His friend, an outspoken young Ukrainian patriot, suddenly vanishes, so Globe correspondent Mark MacKinnon risks a return to pro-Russian Donetsk in the hope he's still alive. And if so, then what?
Saturday, May 14, 2016 – Print Edition, Page F1

He looked thinner, and was dressed all in black even though he had previously favoured bright colours. His hair, always short, was now in a military-style crewcut. He walked with a limp, leaning slightly on his umbrella as we approached our designated meeting point - a bust of the poet Alexander Pushkin in the middle of a pedestrian boulevard in Donetsk - from opposite directions.

This is how my friend Vlad appeared, two years after I'd seen him last, and 16 months after he had seemed to disappear from the face of the Earth.

His round face broke into a smile as we neared each other, and he extended a hand. "It's so good to see you," he said with a command of English that had once made him Ukraine's highschool debating champion in the language. I took his hand and pulled him into a hug, relief overwhelming the precautions we'd taken in setting up our meeting in the tense, isolated mini-state that broke away from Ukraine two years ago, sending Vlad's life into a terrifying tailspin.

Pulling back, I asked him how he was. Fat snowflakes fell lazily around us on a chilly mid-March morning. He exhaled before answering. "I'm not okay, but at least I'm alive."

It's a common sentiment in the Donetsk People's Republic, a twilight zone that is neither Russia nor Ukraine, but a land in-between, where it feels as if the Soviet Union has been resurrected.

And the Soviet Union was never pleasant to those who disagreed with its rulers.

The first time I met Vladimir Simperovich was in April, 2014.

Ukraine had just experienced a pro-Western revolution, one that Donbass, his native region, was railing against. Groups of proRussian fighters had seized control of key buildings in the main cities of Donetsk and Lugansk, as well as several nearby towns.

After a surreal referendum the following month, stage-managed by the Kremlin - which was furious about the developments in Kiev - the men with guns would declare themselves the government of separate "people's republics" for Donetsk and Lugansk that together encompassed a few thousand square kilometres between the Russian border and the Ukrainian army's new front lines.

Most of those I met in Donetsk that spring seemed willing to go along with what was happening.

They repeated the narrative fed to them by Russian television: "Fascists" had taken over in Kiev, toppling the elected pro-Moscow government led by Donetsk native Viktor Yanukovych. Independence or, better yet, absorption into Russia had to be preferable to life in this new "nazi" Ukraine.

Or maybe they had come to the quiet realization that it was better to agree with the people holding the guns.

Not Vlad. Scanning my Twitter feed one night while I was in Donetsk, I came across an account written by a local resident who was openly critical of what was happening, albeit from behind a screen of online anonymity as @VoiceofDonetsk. He bitterly mocked the referendum, and cheered Ukrainian army advances (sometimes going so far as to celebrate separatist deaths - not uncommon in the angry social-media war being fought alongside the real one).

"Dear Russians," Vlad wrote early in the conflict, "please do not tell me what's going on in Donetsk. I am in Donetsk and can see things better from here than you can from Moscow."

Intrigued by the author's fearlessness, I arranged to meet him at a little yellow-walled bakery called Donbass Bread, not far from my hotel.

Donetsk then was still largely unscarred by the nascent conflict, the city's emerging prosperity a reminder of all that would be lost if the region followed the dimly lit trail stretched out before it.

Artema Street, the city's main commercial drag, featured Western brands such as Zara, Mango, Adidas and Calvin Klein. Not far away were Ramada and Park Inn hotels built for the 2012 European soccer championships (Donetsk was one of eight host cities).

There was a brand-new airport, a world-class soccer stadium, as well as a modern ice rink where HC Donbass, Ukraine's lone member of the Kontinental Hockey League, played its home games. There was an impressive opera house, a bustling McDonald's, and an emerging karaoke culture.

Vlad seemed flattered to be interviewed by a foreign correspondent, but despondent over what was happening to his city and region. Then 27, he told me that he'd started his blog and Twitter account in order to "fight against Russian propaganda."

The conflict in Donbass, he said, was neither a Ukrainian civil war nor a full-on Russian invasion. Vlad saw it the way many Ukrainians did: as a cynical contest for command over the region's coal mines and steel mills. "Our local elites want to control the financial sources in Donetsk. They want to be able to steal money in the same amounts as before the revolution," was the crux of his analysis.

He said he was worried Donetsk would end up like Trans-Dniestr, a breakaway region of neighbouring Moldova controlled by Russian-supported separatists since a 1990 war there. I suggested that would be a grim fate. I had briefly visited Trans-Dniestr, and spent most of my trip worrying that the secret police - unreformed Soviet KGB - were monitoring me and those I met.

The interview ended with the two of us cheerfully tussling over who would pay for the coffee. He eventually let me win.

We shook hands and promised to meet again. Then Vlad asked his stepbrother - who had joined us, but said little - to take a photograph of us in front of the café.

It shows Vlad wearing a pink dress shirt with his sunglasses tucked into the neck. I've got a blue shirt on, a pen sticking out of the breast pocket.

Only later, when Vlad, unabashedly proud of our new friendship, posted the photo online and made it his profile picture on VKontakte - the Russian equivalent of Facebook - did I wonder if the photo was a smart idea.

There was talk of kidnapping

The next time I heard from Vlad was a month later, in May, 2014. I was on a train from the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, headed back to Donetsk when my phone rang.

"Where are you right now?" he asked with none of his previous mirth. When I told him, he became agitated.

"Exactly which wagon are you in?" he asked. Sounding upset, he told me he would meet me on the platform.

Vlad grabbed me by the elbow as soon as I stepped off the train. "Don't speak English!" he whispered fiercely in Russian. "People are looking for you!"

We walked briskly to a waiting car and sped away. Switching to English so that the driver couldn't understand, Vlad told me he had seen my picture on a VKontakte group used by proRussian activists in the city.

Someone was claiming I was a CIA agent, he said, and there was talk of kidnapping me.

Worryingly, what he was saying sounded plausible. Two days earlier, I had been covering a proRussian demonstration in the bitterly divided city of Kharkiv, and had taken a photograph of the protest, from the top of a nearby building, that illustrated how small the crowd was relative to the massive plaza they were gathered on.

Immediately, pro-Russian Twitter accounts started claiming that I was a foreign agent. At the time, I chuckled at the online nonsense and continued my work.

But the look on Vlad's face convinced me I needed to be concerned now. I was in Donetsk, the airport was closed, and the train station was apparently full of people looking for me. After driving around the city for a while, we decided that the Park Inn, where many other Western journalists were staying, including several long-time friends of mine, was the safest place for me to be.

Vlad stayed for dinner, and despite the dangers - or maybe because of them - he downed one beer after another. Soon, he was telling me and two colleagues a horror story about how he'd been detained earlier that year for helping a foreign journalist, and held for three days and nights in the basement of the separatists' headquarters in the centre of Donetsk. (Many journalists hire "fixers" - local guides and translators - when reporting from a place they're unfamiliar with. I never hired Vlad as a fixer, or paid him for any of our meetings.)

Vlad told us how he had been handcuffed to a pipe and beaten.

Our jaws dropped as he related the details. My colleagues and I debated whether we should write about what he was telling us.

Vlad said he wasn't afraid of what would happen to him, but we were. We didn't want to put him in any more danger than he already was.

But Vlad instinctively charged toward trouble. As we finished our meal, he became irritated with a trio of Russian journalists who were talking and laughing loudly as they consumed a latenight bottle of vodka.

"I can't stand it," Vlad said. He walked over to ask the Russians what they thought was so funny about the war their country had brought to his city. A fistfight - one a stumbling, drunk Vlad would have been very unlikely to win - was narrowly avoided.

'Blessed With Coal'

My worries about Vlad escalated a few months later. I was travelling back to Donetsk, and hoped to meet him, but discovered that both his phone numbers had been switched off. His socialmedia accounts were also uncharacteristically quiet (after writing a barrage of anti-separatist rants following the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17, with all evidence pointing to a missile fired from territory controlled by the Donetsk People's Republic). I sent him a series of increasingly concerned notes and, after what seemed like an eternity, he finally replied.

He was living with his grandparents in Ugledar, a town (whose name means "Blessed With Coal") recently retaken by the Ukrainian army. He said he was safe, and working on a new project, which he described as "helping to evacuate women and children from Donetsk and nearby cities." Mobile reception was poor in Ugledar - and WiFi nonexistent - but he was soon back tweeting full-bore again, mocking the Kremlin and those who worked for it in Ukraine.

When Mr. Yanukovych was ousted in February, 2014, much of Donbass watched in confusion.

They weren't necessarily happy with life under the corrupt rule of him and his cronies, but they were far from sure that greater integration with the European Union, the key demand of the protesters in Kiev, would work to their benefit.

When armed separatists started taking over government buildings that April, Ugledar was one of the towns they seized first, only to be recaptured that August, as the overstretched separatists withdrew to more defensible lines.

Vlad and I arranged to meet on my return to Donetsk in November, 2014, but his phones were again off when I arrived. I didn't worry at first, even when the occasional "Where is he?" tweet - posted by concerned followers of his blog - crossed my screen. I assumed Vlad was back incommunicado in Ugledar.

But when the weeks of silence became months, I started to fret, recalling his sometimes foolhardy bravery, as well as his stint in the dungeon of the Donetsk secret police. I sent a string of messages to his e-mail addresses, as well as his Facebook, Twitter and VKontakte accounts.

Months passed without any reply. Eventually, I tried reaching out to his Facebook friends, asking when they'd seen him last.

Only one replied. "I don't know what to think," wrote a former classmate who said she hadn't seen or heard from Vlad for a long time. "All I know is that he was helping refugees."

Then Vlad's VKontakte account - where he had posted the photo of the two of us outside the bakery in Donetsk - was deleted. It was as though someone was erasing all traces of his existence. A pro-Russian Twitter account suggested that Vlad had been kidnapped.

I returned to Ukraine in February, 2015, and dialled his number, hoping to end the mystery. It wasn't Vlad who answered. "We don't know the person you're asking for," said a man, speaking gruffly in Russian. He hung up when I asked him to identify himself.

My heart sank, even though I had no way of knowing at the time that Vlad had once more been arrested by the police of the Donetsk People's Republic.

Cursed by Chernobyl

Vlad was born with a reason to hate the Soviet Union, and to sneer at those who felt nostalgia for it.

His father, also named Vladimir, was drafted into the Red Army, where he served as a mechanic and was assigned to a base near Kiev. He was working there on April 26, 1986, when Reactor No. 4 at the nearby Chernobyl nuclear plant exploded. Vlad's father spent the next few months cleaning and repairing the military vehicles coming and going from the exclusion zone.

He developed leukemia, and by November of the same year, Vlad Sr. was dead, at the age of 19. His only son was born three days later.

Vlad's mother, Svetlana, worked at a hospital in Donetsk.

She would have another son six years later, but was left to raise the boys alone when the father of her second child left the family and moved to Kiev.

Although they were Russianspeakers in a heavily Russified region, a place where most around them longed for the stability of the Soviet days, Vlad grew up a Ukrainian patriot. He travelled twice to Kiev during the protests that eventually ousted Mr. Yanukovych, and joined a Ukrainian unity rally on March 6, 2014, on Donetsk's central Lenin Square.

The Lenin Square gathering was a last-ditch effort to stop events that were already in motion (by then, armed separatists had seized control of the main regional government building), and an estimated 10,000 proUkrainian activists turned out.

There was brief optimism that those working to hold the country together would prevail over those trying to pull it apart.

A week later, pro-Russian activists staged a counterdemonstration, on the square, that descended into a street brawl. A pro-Ukrainian protester, Dmytro Cherniavsky, was stabbed to death in the fracas.

It was the first death of the war for Donbass. More than 8,000 people have died since.

I decided in March of this year that the only way to find out what had happened to Vlad was to return to Ukraine and look for him myself.

A short stopover in Kiev offered reasons for pessimism. The consensus among the diplomats and aid workers I met, as well as former residents of Donetsk and Lugansk, was that anyone who had gone silent as long as Vlad was likely in prison, or dead.

Especially if he had been outspoken about his pro-Ukrainian views.

I visited Maria Varfolomeeva, a journalist who had spent more than a year in captivity in the Lugansk People's Republic, hoping for clues as to how the separatists might deal with someone like Vlad. Ms. Varfolomeeva, who was accused of being a spy for the Ukrainian government because she filmed outside a residential building that turned out to be a separatist military barracks, laughed bitterly when I asked if Vlad might have put himself in danger by criticizing the separatists on his blog and Twitter. "Are you kidding me?"

Amnesty International researcher Krassimir Yankov said that stories like Maria's and Vlad's had become increasingly common in the separatist-controlled areas of Ukraine. The leadership of the unrecognized Donetsk and Lugansk statelets appeared to be "going after wellknown 'enemies of the republic,' " in recent months, perhaps to distract from the economic problems in their regions, Mr. Yankov said.

He warned that looking for a single missing person - like Vlad - in that part of Ukraine was like "looking for a needle in a haystack. Nobody really knows what's going on in Donetsk."

But I had to try. I decided to travel to Ugledar, where Vlad had been, the last time he'd gone silent.

A treacherous journey

Travelling through eastern Ukraine in early 2016 is a journey through a war on pause. There is something like a ceasefire holding around the front line, but neither side believes the conflict is really over.

Under what's known as the Minsk peace process - named after the Belarusian capital where it was negotiated - both sides have pulled their heavy artillery and rocket launchers 30 kilometres back from the front. But every night, there is a cacophony of small-arms fire, and the occasional mortar round, as the two armies continue to probe each other's defences.

Driving on the Ukrainian side of the line, a planned 340-kilometre trip from Kharkiv to Ugledar became a two-day odyssey. The roads, always poorly maintained, have been torn up into a jagged mess by tanks streaming to a civil war no Ukrainian ever expected to fight.

The potholes were so deep that the battered Lada I was riding in managed to blow not one, but two tires, badly bending both rims and necessitating an overnight stop and a car swap. The next day's trek was slowed by a succession of sandbagged military checkpoints, where Kalashnikov-toting Ukrainian soldiers stared with interest at my Canadian passport.

I never reached Ugledar. On the second day of the drive, I unexpectedly received a text message informing me that a mobile number Vlad had once called me from was suddenly active again.

(In Ukraine, if you call a number and it's out of service, the operator will send you a text message when that number is back on the network.) I dialled it anxiously, fully expecting to hear another stranger's voice. But this time, Vlad's half-brother, Bogdan, answered.

Bogdan had been with Vlad when we met for the first time.

He took the picture of us standing outside Donbass Bread. He remembered me.

"He's okay," Bogdan answered cautiously, when I asked about his brother. "He's in Donetsk."

Questions whizzed through my mind - if he's okay, why didn't Vlad answer any of the dozens of messages I'd sent over the past 16 months?

Bogdan agreed to meet me in Krasnoarmiisk, another town briefly captured by the separatists back in 2014, but now behind Ukrainian lines. Bogdan's life, like many with roots in Donetsk and Lugansk, now straddles both sides of the unofficial border. He studies economics in Krasnoarmiisk, on the Ukrainian side, but his home and family are in the Donetsk People's Republic.

He was fidgety when we met, and clearly unsure what he was supposed to tell me about Vlad's whereabouts. He agreed to tell Vlad that I'd been scouring eastern Ukraine for him, and had feared - until reaching Bogdan - the worst. Bogdan admitted that the picture he took had "caused some trouble" for his brother.

Vlad called me that evening, breaking 16 months of silence.

"I have some troubles here in Donetsk with the police and so on," Vlad explained vaguely. He told me he'd had his passport seized, and couldn't leave the Donetsk People's Republic. But if I could get to Donetsk, he would be happy to see me again.

The next day, I hired a driver to take me across the front line.

Vlad had helped me once when I was in danger. I figured I owed him one.

'Victory will be ours!'

The two-kilometre stretch of no man's land between the last Ukrainian military checkpoint and the first line of separatist defences bears the scars of the hotter days of this war. As we drove between the front lines, we passed a pair of electricity towers that had somehow been bent in half. Next came the ruins of a white minibus that had edged off the road in February and hit a landmine, killing four people.

Then an abandoned plant that once produced sunflower oil for Cargill, the U.S. food giant.

The fluttering black, blue and red flag of the Donetsk People's Republic marked the first separatist checkpoint. Five fighters in fatigues, cradling Kalashnikovs, emerged from a log-and-cement foxhole that was built in 2014, but could just as easily have existed in 1914. One looked briefly at my passport and press card before waving us on.

Next came the customs office of the unrecognized statelet: a metal shed in front of a burnt-out gas station. As another man in camouflage gear registered the entry of our beige Chevy Aveo, my eyes wandered over freshly dug trenches, a symbol of how this once fast-moving war has entered a longer and much more drawnout phase.

Finally we reached Donetsk, a city now a shadow of its prewar self. The Western brands were the first to flee, leaving a row of boarded-up storefronts along Artema Street. The advertising market has unsurprisingly crashed, and most views in the city are scarred by empty metal billboards. The only active advertiser is the separatist government itself, which has erected dozens of signs reminding residents to celebrate Soviet-era holidays. One poster on Artema featured Stalin, chin up, over the slogan: "Victory will be ours!"

But while the Kremlin may have gained several strategic objectives by supporting the separatists - most notably by smashing talk that Ukraine might join Western institutions such as the EU or NATO any time soon - it doesn't feel like the people of Donetsk are winning anything.

Donbass Arena, the soccer stadium the city was so proud of in 2012, was hit during the Ukrainian army's sometimes indiscriminate shelling. Its undamaged parts now function as a distribution centre for the humanitarian aid that arrives in controversial convoys from Russia (the 50th such convoy arrived just before my visit in March).

The airport, scene of the heaviest fighting to date, is a shattered mess.

The Ramada and Park Inn hotels have somehow kept functioning, although their business models have been turned upside down. Credit cards and bank machines stopped working early in the conflict, as Donetsk and Lugansk were cut off from the international financial system. The separatists threw businesses another curve ball last year when they declared that the Russian ruble, rather than the Ukrainian hryvnia, would be the lone currency allowed in the now cashonly economy. Nightlife is curbed by a 10 o'clock curfew. Donbass Bread, where Vlad and I first met, is boarded up.

On March 16, the Donetsk People's Republic took the symbolic step of issuing its first passports.

Alexander Zakharchenko - prime minister of the unrecognized state - was the lead recipient, followed by dozens of Donetsk residents who had turned 18 since the war began, meaning they had no other travel documents.

They were the first official citizens of this republic no one recognizes, the teenagers' new passports a confirmation of their status as hostages of the conflict.

A Ukrainian passport can still get you through the checkpoints that separate Donetsk and Lugansk from the rest of the country (provided the Ukrainian side doesn't suspect you of fighting for the separatists), or across the Russian border. But passportholders of the Donetsk People's Republic - or those, like Vlad, who don't have documents at all - can't go east or west. Their world is confined to the handful of cities and towns the separatists control.

I decided to spend some time watching the generation that may grow up knowing no other state but the Donetsk People's Republic. The "sports palace" near my hotel was packed on a Saturday morning with children and preteens performing astounding feats on the tumbling mats and parallel bars. Above them hung a trio of flags: the Russian tricolour, the blue-blackred of the Donetsk People's Republic, and the blue cross on red background that is the banner of the "Novorossiya" project.

Later that day, the city would hold its amateur-boxing championship. For Donetsk athletes, it might as well have been the Olympic Games. "They can't go anywhere higher than this," Sergei Akhmetov, vice-president of the city's boxing federation, told me. "Maybe some competitions in Russia, but the European and world championships are not for us."

He was interrupted by one of his boxing coaches, clearly frustrated with his boss's overly polite description of the situation.

"We are hostages here!" shouted a balding man with a mouthful of gold teeth. "Why does Canada recognize the revolution in Kiev, but not ours?" he continued at top volume. Then his comments slid into a stream of hatred directed at the West, replete with racism and anti-Semitism.

'It's like a big prison'

The real fighting around Donetsk has picked up again recently. The Minsk agreements, which somewhat stabilized the situation for the past year, seem to be crumbling, with both sides accusing the other of failing to implement its terms.

Monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe say the separatists and the Ukrainian army have both started seizing ground in what was once the no man's land between the front lines. "The armies are getting closer to each other. This is causing increased tension," said one monitor, who spoke to me on condition of anonymity.

When I stayed at the Park Inn in the fall of 2014, my nights were sleepless as the city shook with artillery shells landing on or near the city's devastated airport. This time, I was awoken only once by the sounds of heavy machinegun fire somewhere in the distance. "It's like a big prison," Vlad began as I pulled out my notebook in a quiet corner of a coffee shop not far from the Pushkin statue where we had met that chilly Saturday afternoon in 2014.

Before choosing a place to talk, we walked aimlessly for a while, trying to make sure we were not being closely followed.

I ordered a cappuccino. He had a black coffee. As proof of how worried I was, I pulled out a printed photo of him that I'd been planning to show around Ugledar before I heard from his brother.

Vlad smiled sadly. He didn't apologize for my worry. But he explained.

As the separatists tightened their control over Donetsk and Lugansk in 2014, he had shifted from online dissent to a mix of more active opposition and humanitarian work. He set up an account for donations from Ukrainians who wanted to help those still living in the rebel-held areas, and used the money to buy warm clothing and medicines that were starting to become scarce in the unrecognized republics. (It was better, he suggested to readers of his blog, that aid to Donetsk come from Ukrainians - otherwise residents would be forced to rely on the humanitarian convoys from Russia, a huge propaganda win for Moscow.)

With a friend, he also started arranging travel documents for those who wanted to leave. Vlad was spending most of his time outside the separatist-controlled areas, and used his contacts to help renew expired passports on the Ukrainian side. The new passports he brought back were effectively a ticket out of Donetsk for those who preferred to live in the government-run part of Ukraine.

Eventually, his efforts drew the attention of the Donetsk authorities. In February, 2015, he received a request from a woman who said she wanted his help getting her passport renewed. Unbeknownst to Vlad, her husband worked for the separatist government as a police officer, and their meeting was photographed.

Vlad was arrested afterward, and his mobile phone seized with all his e-mail and social-media accounts open for the officers to read. He would have been in deep trouble then and there, except for the fact that they were mostly in English, which the police officers couldn't understand.

He convinced them he was writing satire - and thus was conceivably pro-government - but knew he had to stop blogging and tweeting, since he was no longer anonymous.

Released with a warning to stop his passport trade, he quickly returned to the safety of Ugledar, on the Ukrainian side of the line. His mother - who needed to stay in Donetsk; her salary from the hospital where she had worked her whole life was now supporting the entire family - begged him to end his online war against the separatists, and he agreed.

He had fooled the regular police, but knew the MGB - the separatist secret police, reportedly led by retired KGB agents - would not be amused when they read the file. Vlad stopped using the e-mail and social-media accounts that had been open on his smartphone when the police seized it.

He never saw my increasingly worried appeals for a reply. He also might never have returned to Donetsk, had his grandmother not fallen ill, and needed surgery, a few months later. His mother arranged for expedited medical attention, and Vlad travelled with his grandmother to Donetsk last August.

The surgery was successful, but Vlad was awakened at 7 the following morning by pounding on his door. The police had found out he was back, and knew exactly what kind of blogger he was.

"They didn't say anything to me, just that I had to go with them. Then they put my hands behind my back and put handcuffs on me," Vlad told me. He was put in a car and driven to a police station, where he was asked to sign a statement confessing that he had been trying to cheat people by taking money for documents he couldn't deliver.

Vlad says he charged just enough to cover his costs. The only person to offer more than that had been the police officer's wife. (Vlad believes one reason for the sting operation was to eliminate competition, since the separatists were offering a similar service for many times the price.)

"They kept saying that I had committed a crime and had to sign this statement," Vlad said. "I refused, of course."

We ordered a second round of coffee, but by this point I was worried about whether we should keep talking. The café was becoming more crowded, and an emotional Vlad was struggling to keep his voice down.

He spent 72 days in prison, an experience that wasn't as unpleasant as he had expected.

The guards were rough and the food was "not for humans, it was for pigs." But his fellow inmates were not what he had expected and feared. In today's Donetsk, it's often the intellectuals - rather than the criminals - who end up on the wrong side of the law.

"At first I was afraid. But a lot of the people who are in prison today are good people who were arrested because they did something small." Because they were seen as opponents of the regime.

Eventually, Vlad's lawyer - an old friend with contacts inside the separatist regime - cut a deal.

Vlad would be allowed out of prison, but the secret police would keep the SIM cards for both mobile phones he was carrying at the time of his arrest and, critically, hold onto his passport. He was free, but his world was now confined to the territory of the Donetsk People's Republic.

(He also left with that limp, having been hit by a car outside police headquarters. Vlad doesn't believe it was an accident.)

Without a passport, he couldn't pass through separatist military checkpoints. Nor could he legally hold a job. Most of his friends had left Donetsk. But he was not the only one the separatists were holding in painful limbo. "A lot of people are in the same position of me now. They have no documents, so they can't get out to Ukraine or to Russia. They are in a prison," he told me with a bitter laugh. Two men in leather jackets entered the coffee shop and took a table too close to us for comfort. We paid our bill and headed back out to the street.

It struck me that one of Vlad's early predictions - that Donetsk would end up like Trans-Dniestr - had come true. The city was now just as isolated and paranoid as that other pro-Russian ministate. I recalled my day in the Trans-Dniestrian capital of Tiraspol a decade earlier, and how I had arranged a meeting with one of its few remaining dissidents.

My source and I agreed that he would sit on a bench in a park. If his newspaper was open when I approached, it would be okay to talk. If not, I was to keep walking.

The Donetsk of 2016 felt like Tiraspol in 2003. Or, for that matter, East Berlin or Moscow a few decades before.

Vlad and I strolled slowly past a series of children's playgrounds that sat empty on a Saturday afternoon. "My mother says the the DPR is a republic for pensioners," Vlad commented. "Pensioners live very well. They collect one pension here in rubles, and then go to the other side and collect another one in Ukrainian hryvnia. So, of course, they support the republic."

But most young people - those not making money as fighters - have left, and little beside the pension system works. As we walked, Vlad listed off the names of factories that had closed since the outbreak of war.

I asked him what he did with his spare time. He used to relax by going to the park across Artema Street from his house, but stopped after someone - he can't fathom who - uprooted most of its greenery. "Our people have even stolen the trees from the park," he said. The words "our people" dripped with disgust.

He related how he and his prewar girlfriend - with family roots in Russia - had broken up in large part because they disagreed so vehemently about what was happening in Donetsk. He said he had not spoken to his only cousin, who worked for the government, since the war began.

Vlad said he had recently taken up boxing. It seemed an odd hobby for someone who had struck me as a burgeoning, if combative, intellectual when we first met.

But the intervening two years had clearly hardened him.

We parted for the afternoon, agreeing to meet up again for a precurfew drink that evening. My intention was not to interview Vlad again, but to give him what must have been a rare night off, to help him unwind, if only for a few hours. I wanted to see the cheerful young man I had met two years before.

It proved impossible. Shouting over 1990s Britney Spears songs and a plate of french fries at a bar in the city centre, I tried talking about soccer and hockey, but every conversation inevitably led back to politics and to Vlad's precarious situation. Shakhtar Donetsk, the city's beloved soccer team, was still one of Ukraine's best, but now plays its home games in the western city of Lviv.

The city's ice palace was looted and set ablaze in May, 2014 - HC Donbass has relocated to the Ukrainian-controlled town of Druzhkivka, and no longer plays in the KHL. I tried asking about movies, but Vlad hadn't seen any recently. He grumpily pointed out that the only films showing in local cinemas were ones stolen from the Internet.

The bar was crowded, but Vlad couldn't keep his voice down.

"There's no future here," he said several times, too loudly for my liking. "If I could leave this place,

I would never come back."

We parted, promising to stay in closer touch from now on. But I left Donetsk the next day feeling as if I was abandoning my friend to a rather unpleasant fate.

'I was very nervous'

The idea to rescue Vlad wasn't mine. A mutual friend called a few days after I left Ukraine. He said he had found a way to get Vlad out of Donetsk, if someone was willing to put up the money.

He had made contact with a network of smugglers who made their living driving back and forth across the front line, "tipping" soldiers on both sides not to look inside their vehicles.

One of the smugglers was claiming they could drive a person across the front as easily as any other contraband. They were asking for $400 (U.S.) for the whole operation.

I hesitated. No laws would be broken, since the border Vlad would be taken across was one no country in the world - not even Russia - recognizes, but this was clearly a dangerous endeavour. In my imagination, the smuggler would be using some poorly guarded back road, one where the fighting could flare up at any minute, potentially putting Vlad in the line of fire.

Paying for Vlad to escape was also against all the rules I'd been taught long ago at Carleton University's School of Journalism.

Journalists are supposed to maintain objectivity at all times. We're only to observe - and never get involved in - stories we report.

But Vlad and I had affected each others' lives since the moment I'd first come across his Twitter account. To pretend I'd had no impact on him, and played no role in creating the situation he was trapped in, felt ridiculous. I told the mutual friend that, if Vlad was willing to take the risk, I would pay the $400 from my own pocket.

Vlad indicated he was, indeed, desperate enough to trust a smuggler. "I hope it will happen soon," he wrote me by e-mail in early April. Two weeks later, the right combination of soldiers - those who knew not to look in the smuggler's car - were in position on both sides of the line. At 4 o'clock on a weekday morning, Vlad bade his mother goodbye, and got into a sedan outside his apartment. The driver was a man, as Vlad expected, but there was also a young woman in the back.

Nobody spoke.

After a short drive, they reached the separatist front lines.

The driver got out of the car. Vlad could see three armed men, but studiously avoided eye contact with them. "I was very nervous. I knew that, if they asked for my documents, there would be a big problem, and I would never have another opportunity to leave."

The driver came back a few minutes later and wordlessly set off again. Next came a Ukrainian checkpoint where, after a longer wait, the driver again arranged for his passengers to cross without showing any documentation.

Vlad exhaled as they left the war zone. He was dropped at the first bus station on the Ukrainian side of the line - he headed straight back to his grandparents' place in Ugledar - while the young woman stayed in the car with the driver. Vlad says he has no idea what ultimately happened her, or even why she was in the car. Neither wanted to know the other's story, or to share their own.

"As soon as I passed through the checkpoints, I began to feel free. The sky is bluer here than it was in Donetsk. The trees are more green," Vlad recounted with a wide smile when we met again, this time in a Kiev pub. Six weeks had passed since we'd last seen each other.

Over a table laden with cheese and beer - "there's no good beer in Donetsk," he declared with a wide smile as he sipped a pint of Czech lager - I asked him what he thought he'd do next.

Top of his mind was getting a new passport, something he was unhappy to discover would require paying another bribe.

"Nothing has changed," he said, referring to Ukraine as a whole.

Next up on Vlad's to-do list was restarting his Twitter account.

The separatists and their allies in the Kremlin would again be the target of @VoiceofDonetsk, but Vlad also plans to take on the problems he sees around him in "free" Ukraine. It bothered him that the Ukrainian soldiers had taken money not to look in a smuggler's car that night. He pointed out that it could just as easily have been stuffed with explosives.

Vladimir Simperovich plans to drop the anonymity this time around. He wants everybody to know his name. He has dreams of becoming a respected political analyst and pundit.

"I'm not afraid any more," he said as we soaked up a sunny late-April afternoon in Kiev.

"Now I can write as Voice of Donetsk and show my personality, and say yes when people ask to interview me. It's kind of a new life."

It looked like it. Just nine days after he'd escaped his open-air "prison," I noticed Vlad was again dressing and acting like the young man I had first met two years earlier. He was wearing an unbuttoned grey sweater over a white "Tokyo Tigers" T-shirt. He had sunglasses tucked into his hair, which had grown out of the crew cut he was sporting when we met in March. A pair of black earphones dangled from his slightly thicker neck. Over three meals we shared during the day our travels overlapped in Kiev, Vlad rarely stopped smiling.

The only time his mood dipped was when I asked if he thought he'd ever return to Donetsk.

"Donetsk was a good city. I used to think it was one of the greatest cites in Ukraine," he began. Now, he knows, he'll almost certainly never go back. Even if the war were to end tomorrow, Vlad says he wouldn't feel safe in Donetsk "until Lenin is removed from the central square and the Ukrainian flag flies there."

Those things are unlikely to happen any time soon. He can still see his mother when she travels to Ugledar, but he may never again see his home, or his local park, or Artema Street, or the bust of Alexander Pushkin where we had met so nervously just a few weeks before.

"Donetsk, for me, is a dead city," Vlad pronounced.

His voice softened as he said it, as if he were mourning a friend - one more casualty of the strange war in eastern Ukraine.

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

Associated Graphic

'Dear Russians,' anti-separatist Vladimir Simperovich, above, wrote early in the conflict. 'Please do not tell me what's going on in Donetsk. I am in Donetsk.'


The Ukrainian border checkpoint at Kurakhove: Travel to and from the breakaway republic of Donetsk is restricted and closely supervised.


The alarming Twitter post, accompanied by the photo of Vladimir, left, and Mark MacKinnon that was taken when they first met. Mr. Simperovich posted the image online, which Mr. MacKinnon thought might not have been wise.

Derelict billboards in Donetsk: All the turmoil has blighted a once-vibrant (and Western-oriented) economy in a city that Vlad now describes as a big 'prison.'


Empty pallets show what the stadium that once housed Donetsk's professional soccer team is now used for: a distribution centre for food aid.



Mark MacKinnon first flew to Kharkiv, about 400 kilometres east of Kiev, rented a car and headed south to Ugledar in Ukrainian territory, hoping to find Vlad there, safe with his grandparents. After a stop in Kramatorsk for documents, he had to spend the night in Druzhkivka (the new home of Donetsk's hockey team) after mangled roads hobbled his car. He was about to pass Krasnoarmiisk when Vlad's brother, Bogdan, called and arranged to meet him there. The news Vlad was alive but confined to Donetsk required a return to Slavyansk and a second overnight stay, before a border crossing at Kurakhove and a much-anticipated reunion in the separatist capital.

