refining industry has proven to be a tough business over the past 40 years as dozens of plants closed. Industry players have chosen to expand existing refineries or make them more efficient instead of building new ones, says Bill Simpkins of the Canadian Fuels Association, which represents the refining sector.

Suncor is a supporter of TransCanada Corp.'s controversial Energy East pipeline project, which proposes to take unprocessed bitumen from Alberta to New Brunswick for export. Some of the raw commodity could potentially be processed at Suncor's Montreal refinery if that plant gets retrofitted to handle diluted bitumen.

Cenovus Energy Inc., which jointly owns two U.S. refineries, is among the Canadian companies keen on sending bitumen into the United States. Cenovus and other producers also want to sell the raw commodity to customers in Asia.

But with low oil prices, some North American refineries are thriving after years of facing thin profit margins.

Last month, premiers approved a national energy strategy, including efforts to bolster the Canadian economy by processing more of the raw material within this country. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, B.C. Premier Christy Clark and their counterparts pledged to support "value-added processing" as part of their 40-page national energy strategy.

Stockwell Day, the former leader of the Canadian Alliance, is Pacific Future Energy's advisory board chairman. He argues that exporting refined products would pose a substantially lower risk to the environment than a tanker spilling bitumen into the ocean.

Despite the skeptics, Mr. Day envisages a new era for the oil sands - valued-added activity that creates more jobs and generates economic spinoffs: "Why ship the jobs and prosperity out of Canada?"


What upgraders do: Upgrade tar-like bitumen from the oil sands into synthetic light crude, which in turn is further processed at refineries into finished petroleum products.

Number of Canadian upgraders: Five in Alberta - Suncor Energy Inc., Syncrude Canada Ltd., Shell Canada Ltd., Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.

and Nexen Energy ULC. As well, there is an upgrader in Lloydminster, Sask., operated by Husky that also refines oil into diesel.

What refineries make: Refined products such as gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

Number of Canadian refineries:16("eight in the West and eight in the East).

One refinery in Canada under construction: North West Upgrading Inc.'s joint venture with Canadian Natural Resources near Redwater, Alta.

Canada's largest refinery: Irving Oil Ltd.'s Saint John plant has been a major exporter of refined products for decades. Irving exports more than three-quarters of its production of gasoline, jet fuel and home heating oil to the New York and Boston regions by tanker.

Exports to U.S.: U.S. refineries are major buyers of Canadian oil. For example, Calgarybased Cenovus Energy Inc. sells much of its production into the U.S. market, where it has two jointly-owned refineries("one in Texas and the other in Illinois) that have significant capacity to process Canadian heavy oil.

Pioneers: Suncor and Syncrude are the two pioneers in the the oil sands. Suncor has been in the upgrading business since 1967 at its main property near Fort McMurray while Syncrude began operating in 1978.


Major producers in the energy industry want to increase shipments of bitumen instead of building costly new refineries to handle a forecast surge in oil sands production in the years ahead.

While the U.S. has been the traditional market for Canadian oil exports, producers are also turning their sights to customers in Asia to expand to new global markets.

Here are five controversial oil pipeline plans:

Enbridge Inc.'s Northern Gateway: This bitumen pipeline project from the Bruderheim, Alta., to Kitimat, B.C., continues to face stiff opposition from First Nations in British Columbia.

Kinder Morgan Canada Inc.'s Trans Mountain: Plans to expand the pipeline from Alberta's Strathcona County to Burnaby, B.C., would increase the number of oil tanker shipments from Vancouver's Burrard Inlet to 34 a month from five.

TransCanada Corp.'s Keystone XL: The proposed route from Alberta to Nebraska has been a lightning rod for U.S. climate change activists opposed to the oil sands and faced political opposition in Washington.

TransCanada Corp.'s Energy East: The project would improve market access from the West to two Quebec refineries and also be a boost for Irving Oil Ltd.'s Saint John refinery and potential oil exports from New Brunswick. Suncor Energy Inc. could benefit if it adds a coker("used to process heavy oil such as bitumen) at its Montreal refinery. The Alberta bitumen would displace imported oil at the Montreal refinery.

Enbridge Inc.'s reversal of Line 9B: While the four proposals listed above face major obstacles, testing on Line 9B is expected to done by the end of this year to clear the way for light oil to flow from Ontario to Quebec.

Refineries and upgraders in Canada There are five upgraders in Alberta, as well as one in Lloydminster, Sask., operated by Husky that also refines oil into diesel. Of the 16 operating refineries in Canada, there are eight in the West, including the Lloydminster Husky upgrader, and eight in the East. North West Upgrading Inc.'s joint venture with Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. is the lone refinery under construction in Canada.

Associated Graphic

Ian MacGregor, CEO of North West, is on site where a refinery is currently under construction near Redwater, Alta.



'But if you want some schools, hospitals and jobs, you want bitumen processed in Canada,' CEO of North West Upgrading Ian MacGregor says.

North West seen beyond a canola field.

A vacuum tower and furnace are prepared for installation at North West near Redwater, Alta.

Piping is prepared for a refinery at the site of North West near Redwater Alta.


Back together with my brother
Fourteen summers before ... the bond between us, a bond I had believed to be unbreakable, had been shattered
Friday, August 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L3

I suddenly heard from my brother, whom I hadn't heard from in years. He sent a text: "Holy crap, Min, you're having a baby! That's awesome!"

I suppose everyone in my family was incredulous. Perhaps my mother recognized the unlikelihood early on; she never exerted any pressure, never even expressed a desire for grandchildren. And yet, when I did become pregnant, she began to unearth clothes, a bassinet, a hairbrush, blankets, cups, bowls and spoons - things she'd carried across an ocean and held on to for more than 40 years.

Micah and I had never talked about having kids. But then we hadn't really talked as adults.

Fourteen summers before, when I gave up my apartment in the city and took up residence in my brother's trailer, the bond between us, a bond I had believed to be unbreakable, had been shattered.

One weekend my brother came up with his then-girlfriend, a troubled, quiet girl with white face paint and pierced black lips.

My brother is a canvas of tattoos - her look was not unfamiliar in his world, but out there, in the woods, it was startling. She looked like she'd never seen the sun, and yet they spent the weekends engaged in the all-Canadian summer pastimes of boating, fishing, jet skiing, barbecuing large slabs of meat and drinking beer.

He went off one night to fix a pipe in a neighbouring trailer, and I was forced to be polite and make conversation with the girlfriend. She opened up a bit, talking about her family. An hour later Micah came home, found us talking in the trailer and asked us what the fuck we were up to. He was so angry his hands were shaking. I'd never seen him like this and it scared me. I retreated to the tent but couldn't shut out the sounds of their fighting.

It was the middle of the night when I woke up startled, a flashlight shining in my face. My brother started ranting, shouting profanities so extreme I can't repeat them to this day. I started to cry. I didn't understand what I had done wrong. For fuck's sake - he'd left me with the damaged goth girl, I'd just been doing my best to find some point of connection.

He growled and barked at me.

Seeing me scared, huddling inside the tent, only fuelled him. I was 13 years old again, night had fallen. I found myself shrinking in the corner of my brother's tent.

But wait - I wasn't 13 any more. I tried to push past him to get out, but he blocked me. He abruptly left, but moved his truck so that it hemmed in the tent and my car. I was trapped for the night. I left early the next day. I returned to the trailer on Monday morning. I stayed during the week and slept in my car on the weekends. I had nowhere else to go.

We hadn't spent time together as a family since; not a Christmas dinner in 14 years. I never did get an explanation or an apology.

Several years after this incident, he started calling me in the middle of the night to tell me he didn't want me to be afraid of him any more. I stopped picking up the phone. A few years later I learned he had a serious drug problem. That explained his rage and paranoia, but it did not absolve him. It made me feel so sad for the lovely boy he had once been, so guilty that I should have survived the mess of my father where he had not. But I was no less afraid of him.

Hence my total surprise at this text. My situation had moved him to make contact. He told me he'd been clean for a year and a half and he asked if there was anything he could do to help. He had stepped up just when I needed him most. A giant wave of forgiveness swept over the past 14 years.

"Build me a deck?" I said, my nesting instinct now extending to the world outside.

"You got it," he replied.

It took him a month to turn up, but when he did, he arrived with tools in hand, ready to work. I heaved the bulk of myself into the cabin of his big stencilled pickup with its overflowing ashtray, sagging seats, gun rack and littered floor, and he flipped open the engine lid to connect the battery to start the truck, jerked it into neutral (which is actually first), cranked the heavy metal, rolled the windows down for some relief in the stifling heat and drove us to the lumber yard, chain-smoking the whole way.

This was not how I pictured spending the last week of my pregnancy. It was not, I imagined, where a woman in her last week of pregnancy should be.

And yet, I soon had a beautiful cedar deck under way as well as plans for a flower bed and a water feature. More importantly, I had a brother for the first time in years.

There will be five of us tonight at the table in my white Ikea kitchen with the bright blue linoleum floor. Through the glass, the leaves are fluttering to the ground. It's cold and blustery outside and I am in the mood to roast a chicken.

Everyone has an opinion on how to roast a chicken. I like to insert half an onion, half a lemon and a few buds of smashed garlic into the cavity, grind liberal amounts of salt and pepper over the skin, slip in slices of garlic here and there, place sprigs of tarragon, if I have them, between the legs and breasts. A few dollops of butter will crisp the skin. And if you're feeling really indulgent, there's always bacon.

My brother, Micah, says: Do it, go for the bacon. He has shot and cooked any number of birds himself. It's the legacy of our English father - what men of a certain class do. I know the taste of lead. I wouldn't know the taste of pheasant or rabbit without it.

That my brother is here in my kitchen expressing an opinion about chicken, that my brother is here in this most ordinary of settings, still strikes me as nothing short of a miracle. He was here at the end of the summer and has now returned to renovate my basement. Tita, my daughter's Filipina nanny and my personal saviour, calls him Tito Mike.

He is terrified to pick up his niece, though, so afraid that he'll hurt her in some way. I put the baby in his arms a few times just to prove to him that he won't break her. He stands in the kitchen with his shaved head and goatee and his tall frame, every inch of his skin covered in angry ink, and looks amazed and terrified by this little white egg in his arms.

He jumps back whenever she sneezes. He pulls up Herb Alpert on my iPod. The egg flails her legs enthusiastically to Spanish Flea and Tijuana Taxi, which never fails to make us laugh.

We take her with us to Home Depot when we go to get building materials. "You know people think you're the father," I say.

"Cool," he says.

Tita and Micah have, I think, a sweet little flirtation going on, though neither of them would ever admit it. They are both beautiful to look at: Tita with her long, thick hair and brown wide-eyed face; Tito Mike tall, dark and handsome beyond the tattoos.

He's a man to admire, one with an amazing breadth of talent. He is a visual artist and a silversmith. He earns a living as a welder. He once built his own cabin in the woods.

When Tita tells Micah the story of her last employers and how they still, despite my e-mails and phone calls to them, owe her two weeks' pay, he gets furious. They claim they cannot pay her until she comes to pick up her things.

Tita thinks she might have left a pair of jeans at their house - she can't think of anything else.

My brother offers to accompany her, but as tempting as it is to imagine Tita turning up on a suburban door step with a six-foottwo, 240-pound tattooed white guy, we realize this may be perceived as threatening. I will carry on with the e-mails and phone calls. I will be a mosquito buzzing around their heads until they can't stand it any more.

Micah and Tita are back to talking about food - a shared passion.

He worked in a kitchen for years; she learned to cook in Singapore from an old Chinese woman. "I didn't even know how to chop vegetable before," she says. Her father, who was once a cook in a Chinese restaurant on the island of Mindanao, did all the cooking at home when she was growing up. She makes many of her Chinese lola's recipes now.

My tastes were a surprise to her: "You know how to eat spicy?" A meal isn't a meal without a bit of heat, we agree. Tita is at home in our neighbourhood among the Chinese groceries, the Vietnamese restaurants and bakeries. A familiar palate, the taste of home - it matters more than one might realize.

Tita had worked only in the suburbs before coming to live with me, miles of houses, nowhere to go, no spice. She arrived at my house with recipes for quiche. Canadian food, if there is such a definable thing, is boring to her. The one exception is cheese. "You make me so expensive!" Tita says after she tastes aged cheddar for the first time. She and Tito Mike are locusts for aged cheddar. A brick of it will last only three days in our house. When she and Micah win four dollars each on a lottery scratch card, they buy cheese for the house with the winnings.

Last to arrive for dinner tonight is my friend Miles, who is coming in by bus from the grey town miles away. I don't wait to ask her opinion on how to roast a chicken; she has never roasted anything in her life. She cooks Island food - lobster, potatoes, mussels, things boiled in a single pot. On her lonely far-flung island province, "boiled dinner" is a specialty, salt the extent of seasoning.

My kitchen is full of laughter tonight and the egg is strapped to my front in the BabyBjorn. She likes to see everything that's going on; she is at her most content strapped against me, watching my hands work. She is helping me mash potatoes. A little horseradish goes into the pot. Next, she is helping me massage olive oil, lemon and garlic into Swiss chard.

She is at the heart of this unlikely circle who will gather around the table for dinner. The grieving single mother, the recovering addict, the lonely gay, the temporary worker and the arthritic cat.

From This is Happy by Camilla Gibb. Published by Doubleday Canada. Copyright © Camilla Gibb, 2015. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

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Camilla Gibb, author of the memoir This is Happy, has also written Sweetness in the Belly and Mouthing the Words.


It occurs to David that the loop he has imagined has really happened: somewhere ahead, a version of the horror he has averted is playing itself out. He will drive by and see his own child lying dead, his own double howling in bloodied agony
Saturday, August 15, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R12

A wash of chemicals floods David's brain and at once the urge is there, irresistible. What is the trigger, what switch opens the floodgate? If he could find it, he could control it. But even to think of the urge is to bring it on.

"Dad. Dad!"

These are the times it overtakes him: When he is reading. When he is watching. When he is listening. At the crossroads of action and thought, the mind's gathering place, the very place where he lives.

When he is driving.

"Daddy, wake up!"

He hears a thundering like a stampede, he sees chariots, horses. Then the image splinters and there is only the noise itself, jagged and black, until finally the expressway pixelates into clarity and he realizes he has veered onto the rumble strip.

A car is stopped on the shoulder not a hundred metres in front of them. They are headed straight for it.

"Dad, there's a car!"

Afterwards David will never quite be able to sort out his memory of what happens next in any way that makes sense. It will seem as if he has split in two, on one side of him the nuclear blast of sensation, the thump of his wheels, the stopped car, his son's grating terror, on the other an eerie calmness, as if every fibre in him has long been preparing for just such a moment, when everything hangs in the balance. He will be amazed how much data has been left in him by an event that has happened in the blink of an eye. The slant of autumn light through the windshield. The colour of the car, silver-grey, he is heading toward. The look of its driver, a small, dark-skinned man, Middle Eastern or Asian, who has stopped to make a call or stretch his legs or take a leak, as he innocently turns to check for traffic before opening his door only to discover that death is bearing down on him. And already before it comes, David sees the crash, the mess of twisted metal and broken glass and ruined flesh.

He jerks the wheel hard and the car bucks like a wild animal, no longer under his will. His body has braced itself for impact but, impossibly, the impact doesn't come. Instead there is only a suck of air from the far side of the car like the pull of something's gravity, the scream of a horn as David overshoots his lane and nearly sideswipes a passing van. Then, as quickly as that, the danger has passed. As if it had never been. Already the car on the shoulder has receded to a harmless glint in the rear-view mirror.

David's heart is pounding. He digs his little pill container out of his pant pocket and dumps the pills onto the passenger seat, then grabs two by feel and crunches down on them. Do not chew. They are bitter like cyanide, like hemlock. But pointless now: he is fully awake.

He can feel Marcus eyeing him from his car seat in the back.

"You fell asleep," he says.

"I wasn't asleep." But already David has taken the wrong tack, has responded to the boy's accusation rather than to his fear. "I just closed my eyes for a second, that's all. Because of the sun."

David nudges the mirror to get a better view of him, sees how his shoulders have hunched, how he has balled himself up in his gloom and distrust. He is barely five but already he carries his moods like an adolescent. At the zoo, where they were visiting, he fell into a sulk over a trinket David refused him at the gift shop, and now he will roll this new, larger hurt into the old one, each lend..

ing weight to the other. When did he become like this, so vigilant, so hungry for grievance?

David knows he ought to say more about what has happened but is afraid that saying more will only raise the event's importance in the boy's mind. Will only make him more likely to report it to his mother.

"Sit up straight, please. We've talked about that."

A thin line of fire burns a path through David's veins as the drug enters his bloodstream and he feels a panic go through him, nothing like the adrenal rush of the near accident itself but a sense of being vulnerable after the fact, as if by some loop the moment might replay itself, differently. He realizes, suddenly, that his whole body is trembling. It happens sometimes when he is agitated, this loss of control, another of his symptoms.

The sheerest luck has saved him from killing his son.

Daddy, wake up.

He casts another look back at Marcus.

"Almost home now," he says. "Almost there."

A hesitation, then the inevitable question.

"Will Momma be there?" He is never enough. He is never the last recourse.

David lets the question hang.

They merge onto the valley parkway to find it backed up for miles, lurching forward in tiny spurts as the sun sets and the trees along the parkway flame up like an apocalypse in their autumn colours. Julia will be livid that they are so late, that David hasn't called. It has crossed his mind to call any number of times, but each time he has resisted, knowing that she herself will never be the one to call. This is how she tests him, piling up her grievances the way Marcus has learned to. The behaviour of children.

He feels the dull throb of a headache beginning from the spike in his medication. For the next few hours, his heart will pound like a battering ram. He takes advantage of the stalled traffic to gather up the pills still scattered on the seat next to him: stupid to have let Marcus see them, to risk his mentioning them. Right from the start David has kept Julia in the dark, has passed the blame for his symptoms onto insomnia, late nights, overwork, has hidden from her the doctors' visits, the clinics, the pills. That is his default with her now: to hide any sign of weakness, anything that might give her ammunition.

His mind keeps circling back to the instant when the crash felt inevitable, trying to sort out what saved them, though already it is hard to say how much is real in what he remembers and how much is the illogic of whatever dream he had slipped into. A deep brain disorder. That was how Becker put it, his sleep doctor, a fleshy Afrikaner with the hectoring twang of an apartheid politician and the parboiled look of a village butcher. A breakdown in the border that separated waking from sleep. As if sleep were some rebel force that David had let overrun him, leaving him condemned now to live in this place of constant incursion, where nothing was safe, nothing was certain.

A police cruiser squeezes by on the shoulder, then an ambulance. It occurs to David that the loop he has imagined has really happened: somewhere ahead, a version of the horror he has averted is playing itself out. He will drive by and see his own child lying dead, his own double howling in bloodied agony. At the image, something like relief stirs in him, as if only now has he dared it, the sense of a cosmic reprieve, a second chance. This is exactly the sort of thinking he is constantly having to root out of his students, whose notions of historical process don't go much beyond mindless mantras like Everything happens for a reason.

He takes out his cell phone and sets it to speaker.

"Just calling your mom," he says to Marcus, and he can feel the boy's mood lift.

She picks up on the first ring.

"Christ, David, where are you? It's past six. Why didn't you call?" Why didn't you?

"We're stuck on the parkway," he says evenly.

"For fuck's sake! I thought we talked about using the cell when you're driving!"

He allows himself the smallest pause.

"We're on speaker, actually."

The behaviour of children.

Into the silence David adds, evenly again, "We had a nice day at the zoo."

"That's just great, David, I'm happy for you. I just wish it would cross your mind sometimes to think of someone other than yourself."

The call leaves David circling along a well-worn path of anger and self-justification. It's her, he tells himself, this implacable she-wolf she has been ever since Marcus was born, framing everything he does as a betrayal of his most basic duties as husband and father. The defence has become so knee-jerk in him by now that he seldom thinks beyond it. That she doesn't call because he accuses her of checking up on him, of being controlling. Or because he might be in class, or in a conference, or driving home. Because in a thousand ways, over the years, he has made it known not to call. Probably all afternoon she has been fighting the urge to call him, meanwhile imagining every horror. He has learned that about her, though she doesn't show it, how deep her fears go the second Marcus is out of her sight, how primordial they are, beyond reason.

It is fully dark by the time they reach the source of the holdup. An accident, yes, but less tragedy than farce. A moving van has spilled its contents and sent half a dozen cars into a minor pileup, emergency crews sorting through the wreckage and traffic choked down to a single lane. Debris from the van lies heaped at the roadside etched in the halogen glare of the highway's mast lights, a half-sprung sofa-bed, splintered end tables, ruptured moving boxes spilling clothes, shattered dishes, DVDs.

The van itself is farther up, back doors still open, sitting alone at the side of the road as if the accident had nothing to do with it. David makes out two forms, a man and a woman, hurrying toward it in the dark clutching armfuls of salvage.

Idiots, he thinks.

Past the bottleneck he picks up speed at once. The red taillights of the cars ahead of him weave through the highway's dips and curves as if riding the air, held disembodied by the dark swath the valley forms against the backdrop of the city. He remembers driving here as a teen in his first car, a reconditioned MG he'd paid for out of his own pocket, the top down and the pedal to the floor while his blood pumped through his veins and the wind roared around him. Back then the valley seemed some hopeful landscape of the future, with the river winding its way toward the lake beneath the flyovers and cloverleaves, and the skyscrapers of downtown beckoning in the distance. Now, he realizes, he is looking instead at the past, that all this is part of an order already in full decline.

Nino Ricci is the author of five previous novels including Lives of the Saints and The Origin of Species, which both won the Governor-General's Award for Fiction. His new novel, Sleep, will be published by Doubleday Canada on September 22. He lives in Toronto.

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Making mythological magic
New Nissan Titan is inspired by Greek gods - two Canadians integral to the project explain how it came together
Thursday, August 20, 2015 – Print Edition, Page D8

LA JOLLA, CALIF. -- Nissan, the last of the auto makers to remake a flagship full-size pickup, assigned senior design manager Diane Allen (DA) to the task. Effusive of speech and passionate about her work, she oversaw the Titan redesign over the past three years with a pair of Canadians alongside.

Project lead Randy Rodriguez (RR) of Surrey, B.C., primarily handled the exterior, sourcing his visual inspiration in both Greek mythology and tools of today's trades. Designer Stephen Moneypenny (SM) of Brampton, Ont., brought Rodriguez's concepts into the interior.

Seated at a table in the Nissan Design America conference room, the trio provided The Globe and Mail with exclusive insight into the collaborative thinking that went into the redesign. The interview is condensed; type in italics is ours.

The Titan XD crew cab with the all-new Cummins 310-horsepower V-8 turbo diesel engine will be in showrooms later this year.

Roll-out of the full lineup, including gasoline-powered models, will continue into the spring of 2016.

DA: I think in December of 2011, we got the green light. They wanted to go for an all-new truck - new sheet metal, new interior - and when we got that go, we were pretty excited. Because we're not just a truck studio, we came to the program with a fresh set of eyes, and it allowed us to move the dial a bit for Nissan, for the truck. We're like method actors; we go and talk to truck people, we research it, we see what the competitors are doing, and it just brings a real freshness to it.

RR: The Titan had been around a long time [since 2004]. It had legs because it was a good design.

But we were excited to catch up and try to pass some competitors with a super-capable truck that still has that Japanese DNA.

DA: We were kind of the 'weekend warrior,' not the real work truck but more car-like in a lot of truck-people's minds. So we knew we wanted to go more toward the other side of the spectrum - more masculine, tough and rugged. When we partnered with Cummins, the engine became substantially bigger than in today's truck. Our nose had to grow out and up. What we agreed on early was that we are not 'cowboy,' not 'ranch-hand,' Titan is warrior. Randy started putting up pictures of Atlas.

The Cummins engine combines a graphite iron cylinder block, forged steel crankshaft, aluminum alloy heads, dual overhead cam shafts and composite valve covers with the aim of combining power and fuel efficiency. The logo, and shape of the front end was inspired by ancient warrior helmets, the rugged stance shaped by the sheet metal around the voluminous engine bay.

RR: Spartacus, 300, those kinds of movies get me fired up. When you look at the cover of one of those things, you see the gladiator face. That shape became the face of the truck. It embodies the spirit of what this truck is supposed to be about.

DA: It's a future god, though. He's more modern. You can see the way the face is put together; it's like plates of armour and hardware hooked in. The mask was really fun because it even inspired the interior.

SM: I was on another program and started doodling on the side, pulling cues from the grille and the headlamps to make this iconic, kind of bigger-than-life centre stack. I had never worked on a truck ... and was shocked by the volume, with so much real estate to play with. It's a small group here and we sit side-by-side - I watched all the 300s and Spartacus' in my peripheral vision. We would bounce ideas off each other and they became this one entity. So you'll see a lot of the same imagery from that helmet sprinkled around the interior.

RR: A lot of the shapes were pulled from the headlights. Here's the eye, here's the cheek. And we were using [images of the] tools that the trades use and kind of blending them with the helmet imagery.

DA: We kept going back to the grille.There's kind of a honeycomb shape we liked so much because it wasn't a standard rectangle, square or circle, and it started showing up in a lot of patterns everywhere.

RR: The bars on the front grille were much thicker before but with that Cummins engine and having to cool it, the engineering department said we'd have to open it more. We went to this mesh for cooling. I thought about adding more holes in the front to look like some of the old Nissan trucks. You would think adding more holes would increase the cooling but actually in testing it takes the air out. Things like that, the engineering and aerodynamics, make you come up with another solution.

A three-piece front bumper is replaced by an integrated design that is flush with the fascia. The sides are shaped opposed to slabbed, the presence anchored by mechanical-appearing wheels. Wrenches inspired the look of the wheels.

RR: Every tool guy has a box with wrenches, screwdrivers, et cetera. We actually have two different wheel designs where it was like a wrench turning a bolt basically.

DA: Not just the interior and exterior, but every part, every wheel, every part of the headlamp. When you look at our base headlamp, you'll see the little bulb shield is tightly embossed on it. The hardware duality is this really modern way of tuning into other things. When you look at the front, it's this whole assemblage of hardware and tooling.

SM: Tools tend to be very engineering-driven, function-driven, and at least in the interior we wanted to stay away from ... well, some of our competition gets a little decorative, a little fancy and that's not the mindset we wanted to get into for this truck. We wanted to keep things logical, easy to understand, very clean but tough and strong.

DA: We got some really nice form language over the wheel wells. They're kind of athletic and directional, and that's what we're trying to capture - that god, where he's got these bulging muscles. The stance of this thing is very confident.

As a condition of going forward with a redesign of the pickup truck in the highly competitive full-size segment, the company mandated that the Titan must appeal to a wide range of consumers. The truck will be available in crew, king and standard cab configurations, two chassis sizes, three powertrains, five trim levels and several bed lengths.

DA: The highlight of the cabin, the first door, has to make [aesthetic] sense with every one of those beds. When you cut off things and shorten, it's a real task to get that to work in all different configurations.

RR: Shockingly difficult, actually. We got it to work. It was just real time-consuming.

DA: We had six clay models because we were milling and checking everything. For a long time we had the fender coming into the door too far so we took it outside and worked with clay. We realized it was making the single cab very small looking. The fender was actually bigger than the cab so it was a matter of getting the proportion right, the volume right, the character right. Some hot days we'd be out there taping it, and it would get mushy so we had to stop, bring it in and cool it off, because literally your finger was going right into the clay.

The XD has a maximum payload of greater than 2,000 pounds and towing rating above 12,000 pounds. The wheel base on the XD is 20 inches longer than other Titans. A double wishbone front suspension with stabilizer bar is meant to maximize stability and handling. The bed has flush-mounted LED lighting, a waterproof and drainable storage box, damped tailgate, sprayed-on bedliner and a gooseneck hitch integrated into the frame.

RR: Between the current Titan and this version, there's so much more volume, and that's why it was a task to convince our upper management that this is the direction we need to go in. Now that it's out, it feels appropriate.

Badges are displayed prominently on the exterior and interior of the car, somewhat counter to the Japanese auto maker's conservative tendencies.

DA: We have 'Titan' everywhere ... We decided to be Titan proud.

RR: There's a liberal application When we started benchmarking the competition, we saw they put badges on everything. The truck is a really strong personality. When we started to emulate that, we went outside the mould of the normal way we do things.

DA: We made some waves, I'll tell you. We heard, 'We don't do that'. No [we said], 'Truck does that'. Trust us. Truck does that.

RR: We had to sell it with examples from America. We said, people love their football teams and wear the jerseys and are really proud of that -- kind of like truck buyers are really proud of their trucks.

DA: I work with Randy a lot. He almost pushes me to the edge and then I see his vision. For example that over-fender, it has an arbitrary notch design in it. It doesn't do anything but it's really cool looking. The more you look at it, it grows on you and we started making it show up in other places, in small detailing.

In the interior, the quilting inside a hunting jacket inspired black-andtan leather seating. Colours are drawn from a Montana lodge. A large centre console, designed to be a mobile work station, accommodates a 15-inch laptop. The centre shift lever on the current Titan was moved to the steering column to free up space..

DA: We knew had to really own the space. The way Steve designed the pad to just kind of sit on top of there - it's very masculine and at the same time very premium. And that was our goal. We didn't want to look like a junk truck; we wanted it to have game.

SM: Since the last Titan, the market has moved on quite a bit; everybody has reiterated at least once. We knew we had to keep it functional, so it was striking that balance of putting materials and shapes in places to telegraph the width and strength but also working really close with engineers to make sure it functioned. We tried for this balance, that it could be practical and also luxurious.

DA: We feel proud that the vehicle has this continuity. Nothing got watered down. Usually we give up a project after we win the design and then another group will take it over and finish it. We got to finish every detail, every part. Our attention was on it the whole ride.

ONLINE Driving Concerns Must you honk in P.E.I.?

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A gladiator's helmet became the face of the Nissan Titan, whose designers were inspired by movies such as 300.


Randy Rodriguez, left, from Surrey, B.C., and Stephen Moneypenny, from Brampton, Ont., created the exterior and interior looks of the Titan.


Business titan made philanthropy a priority
Giant of food industry focused on family, Macedonian heritage and projects such as Toronto's domed stadium
Saturday, August 22, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S11

Businessman John Bitove Sr. was known for dreaming big ideas and delivering on them, along the way playing an influential role in the development of downtown Toronto.

The son of Macedonian immigrants, he built what began as a small coffee shop into a food and beverage empire, Bitove Corp., supplying the food concessions at Toronto's SkyDome (now Rogers Centre) and at Pearson International Airport in the 1980s and '90s.

When discussions of a domed stadium for downtown Toronto were taking place in the mid-1980s, Mr. Bitove was keen to be involved.

"When I came in, he was one of the leading guys who was putting the SkyDome together," David Peterson, the former Ontario Liberal premier and a family friend, recalled in an interview. The stadium "became the symbol of the new Toronto."

Mr. Bitove died in hospital on July 30 at the age of 87, of natural causes, said one of his sons, John Bitove Jr., the businessman known for starting the Toronto Raptors basketball team and founding the wireless carrier Mobilicity.

He said one of his father's proudest moments was when the Blue Jays won the World Series title in 1993 on their home field. "We were operating all the catering at the SkyDome at the time," John Jr. said in an interview. "It was a double-triple win - it was great for the city, for the family business and just being a sports fan."

The senior Mr. Bitove, a wellconnected Conservative and party fundraiser over the years, was also deeply involved in charitable work - from medical centres to housing for senior citizens to community programs for young people. He didn't hesitate to call upon family, friends, colleagues and politicians whenever he saw a need.

One of his final projects was in conjunction with Toronto's University Health Network and York University: the Dotsa Bitove Wellness Academy, which opened in 2013. The centre helps people with mild to moderate dementia and is named in honour of his wife, Dotsa, who has Alzheimer's disease.

"He was doing work with Alzheimer's patients and he came to me for advice and a little help with that. I was very, very happy to be engaged in a very worthwhile project that he drove," Mr. Peterson said.

Years earlier, Mr. Bitove and his wife saw the need for another worthwhile project - a retirement home for people of Macedonian descent, where residents could eat familiar foods and speak their native language in comfortable surroundings. In 1978, the couple founded Canadian Macedonian Place in Toronto's East York area.

For his wide-ranging philanthropy, and his lifelong support of Macedonians, he was invested as a Member of the Order of Canada in 1989 and was given a medal of honour from the Republic of Macedonia in 2012.

His inclination to help extended to family, as well. As his four sons branched out on their own, he "became more of a senior adviser, a counsellor, to each of us in our own businesses," said John Jr. "Sometimes he offered his opinion without asking. If he ended up being right, you would say, 'I should have listened to Dad.' And if he ended up being wrong, it didn't matter - he was never short of giving advice."

During his lengthy career, Mr. Bitove ran into some financial troubles (he pleaded guilty to personal tax evasion in 1974), while Bitove Corp. faced several legal battles. In the 1990s, a disagreement arose between the family business and the federal government about rental payments for concessions at Pearson airport; that was followed by a dispute with management at the SkyDome and private box-holders about the prices of concession foods. (The company won the rent tussle, but lost the food-price fight.)

John Louis Nicholas Bitove, the youngest of three children, was born on March 19, 1928, in Toronto. His father, Nikola, was a butcher; his mother, Vana (née Kizoff), was a homemaker.

They immigrated to Canada from the village of Gabresh in Aegean Macedonia (now part of Greece) after the First World War.

Mr. Bitove dropped out of school after Grade 9. While he held down three jobs - delivering newspapers, working in his father's butcher shop and delivering goods for convenience stores - he also found time to play many sports, his favourite being hockey.

By the time he was 12, he was managing, coaching and playing for a midget hockey team he founded, the Toronto Young Leafs. With big ideas even then, he persuaded officials at famed Maple Leaf Gardens to let his team use the ice for home games. They went on to win city and provincial championships, and many of his teammates would later play in the NHL.

In 1946, he was invited to try out for the Detroit Red Wings, but the Second World War had just ended and money was tight; the 18-year-old decided to stay at home and help in his father's shop on Queen Street East.

Three years later, he borrowed $1,500 and opened a 14-stool coffee joint, the Java Shoppe, in North York, which he ran with his new wife, Dotsa Lazoff, whom he had met at a Macedonian convention in Indiana. By 1962, he had built the business into a chain of five restaurants before selling his 50-per-cent stake to his older brother and business partner, Jim.

In 1969, Mr. Bitove bought the Canadian franchise rights to two U.S. restaurant chains, Big Boy and Roy Rogers. He named his new venture JB's Big Boy, which grew to more than 40 outlets across Canada before he sold the franchise rights in 1979.

He took a break from the restaurant industry for a few years and turned his attention to the energy sector. By 1983, his Petroinc Resources Ltd., a penny-stock company, sold its listing on the Toronto Stock Exchange to a fledgling form of Peter Munk's Barrick Gold Corp.

Mr. Bitove was paid in shares for the acquiring company and made a consultant for three years afterward.

"[He was] really popping up in all sorts of places where you wouldn't expect," Trevor Eyton, a retired Conservative senator and long-time friend, said in an interview. "He wasn't there very long, but at one time he was a significant shareholder in the company that became Barrick Gold. He loved playing the markets. He loved buying and selling anything, and he did it with great success."

In the fall of 1983, York County Quality Foods Ltd., a company Mr. Bitove owned with a group of partners, won a 10-year foodand-beverage contract for two terminals at Pearson airport, beating out Cara Operations Ltd., which had held the contract for 20 years. The contract was a family affair, as Mr. Bitove's two eldest sons, Tom and Nick, moved in to manage the terminals.

Another business opportunity arose in the mid-1980s, when Mr. Bitove became part of the private-sector consortium for the SkyDome; each participant made a $5-million commitment to its construction. The downtown stadium was to be built by a Crown corporation but run by private-sector companies.

"He was one of a very small band that conceived and funded the SkyDome," said Mr. Eyton, who at the time was president and chief executive officer of Brascan Ltd. (now Brookfield Asset Management) and was organizing the stadium's privatesector consortium.

"He saw that the stadium should be located where it is, and the result was that it has transformed that section of the city. Twenty years ago, there wasn't much down there. Now, of course, it's a vital part of the city," Mr. Eyton said.

In exchange for Mr. Bitove's financial commitment, Bitove Corp. got a monopoly on finedining rights, supplying all the stadium concessions (except McDonald's). Throughout the late 1980s, the family business took on a variety of food concession services, such as Via Rail's club cars, Toronto General Hospital and, in the late 1990s, the service centres on major Ontario highways.

By then, Mr. Bitove had taken a step back from day-to-day operations of the business, leaving it to his sons to manage, and focused more on his charitable work.

He and his wife were actively involved in the Macedonian community, at home and abroad. Both had relatives who were among the thousands of Macedonian children who became refugees after the Second World War, sent to Eastern European countries to escape persecution in their homeland.

In 1984, the couple organized and financed a gathering in Skopje, Macedonia, to reunite displaced families.

In 1991, Mr. Bitove co-ordinated and raised money for an international campaign to have the Republic of Macedonia recognized as an independent country. "When the chance came for independence with the breakup of Yugoslavia, he dedicated about two years of his life to work with the governments, lobbying and raising funds toward making sure that Macedonia was recognized as an independent country," said his son John Jr.

"His goal was to make sure it was recognized without any bloodshed - it was very important for him to make sure there was no civil war and no bloodshed, no lives lost in getting the country recognized.

Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. were three countries that he spent a lot of time making sure that he got the endorsement and the recognition from those countries."

Also in 1991, Mr. Bitove founded Proaction Cops and Kids, which raises money for programs developed and delivered by Toronto police officers that specifically engage at-risk youth to help them make better life choices.

In 1992, he received the federal government's Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of Confederation, honouring people who made a significant contribution to Canadian society. In 2012, he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contributions to Canada as a philanthropist and businessman.

Mr. Bitove and his wife spent winters in Boca Raton, Fla., where she attended the Louis and Anne Green Memory and Wellness Center at Florida Atlantic University. That centre served as the model for the Dotsa Bitove Wellness Academy, John Jr. said.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Bitove leaves his daughter, Vonna; sons Nick, Tom, John Jr. and Jordan; and 16 grandchildren.

Family was so important to Mr. Bitove that, in 1988, he built a family compound in Collingwood, Ont., where his children and grandchildren could gather for holiday visits.

"[The Bitoves] would all go out there and go at each other, and compete and have a great big loving dinner and all hug each other, and that was just his idea of heaven, I'm sure," Mr. Peterson said. "Big John inculcated that deep love of family into all of his family."

To submit an I Remember: Send us a memory of someone we have recently profiled on the Obituaries page. Please include I Remember in the subject field.

Associated Graphic

Canadian businessman John Bitove Sr. is seen in 2010 in Boca Raton, Fla., where he and his wife, Dotsa, enjoyed spending winters.


John Bitove Sr., right, cheers at a Blue Jays baseball game at the SkyDome in September, 1989, with prime minister Brian Mulroney, left, and former Ontario premier Bill Davis, centre.


Alternative opioids surge in wake of oxycodone crackdown
Wednesday, August 19, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A1

Prescriptions for dangerous alternatives to OxyContin are soaring, showing that a crackdown on the popular painkiller has failed to curb Canada's opioid crisis.

OxyContin, a brand-name version of oxycodone, was once the top-selling long-acting opioid in Canada. But it became a lightning rod in the early 2000s as reports of addiction and overdose exploded, prompting every province except Alberta in 2012 to stop funding the drug and its reformulated, tamper-resistant version, OxyNEO, which is difficult to crush or chew for a quick high.

Similar restrictions were not placed on other addictive opioids, a move many experts say had the unintended consequence of shifting patients from one drug to another and escalating the prescription-drug crisis.

The shift to other opioids has helped Purdue Pharma Canada, the manufacturer of OxyContin and OxyNEO, remain a key player in Canada's opioid market. Hydromorph Contin, also made by Purdue, is now the most popular long-acting opioid in Canada, with prescriptions reaching 1.6 million last year, up 60 per cent since 2011, according to a Globe and Mail analysis of figures provided by IMS Brogan, which tracks the drug industry.

Hydromorph Contin is covered by every province's public drug plan with the exception of B.C. and Prince Edward Island.

BuTrans and Targin, two other opioids sold by Purdue, are not covered by any provincial drug plan and make up a small portion of the overall opioids market. But they are also experiencing explosive growth.

Prescriptions for BuTrans have risen nearly 83 per cent since 2011, with 2014 sales reaching nearly $13-million.

Targin prescriptions have soared 216 per cent. Prescriptions for tamper-resistant OxyNEO have remained stable since the drug was introduced in 2012, with 841,806 prescriptions dispensed last year, according to IMS.

Together, the drugs are contributing to a spike in opioid prescribing. In 2012, the year OxyContin was delisted from provincial drug plans, 18.3 million opioid prescriptions were dispensed in Canada. Last year, that figure jumped 18.6 per cent to 21.7 million, according to IMS.

Policy makers responded to the prescription painkiller crisis by equating it with an OxyContin problem, said Benedikt Fischer, senior scientist at Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. "We need to rein in excessive prescribing," he said in an interview. "When we do that, then we will likely make a dent into this problem. Right now, we're not."

Canada is the world's second-largest per capita consumer of opioids and the fallout is being felt across the country. Last week, a report found that from 2009 to 2014, at least 655 Canadians died as a result of fentanyl, a powerful opioid available by prescription and also manufactured in clandestine labs and sold on the street.

In June, the federal government announced a plan to require all oxycodone products - but no other opioids - to be tamper-resistant. David Juurlink, head of clinical pharmacology and toxicology at Toronto's Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, said the move will not be effective unless it is applied to the entire drug class.

Recreational drug users are only part of the problem, medical experts say.

The growth in Purdue's sales corresponds to the company's efforts to promote its non-tamper-resistant opioids to doctors through a series of prominent advertisements in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. In the months leading up to OxyContin's replacement with tamperresistant OxyNEO, Purdue ran eight half- and full-page ads in the medical journal promoting Hydromorph Contin as "a recommended firstline option for severe pain."

Purdue ran 14 double-page ads for BuTrans, a transdermal patch, in the CMAJ from January, 2012, to April, 2015, telling doctors to "experience the benefit" of "the first and only pain treatment with 7-day dosing" in Canada. Similarly, Purdue ran 11 ads for Targin in the same time period.

At the Canadian Pain Society conference in May, which hosted pain doctors from across the country, Purdue had a prominent booth flanked by large advertisements for BuTrans, Targin and OxyNEO. Employees handed out promotional brochures to physicians and other attendees.

Many experts are particularly concerned about the explosive growth of Hydromorph Contin. Meldon Kahan, a Toronto addiction specialist, said the drug comes in "dangerously high formulations" much more potent than OxyContin. He said it is "hypocritical" of Purdue to promote the safety of OxyNEO, yet continue to promote some of its non-tamper-resistant drugs that could easily be abused.

Dr. Juurlink questioned why Purdue has not already introduced a tamper-resistant version of Hydromorph Contin, given the rising rates of opioid abuse and addiction. "There's no obvious reason why they haven't already done so."

In an e-mail, Purdue spokeswoman Lucy Lai said the company is pursuing tamper resistance for Hydromorph Contin, but that it takes time. Ms. Lai said the rise in Hydromorph Contin prescribing is because most provinces do not cover OxyNEO. She noted that the company has not advertised Hydromorph Contin in journals since September, 2012. The company will "continue to support" Targin and BuTrans for treatment of pain, she added.

Asked why the government continues to fund Hydromorph Contin despite high rates of abuse, Joanne Woodward Fraser, a spokeswoman for Ontario's Health Ministry, cited a provincial program to monitor narcotic prescriptions. Karen Scott, a spokeswoman for New Brunswick's Health Department, said the drug is covered because "it is an important treatment option."

Kelly Lanktree of London, Ont., is living proof of the damage caused by the singular focus on OxyContin. Ms. Lanktree, 27, was first prescribed OxyContin after falling down stairs and badly injuring her knee in 2009. Within a few months, she was dependent on the pills. As her tolerance grew, she began chewing, snorting and eventually shooting the drugs to get high.

In 2012, her doctor told her that OxyContin was no longer available and wrote her a prescription for OxyNEO. Ms. Lanktree quickly realized she could not chew or snort the new version, so she returned to her doctor to ask for a prescription for Hydromorph Contin. She said he did not hesitate to write her a prescription, even though she displayed all of the classic signs of addiction, including track marks on her arms.

Hydromorph Contin gave her a "more stronger euphoric hit" and made her addiction to opioids that much worse. Soon after, she and her husband, who was also addicted to opioids, ended up on the street. It was a turning point that persuaded them to seek treatment and more than three years later, Ms. Lanktree said, they are still clean.

She still has a hard time comprehending how a simple prescription to help her cope with an injury nearly destroyed her life. "I had no idea they could be as addicting and powerful as they were," she said in an interview. "Nobody's really immune to this. It could be anybody."

Why is there a prescription-drug crisis?

Until the mid-1990s, opioids - a class of drugs that includes morphine, oxycodone and hydromorphone - were used mainly by people who were dying or experiencing severe, acute pain. The introduction of drugs such as OxyContin, which were designed to release analgesic effects over many hours, led to an increase in prescribing opioids for chronic pain. But what many did not appreciate is the fact that opioids also come with an inherent addiction risk. People who take them can become dependent in as little as a few weeks. Some people would also chew or crush prescription opioids to release all of the active ingredients at once as a way of getting high, which is how OxyContin earned the nickname "hillbilly heroin."

But OxyContin was taken off the market in 2012. How is it possible that prescription-drug abuse is still a problem?

It's true that Purdue Pharma Canada replaced OxyContin with a tamper-resistant version called OxyNEO in 2012 that is harder to crush. Many provinces stopped funding both drugs that year. However, there are numerous other opioids on the market that provincial drug plans continue to cover. As a result, the number of prescriptions for opioids has gone up across the country despite OxyContin's being phased out.

How do we solve this crisis?

Federal and provincial governments have adopted a number of measures, such as funding restrictions or prescription-monitoring programs to address the issue. But many addiction experts say the key is in drastically reducing the number of prescriptions written for opioid drugs. While chronic pain remains a serious issue, there is no high-quality evidence showing that opioids work for long-term pain. As a result, more members of the medical community are pushing for doctors to reduce opioid prescribing.

A timeline of Canada's prescription drug crisis:

1996 Health Canada approves OxyContin, a brandname version of the drug oxycodone, for sale in Canada. It is marketed as a long-acting drug that can be used to treat chronic pain.

2001 Media reports in the United States begin to refer to OxyContin as "hillbilly heroin," as reports emerge of people using the drug to get high and becoming addicted to it.

2004 Health Canada launches a review of opioid prescribing in Atlantic Canada following growing evidence of addiction, overdose and death.

2012 Provinces across Canada announce that they will no longer pay for OxyContin under public drug plans as a way to address rising rates of prescrip tion-drug abuse. Meanwhiile, Purdue Pharma Canada replaces OxyContin with OxyNEO, a version of the drug that is harder to crush, chew or snort as a way of getting high. All provinces, with the exception of Alberta, do not cover the cost of OxyNEO.

2013 The popularity of OxyContin alternatives rises. Prescriptions for Hydromorph Contin, a potent long-acting opioid sold by Purdue Pharma, increase 20 per cent.

June, 2015 Health Canada introduces a proposal that would require all oxycodone products to be tamperresistant. Because Purdue Pharma holds patents on its tamper-resistant technology for OxyNEO, all generic oxycodone products would be forced off the market if the change is approved. At the same time, an article written by addiction experts in the Canadian Medical Association Journal questions why the government is not making all opioids tamper-resistant as a way to combat abuse.

July, 2015 B.C. health officials warn about the dangers of illicit fentanyl, which has been linked to several deaths, including the parents of a two-year-old. Although fentanyl is a prescription drug, the current rash of deaths is tied to drugs manufactured in black-market labs.

Associated Graphic


Kelly Lanktree, 27, seen at home in London, Ont., was prescribed OxyContin for a knee injury in 2009 and soon developed an addiction to the opioid painkiller that resulted in homelessness by 2011. The following year, she got a prescription for Hydromorph Contin from her physician, despite showing the classic signs of addiction.




The 'ant tribe' of China
The sub-sub-sub-basement dwellers of Beijing are highly skilled and educated - middle-class parents driven underground, both literally and otherwise, to secure a better future for their kids. Doug Saunders reports
Saturday, August 22, 2015 – Print Edition, Page F1

BEIJING -- When 16-year-old Xie Junwen comes home from school, he steps off the bus in an industrial corner of southern Beijing, walks through the dilapidated courtyard of an apartment building, steps around the entrance, into a murky-smelling corner, and makes his way through a narrow alley that leads to an unlit service staircase. He follows this staircase down, and down, and down.

There, four metres below the surface, is a warren of small rooms joined by a labyrinth of hallways. I step into Junwen's. It's the size of a typical 16-year-old's bedroom in the West: nine by 16 feet. Bare fluorescent bulbs augment a dim light trickling from a manhole-covered trough high above the top of the room's outside wall.

But this is not, in fact, Junwen's bedroom. It is his family's entire home: He shares the airless space, that houses two beds and a desk, with his mother, father and six-year-old brother. They share a tiny kitchen and a rudimentary bathroom with three other families, 12 people in total, who live in similar murky rooms.

"We arrange our schedules so there won't be other people in the kitchen," Junwen explains. "It means eating very late and getting up before dawn to wash."

The Xie family know very well how inhuman this is - and how much worse it gets. "One of the shortcomings here is that it is always damp," says Guoliang Xie, Junwen's father. "It affects our health. But we're better off than when we were a floor below this, in a second-floor basement - there, all the walls were wet, all the time."

The Xies are part of a subterranean community known in Beijing as the "ant tribe" (and sometimes as the "rat tribe") - an estimated 100,000 people living in below-grade, far-from-legal basement apartments beneath the courtyards and shopping streets of China's capital, where rents for even poor-quality normal apartments have risen as high as those in big Western cities.

For a number of years, the ant tribe has been something of a Beijing obsession, the subject of municipal crackdowns and media campaigns that have done nothing to quell their numbers. In the eyes of authorities, the tribe is an illegal and alien population, "migrant labourers" who should not be living in Beijing in the first place.

The truth about the ant tribe is more sobering, and less squalid, and says a lot about what has caused the Chinese economy to go off the rails this year. The "ants" are not indigent beggars or lost souls (who could not afford even sub-basement rent) or low-wage workers (who generally live in workers' dormitories, 10 to 12 of them to a room, but above ground).

Rather, they are ambitious citizens who have been driven underground, literally and figuratively, in their quest for middle-class stability. Their mildewed lives are the material embodiment of something being endured by countless millions of Chinese today, as they attempt to balance President Xi Jinping's ambition of creating a middleclass China with his party's desire to control and regulate their lives. As Mr. Xi attempts to dig the stock market and the country's currency out of a hole created by those clashing ambitions, nothing is being done about the many people whom those policies have thrust into an even more tangible hole.

The true nature of the ant tribe becomes apparent soon after you step into the Xie family's room.

Their smartphones and tablets, you notice, are Apple devices.

They have a lot of books, on sophisticated topics. The computer screen is logged into a university site.

Mr. Xie is very far from being a migrant labourer. He is a highly trained chef, and he runs the kitchen at a chic vegetarian restaurant in a nice part of northern Beijing. His job, which comes with a pension and weeks of paid vacation, pays 10,000 yuan (or more than $2,000) per month, a respectable lower-middle-class salary in urban China.

His wife (who would rather her name not be used) has a university degree and works as a teacher at a good private school. She is paid only $600 a month, but that gives the family free tuition there for Junwen's younger brother - which would otherwise have cost $600 a month.

In other words, the Xie family isn't poor at all; they have the salaries, possessions, interests and educations of people comfortably in the middle class. And the ant tribe is overwhelmingly made up of people like them: university-educated or highly skilled, well-paid, ambitious. Given those incomes, they should easily be able to live in a nice apartment above ground.

But they can't, for one very good reason: They, and most of the other 100,000 "ants," are not legally citizens of Beijing.

Calling the Xie family "migrants" is as absurd as calling them "labourers." Mr. and Mrs. Xie moved here from Hunan province, to the south, in 1995 and 1998, respectively, after finishing university. They've built their careers in Beijing, and both their children were born here.

But because they have a non-Beijing household-registration permit - a document known as a hukou that traditionally stays with you for life, is registered in your place of birth, and applies to your offspring, wherever they're born - they are not allowed to have access to any of Beijing's public services, including education.

As a result, they - and millions of other people born outside of China's major cities - are being excluded from the great Chinese middle-class experiment, at enormous cost to the economy.

After the 2008 financial crisis caused Western imports of Chinese goods to plummet, Beijing's Communist Party authorities embarked on a major, high-profile endeavour to turn China from a nation of low-wage factory workers dependent on foreign export earnings into a nation of middle-class consumers who would boost domestic demand and create a self-sufficient, prosperous Chinese economy.

Creating a Chinese middle class involved allowing a lot more private ownership of housing, more liberal financing for small and medium-sized business, an effort to turn banks from state instruments into genuine self-sufficient finance centres, and the creation of a fairly open stock market.

But this year has seen much of this stall: Despite having many of the instruments and institutions of a middle-class economy, China still has tight government restrictions on the movement of many things. The stock market and the banks do not move freely: this month has seen Beijing attempt to boost both by heavily capitalizing flagging markets and banks. And China's currency does not move freely: it is exchanged within state-controlled bands, and last week Beijing crash-devalued it in an attempt to restore growth.

Equally important, people do not move freely. There are as many as 200 million Chinese who live somewhere without legal hukou, and so can't invest in housing, put their kids through school or get medical care: The pathway to the middle class is barred to them. A major 2012 government initiative to reform the hukou system applied only to smaller cities; the three biggest population centres (Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing) have actually tightened their restrictions in recent months.

"This is keeping so many families from progressing beyond low incomes because they can't put their kids in school or university," says Duo Guowang, a hukoureform activist in Beijing. He moved from the province of Inner Mongolia to Beijing in the nineties, got a residence permit, and then discovered that his "migrant" son (who had lived in Beijing from infancy) could not legally go to university.

He lists the human and economic consequences of this lack of freedom: "This policy is separating children from their parents, it's causing hundreds of thousands of children to drop out of school at a very young age, and it's keeping millions of people from spending money in the economy because they have to spend all their money on education."

That's certainly the case in this ant-tribe apartment.

Like most Chinese parents, the Xies have big educational ambitions for their children: they want them to have professional degrees, and jobs that will give them Beijing registrations. But, as "migrants," they had two options: They could force their children to attend primary and secondary school back in Hunan, a place they've never known, joining more than a hundred million children who live with their grandparents and see their parents only once a year; or they can pay Beijing primary schools steep "social security" fees (essentially bribes to let those with non-Beijing hukou attend), typically of $200 a month. The latter is what they've done.

And to get Junwen a highschool education that will get him into university (and that would be free for Beijingers), they've taken an even more drastic step: paying private-school tuition and residence fees which are almost as high as his father's entire salary.

"We're not satisfied with these living conditions," says Mr. Xie.

"But it's a burden we have to endure, because this is a period in our lives when we need to make some sacrifices. I just want my son to have a normal life - we weren'table to have one, because you're not allowed to move to a different city." They're gambling that their sons will get elite professional jobs which allow them to earn a Beijing hukou.

That's why they're living in a sub-basement: Virtually every penny of their earnings is going into getting their children an education that would be free if they'd been born in Beijing. This is true of almost every family you meet in the ant-tribe warrens beneath the streets: out-of-town hukou, university education, huge sacrifice.

The Xie family, and their neighbours, should be exactly the sort of people Xi Jinping wants to turn into middle-class consumers. But they are victims of the strange hybrid of freedom and state control that has sent investors fleeing from the stock market. Unlike the hundreds of millions of peasants who became workers (like their parents), the Xie family are well aware of the forces and restrictions at work on them.

"Now we are afraid to consume or spend money," says Mr. Xie.

"All we can invest in is our children's education. We really don't buy ourselves anything else. I want our son to get a decent job.

Then, maybe in 10 years, we would like to live above ground.

But as long as we're not allowed to be citizens of this city, we'll have to stay in the basement."

Doug Saunders is The Globe and Mail's international affairs columnist.

Associated Graphic

Xie Junwen and his father, Guoliang Xie, sit on one of two beds in their home in Beijing - a single room four metres below ground.


Postmedia's pivotal moment: Cutting $650-million in debt
Saturday, August 22, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B1

When Postmedia Network Canada Corp. sealed its $316million purchase of the bulk of the Sun newspaper chain in April, its chief executive officer cast the deal as a necessary step to scale up and compete in the ever-more-crowded market for digital news. Analysts too hailed the acquisition as a smart move that bought Postmedia breathing room as it tries to cope with a heavy debt load.

But the transaction also set the clock ticking on Postmedia's future prospects - and perhaps even its survival - as Canada's largest newspaper publisher.

For some time, Postmedia has been caught in a cash-sapping cycle. Despite owning daily newspapers that reach 6.3 million Canadians weekly, revenue has steadily fallen and the company has had to constantly cut costs to keep generating cash flow to service its total long-term debt - which stands at $652-million and mostly dates from the company's 2010 emergence from the bankruptcy of CanWest Global Communications Corp.

Now, Postmedia has reached a pivotal moment as it looks to refinance its steeply priced debt, on which it pays sky-high interest rates of 8.25 to 12.5 per cent and which has cost the company more than $60-million annually in interest payments. Much of the debt comes due in 2017 and 2018, but company executives are looking to refinance the loans in the next year or perhaps even sooner, in the hope of securing lower rates.

"Right now, that's the key risk," said Peter Adu, a Toronto-based analyst at Moody's Investors Service Inc. "If they're able to get over that hurdle, then they could still keep investing in the business until such time that the revenue decline levels off."

The company's debt grew with the Sun deal and the weaker Canadian dollar. It is in two main tranches - $269-million (U.S.)

and $324-million (Canadian), much of which is owned by a pair of fund managers specializing in distressed assets: Richmond Hill, Ont.'s Canso Investment Counsel Ltd., and New York-based GoldenTree Asset Management.

Postmedia's executives have begun meetings to test the mood in the markets, and president and CEO Paul Godfrey is planning a "road show" with chief financial officer Doug Lamb to drum up interest in the refinancing.

For now, there are few indications the plunge in revenue has reached the bottom. Postmedia's revenue marched steadily downward for 17 straight quarters, a trend that ended only with the most recent quarterly results, which included revenue from Sun Media properties. Excluding the acquisition, revenue fell $23.1-million in the third quarter. As long as that continues, so must the cutting to sustain the cash flow that pays Postmedia's creditors.

In the past three years, the news organization has slashed 20 per cent of its costs - or $136-million in annual spending - by outsourcing or consolidating printing, production and administrative jobs, while drastically reshaping its newsrooms. Now, with the Sun deal done, Postmedia is undertaking a two-year "integration" plan that is expected to yield another $50-million in savings.

"The integration is going well," Mr. Godfrey said at the company's Toronto headquarters. "I think it probably bought us three to four years of runway to find a solution.

We also realize that we need new revenue streams."

Some observers think the turnaround must come faster than that - in the next 18 months to two years. Either way, it is clear that Postmedia's ability to find a better deal in the form of lower interest rates will be a key factor with a lasting impact on the journalism at a company that now controls much of the daily printed news from Montreal to Vancouver.

The road to here

The anchor that weighs Postmedia down was cast even before the company had a name.

Its roots reach back to the Southam Inc. newspaper chain, founded in 1904 and built on the strength of titles such as the Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal and Ottawa Citizen. Southam was sold to Conrad Black's Hollinger Inc. in 1996 and then to CanWest in 2000. By then, the stable of papers stretched across the country and included the National Post, a national paper founded in 1998.

GoldenTree began buying CanWest's debt issues around 2007.

The hedge fund was no stranger to the Canadian media scene, having been co-founded by Steven Shapiro, a former head of media and telecommunications at CIBC World Markets. As CanWest's financial picture soured in 2008 and 2009, GoldenTree bought more debt in anticipation of a restructuring. Some loans were paid back in full. Other bonds were converted to equity ownership.

CanWest's lenders finally pushed it into bankruptcy in 2009, as the economic downturn made its $4-billion debt unmanageable. In 2010, GoldenTree and other bondholders emerged as the de facto owners of the defunct company's newspaper division, renamed Postmedia, with a $1.1billion cash bid. Mr. Godfrey, who had known Mr. Shapiro since the 1990s, was installed at the helm of the new company.

The purchase faced one hurdle as Canadian tax laws discourage foreign control of newspapers by placing a heavy burden on advertisements placed in non-Canadian publications. Postmedia sidestepped that issue with a dual-class structure for its 281 million shares: a small cache of about one million shares with full voting rights, owned by Canadians including an investment management firm and Mr. Godfrey, and a large subordinate class of shares, of which GoldenTree owns nearly 150 million.

The notion of U.S. owners steering Canada's largest newspaper chain - which, combined with the Sun papers, owns both major dailies in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa - has raised eyebrows.

GoldenTree's managers have been "terrific partners," Mr. Godfrey said. But the asset manager has been well paid for its patience: GoldenTree, Canso and other investors have, between them, collected $325-million in interest since 2010, even as the price of GoldenTree's shares in Postmedia plummeted from $9.26 to 59 cents.

On Postmedia's 10-member board, Mr. Shapiro represents GoldenTree with a single seat. He can be hands-on about finances, asking questions about advertising, outsourcing or property sales, for example, but has "never asked me an editorial question," Mr. Godfrey said.

That could also be seen as worrisome - that GoldenTree, as an owner and secured lender, is concerned solely with the bottom line, extracting steady interest payments and sitting at the head of the line to collect on debts if the company falters. "These guys are in it for the business side of it.

And I'm not sure that they love newspapers, but they see this as an opportunity," Mr. Godfrey said.

Mr. Shapiro and Canso president John Carswell, a former Royal Canadian Air Force navigator, both declined to comment on their positions or portfolios, citing company policies.

Many analysts are hesitant to discuss Postmedia, in part because its stock doesn't trade.

But those who still follow the company worry that its current track is unsustainable.

"We have been struggling with the status quo at Postmedia given the intersection of [10-per-centplus] revenue declines and elevated balance sheet leverage," Haran Posner, an analyst at RBC Dominion Securities Inc., said in a research note.

