The Hydro One IPO is just the start of the makeover of Ontario's public-power utility, courtesy of Ed Clark (with inspiration from Warren Buffett)
Friday, November 27, 2015 – Print Edition, Page P38

HOLDING COURT IN A SUNNY OFFICE HIGH ATOP THE TD CANADA Trust tower in Toronto's banking district, Ed Clark is the very picture of corporate sagacity. Yet since retiring as CEO of TD last year, he has spent much of his time doing a very unbankerly thing--helping a bunch of politicians untie a Gordian knot.

As an unpaid adviser to Premier Kathleen Wynne, Clark thumbed through a folder of Ontario's assets, looking for candidates that could be sold off so the province can invest in the sort of things governments do: Build schools, hospitals and transit lines, and address issues like income inequality, about which Clark says he cares deeply. That scrutiny led Clark to Hydro One, the $6.5-billion-a-year monopoly that operates the province's transmission corridors and also sells power directly to about 1.2 million customers.

To Clark, continued public ownership of a utility made no sense at a time when competition for scarce government resources is intense and demographics are driving up health-care and other social-service costs. "If you can only borrow so much money and you [need to] be building a hospital or a school, are you going to not build that hospital or school so that you can supply solar panels to a consumer? I mean, that's nutso."

Wynne decided to embrace Clark's advice, flicking the "on" switch on the sale of 15% of Hydro One. The $20.50 shares began trading in early November, and the oversubscribed offering promptly deposited $1.66 billion into provincial coffers.

That moment marked a historic reversal of political polarity. In 1906, Adam Beck, a Conservative MPP, persuaded Queen's Park to keep control of the emerging electricity grid out of the hands of rapacious monopolists. Famously promising "power at cost," Beck created the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario (later Ontario Hydro), which gradually took over nascent municipal utilities and transmission networks, and systematically brought electricity to the province's remote regions.

Ontario's Liberal government believes it must now put control over the grid back into private hands as a means of serving the public weal. "No one's trying to make money from this thing," Clark claims, referring to critics' charge that the change is driven by Bay Street. "They're trying to do the right thing for the province." But Ontario's spotty record in privatization is weighing on the public's mind, according to polling. "We're cognizant that we're in a learning process about why privatizations so often get messed up," Clark says. "What you're doing, which is completely normal in the private sector, is abnormal to the [public sector]."

OVER THE YEARS, ADAM BECK'S BABY GRADUALLY GREW into a headstrong adult that was too powerful for Queen's Park's liking. The idea of selling the massive utility was first bruited by Bob Rae's NDP government in 1993. Bay Street sat up straight at the news: "I can guarantee you that every single investment bank is looking at it," venture capitalist Andy Sarlos later said, "and lining up their clients."

In 1999, the Mike Harris Tories separated Hydro into segments including a generation company (Ontario Power Generation) and a transmission company, now called Hydro One. A proposed Hydro One IPO died on the vine in 2002, but in 2004 the McGuinty Liberal government introduced a measure of competition, with the new Ontario Power Authority assessing demand and acquiring new generating capacity from private suppliers. Queen's Park stopped short of selling Hydro's major generating stations, although Harris turned over the operation of the Bruce Nuclear station to a consortium whose largest partners are TransCanada Corp. and Borealis, the infrastructure arm of OMERS, an Ontario public service pension fund.

The larger of Hydro One's two businesses is delivering wholesale power, via heavy-duty transmission corridors, to municipal electrical utilities, ranging in size from Toronto Hydro on down. Hydro One also directly supplies power to its own retail customers, primarily rural residents not served by a municipal utility.

After the Harris restructuring, Hydro One started absorbing municipal distribution companies, acquiring 88 over 15 years. Prior to the breakup, the province had 306 local distribution companies; at the time of the IPO, it had just 72, with Hydro One Networks the largest of the lot (Toronto Hydro is a distant second).

Unsurprisingly, Hydro One's balance-sheet growth has been robust: It invests about $1.5 billion in capital expenditures each year. The utility's net income has clipped along at a 9.7% compounded annual growth rate since the end of the last recession.

Those impressive returns are separate from the charges paid by provincial ratepayers to retire the "stranded debt" left behind by Ontario Hydro's nuclear-power building binge, which still accounts for a hefty chunk of the government's payables. According to a provincial electricity financing agency, the debt retirement charges on utility bills have cut the stranded debt from $19.4 billion, in 1999, to $9.8 billion as of March, 2014.

The debt points up how Ontario's nuclear-heavy electricity sector bears little resemblance to many other jurisdictions, whether in Canada or elsewhere. British Columbia and Quebec, both blessed with cheap, abundant hydro power, have kept their electricity sectors public, while some other provinces have long since put power wholly or largely in private hands: Nova Scotia (Emera), Newfoundland (Fortis) and Alberta (TransAlta, which later sold its transmission business to create AltaLink). In the United States, electricity is supplied by both giant government agencies, like the Tennessee Valley Authority, and publicly traded companies. In Europe, the predominant players, including France's state-controlled EDF and Germany's publicly traded E.ON, straddle national borders. E.ON, boasting 58,000 employees, could likely swallow Hydro One without breaking stride.

NOT LONG BEFORE SHE WON A MAJORITY IN JUNE, 2014, Wynne named Clark to head an advisory council with a mandate to look at the future of three prominent government assets: the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, Ontario Power Generation and Hydro One. Unlike previous privatization campaigns, the Liberals were motivated more by a craving for cash than ideological fervour. The Liberals, after all, had to confront an accumulated provincial debt of about $300 billion, giving Ontario the dubious distinction of being, by one reckoning, the world's largest "sub-sovereign" borrower. Something had to be done to mollify the debt-rating agencies.

As companies like Emera show, private investors have been buying up public utilities for years. But such income-generating assets have become especially prized by giant institutional investors as low interest rates and slow growth became the new normal. As Jim Leech, the former CEO of the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, observes, such investments are excellent proxies for long-term government bonds because they provide cash flow and are hedged against inflation.

Ontario's experience with privatization has been a mixed bag. Everyone in the Greater Toronto Area knows the sorry tale of how the Harris government sold Highway 407, a toll road, at fire-sale prices. Since 2003, the Liberals have opted for a privatization-lite approach, bringing in private firms and capital to build and maintain public facilities--everything from transit lines to hospitals and courthouses--on a fee-for-service model, while retaining ownership. Yet according to a scathing 2014 report from Ontario's Auditor-General, the province has spent $8 billion more than it would have had it built things on its own.

No doubt Wynne thought Ed Clark, expert in both government and finance, was as good a bet as anyone to improve on that spotty record. Clark, who has a doctorate in economics from Harvard and describes himself as a socially progressive executive, worked in senior bureaucrat posts in Ottawa (including on Pierre Trudeau's National Energy Program) before jumping to the private sector. At TD, he presided over a push to boost customer service and oversaw the acquisition of distressed U.S. banks--a move that propelled TD, once the smallest of the Big Five banks, into a neck-and-neck competition for first place with RBC.

In its initial fall, 2014, report, Clark and his advisory council veered away from calling for a full sell-off of Hydro One, recommending instead that the government cleave off the local distribution business and merge it with one or more Toronto-area utilities, while also bringing in private investors to the merged entity. By spring, 2015, however, Clark's committee "significantly revise[d]" its advice, calling on the province to sell off a majority interest in Hydro One.

What changed? In a word, Buffett.

Warren Buffett, in recent years, has become enamoured with energy. Last year, his Berkshire Hathaway Energy snapped up AltaLink, which had taken over TransAlta's transmission network in 2002. Berkshire paid $3.1 billion--a price that, unusually for a Buffett company, was on the high side. With that takeover, AltaLink became an asset in a vast energy division that operates 375,000 kilometres of transmission corridors in North America and boasts $83.4 billion (U.S.) in assets. Not coincidentally, the architect of the deal was Greg Abel, the Canadian-born Berkshire executive who is on the short-short list to some day succeed the Oracle of Omaha.

The stateside gas and electric utility sector has been frothy with steep-premium M&A activity in the past year, following Leech's dictum that investors seek out the sector's long-term stability and steady cash generation.

Buffett may bring a special buzz to the market, but Canadian investors have in fact long played in the private transmission sector. The business has always been part of the DNA of the Brascan/Brookfield empire. In the past six years, OMERS's Borealis wing has made acquisitions in the sector in the U.S., Finland, and Sweden.

For prospective Hydro One investors, however, the other salient recent deal besides Buffett's took place in September, when Emera paid $10.4 billion (U.S.) to take over TECO Energy, a utility with operations across Florida and New Mexico. While Emera paid a rich price, the deal doubles the company's asset base; Emera told investors it will boost earnings per share by 10% within three years.

David McFadden, a counsel at Gowlings specializing in energy and infrastructure (and a former Tory MPP), believes that Hydro One could some day look and behave like Emera and Fortis, another acquisitive utility with its roots in public ownership.

Emera (where officials declined to be interviewed) became the privatized incarnation of Nova Scotia Power in 1992. The $3-billion-a-year company has been on a tear in recent years, snapping up smaller utilities in the U.S. and the Caribbean, investing in clean-energy schemes like tidal power, and developing a transmission corridor that will link Labrador's hydro dams to consumers in Atlantic Canada and beyond. "I would not be surprised to see Hydro One go down this road as well," says Rob Hope, an energy infrastructure analyst with Macquarie Group who watches the Canadian market. Since going private, both Fortis and Emera have delivered steadily increasing dividends to their shareholders. Emera's first dividend payment in 1992 was pegged at 18.75 cents per share; today, that figure has jumped to 47.5 cents. (Hydro One has proposed an initial dividend of 21 cents per share.)

That the sale of the first tranche of Hydro One shares was oversubscribed probably indicates that investors are banking on the scenario foreseen by Hope. The government hasn't been forthcoming about the timing of the subsequent issues, likely for tactical reasons.

The share sale, according to government estimates, will yield about $9 billion. Of that, $5 billion will chop that stranded debt. Residential customers will stop seeing a debt-retirement charge on their bills after this year; business customers, however, will still get dinged. The remaining $4 billion will go into the so-called Trillium Trust, an account with funds earmarked for infrastructure like transit. Clark's council estimated the market value of 100% of Hydro One to be in the $13 billion-to-$15 billion range. (The underwriting syndicate, led by Scotiabank and RBC, earned a reported $30 million.) The market-value figures could creep up if Hydro One's share price rises and the government and its investment bankers time the subsequent release of stock so it can share in the capital gain created by increased stock prices and pent-up demand.

Other observers are dubious about the projected numbers. The province's Financial Accountability Office, in a report made public days before the IPO, calculated the market value to be in the $11 billion-to-$14.3 billion range, so a sale of 60% would produce a smaller windfall of $6.8 billion to $8.9 billion. Of that, the watchdog concluded, about $3.3 billion to $5.8 billion would go to infrastructure. (The Financial Accountability Office, however, couldn't access all documents pertaining to the deal.)

The Accountability Office and other critics also fretted about the impact of the sale on provincial income. Hydro One sends about $700 million in income to provincial coffers each year. That number is less than 1% of Ontario's total revenue, but it is not chesterfield change, either. By selling that first 15%, Queen's Park will lose an estimated $84 million this year, taking account of both lower interest payments on Hydro One's debt and foregone dividend income, according to an analysis done for the Canadian Union of Public Employees by economist Douglas Peters, who concluded it's "not appropriate" to sell Hydro One.

Once the entire 60% is divested, the net loss to the treasury will jump to almost $340 million annually, according to the analysis. "There was no business case for privatization and I found that startling," argues CUPE economist Toby Sanger, who points out that governments can still finance large-scale infrastructure projects the old-fashioned way, since interest rates are historically low. "It suggests they quickly caved in to pressure, either politically or from Bay Street."

WHILE PARLOUS PROVINCIAL FINANCES ARE THE justification for the privatization, the issue of public-sector entitlement is in the air. Hydro One is notorious for having more than half of its 7,800 workers on the so-called Sunshine List of public employees earning more than $100,000, with pensions to match, and for its indifferent treatment of retail customers.

The workforce won stock-based compensation as part of a new collective agreement. But some are wondering whether they'll be on the payroll to collect the payout. Mayo Schmidt, the new CEO, has a reputation as a job slasher: The American-born executive turned around, and then privatized, the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool (renamed Viterra) before selling it to Glencore International PLC in 2012. Clark predicts that under Schmidt, who will earn as much as $4 million annually after his first year, and chair David Denison, former head of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Hydro One will see improved productivity, stronger cash flow and disciplined management. Neither Schmidt nor the new CFO, Michael Vels, a Maple Leaf Foods alumnus hired in July, comes from Ontario's electricity sector, which of course means they don't know much about electricity. The fact that Hydro One's former CEO, Carmine Marcello, is staying on (with a base salary of $525,000 a year) as an adviser to Schmidt and Vels underscores their lack of technical know-how in an engineering-driven organization.

But being outsiders also means they aren't steeped in the utility's bureaucratic culture. And they do know plenty about mergers and acquisitions. Clark, however, won't make predictions about potential expansion. "Let's talk about that three or four years from now," he says. First, he adds, Hydro One has to "earn the right if [it] wants to play elsewhere." (Schmidt and Denison declined interviews.)

If Hydro One employees are worrying about their jobs, the company's customers are wondering whether improved service will indeed become job one, as Clark intimates (even as Schmidt reduces overhead), and whether rates will go up. In the run-up to the sale, opposition parties raised the spectre of rising rates as an argument against privatization.

Yet rates were going up well before the privatization began, in part because of subsidies to renewable energy producers such as wind and solar farms. Both advocates of the deal and regulatory experts dismiss price-hike fears as "misinformed," pointing out that the province's regulator, the Ontario Energy Board (OEB), doesn't set rates based on ownership. The OEB, in fact, has long regulated private natural gas distributors without incident. "The owner is not relevant," says David McFadden. Even environmentalists like Jack Gibbons, chair of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance, agree. "There's no reason to believe that private [ownership] will lead to higher rates."

Others say the Liberals' partial privatization may actually prevent Schmidt from making the necessary changes. University of British Columbia business professor Anthony Boardman has studied the performance of former Canadian Crown corporations, post-privatization. In the first two or three years, these giants show improved profitability because they shed jobs, he found, but they only later generate real growth through acquisitions or geographic expansion.

But, Boardman adds, the most successful privatized Crown corporations are those that have completely cut the apron strings. In his view, Queen's Park is trying to have it both ways, holding on to an ownership stake that will make it the largest single shareholder even if the government doesn't retain formal control. (The governance agreement also precludes moving the head office outside Ontario; likewise the sale of regulated assets.) "I'm not a big fan of a mixed entity like this," says Boardman, adding that the government's continued presence as a shareholder "creates ambiguity for the managers. It's a potential problem."

Clark dismisses such arguments, saying he's confident that Denison and Schmidt will rebuff any government meddling. "Investors won't invest in this company if they believe the government will continue to micromanage," he says. "[The government has] stepped away and said to David Denison, 'You're going to deal with these issues.'" Notably, as head of the CPPIB, Denison had to resist political pressure to direct the fund's billions toward or away from certain asset classes.

Clark says he's never been fond of "ideological" positions, such as the necessity of a 100% privatization. "A world where everything is black or white is where you don't get a lot of things done," he says. "To me, ideology is simply a lazy way of making decisions."

Whether Ontario will continue to own part of Hydro One in perpetuity is, of course, a matter of speculation, and Clark won't go there. But the narrative arc of most Canadian privatization deals, including far more controversial ones, suggests that the 40% stake is merely a way station on the long road to a complete sell-off.

ALL THE MUSCULAR TALK ABOUT MANAGERIAL INDEPENDENCE and robust regulation won't be sufficient to ensure that Hydro One shakes off its monopolistic instincts. As Clark and the provincial policy-makers who worked on this file know, the utility needs rivals to ensure that it's not gouging when its officials submit rate applications to the OEB. "There's no question it would be easy to fall into a culture that says, you don't have any choice," says Clark. "I think that's absolutely the risk."

The province's solution to this problem involved cleaving off Hydro One's Brampton local utility, which produced a $600-million windfall for provincial coffers, and merging it with a consortium comprised of three other Toronto-area utilities--Enersource, PowerStream and Horizon. "The idea is to create a really viable competitor," says Clark.

Gowlings partner Ian Mondrow, a former adviser to the OEB, explains that, with the creation of the new utility, the OEB will be overseeing three large, independent utilities (Toronto Hydro being the third), which means it will have more comparative data in hand while setting rates. "From a regulatory point of view," he says, "it will be cleaner."

What's more, it seems that the post-IPO Hydro One won't be encouraged to continue gobbling up local utilities--or, at least, not yet. Rather, McFadden says, the consolidation around Toronto sets the stage for not just more mergers, but for an influx of private capital as new investors acquire stakes in local utilities. To grease the wheels, Queen's Park has slashed the transfer tax on the sale of companies in the sector for the next three years.

Both Fortis and Epcor, Edmonton's municipal utility, have been poking around Ontario, looking for acquisitions, while other investors, including pension funds and Berkshire Hathaway Energy, are also said to be scouting deals. "There are a massive number of groups talking about consolidation right now," McFadden says. "It's all happening below the surface." Epcor spokesperson Tim LeRiche confirms that the company, which has expanded to Saskatchewan and Arizona, is searching for opportunities in Ontario.

McFadden speculates that the Hydro One IPO will also prompt other Ontario utilities to either sell shares on the public markets or invite in private equity partners, such as the infrastructure arms of large public-sector pension plans (OMERS, the most obvious candidate, declined to be interviewed). At the top of the list is Toronto Hydro, which remains a wholly owned subsidiary of the City of Toronto. "Yes, [a Toronto Hydro IPO] is talked about," McFadden says.

"It's not for me to tell [Toronto mayor] John Tory what to do," Clark demurs. But, he adds, "I definitely think it's a prime candidate. If I were John Tory, I would be looking hard at whether that's a sensible thing to do."

The upshot, McFadden predicts, is that Ontario's fragmented distribution sector will consolidate into six to eight large utilities owned either entirely or in part by private investors. Only then should Schmidt's downsized Hydro One turn its attention to an Emera-style border-crossing acquisition run.

ALMOST EVERYONE INVOLVED IN THE HYDRO ONE PRIVATIZATION--boosters and critics alike--assumes that transmission/distribution utilities offer an almost foolproof form of investment stability. Even conservation campaigns meant to encourage end-users to reduce their electricity consumption don't blow back on investors, because regulators offer gas and electric utilities attractive financial incentives to promote energy-saving technologies.

But what if the business isn't the safe harbour everyone assumes it to be? Greenpeace energy analyst Keith Stewart says the industry today resembles the telephone sector at that pregnant moment a generation ago before deregulation, cellphones and the Internet came along. He says that on a global level the transmission industry is beginning to evolve from the old hub-and-spoke structure--a handful of large generating stations feeding power through high voltage lines to local distributors--into a decentralized "smart grid" system in which energy flows to the grid from many small or intermittent sources: solar and wind farms, homes fitted with photovoltaic roof panels, and other renewable generators. "We're going to fundamentally change how that system is governed," Stewart says. "The grid won't work the same way as it has for the last 50 years and those who think it will, will lose a lot of money." Clark agrees that the next decade will see revolutionary changes.

Ontario's move to phase out its coal-fired generating plants--completed in 2014--has been accompanied by a rapid deployment of renewable energy suppliers and smart-meter technology. With a growing number of homeowners and commercial property owners installing low-cost rooftop solar panels that feed power into the local grid, the transmission system won't be called on to transport as much power as it once did. Ontario's peak summer loads, Stewart says, have actually fallen in recent years because all the solar energy now being generated on thousands of rooftops has supplemented traditional generation sources.

Ian Mondrow points out that other disruptive technologies, such as electricity storage and electric vehicles, will accelerate the transformation and invite in non-traditional players, like Google, which has a renewable power division.

In fact, in a recent lobbying document, the U.S. electricity industry describes the potential hit to transmission revenues as "a death spiral." With more power from small, far-flung sources circulating in local grids, less power will flow through the heavy-duty long-distance transmission lines. That spells lower toll revenues and even the spectre of stranded transmission assets--that is, high-voltage corridors that no longer connect to operating generators. "One of the challenges is how we manage that transition and change the way we charge for electricity," says Stewart.

Andrew Weisel, a U.S. utilities analyst at Macquarie, also notes that Europe's giant utilities--some of them public, others not--are well ahead of North America's in adapting to these technological changes, thanks to policy incentives meant to spur the development of renewable generation. As in Ontario and elsewhere, the shift to clean energy has driven up consumer power rates. Consequently, Weisel observes, some European regulators have actually moved to squeeze regulated rates of return for power companies as a means of offsetting the rising cost of clean generation to customers.

WITH THE FIRST CHAPTER OF THE IPO COMPLETE, Clark finds himself thinking about his days running a bank that had to distinguish itself in an industry that offered little in the way of differentiation, much less competition. The subject came up regularly as Clark and Denison huddled over the future of a utility that will have to become a lot less complacent before Schmidt et al. can begin to think about pursuing an Emera-style expansion strategy.

Clark, however, is no fan of slash-and-burn turnarounds--"it always blows up in your face"--and he also understands that things can go south. Other utility privatizations have backfired politically thanks to rising rates and deteriorating service. "[Hydro One] cannot earn the right to play in this marketplace unless it puts the customer first," he says. "For now, Hydro One has to prove that it can play the game dramatically better than it has played until now."

Associated Graphic

Former TD head Ed Clark may have engineered Hydro One's privatization, but it's not about fees for Bay Street, he says: "No one's trying to make money from this thing"

The Hydro One transformation is being led by CEO Mayo Schmidt, formerly of Viterra (left), and chairman David Denison, who headed the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board

Monday, November 30, 2015

Perpetrators of recent Western terror attacks have largely hailed from a small number of struggling European neighbourhoods. International expert and Globe columnist Doug Saunders has spent the last year researching approaches to building better communities. Here's how we can avert extremism before it starts
Saturday, November 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page F1

Five weeks ago, I was walking though the immigrant-filled districts of western Brussels, which straddle a 19th-century industrial canal, with some local residents. They were proud of their neighbourhood. In the decade since I'd first visited, Cureghem (on the canal's east side) and Molenbeek (on the west) had transformed from barren, down-at-the-heels places to lively scenes of bustling commerce and street life.

Then we stopped at an odd row of half-abandoned fashionable restaurants and shops. Their owners had moved away or scaled back, a local politician among the group told me, because Moroccan gangs had pressured them, or had made street life too dangerous for employees. "They're our biggest problem," he said, gesturing to the old, largely Moroccan district across the canal in Molenbeek. "Every gain we make here is set back by these guys."

As it happened, we were standing a few dozen metres from the house where one of those guys, 27-year-old Abdelhamid Abaaoud, had grown up and begun formulating his plans for a spectacular act of violence. His text message last Friday triggered this decade's bloodiest Western terrorist attack, killing 129 people in multiple locations in Paris. (He died in a hail of French police bullets this week.) The suicide attackers included at least three other young men from Mr. Abaaoud's criminal circle in Molenbeek.

What turned these young European-born men and many of their neighbours - who generally came from non-religious, educated backgrounds - into violent extremists? Why do most immigrant communities succeed, but a few fall into marginal, dangerous patterns?

That is one of the crucial questions of our age, looming over Europe's broken neighbourhoods, Canada's efforts to settle tens of thousands of Syrian refugees, and the success or failure of the next generations of immigration.

The Paris attacks, and our widening awareness of the neighbourhoods that produced their perpetrators, have thrown this question into stark relief.

A decade and a half of attacks, incidents and arrests have shown that Islamic extremism tends to attract those native-born men of immigrant descent who in other respects are throughly integrated into Western life: those whose origins, like those of Mr. Abaaoud and the members of his circle, are fluent, culturally integrated, middle-class or comfortably workingclass, generally non-religious and in many cases non-Muslim. The popular conceptions are wrong: They are not refugees and they are not immigrants.

They tend to be Westerners, however, who have life experiences - not generally seen in their parents - that include dropping out of secondary school, engaging in drug abuse and petty criminality, and time in the penal system.

And in Europe, those sorts of men tend to come from specific neighbourhoods where those experiences aren't uncommon. The men of Molenbeek also played a part in the Charlie Hebdo killings, the Jewish museum slaying in Brussels last year, and the thwarted AK-47 slaying this summer on a Paris-bound train, among other incidents. The young men who carried out the July 7, 2005, attacks in London came from specific, crime- and extremismprone neighbourhoods in the northern cities of Leeds and Bradford.

These are clearly cases of "failed integration," a phrase popular in the press this week, but it isn't entire ethnic groups, religions or cultures whose second generation has gone off the rails - it's certain places, and specific clusters of people in specific neighbourhoods.

Why is it that Molenbeek is most famous for producing these concentrations of criminality and extremism, while across the canal in Cureghem (and even in several corners of Molenbeek itself), you now find many streets where Congolese, Turks, Bosnians, and Moroccans are succeeding in business life? Why has Paris's Saint-Denis become a place that produces angry extremism, while one district away is Belleville, a quarter that has produced upward mobility for multiple waves of newcomers, including many from those same parts of Arab North Africa. Why do Pakistanis in northern English cities fare badly, on average, while Bangladeshis in southern England are now more successful, in education and other key measures, than are English people overall?

What makes some places turn immigrant families into leaders of business, education and political and cultural life, while other places turn people with the same origins into marginal, invisible, isolated and sometimes violent people?

That question is the subject of a new approach to the problem of integration. For the past year, I've been conducting research as part of an international project, commissioned and directed by World Bank senior economist Manjula Luthria, to examine the factors that make integration work, those that stand in its way, and the best international approaches to removing those obstacles.

This project, and the report it will produce, is part of a shift in international-development thinking away from looking at emigration as a simple movement of labour (and sometimes remittance money) across borders, and toward viewing immigrant success itself as a potent form of international development, and as a way to defuse major international problems.

Migration is not just about simple movement, but involves the creation of networks of people in multiple countries exchanging knowledge, credit, investment, social and financial capital. When those networks crash, dangerous things can happen.

Our research kept returning to one conclusion: Immigration works best when cities and countries prepare the ground in advance by making small investments and institutional changes that give new immigrants footholds, rather than waiting for failures to occur and then resorting to the big, expensive and far more difficult interventions required to fix them. Putting a magnet school, of better quality and with more resources than most middle-class schools, in an immigrant suburb; improving a transportation line; or relaxing small-business regulations on a block where many immigrants are settling can raise the fortunes of countless families, before they arrive.

This is doubly true for refugees: While they tend to be successful and very loyal citizens after settlement, they often arrive without the careful investments, specific plans and pre-existing networks of support that most immigrants experience. It is extra important to prepare the ground for them (Canada's sponsorship system helps this happen, to some extent), and to avoid placing any restrictions on their ability to work, do business, attend schools and invest in their communities.

The places where refugees succeed are in countries that turn them into regular "economic" immigrants as soon as possible, as there is no more important form of safety than leading a normal life in work, education and housing.

To plan in advance for immigration and refugee settlement, you need to understand the pathways that successful migrants follow, and the potential obstacles that will trip them up.

How communities get stuck

Belgium's Moroccans, Mr. Abaaoud's people, are an extreme illustration of the dangers of blocked ambitions. They did not come to the table with an easy hand, and weren't dealt anything much better by their new country.

Their migration was the product of an agreement reached in 1964 between the government of Belgium, which needed tens of thousands of workers for its booming postwar factories, and King Hassan of Morocco, who wanted foreign aid and had also just fought off a rebellion from his country's northern tribal fringes.

The King seized on the agreement and used it, as one historian wrote, to "mitigate rebellious tendencies in several Berber areas" by shipping his least favourite subjects, the very poor, illiterate and deliberately marginalized Rif Mountain tribesmen, off to Brussels and Antwerp for life. They were, in a sense, refugees, except that nobody wanted to sponsor them.

They did well in blue-collar work, in shipyards and factories - until those sectors began to collapse in the 1970s. Then they were stuck. While they had the usual immigrant ambitions and hopes for their children, and some used education and small business to raise their fortunes, most had never been to school, and had no idea how to direct their children through Belgium's rigid and traditional school system, which is almost uniquely ill-designed for classrooms whose students have a mix of origins.

And the schools in their neighbourhoods got worse and worse; many of the non-immigrant students, and the better teachers, departed, causing a downward spiral in educational quality. The Moroccan neighbourhoods were neglected and provided with few resources, from subway stations to skills training to, even, bridges over the canal. The residents themselves had entrepreneurial ambitions but it was damningly difficult to start a legal business, to get a licence or to use your housing space as a restaurant or shop. The city did nothing to bring customers to them; in fact, it warned people away. And the generous Belgian employmentbenefits system was denied these Belgian newcomers, because they were kept out of the full-time labour force: Their Moroccan surnames and insalubrious addresses on a resumé were enough to prevent them from getting a respectable full-time job.

In short, the Moroccans of Brussels were a sharply pointed version of every immigration-failure story.

When it started to become apparent that some of their kids were falling off the edge of society, the first policy responses were slow to arrive, and were often badly misguided.

A generation ago, the big public fear was not failed integration but non-integration: It was widely thought that some groups of immigrants wouldn't adopt the values, customs and affinities of Western life but would instead remain mired in closed "parallel societies," sticking with the norms and folkways of their countries of origin, ignoring the new world around them.

This, it turns out, has not really happened, not to any major immigrant community. It was a misreading of reality: These immigrants weren't retreating into an atavistic Moroccan life; they were trying to survive without the help of the city around them, even if that meant greymarket economies and crime.

The real threat is not that integration won't be sought by immigrants, who've generally been adept, wherever they're from, at finding a bottom rung on the urban ladder. Rather, the threat is that this ladder will lack a second or third rung, leaving those who have done the hard work building the foundations of integration without any opportunities to propel their families into the larger society, education system and economy.

In the last 15 or 20 years, Brussels has become more enlightened, and has made a number of impressive investments in Molenbeek and Cureghem (or has tried to: With its 19 independent municipal governments, Brussels has a hard time making changes).

There are better rapid-transit links, some innovations in schools, a fully equipped training hotel in Molenbeek designed to teach hospitality skills, a successful program to promote Cureghem as a food-and-culture destination, and informal smallbusiness areas. These have had great success in changing the outcomes for the next generation - but have arrived too late for the lost young men of Molenbeek.

In Canada: an enviable track record, but work to be done

Canadians have little experience with this sort of failure - but also, as a result, less experience with the interventions needed to turn it around. The self-integration of newcomers to Canada has, with some exceptions, generally been a successful and fairly uninterrupted process.

This is in large part because the Canadian immigrant and refugee communities of the 20th century got lucky. There was housing available, to rent or buy at low cost, in the dense downtown cores of cities, and they could use the rising value of that housing to finance small business and education. It was easy to start businesses, shops or restaurants, and there were customers nearby.

Most blue-collar jobs were fulltime and permanent. Citizenship was easy to obtain, and, in general, there was more patience in Canadian society for the long path of integration, in which, whatever the culture or nationality, the first generation rarely learns the language and the second generation often fares badly in school.

If we were lucky before, in the coming years Canada will need to get skilled.

The next immigrants and refugees won't always have the same easy landing pads. Immigration today takes place almost entirely in the suburbs, often in sprawling apartment-block neighbourhoods ill-designed for struggling newcomers and lacking spaces for business or transportation links.

The immigrant economy relies more on informal employment and temporary work. And newcomers have a much harder time using home ownership as their main platform for success.

We have the enormous benefits of pre-existing immigrant communities from almost every country to offer networks of mutual assistance and support: Syrian refugees settling in established Arabic districts such as Montreal's Saint-Michel and Saint-Laurent neighbourhoods or in Scarborough's Lawrence East district (sometimes called "Lawrence of Arabia") are more likely to get help finding full-time work and higher education with the help of their neighbours than they are to fall into isolation and alienation.

But many of our cities also have high housing costs, which push new immigrants into the lowestpriced, least supported districts: the high-rise fringes, the rooming-house quarters, the half-abandoned places, the most remote neighbourhoods, the postindustrial wastelands. And even well established immigrant neighbourhoods can fall prey to the education, employment and institutional failures that can lead the Canadian-born second generation into dangerous dead ends.

Prevention is better than cure

How do we prevent, in advance, a Molenbeek from taking shape decades after a group of ambitious newcomers arrive? Or keep the next group of refugees - and there will be many more than the 25,000 being processed now - from falling into intergenerational poverty and isolated, secondclass lives?

Our research - which includes contributors from the Global Diversity Exchange at Ryerson University, Germany's Bertelsmann Foundation, the Brussels-based Cities Alliance and other urban and academic institutions - examined four groups of barriers that tend to leave immigrant-origin communities stuck.

1. The first set of barriers is physical, involving housing, neighbourhoods and transportation.

It's important to allow immigrants and refugees, after their initial settlement, to join clusters of other people from the same background, in places where they can help each other out. A strong body of research has shown that integration happens faster and more effectively when immigrants settle in common districts.

Isolation tends to breed alienation (and, in English-speaking countries, extremism tends to emerge from isolated individuals in non-immigrant neighbourhoods; "ethnic" districts are less prone to extremism).

This often involves turning scattered, low-density districts on the outskirts - the sort that often become immigration centres today - into tighter-knit, more intensely busy places by encouraging infill property development. It involves eliminating zoning and property-use restrictions that prevent immigrants from creating shops, restaurants and light-industrial enterprises in their residential areas.

Density helps integration, if managed smartly. By increasing the flow of pedestrians through a neighborhood, density populates public spaces and creates an environment in which newcomers - particularly women - feel comfortable outside their homes. Increased physical proximity in a secure environment encourages clusters of commercial activity and social vitality to emerge, attracting not only more newcomers, but locals from surrounding communities, as well. Density, together with the commercial activity it stimulates, then justifies investments in transit infrastructure by the government, which helps newcomers reach economic opportunities in other neighborhoods of the city.

Toronto's "Tower Renewal" zoning initiative, permitting the development of dense housing and retail spaces between apartment blocks, is worth encouraging, and expanding to other cities.

Removing physical obstacles often involves putting frequent bus and rapid-transit routes into neighbourhoods of immigrant settlement - not just to get people to their jobs and back, but also to attract customers to the clusters of immigrant-run business, restaurants and culture.

Here, we should study the way Barcelona redeveloped its Nou Barris region - a sprawl of unconnected high-rise developments which the city tied into a neighbourhood using a transit and community hub between the buildings, turning Nou Barris into a destination that attracts shoppers and restaurant-goers rather than a barraen wasteland that people try to escape. Or Amsterdam's Bijlmermeer suburb, whose spiral into crime and marginality was reversed after a highspeed rail hub and immigrant-run retail became its centrepiece.

Home ownership has been the centrepiece of immigrant success, in every English-speaking country (and, interestingly, in the more successful immigrant quarters of Belgium) for the last century: Canadian immigrants often buy housing at a greater rate than native-born Canadians We need tools to allow them to have a property stake in today's less affordable economy.

It's worth emulating one of Brussels' more successful interventions, the community land trust, in which community groups purchase blocks of urban land and sell high-density housing to immigrants at below-market rates using managed, affordable leases which allow the buyers to benefit from the rising value of the property as they make improvements. (This benefit is split with the property trust agency, and owners can only sell the property back to the agency, to avoid flipping.)

And it's worth encouraging banks to offer flexible mortgages to newcomers who don't have established credit histories. Canada has a head start here: Several of its big banks have been particularly good at this, some of them even signing up immigrants before they leave their countries of origin.

2. The second group of barriers are institutional: those that prevent immigrants from having their credentials recognized, their health care and social crises addressed, and that stand in the way of their children getting the education and assistance they need.

Absolutely crucial here are schools: Too many school systems have built-in incentives for children - especially male offspring of immigrants - to drop out early. While Canadian cities have considerable experience with educating classes of mixed experience (and we know these mixes are good educationally, for both newcomers and established Canadian students), many school boards today are providing only one teacher per class. A larger class size with multiple teachers and teaching assistants offering several levels of education is a recipe for inclusion.

Even better, as Zurich and London have both learned, is to put a top-quality magnet school in an immigrant or refugee district - one good enough that middleclass kids from established neighbourhoods will seek admission, and the immigrant kids will compete to get in. Such schools can transform the fates of entire communities. Zurich's magnetschools program, QUIMS (Quality in Multi-Ethnic Schools), was so successful that it has been expanded to 100 schools across the region, all offering extra staff for the assistance of newcomers and their children.

3. Third are economic barriers. Key here is small business.

Previous immigrant groups have succeeded in Canada and other Western countries because they've been able to set up shop, in an ad hoc way, without many bureaucratic or legal barriers.

This is tougher today: It is increasingly difficult for immigrants to find low-cost spaces on streets with pedestrian traffic, in which they can start a business; they often live in areas where there are few such spaces at all. When they do get a space, they discover that licensing, regulatory and hygiene requirements often impose impossible costs on a small-scale business: The need to install, say, a $40,000 ventilation system has scuppered many a promising immigrant food enterprise.

It would be worth emulating Boston's "Back Streets" program, which relaxes business and licensing regulations in low-income areas in order to allow dense, informal and more improvised markets that appeal to visitors and give migrants an easy entry point to the world of commerce.

And new immigrants need business skills. Indeed, often a targeted on-the-job skills-training program can produce far more benefits than social assistance or social work. Here, it would be worth emulating Toronto's Thorncliffe Park district, which runs a training supermarket, in which all the employees are being taught accounting, inventory, management and informationtechnology skills to bring them into more-skilled parts of the workforce.

Or, in fact, Molenbeek itself. Its impressive training hotel takes bookings on all the popular travel sites, boasts of being near the historic core of Brussels, and has a rotating staff who are all learning hospitality-industry and management skills. (It's one of many impressive interventions in Molenbeek, most of which arrived too late for the current, troubled generation.)

Governments can play a big role in turning immigrant failure into success simply by promoting immigrant neighbourhoods as places to shop, eat and do business. Too often, governments do the opposite, trying to keep visitors and tourists away from poor immigrant areas (this is a big problem in European cities). Giving a district a name, an identity, a prominently publicized masstransit stop and some resources to make it more amenable to outside customers - programs to spruce up shopfronts and restaurant patios, street signs, sidewalkwidening programs - can turn a lost immigrant area into one teeming with people.

4. Fourth are citizenship and inclusion barriers, both legal (the ability to become a citizen) and de facto (the ability to participate in the community and have access to the resources of the government with or without citizenship). There is probably nothing more threatening to integration than having a large population living in your city on a more or less permanent basis without a pathway to full, legal citizenship.

Germany learned this the hard way, when two million Turks went 40 years without access to citizenship, and became an isolated, lost generation who couldn't invest in their communities or futures. (In recent years, German Turks have become citizens in greater numbers, and now are becoming a success story.) The United States is still learning this with its 12 million long-term residents, many of them born in the U.S. These people are "illegal," and thus lack the privileges of citizenship, including full education access. The result: an enormous lost opportunity.

Ambitious immigrants, if they don't know they'll become citizens, won't invest in their communities, start legal businesses, put their kids in higher education or enter the financial or political system: They'll be stranded. Whether we call them "illegal aliens" or "temporary foreign workers," we're risking failed integration - not just for them but for the wider community around them - if we put up barriers to citizenship, inclusion, voting and economic participation.

Refugees are especially in need of de facto (and eventually legal) citizenship recognition. All refugees are also, on some level, regular immigrants: They are seeking a safer and more stable place for their families, which entails having a job, a secure house, and the ability to affect their surroundings. Some countries, such as Sweden, have left refugees in dangerous limbo by forbidding them from seeking work until they've learned the language, if at all. They're left with little to do but hang around public squares and malls, creating a negative public image that helps spread anti-refugee rhetoric, all because the newcomers are barred from normal life.

The most successful and noncontroversial refugee groups are those that are transformed, as quickly as possible, into regular "economic" immigrants: If they're included quickly in the employment, education and housing systems of the established immigrant community, they will be more likely to stabilize their lives, give up their temporary mindset and become valuable members of their communities.

If we fear for the futures of our newly settled refugees - or worry that the 300,000 immigrants who settle in our cities every year won't live the Canadian dream of the previous millions - then we need to step back and look at what has worked. We need to follow the dotted line that leads from a faraway country, through a low-cost neighbourhood somewhere, into the centre of our economies and lives. And we need to see where that line may be interrupted, and restore its path. Integration is something that happens, naturally, if we provide the right footholds.

Doug Saunders is The Globe and Mail's international affairs columnist.

WEB EXCLUSIVE The Next Debate: 'The threat is now quite real' Warsaw-based journalist Anne Applebaum fears the massive wave of refugees has already sparked a right-wing backlash that threatens the European Union's very existence.

Associated Graphic

Life is gradually improving in Cureghem, a multi-ethnic district in Brussels, but the same cannot be said across the canal in disaffected, radicalized Molenbeek.


A registration bureau for newcomers in Cureghem, where revitalization programs have led to notably better results.


LEFT: Molenbeek is the neighbourhood in Brussels where the alleged mastermind of the Paris attacks, 27-year-old Abdelhamid Abaaoud, spent most of his life. The son of successful non-religious, university-educated Moroccan immigrants, he is said to have come back from a trip to Syria determined to set Europe aflame. Abaaoud was killed in a police raid in Paris this week


BELOW: A placard promoting a more peaceful Molenbeek was on display this week after security was tightened in the wake of the carnage in Paris. But something about the district has soured the immigrant experience so much that many young men drop out of school and turn to drug abuse, petty crime and, in some cases, extremism.


For three Syrian brothers, a fresh start in Europe - and a host of fresh challenges, too
They survived civil war, Islamic State threats and a 3,400-kilometre trek. But as Joanna Slater writes, life in Germany is no easy ride
Saturday, November 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page F1

MUNICH -- Late one night in early October, Basel Omran lay in his bunk bed in a refugee camp and tried, fruitlessly, to sleep. High above him, he could see the pleated fabric roof of the camp, a massive tent in a grassy clearing in southeast Munich. Inside, even after midnight, it was never quiet - there were murmurings, footsteps, the sound of a sink or a toilet, a baby crying, even music.

It wasn't the noise that kept him awake so much as the thoughts of home. Back in Syria, his parents would also be trying to sleep. In their village near Deir al-Zor electricity was a distant memory and each night plunged the area into total darkness. The sky would shake with the roar of government fighter jets. To light even the smallest lamp was to become a possible target for bombardment. Every week, someone perished for risking it.

Basel, a 30-year-old teacher of classical Arabic, peered into the dimness of the small cubicle. His two younger brothers, who had also made the long journey from Syria to Germany, were already asleep. Zain El Abedin, 17, the baby of the three - slightly shy but already trying out German phrases - slept in another upper bunk. Across from Basel on a lower bunk was his brother, Osama, a slender 21-year-old with wide-set eyes and a radiant smile.

Nearly three years earlier, Osama's left leg had been shredded in a government bombing at AlFurat University, where he was a student and Basel taught classes.

The nearest functioning hospital was two hours away. In the ambulance, Basel elevated his brother's mangled leg on his shoulder. Later, he wept as he signed the consent form for the amputation.

When the three brothers made the 3,400-kilometre trek to Germany, Osama travelled the entire way on crutches.

On Sept. 6, the Omran brothers arrived at Munich's main railway station. I met them on the fourhour train ride from Vienna, where they began to share their story with me. In the days and weeks that followed, we remained in contact - through visits and a flurry of WhatsApp messages, exchanging photos and videos.

Along the way, I was able to accompany them on the first steps of their life in Germany, a process that was alternately halting and triumphant.

This is a story about what happens after a refugee's voyage ends. In some ways, this journey is harder than the one that preceded it, despite the dangers and hardships of the refugee trail toward Europe.

Now the three brothers must find their way in an alien place where they never expected to be.

Far from family and friends, they are racked by worry about those they left behind and flummoxed by a seemingly impenetrable bureaucracy.

But they also receive extraordinary help from unexpected places. Their early months in Germany were a complex jumble of emotions: relief and disappointment, hope and frustration, anxiety and jubilation.

Their story is typical of what hundreds of thousands of people are now experiencing across Europe as a mass movement of humanity seeks safety or simply a better life. In Germany alone, more than a million people are expected to apply for asylum this year. Meanwhile, last week's attacks in Paris have bolstered right-wing voices who want to limit or stop the new arrivals - and shifted the public mood on refugees from acceptance toward wariness.

The Omran brothers know all about what it means to feel afraid, both of bombs from the sky and of threats from murderous radicals. With each passing day in Germany, they have made a mental journey from fear to security, slowly absorbing the knowledge that they have reached a place that is safe, a place where many things are possible.

A fortuitous encounter

The man looked like someone important. That was Osama's immediate impression as an older German, slightly rotund and sporting a white mustache, approached him and Basel on one of their first mornings in Munich.

The two brothers were getting breakfast inside what used to be an indoor tennis court but now served as a canteen. In a dozen identical half-cylindrical buildings nearby, refugees rested and plotted next steps.

The three brothers' main priorities at that moment were to sleep and to shower - "for days," joked Basel - after their grimy, fiveweek, eight-country journey.

They were considering leaving for Hamburg, a city in northern Germany where they had friends.

The encounter with Peter Gauweiler - the German man with the mustache - would change all that.

Osama reflected that in Syria, a person of stature would arrive with a large entourage. Not this man: He came with just two other people, and no one scurried to clean up the area ahead of his arrival. Mr. Gauweiler struck up a conversation with Basel and Osama, and was shocked to learn that Osama had travelled the entire trip on crutches.

Such resilience was striking, but so too was the devotion of his older brother. Basel rarely strayed far from Osama. With his air of quiet authority, he was the de facto leader of their small group of Syrians travelling together - when he told people what to do, they listened. But he was also gentle and self-deprecating. The one indulgence in his bag on the way to Germany was a tube of hair gel.

Basel and Osama explained their story to Mr. Gauweiler, who listened attentively. For more than a decade, before retiring earlier this year, he had represented a Munich district in Germany's parliament. A senior leader of the Christian Social Union, the conservative party that dominates the state of Bavaria, he is a vocal critic of the German government's refugee policy. In a recent appearance on national television, he called it "lawless."

Yet, in an individual case, he was moved to help. (Mr. Gauweiler declined requests to comment for this story.) He asked Osama what his dream for the future was, and Osama answered without hesitation: to walk again on two legs. Within days, Mr. Gauweiler would make that a reality.

'Is this the place for my new leg?'

Encountering Mr. Gauweiler was one of two lucky breaks for the Omran brothers in their first days in Germany. The other was meeting a 33-year-old Arabic-speaking volunteer named Rasha Abolof.

Born in Lebanon to Palestinian parents and raised in Austria, she moved to Munich six years ago.

When refugees began flooding into Bavaria in August, she was on vacation from her job at a travel agency. She began helping out at initial reception centres and never stopped.

At first, the brothers weren't sure what to make of Ms. Abolof.

She loved R&B and body building and sported a tattoo in Chinese characters on her forearm. With her big laugh and flashing green eyes, she drew attention like a magnet. But as the days went on, they decided to trust her with their future. It would be one of the best decisions they ever made.

Not long after meeting Mr. Gauweiler, the brothers were moved to a refugee camp in the neighbourhood of Neubiberg, a sedate area of neat homes and low-slung offices. Mr. Gauweiler's staff arranged an appointment for Osama at Streifeneder, an 87year-old company that makes and distributes parts for prosthetic limbs.

Thomas Struk, an orthopedic technician, was waiting for Osama at Streifeneder's outlet in Munich's prosperous downtown core.

When Osama walked through the glass front doors on crutches, his amputation obvious, it was an unprecedented sight. Normally, customers would receive a preliminary prosthesis before they even leave the hospital - not spend years without one.

Osama looked in wonder at the wheelchairs, canes and walkers for sale and the photos of prosthetic limbs on the walls. He had thought he was going to a doctor's appointment, but it dawned on him that this could be something else entirely. "Is this the place for my new leg?" he asked Ms. Abolof. She nodded. He hugged her and began to cry, thinking about what it could be like to feel normal again.

Streifeneder decided to donate the time and materials for his new prosthetic foot, which would cost about 8,000 euros ($11,500) in total. A day after the initial measurements, Osama and Ms.

Abolof returned to the clinic, this time with Basel. Mr. Struk brought out the foot and showed Osama how to place it on his stump - first the silicon liner, then the plastic case which leads down to a foot made of carbon fibre.

After taking some trial steps in the fitting room, holding onto a cane for support, Osama exited a door leading to a small adjacent courtyard. In his career, Mr. Struk has fitted hundreds of prostheses but he had never seen this: Within minutes of going outside on his new foot, Osama began playing with a soccer ball.

'Now my life in Syria is over'

At the camp in Neubiberg, life fell into a routine. A large domed tent with a metal fence around it, the camp houses 300 asylum seekers.

Many of them are from Nigeria, Mali and Eritrea; the Syrians are a minority. The brothers were assigned to room 48, a narrow cubicle with no ceiling and a red curtain for a door. Across the hallway sit the bathrooms and showers, often dirty and sometimes malodorous.

There was little to do except eat and sleep - and brood. In the preliminary stage of the asylum process in Bavaria, claimants don't have the right to work, travel or attend government-sponsored language classes. The brothers spent their days worrying about the status of their paperwork, but most of all about their family back in Syria.

Basel, Osama and Zain El Abedin are three of eight siblings and have dozens of cousins. Teaching runs in the family: Their father was a school teacher before retiring. The area where their parents live is a battleground in which government forces and Islamic State militants are vying for control; more recently, Russian jets have also begun dropping bombs.

The brothers would try to contact their parents via a neighbour every few days, but it wasn't always possible.

Each such break in contact was a kind of torment. Zain - as his brothers call him - missed his parents terribly, and Osama was consumed with thoughts of reuniting his family. Indomitable enough to travel to Europe on crutches, Osama could also seem fragile and nervous. "I always think about the good things and the bad things," he says. Sometimes his face lights up with an infectious grin; at other times, a faraway look comes into his eyes and he prefers to be alone.

Basel never failed to filter his experiences through the absence of his parents. Here he was, in a place with constant electricity, he would tell himself, while his mother and father lived by candlelight. Here he was, watching Osama take his first steps on his prosthetic foot, his joy tempered by the fact that his parents were not there to see it. "When I think of my childhood, I cry for everything that has happened," Basel says. "Even if the war stopped now and we went back, nothing would be the same."

Before the civil war in Syria, Basel studied for a master's degree in classical Arabic in Damascus. Last summer, Islamic State fighters delivered a threat to all the teachers in his hometown: Either teach what we want or be killed. They gave Basel 48 hours to decide. If he accepted, he recalled, he would be taken for a month to an indoctrination camp. "After that, you either believe what they do or you go crazy," Basel says. "It was the worst day. I thought, 'Now my life in Syria is over.' " After midnight, a friend helped him and Zain escape. The two brothers made it to Turkey, where Osama was already staying with relatives. A couple of weeks later, the three brothers left for the coast to make the crossing to Greece.

Into a deep, dark spiral

As they tried to fill the long, empty days in the refugee camp, a fresh anxiety emerged. On Sept. 20, as Osama was getting out of the shower, he banged his left leg on the lip of the stall. Pain shot up his amputated limb, which began to shake. The pain radiated into his chest and his breath grew short. As he stumbled out of the bathroom, Osama passed out. He remained unconscious in the hallway for half an hour. Basel and Zain, both frantic, stayed with him as they waited for the ambulance.

After several hours at the hospital, Osama was sent back to the camp, with painkillers. Eight days later, Osama fainted while the brothers were at a nearby train station. Then it happened a third time. Doctors had no good explanation for the attacks. Tests showed nothing wrong with Osama's heart or brain; perhaps, noted a letter from a nearby clinic discharging Osama, the fainting was related to a kind of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The turn in Osama's health sent Basel into a deep, dark spiral. He felt frightened, and helpless to protect his younger brother, the person he was responsible for in this strange place. The medical issues compounded the anxiety he felt about another setback, this one bureaucratic.

After their registration as asylum seekers, the next step in the process would be an initial interview. Until that took place, the brothers would have no official form of identification, no right to travel within Germany and no ability to receive the monthly stipend for refugees. Their application would be in limbo.

In mid-September, they had learned the date for their initial interview: March 14, 2016. It was a huge disappointment. Before the latest wave of refugees, such appointments would take place within a week or two. Now, a sixmonth wait stretched in front of them before they could begin to move their refugee claim forward.

The appointment was so far away - and so much later than they had expected - that Basel was struck with despair. For two days, he barely left his room and said little to anyone.

'Germany is good, but this place is bad'

In late September, volunteers organized a small party at the camp to celebrate the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. Basel and Zain sat outside at a table while Osama went inside and returned with slices of cheesecake, almond cake and apple cake. As Osama approached, Basel's expression briefly lit up with satisfaction: His brother was walking toward him without crutches, both hands free to carry plates, with only a slight hitch in his step.

It was a light moment in a time of despondency and frustration consumed by petty and not-sopetty frictions at the camp. A couple of hours earlier, a 12-year-old Syrian boy had accused an African refugee of slapping him (falsely, it turned out). Later the same day, a Syrian refugee picked a bag out of a trash can near the entrance to the camp and another refugee accused him of stealing it.

As tensions rose, two groups of refugees squared off for a brawl.

The security personnel called the police, who sent dozens of officers to the camp. Eventually, the situation was defused.

Norbert Bueker, who leads a tireless group of 200 local volunteers working at the camp, said most conflicts spring from a lack of understanding. Meanwhile, Mr. Bueker also has other issues to contend with: Some of his volunteers are in danger of burning out, while others are vulnerable to criticism from friends and neighbours who say Germany shouldn't be helping so many refugees. A spokesman for Inner Mission, a social-service organization with three employees in the camp, said a new weekly council had helped refugees feel their concerns were taken seriously.

For the three brothers, their early experience of Germany was limited to the refugee camp, government offices and the hospital. Some things they found baffling: "Why do families here have so few children?" Basel wondered.

And others they found pleasantly different: the orderly traffic, the punctual trains, the ability to hug women friends in greeting, for instance.

The anxiety and idleness at the camp were corrosive. "Germany is good, but this place is bad," said Basel, gesturing to the large tent.

In late September, he grew depressed and talked of returning to Syria. Better to go back home and die in peace, he said, than live in a barn like animals. "The situation here is not as we expected and we dream," he wrote in a message one evening.

In early October, their sister Balqis succeeded in making the journey to Germany with her husband and one-year-old son. She was assigned to a refugee camp at the other end of the country, two hours north of Berlin. The Omran siblings were now split evenly between two worlds: four in Germany, four remaining in Syria.

Then, in the middle of October came a stroke of luck. Ms. Abolof, the volunteer who met the brothers when they first arrived, had spent weeks shuttling between the local authorities and the federal refugee office. Finally, her ceaseless efforts bore fruit. A bureaucrat agreed to shift the interview dates forward for 17 Syrian refugees in the Neubiberg camp ("my 17 children," says Ms. Abolof, laughing). When Basel heard the news, his face was a mask of shock and joy. He grabbed Ms. Abolof's hand and started to dance.

'A heavy burden has been lifted' The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees in Munich is housed in a squat grey building. Outside on a recent morning, the trees have turned yellow and orange.

Inside, a handful of people sit or sleep in a grim waiting room on the ground floor. As the minutes pass and more people arrive, the room grows full, then overflows.

At 7:30 a.m., Basel, Osama and Zain come in with Ms. Abolof.

Filled with nervous energy, Basel prefers to remain standing, bouncing on the balls of his feet.

He complains that these days the brothers do little except eat and sleep, but he sounds more resigned than frustrated.

The atmosphere in the camp is less charged than before. Basel has befriended a few refugees from other countries and says some of the security personnel are helpful. Food still runs out at breakfast and dinner, and sometimes the bread is mouldy, but now these seem like temporary problems to be endured. After suffering three fainting attacks since his arrival in Munich, Osama has had no such incidents in the last two weeks.

A couple of days earlier, Basel recounts, Mr. Gauweiler made a surprise visit to the refugee camp with two local officials in tow.

They all crowded into their small sleeping cubicle to talk. Mr. Gauweiler asked what the brothers wanted to do next. Zain answered that he'd like to finish school.

Osama said he wanted to go to university and become a photojournalist. Basel's first priority was to learn German, with the hope of eventually becoming an interpreter.

After four hours of waiting, the brothers are called upstairs for their interviews. Most queries are straightforward: name, date of birth, marital status, profession, date of arrival in Germany. Then, Basel says, the bureaucrat's eyes "zoom in like cameras" on his face and she asks him, "Do you have problems with the Syrian government?" It is an odd question. It is hard to imagine a Syrian fleeing their home who does not have problems with the Syrian government, let alone one whose brother's leg was shredded by a government bomb. Basel believes the query is a way of asking whether he is a rebel fighter - and he answers truthfully, "No." In 10 minutes, the interview is over. As they finish up the paperwork, the translator - a man from Sudan - asks about what is going on in Syria. "We just want peace, that's all," Basel says.

At 2:30 p.m., the three brothers emerge from the refugee office, stunned and happy. They have all passed this stage of the process.

They are holding the next step: a 12-point questionnaire which will be used to evaluate their asylum claim. (Question 11: Are you an eyewitness to or affected by: War crimes? Torture or rape of civilians? Executions? If yes, when and where were these incidents? Please explain briefly.)

In a few days, they will enter the district administration office in Munich and emerge with their first stipends and with photo identification confirming their status as an asylum seeker. It indicates that, as of Dec. 10, they can travel anywhere in Germany and also, in theory, get a job. Soon after, Basel will begin German classes three times a week, helping translate the lessons from English to Arabic for his friends.

But now it is time for a small celebration. At a self-serve Turkish restaurant near Munich's central station, the three brothers sit at a long table. They drink Ayran, a yogurt beverage, and eat kebabs and rice. They are in high spirits. At one point, Osama gives Ms. Abolof, the Austrian volunteer who has become a dear friend, a peck on the cheek. He is laughing but also daring - the life they have here will be different, with different freedoms. Yet they are unanimous: If the war in Syria ended tomorrow, they would return home immediately.

Meanwhile, knowing they have passed another hurdle is "like a heavy burden has been lifted," Zain says, touching his shoulders. Their father was very worried about the interview, and the brothers look forward to reassuring him that everything went well. Basel says he is filled with energy and feels like running through the streets. "The only thing is my family," he says. "I would hold all the happiness in the world in my hands if my family were here."

As night falls, the restaurant fills up. The brothers set off through the darkened streets. It is a cold, clear evening and office workers are streaming toward home. The roads are full of cars and trams.

Ahead of them looms the same railway station where they arrived, exhausted and uncertain, two months earlier. Basel looks up into the night sky. "I feel like a door has opened," he says. "The big door - the door to the future."

Joanna Slater is a Globe and Mail correspondent based in Berlin.

Associated Graphic

Basel Omran (centre), seen here on a train bound for Munich, says: 'I would hold all the happiness in the world in my hands if my family were here.'


A German company donated a prosthetic limb for Osama Omran, who had been injured in a Syrian bombing.


Basel Omran holds his paperwork and an ID card issued by the security service at his German refugee camp.


It is 'like a heavy burden has been lifted,' said Zain (right), after the brothers passed a German government interview that will allow them to receive photo ID.


'When I think of my childhood, I cry for everything that has happened,' says Basel (left), standing with brother Osama outside the refugee camp in the Munich neighbourhood of Neubiberg.


Saturday, November 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A8

LONDON -- The maelstrom began as a chilly wind that whipped through the refugee tents of Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. It was Thursday, Nov. 12, and I spent the day sitting on the floors of a succession of handmade dwellings, listening as refugees told tales of the horrors they had witnessed before fleeing the nightmare that is Syria. We also spoke

'Da'esh is fighting just over the mountains," intoned the Lebanese aid worker who guided me along the narrow muddy paths that serve as roads in the informal refugee settlements. He nodded at the brown western slope of Mount Lebanon, the natural border between Lebanon and Syria. Da'esh is the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State, a name preferred by Muslims who don't like to grant the extremist group any link with their religion.

That evening, as my taxi returned to Beirut, the radio started to crackle. Two suicide bombers had attacked the southern suburbs of the Lebanese capital, killing 43 people. IS, or rather Da'esh, immediately claimed responsibility.

Less than 30 hours later, eight (or more) IS militants were launching their deadly assault on Parisian lovers of music, food and sports, adding 130 to the dead and rattling one of the West's great capitals to its core.

I spent part of Sunday running with a crowd of hundreds from a phantom follow-up attack on Paris's central Place de la République. Someone heard a bang and thought it was a gunshot, and we all fled through the lobby of the adjacent Crowne Plaza hotel. I ran through the kitchen and took a staff elevator up to my room, where, along with several employees, we triple-locked the door and tried to figure out what we would do if the nonexistent gunmen started moving floor by floor through the hotel.

The winds kept blowing. By Monday - four days after I sat in the refugee tents of the Bekaa Valley - I was standing in the rain at a police line in the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek, the gritty streets that had produced at least three of those suspected of involvement in the Paris attacks.

Events had propelled me through three countries and more than 3,000 kilometres from Thursday to Monday. But it was all the same story.

A clash of civilizations?

In some ways, we have never seen an extremist organization like the Islamic State. The group controls a swath of Iraq and Syria that is larger in area than Britain. Millions of people live under its harsh rule. And over the past three weeks - as it bombed a Russian airliner, attacked a Shia neighbourhood of Beirut and then shot up the streets of Paris, all while battling the various armed groups that directly confront it in Iraq and Syria - it has shown a shocking willingness to fight everyone at the same time.

IS may yet achieve what seemed impossible: uniting such disparate forces as the United States, Russia, the European Union, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran against it, even as those forces seek very different outcomes for the region.

The self-declared caliphate can't win the conflict militarily.

But a bloody stalemate that sees the West lashing out at a Sunni Arab army while co-operating in one way or another with the region's Kurds, Shiites, Christians and Jews (as well as a handful of Sunni autocrats) will only prolong and intensify what is already seen by many in the Middle East as a clash of civilizations.

The problem isn't as simple as defeating IS. It is only the most awful symptom of a much wider illness. The real sickness is a Middle East shattered along sectarian lines that don't match the borders as they are drawn. And if we don't deal with that as part of our war against IS, the cancer will only continue to spread.

Every one of the refugees I met in the Bekaa Valley had horrifying tales to tell, and so - most worryingly - did their children.

They had seen friends shot dead beside them, brothers and fathers executed. One girl, 12 years old, tried to explain to me what it looked like when a person's jaw is blown off.

But almost all of the 1.1 million refugees in Lebanon - as with the bulk of the 750,000 refugees in Jordan - had fled the Syrian army, not IS (the two million refugees in Turkey are a different matter, since most people fleeing IS-controlled eastern Syria would likely head there). Those were the Syrian army's bullets, not Da'esh's, shooting best friends where they stood, and tearing off jaws. The Syrian army, not incidentally, answers to commanders who are Alawite by faith, an offshoot of Shia Islam.

The rage those experiences produce - an anger that the Palestinian experience has taught us will be passed on for generations - is what IS feeds off.

While the West debates shutting its borders to refugees over a single, suspiciously intact Syrian passport, the wars in Syria and Iraq are still producing thousands of new refugees and internally displaced people every day.

And luring people such as the Paris attackers to join the jihad.

The vast majority of Syrian refugees are Sunni Muslims, whether they are fleeing IS or Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces and their Shia militia allies from Iran and Lebanon.

The same holds true in Iraq, where refugees I've met in the camps of Kurdistan tell chilling stories of IS brutality. But ask them why locals did not resist IS when the extremists arrived in Mosul and other cities, and they switch to tales of how Iraq's Sunnis were persecuted by Iraq's Shia-dominated military before IS arrived.

To the West, the IS militants are unqualified barbarians. In parts of Iraq and Syria, they are seen as needed protection against a sectarian foe.

Already, we are seeing teenagers grow into young men who know only discrimination and violence. The generation coming up behind them includes hundreds of thousands of children who haven't been to a school for years. And, like the Palestinians before them, they have no homeland now. Iraq and Syria, as they are structured, will never be places to which Sunni Muslims will happily return.

George W. Bush claimed that he was acting in the name of "Iraqi freedom" when he sent the U.S. military into Iraq in 2003 to topple Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein. But while Mr. Hussein's ouster may have brought democracy to Iraqis - insofar as elections are held every few years - the invasion did not deliver freedom.

Iraqis can choose their own leaders now, but not their fate.

Unless there is a sudden outbreak of secularism in the country, Iraq's Shia majority - which suffered for decades as the Cold War superpowers took turns backing Mr. Hussein - knows that it will write the rules from here on out. The country's Sunnis know that, as long as they are ruled by Baghdad, it's their turn to suffer.

All the solutions on the table are messy, but the only one with a long-term chance of success is to let the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds go their own ways. It's difficult to envision. The Turkish and Iranian governments fear that a Kurdish state in northern Iraq and northern Syria will inspire fresh demands among their own Kurdish populations. The Sunni Arab kingdoms of the region worry that a dissolution of Syria and Iraq might cause their citizens to question the ruler-straight borders of their own countries. And how do you deal with multicultural cities, such as Baghdad and Damascus?

But history teaches that, when pluralistic countries fail, nation states eventually emerge.

Europe rarely saw peace under the empires that existed before the First World War. Similarly, the peoples of the Balkans kept fighting one another until each had its own state. The borders of Iraq and Syria - lines drawn on a map 99 years ago by British and French civil servants - make even less sense than those of Austria-Hungary or Yugoslavia.

What does any of this have to do with the rise and reach of the Islamic State? Well, pretty much everything.

When IS seized control of Mosul - Iraq's second-largest city - in the summer of 2014, the group celebrated with one of its more mundane videos, announcing the end of the Sykes-Picot agreement between Britain and France that drew the border between Iraq and Syria in 1917.

Many of the horrific propaganda videos the group has released are aimed at instilling fear in its many enemies. Fear is the best weapon IS has. Fear has driven numerically superior Iraqi and Syrian forces to abandon their weapons and positions at word of an IS advance. Every foe of IS has seen the gruesome beheading videos, or the immolation of the Jordanian fighter pilot in a cage. Fear of another attack like the one on Paris is what we're all talking about today.

But the video released in June, 2014, was aimed at winning the hearts and minds of the people it sought to rule. In one of his few public appearances, IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi said from a Mosul mosque: "This blessed advance will not stop until we hit the last nail in the coffin of the Sykes-Picot conspiracy."

Keeping Iraq together involves the West helping a predominantly Shia army crush a militia that claims to represent the country's Sunni minority. Keeping Syria, a majority Sunni state, together seems to involve some kind of accommodation with at least parts of the Alawite-run regime of Mr. al-Assad.

This is not an argument for or against military intervention, although the West's actions in the Middle East since 2003 (and arguably long before) have spectacularly backfired. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, however involved deeply in the Balkan wars, can claim some successes - largely because it allowed and encouraged different peoples to go their different ways.

The Sunni Awakening

The first time I met Sheik Ali Hatem al-Suleimani was in the spring of 2008 at his fortified villa in Kerada, a Sunni neighbourhood of Baghdad. While an American journalist and I waited for our scheduled interview, Sheik al-Suleimani finished playing Black Hawk Down on his video-game console. It's a game in which the player takes the side of U.S. soldiers on a mission in Mogadishu, battling Somali militants eager to spill American blood.

The sheik, then 37 years old, was enjoying playing the American side. "I like it better," he explained after finally putting down his controller. "They have better weapons. It's easier to win."

Back then, he thought he was on the winning side. After years of fighting against the U.S. occupation - with some of his men doing so under the flag of alQaeda in Iraq - the head of the powerful al-Dulaimi tribe had been persuaded (with a lot of cash) to switch and turn his guns against the extremists.

They would call it the Sunni Awakening, and the militias they formed became known as the Sons of Iraq. It all worked rather well - for a while. "Guns and tribes, this is my power," the sheik boasted to me.

Iraq's Sunnis had not been extremists under Saddam Hussein, Sheik al-Suleimani reminded me.

They had been staunchly secular.

The militant salafism that had spread in places such as Fallujah and his hometown of Ramadi was foreign to most of those who lived there. Groups such as al-Qaeda in Iraq had taken root only because the locals had become disillusioned with the U.S. occupation and the Shia politicians - like then-prime-minister Nouri alMaliki - it was empowering.

The Sunni Awakening bested alQaeda in Iraq, but not Mr. al-Maliki. By 2013, the Iraqi government had disbanded the Sons of Iraq.

The Sunni militias were no longer in charge of the streets of Mosul, Fallujah and Ramadi. Mr. Maliki's Shia-dominated army was the only force allowed to publicly bear arms. Refugees fleeing the IS takeover of Mosul would later tell me how the Iraqi army would detain and sometimes torture young men simply because they had Sunni names.

Iraq's descent back into chaos happened as Syria's civil war - which had begun when Mr. alAssad's soldiers opened fire on peaceful (and predominantly Sunni) demonstrators at the end of the "Arab Spring" in 2011 - was entering a dangerous new phase.

Proof emerged that his forces had used chemical weapons in the summer of 2013 against something that still existed then: religiously moderate Sunni rebels.

Desperate to avoid the fall of his regime, Mr. al-Assad had crossed every red line. U.S President Barack Obama sent American warships into the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

I was in Jordan's sprawling Zaatari refugee camp that fall, meeting once more with emotionally and psychologically damaged Syrian refugee children. You could see then that the coming generation was an unfolding disaster, one that - left unattended - held the potential to destabilize the Middle East and the world for decades to come. I met a 13-year-old who watched his father being shot and killed by Mr. al-Assad's forces three years ago. He told me that his only dream "when I turn 16 or 18" was to join the jihad.

But the refugee children's parents, in the fall of 2013, saw hope in the expected Western military action against the al-Assad regime. "Everybody is waiting for the strike," said Mahmoud Hoshan, a refugee who ran a mobilephone shop in the camp. "We don't want to be disappointed.

People are selling their things, getting ready to go back."

But the West, as we know, backed down. Russian President Vladimir Putin offered both his ally, Mr. al-Assad, and Mr. Obama an off-ramp from conflict - a deal to remove chemical weapons from the country - and both sides gratefully took it.

The war would continue. The alAssad regime would use barrel bombs instead of chlorine gas.

Even though reports occasionally surface suggesting that chemical weapons are still being used by various sides in Syria, no one would speak of red lines any more.

To Mr. Obama, it probably looked as if he were avoiding Mr. Bush's mistakes, not to mention keeping a war-weary United States out of another intractable Middle Eastern conflict. But to the Sunnis fighting Mr. al-Assad - who briefly looked to the skies hoping American jets were coming to save them - it was a huge betrayal. After all, imaginary chemical weapons had been enough to trigger the invasion of Iraq and the toppling of a Sunni dictator. Now the use of real ones (against a Sunni population) was being allowed to go unpunished in Syria.

In the fall of 2013, IS was one militia among many in Syria's conflict. Nine months later, by the summer of 2014, it had largely subsumed the local al-Qaeda affiliate, and had taken over territory from the edge of Aleppo to the outskirts of Baghdad.

With both the Iraqi capital and the Kurdish mini-state under threat, the West finally decided to intervene in Iraq and Syria. A broad U.S.-led coalition - including Canada, France and Britain, as well as the rattled Sunni Arab dictatorships of Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - declared war on IS.

A root feeling of injustice

It was June of 2014 when I saw Sheik Ali Hatem al-Suleimani again. This time, he had agreed to meet a small group of foreign journalists on the mezzanine floor of a five-star hotel in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish ministate in northern Iraq.

In some ways, he was a refugee, too. There was no place for a rich sheik in impeccably tailored white robes among the black-clad jihadis who that month had driven the Iraqi army from Mosul, Fallujah and Ramadi. But he still claimed leadership of the alDulaimi tribe. And he acknowledged that his tribesmen were now fighting alongside the Islamic State.

Speaking before the Western air strikes began, he foresaw at least two wars that needed to be fought. The first was the war that the region's Sunnis were waging against the al-Maliki and al-Assad governments. After those fights were won, he said, the Sunnis would have an internal battle over what kind of state they wanted. Then, sheiks like him might again have a role similar to the one they played in the Sunni Awakening of 2007 and 2008. "We are postponing our fight with Da'esh until later," he said with almost none of the bravado he had displayed six years earlier.

I asked him if he thought that Iraq was falling apart. His reply suggested that he would not mind if it did. "Dividing Iraq is better than us being killed every day."

The lesson of Sheik al-Suleimani's rise and fall is not that Western governments should invest in people like him again (although I wouldn't be surprised if they do), but that there is a root feeling of injustice that each of these Sunni movements - al-Qaeda, the Sons of Iraq, IS - has used to fuel a fighting force.

We were shocked on Sept. 11, 2001, to discover that there was an angry army out there that blamed us for the troubles in their part of the world.

Fourteen years later - in the wake of another horrific attack on a Western capital - the unlearned lesson is that we won't feel safe in our homes until the peoples of the Middle East feel safe in theirs.

Anger and resentment

As I walked through the rainy streets of Molenbeek on Monday, there were two words that connected it all, from the refugee camps I had been in a few days before, to the massacres in Paris, to the Molenbeek residents glaring at the police and journalists invading their neighbourhood: hatred and injustice.

Yes, they hate us. We (the West) now understand very well that there is a very committed and growing group of people who hate us and what we stand for.

But do they hate our culture - our openness, our wine drinking, even our tolerance - as many writers have suggested since the attacks on Paris?

No, those are just symbols of "us." People in Raqqa and Mosul didn't hate us in 2002. They may not have wanted to drink wine with us and they definitely resented Western support of Israel, but they didn't want to see Westerners bleed on the streets of Paris.

There were others who did - witness al-Qaeda's attacks on the United States, London and Madrid - but that's a different issue and a different story.

So why does IS seem so much more dangerous than the Algerian or Palestinian groups that we fretted about in the 1980s and 1990s, or even al-Qaeda? It terms of capabilities, it is not. The attacks on the soft targets of Paris nightlife required none of the sophisticated planning and preparation that went into al-Qaeda's 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon; nor its previous operations against the USS Cole as it docked in Yemen or against a pair of U.S. embassies in Africa.

What IS has is a bigger pool of anger and resentment to draw on, young Muslims who now see the conflict as civilizational, rather than a beef with the U.S. government and its military. The Koran and its more dangerous interpretations have been with us for centuries. There is nothing new about the ideology of IS, the idea of a caliphate or the need to wage jihad against all non-believers.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has none of Osama bin Laden's creepily serene charisma. Nor is he a Saudi billionaire. He just has better timing.

Al-Qaeda grew out of Muslim anger over the Israel-Palestine conflict and - in the case of Mr. bin Laden and his immediate coterie - the presence of U.S. military bases in Saudi Arabia and other sacred lands of Mohammed. Now the casus belli has multiplied to include Iraq and Syria.

So, too, has the pool of potential jihadis. As the Paris attacks demonstrated yet again, refugees are not the worry - at least not yet. As with the Madrid and London attacks in 2004 and 2005 and the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris in January, nearly all the perpetrators were born, bred, marginalized and radicalized in the European societies they attacked.

The kerosene was everywhere; IS only provided the match.

Take a stroll through Molenbeek, on the edge of Brussels, where Friday's assaults were hatched, or the Paris banlieue of Gennevilliers, the last address of the Charlie Hebdo attackers, and you enter worlds that sit inside - but are in many ways no part of - the Europe that surrounds them.

Jobs are scare, education is a league behind what is offered in richer parts of the cities, the police are mistrusted.

As Doug Saunders points out in his Focus essay this weekend, it is precisely these factors that help encourage homegrown extremists down the path to radicalization.

Many youths feel that they have no place in the France or Belgium to which their parents moved their families, so they look for another identity. IS, as with al-Qaeda before it, is waiting for them - online and sometimes right in their neighbourhood - with narratives connecting their local troubles to faraway wars and a clash of civilizations.

A troubled path

There is no prescription here. Only a warning, a feeling I picked up during that ill wind that blew me from the Bekaa Valley to Brussels, via Paris.

It's a simple one: Worse lies ahead down the road that world leaders are currently plotting. A Russian-French agreement to work together to punish IS, while necessarily empowering the remnants of the al-Assad regime to expand back into parts of the country where it is feared and reviled, will not stem the refugee flow from Syria. Nor will it convince the country's Sunni Muslims that we care about their interests. The same applies in Iraq, where we bolster the Kurds and a hated national army against IS there.

"Why don't they stay and fight for their country?" is one barb often aimed at the young men fleeing Iraq and Syria.

The root of the problem is, they don't have one.

Follow me on Twitter: @markmackinnon

Associated Graphic

Four days after I sat in the refugee tents of the Bekaa Valley, I was in standing in the rain at a police line in the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek.



As I walked through the rainy streets of Molenbeek on Monday, there were two words that connected it all, from the refugee camps I had been in a few days before, to the massacres in Paris, top, to the Molenbeek residents glaring at the police and journalists invading their neighbourhood: hatred and injustice.


It powers industry and is the lifeblood of healthy communities. But years of reduced federal oversight, Mark Hume writes, have left the government with major decisions about managing a resource we take for granted Photography by Eamon Mac Mahon
Saturday, November 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page F1

Canadians, unlike billions of people around the world, see clean water as their birthright. Images of pristine water are rooted deep in the Canadian psyche, from Tom Thomson's Cold Spring in Algonquin Park, to photos of Pierre Elliott Trudeau canoeing on fresh northern lakes.

As a commodity, water touches every facet of the Canadian economy. It powers industry and washes away industrial, urban and agricultural waste. Without it, turbines don't spin, croplands become dust bowls, and rainforests burn.

But water resources can't be protected by our good intentions alone - that takes government policy.

If it is tainted, water can sicken entire communities - as happened in Walkerton, Ont., in 2000, when seven people died and more than 2,000 became ill from E. coli. Across Canada, in a typical month, there are more than a thousand active community drinking-water advisories.

In recent years the federal government has retreated - quietly, and to an unprecedented extent - from the regulation of water. Lawyers, scientists and past federal employees interviewed by The Globe and Mail say that a series of changes made under Stephen Harper have reduced enforcement and weakened environmental controls, putting our water at risk.

Even some industry representatives, who lobbied the government for a streamlined regulatory framework, have been surprised at the extent of the changes.

While the Liberals in Ottawa are currently focused on global climate change, an equally compelling environmental issue faces us at home. Canada's water is under pressure from oil and gas development, logging, hydro generation, and industrial and urban pollution. Glaciers are dwindling, and aquifers are being depleted. We must manage our water, so we can keep using it. Figuring out that balance - one that ensures environmental protection while meeting society's demands - will be one of the new government's greatest tasks.

Neither Fisheries Minister Hunter Tootoo nor Environment Minister Catherine McKenna was available for an interview on how they plan to address these matters. Their staff responded with brief e-mails referring to their mandate letters from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and the party's campaign platform included several measures to reverse course on some of the regulatory changes, but the details of how the Liberals will proceed on water-related issues are yet to be made public.

Over the next week, The Globe and Mail will examine the many challenges to Canada's watersheds. From the battle to preserve clean water in the Great Lakes, to the more than 100 boil-water advisories affecting First Nations communities, to large-scale projects that have sparked public outcry, policymakers face critical questions about the future of a resource we assume will always be available. We will explore these questions in depth, consider what solutions technology offers, and report on what individual water users can do to make a difference.

Layers of regulation, and a push to streamline

Standing on a footbridge where Britannia Creek flows through an old mine site, Mark Angelo takes a deep breath and catches the stench rising from the water. "That's a wonderful smell," he says.

Below him, scattered along the banks of the stream that tumbles under the Sea-to-Sky Highway, about 50 kilometres north of Vancouver, are the carcasses of 300 salmon. They died naturally, after spawning, but not long ago this water was so contaminated with acid runoff from the Britannia Mine that it was devoid of life. Not only were there no salmon; there were no aquatic plants or insects at all, as a caustic broth from the mine poisoned the cold, bright water.

"It was one of the most toxic sites in North America," says Mr. Angelo, chair emeritus of the Rivers Institute at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. The stream was killed in the early 1900s, at a time when governments didn't question resource development and had little concern about environmental damage.

Some of Canada's oldest legislation deals with water, including the Navigable Waters Protection Act (now the Navigation Protection Act) which was passed in 1882, three years before the last spike was driven to complete the Canadian Pacific Railway.

At that time waterways were still Canada's primary transportation routes, and the bill was designed to ensure that bridges wouldn't impair navigation. It was soon expanded to cover dams, docks, piers and just about any other structure that stuck out into the water. In 1906 the Supreme Court of Canada reinforced the scope of the act by defining "navigable water" as any body of water that could float a canoe - broadening the legislation so that it applied to millions of lakes, rivers and streams.

But over several decades, beginning in the late 1800s, successive Liberal and Conservative governments also developed a complex regulatory framework that went beyond these economic concerns, and introduced rules to protect the environment. Inevitably, as layers of regulation built up, they become cumbersome to administer; there were also archaic remnants of the original regulations that hindered many projects.

Mr. Harper's government cited many examples of this when it broached the need to modernize the regulatory system. Among them: a City of Moncton application to build a culvert under a highway, which took eight months to secure approval; and a Hydro Quebec transmission line that took 13 months to get approved. Then there was the case of Wabamun Lake, near Edmonton, where, over a span of three years, the government was obliged to process 80 applications from cottagers who simply wanted to put in docks.

Reforms were aimed at eliminating that kind of red tape, the Conservatives said. To an extent, that was true: Legislation routinely needs to be updated to reflect changing technologies, priorities and public needs.

But Mr. Angelo, along with many other environmental academics and researchers, thinks the government went too far. As it streamlined processes, they say, it also undermined environmental oversight - both by scaling back the scope of regulations and by reducing enforcement.

Under the Conservatives, a raft of regulatory rollbacks

Canada's water is regulated by multiple departments and agencies administering several key pieces of legislation. In 2012, the government amended many aspects of that regulatory framework, narrowing the scope of the rules, and revising the processes by which decisions were made.

Most of the amendments were buried in sweeping omnibus legislation, which meant that they did not have a chance to be debated, bill by bill, in the House of Commons.

Collectively, the amendments softened regulations protecting water from pollution, allowed the destruction of fish habitat, restricted public participation in environmental reviews, made it easier for pipelines and bridges to cross waterways, gave industry a self-policing role in assessing environmental impact, and reduced protection for species at risk.

Here are some of the most significant changes:


Taken together, several changes both scaled back the government's commitment to fishery regulation and reduced its capacity to monitor whether its regulations were being adhered to.

One major set of amendments was to regulations that prohibited the "harmful alteration or disruption, or the destruction of fish habitat" (known as the HADD section of the act). This section had been routinely used by fisheries officers to protect fish habitat from the discharge of pollutants and other harmful effects. Under the old legislation, bridge and pipeline crossings, dredging, gravel mining in rivers, and the crossing of streams by heavy equipment could all lead to HADD prosecutions.

In the new bill, the HADD section was altered to prohibit "serious harm to fish that are part of a commercial, recreational or aboriginal fishery, or to fish that support such a fishery."

This amounted to a significant reduction of the areas protected. Fish in wilderness waters not regularly visited by people would not be protected - nor, crucially, would their habitat. Furthermore, in the new HADD section, "serious harm" was defined as the "death of fish" or the "permanent" alteration or destruction of their habitat. Temporary destruction - the kind that might result from an oil spill - became legal.

Other changes gave cabinet the authority to exempt individual projects, or complete water bodies, from the Fisheries Act entirely. This made it possible for a specific mine, for example, to legally pollute a river or lake.

As well, the budget of the department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) was cut by $80-million in 2012, and its staffing levels reduced.


Changes to this act have given cabinet the authority to approve any project, regardless of its environmental impacts, thus politicizing such approvals while severely curtailing the number of projects screened.

An environmental assessment (EA) is the basic tool by which a government examines the impact that a proposed project might have, and determines whether it ought to be approved. Changes to the CEAA gave cabinet a greater and more direct role in decision-making, dramatically tightened the time frame for environmental reviews, reduced opportunities for public participation, and recognized provincial assessments as equivalent to federal reviews.

Under the new rules, if an assessment concludes that a specific project would cause "significant" environmental effects - which in the past would have been grounds for rejecting it - the project is now referred to cabinet to determine whether those effects are justified in the circumstance.

The amendments also stated that "only designated projects" would require environmental assessment; in the past, any project that involved federal lands or required a federal permit would have triggered an assessment. Typically, the environment minister designates projects for review under the revised legislation, also opening up the process to potential politicization.

Just before the legislation was amended, according to an analysis by the environmental law firm Willms & Shier, there were 2,970 projects on the CEAA registry for screening, including pipeline rights of way, oil- and gas-well access roads, gravel mines, and waste-treatment facilities. Once the revisions were passed, 2,900 of those projects - almost 98 per cent - were dropped.


Changes here slashed the number of water bodies considered significant enough to be specifically protected by the federal government, and added a significant hurdle to the review of any particular project to be built on such bodies.

Previously known as the Navigable Waters Protection Act, the original purpose of this legislation was to keep waterways open to marine passage. But over the years, it evolved to include an environmental dimension, and so could trigger environmental assessments of projects.

In 2012, the word "waters" was removed from the title of the bill.

It was a change of portent: The focus of the legislation now became solely the protection of navigation, and the ability to consider the environmental impact of projects was severely limited.

There are over 8,500 rivers and two million lakes across Canada.

While the government was drafting its amendments, it looked at a list of 1,070 bodies of water that were considered significant enough to be specifically listed in the act - as designated waters, they would continue to be covered. By the time the legislation was passed, only 162 of them - 97 lakes, 62 rivers and the three oceans that border Canada - were included.

Now dams, bridges, pipeline crossings and other works can be built on almost any body of water in the country, without prior approval under the act and without triggering an environmental assessment. For example, only one river in the Northwest Territories - the Mackenzie - is designated. In B.C., such rivers as the Stikine and the Liard are not listed.

As well, until the 2012 amendments, projects submitted for approval under the NWPA could trigger a review based on certain environmental concerns. Under the NPA, assessments are triggered only if a project is also on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act's truncated project list.


Also in 2012, responsibility for assessing potential damage to fish and fish habitat from pipelines and power lines was transferred from the DFO to the National Energy Board (NEB).

But while the NEB got new responsibilities to assess environmental impacts, it also lost the authority to refuse what's known as a certificate of public convenience for pipelines. Under the changes, all final decisions on whether to refuse or grant a certificate - that is, an authorization to construct and operate a pipeline - are made by cabinet.


Under the amended version of SARA, the NEB is no longer required to impose conditions to protect critical habitats when it issues pipeline approvals. In the past, an independent body of scientists recommended to government whether a species should be listed. When necessary, a critical habitat was defined, and a species-recovery strategy was drawn up.

What's more, before the amendments, project permits could not exceed three years. Under the updated regulations, a permit can be issued for any length of time.

Watchdogs decry gutted oversight and 'total madness'

With his white beard and folksy manner, Otto Langer seems like a friendly Edmund Gwenn in Miracle on 34th Street. But before retiring in 2001, the former head of habitat assessment in B.C. and the Yukon for the DFO was known for relentlessly pursuing polluters on behalf of the government.

Standing on the banks of the Fraser River, at a site slated to become a jet-fuel facility with an unloading dock, a pipeline and an 80-million-litre tank farm, Mr. Langer outlines the project's impact. "[It] will allow barges and Panamax tankers of highly toxic and flammable jet fuel to enter the Fraser River for the first time in history," says Mr. Langer, as flocks of birds huddle on the water upstream from the Alaksen National Wildlife Area, where marshes are used by 1.4 million birds for wintering or migration.

"I'm just amazed they could allow anything like this," he says of the facility, which was proposed by the Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation and granted environmental approval by the province after Ottawa let B.C. handle the file. Mr. Langer now heads a citizens' group that launched a failed court bid to quash the provincial certificate.

"It involves federal fisheries, federal migratory birds ... a federal harbour, a federal airport - but where was the federal government? They just disappeared and let the province look after it."

Mr. Langer rejects the suggestion that a jet-fuel spill would evaporate quickly and thus not pose a serious environmental threat. "Years later it could be seeping out of the mud flats," he says. "I was shocked when I went to Lemon Creek [in the B.C. Interior, where a truck spilled jet fuel in 2013]. I was there 68 days after the spill ... and 100 feet away from the stream, I could smell the jet fuel. It destroyed everything in that stream, from blue herons to otters to all the fish."

Jeffrey Jones, who handled environmental prosecutions for the Department of Justice for 25 years, says that the weakening of oversight by Ottawa has occurred simultaneously on two fronts: Not only are the laws less forceful, but there has been a retreat from enforcement in general, he says, in part because of cuts to field staff.