As tech darling Vision Critical prepares to go public, Sean Silcoff reports, its top ranks are embroiled in a corporate standoff
Saturday, May 21, 2016 – Print Edition, Page B7

Angus Reid was facing a mutiny.

It was April, 2014, and the executive chairman of one of Canada's most successful emerging tech companies, Vision Critical Communications, had just learned fellow directors were preparing to strip him of his "executive" title, effectively dismissing him from management.

Their main concern: Mr. Reid's constant meddling in the business since he had hired an outsider, Scott Miller, to replace him as chief executive officer in 2012. It had become so intrusive that several executives felt they could no longer do their jobs.

Mr. Reid looked enraged as he walked into the board meeting.

He confronted each executive and director individually, asking if he supported the move. "The reply across the board was 'You need to go!' " Mr. Reid said. "[It] was painful to hear." Among those at the table: his son, company founder Andrew Reid.

In the preceding nine years, Canada's most famous pollster had transformed his son's struggling startup into one of Canada's hottest software companies, a disruptive leader in the global market research business. With a new CEO and a new big-name investor - the venture capital arm of pension giant Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System - Vision Critical was positioned to go public with Mr. Reid as its chairman and largest shareholder.

But since that boardroom confrontation, the company's top ranks have been mired in conflict - centred on Mr. Reid - pitting directors and investors against one another in a corporate civil war involving some big names of the Canadian business establishment. Some directors have left after facing his ire. "A private company of its size shouldn't turn over directors [so] much," said one source familiar with the players. "It's been a power struggle."

The Vision Critical story is about more than one company's internecine squabbles. Since the downfall of Nortel Networks and BlackBerry, exciting public companies in the Canadian technology sector have been scarce, unlike in the United States, where, Google, Facebook, Netflix and others have become multibillion-dollar investor darlings. That is now starting to change. At a time when software companies are upending entire industries and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is trumpeting innovation as key to Canada's stalled economic growth, a number of homegrown, world-beating tech firms are expected to go public soon, following the lead of Ottawa-based Shopify and revitalizing Canada's public markets.

Near the front of the line is Vision Critical, which some investors see as a potential "unicorn" - a private tech company worth $1-billion or more. But the company's boardroom drama has cast a pall on Bay Street, where its squabbles are well known. On one side is Mr. Reid and friends who backed Vision Critical early on, including Canadian corporate stalwarts such as Corus Entertainment ex-CEO John Cassaday and retired Bay Street investment banker Mike Norris. Many are eager to sell down their holdings, including Mr. Reid. Combined with the pollster's 30-per-cent stake, early shareholders own slightly more than half the company.

On the other side are leading names of the new establishment, including chairman Ian Giffen and past directors Howard Gwin and Kevin Kimsa, who have built or served on the boards of many successful tech companies, as well as prominent Canadian venture capital firms OMERS Ventures and Georgian Partners. They are bullish on Vision Critical's future, but see Mr. Reid as the founder who's overstayed his welcome and can't decide if he wants to sell or stay involved. "It slows this company down," said one source close to the board. Said another: "It's one of the worst cases of 'founderitis' I've ever seen. Vision Critical could be a bellwether [Canadian tech firm] dominating global markets. It would just be a faster trajectory if management didn't have to worry about him all the time."

Despite the drama, Vision Critical took a major step toward an initial public offering this year, divesting a slower-growing unit so it could focus on its highgrowth cloud-based market research software business. But directors know they must address the boardroom discord. "It's clear to me there's been a misalignment between certain shareholders and the board/management as a group," said Mr. Giffen, the company chairman. "Before we go public, that alignment needs to be resolved."

'His own authentic self'

Angus Reid is one of the most recognized names in opinion research, but few Canadians know much about the successful entrepreneur, who sold his polling firm Angus Reid Group (ARG) to Ipsos SA in 2000 for $100-million.

Mr. Reid is a feisty, sturdy man, strongly opinionated and outspoken. "Angus takes up a lot of oxygen in the room," said pollster Darrell Bricker, who worked at ARG and now leads Ipsos Public Affairs. "He's got a big personality. He didn't call the company the Angus Reid Group because he wanted to be unknown."

The 68-year-old Mr. Reid is intelligent, salty and probing in conversation, but also forthcoming and candid, speaking in a clipped and purposeful tone, like a pot close to boiling. He has been known to send lengthy late-night e-mails to executives and directors, sometimes laced with pejorative language. "I have been, through most of my career, the dictator of the companies that I've run," Mr. Reid said during an interview.

He's also dyslexic and contends with ADHD and a speech impediment (a stutter "that still haunts me"). "Angus had this tremendous ability to never let anything get him down," Mr. Bricker said.

"He was just relentless."

Mr. Reid also holds the unlikely distinction of being the largest shareholder of one of Canada's top tech companies. Unlikely, not just because he's a pollster in his late 60s, but also because he frowns upon the "techno-optimism" that prevails in Silicon Valley. "There is a hubris [to the notion] that technology is the answer to everything that I find disturbing," he said.

He relates not to social media billionaires but to 20th century philosophers Ivan Illich and Marshall McLuhan - both strong Catholics like him - "who warned about the power of technology to transform society in ways that disconnect us from our better nature," he said. "I think tech entrepreneurism involves a selfboosterism, this mystique, this priesthood that frankly carries with it, to use an old Winnipeg expression, horseshit."

As for "the so-called smart money" private capital institutional investors, Mr. Reid doesn't think much of them, either.

"Most of the smart money has ended up looking pretty stupid," he said. When he tried to raise $5-million for ARG in 1999, "the first thing [venture capitalists] wanted to tell me was how to run my business," he said. "[That was] a short meeting."

"Angus was always his own authentic self. That's what worked for him," said his son Andrew. "He's one of those people who ... thinks about how bad things can be. Fear of failure drives [him] more than fear of success."

'Rock'n'Roll Research'

Mr. Reid was born in Regina in 1947, the third of eight children in a boisterous household. His father served in the Second World War; his mother earned a university degree in the 1940s, a rarity for women at the time. "I grew up in an environment highly charged about the need to serve," he said.

The family settled in Winnipeg, where Mr. Reid was educated by Jesuits, leaving him "with the desire to make some positive difference to the world."

He failed Grade 12 English and initially dropped out of school, but was determined to make something of himself. He enrolled at the University of Manitoba and was drawn to sociology - a field with "a wider spectrum to help understand society" - earning a PhD and later teaching there.

Mr. Reid was a restless academic and started his own polling company in 1979 above a local convenience store. It was an act of defiance after he questioned the methodology of a survey on Winnipeg politics by Martin Goldfarb, pollster for the Liberal Party of Canada. Mr. Goldfarb told him to leave polling to the experts. Mr. Reid instead launched a rival firm.

A chance meeting with John Turner won Mr. Reid an assignment as pollster for the shortlived prime minister in 1984, but the experience left a bad taste.

However, it gave Mr. Reid a chance to perfect a new style of polling, conducting overnight telephone surveys whose results could be published quickly, unlike Gallup polls, which were conducted in person.

Phone polling was expensive and not yet well established, so Mr. Reid set up offices across Canada to reduce then-high long-distance calling costs and send results by fax. Southam newspaper publishers agreed to run his rapid-fire polls, and soon, Angus Reid surveys on the Mulroney government became front page fare. By the mid-1990s, he was Canada's top public pollster and a leading market researcher for consumer brands.

He relocated to Vancouver, where employees called ARG "Rock'n'Roll Research" and dressed casually. "It was more like a colony of artists than a research company," Mr. Bricker said. But "if you couldn't work in that environment, it was a nasty, short, brutish existence."

Mr. Reid's company expanded quickly and booked $35-million in revenue in 1999. But the Internet was starting to destabilize the business as telephone response rates declined. He sold ARG to Ipsos in 2000 and retired at 54.

But he quickly grew bored of his cabin cruiser. "Slow boats just don't match my personality," he said in a 2005 interview.

As Angus Reid pondered his second act, son Andrew was struggling with his first. In the early 2000s, Andrew, now 39, was trying to keep his fledgling company Vision Critical afloat, cashing in investments to pay himself.

"Angus was telling me I'm an idiot and [saying] I should close and start a car dealership, because I'm clearly not cut out to be an entrepreneur," Andrew said. "[But] I felt like we were on to something."

Running a startup was a bold step for a young man who had grown up in the shadow of a colourful, brilliant entrepreneur father. Mr. Reid "embraces conflict and confrontation," said Andrew, a gentler person who is expressive and candid like his father. "Having a know-it-all father can be a bit intimidating."

When he was young, Andrew's father was away a lot. They often communicated in writing. "Growing up, a lot of tough conversations were actually had by letter," Andrew said.

When Mr. Reid was around, he didn't always fill the role his son craved. Asked if his father ever took him to Winnipeg Jets games, Andrew scoffed: "He didn't give a shit about sports."

Instead, Andrew shared a story about the time they built a model rocket when he was seven. "We bought this kit [and] it sat there for a few weeks. I kept bugging Angus to get involved. Day one, you're supposed to paint the rocket. Day two, you put stickers on and glue the pieces together.

Day three, you fire the rocket.

"We did all three phases in 20 minutes. Angus was like, 'We don't need to paint it, just glue this thing together.' We took it out to the park, and were arguing about who's going to push the buttons."

"I'm finally getting my dad time. Three-two-one, I push the button, it goes off, gets pretty high in the air and two of the wings pop off. It takes a 90-degree turn and it's gone.

"I start crying. Angus starts walking back to the car. He's like, 'That's it! We're done.' I'm bawling and [say] we should go find it. And he's like, 'No, it's gone, let's just go.' " Andrew laughed.

"That was a typical event in my childhood."

Andrew got into trouble frequently as a teenager and didn't apply himself at school. "I was probably on a path to [work the lifts] at Whistler," he said. His father insisted Andrew find his path in life. "I wanted nothing to do with what he did" professionally, Andrew said. "I think I finally stopped spiting him maybe five years ago."

Andrew "was the kid who really wanted to go as far away from me as possible," Mr. Reid said. "I think that's where he was going to find his identity."

A game-changer

Andrew found that at Vancouver Film School. He enrolled in the multimedia program and became highly motivated, coding at all hours and creating 3-D animation, websites and CD-ROMs. It was the dawn of the Internet age and "not many people knew how to program and do things for the Internet."

Validation came in 1999 when Mr. Reid asked his son to build ARG's website. "I was really excited about doing something that [Mr. Reid] didn't really know anything about," Andrew said. "It [was] kind of empowering."

Andrew joined ARG and handled other assignments such as developing virtual store layouts for consumer packaged goods firms to test product placement.

When Ipsos bought ARG, Andrew set out on his own. He founded Vision Critical in 2000 as a digital services firm, but the dot-com bust hit the business hard, and he did whatever piecework he could get.

Vision Critical's breakthrough came from one such contract in 2003. Shoe company Reebok wanted to recruit a "community" of 300 female runners it could tap on a continuing basis for their opinions. Andrew built a program to manage those communications and realized he could recycle the code for other clients.

Andrew's elder sister Jennifer, now 42, who had also worked for ARG, convinced Mr. Reid that Vision Critical had something special. Other research firms had tried similar initiatives but their efforts were broad, ineffective and lost money. "Andrew stumbled into a smaller scale that worked and was more technology-driven," she said. It was a less expensive way for companies to do their own research by creating large, standing online focus groups that companies could consult on a regular basis.

It was a disruptive idea: Market research firms jealously guarded the tricks of their trade. Using the Internet and the right software, "you could take what had been a very expensive, laborious process of building research panels and ... do it quickly, and really put it in the hands of reasonably unsophisticated people," Mr. Reid said.

"It was a totally game-changing laboratory for doing consumer research. I was so excited about the potential."

Some of Mr. Reid's friends warned him against getting involved, advising it was better to let his son learn from his own experience. Others said it was an opportunity to make amends.

Mr. Reid took the plunge. He invested $1-million in 2004 on the condition he become CEO.

"Angus is a forceful personality so there was no power struggle in terms of who was going to be the boss," said Jennifer, who also joined as head of corporate strategy.

Mr. Reid started in January, 2005. Andrew welcomed his father's involvement and was happy "to play any role" that would help the company succeed, he said. Mr. Reid said the move was "the most important business decision" of his career. "Vision Critical wouldn't be there if Andrew and I hadn't decided to match up, despite our differences."

A fortunate lawsuit

Mr. Reid brought experience, a good reputation and connections, raising about $27-million in capital between 2003 and 2010. In addition to investment banker Mr. Norris and ex-broadcast CEO Mr. Cassaday, Mr. Reid brought Vancouver real estate billionaire Bob Gaglardi and former Kingston Whig-Standard publisher Michael Davies in as investors during that period. For the most part, the didn't have to tap venture capital firms and give up much control or influence because he had wealthy friends willing to invest. To them, what Vision Critical did was secondary to the fact he led it. "I once said, 'If you ever start up another company, let me know,' " Mr. Cassaday said.

The early years brought the three Reids closer together, although their spouses labelled themselves the "Out-laws" as shoptalk consumed family dinners. Andrew "fosters an amazing culture that people want to be part of," said Jason Smith, president of products from 2004 to 2011. "Angus was clearly the driver of the business as CEO."

But Mr. Reid was determined not to build a family company and showed no favouritism, treating his children as any other employees. "I'd get this five-page letter [from Mr. Reid] about how I was doing a lot of things wrong," Andrew said. "I'd get really emotional about it. My wife [would say] "Listen, you guys love each other, you just want to be better."

Once Mr. Reid became involved in Vision Critical, Ipsos sued him for violating non-compete provisions in his employment contract. Mr. Reid eventually settled, agreeing not to conduct market research until 2006, when the contract expired.

Father and son alike agreed the lawsuit was the best thing to happen to Vision Critical. "It forced me not to get into traditional research, so I held off ... and really focused more on the software side," Mr. Reid said. Said Andrew: "If he didn't have a non-compete, he would have railroaded my whole company and turned it into a market research company."

In 2006, Vision Critical did start a market research and consulting (R&C) arm, hiring many former ARG employees. But "by that time, we were pretty invested in the community model" with 50 software customers, Andrew said.

Vision Critical began to take off.

Revenue grew from $5-million in 2006 to $50-million in 2009. The arrival of social media propelled demand for its software as consumers flooded Facebook and Twitter with unvarnished views, thwarting efforts by brands to control their messaging.

Multinational corporations flocked to Vision Critical to build customer communities. Banana Republic used its Vision Critical community to test new jeans.

Colombian airline Avianca used its tool to develop uniforms and test-market inflight magazine content. Brewer Molson Coors and power tool maker DeWalt developed products - and broadcaster Discovery Communications launched a network - based on input received through the Vision Critical platform.

Meanwhile, the R&C business paid the bills. Because some customers didn't want to manage the software, the R&C division conducted the research for them.

"Angus wanted the company to be a hybrid" of product and services, said president of products Mr. Smith But when Mr. Reid approached potential investors in 2011 for a significant capital injection, he struck out. The hybrid structure left the company with a split identity and didn't appeal to investors. It didn't matter that the profitable R&C business helped finance the money-losing software arm - investors were clearly more interested in the software.

R&C contracts were often oneoff, deals, and the division expanded by 10 to 20 per cent annually, posting gross margins around 30 per cent of revenue.

Software customers, meanwhile, entered into multiyear subscriptions and typically renewed.

While annual revenue from individual software sales might be smaller than services contracts, the "lifetime value" of customers often exceeded R&C deals. The software business also expanded by a much faster 30 per cent-plus a year, and margins exceeded 70 per cent. While many subscription software businesses lost money at the outset, tech-savvy investors were drawn to the promise of predictable, steady revenue growth and, eventually, large profits.

As a result, subscription software businesses commanded robust valuations of between three and seven times annual revenue, while services businesses were only valued at one-times revenue. Investors drawn to the software story often had little interest in services, valuing the whole at less than the sum of the parts.

Tech industry veterans loved Vision Critical's software story. One was Howard Gwin, a former top executive with Peoplesoft Inc. and director of some of Canada's top tech firms, who was invited by Mr. Reid to become a director.

Another was Derek Smyth, managing director with OMERS' newly formed venture capital fund. In August, 2012, OMERS Ventures paid $20-million for a 10-per-cent stake and got a board seat, initially occupied by Mr. Smyth.

The story shifts

By then, the story had shifted. Mr. Reid stepped down as CEO in 2011 to become executive chairman and recruited American-born Mr. Miller, previously a senior executive with U.S. market research firm Synovate, to become CEO.

He passed over his son, who was relegated to overseeing innovation and software development after briefly holding the co-CEO title prior to Mr. Miller's arrival.

"We needed to have someone with serious outside management experience," Mr. Reid said.

"Andrew's entire life had been at Vision Critical, and I felt we did not want to build this company as a family dynasty."

Like others in market research, Mr. Miller had originally been skeptical about Vision Critical and its approach. "Then I got into it and realized it was faster and more efficient" than existing methods, Mr. Miller said. "You were [surveying] people you actually knew, rather than worrying about ...unbranded, unnamed people that fill out surveys online."

Mr. Reid was thinking about reviving a long-standing dream - opening a non-profit polling institute - when he had an aortic aneurysm in late 2012 and needed surgery. After originally intending to help his son temporarily, he'd been at Vision Critical seven years. He was 65 and the health scare "reminded me of my mortality and served as a wake-up call - if you're going to [start] the public interest polling company, you'd better do it now," he said.

With a successor and new investor in place and a retirement project awaiting, the stage was set for a smooth transition. It didn't happen that way.

By early 2014, Vision Critical was a star of the Canadian tech scene. The company was growing quickly and had hundreds of employees. It had recently bulked up its Toronto-based executive suite, hiring a chief financial officer with public markets experience, Donna de Winter, and recruiting Mr. Smyth from OMERS Ventures to become chief revenue officer (the Reids remained in Vancouver, the company's home).

When older shareholders, including Mr. Reid, sold $10.5-million of stock in January, 2014, tech-oriented investors bought in, including Difference Capital Financial and Extuple Inc. Vision Critical was considered one of the most promising Canadian software IPO candidates since the dot-com meltdown.

Internally, a different storyline was unfolding. Mr. Reid was not stepping back at all, and the newly installed executive team was stuck reconciling sometimes different marching orders from the CEO and chairman.

Mr. Reid would denigrate senior executives in e-mails, and on at least two occasions copied early shareholders on information that should have gone only to the board, sources said. Sometimes, after Mr. Miller outlined the software strategy, Mr. Reid "would regularly talk about the fact this was something that may or may not work," one informed source said. Mr. Reid "was used to basically walking out of his office any time [he] felt like it and exerting [his] opinion to a company that was rallying behind Scott's new vision," another insider said.

Mr. Reid acknowledges "it [was] emotionally difficult to let go of 'my baby.'... [It] was an awkward period because I was still physically present and employing my very direct style" with staff.

More tension arose from the company's decision to target sales efforts beyond the market research departments of giant Fortune 500 companies as their budgets sagged and corporate resources were redistributed. Mr. Reid was openly skeptical about the strategy, despite data showing it worked, company insiders said.

By late 2013, executives were pressing for Mr. Reid to step back.

Directors, including Jim Fletcher, a onetime ARG executive and friend, tried to persuade him to give up his executive title and just become chairman. But months later, little had changed. "It became clear that this model was unworkable since staff were confused about who their real boss was," Mr. Reid admitted. "I miscalculated somewhat the amount of involvement I could and should have."

The board finally decided to act. OMERS Ventures' managing director Mr. Kimsa, Mr. Smyth's replacement on the board, and Mr. Gwin met Mr. Reid at a Whistler café just before a board meeting in April, 2014. They told him the board would remove Mr. Reid's executive designation and planned to replace him as chair that year.

Mr. Reid stormed out. When he walked into the board meeting minutes later, he declared he had just had "the most unprofessional meeting of my life," sources said. He accused the assembled directors and executives of going behind his back. But when it became apparent everyone else agreed with the move, "I felt awful," Mr. Reid said.

"No one wants to see a family member upset ... right or wrong," Andrew said. "If you do, you're fucked up." He declined further comment on the subject.

The meeting adjourned, and after weeks of negotiations, Mr. Reid quit as a director - even though he had the right to appoint two representatives to the nine-person board. "In retrospect it's clear that I did indeed have to leave and I'm glad I did," Mr. Reid said.

Vision Critical announced his "retirement" as executive chair that June, and some early investors, including Mr. Reid, sold $16million worth of shares to well regarded Toronto venture capital firm Georgian Partners and two other venture funds. But he left on a sour note, sending a brief farewell e-mail to staff that some felt lacked class. "It's easy to count the money I have made with this venture called Vision Critical but the fact that it has helped start so many careers is, well ...priceless!" he wrote.

"I've never seen a more insulting e-mail in my professional career," one recipient said. Mr. Reid said he "was merely trying to emphasize how much satisfaction I took" from creating so many jobs. "I'm sorry if some people took this the wrong way."

Another showdown looms

That summer, several company insiders felt relieved that the tension with Mr. Reid was over. He was launching his institute and assigned daughter Jennifer and Imax Corp marketing chief Eileen Campbell to the Vision Critical board.

"There was an expectation that Angus would go off and do other things," one senior source said.

"That lasted about six weeks."

"A guy of Angus' success and driving personality, it's hard to accept" the change, Jennifer said.

"I think that period was turbulent for him."

Indeed, as the largest shareholder, Mr. Reid said he had "very strong opinions about what the company should be doing."

Freed from his board duties and restrictions, he could openly communicate with other shareholders, notably those who had backed him years earlier. They had seen the value of their investment rise handsomely, but after investing for so long, many wanted to liquidate and pressed for an IPO.

"When you invest in startups, you don't do well until you get out," Mr. Cassaday said. "I'll judge the value of my investment at which time I sell."

Meanwhile, institutions like OMERS Ventures and Georgian had invested specifically because of the software and didn't want to rush to an IPO until the company was worth much more. The R&C division was not as big a value creator. They wanted it sold.

"That's the tension," Jennifer said, between "one group that had their money in for a long time and would maybe like some liquidity and another group whose money is newer. One group comes more from the research background and the newer folks from a tech perspective." Mr. Reid added another perspective: "Early individual shareholders are playing with their money. Later institutional shareholders are playing with someone else's money."

A key tension point for him was OMERS Ventures. The pension giant had negotiated a "hammer" when it invested: the right to veto an IPO that valued the company at less than $600-million. This didn't concern Mr. Reid initially, but OMERS Ventures wouldn't budge when he pressed the institutional investor to allow Vision Critical to go public at a lower valuation. By late 2014, he couldn't even get a meeting with the fund's representatives.

Mr. Reid became concerned by the number of company leaders with links to OMERS Ventures: Mr. Gwin was a former managing director. Mr. Smyth - who had negotiated the hammer for OMERS Ventures - was a Vision Critical executive. Chairman Mr. Kimsa was OMERS Ventures' board representative. Mr. Giffen, a tech industry veteran who joined the board in February, 2015, was an ex-OMERS Ventures adviser.

Even his friend Mr. Fletcher was on OMERS Ventures' advisory board.

Mr. Reid had invited them in but felt they were now delaying an IPO that he and his friends wanted. "[We] felt that our interests were being largely ignored by a board that was heavily tilted in the direction of later investors - mainly OMERS," he said.

But several observers say OMERS Ventures consistently supported the plan to focus on growing the software business and go public when the time was right. As for relenting on the hammer, "OMERS had no reason to act in an irrational economic way - why would they give in?" said one well-placed source.

(OMERS Ventures CEO John Ruffolo declined to comment.)

A 'game of chicken'

In late 2014, the board finally decided to sell the R&C division.

With fast-growing recurring revenue from the software business accounting for more than half of the company's $100-million-plus in 2014 revenue, a divestiture would make Vision Critical an attractive pure-play software company, ripe for an IPO.

But Mr. Reid was reluctant to sell a profitable, familiar business he felt was a vital support for the software business. The board and newer shareholders believed software could thrive on its own.

Mr. Reid changed his mind several times regarding the divestiture, and even considered bidding himself. His key concern was that the software-oriented leadership would dump R&C for a bargain price.

A late-night e-mail from Mr. Reid to the board in early April, 2015, sheds light on the conflict.

"All along I have said that I have serious misgivings about the process and leadership of the R&C sale," he wrote. "This is a very risky transaction that could end badly for all concerned." He and other shareholders "have the right to question the transaction," he wrote.

Management and directors grew alarmed at the prospect Mr. Reid could sink their plan. The divestiture required two-thirds investor support, and early shareholders including him owned slightly more than half the company.

The board called a shareholder meeting for April 28, 2015, at the company's Toronto offices to lay out its plans to divest the R&C business, invest in growing the SAAS (software-as-a-service) business and go public. By then, Mr. Reid supported selling the business - at the right price.

Directors wanted his blessing on the record and to win over all investors.

But the board had something else in store. They knew this was a rare opportunity to speak directly with Reid loyalists. They also knew they faced an impending proxy battle. "It became clear to me and other shareholders that [board] changes were required," Mr. Reid said. "It was time to look beyond the OMERS talent pool."

The task fell to Mr. Gwin, a member of the board's special committee overseeing the divestiture. He told the room that Mr. Reid had been a distraction inside the business and created a fragile environment by not supporting the overall strategy. He gave examples of Mr. Reid's intrusions and said senior executives would leave if his behaviour continued. (Mr. Gwin declined an interview request.)

Mr. Reid stormed out, later saying Mr. Gwin turned "a very good meeting ... into a circus with me and my friends as the lions and him as the guy with the whip." Mr. Norris, an ally of Mr. Reid and former deputy chairman of RBC Dominion Securities, also voiced his objection. (Mr. Norris declined to be interviewed.) Ms. Campbell, a board appointee of Mr. Reid, was furious. She hadn't been forewarned what Mr. Gwin would say and felt blindsided. She e-mailed Mr. Kimsa, Mr. Miller and other directors afterward, stating: "I am appalled ... that you would allow Howard to 'speak for the board' in what was, in fact, a personal diatribe." She called his presentation "a high stakes game of chicken." But Mr. Kimsa said in an e-mail to The Globe and Mail that "Howard was asked to present on behalf of the special committee and board ... and he did so with board-approved presentation material."

Current chairman Mr. Giffen added: "Howard Gwin's presentation on behalf of management/ board was a critical part of the process" to achieve "closer alignment [following] disagreement over strategic direction with a minority group of the shareholders." With the battle in the open, Mr. Reid that night e-mailed shareholders to say the board "is due for an overhaul" as it was "poorly aligned with the shareholder base and fails to provide even rudimentary management oversight."

To the seven non-Reid directors, there was no legitimate reason for board changes because the company's operations were performing well. They fought back by drafting a harshly worded circular that they were prepared to send to shareholders, and showed it to Mr. Reid.

In the draft, they accused him of being "volatil[e] in his posibudge tions," of hiring counsel to "overturn board decisions made while he was chair" and "secur[ing] unauthorized access to and quoted confidential board discussions.

"Furthermore, the draft circular alleged that Mr. Reid had petitioned the board to replace senior executives, "in one case threatening to take action against the board" if it didn't comply. It said his actions caused "significant unnecessary legal expense and distraction" for the board and company and created "an unworkable, hostile relationship between several members of the executive management team and himself."

Within weeks, "cooler heads prevailed," Mr. Reid said. The two sides began negotiating an armistice, and the accusatory text was withdrawn.

A work in progress Under the peace deal, Mr. Gwin and Mr. Fletcher agreed not to run for re-election at the June annual meeting in exchange for Mr. Reid's support for the board slate. Mr. Reid also agreed to support the R&C divestiture if it fetched a price equal to annual revenue, and to limit his interactions with the company to the CEO and chairman. OMERS Ventures agreed informally for one year to reduce its hammer price on an IPO to $400-million from $600- million.

The board hired Bank of Montreal to advise on an IPO and put the R&C business on the block. Ms. Campbell decided to bid, resigning to avoid any conflict. At his personally funded Angus Reid Institute, the maverick pollster again made headlines with surveys on national issues.

Meanwhile, Georgian and other institutional investors offered to buy $50-million worth of stock from early shareholders, chiefly Mr. Reid. Georgian negotiated with Mr. Norris and reached a tentative deal by the fall of 2015.

But Mr. Reid nixed the share sale - which would have significantly reduced his stake - and instead bought more stock from another investor. "My job is to make sure that if there is liquidity for early shareholders, that it not be some B.S. price delivered by private equity guys who want to take the rubes for a ride," Mr. Reid said.

Then, after appointing his son to the board in June (replacing Jennifer, who had left her management position in 2011), Mr. Reid abruptly pulled Andrew off last fall and took his place. Mr. Reid was returning to the board that had rejected him a year earlier. "I wanted to have a ringside seat and to have much more of a direct influence on the strategy" leading to an IPO, Mr. Reid said. "I [won't] give that up to minority institutional shareholders who have been Johnny-come-latelies."

Not surprisingly, his return was met with unease. Several directors urged him to stay away. Sources say there have been tense moments since, including board meetings where Mr. Reid has shouted at Mr. Giffen (who succeeded Mr. Kimsa as chairman after he left OMERS last summer). Mr. Reid said he couldn't care less how other directors feel. "This is not a popularity contest," he said.

Some observers sympathize with Mr. Reid's perceived internal conflict. "On any given day he'd love to have his liquidity and the chance to stay involved," one insider said. "That's not unusual given how successful this business is. I can see people being frustrated with that."

Despite ongoing tensions, Vision Critical this year sold its R&C division to MARU Group, a new company backed by British private equity firm Primary Capital Partners LLP, for almost $60-million - well more than one-time revenue. The price "both surprised and delighted me," Mr. Reid said. Under the deal, MARU will work closely with Vision Critical, reselling its software.

The software business is performing well and an IPO is expected by mid-2017. Mr. Reid said he's happy with the direction of Vision Critical, which has about 800 customers, including one-third of the Fortune 500, and offices on five continents, adding that CEO Mr. Miller "currently has my full confidence."

But the battles continue. What to do with the divestiture proceeds "is a matter of some discussion and debate," Mr. Reid said. Many insiders want to invest in sales and marketing to accelerate revenue growth but Mr. Reid doesn't want Vision Critical to keep losing money, as many subscription software firms do for years, and favours paying excess cash to shareholders.

Meanwhile, another proxy challenge is brewing. After chasing out several independent directors, sources say Mr. Reid has his sights on removing current independents Mr. Giffen and Don Lenz. "The board is a work in progress," Mr. Reid said. "I really can't evaluate our current directors until I know the alternatives."

Some observers worry that Vision Critical's valuation could suffer if the squabbles continue. "I don't think anybody would put money into the business without clarity about who controls the board," said a source close to the company.

If anyone has found peace, it seems to be Andrew Reid. Vision Critical has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. Andrew, now president of corporate innovation, said he sleeps "pretty well at night considering all the crazy stuff that's going on and the fact that every two seconds someone stops me and says, 'It must be really hard for you.' "

"We're more than certain of the opportunity and where we're going, and we're more than confident in our leadership team," he said. Determining the right shareholder structure, or capitalization table, "that, we need to figure out."

Associated Graphic

Andrew Reid, founder of Vision Critical Communications, brought his father into the private Vancouver software firm as chief executive officer and largest investor.


Renowned pollster Angus Reid is at the centre of an internal conflict in the leadership of Vision Critical Communications as the company prepares to go public.


Vision Critical's software offers a less expensive way for companies to do market research by creating large, standing online focus groups they can consult regularly.

Vision Critical's main operations are still based in Vancouver, but the company also has a bulked-up executive suite in Toronto.


'Vision Critical wouldn't be there if Andrew and I hadn't decided to match up, despite our differences,' Angus Reid said.


Andrew Reid, founder of Vision Critical, is now president of corporate innovation.


He has built empires and reshaped the media landscape. But as he battles long-time associates and faces uncomfortable truths, Moses Znaimer is seeking new purpose in what might be his most important mission yet: advocating for our right to die with dignity. Simon Houpt reports
Saturday, May 21, 2016 – Print Edition, Page F1

The odds of making a living in television have never been good, and if you've been reading the papers lately, you know they're getting worse. But young people are naturally hopeful creatures, and so, on a rainy afternoon earlier this spring, about 100 students at the Lakeshore campus of Toronto's Humber College crowded into a ground-floor classroom to seek advice from a man their dean introduced as "a living legend in the world of media and creativity and business."

If Moses Znaimer was all that, he was also becoming my own personal white whale. I had been pursuing him for more than a month, after he had been implicated in a nasty split with Susan Eng, an executive of the seniors advocacy group CARP, of which he is president. Even as Ms. Eng had grabbed headlines by telling reporters she had been fired for refusing to do his bidding on the hot-button issue of medically assisted dying, Mr. Znaimer had remained quiet.

Diffidence does not become him. For almost a decade now, he has been one of the country's most visible proponents of what he calls "a new vision of aging," tub-thumping at every turn to inspire a society-wide reappraisal of post-retirement life. But in recent years Mr. Znaimer has also been using the suite of seniors-oriented media outlets he oversees as the CEO and majority shareholder of ZoomerMedia Ltd. - radio stations, Zoomer magazine, and a handful of TV channels including the flagship VisionTV - to goad the federal government into dropping its restrictions against assisted dying. With new legislation now before Parliament, a victory lap would seem in order; and yet the flap with Ms. Eng had marred the moment, highlighting what some associates say is Mr. Znaimer's tendency to let his robust ego cloud his management decisions.

After a month of discussions with his head of communications had not borne fruit, she suggested I show up at Humber and maybe snap off a few questions during the meet-andgreet.