In a 2010 interview, Mr. Shapiro said he didn't believe "you can cut your way to greatness in these businesses." Yet ever since, Postmedia has had little choice but to try.

Staff cuts at some papers have been "incredible," as one former company executive put it. At inception, Postmedia had a fulltime equivalent staff head count of 5,400. That had been slashed by more than half to 2,500, through cutbacks and the sales of some British Columbia papers, before the Sun deal added 2,300 new staff to Postmedia's ranks.

"What I am concerned about, apart from when we hit the bottom, is when do they hit a spot where there's nothing to cut?" Mr. Adu said. "Because I still don't know when revenue is going to level off."

The road ahead In July, Mr. Godfrey received a sobering assessment of the company's newspapers from National Post founder Conrad Black while investors and analysts listened in.

Mr. Black - a shareholder, columnist for the Post and former owner of many of Postmedia's papers through Hollinger - dialled in to the typically tame quarterly conference call, voicing his concern that "we've got our feet stuck in cement here."

"Some of those newspapers have deteriorated a long way from what I remember," Mr. Black said on the call. "Some of it you can't avoid; some of it, you can.

But please build the quality. Otherwise, you're going to retreat right into your own end zone, if you'll pardon the sports metaphor."

Mr. Godfrey knows his papers, like many others, have lost talent through layoffs, poaching by competitors and departing staff who didn't see a future in the industry. In response, Postmedia has recruited some prominent new writers, including columnist Colby Cosh and prolific Parliament Hill journalist Kady O'Malley.

But the challenge remains finding a way to keep up journalistic quality while generating enough cash to pay creditors.

The most promising avenue to boost revenue is in the digital business, which is forecast to bring in more than $100-million in 2015 and perhaps $120-million in 2016, but it has struggled to take off.

Postmedia's newspapers are now competing in an online market increasingly dominated by Google, Facebook and Apple, companies with hundreds of billions of dollars in market capitalization that are building their own platforms to deliver news. So can the promised new initiatives turn the tide?

"I think in some areas we can be competitive enough to make up the difference between surviving and not surviving," Mr. Godfrey said. "I really believe that."


$652-million Postmedia's long-term debt, which includes $140-million in new borrowing to finance the acquisition of Sun Media properties earlier this year.

$325-million Estimated interest payments since 2010 on Postmedia's long-term debt.

8.25 per cent, 12.5 per cent The high interest rates on Postmedia's $633-million debt.

$0.59 Postmedia's share price, down from a high of $17.75 in 2011.

17 Number of consecutive quarters in which Postmedia's revenue declined, between 2011 and 2015.

2,900 Number of full-time equivalent positions cut from Postmedia, some through the sale of newspapers, in a five-year span.


Interest Postmedia has paid on its long-term debt, including amortized expenses related to acquiring the debt.

Associated Graphic



By her actions, a health tragedy averted
B.C. native's 'exceptional judgment' blocked use of thalidomide in United States, led to tougher rules on drug approvals
Saturday, August 15, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S10

Frances Oldham Kelsey may have been the most brilliant medical officer that Canada never had. She gave her truly lasting gift to the United States, performing one of the most celebrated acts of public service of the 20th century.

Dr. Kelsey knew her mind, even as a novice at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration at the dawn of 1960s. She was a rarity - a woman, and a Canadian to boot - when a seemingly routine application crossed her desk. It was for a new drug called thalidomide, a "miracle" medication billed as safe for pregnant women suffering from insomnia and morning sickness.

The drug executives thought she would be a pushover.

They didn't know Dr. Kelsey.

Exacting, astute, and unshakable in her faith in science, Dr. Kelsey, who died on Aug. 7 in London, Ont., at the age of 101, was not one to be bullied. No matter how much the William S.

Merrell Co. lobbied to get the drug approved, she would not be rushed.

She insisted on having more proof of its safety, effectively stalling for time months before the drug's horrors were fully exposed.

Ultimately, thalidomide never got the go-ahead, and the United States - unlike Canada and dozens of other countries - was spared one of the worst drug disasters of all time.

"She was just very clear, very quiet and very calm, and said no," said her daughter Christine Kelsey. "She was quietly spoken but firmly spoken, and she was always very strong in her convictions. And she was very confident in her scientific knowledge."

In one of her final interviews, Dr. Kelsey told The Globe and Mail she had been expected to rubber-stamp Merrell's application because thalidomide had been popular in Europe; countless consumers were already using it in Britain and in Germany, where it was developed.

Even at age 100, reliant on a wheelchair and with her hearing nearly gone, Dr. Kelsey demonstrated in that interview the same lively mind and firmness of will that guided her during the historic episode in Washington, D.C., a half-century earlier.

"I held my ground. I just wouldn't approve it," she said in her home in suburban Washington, where she lived before moving back to Canada late last year.

"Representatives for the company thought I was crazy because it was such a popular drug in Europe, and they were losing money by my pigheadedness.

The company wasn't happy with me."

Frances Oldham was born on July 24, 1914, in Cobble Hill, B.C., a small community on Vancouver Island, one of four children of a Scottish mother and a father who had been an officer in the British Army.

From her mother's side came role models of accomplished women; one aunt was a doctor and another, a lawyer. Young Frankie's childhood was spent exploring the fields, streams and forests around the idyllic family home. She was sent for some of her earliest schooling to an allboys' private school because her parents expected her to get as good an education as her older brother; she was the only girl at the school for several terms.

After studies in British Columbia, her interest in biology led her to McGill University in Montreal, where she earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in science.

She also showed distinction beyond the classroom: Her McGill basketball team won championships in the early 1930s.

Her first choice was to remain at home and get a job in Canada, but it was the depths of the Great Depression and she couldn't find work. So she took her McGill professor's advice and applied to be a research assistant in the University of Chicago's new pharmacology department.

After mailing a letter to the department, she received a response offering a position; the professor mistook Frances for a man and addressed her as "Mr. Oldham." She didn't correct him and took the position, musing years later that had her name been "Elizabeth or Mary Jane," she might never have got her first break.

At the University of Chicago, she met and married a fellow pharmacologist, Fremont Ellis Kelsey, and gave birth to their two daughters while working toward her medical degree.

Dinnertime conversations revolved around science and work-related topics. "We learned some of our first words, like isotopes, from them," said her other daughter, Susan Duffield. Her mother taught the two girls about the importance of science: "She would say, 'Don't just guess something, prove something.' " Dr. Kelsey later got a job as an editorial assistant reviewing physician-submitted articles for the Journal of the American Medical Association, a stint that would prove useful when it came time to evaluate thalidomide's claims.

"I soon learned ... that good scientists are almost invariably good writers and that poor writing is often a sign of poor science," she later recalled.

After several years in South Dakota, where Dr. Kelsey did research and practised as a physician, she and her husband decided to move their family to Washington, where she was offered a job with the then-expanding FDA and her husband found work at the National Institutes of Health.

In many ways, the combination of Dr. Kelsey's character and her particular set of career skills came together fortuitously when it was time to assess the thalidomide application in the fall of 1960. The pressure was great. Executives from Merrell wrote, phoned and showed up to try to persuade her to approve their application, but she would not relent.

Derided by her detractors as an obstructionist nitpicker, she was ultimately vindicated. In early 1961, she spotted a letter in the British Medical Journal by a Scottish physician who noted incidents of nerve damage among his patients taking thalidomide.

Dr. Kelsey asked Merrell why the company had never mentioned the troubling side effect; she also began to press company representatives about the effects of thalidomide on the fetus, for which the drug makers had not done any testing.

"It was just too overblown," Dr. Kelsey told The Globe about the company's pitch. "And they didn't have any evidence to submit."

By November, 1961, the full scope of the thalidomide tragedy began to unfold. News from Europe linked the drug to birth defects, including stunted or missing limbs, heart malformations, deafness and blindness.

Thalidomide was yanked from the shelves in Europe by the end of the year. To Canada's shame, it remained available in this country for three more months, until March, 1962.

Soon, Dr. Kelsey, an anonymous civil servant, shot to renown. A front-page article in The Washington Post focused on her behind-the-scenes work and she became a hero in an age when women were still breaking out of their traditional roles. "A Woman Doctor who Would Not be Hurried," read the headline of a Life magazine article about her. "Lady Cop," wrote Newsweek. A 1962 opinion poll rated her one of the most admired women in the world. Her image and an account of her work was used on a recruitment poster for the U.S. civil service.

Dr. Kelsey's coup helped push through tighter U.S. rules on how drugs would be reviewed and approved, ushering in a modern and science-based drug-approval system.

Accolades followed. In August, 1962, she turned up on the White House lawn in a proper hat and white gloves to receive the Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service from a smiling John F. Kennedy. The president praised her "exceptional judgment" in preventing tragedy in the United States.

Recognition in her homeland was slow in coming, however, perhaps because Dr. Kelsey's courage reflected poorly on Canada's conduct.

It was only this year, after the federal government belatedly offered its regrets and agreed to grant pensions to Canada's nearly 100 thalidomide survivors, that Dr. Kelsey was named a Member of the Order of Canada. The insignia for the honour was presented to her on Aug. 6 at Christine Kelsey's home in London, Ont., less than 24 hours before Dr. Kelsey's death.

In person, Dr. Kelsey showed self-assurance, a penchant for dry wit, and a mannerly insistence on sending a properly written thankyou note. She remained a devoted civil servant well into her senior years, showing up for work at the FDA until the age of 88.

She devoured biographies and played bridge or a round of golf often as she could. During The Globe's visit to her Washington home last fall, the centenarian gamely posed for photos and perused a crossword puzzle as she sat overlooking her beloved vegetable garden.

Coincidentally, Dr. Kelsey returned to Canada just after The Globe and Mail published an award-winning exposé about the devastating legacy left by thalidomide on the country's nearly 100 victims. The Globe's coverage resulted in a unanimous parliamentary motion to support the victims, and this year Ottawa announced they would receive up to $100,000 each in annual pensions for the rest of their lives.

To the Canadian survivors of the drug, who suffered the tragic consequences of their country's lapses, Dr. Kelsey represented a potent symbol of conscientiousness and public duty. She also stood out as a heroic figure in a story dominated globally by corporate greed and government negligence.

Dr. Kelsey, who became a naturalized American in 1956, remained deeply attached to her homeland. She never missed a chance to visit Vancouver Island's Cowichan Bay with her daughters to go salmon fishing. A framed watercolour of her childhood home remained with her throughout her adult life, and it hung on the wall, at the foot of her bed, where she spent her final days.

Dr. Kelsey, whose husband died in 1966, leaves her two daughters, two grandsons, and a sister, Monica Oldham, of Victoria. Her family intends to bury her ashes on Vancouver Island, in Cobble Hill.

To submit an I Remember: Send us a memory of someone we have recently profiled on the Obituaries page. Please include I Remember in the subject field.

Associated Graphic

Dr. Frances Kelsey receives the Distinguished Federal Civilian Service medal from U.S. President John F. Kennedy on Aug. 8, 1962.


Above: Dr. Kelsey's strong stand on thalidomide was extolled in a recruitment poster for the U.S. civil service in the 1960s. Left: Dr. Kelsey at her daughter's home in London, Ont., in December, 2014.


The bold, canny aesthete at the helm of a German media giant
Mathias Doepfner, CEO of Axel Springer
Saturday, August 15, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B3

BERLIN -- It's a summery afternoon in June when I arrive at the headquarters of Axel Springer SE. On the plaza in front of the building, employees are sitting on chunks of the former Berlin Wall, drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes and basking in the sun.

The location of the German media giant is no accident. Its eponymous founder deliberately chose this spot to build his office tower - a calculated affront to the notion of a divided Germany, expressed through real estate.

In keeping with company tradition, the current chief executive, Mathias Doepfner, is not averse to bold statements. These days, though, they're not so much about geopolitics as about the future of journalism, technology and privacy.

Last year, Mr. Doepfner penned an open letter warning against Google Inc.'s market domination and its "totalitarian" attitude toward personal data, a move that won him both praise and brickbats.

On the business side, he has proven equally audacious. For months, he negotiated to take over one of the world's flagship newspaper brands - the Financial Times - only to be outbid at the last moment by Japan's Nikkei Inc. in late July.

The ultimately unsuccessful attempt to buy the prestigious salmon-coloured business daily says much about where Mr. Doepfner intends to take the 59year old company, Europe's largest newspaper publisher. Mr. Doepfner envisions a future for Axel Springer that is international, English-speaking and entirely digital. But as the pursuit of the Financial Times demonstrated, it won't be easy arriving there.

We meet for lunch at an oval table outside his glass-walled office on the top floor of Axel Springer's tower. The backdrop is a panoramic view of Berlin. A former music critic who stands 6 foot 7, Mr. Doepfner is wearing a skinny dark-blue tie and a slim black suit with a jacket that has a camouflage pattern lining. As we tuck into openfaced sandwiches, he mixes candour with coyness.

Mr. Doepfner makes no secret of his appetite for acquisitions and seems to relish Axel Springer's role as possible suitor. I note that the company has been linked to potential takeovers of Forbes and the Huffington Post.

"I can tell you, and rightly so, we are looking at all of them," he says with a grin.

But he gives no hint that he is already deep in negotiations to buy the FT.

It's now evident that Mr. Doepfner's drive to expand is tempered by an equally strong desire not to overpay.("He later commented on the failed deal in an earnings conference call.

"We would have loved to have bought the FT," he said, according to The Wall Street Journal.

"It fitted perfectly into our strategy, but the price was too high.") Nikkei bought the publisher for £844-million("$1.73billion) in late July.

Axel Springer's flagship publication is Bild, a tabloid offering a daily fare of provocation, insult and entertainment that dominates the German market.

The company also publishes the highbrow conservative daily Die Welt and owns a portfolio of specialized websites focusing on everything from finance to sports to classifieds. It's a partner or investor in a host of new media ventures, including Politico Europe, Business Insider and

Like publishers elsewhere, Mr. Doepfner is trying to reduce the company's reliance on print advertising and to boost revenue generated by digital media.

Axel Springer has made big strides: digital products accounted for 60 per cent of the company's 1.58-billion("$2.29-billion) in revenue in the first half of this year, up from 54 per cent in the same period last year. Especially promising are the classified-advertising properties under the Axel Springer umbrella, where revenue jumped 57 per cent in the first half.

Converting a new generation of newspaper readers into paying digital subscribers is proving difficult work.

The number of digital-only subscribers to Bild and Die Welt - about 330,000 - is still dwarfed by their combined weekday print circulation of 2.4 million. Mr. Doepfner calls the digital subscriber figures "a nice start" but not something "we can be happy with at all."

Mr. Doepfner, who owns a 3.1per-cent stake in the company, talks with zeal about the promise of digital journalism. He believes that within a decade, printed newspapers will only exist "as a kind of nostalgic, vintage item," much like vinyl records. Instead, they will be published on thin, flexible electronic paper, he says, picking up his immaculate white cloth napkin to demonstrate. "You can fold it, you can roll it," he says.

The prototypes already exist, he adds, and will become massmarket products.

Stories delivered on such electronic paper could be constantly updated, operate without space constraints, incorporate multimedia elements and interact with readers, he says. "Digital journalism should be and could be and will be much better than printed journalism," Mr. Doepfner says. With one caveat, he adds: It won't be better if the business model is not intact.

Axel Springer has introduced "paywalls" for its newspapers, although Mr. Doepfner detests that terminology. "If you erect walls, you cannot be surprised that people don't like it," he says, a sentiment with particular resonance in Berlin. But whatever media organizations call it, they need to charge for their product, he asserts. If journalists don't believe that their work is valuable enough to merit being paid for, he says vehemently, then "we should change professions."

It's time for a cup of coffee.

There's an elegant espresso machine on a ledge near the window, and Mr. Doepfner makes an espresso for me and a ristretto - black, no sugar - for himself.

I take the opportunity to ask him about a striking work of art just behind his desk. It's impossible to miss: a large wooden Star of David painted yellow and studded with bent nails along every edge. Mr. Doepfner explains it's a work by Guenther Uecker, a famous German artist, who created it on the 30th anniversary of the re-establishment of diplomatic ties between Germany and Israel.

"I saw it and I found it particularly emotional," he says as the coffee machine hums. "The whole topic of reconciliation between Germany and Israel and the fight against anti-Semitism is very important for me and for the company. I thought, 'Even if it is a strong signal, why not send it, ja?' " His office provides ample evidence of his passion for art, but his first love was music. He says his two favourite composers are Gustav Mahler and James Brown. He professes fascination for everything from techno to funk to opera, with one small but significant exception. "The worst thing is everything that is related to folk and country music," he says. "If you want to kick me out of a room, that's the most efficient way."

Born in Bonn, Mr. Doepfner moved to Frankfurt with his parents at the age of seven and harboured dreams of becoming a bass guitarist. He studied musicology and wrote a doctorate that explored the evolution of German music criticism after the Second World War. After working as a critic himself, he started dreaming up new magazines - "totally unrealistic" concepts, he now says - and began presenting them to publishers.

They didn't bite, but one major publisher hired him as his assistant.

From there, he became a newspaper editor and then moved to Axel Springer in 1998 as editor-in-chief of Die Welt.

Four years later, he became chief executive of the company.

His savvy financial stewardship of the firm proved that he was both "Schoengeist und Teppichhandler" - both an aesthete and a carpet-dealer, as he once described himself in a documentary.

Mr. Doepfner's open clash with Google began in the context of ongoing tension over European competition policy.

He hesitated for a day or two before writing his long open letter to Eric Schmidt, Google's executive chairman. He considers Mr. Schmidt a friend - when the American executive is in Berlin, they spend time in nearby Potsdam, where Mr. Doepfner lives - but the relationship between Google and publishers is more "frenemies," he says.

He describes the ensuing debate over Google's role in Europe as gratifying. The letter "opened people's mouths," he says, whereas before they didn't dare criticize the search giant.

"I'm pretty sure that it will lead to [a] fair solution where Google can still prosper and grow and be one of the smartest and most successful companies in the world, but there is also room for new startups with great ideas."

Reflecting on his unconventional career path shuttling between the editorial and business sides of journalism, Mr. Doepfner says his current role is perfect, because he gets to do both.

"I enjoy it every day, I have to tell you," he says, almost like a confession.

Apparently in Germany, it's still a tad strange to declare that you have fun in your job. When asked about work, the more conventional response is "it's very hard, very difficult, lots of challenges and so on," Mr. Doepfner says with a laugh.

"You could not say, 'I'm enjoying it, I love to sit in my office.' " That's changing with a younger generation of workers, he adds. But in at least one way, German culture remains the same. We agreed on an hour for the interview - and now, to the minute, my time is up.


Age: 52

Place of birth: Bonn, Germany

Education: PhD in Musicology from the University of Frankfurt

Family: Married, with three children

Home: Historic villa in Potsdam, former imperial capital just south of Berlin

Favourite composers: Gustav Mahler and James Brown.

"I have always had a very broad range of interests" in music, he says, ranging from Italian and German opera to "everything that is related to rhythm and blues, soul, funk, jazz, rock ... Techno I also find very fascinating, very interesting and different."

Favourite orchestra: Vienna Philharmonic

Favourite concert hall: Berliner Philharmonie

Favourite museum: Philadelphia Museum of Art

Favourite place to eat in Berlin: Grill Royal, an upscale steakhouse frequented by movers and shakers that overlooks the Spree River.

Hobbies: "It's music, it's art - more and more I'm collecting myself. To answer specifically, I'm collecting female nudes over 500 years. The third [hobby] is collecting old red wines, from the first half of the 20th century."

Associated Graphic


Lonely struggle
Although eating disorders take the lives of some 1,500 Canadians a year, specialists are so few and far between that only the most extreme cases get treated. Wency Leung reports on why so few are tackling a deadly condition
Monday, August 17, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L1

Although she has a severe illness, Amy Preskow says she has been repeatedly sent home from hospital emergency departments, turned away from overstretched publicly funded treatment programs, and at times, even belittled by health care workers.

Preskow, who has anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, says doctors have sent her home with instructions to "just eat," nurses have treated her "like a small child" to get her to finish her meals. Once, after she collapsed in public from a panic attack, she says, paramedics mocked her for wearing a medical identification bracelet that warned of her eating disorders, dismissing her case as a "waste of time."

"It makes you feel really helpless and really brushed off," the 30-year-old Toronto resident says. "It makes you feel stupid for even thinking there's something wrong with you." Such is the consequence of having a misunderstood, yet life-threatening sickness that affects hundreds of thousands of Canadians - most of them women and girls.

An estimated 1,500 Canadians die every year as a result of an eating disorder. Yet, in the five years it takes to complete a psychiatry residency training program, residents typically receive only three hours of instruction on eating disorders, according to Toronto psychiatrist Dr. Blake Woodside.

As noted in a report on eating disorders last year by a parliamentary standing committee on the status of women, medical and psychiatry students receive inadequate training on the subject. At present, of the nearly 4,800 licensed psychiatrists in Canada, slightly more than a dozen specialize in eating disorders.

The question is why: Why aren't more health-care professionals lining up to treat them? If eating disorders are to stand a chance in the competition for health-care funding and talent, a critical step will be to make them more appealing. As Dr. Leora Pinhas, one of the few psychiatrists specializing in eating disorders, put it: "Part of this [challenge] is someone has to say: 'This is a crisis. How do we recruit people? How do we make this sexy?'

"Perhaps most important is the myth that persists, even among health care professionals, that eating disorders are not a legitimate illness, but a culture-driven lifestyle choice, a bad habit of vain, privileged, young women who are desperate to look supermodel-thin.

Overlooked and misunderstood

At Toronto General Hospital, Woodside says the waiting list for an in-patient bed is about five months long for eating-disorder patients with a body mass index of 14. That's the equivalent of a 163 centimetres (5-foot-4) woman weighing less than 37 kilograms (82 pounds).

Woodside, who says he attends "too many funerals" of his patients, says they are among the most disadvantaged segments of the population when it comes to receiving health care. Eating disorders are a mental illness that predominately affect young women. Although males are also affected, about 80 per cent of individuals with eating disorders are female.

"If this was an illness of middleaged men, there would be clinics across the country. And there would be no wait lists," he says.

Among health-care professionals, even among general psychiatrists, much of the disregard for eating disorders stems from a misunderstanding of them and a lack of training, Woodside explains. This includes for anorexia nervosa, which is characterized by a distorted perception of one's body and a self-restricted diet, and bulimia nervosa, in which patients binge on food and purge by vomiting or using laxatives.

Contrary to common misconceptions, there's far more to anorexia and bulimia than a desire to be thin. Both are believed to have a underlying genetic component, which is triggered by one's environment and life experiences, ranging from puberty to severe trauma, such as sexual abuse, Woodside says. Instead of turning to drugs or other means of coping with their problems, he says, in a society where thinness is valued and dieting is common, some may develop eating disorders as they attempt to lose weight in order to feel better about themselves. For those with a genetic vulnerability to anorexia, "it becomes a positive feedback cycle where what you're doing to feel better is like throwing gasoline on a fire to put it out."

Incidentally, Woodside points out, eating disorders aren't limited to Western cultures.

Symptoms of anorexia have also been documented among underprivileged individuals in Hong Kong, for example, although the rationale for their illness is unrelated to dieting and fear of fat.

Rather, they say they restrict their food intake out of an ascetic ideal, Woodside says.

In Preskow's case, she recalls feeling self-conscious about her body as early as the age of five. In her early teens, restricting her diet and losing weight initially drew compliments from her peers. But over time, it became impossible to separate her distorted relationship with food from her sense of identity.

It's not as though she looks in the mirror and sees an obese version of herself, Preskow explains.

She clearly sees the sharp angles of her frame and the prominent veins on her arms. Rather, her reflection shows her areas of her body she despises and wants to eliminate.

Her illness is, in fact, the opposite of vanity, but a condition fuelled by uncontrollable anxiety. As she shares in an excerpt from her diary: "Nothing is okay. Nowhere is safe ... I want to take a knife and slash my body. Carve off the fat places until only bone remains and everything is quiet."

Doctors rarely, if ever, address the psychological roots of her illness, she says.

Choosing a specialty

If eating-disorder patients get short shrift, then what about those who are devoted to treating them?

In Halifax, psychiatrist Dr. Aaron Keshen of the Nova Scotia Health Authority's eating disorder program, says he's never heard any disparaging comments himself. Nonetheless, he believes there's a sense among medical and general psychiatry professionals that his chosen area of expertise is "a little softer than ... you know, 'serious' medicine."

Because psychiatry, in general, is viewed by some people in the medical world as "not a real medical specialty," he says, some psychiatry residents may find it more appealing to gravitate toward sub-specialties that may be perceived as "more medical or hard science," such as neuropsychiatry.

But even if there were more psychiatrists willing to work in the area of eating disorders, there are only so many positions available because of the limited number of publicly funded programs across the country, Dr. Wendy Spettigue of the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario says.

Spettigue says her own team at the Ottawa hospital was forced to turn away new patients to its eating disorders program more than two years ago because it wasn't able to cope with the year-long - and growing - waiting list. She notes the program is aiming to reopen this summer.

"We just stopped accepting referrals because there were too many," she explains. "We can't treat kids with mild eating disorders. We can't even treat kids with moderate eating disorders. We can only treat the most severely ill here in the hospital and the rest are going to have to find resources in the community, even though those resources don't exist."

Reflected in the dollars

One way of examining where eating disorders stand in the health care system is by looking at the amount of money that goes into researching them.

Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the government's health research investment agency, says it granted $4.2-million toward eating disorders research between 2009-10 and 2013-14. In that same period, research on schizophrenia, which affects roughly the same percentage of the population, received $34.1million, and autism research received $26.7-million.

Dr. Paul Garfinkel, an expert on eating disorders and a member of the agency's governing council, says he believes this difference isn't because eating disorders are considered less important than other illnesses.

"Rather there are fewer topquality proposals" for funding, he says, noting he's had no difficulty obtaining research funding in the past for his own work on eating disorders.

Other experts, however, say they've found it extremely hard to find funding for their work. Either way, the disproportionately low profile of the illness may be discouraging for anyone looking to build a career in the field.

"As a culture, as a society, if we demonstrate with our money what we care about, this is not it," says Pinhas of Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences. She adds that this principle extends to the incomes of psychiatrists specializing in eating disorders as well.

Psychiatry, in general, is the lowest paid specialty in Canada.

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, average gross payments to psychiatrists on a fee-for-service basis were about $233,000 in 201213. Family physicians received slightly more at nearly $248,000 and ophthalmologists received the highest payments with an average of more than $701,000.

Pinhas emphasizes she isn't bothered by the amount she earns, but rather how that compares with other health care professionals. "It's still good money.

It's that how much you pay someone is a marker to their colleagues and to the hospital administrators what's valued," she says, noting she does more unpaid work treating and advocating for her patients than she is willing to divulge.

"People are always expecting eating disorders [programs] to, like, make do with a little. Make do with less, right? And we do," Pinhas says. "But it's not sustainable and people burn out."

As for Amy Preskow, her struggle continues, and her story is far from rare. Her mother, Wendy Preskow, founded the non-profit National Initiative for Eating Disorders advocacy group and frequently hears from parents and patients across the country who are desperate for help.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, Wendy pulls out a binder, nearly three inches thick, full of e-mails she has printed off from other parents whose children have eating disorders. Page after page, their messages are the same: What do we do?

Associated Graphic


Amy Preskow, right, has anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa and struggles to get health-care treatment for her conditions. Her mother, Wendy Preskow, left, founded the non-profit National Initiative for Eating Disorders advocacy group.

A boundless, borderless anti-poverty force
Leilani Farha, executive director of Canada Without Poverty
Saturday, August 22, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B3

OTTAWA -- Sitting across from Leilani Farha at a corner table in Ottawa's Fauna Food + Bar, I am exhausted just hearing about her work. She's executive director of Canada Without Poverty - a think tank and advocacy group geared to the daunting task of alleviating poverty in this country. At the same time, she is also the United Nations' current "special rapporteur" on adequate housing, a position that sees her travel around the globe and comment on key housing problems and crises. Oh yes, and she also has two young children.

But the trim 47-year-old seems to have boundless energy to tackle the seemingly intractable issues that have created enormous inequality between rich and poor. At the very basic level, she says she has taken on these jobs because "I want to make change." And the UN position, in particular, is "an avenue to make change on a global basis," she says.

Still, alleviating poverty is an uphill battle, to say the least.

Even in a wealthy country such as Canada there are as many as four million poor people, depending on how you measure it, and 250,000 people are homeless. In less-developed countries, the numbers are staggeringly higher.

"I vacillate between feeling like, 'Yes, with others I can make change,' and feeling like a speck," she says. "I bounce back and forth between those two positions."

Ms. Farha did not grow up poor, but she does have a background that made her keenly aware of what it is like to be an outsider.

Her parents are both of Lebanese descent, and she felt some hostility growing up in a very white Ottawa neighbourhood, where "Arabs go home" was once scrawled on her family's back fence.

"That constellation of things - the Arabness, and discrimination my parents suffered and connections with the conflict in the Middle East - it informs my identity and who I am. It informs my subject positioning in the world. And certainly the dinner conversation was political," she said. "I was pretty justice-oriented from a young age."

While studying English literature at the University of Toronto, she took a summer job at a youth employment centre, and that helped tilt her toward social work as a graduate program. A combined master's degree in law and social work brought the justice, policy and politics together in one program.

Her field has taken her to Geneva, where she worked at an organization that promoted global housing rights, and to Toronto, where she ran a non-profit that tried to prevent evictions and housing discrimination. In 2012, she took the top job at Canada Without Poverty - the former National Anti-Poverty Organization (NAPO) - which scrapes by with a staff of four and financial support from individual donors and church and labour groups. At one time, the government gave it some base funding, but those days are long gone.

Ms. Farha's approach has always been to look at poverty in a human-rights framework. That means the starting point is that poverty violates a number of inherent human rights, no matter where it exists.

"You can take the least-developed country or you can take the most-developed country and the fact exists that there is a human right to adequate housing, or the right to adequate food," she says.

"It imposes on states, and on national and subnational governments, certain obligations."

One of Canada Without Poverty's key positions is that this country needs to develop a national plan to cut poverty.

"The route to go is a national anti-poverty strategy that would include a national homelessness strategy, a national adequatehousing strategy, and a national child-care policy. That would be a big step, because it would be an admission that the federal government has a role to play, and that it has international human-rights obligations."

There is no silver bullet, she acknowledges, but she insists that progress can be made if there are co-ordinated efforts at all political levels - and federal government involvement, which has been lacking. It is "ludicrous" that a country such as Canada with its resources and sophistication does not have a national plan to fight poverty, she says.

Specifically, a national childcare plan would be particularly helpful for poor single parents, she says, while some kind of rentsupplement system would make a huge difference for those facing sky-high housing costs.

And while many provinces and municipalities have made a firm commitment to cut poverty, and have tried some innovative approaches, few have measurable goals and timelines, or a review mechanism, she says.

Ms. Farha also has a message for Canada's business community: Think about the impact of your decisions on low-income Canadians. Is there a way to keep high bank fees or phone bills from hurting those who can least afford them? Are you paying a living wage to your employees so they don't need to hold two jobs or make regular trips to food banks? Are you putting yourself in the shoes of your employees or customers who have a hard time making ends meet, or who are sending money back to support family members in other countries?

Ms. Farha thinks that, at the very least, Canada could eliminate homelessness. "I think that is solvable. We are one of the richest countries in the world.

Even in the middle of the recession, we were still doing quite well compared to other countries.

We are not in the situation of Greece, Portugal, Italy, Spain. I think we could do it, if we set our minds to it."

There is certainly more to the issue of poverty than just handing over more money to poor people, she says. While poverty is partly about a lack of funds, it really is a social condition.

"If we just give poor people money, do you think that would end stigmatization, discrimination, exclusion, etc.? I don't think so. How much money would you have to give them to have them move to the middle class, or to avoid those kinds of discrimination? The person who has been poor - let's say 20 years of poverty, or 15 years in and out of poverty with or without a disability - that stays with you and informs who you are. You can't boil it down to money."

She points out that poverty is enormously costly to Canada, putting an extra burden on the health-care and criminal justice systems, in addition to the huge amounts spent on homeless shelters and other supports.

At times, it seems incongruous to be speaking about poverty while enjoying a trendy Ottawa restaurant's lovely lunch - roasted eggplant soup and asparagus salad for her, swordfish and pasta for me.

Ms. Farha acknowledges that her personal life is middle-class, although she earns considerably less running Canada Without Poverty than she would practising as a lawyer. "I think that I have deep empathy and I am working pretty hard, with very little wages. But I am paid. I am not paid really poorly or anything."

She also appreciates - perhaps more than most people - the little luxuries of life. When our server delivers warm milk to accompany her after-lunch coffee, she says: "We live in a totally uncivilized world, but this is very civilized."

Ms. Farha's work with the United Nations has given exposure to some of the most difficult global housing issues that make Canada's seem mild by comparison.

She was appointed a little more than a year ago as the special rapporteur on adequate housing, an unpaid job, although her expenses are covered. Her task is to report to the UN on specific housing situations that arise in problem areas around the world.

Ms. Farha has so far been to Cape Verde, a tiny island nation off the west coast of Africa that is trying to implement a socialhousing program, and to Serbia, where the housing issues involve refugees, migrants and a transformation of collective home ownership to a market-driven system.

She has also commented on emergency shelters for migrants in the Netherlands, and the demolition of Palestinian homes in Israel. And she made an unofficial trip to Detroit to look into the situation where water was shut off to poor residents when they couldn't pay their bills.

Currently, Ms. Farha is working on a report to the UN about housing problems in cities, as the world accelerates toward mass urbanization. That's an enormously daunting and complex issue, but she is willing to tackle it.

And, she acknowledges, despite the complex problems, there has been some progress. Canada has made a dent in child poverty, and made big steps in cutting poverty among seniors. At the same time, there is more public awareness of the massive gap between rich and poor, and how more-equal societies are often more likely to prosper than those with deep inequalities.

What's needed the most, she says, is an awareness among policy-makers around the world that everyone is part of the human family, and that they need to have real empathy with those who are suffering. She says they need to put themselves "in the shoes of a single mom with two teenage daughters who has no bathroom. [We should] try to do policy from that place."


Age: 47

Place of birth: Ottawa

Family: Married to professor David Wiseman; two children, a 12-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old son.

Education: BA in English literature; a combined law degree and master's of social work. Both at University of Toronto.

On the Canada Revenue Agency's audits of charitable organizations: "I actually believe in random audits.

I totally agree that partisan political activities are not acceptable for a charity. It is how [the Income Tax Act] defines what is political that is so disheartening. They say that if you do some kind of activity that could possibly lead someone to change their mind or their opinion about an issue, it is a political activity. Am I wrong that I find that frightening? My real concern is that they are stifling freedom of expression. To me, it is Orwellian."

Associated Graphic


Alive with history
How much do you know about Georgia? Right. Here's what you're missing: a sixth-century cave city, a Persian fortress and a 19th-century winery - to name a few sights. And friendly locals eager to show it off
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, August 22, 2015 – Print Edition, Page T1

TBILISI, GEORGIA -- The cool, dim exhibit rooms of the Museum of Georgia are a welcome escape on this hot July afternoon.

After several hours of leading our group around the capital city of Tbilisi on foot, our guide, Anna, has let us loose to explore on our own, and I've got two exhibitions in my sights.

The first, the Archeological Treasury, is a series of cases filled with stunning millennia-old metalwork, such as bright-gold jewellery from the famed kingdom of Colchis, one of the ancestors of modern Georgia.

The other, called the Soviet Occupation, is just as striking. The displays explain how the independent country of Georgia was invaded and brought into the Soviet fold in 1921 following its short-lived existence after the Russian Revolution - and conclude with a jarring map of the current-day disputed regions known internationally (by their Russian names) as Abkhazia and South Ossetia: independent states, according to the Russian party line, occupied territories, from the Georgian point of view.

The latter exhibit is a stark reminder of Georgia's complex relations with its northern neighbour, 24 years after its independence from the Soviet Union and more than two centuries after its 1801 annexation by the Russian Empire. The former, on the other hand, serves to demonstrate the rich cultural heritage of the Georgian people, which has persevered no matter who has been in charge.

I'm on Day 5 of my Caucasian journey with Canadian tour company G Adventures, and teasing apart complicated history has become par for the course. After four days in Armenia, our small group has crossed the border to get a taste of what Georgia has to offer. What we discover is diverse, spectacular landscapes; an easy-to-navigate country; a unique and delicious cuisine; and friendly locals eager to welcome a fresh crop of travellers from beyond the former communist realm.

Every day, we're struck by the density and diversity of things to see and do here. One outing, for instance, covers the sixth-century hilltop Jvari (Cross) Monastery and nearby former capital city Mtskheta; the ornate 1950s Stalin Museum in his birthplace of Gori (complete with the train car he rode in to the Yalta conference); and the cave city of Uplistsikhe, hewn out of rock faces starting in at least the sixth century BC, which in its heyday was a trade centre along a major caravan route with about 20,000 inhabitants. As we wander the worn pathways, carved staircases and cozy rooms of the ancient town, we stain our fingers with juicy purple mulberries purchased from a vendor outside the ticket office.

In Kakheti, Georgia's wine region, we visit the ninthcentury Monastery of St. Nino at Bodbe, a major pilgrimage site and working nunnery, before stopping at the town of Sighnaghi for lunch at Pheasant's Tears, a natural winery that ferments and ages its whites, ambers, rosés and reds the traditional Georgian way, in beeswax-lined clay qvevri buried underground. Sated and then revived with a taste of chacha, the local grape-based spirit, we skip back to the 19th century at the former estate and winery of nobleman Alexander Chavchavadze, a godson of Catherine the Great.

On another excursion, we head north into the mountains along the Georgian Military Road, an ancient trade route that is now the only navigable highway into Russia. Cattle and sheep lazily graze on the emerald slopes; valleys slice between steep mountainsides, their tops brushing the clouds; on one hairpin turn, an improbable food shop huddles into the rocky face, a couple of parking spots across the road at the edge of a cliff.

We overnight in the ski town of Gudauri, then climb higher, aiming for the town of Stepantsminda and the Sameba church in its perch in the mountains high above the town. Even in the height of summer, patches of snow cling to the deepest crevices. Near the 2,379-metre Jvari Pass, the road's highest point, stands a crumbling 1980s monument to Georgian-Russian friendship. Set on a promontory overlooking the deep Aragvi River valley, it's a popular roadside stop as much for the photo ops and views as for its colourful murals in exuberant Soviet style.

At Stepantsminda, our group splits into two, some opting to drive to the summit while others choose the 90-minute hike.

Many of the Georgians we see are climbing the steep slopes as a sort of pilgrimage; we're more interested in exercise, stretching out legs gone restless after hours on the bus.

We zigzag past houses and through meadows and forest before the rocky path turns steep and our breath turns fast, and then we're there at 2,170 metres, watching cattle graze below the 14th-century church and its bell tower, appearing and disappearing behind strips of fast-moving cloud.

Even taller mountains surround us, including Mount Kazbek, which at 5,047 metres is the third-highest peak in the country.

I approach a group of young men in colourful outdoor gear, clearly preparing for a hike, and ask them how many more hours further they will be going.

You should be asking in days, is the reply, their destination a glacier only reachable in the height of summer.

At the church, crowds of parishioners swarm the doors or simply relax in the yard, enjoying the view; black-robed priests chat unhurriedly while the recently arrived purchase bundles of long yellow candles to be lit once they enter. It turns out we have shown up on a special day for this church, the overflowing attendance an example of the growing role religion is playing in the lives of many Georgians.

In Tbilisi on our group's last night, I take advantage of some downtime before dinner to wander the city streets once more, making my way past sights first seen on our walking tour: the sulphur-rich mineral baths, the grapevine-adorned houses (an essential feature in this winefocused country), the mosque where, unusually, both Shia and Sunni Muslims pray.

I climb the steep stairs to the Nariqala Fortress, originally constructed about 1,600 years ago as a Persian fortress, built up a few centuries later by Arab emirs, and later occupied by Turks, Russians and Georgians, depending on the political climate of the time.

Nowadays, the fortress's inhabitants are mostly tourists looking for a good view, and I seize a spot along the walls to snap photos of the old town, the modern, Italian-designed glasscovered arch of the pedestrian Peace Bridge and silver tubes of Rike Park's Music Theatre and Exhibition Hall, contrasting with the more old-fashioned red-tiled roofs of the houses below me.

Not far away, the 20-metre-tall Mother Georgia statue looks out over the city, a cup of wine in one hand and a sword in the other, simultaneously welcoming guests and fending off enemies. And I hope, for the sake of the Georgians, the cup of wine becomes the best used of the two.

The writer travelled with assistance from G Adventures and the Georgian National Tourism Administration. They did not review or approve this article.


On the 10-day Best of Georgia & Armenia tour with G Adventures, join a small group of travellers and experienced local guides on a journey from Yerevan, Armenia, to Tbilisi, Georgia, via a selection of both countries' top sights. Price includes accommodation, local transportation, breakfast, some lunches and dinners, and entry into most sites visited. From $1,749,

Georgian churches are conservative and, for the most part, require men to wear long pants and shirts with sleeves, while women must wear longer skirts and cover head and shoulders. Many churches supply wrap skirts to cover shorts and, on women, pants.


Extend your stay to explore more of Georgia's diverse regions, from beach towns on the Black Sea to high mountain villages.

Once a playground for the Russian imperial family, then a coveted vacation spot for the Soviet elite, the resort town of Borjomi is famous for its mineral-rich waters, which in their bottled form are the country's leading export. In the midst of renewing its tourist infrastructure (a new Crown Plaza hotel is set to open this fall), the area is worth a visit for its spa facilities, its stunning natural setting and its 20thcentury heritage.

The high-mountain region of Svaneti is a world unto its own, even down to the unwritten, endangered Svan language, related to but quite different from standard Georgian. The towns and landscape are dotted with tall, square stone towers built in the ninth through 12th centuries as family fortifications; thousand-year-old churches are painted with frescoes and adorned with icons in the naive regional style. The Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography is a must-visit. Try to stay long enough to spend time on local trails, whether on foot, on bicycle or on horseback.


In Tbilisi, two energetic chefs, both trained in New York, are reinterpreting Georgian cuisine for the modern palate.

Meriko Gubeladze serves up fresh takes on traditional dishes at her cozy, comfortable Shavi Lomi (23 Amaghleba St.). Tekuna Gachechiladze's new venture, Cafe Littera (13 Machabeli St.), offers what might best be described as Georgian fusion served under the trees of the back courtyard of the hundredyear-old Writers' House, once home to the local Soviet writers' union.

Associated Graphic

Centuries ago, the city of Uplistsikhe was a major caravan route and home to 20,000 people.


Top: Tbilisi features some modern architecture that contrasts with the city's more old-fashioned red-tiled roofs and ancient churches. Above: A crumbling 1980s monument to Georgian-Russian friendship stands near the Jvari Pass. Right: Houses in the high-mountain region of Svaneti were built as forts as well as homes.


Top: Soviet-era kitsch abounds in the flea markets of Tbilisi. Above: Georgia's traditional cuisine includes khachapuri, a delicious cheese-filled bread.

A theatre legend, on the stage and off
Award-winning actor founded Vancouver's Studio 58, one of Canada's major theatre schools
Special to The Globe and Mail
Wednesday, August 19, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S6

At the age of 86, Antony Holland would bring audiences to tears nightly at Vancouver's Arts Club Theatre in the inspirational drama Tuesdays with Morrie, playing an elderly man succumbing to a degenerative disease. Then, on his days off, the restless Mr. Holland would call up some much-younger friends and head east to the Harrison Hot Springs resort, where he'd blow off steam with a little ballroom dancing.

With Mr. Holland, it was ever thus. The actor, teacher, producer and raconteur had an insatiable lust for life - most especially the theatre life - that kept him running full-speed for nearly a century. Mr. Holland died on July 29, at the age of 95, in hospital in Nanaimo, B.C., after a brief illness. Only a week before, he could be found at his usual haunt, a coffee shop on nearby Gabriola Island where he lived, busily writing his next one-man show.

"With Tony, you just expected him to go on forever," said Bill Millerd, artistic managing director of the Arts Club. James Hawkins, Mr. Holland's biographer, suspects he would have been disappointed to make his final exit in a hospital rather than a theatre. "He had hoped to die onstage," Mr. Hawkins said.

In March, Mr. Holland spent his 95th birthday on the boards, performing in a staged reading of Harold Pinter's The Caretaker. And Kathryn Shaw, artistic director of Studio 58, was certain he would perform in September at the Vancouver theatre school's 50th anniversary celebrations. "I know he was looking forward to that," she said.

While Mr. Holland could lay fair claim to being Canada's oldest working actor, his greatest achievement was the founding of Studio 58, of which he was artistic director. He began the school with a handful of students in 1965 and built it into one of the country's major theatrical training centres.

Its graduates form the backbone of B.C.'s professional theatre community and can be found across Canada and beyond.

Alumni range from comedian Colin Mochrie to the founders of Vancouver's acclaimed avantgarde Electric Company. Christopher Gaze, artistic director of the city's Bard on the Beach festival and a frequent employer of Studio 58 grads, calls it "the West Coast version of Canada's National Theatre School."

Studio 58 is noted for turning out actors who not only have an arsenal of skills, but also a cleareyed, pragmatic approach to the business. That's part of Mr. Holland's legacy. He loved the stage, but he also had long personal experience of the hard work and hard knocks that come with pursuing his passion.

Antony Holland was born Albert Edwin Holland on March 28, 1920, in the town of Tiverton in Devon, England. He was the eldest son of Edwin Holland, a garage owner, and Beatrice (née Green), whose father had worked as a gardener for Victor Hugo, author of Les Misérables. Antony loved performing from an early age - and the professional instinct was there from the start, too. Mr. Hawkins said the eightyear-old boy would put on solo shows for his peers, "but all the kids had to pay a ha'penny or they couldn't watch him."

As an adolescent, Antony won a scholarship to the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, but had to turn it down when his father refused to pay his room and board in London. Undaunted, the young man attended evening classes at a smaller theatre school until the Second World War intervened and he was conscripted, at 21, into Britain's Royal Corps of Signals. He was shipped off to fight in Egypt, which became the unlikely scene of his first theatrical triumphs.

Mr. Holland loved to tell tales of his wartime exploits as a soldiercum-actor/manager, staging shows in the desert - stories that his friend and Gabriola neighbour Mr. Hawkins assumed were exaggerated. But when he set out to write Mr. Holland's biography (the saucily titled Antony's Private Parts, published in 2011), his research proved that everything Mr. Holland said "was absolutely true."

Mr. Holland was trained as a radio operator, of which the British Army had a surfeit, so he spent much of his time boosting morale and entertaining fellow soldiers by organizing makeshift theatre groups and putting on plays. Or rather, one play - the Emlyn Williams thriller Night Must Fall, in which he invariably performed the lead role. It did so well that he was invited to stage it at the Royal Opera House in Cairo, where it was a hit. Mr. Holland was promoted to sergeant and ordered to tour North Africa with his troupe, eventually taking the show to some 50,000 soldiers.

During the war he also met and married his first wife, Gusta Harman, a volunteer in the South African army.

After Mr. Holland's wartime glory, the postwar years were a disappointment. He worked for a time as assistant principal of the newly formed Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, but felt unfulfilled. In 1957 he, Gusta and their two children pulled up stakes and headed for British Columbia, where members of his mother's family had settled. In Vancouver, he drove a taxi and did odd jobs until he was hired as a librarian at the progressive Haney Correctional Institute in Maple Ridge, B.C., where his theatrical gifts again came into play. He organized the institute's young offenders into a crack troupe that won top prize in the provincial one-act drama festival in 1961.

A bigger challenge came when he was asked to start a theatre program, the future Studio 58, at Vancouver Community College.

At the time, the city didn't have a school that focused on training professional actors and, according to Mr. Millerd, most students with theatrical aspirations went elsewhere: "The advent of Studio 58 was a real boon to keeping young people in the Vancouver area who were interested in pursuing an acting career."

The program moved to Langara College in 1970 and expanded into a theatre arts department, dubbed Studio 58 after the room number of its performance space.

Mr. Holland brought to it his extensive knowledge of Shakespeare and the classics, as well as his experience in every facet of theatre. "All his actors had to work backstage before they could work onstage," recalled Ms. Shaw, his successor. "Studio 58 grads became known for being wellrounded theatre people, the ones who started companies."

Mr. Holland retired from Studio 58 in 1985, but refused to slow down. Divorced and remarried, he moved to Gabriola with his second wife, Catherine Cains, in 1990 and started the Gabriola Theatre Centre. He also continued to act on the mainland, in film and television (his many screen credits range from the Robert Altman classic McCabe & Mrs. Miller to Battlestar Galactica) as well as theatre.

In his 80s, he took on a pair of major Shakespearean roles for Studio 58. He played the lead in King Lear in 2002 ("He was amazing - the best Lear I've ever seen," Ms. Shaw said) and Shylock in The Merchant of Venice in 2008.

"His memory [of Shakespearean text] was phenomenal," Ms. Shaw said, "although he couldn't always remember the names of his students."

But it was Tuesdays with Morrie, a dramatization of Mitch Albom's bestselling memoir about the wisdom of a dying sociology professor, that became Mr. Holland's biggest late-life triumph. Mr. Millerd directed him in the 2006 Arts Club production, which won Mr.

Holland one of his three Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards and later went on tour. "I think he connected with the sentiments in the piece, what Morrie says about facing death," Mr. Millerd said. "I think he realized at his age that it was something that he understood."

Along with his three Jessies (two for acting, one for lifetime achievement), Mr. Holland's honours included the Union of B.C.

Performers' Sam Payne Award for humanity, artistic integrity and encouragement of new talent, as well as induction in the B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame.

There is a Langara College scholarship in his name and in 2014 he was made a Member of the Order of Canada.

Mr. Holland's personal life was rocky - he and Ms. Cains divorced, and he was separated from his third wife, Leslie Parrott, at the time of his death - but his daughter, Rosheen Holland, forgives him for often prioritizing the theatre over his personal relationships. "He was a great man," she said, "and great men are often obsessive. We accepted that."

And if the family's circumstances were sometimes financially perilous, he always put bread - his own freshly baked loaves - on the table. In recent years, Ms. Holland said, he switched to making scones and taking them to Gabriola's farmers' market. "But he used them to meet people and get them interested in his latest projects," she added. "It wasn't really about the scones, it was about the theatre."

Mr. Holland leaves Ms. Parrott, his daughter, Rosheen, and son, Calen Sinclaire (formerly Nelson Holland); and three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Ms. Holland said her father's great gift was communicating his belief in the power of theatre to younger generations: "He showed how it can teach us and how it can be a progressive force in society." And while his drive to act and create right to the end may have been obsessive, Ms. Shaw finds it admirable. "Where a lot of people his age have given up," she said, "he was still giving."

To submit an I Remember: Send us a memory of someone we have recently profiled on the Obituaries page. Please include I Remember in the subject field.

Associated Graphic

Antony Holland as King Lear, in the 2002 production of the play by Vancouver's Studio 58.


Warren Kimmel, left, as Mitch and Mr. Holland as Morrie in the Arts Club Theatre Company's 2006 production of Tuesdays with Morrie.


Flex time
Like CrossFit, competitive bodybuilding can be an all-consuming exercise. Erin Silver goes inside the extreme world of strict diets, 4 a.m. workouts and custom two-pieces
Special to The Globe and Mail
Monday, August 24, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L1

HAMILTON -- Alexandra Howard sits in the basement of a Hamilton convention centre eating whitefish out of a Ziploc bag. The makeshift dressing room is packed with dozens of tanned and taut women touching up makeup or pumping resistance bands.

Soon Howard, a 29-year-old from Burlington, Ont., will step on stage in five-inch heels and a custom purple bikini, flexing for a panel of judges at the GNC Live Well Henderson Thorne Natural Classic. The competition, her first, comes after months of juggling intense training along with parenting her three-year-old son and a stressful career as a research co-ordinator at a clinical-trials site.

"I always wanted to compete, but I was fixated on the realistic barriers that made it impossible," says Howard, taking the last bite of her precompetition meal.

"Then I decided I wanted to be more of a 'yes' person."

Considered the least bulky of the three women's bodybuilding categories, the bikini class emphasizes muscle tone and symmetry, but also some level of softness. And as women's competitive bodybuilding expands its reach across the country, organizers say the bikini category is seeing the biggest spike in participation. It's the most natural place for rookies to be initiated into the sport.

"We've seen an increase of 20 to 30 per cent participation year over year in the bikini category," says Ron Hache, president of the Ontario Physique Association, the governing body in the province. He says the growth has led the OPA to add new height and age classes, including a grandmaster category for women 45 and older. Georgina Dunnington, chairperson of the Canadian Bodybuilding Federation, says she's seen similar growth across the country.

Eighty per cent of the 500 athletes competing at last year's nationals were women, she says, including 160 in the bikini division.

Organizers say the trend is being driven by women over 30, many of them finding their way into the sport through friends at the gym. With the same intensity of people hooked on marathon running or CrossFit, accolytes say what starts as a curiosity can become an all-consuming task, with early-morning workouts and militant nutrition regimes wedged into their roles as moms, business owners and partners.

"I get up at 4 a.m. to train, then I go home and wake my daughter for school," says Lori Cook, 37, a single mother who also competed in the bikini category in Hamilton on July 11.

"After work I'll hit the gym again. It's been a real grind."

Cook gives her daughter, Olivia, a hug while she waits to be judged. "I think my mom is awesome," the 11-year-old says.

The sport has also ditched the shoulder wiggles and flirtatious gimmicks that kept it from being taken seriously when it was first introduced in 2009.

While it may seem odd considering the skimpy attire, the women who compete say what keeps them in it is the challenge - as well as empowerment born from new-found strength.

"The sport is attracting more serious athletes now," says Pamela Knight, 43, a Pilates studio owner who entered the sport last year. "The OPA recently removed certain poses so it's not an oversexualized flirt show.

Judges want to see a strong body without the extras. The sport has really evolved."

Serious competitors hire a coach a minimum of six months before competition and hit the gym for 90 minutes five or six days a week. They focus on their quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, back, chest, deltoids and abs depending on the day, followed by cardio. As the time before competition narrows from months to weeks, athletes add posing classes, where they learn to move in heels to a routine that best highlights their muscle tone and symmetry and showcases their stage presence and positive attitude.

Top athletes can compete for a living through magazine contracts and sponsorships, but most competitors pay their costs out of pocket. Trainers cost a minimum of $1,000 for a few months. There are also membership dues ($100 to join the OPA) and registration fees ($125 to enter each category in a contest), as well as the cost of being fitted for a custom bikini, which could range from $300 to $1,000 for one made with Swarovski crystals.

Coaches put their athletes on a carefully monitored energyboosting, "clean-eating" food plan based on their body-fat percentage, existing conditioning and lifestyle.

"Preparing and measuring meals takes hours every week," says Howard, whose friend inspired her to compete. She holds up her bag of fish. "The portions are small, everything is weighed, we cook with little salt or sauce." Her post-competition agenda includes gorging on burgers, fries, waffles and homemade peanut-butter cheesecake.

Silvia Yoo and Antwane Hamlett, owners of Fitlife Athletics in Toronto, say there are many reasons athletes decide to commit to this lifestyle.

"Some people just want a challenge - competing is something to cross off their bucket list," says Yoo. Social media is also a big influence. "You see others posting photos of their prep and competition day online and you want to make it a challenge for yourself, too."

For Knight, who placed third in the bikini masters contest in Hamilton, it was personal. "I've been struggling with self-esteem for a long time. The training, the nutrition, the posing, the consistency and the discipline keep me feeling strong and solid emotionally, physically and mentally," she said. "My selfworth has really improved; it takes a lot of confidence to get judged on stage in a bikini."

She's also here to show her 10year-old son that gender roles don't have to be rigid. "What is a woman? What does a woman look like? I want to change what people think a woman should be and show them that we can be strong, athletic and sexy."

For all the glitz and glory, there can be a dark side to competitive bodybuilding. Steroid use, extreme dieting and excessive exercising can put competitors at risk for serious health complications, including heart attacks. There are two categories in the OPA, natural and open, and the natural is the only one that tests for banned substances. Women who lack proper guidance and coaching can experience other health issues.

"Their hormones could be thrown off balance," says Yoo.

"Women can end up without a period for many years. Their metabolism can slow down and they can experience excessive weight gain postshow. It can also be hard psychologically to return to a body that is higher in body fat during the off season."

But competitors say they're out to prove that a fit physique is fabulous. "Who wants to be skinny and frail and starve themselves?" says two-time grandmaster figure competitor Mary Dinner, 52. A grandmother of six, the Brantford, Ont.-based personal trainer started competing two years ago. "I want to look feminine and muscular, fit and athletic at the same time. I want to inspire others. My family thinks grandma rocks."


Ever wonder what it takes to make it through a bodybuilding competition? Here is how one of the top competitors, Amy Koop, a 30-year-old fitness instructor from Toronto, spent her day at the GNC Live Well Henderson Thorne Natural Classic in Hamilton last month.

I woke up at 6:15 a.m. and ate a small breakfast: one rice cake with peanut butter and steak.

Tanning appointment at 6:50 a.m.

Returned to my room, had my hair and makeup done and put on my suit.

Practised posing in my room with my coaches and took some pictures.

Headed to venue, got there for 9:50 a.m. and went backstage to start pumping up before hitting the stage.

I used resistance bands to pump up my muscles, practised and held my poses, got a pep talk from my coaches.

They fed me snacks to swell up my muscles (chocolate, jam, peanut butter).

I hit the stage and once prejudging was over I went to a restaurant with my coaches and husband. I ate a large lunch ... veggies, baked potato and a steak.

Back to the hotel for a twohour nap.

After my nap, I woke up and retouched my makeup and hair and practised my routine for the evening show.

Back to the venue for the night show around 6 p.m.

Again, pumped up a bit backstage and got a quick retouch of my tan. I ate a few snacks again to swell up my muscles.

Then I went back on stage to perform my routine and get my trophy. It was a proud moment. [Koop won third place in the women's physique category, a division that requires more muscle and definition than the bikini category.]

Backstage there were trays of treats for the athletes. I took a cheesecake! I met my family and supporters outside during intermission and took a bunch of photos.

After the show, I went out to eat with my hubby and I was given instructions by my coaches to eat whatever I wanted. I indulged in nachos and dip, a big salad, one glass of wine and a cookie stuffed with a brownie. It was decadent.

Associated Graphic

Coach Silvia Yoo helps clients such as Amy Koop commit to the bodybuilding lifestyle.


Amy Koop, 30, competes in the physique open category at the GNC Live Well Henderson Thorne Natural Classic.


Lori Cook, 37, suddenly grows five inches taller after putting on her heels, towering over her 11-year-old daughter, Olivia, who visits her mom backstage at the Hamilton event.

Bodybuilding grandmother Mary Dinner, 52, pumps up her muscles backstage before the start of the master figure competition.

Masters of the house
As Lakeshore Collegiate's Les Misérables opens, ticket sales, and the state of criticism, are causes for concern. But as J. Kelly Nestruck discovers, the exhausting, exhilarating and seemingly impossible journey was well worth taking
Saturday, August 15, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R3

This is the seventh instalment of High School Drama, the Globe Arts summer series about Lakeshore Collegiate Institute's production of Les Misérables. To read the first six entries and meet the cast, visit

Greg Danakas has arrived at Lakeshore Collegiate Institute for the opening night of Les Misérables with his bushy mustache surrounded by five o'clock shadow.

Long story short: On the way in from his home in Brampton that morning, the Greek-Canadian drama teacher was stopped by police for speeding and got dinged for not having his recently renewed insurance slip with him.

(A $90 ticket.)

Frazzled by that encounter, Mr. D then lost his only car key later in the day somewhere in Etobicoke - and now he can't get into the glove compartment where his shaving kit is.("It'll be $365 to get a new key.)

Bad luck backstage can lead to good luck on stage, however - and it's not police tickets that are on Mr. Danakas's mind as his students put on costumes and makeup around him, but theatre tickets.

"I'm stressed, but it's a good stressed," he tells me. "All we want is an audience - and that's so hard to come by."


This is where I usually come in as a theatre critic - as part of the audience, the last ingredient necessary for any live production.

But how do you come by one?

In the case of this non-musical production of Les Mis, each cast member was tasked with selling 10 tickets("$12 for adults; $7 for students) to family and friends - which doesn't make the composition of this high school opening that different from many professional ones I attend.

Olivia Costes, who is a nun called Sister Simplicity in Les Misérables, tells me that her parents, her sister and her grandparents are here tonight. The Grade 12 student is not nervous to see them in the auditorium, however - as she's not wearing her glasses on stage: "I can't see the audience."("Olivia's family has many more years of spectatorship ahead of them - she's been accepted into Humber College's theatre production program.)

Bradley Plesa, the graduating student playing Jean Valjean("whose younger sister Samantha is also in the show), has his two parents in the audience for opening as well. He explains to me that this is the only night his father, Alexander, can come because of his chemotherapy schedule.

I hadn't realized Bradley's father had become sick during rehearsals - but he doesn't want to say any more at the moment.

"If you cry before a show, it's hard to cry during a show," he says.


Even with a built-in audience, attendance at Lakeshore Collegiate Institute's mainstage productions has been on the decline. A decade ago, Mr. Danakas's racy production of Dracula sold out the 600seat auditorium every night - but Les Mis has sold just 137 tickets on opening.

To a certain extent, this is natural: the school population has shrunk during that time. But Allan Easton, Lakeshore's principal, wonders if larger changes in society are at work.

"Certainly in the last 10 years, there's been a huge shift in attention span - and theatre can be a lot slower," Mr. Easton told me in an interview earlier in the semester. "It's not bad or good, but it's different than what young people are used to - with the instant gratification of cellphones and video games. Does that affect how many kids come to the show?" It's not just the younger generation, though. Mr Easton used to go to the theatre with his wife before they had kids, but now he's been to a play "maybe once in the last five years." "It's not cheap any more," he says. "If you had some disposable income, are you likely to come see a high school theatre production?" I've given Mr. Easton a thankless role in this series - the voice of bureaucracy, of budgets, the guy who walks into an opening-night dressing room and wishes the actors "good luck" instead of "break a leg."