In the Lemon Creek accident, a truck carrying aviation fuel for helicopters fighting forest fires took a wrong turn (the company blamed the province for failure to provide adequate signage) and tumbled into the creek. Mr. Jones, now in private practice in the small B.C. coastal community of Sointula, said he has handled over 2,000 environmental prosecutions for the Crown - and in his view, Lemon Creek would have been a "slam-dunk prosecution" under the old Fisheries Act.

The changes, he says, upended a long tradition of oversight: "We got 20, 30 years of good, solid enforcement regimes that regulated [corporate extraction] and every now and then they charged.

And it worked really, really well.

You throw that out and it is really worrisome. What have you got?

You've got Lemon Creek."

David Schindler, a professor of ecology at the University of Alberta, says the changes have clearly created "an uninhibited pathway" for industrial development. "All that they have done seems to have set the stage for expediting the approval of more oil-sands projects and pipelines. It's just total madness."

In 2011, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and other energy-industry groups wrote to the federal government, asking for a modernization of environmental laws that stood to affect "$120-billion of shovelready investments." That's what they got, says Calvin Sandborn, legal director of the University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre - and in some cases, "the wording for this new, narrowed legislation was taken directly from oil- and gas-industry requests."

Among the most egregious changes, he says, were restrictions that made it difficult to participate in environmental reviews or to cross-examine witnesses at NEB hearings. In the ongoing NEB hearings into the proposed Kinder Morgan Pipeline Expansion Project (from Alberta to B.C.'s Lower Mainland) new federal restrictions resulted in more than 1,200 individuals or groups being denied a chance to speak at public hearings. The reason: They weren't directly affected by the proposed pipelines.

Industry insists: It didn't dictate the changes

Alex Ferguson, vice-president of policy for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), rejects the idea that the legislation was drafted by and for industry. "I know there are lots of rumours flying around, that industry demanded this," he says.

"[Looking at the policy that resulted] I thought, boy, it wasn't a very smart thing to demand."

Mr. Ferguson says the changes came abruptly and caused a lot of confusion both in industry and government. "I felt bad for the poor bureaucrats. They were trying to sort out 'What does this mean? How do we make this work?'" he says.

Although Mr. Ferguson says industry didn't dictate the changes, everyone has been learning to work with them, and he hopes the new government won't rush to make revisions without first making a careful assessment. His suggestion: "First find if there has there been anything negative that's happened as a result of those change ... Our view would be 'Have a look at it. What's wrong?

What's missing? What can be enhanced?' And then move from there, as opposed to turning the clock back."

Pierre Gratton, president and CEO of the Mining Association of Canada, also rejects the idea that legislative changes were made to please his industry.

"That's actually nonsense," he says. "These reforms, we've come to the conclusion, had ... probably a lot more to do with pipelines than mining." On the ground, he says, there has been "no reduction in federal oversight of mining projects."

But he understands at least some of the concerns that have ensued. "I think ... a legitimate question to ask is 'Was too much taken out?' It's one thing to argue you don't need an [environmental assessment] for a park bench, but there are other activities, you know, a run-ofriver hydro project ... [or] pipelines. So I think you could make a legitimate argument that there's too much that's not captured and [that] the Fisheries Act oversight has been diminished."

A Liberal promise to 'undo the damage'

In the environmental platform the Liberals released during the federal election campaign, there's a photo of Justin Trudeau as a child, in the bow of a canoe, with his father in the stern, steering.

Hardly old enough to see over the gunwales, the boy has a solid grip on the paddle and is bracing for the tumble of white water ahead.

"I was barely walking before my father put a paddle in my hands, and started teaching my brothers and me how to read a river," he wrote in the introduction to the platform, promising to "undo the damage done by Harper" and restore public trust in the government's ability to protect the environment. His government has already started assembling teams to examine the regulatory changes made in 2012.

In its platform, the party promised to "replace Mr. Harper's changes to the environmental-assessment process," to ensure decisions are based on science; to "modernize" the NEB; to review endangered-species protection; and to open up public participation in assessment processes.

In a letter last month to the B.C. Wildlife Federation, Liberal Party of Canada President Anna Gainey reinforced that message. Said a party statement attached to that letter: "A Liberal government will launch an immediate, public review of Canada's environmental assessment processes. Based on this review, a Liberal government will replace Mr. Harper's changes to the environmental-assessment process. Morevoer, a Liberal government will conduct a wholesale review of changes to the Fisheries Act and elimination of the Navigable Waters Protection [Act] that will restore lost protections."

Other promises include implementing the recommendations of the 2012 Cohen Commission, which examined the collapse of sockeye-salmon stocks in the Fraser River; reversing a $40-million cut from the ocean-monitoring programs; and "end[ing] the practice of having federal ministers interfere in projects while they are being assessed." This month, the Liberals followed through on another promise, announcing a ban on crude-oil tankers on B.C.'s North Coast.

In mandate letters to Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna and Fisheries Minister Hunter Tootoo, Mr. Trudeau reiterated the promises made during the campaign.

His government is now in power and entering fast water. As the Prime Minister knows from his days of canoeing rapids, it is time now for decisions.

Mark Hume is a national correspondent for The Globe and Mail, based in Vancouver, where he writes a weekly column focusing on the environment, and is the author of three natural-history books about rivers.

Associated Graphic

Near Nahanni Butte, Northwest Territories

South shore of Lake Athabasca, Saskatchewan

Just off Baffin Island, Nunavut

West coast of Haida Gwaii


Woodland caribou, Slate Islands, Lake Superior

The research challenge
Justin Trudeau's newly minted minister tells Ivan Semeniuk that her government 'believes in science,' but reviving Canadian research will take much more than faith
Saturday, November 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page F2

OTTAWA -- The lab coats are coming. Six weeks after a dramatic election win, the Liberal government is setting out to transform the role science plays in Canadian public life.

In a campaign that hinged on style and tone, the Liberals branded themselves as the party of transparency and openness, promising a government in which data and science would light the way to sound policy.

The messaging could hardly be clearer. In contrast to the Stephen Harper government's commercially oriented take on the role of research, the members of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's cabinet are being told to bring "scientific considerations" into all aspects of their decision making.

"This is a government that believes in science," says Kirsty Duncan, a onetime researcher newly appointed as Minister of Science. If there is to be a genuine paradigm shift in how government and science interact, it will depend in large measure on how well she and colleague Navdeep Bains, the new Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, can hit the shift key and hold it down.

This week revealed the magnitude of their task. On Wednesday, a senior medical researcher at the University of Ottawa told the Ottawa Citizen he could no longer recommend that students pursue a career in science due to the negative impact of recent changes to federal funding.

Then on Friday came a longdelayed government report that shows the country's knowledge engine is sputtering badly. Its "disturbing" conclusions highlight years of inadequate investment in Canadian research and poor uptake of scientific talent and ideas beyond the lab bench.

The report also makes clear that it will take more than good intentions to put things right.

Relative to its global competitors, Canada will need to spend billions more on science merely to rank as average.

It is Mr. Bains's remit to grapple with this shortfall most directly by applying the nation's research muscle to boost growth.

But if he is managing the body of Canadian public science, Ms. Duncan has been given charge of its soul.

"His area is really innovation and driving the economy," she explains during her first sitdown interview as minister.

"Mine will be support for research and ensuring evidencebased decision-making."

It's a fitting role for the MP for Etobicoke North, a medical geographer who first came to public attention by leading an Arctic search for frozen traces of the 1918 Spanish-flu virus and later contributed to a United Nations panel on climate change and health.

Just six months ago this week Ms. Duncan rose from the opposition benches in the House of Commons in support of a motion that federal scientists be allowed to speak freely and scientific evidence be considered when the government makes decisions.

Today her job description is to make that happen.

Back then, the Liberals were the third party in the Commons and plunging in the polls. Opportunities to steer debate in the House were few and far between, and this was one of the few remaining chances to do so before the expected election call.

Many issues could have been raised, but the party was persuaded to focus on science.

Ms. Duncan had an in when it came to getting her party's leadership onside: Mr. Trudeau was her seatmate on the opposition bench. Over long sessions and late-night votes, she says, they talked policy - often science and technology policy.

Ted Hsu, a physicist and the Liberals' science critic at the time, says that "Kirsty did the heavy lifting" needed to have the party back a motion that included striking down the policies said to be muzzling scientists, making the results of federally funded science easier for the public to access and creating a chief science officer to act as a guardian over scientific integrity in policy-making.

When she seconded the motion made by Dr. Hsu (who did not seek re-election last month), Ms. Duncan spoke from personal experience, describing conversations with researchers she knew in government labs who felt they couldn't communicate their findings publicly.

"It was really difficult to watch former colleagues not being able to speak about their work," she says.

The motion's defeat, 145 to 119 (the NDP voted in favour) barely made the news, but much of the wording worked its way into the Liberal campaign platform released a few months later. Two weeks ago, it emerged again, this time handed back to Ms.

Duncan, at times almost verbatim, as a set of priorities in her mandate letter from the Prime Minister.

Scientists and other stakeholders across Canada's research community are happy to see one of their own in the minister's chair. But many wonder how she and her cabinet colleagues can accomplish what they have been asked to do - not just reverse the policies so unpopular under Mr. Harper but craft a new role for science that has never been present in Canada's government before and, even more important, boost the value of science to the economy.

The task is ambitious in scope and ambiguous in detail, and there is plenty of room for missteps. Ms. Duncan isn't ready to say what she will do but lists the guiding principles behind her mandate and that of the chief science offer, a new position she has been asked to create: "It's transparency in decision-making, ensuring that science is available to Canadians and ensuring evidence-based decision-making across government."

Policy under stress

Based on her mandate letter, Ms. Duncan's job also includes strengthening basic research, reviewing and reforming environmental assessment, increasing co-op placements for science and engineering students, establishing new research chairs in sustainable technologies and helping to examine the role of climate change on marine ecosystems.

It's a remarkably diverse and activist assignment for a ministerial role that in previous governments was more about carrying out policy than shaping it. And she is stepping into it just as parts of Canada's science policy are showing signs of serious breakdown.

That was made clear on Friday when the Science, Technology and Innovation Council released its latest report on the state of science in Canada. A creation of the Harper government, the council is tasked with providing scientific advice on request - although never publicly - to federal departments and to the prime minister directly. Its other principal function is producing the biennial report.

This year's edition was scheduled for release last spring but delayed until after the election, and it's easy to see why.

While Canada is respected for the science it produces, its ability to translate that science into business-led innovation and economic performance is clearly plummeting, to a degree the report's authors call "disturbing."

Since 2006, Canada's private sector has slipped from 18th in the world to 26th in how much it devotes to research and development. Total investment in business innovation has now fallen below 1 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). This comes at a time when business sectors of other industrialized nations, including the United States, China, Korea and Germany, are showing strong increases, and Canada is paying the price.

"Low investment in business innovation hurt Canada's global competitiveness, as demonstrated by lower productivity growth," the report notes.

Canada's total funding for research and development remains stagnant at around 1.6 per cent of GDP, with federal and provincial spending on university research helping to offset private-sector declines.

But even at universities, the council found, the level of spending "has not been sufficient to keep pace with other countries that are committing more resources faster." And while Canada doubled the number of doctoral degrees granted in science and engineering between 2006 and 2012, its labour market is doing a poor job of absorbing people with skills in scientific and technical fields.

These are not favourable signs for any government's science policy, particularly Mr. Harper's, which emphasized the role of business in research and viewed science primarily as the driver of commerce.

The minister charged with reversing the tide says he knows what he is up against. Mr. Bains calls the declining business-sector investment "a really big deal," and grappling with the situation lies at the core of the innovation mandate he has been given.

He also notes that Canadians are adept at starting companies based on innovative technologies, but the real challenge is growing them to the next level.

An equal challenge is whether Mr. Bains can do much to help in a domain where government has far less direct influence.

Shift or shutdown?

Back in May, Ms. Duncan's predecessor defended the Conservatives' record in Parliament. Ed Holder asked how all the talk of a war on science squared with the fact that the government had just announced it was spending $243-million to secure Canada's partnership in the Thirty Meter Telescope, an enormous new astronomical observatory slated for construction in Hawaii.

Mr. Holder, the third and most affable science minister (then called the minister of state for science and technology) to serve under Stephen Harper, could have cited more examples. During the fiscal crisis of 2008, science funding had largely been protected from harsh cuts by then-finance minister Jim Flaherty. Furthermore, the government introduced a tier of scholarship, fellowship and research chairs to woo international research talent. Then, in its final months, the government unveiled a $1.5-billion fund to finance large-scale universitybased research.

Policy analysts tend to agree that it's inaccurate to suggest the Harper government somehow shut down science. Rather, it shifted research priorities in a way that often reflected a smallgovernment, pro-business agenda. Under Mr. Harper, there was more emphasis on applied research with commercial outcomes, and the National Research Council was effectively repackaged as a contract service for industry.

At the same time, the amount of science generated by federal researchers shrank, particularly in areas related to climate and the environment, even as environmental regulations were loosening. (The most glaring example was the Experimental Lakes Area, a world-renowned freshwater research facility the government marked for closure in 2012.) When it came to university research, resources were concentrated on a cadre of toptier scientists in fields the government favoured, arguably at the expense of others.

Similar strategies have been pursued by different governments at different times seeking to optimize their research enterprise. Had Mr. Harper left it at that, many would have disagreed with his approach, but it's unlikely science would have been an election issue with any traction.

What differentiated his government was its apparent insistence on controlling, and even blocking, the exchange of factual information, which is central to how science works in modern society. As well as cancelling the mandatory long-form census (which the Conservatives called a privacy invasion rather than a resource), it shut down the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, an advisory body on sustainable development. And everywhere across the government, scientists used to pursuing their work openly, alongside university researchers and colleagues in governments around the world, were suddenly not allowed to speak without ministry approval and supervision.

The change cast a pall over the research community and shocked those who interacted with it. The effect extended beyond Canada's borders, touching international colleagues, partner institutions and anyone else who had cause to work with a Canadian federal scientist.

Jana Goldman, now retired, was communications director for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration when the Harper-era communications policies took effect. At a press conference she organized several years ago for NOAA's annual report card on the state of the Arctic, an Environment Canada scientist who was a key author of the report was initially not allowed to speak. Only at the last minute, when Ottawa called to approve, could the briefing proceed. The intervention was disconcerting, and "pretty odd," Ms. Goldman recalls. Having witnessed similar interference during the George W. Bush administration, she says, "I could understand it, but we looked to Canada to be a little more enlightened."

Reporters typically encountered stiff resistance and long delays when trying to reach federal researchers, even for the most benign inquiries. As more incidents of muzzling and political interference surfaced, complaints mounted. The controls often proved unworkable at a practical level, as routine requests to interview scientists were filtered up through higher authorities for approval, including in the Prime Minister's Office.

Whatever commitments the Harper government made to research, from the lofty Thirty Meter Telescope on down, were overwhelmed by allegations that federal science was subject to political interference.

The muzzle dilemma

Inevitably, the new government's science policies are, at least at this stage, shaped by a strong reaction to what came before.

For example, within days of being sworn in, Mr. Bains issued a statement that, going forward, "government scientists and experts will be able to speak freely about their work to the media and the public." That such a statement should be required speaks to how much has changed over the past decade, but it also skirts some obvious complications.

While science typically functions on a system of open communication, through peerreviewed publications and broader public contact, the government's scientists may well find their expert opinion differs from official policy.

This is just what the Conservatives were accused of trying to avoid, at the cost of an informed public. Research advocates favour an approach in which scientists are free to speak - but must make it clear their views are personal. In practice, this can still lead to grey areas that reporters may readily ferret out and which federal scientists, especially after a decade of not speaking much, may be illequipped to handle.

"Just saying you're not muzzled any more is nice, and scientists will speak out, but there's no protections for them," says Kennedy Stewart, the New Democratic Party's science critic, who frequently allied with the new minister on policy matters when she was in opposition.

Ms. Duncan agrees there needs to be a more detailed communications policy for government researchers, and says she plans to work with the scientific community to develop one.

Indeed, the issue is certain to arise anyway. Last spring, the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, the union whose membership includes some 15,000 scientists and engineers, introduced scientific-integrity language into its collective-bargaining negotiations. The language is designed to protect scientists from political interference, setting the stage for conflict over what exactly that means. The union says that Liberal promises are not going to turn back the clock.

"We put it on the table, we will keep it on the table," says Peter Bleyer, special adviser to the institute. "Governments come and go. We're hoping that something like this will help to provide a safeguard against another wasted decade in Canadian public science."

Talk versus action

Not that scientists and their supporters aren't celebrating the government's return to dialogue.

This week offered a striking example of that dialogue when provincial first ministers converged in Ottawa to meet Mr. Trudeau ahead of the climate talks that open Monday in Paris. The meeting kicked off with a science briefing and online question-and-answer session that involved Ms. Duncan and Greg Flato, a senior scientist with Environment Canada who contributed to the latest United Nations climate-change assessment - but who was almost impossible to reach when the report was released.

Louise Comeau, executive director of Climate Action Network Canada, an advocacy group, was also at the briefing and marvelled at the change.

She recalls how closely she worked with government officials and scientists leading up to the Montreal Climate Change Conference in 2005. When the Conservatives came to power the following year, those connections atrophied.

"I'm so keen to re-engage and re-establish our relationship and to have access to the latest science, and work together - that's the opportunity I think we have again," she says.

Science-policy watchers say the bigger challenge will be to make the transition from the symbolic gesture of openness to sustained action on climate and other environmental issues while groups that have long been shut out of formulating federal policy rush in to be heard again. In a 2012 editorial, the journal Nature suggested that the Harper government could not distinguish between environmentalism and environmental science.

Mr. Trudeau's team will have to be more deft at distinguishing between research and activism as it tries to forge policies it can sell to Canadians while staying honest about what the science says.

There remain hurdles, too, in modernizing the federal government's handling and archiving of scientific information, following the closing of ministry libraries by the previous government and centralization of computer services.

However, it now looks as though the long-form census will return next year. Munir Sheikh, who resigned as Statistics Canada's chief statistician over the issue in 2010, praises the move. But he adds that he is looking to see how quickly the Liberals proceed with another promise - making StatsCan fully independent.

Dr. Sheikh calls the agency's current arrangement with the government "bizarre" because, under the Statistics Act, technical decisions can be made by a minister. Instead, he suggests Statscan be run like the Canada Revenue Agency: accountable to government but immune to direct interference.

"Statscan is collecting data on issues that are important to all Canadians," he says. "Why should a politician fool around with it?" The delicate intersection where science and politics meet is most apparent in the first task on Ms. Duncan's list, and one that she fought for in opposition: creating a chief science officer.

The objective is to give science a place in policymaking, yet Ms. Duncan admits that no one is yet quite sure how the position will work.

Under Mr. Harper, the role of science adviser to the prime minister created by Paul Martin was abolished and replaced with closed-door consultations with the chair of the Science Technology and Innovation Council.

The loose description of the post that appears in the Liberals' campaign platform suggests the new science officer will advise but also oversee how science is handled by the government. Policy experts say that, in practice, putting two such roles into one job, or even one office, could be problematic.

Ms. Duncan says she is in the midst of reviewing various options and international examples with an eye on best practices.

"We're going to take our time to get this right," she says, declining even to estimate how long that will take.

Mr. Stewart, the NDP science critic, thinks the role should be quite different. This week he announced he plans to revive a motion he launched in 2013 to create a science position akin to that of the parliamentary budget officer - independent of the prime minister and governing party.

Although he supports the choice of Ms. Duncan as minister, Mr. Stewart, who has a doctorate in government and taught public policy at Simon Fraser University, has long advocated for a more developed science strategy. Once Parliament resumes, he says, he will be looking for more details on what she and Mr. Bains have planned.

"We're very far behind in investing in the knowledge economy and that's going to take money and private-sector incentives," he says. "I don't see anything like that on their agenda at this point."

Still in 'listening mode'

Right now Ms. Duncan says she's in "listening mode," getting up to speed on all the parts of her ministry, including the National Research Council and the councils that allocate money to university researchers.

She has also run up against some criticism in the media for her past support of research into a controversial approach to treating multiple sclerosis championed by Italian doctor Paolo Zamboni. Asked where she stands on the research today, Ms. Duncan stresses her commitment to the facts: "I asked for the science ... There's free and open debate in science. And Canada is undertaking clinical trials."

She then turns the conversation to her past work as a scientist, teacher and consultant to government. Past ministers have expressed enthusiasm for Canadian research, but she may be the first to identify personally with that world.

"Science was my life," she says. "This matters profoundly to me."

In a global economy fuelled by science and technology, it also matters profoundly to the future well-being of the nation.

Ivan Semeniuk is The Globe and Mail's science reporter.

Associated Graphic

Kirsty Duncan's mission: resurrect a sector a new report says is in a 'disturbing' state.


Friday, November 27, 2015 – Print Edition, Page P48


Every morning, while his wife is still asleep, he folds his 6-foot-2 frame into the tub for an hour-long soak. If he's travelling (there are stretches when he flies to Silicon Valley once a week), his hotel room must have an ensuite bath. He does nothing in there but think, and maybe read articles on his iPhone. The 28-year-old also likes to walk, which he does, often--with potential new hires, colleagues, journalists, investors, by himself. He has several winding, well-paced routes he takes through the leafy, '70s-era suburban Waterloo neighbourhood where Kik Inc.'s headquarters hide behind a strip-mall massage parlour and an accountant's office. With venture capitalist Fred Wilson--co-founder of Union Square Ventures and early backer of Kickstarter, Tumblr and Twitter--Livingston paced New York's High Line so they could get to know one another.

Chances are you've never heard of Kik. But the kids know all about it--240 million people, 40% of them between the ages of 13 and 19, use the free chat app every day. "Even in the U.S., not a lot of people have built that," says Anamitra Banerji, who sits on Kik's board and is a partner at Silicon Valley venture capital firm Foundation Capital, an early Kik investor.

In a recent Comscore survey, Kik ranked among the top 20 stickiest apps in the U.S., alongside Netflix, Snapchat, Google Maps, Pinterest and Gmail. Translation: Kids flock to Kik and spend a lot of time there. That has helped Kik raise $120.5 million since 2009, $88 million of it in the past two years--huge sums for the Canadian tech scene (all currency in U.S. dollars). All that cash has catapulted Kik into "unicorn" territory, the sobriquet for start-ups with a valuation north of $1 billion (a figure the intensely publicity-shy Livingston only reluctantly confirms).

Livingston's plans extend far beyond chat, however. "Microsoft built an operating system for all the desks in the world," he tells me as we walk together on a windy day in October. The always-on nature of mobile computing, he argues, offers a chance to rebuild our relationship with software.

And as he sees it, only Facebook and Kik are competing to do that in North America. "This is a race to build an operating system for the world, period."

LIKE FACEBOOK'S MARK ZUCKERBERG, Livingston prefers the hoodie and jeans to the suit and tie. "I think it comes down to that authenticity thing," he says as I wander along beside him. "You see somebody in a suit, a flashy office, a flashy car--they're trying to create an image. Don't get me wrong, it's cool to wear a suit. But it's a little bit manufactured."

His executive suite is also "authentic," dominated by a wall of cluttered bookshelves and a white particle-board desk where he sits with his back to the door. The only sign of status is that it's upstairs from the bullpen of workstations that fill the rest of the building, where Kik's 110 employees--80% of them focused on software and product development--tap away on their keyboards.

Livingston's reluctance to embrace the outward signs of his wealth extends, by his own account, back to high school. His father, Bob, is a lifelong Bay Streeter (he's now a vice-president with CIBC Wealth Management), and Livingston and two of his three brothers attended the private all-boys Crescent School, whose motto is: "Men of character from boys of promise." Depending on whom you ask, the 102-year-old school is as exclusive as, or perhaps more so than, its better-known rival for the city's elites, Upper Canada College.

"I was always sort-of-like ashamed of that. I still am," says Livingston of his private-school pedigree. (Every sentence he utters is loaded with sort ofs and likes; after a while, I stopped transcribing them.) "I saw all these kids with all this money, flaunting it, driving really nice cars," he continues. "Almost all my friends were from outside Crescent."

Still, he describes it as a school for "smart kids" and humble-brags that one year, he "accidentally" ended up with the highest overall grade average. Accidentally, he explains, because he says he wasn't exactly a grinding student. "I would never study. I was the guy like, 'Okay, there's an exam in one hour--go.'" But still, the As came. For his brothers, too--the eldest, Michael, is a doctor; his younger brother, Blair, runs a financial-tech start-up in Toronto.

It's his youngest brother, Jack, who had the most profound impact on Livingston. Jack was born with a severe form of cerebral palsy. "He never walked--never even crawled. Never talked," Livingston says in a clear and level voice, like he's explained this all before, many times. "He had a personality, and we had, like, a relationship, but not like a real relationship. We never had a conversation, for example." Jack died two years ago, at the age of 19. "This was a kid who was totally dependent for his whole life," says Livingston. "And I think it really impressed on me and my other brothers just how lucky we got."

With he and his wife, Christine Thayer, a product manager at Kik, starting to talk about having kids of their own, Livingston's been thinking a lot about the message of his brother's life. His maternal grandmother likes to remind the boys: "To whom much is given, much is expected." Assuming that's true, Livingston says, "A, you better do something with it, and B, you better remember that luck had a big part to do with it. If you're dealt a good hand, you owe society for that, almost."

Livingston headed to the University of Waterloo in 2005 to study mechatronics--a blend of electrical, mechanical and computer engineering--and spent three co-op placements at BlackBerry. At the same time, he set out to build a music app that would let users share songs with friends via BlackBerry's BBM chat app. At the start of the 2009 school year, he quit Waterloo to work on the app--then called Unsynced--full-time. Within a couple of months, he'd changed the name to Kik and added an instant messaging function. But as third-party chat apps like WhatsApp started to gain popularity, Livingston realized he'd need access to a cross-platform chat system. When BlackBerry opted to keep BBM proprietary, Kik started a competing app that would work on BlackBerry, iOS and Android. Kik Messenger went cross-platform in April, 2010, with roughly 50,000 users.

After a redesign in October of that year, Kik amassed a million users in 15 days. Then Whoopi Goldberg talked about Kik on The View--"it was her new favourite thing or whatever," says Livingston--and users hit two million in a week.

Then came the lawsuit. Livingston's old employer, BlackBerry, claimed his start-up infringed on its mobile text patents and accused it of co-opting BBM's trademarked logo.

"The suit made it pretty personal," says Livingston. "Like, 'We just want to let you know Ted worked at BlackBerry, he signed his employment agreements, he signed his non-disclosure agreement, and he worked with the consumer product management team where BBM was.' " The implication, Livingston says, was that he stole the idea for Kik from BlackBerry, which was then at the peak of its power.

After reading the allegations, Livingston's father called "to do the dad thing," telling Ted: "I know somebody, maybe they can help--but before I go talk to them, there's nothing I should know, right?" Livingston was incredulous; if his own father had to ask, he could imagine what the rest of the Waterloo start-up scene must've been thinking. "I was like, 'Daaad!' " Here, Livingston's voice shakes with shocked laughter, even years later. "Yeah, that's how effective BlackBerry was."

The lawsuit (which was settled in 2013, the terms undisclosed) didn't stop investors from pouring money into Kik. A couple weeks after BlackBerry sued, Kik closed a $5-million round from Silicon Valley investor RRE--cash that would keep it going through the litigation. By early 2011, it had raised an additional few million, but with a catch: The new infusion would dilute the stakes of either RRE or Kik's employees. To keep everyone happy, Livingston sold some of his shares to RRE instead (though he kept voting control of them), pocketing $1 million in cash at a time when nobody else in the company was anywhere near as liquid. The whole thing made Livingston intensely anxious, so he donated every penny of the sale's proceeds to his would-be alma mater's VeloCity entrepreneurship program, which had helped him launch Kik in the first place.

When he shared his plan with Union Square's Wilson, who was leading the new round of financing, Wilson was horrified. "You don't have to do that," he choked.

Livingston breaks out into his big, jovial laugh just thinking about it. "I love crazy win-win-wins."

FRIEND-TO-FRIEND CHATS ARE JUST ONE PART OF KIK. The company has 80 partners--among them, Amazon, The Washington Post, MTV, Comedy Central and Buzzfeed--that use its unique "bots" function. These bots (pieces of software) are programmed to chat and behave like real people, and respond to certain commands. There's a movie bot that tells you about upcoming releases and posts trailers in your feed. Strike up a chat with Amazon and the bot will lead you through a simple this-or-that game that includes links to Amazon products.

Snaps, a New York-based mobile marketing company, has run a dozen campaigns on Kik--for brands like McDonald's and Dove Soap--and plans to run two to three times that many in 2016. In a campaign for Burger King's chicken fries, Snaps spread a set of chicken-fry emojis via Kik, which tracked how often users shared them in their private chats. A follow-up survey showed that Burger King's target audience was 55% more favourable toward chicken fries after seeing the emojis and 39% more likely to order them. "We're able to create peer-to-peer interactions--that's the best branding you can get," says Snaps CEO Christian Brucculeri. In other words, getting users to tell their friends about chicken fries is more effective than blasting banner ads all over the place. "Brands are fighting for attention," says Brucculeri, "and Kik gives them a good place to do that."

Kik says half a billion messages have been exchanged between 16 million users and bots; 46% of those users were aged 13 to 19. It's a key demographic, albeit one that doesn't yet have a ton of spending power. It's a long-term play: The more time these kids spend getting to know these brands on Kik, the more likely they are to turn to them when they do have cash.

"We can convert that time into spending power," says Livingston. "That's sort of critical to having this whole ecosystem work. Then we could go to Tim Hortons and say, 'Four out of 10 teenagers who walk in your door already have Kik installed--we should build a really cool interaction together.'"

Eventually, he says, chat could reshape online behaviour and commerce, with all sorts of services--buying food and clothes, banking--built on top of a chat platform. "It could power all the interactions in your life," he says.

The closest analog for what Kik has planned is WeChat, a Chinese app that is far more than just a chat platform. Instead of accessing the Internet via browsers or apps like Facebook (which is blocked in China along with most other Western chat apps), WeChat has become the primary online interface for its 600 million active monthly users. Think of it as an all-in-one app, a combination of Facebook, LinkedIn, mobile banking, e-commerce and so on. In 2014, the Japanese investment bank Nomura pegged WeChat's average revenue per user at $7. That's $4.2 billion worth of spending on coffee, cabs, movie tickets, clothes--all without ever leaving the WeChat app. Analysts have suggested WeChat makes up half of parent company Tencent Holdings Inc.'s $180-billion market cap.

For WeChat, China represents a green-field opportunity, with millions of people coming online for the first time through their mobile phones, leapfrogging desktops altogether. It's a chance, says Livingston, to define what being online looks like: "They're saying, 'Hey, you've never bought something online before? Do it this way. You don't have a bank account yet? Do it this way.'"

Here in the West, he says, "you can't really do it with adults, because they already shop on Amazon, they already bank at CIBC, they already get clothing at American Eagle or whatever." The only group that represents the same mostly blank slate is young teenagers. And the 40% of American teens already using Kik represent access to tens of billions of dollars in potential spending. In August, 2015, Tencent became Kik's most recent investor, leading a $50-million round that will help expand Kik's service empire. Banerji says the partnership with Tencent has barely scratched the surface. One day, he hopes Kik will have access to WeChat's users (including its sizable chunk of business accounts), and vice-versa.

LIVINGSTON AND HIS TEAM DIDN'T fully understand where Kik was headed until a year ago. "It felt like we were running through the fog, discovering something new every month, but not really knowing where we were going next," he says. "Then we came out of the fog and it was, like, this is going to be big. We looked around and were, like, Who's going to come out of the fog behind us? And we realized it was going to be Facebook."

Facebook's Messenger launched as a standalone app in April, 2015. Since then, it has amassed more than 700 million users. The company also owns WhatsApp, which has 800 million users, with big concentrations in South Africa, India and Mexico.

Analysts have praised Facebook for moving fast to incorporate peer-to-peer payment technology to Messenger; it even poached PayPal CEO David Marcus to lead the charge. Marcus told Wired U.K. that building services onto Messenger is "one of the biggest opportunities in tech in the next 10 years." It has been slow to introduce ads, however, which are Facebook's major source of revenue on mobile--78% of $4.3 billion in advertising revenue. By some estimates, Messenger accounts for 10% of the company's $307 billion market value, even before a single ad has run on the service.

But here's the problem with making money off chat: It might be the killer app of mobile, but it's a commodity. You send a message to your bestie and she sends you one back. The No. 1 reason Kik's users are on the platform, and it's pretty much the same for all the half-dozen global chat players, is because their friends are there. Introduce too many distractions to that core function and you risk losing them.

It's a lot like selling Coca-Cola. Marketers have spent decades building a culture around what is essentially just brown sugar-water. That kind of brand loyalty can last a long time--if you get your customers young. For many American teens, a Kik username is their first "phone number," logged into the family tablet or hand-me-down phone. As they move up the chain into more modern hardware, they bring Kik with them. The value in that loyalty is that, while smartphones have become the dominant form of computing, apps are losing ground.

"Over half of U.S. adults download zero new apps per month," says Livingston. That trend stretches as far back as 2014, according to comScore. "App usage is going down, messaging is coming up. There has to be a new platform," says Livingston. "That was always our thought, and WeChat just became a convenient way to explain the potential."

Of course, there's no guarantee Kik will be anything more than a fad. "We're an industry where consumers might be bored of something today and love something tomorrow," says Banerji.

Livingston knows that, of course. It doesn't stop him from suggesting Kik could one day be worth $100 billion. To put that in perspective, he is talking about reaching for the highest market capitalization in the country, on par with TD or Royal Bank. That kind of consumer-technology company has never existed in Canada. Even at its peak, BlackBerry was worth just over $83 billion.

That bravado is what Silicon Valley heavyweights love about Kik and its founder. "Not a lot of people understand Ted," says Banerji. "He's had a hero's journey, and I think if he were in the Valley, he'd be celebrated. But he's not, because he's up there in Waterloo."

Associated Graphic


Photographer Christopher Wahl has shot the Pope, President Obama, Queen Elizabeth and dozens of celebrities. Trying to get media-shy Livingston to relax in front of the camera turned out to be one of his toughest assignments ever

Monday, November 30, 2015

Steve Williams | CEO OF THE YEAR 2015
When oil tanked, Suncor didn't. And it's taking advantage of the downturn to make bold plays in the patch (much to COS's chagrin)
Friday, November 27, 2015 – Print Edition, Page P32

Even the biggest oil-sands bulls don't think the party north of Fort McMurray will last much beyond 100 years. It's already showing signs of fatigue: Thousands of jobs have been hacked and billions of dollars' worth of new projects scrapped, shaving more than a million barrels a day from the long-term production outlook. But Steve Williams plans in centuries. And the CEO of Suncor Energy sees no reason the music should stop so soon.

"We plan to be there as long as that reserve is being developed," he says, perched in a boardroom on the 46th floor of Suncor's Calgary headquarters. That "could be 200, 300 years from now," he proclaims. "Everything we do there is long-term."

Just as some of the world's largest energy companies flee for the exits, Williams is doubling down in the oil sands. He sees the collapse of oil prices (to around $50 U.S. from more than $100 a barrel a year and a half ago) not as a long-term risk that has permanently squelched growth prospects, but as a chance to pick off weaker rivals.

"We're not really a shark," he insists--but he does smell blood.

Last month, Suncor sank its jaws deep into its close rival and next-door neighbour in the muskeg of Northern Alberta, launching an unsolicited takeover bid for Canadian Oil Sands (COS). The play (code-named Mustang) came weeks after Williams beefed up Suncor's stake in the $15-billion Fort Hills mine, despite lingering questions about the project's economics.

The moves add up to a brazen bet on the future of the oil sands--an industry Suncor helped build, but one that now faces a reckoning as profits shrivel and global efforts mount to slow growth in climate-warming greenhouse gases. The latest setback: In early November, Barack Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, dealing a blow to the industry's long-held ambition to reach more lucrative export markets.

Williams is unfazed. In roughly a decade at Suncor, he has helped transform a big-spending behemoth into a frugal giant with a quasi-religious zeal for controlling costs. Nonetheless, Suncor hasn't exactly skated through the oil crash. Layoffs since January, 2015, top 1,300, and about $1.4 billion has been chopped from this year's budget. Meanwhile, net earnings in the first nine months of the year plunged to $12 million, from as much as $2.6 billion over the same stretch in 2014. (On an operating basis, the drop was less extreme, but still significant: Earnings tumbled 65%, to about $1.5 billion.)

Still, the company is churning out cash, buoyed by strong results from its refining division. By early November, Suncor's shares had notched a modest gain on the year compared to a roughly 30% slide in the broader listing of energy companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Cash flow skidded just 17% in the third quarter from a year earlier, versus a 50% drop in the price of global benchmark Brent oil. In the oil sands, Suncor's cash operating costs per barrel have fallen to $27--the lowest since 2007. As of Sept. 30, the company had amassed a $5.4-billion war chest.

No other oil-patch executive has displayed the same mix of swagger and vision as Williams in what is clearly the industry's darkest hour. That makes him the standout candidate for CEO of the Year--a nod that will no doubt have many of his rivals grumbling.

Indeed, his call for a broad-based tax on carbon emissions has put him at odds with oilmen across Alberta, as many bemoan the fact they're being pushed to slash emissions when they can least afford to invest in new, cleaner technologies. "Climate change is happening," Williams told industry leaders last spring. "Doing nothing is not an option."

Similarly, his $4.3-billion all-paper bid for COS has shaken Calgary's clubby corporate scene. And Williams is by no means done scouting for deals--though he's clearly uncomfortable being labelled a predator. In fact, he refuses to even call the deal "hostile." Ryan Kubik, COS's chief executive, is shopping for rival suitors and insists Suncor is trying to fleece shareholders. Williams, meanwhile, is growing impatient.

"I've been talking to their CEO and their chairman since March," he says. "How long a conversation can you have?"

Suncor's CEO possesses, by all accounts, a hyper-inquisitive mind. The son of a plumber in Bristol, a port city in southwest England, he describes his upbringing as "very humble." Yet, the family home was filled with lively debate, which he credits for moulding three overachieving kids. His brother is now a coroner in Somerset; his sister worked in the U.K. education inspectorate. Growing up, Williams played rugby--first as a hulking prop ("I grew funny," he says, "so early on, I was big") and later as a light-footed fullback. The 59-year-old still jogs regularly, and finds time between his role at Suncor and multiple charitable organizations to ski and play golf. He likes to cook (from Indian to French) and enjoys preparing meals with guests at dinner parties.

Jim Simpson, Suncor's board chairman, is often baffled by his colleague's pace and intellectual rigour. "I have, from time to time, wondered how he does what he does," Simpson says. "Just mentally, he does a lot of preparation. You can ask him anything, any time, and he knows the answers. Detailed questions, strategic questions--it really doesn't matter. He's thought his way through pretty much everything that is relevant to our business."

Williams admits to being "intellectually impatient." He can be wordy. Early in his tenure at Suncor, he was nudged by advisers to be more succinct on quarterly analyst updates. Williams viewed it as "so very American to go out there and lay it down," a person familiar with one episode of verbosity says. "He pleaded that it wasn't in his character and was never going to be."

Williams graduated from Exeter University in 1977 with a degree in chemical engineering and joined a unit of what would become Exxon Mobil. By the time he left 18 years later, he was operations manager at the Texas-based giant's sprawling Fawley refinery in the U.K., fusing technical know-how with a knack for managing people inside large organizations.

To this day, Williams comes off as a man fully steeped in Exxon's famously staid corporate culture. But he is also described by colleagues alternately as a "brilliant," "gutsy," "methodical" and "rational" oil executive--albeit one with an "enlightened" streak.

But the portrait is incomplete. It is common for Exxon employees on the management track to spend their entire careers there. Williams, who sits for our interview in an open-collared shirt sans tie, felt hemmed in by the rigid structure.

After Exxon, he helped spin off chemical maker Octel Corp. from its parent company. That experience put him in touch with debt and equity markets in the U.S., giving the operations-focused engineer added familiarity with finance. About that time, a headhunter showed up with an intriguing opportunity. Did he want to manage money for a little-known oil company called Suncor? Williams balked: "I didn't know if I wanted to count beans."

Williams also had doubts about dragging his wife, Mary, and their two kids--Jack, then aged 9, and Emma, then 10--from the north of England to a scrappy oil city nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. He'd been offered a job that would have taken the family to south London, and besides, he was keen to get his hands dirty. Initially, he told then-CEO Rick George he had the wrong guy.

But George was persistent. He was searching for a chief financial officer with experience at a super-major, befitting George's ambition to pump a million barrels per day from the oil sands by decade's end.

A months-long courtship ensued. George, originally from Colorado, was aggressively fixated on top-line production growth, at the expense (so say detractors) of profits. At the time, Suncor was a minnow. It was early 2002, and the company's brand-new Millennium mine was struggling to reach full capacity, wracked by power outages and frigid Alberta weather. Output targets had been chopped and profits were anemic. George (who declined an interview request) needed help smoothing out performance and driving down costs at Suncor's refining and upgrading operations--vast tangles of pipes and vessels that convert molasses-like bitumen into lighter oil suitable for refining into gasoline. The pitch to Williams was straightforward: Come to Calgary and test our strategy, then go run the oil sands business. "The big challenge for Suncor was to run what it had," Williams recalls. "We were underperforming with our assets. I knew how to do that stuff."

So it was that Williams, together with his family, opted for an "adventure" in Western Canada. He committed to three years in Calgary. He moved on after just one, decamping to Fort McMurray, a scraggly outpost 500 kilometres north of Edmonton that has only recently started to shed its boom-town exterior. For the U.K. transplant--he became a Canadian citizen in 2002--the experience was jarring. "You are on the edge," he says. "You're isolated." But the Williams family adjusted to what he says is a very close-knit community. "It's quite old-fashioned in a sense, because you know everyone."

It's been nearly four years since Williams took the company's helm. He calls his predecessor a "great leader" and credits him with turning a small, unprofitable oil sands developer into an energy giant with a market capitalization that today is approaching $60 billion. But there are stark differences between the two men. "He had that desire and ambition to grow," Williams says. "And don't infer from this that I don't have that. I just think there's a different way of doing it when you get the hand I was dealt."

The difference reflects, in part, seismic shifts that have upended global energy markets. Among the biggest is the flood of shale crude uncorked in the United States, which has played a role in driving down prices. Whereas George chased big production targets, Williams has long said he isn't much interested in growth for its own sake. Instead, he views the company's core as a delicate balance between managing project costs, quality and schedule. Early on, he pulled the plug on Suncor's $11.6-billion Voyageur upgrading plant, which was midway through construction--a sharp break from the company's history of lavish spending that analysts say presaged structural changes in crude markets.

Williams says he believes firmly in leading by example. In 2014, several Suncor workers died, including one from a bear attack. In response, Williams docked the bonuses of senior leaders by more than 10% (Suncor also created a safety task force and mandated wildlife training for field workers).

On the operations side, Williams sees parallels between Suncor's early woes and the faltering Syncrude operation. When he took over as CEO, there were doubts on Bay Street about his ability to deliver smoother performance while at the same time keeping a lid on costs. Today, George's million-barrel vision has been eclipsed by an efficiency drive and a modest goal to squeeze 100,000 barrels a day of new output from existing assets. By November, reliability at the company's upgrading plants was above 90%, and Williams was openly musing about driving oil sands cash costs under $20 (U.S.) a barrel. "I think the Street presumption was that they would spend every dollar that came their way," says Bank of Montreal oil analyst Randy Ollenberger. "He got a lot of pushback on that. His response was, essentially, 'Watch me.'"

The takeover of Canadian Oil Sands may be Williams's biggest challenge yet. If all goes according to plan, Suncor's ownership stake in the Syncrude operation would jump to 49%, from the current 12%. (COS is the largest partner in the joint venture.)

Few expect Williams to stop there. Still, some analysts question the wisdom of piling on exposure to oil sands assets as competitors beat a hasty retreat. Even fans doubt Williams can fully deliver on a pledge to boost reliability at Syncrude. The operation led by Exxon has struggled for years under a complex management agreement, repeatedly missing production targets because of breakdowns and outages.

"We've heard that for over three years now from various parties involved within Syncrude," says Lanny Pendill, an analyst at Edward Jones in St. Louis. "So far, nobody's been able to do it."

Since announcing the bid in early October, Williams has gone on a marketing blitz, pitching the deal to COS shareholders as a lifeline. (COS posted a loss of $174 million in the three months ended Sept. 30 and has chopped its dividend 86% since the downturn began.) Over 10 days in October, Williams's itinerary included stops in Toronto, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Victoria. In Calgary, however, the target company branded the deal naked opportunism. It rejected the offer and instituted a shareholder-rights plan that requires a bid to be open for 120 days. (Suncor has challenged the move before securities regulators.) Billionaire investor Seymour Schulich, who owns about 5% of COS, likened Williams to a bandit and vowed to fight the takeover in court.

The way Williams sees it, however, is that long-suffering COS shareholders face a "stark" choice. The company is saddled with $2.3 billion in debt and faces a "precarious" future, he told analysts in October. A friendly approach was spurned last spring. A rejection this time could trigger a collapse in the share price, he says. (By early November, the stock had shed about 40% of its value in a year.)

Williams insists he can leverage Suncor's size and proximity (the facilities are literally across the street) to drive cost savings at the aging plant. Elsewhere, however, he has been dogged by questions about Fort Hills, a mega-mine the company is cleaving from Alberta's boreal forests north of Fort McMurray. Suncor inherited the project when it merged with Petro-Canada, and the first drops of oil won't flow until 2017, leaving some room for commodity markets to recover. "It's been punted around for as long as I can remember," says one analyst. "And now we're in an extremely challenged environment on oil prices, which is going to make it really difficult to run that project profitably." Williams ardently defends the venture, urging doubters to look beyond the enormous price tag and today's commodity trough to the "wall of cash" the project will generate once it starts up.

But how does the sprawling open-pit mine at Fort Hills, designed to pump ultra-viscous crude for more than half a century, square with Williams's more recent support for taxing carbon dioxide emissions? Suncor chairman Simpson says Williams's stance on carbon wasn't formally vetted at the board level, though it was understood and accepted. "He basically took that position in the company and said, Listen, we're changing gears," Simpson says.

Williams flatly rejects the view that oil sands reserves will be stranded under more stringent climate regulations--"I just think technology solves that"--and says he's working on an initiative he believes will break the deadlock on major oil sands pipelines, although he won't provide specifics.

He is similarly guarded about upcoming climate talks in Paris, but hopes a framework emerges that goes some way toward removing the target from the oil sands. The Alberta deposits have been unjustifiably branded as climate enemy No. 1, he says, to the detriment of pragmatic solutions aimed at addressing societal consumption habits. Indeed, far from penalizing the industry, he says, an economy-wide carbon tax that funnels cash to promising technologies might just tilt the scales in favour of his company's long-term business plans--even if he isn't around to fulfill them.

"Lots of people look at it in the short term," he says. That's a problem. "It's like boiling the frog--you don't even realize you're dead."

Associated Graphic


Monday, November 30, 2015

Prime target: How serial killers prey on indigenous women
The numbers are staggering: A Globe and Mail analysis finds that aboriginal females are seven times more likely than non-aboriginal women to die at the hands of serial predators, Kathryn Blaze Baum and Matthew McClearn report
Monday, November 23, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A1

Indigenous women in Canada are roughly seven times more likely than non-indigenous women to die at the hands of serial killers, according to a Globe and Mail analysis that found at least 18 aboriginal females were victims of convicted serial killers since 1980.

The majority of those women were slain in or near cities, and most were killed by non-indigenous men. The cases were prosecuted in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, with the cities of Vancouver, Prince George, Saskatoon and Winnipeg most commonly listed as the woman's last place of residence. Eight serial killers, who were convicted in a total of 25 homicides, were responsible for the women's deaths.

Aboriginal women are being killed and disappearing across the country at an alarming rate. The RCMP have said 70 per cent of the indigenous women slain in Canada meet their fate at the hands of an indigenous person. In a report earlier this year, the federal force stated that indigenous women knew the offender in all solved homicides over the previous two years. It also emphasized the "strong nexus to family violence."

But that is not the whole story.

About one-fifth of Canada's known female serialhomicide victims since 1980 were indigenous, according to a Globe analysis of convictions in an American researcher's international database; just 4 per cent of the overall Canadian female population is indigenous. The newspaper is also compiling and vetting its own database of homicide and longterm missing-person cases that involve indigenous women, building on data collected by the Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC) and Ottawa-based researcher Maryanne Pearce. Through this ongoing work, The Globe has determined that at least 18 indigenous women were slain by convicted serial killers since 1980.

If the scope is broadened to include cases with a probable suspect (those tied to Robert Pickton through stayed charges or DNA found on his farm, for example), then the number rises to about 35.

And if the scope is further expanded to include speculative cases, for which court proceedings are pending or police have said a serial killer may be at work (along stretches of certain B.C. highways and in the Edmonton area, for instance), the number rises dramatically, to about 77.

Dawn Lavell-Harvard, the president of NWAC, said that while family violence is part of the problem, vulnerable indigenous women are being "targeted" in urban centres by killers confident they will get away with it.

"We need to expose the truth, so we can be effective in dealing with reality," she said. "We can't be basing our responses on urban myths or stereotypes." She said she would like to see the federal government create national legislation that mandates certain basic police standards relating to missing-person investigations.

In August, Canada's latest known serial killer, a non-indigenous man named Traigo Andretti, was convicted of murder for the second time. Both of his victims - Myrna Letandre in Manitoba and Jennifer McPherson in B.C. - were indigenous. He found Ms. Letandre through her sister, Lorna Sinclair, whom he met in an unusual way. Ms. Sinclair had signed up for a free voicemail service that allows people who do not have a phone, and are seeking work, to receive messages from prospective employers. Mr. Andretti exploited the service by dialling random extensions and, if a woman "sounded cute," he would leave a message, according to police transcripts obtained by The Globe. Ms. Sinclair introduced him to Ms. Letandre, who disappeared weeks later. She was considered missing for nearly seven years, until Mr. Andretti struck again and confessed to both murders.

Indigenous leaders have long called for a national inquiry into violence against aboriginal women and girls, citing the need to examine historic and modern issues such as colonization, residential schools, the child-welfare system, poverty, drug abuse, street sex work, inadequate housing and racism. Proponents also want to shine a light on the way police handle unsolved homicide and missing-person cases involving indigenous women. The former Conservative government dismissed calls for a national inquiry, with one then-cabinet minister attributing the violence to a lack of respect among indigenous men for indigenous women on reserves. The new Liberal government, meanwhile, has committed to launching an inquiry by the summer.

An unprecedented 2014 RCMP report found 1,181 aboriginal females were killed or went missing across the country between 1980 and 2012. In an update last year, the Mounties said there were 32 additional homicides of indigenous women in 2013 and 2014 in RCMP jurisdictions. RCMP spokesman Sergeant Harold Pfleiderer said in an e-mail that the force did not conduct an analysis of serial homicide data for the reports, neither of which mention serial killing.

Victims' stories

The serial killings of Ms. Letandre, Ms. McPherson and the 16 other indigenous women provide a window into the broader tragedy of violence against indigenous women in Canada. On Tuesday, The Globe is launching The Taken, a multimedia project that traces the lives of five of the women - Ms. Letandre, Cynthia Maas, Sereena Abotsway, Shelley Napope and Carolyn Sinclair - and explores the factors contributing to their vulnerability.

These include difficulty transitioning to life in the city, the child-welfare system and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Their stories also examine the families' interactions with police and the justice system.

The RCMP do not have their own definition of serial homicide, but rather use a definition of "serial murder" crafted by experts convened by the FBI in 2005: "The unlawful killing of two or more victims by the same offender(s), in separate events." The Globe used the FBI's definition to define serial homicide, and included manslaughter because it is a form of unlawful killing.

Sgt. Pfleiderer said the RCMP were focusing their "prevention and intervention efforts on family violence and youth empowerment in order to reduce and eliminate violence against indigenous women." He added that federal funding has been dedicated to programs aimed at addressing family violence in "vulnerable indigenous communities." Last year, the RCMP told The Globe they had homed in on 10 communities, six of which are in Saskatchewan, two in Manitoba, and one each in B.C. and the Northwest Territories.

In April, The Globe filed an access-to-information request for the RCMP's list of 10 communities. The force at first said it could not locate the list, which The Globe did not accept. The request was reopened and, in July, the Mounties responded that the "records located" qualified for an Access to Information Act exemption pertaining to law enforcement. The Globe has filed an appeal. Also in April, the newspaper requested the RCMP's list of indigenous female homicide victims, but the force required an extension and has yet to provide the names.

Given the lack of comprehensive Canadian data related to serial homicide, The Globe looked to the work of American researcher Mike Aamodt, who has compiled an international dataset of serial killings. An analysis of the Canadian convictions he has listed showed that indigenous women are roughly seven times more likely than non-indigenous women to be victims of serial homicide. "Aboriginal women are certainly overrepresented among the victims of Canadian serial killers," said Enzo Yaksic, who collaborates with Dr. Aamodt and has studied serial homicide for more than a decade.

The extent of that overrepresentation shocked the sister of Cynthia Maas, who was slain in 2010 by B.C. serial killer Cody Legebokoff (he filed an appeal earlier this year of four first-degree murder convictions). "It's very scary," Judy Maas said. "It's especially scary for my daughters, my granddaughters and all the young people coming down the road. ... I'm just thinking about the implications of that - the impact."

Vulnerable targets

When it comes to the 18 serialhomicide cases compiled and confirmed by The Globe, many of the women, ranging in age from 13 to 41, were killed in or near cities. The majority were First Nations, while at least two were Métis. Many of the women were either known or believed to have been engaged in sex work, though it is unclear, in several instances, whether that was true around the time of the killing. "It's a low-risk way to select a victim," said Mark Safarik, a retired special agent who worked in the FBI's behavioural analysis unit as a criminal profiler. He added that serial killers tend to select targets who meet two primary criteria: availability and vulnerability.

In further analyzing the 18 cases, there were also findings related to the eight killers, five of whom are non-indigenous. In the cases of Mr. Andretti, Winnipeg's Shawn Lamb and Saskatoon's John Crawford, every one of their known victims - a total of eight - was indigenous. The relationship between the victim and her killer was not always known or clear.

While the death of Ms. McPherson might well be classified by some as "family violence," since she was Mr. Andretti's wife at the time of her death, he was already a killer by the time they wed. There were also instances in which the perpetrator was believed to be a stranger.

"By stating that the problem is rooted in family violence, the police are deflecting attention away from the broader problem of stranger victimizations because they cannot get a handle on it," Mr. Yaksic said.

Police forces and communities across Canada have long faced the reality - or the widespread, haunting speculation - of serial predation. In the 1980s, B.C.'s Clifford Olson confessed to murdering 11 children. That case helped spur the creation of a central database to find links between violent crimes across the country.

Robert Pickton's serial killings triggered an inquiry that deemed police investigations into disappearances from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside between 1997 and 2002 to be "blatant failures."

Commissioner of Inquiry Wally Oppal made dozens of recommendations in 2012, but some have yet to be fully implemented, including the development of a safe-travel option for people living along the so-called Highway of Tears in Northern B.C., where women have been dying or disappearing at an alarming rate in recent decades. He said he believes police communication across jurisdictions has improved, and he commends the province for introducing new legislation that gives law enforcement greater powers to obtain personal information, including health and telephone records, related to a vulnerable missing person.

The former B.C. attorney-general believes much more needs to be done to address the social factors that lead to increased vulnerability, such as poverty, unstable housing, drug addiction and sex work. "The conditions [in the Downtown Eastside] need to be addressed in a major way because that could be a breeding ground for another serial killer [to find victims]," Mr. Oppal said.

Success breeds arrogance

Over the past several years, the RCMP have struck task forces across the country to review unsolved homicides and missingperson cases. The E-PANA task force was created a decade ago to determine if one or more serial killers was responsible for the deaths and disappearances of young women travelling along certain major highways in B.C.

Two of the task force's 18 cases, dating from 1969 to 2006, are considered solved, though the RCMP have said a now-deceased American felon is suspected in two more homicides and is a person of interest in several other cases.

Mr. Andretti's conviction was the first one stemming from Manitoba's Project Devote, a joint RCMP and Winnipeg Police Service task force launched in 2012. It is investigating more than two dozen homicide and long-term missing-person cases, many of which involve indigenous women. Mr. Andretti confessed his crimes to the RCMP in B.C. and, after he pleaded guilty there in relation to Ms. McPherson's murder, he was transferred as a sentenced prisoner to Winnipeg and pleaded guilty to killing Ms. Letandre. Both families said they credit the B.C. RCMP with bringing Mr. Andretti to justice.

The Crown attorney who prosecuted two Manitoba serial-killer cases - those of Mr. Andretti and Mr. Lamb, who pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter - said police need to devote significant resources to missing-person files because killers "trade" on the reality that priorities will inevitably shift as cases grow colder.

"Just because we don't have a body does not mean that there hasn't been a [homicide]," Sheilla Leinburd said. "Success breeds arrogance in many ways. If they've gotten away with it once or twice, they'll do it a third and fourth time."

In some of the cases featured in The Taken multimedia project, the victims' loved ones told The Globe that police were initially dismissive of their concerns and did not appear to take the missing-person report seriously. In the case of Ms. McPherson, the RCMP's missing-person bulletin misstated her ethnicity as Caucasian; the family made the painful decision not to correct the record for fear that the truth would lead to public apathy - or, worse yet, a biased police response, said the woman's sister, Kim McPherson.

RCMP Superintendent Ward Lymburner, who oversees the E-PANA task force, noted that in response to the Oppal inquiry, the B.C. government recently rolled out provincial policing standards.

The section on missing-person investigations says that when officers are determining the appropriate response, they must take into consideration the reality that indigenous women are more likely than non-indigenous women to be killed or go missing. It says risk may "flow from the profile of the missing person, in particular their inclusion in groups that are at an increased risk of harm, such as Aboriginal women and girls."

According to a 2013 best practices manual created by the RCMP's National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains, police forces should treat each missing-person report as legitimate, serious and urgent at the outset, stating "poor outcomes can often be traced back to not taking a report seriously at the start, and making a risk judgment too early." The manual, which The Globe obtained through an access-to-information request, says agencies "should not treat certain types of missing persons differently at the very beginning (e.g. repeat runaway, persons of particular lifestyles, youth home elopee)." The manual was provided to police agencies and is not binding.

Last year, the RCMP sent a revamped national missing-persons policy to their commanding officers. It introduced two standardized documents: a 13-question risk assessment and a 10-page missing-person intake report to help ensure certain information is obtained at the outset of an investigation. The risk assessment asks "yes" or "no" questions about the person's life and potential vulnerabilities, but it does not specifically ask if the missing individual is indigenous.

When it comes to homicides, the RCMP have updated their paperwork to require that investigators indicate if a victim is aboriginal - a move lauded by the federal Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics.

Ms. Lavell-Harvard, the head of NWAC, said The Globe's investigation into serial killing speaks to the need for a national inquiry, adding the conversation is too often framed through the lens of on-reserve violence perpetrated by indigenous men. "If you're aware that a particular group is being targeted because of vulnerabilities," she said, "then you have to do that much more to protect that vulnerable group."

Associated Graphic

Carolyn Sinclair was pregnant with her third child when Shawn Lamb killed her at his Winnipeg apartment on Dec. 18, 2011.

For a lucky few Rohingya, gaining refugee status in Canada has opened wonderful new avenues, writes Joe Friesen, chief among them a chance for an education. But to a man, they carry memories of horrific journeys, lost friends and the absence of loved ones half a world away
Friday, November 20, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A12

KITCHENER, ONT. -- CROSSINGS Chronicling the global refugee and migrant experience

They had been adrift at sea for more than a month and the food and water had long ago run out.

The hunger was unrelenting.

The 129 men, all young Rohingya fleeing state oppression in Myanmar, were at the limit of their endurance. They lay listlessly in the open boat as the sun sapped their will. Some drank seawater, some chewed shards of wood from the deck to remind themselves what it was like to feel food in their mouths.

At night, Mohammed Rafiq, a shopkeeper from rural Myanmar, rarely slept. He sat in the moonlit darkness and waited for the sound of a splash, the signal that yet another of his companions had thrown themselves upon the mercy of the sea.

"So many of them jumped and died," Mr. Rafiq said. "They said, 'We don't find any boat. We'll be dead soon. We don't want our life.' " The small fishing vessel, its engine disabled, rolled aimlessly with the waves. Mr. Rafiq prayed.

Maybe tomorrow they would be saved, he thought.

After 38 days at sea they were finally spotted by Sri Lankan fishermen, who radioed for help.

In an image taken after their deliverance that day in February, 2013, Mr. Rafiq and the other survivors lay on the deck of a Sri Lankan navy ship, their skin stretched tight across their faces, cheeks hollow, ribs sharply defined. Of the approximately 130 men who began the journey, at least 97 had perished and only 32 remained.

Today, Mr. Rafiq is one of a group of six Rohingya refugees who have begun new lives in Canada. Their stories of fear, escape and survival are an astonishing illustration of the oppression the Rohingya face and the risks they are prepared to take for a chance at a better life.

Described by the UN as one of the world's most persecuted peoples, the Rohingya have become Asia's unwanted - marginalized in Myanmar's Rakhine State, where the bulk of the approximately one million Rohingya reside, as well as in neighbouring countries where they try to seek refuge.

During the recent elections, Rohingya were not allowed to vote. With few good options, many young men try their luck on a long and dangerous boat journey. A small number who made it out have been accepted as refugees in Canada.

A new home

The young men gathered in their classroom at Kitchener's Eastwood Collegiate Institute recently to recount what they've been through. Without exception, all six say the opportunity to go to school, something denied to them in Myanmar, has been the greatest of the gifts bestowed on them by Canada.

"Wonderful, wonderful," said Mr. Rafiq, describing his life here, breaking into a broad smile and letting out a huge sigh. "In Canada, it's freedom for us. We can go anywhere here. We can study."

That's quite different from his description of life growing up as a Muslim in Myanmar. To explain, he pulls out his wallet and removes a white card with his photo and some text in Burmese script. The governmentissued ID says he was born in Bangladesh. That's the government's long-standing justification for not granting citizenship to the Rohingya, but Mr. Rafiq said he was born in Myanmar and his family has lived in the country, which is majority Buddhist, for generations.

"I have such a hard life in Burma," he said, referring to Myanmar by its former name. "They target many young Rohingya people. They put them in jail.

That's why we had to go."

Before he fled, Mr. Rafiq ran a small general store that sold groceries. But the taxes and bribes he had to pay were onerous, so he sold the shop. His village was close to a military encampment and at night soldiers would enter the village looking for young men to lock up and young women to rape, he said. He slept in the jungle to avoid trouble and then decided with two of his friends to set forth in secret for the coast. He didn't even say goodbye to his mother, he said, for fear that knowing he was leaving would put her in danger.

When they reached the coastal town of Fatung Sa, they heard of a boat departing soon for Malaysia. The price to get on was roughly $20 upfront, a significant sum to him, plus a promise to pay $2,000 more in indentured servitude once they reached Malaysia.

He and his two close friends boarded a tiny, overloaded fishing vessel on Jan. 7, 2013, at midnight. The boat was so cramped its passengers had room only to crouch with arms wrapped tightly around their knees.

After about a week at sea, the boat drifted into Thai waters, where it was intercepted and towed to land by the Thai navy.

ONLINE Meet Mohammed Rafiq, Shofi Aktar and their friends living in Kitchener, Ont., as they share how they are learning to integrate into Canadian culture. Watch the video at

For a moment, the passengers thought they would be given asylum, but after 24 hours in port the navy towed their boat back out to open water. The navy also removed the boat's engine, Mr.

Rafiq said, and when they cut the tow line the migrants were left to drift (the Thai navy denied the allegation at the time).

At that moment they knew their prospects were grim.

Mr. Rafiq took courage from his two childhood friends, Syed Hossain, a farmer, and Hamid Ullah, a vegetable seller. They had brought small bottles of water and some puffed rice for the journey, but their supplies ran out after a week. They drank salt water out of desperation.

Mr. Hossain was the frailest of the three and the first to falter.

One morning, after 25 days at sea, Mr. Hossain took a last drink of salt water, laid down and stopped breathing. Mr. Rafiq said a prayer over his body. He sat with his friend for a time, and after about 30 minutes the stronger ones lifted the corpse and hurled it over the side of the boat. With more people dying every day Mr. Rafiq thought it was only a matter of time for him.

The following morning the captain descended from his perch and beat the passengers with an iron rod. Mr. Ullah couldn't take it. He turned to Mr. Rafiq and said: "If you reach any country in the world, please let my parents know I jumped off the boat."

Mr. Rafiq pleaded with his friend, but he stepped to the edge and jumped. Mr. Rafiq scrambled to the side. He watched as his friend bobbed in the ocean and then disappeared behind the swell.

A new life

In Sri Lanka, Mr. Rafiq was initially kept in a jail before being moved to a United Nations refugee camp. It was there that he was selected to come to Canada, along with five other men who had made a similarly perilous journey before being plucked from the sea.

Just like Mr. Rafiq's boat, the vessel they were on was intercepted by the Thai navy and then dragged back out to sea without enough oil and fuel to make the return journey. The captain tried to navigate back into Thai waters, but the navy repelled them by firing over their heads.

After two weeks of drifting, they spotted a large fishing vessel and one of the men, Mansour Alom, despite weeks of starvation, was able to swim to the larger vessel and pull himself up by the anchor rope that hung from the side. The startled fishermen chased Mr. Alom away with knives, forcing him back into the water, but soon saw the condition of those aboard the migrant vessel and radioed the Sri Lankan navy for help.

None of the men knew each other before they fled Myanmar, but today they consider themselves brothers.

They arrived in Canada nearly a year ago, when five of the six presented themselves in the office at Kitchener's Eastwood Collegiate.

The five - Mr. Rafiq, Ali Johar, Anam Ullah, Anayath Hossain and Shofi Aktar - were all given the same birth date in the UN refugee camp - Jan. 1, 1995 - and so they were allowed to enroll in a high school English literacy development stream. The sixth, Mr. Alom, is a few years older, so he attends adult English classes and works part-time in a store.

Lara Shantz, a guidance counsellor and teacher at Eastwood, was there to greet them on the first day. She knew a little of how they had come to Canada, but the young men were very different than she expected.

"They were so friendly and eager to engage," Ms. Shantz said. "I guess I expected them to be more broken or fearful or shy.

I've just been blown away with the joy they have in them and the gratitude and respect."

Only one of them had ever attended school, and then only for a year or two. Ms. Shantz points out Rohingya culture is primarily oral, not written, so not only are they learning English, they're also learning basic literacy. Their teachers say the men have embraced learning with an enthusiasm that enlivens those around them. At the moment they're working at about a Grade 4 level, but they're quickly making progress. In their math class, which is made up of refugee children from Iraq, Syria and Somalia, they all sit near the front, smiling, excited, shouting answers as they try to resolve fractions with chocolate bars drawn in chalk as a point of reference.

In the three-bedroom apartment they share, most of the men have yellow Post-it notes above their beds with new words they are trying to learn. In Mr. Rafiq's case, the carefully copied words include: rebellious, responsible, thoughtful, cheerful, powerful, inventive.

"I practise when I go to sleep and when I wake up, because I never learned in Burma. I never got to go to school," Mr. Rafiq said.

Free weights are scattered around the apartment, a sign of their growing enthusiasm for exercise and bodybuilding. They also take turns preparing large meals they eat together. At night, they sometimes watch Bollywood movies, talk to relatives via Skype and scan the Internet for news about Myanmar. One shows gruesome images of beheaded bodies in Rakhine State, saying "This is happening right now in my home."

Several express profound sadness for their families who, as long as they are ineligible for passports in Myanmar, are unlikely to ever be able to rejoin them in Canada. "We are happy here, but our insides still cry for them," Mr. Aktar said.

Anam Ullah proudly shows off his bedroom, which features Canadian flags taped up by the window, stacks of books on the chest of drawers and a map above his bed. Because of the government restrictions on their movement in Myanmar, the young men had never travelled before they set out for the sea, and the vastness of their new country still awes them. He's surprised to learn that the map is not all of Canada, but just the Kitchener-Waterloo region.

He says his dreams often take him back to his childhood, to the killing and violence he witnessed, and he wakes with tears on his pillow.

"I saw many things in my village," Mr. Ullah says. "I have fishing boat back home [and] when I'm going to work I saw a lot of people dead in the river, dead bodies. That's what I remember."

Ms. Shantz has become very close to the young men, visiting their apartment to check on them (they recently learned they could save leftovers by refrigerating them) and keeping a close eye on their academic progress.

The young men refer to her as their Canadian mother and break into smiles when she appears.

That bond became even closer this year when Mr. Aktar, likely the youngest of the group, was riding a new bike in Kitchener and, unfamiliar with traffic rules, was hit and badly injured by a van. The others, who had been riding the bus, found him bloodied, barely conscious and struggling to breathe. He was lucky to survive and spent nearly a month in hospital recovering.

With no family to handle his care, Ms. Shantz and others stepped in. Recently, Mr. Aktar told Ms. Shantz that when he asked his mother in Myanmar how she would one day approve of his future wife, she said his Canadian mother would have to take on that role.

"We lose our mom and we find another one," Mr. Aktar said.

The students have formed a strong bond with their school, but they will have to leave on their 21st birthday, which will be this Jan. 1, according to their UNissued birth certificates. They say that's unfair, because their birthdays were assigned more or less at random, and they would benefit greatly from staying in school.

They've written to the local superintendent to see whether it might be possible to extend their time at the school.

"When we came to Sri Lanka, we did not know our real age and we were half-dead," the boys wrote in a letter. "If we can stay here we will be very thankful. We don't want to give up on our education."

Associated Graphic

Rohingya men play a game called salloung, popular in Myanmar, at a park in Kitchener, Ont., in June. At right, they shop for groceries at an Indian market in Kitchener; from left, they are Mansour Alom, Mohammed Rafiq, Anayath Hossain and Anam Ullah. They live together in an apartment with Canadian flags on their bedroom walls and Post-it notes adorning their bedposts with English words they've learned.


Ali Johar, right in photo at left, gets help from peer tutor Naime Mukhtar at Eastwood Collegiate Institute in Kitchener in November. Their teachers say they've embraced learning with an enthusiasm that enlivens those around them. Below left, Anayath Hossain kneels in prayer.


When Mohammed Rafiq was rescued in 2013 off the coast of Sri Lanka, a Reuters photographer captured the desperate scene. At bottom, the refugees' Canadian Rohingya friend, Farid Ullah, who has been their guide in adjusting to life in Kitchener, views the picture on a mobile phone.

Africans with mental illness are the unseen, with no voice in war-torn and impoverisheed countries and few advocates to champion change. Dr. Anthony Feinstein speaks with photographer Robin Hammond, whose self-funded project to expose the plight of f the mentally ill has taken him to 10 African countries
Friday, November 27, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A10

I first saw Robin Hammond's photography at the Visa d'or photojournalism festival in Perpignan, France. He had been invited to exhibit his work on mental illness in Africa. In the quiet interior of a medieval building given over to his photographs, I made my way from one compelling image to another aware of competing emotions, my admiration for the skill of the photographer bumping up against the pain of those he had photographed. As I lingered over each photograph, I also reflected on how the universal nature of mental illness meant that the inner worlds of many of Hammond's subjects surely matched those of my patients back in Toronto. And yet, the circumstances of their treatment could not have been more different. Here, the photographs tell a dreadful story.

A young man sits naked and forlorn on a bare floor, chained to a wall. A husband drags his trussed wife across a field with a look of grim determination. Intellectually handicapped children, limbs contracted and stick-thin with malnutrition, lie three to a crib. Women in shackles slump across threadbare, filthy mattresses on the floor. Men look through the bars of their cage with a mix of desperation, melancholy and dull resignation. Hammond's photographs provide powerful visual testimony to a troubling reality: Mental illness is common, knows no boundaries, spares no social class and in great swaths of this world is largely ignored by governments that spend lavishly elsewhere.

As difficult as these conditions are, they turn immeasurably worse when war comes calling, as it often does with a tenacity that soaks up limited health-care resources and lays waste an already inadequate infrastructure.

As the first waves of armies and militia - often rogue - approach, those who can escape do so. The affluent and educated are the first to flee, their foresight given wings by money. The able-bodied, less well-to-do are next, bundling their possessions at the 11th hour and taking to the road. Those left behind are the most vulnerable and they include the mentally ill.

This is what Hammond found when he arrived in Mogadishu on his birthday in the summer of 2011. A 20-year civil war had reduced Somalia to a failed state.

The capital was in ruins. Al-Shabaab militants were battling government forces and gunfire could be heard a few streets away from the psychiatric facility. His security detail was jittery.

In a more peaceful time, an Italian NGO had run the hospital.

Now, the danger was too great and the doctors and nurses had left, the pharmacy was empty and into this professional void had stepped the imams. The only "therapy" given came from religious leaders who bellowed verses from the Koran into the ears and psyches of their captive wards using bullhorns. Such is the power of the image, it is easy to overlook a peripheral detail. In the top right-hand corner of the photograph, one can see the minaret of a nearby mosque.

Prayer has become the default treatment for mental illness.

Somali society has slipped its tether and is back in the Dark Ages. Only religion has had the power to endure in the midst of war. Presumably, the bullhorn is considered some sort of behavioural modifier, although the men sitting inches away from the verbal blasts appear oddly unresponsive. Perhaps they have become inured to the daily message? Maybe their illness has rendered them catatonic, incapable of movement irrespective of the decibel level? Or perchance they just are more interested in the unusual sight of a white man with a camera who has braved grave danger to record their plight?

When Hammond took this photograph, he had to work quickly.

There was no time to linger. One wrong move, one small miscalculation and kidnap for ransom, or worse, would be his fate. His motivation comes from a fierce determination to document the plight of the mentally ill in countries in crisis. The idea first came to him on a trip to South Sudan to photograph the independence celebrations of the world's newest state. He recalls that Juba, the capital, was awash with journalists, and rather than replicate what they were doing he went in search of a story with a difference.

While travelling down a dusty road, he came across a woman with obvious intellectual disability, begging. Learning from his local driver that the government often imprisoned those with mental-health problems, he managed to gain access to Juba Central Prison. What he saw shocked him. Here, the mentally ill were shackled, not treated. Some were kept naked. They ate and defecated in the same place.

Hammond's photographs, which appeared in the Sunday Times, were the very antithesis of the celebratory news coverage that elsewhere greeted the dawning of a new country. "It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails," observed Nelson Mandela. "A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones." So yes, it was a time of high hope for newly minted South Sudan, recollects Hammond, a fresh start for a people long at war and under the yoke of their northern masters in Khartoum, but as his photographs revealed, all was not well at the birth.

Hammond's work in South Sudan gave his career a direction that meshed well with his longstanding focus on human-rights issues. He had always taken inspiration from the photographs of W. Eugene Smith, citing in particular Smith's work in Minamata, Japan, where his photographs - acquired at great personal cost that included an assault that left him visually impaired - exposed the effects of toxic industrial waste on the health of the local inhabitants. The prison in Juba opened Hammond's eyes to a world of suffering, one that is often hidden from view behind high walls and in dark recesses, enveloped in a silence that reflects a pernicious mix of shame, guilt, ignorance, indifference and state-sanctioned cruelty. He was determined to expose the plight of the mentally ill in countries in crisis, and his selffunded project has since taken him to 10 African countries. His photographs were subsequently published in a book he aptly called Condemned.

Notwithstanding the critical acclaim that greeted his work, the subject matter remained in the shadows. The mentally ill did not have a voice and could not advocate for themselves. The very nature of their illness had silenced them. How could it be otherwise when delusions derail thoughts and hallucinations distort how the world is seen? Even depression, the most frequent of disorders, can reduce motivation, induce apathy and impede those afflicted from bringing about positive change. In the absence of moral outrage, the treatment of choice often involved putting a chain around an ankle. Some of the authorities saw nothing wrong in this and opened their doors to Hammond, but others seemed more sensitive to how their actions would be perceived and were reluctant to grant access. He was arrested once, in Zimbabwe, interrogated for four days and spent 26 nights in jail.

He counted 38 people crammed into his small cell. A single toilet was shared by 250 detainees. Lice were ubiquitous and there were weevils in the food. Hammond recalls his first night in captivity was "like walking into one of my photographs." But his incarceration also gave him first-hand insights into just how terrible was the plight of those on the other side of his lens. He emerged from his captivity a stronger person, fortified in his resolve to continue his work.

When viewed from afar in the comfort of an air-conditioned office, it is all too easy to pass blanket judgment on those who, at first glance, appear to be perpetuating gross human-rights abuses in their treatment of the mentally ill. Hammond is aware of this transcultural trap and correctly makes a distinction between government officials who spend extravagantly on themselves or armaments, and local functionaries without a budget or family members forced to manage disturbed, often violent behaviour. He recalls initially feeling appalled when at a refugee camp in Puntland, northeast Somalia, he came across a mentally unwell child who had been tied to a stake for nine years. But his opinion changed, even if his distress did not, when the child's mother, a single parent living an impoverished existence, explained that she had another four children to look after. What was she to do, she challenged Hammond? Devote all her resources to her sick son and let the others starve, for that is what surely would happen, or instead tend to his four healthy siblings?

These are moral dilemmas we in more affluent societies are thankfully spared courtesy of an accident of birth.

Viewing a relentless procession of manacled sick people, or visiting psychiatric institutions where all the patients, irrespective of diagnosis, had been sedated to the point of stupor and left drooling, can test the strongest resolve. A couple years into his project, Hammond felt drained. Prior to visiting Liberia and Sierra Leone, he recalls having to push through his exhaustion to lift a flagging motivation. He was also starting to realize that bearing witness had altered nothing in the lives of his subjects. While documenting their plight was important, he felt a moral imperative to bring about change, as well. The subjects of his photographs had let him into their world with all its pain, helplessness and despair. Implicit in this relationship was the hope, fragile but never abandoned, that some good would come of it, that lives shorn of dignity and respect could be made just that little bit better.

Driven in part by guilt, misplaced but no less powerful for it, Hammond took a break to rethink his strategy. When he returned two years later, he had expanded his remit from mental illness to vulnerable people in general. He formed a not-for-profit organization, Witness Change, with the aim of effecting transformation. Now, the emphasis was on what he calls "disabling environments," such as refugee camps and prisons, and the effects that these can have on mental health.

Shifting strategies made it easier for Hammond to keep going and justify to himself why he does so. But it does not blunt the cruelty of what he has witnessed.

He still seethes when he thinks about what he saw in Port Harcourt in the Niger Delta, visiting what had euphemistically been called a rehabilitation centre.

Incarcerated within were 170 mentally ill men and women who had been rounded up off the streets 15 years back and kept in detention. Masquerading behind a pretense at convalescence and reintegration, the state authorities had addressed an inconvenient truth by making it disappear from public view. Hammond could see that those caught up in the sweep would never get out.

Notwithstanding the horrors of the Port Harcourt Rehabilitation Centre and others like it, Hammond remains upbeat about his work. When he repeats former U.S. surgeon-general David Satcher's well-worn truism "there is no health without mental health," an idea that can be traced back to the Romans' Mens sana in corpore sano philosophy ("healthy minds, healthy body"), he does so with compelling conviction linking mental illness to another African scourge, malaria. "The mother with severe depression," explains Hammond, "is not going to worry about the mosquito netting for herself or her children." His hope is that, in time, mental health will receive the same attention and resources that malaria now attracts from philanthropic bodies such as the Gates Foundation. The change in attitude toward HIV, which went from pariah status to a cause célèbre, is held up as another example to emulate.

A camera and a nascent not-forprofit organization are Robin Hammond's instruments of change. Arrayed against him is a list of negatives that could fill a thesaurus. And yet he remains undaunted. "I cannot afford to believe the task is hopeless," he says. If one adds conviction, a perceptive eye, consummate skill and a focused energy to the mix, the odds shift a little more favourably. And let us not overlook emotion as a great motivator, a mover of causes. When one has been touched profoundly by what one has witnessed, this, too, can be the spur to action. Hammond has not been traumatized by what he has seen and, in Zimbabwe, endured. Which is not to gloss over the fact that every time he returns to his home in Paris from far-flung places in which humanity has lost its way, there is always one story, one face the memory of which simply breaks his heart.

About the series

Photojournalists are vital witnesses to global events. Through their lenses, we, the readers safe at home, glean a sliver of visual reality from places torn by man-made or natural catastrophe.

As recent events have shown, kidnap for ransom and murder to instill terror have made journalism increasingly hazardous. This, in turn, has challenged journalists when it comes to their physical and emotional well-being.

Anthony Feinstein, a psychiatrist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and a professor at the University of Toronto, is a world leader in the psychological effects of war on front-line journalists. Together with Dr. Feinstein, The Globe and Mail is running a year-long project: Conflict Photographers. Once a month, we feature a frank and intimate interview between Dr. Feinstein and a photojournalist. Each article showcases an image that represents a seminal moment in the photographer's life and career, and often presents a window to a much greater issue.

In this seventh instalment, Dr. Feinstein speaks with Robin Hammond, who has dedicated his career to documenting human-rights and development issues around the world.

Associated Graphic



Razor Ruddock's return to the ring has been hit and miss. The Canadian heavyweight is not taking a recent defeat lying down
Saturday, November 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S1

TORONTO -- Donovan (Razor) Ruddock is lying flat on his back, his chest heaving, his arms splayed out like Jesus. This was definitely not part of his plan.

His plan, and let him finish, went like this: Train hard, return to the boxing ring after 13 years of retirement at the unheardof advanced age of 51, knock out some noname boxers, win the relatively obscure Canadian heavyweight title, use the ensuing publicity to promote sales of a household garbage compactor he invented a few years ago, defeat a top-10-ranked fighter and then, seriously, challenge for the world title. That, at least, was the plan.

On this Friday night in September, with Ruddock down and dazed on the canvas at Toronto's Ricoh Coliseum, the plan is in need of revisions. Nowhere in the plan was there a knockout punch from Canadian champ Dillon (Big Country) Carman, 29, who was only two years old when Ruddock first won the Canadian title back in 1988.

Now, two months later, Ruddock - known back in the day for his fused upper-cut/left-hook punch nicknamed "the Smash" - is not taking the defeat lying down. This is a guy who fought, and lost, to Mike Tyson - twice - lasting a brutal 12 rounds in their final, sickening, bloody confrontation despite suffering a broken jaw.

Of course, that was during the Bush administration - the first Bush administration.

"I only lost five fights. I can't put this kid on the list," Ruddock says in an interview with The Globe and Mail this week between sessions pounding on a duct-taped punching bag at Toronto's east-end Cabbagetown Boxing Club.

Recent additions to his plan include retaining a lawyer, and a potential court challenge of Ontario's boxing authorities over the outcome of the bout. Carman, Ruddock alleges, landed two rulebreaking blows to the back of his head or neck - known as "rabbit punches" as a similar technique is used to quickly slaughter rabbits - minutes before his bout-ending knockout. So, to sum up the current plan: Get Carman disqualified after the fact, have the Canadian title handed over, and then, see above.

"I've been in the game 35 years, okay? I fought all the killers in the world, all the fighters," he says, as his wife, Tritcha-Anne, 40, who acts as his trainer, manager and No. 1 supporter, towels the dripping sweat off his shoulders and face. "And they don't have the better of me, okay? Because I don't have to be looking at how to be protecting the back of my head."

Even in a sport crammed full of stories about aging boxers making unlikely comebacks, Ruddock's stands out. George Foreman, who before finally retiring and becoming a full-time indoor grill salesman, took the world heavyweight championship at the record age of 45 in 1994. But even he had hung up his gloves by the time he turned 48.

And Ruddock is returning to a sport many feel is also well past its prime. Heavyweight boxing is at perhaps its lowest ebb in a century in North America. While the recent Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao welterweight battle broke pay-per-view TV records, the heavyweight division is now largely left to a subculture of hard-core fans, except in Quebec, where boxing of all kinds remains defiantly popular.

The last generation of big household-name heavyweights - Tyson, Foreman, Evander Holyfield - are gone, replaced by fighters whose reputations do not transcend their sport, such as the current world heavyweight champion, Ukraine's Wladimir Klitschko. Its legitimacy long undermined by corruption and mounting medical evidence about the long-term effects of repeated blows to the head, boxing has also seen its badass reputation usurped in recent years by the arguably more animatedly violent sport of mixed martial arts.

Ruddock's recent bout with Carman was an undercard on what was billed as the first major boxing event in Toronto in decades, an attempt by promoters including British-Canadian boxing legend Lennox Lewis - who retired long ago but knocked out Ruddock in 1992 - to revive the sport here. But Ruddock, out of boxing for so long, is returning to a much diminished arena, with no Tysons to face. Perhaps that is for the best.

To be licensed to box in Ontario, fighters have to undergo a series of medical tests, including a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. There is no age limit in the rules, and Ruddock says doctors have given him a green light. He swats away any suggestion that by boxing so late in life he increases his already heightened risk of ending up like Muhammad Ali, suffering from Parkinson's, or Ruddock's old trainer, the late Floyd Patterson, a former heavyweight champion who suffered from Alzheimer's.

"Listen, when I am talking to you. Very clear. You don't see no residue from boxing, do you? No.

So then, obviously, I am doing pretty good," he says as he unwinds the boxing tape on his hands. "You see, the key to boxing is, if you're not getting knocked out, you're doing okay. If you are getting knocked on the head, then you've got to go find something else to do."

Ruddock, whose family moved to Toronto's Weston neighbourhood from Jamaica when he was 11, is the second-youngest of five children. He started boxing at 16.

He stayed with an uncle in Brooklyn for a while, boxing there and also back home while in the Canadian Forces reserves, where he earned the nickname Razor for leaving his opponents with cuts.

He was Canada's light-heavyweight amateur champ, and might have gone to the 1980 Olympics in Moscow if it weren't for the boycott, before turning pro in 1982. After a defeat blamed on a debilitating case of asthma, and a stint driving a truck, he returned to boxing and hooked up with Canadian legend George Chuvalo as his trainer.

It was his defeat of a top-10ranked American heavyweight, Mike Weaver, in 1986 that put the wider boxing world on notice.

Dramatic knockouts of James (Bonecrusher) Smith in 1989 and then Michael Dokes, at New York's Madison Square Garden in 1990, elevated Ruddock onto boxing's uppermost shelves, within striking distance of the top. Canadian clothier Roots was a sponsor, providing his trunks and Razorbranded leather jackets.

However, his handlers had trouble navigating boxing's politics and lining up big-name opponents. (Tyson bailed out of a matchup set for Edmonton in 1989, claiming illness.) And in the 1990s, he would suffer a handful of punishing defeats against Tyson, Lewis and finally Tommy Morrison, before quitting boxing in 1995 as his life outside the ring unravelled.

Ruddock ended up in legal or financial battles with former members of his once-massive entourage, including his own older brother, Delroy, and boxing promoter Don King. He filed for bankruptcy in 1995, despite earning as much as $10-million (U.S.) for his 1991 bouts against Tyson alone. A Fort Lauderdale, Fla., nightclub he launched, Razor's Palace, went under. A former girlfriend alleged he had assaulted her and ripped a diamond ring off her finger, but he was acquitted by a Florida jury. He returned to boxing in the late 1990s, winning the vacant Canadian heavyweight title in 2001 before quitting again.

"After I won the Canadian title, I was bored. I wasn't feeling it. You know what I am saying? So I took some time off. And I was getting fat," he said, adding that he had ballooned to 300 pounds. "My blood pressure was going high."

Eight years ago, living in Jamaica, he says he started training and sparring again. Three years ago, he went vegan. Now, living in Toronto, he says he runs eight or nine kilometres some mornings, and most others he heads to the boxing gym for an hour of punching.

He's a father of six, a grandfather of four. A son, Sky, died in a car crash in California at 22 in 2011. Away from the ring, he calls himself an inventor. He holds a U.S. patent on a garbage compactor, a can with a specially designed lid that incorporates a lever that can squish your trash.

Previous attempts to market it like Foreman's ubiquitous grill have fizzled. Ruddock, who brought a prototype into his lawyer's office this week and says he has invested $500,000 of his own money in the device, adds that he has other unnamed inventions waiting in the wings.