The lights dimmed and a video began to play on a large screen. The scene was 1950s Montreal, as a fresh-faced anglo family took delivery of its first TV and settled in to watch an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Suddenly, the screen exploded into a jazzy, hyperactive montage of TV's black-and-white days: Lassie, Lucille Ball, and The Lone Ranger; Elvis, the Beatles, and Hockey Night in Canada; Pierre Trudeau scolding a reporter about "bleeding hearts."

Every few seconds, a quick clip of a boy's watchful eyes, illuminated by the phosphorescent glow of a cathode-ray tube.

Then there was Mr. Znaimer, circa 1995, standing on a downtown sidewalk before an array of nine television sets, the city thrumming around him: "That kid, of course, was me," he declaimed in his trademark stop-start rabbinical rhythm. "I had bought my family's first set with my bar mitzvah money, and while I didn't then realize I was of the very first all-television generation, I sensed somehow that having visual entertainment, perpetually on tap and conveniently delivered to my house - to my bedroom - was a revolution."

To my left, a student looked down at his lap, thumb hovering over an iPhone which displayed the first page of Google hits for "Moses Znaimer."

The sizzle reel rolled on, quick-cutting through a selection of Mr. Znaimer's career highlights: CBC wunderkind, co-founder of Toronto's street-smart CITY-TV, originator of MuchMusic, Bravo!, Space, and more than a dozen other specialty channels. Off in the shadows of the classroom, Mr. Znaimer smiled enigmatically, flanked by four employees.

About 15 minutes into the video, Frank Sinatra began to croon: "The best is yet to come." Covers of Zoomer magazine spun in and out, its glam editor, Suzanne Boyd, explaining in a CBC News item that "Moses has coined the most amazing word. People want to call themselves Zoomers ... he's just caught a moment." Then, a more-recent vintage Mr. Znaimer, this time standing in a brick-and-beam studio with a baby grand piano behind him. "The world is run by 50-to-80-year-olds," he declared to the camera, with a chuckle. "The 20-year-olds, they're in the basement. They don't have a pot to pee in."

The 20-year-olds at Humber began to shift in their seats.

Mr. Znaimer was once a godfather of Canadian youth culture, the cool bachelor who let the neighbourhood kids muck around in his rec room, but he hasn't spent much time with them lately. In 2007, four years after he was deposed from the top job at CITY-TV and its stable of purebred TV channels, he founded ZoomerMedia. The next year, in a canny move, he took control of CARP and sought a type of fission: CARP would get guaranteed access to Zoomer's multiple media platforms, augmenting its political and marketing clout; the group's agenda, meanwhile, would energize Zoomer's outlets, helping them stand out in a crowded media universe by giving them a social mission.

"I think having a cause is an enormous help in creating focus," Mr. Znaimer told me some time later.

"The linkage between the advocacy and the media - that's one of my real contributions, this model, to see it working."

His first cause was rebranding CARP itself, banishing the words that had underpinned the acronym - Canadian Association of Retired Persons - because he cannot condone even the notion of retirement.

"The best way to keep going is to keep going," he likes to say.

But where CARP had once limited its advocacy to mundane issues such as pension reform and taxes, it began throwing its weight behind such envelopepushing causes as the liberalization of marijuana laws and physician-assisted suicide. Under Mr. Znaimer's direction, VisionTV aired panel discussions and commissioned documentaries about death by choice; Wanda Morris, the CEO of the advocacy group Dying with Dignity Canada, of which Mr. Znaimer is a patron, appeared at his TED-like ideaCity conference in 2012; Mr. Znaimer penned columns in Zoomer magazine voicing his support for a person's right to choose his or her own death; Zoomer's radio broadcasts frequently covered the issue.

The shift has sometimes been messy. Ms. Eng, a respected lobbyist, says Mr. Znaimer fired her because he objected to her insistence that the organization adopt a neutral stance on assisted dying. (A statement posted to the CARP website disputes Ms. Eng's account, and demurs on the reasons for her dismissal. "It is our policy not to comment any further on employment matters such as these.") The day after Ms. Eng's departure, Mr. Znaimer replaced her with Wanda Morris.

Ms. Eng told me recently that she intends to sue Zoomer: "I am pursuing my legal rights, and I will be alleging wrongful dismissal." The four employees who handled advocacy for CARP have followed her out the door, but Mr. Znaimer is unperturbed. "They were the wrong employees in the wrong place. They resigned."

Ms. Eng's contentious firing is not the only sign of strain at the company. In recent years, old friends and colleagues have grown tired of Mr. Znaimer's behaviour, and have abandoned him. Zoomer is being sued by a number of ex-employees, and has been in the courts defending itself against former business partners. This spring the company sold off its crown jewel, the 2.6-acre property in Liberty Village known as the ZoomerPlex which houses its operations, in a bow to financial pressures. "My balance sheet sucked so badly," Mr. Znaimer told me flatly.

ZoomerMedia, which trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange, is worth a fraction of its former value.

And as the Canadian television industry enters what is being called the Great Unbundling - a period of expected upheaval, as TV carriers begin allowing consumers to pick-and-pay for exactly which channels they want, and no more - independent outlets such as Zoomer's VisionTV, known for its daytime religious programming and prime-time British fare, look especially vulnerable.

Still, young people are not the only hopeful creatures, and at Humber, Mr. Znaimer projected an air of self-satisfaction. He dismissed social media as a "fad," said Facebook and Twitter have the evanescent nature of a hot nightclub living on borrowed time, insisted that advertisers are returning to conventional TV, and chuckled at "proponents of the 'Television is Dead' mythology," who venerate YouTube.

Mr. Znaimer name-checked the founders of Vice Media, Shane Smith and Suroosh Alvi, whose youthoriented online company recently launched a raucous TV channel. Creators "are using YouTube as a stepping stone, it's not the end destination," declared Mr. Znaimer. "What they want is a TV show. Vice - probably the most successful of alternative disruptors - well, what is their biggest boast?

That they finally got their hands on a TV channel!"

He paused, then seemed to relish his next thought. "This may be a bit provocative for Shane. I know those guys, a little bit, I invited them to speak at ideaCity many years ago. Very clever, those guys." Mr. Znaimer looked to the back of the room, where two video cameras tracked the proceedings - one belonging to Humber students, the other to a Zoomer videographer - and made as if he was personally addressing Smith. "I did say a few years ago, Shane, 'Any sissy can make a program. Real men and women make channels.' And you're about to discover the difference."

The crowd yelped like boxing fans tasting blood.

Mr. Znaimer's smile grew wide. A few seats away from me, a student emitted a low whistle. "Ooh, yeah. Shots fired!" he said.

'Oh, we had such fun!' After the talk, a handful of students lined up to snag some face time with the legend. Mr. Znaimer wore a pink cashmere V-neck sweater atop a white dress shirt buttoned up to the neck, and a leather jacket emblazoned with a small logo on the chest commemorating CITY-TV's 25th anniversary, which was in 1997. I approached to make my pitch for a sitdown, explaining that I was interested in exploring how he had gone from being a patron of youth culture to one of Canada's most ardent advocates for choice in life's infirm final chapter. His video presentation had boasted that, long before YouTube and other social media, he had been an early proponent of user-generated content with the CITY-TV show Speakers' Corner. I told him I wanted to discuss his thinking about the state of media.

He was heading off in a couple of days to the ZoomerShow lifestyle expo in Vancouver, where consumers would browse among dozens of merchants hawking seniors-oriented products and services, and take in tribute bands playing covers of ABBA, Chicago, Anne Murray, and Roy Orbison. He said he'd be pleased to speak with me on his return, and that I should arrange an interview for the end of the day so there would be fewer interruptions. Some weeks later - after more back-and-forth, and one last-minute cancellation - I arrived at the ZoomerPlex, a collection of one-storey offices in the west end of Toronto, hard up against a Public Storage outpost.

Mr. Znaimer's vision for the Plex was that it would be a hub of creative activity: the site of classical concerts airing on Zoomer's radio stations and tapings of VisionTV's current-affairs chat show, The Zoomer, just like the production bacchanal of CITY-TV's renovated gothic HQ on Queen Street West, where newscasts went to air from street-level studios cheek-by-jowl with MuchMusic's live shows and broadcasts. (Former employees note other similarities: CITY-TV's tag line boasted "News-Movies-Music," while Vision has "News-Movies-Music-Faith.") On this day, things were quiet at the Plex. In the lobby of CFMZ-FM, a Bach sonata played at low volume on a small radio perched atop the desk of an absent receptionist.

Mr. Znaimer was running late, so I was ushered into the sunlit office of his two assistants, where a couple of other Zoomer employees waited to snag some time with the boss. Gail Gordon, who has served as his executive assistant on and off since the early 1970s, talked fondly of CITY-TV's early days.

"Oh, we had such fun!" she exclaimed. Oversized images of Mr. Znaimer peered down from the walls.

A bookshelf to my left held a jar of jelly candies from Bulk Barn and copies of The Zoomer Philosophy, a bound collection of Mr. Znaimer's magazine essays outlining his vision of modern aging. There was a mock recruitment poster for something called the Zoomer Inclusive Party, with Mr. Znaimer as a latterday Uncle Sam. "Uncle Moses Wants You," it said.

"Sooner Or Later You're a Zoomer Too!"

After 45 minutes or so, Mr. Znaimer emerged from his office. "Did you give Simon a jelly to soften him up?" he asked Ms. Gordon. He pointed at a photo frame behind me, which held a pair of sepia-toned stills from the 1984 drug caper Misdeal (a.k.a. Best Revenge), back in the day when he was a fairly regular B-movie bit player. "I played Mr. Big, and that's John Heard. He comes at me with a gun." He plucked a copy of The Zoomer Philosophy from the shelf, flipped through it, then read the title of Chapter 7 aloud. "Live Well, Do Good, Die Broke," he chuckled. "Conrad [Black, the former newspaperman and a Zoomer host] took exception to that. He just, philosophically, took exception to dying broke."

Mr. Znaimer put down the book, turned on his heel, and walked back into his office. His communications person signalled for me to follow.

From Tajikistan to TV maven For a man who believes he is ill-treated by the print press, Moses Znaimer is one of the most mythologized media executives in Canadian history, perhaps the only one to have attained the one-name status granted to religious, political, and entertainment icons. His story is irresistible, even to the ink-stained wretches whom he believes resent the cultural dominance of TV. Born in 1942 in Soviet Tajikistan, where his Latvian father and Polish mother had found refuge from Hitler's advance, Mr. Znaimer came to Canada with his family six years later, settling in a third-floor walk-up on Montreal's gritty St.

Urbain Street. He has two siblings: Libby, who is Zoomer's business reporter; and Sam, a venture capitalist.

Mr. Znaimer recalled those early years with fondness in Passages: Welcome Home to Canada, a 2002 hardcover collection of essays by Canadian immigrants. At his parochial Jewish school, he wrote, "I led the [school's Sabbath] services as a cantor and was pretty good at it. In fact, I developed a bit of a following, mostly Orthodox girls who would come every week to catch my solos. It was my first taste of performing, of being in the spotlight, and of what we would today call groupies." Irving Layton, who occasionally appeared on TV and radio, was one of his teachers, providing Mr. Znaimer his first glimpse of someone who worked in the world of media.

He did his undergrad at McGill, received a master's degree in government at Harvard, and then moved to Toronto, where he landed at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He and another producer created the radio show Cross Country Checkup, a technologically innovative broadcast which allowed regular people to have their opinions heard by listeners thousands of miles away.

By 1968, Mr. Znaimer had made the leap to an onair position at CBC's TV operations, interviewing celebrities such as Dustin Hoffman and Gloria Steinem for the current-affairs program The Way It Is. In a clip of the final show from that season which is posted online, he and his co-hosts - older and more seasoned journalists including Patrick Watson, Warren Davis, and Barbara Frum - speculate about the future of the medium. Playing the Young Turk, Mr. Znaimer sketches out for them a vision of specialty television, more than a decade before it came to pass. "If we broke up the [TV] and said, 'One channel - news; one channel - variety; one channel - drama, we ... make it easier for someone to get exactly what he or she wants out of television," he explained.

If Mr. Znaimer was prescient, he was also cocky, and an evidently poor cultural fit within the conformist CBC. He left to try his hand at venture capital, but by 1972 he had been drafted to run CITY, the first privately owned independent TV station in Toronto. The early on-air product was often amateurish, but Mr. Znaimer saw the channel's lack of polish as a point of pride. And he cast his talent to reflect the changing face of the city itself, as Toronto's Protestant establishment began to give way to a new multi-culti makeup. A takeover in 1979 by radio giant CHUM Ltd. gave CITY a financial lifeline and allowed Mr. Znaimer to plot a future in the new specialty-channel universe he had foreseen. Backed by CHUM's cash, he launched MuchMusic in the fall of 1984.

Some years earlier, Mr. Znaimer had attended a performance of a play called Tamara that was staged in a 14-room century house in Toronto's Trinity Bellwoods Park. Set in a louche 1920s Fascist Italy, the play offered audiences the opportunity, according to one newspaper account, "to be right there - on the bed, behind the divan or even in the men's room - to visit and watch a house full of aristocrats and servants mate, murder and masticate." As the action unfolded across the sprawling house, audience members could follow any one of the 10 characters; if they were bored, they could simply switch to another. At intermission, the audience convened for dinner and helped each other piece together the various strands of the plot. It was implicitly democratic, and formally radical: each character had a story to tell, none more important than any other.

Mr. Znaimer was so taken with Tamara that he invested in it, becoming (as with CITY-TV's broadcasts) its "executive producer." He took it to Los Angeles, where it ran for about a decade with an ever-changing cast that included Karen Black, Anjelica Huston, and Shari Belafonte, as well as Mr. Znaimer's long-time domestic partner Marilyn Lightstone. Another production played New York in the late 1980s.

Tamara's medium carried messages.. He called the play "a living movie," a phrase he would come to use to describe the studio-less environments he later built for CITY-TV and its cable spawn. It was also an early manifestation of Mr. Znaimer's belief in autonomy and self-determination: that people should be able to choose their own storyline, their own niche TV channels, their own way to die.

A passion for advocacy Mr. Znaimer is beaming as I follow him into the office. He stands behind his desk, holding up a cheque for $5,747,000 that he is about to send off, which he says represents Zoomer's final payment for VisionTV. "I have cleared off all my debt," he declares. "We're now in really good health."

Still, he begins with a caution: There are a couple of subjects on which he will not say much, including what he sees as the future of media. "People say, what would you do about this, what would you do about that? I know what I would do, but I am not going to tell you." It's a business secret, he explains.

So we discuss that cheque. The lack of debt means Mr. Znaimer no longer has to answer to the banks, which had been breathing down his neck. (According to regulatory filings, ZoomerMedia had been in breach of a debt covenant, and RBC had given the company a tight deadline to resolve the matter.) He has always prized independence. It allows him to do whatever he wishes with his outlets, even if that means strapping their fate to the rockets of contentious causes. "I've met a lot of business leaders who say, 'I never impose my personal views, it's just business, we do a lot of social research and give them what they want,' " he says. "It's not me. Personal experience, personal taste, I make the things that I like and I find out how many people agree with me."

We are supposedly discussing his advocacy, but the words also reflect his earlier time as a media mogul, when he seemed to be minting a new channel every six months. Back at Humber, he had slipped up and referred to "the suits who currently operate some of my own channels." He didn't mention the company by name, but he was referring to Bell Media, which a few years ago scooped up CHUM-City's specialty channels, including Space and MuchMusic. He seems especially heartbroken over Bravo!, which under his direction had been an exuberant chronicler of the performing arts but now shows mainly U.S. network dramas.

"It was the most beautiful channel in the world! I took great pride. That red curtain!" he says, recalling the animated intro to shows. "Fanfare for the Common Man! 'Da-da-daaa!'" he sings. "It was great. It was beautiful. And it was honourable!"

"And now?" he says. "It is what it is."

Still, there is honour to be found elsewhere, in causes such as dying with dignity, which he says attracted him for the same reason that he backed medical marijuana. A long-time squash player, he was hampered by chronic pain after knee surgery.

His doctor prescribed Vioxx - but then, a short time later, regulators yanked the drug from the market because of an increased risk of heart disease. "I'm thinking, a legal synthetic can kill me. But I've been around marijuana my whole life - if you're in show business, communications, media, music ..." He trails off, then explains: "I'm not a smoker. But I know that if I can get a puff or two down, it kind of takes the top off [the pain]."

He realized, he says, that thousands of people were being charged every year with possession - "mostly kids. These are my MuchMusic viewers.

That's not right. And so: the personal, to the professional, to a position." So it was with assisted death.

"At some point, I think, I'm going to be old. If I'm lucky, I'm going to be really old. And then one day I may have a debility. Chances are, I will. And in that last period of my life, I should have a decision about whether I go out screaming in agony or whether I can find a peaceful exit."

But it is more than that. Though he has thrived in an industry that took root largely under the protection of a federal government trying to keep American cultural forces at bay, and he is profoundly grateful for the haven that Canada offered his family after the war, he is sharply resistant to the authorities - be they government, medical, or religious - meddling in people's lives.

Or their deaths. "The image of a half-dozen hale and hearty suited men in their 40s and 50s, to add still another layer of review to someone who's in indescribable agony, is an arrogance that I don't think we should have to countenance," he says. "If you think there's something purifying about that kind of pain, then you are welcome to it. But that you should have the hubris to tell me, is astonishing."

His pace, normally mannered, quickens as he speaks of himself as a non-conformist. "I'm not afraid of being the outsider," he explains. "Because, you know, when you see yourself as an outsider, there are two classic responses. I think the majority of people try to pass. And I rather intuited what Cocteau said." To wit: 'Whatever the public blames you for, cultivate it; it is yourself.' Sometimes, the non-conformity and passion for advocacy can bump up against ethical boundaries. A documentary entitled Pensioner Power, which aired on VisionTV before the federal election last fall, noted that seniors in Israel, Croatia, and Slovenia had enjoyed brief success with their own political parties, but that their power had quickly withered; the program concluded they were better off trying to effect legislative change through lobby groups.

Though the program amounted to an extended commercial for CARP, it failed to disclose Zoomer's ties to the group.

Everywhere, upheavals If Mr. Znaimer values independence, the modern Canadian media market does not. In 2009, Zoomer paid $25-million for a collection of assets that included VisionTV and OneTV, a small specialty channel focused on wellness and spirituality. The purchase, Mr. Znaimer said at the time, "puts me back into TV, where I have a little experience, and a few ideas that should grow shareholder value." He received a vote of confidence when Prem Watsa's Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. purchased 28 per cent of ZoomerMedia Ltd. for $17.6-million, giving the company a $63-million total valuation.

But Zoomer has lost more than 60 per cent of its value since then; this week, its market capitalization hovered in the neighbourhood of $22-million.

Zoomer magazine loses about $1-million annually; although Mr. Znaimer insists advertising agencies are starting to realize the value of targeting his "gang," last year both the magazine's subscriber and ad revenue were down. Still, Mr. Znaimer's own financial situation remains comfortable: He has a professional services contract with ZoomerMedia that pays him a flat rate of more than $1.5-million in annual compensation.

He says he is unconcerned about the share price.

"Do I wake up every day looking to pump my stock?

No," he says. "I don't know and don't look at the share price." He chuckles. "I know I'll be drummed out of the club of CEOs." (Still, when I mention the low market cap during a subsequent interview, Mr.

Znaimer retorts that the share price has just gone up.)

To be sure, even the large media operators are flailing. Bell Media's conventional TV stations, which include the CTV and CTV2 networks, lost more than $20-million in the year ended Aug. 31, 2015. Rogers Media, which now owns the CITY-TV network, recorded a whopping $67-million operational loss on its conventional TV operations. But independent channels such as Vision are worse off because they have little negotiating muscle with the companies that bring them into people's homes, such as Rogers Cable or Bell Fibe.

"All the cards have been dealt to the [carriers]," says Mr. Znaimer. "There's this radical imbalance of power, and regardless of how good my channel might be, it is a rounding error in a company that's doing 12- or $20-billion a year." He blames the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission for giving the green light to pick-andpay under the guise of empowering consumers, and for failing to make the argument that bundling channels is both financially and culturally advantageous. "The beauty of the bundle is that it permits falling on something you didn't know about," he says.

Once an energetic prophet of the future, he now sounds disheartened by how things have turned out. "The thing about buying exactly what you want is that you're in these silos. The digital world, which appeared to be this combining force when it first arrived, has now revealed itself to be a tremendous fragmenting device," he says. Still, Mr. Znaimer insists there is life in the old channels: He'd love to get his hands again on CITY or MuchMusic.

"There are managers who want to suggest [the channels] are in the grip of history. And I believe that talent matters," he says. "We have too many suits and too many MBAs on that side of the business." The art of the channel has been lost, he says.

But is that because the channels stopped trying to be more than mere collections of shows? (Mr. Znaimer decries the large companies that program the same shows across many of their properties: This year, for example, the drama Castle aired on Bell Media's CTV, CTV2, and Bravo.) Or is it because viewers have now become their own programmers, rendering the notion of the 'channel' obsolete?

In 1995, Mr. Znaimer produced and starred in TVTV, a three-hour pet project that aired on CBC. In the special, he unveiled his 10 Commandments of Television, McLuhanesque aphorisms that highlighted the medium's political power and esthetic underpinnings. Some were mere platitudes ("Television is the triumph of the image over the printed word") while others only later became obvious.

("TV is as much about the people bringing you the story as the story itself.") But it's difficult, in this era of social media, to not notice that the most insightful of his commandments are even more applicable to the new platforms. Like this one: "The true nature of television is flow, not show; process, not conclusion." (Here's looking at you, my endlessly scrolling Twitter and Facebook feeds.) Or this: "Print created illiteracy. TV is democratic. Everybody gets it." He might as well be talking about Instagram or Snapchat.

Mr. Znaimer himself has a Twitter account, but despite its smiling avatar, he is a largely unenthusiastic user of the service. He says he understands the appeal of social media, but he finds it enervating. "It's the attraction of being a star. Everybody gets to be a star for a minute," he shrugs. But the sheer volume of users - take Speakers' Corner and multiply it by millions - "reduces it to meaninglessness. So - everybody and nobody is a star. And [Warhol's] 15 minutes has been reduced to 15 seconds."

He sniffs. "So - fine."

Technological upheaval is not the only fight Mr. Znaimer has been waging: He has also been fending off lawsuits. A developer of seniors residences by the name of Bruce Stewart said in a statement of claim filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice that, in 2010, he was creating a customizable TV service - something like the news channel CP24, with its split screens and local content - that would be carried in retirement residences, adult-lifestyle condominiums and seniors apartments. He claimed that Zoomer requested a meeting with him early that year, and that Mr. Znaimer himself was so intrigued with his idea that he "advised Stewart that [he] should look no further for funding as ZoomerMedia would be able to provide all funding that would be required." According to the claim, Zoomer committed to providing content, too.

But Zoomer failed to fulfill its financial obligations, according to the claim, and in May, 2011, the company informed Mr. Stewart that it would not be

Associated Graphic



The case against Mr. Schacter
For more than two decades, children in Toronto's Orthodox Jewish community have been saying they were abused by a teacher. Selena Ross looks at why it took so long for the allegations to reach a court room
Saturday, May 21, 2016 – Print Edition, Page M1

The Service Ontario office on Lawrence Avenue West is the most public of places: public in its stream of passersby and public in the sense that it's a conduit, bland and efficient, to the government.

That is where Joe Schacter sat down at a computer terminal in December and began looking at child pornography, police say.

Mr. Schacter reportedly appeared surprised when people were alarmed enough by the photos, allegedly of little boys in bathing suits, that they called police. The 55-year-old, a retired teacher at two private Orthodox Jewish schools, was arrested and charged.

That news, reported in local media, ended a 20-year internal battle for Adam, a North York man. He picked up his phone and asked to speak to a police detective. Joe Schacter, he said, had coached him into performing sex acts for three years of his childhood.

Adam was in his 40s and he says in every year of his adult life he had talked himself out of making that call. "'I should go to the cops,' " he would say to himself. " 'I should go to the cops. I should go to the cops.' " Then, always, came a second thought: "You could destroy your life. You could destroy your kids."

Adam's allegation that Mr. Schacter was a sexual predator was not new to police and certainly not to many in Toronto's Orthodox Jewish community.

According to documents obtained by The Globe and Mail and interviews with community members, Mr. Schacter has been accused multiple times over a 23-year period of sexually assaulting little boys. In the early nineties, criminal charges were laid, then withdrawn. A decade later, after more allegations, the Ontario College of Teachers ordered a disciplinary hearing. It was cancelled and Mr. Schacter continued to teach until he retired in 2013.

There's no documentation about why the cases were dropped, but in the close-knit community, it was understood that the children had recanted, their families unwilling to proceed.

Adam - not his real name - watched from afar as the community and authorities proved willing to forget the formal allegations.

"It came up, everybody spoke about it, then it went away," he said. "And then years just passed and went on and went on."

Years before the Catholic Church was forced to publicly confront sexual abuse by its priests, Orthodox communities around the world were doing the same in their own way. Old religious principles encourage Jews to settle conflicts amongst themselves rather than handing one another to the secular justice system, some believe.

But child abuse, others argue, should be an exception - or rather, they say, it has always been a misinterpretation of God's word to think He wouldn't want children protected at any cost.

9 Settling that question has been especially agonizing in Toronto. Unlike most places with large Orthodox populations, particularly Brooklyn, Canada has no statute of limitations on sexual assault. So a very real debate over whether to call 911, even on a single man, has loomed for an entire generation.

After Adam went to police earlier this year, three other men went on record. Mr. Schacter faces charges of gross indecency and sexual assault going back to 1982. The allegations have not been proven in court and his lawyer declined to comment. Mr. Schacter is living at his mother's North York home on bail.

Mr. Schacter hadn't been raised Orthodox, according to a dozen people from Toronto's Orthodox Jewish community who spoke to The Globe and Mail.

At around age 20, he said he wanted to become more religious and joined an Orthodox synagogue. Eitz Chaim was one of two private schools that hired him, and dozens of families invited him home for Sabbath dinners.

They didn't know that Mr. Schacter didn't follow a traditional Orthodox lifestyle in his own home, Adam said.

The young, animated teacher was well-known for inviting boys to visit his house after class. At Adam's house, his parents didn't allow TV, movies, comics or junk food. He and his friends had spent their free time riding bikes or resting at home, whose quiet could sometimes be "oppressive," he remembered.

Mr. Schacter had all the novelties of the early eighties: not just junk food, but Pringles chips; not just movie rentals, but his own VHS tapes.

"I'd walk over and he'd have my Batman comics, which I loved," Adam said. "You know, kids have milk and cookies and watch their favourite television show at home? I was doing it there."

The teacher also began showing Adam porn, he said. Eventually, he alleges, Mr. Schacter taught him how to perform oral and manual sex, and would take Polaroids of him.

"I had no idea what was going on," he said. "It was all new to me, at 10, 11."

After the first incident, he says he went home and ran past his mother to his room, "altered," saying he didn't feel well. The visits continued until Adam started high school, and he never spoke of them, he said. He long believed he had willingly traded sex for the potato chips and comics he loved. "For years it was my failure to have been lured for treats," he said.

Then, in his early 20s, Adam's mind "popped," he said. He heard that a young Eitz Chaim student had complained that Mr. Schacter had touched him.

"I thought 'Oh my goodness.

It's not just me. It could be hundreds.' "The child's parents were incensed. They went to the police and Mr. Schacter was arrested and thrown in jail for a night. The community exploded with talk.

It's unclear exactly what two charges were laid in 1993 or why they were dropped. The court records have been destroyed, though documents from the Ontario College of Teachers refer to them, saying Mr. Schacter was accused of using his hand to touch the boy "for a sexual purpose." The boy's parents and Eitz Chaim declined to comment. Toronto Police did not provide an interview with an officer in charge of that case, who still works in the local division.

But the Globe spoke to several people who remember the sequence of events. They said the boy withdrew the charges after the family spoke to others in the community. The family worried the father's livelihood, which depended on an Orthodox clientele, would suffer.

"I believe the family was pressured to drop it," Adam said.

He pictured disbelief aired behind closed doors - but also a kind of persuasion he practised steeling himself against: "'Don't do this to him. Don't air our dirty laundry out in the nonJewish world. They think terribly of us as it is. They'll think even worse. Keep it among ourselves, we'll deal with him, we'll reprimand him, we'll change things.' " A handful of Talmudic laws guide how to respond to others' bad behaviour. First, don't gossip or speak ill of anyone. But second, when wrongdoing is clear, handle it internally when possible.

One religious edict asks Jews to avoid public shame: being seen in a bad light desecrates God's name. But the idea of doling out justice with no outside help also dates back to political realities in the Old World, said Benny Forer, a California district attorney and ordained Orthodox rabbi.

"It's not taught to you in school," he said. "All through your childhood, you hear stories of abuses of power by law enforcement ... stories of the rebbe in Russia or the rebbe in Poland who got arrested for being Jewish. So that's ingrained in your consciousness."

For some matters, especially divorces, Orthodox tribunals rule. No one interviewed could remember Toronto's Orthodox courts handling a sexual assault case. Still, sometimes unusual solutions have been found in Toronto.

Rabbi Heshi Nussbaum was another Eitz Chaim teacher who pleaded guilty in the 1980s to child-abuse charges. He wasn't jailed and a job was arranged for him on a dairy farm outside Toronto, away from children, community members said.

But Rabbi Nussbaum, who was convicted again in 2014 of historical sexual assault, still prays in Toronto's Orthodox synagogues. A fourth religious rule says that wrongdoers can repent and be accepted back into the community, a process of restitution that can't often be found in Ontario courts.

It's a concept that Mr. Forer believes is misapplied to child sexual assault, which is so grave that it's hard to make meaningful amends, and which poses a worryingly high risk of recidivism.

The district attorney, who grew up mostly in Toronto's Orthodox community, began to speak out about child sexual abuse after a friend in North York died by suicide in 1993, with no one knowing at the time he was a victim of abuse.

He has heard people say abusers should stay within their social circles so others can "keep an eye" on them.

"You see a sex offender," Mr. Forer said. "You know what your children see? They see a man that you walk up and say 'Good Shabbos' to. ... Your children see a trusted man."

After his 1993 brush with police, Adam says Mr. Schacter called him out of the blue shortly after the charges were dropped.

"He told me this terrible story, that somebody's saying terrible things about him," Adam recalled. "And his message was, you can't ever say anything like that, because look what happened. I was arrested! I was in jail."

After the boy recanted, Adam watched a circular argument take hold. Mr. Schacter "was vindicated, right? Because it was dropped," he said. "Everybody then said 'Yeah, the kid's full of crap. You know these kids, the psychiatrist tells them that something happened to them that never even happened.' " A teacher at Eitz Chaim said fellow teachers widely believed kids were making false accusations, perhaps coached by psychiatrists.

But slowly, the allegations mounted, and the community started to take them seriously -while still refusing help from outside.

In 2006, when the Ontario College of Teachers planned a disciplinary hearing, it documented all the known allegations against Mr. Schacter and a few rebukes.

After the charges were withdrawn in 1993, the school's principal had "cautioned" the teacher against putting students in his lap or hugging them, the College found.

Ten years later, however, the College alleged Mr. Schacter had been putting a number of second- and third-grade boys on his lap. He tickled and kissed one boy in the 2003-2004 school year, asking him to stay alone in the classroom at recess. In May, 2004, while marking another boy's work, Mr. Schacter "rubbed [the boy's] back then lowered his hand and squeezed [the boy's] buttocks over [his] clothing." He entered the washroom when a third little boy was using it and pulled his pants up or down, the College alleged.

For any complaints to reach College of Teachers investigators, they are likely to have first been explored by police, said people familiar with the College's process.

But no criminal charges were laid in 2004. In 2006, as the College prepared to hear his case, Mr. Schacter retained a lawyer.

But then the College's lawyers requested to drop the hearing, and the College did so, with a notation that the allegations were "not substantiated."

Such a conclusion is rare, said a spokeswoman for the College, Gabrielle Barkany. In 2014, for example, only six out of 106 planned hearings were withdrawn. Still, the College won't explain what happened, citing confidentiality rules. The lawyer who represented Mr. Schacter at the time also declined to comment.

An official source familiar with the 2004 complaints, and their abandonment by police and the College, said that parents and teachers from Eitz Chaim simply hadn't been prepared for the allegations to spiral out beyond the school, and they didn't cooperate. It's unclear how the details reached secular authorities.

Eitz Chaim fired Mr. Schacter in 2004, 18 years after he began teaching there, and two years after a new principal arrived at the school. His wife, who had married him in middle age, left him around the same time.

A solution had been found, at least at Eitz Chaim. But families, even with young children, continued to invite the teacher over for dinner, said Adam.

"We're going to leave him on the street? Just leave him? We have to take care of him," he recalls them saying.

Mr. Schacter was quickly hired at another Hebrew school, where he stayed for five years before retiring from teaching.

He still coaches hockey, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Adam had been in therapy for years when he says he asked Mr. Schacter to meet him on a hot July day in 2012 at the park across from the teacher's house, a place that made him feel "ripped up." He had put the phone call off for weeks, worried he wouldn't be able to stop himself from physically attacking the older man.

According to Adam, the teacher excitedly agreed, thinking he was hearing from an old friend.

As the two sat on a park bench, Adam blurted out his years of rage, "how upset I was."

Then he stood up to walk away.

But the teacher had a response. "My life's been ruined already, and I lost my wife, and don't do this to me," Adam recalls him saying.

The next day Adam received a letter from a lawyer, which he provided to the Globe; it said that Mr. Schacter would deny his accusations in a court of law.

Detective Constable Joel Manherz, who is handling the current case, said that many families tell him they'd like to help or join the four men preparing to testify in court, but they can't because it could destroy their businesses or their children's marriage prospects.

Police are the only officials with the "teeth" to handle dangerous people, said the detective.

"Forgiveness is a powerful thing, and that community is very good at making sure that that happens, that people are forgiven," he said.