But he's a smart and caring administrator and his questions stick with me whenever I'm away from the rough magic of Mr.

Danakas's drama studio. When("on a bad day) you can spend $455 just driving from the suburbs into Toronto, why not stay home with endless entertainment streaming online for less than the cost of an adult ticket to a high school play?


Before the Les Mis cast heads off to the green room and I head to my seat, Mr. Danakas reminds us all: "Listen: There's people in the audience that want a great show."

But what do audiences want?

And what makes a show great?

These are the questions that I should know how to answer as a critic, but the longer I review, the less certain I am the two even align. Certain plays that I think are great struggle to fill even 137 seats. Critics, like all of mainstream media to a certain extent, have less impact than ever - and some theatre companies even seem to hope social media will replace us entirely.

Even at Les Misérables though, it's clear different audience members want different things.

There's Caroline Buchanan, for instance, described to me as the ultimate drama mom. Not only is her daughter, Samantha Dodds, playing Madame Thénardier, but her partner, Jim Ellis - a 60-yearold management consultant and part-time voice-over artist - has been conscripted to play the role of Victor Hugo.

Ms. Buchanan was one of the first in line to make sure she got good seats - and was primed for a moving experience. "I don't know why, but it's very emotional for me," she says. "There's so much lead-up - and you see what they all go through. And now it's here."

Sara and Alexander Plesa, Bradley and Samantha's parents, are more skeptical about theatre in general. "I'll be completely honest, where I'm not the 'drama mom' is that school comes first, grades come first and this comes last," says Ms. Plesa, who works in a civilian role for the Toronto Police and affectionately calls her kids "drama brats." "I'll fight with Bradley to the end of time on that - and Mr. Danakas."

But the Plesas have had a number of personal setbacks over the past year, with Mr. Plesa's cancer diagnosis, cruelly, coming just as he was on the verge of being hired by the police. Their children's performances tonight have surprised them - particularly boisterous Bradley's deeply centred Jean Valjean.

"You wouldn't know that their life has been the way it has been [lately] by watching that," Ms. Plesa says. "It's almost flooring to me: Is that my son?" .


Mr. Easton's preshow "good luck" didn't jinx Les Misérables.

Mr. Danakas's production begins in the dark with the sound of monks chanting - a track off an album called Tibetan Mantras for Turbulent Times. Then, the lights come up halfway and an adult actor - this is Jim Ellis - circulates through the students standing like statues.

"My name is Victor Hugo - I am a writer," he says, in a voice that reminds me of Troy McClure from The Simpsons.

But as Hugo's creations come to life, I find myself looking past Mr. Danakas's refreshing dystopian flourishes and the occasional clunkiness of Tim Kelly's adaptation - and I simply watch these young men and women with whom I had spent so much time.

I'm disarmed as a critic.

When I see Stefan Bechler in clown makeup as Monsieur Thénardier, I am proud of how far he has come since his stage fright two months ago. And when I see Olivia, I love the way the soft-spoken young woman speaks with confidence on stage. The beautiful lights illuminating the barricades like a painting make me think of the amazingly professional 15-year-old operating them, Elliot Robson.

As for Bradley's performance as Valjean, it is as moving as anything I've seen on a stage, because it was the climax of a longer journey I've been watching.

Here's what Mr. D wrote on Bradley's opening-night card: "You will go down as one of my great all-stars. In my opinion this has been your best performance because it is from your inner soul.

No big acting - your heart and soul is exposed. Thank you for going there."

As Les Mis ends and the actors come out for their individual bows, tears fill my eyes - and then I burst into laughter upon discovering that Mr. Danakas has given himself the final bow.

There's no doubt in my mind that this is worth the $12 I paid.

And unlike most plays I review, I did pay.

It was here that I thought my story of Lakeshore drama would end - my joy of theatre rediscovered, this series tied up in a neat bow. But I have lingering doubts about my role as I stand there satisfied as an audience member, but completely moot as a critic.

Next week: The cast party - and my final report.

Follow me on Twitter: @nestruck

Associated Graphic

Nick Latincic stands on top of the barricade during the opening night performance of Les Misérables.


Bradley Plesa, left, and Stefan Bechler perform on closing night at Lakeshore Collegiate Institute in Toronto.

A note written in the script backstage.

Killing of bloggers stirs panic
Wife details husband's slaying, her life in fear
Monday, August 24, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A1

DHAKA -- The day he was hacked to death with a butcher's blade, Niloy Chatterjee slept in. Muslims in Bangladesh were preparing for Friday morning prayers but Mr. Chatterjee, an outspoken atheist, had no such demands on his time. He rose at 11 a.m. and walked to a nearby vegetable market while his wife of two years, Asa Moni, scrubbed pots at home.

He returned with potatoes and salt, sweaty from the humidity that drenches Dhaka in the final weeks of the rainy season. He showered, then sat down on his bed with his laptop.

Moments later, he was dead.

A mild-mannered philosopher, his apartment was crowded with hundreds of books, including the Koran, the Bible and treatises on theology. Home was his library and his pulpit, where he could think, write and dissect what he saw as the frailties of religion.

"He wanted people to break free of their religious rigidity," Ms. Asa Moni, 27, told The Globe and Mail in her first interview after the killing, which she witnessed.

"There is so much unrest and war in the name of religion, and that's making the world not a peaceful place."

But the critiques Mr. Chatterjee, 40, published online stirred fury among some Muslims, and his death in early August marked the fourth killing of an atheist blogger this year in a country facing a new threat from a wave of vicious extremism.

Local security forces have now arrested five people they say were behind the attacks.

Among them is a British citizen taken into custody last week who, according to authorities, was the lead planner of two deaths. Each of the dead bloggers was hacked to death in a similarly brutal manner.

In Bangladesh, however, the arrests did little to calm fears about the fragility of a national consensus that has, since independence in 1971, maintained a secular government over a population that is 90 per cent Muslim - more than Syria and on par with Egypt. Some see the country at a crossroads.

"There are only two ways to go here. We can find a way to live in a pluralist society," said Parvez Alam, 30, a writer and blogger whose name is on a hit list disseminated by an Islamist extremist group.

The alternative is grim, a "situation that will be worse than what's in Syria or Iraq. We are a highly populated country, and any form of internal violence will cost a lot of lives," Mr. Alam said.

Mr. Chatterjee and Ms. Asa Moni met at a local science and logic club devoted to celebrating rationalist thought and they grew close over a common disenchantment with religion. As a teen, Ms. Asa Moni rebelled against a conservative Muslim upbringing, leaving behind a remote rural home that, because she was a girl, had kept her indoors "like in a cage" as her brothers played outside. In her village, girls married as young as 12.

But she left, moving to Dakha to join a rising class of areligious youth who dreamed of making Bangladesh more like themselves.

They attended Darwin Days, opened libraries with books on Western thinking, studied their own pioneers of liberal thought - a homegrown Bengali tradition that dates back more than a century - and, in early 2013, gathered with tens of thousands of others on Dhaka streets in the Shahbag movement that agitated for change and the execution of war criminals, many of them conservative Muslims.

"It was a different kind of spirit for the country," Ms. Asa Moni said.

Now, that spirit has been replaced by a panic that has young intellectuals abandoning public events, installing security gates on their homes and questioning their own futures, and that of their country.

Independence was hard-won in Bangladesh, which before 1971 was called East Pakistan and ruled by Karachi. Self-determination came only after fighting in which hundreds of thousands were killed - and the decades that followed have seen women stoned, schools burned down and dozens killed by gasoline bombs.

Radical clerics have called for the establishment of an Islamic state in Bangladesh with sharia law.

"It's come in waves," said Khushi Kabir, a prominent human-rights activist in Dhaka.

"This time it's the bloggers."

Their killings nonetheless mark a particularly vicious turn, sparking worry that an international extremist movement - and training - is grabbing hold in Bangladesh.

"It's basically the same agenda that is happening globally, a certain group of people are trying to push an agenda of what their version of Islam is," Ms. Kabir said.

Anxiety is particularly acute among the young intellectuals whose online writing has attracted the ire of religious extremists.

Some bloggers have been provocative, mocking Islam and challenging its adherents to question their faith. Mr. Chatterjee questioned why a powerful Allah could not build his own mosques, so Muslims could give their money to starving children. Avijit Roy, the first blogger slashed to death this year, called religion a virus whose biological origins he equated to rape and murder.

Such writings were controversial even among fellow atheists.

"They were a bit irresponsible," Mr. Alam said. "You cannot change a society that doesn't trust you, that hates you, that wants to kill you."

Mr. Alam has sought to bridge religious differences to enable dialogue. He desires a country "where people are more tolerant about each other's views."

Still, the blogger deaths have scared him. He recently installed a welded metal gate at the foot of his stairs and two dogs now stand guard outside his room.

"After Niloy was killed in his home, I got a bit paranoid," he says.

He and others are regularly threatened on Facebook and in text messages. But they have continued to write. Put down pens and "the whole country would fall into the hands of the fanatics and extremists," said Shammi Haque, 19, another blogger in hiding for months.

The killings have underscored the price of speaking out even for those long accustomed to violence. Ajoy Roy, 79, is a secular activist who fought for independence during the country's liberation war; more recently, he translated part of Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion into Bengali. He is the recipient of Bangladesh's highest civilian award and the founder of the Mukto-Mona blog, which his son, Avijit, edited, before he was killed in February.

The night of his son's attack, Mr. Roy watched surgeons vainly struggle to repair the horrifying knife wounds. Months later, he is physically weakened by the loss.

"His death has shattered me in many ways," the elder Mr. Roy said. "He could have given the country much more."

Mr. Roy knows the countercurrents buffeting his country. He sees the madrasas - religious schools - spreading conservative Islam in poor rural villages and the burkas that are becoming more visible on the streets. He has also seen the Bangladeshi supreme court recently deregister Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami - barring it from contesting future elections - while a younger generation discovers a political voice to agitate against extremism.

He believes the latter will prevail. The death of his son and others is "a setback," he said. "But I still believe that killing a few bloggers in this way is not going to stop the progress of the country."

Others worry worse days may yet lie ahead.

"There will be a dawn, that's what I'd like to believe," said Ms. Kabir, the human-rights activist.

"But how long will the darkness last? And how dark will it become?" For Ms. Asa Moni, hope is far from mind. For three nights after Mr. Chatterjee died, she screamed into the darkness, plagued by images of the attack.

The knock on the door came as her husband tapped at his computer. She opened the door to a strange man who said the landlord had sent him to look at the apartment.

The man was perhaps 20 years old, thin and dressed in a black T-shirt and blue jeans. He walked around twice, then stood in front of the kitchen and began mashing buttons on his mobile phone.

Moments later, three people barged into the apartment, brandishing a gleaming chapati, a rectangular cleaver made to splinter bone. They said nothing, instead moving straight toward Mr. Chatterjee, who had come to the bedroom door.

With their first swing, they severed parts of one hand. Chunks of his fingers fell to the floor.

"Who are you guys?" was all Mr. Chatterjee could manage before an attacker brandishing a pistol pushed Ms. Asa Moni onto the apartment's veranda. "Save us! Save us!" she screamed.

But the attack was viciously efficient. The men left within minutes, Mr. Chatterjee's head almost completely severed from his body.

In the days since, Ms. Asa Moni has only found sleep after a psychiatrist prescribed a heavy dose of pills. Rest has not brought peace. Local Muslim media have circulated a video of her drinking alcohol and attacked her as an apostate. Her own family has "started to hate me for all of this."

She fears for her own life.

"My best friend, my husband is gone. How can I survive in a conservative society like this where I am not safe because I am a woman?" she says. "I want to leave. I don't want to die here."

Associated Graphic

Asa Moni watched as attackers knifed her husband, an atheist Bangladeshi blogger, to death, and now fears for her own life: 'How can I survive in a conservative society like this where I am not safe because I am a woman?'


Blogger Parvez Alam's name is on an Islamist extremist group's hit list. He recently installed a welded metal gate at the foot of his stairs.

Roughing it in the rain forest
Stanley Park is a haven for scores of homeless people. Many of them are just passing through. But for a hardy few, the giant cedars and picnic areas are a welcome roof over their heads, Ian Bailey reports
Saturday, August 22, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S1

It's polite to call ahead before dropping in on someone's home, but that courtesy isn't really possible with the makeshift residence deep inside Stanley Park.

So, park ranger Chad Cowles calls out, asking if "Chris" is up for a chat with a Globe and Mail reporter and photographer on a tour to see the reality of homeless people living in the 400 hectares of rain forest that make up one of North America's largest urban parks.

Chris has been here for at least 20 years. He's a "one of a kind" resident, says Mr. Cowles, in an area of the park where the forest is so dense and fragrant that it seems to have a confining weight.

To an observer awaiting his possible hospitality, Chris's home is a hole around the roots of a massive fallen cedar but, as Mr. Cowles observes, the 60-ish resident has also "MacGyvered" lean-to shelters for sleeping and eating.

Out of earshot, Mr. Cowles speaks, responds to Chris, and then abandons the effort, navigating around bicycle tires, tarps and garbage bags as he approaches, shaking his head.

Along the path, there's a thick branch leaning against a tree that has an eagle's head carved at the top. "He just went down for bed," Mr. Cowles explains. "He was not happy to be awoken. He's a little upset."

Mr. Cowles says there is no rush to remove Chris, who lives quietly, does wildlife experiments and goes into downtown Vancouver for meals. There's no sign of needles, weapons or fires - the three things that would prompt enforcement, possibly a call to police. "He's been grandfathered. Until we have a need to find an alternative living situation, it's tolerable for us."

The realities of managing this urban Vancouver legend reflects an oddly lenient stand the Vancouver Parks Board has taken with park residents, some opportunistic, intermittent travellers, and other more dedicated residents, who spend a lot of time in the park, which was once home to First Nations communities.

Mr. Cowles estimates there are up to 30 to 40 people in the park in the summer, but the number drops to a dozen year-round. In March, Vancouver did its ninth annual homeless count, tallying up the number of homeless in the city, but the results aren't broken down by geographical area so there's no measure for the park.

The parks board's approach to the people living in Stanley Park seems in contrast with last year's move by the city and police to clear protesters living in Oppenheimer Park. However, officials say the realities are more complicated in such a massive, urban green space.

"Chasing people from park to park is not the answer," says Mr. Cowles, superintendent of citywide services in charge of the Vancouver park rangers. "At times, there are people who are not interested in shelters or housing. We just actively try to manage their situation so they don't actively impact park users during the day."

The board's approach has led to protocols that were evident at a recent 7:30 a.m. encounter, as Mr. Cowles approached six sleeping people in a covered picnic area. He arrives with four cups of Tim Hortons coffee. He's equipped with a Homeless Amenities Referral list of options for free showers, free food, "inexpensive" meals and food, and food bank distribution centres.

While Chris lived so deep in Stanley Park that it was possible to believe one was far from anything urban, the group gently roused by Mr. Cowles had slept within sight of apartment towers in the city's West End.

And they are far more chatty.

"Is there somewhere close where we can, like, do laundry?" says a woman's voice from a sleeping bag on the floor.

That question comes from 19year-old Emily from Kelowna.

She declined to give her last name, as did her partner, Jade, 26, from Lloydminster, Sask.

The pair have been rambling around Canada and ended up in Stanley Park. They had been in the camp for three days after a two-week visit months ago.

Skunks have bothered them, but people don't, says Jade, thanks to their "pit-boxer collie," Carlito. "He's a nice dog, but people tend to leave us alone because he looks nasty."

They obtain food by begging at restaurants near closing hours when operators are eager to get rid of items, but have thought of harvesting berries.

In his acclaimed 2001 novel Stanley Park, author Timothy Taylor writes about homeless characters feasting on geese caught and cooked in the park.

In an interview, Mr. Taylor said he had heard the story of a pair of foreign sailors who had taken such an culinary opportunity.

"There's a lot of imaginative work in that novel based on small suggestions of things I saw," he said.

Mr. Cowles says there's no realworld evidence to suggest the homeless are consuming park wildlife. If they were, he says, he expects his team would have found carcasses, possibly animals wounded while being hunted. None has turned up.

Emily and Jade prefer the park to shelters, which would not allow Carlito, their two cats or pet rat. Nor could they be together. "He'd be with hundreds of men. I'd be with 50-plus women. It would just be a really shitty sleep for the both of us," she says.

Jade likes being in the park. "If you get a good spot, you can feel a little wild - just the surroundings. It makes you feel down to being natural man. It's heaven. It really is. As humans, we're prepared for this. We just choose the luxury of having a home and planting roots."

Felipe Basoalto, 38, became a Stanley Park resident after losing his job at a marijuana farm, and is now busking to make money to go home to Ontario. He's with his 21-year-old girlfriend Kamara Llewellyn from Prince George.

Sixteen years ago, he ended up with a "horrible, itchy" case of scabies after staying in a shelter - an experience that turned him off that option. "People that are in shelters are usually kind of, like, you know, not doing so hot.

Whereas people camping are usually okay with nature.

They're not hurting so bad. You can enjoy it."

For a while, Mr. Basoalto tried Wreck Beach, which is located on the western outskirts of the city at the bottom of a bluff below the University of British Columbia, but it "has gotten a little weird." He says the RCMP, which police the university, have a more offputting presence than the local Vancouver police in Stanley Park.

He says the Stanley Park rangers have been "really, really nice" by leaving bathrooms open and occasionally providing an extension cord to help with recharging items.

There are outlets for charging smartphones. Busking is going well with nights where he's made up to $300. And nights in the park are fun, he says, especially when clusters of musicians get together.

But the harder edge of life in the park left Michel Curadead, 61, in hospital.

Two months ago, the Labrador native had finished dinner and was cleaning his pot at a park washroom. "I put my stuff away.

A guy tap my shoulder. I turn around. He punch me. I never saw his face."

Mr. Curadead's nose was broken and he spent three days in hospital. His injuries cost him his season as a fruit picker.

Sgt. Randy Fincham of the Vancouver police said reported assaults on homeless people in Stanley Park are rare, and police continue to have a presence in the park with their mounted unit and officers using bicycles and patrol cars.

Still, Mr. Curadead remains in the park, his intermittent home for more years than he can remember, maybe a decade.

In conversation, it's clear it will always be an option for him. "I am sleeping good," he says.


Long before it was a city park, Stanley Park on the northwestern end of downtown Vancouver was home to First Nations in the region.

The Burrard, Musqueam and Squamish First Nations all lived in the densely forested area, which went through change as Europeans settled in the region.

Stanley Park was logged. Later it, was a military reserve.

And in 1888, two years after the City of Vancouver was incorporated, the area was officially opened as a park - a role that now draws millions of visitors, both local and tourists.

There are 240 parks in Vancouver, but 400-hectare Stanley Park is the most prominent.

The park was named for Frederick Stanley - Canada's sixth governor general, who dedicated the park during a visit to the city the year after its opening. He is also the namesake of the Stanley Cup.

At root, the allure of Stanley Park is obviously its age-old forests, its beaches, and the Lost Lagoon freshwater lake.

But man-made attractions include the nine-kilometre seawall walkway, 27 kilometres of trails, the Vancouver Aquarium, horse-drawn tours, the Malkin Bowl, five restaurants and various memorials and statues marking various aspects of B.C. history.

Associated Graphic

Michel Curadead, 61, reckons he has been a denizen of Stanley Park for perhaps a decade. 'I am sleeping good,' he says.


Park ranger Chad Cowles, on his verdant beat, sometimes brings coffees for people who call Stanley Park home.


Some residents say they prefer the park to homeless shelters because of hygiene issues with the latter. Park authorities have had no major complaints about the homeless people.

This is truck country
NHL legend Brian Sutter bought a red Ford half-ton with his first signing bonus in 1976. But he was embarrassed to drive it around the family farm: 'It was all fancy. Mom and dad never got new trucks.' So what does he think about the aluminum F-150? 'It's a city boy's truck. But it drives great'
Thursday, August 20, 2015 – Print Edition, Page D1

SYLVAN LAKE, ALTA. -- Until arriving at Brian Sutter's ranch, I'd never heard of a Lewis Cattle Oiler. As it turns out, the oiler is a handy machine - it makes a Black Angus bull shine like a freshly waxed limousine, and simultaneously applies a coating of insecticide to keep flies away.

This is one of many things learned from Sutter, a pro hockey legend, part of a family dynasty that saw six brothers from an Alberta farm make the NHL. A seventh brother, reputedly the best player of them all, stayed home to run the family farm.

Heading across the Alberta plains in a pickup truck, it's easy to see why Sutter and his brothers managed to collect six Stanley Cups. Sutter is gritty and humble, and his handshake is like a hydraulic vice - that's what comes from a lifetime slinging hay bales and competing with the best hockey players in the world.

"I always worked for it," says Sutter, who played his entire career for the St. Louis Blues. "I was a grinder. But I could score, too." He points to his nose, which is bent in several places. "And I had my share of fights."

Sutter is also a dyed-in-the-wool truck guy.

He grew up on a ranch where the family car was a pickup truck, and he still uses a truck every day. And I'm here with a brand-new Ford F-150 as part of an odyssey through the Rockies and across the Alberta plains.

Sutter has left his battered Dodge diesel back at the house so he can test-drive the new F-150. This is a state-of-the art truck, with an aluminum body, four-wheel drive, and a leather interior that would do justice to a Bentley.

"It's pretty fancy," says Sutter as we roll through a barbed wire gate into a pasture that stretches as far as the eye can see. "It's a city boy's truck. But it drives great. It's smooth. I wouldn't kick it out of my driveway."

Once a humble work tool, the pickup is now a marketplace phenomenon - the F-150 is the best-selling vehicle in North America. Few buyers actually use their pickup trucks to haul things. Instead, it has morphed into an image-building lifestyle accessory and super-sized family car.

Even in downtown Toronto, the pickup truck is ubiquitous. In Calgary, the truck takeover is even more complete. In the 1960s, pickups in Alberta were generally confined to farms and the oil industry. Not now: polished F-150s and hulking Silverados are everywhere in Calgary, lined up like horses outside a Dodge City saloon back in the days of Wyatt Earp.

By the looks of it, the pickup truck is Alberta's Toyota Corolla.

At a Calgary restaurant, there are 11 F-150s, three Silverados and a Dodge Ram Hemi parked out front. Five of the F-150s are blinged out with custom wheels and chrome grills, and several have baby seats. At Bow River park, the lot is jammed with fullsized pickups, most loaded with dogs, kids and inflatable kayaks.

Alberta feels like the right place for a truck. Leaving Calgary, the city stops with light-switch suddenness, and you find yourself in a massive, wide-open landscape: the sky hangs over the prairie like the ceiling of a giant blue cathedral, and the jagged grey line of the Rockies crenellates the western horizon.

This is a truck-guy dream. Earlier in the week, I drove the new F-150 through Kananaskis country, a stunning trip deep into the mountains on gravel roads that wound past bear-filled forests, rock walls that reached thousands of meters into the blue sky, and shining, glacier-fed lakes. A kilometre-long contrail of dust hung behind the pickup over the empty road. I was on my own, lost to the world of cell phones and roadside help.

I switched the F-150 into allwheel-drive mode and pressed on, rolling into Canmore a few hours later. The F-150's wheels were so coated with gravel dust that it looked like the truck was rolling on four sugar doughnuts.

On the way back to Calgary, I stopped by the highway to see a field of horses. The sun was falling, and the horses ran along the fence line, silhouetted against a sky drawn straight from a Western movie. The F-150 was the perfect ride for this trip.

Or was it? I was by myself, and my luggage was limited to a single suitcase and a camera bag.

Did I really need a giant vehicle?

On the way to the Sutter ranch, I passed the turnoff for Drumheller, a famous paleontological site.

And I wondered: what will scientists of the future think if they excavate our civilization? Will they wonder if three-quarters of North America's work-ready pickup trucks were used as image enhancement devices? Will the Ford F-150 and the Ram diesel take their place next to the stegosaurus and the brontosaurus?

Defending the pickup truck in age of declining resources ventures into the realm of vehicular and moral relativism. It makes no sense to drive a huge, gas-guzzling machine to the daycare and grocery store. But on Sutter's ranch, trucks aren't for display purposes. Sutter has three, and they're flat-out work tools, dented, scarred and lashed together with bailing wire. One is a 21year-old Dodge. The newest is a 2007 Ram diesel with dual back tires.

These aren't the kind of machines used to pose outside a Toronto nightclub or assuage doubts about your sexuality.

They haul chainsaws, spools of barbed wire and hay bales - or parts for a Lewis Cattle Oiler. Sutter is standing in a pasture next one of the Lewis machines, which looks like an industrialgrade merry-go-round, with massive steel arms and hanging blankets soaked with oil and fly-repellent.

"It works great," says Sutter as a herd of curious heifers bears down on him. "Without the oiler, the flies would be all over them."

One cow towers above the rest - it's a Black Angus bull that weighs as much as a Jeep. Sutter doesn't seem perturbed. "Just stay calm, and everything will be fine," he says.

Here's hoping he's right. The bull's head is a giant, anvilshaped mass of solid bone, and its chest is the size of a walk-in refrigerator. And, as Sutter says, the bull can move faster than an Olympic sprinter.

It doesn't take long for the F-150 to lose its new-truck sheen.

Curious Black Angus heifers press their faces up against it, leaving a smeared kaleidoscope of bovine nose prints. Sutter heads over to another pasture to inspect an irrigation pump. A day earlier, he had to dive to the bottom of a freezing pond to reconnect one of the pump's hoses.

Ranching isn't for the faint of heart.

By the time Sutter reaches the pump, he's driven through miles of pasture, forded a stream, and opened and closed half a dozen gates. Then it's off to look at some young bulls and a feeder system.

By the end of the day, the new F-150 looks like a ranching veteran, with a patina of dust, mud and cow mucus. Sutter is enjoying the F-150, even though it's far different than the trucks he normally drives. His ranch trucks use big, low-revving diesel engines.

The F-150 is fitted with a small, turbocharged V-6. "It isn't slow," Sutter says. "I'd take it."

Trucks have always been part of Sutter's life. He was raised on his parent's ranch in Viking, Alta.

He learned to drive in a pickup truck, and practised on concession roads. Even after they became NHL stars, Sutter and his brothers stayed in touch with their farming roots, and still use trucks every day.

The first new vehicle Sutter bought was a red Ford half-ton he purchased with the signing bonus he got from the St. Louis Blues in 1976. But he was embarrassed to drive it around the family farm: "It was all fancy," he says. "Mom and dad never got new trucks."

After the NHL signed a sponsorship deal with Dodge, Sutter switched to the brand. His Dodges have been tough and dependable, but Sutter is brand-agnostic.

"There are a lot of good vehicles on the road right now," he says. "GM, Ford, Chrysler - all of them have come a long way.

Growing up, we never had stuff like four-wheel drive. If you didn't put a load in the back, you were all over the road. Now all the trucks are beautiful, and they work great."

Back at Sutter's house the next morning, I noticed a small snapshot sitting at the back of a shelf: it was Sutter with his six brothers. Out in front was their mother, standing with the Stanley Cup.

This was the Canadian dream, stuck on a side shelf in a kitchen on the Alberta prairie. "I always thought I was pretty lucky," Sutter said. "I'm just a farm boy."

Associated Graphic

Brian Sutter and the new Ford F-150: 'It's pretty fancy ... but it drives great. It's smooth. I wouldn't kick it out of my driveway.'

Brian Sutter takes the F-150 for a spin around his property. He was the first of six brothers who played in the NHL: Brent, Darryl,

l, Duane, Rich and Ron.


The studio that Call Me Maybe built
Jonathan Simkin, a lawyer-turned-music-executive, was able to make his dream facility a reality when Carly Rae Jepsen hit it big
Saturday, August 15, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R5

Jonathan Simkin was touring Marianas Trench lead singer Josh Ramsay around his new state-of-the-art, custom-built music production facility when he realized Ramsay was being uncharacteristically quiet. Finally, as they capped off the tour, Simkin - a little rattled by the silence - asked him what he thought.

"I said it was a bold move to invest so much money in such a big place during a time when it seems like the music industry is in the throes of death," Ramsay recalls. "People don't buy records any more and here he is dumping a whole bunch of money into it."

Simkin("who remembers Ramsay's comments more like: "The music business is falling apart and you build this palace of music?") froze. Did Ramsay think he was making a mistake?

No, Ramsay said. "I think it's admirable when people go for broke."

"That was kind of the moment where I got a little scared," Simkin says now. "Where I suddenly went, 'What ... am I doing? Is this a completely insane thing to do?' And to be completely frank about it, I still have moments where I wonder."

Simkin is talking about 604 Studios, his new creative infrastructure venture in Vancouver's Railtown - and his answer to the extreme disruption wrought by the digital age. For years, Simkin - a bedraggled and brilliant entertainment lawyer, artist manager, president and co-founder("with Nickelback's Chad Kroeger) of 604 Records - has, like everyone else in the business, been trying to navigate the intense downturn in his industry, once known for its many excesses.

"I became very obsessed with figuring out all those various ways that we could continue to create amazing content but do it without going broke. You can still make money in the recorded music business. I absolutely believe that," he says. "You just can't do it the way we've been doing it for the last 20 years."

"It's become a business of pennies," he adds. "But there are a lot of pennies."

Simkin had a vision to spend fewer of them - and maybe earn more, too, by harnessing and monetizing the technology that has rocked the industry. He thought about building a recording facility that would encompass studios, offices for his various businesses and a sound stage for music video production, photo shoots and even live events - all interconnected with livestreaming capacity at the flick of a switch. A place his artists could use at reduced rates - and that he could rent out to supplement that income.

Not exactly an inexpensive proposition - but throw your wish in the well and you never know what might happen. Three years ago, one of his artists had a monster hit that became the song of the summer - and the catalyst for building his new studio.

"Call Me Maybe was the tipping point," says Simkin, who began managing Carly Rae Jepsen after her 2007 Canadian Idol run("among his contributions to her career: hooking her up creatively with Ramsay, who co-wrote Call Me Maybe). "And because this sort of facility had been on my mind for so long, when I saw that window there ... I seized the moment."

Simkin has made a career of seizing moments - and falling into the music business without intention or ambition. After drugfuelled troubles with the law back in the late 1970s and early 80s, Simkin got court-ordered help.

He later moved to Toronto to go to law school, eventually returning to Vancouver to practise criminal law.

He moved into an apartment that happened to be next door to a band signed to Nettwerk Records. He attended some of their parties, where he was often approached for contractual legal advice. "And I'd always be like, 'Dude, I can't help you. I have no idea. I'm a criminal lawyer. If you get busted for pot, here's my card.' " But Simkin became disillusioned with criminal law, and finally took on a music client - Matthew Good - in earnest. The legal work opened the door to artist management.

When a new rock band from Hanna, Alta., moved to Vancouver, looking for a lawyer who charged less than $300 an hour, they were recommended to Simkin by the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada.

"It was kind of bro-love at first sight," says Simkin, who has been Nickelback's lawyer since - for nearly 20 years. In 2001, he and Kroeger co-founded 604 Records, signing Theory of a Deadman early on. Simkin added an indie arm to the company, Light Organ.

At the same time, disruption was wreaking havoc in the music industry. Simkin, with a small, nimble operation, looked for ways to navigate through it.

"I just didn't want to be another one of these ... guys running around scared shitless saying, 'The sky's falling, what do I do?' " he says.

He developed his idea for a facility where the entire trajectory of a piece of music could play out. And when he hit the pop music jackpot with Jepsen, he went looking for a piece of real estate to fit his vision.

"Call Me Maybe did so well ... it seemed like a no-brainer," says Simkin, who landed on a former clothing factory on the fringes of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

"We're finally going to be able to do this thing that I've been dreaming of for all these years.

And we just kind of - boom - launched into it."

Simkin is telling the story in his office, with its high-end playback equipment and large musicindustry-related toy collection displayed on custom shelves. The multimillion-dollar facility that Call Me Maybe built is just about complete, minus the new website("due to launch in September) and the streaming capacity. He shares plans for a launch event in October: Marianas Trench, with a new record coming out, is planning to livestream a pay-per-view event from the sound stage, maybe with a few superfans forming a live audience("for a price), record the show in a studio next door, and offer it as a download and a video on demand the next day.

"So I've monetized that four ways? Five ways? And none of it involves making a record," Simkin says "The ability to stream performances out of the place really was for me, in a way, the coup de grâce," he continues. "That was the cherry on top. Not only can we make music, not only can we make videos here, but we can actually blast the stuff into the world from here."

The building has probably already paid for itself - just in terms of resale potential in a redhot Vancouver market. Not that Simkin has any such plans, though.

Aside from a few pieces of art and some photos, there is nothing on the walls - no gold or platinum records. "I said to everybody, 'The studio's got to earn its gold records,' " Simkin says.

Late on a Friday earlier this summer, the place is buzzing. The Vancouver-based band the Matinée is recording in the large studio now home to the recording console that was used for Nickelback's monster hit How You Remind Me. In a smaller studio next door, producer Colin Janz is working with new 604 signing Tonye Aganaba. In a third studio, Fake Shark's Kevin("Kevvy) Maher is working with Emily Rowed.

He takes a break to play the video Steve Bays("of Hot Hot Heat) directed for Cheap Thrills, which was shot a couple of metres away on the more-than-800-squarefoot sound stage.

"They hung me upside-down for half an hour for this and they didn't even use the shot," Maher says.

That indignity aside, Maher says he loved the experience of having everything under one roof - both from a financial standpoint("no need to rent studio space) and an artistic one("he was able to hop into a studio next door to deal with any audio problems).

Jepsen, who no longer lives in British Columbia, has not seen the place - and she and Simkin are transitioning out of their management relationship("she's still with 604 Records, though).

Scooter Braun - Justin Bieber's manager - is actively handling her career.

But Simkin would rather talk about a hot new act of his, Toronto-based Coleman Hell, whose genre-defying 2 Heads is having a good summer on Billboard, currently at the No. 23 slot on the "hot rock songs" chart. The banjo on the track was one of the first things recorded on the refurbished How You Remind Me console in the big studio here - and it may just provide the first plaque for its wall.

At the end of the day("which, as Simkin keeps odd hours, can be around 5 a.m.), Simkin remains enchanted by the business that chose him, and excited - even optimistic - about its prospects.

"There are so many people whining about the Internet and whining about everything in the music business," he says. "You know for me, it's like the wild, wild West. I don't think I've ever enjoyed it as much as I enjoy it now. It's scarier in a way, but so what? Life's scary sometimes. I really love coming into work and sort of going, 'Okay, how are we going to sell music today? Anybody got any ideas?' "

Associated Graphic

Record label executive Jonathan Simkin has transformed a former clothing factory on the fringes of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside into a music studio.


Where the over-the-top room spoils the meal
Japanese hot spot Kasa Moto boasts a Yorkville address and seating for 410, but decent food is lost under disastrous design
Saturday, August 22, 2015 – Print Edition, Page M2

There is a small stone at every place setting at Kasa Moto, the Chase Hospitality Group's flashy and frustrating new power spot on prime Yorkville Avenue. Some of the stones are glossy smooth and as wide around as two-dollar coins, while others are dull and lumpen and only a little bigger than mini jawbreakers; you wouldn't want to misplace one in your soba noodle and cashews dish.

They have by all appearances been sourced in bulk, at random - take this bucket, kid, and fill it with rocks because we're gonna build a modern Japanese restaurant.

Those stones have just one job, which is to serve as chopstick rests, and yet almost none of them has a chopstick rest's required divot, and so almost none of them even remotely works. Kasa Moto's servers know this: To watch them try to balance chopsticks on those stones is to witness Jenga-worthy wariness and concentration, and even then the task often ends in the sound of clattering wood. Kasa Moto's customers also know it. If my experience over two visits was representative, even the most willing patrons try to use them exactly three times before giving up and wishing the bloody rocks would go away.

Why, after nearly three months of business, Kasa Moto's management hasn't corrected this is a mystery. The 410-seat restaurant, housed in the former Remy's space, includes a chopped-up, split-level dining room on its ground floor and a massive top-floor bar and patio.

Kasa Moto is one of the toughest reservations to land in Toronto. At nighttime, that patio is often lined up down Old York Lane. Maybe they're too busy rolling in all the money. Or maybe Kasa Moto's management has its hands full with more pressing things.

Those rocks, while frustrating, are the least of the restaurant's design concerns.

There are also the arm chairs that don't pull in because Kasa Moto's tulip-shaped table bases are too wide, so you have to either perch at the edge of your seat or lean way back with a gulf of lap between your mouth and your dinner, slouched like a drooling troglodyte. There's the matter of Kasa Moto's rear, sunken dining space, where every surface is hard and reflective and the ceilings are wood, and where the noise gets so extreme at night that even basic, shouted, monosyllabic communication feels damnably out of reach.

There's the sunken corridor, too, at the western edge of Kasa Moto's ground floor, where they've shoved a row of tables.

It's as charming as the gurney track from Ambulatory Care to Radiology; this is where they seat the randoms. I can't think of another city restaurant where the difference between the great tables - and there are many of them at Kasa Moto; if you sit at one you may well love the place - and the bad tables is so profound.

Even the six-page menu is a design disaster, with its different sections for "hot," "cold," "rice and noodle," "robata," "large plates," "sushi and sashimi," and "maki."

The robata-grilled steak is found under large plates, not robata, and the tempura is under hot, unless you want the fish. The spicy tuna crispy rice, which is a rip-off of the Nobu chain's "crispy rice with spicy tuna," isn't under rice and noodles because why ever would they put a rice dish under "rice"?

Yet, the greatest tragedy of Kasa Moto is that when you remove the design of the place from the picture, it's a good (if entirely derivative) restaurant with a good kitchen and beautiful plates, and polished (or, at very minimum, charming) service.

Eating here should be infinitely better than it is.

The cooking comes courtesy of executive chef Michael Parubocki (Momofuku Noodle Bar, Frank's Kitchen, Centro), as well as the sous chefs Tsuyoshi Yoshinaga (Yasu, Kingyo) and Daisuke Izutsu (Don Don Izakaya, Kaiseki Sakura). Michael Steh, the Chase company's group executive chef, oversees it all. It's Japanese in spirit, but with brown butter sauces and wasabi sour creams - with the luxe, Frenchified touches you'd expect from the company that also runs The Chase and Colette.

Kasa Moto's creamy wild mushroom and truffle rice, for example, has far more in common with Italy's risotti than with Japan's typically humble kamameshi meals, which is the name the menu uses; either way it's a deeply fragrant and delicious starter.

They do smoked salmon and cream cheese here, but with the floral citric scent of yuzu in the cheese and with ikura salmon roe atop the salmon slices. The presentation is as refined and seemingly elaborate as any highend kaiseki dish.

Mr. Parubocki's kitchen whips the cream cheese with nitrous oxide and pipes it into delicate bread shells that are reminiscent of India's puri. Our waiter one night referred to the shells as "air bread" and we all laughed a little, but each bite was nearly as light as helium. How'd they do it, I wondered?

They do it the way they do most of the innovative-seeming things that you find at Chase Hospitality Group restaurants: They straight-up copied it. The Spanish-American chef Jose Andres developed air bread a few years ago; his recipe is easily located online.

Kasa Moto's lobster tempura is good for such a high-volume kitchen (tempura is always best in tiny, fresh-from-the-fryer batches). The shellfish was tender and juicy, in crisp, yielding batter. The broccoli tempura was gummy, as broccoli tempura too often is.

The restaurant's robata cooking, over super-hot, long-burning binchotan charcoal, is excellent in spots: The grilled corn was good, the asparagus limp and bland and two months out of season, but saved, and then some, by its gorgeous brownbutter ponzu sauce. The steak was delicious beyond all expectation. Kasa Moto's steak - not the $200 American wagyu nonsense, but the $42 prime Canadian striploin - was one of the best pieces of beef I've eaten in a Toronto restaurant. It was profoundly, deliciously beefy, with undercurrents of the nutty, cheesy, primal-tasting funk that careful dry-aging brings.

They serve it sliced, on a miniature tabletop grill, over a stick of glowing binchotan that makes the meat pop and sputter. You feel like clapping for this sort of presentation. I would go back over and over for the steak. And I'd go back for the whole grilled sea bass, deboned before cooking and then expertly reassembled, perfectly cooked and seasoned for a reasonable $36.

As for the sushi, I wouldn't bother - not, at least, for traditional sushi. The fish on the $60 "traditional sashimi platter" was laid out over a bowl of ice (keeping it much too cold), with a scattering of Japanese maple leaves and tall, ridiculously extraneous flora. The fish: farmed salmon, very good mackerel, nicely creamy urchin from New Zealand, bland East Coast lobster chunks and Japanese kampachi. Nothing all that special. It also included Mexican bluefin tuna, which is the Cecil the Lion of seafood products.

The slice I tried tasted more like flubber than like food.

If you're after sushi and you've got money to burn, go to Yasu, where $20 more gets you infinitely better product and preparation. Which yes, I realize, misses the point of Kasa Moto.

Kasa Moto has a full menu and valet parking, a Yorkville address and seating for 410 customers. Kasa Moto has NBA players at the corner tables and Lamborghinis parked out front.

The point of Kasa Moto is to be Japanese without being too Japanese-y, which isn't such a bad business plan for upmarket Yorkville dining. Still, it would be nice if Chase Group, a company with talented staff and outsized aspirations, would develop an original idea or two.

There's Japanese soufflé cheesecake to finish with - it's exactly like the soufflé cheesecake at Uncle Tetsu, the Japan-based chain that recently opened in Toronto, except that Kasa Moto's costs more and doesn't come hot from the oven. It arrives with (very tasty) pound cake croutons and a dish of (admittedly, exquisite) yuzu curd.

If you don't want the soufflé cheesecake, there's also a dessert called "chocolate stone." It's probably great, but I didn't try it. I'd had enough of stones by then.

Follow me on Twitter: @cnutsmith



115 Yorkville Ave. (at Hazelton Avenue), 647-348-7000,

Atmosphere: A luxe, clubby, multilevel power restaurant and night spot with generally excellent service, and, on the ground floor, an enormous gulf between good and awful tables. It gets loud.

Wine and drinks: Excellent wine and sake lists with plenty of interesting and affordable options; good cocktails (the plum wine sangria is strangely gulpable) and lots of nonalcoholic choices.

Best bets: Kamameshi, lobster tempura, spicy crispy tuna rice, smoked salmon, steak, whole grilled fish, cheesecake for dessert.

Prices: Small plates, $8 to $24; larger plates from $32; shareable sushi platters from $50.

Associated Graphic

A delicious starter: creamy wild mushroom and truffle rice, which bears a resemblance to Italy's risotti.

Summer's eve at Kasa Moto: A DJ spins the tunes, an outdoor patio beckons, and a bar that suits dates.


Everybody's got one
Common germs and infections that show up at grade school
Wednesday, August 19, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L5


School is just around the corner, I can hardly believe it. My "big kid" is heading into senior kindergarten, and our middle son into nursery this year. I don't fret about them meeting new friends or loving their new teachers. But I do worry about what they will be exposed to daily. As a pediatrician I am all too familiar with the different germs that will prevent them from going to the place they love.

There are a handful of common infections that we doctors count on seeing each fall. Here are the top infections to look out for:


Despite the scary name, hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a generally benign viral infection that goes away on its own without the need for antibiotics.

HFMD is also known as herpangina, typically affecting children during the fall and summer months. Though it usually affects young children, it can occur in older kids and even adults.

What does it look like?

Hand, foot and mouth disease causes rashes in the mouth, hands, feet and sometimes the rest of the body. Symptoms include: small pimple-like lesions in the throat and mouth (vesicles), ulcers on the tongue and in the mouth, small blister-like rashes on the palms and soles, groin and diaper-area rash, fever, decreased appetite and fussiness.

What causes it?

A virus called coxsackie causes HFMD. It is very contagious and is spread through coughing and contact with saliva.

What can I do?

Since it is a virus, antibiotics will not help. Fortunately, it will go away in approximately a week or so (about as long as the common cold). If your child experiences a decreased appetite, likely because his or her mouth may be sore, you'll find that cold, bland and non-acidic foods and drinks can help (e.g. yogurt, Popsicles and ice cream). For the pain, I recommend ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Viscous lidocaine mouthwash, available by prescription, can also help sooth the ulcers in the mouth if your child can swish and spit. Ensure you see your pediatrician or family doctor if your child is not drinking enough.


Most of us have been there; stuck in the washroom with diarrhea and/or vomiting. It is miserable.

This is the stomach flu.

What does it look like?

Symptoms include: watery diarrhea, nausea, decreased appetite, vomiting, headache, muscle aches, fever and abdominal cramps .

What causes it?

Gastroenteritis is typically causes by viruses, such as rotavirus and norovirus. Unfortunately, the viruses that cause stomach flu are prevalent in schools, as children are sometimes not so effective at cleaning their hands after using the washroom. Some bacteria cause gastroenteristis including E.

coli and salmonella, though these are often associated with bloody diarrhea. Parasite infections can cause diarrhea as well.

What can I do?

As most of these infections are viral, antibiotics do not help clear the infection. With time, the virus will leave the body. Ensuring hydration is paramount. Your child can drink small amounts of fluid often, such as 10-15 ml every 20-30 minutes. If needed, I recommend using a syringe if your child will not drink on his or her own. A solution with water, salt and sugar is required to prevent dehydration, so consider breast milk, formula or an electrolyte solution such as Pedialyte. Intravenous fluid is rarely needed. See your doctor if your child is dehydrated, having bloody diarrhea, vomiting, or you have recently travelled (and are therefore more at risk of a bacterial or parasitic infection).


Ear infections are one of the most common illnesses I see. Many kids present with fever and irritability, others have obvious ear pain and are pulling or rubbing their ears.

What does it look like?

Rubbing or pulling the ears, fever, irritability, decreased appetite, trouble hearing, fluid or blood coming from the ear .

What causes it?

Most ear infections are viral in nature, stemming from fluid accumulation behind the eardrum. This fluid causes pressure and inflammation. Occasionally, bacteria grows in this fluid, leading to persistent symptoms which require treatment.

What can I do?

As most ear infections are viral, we take a watch-and-wait approach. Children older than six months can wait on using antibiotics for two to three days. If the infection persists, antibiotics can be used.


Many of us remember lice infections from when we were in school. These infections have been around for centuries, wreaking havoc on our kids' (and sometimes our) heads!

What does it look like?

Lice cause the scalp to be itchy.

What causes it?

Lice are tiny insects that live on the skin and feed on blood. Once on the surface of the skin they cause itching due to irritation from their saliva. Lice lay their eggs on the surface of the hair; these are called nits. Lice spread by hair contact. Children who share their brushes, hats or pillows are at risk of getting infested.

Lice are unable to jump or fly and require direct contact to cause infection.

What can I do?

Treatment for lice regularly involves using medications applied to the hair and scalp.

These medications have to be applied twice, seven to 10 days apart to kill off the lice and nits that are in different stages of the life cycle. I recommend washing brushes, hats, bedding, clothes and toys in hot soapy water or placing these items in a tight plastic bag for two weeks. Ask your doctor which medication to use, as some are not recommended in younger children. Services that provide manual removal of lice and nits may be helpful. Many parents try to apply oils, vinegar or even mayonnaise to "kill" the lice. Unfortunately, these "remedies" have not been proven to be useful.


We've all seen it: red, sticky and irritated eyes. Pinkeye, or conjunctivitis, is inflammation of the membrane (conjunctiva) that covers the white part (sclera) of the eye.

What does it look like?

Inner eye and eyelid redness, itchy eyes, clear, yellow or green eye discharge, limited eyelid swelling, which may be accompanied by a stye.

What causes it?

Pink eye is most often caused by a virus, though bacterial infections, allergic or chemical irritation can also cause conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis is very contagious.

Even brief contact with the virus or bacteria, and then touching the eyes can lead to conjunctivitis.

What can I do?

Viral conjunctivitis Viral pink eye usually lasts one to two weeks and does not require treatment. It will resolve on its own. Some children get relief from using warm compresses or saline eye drops.

Bacterial conjunctivitis See your physician if you think your child has bacterial pink eye. This will improve with antibiotic eye drops or ointment. Symptoms usually improve within one to two days.

Allergic conjunctivitis Saline drops, allergy eye drops or oral antihistamines can help resolve your child's allergic pink eye.

So, how do I prevent these infections from ruining our back-toschool season? We focus a lot on hand hygiene in our house. When my kids get home, they immediately head to the washroom to wash their hands. We take sanitizer wipes with us to the park and play dates. My kids know to keep their hands off their faces to prevent pesky bugs from entering.

Reality is, kids are kids and will get sick sometimes. But we can aim to prevent a few illnesses a year if we are lucky.

Dr. Dina Kulik is a pediatrician in Toronto and provides child health information to parents and the public through television, radio, print media and her blog. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


Thankfully, there are some preventive measures you can take to avoid bringing these illnesses into your home.

Keep hands clean I know you've heard it a million times, but washing your hands with soap and water - and doing it often - or using a sanitizing gel or spray really does decrease the risk of getting viral and bacterial infections. Always wash your hands and your child's hands before eating. Teach your children to wash for 20 seconds or more (as long as it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice) and model this same healthy behaviour to them.

They will be more likely to follow suit.

Hands off the face! Teach your children to avoid touching their nose, mouth, and eyes whenever possible.

This is how bacteria and viruses take hold, by entering your body through these areas.

Keep surfaces germ-free Viruses and bacteria can live on surfaces for hours or even days. Public areas such as playgrounds, washrooms and door handles are likely covered in illness-causing germs.

You can't count on everyone to be as diligent as you are at washing. Consider cleaning these surfaces often (and encourage others to do the same), or keep hand sanitizers close by and ready to use after you use public places.

Antiseptic wipes are great to keep on hand when you are out with your children.

Exercise regularly Making sure you and your children are getting your heart rates up every day (ideally for at least 60 min) can help stave off illness.

Your hearts will become stronger and your immune systems will be better able to fight infection if you are healthy and active.

Associated Graphic

Children have been getting lice for centuries.


Thursday, August 20, 2015 Thursday, August 20, 2015

Thailand's slipping smile
After a bomb killed a dozen tourists, writes Mark MacKinnon, the ruling junta ran Orwellian ads promoting calm - and pointed fingers everywhere
Saturday, August 22, 2015 – Print Edition, Page F5

BANGKOK -- The short walk from Bangkok's Erawan Shrine to Wat Pathum Wanaram, a Buddhist temple 500 metres away, used to be a sweaty but serene one. In the cacophonous commercial heart of the Thai capital, the two religious sites were oases of the calm that many travellers sought.

But the calm has been shattered so often now that, when it returns, it feels illusory. Five years ago, it was Wat Pathum that was caught up in the violence, as the Thai army attacked a "Red Shirt" anti-government protest camp in the middle of the city. The fighting left 91 people dead.

On Monday, it was the Erawan Shrine that became famous for the wrong reason, when a backpack bomb exploded inside, killing 20 people and injuring more than 100 others. The shrine and its golden statue of the four-faced Hindu god Brahma had previously been seen as the city's goodluck charm.

This Southeast Asian kingdom has billed itself for years as the "land of smiles," and Thailand has done a surprising job of keeping up that facade even as a succession of military coups have been followed by deadly political protests. A string of smaller bomb blasts in the far south of the country over the past decade served as reminders that Malay Muslim separatists continued to resent their place inside Thailand.

Despite it all, the tourists kept coming. In fact, the number of foreign visitors to Thailand rose 20 per cent in 2011, the year after the shootout in and around Wat Pathum. Tourist numbers peaked at an all-time high of more than 26.5 million in 2013, before taking a slight dip last year when the military ousted an elected government headed by Yingluck Shinawatra. But visitor numbers were on the rise again in the first half of this year.

When the armoured personnel carriers rolled into Bangkok last May, it marked the country's 12th coup d'état since 1932. A bigger crisis lies ahead whenever the ailing, 87-year-old King Bhumibol dies (there's little popular love for Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn, and anti-monarchy sentiment is rising). But Thailand has kept smiling for the foreigners, with all sides in the political dispute abiding by an unspoken agreement not to threaten the tourist sector, the country's economic lifeblood.

Luckily, the sandy beaches and cheap pad thai stuck in visitors' minds longer than the news headlines. Monday's blast inside the Erawan Shrine blew a fresh hole in that image. Not only was it the deadliest single such attack the city has seen, it was the first to directly threaten the country's tourism. The blast scattered body parts all over the Rajaprasong intersection, the very centre of Bangkok, and rattled the windows of a trio of five-star hotels.

Worst of all - from the tourism industry's perspective - 12 of the dead were foreigners, including six from from China, the biggest source country for visitors landing in Thailand.

A day later, a second attack saw a small improvised explosive hurled from a bridge toward a pier on the Chao Phraya River, another tourist attraction. The explosive landed harmlessly in the water, but the attempt further shook a nervous country.

Part of Thailand's charm has always been the swirling chaos, the sense that the rules travellers live by elsewhere are suspended here. But that lawlessness has also made the city a hub for smugglers and human traffickers.

The likes of al-Qaeda and Hezbollah are known to have used the city as a place to lie low and draw up plans.

None of this looks good on the ruling junta, which bills itself the National Council for Peace and Order. With both peace and order under threat, the junta resorted this week to Orwellian television and radio messages telling listeners over and over that "the situation is stable and has returned to normal" in a gentle female voice.

The messages were repeated in Thai, English and Chinese.

But Thailand's new normal is instability. The junta has so many enemies that it spent the week rolling out what seemed to be a fresh theory every day about who might be behind the attack.

Was it the Red Shirts, striking out at the junta hours after Ms. Yingluck had condemned a proposed new military-written constitution -- which would create an army-dominated "crisis committee" with the power to overrule elected governments and call security forces into the streets - as undemocratic?

Was it the southern separatists, striking at Bangkok to raise their international profile? Was it an international network, taking advantage of the country's light security and visitor-friendly visa policies to target foreigners? Cynics wondered whether a faction of the junta, anxious to prove the necessity of its crisis committee, might be involved.

Eventually, the investigation narrowed to focus on an unidentified young man who was captured on closed-circuit television leaving his backpack at the bomb site. But details remained scarce.

"He didn't do it alone, for sure," national police chief Somyot Poompanmoung said of the backpack bomber, adding that the suspect might have been wearing a disguise. "It's a network. I believe there are some Thais involved."

Mr. Somyot suggested on Wednesday that the attack could have been carried out by Uighur separatists, a Muslim group straining against Chinese rule over the far west Xinjiang region of China. As Beijing has tightened the screws in Xinjiang, Uighurs have been blamed for a series of bloody attacks, both in Xinjiang and in larger Chinese cities.

Uighur groups could also be forgiven for harbouring a grudge against the Thai government, after the junta deported more than 100 Uighurs to China last month, ignoring concerns from human-rights groups that they were likely to be subjected to torture. But the Uighur theory - which was never supported by any publicly available evidence - was ruled out on Thursday by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha, the general who led last year's military takeover.

Police were left making two seemingly contradictory statements about the investigation: The main suspect was a foreigner and part of a "network." But in a television broadcast on Thursday that was likely meant to reassure, though it served mostly to confuse, junta spokesman Colonel Winthai Suvaree said the attack was "unlikely to be linked to international terrorism."

A clearly frustrated Gen. Prayut was left suggesting that police investigators should spend more time watching the American crime drama Blue Bloods for "tips, ideas and insights for their case."

But Gen. Prayut, a known cinephile, also lamented that "our officers may not be as good as those in the series."

Even the normally placid Thai media, which largely supported the return of military rule, has become openly anxious about the pace of the investigation. "Authorities must dig deeply and fast to discover who is behind the bomb blast," read an editorial in the English-language Bangkok Post. "It is the bare necessity and the first step toward healing the deep wounds of Monday night."

Any lingering suggestion that tourists might not be safe in Thailand could have massive implications for the economy, which had already been slowing. Rising tourism numbers had been buffering the country against declining exports; if the sector starts to contract significantly, the junta's popularity could suffer with it.

And so, even as the bumbling manhunt continued, the generals decided to make sure the country returned as quickly as possible to looking like the Thailand that tourists expect. Local newspapers were full of reports about additional security at tourist sites, but there was little additional police or military presence visible in the city. The apparent calm delivered the same message as the junta's broadcasts: There's nothing to see here. The situation has returned to normal.

The Erawan Shrine itself reopened on Wednesday, less than 48 hours after the attack. Though still a crime scene, the divot in the ground caused by the explosive was filled with fresh concrete. Not all the scars could be covered so quickly: Some of the green tiles on the roof of the temple building remain damaged, and an advertisement for Alexander McQueen clothing on the side of an adjacent mall was missing an "M" and an "e," torn off by the force of Monday's blast.

One of Brahma's four faces was missing part of its chin, but the statue nonetheless sparkled in the hot August sun. Tourists and mourners returned to lay flowers and handwritten condolences. Thai newspapers reported that only a handful of tourists had cancelled their plans.

The bombing remains unsolved and the suspects are still at large, but Thailand is putting its "land of smiles" mask back on. The question is whether it still fits.

Mark MacKinnon is The Globe and Mail's senior international correspondent, based in London.

Associated Graphic

The Erawan Shrine and its golden statue of the four-faced Hindu god Brahma had been seen as Bangkok's good-luck charm; it was the target of a bombing on Monday.


From top: A member of the military attempts to stop the media from taking pictures at the Erawan Shrine; people gather to pray at the shrine; Somyot Poompanmoung, chief of the Royal Thai Police, salutes during a visit to the blast site.


He blazed a trail for disability arts
An accident at 21 left him quadriplegic, but 'once he had his motorized wheelchair, he never looked back'
Special to The Globe and Mail
Monday, August 24, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S8

Fate handed Geoff McMurchy a heavy basket of lemons, but it failed to sour his spirit. A quadriplegic artist, choreographer, dancer and arts administrator, he pursued his creative endeavours with seriousness of purpose, while helping to create opportunities for other disabled artists to do the same. He fought against the perception that art made by disabled people is of lesser value, to be judged by lower standards.

Mr. McMurchy came along at a time when the disability movement was gaining strength, demanding (and getting) curb ramps and wheelchair access to all public places. He harnessed the momentum of the movement to nurture the cultural flowering of the disabled community, which also touched and educated the wider public.

As founding director of Vancouver's Kickstart (formerly the Society for Disability Arts and Culture), he produced in 2001 Canada's first festival for disabled creators in all disciplines. Sixty international and 160 Canadian artists exhibited or performed their works at the event, which helped artists with disabilities to make connections and was an eyeopener for able-bodied visitors.

Mr. McMurchy organized four more such festivals before 2013, when he handed over the reins to Kickstart's current artistic director, Emma Kivisild, a writer and visual artist who has multiple sclerosis.

"Artists with disabilities came from Australia, England, the United States," Ms. Kivisild recalled.

" 'Authentic, non-sentimental expression of the disability experience' - it's how Geoff defined the purpose of Kickstart. He wanted people with disabilities to have the option of choosing the arts as a life path."

His unforgettable dance performances, created with his dancer sister, Shannon McMurchy, and later with choreographer Lori Hamar, were seen in Vancouver and Victoria as well as at the High Beam Festival in Adelaide, Australia. Audiences were sometimes moved to tears watching Mr. McMurchy whirling in his wheelchair, his arms pushed through feather-tipped silver wings that he had created out of the discarded grille of a car.

In 2012, he also spearheaded a Vancouver disabilities film event, the Wide Angle Media festival. His art assemblages were exhibited in Vancouver's Roundhouse arts centre and, most recently, at Toronto's YYZ Gallery.

Mr. McMurchy died on July 19 in hospital in Victoria, of an abdominal cancer, at the age of 59. He had spent his adult life in a motorized wheelchair after suffering a broken neck at 21. His older brother, Gregg McMurchy, said the cancer symptoms had gone unrecognized because of his quadriplegia.

Geoffrey McMurchy was born in Lamont, Alta., on Sept. 19, 1955, the third of four children of Ken and Nancy (née Alton) McMurchy. The family lived in Edmonton but his maternal grandfather, a doctor, had been mayor of Lamont and his mother returned there to give birth.

His father was a professor in the dentistry school at the University of Alberta and when Geoff was 7, Dr. McMurchy took his family with him on sabbatical in England. Geoff's mother saved the drawings of birds he did while there and he later incorporated them into his mature artwork, when he no longer had the dexterity to draw.

Proud of their Scottish roots, the family enjoyed Scottish dancing, at which Geoff excelled. "He was always painting, or taking courses. He was a highland dancer and took tap dancing," said brother, Gregg. "He also played tenor banjo and sang in the Edmonton boys' choir."

Paula Jardine, who became his close friend at Edmonton's Garneau High School and played a crucial role in his life, recalled the teenaged Geoff: "He was the most beautiful, tall, lanky guy and a really good artist. Everybody loved him. Our little group all felt like misfits so we hung out in the art room. We had an experimental theatre group and did improv in the hall."

After graduation, the "misfits" moved to Vancouver, with Ms. Jardine eventually going to Toronto to apprentice at Theatre Passe Muraille. Mr. McMurchy took classes in drawing and print making, before being accepted at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.

While driving across the country to Halifax, full of promise and hope, he stopped to visit his parents in Edmonton. A friend suggested they go to Lake Wabamun, 60 kilometres from the city, to cool off. There, on July 27, 1977, he fractured his cervical vertebrae in a dive from a pier into water that was much shallower than it appeared. He remained conscious and later recalled the sensation of seeing his arms floating in the water without feeling them.

In traction and with a "halo" bolted to his head, he spent nearly nine months in an Edmonton hospital. Brother Gregg remembered seeing him in bed using a paint brush in his mouth, adding: "Within days, a cadre of his friends landed in his hospital room. They were there constantly and helped him deal with it."

Ms. Jardine hitchhiked from Toronto and never went back. "He was questioning whether he was meant to die," she recalled. But according to his brother, "with his friends there to support him, he remained largely positive. He could lift his arms but had no strength in his hands."

He returned to Vancouver to attend the renowned G.F. Strong Rehabilitation Centre where he learned to wash, feed and dress himself. "He had a lot of little appliances for everyday things - he had this remarkable ability to cope," Gregg said. "Once he had his motorized wheelchair, he never looked back."