But boxing now comes first. In his debut comeback fight, in Mississauga in March, he defeated Toronto's 6-foot-7, 44-year-old Raymond (Mount Kilimanjaro) Olubowale in a technical knockout. He then beat Quebecker Eric Barrak in May.

Ruddock, 6-foot-3, weighs in these days at about 240 pounds, around seven or eight pounds heavier than his fighting weight in his prime. But the chiselled chest that entered the ring with Tyson all those years ago is now a flabbier, middle-aged affair, jiggling as he jumps up and down and loosens up before his fight.

He insists he's in the best shape he has ever been. And this time around, his sprawling entourage is long gone, replaced by a group of one: his current wife of 20 years, Tritcha-Anne, who says she is happy to see her husband back in the ring. She was among those in his corner at the Ricoh Coliseum, shouting encouragement over the ropes.

"I made a lot of mistakes," he says when asked about his past.

"But through all the mistakes, you weave your way through, you will get to the right spot. And that's the way I look at life."

Ruddock gets animated as he shows a reporter a slow-motion video of what he says were Carman's illegal blows: "Right in the back of the head. They can't beat me no other way. ... They need to remove that title and he needs to get out of boxing. That's what he needs to do. He needs to go into MMA. That's where he needs to go."

It's the same video that his lawyer, with Ruddock and his wife present, showed to the province's boxing czar, Ontario Athletics Commissioner Ken Hayashi, in a meeting late last month. Ruddock's lawyer, Trevor Whiffen - a partner with the Toronto office of Dickinson Wright LLP who often acts for athletes and sports organizations and sits on the board of the Ontario Hockey League for the London Knights - says Hayashi did initially acknowledge the boxer may have been hit in the back of the head.

However, 10 days later, Hayashi responded with a letter saying the information provided had been "carefully considered" but that he would not be taking any action, citing a lack of "sufficient evidence" to overturn the referee.

Whiffen admits they are in uncharted legal waters, but says his next step could be to try to convince a judge to make a declaration to force the commissioner to act: "It's easier to throw a 51year-old guy that's come out of retirement under the bus than it is to dethrone the current Canadian heavyweight champion.

That's a tough thing to do."

Neither Hayashi nor Carman could be reached for comment.

Ruddock, smiling and laughing, showers an interviewer with stories from his life in the ring without waiting for questions, holding court in a boxing gym whose walls are covered with images of the sport's legends. He says he loves training so much he does it whether he has a fight scheduled or not. And he vows to keep boxing, once he sees his challenge of the Carman fight through.

Because he has a plan.

"Right now, I have a plan," he says. "I am going to keep going and see how far the rabbit holes go. But we have to clear this thing up first."

Associated Graphic

Donovan (Razor) Ruddock, who works out of Toronto's Cabbagetown Boxing Club, is challenging the results of a Canadian heavyweight title bout in September. He says he was illegally punched in the back of the head twice during the match.


At the age of 51, Donovan (Razor) Ruddock came out of retirement this year after being away from boxing for 13 years.


Ruddock says he loves training so much he would do it even if there were no matches to prepare for.


Guns, Furs & Trains
Friday, November 27, 2015 – Print Edition, Page P57

ALONG WITH THE LEDGERS AND MEETING MINUTES IN A CORPORATE ARCHIVE, YOU'D never expect to find declarations of love. But in among the yellowing, leather-bound volumes lining the shelves in a vault, the Bank of Montreal's records also tell of men requesting permission to marry--a fairly common policy at a time when employers believed they had a duty to ensure a young paramour could support a wife.

Such vivid snapshots of history abound in the archival collections scattered throughout corporate Canada. Their guardians are mini-museum curators, working to preserve not just company history, but also a broader link to the past.

Some collections are displayed in museums (from 1931 to 1968 Bell had its own, which was at one point called the Panorama of Telephone Progress); some are stored away from the public eye-open to academics or others by appointment only. Others are outsourced to universities or government archives.

Artifacts can become part of company lore (such as the revolver kept in a walk-in safe in the publisher's office at The Globe and Mail(1)). The Hudson's Bay collection is so vast that UNESCO has added it to the Memory of the World Register.

Historical collections require significant investment. Bank of Montreal, which is anticipating its 200th anniversary in 2017, currently has four full-time staff. Preventive conservation for just a single document can cost around $600. Documents, photos, films and artifacts all require specific temperature and humidity controls so they are not lost to time.

We took a peek into the vaults and found gold that went down with the Titanic, shades of Downton Abbey, astronauts' souvenirs and even a taxidermied dog.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

William Cornelius Van Horne, then the vice-president of Canadian Pacific Railway, arrived at the ceremony for the driving of the last spike on Nov. 7, 1885, in his own private rail transport. Seventy-three years later, the mahogany car was due to be burned when Leonard A. Seton, a member of the Canadian Railroad Historical Association, spotted it. The car was spared, and CP Rail began donating other antique cars and memorabilia to the association's Exporail museum, just outside Montreal, for safekeeping. In 2012, CP began handing over its rail archive-some of it has been kept under lock and key. The records include city planning maps, which show the importance of the railway in populating towns across the West, where the station would be among the first buildings to go up. In northern communities--too small for even a one-room schoolhouse--the Ontario department of education sent school cars. One of them had the same teacher, W.A. Wright, live on board from 1928 to 1967. He stayed in a small apartment in the car, and at each stop would teach in another that was fully equipped with wooden desks, abacuses, attendance rolls, chalk and erasers. He would leave behind homework that would be done in the weeks between visits. The government paid to refurbish the cars and pay the teachers, and the railways agreed to run them for free. In the 1930s, the program expanded to Quebec and Newfoundland.

Exporail also has artifacts from other railways, including a gold watch that belonged to Charles Melville Hays, president of the Grand Trunk Railway, a CP competitor that was absorbed into Canadian National Railways in the early 1920s. Hays was returning from a business trip to England when the ocean liner he was travelling on, the Titanic, sank on April 15, 1912. It was the engraving on the watch that helped identify his body.

Suspension of disbelief is not an easy feat for Lise Noël, particularly when she watches period movies or shows in which characters use old phones. "They're very far away," she says, holding a receiver to her ear, and the transmitter in the other hand, inches away from her face. "You really need to talk within an inch of these things."

Noël is responsible for a history that stretches back to 1876, when Alexander Graham Bell transmitted the very first voice call, to his assistant, saying: "Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you." The Bell Telephone Co. of Canada was born four years later.

The Montreal collection includes one of Bell's early wooden transmitters and remnant cables from the inaugural transatlantic telegraph line. (For a while, those scraps became a bit of a craze: Tiffany's made some of them into watch fobs, pendants, and handles for canes and umbrellas.) There's a beaten-up blue prison pay phone and an early Blackberry. A wooden phone booth that stood in a Montreal high school bears witness to erstwhile teen romance, defaced with the carving "Pat + Diane 65." A gold-plated intercom used to hang at Ardwold, the Eaton family's mansion in Toronto. "It really was a Downton Abbey thing," says Noël. On the left are call buttons for "Sir John" and "Lady Eaton," and for parts of the house, including the dressing room. On the right are buttons for the butler's room, the gardener and the pantry. She holds up a photograph: one of the classes Bell hosted after dial phones came into use in 1924 because people had to be taught how to use them. Noël also helps care for telecom relics from both World Wars. One resourceful soldier fashioned a chest support out of a shell casing to create a hands-free voice transmitter.

There are those who'd say a bank has no soul. But BMO's archivist Yolaine Toussaint would diasgree. She thinks it exists in this vast collection at the bank's Montreal head office--shelf after immaculate shelf housed in a basement vault that used to hold clients' money. The treasures include an early bank charter signed by King William IV, as well as some of Canada's first uniform currency, which BMO issued long before the Bank of Canada existed. Before BMO came along in 1817, businesses had to grapple with a monetary stew that included Hudson's Bay tokens, pesos, shillings and francs. There are even oddities like $8 bills. Then there were the counterfeits. Unlike today's masterpieces, some of those early attempts were crude and hand-drawn, designed for trading in darkened saloons. But there were more immediate dangers for the bank than counterfeiters. Toussaint unclasps a wooden box on a back shelf. Inside is a revolver, from the days before security cameras and bulletproof glass. "It was a banking reality," she says in her singsong voice. "You never knew when Jesse James would come in, you know?"

Toussaint has pulled from the shelves some of her personal favourites--cast-iron piggy banks that date back to the 19th century, when automatons and mechanical gizmos were all the rage. She dons white gloves to make one built in 1878 come to life. It's called the Eagle and the Eaglets. She slips a coin into the eagle's mouth, lifts the wing and presses a hidden lever. The bird leans forward, opens her beak and the coin disappears as her tiny brood springs up from the bowels of the toy. At one time, the birds even made a peeping noise. Another favourite: a large scale that was used at the branch in Dawson City to weigh gold nuggets. In an old HR file, we learn that Ulrich Friedrich Wilhelm Joachim von Ribbentrop was a "nice boy"--or at least his supervisor thought so. The German lived in Montreal and worked at Molsons Bank (later acquired by BMO), starting in 1910. "Obliging, attentive [and] exceptionally capable for his age," reads his employee review. Hitler thought so too: Von Ribbentrop went on to become his foreign minister and the first Nazi leader hanged at Nuremberg.

For Mike Hiltz, an engineer who as a kid watched the moon landing, Spar Aerospace "was like Willy Wonka's chocolate factory," a dream world where real astronauts walked the halls. That's because before they could blast off into space aboard a shuttle, NASA's chosen few had to make a stop in Toronto to learn to use the Canadarm. A simulator mimicked the reality of operating the robotic arm in space. While the simulator's outer shell looks like the nose of the shuttle, inside the panels and joysticks were exactly what astronauts would find on the real thing. Each crew of trainees left behind a mission badge sticker--a memento of their stay that was plastered to the outside of the simulator. There's a badge for Columbia, the first shuttle to take flight with a Canadarm aboard. And there's one from the ill-fated Challenger mission. Senior engineer Gerry Burns joined Spar (whose robotics division was acquired by MDA in 1999) just before Columbia's voyage in 1981. He led the final training session for astronauts Judy Resnik and Dick Scobee. Shuttle missions had become so routine by then that Burns recalls joking with Resnik: "If something doesn't go wrong, you're not going to get a mention in the news." It was terrible foreshadowing: On Jan. 28, 1986, Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, killing all seven crew members.

The Canadarm was present for many successful missions, too. In 1998, Hiltz was at Mission Control in Houston when it docked the U.S. Unity node to the Russian Zarya module. "Here was Canada, joining Russia and the U.S. together," Hiltz recalls. It was the Canadarm's most daring mission yet, and its heaviest payload. Applause broke out when the two pieces came together. Hiltz's boss at NASA, John Peck, told him: "Get up and take a bow." Hiltz demurred, but Peck insisted, and the room broke out in cheers.

When King Charles II handed Hudson's Bay Co. its charter in 1670, with it came a monopoly on trade across one-third of what is now Canada. That kicked off the lucrative fur trade, with male beaver pelts as the going currency. The company's more than 26,000 artifacts, as well as its photographs and documents (now housed largely at the Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg and the provincial archives, and financially supported by HBC), chronicles not just HBC's history, but also the lives of First Nations people and European settlers going back 350 years. It includes beaded bandoliers and belts, porcupine quillwork and an Inuit rain suit made from the intestines of a seal. "It's old-school Gore-Tex," says Amelia Fay, a curator at the Manitoba Museum. Other oddities in the collection: a taxidermied dog that was part of one of the search missions looking for the Franklin expedition in the late 19th century, a wood desk calendar Franklin left behind at a trading post at Fort Chipewyan in Northern Alberta, and numerous trading blankets.

Some of this history is still finding its way back into the archives. In 1919, HBC commissioned a documentary called The Romance of the Far Fur Country, by Harold Wyckoff, to mark its 250th anniversary. The six-month expedition in Canada's most inhospitable climates, with more than 450 kilograms of film equipment in tow, yielded remarkable scenes of northern life. It was hidden away at the British Film Institute--a good thing, since the BFI was able to preserve the highly flammable nitrate film--until 2011, when the archives requested the film back. In October, Wyckoff's grandson donated the filmmaker's diary, photographs and letters from the expedition.

The archive serves a scientific purpose, too: Long before Environment Canada, HBC trading posts kept meticulous daily records of temperature, wind conditions and sea ice. In his history of HBC, Peter C. Newman wrote that it's "probably the best-documented institution in the world, next to the Vatican." In 2007, UNESCO added the company's collection to its Memory of the World Register.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

(1) Legend has it that in March of 1880, the gun was used by a disgruntled employee to shoot George Brown, the founder of The Globe (he died a few months later from an infection). But that was a different gun: This one was purchased in light of what had happened to Brown, to protect subsequent publishers.

Associated Graphic


Charles Melville Hays'S Gold Watch

Fully Equipped School Train Car

Gold-plated intercom from the Eaton family's mansion

19Th-Century Cast-Iron Mechanical Piggy Bank

MDA'S Training Simulator

Official Seal Used By HBC Commissioners J. Wrigley And C.C. Chipman


Monday, November 30, 2015

A hockey mom puts herself in the penalty box
What is it about watching your kid play sports that turns ordinary parents into trash-talking, fist-shaking boors? Erin Anderssen investigates
Friday, November 27, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L1

By day, Tabatha Leonard is a mild-mannered secretary at the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board.

But, by game time, at rinkside, she transforms into her alter ego: Crazy Hockey Mom.

We're not talking cheering-loudly-from-the-stands crazy. She's the mom occasionally cursing parents from the opposing team when they trash-talk one of the players on her son's AAA team.

The mother who has "conversations," as she puts it, with the referee for missing a call.

She's banged the glass above the boards so hard she's bent her wedding ring. And beware the visiting parent who exhibits glee when Leonard's son takes an intentional hit, or gets a penalty.

One time, she needed an escort of fathers to get out of the rink for fear a yelling match might end in a fistfight. "She's sweet and lovable," says another mom on the team, who has been sitting in the stands with Leonard for years.

"But these are not meltdowns.

They are explosions." Which is why, at home games in Madoc, Ont., Leonard has banished herself to the sound room, where she plays music for the team during pauses in play, and where, more importantly, no one can hear her scream. "It's just better that way," she says, demonstrating more insight than many a rink-side fan. "I can say what I have to say behind glass. It keeps me out of trouble."

What is it about a kid's hockey game that flicks the switch for so many parents, turning devoted mothers and fathers into rampaging maniacs, infecting them with category-five rink-rage even while watching six-year-olds knock a puck around? These same parents would never scream at someone else's child - or any stranger - off the ice. They wouldn't tell their daughter on the playground to "take out" a peer. And you can bet that if a teacher tried to teach math by hovering at a student's desk, flailing him verbally with criticism, there'd be a comeuppance in the principal's office.

But just click through the YouTube videos. There's the father, reportedly from Manitoba, who called another player a "midget" and then threatened "to cave in the glasses" of that boy's parent - all the while holding his baby daughter in his arms. Another 2013 video shows parents at a bantam playoff hockey game in Tweed, Ont., pummelling each other in the stands with 13- and 14-year-olds on the ice.

Last winter, the Vancouver Island Amateur Hockey Association threatened to ban spectators if behaviour didn't improve, then followed through with one-game suspensions to eight parents. Parents interviewed for this story described all manner of off-ice skirmishes: parking-lot faceoffs with coaches; sniping between mothers and fathers of opposing teams; the redfaced dad pacing the boards, bellowing insults at 10-year-old players. A Torontoarea father described attending a game where the parents berated the referee so viciously, play was stopped and the police were called. The players were 13-year-olds.

"What happens to these people?" asks Todd Miller, former president of Hockey Calgary, in his book Moron: The Behind the Scenes Story of Minor Hockey, which he wrote after resigning from the association in 2013, following a controversial blog post in which he used the m-word to describe parents. "They temporarily take off their hat of everyday life, and they put on a moron helmet. Would they act that way in front of their boss, or at a family function?" Tabatha Leonard certainly wouldn't, although she is unrepentant about her now notorious game-side behaviour when it comes to what she sees as rude parents or inept reffing. Her boundaries are clear: She never yells at players, and believes it's unsportsmanlike to cheer a penalty. "But I am there to stick up for my kid."

Still, she isn't quite sure what comes over her. From the beginning, she was the passionate parent, the one who insisted their eldest son start hockey at the age of three, so he wouldn't be left behind. (Her husband, who is more relaxed, now refuses to sit with her during games.)

"I will be the first to say we pushed them into hockey," she admits. "But listen, I have friends who put their kids on ice when they were one. So you think I'm crazy?" In those early years, she says, it was easy to get swept up in the competitive culture, even when her sons still spent ice time making snow angels. "I just got wrapped up in the hockey world way too early."

She remembers worrying too much about what other parents would think when her kid played badly. That would spill over into the drive home. "I would literally scream at him for not playing well, when he was six years old," she recalls with regret. "I look back now ... what was I thinking?" She doesn't have NHL stars in her eyes, either. But with so much time and money spent on the game, how can parents not get overly invested?

Think about this: As this hockey season ramps up, Jennifer Hicks, a Toronto blogger and long-time hockey mom, made news by suggesting that it was okay for parents not to attend every single game.

"It's as if parenting has become a competitive sport," she said in an interview with The Globe and Mail. "Like putting in face time at work, we have to put in the face time at games - in some ways to impress the other parents, rather than appease our own kids."

It's easy to see how that investment becomes toxic.

"It's the global warming of youth sport," says Mark Hyman, a sports management professor at George Washington University and the author of Until It Hurts, about adult pressure in youth sports. "It's not new, but the emotional temperature has been going up for a long time."

Hockey is not unique on this front: overly intense parents are also flipping out at soccer games, swim meets and dance competitions. But hockey is the national obsession, and dangling at the end of that childhood journey is what Miller calls the "illusion" of the NHL draft, or its fallback, the university scholarship. So parents become consumed with the desire for their kids to get better and move up to a better team each year.

Hyman tells his own story of parent obsession with his son, who was a competitive baseball pitcher, until, at 18, he ruptured a ligament in his elbow, an injury attributed to too much use at a young age.

That injury killed any chance at a college career. "The adults preferred winning too much - instead of protecting him, they let him down," Hyman recalls. "His life in baseball was way too important to me."

Hyman, who interviewed sports psychologists, researchers and parents for his book, says it's a difficult instinct to quell.

"It's in our DNA. We see ourselves in our children, and we see greatness in our children," he says. "If your child has scored a hat trick in an important game in front of 500 of your friends, that's a pretty powerful thing. It can feel like a validation for your parenting."

It all starts even before the first puck officially drops. "If you want to see incredible behaviour by reasonably intelligent people, go to the evaluation process," where coaches decide which level of team children should play at, says Miller, describing parents who jockey for the best placements, crowding around coaches to plead their child's case. In Calgary, he recalls, the league once identified teams by colours, to mask that they were different levels. "The kids just want to play," Miller says. "The parents don't want their kids on the 'B' team."

Playing hockey, like many competitive sports, costs thousands of dollars, and much more at higher levels, to say nothing of the time spent sitting in drafty rinks and in gridlock while commuting to games and tournaments. It's no wonder parents feel they have licence to harangue volunteer coaches and teenage referees.

"All of a sudden the payoff for what is supposed to be a learning experience, becomes 'If we don't win, we have wasted our money,' " says John O'Sullivan, the founder of the U.S.-based Changing the

Game charity.

With competition comes pressure. (One parent described watching a mother weep in the stands when her son, just six years old, scored on his own net.) Facebook - the focal point of bragging parents, only heightens the fear that everyone else's kids are racing past your own, O'Sullivan says.

And then there is the game itself: fastpaced, and aggressive. Emotions run high, and even when checking isn't allowed, kids get banged around, and some get hurt. It's hard for any parent to be completely immune - even Miller admits he's had his "moron" moments.

More worrisome, perhaps, is that some parents say they are nervous about speaking up about bad behaviour - by coaches or other parents - for fear there will be repercussions against their son or daughter. "You take any parent away from the hockey rink, they know what that line is," Miller says. "But they are concerned about the implications of calling people out."

"You don't want to be that parent," explained one mom, whose sons play in the Greater Toronto Hockey League, and who asked to be anonymous to avoid any fallout for them. She admits that she has struggled with knowing when and how to intervene. One weekend, she watched a father angrily and repeatedly snap his son's goalie mask on his face after a loss. Another time, the boy sitting beside her son in the locker room was sobbing, tears streaming unchecked down his face; when she asked his mother if he'd been hurt in the game, she was told no, but that "he knows exactly how much trouble he is going to be in at home for how he played today." As the Toronto mom says herself: "I know my kids have had not-very-fun rides home with their dad from the game."

For many young athletes, the end result of all this bad behaviour is that they lose their love for the game - the dropout rate peaks in early adolescence in all competitive sports. "Imagine if 70 per cent of the customers who went to Tim Hortons walked out one day and said: 'I am never going back,' " Hyman says. "In youth sports, we seem perfectly satisfied with this result."

Leonard still videotapes her eldest son's games so they can break them down afterward. But she is more easygoing with her youngest, Heiden, who also plays competitively, but is less receptive to parental critiquing. And she is now the first to caution other parents about falling into bad habits on the ride home. "I tell them: You think this is a huge deal right now. But you need to go and buy them a bag of chips and a pop, and say: 'Good job,' " Meanwhile, she says, she's not expecting to leave the sound booth any time soon; even with her stowed away, her 13-year-old son, Karsten, says "I can still hear her banging on the glass." That's code, he says, for "skate harder!"

Karsten says he doesn't mind - he says it even helps him play better. But given the pressure on young players these days in hyper-competitive sports, perhaps most parents watching eagle-eyed from the stands need to chant a different cheer.

Associated Graphic

Tabatha Leonard knows that she loses it when her son takes to the ice. Instead of watching games rinkside, she heads to a room where no one can hear her scream.


Tabatha Leonard of Madoc, Ont., started her elder son in hockey when he was just three years old. Her game-side behaviour is so notorious that her husband now refuses to sit next to her at the arena.


With a Steve Martin-curated show earning rave reviews in Los Angeles, and a new record price set at auction on Thursday night, the market for Lawren Harris has never been hotter. James Adams reports
Saturday, November 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R1

The Canadian art industry has long hoped that some way some day at least one of the country's certifiably great artists from the pre-Second World War era could experience the big wet kiss of international recognition.

Yes, Emily Carr, Lawren Harris, David Milne, Tom Thomson and J.W. Morrice have been embraced by non-Canadians over the decades but their numbers have been small, their impact on the global art world correspondingly so.

While Harris, Carr et al. have long been stars in Canada - indeed, interest in both the Group of Seven founder and Carr has, if anything, increased here in the past five years - in foreign climes none has enjoyed that synchronicity of widespread critical acclaim, institutional approbation, public popularity, gallerist tubthumping, auction fizz and the other fortuitous elements that seem necessary to raise high the artist's roof beam. Can this even be done so long after the fact?

Right now the big hope of the Great White North is Lawren Harris, 46 years dead as of Jan. 29, 2016. He's the subject of a largely acclaimed one-man show running since early October at the influential Hammer Museum in Los Angeles. Once The Idea of North finishes there, on Jan. 24 next year, its 30-plus paintings and sketches, done in the1920s and early 30s, travel to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (1.13-million visitors in 2014) for a three-month stand starting March 12. Impressive, certainly, but what makes its images of Dairy Queen sundae-like mountains, blasted trees and cold barren islands, um ... cool is that they've been curated by Steve Martin (with assists from Andrew Hunter, Canadian art curator at the Art Gallery of Ontario, and Cynthia Burlingham, the Hammer's deputy director, curatorial affairs). Martin, we've learned, has been a Harrishead for at least 15 years, to the point of owning three (!) of the man's paintings as part of an esteemed, if not especially large, collection of Eric Fischls, Picassos, de Koonings and Hoppers, among others. In short, the sort of company an artist could benefit from keeping.

The theory here is that if an American A-list celebrity/respected art collector such as Martin thinks Harris is terrific and if a prestigious showcase such as the Hammer in America's second-largest metropolis cares enough to indulge his taste and if thousands of Angelenos and turistas arte make the drive down Wilshire Blvd. and like what they see, well, it's just a hop, skip and a high jump to the production of ... Lawren Harris, Superstar.

Harris has enjoyed foreign attention previously, even recently.

The Dulwich Picture Gallery in South London, for example, included many of his paintings in its well-received Painting Canada: Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven exhibition of 2010-11. In 2000, Hunter curated a concise retrospective of Harris's complete oeuvre at the Americas Society in Manhattan,which then went the next year to the McMichael Canadian Art Collection northwest of Toronto.

But the attention has been more sporadic than sustained.

Here, of course, Harris is unavoidable and without equal.

Just this Thursday evening in Toronto three of his oils sold at live auction for a staggering total of almost $9.5-million. One of the works, Mountain and Glacier, set a record for a Harris at Canadian auction by going for $4.602million. The Vancouver Art Gallery, which hosted a major survey of the man in spring 2014, has 82 Harrises in its permanent collection, the AGO 207; as one long-time observer of the national scene remarked recently: "You'd be hard-pressed to say Lawren Harris is not well-represented in museums across Canada." Harris paintings, oil sketches and drawings sold at auction here, in the meantime, have grossed a total of $110-million, the highest of any Canuck artist, living or dead. Six years ago, Toronto collector/dealer/scholar Ash Prakash dropped almost $9-million at one auction to win four Harris oils, including $3.51million for a small 1926 preparatory sketch, The Old Stump, Lake Superior, a previous record-setter.Today works by the artist occupy 13 positions in the Top 25 Canadian paintings sold at auction; of the 13 paintings, nine have been sold since 2009.

By contrast, Harris's presence in U.S. institutions and private collections is "minimal," according to Vancouverite David Heffel, whose eponymous auction house has knocked down eight of those 13 MVP Harrises, two of them on Thursday. How minimal is hard to determine since Harris has yet to benefit from a catalogue raisonné.

It's known there are two fine Harris landscapes at the Hood Museum of Art in Hanover, N.H., one abstract painting from 193437 in the Yale University Art Gallery, another abstract, painted from 1936-40, at Manchester, N.H.'s Currier Museum. (Harris and his second wife, Bess, lived in New Hampshire and New Mexico from 1934 to 1940.) Heffel confirms he and brother Robert have sold "several" Harrises, even a "major" one on occasion, to U.S. collectors as well as to connoisseurs outside North America, including England.

"More recently, we have seen an increase in inquiries about Harris masterpieces, major canvases and the like [from U.S. art lovers]." Still, Harris holdings south of the border are neither ample nor, it seems, of major heft: Indeed, in the current Hammer show, 90 per cent of its exhibits are from institutional or corporate lenders, all Canadian.

A mere four are from private collectors. (None of Martin's holdings is exhibited.)

So ... are we then on the cusp of great things for Lawren Stewart Harris outside our dominion?

Perhaps the best answer is a firm maybe. Two of the three Harrises auctioned Thursday went to telephone bidders, raising the spectre of a possible foreign buyer. Moreover, the record-setting Mountain and Glacier is a scene very much in the style and theme of what Steve Martin has chosen to present, right down to the year in which it was painted, 1930. Only last month David Heffel told a Los Angeles Times reporter he believes the Hammer show "could prove a watershed moment for Harris." That same reporter also wondered aloud to Heffel if the exhibition might help create a situation wherein "a great Harris comes up for auction [and] it gets sold in New York rather Toronto or Vancouver. 'Are [you] working against your own futures?' " (Heffel: "I think the great Harrises will always be aggressively sought after by Canadians who prefer to pay in Canadian dollars rather than U.S. dollars.") Of course, we all know feelings can be based as much on wishful thinking and hype as informed conjecture and sober prognostication. Remember the excitement in Canada when the 2012 instalment of Germany's dOCUMENTA presented several paintings by Carr, the first Canadian ever to be exhibited posthumously there? Ditto the arrival of the Carr, O'Keeffe, Kahlo: Places of Their Own exhibition at the Santa Fe Museum of Fine Arts and Washington's National Museum of Women in Art in 2001-02. "Who is this genius Emily? Roll over, Georgia and Frida, and tell Tamara de Lempicka the news!" Alas, these moments, finally, seemed to intensify and magnify appreciation here more than there.

Moreover, as Linda Rodeck, senior Canadian art specialist at Waddington's, another large Canadian auction house, notes, the participation of non-Canadians in auctions in Canada has been small even as records have tumbled like dice. Based on recent registrations of bidders for the two large live sales of Canadian fine art Waddington's hosts each year, only 4 per cent have been non-Canadian. "So even if a show like the Lawren Harris doubles the interest, it's still not going to be a significant demographic for us."

Where Rodeck has seen an increase in action from foreigners is on the consigning front. Today she estimates 20 per cent of what she receives for bidding is from the U.S. or overseas sources. "I don't know what to attribute it to. Maybe it is an effect of shows like the Dulwich and Steve Martin's . "

Whatever the explanation, the result is works by Canadian artists being repatriated home for sale to Canadian buyers, rather than Brand Canada being extended overseas! One firm measure of a Harris uptick internationally will be two rises - one in the number of foreign buyers (attracted, in part, by the soft Canadian dollar) participating at auction here or striking privatetreaty sales, the other in the prices paid for prime Harrises.

How many of those are out there still in private hands?

Again, the lack of a catalogue raisonné hinders that assessment.

Fifteen years ago there was talk that pretty much all the masterpieces of the Group of Seven and their associates had been spoken for. Henceforth, the reasoning went, buyers at auction would have to look to Montreal's Beaver Hall Group or Toronto's Painters Eleven for their art fix.

Yet every year, as Heffel's Thursday sale demonstrated, some pricey pictures by the country's bluest-chip artists find their way to auction.

One hurdle any foreign buyer of Harris will face (and has) is the Canadian Cultural Property Export and Import Act. Drafted in 1977, it requires the non-Canadian purchaser of, say, a painting 50 years of age or older with a "fair market value" of more than $15,000 to obtain an export permit. If the painting is determined to be significant to "national heritage," the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board can delay its departure anywhere from three months to two years. The intention is to give a "Canadian collecting institution" - if an interested one exists - the opportunity to purchase the painting from the owner. There are other rules. But suffice to say, the relatively few Harris paintings that have made it to foreign shores have done so without being ensnared by CPERB. This scenario likely should continue - unless, perhaps, a mania for the man grips art lovers in Boston, Qatar and/or Hong Kong ("Icebergs, I must have icebergs!") and suddenly Canadian owners of Harrises decide to meet the demand.

Waddington's Rodeck sounds a cautionary note here. "Sometimes what happens, the unintended consequence, is that many things by the artist come up on the market and you have what is essentially a glut ... and so prices actually get a little soft.

Another thing an important show like the Martin does - and is meant to do - is to expose an audience to 'the best of the best,' the most interesting Harrises or Jack Bushes or Carrs ... And what you may find is that those things coming on the market as a result, because people are speculating that this is a great opportunity, seem to be wanting. They're not museumquality pieces."

Robert Heffel chooses to be more bullish. Shows like the Hammer Harris and the Dulwich Carr are "the tip of the iceberg," part of a rising tide of appreciation "for our art and culture.

And I'm not just talking the market aspect, I'm talking about the whole cultural/museum/art publication/art book ecosystem."

Chimes in his brother: "Three years ago you wouldn't have sold the second most-expensive painting in the world to a mainland Chinese art collector let alone 15 years ago" - a reference to billionaire businessman Li Yiqian's Nov. 9 purchase of Modigliani's Reclining Nude for $170million (U.S.). Maybe these are the days of miracles and wonders.

Associated Graphic

Steve Martin, who owns three works by Lawren Harris, is the curator of an exhibit of the artist's work, The Idea of North, at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.


It was estimated Lawren Harris's Mountain and Glacier (1930) would sell for $1-million to $1.5-million at the Heffel auction on Thursday.


Spy scandal drove scientist from Canada
Brilliant researcher was acquitted of wrongdoing after being accused during the Gouzenko affair, but left due to lingering suspicions
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, November 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S10

David Shugar was one of the most gifted young scientists in the country, with a McGill PhD in his pocket and every expectation that a brilliant career would lie ahead until, at the age of 30, he was caught in the coils of the bitter ideological rivalries of the 20th century. A veteran of the Royal Canadian Navy and a researcher in the arcane field of biophysics, he saw his name blackened and career cut short in this country when Igor Gouzenko, the man with the pillow case on his head, alleged that Dr. Shugar was part of a secret spy ring run out of the Soviet embassy in Ottawa. Moscow was after atomic secrets then shared among only Britain, the United States and Canada.

The story is well known: Late one night in early September, 1945, less than a month after the Second World War ended, 26year-old Mr. Gouzenko had walked out of the Soviet embassy where he worked coding and decoding messages, taking more than 100 documents stuffed in his shirt. Agitated, scared and speaking hardly any English, he had difficulty at first convincing the RCMP, then government officials, that he and his family needed asylum.

His dramatic defection, and the duplicity of the USSR, our wartime ally, was not made public for five months while Prime Minister William Lyon McKenzie King discussed the situation with the Americans and the British and formed a plan of action. That involved extending the War Measures Act and appointing a royal commission headed by two Supreme Court judges to weigh Mr. Gouzenko's sensational revelations.

The arrests began in the early hours of Feb. 15, 1946, when David Shugar and 10 others were picked up, detained at Rockcliffe air force barracks in Ottawa and held incommunicado, their tiny rooms lit night and day with a 100-watt bulb. Dr. Shugar did not know why he was there, since it was only after the arrests that the prime minister made public Mr. Gouzenko's defection - an event now considered the start of the Cold War. (Sir Winston Churchill made his famous Iron Curtain speech a month later.)

More detentions followed.

Habeas corpus was suspended under the War Measures Act and the detainees had no access to legal counsel while the RCMP grilled them, attempting to obtain confessions. Finally on March 8, 1946, Dr. Shugar appeared before the Kellock-Taschereau Royal Commission, where he was questioned about whom he knew and whether he was a communist.

The commission was charged with fact finding and was not a court of law. After Dr. Shugar's testimony, he was released but expected to be rearrested and brought to trial. The magistrate, however, refused to indict him for lack of evidence that he had broken the law.

Of the 21 people fingered by Mr. Gouzenko and detained, Dr. Shugar was the last survivor. He died at his home in Warsaw on Oct. 31 at the age of 100.

His death was announced by his niece, Harriet Shugar of Dorval, Que., who had frequently visited him in Poland and created a Facebook page to tell the story of the injustice that had been done to him 69 years ago. "My uncle was never a communist," she said in an interview. "He was an outstanding academic and he and [his wife] Grace were active in early days of the labour union movement. That's how they met."

Though he was not indicted after that first arrest, the Commission in its published report strongly implied that he had betrayed his country and after scraping together additional information from the other witnesses, it pushed again - successfully - for an indictment.

Dr. Shugar appeared in court on Aug. 7, 1946, and his trial began in November.

The case against him rested on two things: that he was a member of the Canadian Association of Scientific Workers, which the Royal Commission considered a communist organization; and that he had once told Sam Carr, the chief organizer for the Labour Progressive Party (formerly called the Communist Party of Canada) in general terms that he had worked on submarine detection devices when he was in the Canadian navy. Mr. Carr reported to his handler at the Soviet embassy that a scientist codenamed Prometheus could be a good source of future information. Dr. Shugar told the commission he had promised nothing to Sam Carr, whose report to his boss Dr. Shugar termed "presumptuous."

"You can't separate out Shugar's case from the fairly concerted attack the government launched on the Canadian Association of Scientific Workers - he had been instrumental in getting that off the ground," said Reg Whitaker, adjunct professor at the University of Victoria and the author of several authoritative books about Canada and the Cold War. "The government was not happy having unionized scientists. There were issues about the free transmission of scientific knowledge, which ran into security concerns."

In the end, 11 people, including Sam Carr, were convicted and sentenced for violating the Official Secrets Act. The one with the highest profile was Alan Nunn May, a British physicist with the Canada Atomic Energy Project during the war, who had by then returned to England, where he served 10 years. While in Canada, he had given a Russian contact samples of Canadian uranium isotopes.

Although Dr. Shugar was acquitted, the published report of the Royal Commission was read by thousands of people - an unlikely bestseller - and it painted him as having been disloyal to Canada.

He was fired from his job as a medical researcher at the Department of Health and Welfare and could not find other work. The navy, meanwhile, refused to pay him the out-of-work veteran's allowance he was entitled to.

Unemployed, broke and swamped by legal bills, he wrote many desperate, angry letters to government officials and to the prime minister, demanding that they clear his name and withdraw the commission's report from circulation, all to no avail. He was reduced to writing articles for a popular science journal under a pseudonym until friends recommended him for a job at the Pasteur Institute in Paris.

He and his wife left Canada in 1948 and he worked as a researcher at the Institute, then taught at the Sorbonne for the next two years until he was let go due to pressure (he was unofficially told) from the U.S. government.

Meanwhile, the Canadian navy relented and he was able to get a small veteran's allowance, which was still more than what he was paid in France.

He next took a research job at the University of Brussels, in Belgium, where he initiated studies of the properties of nucleic acid constituents and their analogs.

But after a year, this job also ended. In 1952, he received an invitation from the noted physicist Leopold Infeld to join him at the University of Warsaw. Prof. Infeld had worked with Albert Einstein at Princeton and later spent 12 years at the University of Toronto before returning to Poland, his birthplace. Dr. Shugar and his wife accepted his offer, moved to Poland and restarted their careers in a foreign language that both of them had to learn. But he always considered himself Canadian and never gave up his citizenship.

David Shugar was born Sept. 10, 1915, in Jozefow, Poland, one of five children - two girls and three boys - of Joseph and Reizl Shugar, who were observant Yiddishspeaking Jews. When David was 3, his father decided to take the family to Canada - a move that may have saved their lives. In 1942, the Jews of Jozefow (about 1,500 people) were all massacred by the Nazis.

Life in Montreal was hard.

Joseph's work as an egg-candler did not bring in enough money for high-quality medical care and his two daughters, Esther and Helen, died of pneumonia in their teens. Candling reveals if an egg is fertile; fertilized eggs are not kosher. It was David's job as a boy to deliver on his bicycle the eggs his father had approved for consumption by his Jewish customers.

The family lived on Duluth St., near St. Urbain, the crowded, argumentative, immigrant area peopled with rabbinical students, junk dealers, Trotskyites, pimps and poolroom sharks, later described by Mordecai Richler in his novels. Like Mr. Richler, young David attended Baron Byng High School. When he graduated, he had achieved the highest grades of any student in Quebec and received a scholarship to McGill.

There he met Grace Wales, a bright and beautiful education student from Saint-Andréd'Argenteuil, who shared his commitment to social justice.

After he received his PhD in 1940, the two married, to the consternation of David's parents, since Grace was not Jewish. She stood by him through all the postwar humiliations, and their close-knit marriage lasted until Grace's death in 2013.

In Poland, Dr. Shugar organized the Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics, part of the Polish Academy of Sciences. He also set up a laboratory of biological physical chemistry, which eventually became the department of molecular biology that he headed until his official retirement in 1985. He is credited with creating a Polish school of molecular biophysics, pursuing studies in mutagenesis, protein kinases, photochemistry of proteins and nucleic acids (large biomolecules essential for all life, nucleic acids include DNA and RNA). He wrote or co-wrote some 400 papers and taught hundreds of students now working in labs across Europe and North America.

"As a result of his scientific status, he was permitted to travel freely even when [the] Iron Curtain was down," his niece recalled.

"He came every year to work at Laval University and at the University of Quebec. He visited family and he would work when he was here."

Meanwhile, Grace took her doctorate in psycholinguistics and became a noted professor on the psychology faculty of Warsaw University.

Once the Red Scare abated, they thought of moving back to Canada, but tragedy intervened when their teenage daughter, Barbara, the couple's only child, fell and broke her leg on a Canada-bound ship. The leg would not heal and an orthopedic surgeon in Montreal diagnosed cancer. They sought treatment for Barbara in England because it was closer to Poland, and though her leg was amputated, it was too late to save her.

After her burial in Warsaw, Grace would not leave the city.

Dr. Shugar won many Polish and international prizes and honours but the one that meant most to him was being inducted into the Royal Society of Canada in 1999. During the year before his death, his niece petitioned the Harper government to apologize for the treatment he received in the 1940s but there was no response.

Dr. Shugar's cremated remains were buried in Warsaw this week in the same grave as his wife and daughter, with busloads of his colleagues, friends and students in attendance. He leaves his brother Hyman and many nieces and nephews.

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Associated Graphic

David Shugar and his wife, Grace, leave an Ottawa courthouse in March, 1946. The prominent scientist was questioned by the Kellock-Taschereau Royal Commission about whether he was a communist. P.


Despite his treatment during and after the Gouzenko affair, which included having his career torpedoed, Dr. Shugar always considered himself Canadian and never gave up his citizenship.


School board trustee Michael Ford is soft-spoken, earnest and a good listener. He's also a fan of Justin Trudeau. Eric Andrew-Gee finds that, in his manner and lifestyle, the younger Ford is everything his uncles Rob and Doug are not
Saturday, November 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page M1

Last February, in probably his last act as a private person, Rob Ford's nephew changed his name. Then a pudgy 19-year-old Humber College student with a high voice and a boyish smile, Michael Douglas Aldo Ford Stirpe dropped the "Aldo" and the "Stirpe."

Like nearly all legal name changes in the province, this one was duly published in the Ontario Gazette, a strange compendium of government business that virtually no one reads.

But in a season when his family consumed Toronto's attention with lurid scandal and improbable political resilience, the rechristening of Michael Ford became a news story.

That July, Mr. Ford entered the city council race for Etobicoke's Ward 2 - and when reporters learned about the decision to jettison his father's last name, it was interpreted as a ploy.

"Judge Michael Ford on his merits and not the surname he legally just acquired in Feb. for political purposes," tweeted sports journalist Mike Beauvais.

The charge of opportunism was hardly dispelled when the votes were counted in October. By then, he was running for school board trustee - Rob Ford had been diagnosed with cancer and dropped his mayoral re-election bid to contest his old council seat. Michael Ford received almost twice as many votes as the incumbent.

In person, Mr. Ford, with a slightly anxious, highly earnest manner, hardly fits the Machiavellian mould in which others have tried to cast him.

Now a year into his tenure, and giving his most extensive interview, he acknowledges that his famous name helped him get elected, but insists that ditching "Stirpe" had nothing to do with campaign strategy.

"I've always been known as Michael Ford," he said in an interview this week. "I've wanted to change it for a long time."

If the explanation sounds improbable, it should not. To spend time with the young trustee is to learn that nothing is straightforward about his relationship to the Ford name.

A beneficiary of the family's electoral fairy dust, he is also a member of its most tragic and dysfunctional branch. And though he remains a staunch defender of the Ford legacy, his personality and politics are starkly different from those of his uncles.

If Mr. Ford is still defined by his membership in the city's most controversial political clan, it is despite his efforts to transcend it.

"I'm a year into my job as Michael Ford," he says. "Not Rob. Not Doug."

The young man standing in the parking lot of West Humber Collegiate does not look like a nephew of Rob Ford; he looks like his antithesis.

Start with the car. The Ford men are known to drive huge black Cadillac Escalades. Michael Ford, meeting The Globe and Mail at one of the schools he represents, drives a much smaller, white Jeep.

In his manner and lifestyle, the younger Ford is everything Rob and Doug are not: soft-spoken where the uncles are bombastic, bashful where they are brash, gentle where they are aggressive.

And if the elder Fords could often be juvenile, with their name-calling and tantrums, Michael has the mien of a much older person.

"I know you're gonna think I'm 40, but I write everything down," he said, clutching a notebook as he paced through the halls of the Toronto District School Board's head office in North York.

His precocity can be startling.

His uncles were famous for their indifference to the details of policy and their crude rhetorical style, but Michael Ford already sounds like a seasoned lawmaker, freely using bureaucratic phrases like "touch base," "going forward" and "stakeholder."

He becomes animated when speaking about the Education Act or pet programs such as a deal for some Toronto schools to partner with IBM on tech skills training in classrooms.

The wonkish tone is hardearned, his colleagues say.

"In those first few months, he'd always be carrying around these big binders of information," said Marit Stiles, a leftleaning downtown trustee. "I would say what he lacks in experience he makes up for in his interests. He's not afraid to ask questions."

That grown-up tone startled some colleagues on the board who were leery of working with a Ford, never mind one as young as Michael.

"I think there was an idea of who I was gonna be. People were a little on edge," he said.

"Within a few months on the board, that thought was eliminated."

His fellow policy-makers might have been forgiven for expecting Mr. Ford to display the bellicose, lone-wolf style of Rob and Doug Ford. Instead, the nephew goes out of his way to be conciliatory and moderate.

Even committed Ford foes have come around on the family's upstart. Andray Domise, who was briefly Michael Ford's rival for the Ward 2 council seat, has worked with Michael in his capacity as trustee, promoting community initiatives in Etobicoke.

"Whereas his uncles have been very loud and very wrong, he seems willing to sit quietly and listen," Mr. Domise said.

Mr. Ford is coy about his political affiliation, but on social issues he is unabashedly progressive. He marched in the Pride parade this year, an event Rob Ford controversially refused to attend while mayor.

Michael's lifestyle is closer to that of the downtowners who deplore the Fords than it is to his that of his uncles. He lives in a condo on the lake shore and goes on bike rides to the Leslie Street Spit. He drinks green tea from Starbucks rather than Tim Hortons coffee. Even his hair sets him apart: rather than a shock of the natural blonde Ford hair, Michael has a peppering of platinum blonde dye in his bangs.

He is also fiercely disciplined about his diet and lost 105 pounds in the past eight months.

"You have to eliminate ... the shitty food. Let's be honest here," he said. (Unlike some other Fords, Michael almost never curses, and then only sheepishly.)

Even when he was obese, Mr. Ford was less physically imposing than his uncles. It was one of the reasons he never really enjoyed football - practically a religion in the Ford family - despite playing for two seasons at Richview Collegiate.

"Football wasn't really my cup of tea," he said, in perhaps the least Fordian sentence ever spoken.

Even less Fordian may be Michael's affinity for Justin Trudeau.

"Personally, I think he's a great guy," Mr. Ford said. "I love his passion for the environment."

(In the tape that undid his mayoralty, Rob Ford, high on crack, is heard calling Mr. Trudeau a "fag.") None of these differences detract from the fact that Michael is a proud Ford.

After spending an afternoon with The Globe this week, he called a reporter back the next day to reiterate how much he loved his uncles. "I just want to make sure that came across," he said.

If Mr. Ford's maturity sets him apart from other Fords, it is also a quality that seems to have been forged in the family's discordant mixture of political service and domestic chaos.

His was a childhood was rife with trauma.

Mr. Ford's mother, Kathy, has been a long-time heroin addict.

He was mainly raised by his grandparents, Diane and Doug Sr. His father, Ennio Stirpe, was convicted of manslaughter when Michael was very young after fatally shooting one of Kathy's boyfriends with a shotgun. Later, he was re-imprisoned for a vicious knife attack on an exgirlfriend. Michael and Kathy used to visit him monthly at the Kingston Penitentiary.

Rather than crushing him, these nightmarish episodes seem to have left Mr. Ford with a remarkably serene attitude towards life.

"I've seen both my parents with issues, you know. But you can never look at the negative side of life," he said. "You always take the positive in everything. Something sets you back and you learn from it and move forward."

Lacking a father, and to a large extent a mother, Mr. Ford said his uncles became surrogate parents.

When he was a city councillor, Rob often brought young Michael to council meetings.

What might have been a chore for most kids Michael found riveting. Soon, he was learning the ins and outs of city hall.

"I knew when I was 10 years old how to move an amendment," Mr. Ford said with a smile.

In 2010, he volunteered on Rob's mayoral campaign, and later ran errands in the mayor's office, turning up on City Hall security footage picking up his uncle's Escalade from the parking lot when Rob took cabs on his nights out.

Early exposure taught Michael the family brand of politics. Despite all their differences, Rob's influence is still apparent in Michael.

"We don't have money trees in the backyard," he said at one point, standing in the executive offices of the TDSB.

Later, he took a shot at the Fords' least favourite mode of transport, the streetcar - albeit in a characteristically mild way: "Sometimes they're not the best mode of transportation, I must say."

His family loyalty sometimes prevents him from speaking out.

He struggles, for instance, with the subject of Rob's many recorded ethnic slurs and misogynist outbursts.

"Of course, I would denounce it - if it wasn't him," Mr. Ford said.

The question of whether Rob was a good mayor also leads his nephew into a bout of hemming and hawing.

"That's an interesting question," he said.

"Yeah, I would say yeah," he managed with a grimace. "He served the people and he did that well."

Finally, Mr. Ford matches the political ambition of his uncles.

He briefly considered running for TDSB vice-chair earlier this week, which, at the age of 21 and still a Humber College business student, takes chutzpah.

And he has not ruled out running for council in Ward 2 next election - or, one day, the mayoralty.

Above all, though, and despite his many family entanglements, Mr. Ford wants to be known as his own man. In his interview with The Globe, he referred over and over to his distinctiveness.

"Whatever issues may come up, whatever Rob may say, whatever Doug may say, where I go, 'God!' ... I just focus on my beliefs, on my communities and on representing them," he said.

Contrary to what many have assumed, he says his uncles did not press him to run for office.

"Opposite, opposite, opposite," he said. "That was my desire.

That was my will, not my family's."

Nor, he said, is his political career about carrying on the family legacy, a goal with which Fords are known to be obsessed.

"No, no, no," he said, growing adamant. "This is me. This is about my ambitions."

Follow me on Twitter: @ericandrewgee

Associated Graphic


Colleagues of school board trustee Michael Ford have noted that his hard work has made up for his inexperience.


As the UNHCR prepares a list of Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey for Canada to consider, The Globe's senior international correspondent Mark MacKinnon receives exclusive access to a screening centre in Amman and finds many are as anxious as they are hopeful
Saturday, November 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A12

Mohtaz clutched the sheaf of papers tightly in his hand and looked skywards. "We're going to Canada," the 30-year-old Syrian man said softly, disbelievingly, as a grin stretched slowly across his goateed face.

Mohtaz and his family are one step closer to Canada, anyway. The papers he was clutching included a tiny white square with the number "1" written on it in blue ink. That means Mohtaz, his wife and their two young children will be on the list of up to 10,000 names that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees office in Jordan will put forward to the Canadian government for consideration under the Liberal government's plan to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of February.

"Canada is a civilized and good place," Mohtaz said. (Last names are being withheld from this article to protect identities until the selection process is complete.) Before the war, he worked as a salesman in the city of Deraa, which in early 2011 became the first place to rise up against Bashar alAssad's rule. "I have no work in Jordan. Life is very difficult. We need help. I dream of being a happy person again."

One more hurdle remains for Mohtaz and others who received the treasured blue "1" on Friday: an interview with the Canadian government officials who are arriving in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to conduct a last round of medical and security screening before the refugees are allowed to board planes to Canada. Mohtaz and several others who made the UNHCR list were told the final interviews will start Dec. 5 at a facility near Jordan's Marka airport, suggesting the airlift to Canada could start shortly afterward.

The UNHCR's screening of its list for Canada was at full tilt on Friday in Amman, as 500 Syrian refugees - heads of their respective families - crowded into the metal-roofed hangar that is ordinarily the registration area for newly arrived refugees. Each of the 500 had received a mobile-phone message from the UN refugee agency suggesting his or her family might qualify for resettlement in Canada.

Another 1,000 will be interviewed on Saturday.

The specifics of the resettlement program continue to shift even at this late hour. UNHCR in Jordan was asked Thursday to increase its list from 7,000 to 10,000 names, while Lebanon and Turkey will each put forward smaller numbers. Not included in the UNHCR numbers - but part of the overall 25,000 - are refugees being sponsored by church groups and other non-government organizations.

The Canadian government is planning to charter commercial aircraft to fly hundreds of people every day from the Middle East. Canadian military transport planes may also need to be used to meet the Feb. 29 deadline. Sources have told The Globe and Mail that Canada has asked Jordan if it can use the Marka airport as a hub for the region-wide operation.

The text messages sent to refugees in Jordan could prove to be life changing. The recipients are among the poorest and neediest of the 633,000 Syrian refugees registered in Jordan. Nearly all of them live on less than Jordan's official poverty line of $3.20 (U.S.) a day.

But being at the bottom rung of the economic ladder has put them at the top of the list for a move to Canada.

One by one, the heads of household - most of them men, but also many women made widows by Syria's 41/2-year-old civil war - went into interview rooms with UNHCR case officers, who took iris scans to confirm the refugees' identities and then quizzed them about their situation in Jordan, the whereabouts of their family members and their readiness to move to Canada by the end of February. Nearly all those invited for interviews were families registered for several years with UNHCR in Jordan and thus people well-known to the agency.

Karen Whiting, a senior protection officer, said that - contrary to some media reports - the Canadian government had given UNHCR no instruction to exclude single men from the process. However, because claimants were being prioritized based on need and vulnerability, few if any unaccompanied men will likely make the refugee agency's list.

Also on the list will be individuals identified as in need of immediate protection, including some who told the refugee agency they were gay, lesbian or transgender.

Many of those on the UNHCR shortlist confessed they knew little about Canada beyond facts they'd learned in a quick Internet search.

"I know it's in North America, and they speak English and French, and it has one of the best refugee programs in the world," said Mohammed, a 41-year-old widower with fast-greying hair who worked before the war at a fast-food restaurant in Deraa. His wife died last year while they were living as refugees, and Mohammed has struggled to raise his six-year-old daughter and four-year-old son on his own. "I just want to give them an education," he said. Like nearly all the refugees invited by UNHCR on Friday, he spoke only Arabic.

The UNHCR office was filled with as much anxiety as hope on Friday. A few, like Mohtaz, were openly elated at the idea of leaving behind hardscrabble lives in Jordan for a chance at something new and better in Canada. But many more looked nervous - worried that they might not be chosen, anxious about what it would mean if they were.

"I have a question: How will we live in Canada?

Will they put us in camps?" asked Fatima, a 60year-old widow, turning the tables on the UNHCR staffer interviewing her.

"Only for a little while," the interviewer replied, admitting that some refugees might live temporarily on military bases after arriving in Canada.

Fatima, dressed in a black head-to-toe abaya, looked unimpressed. She and her 18-year-old son, Ibrahim, have struggled since arriving in Jordan from the shattered city of Homs; like many of those interviewed Friday, she lives in an apartment on the outskirts of Amman, and Ibrahim had to give up school to take a job at a windowblinds factory to help pay the rent. But at least in Jordan she understands the language and culture.

Fatima said she had agreed to come for the interview at the urging of her son, who was far keener on trying to make a new life somewhere else. "I know nothing about Canada," she conceded. "But my only dream in life is a future for my boy. He wants to be a soccer player - I want him to become a doctor."

She barely smiled when she was handed the treasured "1" at the end of her interview.

Others left dejected after being handed the dreaded "2," turned away because a family member was no longer in Jordan, or because one of the family wasn't properly registered with UNHCR.

Some of those called for interviews left with a "3," meaning a decision had been deferred for the time being.

"Our papers weren't complete," said 35-year-old Sundus, cradling her four-month-old daughter, one of three children she and her husband hoped to bring to Canada. Tears welled in her eyes as she and her family slowly left the UNHCR building. "Of course, we're upset. They told us to go back home and wait for a call."

Others were going through the agony of having to decide whether to go to Canada, which would mean leaving behind friends and relatives who were not invited for UNHCR interviews.

"If they don't accept my brother, I won't go," said Alia, a 28-year-old mother of two young children. Her husband had been killed in the fighting in Deraa, and her brother Amr and his family were not on the UNHCR's interview list.

"It's difficult to explain to people why they're not included," said Ms. Whiting, the UNHCR officer. But the agency, she added, is hoping to hand Canada a list with as few question marks on it as possible.

Like all 89 UNHCR staff who were giving up their Friday-Saturday weekend here, Ms. Whiting - an Ottawa native who has been living in Jordan since 2013 - was volunteering her time on Friday.

The aid workers say they're excited by the Canadian program and happy to help out. There's evident hope that the effort will be deemed a success and that other countries might decide to follow Canada's lead.

"We spend a lot of time dealing with challenging issues. This is a rare opportunity for our staff to speak to [the refugees] about something that's positive and uplifting," Ms. Whiting said. "For me, as a Canadian, I'm very proud that our government is taking its responsibility seriously."

One refugee who had no qualms about leaving the Middle East for a new life in Canada was 30year-old Firas, who has struggled for the past 21/2years with the twin challenges of life in exile and telling his conservative family that he's gay.

He was able to hide his sexuality from his family while living on his own in relatively cosmopolitan Damascus before the war, but he had no choice but to come out once the family was briefly thrust back together as refugees in Jordan.

Firas said some of his relatives attacked him physically when he told them the truth. He's since been kicked out of a succession of apartments in Amman and Aqaba by prejudiced landlords. "They judge me because of the way I dress and the way I talk," he said, clad in a tight sweater and switching between softly spoken Arabic and halting English.

On Friday, he was handed the piece of paper with the little blue "1" on it. He and his 18-year-old brother Mazen, the only member of his family unbothered when Firas announced he was gay, are on the shortlist to go to Canada.

"It's like a dream come true for me. I've been looking at what life is like in Vancouver and Toronto and Montreal. I've been reading about the marriage laws," Firas said, exhaling. "It will be a completely different world for me."

Associated Graphic

Saja, a mother of three, holds her refugee application but is leaving the screening centre dejected. She was assigned a '3,' meaning a decision has been deferred because her husband is not present in Jordan.

Syrian refugees line up on the right for their UNHCR interview or wait for their final interview with Canadian authorities in Amman.


Syrian refugees who are assigned a '1' during interviews will be on a list of as many as 10,000 names that the UNHCR office in Jordan will offer to Ottawa for resettlement in Canada.

Three new books offer different ways of being queer in the face of a single story
Saturday, November 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R19

Under the Udala Trees By Chinelo Okparanta Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 336 pages, $37 God in Pink By Hasan Namir Arsenal Pulp Press 158 pages, $15.95

Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home By Leah Lakshmi PiepznaSamarasinha Arsenal Pulp Press 240 pages, $18.95

How are we to engage with the countries of the world where LGBT people face the worst forms of state-condoned violence?

This is the question underlining two novels released this fall, both starring queer protagonists. Under the Udala Trees, the first novel by Chinelo Okparanta, is about a queer woman growing up in Nigeria, where, today, same-sex relationships are criminalized and punishable with up to 14 years in prison, or, in the north, punishments that include death by stoning. God in Pink is Hasan Namir's debut. It focuses on gay men in Iraq during the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. In the story, Ramy and his lovers face the threat of torture, rape, and assassination - carried out or condoned by the authorities.

Okparanta and Namir are of the same generation of writers, both children of the eighties, and by strange coincidence both emigrated at the age of 10 from the place they now write about (Okparanta's family moved to the United States, Namir's to Canada). Their writing shows a number of strong parallels as well, ones that go beyond representing queer repression.

Both novels open in war zones.

In Under the Udala Trees it's the Nigerian Civil (Nigerian-Biafran) War, 1968. Ijeoma, 11, lives with her parents in Ojoto, on the losing Biafran side and dangerously close to the Nigerian border. For Ramy, the student nearing the end of his studies in God in Pink, it's Baghdad, 2003. Importantly, both novels go beyond portraying their respective country as simply war-torn, whether by continuing far into the peace that followed (Under the Udala Trees) or treating war as background (God in Pink).

For now, we'll simply note the wars are there at the outset.

Both protagonists (no spoiler - this happens early) lose their father at the hands of the state. Ijeoma's father, despondent at what has come of Biafra, refuses to take shelter during a Nigerian air strike. Years before the novel opens, Saddam executed Ramy's father for performing Shiite ceremonies.

And that raises a third parallel: tribal, sectarian antagonisms crop up in both works. Ijeoma's first love is star-crossed: Ijeoma is Igbo, a Christian. When Biafra seceded from Nigeria it was along pre-colonial ethnic lines: Biafra was predominantly Igbo. Ijeoma's love, Amina, is Hausa, a Muslim group predominant in northern Nigeria.

The lovers are discovered and separated. Ijeoma is sent back to her mother for Bible study (the instruction backfires: it only shows Ijeoma the faulty logic of her mother's interpretation). One lesson strays from the theme of homosexuality. Leviticus 19: "thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed."

"You're Igbo. That girl is Hausa.

Even if she were to be a boy, don't you see that the Igbo and Hausa would mean the mingling of seeds?" Adaora admonishes her daughter. "Are you forgetting what they did to us during the war? ... Have you forgotten that it was her people who killed your father?" In Ramy's Iraq, the widening faultline is between Sunni and Shia Muslims. "During Saddam's reign, we had no checkpoints, but now there are too many of them.

There are Sunni and Shia areas, a distinction we didn't have before."

These similarities may just be coincidences, but I read Okparanta and Namir as engaging in a similar artistic project. Placing the queer within a historically specific context rather than a nebulous timelessness means acknowledging that the treatment of queer people is contextual, and the thing about context is it can change. Even when well-intentioned, so much of what is written about LGBT-hate laws ignores the historical context of those laws' creation, which can end up being reductive and defeatist. These novels, by contrast, even when shining a light on the worst atrocities, offer faint optimism.

Change is a central force in both books. Both feature devout characters who undergo relatively radical transformations in perspective on homosexuality. But what's more significant, God is the agent of that change. In God in Pink, it takes the form of the angel Gabriel, who visits a sheikh at the local mosque, Ammar, to question Ammar's interpretation of the Koran. While both books engage in interpretive critique, neither rejects the religious text as a frame of reference. The final words of God in Pink are "God Almighty has spoken the truth."

In the epilogue to Under the Udala Trees, Ijeoma considers Hebrews 8: "God made a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah, not according to the covenant that He made with their fathers."

"Sometimes I sit with my Bible in my hands, and I think to myself that God is nothing but an artist, and the world is His canvas. And I reason that if the Old and New Testaments are any indication, then change is in fact a major part of His aesthetic, a major part of His vision for the world. The Bible itself is an endorsement of change."

Of the two novels, Under the Udala Trees is the more classically realist in style and structure, following Ijeoma into her early 50s.

It's most innovative formally in melding biblical verse and Nigerian folk tales, a mix of influences that is true to the protagonist.

God in Pink is the slimmer book - you could argue it's really a novella - and a bit more structurally complex in its alternating firstperson narration between Ramy and Ammar. It's also more experimental in how it incorporates the angel Gabriel as an actor in the story. Most novels work with characters from a single metaphysical plane (our world); here Namir is working with characters from two.

It's easy to lose sight, for all the talk of the things around sexual orientation, that we are talking about sexual difference. God in Pink is the more thoroughly explicit of the two, but Under the Udala Trees doesn't revert to hand-holding and hugs either.

For some readers, reading within the context of a national literature or a given faith, this might be the most provocative aspect of either book. That difference in desire that makes for identity is kind of the point though, and the authors are right to insist on it.

If reading from the context of queer lit, what's most revolutionary about these novels is their insistence on faith. Namir's work especially. It isn't that there are no representations of queer Muslims in fiction (Farzana Doctor's novel Stealing Nasreen and Abdellah Taïa's fictionalized memoir, An Arab Melancholia, come to mind) it's that there aren't many of them. Even among these, God in Pink is the first I've come across of such fervent devotion.

Namir is one among a growing number arguing you can be actively gay and a good Muslim. If this presents a challenge to the simplistic view that Islam, a religion of 1.6 billion people, is one monolithic set of rigid beliefs - and I think Namir does make this challenge by citing, for example, dissent between Sunni and Shia Muslims - it is also a challenge to a particular representation of the queer as agnostic or overtly atheist.

It's not news that queer - and to a lesser extent, trans - people are currently having a moment as far as cultural representation goes. What you hear less about is who gets to participate in this moment and how these representations reproduce other power structures, such that "LGBT" most often looks cis, white, middle-class, able-bodied, male. Gay.

Of course there are counterexamples to this exclusive assimilationist homogeneity, but the exceptions seem to prove the rule. See black American rapper le1f's tweet (since deleted), "i feel i cant be a 'Gay Rapper' because 'Gay' in modern art has so much to do with white patriarchy & an idea of beauty i don't agree with."

See the need for Nia King's book of profiles, Queer and Trans Artists of Color, published last year, because QTPOC are not celebrated with the same critical attention as their white artistic counterparts. King self-published that book, by the way. See Stonewall, a film released this year widely criticized for white- and cis-washing the foundational event in modern LGBTQ liberation history. (And by "see" in this case I mean "witness the existence of" - please don't legitimize this film by watching it.)

I had this on my mind recently while reading Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha's memoir, Dirty River, because it's like a biracial-abuse-survivor-queerfemme-working-class-immigrantanarchist-punk bomb exploding this myth of LGBT sameness. Intersectionality is its M.O., so it's a book difficult to pin down as just one thing, but one way of reading it is as a kind of oral history and love letter to Toronto as it was in a weedier, less shiny time, which was only, tops, 20 years ago but by my count is two waves of gentrification distant. If the Toronto that Piepzna-Samarasinha memorializes still exists, it is increasingly pushed to the margins.

Toronto isn't the point for the purposes of this review; it's just the particular example written about in this book and you could probably extrapolate to many other places what I'm about to say. What struck me while reading Dirty River, and even more so at the book launch, where the audience also shared their stories of being queer women of South Asian descent in the Toronto of that time, was the shocking diversity of the experience. This is not a new idea - that as queer people make strides in legal equality and social acceptance, we've marginalized many representations of ways to be queer from the mainstream - but the contrast is stark in reading Dirty River.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has spoken of "the danger of the single story." Under the Udala Trees and God in Pink give voice to the often voiceless, offer the outside world a window into their lives, and provide a glimmer of hope for change - all good things. But they also give a Canadian reader more than an instance for complacent homonationalist pity. All three of these books offer different ways of being queer in the face of a single story. In the words of Matthew Salesses, "We need diverse diverse books."

Jade Colbert writes the Small Press and Debuts columns for the Globe and Mail.

Associated Graphic


Water fight: Bottles, wells, big business
Saturday, November 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B1

Formerly the site of a chickenprocessing plant and, later, a small water-bottling facility, the five-acre plot at 7334 Middlebrook Road near Elora, Ont., attracted no more attention than neighbouring land when it quietly came up for sale last spring.

But that was before one of the world's largest companies offered to buy it. Nestlé Waters Canada, a subsidiary of Swiss-based food giant Nestlé SA, didn't come for the land: It sought what lies beneath. The title comes with a 110metre-deep well and, more importantly, the right to pump 1,300 litres of water per minute.

"We're looking at this as a supplementary well for future business growth and to allow for redundancy for our current operations," explains Andreanne Simard, natural resources manager for Nestlé Waters Canada.

The backlash arrived swiftly. Wellington Water Watchers, a non-profit that casts itself as the area's groundwater watchdog, deems Nestlé's consumption "a wasteful use of our community's precious water resources."

Save Our Water, another local organization, argues Elora will get a raw deal. "They'll be putting it into large tankers and driving it over our roads and bridges and paying taxes on five acres of land," says spokeswoman Donna McCaw. She points out that industrial users across Ontario pay $3.71 per million litres of water. Elora residents pay $2.14 per thousand litres - a rate 576 times higher.

Nestlé Waters North America, an affiliate of the Canadian company, has found itself at the centre of many similar disputes across the continent. Concerns about water are spreading in step with the advance of global warming, drawing attention to businesses that depend on cheap sources. At the heart of the conflicts lie fundamental questions about ownership of an increasingly scarce resource.

As the battle lines are drawn in Elora, water activists say Nestlé is a lightning rod for a much bigger issue. Other industrial water users - in agriculture, paper manufacturing and metals extraction, to name but a few - use far greater volumes than bottlers do, yet seldom receive a commensurate level of scrutiny.

Fears of water scarcity remain fresh in the minds of many in neighbouring Waterloo region.

The area suffered shortages in the late 1980s, prompting a flurry of groundwater monitoring and conservation measures. James Etienne, senior water resources engineer with the Grand River Conservation Authority in Cambridge, Ont., says the Elora area's existing water supply is adequate. But the area "has been flagged as a longer-term drought concern," depending on future municipal demand.

Nestlé points out that the Middlebrook well has been permitted and operated for two decades, without incident. "This is not additional water that's being pumped out of the watershed," says Nestlé Waters Canada spokesman John Challinor. "It's already in the province's inventory." And regular testing has never identified any contamination.

Nestlé's Middlebrook Road purchase is conditional on a regimen of pumping tests and data analysis to ensure the well meets the company's requirements, and also on a water permit renewal.

The public consultation period for a pumping-test permit, which ended in mid-November, attracted about 1,200 comments.

Should the province approve its 60-day pump-testing permit, Nestlé will confirm the water's quality and quantity, and study how proposed bottling operations would impact nearby wells, fish, animals and plants.

Bottled water is big business.

During the past two decades, Nestlé's bottled-water sales in North America exploded tenfold from $400-million (U.S.) to approximately $4-billion. "Over the last decade we've seen a shift away from carbonated soft drinks towards bottled water," says Howard Telfer, a beverage analyst with Euromonitor International. "And Nestlé has been at the top of the pack, at least in North America."

Nestlé's sprawling water production apparatus comprises a crucial component of its competitive advantage. It operates 29 bottling facilities across the continent; Canadian operations include plants in Puslinch, Ont., and Hope, B.C. Although many brands (including Nestlé's Pure Life) are little more than filtered municipal water, many of Nestlé's mid-priced brands require spring sources. Through direct ownership, leases, easements and other arrangements, Nestlé accesses 75 springs across North America in 40 locations. "They control most of the production capacity," and the springs, Mr. Telfer says, which has "allowed them to remain fairly dominant."

In 2013, Nestlé Waters North America chief executive Tim Brown said his company had enough to meet its water needs for a decade. "But we will always be looking for springs, because water is finite. We'll always be on the lookout for it, all around the world. And we will never sell a spring."

Nestlé's market dominance made the company a natural target for environmental nongovernmental organizations, some of which also decry the environmental impacts of the plastic bottles most beverage products ship in. They also point to the extraordinarily low fees the company pays for the water it bottles.

Tony Clarke, president of the Polaris Institute, founded his organization in 1997 as a response to what he regarded as transnational corporations seizing control of public policy. Nestlé soon entered his crosshairs. "Often, these water-takings on the part of Nestlé are in areas that are prone to drought," he says.

Those activists in Ontario better be ready for a long fight - the company doesn't back down easily. Nestlé first suggested establishing a bottling plant in Cascade Locks, Ore., (population 1,200), for example, in 2008.

Now, six of seven city councillors support the project; Gordon Zimmerman, the city's administrator, welcomes Nestlé as a potential employer in a community racked by an unemployment rate of nearly 19 per cent.

But to secure water from the nearby Oxbow Springs, the company and the municipality must negotiate with arms of the state.

Non-governmental organizations litigated throughout the regulatory approval process. "They were successful in getting this shoved into court," Mr. Zimmerman says.

A dwindling snowpack last winter in Oregon led to droughts this year declared in most of the state's counties, including Hood River County where Cascade Locks is situated. Julia DeGraw, an organizer with Food & Water Watch, one of Nestlé's NGO opponents, says the company's proposed extractions from Oxbow Springs, although small, are part of a larger effort to access springs throughout the Columbia River Gorge. "They're not going to open up shop and bottle 118 million gallons out of Oxbow Springs per year," she says. "This is their foothold."

In early November, Oregon Governor Kate Brown intervened to prevent a transfer of water rights. Seven years on, Nestlé has made little discernible progress.

Following another protracted dispute, in 2009 the company abandoned entirely efforts to construct a plant in McCloud, Calif.

Nestlé has been thwarted in finding a backup well in Ontario, primarily by hydrology. In 2008, it considered siting a backup well near its Puslinch plant. But the property straddled two water basins; despite considerable testing, Nestlé couldn't figure out which it was pumping from.

Because Nestlé was permitted to draw water from one basin and not the other, the obstacle proved insurmountable.

Middlebrook presents its own technical challenges. It's artesian (meaning its under pressure), which makes testing more difficult. "If you take the cap off, it would naturally flow 15 metres above ground surface," says Ms. Simard, the company natural resources manager.

The greater challenges, though, are human. Ms. McCaw's organization, Save Our Water, wants a moratorium on new water permits while further studies are conducted. Pointing to new subdivisions sprouting up around Elora and nearby Fergus, she wonders whether the area's groundwater can accommodate both Nestlé's pumping and future expected growth.

Ian MacRae grew up in a farmhouse adjacent to the Middlebrook property; his father owned the land in the 1960s and operated a chicken-processing plant there. Back then, water was used to thaw and wash chickens, then spread on nearby fields. He recalls that his godfather went cross-country skiing along Elora's gorge one winter. "He saw something odd in the cracks of the rocks," Mr. MacRae says. "On closer examination, he noticed it was chicken fat." The plant ceased spraying contaminated water on the fields afterward, he says.

Mr. MacRae now lives about a kilometre away in the nearby community of Salem, where he has a 20-metre well. He worries large-scale pumping on the Middlebrook property could draw contaminants into the aquifer, or might lower groundwater levels.

"If I'm suddenly inconvenienced by not having any water in my well, then I'm going to have to drill a deeper well. And that's obviously going to be at my cost."

Nestlé and its defenders frequently point out that the entire bottling industry's water consumption is small in relation to other industries. Mr. Challinor, for instance, cites data showing Nestlé and other bottlers extract just 0.6 per cent of permitted water from the Grand River watershed, in which Elora is situated. (Agricultural irrigation accounts for more than 6 per cent, while aggregate-washing and livestock both account for 4 per cent each.)

Jane Lazgin, a spokeswoman for Nestlé Waters North America, believes the obvious link between her company's products and water consumption helps explain the challenges it faces when winning communities over.

"I don't think people necessarily look at other beverages, or their blue jeans, or their iPhones or the tires on their car and say: 'Oh my goodness, they use so much water,' " she says.

Water activists are hoping to train the spotlight on many other industries that are heavy water consumers.

"The focus does tend to be very much on Nestlé," says Ian Stephen, an organizer for WaterWealth, a non-profit based in Chilliwack, B.C. He laments that other large industrial water users largely escape scrutiny. "Agriculture is the biggest user in B.C., and really gets overlooked. Our agricultural practices will certainly have to be looked at, especially as things get drier and drier."

Associated Graphic

Nestlé Waters Canada's Andreanne Simard visits a monitoring well near the company's operations near Guelph, Ont.


Nestlé wants to augment its groundwater supply in the face of a bottledwater market that has exploded in recent years.


Donna McCaw is a member of Save Our Water, which wants a moratorium on new water permits while studies are conducted.



Newfoundland's poetic troubadour
The 'man of a thousand songs' was best known for one that became an anthem for singers, and audiences, around the world
Special to The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, November 24, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S6

Folk singer, musician and composer Ron Hynes created culturally defining songs that retuned a post-Confederation Newfoundland's relationship with music, popular culture and identity.

The award-winning singer was arguably best known for his song Sonny's Dream, and as co-founder of the Wonderful Grand Band.

WGB, which formed in 1978, also recorded 40 eponymous episodes for CBC-Television (1980-1983) and their combination of Celticrock music and Codco skits was wildly popular. The musicians and actors were big stars - and they were Newfoundlanders.

"My generation - of Alan Doyle and Mark Critch - we all talk about how big WGB was, how incredibly influential," said comedian and CBC broadcaster Rick Mercer, also a St. John's native.

Mr. Hynes died of cancer at the age of 64 on Nov. 19 in St. John's.

His death that evening coincided with a power outage and the city's downtown area went dark for a while. He leaves four daughters, Lily, Rebecca, Elena and Lori.

It is no exaggeration to say nearly every person in Newfoundland can belt out at least a verse of Sonny's Dream, a lament about a mother worried about losing her son to the sea. Two days after his death, about 500 people gathered in St. John's Bannerman Park to sing it in his honour. His funeral at St. John's Basilica on Monday drew hundreds of mourners, including Premier Paul Davis, and was broadcast live by radio station VOCM. Mr. Hynes's four daughters sang two of his songs at the service.

When Mr. Hynes wrote Sonny's Dream in 1976, he knew it was special. In the documentary Man of a Thousand Songs, which made its debut at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival, he said the melody was so present, he was convinced he might be stealing it from somewhere. His artistic instinct was spot on: Sonny's Dream became an anthem recorded and performed and loved in countries and languages all around the world.

The song's success sometimes bemused Mr. Hynes. Many musicians recorded it, including Stan Rogers and Emmylou Harris, and other artists were occasionally credited with it. There were unexpected interpretations: A Portuguese version referred to Sonny not as a man but as the sun in the sky. Irish folk singer Christy Moore, of Planxty and Moving Hearts, added his own closing verse, without consultation.

Many Irish consider it one of their own classic ballads.

Filmmaker Rosemary House recalled her first trip to Dublin: "I told the cabbie I was from Newfoundland, which he'd barely heard of, and then I mentioned Ron, whom he'd never heard of. I said Ron wrote Sonny's Dream and the cabbie just started singing, he had all the words. Sonny was sung at every wake and wedding in the country, he said.

Everyone in Ireland knew it, everyone thought it was a traditional Irish lyric!" To help remedy this misconception, Ms. House teamed with producer Mary Sexton to film Ron Hynes: The Irish Tour (1999).

Mr. Hynes could not be defined by a single song, however, because he was a man of a thousand of them. He said the moniker came when he was booked for an appearance in Dartmouth, N.S., where the venue operator asked his agent if the musician knew this song or that song. Mr. Hynes told his agent to say that he knew a thousand.

Notably beloved in his repertoire were songs such as Atlantic Blue, written for those who lost loved ones when the offshore drilling rig Ocean Ranger went down in 1982; and St. John's Waltz (1997). Many of these, too, were recorded by other artists, such as Mary Black, Murray McLauchlan and Valdy.

Mr. Hynes was diagnosed with throat cancer three years ago and was cleared of that, but recently announced that cancer had returned, to his hip and lung. Response to the news was overwhelming for the singer. In an Oct. 28 Facebook posting, he responded to hundreds of phone calls, e-mails and messages of support: "I want to thank each and every one of you from the deepest core of my heart and soul ... because of all of you and your words of pure compassion and kindness, you've made a night destined toward misery and doubt change to one of sheer delight. [Samuel Beckett said] 'Perhaps my best years are gone ... but I would not want them back. Not with the fire in me now.' I go now to lie in darkness and I am not afraid."

Mr. Hynes understood darkness. He battled drug addiction, which he said almost killed him.

He could disappear for days and resurface minutes before a gig. In Man of a Thousand Songs, he spoke of this persona as "the third Ron," after the real person and the stage presence.

"It took a year to convince him to make the film," said director William MacGillivray. "We said, 'This is not a puff piece. There's no point in doing this if we don't go all the way.' To his credit, he went all the way. He addressed everything.

"It's important to see what an artist is really like. Not all of his songs were created from happiness and joy. This is not a happy man all the time," Mr. MacGillivray added.

"Great art requires great sacrifices," said Bob Hallett of the band Great Big Sea. "Ron Hynes was a great artist, in every sense of the word, but his work often seemed to require him to dwell in a dark place. There's a loneliness in his work that can only come from the real thing.

"Ron pursued his art with a confidence and devotion and an indifference to the outside world like no one else I have ever met.

He was also extremely intelligent, complicated, articulate, charming, difficult, and when it came to his music, utterly incapable of compromise," Mr. Hallett said.

"With his death, an age has passed. I doubt we are capable of producing another like him."

Ronald Joseph Hynes was born Dec. 7, 1950, in St. John's, and grew up in Ferryland on the southern shore where he grew up with three brothers and a sister.

In the late 1960s, he moved to St. John's to attend university, but music quickly became his focus.

He eventually released seven solo albums, including one for children, and two with WGB.

WGB's mix of music and comedy was an indication of the crosspollinating artistic scene in which Mr. Hynes was quickly immersed. In the early 1970s, he was the in-house composer for the Mummers Troupe and wrote music for the Resource Centre for the Arts' High Steel (1984).

Mr. Hynes wrote his lyrics first, his music second (a fellow musician noted that most of his songs included the word "heart"). He sculpted idiosyncratic chord arrangements. "He wasn't trying to be Nashville," said CBC radio host and music commentator Russell Bowers. "He was trying to sound like the Grand Ole Opry opened a branch in Torbay."

He was also an actor, including roles on stage in The Bard of Prescott Street, and Hank Williams: The Show He Never Gave; in the 1992 feature film Secret Nation (for which he wrote a Genie Award-winning song, "Final Breath"), and the CBC-TV series Dooley Gardens. He also recorded an audiobook of Michael Crummey's 1998 work, Hard Light.

When performing, he often wore jeans, a jean shirt, thin black leather tie and leather jacket. He was well known for sporting a fedora. (St. John's O'Brien's Music Store, billed as the oldest store on the oldest street in North America, where Mr. Hynes bought his first guitar and continued to patronize it weekly for strings, stocked "the Ron Hynes hat.") Man of a Thousand Songs screened at the Toronto film festival to a standing ovation, a reception replicated at the Atlantic Film Festival in Halifax and the St. John's International Women's Film Festival. A big reason for that was Mr. Hynes's presence, said Mr. MacGillivray. He created an energy and took over and bonded with an audience "in a way that was extremely different and special."

At the St. John's screening, Mr. Hynes sat where he could observe the audience instead of watching the film. At the part in the film where Sonny's Dream plays, the audience began singing along. "He turned to us with a big smile and said, 'These are my people,' " Mr. MacGillivray recalled.

Mr. Hynes always encouraged young musicians. If they opened for him in concert, he would clap louder than anyone else. If he liked their albums he told them so, orally and in writing. If he thought they had talent, he invited them to be musical guests.

He was nominated many times for Juno and Canadian country music awards, and received seven East Coast Music Awards, including Male Artist of the Year twice (1994 and 2007). In 1992 he was named Newfoundland and Labrador Art Council's Artist of the Year. He also received an honorary doctorate from Memorial University in 2002.

In 40 years of solo and group tours across Canada and the United States, he attuned ears and audiences around the world to music of his home. His album Stealing Genius was released in 2010, and until very recently he was playing, touring and writing music.

"The love people of Newfoundland and Labrador have for Ron Hynes truly is an unconditional love," Mr. Mercer said. "As Ron himself would admit, he could be a difficult character. But people have a huge capacity to love Ron because they love the songs so much. Long after every Newfoundlander and Labradorian alive today has gone, people will still be singing Ron Hynes's songs."

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Associated Graphic

Ron Hynes, seen in the documentary Man of a Thousand Songs, went 'all the way' to show all aspects of his life and artistry in the making of the film.


Rural kids are more likely to be killed or hurt than their urban counterparts, statistics show. Despite weak laws, governments are loath to act, in part out of respect for a traditional way of life, Carrie Tait reports
Saturday, November 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S1

Connor Pearce is 13. He is a farm kid, and drives a big New Holland tractor when spreading pig manure on his family's fields. The Pearces call the tractor Big Foot, and when Connor is in the cab, he goes slow, maybe 10 kilometres an hour. He is allowed to load and spread manure only when he is within an adult's eyesight.

Connor's two younger brothers, Ethan and Owen, work on the farm, too, although they are not allowed to drive Big Foot on their own yet. The Pearce boys are careful and know the house rules. They know one little slip can kill someone.

One little slip killed their sister Lyla Dawn in June, 2013. She was four-and-a-half, climbed onto a hay wagon when her grandpa was not looking, and fell under a wheel when the tractor pulling the wagon jerked a bit. Lyla had dimples, a flurry of freckles just below her blue eyes and dirty blond hair with bangs. Her ears were pierced and her favourite job was to help feed the pigs, Michelle Pearce, the kids' mom, said this week.

"She had a stuffed kitty cat that she took everywhere, that she slept with every night," Ms. Pearce said.

Lyla finished a farm safety course in kindergarten shortly before the accident on the family farm near Leamington, Ont., and her mom believes governments should put more money into education programs such as those.

But Ms. Pearce does not believe legislation should impose rules such as a minimum age to operate machinery. As farm deaths across Canada drop for adults, they have remained flat for children and governments everywhere have been reluctant to legislate tighter rules for kids working on farms.

That includes Alberta, where the governing NDP is revamping farm safety legislation, but remains vague about what, if anything, it will do when it comes to children. The government on Tuesday announced a handful of consultation meetings, but any changes that would tell farm families what to do with their offspring will meet resistance.

The consultations come one month after three young girls - Catie Bott, who was 13, and her 11-year-old twin sisters, Jana and Dara - were killed in a farm incident in Withrow, Alta. They fell into a grain truck and were buried in canola. The RCMP deemed it an accident and the investigation is closed.

Ms. Pearce gets nervous since Lyla's accident as her sons take on increasingly dangerous jobs on the farm, but she allows it.

Farmers, ranchers and politicians across North America applaud - or at the very least, respect - the Pearces' approach.

"They want to be farmers and that's part of the life," she said.

"So, I need to teach them to be safe."

Alberta's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner counts 11 farm deaths so far in 2015, with four of them children. One person under 18 died in a farmrelated incident in the province in 2014, according to the OCME's preliminary statistics, updated on Nov. 18, on deaths it investigates. Sixteen adults were killed in farm incidents last year, the OCME said.

Farm kids are far more likely to be killed or hurt compared with their urban counterparts.

In Alberta, for example, farm children under 18 were 83 per cent more likely to suffer severe injury or death than city kids between 1999 and 2010, according to a comprehensive doctoral thesis by Kyungsu Kim at the University of Alberta's School of Public Health. Children living in rural areas, excluding First Nations, were 73 per cent more likely to be severely injured or die than city kids, while the risk for First Nations children living in rural areas was nearly three times higher.

Lori Sigurdson, Alberta's Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour, said the government is concerned about the disparity between farm kids and city children, but has not fleshed out how it will address the problem.

Family farms, she said, are "an essential part of our culture here in Alberta," but employees and families must be kept safe. The government must be sure it is "respecting family farms ... but also making sure that there is safety and fairness. So it is very much a balancing act."

Farming is mythologized as a lifestyle full of tradition, and governments are not supposed to legislate culture. Officials are loath to impose rules, such as a minimum age to drive a combine or operate an auger, leaving those decisions up to parents and those who own farms and ranches employing young people.

As a result, the laws governing farm safety are inconsistent and weak, especially when it comes to children and youth.

In Alberta, for example, a licence is not needed to drive farm implements on highways so long as the driver is at least 14 years old. Anyone of any age, however, can drive heavy farm machinery in fields. In turn, although farms and ranches are industrial work sites, they are largely exempt from legislation designed to protect children (and adults) from industrial dangers. This philosophy remains even as the rate of agricultural fatalities for children under 15 in Canada has stayed flat for 25 years, despite improved safety features on machinery.

"Who exactly is responsible? It seems to be that nobody is held accountable when a child dies on a farm," said Don Voaklander, the director of the Injury Prevention Centre at the University of Alberta.

The rate of agricultural fatalities for children under 15 across Canada dropped by an average of 0.8 per cent annually between 1990 and 2012, according to the organization Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting. This decline is not considered statistically significant. Meanwhile, the agricultural death rate for adults between 15 and 59 dropped by an average of 1.1 per cent annually over the same period, which CAIR considers statistically significant.

The organization counted 2,317 agricultural fatalities in Canada between 1992 and 2012, and 272 of those were children under the age of 15. Another 102 people between 15 and 19 were killed in agricultural incidents in the same time frame.

Governments in Canada and the United States, however, remain hesitant to roll out stronger safety laws for youth.

"It always comes up when there's a horrible tragedy. And part of you says: 'Those poor people and what they are dealing with,' " said William Pickett, a professor in the department of Public Health Sciences at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., and an expert on farm injuries and fatalities. "Then part of you says: 'What happened there, and why was what happened acceptable? Was it predictable?' "You have such mixed feelings.

And I'm sure the safety authorities - the ministries of labour [or the] equivalent - have the same feeling about it. So then you get this paralysis."

Ms. Pearce, the Ontario mother who lost her daughter, firmly believes legislation has no place in the matter, save for increased education programs.

"It should be more up to parents' judgment on whether their kids are responsible enough for it. Some kids aren't going to be responsible [enough] for it at 13, but I know my son and he is very responsible with it, so that's our judgment to make," she said.

"I don't know how much we can have the government step into family lives."

Jason Nixon is the member of the legislature for Alberta's Rimbey-Rocky Mountain HouseSundre constituency, where the Bott family lives. The Wildrose Party MLA argues legislation is not the answer: "I really think education would have a more significant result in this area than a piece of paper."