"But at the same time there has to be some accountability, there has to be protection of others from this going on, right?" In March, Det. Constable Manherz sat in a North York synagogue with about 300 people. It was the first-ever Canadian visit by a group called the Jewish Community Watch, based in New York.

The group is its own type of tribunal, specifically for sexual abuse: it investigates accusations and posts alleged perpetrators' names and photos online, under the heading "Wall of Shame." Its leaders say it has never been sued.

The group also encourages victims to go to the police - but in New York, where people only have until age 23 to do so, that's usually a moot effort.

In Canada, the group asked Det. Constable Manherz to explain to the crowd how he handles a case. Before he spoke, however, they asked a senior rabbi from Yeshiva University in New York to take the microphone.

Rabbi Yosef Blau recently saw the movie Spotlight, about the Boston Globe's exposé of Catholic priests' abuse, he told the crowd.

"We can look at it and say 'Oh!' " he said. " 'It's not our problem! We're not like the Catholics.' And the truth is, there are obvious differences, but in a certain sense we have a greater responsibility," said Rabbi Blau. "Because the Catholic Church has a hierarchy. If a teacher in a yeshiva abuses and is allowed to teach in another community ... we can't blame the Jewish hierarchy."

If even one person knows about an abuser and doesn't warn others, that person bears responsibility, he said.

One of the tenets of Judaism is the obligation to interpret the Torah for oneself.

"Don't let people use [religious] terms to cover their unwillingness to face up to the issue, to think that they are protecting the image of the community," Rabbi Blau said, "when in reality they are allowing the community's weakness and rot to become much worse."

For Adam, breaking from convention came after decades of haunting guilt. He worries that, in the years he didn't go to police, more children could have been abused. "You know, I feel terrible that I didn't do anything," he said.

But independent thinkers will always risk being punished unless the community as a whole shifts its thinking, he said. That will only happen if leaders clearly advise people to take all abuse allegations straight to police - a move they haven't made yet in Toronto, at least not publicly.

"They have to encourage it," Adam said. "They have to."

One of the most respected of Toronto's Orthodox rabbis, Rabbi Yaakov Hirschman, told the Globe he feels torn over what to tell those alleging sexual abuse.

"In principle," he said, they should go to police. "In real life, we've gone through situations where allegations were false.

There's always this feeling that you're caught in between."

Rabbi Shlomo Mandel leads the synagogue that first welcomed Joe Schacter into the Orthodox world. He said he has been "painfully" following the allegations against him.

In his reading, Jewish law dictates that if someone could be hurt, "one has to take whatever measures are necessary to stop it, full stop, period." That means "obviously, co-operating with the authorities," he said.

After all, the spirit that rallied people around a young Joe Schacter should rally them also around any alleged abuse victims, said the rabbi. "We definitely welcomed him ... that's part of our obligation," he said.

"But it's the same obligation that tells us to care for other people."


Around 1980: Joe Schacter joins an Orthodox synagogue in North York.

1982 to 1993: In court documents filed in 2016, three men allege that Mr. Schacter abused them at different points during these years.

They did not contact police at the time.

1986: Mr. Schacter starts teaching at Eitz Chaim private school.

1993: Police are first called about Mr. Schacter when an Eitz Chaim student reports being abused by the teacher four years earlier. The charges are quickly dropped.

2003 to 2004: Mr. Schacter is accused of inappropriately touching several students at Eitz Chaim. No charges are laid.

2004: Mr. Schacter leaves Eitz Chaim and begins teaching at a Hebrew school.

2006: The Ontario Teachers College announces there will be a disciplinary hearing for Mr. Schacter, releasing a list of allegations going back to 1993.

2007: The College withdraws the allegations, saying they are "not substantiated."

2009: Mr. Schacter changes schools again.

2013: He retires from teaching, but continues to work with children as a hockey coach.

2015: Mr. Schacter is arrested on child pornography charges at the Lawrence Avenue West Service Ontario office.

2016: Police lay historical sex assault charges involving four complainants.

Associated Graphic

Detective Constable Joel Manherz is seen speaking to the media about the arrest of former school teacher Stephen Joseph Shacter.


Niagara Falls is the main character in a truly Canadian story of war, peace, power, industry, tourism, pollution and, one hopes, solution
Monday, May 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A6

NIAGARA FALLS, ONT. -- Oscar Wilde, Richard Nixon, Pierre Trudeau, Marilyn Monroe, Winston Churchill, Shirley Temple, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Charles Blondin, Wild Bill Hickok, Laura Secord, H.G. Wells, Charles Dickens, Helen Keller, Sir Harry Oakes, Jimmy Stewart, Princess Diana ... Bit characters all - in a story in which the main character has always been and will always be: the Falls.

Those famous names, with one notable exception, were all as impressed in their day by Niagara Falls as will be the millions of visitors who come this year to stare in awe at one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

Helen Keller, who could not see and could not hear, experienced the falls through her hands. She was so moved by the vibrations she could feel on a hotel windowsill that she told her mother: "One feels helpless and overwhelmed in the presence of such a vast force."

"Endless water falling the wrong way," sniffed Oscar Wilde when he visited in late winter of 1882. The legendary Irish wit is also said to have claimed that the legendary honeymoon destination "must be a bride's secondgreatest disappointment."

There is no disappointment, however, on this recent day, with the sun painting rainbows in the mist over the Canadian-side Horseshoe Falls. Hundreds of viewers line the walkway that runs alongside. Buses discharge tourists who have flown to Canada from China, mostly young couples with selfie sticks to capture themselves in various romantic poses with the falls as backdrop.

Two young friends have driven down from Toronto for the day.

Alejandro Mena, 21, has come from Colombia to see what he calls "one of the five wonders of the world."

"Seven!" corrects his pal, 23year-old Bruno Dutey from Spain.

"Okay, seven," concedes Mr. Mena, who adds that he has found the falls to be a bit of an optical illusion, as they've been walking for some time now without seeming to get any closer.

"The closer you get to it," Mr. Dutey says, "the greater it gets."

In fact, they have no idea how truly great. The white water that roars over the falls before them may be moving in excess of 100 kilometres an hour. All the mindboggling numbers that can be placed before cubic feet and gallons might be better illustrated by the writer who calculated there was the equivalent of one million bathtubs full of water going over the falls every single second.

But still, impressive as that sounds, it is still only half of what once was.

In late 1678, Father Louis Hennepin, claimed by some to be the first European to see the falls - others say Étienne Brûlé had been there a half-century earlier - declared that "the Universe does not hold its parallel."

Hennepin also found the noise "outrageous ... more terrible than that of thunder."

There is something about Niagara and hyperbole. According to local historian Sherman Zavitz's It Happened At Niagara, when a young Abraham Lincoln first visited the falls, the future president pronounced: "When Columbus first sought this continent - when Christ suffered on the cross - when Moses led Israel through the Red Sea - nay, even, when Adam first came from the hand of his maker - then, as now, Niagara was roaring here."

"Then, as now" being 1848 - but not these days.

For one thing, the falls have moved, a remarkable recession chartered by scientists to have shifted 11 km upstream in the past 12,000 years. Every year, more breaks away, sometimes rock chunks the size of a sixteenwheeler.

"The shape of the falls is always changing," says Environment Canada's Aaron Thompson, who also serves as chair of the International Niagara Board of Control. "The rate has slowed down because so much of the flow goes to the power plants."

And this, it turns out, is what separates the falls the tourists photograph today from the falls that First Nations knew, which so impressed the likes of Hennepin and Lincoln.

The power of Niagara was such that it created the first great industrial centre of North America.

By diverting the water into tunnels leading to turbines, industrialists were able to create electricity, first of all direct-current. Once Nikola Tesla invented alternating-current - a discovery Thomas Edison campaigned against as being too dangerous - it allowed for electricity to travel distances and the great industrialization of the Niagara region spread.

Increasingly, more and more water was diverted into such tunnels. Lord Kelvin, the famous Irish inventor and engineer, said he looked forward to the day when every single drop in the river would be used to create electricity.

Fortunately, wiser heads prevailed. One early suggestion had the power companies ransacking the Niagara as much as they wished six days a week but doing nothing on Sundays so that the tourists could enjoy the falls.

That idea, luckily, went nowhere.

In 1950, the Niagara Diversion Treaty signed by Canada and the United States specified how much each country could draw for power - roughly half the flow that Hennepin and Lincoln had witnessed.

"They could see that one day there would be no water going over the falls," Mr. Thompson says.

Today, the flow and diversion gates are all computer-controlled and monitored. Less water is diverted during night hours and during winter. Intricate steel booms are placed each year at the Lake Erie mouth so that ice can be relatively controlled.

In late January, a public hearing was held to discuss a proposal to "de-water" the American Falls.

Two 150-year-old bridges connecting to islands upstream from the falls are in dire need of repair or replacement.

The idea is to divert the water so that it flows only on the Canadian side of Goat Island and over the Horseshoe Falls, theoretically restoring the Canadian falls to the size they were when Hennepin thought the universe held no parallel.

This new proposal could see the American Falls "de-watered" for as long as it takes to complete the work on the two bridges.

Incredibly, there are those who are hoping the longer the better.

They are convinced it would even be great for tourism.

There is already talk of T-shirts and bumper stickers: "I was there when Niagara Falls ran dry."

The price of progress

The Niagara River could be described as the most important shortest river in the world - except it isn't truly a river. It's a 58-km-long strait, or "connecting channel," that runs north from Lake Erie and empties into Lake Ontario.

Those who live along its path know its short course intimately - but few as well as Patrick Robson. The first hint of Mr. Robson's devotion is on his licence plate - "1812" - for it was on both sides of this river that the only war was ever fought between Canada and the United States.

A former commissioner of planning for the Niagara Region who now works in administration at Niagara College, Mr. Robson has lived his entire life in the region. He believes the river, falls and surrounding countryside is endlessly fascinating - a story of war, peace, power, industry, tourism, pollution and, fingers crossed, solution.

"It's about people and identity," he says. "Niagara Peninsula is packed with stories - and I have a passion for the stories."

He is driving along the Niagara Parkway, a relaxing drive along the Canadian side of the river that runs through War of 1812 battlefields, vineyards, farms, small towns and seemingly endless parkland. Winston Churchill called it "the prettiest Sunday afternoon drive in the world."

Mr. Robson points out Navy Island, a large uninhabited Canadian island that was once the popular choice for the United Nations headquarters. American and Canadian supporters argued that it stood as the perfect symbol for two countries that had existed peacefully for more than a century. President Harry Truman was all for it until the rich and powerful stepped in and offered free prime land in New York. Today the island is a wildlife reserve.

Mr. Robson is among several area movers and shakers keen to turn the Niagara region on both sides of the river into an International Peace Park. The longstanding peace between the two countries is a main factor, obviously, but there are other arguments, as well. It is estimated as many as 75,000 fugitive slaves made their way to the Canadian colonies before the American Civil War. The "Niagara Movement" was an early civilrights force founded in Niagara Falls in 1905.

The falls of today is more about duelling casinos on both sides of the border, tourism and such curious attractions as the "genuine two-headed lamb" at Ripley's Believe It or Not! museum.

Mr. Robson is no fan of the casinos - "gamblers aren't tourists" - but he does have a soft spot for the great daredevils who once made the falls as famous for stunts as they are for size.

Though an estimated half-billion television viewers tuned in on June 15, 2012, to watch Nik Wallenda walk across a cable strung over the Horseshoe Falls, Mr. Robson's affection is for the great stuntmen of the mid-19th century. In the summer of 1860, Frenchman Charles Blondin and The Great Farini (William Leonard Hunt of Port Hope, Ont.) challenged each other to the point of absurdity - and tragedy.

Farini crossed on a tightrope while wearing peach baskets on his feet. Blondin at one point carried a stove on his back, stopped halfway across, cooked an omelette and lowered it down to The Maid of the Mist, where passengers eagerly ate it. Farini matched by carrying a washtub out, lowering a bucket into the river, then washing handkerchiefs that had been given to him by his many female admirers. Farini also carried a woman across on his back but slipped and dropped her to her death.

No one knows the total of those who died by accident or design at the falls. Many bodies are never found. After a 63-year-old teacher named Annie Edson Taylor survived going over in a barrel in 1901, barrel attempts became popular though rarely successful.

The wilder stunts were long ago banned by the authorities, yet some persist, such as the nut who blew over the falls on a jet ski several years back only to have his parachute fail to open.

There are happy endings, most notably seven-year-old Roger Woodward surviving a plunge over the falls without even a barrel in 1960, but they are few and far between. The tragedies, both foolish and accidental, far outweigh the victories.

Niagara Falls is no longer the setting for serial stunts such as Blondin vs. Farini. Hydro-electric power arrived in the late 19th century, then vast and polluting industry throughout much of the 20th century. Slowly, that heavy industry vanished or moved on, leading to a slow and difficult awareness of the damage "progress" had done to one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

"It's an economy in transition," Mr. Robson says. "It's gone from a heavy industrial economy, one of the first industrial areas of North America, to what it is today - all because of one thing, falling water."

Celebrating the wetlands

It is early Monday morning for the students of Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont. Geography class began at 8 a.m. and those students not staring at their mobile phones or laptop computers are slowly awakening to the day.

Jocelyn Baker and Deanna Lindblad of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority have come to talk about water. If you could track a single drop, the students are told, it would take 204 years for that water to travel from Thunder Bay to the mouth of the St. Lawrence. Crossing Lake Superior alone would take 174 years, but only 21/2 years for Lake Erie and a matter of hours to run the Niagara River, over the falls and into Lake Ontario.

Increasingly, the students seem to be paying attention. The Great Lakes, they are told, contain 22 per cent of the world's freshwater. One out of every three Canadians relies on this source for drinking water.

That water, travelling so easily and quickly through the Niagara River, is what made places like St. Catharines possible. Electricity powered industries, which built economies. Buffalo, often so dismissed these days, was known as "The City of Lights" in the early 1900s. According to Kevin Woyce's illustrated history of Niagara, the Pan American Exposition of 1901 drew eight million visitors, most coming to stare in wonder at Electric Tower, a 100-metre monolith lighted by 44,000 bulbs.

But at what cost was such massive industrialization along the waters? Science fiction writer H.G. Wells wrote a 1906 magazine article in which he predicted "The End of Niagara." The spectacular natural site, he said, was "long since destroyed beyond recovery by the hotels, the factories, the powerhouses, the bridges and tramways and hoardings [billboards] that rose about it."

"The first sewage treatment plant on the river was built only in 1936," says Lynda Schneekloth, a professor at the University of Buffalo's School of Architecture and Planning. "We used the rivers as sewers for years. And we have tried, together, to take care of these waters once it became clear how badly we had treated them."

By the 1970s, there were more than 700 chemical plants and steel mills dotting the Niagara River waterway. Each day, some 950 million litres of waste water were being washed away by the river.

Some steps were eventually taken to address the growing issue of pollution. In 1972, Canada's Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and U.S. President Richard Nixon signed the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. But it took a singular dramatic story to bring the health concerns to the forefront.

"The Love Canal," Ms. Baker tells the Brock students. "This was a truly important historical event."

An entrepreneur named William T. Love had long ago decided to build a canal that would allow him to divert water from the river through the eastern edge of Niagara Falls, N.Y. When financing dried up, he abandoned the project after digging a trench less than two km long. It filled with water and became a swimming hole for local children.

In the late 1940s, the Hooker Chemical Co. purchased the canal and began filling it with barrels of toxic waste which were then buried. By the 1960s, those chemicals had leached free. Children were burning their hands on what they called "firerocks."

Investigative reporters in the 1970s uncovered staggering tales of cancers and birth defects in the area.

"It was the biggest environmental crisis in U.S. history," Ms. Baker says.

National outrage demanded action and the various levels of government were forced to act. A school that had been built on the property was closed and some 800 families relocated to new homes.

Since that pivotal moment, matters have changed dramatically along the Niagara River. In 1987, this was one of 43 "areas of concern" identified within the Great Lakes Basin. A "Remedial Action Plan" to restore health began and has seen considerable success. Priority was given to 18 toxic pollutants that were targeted for reduction. A recent Brock University study on environmental restoration by engineer Annie Michaud concluded that "the past 25 years have seen a significant improvement in the quality of the Niagara River."

Those working on the river's water quality hope to see the Niagara delisted as a "hot spot" by 2020.

The hope, Ms. Lindblad says, is that the Niagara can change from "one of the most polluted, disgusting places on the face of the earth" to a river known for its biodiversity and successes.

"It's important to celebrate how far we have come," she says. "And delisting by 2020 doesn't mean we walk away. There's always a concern about 'backsliding.' " The conservation authority is spearheading a movement to have the Niagara region on both sides of the river declared a Ramsar site of international importance. ("Ramsar" refers to the Iranian city where, in 1971, an international treaty was signed to promote the conservation and wise use of valuable wetlands. Canada alone has 37 such designated sites.)

The river currently meets all criteria for designation and supporters are hopeful to gain it for the sesquicentennial celebrations of 2017 - but there has been some pushback from area politicians and landowners who fear more restrictions could stifle development. One local mayor told an area publication that "the burden of overregulation in Niagara is huge - to me this sounds like another layer."

The wetlands protection movement has support on the American side, as well. Kerry Mitchell, who spent more than 20 years as a manager and policy expert with the Canadian consulate in Buffalo, says that "a Ramsar designation of the Niagara River would provide the cross-border region its first, ongoing, non-political, inspirationally oriented framework for collaboration" on the river corridor.

A wide consortium of interested stakeholders on both sides of the river has been "Rethinking Niagara" in recent years. The idea, says Prof. Schneekloth, who is part of the group, grew out of the profound change in cross-river exchange that came about following 9/11. The group mapped out all their shared histories, from First Nations to commerce to tourism to water-quality sustainability.

"We took our relationship for granted," Prof. Schneekloth says of the situation prior to the terrorist attacks. "But now, with so much attention on division, we had to reimagine ourselves as a single place with a shared border."

Her group, composed of Canadians and Americans, is trusting that either the establishment of an international peace park or the Ramsar designation, both if possible, would leave "a different kind of mark than 9/11."

The idea, Prof. Schneekloth says, is to remind those who live there just "how special is our home on the Niagara neck of the Great Lakes."

Mr. Robson, the former planning commissioner, pulling his car into the picturesque town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, where the Niagara River completes its shortbut-fascinating run from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario, has known all his life just how special his home is. He's all for the peace park but isn't sure a full "reimagining" is necessary.

"People keep saying, 'We've got to do some branding.'" He says.

"What for?

"I'm pretty sure if you were to use the word 'Niagara' anywhere in the world, they'd know where you meant."

RIVER COUNTRY An occasional series on the rivers that shape our nation

Associated Graphic

Far left, Niagara Falls has impressed visitors since missionary Father Louis Hennepin, claimed by some to be the first European to see the falls, wrote about it in 1678. The original painting for this chromolithograph was done about 1899. Left, passengers admire a rainbow over the American Falls from The Maid of the Mist just before the Canadian operations of the popular seasonal attraction ceased in October, 2013.



How Urbancorp fell in a red-hot market
Saturday, May 14, 2016 – Print Edition, Page B6

More than three years after buying into Urbancorp's planned new townhouse project in Toronto's Leslieville neighbourhood, Elaine and Howard Quinn sold their home last January, expecting to get the keys to their new place in April.

Two weeks later, they got a notice that pushed their closing into July.

Ms. Quinn put the family's belongings in storage and searched for a short-term furnished rental. Another delay notice arrived pushing their closing to August.

Just before the owners of the Quinns' rental were due to return home, the couple got yet another delay notice, this time until October.

Ms. Quinn found another shortterm rental, but the home wouldn't be ready until a day after the family needed to move.

So the couple and their threeyear-old son spent a night in yet another rental they found on Airbnb.

"We were living like nomads because all of our stuff was in storage," Ms. Quinn said.

In the past year, the Quinns have moved four times. They have received 13 delay notices from Urbancorp since November, 2012. The family has since signed a year-long lease, finally allowing them to take their furniture out of storage.

In the meantime, the couple's townhouse, which is almost finished, continues to sit empty.

They have spent tens of thousands on storage fees and rent and are unsure what will happen when their son is set to start kindergarten nearby this fall, since they don't yet live in the neighbourhood.

"We really just want to close and move into our homes," said Ms. Quinn, who is among a group of 35 homeowners that have hired a lawyer and gone to court to appoint an investigative receiver to examine the project's finances.

The Quinns are among potentially hundreds of home buyers left in limbo after Urbancorp's chief executive officer, Alan Saskin, and eight Urbancorp subsidiaries filed for court protection from creditors last month, owing nearly $150-million.

Since March, Tarion Warranty Corp., the agency that backstops Ontario's new home warranty program, has taken the unprecedented step of threatening to revoke the registration of 17 Urbancorp projects. Without Tarion's support, the company would not be able to develop new projects. Tarion has also launched a separate lawsuit against the developer and Mr. Saskin over Urbancorp's alleged failure to honour its financial commitments.

The case is one of dozens of lawsuits and liens the company now faces from contractors, employees, home buyers, the City of Toronto and fellow developer Brad Lamb, who is suing Urbancorp for $750,000 over allegations of unpaid commissions and referral fees. (Filing for bankruptcy protection generally causes lawsuits to be frozen.)

The financial problems have forced Urbancorp to lay off employees, scale back development plans and potentially sell off some of its lucrative development sites.

They have also harmed the developer's relationships with the community groups it has long supported. In April, Mr. Saskin resigned from the chairmanship of the Artscape Foundation, the fundraising arm of the non-profit urban development organization.

On May 6, Urbancorp vice-president David Mandell resigned from the board of the Theatre Centre after the developer failed to pay a $100,000 donation it had pledged to the arts group in 2012. Urbancorp has touted itself as the lead fundraiser on the organization's $6.2-million renovation project.

Yet at the heart of the brewing battles over Urbancorp's sudden fall from grace is a looming question: How could a developer with dozens of housing projects in some of Toronto's most desirable neighbourhoods stumble so badly in the city's red-hot housing market?

"I've been through four or five recessions in my life and this is the weirdest one," says Gary Caplan, a lawyer hired by a group of Urbancorp buyers to help them get title to their homes after years of delays. "This is the first time where interest rates are so low and money is so cheap and the real estate market is rising. It's just hard to understand how this could come about."

Juggling multiple projects

Within a decade of muscling its way into Toronto's burgeoning condo scene in the early 1990s, Urbancorp had grown into one of the city's largest developers.

The company is headed by Mr. Saskin, a 62-year-old Harvard-educated architect and seasoned real estate executive. Since launching Urbancorp in Toronto in 1991, Mr. Saskin has built more than 5,000 housing units, most of them in the city.

Urbancorp projects stretch from the waterfront to midtown.

The company was once heralded as a pioneer of affordable housing, a supporter of the arts and an early visionary in the movement to transform derelict industrial lands into trendy residential neighbourhoods. The geothermal technology Urbancorp was installing in several of its developments won support among environmentalists.

But its success also masked a growing array of problems. Interviews with more than a dozen buyers, realtors, lawyers, developers, city officials and Urbancorp itself paint a picture of a company whose aggressive development plans and fast-moving deals saddled it with a steadily worsening reputation for long delays, significant construction problems and poor customer service. Such issues, however, did little to hamper demand for the company's projects in the frenzy of Toronto's housing market.

In recent years, Urbancorp has won bids to purchase at least eight former public and Catholic school sites at a cost of more than $80-million. It was negotiating with the federal government for a $52-million deal to build more than 1,000 homes on a 16acre parcel in Downsview Park, although it has since partnered with Mattamy Homes. By the start of this year, it had more than 1,000 homes under construction in Toronto.

"Find a developer that has that many properties under construction or under rezoning at the same time," says Toronto city councillor Paula Fletcher. "You won't."

Urbancorp itself admits it was the victim of its own ambitions. Enticed by what it called the "buoyant market" for Toronto real estate, the company said in an e-mail to The Globe and Mail that it had aggressively started buying up development locations around the city and quickly became stretched by the requirements of juggling multiple projects.

"We likely acquired too many building sites and initiated more projects [than] in hindsight we were able to hold and cost-effectively develop," wrote Urbancorp spokesman Riyaz Lalani. "The number of projects we had under development exceeded the bandwidth required to manage them carefully, which led to cost overruns, eating into profits, in some cases creating net losses. We gradually began to owe money to a broad group of business partners and creditors."

As it scrambled to stay on top of its expanding list of projects in Toronto, the company turned to the Israeli capital markets in December to raise fresh cash to cover its debts.

Mr. Lalani said the developer was "advised by business partners about opportunities to raise debt capital from investors in Israel who were interested in exposure to Canadian real estate development."

The firm was following on the heels of more than a dozen U.S.

property developers that have raised money in the debt markets in Israel, where they can get access to lower interest rates than at home.

Its $60-million bond issuance on the Tel Aviv stock market last fall attracted the interest of several large Israeli mutual funds.

All proceeds went to pay off existing Urbancorp debts, through what the firm described in bankruptcy documents as an "unsecured intercompany loan."

In filings in Israel, Urbancorp said the money was used partly to pay off a high-interest $50-million loan to a mezzanine lender.

But within five months, its Israeli adventure had unravelled.

When news of Tarion's concerns reached Israel, the company's bonds plunged more than 40 per cent in one day. Its Israeli legal advisers resigned, citing a series of unresolved disputes, as did three board members who had been appointed only weeks earlier.

The company's bonds have since ceased trading on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, sparking court proceedings and an examination by the Israel Securities Authority.

Urbancorp acknowledged that it had quickly found itself "overwhelmed" by the reporting requirements of securities regulators in Israel.

"Ultimately, we did not appreciate the extent of the burdens of being a reporting issuer, borrowing money in a foreign jurisdiction, working in a foreign language and public issuer reporting requirements," Mr.

Lalani wrote. "We also did not appreciate how the need to segment and separately report income from various projects would affect our cash flow."

However, while the company appears to have run into major cash flow problems only within the past year, sources in the development industry and with the City of Toronto who have dealt with Urbancorp and Mr. Saskin say the firm has long had a reputation in the industry as an aggressive deal maker that tries to squeeze as much as it can out of every transaction.

"The word in the industry is, that if you're going to do business with him ... you'd better go in with your eyes wide open," one senior development industry source said on condition of anonymity.

Such concerns flew under the radar of Urbancorp's buyers, many of whom say they were attracted to the company's designer showrooms, unique features and coveted locations.

Realtor David Fleming has received dozens of calls from prospective Urbancorp buyers in the 11 years since he bought into one of the developer's west-side projects that turned out to be rife with construction problems, which he chronicled on his popular Toronto Realty Blog.

Many callers thanked him for his opinion, but made it clear they still planned to buy.

"The unfortunate part of the real estate boom of the last 10 years is that a lot of people are willfully ignorant when it comes to developers," Mr. Fleming said.

"There is only so much you can do to protect the consumer from themselves."

Two buyers' tales

Carlo Ang was among those who had concerns about Urbancorp's reputation from reading Mr. Fleming's blog and from a cousin who lived near the developer's King West headquarters.

But he and his wife liked the style of Urbancorp's Riverdale townhouse project and Mr. Ang was particularly interested in the project's geothermal heating and cooling system. Also, he reasoned, the company's problems appeared to stem from its largescale condo developments and the Angs were looking to purchase a townhouse. "We said, how hard can it be? I'm sure any builder can do it."

After purchasing his unit in the summer of 2011, Mr. Ang said the company pressured him and other neighbours to continually update their mortgage preappro.

val for the full purchase price of their homes throughout years of construction delays, even if they were intending to pay cash or take on only a small mortgage.

Only hours before Urbancorp's subsidiaries filed for bankruptcy restructuring in April, Mr. Ang and other Riverdale buyers succeeded in getting the developer and its lenders to give them legal title to their homes - more than two years after they had moved in.

Other buyers say they had to battle to prevent the developer from cancelling their contracts to purchase their homes.

Nearly three years after paying a 10-per-cent deposit and spending $30,000 on upgrades on their $690,000 townhouse in Urbancorp's Leslieville development, Jelena and Norman Leung got a notice from the developer saying their home couldn't be built because of an issue with the city and offering the couple a refund on their deposit. "They wouldn't give me an exact reason why," Ms. Leung says.

Ms. Leung went to City Hall and pored over the plans that Urbancorp had filed with the municipality for approval. Her townhouse was nowhere, not even in initial drafts of the company's site plans. "Our unit was never part of the plans with the city," she says. "It was just a sketch someone put together."

After Ms. Leung threatened to hire a lawyer and go public with her story, the company contacted her to say another unit had become available after a purchaser backed out of a deal.

Since buying their unit, which was supposed to be completed in February, 2013, the Leungs have gotten engaged, married and had two children. They're now renting a cramped two-bedroom townhouse in the neighbourhood while they wait for the townhouse to be completed.

Problems with lenders

In an e-mail to The Globe in late April, Mr. Saskin defended his company's customer service reputation and said that despite its financial issues, Urbancorp expects to complete many of the projects it has under development.

"We have always cared about customer service," he wrote. "We have built homes and provided service to our customers for as long as we have been in business."

One reason for the delays plaguing Urbancorp's east-side townhouse projects appears to be its agreements with lenders.

The company owes more than $83.5-million to Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and Terra Firma Capital Corp. as part of mortgages that were secured by three separate developments: the Leung and Quinn families' Leslieville project, Mr. Ang's Riverdale townhouse complex and a development in the Beaches. Lawyers for some purchasers say they believe that the lenders' reluctance to discharge mortgages on the properties amid mounting bills and construction liens may be among the reasons the company has struggled to finish construction and transfer title to buyers.

In its quarterly filings last week, Terra Firma said it is owed $13.9-million by the insolvent Urbancorp subsidiaries and has started power of sale proceedings to recoup its investment.

In total, the publicly traded lender, which was started by members of the Reichmann family and former executives of the family's real estate companies, gave $23-million to Urbancorp - more than 20 per cent of its total mortgage portfolio. "We believe investors will be surprised to learn of Terra Firma's concentration to one developer," Laurentian Bank of Canada analyst Marc Charbin wrote last week.

Neither CIBC nor Terra Firma responded to requests by The Globe to comment.

Beyond negotiations with lenders, the company was also facing a string of lawsuits at the time it filed for court protection.

In a suit filed last September, the City of Toronto demanded Urbancorp reimburse it for nearly $370,000 worth of sewer repairs - including the installation of nearly 100 metres of new sewer pipe - after crews working on Urbancorp's Leslieville project allegedly allowed so much concrete to go down the drain in 2013 that the sewer was completely blocked. The company has said it would defend the action.

By October, work on several projects had ground to a halt "as a result of disputes with various trades and third parties," Urbancorp wrote in a statement of defence from January as part of a wrongful dismissal lawsuit launched by a 73-year-old construction foreman. "Construction was not expected to resume for a considerable period of time and/ or at all."

In yet another lawsuit filed against Urbancorp, Brampton, Ont.-based engineering firm Exp Services Inc. alleges the developer had offered the contractor a series of post-dated cheques and then urged Exp Services to hold off on cashing them. In November, Exp Services claimed it tried to cash nearly $270,000 worth of cheques anyway, but they bounced. (In a statement of defence, Urbancorp and Mr. Saskin deny the allegations and say the firm was paid what it was owed.)

At the same time, the company was engaged in a dispute with Tarion, the home warranty backer, over mounting claims that it had paid out to buyers in several Urbancorp projects. In a lawsuit filed earlier this year, Tarion demanded the company reimburse nearly $147,000, plus 18 per cent interest, for claims it had paid since the start of last year. It alleged that the claims had been personally guaranteed by Mr. Saskin.

Tarion also alleges that Mr. Saskin "negligently misrepresented" his personal net worth to the warranty agency by claiming he jointly owned a multimillion-dollar Yorkville condo, when his wife is the only person registered on the title. (Mr. Saskin is not on the title of any property in Toronto, although according to lien searches, he does drive two high-end cars: a James Bondstyle Aston Martin DB9 and a Tesla Model S.)

Urbancorp said the Tarion allegations "are being vigorously defended." It has also appealed Tarion's proposal to revoke its warranty registration.

Despite its bankruptcy filing, the company is still working to complete construction on more than 1,000 homes and said it expect "to either deliver completed homes to purchasers, or to return their deposits."

Buyers say they have little choice but to wait it out and hope their residences will eventually be built, given that they have already lost ground in the city's real estate market.

In the year since the Leungs paid a deposit on their townhouse, home prices in the Toronto region have surged nearly 60 per cent. "We could no longer afford to stay in the neighbourhood if we don't get these homes," Ms. Leung says.

For the broader real estate industry, however, Urbancorp's troubles will likely prove to be a cautionary tale to those who thought it impossible that anyone could go wrong in Toronto's seemingly unstoppable housing boom.

"Eventually time caught up with them," says realtor Mr. Fleming. "You can only leave a trail of poor product and dissatisfied consumers for so long."


Urbancorp, one of Toronto's largest developers, has developed dozens of housing projects in some of the city...s most desirable neighbourhoods. However, potentially hundreds of buyers were left in limbo last month after Alan Saskin, company chief executive officer, and eight Urbancorp subsidiaries filed for court protection from creditors. Despite those filings, Urbancorp is still working to complete more than 1,000 homes.

Associated Graphic

The Urbancorp offices in Toronto's Liberty Village.


An unfinished Urbancorp townhouse development at 50 Curzon St. in Toronto's Leslieville.

A planned development at 15 Mallow Rd., a former public school site, in Toronto's North York.

A planned Urbancorp development at 2425 and 2427 Bayview Ave.


Howard and Elaine Quinn, with their son Liam, 3, near the stalled Leslieville development where they bought a townhouse from Urbancorp. They've moved four times while waiting to move in.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


A Saturday Report on Business feature on Urbancorp incorrectly said former Urbancorp vice-president David Mandell had resigned from the Theatre Centre's board of directors. In fact, he resigned from Urbancorp. He remains on the Theatre Centre board.