He realized that he was gay and found a partner in George Landrecht when the latter showed up to make changes to his apartment in supportive housing. They lived together for a time, went camping, travelled. "Geoff collected all kinds of rusty metal and he was fascinated with crows and feathers," Mr. Landrecht said. "I went with him to junkyards and scrap heaps. He made a sort of mobile from a bicycle wheel and broken light bulbs."

Mr. Landrecht had his car adapted for hand controls but Mr. McMurchy did not feel he had the strength to drive safely. Although their romance ended, Mr. Landbrecht continued to be helpful as a travelling companion and occasional studio assistant.

In 1998, Mr. McMurchy was the communications officer for the B.C. Coalition of People with Disabilities when he was approached by filmmaker Bonnie Sherr Klein (Not a Love Story) with an audacious project. Ms. Klein, who had suffered a debilitating stroke and got around on a scooter, was part of a group of disabled creative people who saw a need for an arts festival in Vancouver for people like them.

"Geoff was very interesting because he was both an artist through and through, and a political activist," Ms. Klein said. The next year, they formed a nonprofit society with Mr. McMurchy as artistic director, and began raising money. "We went to the Canada Council and the B.C. Arts Council for money and they said, 'What? A disability festival! We never heard of that,' " she said.

Mr. McMurchy and his sister Shannon had seen CanDoCo, the revolutionary mixed-abilities British dance troupe founded in 1991 that was touring North America; according to Shannon, it gave them a new sense of possibilities. They performed their dance creation Wingspan (which was to have several iterations) at a big fundraiser for the festival, at the Roundhouse in Vancouver.

The money started to flow, and Mr. McMurchy and Ms. Klein travelled to Australia to scout talent to bring in.

The first Kickstart festival in 2001, and its four successors, encouraged disabled artists and changed attitudes. Ms. Klein made a cheeky film for the National Film Board about five disabled artists titled Shameless, in which Mr. McMurchy figured prominently.

The Canada Council for the Arts began to include Mr. McMurchy on its peer juries and in 2009 asked him to co-author a report about disability artists in Canada and the type of support they needed.

"I knew Geoff before he started the festival and saw him become a distinguished person," said friend Peter Field, another artist.

"I was so impressed with his drive - the vision to see that there was good modern art made by people with disabilities."

In 2004, Mr. McMurchy moved to Victoria to be closer to his mother. He was predeceased by his parents and an older sister, Laurie. He leaves his sister Shannon McMurchy of San Francisco, brother Gregg McMurchy of Edmonton, and many friends.

In Victoria, he lived in the spacious home of Ms. Jardine and her husband, musician Calvin Cairns.

A ground-level apartment with French doors opening to a garden was modified for his needs so that he could be self-sufficient. When his work required, he commuted by ferry to Vancouver - an exhausting process.

"He was the artistic director of our garden. The flower beds were raised and he could do some digging and planting and watering himself," Ms. Jardine said. "The guy had an eye - a beautiful aesthetic. We left his suite intact. It's an artwork in itself."

To submit an I Remember: Send us a memory of someone we have recently profiled on the Obituaries page. Please include I Remember in the subject field.

Associated Graphic

Geoffrey McMurchy dances a duet with his sister Shannon McMurchy.


Mr. McMurchy is seen in 2013, in the garden of his Victoria home.


Rowdy, raucous and right for the ring
With his faux Scottish shtick, Saskatoon native became one of the first WrestleMania stars and a pop-culture figure
Special to The Globe and Mail
Monday, August 17, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S8

A skirl of bagpipes heralded the arrival for battle of Rowdy Roddy Piper, a kilt-wearing trash talker whose repertoire in the wrestling ring included such felonious tactics as eye poking.

The notorious villain, whose boy-next-door looks belied a wicked tongue and a heart filled with malice, became one of bestknown wrestlers of his time. A bombastic and entertaining loudmouth who was not above relying on foreign objects or folding chairs to overcome his rivals, Mr. Piper's charisma took him from small-town hockey rinks in Manitoba to New York's Madison Square Garden as one of the first stars of the WrestleMania series.

Mr. Piper, who died of a heart attack on July 31 in his Hollywood home at the age of 61, boasted that he entered the ring for more than 7,000 professional fights. Hot Rod, as he was also known, was a central figure in the renaissance of pro wrestling in the mid-1980s, as the choreographed sport introduced storylines that included characters from the worlds of television and pop music.

"One night, I knocked out Mr. T, kicked Cyndi Lauper, chased Dick Clark back to his locker room and slapped Little Richard," he told a reporter last year.

Mr. Piper served as a foil to Hulk Hogan, wrestling's biggest star, appearing alongside his nemesis in Saturday-morning cartoons and on children's plastic lunch pails, becoming a popculture figure in his own right.

The villainous cheater of the wrestling ring showed great versatility as a movie actor, a standup comedian, a one-man improv performer, an MTV veejay, a pop pitchman and a pop singer.

His acting credits include dozens of action films and television movies, and he is perhaps best remembered for his starring role in John Carpenter's 1988 dystopian science-fiction feature, They Live. His character, an everyman drifter, discovers the ruling classes are alien robots. He confronts them in a bank while armed with a shotgun. "I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubblegum," he announces before firing his weapon. Mayhem ensues.

Billed in wrestling promotions as hailing from Glasgow, Scotland, Mr. Piper's true origins delighted a generation of Canadian children who were thrilled to learn that the cheating, hairshaking monster was one of their own.

Roderick George Toombs was born on April 17, 1954, in, Saskatoon, to Eileen (née Anderson) and Stanley Toombs, a railway police officer who served with the CN Police. The boy lived a peripatetic childhood in Quebec, Ontario and on the Prairies, including stints in Dauphin and The Pas in Manitoba.

His teen years were tumultuous; he claimed that troubles at home led to his sleeping at youth hostels and on gymnasium floors from an early age. "I ran out of tears when I was 14," he once told the Winnipeg Free Press. He attended Windsor Park Collegiate in Winnipeg, though by his own admission his academic studies were secondary to his keen interest in boxing and playing the bagpipes. In 1971, he helped his Winnipeg school district win an invitational amateur wrestling tournament by emerging as champion of the 165-pound division.

In later years, he claimed his first professional bout happened by accident when he was asked, at age 15, to fill in on an undercard for a wrestler who failed to show against Larry (The Axe) Hennig. He risked his amateur status by entering the ring, but the promise of a $25 payday proved a greater lure.

"I had never seen a match before," he told the Portland Tribune last year. "I went to play my bagpipe. I was wearing [a] kilt. The announcer didn't know who I was. He just knew my first name was Roddy. So he said, 'Here comes Roddy the Piper.' Shortest match in the history of Winnipeg Arena - 10 seconds.

Broke my nose."

(Mr. Piper's anecdote was likely a bit of promotional hullabaloo; the bout occurred in 1974, nine days after his 20th birthday, when he suffered an inglorious defeat at the hands of The Axe in a battle lasting less than two minutes.)

The young man had found his calling, and his shtick. He would wear tartan shorts or a kilt and fight as an angry, half-mad Scotsman. In his earliest appearances, he entered the ring after tossing dandelions into the crowd like rose petals, angering the crowd.

In those days, promoters worked certain territories with wrestlers sharing motel rooms to save costs, a hardscrabble life more similar to being a carny than an athlete. Promoter Al Tomko added Roddy Piper as an opening fighter expected to grapple for 20 minutes on cards scheduled to last three hours. He was a "jobber" - paid to lose.

After a few years working the prairie circuit, Mr. Piper moved to California, where he was trained by Judo Gene LeBell, a former wrestler who called himself "the godfather of grappling."

At 6-foot-2, a scrawny Mr. Piper would eventually fight at a billed 230 pounds. While engaged in Mr. LeBell's promotions at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, Mr. Piper began to perfect his Rowdy character. His most notorious stunt was to insult a popular family of Mexican-American wrestlers. He announced he would make amends by playing the Mexican national anthem on his bagpipes.

Instead, he played La Cucaracha.

Mayhem ensued.

He tasted success as a "heel," a wrestling bad guy, as he fought in rings from the Pacific Northwest (as the Masked Canadian) to the American South.

Outside the ring, Mr. Piper battled with promoters. His demands for payment, or a better storyline, led to his being blackballed by regional promoters more than once. He learned to be self-sufficient. "You can pretty much strip me naked, drop me off in any city and I'll find my way out," he once told a weekly newspaper in Portland, Ore. "I learned the rules - like, never carry a dull knife or an empty gun, 'cause both'll get you in trouble and neither will do you any good."

In 1984, he was hired by the World Wrestling Federation (later World Wrestling Entertainment, now WWE) to be a manager, as well as a commentator on an interview segment called Piper's Pit. Racial taunts were used by him as part of the unsubtle marketing of wrestling. In one episode, Mr. Piper filled the set with bananas, pineapples and coconuts to welcome Fijian grappler Jimmy Snuka, only to wind up insulting his Polynesian heritage before conking him over the head with a coconut. More mayhem ensued.

The WWF steamrolled the old economics of wrestling by relying on then-new technology, such as video, while also creating syndicated programs and annual payper-view specials called WrestleMania. Mr. Piper teamed with Paul Orndorff in a tag-team match against Mr. Hogan and Mr. T in the inaugural WrestleMania in 1985. The next year, Mr. Piper boxed Mr. T, and he appeared in several starring and guest roles in the annual show. Such antics, even as a bad-guy loser, made the Canadian world famous.

He continued wrestling on an irregular basis, more recently on independent circuits. He became a entrepreneur in Portland, where he co-owned a wrestling promotion company, lent his name to a bubblegum-flavoured soft drink called Rowdy Roddy and owned small businesses such as Piper's Pit Stop Transmission Center. In 1992, his pop love song, I'm Your Man, was released in the United Kingdom, as was an accompanying video. He also appeared in Ms. Lauper's music videos.

Mr. Piper suffered untold concussions in his time in the ring, as well as a dizzying array of lesser injuries. He claimed to have been stabbed three times by angry wrestling fans over the years, and made it a habit to sit in public with his back to the wall.

In 1991, he joined Mr. Hogan and three other pro wrestlers in telling a U.S. federal jury they had purchased anabolic steroids from a Pennsylvania doctor, who was subsequently convicted. The wrestlers were not charged because using the muscle-building drugs was not a crime at the time they admitted receiving the drugs.

In 2006, Mr. Piper was in hospital to be treated for a bone chip in his hip when a doctor spotted a swollen lymph gland. He was diagnosed with lymphoma and underwent chemotherapy. "It seems like I have been fighting someone, something, someplace, in some manner, my whole life," he said at the time. "But this fight is one I am gonna win!"

Mr. Piper leaves his wife, Kitty (née Dittrich), a pint-sized former waitress whom he called the only person he ever feared. He also leaves three daughters and a son, and extended family, including his mother, Eileen Toombs.

"He was Roddy Piper inside the ring," she said a few days after his death, "but outside the ring he was Rod Toombs, a lovely boy."

To submit an I Remember: Send us a memory of someone we have recently profiled on the Obituaries page. Please include I Remember in the subject field.

Associated Graphic

Roddy Piper was a beloved wrestler despite playing a villain, especially among Canadian fans.


'Accidental' entrepreneurs
The best ones aren't nurtured by the taxpayer
Saturday, August 22, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B5

Founder and CEO of the RIWI Corporation. He teaches about the Internet and health care at the University of Toronto, and is a senior fellow at Massey College.

As a new recession bites at Canada, let us please start taking innovation seriously.

Around the world, accidental entrepreneurs create hundreds of thousands of jobs and the necessary prosperity that fuels government coffers to pay for public health care and public education.

But politicians of all stripes appear to love a different kind of entrepreneur - let's call them cocreated entrepreneurs.

An accidental entrepreneur is someone who brings to bear a vision to change the world and possesses a rare combination of risk tolerance, charisma, empathy and demonstrable skills. My own anecdotal experience puts the average age of this special subset of entrepreneur at about 40, meaning that they have real-world experience and are motivated to solve real-world problems.

A "co-created" entrepreneur is someone, perhaps a taxpayerfunded postdoctoral student or academic, who is seduced into entrepreneurship by a government program, by a "centre of excellence funding grant" or by something entirely different - such as being unemployed. The great rolling global recession, about to hit Canada like a boxer's uppercut, will be a boon for startups. Some in the co-created group can enjoy great success, but any sober seed investor with experience would put all their chips on the accidental entrepreneur.

And yet, we are often told that risk must be underwritten by government or debt. A recent taxpayer-funded lottery commercial features a young gambler dreaming that she would start her own business if she won.

Seriously? In Silicon Valley or Haifa or St. Louis (which is on overdrive with bootstrapped startups), that logic would seem bizarre.

Apple, Facebook, LinkedIn and Huffington Post - such companies always had the ambition to win market dominance in every region of the world, not just in Silicon Valley. By contrast, taxpayer-support programs for cocreated entrepreneurs often have as one of their major goals an overtly political agenda - irrelevant to shareholders' interests - of "showcasing" the innovation brand of the host city or region.

For example, at the official 2005 opening of the Toronto-based MaRS Discovery District, Ontario Economic Development and Trade Minister Joe Cordiano said MaRS would "serve both as an international gateway to attract new investment to Ontario's innovation corridor, and as a provincial gateway to globally showcase Ontario's world-class research and commercialization infrastructure."

That policy response to Canada's "innovation deficit" will keep failing.

Everyone who has given cursory thought to nurturing entrepreneurialism in Canada - or letting it thrive without too much government muck - knows the faddish policy yarn: Taxpayers will hire bureaucrats and taxpayer-funded business consultants and give money and advice to really clever people with PhDs and a business plan.

Governments then ensure the money gets shepherded to politically fashionable businesses - such as clean technology - and somehow expect Canada to upend Israel as Innovation Nation. We invest taxpayer-funded seed capital to support these startups.

Some venture capitalists advising these taxpayer-funded startups even take early equity in exchange for that sagacity. Often, the metric of success is whether the limited partners to the venture fund earn money, not whether they help the entrepreneurs reach tangible business milestones, such as revenues, to maximize the benefits to shareholders. Seldom are even the simplest evaluation measures - such as how many entrepreneurs apply for the seed capital "accelerator" fund - ever published.

Accelerators and government chest-thumping about entrepreneurship expend scarce tax dollars on public relations, notably fancy websites and social-media campaigns, to remind taxpayers how their money is being put to magnificent use in "innovation hubs." Venture-fund advisers to these programs range from the well-intentioned and humble to the self-absorbed and media-obsessed. As a general rule of thumb, the more they are quoted in the mainstream media, the less value they add.

There is a saying in Ontario: "If you're looking for real money and real entrepreneurial advice, don't look south of Bloor Street."

Many venture capital advisers to accelerators are not entrepreneurs and work well south of Bloor Street. Sadly, this process sets up non-entrepreneurs to fail.

Entrepreneurialism is about failure; ask any early-stage investor. But it's better to fail fast and, if you succeed, to scale quickly.

And you are vastly more likely to succeed without top-down government support. It's not just me saying this - it's every objective economic analysis from every part of the world. If you asked entrepreneurs, they would tell you the same thing. Yet in Canada, few soi-disant taxpayerfunded experts talk to real entrepreneurs.

So what should we do?

Kill the incubators and accelerators

Josh Lerner, author of Boulevard of Broken Dreams: Why Public Efforts to Boost Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Have Failed - and What to Do About It, has destroyed the idea that there is any evidence to suggest direct government aid can help entrepreneurs. From Dubai to Jamaica to Taiwan to Singapore to the United States, the co-created entrepreneur model has flopped.

You just don't find accidental entrepreneurs in governmentfunded policy slush.

Throw away the white papers

Many reports on entrepreneurialism are stacked with insights from professional executives, academics and venture capitalists - entrepreneurs themselves are conspicuously not leading the discussion. Publicly funded academics figure prominently.

All of this white-papering is well intentioned. But it cartoons innovation and assumes, wrongly, that entrepreneurialism needs to be "nurtured" with the help of public money and policy advisers. For the taxpayer's sake, let us please rid ourselves of this cognitive bias.

Learn to find accidental entrepreneurs

Most of them live elsewhere. Hundreds of thousands of our accidental entrepreneurs have left for Silicon Valley or Bangalore and will never come back.

That is our "lost generation" of accidental entrepreneurs - government incubators won't lure them back.

Henry Fiorillo, a long-time early-stage investor and founder of Research Management Group, says that "abundant common sense" is the most critical predictor of entrepreneurial success.

"Not all people who try to create a company are truly entrepreneurs. Most are unrealistic dreamers without a clear vision of how to actually create, organize or grow a venture," Mr. Fiorillo says.

"The 'common sense' entrepreneurs have dreams, but their dreams are well contained and are focused on the right issues from the get-go. They see a market need clearly and they pounce.

... Many of the successful entrepreneurs I have met or been privileged to invest with are truly 'accidental entrepreneurs,' in that some change or changing life circumstance acted as a catalyst to realize the confirmation of idea meeting opportunity at precisely the right time. They don't plan, then it just combusts at the critical moment of opportunity and they seize the day."

Avoid preconceived notions

To know the DNA of accidental entrepreneurialism is to eschew the bunk fed to us from self-proclaimed experts. One of the most misguided pieces of advice from startup "experts" is that there is such a thing as a "natural entrepreneur" - someone with Bill Gates-like traits, whom you will instantly recognize.

Let me be clear: I am not an expert on accidental entrepreneurship - beware those who say they are. I have never seen any rigorous research on accidental entrepreneurs - the idea threatens the very existence of taxpayer-funded accelerators, incubators and MBA programs.

My duty is to make my shareholders extraordinarily rich, and to solve a problem I have been working on for more than 20 years. What I do know is that every accidental entrepreneur who has made a fortune has been told they would fail, and yet they persevered.

It wasn't until I started our company to learn that my father, a neuroscientist, was an accidental entrepreneur. It took him 12 years to identify the antipsychotic dopamine receptor. Now retired as the father of the "dopamine theory of psychosis," he was once ridiculed by government-granting agencies and by scientists at esteemed universities, due to his contrarian (and mostly privately funded) research approach.

He worked backward. "When the cause of an illness is not known," he told me once, "then one approach is to find out what medication alleviates the disease and find out exactly how the medication works. This is how the antipsychotic dopamine receptor was discovered." He has received roughly 35,000 citations to his work and is the only one of Canada's top-cited 20th century scientists who started a life-sciences company.

My father's father came from a small farming village in Poland, arriving in Halifax on a boat in 1925. He got on a train to Winnipeg, where he worked in a drycleaning shop, a furrier shop, a glove-making company and finally a small heating-oil delivery company. He saw opportunity and seized it.

I note all this because another of Canada's most well-respected seed investors advised me that the only single isolatable factor that shows positive co-linearity with entrepreneurial success is whether a parent was an entrepreneur. Parents nurture entrepreneurs and risk-taking; taxpayer-funded programs don't.

Associated Graphic

Taxpayer-support programs for 'co-created' entrepreneurs often have as one of their goals an overtly political agenda.


Analog, a love story
The curious revitalization of celluloid culture finds a home in Winnipeg
Wednesday, August 26, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L2

A few hours after filmmaker Aaron Zeghers touched down in Montreal last summer, word came that he could inherit a Steenbeck, the titan of analog film editing equipment. A tip from a fellow celluloid enthusiast led Zeghers to the basement of a documentary filmmaker's widow. There, she invited Zeghers to take the flatbed film editor - roughly the size of a refrigerator - along with her late husband's supplies and prints, for free.

He just had to haul it back to Winnipeg.

The Steenbeck experienced its heyday in the 1970s. Once the apex of film gear, it is now considered an "old school" relic - a niche machine in the advent of digital film production. But handmade analog film is not dead, just different, with its disciples - many of whom make a home in Manitoba's capital - dedicated to preserving the tradition as it has moved from a mainstream cinema standard to hyper-local, experimental and fine arts venues. To those still working in the medium, the Steenbeck remains a valuable and increasingly hard-to-comeby machine.

Zeghers had been tempted east for a Steenback before, when Concordia University was culling its equipment in 2013. As the film industry moved almost entirely to digital, so, too, has film school. Concordia's graveyard fleet fell from 22 Steenbecks down to seven, but the lot was given away or junked before Zeghers could get his hands on one.

"Such is the unfortunate end for a lot of analog equipment," he says.

The widow's offering was too good a chance to pass up: He brought the Steenbeck home to the Prairies.

Back from the brink According to the celebrated celluloid conservationist and cinematographer Tacita Dean, analog film has recently "come back from the brink" of extinction.

With Kodak threatening to close its film division and photochemical labs in 2014, Dean drummed up support and dialogue about safeguarding these processes with such big-name contemporaries as Quentin Tarantino and J.J. Abrams.

"We have a small window of opportunity to try to make analog filmmaking normal again," Dean says. "But I'm feeling better, because we nearly lost film."

Kodak recently secured longterm commitments from all six major American motion-picture studios to continue purchasing their film, signalling that analog cinema might be out of the woods. Hype around The Hateful Eight, Tarantino's upcoming 70millimetre release, also suggests there is a continued audience interest in analog - and potential for it to remain a celebrated part of major cinematic events.

On the front lines, however, practitioners have been toiling away at their chosen medium against obscurity the entire time, defending its creative and chemical processes, which are different on every level from the digital world's. And those artists have found a perhaps surprising ground zero for analog appreciation: Winnipeg.

An analog town Beyond its tough and Slurpeeloving reputation, Manitoba's capital is renowned in international film circles for churning out highly original films and artists with an analog bent. There is a strange and serious group of them there: collecting, experimenting and using a so-called outmoded film vocabulary to create highly personal works. In Winnipeg, analog persists.

An ecosystem of indie and regional film production centres is crucial to keeping Canada's home-grown analog talent alive.

The Winnipeg Film Group recently celebrated its 40th anniversary with a national forum, for which it screened several seminal Canadian works and took a hard look at the future of analog film. The impacts of changing technologies and funding regimes could not be ignored.

For the WFG, embracing the digital age has meant putting resources into a multiyear archival project that will allow new generations of audiences and distributors access to its rich cinematic history. Organizers aim to get their entire catalogue of shorts, docs and experimental works online within two years.

Roughly 1,500 prints will pass through the capable hands of filmmaker Mike Maryniuk, who has been digitizing the catalogue for the past year. Maryniuk, 37, came up in the film group, learning hand-processing basics at the $225 Film Experiment, a workshop led by Nova Scotia College of Art and Design film professor Sol Nagler in 2002. At the time, Nagler was fresh from director Phil Hoffman's experimental Film Farm - an independent image-maker's retreat in Ontario - and keen to share what he learned with his peers.

His workshop inspired a generation of come-to-celluloid ingenuity, training such filmmakers as National Media Arts Prize winner Matthew Rankin and Deco Dawson, who is a frequent collaborator with Guy Maddin.

The mythologies surrounding their collective body of work is one reason why Winnipeg has a reputation for analog craftsmanship.

Now celebrated as Manitoba's reigning "Prairie surrealist," Maryniuk has made more than 30 short films and documentaries using techniques such as spin art, micro painting, scratch animation and even the physical application of temporary tattoos, one by one, onto 100 feet of 35mm film. Maryniuk has buried film in his backyard, strung it up on the back of a dirt bike for a ride through muddy fields, and dyed it in a bowl of borscht at a local Ukranian restaurant. His current project, a feature film called The Goose, is about a hallucinatory escape from small-town Manitoba (the project recently compelled Maryniuk to tie-dye 900 pieces of fabric for mere seconds of animation).

It is film's innate physicality that allows for such wild experimentation, and Maryniuk's work has inspired others to take it to the limit. He started teaching the analog film workshop in 2012, calling his students "diehards."

"[Analog filmmakers] have an enormous work ethic," Maryniuk says. "There's this weird competition of everyone trying to outdo each other about the films they can make, or how insane the film is. It's less of a competition and more like a never-ending relay race - but the baton is on fire and your pants are soaked in gasoline."

He acknowledges, though, that his work is also uploaded on Vimeo and other online platforms, and must coexist with new technologies. In many ways, the WFG's ambitions for a digitized catalogue represent the crossroads of the cinema culture: There is a way to benefit from the best of both analog and digital worlds, and the creative dialogue and tensions between them.

Winnipeg's cinematic celluloid culture isn't a complete anomaly, though. Atlantic Canada celebrates the medium with the Halifax Independent Filmmakers Festival; Toronto has The 8 Fest, LIFT, Pleasure Dome and the CineCycle Underground Cinema.

Montreal hosts the Montreal Underground Film Festival and is home to the Double Negative Collective. Regina has the One Take Super 8 Event and Calgary's $100 Film Festival rounds out the western-most Prairie province.

Anti Matter, in Victoria, dedicates itself to experimental media arts works each year, too.

In some corners, there is a hope that analog will resurface in manner similar to vinyl records, regaining a cultural cachet in the film world and the marketplace. Certainly, Canada's weird, high-calibre creative celluloid content could use additional support, screening opportunities and attention beyond the co-op world and off-festival circuits.

"There remains a need and a desire to tell a different story than the easy one that's conventionally told," says Andrew Burke, associate professor at the University of Winnipeg in screen and cultural studies.

"There is a temptation to tell the story of our national cinema through a list of feature films," he says, "but there is a whole other history you can draw through shorts, experimental, personal and poetic films and the strange regional productions that get left out of the conversation, just because feature films dominate."

Since we are not in a "postfilm" age yet, the craft of Canadian analog cinema may still see its day.

At the very least, it isn't going down without a fight.

The frontier After orchestrating his Steenbeck's move halfway across the country, it just so happened that Zeghers found another, smaller machine in a Winnipeg basement upon his return.

But the filmmaker regrets nothing: With a winter mission to finish a 16-mm, multiprojection personal film about his father closing down the family farm, Zeghers was happy to have the equipment necessary to get the job done.

And, knowing not to let a good thing go, he pursued the second Steenbeck anyway, liaising its purchase for the Winnipeg Film Group, whose machines were on their last legs. For Zeghers, it was important to give back to where he developed his intense appreciation for the medium and provide opportunities for other filmmakers to fall in love with analog.

"Romanticize [my journey with] the Steenbeck if you want," he says. "It was the most romantic thing I have done in my life."

Associated Graphic

Aaron Zeghers, an aficionado of analog film (celluloid) in a digital world, is seen with his Steenbeck film editor that he moved halfway across the country and into his Winnipeg apartment last Friday.


Navigating the housing market wisely
Monday, August 24, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S1

VANCOUVER -- Throughout the summer, The Globe's B.C. bureau is taking an in-depth look at housing in the Vancouver region, where skyrocketing prices are limiting who can afford to buy a home in Canada's third-largest city and what those homes look like. We're examining trends in the Lower Mainland's housing market, as well as following buyers who are trying to navigate it.

Patricia Houlihan knows a thing or two about buying houses - she's bought and sold six of them over the years. And as both a lawyer and a real estate agent, she understands the importance of having patience and being realistic about what you can afford. You just have to be willing to move.

Freshly graduated from university, Ms. Houlihan bought her first house for just under $200,000 on the east side of Vancouver, before anyone looking for a detached home in the area needed $1-million.

"I got into the market by buying a house that had condoms and needles in the yard at least a couple times a week," Ms. Houlihan said. "Even though I was paying back student loans, I wanted to get into the market - and I didn't care what it took."

Ms. Houlihan's motto is that first-time home buyers can always move up. The important step, she says, is getting into the market with a piece of property you can afford.

"This is why I get a little bit irritated when people tell me they can't get into the market," she said.

"You can get into the market, you're just not willing to get into the market."

Twenty years and several homes later, Ms. Houlihan is looking to be on the move again, this time with a waterfront property in North Vancouver in the $3-million price range.

The Globe and Mail spoke with Ms. Houlihan about her personal history navigating Vancouver's housing market and what she's learning from her latest search.

How did you get into the market?

Up to this point, I've just been buying houses that were where I wanted to live - but I was pretty flexible on that - and where I thought it would appreciate in price well enough for me to make some money and move up to the next one.

[For the first house], I would have probably moved to Surrey if I had to, but I ended up getting a house at 10th Street and Glen Street in East Vancouver, which is now a lovely area, but was not a lovely area then. I bought the house. It was disgusting, it stank of cigarettes. We ripped out all the carpet, we refinished it, painted it, fixed it up and then sold it and moved to something bigger and better and in a better location - and just kept doing that.

My second place, I bought with a friend in East Vancouver. It was bigger and better, but buying with a friend didn't work out so well.

I sold it and bought [the third] house in the same area that, again, needed a fair amount of work, but it had a view. I fixed it up.

Then the market went down, so I was able to get [the fourth] house in the west side for not much more than normal. I bought that house for almost double than I sold the previous house in East Van for. I was selling a really nice house in East Van that was a lot bigger, with a suite, to - again - buy a crappy house with a view, but in the west side.

After that one, I moved to Point Grey Rd. in Kitsilano. This house I thought I might stay in forever because it was a big, beautiful, nice house - still older - amazing view, great location. But then I got pregnant and wanted my kids to grow up somewhere other than Kits, so I moved to North Vancouver.

I bought a waterfront house [in North Van] for the same price as my waterfront house in Kits. But it was small, so the reason I want to move now is because I need a bigger house.

Each time I go up, it's much harder to find a house. When I was trying to get into the market - it's much easier getting into the market than to move up to a house that you're going to love and stay in, because those houses are few and far between, the prices are tough.

Is it easier to get into the market and move up than to buy your dream house from the get go?

Yes. You usually can't save as fast as the market increases. Buy something as soon as you can, so you've at least got your foot in there, so that your property is appreciating.

Even if you're not going to renovate, at least buy something so that the value is going up while you continue to try to save a bit of money on the side - and then you can gradually move up in the market.

How did your houses appreciate?

When I bought my first house, interest rates were about 13 per cent. I paid $196,000 for my first house. Had I kept it, right now, it's worth about $1.2-million.

My last two houses I had in Kits almost doubled, and both of them I owned for less than five years.

My current house in North Vancouver hasn't really gone up because I bought in the peak of the market.

Buying disgusting houses is a good way to go. No one else wants it, I want it. As long as it's in a good location and hopefully has a view.

If this next house - your seventh - is a move up for you, what's on the checklist?

This is the problem I have now: I can move up to a nicer house, but location is my primary motivation. I'm on the water right now - I use the water almost every day, I swim year round - so I have to have waterfront. I've found some great houses, but they haven't been on the water, so they're not even in the running.

To try to find something on the water, bigger, et cetera, is very difficult. Even though I would move into the ugliest house on the street because I know I can fix it.

And that's the problem with first-time buyers, is they think they have to buy a house they're going to live in for the rest of their life - well, you don't.

Are you considering sacrificing living on the water then?

Only if the house is amazing and very close to the water. It has to be so close to being waterfront it's not funny.

What's been most surprising to you in your personal search?

The pricing. The higher you go up in price, it seems, there's a lot more people who think their houses are worth more than what the market would tell them.

I would have bought several houses [that I offered on] - and a lot of them ended up selling at what I would have paid - but at the time when I offered, people said their house was worth more than I offered.

For example, this one house that I offered on twice in North Vancouver, six months apart - I knew what it was worth and it was not worth anywhere near what the seller was asking for it.

It was one house off the water, good location, but the guy was asking a crazy price.

The second one was a waterfront house in North Van where, again, the guy was asking too much.

I'll overpay for my principal residence if it's what I want because I've been looking for a long time and if I'm going to live there it doesn't matter.

And in Vancouver, the market is going to go up so it'll catch up to what you paid. But I'm not going to overpay crazy because that's crazy.

So is it even a good time to look in the $3-million price range?

It's not a good time to look at any price range given how little stock there is available right now.

There's very little on the market.

I would have been much better off to buy two years ago.

You can only buy when there's something available, and right now the market is so tight there's nothing to buy.

I'm willing to overpay a bit; I'm not willing to go nuts.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Associated Graphic

Patricia Houlihan explores a neighbourhood in Deep Cove, B.C., where she is hoping to buy a house.


Why mental-health services lag in the 905
Saturday, August 22, 2015 – Print Edition, Page M1

This is the third in a four-part series examining support programs and services for lower-income residents in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon - the cities and towns of Peel Region more known for their affluent middle and upper classes than a growing population who live in poverty.

I n the still-growing Region of Peel, social-service advocates say the support network for the diverse array of residents in Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon is not keeping up.

And in the push to bolster poverty-reduction initiatives with better mental-health care, finding ways to connect people with services can be a battle against systemic shortfalls and a lack of culturally appropriate options.

Stigma is often a roadblock to seeking help for mental illness, but Mandeep Grewal, the mentalhealth case manager at Punjabi Community Health Services, says it can be an even more significant barrier for people from South Asian communities, which make up almost half of Peel's population.

"There's lots of labelling: They can say someone experiencing mental-health issues is due to karma, or it's black magic.

There's a lot of denial, shame, guilt," she says.

And for those who do reach out for help, finding culturally appropriate services is a challenge.

Mental-health services are often based on an individual, clientcentred approach, but Ms. Grewal says the "close-knit" nature of South Asian families means that involving all the family members in a care plan can be much more effective.

"From my experience, family support really helps for the recovery of the client," she says.

"And they want their parents involved; they want their spouse involved. Even seniors [who] come here, they want their kids involved."

Outreach workers from the Peel branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association work out of hospital emergency rooms to identify people who might need mental-health care. New immigrants often end up at the hospital if they are in crisis because they do not know about other options, or they find navigating the mental-health system too overwhelming, CMHA Peel CEO David Smith says.

"Many people only know their family doctor or the hospital, so that's where they're more likely to start," he says. "That's where we're trying very hard now to make those connections."

The Fair Share Task Force for Peel estimates that services in Peel receive one-third to onehalf of the provincial per capita average for funding in various areas. The coalition of organizations that makes up the task force has been advocating for more than two decades for changes in the way provincial funding is distributed to correct what they say is historical underfunding of services in Peel.

Darryl Wolk, a strategist for the task force, says funding for mental-health services is a key issue in the push for more equitable support for Peel. He points to a victory in 2012, when the province changed the way child-care funds are distributed, resulting in a 53-per-cent funding increase in Peel, but he says adult services related to poverty reduction, addictions and mental health still do not have the support they need, especially as Peel's population has reached 1.35 million people, making it the second-largest municipality in Ontario.

"The general thought process in the past was Peel, York and Halton are more or less suburbs of Toronto," Mr. Wolk says. "A lot of times, resources were placed in Toronto with the expectation that they would serve the GTA."

That is no longer the case, according to Shelley White, chief executive officer of the United Way of Peel Region, which advocates for social services. She says the cities in Peel have grown into true urban centres, and the rapid population growth the region has seen - nearly tripling over 30 years - has compounded the problem of getting timely access to services such as mental-health care.

The prevalence of poverty, which Ms. White says is often linked to mental-health issues, is also a concern: University of Toronto research shows that the proportion of Peel residents who live in a neighbourhood classified as low-income increased to 50 per cent in 2010 from 2 per cent in 1980.

"It would be very advantageous for Peel if public policy-makers, funders, decision-makers thought of Mississauga and Brampton as the sixth- and [ninth]-largest cities in Canada and invested in them accordingly," she says. "Peel doesn't have the human services network that it needs."

In January, 2014, the United Way of Peel Region commissioned a report on Peel's mentalhealth system, which resulted in several recommendations for expanding and improving services. Anita Stellinga, the organization's vice-president of community investment, says a lack of access to mental-health services in the region is a barrier across the board. She says the United Way was surprised at the shortfalls the report revealed, and notes that Caledon is particularly underserved.

Ms. Stellinga says Peel residents need to be able to gain access to supports in their own neighbourhoods so that long wait times or referrals to services outside the region do not isolate them further. The CMHA's Mr. Smith says it sometimes makes sense for some complex, intensive cases to be referred to experts outside the community, but Peel still needs more basic resources.

The United Way report also identified "cultural and linguistic competence" as a barrier to access, reflecting the needs of Peel's highly diverse population.

As of 2011, the National Household Survey showed that Peel had the highest percentage of members of visible minorities in the Greater Toronto Area, at nearly 57 per cent of the population. In Mississauga, about 40 per cent of residents are of South Asian origin, and in Brampton that proportion is almost 60 per cent.

In 2011, Peel also had the highest proportion of immigrants in the GTA, at 50.5 per cent of the overall population.

Punjabi Community Health Services provides health and settlement programs for thousands of people in Peel's South Asian community, and Ms. Grewal says the community's needs are quickly outpacing the centre's capacity. They have two offices in Mississauga and one in Brampton, but there's a wait list for every one of their programs, and for counselling, clients might have to wait for up to six months.

However, she says they never turn clients away and will take extra steps to accommodate their needs, whether that means making time for people outside regular office hours or meeting them for counselling sessions in their homes. They also offer services in Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, Tamil and English, and they recently hired staff who can speak Malayalam.

"Peel Region is so diverse.

[Thye're] necessary," Ms. Grewal says of the language services.

At the CMHA, Mr. Smith says cultural competency training among the staff is key, and the association offers services in nearly 20 languages. It is also currently working on a research project about how to engage young people in Peel's South Asian communities.

Punjabi Community Health Services has also been involved with United Way in an initiative to engage faith leaders in discussions to raise awareness about what mental illness looks like and where people can get help.

Ms. White, from United Way, says it's an important step toward breaking the stigma of mental illness, and Ms. Grewal says it's an effective way of getting the word out about her organization's services. "When stigma is out of the picture, only then are people going to be willing to come in for help," she says.

"Faith leaders hold a very important stand with the South Asian community, so if they hear [about a service] from the faith leaders, it must be okay."

There is also a push to make Peel's mental-health system more accessible: Mr. Smith says work is under way to create a single access point for services, so it is up to the agencies, not those seeking help, to find the correct supports. But he says he has seen a change in the way people talk about the issue in his 25 years working in mental health - there is more willingness than ever to take the problem seriously and get behind initiatives tackling mental illness.

In Peel, while there is still more work to be done, that sentiment is taking hold, too. "I know that everyone understands what the barriers are," Ms. Grewal says. "Everyone has acknowledged the problem, and it's basically just trying to make that change, little by little."

Associated Graphic


Mandeep Grewal of Punjabi Community Health Services says stigma is often a roadblock to seeking help for mental illness, especially for people from South Asian communities.


Forget trench coats, button-downs and pinstripes. Men's staples are getting a wake-up call this fall: Sweaters are growing turtle necks, pant hems are creeping way up, and scarves are morphing into high-drama shawls. Odessa Paloma Parker reports on the runway's most relevant updates - and offers styling tips for guys who are up for the adventure
Saturday, August 22, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L6

For Brian A. Richards of The Collections, a Toronto-based fashion consultancy firm, fall's quirky new trends - cropped trousers, novel turtlenecks and ultraloud suits, to name a few - would be welcome additions to his wellstocked wardrobe. "I love turtlenecks.

I'll definitely be wearing them," he says of the not-always-easy-to-pull-off style (pun intended). Richards is known for his eclectic ensembles, favouring camo-patterned suiting and bold floral prints.

And though he solicits corporate attention in his line of work, he's not beholden to the typical style parameters the corporate crowd adheres to.

Wearing a boldly patterned suit by Louis Vuitton or an oversized shawl by Loewe to the office might seem unthinkable to that crowd - and to most working men - but if the runway is any indication, that won't be the case for long. Last year, Euromonitor International reported that men's-wear sales had reached $440-billion (U.S.), growing 4.5 per cent and outstripping growth in the women's-wear category. This summer, New York hosted its first-ever series of men's-wear focused runway shows, to capitalize on the growing influence of international men's-wear presentations. In short, men are now fashion's most important customers, and while only a select few are likely to don a pussy-bow blouse like the ones Gucci showed this season, the adventurous nature of the latest crop of essentials - including bright purple turtlenecks and outsized check suiting - seem poised to challenge a broader swath of men to move beyond their style limits.

Of course, just how outré these trends are depends on who you ask. "We're not reinventing anything," says Chris Gamauf, senior men's-wear buyer at Holt Renfrew, of the surge of off-beat classics displayed at the fall shows.

"What makes these pieces new is the silhouette, the colour, the fabrication." Tweaking a quilted jacket (one of outerwear's new hero pieces), for instance, by reimagining it in patchwork style, as Dries van Noten did, seems a logical place to start when courting a customer who is used to considering functionality over fashion, as male shoppers tend to do. The shape and texture of the coat are familiar, while the hodge-podge effect of varying textiles pushes boundaries.

Richards says this evolution is necessary in an industry that cycles through women's-wear trends exhaustively, but doesn't always yield the sales results expected from such production volume. "Women's wear has gone everywhere, to androgyny and back," he says, "but men's wear offers this new territory of experimentation."

Consider it the newest iteration of the sixties mod or seventies glam rocker. Though far from outrageous, these tweaks to classic wardrobe staples signal a heightened appreciation for self-expression in the men's camp. Gamauf notes that street-style stars such as Nick Wooster, a New York-based brand consultant who is known for his boldly patterned jackets and shortened slacks (and who was recently listed on Vanity Fair's best-dressed list), and Justin O'Shea, buying director of the luxury e-comm platform My Theresa, who pairs three-piece suits with unusual shirts and coats, have become inspirational figures. These new fashion icons are exposing men to the idea of dressing to please themselves, an unconventional concept for this customer base. Richards recalls the early aughts, and the rise of the metrosexual - when suddenly men were encouraged to invest in fashion pieces - as the last time that demographic was reasonably engaged. Perhaps ironically, it was women's magazines and their embrace of the metrosexual look that played an instrumental role in making advanced grooming (that is, anything beyond a shave and a haircut) and luxury accessories an acceptable part of the average male's lifestyle.

Today, the rise of sportswear - which emphasizes fashionable detailing with a relaxed feel, an approachable notion for guys - is also loosening the rules of men's wear. So is a changing workforce made up of millennials, startup types and non-9-to-5-ers, who are increasingly conducting business outside of the boardroom.

That said, as Richards points out, we may live in a start-up society, but tradition still dominates the way men dress. Not all men are able to expand their fashion horizons during the workday - or choose to do so during the off-hours.

For Graham Smith, vice-president of Ashlar Urban Realty, the progress in men's wear isn't relevant to his professional (or personal) style. Smith, who describes his look as "fairly traditional," favours classics such as simple cashmere sweaters and similarly subtle suiting for the office. Of the outsized checks on a black-and-white Canali suit, he says, "Maybe if I had another job and if it was done in dark blue instead of white, I would wear that."

As Richards sees is, such designs are nudging gents in a more fashion-forward direction, but the progress is going o be incremental. He points to designer Robert Geller's collection, which featured an array of shortened slacks, as a prime example. The cropped trousers were paired with simple white shirts, a pairing that tones down the oddness of the new hem height and highlights ease of styling.

Gamauf says that for anyone timid about sporting a turtleneck, it makes sense to try one in a neutral colour like navy before advancing to orange or Kelly green (both hot colours for turtles this fall). The same goes for suiting - a muted printed suit is a good gateway to the amplified paisley patterns Etro showed.

The effect, after all, is cumulative. As men increase their awareness of what's available and feel more included in the fashion fold, there's a good chance that forwardmoving trends will take.

INSTEAD OF A TRENCH COAT, TRY A QUILTED JACKET Outerwear was tough-but-puffed for fall, with quilted bomber-style jackets seen at Antonio Marras and Todd Snyder's runway shows. Some designers took a quirkier approach to the classic piece: Katie Eary chose a bold cobalt hue for her quilted topper, while Dries Van Noten created a vest-like effect by piecing together fabric in various shades and textures. Depending a on the c this piece has both cut, work workdays and weekends covered.

INSTEAD OF CUFFED SLACKS, TRY A CROPPED TROUSER Baring ankles d during the summer is already a tall order for many gents gents. But, according to designers such as Robert Geller and Junya Watanabe, who showed trousers hems several inches higher than the seasonal norm, skin is in for at least a few more months. The easiest way to wear them in cool weather is to pair themem with ankle boots (or, for a jolt of f personality, with statement socks and laceups).

INSTEAD OF A BUTTON-DOWN, TRY A TURTLENECK A timeless favourite, turtlenecks are everywhere this fall. What's new are the hues - from Bottega Veneta's Kelly green offering to Ami's pastel blue knit. Exaggerated shapes also gave a twist to the trend: Baja East showcased slouchy, chin-grazing necklines, and Duckie Brown went one step further with a more sculptural design that looked futuristic but still wearable. Downplay the volume of an exaggerated neck by wearing yours with slim-fit slacks.

INSTEAD OF PINSTRIPES, TRY A BOLD SUIT In a variety of cuts from slim to outsized and ranging from glam-era plaids to groovy marbleized patterning, headturning suits reign this season. Louis Vuitton made a case foror opulent Arts & Crafts-style motifs, o ifs, while Andrea Pompilio's red-checked look has Andr k an updated 1940s fl air. Canali's black-and-white white suit, paired with simple monochromatic accesccessories, makes a subtler statement. The key m ey to making this look work is to either pare makin re down (sticking to neutral shirting) or amp up (p p (accenting with a colour).

Pick your pleasure and go P forth with gusto.


A hint of southwestern attitude accented many shows, including Sacai, where a fringed knit poncho gave earthy weight to a sportswear-infused collection, and Richard James, who styled a poncho with knee-high boots and an embellished fedora. Burberry Prorsum and Issey Miyake played with length and volume to lend interest to their over-the-top toppers. Pair one with a sleek, streamlined outfit to avoid evoking a bit player at the O.K. Corral.

Associated Graphic
















The Globe and Mail contacted police departments across the country and asked if they document interactions with community members, often called carding or street checks. As Kristy Hoffman and Patrick White discovered, the practice is common and mostly unregulated, and data collected are frequently kept indefinitely
Tuesday, August 18, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A6

Total street checks (2014) Street checks per capita (2014) Years records retained Purpose of checks Procedure of checks

Abbotsford Police Department

586 0.40% Not tracked

"[In short] trying to determine what [someone is] doing and why they're doing it," said Constable Ian MacDonald, Abbotsford Police Department's public information officer.

No formal procedure. "We don't have [a] specific policy. ... I would say that falls somewhere within discretion," said Constable MacDonald.

Calgary Police Service

Refused to disclose Refused to disclose Refused to disclose Refused to disclose Refused to disclose. No formal procedure.

Durham Region Police Service

Refused to disclose Refused to disclose Refused to disclose "There are many different types," said Dave Selby of corporate communications at the Durham Region Police Service.

"Well, every situation is unique and different," said Mr. Selby.

Edmonton Police Service

Refused to disclose Refused to disclose Refused to disclose

"A first-person account to document the who, what, why, when and where about a person a police officer is dealing with in relation to legitimate police related duties," said Edmonton police spokeswoman Patrycia Thenu.

No formal procedure. "A Street Check Report may ... be submitted as a consequence of a casual conversation with a citizen where the citizen is voluntarily providing information and a police file is not required," said Ms. Thenu in an e-mail. "The citizen is not under detention and can walk away at any time."

Fredericton Police Force

Refused to disclose Refused to disclose Refused to disclose "We conduct streets as they related to suspicious activity," said Fredericton Police Force spokeswoman Alycia Bartlett in an e-mail.

Refused to disclose whether a formal procedure exists. "We do not ask for identification unless there are probable grounds for arrest or detention," said Ms. Bartlett.

Halifax Regional Police

6,798 1.70% Indefinitely "Mainly it's an intelligence tool. It allows officers to keep track and record their interactions with known criminals," said Constable Pierre Bourdages, Halifax Regional Police's public information officer.

No formal procedure. Constable Bourdages provided information about when a street check is submitted and when a street check is not submitted, but said nothing about what procedure guides the check itself when asked.

Kingston Police Force

1,906 1.50%

Not tracked "The purpose of contact cards is [as] an investigative tool," said Kingston Police Force Chief Gilles Larochelle.

No formal procedure. "When you're talking to an individual, it's like anything else. We encourage our officers to give a reasonable explanation as to why you've stopped that individual and you want his or her information," said Chief Larochelle.

Medicine Hat Police Service

760 1.30% 5

"A street check would be to record suspicious activity or unusual activity in a ... specific area," said Medicine Hat Police Service Chief Andy McGrogan.

No formal procedure. "I don't know the procedure. They just stop and ask for what they're doing in the area, you know; we're allowed to talk to people," said Chief McGrogan.

Service de police de la Ville de Montréal

10,735 0.70% Not tracked "To gather information," said Commander Ian Lafrenière, communication and media relations officer for Service de police de la Ville de Montréal.

No formal procedure. "Now those routine check reports are all reviewed to avoid information that could cause a prejudice," said Commander Lafrenière.

Moose Jaw Police Service

46 0.10% Indefinitely

"It would be simply just a stop and a discussion and a determination of what is going on," said Moose Jaw Police Service Chief Rick Bourassa.

No formal procedure. "There's no specific procedure that we have in place," said Chief Bourassa.

Royal Newfoundland Constabulary

0 0.00% Not tracked

"The idea behind the traffic safety check is we're making sure that the driver of that motor vehicle has all the proper documentation," said Constable Steve Curnew, Royal Newfoundland Constabulary's media relations officer. NOTE: He said the RNC does not do street checks, carding etc., and the closest thing they have is traffic stops.

No formal procedure. "If an officer is patrolling and comes across something they deem to be a bit suspicious, they'll certainly stop and talk to that individual in preventative policing, but it's certainly not something that we have a record or keep track of," said Constable Curnew.

Ottawa Police Service

4,405 0.50% Indefinitely "It's a key tool for us to gather information, collect data towards a goal of keeping communities safe," said Ottawa Police Service Chief Charles Bordeleau. "We understand there's a balance here around respecting people's rights."

No formal procedure. Left to officer discretion. Information is submitted to the Versadex records management system through an in-car database. Analysts assess the data for high-value intelligence. Formal procedure is forthcoming.

Peel Regional Police

14,193 1.09% Indefinitely

"To record police interactions with individuals who are seen in circumstances that are suspicious," said Peel Regional Police Chief Jennifer Evans.

Formal procedure in place. Peel officers have several specific conditions governing when they can start a street check, but there are no precise details on how they must be conducted. The policy for how long records are kept is under review.

Prince Albert Police Service

221 0.60% Indefinitely "The official purpose, I suppose, would be just to sort of document ... the location and activity of people that we know that are in a highrisk lifestyle," said Prince Albert Police Service Chief Troy Cooper.

No formal procedure. "We don't have a formal process here. ... It's interactions with the public that [officers] decide to document," said Chief Cooper.

Saskatoon Police Service

4,475 2.00% 10 "To talk to people, ask questions under suspicious circumstances and record that information," said Saskatoon Police Chief Clive Weighill. "It may lead to someone who's committed a crime or deter people from committing crimes."

No formal procedure

Toronto Police Service

11,202 0.40% Indefinitely "Service members must get to know the neighbourhoods they serve and they must be able to enter into conversations with residents of these neighbourhoods in order to provide effective service," reads the internal TPS procedure for community engagements, which was publicly released earlier this year and is now under review. "They must also be able to gather and retain material information."

Formal procedure in place. "Service members may only initiate and record Community Engagements that serve a valid public safety purpose," according to the internal TPS procedure. "During all Community Engagements [officers] shall respect and uphold the person's right to leave," "not allow personal bias to impact the exercise of discretion" and "conduct themselves in a lawful, ethical, bias-free, and professional manner."

Vancouver Police Department

7,891 1.30% Indefinitely

"To document for intelligence purposes any interaction with residents where an officer's suspicions are raised but where there is no evidence of a specific crime," said Constable Brian Montague, media spokesman for the Vancouver Police Department.

No formal procedure. Officer's discretion

Victoria Police Department

Refused to disclose Refused to disclose Refused to disclose

"When there is reason to suspect that a person has been involved in suspicious circumstances, a formal 'street check' may be completed and added to the police records system at the officer's discretion," said Victoria Police Department Chief Constable Frank Elsner in a written statement to The Globe and Mail.

No formal procedure. "We have no policy or practice in effect that says 'officers will conduct random street checks,'" said Constable Elsner in a written statement to The Globe and Mail.

Waterloo Regional Police Service

Refused to disclose Refused to disclose 6 "The official purpose is really tied to an intelligence-led model, where we track and monitor particularly suspicious behaviour of vehicle and/or persons or people known to be tied to criminal organizations. It's around developing an intelligence tool," said Waterloo Regional Police Service Chief Bryan Larkin.

No formal procedure. "We don't actually have a procedure. We have a report of general occurrences, and reports and note-taking procedure," said Chief Larkin.

Windsor Police Service

953 0.50% Indefinitely

"The purpose is as a crime prevention and an investigative tool," said Windsor Police Service Chief Al Frederick.

No formal procedure. "We record a street check ... in some type of circumstance that lends itself to an investigation now or into the future," said Chief Frederick.

Winnipeg Police Service

Refused to disclose Refused to disclose Refused to disclose Refused to disclose Refused to disclose

Inside the gates of the leprosy colony that thousands call their home
Tuesday, August 18, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A1

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL -- Nivaldo Farias was 19, a trombone player with a scholarship to a national music school in Rio de Janeiro, when he noticed a big red spot on his chest.

It was 1965. The doctor told him the spot - and another near his shoulder blade - was leprosy.

And that he must depart, immediately, for the Curupaiti Hospital, here in what was then the countryside, to live in isolation with other lepers. Forever.

"It felt like a life sentence," recalls Mr. Farias. "Actually, no. A death sentence."

Back then, Brazil, like most countries in the world, isolated people infected with leprosy in dozens of colonies like this one, which stood on a hill behind iron gates and a thicket of palm trees.

The isolation policy had not changed back in 1940, when a treatment for leprosy was discovered, or when the disease was declared fully curable in 1981, and in fact continued until 1986.

People such as Mr. Farias were interned for so long that even when they were finally given permission to leave, they didn't go.

"Back when the gates were barred, we dreamed of going outside," Mr. Farias, now 70, recalled in a recent conversation on a bench outside the ward where he still lives. "But once they were unlocked, we didn't want to go out any more. We were like birds: You open the cage but they don't fly away."

And so a community of 3,500 people still lives at Curupaiti today. Only three of them have leprosy. Brazil still has a raging leprosy problem - 40,000 new cases a year - but nearly all of those people are treated as outpatients. Only a few suffer such acute complications they must be hospitalized here.

The rest of the people living in Curupaiti - and in other former colonies dotted around the country - are those who could never go home, and the children of people who were once interned who managed to reunite with their parents when the forced isolation ended.

The city has grown out to surround the bottom of the hill today, but Curupaiti endures atop it, a self-contained community that is at once ghostly and cheerful. The government spends almost nothing to run or maintain it, since there are so few people who need leprosy treatment, and except for a pavilion renovated with the help of a charity, the hospital is dilapidated.

Thirty patients live in the renovated ward; their now-treated leprosy left them with such severe complications that they require full-time care. Thirty-five more live in small dormitory rooms, with the assistance of staff experienced in managing their fragile limbs and tissue. The place is badly understaffed, but those who have sought out this strange milieu go about their jobs with a gentle cheerfulness.

The state government keeps promising that the hospital itself will be reincarnated as a new specialty centre, but plan after plan gets scrapped, as if no one can quite imagine repurposing the leper colony.

In 2007, the Brazilian government apologized for the isolation policy and awarded compensation (a monthly payment of about $600) to all those who were interned. Five years ago, the state government gave title of 200 of the houses to former patients of the hospital, who had been living in them for decades, and a further 100 to other longtime occupants, most of them children who had once been forcibly separated from their parents.

Today, a favela under the control of drug traffickers has crept up the hillside all the way to the edge of the hospital, creating a new sense of day-to-day anxiety in a place that once had, at least, a sort of bucolic security going for it.

When the compensation plan was announced, the Movement for the Reintegration of People Affected by Leprosy (known by its Portuguese acronym MORHAN) tracked down more than 10,000 people who had once been interned; two-thirds of those once isolated had left. But many did not go back home, instead setting off alone to build new lives, says Artur Custodio, the organization's director.

Some could not find their families - particularly those who had been taken when they were young, from far away (the hospital's record-keeping could charitably be described as slack) - while some families, embarrassed, cut ties. Other ex-patients did not believe they would be welcome back home.

Margarita Silva was interned here in 1979. She was 45, and had eight children, the youngest just six years old, when the painful bumps on her skin were diagnosed as leprosy. Seven years after she was forced to the hospital, the wardens announced that she could leave, and she tried to go home. But her children had been scattered among relatives because her husband was epileptic and could not care for them.

There was no real place for her at home, she said - and ever since, she has lived in a room in a women's dorm with a narrow single bed, worn linoleum floor, a profusion of plastic flower arrangements and a small TV that blares telenovelas.

Adriene Mendonca, who has been director of the hospital for the past three years, says Ms. Silva's story is not as strange as it sounds: Many patients found that when they tried to go home, people edged away from them on sofas or refused to eat the food they had cooked. At the hospital, they felt as though they fit in - an idea the hospital staff had worked hard to cultivate. "It was like brainwashing that they did - 'Your place is here.' " And while some of the stigma of leprosy has abated (although not disappeared) they cannot contemplate leaving today.

"People who have been here for 50 years can't go home - how could they?" Ms. Mendonca asks.

She is mystified by the fact that Brazil kept isolating people long after there was treatment; she and Mr. Farias chalk it up to the twin effects of the military dictatorship that then ruled Brazil and the stigma of the disease.

When Mr. Farias was diagnosed, he managed to strike a deal with the doctors: He had only two months left at school before his final exams, and so he stayed in isolation in the infirmary and played his concert pieces across the room from the examiners.

The next day, he was sent to the colony - carrying his expensive imported trombone, which the school gave him since no one else would touch it.

Mr. Farias had lost sensation in 50 per cent of his body by that point, but he had no open lesions; even today, the residual effect of the disease on his body is not immediately apparent, the way it is for many of the other patients.

For hours each day, he kept his deadened hands bound to a square piece of wood with his fingers extended, so they would not begin to curl.

At the colony, he was put immediately to work. "They called it 'work therapy' - they took the people in the best shape and made them employees, in the administration or as the nurses, gardeners, security, barbers," he says - to fill the roles no one wanted to come from outside to do. Only the doctors and the cooks were from outside the colony; patients couldn't do the cooking because they could not feel when their skin touched the hot stoves.

Mr. Farias married a woman who was the sister and daughter of patients; they had a child and were given one of the small houses that dotted the grounds.

When the isolation policy ended, they stayed. "I didn't see a way to live outside. I had no job training, no connections. It's a jungle out there, and I had no training in how to survive in it.

How could I go out there?"

Associated Graphic

Former patient Tereza Alves dos Santos, 71, hugs a worker in her room in the Curupaiti Hospital, part of a former leprosy colony, in the Jacarepagua neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro.


Former patient Tereza Alves dos Santos is one of the 3,500 people who continue to live at the Curupaiti Hospital.


Toronto's Roberto Osuna continues to defy the odds against someone so young and inexperienced being able to thrive in such a pressure-packed job on the game's biggest stage
Friday, August 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S1

PHILADELPHIA -- Roberto Osuna's baptism by fire began on April 8 of this year at a chilly Yankee Stadium, when Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons called upon the then-unknown 20-year-old to make his Major League Baseball debut.

It was the second game of the season for the Blue Jays, and the first batter Osuna faced was Alex Rodriguez, the veteran New York Yankee slugger. It was the bottom of the eighth inning, the bases were loaded with one out and the Jays were trailing by one run.

The rookie proceeded to strike out a startled Rodriguez, who was left standing at the plate with his bat on his shoulder and a "Who is this kid?" expression on his face. Osuna then got the next batter, Stephen Drew, to fly out to right field to keep the game close.

It has continued in a similar fashion all season for the confident Osuna, who grew up dirt poor in Los Mochis, a coastal city in northern Mexico. His ability to throw a fastball with precision was his ticket out; in 2011, when he was only 16, he signed a $1.5million (U.S.) contract with Toronto. And for the Blue Jays, it has been money well spent.

Since that cold April evening in New York when Osuna flummoxed Rodriguez and became the youngest pitcher in franchise history to appear in a major-league game, the righthander has progressed to the point where he's now the Toronto closer. And he continues to defy the odds against someone so young and inexperienced being able to thrive in such a pressurepacked job on the game's biggest stage.

Not since 20-year-old Terry Forster earned 29 saves with the Chicago White Sox in 1972 has someone so young enjoyed the success that Osuna is having this season with Toronto. Before Forster there was Billy McCool, who saved 21 games at age 20 for the Cincinnati Reds in 1965. Osuna, with 14 saves, is third on that list.

As the Blue Jays head to California to play the Los Angeles Angels in a three-game series that begins Friday night, Osuna's poise while anchoring the back end of the bullpen continues to impress.

"Being 20 years old, and not just pitching in the big leagues but closing in the big leagues - and being successful at doing it - is putting him in a whole other category," marvelled LaTroy Hawkins, Osuna's teammate, who has witnessed a thing or two during his 21-year playing career. "It's incredible. He was in A-ball last year."

Osuna only settled into the closer's role in late June, after manager John Gibbons had found no other reliable options. The year began with another raw rookie, 20-year-old Miguel Castro, as the ninth-inning man. That didn't last, and Castro is now in Colorado, traded to the Rockies in the Troy Tulowitzki deal. Veteran Brett Cecil was given an audition, and he, too, didn't work out.

So Gibbons started handing the ball in high-leverage, late-inning situations to Osuna - almost by default - and the results have been extraordinary. Osuna has pitched in 52 games this season, and finished 26. He has an overall record of 1-4, an earned-run average of 1.98, and those 14 saves in only 15 opportunities. Among American League relievers, he is tied for sixth in innings pitched (54.2) and 11th in strikeouts (58).

And Osuna appears to be getting stronger as the season progresses. Over his last 262/3 innings pitched - a span of 26 appearances - he has fanned 37 batters.

Not bad for a player who was limited to just eight minor-league starts last season after recovering from Tommy John ligamentreplacement surgery.

Gibbons said he never thought he would be relying on a rookie closer in August as his team battles the Yankees for supremacy in the AL East.

"I don't know that it's ever happened before," Gibbons said.

"There's probably been some young ones, I don't know if they've been that young. And he's a guy coming off Tommy John, not too far removed from that. He came out of the fall league but he's really not pitched at high levels for any length of time.

"But we really didn't know what we had, either, as far as who was really going to do that role for us.

That was kind of up in the air."