Many experts do not believe governments can legislate the problem away. Lawmakers will have the political will to make changes only when farmers and ranchers themselves raise a fuss.

The U.S. Department of Labor proposed rules that would have banned people under 16 from doing dangerous farm work.

Lobbyists, farmers and ranchers in 2012 forced the government to squash the idea.

"The Obama administration is firmly committed to promoting family farmers and respecting the rural way of life, especially the role that parents and other family members play in passing those traditions down through the generations," the Department of Labour said in a 2012 statement explaining why it nixed its safety plan.

"The Obama administration is also deeply committed to listening and responding to what Americans across the country have to say about proposed rules and regulations."

Louise Hagel, a professional research associate at the Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture in the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan, does not believe regulations would be effective.

She said this is in part because enforcement would be difficult given that tens of thousands of farms span millions of acres in Canada.

Instead, policy makers ought to consider marketing campaigns promoting safety, and hope the farming culture shifts.

But at the same time, Ms. Hagel said governments are comfortable enforcing rules around young people working - laws often tied to safety concerns - but allowing exemptions for farms and ranches. The legislative logic, she said, does not make sense.

"Youth employment is regulated now," Ms. Hagel said. "If it is good enough for other 14-yearolds, why wouldn't it be good enough for farm kids?" Back in Leamington, Ms. Pearce cannot keep her three boys in a bubble, depriving them of a world unique to rural families.

"I can't let my fears stunt them and their growth. They still have to be well-rounded kids," she said. "My kids have lots of options that other kids don't have, and they get to experience a lot of things that other kids don't get to."

Associated Graphic

Ian and Michelle Pearce lost a daughter, Lyla Dawn, to a farm accident but are allowing their sons, from left, Connor, Owen and Ethan, to continue with chores.


On the Pearce farm near Leamington, Ont., family members pitch in, including while machinery is being operated.


Lyla Dawn Pearce died in 2013.

A nerd's life: From baseball to QE
Ben Bernanke, former Federal Reserve chairman
Saturday, November 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B11

TORONTO -- In the midst of a hectic day promoting his new memoir, Ben Bernanke decides he needs a respite from his heavy schedule of public appearances and media interviews. So he cancels one of his morning TV commitments and turns our planned lunch into a 25-minute chat in the lobby of a trendy boutique hotel in downtown Toronto.

Most questions tossed at the former Federal Reserve chairman focus on his central, and at times controversial, role during the critical period in late 2008 and early 2009 when the global financial system teetered on the edge of the abyss. That, after all, forms the heart of his book, whose title, The Courage to Act, tells us exactly what he thinks of the job he did steering the world's most powerful central bank through the worst financial and economic storms since the Great Depression.

Mr. Bernanke typically fields even the hardball questions with equanimity, offering articulate, measured responses. One question for which he has no ready answer, though, is why no senior decision makers at the major Wall Street investment houses, commercial banks or credit-rating agencies have faced criminal charges over their roles in the Great Financial Collapse.

"I was puzzled by the Department of Justice's prosecution strategy, which was to go after corporations. So you had large banks paying multibillion-dollar fines."

He has said elsewhere that some people should have faced justice. "Obviously, a lot of people made mistakes and took excessive risks," he tells me.

"But in order to determine legal culpability, you have to do the investigation. It depends on the circumstances. I don't know to what extent they investigated individual culpability and I don't know what the outcome of that would have been. But it would have been interesting to know more about what happened."

Mr. Bernanke, who turns 62 on Dec. 13, doesn't appear fatigued as he sits back and sips a Diet Coke. He wears a dark grey suit, white shirt and red print tie, having left behind the preferred casual garb of the university professor for the more formal attire of the Washington elite when he was first appointed to the Federal Reserve Board in 2002.

He describes his role then as "a junior member of the Maestro's orchestra," referring to the title once bestowed on Alan Greenspan for his seemingly deft handling of recessions, bubbles and currency crises during his 18-year tenure as chairman.

(Mr. Greenspan's reputation was tarnished by the crisis, when he admitted to being shocked that bankers and traders would behave so badly.)

When Mr. Bernanke replaced him in 2006, he opted for the more open, collegial style of his six years as chairman of Princeton's economics department. He also pushed for greater transparency and clearer explanations of Fed intentions and concerns, determined to end what he called "a Marcel Marceau communications strategy." He even appeared on CBS's 60 Minutes, taking the viewing public around his small southern hometown of Dillon, S.C. (pop.about 6,700).

That was where the selfdescribed nerdy, bookish youth developed two interests that have stayed with him through the years - baseball and math.

In fact, as he explains, they were intimately connected.

As a member of one of the small number of Jewish families in the town, where his father and uncle ran the pharmacy started by his paternal grandfather in 1941, young Ben Shalom Bernanke didn't get to participate in a large part of the community's social life that was centred on church activities.

Instead, he whiled away warm summer evenings playing StratO-Matic baseball with a likeminded friend. The popular dice game simulates hitting and pitching statistics compiled by real players.

"It was a way of understanding probability and using it as a way of modelling a certain kind of phenomenon," Mr. Bernanke says. "In economics, you use probabilistic or statistical models to model the economy, and in Strat-O-Matic, you use random numbers and probability to model the baseball game."

It should come as no surprise that the future star economic thinker would soon find the game too limited and design a more complicated version with additional variables.

He hasn't played the game since those early teen years. "I think I've outgrown it," he says with a laugh. "I like to follow the real thing. When I was a kid, I lived in a place that was hundreds of miles away [from a Major League team]."

As a student at Harvard and later MIT, Mr. Bernanke cheered for the local team, the Boston Red Sox. But he switched allegiance to the Washington Nationals, which were known as the Montreal Expos before relocating to the U.S. capital in 2005.

At times during the crisis, the Fed chief would take in the occasional game to relax. But he often had to leave his seat to return phone calls. While he was observing batting practice one September day in 2012, Washington outfielder Jayson Werth asked: "So what's the scoop on quantitative easing?" Today, he gets to see most games without urgent interruptions or financial questions from multimillionaire ball players.

Since leaving the Fed in early 2014, Mr. Bernanke has won plaudits from many fellow economists and key policy makers.

It was good fortune, they say, that one of the world's leading scholars of the monetary policy failures of the 1930s Depression was on the job to prevent a rerun of that devastating era.

They credit his rapid deployment of unorthodox weapons, including near-zero interest rates and massive bond purchases, with keeping the crisis from morphing into something infinitely worse, particularly after Congress balked at further economic stimulus measures of their own.

But the Bernanke Fed's bold response didn't please everyone.

A persistent band of critics, including austerity preachers who think occasional destructive downturns are good for the soul, gold-loving investors and populists philosophically opposed to central bank intervention, argue that the Fed's unprecedented easing has fuelled dangerous asset bubbles, punished savers and inevitably will unleash a torrent of inflation.

The fact they have been wrong, at least about inflation, for seven years and counting doesn't seem to deter them.

"The intensity of the opposition seems to have eased a bit as the economy has improved and some of the concerns that some politicians had about the Fed policy have not been realized," Mr. Bernanke says. "That being said, there still is a good deal of political antagonism.

You can see it when [his successor] Janet Yellen testifies before Congress. So I think there still are political risks to the Fed's independence."

The Fed ended its bond-buying program last October. And with unemployment at a low 5 per cent and the economy gaining strength, policy setters appear poised to raise interest rates slightly at their next meeting in mid-December, the first hike in nearly a decade.

"Right now, the U.S. economy is moving forward pretty well," Mr. Bernanke says. "Consumer spending has been reasonably strong; housing is improving; durable goods, autos are doing well. Capital investment looks to be strengthening a bit."

The main risks to the rosier picture lie outside the U.S. in the slowing global economy and weakened emerging markets, which the Fed and other central banks have to keep an eye on, he adds.

"The problem is that assessing the outlook is very difficult right now. There are a number of forces operating in different directions. And as a result, the appropriate policy path is less than crystal clear."

He seems relieved that others have to make those tough calls now.

It would have been interesting to discover that the person in charge of handling the money for the world's richest economy couldn't balance the household budget. But alas, that is not the case. "I pay the bills and manage the accounts. I try to keep it simple," he says. What he's not so good at is home repairs, which he says he leaves to his wife, Anna, an educator.

One thing he has not done since leaving the Fed is to jump into the market. But he wasn't an investor before coming to Washington. Most of his retirement income resides in the teachers' pension fund account he first opened as a rookie assistant professor in 1979.

But as Mr. Bernanke follows a well-worn path for former leading Washington power players, he also stands to reap big bucks from his writing, speeches and advisory work.

Today, he hangs his suit jacket at the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank.

He has joined the lucrative public speakers' circuit and has signed on as a high-priced senior adviser to Pacific Investment Management Co. (Pimco) and hedge fund heavyweight Citadel.

Other than that, he says he leads a fairly quiet life these days, with more time at home with his wife doing crossword puzzles, watching The Big Bang Theory and reading widely. Baseball games remain a preferred pastime, as do movies. A recent favourite: The End of the Tour, about the late author David Foster Wallace. Fittingly, it's about the 1996 book tour for his celebrated novel, Infinite Jest. With his own month-long promotional tour just about over, Mr. Bernanke seems positively wistful as he heads to his next appearance.


Ben Bernanke

Age: 61

Place of birth: Augusta, Ga.

Education: PhD in economics from MIT; BA in economics from Harvard.

Family: Married for 37 years to Anna. Two grown children.

Guilty pleasure: Sweet desserts. Favourite? Chocolate ice cream.

Most inspirational historical figure: Abraham Lincoln.

Kept a Lincoln quote about ignoring congressional attacks on his desk during crisis.

Favourite pastime: Going to baseball games.

Reading: Eclectic, from history, literary fiction and math to Michael Connelly detective novels and Bill James's baseball analysis. "The only thing I don't read very often at home is economics."

Associated Graphic


The resources rout is deepening. Why there's no end in sight
Saturday, November 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B8

Welcome to the superslump. Four years after the commodity supercycle began to ebb in 2011, prices for raw materials are hitting surprising new depths.

From aluminum to iron ore to nickel to zinc, the basic building blocks of global industry are in free fall.

The forces driving the great decline in commodity prices are no secret - it's the result of too little demand from a slowing Chinese economy meeting too much supply from mines launched in better times. Still, the ferocity of the downturn has shocked executives and investors. Most frightening of all, there is no sign the rout in raw materials will let up any time soon.

Miners are trapped in a world where next to nobody sees reason to cut production despite obvious gluts. Major producers in some sectors are now following a Saudi Arabia-like strategy of producing at full capacity, with the goal of driving out higher-cost operators.

Over the past week, the commodity collapse has accelerated, with many metals skidding to multiyear lows. Even industry leaders are starting to acknowledge that more pain looms ahead.

Jean-Sébastien Jacques, chief executive officer for copper and coal at Rio Tinto Group, one of the world's biggest miners, said on Thursday the market for copper will remain weak for the next two to three years, while coal prices will take even longer to show signs of life.

Mr. Jacques may actually be erring on the side of optimism if industry observers are right.

Many mine projects commissioned at the height of the supercycle are only now moving into production, dumping new supply onto already clogged markets.

"We see weak prices for most base metals for the next four to five years," says Dane Davis, a commodity analyst at Barclays PLC.

The obvious question is why miners don't cut back production to put a floor under sagging prices. Mr. Davis says they are trapped in a commodity-industry version of a classic Economics 101 game known as the prisoner's dilemma. The game uses two hypothetical prisoners to demonstrate to students why perfectly rational people may decide not to co-operate although it is in their best interests to do so.

Like the hypothetical prisoners, real-life miners face an ugly choice: They know things would be better if everyone would ease back on production, which would thereby boost prices. But they also realize that any single miner who cuts back on output will just open up space for competitors to grab market share.

That, Mr. Davis points out, is exactly what happened when Glencore PLC, the giant commodity-trader-cum-miner, decided in early October to cut its annual zinc output by 500,000 tonnes, or 4 per cent of global supply. After an initial bump in zinc prices, the metal quickly resumed its downward course as other miners rushed to fill the gap.

It's easy to see why producers are eager to seize any room that is vacated. Many operators have invested billions in their properties and have debts to pay. Others risk losing their concessions if they shut mines in politically unstable foreign jurisdictions.

Several figure it's cheaper to operate on a break-even basis rather than bear the punishing expenses involved with laying off workers and closing a site.

"If you suspend a project, the costs are huge," said Paul Conibear, CEO of Lundin Mining Corp.

"The repercussions to everyone would be far worse than finishing the project."

For all those reasons, most miners see logical reasons to keep on producing in volume. All the individually rational decisions result in a collectively irrational dedication to maintaining output despite miserable prices.

The muscular U.S. dollar has only made the problem worse.

Most commodities are priced in greenbacks, so the soaring value of the currency over the past few years has raised the cost of many raw materials to buyers outside the United States. That has not been good for global demand.

But the lofty U.S. dollar has also had the paradoxical effect of increasing potential profit margins for producers that operate mines in countries with much cheaper currencies. That, in turn, has encouraged them to stay in business and even raise their output.

The net result is booming supply despite woeful prices. Russian diamond giant, Alrosa, which is churning out precious stones at a frantic pace, provides a great example of this confounding trend: "They really don't care that diamond prices are going down in U.S.-dollar terms, because the ruble has fallen by half over the past year or so," William Lamb, CEO of rival producer Lucara Diamond Corp., said in a recent interview. "In ruble terms, it still makes sense to increase output."

Rather than trimming production, some miners are going in the opposite direction and taking a page from Saudi Arabia's book.

Like the oil-exporting giant, they have committed themselves to producing at full capacity, market conditions be damned.

This is most obvious in iron ore, where the Big Four producers - Rio Tinto PLC, Anglo-Australian BHP Billiton Ltd., Brazil's Vale SA and Australia's Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. - have collectively spent tens of billions of dollars to increase production. It has allowed them to slash costs below $20 (U.S.) per tonne.

Since 2011, the price of iron ore has dropped 80 per cent to $43 a tonne, but the Big Four have continued to pump out huge quantities of the steel-making mineral as they seek to drive higher-cost producers out of business.

"I don't like to see it. But speaking objectively, if I were them I would do the same," said Sandy Chim, CEO of Century Global Commodities Corp., which was forced to put its iron ore projects on the back burner and made the rather improbable shift to selling eggs to China. The company is now looking for an acquisition in base or precious metals.

Metallurgical coal, another steel-making ingredient, is also wallowing in a global glut. Although producers have cut some production, prices continue to soften. The hard coal is selling for around $80 a tonne, down 75 per cent over the past four years.

Teck Resources Inc., one of the world's major metallurgical coal exporters, slowed output from its six coal mines in Western Canada over the summer. However, its production cut amounted to only 1.5 million tonnes, which was less than 10 per cent of the excess coal in the market.

Other North American-based coal companies, Walter Energy Inc. and Patriot Coal Corp. have filed for bankruptcy protection.

But their woes have actually helped producers in Australia, namely BHP, which reached record metallurgical coal production this year.

In copper, the picture is slightly more positive, but still problematic. The red metal, used in construction and power generation, has lost a quarter of its value this year, dropping to a low of $2 a pound, a price not seen since 2009. Despite the drop, Codelco, the giant Chilean producer that controls 10 per cent of the world copper market, vowed last month to stick to its output target. Codelco, sometimes referred to as copper's Saudi Arabia, also slashed the premium it charges Chinese buyers, another sign it is more interested in cutting prices rather than production.

However, Freeport McMoRan Inc., one of the world's biggest copper producers, recently trimmed production at one of its U.S. mines. Glencore also reduced output at its mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.

"I think you will see more supply coming off," said David Garofalo, chief executive officer of Hudbay Minerals Inc., a Torontobased producer. "Glencore and Freeport have taken that leadership role already. I expect that among senior producers, we will see more of that."

Hudbay, however, has no plans to curtail its own production. It recently built two new mines, in Peru and Manitoba, which has helped push the Canadian company's production costs to below $1 a pound.

Lundin Mining, a mid-sized Canadian-based copper producer controlled by mining magnate Lukas Lundin, also has no plans to cut output. "We don't see ourselves getting to that," said chief executive officer, Mr. Conibear.

The modest reductions announced to date may be enough to provide support for some base-metal markets. However, analysts at BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc. argued in a research note earlier this month that the cuts "have largely kept pace with weak underlying demand; hence, while prices appear to be bottoming, there is not enough evidence to suggest a meaningful nearterm recovery in prices."

Hopes for a vigorous rebound hinge on China. As a result of booming growth, the Asian giant has consumed about half of the world's iron ore, copper, nickel and zinc in recent years. Unfortunately for mining optimists, recent indicators of industrial activity in China are falling dramatically short of forecasts - a bad sign for future metal demand. Mr. Davis, the Barclays analyst, notes that some Wall Street forecasters had called for Chinese auto production to grow at a healthy 8-per-cent clip this year. Instead, over the first nine months of the year, it has declined 0.9 per cent.

He says Beijing may move to support the industrial sector in the new year, which could provide limited support to metal prices, but he figures that miners will continue to labour under a cloud until the end of this decade.

"After 2020, if you look at the supply horizon, mine closures and mine depletion really start to add up," he says. "Then you start to see a precipitous drop in supply along with rising demand. A large gap opens, and at that point you have a massive surge in prices."

For now, miners can only hope that the next supercycle - whenever it comes - will be big enough to wipe away memories of today's superslump.

Fibre artist was a cultural treasure
Celebrated weaver found a safe haven in Canada, which provided themes and images for some of her masterpieces
Special to The Globe and Mail
Monday, November 23, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S10

Woven together, the dramatic threads of Tamara Jaworska's 97-year life create a story as compelling as the tapestries she shaped on her 12-foot loom.

Ms. Jaworska, a contemporary weaver, had the distinction of being the first North American fibre artist to be represented by the prestigious Galerie Inard, Centre National de la Tapisserie d'Aubusson, in Paris. There she joined the ranks of masters such as Dali, Picasso and Chagall, who permitted some of their artwork to be woven by hired hands. But unlike these cultural titans, Ms.

Jaworska undertook the painstaking task of weaving her art herself. She frequently took as long as two years to complete a masterpiece. In the 1980s, François Mathieu, curator of decorative art at the Louvre, wrote of Ms. Jaworska, "Her tapestries are at the peak of modern weaving art."

Her artistry first came to the attention of the Canadian public in 1974, when Unity, a competitionwinning tapestry, was installed in Place Bell, in Ottawa. The piece, symbolizing Ms. Jaworska's newly adopted country, was so large and heavy that it had to be lifted into place by cranes. It now resides in the lobby of Gulf Canada Square, in Calgary. Unity, featuring provincial flowers, the Rideau Canal, the Gatineau Hills and the Parliament Buildings, drew critical praise.

A commission from businessman Albert Reichmann followed.

The result, Quartet Modern, comprises four tapestries, each five metres by three metres. They adorned the main lobby of Toronto's First Canadian Place for 35 years. When the building was renovated, restoration work was carried out on Quartet Modern to repair damage caused by exposure to light. The tapestries are now in storage until a new display venue can be found. In an interview from New York, textile scholar John Vollmer, an expert familiar with Ms. Jaworska's work, said, "Unlike a painting, it's easy to roll up a tapestry and forget about it."

By the mid-1970s Ms. Jaworska's burgeoning reputation in Canada led to sales of earlier works, including Stream of Life to Metropolitan Life's headquarters in Ottawa. The company was amalgamated with another firm in 1998. The whereabouts of this work is currently unknown.

Over the course of a lengthy career, Ms. Jaworska racked up prizes, including a 1957 Gold medal at the Triennale di Milano.

In 1994, Ms. Jaworska was named an Officer of the Order of Canada.

She was later awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee medal. Leon Whiteson, a writer on architecture and design for the Los Angeles Times, described Ms. Jaworska as, "One of Canada's proudest cultural treasures."

Her work has been exhibited in her chosen homeland as well as Russia, Poland, Germany, Austria, Spain, England, Scotland, Switzerland, Mexico, Belgium and France. Major museums that own her work include the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, in Moscow; the National Museum, in Warsaw; the Museum of the History of Textiles, in Lodz; and the Scottish College of Textiles, in Galashiels.

Ms. Jaworska, who died on Oct. 29 in Toronto, worked 10 to 12 hours a day, six to seven days a week using centuries-old Gobelin techniques, in which threads are drawn through the warp by hand. By this method, only a small area of a large tapestry can be worked at any one time.

Esteemed Scottish artist and art promoter Richard Demarco, who crossed the Iron Curtain almost 100 times in search of talent, likened Ms. Jaworska's fortitude and perseverance to that of a longdistance runner.

In the late 1940s, Ms. Jaworska studied painting and design at the Polish State Academy of Fine Art in Lodz. She was awarded a master's degree from the faculty of design and weaving, and remained on the teaching staff until 1958. By then, she had been awarded the Triennale di Milano gold medal, a powerful impetus to branch out on her own.

Ms. Jaworska began each massive project by designing it first as a working model in acrylics and pastels. Her 10-inch-by-12inch painting, a meditation on nature, geometric shapes or the cosmos, then sat behind her loom as a template. Never improvising, she expanded the dimensions of her original design with precision using a variety of materials ranging from basic wool, (frequently dyed by her) to silk, sisal, horse hair, gold thread, artificial fibres and feathers. By the time it was completed, her work, hard in some places and soft in others, held a deep visceral and tactile appeal. "Jaworska's expressive work assaults the senses with urgency," Mr. Vollmer wrote.

"Viewers of her tapestries encounter visual and sensual stimuli of incredible lushness."

Tamara Jaworska was born in Arkhangelsk, Russia, on July 20, 1918. Her Polish father, Antoni Jankowski, spent 10 years in a Siberian gulag for anti-Russian activities before marrying Russian Aleksandra Totolgin. A son, Jerzy, was born later in 1923. The young family escaped to Poland via Sweden, but Antoni Jankowski's family would not forgive him for marrying a Russian. The rejection took a toll on him, prompting his descent into alcoholism and depression. Tamara's parents divorced. Tamara and her brother also experienced much intolerance in Poland because of their Russian lineage.

As a girl, Tamara dreamed of becoming an archeologist.

Instead, just before the advent of the Second World War, she married an architect 14 years her senior. The couple lived in Warsaw, a frequently bombarded city, where Ms. Jaworska gave birth to a daughter, Eva, in 1942. With her husband's health failing, the family moved back to the Polish city of Lodz. After her husband died at the age of 46, Ms. Jaworska took up the study of art and discovered her métier within the versatility of textiles. A second marriage, to an actor, lasted five years. It wasn't until she was introduced to divorced Polish film director Tadeusz (Tad) Jaworski that she found a life partner who understood her compulsive need to create. When the couple married in 1967, she adopted the feminine version of his surname, Jaworska, in keeping with Polish tradition.

Prior to the marriage, Mr. Demarco, at that time a gallery owner/director who was trying to internationalize the world of contemporary Scottish art, travelled to Poland to meet with the Union of Polish Artists, in Warsaw. "It soon became evident," he wrote in a foreword to the coffee table book Tamara - The Art of Weaving, "that it was almost impossible to deal with artists without dealing with the Communist bureaucracy that then ruled their careers."

Declaring Ms. Jaworska to be one of the most important artists he had ever encountered, he managed to circumvent the bureaucracy and, in 1968, presented Ms. Jaworska's first touring exhibition, in Britain.

The timing was fortuitous.

Poland was in a state of political crisis, with student uprisings and a desperate government trying to control the situation by expelling intellectuals and Jews. Mr. Jaworski was both. All their important documents and Ms. Jaworska's loom were confiscated at the Polish border as they made their way to Rome. Having produced a film for the Vatican, Mr. Jaworski knew he could rely on assistance from the church while he and his wife contemplated their next move. They decided on Canada because it had a National Film Board similar to the one in Poland where Mr. Jaworski had developed his substantial reputation as a filmmaker. Thinking ahead, Ms. Jaworska contacted Mr. Demarco to ensure that her tapestries wouldn't return to Poland. She knew she would need them in her new country.

In 1969, the couple settled in Montreal to begin a new life as complete unknowns. Once again, social unrest - this time in the form of the separatist movement - made them feel unsafe. Within a few months, they moved to Toronto, where a weaving instructor provided Ms. Jaworska with the tools she needed until she could arrange for a loom of her own. As soon as her travelling exhibit arrived safely in Toronto from Britain, Ms. Jaworska arranged an exhibition at the Merton Gallery. Proceeds from gallery sales allowed them to buy a house in Willowdale with enough room for a studio. A specially constructed loom was ordered and shipped from Poland. Upon its arrival, Ms. Jaworska immediately set to work on the behemoth Unity for Bell Place.

Ms. Jaworska's fame was spreading. Many group and solo exhibitions followed, both at home and around the world. Hal Jackman, who would later become lieutenant-governor of Ontario, was a fan of Ms. Jaworska's art and opened her exhibitions whenever his schedule permitted.

Tad Jaworski's career was also on the rise. His 1972 documentary Selling Out, about a PEI man selling everything he owned, won an Etrog, the precursor to the Genie award. The film was subsequently nominated for an Oscar.

Doors, previously closed to the couple, were now wide open.

Part of Ms. Jaworska's genius lay in changing the perception of weavers from easily dismissed craftspeople into recognized artists. Her primary concern, however, was always the work itself.

"Tamara was quiet. She was meditative, like her tapestries," said friend and interior designer Kika Misztela, who is now engaged in trying to organize a permanent home in Canada for Ms. Jaworska's work. "She was a tiny woman," Ms. Misztela said, "but she had a very big vision." 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

Tapestry artist Tamara Jaworska, seen in her Toronto studio in 1985, frequently took as long as two years to complete a masterpiece.

Businessman Albert Reichmann, left, and Tamara Jaworska admire her competition-winning tapestry Unity.


Mazda, the atomic bomb and a motor that should not exist
Special to The Globe and Mail
Thursday, November 26, 2015 – Print Edition, Page D1

HIROSHIMA, JAPAN -- An atomic bomb detonated above Hiroshima on a summer morning in 1945. Dropped by the United States, Little Boy - a perversely cute name given to a devilish weapon - killed 140,000 people, more than half of whom died instantly in the blast. The city was reduced to a flat expanse of rubble, its many wooden buildings set on fire.

Hiroshima is home to Mazda, a company known back then as a maker of three-wheeled motorbikes. Before that, as Toyo Cork Kogyo, it made corks.

Just four years after the bomb fell, Mazda's factory was up and running again, making more three-wheeled motorbikes.

The company supported reconstruction of the city, and its citizens were forever grateful.

This is a story the people at Mazda tell about their company. It's a story presented in slide show form by Mazda's chief of global public relations, in a conference room at head office in Hiroshima. It's a story about resilience, perseverance and - here's where it gets weird - a story meant to show why Mazda was the only company able to put rotary engines into mass production. Huh?

Today, the dream of rotary is dead. Conventional wisdom is that these engines can't be made to meet emissions regulations. But why, then, would Mazda show off the new RX-Vision rotary sports car concept at the Tokyo Motor Show? Why would Mazda give us this story about resilience and perseverance? And why would it bring a bunch of old rotary cars out of its archive for us to whip around their test track? Is the rotary engine really dead?

At a secret location deep in the Japanese countryside, amid steep hills and deep valleys and quaint villages, far away from prying spy photographers, is Mazda's Mine Proving Grounds. Visitors are not allowed to transmit photos, lest the transmission give away its location. An odd rule, given the fact it was a public track until recently - but never mind.

There are cars to drive.

A tantalizing row of mint-condition old rotary-powered machines waits in the pit lane.

Long before the Miata/MX-5 and the "zoom-zoom" slogan, Mazda had the RX-7. Through three generations, it represented affordable performance; a Japanese sports car to compete with the best from Europe and America. The RX-7 is on the cusp of becoming a classic - if, that is, you can find one that hasn't been given the full Fast and Furious treatment.

Ask any rotorhead - those gluttons for punishment, those few proud devotees of the rotary engine - the best way to understand what's so special about these cars, and they'll say: drive one.

So, what's so special?

Rudimentary research on the RX8club message boards reveals the benefits: high power output relative to the size and weight of engine, and a smooth highrevving nature - according to a user who goes by the handle Brettus. A second source, Pistonhater, agreed. EricB added, "Im [sic] a blind rotorhead."

Will I too become a blind rotorhead after driving an RX-7?

It's cold out, and the tires on this 1978 RX-7 look period correct. Too correct, actually. Turns out it's still on the original rubber. Someone has already spun the car once today. Best tread carefully.

The seats are flat and low, and the steering wheel is large and thin. The first RX-7 is slow by modern standards, but Brettus was correct, even this 37-yearold example feels happiest when spun up near its 7,000 rpm redline. It's smooth and linear, with a sound like a prolonged cow fart, and silly-fun to drive - until suddenly a piercing alarm goes off in the cabin. Is this the last sound you hear before a rotary blows up? Apparently no, just an alarm that goes off when you hit the redline. The car is so comfortable at high revs, the alarm is a necessity.

The second-generation RX-7 is a special 10th anniversary edition model from 1988. It has matching white-on-white wheels and paint. It looks like a Porsche 944, except cleaner, smaller. A purposeful-looking wedge. The second RX-7 - FC to rotorheads - feels more like a sports car. It rolls into turns but then settles into a reassuring neutral state, a benefit of balance granted by a small rotary engine pushed far back towards the cabin. It's both comfortable and fiendish, a car you could happily imagine driving on perfect summer days and neglecting, maintenance-wise.

The final RX-7 - the third generation, known as FD - is a different beast altogether. It's a demon compared to the other two. Under the hood is a twinrotor engine boosted by a sequential twin-turbo setup. It was a product of the 1990s, as was the Honda NSX, twin-turbo Nissan 300ZX, A80 Toyota Supra and Subaru Impreza 22B. Collectively, they represent the highwater mark for Japanese sports cars.

Just as you think the FD is running out of boost around 4,000 rpm, the second turbo kicks in and delivers the full 276 horsepower. The test car is on barely cut slicks, providing neckstraining grip. The chassis stays flat through corners.

The cabin, though, is uncomfortably cramped, like sitting inside a small shoe. Your sense of speed is heightened because you sit so low. The FD is worthy of all the fast-car cliches usually thrown at it.

One lap in each model isn't enough to get the full picture, but any car that's both affordable and exciting to drive is worthy of high praise, and all Mazda's RX-7s tick both boxes.

But they're more than that - they're weird. And car people tend to latch onto anything weird: cars with impractical motor placement, quirky design, unfortunate names and unusual engines.

Weirdness imbues cars with an added (imagined?) sense of character and specialness. The RX-7s are as lovable for their performance as they are for the fact they really have no business existing.

In the 1950s, the rotary was a "dream engine," a device envisioned by Felix Wankel working for NSU in West Germany. Many auto makers tried and failed to mass produce it, including Ford, GM, Rolls-Royce, Porsche and Alfa Romeo. Mazda's first rotary car came out around the same time as transistor radios and jet engines became ubiquitous. It must have felt like a new beginning.

But, in 2012, Mazda stopped production of its last rotary car and, ever since, rotorheads have been dreaming of a successor.

Mazda's factory and headquarters in Hiroshima is like a city unto itself. But there is no expensive high-rise in which to house top executives and burnish the brand to the world. There are only endless rows of anonymous low-rise buildings. In the lunch room, a pair of faded wood-rimmed floral couches, the latest in 1980s office decor. The hallways are wide and empty, with grey floors. There's a poster in one factory building that says, "I [Heart] Work." The company's official museum is just a dimly lit floor off the factory; the gift shop a lone rack of branded memorabilia.

Mazda is not prone to frivolous spending, it would seem.

"We've had some bad times at Mazda and we want to make sure they never happen again," said Akira Marumoto, the company's executive vice-president.

During the financial meltdown in 2008, Ford sold its stake in Mazda. Between the loss of that partnership and recession, Mazda was in bad shape. The company lost money from 2009-2012. It's only in the last two years that it has returned to profitability.

Both Marumoto and CEO Masamichi Kogai seem like patient businessmen. They're working to fix the business behind the scenes, setting the company on a solid foundation for its future as a small, independent auto maker.

"We need to make sure the business is good, which is why I have to say the RX-Vision is just a dream for now - but one day we hope to make our dream come true," Marumoto said.

At the Tokyo show, Mazda claimed to have made a breakthrough with rotary engine technology, but none of the executives would talk about what exactly that might be. All we know is that a core group of engineers at Mazda have been continuously working on rotary engine development.

If they can solve the fuel consumption and emissions issues - and Mazda can make a business case for a new rotary sports car - we'll likely see a more production-ready concept at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show. It would be the 50th anniversary of Mazda's first rotary-powered car. A production model would then be ready by 2020, the company's 100th anniversary. Works out nicely, doesn't it?

But the real question remains, as much as rotorheads want to drive a new rotary-powered sports car, could it ever be a sound business move? While other companies pour money into hybrids and electric vehicles and hydrogen, Mazda forges ahead alone with the rotary. Resilience and perseverance are admirable qualities if you're working to build something great, less so if you're working on something obsolete. Which is the case for the rotary? We'll know in a couple years.

The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval.

Associated Graphic

A tantalizing row of mint-condition old rotary-powered cars wait in pit lane to be driven.


The second-gen RX-7 was spawned in 1988.


Hall of Famer won five Stanley Cups
Saskatchewan native credited life on the farm for his strong performance on the ice
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, November 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S10

Bert Olmstead was a hardnosed forward who bulled his way into the Hockey Hall of Fame with a pugnacious style owing more to determination than ability.

Mr. Olmstead, who died on Nov. 17 at the age of 89, was a solid playmaker despite being a poor skater, his choppy strides betraying self-taught origins on chippy frozen sloughs in Saskatchewan.

From 1951 until 1960, he skated in 10 consecutive Stanley Cup final series, an incredibly rare feat even in the days of a sixteam National Hockey League.

He had his name engraved on the Stanley Cup five times, four with the Montreal Canadiens and once with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He also established a record for assists in a season, and tied the mark for most points in a game with eight. Both marks were eventually surpassed.

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound left winger was a prototype of the power forward, an inelegant attacker as keen to throw a bodycheck at an opponent as he was to shovel the puck to flashier teammates.

After his playing career ended, he had a coaching stint with the expansion Oakland Seals that lasted less than a year, his unhappy tenure including a stick-swinging fight with a fan and a late-season resignation.

"If Olmstead did public relations for Santa Claus," former player Eddie Dorohoy once said, "there wouldn't be any Christmas."

Mr. Olmstead attributed his own success on the ice to lessons learned on a farm. "You reap the rewards of what you put into it," he told Ian MacDonald of the Montreal Gazette in 2004, "or you suffer at the other end."

Murray Albert Olmstead was born on Sept. 4, 1926, to May Belle (née Dennis) and Cecil Clendon Olmstead, who ran a dealership for agricultural implements in the Saskatchewan village of Sceptre. Cecil had arrived in the province from Ontario, hiring a team of oxen to get from the railway line to an isolated homestead north of a barren expanse of sand and dunes known as the Great Sandhills. He married one of the daughters of the farmer across the road.

Young Bert played hockey and baseball in the village before moving to Moose Jaw to play junior hockey at age 18 in 1944.

He helped lead the Canucks to the finals of the Memorial Cup championship in 1945 before losing to the St. Michael's Majors of Toronto in five games.

The tough forward turned professional with the Kansas City Pla-Mors of the United States Hockey League, spending three seasons in the minors except for a nine game call-up to the NHL's Chicago Black Hawks, during which he recorded just two assists.

In his first full NHL season, Mr.

Olmstead played on a line with Bep Guidolin and Metro Prystai, another Saskatchewan-born player and a junior teammate.

Sportswriters dubbed the trio the Boilermakers Line for their toughness and blue-collar work ethic. (They were also known as the Meatball Line.)

Mr. Olmstead scored 20 goals in his inaugural campaign, tying for second in voting for the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year, which was won by Boston Bruins goaltender Jack Gelineau. An oddity of Mr. Olmstead's career is that he would never again score as many goals in a campaign.

Late in 1950, he was traded to the Detroit Red Wings, who assigned him to the minor-league Milwaukee Seagulls. Seventeen days later, Detroit traded him to the Canadiens for Leo Gravelle.

Mr. Olmstead flourished under Montreal coaches Dick Irvin Sr.

and, later, Toe Blake. He learned the importance of positional play and would scold teammates who joined him in the corners to battle for the puck. He wanted them in front of the enemy goal to receive his passes.

The forward benefited from playing alongside so elegant a player as Jean Béliveau, so flashy a sniper as Bernie (Boom Boom) Geoffrion and so fiery a scorer as Maurice (Rocket) Richard.

The meaner Mr. Olmstead played, the more goals he helped produce. He led the league in assists with 48 in 1954-55, the same season in which he recorded a career high of 103 penalty minutes. The following season he set a new NHL record for assists in a season with 56, which would last five seasons before being surpassed by Mr. Béliveau.

On Jan. 9, 1954, Mr. Olmstead played one of the greatest games in NHL history when he recorded eight points in a 12-1 drubbing of Chicago at the Forum in Montreal. He fired four pucks past goalie Al Rollins and added four more assists (on two goals each by Ken Mosdell and Mr. Béliveau). The eight points tied the mark set by linemate Mr. Richard in a 1944 game. (Darryl Sittler of Toronto broke their record by recording 10 points in a 1976 game.)

Mr. Olmstead's performance is all the more remarkable for coming neither during wartime's depleted lineups, nor with the dilution of talent following expansion.

He played a key role in helping a star-studded Montreal lineup win Stanley Cup championships in 1953, 1956, 1957 and 1958. He was often assigned to shadow the star player on rival teams, including Gordie Howe of Detroit.

In the summer of 1958, though, Mr. Olmstead was left unprotected by the Canadiens, who suspected a knee injury would make him less effective, and the Maple Leafs claimed him, hoping the veteran would imbue a rebuilding club with a sense of how to win a championship.

Not long after he joined the team, the last-place Leafs fired coach Billy Reay. George (Punch) Imlach, the new general manager, coached the team behind the bench during games, but he placed Mr. Olmstead in charge of practices and the dressing room as an assistant playing coach.

"I'm sure he can instill a lot of fire in this club," Mr. Imlach said.

The Leafs squeaked into the playoffs on the last day of the season.

In 1962, a broken shoulder suffered late in the season caused Mr. Olmstead to miss the Maple Leafs' opening eight playoff games. He returned to help the Leafs defeat the defending champion Black Hawks in six games. It was Toronto's first Stanley Cup victory in 11 seasons.

The Maple Leafs left him unprotected in the off season, and the New York Rangers claimed him, as general manager Muzz Patrick hoped he would become coach.

"Patrick wants me to fire up the Rangers, but that's a lousy idea," Mr. Olmstead told reporters at the time. "If I was capable of doing it I would, but I can't. I can still play for a contending team, but I can't carry a poor club any more."

Mr. Olmstead instead retired as a player. He had scored 181 goals with 421 assists in 848 games. He had another 16 goals and 43 assists in 115 playoff games. He played in four all-star games and was twice voted an NHL Second Team All-Star.

In summers, he returned to Saskatchewan, where he played semiprofessional baseball at $400 per month with a barnstorming team from his home village.

A blemish on his record came in the summer of 1958, when he was fined $1,000 for assault causing bodily harm for an attack on a West Vancouver businessman following a trapshooting competition. (Mr. Olmstead was an eagle-eye shot on the ice and off.) He punched the man in a dispute over an auction, the man sued and Mr. Olmstead settled out of court for $5,250.

Mr. Olmstead had success as coach of the old Vancouver Canucks of the Western Hockey League. He was then hired as general manager and coach in Oakland, Calif., as the Seals were one of six expansion teams to join the NHL for the 1967-68 season. The club was woeful and quickly fell to the bottom of the standings. A fierce competitor as a player, Mr. Olmstead grew ever more grumpy and irascible.

"They're just not trying," he complained. "I've insulted and I've threatened. But they've just quit."

He resigned as general manager late in the season and never again coached in the NHL.

Like his father before him, Mr. Olmstead worked the soil, operating a 170-acre grain farm outside Calgary. He also held an executive position with a Calgary realty firm.

He died on Nov. 17 in High River, Alta., after suffering a stroke.

He leaves his wife, Nora (née Moffatt), whom he married in 1952; a daughter, Bonnie; a son, Dennis, who won a hockey championship with the University of Wisconsin Badgers in 1973; and a granddaughter. He was predeceased by two brothers and three sisters.

In 1985, Mr. Olmstead was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, joining His linemates Mr. Béliveau and Mr. Geoffrion. He has also been inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame and the Saskatchewan Baseball Hall of Fame.

A proud man, Mr. Olmstead felt he had been overlooked for many years by the Hockey Hall of Fame. He liked to note he had played what would be his final game with the Canadiens as a Stanley Cup winner and his final game as a Maple Leaf as a Stanley Cup winner.

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

Bert Olmstead, the prototype of the power forward, played a key role in helping the Montreal Canadiens win Stanley Cup championships in 1953, 1956, 1957 and 1958.


Just how much risk can you stand?
OSC study finds most advisers' risk questionnaires don't properly assess the investment stress level a client can handle
Saturday, November 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B11

Let's float a theory on why there are so many nervous investors: It's because the investment industry does such a poor job of talking about the risk of losing money.

When you first sit down with an adviser, broker or financial planner, you're very likely to be handed a questionnaire to assess your comfort with risk. A study commissioned by the Ontario Securities Commission's investor advisory panel has found these questionnaires are mostly junk.

Eighty-three per cent of the risk questionnaires looked at in the study were judged inadequate for reasons that include too few questions, or questions that are poorly worded or confusing. Another notable glitch is that 55 per cent of these questionnaires had no way to recognize risk-averse clients that should hold only cash.

We know investors are anxious thanks to a recently issued survey by the global investing giant BlackRock. It found surprisingly high levels of doubt about investing, particularly in stocks, and it showed that people are holding a lot of their wealth in safe but slow-growing cash.

Those lame risk questionnaires feed this nervousness by turning the discussion of risk into a perfunctory exercise in filling out a form. Investors might be more comfortable with risk if they had a chance to have a longer, more thorough conversation about it.

The study for the OSC investor advisory panel makes it clear that regulators have to do more to guide advisers on how to assess risk, and that advisers need to be more diligent about the process.

Investors, you also need to act.

Demand more from your adviser than a half-baked risk questionnaire.

The problem with today's risk assessment tools is that they're too often treated as part of the process of selling investments, said Shawn Brayman, who led the study as president and CEO of the financial software development firm PlanPlus Inc. "These questionnaires haven't been approached as a professional instrument to measure something," he said.

Typical risk questionnaires ask for basics like your age, your level of investment knowledge and the number of years until you expect to need the money. Usually, there's a question that asks if you're more comfortable with a low-growth, low-return portfolio, or variations that have more potential up and downside. Taken as a whole, the investor advisory panel study found these questionnaires fail on a number of counts. If it's not flawed questions, it's arbitrary scoring models.

A total of 338 advisers participated in the study. A little more than 46 per cent said risk questionnaires were optional, and a little more than half said there is no oversight of questionnaires once completed. Of the 43 investment firms involved in the survey (including banks, credit unions, brokers, mutual fund dealers and financial planners), only 19 per cent said they used outside experts to produce their questionnaire, and less than 10 per cent were aware if the methodology used in their questionnaires had been validated in some way.

Whether through questionnaires or a thorough interview process, good advisers learn enough about their clients' risk tolerance to recommend suitable investments. But there are enough bad outcomes to demand that the risk assessment process be improved. The study quotes the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investing as saying that investment suitability has been the No. 1 area of complaint from consumers in recent years.

"What's at the heart of suitability? It's risk profiling," said Connie Craddock, a current member and former chair of the OSC investor advisory panel. "There's often a misunderstanding or a disagreement, whatever you want to call it, between the adviser and the client, and risk is at the heart of that."

Harold Geller, an Ottawa lawyer who is on the OSC investor advisory panel, says suitability issues are behind the vast majority of the 1,500 or so investor complaints against advisers that he's been involved with over the years. He says investors feel losses more intensely than gains, and that suggests focusing in particular on the down side. "How much are you prepared to lose is a question I never hear advisers asking.

But if you're looking at risk and reward, you have to consider it."

If you're an investor looking ahead to a year-end meeting with your adviser, put the matter of investment risk on the agenda.

Discuss how much you're comfortable losing and over what time horizon. Stock market losses in any one year become a nonissue if you can hang on for 10 years, but shorter periods are problematic. As of late November, the S&P/TSX composite index was just marginally ahead of where it was five years ago and below the level reached before it crashed in fall 2008.

In the investment advice business, risk is a many-faceted word.

An investor's risk profile results from a look at factors like risk tolerance, which is the investor's willingness to take on risk, and risk need, which means the amount of risk needed to accomplish the investor's financial goals. There's also risk capacity, or the financial ability of a client to tolerate a potential financial loss.

With all these nuances, risk is best addressed as part of a broader financial planning process that looks at clients' current financial situation, their goals and the investment returns required to bridge any gap that exists.

These conversations aren't easy for advisers or clients. Advisers sometimes need to tell clients they should avoid the riskier investments that pay the highest commissions and fees. Investors sometimes have to be talked out of any notions that they have about making 8 per cent a year with little or no risk, or that they can compensate for weak retirement saving by putting more money in the stock market.

Better risk questionnaires would mean better conversations about risk and, potentially, less anxious investors. "These questionnaires shouldn't be a marketing piece to shove a client into a portfolio," PlanPlus's Mr. Brayman said.

Follow me on Twitter: @rcarrick


A recent study commissioned e Ontario Securities Commission Investor Advisory Panel questions the usefulness of the risk questionnaires that investment advisers use as part of the process of understanding their clients' needs. Here are some samples from a questionnaire that more effectively gets investors to think about risk. It was produced by the Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada to provide guidance to advisers who are going through a know-your-client exercise with a client. The full MFDA questionnaire uses a scoring system to assess the client's answers.

If you find that the questions presented here get you thinking about risk in a new way, take this page to your adviser and start a discussion.


What is your primary goal for this portfolio:

1. I want to keep the money I have invested safe from short-term losses or readily available for short-term needs.

2. I want to generate a steady stream of income from my investments and I am less concerned about growing the value of my investments.

3. I want to generate some income with some opportunity for the investments to grow in value.

4. I want to generate long-term growth from my investments.


Your current and future income sources are: 1. Stable 2. Somewhat stable 3. Unstable

How would you classify your overall financial situation? 1. No savings and significant debt 2. Little savings and a fair amount of debt 3. Some savings and some debt 4. Some savings and little or no debt 5. Significant savings and little or no debt

RISK ATTITUDE 1. Very conservative and try to minimize risk and avoid the possibility of any loss 2. Conservative but willing to accept a small amount of risk 3. Willing to accept a moderate level of risk and tolerate losses to achieve potentially higher returns 4. Aggressive and typically take on significant risk and are willing to tolerate large losses for the potential of achieving higher returns

The value of an investment portfolio will generally go up and down over time. Assuming that you have invested $10,000, how much of a decline in your investment portfolio could you tolerate in a 12-month period? 1. I could not tolerate any loss 2. -$300 (-3%) 3. -$1,000 (-10%) 4. -$2,000 (-20%) 5. More than -$2,000 (more than 20 per cent)

When you are faced with a major financial decision, are you more concerned about the possible losses or the possible gains? 1. Always the possible losses 2. Usually the possible losses 3. Usually the possible gains 4. Always the possible gains

From September 2008 through November 2008, North American stock markets lost over 30 per cent. If you currently owned an investment that lost over 30 per cent in three months you would: 1. Sell all of the remaining investment to avoid further losses 2. Sell a portion of the remaining investment to protect some of your capital 3. Hold onto the investment and not sell any of the investment in the hopes of higher future returns 4. Buy more of the investment now that prices are lower

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Monday, November 23, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L4


The registered massage therapist, who lives in Ottawa, donated in 2013.

Why I chose to donate

I grew up imagining I would have kids of my own, and if for some reason I couldn't, I would love to know that there were other options available. At this point, I don't have my own, and I'm undecided if I ever will. But I liked the concept of helping someone else.

I signed up with Surrogacy In Canada Online, and my profile was found by the intended parents. They made it clear that they wanted to get to know me and requested open communication, if I was up for it. I said I was.

What my experience was like

Overall I had a great experience. There were a few logistical problems when flights had to be changed at the last minute. But it was quite positive.

The most difficult part

The recovery was harder than I imagined. I didn't know what I was in for. For about a week after the retrieval, I was extremely bloated. I don't doubt I was mildly overstimulated - they retrieved more than 40 eggs. I did the donation in Toronto, then came back to Ottawa and there was no hand-off to another doctor. Because my job requires me to be physically active, I had to take about five days off work, until my energy felt back to normal and the bloating subsided.

I'm self-employed, so I don't do that lightly.

The best part

The intended parents were two dads. We get along really well. I even went to their wedding the summer after the donation. I'm very proud of being a part of creating their family.

Meeting the child

They had their son in January and I met him about two weeks after he was born, while he was still in the neonatal intensive care unit. Meeting him felt like meeting any of my friends' children - as expected, I had no emotional connection to their son. They are now trying for another baby, using frozen embryos that were made from my eggs.

What I wish people understood about egg donation

In the United States, it's more of a business transaction. Some women are earning $20,000 there. Here, there's more altruism. My expenses were covered. For instance, my flights when I flew to Toronto, the lost wages to attend appointments and the cost of the extensive drink list they recommended post-retrieval. I didn't want to earn money from it - I believe altruistic donations are better because they remove the monetary incentive - I just didn't want it to cost me anything.


The former software developer, now a full-time mom living in Vancouver, donated earlier this year.

Why I chose to donate

I had friends through church who'd been trying for children for five years. I had a textbook pregnancy at the age of 26 and wanted to help, so I offered my eggs. These friends declined, but I was already pretty excited about the idea.

I thought, if I'm willing to donate for friends, I should be willing to do it for strangers. So I put an ad on a forum called Different people approached me. I picked a couple in Vancouver and we agreed on an open donation.

What my experience was like

The paperwork, blood work and agreement all took much longer than I'd expected. But the egg donation was much easier than I'd expected. After the retrieval, though, there was a real change of speed - instead of being monitored every day, you're let back out into the wild, with no further care. There was silence from the clinic. It was like, "Thanks, here's a cookie."

The most difficult part

My family had to eat the cost of doing this. My monitoring appointments were at 7 a.m., for instance, but there was no real child-care option. I would leave my daughter at home with my husband and he would go into work two or more hours late. By the time I got back it would be too late to go to my daughter's school program.

Meals surrounding appointments were also uncompensated.

I hadn't even thought about this, but very often lunch or breakfast would happen at a restaurant and this adds up. There was also a four-week period when I couldn't run with my child or participate in her sports lessons due to risk of ovarian torsion. If we'd had a hired nanny and she'd needed all this time off to donate, and was neglecting our child this way, we would have asked her to take time off and we would have hired someone to cover. But I'm unpaid - a mom - so I can't claim for anything.

I wanted to do everything above board and be as easy on the intended mother as possible, financially. I have no regrets about that. But it would have been easier to justify the health and emotional risks, the injections three times a day and all the early morning blood draws, if I'd been getting a bit of money.

The best part

The friendship I developed with the intended mother, and being able to be along for the ride as they added a new member to their family, was great. I saw these people struggling. I heard their stories. I got to share their hopes and dreams. It felt like there was a real purpose to what I was doing.

Meeting the child

The baby hasn't been born yet. I'm hoping to meet next year, but my intended mother will need time to bond, so it may take a year or two - or 20. I will be ready whenever she and her child are. In my donor agreement it explicitly says I cannot initiate contact with the child, which I respect.

What I wish people understood about egg donation

You have to advocate for yourself. I was pressing for a medication that would reduce my chance of hyperstimulating. The doctor kept forgetting, right up to the day of the trigger. I wish young girls wouldn't even consider donating eggs. I don't know how much they'd be able to stick up for themselves. Anyone considering donating should go on before they decide.


The actor, playwright, managing director and producer lives in Toronto. She donated in 2004.

Why I chose to donate

I saw an ad on a library noticeboard and thought: I could do that. I could help someone. We agreed I'd be paid $4,000. At first, it was all very open and honest with the clinic, and all of a sudden it became very hush-hush.

[The new law, prohibiting payment, came into force that year - after she'd started but before she'd finished the donation process.] I wouldn't have done it if there hadn't been money, but money wasn't the main motivation.

What my experience was like

I didn't have any trouble. I didn't gain weight, didn't have any problems from the drugs, didn't experience any pain. On the day of the retrieval I had my friends over for a party, then flew off to Calgary to visit my boyfriend.

The most difficult part

It has really hit me in the past few years that there may be longterm consequences of doing this.

I did ask at the time. I was told there were no known side-effects.

I realize now that's because no one has ever done any studies on it. I feel betrayed by the doctor.

Now I'm wondering if that is why my period is so strange. Is that why I couldn't get pregnant when I tried for a year, a few years back? The best part Knowing there's a kid out there for a mother who wanted him.

Meeting the child

I would have liked to be involved in the child's life, but I'm not. It creeps me out that I could walk by him in the street and not know who he was.

The mom contacted me and asked if I was willing to do it again. I was in a relationship with a man and we thought we'd be together forever. He was just really against the fact that I'd done it in the first place. I told the mom I couldn't, but I lied about why.

What I wish people understood about egg donation

There aren't any long-term studies or research. So you can't really give informed consent. It's still a human experiment.

These interviews by Alison Motluk have been edited and condensed.

Associated Graphic

Kelly Salvador donated her eggs to a same-sex couple who had a son in January.


Dorothy Booher, with her daughter Annabella, developed a friendship with the woman to whom she donated her eggs.


Claire Burns worries about the long-term health consequences of her decision to donate.


Beyond arguing about trying to 'have it all'
Anne-Marie Slaughter, president and CEO of New America
Saturday, November 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B3

TORONTO -- Anne-Marie Slaughter, the Princeton professor who famously wrote "women can't have it all," cringes when she hears the words.

Ms. Slaughter resigned from her dream job at the U.S. State Department to deal with her rebellious son and then wrote about the struggles of holding a powerful job and caring for her family in The Atlantic Magazine.

The 2012 article triggered a wave of criticism and reinvigorated the debate over gender disparity. Ms.

Slaughter's long list of accomplishments, from dean and professor to top U.S. State Department official, vanished and she became known as the woman who said "women can't have it all."

Three years later, those words still haunt her.

"It implies that women want something different and special," Ms. Slaughter said over tea at the Four Seasons hotel in Toronto earlier this month. "Women want what men have. They want the ability to have a career and a family, too. And the minute you say 'have it all,' it makes us sound selfish. It makes us sound entitled. It makes us sound like we are reaching for something that men don't reach for, but that is just not true - what women want is equality."

Speaking slowly and emphatically, she says her article was widely misunderstood. "I was saying this is incredibly hard to do the way society is currently structured and we shouldn't tell women that they can do it if they just want it enough."

When Ms. Slaughter served as policy director for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from 2009 to 2011, she had a gruelling schedule that started at 4:20 a.m. on Monday and did not stop until late on Friday. She commuted between Washington and Princeton, N.J., where her husband and two sons live. The only places that were still open when she left work were 24-hour stores.

When she gave up her high-profile government job, she was painted as someone who failed to make it work, even though she was returning to her full-time position as foreign-affairs professor at Princeton. Her decision was met with scorn from some women, and she was also praised for saying it was okay to want to be at home.

Since then, Ms. Slaughter's thinking has evolved to include the other side - men. She now believes that "all the stuff that was traditionally women's work" is vital and needs to be valued in society. She concludes that the workplace has to become more flexible to allow people to care for their families and there needs to be a "men's movement" to counter social norms that maintain that child-rearing is female work.

In the wake of her article, Ms. Slaughter said she was inundated with comments from men who told her that they wanted to be involved with their families. She found that men were trapped in a gender role that dictated that their job was to earn a living.

"That is as confining a social role as the idea that a woman's job is to stay home and raise children," said Ms. Slaughter. "We don't even know how to talk about this. A 'Mr. Mom,' 'a househusband' - we have no words for saying, 'Wait a minute - a man wants to be as engaged in his family.' " Ms. Slaughter's Atlantic article and the feedback she received became the foundation of her new book, Unfinished Business.

The book suggests that equality cannot be achieved unless men and women are equally responsible for raising a family and bringing home income.

"We talk about 'working mothers' all the time. We never talk about 'working fathers.' There are so many ways in which we are constantly making clear that it is the job of the woman to balance work and family," she said.

In Canada to promote her book, Ms. Slaughter arrived at the upscale Toronto hotel promptly at our scheduled time, amid a day packed with media appearances.

Wearing a forest green suit, gold rings and earrings, she ordered a green tea and called it "very civilized" when a waitress returned with a pot of tea and a small dish of honey.

Since 2013, the 57-year-old mother of two teenaged boys has served as chief executive of New America, a think tank that describes itself as a tech lab, intellectual venture-capital fund and public forum. The position allows Ms. Slaughter to spend time with her children and husband, Andrew Moravcsik, who is also a Princeton professor.

Mr. Moravcsik was their family's primary caregiver throughout his wife's career, which included serving as dean of Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He and Ms. Slaughter strongly believe one person has to slow down their career to properly care for their children.

Mr. Moravcsik wrote a piece in the Atlantic last month explaining his decision to put his career on hold. "I value professional success. But Anne-Marie is more competitive and driven than I am.

Her achievements make me proud, and the balance we have struck leaves us happier as a couple," he said.

But the workplace also has to change, given that companies are losing part of their work force when parents take time off to raise children, Ms. Slaughter says.

Among female part-time workers, a quarter are doing so to take care of children. That compares with 4 per cent of part-time male workers, according to Statistics Canada's latest data that looked at the prime working age, between 25 to 54 years old.

Although women have made progress over the past century, they are still grossly unrepresented in top positions and routinely earn less than men.

As of August, 18 women were serving as a head of government or head of state worldwide, according to the United Nations.

In Canada, women hold 8.5 per cent of the top corporate jobs, according to executive recruitment firm Rosenzweig & Company. On average, women earned 72 cents for every dollar a man made, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada that looked at full-time workers.

When Ms. Slaughter was at the State Department, she said she constantly saw women being penalized for being aggressive.

"Anybody who gets things done, you are going to have to break some china. I saw that constantly in the State Department. 'She has sharp elbows' and that would block her promotion. Whereas the guy, if he did that, he is a doer, he is a bold doer," she said.

Regardless, Ms. Slaughter said even as she advises young women to be assertive, she cautions against being too assertive.

"That is one reason you have to be careful with advice like 'negotiate hard,' because you can't be just like a man. You have to play the man's game, but recognize that the standards are still different for women," she said.

Ms. Slaughter sees gender politics playing out in the U.S. presidential race, in which her former boss Ms. Clinton is the frontrunner to become the Democratic Party's presidential candidate. Ms. Clinton has been referred to as a calculating woman, a jab Ms. Slaughter said is a "classic way you put down a woman in power."

"She is 'calculating'! Well, yeah, she is figuring out how to get ahead in the world. Oooh-kay, that is really a problem," Ms. Slaughter said.

The former professor adds she had never experienced sexism until she moved to Washington to serve as the State Department's director of policy planning, the first woman to hold the job. She characterized it as an old boys' club in national security and said it was the only time she "really felt shut out as a woman."

Ms. Slaughter's message counters one from Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook Inc., whose book Lean In concludes that women have been conditioned to take a back seat to the detriment of their careers. Ms. Sandberg's book triggered a "lean in" feminist movement with groups around the world.

While Ms. Slaughter agrees with Ms. Sandberg's advice for women to speak up, she disagrees with the idea that women can control the fate of their families and careers. Instead, she believes the workplace itself has to be overhauled. "It is not expensive to set up women's mentoring and confidence seminars. That is on the margins," she said. "I am saying, we really have to change the way women work and the way men work.

"You can't fix that by confidence. You have to fix that by making room for care."


Age: 57

Birthplace: Charlottesville, Va.

Education: B.A. from Princeton, M.Phil. and D.Phil. (also known as PhD) in international relations from Oxford, J.D. from Harvard.

Family: Married to Andrew Moravcsik, a Princeton professor, for 22 years; two sons, aged 19 and 16.

Epitaph: Made a difference in the world

Favourite bands: Talking Heads and Roxy Music

Favourite food: Italian

What excites her in the workplace: "Millennials and their attitudes about gender equality and the roles they expect to play as parents. Many men want a different role than their fathers."

Associated Graphic


'We don't have to follow trends'
Shoe designer John Fluevog has spent the past 45 years creating his own fashions rather than following fads. The result: a storied career that's still going strong
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, November 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L4 @Jeanne_Beker

Not many Canadian designers can boast a successful 45-year history, not only inspiring styleseekers, but challenging trends and thinking outside the conventional shoebox. It's something Vancouverbased John Fluevog can be proud of, having created an international reputation for his spirited footwear, with legions of followers who appreciate both boldness and whimsy in design. From Madonna to Alice Cooper, celebrities and style mavens alike regularly look to Fluevog for unique and edgy statements in the shoe department. It all started for the 67-year-old entrepreneur back in 1970, when he returned from a hitchhiking trip along the west coast. Teaming up with fellow shoe designer Peter Fox, they opened a store in Vancouver's hip Gastown district. After a decade, the two split, and in 1985 Fluevog went on to open his own shoe emporium in Seattle -- the fi rst of many that would spring up throughout North America. I caught up with Fluevog recently in Toronto at his impressive Distillery District store to talk about the role shoes play in our lives, why he refuses to follow trends, and what it is that ultimately drives him.

I still remember the days when one had a precious handful of shoes in the closet. But now it's like we've all become hoarders, and I hope I'm not just speaking for myself. It seems that we can't get enough shoes.

Aren't I lucky?

Is it because we're exposed to so much that we want so much, and it's not just about one look?

Our whole society is sped up. People are more aware of not just shoes, but a lot of things. We're living in bigger cities so people are looking at each other more.

There are more options. How you look has become a more important factor.

Where you work is important to you, even the kind of building you work in: Is it ecologically correct? It's how you present yourself, right across the board. It's not just shoes.

But shoes drive a lot of it in terms of wanting to update a wardrobe. That's usually the fi rst thing that you look at.

Well, let's take it on a fundamental level.

You can't buy used shoes. You can't thrift used shoes... Some people do.

Not very well. You've got size issues.

Shoes have to fit and work and function.

And they wear out. But there's also so much clothing out there. And it's getting slightly uncool to have so many clothes because of all the environmental issues that are coming up around that. And people want to know where things are made. Footwear at my end of the market is about craftsmanship. They're made by hand in little factories around the world. There's a ton of craftsmanship that goes into them, and they're complicated.

How do you think we'll reflect back on this particular era we're living in?

I'd say we have been going through what I call an "urban farmer" phase. So natural, simple, but yet quite precise. I saw this guy that sold his company for a billion dollars and he's looking like he's wearing Keds. He doesn't look like money at all.

But you still produce a lot of stuff that reflects a very fanciful, very ornate time.

That's sort of the general market. And because I'm a boutique business, I've never really followed exact trends because I can't. It's partly mercenary.

I can't compete on that kind of level.

And I don't want to. It doesn't feel good to me. So I like doing my own thing and I think that's probably why I've stayed in business all these years.

You have always marched to the beat of your own drum. You took shoe design to a whole other level and did it unabashedly, unapologetically. Where did that attitude come from? Were you just born that way?

No, not at all. I never had a fashion background. I never went to university.

I'm dyslexic. I never went to art school.

So you can almost say that the business, for me, has been an exercise in me fi nding out about myself, fi nding out that I can do things, fi nding out that what I think is okay. And I hope that encourages people to go and do things.

There isn't a wrong. We don't have to follow trends. Following trends doesn't mean that it's right, in fact, it's actually more difficult. Let's be ourselves.

But I'm sure there were times when it was scary for you. There are obviously no guarantees when you do something that it's going to be that original, that unique... It's true. It's not easy when everyone else is wearing high spiky pointy things to come out with a squat round thing in bright colours. But at the same time there are people out there who appreciate it, and I have loyal customers. I have the blog "Fluevog Friday," where there are people who are just independently following the brand.

The notion of buying shoes online has become increasingly popular.

You've got these impressive bricks and mortar outlets, but how does that compare to what you're doing here on ground level?

Well, it's been growing all the time. My stores are like a window to the Internet. Somebody may not buy the fi rst time they come in, but they'll have seen the store, and they'll have confidence because they see the product in the environment. Then when they go home and see it on their screen, they have a better sense of it. We sell a lot of shoes online.

Obviously you're happy to sell shoes anyway you can, but do you think your approach to retail will change much, or will you always be adamant about having your stores as fi xtures?

I like that my stores have a good sense of reflection of me as a person. Call me an egomaniac, but I just like the way that feels. So yeah, I love my retail stores! How driven are you these days? Are you at a stage of your life now when you feel less angsty about things?

I'm angsty every day of my life! As you can imagine, there are a lot of wheels flying around in a company like mine.

There are factories all around the world, I've got leathers importing into different places, I've got price issues I'm dealing with, I've got all the heels and components, and I've got 3-D images flying around, I've got stuff in all the retail stores - inventory control issues and cash flows. So there is that side of me. But I guess I have two sides to my brain. I can go to this one that lets it all go and I just go zooming off, and the other side I come back and I come into a retail store and I go, "Get this store cleaned up, it's a mess! I want this changed, get me that fi xed, blah blah blah," because it's business right? I have to have both.

What excites you the most now, looking toward the future?

You know what gets me going? Shoes. I love doing them. I see things in my mind's eye and then I enjoy being able to draw them. And I give them to my design team, and they go off and produce them. And then when I start to see it emerge as a collection, it's fun. It's exciting. And I like working on cars and customizing them and I like building my apartment and homes and furniture and stuff. As a designer, you like designing, right? I've always been interested in how things look. It's important to me. I will go to no end just to change some tiny little detail because I don't like the way it looks. So I just love how lines and shapes and colours make people feel. When I'm designing things, I have a sense of how things are going to make somebody feel. It's an emotion, and that's what fashion is all about: It's a feel-good thing. And it's a way of telling people who we are, what we're up to. And I believe it's a way of communicating with the creator. I think we're all made individually, we're all made perfectly, there's no mistake with whatever we are and who are... It's taking this pleasure in who we are.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Associated Graphic

FOOTLOOSE John Fluevog designs his footwear with emotion in mind - he intends his fashion to be "feel-good."

WELL HEELED A sampling of Fluevog spring 2016 designs that will soon be in stores and on feet across the country.

STEPPING OUT Madonna flaunts a pair of Fluevog Munsters on the red carpet.

With love from India, Tanzania and beyond
Pakistan-raised Noureen Feerasta brings her far-flung influences to the menu of her first restaurant on Queen Street West
Saturday, November 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page M2

Rickshaw Bar opened at the end of August with none of the fanfare that customarily greets new restaurant openings.

Its chef, Noureen Feerasta, avoided pre-opening press and insisted through the first month of business that the South and Southeast Asian-inspired spot wasn't, in fact, in business officially.

When I stopped in for the first time at the end of October, two months after Rickshaw Bar opened, Ms. Feerasta said, "We've only been open for four weeks."

Three weeks later, she said they had now been open for just barely six.

That little Queen Street kitchen sells deliciously punchy mango chicken salad and East African cob corn curry, and a killer khao shay with crunchy house-made paratha strips. But Ms. Feerasta, who is 28 and grew up in Lahore, Pakistan, became a chef against her family's wishes. Maybe this is why she can seem short on confidence. "Come in and give us your feedback!" a sign outside the restaurant pleaded during Rickshaw Bar's long soft opening. "As long as we get 10 votes, we'll put it on the menu," she said last month as we tried one of Rickshaw Bar's newest specials. (It was seared fish with lemon grass and chilies, sublimely tasty.) You get the sense that the stakes for Ms. Feerasta are higher than for most.

The room is long and thin, like so many spots on Queen Street.

She kept the decor largely as she found it: barn boards, brick walls, Rube Goldberg copper chandeliers, with just a single notable touch, a glittering, hand-beaded and embroidered dress from a momentous part of her life in Pakistan, to make the place her own. The concept - the snack bar, that most-overplayed of restaurant genres - is seemingly designed with just one goal: to convey safety and approachability. Snack bars are the Tinder dates of the restaurant world, all commitment-free conviviality.

You can get the entire menu here, enough for four hungry people, for around $130.

It works just fine, but I can't help thinking that Ms. Feerasta, who came up through Origin on King Street, and Momofuku Noodle Bar, is selling her cooking short. While she demands little of her customers, her end is all commitment - for instance, Rickshaw Bar's "Ismaili beef curry," which is built from an entire day's labour. It's made from cashews, dehydrated chickpeas, toasted coriander seeds, tamarind and two dozen other ingredients, it's silky-rich and exquisitely engrossing, and it sells for a laughable $14 a bowl. "It's been in my family for four generations so I hope you enjoy it as much as I do," the chef said as she brought it to the table one night.

It's food for kings, sold on the cheap to slouching Queen West Yelpers. But it's a start too, an excellent one, and that's what Ms. Feerasta has craved for most of her life.

As a girl in Lahore, she used to beg her parents to let her help in the kitchen. Studies come first, they always insisted, and so she learned to race through her school work. At the age of 9, she decided that she wanted to be a professional chef. "But having brown parents, obviously that is not an acceptable career choice," she said.

When her parents split up, she moved with her mother and sister to Florida. At one point, her parents worried that she was becoming too American, and so they took her back to Pakistan.

That's where that dress on the wall is from. It was intended for her wedding. She was 17 and thought she was in love. "I would never have become a chef if I went through with it," she told me. She called it off three days before the big event.

Ms. Feerasta went to Concordia University to study marketing, and took a job as a cook at a Montreal pizza shop. She hated her studies but loved the job.

"Once I failed all my exams in third year, my parents kind of disowned me," she said. She has been saving up for the past 12 years to open her own place.

Rickshaw Bar's menu mines Indian and Pakistani staple foods, as well as a few dishes from Burma (her paternal grandfather's family lived there) and the East African Ismaili Muslim diaspora (her family is Ismaili). It's got the modern verve and lightness to bring it into right now.

Her scallop ceviche plays the ubiquitous dish like a Mumbaistyle street snack, combining scallops and lime, chilies and radishes, coconut milk, puffed rice and the fruity, gently pongy taste of chaat masala spice mix.

It's a taste of the melting pot, a bhelpuri walla just back from the Peruvian seashore, set up on Queen Street West.

Ms. Feerasta's chicken and mango salad includes the expected red cabbage, citrus, lime leaves and pickled cucumbers in addition to the juicy mango chunks, but there's also toasty, sweetly starchy crunch from deep-fried chickpeas: delicious.

Her pakoras are lighter than the usual - they're dredged in a dry coating instead of battered - and include green apple matchsticks in addition to potato and zucchini. She serves them with a fresh green chutney. It's all seasoned aggressively, to encourage loose talk and drinking. Those pakoras go down exceedingly well.

Other South Asian dishes are tasty enough if you don't think too much about their inspiration.

Rickshaw Bar's naan kabab is a decent, oven-baked flatbread topped with rich, gingery spiced beef and the Persian-style raita called mast-o-khiar. At face value, it's great; just don't try comparing them to proper stuffed naans that are made in tandoor ovens.

The chef also makes the layered Indian flatbreads called parathas, and these are good, but then she puts them to use as the wrappers for paratha tacos. Tacos sell, and Rickshaw Bar is a business, but those paratha tacos are the least memorable dishes she makes.

Her cooking from Southeast Asia and Africa is the standout. It tastes like confidence, like the work of a chef who knows she's got something great. Ms. Feerasta's Tanzanian-style makai curry is made from corn stock and cashew nuts, the broth light and gently sweet with a skim of red chili spice for fiery interest. She adds grilled eggplant and zucchini for vegetal depth and smokiness, and thin rounds of cob corn that you're meant to spear and eat with wooden skewers. These are brilliant flavours; that stew even happens to be vegan.

Her Burmese-style khao shay combines soft braised beef and a zippy coconut and lime broth, with coriander stems, chili oil and strips of Ms. Feerasta's parathas, which she deep-fries into starchy, beautifully savoury noodles. And that all-day Ismaili beef curry is a work of art, with spices and influences from around the planet. "When you taste it, you can't necessarily pinpoint an origin," she said on the phone this week. "That's pretty much the same with Ismailis - we're from all over."

Her parents came around, eventually - her mother first, and then her father, who was always a globetrotting foodie. He realized that chef might be an acceptable career choice for his daughter when his daughter landed a 21/2-month stage at the three-Michelin-starred Alinea in Chicago a few years back.

"They're okay with me now," Ms. Feerasta said.

And in any case, her upbringing runs through almost everything at Rickshaw Bar. One of the chef's fondest food memories is of some sweets her dad brought back from a business trip one year. She remembers that they were crispy and sweet and tasted of cardamom. She remembers that they came covered with rose petals and blew her little mind.

And so she reduces milk for hours on low heat until it's thick and sweet but hasn't started to brown from caramelizing. She flavours it with cardamom and slips it into phyllo pockets, which she deep-fries to crisp and scatters with almond shavings. That "crispy milk pastry," as she calls it, comes topped with dehydrated rose petals. It's a stunner of a finish. And, at $5 a serving, she's practically giving that dessert away.

Follow me on Twitter: @cnutsmith



685 Queen St. W. (at Markham Street), 647-352-1227, .

Atmosphere: A friendly downtown small-plates spot with kind but not altogether polished service and a bustling open kitchen.

Wine and drinks: Short, inexpensive wine and beer list and decent cocktails.

Best bets: Chicken mango salad, pakoras, scallop ceviche, beef curry, khao shay, makai curry, crispy milk pastry.

Prices: Small sharing plates, $5 to $14.

A Cheap Eats pick, where you can dine well for under $30, before alcohol, tax and tip.

Associated Graphic

Chef Noureen Feerasta's saffron jinn cocktail complements her menu.


The chicken mango salad, left, gets crunch from deep-fried chickpeas and the Tanzanian-style makai curry has brilliant flavours, and is even vegan.

From shinny to shining
Even on a struggling team such as Edmonton, Taylor Hall is reliable as both a player and a leader - something he credits the backyard rink his dad built him, Marty Klinkenberg writes
Saturday, November 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S1

EDMONTON -- For Taylor Hall, it all started on the rink his father flooded behind their house in southern Alberta. Taylor spent hours on the ice there as a kid, avoiding the big poplar in the middle he imagined was the punishing Scott Stevens, imitating the moves of his favourite player, Jarome Iginla.

"That backyard rink was so awesome," Hall says.

"I didn't have any brothers and sisters, so I usually was out there doodling around by myself. It is where I really got better and learned to play the game. I am so grateful to my dad."

Now 24 and an alternate captain of the Edmonton Oilers, Hall enters Saturday night's game in Pittsburgh among the NHL's scoring leaders.

He is also growing into a behind-the-scenes role as a luminary in the dressing room.

In just one example, he took on Connor McDavid as a roommate before the season.

Hall, a fellow No. 1 draft pick, has experienced some of the same things as the sensational 18-year-old rookie. As a veteran of four NHL seasons, he believes there is wisdom he can impart.

"As soon as we won the lottery, I started thinking about taking Connor under my wing and asking him to move in with me," Hall says. "I wanted to act responsibly and be a role model for him. As you get older, you find out what kind of leader you are. I am not going to say it has changed my life, but it has been good for me."

Hall has been the best Oiler on the ice since McDavid broke his collarbone crashing into the boards on Nov. 3. His growth as a player and his budding maturity can be traced to the rink fashioned by his father, a former Canadian Football League player.

Perseverance born from solitude bred characteristics of a natural leader that would emerge in time.

That time seems to be now.

"All sports are the same," says his dad, Steve Hall. "You prepare properly and are calm but ready.

Early on, it is easier to be hesitant the higher the pressure is.

Now, he is not afraid."

A wide receiver and defensive back who could run 40 yards in 4.5 seconds, Steve Hall was drafted in the fourth round in 1983 by the Edmonton Eskimos. He reported to camp with Warren Moon but was dealt to Winnipeg before he ever caught one of the

Hall of Fame quarterback's tight spirals. Stops in Toronto and Ottawa followed before a balky hamstring led Hall to call it a career.

Settling in Calgary, he became a brakeman and driver for the Canadian bobsleigh team, during which time Taylor was born. The boy played organized hockey for the first time at five, but it wasn't until much later, after innumerable hours of lonesome shinny, that he began to shine.

"He was able to go out whenever he wanted and that's what he did," Steve Hall says. "I made him a rink to give him freedom.

He was able to try things without anybody watching, and that's how he got good. It was the time of Taylor's life."

When nobody else was around, Steve Hall went out and played goalie for his son.

"I did it until I got a puck between the eyes, and my wife told me I had to stop," he says. "I'm a brave guy. I would drive a bobsled at 100 miles per hour, but getting hit with a puck wasn't fun."

'I knew he was special'

At 16, Taylor Hall joined the Windsor Spitfires as the second player drafted in the Ontario Hockey League, and less than a year later was featured in Sports Illustrated in an article that profiled athletes poised to become stars in a variety of sports.

"Every mom thinks their kid is the best, but once he hit juniors I knew he was special," says Taylor's mother, Kim Strba.

Hall scored a team-high 45 goals and was named the Canadian Hockey League rookie of the year in his first season, then led the Spitfires to Memorial Cup titles the next two years.

A little more than a month after he won the second, the Oilers chose him with the first selection in the NHL entry draft.

He was in the lineup on opening night when Edmonton took on the Calgary Flames in October, 2010, and has never once played in the minor leagues.

Playing on a team that has almost always been last or near it, Hall has done well since then, finishing in the top 10 in scoring twice. To suggest that it has been easy, however, would be misguided. He has missed 77 games with injuries in his first four seasons, and has had to constantly adjust to new head coaches.

Todd McLellan is Edmonton's fifth head coach in as many years; if the Oilers miss the playoffs again, it will be for the 10th consecutive year.

"It's hard not to get upset when you are constantly losing," Hall says. "You take it pretty personally. But you learn that no one person is going to take you to the Stanley Cup. It is a team thing, and it is up to all of us. I would like to see more progress, but I think we are changing the way we play. We are almost there."

After spotting the Canadiens a three-goal lead on Oct. 30, the Oilers roared back for a 5-4 victory. The following night, they rallied from a two-goal deficit to tie Calgary in the final seven minutes, only to lose with nine seconds left.

At one point, they played five consecutive games that were decided by one goal; on Monday night in Washington, they lost 1-0 after surrendering another late goal.

"I am tired of not putting points in the bank, but I am satisfied with the progress," McLellan said after the loss to the Capitals. "The improvement is there. It hasn't always been enough to get points, but they will come."

McLellan, who came to Edmonton after eight years in San Jose, says he appreciates Hall more as his head coach than he did from the opposing side. "I see him drive our team on a nightly basis," he says.

"There are things you don't see from another team's bench. He has a real strong passion for hockey."

'We didn't have time to let them grow'

Even as the Oilers struggled to a 29-44-9 record, Hall registered a career-high 80 points during the 2013-14 season. He finished in a sixth-place tie with Toronto's Phil Kessel in NHL scoring, was eighth with 53 assists and fifth in the league with an average of 1.07 points per game.

"We were not a great possession team and were getting outchanced every night, but Taylor was able to put up those numbers," says Dallas Eakins, the Oilers' former head coach. "For him to have that kind of a season was impressive."

Fired 31 games into the 1014-15 season, Eakins says he wonders whether Hall and some of the Oilers' other young prospects were best served by being placed immediately in the NHL. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov, the No. 1 picks in 2011 and 2012, also bypassed the minor leagues.

"It was unfortunate for the guys in Edmonton," says Eakins, now the coach of the Ducks' AHL affiliate in San Diego. "All those players with little experience had the weight of the world on their shoulders. We didn't have time to let them grow.

"If you took our lineup and tried to match it up against the experience of other teams, it was difficult. But what's going to happen is that all of those players are going to mature, and it will be hard for anyone else to match up against them. The whole crop should get better, both individually and as a team."

As he has become a better leader, Hall has also become a better player.

"I think he is excited," says his agent, Jeff Jackson. "He is at a point in his career where he wants to take a leadership role.

Some guys don't step up, but others do. It just takes time."

Each off-season, Hall returns to his family's home in Kingston to train with his father and work toward better results. As part of Taylor's training, Steve Hall tosses passes as Taylor runs widereceiver routes. He jokes that his son is so good that he should try out for the Eskimos.

"I think the Oilers' ship is going to turn," Steve Hall says.

"It just hasn't happened yet. I think before too long, Taylor is going to drag the Oilers screaming and kicking into the fight.

And when they get there, they are going to win some of those fights."

Follow me on Twitter: @globemarty

Associated Graphic

Since Connor McDavid, left, broke his collarbone at the beginning of November, his roommate, Taylor Hall, centre, has been Edmonton's best player on the ice.


Requiem for a stream
Rdio was a rare success in Canada, and its bankruptcy filing is a sign of what's to come
Saturday, November 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R11

As we approach two decades of upheaval in the music industry, it's only human to want to cling to constants. Music itself is a constant. We use it to soundtrack our lives, build collections and communities around it. How we listen to it, though, has changed drastically. A single generation has watched formats fight for dominance, from cassettes to CDs to downloads to streaming.

Streaming is terrible for artists, no question, but for fans, it has a refreshing sense of finality. At last, universal access to the songs we want for a half-decent price. At last, a constant.

Which is great, until those songs disappear. That's about to happen for everyone using Rdio, the ondemand streaming service that last week revealed it was filing for bankruptcy and selling assets to Internet radio giant Pandora, like a used car that's only good for a few parts. For much of the world, this wasn't a big deal: Rdio had long trailed Spotify for streamingmusic dominance. But its closing will be felt most strongly in Canada.

We're rarely a first stop for tech startups, especially those in industries that rely on tangled webs of licensing agreements for content. This is a country so small, with a music-licensing system so frustrating, that Spotify didn't even show up until 2014.

But Rdio gave Canada a chance, launching here in 2010 and becoming a haven for early adopters. The loss of Rdio is a sign of the inevitable contraction of the music-streaming world - how many 2003-era iTunes competitors can you name? - and it'll be felt harder here than most other countries.

Bankruptcy filings indicate the service likely only had about 150,000 total paying users, far below the 20 million that Spotify boasts. In a candid interview a few days after the Pandora sale was announced, Rdio's chief executive officer, Anthony Bay, says Canadians were far more loyal to Rdio than users in other countries, sticking with the service for the long term even as competitors arrived. It was Rdio's secondbiggest market, punching far above its usual weight on the tech-world stage.

"It's a very attractive market," Bay says. "If everywhere was like Canada, maybe we'd still be around."

Canadian haven The San Francisco-based Rdio was arguably the first major international on-demand streaming service to plant its feet in Canada and stay here. Back then, Spotify was reticent to enter the country, Deezer was holding off, too, and Apple was hesitant to try streaming at all. Hungry music-industry types were eager to try this new way of listening and Rdio delivered.

"It was the service that convinced me that 'renting' music was not a bad idea," says Alan Cross, host of the widely syndicated radio show The Ongoing History of New Music. He signed up as soon as Rdio came to Canada, uses the service to share playlists from his show and plans to use it until it shuts down.

Cross is one of many Canadians for whom Rdio became synonymous with streaming, simply because it gave Canada a chance.

"I could sit at Starbucks with the dogs on a Sunday morning, read about a song in my e-mail and be listening it to in 20 seconds. It was indistinguishable from magic."

Sari Delmar, CEO of of the music-focused lifestyle company AB Co., was skeptical of streaming until she tried Rdio when it was the only game in town. She realized it made finding new music - and old favourites - bafflingly easy. "I wanted to be the punkrock person who held onto my vinyl and physical music, and say, 'This isn't best for the artists,' " she says. Her company, then called Audio Blood, soon became active on the service, building profiles for the artists it worked with and seeking out new ones.

"Rdio changed how I was listening to music," Delmar says.

In a market free from major competitors - well, mostly Spotify - the service embedded itself in the Canadian music establishment. Rdio sponsored the Polaris Music Prize for two years, also creating playlists for its short and long lists of nominated albums.

And Exclaim! magazine, one of the last bastions of print music journalism in this country, has used Rdio to share playlists with fans for years.

"The number of ways you could organize music - by artist, by label, even by related artists - made it ideal for falling down musical rabbit holes and discovering things easily," says Exclaim! senior editor Stephen Carlick. "By the time other streaming services came to Canada, people were already using Rdio, but Spotify or Deezer easily could have swayed them, and me. But they didn't - Rdio remained the easiest to navigate as a music fan."

But when Spotify finally came to Canada in 2014, it came to conquer, deftly marketing itself and swiftly building professional relationships. Exclaim! started straddling multiple allegiances, sharing playlists on both services.

Spotify jumped to sponsor the Polaris Prize's annual gala, too.

Early adopters stuck with Rdio, but Spotify excelled at signing up new users. The question "Hey, have you heard of Spotify?" became more and more frequent, irking many people who'd been streaming for years.

Squeezed out Whispered rumours about Rdio's financial well-being began floating around a couple years ago as the company cut employees and nixed its Canadian office. It eventually partnered with Shaw Communications to bring a local focus to its advertising here, relaunching a Canadian office in the process, but many people watching the streaming industry noticed that Rdio's marketing was by then falling short of its strategic ambitions. "Their brand went a little bit cold," Delmar says.

Not that there was much money to spend on marketing. Rdio's Bay has publicly spoken about streaming music's unprofitability, but bankruptcy filings obtained by The Globe and Mail show just how much the company truly struggled. Rdio owed money to numerous labels and other clients, and lately had been losing between $1.8-million and $2.4million (U.S.) a month. In spite of its recent advertising deal with Shaw, the high costs of music licensing and salaries for 140 staff far outweighed the company's revenue.

Rdio, the filings state, "no longer has the economic means of funding such significant operating cash flow shortfall." The death of Rdio did not come as much of a surprise to others in the streaming industry. It was always smaller than Spotify, was likely eclipsed by Deezer and was certainly afflicted when Apple joined the streaming world last summer.

Fourth place is a tough spot. "You need [a] much larger scale to be able to build world-class products," says Tyler Goldman, Deezer's North America CEO.

Scale is inherently easier for huge companies such as Apple and Google, which can also afford to take losses on their streaming products for as long as they want without affecting their broader finances. For stand-alone services, such as Deezer, Spotify and, for a while longer, Rdio, scaling up is the clearest path to profit.

The profit unicorn As the industry matures and big names such as Apple enter the game, not everyone will be blessed with scale. Pandora, which has 78 million Internet radio listeners across three countries, will benefit, at least for a while, from Rdio's global connections.

Goldman insists Deezer, which is available in more than 180 countries, is much better positioned than Rdio was to scale up and further invest in the service.

Eric Boyko, a long-time observer of the streaming sector, has a little less faith in stand-alone services. He's expanded his digitalmusic-channel company, Montreal's Stingray Digital, into more than 100 countries through a business-to-business TV model that avoids the high costs of direct-to-consumer streaming.

"At the end of the day, they're walking zombies," Boyko says.

"It's a matter of time before they don't exist."

It's something Bay has given a lot of thought to. When physical sales plunged, he points out, independent retailers went out of business as box stores such as Wal-Mart simply rearranged their shelves. Rdio could be the canary in the coal mine, the first big stand-alone service among many to disappear. Canada's earlyadopting music fanatics are lamenting Rdio's loss, but those feelings could soon be felt by far more people in far more countries. If the industry itself isn't sustainable, individual companies can only survive so long.

Music is expensive. Rights holders - usually labels and publishers - are so used to CD-era revenue that licensing costs can be enormous. Bay makes a softdrink analogy: If Coca-Cola made its syrup too expensive, customers would be furious if the costs rose, meaning it's the middlemen - bottlers, retailers - that would be threatened the most.

But Coca-Cola can't get the product to the customers without those middlemen, Bay says. "If the retailers can't make money, then what you end up with is companies in the business who don't need to make money."

The jelly shot, that wobbly, saccharine, booze-saturated staple of college house parties, is being refined as a sophisticated and visually striking option for grown-up entertaining. Michael Elliott helps you get set for holiday cocktail hour with solid takes on classic libations
Friday, November 20, 2015 – Print Edition, Page P56

Unless you're eight and celebrating your birthday, the sight of colourful jelly at a party rarely inspires expectations of a good time to come. It might remind you of that Sunday afternoon, during your college days, when you nursed a brutal hangover brought on by downing a tray of sugary vodka set in Dixie cups. Or, perhaps, it brings back memories of trying to convince Granny that, as delicious as her potluck staple multicoloured, marshmallow-pocked Jell-O salad was, you couldn't possibly eat another bite. And let's not even talk about aspic.