While successive Canadian governments have come under fire for selling light-armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia, Sweden is looking at changing the way it exports weapons, including restricting shipments to non-democratic countries, Steven Chase reports
Saturday, May 21, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A10

The Canadian government is fond of boasting that its controls on weapons exports are among the strongest in the world, but bragging rights may soon go to Sweden, where legislators are readying new restrictions that could curb arms sales to non-democratic nations.

The rigour and effectiveness of Canada's approval process for military exports was called into question this year after Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion in April approved permits to ship the bulk of a controversial $15-billion combat vehicle deal to Saudi Arabia, a country with an abysmal human rights record.

Mr. Dion, who said the Liberals had no choice but to honour a deal signed by the Conservatives, is promising more "openness, transparency and rigour" in future contracts.

Arms-control advocates say the government should look to Sweden for inspiration.

"If the government is serious about improving the regulation of Canadian arms exports, it should look closely at - and perhaps even aim to improve upon - states like Sweden that are leading the way," said Ken Epps, a senior researcher with Project Ploughshares, a disarmament group in Waterloo, Ont., that is an agency of the Canadian Council of Churches and tracks arms shipments.

Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy, would likely find it hard to qualify for Swedish military exports if Stockholm adopts what has been proposed.

When it comes to Saudi Arabia, Sweden and Canada are heading in different directions.

U.S. defence contractor General Dynamics Land Systems is preparing fighting vehicles in London, Ont., for shipment to Riyadh this year. It is Canada's largest advanced manufacturing export contract ever, Ottawa says. As well, Mr. Dion is headed to Saudi Arabia next week to talk strategy with Arab states on combatting groups such as Islamic State.

In Sweden, new sales of military goods to Saudi Arabia appear to be on the wane since March, 2015, when the Social Democratic government cancelled a defence co-operation agreement with Riyadh in a dispute over human rights with the Mideast country. Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, who has vowed to enact a feminist foreign policy, publicly criticized Saudi Arabia for banning women from driving and violating their rights. She also called the flogging of blogger Raif Badawi "medieval."

Just months after the Stockholm-Riyadh fracas, an all-party committee of Swedish federal legislators recommended ambitious changes to the country's arms export controls in a report called Tightened Control on Exports of Military Equipment.

This included, most notably, making democracy a criterion for assessing which countries can receive Swedish-made military goods.

"A country's democratic status will be a central condition for an export permit," committee chairman Hans Wallmark told media last June when he presented the study.

A spokeswoman for Sweden's foreign ministry told The Globe and Mail that Stockholm is planning to unveil new legislation in response to this report by the spring or summer of 2017.

The legislators who drafted the Parliamentary report, including members of the governing party, acknowledge the proposals could mean more restrictions on where Sweden sells arms.

"This means that the potential markets for Swedish defence industry will diminish," Lena Hjelm-Wallen, deputy committee chairman and a former minister of foreign affairs, said last June. "That is the price we'll have to pay."

In Canada, the consensus among human-rights, development and arms-control groups is that the Canadian arms-control system failed on the Saudi deal. In an open letter last month to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, they called the decision to award export permits "immoral and unethical."

Awarding permits is a vital step in sanctioning Canadian arms exports and the decision is not supposed to be affected by whether a contract is already signed. It amounts to a judgment call by the Canadian government that the equipment will not be used against civilians in Saudi Arabia, a country that watchdog Freedom House ranks among the "worst of the worst" on human rights.

Canada's arms export rules require Ottawa to demonstrate "there is no reasonable risk" the goods shipped to human rights abusers might be used against civilians. But all the department of Global Affairs offered in the way of assurance on the Saudi deal was to say it was not aware of any evidence that combat vehicles exported to Riyadh in the past had been used to violate human rights.

The export deal was approved despite troubling signs in Saudi Arabia.

Liberals green-lit the shipment just months after the biggest round of mass executions in Saudi Arabia in decades - it included a dissident cleric critical of the ruling House of Saud after a trial Amnesty International described as "grossly unfair." Mr. Dion's approval also came only months after a UN panel accused Riyadh of violating humanitarian law in its conduct of the war in neighbouring Yemen and as international watchdogs warned that human rights conditions in Saudi Arabia "steadily deteriorated" over the previous year.

Earlier this month, The Globe and Mail published footage of Riyadh's forces using armoured vehicles against civilians in the country's Eastern Province. The vehicles are not Canadian-made, but they demonstrate that the Saudis have used such machines against their people. The European-Saudi Organization for Human Rights estimates similar equipment has been used against dissidents 15 times since 2011.

The Swedes do not shy away from producing military goods and their conduct has been less than angelic at times.

Sweden ranks 12th in the world among arms exporters in recent years - just one spot ahead of Canada, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) - and it has made controversial sales to questionable customers, including a 2007 Gripen fighter jet deal with Thailand's military junta. In 2012, Sweden's defence minister, Sten Tolgfors, resigned after media revealed a government agency was secretly helping Saudi Arabia plan a factory to build anti-tank explosives.

Over the years however, Sweden has built a more rigorous and transparent system for vetting arms sales to foreign countries than that of Canada.

And in the past 10 months, the Scandinavian country has been engaged in a public debate over what kind of weapons vendor it wants to be. Anna Ekberg, a spokeswoman for the Swedish foreign ministry, said the government has consulted about 100 groups from companies to non-governmental organizations to municipalities on a new export regime law.

Arms control experts such as Sam Perlo-Freeman, a senior researcher with SIPRI, an independent group that researches conflict and the arms trade, said he expects that whatever law is enacted will be written "more or less along the lines of the proposals" because an all-party committee issued them. He said whether it will be stronger or weaker remains to be seen.

This is not sitting well with Swedish defence interests. Hakan Buskhe, CEO of Swedish aerospace and defence manufacturer Saab, has warned his company would move most of its research and development activities abroad if the legislation proceeds as recommended.

The Swedish proposal lays out metrics that Stockholm would use to assess whether a country is democratic, including open and fair elections with universal suffrage, whether these elections cover the senior leadership positions and whether freedoms such as expression and assembly are maintained between elections.

"Granting a licence to export military equipment to a country that has severe shortcomings in terms of its democratic status can be regarded as legitimizing or giving political support to the regime in office. This in turn may counteract Sweden's overarching foreign policy objective to promote democracy and human rights," the 2015 all-party report said.

Canadian arms control advocates say Ottawa should be pioneering better standards as well.

The Swedes give their Parliamentarians a role in scrutinizing arms exports - at least in some cases. An export-control council includes members from all parties in the national legislature and while its recommendations are not binding, they are part of the process.

The idea in Sweden is that legislators are informed of an arms deal in advance in an effort to reach agreement on its merits.

"The intention of the Swedish system, uniquely in international terms in that representatives of the political parties can discuss potential export transactions in advance, is to build a broad consensus on export control policy and promote continuity in the conduct of that policy. Unlike in many other countries, the Export Control Council deals with cases at an early stage, before a specific transaction comes up," the Swedish government has said.

In Canada, however, Parliamentary oversight does not seem to be a priority for the government.

In April, the Trudeau Liberals used their Commons majority on the House foreign affairs committee to reject an NDP proposal, backed by the Conservatives, to create Parliamentary oversight of arms exports. New Democrat MP Hélène Laverdière had envisioned a subcommittee of MPs to screen arms deals.

"The [Canadian] committee's vote became another illustration of how far Canada has slipped behind other countries such as Sweden in terms of transparency and oversight of ... export controls," Mr. Epps said.

The Swedes give far more information to voters about military exports. The government authority charged with screening exports releases an annual report within months of the previous calendar year-end that exhaustively chronicles annual military and security shipments.

Its 2015 report is already out.

In Canada, the last military goods export report made public covered 2013.

The annual Swedish report names companies with major defence and security goods exports for the previous year and the amount shipped - details Canada has never revealed, Mr. Epps said.

The Canadian government's reports offer far less information. Canadians are told the aggregate dollar value of arms exports to countries - by category - but no details on transactions. The Saudi deal came to light only because the Conservative government was eager to publicize what it saw as an export win.

It is not clear whether Canada's export-control regime has ever blocked shipments of weapons. The Canadian government cannot say how many applications to export weapons and military technology have been rejected in the past 10 years, for example. "Export permit data is not compiled in this fashion," a spokesperson for the department of Global Affairs told The Globe and Mail in January.

In Sweden, the government authority that screens exports reported that, in 2015, it rejected 22 requests for export permits to countries including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, China, Pakistan, Thailand and Tunisia. It noted that this does not mean all exports to those countries were denied, just the requests cited.

Applying a democratic criterion to Canadian arms exports to Saudi Arabia would certainly complicate Canada's ability to justify the combat vehicle contract, or future deals, with Riyadh.

Craig Stone, an associate professor at the Canadian Forces College, said the consequences would be myriad if Ottawa walked away from the $15-billion Saudi deal, which General Dynamics says helps sustain more than 3,000 jobs across the country.

The Harper government signed the deal in 2014, but the Trudeau government took political ownership of the contract in 2015, when it approved the bulk of the export permits.

"I have no idea what drove either the previous Conservative government or the present Liberal government to make the decision they did, which appears to be at odds with our own export-controls rules, but I do know it is never as black and white as people like to make it out to be," Prof. Stone said.

"If Canada decided not to sell the vehicles to Saudi Arabia, General Dynamics would just move the production to their U.S. facility and the vehicles would still be sold to Saudi Arabia," he said.

He said Ottawa would also have to weigh the impact on its relations with Arab states.

"In addition to considering the possible loss of jobs in London ... the government will have also had to consider what the impact would be on things like its relationship with other nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council, access to facilities in the region for military activities, its reputation for being a trusted country and what that means for other business development, military and commercial, and opportunities around the world for trade."

Anna Ek, president of Svenska Freds, a long-time Swedish peace organization, said Sweden's arms export process still has too many shortcomings. She said the oversight by legislators is insufficient because those parliamentarians providing scrutiny cannot discuss the proposed deals with their own leaders.

She expects Sweden will add democracy as a criterion for judging arms deals, but fears the wording will not be robust enough to make this an overriding concern. Rather, she said she is concerned it could be set aside in favour of other foreign policy interests, such as defence and security.

Aaron Karp, who once worked at SIPRI but now teaches at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., says debate about arms exports is especially painful for Sweden's governing Social Democratic Party, which is torn between different internal constituencies.

He said Sweden is trying to end interminable debates about arms exports, but there is a risk that legislating as many rules as possible might make weapons export licensing "more mechanical and less discretionary" for policy makers.

"The arms trade compels every exporting and importing country to acknowledge the contradictions of their foreign and security policies: the gap between the goals of a peaceful world, the possibilities of interstate war, and the everyday reality of armed conflict and hybrid war, between the desire to transform the world and the imperative to support friends and slow the spread of chaos, between moral purity and messy realities," Professor Karp said.

Transfers of major conventional weapons, 2015, Canada and Sweden

Aircraft and aircraft parts Canada's main exports are Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 and PW100 turboprop aircraft engines, Bombardier's Global Express aircraft and the de Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft. Sweden exports the MFI-17 Supporter trainer aircraft to Pakistan.

Light armoured vehicles and LAV parts Canada has exported 879 armoured carriers to Saudi Arabia since 2009. That does not include the newest order from General Dynamics Land Systems. Sweden exported 40 diesel engines to UAE for 40 Finnish-made AMV light armoured vehicles in 2015.

Radar systems Sweden exports multiple radar systems for land, air and naval weapon and search systems to several countries, including the Giraffe AMB air search radar and Arthur artillery hunting radar.

Long-range weapon systems

Sweden licenses its FH-77 155mm towed artillery gun to India and the RBS-70 portable surface-to-air missile system to Pakistan.

Naval weapon systems

Sweden licenses a 24m high-speed multi-role combat vessel to the UAE, the SAK-70 Mk-2 57mm naval gun to the United States and exports the RBS-15 Mk-3 anti-ship missile system to Algeria.

Associated Graphic

In 2005, Saudi Arabia ordered 200 RBS-56B Bill-2 anti-tank missile systems from Sweden. The contract was completed in 2011.


According to the World Military Aircraft Inventory, there are 186 Gripen aircraft in service in Brazil, the Czech Republic, Hungary, South Africa, Thailand, Britain and Sweden.


Light-armoured vehicles are seen parked on the lot of the General Dynamics Land Systems factory in London, Ont., on Wednesday, April 13, 2016.



Santiago Lyon fell in love with news photography at an early age and never looked back. But over his three-decade career, writes Anthony Feinstein, his philosophy of 'forced resilience,' plowing through the psychological trauma caused by covering multiple wars, eventually shattered
Wednesday, May 18, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A8

About the series

Photojournalists are vital witnesses to global events. Through their lenses, we, the readers safe at home, glean a sliver of visual reality from places torn by man-made or natural catastrophe. As recent events have shown, kidnapping for ransom and murder to instill terror have made journalism increasingly hazardous. This, in turn, has challenged journalists when it comes to their physical and emotional well-being.

Anthony Feinstein, a psychiatrist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and professor at the University of Toronto, is a world leader in the psychological effects of war on front-line journalists. Together with Dr. Feinstein, The Globe and Mail is running a year-long project: Conflict Photographers. Once a month, we feature a frank and intimate interview between Dr. Feinstein and a photojournalist. Each article showcases an image that represents a seminal moment in the photographer's life and career, and often presents a window to a much greater issue. In this 12th and final instalment, Dr. Feinstein speaks with Santiago Lyon, whose three-decade career has taken him through more than a dozen war zones to his role as director of photography at the Associated Press.


What makes a person choose a profession in which they know that scores of their colleagues, some of them friends, will be killed each year, while hundreds of other colleagues will be arrested and some will go missing, never to be found? Why choose a profession that entails running toward grave danger while those around flee from it? If you can answer these questions, you begin to gain some insight into the complex world of the front-line journalist.

In the case of Santiago Lyon, his choice of combat photography has a preordained element to it. His father, New York-born and a journalist with an overriding passion for bullfighting, named him after Santiago Martin ("El Viti"), one of the great matadors, hinting at a life of adventure to come. Soon, the young Lyon was leading a peripatetic existence, shuttling between his mother and schooling in Ireland, and his father and the newswire services in Spain and Portugal.

Some of his earliest memories are of hanging around the Associated Press bureau in Lisbon, paging through their annual reports, beautifully produced hardcover books filled with photographs from around the world. He remembers standing on a chair in the AP darkroom in Lisbon after a military coup that overthrew the Salazarist regime of Marcelo Caetano and being asked by an indecisive photographer to pick out the prints for publication. Too young to grasp the political significance of the moment, he fondly recalls the stillness of the darkroom and the "miracle" of an image appearing in the wash. He also vividly recollects how the tranquillity of the darkroom vanished on a later trip to Madrid where, to his amazement, he saw that a huge blowup of Eddie Adam's infamous Vietnam street execution photograph now filled a wall in the bureau.

With nature and nurture in seamless alignment, it comes as no surprise to learn that Lyon, after completing high school and securing a place at Trinity College in Dublin, took a gap year to work at Agencia EFE, a Spanish international news agency. Here, he had the evocative-sounding title of "copy taster." His job was to identify stories of interest from Central America and translate them from Spanish into English. The news was dominated by lurid accounts of war and massacre. Lyon never made it to Trinity. He laughs that he is still on his gap year.

Being a copy taster may have opened the door to a distant world of conflict, but for Lyon, it was too far removed from events on the ground. Determined to taste the turmoil himself, he decided to become a photographer, swayed by the advice of a senior colleague who told him "they see all the stuff up close." He left Agencia EFE, bought a used camera from an AP photographer, began work as a contract freelancer and set his sights on the revolutionary fervour of Central America. By the time he was 23 years of age, he had arrived in Mexico City as Reuters's chief photographer for the region.

The desired posting was not entirely to his liking, for it came with considerable administrative responsibilities. Still, for someone who, by his own admission, "relished going into trouble," the Civil War in El Salvador offered a long-sought-after entrée into the world of a combat photographer. Lyon remembers feeling terrified during his first exposure to warfare, but in the same breath recalls Winston Churchill's observation that "there is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at with no result." He quickly learned to appraise risk and observed how his more senior colleagues responded to the disturbing sight of people killed deliberately - by adopting what he saw as "forced resilience," putting aside their feelings.

When sent to photograph the first Gulf War in 1990, his administrative duties were thankfully over, but a new, unexpected challenge arose. He was one of a number of journalists taken captive by Saddam Hussein's forces at the war's end. His six days of captivity, in which he was well treated, were less troubling than the episode's aftermath. In London, after his release, he recalls that a letter was slipped under his door. "While I understand the lure of a good story," wrote one of his managers, "I want you to know you wasted valuable management time securing your release ..." Lyon was also taken to task for "losing valuable company equipment." There was no expression of concern for his safety, no relief that the captivity had ended well. Incensed by his employer's mercenary attitude, Lyon left to join the Associated Press soon thereafter. He was posted to Cairo and it was from the Egyptian capital that he was sent to cover the breakup of Yugoslavia.

The wars in the Balkans consumed Lyon, physically and emotionally, as it did many of that generation's journalists. The longevity of the conflict, its proximity to countries the journalists considered home, the re-emergence of ethnic cleansing within living memory of the Holocaust and a dismay at what was seen as Europe's recidivistic bloodletting all combined to create a set of circumstances that dragged in journalists and held them captive. To many in the press, the Balkan conflict was the Spanish Civil War redux, presenting a clear moral choice between right and wrong, aggressor and victim, democracy and authoritarianism. Couched in this emotional language, it becomes easier to appreciate how journalists came to view the conflict in such a personal way. Removing or weakening the buffer of objectivity, however, ran the risk of breaching the emotional floodgates, as many were to discover.

Lyon began covering the war from the Serbian spa town of Ilija, a short drive from Sarajevo. When Bosnian forces attacked the hotel in which he was staying, a rocket-propelled grenade was fired at his room, knocking him to the ground. After the attack was repulsed, most of the journalists left the town, deeming the situation too hazardous. The small AP team stayed and relocated to a house in Sarajevo. Lyon remembers moving into the city just as most of the journalists were moving out. Among the handful remaining was Jordi Pujol, a freelance photographer working for the Catalan language daily, Avui. Pujol, covering his first war, looked to the slightly more experienced Lyon for advice. "I had him under my wing," Lyon recalls. Mentorship could not, however protect against the randomness of warfare. Pujol was killed in a mortar attack that seriously injured another AP photographer, David Brauchli.

It fell to Lyon and his colleagues to repatriate the body. They had to buy a coffin, rent a second car for the coffin, load the injured Brauchli into a third car, navigate the lengthy drive from Sarajevo to Split, which entailed crossing multiple checkpoints and battle lines - a passage eased by the presence of the makeshift hearse - and hand over their wounded colleague to the air ambulance attendants and the corpse to the crew of a chartered Spanish plane. Lyon spent the night in a hotel in Split frequented by Bosnians escaping the fighting. He remembers waking the following morning and opening his hotel window to bright sunshine, the sounds of war replaced by the laughter of children gamboling below. The contrast with what he had just endured could not have been starker. He broke down and began crying before catching himself. There was no time for his emotions. Circumstances demanded forced resilience. Lyon had to pull himself together for the flight to Barcelona, the funeral and a meeting with Pujol's parents to tell them how their son had died.

Immediately following the funeral, Lyon returned to Sarajevo. Feeling exhausted, he decided to leave the besieged city for a holiday back in Spain, but his vacation plans were scuppered when he was asked by the AP to relieve a colleague in Mogadishu. "I felt like a prizefighter, bludgeoned on the ropes," Lyon tells me. Weeks of witnessing famine and death in Somalia followed, Lyon chaperoned everywhere by heavily armed bodyguards high on khat. On his return to Cairo, he fell into a slump.

Lyon could feel something was amiss, emotionally. He visited a psychiatrist in London and was told he had certain features of PTSD, but he shied away from therapy. Over dinner with one of his bosses in London, he confessed to not feeling well emotionally, only to be told "my responsibility to you ends when you send me the pictures." The dinner was cut short.

In hindsight, Lyon is able to recognize that he was not well attuned to his own emotions. Which is, he believes, why he stuck up his hand when the AP called for volunteers to go back into Bosnia in the winter of 1993. Feeling numb, he returned to the war and a brutally cold winter. He burned firewood in the office to keep warm and spent his days at the morgue or attending funerals.

Lyon continued to photograph the Balkan conflicts for another six years interspersed with periods covering the civil war in Yemen, the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan and, for lighter relief, the soccer World Cup in the United States. In 1995, he was injured by a mortar attack in Sarajevo and required surgery under epidural anesthesia before being evacuated. His injury, while serious, could have been much worse if a walkie-talkie on his hip had not stopped a large piece of shrapnel. While he was recuperating, news of Srebrenica broke. He remembers feeling angry and frustrated that his wounds were keeping him from photographing the scene of Europe's worst massacre since the Second World War.

By now Lyon's friends were questioning his relentless drive to return to the Balkans. He ignored their advice to quit. Toward the end of the 1990s, his emotions were again fraying. Prominent PTSD symptoms such as hypervigilance and a startle response were evident. When away from war zones, he avoided socializing and resorted to self-medication to relieve his distress. But through it all he remained functional at work, still regarded as a go-to man in extremis. It took the deaths of cameraman Miguel Gil Moreno of the AP and Reuters journalist Kurt Schork, two legendary figures at the top of their game, to convince him that if he continued combat work he would either end up like them or go crazy. "I stopped cold turkey," he tells me, "and immediately fell into a funk."

With his persona gone, Lyon felt bereft. "These were the most difficult years of my life," he confides. The discomfort of stepping into a professional void was magnified by unremitting symptoms of PTSD, compounded by self-medication and social withdrawal. Marriage in 2001 to fellow war journalist Emma Daly and the birth of their daughter were, however, the start of the healing process. A Nieman Fellowship gave him the time to rethink his career and, just as importantly, receive the long-delayed psychotherapy. He emerged from his year-long fellowship healed, the memories of war and loss not forgotten, but now in a place that no longer caused him pain. The most articulate of men, Lyon likens his recovery to "level setting my alarm system to where it should be." In search of a challenging and complex job, but one that was not life threatening, Lyon became head of the AP's photo operations, responsible for managing hundreds of photojournalists worldwide.

"My worst fear when I took the job in 2003," he divulges, "was getting a call that somebody working for me had been killed. That was my nightmare. And 10 years later, Boom! It happens." The 3 a.m. phone call was to inform him that Anja Niedringhaus had been killed in Afghanistan and her colleague Kathy Gannon wounded. As with the death of Jordi Pujol, it fell to Lyon to manage the aftermath of the trauma, except, in this case, Niedringhaus was a close family friend, compounding the grief.

In writing about the life and career of Santiago Lyon, as with the other photojournalists in the series, I have focused on the emotional effects of grave dangers confronted, stresses encountered and losses endured. There is, of course, much more to the profession, numerous experiences that are uplifting, exhilarating and professionally fulfilling. There are the fun times, hard partying and strong friendships forged, which, alongside the nobility of the human spirit that war paradoxically unmasks, offer antidotes to the suffering witnessed. These positives surely outweigh the negatives, providing an enduring allure to those with the right temperament. And yet, as this series has shown, the work of conflict photographers comes at a personal cost. War inevitably leaves an imprint.

Before concluding, there is one other theme that deserves comment, running as it does in parallel alongside the trauma of war. I refer to resilience. Lyon's career is testimony to it, marking his passage from wide-eyed boy standing before Eddie Adams's iconic image, to director of photography at the Associated Press, a storied company founded in war 170 years ago. Barely out of school, he was sucked into the vortex of conflict, batted around by the vicissitudes of fate, shot at, wounded, called upon to eulogize friends and colleagues who had died too soon, and all the while he never went under, pushing the limits of endurance, tenaciously bearing witness, capturing history with a camera. What a journey it has been.

Associated Graphic



Saturday, May 21, 2016

Failure to safeguard
Public examination into the 2011 suicide of Corporal Shaun Collins offers a glimpse inside the sometimes secretive world of the Canadian Forces, Renata D'Aliesio reports
Saturday, May 14, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A10

EDMONTON -- Gary Collins's voice trembled, his face reddened and tears pooled in his eyes as he began to talk about his only son inside a silent Edmonton courtroom. He had sat at a small wooden desk for four days, poring over thick binders of exhibits and listening to 11 Canadian Forces members and mental-health specialists testify at an unprecedented Alberta death inquiry. Now, it was his turn to speak. He took a deep breath and pressed on.

His son, Shaun, was a teenager when he joined the reserves, not long before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, sparked the Afghanistan war. Deploying twice to the battlefield - first as a reservist and then with the regular force - Corporal Collins returned from his second tour haunted by nightmares and flashbacks.

"Shaun seen and did things over there that were against everything we taught our kids to respect," Mr. Collins told a group of mostly government lawyers gathered for the inquiry.

His son had been a caring young man. Mr. Collins recalled how he once bought a bus ticket to Fort McMurray, Alta., for a pan...

handler trying to get to the oil sands mecca. If only, he lamented, Edmonton military police had shown similar compassion on March 9, 2011, the night they arrested his son for allegedly driving drunk in a black SUV.

Within 21/2 hours of that arrest, the 27-year-old corporal with the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry was found unconscious in a dark military cell, hanging from the metal-barred door. Cpl.

Collins, who was being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder and clinical depression, died in a hospital two days later.

The inquiry, the first ever in Alberta to zero in on a military death, has exposed disturbing cracks in military police practices, equipment and facilities and in the Forces' mental-healthcare system. The province's police watchdog - the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team - and the military completed separate investigations into Cpl. Collins's death, but their reports have not been publicly released.

No criminal or military charges were laid in the case, a Canadian Forces spokesperson said in an e-mail.

Key breakdowns that came to light over four days of inquiry testimony included a lack of medical follow-up after Cpl. Collins asked for mental-health services after his second Afghanistan tour. Also, the military police team failed to adequately search the Forces' security information database and so were not aware of the corporal's previous suicide threats.

Meanwhile, video cameras installed to watch over soldiers in the Edmonton military police cells were not working and hadn't for years. And a defibrillator belonging to the military didn't work when officers and a friend of Cpl. Collins frantically tried to revive the soldier.

Cpl. Collins is one of at least 62 military members and veterans who have taken their lives after deploying on the Afghanistan operation, a continuing Globe and Mail investigation has found - an alarming number that had been hidden from Canadians until recently. Another 158 soldiers died in theatre, including six who killed themselves. About 40,000 soldiers served on the 13-year mission.

Provincial court Justice Jody Moher, who presided over the inquiry, cannot assign blame, but she can make recommendations to help prevent a similar death.

Although the inquiry concluded last week, her report will likely take months to complete.

National Defence lawyers urged Justice Moher to limit the scope of her recommendations, arguing the province does not have jurisdiction over a federal entity such as the military. Mr. Collins, however, pleaded for the judge to weigh in: "Why allow an inquiry if you are not going to allow recommendations?" he asked.

It was a gruelling week for Mr. Collins, and more lie ahead for the Edmonton grandfather. On Monday, he returned to another courtroom for the first-degree murder trial in the death of his eldest daughter, Shannon. Her remains were found on an acreage just outside the city in 2008. Her boyfriend, Shawn Lee Wruck, wasn't charged until 2013. The trial is expected to last a month.

Torn apart by his sister's slaying, Cpl. Collins began seeing military social worker Shaun Ali in 2008.

He told Mr. Ali that he believed he knew who killed her and was frustrated that police hadn't made an arrest. He also felt he was being harassed by members in his own unit because he had reported drug use by other soldiers.

Mr. Ali saw Cpl. Collins about five times over 11 months. The social worker said Cpl. Collins appeared to be doing well before he went to Afghanistan for his second tour in November, 2009, with the 1st Battalion of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

During the tumultuous deployment, Cpl. Collins erupted in the field at a master corporal. He reportedly turned in his rifle to a fellow soldier and said: "Take this from me before I kill him." But some also heard, "Take this from me before I kill myself." Cpl. Collins was flown out of the battlefront to see mental-health workers at Kandahar airfield base. They determined that he was not a threat to himself, Major J.M. Watson testified.

The battle group spent a few days in Cyprus decompressing before returning to Canada in May, 2010. While there, soldiers filled out a form that asked whether they wanted to speak with a mental-health worker. Cpl. Collins answered yes, but the inquiry heard that no one from the military's medical system followed up until he called a help line in distress on Aug. 23, 2010.

Frustrated with the information he was getting, Cpl. Collins abruptly hung up the phone.

Before he did, he said: "I'm done," and "I've had enough."

Worried that he might be thinking about killing himself, a mental-health worker called for help and Edmonton police were dispatched to his house. Cpl. Collins told the officers that it was a misunderstanding and assured them that he did not want to take his own life.

The incident led to a session with Mr. Ali. The social worker noticed significant changes in Cpl. Collins. He was showing signs of depression and anxiety.

He wasn't sleeping well and was drinking more.

Cpl. Collins was referred for psychological and psychiatric assessments and anger-management counselling, but balked at addictions treatment. As his mental health continued to deteriorate, he threatened to take his own life twice in the fall of 2010.

The military prohibited him from handling weapons and transferred him to a woodworking shop with other ill and injured soldiers. The move was a positive change for Cpl. Collins.

One of the soldiers he met was Everett Dalton, now a retired corporal.

"I tried to take care of him.

Watch over him like a big brother would," Mr. Dalton said. "I recognized what he was going through."

Cpl. Collins wanted to get better. In early December, 2010, he turned to a psychologist outside of the military system because he worried seeking further help within would harm his career.

Trauma specialist Keli Furman testified that "he was one of the most severe cases of PTSD" she had seen in her career. "There was clear evidence that he had been exposed to horrific events," she said.

Dr. Furman worked with him to control his temper and ground him to reality. A military psychiatrist monitored his medication.

He was taking an antidepressant, sleeping pills and an anti-psychotic to stabilize his mood.

Dr. Furman met with Cpl. Collins the day before he hanged himself. She said she saw no signs then that he was a suicide risk. He was excited about his future and about getting married.

He recently got a cat and was enjoying his woodworking job.

He hoped he could eventually rebuild his career in the Forces.

"He knew he had a long way to go, but he was highly motivated to recover," Dr. Furman said.

The next day, on the morning of March 9, 2011, Cpl. Collins reported to the Joint Personnel Support Unit (JPSU) at the Edmonton base. The resource was created during the Afghanistan war to help seriously ill and wounded soldiers return to their military careers or train them for new civilian jobs and smooth their transition out of the Forces. He was nervous about being transferred to the JPSU but also trying to remain optimistic.

But inadequate resources and a large number of war casualties have strained the JPSU. Over the years, internal reviews and the military ombudsman have pointed to chronic understaffing and insufficient training at the support unit. The Forces are currently reviewing the JPSU and have pegged it for an overhaul.

On Cpl. Collins's first day in the JPSU, the platoon warrant officer and service co-ordinator were not there to meet with him. He left the support unit frustrated and went drinking at a bar on base for junior-rank soldiers. A bartender tried to stop him from driving off in his SUV, but the corporal didn't listen. As he drove away, the bartender called military police.

Corporal Jason Pettem was a rookie military police officer in 2011. He pulled Cpl. Collins's SUV over on a busy street just outside the base shortly after 6 p.m. The soft-spoken Cpl. Pettem told the inquiry that the soldier's eyes were bloodshot and that he admitted to drinking. Fellow military police officer, Sergeant Matthew Parkin, a corporal at the time, soon arrived at the scene.

Cpl. Collins questioned their authority to stop him. When he was advised he would be detained, he got more angry and agitated, Sgt. Parkin testified.

The corporal was placed in handcuffs and taken to the military police guardhouse just before 7 p.m. He was searched and put in the solicitor-client room to call a lawyer. A dispatcher at the guardhouse was supposed to check the military security information database and the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) for information about Cpl. Collins, but he misspelled the soldier's name, the inquiry was told.

As a result of the mistake, the officers were not aware of his suicidal history, which was recorded in the Forces database, but not in CPIC. No follow-up checks were done until after his hanging.

While Cpl. Collins was in the solicitor-client room, he was asked to perform a Breathalyzer test, but he refused. Warrant Officer Dean Boyd, then a sergeant and the officer in charge that night, testified that the intoxicated soldier got aggressive and attempted to strike Cpl. Pettem with a phone.

Worried about the safety of the officers, Sgt. Boyd decided to place Cpl. Collins in cell No. 1. He warned the soldier he would remain locked up for the night unless he started co-operating.

Cpl. Collins refused two more Breathalyzer demands. Sgt. Boyd dimmed the lights in the cell and walked out. It was about 8 p.m.

No one else was in custody that night.

A veteran of the Afghanistan war, Sgt. Boyd planned to charge Cpl. Collins with refusing to provide a breath sample and release him to Cpl. Dalton, who was on his way to the guardhouse. Military police officers have the same powers of search, seizure and arrest as civilian police. They can lay both criminal charges and charges under the Forces' code of service discipline, which is part of the National Defence Act.

Cpl. Collins could be heard screaming from the darkened cell. At some point, the yelling stopped.

Around 8:30 p.m., Sgt. Boyd and Cpl. Dalton walked into the cell block to release Cpl. Collins. They found him slumped, hanging from the cell door's bars by a noose fashioned from his combat shirt. The pair rushed to him. Sgt.

Boyd cut the noose off and started chest compressions. Cpl. Dalton breathed into his friend's mouth. A defibrillator was brought in from a military police vehicle, but it didn't work. The batteries were dead. A second defibrillator was retrieved. Firefighters and paramedics soon arrived and took over, but they couldn't save him.

Sgt. Parkin was choked with emotion as he recalled Cpl. Collins's hanging. Testifying by phone from Egypt, he said he and the other military police officers would not have left the soldier unsupervised in the cell had they known about his suicidal history.