Hawkins, 42, the oldest player in MLB this season, still chuckles at the recollection of his pitching debut. It was on April 29, 1995, in a starter's role with the Minnesota Twins against the Baltimore Orioles. Brady Anderson, the first batter Hawkins would face, hit a triple. Harold Baines would later connect on a first-inning home run. Hawkins would last all of 12/3 innings, surrendering seven runs off seven hits.

It wasn't until 2000 that Hawkins found his true calling as a dependable reliever, and he now has appeared in more 1,000 MLB games, with 127 saves to his credit.

In Osuna, Hawkins sees somebody who used baseball as a means of escaping a tough upbringing. Osuna had to quit school at age 12 to work in order to help support his family. During the day he worked in farm fields, harvesting potatoes and tomatoes, and at night he pursued his love of baseball, learning how to pitch.

At 16, Osuna turned pro in the Mexican League, where his dad pitched for 22 years. His uncle, Antonio Osuna, was also a pitcher who played more than 400 major-league games over 11 seasons with five different clubs.

"I had to do a lot of things [while growing up], but it's part of my life, part of everything," Osuna said. "It was what I had to do in my life."

Hawkins was raised in Gary, Ind., once the murder capital of the United States. His half-brother is still serving a 27-year sentence for his role in a carjacking and the rape of a 19-year-old woman.

"I just sent him a card," Hawkins said. "He's turning 40 on the 22nd."

Hawkins believes his upbringing helped prepare him for the rigours of pro baseball, a scenario that he thinks is also benefitting Osuna as adapts to his high-pressure role as a closer.

"I've always said, guys who are from rough areas, they're comfortable being uncomfortable," Hawkins said. "When you're walking around in your neighbourhood, you don't walk around 'la la la la la la la' with your head in the clouds. You're aware of your surroundings.

"Pitching in the big leagues is nothing when compared to living where I did. Trying to live and survive in the inner city ... that's stress."

When he signed with the Blue Jays and moved to Florida to start playing in the minor leagues, Osuna did not speak a word of English.

"I remember my second day in Florida. one of the pitching coaches asked me what was my name," Osuna said. "And I said, 'Okay.' That was my answer because that's all I heard everybody saying - okay, okay."

Believing it was important to learn the language in order to succeed in baseball, Osuna doubled up on the English-speaking courses he and some of his teammates enrolled in while in Florida. Today he speaks the language almost flawlessly.

With the season winding down and the games taking on added meaning as the Blue Jays vie for their first postseason appearance in 21 years, the pressure will only grow for Osuna. He says he can handle it.

I take the ninth inning like it's the sixth or seventh inning," he said. "I don't think about if it's a one-run lead or who I'm going to face. I just try to make a good pitch, and that's it."

Associated Graphic

Roberto Osuna, now 20, signed with the Toronto Blue Jays when he was only 16 years old.


Land freeze
Foreign buyers are locking up development properties in Vancouver, draining the market of buildable tracts
Saturday, August 15, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S4

Wealthy buyers who are treating the Lower Mainland real estate market like one giant casino are proving to be a major obstacle for local developers trying to fulfill the city's goal of providing more housing at an affordable price.

First-time buyers aren't the only ones feeling the squeeze from the investor market. Marcon Developments Ltd. has been building housing for 30 years and the company's development manager says speculators backed by foreign money are making it increasingly difficult to develop market housing that is relatively affordable.

They're reducing the supply and driving prices by sitting on chunks of properties with no immediate intention to develop. As we've seen lately, these wealthy speculators buy up houses as land assemblies. They then sell to a developer for top dollar. And that cost is getting passed on to the consumer.

"Foreign developer groups are getting especially aggressive on land purchase prices," Nic Paolella, development manager for Marcon, said. "They are pushing prices to a place where developers are not able to make the project economically viable. If we are talking about creating more housing supply, at a more affordable threshold, there is less of it to do that on.

"In the last 18 months, the market has seen a lot of Chinese money coming in, with a firsttime developer setting up shop and basically willing to pay a lot more than what other groups are finding realistic, because some of these so-called developers are doing it just to park capital. Very little of this land that's bought comes to fruition as a development. They are purchasing for reasons other than making [housing that is as] affordable as possible.

"They are just holding land. We are thinking of capital growth - they are thinking of capital preservation. That can be seen all over Vancouver."

In Marpole, Marcon is launching presales for Park & Metro, which is a 73-unit, low-rise, twobuilding complex designed to merge sensitively with the singlefamily housing that surrounds it.

The complex contains many two- and three-bedroom units that are in huge demand since families who can't afford detached housing are now looking to condo units. Mr. Paolella says that, because of the city's plan to densify the area, there's plenty more opportunity in Marpole, but a big challenge is competing with the new developers. As well, there's a limited supply of land.

"I think it's very fair to say that around Marpole and the Cambie Corridor the holding of land is constraining our supply of housing."

This isn't a new trend for developers, but it is getting more difficult because speculators are more sophisticated. Hani Lammam, executive vice-president for big developer Cressey Development, says the new investor is often well versed in city plans, so they know about any possible upzoning - which is akin to mining for gold.

"It's happening everywhere," Mr. Lammam, who's dealt with speculators his entire career, says.

"The development hot spots are pretty obvious - everybody knows where the next wave of development is going to happen because the access to information is so easy."

As a result, these speculators are getting better at it. So they are being more aggressive and buying the land first.

"Cambie Corridor is a perfect example. The prices there are astronomical. To think, these are single-family homes - teardowns - selling for $4- or $5-million, is absurd. If you look back five years, those owners would have had a hard time getting over $1-million.

"What people don't appreciate is that the majority of developers buy property to develop right away. We don't speculate on property. We only buy if we know what the development potential is. The land speculators are longterm holders of undeveloped land. We just don't have enough capital to park money somewhere."

A more recent example is the Burritt Bros. property at the corner of Main Street and E. 20th Avenue, which includes Bean Around the World coffee shop.

Central and already zoned for residential mixed use, it was a hugely attractive site for any residential developer. Everybody wanted it. But the site was reportedly sold to a young offshore buyer who drove the bidding to a record price for that area, upwards of $11-million. Mr. Lammam, who was bidding on the property along with several other local developers, says the buyer paid way too much, but he could probably afford it. He says a lot of the new wave of buyers are people with more money than experience. Many of them don't even know that they'll have to pay community amenity contributions to the city on top of the price. Those contributions, for a community centre, parkland, or whatever the neighbourhood needs, can add up. If they discover the numbers won't make sense, that's when they sit on the property until prices go up.

"In this case, there was a group of people who understood the market, and then there was this outlier. Absolutely he paid too much.

"It's not because he's smarter, it's because the less information you have, the more aggressive you can be. That site is not simple. It's going to be a lengthy process."

The Vancouver real estate market is strong, but not a sure thing.

The land gamblers have sometimes lost. Rezoning around Cambie hasn't been as extensive as initially expected, Mr. Paolella says.

"There are people that got burnt for sure. That's happening now."

And Main Street is still a tricky market, Mr. Lammam says.

"If it was easy money we would be doing it," he says. "The gamble is that the market doesn't go up.

Or, you can't rezone the property, or the demand is not going to move east as quickly as we think it is. Main Street is the perfect example. I know I can sell Cambie Street right now for $800 or $900 a square foot, but Main Street is a millennial demographic. They don't have any money."

It's not only offshore speculators driving prices. Developer Daniel Boffo had to pay top dollar to a local man in North Vancouver who'd assembled land around the hugely desirable Edgemont neighbourhood.

"In that scenario, it was a local real estate guy that was able to make a buck by doing that. He knew the plan and where it was going to go. He was creative in putting together an assembly that would be desirable for a developer to pick up. It's low risk," Mr. Boffo says.

He had also bid on the Burritt Bros. property on Main Street.

"There's a lot more money coming from overseas. And I think why they like land is it allows them to place a large amount of funds in one spot. It makes it simpler from their end, where they are looking to relocate some of their capital. Unfortunately, it makes it hard for us.

"With all the other stresses that the industry faces - as well as tackling affordability - it's coming more to the surface now. But ultimately, if costs go up on land, and there's not enough of a return to make it viable, it does get passed on to the consumer."

Boffo Properties supplies both market and non-market housing.

Mr. Boffo believes that the rash of speculation is a byproduct of the city's growth, and a challenge for city hall as well.

"It's a big topic, a big can of worms. That's [the city's] biggest challenge, in trying to grow communities responsibly and sustainably. There's a lot of change that's happened and that will continue to happen."

Associated Graphic

Developers claim that overseas investors are buying up Vancouver real estate and sitting on it rather than developing it.


Renderings of Park & Metro, a 73-unit, low-rise, two-building complex by Marcon Developments Ltd. in Marpole.

Why U.S. soldiers fought gunman instead of fleeing danger
Monday, August 24, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A1

U.S. airman Spencer Stone, one of three Americans who took down a suspected terrorist on a Paris-bound high-speed train, said he and his friends were reacting, not thinking, when they hurled themselves at the gunman.

Mr. Stone was waking from a deep sleep on Friday when the commotion began. There was a gunshot and the sound of shattering glass. He turned around and saw a man holding an AK-47.

"Alek [Skarlatos] was sitting next to me. ... Alek just hit me on the shoulder and said, 'Let's go,' " Mr. Stone, 23, said at a press conference Sunday, his arm in a sling and his right eye bloodshot.

Mr. Stone and his friends chose to fight, not flee, raising the question: What is it that causes some people to stare down danger and others to run from it?

This is something Frank Farley, a professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, has studied for more than 40 years. Academics know quite a bit about the impulse to avoid danger, he said.

"[It's] the bystander effect, where people will stand by and do nothing. There are various theories of why this happens," Prof. Farley said. "The diffusion of responsibility. Somebody else will do it. Somebody else will take this guy down. I'll hide under the chair."

You see this in cases where a person is assaulted in public and no one steps in. What's interesting, he said, is that the evidence suggests that in smaller groups, people are more likely to intervene and help.

The trio who demonstrated the fight reflex on the train are now being lauded as heroes.

"When most of us would run away, Spencer, Alek and Anthony [Sadler] ran into the line of fire, saying 'Let's go.' Those words changed the fate of many," U.S. Ambassador Jane Hartley said.

Those with hero personalities such as the three American passengers typically have two common traits, said Prof. Farley.

"One is altruism, or generosity. I call it the G factor. That there's something beyond just yourself that's motivating you."

The other is a natural tendency toward risk-taking. "If you are deeply risk averse, you're unlikely to take the risk of a heroic act in the face of gun fire," he said.

Major Michael Boire, a history professor at the Royal Military College of Canada, had a similar take.

"People fall into two categories. Lions or sheep. ... There are far more lambs. People flee from danger. There [is] only a minority of people who turn around and face danger head on."

During the tense confrontation on Friday, Mr. Stone sprinted at the man and tackled him to the ground while Mr. Skarlatos, a 22year-old member of the National Guard, grabbed the gun.

"I put him in a chokehold.

[The gunman] just kept pulling out more weapons," including a handgun and a box cutter. Mr. Stone was slashed with the knife, but eventually was able to subdue him.

The pair's other friend, Mr. Sadler, a 23-year-old university student, along with a British passenger tied up the suspect, who has since been identified as Moroccan Ayoub El-Khazzani.

The 26 year old is being questioned by French counterterrorism police outside Paris. French and Spanish authorities say Mr. El-Khazzani is an Islamic extremist who may have spent time in Syria. Mr. El-Khazzani's lawyer said on Sunday that Mr. El-Khazzani was homeless and trying to rob passengers on the train to feed himself.

One of the Americans said there wasn't much thought behind the men's actions: "It wasn't really a conscious decision. We just kind of acted," said Mr. Skarlatos, 22, a member of the National Guard who had just returned from a tour of Afghanistan. "There wasn't much thinking going on. At least on my end, I don't know about them."

"No, not at all," Mr. Stone agreed.

Mr. Stone is also being credited with saving the life of a French-American teacher, who was wounded in the neck with a gunshot wound. Mr. Stone described matter-of-factly that he "just stuck two of my fingers in [the wound] and found what I thought to be the artery, pushed down and the bleeding stopped." He said he kept the position until paramedics arrived, apparently in Arras.

It's not surprising, Mr. Farley said, that two of the Americans are soldiers, given that the type of people who voluntarily join the military have a higher risk tolerance.

Maj. Boire, who is also a rugby coach, said if it had been a train full of athletes the same thing could have happened.

For the particular men on the train, Maj. Boire said, the military training obviously came into play.

"The very first time you put on a uniform, this starts with basic training," he said. "That lesson is hammered into us over and over again: Do something.

Don't just stare. Do something.

Get on with it. Move."

Military exercises are built around this premise. Soldiers are given problems in high-pressure situations and leaders are expected to step forward and deal with them.

"Think of that guy on the train. He didn't have much time to think of a plan. 'Should I go left or right. ... Is this guy alone? Is his partner behind me? Are there more of them?

Does he have a bomb?' He just got on with it," said Maj. Boire.

David Hartley, an associate dean of business at Clarion University in Pennsylvania who studies leadership courage - and who is a retired from the special forces - said the rash of school shootings in the United States has forced regular people to consider how they would react in these types of extreme, terror situations.

"We've matured beyond hiding under your desk," he said. "You make a conscious choice under pressure whether you're going to engage or hide. And in most cases, engaging is the way to win that kind of confrontation or scenario."

Mr. Hartley added the men's friendship likely played a role.

"You can transcend a whole lot of fear when you're defending your family," he said.

Prof. Farley said if the three men had just been strangers on a train, the outcome could have been different. "They're saving the lives of their mates. This could be a factor here. I've got your back. You know you can trust the other person."

Mr. Sadler, Mr. Stone and Mr. Skarlatos grew up together in California. Asked if there were any lessons to be gained from the near tragedy, Mr. Sadler, a university student, praised his childhood friends. The three were on a vacation together in Europe.

"Do something," he said. "Hiding, or sitting back, is not going to accomplish anything. And the gunman would've been successful if my friend Spencer had not gotten up. So I just want that lesson to be learned going forward, in times of, like, terror like that, please do something.

Don't just stand by and watch."

Associated Graphic

Above, from left: Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos, who helped subdue a gunman on a high-speed train on Friday, receive medals from the Fredric Leturque, mayor of Arras, the town where the suspect was arrested. Spencer Stone, right, the third American citizen involved in the encounter, was the first to engage the gunman, sustaining injuries to his neck and hand.


Clockwise, from top left: A shrine created to honour those killed on Sept. 11, 2001, in the crash of United Flight 93; RCMP officers approach the bus where Vincent Li attacked and killed fellow passenger Tim McLean on July 30, 2008; Richard Reid was thwarted in his attempt to blow up American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris to Miami; Mr. Reed's bomb was concealed in the heel of his shoe.


Nothing funny about it
Three years ago, Bill C-11 transformed Canada's political comedy landscape - at least on paper. Michael Fraiman reports on the satire boom that wasn't, and where homegrown humour goes from here
Saturday, August 22, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R6

On May 14, 2013, the day after Canadian astronaut-singer Chris Hadfield returned to Earth, a brief article was uploaded by The Beaverton, a Canadian fakenews site styled after The Onion in the United States: "Hadfield comes home to $1.37-million Rogers phone bill." In a good month, The Beaverton averages 4,000 readers; the Hadfield article drew more than 400,000.

One of those was Jeff Detsky, a TV writer whose credits include Orphan Black and Seed. "I saw a lot of people post it [on Facebook]," Detsky recalls. "And not just my comedy friends. I think my uncle maybe posted the link.

That let me know the site had some reach beyond the usual social-media echo chamber."

It cemented a thought that had been brewing in Detsky's mind for some time: This website would make great TV.

He e-mailed The Beaverton's editor, Luke Gordon Field, who had been writing for the Toronto-based site in his spare time for most of its five-year life. By summer 2014, the duo began pitching TV producers on the idea - a cross between Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update" and the short-lived Onion News Network TV show. They wanted it to be darker and riskier than Canada's current comedy roster, on par with the biting social satire of Amy Schumer and John Oliver.

"There's interest in Canadian comedy and satire that hasn't been there for a while," Gordon Field says. "There are jokes to be made that are less about Canada and more for Canadians."

The duo partnered with Pier 21 Films in Toronto before finding a home on the Comedy Network, where executives fast-tracked the show through preproduction, announcing completion of a pilot episode this past July.

"There was a hunger for smart, political, social-satire comedy," Detsky recalls. "With our network executives, they keep saying, 'Five years ago, we couldn't have done this.' " Actually, they couldn't have done this even three years ago.

This November will mark the third anniversary of the controversial Bill C-11, the Copyright Modernization Act. While opposition parties and media critics unanimously opposed it for its extreme and inflexible restrictions on digital locks, the bill also granted an unprecedented legal defence for parody artists.

"Parody and satire may be the only thing that everybody agreed on," commercial lawyer Grace Westcott wrote for PEN Canada in 2012. "And about bloody time."

With regards to copyright infringement, Canadian law has historically placed the burden of proof on defendants - they would be guilty until proven innocent, forced to convince a judge that their claims were knowingly untrue and they were, in fact, just kidding. After Mary Walsh from This Hour Has 22 Minutes insinuated that Preston Manning originally wrote his speeches in German, the Reform Party threatened to sue. "Had they followed through," Rebecca Addelman wrote later in The Walrus, "it would have been up to Walsh and her producers to prove what they implied was true - that Preston Manning was a fascist."

Bill C-11 changed all that - at least on paper - by opening Canada up to a whole new world of humour. Suddenly, satirists stood on firmer ground. Networks could loosen their collars. The danger had subsided; the law was on their side.

And yet, three years later, Canadian viewers would be forgiven for not noticing even the slightest change.

'People are too afraid' In any discussion about homegrown political satire, two shows are invariably named: 22 Minutes and its offspring, Rick Mercer Report. The former is known mostly for goofball gags, such as the kind of deadpan interviews that made Nathan Fielder famous (at least after he moved to the United States), while Mercer has spent the past decade declawing himself by hobnobbing with politicians.

Canadian satirists have enjoyed more success beyond TV, but reach significantly smaller audiences. The CBC Radio show This Is That pushes boundaries with a drier wit than most Canadian programs, and the Twitter handle Stats Canada has grown so successful that it spawned a book in October, 2013. But these exceptions prove the rule: When the CBC launched its own satirical fake-news website last year, called Punchline, it landed with a thud. Their jokes aren't even really jokes, but rather acknowledgments of Canadian stereotypes: "Canada to give up, replace flag with Tim Hortons logo," "Man who's never left Canada declares country best place on Earth."

"Not to shit on our Canadian competition out there, but they exist for a very different audience," Gordon Field says.

"They're shows that came up in the old guard of not having any satire laws here." He envisions The Beaverton show as something different: The pilot sharply parodies both CBC's The National and VICE, drawing blood as ruthlessly as the website does. (See such recent headlines as: "Canadians caught stealing American Netflix to be punished with 3-year Bell contract" or "Government reassures Muslim Canadians they will not be treated like aboriginals.")

"To the [Comedy Network's] credit, they have pushed to keep a lot of the darker, more biting stuff in," Detsky says. "They're smart. They know that middleof-the-road satire that doesn't bite is just not gonna move the needle."

That sentiment is being echoed across the country's amateur comedy circuit. In Vancouver, The Syrup Trap is emerging as a rival fake-news website that skews more bizarre (one of their most popular articles is a listicle, "Canada's 13 Hottest Members of Parliament" - 10 of whom are Justin Trudeau). They're also enjoying a growth spurt right now, as their debut print magazine appears in this summer's edition of Geist. "I've had to put any other career aspirations on hold," says Nick Zarzycki, The Syrup Trap's editor. "There is an enthusiasm for comedy in Vancouver that a lot of people told me was not around five years ago."

The Syrup Trap, like The Beaverton, has flourished online, primarily across social media.

This doesn't surprise Tim Progosh, the creator of the Canadian Comedy Awards; he's seen unrelenting growth in Canadian Webbased comedy in the past decade, likely because that's the one field where comedians can bypass rigid network restrictions and funding structures.

For example, he says, networks demand prohibitively expensive libel insurance to protect them from this country's once-draconian copyright laws. "We're more risk-averse here. That's why the law hasn't had the impact it should have had," Progosh says.

"People are too afraid. If you do something, if you cross a line, you're not gonna work again."

Laszlo Barna, president of Pier 21 Films and a producer on The Beaverton show, agrees that while the laws have changed, networks' precautions haven't.

"Copyright is taken so seriously now that the shirts the actors wear, the patterns on the sofa, the cups in front of them all have to be cleared," he says.

Because the status quo has been so precautionary for so long, insurers and lawyers are hesitant.

"There's no precedent," he adds. "No one's quite sure what are the limits."

So Canadians have sat down patiently each night, quietly watching reruns of Royal Canadian Air Farce and bolder American shows. Homegrown sketch troupes peak, then disappear.

Toothless sitcoms have dominated the market. No one wants to rock the boat, even though we're all wearing new life jackets.

"Internally, we wanted to set up new precedents with these laws," says Gordon Field. "The laws have not been tested yet; we might be the test case. Who knows?"

Associated Graphic

The United States has such venerable institutions as The Daily Show and Saturday Night Live, which has segments that include the satirical news show Weekend Update, above, but Canada's current comedy is rarely on par. NBC

News spoof television show This Hour Has 22 Minutes is arguably known more for its goofball gags than for its biting satire.

Monday, August 24, 2015


A story in today's Arts section on political satire incorrectly said that The Beaverton comedy news site gets 4,000 hits per month. In fact, it is 400,000.

Vita Centre provides path for teenage mothers
Saturday, August 15, 2015 – Print Edition, Page M1


This is the second in a four-part series examining support programs and services for lower-income residents in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon - the cities and towns of Peel Region more known for their affluent middle and upper classes than a growing population who live in poverty.

When Gabrielle Biggers was admitted to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, she thought she knew what the results of the initial medical screening would show.

She knew she'd been using "bad drugs," and things had gotten so out of control that her father had finally packed her in the car and driven her into the city from Mississauga for treatment.

But then the results of the pregnancy test came back - positive.

Ms. Biggers was just 15 at the time, but she'd been skipping school and increasingly using drugs and alcohol.

"I didn't have a care in the world," she says. "My future was a big, black blank." Imagining a future as a parent was a different story. She cut out the drugs immediately and started making plans to keep her daughter Genna, who was born healthy and is now two years old.

One of the first steps was finding a way to finish high school, so when Ms. Biggers, now 18, was about seven months' pregnant, she started the Vita Centre's Parenting and Catholic Education("PACE) program.

Located in an unassuming strip mall just off Hurontario Street in Mississauga, the Vita Centre is largely tucked out of sight, around the corner of the complex.

Inside, the centre looks equally nondescript at first, with little but a reception desk in the entranceway. But down a hallway around the corner, the child-minding area is strewn with toys and the "Care Closet" donation room houses overflowing bins of baby clothes, formula and supplies next to boxes of diapers stacked to the ceiling.

During the school year, up to 15 young mothers attend an alternative high school program in a small classroom at the centre, while volunteers look after the students' children just outside.

The centre runs parenting classes, counselling sessions and events where parents aged 15-30 can connect, but executive director Deborah Thomson says the realities of working in the Region of Peel mean most of the work is done outside the office.

Split between the denser cities of Mississauga and Brampton and the rural area of Caledon, Peel now has a population of 1.35 million, making it the largest municipality in Ontario after Toronto.

And reaching out to the growing number of vulnerable residents who live in the region's expanding low-income neighbourhoods is a challenge for service providers such as the Vita Centre. A key part of the centre's mission is the one-on-one counselling service, which focuses on developing self-reliance and resilience among young parents. The hope, Ms. Thomson says, is that the young parents will gain the skills they need to stop the cycle of poverty - nearly everyone they work with is "living at or on the cusp of poverty."

The staff at the centre believes so strongly in the effectiveness of tackling the issues underlying poverty through counselling that they've added a sense of incentive to the sessions. Clients get access to Care Closet items only after they've committed to at least three meetings with a counsellor.

But with just one office in Mississauga and a smaller satellite location in central Brampton, it's not easy for the centre to get the word out to everyone in Peel, where the proportion of residents who live in a low-income neighbourhood rose from two per cent to 50 per cent between 1980 and 2010, according to University of Toronto research.

"We're really driven by the fact that we hope that we're able to assist the clients with whatever is bothering them before it escalates - before it becomes a major problem not only for them but also for the [health-care] system," Ms. Thomson says.

The three counsellors on staff often have heavy caseloads, and Ms. Thomson says finding the money to keep pace with the community's needs is always a concern. Peel Region provides some funding, but the centre gets the rest of its $850,000 budget through grants and fundraising.

For many of the Vita Centre's clients, who might not be able to access or pay for transportation, the network of highways that cross Caledon, Mississauga and Brampton can also be a barrier to reaching desperately needed services.

"Whenever we do anything, we have to think about, 'What's the bus route?' " Ms. Thomson says.

"What we've done to modify and help that is a lot of our counsellors do most of their work out in the community. We don't make the clients come here. We go meet them at the closest Tim Hortons or whatnot to their homes."

Some of the centre's clients, she points out, aren't even old enough to have a driver's licence, and navigating transit with a baby can be overwhelming for a new parent, making outreach work even more crucial.

Unlike in York Region to the east, the municipalities in Peel deal with transit separately. Mississauga and Brampton have their own systems, while the town of Caledon, in the northernmost part of Peel, has no system of its own.

Ms. Biggers was lucky: She lives close to the Vita Centre, and was able to manage taking the bus with a baby until she got her G2 licence earlier this year. For her, getting to the centre was crucial - for school as well as counselling sessions, which she says helped her become a much healthier parent.

Driving the highways between Mississauga and Brampton is often a given for Ms. Thomson, too, whether she's heading to a Vita Centre event or a meeting of the Peel Parenting Collective, a collaborative that researches issues facing parents in the region.

Diane Myers heads up the collective of 13 organizations involved with parents and children in Peel that is currently working on a project examining parental stress. The organizations target a diverse range of clients, but finding ways to reach people in Peel who are falling through the cracks is a universal struggle.

"Our challenge is to stop doing things that aren't working, and to try to figure out how to reach a population base - taking into account the vulnerable groups we've decided to make an effort at reaching better," Ms. Myers says.

Ms. Biggers almost slipped through the cracks once, but she says the Vita Centre helped her gain stability. She earned a parenting certificate and finished high school this year after transferring to a program in which she earned dual credits toward both a high school and college diploma.

She already has some money saved for Genna's education, and the future no longer seems like an empty void: In the fall, Ms. Biggers is starting a culinary management program in Barrie - she already has a job and daycare lined up, and she's getting her own place. Maybe, she says, she'll own her own restaurant one day.

"Literally, I've grown. I'm getting older, learning new stuff every day," she says.

While she says she still has struggles, she's ready to move forward.

"I have to be the best I can be for [Genna]," she says. "No turning back. I don't want to turn back."

Associated Graphic

Gabrielle Biggers, 18, left, with Vita Centre executive director Deborah Thomson. Biggers was able to get her life back on track with the help of Vita Centre after she gave birth to her daughter.


Finding offbeat ways to 'hack' Vancouver's housing market
Monday, August 17, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S1

VANCOUVER -- As it is for many in Vancouver, owning a house or condo for Cameron Gray was simply out of the question. But he didn't like the idea of standard alternatives either - renting an apartment or a laneway house or moving out to the suburbs.

So the 27-year-old musicianturned-entrepreneur, who describes himself as a hermit, was perfectly comfortable with his 55-square-foot solution: living in his 1981 Chevy camper van.

At least, until he came home from work one day to find his home gone, towed away for being parked too close to a driveway.

The experience prompted Mr. Gray to delve even further into offbeat options for housing, an effort, he says, to "hack" the housing market and stay true to his aversion to debt.

"People are throwing their lives away to pay for housing," he said.

According to a RBC report for spring 2015, an average 900square-foot condo in Vancouver cost $411,700. That mortgage would cost 39.6 per cent of median household income. Although that is much less expensive than buying a singledetached house, it is still above what experts say is the affordable housing threshold: 30 per cent.

For people like Mr. Gray, apartment living is still too big a sacrifice. They are steering clear of the affordable housing debate and finding creative ways to make a home for themselves.

Nathanael Lauster, a sociologist at UBC, studies people's housing choices and says housing ideals are contributing to the city's reputation as unaffordable.

"The reason Vancouver keeps showing up as unaffordable is because we use the singledetached house as the yardstick of what constitutes decent living," he said. "But if you're looking at apartment costs, things look a little different."

When Mr. Gray first considered a move to Vancouver from White Rock, he didn't like the mainstream options he saw.

"You either pay a lot of rent each month to someone you don't know or you pay a mortgage for 30 years and be constantly in debt and have that on your back all the time," he said.

In 2013, Mr. Gray bought a camper van from a friend for $3,000 and fitted it with all the amenities a musician would need: WiFi, recording equipment and a keyboard.

The space became his recording studio and home.

Mr. Gray cooked his meals on a stovetop and, as long as he hooked up the van to a water supply, he had a functioning sink and shower. His only housing cost: $126 per month on insurance.

For almost two years, Mr. Gray drove his van to a different parking spot in Vancouver every few weeks in a lifestyle he calls urban camping. He and other mobilehome dwellers do this because Vancouver bylaws prohibit the use of vehicles or trailers as living spaces unless they are in a trailer park.

This can make living in a vehicle challenging. Movable dwellings like Mr. Gray's camper van made up less than one per cent of metro Vancouver housing stock from 1991 to 2011, according to Statistics Canada.

But Mr. Gray knows all the best parking spots in the city - he was a delivery driver for seven years before he started pursuing a music career. One of his favourites spots is Columbia Street and 5th Avenue, an intersection in the industrial part of town.

Mr. Gray said he enjoyed the financial and physical freedom living in a van gave him. But having his home towed convinced him he needed to find a more stable housing situation.

He had recently landed a job as a bitcoin ATM attendant in the Waves Coffee House at Smithe and Howe streets and he saw a bright future in the currency. He wanted to create a shared space for the bitcoin community. But having to worry about whether he had a home to come back to at the end of every workday was starting to interfere with his business plans.

Mr. Gray found a collective house, called the Hen House, near the Commercial-Broadway SkyTrain station willing to take him and his van in.

People who live in collective housing take the roommate model one step further. With Vancouver's real estate prices showing no signs of falling any time soon, many in collective housing intend to live with their housemates for the long term. As a result, the interview process for a new housemate can be rigorous.

Housemate criteria vary from house to house, but can include lifestyle, hobbies, activism, demographics and diet.

The Hen House's eight members liked Mr. Gray enough to let him park in the alleyway and hook up his home to the house's water and power supply. In return, Mr. Gray cared for his housemate's chickens and the vegetable garden. He spent his nights in his van, but says the house provided him with a sense of community during the day - something he did not have when he was urban camping.

"Coming here really solved the isolation problem," he said.

"There are actually humans for me to come back to now."

But Mr. Gray's resourcefulness on housing doesn't mean he wouldn't like to live in something other than his van. His dream is to have just a little more.

Owning a 100-square-foot socalled tiny house would be ideal, he said.

"A tiny house would feel like a mansion compared to my van."

Back in 2013, when he bought his van, Mr. Gray also purchased a chassis with the intention of building a tiny house on it. That project is on hold for now - Mr. Gray said he's not ready for it just yet. But neither is the city.

Tiny houses look like shrunken versions of the iconic single-family home. Some even have wraparound porches. However, Vancouver bylaws forbid people from living in one if it's parked on a city street since it qualifies as a trailer. Many of the challenges Mr. Gray faces with his van would remain the same with a tiny house. But that has not stopped people's fascination with the tiny house trend. John McFarlane started a business building tiny houses three years ago, before the phenomenon hit Canadian mainstream media. The architect knew it was a risk.

"It was unproven. It was a maybe," he said. "And the answer is, people are totally happy living in small spaces."

Mr. McFarlane built five tiny houses last year. This year, he is on track to build 15. His company, Camera Buildings, sells tiny houses for anywhere from $40,000 to $70,000. Most of its customers live in the Lower Mainland. McFarlane is confident his company will do just fine after the novelty aspect of tiny houses fades. He says people will still want reasonably priced housing.

"If there were other opportunities for affordable housing, there'd still be a few people who would be into tiny houses, but they would consider other options," he said.

But critics of living in tiny houses and vans say people should not be forced to resort to live in accommodations the size of garden sheds. City Councillor Geoff Meggs, who sits on the city's housing affordability task force, said those are just temporary solutions.

"What kind of answer to the housing affordability problem is it to say you can live in a trailer?" he said. "I don't think it's a silver bullet."

Associated Graphic

Collective houses such as the Hen House near the Commercial-Broadway SkyTrain station are gaining popularity. For Cameron Gray, it solved the isolation problem he had when he lived in his camper van, below.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015 Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Few places conjure lottery-winning fantasies like the Maldives, 26 stunning Indian Ocean atolls where royals recharge and A-listers honeymoon in villas that cost thousands a night. But that's just one side of paradise
Special to The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, August 25, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L1

MALDIVES -- Sitting on the ground in the breezy seaside shade, women from Magoodhoo Village were weaving rolls of roof thatch from palm fronds and palm coir (handmade rope made from coconut fibres).

Watching from a swing jolie - the surprisingly relaxing net seats that are found throughout the Maldives - I asked a few questions about the thatch (bound for resort roofs). Then I took a long drink from one of the coconuts that strangers were constantly handing me.

"Yum," I said.

"Meeru," my new friend Mashoodh responded (which translates to "delicious"). The casual language lesson came as part of Mashoodh's offer to show my family around Magoodhoo, a small island of 600 people about 130 kilometres southwest of the Maldives capital, Malé.

Our walking tour took us from the women's waterfront work area to the rest of the village's highlights. Stops included the island's new six-room guesthouse, with its bright airy rooms and comfortable outdoor dining area, the school - where we checked out the Grade 10 marine biology class - the boat-building sheds, the mosques and three small stores.

Eventually we arrived at Mashoodh's home, where we were invited to join his family for a typical dinner of mashuni (spicy tuna and coconut), garudiya (fish soup) and barbecued fish. It was the perfect example of the kind of spontaneous Maldivian hospitality that would be legendary if only more people had the chance to experience village life.

Part of what makes the Maldives so fascinating is how little most people know about the small Islamic country of 345,000. The common perception is of a sun-kissed Indian Ocean paradise that caters to the well-heeled and honeymooning.

Until 2010, when the local tourism laws went into effect, the 105 secluded resorts were almost all outsiders ever saw of the Maldives. Villages were offlimits unless you were on a guided day excursion. But with the changing of laws, and the building of hundreds of guesthouses, travellers who don't mind going without beer, bacon and bikinis (except on councilapproved beaches) can now holiday for rates as low as $50 a night.

My question was: How do the two alternatives vary? Obviously a luxury resort is likely to be luxurious and a guesthouse option is going to be more affordable, but as I swung in my jolie, and tried to count how many different shades of blue shimmered in the lagoon stretching out in front of me, I wondered about the other differences.

Lavish resorts are scattered down the 960-kilometre length of the Maldives on small private islands of pared-down beauty: shady palms, white sand, iridescent lagoons, abundant reefs and blue sky.

At Per Aquum Niyama, my family checked out the luxury resort option and discovered our plush, lagoon-front bungalow was so well appointed it would be easy to spend an entire holiday wandering between our private infinity pool and giant outdoor bathtub while eating the free ice cream stocked in our freezer. But that would have meant missing out on the tranquil spa and the excellent dining options.

Instead, we struck out at each mealtime for one of Niyama's six restaurants - each one a minidestination in itself. For dinner we took a speedboat off-island to Edge restaurant. Seated over the water, I watched the moon rise while savouring the six-course tasting menu. Edge, like most resort restaurants, makes use of a few available local ingredients (fish and tropical fruit), but mainly the menu highlights imported international fare, which includes an excellent wine selection.

For activities, there's a range of water sports including guided snorkelling through the lagoon's unique rehabilitated coral gardens with the resident marine biologist, diving, sailing and jet skiing. While on land there's yoga, a well-stocked library, a games room and a glitzy underwater nightclub where you can boogie with the fishes.

Unlike the resorts, the locally owned guesthouses are found on inhabited or "local" islands. Mostly of new construction, the rooms run from basic to moderately luxurious and offer warm hospitality along with traditional homecooked meals.

Guests interested in staying on the more remote islands (where there may be only one or two guesthouses) need to realize they'll be visiting conservative Muslim communities that aren't accustomed to Westerners. Alcohol is illegal, women are often fully covered and the main entertainment runs to Quran-reciting competitions and evening bashi ball games (a surprisingly fierce traditional ball sport played by women).

Ilyas Ibrahim, the manager at TME Retreats, a waterfront inn on Dhigurah Island in South Ari Atoll, explained, "I'll often talk to people for an hour before their first visit, to make sure they're comfortable with the cultural restrictions. But then they come back a second time because they've made such good friends in the village."

Beyond the cultural differences, most guesthouses offer some of the same types of aquatic activities resorts do. Off Dhigurah Island, which is famous for its whale sharks, we set off twice in search of the huge creatures, but just missed them both times. We had better luck diving on the protected reefs, which teemed with a seemingly endless variety of rays, turtles, reef sharks and some of the biggest grouper I'd ever seen.

On other islands, the highlights might include dolphin or whale watching, surfing or deep sea fishing, so Ibrahim suggests visitors narrow down what it is they want to do before choosing a specific atoll and guesthouse.

Over a leisurely dinner with Mashoodh and his family, I asked if it was the novelty of having outsiders on the islands that made Maldivians so friendly to guests.

He seemed surprised by my question and said that while guesthouses may be new to the Maldives, hospitality isn't. He explained that in a country of remote islands, when a guest arrives it's important to give them refreshments and then show them around and make sure they're comfortable and happy.

"Isn't that what all people do?"

Meals and accommodation at Niyama Per Aquum were covered by the hotel. It did not review or approve this article.



Flying to the Maldives from Canada requires one or more connections routed through the Middle East or Asia. The main airport at Malé is served by airlines including Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Mega Maldives Airlines, the islands' new international carrier flying from several Asian cities.


Your resort or guesthouse will advise you of your best option for interisland transfers, which may include ferry, speedboat, sea plane or domestic flight depending on the location.

Magoodhoo Island Inn's sixroom property will offer snorkelling, diving, sunset fishing and boat excursions to neighbouring islands and resorts.

The new guesthouse is set to be listed on the government guesthouse registry: Per Aquum Niyama is located in Dhaalu Atoll and is made up of two islands: "Chill" and the newly opened "Play." Play's offerings include beach-front villas with casually luxurious indoor-outdoor living starting from $915 (U.S.) a night including breakfast.

TME Retreats Dhigurah mixes village culture with relaxed lagoon-front living. Comprising three guesthouses, with a combined total of 17 rooms, popular activities include diving, snorkelling, sailing and whale shark viewing. Rates from $50 a night plus meals and transfers.

Associated Graphic

The crystal-clear waters of the Maldives are home to whale sharks, rays, turtles and reef sharks.


Thatch made from palm fronds and coconut fibre rope are used for roofs in the Maldives.


Powder-blue surgeonfish swim in big schools throughout Maldivian waters.

There's magic at Hollyhock
Special to The Globe and Mail
Wednesday, August 26, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S1

VANCOUVER -- Cora Moret picks me up at the float-plane dock in a dusty blue minivan. Ms. Moret, a former Nanaimo-based salmon biologist for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, moved to Cortes Island with her husband and two young children last year.

She's now a naturalist guide for Hollyhock - a retreat centre founded here in 1983 - and a part-time shuttle driver on busy arrival days.

"It's amazing," she says when I ask how her family is adjusting.

"We love it here."

Besides a powdery beach and an incredible one-acre garden - a French-intensive riot of lettuce, herbs, rhubarb and purple ornamental alliums the size of basketballs - it encompasses apple orchards, cedar and hemlock forest, and roaming, hard-to-startle deer.

Those that visit Hollyhock do so for the getaway and partly to attend sessions at the annual Social Change Institute (SCI) - a big-tent gathering of progressives in business, the arts and the nonprofit sector. I was slightly concerned about the SCI portion; as a middle-aged dad on five-day leave, my primary interest was not culture-jamming so much as dissolving my consciousness via evening hot tubs, deep-tissue massages and cabernet sauvignon. I wasn't sure how the two realities - earnest solution-seeking and escapist indulgence - would square. All I'd known about SCI before I arrived was that the keynote speaker would be 46-year-old Lennox Yearwood, leader of the Hip Hop Caucus, a Washington-based group that rallies urban youth to vote and protest. Along with a white clerical collar, "The Rev" (as he likes to be called) has been known to wear a black baseball cap stacked with three bold white words: AGITATE! AGITATE! AGITATE! Not exactly the sentiment you expect amidst yoga sessions and aromatherapy treatments.

A touch of prophecy

Hollyhock is Canada's answer to the Esalen Institute - the Big Sur, Calif.-based hub of syncretic EastWest philosophy that has been hosting personal development courses for over 50 years (and that has gotten much recent buzz thanks to the Mad Men finale).

Both places attract and enlist artists, intellectuals and business people. Hollyhock faculty and visitors have included everyone from Allen Ginsberg and Robert Bly to singer/composer Ysaye Barnwell, actor Gillian Anderson and "green-collar" jobs advocate Van Jones.In recent years, Hollyhock has reframed its mission, shifting from being a rejuvenation space for exhausted urbanites into more of an empowerment centre teaching "inner skills" to entrepreneurs and culture-shifters. The Social Change Institute, an annual event for more than 10 years, is part of that.

"What comes naturally out of some rejuvenation and being in the natural world, in a calm and peaceful environment, is it provides some space to go deep inside yourself, and to learn to lead from there," Dana Bass Solomon, Hollyhock's CEO, says.

"What's rare and unique to Hollyhock is our blending of those inner personal skills with leadership and becoming more of a good citizen, educator or professional of any kind. That might look like learning how to meditate and be thoughtful and slow our judgment process down ... where instead of reacting, you can respond to life and situations in a deeper way."

The M-word

The kick-off for SCI was Mr. Yearwood's keynote speech, which framed climate change as a civilrights issue. "People in poor communities, and people of colour, are disproportionately affected by polluting industries and by climate change," Mr. Yearwood says, after telling the story of a girl who lived downwind of a coal-fired power plant and died of an asthma attack.

"In the past we fought for equality. Now we are also fighting for existence."

I began to suspect that wake-up calls, rather than escaping into the coastal lull, were going to be my destiny on Cortes Island. Mr.

Yearwood grew up with civilrights leaders Coretta Scott King and Stokely Carmichael in his living room, and now he lives with his family in an area of Washington where residents hear far more gunfire and police sirens than crickets and birdsong. But he appreciates what Hollyhock does.

"It's important in a movement, particularly as we become more of a digital movement, to 'press flesh,'" he says. "It's important to touch. And to see. To look folks in the eye."

Looking folks in the eye was one part of the daily Deep Leadership morning sessions led by facilitator Gibran Rivera. Mr.

Rivera asked participants to gather in small groups and answer four questions: "What brings you joy? What do you desire? Where are you going? How do you love?" The sudden intimacies were unnerving for many, myself included, but they achieved their purpose: creating a community on short notice.

"The first time I came here, it wasn't just the beauty of the land that got me hooked," Mr. Rivera says. "It was the magic I found here."

The word magic gets used a lot around Hollyhock. Like the words "community" and "spiritual," it's vague and New Agey enough to be annoying without your own reference point. So I should admit that, to my own surprise, I actually experienced something that might justify the M-word. Without going into the personal details, I'll just say I experienced some unexpected inner shifts. It was as if I'd gotten two years of therapy in a weekend - and without really doing anything.

It was all just suddenly there, ripe, ready and falling to the ground before I could stop it.

Salad days - and roasted oysters

The vegetarian meals at Hollyhock are appended by massive bowls of fresh garden greens and legendary yeast dressing, a single recipe that sells many of its cookbooks. Over one such lunch, I hung out with Amanda Lewis, an editor at Penguin Random House in Toronto. Like many SCI attendees, she leads multiple lives: editor but also yoga instructor, the founder of Toronto's annual Reading Line book ride and the chair of communications for

This was her first visit to Hollyhock after hoping to travel there for years, and she'd already become something of a groupie.

"I love the setting, the people, the food, the garden ... and the morning row to a neighbouring island."

She saw the setting and SCI's often troubling ecological and social content as complementary.

"Hollyhock enables people to tap into different aspects of themselves," she said. "It makes conflict resolution and hard discussions much more palatable and easy to work through."

By Day 5, I'd ticked off my list of middle-aged dad escapisms: I got my massage, my cabernet, my evening hot tubs. I even got in a sunset kayak trip, where I was treated to curious seals and lion's mane jellyfish. I had drunk the organic Kool-Aid, and it was good. Before checking out, I bought an aromatherapy spray from the gift shop. It was the perfect souvenir.

Made by a local Cortes herbalist, its ingredient list included "a synergistic blend of essential oils" and "fairy magic."

Do Make Say Think is the name of a Canadian rock band, but we also thought the title was a good one for a weekly summer series introducing readers to British Columbians out of the public eye who are doing things, making things, saying things and thinking things. This week, for Do, we drop in at the Hollyhock retreat on Cortes Island.

Associated Graphic

Hollyhock is a retreat centre that attracts and enlists artists, intellectuals and businesspeople.


Hollyhock has a powdery beach and an incredible one-acre garden.


'Trying to be sexy is such a buzz kill'
Isaac Mizrahi gives his irreverent take on working in the fashion industry after almost 30 years in the business
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, August 22, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L5 @Jeanne_Beker

Of all the New York-based designers who knew how to stage a fabulous show, few people would dispute Isaac Mizrahi did it best. His catwalk presentations - with their supermodel casting and celebrity guests - were some of the most buzz-worthy happenings of the eighties and nineties. The Brooklyn-born Mizrahi, who burst on the scene with his fi rst collection in 1987, was immediately embraced for his modern, minimalist take on glamour. The 1995 documentary, Unzipped, in which he starred, endeared him to the masses even more with its unprecedented insider's look at the trials and tribulations of being a superstar designer during the supermodel era. In 2002, Mizrahi blazed new trails by being one of the fi rst high-fashion designers to make his designs accessible through U.S. retail giant, Target. After a brief stint as creative director for Liz Claiborne, Mizrahi continues to direct myriad offshoots of his eponymous label, including Isaac Mizrahi New York. I recently caught up with the 53-year-old designer to talk about fashion that's relevant, aging well, and what's sexy now.

What have you relished most about the business?

The thing I prize is having come this far and having reached out to women and made my clothes and accessories very available to women. I relish the idea of having started at a certain point and having innovated a good deal in the industry, but then at some point it became very important to me, more important than anything, to reach out to women. I found that a very compelling thing.

There was a time when the theatricality of a fashion show was what we in the industry lived for, and whether or not the average women had access to that wasn't a concern. But there came a point when we realized fashion had to make sense for real women. Was there a turning point for you?

I was right in there, making these very theatrical productions for a long time and loving every minute of it. But as irrelevant as the presentation might have seemed, I felt that the clothes I was doing were always so relevant. With those big presentations, I think designers get carried away with the clothes and the clothes become irrelevant.

To me, the perfect thing is when you have this giant, fun presentation and the clothes themselves are truly innovative. Sometimes what we see now coming out of fashion capitals like Paris, albeit incredibly beautiful - I see those things and I worship them, but I don't feel necessarily influenced by them as much as I feel influenced by things that are so much more common. For example, look at the technology at Nike; that influences me because that moves me forward. A corseted dress with thousands of layers is extremely beautiful to look at but in the end, it's great on one women somewhere in a picture. Though that picture is wonderful and important, and at one point in the nineteen fi fties or the sixties, the people in those pictures were influential, I feel the opposite now is true because that the trickleup thing is much more fun and important to me.

It was always important for you to think about the way a woman moves through her life, what is she's up to, and where is she going.

The great thing is not making a ball gown look like a ball gown. That's easy. Everyone from Charles James to Christian Dior to John Galliano have been really good at that. The thing that I fi nd very exciting and fun is to make a ball gown look like a sneaker, because that actually works in someone's life.

Do women necessarily have to be sexy? Should they even try to be?

I don't think so. I think the worst thing is when women try to be sexy, or men for that matter. I fi nd that trying to be sexy is such a buzz kill.

What is sexy to you, sartorially speaking?

I think that people who know their own sense of style, who know what they look good in and what they feel good in, is sexy.

I watched a film about Winston Churchill, who should be the least sexy person in the world, but the way he put himself together with the little bowtie and these narrow shoulders and this kind of like big, frog-shaped body was so sexy to me.

What makes a woman a sexy dresser?

I don't find terribly high heels in an inappropriate situation to be very sexy. I fi nd it sort of funny.

And as a gay man, I fi nd it weirdly funny that a woman would put herself in a precarious situation with giant shoes. I think a beautiful woman shouldn't impede herself that way.

If she has confidence, she's not going to be trapped in these highheeled shoes all day. I believe in women getting in and out of taxis, going in and out of the subway, being busy, and being so considered that they wake up in the morning and they don't have to think about it.

What do you think aging does to a woman's aura of sexiness?

I'm dealing with that myself! I'm aging and when I take my clothes off I go, "Ahh!" But it takes me a minute, and I want to believe that what's prettier and sexier than anything is the truth, right? So when I see all this face work and fi ller and all that stuff that people do, I feel like it's not truthful. I like people who do it to look not different, but just a little fresher here and there; the minute it takes over is so sad. It makes me very sad that a person would feel that way about getting old because it's so inevitable. We have to be able to move past that.

But what about what we put on our bodies as we grow happily, confidently older? How should that change or does it necessarily have to?

Of course it has to. I mean each woman is different, woman by woman, but you know of all the ladies I know - you included - all these fashion editors, they kind of get it. They get how to put it together. Like, 'Okay I'm not going to be wearing a corset today because I'm working all day long, so I'm going to wear a little black top with some jeans and a little wedge shoe, because it's easy, I get the height but I can move around.' But then you think about [late fashion editor] Polly Mellen.... I met her when she was probably in her late forties, and she used to run around in mini-dresses with tights and little fl at shoes. She was crazy.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Associated Graphic

EASY DOES IT Isaac Mizrahi's trademark modern-yetelegant approach to design, as illustrated by these prim cocktail dresses, still resonates with women. "A corseted dress with thousands of layers is extremely beautiful to look at but in the end, it's great on one women somewhere in a picture."


KING OF NEW YORK "The thing that I find very exciting and fun," says Brooklyn-born Mizrahi, "is to make a ball gown look like a sneaker."


Camilla Gibb's pregnant pause
Saturday, August 15, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R1

When Camilla Gibb's last novel, The Beauty of Humanity Movement, was published in August, 2010, she was eight months pregnant with her first child. This did not stop her from carrying out the requisite media obligations - photos from interviews conducted during that time show a smiling, if weary, Gibb, sometimes standing in profile as if to accentuate just how pregnant she was - and then, once her daughter was born in mid-September, heading out on a cross-Canada tour with the newborn.

To readers, nothing would have seemed amiss, except for, perhaps, the second-last line in a story that appeared in this very newspaper stating that Gibb would soon embark "on the challenging new path of a single mother." Only months before, when she was just eight weeks pregnant, she was left "clobbered by life," as she describes it: Her wife announced that she was no longer in love, and that she was leaving the marriage.

"The publisher, of course, said we can wait to put this book out," says Gibb, sitting on the patio of a coffee shop near her Toronto home one morning this month. "But I knew that part of my identity rested in being a writer ... and I thought, 'Please let this part of my life not be taken away.' It's the only thing that I could recover, in a way. I still had a presence, even if I had to fake a lot of it."

Publishing the novel as planned, travelling the country to read from her work and meet her readers, restored some semblance of normalcy in an otherwise abnormal time in her life.

"It gave me back a part of myself at a time when I was struggling to have any sense of self," she says.

Afterward, Gibb arrived back in Toronto and the east-end home she had hastily purchased in the wake of her separation and tried, as best she could, to move on. It was difficult. One night, tired and depressed and wondering "how I was going to survive," she e-mailed Ian Brown("a writer at this newspaper), who, the previous year, had published The Boy in the Moon, a memoir of his life with his disabled son, Walker. It was the only book she had read all year, and she reached out to him for advice. "Just write it all down," he wrote back. "Write it all down because you must."

And so she did.

"It was all raw emotion," she says of the early output that followed. "It was just like writing crappy adolescent poetry all over again. It was rage. It was angst. There was no subtlety, no nuance."

The resulting memoir, This Is Happy, which will be published on Tuesday, is one of the most exquisite, agonizing and, above all, uplifting books of the year.

It shows how comfort can be found in the most unlikely of places, and demonstrates that blood is simply one of several metrics to consider when defining family.

After Gibb's wife moved out - she's called Anna in the book, but it's no secret her ex is Heather Conway, vice-president of English services at the CBC; Conway has not read and wouldn't comment on the book, and Gibb declined to talk about her - Gibb began rebuilding her life by helping others rebuild theirs in turn, including Tita, a Filipina nanny with a husband she had seen only sporadically since coming to Canada and who had fled her previous, abusive employers; Gibb's brother, Micah, a recovering drug addict from whom she had often been estranged; and Miles, a young PhD student from the Maritimes whom Gibb befriended after they were set up on a blind date. At various points, they were all living under Gibb's roof - a home for wayward souls.

"Something extraordinary happened in that house," says Gibb, 47. "Everybody was broken in their own way, and yet there was this willingness to accept it in all its messiness. I think it also taught me, at a moment when I was feeling disillusioned about humanity, the extraordinary compassion that others possess and could offer me. That was rehabilitative."

We don't actually arrive at this point until midway through the book. The first half of This Is Happy is a more traditional, if not equally powerful, memoir, chronicling Gibb's difficult childhood - her father clearly suffered from some sort of undiagnosed mental illness, and her parents separated when she was very young - to her time in England, where she attended graduate school at Oxford, and Ethiopia, where she conducted field research, to her tumultuous romantic relationships with various men and women, to her struggles with depression and multiple suicide attempts, to the beginning of her writing career.

(Gibb, in a story that has now become a kind of CanLit legend, was given $6,000 in cash, no strings attached, from a stranger, allowing her to quit her job and write her first novel, 1999's Mouthing The Words.)

"I think this is by far her best book," says her editor of five books and 15 years, Martha Kanya-Forstner, the editor-inchief of Doubleday Canada.

"This is the writer she was in the process of becoming, and I can't wait to see what she'll do next."

What she'll do next is an unanswered question. Although Gibb is under contract to write a novel, she has not written a word of fiction since the dissolution of her marriage six years ago and says, "I don't know when I'm going to return to it."

(For her part, Kanya-Forstner says, "I'm interested in anything she writes, but I'm not worried that fiction is somehow going to be finished for her.") What is finished is the period of her life captured in This Is Happy. Even though it was born out of what was undeniably one of the worst periods of her life, it's clear that she misses it now that("mostly) everyone has moved on: "What I'm documenting is something that has no permanence to it. Those relationships continue to evolve, and shift, and grow. That's hard.

You want to keep it close. And yet you have to give people the room to grow." Without giving anything away, it's as close to a happy ending as she could have expected, considering the starting point. And she's not sure what to do now that this part of her life, this chapter, is over.

"I like to think of it as if we were incubating, all of us, in this shared space, until we were well enough," she says of the family that was created in the wake of another family collapsing. "But I'm the one who's left behind, in a sense. And it's probably time for me to find my way back to some kind of grown-up life.

"My focus, really, for five years, has been my daughter.

And now she's starting school, and now she has more time with my ex-wife, and so there's more space opening up. And I've got to figure out what I do with that. I'm not sure yet."

Associated Graphic

Author Camilla Gibb, seen in Toronto last week, wrote the memoir This is Happy following the breakup of her marriage.


Eagles offence stuns opponents in preseason play
The Associated Press
Monday, August 24, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S3

PHILADELPHIA -- Two impressive preseason wins are still preseason wins.

The Philadelphia Eagles have outscored two AFC playoff teams 76-27 in a pair of routs, but neither the Indianapolis Colts nor the Baltimore Ravens prepared a game plan to face Chip Kelly's offence.

"The tempo of the offence was tough and that's something that we hadn't prepared for," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said following Saturday's 40-17 loss. "We didn't prepare for it by design. It's not something we're going to prepare for. I guess in the preseason it's pretty effective in that sense.

If we were playing in the third preseason game, we'd probably prepare for it. There's no way in the second preseason game when we're still installing and trying to develop guys and find players and all that. So we were doing the best we could."

Colts coach Chuck Pagano had similar thoughts following a 36-10 loss last Sunday.

"You don't spend a lot of time game-planning for the first preseason game," he said. "You talk through some base stuff so it's a tall order - the pace of play at which they go, the zone read, the option element and obviously all the play-action pass stuff that comes off of that."

That puts Philadelphia's early success in perspective.

Still, it shouldn't diminish the debuts of Sam Bradford and DeMarco Murray. Bradford led the Eagles on an 84-yard touchdown drive in his only series. Murray had 31 total yards on six touches.

"The communication was awesome," Murray said. "Everyone was on the same page so that's the most important thing. We were able to get lined up fast and we were able to get plays off fast and run them efficiently."

Bradford looked sharp in his first game in 364 days. He hadn't played since tearing his left ACL for the second time in a span of 11 months. Bradford eased his way back in off-season workouts and has been full-go in training camp.

Kelly held him out of the first game for precautionary reasons.

"I feel like once we got rolling out there I felt pretty good," Bradford said. "Obviously there are a bunch of things we all have to keep working on. I think there are things I have got to clean up.

There are things that everyone has to clean up. So we're still trying to build on what we did, but I still think there is work I have to do in order to be ready for the season."

Kenjon Barner is making a strong case to be the fourth running back behind Murray, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles. He has returned punts for TDs in the first two games and has a rushing TD. Barner played for Kelly at Oregon and spent part of last season on Philadelphia's practice squad.

"I've known him for a long time.

He's a productive player," Kelly said.

Barner credits Sproles for his success returning punts. Sproles has seven returns TDs (five punts, two kickoffs).

Packers receiver hurt Pittsburgh - Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger look ready for the regular season.

The immediate future for Jordy Nelson seems far more uncertain.

The Green Bay Pro Bowl wide receiver limped off with a potentially serious left-knee injury in the first quarter of the Packers' 24-19 preseason loss to the Steelers on Sunday. Nelson landed awkwardly while trying to cut after making an eight-yard reception on Green Bay's opening drive and did not return.

Rodgers completed 4 of 5 passes for 57 yards during two series of work, with one drive ending with a touchdown run by Eddie Lacy and the other with Rodgers getting sacked by James Harrison for a safety.

Roethlisberger played into the second quarter, connecting on 11 of 14 for 100 yards a score. Pittsburgh Pro Bowl centre Maurkice Pouncey left with a left-ankle injury in the first quarter and did not return.

Rodgers threw a surprising 19 passes in the preseason opener against New England last week.

He didn't come close to that against the Steelers, though the most significant throw Rodgers made came on a relatively innocuous hitch to Nelson on sixth play from scrimmage.

The Packers were driving when Rodgers found Nelson on the right side for a short gain. Nelson appeared to have plenty of room to run when defensive back Antwon Blake slipped on the turf.

When Nelson tried to cut, however, his left leg slid underneath him, sending Nelson tumbling to the ground.

Nelson managed to gingerly make it to the sideline under his own power before being taken to the locker room for further examination, a potentially devastating blow for the Packers and for the wide receiver who set career highs in receptions (98) and yards receiving (1,519) in 2014.

RGIII practises again

Ashburn, Va. - Robert Griffin III returned to practice Sunday, three days after the Washington quarterback left the team's exhibition game against the Detroit Lions because of a concussion.

Griffin fully participated in individual, 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills during the approximately 2-hour session at Redskins Park.

"He was cleared for non-contact activity today," coach Jay Gruden said. "He'll be checked by a neurosurgeon later this week to determine whether he'll be cleared for [Saturday's game against the Ravens], but so far so good."

Griffin wasn't available to the media Sunday. He was injured when Lions defensive end Corey Wootton landed on him while the quarterback tried to recover his own fumble early in the second quarter of Washington's 21-17 home victory Thursday night.

Griffin was sacked three times and fumbled twice in four possessions. He went 2 for 5 for 8 yards.

Giants' safeties going down

East Rutherford, N.J. - New York Giants starting safety Bennett Jackson suffered a major knee injury against the Jacksonville Jaguars and will be lost for the season, the latest injury that has ravaged the team's most inexperienced position.

Free-agent safety Justin Currie broke his right ankle and fibula earlier in the game Saturday night covering a kickoff, and Jackson went down in the waning minutes of the 22-12 victory, playing because the team didn't have enough safeties.

Coach Tom Coughlin said Jackson tore his anterior cruciate ligament tackling a tight end in front of the Jaguars' bench.

The good news for the Giants was that starting middle linebacker Jon Beason does not consider his sprained left-knee injury serious. He hopes to be ready for the regular-season opener in Dallas in three weeks.

Beason was hurt when he landed awkwardly breaking up a pass in the end zone in the first quarter. He finished the series but felt some instability in his knee.

The safety position is a bigger concern. Rookie Mykkele Thompson was lost last week when he sustained an Achilles tendon injury in the preseason game against Cincinnati. Second-round draft pick Landon Collins sprained a knee in that game, and Cooper Taylor (toe) and Nat Berhe (calf) were out with injuries sustained in practice.

Associated Graphic

Philadelphia Eagles running back DeMarco Murray lauds his team's 'awesome' communication skills: 'Everyone was on the same page,' he says, referring to the Eagles' winning weekend.


Nightmare rental just a mouse click away
A cautionary tale on how using a website for short-term stays can go horribly wrong at the hands of a scam artist
Saturday, August 22, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S4

A Toronto property manager had been using a popular website to rent out a unit in the King and Spadina area for $2,000 a week.

After a year using the HomeAway service, things had been going smoothly - until a woman recently made a week-long booking. Her stay was coming to an end, so the property manager had sent her e-mails, wondering when she'd be checking out. He needed to get the place cleaned for the next guest. The woman wasn't responding. He didn't think much of it until he finally called the apartment the day of her check out, and a male voice answered.

He said: "Who the hell is this?" And the voice said: "I'm the tenant. Who the hell is this?" He said: "I'm the property manager."

The man hung up. And that's when he realized that he might have a problem on his hands.