But, thanks to a few creative mixologists - most notably the British boozy jelly specialists Bompas and Parr - there is new hope for gelatin as an entertaining essential in the form of bite-sized versions of otherwise classically crafted cocktails. Think manhattan cubes and dark and stormy domes that can be made in advance and passed to guests, freeing up a host from hours of bartending duty.

Though gelatin is easiest to find in powdered form, these recipes call for leaf or sheet gelatin, which can be sourced online or at specialty grocery stores. The sheets help jellies set more clearly but, in a pinch, you can still use the powder by substituting one teaspoon per sheet. Make sure to soak the gelatin in sufficiently cold liquid that it dissolves properly. Jelly is, thankfully, very forgiving, and if you add too much or too little gelatin, you can gently re-melt your jelly and add more liquid or gelatin before setting it again.

Dry cocktails - say, a martini - don't taste good in jelly form so sugar syrup is an important element in many of these recipes. To make it, bring an equal volume of sugar and water to a boil before cooling it down. Sugar also contributes to the gelling effect, as does alcohol in lower concentrations. Anything over 40 per cent will set poorly so, alas, you won't be able to make pure gin jelly.

While you can pour jelly into just about anything hollow to give it a unique shape, getting it out can prove tricky depending on the form. Metal vessels like miniature muffin tins work well, as do silicone baking moulds. For jellies that get carved up into cubes, try a loaf or brownie pan but don't use anything ceramic or too thick.

To remove the jelly, dip the mould in hot water for a few seconds (more if you're using silicone or plastic). Invert the pan, pulling the jelly gently to one side until it releases. Lightly wetting your hands, the serving platter and the jellies will make them easier to handle. Unmoulding can be finicky, but don't worry if you break your first jelly or melt it too much. The chef gets to eat all the mistakes, after all.

* * * * * * * * * *


This recipe works with either Campari or lychee alcohol. Making a batch of each will satisfy guests, whether they favour dry or sweet cocktails.


A three-step process (and the addition of green food colouring to a cucumber layer) gives this cocktail its bright, striped look.


Flavour and texture aside, the success of a jelly cocktail depends on its form. This recipe layers deep burgundy cassis and clear moscato in a modern pyramid shape.


Search out good quality ginger beer for this fresh take on a dark and stormy. Grace's from the U.K. is a flavourful option.


Achieving perfect cherry placement in this version of a classic manhattan depends on setting the jelly in two stages. You can remove the stems or leave them for visual interest.

* * * * * * * * * *



8 1/3 oz Campari or lychee liqueur

5 oz sugar syrup

3 1/3 oz water

Strips of peel from 1 orange

10 sheets gelatin

Combine all ingredients except for the gelatin and allow it to sit for 1 to 2 hours to allow the peel to infuse the liquid. Remove peel.

Cut gelatin sheets into quarters and place in a heatproof bowl. Cover with some of the liquid and allow to soak for at least 10 minutes until soft.

Place the bowl over a bain-marie of simmering water and heat, stirring occasionally until gelatin is dissolved. Mix in remaining cocktail liquid and pour into a large mould. Chill for 4 hours or overnight. Unmould, cut into cubes and serve.

Makes 8 2-oz jellies.


For the Pimm's jelly:

5 oz Pimm's

5 ¾ oz ginger ale

1 ⅔ oz sugar syrup

1 ⅔ oz lemon juice

2 ½ oz water

10 strawberries, thinly sliced

10 sheets gelatin

For the cucumber jelly:

½ cucumber, finely grated

1 oz lemon juice

1 oz sugar syrup

Green food colouring (optional)

2 sheets gelatin

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the Pimm's jelly except the gelatin. Allow to sit for 1 hour, then strain to remove strawberries. Cut gelatin sheets into quarters. Cover with some of the Pimm's mixture and allow to soak for at least 10 minutes in a heatproof bowl.

Over a bain-marie of simmering water, heat gelatin, stirring occasionally, until dissolved. Add remaining Pimm's mixture and stir. Divide a third of the mixture among cone-shaped moulds and chill to set, about 1 hour. Set remaining mixture aside.

Prepare cucumber jelly by squeezing grated cucumber in a piece of cheesecloth to extract 3 oz of juice into a heatproof bowl. Add remaining liquids and a small amount of food colouring if desired.

Cut gelatin into quarters. Cover in liquid and soak for at least 10 minutes. Over a bain-marie of simmering water, dissolve gelatin then combine with remaining cucumber mixture. Divide equally among moulds, pouring over Pimm's jelly. Chill to set, about 1 hour.

When set, divide remaining Pimm's mixture between the moulds, reheating it gently over simmering water if necessary. Chill for 4 hours or overnight. Unmould and serve.

Makes 11 2-oz jellies.


5 oz creme de cassis

10 oz moscato sparkling wine

9 sheets gelatin

In a heatproof bowl, cut 3 sheets of gelatin into quarters and add enough creme de cassis to cover. In a separate heatproof bowl, cut the remaining 6 sheets of gelatin into quarters and soak in a portion of the moscato to cover. Soak both for 10 minutes or until soft.

Over a bain-marie of simmering water, heat cassis-and-gelatin mixture, stirring occasionally until completely dissolved. Mix in remaining liqueur and divide it among 5 pyramid-shaped moulds. Chill until set, about 1 hour.

Over a bain-marie of simmering water, heat the moscato-soaked gelatin, stirring occasionally, until clear and dissolved. Mix in remaining moscato. (The mixture should be room temperature at most. If it's too hot, allow it to cool.) Divide among the moulds, pouring the mixture on top of the cassis layer. Chill for 4 hours or overnight. Unmould and serve.

Makes 5 3-oz jellies.


10 oz ginger beer

1 ⅔ oz fancy molasses

3 1/3 oz dark rum

6 sheets gelatin

In a small saucepan, boil ginger beer and reduce by half. Combine with molasses and allow to cool. Mix in rum.

Cut gelatin sheets into quarters and place in a heatproof bowl. Cover the rum mixture and allow to soak for at least 10 minutes. In a bain-marie over simmering water, heat gelatin and liquid until dissolved. Pour into dome-shaped moulds. Chill for 4 hours or overnight. Unmould and serve.

Makes 10 1-oz jellies.


6 ⅔ oz whisky

3 1/3 oz red vermouth

4 shots Angostura bitters

5 oz water

5 oz sugar syrup

12 sheets gelatin

12 maraschino cherries

Mix all the ingredients except gelatin and cherries.

Cut gelatin into quarters and place in a heatproof bowl. Add enough cocktail liquid to cover and let gelatin soak for at least 10 minutes until soft. Place over a bain-marie of simmering water and heat, stirring occasionally, until dissolved. Mix in remaining liquid.

Pour a third of liquid into a metal loaf pan. Chill until set, about 1 hour. Add remaining cocktail mixture (reheating it gently over simmering water if necessary) and place cherries in the liquid (you can adjust the placement of the cherries once the mixture begins to set in the fridge). Chill for 4 hours or overnight.

Unmould jelly and place on a lightly wet plate or board. Using a sharp, thin knife warmed in hot tap water and dried, cut jelly into squares, allotting 1 cherry per person.

Makes 12 2-oz jellies.

PHOTO SHOOT CREDITS: Prop styling by Jennifer Jacobsen/Judy Inc. Crystal blocks courtesy of Elte ( Stone surfaces courtesy of Stone Tile International ( and Upper Canada Marble & Granite. Artwork on page 56 by Jacquelyn Sloane Siklos courtesy of Canvas Gallery (

Associated Graphic


Never too far from a slope in Ski City
Featuring multiple resorts within a 45-minute drive of downtown, Salt Lake City is the next great urban ski vacation
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, November 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page T3

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Little Cottonwood Canyon seems aptly named. No mere valley, this is a steep-sided trench running east into the Wasatch mountain range in northeast Utah.

Its narrowest part is at its mouth. But as you drive further along State Route 210, up the 15kilometre canyon, you can start to see how the now widening terrain would allow enough room to lay out a few ski runs and lifts.

Then you pass Snowbird Ski Resort. By the time you round the next bend in the road and arrive at Alta Ski Area, you are in a powderhound's geography-induced fever. Alpine bowls are arranged around some of the range's highest peaks. At the end of the canyon, Alta is a good start to a tour of the seven ski areas that crowd Salt Lake City like suburbs crowd Toronto.

Salt Lake has good cause to call itself "Ski City." Utah's skiing credentials are well known. The Wasatch rises abruptly out of the flat Great Salt Lake Desert. Storms get forced up and over the 3,500metre peaks in a hurry. It means lots of dry snow on steep slopes.

As for the city part, with six major resorts within a 45-minute drive of downtown, an urban-based ski vacation is worth considering.

Some would say that a proper ski day has to end in a hot tub, with messed up hair and a bag of chips nearby. But maybe you'd like a change. And Salt Lake City has plenty to offer the visitor who has stored his skis for the night.

Ski with a local It was mid-January. Two days earlier a storm had come in from the coast and dumped 50 centimetres of dry powder on the area's ski resorts.

At Alta, sprawling, with chairlifts going off at all angles up the alpine ridge, local guides are helpful. I was following David Porter, a transplanted Minnesotan and classical violinist.

Since the wide, upper-mountain Sugarloaf basin had been mostly skied out the day before, Porter took me to the Supreme chairlift on the furthest east fringe of Alta. Here, dozens of shorter runs among the sparse trees still held a morning's worth of fresh snow caches. I followed him faithfully, even when it was clear he wasn't sure where we were going.

Porter had moved here 18 years ago, which made him a veritable Alta virgin. History is slow here: Alta opened in 1938, but it hasn't yet come around to accepting snowboards. Legend has it the wait list for the Alta ski locker room is 50 years long.

But the pace of life is noticeably quicker in the newly vibrant city down the valley. "When I moved to Salt Lake City, I was expecting a desert with a dried up lake," Porter said. "There's a lot more than people realize - a good bar scene, lots of independent music."

After a morning of blue skies and bending skis, Porter told me he had to leave for a practice run through The Pearl Fishers. It's not a ski run, it's a Georges Bizet opera.

Porter would be playing with the Utah Symphony that night, yet here he was at midday on top of one of the continent's betterknown mountains. Getting back in time to tune up wouldn't be a problem. Alta is just a 40-minute drive from downtown Salt Lake City.

More drinks than spouses On our visit, we had planned a day on the mountain at Alta, a day next door at Snowbird Ski resort (both in Little Cottonwood Canyon) and a day at Solitude Mountain Resort (one canyon to the north in Big Cottonwood Canyon). In between, we'd take in the opera and an NBA game (try seeing those in any other ski town) and sample the burgeoning brew pub, tapas and fine-dining scenes in one of the West's most historic cities.

That history wasn't always one of urban vitality. Wayward Mormons settled here, beyond the reach of secular law, in the mid-1800s. Entertainment was not an important sector of the local economy, with nightlife destinations being few and far between - literally. When church leader Brigham Young laid out the streets, he stipulated they be wide enough for an ox and cart to make a U-turn. It gives the city a very spacious, Pyongyang feel.

But modernization has made inroads. Polygamy was outlawed in 1890. Liquor laws loosened a century later. Modern Utah is a place where you can have more drinks than spouses: The city of 190,000 now has more than 140 bars.

There's a theory that Utah's formerly restrictive liquor laws inspired generations of home brewers, a heritage now sanctioned and ready to be savoured at places such as Squatters Pub Brewery (147 West Broadway).

Here, the line of taps is longer than any ski lift line I saw all week. I settled on their Respect Your Mother Organic Amber as a smooth and not-too bitter refuge from the roster of creatively named IPAs. The food is high-end pub fare with southwestern accents, good and satisfying after a day of skiing.

Having overindulged, we decided to walk it off by skipping the free ride on the city's light-rail system (all rides within downtown are free) and shuffled along for a few blocks to the arena to watch the Utah Jazz play the L.A.

Lakers. (The Utah team name is a holdover from when the Jazz were based in New Orleans. Salt Lake City stops short of being a jazz hot spot.)

Dinner on the second night was at the dimly lit Finca (327 W. 200 St.). It's a place to trade Spanish tapas dishes and appreciate how the weight of the city's 1,700 restaurants allow for a proper local and exotic supply chain. There was a time when so few chefs were demanding sea food that ingredients had to be flown in via Fed Ex. No longer.

Foremost among the cultural attractions is the Utah Symphony.

Comprising 85 players, the symphony in season performs two or three shows a week, often pairing with the Utah Opera company. An aprés-ski promotion offers a $35 concert ticket when skiers show a same-week lift ticket at the box office.

It's true, you won't find any slope-side, outdoor hot tubs in downtown Salt Lake City. But as I settled back into my chair at the historic Capitol Theatre, I closed my eyes and let the opening strains of The Pearl Fishers wash over me. Relaxation was complete, and I wouldn't have to keep getting up to press the restart button on any hot tub jets.

The writer was a guest of Visit Salt Lake. It did not review or approve the story.


Air Canada, West Jet, Delta Airlines, United Airlines and American Airlines all fly to Salt Lake City International Airport. And no rental car is necessary. TRAX light rail will get you from the airport to downtown in 10 minutes for $2.50 (U.S.). Rides within downtown are free. The UTA Ski Bus services the four Cottonwood resorts from downtown for $4.50.


In-town accommodations can be half the price of staying at the resorts. Mid-range options run through the gamut of chains, including Marriot, Hyatt, Sheraton and Hilton.

For more individual tastes, the 105-year-old, newly renovated Peery Hotel retains hints of the Old West (rooms start at $79 a night) and the Grand America abounds in tapestries, marble, fountains and chandeliers (starting at $209 a night).


Utah Symphony: This winter's performances include Lehar's The Merry Widow, Mahler's Symphony No. 8 and Verdi's Aida. Ballet West: Performances in February and March include the ballets Romeo and Juliet and Beauty and the Beast. Mormon Tabernacle Choir: Rehearsals are free every Thursday from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Leonardo Museum: Part science centre, part art gallery, part museum. Older kids will love the fusion of technology, art and science. Natural History Museum: Showcasing Utah's rich dinosaur fossil heritage. It has interactive play areas for younger kids. .


Purchase a Superpass for access to any of the four Cottonwood resorts (Alta, Brighton, Snowbird and Solitude).

It includes Ski Bus rides from downtown. Three- to 10-day packages are available, threeday passes start at $237. Buying the Superpass also gets you a 20 per cent to 40 per cent discount on rental gear.

Associated Graphic

Alta Ski Area, which opened in 1938, is sprawling, with chairlifts going off at all angles up the alpine ridge.


The Utah Symphony offers special aprés-ski discounted tickets: $35 with a same-week lift ticket.


Folio: The Taken
Tuesday, November 24, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A10

The indigenous and non-indigenous victims of these convicted serial killers

(NI) Indicates non-indigenous victim

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Robert Pickton*

Marnie Frey | Found: 2002, in Port Coquitlam, B.C.

Brenda Wolfe | Found: 2002, in Port Coquitlam, B.C.

Georgina Papin | Found: 2002, in Port Coquitlam, B.C.

Sereena Abotsway | Found: 2002, in Port Coquitlam, B.C.

Mona Wilson | Found: 2002, in Port Coquitlam, B.C.

Andrea Joesbury (NI) | Found: 2002, in Port Coquitlam, B.C.

* Pickton's farm was raided on Feb 5, 2002. Individual remains were found at different times during the coming days and months

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Shawn Lamb

Carolyn Sinclair | Found: 2012, in Winnipeg.

Lorna Blacksmith | Found: 2012, in Winnipeg.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Joseph Laboucan

Nina Courtepatte | Found: 2005, near Edmonton.

Ellie May Meyer (NI) | Found: 2005, near Edmonton.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Edward Isaac

Nina Joseph | Found: 1982, in Prince George, B.C.

Jean Kovacs (NI) | Found: 1981, near Prince George, B.C.

Roswitha Fuchsbichler (NI) | Found: 1981, near Prince George, B.C.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Traigo Andretti

Myrna Letandre | Found: 2013, in Winnipeg.

Jennifer McPherson | Found: 2013, on Hanson Island, B.C.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Cody Legebokoff

Natasha Montgomery | Missing: 2010, never located.

Cynthia Maas | Found: 2010, in Prince George, B.C.

Jill Stuchenko (NI) | Found: 2009, in Prince George, B.C.

Loren Leslie (NI) | Found: 2010, near Vanderhoof, B.C.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

John Crawford

Mary Jane Serloin | Found: 1981, in Lethbridge, Alta.

Shelley Napope | Found: 1994, near Saskatoon.

Eva Taysup | Found: 1994, near Saskatoon.

Calinda Waterhen | Found: 1994, near Saskatoon.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Brian Arp

Theresa Umphrey | Found: 1993, near Prince George, B.C.

Marnie Blanchard (NI) | Found: 1989, near Prince George, B.C.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Indigenous women in Canada are roughly seven times more likely than non-indigenous women to be slain by serial killers. The Globe and Mail reached this conclusion after a year spent building a database of homicide and long-term missing-person cases involving aboriginal women, and analyzing another containing serial-homicide cases maintained by Mike Aamodt, professor emeritus in Radford University's psychology department. If this conclusion seems straightforward, the process of reaching it was not. The term "serial killer" has a surprisingly elastic definition; subtle tweaks have radical consequences for who is considered one, and who is not. Moreover, serial homicide cases are notoriously difficult to solve and prosecute; the link between victim and offender is often challenging to ascertain, and police often have great difficulty finding a crime scene, or even the victim's remains. The Globe arrived at three distinct classifications - confirmed, probable and speculative - for known and suspected serial-homicide cases involving indigenous victims. Each sheds light on the scope and nature of the problem.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Before selecting women's lives to study for our immersive multimedia feature, The Globe first had to identify bona fide serial-homicide cases. We quickly discovered that policing agencies and academics have produced numerous definitions of "serial killer" over the years. Some differ on the number of homicides required in a series; early definitions required four or more, while newer ones accepted as few as two.

Moreover, some definitions feature varying requirements for time elapsed between killings, sometimes described as an "emotional cooling-off period." Slayings unfolding in a compressed time period by the same offender are sometimes classified as "spree" or "mass" murders, for instance. Joseph Laboucan therefore presented us something of a dilemma. He killed Ellie May Meyer on April 1, 2005. He murdered Nina Courtepatte about a day later. According to trial testimony, Mr. Laboucan sought another victim in downtown Edmonton immediately following Ms. Courtepatte's murder, but was unsuccessful. Was he a rampaging murderer or a serial killer? We classified him as the latter.

After much discussion on such technical issues, The Globe adopted a highly inclusive definition of serial homicide created by a multidisciplinary group of experts convened by the FBI in 2005: "The unlawful killing of two or more victims by the same offender(s), in separate events." The RCMP use the same definition.

One final dilemma remained: How should we treat the many homicide and missing-persons cases in which a serial killer was suspected, but where there are no convictions? Recognizing that such judgments properly belong to the courts, we adopted a restrictive caveat: The offender must have been convicted of these killings. This decision had significant implications for our analysis; it compelled us to exclude scores of cases we had originally deemed relevant.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Accepting that large numbers of alleged serial homicides never reach a judge or jury, we created another category for a handful of deaths and disappearances for which we perceive compelling reasons to suspect serial homicide. Nine of these cases relate to aboriginal women who went missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside during the years serial killer Robert Pickton was known to have murdered women. Although their DNA was found on Mr. Pickton's farm, the related charges against him were stayed. None of these women is known to have been located in the intervening years. It is worth noting that shortly after his arrest in 2002, Mr. Pickton told an undercover police officer planted in his cell that he had murdered 49 women. He was convicted of six counts of second-degree murder; there are reasonable grounds to strongly suspect serial homicide in these other cases.

The remainder of our "probable" cases pertain to Gilbert Jordan. For years, he prowled Vancouver's beer halls in search of women to drink with; by his own estimation, he drank with 200 a year throughout the 1980s. Although the exact number is disputed, several of these women - mostly indigenous - died in Mr. Jordan's company, including three in his barber shop. Although B.C.'s Court of Appeal noted that he'd "left a trail of seven victims" between 1980 and 1986, the total seems to be nine, of which eight were indigenous. Mr. Jordan ultimately received a single manslaughter conviction in connection with a non-aboriginal victim, Vanessa Buckner, so neither he nor his victims meet our criteria for confirmed cases. However, the circumstances and large numbers of deaths surrounding this individual invite strong suspicions of serial homicide, and therefore warrant including those cases in this category. Mr. Jordan's predatory behaviour continued until his death in 2006.

It is worth repeating that neither Mr. Pickton nor Mr. Jordan were convicted in connection with any of these "probable" cases. Some might regard that fact reason enough to eliminate this category entirely. Others consider it an indictment of Canada's justice system.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Indigenous female victims also appear in great numbers among clusters of unsolved homicides and disappearances. Northern British Columbia's so-called Highway of Tears offers a notorious example. For decades, women and girls have gone missing along Highway 16, which spans more than 700 kilometres between Prince George and Prince Rupert. In some cases, their bodies were subsequently discovered along the highway; in others, the womens' fates remain unknown. More victims who went missing along other northern B.C. and Alberta highways are sometimes included in this cluster. The exact number of victims is disputed, with some estimates rising above 40. Most are believed to have been aboriginal.

Many communities along the highway are beset by high levels of unemployment and poverty, and a lack of transportation options; many victims were thought to be hitchhiking at the time of their disappearance. The possible involvement of one or more serial killers has long been suspected. In 2005, the RCMP created a new team, dubbed E-Pana, to investigate that very possibility. In 2012, E-Pana announced that DNA evidence identified Bobby Jack Fowler, an American with a long and violent criminal history, as the killer of one non-aboriginal victim along the Highway of Tears. Police also announced they considered him a "strong suspect" in the deaths of two other non-aboriginal victims.

Beginning in the 1980s, Edmonton was racked by a series of unsolved disappearances and murders. Most victims were believed to be sex workers, and their remains were often discovered in fields and forested areas on the city's outskirts. Again, many of them were indigenous. RCMP and Edmonton Police formed Project KARE in 2003 to pursue many of these cases, and the RCMP's Behavioural Science Branch publicly released a profile of a killer thought to be responsible for some of them. Joseph Laboucan, with two known victims, is the first and only serial killer identified to date, although another murderer (with a single conviction) was identified as a suspect in multiple Edmonton cases. Earlier this year, the remains of two victims were found in close proximity to one another, near Leduc south of Edmonton, and just kilometres from where other bodies were found previously.

We believe some unknown number of cases from the Highway of Tears and Edmonton involved serial homicide, and classify them as "speculative." Also included in this category are homicide cases in which the accused offender faces multiple homicide charges that are currently before the courts.


Friday, November 27, 2015

Why not raise this season's entertaining to the next level by taking a page from one of history's legendary parties? Nolan Bryant regales with tales from three epic soirees then offers suggestions of how to recreate them at home
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, November 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L6

I've attended some of the most wonderful parties. It's what I do best - and I do it almost every night. But for every fun-filled fete there seem to be at least two painful duds where the host should likely be banned from all future entertaining for crimes of bad timing, lighting, food and, the most displeasing of all, a ghastly guest list. But I wouldn't dream of boring you with all that. It's far more exciting to talk about the great ones, legendary parties that shared three things: imagination, the desire to delight and a transcendent guest list. These three events are teeming with ideas to inspire your festive entertaining over the next few weeks.


Hosted by Marie-Hélène and Guy de Rothschild Marie-Hélène de Rothschild, a member of the Rothschild banking family, was known for her lavish hospitality and magnificent parties held throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

The ball was held on Dec. 12, 1972; guests ranged from actress Audrey Hepburn, who wore a wicker cage over her head, to Baroness ThyssenBornemisza, who turned up with a prosthetic head on top of her own.

The place: Château Ferrière, a family estate outside of Paris. At the time, it was an invite so coveted among Parisian society and the international jet set that attendee and legendary host in his own right Baron Alexis de Redé (who wore a Salvador Dalídesigned Mona Lisa hat inset with portraits of Marie-Hélène) later said that one social figure threatened to commit suicide unless she was invited. The evening was all about absurd juxtaposition, inspired by the surrealist movement that began in the 1920s, driven by artists like André Breton, photographer Man Ray, and later Dalí, the poster boy for the movement. Guests received their fi rst dose of what was to come upon entering the château's grounds: The main house looked as though it was going up in flames. Floodlights with amber-hued bulbs fluttered creating a burning effect, a sign that no detail in the forthcoming festivities would be overlooked. Inside, Marie-Hélène greeted her guests in a stag mask with antlers that surged many feet above her head, its eyes crying tears of diamonds.

The theme began with that coveted invitation, the details printed on clouds in reverse, which forced guests to use a mirror to read it. For your holiday do, why not channel your inner surrealist and set the theme from the start by making invitations that read "This is not a holiday party" in reference to René Magritte's The Treachery of Images? To create a surreal theme for your dinner table, add a tabletop sandbox, living plants (extra points for Venus flytraps that guests can feed between courses), or dinner rolls shaped like eggs and dyed joyful festive hues then placed in nests instead of baskets. Keen on Christmas trees? Hang one from the ceiling; it will save you floor space and, if lit from below, cast spectacular shadows.


Hosted by Don Carlos de Beistegui Le Bal Oriental or The Beistegui Ball, as it's sometimes referred to, was a masked costume ball and it's thought of as the greatest social event of the 20th century.

Held on Sept. 3, 1951, in the Palazzo Labia on Campo San Geremia, the event was about escaping gloomy postwar realities.

Decadence and naughtiness was at the core of this bash; the Venetian mask that each guest was required to wear was invented, after all, for protecting the wearer's identity during promiscuous activities. De Beistegui, dressed in long scarlet robes, a wig of cascading curls and platform shoes that elevated his 5-foot-6 height a soaring 16 inches, invited guests to turn their backs on the modern world by recreating the 18th century for one night, an époque he longed to be part of.

The ball was a magnet for everyone that mattered, Brazilian socialite and super-dresser Aimée de Heeren, Singer sewing machine heiress Daisy Fellowes, Aga Khan III and countless princes and princesses; couturiers of the moment like Christian Dior, and a new design name, Pierre Cardin, created costumes for more than 30 guests.

This ball was one of the first to mix aristocracy with the nouveau moneyed and the Hollywood set: Orson Welles attended, as did Gene Tierney, who spent $15 on her costume. In contrast, Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton was rumoured to have spent more than $15,000 on hers, excluding jewels.

In the event that you do not own a palazzo with gilded rooms, ask your neighbour if you can put all your furniture in their home for the night (extending an invitation to said neighbour is imperative), so that you have a blank canvas to work with. Round tables that seat eight or 10 are great - even better if each is decorated differently. Master the art of a crosssectioned guest list: There is nothing worse than too many rich people at one party. It's far more interesting to throw in some up-and-comers from walks of life outside those of your core guests, like budding artists, poets or the new kid at your firm - anything to shake things up and get people talking.


Hosted by John Campbell Hamilton Gordon, 7th Earl of Aberdeen, and Lady Aberdeen Lady Aberdeen chose Canadian history as the theme for a vice-regal costume ball on Feb. 17, 1896 in the Senate chamber of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. It was a fancy-dress party of grand proportions that ignited great anticipation and excitement in the city.

Guests were encouraged to dive into the country's past and attend not only dressed in period clothes but prepared to perform for the 800 in attendance a dance appropriate to their set time period. Eight prominent Ottawa women were tasked with organizing the group of guests with help from Dr. John Bourinot, the clerk of the House of Commons and a prominent historian of the day. Groups went as participants in the Fall of Port Royal (Annapolis), the Second Taking of Louisbourg, and the Expatriation of the Acadians, 1710-1758 - this last group, dressed as Acadian peasants, performed a maypole dance so popular an encore was requested by the hosts.

Lady Marjorie Gordon, the Aberdeens' daughter, was dressed as a Norsemen; Jessie Ross Robertson, a socialite, came as the Baroness of Longueuil, while George Burn attended as Jacques Cartier. Post performances, the dance floor was opened and buttoned-up Victorians quite literally let their hair down - one of the draws of a fancydress ball for women at this time was the rare opportunity to let their hair cascade around their shoulders, a style suggestive of the bedroom. Dancing and drinking continued until 5 a.m.

This very newspaper reported on the party, declaring "the brilliant spectacle was beyond comparison" and commended the Aberdeens' efforts to bring English and French together in harmony for one smashing evening. In an effort to leave their post with a bang, for their final fancy-dress ball during their term, the Aberdeens resurrected the event and theme two years later in Montreal. Another fabulous night was had by all.

A fancy-dress party is rather camp to begin with, so why not just go for it? If you want guests to dress up, tell them! However, if you are hosting a masked holiday soiree or something inspired by historical events, it's a nice idea to suggest black tie and long dress, with the addition of a mask or hat, as the full regalia of 18th-century Venice or that of Jacques Cartier might scare guests off. Also, keep a few extra masks, cloaks or hats handy - that way your guests will have no excuse not to join in on the fun. A great party should be about transporting your guests into an atmosphere of beauty, perfection and, most importantly, surprise. Your guests will hopefully leave in a state of joy and happiness after spending an evening in a different world created just for them.

With that I must leave you: I'm late for a very important date, you see, I'm off to a marvellous party. Maybe I'll see you there!

Associated Graphic

CELEBRATING HISTORY Partygoers, wearing costumes representing various periods of Canadian history, filled the Senate Chamber on Parliament Hill, Ottawa, in 1896. Ask your guests to attend in full Victorian regalia - hair and all.


THE PARTY OF THE CENTURY Guests arrived by gondola at the Palazzo Labia in Venice for Le Bal Oriental in 1951. Canals may be hard to replicate, but there are ways to throw your own Le Bal at home.


It's 2015 - someone tell Hollywood
Whistler Film Festival will include an intensive mentorship program for female directors and a panel discussion on industry equality
Saturday, November 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R8

The glass ceiling is alive and well and living in Hollywood (and anywhere else movies are made). Focus in on, say, the Independent Spirit Awards, whose nominations were announced this week: Six filmmakers up for best director - and not a woman among them.

"I just about fell down," Siobhan Devine, a Vancouver-based director whose first feature has its world premiere at the Whistler Film Festival next week, says. "In 2015. I couldn't believe that nobody was embarrassed."

It is 2015, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reminded us when asked about bringing gender parity to cabinet. And yet a stunning gender gap persists in the movies.

Cannes may have made headlines for its high-heels-or-bust red carpet stance this year, but the crème de la crème of film festivals is falling down in other ways when it comes to les femmes. Only two films that screened in competition this year were directed by women. That's the same as last year, up from one film in 2013 and zero films by women in 2012.

Paul Gratton took notice of this.

So when the director of programming for the Whistler Film Festival realized that nine of his feature film selections and more than 40 per cent of the short films for this year's WFF have a female director, his immediate thought was: That was easy; why isn't this happening elsewhere?

"I don't set out for a quota and I never choose films directed by women out of tokenism or trying to hit a target," Gratton says. But he believes films by women should "easily" make up onethird to 50 per cent at festivals.

That said, Whistler is screening 46 features - so he hasn't hit that percentage, either. (Further, two of those nine features were pulled by their distributor last week and Gratton was unable to replace them with female-directed films.)

The Whistler Film Festival, which begins on Wednesday, certainly does not have the power, profile, or pickings, of many film festivals, including Cannes, but programming - even unintentionally - nine (down to seven) feature films made by women makes a statement. Further, WFF is shining a spotlight on the issue at its concurrent industry summit with an intensive mentorship program for female screen directors (Mary Walsh is one of the participants) and a panel discussion.

Devine, who will be on that panel, has given the issue a lot of thought, but remains puzzled as to why this is still happening.

"That is the million-dollar question. I have no idea. Truly I don't.

I think the opportunity's not there because nobody wants to rock the boat."

Devine listened to Trudeau and his new cabinet being sworn in on her car radio and thought, "Jeez, if the Prime Minister of Canada can do that with what you have to say are more important jobs - then maybe we could just do that in film and television and the world would not end."

Gratton suggests film festivals should simply try harder to program films directed by women.

"That sounds really smartass. But again, I didn't have to try that hard," he says. "I still think they're not trying hard enough because the world's changing."

Even in this changing world, the picture of this industry remains sobering. A recent study by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University showed that of the 250 top grossing films in the United States, just 7 per cent were directed by women. Broaden that out to the top 700 theatrically released films in the United States in 2014 (excluding foreign films) and 13 per cent of the directors were women.

The Canadian Unions for Equality on Screen study Focus on Women 2013 found gender inequality in the film and TV industry in this country as well. It cited an earlier study (Women in View on Screen 2012) that showed women composed less than 20 per cent of directors and 21 per cent of screenwriters.

Perhaps we're at a tipping point.

Meryl Streep is funding an initiative that will mentor female screenwriters over the age of 40, announced at Tribeca. In her acceptance speech at the Oscars this year, Patricia Arquette called for pay equality for women. Jennifer Lawrence recently wrote an essay, Why Do I Make Less Than My Male Co-Stars? (sparked by learning, thanks to the Sony hack, that she was being paid less than the guys she worked with on American Hustle). The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and the national ACLU Women's Rights Project have called for an investigation of "the systemic failure to hire women directors at all levels of the film and television industry." Ashley Judd's revelation this fall that early in her career she was sexually harassed by an unnamed studio mogul was met with support (for her) and outrage (for him). A recent piece in The New York Times Magazine, The Women of Hollywood Speak Out, reported on a "toxic brew of fear and sexism" in the industry, observing that the leap from directing indie to blockbuster films "is almost exclusively reserved for young guys in baseball caps who remind older guys in baseball caps of themselves."

In Canada, the group Women in the Director's Chair is working on fixes, offering professional development for mid-career female Canadian directors. Devine won the WIDC Feature Film Award in 2013, a life-changer that allowed her to make her first feature, The Birdwatcher, which premieres at Whistler next week.

The film, about a single mother's (Camille Sullivan) quest to make plans for her children after a cancer diagnosis, was made predominantly by women. In addition to Devine, the film's screenwriter, editor, composer, many of the key crew members and most of the cast were female.

Interestingly, that San Diego State University study found that films made by female directors employed "substantially higher percentages of women in other key behind-the-scenes roles." For example, on films with female directors, women represented 52 per cent of writers. But for films directed by men, women accounted for 8 per cent of screenwriters.

Breaking into television, where Devine has spent most of her career, is also tough, she says. "It's hard for everybody, but it's harder for women. There are sometimes no women directing any episodes of an entire season of a show. It's not just infrequent; it happens a lot. And so how is [a woman entering the business] ever going to think that they are going to get to the top if they've never seen a female direct?

"I'd like my daughters to think that if they want to direct TV or movies ... they can," Devine adds.

"At the moment it's easier for my daughter to go and be a brain surgeon than to direct TV. How insane is that?" Jude Klassen, who will also premiere her debut feature film at Whistler, has found it difficult to sustain a career in television.

Klassen, who lives in Toronto, has written for film and TV (and for print as an entertainment journalist), but as employment has dried up, she has launched a bunch of her own projects, including quirky, raunchy music videos; Rob Ford has been a key muse.

Klassen's film, Love in the Sixth (which features a cameo by The Globe and Mail's John Doyle) is an extension of those projects.

Super low-budget, it was made for about $5,000 in hard costs - which doesn't include the meals she prepared in her slow cooker for the all-volunteer cast and crew ("I had neighbours' kids holding reflectors"). It stars Klassen and her daughter Mika Kay as a single mother and her smart, dystopian daughter who try to navigate relationships, the Harper government and climate change through mother-daughter talks and musical numbers.

Female BFFs figure prominently, too.

The cast is predominantly female, the story is told from a female point of view and there is a message of female empowerment woven into all the wackiness. "And at the end of the day, I'm the sheriff," Klassen says.

I asked Klassen, who will also be on that Whistler panel, if she has a prescription for the gender inequality in the film business.

"Be conscious, question misogyny," she responded. "Raise feminists - boys and girls. We can evolve. Until then, sisters, create your own work."

The Whistler Film Festival runs Dec. 2-6.

Associated Graphic

Siobhan Devine's first feature film has its world premiere at the Whistler Film Festival, where she'll be part of a panel discussion.


The fraught and fierce legacy of the 'McMichael vision'
Couple's generous donation to Ontario is celebrated in anniversary show A Foundation for Fifty Years
Saturday, November 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R3

KLEINBURG, ONT. -- You gotta start somewhere with somethin'. For Robert and Signe McMichael, that fateful conjunction of place and object occurred in 1955 when they paid $250 to the Roberts Gallery in Toronto for an oil sketch on paperboard by Lawren Harris. An autumn landscape done in 1920, the year Harris founded the Group of Seven, Montreal River was all of 27 centimetres by 35. Small, in other words, but very striking.

And perfect, too, for the McMichaels' recently completed home, an impressive log-beamand-fieldstone house with an audacious south-facing floor-toceiling window fronting an ample living room with an equally ample stone fireplace. It was located about 40 kilometres northwest of Toronto on a fourhectare parcel that the McMichaels, married, childless and in their early 30s, had bought in 1952 near this quaint former farming community atop the meandering Humber River valley.

The Harris purchase marked the start of a mania for Canadian-art collecting by the couple, most especially art by Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven. And as that collection expanded, so did the house: Over the next 18 years no fewer than four additions, each designed by the original architect, Toronto modernist Leo Venchiarutti, were built, in 1963, 1967, 1969 and 1972.

But the key date in all this is Thursday, Nov. 18, 1965. On that day, the McMichaels and Ontario's Conservative government of the day signed an agreement that resulted in the donation to the province of the McMichaels' 14-room home, their art collection, the adjacent land and a shack previously occupied by Thomson in Toronto's Rosedale Ravine that Robert McMichael had moved earlier to Kleinburg.

(The McMichaels, in return, were allowed to live on-site, with all expenses paid, exercise a high degree of curatorial control and occupy two of the five seats on the new board of trustees. They also received permission to be buried on the property. When it was no longer tenable for the McMichaels to live on-site, the Ontario government built them a $300,000 home in nearby Belfountain.)

It's this donation, totalling 194 paintings, hyped at the time as "the single largest private collection of Group of Seven paintings," that formed the basis of what was then called the McMichael Conservation Collection of Art, now the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. And it's this donation that's being celebrated right now in a lovely anniversary show at the McMichael smartly titled A Foundation for Fifty Years. Curated by Sarah Stanners, the McMichael's brainy new director of curatorial and collections, the exhibition features 24 paintings, Montreal River among them, from that original donation and from friends and acquaintances of the McMichaels who subsequently got caught up in their vision of "a distinctively Canadian sanctuary that could be enjoyed by all."

That enjoyment wasn't actually fulfilled until July 8, 1966, when the Collection officially opened to the public after a few months of renovations. The debut wasn't entirely a jawdropping revelation as the McMichaels had been showing their collection over the years to visitors on an invitation basis.

In 1964 alone, in fact, more than 11,000 patrons had made the drive to Tapawingo, the name the McMichaels were now calling their property, derived, allegedly, from the Anishinaabe - or was it Haida? - word for "place of joy." Still, the Collection proved a draw: For each of the next few years, more than 200,000 paid their respects as the venue became a day-trip staple for school children in central and southwestern Ontario. Attendance never regained - and has never regained - those lofty heights after the centre closed in 1981 for a two-year, $10.4-million renovation. For 2013-14, the McMichael reported just more than 111,000 visitors - but student attendance remains strong, around 30,000 a year.

What's sometimes forgotten in the legend of Robert and Signe McMichael is how late they were to the blue-chip Canadian-artcollecting game. By 1955, the Group of Seven had been disbanded for almost a quartercentury. Lawren Harris was 70, A.Y. Jackson 73; J.E.H. MacDonald, David Milne, Emily Carr and Franz Johnston were all dead.

Big, important canvases such as Frederick Varley's Stormy Weather, Georgian Bay (1921), and Thomson's The West Wind (1917), The Jack Pine (1916-17) and Northern River (1915) had gone into public collections such as the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Toronto (now the Art Gallery of Ontario) decades earlier. Meanwhile, Painters Eleven, those rowdy abstractionists from Toronto, had been rocking the contemporary scene for almost two years.

As a result, for some, the McMichael smacked of the anachronistic while the collection itself, certainly for its first 15 or 20 years, was decidedly patchwork - heavy on sketches, short on easel paintings, not a single J.W. Morrice landscape in sight, an assemblage pulled together from gifts, bequests and the canny cajoling and deal-making of Robert McMichael. In 1986, the Toronto Star called him "Toronto's most successful bargain-hunter," noting his knack for getting an Arthur Lismer here for $200, a Franklin Carmichael there for $75. He also befriended artists: Jackson spent his last six years living at Tapawingo as "artist-in-residence"; A.J. Casson and his wife, Margaret, were regular visitors, often "babysitting" the house when Robert and Signe travelled. Moreover, no fewer than five of the original Group are buried on the gallery's grounds, the first interred being Lismer, 83, in 1969. Grounds that, as Stanners points out, were "virtually a blank slate of mostly farmland" when the McMichaels first appeared, then artfully and systemically were reforested to resemble the boreal terrain the Group so loved to paint.

Today, 12 years after Robert's burial in that same hallowed grove, eight after Signe's, the McMichael has filled many of its gaps - of the 300 or so sketches attributed to Tom Thomson, for example, the McMichael owns a respectable 91 - to build a collection totalling 6,000 works, including an impressive inventory of aboriginal art.

It hasn't been easy. Few cultural organizations in Canada have had a history as fraught as the McMichael, a history marked by court challenges, legislative amendments and huge churns in staffing as well as accusations of political interference, disputes over direction, threats of purges to its collection and considerable bad blood. Since much of this has been reported in the media in the past 40 years, little needs to be added at this time.

Except to say, perhaps, that had the McMichaels not been so fiercely attached to what they had wrought - what the couple liked to call "the original vision" - the Collection's protracted transition to a professionally administered, publicly funded Crown corporation, with a curatorship committed to honouring the past and recognizing the present, would have gone a lot more smoothly.

A Foundation for Fifty Years is a sensitive reflection of that vision and the McMichael's first iteration. With the exception of Jackson's desolate First Snow, Algoma (1920), a sort of First World War scene transmogrified into a Canadian Shield landscape, the works are small to medium-sized, straightforwardly hung at eye-level on a rich grey fabric background. As you might expect, there are the usual suspects - five Harrises, three Thomsons, a Varley, two Carrs - but one particularly surprising selection is Yvonne McKague Housser's Marguerite Pilot of Deep River (1932). Surprising because it's a portrait by a woman of a strong-looking woman of Aboriginal and French descent, painted very much "in the key" of one of Gauguin's Tahiti canvases. Stanners, it seems, could easily have put a Johnston or Carmichael winter landscape in the Housser "slot" (neither Group of Seven original is in the show) yet chose instead to invoke other idioms, other narratives.

A Foundation for Fifty Years runs through Nov. 18, 2016, at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ont. Other exhibitions and programs marking the 50th anniversary of the Collection opening to the public will be presented in 2016.

Associated Graphic

Lawren Harris (1885-1970), painted Montreal River in 1920. The oil on paperboard sketch, measuring 27 centimetres by 35 centimetres, was purchased by Robert and Signe McMichael for $250 in 1955 and later gifted to the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, which they founded.


Artist David Milne (1882-1953) painted Black, an oil on canvas measuring 51.9 centimetres by 62.1 centimetres, in 1914. The McMichaels gifted the piece to the Collection in 1966.


Ah, the holidays. A time that is supposed to be full of good cheer - but often is not. Especially at the airport. Since hiring a magic reindeer isn't going to happen, here is our survival guide to Canadian terminals
Special to The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, November 24, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L1

The holiday season is no one's favourite time to travel. Even once you've gotten over the sticker shock of those plane tickets (and let go of the fact you could get to Sydney, Australia, for the price of that trip to Sydney, N.S., at Christmastime), you've got to deal with crowds, weather delays, luggage fees, overstuffed overhead bins and that person in front of you in the security line who is trying to carry on a suitcase full of wrapped gifts - one of which is an oversize bottle of perfume.

But even a cross-country jaunt on Christmas Eve can be made less trying with a little know-how and planning. Here's how to soften the landing - no lounge access required.

Vancouver (YVR)

Arrive early or, on a layover, exit security for a meal at the Fairmont Vancouver Airport, whose bar and dining room offer views of planes taxiing to and from gates. If the timing is right, splurge on afternoon tea - seatings are from 2 to 3:30 p.m. daily - complete with a fancy tiered tray packed with finger sandwiches, dainty pastries, and scones with preserves and clotted cream.

Alternatively, find the White Spot family restaurant outside the domestic security checkpoints to fill up on British Columbia's favourite burgers, whether you eat in or take out (check with security for what can be brought through).

Three locations of wine bar Vino Volo (international before security; after security at domestic and U.S. gates) mean there's no excuse not to sample some of the province's finest vintages alongside a charcuterie or cheese plate.

Shoppers travelling abroad and in need of last-minute gifts can check out the Canadiana on offer - striped sweaters, vintage tea towels and Olympic mittens - at the Hudson's Bay Company Trading Post, in international departures.

Have lots of time? Head outside security and take the Canada Line two stops (trains between the airport and Templeton station are free of charge) to browse the bargains at the enormous new McArthur Glen Designer Outlet mall.

Pass the time: Travelling with kids? Track down one of the four play areas scattered around the airport, or linger in the public observation area before you go through security and use the free telescopes to watch what's happening on the tarmac. Inside security in international departures, an outpost of the Vancouver Aquarium showcases some of the sea creatures that make the Pacific their home. Or download selfguided tours - themes include art and architecture and sustainability - for details on YVR landmarks such as Bill Reid's The Jade Canoe sculpture.

Calgary (YYC)

Avoid the risk of breakage (or donating excess liquids to airport security) by purchasing a host gift of wine or liquor right before boarding or after landing. Multiple locations of Skyway Liquor and Cloud 9 Liquor & Wine (before security and after security for domestic travellers) sell made-in-Canada booze, such as spirits by Alberta's Eau Claire Distillery. Or spend some time getting a treatment at OraOxygen Wellness Spa, before security in the departures area. Book massages, aesthetic services and oxygen sessions online in advance; it'll be refreshing whether you're on a long transfer or heading out on a red-eye.

Pass the time: Relive glory days by rekindling your pinball and video-game skills at one of four locations of Flippers Arcades, both before and after security. Or get your blood pumping (and batteries full) at the new WeWatt charging station (outside security on the departures level), which lets you generate electricity by pedalling a stationary bike.

Saskatoon (YXE)

Newly expanded, the Saskatoon John G. Diefenbaker International Airport, as it's officially known, has taken on "local" as its mantra. Pick up last-minute souvenirs at Prairie Unique (outside security) and Prairie North (inside security), where you'll find locally made woodwork and crafts and all the saskatoon berry jam you can fit in your carry-on. Also inside security, toast your flight with a pint of craft beer from Saskatoon's Great Western Brewing Company at Refuel Restaurant and Lounge.

Pass the time: Designed by a local architect, the light-filled terminal building incorporates features symbolic of the area's landscape, with views of the surrounding prairie and of sunrise and sunset. Rotating displays show off Saskatchewan's finest arts, culture and attractions, while an interpretive area tells the story of Saskatoon's first potash mines.

Winnipeg (YWG)

The airport outpost of local favourite Stella's Café & Bakery is worth arriving early for. Sit down for a guacamole BLT or maple caramel French toast topped with wild blueberries, grab a green smoothie if you're hungry when you land or pick up (liquid-free) takeout before going through security. Near the gates, the recently opened second location of Winnipeg's Green Carrot Juice Company has you covered for cold-pressed juices, smoothies, wraps, and oat or açai bowls.

Pass the time: Once you're through security, head to Gate 12 for the best vantage point to watch planes take off and land.

Toronto (YYZ)

Dining-wise, there are a few highlights, especially among the airport's chef-driven restaurant revamps. In Terminal 1 domestic (post-security), Camden Food Co. has a DIY oatmeal and yogurt bar for breakfast (pile on the fresh raspberries). Nearby Boccone Trattoria Veloce serves up pizza, pasta and salad, while Bar 120, new this year, offers offbeat, modernist-style dishes such as a caprese salad with balsamic pearls. In Terminal 3 domestic (post-security), pick up a smoked meat sandwich from Caplansky's Deli, which also has a snack bar outpost pre-security in Terminal 1, near international check-in.

Pass the time: Restless souls on a layover at Toronto Pearson can fit in a workout at GoodLife Fitness, outside security on the arrivals level of Terminal 1. The club offers luggage storage and lockers, has clothing and shoes for rental, and features towel service and cardio and strength-training equipment.

Montreal (YUL)

International travellers can shop Montreal-based women's activewear brand Lolë (inside security) to stock up on anything they forgot to pack: leggings for that onresort yoga class or a tuque to keep ears warm on the snowshoe trails. Nearby, the airport location of Quebec's Archibald Microbrasserie serves up its craft brews alongside stick-to-your-ribs pub fare such as a duck confit grilled cheese.

Pass the time: Ease seasonal stress and get your back ready for those tiny seats with a chair or table massage at one of three Balnea Spa Voyage locations. Travelspecific treatments include the "anti-gravity" 20-minute foot and leg massage and the 10-minute "express lift-off" head massage focused on relieving tension and travel-induced headaches.


At YYT (St. John's), shop for knit socks, mittens and other handicrafts at the Heritage Shop inside security.

YYF (Penticton, B.C.) may be tiny, but you don't have to rely on the vending machine for snacks: Menu items at Sky High Diner include the selfproclaimed best borscht in the Okanagan.

Leave time for a drink at YQT (Thunder Bay, Ont.), whose bar serves beer from local Sleeping Giant Brewing Company on tap.

Inside security in Kelowna (YLW), Okanagan Estate Wine Cellar stocks bottles from top regional wineries such as Burrowing Owl and Nk'Mip.

One of Canada's oldest drivein diners, the renowned Chickenburger in Bedford, N.S., has a location outside security at YHZ (Halifax).

But no matter where you go this season, follow these airport survival tips:

1) Arrive early. Nothing takes the joy out of travel more than rushing.

2) Eat. Low blood sugar does no one any favours. Pack food to bring with you or sit down for a relaxed meal at the airport before getting on the plane.

3) Make it fun. Take advantage of airport amenities: Get your shoes shined, indulge in a manicure or challenge your kids to a pinball tournament in the video arcade.

4) Travelling south? Many Canadian airports offer boot and coat checks for a nominal fee so you don't have to take your winter coat to Mexico.

Associated Graphic

The striking thunderbird sculpture that greets passengers arriving from U.S. destinations is just one of several significant pieces of First Nations art on display at Vancouver International Airport.


A bright spot on the dining landscape at Toronto Pearson International Airport is Caplansky's Deli at Terminal 3.

Laneway homes are bulking up
Vancouver continues its experiment with laneway housing in a new form: mini laneway apartment buildings
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, November 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S6

VANCOUVER -- The sites of the future homes for more than a dozen new families in Vancouver's dense West End look unprepossessing at the moment.

One is an asphalt-covered parking lot behind one apartment building. Another has sagging garages behind a couple of the area's century-old homes. Nearby sit dumpsters and garbage bins.

There's a concrete wall with chain-link fencing along one side of the alley.

But these parking lots and alleys are about to be transformed, as Vancouver continues its experiment with laneway housing in a novel new form: mini-laneway apartment buildings.

The city, which created the possibility for laneway apartments when it approved a new West End plan last year, has approved the first four buildings with 47 units in total. Three are in this particular alley between Nelson and Comox on either side of Cardero, around the corner from Cardero Bottega and Firehall No. 6. Others are in the pipeline. Many more are expected.

They're the first of a new kind of infill that planners hope will produce 1,000 new small homes in this popular downtown neighbourhood.

The city is requiring that half of them be two- or three-bedroom units, accessible at ground level, to provide options for the increasing number of families trying to stay in what was once the singlesland of the West End.

Many of them will be rentals as part of the trade-off the city has made with landowners for giving them permission to build in the back of the lot. For the man who was first in line to try the new form, it's worth it.

"This helps keep the village feeling here. It's densifying without taking down a bunch of buildings," says Nevin Sangha, who heads Carrera Management Corporation, which owns three properties where the first three laneways will be built. "And I'm building here because I want my kids and their friends to live in places like this."

Being first hasn't been easy. Mr. Sangha estimates he's spent $1-million just on architect fees redoing the designs several times as planners negotiate with him over parking spaces, unit sizes, landscaping, entrances, bike lockers, the six-metre space required between the main building and the laneway, and more.

"They just trimmed out a couple more units in the last round," he says. The buildings have been designed with a modernist look, something that Tim Ankenman, an architect with years of experience doing infill around older buildings, says helps set off the historic look.

Vancouver's assistant planning director says it has been a complex process for both sides.

"We really invented this program from scratch. Obviously it's a bit of a learning curve," Kevin McNaney says. Each site is different, so there isn't an easy pattern to be followed.

The mini-apartments are anywhere from two to four storeys high behind houses and smaller apartment buildings, up to six storeys behind towers. Sizes range from about 350 square feet for bachelors to 1,000 square feet for three-bedrooms.

Planners aren't just trying to make sure the units are familyfriendly and fit into the neighbourhood. Part of the experiment is to remake the laneways.

The idea of laneway apartments in the dense West End is mainly possible because the lanes there are 10 metres wide, the size of a normal road.

Builders are being encouraged to use some of the area in front of their mini-apartment buildings for new landscaping, says the city's acting general manager of planning, Jane Pickering. That will reduce the laneway width to six metres, but will help the alley look more like a street and less like a garbage-truck route.

That's narrow for those garbage trucks that are picking up dumpsters all over the West End, she acknowledges, "but they get along in the other laneways in the city that are narrow."

As with almost any construction in Vancouver these days, residents who live nearby have different views.

Dean Malone, who lives across the street from one of Mr. Sangha's three projects, took the trouble to go to city hall to support it because the laneway apartments provide a way of creating new housing that isn't a tower and isn't a luxury development.

"I don't want any more milliondollar condos," says Mr. Malone, a health-care manager who was against the proposed Jervis tower nearby because it will be almost all high-end for-sale units. "The three buildings close to my place are a perfect fit. Many of us do want more people in the West End. And this is scaled to sizes that are appropriate for new people moving here."

Minke Devos, a self-employed healing instructor who lives in Mr. Sangha's 109-year-old Grace Court building, says he's not a fan. The largest of Mr. Sangha's projects, at four storeys, will be built behind Grace Court.

"There's tonnes of places to rent here," Mr. Devos says. "I don't think we need more density." He's also concerned about the loss of parking in an area where finding a place for a car is already at a premium.

West End Residents, a group that has dedicated itself to scrutinizing new developments in the area, is ambivalent.

"Until these projects are built, it's difficult to say whether they will be successful or not," spokesman Randy Helten said in an email, noting that the designs coming feature buildings that are bigger than people expected and that seem likely to exacerbate the neighbourhood's parking problems. "It seems clear that these are not the type of 'laneway buildings' that people anticipated through the plan process."

The West End, which is a mashup of early 20th-century mansions and grand apartment blocks, rooming houses, 1950s slab towers, 1960s low-rise walkups and more, has been Vancouver's downtown success story for decades.

While downtowns around the continent emptied out in the suburban-loving 50s, the West End densified to a neighbourhood of 40,000. Even though it is near beaches, Stanley Park and central business district, it was dominated by singles, the young and the old, for a long time.

It's increasingly become home to families, as young couples have started families and refused to move to the suburbs like their predecessors. As well, immigrant families have been attracted to a place that seems more like the bustling, dense cities they're used to.

But there's been little available for them. There are only 40 threebedroom rental apartments in the West End, according to the most recent count from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and only 479 twobedrooms.

Couples such as Katy McLachlan and Joshua Lunn find themselves clinging like limpets to hang on in the area. The two just moved to a two-bedroom in their older building a few blocks away from the planned laneway apartments, after waiting months for one to come open. Until then, their 20month-old son, Finnegan, had a bedroom in a curtained-off part of their hallway. They would like to see more choices.

"The West End is so accessible to everything. I like the neighbourhood, the character. There's more of a mix," Ms. McLachlan, a nursepractitioner who works with the elderly, says.

But they can't afford the kinds of rents in the new threebedrooms that are coming on stream, such as the Lauren nearby.

That new tower, whose builder, Ian Gillespie at Westbank Projects, got extra density from the city as an incentive for building rental, is charging rents between $3,000 and $3,500 for its threebedroom units - double what Ms. McLachlan and her husband now pay.

Mr. Sangha says he doesn't know what his rents will be yet - it will depend on how much more planners ask him to spend on facilities and redesigns - but he says there's no way they'll be that high. "I don't think we'd ever get a chance to get those kind of dollars. We're more modest."

Associated Graphic

Laneway housing is seen in an artist's rendering. Vancouver has allowed laneway houses for several years. But the recent revamp of the West End plan allows developers to build laneway apartment buildings in this dense area of the city.

Small laneway apartment buildings are intended to increase density without dwarfing existing neighbourhood fixtures, such as century homes.

Logging proposal has battle brewing in delicate region
Unique karst ecosystem on north Vancouver island brings lumber industry into conflict with cavers and naturalists, Justine Hunter writes
Saturday, November 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S1

THE WALBRAN VALLEY, B.C. -- Near the foot of an ancient Western red cedar, a sinkhole leads to a hidden world. With a bit of wriggling, it is possible to disappear below the surface to find delicate ferns dangling from pockets in walls of limestone.

The water from the underground stream that carved its way through the rock tastes soft and pure.

British Columbia's coastline boasts the most significant karst terrain on the continent - magnificent canyons of marble and limestone caves hewn, over tens of thousands of years, by the relentless force of water. These are places where rare species thrive and secret rivers feed forests and fish-bearing waterways.

They also help produce big, healthy trees coveted by the forest industry.

Members of Vancouver Island's caving community have spent years documenting incidents where logging has left caves and sinkholes damaged, sometimes stuffed with industrial debris.

This summer, cavers and karst specialists combed the Walbran Valley on the southwestern edge of the island, hoping to identify sensitive spots before forestry crews arrive to harvest the giant cedars that have taken hold on a fragile karst landscape.

Emerging from the sinkhole on a wet November day, activist Mark Worthing of the Sierra Club of B.C. pointed to a tree marked with pink surveyor's tape about 15 metres up the slope. The tape maps out the route of a proposed logging road. If the province approves logging here in cutblock 4403, this unique landscape could be drastically altered, disrupting the thin layer of soil in which new trees can begin.

"You can replant an old-growth forest, but you create an entirely different landscape. When it is an old-growth forest on karst, though, logging is the nail in the coffin," Mr. Worthing said.

Studies of logging on karst landscape on the north end of Vancouver Island show limestone slopes are painfully slow to recover - it may take centuries for the soil base to rebuild enough to sustain new growth.

To quell anti-logging demonstrations, much of the Walbran Valley was protected 20 years ago with the creation of a provincial park that includes some of the world's largest and oldest spruce and cedar trees. But part of the valley, dubbed "the bite," was left outside the park boundary, and it is here that logging company Teal Cedar Products Ltd., a division of the Teal Jones Group, now wants to cut the valuable old-growth trees.

Caving enthusiasts have joined a new round of environmental protests. Vancouver Island has more than 1,000 explored limestone caves and an active membership in the caving organization the B.C. Speleological Federation.

On Nov. 24, the logging company won a court injunction to end a blockade aimed at its logging operation in an adjacent cutblock. Teal Jones officials declined interview requests, but said in a statement: "We are aware of the limestone and karst geology resources in the vicinity of Block 4403 and as a result, we are planning to conduct a formal karst field assessment for this area prior to finalizing any road construction and harvesting plans."

Charly Caproff, who is pursuing a degree in Environmental Resource Management at Simon Fraser University, has been studying the karst in the valley. Her tests on the water in cutblock 4403 suggest a huge underground system. "Nobody has really gone in and looked at the hydrological systems, or seen what the biology is down there," she said. "You are logging and destroying something you don't have an understanding of. It's crazy."

Significant karst landscapes are protected by government regulation on Vancouver Island, but a report by the independent Forest Practices Board in 2014 concluded the protection regime has large gaps. The forest industry is responsible for ensuring it does not "damage or render ineffective" important karst features, but those terms are not defined.

There are no criteria for karst experts who conduct the assessments, and the province's karst management handbook was disregarded more often than not, the report said.

The board could not prove that logging had damaged karst, but noted it is often impossible to see what is taking place below the surface. "To prove damage or rendered ineffective for many karst features would require long-term baseline data to compare features pre- and postharvesting," the report said. "However there is little research being done in B.C."

Martin Davis, a karst and bat specialist, last summer explored the karst in the cutblocks proposed by Teal Cedar Products. Although he did not find any that would sustain large numbers of bats over the winter, he did note a healthy bat population - unsurprising because both the karst and old growth trees offer perfect habitat for roosting and hibernation. "There should be a proper karst inventory around these blocks and in the adjacent areas," he said in an interview. "My visit with two other cavers was not thorough, and we could have easily missed features."

Mr. Davis is skeptical about the government's commitment to ensure significant karst features are kept intact. He produced a detailed list for the caving community two years ago of karst sites damaged by logging. "The B.C. Speleological Federation had brought these complaints forward to the provincial government, but no action was taken at that level, despite these practices violating provincial standards," he said.

Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, said forest companies and recreational cavers need to work together to ensure special karst features are not harmed.

"We recognize there is a need for engagement and for communication with [local cavers]."

He also acknowledged the province needs to do a better job of setting out its expectations, and said the protocols and the guidebook for managing karst features are being updated.

The boundaries of Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park were set in 1995 by the New Democratic Party government, when Dan Miller was the minister of forests.

Mr. Miller, long retired from politics, recalls the fierce battle over logging in the Walbran - both in public and within his party's caucus. It took painstaking negotiation to reach a compromise between environmental values and resource jobs. "Some was allocated to park, and some was part of the working forest," he said.

With new issues - preserving the water, the bats, the soil and the rocks - emerging that were not contemplated 20 years ago, when the primary concern was the trees, he said today's environmentalists and forest executives need to find a way to meet in that same spirit of compromise. "The rights of Teal Jones come into this picture," he said. "The question is: Is there a way to resolve the issue?"


What is karst?

Karst landscapes are created by water dissolving soluble rock - usually marble, limestone or dolomite. The process can take tens of thousands of years, and Vancouver Island's temperate rainforests boast some of the most significant karst landscapes in North America because the terrain is evolving - in geological time - at a rapid pace.

How is karst protected?

Under the Forest and Range Practices Act, the province has set out a Government Action Regulation order for karst caves, significant surface karst features and important features and elements on Vancouver Island with karst terrain of high and very high vulnerability. Forest companies are responsible for identifying these and ensuring their activities "do not damage or render ineffective" karst features.

What is the risk?

The province's 12-year-old Karst Management Handbook notes that karst ecosystems often support unusual or rare plant and animal species, and water quality can be affected by logging activities. "The potential for karst hydrological systems to transport air, water, nutrients, soil and pollutants into and through underground environments should be carefully considered when developing and implementing management strategies for karst landscapes."

Who decides what is significant?

The handbook says reserves should be established around "significant cave entrances; above significant caves; significant surface karst features; significant karst springs; and unique or unusual karst flora/ fauna habitats." It does not define "significant," but calls for "experienced professionals" to determine that. The Forest Practices Board has found there are no criteria to determine whether an individual is qualified to complete a karst assessment.

Associated Graphic

Mark Worthing of the Sierra Club of B.C. explores an area of karst limestone in Walbran Valley on Vancouver Island earlier this month.


A hiker lights up a forest boundary marker in the Walbran Valley recently.


The villain takes his last bow
Ross Petty, famous for playing the bad guy in two decades of pantos, is retiring from the stage
Saturday, November 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R3

It's usually hard to resist booing upon seeing Ross Petty.

But meeting up with Toronto's No. 1 pantomime villain in his dressing room a couple of weeks before he is to step on stage at the Elgin Theatre for his last opening night, I'm surprised to find myself more worried about shedding a tear.

After 20 straight years of twirling his mustache shamelessly, the 69-year-old actor is retiring from performing after he struts his stuff as Captain Hook in Peter Pan in Wonderland this season. Petty will continue to produce his annual holiday musical at the Elgin Theatre, but you'll no long see him spouting groanworthy jokes with a hook on his hand - or in a dress and fiveo'clock shadow.

Like many local families who have made his shows an annual tradition, I will deeply miss hissing him.

"I had a choice of either giving up performing or giving up producing after the blood, sweat and tears of 20 years at the Elgin," he says. "I had to give up what I loved best in order to keep the tradition going."

Karen Kain, the artistic director of the National Ballet of Canada who has been married to Petty since 1983, feels her husband is making the right decision. "Forty shows in a row, eight shows a week," she says. "I could see the exhaustion level was pretty extreme - for a week after they'd finished, he was a ghost of his former self."

While Petty's scenery chewing may be coming to an end, it's more important that he continue with the commercial producing that is his deeper contribution to Toronto entertainment - a career the Winnipeg-born actor stumbled upon almost by accident.

Back in the 1980s, a British producer named Paul Elliott produced Christmas pantomimes over at the Royal Alexandra - in a hoary old British style, with set, scripts and most of the actors sent over from England.

In 1982, Kain was hired as a token Canadian to play the Genie in a production of Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp. Petty, fresh off an acclaimed run in Sweeney Todd at the Alex, came to see his fiancée at a fairly disastrous dress rehearsal - and his first reaction to the anglophile art form known as panto was not terribly positive. "Afterwards, Ross said, 'I don't know what you've got yourself into,' " Kain recalls.

But a bad dress led to a strong opening and a spark was lit.

Both halves of the Toronto power couple starred in an Elliott production of Dick Whittington and His Cat the following year. In one scene, Kain dragged Petty off by the nose as he muttered, "Not tonight, dear, I have a headache."

Soon enough, Petty - who had performed on Broadway and in London's West End, but who was looking for a way to control his career and stay close to his wife - talked his way into co-producing the annual pantomimes, which gradually became more Canadian.

Then, in 1996, a few years after Elliott abandoned the Toronto market, Petty launched his own series at the Elgin - and the rest is history. Well, almost. The second year he lost his shirt - going $200,000 in the hole.

Since then, however, Petty has perfected a fail-safe production model in a country where commercial theatre of any stripe has never developed a strong foothold. He's outlived the likes of Garth Drabinsky and Aubrey Dan.

Every year, Petty puts together a new "family musical" - the British term "pantomime" is hardly used these days by anyone but critics - from scratch, selling about 50,000 tickets over a five-week run. But the enterprise needs to get $2-million to break even - and that means the for-profit producer spends much of his year going to Corporate Canada, hat in hand.

How Petty keeps his shows out of the red has not endeared him to all. He remembers one theatre critic who "tore the hell out of me" for thanking Sears on stage while handing out gifts to pint-sized audience volunteers.

But it didn't deter him - and, indeed, he doubled down on product placement five years ago, beginning to project ads for sponsors on a screen between acts.

The slippery question of whether family entertainment - even commercial pantomime - should be good for you is at the heart of whether you appreciate Petty's work.

To me, the appeal of his family musicals is that, unlike most children's shows, they never feel message-laden and are unapologetically fun. With their interactive elements - such as the booing of Petty whenever he walks on stage - they're the ideal way to introduce restless tykes to the magic of live performance.

Petty believes most of his more daring ad-libbed jokes go over the head of the children in the audience - and feels a duty to make sure that adults, who count for 60 per cent of the bums in the Elgin's seats, are laughing, too. "I'm sure that I or other members of the company have made jokes along the way that we regret, but none of them come to mind at the moment," he says.

Dan Chameroy, the Stratford Festival veteran who returns this year to Peter Pan in Wonderland as the endearing woman-child Plumbum, suggests there's more care taken not to cross the line than you might think from certain Rob Ford jokes of yore. "It's a tricky thing - and Ross and our director [Tracey Flye] make sure we don't ever go too far that we'll offend parents," says the actor, who has a nine-yearold daughter whose first theatre experience was watching her dad don drag. "Everyone has a different gauge when it comes to what's appropriate and what's not."

When it comes to that central question of responsibility, Petty does admit he instructs the writers he hires to take a feminist approach to the public domain source material, so Cinderella or Snow White aren't just pining after the prince. But his approach to diversity has been less consistent than, say, his non-profit competition over at Young People's Theatre - one of the first theatres to mandate colour-blind casting.

Indeed, last year I criticized Petty for, unusually, having an all-white cast in his Cinderella, set in modern-day, multicultural Toronto. This resulted in an angry e-mail to me and CC'ed to everyone up to The Globe and Mail's editor-in-chief, calling my comments "out of line" - and listing the many actors of colour he has hired over the years.

Meeting in his dressing room a year later, I wonder if Petty has rethought his position in the wake of the new federal government's "because it's 2015" stance.

He hasn't. "I cannot hire somebody of a different colour just to satisfy a portion of the audience that feels they are not being represented," the producer says. "I need to hire the most talented people that there are."

This is a bit rich given that Petty's fairy tales have an agreeably shambolic, occasionally indulgent feel, where "excellence" rarely seems to be the primary goal. He also regularly casts actors for fame as much as talent - notably putting Bret (The Hitman) Hart in his nationally televised production of Aladdin. "If you want to call it stunt casting, I call it something that appeals to a specific core of the audience," he says.

Well, my point exactly: Beyond the ethical imperative of diverse casting lies a commercial one in a city where visible minorities are almost the majority.

So who will step into Petty's shoes and/or his dress and play the baddie in 2016? "I don't know," he says. Then, he can't resist one of those politically incorrect one-liners that make you love or hate him. "There's a lot of talent out there - maybe even somebody of colour." Boo, Mr. Petty. Boo.

Follow me on Twitter: @nestruck

Associated Graphic

Actor and producer Ross Petty sits at the Elgin Theatre, where Petty will play his last starring role as Captain Hook in Peter Pan in Wonderland.


For GMP and Canaccord, 'a perfect storm'
Saturday, November 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B1


In his 14 years at GMP Capital Inc., Harris Fricker has rarely seen it this bad.

The chief executive officer of GMP is grappling with heavy losses, falling revenue, evaporating bonuses and deep job cuts in the aftermath of the commodities crash.

It's not just GMP. Canada's once highly profitable independent investment banks and brokerages are reeling amid technological upheaval and a shrinking pool of deals at a time when big banks are muscling into their territory.

"You've kind of got a perfect storm," Mr. Fricker said in an interview. "You have resources in the trough by any measure ... and the long-term view on [oil] is we're looking at a multiyear supply-demand imbalance. People are incredibly bearish. Add to that there are real structural changes occurring in our business."

Shares in GMP and Canaccord Genuity Group Inc. are trading near all-time lows.

Both companies have lost money in three out of the past four quarters. GMP took a particularly hard hit in the period ended Sept. 30, with a loss of $11million versus a profit of $6-million a year earlier. GMP's energy sector investment banking revenue cratered a staggering 87 per cent year over year. The firm has cut about 9 per cent of its work force this year. Canaccord has let 6 per cent of its staff go.The brokerage business has seen hard times before. A sharp sell-off in equity markets made 2011 a rough year. The great financial crisis that started in mid-2008 and lasted in 2009 was brutal. But this downturn has a different feel - longer, protracted and more entrenched.

"The 2008-09 downturn, while severe, was relatively short-lived," said Paul Holden, an analyst with CIBC World Markets Inc. "We saw a very strong recovery in the last three quarters of 2009, including the commodity sector. [I'm] not sure that we'll see such a sharp reversal in the commodities sector this time around."

The current slump has already lasted about 18 months - and few are optimistic that resources will rebound any time soon.

"We're clearly in the trough of the cycle and the aftershock of [oil] being 40 or 50 bucks," Mr. Fricker said.

Despite its job cuts, GMP's expenses have risen 6 per cent this year - primarily due to high staffing costs at its U.S. energy investment banking operation that was set up in 2013. Usually, senior investment bankers don't make a dime unless they "produce," or win business for the firm. But to attract staff, GMP made salary guarantees to its new Texas bankers. Mr. Fricker said the firm currently has around 20 bankers - mainly in Houston - on guaranteed salaries, with 10 making "material" amounts.

Two years ago, when the resource market was booming, that move seemed perfectly logical. But now, that business is costing the firm around $20-million a year, while failing to generate any meaningful revenue. Those fixed salaries will start coming off in December, but if the market doesn't improve, there are concerns bankers might not stick around.

Mr. Fricker said he isn't overly concerned about any of GMP's bankers jumping to other shops.

"We always tell people there will be fallow years to go with the great years," Mr. Fricker said. "I wouldn't say that losing people has been a real factor. Part of that, to be frank, is where are people going to go?" GMP has made some headway in the non-resource sector through the years in areas such as technology, health care and pharmaceuticals.

"We certainty punch above our weight in the non-resource sector.

Our market share is dramatically up," Mr. Fricker said.

But he scoffs at the idea that non-resource revenue at GMP could ever reach the heights of mining or energy in boom times.

"We would happily diversify the business more broadly if we felt there were sufficient non-commodity corporate targets to cover.

The reality is ... there aren't," he said during the company's conference call with analysts in early November.

Canaccord is faring better than GMP. It reported a loss of only $400,000 in the last quarter.

"Canaccord is in better shape.

They were almost break-even [in the last quarter]," CIBC's Mr. Holden said.

Canaccord has a significantly stronger presence in wealth management and a solid footprint internationally, which has helped shield it from a sharp decline in revenue in Canada. The firm isn't as dependent as GMP is on resources either.

Canaccord recently appointed a new CEO, Daniel Daviau, after the sudden death of predecessor Paul Reynolds.

"Dan Daviau certainty has a reputation for being an outstanding investment banker," Mr. Holden said.

He's best known for almost single-handedly generating in the region of $60-million in investment banking revenue for the firm in 2014, when Canaccord landed a mergers and acquisitions (M&A) advisory role as Amaya Inc. paid $4.9-billion (U.S.) to swallow up PokerStars in the summer of 2014. (Canaccord also led a significant equity raise associated with the deal.) The trouble is that online gambling investment banking revenue has since dried up, and Mr. Daviau is untested as a CEO. One of his first measures as CEO was to axe 15 bankers in its U.S. operations earlier this month. (Mr. Daviau declined a request for an interview.)

Part of GMP and Canaccord's travails have little to do with either firm and are problems felt by everyone in investment banking.

On the trading side of the business, commissions have been falling relentlessly at all investment banks. More portfolio managers are using their own in-house electronic trading systems as opposed to dealing with a human trader at a brokerage. (The brokerage still gets a cut of the trade, but it's not nearly as much as it was in the old days.)

Post-credit crisis, margin lending has come down, slurping up another historically sweet source of revenue. And brokers make hardly any money any more on cash balances held in clients' accounts as a result of near-historically low interest rates.

These kinds of changes have forced the capital markets arms of the big Canadian banks to chase smaller deals that were once the domain of only a Canaccord or a GMP. These mid-sized players are also increasingly being squeezed out of the bigger deals.

Som Seif, a former investment banker with RBC Dominion Securities Inc., said 10 to 15 years ago, it wasn't uncommon for Canaccord and GMP to go toe-to-toe with the banks for the really big deals. "It all came down to were you a good banker? And if you were coming up with really good innovative ideas ... you could win those mandates," Mr. Seif said.

"Today, if you're not lending to them, you may not get the call at all."

In many major Canadian takeover deals, it's now common for a big bank to be the lender, the M&A adviser and the bookrunner on an associated stock offering.

Canaccord and others are left with scraps.

Still, there are bright spots.

The balance sheets are in relatively good shape. GMP has no debt and it still feels strong enough to pay a dividend, which, if nothing else, helps the many employees who own shares.

(Twenty-six per cent of GMP's shares are owned by employees.)

"[GMP and Canaccord] have successfully navigated difficult market conditions for many years now, have cut operating costs and have substantial financial resources behind them," Ian Russell, president of the Investment Industry Association of Canada (IIAC), said.

Mr. Fricker, for his part, isn't going anywhere. (He's been CEO since 2010.) "The culture here is special. And it's fun to be in this firm even during what's been, at times, not a fun cycle."

Associated Graphic

Canaccord and GMP have heavy exposure to the oil and mining sectors, and few believe prices will rebound any time soon.


Monday, November 23, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A6

While examining our database of homicide and missing-person cases involving indigenous women about six months ago, a Globe team noticed a pattern: Several names were listed in connection with more than one killing. By the summer, the prospect of a serial killer operating in the Edmonton-area was thrust to the fore after a woman's remains were discovered in the same area as those of three indigenous women.

A 2014 RCMP report found that 1,181 aboriginal women were killed or went missing between 1980 and 2012. The Globe set out to determine the extent to which these tragedies were the result of serial homicide. We also embarked on the creation of a multimedia project that traces the lives of five indigenous women slain by different serial killers. The Taken, which explores the women's vulnerabilities and examines their families' interactions with police and the justice system, launches Tuesday.

Over the past year, The Globe has been compiling its own database, building on data collected by the Native Women's Association of Canada and Ottawa-based researcher Maryanne Pearce. We filed an access-to-information request in April asking for the RCMP's dataset, but that request is pending.

For this investigation, we focused on vetting our serial-killer subset to confirm the women were, in fact, indigenous and had been slain by a convicted serial killer.

These are our "confirmed" cases. But because relying on criminal convictions alone likely understates - perhaps significantly - the true extent of the serial predation, we also researched unsolved cases potentially involving a serial killer and categorized these as "probable" and "speculative."

The Globe conducted many dozens of interviews with victims' families, lawyers, law-enforcement officials, authors, researchers and indigenous organizations.

We obtained court transcripts and secured access to case exhibits. We pored over news stories and inquiry reports. We conducted reporting on the ground in Manitoba and British Columbia.

Yet our database work would not suffice.

What if a killer took the life of one indigenous woman and one non-indigenous woman, for example? Our dataset would not reveal this. As such, we took lists of known Canadian serial killers and ran the names against the offenders in our database. We also scoured books and news archives for cases we may have missed (inevitably, there are some).

We were able to determine that at least 18 indigenous women were slain by convicted serial killers in Canada since 1980. To contextualize this, we needed to understand the vulnerability of the overall female population in this country. Given the lack of comprehensive Canadian data on serial homicide, we looked to U.S. researcher Mike Aamodt, who has compiled an international dataset of serial killings.

By analyzing his female Canadian subset and factoring in historic population figures, we found that indigenous women are roughly seven times more likely to be victims of serial homicide than non-indigenous women.

18 These 18 indigenous women have died at the hands of convicted serial killers in Canada since 1980.

8 Eight serial killers were responsible for those women's deaths.

7x Indigenous women in Canada are roughly seven times more likely to be slain by a serial killer than nonindigenous women.

20% About one-fifth of Canada's known female serial homicide victims since 1980 were indigenous.

Sereena Abotsway Ms. Abotsway's inhaler was found on Robert Pickton's B.C. farm in February of 2002, cracking open her missing-person case and sparking an extensive police search of the farm. Ms. Abotsway was killed in either 2001 or early 2002, and was either 29 or 30.

Marnie Frey Robert Pickton killed Ms. Frey some time between August, 1997, and February of 2002, when the 25-year-old's remains were found on his pig farm in Port Coquitlam, B.C. Originally from Campbell River, Ms. Frey went missing from Vancouver's East Hastings area in 1997.

Lorna Blacksmith Ms. Blacksmith was 18 years old when she was killed by Shawn Lamb on Jan. 11, 2012. Her body was found in the backyard of an abandoned house about six months later. The Métis teenager was from Cross Lake, Man.

Nina Joseph Ms. Joseph was strangled by Edward Isaac in 1982 when she was 15 years old. A member of the Tl'Azt'En First Nation in Fort Saint James, B.C., Nina had been living in Prince George, where her body was discovered.

Nina Courtepatte Ms. Courtepatte was just 13 when she was murdered in 2005 in her hometown of Edmonton. Her body was discovered on the Edmonton Springs Golf Course, where she had been raped and beaten to death by a group of people, among them serial killer Joseph Laboucan.

Myrna Letandre Ms. Letandre was 37 years old when she was murdered by Traigo Andretti in 2006 in Winnipeg.

The Pinaymootang First Nation woman was considered missing for nearly seven years, but all the while her partial remains were buried in a basement crawlspace.

Cynthia Maas Born of a Dene mother and Cree father, Ms. Maas was slain by Cody Legebokoff in Prince George, B.C., in 2010. The remains of the 35-year-old mother of two were found in a wooded park in October of that year.

Jennifer McPherson Ms. McPherson, a mother of two from Manitoba's Peguis First Nation, was living on B.C.'s Hanson Island when her husband, Traigo Andretti, strangled her on April 29, 2013. The 41-year-old was originally from Winnipeg.

Natasha Montgomery Ms. Montgomery, a 23-year-old Métis woman from Quesnel, B.C., was reported missing from Prince George on Sept. 23, 2010. Ms.

Montgomery's DNA was found in Cody Legebokoff's apartment; her body has not been found.

Shelley Napope Ms. Napope was just 16 when she was slain by John Crawford in Saskatoon in 1992. The teen had grown up on One Arrow First Nation in Saskatchewan.

Carolyn Sinclair Ms. Sinclair was pregnant with her third child when Shawn Lamb killed her at his Winnipeg apartment on Dec. 18, 2011. The Mathias Colomb Cree Nation woman's remains were found in a back lane on March 31, 2012.

Calinda Waterhen Calinda Waterhen's family first reported her missing in 1993 after she did not show up for a family funeral in Loon Lake, Sask., where she grew up. A victim of John Crawford, the 22-year-old's body was found on Oct. 3, 1994, outside of Saskatoon.

Georgina Papin Ms. Papin, a 35-year-old mother of seven living in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, was last seen in March of 1999 at St. Paul's Hospital. A member of Enoch First Nation, Ms. Papin's remains were found on Robert Pickton's farm in Port Coquitlam, B.C., in February of 2002.

Eva Taysup Ms. Taysup's body was found near a golf course outside of Saskatoon in 1994, more than two years after she was last seen alive.

Ms. Taysup, from Yellow Quill First Nation, was killed by John Crawford.

Mona Wilson The last place anyone saw Ms. Wilson of O'Chiese First Nation, who went missing in December of 2001, was the Astoria Hotel on Vancouver's East Hastings Street.

The 26-year-old's remains were discovered in February of 2002 on Robert Pickton's pig farm outside Vancouver.

Mary Jane Serloin Ms. Serloin was slain by serial killer John Crawford. Her body was found in Lethbridge, Alta., on Oct. 23, 1981. She was 35 years old.

Theresa Umphrey Ms. Umphrey, who was Cree, had grown up in Manitoba but was living in Prince George, B.C., when Brian Arp murdered her in 1993. Ms. Umphrey's body was discovered on a snowbank beside a remote logging road outside Prince George. She was 39.

Brenda Wolfe Ms. Wolfe's remains were found on Robert Pickton's farm in Port Coquitlam, B.C., on Feb. 6, 2002. The 30-year-old of Kahkewistahaw First Nation had been missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside since February of 1999.

As the business of architecture consolidates, it becomes harder to create beautiful, challenging buildings. But thanks to one unorthodox architect, Edmonton is opening its doors to a brighter future. Alex Bozikovic reports on a city's design revolution
Saturday, November 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R1

There is a symphony of movement around me. A black steel running track curves through the air above my head.

Through a glass wall to the left, teenage boys are shooting hoops on a purple basketball court; to the right, a sculptural hunk of drywall points upward to a gym, where three women are sweating on exercise bikes.

This building - a massive multipurpose community centre and library - is a giant crystal full of moments like this, juxtaposing views, forms and experiences. It's an architect's dream brought vigorously to life. It belongs in some design-savvy Northern European city.

But it's not.

It is in northeast Edmonton, on a suburban road across from a Mr. Lube. The Clareview Community Recreation Centre, designed by Toronto firm Teeple Architects and Edmonton's Architecture Tkalcic Bengert, is the most ambitious and thoughtful building in the neighbourhood.

And it was built on a standard city budget, about $94-million for the 190,000-square-foot complex.

It is a huge accomplishment, and according to Edmonton's city architect, Carol Bélanger, who's showing me around this fall morning, the explanation is simple: "When you hire architects," he says, "you get what you pay for."

Edmonton is sending a message: Civic architecture matters - and it is ready to pay for the best.

Since Bélanger took his current job in 2010, Edmonton has constructed a string of buildings, from tiny park pavilions to a waste depot and this massive rec centre, which are as ambitious as anything in Canada (Clareview won a City of Edmonton Urban Design Award on Friday night).

Just in the northeast quadrant of the city, we encounter a branch library by the Danish architects Schmidt Hammer Lassen, who also designed Halifax's new showpiece Central Library; a sleek recycling depot by the Edmonton office of Dialog; and the spectacular Commonwealth Community Rec Centre, by Toronto's MJMA. They are each unusual in their design details, skilfully built, and beautiful.

All of them were built to standard budgets. "But I know more creative architects," Bélanger says, "know how to spend the money."

Bélanger, a trained architect, is the one ensuring they have the room to do so. A former "military brat," he uses his Québécois accent and faintly Maritime manner to mask a steely idealism. It's his job to oversee the city's hiring of design professionals and then to ensure the quality of public buildings. It is a task he takes to heart. "I ask, what is going to be our stamp on the city?" Bélanger asks. "What is our era going to leave - cinder-block bunkers?" Not long ago, that is exactly what the city was building. Then came a new agenda. In 2005, then-mayor Stephen Mandel signalled that Edmonton was committed to building well: "Our tolerance for crap," he said, "is now zero." The city's architectural high points lay mostly in the 1970s; yet, Mandel understood, as other smart civic leaders have always done, that design has the power to make a place more distinctive and attractive. That agenda continues under Mayor Don Iveson.

In 2011, a public design competition for park pavilions set the tone, opening the door to firms from outside the province and emphasizing quality. The small, brilliant Toronto office GH3 won two of them. The finished buildings are extraordinarily good.

One in Borden Park - another city award winner - is a tautly designed drum of wood and glass, while the other, at Castle Downs Park in the northeast, is wrapped in a glossy skin of stainless steel. Containing such humble functions as washrooms and a meeting room, it is a sculptural object of great, unlikely beauty.

"These small buildings reflect the city's interest in quality design," says GH3 partner Pat Hanson, who credits Bélanger with supporting her firm's concept through the trials of design and construction.

But this attitude carries on in the way the city hires architects for its everyday needs. Bélanger routinely reaches out across the country and beyond to invite architects to compete for work; once they have been qualified, the city's interview process does not necessarily choose the lowest bidder. Fees are pegged to guidelines established by the Alberta Association of Architects. To win, architects can't overcharge; nor can they low-ball. "You can't buy the job," Bélanger says. "We pay a full fee and we expect a full, great result."

Vancouver architect Darryl Condon, whose firm, HCMA, designed Edmonton's Jasper Place Branch Library, credits Bélanger for the atypical creative freedom to pursue that library's unusual design.

It features an undulating concrete roof which hangs, unsupported, across the entire expanse of the building. "We were able to push further than we usually do," he says, "to innovate further, because of the support we got."

This resolves one of the great problems with contemporary public building: The battle within the architectural profession between business and art. In fact, architecture is both. It's a professional service, like law. But unlike lawyers, architects don't bill by the hour; they bid for most jobs with a flat fee. This leaves a financial incentive to leave the job half-baked, not to explore different directions, to haggle over extras and manage overhead instead of exploring creative solutions.

And it is hard creative labour, often long and unprofitable, that makes great architecture.

"Architects are their own worst enemies," says GH3's Hanson.

"We haven't had the solidarity to make sure the fees are what we need to do the work well. ... It really affects, in a fundamental way, architectural quality across Canada."

This is especially true today, as the business of architecture consolidates. Conglomerates such as the publicly traded Stantec can and do make good buildings - when they can do so at an acceptable profit margin. But these are tightly run businesses: When fees are at issue, they will bid low and then grind out the work as quickly as possible. That is economically rational behaviour. And it kills creativity stone-dead. Edmonton and Bélanger have found a way to account for beauty, and it pays off in subtle ways. Stephen Teeple, the iconoclastic Toronto architect whose office led the design of Clareview, says that building's design evolved thanks to Bélanger's quiet and expert advocacy.

"There is a moment in the design process," he says, "when somebody says the right thing, and a project goes in a direction of value to the world. Sometimes just a little smile can take things toward the best outcome and the best quality."