Changes to the Edmonton military police guardhouse and practices were made in the wake of Cpl. Collins's death. In an e-mail, Captain Joanna Labonte noted that wire mesh was installed to cover hanging points and Plexiglas was used to shield the metalbarred doors. A functioning camera system was also installed, providing observation of the cells and surrounding areas. As well, all members in pretrial-service custody are now under constant physical observation and a defibrillator has been moved into the guardhouse.

Despite these changes, the guardhouse still doesn't meet current correctional standards, Capt. Labonte noted. Limits have been placed on how long members can be kept in the cells.

After Cpl. Collins's father finished testifying at the inquiry, the judge adjourned for a break.

Instead of burying his head back into the exhibit documents, he walked over to WO Boyd, who had been taking notes at the back of the courtroom.

The pair talked calmly for some time, each explaining their side, each wishing they could change what happened on March 9, 2011.

The suicide of Cpl. Collins ripped holes in many lives.

"I could tell you 100 stories about Shaun," Mr. Collins had told the inquiry. Afterward, he said: "He was so much more than that day."

Associated Graphic

Shaun Collins was a kind-hearted teenager when he joined the reserves shortly before the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. The inquiry looking into his 2011 suicide, the first of its kind in Alberta, has exposed flaws in military jail safeguards and mental-health-care system.


Canadian soldiers take aim at a suspected Taliban fighter near Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 2010. During his second tour in Afghanistan, Corporal Shaun Collins was flown out of the battlefront to see mental-health workers at Kandahar airfield.


Comic book virtuoso revived the medium
Award-winning illustrator, who was once kicked out of design school, was hailed for his extraordinary vision
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, May 21, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S11

Much as you'd expect from someone who made a living bringing superheroes to life on the page, Darwyn Cooke was not afraid to stand up for what he thought was right. He spoke his mind about the dark state of comics franchises and in the end managed to breathe new life into the medium, redesigning classic characters and imbuing his work with the optimism of bygone days.

After working for more than 30 years in animation, comic books, graphic design and illustration, which included characters from Batman, Wonder Woman and Lois Lane to Wolverine, Parker, the Spirit and The Watchmen, the virtuoso Canadian artist and storyteller died at his home near Tampa, Fla., on May 14 at the age of 53. The cause was lung cancer.

Although he was a proud Canadian, it was John F. Kennedy's Camelot - with its Cold War tensions, social upheaval and cool aesthetics - that held an enduring fascination for him. His masterwork DC: The New Frontier (2004) sets the origins of the Justice League and the characters of the DC Silver Age into a powerful narrative set in the America of that era. The six-issue comic book series, named for JFK's 1960 Democratic nomination acceptance speech, would win Mr. Cooke the first of his 13 Eisner Awards, the industry's most prestigious accolade, and he won many of its others - Reubens, Harveys and several Shusters (the Canadian comics awards named for the Canadian co-creator of Superman). When his Justice League: The New Frontier animated adaptation came out, it was nominated for an Emmy.

His dynamic illustration, panel design and thoughtful approach to writing transcended mere nostalgia, whether he was telling hard-boiled stories of anti-heroes or exploring heroism through superheroes. Though whenever it was suggested to Mr. Cooke that he was an auteur he'd reply, "I'm more like John McTiernan," the director of Die Hard, one of his favourite movies.

"That's the kind of creator he thought he was," his friend Michael Cho says. "An entertainer."

Darwyn Grant Cooke was born on Nov. 16, 1962, to Grant, a construction foreman, and Joanne, an office administrator and homemaker. He was raised in Etobicoke, Ont., with younger brothers Kenneth and Dennis. In many interviews, he said he wanted to work in the comics industry from the age of 13 when, bored while visiting his aunt and uncle in Sudbury, Ont., he had picked up a reprint copy of The Spectacular Spider-Man, studied it and copied it inside and out for weeks. He took art classes at his suburban high school and made a small start in the industry in his early 20s, when he placed a story in DC's New Talent Showcase. But Mr. Cooke would not publish another comic until 15 years later, with Batman: Ego.

Expelled from George Brown College's design program after his first year (he spent more time in college enjoying himself than he did working on assignments, he said), he first swerved into graphic design. While waiting tables at the Madison Avenue Pub in downtown Toronto, he counted among his regulars the publisher and editor of Music Express magazine. One night they mentioned they needed an art director. "So I went out the next day and I bought a copy of the magazine," he told The Comics Journal in a 2007 interview. "Then I took a couple weeks at home using wayold markers and what I'd learned in college, and I redesigned the magazine." He presented it to them and for four years (1984 to 1988) he was the art director (and of its short-lived sister heavy metal publication Metallion), designing pages and overseeing shoots with David Bowie and Robert Plant.

He then worked as associate art director at Flare (and later, briefly, at Chatelaine). Shelley Black, Flare's editor-in-chief at the time, remembers Mr. Cooke as a hip, young guy who was always wearing a black motorcycle jacket. "He wasn't a corporate sort of guy, or like every other mild-mannered art director - he had an edge to him," she said.

For much of the 1990s, he then worked as a creative for Toronto ad agencies such as Doner Schur Peppler and Brotherhood, where he won awards for packaging and TV commercials. His clever and graphic 1960s-inspired advertising sensibility later contributed to his dynamic comics pacing and design, as did the cinema theory and frame composition he absorbed through his love of movies.

Mr. Cooke resisted the pull of comics until an opportunity came along to work on Batman, which had been his earliest comicsrelated love as the boy who sat riveted to the campy Adam West TV series. After answering a trade ad placed by director Bruce Timm in the late 1990s, Mr. Cooke began drawing the caped crusader as a storyboard artist in the Warner Brothers animation department, later taking a turn as a director on Men In Black: The Animated Series.

Artist Steve Manale became friends with Mr. Cooke when they met in Toronto in those years, while Mr. Manale was still in art school and working at the Silver Snail comics shop on Toronto's Queen Street West. Mr. Manale began working as an animation assistant and the two eventually shared a studio for several years.

Every Wednesday at lunchtime, Mr. Manale says, they'd walk over to Dragon Lady, the nearest comics shop, to check out the week's new arrivals. The store also sold ephemera, including the old Life and Time magazine tear sheets and ads that Mr. Cooke collected to use as period design references.

After browsing Dragon Lady, Mr. Manale and Mr. Cooke would go for lunch, discuss life and talk shop. Soon the Wednesday group expanded to include more young artists. "We were total nerds," friend Michael Cho laughs. "He was, too. He was just the coolest of us. But he was still the kind of nerd who could spot who inked what from the corner of a [Jack] Kirby panel." One day, when their regular waitress overheard them talking about comics yet again, she dubbed them the Superman Club. The name stuck (although when Mr. Cooke was out of town or missed a week, they jokingly called themselves the Jimmy Olson Club).

It was one of the old magazines Mr. Cooke found at Dragon Lady - Look magazine from November, 1954, with Gina Lollobrigida on the cover - that inspired his revamp of Catwoman with writer Ed Brubaker in 2001.

Catwoman's art and stories had turned salacious and as a condition of his participation in the project, Mr. Cooke insisted on redesigning the character; he also made it clear he wouldn't titillate.

In biker boots and a modified aviation helmet and goggles, she would be a positive female character - equal parts adventurer and detective, both in the Catwoman comics series and Mr. Cooke's later hit graphic novel, Selina's Big Score, a heist story.

When Mr. Cooke's long-time girlfriend, Marsha Stagg, and their beloved black lab, Bud, moved to Nova Scotia's Eastern Shore in 2005, the Superman Club's assorted artists sent him off in style by drawing a tribute comic. Many of them had inked or collaborated with him in some way over the years, or received job recommendations from him. "Everything he did was in life," artist and friend J.

Bone recalls. Aside from an occasional blog post, "he didn't live on social media at all. And I think that goes into why his characters are so good. He hung out and really listened and talked with people." From Nova Scotia, that meant two- and three-hour-long phone conversations, a couple of times a week.

After his Catwoman redesign (the template is still in use today), other projects such as Marvel's X-Statix and work on Spider-Man followed until Mr. Cooke embarked on an ambitious project, later named DC: The New Frontier, involving what he felt was a return to the true origin of superhero stories.

The joy in his work feels different from today's grim and cynical superhero franchises. It was a sincere vision of superheroes as our best selves. "We drift back and forth in the last three decades between wanting to poke holes in heroes and wanting to celebrate heroes in the comics," says Paul Levitz, the comics writer and long-time editor at DC Comics who was president and publisher from 2002 to 2009. "Darwyn's material was certainly the more cheerier and optimistic," he adds.

"It was the superhero flying down smiling the whole time, kind of magic. And he does a really sweet Wonder Woman - you want to meet that gal." The powerful warrior Wonder Woman towers over Superman, as an Amazon should - a detail Mr. Cooke delighted in pointing out.

A seasoned animator, but still a relative newcomer transitioning into comics, Mr. Cooke had pitched it as a sprawling, complex story that would involve numerous key DC characters, with a non-linear narrative in the vein of The Limey and Memento. "When the presentation material came in pitching for what ultimately became the New Frontier series," Mr. Levitz recalls, "people aren't usually that good their first day! He was extraordinary. And he had a very personal vision, which not every creative person does. He had a deep and rich sense of the history, and of texture."

Later, DC tapped Mr. Cooke to work on Will Eisner's The Spirit - another good fit, Mr. Levitz says - because "Will always had his tongue planted firmly in his cheek about the heroicness of his Spirit. He was a Cary Grant sort of hero. With a lightness to it and a wit that very few superhero creators who followed could achieve."

In his work and life, Mr. Cooke had a similarly wry sense of humour - sometimes appearing at conventions in the red dress serge tunic and Stetson of an RCMP officer (at WonderCon 2010) or on another memorable occasion (Dragon Con 2009) wearing a plush Winnie the Pooh mascot costume.

Mr. Cooke also revelled in the complex amoral universe of the anti-hero loner of hard-boiled crime fiction. He was especially a fan of the Parker novels, which were set in the 1960s and written by novelist Donald Westlake under the pseudonym Richard Stark.

Although it took some work, Mr. Cooke persuaded the author to allow him to adapt the Parker books into graphic novels. Mr. Westlake died shortly before the first, Parker: The Hunter, was published in 2009. Three other Parker adaptations followed.

IDW Publishing special project editor Scott Dunbier worked with Mr. Cooke at DC on The Spirit and was also best man at his Las Vegas wedding in 2012. Because the date fell on Mr. Cooke's 50th birthday, Mr. Dunbier wanted to arrange a special gift, so he contacted Abby Westlake, the writer's widow, with a particular request. She agreed to part with an important artifact.

Mr. Dunbier recalls the moment when the groom realized the gift wasn't just any old, clunky SmithCorona manual typewriter, but one of Mr. Westlake's very own, used to bang out his books. On an otherwise jubilant Vegas weekend it was a teary moment, since the adaptations had been Mr. Cooke's long-time dream project.

Mr. Cooke's recent winters were spent in Florida, a place imbued with fond childhood memories of family vacations poolside in Kissimmee. He also maintained close ties to his hometown, regularly attending FanExpo and the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. Mr. Cooke told Quill & Quire last year that he was planning a new threeissue comic called Revengeance, a noir thriller that would have been his first creator-owned foray. It was set in the familiar 1980s downtown Toronto art scene of his youth.

Mr. Cooke's last completed project was The Twilight Children, a science fiction saga co-created with Gilbert Hernandez, and in the weeks before his death at his beloved kitschy Florida bungalow, Mr. Cooke was still occasionally drawing covers and reading comics (the very last, the new Mr. A #18, by Steve Ditko). He leaves his wife, Marsha; brother, Dennis; and extended family.

Mr. Cooke admired test pilot Hal Jordan and alter-ego Green Lantern - one of the cornerstones of New Frontier - as much for the character designs as for their heroism. Having recently rekindled his interest in pilots and the space race, Mr. Cooke visited the SpaceX rocket manufacturing and launch facility headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., with his wife last year. They became enthralled by the idea of space travel and he spoke of little else. In addition to planning memorials in Toronto and Los Angeles in the coming months, Mr. Cooke's friends and family are hoping to transport his ashes into orbit.

Space, the final frontier.

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Associated Graphic

Darwyn Cooke was known for his vibrant, imaginative work on superheroes and hard-boiled stories.


A limited edition 2014 bookplate shows Donald Westlake's Parker character, as drawn by Mr. Cooke, at Toronto City Hall.

Darwyn Cooke


Ahead of his first Canadian appearance at the Power Plant, Ryan McNamara is busy preparing a genre-defying work that goes beyond mere performance. James Adams profiles the brave new face of contemporary art
Saturday, May 21, 2016 – Print Edition, Page R1

Performance art used to be about pain. Physical pain, psychic pain. Not all of it, of course, but a lot. Think back to 1974, when Chris Burden was splayed on the back of a Volkswagen Beetle and crucified. With real nails. Or to 1964's Cut Piece, where a 31-year-old Yoko Ono, sitting on the stage of Carnegie Hall, invited audience members onstage to use a big pair of scarily sharp scissors to snip off her clothes. Then there was Relation in Space from 1977. Here, a naked Marina Abramovic positioned herself at one end of a space, with her then-lover Ulay, also naked, at the opposite, whereupon each would run (run!) directly into the other, repeating the ritualistic, bruising bodyslams non-stop for 30 excruciating minutes.

Ryan McNamara doesn't do pain. Strenuous? Most definitely.

Challenging? Uh-huh. Time-consuming? For sure. Six years ago, when the New York-based performance artist was 30, he spent every day for almost five months taking dance lessons, in public, from various professionals at P.S. 1, an arts centre affiliated with the Museum of Modern Art. He called the whole thing Make Ryan a Dancer, the finale being a marathon of choreography in which McNamara, who at the time was finishing MFA studies in photography and sculpture at Hunter College, busted moves in every room at P.S. 1.

A year later, at a fundraiser on Long Island, he and a colleague had themselves lowered upright into holes in the forest floor and buried up to their necks in wood chips. Then for the rest of the evening, as passersby trod close (mostly) to their heads, they sang Ghetto Supastar/Islands in the Stream into microphones placed on the ground before them.

By rough estimate, McNamara has mounted at least 30 site-specific performance pieces of varying degrees of complexity over the past seven years in cities such as Moscow, Sao Paulo, Dallas, Rotterdam and Istanbul.

His big breakthrough was a double-barrelled affair: The first blast, in November, 2013, was his award-winning presentation of MEEM: A Story Ballet About the Internet, at the Performa 13 biennial in New York; one year later, he and his troupe delivered a combination update/reprise at Art Basel Miami Beach, calling it MEEM 4 MIAMI.

Most recently, on three consecutive evenings in early May, McNamara presented Battleground, a "cosplay-ballet-battle" involving three teams of colourcoded performers (clad in blue, red and green) at the Peter B.

Lewis Theatre in Manhattan's Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Coming June 2: a feature evening performance centred on Toronto's Harbourfront Theatre as part of Power Ball XVIII, the annual major fundraiser/party for the Power Plant, perhaps Canada's premier venue for cuttingedge visual art. The ball's theme: The Pleasure Principle.

The Toronto appearance is a Canadian first for McNamara, whose febrile combinations of installation with genre-spanning dance, music with audience participation, costume play with drama, and digital with 3-D have made him the genial face of contemporary performance art. It helps, too, that the actual face is boyishly handsome, animated by a winning smile, a ready laugh and a set of blue eyes pale enough to inspire Lou Reed.

What was once the art world's most determinedly anti-commercial idiom is now deeply integrated into that world - the go-to method to simultaneously "lively up your patrons" and "activate your space." Today, that space can be an art fair, a commercial gallery, a not-for-profit, multidisciplinary museum, even a pricey boutique, such as Louis Vuitton's New York flagship where, in fall 2010, McNamara formed 30 male dancers into a "showboy production line" to perform outrageous acts on the LV Speedy Bag.

Of course, the irony of this isn't lost on McNamara, whose standard of living and international fame have risen commensurately with his own indefatigability and resourcefulness as well as performance art's gain in respectability and showmanship. As he observed during a recent series of brief interviews in-person in Toronto and on the phone from New York, performance as a form arose initially as "this anti-market thing." It was a riposte to the commodification of art, a celebration of the purity of impermanence and evanescence, a stamina-testing activity unfolding in real time, almost punk-like in its DIY anti-virtuosity.

"The theoretical underpinning was, is, 'You have to be there to experience it,' " he says. "Of course, we say that about a lot of art - that you have to travel here or there to truly see it. But performance takes it to the next level ... Not only do you have to be in a particular place, you have to be in the place at the right time."

Paradoxically, as performance has become more professional and popular, even populist, thanks in part to digital recording and archiving and the support of major art institutions, the actual right time/right place experience has become more exclusive - a situation McNamara describes as "kind of weird. I mean, I'm not an anti-market person - but I did enter this to speak to an interested audience, whether that audience could afford the airfare to Miami or a hotel there or not."

At the Power Ball, McNamara's thus-far-untitled "situation-specific intervention," featuring an estimated "cast" of 20 performers, most of them Torontonians, will evolve over two hours as the linchpin of what's called the "VIP portion of the evening." "VIP" means that as many as 300 patrons, who will have paid anywhere from $500 for a single admission to $3,000 for an eightticket package, get the opportunity to be exclusively "playful" with McNamara and company. The non-VIP portion (aka "the general party'), with its single admission of $175, occurs afterward, outside Harbourfront Theatre in the Power Plant galleries and on its south terrace abutting Lake Ontario, with artists other than McNamara taking over those spaces.

McNamara, who received his Power Plant commission in February, made two trips to Toronto, the first in mid-March, the next in early April, primarily to meet gallery personnel, walk the space and to shoot video and photographs of Harbourfront Theatre.

Inspiration, he's found, can come from the oddest things - "The placement of a fire hose could just spark something" - even a punny thought that has refused to go away. This happened in 2010 when he was invited to participate for one night in that year's prestigious Whitney Biennial. His mind raced back to when he visited the 1996 Biennial as a self-described 16-year-old artdabbler: "I thought then: 'Wouldn't it be funny if someday I was in the Whitney [Biennial] and we turned it into the Whitney Houston Biennial?' " When that moment did indeed come, McNamara was true to his original vision, transforming the Whitney into one big karaoke party featuring the Whitney's docents handing out sheets of lyrics to Houston's songs.

The challenge for McNamara at the Power Ball will be to both go with the flow and be the flow.

Observes Julia Paoli, Power Plant assistant curator and primary liaison with McNamara: "I think Ryan understands that the people who are attending, part of their desire is to be participating in and viewing a work they've never seen before. But they're also interested in having a drink, something to eat and catching up with people who perhaps they haven't seen for a while. So it's about creating an environment conducive to both experiences.

"What I'm struck by with Ryan is the way he wants to punctuate that experience with surprises that speak to his practice and gesture to his larger body of work, but that do so in a way you're not necessarily expecting, or you're put in a situation where you know that it's coming."

McNamara says he likes to attack each project afresh and prides himself on not falling back on old "hits" to solve a new work's problem. Yet even with this ethic, he acknowledges that, after almost 10 years, he's "built up enough practice that sometimes it's hard for me to think outside of it. I need to make sure it doesn't become a job where I say, 'Well, this is what I'd do so I'd never do that because it's not my brand.' I do feel like my natural instinct is getting more and more narrow as I build up more and more history ... Sometimes you should do something you're pretty sure isn't going to work."

As of this writing, McNamara and his associate director, fellow New Yorker Brandon Dion Washington, weren't expected to start actual rehearsals for the Pleasure Principle event until three days before the "official" presentation.

The notion of rehearsing may strike some as antithetical to the looseness and open-endedness that are among performance's founding myths. Indeed, McNamara's conversation is peppered with talk of "courting chance," of being "used to life intervening in my practice," of having performers who "can think on their feet rather than have the perfect pointe technique, because I can't present to them all the options of how people are going to react and interact."

However, at the same time, preparation is of paramount importance: "You need to build a really strict structure so that" - and here he let out a big laugh - "it can all fall apart. If there's no structure, there's nothing to collapse; it's already flat on the ground. It's like setting up the living room in a very precise way so then the party can happen and all hell can break loose."

Speaking in early April, McNamara claimed to "at least have the concept" hammered out for what he'd be presenting on June 2. "The logistics," though, "[were] still a little TBD" as was any title, working or otherwise.

He predicted his intervention would be "much more performer-heavy than installationheavy," although the performers likely would build "something ephemeral" over the course of the evening. And because revellers would be arriving at different times, milling about, leaving, then coming back, there probably would be "a bunch of smaller interventions rather than one big performance." Then again, he adds with a shrug, who says it would have to be either/or?

"Some of the performers will be trained dancers while others will not," says Paoli. "Some of the gestures or moments Ryan is choreographing will not require trained dancers while others will. There is a flexibility and fluidity in this process ... where Ryan will respond to the bodies that are participating and the architecture of the theatre itself."

Of course, the performance is going to be documented and memorialized, both by McNamara and by attendees who've brought their smartphones. Back in the day, this would have been anathema to many - the event was a one-time, near-sacred thing. If you weren't there, you weren't there and what you, as a non-participant, learned about it was by word-of-mouth. Sure, the creator might record it for reference or historical purposes and store its props in a closet. But to give an afterlife to a happening that wasn't supposed to happen again, to create, in effect, a secondary market where photographs, videos, preparatory sketches, artifacts and the like could be sold and bought? Quelle horreur! McNamara doesn't see it that way. Social media, he says, is a fact of life and art, with the inherent ability to create "an instantaneous secondary audience. You don't have to wait for the museum retrospective to then have the secondary audience or the book to be published. People are experiencing the piece as it's happening who aren't there.

That's interesting to me."

The Harbourfront performance, moreover, will comprise many moments, appearing and disappearing, spread over 120 minutes; no single visitor will be able to experience all of them in their entirety. "I love going onto social media afterward with the performers, seeing what there is, what others got that we might have missed or what we might have got but they did better ..." Meanwhile, McNamara is in loose discussions with the Power Plant to do another Power Plantspecific show next spring - "but without the drink and the food."

McNamara isn't expecting to be an actual performer June 2.

"Ringmaster" might be the more accurate job description. But you never know. "The last four projects I've done," he says, "I wasn't supposed to be in them but I was ... One way or the other, history, it seems, has a way of me showing up in the piece."

Ryan McNamara's "situation-specific intervention" at Power Ball XVIII: Pleasure Principle begins at 7 p.m.

June 2 at the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, 231 Queen's Quay W., Toronto. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Information: the

Associated Graphic

Ryan McNamara has mounted at least 30 site-specific performance pieces of varying degrees of complexity over the past seven years in such cities as Moscow, Dallas, Rotterdam and Istanbul.


Normand Piché, 44, plans to swim five bodies of water that symbolically link Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania and North America. But the swimming distance isn't the biggest challenge of the adventure, Sean Gordon says
Saturday, May 14, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S1

MONTREAL -- Show business builds a tolerance for rejection - people say no, a lot.

During a couple of decades toiling in the music industry, variously as an agent, producer, road manager, stagehand, ticket-seller and general dogsbody, Normand Piché acquired the appropriate baggage - work ethic, thick skin, general shamelessness in chasing people for money - required for his new life.

If all goes according to schedule, he will soon be able to call himself a professional adventurer.

Piché isn't, and has never been, a pro athlete, even if he could pass for one these days.

But the 44-year-old Montreal native is in the advanced stages of a plan to swim five bodies of water - the Strait of Gibraltar, the Bosphorus Strait, the Red Sea, a stretch of the South Pacific, the Bering Strait - that symbolically link Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania and North America.

It has been done only a handful of times, and never by a North American.

The total length of the expedition - a little less than 100 kilometres in the water - tends to underestimate the magnitude of the challenge. There are sharks, glacial currents, major shipping lanes and warring militias to contend with (to say nothing of logistical obstacles and environmental pollution).

The 25-kilometre coastal swim from Papua New Guinea to Indonesia raises a particularly unpleasant possibility: encountering a nasty variety of jellyfish that proliferates in the area. "They compare it to getting stung by a scorpion. ... Paralysis begins in the extremities and steadily moves toward the heart," he said recently. "So I'm going to have to hire an emergency room doctor to be in the boat alongside."

Managing fear is part and parcel of extreme ventures, and Piché says that, beyond the marine predators and other perils, the one thing that keeps him awake at night is the prospect of five-degree waters in the Bering Strait. "I hate the cold. I mean, really, really hate it," he said, later adding: "But you have to find a way to do it. There are lots of examples for me to follow."

Several are just a phone call away.

Quebec is currently witnessing a boomlet of sorts in the adventuring life.

There have been at least three or four high-profile cross-Canada canoeing odysseys in the past five years, including a group that paddled from Montreal to Inuvik, retracing the coureurs des bois routes.

Three years ago, Mylène Paquette of Montreal overcame her mortal fear of water and became the first North American woman to row across the North Atlantic by herself (the crossing was not without incident; it took five years to plan and four months to execute).

In 2015, Frédéric Dion of Trois-Rivières became the first solo trekker to reach the centre of Antarctica - he did this by kite skiing.

There are others. "It certainly feels like a bit of a movement. Or maybe Quebeckers just like to travel to strange places," Dion laughed.

So why the sudden interest?

Dion theorizes that some of it may be linked to the broader emergence of extreme sports in recent decades.

Psychological research also has a fair amount to say about thrill-seeking behaviour. There may be a biochemical component as well: Some studies have suggested that low levels of an enzyme involved in regulating neurotransmitters may be involved.

Speaking of his own case, Dion offers a simpler answer.

"I'm basically a Scout who never grew up," he said. "I don't believe I'm alone in this."

Whatever the reason, it is a burgeoning industry - and it is definitely a business, complete with a well-established public speaking circuit.

Dion's most recent contribution to it in his home province is to have co-sponsored a contest with an outdoor equipment maker to provide $10,000 for a first-time expedition.

The inaugural winner: Normand Piché.

"There were 81 proposals, and we were surprised by the quantity, yes, but mostly by the quality. There are dozens that could have won," Dion said in an interview. "Normand's did partly because it is so well organized.

He's done a better planning job than a lot of professionals."

Ah yes, the planning.

Piché estimates the physical training component takes up about 35 per cent of his time, the rest is spent hustling for sponsorships and donations, organizing logistics - how does one clear Jordanian customs from the water, anyway? - and, of course, getting the word out via social media.

There is already a sponsorship in place from a large swimsuit maker, a crowdfunding effort is under way to raise $30,000, and Piché has secured volunteer help from a high-performance swimming coach, various athletic therapists, a public-relations specialist and a project-management expert.

"To get a yes, maybe there have been 99 no's," he said.

"The music industry was great training."

Speaking of training, Piché is stepping up his swimming regimen to 55 kilometres a week. It doesn't give him a lot of time to spend with his teenaged daughter, but mostly the challenge is overcoming the dullness of it all. "When you're doing eight or nine kilometres, it's a lot of flip turns and that blue line at the bottom starts to get pretty boring. I think I know every centimetre of that pool," he said.

He has been swimming six days a week, usually for three or four hours, at the Olympic Stadium aquatic centre; he occasionally finds himself in the pool at the same time as multiple Paralympic medalist Benoît Huot ("I wish I could swim as well as he does," Piché said).

When weather permits, he hits the open water - the St. Lawrence River and various other lakes standing in for the swiftmoving currents and chilly conditions he will face in the summer.

Piché is a direct type. The question he likes to ask people is this: What's your dream?

He discovered his somewhat by accident in Sochi, Russia, standing in the crowd at a medal ceremony on the third day of the Winter Olympics (several Canadians accepted medals that evening).

"The first time I saw an athlete step on to the podium, the magic in their eyes, the energy of the crowd ... I was completely flabbergasted by the moment.

It's when it registered what it means to reach your full potential, what it's like in the instant where you live your greatest dream," he said. "What it creates in other people, too. There's laughter, there are tears, there's pride ... this is something I wanted to feel in my life."

Piché had gone to Sochi to research a book on athletes making their dreams a reality - his partner at the time was Eric Radford, the silver-medal-winning figure skater - and simply got caught up in the theme.

He has been an avid recreational swimmer since the age of 7 - he also competed in junior meets until his teen years - so it figured the answer would feature plenty of water. "It's been a constant throughout my life," he said.

A few days later, in a meditative frame of mind, he sat on the patio of the house where he was staying in Sochi and jotted down a few thoughts about how he could go about it. His mind turned to swimming. "That's when it hit me: Why not? I'm too old for the Olympics and not good enough anyway, but why don't I define my own Olympics?" he said.

Not long after returning from Russia, he began researching unusual athletic achievements by otherwise ordinary people and came across the inspirational tale of Philippe Croizon, a quadruple-amputee from France who swam across the English Channel in 2010 and did the intercontinental divide challenge two years later.

After reaching out to Croizon's agent to arrange a meeting, Piché read the former's memoir and rush-ordered a DVD of the expedition ("at enormous expense," he chuckled).

"It sat there on my kitchen counter, I could feel that when I picked it up and watched it that would be it for me," he said. "It stayed there for a week or 10 days, when I finally put it in my computer I only watched about 10 minutes of it, then I hit pause - that was it, let's go."

Thinking back on the past two years, Piché said the biggest initial hurdle was to define exactly what it is he wanted to do. "I have ambitions, there are things I want, there are trips I'd like to go on, but what's my dream?

What am I really all about?" he said.

It's a reflection he encourages everyone he meets to undertake.

He recalled a conversation on his last day in Sochi with figure skater Patrick Chan - he interviewed him for his book - where the Olympic silver medalist talked to him about selfishness.

It is, Piché said, an essential condition to wish fulfilment.

"That's not necessarily a bad thing. ... Fundamentally, you have to want to do something for yourself first, that's where dedication and motivation starts in sports," he said.

From there, he continued, values begin to dictate the process.

"Linking Spain to Africa, well that's a symbolic union. And that's the message I'm hoping to spread, solidarity and togetherness. ... It's something that sounds corny and I had difficulty listening to myself say these things at first. But that's it," he said. "At some point, you just decide to own it, no matter how ridiculous it may sound to people."

The cynical view is that it does indeed sound preposterous.

There is undoubtedly something New Age-y about what Piché is setting out to do - he has sometimes referred to himself online as an "explorer of human potential" - and he has his critics. After a recent television appearance, he got a note from someone via social media that said, essentially, big deal, what's the point?

"When I got that, I was like, 'Yes!' " he said. "People have differing opinions. ... I'm very sincere about this, but I don't expect to please everyone. I wrote back to him, and I think he at least understands what I'm trying to accomplish."

Another critique is that adventuring has become about capitalism.

On this front, Piché pleads guilty but offers mitigating circumstances. "We've done a market study on revenue potential for three years, there's a business model, if we're able to secure major sponsors - great. If not, there will be other ways to finance it," he said.

That said, the planning to this point has come at considerable personal financial cost.

When he announced to his family that he would be dropping everything in January of 2015 - by then he had already started training, "I basically kept the project secret for a year" - he cashed in all his savings, paid off his credit cards and began assembling the team he figured he would need to pull it off.

When the money ran out, the first sponsorships arrived. "One of the greatest challenges in this type of enterprise is to convince yourself to really believe it's possible," he said. "It definitely helps when you can find help just when things look like they're going to fall apart."

While he eventually hopes to make his living from expeditions, Piché said he isn't particularly enthused by the prospect of pumping up corporate audiences at dinner speeches; he has pledged to give 80 free conferences to schools, youth centres and other charity groups.

Do-goodism will also be a main feature of the swim itself; the safety buoy he will trail behind him in the open water will be filled with short messages and letters - about hopes, dreams - that he is soliciting (along with a donation) through his website.

Once his expedition concluded, he will swim across Switzerland's Lac Léman (Lake Geneva) and bring the messages to the United Nations.

Piché plans to do his metaphorical swim around the world this summer in, naturally, 80 days. Marcos Diaz of the Dominican Republic, who is credited with being the first person to accomplish the feat, did it in four rather than five legs, as did Croizon; Moroccan swimmer Hassan Baraka used essentially the same route Piché is planning, which includes the Bosphorus, but spread it over two summers.

"I may not set any records, it may not go exactly as I hoped," he said. "But I am going to do it."

And when he's done, Piché already knows what comes next.

A second project is already in the works. Yes, it's a secret.

Associated Graphic

Normand Piché, who trains in a Montreal pool, will have to deal with freezing water, jellyfish, busy shipping lanes and political turmoil when he goes on his five-continent strait swim.


To prepare for his international adventure, Normand Piché has been swimming six days a week, usually for three or four hours, under the guidance of his trainer, Anastasia Polito, right, at the Olympic Stadium aquatic centre in Montreal.


How South Korea added nine ringers for the 2018 Olympics
Tuesday, May 17, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S1

Matt Dalton would have preferred to take a slap shot high and hard off his mask.

But this was what he had signed up for, almost a year and a half earlier. The money was good, and the conditions far nicer than in the two years he spent playing for Nizhnekamsk of the Kontinental Hockey League, in the heart of Russian industrial gloom.

So the goalie, who grew up in little Clinton, Ont., began to sing Aegukga, carefully enunciating the foreign words he had memorized with the help of teammates in front of a panel of steely-eyed officials.

If he wanted to stop pucks at the Winter Olympics, this was the only way. He had to become South Korean. And to do that, he had to sing.

"Daehan saram, daehan euro giri bojeonhase," Dalton intoned.

"Stay true to the great Korean way," he was proclaiming - roughly - to his new countrymen.

Six years ago, Dalton was the backup to the backup goalie for the Boston Bruins. Never drafted, he had turned pro at the age of 22 after a big season in college and got a taste of the NHL by sitting on the bench for a few games. He ended up bouncing around leagues, teams and countries the way many players on the cusp of the big leagues do.

But in 2014, he got an offer from Anyang Halla, a team based in a Seoul suburb, in a country and a league he knew nothing about, and everything changed.