"I raced down there and opened the door and there was a family from South America - 12 people, kids, baby stuff everywhere. They had just arrived from Canada. I was like: 'What the hell is going on? You need to leave.' They didn't believe me."

The woman who'd rented the unit through HomeAway was nowhere to be found.

As they realized they'd been scammed, one of the women started crying. Feeling badly for them, the property manager gave them 24 hours to vacate.

The unit normally rents for $4,000 a month, but the family had paid $2,000 cash for one month's rent. They had responded to an ad on Kijiji that the woman had placed, complete with photos.

She knew what she was doing.

Once she arrived and obtained the key from the property manager, she'd immediately set to work. She copied the key several times and put together a twopage welcoming binder filled with details, such as the Internet password.

"It was crazy. She gave them a laminated manual," he says.

She seemed legitimate. But she wasn't. She was a con artist.

The property manager didn't want to give his name partly because being scammed is bad for business and partly because the condo owner has a public profile. So, we'll call him John.

But John is also embarrassed because it didn't end there.

The day the family from South America cleared out, he was at the apartment with a locksmith.

"He was changing the lock and people were showing up, saying, 'I'm here to move in.' I said, 'What?' "The concierge said: 'What the hell is going on here?' People were showing up with moving trucks. We realized she had rented it over and over. It was horrible." In all, the woman had conned 10 people out of at least $26,000 cash, for stays of varying lengths.

"We told them: 'You have to go to the police.' There was nothing we could do," John says.

The woman, who'd told one victim she was from Nigeria, had booked the apartment with a stolen credit card. Initially, HomeAway paid the property manager upfront for the rental, but once the card was recognized as stolen a few days later, he says it clawed back the payment.

"They just kept saying, 'You paid for us to advertise your property for rent. If you have problems with your tenants, it's your fault.' " HomeAway Chief Service Officer Jeff Mosler responded by email: "Because the owner or manager controls the rental transactions, they are in the best position to screen guests and take other actions to protect themselves, such as obtaining appropriate rental agreements and taking additional legal actions as necessary. However, upon learning about such incidents, we do our best to keep bad actors such as this off our sites."

Police confirmed they received at least one complaint about the incident, and are investigating.

Constable Victor Kwong, Toronto Police media relations officer, says property scams pop up now and then. Also this summer, a man posed as a doctor who was renting out one of his many rental properties. He was actually a former tenant who still had a key. He rented out the apartment to six different families, obtaining first and last months' rent.

With online short-term renting, it can be even riskier because you might think you are more protected than you are.

"The problem with something like this is it's pretty much an unregulated industry where you have no idea who you are renting your place to," Constable Kwong says. "We will do an investigation, but there are no promises we will catch someone.

We'll try. The more that these are reported to us, the more it will help with the investigation."

John had 10 more bookings with HomeAway for the summer.

He cancelled all of them and switched over to Airbnb. Of the 10 guests, he rebooked eight of them through Airbnb, which he trusts.

However, as of Sept. 1, the unit will no longer be available for short-term rentals. "We're done," says John, who manages 40 properties.

He will only consider one-year leases, with tenants who pass the usual checks for previous landlord references, credit rating and work status.

"Because the police were involved and it caused a major commotion for the concierge for four or five days, they had an emergency meeting and changed the [building] policy within 30 days. The owner got a cease and desist letter."

Through short-term rentals, the owner was making $7,000 after paying the property manager fees, including cleaning. With a regular leased tenant, he's going to make around $4,000 a month.

Although the short-term rentals made the owner a lot more money for the year, John says it's not worth the risk. "I get calls once a week saying, 'I want to rent my place out for a week, because everyone does it. I see it on the news.' "But people have no idea what they're getting into. People don't understand that if a one-week tenant overloads the washing machine and water spews out, the owner pays tens of thousands of dollars in damage. Your insurance would be null and void."

If you're a renter, go through a broker, Constable Kwong advises.

At least get the contract checked over by an agent or a lawyer. It's worth the expense.

And don't pay your deposit in cash. Landlords should request certified cheques, John adds. "As soon as you surrender the keys to that person, if their cheques bounce, you're screwed."

Both tenant and landlord should ask for references that show the person is credible.

Don't trust referrals from previous landlords, he advises. They might just be desperate to get rid of a bad tenant. Landlords should make sure they're properly insured. And they should get as much identification as possible.

Ask for a criminal background check, as well as a credit check, or any other check you require as a landlord, Kwong says.

"There are tons of checks and balances."

Associated Graphic

A Toronto property manager found out that someone who he had rented a downtown condo to for a week had conned 10 other people by renting out the unit to them for stays of varying lengths.


Jamaica's Usain Bolt still reigns on the track, with a razor-thin win in the men's 100 metres. But Canada's Andre De Grasse, 20, throws down the gauntlet with a photo-finish bronze. He is the first Canadian to win a medal - or even make the final - in track's marquee event since Bruny Surin raced to silver in 1999
The Canadian Press
Monday, August 24, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S1

BEIJING -- Andre De Grasse peered at the scoreboard, waiting and wishing, not knowing whether to frown or smile.

"So I just stayed straightfaced," De Grasse said, laughing.

Several impossibly long moments later, the results popped up: De Grasse had tied for bronze in the 100-metres at the world track and field championship.

What the scoreboard didn't say: 20 years old. Just his third year of running track.

And the first Canadian to win a medal - or even make the final - in track's marquee event since Bruny Surin raced to silver in 1999.

Either way, third or fourth, it would have been a remarkable performance in a season packed full of them for the sprint sensation from Markham, Ont.

"The future looks bright," De Grasse said.

"Next year I can't wait to see what kind of training I'm going to do, and I can only get stronger from here. It's only my third year in track and to be on the podium with these guys, it's incredible right now."

His performance capped a three-medal day for Canada, as Brianne Theisen-Eaton won silver in the heptathlon, and Ben Thorne won a surprise bronze in the men's 20-kilometre racewalk.

But the day belonged to De Grasse, who finished in a dead heat with American Trayvon Bromell, of 9.911, taken to the nearest thousandth of a second via a photo finish.

Jamaica's world record-holder Usain Bolt won gold in 9.79 - .01 seconds faster than American veteran Justin Gatlin.

De Grasse has laid down one spectacular performance after another this season, sweeping the 100-metres and 200-metres at the NCAA championship, then repeating the feat at the Pan American Games in Toronto. Only two Canadians - Surin and Donovan Bailey - had ever broken 10 seconds before De Grasse came along. He has done that six times this season, including running sub-10 in all three rounds here at the Bird's Nest Stadium.

Talking to reporters moments later, the young sprint star bounced back and forth excitedly, from one foot the other. Every answer to a question was followed with a laugh.

9 "Super surreal right now," he practically bellowed. "It feels like a dream. I actually got the bronze medal, and to end the season I had Aw, man."

A tie is a rarity in the sport, and the wait was an emotional roller coaster for De Grasse and his USC coach Caryl Smith-Gilbert.

"I didn't know you could actually tie for a bronze medal, so I didn't know if they were going to give it to Bromell or me," said De Grasse, who edged Bromell for gold at the NCAA championship. "I'm really happy for him and I'm proud of myself."

Smith-Gilbert's joy at bronze turned to disappointment when she saw his name listed fourth.

"I left because I was so mad.

And I came back and someone said, 'No, they tied,' "the coach said.

De Grasse ran 9.96 to finish second behind Bolt in his semi-final, and then, just as she's done all season, Smith-Gilbert gave him a few quiet words of encouragement.

"I knew it would be tough, but I knew he could do it if he really wanted to," the coach said. "I just told him do what he needed to do. I said, 'You're able to go get a medal, you just have to go do it.

If you really want it, it's there for you.' "De Grasse will run the 4x100-metre relay but not the 200-metres, the event in which he broke the Canadian record twice this season.

The only time Bolt has failed to win gold in a sprint at a major championship since the 2008 Games was when he was disqualified for a false start at the 2011 worlds. But the Jamaican has had injury trouble this season, and many had their money on Gatlin.

"A lot of people counted me out," Bolt said. "So for me to come and win, this is a big deal."

Gatlin, who won the 100metres at the 2004 Olympics before serving a four-year suspension for doping, had been unbeaten in 2015 and had the season-leading time of 9.74 heading into the race.

"Got nipped at the line by great Usain," Gatlin said.

Theisen-Eaton, meanwhile, managed to salvage silver despite being blindsided by an injury and all-around lack of confidence.

The 26-year-old from Humboldt, Sask., arrived in Beijing ranked No. 1 in the world, but was in fourth after a disappointing Day 1 that saw her struggle in high jump and the 200 metres.

She finished with 6,554. Jessica Ennis-Hill of Britain won the gold in 6,669.

"At the beginning of the whole thing if someone had told me I'd get the silver medal, I would have been upset," said TheisenEaton, who also won silver two years ago in Moscow. "I went to bed in tears, trying to figure out what was going on."

She said the subpar high jump "totally derailed" her, but she regained her confidence.

To compound her problems, a groin injury almost required her to withdraw from the event. She felt a sharp pain in her groin warming up for the javelin - the sixth of seven events - and she only attempted one throw.

"Then I was in tears again, I was crying these whole two days," she said. "Back in the hotel, I laid in bed for three hours. We said at 5 o'clock we're going to go out and test it. At 2 o'clock, I was like, 'Is it five yet?' " The pain was still there as she lined up for heptathlon's final event, the 800-m, and she looked near tears when shown on the Jumbotron during introductions.

"Maybe this will be more valuable than the gold, maybe I learned something that will help me next year," she said. "I'm trying to think positively, maybe that's the key."

Thorne sparked Canada's strong day with his racewalk bronze in the morning. The 22 year-old crossed in a Canadianrecord 1 hour 19 minutes 57 seconds, becoming the first Canadian to break the 80-minute barrier.

After being left off Canada's team for the Pan Ams, he arrived in Beijing with lofty goals of a top-eight finish.

"And by top eight, I meant eighth," Thorne said.

A key moment came with several minutes to go when Ecuador's Andres Chocho was disqualified, leaving Thorne in third with no one near him.

"I was in third, and I was like, 'Wow. I have never been in this position before. I don't know what's happening.' And I walked into the stadium, and it was just amazing, 50,000 people here in the stadium, I'm completely overwhelmed right now."

Canada is looking to top its five-medal performance from the worlds two years ago in Moscow.

Associated Graphic

Canada's Andre De Grasse, Jamaica's Asafa Powell, the United States' Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay, Jamaica's Usain Bolt, the United States' Mike Rodgers and Trayvon Bromell, China's Su Bingtian and France's Jimmy Vicaut compete in the men's 100-metre final.


The women's market has finally wised up to the value of catering to bodies size 14 and up. But for stylish-minded plus-sized men, Dave McGinn reports, the retail options couldn't be slimmer
Saturday, August 22, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L8

Bruce Sturgell just wanted to buy a shirt. Maybe a pair of shorts. But he couldn't find anything in his size - he wears a XXL to XXXL shirt and sizes 42 to 46 in pants, depending on the brand - at the mall. Defeated, he bought a six-pack of beer and went home and created a blog on Tumblr, a popular social-networking platform, to complain. That fateful day nearly five years ago marked the beginning of Chubstr, a site that, as its Tumblr puts it, "helps big guys find, create, and share their style with the world." According to Sturgell, that's no small feat, considering the obstacles larger men still face when it comes to fashion. "There's a preconceived notion that bigger guys don't care about how they look," he says over the phone from Portland, Ore., where Chubstr is based.

And while the conversation around sizing in women's fashion has given rise to a steadily growing range of retail options, men in the big and tall category - that's typically anything above an XL in shirts and 36 in pants - are left with surprisingly little choice.

"A lot of bigger brands are offering clothing in extended sizes, but they're not really talking about it. They might have a link on their site, but they're not going out and really promoting it," Sturgell says.

"They're definitely not showing models that look like me." Both Ralph Lauren and Eddie Bauer, for instance, have big and tall options, although neither has received a significant marketing push. But they are at least among the few companies offering on-trend clothing for plus-sized men with a youthful sensibility, compared to the many independent big-and-tall stores, which have limited style options, Sturgell says.

"When I'm looking for big-and-tall clothing and I get a catalogue or look at a website, it's Hawaiian shirts and Soprano'sstyle track suits. It's not what I want," Sturgell continues. "It can be frustrating, especially when you look at how much better women are being catered to. Women's plus size is booming. There are brands out there that are doing it well. They're using plus-size models of different shapes and sizes and ethnicities. They're getting it right and they have audiences that love them."

In Canada, Addition Elle is the most prominent plus-sized women's-wear brand, while south of the border retailers include Avenue, Ashley Stewart, Catherine's and Lane Bryant.

In 2014, the close to 6, 000 plus-sized women's clothing stores in the U.S. generated $9-billion in revenue, according to IBIS World, a market research company.

Meanwhile, there are fewer than 1,000 such stores for men, which generated only $1-billion, according to the same source.

"For men, it's still very challenging," Leo Park, co-founder of Parker & Pine, a Toronto-based company that makes colourful boxer briefs and classic dress shirts for bigger guys, concurs. "You'd be surprised how many bloggers or fashion magazines we've encountered who are opposed to talking about plus-sized men's fashion in general."


"It wasn't sexy for them," Park says.

It's a stereotype that, until recently, has largely dogged women, around whom the cultural conversation about body image has almost entirely focused. A rare exception was the "dad bod" phenomenon this spring. In a viral web post titled "Why Girls Love the Dad Bod," Clemson University student Mackenzie Pearson described the anti-abs physique as "a nice balance between a beer gut and working out. The dad bod says, 'I go to the gym occasionally, but I also drink heavily on the weekends and enjoy eating eight slices of pizza at a time.'"

The essay was obsessed over on millions of web pages, many of them accompanied by photos of famous dad bods like Leonardo DiCaprio's and Jason Segel's. Amid all the sizing up, however, love handles didn't seem, at least on the surface, to be a cause for selfconscious fretting. And yet, since then, the talk of male body image has returned to the margins, where it quietly resides - a contributing factor, perhaps, to the narrow representation of the male physique on the retail landscape.

Perhaps that may change, however slightly, now that Instagram star the Fat Jewish (a.k.a. Josh Ostrovsky) has signed a modelling deal with One Management, the same company that represents Bar Refaeli, Nicki Minaj, Iman and Sean Avery.

In the meantime, there are few aspects of the plus-sized men's market to cheer.

One of them is the proliferation of bespoke options, which has been "a lifesaver," Sturgell says - at least when it comes to dressier attire.

"The biggest problem with bespoke right now is that for the most part, it is really focused on things you'd wear to work, or a formal event. There aren't a ton of companies out there offering more casual options," he says.

To Antony Karabus, a Toronto-based retail analyst, the dearth of shops selling on-trend plus-sized men's wear boils down to bad business. "I don't understand why there isn't more investment in that space," he says. A company such as Destination XL, the largest retailer of men's big and tall clothing south of the border - and worldwide the biggest of its kind - would likely enjoy success if it filled the vacuum in Canada, Karabus says. "If DXL would come up here, they would kill the market," as he puts it. But the retailer, which stocks brands such as Nautica, Reebok, Michael Kors and Polo Ralph Lauren, is available in Canada through online sales only. That certainly means access, but retail stores would provide greater visibility to a category that has been in the margins too long.

In the U.K., several companies are far ahead of the curve compared to North America, including Jacamo, Next, and High and Mighty, all of which market stylish clothes that fit taller and broader frames.

Chubstr, for its part, has started partnering with brands that offer big and tall lines to launch an online store later this year, although Sturgell is keeping the names of partners under wraps until the launch.

"The more we talk about guys of different sizes and shapes, the more it will become clear to brands that there is a market with plenty of demand," he says.

Associated Graphic

GAME CHANGER Edward Furlani, a Toronto-based chef and brand ambassador for men's-wear label Parker & Pine, wears one of the company's prototype dress shirts that are still in development but can be ordered online.


SIZING UP THE OPPOSITION Chubstr, an online blog dedicated to serving stylish gentleman in the plus-sized category, was started by Bruce Sturgell (above). He created the site to combat the idea that "bigger guys don't care about how they look."


Two subjects: (left) Aldo Marcucci and (right) Nino Llanera.


BRIEFS ENCOUNTER Canadian label Parker & Pine aims to "help big men look their best." Above, a model sports a pair of the brand's boxer briefs.


Investor psychology takes a turn
Saturday, August 22, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B1

A global market sell-off accelerated Friday, as weak Chinese manufacturing numbers piled onto bad economic news that is now deeply worrying investors.

North American stock markets took yet another deep plunge, with the Dow Jones industrial average free-falling more than 530 points, and the S&P 500 dipping below 2,000 for the first time since February.

The S&P/TSX composite index showed its fifth straight session of losses, sinking 5.6 per cent for the week and nearly 13 per cent since April.

The catalyst Friday was a private survey of Chinese manufacturing that showed it shrinking at its fastest pace in six years.

This follows last week's devaluation of the Chinese yuan, and the recent plunge in China's stock market.

All this has stoked concerns that the world's second-largest economy, a key driver of global growth, is slowing down significantly.

At the same time, other emerging market currencies are weakening or being devalued, as capital flees their economies.

Oil prices also dropped again Friday, with West Texas intermediate crude falling more than $1 (U.S.) to close at just over $40.

That's bad news for Canada's economy, which is heavily tied to energy production. Other commodities have also fallen sharply, and the Bloomberg commodity index is at its lowest level since 2002.

At the heart of the market turmoil is an unsettling shift in investor psychology.

For years, investors took heart that signs of slower growth would lead to stimulus moves by central banks and governments, and stocks marched ever higher. But with such moves largely exhausted, bad news is now just bad news.

"This is a test of the old regime. It is the first time where we have seen growth fears trump the prospect of more liquidity," said Nick Lawson, managing director at Deutsche Bank in London. "The multiples we are being asked to pay for equities are increasingly out of step with the growth outlook."

A key concern is whether this North American market downturn is a temporary blimp during volatile summer trading, or the sign of a longer-term decline - and economic weakness - that could go deeper and last much longer.

Douglas Porter, chief economist at Bank of Montreal, thinks the bad market conditions will likely be temporary. "I think of it as more of an air pocket rather than stepping off a cliff."

Stocks have been "richly valued" in the past few months, and thus vulnerable to bad economic news, such as that emanating from China, he said. "For investors it is adding up, and raising serious doubts over not just China's growth rate, but emerging markets in general."

But August is traditionally a very volatile month, he added, with relatively low volumes accentuating stock market moves that might otherwise be a bit less dramatic.

Meanwhile, the United States has generated strong economic numbers and there is no reason to think the domestic economy there will falter, Mr. Porter said, despite some concerns about companies that sell to China - particularly in the technology sector. "I don't see any cause for concern yet."

He added that the last big emerging market crisis that happened in 1997 and 1998 "barely made a ripple in the U.S. economy." While the United States is now more tied to those emerging markets, "the U.S. can go it alone if need be."

Quincy Krosby, a market strategist at Prudential Financial in Newark, N.J., noted that the U.S. stock market, despite the recent setbacks, is not far off its record highs. "Over all, this isn't much of a pullback," she said.

Still, many individual U.S. stocks fell sharply on Friday.

Stock of tractor company Deere & Co. dropped 8 per cent after it reported a quarterly profit that was down 40 per cent, and Apple Inc. - which sells heavily to China - fell almost 6 per cent.

The markets have been "dicey," Ms. Krosby said, ever since the U.S. Federal Reserve Board hinted it will likely begin raising interest rates later this year. "That has been lurking for a number of months."

At the same time, there have been continuing worries over China, the strength of domestic demand, oil prices, and a strong U.S. dollar, which dented the earnings of some large U.S. multinationals and exporters. These have been offset by relatively strong job creation, and a healthy housing market. The overall economy, Ms. Krosby said, is "not going gangbusters" but is holding up well.

The key question now, she said, is whether the Fed will follow through on raising rates, given the current market conditions. "There is confusion over what they want to do and when do they want to do it."

Millan Mulraine, deputy head of U.S. research and strategy at TD Securities, said he too sees the recent market plunge as a "temporary hiccup." Economic fundamentals are the key, and in the United States, they are "quite strong and favourable," he said. "That's not to say that the concern about global economic momentum isn't valid. It is valid, particularly as it relates to China. But outside of China, the worst of the weakness is behind us." The euro zone and other major economies are moving in the right direction, he said.


-11.54% SHANGHAI COMPOSITE INDEX Chinese stock traders put the government's market rescue to the test, sending the index to within one point of its low during the depths of a $4-trillion selloff last month. Fresh data Friday showed the manufacturing sector is at the weakest since the global financial crisis.

-8.89 % ENERGY Energy stocks followed oil prices down, adding to losses for what was already the year's worst performing sector on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The S&P/TSX composite energy sector index dropped to its lowest level since March 2009.

-7.80% EMERGING MARKETS Emerging market stocks suffered their worst week since 2012 amid concerns that investors will shift capital to dollar assets as the U.S. Fed prepares to hike interest rates.

-6.66% OIL Prices have tumbled almost 35 per cent since this year's peak in June, as producers maintain output even in the face of a market struggling with oversupply.

-6.46% STOXX EUROPE 600 The Stoxx Europe 600 index entered a correction, following the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index on Thursday. Thirteen out of 18 western-European markets have lost 10 per cent or more from their highs, with Germany's DAX Index down 18 per cent.

-5.77% S&P 500 The main U.S. stock benchmark suffered its biggest daily percentage drop in nearly four years on Friday. Fears of a China-led global slowdown continued to rattle investors, dragging the S&P 500 index to a 10-month low.

-5.63% S&P/TSX The S&P/TSX composite index capped off a woeful week as investors sold off financial and resource stocks. The index suffered its worst weekly slump since September 2011.

Associated Graphic


The New York Stock Exchange.



Hangzhou, China.


How do you craft an Olympic medal contender? Tech help, and a big team
Tory Nyhaug is Canada's best shot at a BMX racing podium finish in Rio - and he has plenty of gadgets and gurus to help him
Wednesday, August 26, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S1

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. -- Six men have gathered on an eight-metre platform, a BMX start ramp at a track here in the Fraser Valley east of Vancouver.

It's mid-morning on a grey summer day. The slight smell of manure percolates through the air from the neighbouring agricultural fairgrounds. At the centre of group atop the platform is a lone rider, Tory Nyhaug, a 23-year-old from suburban Vancouver who is Canada's best shot at a medal in BMX racing, a sport of mayhem, at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The Games might be a year away, but time is short: Nyhaug trains with an eye focused directly on Rio, working on a major overhaul of his starting technique.

He stands poised on his bike in the start gate, at the edge of a ramp that falls precipitously to a big jump and a winding course of bumps and jumps.

It's a 400-metre-long whirl that lasts barely half a minute as elite riders rip around it at 40 kilometres an hour.

The start is essential. Among eight racers in a contest, the one or two who break into the early lead almost always stand atop the podium at the finish.

"Riders ready?" a recorded voice intones from the start box. "Watch the gate."

There are four GoPro cameras mounted on the chainlink fencing at the start and down the ramp. Nyhaug's technique is also recorded on an iPad and iPhone. Nyhaug's hips are up, his body pitched forward, his front tire against the metal start gate.

Beeeeeep! The gate drops; Nyhaug hurtles ahead and down, pedalling furiously, and in a flash he's on the track and over the first 12-metre jump.

The other five men, Nyhaug's team of experts, huddle to confer. Technique is dissected in slow motion on the iPad and computer monitor, frame by frame. Nyhaug returns after circling the track. "C'est pas mal," says the coach, Pierre-Henri Sauze, a Frenchman. "Not bad at all."

This is a glimpse into how an Olympic medal contender is crafted. The effort is expensive, intense and involves a sprawling team. On this Thursday, the third of a three-day camp of sessions on the start ramp and off-track meetings, there is Sauze, Nyhaug's long-time coach; Paulo Saldanha, a physiologist; Richard Monette, a psychologist; Matt Jensen, a biomechanist; and J.D.

Miller, co-founder of B2ten, the Montreal group that connects private cash with potential Olympic medalists. In the early afternoon, physiotherapist Damien Moroney joins the group.

Small nuances are the focus in the effort to improve Nyhaug's starts. In the past - including in a silver-medal performance at the 2014 world championships - the 6-foot-1, 200-pound rider has relied on muscle to generate power, at the expense of ideal technique. For Rio, Nyhaug needs to change. His pelvis and hips are dipping, his team has concluded, rather than powering ahead, so his torso straightens, rather than driving forward in a tilt.

The result is Nyhaug produces a strong push on his first turn of the pedals, leading with his left foot down the ramp, but then his second, third and fourth turns are not as powerful as they could be. These are small fractions, but getting out in front keeps a rider ahead of the fray and race-ruining crashes.

"This is parsing out the last 2, 3 per cent," Miller says at lunch at a nearby restaurant. BMX, once a subculture sport such as skateboarding or snowboarding used to be, has changed, an inevitability since its debut as an Olympic competition at Beijing in 2008.

"This is where the game is played at this level," Miller says.

B2ten emerged from what Miller and a small group did for moguls skier Jenn Heil starting in the early 2000s, which helped lead to Heil's gold medal at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics.

B2ten has grown ever since, helping to support dozens of athletes. Miller is an evangelist for specialized training for the most promising individuals.

Everyone here is convinced the best results come from the group working together, in person. For instance, Monette, the psychologist, sometimes acts as translator if Nyhaug doesn't initially absorb instructions from other team members. B2ten contributes about $100,000 a year to support Nyhaug.

The work on Nyhaug's start is similar to the effort that turned swimmer Brent Hayden, another B2ten athlete, into a faster starter ahead of the 2012 London Olympics, where Hayden won bronze in the 100-metre freestyle.

Nyhaug has struggled with injuries. At 14, he broke both his arms in one crash. He has twice ruptured his spleen, first in 2010 and then again in the months ahead of the 2012 Games, in an accident that also left him with a concussion and fractured wrist.

Two months later, he raced in London and barely missed the semi-finals.

His silver at the 2014 world championships was a beacon.

Then, at the end of the year, Nyhaug smashed a bone in his left foot, and six screws were permanently embedded during the reconstruction. Recovery took months. He is only now returning to race form - but, as in 2012, he has pulled off an impressive comeback.

At the training track, Nyhaug explains the focus on his starts.

"If you come off the start in a final in fourth or fifth, realistically, the best you can probably do is a podium - squeeze second, third," he says. Gold can vanish in an instant. "The chance of you winning at any major race if you get cut off down the hill is pretty remote."

Moroney arrives and applies six pieces of therapeutic Leukotape in the shape of a capital I to Nyhaug's lower back. There's a stiffness to the tape, so if Nyhaug rounds his lower back - which he's not supposed to do - he'll feel a tug. It's a physical cue.

Nyhaug does a couple standing starts on his bike on flat ground.

He immediately likes it. "I should have this on all the time," Nyhaug says with a smile.

"It makes my posture better."

Up on the ramp, with Nyhaug in the start gate, Moroney says: "Don't think too much." A pause.

"With six people around you."

There are laughs. "Today's goal is not a perfect start."

The beep sounds, the gate drops and Nyhaug is away. "Pretty good, pretty good," Sauze says.

Miller approves: "He learns quickly. It's amazing."

At lunch, Nyhaug and Sauze sit across the table from each other.

Six years ago, Nyhaug first sought out Sauze, a BMX rider from the 1980s and veteran coach. Nyhaug, in high school, had promise, and there wasn't any sort of national BMX team in Canada.

The two look at each other. So much has happened since then, and now, the goal is clear.

"To win that medal," Sauze says.

They smile, and bump fists.

Associated Graphic

BMX rider Tory Nyhaug won a silver medal at the 2014 world championships, but has struggled with injuries.


'For women, everything is kept quiet'
Friday, August 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R5

'People are going to hate this.

You know that, right?" That's what Aline Kominsky, the underground-comics artist, told the writer-director Marielle Heller when Heller showed Kominsky her screenplay for The Diary of a Teenage Girl. "This is a risky piece of work," Kominsky went on. "Be prepared that people are not going to be comfortable with this."

Kominsky said those things not because Heller didn't do justice to the source material, an autobiographical graphic novel by Phoebe Gloeckner. Nor because Kominsky is a character in the story (in real life, she's a mentor to Gloeckner). She said it because the title character, Minnie, is a 15year-old in San Francisco circa 1976 who has sex with her mother's 35-year-old boyfriend, Monroe, and likes it. She also has a threesome, drops acid and performs oral sex in a bar bathroom while pretending to be a prostitute.

Many of the financiers to whom Heller pitched her screenplay were nervous, too. "They said, 'If you softened it a bit, if you made her 18, that would make it easier to handle,' " Heller says in a phone interview. She didn't flinch, though. She made her film, and steeled herself for hostile reactions.

But here's the thing - she didn't get any (well, barely any). The Diary of a Teenage Girl, starring Alexander Skarsgard as Monroe and newcomer Bel Powley as Minnie, received rapturous reviews when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last January, and again when it opened in Toronto last week. (It expands to new cities in Canada this weekend.) Apparently, people were just as hungry for this story as Heller herself was when she first read Gloeckner's novel 10 years ago.

"You almost don't realize that you have a void until it's filled," Heller says. "My experiences weren't Minnie's, but I had her exact feelings. I was sexually active at a young age. I was interested in boys from the moment I could breathe. I felt I was weird.

So reading Phoebe's book was this lightning bolt moment: 'Oh my god, I'm not alone.' "Heller originally wrote Diary as a play, staged it in New York in 2010, and cast herself as Minnie.

But the story, with its underlying issue of women's representation, stuck under her skin. "I always identified with boys in movies," Heller says. "I thought I must be a boy, because I'd never seen a representation of girls having the types of thoughts I was having.

We have a real fear of teenage girls' sexuality. We don't want to acknowledge that they're sexual beings, with as much agency as men have. It perpetuates this bad cycle where we don't tell the stories of young women." In a separate phone interview, Powley agreed - so enthusiastically that she choked on her gum, and had to pause for a sip of water. "People make movies about boys getting laid, boys losing their virginity, boys having sex with apple pies," she says in her native London accent. "As a boy, anything you do, it's hilarious and fine. All your weird thoughts aren't weird; everyone's having them. Whereas for women, everything is kept quiet, and it's really taboo."

"Quiet," thankfully, is not a word one would apply to Powley, 23. The daughter of an actor father and casting-director mother, she is fast becoming a go-to actress for roles that require precociousness, be it the British television series M.I. High, a bubbly turn on Broadway as a math prodigy in Tom Stoppard's Arcadia, or the just-announced film Carrie Pilby, based on the youngadult novel about a serious-minded 19-year-old Harvard grad set loose in New York.

Heller hired Powley off a taped audition - a rare occurrence, and a bold call for a character who's in every scene and has to embody every emotion. "Bel's this dynamo. She just blows people's minds," Heller says. "Yet she's relatable to people of all ages - people go, 'Oh, that's me, I see myself in her.' " To get into Minnie's mindset, Powley watched Terrence Malick's Badlands, listened to Janis Joplin and read graphic novels, including Diane Noomin's Didi Glitz stories.

During our call, Powley chatters amiably about her first love (in high school; they're still friends); her nerves about taking on a role this demanding ("I had to be Minnie for 24 days straight, there was nowhere to hide"); and the nudity clause in her contract, which was a whopping 12 pages long. "I was surprised, because I didn't remember there being that much sex in the script," she says. "I took that as a positive thing: If I didn't remember it, it wasn't gratuitous."

Both she and Heller wanted the same thing for the film, Powley says: "We didn't want it to be a movie about a 15-year-old having sex with a man 20 years her senior. We wanted it to be a film about sexual exploration and coming of age. We felt Minnie represents every woman, and we wanted to honour that."

So Minnie instigates the relationship with Monroe, and is an eager participant every step of the way. "If you step back and look at the situation, he is taking advantage of her," Heller says. "But many situations that are abusive are more grey than we like to think. Many women have feelings of love mixed in, and feelings of empowerment. We tell the story from Minnie's perspective, and she doesn't feel taken advantage of."

There was plenty of rehearsal for the sex scenes (Skarsgard, who did a million of them on True Blood, kept everyone relaxed).

But all agreed that Minnie is most exposed, and most vulnerable, when she's alone in her bedroom, gazing at herself in a mirror, trying to come to terms with her new body. There's also a scene every woman recognizes with a flush of shame: Monroe shows weakness, and Minnie loses interest. "So many women - and men - have told me they relate to that moment," Heller says with a chuckle. "It makes men very sad."

"Obviously, it's nerve-wracking for me, because I don't want people to be short-sighted and see the movie as just underage sex or pedophilia or something," Powley sums up. "We live in a patriarchy where people think of females either as presexual girls or as fully sexual, adult women. They ignore this crazy part in the middle."

Happily for the filmmakers, audiences are seeing the film the way they intended. They may not be engaged in the battle they expected. But they're certainly not being ignored.

Associated Graphic

Actress Bel Powley, star of The Diary of a Teenage Girl, is fast becoming a go-to actress for roles that require precociousness. Director Marielle Heller hired Powley from a taped audition.


Citizens of the world
Short story collections from Mia Alvar and Rebecca Makkai grapple, in different ways, with the new globalized literary culture
Saturday, August 15, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R14

In the Country By Mia Alvar Knopf, 347 pages, $32

Music for Wartime By Rebecca Makkai Viking, 228 pages, $31

In his essay Art That Stays Home, included in the recent volume Where I'm Reading From, Tim Parks takes direct aim at the homogenizing effects of globalization on national literatures. In the new literary economy, Parks argues, international sales are the ultimate goal, but selling across borders - particularly to countries that might have radically different histories, attitudes and ideologies - requires the excision of anything local, any kind of nuance or particularity that would prove too foreign or difficult for a contemporary reader to comprehend. The classic novels of the globalization era, Parks argues("here echoing a similar argument forwarded two decades ago by Stephen Henighan), rely on easily accessible situations and emotions and leave out anything that might be uncomfortable or confusing for a reader not steeped in a particular culture.

"The universalist approach, that is," Parks writes, "invites us to extrapolate or identify some easily communicable, generic element - unequal power relationships, existential anxieties, or some key idea central to all human life - and tells us that this is what matters about the work of art, not the nature of its engagement with its culture of origin, with the colors of the rooms, the furnishings, the things people wore, or habitual body postures of the time." Flannery O'Connor could never make it as a writer in the age of globalization, so defiantly idiosyncratic is her work, so insistently is it embedded in a specific time and place. Dutch novelist Herman Koch, on the other hand("Parks's own example), travels easily - the family tension in his novel The Dinner readily supplants a more focused examination of contemporary Dutch culture and society.

Mia Alvar is perfectly placed as a writer of the new globalized literary culture. Born in Manila and raised in Bahrain and New York City, Alvar is a true diaspora author, straddling three separate cultures. All three appear at different points in the nine stories that comprise Alvar's debut collection, but only rarely do we get the sense that the stories are truly wedded to their settings; many of them could easily be transplanted to different cities on different continents without much in the way of alteration.

Esmeralda is grounded in a specific time and place: New York City on September 11, 2001. It tells the story of a Filipina cleaner who has conducted a fleeting affair with a businessman who works in an office on one of the top floors of the World Trade Center towers; when the terrorist attack occurs, she connives her way onto a medical transport headed for ground zero with the intention of locating her erstwhile lover. The story is told in the second person, which is always a risky pose for an author to strike: Too often the voice comes off sounding unnatural and affected, as is the case in certain moments here. The use of 9/11 as a backdrop locates the story in a specific time and place, true, but also seems like a bit of a dodge, an attempt to lend the story greater heft than it would otherwise have.

By contrast, Old Girl, about a woman whose arrogant and thoughtless husband - a former politician in the couple's home of Manila - decides on a whim to run the Boston marathon, suffers from the malaise Parks isolates in his essay; the danger the husband faced back home("he was imprisoned as a result of his political activities, which may or may not have included a terrorist bombing) is sketched broadly and never truly comes alive for the reader, while the domestic strife that results from the marriage of a self-absorbed man to a long-suffering woman is universal in the most basic sense.

Alvar addresses fraught material and milieus: The history of the Philippines is turbulent("as is evidenced in the volume's title story), and there are attempts made to deal with class and racial disparities around the Filipino immigrant culture in the Middle East. But the impulse to universalize these stories at the expense of zeroing in on what makes them unique too often means the stories end up resembling the radionovelas("soap operas) so many of Alvar's matrons consume.

Rebecca Makkai also ranges widely in her debut collection - from Hungary during the Second World War to contemporary Chicago - but the stories are united by a focus on the twin poles alluded to in the book's title, and a penetrating streak of psychological acuity and insight. An author's note at the back of the book indicates that the 17 stories in the volume - a remarkably heterodox group, varied in terms of subject and approach - were written over the course of 13 years, and it shows: Evident patience and care have been taken with these stories to tease out their meaning and emotion while retaining an admirable subtlety and suggestiveness.

In addition to the broad themes of music and war, other elements help integrate these stories. Racial prejudice surfaces in Painted Ocean, Painted Ship, in which a Coleridge scholar runs afoul of the administration at the university where she teaches when she mistakes a ChineseAmerican student for a recently transplanted Korean. In Cross, a celebrated cellist returns home after a summer away to find a makeshift cross on her lawn marking the spot where a female motorcycle passenger died in a collision. When she calls the local sheriff's office to ask for specifics about the accident, she is told that it happened "out in front of that Oriental musician's house."

Counter to Alvar's maximalist tendencies("the stories in In the Country average around 30 pages apiece, with the title story maxing out at close to 90), Makkai works in miniature, often employing elision as a narrative strategy. Everything We Know about the Bomber provides a list of brief, elliptical paragraphs that offer the information alluded to in the title as a means of illustrating the final impossibility of truly gaining access to another person's motivations or drives. And Exposition, presented as an audiotape transcript of evidence in the("apparently politically motivated) murder of a concert pianist, literalizes the elisions by redacting specifics of time, place and personages.

Makkai is unafraid to inject uncanny or curious elements into her narratives - an elephant in a travelling circus keels over dead, bringing to an end an extended drought in a small town and replacing it with torrential rains; a miniature version of Johann Bach climbs out of a contemporary woman's piano, grows to full height and commences an affair with his startled host. We accept these bizarre situations thanks to Makkai's confident control and her careful modulation of tone and pace. Ultimately, Makkai's stories evince an opposite impulse from Alvar's: Where the latter strains to make the specific universal, the former finds her power in uniqueness and individuality.

Steven W. Beattie writes a monthly column about short stories for The Globe.

There's no such thing as a (worry) free lunch
Parents shopping for new lunch containers are ensuring their purchases are BPA-free. But, as Adriana Barton reports, the bisphenol-A substitutes may be no safer than what they replaced
Wednesday, August 26, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L1

Lunch boxes are like socks. Even if you try to keep tabs on them, the lids and containers end up being mismatched and grungy by the time school is out. By now, many parents are in the market for a new one, and back-to-school sales are full of sparkling plastic lunch boxes in candy colours - all marked "BPA-free."

The label means that the product does not contain bisphenol A, a synthetic compound associated with a litany of health problems, from cardiovascular disease to poor brain development and an increased risk for certain cancers. BPA is among the most widely used chemicals in the plastics industry, found in everything from dental sealants to cash-register receipts and the lining of tin cans.

But growing evidence suggests that BPAfree products are no safer than the hard plastics they replaced. In fact, some chemical alternatives may be more potent than BPA.

In 2008, Health Canada made global headlines by banning the sale of polycarbonate baby bottles containing bisphenol A. Canada went a step further in 2010, declaring BPA a toxin (the designation allows the government to develop regulations around a chemical's use).

Despite this move, the agency has maintained ever since that "current dietary exposure to BPA through food packaging uses is not expected to pose a health risk to the general population, including newborns and infants."

But manufacturers realized that no consumer would touch a food container made with a recognized toxin with a 10-foot pole.

Before long, BPA-free became the consumer products industry standard.

Now, it turns out that chemicals used instead of BPA, including bisphenol S and F, may act in similar ways to BPA. In rats and mice, BPA is known to disrupt the endocrine system, the network of glands that produce hormones that regulate metabolism, growth, brain function and reproduction.

An analysis published in March in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives evaluated 32 studies on how bisphenol S and F behaved in Petri dishes and living organisms.

Based on existing research, the authors wrote, "BPS and BPF are as hormonally active as BPA, and they have endocrine-disrupting effects."

Deborah Kurrasch, an assistant professor of medical genetics at the University of Calgary, found that zebrafish exposed to both BPA and BPS showed an overgrowth of nervous tissue, and signs of hyperactivity. Trace amounts of BPS increased neuron cell growth in zebrafish by 240 per cent.

"Our results show that BPA-free products are not necessarily safer," concluded her study, published in January in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

George Bittner, a neurobiologist at the University of Texas at Austin, has been testing plastic containers for synthetic estrogens (which are believed to disrupt the endocrine system) for more than a decade. "If what you substitute for BPA has estrogenic activity, you haven't solved a thing except a marketing problem," says Bittner, who set up his lab using a grant from the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

BPA-free is not a safety standard. Federal authorities in Canada and the United States do not test plastics, nor do they require chemical companies to test the toxicity of new materials, including BPA replacements, before they hit the market.

What's more, manufacturers do not have to reveal the chemical formulations of plastics that come in contact with food. "We have no idea what's in these products," said Frederick vom Saal, a specialist in endocrine disruption at the University of Missouri at Columbia who has done extensive research on BPA.

Hundreds of studies have demonstrated BPA's toxicity in rodents. But as of yet, scientists have been unable to prove without a doubt that BPA and similar chemicals cause disease in humans. Researchers cannot dose human sub1jects with BPA for ethical reasons. Nearly 100 epidemiological studies have shown a link between BPA in humans and an increased risk for diabetes, reproductive problems and developmental effects, but studies like these can only identify correlations, not causes.

Some researchers have challenged whether BPA at current levels poses a public health threat.

In a study published in April in the journal Pediatrics, a team at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health noted that the vast majority of U.S. newborns had been exposed to BPA. But after analyzing the form of BPA found in urine samples, the researchers suggested that infants can rid their bodies of the chemical.

Vom Saal called the study's conclusion "inane." He pointed out that a basic assumption in pharmacokinetics - the study of how drugs move in, through and out of the body - is that one can evaluate the presence of a drug or chemical in the body only "based on measuring blood," not urine.

He believes that many studies on BPA are funded by the chemical industry, which has a vested interest in promoting the idea that BPA and BPA alternatives are safe at low levels. In 2006, vom Saal did an analysis of BPA-related studies and found that 11 out of 11 industry-funded studies determined the chemical to be relatively safe, while 109 of 119 studies that had no industry funding did see negative effects on health.

While the health effects of longterm exposure to BPA and BPA alternatives are uncertain, there is little doubt that the plastics we use every day are leaching synthetic estrogens.

In a 2014 study, Bittner's lab in Austin, Tex., tested 50 BPA-free products from companies including Camelback, Nalgene and Lock&Lock. The study found that almost all leached estrogenic chemicals, regardless of whether the plastics were exposed to heat, steam pressure or ultraviolet rays, conditions known to increase the release of chemical compounds.

Plastics considered more chemically inert, such as polypropylene used in yogurt containers, or the polyethylene used to make plastic bags, may also release harmful chemicals, depending on how they are formulated. Even the colours added to plastics may increase estrogenic activity, Bittner said.

Some researchers question why BPA and BPA alternatives are being singled out, considering the array of chemicals that enter our water supply, including synthetic estrogens from hormonal contraceptives as well as antidepressants and other pharmaceutical drugs.

The relative harm from different sources of synthetic estrogens "really is unknown," Bittner said. One reason to focus on estrogenic chemicals in plastics is that the problem could be easily solved. "It's a simple matter of using certain chemicals and not others in the manufacturing process, and then testing the products to see if they release chemicals with estrogenic activity," he said. "It's not expensive."

As it stands, glass or stainlesssteel food containers are considered safer than plastic or silicone. But even if parents use only nonplastic lunch boxes, more often than not, the breads, cheeses, carrots and snacks they pack for their kids were purchased in soft plastic bags, or from hard plastic bulk bins. All are manufactured using an array of chemicals that may - or may not - be harmful.

Associated Graphic


World bronze sets Canadian sprinter on track to be fastest man
Few rises are actually meteoric; this one is becoming Halley's comet
Monday, August 24, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A1

Andre De Grasse ran his first 100-metre sprint in borrowed shoes and gym shorts. He took a standing start, because he didn't know how to get into the blocks.

That was in 2012.

Two months back, no one outside the small clique of Canadian track and field had heard of him.

A pair of runs at June's U.S. collegiate championships - golds won less than an hour apart - pushed him just inside the periphery of the national consciousness.

Four weeks ago, it seemed as if the domestic success of Toronto's Pan Am Games depended entirely on him. Mr. De Grasse did what great performers do - he repeated under pressure.

By this morning, the former basketball hopeful, who took up sprinting on a lark, may be the most observed and expectant athlete in the country. Few rises are actually meteoric. This one is shaping up as Halley's comet.

Most of us won't see its like again.

Mr. De Grasse won a battling bronze at the IAAF world championship in Beijing on Sunday night.

Jamaica's Usain Bolt won in 9.79 seconds followed by American Justin Gatlin in 9.80. Mr. De Grasse's time was a career-best 9.92 seconds and a rare tie, with American Trayvon Bromell. The 20-year-old Canadian bent his body to nearly 90 degrees at the finish, chinning out a result.

Whatever legend Mr. De Grasse builds from now on will include that small, desperate gesture. It's propelled him onto the world stage.

From here on in, Mr. De Grasse is no longer a comer. He's arrived. He is still growing into his body and learning the basics of his craft, but he's already poised to take a place as the fastest man on Earth. The question has gone from an "if" to a "when." Maybe it'll be Rio, or Tokyo, or even Toronto.

In 2024, Mr. De Grasse will be the same age Donovan Bailey was when he won his first Olympic gold.

It may be a journey of years, which is what makes this morning so portentous and thrilling.

It's a debatable point, but there are three seminal sporting moments in the past quartercentury or so of Canadian sport: the night Ben Johnson won in Seoul; the moment you heard he'd been disqualified three days later; and Mr. Bailey redeeming us in Atlanta.

We don't follow track on a regular basis. For the most part, we don't notice any of these people until halfway through a Summer Games. Once we do, it's an hour-long romance.

But if you're a certain age, I'll bet very few of your memories are as crystalline as those three.

They amount to less than 30 seconds total of a life. But that's one of the reasons sprinting has so much imaginative breadth - everything changes in an instant.

At one end of the track, you're great. By the time you get to the other, you're The Greatest.

For some reason, and in the best possible sense, all the rest of us are implicated in that change.

I watched Mr. Johnson win in a lame Bloor Street wine bar.

Why a wine bar? Because I'm not the most organized person.

It was late at night. We were walking by, caught sight of the TV and had an "Oh crap, we're missing this" moment. We piled into the entrance, saw it happen and left. We were the first people out on the streets.

One minute, we were alone.

The next, we were surrounded.

It was like Dawn of the Dead in reverse.

I was at work when I heard it had all fallen apart - at a movie theatre in downtown Toronto.

One of the ticket ladies had the habit of listening to the radio via earphones. She stood up suddenly during a rush and announced to the entire foyer: "Ben Johnson has just been disqualified from the Olympics."

Everyone went quiet, and then one person yelled, "No."

I watched Mr. Bailey win in the apartment of my then upstairs neighbour. There were eight of us. We'd all been sitting around for hours, drinking ourselves stuporous. There were three false starts. A frustrated friend got up and went to the bathroom. When he came running back in panic, pants flapping, we were all piled in a hooting scrum in the middle of the room.

"That's the stupidest thing I've ever done," he said miserably.

And it was.

I can't remember much about last week. Occasionally, I forget my phone number. But I remember everything about those three turning points in Canadian history.

Twenty years on, we finally have the realistic hope of seeing another one. It takes a little getting used to.

Even the man in whose footsteps Mr. De Grasse follows was having trouble with that idea before the beginning of Sunday's race.

"All that matters is that he's proven he belongs," said Mr. Bailey, watching from a CBC studio. You could see where he was headed with this. Mr. Bailey had called the participants of Sunday's final "the greatest field ever." All the focus was on Mr. Bolt versus Mr. Gatlin. Mr. Bailey was preparing to give Mr. De Grasse a consoling, electronic hug.

Right after the race, there was a bit of confusion. We knew Mr. Bolt had won, but the rest of the results hadn't been posted.

Mr. Bailey finally got a second look at the finish.

"Oh my goodness! Did he get third? Tied for bronze?!"

Even someone this expert is just waking up to what Mr. De Grasse is already capable of.

From the perspective of right now, he'll still be an underdog at Rio 2016. He's at least four or five years from his peak. But Mr.

De Grasse has steadily proved that, in his world, a year is a very long time.

He will arrive in Brazil having gone from a cultish curiosity to a national obsession. He's a star now. He'll be a far brighter one by then.

The Olympic 100-metre final is scheduled to start late on Sunday, Aug. 14. If things go exactly right during those 10 seconds, Mr. De Grasse will end that evening as the biggest star anywhere, and you and I will end it with another unforgettable mnemonic signpost in our lives.

Follow me on Twitter: @cathalkelly

Associated Graphic

Canada's Andre De Grasse (Lane 9) ties for third place in the 100 metres at the IAAF world championships in Beijing. Usain Bolt of Jamaica won gold and Justin Gatlin of the United States got silver.


Canadian Andre De Grasse reacts after the men's 100-metre final during the 15th IAAF World Championships at the National Stadium in Beijing on Sunday. Mr. De Grasse earned a bronze in the event.


Nightmare rental just a mouse click away
A cautionary tale on how using a website for short-term stays can go horribly wrong at the hands of a scam artist
Friday, August 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page G5

A Toronto property manager had been using a popular website to rent out a unit in the King and Spadina area for $2,000 a week.

After a year using the HomeAway service, things had been going smoothly - until a woman recently made a week-long booking. Her stay was coming to an end, so the property manager had sent her e-mails, wondering when she'd be checking out. He needed to get the place cleaned for the next guest. The woman wasn't responding. He didn't think much of it until he finally called the apartment the day of her check out, and a male voice answered.

He said: "Who the hell is this?" And the voice said: "I'm the tenant. Who the hell is this?" He said: "I'm the property manager."

The man hung up. And that's when he realized that he might have a problem on his hands.

"I raced down there and opened the door and there was a family from South America - 12 people, kids, baby stuff everywhere. They had just arrived from Canada. I was like: 'What the hell is going on? You need to leave.' They didn't believe me."

The woman who'd rented the unit through HomeAway was nowhere to be found.

As they realized they'd been scammed, one of the women started crying. Feeling badly for them, the property manager gave them 24 hours to vacate.

The unit normally rents for $4,000 a month, but the family had paid $2,000 cash for one month's rent. They had responded to an ad on Kijiji that the woman had placed, complete with photos.

She knew what she was doing.

Once she arrived and obtained the key from the property manager, she'd immediately set to work. She copied the key several times and put together a twopage welcoming binder filled with details, such as the Internet password.

"It was crazy. She gave them a laminated manual," he says.

She seemed legitimate. But she wasn't. She was a con artist.

The property manager didn't want to give his name partly because being scammed is bad for business and partly because the condo owner has a public profile. So, we'll call him John.

But John is also embarrassed because it didn't end there.

The day the family from South America cleared out, he was at the apartment with a locksmith.

"He was changing the lock and people were showing up, saying, 'I'm here to move in.' I said, 'What?' "The concierge said: 'What the hell is going on here?' People were showing up with moving trucks. We realized she had rented it over and over. It was horrible."

In all, the woman had conned 10 people out of at least $26,000 cash, for stays of varying lengths.

"We told them: 'You have to go to the police.' There was nothing we could do," John says.

The woman, who'd told one victim she was from Nigeria, had booked the apartment with a stolen credit card. Initially, HomeAway paid the property manager upfront for the rental, but once the card was recognized as stolen a few days later, he says it clawed back the payment.

"They just kept saying, 'You paid for us to advertise your property for rent. If you have problems with your tenants, it's your fault.' " HomeAway did not respond to requests for an interview.

Police confirmed they received at least one complaint about the incident, and are investigating.

Constable Victor Kwong, Toronto Police media relations officer, says property scams pop up now and then. Also this summer, a man posed as a doctor who was renting out one of his many rental properties. He was actually a former tenant who still had a key. He rented out the apartment to six different families, obtaining first and last months' rent.

With online short-term renting, it can be even riskier because you might think you are more protected than you are.

"The problem with something like this is it's pretty much an unregulated industry where you have no idea who you are renting your place to," Constable Kwong says. "We will do an investigation, but there are no promises we will catch someone.

We'll try. The more that these are reported to us, the more it will help with the investigation."

John had 10 more bookings with HomeAway for the summer. He cancelled all of them and switched over to Airbnb. Of the 10 guests, he rebooked eight of them through Airbnb, which he trusts.

However, as of Sept. 1, the unit will no longer be available for short-term rentals. "We're done," says John, who manages 40 properties.

He will only consider one-year leases, with tenants who pass the usual checks for previous landlord references, credit rating and work status.

"Because the police were involved and it caused a major commotion for the concierge for four or five days, they had an emergency meeting and changed the [building] policy within 30 days. The owner got a cease and desist letter."

Through short-term rentals, the owner was making $7,000 after paying the property manager fees, including cleaning.

With a regular leased tenant, he's going to make around $4,000 a month.

Although the short-term rentals made the owner a lot more money for the year, John says it's not worth the risk. "I get calls once a week saying, 'I want to rent my place out for a week, because everyone does it. I see it on the news.' "But people have no idea what they're getting into. People don't understand that if a one-week tenant overloads the washing machine and water spews out, the owner pays tens of thousands of dollars in damage. Your insurance would be null and void."

If you're a renter, go through a broker, Constable Kwong advises. At least get the contract checked over by an agent or a lawyer. It's worth the expense.

And don't pay your deposit in cash. Landlords should request certified cheques, John adds. "As soon as you surrender the keys to that person, if their cheques bounce, you're screwed."

Both tenant and landlord should ask for references that show the person is credible.

Don't trust referrals from previous landlords, he advises. They might just be desperate to get rid of a bad tenant. Landlords should make sure they're properly insured. And they should get as much identification as possible.

Ask for a criminal background check, as well as a credit check, or any other check you require as a landlord, Kwong says.

"There are tons of checks and balances."

Associated Graphic

A Toronto property manager found out that someone who he had rented a downtown condo to had conned 10 people by renting out the unit to them.


Passing the basketball torch
Canadian NBA stars Andrew Wiggins, Tyler Ennis and Kelly Olynyk come home to play a little hoops with Raptor Kyle Lowry and share the magic with 50 Toronto-area kids who dream of becoming the next generation of Canadian basketball heroes
Monday, August 17, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A6

TORONTO -- Not long ago, it would have been tough to name three Canadian players in the National Basketball Association. On Sunday, three of them were gathered in the same gym, looking out on a crowd of young players with dreams of becoming the next one.

Canadian NBA rookies Andrew Wiggins, Tyler Ennis and Kelly Olynyk joined Toronto Raptor point guard Kyle Lowry at the Air Canada Centre to hold a clinic with 50 Toronto-area boys and girls. The four pros just inked endorsement deals with BMO Financial Group to help grow grassroots basketball across the nation at a time when its popularity is exploding in the midst of a crucial year.

This is a summer packed with momentum-generating events for Canadian basketball. It began with medals at the Pan Am Games for both the men and women, and the inspiring performances of fiery youngsters such as Kia Nurse and Jamal Murray. There was the dominant effort of the Canadian women at their qualifier in Edmonton for the 2016 Rio Olympics, and now the men's team - already called the best collection of Canadian basketball talent ever assembled - is preparing to try to qualify for its first Olympics since 2000.

"We're at the most important stage there is; we've got to qualify and it's not going to be easy with so many good teams there," said Mr. Wiggins, the 20-year-old Minnesota Timberwolves star. "Yeah, there is a little pressure, but it's always positive pressure.

It makes us hungry, makes us work harder. We don't want to disappoint anybody."

Mr. Wiggins scrambled around playfully under the hoop, rebounding basketballs as fast as the kids could toss them up. The 2014 first-overall NBA draft pick, and the central figure in Canada's flourishing basketball movement, looked like a kid all over again as he played the role of ball boy while overseeing a shooting drill.

"For me, I would have loved something like this when I was a kid, even though I was really shy, so I wouldn't have asked them any questions," said Mr. Wiggins. "It's been crazy the last few years, with so many Canadian players who have been successful in the NBA, but it all started before us with guys like Steve Nash opening doors for us. Now we're opening doors for the younger ones."

The kids squeaked across the hardwood of the Raptors' practice gym in their lavish, bright-coloured sneakers.

They hailed from local neighbourhoods corresponding to the various NBA stars: Mr. Wiggins leading players from Vaughan; Mr. Olynyk those from Scarborough; the American Raptor Mr. Lowry with kids from Toronto; and Mr. Ennis with CIA Bounce from Brampton, the powerhouse program that also produced Mr. Wiggins and other NBA players like Tristan Thompson and Anthony Bennett.

"I think they're really showing how good Canadians are at basketball," said 11-year-old camp participant Jared Spence of CIA Bounce. "My dream is to make it to the NBA, too, and hopefully play with LeBron James."

Mr. Ennis, who played at Syracuse University and has two older brothers who also played college basketball, was joined at the clinic by his six-year-old brother, Tyylon, already an avid player.

"I was a kid in Brampton running around in camps a few years ago," said Mr. Ennis, a 21-year-old point guard from the Milwaukee Bucks. "This is a pivotal point in Canadian basketball with all the success we've had over the past few years, and we want to show people that it wasn't just a good two-, three-year period, but that we'll have talent growing up and coming out of Canada for a long time."

Last season, there were a record 12 Canadians on NBA rosters, including the top overall draft picks from 2013 and 2014. It's tough for Canada Basketball to keep track of the increasing numbers of Canadians suiting up for Division I teams at U.S. universities, but 26 men appeared in the NCAA tournament, while 21 Canadians took part in the women's instalment, including Ms. Nurse in her freshman season, winning a championship with the University of Connecticut.

Mr. Wiggins and Mr. Olynyk are among those in a Toronto training camp this week as the Canadian men prepare for the Olympic qualifier in Mexico City, where they will work to secure a bid to appear in the team's first Games since Mr. Nash led Canada to the Sydney Olympics back in 2000.

"A lot of my best friends in the world I met through basketball. I've had opportunities to travel the world and experience life," said the 24-year-old Mr. Olynyk of the Boston Celtics. "It's fun to see basketball on the rise in this country and to see kids super excited and having more and more opportunities to play here now."

The long-haired Celtic made kids gather around his 7-foot, 238-pound frame as he oversaw their layup drill.

Mr. Lowry showed them the finer points of ball-handling and demonstrated the perfect wrist movement on a shooting release. Mr. Ennis showed them how to bend low, move their feet and get their hands up on defence.

The kids fired questions from the crowd like "Kyle, who's better: you or DeMar?" or "Hey Andrew, are you gonna go in the dunk competition next year?" The NBA has recognized Canada, and more specifically Toronto, as a premier target market, too. The NBA all-star game will be held in Toronto this winter, and the NBA Development League expanded into the market by awarding the Raptors their own franchise - Raptors 905 - which will play in Mississauga, another youth basketball hotbed.

If it's possible, there are even bigger expectations on the shoulders of Mr. Wiggins over the next year as he comes off his NBA rookie-of-the-year season.

He will be relied upon to lead the Canadian men in the qualifier and - should they make it - next summer in Rio. The shy and humble youngster doesn't mind the pressure.

"You have to learn to set your own goals and expectations and achieve those; because no one in the world can live up to everyone's expectations, so you have to set your own," said Mr.

Wiggins. "Back home, working with kids, I always love it. They support me, I support them, it's all love."

Associated Graphic

Above, Andrew Wiggins, the 2014 first-overall NBA draft pick, bonds with a group of kids at the BMO Basketball Clinic at the Air Canada Centre on Sunday. Far right, Kelly Olynuk is a towering obstacle for one of the young players participating in Sunday's clinic. Bottom far right, Raptors star Kyle Lowry runs a drill during the clinic at the Raptors' practice facility in the Air Canada Centre.


The outgoing Telus CEO's 'indelible mark'
Thursday, August 20, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B1

Tech . Telecom . Media

Telus Corp. doesn't often stumble, but its recent attempt at an unusual succession structure has slowed down its leadership transition plans and resulted in the loss of one of its most trusted and effective team members.

The Vancouver-based telecommunications firm said last week that president and chief executive officer Joe Natale was stepping aside immediately, making way for the return of Darren Entwistle, the former CEO who never really left, having occupied the post of executive chairman of the board since Mr. Natale's appointment in May, 2014.

Under the arrangement - which bucked the Canadian trend of keeping board and management leaders separate - the famously detail-oriented and controlling Mr. Entwistle maintained responsibility for high-level strategy and kept a hand in day-to-day operations. In a further twist, the plan was for him to work alongside Mr. Natale, his de facto co-CEO.

Except they weren't actually side by side; the company said at the time that Mr. Natale would remain based out of Telus's Toronto offices after taking the nominal top job. It now cites Mr. Natale's reluctance to relocate to the Vancouver headquarters or another city in Western Canada as the reason for his departure.

(He will remain with the company until the end of the year as a transition period.)

Mr. Natale is known to be a dedicated family man and deeply involved in Toronto's charitable and artistic communities, but many industry observers interviewed by The Globe and Mail question whether his refusal to head west was the complete reason for the transition, notwithstanding the company's insistence that it was.

"The skepticism is unfounded.

This truly is about Joe making a family decision, that I highly respect, and the company needing to make a business decision as a result," Josh Blair, an executive vice-president at Telus who directed human resources at the company for eight years, said Wednesday. He added that Mr. Entwistle and Mr. Natale continue to work well together.

"The market will make its own determination on whether there is more to the change including whether the previous structure with Entwistle as 'Executive' Chair had an impact," Greg MacDonald, an analyst with Macquarie Capital Markets Canada Ltd., wrote in a research report. "If we consider the facts though, we are comfortable saying it was certainly not an operating performance issue that prompted the move.

Natale has been in a senior operating role with this company since 2003 and the company has maintained the highest growth profiles for an incumbent globally with many of the best operating metrics in the industry."