Clareview's odd form is not purely the product of the architects' whim. The new part of the building snakes around an existing arena and soccer field; it gets its complexity from the existing site, and it sends out a new pedestrian path angling toward a light-rail transit stop. What is apparently whimsical is also, when seen from a distance, highly logical.

And that artistic achievement only happened because Teeple and Architecture Tkalcic Bengert rearranged the city's existing urban design for the block, which had imagined a more straightforward, blocky arrangement for the centre. In other cities, that would have been a chore. Not here.

"Carol looked at us," Teeple recalls of one meeting, "and he gave a little shrug, and said, 'Sure: If the area's the same, we can move it around.' " Just like that, a block gets rearranged, and a city gets transformed for the better.

Associated Graphic

The Castle Downs Park Pavilion is wrapped in a skin of stainless steel and contains such humble facilities as washrooms and a meeting room.


The Clareview Community Recreation Centre's planners rearranged the city's existing urban design for the block on which it stands.


A borough to call her own
Brooklyn star Saoirse Ronan finds you can go home again - for a brief time, at least
Friday, November 20, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R2

There are Laws of Glamour and here is one of them, as articulated by Saoirse Ronan: "The more expensive the shoes, the more they cause you pain."

Fortunately, on this overcast afternoon, Ronan has decided to remove, at least temporarily, the cause of her tootsie torture("My toes are peelin' ") - a pair of tightfitting, steeply raked Bionda Castanas, black naturally, that now rest footless beneath the glass coffee table in an expensive but nondescript hotel room in downtown Toronto.

Eight years ago, you could have forgiven Ronan had she thought that Bionda Castana was the name of a Latino boy band. She was barely 13 then. But already she had caught the world's attention playing the precocious, snoopy, fatefully infatuated Briony in the film adaptation of Ian McEwan's best-selling novel, Atonement. In 2008, the performance earned her a nomination as best supporting actress from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Since then, Ronan's crystalline blue eyes have appeared in nine or 10 other movies, some more successful than others, but pretty much all of them (most notably The Lovely Bones, Hanna and The Grand Budapest Hotel) enhanced, if not redeemed, by her presence.

Today, at 21, she is about to take the great leap forward into film superstardom - Bionda Castanas permitting, of course. The vehicle is Brooklyn, yet another adaptation, this one by director John Crowley and screenwriter Nick Hornby of Colm Toibin's beloved 2009 novel of the same name.

A hit earlier this year at Sundance, it came to the Toronto International Film Festival for its Canadian premiere and Saoirse (pronounced Seer-sheh; it's Irish, doncha know) came with it. Already there is much Oscar talk about it and her, talk that is bound to get louder and more incessant as the film's release unspools around the globe. (In Canada, this would be Nov. 20.)

Not that Brooklyn is some epic or blockbuster. Far from it. Set in the prerock-'n'-roll 1950s, it's about an Irish lass from rural Enniscorthy, Eilis Lacey by name, who, thanks to a kindly priest (Jim Broadbent), gets the opportunity to leave the old country, her older sister and her elderly mother for a new job and a new life in Brooklyn. Initially, the transition is difficult. But she adjusts, gradually becoming more confident and independent while attracting the ardent attentions of Tony, a handsome young Italian plumber (Emory Cohen).

But bad news from home interrupts the idyll, prompting Eilis's return to Ireland, where she finds both the constrictions of her previous life and surprising new possibilities.

Ronan's performance, shot much of the time in close-up, is a marvel of winning restraint conveying deep emotion. Yet, amazingly, at least in the initial days of the shoot, she was "convinced I was doing a really terrible job ... and I'd call up my ma'am [mother] every night for the first week and just say to her: 'I don't know why they're letting me do this; they need to pull me out.' " Part of the anxiety came from being an Irish actor in an Irish film. "I just felt the responsibility ... to do a really good job," says Ronan, who, in fact, was born in the Bronx to Irish parents who then moved back to Ireland when Saoirse was 3, before eventually berthing in London. Unsurprisingly, there's a decided Dublin lilt to her voice: "my" is pronounced "me," "other" is "oother," "cuz" is "cooz."

Ronan started to "relax - a bit" only when shooting shifted to Montreal from Ireland and she rehearsed with Cohen. "It was just overwhelming working at home. Not only was I working in Ireland, but I was surrounded by people I went to basketball practice with as a kid or to sports days. I was in Enniscorthy, walking the street where Colm Toibin grew up. There were extras I met when I was a kid."

Indeed, it wasn't until the film's world bow at the Sundance Film Festival that Ronan was able to shake Brooklyn's Irishness to "see how this story affects everyone and can resonate with anyone who's moved away from home and felt that sense of loss and being lost when they step out on their own." Director Crowley, who, though better known as a stage director, boasts Intermission, Boy A and True Detective among his film and TV credits, says he had no doubts about Ronan prevailing over all obstacles. In fact, the actress was his and casting director Fiona Weir's "first and only thought as Eilis.

"The film needed authenticity," he explains, "and Saoirse was the one actor coming just to the actual real right age of Eilis. Having proved herself so magnificently as a child actress, in the bigger scheme of her career, it seemed like she was waiting for a performance that would allow her to show she was actually a properly heavyweight actress.

Saoirse also had never 'played Irish' before so that was intriguing too. Really, there was this feeling of the stars aligning. ... She stepped up and delivered."

But for Ronan, who now calls New York home, Brooklyn seemed more of a transition for "everyone else than for me. Yeh, there was definitely a couple of years there when I felt I had to show everyone, 'Look, I'm not 15 any more.' I'd gone through massive change of moving out and moving to a different country. I was really keen to move onto that next step. Obviously, I was a child actor, but I wasn't in children's films; they were grown-up movies. I killed a lot of people," she says with a laugh. "And I got killed."

If there are exemplars for "the kind of road I want to go down," they are actors such as Meryl Streep and Tilda Swinton.

"They'll do anything. I didn't ever want to be known for just one thing."

One very new thing on Ronan's horizon is a revival of Arthur Miller's play The Crucible, about the Salem witch trials in the late 17th century. The production, to run on Broadway next spring with Ronan cast as the accusing Abigail Williams, marks the actress's live-stage debut. Of course, she is excited and scared. "It'll be a shift. [But] it's something I need to do. I feel ready to do it now. It's kinda just like moving away or moving onto that next change in your career, so to speak."

Ronan acknowledges that going onstage probably will engender a change in her performance style.

Crowley calls her "one of cinema's great watchers, those eyes watching other things," adding that, 100 years ago, "she could have had an amazing career in silent films. She's got that kind of face which is wonderfully expressive and just lights up for the camera." By contrast, in theatre, Ronan observes, "you have to give a lot more. There's a lot of subtlety when you have a format like film; the smallest thing will say so much and the camera will pick it up. In theatre, it needs to be brought to the surface."

In the meantime, Ronan is happy to be promoting a movie that is enjoying mostly positive notices, a wide release and significant advertising. Often she has wound up caring for a film in which she has appeared that hasn't enjoyed those perks, "so when all those things come and kinda fall into place, it's a oncein-a-blue-moon kind of thing. If this had happened years ago, I wouldn't have appreciated all of this in the same way."

Associated Graphic

Saoirse Ronan's performance as Eilis Lacey in Brooklyn is a marvel of winning restraint conveying deep emotion.

B.C. resorts boost avalanche skills awareness
As back-country skiing explodes in popularity, resorts are investing in offering workshops to prepare alpine enthusiasts for the worst
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, November 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page T3

KICKING HORSE MOUNTAIN RESORT, B.C. -- On the northeastern flank of British Columbia's 2,408metre Terminator Peak, a group of 10 skiers, some with avalanche transceivers in hand, charge into a small stand of pines.

"Over here!" shouts Martha Handford of Canmore, Alta., as soon as her beeping device locates a buried target. Her Australian rescue partner, Scott Burley, immediately deploys an extendable probe and begins stabbing it into the snow in a spiral pattern. A direct hit is made in less than a minute, prompting the pair to start digging like crazy.

It's a scene that would send chills down the spine of any back-country veteran; thankfully, this isn't a real rescue. There are no physical signs of an avalanche and two ski patrollers in red jackets shout instructions from a groomed trail nearby. If any doubt remains, it evaporates when a member of the group pauses to snap a selfie.

The skiers are in the midst of a weekend-long avalanche skills training (AST) course run by Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.

The six men and four women, from the ages of 23 to 63, aren't locals or staff. All of them are here on vacation.

Until quite recently, most resorts did little or nothing to educate visitors about avalanche avoidance and survival. Ski areas such as Kicking Horse spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each year on snow-safety measures such as forecasting, signage, fencing and ballistics, but they aren't technically responsible for the terrain outside their boundaries or for lift-ticket holders who choose to enter it. So safety training for guests was typically left to third-party outfitters and alpine organizations.

What has changed? Back-country skiing has exploded in popularity in the past decade, so now many of the resorts that tacitly enable the inherently risky activity are working harder to educate resort skiers on back-country safety. Most of British Columbia's big resorts - Kicking Horse, Revelstoke, Whitewater, Sun Peaks and Whistler Blackcomb, to name a few - have all been expanding their snow-safety education programs over the past five years.

"We're at the start of a shift in resort mentality," says Sean Nyilassy, a member of Kicking Horse's mountain safety department who leads the weekendlong programs. "From our boundaries, you can instantly enter uncontrolled back-country terrain, where inexperienced or uneducated skiers can run into trouble. We still see a lot of people out of bounds without the proper equipment, and for every 10 we see there are 100 who get away with it. This puts our guests and our rescue personnel at risk. But with the proper education, the risk goes down."

Snow-safety education got a shot in the arm in 2004 when Avalanche Canada's headquarters opened in the town of Revelstoke, B.C., 150 kilometres west of Kicking Horse down Route 95A, the aptly nicknamed "Powder Highway." Among much else, the NGO issues daily avalanche forecasts for Canada's most popular back-country regions via its website and smartphone app - both of which are invaluable AST tools - and shapes AST curriculum. Revelstoke is a fitting home for the centre, given that snow safety is such an inescapable fact of life in this part of the world. A few blocks away, the new Land of Thundering Snow exhibit at the Revelstoke Museum & Archives explores avalanche research and snow science, with an online component that focuses on skier safety both in and out of bounds.

Eight years after Revelstoke hosted its first course, a variety of AST programming occupies just about every weekend from December to March. A day-long companion rescue skills course, meanwhile, is designed to refresh rusty skiers and educate time-crunched visitors.

Then there's the "Avalanche Ranch," which Revelstoke unveiled last season. The wireless transceiver training area, the first of its kind in Canada, occupies a hockey rink-size basin at the top of the resort's busiest lift and allows skiers to hone their transceiver and probe skills.

"This is as much about awareness as it is about ability," explains avalanche forecaster Chad Hemphill. "It gets the seriousness of back-country safety across more effectively than a bunch of signs."

Hidden under the snow blanketing the Ranch are eight targets. Each is toggled on or off at a junction box, and when each is struck the box emits a loud beep.

Hemphill's demonstration draws the attention of several youngsters, who shout encouragement to the target-seeking travel writer struggling through waist-deep snow.

Young skiers such as these, and their worried parents, are the focus of other resort-based programs such as Whitewater's month-spanning "Avalanche Awareness Beyond the Boundaries" - a free course now in its fifth year - and Sun Peaks' All Mountain Skills weekend camp, which also launched last season.

"What do kids want to do?

They want to duck the rope and ski out of bounds. And I would say the vast majority of them are unprepared," says Bodie Shandro, who runs Sun Peaks' camp.

"Kids show up and say, 'I'm here because my dad says I have to be here,' but by the end of the day, they're totally into it."

The camp's creation coincided with the opening of Gil's terrain (which can only be reached on foot) atop Mount Tod at the Kamloops-area resort. "People don't think of Sun Peaks as extreme, but that doesn't mean there are fewer inherent risks here. We have snow, we have weather and we have trees," Shandro says, and then proves his point by popping off his skis and jumping into a tree well near the top of Gil's. He's immediately up to his armpits in snow.

"I show the kids this, then tell them to think about being upside-down in here."

The writer was a guest of Destination British Columbia. It did not review or approve the story.


There are several resorts to choose from for avalanche skills training courses. Basic back-country equipment - backpack, shovel, avalanche transceiver and probe - are required for all courses and are available for rent at the resorts.

Whitewater Ski Resort: Weekend AST 1 courses ($195) are offered four times from January to March. Single-day Avalanche Awareness Courses ($35) run on select weekends.

The free, month-long avalanche awareness beyond the boundaries program, open to youth aged 12 to 18, runs on weekends throughout January and February, while the new Whitewater Backcountry 101 clinic ($150, including lunch) is available Fridays and Saturdays, or upon request other days.

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort: Two-day AST courses are offered through the resort's Big Mountain Centre over nine weekends from mid-December to early April.

$205 per person. Equipment rentals are available in the resort village.

Revelstoke Mountain Resort: Two-day AST 1 ($238) and four-day AST 2 ($600) courses are available from early December to early March.

One-day companion skills rescue courses cost $138 and are booked as private group lessons. If you're taking a course in Revelstoke, B.C., make time for the avalanche exhibit at Revelstoke Museum & Archives in town, or view it's online history of Canadian avalanches at

Whistler Blackcomb: Whistler's Friday-to-Sunday AST 1 courses ($239) run every weekend from late November to early April, with four-day AST 2 courses ($600) over back-to-back weekends in January, February and March.

Sun Peaks Resort: The weekend-long all mountain skills camp costs $259 for adults and $299 for youth aged 13-16.

For forecasts, trip-planning tools and more visit the Avalanche Canada website,

Associated Graphic

Skiers practise a rescue dig at Kicking Horse during one of the resort's avalanche skills training courses.


Square may not make for the squarest deal
Investors would be wise to look to the payment-processing company's competitors, despite this week's 'stellar' IPO
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, November 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B12

There are things we can glean from this week's IPO of Square, the company whose devices allow very small businesses to accept credit-card payments on mobile phones, thereby bypassing more expensive equipment.

One is that if you price an IPO at $9 (U.S.) after indicating you planned to sell shares at $11 to $13, you can get headlines like "Square Goes Nuts!" when retail investors bid the stock above the initial estimates. (Business Insider, which provided the "nuts" headline, called the IPO "stellar," which works if the star in question is a falling one that couldn't garner the price it obtained in its final round of private financing.)

Another is that, for now, investors seem willing to buy in to Square's assertion that it's a technology company, with the attendant valuations, rather than a lowly payments-processing company, which would command much lower multiples.

Square certainly looks like a tech company, in that it has now achieved a multibillion-dollar valuation while losing hundreds of millions of dollars, as investors accept that the company is, of course, a "growth story."

This brings us to today's question: If Square is a paymentsprocessing company, which it certainly appears to be, why shouldn't investors look instead to the traditional players in the industry, who make money, grow with the economy, and whose stocks are cheaper, to boot?

The field offers a number of options. PayPal, freed from the possession of eBay earlier this year, is a highly visible, consumer-facing online play. First Data Corp., which went public in October, is a debt-heavy turnaround story. Interested in names with better balance sheets than First Data? There are several smaller processors to choose from (see accompanying table).

Many investors eagerly anticipated PayPal's July spinoff from eBay. The argument, apart from separating PayPal's superior growth prospects from eBay's legacy auction business, was that eBay's ownership was limiting PayPal's ability to partner with e-commerce companies (such as, say, Amazon and Alibaba) that viewed themselves as eBay competitors.

Analyst Sanjay Sakhrani, of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, says PayPal is one of "very few pureplay stocks on the strong growth potential of e-commerce and e-payments," and, right now, the company is "the only real global digital wallet of scale ... the power of the PayPal brand is second to none in e-payments." Mr. Sakhrani, who has an "outperform" rating and $43 target price (versus Friday's close of $36.36), says, however, its longterm positioning in the allimportant mobile space is in question, particularly with Apple and Google entering the payments business - while, of course, controlling mobile operating systems.

That's why most analysts are paying keen attention to "Venmo," PayPal's mobile app for money-moving. Right now, it's used mostly by millennials to send funds to friends, a "personto-person" business that collects no meaningful revenue for PayPal, even though Venmo users sent $2.1-billion in payments in the third quarter, 200-per-cent year-over-year growth.

PayPal's solution is to adapt Venmo for commercial use starting in the current quarter, allowing Venmo users to pay at merchants that accept PayPal, which would allow PayPal to collect fees similar to those at its namesake service.

To Barclays Capital analyst Darrin Peller, this is a huge opportunity. Mr. Peller, who has a $47 target price, currently estimates the company will earn $1.88 a share in 2017, up from his estimate of $1.28 this year and $1.59 in 2016. But he says Venmo, plus PayPal's efforts in money transfers (it has purchased Internet-based money mover Xoom) and offering credit to PayPal users, may mean the company could top his estimate by 20 cents to 30 cents - and that current P/Es are too low.

PayPal trades at 25 times forward earnings, according to S&P Capital IQ.

First Data's P/E, by contrast, is less than 13, but that's because it's had an "E" problem for quite some time. Private equity took the highly profitable company off the markets in 2007, loading it up with debt, as is typical for the transactions. Then, the Great Recession hit, crimping the company's core business of processing billions of credit- and debit-card transactions in 118 countries around the world.

(First Data says it processes 2,300 transactions per second.)

The result is that First Data has been unable to produce enough operating profit to pay for its crushing annual interest payments. In 2005, the company had profit margins of 33 per cent for both EBITDA - earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization - and net income. However, in the past 12 months, according to Capital IQ, the company had an EBITDA margin of nearly 34 per cent, and a net loss equal to 3.3 per cent of revenue.

That tide may finally be turning. Leading up to the IPO, says Goldman Sachs analyst James Schneider, First Data had just $300-million in cash and $21billion in debt, with $10-billion of it coming due by mid-2016.

The company used $2.6-billion of its October IPO proceeds to retire debt and has refinanced $6.6-billion worth of borrowings.

Mr. Schneider estimates First Data's effective annual interest rate on that $10-billion in imminently maturing debt will be reduced from 10.2 per cent to 6.4 per cent by year's end.

Mr. Schneider, who has a "buy" rating and $21 target price (versus Friday's close of $16.36), says this reduction in interest expense will create "outsize" growth in net income, with earnings per share growing at a 45 per cent annual clip from 2014 to 2017. It's not all debt reduction, either: He says that while investors are skeptical about First Data's ability to grow revenue, investments in the company's product portfolio will pay off and increase the top line.

Of course, neither company is expected to grow as quickly as Square, but investors who gave the company a $4-billion valuation may be overrating the newcomer's prospects. Analyst Gil Luria of Wedbush Securities finds that Square's fee structure works best for small businesses with $10,000 in revenue or less a year. When a merchant hits $50,000 in revenue, and their average transaction price is $50 or more, they're better off moving up to a traditional processing company. That means Square can dominate the "micro merchant" category, but may have limited ability to move up the food chain and sign up customers of scale.

Investors may find, then, that the squarest deals in payment processing stocks are the names other than Square.

Square (SQ) Close: $12.85, down 22¢ (U.S.)

Total System Services (TSS) Close: $55.09, up 61¢ (U.S.)

Global Payments (GPN) Close: $71.26, down 1¢ (U.S.)

Vantiv (VNTV) Close: $51.99, down 5¢ (U.S.)

Heartland Payment (HPY) Close: $79.33, up 35¢ (U.S.)


Is Square a high-flying tech company or a payments processor? If it's the latter, it's an awfully expensive one, compared with a host of other companies that are more profitable and have lower price-to-earnings ratios: Net debt is debt minus cash. Negative numbers mean company has more cash than debt.

Revenue, EBITDA and net income are for the past 12 months.

EV/EBITDA is ratio of enterprise value to EBITDA. Enterprise value is market capitalization plus net debt. EBITDA is earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

EV/EBITDA and P/E are based on analysts' estimates of future earnings.

Associated Graphic

Employees pose for PayPal president Dan Schulman after the release of the company's IPO, after separating from eBay in July, 2015.


Path to Canada may run through Jordan
Mark MacKinnon reports from Amman With logistics being revised daily, Ottawa increases the number of asylum seekers who will come from Turkey
Friday, November 27, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A1

The Canadian government has approached Jordan about using the country's airport at Marka as the hub of the operation to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees from their temporary homes around the Middle East to new lives in Canada.

The Globe and Mail has learned that one option being considered would see Syrian refugees currently scattered around the region flown to Jordan once they are approved for resettlement. They would then travel to Canada via Marka.

The airlift is expected to begin next week. The government has promised to bring 10,000 Syrians to Canada by the end of December and a total of 25,000 by the end of February.

The largest number of refugees will come from Jordan, followed by Turkey and Lebanon.

Lebanon was originally supposed to be the second-highest source country, but the Turkish government - which has taken in the largest number of refugees, at 2.2 million - complained to Ottawa and asked that the figures be adjusted.

Lebanon hosts 1.1 million registered Syrian refugees, while Jordan is home to 633,000.

Canada is said to be keenest on the refugees registered in Jordan because the country's security services are believed to have a much tighter grip on exactly who they have within their borders.

While Syria's border with Jordan is tightly controlled, the war-torn country's frontiers with Lebanon and Turkey are much more porous, leaving authorities in Beirut and Ankara with a less complete picture of their refugee populations.

It is likely the government will have to resort to either charter or military flights to meet its targets, which involve moving more than 300 refugees a day. There are only two regularly scheduled direct flights a week connecting Jordan and Canada, both of which are Royal Jordanian flights from Amman to Montreal.

The Marka airport is the smaller of two near the Jordanian capital of Amman. It handles mostly short-haul flights to tourist destinations within Jordan and sits adjacent to the King Abdullah I Air Base, which is the centre of operations for the country's air force and which is large enough to handle the C-130 Hercules aircraft the Canadian military uses for transport operations.

A facility near Marka will also be used as a screening centre for Jordan-based refugees headed to Canada. Ottawa is in the process of deploying 500 staff - about half of them Canadian Forces personnel - to Lebanon and Turkey, as well as to Jordan, to conduct a final round of immigration, medical and security checks on the refugees being considered for resettlement.

The logistics are still being revised on a daily basis. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said on Wednesday it has been asked by Canada to provide a list of 7,000 Jordan-based refugees it recommends for resettlement. On Thursday, the UNHCR has advised that number could grow to as many as 10,000.

Sources told The Globe at least 3,000 more will come from the Syrian refugee population in Lebanon, again via the UNHCR office there, with a third group, believed to also number near 7,000, to be drawn from the Syrian refugees registered in Turkey. Unlike in Jordan and Lebanon, the Turkish government operates its own camps and independently keeps track of its refugee population.

However, those numbers appeared still to be in flux.

"Unfortunately, we do not yet have confirmations regarding quotas from Lebanon," said Dana Sleiman, a spokeswoman for the UNHCR office in Beirut.

The remainder of the promised 25,000 will come from private sponsorships rather than lists drawn up by the UNHCR. The country-by-country breakdown of where the privately sponsored refugees will be drawn from is not yet known.

Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion, speaking in Malta, said both Turkey and Lebanon asked Canada to accept refugees from their soil. "If we add all our requests, it would be much more than 25,000," he said. "But 25,000 is quite a commitment if you compare with the other countries."

He said the three countries now housing the Syrian refugees who will come to Canada have responded favourably to the plans.

"They are so pleased that Canada is doing that. I have only received positive reactions from the countries involved - Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan."

In the coming days, the UNHCR's Amman office will begin a final round of interviews with those on the list it intends to recommend for resettlement in Canada.

The additional interviews of Syrian refugees being considered for resettlement to Canada are being done after hours and on weekends by a team of 44 UNHCR employees who are working the extra time voluntarily because they support what Canada is doing, said Aoife McDonnell, external relations officer at the UNHCR office in Jordan. Ottawa has not yet offered any additional funding for the effort.

Ms. McDonnell said Canada had instructed the agency to prioritize the neediest while making its list of proposed resettlement cases.

"It has to be based on vulnerability. Not on languages, not on skill sets. It's about life and death," she said. She added it was the UNHCR that was approaching refugee families about their interest in moving to Canada, not the other way around. "This isn't an open applications process. It's closed."

While most media attention has focused on the massive Zaatari camp in northern Jordan - which is home to 80,000 Syrian refugees - those living outside formal camps are actually in more dire straits. While those in the camps are provided with basic necessities, 86 per cent of those outside the camps are living below Jordan's official poverty line of $3.20 (U.S.) per day.

An estimated 90,000 school-age refugee children are not in school in Jordan, adding to 400,000 such cases in Turkey and 200,000 in Lebanon. Child labour has become increasingly common as families struggle to make ends meet. So has early marriage as families try to move daughters out of their homes to reduce the number of mouths they have to feed.

While those with family connections in Canada are being prioritized, Ms. McDonnell said, even those cases have to meet socioeconomic tests, as well. Another priority group is those with longterm medical issues.

"We are putting forward families where, for instance, a child has cancer and we can't afford their care here and neither can the family," she said.

Ms. McDonnell said the UNHCR is confident about the identities and backgrounds of the Jordanbased refugees it is recommending to Canada. Nearly all of them have been registered in Jordan for several years now - iris scans and other data having been taken upon their arrival - and the agency has interacted with them continuously since then.

While some of those approached have declined the chance to move to Canada, saying they would prefer to live near Syria and in a place where they understand the language and culture, many more are anxious to go.

The living standards for most refugees have fallen sharply over the past 12 months, with the monthly stipend they receive from the World Food Programme dropping to just $14 a person per month from about $34.

Aid agencies have also been rushing to help refugees prepare for what is expected to be a bitterly cold winter for those living in makeshift shelters, Ms. McDonnell said. "Certainly the timing of this [Canada's resettlement program] couldn't come at a better time."

Associated Graphic

Syrian refugee Ahmad Mohammed and his family sit at the UNHCR registration office in Amman on Thursday to renew his asylum certificate. Most of the refugees based in Jordan who are being recommended to move to Canada have been registered in that country for several years.


Good Hank, Bad Hank ... Great Hank?
Henry Burris is a beloved veteran QB but he also feels he has been disrespected, and that is driving him in this 'special' season
Saturday, November 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S2

WINNIPEG -- Henry Burris is a 40-year-old quarterback who has been shown the door by two different CFL teams in the past five years, teams opting for fresh starts with younger faces. He's a guy who played to a 2-16 season with an expansion franchise just last year and absorbed harsh criticism.

Few would have bet on a player of that description appearing in this year's Grey Cup. Yet here he is, ready to take on the Edmonton Eskimos for the championship this Sunday. It comes after a season with the now-two-year-old Ottawa RedBlacks in which the charismatic veteran topped the league in passing yards and was voted its most outstanding player.

A crop of fresh talent and new coaches on offence have been key to his successful season - namely a strong partnership with former CFL quarterback Jason Maas, a first-time offensive co-ordinator.

But Burris has also been fuelled by his past shortcomings, and by those who cast him off, questioned whether he's a Hall of Famer, or pinned him with the nickname "Good Hank Bad Hank."

The turnaround season for one of the CFL's favourite good guys - and arguably its biggest personality - has become the most intriguing story of this year's Grey Cup.

"It's been special," said the always-chatty Burris, whom reporters have surrounded at every turn this week as the teams prepare in Winnipeg. "It's like I'm dreaming."

Burris grew up in Spiro, Okla., the son of two social workers. He can recall thanking his lucky stars that his dad made it home from the Vietnam War. He also remembers football, and lots of it, with other kids out in the streets or farm pastures, or in high school on Friday nights under the lights.

After playing at Temple University, he began a pro career in 1997 that would eventually include stops with four different CFL franchises, two NFL teams and a season in NFL Europe.

His finest moments included a Grey Cup-winning season with the Calgary Stampeders in 2008, his first MVP-award-winning year in 2010, and taking the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to a Grey Cup appearance in 2013 in just his second year there.

"I can remember being back in Calgary in 2005, and new ownership had just taken over and Henry was the first guy we signed," recalls Jim Barker, the Stamps general manager back then, who now holds that title for the Toronto Argonauts. "I'll never forget being in the office at midnight and we called Henry at 12:01. He was the guy who was going to bring the Calgary Stampeders back, and he did.

"He's got an uncanny ability to stay healthy that has made him so valuable, and he's the closest thing to Pinball Clemons I've known in this league when it comes to a special personality.

He's not a fake; he is truly a team guy who cares about people. For the CFL to survive, we need guys like Henry Burris."

Burris had believed he would retire a Stampeder, but eventually lost his job there to youngster Drew Tate. Calgary traded Burris to Hamilton for QB Kevin Glenn and offensive lineman Mark Dewit.

Burris showed up in Hamilton with that signature smile, and posted several career highs in his first year - 5,367 yards and 43 touchdowns, with a passer rating of 104.4. He also led the league in interceptions with 18, and his defence allowed 32 points a game.

The Tabbies went 6-12 and missed the playoffs.

With many changes the next year, including Kent Austin as coach and general manager, Burris and the Ticats made it to the Grey Cup, where they lost to the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Hamilton released him right after the season and signed young, up-andcoming quarterback Zach Collaros.

This week in Winnipeg, in a packed news conference during Grey Cup preparations, Burris spoke with an honesty not often seen in today's professional sports. He didn't back down from recently criticizing Hamilton linebacker Simoni Lawrence for a dirty hit. He also admitted to feeling slighted by the teams who have released him.

"The fact that I helped turn organizations around, doing my job both on and off the field, to be sent packing the way that it occurred, as an athlete I always feel it's disrespectful," Burris said.

"It is very personal to me. Some people say 'let it go,' but that's what motivates some of the best athletes ever. You have to play with a certain chip on your shoulder."

Burris shared a frank memory of his release from Hamilton. He had just got off the phone with Austin - who told him he wanted Burris to hear the news first from him. His wife Nicole then clicked on her iPad to find a story of the Collaros signing already published.

The anecdote highlighted the contrast in the way he feels about his place within the RedBlacks.

Burris is playing in his sixth offence in six years, yet says working with Maas has eased that transition and they work collaboratively.

"I think the difference between Jason and Kent is that Jason and I have a level of respect for each other," Burris said. "We work together because we want each other to achieve success. In Kent's system, he wanted his guys, and I wasn't Kent's guy. I was [previous Hamilton coach] George Cortez's guy."

Maas put Burris in an offence influenced by his last job as quarterbacks coach for Ricky Ray in Toronto under Scott Milanovich.

Before they got down to work, Maas analyzed Burris's career stats and found an accuracy that was contrary to the often-written notion that Burris makes bad decisions on the field.

"He doesn't throw a lot of picks, look at his career numbers - he's not a turnover machine at all; I don't see him forcing balls," Maas said. "The guy is a winner, flat out.

When I got here, I wanted to make sure he still wanted to play, because I know what it's like after a bad year when people are kicking you when you're down. I wanted to know he still had the fire, and he did. "RedBlacks GM Marcel Desjardins says Burris was key in helping the team get players such as Chris Williams and Greg Ellingson this year, former teammates of his from Hamilton, and part of a group that would boast four passcatchers who each had more than 1,000 yards receiving this year.

"We knew the kind of players they were, but Henry could tell us the kind of people they were and how they would fit in," Desjardins said. "They wanted to come here because they knew Henry Burris would be their quarterback."

Burris says he's definitely coming back next season. He has turned to activities such as yoga and gymnastics to preserve his fitness and durability. He's still the one delivering the vociferous pregame pep talk while circled by teammates. He still has boyish NFL Fantasy Football chatter with buddies in the locker room, and finds new ways to counter the constant mentions of his age that come from all directions.

A teammate's teasing voice came booming from across the room as Burris held court with a swarm of reporters after the East Division final win over Hamilton.

"Henry? Henry? Are you 21 or 40?" Burris stopped mid-sentence, chuckled and yelled back over the scrum, "I'm 21, going on 40."

Associated Graphic

Quarterback Henry Burris is '21, going on 40' as he leads the Ottawa Redblacks against the Edmonton Eskimos in the Grey Cup.


The SUV seduction
Why suburbanites are lured in by the siren call of this popular sport utility vehicle
Thursday, November 26, 2015 – Print Edition, Page D9

The SUV is an easy target for automotive connoisseurs. It's a strange vehicle, after all, the slothful, fuel-sucking bastard progeny of the station wagon and the cargo van. The SUV embodies North American excess: it's the ride of Donald Trump, blinged-out rappers and resource-hog suburbanites who shuttle between their 10,000square foot homes and the big box mall.

Yes, the SUV is a vehicle we should all despise. Or so I once thought. Let's rewind to a moment of automotive revelation.

One of my recent test cars was a Ford Explorer - the brand that started the SUV landslide. Before the Explorer appeared in 1991, the SUV was a niche product, a tiny subset of the market that was owned by vehicles like the International Harvester Scout.

The first Explorer wasn't great.

It rusted quickly and was involved in a large number of rollover crashes (although defective tires played a role, the Explorer was a tall vehicle with a high roll centre and crude suspension). None of this stood in the Explorer's way - it became a runaway best-seller, and other manufacturers scrambled to cash in on the growing SUV market.

Like the first doughnut eaten by Kirstie Alley, the Explorer's significance would be apparent only in hindsight. The Explorer launched a movement. Between 1994 and 1999, sales of SUVs increased by 70 per cent. And that momentum has never let up. In 1991, SUVs made up just more than 5 per cent of the Canadian vehicle market. Today, that figure is nearly 40 per cent.

This is the vehicle that took the world of driving in a direction that was antithetical to a sports car or efficiency buff. I was driving the original Explorer's direct descendant, an experience that I likened to meeting the great-grandchild of Adolf Hitler. The Explorer, after all, was responsible for the decimation of the sports car market, the melting of the polar icecaps and the downfall of North America culture itself.

But then a strange thing happened. My wife, who knows nothing about cars, liked the Explorer. "What is this?" she asked when I picked her up at work. "It's nice." My son was also a fan, since the Explorer's luggage compartment easily swallowed two hockey bags.

After driving it for two weeks, I had to admit that I liked the Explorer myself. On a trip to Windsor, Ont., it rolled down Highway 401 with the smoothness and silence of a limousine.

It had room for friends. And, after years of driving my lowslung Lotus, slipping in and out of the Explorer offered a welcome respite. Getting into the Lotus is like sliding under a barbed-wire fence. The Explorer was like dropping into a La-ZBoy lounger. And yet, part of me still rebelled - was I being seduced by mere comfort, like a weary senior citizen succumbing to one of those bathtubs with a door in the side?

The answer was yes.

After the Explorer, I tried a smaller SUV - the Lincoln MKC.

The MKC is part of a growing category of compact SUVs: the Honda CRV, Toyota RAV4 and Range Rover Evoque. I liked the MKC, too. The power tailgate was perfect for grocery shopping, and again, the seats were the perfect height for sliding in and out.

Then there was the space. The MKC could carry almost anything. My radio-controlled model airplanes fit in the back without a problem. We loaded up an antique chair and took it to the upholstery shop for a repair estimate. On our way, we stopped at the grocery store and the butcher shop. Everything fit.

Then there was a trip to Etobicoke, where I picked up four new winter tires mounted on steel rims. Schlepping the wheels with our family sedan would have been a production: I would have to put the wheels on a roof rack or carry a couple in the trunk and two in the back, which meant wrapping the wheels in plastic to protect the seats. With the MKC, the errand was a snap.

To get a better understanding of the SUV market, and what its growth means to us as a culture, I spoke to some experts.

Although Margo T. Oge drives a Chevy Volt, she understands the appeal of the SUV: "This is a vehicle that works for millions of people," said the former head of the transportation and air quality division at the Environmental Protection Agency. "It's a pragmatic choice."

Since she spent decades working on large-scale initiatives aimed at reducing carbon emissions, I assumed that Oge would condemn SUVs, since they consume more fuel than an equivalent car would. But she didn't.

Instead, she talked about consumer choice and the advanced engineering that has improved the efficiency of the vehicle that most people want - the SUV.

"We can't force people to change behaviour. You can tell people what's best for the environment, but that doesn't mean they'll do it. But if you buy an SUV today, it's more efficient than it would have been in 2010.

And if you buy one next year, it will be more efficient than the one you would buy today. That's a positive direction."

Dennis Desrosiers, of Desrosiers Automotive Consultants, has spent decades studying the industry and analyzing the consumer psychology that makes or breaks a vehicle in the marketplace.

"It isn't hard to understand why SUVs sell," he said. "Look at the middle word in their name: 'utility.' SUVs give consumers something they need."

Desrosier agreed that switching from SUVs to cars would result in an immediate, lasting reduction in carbon emissions, but echoed Oge when it came to the difficulty of changing consumer behaviour: "The auto industry has a fundamental flaw," he said.

"The industry responds to the market, the market doesn't respond to the industry. Companies make money by giving people what they want."

For auto manufacturers, the SUV is the corporate equivalent of crack cocaine. Demand is soaring and profits on SUVs far exceed what manufacturers can make with equivalent cars.

The result is an SUV explosion.

Every major manufacturer in the world offers a range of SUVs, and there is no end in sight.

Bentley has launched the ultraluxury Bentayga SUV. Jaguar has announced the F-Pace. Volkswagen will launch 10 new SUVs for the Chinese market by 2020. And so on.

The tectonic shifts of industry are fascinating. From the steam engine to the iPhone, compelling technologies have a way of reshaping markets, and the world itself. And now we live in the age of the SUV. Will it last?

What will future paleontologists think when they dig through the sedimentary layers to unearth the culture of North America, circa 2015? Like the brontosaurus, the SUV is the product of a particular set of environmental conditions, which include cheap credit, a commuter lifestyle and North America's insatiable demand for oversized consumer objects - we live in the age of the 5,000-square-foot house, the Big Gulp soft drink and the 70-inch flat-screen.

So what's next? Will rising interest rates or an energy crisis cause an SUV extinction event? Who knows? But I finally understand North America's love affair with them. Ease, comfort and space for hockey bags and antique chairs can take you a long way. I have experienced the SUV's smooth and roomy seduction first-hand. But I'm still not ready for that tub with the door in the side.

Associated Graphic

After a few trips in the 2016 Ford Explorer it's easy to understand why North Americans love SUVs.


'Attitudes have not changed significantly'
Alberta MLA Fitzpatrick recounts in the legislature the horrors of an abusive marriage and the hurdles she faced in trying to flee
Friday, November 27, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L3

The last time Maria Fitzpatrick left her violent ex-husband, she and her two young daughters stuffed what belongings they could into pillowcases and ran for their lives. The abuse had left Fitzpatrick with black eyes, broken bones and miscarriages.

When she fled after nine years of marriage in 1981, he was threatening to kill her and their daughters.

It was the third time Fitzpatrick had left; on two previous attempts, she was forced to return to her abuser because the shelters she'd escaped to only let women stay for several weeks.

She also felt a sense of duty to her landlords: raised to "pay her way," Fitzpatrick hated the idea of running off on her rent, even as she ran from a husband who had pressed a gun to her head, laughing.

Last week, Fitzpatrick, now an MLA for Lethbridge-East, recounted the horrors of that abusive marriage - "a trap that was intentionally or unintentionally supported by society" as she put it - at the Alberta Legislature.

Fitzpatrick told her story in support of Bill 204, which will let victims of domestic violence break their leases early without penalty from landlords. The bill passed second reading unanimously with a standing ovation and Fitzpatrick's story went viral: women all over the world are now contacting the 66-year-old grandmother, who talks to all of them.

How is a lease a hurdle for women trying to flee abusive partners?

For me it was an extra worry that I could not handle. The second time I left, the lease was in my name. The landlord could have come back and sued me for the balance of the year that I owed. It would have been a significant amount of money that I did not have. The next time I left it was a townhouse. I contacted the landlord as I was going out the door and paid him an extra month's rent because I did not want him to sue me. Fortunately my ex didn't have a chance to put holes in the walls there.

This bill allows somebody who is in a domestic-violence situation to break their lease and move to some place safe. Finances are a huge piece for that person.

Was last week the first time you spoke publicly about the years of abuse you survived?

I'd spoken to women one on one when I was a parole officer. I had women on my caseload who were in abusive relationships. I helped them pack up when they were moving out. They'd move back and I'd help them pack again the next time.

I totally understood that: They won't leave until they're ready to make that break in their own head. It is more than being hit that's the end of a relationship. I was raised Catholic and one of the biggest hurdles for me was that the Catholic Church expects when you're married that you remain married. I did some counselling and a priest said to me, "God doesn't want you to be in a relationship where you're a punching bag." That, to me, was one of the trigger points that gave me permission to leave.

You escaped on a Greyhound bus. What was that 62-hour journey like for the three of you?

A lot of that bus ride I had one daughter on one knee and one on the other. They were eight and four. We left Cincinnati and we went to Brooks, Alberta, where my brother was living. Two days after we flew to Yellowknife to stay with my sister. We had with us what we could carry. We didn't have suitcases - we had pillowcases and some plastic bags. At the Canadian border, the guards questioned me extensively as the girls sat patiently waiting. I thought they weren't going to let us in, even though the three of us were born in Canada.

The bus was leaving and the bus driver came in to say so. As the bus driver walked out to leave, the guard handed me my paperwork and let me go. I was relieved to be on Canadian soil but I was also in a panic, thinking maybe my ex was coming after us.

When I got to my brother's place we sat up and talked for a while. I went to bed and it was the first night in two years that I had a sound sleep. I slept for 10 hours and felt I was ready to do whatever I had to do next. We arrived to Yellowknife, driving in to my sister's place from the airport. There was fireweed blooming all over the place; I'm from Newfoundland and I felt very much like I'd come home. It was the next layer of feeling safer.

The real, final point of safety came in 1992 when I learned that he had died in 1990. I felt like I grew about two inches.

How did it feel to say it all in front of your colleagues in the Legislature?

I don't think I could have put the bill forward myself because it would have been going directly into the pain. When the bill was put forward it opened the door for me to support it, and to do so strongly. Thank God for MLAs Shaye Anderson and Rod Loloya who were sitting next to me.

They both kept their hands on my back to give me a little strength to get through it. Once it was all done I felt a lot of relief.

One of your male colleagues wept openly while you spoke.

How important is it to see that domestic violence upsets men deeply, too?

There are abusive men out there and there are really good men out there. I worked in corrections and worked with men who were abusers, which added to my perspective and my interest in rehabilitation and changing behaviour. I was very fortunate to actually learn a bit more about how people get to that point. I saw men lashing out at others because they had no control in their own lives, no respect for themselves or others, and had not been valued throughout their lives.

What have you heard from those women who are now in touch with you?

The most distressing thing is that since my first encounter with this violence around 1973, it is now 2015 - 41 years later - and our societal attitudes have not changed significantly enough to make domestic violence a thing of the past. The most heartening thing is that so many people are reaching out and beginning to tell their stories to move forward in a positive way in their lives.

What else do we need for abused women, beyond help with the lease?

This bill is a first step. A lot of things need to be done. Women need better access to psychological counselling, and programming to better identify negative behaviours in all of their relationships, with partners, children, siblings and co-workers. They need methods for self-protection so they can speak out. Do not keep it a secret. Speak to friends, family, police or counsellors. For abusers, we need mandatory psychological counselling which should have as its goal behaviour modification and understanding of where that controlling behaviour comes from.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Follow me on Twitter: @ZosiaBielski

Associated Graphic

MLA Maria Fitzpatrick told her personal story of abuse in support of Bill 204, which will let victims of domestic violence break their leases early without penalty from landlords.


The faltering dairy industry is attempting to woo new customers, starting with a cookbook aimed at Chinese-Canadians. Andrea Chiu tests some border-blurring dishes to see which are tasty examples of fusion - and which are just plain weird
Special to The Globe and Mail
Wednesday, November 25, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L1

I recently cooked a creamy chicken corn soup, a blend of chicken and vegetables simmered with milk and topped with shredded mozzarella. The result was similar to chowder, but lighter, and featuring shiitake mushrooms, a staple in Asian cooking.

The dish was quickly gobbled up at my house, where we all decided that the recipe would be worth making again - though perhaps without the additional cheese on top. It was unpleasant to find clumps of it, melted and shredded, in a soup that was not French onion.

The problem is, the cheese was the point.

The recipe came from a booklet by the Dairy Farmers of Canada that aims to showcase milk and milk products in Chinese food. The soup, and other dishes, were created by cookbook author Stephanie Yuen, whose East Meets West is made up of traditional and contemporary Asian dishes from Vancouver restaurants. Last year, the Dairy Board hired her in an attempt to deal with the everplummeting level of milk consumption across Canada.

From 1995 to 2014, fluid milk consumption in the country dropped 18 per cent. Although the Dairy Farmers say that an increase in cream, cheese and yogurt consumption more than make up for this - yogurt consumption alone rose 204 per cent in the same time period - the industry still wants to convert new milk drinkers. And compared with Canadians of European descent (for whom milk is usually a traditional food), immigrant groups such as the Chinese consume way less dairy.

Take my mom, who grew up in post-Second World War Hong Kong, the eldest of the girls in a family of eight children. Under British rule, the island was heavily influenced by Western culture but still had its roots in China.

While the street signs were a mosaic of both English and Chinese characters, the dinner table remained mostly Chinese: rice, tofu, vegetables and, for a birthday or holiday, some chicken.

Rarely can my mother remember a time when she had a cold glass of milk at breakfast or a snack of cheese atop cream crackers. If meat was a rarity, dairy products were inaccessible luxuries, reserved for British expats and the very wealthy.

Decades after my mother immigrated to Canada, milk is no longer the coveted treat it once was.

She loves most dairy products, especially a creamy wedge of Brie, but she likely doesn't drink as much milk as the Dairy Farmers want her to. "A vast majority of Chinese-Canadians consume dairy products but they report lower levels of dairy consumption compared to the general population," a spokesperson told me.

Since 2014, the organization has had long-time immigrants such as my parents, as well as newer Canadians, on its radar.

Those who may not have grown up with commercials touting "Milk. It Does A Body Good" have been targeted at in-store demonstrations and food festivals, as well as with newspaper, TV and online ads. All of it has been encouraging them to include more dairy products in their daily diet and home cooking. While Chinese-Canadians are its first target market, the Dairy Farmers plan to run a campaign geared at South Asians in 2016.

In the meantime, curious cooks can try Yuen's twist on Chinese dishes. Some of her recipes immediately make sense. The dragon fruit and mango smoothie, which includes milk and Greek yogurt, is a drink I can imagine enjoying before heading off to work. There's also a steamed egg and milk tofu that takes me back to my childhood kitchen, where my parents would prepare steamed egg in the microwave, flavour it with soy sauce and mix it with rice for a simple weeknight dinner.

But many of the savoury dishes appear to have adopted a "justadd-cheese!" approach, sometimes in surprising ways. In Yuen's version of barbecue duck lettuce wraps, she adds yogurt to the traditional hoisin sauce and includes shredded mozzarella as a filling. Congee, a savoury rice porridge, gets havarti cheese mixed in at the end of cooking.

It's a much richer version of a dish that is often served to those nursing a tummy ache or cold.

Funny as these flavour combinations may seem to the traditional Chinese palate, Eastmeets-West dishes are increasingly popular among trendy chefs who push boundaries and diners' expectations. Asian dishes that incorporate dairy are no longer limited to items such as the Philadelphia roll, a maki roll with smoked salmon and a smear of cream cheese.

Carbonara udon, made popular in Japan, is one of the biggest draws at Kinka Izakaya (formerly Guu Sakabar) in Toronto. The Japanese take on the classic spaghetti dish has all the buttery, eggy richness of the original but with plump udon noodles and thinly sliced nori.

At DaiLo in Toronto, chef Nick Liu has been experimenting with dairy in his dishes, mostly inspired by his love of cheese. His take on the Szechuan classic mapo tofu is an extreme but creative bending of culinary rules.

"I was just looking into the cheese window at Monforte Cheese and I picked up a wheel of halloumi for my girlfriend because she loves it," he says. "I was feeling it and looking [at] it and I thought, 'man it looks like tofu.' " Liu's version of the dish features fried cubes of halloumi covered with ground pork, scallions and a spicy black bean sauce. The flavour combination is complex, and the fiery chili sauce contrasts the creaminess of the cheese.

It's a dish that catches the attention, but it's not exactly a healthy example of incorporating dairy into Chinese dishes.

And dietitian Rosie Schwartz says one main issue with the Dairy Farmers initiative is that it fails to look at health through a wider lens.

"If you're going to be promoting dairy as a health issue then some of the recipes are not ones that I would be promoting," Schwartz says, referring to dishes such as deep-fried cheese-filled spring rolls.

The author of The Enlightened Eater's Whole Foods Guide, Schwartz largely agrees with the Dairy Farmers' health claims.

Dairy is related to a reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes. It also lowers blood pressure and reduces bone-thinning, she says: In countries such as China where dairy is uncommon, the rate of osteoporosis in women older than 50 is twice as high as in Canada.

Both the Dairy Farmers and Schwartz point to lactose-free milk products as options for populations that report a high rate of lactose intolerance, which includes Asians, Africans and people of Jewish backgrounds.

Schwartz says that as well as decreasing blood pressure, milk can reduce incidences of diabetes and heart diseases, health issues that Asian communities are more vulnerable to.

"My opinion is that when a recipe is supposed to be promoting nutrition, it should be in a holistic way," says Schwartz. "It should not just focus on one nutrient or food. This is an opportunity to show innovative cooking techniques where foods can provide less fat and fewer calories." In other words, more yogurt, less deep-fried cheese.

Then again, it's hard to fault the Dairy Farmers for taking the easy route when trying to win new converts. When I showed my mother the recipes and asked her which ones she'd most likely try, a holistic approach to health was not top of mind.

"I like the snacks," she said, pointing out the fried spring rolls.

Associated Graphic


This advertisement suggesting milk be used as a poaching liquid for pears ran in Chinese-language newspapers in spring 2015.

The search starts now for holiday tipples that go beyond the obvious (and often over-priced)
Saturday, November 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L13 @Beppi_Crosariol

We're into statementwine season. By which I mean posh labels and nosebleed prices, not necessarily liquids that have much to say. Sometimes the two don't intersect.

I hope that doesn't sound too cynical. I've been wowed by many trophies while previewing a Santa's sleigh-worth of holiday-timed retail releases.

Some will be featured here over the coming weeks as well as in the weekday Life section and on my Twitter feed. Many, as you can imagine, have been of the hyper-extracted, teeth-staining, high-alcohol red variety that seems favoured by well-heeled gift givers. I'm tempted to call them Donald Trump wines but that's off the mark given that Trump drinks no alcohol and thinks wine, even in moderation, is a bad idea.

Today I'd like to mention a few genuinely impressive, pricey reds before turning, in the detailed reviews below, to more affordable products. Masi Campolongo di Torbe Amarone 2009 (score 96, $101.95 in Ontario) is a single-vineyard, highly limited bottling from a leading producer of Amarone, the Veneto region's regal red style. It tips the scale at 16-per-cent alcohol yet displays remarkable complexity and elegant balance for its weight, layered with dried cherry, raisin, tobacco, spice and so much more. From the same winery, just released in a generous double-size magnum bottle in Ontario, at $149.95, is Masi Riserva Costasera Amarone 2009 (score 93), another superb offering, with overtones of chocolate and espresso.

In terms of popular recognition, L'Aventure Optimus 2013 (94, $82.95 in Ontario) may not rank in the top tier of California cult reds even at its hefty price, but it's a tour-de-force from a French winemaker who said au revoir to humid Bordeaux and settled in sunny Paso Robles.

It's a monster-truck-sized blend of syrah, cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot that's far from lazy like so many overripe reds that pass for greatness in America.

From Niagara and also from a native Frenchman, J-L Groux, comes Stratus Red 2012 (92, $44.20), a terrific effort from a good year for the estate's richly textured and tannic flagship blend. And from British Columbia, there are the collector-worthy Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin 2010 (91, $39.99 in British Columbia, various prices in other provinces, also available in British Columbia in 1.5-, 3- and 6-litre formats for big-statement gift giving); and Painted Rock Merlot 2013 (92, $34.69, for more information visit http://www.paintedrock. ca), a fi rm, cedary-savoury, structured red for the cellar.

Château Rahoul 2010 (France) SCORE: 91 PRICE: $29.95

Bordeaux's excellent 2010 growing season provided a shot in the arm not only to famous and ultra-expensive brands that get too much attention but also to estates such as this. Located in the Graves district, it's a blend of 79-per-cent merlot, 19-percent cabernet sauvignon and 2-per-cent petit verdot. Smooth and chewy, showing excellent ripeness and density, it suggests plum jam, dark chocolate, licorice, minerals and leather. Approachable now, particularly if you're serving steak, and worth cellaring for up to 8 years. Available at the above price in Ontario, various prices in Alberta, $29.75 in Quebec, $27.30 in Newfoundland.

Chateau Teyssier Montagne Saint-Émilion 2010 (France) SCORE: 90 PRICE: $24.95

Located on the right bank of the Dordogne river, this is one of many properties to rely on the Midas touch of famed consulting oenologist Michel Rolland. Mostly merlot, with small amounts of cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc, the 2010 Teyssier (not to be confused with the more expensive "grand cru" wine from nearby also called Château Teyssier - and that certainly can be confusing) is very attractive Bordeaux for the money. Medium-full-bodied, with excellent mid-palate weight and velvety texture, it hints at plum sauce and currants, with a fetching earthy, leafy-underbrush quality. Roast beef would be nice.

A good candidate for up to eight years in the cellar. Available at the above price in Ontario, various prices in Alberta.

JoieFarm PTG (British Columbia) SCORE: 90 PRICE: $23.90

This is worthy of icon status in Canada as far as I'm concerned, not because it's big but because it's lean, brave and beautiful.

Few pinot noir producers would dream of blending that hallowed red grape with anything else. Yet they do so in Burgundy - pinot's hallowed ground - in the form of an underappreciated, modest quaff called passetoutgrains, a blend of supple, jammy pinot with crisp, peppery gamay.

It's a wine that dares thumb its nose in the direction of snobs, particularly pinot fanatics of the Sideways ilk. Joie smartly dubs this joyful, excellent blend "PTG," a handy initialization of passetoutgrains. Light and crisp, the 2013 is chiselled with tangy acidity and piquant cracked pepper, with bright raspberry, herbs, an earthy, root-vegetable base note and hint of gamay's happy pink bubble gum. The pale colour would be enough to send many red enthusiasts running, so don't consider it if you're looking for a Tyrannosaurus red to pair with a side of mastodon that you'll be consuming with a chainsaw and pitchfork. Great for grilled salmon, charcuterie or roast chicken. Available at the above price in British Columbia, $35 in Alberta.

Pirramimma White Label Shiraz 2013 (Australia) SCORE: 92 PRICE: $24.95

Such a consistent winery. The 2013 shiraz is inky-dark and velvety, with succulent, juicy fruit and strong notes of pepper and throat-clearing eucalyptus, remarkably balanced for its 14.8-per-cent alcohol.

$28.49 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $20.27 in Newfoundland.

Bleasdale Frank Potts 2012 (Australia) SCORE: 90 PRICE: $27.95

Oenologically speaking, Australia may be at polar opposites with France in many ways. The wines tend to be louder and the grape blends often tradition-flouting.

Here's a full-bodied red that slavishly follows the classic Bordeaux formula, mostly cabernet sauvignon with malbec, petit verdot, merlot and cabernet franc. Gutsy and dense with sweet plum jam, it's balanced by tangy acidity and peppery spice, with an herbal, tobacco depth (is that the cab franc speaking?) and a touch of mint. Lamb chops would carry it to a fine finish.

Various prices in Alberta.

Terredora Falanghina 2014 (Italy) SCORE: 89 PRICE: $16.95

Oily weight yet dry and not heavy, with a welcome mineral-stony edge to the apple-citrus fruit. A well-crafted white from a good producer in the hills east of Naples. $19.49 in British Columbia.

Quieto 3 Malbec 2009 (Argentina) SCORE: 89 PRICE: $17.95

Still youthful at six years, this full-bodied red delivers a mix of sweet plum, darkroast coffee and bracing spice. Serve it with grilled meats or hearty stews.

Available in Ontario.

Giacomo Mori Chianti 2012 (Italy) SCORE: 89 PRICE: $19.95

Classically styled Tuscan sangiovese, with plenty of woodsy depth and salty tang, this medium-full-bodied red is generously fruity yet lively, with a smoky undertone and sweet spice.

Available in Ontario.

Château Hauchat 2011 (France) SCORE: 88 PRICE: $15.95

Located in Fronsac, a good-value appellation just west of Pomerol and Saint-Émilion, Hauchat relies on just one variety rather, and that's merlot. The 2011 is a Bordeaux bargain, medium-weight and juicy, with good flesh for its size and a tight structure built around chalky, dry tannins.

Try it with steak. Available in Ontario.

Who sends handwritten holiday notes? Enough hard-core paper addicts, Sarah Hampson reports, to keep greeting-card artists in business from coast to coast. Read on for a preview of the ones that are worth the ink
Thursday, November 26, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L1

'Tis the season to be a paper nerd. I cannot bring myself to send season's greetings in e-anything format. It has to be the old-fashioned way or nothing at all.

Thanks to the indie craft movement, Canadian designers, artists and printers offer plenty of options, from pen-and-ink drawings reproduced through letterpress printing, a technique that dates to the 15th century, to hand-cut templates of designs for linocut reproduction to hand-painted original art that is digitally printed. The results are far more beautiful and personal than the Hallmark-y, mass-produced variety of cards, which can feel about as special as a tea towel from a tourist shop.

When carefully selected and sent with a special handwritten message inside, craft cards are little messengers of the heart. They're often more meaningful than a present.

Papillon Illustrative Press

"People often say to us: 'Who sends greeting cards any more?' " says Chantal Bennett of the letterpress studio she founded with her husband, Joel Kimmel, in Westport, Ont. "But there are people who really love paper. And we do this well enough to do it full-time."

Bennett is a graduate of the Parsons School of Design in New York, while Kimmel is a graduate of Sheridan College in Toronto who does freelance editorial illustration for print outlets including Wired and The New York Times. The duo started the business in 2009, concentrating mostly on wedding invitations and custom-printing projects. In 2012, they branched out into greeting cards because "it allows us more freedom to flex our illustrative muscle," Bennett says.

Their cards ($6 each) are sold in more than 50 retail stores across Canada and the United States as well as on their online shop and through

Bennett and her husband focus on their skill in pen-and-ink line drawing.

"We love drawing fun stuff - animals wearing party hats and figurative things," she explains.

Manufacturing is done by letterpress (or relief) printing - the common method of printing from the time of its invention in the mid-15th century by Johannes Gutenberg until the second half of the 20th century - which uses direct impressions from an inked raised surface. "I enjoy controlling the manufacturing process. It is time-consuming. But I love the tactile nature of it," Bennett says, adding that she calls herself the Press Lady., 613-539-5451 or 1-866-782 9221

Banquet Atelier & Workshop

"I am drawing all the time, all year around. I am often doing the Christmas season on the beach," says Sarah Edmonds, a graduate of Emily Carr University who started the Vancouver studio almost a decade ago after her first son was born. "I work from a wide vocabulary of imagery. I don't look too closely at other stationers. I go to libraries. I look at old books. Or attend art shows."

This year's holiday cards are inspired by a specific type of Pennsylvania Dutch folk art called "Fraktur." Edmonds carefully oversees the manufacturing process with a local offset printer, while marketing and sales is done by her friend Tammy Lawrence, a native of Regina, who left a career in television to join Edmonds seven years ago.

Banquet sells its cards ($5 each) online and wholesale to more than 300 stores internationally. It recently completed a custom set of Egyptian-themed cards for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to accompany the current Ancient Egypt Transformed exhibition., 604-710-6923

Jamie Ashforth

"I am a mixed-media artist, but predominately, I paint in acrylics and in watercolours," explains Jamie Ashforth, an artist in Toronto who sells her holiday cards ($6 each) online through and in a variety of stationery and art stores in the city. Employed as a scenic artist for film and television sets, she started creating cards about three years ago, cutting up original prints from work that hadn't worked out well.

A year ago, Ashforth developed her current carddesign technique. She first made small, colourful 6-by-9-inch acrylic paintings of animals - a polar bear, a buffalo, a walrus, a black bear and a fox - adorned with whimsical Christmas touches, such as striped socks, a wreath, a Santa hat or a necklace of lights. She then digitally scanned the paintings so she could manipulate the images to her liking and worked with a local printer to produce the final product.

This year, she has made holiday cards from original and simple watercolour paintings of a holly twig, a wreath, a pine tree and a pine cone, using the same scanning and printing process. "A card is a really accessible and affordable way to have artwork," she says. "I love the tradition of sending cards for the holidays and special occasions. There's something sacred about it.", 647-454-1674

Duly Noted

By 2014, Rebecca Dimock had been the in-house designer at Halifax stationery store Duly Noted for almost four years, specializing as a designer of wedding invitations and other custom stationery. Last year, she was inspired to try her hand at Christmas cards. "I wanted to use a style of printing called linocut. It's more tangible and brings the whole process much closer to the artist," says the graduate from Nova Scotia Community College, who grew up in the Annapolis Valley. "It's basically like a piece of rubber, which I cut and ink and then press like a stamp onto paper."

Dinnock drew images of animals in sweaters and carved the pliable template by hand. For printing, she kept the style simple and graphic, using only red ink. "Each one has a handmade feel. I have touched each one. If you look at my work table at home, you can see where my cat has walked across it, over the paper and the ink," she says cheerfully.

"That is what my Saturday mornings look like."

The cards ($5-$7 each) sold well last year, so Dimock decided to make more for this season. This year's new addition are cards made with a quilling technique, where thin strips of paper are coiled up and then glued individually to a card., 902-446-5605,

EverLovin' Press

The card line from this Kingston studio is largely a long-distance collaboration between owner Vincent Perez and B.C.-based illustrator Tom Froese. The two met when they were students at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, graduating in 2009. "Tom is my house style," Perez says. "He has an illustration style that lends itself to the letterpress medium - the flat areas of colour and the textures that can be represented as half-tones." Each colour is applied separately and run through each time on the press, he explains. "You have to accept human error," he adds. The final result has the beauty of imperfection. "I love the saltiness and unevenness of the coverage."

A widely published editorial and commercial illustrator, Froese lives in Yarrow, B.C. "I love the eccentricity and kitsch of old Christmas decorations and how that hokey stuff is what ends up meaning Christmas to many people," he says. "So, I had this idea to celebrate that campy aspect of Christmas and elevate it with my illustration style."

He's also in love with the tactile pleasure of cards as objects he can store in drawers and hold in his hands. "It is very satisfying to get that fresh-off-theprinter smell," he explains with a laugh., 613-876-5927

RedBlacks revive Ottawa's love for football
The franchise has helped to bring about a 'radical transformation' - both economic and cultural - to the city's Lansdowne Park area
Saturday, November 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S9

OTTAWA -- Two days away from playing the first CFL postseason game in their city since 1983, the Ottawa RedBlacks practised Friday with the west gate of TD Place Stadium wide open.

Gaggles of excitable kids from nearby daycare programs toddled through to watch the open practice. Jersey-clad moms and dads came with their families on what was a Professional Activity Day for many elementary schools. Die-hard fans in red and black lumberjack plaid sat quietly analyzing every snap taken by quarterback Henry Burris. The north-side field-level stands were alive with some 800 people who wanted an intimate look at this team.

After a dismal 2-16 debut season in the CFL last year, the RedBlacks played to a 12-6 record this year and topped the East Division. On Sunday, they will face the Hamilton TigerCats in the East final, sitting one win away from becoming the first team from the nation's capital to play in a Grey Cup since 1981.

Wins aren't the only reason Ottawa is embracing CFL football. A modern new stadium and surrounding entertainment district have revitalized Ottawa's historic Lansdowne Park area and drawn crowds. The beloved spot by the Rideau Canal has a new vibe, refreshing an area that was stained by the crumbling old Frank Clair Stadium and memories of failures by the two CFL franchises that folded there. The RedBlacks have managed to lure long-time football fans back and make inroads with the next generation.

The new TD Place field has a condominium building in its end zone and houses two teams both thriving in just their second seasons of existence - the RedBlacks and Ottawa Fury FC.

It's central to an entertainment centre developed by the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group and the city. The Ottawa 67s still play there, and the district now also includes busy bars and restaurants, a movie theatre, fitness club, two-storey Whole Foods market and retail shops, all sitting on top of a sprawling underground parkade.

"It's been a radical transformation," said Robin Ritchie, associate professor of marketing at Carleton University's Sprott School of Business.

"There were many in the neighbourhoods surrounding the stadium that had misgivings about bringing that level of activity back to the area because of traffic or noise. To some extent those concerns are still there, but even the opponents would have to grudgingly admit that the plan has been extraordinarily well executed and the experience of being in and around the stadium is terrific. It has restored a level of polish and sophistication that area hasn't seen in many decades."

On a game day, when the RedBlacks score a touchdown at TD Place, wood chips fly in the West end zone as a team of lumberjacks from the Algonquin Loggersports Team revs up a chainsaw to slice a ceremonial wood medallion from a cedar log. It's all part of the contemporary yet traditional, rustic, woodsy and ultra-Canadian brand that harkens back to Ottawa's history as a logging town. It has also filled the stands with more red and black plaid clothing than a Joe Fresh commercial.

"I was an Ottawa Rough Riders fan here since age 12 and used to go to those games with my dad, and now I bring my own teenage son, so it's great to have football back, and to see how this complex has changed our whole neighbourhood," said Jimmy Fata, a popular fan who dresses like a lumberjack with a twist - an open zipper glued to his face revealing red and black face paint.

"I went to some Ottawa Renegades games over the years, and it was never the same. It's all about the proper ownership, and this time, they just have it right."

Ottawa's Rough Riders formed in 1876, were a founding member of the CFL in 1958, winning nine Grey Cups before they folded because of poor management in 1996. A short-lived new franchise, the Renegades, formed in 2002, but lasted only through the 2005 season, having never made it to the postseason.

Some felt this attempt would fail, too, but OSEG is proving different.

"Having that long break since the last incarnation of CFL football here erased a lot of bad memories and negative impressions, and we got a clean slate with younger fans," said Jeff Hunt, president of OSEG. "It has blown us away how well we've done with the young fan base.

That's the most desired fan base of any sports team, and we've hit a home run with them. We have built a lot of social areas into the stadium, because gone are the days when a fan sits in his or her seat for three hours."

A class of sports-marketing students from Ottawa's St. Francis Xavier High School was among those watching Friday's practice. The teens were asked to observe how the RedBlacks present themselves and what they offer fans. They're well aware of the notion that the CFL has traditionally struggled to attract young fans.

"I come to all the games, taking the shuttle bus here, and I prefer the CFL to the NFL because these players aren't such superstars, but part of our community," said one of the students, 17-year-old Tavon Hibbert, who also plays football. "I love going to the fan tunnel, talking to players, taking my own photos and videos, and I'm all over Twitter and Snapchat."

The RedBlacks are a feel-good story during a season when CFL television ratings were reportedly down. Events such as the FIFA Women's World Cup, Pan Am Games and especially the Toronto Blue Jays playoff run hogged much of the country's attention.

Also, having so many starting quarterbacks and other key CFL players sidelined with injuries took some shine off this year's product - and frankly, the RedBlacks benefited by playing many hobbled opponents.

The team expects to set an attendance record at TD Place for the East final with a sellout crowd of more than 25,000. The team made 500 additional standing-room tickets available this week, and even those were snapped right up. While they don't have the biggest stadiums in the CFL, the RedBlacks and Ticats topped the league in the category of attendance relative to capacity over the past two seasons, both teams with brand new buildings enjoying sellout games.

"In a lot of ways, this reminds me of a U.S college football atmosphere because it's rowdy and rambunctious, and the whole experience is a great outdoor show," Burris said. "You've got this amazing restaurant and entertainment complex and now we've coupled it with the on-field product that is making the city proud, so it's been a total experience for the people of Ottawa and it's been a long time coming."

This is still a city known for government and Ottawa Senators fans, but a RedBlacks flag is flying at Ottawa's City Hall this week.

"We're acutely aware of how fleeting popularity can be, so we'll keep adding great new things to the experience," Hunt said.

"The Parliament buildings will always be the first thing people visit in Ottawa, but soon I think this complex at Lansdowne will be the next thing they want to experience."

Associated Graphic

Quarterback Henry Burris signs autographs for fans after the Ottawa RedBlacks' practice at TD Place in Ottawa on Friday.


Rat patrol snuffs out that awful gnawing feeling
Friday, November 27, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A1

ALSASK, SASK. -- There are chew marks on the side of an old wooden granary. Dry oats are strewn everywhere. Holes have been dug under the shed. It's still early fall and yet the grass is matted down, as though it's been covered with snow.

These are the signs of an enemy Phil Merrill has spent decades battling.

"We've got rats," he says, stepping out of his truck, a grey Ford F-150 adorned with Alberta Rat Control on the side. "I can see the trails they've left in the grass.


Mr. Merrill, 64, is standing in a field in southwestern Saskatchewan, just two kilometres from the Alberta border. This is the front line of a war he's been fighting for nearly 40 years as a pest control officer. The expressive Albertan has been the head of the provincial rat patrol for nearly a decade. Alberta has been rat-free - excepting the odd straggler - for the past 65 years; it's the only jurisdiction in the world to have fought rats and won, though colonies continue to thrive just outside the provincial boundary. Mr. Merrill is tasked with keeping them out.

Albertans have a take-no-prisoners attitude towards rats. For decades the province ran advertising telling residents to fear rats and kill them on sight. There's a heavily inspected rat control zone along the Saskatchewan border and pet rats are banned throughout the province.

But Alberta's key weapon is the provincial rat patrol, a team of eight pest-control officers armed with shotguns, tasked with inspecting the control zone and spreading 10 tonnes of poison annually. No other jurisdiction has created a dedicated unit with the role of quickly snuffing out any rats who make it across a border.

"Alberta's got a real Alberta Advantage - we don't have rats," Mr. Merrill said between gulps of chocolate milk, his favourite drink, while driving the 500-kilometre control zone that falls under his purview. "There's a cost to rats. A farmer with a wooden bin would have to pay $1,500 for a new floor each time they chew through. The problem isn't that they eat that much wheat, but they contaminate a lot."

Despite attempts, no one has been able to estimate how much Alberta has saved from having no rats. If they got through, the rodents would destroy stores of grains on farms, undermining a pillar of the provincial economy. They also carry disease and would chew through household pipes and wires in Edmonton and Calgary.

After more than a half-century without rats, the savings have been in the millions of dollars, according to Mr. Merrill.

Raised in southern Alberta, Mr. Merrill studied pest management at Simon Fraser University. He has worked as an inspector and pest specialist in Alberta for most of his life, and rats are clearly a passion. It's an odd job, but one that has yielded many stories. There was the rat that got loose on an Air Canada flight to Fort McMurray and somehow made it to the cockpit; a stubborn rat in a Lethbridge supermarket that was chased by employees carrying brooms; or the pet store that chose to fly three rats to the SPCA in Vancouver rather than euthanize them.

Alberta's war on rats started in 1950 when the rodents were first found in the border hamlet of Alsask, Sask. With the Rockies to the west, badlands to the south and vast forests to the north, Alberta had never had rats. But after two centuries of slow progress west from the port cities of the East Coast, rats had finally arrived at Alberta's doorstep. With a post-Second World War government that wielded significant resources, understood agriculture and feared the damage that rats could do to crops and buildings, the Alberta government created the rat patrol.

The Social Credit government of the day also established a rat control zone that stretches 29 kilometres into Alberta along the Saskatchewan border. The control zone starts at the U.S.

border and continues to the northern forests near Cold Lake, Alta. There are about 3,170 farm sites within the zone and each is inspected annually. Special attention is lavished on older granaries with wooden floors.

The rat patrol's main weapon is a bucket of aquamarine poison pellets. The bait is made of grain, barley and poison, all held together by wax. "Poison just works the best, by far," Mr. Merrill says as he pulls a bucket of the anticoagulant pellets from the back of his truck. They'll kill most rats within a few days. The patrol has mostly phased out the use of snap traps.

Some in Alberta question whether the province is truly rat-free. Mr. Merrill explains that what the status means is that the province has no breeding rat population. Hundreds of rats do come into Alberta on commercial trucks from the United States and other provinces, but they're almost always alone and die alone.

The wooden granary in Alsask that is the source of Mr. Merrill's frustration is outside of his jurisdiction. The neighbouring Alberta town of Oyen has been a recent hot spot for rat activity and he thinks the old structure is where the rats are coming from.

A paper sign stapled onto the granary says that a pest control officer working for the local county last visited in May. Mr. Merrill shakes his head. "That just ain't enough. They need to be here every week. And they probably need to empty that granary."

The granary looks like a backyard shed and was probably built in the 1970s. The oats inside have been left alone for five years and there are probably hundreds of rats living under the granary. Surrounded by kilometres of empty, wind-swept prairie, the rats have found a warm place to live with a nearly unlimited supply of food.

"Damnit, I thought they'd all be dead," said Mr. Merrill, noting that officials in Saskatchewan have flagged the granary.

"We've got to do something about this or they'll keep getting across that border."

If the granary were only a few kilometres to the west in Alberta, Mr. Merrill would have the shed emptied and lifted by a crane. Armed with poison and shotguns, the rat patrol would have the rodent situation solved quickly. If that didn't work, they would set fire to the granary.

Saskatchewan doesn't have a rat patrol, but the province has stepped up its rat control effort in recent years. Two-thirds of its regional municipalities are now rat-free and the province could be entirely rat-free within a decade.

"That's where the rats stop and the patrol starts," says Romeo Prescott, a farmer in Alsask, pointing at a nearby cell tower on the Alberta border. "Growing up, we knew that Alberta was militant about rats. We figured we had so many here because they'd send them back to Saskatchewan. It would be great if our province would be as aggressive as Alberta. My rat patrol on this farm is my cats."

Associated Graphic

Phil Merrill, who leads the Alberta Rat Control border patrol, checks for rodent activity around a farm building near Oyen, Alta. The province has been fighting to keep rats out for 65 years.


Ice capades
Edmonton's multibillion-dollar downtown redevelopment is a lightning rod for real estate investors
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, November 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S4

EDMONTON -- From the driver's seat of his Escalade, real estate investor Terry Paranych is recreating the moment he found his newest buy on the northern fringe of downtown Edmonton. He was picking up Chinese food in a rough part of town that had been neglected for decades, until Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz turned his attention to it for the team's new home.

"I was looking at all the cranes," Mr. Paranych, who's better known as a residential agent, says. "All of a sudden I see a commercial real estate sign on the corner." He points to a red, humble, six-unit apartment he secured for a $505,000 bargain.

Much attention has been paid to the arena, a $480-million private-public development between the city and the Katz Group, and the accompanying hotel, office and condo towers, movie theatre and shopping centre that together encompass the so-called Ice District currently valued at $2.5-billion. But among residential investors, it's all about the decades-old stock of multifamily units in and around Central McDougall, a neighbourhood where median household income is less than half the city average. "I've been sniffing around here for over a year," the born and raised Edmontonian and Oilers season ticket holder says.

Mr. Paranych isn't alone. Since the first mutterings of a downtown arena emerged in the late 2000s, Mainstreet Equity, a publicly traded Calgary-based company, has gobbled up at least 119 buildings totalling 3,683 units, according to the Calgary Herald.

"People are snapping them up," Melanie Reuter, director of research at the Real Estate Investment Network (REIN), says.

REIN conducted a secondary analysis of international arenas' effects on property values. After controlling for "hot markets," Ms. Reuter says, the report found stadiums increased property values within one kilometre by 3 per cent to 15 per cent.

She predicts the impact in Edmonton will be on the higher end of the spectrum, with the help of a new LRT station between the arena and MacEwan University, which is in the midst of consolidating its three campuses downtown. "So now we have a perfect storm of fabulous things going on in the area," Ms. Reuter says. "We have been teaching REIN members that [these neighbourhoods] are places to invest [in] with great tenant management."

Housing north of the arena targets students and lower-income tenants, which couldn't be more opposite to what's arising south of it in the Ice District, a joint-venture between Katz Group and WAM Development Group. This fall, the Legends Private Residences, which began construction last year, will enter the market with some of the most luxurious condos Edmonton's ever seen. Sitting atop the city's second four-star hotel, the high-end of the 264 condos are expected to sell for $1,000 per square foot. By comparison, units in Fox Two, a tower that began construction two blocks south on a well-established, chic promenade, sell for about half that.

Ice District will also be home to Canada's largest skyscraper outside Toronto, Stantec Tower, developed for the international engineering firm by WAM, with another set of luxury condos or apartments above the offices.

Katz Group also purchased the Greyhound terminal, rumoured to become a residential tower once the bus depot's lease expires in May.

According to the City of Edmonton, there's another $2.5billion in construction in downtown Edmonton independent of the Ice District, which includes more upscale residences. But will people buy them up when oil hovers around $60 a barrel? As Ms. Reuter puts it: "The biggest effect on real estate values is jobs."

Perhaps signalling lacklustre sales, Toronto "Condo King" Brad Lamb's first foray into the Alberta capital, Jasper House, as well as the Orchard in Calgary, are enticing buyers with twoyear rental guarantees.

Others are confident they'll fare well because demand for luxury condos has been pent up and point to the city's growing economy, which saw a gain of 6,700 jobs in October compared with the province's total loss of 11,000 jobs that month.

One thing the recession has been good for is construction costs and labour. "This is exactly the right time for this kind of development because with the slower oil market we have the manpower and the equipment and material to undertake this project," John Rose, the City of Edmonton's chief economist, says.

"The additional residential units will provide a solid foundations for services and amenities," Mr. Rose adds. "And get rid of a few of those surface parking spots while we're at it!"

Real estate investors are eager to purchase these blights that have been synonymous with downtown Edmonton's sleepy reputation. But it might be a while before they're similarly staked with cranes. "We have some sites on the periphery," Jandip Deol, Colliers Canada's associate vice-president of multifamily, says. "We haven't had much traction on this site because no one wants to be in competition with the Katz Group."

He estimates 1,000 units on the horizon in the Ice District.

"Absorption on the sale of these units will be key. If you're north of the arena, you don't want to be in competition to these new units."

There's also uncertainty about the social effects of all this development. Can Edmonton's upper and lower classes dance cheek-to-cheek? "Having a mixed community in terms of socio-economics is a good thing," Mr. Rose says. "You don't want a downtown that is a ghetto for the poor, nor a playground for the rich."

The homeless drop-in centre and night shelter a block away recently purchased their buildings, so they're here to stay.

Others have worried about rent hikes in the area that is home to many social housing tenants and a large concentration of immigrants and aboriginals.

Rent in Edmonton is rising faster than in every major Canadian city but Calgary, according to a 2014 Colliers report. The monthly cost of a two-bedroom apartment has increased 75 per cent since 2007.

The city's operator and administrator of social housing, Capital Region Housing, hasn't seen any effect on rent that can be attributed to the arena. Both Colliers and REIN's representatives expect that will change once the Ice District is complete, but not drastically.

Mr. Paranych, who has one pending sale and three more offers in the area, says he's not planning on raising rents. His newly renamed property, Arena Apartments, remains one of the few places in downtown where you can get a one-bedroom for about $800 a month, even after he sunk $110,000 into renovations: a paint job, landscaping, a repaved parking lot with six added stalls - "and another executive parking stall, for me when I go to the Oilers games."

Associated Graphic

The Ice District, which is to centre on the Edmonton Oilers' new arena, will include hotel, office and condo towers, a movie theatre and a shopping centre, and is valued at approximately $2.5-billion.

While some worry about rents rising in the area around the Ice District, real estate investor Terry Paranych plans to keep his Arena Apartments affordable. His perk is having a parking spot close to the rink for games.

Language classes are only the beginning. Teachers and other school staff bear unique responsibility in easing the passage of young refugees into Canadian society. Selena Ross examines the learning curve ahead
Saturday, November 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page M1

By the time he was eight years old, Salah Alaid could recall four distinct chapters of his life: the home his father built in Damascus, an escape to Jordan, some "boring" years in a refugee camp, and then starting school at Rose Avenue Junior Public School in downtown Toronto.

He had missed about two years of school when he arrived last year, but what most worried his teachers was how often Salah, normally soft-spoken, would lose his temper. It was an assistant teacher, the boy said, who first began to understand how much his memories "distract" him. For example, he had watched as his uncle was killed.

"She likes to talk with people," Salah said. "She listens to this stuff."

All Canadians await the arrival of 25,000 Syrian refugees, but few more than school staff, who bear a huge and unique responsibility in easing their passage into Canadian society. Many child refugees have not only lived through violence, but have missed years of school and medical care. Federal funding will help hire new teachers and school workers to meet their needs. But staff at schools such as Rose Avenue know that regardless of job title, they all share the sensitive task of forming some of the children's, and their parents' first close ties in Canada.

Reena Soin, who is currently teaching English as a second language to Salah's younger brother, said there are often obvious differences between children who arrive as immigrants and those who come as refugees.

"I know we've had children from North Korea [for whom] a period of their life was just spent running, living illegally, living in fear," she said.

The children had been taught to say they were from South Korea and they refused to admit otherwise, even once safely in Toronto, she said. "You can't sit down and say to them, 'What's going on here?' " Ms. Soin said. "It takes time."

The federal government's plan is for the last of the 25,000 refugees to arrive by the end of February, according to the revised timetable announced Tuesday.

Part of the focus will be on admitting families, many going directly to 36 identified "destination" cities, meaning lots of children are on the way.

"Children spend most of their lives in schools, and so schools are critically important in terms of making parents feel that they have become part of the community," said Debbie Douglas, executive director of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants.

Ontario's authorities haven't yet settled on final funding numbers with their counterparts in Ottawa, according to a statement from the Ministry of Education. The province will also contribute extra to the Syrian effort.

"With the added resources from both ourselves and the federal government, we can settle all the Syrian refugees we get," the ministry said.

It's unclear who will be hired in Ontario and elsewhere with new funding. Aside from ESL classes such as Ms. Soin's, the Toronto District School Board already offers special classes at 53 schools for newcomer students ages 11 to 18 who haven't regularly attended school before. Another key kind of staff is settlement workers, who specialize in helping newly arrived families and have long been employed at certain schools in Ontario, British Columbia and other provinces.

Before refugee children are registered in public schools, they often benefit from an in-between stage. In Toronto, the TDSB has two newcomer reception centres.

In Manitoba, newly arrived children immediately spend their days in a classroom-type setting while their parents find permanent housing, said Rita Chahal, executive director of the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council. They learn what school will be like and are encouraged to talk about their experiences so far.

The staff, after getting to know the children, later work with their schools and help with parentteacher interviews, Ms. Chahal said.

"That's one of the first things we try to do, is get them into a structured school environment," she said.

Rose Avenue, whose 675 students are mostly new to Canada, also has a parent learning centre, after-school tutoring, a kitchen serving hot meals, and a visiting speech pathologist, psychologist and pediatrician, among other services.

The key to the children's success, though, doesn't seem to rest with one particular service, but with putting them in a situation - ideally a small group at first - where their stories can be heard and understood, said David Crichton, the school's principal.

On Monday, Ms. Soin stood in front of six small children, including Taki Alaid, and used Toronto's first day of sub-zero weather to teach words for winter clothing: tuque, balaclava, mittens.

"This is something that [one girl] has today," she said. "What are these called?" "Earmuffs!" the girl exclaimed.

The girl, also a refugee, was seven or eight years old but hadn't attended school before arriving at Rose Avenue. Ms. Soin had created word-search puzzles on paper, partly for the benefit of students who hadn't even had the chance to learn the alphabet in their mother tongues. Searching through letters helped them grasp the concept of the written word.

Ms. Soin smiled at Taki, who had pushed his chair away and stood over his work. Children coming from refugee camps often aren't used to sitting in a classroom all day, she said.

Salah partly understood why he was struggling when he saw his little brother sailing through school more calmly, and he realized that Taki had been too young to remember much of the war, Mr. Crichton said.

But recently, Taki has also wanted to talk about it. He told Ms. Soin how his family "had to just run, and they had to crouch down, stay very quiet because there were bad people with guns," she said.

She said hiring translators should be a high priority because they allow teachers to talk to parents, who sometimes ask for their own tips on handling bureaucracy or parenting in Canada. Most important, it's often only with the parents' trust that children open up.

"When the parent says it's okay to tell your teacher ... I think it really makes a difference," Ms. Soin said.

Salah and Taki's father, Mohamad Alaid, said the boys and their older brother hated their intermittent schooling in Jordan, where teachers sometimes hit them. In Toronto, he and his wife have become friendly with about 20 other parents and receive regular letters and calls from Rose Avenue. He came to like the teachers when he saw the "helpful" way they spoke to their students, he said.

"You're in the same family," he said. "In Toronto, all Canada ... if you go to family doctor, it's different. If you go to school, you see ... how teachers talk with children.

It's very good, very good. I like this school."

Follow me on Twitter: @seleross

Associated Graphic

Seven-year-old Taki Alaid, centre, came to Toronto from Syria by way of Jordan. He now attends Rose Avenue Junior Public School.


Taki Alaid, centre, works on a math assignment beside classmate Pradyot Gautam at Toronto's Rose Avenue Junior Public School. Taki and his elder brothers disliked the intermittent schooling they received in Jordan after fleeing Syria.


Ice capades
Edmonton's multibillion-dollar downtown redevelopment is a lightning rod for real estate investors
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, November 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S6

EDMONTON -- From the driver's seat of his Escalade, real estate investor Terry Paranych is recreating the moment he found his newest buy on the northern fringe of downtown Edmonton. He was picking up Chinese food in a rough part of town that had been neglected for decades, until Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz turned his attention to it for the team's new home.

"I was looking at all the cranes," Mr. Paranych, who's better known as a residential agent, says. "All of a sudden I see a commercial real estate sign on the corner." He points to a red, humble, six-unit apartment he secured for a $505,000 bargain.

Much attention has been paid to the arena, a $480-million private-public development between the city and the Katz Group, and the accompanying hotel, office and condo towers, movie theatre and shopping centre that together encompass the so-called Ice District currently valued at $2.5-billion. But among residential investors, it's all about the decades-old stock of multifamily units in and around Central McDougall, a neighbourhood where median household income is less than half the city average. "I've been sniffing around here for over a year," the born and raised Edmontonian and Oilers season ticket holder says.

Mr. Paranych isn't alone. Since the first mutterings of a downtown arena emerged in the late 2000s, Mainstreet Equity, a publicly traded Calgary-based company, has gobbled up at least 119 buildings totalling 3,683 units, according to the Calgary Herald. "People are snapping them up," Melanie Reuter, director of research at the Real Estate Investment Network (REIN), says.

REIN conducted a secondary analysis of international arenas' effects on property values. After controlling for "hot markets," Ms. Reuter says, the report found stadiums increased property values within one kilometre by 3 per cent to 15 per cent.

She predicts the impact in Edmonton will be on the higher end of the spectrum, with the help of a new LRT station between the arena and MacEwan University, which is in the midst of consolidating its three campuses downtown. "So now we have a perfect storm of fabulous things going on in the area," Ms. Reuter says. "We have been teaching REIN members that [these neighbourhoods] are places to invest [in] with great tenant management."

Housing north of the arena targets students and lower-income tenants, which couldn't be more opposite to what's arising south of it in the Ice District, a joint-venture between Katz Group and WAM Development Group. This fall, the Legends Private Residences, which began construction last year, will enter the market with some of the most luxurious condos Edmonton's ever seen. Sitting atop the city's second four-star hotel, the high-end of the 264 condos are expected to sell for $1,000 per square foot. By comparison, units in Fox Two, a tower that began construction two blocks south on a well-established, chic promenade, sell for about half that.

Ice District will also be home to Canada's largest skyscraper outside Toronto, Stantec Tower, developed for the international engineering firm by WAM, with another set of luxury condos or apartments above the offices.

Katz Group also purchased the Greyhound terminal, rumoured to become a residential tower once the bus depot's lease expires in May.

According to the City of Edmonton, there's another $2.5billion in construction in downtown Edmonton independent of the Ice District, which includes more upscale residences. But will people buy them up when oil hovers around $60 a barrel? As Ms. Reuter puts it: "The biggest effect on real estate values is jobs."

Perhaps signalling lacklustre sales, Toronto "Condo King" Brad Lamb's first foray into the Alberta capital, Jasper House, as well as the Orchard in Calgary, are enticing buyers with twoyear rental guarantees.

Others are confident they'll fare well because demand for luxury condos has been pent up and point to the city's growing economy, which saw a gain of 6,700 jobs in October compared with the province's total loss of 11,000 jobs that month.