Then, it was four years out from the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, and the Korean Olympic Committee badly wanted to have men's and women's teams in one of the marquee Winter Games sports.

The International Ice Hockey Federation, however, was worried they would be embarrassed - a fair concern given that the teams were then ranked 22nd and 23rd in the world, respectively.

The IIHF didn't want to guarantee anything, even though every Winter Olympics host country in history has at least had a men's hockey team in the tournament.

"Get better," was the message from Rene Fasel, the head of the IIHF. "Get better and we might let you in."

"There's been some pressure there from the get-go," said Jim Paek, the Korean coach and former NHL defenceman.

So the hosts began a search for ringers, and as a result, South Korea's team at the Division 1 Group A world championship last month in Katowice, Poland, was filled with North Americans. Dalton started every game in goal and posted a sparkling .930 save percentage.

Michael Swift - who grew up in Peterborough, Ont. - led the team in scoring with five goals in five games. Towering 6-foot-5 forwards Brock Radunske and Mike Testwuide (the lone American) and defencemen Bryan Young and Eric Regan rounded out the import crew, and none had a hint of Korean ancestry.

Two of the team's new stars, Radunske and Young, were drafted in the NHL by Edmonton; Young played 17 games for the Oilers almost a decade ago. Two others had captained their junior teams in the Ontario Hockey League.

They were all castoffs of various ability, and none would be considered for the Canadian or American Olympic teams.

But once the imports took on new passports, the Korean team began to win at the Division 1 world tournament. They fought Austria to overtime in a narrow 3-2 loss. They beat Poland 4-1, then scored the country's firstever win over Japan - in their 22nd meeting - a 3-0 shutout.

Their showing in the tournament was so impressive that, had they beaten Italy in their final game - a 2-1 loss - they would have advanced to the top tier next year to play as one of the top 16 hockey countries in the world.

This for a country with 133 adult men registered as hockey players.

"We definitely showed everybody we can play," Dalton said.

"I was very pleased when I saw the result in Poland," said Fasel, who is leading the IIHF's push to grow the game in Asia; the federation has now granted Olympic berths for the two South Korean teams. "That gives them momentum, enthusiasm and emotion to go and fight [to get better]. I'm really happy we made the decision to give them a chance."

Passport-swapping in order to star for another country at an Olympics isn't new. There have been controversial stories, such as those of middle-distance runner Zola Budd, basketball star Becky Hammon and Viktor Ahn, the South Korean short-track speed skater who changed his name and citizenship and won three gold medals for Russia at the Sochi Games.

Often the switch is for opportunity, with athletes able to more easily qualify in another country.

Sometimes there's financial gain involved, as with Qatar buying eight Bulgarian weightlifters for millions of dollars prior to the Sydney Games in 2000. In Ahn's case, he had tired of the impediments to skating for his home country and became something of an international free agent, offering to win medals to the highest bidder.

Canada is no stranger to outside help. According to the Pew Research Centre, it had the most foreign-born athletes of any country at the 2014 Olympics with nine.

And the Canadian government has no qualms with citizens who want to take on an additional passport, even to play hockey.

"Under Canadian law, a Canadian can also be a citizen of another country," said Jessica Séguin, a spokesperson with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

"There are many reasons why an individual may want a second citizenship."

South Korea's push with its fledgling hockey team, however, is unheard of for a country that has always been ultraprotective of its passports. When Radunske - a New Hamburg, Ont., native nicknamed "Canadian Big Beauty" - became the hockey team's first import three years ago, he was the first professional athlete in any sport without Korean lineage to be given citizenship.

The Korean Olympic Committee has since run through the arduous naturalization process with five more North Americans, which speaks to how important the 2018 Games - and their hockey team - are to the country.

South Koreans have a reputation in international sport for being fiercely competitive, and their fear was that the hockey teams could become the laughingstocks of the tournament. (The men are in a tough group with Canada, the Czech Republic and Switzerland.)

That's why a seventh import, defenceman Alex Plante - yet another Oilers draft pick - is expected to gain citizenship next season.

"I don't think they just love throwing out passports on any Tom, Dick and Harry, by any means," Plante said. "But it does show how invested they are in getting better."

"The fact that the Korean government is willing to engage in this practice is significant," explained Steve Jackson, a professor from the University of Otago in New Zealand who specializes in the socio-cultural analysis of sport. "It points to a new approach to leveraging sport to serve the nation." Jackson has a unique perspective. He played against South Korea in 2005, when it was ranked 33rd in the world and so far down hockey's totem pole it was relegated to face teams such as New Zealand in one of the game's lowest tiers. Korea beat the Kiwis, Jackson recalls - but not by much. "Nobody imagined they would climb as fast as they have," he said.

Jackson calls the North Americans who have joined South Korea's team "athletic mercenaries," a description that seems to fit given the benefits they receive.

Once the IIHF granted automatic Olympic berths for its hockey teams, the Korean government began pumping $20-million into their previously ignored hockey programs. That allowed the hockey federation to hire Paek and another former NHLer, Richard Park - both of South Korean descent - as elite-level coaches.

Some import players earn as much as $200,000 to play a 48game season on Korean teams in the Asia League, meaning they are better paid than many players in more established leagues in Finland, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. They also receive furnished two-bedroom apartments and company cars.

Drawing talent to the league is important. Under IIHF rules, players must play at least two years in a foreign league before they're eligible to play for that country at the Olympics. "It's part of the promotion of the sport in the country," Fasel said.

While the Asia League has never been much of a destination in the past, that is changing.

"I'd spent three years in Russia before, and this felt like paradise compared to there," Dalton said.

"They're definitely investing everything they have into it right now," added Plante, whose wife gave birth to their second child while he was playing in Anyang, just south of Seoul. "The hockey is surprisingly very good. I was absolutely shocked with how fast the whole Asia League was."

Making it better has become part of the group's mission. For Paek and Park, the only two NHL players born in South Korea, there is a personal side to growing the game in the country they knew mostly through their parents.

Their hope is that their seven import players will increase the level of play and help kick-start the development of hockey there.

"Before my father passed away, his dream was for me to go back to the homeland and represent them, as a coach or a player," said Paek, who has been living away from his wife and children back in the United States while he works 16-hour days in Seoul in preparation for the Olympics.

"That's come true. My mother's very proud. All her girlfriends send her news clippings from the Korean papers. Hopefully she can remember these things. She's getting old. But every time I talk to her, she's very proud that I'm representing Korea."

"Really, he's the perfect guy for the job," Dalton said of Paek.

"We're pretty lucky."

Dalton, meanwhile, is proud of his new passport. It was difficult to get, and teammates still rib him in the dressing room by replaying videos of his crude Korean language skills - his citizenship test made the news.

When players from other teams have made snide comments about his lack of Korean heritage, he gets a little upset. "There's a lot of other countries that do the exact same thing," Dalton said.

"It's just we kind of stand out."

Paek endured similar catcalls when he was often the lone Asian player playing minor hockey in Toronto. He chuckles thinking about his Canadian players now getting taunts for not being Asian enough.

Hockey has come a long way, he said.

"They worked extremely hard to become Korean-passport players," Paek said of his imports.

"They feel like they belong, and they're a part of something. ... They want to be here. They want to be a part of this program. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them. They've taken hold of that."

"I'm not going to sit here and say we're going to win this game or do this or that," Dalton said of playing at the Olympics. "But if the result is the game is growing in Korea and more kids want to play, I think we've done our job.

You can't really ask for much more. It'd be nice to leave hockey in Korea better than when we came."


Forwards Brock Radunske (New Hamburg, Ont.), Michael Swift (Peterborough, Ont.), Mike Testwuide (Vail, Colo.)

Defencemen Eric Regan (Whitby, Ont.), Bryan Young (Ennismore, Ont.), Alex Plante (Brandon, Man.)

Goalie Matt Dalton (Clinton, Ont.)

Head coach Jim Paek (Toronto)

Assistant coach Richard Park (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.)

Associated Graphic

South Korea's Brock Radunske, right, a New Hamburg, Ont., native nicknamed 'Canadian Big Beauty,' vies for the puck against Grzegorz Pasiut of Poland during the Four Nations Tournament in November, 2014.


Mulroney to the House of Lords: 'Never forget the towering achievements of a united Europe'
Saturday, May 21, 2016 – Print Edition, Page F3

Former prime minister Brian Mulroney addressed the Canada-United Kingdom Chamber of Commerce's 94th annual meeting in the British House of Lords yesterday. While acknowledging that next month's referendum on whether to remain in the European Union is a decision for the British electorate alone, he emphasized that the consequences go beyond the United Kingdom, and cited historical, security and economic issues to anchor his view that Britain should remain.

Recently, President [Barack] Obama came to London and said how important he thought it was for the UK to remain securely within the leadership of Europe. For his interest, he was told by prominent members of the Leave Committee to mind his own business.

One year ago, I had the distinct privilege of paying tribute to Sir Winston Churchill at Blenheim Palace on the 50th anniversary of his death. I cited the intimate links between Churchill and Canada - what he affectionately called "The Great Dominion" - as well as our major role against the Nazi scourge in the Second World War.

Britain did not stand alone. On Sept. 10, 1939, one week following Britain - and two years before America - Canada declared war on Germany. That was my country's first, independent declaration of war and the beginning of the largest combined, national effort in our history.

Our contribution and our sacrifice was substantial. From a population of 11 million, over one million Canadians - mostly volunteers - served in uniform. Canada fielded the fourth largest air force and the fifth largest naval fleet in the world. We suffered some 100,000 casualties, half of whom were killed in action.

The compellingly unforgettable radio voice of Winston Churchill - tinged with courage and sacrifice and heroism - rang out across the 5,000 windswept miles of a young but pulsating Canada, and became a clarion call to all to join the battle, and they did so in record numbers.

These were the farm boys from the wheat fields of Saskatchewan, coal miners from the pits in Alberta and Nova Scotia, factory and paper-mill workers from Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec; doctors, teachers, lawyers, nurses and tradesmen from all parts of Canada - men and women, most of whom had seldom ventured beyond their local community, let alone across a vast ocean. They went off to war, having heard from Churchill the noblest call of all - freedom.

Canada's 'calling card to comment'

Canadian service men and women matured quickly under fire. Their valour and their sacrifices paid dividends in the Battle of Britain, the Atlantic convoys, the invasion of Italy, the D-Day landings in Normandy and in the liberation of France, Belgium and Holland.

Canada's economic generosity throughout the war and well into the peace was unprecedented. With a population only one-twelfth that of the U.S., Canada's financial gifts were one-quarter of the total Lend Lease aid from the U.S. That means they were more than three times greater on a per capita basis. The proportion of defence expenditures given away in terms of free supplies was higher from Canada than from any other country in the world.

Canada was proud to contribute to this, the noblest cause of all. This is Canada's calling card today, one that - I hope you will agree - allows us to comment on a major referendum that will shape the future of our beloved mother country and that of our friends and allies in Europe.

My experience negotiating NAFTA [the North American Free Trade Agreement] - presently the largest and most prosperous free-trade area in the world - and its predecessor, the Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. - which [then treasury secretary] James Baker III described in his memoir as one of the two most important economic achievements of the Reagan Administration - adds further credibility to our calling card. As Baker acknowledged, the FTA was a "near-run thing." You can never take trade negotiations for granted.

The results, however, exceeded even the estimates of the most ardent advocates.

Since implementation of the FTA in 1989, Canada-U.S. trade has more than tripled to $750-billion a year, constituting the largest trade between any two nations in the history of the world. In the same period, our GDP [gross domestic product] has more than doubled to $1.8-trillion and the Canadian economy has created 4.6 million new jobs. Many see the trade agreements as the major catalyst for that growth. But the best compliment of all is the fact that most who had been opposed ultimately became champions of the agreement.

Canada's experience with referenda - the ultimate option in any democracy - is similarly vivid and relevant.

In 1995, Canada came within 50,000 votes - four-tenths of 1 per cent - of fracturing as a country over a referendum on which the question was convoluted but the intent was unambiguous. The exercise was nerve-wracking, suggesting to many outsiders that, at times, Canada can be a "solution looking for a problem"! Common sense prevailed, and we remain solidly united today as we contemplate celebrating our 150th anniversary one year from now. We have persistently and successfully struck the right balance between the federal and provincial levels of government . Never perfect, to be sure, but eminently workable and reinvigorated.

The question for Britain is clear enough but the consequences are much less certain. The mood is restless and influenced by many recent events. The positions on both sides of your debate reveal tensions between emotion and reason - but ultimately the choice is binary. No room for nuance, and therein lies the real dilemma.

The political consensus and the will needed to reinforce the dream of a united Europe is being buffeted along emotional and nationalistic lines.

But one should never forget the towering achievements of a united Europe over the last 50 years, compared with the tragedy, horror and turbulence of the previous half-century. The European Union has become a monument to peace, civility and achievement, unique in the thousand-year history of Europe.

Let us not forget either that this massive accomplishment was made possible in large measure by strong, thoughtful and effective British leadership at a crucial time in the evolution of the EU.

In simple English, this is what the referendum is all about: ongoing privileged membership in a powerful, influential and prosperous bloc or the uncertainty that comes from an EU that could eventually collapse or be significantly weakened by the profound impact of a UK departure.

The massive influx of refugees from the Middle East and elsewhere is disrupting the openness of Europe's internal borders and injecting fiscal burdens to the already beleaguered economies of many member states. That and the threat of more terrorist attacks is putting a heavy strain on the social fabric of Europe.

And when governments and their institutions are met by unforeseen pressures, radical or extremist political prescriptions capture attention.

Much of what we are witnessing these days in the U.S. presidential campaign reflects similar emotions of fear and anger, stimulated in large part by the sense that government is dysfunctional or detached from public concerns. Or that the global system of trade and investment is tilted against American interests.

As I know from my own experience, those passions are easily aroused. I often think of [British historian and statesman] Lord MacAulay's observation long ago: "Free trade, one of the greatest blessings a government can confer on its people is, in almost every country, unpopular."

Despite its noble intent, the regulatory framework established in Brussels may have a logical premise but can seem inflexible and arbitrary in the face of local traditions or custom. I can, for instance, readily understand the frustration of a small family business in rural England that has been making bread boards from trees on its land for more than 300 years only to be notified suddenly that their product is unsanitary.

Decisions like that taken in Brussels can put serious stress on the most basic tenet of democracy - accountability - and undermine the credibility of elected representatives.

When governments seem too distant or disassociated from the daily concerns and needs of the people they serve, they inevitably lose public favour. Justice Secretary Michael Gove echoed this concern, saying: "The laws we must all obey and the taxes we pay should be decided by the people we choose and who we can throw out if we want change."

He added that "the growing EU bureaucracy holds us back in every way." Those who favour leaving are confident that Britain would have a better future operating more on its own, but I doubt anyone can make that categorical judgment in advance. There are too many unknowns.

When it comes to trade and investment, you know what you have today in terms of market access as a member of the EU, but you do not really know what terms you would be able to negotiate, should you leave, nor do you know how long it would take. Your Chancellor of the Exchequer has declared that it would be "complete fantasy" to suggest a special deal with the EU that would give Britain full access to the EU single market with none of the associated costs and responsibilities.

President Obama expressed similar caution about the prospects of any side deal with the U.S.

A "Leave" vote would obviously open the door to a protracted negotiation and a prolonged period of adjustment, triggering a degree of uncertainty that could make investors nervous.

While trying to remain neutral on the question, Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, acknowledged to Parliament that the referendum is "the biggest domestic risk to financial stability because, in part, of ... uncertainty." He added more pointedly that it would "without question" hit UK jobs and growth. Carney suggested that some financial firms were making contingency plans to relocate, should Britain opt to leave the EU, adding that the Bank of England also has its own contingency plans to avoid a Brexit financial crisis. Most recently, Carney cautioned that the risks of leaving "could possibly include a technical recession."

The OECD has offered a similarly, somber analysis.

'Keep Britain at the high table'

I am mindful of the frustration and pessimism fuelling the Leave contingent in the debate but, for me personally, the counter arguments are more compelling. Clearly, a vote to remain in the EU would keep Britain at the high table in Brussels and in a position to influence, if not drive reform at a crucial time.

In that sense, I noted the wise advice given your Parliament a few months ago by Sir Nicholas Soames. Reaching back into history, he reminded his colleagues of his grandfather Winston Churchill's admonition at the time Britain was debating the first stage of European integration - the Schuman Plan.

"We fought alone against tyranny for a whole year, not purely from national motives," said Churchill. "It is true that our lives depended on our doing so, but we fought the better because we felt with conviction that it was not only our own cause, but a world cause for which the Union Jack kept flying in 1940 and 1941."

I have little doubt what Churchill's advice would be today.

It is, of course, a vote for the British electorate alone, but the stakes are high, and not just for Britain.

Particularly in a year in which Britain and Canada together celebrate the 90th birthday of Her Majesty and her spectacular reign as our shared Head of State, I am confident that the customary resilience and pragmatism and courage of British voters will rise to the challenge and continue this splendid nation on a course toward greater leadership, achievement and prosperity for all.

Associated Graphic

The man who gave Canada free trade says a 'leave' vote would deprive Britons of 'ongoing, privileged membership in a powerful, influential and prosperous bloc.'


Prison drama
In an excerpt from his new book, Moguls, Monsters and Madmen, Barry Avrich visits Garth Drabinsky in jail
Saturday, May 14, 2016 – Print Edition, Page R9

Of course I was going to make a film about Garth Drabinsky. How could I not? We had worked together for nearly 15 years. I had been with him through his biggest successes and his biggest failures. We had been close colleagues. I admired him for what he had achieved and was saddened by his perverse ambition and reckless implosion. I had warned him when we first met that some day I'd make this film and he was about as unenthusiastic as you would expect. He was unlikely to have warmed to the idea since his incarceration.

In March, 2012, after Garth heard my documentary was actually in production, I received a note from his assistant, Adelaide Mitchell, stating, "Garth would like to see you.

He'll put you on the list."

The list? This was an invitation to visit Garth in prison, but it was presented to me as if it were a privilege, like tickets to a Broadway opening. Of course, I accepted. I drove up to Beaver Creek Institution in Muskoka and, being a neurotic Jew, I arrived half an hour early for my 1:30 appointment. Because I was conscious that my car was somewhat fancy for a prison parking lot, I parked it about 92 blocks away from the gate, and then walked the rest of the way.

I told the guard, "I'm here to see Garth Drabinsky."

"Who?" "Garth Drabinsky."

She corrected me. "Inmate Drabinsky. What time is your appointment?" "One thirty."

She became testy. "Then you can't be here until 1:30. Don't you realize you're on the property of a correctional institution?" I hung out in nearby Gravenhurst, then returned at the appointed time.

The guards checked inside my car. They had dogs sniff me.

They sent me through metal detectors.

"Okay, go in."

The institution was surrounded by forest. It was dated but quite beautiful. As a mediumand minimum-security facility, it had neither fences nor bars. The inmates bunked together in little cabins with kitchens where they could prepare their own meals. It was almost like a '70s commune, offering various activities; it was not so bad, perhaps, but it was a prison. Points of demarcation told the inmates where they couldn't go. Cross the line and it was back behind bars.

Once inside the main building, I was placed in a communal visiting room, like a Legion hall with faded signs, well-worn picnic tables and six antique vending machines. And there I waited. Family members visiting other inmates greeted one another in a scene that was scary and weird, like The Shining meets Shawshank Redemption.

Before he was at Beaver Creek, Garth had been sent to the maximum-security penitentiary in Kingston, where prisoners were assessed after they were sentenced. I had heard rumours to the effect that Garth had been treated roughly there. Normally, the assessment took 30 days; Garth had been held for 112. I had been told stories - second-hand - about his not having a proper bed, and about his being humiliated and tormented. The guards would announce, "Drabinsky," in a way that suggested he was about to be transferred when that wasn't the case. They knew who he was and they made his stay painful.

In walked Garth.

I hadn't seen him since 2012, when I was in the courtroom for his sentencing. It was a shock to see him a year later.

He was wearing a Lionsgate sweatshirt, Ugg winter boots and jeans that hung loose because he'd lost at least thirtyfive pounds. His hair was very long and grey. He told me he'd refused to let the prison barbers cut it. He was hoping to have his own guy in to style it, if only the authorities would allow it, whenever that might be.

We hugged, then sat down.

Garth said, "Can you get me something from the vending machines?" I had been allowed to bring in only $3 in coins, which I had in a zip-lock bag. I bought popcorn (with fake butter), and a couple of chocolate bars, just as I would on each of my three visits. The irony of the man who reinvented the movie-going experience with "real butter," now shovelling microwave popcorn into his mouth was not lost on me.

Even now, Garth was curious about show-business gossip and Broadway casts. He even asked for suggestions about what his post-prison comeback might look like: If I were to offer to buy the Mirvish empire, how much do you think that would cost? Eventually, he got down to the reason why I made his shortlist. "I understand you're making a movie about my life?" "I am."

"I know I can't stop you, but the story isn't over yet. I wish you'd wait."

"Garth, it's better for me to make the film than someone else. I'm proud of the work we did together. It's going to be a very honest film in which I'll give you a fair shake."

Garth baited his hook. "I wish I could somehow be involved in this film, I know you'd like to interview me, but they don't want me to have a high profile in here."

He was fishing for me to make him an offer, which I wasn't about to do. After we chatted back and forth, he came out with it: "I'd like to be your partner."

Translation: You, Barry, should raise the money and do all the work so I can control the film through final cut.

"That isn't going to happen, Garth."

It was a pleasant, emotional meeting. I felt torn. Part of me was witnessing the downfall of a valued mentor. Part of me was in research mode, trying to get inside Garth's headspace for my film: Did he have any remorse or would he express any culpability for what he had done?

None that I could see. It was classic Garth. His defence mechanisms were in full operation - poor me, trapped in this bad situation that isn't my fault. Though it was hard to feel sympathy for him, I had to ask myself: was prison the best way to punish this man?

I was fascinated to see Myron Gottlieb - Garth's court-acknowledged partner in crime - with his family several tables over from us. The two prisoners had stopped talking to each other, which was Myron's decision. This informal prohibition was later made mandatory by a condition of their parole that forbade them from seeing each other. Unlike Garth, Myron had always been the quiet partner, content to play a backstage role.

As a result, he was always kind to me and to this day I still have affection for him and his lovely wife, Bonnie.

Back in my car, on the long drive back to Toronto, I had much to brood about. No way did that involve dropping the film. Garth's story was compelling and I intended to tell it.

I didn't have to goad people into being interviewed about Garth, as I did with the other moguls I made films about. Far from it. Many of Garth's associates and acquaintances e-mailed me, volunteering to sit for the camera. Not that Garth co-operated. When he told Eddie Greenspan, the attorney who had defended him, that he was going to prevent anyone from speaking to me the same way he had stopped journalists from writing stories in the past, Eddie repeated to Garth what I'd already said: "Barry is the only guy who will be fair with you."

When I made my second visit to Beaver Creek, two months later, Garth had had his hair cut. Apparently, his prison roommate had styling skills.

Garth told me his roommate was in for accidentally killing his wife. Three accidents, according to Garth - the guy's wife had been shot three times.

Garth's tone was more aggressive on this occasion. Now our conversation was all about the film, without any insider's gossip as foreplay. "Barry, to whom have you spoken?" he asked.

Since the interviews were in the can, I told him: Chita Rivera and Diahann Carroll, Tony- and Emmy-winner Elaine Stritch, and so on. "Some talked kindly about you, and a couple, like Christopher Plummer, wouldn't be interviewed out of loyalty."

Garth actually enjoyed hearing what had been said about him.

I had the impression that he was proud to learn that Sid Sheinberg, who was Lew Wasserman's right-hand man at MCA Universal, had agreed to be interviewed. Garth's response surprised me, because Wasserman had eviscerated Garth in their Cineplex Odeon deal, and Sheinberg's comment was hardly flattering: "Lew and I woke up to realize we were in bed with a madman."

The warden walked by as we were talking and Garth broke off our conversation to call out, "Hi, Warden! Can I speak to you?" The warden stopped. "Inmate Drabinsky, hello."

Garth turned anxious and supplicating. "Warden, I don't know if you received my request. I'd like to go home for Passover.

It's a Jewish holiday."

"Yeah, I got your request."

Garth started to beg. "Let me explain the significance of this holiday in the Jewish tradition."

The warden cut him off.

"Look, I'm a religious man. I know what Passover is. I've told you, Inmate Drabinsky. The Department of Corrections has asked that you receive no personal preference. I'll review your request and I'll get back to you."

It was clear the warden didn't give a shit about Garth and I found out later that Garth didn't receive his Passover leave. I felt badly to see him humiliated in that cringe-inducing way.

At length, Garth revealed why I had made his visitor's list for the second time, even though he knew the documentary was pretty much a done deal. "Barry, you have to promise that you won't release the film until I get out on parole. The attention it attracts might affect my parole situation."

"Garth, TIFF is in September.

Your parole won't happen until later in the fall at best. If TIFF selects the film, I'm going to let them have it. If not, I'll make you that promise."

Even saying that much worried me. I knew Garth would use his strong relationship with TIFF to lobby, even from prison, to prevent the film's selection. I decided to do my own lobbying.

When I submitted my rough cut to TIFF, I told them, "You may get a call from Garth Drabinsky wanting you to reject this. I'm asking you to judge the film on its merits."

For the pre-festival screening, TIFF called in more people than usual - programmers and board members - to make the right decision: Was the film salacious? Was it unfair? Was it going to be a problem for TIFF?

Show Stopper was accepted. I was elated. Garth ... well, Garth was upset.

Barry Avrich is producer/director of many acclaimed documentaries and films and is a veteran advertising executive. Avrich is currently filming Blurred Lines, a documentary on the contemporary art world, and begins shooting a new film on the Bronfman empire in the fall.

Excerpted from Moguls, Monsters and Madmen: An Uncensored Life in Show Business © Barry Avrich, 2016. Published by ECW Press,

Associated Graphic

Garth Drabinsky

Reviving the Matador
Plans to resurrect the west end's worst-kept secret are kicking up a fuss
Saturday, May 14, 2016 – Print Edition, Page M1

Many people who came of age in Toronto in recent decades have memories - maybe hazy memories - of the Matador. Until it closed about 10 years ago, this west-end dive was the city's worst-kept secret afterhours booze can. It got going as the other bars closed, and you could slip cash to a woman at a table in the corner in exchange for a mickey.

As for legally served intoxicants, the Matador's primary offering in its glory days was country music, with surprisingly big names gracing its old cowboy-boot-lined stage or sitting in on legendary early-morning jam sessions, among them Johnny Cash and Conway Twitty. In years past, it was stompin' grounds for the late Stompin' Tom Connors and countless other musicians, who came to unwind after their gigs on Toronto's once-thriving Queen Street West country music strip.

For almost a decade, it went dark. Many who live nearby were relieved: The Matador sits awkwardly on residential Dovercourt Road, just north of College Street, literally right up against the sturdy brick homes of the gentrifying neighbourhood around it, an anomaly left over from the days before modern zoning rules. Locals can tell stories about all kinds of earlymorning drunken bad behaviour, sometimes happening right outside their bedroom windows.

That's why plans to revive the Matador, this time as a legal, licensed and much larger venue with a capacity of up to 800 people, have kicked up such a fuss.

It's a battle that has seen the club's new owner run into a series of seemingly Kafkaesque obstacles in his bid to win the grandfathered zoning status from the city that would allow him to open, despite the existence of an internal city memo from last March that appears to support his case.

It's also a battle that pits neighbour against neighbour.

Some actually support the Matador's return, and say Toronto needs more venues like it to live up to its pledge to become a "Music City" that nurtures local talent. Some even see it as a fight over Toronto's soul, as new wealthier families increasingly move into central neighbourhoods: Will the place be a noisy, vibrant, big city, or a quiet, orderly, suburban one? Those fighting the Matador hate being portrayed as the fun police: They say they relish big-city life, but that nobody wants a new mega-nightclub right next door.

Six years ago, Annex tai chi master Paul McCaughey bought the crumbling Matador from the club's long-time proprietress, Ann Dunn. A single mother, she took over the building in 1964 and raised five children in an apartment upstairs. She died at 81, just months after the deal closed. The place had been closed since around 2007, when it narrowly avoided a city move to expropriate it and turn it into a parking lot. Mr. McCaughey paid $1.535-million.

Since then, he has stripped off the Matador's old barnboard walls, trashed the "Cowgirls" and "Cowboys" signs labelling the stairs to the washrooms and uncovered remnants of the place's origins as a First World War-era ballroom.

With his brother Gerald, the recently retired Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce boss, as his partner, he says he has spent $2-million fixing the place up and fighting battle after battle, facing off with city building department officials and local city councillors and residents who oppose his plans.

And there is no end in sight.

"There were some traumatized neighbours," he said of the record of the old Matador. "... I understand that. It's our job to work with people and try to heal that by being what we're going to be, which is not that."

Mr. McCaughey says he has faced six years of hassles at the hands of the building department. Twice over the years, he says, he was told by city officials if he reduced the footprint of the part of the building to be used as a dance hall, he would win zoning approval. So he did - only to be rejected. He also maintains that the building permits he obtained in 2012 to make initial alterations to parts of his building gave the green light to his zoning as a nightclub, something city officials say is incorrect.

He points to internal e-mails, obtained through a Freedom of Information request, that say his nightclub licence application would "hot-listed" for extra scrutiny by city staff. A report from city inspectors erroneously suggests that he might actually be operating a "booze can," even though the venue has been closed and under construction for years. Other e-mails suggest that staff were concerned he might get a restaurant licence and then operate an illegal nightclub, a common scenario in Toronto but a strategy Mr. McCaughey says he has no plans to pursue.

He hired a lobbyist and was able to fend off a push by local city councillor Ana Bailao to have the Matador designated as a heritage building, which would have frozen his renovation plans.

"It does not feel like it's a level playing field," Mr. McCaughey said. "I just don't see where the fair shake is, in the bureaucracy or in the political process, for us.

And that bothers me."

He scored one major victory last year. After what was called the most contested liquorlicence hearing in the province in recent memory, he won the right to serve alcohol. He agreed to a reduced capacity of 650, although he says he will reapply for 800 once he proves himself to be a responsible operator.

Other licence conditions, such as midnight drink-sales cutoffs Sunday through Wednesday, were also imposed on him. And he pledged to hire extra security and engaged a crowd-flow consultant to devise plans to minimize lineups and noise.

Part of his problem is that many in the neighbourhood, including Ms. Bailao, say his plans for a large nightclub took them by surprise. Back when he first bought the place, a sign that read "Wellspace, Coming Soon" was posted on the hoarding out front, and his announced plans included turning the Matador into a place for tai chi, with a restaurant and a performance space for music or private events. It wasn't until January, 2015, at a public meeting, that his plans for a liquor licence with an 800-patron capacity were clearly spelled out.

"It just puts seeds of doubt into people in the community as to what this place is going to be and how it is going to be run," said Jeffrey Barrett, who lives nearby and is president of the recently formed Dovercourt and College Area Residents Association, which mounted a campaign against the liquor-licence application and warned in an e-mail sent to parents at a local school that it could mean finding needles and condoms in the playground.

Mr. McCaughey acknowledges that his plans evolved over time, as he learned more about the musical heritage of the Matador.

He also acknowledges that when he told Ms. Bailao about his original vision for the site in 2010, he stressed the "wellness" initiatives and was not "explicit" about the notion of also using it primarily as a nightclub or music venue.

But in the years since, he says, she must have known about his clashes with officials over his zoning for a "dance hall and performance space," as she helped to set up meetings for him with building department staff.

Ms. Bailao says the plans for a nightclub and a liquor licence for 800 people were never mentioned to her until the weeks before the January, 2015, public meeting: "This is a place that had the history that it had and ... it had been closed down for years, and somebody wants to put apartments in there, a tai chi wellness centre, artists-inresidence, a restaurant at the front? That sounds great. ... How would I ever think that you would have an artist-in-residence inside a nightclub?" For now, Mr. McCaughey's plans are in legal limbo, his opening date pushed back again and again. He says he may try to get a licence as a banquet hall or a restaurant, in order to open.

But he says he may also have to take the city to court to win the right to open a nightclub.

If it does end up before a judge, the battle will come down to the issue of what planners call a "legal non-conforming use." This is the principle that allows businesses that predate zoning rules to keep operating, even if they would not be allowed under the current bylaw.

To earn this status, a site cannot abandon its grandfathered use.

Mr. McCaughey insists that he qualifies, even though the Matador lay shuttered for almost a decade, because he argues he can show that he always intended to use the building partly as a nightclub.

Using a Freedom of Information request, Mr. McCaughey obtained an internal city briefing note from March, 2015, drafted by Mario Angelucci, the city's deputy chief building official, that comes to the same conclusion. But Toronto's building department has since refused to recognize the Matador's grandfathered status, and demanded that Mr. McCaughey provide proof of the uninterrupted use of the site.

In an interview, Mr. Angelucci said that since drafting the internal memo, city officials have learned more about the site's recent history: "That was based on information that we had at the time. ... There is information, clearly, that there's been interruption of use."

Many locals actually support Mr. McCaughey's vision for a renewed Matador. Former Now Magazine music critic Erella Ganon lives in the neighbourhood, was a regular at the club and knew the family who ran it, the Dunns. She now runs a Facebook page dedicated to the club's revival. She fears that if Mr. McCaughey's efforts fail, the site could become yet another condominium complex, resulting in the loss of not just a piece of Toronto's music history, but a music venue that could be part of its future.

"Honestly, there is no other space that's that size. There's nothing. Think of how many buildings have been torn down to become condos in the last 10 years in the city of Toronto," she says. "How many new music venues have been built?"

Associated Graphic

The late Ann Dunn, seen in 2007, owned the Matador until it was bought by Paul McCaughey six years ago.


The famous and not so famous signed one of the Matador's walls, including Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen.