The upshot is the loss of Mr. Natale - a well regarded industry veteran and one of the key players behind Telus's "customers first" strategy - who was long seen as the logical and likely successor to Mr. Entwistle. Telus said last year that his appointment reflected prudent planning and the desire to promote from within and Mr. Entwistle said it would provide motivation to up-andcoming executives.

But succession is off the table for now as the 52-year-old Mr. Entwistle has pledged to remain in the job on a long-term basis. His dedication to Telus is unquestionable - he had already been CEO for almost 14 years since joining in 2000 shortly before the company acquired Clearnet Communications Inc., the wireless company that became the basis of its formidable cellular business - and he makes a habit of putting his salary towards Telus stock, accumulating shares and options worth $43.5-million as of the end of 2014.

Matt Fullbrook, manager of the Clarkson Centre for Business Ethics and Board Effectiveness at the Rotman School of Management in Toronto, said succession planning is a common challenge. But while Telus is not alone in that, he said the board's decision to keep Mr. Entwistle in an executive capacity even after Mr. Natale became CEO was uncommon.

"There's a risk that any incoming CEO is going to feel overshadowed or at least bottlenecked by having the previous CEO there, especially when it's someone with as large a personality as Darren Entwistle," he said. "Clearly the board put a lot of effort and thought into it this time and it didn't work. You've got to think they learned a lot and they are, in a lot of ways, back at square one, which is not where they'd want to be. I think that the next time around, the board is likely to do a better job."

Mr. Blair said Telus still plans to look to internal candidates for the next CEO, arguing that the company's success and strong corporate culture give them no reason to look outside.

Beverly Behan, head of New York-based corporate governance consulting firm Board Advisor, said it is common practice in the United States for CEOs to transition into a board chair role and can "help smooth the transition of corporate leadership," but she noted that "typically involves a relinquishing of all management responsibilities."

Telus has described Mr. Natale, a former management consultant who joined the company in 2003, as the "architect" of its customers-first strategy in his role as chief commercial officer. A source close to the company said Mr. Natale's view on the best way to deal with the reputational issues that can plague telecom players is to accept common customer complaints at face value and work to fix them whether or not the company sees the complaints as valid.

Keeping customers happy may sound obvious, but Telus has delivered on the strategy in a way that its North American peers have been unable to replicate to date. Its rate of turnover for wireless customers on contracts in the second quarter was 0.86 per cent - compared to 1.23 per cent at BCE Inc. and 1.19 per cent at Rogers Communications Inc. - meaning the company can spend less on the cost of acquiring new subscribers.

On top of the key role Mr. Natale has played operationally, he is known to be an effective people manager, has a steadfast presence and can reliably handle issues such as tricky relations with Ottawa.

"Joe truly has left an indelible mark on Telus, he was an exceptional leader for our organization.

That said, we have an incredibly strong leadership team at all levels of the company," Mr. Blair said, adding that many people played important roles in the development of the customers-first strategy.

The loss of Mr. Natale aside, investors welcomed the news that the fiercely intelligent and experienced Mr. Entwistle would return to the CEO's post.

"The good news is Mr. Entwistle is well known to [Bay] Street as a strong operator with a proven track record. Given Mr. Entwistle has remained very active in the company's operations as Executive Chairman; we believe it will be a smooth transition," wrote Barclays Capital analyst Phillip Huang.

Don't change the channel on Corus just yet
Although Canada's broadcasting industry is rapidly changing, this company looks poised to survive cable-cutters and 'à la carte' rules
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, August 22, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B8

Such an exciting time to be a consumer of television and video in Canada! Netflix is expanding, Shomi and Crave TV are broadening their reach, and new "à la carte" rules mean greater choice in cable TV starting next year. Seemingly every day, there are more signs that the old ways of television are fading into the past.

Which is not good news for companies that have profited well, from the old ways of television. And chief among them may be Corus Entertainment Inc., the company that gets 80 per cent of its revenue from television programming and the remaining 20 per cent from conventional radio. The shares are off nearly 50 per cent from their 52-week high, hitting their low earlier this month.

The problem is that Corus's results, in which both advertising and subscriber revenue - the fees received from cable operators - are falling, seem to confirm the thesis about secular declines in its main businesses.

Corus's poor recent results have led to even worse evaluations from Bay Street, with a number of analysts slapping the rare "sell" rating on the shares.

Here's the thing, however: Corus still generates mountains of cash, and pays just a part of it out in a dividend that now yields 8.6 per cent. There's little evidence a cut is on the horizon.

Investors willing to risk their capital by betting that Corus can transition from the old ways to the new, then, will get a handsome amount of income as they watch this story unfold.

Corus, once part of Shaw Communications, will mark its 16th year as a public company next month. The company's core has been children's programming: It owns YTV, the preschool-targeting Treehouse TV, an animation studio called Nelvana, and it has acquired the Canadian rights to Nickelodeon and Disney, as well.

Over time, Corus broadened its offerings to include a number of womens' channels, Movie Central and HBO Canada.

At one time, that collection of content would be considered world-beating. But of course, an increasing number of Canadians, most young but not all, are "cutting the cord" on conventional cable. Advertisers are noticing, and moving their dollars. The Canadian government's Let's Talk TV overhaul will require cable operators to provide slimmed-down, less-expensive packages of channels as well as the "à la carte" option to pick individual channels in 2016.

As RBC Dominion Securities Inc. analyst Haran Posner puts it, Corus "does not have its head in the sand" about the structural and regulatory challenges. But the company's report for the third quarter, ended in May, suggested that there are a number of problems out of Corus's control. Revenue declined 5 per cent and missed analysts' consensus expectations. The company's EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, fell 14 per cent, also missing expectations.

"This quarter reflected a worsening outlook for Corus," wrote analyst Aravinda Galappatthige of Canaccord Genuity Group Inc., who has a "sell" rating and target price of $13.50, compared with Friday's close of $13.

"Advertising declines in TV are showing no sign of abating and remain at double-digit rates, and now we are seeing pressure on the subscriber revenues as well.

There is clearly a broad-based trend with advertisers and ad agencies re-assessing their spend mix in favour of digital platforms and [specialty cable channels are] feeling the brunt of this."

To CIBC World Markets analyst Bob Bek, this is the manifestation of his "Cracks in the Wall" thesis, which he introduced in 2011 and reiterated last fall: There will be continued pressure on TV assets given wider acceptance of television delivered via the Internet (i.e., Netflix, Hulu).

"Recent developments suggest that the 'cracks' are real, and that structural pressures are now firmly entrenched for broadcasters, with Corus's recent results reflecting as much."

Mr. Bek, who has a "sector perform" rating and $16.50 target price, suggested in July that investors inclined to buy in to Corus look at it as a trading stock, with $14 being a "floor" that represented a free cash flow yield of about 15 per cent. "While free cash flow continues to support the story, structural risks are clearly being reflected in its outsized current yield," he noted.

Well, Corus has broken through that floor, and the yield has become even more outsized.

Yet, the Corus analysts, no matter how bearish, aren't suggesting a cut is imminent. Barclays Capital's Phillip Huang, who has an "underweight" rating and $17 target, estimates Corus'' payout at just 51 per cent of current free cash flow. "We do not see a nearterm risk to the dividend."

(Thomas Peddie, Corus's chief financial officer, says that the company is forecasting to achieve its free cash flow guidance, which will support the sustainability of the current dividend.)

TD Securities' Vince Valentini, who has a "buy" rating and $18 target price, models an annual 5 per cent dividend increase and still figures on payout ratios of just 62 per cent in 2016 and 71 per cent in 2017. "This leads us to conclude that the risk/reward is favourable at current levels for long-term value investors."

And there are also those among the analyst group who feel the structural challenges to Corus are overstated, particularly with the company's recent content-acquisition deals.

Tim Casey of BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc. has a "market perform" rating and $15 target price, saying the stock will likely suffer from continuing disappointing results in the near term. However, his take on the regulatory changes is that the current method of packaging channels will, in many cases, offer more value than à la carte, and Corus's "largest and most iconic channels are likely to remain in demand and could be favoured by à la carte subscribers."

David McFadgen of Cormark Securities Inc., who has a "buy" rating and target price of $18.10, says he has a "belief that management is making the right investments to return the company to growth," with Nickelodeon and Disney yielding benefits by fiscal 2017.

Mr. McFadgen believes the shift of dollars from TV to the Internet will be "modest," and Corus's primary problems right now are a soft Canadian economy creating a weak advertising market.

In short, he says the old ways of making money in television aren't in as much jeopardy as many think. It's increasingly a minority view, but it would be a lucrative one for investors getting into Corus at these levels.

Stay tuned.

Corus Entertainment (CJR.B) Close: $13, down 1¢

Associated Graphic

Corus Entertainment, whose core business is in children's programming of which animation studio Nelvana is a part, recently saw its shares hit a 52-week low. A scene from Nelvana's Jacob Two-Two is seen above.


De Grasse readies his run for Beijing
The 20-year-old sprinter doesn't pay much attention to what his competitors are up to, preferring to keep his eye on the prize instead
The Canadian Press
Friday, August 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S3

PICKERING, ONT. -- When Usain Bolt was sprinting to three gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Andre De Grasse was 13 years old and dreaming of playing in the NBA.

He grew up playing soccer and basketball. He could rattle off the names of the best players in the English Premier League. He loved former Toronto Raptors star Vince Carter.

It's not that De Grasse didn't know who Bolt was, it's more that he didn't really care about the double world record-holder.

Things haven't changed much as the 20-year-old from Markham, Ont., gets ready to line up this weekend against the best sprinters on the planet at the world track and field championship in Beijing.

"I don't think he's going to be rattled getting in the blocks against Tyson [Gay, a three-time world champion] or Bolt," says his Canadian coach Tony Sharpe.

"He never talks about [Justin] Gatlin, Bolt, [Asafa] Powell. Never. Being a little naive about who's around you sometimes can't hurt. Takes away some of that nervous pressure.

"But there's something beyond that with Andre, in terms of competitiveness, that can't be ever coached or taught."

It's that inexplicable "something" that saw De Grasse win the 200 metres at the Pan American Games last month in Toronto, despite running out of Lane 8 and in his sixth race in three days.

"I'll go on record saying that 200 metres was the most incredible run I've seen from Lane 8," Sharpe says. "Typically, when somebody makes up the stagger on you and you're in the outside lane, it's lights out.

"But he never quit. He came back with 10 metres to go to win.

That doesn't happen. Ever."

And while reaching the podium in Beijing might be a tall order for De Grasse, who's coming off a busy Pan Am schedule and a long NCAA season, Sharpe would never count out Canada's new face of sprinting.

"Take in the fact that he ran three high-quality 100 metres [in Toronto], that [200-m victory] comes from someplace deep. It's not coachable. The guy just refuses to lose," Sharpe says. "I would never bet against him on any given day."

De Grasse has rocketed up the world rankings since Sharpe spotted him as a Grade 12 student in a high school meet at York University, racing down the track with an unorthodox and unsightly style that still makes the coach laugh.

Over coffee in Pickering, Ont., Sharpe and Andre's mom, Beverley De Grasse, roar at the memory.

"Mechanics-wise, we had to fix a few things stop looking at the sky. Like a little kid. He used to run looking at the sky," Sharpe says, chuckling. "We have videos of some of the events at York, it's hilarious - we just die watching him. We just crack up."

"I'm watching him training, and I'm saying to some of the other parents 'Oh my god, what is he looking at?' " Beverley adds - and then demonstrates, head up, arms pumping. "I remember Tony yelling over to me saying, 'I don't know how he runs that fast, looking up in the air.' " But De Grasse was a quick learner.

"He's an athlete; makes life easier," Sharpe says.

Beverley saw the speed in her son as a child, the way he could outrun his opponents with a ball at his feet, or in his hand. And he already had that relentless competitive spirit.

"When his team was down and they really needed him to come back, and win the game, he would fight down to the end," Beverley says. "He always had the fierceness about him."

His nickname "Tip" comes from basketball. His bedroom is Raptors-themed. When he was six, Beverley hired a painter to do a mural of the team's old dinosaur logo on the wall. It's still there.

Beverley and Sharpe chuckle about that, too.

"He doesn't want me to change it," Beverley says.

De Grasse's dreams of a pro basketball career had fizzled out by Grade 12 when Sharpe spotted him.

Beverley wasn't sold on her son running track. He'd been accepted to several schools around the GTA and she told him he should be focusing on making a life for himself.

But two months after he first sprinted down the track, he was beating the top high schoolers in the country. A year later, in 2013, he ran 10.25 seconds in the 100 to break the Canadian junior record.

"When you think of all the great Canadian sprinters that ran through the junior years in Canada [Donovan Bailey and Bruny Surin, to name two], for him to do that, at 18 years old, off minimal training, you know the future is pretty bright," Sharpe says.

It wasn't until his spectacular performance at this year's NCAA championship though, that De Grasse finally hit people's radars.

He won both the 100 and 200 for the USC Trojans, with less than 45 minutes between races in times - just slightly wind-aided - that made him a serious contender for the worlds and Olympic podium.

Life hasn't been the same since, Beverley says. As she poses shyly for pictures, the photographer moving her this way and that, Sharpe teasingly calls her "Paparazzi Mama."

De Grasse became the face of the Pan Am Games, appearing on posters and billboards around Toronto. The day after his last race, he was at a local track filming with CBC for an upcoming episode of The Nature of Things.

Players in a nearby flag football game spotted him and abandoned the game.

"They swarmed Andre, with their cameras," Sharpe recalls. "I said, 'Andre, you're a rock star, dude.' " Beverley isn't too worried about how her only child will handle the spotlight.

"Andre and I are very, very close, whatever is bothering him, he's not afraid to come to me and talk. That's the way I brought him up," she says. "As I say to him, 'You're 20, you're young, you have a whole life ahead of you in track.' So my expectations for him at worlds is not that he's going to go out there and win the 100 metres.

"I just want him to do the best that he can on the day and be happy with himself."

The 100-metre final is Sunday.

De Grasse isn't running the 200 but will compete as part of Canada's 4x100 relay.

Associated Graphic

Andre De Grasse, from Markham, Ont., became the face of the 2015 Pan Am Games, appearing on posters and billboards around Toronto, leading his coach to declare him a 'rock star.'


But for now he ran, so great was his will to survive. So great was his need to hide what he'd found. If he couldn't get it back to safety, at least, maybe, he could make sure those in pursuit wouldn't find it
Saturday, August 22, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R12

Every Saturday in August, Globe Books will preview some of the fall's most anticipated novels. Our summer fiction series continues with an excerpt from Louise Penny's new novel, The Nature of the Beast

Running, running, stumbling, running.

Arm up against the wiry branches whipping his face. He didn't see the root. He fell, hands splayed into the moss and mud. His assault rifle dropped and bounced and rolled from sight. Eyes wide, frantic now, Laurent Lepage scanned the forest floor and swept his hands through the dead and decaying leaves.

He could hear the footsteps behind him. Boots on the ground.

Pounding. He could almost feel the earth heaving as they got closer, closer, while he, on all fours, plowed the leaves aside.

"Come on, come on," he pleaded.

And then his bloodied and filthy hands clasped the barrel of the assault rifle and he was up and running. Bent over. Gasping for breath.

It felt as though he'd been on the run for weeks, months. A lifetime. And even as he sprinted through the forest, dodging the tree trunks, he knew the running would end soon.

But for now he ran, so great was his will to survive. So great was his need to hide what he'd found. If he couldn't get it back to safety, at least, maybe, he could make sure those in pursuit wouldn't find it.

He could hide it. Here, in this forest. And then the lion would sleep tonight. Finally.

Bang. Bangbangbang. The trees around him exploded, ripped apart by bullets.

He dove and rolled and came up behind a stump, his shoulder to the rotting wood. No protection at all.

His thoughts in these final moments did not go to his parents at home in the little Quebec village. They didn't go to his puppy, no longer a puppy but a grown dog. He didn't think of his friends, or the games on the village green in summer, or tobogganing, giddy, down the hill while the mad old poet shook her fist at them in winter. He didn't think of the hot chocolate at the end of the day in front of the fire in the bistro.

He thought only of killing those in his sights. And buying time. So that maybe, maybe, he could hide the cassette.

And then maybe, maybe, those in the village would be safe. And those in other villages would be safe. There was some comfort in knowing there would be purpose to this. His sacrifice would be for the greater good and for those he loved and the place he loved.

He raised his weapon, took aim, and squeezed the trigger.

"Bang," he said, feeling the assault rifle thrust into his shoulder.


The front line of his pursuers fell.

He leapt and rolled behind a sturdy tree, pressing so hard against it that the rough bark made a bruise on his back and he wondered if the tree might topple over. He hugged his rifle to his chest. His pulse pounding. He could feel his own heart in his ears. It threatened to drown out all other sounds.

Like swiftly approaching feet.

Laurent tried to steady himself. His breathing. His trembling.

He'd been through this before, he reminded himself. And he'd always escaped. Always. He'd escape today. He'd get back home. And there he'd have a hot drink and a pastry. And a bath.

And he'd soak away all the terrible things he'd done, and was about to do.

His hand dropped to the pocket of his torn and muddy jacket. His fingers, knuckles scraped to the bone and bleeding, felt inside. And there it was. The cassette. Safe.

Or, at least, as safe as he was.

His senses, honed and heightened, instinctively took in the musky scent of the forest floor, took in the shafts of sunlight. He took in the frantic scramble of chipmunks in the branches above him.

What he no longer heard were footsteps.

Had he killed or wounded them all? Would he get home after all?

But then he heard it. The telltale snap of a twig. Close.

They'd stopped running and were now creeping up on his position.

Surrounding him.

Laurent tried to count the feet, tried to estimate the number by the noise. But he couldn't. And he knew then it didn't matter anyway. There would be no escape this time.

And now he tasted something foreign. Something sour.

He had terror in his mouth.

He took a deep breath. In the moments he had left, Laurent Lepage looked at his filthy fingers clasped around the assault rifle. And he saw them, pink and clean, holding burgers and poutine and corn on the cob and sweet, silly pets de soeurs at the county fair.

And holding the puppy. Harvest. Named for his father's favourite album.

And now, at the last, as he hugged the rifle, Laurent began to hum.

A tune his father sang to him every night at bedtime.

"Old man look at my life," he sang under his breath. "Twenty-four and there's so much more."

Dropping the rifle, he brought out the cassette. He'd run out of time. He'd failed. And now he had to hide the cassette. Falling to his knees, he found a tangle of thick vines, old and woody. No longer caring about the noise approaching, approaching, Laurent Lepage parted the vines. They were thicker, heavier than he'd realized and he felt a spike of panic.

Had he left it too late?

He ripped and tore and clawed until a small opening appeared.

Thrusting his hand in, he dropped the cassette.

It might never be found by those who needed it. But neither, he knew, would it be found by those about to kill for it.

"But I'm all alone at last," he whispered. "Rolling home to you."

Some glint inside the bramble caught his eye.

Something was in there. Something that hadn't grown, but had been placed there. Other hands had been here before him.

Laurent Lepage, his pursuers forgotten, knelt closer and bringing both hands up, he grasped the vines and yanked them apart. The creepers clung to each other, bound together. Years, decades, eons worth of growth. And concealment.

Laurent ripped, and ripped, and tore. Until a shaft of sunlight penetrated the overgrowth, the undergrowth, and he saw what was in there. What had been hiding in there longer than Laurent had been alive.

His eyes widened.


Louise Penny is the author of 10 novels featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. The 11th, The Nature of the Beast, will be published on Aug. 25. She lives in Quebec.

Associated Graphic


Novelty hasn't worn at convivial midtown tapas spot
Neighbourhood classic Cava has maintained excellence through an ownership change while adding a downtown street-food satellite
Saturday, August 15, 2015 – Print Edition, Page M2

There was a late dinner rush at Cava the other night, on a Tuesday evening in the doldrums of summer when the subways felt empty and Yonge Street was quiet, when midtown had otherwise completed its annual northward migration to lakes Joe and Rosseau and to Georgian Bay. Cava opened in 2006; that makes it 80, at least, in restaurant years. The novelty of the place should long since have passed.

Except here was this rush, these people, the party of eight in the window, the well-heeled quartets and trios, the salt-and-pepper men, the primates of Bennington Heights, the gorgeous young couple whose arrival at 9 p.m. prompted an entire restaurant to twist around and pretend not to stare.

If novelty hadn't drawn all those diners, it was other, far rarer attributes: comfort, humility, consistency and understated decadence. Through nine years - and, as of last winter, new ownership - Cava has matured from a buzzy destination Spanish spot into a dependable neighbourhood classic.

Doug Penfold, Cava's long-time co-chef and partner, along with former general manager Niall McCotter, bought out chef Chris McDonald's interest in the restaurant last December. Mr. Penfold had been doing most of the cooking in recent years; the transition was fairly seamless.("Mr. McDonald is now the consulting chef at Barsa Taberna, on Market Street.)

Mr. Penfold has tinkered with the menu - there's more fish, and more vegetable dishes - but he had the good sense and the humility not to change things for change's sake. And his kitchen at Cava still knows how to thrill.

The "supergilda" pincho here is magnificent, a stacked composition of tomato-smeared toast and of olives wrapped in anchovies, with a whole fat sardine fillet that's rich and clean and luxuriously fatty, that's been seared to honeyed sweetness and then pickled overnight.

Cava's famed fried eggplant, too, delivers as much of a flavour jolt as it ever has. The flesh is deep fried to crisp-sweet and oozy, set in a dish of super-tart tomatillo salsa. It arrives under shavings of dried tuna belly that dance and wave in the rising steam and taste like maritime jerky. The dish isn't Spanish, exactly: It is also Japanese izakaya food, with assists from South America. Cava is Spanish at heart, but it has always played hard against type.

We had fried, creamy-centred artichokes one night that took me to Rome, except in Rome I didn't eat fried artichokes anywhere near as good as this. Cava's ceviche("hello, Peru!) is a masterwork of judgment. The balance, the seasoning, the textures are all exactly right.

And as always, there are simple pleasures to please any crowd: There's Iberico ham at the bar, and avocado toasts with herring roe, and the signature, twicecooked papas fritas that come in a paper cone, with a dish of properly smoky paprika aioli.

The soup special recently was a bowl of genius: It was a bisque, made from lobster and white fish, taut with sweet-acid tension and the tastes of anise and herbs and deep-sea minerality. It was French, not Spanish, but you'd be a fool to complain.

They do black cod here the way black cod comes everywhere: in a melting, swoon-eliciting pile, cooked in miso and apple cider vinegar. It is perfect, the tastiest cliché in all of cooking, offset with a mound of inky black rice.

The menu is long and broad and in constant flux, though rooted, always, in Cava's classic dishes.

There's also roasted cauliflower - because every restaurant in 2015 has to have roasted cauliflower - that's stirred through with herbs and lemon and served with batons of the chickpea-flour cake called panisse.

Cava, though an excellent restaurant, has never reached perfection; this too has not changed.

The venison anticuchos - skewers - one night weren't seasoned enough to stand up to the excellent red cabbage they came with; the panisse on that cauliflower plate would have been far better if it came toasty and fragrant, instead of as though it had been sitting since 3 p.m.

A special of pattypan squash and zucchini with chanterelle mushrooms was bland and boring - it didn't taste so much like a celebration of high-summer vegetables so much as faint praise, mumbled quietly. And the paella we had another night would have been fine for $25 or $30, but for $65 it wasn't even on nodding terms with good enough.

It was decent rice and not enough seafood cooked in stock for a crucial few minutes too long.

Some of this, I suspect, is owing to the restaurant's summertime street food satellite called Cava Sur, a first this year, at the Front Street Foods pop-up at Union Station. Mr. McCotter, on the phone this week, said the project, though worthwhile, has stretched the restaurant's staff.("Mr. Penfold spends the bulk of his time overseeing it.) It can't be easy to run a full-service restaurant in midtown, as well as a limited-timeonly one downtown.

Nonetheless, I love the place.

There are enough terrific dishes at Cava to warrant repeated visits - even in a city that's got no shortage of Spanish kitchens. The wine list is deep and superb and affordable.("The "affordable" part is doubly true on Monday evenings, when every bottle is 50 per cent off.) The room is comfortable: fun and convivial without being shouty. And the service, always a Cava strong suit, is friendly and deeply professional.

They are experts at reading customers here.

"You know what heaven is?" our server asked us the last time I ate there, as we tore into a plate of pinchos, and slugged from glasses of crisp Xarel-lo wine. "It's ten supergildas and half a bottle of Manzanilla sherry."

I considered it for a second and then agreed with him, and then I couldn't stop thinking about it, because that would be heaven.

Even before we'd left, I was trying to figure out when I could come back again.



1560 Yonge St.("at Heath Street West), 416-979-9918,

Atmosphere: A fun, convivial and comfortable 60-seat tapas bar and restaurant, hidden away in a midtown strip mall. Excellent service.

Wine and drinks: One of the city's most interesting and reasonable wine and sherry lists; all bottles are half price on Mondays.

Best bets: Have the supergilda and foie gras pinchos, ceviche, artichokes, black cod, sweetbreads and - a must - the deep-fried eggplant. The menu changes constantly.

Prices: Smallish plates, $3.50 to $65.

Associated Graphic

The 'supergilda' and the eggplant and queso fresco, behind, are menu highlights.


Fall is still weeks away, but it already feels as if summer is winding down. Keep the good times going by planning a trip to South America. When the chill hits here, it's just heating up
Special to The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, August 18, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L1

While summer in Canada slowly winds down, it's time to start planning a fall getaway to milder climes. With most of the continent tucked squarely under the equator, South America beckons those looking to escape the cold and discover some stunning spots right under our nose. Though Machu Picchu is a mustsee, South America has so many more many fascinating things on offer. Here is a handful of the continent's most magical spots:

Salar de Uyuni (Bolivia)

The great salt flat of Uyuni, Bolivia, is one of the most bizarre and unlikely places in the world - a desert of flat white salt that seems to never end. The prehistoric lake sits at more than 3,600 metres above sea level, inducing symptoms of altitude sickness in some. In fact, it is so white that snow blindness is also a common symptom among travellers to the area. But never fear! This is one of the world's most unusual ecosystems, featuring unexpected flora and fauna such as pink flamingos and giant cacti. A train graveyard gives visitors a glimpse into the extraction economy of the 19th century and its problems. The salt flat is only one feature of this extraordinary area, which also features active volcanoes, hot springs, geysers and oddly colourful lakes. Uyuni can really only be visited by organized tours booked out of the nearby towns and probably should not be attempted alone, given the possibly of getting lost.

Potosi (Bolivia)

There is probably no place that more represents the incredible scale of colonial-era resource extraction in South America than Potosi. In the 16th century, Cerro de Potosi, the mountain filled with silver that overlooks the city, began to be heavily exploited by Spain until it was depleted some time in the 19th century. Though mining still goes on today, Potosi is now a haven for history buffs looking to see one of the major engines of Spanish expansion in the New World. Though the colonial town is pretty for a stroll, visiting one of the mines is the real draw. The experience is shocking, to say the least. Working conditions don't seem to have changed much in the past few centuries, and it becomes all too clear why most miners don't live past 50 years old. Tours are about $20 and the most reputable company is probably Koala Tours.

Perito Moreno (Argentina)

Could the Perito Moreno glacier be the world's most epic natural wonder? I vote yes. In front of the massive floating ice field, the power and beauty of nature are more apparent than anywhere else I have seen. The creaks, crunches and crashes of the ice remind you we are but tiny organisms on Earth at the mercy of nature. To give you an idea how large the glacier is, consider that its surface area is just under half the size of Toronto and its full height from top to bottom (which resides under the surface of Lago Argentino) is just under half the height of the CN Tower. The glacier is visited from El Calafate, a lonely and tranquil frontier town that feels like the end of the Earth. In the winter time, crampons are sometimes needed to get around the city's icy streets.

Colca Canyon (Peru)

Just north of the pretty Peruvian town of Arequipa is the Colca Canyon, one of the world's deepest and certainly one the most awe-inspiring. There are about a dozen traditional villages dotted around the region where terraced farming is still practised, offering a glimpse into the past (and present) of indigenous Peruvians. The canyon's most stunning feature, however, is the condors that fly overhead. The largest birds on the planet give visitors a show and a scare as they swoop down past the viewing point Cruz del Condor and threaten to scoop up small children. It's easiest to book a two- or three-day tour of the region out of Arequipa rather than trying to explore the incredibly mountainous region yourself. The roadways are hairraising.

The Atacama Desert (Chile)

When you think of Chile you might not think of desert, but, unknown to most, a lot of the northern part of the country is made up of vast sand and salt deserts sitting on a high plateau in the shadow of the Andes.

The desert is likely the oldest in the world and is considered one of the driest places on the planet. It is also considered one of the best place for stargazing, given its constantly cloudless skies and high altitude. San Pedro de Atacama, the main town for visitors to the region, feels like a mock-up of a Wild West frontier town until you realize this is not make-believe - this is life for the people there and this is really where they live. The town can be used as a base for the surrounding wonders of the region, including geysers and hot springs and the Salar de Uyuni nearby (see above).

Medellin/Rio de Janeiro (Colombia/Brazil)

I've included these two cities on the list not because of their breathtaking geographic locations but rather because of their incredible transformation over the past few decades from dangerous, crime-ridden cities to models of urban development.

That's not to say there aren't still massive problems such as crime, police brutality, joblessness and economic inequality - some of which are getting worse - but these places are still proof that cities can change for the better. One important lesson that Medellin brought to the world is the unifying power of public transport, connecting the slums with the city and empowering people who just want to make a living and provide for their families. The city's cable car that reaches deeply into the comunas is being copied the world over for its innovation and must be taken while in the city. Police and military occupation of Rio de Janeiro's most dangerous neighbourhoods ahead of the World Cup and the Olympic Games has also changed the equation in the Brazilian coastal city. Rio's "pacification project" over the past several years that sought to break the control of drug traffickers in the favelas has not come without criticism, but the result has been a sea change in the security situation.

Associated Graphic

Bolivia's Salar de Uyuni, the world's largest salt flat, sits more than 3,600 metres above sea level. Active volcanoes, hot springs and colourful lakes are also nearby.


The Atacama Desert in Chile, above, is one of the driest places on the planet and an ideal place for stargazing. The stunning Colca Canyon in Peru, where majestic condors swoop overhead, is dotted with traditional villages where terraced farming is still practised.


Expectations for Rio soar as Canadian earns world gold in pole vault
Tuesday, August 25, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A1

Continuing a remarkable Canadian run at the IAAF track and field championships in Beijing, 21-year-old pole-vaulter Shawn Barber won the world title on Monday. It's this country's first gold at the biannual athletics event since hurdler Perdita Felicien mounted the top step in 2003.

Mr. Barber, whose given name is Shawnacy, was born in New Mexico. His father, George, from Kincardine, Ont., competed in the pole vault for Canada in the 1980s.

His son began his amateur career as a kindergartner, jumping ditches at the family farm with homemade equipment. Manufacturers don't make poles sized for fiveyear-olds.

Working under his father's guidance, Mr. Barber has been a collegiate standout at the University of Akron in Ohio. He's repeatedly broken the Canadian record, but there was little sense he had this sort of performance in him.

His jump of 5.90 metres topped a series of experienced competitors who have rather more impressive credentials than a bronze at the Commonwealth Games, where he finished last year.

How unexpected was it? The postcompetition report on the IAAF's website referenced world-record holder and fourthplace finisher Renaud Lavillenie 11 times before Mr. Barber's name appeared.

In some cases, you bury the lede. In this one, they beat it to death with a shovel.

No exercise in track snobbery can rob Mr. Barber of his superlative. He's now the best on the planet - both in pole-vaulting and quite possibly ginger-athlete terms.

His accomplishment is more than a wonderful one-off. It's part of a sea change in expectations for next summer's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Canada won one gold medal at London 2012. It arrived via trampolinist Rosie MacLennan on Day 8. By that point, the country was tied up in competitive knots. We participate with the very best of them and quite rightly take pride in it, but it's natural to want to be the best at something. Anything.

There are only so many battling third-places one country can embrace with a sense of patriotic proportion.

We took a lot of fun memories out of London, but if Ms. MacLennan hadn't pulled her surprise, the post-Games pullquote would've been "Canada pooches it again."

Going back more than 20 years, this country hasn't won more than three golds at any Summer Games. You'd have trouble recalling many of those winners, but you should try - they're keeping our international athletic reputation over the Mendoza Line. Just barely.

A few weeks ago, before the Pan Am Games introduced us to the players, we anticipated more of the same in Rio. A lot of great stories and great moments, and very few great wins. That feeling is starting to roll onto its head. Driven by Mr. Barber and his colleagues, Canada suddenly looks like a warm-weather factor.

This means the rest of us are going to have do some (sigh) homework.

Have you ever watched pole vault before? (It's the one with the bendy stick.) I'm guessing probably not. I'm guessing that most of your pole-vaulting viewing experiences are limited to YouTube clips titled "Exploding pole fail."

Well, we're a full-on pole-vaulting nation now. Canada is all pole vaulting all the time. Google Sergey Bubka and get ready to have long, angry bar conversations about optimal striking angles and the proper axis of rotation. Snapchat your sister to tell her you're going to have to skip her wedding next August because, you know, pole vaulting.

This is the power of being really good at something. Every Olympic event is worth watching, whether your rooting interest is going to finish third or 30th. But if you think you have a decent shot at the top, it becomes an event.

Canada in Rio is now polka-dotted with those occasions, as well as with a host of fresh faces who may soon be household names.

Mr. Barber's gets added to 20year-old sprinter Andre De Grasse (100-metre bronze in Beijing), 26year-old heptathlete Brianne Theisen-Eaton (silver) and 22year-old race walker Ben Thorne (bronze).

Twenty-five-year old decathlete Damian Warner (bronze at the last world championships), 24year-old long-jumper Christabel Nettey (world No. 2) and 25-yearold high-jumper Derek Drouin (2012 Olympic bronze medalist) will compete in Beijing in the coming days.

These sorts of breakthroughs tend to happen in bunches.

Maybe this is the week Canada discovers a new (first?) golden generation of multidisciplinary track stars.

A month ago, the only Olympian in Rio you would've felt sure of picking out of a crowd was basketballer Andrew Wiggins. That's how Rio was shaping up - Canada's basketball Games.

Assuming that team qualifies, you may still be feeling that way.

If so, you know they have zero chance of winning, right? Because that'll make things easier for you.


At best, Canada's men's basketball team is looking to make a minor-chord statement, ahead of a real run four years later in Tokyo. If you want winners, look elsewhere. You're being spoiled for choice.

What the Barbers, TheisenEatons and De Grasses have in common is they're young and still improving, rather than just arriving. They don't know enough to be scared, or maybe they don't know how to be. Most give the sense of competitors who are finding their form at just the right time. Even if they don't peak in Rio, many have a decade or more to reach the top. This story will stretch out.

Beyond the track, there are other hopeful signs of something beyond competence in the pool, and on the field and the water. If you were to start ticking them all off here, this column turns into a numbing sports listicle. And athletes aren't the only professionals who have their pride to think of.

Canada has had niche dominance in non-winter sports before - swimmers in the 1980s; runners in the 1980s and 90s; rowers in the 1990s. Sporadically, someone will pop into the cultural conversation for a few days, or a team such as the women's soccer team and their glorious week in 2012.

But we've never been able to tick off the daily events at a Summer Games and say to ourselves, "We could do some real damage here."

Think of how much you've enjoyed every previous Olympics, regardless of results, and then imagine how incredible it could be if we expected to win. A lot.

Seemingly out of nowhere, that's happening now.

Follow me on Twitter: @cathalkelly

Associated Graphic

Shawn Barber, 21, has his breakthrough performance in Beijing on Monday.


Noah's arc
Noah Baumbach's Mistress America is the funniest film of the year. But how did cinema's most notorious grouch embrace the lighter side of life? Thank Greta Gerwig
Friday, August 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R1

Noah Baumbach movies are not fun to watch. Populated by grouches, headcases and sociopaths, his films are uncomfortable, squirmy creations - captivating, but hardly the stuff of weekday matinees.

The Squid and the Whale, for instance, stars Jeff Daniels as an adulterous professor who regularly crushes his teenage son's dreams; Margot at the Wedding features Nicole Kidman's self-absorbed writer, who makes a game of alienating those closest to her; and, as played by Ben Stiller, Greenberg's title character is a narcissist so repulsively neurotic that even Woody Allen wouldn't dare go near him.

Plenty of filmmakers rely on unnerving anti-heroes, but what sets Baumbach apart from his peers - including occasional collaborator Wes Anderson, another sucker for schmucks - is that he has no desire to offer his characters redemption. Each is presented simply as they are: a toxic element that's best left untouched.

It's shocking to report, then, that Baumbach's latest film, Mistress America, is the best comedy of the year: a vibrant spin on screwball that's a joy to watch, with nary an irredeemable malcontent in sight.

Following the up-and-down friendship of naive college student Tracy (Lola Kirke) and her older, flighty stepsister-to-be Brooke (Greta Gerwig), the film has plenty of Baumbach's acidic dialogue, but it's softened by a light wit and characters that you actually want to spend time with. It's tempting to say the 45year-old has eased up in his later years, but there's really one reason Baumbach has shrugged off the darker corners of his mind: Gerwig.

The actress, now 32, first worked with Baumbach on 2010's Greenberg, bringing muchneeded levity in her scenes against a nervy Stiller. After that breakthrough, Gerwig and Baumbach collaborated on both a professional and personal level (by then the director had split from wife Jennifer Jason Leigh). The couple's first shared work - he directed, she co-wrote - was 2012's Frances Ha, a black-andwhite look at an aimless young woman (played by Gerwig) that recognized each of their strengths: Baumbach's comfort with the streets of New York and its dizzying characters, and Gerwig's knack for endearing loopiness.

In Mistress America, it's more clear than ever that the two balance each other out - the film is a scrappy indie comedy with a smooth academic finish. It's as if Baumbach had been only making half-films before, stumbling around the nicer parts of Brooklyn until he could find a creative equal, the manic to his depressive (to call Gerwig a muse is a great disservice to both). Perhaps unsurprisingly, Baumbach himself plays down any hyperbolic connection between the two.

"I simply think she and I see things very similarly - we just want to work on the same movies as each other," the 45-yearold says over the phone from New York, carefully doling out each sentence. "Of course, one person will feel more strongly about something and you always disagree about stuff, but you want to feel like you're in the same zone as one another, and we always do. That makes it pleasurable in a way I've never felt before. It makes it a place you want to be every day."

Also helping Mistress America's energy is the genre both filmmakers chose to exploit. Instead of sticking to Baumbach's penchant for the tense and uncomfortable, the pair co-wrote a romp that's a hybrid of screwball comedy and odd-couple farce.

George Cukor, Ernst Lubitsch and Howard Hawks are all over the tightly wound and rapidly paced film, with quips zipping by so briskly it demands a second, or third, viewing. (Its success stands in stark contrast to Peter Bogdanovich's recent attempt at the same in the dismal She's Funny That Way.)

"We knew that it was going to have an elevated comic tone, that it would float somewhere above reality," Baumbach says.

"It was a definite change for me.

As we were filming it, I thought, if I don't pull this off, it's going to be really embarrassing. It scared me a little bit, which is a good place to be."

The director was also careful to separate the work environment from the home front, though he admits part of the appeal in working with Gerwig is that oftpermeable barrier. "Making a movie is all-encompassing. When I'm writing and casting and prepping and shooting, it's a huge part of my life, so naturally I'm thinking and talking about it a lot, everywhere. But when we're doing it together, it can be almost easier," he says. "We both have the same thing in mind.

Even when we have dinner, when we go off topic, if something comes up that strikes us, we'll be, 'That's good, write that down.' "While the easy relationship was a boon for the film, working on a Baumbach film is never easy, with or without Gerwig. "There were very challenging days on set - Noah is a demanding filmmaker," says Kirke, a relative newcomer to the film world. "On IMDb, it says one scene was shot in 65 takes. No, all scenes were shot that way. I don't think I ever did less than 30, even of something like my hand putting pasta down on a table. ... Noah and Greta are very particular about saying the lines as they are on the page - you have to be word-perfect."

If some intimidation and repetitiveness was the cost of the film, then it was well worth it. Mistress America is built on tight, twisty language and the almost inpercetible tics that make up a personality - not something easily captured on the fly. It's also the rare film focusing on two strongly defined female characters, neither of whom is fighting over something so trivial as a man or money.

"Noah and Greta were intent on telling another narrative, something that's been reserved for more, like, art-house films," Kirke says. "This movie lends itself to a wider audience because it is a comedy, and that's the thing that Greta brings to Noah's already stellar work: pathos and heart."

For his part, Baumbach isn't quite ready to completely abandon his independent work.

"We're both going to do things separately, but it's something we'd definitely like to do," the director says of future Gerwig collaborations. Until then, he is putting the finishing touches on a project a world apart from Mistress America's sunny humour: a documentary about thriller master Brian De Palma.

Now if someone could only get the three of them in a room together, we'd have something truly special.

Associated Graphic


I'm pregnant and I have an eating disorder
Shame often prevents people from seeking help, but even when they take that brave step, the right services can be hard to access
Special to The Globe and Mail
Friday, August 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L5

Leila remembers shoving her finger down her throat until her lunch emptied into the toilet.

She hoped the baby growing inside her, now six months along, would be okay.

It would be easy to dismiss this scenario as something that never happens. It's hard to understand how any mother would deny her growing baby the nutrients it needs to thrive. In fact, for women like Leila, who have struggled with a history of eating disorders, anxiety or body image, pregnancy is a high-risk time for this mental-health issue to resurface.

It can even affect women who have never been diagnosed with an eating disorder.

"The only [people] who knew I had an eating disorder during my pregnancies were my husband and my eating-disorder counsellor," says Leila, who agreed to be interviewed on condition of anonymity. "I felt it was a form of child abuse and I did not want people to judge me. I was scared about what would happen to my babies and how this disorder would affect them. The only way I justified my behaviour was by thinking that some women naturally throw up during pregnancy."

Her eating disorder began at the age of 16, says Leila, now 36, healthy and a mother of two. "I was binging seven times a day. It was like a natural instinct. I would even do it at work, at home and in public. I would drive around, buy fast food and if I didn't have access to a private bathroom, I would throw up in the public washroom. It was horror."

She began to seek treatment with an eating-disorders counsellor before her first pregnancy, and felt in control during the first few months. But by the third trimester, things changed. "I wanted to manage the amount of weight I gained and I found it difficult to see my [body] getting bigger. I was dealing with an inner battle."

The latest statistics from researchers at Toronto's University Health Network and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health indicate that up to 500,000 people in Canada struggle with an eating disorder. Experts say the condition is under-reported in pregnant woman and difficult to track, but a 2013 study published in European Eating Disorders Review reported that one in 14 pregnant women in the U.K. has an eating disorder.

"It's the secrecy of shame," says Deborah Berlin-Romalis, executive director of Sheena's Place, an eating-disorder support centre in Toronto. "It is such a taboo subject; as taboo as using drugs and alcohol during pregnancy."

The stakes are high: Pregnant women with eating disorders are prone to obstetric complications, and the fetus can experience low birth-weight, growth issues and vitamin deficiencies that can lead to more severe conditions.

Weight gain during pregnancy can be a difficult reality even for those without a history of bodyimage issues; but for women who have struggled with them, the anxiety caused by the changes to the body can push them over the edge.

Berlin-Romalis believes women face immense social and professional pressure to get back to their prebaby body weight, which, in part, stokes the fire.

"We go on Facebook and feel that everyone else looks happier, thinner and more successful," she says. "You hear how quickly models and celebrities shed their baby weight, but what is this saying to women? Being a new mother is an incredibly vulnerable time and if you have any mental-health predisposition, it's a high-risk period for it to resurface."

Experts say reaching out for help and breaking that isolation is the first step toward feeling better. "You need to find a healthcare provider or mental-healthcare provider experienced in working with these issues," Berlin-Romalis says. "One of the things we find is that many health-care providers do not understand and can unintentionally deepen the harm by saying inappropriate things, such as "Just eat," "It's just a phase" or "You're just having a bad week; get outside."

But even for those who do want to ask for help, the right services can be hard to access due to lack of child care, nearby clinics, or shame.

"Women with eating disorders have high rates of postpartum depression and anxiety, but may not access treatment because they don't want others to know, or because many postpartumdepression programs fail to consider the needs of women who also struggled with eating disorders," says Dr. Simone Vigod, a psychiatrist and lead of the Reproductive Life Stages program at Women's College Hospital in Toronto.

Some programs are beginning to fill the void. In November, 2014, Sheena's Place held its first support meeting for just such a high-risk group. Called Mothers Living with Eating Disorders, it came about after Berlin-Romalis and her colleagues at Mount Sinai Hospital's Perinatal Mental Health Centre realized that more mothers needed help and that there was a gap in support.

"We are a safe space for mothers with eating disorders," BerlinRomalis says. "We offer insights and strategies and nourish a sense of hope. We help explain that it's not in their control and not their fault.

"These women are so scared of being rejected and judged for putting their child at risk," she adds. "When it affects the life of an unborn child, people don't suspend judgment. It takes a lot of courage to walk through our doors."

Vigod and her team are well aware of that as well. They incorporate a focus on eating disorders and body image into Mother Matters, a 10-week Web-based postpartum mental-health support program run by therapists at Women's College Hospital, where mothers up to a year postpartum can log in anonymously from home and participate at any time that's convenient.

Though the program is currently only offered to Ontarians because of jurisdictional healthcare issues, Vigod says the plan is to expand it across Canada, addressing barriers to receiving much-needed care.

Another option is to seek treatment from a private counsellor.

"I went to see my counsellor on a regular basis and I still keep in touch with her," Leila says. "Now I don't think I'm fat or ugly. I love my body for giving me my children."

Friends and loved ones can also help by simply listening, or helping to seek out resources, she says.

"The sufferers I've helped are strong, brave women who feel like they have gotten themselves into a situation where they feel so out of control. It's important for them to know that they are not alone and that they can definitely get better," Finkelstein says.

Associated Graphic


'Old Hardrock' was a pugnacious defender
Defenceman earned a reputation as a player not averse to employing nefarious means to prevent a rival from scoring
Special to The Globe and Mail
Wednesday, August 26, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S6

Gus Mortson was an abrasive defenceman known as Old Hardrock for his punishing bodychecks and ability to absorb a punch while engaged in fisticuffs.

Mr. Mortson, who has died at 90, won four Stanley Cups in a five-season span while with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the postwar years. In those championship seasons, he was usually paired with Jim Thomson, a stay-athome defenceman whose preferred style was to clutch and grab an opponent. The duo were dubbed the Gold Dust Twins for their effective protection of the Toronto goal.

A fine skater who enjoyed rushing with the puck, Mr. Mortson never scored more than seven goals in an NHL season. He was more effective as a hard-nosed defender often found in violation of the hockey rulebook.

He led the NHL in penalty minutes in four seasons, earning a reputation as a player not averse to employing nefarious means to prevent a rival from scoring. He contributed to many notorious melees, donnybrooks and benchclearing brawls, including a wellknown battle near the end of a playoff game in his rookie season, during which an outraged fan threw a folding chair and Mr. Mortson wrestled with a Detroit policeman. A misconduct penalty was assessed on the defenceman by the referee, but the player and the policeman later shook hands and there were no criminal charges.

James Angus Gerald Mortson was born on Jan. 24, 1925, in the Ontario agricultural and mining community of New Liskeard (now Temiskaming Shores) to Angela (née Pelangio) and Norman Mortson, a prospector. The boy was raised in Kirkland Lake, a gold-mining town also known for producing hockey players.

"From the time I was 10 years old, I was out staking property with my dad, who was always involved in claim staking and prospecting," he told the Toronto Star in 1983. "I was staking property when I broke into the NHL and even in the off-season I would go out in the bush with my dad for a week or so hunting for ore."

At 18, Mr. Mortson played for the Kirkland Lake Lakers along with teammate Ted Lindsay, a future member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. The following season he and Mr. Lindsay joined the St. Michael's Majors junior team in Toronto. Both were seconded to the Oshawa Generals for the finals of the Memorial Cup playoffs, where they helped the team sweep to the championship in four games against the junior Trail (B.C.) Smoke Eaters.

The defenceman repeated as a Memorial Cup champion in 1945 with St. Michael's.

After a year of seasoning with the minor-league Tulsa (Okla.)

Oilers, Mr. Mortson made his debut with the Maple Leafs. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound player wasted no time in exhibiting his pugnacious style. The 1946-47 season opened with an exhibition game pitting the Leafs against NHL allstars and referee King Clancy thumbed Mr. Mortson for three minor penalties.

Mr. Mortson led the NHL in penalties in his rookie campaign with 133 minutes. In the Stanley Cup finals that year, he scored a goal and injured Rocket Richard with a check, as the Leafs defeated the Montreal Canadiens in six games.

The Leafs repeated as champions the following season by sweeping the Detroit Red Wings in four games. Mr. Mortson scored a goal and an assist in the opening game of the series, only to be removed from Maple Leaf Gardens on a stretcher after he and Mr. Thomson attempted to sandwich Detroit's Black Jack Stewart with a double bodycheck.

"My skate turned in on me, stuck in the ice and when Stewart rode into us, my whole weight came down on my leg," Mr. Mortson said after the game. "I could feel something go."

He had suffered two breaks to his left leg - one just below the knee and another running six inches along the shinbone to the ankle. His playoffs were over, but he would return healthy at the start of the following season, during which the Maple Leafs would win their third consecutive Stanley Cup. A fourth championship came in 1951 when the Leafs defeated the Canadiens in five games, all going to overtime. The Cup-winning goal was scored by fellow defenceman Bill Barilko, who would be killed in a plane crash four months later.

Despite Mr. Mortson's notoriety and three previous titles, the Stanley Cup engraver mistakenly misspelled his name as Wortson on the section of the metal band for the 1951 championship.

He was traded to the Chicago Black Hawks with Ray Hannigan, Cal Gardner and Al Rollins for goalie Harry Lumley just before the start of the 1952-53 season. He served as captain of the team for three seasons before being traded to Detroit in 1958.

In 797 NHL games, the defenceman scored 46 goals with 152 assists and 1,380 penalty minutes.

He skated in eight All-Star Games.

He coached junior-B hockey in the Toronto suburbs while operating a food-and-beverage distribution business. He sold pizzas and smoked meat sandwiches at the annual Canadian National Exhibition. He later worked as a stockbroker and a mining and manufacturer's representative in a territory stretching along the vast Canadian Shield from Red Lake, Ont., to Chibougamau, Que.

Mr. Mortson died on Aug. 8 at the Golden Manor Home for the Aged in Timmins, Ont. He leaves Sheila (née Kennedy), his wife of 66 years. He also leaves three sons, three daughters, 17 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by a son, John Angus Mortson, a retired police officer who died at the age of 55 in 2010.

Gus Mortson was inducted into the Timmins Sports Heritage Hall of Fame in 2014.

Late in his playing career, Mr. Mortson became an advocate for a union of hockey players. This led to an infamous public exchange with Maple Leafs owner Conn Smythe during a 1957 game in Toronto. Mr. Mortson was sent to the penalty box, where he yelled at the referee. This led Mr. Smythe to lean over to yell at his former employee about getting help from the lawyers who were assisting in establishing a player's association. Mr. Mortson then shook his fist at Mr. Smythe, snapped off a military salute and thumbed his nose.

"We had a nice, friendly conversation," the player later told a reporter. "Covered 10 years in two minutes."

To submit an I Remember: Send us a memory of someone we have recently profiled on the Obituaries page. Please include I Remember in the subject field.

Associated Graphic

Gus Mortson was traded from Toronto to the Chicago Black Hawks just before the start of the 1952-1953 season.

'It's not about timing the market. It's about time'
Special to The Globe and Mail
Monday, August 17, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B5

For economist David Rosenberg, successful investing is as much about what you own as what you sell - and when. After about 30 years reading the economic tea leaves for companies such as Bank of Nova Scotia, BMO Nesbitt Burns, Merrill Lynch and now Gluskin Sheff + Associates, Mr. Rosenberg has developed a knack for when to hold, and when to fold. He avoided the turn-of-the-century dot-com crash and was one of the first economists to warn of the U.S. housing-market collapse and subsequent 2008-09 recession. The Globe talked to Mr. Rosenberg recently about his investment style and his view on whether Canada is in a recession.

When did you start investing?

I have been investing for about 30 years. I learned a great deal from my father, who was a very astute and active investor. He was a civil engineer. He taught me to buy low and sell high and to identify special situations in the market.

My dad also loved to play the bond market.

How has that advice panned out in your portfolio to date?

I think I've had more wins than losses, but there have been both.

It's like golf; you only remember your birdies. My first investments were in a couple of tech companies: Lumonics and Mitel. For the $5,000 I had invested, those were big wins. They helped pay for my tuition at the University of Toronto.

What other investments have you made over the years?

I have always been a believer in buying stock in the company you work for. I had Bank of Nova Scotia and Bank of Montreal shares when I worked at both of those companies. Those were very good investments. When I was at BMO Nesbitt Burns, they had a topranked research department and so you got a lot of great ideas from the analysts. I remember participating in that famous made-in-Canada mining boom in the mid-nineties. I also got caught up in the tech mania [in the late nineties]. In early 2000, I started working at Merrill Lynch.

A month into the job, when I found out we had a technology call ahead of the regular equity call ... that was a real sign post for me that the rally was extended. I quickly turned cautious on technology just in time for the dotcom bust. I can't say I caught the peak, but I blew it out as soon as I could. Sometimes your success in investing is what you don't own, not just what you do own.

What has been your worst investment move?

It's something I didn't do, which was not taking the opportunity to purchase the apartment that Merrill Lynch had rented for me in Manhattan. When I had the opportunity to buy that in 2003, I should've done it. It was a great unit in a great location and has gone up significantly since. It would've been nice to have a U.S.dollar asset, especially as a Canadian investor.

What sectors do you like right now?

The vast majority of my investments are in our portfolios at Gluskin Sheff. I can't talk about specific companies, but I can talk about specific themes. Here at the firm, we're very focused on riskadjusted returns and on companies that generally have strong and sustainable cash flows. That runs through practically everything we buy globally. The broad theme is this: Identify the reliable source of growth on the planet. It isn't China, Europe or Latin America.

It's the $15-trillion animal known as U.S. domestic demand. You can tap that any number of ways. In Canada you can do that by focusing on banks or auto-parts companies or forest products, or companies that have a currency tailwind from the weak Canadian dollar and growing penetration into the U.S. domestic demand market. You can do that in Canada, in Japan or in Europe. In the past couple of years we've been increasing our exposure to the foreign market and cutting back on Canada. There are opportunities in Canada, but it's very selective.

Can you comment on your holdings in Gluskin Sheff stock? The price has fallen in recent months.

I'm a shareholder. The stock is reflecting what's happened in Canada this year. It's been a challenging year. If I wasn't bullish on the stock price I wouldn't own it, but nothing goes in a straight line. The stock, since I started at the firm six years ago, has done very well.

What are your views on bonds today?

I wouldn't call myself a huge bear on bonds, but why take the duration risk? I'd sooner be in cash than be in a long, plain vanilla bond portfolio. You actually have no coupon protection. If yields were to go up, you're going to be stuck with a negative return - and who wants that? The way you want to play bonds is by playing the spread of corporates, vis-à-vis governments.

I don't like the yields, but I still like the spreads. Go long corporates, short governments against them, you can add on a little bit of leverage on top of that and actually generate a decent midto-high single-digit return with that type of strategy. That's really the only way you'll make money in fixed income over the next several years.

What is your current outlook and advice for investors?

This bull market in equities isn't going to end until we see the whites in the eyes of the recession. I don't see one in the next two years. It's not a recession in Canada today. We are going through a very weak patch. We tend to import our recessions. If we do go to a recession, it would be the first made-in-Canada recession. I'm not going to knock myself out making that call. As for investor advice: It's not about timing the market. It's about time in the market. Continuously focus on the long-term trend line, and ignore the noise. What a mentor of mine, Don Coxe, taught me many years ago is to fade what's on page A1 and buy the page B16 story on its way to page one. In other words, you have to constantly pay attention and understand what's already priced in and how investors are positioned.

Herd mentality is not generally a good thing.

Associated Graphic

Economist David Rosenberg says investors should block the noise and focus on the longer-term trend line.


An 89 is a respectable A-minus - except in the wine-rating world, where anything under 90 gets treated like a flunkee. Here's why it pays to take those bottle rankings with a grain of salt
Saturday, August 22, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L9 @Beppi_Crosariol

Of all the scoring schemes employed by wine critics, none has ruffled feathers quite like the 100-point system.

It's used here at The Globe, of course, and owes its popularity around the world to influential American critic Robert M. Parker, Jr. Back in the '70s, Parker reasoned that the metric would appeal to Americans because college essays and exams are often graded the same way. In going that route, he eschewed other options, such as the five-, four- and three-star scales, as well as the 20-point scheme common in the U.K. and used for training at UC Davis, the top wine school in California.

So why a fuss over percentages?

Mainly, people argue that grading with such a sharp pen implies that wine criticism is something it's not: a precise science. True enough; it ain't exactly rocket surgery, as Tim McGraw once said of country music. But Parker's point - forgive the pun - still stands.

Grading philosophy essays isn't exactly a precise science, either (as one of my philosophy professors blatantly proved with his ludicrous mark on my brilliant takedown of Immanuel Kant's metaphysics). Numbers can, in fact, convey overall impressions about quality and performance.

Just ask any figure-skating or gymnastics judge.

My only unease with the 100-point scale relates not to whether pleasure or perceived quality can be fairly represented in fi ne numerical slices. It has to do with what I call the 90-point albatross. Jeffrey Davies, an American-born wine merchant in Bordeaux, was once asked about the influence of Parker's scoring system on the retail landscape. "Below 90, you can't sell it," he reportedly said.

"Above 95, you can't fi nd it."

(Others have made similar observations, and I make no claim about who was fi rst.)

His key point was that the world has come to see a great divide between 90 and 89, and I think that's unfortunate. It's sort of like the line between Aminus and B-plus - only worse, because it's become more like the difference between pass and fail. For some reason, the 20-point system doesn't carry the same baggage. Sixteen or 17?

They just don't scan with the same thrill as 90.

That's the irony about the 100-point scale. Its virtue is that it permits opinions to be expressed on a spectrum with many small divisions, yet some people interpret the minor gap between 89 and 90 as the Grand Canyon. I personally don't see that canyon when I'm scoring, and I'd happily part with my money for a well-priced 88 or 89.

This all came frothing up for me while previewing today's release of fi ne wines at Ontario Vintages stores. It features a special "90-plus" promotion, with numerous wines that received 90 or better from one or more critics around the world.

Spittoon in hand, I discussed one such wine at the tasting lab with a fellow critic, a wine that I did, in fact, score 90. He agreed that it was good but said, with a laugh, that it was worth 89½.

Frankly, I concurred, but on my scale you round up to the nearest tidy whole number. What's the difference, after all?

Charles Baker Picone Vineyard Riesling 2012 (Ontario) SCORE: 92 PRICE: $35.20

Marvellous. Light-bodied and off-dry, but with well-crafted balance, this white explodes with green apple, lime zest and peach flavours, harnessing great tension between the sweet fruit and Sour Patch tang as a subtle, stony-mineral essence makes its presence felt. Well-suited to grilled pork or smoked fish and worth decanting or cellaring for five years or so.

Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 2013 (Nova Scotia) SCORE: 92 PRICE: $24.95

Fair warning: This is medium-sweet, suitable for light desserts or - if you don't mind the sugar - sipping in the sunny outdoors. At just 7-per-cent alcohol, it goes down without a punch. Greyish pink in colour, it's gently spritzy, floral and reminiscent of fresh muscat table grapes and grapefruit. The splendid 2013 is being released today in Ontario Vintages stores, and the equally good 2014 is available direct for $24.95,

Finca de la Rica El Nomada 2011 (Spain) SCORE: 91 PRICE: $24.95

A red Rioja that tastes a little bit like a Christmas dessert in a very good way. Smooth, chunky plum and strawberry fruit mixed with chocolate, nutmeg, vanilla and pepper. It hides its 15-percent alcohol well. Serve it with big red-meat roasts.

Gérard Bertrand Grand Terroir La Clape Syrah-Carignan-Mourvèdre 2011 (France) SCORE: 90 PRICE: $18.95

Smooth yet vibrant red from southern France. Full-bodied and plummy, it's sweet and jammy in the middle, lifted by aromatics of black pepper and herbs. Match it with roast lamb.

Castellani Filicheto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2011 (Italy) SCORE: 90 PRICE: $18.95

Not entirely dirt-cheap, but a great red value that displays the essence of what serious Tuscan dirt has to offer. Mediumfull-bodied, earthy, peppery and salty, it's perfect for grilled poultry, especially the little juicy stuff like quail or Cornish hen.

La Ferme du Mont Le Ponnant Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2012 (France) SCORE: 90 PRICE: $18.95

Hello, lavender, fennel and cracked pepper. Full-bodied and richer than most Côtes du Rhône at this price, this ripe red blend of grenache, syrah and mourvèdre offers up loads of dark-fruit flavour with a whisper of raisin, lifted by a toasty, crisp finish.

Domaine Saint-Etiénne Les Albizzias 2013 (France) SCORE: 89 PRICE: $16.95

A full-bodied red with smooth raspberry and plum fruit sharing centre stage with lively notes of licorice and black pepper. Bonus: It's organic. Try it with grilled red meats.

Celler Cercavins Lo Virol 2014 (Spain) SCORE: 89 PRICE: $14.95

A red from a little-known northeastern Spanish appellation called Costers del Segre, this exists in the shadow of better-known places like Rioja. Perhaps that's why it's so well-priced. Full-bodied, it's layered with flavours of plum jam, dark chocolate, dark coffee and baking spices. Somebody throw some lamb on the grill.

Lenz Moser Prestige Gruner Veltliner 2013 (Austria) SCORE: 89 PRICE: $13.95

At less than $14, this is a joy. Austria's signature white grape gets a refreshingly zesty interpretation, hinting at stone fruit and stones (a.k.a. "minerality"). A tad plump in the middle, it sparkles around the edges. Great for light seafood, salads or young cheeses.