One thing the recession has been good for is construction costs and labour. "This is exactly the right time for this kind of development because with the slower oil market we have the manpower and the equipment and material to undertake this project," John Rose, the City of Edmonton's chief economist, says.

"The additional residential units will provide a solid foundations for services and amenities," Mr. Rose adds. "And get rid of a few of those surface parking spots while we're at it!"

Real estate investors are eager to purchase these blights that have been synonymous with downtown Edmonton's sleepy reputation. But it might be a while before they're similarly staked with cranes. "We have some sites on the periphery," Jandip Deol, Colliers Canada's associate vice-president of multifamily, says. "We haven't had much traction on this site because no one wants to be in competition with the Katz Group."

He estimates 1,000 units on the horizon in the Ice District.

"Absorption on the sale of these units will be key. If you're north of the arena, you don't want to be in competition to these new units."

There's also uncertainty about the social effects of all this development. Can Edmonton's upper and lower classes dance cheek-to-cheek? "Having a mixed community in terms of socio-economics is a good thing," Mr. Rose says. "You don't want a downtown that is a ghetto for the poor, nor a playground for the rich."

The homeless drop-in centre and night shelter a block away recently purchased their buildings, so they're here to stay.

Others have worried about rent hikes in the area that is home to many social housing tenants and a large concentration of immigrants and aboriginals.

Rent in Edmonton is rising faster than in every major Canadian city but Calgary, according to a 2014 Colliers report. The monthly cost of a two-bedroom apartment has increased 75 per cent since 2007.

The city's operator and administrator of social housing, Capital Region Housing, hasn't seen any effect on rent that can be attributed to the arena. Both Colliers and REIN's representatives expect that will change once the Ice District is complete, but not drastically.

Mr. Paranych, who has one pending sale and three more offers in the area, says he's not planning on raising rents. His newly renamed property, Arena Apartments, remains one of the few places in downtown where you can get a one-bedroom for about $800 a month, even after he sunk $110,000 into renovations: a paint job, landscaping, a repaved parking lot with six added stalls - "and another executive parking stall, for me when I go to the Oilers games."

Associated Graphic

Edmonton's Ice District, which centres on the Edmonton Oilers' new arena, will include hotel, office and condo towers, a movie theatre and a shopping centre, and is valued at approximately $2.5-billion.

While some worry about rents rising in the area around the Ice District, real estate investor Terry Paranych plans to keep his Arena Apartments affordable. His perk is having a parking spot close to the rink for games.

'I just follow my desires'
Whether in photography or film, Nick Knight's fashion images are striking and forward thinking. Having just won the Isabella Blow Award, he talks about the industry's future
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, November 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L4

There are many awards handed out in the world of fashion, but perhaps none as revered as the Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator, which was presented this past week at the annual British Fashion Awards. Named for the eccentric and inimitable style icon who took her own life in 2007, the award honours visionaries who help push fashion forward.

On that front, British photographer Nick Knight defi nitely deserves the nod he received this year. Knight is known for his arresting fashion imagery and powerful take on unconventional beauty.

He's shot editorials for everyone from Yohji Yamamoto to Yves St. Laurent, and his album covers for Björk, Seal and Grace Jones are just as noteworthy. Beyond photography, Knight is famous for having directed music videos, including Born this Way for Lady Gaga and Bound 2 for Kanye West. But it's his innovative online fashion broadcasting company, SHOWstudio, founded 15 years ago, that has most fashion tongues wagging. The site features an array of live fashion media, including fi lms, which are his true passion. I spoke with the 57-year-old from London recently about the art of fashion, its newfound accessibility, and why it's entering its most exciting era.

The last time I spoke with you was at the McQueen show staged in honour of Isabella Blow, just after she had passed. You have worked hard to help keep her legacy alive. What was it about her that made you see the world in a different way?

That's a tough question to answer. The fact that she took risks, that she was a strong and courageous woman in many ways. She wouldn't care about what people would think, but would follow her emotions and follow her desires.

She was somebody who was incredibly articulate and also incredibly cultured.

I think that's a pretty powerful combination.

The way that you've celebrated diversity and unconventional beauty has been inspiring. Was that something that was always a driving factor for you?

I just follow my desires to be honest.

I'm drawn to people who I think are attractive and interesting. But I'm not purposely doing something that I think is different - I'm just doing what I want to do. There's no shortage of amazing people one would want to photograph, or work with, or spend time with.

Whether it's musicians, or actors, or whether it's people you see in the street, people are inherently fascinating. There is such a richness of people around and now with the Internet, we've got such a good system to see each other. Often how I fi nd people to work with is simply by going on Instagram.

Some feel that fashion has been watered down by all the information and social media coming at us.

I beg to differ. Now you've got a much more accessible, active, exciting, authentic fashion scene happening. I think fashion is a spontaneous art form that we all do. Everybody gets dressed in the morning on purpose. They wear the clothes that they wear because they're trying to say something about themselves, however great or small that desire is. But it's still in all of us. Now we have the ability to be able to see each other much more. I actually think that it's much better because it was such a narrow system before, and so clearly at odds with what people wanted. Hundreds of thousands of people might want to go to a fashion show, so why only let 300 people see it? When you can see the fashion shows live, designers can now actually talk straight to their audience. Why do they have to wait three months to see it in a magazine, or see an advertising campaign? You want it the moment you see it. My son, who's 18 now and is studying fashion merchandising at Parsons in Paris, actually can't believe that we used to have to wait three months after the fashion shows to be able to see anything that happened there.

I find your point of view incredibly refreshing, because there are a lot of people fretting over the future of fashion.

It's about to have it's biggest and most exciting period. It is so accessible now.

People can pick up their phone, and create an image, and distribute it globally. Before, you had to jump through certain hoops to get your work out there. But when you're working for art, you just want to touch your audience. And that's a much more healthy position for art. Of course, the middlemen get pushed out. But I think that's probably not a bad thing to be honest. I think having a direct relationship with your audience is much more rewarding and I think it's actually much closer to what artists want.

What you've done with your SHOWStudio site has been rather brilliant. When you fi rst started the site, did you have a big vision in mind or was this just a natural kind of evolution?

I knew exactly when I started it that I wanted to create a platform for fashion film much in the same way that Vogue a hundred years ago created a platform for fashion photography. I saw towards the end of the nineties that fashion film was very accessible, that a designer always created a garment to be seen in movement. So I've always thought that film is the best medium for showing fashion. It's a young medium.

It's been going 15 years now, so I don't expect to see it perfectly defined. I don't think anybody quite knows the parameters of fashion film. It will find itself over time, in the same way that fashion photography took about 50 years to define itself.

How does the future bode for theatrical fashion presentations? Some are going the way of the dinosaur, but when we think back to some of those brilliant spectacles that Lee McQueen staged in those early days... I think there are two different versions of the fashion show now. There's something that Gareth Pugh, for instance, would put on that would be a spectacle, like a piece of fashion theatre. Or, you go the way I've just gone with Tom Ford, and say, "Okay, I don't want to do a fashion show, I want to do a fashion film." Tom put out a fashion film and within the first day it had over a million hits. The second day, it had another million. I don't know if Tom would have had a million hits had he'd just done a conventional catwalk show.

There are still some designers who are embracing the spectacle of theatre. Burberry did it in an interesting way 'cause you can actually buy from the catwalk, and that's obviously where it's going to go. But I don't know how sustainable that is to be honest.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Associated Graphic

FASHION'S FLARE The photograph Suzie Smoking (pictured here) highlights how image maker Nick (below) focuses on the movement of models, clothing and props in his work.



Bracing for postviaduct aftershocks
With swaths of land about to open up, battles to ensure good development follows promise to be intense
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, November 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S1

VANCOUVER -- Building a freeway through a city has the impact of an earthquake. Neighbourhoods are changed forever, old landscapes and pathways through the city are destroyed, new ones are created.

As it turns out, the same thing happens when a city demolishes a freeway - or even part of one - as Vancouver is planning to do.

The city is preparing to take down the two 1.2-kilometre viaducts that convey vehicles smoothly off the eastern escarpment of the downtown peninsula, allowing them to fly across what used to be the mud flats and swampy end of False Creek, and then land on the higher ground of east Vancouver. The coming change has generated a lot of angst.

In the early years after the idea was first proposed in 2009, the anger was about traffic. Now, it's about what exactly will arise from this significant piece of land on the northeast shore of False Creek. City staff have estimated the new area could see 2.5 million square feet of development.

Based on recent developments in the area, that could mean as many as 3,500 new homes and 7,000 to 8,000 people, along with shops, cafés and other businesses.

Fern Jeffries, one of the most persistent critics of city and developer plans for the area, fears it will become another stuffed-tothe-gills swath of densely packed glass towers without the childcare spaces, community centre, library facilities and schools that the thousands of new residents will need.

"There's no social infrastructure, no community building, no education strategy, nothing that has been discussed that gives us confidence," said Ms. Jeffries. As a frequent spokeswoman for the False Creek Residents Association, she has watched the plans for the area evolve for years.

Her pessimistic view was echoed in an Insights West survey that found 71 per cent of people polled thought that taking the viaducts down would mostly benefit the landowning developers in the area - Concord Pacific being the major one - not the city's citizens. The poll of 547 residents has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.

Two Vancouver former senior planners say it's possible to overcome that public cynicism, but they say that will only happen if city politicians change the way they've been handling development in recent years.

They need to get the public involved from the beginning, be open about who's getting what, and encourage their staff to bargain hard.

Former chief planner Larry Beasley says people need to be invited to a major planning festival to generate ideas for the future neighbourhood. It also has to happen now, before the city, the province and Concord Pacific get too far down the road negotiating developer fees and provincial contributions.

"If you negotiate everything and then do the plan, that never works," he said.

Instead, having the public participate in a large planning charrette led by good designers will give all the negotiating teams strong direction on what to trade to get the things that people seem to want most.

Mr. Beasley also said there are many possibilities to create a different-looking neighbourhood - perhaps a series of small squares surrounded by low-rise buildings, like a European city; perhaps developments with more varied materials and heights to match nearby Chinatown and Strathcona - that will get people excited about this new addition to Vancouver.

Mr. Beasley also said the city will need to be completely open about the finances and trade-offs.

"In the old days, we would let the public be a part of defining what the negotiation was going to be about. That changed in recent years. It was more behind closed doors."

One of the planners who was Mr. Beasley's right-hand man during negotiations with Concord Pacific in the 1990s says the city has to demonstrate it can be a tough bargainer - and it hasn't been doing that recently.

Ralph Segal believes the viaducts should come down. When Mr. Segal was working on the 2009 plan for the area, everyone was stymied in trying to do anything creative because of the barrier those elevated roads created.

Having open land to design a new community creates many possibilities, he said. Among them is a significant chunk of housing that's affordable, since some of the land belongs to the city.

"Yes, there will be a whole bunch of condos, 40 to 50 per cent, for the obscenely rich. But if the city negotiators have the mandate to negotiate properly, 30 to 40 per cent will be affordable."

Mr. Segal noted though that city staff will need to be empowered to drive a hard bargain, the way they were in the '90s and beginning of the 2000s. That's when the city got a new seawall, parks, childcare centres, school sites, community-centre sites and much more from the developers building on old downtown industrial land at Coal Harbour and False Creek.

Mr. Segal said it's not a given that city staff will have the backing to do that again. "I can't predict whether Vision and Vancouver and the people who are left there to negotiate aren't going to give up the ballpark to Concord."

The key to what city residents will really get out of this area will be decided in the next 18 months, as a city team, Concord executives, and provincial staff negotiate over who is going to pay what and who is going to get what.

The negotiation is more complicated than it has been for any other piece of land around False Creek for several reasons. One is that the city has some land, but not complete control, as it did with the Olympic village lands on the southeast shore of False Creek.

Second, Concord won't just be getting extra density in the new opened-up area. It will also benefit from having the viaducts come down by being able to sell the same condo for more money, once it's overlooking a park instead of an elevated highway.

That will have to be part of the financial calculation.

A third factor is that the province, as a result of the sales agreement signed more than a quarter of a century ago, will be getting money from Concord once it goes past the 12-million-square-foot mark with its developments. That is approaching. The city's team will be working to convince the province that some or all of that money should go back into the new neighbourhood for the amenities that will make it livable.

"We have an extremely complex negotiation coming between the province, Concord and the city," says Councillor Geoff Meggs, who has been the main champion of the viaducts removal. "The public needs to have a high degree of confidence that they're going to get the benefits."

Associated Graphic

Retired planner Larry Beasley and Fern Jeffries of the False Creek Residents Association visit the viaducts on Thursday.


When talks were on taking down the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts, concerns were about traffic. Now, the focus is on how best to use the land the roads occupy.


And some ostentacious splurges. Plus, a stylish vintage with a secret
Saturday, November 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L13 @Beppi_Crosariol

Fair warning: The prices of a few bottles below will insult most rational people; discretion and an appreciation for absurdity are advised.

Readers tend to write in asking for lavish holiday suggestions, so I'm obliging with a few of the best reds I sampled in recent weeks.

But as a man of fi nite means I take heart that some of the vaunted three-digit bottles that crossed my lips were far short of memorable. In fact, they were laughably overpriced when compared with a liquid only slightly more expensive in dollar-per-ounce terms, molten silver.

It's why I'm leading the selections below with three outstanding and relatively moderate whites from New Zealand (released only in Ontario, alas): Cloudy Bay chardonnay, Spy Valley Envoy sauvignon blanc and Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels chardonnay. They're comparable to French whites from Burgundy and the Loire valued at much more, elegant and subtle rather than heavy and obvious. Then I'm going to feature a fi ne $34 red from Bordeaux called L'Expression de Margaux, which most trophy hunters would quickly overlook. It's hiding a wonderful little secret. Just promise not to tell anybody about it?

Trinity Hill Gimblett Gravels Chardonnay 2013 (New Zealand) SCORE: 94 PRICE: $33.95

Trinity Hill crafts arresting wines with great structure, earning a reputation that caught the attention of one of the wine world's smartest investors. The estate's new co-owner is an American named Charles Banks, best known to collectors as the former co-owner (with megabillionaire Stanley Kroenke) of California's greatest cult wine, Screaming Eagle. Trinity Hill's syrahs are sublime, and so is this Meursault-styled chardonnay. Mediumfull-bodied, it displays seductive flesh without tiring weight. Luscious grilled pineapple and peach-like fruit mingle with suggestions of smooth vanilla and roasted cashew. The oak - imparted by 500-litre puncheons over 12 months - is beautifully integrated, standing back far enough to share the stage with zippy herbs and minerals.

Spy Valley Envoy Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (New Zealand) SCORE: 93 PRICE: $29.95

This is not your typical New Zealand sauvignon blanc, with that sassy, brassy blast of grass and tropical fruit. Oh, no. This is something more subtle but also, in a way, more daring. Unlike the vast majority of sauvignon blancs, which rely on refrigerated steel tanks to preserve vibrancy, it opts for an old-school approach. Fermented in oak barrels for a softer, mellower profile, it strikes gold. The texture is creamy, seamless and luscious for an otherwise crisp white, carrying loads of tangy fruit complemented by lively herbs and heady smoke. Great wine from an excellent winery.

Cloudy Bay Chardonnay 2012 (New Zealand) SCORE: 92 PRICE: $35.95

Cloudy Bay is New Zealand's most famous wine brand, well-supported for 12 years by the deep pockets of Frenchbased luxury conglomerate LVMH, which makes Veuve Clicquot Champagne, among other things. It's best known for its sauvignon blanc, a white instrumental in putting the country's industry on the map decades ago, but there are other fine offerings in the mix. The 2012 chardonnay is deftly balanced and complex, with plump pineapple and peaches and cream framed by tangy acidity, one of its better efforts in recent years.

L'Expression de Margaux 2010 (France) SCORE: 92 PRICE: $33.95

Shhhh. This excellent red made from a special vineyard has been sworn to secrecy. The label is not permitted to divulge where the wine was made because the château presumably doesn't want the world rushing to buy this factory outlet-mall version at a fraction of the normal price. But let's scan the clues. The back label reads: "Vinified by a famous estate of the appellation." That appellation would be Margaux, one of Bordeaux's best neighbourhoods. L'Expression de Margaux happens to be a brand marketed by a company called Ulysse Cazabonne, based in Margaux and owned by the luxury fashion house Chanel. Guess which famous Margaux estate Chanel also owns? Château Rauzan-Ségla, an elite "secondgrowth" property on Bordeaux's Left Bank, producer of one of France's most sought-after reds, whose 2010 vintage sells for about $200.

Before young vines have reached the advanced maturity demanded by elite châteaux, grapes tend to be either sold generically to outside buyers or vinified at the estate and bottled as secondary wines (think of Prada's Miu Miu). This one falls somewhere in between - a baby château wine without the château's explicit identity.

Full-bodied and brimming with intense currant-like fruit along with sweet tannins, spicy oak and classic Margaux-style pencil shavings, this is a cellar bargain, approachable now but worth cellaring for up to a decade.

Ornellaia 2012 (Italy) SCORE: 96 PRICE: $195.95

My favourite of the super Tuscan parade so far this year, Ornellaia's 2012 is, in keeping with the great winery's house style, firm and built for the cellar rather than for impatient collectors. There's a thick essence of cassis and dark chocolate here as well as background notes of earthy mushroom and spice, all pulled in tight by dense, astringent tannins. Open it now with rare steak or let it improve with up to 25 years in a good, cool cellar. $174.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $195.25 in Quebec.

Joseph Phelps Insignia 2012 (California) SCORE: 96 PRICE: $299.95

A celebrated Bordeaux-inspired Napa red blend, Insignia delivered the goods in 2012, led by intense cassis- and plum-like fruit set against firm tannins, black tea and spices. A treat now, it would benefit from a decade or two in the cellar. Worth the money?

If you have to ask, you probably have your answer. $318.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta.

Masi Serego Alighieri Vaio Armaron Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2008 (Italy) SCORE: 95 PRICE: $69.95

Priced at roughly $85 (U.S.) in the United States, this 2008 vintage of a star Italian red just ranked No. 8 on influential American magazine Wine Spectator's top-100 list of 2015. Big, at 15.5-per-cent alcohol, it's rich but impressively nimble for its size, with smooth chocolate, plum, tobacco and baking-spice notes hugged by tannins and warmth. Various prices in Alberta.

Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2013 (France) SCORE: 94 PRICE: $89.95

The most prominent name in the southern Rhone Valley's Châteauneufdu-Pape appellation has been wearing a fresher face in recent years. Past vintages have been noted for a funky, earthy profile, but this 2013 is relatively fresh and elegant. It tastes lighter than its stated 14.5-per-cent alcohol, with sweet cherry jam set against fresh acidity and notes of lavender, thyme and licorice. Available in Ontario.

Barossa Valley Estate E&E Black Pepper Shiraz 2008 (Australia) SCORE: 94 PRICE: $89.95

A certifiable Aussie cult label, E&E Black Pepper managed great balance for its big weight in 2008, with a sweet core of jammy plum answered by peppery spice, licorice and soothing eucalyptus. $78.99 in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $89.98 in Newfoundland.

Acrimonious clash between strong-willed Russian and Turkish leaders has potential to drag NATO alliance into greater confrontation with Moscow while seeming certain to inflame Syria's civil war
Wednesday, November 25, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A1

LONDON -- They have been, for several years now, the bad boys on the eastern fringes of Europe.

Two leaders with little time for Western concepts of democracy, two strongmen with foreign policies coloured by dreams of empires lost.

Now - after a Russian warplane was shot down Tuesday after allegedly crossing into Turkish airspace while carrying out a bombing mission in Syria - Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stand nose to nose, snarling, each counting on the other to blink first.

It's an incredibly dangerous standoff, one that seems certain to increasingly inflame Syria's civil war and to push any hope of peace further into the distance. As the most serious clash between a NATO ally and the Russian military since the Korean War, it also has the potential to drag the NATO alliance into greater confrontation with Russia. (At an emergency meeting called by Turkey after the downing of the Russian plane, NATO ambassadors asked Turkey to show "cool-headedness" and avoid escalation.)

Until Tuesday, Mr. Putin and Mr. Erdogan seemed to see kindred spirits in the other. They've met or spoken dozens of times over the decade-plus that each man has dominated their countries' politics, emphasizing every time the growing friendship between their two states. They know - and seemed to like - each other as well as any two leaders on the international stage.

Mr. Putin's initial response to Tuesday's incident was dripping with a sense of betrayal. "Today's loss is a stab in our back delivered by the accomplices of terrorists. I cannot find another wording for what happened today," he said during a meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan.

"Our plane and our pilots were in no way a threat to the Turkish Republic in any way. This is obvious," Mr. Putin went on.

Photos and video published by Turkish media showed the Russian Su-24 warplane with flames coming from one of its engines hurtling toward a forested mountain - apparently Turkmen Mountain in Syria's northwestern province of Latakia - while two white shapes that appeared to be parachutes floated through the clear blue sky.

Syrian rebels later posted video of a dead Russian pilot, badly bloodied, as well as a separate video that appeared to show the destruction of a Russian helicopter sent to rescue the two pilots.

The fate of the pilots remained unclear.

In a 15-page submission to the United Nations Security Council, of which Russia is a permanent member, Turkey said two planes had approached Turkish airspace on Tuesday morning and were warned 10 times in five minutes to change direction. It said one of the planes left Turkish airspace and the other one was fired at by Turkish F-16s.

"Today's tragic event will have significant consequences for Russian-Turkish relations," Mr. Putin warned.

The extent of those consequences - and how Turkey might respond - is what's rattling nerves across the Western Hemisphere.

The first blows will be economic: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov cancelled his scheduled visit to Ankara on Wednesday and told Russian tourists, who account for 12 per cent of all visits to Turkey, that they should also avoid the country.

There were changes in military posture, too. Russia's Defence Ministry announced Tuesday that all military-to-military contacts with Turkey would be frozen. The missile cruiser Moskva was being redeployed to the Latakia coast in the wake of the incident, the Russian military said, and fighter planes would now escort Russian ground-attack aircraft on all missions over Syria.

But the real test of the relationship will be in the routes those Russian warplanes take from now on. Turkey - worried by the gains that the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have made since Russia started providing air support in September - has been calling for a no-fly zone in northern Syria for some time now.

It's the two leaders themselves who make Tuesday's incident so combustible. Both have a long track record of escalating conflicts, and counting on their opponents to back down - or crushing them when they don't.

Over his 15 years in power as Russia's President or prime minister, Mr. Putin has smashed Chechnya's separatist movement, invaded tiny Georgia to make a point, seized the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine to make another one, and crushed his domestic opposition. He has openly mourned the fall of the Soviet Union and made an ideology out of defending ethnic Russians wherever they live.

In his 12 years as Turkey's President or prime minister, Mr. Erdogan has bombed Iraq's Kurds, then his own Kurds and now Syria's Kurds. He has used deadly force to crush protests, and curbed Turkey's once-vibrant media. He has played with fire throughout Syria's war, allowing rebel groups of all stripes (including jihadis who grew into the socalled Islamic State) to use Turkish territory as a rear base against the Assad regime.

As often as Mr. Putin is accused of nostalgia for the USSR's domination of its neighbours, Mr. Erdogan is accused of seeking to restore the Ottoman Empire's lost influence in parts of the Middle East.

Though the two leaders have disagreed, vehemently at times, over issues ranging from Chechnya to Syria to Ukraine, Mr. Putin and Mr. Erdogan had remained close partners, expanding their countries' economic relationship even as the West ratcheted up sanctions against Russia over Ukraine.

When the European Union pressured member state Bulgaria to cancel a planned Russian gas pipeline across its territory, Turkey stepped into the void and offered to act as a transit state for Russian energy. When Mr. Putin travelled to Ankara on a state visit last year, he was met at the airport by Mr. Erdogan and their motorcade was escorted by a liveried horse guard through the city to Mr. Erdogan's newly built presidential palace. A modern sultan receiving today's czar.

Ironically, it is their similarities that have brought their countries close to conflict: Mr. Putin's attachment to an old Soviet ally, the Assad dynasty, is at odds with Mr. Erdogan's dreams of restored Turkish hegemony over the region.

The loss of a fighter jet is not likely to affect Mr. Putin's determination to preserve at least the remnants of Mr. al-Assad's regime. "We will never tolerate such crimes like the one committed today," Mr. Putin snarled Tuesday.

Nor, having delivered a rough message to his erstwhile friend, is Mr. Erdogan likely to back down now from his drive to remake Turkey's neighbourhood.

World leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama and French President François Hollande on Tuesday were urging Moscow and Ankara to let cooler heads prevail.

But there's little in the track records of either Mr. Putin or Mr. Erdogan to suggest that it would be wise to bet on caution prevailing.

Follow me on Twitter: @markmackinnon

Associated Graphic

A still image from video footage shows a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 fighter jet leaving a flaming trail after being hit by hostile fire near the Turkish-Syrian border on Tuesday.



Toronto passes Vancouver as focus of Chinese investors
With a surfeit of condo supply coming on stream and agreeable amenities, Hogtown now enjoying more higher-priced buyer interest
Friday, November 27, 2015 – Print Edition, Page G6

During a recent visit to New York, Simon Henry chatted with a real estate broker who was trying to negotiate the sale of a Manhattan apartment to a wealthy buyer from China. The seller refused to drop below $5.2-million (U.S.) and the buyer was equally adamant that he wouldn't go above $5-million.

The frustrated broker couldn't understand why the buyer was being so intractable. The Chinese businessman explained that he was buying the apartment for his daughter to live in while she attended school and he insisted on strictly adhering to the budget he had set.

"Anything over $5-million, I'm afraid it will go to her head," he said.

As the co-founder of the Shanghai-based real estate portal, it's the type of anecdote that Mr. Henry hears often. In recent months, his firm has had six clients with budgets of more than $100-million.

Properties in Canadian cities don't command New York prices but Canada is definitely rising in the ranks, Mr. Henry says. crunched its latest numbers for The Globe and found that, within Canada, Chinese buyers of sumptuous properties have shifted their preference toward Toronto and away from Vancouver.

The average price for property viewed by Chinese property hunters in Toronto has increased over the past two years as the average price in Vancouver has declined, according to The two cities have switched roles, with Toronto now attracting a higher-priced buyer mix than Vancouver.

In five of the past six months,'s users have searched for a higher average price in Toronto than in Vancouver.

In October, for example, the average search price in Toronto was $1,963,278, compared with $1,268,194 in Vancouver. In October of 2014, the average search price in Toronto was $1,582,300 and, in Vancouver, $1,840,999.

"This doesn't mean Vancouver will never see another highpriced Chinese buyer again.

They are still very active there," Mr. Henry says. "It just means the momentum is shifting to Toronto at the top end of the market." is a real estate portal that serves Chinese-language speakers in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan who are looking to purchase property abroad.

If the trend continues, Mr. Henry says, Toronto may have less reason to fear a real estate correction than the housing bears suggest.

Canada is now the third most popular country for Chinese buyers after the United States and Australia, says.

With gaining popularity, Canada has now surpassed Britain, which has slipped to fourth place.

Mr. Henry says international buyers have helped vacuum up a huge supply of new construction in Canadian cities - and especially in Toronto. "The amount of supply is being added a lot faster in Toronto."

He adds that many of the units being built in this city are in lofty price segments.

His firm's clients are not just buying in the luxury segment but in all price ranges, Mr. Henry says. There are still plenty of families buying a $300,000 condo unit for a student to live in while studying at the University of Toronto, for example.

He thinks the buyers veering toward Toronto are drawn by the huge amount of new construction and prices that are lower than Vancouver's. Both cities are welcoming to those who speak Chinese languages.

"Canada is such a unique country because it has two cities - both with exceptionally large Chinese immigrant communities."

Jimmy Molloy, an agent with Chestnut Park Real Estate Ltd. in Toronto, says the city's restaurants, arts scene and educational institutions are all attractive to overseas buyers. "You have all of those things that make a city interesting."

He also believes Toronto offers more choice for foreign students who are looking to study in Canada. "The private schools have developed a reputation that is global."

Mr. Molloy has worked with clients from China and Hong Kong in the past and also partnered with agents who speak Asian languages.

"If you're coming from mainland China, we're damned glad you're here," he says. "People are throwing around huge amounts of money. The world is paying attention."

He would like to see the city's infrastructure improve to keep up with the demand.

Mr. Molloy says the Bridle Path and suburban neighbourhoods were popular with buyers from China in the past, but now many are expanding their searches to Forest Hill and Rosedale in order to be close to the schools in those areas. But even within traditional neighbourhoods, many of the buyers prefer new houses and condos.

Rosedale's homes are protected by heritage conservation rules, he notes, but there is lots of new construction in Forest Hill. "They certainly appreciate new construction, without question," he says.

In the 1990s, the majority of Chinese-language immigrants came from Hong Kong, Mr. Henry says, while today they come mostly from mainland China.'s clients buy overseas property for four main reasons: investment, immigration, education and lifestyle. Many buyers purchase in areas where their immigrant community already has a base.

"You don't really need to look any farther than Richmond, B.C. to see that," he says.

Mr. Henry adds that many of the most well-heeled buyers are looking for so-called trophy homes. One spread in France in the $100-million range comes with its own gallery of fine art.

The clients are very much interested in return on investment, he adds, but unlike Japanese buyers in the 1980s - who often made speculative purchases for a quick profit - these buyers see their time horizons stretching 20 or 25 years to the next generation.'s users aren't worried about a potential bubble in Canada's housing prices, he adds, but they are very savvy about how various countries' real estate markets stack up.

His firm has created an app for smartphone and tablet that allows potential buyers to see the value they would get in Sydney, New York and Toronto, for example. The app has been downloaded 2.5 million times, he says.

"They're incredibly savvy property buyers - even more than locals - because they do so much research," he says.

And while some observers worry that foreign buying is driving up prices in Vancouver and Toronto to unsustainable levels, Mr. Henry cites an Australian study that found the opposite.

The results of the study show demand from foreign buyers adds supply to the market and that additional supply helps to moderate prices. Internationally, he says, foreign buyers represent only five to 10 per cent of local property markets, on average.

In Toronto, supply is definitely coming online fast over the next 12 to 18 months, Mr. Henry says, pointing to all of the new condo towers slated for completion.

As a result, he predicts that double digit year-over-year price growth in the Toronto market will slow to price increases of somewhere between two and 10 per cent.

Associated Graphic

Simon Henry, co-founder of, says if Chinese interest in Toronto real estate continues, there may be less reason to fear a correction.


Vigilante violence grips Israelis, Palestinians
Since Oct. 1, scores have been injured or killed in assaults by security forces and civilians - with one attacker just 11 years old
Saturday, November 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A20

'Two female terrorists armed with scissors stabbed a man next to the market," a sombre police spokeswoman, Luba Samri, announced to reporters on Monday. "An officer who observed the event approached, fired accurately and neutralized the terrorists."

The calculated official statement was correct, but it barely scratched the surface of the story of hysteria and vigilante violence that grips Israelis and Palestinians these days.

From Oct. 1 to Nov. 27, 19 Jewish Israelis, a visiting U.S. Jew and an Arab from the West Bank have been killed by Palestinian assailants; most died by knife or gunshot wounds. Other attacks, many by driving an automobile into people, left scores injured.

Most of the perpetrators acted alone or with one or two others.

During that same time, 93 Palestinians have been killed, some in clashes with security forces, but about 60 being shot by Israeli citizens - police and civilians - during, after or in anticipation of attacks. One Eritrean migrant was beaten to death by an Israeli mob that mistook him for an attacker.

Monday's "two female terrorists" were cousins from the Qalandia refugee camp, north of Jerusalem: 14-year-old Hadil Awad and 16-year-old Nurhan Awad.

Closed-circuit television cameras showed the teens, dressed in dark knee-length school uniforms and wearing white head scarves, as they prowled the streets near a popular Jewish market, nervously seeking a victim.

They settled on a 70-year-old man and thrust their scissors at his shoulder and neck, barely penetrating the surface and leaving only "light injuries," police said. It turned out the man was a Palestinian from Bethlehem who had come to shop, not the Israeli the girls took him to be.

Running away, the young attackers found themselves face to face with an Israeli man, who retreated and drew a revolver as the younger teen approached him, striking a threatening pose and holding her scissors headhigh.

Another Israeli man in a dark T-shirt ran onto the sidewalk from the road. The man, later identified as a policeman, also wielded a revolver. He fired what appeared to be a single shot at the 16-year-old, who fell to the ground, and he then turned to the more threatening 14-year-old, who was still face to face with the first Israeli.

The officer shot at the assailant's chest and she fell back. He continued to fire - a total of four shots, it appeared - even after she lay on the ground. He returned to the older girl, lying inert, and fired another shot at her before holstering his weapon.

Hadil, the 14-year-old, was pronounced dead at the scene. Nurhan was taken to hospital in critical condition.

It's unclear what drove these young women, both excellent students with no record of violence, to carry out such an attack - although Hadil lost an older brother two years ago when he was shot by Israeli forces during a protest near the family's home.

They are part of an unusual wave of Palestinian individuals - undirected by militant groups such as Hamas or Fatah - and, as such, they are much harder to stop.

The assailants have included women, children as young as 11 and older men - the most unlikely of terrorists. They have struck in and around Jerusalem's Old City, but also in Tel Aviv and its suburbs. They have assaulted Israelis in small towns and throughout the West Bank.

While some wielded firearms, most used kitchen knives, hammers, screwdrivers, even their own cars.

The government tried deploying more security forces, and it tried cutting the number of West Bank checkpoints to reduce points of friction. Nothing worked.

Fed up with the endless attacks, members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's governing coalition have called for a kind of "Defensive Shield 2," a reference to the Israeli action taken in 2002 during the violent second intifada in which Israel Defence Forces (IDF) troops and tanks took over major Palestinian cities to root out terrorism.

Mr. Netanyahu reminded Israelis that today it's a different situation, in which there is no terrorist command centre to besiege.

However, he does blame what he calls "incitement" coming from leading Palestinians who accuse Israel of wanting to destroy the Muslim Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque that sit atop what Palestinians call the Haram al-Sharif and which Jews know as the Temple Mount.

It is also hard to justify the violence meted out by Israelis who increasingly take the law into their own hands.

In mid-October, after failing to end the many assaults through conventional means, Mr. Netanyahu called on Israelis who are licensed to own weapons to take them into the street and to be prepared to use them to defend themselves. "The responsible civilian population - in the framework of the rule of law - has a part to play" in defence, the Prime Minister's spokesman said.

The call to arms is said to have saved many Israeli lives, but a lot more Palestinians perished by what some human-rights organizations describe as a licence to kill.

Perhaps, but a recent survey by the Israel Democracy Institute found that 53 per cent of Israelis support extrajudicial killing of alleged Palestinian attackers on the spot, even when they "no longer pose a threat." Israelis consider these assaults as much terrorism as actions conducted by Islamic State militants.

On Monday, at the end of five days of assaults that saw six Israelis killed, a determined Mr. Netanyahu stood at the West Bank's Gush Etzion Junction, the site of several deadly incidents, and ordered a sharp increase in security sweeps and arrests.

"There is no restriction on the actions of the IDF and the security forces," he declared. "We are entering into [Palestinian] villages, communities and homes and are carrying out widespread arrests."

Reversing his previous position on minimizing checkpoints in the Palestinian territories, he said the army will be "checking every Palestinian vehicle on the main roads," including "the routes leading to the main roads."

As well, the government brought in legislation to declare even 12-year-olds liable to prosecution as terrorists and outlawed the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, an Israeli Muslim organization viewed as inciting followers to violence.

The commanders of Israel's security forces in the West Bank discouraged both moves.

Authorities have the power to demolish homes of the families of any Palestinian attacker, and have extended their power to bar all members of an assailant's extended family from entering Israel and from receiving work permits.

"These people already feel they have nothing to hope for," said Uri Dromi, the former spokesman for prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres. "You must be tough against the violence," he acknowledged, recalling his boss's practices. "But you must also offer them something positive to cling to."

Associated Graphic

Israeli security forces stand at the site where a Palestinian man rammed his car into Israeli soldiers at a bus station near a Jewish settlement in the West Bank on Friday. It is one of many attacks in which civilians on both sides have used cars, scissors and knives to inflict injury.


The Christmas tree debate used to focus on whether to go real or faux. But, as Lisa Mesbur learns, today's creative - and small-space-friendly - approach to holiday decor offers many more inspiring options, none of which will shed a single needle
Friday, November 20, 2015 – Print Edition, Page P52


Growing up in Toronto, one of my favourite December rituals was attending a swanky party thrown by my parents' close friends, a glamorous Italian couple whose elaborate holiday decor featured a lush, towering fir tree that dominated their candlelit living room. Swathed with ivory satin ribbons, tiny fairy lights and glitter-dusted doves, I thought their Christmas tree was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen; awe-inspiring, dazzling, and, as a secular Jewish kid, totally, depressingly out of reach.

Fast-forward thirty years and I'm happy to report that for those of us without tradition and history on our side, the design world has gifted us with a surprisingly satisfying holiday trend: the creative Christmas tree alternative. Of course, holiday tree stand-ins have been on the market for years (Hanukkah bush, anyone?), but the latest iterations feel both accessible and genuinely new, designed to breathe life and style into the most old-fashioned of holidays.

While some traditionalists might balk at the idea of switching out the floor-to-ceiling needle shedder for something a little different, even the most hardcore tree lovers have to acknowledge that opting for an alternative does have some practical advantages. For one thing, the mess and hassle of a full-size tree can be less than festive, especially given that an increasing number of Canadians are living in smaller spaces than ever before.

"With any place that's got a smaller footprint, you really need to be looking at other ideas," says Reisa Pollard, the designer and owner of Beyond Beige Interior Design in Vancouver. "People are only going to be so willing to reconfigure their entire furniture layout [to accommodate a tree]." Pollard's suggestion: Rather than squeeze a traditional evergreen into cramped living quarters, opt for two dimensional or off-the-floor designs that create a festive focal point while capitalizing on space. Think artfully doodled chalkboard silhouettes, textile wall hangings or suspended ornaments with subtle shimmer. "They're equally inviting and carry the same sentiment," says Pollard.

Another advantage to this strategy is that it's easy to spread your design ideas across multiple living spaces. "You can do something different in the kitchen, the family room," says Toronto designer Evelyn Eshun. "For kids' rooms, wouldn't it be fun to have something where they could participate and 'grow' their own trees, whether it was using cards, toys or stuff they already have?"

And in our authenticity-conscious era, a tree alternative is the perfect vehicle for expressing personal style during the holiday season. From Eshun's perspective, the festive season provides an opportunity to decorate in a way that truly reflects our diverse tastes and lifestyles. "You want to walk into your house, exhale and feel great, and that space has to express you," Eshun says. "The holiday season is no different. You can really be open-minded with what you do."

Immediately, I begin to contemplate the creative possibilities. Fans of all things quirky and vintage could source a weathered-wood ladder to string with retro glass ornaments. The more nostalgic could showcase a wall-mounted collection of antique trinkets and photographs collected from the flea market or a sweet, tree-shaped assortment of postcards and drawings. "I had clients who were big sailors, so they had a large-size reproduction of a sailboat on their dining table done up with greenery and lights," recalls Pollard. "That was their passion, and it was a really cute way for them to celebrate."

But even if you get creative with the form of a tree, is it possible to separate out its deeper meaning? After all, the Christmas tree's history and raison d'être are unavoidably religious - during the winter solstice, pagans believed its verdant branches were a sign of hope for the coming spring, while Christians saw its triangular shape as a symbol of their holy trinity pointing toward heaven - the very reason my family never succumbed to its sparkling allure.

As Eshun sees it, there's room today for people of all backgrounds and cultures to enjoy festive decor and the feel-good sentiment behind the holidays without going the full coniferous route. "You know, we're a multicultural society," she says. "I think the whole tradition of Christmas is changing, and we're able to be a bit more open-minded in terms of how we express that. Festive is the key word. It's about colour, sparkle and light."

* * * * * * * * * *


A can of chalkboard paint can turn a feature wall in a low-traffic area into the perfect spot for a contemporary hand-drawn tree. If you don't trust your own artistic acumen, hire an illustrator to create a motif that incorporates your style and colour scheme. RO chair by Jaime Hayon, $4,307 at Torp Inc. ( Marbleized side tables by Deborah Moss, $3,750 to $4,220 at Avenue Road ( Wrapping paper, price on request at The Paper Place ( Ribbon, price on request at Mokuba ( Tree Art by Matt Davey (

* * * * * * * * * *


Juxtapose traditional decor with an off-the-wall collage of found items and vintage treasures. Mask out the silhouette of the tree to ensure symmetry and vary the scale and shape of the knick-knacks to create a sense of balance and whimsy among the objects. Tufted velvet sofa, $7,499, lucite side table, $2,299 at The Art Shoppe ( Coral velvet pillow by Kevin O'Brien Studio, $445, mauve fauxhair pillow, $175, fuchsia silk pillow, $125 at Elte ( Jade-top lucite accent table, $1,650 at Ribbehege & Azevedo ( Wrapping paper, price on request at The Paper Place ( Ribbon, price on request at Mokuba (

* * * * * * * * * *


Leave ample space for a hearty spread by suspending a conical galaxy of stars over a holiday table. Start at the top and hang bent wire shapes from the ceiling using fishing line, expanding out in concentric circles with increasingly longer lengths of line as the tree descends to just above eye level. Ramsey side chair, $545 at Elte ( Dining table, $3,998 at The Art Shoppe ( Wrapping paper, price on request at The Paper Place ( Ribbon, price on request at Mokuba (

* * * * * * * * * *


For a more industrial feeling, search out a reclaimed wooden ladder at a local vintage furniture shop and string it with retro lights or micro LEDs. Finish it off with colourful ornaments in a variety of shapes and presents stacked up the ladder's steps. Antique ladder, $85 at Mrs. Huizenga ( Antique and vintage ornaments provided by Clembrook Farms ( LED string lights provided by Canadian Tire ( Wrapping paper, price on request at The Paper Place ( Ribbon, price on request at Mokuba ( Artist canvases provided by Curry's (

Associated Graphic


Hot house bling
Architect Jonathan Kearns updates his Forest Hill home* (*Yes, it's the home where Drake 'Started from the bottom')
Special to The Globe and Mail
Friday, November 20, 2015 – Print Edition, Page G7

Next time you drive along Adelaide Street East and gaze at the student chefs in their whites beavering away at the stainless-steel cook stations at George Brown College's Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts, look at the upper storeys and enjoy the playful Mondrianesque colour-blocking enlivening the façade.

The centre's designer, Jonathan Kearns of Toronto's Kearns Mancini Architects, known for the Fort York Interpretive Centre and Ireland Park (near Billy Bishop airport), used those same blocks of colour to personalize his own house in Toronto's Forest Hill neighbourhood. Here, the vehicle was Vitrolite, a sleek, hard and lustrous coloured structural glass ubiquitous in Art Deco storefronts and early Toronto subway stations. It was last manufactured in North America in 1947.

"I have a big stash of it that I found 30 years ago in a buildingsupply yard," Mr. Kearns says.

"They had a few pieces out on the counter. I asked if they had any more and the owner said, 'I have 10 crates.' I said 'How much do you want for the whole lot?' " "I tell you, he values it more than my life," says Mr. Kearns' partner , Corrine Spiegel , a wealth adviser. "I don't even get to touch the stash. I might break one."

"It does break easily; it's brittle," Mr. Kearns says.

He used the material for his own home's front door; pieces in red and yellow combine to "paint colours in front of the house in a nice way," he says.

"When I saw this door delivered, tears came to my eyes," Ms. Spiegel says. "I found this to be the most beautiful door I've ever seen. I was just in awe."

The couple occupy the upper two storeys of the three-unit house, with the ground floor and basements functioning as independent suites. It was here, for six years, that the young Aubrey Drake Graham grew up, renting the space with his family. The singer-songwriter, now known simply as Drake, included the old lower-level living space in his video Started from the bottom, Now I'm Here. "We refer to it as Drake's basement," Mr. Kearns says. "Our boys living there now get a kick out of it."

Back when Mr. Kearns bought the home, the steep entry sequence to the basement units made a bad first impression.

"The real estate agent thought we wouldn't like this house. You went down these beige-carpeted stairs with four winders, it wasn't even legal. An inch in front of the bottom step was the actual door to the suite. It was very awkward," Mr. Kearns says. (The building code permits two winders - or 90-degree turns - per staircase.)

"Then there was a horrible little vestibule that was stuccoed on the outside. That was the entrance to both units. So you'd come in through the front door and you'd trip over the downstair's tenant's shoes. I hated that: Drake's smelly boots.

"The front door looked like a back door and undervalued the house. So we pledged that we would demolish that entrance and make separate entrances at the earliest opportunity. Now, everyone who comes in says, 'Wow, it's really big in here.' " The alterations continued on the upper floors.

Gradually, as their kids grew up and some moved out (they have five), they would knock down walls in the upper floors and demolish the small, awkward existing bedrooms. "The children refer to these floors as The Museum," Mr. Kearns says, "meaning, they can't make it untidy." The alterations didn't add to the total floor area of 5,800 square feet, but increased the quality and convenience of the space.

Under the roof gable on the top floor, a screen combining buttjoined pieces of Vitrolite, clear glass and translucent film gives a view from the master suite of the street outside and the oak tree in the front yard. Mr. Kearns points to a back-painted, fire-orange segment. "I made this one myself with Chrysler car paint. I didn't have a red and I wanted a red."

The staircase down to the first floor provides plenty of wow factor. To enable the stairs to change course while avoiding awkwardlooking corners, Kearns pulled the edge of the stairs away slightly from the wall as it descends and wrapped the living room's dark oak flooring down the face of the stair wall. "It makes the floor and the wall feel like a big block of wood."

To dodge a clumsy connection between walls with window openings and the bulkhead above the stair opening, he stepped the bulkhead forward in what he calls a "notch up," which makes the bulkhead appear to float. "Then you can read this thing like a separate element. It doesn't obfuscate the forms."

Home decorators take note: "I never change colour on an outside corner. I always paint the colour in to the inside corner.

We've got white, light grey and mid-grey [along the stairs] and they all intersect nicely."

The sensuously curving stainless-steel stair rail, easy to grab throughout its rise, fits its container perfectly. "We swapped shop drawings six times before making it."

Not just nice, but noteworthy: The focal point of the living room is the fireplace and its eight-and-a-half-foot expanse of split-faced and honed Irish limestone, subtly patterned with fossilized prehistoric oysters and sea sponges. This is probably the first domestic use of the black rock in Canada (it abounds at Ireland Park).

As for the kitchen island's 10foot three-inch blue marble top, he says, "It was almost impossible to find a piece of granite that size. I was always warned against using marble in a kitchen, but because this is so richly patterned and has a sealer, staining has never been a problem."

Metaphorically, the kitchen was conceived as a railroad yard, "where you open the doors [of the train shed] and the locomotives come out and sit on the tracks in parallel," with the knife trough separating the upper marble dining surface from the lower food-prep and stove-top area, and the smoke hood as smokestack.

Upstairs, custom millwork casegoods have shelves and drawers not in front, but at the sides because, he explains, "I wanted this to look like a monolithic cube." Bottom drawers are shoe drawers: "I call them Imelda Marcos drawers."

Another inspiration was the projecting rail, near the top, on which can be hung suits and shirts in haberdashery-shop style.

"Okay, what shirt do I want now?

You can take it down and line things up."

"How does this even come out of somebody's head?" exclaims Corrine admiringly.

The master suite's entire radiant-heated Carrara-marble floor is waterproofed. "The bath could flow over and it wouldn't leak. Who knows, we might have water fights in here."

Associated Graphic

For his Forest Hill home, architect Jonathan Kearns used a great deal of Vitrolite, a coloured glass ubiquitous in Art Deco storefronts.


Link up
A pair of new works continues the long tradition of connected short story collections
Saturday, November 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R20

The Tsar of Love and Techno By Anthony Marra Random House Canada, 332 pages, $24.95

Pauls By Jess Taylor BookThug, 185 pages, $20

Linked story collections fall into a fairly established tradition, especially in Canada, where they trace their lineage back through Alice Munro's Who Do You Think You Are? and Lives of Girls and Women and Margaret Laurence's A Bird in the House, all the way to (arguably) Stephen Leacock's Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town. Publishers, in particular, like linked collections because they can sell them as novels, or at least as story sequences that display novelistic properties.

It is also true for American writer Anthony Marra's sophomore effort, The Tsar of Love and Techno, which follows up on his wellreceived debut novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. That book was praised for its deep engagement with recent history and its juxtaposition of tragedy and whimsy, all things that persist in the new work. Like the earlier novel, the stories are mostly set in Russia during and after the vicious Chechen conflicts of the 1990s that rained violence down on the former Soviet Union. They follow a small cast of characters - including the granddaughter of a famed Russian ballerina; a former museum director turned tour guide in Grozny; and a mercenary soldier captured by Chechen rebels and tossed into a pit with his comrade-in-arms - whose interconnected stories form a vibrant mosaic of life in post-Soviet Russia.

Marra actually opens his book well before the advent of the first Chechen war, in Leningrad of 1937. The Leopard centres on Roman Osipovich Markin, a would-be portrait artist who works for the Soviet Department of Party Propaganda and Agitation. His job is to "correct" official paintings and photographs by airbrushing out dissidents and other enemies of the state to preserve an officially approved version of history for the Communist apparatchiks. As his own artistic protest - and as a means of assuaging his guilt over his involvement in his brother's execution for "religious radicalism" - he begins inserting images of his dead sibling into the works he censors.

"Do I worry I'll be caught?" he muses rhetorically. "Please. My superiors are far too focused on who I take out to notice who I put in."

This comment - with its combined cynicism and barbed humour adjoining thematic concerns of history, erasure and the various ways art is used and abused in the service of freedom (or its antithesis) - forms the bedrock for what is to come. The painting into which Roman inserts the likeness of his murdered brother becomes a leitmotif that wends its way through the volume, as do a mixtape that the ill-fated mercenary, Kolya, carries with him, and a cut-rate espionage thriller called Deceit Web, which the ballerina's granddaughter is cast in after she hooks up romantically with a corrupt Russian oligarch.

Throughout these stories - which can stand alone or be read as one continuous, interlocking narrative - Marra walks a precarious tightrope, balancing humour with pathos, and punctuating achingly human situations with the stark exigencies of politics and war. The author's use of violence is impressive and vivid: Bodies are rent and mistreated, not in any gratuitous way, but as a means of underscoring the degradations and depredations of war and its aftermath. And the directness of the prose belies the range and depth these stories achieve: Marra's ability to inhabit characters as diverse as a Sovietera censor and a contemporary adolescent girl is notable, as is his effective use, in the story Granddaughters, of the first-person plural voice.

Only the brief final entry, The End, which adopts the perspective of Kolya after he has been killed by a rebel land mine, comes across as unconvincing. This metaphysical reverie seems unnecessary after the carefully calibrated, grounded realism of the pieces that precede it. Readers might be advised to set the book aside having completed the penultimate story, after which they can marvel at the imaginative edifice that the author has created and sustained to that point.

Toronto's Jess Taylor does not link the stories in her debut collection as tightly as Marra - though certain characters do reappear in successive entries, many of the stories in Pauls are discrete, united only by similarities in theme and subject, and the fact that they each contain a character named Paul. Depending on the story, Paul may be male or female (short for "Paulina"), and may serve as the central character or a figure on the periphery.

What unites these characters - aside from their names - is their woundedness. They are all scarred, be it psychically, emotionally or physically, and they are all trying to navigate a path through life that will allow them to heal or, at the very least, find a way to live with the wounds they have accrued.

In Claire's Fine, the title character, whom we are given to understand has been the victim of a sexual assault, works in a greeting-card store, where she is in charge of the section devoted to sympathy cards. (This is one example of Taylor's penchant for playing her hand too obviously; another is Paul's affliction in Breakfast Curry - a blood condition that prevents cuts on his body from healing.) The title of Claire's story is bleakly ironic, and she muses at one point on the various connotations associated with the word "fine": "When someone asks, How are you? You can say, Fine, and mean the opposite, or you can mean, I am like a careful line of stitching, how are you? You can mean, I am delicate.

Be careful that I don't get snagged and unravel."

The characters in these stories are in constant danger of unravelling; Taylor is adept at capturing the anxiety-ridden tenor of the current zeitgeist. Paulina in Multicoloured Lights is a submissive who has suffered abuse at the hands of her cousin (with whom she had a sexual relationship before he tried to kill her) and is a victim of date rape after she goes home with a man who slips something in her drink (she doesn't remember the assault, but comes to naked in an apartment hallway). The policewoman who takes Paul's statement says there is not enough to follow up on: "As far as we know, you guys could have both just gotten retardeddrunk."

All of this speaks to issues that are front-and-centre in the public sphere, and does so in a way that is frank and resonant. But the effect is diluted by a pervasive similarity among the stories - most of the narrators sound the same, an effect that is unfortunately heightened by the choice to use the same character name throughout - and a tendency toward heavy-handedness. The ice storm that looms over the long final story, Degenerate, is too explicit as a reflection of the story's thematic concerns, even if it hadn't already been used in a similar capacity by Rick Moody two decades before.

Steven W. Beattie's column on short stories appears monthly.

Raptors' annual Drake Night
Still surreal for Toronto rapper, but his dedication to the team's regime may be conditional
Thursday, November 26, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S1


Drake is only 20 minutes late, which is not like him.

He comes in through a public atrium connected to Air Canada Centre. The people lining the halls are shrieking. A woman behind us appears to be in some nervous distress. The guy with her is gulping like a fish.

They shove Drake inside a lightbox - Hotline Bling, y'all - where he should look ridiculous. Instead, he looks resplendent. Which is like him.

Drake could do a news conference while standing in a dumpster and suddenly everyone you know would need their own dumpster. For backyard barbecues and news conferences.

He ducks his head while the people trill, all sheepish. Drake is humble the way Dean Martin was drunk - not really, but, boy, does it ever work.

"This is actually surreal," he says. "I was talking about it today with my mom. I'm going to the game with my mom."

With his mom, y'all.

Two years ago, when the Toronto Raptors announced their partnership with Drake, it seemed like a stunt. Because it was a stunt.

Then Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment president Tim Leiweke needed someone to take the heat off while they tore the basketball team apart and rebuilt it. Toronto's No. 1 citizen had been trying to get on board with the Raptors for a while. He'd been ignored by all the suits before Leiweke.

Now he was offered a central role as consultant and youth-culture wise man. He was told he could lead a planned rebrand.

But instead of tanking, the Raptors got good. Even they were surprised. As a result, Drake's one-man marketing smokescreen slipped off the radar. By the time he got around to presenting his vision for the new Raptors - the main change being the colour palette - he was ignored.

That happened a year ago. Since then, Drake's been an absentee cheerleader. He doesn't talk about the team as much. He doesn't come to games as much. He's checked out.

On Wednesday, he returned for the third annual Drake Night, acting as though nothing had changed.

The Raptors caught the Cleveland Cavaliers in an early spirit of holiday giving. Riding a strong shooting night from, well, just about everyone, Toronto won 103-99. The home team is now 3-0 on Drake Nights.

As it ended they panned to the man himself. He flashed a sign that a bunch of half-drunk businessman tried to flash back with limited success. It was a complete performance. Drake's too good a salesman to seem out of sorts.

In the past, he's done a pregame address in an airless bunker underneath the arena. This time, he wanted to do it out among the people, creating a major logistical headache. It's not hard to guess why - "Let's remind everyone who the real star is."

It worked. No Raptor could have drawn these cheers.

His address could be interpreted as both a valedictory address and a subtle threat.

There was the usual swooning over Toronto - "the greatest city in the world."

I'm assuming he loves the city so much in part because he never has to ride the subway, but it'd be churlish to doubt him.

Drake has better bonafides on the hometown-obsession front than James Joyce.

There was the obligatory "No, no, not me. You're so beautiful" bit.

"We're just trying to create moments for the city," Drake said. "Yes, it is named after me, but it's definitely for Toronto.

Anything to do with Toronto, you know I'm on board and I'm excited."

Parenthetical: Seriously, man.

I'm begging you to talk to someone about the subway situation.

Use your superpowers for good.

Toward the end, he was asked if he expected to continue his unusual marketing relationship with the team.

Suddenly, he seemed cagey. He paused pregnantly.

"I hope it lasts ... forever," he said. For a man who always sounds compulsively sincere about everything, this didn't sound anywhere close. There's no way that wasn't on purpose.

"I'll never stop supporting [the team]," Drake said. "As long as we have wonderful guys like [general manager] Masai [Ujiri] here, I'm sure the partnership will grow and blossom."

There are two ideas in there - first, that he'll always be a fan.

And second, that if Ujiri - his last connection to the regime that brought him in - leaves, he's out.

Whatever love there may have been between the people who own the Raptors and Drake, it's bled off. They screwed that up when they asked for his help and then un-asked for it.

At this point, it's a business relationship in which no money is exchanged.

The Raptors get the reflected shine of the biggest musical star on the planet. He gets to be the public face of February's all-star game, which will be held in Toronto.

When Ujiri was hired in 2013, he was given a target - be good midway through the 2015-16 season. The plan was to give Drake his big moment at hip-hop's annual Mardi Gras. Then he would step back and the team would take his place in the spotlight.

It didn't work out that way, but Drake still wants his all-star stage. Who can blame him?

Once it's over with, expect this "partnership" to begin flagging.

Drake'll keep his courtside seats.

He'll come to the occasional game. Let's face it. He's a bigger deal in the NBA than Toronto's NBA team.

(That was another thing he reminded us of: "LeBron's like my brother. He's one of my closest friends in the game.") Drake won't go, but this iteration of him - freebie brand boost; unwelcome adviser - will.

He was out on the court long before the game began, alongside mom. He hugged LeBron, high-fived randos and did custom player introductions. If you spend a little time watching him, it looks as though being Drake is exhausting. But Drake seems to enjoy it. That's his magic.

When the shots went Toronto's way, he got up and cheered.

When the calls went the other, he stood in disgust.

He plainly loves this team the same way he loves the city - innocently, and without expectations.

What he didn't figure on was that, just like any other bloodless corporate concern, the team couldn't love him back.

Follow me on Twitter: @cathalkelly

Associated Graphic

Drake, right, celebrates with Kyle Lowry of the Raptors after Toronto beat the Cleveland Cavaliers on the third annual Drake Night at Air Canada Centre.


Toronto Raptors' DeMarre Carroll, centre, goes for the dunk between Cleveland Cavaliers' Richard Jefferson, left, and Jared Cunningham during first half of Wednesday's game in Toronto. Toronto beat the Eastern Conferenceleading Cavaliers 103-99. Kyle Lowry poured in 27 points. DeMar DeRozan added 20 points, while Luis Scola had 15 points and seven rebounds.


Vulnerable indigenous women were easy prey for serial killer
Thursday, November 26, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A1

WINNIPEG -- When Jennifer McPherson went missing in British Columbia, the RCMP released a bulletin seeking the public's help in finding the 41year-old, who had been living on remote Hanson Island. It said she lost contact with her family on April 29, 2013, and had not been seen or heard from since. It also said she was Caucasian.

Only part of that was true.

In fact, Ms. McPherson was indigenous, her roots tracing back to Manitoba's Peguis First Nation.

Her loved ones found themselves confronted with an emotional conundrum at an agonizing time: Should they correct the record?

"Honest to God, we were afraid to change it," the woman's sister, Kim McPherson, recently told The Globe and Mail. "We thought she'd end up being another person never found. We were really terrified. It goes back to the question about why [killers] pick [indigenous women]. It's because there's a lack of interest. There's less response."

After some deliberation, the family made the painful decision to hide Ms. McPherson's identity and let law enforcement and the public believe she was Caucasian.

Kim McPherson said there was a strong police and community response, including among locals who took their own boats out on the water to search for clues.

It was a matter of days before the McPhersons would learn it was too late - the mother of two was already dead.

On the evening of May 6, her husband, Traigo Andretti, met with a detective and confessed to a pair of gruesome crimes. In police transcripts obtained by The Globe, he described the murders of both Ms. McPherson and Winnipeg's Myrna Letandre, a 37-yearold from Pinaymootang First Nation. Ms. Letandre disappeared in 2006, weeks after Mr. Andretti came into her life in an unusual way - one that speaks to the lengths to which serial predators will go to track down vulnerable people, said the prosecutor on the Manitoba case, which culminated in a guilty plea in August.

Mr. Andretti is Canada's latest known serial killer, his case underscoring The Globe's recent finding that indigenous women are roughly seven times more likely to be slain by serial killers than non-indigenous women. The investigation also found that at least 18 aboriginal women died at the hands of convicted serial killers since 1980.

Eight men, most of them non-indigenous, were responsible for those deaths. In the cases of Mr. Andretti, Winnipeg's Shawn Lamb and Saskatoon's John Crawford, every one of their known victims - a total of eight - was indigenous.

Through their loss, the McPherson and Letandre families are connected. Both believe that Ms. McPherson's death could have been prevented. Both credit the B.C. RCMP with bringing Mr. Andretti to justice - not Manitoba's Project Devote, a joint RCMP and Winnipeg Police Service task force that was struck in 2012 and is investigating more than two dozen homicide and long-term missing-person cases, many of which involve indigenous women. Ms. Letandre's missing-person file had been one of them.

Both families also believe that Ms. McPherson's death marked her final act of kindness, in that it brought some measure of closure to Ms. Letandre's loved ones after seven years of worrying and wondering.

Mr. Andretti, who was born Dylan Harold Grubb in Ontario in 1975, found Ms. Letandre in August of 2006 through her sister, Lorna Sinclair. Like hundreds of others in Winnipeg, Ms. Sinclair had signed up for a free voicemail service that allows people who do not have a phone, and are seeking work, to receive messages from prospective employers. Mr. Andretti exploited the service by dialling random extensions and, if a woman "sounded cute," he would leave a message, he told police. Ms. Sinclair introduced him to Ms. Letandre, who had leg braces and screws in her spine after a 1990 suicide attempt triggered by her jarring transition from Pinaymootang to the capital.

In explaining his use of the voicemail system to police, Mr. Andretti mentioned "Mama Wichita," a possible reference to Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata, an indigenous organization where people can sign up for the voicemail program. "He knew what he was doing by calling this specific line," executive director Diane Redsky said in a recent interview.

"He knows the line is used by women in poverty. ... Clearly, they're vulnerable people."

Shocked at the revelation, she said she would direct staff at Ma Mawi locations to warn women that the system may be used for nefarious, and possibly criminal, purposes.

Based on publicly available information, Mr. Andretti does not appear to have ever explained to authorities why he murdered Ms.

Letandre, with whom he told police he spent a "really special" few weeks. After strangling Ms. Letandre, he decapitated her and lit some of her remains on fire in a dumpster behind his home. He buried her head in his basement crawlspace.

Months later, in May of 2007, he married Ms. McPherson in that same home. He met her through a dating website using his birth name, Kim McPherson said. She said the relationship moved fast and that her sister, who had been working at a local indigenous organization, started isolating herself from her family.

By 2008, the couple moved to B.C., where Jennifer McPherson, who had taken a computer application program after high school, found a job as a caretaker at a fishing lodge on Hanson Island.

It was there, around April 29, 2013, that Mr. Andretti killed his wife and then placed some of her body parts in lobster traps. When Ms. McPherson's two adult daughters arrived in the area on May 1, 2013, for a planned visit with their mother, they did not buy Mr. Andretti's explanation that she had gone to Las Vegas.

They refused to travel to the island with him and, in fact, one of the daughters said plainly to him, "You killed my mother, didn't you?" Kim McPherson recounted.

She expressed frustration that the Winnipeg police do not appear to have paid a visit to Mr. Andretti after Ms. Sinclair flagged the man for questioning in her sister's disappearance. (Mr. Andretti told the court that police phoned him.) She is also frustrated that it seems the fire department did not search the dumpster after putting out the fire on Sept. 12, 2006. Neither the Winnipeg police nor the city's Fire Paramedic Service responded to requests for comment made more than a week ago.

Kim McPherson said she was horrified to learn that Mr. Andretti had taken the life of another woman prior to killing her sister. She believes serial killers like Mr. Andretti prey on indigenous women because they have confidence they will get away with it. "The thought is," she said, "that nobody is going to miss them."

Associated Graphic

Murder victim Jennifer McPherson went missing in 2013, and her family hesitated to admit she was an aboriginal while the search was ongoing because they feared it might lower the case's priority in the eyes of police.

Traigo Andretti

Thursday, November 26, 2015 – Print Edition, Page D5

Los Angeles -- INFINITI QX30

What is it?

The QX30 made its simultaneous world debut at both the Los Angeles and Guangzhou car shows. It is Infiniti's bold entry into the smoking hot compact luxury SUV segment. The QX30 first took centre stage as a concept at the Geneva Motor Show and is targeted squarely at millennials - its parent company Nissan calls them "a new generation of premium drivers." We call them new money.

Signature feature Wow, look at all those creases and curves.

The QX30's low-slung roofline mixed with its elevated ride and swoopy styling give it a muscular, aggressive, rugged look. "Its mix of artistry in the flowing lines, and power in the elevated stance and confident look, makes a bold visual statement and challenges current preconceptions of what a crossover should look like," says Alfonso Albaisa, Infiniti's executive design director.

What else is new?

The QX30 - and its sister SUV, the Q30 - will be manufactured at the company's new plant in Sunderland, Britain, and is part of the company's greater plan for increased global sales.

Under the hood It will feature a 208-horsepower, 2.0-litre turbocharged gasoline engine.

When can we buy it and for how much?

The QX30 is expected to go on sale in mid-2016. Pricing has yet to be announced.

Cool quotient 4 (out of 5) There's something for everyone here. This ride should appeal to both the babies and the boomers, new money and old.

Darren McGee, Los Angeles


What are they?

The all-wheel drive 911 Targa 4 with a turbocharged engine promises to deliver more power on less fuel. How good are you with the pedal? Equipped with optional PDK and sport chrono packages, the Carrera goes from 0-100 km/h in 4.1 seconds, clipping an eye-blink equivalent of 0.4 seconds from the predecessor, according to the auto maker. Go to the S model and it does the distance in 3.8 seconds. Top speeds range between 287 and 305 km/h.

Signature feature As winter approaches, consider the possibilities of spring. Distinguished from the coupe and Cabriolet, for the Targa, there is the droptop and wraparound rear window. With a touch of a button, the roof lifts off to stow behind the rear seats, overlapping the rollover bar that replaces the B pillars.

What else is new?

With an optional sport chrono package, a switch on the steering wheel enables four driving modes - normal, sport, sport-plus and individual. Moreover, a sport response button generates max acceleration for a period of 20 seconds.

Under the hood Outfitted with the 3.0-litre six-cylinder, 370-hp engine, horsepower increases to 420 due to turbochargers with modified compressors, specifically tuned engine and customized exhaust.

When can we get it, and for how much?

The Targa 4 will be available in Canada in the second quarter of 2016, starting at $124,000; the 4S starts at $140,000. Carrera 4 prices range between $110,100 to $140,100 for the 4S Cabriolet.

Cool quotient 5

Press a button and ground clearance at the front spoiler lip raises 40 mm within five seconds. Why? To negotiate steep exits from office and condo buildings.

Tom Maloney, Los Angeles


What is it?

It is Land Rover's first convertible SUV - and the only convertible SUV currently in production.

Signature feature It's what this compact sport ute doesn't have that makes it the most unique new auto available. Marketed as a "convertible for all seasons" and closely related to the popular, three-year-old Evoque, the soft top Evoque convertible looks like the ideal girls' getaway vehicle but it's equipped for much grittier tasks. Off-road capability flows through this Rover's genes; it even comes with a hidden rollover protection system that deploys two aluminum roll bars within 90 milliseconds to protect occupants.

What else is new?

A boatload of new infotainment technology. Jaguar Land Rover's proprietary InControl Touch Pro system allows everything from seamless smartphone integration to terrain sensation and running algorithms to learn your daily driving habits. Once it has your usual routes down, the system is smart enough to use historical and realtime traffic info to make suggestions on route alternatives that will help you avoid congestion and construction.

Under the hood The Evoque Convertible is powered by the same turbo four, 240-horsepower engine as its non-convertible counterpart and features a nine-speed automatic transmission.

When can we buy it, and for how much?

The Evoque Convertible HSE will go on sale in Canada in spring, 2016. Expect a price tag of $65,000.

Cool quotient 5 This compact sport utility vehicle has little to do with practicality and a lot to do with show. A gleaming little jewel in Land Rover's much-revitalized crown, the Evoque Convertible is a beautiful showpiece likely to go unrivalled in any parking lot.

Jessica Leeder, Los Angeles


What is it?

The Ford Escape is a major refresh of what has long been Canada's best-selling compact CUV, but which has seen fresher rivals eat into its sales lead of late.

Signature feature One could point to the new front-end styling with Edge-style grille, or the redrawn tailgate, but the attention-getter is the exceptional levels of connectivity and semi-automated driving added to an affordable vehicle that was already the segment leader in that regard. For 2016, the Escape was the first Ford to get the new SYNC 3, and now it debuts SYNC Connect, which lets owners from a distance unlock and lock their doors, start the engine, check fuel level and even locate the vehicle, all through a smartphone App.

What else is new?

The switch to an electric park-brake switch has enabled a centre-console redesign that adds storage space. Ford has continued its work to make the Escape ever quieter and a revised rear suspension aims to enhance comfort without compromising the nameplate's signature agility.

Under the hood While the base FWD S model retains the carryover naturally-aspirated 2.5-litre four, the mainstream 1.6-litre EcoBoost is replaced by a more efficient 1.5-litre and the uplevel 2.0-litre is also substantially new, now with a twin-scroll turbo. Outputs of the 1.5 are expected to match the former 1.6, while the 2.0 now claims 245 hp and 275 lb.-ft. Both EcoBoost engines also have standard Auto Start-Stop.

When can I buy one?

Ford is predicting first deliveries in May.

Cool quotient 3 Compact CUVs may be popular but they are not intrinsically cool. That said, all the on-board IT and semi-self-driving features have a certain cool for those who like that sort of thing.

Jeremy Sinek, Los Angeles

Associated Graphic





A banking issue lurking beneath the surface
Investors advised to watch carefully as banking sector moves to meet new global capitalization requirements
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, November 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B13

The Canadian banking sector has been a surprise-free zone for quite some time. At least, until National Bank of Canada startled investors in early October by announcing a dilutive $300-million offering of common shares to shore up capital in the face of several unpleasant and unexpected surprises.

Was it the first shoe to drop, or an isolated incident? Investors seem to have chosen the latter view, punishing National Bank and leaving its larger peers relatively unscathed. (Since Oct. 1, the date of the announcement, National Bank shares have been flat, while the other banks have returned 3 per cent to 6 per cent.)

Far less noted, however, was a capital action the following week by Bank of Montreal, which issued $600-million of preferred stock. The terms of the deal were far more onerous than previous similar deals by Canadian banks, says analyst Peter Routledge of National Bank Financial, and should be of more concern to investors, even if they shrugged off the news. (BMO is the bestperforming big-bank stock since both Oct. 1 and Oct. 7).

"While [National Bank's] equity raise garnered most of the headlines, we consider the implications of BMO's private placement, which flew under many investors' radar, to have more significant ramifications for the sector over all," Mr. Routledge says.

First, some perspective: Capital will be but a small part of the news as the Canadian banks issue earnings next week. Investors will look to see, for example, whether the continuing depressed price of oil and the tenuous Western economy will begin to turn some of the banks' good loans to bad or whether there are any more restructurings and cost reductions on tap. Some banks may raise dividends; others will demur. No one forecasts a rash of dilutive common-stock offerings in the coming months.

Still, capital plays a role in all of the things that will make headlines next week. Banks can build their capital ratios by posting healthy profits - and mitigating the amount of those profits that flow right out the door via dividends. Slowing or decreased earnings, or aggressive dividend increases, give banks less to build their capital cushions.

For now, the Canadian banks' capital is seen as satisfactory. In the long term, however, changes in global capital requirements for banks, born of the 2008-09 financial crisis, will trickle down to Canada, even if none of the big banks are considered "global systemically important banks," subject to stricter requirements because of the impact on the world's economy if they collapse. (Royal Bank of Canada, thought to be a candidate to join that list this month, was instead given a pass.)

One of the changes in capital requirements governed a portion of banks' capital that is considered "Tier 1"- the most important form of capital - but does not come from common stock.

This capital has typically comes from preferred stock or debt that's subordinate to other parts of a bank's capital structure.

The new global capital rules now require this capital to come from securities called "non-viable contingent capital" (NVCC), named because in the event regulators decide a bank is no longer viable and needs new capital to avoid collapse, the securities convert into common stock.

The rule will be phased in, with banks gradually retiring their existing securities and replacing them with NVCC by Jan. 1, 2022.

Kris Somers, a corporate debt analyst at BMO Nesbitt Burns, estimates the banks, through 2022, will have to replace roughly $3-billion worth of capital - annually - that doesn't meet the new standard.

This is where the BMO offering comes into play. The $600-million offering yielded 5.85 per cent with a "reset spread" - the margin above a government bond rate that will be in effect when the securities' interest rate "resets" - of 500 basis points (or five full percentage points). This, Mr. Routledge notes, compares with a spread of 271 basis points for BMO's prior offering in May and an overall average spread of 238 basis points for all of BMO's offerings of this type. "Put differently," he says, "BMO's [Oct. 8] issuance ... effectively doubled the cost of this form of bank capital."

While there may be some BMOspecific factors at play, Mr. Routledge says, the new spreads put the offering in line with the pricing for European bank issues seen since January, 2014. "We think the pricing environment for these instruments has fundamentally shifted in Canada and will not recede to levels observed in the past. As a result, the cost of financing, not just for preferred shares, but also other capital instruments ... will similarly shift upward."

Mr. Routledge notes Canada's Financial Stability Board is still considering how to implement global capitalization rules, but he expects higher capital-ratio requirements for the commonstock component of equity. In addition, the banks will need to issue "substantial" amounts of the NVCC securities that supplement common-equity capital.

That is a long-term concern for Canadian bank investors. That does not mean, however, that capital won't come into play in the near term, and at more institutions than National Bank.

At RBC Dominion Securities, bank-stock analyst Darko Mihelic and his firm's credit analysts conducted their own study of capital levels earlier this month. They determined that Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and Toronto-Dominion Bank are less exposed to "idiosyncratic event" capital risks than their peers, with National Bank the weakest.

The study prompted Mr. Mihelic to increase his dividend forecast for CIBC and make a slight bump up in his earnings-pershare forecast for TD. On the downside, however, Mr. Mihelic cut his EPS estimate for BMO because he removed its 2016 stock-buyback assumption, believing BMO will choose to boost capital instead, and he lowered National Bank's dividend-pershare estimates by 4 per cent in 2016 and 3 per cent in 2017.

The RBC analysts do not provide coverage of their own company, but Robert Sedran of CIBC World Markets does. And he says that while RBC shares will benefit from the bank avoiding getting tagged a global systemically important bank, "that does not remove capital as an issue, though." Its common-equity capital ratio is, at 10.1 per cent, "on the lower end of Canadian banks, so it is going to be building capital for the next while."

Indeed, my advice is for investors to watch carefully how all the big banks build their capital in coming years. Earnings, dividends and returns increasingly depend on it.

National Bank (NA) Close: $43.64, up 22¢ Royal Bank of Canada (RY) Close: $75.25, down 2¢ TD Bank (TD) Close: $54.48, up 3¢ Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS) Close: $60.83, up 24¢ CIBC (CM) Close: $99.94, up 34¢ Bank of Montreal (BMO) Close: $76.64, down 41¢

Associated Graphic

National Bank surprised investors with an offering of common shares in October to shore up capital.



Villagers hope anti-corruption push a banner time for protest
Thursday, November 26, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A1

QI'AO, CHINA -- Banners are one of China's best-loved propaganda tools.

In every city and town, large fabric scrolls extoll the virtues of harmony, stability, civilized development and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Far fewer places are decorated with the protest banners that line the quiet roads of Qi'ao, a small island community in China's southern Guangdong province.

For much of the year, this tourist destination not far from Hong Kong and Macau has been overshadowed by a passionate fight against authorities - one motivated in part by Mr. Xi himself.

"Return our home, return our land, return the right for Qi'ao villagers to be the masters of our homes," says a large white placard hung on the traditional gate that marks the entrance to the village of 2,000. "Qi'ao has corrupt officials, villagers suffer indescribable misery," says another.

The banners have stayed up for four months, reposted every time the authorities sweep in and pull them down with long sticks. Villagers who engage in such voluble protests know they risk heavy reprisals.

But for the past two years, China's top leadership has waged a high-profile corruption campaign against what they call "tigers and flies" - dirty bureaucrats both big and small. Now, in some parts of rural China, villagers see new permission to mount their own campaigns.

"We didn't dare to protest in the past. It's only because now our President Xi is fighting all of the tigers and flies, that's why," said Ms. Tang, 61, a farmer who, like all of the Qi'ao protesters, asked that only her surname be used for fear of reprisal by authorities.

"That's why we have the courage to do it."

The protest started when the local government took land from village farmers and barred them from planting rice, offering compensation far below what the land is worth today. The broad sketches of discontent are familiar in a country where land seizures have been one of the principal fuels for growth and urban wealth - but also social unrest.

In 2013, the most recent year for which statistics are available, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said the country experienced 100,000 "mass incidents" - protests with 100 or more people.

Land disputes make up roughly two-thirds of those disputes.

Some are driven by long-standing grievances. The villagers in Qi'ao lost their land in 1988.

"Cases like this, which have gone on for so many years without resolution, are actually quite common in China," said Zhang Yulin, a professor at Nanjing University who has written extensively on local land disputes.

But with a new generation of Chinese leadership "putting significant effort into combatting corruption, it is consequently encouraging villagers - some who may have regained hope."

Qi'ao is just 50 kilometres across the water from Hong Kong, in a steamy southern climate that once produced big crops of rice.

But after the land was taken, most of it went unused, waiting for development that was slow to come. Over the years, the island built bicycle lanes, attracted tourists and sold off space to an experimental school whose parents pick up their children in Mercedes SUVs. But even today, much of the land has been left to grow tall with weeds and grasses.

The villagers are barred from farming it and have instead taken what jobs they could find. Ms. Tang made and sold bread. Ms. Cai, also 61, went to Macau to help look after her sister's children.

A different Ms. Cai, 64, found work caring for the elderly. Losing her land left her with no way out of poverty, she said. Her family scraped by in part through money sent back by relatives who had moved to Hong Kong and Macau.

"We have eight people living in a 1,700-square-foot house now," Ms. Cai said. "We have not been able to afford a single meal out in a restaurant in the past year. We don't dare to spend the money."

She and others know their land is valuable. On the mainland nearby, it sells for about $14-million a hectare. They were told the land sold to the experimental school went for more than $40million. The villagers were paid $625,000.

The Landesa Rural Development Institute, which advises policy-makers in China, found Chinese authorities resell land to developers, on average, for 41 times the price they pay farmers.

Disparities of that magnitude create abundant space for graft.

"In many if not most cases, villages are run like private kingdoms by [Communist] Party officials who monopolize political and economic affairs. They are often abetted by more senior leaders at the country and city levels, who see village land in particular as a lucrative opportunity," said David Bandurski, whose book Dragons in Diamond Village catalogues rural resistance to urbanization.

He understands why those in Qi'ao have claimed inspiration from Mr. Xi. Villagers, he said, may want "to align their goals with the stated priorities of the leadership, which might help to make their case." But "unfortunately, their hopes are probably misguided."

Indeed, though there is a "force nine wind" blowing against corruption at the top levels in Chinese politics, Prof. Zhang said, at lower levels of government, "there's no wind at all."

In Qi'ao, police have tossed several protesters into temporary detention and barred others from leaving their island. They have cut off home Internet and villagers have been barred from starting group conversations on WeChat, the popular messaging service whose Chinese owners routinely bow to police demands.

Fearful villagers believe someone monitors their communications.

When one of them asked his daughter in Beijing for help, he was ordered to report to police.

Some journalists have been physically kept from the island.

When a reporter arrived last week, those involved in the protest ran through the streets to a private courtyard where they could talk out of sight.

On a mobile phone, they showed a video they had created to draw attention to their situation. In it, pictures of protests are set to a popular Hong Kong song whose defiant lyrics say: "I am nightmare. I can harass you every day."

So far, however, the nightmare seems worse for Qi'ao than the authorities. Several officials have been arrested on suspicion of corruption, but one was later released. A deputy mayor has come twice promising answers, but none have arrived.

The villagers, meanwhile, have little to show for their efforts save a rising feeling that they, too, risk being tossed in jail.

"We are really scared right now," Ms. Tang said.

Associated Graphic

'Return our home, return our land, return the right for Qi'ao villagers to be the masters of our homes,' reads the protest banner hung on the main entry gate to the small village in China's southern Guangdong province. Local government took land from Qi'ao farmers in 1988.


These Sisters delve into heart of darkness
Vancouver production of contemporary American work explores the polygamous family life of renegade Mormon sect
Wednesday, November 25, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L3

In its final year as a traditional year-round opera company, Vancouver Opera - which will mount an annual festival after this season - is continuing with its commitment to present contemporary work along with traditional repertoire.

This week a new production of Dark Sisters has its Canadian premiere. It's an American opera - co-commissioned by three U.S. companies, with an American composer and librettist and telling an American story, but it's also a story that has resonance in Canada, particularly in British Columbia.

Dark Sisters, which had its world premiere four years ago, focuses on a polygamous family operating as part of a renegade Mormon sect in the U.S. southwest. Five sister wives, all married to a man called the Prophet, are fighting to get their children back after they are removed by the state. One of the women, Eliza (Melanie Krueger), wants to leave the life, feeling it's the only way she can save her daughter from a similar, dark fate.

The opera focuses on the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (which split from mainstream Mormonism in the early 20th century) in the southern Unitee States - the community of Short Creek and the infamous 2008 raid at the Yearning For Zion (YFZ) ranch near Eldorado, Tex. The resulting media coverage figures in the opera; an interview with Larry King ("We revisit their side of this shattering story," King said) has been turned into a set piece for the opera.

"Polygamy, as it is practised in North America, exists at the intersection of a lot of anxiety about the role of the government in the bedroom, about the involvement of children in the practices of their parents, about the right to statehood - all of this," explains composer Nico Muhly in an e-mail exchange. "That was one thing that drew me - and Stephen Karam, the librettist - to this story. The other thing that interested me is the necessary gender imbalance in polygamy - you have to have more women than men or the whole thing falls apart. Just musically, the sound of such a household fascinated me - the voices of children, multiple women, and one man."

In researching the opera, both Muhly and Karam travelled to Colorado City, Ariz., and read whatever they could about the origins of the Mormon faith, its leaders and the FLDS movement.

"Stephen Karam and I discovered something interesting which was when we started research - which was in 2009 or so - there was a markedly finite number of books written about this particular sect, the FLDS. There were a few memoirs written by escapees, a few blogs - but, rather like North Korea, there is precious little information in the outside world," explains Muhly, an indemand U.S. composer who has also worked in film - including writing the Oscar-nominated score for The Reader.

"Many outside of the Mormon faith still only know the male icons, Joseph Smith and Brigham Young; I wanted to fashion a story that put the women front and centre," adds Karam, also in an e-mail. "One rarely hears of Joseph and Brigham's wives, despite the fact that there were over 80.

"These real women and their journal entries inspired the modern fictional women in our story."

While the production is inspired by the communities in the southern U.S., Karam (a playwright whose work includes Speech & Debate and Sons of the Prophet) and Muhly both looked into the practice of polygamy by fundamentalist Mormons in Bountiful, B.C. - which will also, no doubt, be top of mind for Vancouver audiences who have been exposed to years of news coverage about Bountiful.

The VO production is the opera's third, and another theatre guy, Amiel Gladstone, is directing. A few years ago, Gladstone, who is based in Vancouver, was one of the beneficiaries (Kim Collier was another) of a VO program aimed at training mid-career theatre directors in opera.

Contemporary opera is a good fit for a theatre director, Gladstone says. Because a lot of work in opera involves standard, familiar repertoire, the lesser-known material can be challenging. But for Gladstone, who directs a lot of contemporary theatre, it's his comfort zone.

"We have our Shakespeare ... but not everyone is doing Shakespeare in theatre; whereas in opera everybody's doing the same 100 operas ... so everybody knows the repertoire," he says.

"So when you do something like Dark Sisters, which is new, it's completely different for them in a way that a new play is not completely different for theatre. So in a way it's much scarier because you can't go back and listen to a bunch of recordings or watch a bunch of things and see what people have done before ... and depending on your mindset it's either terrifying or exhilarating.

"The conversations in the rehearsal room are so different than if we were working on the standard repertoire and I think that also translates to the audience's take on it," Gladstone adds.

"We're going to be talking about things that are happening right now in that world as opposed to how beautifully she sang that aria."

When Gladstone took on the project, he did so with the intention of presenting a balanced view of the FLDS, but as he researched the community, his opinion shifted. It became impossible to show the men in a positive light.

"The women are doing what they can within that world," he says. "They're not all saints but the women are doing what they can as the victims in a really odd power struggle. The men are, to me, completely unredeemable.

These men are doing horrible things."

The more mainstream Mormon church has been in the news recently, with Mormons involved in same-sex marriages to be considered apostates, and children of same-sex couples barred from being baptized until they're 18.

Gladstone calls that "a great way to rule yourself into irrelevance."

Karam, who is gay, says the Mormons he knows are good people - and have always been accepting of him and his sexuality. "But I'm not surprised," he adds. "I mean, this is an institution that didn't lift certain racial bans until 1978. I'm just disappointed they haven't learned from their past mistakes. Personally, I can think of nothing more Christ-like than a church that opens its doors to people of all walks of life. Can you imagine what Jesus would say about a church that turned away Mary Magdalene and the company she kept? Personally, I think Jesus would be having dinner with the gay Mormon families this week in solidarity."

Dark Sisters is at the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Nov. 26-Dec. 12.

Associated Graphic

Melanie Krueger, left, and Thomas Goerz rehearse for the Vancouver Opera production of Dark Sisters under the direction of conductor Kinza Tyrrell, right.


Board faces challenge in fare debate
Economically diverse ridership makes it hard to set a price without either starving the system or driving away lower-income users
Saturday, November 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A19

By the time it hits midtown, nearly an hour before the subway opens, the southbound Yonge bus is jammed.

The reverse route of the infamous "vomit comet" that carries revellers home from Toronto's core, this is a crucial lifeline for downtown workers who start early. It is a microcosm of the city, a place where people across the socio-economic spectrum quite literally brush shoulders.

There's the labourer with the Slurpee-sized cup of coffee. The woman who reaches into a finely crafted leather purse, extracting a Bible for a bit of early-morning solace. There are suits, retail workers and students. The lucky ones score a seat, everyone else sways in unison as the bus flies down largely empty roads.

The range of customers on the Yonge bus reflects the relative success Toronto has had in creating a system that attracts socalled "choice riders," people who can afford to drive, but opt for the TTC. It also demonstrates the challenge the TTC board faces Monday as it dives into the annual fare debate.

Set the fare too low and you give better-off riders a break they don't need, while starving the system of the money necessary to make it attractive to a broad range of residents. Set it too high and you risk driving away lower-income people who rely on the service. And complicating the issue is the recognition that transit fares are, at best, a crude way to try to pursue broader social policy goals.

"Anything we do will be really imperfect," acknowledged councillor and TTC chair Josh Colle.

"I still think it's our responsibility and our job to keep trying, but you recognize that we do so with a really tiny amount of tools in the toolbox."

And they do so with the plight of lower-income riders sure to dominate the debate. This makes sense, inasmuch as the fare represents a bigger share of their finances, but it also helps perpetuate the myth that transit is for poor people.

Perception versus reality

Although Toronto has had notable success in attracting a wide range of riders, public opinion hasn't really kept up. Witness the reaction to Dwane Casey.

The Raptors coach was driving to a playoff game in the spring of 2014 when he became mired in traffic. He went back, hopped on the TTC and rode the subway to the Air Canada Centre. Surprised fans snapped his pic and the act was considered novel enough to become a minor news story, with articles saying he had been "forced" to ride the subway. He was left a bit bemused, saying in a recent interview that he simply made "the rational choice."

"We do use it as a family ... the kids love it. It's part of everyday life," he said. "Guys were shocked that I was on there. But for me it was, you know, I'm not too good or above taking the subway."