Rudyard Griffiths talks to Bob Rae about prime ministerial discipline, the corruption of governance, and the tall task of public persuasion
Saturday, August 22, 2015 – Print Edition, Page F3

How is the current election, in your view, an extension of a "perpetual campaign"?

In Canadian politics, the gap between governing and campaigning has pretty much disappeared.

I know from my own experience and talking with other politicians that governing was always seen as something different from campaigning. What we're seeing now is that campaigning never stops.

The relentless messaging; the use of Question Period for messaging; the use of every government press release as a way of packaging, identifying and branding never stops, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The perpetual campaign makes it very hard for citizens to see the process of governing and how Parliament is supposed to work as a deliberative body.

How should Canadians be making sense of the developments in the Duffy trial?

The e-mail excerpts and the evidence that have come out so far reveal how a very small team in the Prime Minister's Office attempted to control not only the messaging coming out of Mr. Duffy's repaying his expenses, but how the Deloitte audit would work, how the senators would themselves manage this, down to how the Senate committees work. It's a level of command and control that I don't think we've ever quite seen in Canada.

What really concerns me is the corruption of the process of governance itself. One of the things that our system has to have in order to function is a degree of checks and balances: the fact that Parliament, including different houses of Parliament, and the executive are distinct. It's ironic to me that, when Mr. Harper was running for office, he said to Canadians, don't worry, you've got an independent civil service, you've got the Senate, and you've got the Supreme Court of Canada, so you can trust me with government because I've got all these other checks and balances that are there to keep me in line. We can now see Mr. Harper has been systematically trying to erode the independent capacity of the civil service, the independence of the Senate, and attack the independence of the Supreme Court of Canada.

Talk to us about how you think elections themselves have changed and the impact this is having on our larger political discourse.

Two things at work here. The technology of campaigning is way more sophisticated and advanced than it was in the earliest days of polling. In my book, What's Happened to Politics?, I talk about my own father's experience with polling in the years before the war, and then talk about my own experience campaigning and canvassing and identifying the vote and getting the vote out. What is new is the use of "big data" to refine a political or policy message and use that message to target smaller and smaller numbers of voters.

The problem with this is it removes the capacity for politicians of conviction to say what they really think on issues and to speak from the heart on subjects that matter to them. It also creates elections where we don't engage with the big, difficult and urgent issues, because inside the campaigns most of the effort is dedicated to figuring out how to slice and dice the electorate into ever smaller pieces that can be bought off or appeased with highly targeted policies.

You also don't think that the high-tech, big-data, messagedriven campaigning we are seeing right now is very effective. Why?

These tactics don't get the traction they used to. In fact, I think it's one of the reasons why voter participation is down. I think it's one of the reasons voters are less likely to choose one party and stick with them. I think it's one of the reasons we are seeing more and more elections decided by voters making up their minds at the very end of the campaign. I refuse to be cynical about politics, but I do think that people have to understand the diminishing returns on the kinds of campaigns that are being increasingly practised by the political parties.

We are going to see a lot of negative advertising in this election. What is its cumulative impact on voters?

The question of turnout and how to mobilize an increasingly cynical or uninterested electorate is a big challenge. I do think one of the ironies of everyone engaging in negative campaigning is that it ultimately turns people off the process. Imagine, as my friend Charles Krauthammer used to say, Chrysler, Ford, and GM all spent their time criticizing each other's cars and running negative ads on everyone else's cars. In the end, a lot more people would end up buying bicycles or motorcycles or anything but an automobile.

Are Canadians resigned to the state and play of elections today?

I think there is a pushback in the works. I see social media having a positive impact. There is a great deal of joking, wry skepticism, and people making fun of each other on social media. A lot of the conversation and debate on social media is about debunking the ritualized campaigning of television ads, press conferences, etc. Also, there are more groups than ever who have very strong opinions about individual policies and who are using social media to inject their views into the centre of the political discussion. I find this quite liberating, personally.

You dedicated this book to your parents, Saul and Lois. What would their generation have to say about what politics could or should be today?

This last year was an emotional one for me and my family, because my mom passed on. She was very much the centre of our family. She died at the age of 100, and she and my dad had a wonderful life together. Their life together was very much one of public service and of public engagement. I remember once asking my dad why he left the business world to become a diplomat. He replied, "Well, sometimes turning heads is more important than counting heads."

I think we are at risk of losing sight of that simple fact: Engaging in the hands-on and difficult task of public persuasion is every bit as important as the data-driven fixation for "counting heads" that has taken over much of the political process.

Rudyard Griffiths is chair of the Munk Debates, Canada's leading public-affairs forum.

Associated Graphic

Bob Rae, former Ontario premier and MP, and author of What's Happened to Politics?, laments campaign strategies that 'slice and dice the electorate into ever smaller pieces that can be bought off.'


An 'ambitious' proposal
With the Saddledome about to become Canada's oldest NHL arena, the president of the Flames has put forward an idea that would replace each of the city's largest sporting venues, as well as add a new public fieldhouse, Justin Giovannetti writes
Saturday, August 22, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S1

Despite oil falling below $40 per barrel and the provincial economy sliding towards recession, one of Calgary's most consuming debates over the coming years will centre on a proposal to construct an $890-million sports complex for the city's professional hockey and football teams.

Calgary's Saddledome will be the oldest NHL arena in Canada when a new rink opens for the Edmonton Oilers in 2016.

While the proposal by Calgary Flames president Ken King revolves around the need to replace aging sports venues, there's more than a pinch of civic rivalry in his plan to match the hockey arena under construction in Alberta's capital city.

Mr. King's proposal, dubbed CalgaryNEXT, would replace the city's two main sports venues with a new arena for the Flames, a stadium for the CFL's Stampeders and a public fieldhouse for community sports. The proposed location is along the Bow River on a heavily contaminated industrial site west of downtown. Construction could finish as soon as 2020, although Mr. King concedes that such a short timeframe would be a challenge.

"At a gallop, if we were to cut the ribbon on a project like this in five years, I think we'd be very, very happy. I don't think it's particularly ambitious, but it's somewhat ambitious," he said after making his proposal public on Tuesday.

"Nothing good is easy, but doing nothing is really easy. This is the antithesis of doing nothing."

The bruising route taken by the Edmonton Oilers to secure funding for their arena could serve as a warning to Mr. King and the Flames. Even after city leaders there were convinced in 2008 of the need to support the project, now known as Rogers Place, negotiations with city council dragged over five years.

Talks ebbed and flowed, proposals were nixed and team owner Daryl Katz even suggested during a low point in negotiations that he could move the franchise.

The projected price tag in Edmonton is now $604-million for the new arena and the rebuilding of the downtown area around the rink. Mr. Katz put up nearly $24-million in cash and will cover a further $138-million in lease payments. The remainder of the cost will be covered by new taxes, a ticket tax and municipal spending.

"It's not a great financial use of taxpayer money, but it can be a good addition to the chemistry of making a city a good place to live," said Glen Hodgson, chief economist for the Conference Board of Canada, of financing for arenas. Last year, Mr. Hodgson completed a study of arena projects in Canada and concluded that taxpayers should pay for only a modest portion of the bill.

Even before construction ends on Edmonton's new arena, local leaders have heralded the project as a success for its part in revitalizing the city's long-neglected core. More than $3-billion in private projects have been approved around the rink, including a 62-floor office building and a new high-rise hotel. "It's already exceeded all expectations," said an aide to Edmonton's mayor.

The proposed financing for Calgary's project could see the city assume $690-million in liabilities, much in the form of loans that would be repaid through new taxes. That proposal could put Mr. King on a collision course with Mayor Naheed Nenshi and a city council that has ruled out providing public money to for-profit projects.

"I have said for a long time, and continue to strongly believe, that public money must be for public benefit and not private profit," Mr. Nenshi said in response to what he called an "intriguing" proposal, adding: "I truly appreciate the efforts of the ownership group in bringing forward an innovative project in a thoughtful, professional and ethical way."

Some on Calgary's city council have already raised red flags about the financial picture presented by the Flames. The final price tag for the project could top $1.5-billion, according to Druh Farrell, who says the cost of new utilities, transportation links and the environmental rehabilitation of the site hasn't been included.

The sports complex would be built on the site of a factory operated by the Canada Creosote Company between 1924 and 1962.

The highly toxic creosote used to treat railroad ties and utility poles has contaminated the area down to the bedrock and migrated across the Bow River. The cleanup cost has been estimated at anywhere from $30-million to $800-million.

"It's kind of ironic, but if there was an enormous price tag for the cleanup that scuttled the project, you'd still be left with one of the largest toxic sites in a major city in Canada," Mr. King said.

As for Ms. Farrell, she doesn't see the sports complex being approved. "They've got the vision without a foundation for it," she said. "This isn't a great deal for the citizens of Calgary."

Premier Rachel Notley has said that she's open to providing funding for the project. She added, however, that it would be unprecedented for the province to help fund the cleanup of the creosote due to the province's polluter-pay principle.

Mr. King says he's applauded Ms. Notley and Mr. Nenshi for their willingness to negotiate.

Having seen the long process in Edmonton, he's pledged not to "gnash teeth" during negotiations.

"The mayor accepted that we did not want this to be a political football," Mr. King said. "Now the council can and should say whatever they want about it. We don't need to debate a half-baked vision, we can now debate a fully baked vision."



Location: Calgary Projected cost: $890-million for arena and stadium Projected completion: 2020 at the earliest Proposed main tenants: Calgary Flames (NHL), Calgary Stampeders (CFL) Projected capacity: 19,000-20,000 in arena; 30,000 in stadium Community element: Fieldhouse for public sports

Rogers Place

Location: Edmonton Projected cost: $480-million for arena Projected completion: 2016 Main tenant: Edmonton Oilers (NHL) Capacity: 18,647 Community element: New downtown district and public rink

Associated Graphic

A new proposal dubbed CalgaryNEXT, put forward by Flames president Ken King on Tuesday, would see two new large arenas built along the Bow River.

Leaders in Edmonton have heralded the Rogers Place project as a success for its part in revitalizing the city's long-neglected core, with more than $3-billion in surrounding private projects already approved.


Edmonton's Rogers Place and renovations to the area surrounding the arena are projected to cost $604-million.


The time for a 'no-fly zone' over Syria has arrived
Wednesday, August 26, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A12

President and CEO of New America and the author of The Idea That Is America: Keeping Faith with Our Values in a Dangerous World

A recent front-page photo in The New York Times of a boatload of Syrian refugees drifting on the Mediterranean Sea beneath an enormous setting sun could not have been more apt.

The sun seems to be setting on Syria itself.

In the words of David Miliband, a former British foreign secretary and current president of the International Rescue Committee, the disaster in Syria has reached "almost biblical proportions." The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates that, over the past four years, nearly 250,000 people have been killed, including more than 100,000 civilians, many of whom were killed in horrific ways by their own government. The United Nations estimates that more than half of the country's 22 million citizens have left their homes, something the world has not seen since the Second World War. Today's rising tide of disease, hunger, squalor and illiteracy - more than half of the refugee children are not in school - will affect an entire generation for life.

Fortunately, the United States' foreign-policy elite finally seems ready to do something to protect Syria's people. Generals, diplomats, national-security officials and development professionals are approaching a consensus in favour of a no-fly "safe zone" along one of Syria's borders.

In fact, Turkey's government proposed such a sanctuary (calling it a "buffer zone") four years ago. But the Turkish authorities never proved willing to turn words into action - not that they received any encouragement. Indeed, until recently, the United States and most NATO countries were resolutely opposed to the idea.

The change of heart was driven by four factors. First, there is the migrant crisis in southern Europe, a threat more diffuse but no less dangerous and challenging than Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

According to the International Organization for Migration, as of July, some 150,000 migrants had reached Europe by sea this year, double the number during the same period in 2014.

But the headline-making stories of sinking boats and drowning children are just the beginning.

An estimated 30,000 migrants are now crossing the Serbian border into Hungary every month, spurring the country's right-wing government to launch the construction of a 110-mile fence to keep them out. And, in July alone, almost 50,000 migrants entered the European Union through Greece.

While Syria is not the only country fuelling this refugee crisis, it is the largest contributor. Indeed, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 34 per cent of the 137,000 people who arrived in the EU from Jan. 1 to June 29 were from Syria, with the next-largest contributor, Afghanistan, accounting for 12 per cent. Other notable contributors include Eritrea (12 per cent), Somalia (5 per cent) and Iraq (3 per cent). The number of Syrians is thus essentially triple that of the next highest group, a proportion that holds true among European asylum-seekers as well. With more than 10 million Syrians displaced, this trend will only continue unless something is done to ensure that they can live safely within their home country.

The second factor that is spurring a shift in the United States's attitude is the recognition that a new Syrian government is vital to defeat - or even contain - the Islamic State. The fact is that the Islamic State is not the only violent and destructive force in the country; Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom the militant group is committed to overthrow, is also a mass murderer and war criminal.

According to the Violations Documentation Center, the leading cause of death among Syrian civilians this year has been the indiscriminate use of aerial weapons - barrel bombs and chlorine gas dropped from helicopters by the Syrian army. For Syria's many rebel groups, Mr. al-Assad represents the greater threat, and thus will have to be removed from power before attention can be focused on defeating the Islamic State.

Third, the nuclear deal with Iran, despite facing continued scrutiny in Iran and the United States, has raised hopes that the country could play an important role in pushing for a political solution in Syria. Not only is Iran's policy of supplying weapons and fighters to keep Mr. alAssad in power unpopular at home, the country's leaders also recognize that fighting the Islamic State in Iraq is a half-measure at best, as long as the group controls vast swaths of Syrian territory.

Finally, longer-term thinkers understand that a generation growing up alienated and angry in refugee camps, as several generations of Palestinians have done, is a generation of potential radicals. With nothing to lose, they seek revenge for their parents' expulsion from a homeland that, over time, becomes increasingly idealized. From this perspective, the current humanitarian crisis is, in the longer term, a strategic crisis.

Taken together, these factors are compelling the United States and Europe to change course.

And the Western perspective is not the only one that is evolving.

Syria's neighbours finally seem to understand that the country could fragment into a Kurdish state that destabilizes Turkey and an Islamic State territory that destabilizes Iraq, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

By establishing a no-fly zone - which could be defended using sea-based missile systems - the United States and its partners would demonstrate to Mr. alAssad that their patience has finally run out, and that they are prepared to defend Syrians within Syria. This, together with the knowledge that his army is weakening and the pool of new recruits is drying up, would force Mr. al-Assad to reconsider his long-term prospects and, most likely, force him to the negotiating table. After all, the only time he has been prepared to strike any kind of deal over the past four years was when he believed that the United States was prepared to intervene militarily in response to his use of chemical weapons.

Syria will take decades to rebuild, with future generations scarred by the political and psychological consequences of the current turmoil - much like Bosnia, but on a much larger scale.

The arms and money flowing to self-proclaimed holy fighters over the past four years have fanned revolutionary flames that may yet lead to a redrawing of the map of the Middle East. But we cannot simply write off the millions of people caught in the middle. For both moral and strategic reasons, the time for a no-fly zone is now.

Associated Graphic

Macedonian police block migrants from entering the country via Greece on Friday.


Canada's carbon moment has arrived
Wednesday, August 19, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A12

As Canadians prepare to vote in an upcoming federal election, it's time to reassess the country's economic prospects, once touted as the strong suit of Stephen Harper's government.

For almost a decade, Canadians have been told massive expansion of Alberta's oil sands would be the engine of economic growth as the country rode a wave of soaring oil prices during the government's early years.

Some question the wisdom of building an economy on the foundation of a single resource.

And the Prime Minister's strategy of making Canada an oil-based energy superpower has led instead to a made-in-Canada recession, with a dramatic implosion in capital spending in the country's oil patch.

To avoid confronting real concerns about human-caused climate change, the Harper government took the unprecedented path of cancelling Canada's commitment to the international Kyoto agreement, suppressing potential obstructions to Canada's petroleum path, shutting down environmental programs, laying off hundreds of government scientists, discarding scientific information from government libraries and decreeing that government must vet all research before scientists are allowed to speak publicly or publish. Science forfeits all credibility when it is filtered through ideological lenses.

It makes no sense for any government focused on the economy to ignore the accelerating issue of climate change. Canada is a northern country, where temperatures are already climbing rapidly. We have the world's longest marine coastline, which will be heavily affected by sea-level rise, and much of the national economy is built around such climate-sensitive areas as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, tourism and winter sports. Add the costs of floods, drought, massive fires and more, and you have a recipe for economic failure. One of Britain's leading economists, Sir Nicholas Stern, calls climate change the "greatest market failure in history," and concludes that failing to act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will be economically disastrous.

Much can happen over the course of a government's mandate, especially one that has spanned three elections. One by one, the key assumptions behind the Harper government's economic strategy of oil-based growth have fallen by the wayside. Initially, it was the assumption of strong demand from the U.S. market and its need for secure oil supplies from a friendly neighbour that drove Canada's aggressive oil ambitions. But the high prices that lifted bitumen out of the oil sands also allowed "tight oil" to be fracked from U.S. shale formations such as the Bakken and Eagle Ford, which suddenly obviated the need for importing higher-cost Canadian oil.

Next, ambitious oil sands expansion was based on the assumption of never-ending double-digit growth in China's economy and that country's insatiable fuel demand. But the very tripledigit oil prices that enabled development of high-cost supply such as the oil sands also curtailed economic growth and fuel demand, nowhere more so than in China itself. Judging by China's energy consumption, its economy is growing at about half its previous double-digit rate.

That has left the oil sands in a world of sluggish economic growth, a glutted global oil market and, worst of all, plunging oil prices. Suddenly the country's government-driven engine of economic growth looks more and more like stranded assets. The ambitious expansion plans that would have seen production more than double in the next decade and a half are no longer commercially viable. Even with the long-sought-after world oil prices, new oil sands projects don't make any economic sense, let alone with the deeply discounted oil price (Western Canadian select) most oil sands producers receive.

The tens of billions of dollars of cancelled investment in oil sands projects profoundly change the national debate Canadians have been having about the supposedly urgent economic need for new pipelines. While the federal government continues to lobby hard for them, citing the critical need to get bitumen to tidewater and foreign markets, the reality is that an oversupplied world oil market doesn't need Canada's high-cost fuel. The very projects that were going to feed these pipelines are now the casualties of huge spending cuts. Whether it's Keystone XL, Northern Gateway or Energy East, none of the proposed pipeline projects has an economic context in today's oil market.

The billions in cancelled investment are bad enough, as the past five months of GDP numbers attest. But there could be worse to come. Not only do new oil sands projects no longer make economic sense, but even current production is no longer profitable. That may be news to the country's politicians, but it's certainly not news to investors who have been fleeing from the resource in droves. Hemorrhaging red ink, oil sands stocks are now trading lower than the bottoms reached during the Great Recession. The oversized weighting of the energy sector (roughly 20 per cent) has cast a pall over the performance of the entire TSX.

Instead of spurring ever-greater production, today's oil prices signal a dire need for production cutbacks. And tomorrow's prices can only amplify that message, as the ever-pressing need to limit emissions-driven climate change forces the world to combust less, not more, fossil fuels in the near future. The International Energy Agency estimates that if we are to avoid the worst consequences of climate change and hold atmospheric carbon to 450 parts per million, world oil consumption will have to fall by more than 12 million barrels a day over the next two decades, pointing to even lower oil prices in the future.

What type of future does that hold for the oil sands and Canada's ambitions to become a leading world producer of oil? Instead of spending billions of dollars on developing new oil sands mines, the industry, or more likely taxpayers, will have to spend billions of dollars on decommissioning oil sands operations that are no longer economically viable.

Mr. Harper's carbon-fuelled energy agenda hasn't worked out and that's put the Canadian economy in precarious shape. But this critical moment of economic and environmental crisis is an opportunity for Canada to confront the reality, costs and urgency of climate change, and find solutions that will both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to the economy. This is a challenge that every party in the current campaign should address.

Jeff Rubin is an author and former chief economist at CIBC World Markets. David Suzuki is a scientist and emeritus professor at the University of British Columbia.

Associated Graphic

Today's oil prices signal a dire need for production cutbacks.


Canada's love of pickup trucks unshaken by changing times
Saturday, August 22, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S1

SYLVAN LAKE, ALTA. -- Until arriving at Brian Sutter's ranch, I'd never heard of a Lewis Cattle Oiler. As it turns out, the oiler is a handy machine - it makes a Black Angus bull shine like a freshly waxed limousine, and simultaneously applies a coating of insecticide to keep flies away.

This is one of many things learned from Mr. Sutter, one of six brothers from a legendary Viking, Alta., family who all played in the NHL. A seventh brother, reputedly the best player of them all, stayed home to run the family farm.

Mr. Sutter, 58, grew up in a place where the family car was a pickup truck, and he still uses a truck every day.

I'm here with a truck, too - a brand-new Ford F-150 - as part of an odyssey through the Rockies and across Alberta.

"It's pretty fancy," Mr. Sutter says as we roll through a barbedwire gate into a pasture that stretches as far as the eye can see.

"It's a city boy's truck. But it drives great."

It's easy to see how Mr. Sutter was able to play a dozen seasons in the NHL and add 13 more as a head coach. He is gritty and humble, and his handshake is like a hydraulic vice - that's what comes from a lifetime slinging hay bales and competing against the best hockey players in the world. "I always worked for it," Mr. Sutter says of his playing days.

"I was a grinder, but I could score, too." He points to his nose, which is bent in several places. "And I had my share of fights."

Trucks have always been part of his life. He was raised on his parent's farm in Viking. He learned to drive in a pickup truck, and practised on nearby concession roads.

Even after becoming NHL stars, Mr. Sutter and his brothers came home in off-seasons to keep in touch with their farming roots.

The first new vehicle Mr. Sutter ever bought was a red Ford halfton he purchased with the signing bonus he got from the St. Louis Blues in 1976. But he was embarrassed to drive it around the family farm: "It was all fancy," he says.

"Mom and dad never got new trucks."

Once a humble work tool, the pickup is now a marketplace phenom. Few buyers actually use their pickup trucks to haul things.

Instead, they have morphed into image-building lifestyle accessories and super-sized family cars.

Even in downtown Toronto, pickups are popular. But in Calgary, polished F-150s and hulking Silverados are everywhere, lined up like horses outside a Dodge City saloon back in the days of Wyatt Earp. It's as if the pickup truck is Alberta's Toyota Corolla: When I stop at a Calgary restaurant, there are 11 F-150s, three Chevy Silverados and a Dodge Ram Hemi parked out front. Five of the F-150s are blinged out with custom wheels and chrome grills, and several have baby seats in their cabs. At a park by the Bow River, the parking lot is jammed with fullsized pickups, most loaded with dogs, kids and inflatable kayaks.

Figures from DesRosiers Automotive Consultants show nationwide, sales of small and large pickup trucks are up this year over last, despite the slowdown in the oil patch: Just shy of 10,000 more of the vehicles have been sold this year over the same period last year.

Alberta feels like the right place for a truck. On the drive out of Calgary, the city stops with light-switch suddenness and you find yourself in a massive, wide-open landscape. The sky hangs over the prairie like the blue dome of a giant cathedral, and the jagged grey line of the Rockies crenulates the western horizon.

This is a truck-guy dream.

Earlier in the week, I drove the new F-150 through Kananaskis Country, a stunning trip deep into the mountains on gravel roads that wound past bearfilled forests, rock walls that reached thousands of metres into the sky, and shining, glacierfed lakes.

At one point, I stopped by the highway to gaze at a field of horses. The sun was setting, and the horses ran along the fence line, silhouetted against a sky drawn straight from a Western movie. The truck was the perfect ride for this trip.

Or was it? I was by myself, and my luggage was limited to a single suitcase and a camera bag.

Did I really need a giant vehicle?

Defending the pickup truck in an age of declining resources and climate change leads to a realm of vehicular and moral relativism. It makes no sense to drive a huge, gas-guzzling machine to the daycare and grocery store.

But on Mr. Sutter's ranch, the trucks aren't for display purposes. Mr. Sutter has three, and they're flat-out work tools, dented, scarred and lashed together with bailing wire. One of them is a 21-year-old Dodge. The newest is a 2007 Ram diesel with dual back wheels.

These aren't the kind of machines used to pose outside a Toronto nightclub. They are used to haul chainsaws, spools of barbed wire and hay bales - or parts for a Lewis Cattle Oiler.

It doesn't take long for my F-150 to lose its new-truck sheen.

Curious Black Angus heifers on Mr. Sutter's property press their faces up against it, leaving a smeared kaleidoscope of bovine nose prints. Mr. Sutter steers us over to another pasture to inspect an irrigation pump. A day earlier, he had to dive to the bottom of a freezing pond to reconnect one of the pump's hoses.

Ranching isn't for the faint of heart.

We've driven through miles of pasture, forded a stream, and opened and closed a half-dozen gates. Then it's off to look at some young bulls. By the end of the day, the new F-150 is starting to looks like a ranching veteran, with a patina of dust, mud and cow drool.

After the NHL signed a sponsorship deal with Dodge, Mr. Sutter switched to the brand, though he remains brand-agnostic.

"There are a lot of good vehicles on the road right now," he says. "GM, Ford, Chrysler - all of them have come a long way.

Growing up, we never had stuff like four-wheel drive. If you didn't put a load in the back, you were all over the road. Now all the trucks are beautiful."

Associated Graphic

Brian Sutter, the former NHL player and coach, works on his farm in Viking, Alta.

Wright accused of willful deception
Third day of testimony reveals PMO was furious for not being informed of Senate leadership's decision to address growing scandal
Saturday, August 15, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A3

OTTAWA -- Former Harper chief of staff Nigel Wright was thrust on the defensive at the Mike Duffy fraud trial Friday as he was confronted with e-mails demonstrating that the Prime Minister's Office sought to willfully deceive Canadians about where the senator obtained money to repay his controversial expense claims.

As the RCMP investigation and released e-mails have shown, the PMO first tried to arrange for the Conservative Party, with a war chest full of taxpayer-subsidized donations, to repay the claims, but after the amount soared to $90,172.24 from around $32,000, Mr. Wright stepped in personally to cover the tab.

"I would like it to be explicit," Mr. Wright wrote in a February, 2013, e-mail to PMO staff about the need for Mr. Duffy and his lawyer to make a clear pledge to keep mum on the repayment deal. "For its part the party would not inform anyone," he said.

Donald Bayne, Mr. Duffy's defence lawyer, hammered Mr. Wright on this, asking him if he really thought that it was "principled and ethical" to go secretly to the chair of the Conservative fundraising arm and use what amounted to taxpayer-subsidized political donations to reimburse the Senate.

Mr. Wright replied he "thought that was okay," saying what was important was repaying the inappropriate expenses.

Mr. Bayne, using PMO staff e-mails against Mr. Wright, pressed his thesis in court when talking to the ex-aide: "It was done, because of the following: because you wanted to 'end the Chinese water torture.' Your words. ... 'End our public agony over this matter.' Your words."

Making fun of Mr. Wright's comments earlier this week that he kept the gift to Mr. Duffy silent because of how a verse in the Book of Matthew calls for donations to the poor to be given quietly, Mr. Bayne asked: "It's not the language of Matthew in the Bible, is it? ... Matthew doesn't say stop our public agony, stop the Chinese water torture, stop the story dribbling out ... you're hurting the Prime Minister, does he?" Mr. Wright replied: "No, he does not."

Mr. Duffy, a Harper appointee, is on trial after being charged by the RCMP with bribery, fraud on the government and 29 other charges related to Senate expenses.

Revelations during the trial this week that even more people in the PMO knew Mr. Duffy did not repay his own expenses are putting more pressure on Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, who has long insisted that he was kept in the dark on his chief of staff's decision to repay the expense claims out of his own pocket.

E-mails show that Ray Novak, one of Mr. Harper's closest aides - and now a campaign staffer - was copied on e-mails referring to the plan.

Mr. Harper dodged a question on the matter during a campaign stop in Hay River, NWT, on Friday, saying: "These are the actions of Mr. Duffy and Mr. Wright. You hold people responsible for their own actions. You certainly don't hold subordinates responsible for the actions of their superiors."

On Day 3 of Mr. Wright's testimony, the court heard how the PMO was furious with the Conservative Senate leadership after it acted to address a growing expense scandal without informing the PMO - measures that helped to jeopardize a plan in which Mr. Duffy would himself reimburse taxpayers for his questionable claims.

Mr. Bayne used internal e-mails to paint a picture of a Prime Minister's Office that ruled the Conservative majority in the Senate with an iron fist when it needed to do so.

"You're not just commanding and controlling Senator Duffy.

The PMO is controlling Senate leadership here," he said to Mr. Wright in court. "They are not to issue independent statements.

They're to clear anything and everything they do with you, and they apologize for having stepped out of line, right?" Mr. Wright replied: "I certainly did ask that office to co-ordinate with us and clear things with us before they took actions, yes."

Mr. Wright quit the PMO in May, 2013, after it was revealed that he personally spent more than $90,000 to reimburse taxpayers for questionable expenses incurred by Mr. Duffy after the PEI senator balked at paying them himself.

PMO e-mails cited by Mr. Bayne in court on Thursday show how angry Mr. Harper's office was after Conservative leadership in the Senate, namely then-senator Marjory LeBreton, co-wrote a letter with Liberal Senate Leader James Cowan that called for a crackdown on senators claiming taxpayer-paid allowances for second homes.

Ms. LeBreton, then the Conservative Senate leader, and Mr. Cowan had set in motion a process to target questionable expenses that end up branding senators as rule breakers. "We request you proceed to interview each senator who has claimed a secondary residence allowance to confirm the legitimacy of such claims. Should any senator be unable to convince you that the claim is valid that senator should be required to repay immediately all monies so paid with interest," the letter instructed Red Chamber staff.

This letter was made public in early February, 2013, and helped to jeopardize a plan being hatched by the PMO to get Mr. Duffy to quietly repay his housing expenses and promise not to make further claims, as long as it was made clear that he had not intentionally broken the rules and he was removed from a list of senators being targeted for audit.

It was important to Mr. Duffy that this process not put at risk his qualification to sit as a PEI senator and not brand him a rule breaker. In February, 2013, he was growing increasingly adamant that he had, in fact, done nothing wrong.

An e-mail cited by Mr. Duffy's lawyer illustrates the anger the Ms. LeBreton and Mr. Cowan letter triggered in the PMO when Mr. Novak fumed about the Senate leadership releasing their crackdown publicly.

"Why on earth did their letter to the committee have to be public?

It's as though there is a deliberate strategy to feed every media cycle with this," Mr. Novak wrote on Feb. 11, 2013, to Mr. Wright and other PMO staffers.

Mr. Wright, for his part, penned an acid note to fellow Harper aides asking them to thank Ms. LeBreton for all the trouble she caused. "Please convey my thanks to Sen LeBreton's office for making this more difficult," he wrote on Feb. 11, 2013.

Associated Graphic

E-mails show Nigel Wright's displeasure with the Senate leadership for acting on its own.


For Canadian golf phenom, drive to win began years ago
Tuesday, August 18, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A1

VANCOUVER -- At seven years old, Brooke Henderson tagged along to an amateur golf event with her older sister, Brittany, and their parents. Brooke banged balls on the driving range alongside the older girls.

"She'd just be hammering the ball," remembers Jeff Thompson, chief sport officer at Golf Canada.

A decade later, the prodigy from Smiths Falls, Ont., has made golf history. Ms. Henderson, who turns 18 in early September, scored a dominating victory on the LPGA Tour in Portland, Ore., on the weekend - only the third woman to win an LPGA event before her 18th birthday. The win was also the first by a Canadian on the LPGA in more than a decade.

"My phone," she said Monday, "was blowing up with tweets from many very awesome people."

This week, Ms. Henderson will be the main attraction at the Vancouver Golf Club, where she has arrived to contest the Canadian Pacific Women's Open, which tees off Thursday.

She is poised to become the first Canadian breakout star since Lorie Kane, who won four times on the LPGA Tour in the early 2000s, and Mike Weir on the men's side, capped by his 2003 Master's victory. Already her Portland performance has propelled her to 17th in the women's world golf rankings, up from 32nd.

The making of Brooke Henderson marks the emergence of another premier Canadian athlete outside the realm of hockey, alongside stars in such sports as basketball and tennis. Her victory in Portland is the culmination of a preternatural talent put through an intensive program carefully crafted by her family and Golf Canada, sharpened by sports science and underpinned by thousands of hours of practice.

The win, too, is a demarcation point in her life on the LPGA Tour.

She turned pro last year, backed by the big-time agency IMG, and will be an LPGA member at the start of 2016, if not earlier. There is also the immediate beacon of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where she will be among the medal contenders in the sport's return to the Olympics.

She has homed in on a professional victory since the spring. In late April, she finished third at a tournament in San Francisco, after setting a record in the second round and falling short on Sunday by a single shot. Then, in back-toback major tournaments, she confirmed her arrival: In June, at the Women's PGA Championship, she tied for fifth, then did the same a month later at the U.S. Women's Open.

"I've been playing great all season," Ms. Henderson said Monday.

Because she is not a tour member, she had to play a one-day qualifier just to get into the Portland tournament. But ever since San Francisco, she has felt a burgeoning confidence against the world's best. "I knew I was just as good," she said.

A fellow teenage phenom, New Zealand's Lydia Ko, an 18-year-old ranked No. 2 in the world, has played alongside Ms. Henderson for years, starting as amateurs. "I knew how good she was," Ms. Ko said. Citing San Francisco as a breakthrough for Ms. Henderson, Ms. Ko added: "Brooke's a superstar. She's pressed the accelerator since then."

For Ms. Henderson, it all began at the Smiths Falls Golf & Country Club under the tutelage of her father, Dave, a skilled golfer and a former hockey goalie at the University of Toronto. In the winter, Brooke played goalie through her teen years, which she credits for some of the leg strength that powers big drives off the tee.

By her early teens, Ms. Henderson was in the orbit of Golf Canada, on its development squad, which provided expert coaching and sports science, helped develop a plan for competition schedules, and organized regular training camps, especially in winter in Florida or Arizona. She has also benefited from Golf Canada's move two years ago to create a "young pro" squad, to support golfers as they make the transition to pro from amateur, a program whose cash comes from funds raised by the Golf Canada Foundation.

Success has attracted the notice of Own The Podium, which previously had not funded golf. Money from OTP would bolster development, said Golf Canada's Mr. Thompson. "Hopefully they'll see we have a system in place," he said. "We need the resources for the next Brooke Henderson."

Golf has become something of a young women's game, with Ms.

Henderson following in the steps of Ms. Ko, Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie. The average age of a rookie on the LPGA tour is about 24, half a decade younger than the average of 29 among PGA Tour rookies. For women, a collegiate career in the United States remains the traditional path to the LPGA Tour, but the average age has skewed lower with younger women - led by talented South Koreans - forging an alternate route through the amateur ranks.

Ms. Henderson's ascent tilted higher in 2012, at 14, when she won a Canadian Women's Tour event.

The win helped land her on the front page of The Globe and Mail as a "14-year-old prodigy," and scored her a place at that year's Canadian Women's Open, when it was last played at the Vancouver Golf Club. She missed the cut, shooting nine-over. (Ms. Ko won, at 15, making her mark as the youngest-ever LPGA Tour victor.)

Ms. Henderson has since struggled at Canadian Opens, missing the cut again in 2013 and tying for 46th last year. On Monday, when she played a pro-am at the Vancouver Golf Club, she felt more assured, seeing similarities in the course to the one she won at in Portland.

Asked about the spotlight of returning home as a first-time LPGA winner, Ms. Henderson said: "I don't feel any pressure." She paused. "Right now, anyway," she added with a chuckle. Asked about the crowds, she said: "The bigger the crowd, the better."

She relishes her coming 18th birthday, Sept. 10, the first day of another major tournament, the Evian Championship, when she'll be on Lake Geneva in France for the first time.

On Monday, she did manage a bit of rest. After a late Sunday night, and the long drive to Vancouver from Portland, she got to sleep in "a little bit." She arrived to cheers at the Vancouver Golf Club.

"Hopefully," said Ms. Henderson of the week's goal, "back-to-back victories."

Associated Graphic

Brooke Henderson poses with her trophy from her win in Portland, Ore., on Sunday.


Cool Bus in hot water
Edmonton-transit ad's similarities to a Danish campaign raise questions of the murky matter of due credit in the advertising world
Friday, August 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B5

Tech . Telecom . Media

In a sprawling city blanketed in winter for half the year, riding the bus is far from a glamorous endeavour.

The Edmonton Transit System tried to improve that image recently with a bit of Hollywood sheen. In May, it launched an online video entitled Cool Bus, with the kind of sonorousness usually reserved for movie trailers that begin with the words, "In a world." Scenes of gleeful transit riders enjoying transit amenities played out in dramatic slow motion. The narrator touted the "luxurious seats," and added that "the driver is cool" and the bus is "street." The video has attracted more than 600,000 views so far between YouTube and Facebook.

Those are modest numbers for a big advertiser, but for a regional transit system, it's a blockbuster.

The only problem? The tonguein-cheek video was nearly identical to another ad campaign, for Midttrafik (a regional public transit system in Denmark). That award-winning campaign launched in 2012.

Last week, the ETS began promoting the video again, but it has received some negative feedback, including accusations of plagiarism.

"There's no hiding the similarities," said ETS spokesperson Jennifer Laraway. "We saw something we thought was a really strong campaign - it's garnered a lot of online attention, and that is fully to their credit. We didn't expect it to take off as much as it has here. But we want to make sure that credit stays where it's due."

While she said there have been positive comments too, the ETS has been in a bit of damage control, responding to comments on Facebook and YouTube trying to be transparent about their inspiration. Since May, the ETS has given a nod to the Danish campaign in media interviews. The credit is sometimes muddy, though: There is no source cited within the video itself. Ms. Laraway said the ETS has reached out to the transit company in Denmark to advise them that they want to ensure that proper credit is given.

This is far from the first story of its kind. The advertising world is full of echoes.

In January, McDonald's Corp. launched a colourful animated ad featuring classic enemies - a postman and a dog, a dragon and a knight, Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner are just a few examples - finding common ground while sharing food. The style of the animation, and of the upbeat pop music track that accompanied it, was similar to an Oreo campaign that began in 2013. That ad wondered whether villains such as the big bad wolf and a vampire might have been kinder to their fictional rivals if they'd eaten more cookies.

Sometimes, advertisers copy each other on purpose: In 2009, Rogers Communications Inc.

launched an ad featuring a couch, one half of which was Rogers red, the other half blue to represent rival Bell Canada. The point was to show cost savings for similar services. BCE Inc. responded by copying the campaign. In its version, the blue side of the couch was more spacious, implying better service. In an interview with The Globe at the time, Rick Seifeddine, senior vice-president of branding at Bell, described the response as marketing jiu-jitsu.

Advertising has also drawn ideas from the art world - reflecting both popular and highbrow culture is part of what can keep these messages relevant. But some ads have edged a little too close to their sources of inspiration, and landed them in hot water.

In 2003, Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss said in a letter to ad agency Wieden + Kennedy that they believed its Honda commercial was too similar to their award-winning 1987 short film Der Lauf Der Dinge (The Way Things Go). The commercial, Cog, showed a Rube Goldberg machine composed of car parts.

The film also used industrial materials, including car parts, in a similar way.

"Of course we didn't invent the chain reaction and Cog is obviously a different thing. But we did make a film the creatives of the Honda ad have obviously seen," Mr. Fischli told Creative Review magazine at the time.

"We feel we should have been consulted about the making of this ad." W+K creative Tony Davidson responded in the magazine, saying, "advertising references culture and always has done. Part of our job is to be aware of what is going on in society. There is a difference between copying and being inspired by."

In 2010, AT&T Inc. added a disclaimer to an ad specifying that "the artists Christo and JeanneClaude have no direct or indirect affiliation or involvement with AT&T." The ad, Rethink Possible, showed monuments draped in orange fabric to represent the telecom giant's service coverage.

The company was criticized for the concept, which appeared to mimic the work of the artist couple famous for such projects as creating an orange curtain between mountains in Colorado; wrapping the Pont Neuf in Paris in gold-coloured fabric; and an installation called The Gates, which used orange panels to create a "golden river" running through Central Park in New York.

The inspiration for advertising music is also sometimes in question, particularly as ads have moved away from using jingles and toward an indie music sound. Last year, the record label Young Turks complained that an ad for Hugo Boss used a song that seemed to rip off one of its bands' songs, Intro HQ by the xx.

In a tweet, the label called the song used in the ad "a poorly disguised fake."

Advertising Standards Canada, the industry's self-regulatory body here, specifies in its code of standards that "No advertiser shall imitate the copy, slogans or illustrations of another advertiser in such a manner as to mislead the consumer."

"The key to that clause is that the imitation must be done in a manner that misleads the consumer," said vice-president of standards, Janet Feasby. "I don't think that is the case here," she said of Edmonton's Cool Bus video, "especially if they acknowledge the Danish commercial."

The ETS is planning to continue producing material for social media, particularly as it tries to reach younger commuters. But it may change its approach in the future.

"There are valuable lessons learned here," Ms. Laraway said.

"If we do something like this again, we could show that crosssection a bit better, so it's really obvious that we're leveraging a success that's already out there, as opposed to branding it as our own."

Associated Graphic

An ad for Danish transit authority Midttrafik was a clear inspiration for an Edmonton Transit System video.

One house turned into three - and $6-million
Architect Steve McFarlane turns a massive North Vancouver lot into unique six-bedroom houses
Friday, August 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page G3

VANCOUVER -- The big craftsman at 1340 Delbruck Ave., North Vancouver, sat on a massive lot, with a forested backyard view and sweeping panoramic views of Vancouver to the south. It was once known as the Marshall family homestead, famous among locals for its massive social gatherings. Today, it's the site of three ultrasleek contemporary homes that have just sold for a collective $6-millionplus.

When the developer purchased the 130-by-140-foot lot, it was a no-brainer that it would be redeveloped into something denser and highly marketable.

North Vancouver developers Al Saunders and Stefen Elmitt hired architect Steve McFarlane of OMB Architects to design three identical contemporary homes. The houses went on sale in late May, each with an asking price of $1.988-million. All three houses sold within days for either asking price or higher. The freehold houses sit on 43-by-140-foot lots, have six bedrooms, five bathrooms, nine-foot ceilings, hardwood floors and custom built-in cabinetry. Taxes for each are $8,700.

"People have found out about the outdoor lifestyle, which the North Shore has to offer, so we are seeing more buyers from not only the west side of Vancouver, but internationally, as well," said Mr. Saunders, who co-owns Harbourview Projects.

One house sold to a couple from Coquitlam, another to a family from West Vancouver and the third sold to international buyers who live and work in Vancouver most of the time, said Mr. Saunders.

Statistics on housing are in short supply. The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver offers benchmark prices on homes, which reflect typical prices within a certain market, but with high-end prices removed. Considering that the benchmark price of a house in North Vancouver is $1.167-million - up 17.2 per cent from last year - it's easy to see why the OMB-designed homes would be a quick sell. For $1.988million, you get a lot of house.

Each house has 3,540 square feet of interior space, plus a 1,300-square-foot laneway house with kitchen, useful as a guesthouse. Mr. Saunders guesses it could be rented out for around $1,000 a month, but that seems low.

"It would also make an awesome sports room for all your bikes and skis," he adds, noting that his typical North Shore buyer is an outdoor enthusiast between 45 and 55.

Mr. Saunders's friends, the Marshall family, owned the 4,600square-foot craftsman house that was built in 1912 and once stood on the corner lot. It featured a conservatory and garden, but the house was rundown, according to Mr. McFarlane.

Mr. Saunders purchased the house after owner Harvey Marshall died in 2013. His wife, Betty, had died several years previously.

The Marshalls, who had four children and 10 grandchildren, were renowned for their lively gatherings. "Some of the best parties were held at the old house over the years, and with three boys, all outstanding football players, they tended to be rather large gatherings," Mr. Saunders said.

Mr. Saunders had has his eye on the property for many years, according to the architect.

"When old Harv passed away, the family didn't want anyone else living in the old home, so they asked us to buy it and redevelop the property," Mr. Saunders said. "Working with the City of North Vancouver, we were able to subdivide the site into three lots."

The architectural challenge in building the houses is that they face onto the lane. The property is uniquely situated with a ravine surrounded by a forest garden to the rear.

Fortunately, the houses are on a hill. Mr. McFarlane designed the three-storey houses so that the living area is on the top floor, looking straight ahead to ocean views. If you should look down, there's Astroturf on the laneway house rooftop to deflect from anything as unsightly as a rooftop. As well, the laneway houses and two-car garage act as a physical buffer between lane and main house. At the centre of the property is a tranquil courtyard with rows of plantings and pathways While we stood in the lane talking about the challenges of working with a lane entrance, a neighbour slowed his car and asked how the work was going.

"I've been watching this house with a lot of interest," he said.

"I'll see if I have an extra couple of million," he said dryly, before waving and driving off.

Inside the laneway house, the view of garage doors along the lane is forgiven with details such as a bright floor-to-ceiling window, a nine-foot ceiling, quartz countertops, high-end appliances and a skylight in the bathroom.

Every detail is high-end.

"In an odd way, these coach houses are the front face of the project, so we were trying to create a pleasant lanescape, if you will, where there are eyes on the street, in contrast to typical garages," Mr. McFarlane said. "We wanted to make it feel like people lived here, just by opening it up."

It's clever design, making the most of the uniqueness of the property. Each level at the rear has a floor-to-ceiling picture window of the forest, which occasionally features a deer wandering by. The ground-floor living area opens up to a large patio, which is like an extra outdoor room. The houses aren't zoned for a basement suite, so Mr. McFarlane turned the belowgrade level into another huge living area with nine-foot ceilings.

He brought as much light as he could into the space with a deep well that doubles as another outdoor patio and leads back up to the front courtyard.

With another floor-to-ceiling window in the large master bedroom upstairs, occupants will wake up to the sight of soaring firs and cedars. The open-concept kitchen features top-end appliances and a massive island, and is surrounded by more floorto-ceiling windows and stellar views. At the rear of the house, it feels secluded and quiet, as if the house is located on one of the Gulf Islands.

The rooftop deck is the crown jewel, the sort of sigh-worthy view that increasingly makes the North Shore a draw. "North Van is changing, I'd say," said Mr. McFarlane, who's working with Harbourview on two other projects in the area. "As real estate goes higher in the Lower Mainland, living on the North Shore is more and more sought after."

Associated Graphic

The three properties were created out of a 130-by-140-foot lot.



Montreal's first blood
The gore-soaked Turbo Kid aims to turn the city into ground zero for cult filmmaking
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, August 22, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R8

MONTREAL -- Every July in Montreal, a certain kind of moviegoer thrills and quivers at the arrival of the Fantasia International Film Festival. It has often been said Fantasia is less like a film festival than a sporting event - and not just any sporting event, but a Super Bowl or a World Cup final. At raucous midnight screenings, the crowds scream and cheer, for the festival's many slashers in particular, greeting each wound and laceration with the galvanic applause of a touchdown or head-butted goal. This year, the holiday spirit of stadium and pitch extended to the sports fan's sense of local pride. Fantasia, for the first time in its nearly 20 years, had a home team: Turbo Kid, the inaugural production of the festival's international coproduction market. The sold-out theatre celebrated its premiere as if it were the overtime victory of the regional squad.

Turbo Kid, which will open in theatres across the country on Aug. 28, is the work of co-directors Yoann-Karl Whissell, Anouk Whissell and François Simard, long-time collaborators who together operate under the representatively distasteful name Roadkill Superstar. (They go by the diminutive RKSS, which must help at meetings.) For a decade now, the trio has been producing low-budget exploitation shorts with titles such as Ninja Eliminator and Demonitron: The Sixth Dimension, which should indicate a good idea of the presiding sensibility. It was one of these shorts that legitimized their claim to superstar status.

In 2011, Drafthouse Films held a contest to find one of the 26 short films that would constitute its anthology feature The ABCs of Death: Amateur directors were invited to develop and submit an original four-minute short and the Internet was left to decide. T for Turbo, as RKSS dubbed their submission, won the popular vote by a considerable margin, and while the producers ultimately went with another selection, they approached RKSS with an offer to expand their entry to feature length. With partial financing from New Zealand secured by the ABCs of Death connection, only one challenge remained for the full-sized Turbo Kid's gathering force: Find a Canadian partner.

By this time it was 2012. And Fantasia, meanwhile, was set in just a few weeks to launch Frontières@Fantasia, the first edition of the festival's production market. The RKSS crew hastened to assemble a professional treatment in time for the initial meetings - and did such a good job that they found eager producers immediately.

T for Turbo had an irresistible panache. It also boasted, happily, an easy-to-sell concept: "Mad Max meets BMX," as Yoann-Karl puts it. But how could the manic vigour of a four-minute sci-fi pastiche be sustained over the course of a 90-minute feature?

"T for Turbo was basically one set piece," Anouk recalls. "It was just an action scene with a lot of blood and gore. To make it a full feature, we had to expand the story, come up with additional characters - and give it heart."

The submission guidelines for the ABCs of Death contest specified that directors ought to seize "the holy shit factor," and the RKSS effort does indeed have that. But the trio understood that only goes so far.

"We didn't want to do gore for an hour and a half," Yoann-Karl says. "We knew that if we wanted to expand this thing, we needed some heart."

In its original conception, the Turbo world is a two-dimensional throwback: a vaguely defined post-apocalypse with laser guns and meat grinders, steampunk gewgaws and wasteland frontiers.

What enlivens the feature - other than the gore, of which there remains plenty - is the relationship between its two young heroes, The Kid (Munro Chambers) and Apple (Laurence Leboeuf).

"It's a very cute love story," Yoann-Karl says. "You can do all the gore you want, but if you don't care for the characters, it's boring. People will tune it out."

Love and gore notwithstanding, Turbo Kid's most distinctive feature is its period setting: "the future," as its opening narration intones, "of 1997." Retrofuturism here manifests itself as a blinding eighties nostalgia, as every prop, title card and musical cue seems a relic of that era's Day-Glo science fiction. This was very much the idea.

"We wanted Turbo Kid to feel like a long-lost kids movie," Simard explains, and that has become the defining refrain in interviews. Although they're quick to clarify that what they're doing is not parodic. "We didn't want to make this a spoof," Simard says. "It's a love letter to childhood and the movies we grew up with. Me, as a kid, I would have loved Turbo Kid. I was watching so many movies like that."

It's a nice thought, though it isn't quite true: You would be hard-pressed to find a kids movie from any era quite so violent or crude. The filmmakers maintain that their brand of carnage is always amusing rather than disturbing, but the central gimmick, besides the patina of eighties flair, is pretty clearly the contrast between the appearance of a family-friendly subject and the stylized adult bloodshed that continues to interrupt it.

"I think when we were kids we were exposed to a lot of violent movies," Anouk concedes.

Yoann-Karl agrees: "We were traumatized by RoboCop. We saw it way too early - and then kept watching it every weekend."

And it certainly seems to be Paul Verhoeven rather than Steven Spielberg who looms over the proceedings.

That, of course, is just how the Fantasia crowds like it. And just how did they like it in Montreal?

"It was like a rock concert," Simard says, laughing.

The trio are still awed by the response - although they knew from experience what sort of thing to expect. "We're Fantasia babies. We actually grew up at the festival, watching seven films a day, 50 to 60 movies a summer.

It was completely mental."

It's fitting that Fantasia mainstays should return after so many years as the toast of the festival.

And the fans did everything they could to make them feel welcome and at home. "The crowds are always loud, but I don't remember them ever being this loud," Yoann-Karl says. "It was basically the highlight of our life."

Associated Graphic

Turbo Kid's retrofuturism manifests as eighties nostalgia: 'We wanted Turbo Kid to feel like a long-lost kids movie,' co-director François Simard says.

First-time owners score a kitchen to die for
Affordable Earlscourt semi benefits from elbow grease and the magic of reality TV
Friday, August 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page G4


Asking price: $519,000

Property taxes: $2,2117.36 (2015)

Lot size: 17.42 ft. by 116 ft.

Agents: Jamie Kinnaird and Jack Cherry, sales reps, Bernice Whelan Realty Inc.

In 2012, Jenn and Mitch Darragh were undertaking a ritual of adulthood: buying their first property.

The couple were to be married that fall and Jenn wanted out of her parents' house. "We kind of rushed into buying a house," Mr. Darragh said.

But the search was sobering.

Originally, the couple had aspirations of buying a freshly renovated home in Toronto's Bloor West Village or Junction neighbourhoods. "We would have had to be house poor if we had bought one of those," Mrs. Darragh said.

But after five house tours, they started to move north to Earlscourt - near St. Clair Avenue West and Old Weston Road - which is where they found 178 Silverthorn Ave.

The back story

Earlscourt is one of the up-andcoming pockets of the city where first-time buyers can acquire something other than a condo.

But one of the reasons why the prices are still in the realm of affordability is because the segment of St. Clair Avenue, west of Caledonia Road is still largely undeveloped.

But like the main strip, the semis on the surrounding residential streets have a lot of potential if you can see past their rough exteriors. As such, go-getter couples, such as the Darraghs, are investing in the area.

"Jack and I have sold four houses in this area in the last 12 months and all of them to new families and young professionals," said Jamie Kinnaird, one of the Darraghs's real estate agents.

But when you buy a diamond in the rough, you need to put in a lot of elbow grease to make the home really sparkle. So over the next three years, Mitch and Jenn undertook three major renovations.

The first change happened within the first two months. Mr. Darragh tackled the second-floor bathroom and the basement, which was called the "dungeon," with a few of his friends and family.

"Mitch's work has been called 'cowboy construction,' " Mrs. Darragh joked. "He just got all of his friends together and they just started taking stuff down. So, like a million cans of beer later and a bin full of stuff, everything was gutted."

Originally, the upper floor was one large space without much privacy for the washroom. But after two months, it was transformed into two rooms - a master and a nursery - with a long hallway, featuring dark chocolaty floors, that snakes around to a modern, finished bathroom at the back of the home.

The basement, on the other hand, was also transformed but not completed. Originally, it was a pit of sadness. Barely finished with drywall slapped on the walls, much to the Darraghs' bafflement there was a tenant renting it out as a bachelor apartment when they purchased the home.

Instead of using it as a rental unit, Mr. Darragh had visions of a man cave sprouting in its place. But after two months of cowboy crew demolition, the basement was still a work in progress. he realized that he had jumped the gun and the space needed professional help.

That was part of the impetus that sent the Darraghs on the hunt for reality TV help. They landed on HGTV's Leave It To Bryan, hosted by Bryan Baeumler. On the episode - which aired in the fall of 2014 - the Darraghs have to suggest three "rooms" of the home that need work and then Mr. Baeumler decides which one to tackle based on their budget (which was $40,000).

Unsurprisingly, Mr. Darragh wanted the basement to be fixed up since it was still in its concrete bare bones form when Mr. Baeumler toured.

But Mrs. Darragh was hoping Mr. Baeumler would actually renovate the home's enclosed front porch, which was described as a stinky, stifling sauna. She wanted to insulate it and blow out the wall so that the space could be absorbed into the living room and become a functional area.

And as a third option, the Darraghs suggested their kitchen.

Neither of them really wanted it to be picked - nor thought it would be - because it was pleasing enough to the eye despite its brown and orange colour scheme, slightly rotting butcher block counter tops and nonfunctional powder room off the back. But since they had to have three spaces, they offered it up.

"I'll kill myself if he did the kitchen," Mrs. Darragh said during the episode as the couple walks up to the home for the reveal.

And, of course, that's the room Mr. Baeumler picked.

Favourite features

Despite Mrs. Darragh's histrionic sentiment at the time, she has come to love the kitchen and the couple consider it their favourite space in the house.

Mr. Baeumler not only beautified the space - swapping the earthy tones for a crisp white and black scheme with a green accent wall - but he remedied a lot of serious internal problems, such as asbestos covering pipes, holes in the insulation thanks to rodents, and shoddy wiring. He also gave it a few new appliances, a new hardwood floor that extends into the living room and fixed up the powder room so it worked again.

"It's so practical now," Mrs. Darragh said. "It's the most comfortable spot for me. I love that you can have everybody in one room when you host a party.

"This kitchen - and the [adjoining] living area - really is the heart of this home."

After the Leave It To Bryan episode, Mr. Darragh continued to fix up the property bit by bit, including the basement, which is totally finished now and suitable for man-cave activities with its big screen and TV projector.

With the exception of the front porch, nearly every corner of the home has been transformed by the Darraghs. They even tilled and re-landscaped their threetier backyard.

"At first, I hated this house. I hated how it needed work all of the time. I hated how you couldn't just sit back and relax. I hated how it didn't look pretty," Mrs. Darragh said. "And now, looking back at all of the stuff we've done to it to bring it in line with our tastes, it makes the move bittersweet."

Associated Graphic

After finding their diamond in the rough, a couple began their reno marathon - but got a little help from TV's Bryan Baeumler for the kitchen.


All you can date: risks of Tinder gluttony
From Aziz Ansari to Vanity Fair, growing concerns about the inability (or refusal) to give someone a chance via online dating
Friday, August 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L4

Sexually sated but dead inside: That's the takeaway from Nancy Jo Sales's completely depressing portrait of online-dating users in the September issue of Vanity Fair. Titled "Tinder And The Dawn Of The 'Dating Apocalypse,' " the article described young daters compulsively swiping over reams of candidates and racking up "Tinderellas" whose names weren't worth memorizing.

"With this unlimited access to sex partners, people are gorging.

That's why it's not intimate. You could call it a kind of psychosexual obesity," Sex at Dawn author Christopher Ryan opined about the current dating climate.

As with most matters technological, the article was deafeningly alarmist (predictably, management at Tinder went ballistic). But the visual of daters "overeating" till they're stuffed and anesthetized is a lasting one.

While they're less doom-andgloom in their outlook, comedian Aziz Ansari and New York University sociologist Eric Klinenberg also voice concern about the sexually gluttonous digital-hookup era in their new book Modern Romance.

It's now undeniable that among a certain cross-section of young and attractive hetero daters, the abundance of sexual options provided by apps such as Tinder has stoked apathy and callousness, nuking whatever was left of courtship. Ansari and Klinenberg wanted to trace the ways technology has changed every aspect of dating, from the initial ask to breaking up: They conducted hundreds of interviews and focus groups around the world, built a Reddit research forum and tapped prominent thinkers, including anthropologist Helen Fisher and psychologist Sherry Turkle.

"The new dating technology offers you an endless supply of novelty," Klinenberg said in an interview from Chicago. "You're continually given new options, new choices, new faces. We met people who were going on Tinder on their way to first dates with people they met on Tinder. People who were leaving the table in the middle of a first date to go to the bathroom and see if they had any messages on OkCupid."

So what are the risks of Tinder gorging, or "boom-boom-boomswipe," as a young man in Sales's piece put it? Short term, tech is emboldening daters to be more rude in their intimate exchanges, says Klinenberg (longer-term, he says it's too soon to tell). Therapist and author Esther Perel has argued that Tinder is turning dating into consumerism, with users psychologically crippled by too much choice. The promise that someone better could be out there creates "chronic displeasure" and Tinder's offer of instant sexual gratification kills a deeper cultivation of desire. "You skip all of the hard parts, the pacing," Perel tweeted this week.

Surveying research from Modern Romance, I spoke with Klinenberg to find out how people can avoid gorging themselves into indifference on their travels through online dating. It's useful advice for singles looking beyond the boom-boom-boom swipe.

Take a second look Anyone can spot good looks - a person's "unique value" takes longer to suss out. These are the distinctive qualities that make another person truly engaging, according to University of Texas psychologists Paul Eastwick and Lucy Hunt. Discovering someone's unique value means investing beyond the first impressions that we rely on when we "serially first date," Ansari writes. It can involve literally willing yourself on to a second date.

"The things that attract us to people in a meaningful way lie beneath the skin and we don't really learn about those characteristics until we spend real time with people," Klinenberg says.

"We find that people are too quick to swipe through their options and not give that new person a chance to show what makes them interesting."

Say no to S-bucks Once people stop swiping and actually meet in person, there's a certain lethargy that can set in with repeated "30-minute résumé exchanges over lattes," Klinenberg says. "You're unlikely to fall for someone when they're telling you the same story that they've told 50 other people in a boring setting."

Psychologists and sociologists have long stressed that doing novel and exciting things in "stimulating environments" can bring out the best in people and give them a truer sense of each other. In what Ansari has dubbed the "Monster Truck Rally" theory of dating, Stanford sociologist Robb Willer describes in Modern Romance how his friends took first dates out to the rowdy, carcrushing competitions.

"It was funny, out of the ordinary and interesting," Klinenberg says. "It sparked conversations that they might not otherwise have and proved to be fun."

(I preferred the guy who took his unsuspecting date out to an alpaca farm. Warm and fuzzy.)

Ditch the perfectionism Sadly, most people never make it out to the alpaca farm: Thanks to a seemingly limitless buffet of options online, daters are taking expectations to new and ridiculous heights. Ansari describes an "I need the best" mentality that eventually becomes debilitating.

"Many people have a hard time dealing with the imperfections of the new person they've met because they know there are thousands of potential options," Klinenberg says. "We're punishing ourselves because we spend so much time searching for an ideal person who doesn't exist and not enough time actually getting to know what people have to offer."

Klinenberg tells the story of an "average-looking white guy" who rejected a woman because she was a Red Sox fan. "He would scroll through his inbox on OkCupid and he was turning away attractive, intelligent, educated, fun-looking women for the silliest of reasons. These are women who, 30 years ago, if they had even looked at him in a bar, he would have gone crazy with happiness."

Oh, the humanity Ansari and Klinenberg stress this above all else: Singles need to stop treating others as "bubbles" on their smartphone screens, avatars who it's okay to treat like crap. It's time to focus on the people they have in front of them.

"We urge people to realize we have two selves: a phone self and a real-world self. The things that our phone self does have real implications for our real-world self," Klinenberg says. "We're reminding people to remember there's a flesh-and-blood human being with real feelings just like you on the other side of the screen. We'd all be better off if we found a way to remember the human side of the technology."

Associated Graphic

Aziz Ansari co-authored a book about the sexually gluttonous digital-hookup era.


Drones represent a regulatory Wild West, experts say
'If we don't act now, it's only a matter of time before we have a tragedy on our hands,' U.S. senator says