According to Statistics Canada, Toronto's median household income is $72,000. The TTC, which slices data into different categories, says 35 per cent of riders have a household income above $65,000. Those with family income below $65,000 made up 32 per cent of riders and 24 per cent wouldn't answer. It's unclear from the data what the remainder earned.

Jess Bell, spokesperson for the advocacy group TTC Riders, takes exception to these figures, noting that the agency's top category encompassed a much bigger range than the lower-income ones. But she agrees that the TTC has an economically diverse ridership.

"Toronto is lucky because so many use transit," said. "Rich and poor people take public transit, and that's great."

Warren Buffett once famously said that Wall Street is "the only place people ride to in a RollsRoyce to get advice from people who take the subway." The quote dates from 1991, and could now be updated to include other financial centres, including Toronto's.

Carmine Di Federico, a managing director at BMO Capital Markets, believes that the majority of people in his Bay Street office take transit to work. He is among them and, because he rises early enough to get to the gym before work, that means taking the all-night Yonge bus from his midtown home.

"I just would rather not drive," he said. "I think that if you're close enough to a subway stop, even if it's a short bus ride, I'd much rather deal with the transit issues. I think generally they're minimal."

What diverse ridership means for fares

A mix of incomes on the transit acts as a great social leveller.

But it makes it very hard to choose the right fare.

Scratch an expert and you get a different solution: Transit should be cheap to help the poor and encourage broad ridership; fares should be raised across the board, with some sort of rebate to poorer riders; transit should be free as a social right; better-off riders should help subsidize poorer ones.

"If we're going to be progressive, [transit] should largely be paid out of taxation," argued Ole Harder, a lower-middle income Air Canada flight attendant who needs three connections to get to the airport from his St. Lawrence Market-area home. "Increasing the subsidization is the way to go."

Another difficulty with setting a rational fare policy is that TTC riders can have wildly different experiences, often because of their income.

Some of the shortest and most convenient commutes are by TTC users who live in homes, generally expensive ones, that are close to subway lines. But those riders hailing from socalled "transit deserts" - typically poor areas where service is sporadic or involves multiple buses - can argue they are getting less value for their token.

"If you look at where the subway map is," said Mr. Colle, the TTC chair, "it certainly does serve a lot of areas that don't have the same [economic] needs."

The city is working a fare equity strategy as part of its poverty reduction work. But for now the TTC does not offer a reduced fare for lower-income riders.

A full look at fare policy will probably have to wait for the roll-out of the Presto smart card, which should be complete by the end of 2016 and will allow a wider range of pricing options.

In the short run, a boost to the cash fare is widely anticipated for next year. But the debate is expected to be difficult - even raising the fare just a nickel is projected to cost the agency two million riders.

"We'll probably have a big battle at [the TTC board] about fare increases," councillor and TTC commissioner Joe Mihevc predicted earlier this month.

Associated Graphic

Commuters ride the streetcar through the Financial District during evening rush hour.


Retirement plan hits dissonant note
She wants to wait until 60 before leaving work, but he thinks they can afford to leave now
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, November 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B12

Mike, who works in the health-care field, wants to retire now. He is 56. Mary, a teacher, thinks they should both work a few more years so they can retire without having to crimp their spending too much. She just turned 57.

"I think that if we both work four more years, until age 60, we can enjoy retirement without much fiscal restraint," Mary writes in an e-mail. "We are not used to fiscal restraint."

Adds Mary: "We have never had a budget and frankly do not spend much time worrying about money. We do live within our means as we have annual savings of about $30,000. Although we do not spend extravagantly, when we do travel or make the odd discretionary purchase, we do not want to scrimp."

They have a suburban condo and a cottage not too far away.

When they retire, they plan to sell their current condo and move downtown, either buying or renting. They figure buying a downtown condo would cost about $30,000 more. They would spend half the year at the cottage and the other half at home.

"I would like to be able to enjoy the downtown lifestyle (theatre, restaurants, etc.) and possibly be a snowbird for one month of the year," Mary writes. She wonders if they should rent or buy.

This year's $30,000 surplus is earmarked for a new car for Mike.

If they keep working, the next year's surplus could go to cottage renovations, Mary adds.

"I feel the following years' savings of $30,000 to $60,000 - if we continued to work full time (until age 60) - would allow us to retire without money worries," Mary writes. Mike wants to retire now "because you never know what might happen." Both have defined-benefit pension plans but wonder if they should add annuities to their investment mix.

We asked Michael Cherney, a Toronto-based financial planner, to look at Mary and Mike's situation.

What the expert says

Mary and Mike are both fortunate to be part of the dwindling number of workers with defined-benefit pensions, Mr. Cherney says.

They are asking whether they can retire on May 31, 2016 (Mike's preferred retirement date), with an income of $6,000 to $7,000 a month after tax. Mike would settle for $6,000 a month, while Mary would be more comfortable with $7,000.

In his calculations, the planner assumes a life expectancy of 95 years, an inflation rate of 2.5 per cent a year, with pensions indexed at 75 per cent of inflation, and an average annual rate of return on investments of 4.5 per cent. He assumes they convert their registered retirement savings plans to registered retirement income funds when they retire.

The result? "They can, just barely, meet their retirement goals if they retire next spring," Mr. Cherney says. They would have an indexed income of $92,000 a year before tax, or $78,500 a year after tax, "near the midpoint of their respective targets."

Mike would get $30,336 a year in pension income in 2016, falling by 15 per cent at age 65 when the bridge benefit ceases. Mary would get $32,880, falling by 12 per cent at age 65. To supplement their income, Mike would draw $5,454 a year to start from his RRIF and Mary $18,702. They would draw the balance from their tax-free savings accounts.

At age 60, they would begin collecting Canada Pension Plan benefits of $8,179 a year each. At age 65, they would get Old Age Security (currently $6,839 a year each).

But, they might have to buy a used car and scale back on the cottage renovations if they retire in 2016. Working another year or two would give them more pension income and fewer years in retirement for which to provide.

To keep their taxes to a minimum, the planner suggests the couple take advantage of pension income splitting, dividing their retirement income in half. "Even though they are only in their late 50s, they can take advantage of this immediately because these are pension payments," he says.

They will also have the $2,000 a year pension income deduction.

Mr. Cherney has grossed-up Mike and Mary's projected withdrawals from their TFSAs to pretax amounts to put all retirement income on an equal footing.

Looking at their investment portfolios, the planner finds that Mike's is overly conservative "with very little foreign exposure." Mary's, in contrast, is aggressive. "Considered together, it isn't a bad mix," he says. Even so, they should adjust their holdings so that they each have similar investments. "Otherwise, their withdrawal plans will become skewed and unnecessarily complicated."

Mary and Mike asked whether they should include annuities in their retirement income plan, Mr. Cherney says. Because interest rates are so low, annuities are not paying a lot at the moment. If they do want to include annuities, he suggests they "wait for some time before buying them."

They also wonder whether they should rent downtown or buy again after they retire. "The answer depends on many factors," the planner says: rental rates; the purchase price of a downtown condo, including legal fees and tax; the carrying costs of a new condo; what rate of return they could get if they rented and invested the sale proceeds of their current condo; the expected rate of appreciation of the downtown condo; and "personal preference, for example, pride of ownership."

Want a free financial facelift? E-mail Some details may be changed to protect the privacy of the persons profiled.


The people: Mike, 56, and Mary, 57

The problem: Should they quit work now, like Mike wants, or stick with another three or four years, like Mary wants?

The plan: They can afford to quit next spring, but just barely. It would be a compromise.

If they do, they should take advantage of pension splitting.

The payoff: An appreciation of the tradeoffs involved in whatever decision they make.

Monthly net income: $11,500

Assets: Cash in bank $5,000; short-term deposits $10,000; his TFSA $38,000; her TFSA $38,000; his RRSP $100,000; her RRSP $300,000; estimated present value of her DB pension plan $594,000; estimated present value of his DB pension plan $522,000; residence $180,000; cottage $150,000.

Total: $1,937,000

Monthly disbursements: Condo fee $255; land lease on cottage $200; property taxes $250; heat, hydro $350; insurance for two properties $285; auto $500; telecom, Internet, TV $300; grocery, drugstore $1,200; clothing $250; gifts $300; personal discretionary (dining, drinks, entertainment, grooming, sports and hobbies, travel) $2,260; pension plan contributions, other payroll deductions $2,850.

Total: $9,000. Surplus available for spending or savings: $2,500 .

Liabilities: None

Associated Graphic


Paddling through Belize
Exploring the world's second-largest barrier reef by stand-up paddleboard lets you see it from fresh angles
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, November 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page T4

SOUTHERN CAYES, BELIZE -- 'Is that where we're heading?" I gesture, carefully, toward a blurry mirage of mangrove trees hovering in the tropical heat, somewhere on the horizon. I am, after all, balancing rather gingerly on a stand-up paddleboard.

"That's South Water Caye, one of Belize's national marine parks," nods my guide Norman Hann. He reckons that it's about eight nautical miles away.

"Looks like it's somewhere off the curve of the Earth," I mutter, a remark that gets a hearty laugh from fellow paddler Jenny Poppitt, one of our group of 10, who along with three Island Expeditions guides will propel ourselves slowly, yet purposefully, over azure Caribbean waters toward the island in the sky.

If the idea of a dozen or so middle-aged paddlers several nautical miles offshore in the Caribbean Sea sounds vaguely dangerous, rest assured that it's not. The Cayes (pronounced "keys") of Belize are protected by the second-largest barrier reef in the world; one that effectively depowers waves and tidal currents. This reef gives the waters off Belize luminescent blues and greens that, along with stunning clarity, make it one of the richest marine environments in the world.

Located a 40-minute skiff ride off Belize's Stann Creek province, the Southern Cayes are popular with divers, sailors, kayakers and snorkelers. But not too popular: The tiny islands that serve as our base camps are usually occupied by fewer than a few dozen people. Local fishermen feed their families and supply the lodges by conch-diving and loading their catch into simple dug-out style canoes.

The skiff drops paddlers off at Tobacco Caye Lodge, which offers the kind of rustic ambience you might find at a northern Ontario fishing lodge. Each tidy cabin is erected on stilts over the sandy shoreline, where you can watch schools of brilliantly coloured fish zigzag in gin-clear waters. A nearby bar pours a rainbow of tropical drinks and serves up Belikin, a tasty lager that seems to command about 95 per cent of the Belize beer market.

Travel occurs relatively early in the day, before the heat and humidity become too much of a good thing. The lure of watching a spectacular sunrise - Belize boasts the best sunrises and sunsets I've ever seen - was enough to get most of us out of bed by 8 each day.

The first two days are spent reviewing stand-up paddling techniques, and then touring into a maze of mangrove-laden islands. Without the local guides to show the way, you might never get out. Days three through five are spent at the larger, slightly more luxurious South Water Caye Lodge. On the crossing from Tobacco Caye to South Water Caye, we stopped to go snorkelling at a reef wall rich with marine life, and later hungrily downed veggie wraps and tropical fruit on a stunning coral beach.

For the core of paddlers who signed up for the trip - that's a bad pun, since three participants were yoga instructors and sported abs that would repel bullets - stand-up paddling was no sweat.

For less co-ordinated males of a certain age, standing and paddling on an inflatable SUP was a bit like trying to paddle a beach ball.

It's nothing, however, that an hour or two of stroke practice won't correct. Hann was the expert, here, displaying a wide range of strokes that, with practice, keep the board stable and upright in even the choppiest waters.

Hann, 45, is a former basketball coach and phys-ed teacher from the nickel mining town of Sudbury, Ont. He moved to British Columbia and ended up teaching school and learning to stand-up paddleboard in the remote First Nations community of Hartley Bay. From there, Hann pioneered island-to-island SUP expeditions in British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest.

"In 2013, Island Expeditions owner Tim Boys asked if I would come down to Belize to train their staff for SUP trips," he said.

"I was excited about the opportunity. ... Frankly, it's easier to get to Belize than it is to go to where I run my summer trips."

While Hann was lead guide for the paddling pointers, the cultural and natural history aspects of the tour - most notably the guided snorkelling trips that broke up our time on the water - were led by Kimike Smith and Cappy Sho. Both guides hail from nearby Dangriga; the most ethnically diverse community in Belize. Their Garifuna heritage is a curious biracial mix of Spanish slaves originally from Nigeria and Carib Indians from the island of St. Vincent who ended up in British Honduras (now Belize) in 1802. Amongst themselves, the Garifuna speak "Kriol," an odd patois of English that visitors to Belize can barely understand.

Trips like this depend on cohesive group dynamics to make them work. While Smith and Sho filled us in on culture and customs (hacking apart coconuts with sabres, anyone?), Hann kept our group from straying too far apart on the water. But perhaps the most memorable moments were the impromptu post-SUP yoga sessions that were led by the toned yogis on our tour.

Sometimes we were at the mercy of the weather and needed to go with the flow. On our penultimate day, the wind whipped up a few offshore breakers and we headed out for an impromptu surf session. Chaos ensued as we struggled to stay balanced in the chop, but when the water is bathwater warm you don't mind a good dunking in return for a smooth ride on a curling wave.

Looking back on the trip, I liked how fellow paddler Dorothy Jordan, a retired court clerk from Nicola Lake, B.C., summed it up. She loved how the island-to-island paddling brought her closer to nature. "It's really special to paddle through these waters and to stop and snorkel on the various reefs. ... Here we were, out in this vast ocean on these tiny boards, with an entire ecosystem below the surface that changed with every paddle stroke."

And sooner or later, you'll reach that island on the horizon.

The writer travelled as a guest of Island Expeditions. It did not review or approve this article.


Island Expeditions is running three lodge-to-lodge SUP adventures to the Southwater Caye Marine Reserve in Belize, leaving on Jan. 30, Feb. 6 and March 5. (Guide Norm Hann is scheduled for the Jan. 31 and Feb. 6 departures.) Trips start at $2,399 a person (double occupancy). Flights are not included. Excursions with guide Norm Hann (Feb. 6 and March 5) are $100 more.

United, Delta and American offer regularly scheduled flights from Toronto to Belize City, with stopovers in Miami or Houston.

Associated Graphic

Island Expeditions starts paddlers off by reviewing stand-up paddling techniques with them at Tobacco Caye Lodge.


Josh Donaldson has gone from near-zero four years ago to Toronto's hero this past season. With the Blue Jays' prospects up in the air going into 2016, one thing fans can count on is their franchise-altering third baseman
Friday, November 20, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S1



Josh Donaldson grew up unhappy in Florida.

His father spent the length of Donaldson's childhood in prison for attacking his mother, among other crimes. Donaldson was a multisport star and, by all accounts, a damaged kid and an insufferable braggart.

He grew so unpopular with his peers, he was forced to move from the local high school in Pensacola to another, one state over in Alabama. He drove three hours each day to get there and back.

He was a college standout (meaning, not good enough to draft out of high school).

He was taken 48th (meaning promising, but no sure thing). He was traded before he'd ever played a big-league game (meaning, roster chum in the making).

He was at that point a catcher. Evidently, not a very good one. After a half-dozen frustrating seasons in the minors, he decided to switch positions. As usual, he didn't ask anyone. He went to winter ball in the Dominican Republic and told coaches there he was a third baseman. So he played at third.

During spring training the following year, Donaldson happened to be standing nearby when Oakland's starting third baseman tore up his knee during a fielding drill.

Donaldson told that while the other guy was being dragged off the field, he turned to the manager and said, "You want me to go over there?" "Over there" meaning third base. The manager waved him over. And he never left.

That's how bizarre and wonderful baseball can be.

Four years ago, Josh Donaldson was an undersized afterthought, a 26-year-old bantam rooster trying to catch someone's attention. Today, he is the American League's most valuable player, and one of the top five position players in the game.

When we trace back the season that was - the Jays' best in nearly a quarter-century - the story should begin late on the evening of Nov. 28, 2014. As word began to spread that Donaldson had been traded from Oakland to Toronto for homegrown migraine Brett Lawrie, every long-time watcher of the team was forced jarringly into a state of reconsideration.

For five years, then-GM Alex Anthopoulos had made a series of smart (and, very occasionally, not-so-smart) moves that hadn't really amounted to anything.

They were workmanlike, riskaverse and tended to make his team incrementally better. You don't get anywhere in baseball in increments. You take great leaps, either through good luck or outsized aspiration.

Donaldson was a shift. This was Anthopoulos entering the kamikaze stage of his time in Toronto.

In the last year of his contract, he knew he was being fitted for concrete shoes. Turns out, he was right. So he changed his approach.

He gave away three good prospects for Oakland's all-star in order to fill a hole that wasn't really a hole. It was the first signal that Anthopoulos was willing to give away all his minor-league capital for a winning majorleague season. There is a dotted line from Donaldson to Troy Tulowitzki to David Price and all the little, indispensable pieces in between.

Had it not worked from the outset, we wouldn't have seen that flurry at the deadline and, at least for a moment, watched Rogers cut the tethers of financial prudence.

Donaldson would say later that it took him weeks to wrap his head around the trade. After two phenomenal seasons, the guy who'd worked so hard to show up all the people who told him he wasn't good enough was being told that again. You can imagine how it might unwind some players, at least for the first while. You half-expected Donaldson to roll into spring training wild-eyed and looking to bury the Oakland A's.

There was none of that. Not a hint. If Donaldson was a bonehead as a kid, you wouldn't know it now. Few Jays, past or present, seem as purposeful and at ease with themselves.

You see him gamboling around the clubhouse in a spaghettistrap muscle shirt with his hair tied back in a samurai top-knot, swinging his bat like an axe and you think, "This is not the look of a conformist." But it works.

Some people just fit. Donaldson is one of those people.

By May, he was the best player on the team. In June, around the time he went three rows into the stands to preserve a Marco Estrada perfect game, he was everyone's favourite player. In July, it seemed as if his MVP push was going to be the only real point to the season. In August, after everything changed, he had one of the best individual months in team history (.324 batting average, .408 on-base percentage, .724 slugging percentage).

On a purely statistical basis, second-place finisher Mike Trout probably should have won the MVP. Apparently, and to their credit, voters preferred etymology to math. As in, what "valuable" actually means. Donaldson was the man who turned Toronto into a winner, on the field and off. His arrival signalled the shifting tide.

Donaldson is under team control for three more seasons. Apparently, he's happy to go year-to-year through arbitration.

It frees the Jays from the difficult decision of whether to sign him long-term right now, considering that, at nearly 30, he's not a young pro.

It still isn't clear where the Blue Jays are headed now. Rental ace Price (ninth in MVP voting) will go elsewhere through free agency. Without him, the rotation is one blown tire from substandard.

If next season starts to go sideways, there will be pressure to trade Jose Bautista (eighth in MVP voting) or Edwin Encarnacion (12th), both of whom will be free agents at year's end. Even if it all works out, it's highly doubtful you can keep both those guys.

After the highs of 2015, it could get mediocre in a hurry.

The one thing that will not change is Donaldson.

He is more than just the best Toronto Blue Jays player. He's the one unsullied by the team's past.

When we think of Donaldson, all we think of is winning. The MVP award seals it.

Four years after Donaldson asked to go "over there," he ended up here. He changed a franchise. If it has any hopes of staying changed, that will in large part be up to him.

Follow me on Twitter: @cathalkelly

Associated Graphic

Josh Donaldson played 158 games for the Toronto Blue Jays this past season, and earned his title of most-valuable player.


Astronomically high yields not for the faint of heart
Wednesday, November 25, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B12

At a time when government bonds yield less than 1 per cent, it may be a surprise to discover that it is possible to invest in a basket of Canadian convertible bonds issued by companies listed on the TSX with yields to maturity in excess of 20 per cent.

Clearly, these astronomical yields are telling us that investors place a low probability on the bonds paying off in full at maturity. Although it is true that these bonds are extremely risky, recent work in behavioural finance tells us that investors feel greater pain from a loss than pleasure from a comparable gain. So it is possible that the risk is overstated and the bonds, as a group, are inefficiently priced. In other words, a bargain for well-diversified investors.

The year to date has provided a crash course in all the things that can go wrong when investing in high-yield bonds, which may be a good starting point before getting behind the wheel. But first, a quick description of a "busted convertible."

A convertible bond provides the holder with the option to receive payment at or before maturity in the form of shares in the underlying company at a fixed conversion rate or price, typically a small premium to the stock price at the time of issue. This option is valuable if the stock price rises over time, but if the company faces hardship and the stock price craters, the option has no value and the bond price usually deteriorates because investors are concerned that the problems facing the company will spill over into the balance sheet. At that point, we have a busted convertible bond.

In thinking of what can go wrong, the worst-case scenario is for the company to simply default and there is no recovery for the investor. It is true that you own a bond, but after the bank and secured creditors have been paid, there will be nothing left for those lower down on the totem pole.

This outcome unfolded for holders of convertible debentures in Armtec Infrastructure Inc. in April of this year when it filed for protection under Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act. It is difficult to believe that a company involved in basic infrastructure services could go out of business at a time when governments see this as a priority, but high financial leverage and poor bidding discipline are problematic in every industry.

The remaining scenarios are not necessarily fatal, but will almost certainly result in a change in the terms of initial investment.

In order to stave off a looming maturity, the company may try to negotiate a deferral. In order to do so, management will likely offer sweeteners such as an improved coupon rate, a lower conversion price or some other bonus.

Almost all convertible bonds permit the issuing company to pay off the principal at maturity in common stock rather than cash. The value of the shares to be issued is based on the price prevailing at maturity, not the much higher conversion price, so there will likely be huge dilution for the common shareholders. The good news is that you receive shares worth the full face value of your bond; the bad news is that everyone else is in a selling mode, too.

Just this month on Nov. 9, Anderson Energy (AXL) proposed to redeem both issues of convertible debentures at a conversion price of 4 cents a share. If approved, the share count will go from 172 million to a staggering 2.8 billion.

This option does not require the company to redeem the entire issue in the form of shares: On Nov. 13, Data Group Ltd. (DGI) announced that it would redeem with shares 75 per cent of its outstanding 6-per-cent convertibles due in June, 2017. The result will be a share count in excess of 500 million, up from 23.5 million currently, but the transaction will presumably make the balance of the issue more viable.

Finally, there is an outside possibility that the company's fortunes will be reversed: It will return to financial health and pay off the bonds in full at maturity.

With this range of possible outcomes, it is understandable that investors impose a high risk premium when valuing busted convertible bonds. No matter how much homework you do, there will be unpleasant surprises, so diversification is key. If you have the temperament and financial resources to pursue this strategy, here are some suggestions for further research: 6 IBI Group (IBG) is a consolidator of architectural consulting firms with headquarters in Toronto. It has several issues of convertibles outstanding with yields ranging from 18 per cent to 22 per cent.

The 7 per cent of June 30, 2019, yield only 18 per cent because the conversion price at $5 is a feasible target over the next four years while the other issues have higher yields to compensate for a conversion price closer to $20.

5N Plus (VNP) produces very high purity metals for technology and pharmaceutical applications.

The 53/4-per-cent convertibles of June 30, 2019, have a conversion price of $6.75 compared with the current stock price around $1.20, which accounts for the yield to maturity of 16 per cent.

Fortress Paper (FTP) is struggling to achieve profitability at its dissolving pulp specialty paper mill in Thurso, Que. The bonds are convertible at $37.50 and come due in December, 2016, so the yield to maturity of 28 per cent suggests this is not going to happen.

Zargon Oil & Gas (ZAR) represents the confluence of two of the most-hated sectors in the market today - energy and busted convertibles - so it is a contrarian's dream investment. This oil and gas junior has an issue of 6-percent bonds maturing in June, 2017, with a conversion price of $18.80 and a current stock price around $1. The board is currently exploring strategic alternatives.

No wonder the yield to maturity on the bond is 46 per cent.

Investment articles usually end with a reminder to do your own research before investing and that certainly applies here. Based on the indicated yields, at least one of the four companies listed above will default before maturity and you should be mentally prepared for that. In addition, it should be obvious that investing in busted convertibles is not for the faint of heart, so part of that research should be a little self-examination of your own tolerance for risk.

Robert Tattersall, CFA, is co-founder of the Saxon family of mutual funds and the retired chief investment officer of Mackenzie Investments.

IBI Group (IBG) Close: $2.30, up 2¢ 5N Plus (VPN) Close: $1.12, up 2¢ Fortress Paper (FTP) Close: $4.95, up 22¢ Zargon Oil & Gas (ZAR) Close: 98¢, up 6¢

Saving Granville's artsy vibe
Emily Carr University's exit from Granville Island in 2017 raises fears the eclectic Vancouver area will change. But administrators promise arts will continue to reign over corporate interests
Tuesday, November 24, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B8

In a corner of one of the most carefully cultivated pieces of Canadian real estate, a small group regularly breaks into an exalted-warrior sweat.

Semperviva Yoga has a little studio nestled in a tiny pocket of Granville Island in central Vancouver, amongst the collection of other pockets of local businesses, artisanal shops, artists' studios, remnants of older heavy industry and overflowing food stands, all on what would otherwise be ultravaluable property.

Yet being Crown land, administered by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., Granville Island is an oasis, operating outside normal commercial, real-estate rules.

However, with one of its largest tenants, art school Emily Carr University, leaving in the summer of 2017, Granville Island is in the process of change.

Commercial landlords regularly talk about the feel of property and a certain niche of tenants.

Yet rarely is that so carefully and so successfully crafted as with Granville Island. And any change is a concern.

When Emily Carr leaves, "I think it's going to be kind of sad not to have that buzz down there, with the students walking around," said Amanda Barnard, a co-ordinator at the Semperviva yoga studio and an artist herself.

"They have an art gallery down there. So it's really nice that anyone who is working in the area has access to walk through the school and have a little taste of art on their lunch break."

Yet, like most regulars on the Island (which is really a peninsula of land on False Creek), she believes an assortment of new tenants in the Emily Carr space once the university leaves could add new vibrancy.

There are plans to convert Emily Carr's current North Building (which sits closer to the water) into a mix of artists' studios, possibly a brew pub and an urban winery and some office space - with plans for more studios, offices and an entertainment venue on the upper floor. For the South Building across the street, the hope is to have an arts institution or possibly a museum as a tenant.

By the fall of 2017, Emily Carr University will have left for its new campus farther east along False Creek, taking with it nearly 2,000 full-time and another roughly 2,000 part-time art students who give the Island much of its daily vitality, among the tourists and food-market regulars. The two buildings aren't directly in the most central, high pedestrian-traffic area of the Island. Yet the move will leave a noticeable hole.

The question is how much this may change the flavour of the entire Island.

CMHC has promised not to divert from the area ambience and will continue to support artists and artisan businesses. And it will continue to block the entrance of any retail chains. (Inevitably, there's a Starbucks nearby, but it's a little up the hill from the Granville Island entrance.)

"The foundations that have made Granville Island what it is - where we don't allow chains or franchises on the island, we focus on local business, we focus on this creative mix of artisans and light industry - that's still the same," said Scott Fraser, manager of public affairs and programming for CMHC on Granville Island. "There's not going to be any change in the fundamental principles of Granville Island, when we look at the redevelopment here."

There was concern when word spread over the previous two years that Ottawa was considering transferring administration of the Island to harbour authority Port Metro Vancouver, potentially altering the Island's noncommercial feel. Ten million visitors descend onto the postindustrial Granville Street bridge each year.

Many are tourists, but most (80 per cent) are Vancouverites regularly buying at the Public Market, shopping at tiny stores, attending local theatre or a small yoga class.

But CMHC insisted that a change in administration is no longer being considered. "That particular discussion is definitely dead and gone, and we're not aware of any other discussion happening in any other circles right now for a change of management," Mr. Fraser said.

"Granville Island was founded on this mix of different ... communities," he said. "So, there's the Public Market. There are the artists. There's the institutional use, which Emily Carr was a part of, and there are other places like Arts Umbrella, with its [children's and teens'] arts education.

"There is also maritime heritage. And there's also the industry part of it," Mr. Fraser added, featuring the last of the area's industrial past with Ocean Concrete and its towering concrete silos and the metal works company Micon Products.

It's this carefully maintained mix that long-standing tenants don't want to see altered, while they also welcome new tenants that fit the Granville Island sensibility.

"I really hope that Granville Island will rise to this opportunity," said Denise Carson Wilde, coowner of the small, stylish paper and stationery store Paper-ya.

Her store has been on the Island for 30 years. "The mandate for CMHC has always been to really control who is down there, what kinds of stores are down there.

Not having big-box stores, not having bigger corporations. To keep that kind of independent, artistic, creative vibe happening.

"It is essential for Granville Island," she said.

What the vibe needs, as CMHC hints and which business people and artists such as Ms. Barnard at her yoga studio say they welcome, is a younger wave of tenants. "The opportunity here is for the buildings to provide space for that next generation of innovators, to set up shop and make Granville Island their home and their home base of operations," said Sebastian Lippa, a planner with CMHC.

Giving lower-rent space to artists and artisans "has been so instrumental in the career development of many of the producers and creative makers that launched their careers with the start of Granville Island in the late 1970s," Mr. Lippa said. "We have an opportunity to do that again on a large scale."

This is the first of two stories on Emily Carr University's relocation.

The second story appears next week in Property Report.


11.5% Biggest one-week REIT gainer: Lanesborough. CIBC

5.2% Biggest one-week REIT decliner: Dream Office. CIBC

2.2 millon Square footage of office space under construction in Vancouver. CBRE

50% Percentage of the new Vancouver space that will be completed and delivered for occupancy in the fourth quarter of 2015. CBRE

Associated Graphic

The Public Market is a mainstay of Granville Island, the Vancouver oasis for local businesses and artisans. Shop owner Denise Carson Wilde, centre left, speaking with customer Lisa Robison, says it's essential 'to keep that kind of independent, artistic, creative vibe happening.'


Behind Abbas Kiarostami's closed doors
Long known for his movies, the acclaimed Iranian director prepares for his new photography exhibit at the Aga Khan Museum
Special to The Globe and Mail
Friday, November 20, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R4

Considered one of the great masters of world cinema, Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami is lesser known for his photography and poetry. Hopefully, this lack of awareness will soon change with his new Doors Without Keys photo exhibition at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto. The installation features Kiarostami's detailed photographs of doors taken in France, Italy, Iran and Morocco, presented in a labyrinthine space. Paint-peeled, weathertorn and bearing witness to a bygone era, the doors evoke a sense of curiosity and wonder. The exhibition is accompanied by wall inscriptions of Kiarostami's poetry and soundscapes taken from his short films.

As an autodidact multidisciplinary artist, Kiarostami found respite in photographing nature during and after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, when filmmaking became a volatile business in Iran. The Globe and Mail sat down with Kiarostami to discuss the connection between his photography and cinema, and how doors have changed around the world.

You once said taking digital photos offered more freedom, but that film is thoughtful and reflective - qualities I'd ascribe to your work. Have your thoughts changed on this subject?

I've since quit film and I'm sure I would've done something else if digital hadn't appeared in the field. I couldn't take having such a bad-tempered and unfriendly 'partner' to work with any longer. I don't know if this feeling came out of working with film itself or the labs, which at the time weren't so advanced in Iran. But now I have this beautiful partner called digital that I'm devoted to. Digital photography is unfinished photography: It helps you go along part of the path, and then you get to go home and finish it the way you wish in your own personal lab.

Your earlier photos of trees and nature taken in Iran could have been from anywhere in the world. Some read into this politically, as the photos show the universality of landscapes and geography. Similarly, in this exhibit, we don't know exactly where each door came from. We can only guess.

It does not really matter where they were taken. For visitors, it's quite difficult to distinguish the context, but of course the doors are also testimonies of their history and culture. The juxtaposition of the doors is a sign of how close these cultures are, or were, at least, because they all had the same definition and meaning of a door. Doors have changed dramatically in the last two decades. They're now very different according to the culture you are in, and they're no longer what they used to be. But as you stand behind them like you can in this exhibition, you feel like they will never open to let you in.

The closed doors pique the viewer's curiosity to know what's behind them. Your films also pose questions to the viewer that they don't necessarily answer. Do you consciously seek to provoke viewers?

For people of my generation, the idea of these doors is an experience that we all share.

Maybe for people of your generation there is a curiosity of what is going on behind the door. And for the younger generation, kids who are being born now, it's a mystery how we ever lived with doors like these. Kids need that transparency, they need to know what's behind them. How was it ever possible to live with a door that hides the other side from you? There were doors in which messages were carved on them, that said, 'I came, you are not here, and I left.' God knows who came and why they left. At the time, there weren't phones so you couldn't even call to say, 'I'm coming.' You would just go and bang on the door, and hope for someone to answer. There was no ringer, there was no box to leave a note. This is the meaning of the closed door, and the will of the person behind it, to either open it to you, or not. This is the experience of the unknown.

What's behind the door for you?

It's not that I don't want to answer this question, it's that I can't. I don't think any of us can. All we can do is guess and imagine what's behind the door. Maybe that's why it's difficult for the younger generation to conceive. These are doors from a different period, when they didn't have codes. Nowadays, you can't find a single door without a code. If you have the code or key, you can open the door. Back then, you were dependent on the other person to maybe come and open it for you. Personally, the doors are evocative of those old days. It reminds me of my grandmother's door. I remember it would take her ages to open it, and she'd have her hands on her knees from the kinds of pain that people today no longer have to keep suffering from. There was also maybe the pain of not having her children visit her as often as she wished.

Photography and poetry are introverted arts, while filmmaking is intensely collaborative. How does your process differ?

Photography is an individual process. There is much less external intervention than filmmaking, which can be generally disruptive, if not destructive. Photography lets you go where you want to go. That's not the case of cinema. Whether we want to or not, and even if we claim we don't, we have to pay attention to the audience's taste and expectations and our relationship with the film's financial investment. I often say a photo is a single-shot film. It's a film without this narrative responsibility and obligation of telling a story. When you take a picture, you can take it home, judge what you want to do with it and then maybe present it to others. As a viewer, you are free to have your own interpretation, to tell your own story and build your own narrative, and I'm free of the responsibility to create a linear narrative that has to relate me to the viewer, or that has to relate different viewers together.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Abbas Kiarostami: Doors Without Keys runs at Toronto's Aga Khan Museum through March 27 ( Kiarostami will also appear for a discussion of his cinematic career at TIFF Bell Lightbox on Nov. 23 (

Associated Graphic

Abbas Kiarostami 's show Doors Without Keys is on exhibit at the Aga Khan Museum from Nov. 21 to March 27, 2016.


How to get away with a progressive agenda
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, November 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R16

In the 1994 film Reality Bites, there's a monologue that could easily represent an entire generation's terrified thinking on the topic of HIV. As Vickie (Janeane Garofalo) waits on her test results, she relays her anxiety to friend Lelaina (Winona Ryder).

"Every day, all day, it's all that I think about, okay?" she says.

"Every time I sneeze, it's like I'm four sneezes away from the hospice, and it's like it's not even happening to me. It's like I'm watching it on some crappy show like Melrose Place. And I'm the new character, I'm the HIV-AIDS character, and I live in the building and I teach everybody that it's okay to be near me, it's okay to talk to me, and then I die. And there's everybody at my funeral wearing halter tops and chokers."

Many of us who came of age in the nineties grew up irrationally terrified of contracting the disease. We were victims of scare-tactic sexual education, spoon-fed high-drama media depictions of both the risk and the ramifications of the virus. It was a feeling we were unable to shake, even as medical advancements meant that HIV became something you can prevent, treat and live with.

Vickie is right to mention prime-time drama as a defining point in our collective (and sustained) anxiety. The same year Reality Bites was released, Melrose Place really did feature a shortlived, lesson-teaching HIV-positive character, while NBC's ER devoted eight full episodes of its first season to addressing AIDS. A few years later, 90210's Kelly Taylor volunteered at an AIDS hospice and the show introduced a patient who eventually dies, three episodes later, with Kelly at his bedside.

Television was once rife with didactic prop characters used to teach viewers that anyone can contract the virus. When Degrassi High introduced AIDS into its narrative in 1990 - way ahead of its American counterparts - HIVpositive Dwayne Myers primarily functioned as a way to let young people that HIV wasn't a "gay disease" and that schoolmates couldn't become infected by sharing a seat in a classroom. "You can talk to them, you can shake their hand, hug them, that's all safe."

Twenty years after Vickie lamented Melrose Place, though, the treatment of HIV-positive characters on television has shifted with both attitudes and medical advancements. Witness How To Get Away With Murder and its recently diagnosed character Oliver Hampton (Conrad Ricamora).

In some ways, his storyline plays out with that familiar 1990s afterschool special tone. Oliver is the "good boy" half of his coupling with the promiscuous Connor Walsh (Jack Falahee). His diagnosis was written as an unexpected and shocking revelation, allowing the show to deliver that standard, decades-old messaging that anyone is at risk.

But as his story picks up in the second season, things become more progressive. The pair stay together, with Connor enthusiastic to have sex, and moving in to show his commitment to working through and with the diagnosis.

It's a warm and honest portrait of a couple navigating the workable realities of HIV, one that doesn't suggest the news is dire, but instead needs to be incorporated into their lives. In a show known for its extreme twists and occasionally unbelievable plot lines, their relationship is grounded in a very human reality. Beyond that, Oliver's status is a detail - not the sole dramatic reason for his existence on the show - a remarkable change in the mainstream when it comes to depicting those living with HIV.

I asked Mason McColl, the gay men's online strategy and resource co-ordinator for the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT), to watch the show and share his thoughts on this new, very different approach. "The way the show navigated Connor's fear of getting tested and the couple's negotiation of testing, condomless sex and monogamy, those are stories that we see play out in real life, and we have seen depicted in gay media before, but never so boldly in a mainstream show," he told me.

The show also does a good job of modelling appropriate behaviour for allies. Far from the Degrassi open classroom chats, HTGAWM sends a clear message about privacy issues, with Connor, for instance, chastised for disclosing Oliver's HIV status to his colleagues. (Asher, the bumbling privileged dude component of the show's casting, is also mocked for his attempt at empathy through a laughable "Philadelphia's one of my favourite movies" line.)

But what's most notable is when Oliver expresses his reluctance to have sex if he's putting his partner in danger, Connor responds that he's on PrEP. The show gives very little exposition in terms of what PrEP actually is, or how the drug is changing the landscape of HIV prevention.

PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is an option for those who are at high risk of contracting HIV (such as those who, like Connor, are in relationships with people who are infected). The drug is used consistently, as a pill taken daily, and often combined with other safer sex methods such as condoms.

It's currently not approved in Canada, but is prescribed "off label," meaning doctors offer the drug (Truvada) for reasons other than what it is officially available for.

Without approval from Health Canada, many doctors are unwilling to prescribe PrEP off label, and using PrEP may not be able to get insurance to cover the high cost of the drug. Yet HTGAWM is talking about the drug in a high-profile space, encouraging viewers to ask questions and arm themselves with information.

"If nothing else, [HTGAWM] will introduce a new concept to the general public, who for the most part, especially in Canada, don't know about PrEP," McColl says.

All this, of course, doesn't mean the work is done when it comes to HIV on TV.

Despite being a commendable addition to the landscape, Oliver is still constructed as the quintessential relatable nice guy, meaning viewers are apt forgive him for the circumstances that led to his diagnosis. As McColl rightly points out, if Connor had been the one to receive a positive test result, we'd be having a very different conversation - one about the blame and stigma that continues to be heaped upon those who engage in casual sex.

Cautious caveats aside, HTGAWM's storyline is admirable advocacy via realistic portrayal, lacking the fear and heavy-handed moral dictums of decades past.

Perhaps this signals the start of a new and better informed conversation - one that's less about being terrified while waiting on test results, and more about feeling empowered when they arrive.

Even intermediate skiers can schuss the peaks of two countries in one day at Portes du Soleil. Its 400 square kilometres straddle Switzerland and France - which means the only question more difficult than 'Where to ski?' is 'Where to eat?'
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, November 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page T1

CHAMPÉRY, SWITZERLAND -- 'Make love to the snow with your feet." An instructor (Italian, of course) had once dispensed that advice about skiing in a whiteout. Like the snowy one that envelops my husband, Peter, and me at 2,100 metres on a mountain in Switzerland. Or maybe we're in France. ... As I said, I really can't see.

Nor can my legs beguile the blizzard into submission. Lost in the white vortex, I tumble into an unseen snowdrift.

The flip side to a blizzard - the yin to tempestuous yang - is the powder playground the following day. Peter and I awaken to snow dusting wooden chalets and an 18th-century church with a steeple shaped like a crown. Even better, 60-centimetre mounds on slopes above town. On every ski run, we etch fresh tracks in buffed drifts.

We're based in Champéry, Switzerland, a 700-year-old village cocooned in a narrow valley that looks like a wintertime set for The Sound of Music - Part 2. The mountains looming above us are the Alps. And my topographic tizzy - am I in Switzerland? France? - comes because we're skiing Portes du Soleil, one of the world's largest ski areas.

Whistler Blackcomb, North America's biggest ski area, holds two mountains and 33 square kilometres of terrain. Portes du Soleil ("gateway to the sun") encompasses nearly 400 square kilometres and several mountain ranges.

Twelve interlinked resorts sprawl between Mont Blanc in France and Lake Geneva in Switzerland. Four ski areas lie on the Swiss side and eight on the French. All can be reached with one affordable lift pass.

With nearly 300 ski runs stretching for 650 kilometres, skiers and snowboarders can explore for a week and never carve the same route twice. Despite the vastness, it's easy to schuss from country to country, thanks to trail signs that point in the direction of each resort: Champéry, Les Crosets, Morzine, Morgins and so on.

Nearly 80 per cent of the marked runs are easy to intermediate. But off-piste offers experts the opportunity to hurtle from cornices into gravity-defying couloirs.

With so many choices of where to ski, Peter and I streamline decision-making into a simple question: What do we want for lunch?

Steak-frites (grilled steak with fries) on the French side, or raclette (melted cheese on potatoes) on the Swiss side? The region holds 90 restaurants, many of them occupying former chalets d'alpages (alpine huts).

One sunny morning, we decide to circle through the Swiss villages. From the 2,140-metre heights of Pointe des Mossettes, we enjoy stunning views of Les Dents-duMidi, seven adjacent summits that resemble giant teeth (dents).

A series of lifts and intermediate trails through pine-y woods leads to the petite burg of Champoussin and La Ferme à Gaby, a restaurant famous for artisanal cheeses. The cheese maker tells us that when he tastes the milk, he knows whether the cows and goats have grazed on the sunny or shady side of the mountain.

This being Europe, we indulge in wine with our lunch. Swiss wines are as big a secret as the names behind those numbered bank accounts in Zurich. "Switzerland is too cold, too snowy, too high," many wine lovers think.

But vineyards have been cultivated in the region for more than 2,000 years.

Peter and I become enamoured of chasselas, a white that offers bright citrus flavours; and cornalin, a red grape diva that produces spicy wine that pairs well with grilled fowl and game.

For our last ski day, we plan to do "the circuit" - a circumnavigation of the resorts from Switzerland to France and back again.

Even intermediates can undertake the itinerary, which can be tackled in either a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction.

We opt for counter-clockwise for a reason that becomes vertiginously obvious when we ride the Chavanette lift to the crest of the Swiss/French border. A flotilla of multilingual signs - all translating as "danger!" - guards entry to an icy 50-degree slope with moguls that hulk two metres across.

La Chavanette - also called the Swiss Wall and referred to as "The Wall of Death" - rules as the daredevil challenge at Portes du Soleil.

Trail maps classify the run with the colour orange, which means that they're more perilous than the black-labelled runs.

Maybe next time. We instead enjoy some lovely blue/intermediate-level runs in France before an assemblage of buildings rises in the distance: Avoriaz.

Poised on a sheer-faced plateau, Avoriaz was purpose-built as a ski resort in the 1960s. (Frenchman Jean Vuarnet - of both Olympic downhill gold medal and sunglasses fame - was one of the developers.) Its buildings look more like high-rise spacecraft than Heidi-esque chalets.

No cars are permitted, and people ski through town. Avoriaz is a major centre for snowboarders and freestylers because of its three snow parks, a super-pipe and a boarder-cross course.

We're hungry for lunch, so we ask a Swiss companion on a chairlift for recommendations. "Go to Restaurant Chez Coquoz - it's the best," he advises.

Perched on the Swiss side at Planachaux, the restaurant uses mountain herbs and plants in both traditional and nouveau recipes. Today, the special is mountain-grass gnocchi with nuts - earthy, savoury and delectable.

Peter and I enjoy our meal on the outside deck, gazing toward the Dents-du-Midi summits that gnash at the horizon. On my first day skiing Portes du Soleil, I fell down in a blizzard. A week later in sunshine, these mountains can still sweep me off my feet.


The Portes du Soleil ski area is open from mid-December to mid-April ( The closest international airport is Geneva. From there, trains head for main rail gateways to Portes du Soleil in Switzerland and France. Book an overnight flight to Geneva and you can conceivably ski Portes du Soleil the afternoon of your arrival.

A six-day lift ticket costs about $355.

Staying in Champéry: The town offers numerous small hotels, most family-run. Set in a renovated 1896 building, Hotel National offers 24 guest accommodations in the heart of the village. Late risers should request a room away from the church, where bells peal at 6 a.m. Rooms from $345;

Different slopes: Thanks to train connections, it's easy to explore other top ski resorts nearby, including Crans-Montana (a World Cup venue), Verbier and Zermatt (ski into Italy with great views of the Matterhorn).

Associated Graphic

Portes du Soleil, one of the world's largest ski areas, features 12 resorts, 285 slopes and 196 mountain lifts.


Fight the battle of the bulge with prebiotics
Eating foods such as asparagus and bananas that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria is linked to a lower risk of weight gain
Tuesday, November 24, 2015 – Print Edition, Page L5

For many people, excess weight creeps on slowly. U.S. research, for example, indicates that, after age 20, most Americans put on one or two pounds each year.

Canadians, too, are getting heavier. Over the past 30 years, the number of overweight adults rose by 21 per cent and obesity jumped by 200 per cent, to 18 per cent from 6 per cent.

While the usual culprits - too much food, too little exercise - account for most weight gain, research published earlier this month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that a diet lacking prebiotic-packed foods can also contribute to excess pounds over time.

Prebiotics are fibrous, non-digestible carbohydrates that, once consumed, make their way to the colon where they fuel the growth of beneficial, probiotic bacteria (e.g., bifiodobacteria and lactobacilli). Feeding probiotic bacteria in the gut is believed to promote better overall health.

Certain strains of probiotic bacteria are thought to to enhance the immune system, treat traveller's diarrhea, ease lactose intolerance, reduce the severity of inflammatory bowel disease and, possibly, lower the risk of colorectal cancer.

The idea that gut bacteria also play a role in weight control is being increasingly recognized by scientists.

The most common type of prebiotics are called fructans, carbohydrates found in artichokes, asparagus, bananas, chicory, dandelion root, garlic, jicama, leeks, onions and whole grains (barley, rye, wheat). Inulin, a fructan extracted from chicory root, is added to many food products such as breads, pastas (such as Catelli Smart Pasta), fruit juices and yogurt to boost fibre content.

Another member of the prebiotic family are galacto-oligosaccharides, or GOS, carbohydrates that occur naturally in breast milk and can also be produced from the milk sugar lactose. Fermented dairy products such as yogurt, buttermilk and kefir contain GOS prebiotics.

For the new study, Spanish researchers followed 8,569 normal weight adults, average age 37, for an average of nine years to evaluate the link between prebiotic consumption and the risk of becoming overweight.

Participants reported their body weight at the beginning of the study and every two years during the nine-year follow-up.

Consumption of fructans and GOS was measured at baseline and at study completion.

People with the highest intake of prebiotics - both fructans and GOS - were significantly less likely to become overweight over time than those who consumed the least, even after adjusting for diet and lifestyle factors related to weight gain.

This longitudinal study - one of the first to examine prebiotic intake and weight gain - suggests that eating more prebiotic-containing foods can mitigate adult weight gain, presumably by altering the composition of gut bacteria.

The study didn't collect stool samples from participants and, as a result, could not determine the composition of their gut microbiota, a collective term for the trillions of microbes that reside in our gut.

Even so, these results add to other research findings suggesting a connection between the foods you eat, your gut microbiota and body weight. Studies have shown that eating a diet low in fibre and high in fat and refined carbohydrates disrupts the makeup of gut bacteria in favour of weight gain.

When bacteria feed on prebiotics, compounds called shortchain fatty acids (SCFAs) are formed in the process. Certain SCFAs have been shown to increase the release of appetitesuppressing hormones in the gut and reduce calorie intake.

Studies conducted in obese rodents have demonstrated the ability of SCFAs to increase calorie-burning and improve insulin sensitivity.

Certainly, additional longitudinal studies are needed to confirm the role of prebiotic-rich foods in body-weight regulation. In the meantime, though, there's no reason not to add these nutritious foods to your diet. (Keep in mind, though, higher intakes of prebiotics may cause bloating and gas in certain people with irritable bowel syndrome, so add these foods gradually.)

Leslie Beck, a registered dietitian, is based at the Medisys clinic in Toronto.


To keep helpful gut bacteria flourishing, include these prebiotic foods in your diet. (Prebiotics are not destroyed by cooking.)

Asparagus: High in prebiotic carbohydrates called fructans, asparagus delivers plenty of potassium, vitamin A, vitamin K and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals. It's also one of the best food sources of folate, a B vitamin that keeps DNA in cells in good repair. Eight asparagus spears contain almost half a day's worth of the vitamin (179 mcg). Adults need 400 mcg of folate per day. Add it to stir-fries, pasta dishes, risotto, soups, omelettes, frittatas and vegetable platters.

Jerusalem artichokes: Not truly artichokes, these small brown-skinned tubers are packed with fructans and potassium, a mineral that helps keep blood pressure in check. Prepare Jerusalem artichokes as you would parsnips.

Purée roasted artichokes with chicken or vegetable stock to make soup. Or add julienned slices of Jerusalem artichoke to salads and coleslaw.

Jicima: This inulin-containing root vegetable, cultivated in Central and South America, is a good source of fibre and vitamin C. It also offers small amounts of B vitamins and minerals. Pronounced "heekuh-muh," jicama looks a bit like a turnip, although the two vegetables aren't related. Its mild flavour and crisp texture make raw jicama a good addition to green salads, bean salads, salsas and crudités. It can also be added to stir-fries or sautéed on its own as a side dish.

Kefir: Kefir serves up a hefty does of probiotic cultures - typically three times the amount found in yogurt. It's also a good source of protein and calcium. Drink kefir on its own, pour it over cereal and granola, or blend it with fruit to make a smoothie. Choose an unflavoured product to reduce added sugars.

Leeks: A milder-tasting member of the onion family, leeks deliver prebiotics along with vitamin A, flavonoids and organosulphur compounds, phytochemicals thought to have anti-cancer properties. Toss finely chopped leeks into salads.

Add sliced leeks to omelettes and frittatas. Stir sautéed leeks into soups and stews for extra flavour.

Whole grains: Whole wheat (100 per cent), whole-grain rye and hulled (dehulled) barley are good sources of prebiotic fibres, protein, magnesium and manganese, a mineral that's needed for normal brain and nerve function and to regulate blood sugar. Serve a side of cooked wheat berries, bulgur (a whole grain wheat) or hulled barley as a change from rice or quinoa. When buying rye bread, look for rye berries, whole rye or rye meal on the ingredient list to be sure you're getting wholegrain rye.

Associated Graphic

In addition to being high in prebiotic fructans, asparagus delivers lots of potassium, vitamin A, vitamin K and phytochemicals.


New land, new home
With 3,000 Syrians about to arrive, Albertans are preparing a warm welcome that includes winter clothes and teddy bears, reports Kelly Cryderman
Saturday, November 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page S1

Arriving in Edmonton as a government-sponsored Syrian refugee last year, Fatima Hamsho says she was pleasantly surprised at how smoothly her arrival in Alberta's capital went.

The widow and her five children were welcomed at the airport, whisked into a taxi and taken to a guest house.

Speaking through an interpreter this week at the office of Edmonton's Catholic Social Services, Ms. Hamsho said her husband was killed at the outset of the Syrian civil war in 2011. Every day until the family left for Lebanon in 2012, she feared for her children's safety at school in their village near Homs.

After 18 months in Canada, Ms. Hamsho - a lawyer in Syria - said her children have different challenges here. They have had to adapt to different curriculum, as well as the cold walk to their schools.

Her best advice to the thousands of new refugees who will come to the country in the months ahead is to focus on getting over the language barrier, and to "respect and appreciate the country where they will be settling in. And also try as much as they can to integrate."

She and her children were part of an early trickle of people who came to Canada fleeing the civil war in their native Syria, and will soon be joined by thousands more. About 3,000 of the 25,000 Syrian refugees set to land in Canada before the end of February will come mainly to five Alberta cities: Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat. Although the federal Liberal government has said the process to resettle refugees will move more slowly than promised during the election campaign, documents circulated to immigrant agencies this week show that by the end of the year, the province could still welcome almost 750 refugees - including 439 in Calgary and 285 in Edmonton.

The work to ensure their introduction to life here goes smoothly is ramping up daily. The provincial government has earmarked $1.25-million - on top of whatever Ottawa eventually offers - and has appointed a provincial refugee co-ordinator.

Agencies are prepared to help three or more times as many refugees as during a regular year.

School boards are preparing for an influx of school-aged children.

Help is coming from all quarters. Dozens of Calgarians showed up at the airport on Monday to greet a group of refugees with gifts, including warm clothes and teddy bears. "Host families" who will help guide the new arrivals through the logistics of everyday life in Canada - including shopping, banking and public transit - are being trained in the city every week. In Lethbridge, Arabic speakers from the Sudanese community are being tapped as interpreters. Edmonton's local Amalgamated Transit Union is spearheading an initiative to distribute hundreds of free bus passes to refugee families.

And Bev Rogan, a retired elementary school librarian, began a campaign this week called Calgary's 1,300 Stitches for Syria to gather hundreds of new knit and crocheted toques, mitts, gloves, scarves and cowls to be distributed to the 1,300 refugees who will come to the city in the months ahead.

"I thought about these young families who are out there with nothing, and moms who are trying to nurse babies and raise kids," she said. "I want to give them a warm welcome and let them know that basically Calgary is going to be their new family."

Ms. Rogan said she worries whether donations might be low due to the province's economic downturn, but in some respects, low crude prices could make it easier for the refugees' arrival. Enerjet, the country's newest charter airline - whose corporate business has been affected by the decrease in oil and gas activity - has offered some of the spare capacity on its Boeing 737s to fly refugees to or within Canada.

"The proud points in the history of Canada are at least to some degree defined by when Canadians rally together to support a humanitarian effort with merit," Enerjet founder and chief commercial officer Darcy Morgan said.

The residential vacancy rate in Calgary and Edmonton is higher than it has been for several years, which could make the search for accommodation easier. An oil company that wishes to remain anonymous has told Edmonton's Catholic Social Services it has modular housing units available.

Big Calgary-based landlords such as Boardwalk Rental Communities and Mainstreet Equity Corp. have announced they will offer new refugees below-market rates on accommodation in the Prairies as well as other parts of Canada.

However, the supply of affordable housing remains a concern.

In Edmonton, refugees could be temporarily placed at CFB Edmonton or in hotels. Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, among others, has asked federal cabinet ministers to review whether the accommodation budget for refugees is adequate to cover marketrate rents.

"Housing will always be an issue," said Fariborz Birjandian, the chief executive of the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society, the city's lead agency in the resettlement of Syrian refugees.

"The only challenge we have is affordability, because of the housing allowance that they make available - a family of four gets less than $700."

Alberta's mid-sized cities will play an important role as well.

Sarah Amies, director of the immigrant services program at Lethbridge Family Services, said her community will welcome 200 to 300 refugees by the end of February.

While many will want to live in Canada's largest cities and close to established Syrian communities, she said smaller centres have benefits as well, including less expensive housing, proximity to services, and not being lost in big-city anonymity.

"I feel desperately sorry for these people coming to southern Alberta in January," Ms. Aimes added. "We're going to have to make sure our welcome is even more warm."

In Edmonton, where up to 1,500 refugees are expected to arrive by the end of February, Stephen Carattini - the chief executive of Catholic Social Services - said numerous Edmontonians have called wanting to volunteer, or with offers of apartments and basement suite rentals for the refugees.

"It will be challenging, but we have no doubt that we will find homes for all of our refugees," Mr. Carattini said.

"I think we all want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves."

Associated Graphic

Fatima Hamsho, whose husband was killed in the Syrian civil war, and her five children now call Edmonton home after arriving from a refugee camp in 2014.


Widow Fatima Hamsho and her sons Jalal, 7, and Al Farouk, 8, read an English-language book together in their Edmonton home on Thursday.


Two-minute bursts - hundreds of hours of practice
The highly rigorous work required of Raptors Dance Pak members makes for a key part of the in-game experience
Saturday, November 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page M4

Onto the brightly lit basketball court the 22 members of the Raptors Dance Pak shimmy into formation, shaking their miniskirts for 20,000 screaming fans crammed inside Toronto's Air Canada Centre.

It's early November, just three weeks into the season, and the home team is trying to bounce back from a two-game losing streak. After three quarters, the New York Knicks are proving an even match for the Raptors and the dancers are moving fast to hype up the crowd.

An NBA basketball game is the funhouse of the modern sporting world: For every stoppage in play, there's a prize giveaway or a call for the crowd to get LOUD.

The DJ fills nearly every silence with booming rock and hip hop.

The Dance Pak is the pulsating human embodiment of that choreographed chaos.

The dancers' two-minute bursts of dancing are the equivalent of an 800-metre run, done with a smile that belies the fitness, talent and dedication required to earn a coveted spot on the squad. "We are a key element of the in-game entertainment and so all our performances need to be full of energy," choreographer Amberley Waddell explains.

A Waterloo, Ont., native, Ms. Waddell started with the Dance Pak at 19. She learned first-hand that for dance to succeed on a 94-by-50-foot basketball court, it needs to be big, bold and bootilicious. No pom-poms, though, just bump-and-grind hip hop and big-kicks jazz dance.

New York choreographer Texie Waterman is credited with having created sports-stadium dance when he was recruited to generate explosive on-field routines for the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders in the 1970s. Ms. Waddell has taken that style and modernized it: The introduction of lunges and squats and the heightened emphasis on muscularity are moves she learned while performing with Beyoncé and Gladys Knight in Los Angeles, and Bette Midler in Las Vegas. Her 40 routines also focus on the little details, such as hand claps over the head, finger snaps and flicks of the wrist and hair.

Each routine is drilled into the pack in a downtown Toronto gym lined with mirrors that grow steamy during the threehour practices. The dancers have been meeting there thrice weekly since passing the audition in July. Throughout the season (which runs from late October to mid-April - and that doesn't include a playoff run), they will clock between 45 and 50 threehour rehearsals to prepare for at least 41 game performances plus community appearances - this year, there is even a game in London. The sessions start with a 30-minute warm-up that includes planks, push-ups and abcrunching sit-ups by the hundreds. The rest is given over to cardio training and figuring out how to dance in the round, a challenge to dancers used to facing front and trained to watch themselves in a mirror.

The talent needed to be a part of the Dance Pak isn't lost on Kenny Pearl, a former dancer with the famed Alvin Ailey and Martha Graham dance companies who was artistic director of Toronto Dance Theatre in the 1980s. Now a senior dance faculty member at Ryerson University, Mr. Pearl has had several Dance Pak members in his classes. "Their bodies can take a beating with the short, highvoltage bursts of energy required of them," he observes.

That they can recover so quickly is another reason Mr. Pearl admires their work.

"I see the Dance Pak as a group of smart, talented, beautiful and powerful women," says Tamara, a 23-year-old rookie, of why she desperately wanted to join. (Dance Pak members do not disclose their surnames so as to keep overzealous fans at bay.) She is a former competitive dancer who runs her own photography studio. "It is very empowering."

It is also highly remunerative, an attractive prospect for dancers who often make much less in their industry. The Dance Pak are employees of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, the company that manages the Raptors and the Toronto Maple Leafs, and are prohibited from disclosing their salaries. But "it's one of the best and most rewarding dance contracts in the city," says Kalina, an office worker by day who teaches at a dance studio on nights when not performing.

This season, there were 250 applicants and fewer than two dozen made the final cut. Even dancers from last season must reaudition.

"There's so much talent present," says Monique, a first-year member who trained as a ballerina. "You have this one opportunity to put it all on the floor for the judges to see or else that's it, you're cut."

For this 24-year-old, the payoff is maintaining a strong connection to dance while engaged in other pursuits such as, say, premed studies at the University of Toronto, where Monique is doing a master's degree in neuroscience.

Game days - usually a 7:30 p.m. start time - mean a 3:30 on-court rehearsal to work out line formations, which are especially important for crowds watching performances from the upper tiers of the ACC. Next, the dancers proceed to the dressing room to do hair and makeup.

Then, it's showtime.

The dancers are on even when they are off the court: running into the stands, tossing giveaway prizes, clapping from the sidelines when the ball is in play, which is what they are doing right now. The Knicks are leading the Raptors by only a few points as the game enters its final minutes. Tensions in the arena run high. The dancers watch nervously on the edges.

They have divided themselves into two squads of 11 dancers in adjacent corridors leading to team dressing rooms. They clap rhythmically, and enthusiastically, urging the crowd to stand and clap along.

If the Raptors can overcome the deficit, the dancers will rush back onto the court to do a victory dance. But in the final seconds, the Knicks hit a succession of free throws and hang on to defeat the Raptors 111-109.

The crowd shuffles home disappointed. The team will regroup. The Dance Pak will strut their stuff at other games.

Follow me on Twitter: @Deirdre_Kelly

Associated Graphic

Raptors Dance Pak members train in Toronto in October. There are 22 members of the group, who all auditioned from a field of 250 applicants. Even returning dancers must reaudition each season.


Their high-energy dances are the equivalent of an 800-metre run, done with a smile that belies the fitness, talent and dedication required to earn a coveted spot on the squad.

Bright ideas for setting priorities
Aspirational young couple should consider a slightly conservative plan to achieve their goals
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, November 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page B13

Not long into their first real jobs, Adam and Liz want to do everything at once: Buy a house, get married, travel, pay off his student loan, have children and save for retirement.

Where to start? He is 28, she is 24. Together they bring in $139,000 a year before tax.

Both have work pensions, his a defined-benefit government plan, hers a private-sector defined-contribution plan. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.

Weighed against their goals and aspirations, their savings look modest - $49,500 between them.

The house they want to buy in the next two or three years will cost in the range of $500,000. Their wedding will cost another $15,000.

Fortunately, they have kept a tight rein on their spending, so they have a surplus each month.

Should they use it to pay off their student loan, save for the down payment on their first home or save for retirement, they ask in an e-mail.

They also wonder how to invest their savings in the meantime - in a tax-free savings account, registered retirement savings plan, guaranteed investment certificate or bank savings account.

"Should we put all of our savings toward the house or put some to retirement?" Adam asks.

We asked Ross McShane, director of financial planning at McLarty & Co. Wealth Management Corp. in Ottawa, to look at the couple's situation.

What the expert says Adam and Liz are on solid footing, Mr. McShane says. They have good incomes and have been diligent in controlling expenses in favour of paying down their student loans and accumulating some savings.

They have a surplus of about $25,000 a year, which will accumulate to $75,000 over the next three years. That, plus their existing savings, would give them close to $125,000, enough to cover a $100,000 down payment and a $15,000 wedding.

Because Liz and Adam will need the money before long, the planner suggests they leave existing TFSA monies in a daily-interest savings account.

In the meantime, they should take some of that cash they have in the bank to pay down the student loan. "The loan is costing 5.2 per cent, and even though they receive a tax credit, the after-tax cost well exceeds the return they could achieve (at least on a guaranteed basis) if the funds were invested," Mr. McShane says.

With a lump-sum payment of $15,000 to $20,000 and regular monthly payments of $700, the loan would be paid off in less than three years.

Liz and Adam could put less than $100,000 or 20 per cent down on their house, but they would have to pay mortgage insurance. With 5 per cent down, for example, they would pay 3.6 per cent of the purchase price for insurance, an amount that would be added to the principal, the planner notes. "Keep in mind there will be closing costs and maybe some additional costs for blinds and appliances and so on," Mr. McShane says. "Given that many expect housing prices to retrench somewhat, I am inclined to play it conservatively by waiting until they have 20 per cent saved up," he adds.

The planner does not suggest the couple add to their RRSPs at this stage unless Adam's income (now $76,000 a year) surpasses $82,000, in which case a contribution would be prudent in order to put him back below that $82,000 mark (bottom of the 35-per-cent marginal tax bracket), he says.

Otherwise, they'd be better off carrying forward their RRSP contribution room to when their incomes are significantly higher and they enjoy a larger tax savings per dollar contributed.

As for retirement saving, "one step at a time here," Mr. McShane says. "They should focus on short term goals first, and besides, they are already contributing to pension plans."

They might consider buying a less expensive house. A $500,000 home with a $400,000 mortgage amortized over 25 years at 3 per cent a year would cost $1,895 a month, or $22,740 a year. Taxes, maintenance and utilities could add another $800 to $1,000 a month "and before you know it, your cost to carry the house is over $32,000 a year," the planner says.

As it is, they are paying $17,220 a year in rent, so while they would be building equity if they bought, their cash outflow would rise by $15,000 and cut into their surplus.

"Perhaps a less expensive home to start should be considered to give them some extra breathing room - especially important should they start to raise a family," Mr. McShane says. A $400,000 house with a 20-per-cent down payment of $80,000 would lower the mortgage to $320,000, "which translates into a monthly payment of $1,517 and likely has lower property taxes." To be safe, the couple should also budget for rising interest rates in future, he adds.

Once they buy the house, they will have to decide whether to pay down their mortgage first or contribute some of their surplus to the RRSPs and TFSAs, the planner says. This is a whole other discussion that would need to consider a variety of variables, including the cost of borrowing, taxable incomes and potential rates of return.

Want a free financial facelift? E-mail Some details may be changed to protect the privacy of the persons profiled.


The people: Adam, 28, and Liz, 24.

The problem: How to set priorities for the use of their earnings given their competing goals.

The plan: Pay off the student loan, save up a 20 per cent down payment for a house and don't be too concerned about saving for retirement yet.

The payoff: A clear financial road map for the next few years, to be revisited in future.

Monthly net income: $8,868

Assets: His TFSA $10,400; her TFSA $6,500; his cash in bank $6,400; her cash $16,200; RRSPs $10,000; her DC pension plan $288 (she just started contributing to it). Commuted value of his DB pension plan $35,743. Total: $85,531

Monthly disbursements: Rent $1,435; home insurance $40; food $770; clothing $150; group benefits $76; health care $82; professional $62; TV, cellphones, Internet $210; miscellaneous personal $186; entertainment, dining out $760; hobbies, activities $350; gifts, donations $50; travel $556; miscellaneous discretionary $190; transportation $600; loan $700; pension contributions $548. Total $6,765.

Surplus available for savings $2,103

Liabilities: His student loan at $43,000

Associated Graphic


Freud takes a back seat as Elektra gets real
Two new productions of Richard Strauss's 1907 version of the Greek tragedy take a more humanistic view of its struggling characters
Saturday, November 21, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R10

When Richard Strauss was writing his opera Elektra in 1907, Freud had published his first important papers and expressionism was the new flavour in the visual and performing arts.

Those two facts have coloured productions of the opera ever since, with some directors focusing on psychopathology and others emphasizing the piece's lurid situations.

Two new productions of Elektra step back from the influence of Freud and the expressionists, toward what might be called a more humanistic view. Opéra de Montréal's first-ever Elektra (opening Saturday) and a Patrice Chéreau staging due at New York's Metropolitan Opera in April both seem to share a common and surprising watchword: compassion.

There's no doubt that everyone in the family of Agamemnon is severely messed up. His widow and murderer, Klytaemnestra, is tortured by her dreams, and his daughters, Elektra and Chrysothemis, are stuck in patterns that, as the latter says, are closer to death than life. We can hardly measure the damage done to his long-exiled son, Orest, because he shows up just in time to realize Elektra's obsessive need to see her mother killed. In modern parlance, they all need healing, which wasn't really a factor in the ancient Greek tellings of their story.

"I want to stress the humanity of the characters, most of whom are suffering," director Alain Gauthier says during a break in technical rehearsals for his OM production. "I think you can have compassion for all of them, even Klytaemnestra. You can make a monster out of her so easily, but for me it's even touching to see this fragile, suffering woman."

Chéreau, an influential French director who died after his Elektra's first appearance at Aix-enProvence two years ago, sounds a very similar theme in a video interview included with the DVD recorded during that opening run. The piece focuses on three strong women, he says, "and each is entitled to our understanding; each has her own reasons." They all find a sympathetic response in the music, he adds, which in each case, at some point, expresses their reality with tenderness.

Neither production leaves the opera in ancient Greece. Chéreau brought the piece forward to a non-specific modern setting, while Gauthier's Elektra unfolds near the time of composition - but not, he says, because he wants to comment on Strauss's time.

Most directors work from an initial concept, but in this case Gauthier began with a gigantic prop: a 25-foot statue of Agamemnon crouching and writhing at the moment of his murder. OM artistic director Michel Beaulac had commissioned the piece from Spanish sculptor Victor Ochoa, and asked Gauthier to build a production around it.

"They gave me an object to work with, and I had to make sense of that," Gauthier says. In one way, the sense was clear: "Agamemnon is the only character who is never on stage, yet it's all about him." The task of actually building a production around a huge inert object was something else, and became more complicated as the sculpture was fabricated.

"They had seven 3-D printers working non-stop for four months, making 3,000 little plastic pieces," Gauthier says. Those were put together into bigger chunks, to be assembled all together in Montreal. But when they were put together, it turned out that the big pieces had warped a little, and no longer fit together smoothly. Gauthier laughs when he recalls being told by telephone that instead of looking like a stone sculpture, it would have to look like welded metal.

"They were afraid I'd be like, 'Nooo!' but I said, 'Great, that's even better!' " he recalls. "It changed my whole way of putting the show on stage." The opera suddenly had a time period - the dawn of structural metal, the period of the Eiffel Tower - and the sculpture had a more urgent reason to be there, because Gauthier saw that Elektra, who spends her days obsessing over her father, had to be the sculptor.

"I like it when ideas come out of an error in the process," Gauthier says. When one of the pieces of the sculpture got lost, he decided that Elektra had not quite finished it, and would do so after her mother's killing. Otherwise, there's nothing else on stage, just the statue in a theatrical black box. For the rest, Gauthier says, "[Étienne Boucher's] lights are going to create the space, like in a rock show," with a fine watery vapour cast into the air to catch and magnify the light.

Chéreau's set design, by Richard Peduzzi, is almost a textbook realization of the kind of lean perpendicular stage architectures made by Adolphe Appia, a seminal Swiss stage designer from the early 20th century who also pioneered the expressive use of lighting. The tomb-like classical stillness of Peduzzi's setting gave Chéreau a pared-down space in which to work out the emotional transitions of the piece, which, as he says on the DVD, are constantly compressed by Strauss's 100minute score.

"I liked the way Patrice worked," says Canadian soprano Adrianne Pieczonka, who appeared as Chrysothemis in the production at Aix and will sing the role at the Met in April. "He was so interested in the relationships, very much like an acting director in terms of intention and focus."

You could argue that Strauss approached the piece in the same way. His music changes character drastically as it sounds the characters' different needs and fears.

That was seen as a weakness by some early critics, though Strauss didn't write a pastiche: The opera is tightly structured. As Michael Kennedy says in his biography of the composer, the opera is "not truly expressionist" music, in part because Strauss's extravagant harmonies and scorings all fit within a strictly tonal frame.

That frame will be presented in Montreal by Yannick NézetSéguin, and in New York by EsaPekka Salonen. Lise Lindstrom will sing the title role at OM, and Nina Stemme takes the part at the Met. In both places, it will be 100 minutes of hurting music, and a violent story told with compassion.

Opéra de Montréal's Elektra opens Nov. 21 at Place des Arts' Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier. The Metropolitan Opera's production opens at Lincoln Centre on April 14, and will be broadcast in theatres across Canada on April 30.

Associated Graphic

Alain Gauthier, who is directing Opéra de Montréal's Elektra, was challenged with building his production around a 25-foot statue of Agamemnon.


Breaking into character
Friday, November 27, 2015 – Print Edition, Page R2

When Bryan Cranston was filming Trumbo - the new drama about the screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who was blacklisted through the 1950s for being a member of the Communist Party - he made his director, Jay Roach (Game Change), promise him something. Trumbo was a colourful guy, always adorned with eyeglasses and mustaches, a cigarette holder jammed between his teeth, a cocktail in his hand, and, as if all that weren't enough, a parrot on his shoulder (a gift from Kirk Douglas, for whom he wrote Spartacus).

Cranston, 59, is a capital-A Actor; he loves props. But he knew that an embarrassment of riches, when used improperly, can become simply an embarrassment.

So he told Roach that, in order to find the sweet spot in every scene, he'd have to lay on too thick whatever irascibility or lovability or eccentricity he was playing. He'd rely on Roach to tell him when he'd gone too far, then he'd reel it back in.

"I like to go out on a limb until I hear it start to crack," Cranston says. We're in a hotel room during September's Toronto International Film Festival, and he's a thoroughly entertaining one-man show, gesticulating, clutching his heart, dropping into Trumbo's rumbling elocutions with glee. He enunciates. He speaks in italics.

"Some actors are content if their spectrum goes from here to here," he continues, holding his hands out two feet apart. "That's fine - but don't they ever wonder how far it could go?" Cranston has gone all the way - his professional and personal arcs are wide. After 20 years of relative obscurity as a working actor (a stint on the soap opera Loving; a recurring role as Jerry's dentist, Tim Whatley, on Seinfeld; a small role in Saving Private Ryan), he hit the jackpot in 2000: a lead role on a hit sitcom, Malcolm in the Middle.

When that show wrapped six years later, he was offered other sitcoms. Instead, he "turned sharp left" to play the majestically complicated Walter White on Breaking Bad, earning four best actor Emmys and a primo spot in TV's current golden age. When that show ended, Cranston refused other badass roles and headed to Broadway, where he won a Tony for playing Lyndon B.

Johnson in All the Way. (He and Roach recently filmed an adaptation for HBO, with Steven Spielberg producing.)

"It's all about Bryan's range," Roach says in a separate interview. "Trumbo's existence ranged from the lowest of lows to this truly noble, loving man who cared about his country. He experienced depths - cavity searches in jail - and highs, winning two Academy Awards. Bryan has that range. Also, Trumbo loved performing; his passions, gestures and orations were larger than life, which is a joy for Bryan to do. I sensed all that was in him, and oh man, it really is."

Cranston knew about lows. His parents were actors with uneven success. "Things were up and down, down and down, up, down," he says. "We put a pool in one year, the next we didn't have money for the chemicals. Our house was foreclosed. There was alcoholism. My mother and father had been den mothers and coaches on ball teams, and everything was great, until it wasn't."

When Cranston was 11 years old, his father left. They didn't speak for the next 11 years, until Cranston sought him out and they reconciled.

"At 11, I realized, 'Nothing is real,' " he says. "That introverted me for a long time. Made me untrusting, hesitant." Acting helped him find his footing. "But I was never the guy in the shower going, 'I want to thank the Academy.' I know how things can go away."

So now to be beyond financially secure, with a Ventura beach house he designed, a wife of 26 years (the actress Robin Dearden) and a daughter at the University of Southern California (she was an extra in one of the Breaking Bad episodes he directed) - "I'm having a blast," Cranston says. "My wife and I look at each other and just smile."

He might want to rethink his "no shower speeches" policy. The gusto with which he threw himself into Trumbo shows. Trumbo wrote in the bathtub, so Cranston had to spend long days "just soaking there, turning into a prune," Roach says. Trumbo also talked aloud as he wrote, acting out every character; Cranston improvised those scenes, muttering wild scenarios during long closeups. "Some day I should cut together the stories that Bryan came up with," Roach says, laughing.

Cranston is also beloved by colleagues, including the cockatoo that plays Trumbo's parrot. "That bird was obsessed with Bryan," Roach says. "It would climb into his hair, it would eat his mustache. There was a lot of footage we couldn't use because the bird was so into Bryan."

Cranston believes in Trumbo's message: "It's a reminder of the NSA and wiretapping and the dangers of governmental overreach," he says. "More importantly, its message is: 'You may be vehemently opposed to someone's opinion, but you need to fight for their right to voice it.' " But mostly he signed on to hear those limbs crack. "I don't want to be too comfortable," he says.

"I want to keep moving, keep hunting for more." He discovered a key into LBJ, for example, on his second visit to the Johnson Library in Austin, Tex. He missed it the first time; it was tucked into a corner. It was a letter from Jacqueline Kennedy, thanking Johnson for writing to her two children about their father.

"I looked at the date and went: 'Wait a minute,' " Cranston remembers. "This is four days after Kennedy's assassination. In that moment of tragedy and shock, with everything else he had to do, he took the time to write two letters to two little children." He sucks in a breath. "That spoke to me about the core of that man. And that helped - mmm - propel me.

"As an actor, you never really know what you're looking for," Cranston sums up. "You have to be open to anything. You have to be a funnel. You have to be insatiable."

Associated Graphic

Despite his success with Breaking Bad and in other roles, actor Bryan Cranston has always held a realist's vision of the job: 'I was never the guy in the shower going, "I want to thank the Academy." I know how things can go away.'


Ottawa to miss deadline on asylum seekers
Security concerns to slow process as government also backs away from funding all 25,000 refugees
Wednesday, November 25, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A1

OTTAWA -- Justin Trudeau's government will miss its self-imposed deadline to fulfill a signature campaign promise on Syrian refugees, as the Liberals announced a slower approach Tuesday to bringing 25,000 government-assisted refugees to Canada.

It could take the government months, or as long as one year, to match the election pledge it made last fall.

Instead of the 25,000 taxpayersponsored refugees by Dec. 31, as Mr. Trudeau promised in dramatic fashion during the election, Ottawa will bring in 15,000 government-assisted asylum seekers and 10,000 refugees sponsored by individuals or groups by the end of February, 2016.

Security drove the decision.

The Liberals have decided to take more time to do screening of all applicants overseas rather than bringing them to Canada and leaving themselves open to a scenario where would-be refugees are rejected for security concerns but now on Canadian soil.

Immigration Minister John McCallum was unable to say precisely when the other 10,000 promised government-sponsored refugees might arrive in Canada, saying only this would be later in 2016.

"Canadians want us to do it right," Mr. McCallum told reporters on Tuesday. "So we have concluded that in order to do it right, in order to give a welcome that includes not just a smile but also a roof over their head and everything else that they need, it is better to take that additional time."

Tuesday's announcement wasn't without further controversy. Single men will only be admitted if they are accompanying their parents or are identified as members of the LGBT community, federal officials said.

All refugees, the government says, will be admitted into Canada as permanent residents.

That means they they will have been screened in countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey before flying into Canada.

The refugee promise, along with the plan to run three years of deficits to finance a massive infrastructure program, was a key part of the Liberal Party of Canada's election platform that helped to depict Mr. Trudeau as a bold and ambitious leader.

In particular, the vow that the federal government would sponsor, or cover the first year costs, of 25,000 new refugees was seen as a way to ease the financial burden on citizens and nongovernmental organizations for the humanitarian endeavour.

For the first year after a refugee arrives in Canada, private sponsors are obliged to cover settlement costs that work out to $12,600 for one individual - including money for furniture and household items and income support - or $27,000 for a family of four.

The Liberal government's plan, announced on Tuesday, leaves private sponsors - individuals or groups - liable to cover the first year's costs for a full 40 per cent of the Syrian refugees who will arrive in Canada by the end of February.

The government cited the need to complete security screening overseas as a reason for the slowdown in arrivals of refugees from what was promised.

"They need to keep their pledge [on government-assisted refugees]," said Alexandra Kotyk, project manager at Lifeline Syria, a refugee group.

Mr. McCallum said that welcoming 25,000 new Canadian "friends" - regardless of the detailed timeline - was proof of the country's generosity.

"It's a happy day and that's a happy outcome," Mr. McCallum said. "This is a national project that will involve all Canadians."

The cost to taxpayers over the next six years will be between $564-million and $678-million, with the bulk of the spending over the first two years.

Details about how this will unfold are vague, including precisely when the first planeload of refugees will arrive in December and the numbers of refugees that each province and city will welcome. Federal officials said the planes will land either in Toronto or Montreal, with Ottawa picking up transportation costs for both government and privately sponsored refugees.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall lauded Mr. Trudeau for abandoning a Dec. 31 deadline to bring all the promised refugees here, saying it was the right thing to do in the interests of more careful security screening abroad.

"I still don't believe there should be a specific deadline at all ... all the time that might be necessary to ensure security and successful settlement should be taken," Mr. Wall said.

The government insisted that all refugees will be screened for security and health purposes on foreign soil, either in Lebanon, Jordan or Turkey. Ottawa has sent 500 officials abroad to handle everything from security checks to screening.

In addition to personally interviewing all potential refugees, government officials will check fingerprint and iris scans against databases in Canada and the United States. All of the refugees will also undergo medical examinations and tests for diseases such as tuberculosis, and undergo ID checks before they enter Canada.

Officials declined to say how many applications were rejected on security grounds, saying only the acceptance rate was "very high."

The government's focus will be on admitting full families, women at risk and members of the LGBT community. Orphans will only be welcomed if they have family ties in Canada.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said that military bases can welcome up to 6,000 refugees, but the government said it will try to send the refugees straight into cities where they will settle.

He said that military planes are on standby to fly in the refugees, but the government will try to use cheaper commercial flights.

Canada has already received 102 Syrian refugees since Nov. 4, when the Liberal government was sworn in. More than 3,000 Syrian refugees have come to Canada since 2013.

For organizations such as the Canadian Red Cross, Tuesday's announcement is good news.

The delay removes the tight deadlines of trying to resettle so many people so quickly.

"This is a government decision today to say ... let's not create the pressure in terms of meeting this year's deadline," said Conrad Sauvé, the CEO of the Canadian Red Cross.

Mr. Sauvé says his organization had been preparing for a number of scenarios, including helping thousands of refugees in temporary housing. Screening them before they come into Canada makes the process of transition much smoother, he said.

"What we are seeing now is a lot more work done in Lebanon ... to avoid having them stay a long period of time in a temporary shelter before they go to the communities," he said.

Associated Graphic

Volunteers sort donated clothing for Syrian refugees at a theatre rehearsal space in Toronto on Tuesday.


'If you're vulnerable, you're easy prey'
The Winnipeg prosecutor who convicted two serial killers shares her insights into what we should learn from the cases
Saturday, November 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page A16

It is estimated that less than 1 per cent of homicides involve serial killers, the FBI says, so it was against all odds that Winnipeg attorney Sheilla Leinburd found herself the prosecutor on two cases involving serial predators. The first was Shawn Lamb, who pleaded guilty in 2013 to two counts of manslaughter in the deaths of Carolyn Sinclair and Lorna Blacksmith. The second was Traigo Andretti, who confessed to the B.C. RCMP that he killed Myrna Letandre in Winnipeg and his wife, Jennifer McPherson, in B.C.; in August, he pleaded guilty to Ms. Letandre's 2006 murder, becoming Canada's latest known serial killer.

All four of the men's victims were indigenous.

Aboriginal women in Canada are being killed and disappearing at an alarming rate. A Globe and Mail analysis has found they are roughly seven times more likely to die at the hands of a serial killer than non-aboriginal women. The investigation also determined that at least 18 indigenous women were slain by convicted serial killers since 1980. The Globe spoke with Ms. Leinburd about her rare experience handling two high-profile cases, both of which spoke to the vulnerabilities of indigenous women in this country.

What are the challenges of prosecuting a case involving serial homicide?

It has various challenges, many of them because they are multijurisdictional. For example, the first killing that Mr. Andretti committed occurred in British Columbia [in 2013], in terms of its discovery. The first killing that he actually committed was done in Manitoba [in 2006]. It was only upon his arrest for the second murder - the first one that they discovered - that the second one came to light. We have to be very co-operative about the prosecution, around who is going to prosecute first. Very often, serial killers are transient.

They live in different provinces, and because we don't have the kind of integration of police efforts that we would like to have, sometimes it's only by happenstance that we discover that they're serial killers.

What stood out about the Andretti and Lamb cases?

In each of these cases, we were dealing with women who were aboriginal. These people are marginalized, at least in my cases they were. There are inherent societal and institutional biases that speak more to the investigation process before it comes into the prosecutor's hands. These people aren't necessarily rooted in their communities or their families, so that makes it much more difficult for the investigation to occur. Take, for example, the time of death. It can be very difficult to narrow that frame of time of when they were missing and when they were killed. We need to prove that this person died within a time frame, and that's often very difficult to narrow because of the life circumstances. Ultimately, the police will, for example, follow up through medical or social records, and that way we can narrow the time of death.

You mentioned biases. Can you expand on that?

There are biases that exist in society against most vulnerable individuals. Very often, it would come back that this person had this sort of behaviour in the past, or not informed their families where they were and ended up surfacing and being okay. That sort of dynamic, where the person doesn't have a regular routine or a family that's connected with them on an everyday basis, spills over into the investigation.

[B.C.'s Robert] Pickton is a great example. [Sex work] was dismissed as a lifestyle. If we learned anything from Pickton, we learned these people had a societal connection - it was different from the norm, perhaps, but they still had a societal connection. When they were missing, they were truly missing.

Looking at it through our eyes is not particularly helpful. Every community has its own norms, its own mores.

Mr. Andretti met Ms. Letandre's sister through a free voicemail service intended, for example, to help businesses get in touch with prospective employees who do not have a phone. What do you make of that? These serial killers are not stupid by any means. They're very manipulative. They're very cunning.

He knew enough to use this telephone line. If you're vulnerable, you're easy prey. It comes down to that. And [the killers] know that full well.

What were your impressions of Mr. Andretti and Mr. Lamb?

People think that serial killers will look a certain way. And I can tell you that both Lamb and Andretti were innocuous. You would sit next to them on the bus and think nothing of it. In Mr. Andretti's case, he was very diminutive - tiny - not a big build. Not what you would typically think would be a serial killer. These men were, on the whole, social misfits. They were transient. They were troubled from the time they were very young.

What do you make of the finding that indigenous women are dramatically overrepresented among Canada's female homicide victims?

I think it's important that people know that this is occurring; it's very important that the indigenous community realizes this.

These women are being targeted, in a sense. They have to be very careful.

How do you think serial homicide fits into the broader tragedy of missing and murdered indigenous women in this country?

In terms of serial killers, their motivation is to kill. What happens is that very often their crimes are not discovered for many years. [Police] priorities shift, and these killers trade on that. Success breeds arrogance in many ways. If they've gotten away with it once or twice, they'll do it a third and fourth time. Just because we don't have a body does not mean that there hasn't been a murder; missingperson cases should take priority.

I appreciate there is an economic cost to everything, and I appreciate that we don't have the manpower or the resources, but [missing-person cases] are not treated in the same fashion as a homicide is treated, and that's unfortunate. These [killers] appreciate that. They've been in the system long enough to know how the system operates.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

THE TAKEN Multimedia project traces the lives of five indigenous women who were serial-killer victims TGAM.CA/THETAKEN

Associated Graphic

Crown attorney Sheilla Leinburd prosecuted both Shawn Lamb and Traigo Andretti.


Hope from half a world away
Members of Toronto's Tibetan community are eagerly awaiting a potentially historic election for its parliament in exile
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, November 28, 2015 – Print Edition, Page M2

A young, upstart candidate for prime minister was rousing the support of a new generation of voters. A day before Canadians made their final decisions that eventually saw Justin Trudeau become this country's leader, another election, in which a new candidate was challenging the old guard, enthralled a thousandplus voters in Toronto's Tibetan community. They cast their ballots for representatives of a parliamentary body much closer to their hearts: that of a new Tibetan government in exile.

The distance from Toronto to Lhasa may be 11,800 kilometres, or a 33-hour flight, but Tibet is a constant state of mind for its diaspora. More than 80,000 Tibetans across the world participated in a preliminary round of voting to choose candidates for the positions of sikyong (prime minister) and chitue (members of parliament) that make up the 44-person parliament in exile. The final list of candidates will be announced on Dec. 2, with the ultimate election taking place next March to decide the new leadership based out of Dharamsala, India. It is only the second such election since the Dalai Lama stepped down as head of what's known as the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA).

Toronto is home to t