Paul McCaughey, seen in March, 2016, has been trying to reopen the Matador nightclub for several years.


Red Cross working fast to give out aid
Local charities are keeping an eye on the organization to ensure it keeps up with timely distribution of relief funds to residents
Saturday, May 14, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A19

It is the largest response to a disaster in Canadian history: $86million in 10 days has poured into the Canadian Red Cross for relief in Fort McMurray, a figure that will skyrocket once government matching contributions are included.

As the money continues to roll in, the unprecedented deluge puts a spotlight on the Red Cross as the agency in control of the lion's share of the public giving to help the victims of the wildfires in the northern Alberta city.

The organization has already moved more quickly than ever before to distribute large upfront sums to help residents cover some of their evacuation costs, but the majority of the Red Cross's spending is yet to come.

Once the emergency relief phase passes, charity watchers are questioning who should decide where all that money is spent. And, critically, how will the Red Cross ensure its funding decisions mesh with the priorities of the community and the work of dozens of other major players who will guide the rebuilding, including governments, insurers, other charities and corporations with big donation plans of their own?

Little has been decided yet about who will pay for what in the rebuilding process - or even what the needs will be once residents return to the city. But what is clear already is that organizations based in Fort McMurray must be key players in directing contributions because their knowledge of the community will prove essential in the rebuilding effort, said Bob Wyatt, executive director of the Muttart Foundation, an Edmonton-based private charitable group.

"Nobody has an absolute right to be the lead agency in this. We all need to work together to figure out how this is going to happen and the best way to make it happen, and that includes the people who are most directly affected," he said.

With its national network and decades of experience, the Red Cross has become an institution in Canada's disaster-response system, attracting the vast majority of all individual donations during a crisis and receiving the powerful stamp of government approval through partnerships.

The federal and Alberta governments have both pledged to match individual donations to the Red Cross - a commitment that does not apply to any other charities. In addition, the Alberta government is giving the Red Cross, which is responsible for registering evacuees, $2-million in seed money to kickstart operations. As well, the Ontario government is donating $500,000 toward the Red Cross's relief efforts.

In the past, the Red Cross has faced questions for moving slowly on some of its spending, but it appears to have learned from recent experience.

The agency took many by surprise when CEO Conrad Sauvé announced on Wednesday that the charity will immediately distribute $50-million to evacuees - $600 per adult and $300 per child - through e-mail transfers.

The payment is "the most important cash transfer we have done in our history, and the fastest one," Mr. Sauvé told reporters.

For those working in the charitable sector, it was a welcome show of nimbleness from Canada's disaster-response behemoth.

After the Lac-Mégantic train explosion in 2013, the Red Cross issued a two-month update report saying it distributed just $300,000 on an emergency basis to local residents in the first month after the disaster, accounting for a tiny fraction of the $14.8-million the agency ultimately collected in donations.

Within six months, the Red Cross said it had spent or committed $5-million of the total.

Kate Bahen said she was alarmed when she first saw the Red Cross's early reports on its Lac-Mégantic spending. As managing director of Charity Intelligence Canada, a watchdog group that analyzes charities' financial activities on behalf of large donors, she believes a rapid response to distributing large sums of cash is critical, noting studies of disasters have shown that having a sense of financial security quickly after a crisis is the single largest determinant in how well people bounce back emotionally from disasters.

"When it comes to speed, the Red Cross have taken a longerterm approach compared to the front-line charities, and I do believe speed matters," she said.

Ms. Bahen is recommending that would-be donors support local community charities in Fort McMurray and Edmonton, saying local groups were the most impressive in their quick response in both Lac-Mégantic and the Alberta floods.

Less than three weeks before the 2013 train derailment, the Red Cross had moved more quickly when floods swept through Calgary and southern Alberta. Canadians ultimately donated a total of $45-million, $5.9-million of which was distributed within the first three weeks.

The Fort McMurray distribution is moving even faster.

"We know that long-term recovery is more effective and is lessened in its complexity if individuals and households have the support they need, and that is our primary focus right now and will be in the next coming months," said Jenn McManus, the Canadian Red Cross's vice-president in Alberta and the Northwest Territories.

Disaster response by charitable organizations is different in wealthy, modern countries such as Canada, than in poor countries. Canada has highly functioning governments that can quickly take charge, ensuring, for example, that people are not spending nights outdoors or under cardboard boxes.

Canadian governments also have money to restore basic infrastructure, such as electricity services or water supplies, which means charitable agencies are not typically asked to use their funds for those pressing needs.

And most Canadian property owners have insurance, which will ultimately help with at least a portion of their personal rebuilding on a longer-term basis.

The result is that charitable donations are often best spent in the initial phase, when people are struggling to pay for accommodation and other costs while out of their homes. But money is also needed to fill gaps in the longer-term phase, helping individuals with the uninsured costs and communities fund infrastructure and programs that are not first priorities for stretched government spending.

Karen Young, a former City of Calgary manager who co-ordinated emergency social-services planning during the 2013 flooding, said a key aspect of the necessary planning after a disaster includes working closely with other key players to avoid duplicating efforts, including insurers and corporations.

"Part of it is figuring out exactly what the insurance companies are able to do, what the different levels of government are able to do, and what the role is for corporations and charities like ourselves," Ms. Young, who is now chief operating officer of the United Way in Calgary, said. "It's really a holistic community response and it needs to be integrated."

The Community Foundations of Canada, which represents charitable groups across the country, is planning to make a contribution to help Fort McMurray and wants the money to be directed by a local group, said Eva Friesen, president and CEO of the Calgary Foundation.

"It may well be United Way is the most logical place, but they'll tell us who it is and where it is," she said. "I think it will give Fort Mac people a sense of control over their own destiny of community rebuilding."

Malcolm Burrows, head of philanthropic advisory services at Scotia Wealth Management, who helps large private donors direct their charitable giving, said many large donors he is speaking to are still assessing where to give.

Some are reasoning that the Red Cross has already gathered plenty of money, he said, so they are looking at other options that will help over the longer term.

Mr. Burrows has been directing clients to look at groups such as the United Way in Edmonton and Fort McMurray because they are umbrella groups that distribute funds to member agencies, connecting donors to food banks, shelters, crisis lines, after-school programs and other services spread throughout a city.

"I'm a huge believer in local organizations," he said.

The donation focus on the Red Cross means local charities do not have the lead role in allocating funds, however.

The Red Cross typically funnels some money to other groups - it reported that it gave 26 per cent of contributions to local organizations after the southern Alberta flooding - but the donation totals are still wildly tilted toward a single organization.

The United Way of Fort McMurray, for example, has collected $250,000 to date after setting up a website last weekend to raise money to help the community get back on its feet, said communications director Russell Thomas.

Despite being evacuees themselves, staff from the United Way of Fort McMurray have set up a temporary base in the organization's Edmonton offices to begin planning for rebuilding. To boost their fundraising efforts, the United Way would like to persuade governments to also match their donations, Mr. Thomas said.

"If they do that, that would be the game-changer for sure," he said.

The federal government says its Red Cross matching program, which ends on May 31, supports "Canadians' generosity right away," according to Scott Bardsley, spokesman for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.

"Over the long term, there will [be an] opportunity to consider the support required for recovery and the partners to provide it," he said in an e-mail.

Ms. Behan from Charity Intelligence says her organization and others will scrutinize the Canadian Red Cross to ensure it does the most good possible with the record donations for Fort McMurray.

"We're going to watch it very closely - this is a big responsibility they've been given," she said.

"I'd be very sad if three years from now we still see lots of money sitting around that hasn't yet been put to good use."

For its part, the Red Cross is well aware that it must be accountable to donors, and is "absolutely transparent" on how the money is spent after major disasters, including Fort McMurray, said Jean-Philippe Tizi, the agency's vice-president of disaster management. The organization says 93.5 per cent of funds will go to the wildfire response, with up to 5 per cent spent on fundraising costs and no more than 1.5 per cent saved for future disasters.

"Obviously we will be communicating a lot on what we are doing now, what we will be doing and reporting to the public and the donors. That's very important to us," he said. "Pressure is what we experience all the time but it doesn't really matter. We're there to deliver those services to the most vulnerable."

Associated Graphic

In just 10 days, $86-million has poured into the Canadian Red Cross toward financial relief for Fort McMurray, Alta., where many neighbourhoods, such as this one shown on Friday, were devastated, leaving charity watchers to question future spending allocation.



Musicians (and legions of lawyers) are watching the copyright battle over ed Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven, writes Josh O'Kane. A verdict against the group could have major consequences for the future of musical creativity
Monday, May 16, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A6




Led Zeppelin spent the late 1960s and most of the 70s soaring to the highest heights in rock 'n' roll. But to reach the top, the band liked to climb up the shoulders of giants - sometimes crediting them, sometimes not. Members of Led Zeppelin have seen a whole lotta legal threats in their lifetimes, facing frequent challenges to their blues-rock anthems' authorship.

Next month, they'll be going to California to fight a jury trial defending the origins of Stairway to Heaven, their signature song and a staple of classic-rock radio. A trustee for Randy Wolfe - a songwriter in the rock band Spirit who went by Randy California and died in 1997 - is pressing the United States District Court in Los Angeles to give Mr. Wolfe a writing credit for Stairway, alleging vast similarities between its intro and the Spirit instrumental song Taurus.

Victory would posthumously put Mr. Wolfe in rock's pantheon, in addition to securing damages and, potentially, a share of future royalties to one of the most-played songs in rock history. But the result of a jury trial beginning June 14 - assuming the case isn't settled earlier - could also have vast implications for the future of copyright and musical creativity.

Last year, a California jury awarded nearly $7.5-million (U.S.) to the heirs of Marvin Gaye after they found that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams's contributions to the 2013 hit Blurred Lines bore enough similarities to Mr. Gaye's 1977 song Got to Give It Up that it infringed on Mr. Gaye's copyright.

Blurred Lines marked one of the biggest awards for music infringement to date. So, music-copyright experts are watching the Stairway case with keen eyes: Depending on the outcome, the huge sum given for Blurred Lines could either be downgraded to an anomaly in copyright history, or be remembered as the beginning of a culture of fear among music creators.

This, argues Charles Cronin, a University of California law lecturer who specializes in music copyright infringement, would have far-reaching implications to creativity by making artists fear their self-written songs might not sound original. Already, he says, the Blurred Lines decision "has made potential plaintiffs bolder, and it has inhibited innovation in the music industry."

Inspiration in music can be a fickle thing. There are only so any notes, melodies, words, instruments and rhythms out here; repetition is inevitable. specially in hip hop, the culture f borrowing is practically celebrated through sampling: Building on the legacy of one's elders, so long as those elders are credited and compensated, is common practice.

In rock, and sometimes pop, originality is far more treasured. There is an irony here: Much of early white American and British rock music - especially that of Led Zeppelin - owes a world of thanks to the largely black music of the American South. Led Zeppelin has faced accusations of copyright infringement numerous times; some composers, including Howlin' Wolf and Willie Dixon, have been retroactively added to Zep songs' author lists or songs such as How Many More Times and Bring It on Home.

It's a mammoth of a song, but Stairway to Heaven begins with a gentle, slow, instantly memorable riff - one that bears a lot in common with the one that runs through Spirit's much-shorter Taurus. Both guitar parts rely on slow, specific arpeggio played on a guitar with an intensely classical atmosphere.

How much these riffs have in common - and whether Taurus inspired Zep songwriter-guitarist Jimmy Page in writing Stairway - is what's up for debate. In April, Judge R. Gary Klausner wrote that "while it is true that a descending chromatic four-chord progression is a common convention that abounds in the music industry, the similarities here transcend this core structure." And so the lawsuit filed by Mr. Wolfe's trust, led by lawyer Francis Malofiy, is heading for a jury trial.

There are many amazing facts about the case itself - according to court documents, for instance, Mr. Wolfe said in an interview before he died that it was "fine" for Led Zeppelin to use Taurus - but its result could significantly alter life for songwriters.

The Blurred Lines case is already rippling through society. As the case was being litigated, British pop artist Sam Smith bowed to pressure and partly credited Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne for his song Stay With Me because of melodic similarities to Mr. Petty's I Won't Back Down.

And intellectual-property lawyers have started fielding significantly more calls from writers alleging their own songs were infringed. "The number of 'fishing expeditions' has increased since the jury decision," Mr. Cronin said in an interview.

The Stairway case may rely on interpreting the original sheet music, as the Blurred Lines case did, along with statements from music experts. "There's going to be a lot of expert testimony about whether or not those relatively limited number of notes are commonplace," said Howard E. King, who represented Mr. Thicke and Mr. Williams in the Blurred Lines case, and is helming an appeal. "In which case the defendants would argue that if there's 10 or 20 or 50 other songs that use the same series of notes, that it's not protectable, it's commonplace, it's in the public domain."

But the vast majority of such copyright claims settle out of court, Mr. King said in an interview.

Mr. Cronin believes that's a plausible outcome with Stairway. These kinds of accusations are embarrassing for artists by putting their integrity at stake. Led Zeppelin, he said, is "in exactly the position the plaintiff wants them: between a rock and a hard place."

Ceding Stairway's authorship - even a fraction of it - would leave its original composers, Mr. Page and Robert Plant, with a deep wound. But for the lawyer behind Mr. Wolfe's trust, that would correct a long-standing injustice. "Randy never got the credit he deserved in his lifetime," Mr. Malofiy told The Globe and Mail.

If Stairway is found to infringe on Mr. Wolfe's copyright and a huge award is given, it could create a precedent-setting chill among songwriters worldwide. But Mr. Malofiy said his quest is about correcting history.

It's never been about money," he said. He's willing to settle for a single U.S. dollar, so long as Mr. Wolfe is listed as an author. "If Randy California was part of Led Zeppelin, he would have been given equal credit with Page and Plant," he said.

CondéNast Portfolio magazine once estimated Stairway's total worth to be about $572-million (U.S.), although a three-year retrospective statute of limitations would give Mr. Wolfe's trust little of that. Still, the sky - heaven? - is the limit for the song's future value in royalties. Mr. Malofiy said any proceeds from the case would not go to building a stairway there. Instead, they'll be funnelled through the trust to fund musical instruments for underprivileged children in public schools.

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

It's 1992, and Mike Myers's Wayne Campbell is in a music store, ogling a white Stratocaster in the movie Wayne's World. A long-haired clerk reluctantly frees the guitar from its case. Mr. Myers rests it on his left knee, and plucks four familiar notes before the clerk grabs the guitar's neck to silence it. He points to a blue sign across the room. It delivers a simple, crucial rule for clientele: "No Stairway to Heaven." Myers turns his head to face the camera. "No Stairway," he says, barely restraining a cheeky grin. "Denied."

Led Zeppelin released its fourth, nebulously titled record in 1971, and with it came Stairway to Heaven - the song that set the template for almost every rock ballad to come after. Unfortunately, that legacy also turned it into one of the most overplayed songs in history. By the time Wayne's World was released in 1992, Stairway was already so frustratingly cliché that it was taboo in many guitar stores.

With its Renaissance-style guitar-and-recorders intro, slow build and fierce rock conclusion, Stairway to Heaven spent years as a guaranteed closer to high school dances. It still consumes the airwaves on classic-rock radio with its unmistakable riffs. Robert Plant's lyrics are even studied in schools as an example of metaphor in music.

The song has also weaved its way into pop culture in countless ways. It's popped up in The Simpsons (Homer: "I'm not looking for glory or wealth. I'm just buying that stairway to heaven Jesus sang of."), been spoofed by SCTV, become the name of a Korean TV drama and served as a long-time muse for Jack Black's comedic band Tenacious D. (Anyone who's heard their song Tribute knows exactly what it's paying tribute to.)

After the first U.S. theatrical release, later versions of Wayne's World became a bit confusing. That guitar riff Mr. Myers plays in the music store is replaced by some nonsense electric shredding that sounds nothing like Stairway to Heaven - even though the clerk still points to the guilt-tripping, song-referencing sign. It's been reported that a licensing conflict forced the filmmakers to scrub the riff from the film - a copyright-protection move that seems ironic given the current court battle over the song's authorship. No Stairway for real. Denied. --Josh O'Kane

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

There are two points of similarity between these songs, and some big differences. The similar things are the chromatically descending bass line - the red notes in both parts - and the fact that an acoustic guitar harmonizes that line in a similar way, at about the same tempo. But there's nothing original about that bass, distinctive as it sounds. It's common enough that musicologists have a name for it: the "lament bass." Many baroque composers used it, including J. S. Bach and Henry Purcell.

Stylistically and melodically, these songs have almost nothing in common. Stairway to Heaven's modal melody and use of recorders reflects a late-sixties British vogue for Renaissance-tinted pop. Taurus goes in a completely different direction melodically, and its lavish strings and alto flute sound more like Henry Mancini than Pentangle. --Robert Everett-Green

Associated Graphic

Ceding Stairway to Heaven's authorship - even a fraction of it - would leave its original composers, Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant, left, and Jimmy Page, with a deep wound.


The long, slow dance f Led Zeppelin's most amous song and its lace in our popular ulture

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The queen of quaint
The North Norfolk coast is the U.K.'s greatest holiday secret - home to stately piles, empty beaches and delightfully quirky townspeople
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, May 14, 2016 – Print Edition, Page T1

NORTH NORFOLK, ENGLAND -- 'Singing cockles and mussels, alive, alive, ohhh!"

The girls are on our shoulders, the sea breeze is in our hair and we're chanting our favourite folk song like soldiers marching to battle. Except we're marching toward seafood: same determination, happier outcome.

Set back from the sea by a mile of dead-flat marshland, Cookie's Crab Shop is a stone shack with a modest counter crammed with ice and a team of matter-of-fact shopkeepers. It has been this way for more than five decades.

What's grown is the clientele, who swarm outside to perch on mismatched bistro chairs - more people come each year. They are why we're legging it to arrive before the lunch rush. At 11:59, we snag the last available table on the courtyard.

This has been our ritual in coastal Norfolk since my husband and I began coming here more than a decade ago. In those days, I'd ride the two-plus hours northeast from London on the back of his motorcycle and we'd pull over for the night in a farmer's field outside the crab town of Cromer, a makeshift campground sagging with camper vans during the summer boom. But we'd soon discover, whizzing past spongy green cliffs, marshland osprey and otherwise bald beaches tufted with wild grass, that between clusters of human activity, long, unpeopled stretches in Norfolk are the norm.

"Why is that?" we've asked ourselves on epic coastal walks, where the end game is an 18th-century windmill or a church that dates back to the Domesday Book. Genteel Cornwall, officially Britain's favourite seaside holiday spot, benefits from the Gulf Stream and Michelin-star restaurants. But who's counting stars on a country break from London? Why make the five-hour trip for overpriced hotels and cramped beaches when there's Norfolk, reaching out to Holland with a wide, sandy embrace?

In Norfolk, at least, we're moving up in the world. This year, we've taken temporary ownership of the West Wing at Wiveton Hall, a Jacobean mansion with hedged gardens and acres of wildflower fields. There are four bedrooms upstairs - two for friends who've come from Amsterdam to meet us here - and, downstairs, an inglenook fireplace big enough for the kids to stand in.

Between the Aga oven in the open kitchen, the 10-seat dining table and the antique grand piano, we could act out all our Lord of the Manor fantasies. A homecooked banquet is on the menu for that evening, with fresh sole and produce from the tidy town of Burnham Market nearby. As our first day plays out, though, those plans get away from us. We spend the morning scaling the spongy grass cliffs toward Sheringham, tracing the path of a Victorian steam train until it trundles off south. Arriving at a deserted pebble beach in the village of Weybourne, we pull off our footwear and tiptoe into the surf then skip backward as the tide creeps in.

After lunch at the crab shop, we drive into the village of Blakeney, cute as a button, and alight onto the coastal footpath. With precarious marshland up to the horizon, there is little in the way of civilization around us - where would it anchor? A few spoonbills pass overhead, trailing a small touring craft putt-puttering toward the seal colonies at Blakeney Point. The reedy landscape is so saturated with water, the colours blend together into a misty green-blue so calming as to sweep our minds of all ambitions in the way of shopping, chopping and cooking.

We're lucky. The owner of Wiveton Hall has cheerfully revamped a disused building on a forested portion of his farmland into a pretty, produce-oriented café. The place is knocked through with tall windows, strung with bunting and so farm-to-table, there's no printed menu, lest the fresh artichokes disappoint or the tomatoes succumb to hungry deer. Nor is there a takeaway system, or even set opening hours. So we're beyond delighted when the men, 30 minutes after detouring to scope it out, meet us back at the kitchen with a tower of the café's pizza boxes (and a couple of halfdrunk beers). We procure more bottles from the fridge, tucked into a pantry as big as my kitchen at home, and dive into the floppy, ham-sprinkled pizzas like deer in tomatoes. When we google the café later, we learn it's a favourite of Delia Smith, England's queen of cookery. "One of the best restaurants in Britain," she writes.

The following morning, the kids are chasing one another around the sculpted hedge garden when said owner emerges from the main hall, looking very much like the keeper of a 17th-century mansion. Desmond MacCarthy is a vision in a flat cap, tweeds, waxed jacket and wellies, trailing, for good measure, a pair of sniffy beagles.

"I hope we didn't keep you up last night," he says. Friends arrived, he explains, bottles of whisky procured, many barbs merrily exchanged - despite the presence, in a room upstairs, of Desmond's 99-year-old mother.

We can't imagine how we could have heard them, being a couple of dozen rooms away.

We trudge alongside him around the garden for a while and he fills us in on statelier homes to visit, farther west. This crescent of coastline on the English Channel may not be an obvious refuge for moneyed folk, but there are some posh parts.

Burnham Market, a village of antique shops and gentleman butchers, is nicknamed Chelseaon-Sea, after the affluent London neighbourhood whose residents decamp to second properties there. Just past Little Snoring is Houghton Hall, residence of the 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley, with a collection of art on site by James Turrell and Rachel Whiteread. The Queen's second home Sandringham is within galloping distance.

Otherwise, citizens have a reputation as oddballs, and inbreeding has, occasionally, been blamed. "Normal for Norfolk" is a phrase doctors are said to have once written in their notes to diagnose a patient who was healthy, just not ... all there. Desmond is not one of these, yet with his ominous laugh and eyebrows that might sprout wings and fly away, he is eccentric enough to have been cast in a reality show called, naturally, Normal for Norfolk, airing now on the BBC. In it, he bumbles through the management of this swath of land and all the crumbling masonry and errant foxes that come with it.

By this measure, Holkham Hall, to which we drive between towering hedgerows, is fairly atypical (though nobody could promise the total absence of inbreeding among nobility). An airy Palladian palace built by the 1st Earl of Leicester more than 250 years ago, it unfurls over an almost 9,000-hectare estate that recalls the fictional parish of Downton Abbey. Only Holkham has literally miles of smooth sand beach backed by grassy dunes and salt marshes. After sprinting into the misty deer park, we climb back into the car and reverse back to the parking lot for the enthusiastic hike to shore.

Twenty minutes later and slightly less enthusiastic, we're still walking. The raised boardwalk has yielded to a sandy path and then the beach itself, which extends practically to the horizon, even at high tide. But we make it there and burrow our bottoms into the warm strand. In summer the sea is just warm enough for a brisk swim, and though the kids squeal as it hits their thighs, they eventually topple in, one by one, thrown off balance by their stone-skimming.

They've got their second wind now - enough power for the long trek back to the car and one beach over to Wells-next-the-Sea.

That's where the good fish and chips are.

We take ours in paper cones by the marina with other weekenders, some of whom dangle fishing lines weighted with leftover bacon to catch brown crab.

From here, we watch parents towing sun shades and dozing children back up the walking trail from a beach laced with colourful huts. Wiser folk than them have bought $5 tickets for the miniature Wells Harbour Railway, which putters between dunes and harbour in five minutes, saving weary legs and sanity.

We earmark that for another day, crumple up the slippery remains of our dinner and head toward home, away from the setting sun. The pubs along our route are sucking in stragglers for Saturday night, but we'd rather play house with a bottle of gin by the fire as the children practice their own version upstairs.

If this is normal for Norfolk, I could certainly get used to it.



Bang in Wells

This sunny bijou B&B has a jolly Victorian facade, antiquestrewn rooms and a modern bistro downstairs. At a reasonable £100 ($185) and bang in one of the best towns, as advertised, it's a hole in one. 2 Staithe St., Wells-next-the-Sea; The Hoste At the posh end of Norfolk, the Hoste is gilded and tasselled, with four-poster beds and deep baths. The spa and homey wainscoted restaurant are godsends on wet afternoons. You can stay in a renovated railway carriage on site for barely £140 ($260) a night. The Green, Burnham Market;


Cookies Crab Shop

Take a number at the deli counter and order heaping platters of crayfish, crab, cockles and bright pink lobster claws. Then devour them at tottering bistro tables by the village square.

The Green, Salthouse; Wiveton Hall Café This jaunty greenhouse restaurant does garden-fresh halloumi-tomato sandwiches, asparagus risotto and thincrust pizza. In summer, you can pick your own berries on the surrounding farm. 1 Marsh Lane, Wiveton;

The Kings Head A few miles inland, this Georgian cottage attracts an upmarket pub crowd with wood fires, a children's playhouse in the garden and a menu of homemade gelato. Holt Road, Letheringsett;

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No, it's not the Netherlands. The windmills of Norfolk - there are more than 60 - have been used for drainage and grinding grain.


Playing on the dunes in North Norfolk.


Holkham Hall is an airy Palladian palace built by the 1st Earl of Leicester more than 250 years ago. The estate includes miles of smooth sand beach, grassy dunes and salt marshes.


Running through the gardens at Wiveton Hall, a stately mansion surrounded by acres of wildflower fields.


The book of life
Genetics is not just a field of research, it is the overarching framework that spans the life sciences and the key to heredity and identity. Siddhartha Mukherjee's new history attempts to capture all its complexities
Saturday, May 14, 2016 – Print Edition, Page R16

The Gene: An Intimate History By Siddhartha Mukherjee Scribner, 592 pages, $39.99

Earlier this year, Jennifer Doudna, a molecular biologist at UC Berkeley who is known for her role in developing the revolutionary gene-editing technique called CRISPR, got a surprising e-mail from her neighbour. It was a link to a do-it-yourself CRISPR kit on sale for $140 US.

The site included an enticement that until recently would be taken as droll science fiction. "Note to BioHackers: Each Kit comes with all sequence and cloning detail so you can perform your own custom genome engineering."

Even Doudna, a recent winner of a Canada Gairdner International Award, expresses amazement at the pace, scope and accessibility of the new genetics. In the few short years since she and others got CRISPR to work, the manipulation of genes has become something we can play with at home in our spare time. It's this newfound capacity, with all its ethical ramifications, that makes Siddhartha Mukherjee's latest book especially timely.

Mukherjee is a physician and assistant professor at Columbia University whose history of cancer, The Emperor of All Maladies, won him a Pulitzer Prize in 2011. A gifted writer with knack for storytelling, Mukherjee managed to translate his insider's view of cancer medicine into a memorable read.

With The Gene: An Intimate History, Mukherjee is attempting to capture something far larger. Genetics is not just a field of research, it is the overarching framework that spans the life sciences and the key to heredity and identity. Where cancer provides a rich world of material for narrative treatment, genetics throws in the entire biological universe.

The implications of recent discoveries in genetics are almost too vast to fathom. CRISPR has already been successfully tested with human embryos, which means it's now a relatively easy matter, in principle, to introduce changes into our DNA that would be inherited by future generations along with whatever unintended consequences those changes may bring. Add to this the opportunity to better tailor food crops and livestock to suit our purposes or to rapidly drive deleterious genes into wild populations we would rather not have to deal with (like malaria-transmitting mosquitoes for example) and it's clear we have achieved an unprecedented level of mastery over the biological control systems of the planet.

This explains why CRISPR has ignited a fresh round of debate about genetic experimentation, and why the issue is here to stay. At press briefing in Washington D.C. last February, Doudna described the heart-rending letters she routinely receives from those whose are desperate to escape or to rescue a loved one from a DNA related ailment. The impulse to relieve suffering and improve life ensures that the genetic genie scientists have uncorked is never going back in the bottle.

For all that, public perception has not caught up with what is happening in laboratories around the world. We underestimate the creativity of science while overstating its novelty. Researchers are accused of "playing God" by those who ignore the thousands of years of selective breeding of plants and animals that has made civilization possible.

Genetically modified crops are labelled unnatural as though nature is not an ever changing series of accidents and contingencies.

The conversation could benefit from a more thorough understanding of how we got here and how some of our intellectual predecessors were presciently correct and others horrifyingly wrong about the meaning and application of genetic principles.

Mukherjee jumps into this gap with characteristic eloquence and in the process delivers another terrifically engaging book.

Unlike evolution, a subject repeatedly visited by some of the most widely read scientist-authors, molecular biology has inspired far fewer best sellers.

The reason may come down to finches and forests being more approachable for non-scientists than the alphabet soup of chemicals that populate our cells. Mukherjee overcomes this barrier by training his writer's eye on the cast of characters that revealed what genes do and how they do it.

The story opens in an abbey in Brno. Now a city in the Czech Republic, Brno was once part of the sprawling Austrian Empire. Its modest Augustinian monastery would have long since faded from collective memory had it not been the place where, in 1843, a 25-year-old son of peasants named Gregor Mendel arrived in search of a vocation.

Ordained in 1848, Mendel was a disaster as a priest, with neither the charisma nor the linguistic skills to inspire a flock. Aiming instead at a career in teaching, he repeatedly failed the qualifying examination in the natural sciences. When he was asked to describe and classify mammals, Mukherjee tells us, Mendel's answer was an "absurd taxonomy" that lumped kangaroos with beavers and pigs with elephants.

Yet, Mendel was also a patient and able gardener who raised crop after crop of peas within the abbey's walled confines. He was obsessive in his keeping track of the way traits such as texture, colour and height were passed from plant to seed and the oddly mathematical way that those traits could disappear or re-appear when certain strains were crossed.

His intriguing results did little more than annoy the botanist Carl Nageli, to whom Mendel wrote looking for scientific affirmation. Mendel received none and died in 1884 not knowing that he had taken the first key step toward understanding how genetic information makes its way from parent to offspring. His monumental contribution, re-discovered after his death, is that this information comes in discrete units.

It would be another quarter-century before scientists adopted the term "genes" to give those units a name. But Mendel was the first to perceive their reality. William Bateson, the English biologist who ensured that Mendel's work would not be forgotten, saw even more, including the social engineering that might be undertaken when the mechanics of genes were finally laid bare.

"One thing is certain," Bateson wrote in 1905, "The science of heredity will soon provide power on a stupendous scale; and in some country... that power will be applied to control the composition of a nation."

The words are as chilling now as they were then, when Francis Galton, a statistician and cousin to Charles Darwin, was advocating for the selective breeding of the healthiest and fittest individuals in order to accelerate Darwin's evolutionary engine for the betterment of the human race. Galton, who was of the same generation as Mendel, nearly lived to see the first International Conference on Eugenics, held in London in the summer of 1912. The event was attended by such luminaries as Winston Churchill, Alexander Graham Bell and Canadian-born medical pioneer William Osler. It was there that Alfred Ploetz, a German biologist, expounded on his racial hygiene theory, as Mukherjee writes "a grim premonition of times to come."

No less disturbing was the presentation by proponents of eugenics in the United States, where compulsory sterilization of the "feebleminded" was soon to become a reality. When the practice was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1927 it was Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. who, writing for the majority, argued that "It is better for all the world if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind."

From the mansions of America's privileged to the death camps of Europe, what echoes most strongly in the early chapters of The Gene is the profound arrogance that comes with incomplete knowledge.

Even as demagogues were co-opting the vocabulary of genetics, researchers were closing in on the truth.

It is not genetic purity that our DNA is designed to preserve, but genetic diversity - life's only insurance against an unpredictable future.

Mukherjee nimbly chronicles a succession of scientific milestones across the 20th century as the idea of a gene is gradually transformed from a theoretical abstraction into a working molecular machine of stunning elegance. Each decade introduces an array of extraordinary figures. Consider Nettie Stevens, a Bryn Mawr College biologist who, despite steep barriers to women in science, managed to identify the Y-chromosome as the genetic basis of maleness. Or Alfred Sturtevant, who, as a 21year-old undergraduate working in the "fly room" at Columbia University, created the first fruit fly gene map, anticipating the Human Genome project by some 90 years. Another fly room trainee, a Ukrainian émigré named Theodosius Dobzhansky, would go on to become biology's great uniter when he tied together the concept of genetic and geographic isolation to reveal the origins of species.

The list goes on. In subsequent chapters James Watson and Francis Crick play their pivotal roles as co-discoverers of the structure of DNA, but they are in context as part of a larger cohort of lesser known but equally brilliant scientists.

Moving into more recent times, the story shifts from form to function as researchers uncover the way the information encoded in genes is literally brought to life in functioning cells and developing of embryos. By the time the book gets to epigenetics - the complex interplay between genes and environment - the landscape is far more complex and the science still very much a work in progress.

Mukherjee is now facing criticism from researchers in epigenetics who reacted negatively to his explanation of its principles in a New Yorker piece that covers some of the same ground as the book. In his rebuttal Mukherjee acknowledges that in the magazine piece he unintentionally downplayed an important process in gene regulation while giving undue weight to a notion that most scientists consider more speculative. The controversy underscores the perennial challenge of science writing: how to illuminate the heaviest of concepts with the lightest and tightest of prose.

As Doudna and CRISPR take the stage in the book's final chapter it's apparent that there is no tidy ending to this epic. Indeed, the most interesting and controversial developments in genetics are quite likely still ahead of us - perhaps closer than we think. But it's hard to imagine how anyone trying to comprehend the current state of a rapidly advancing science will be able to do so without a firm grasp of the journey that Mendel initiated so long ago in his garden at Brno.

On that score Mukherjee has done readers an admirable service, by turning one of the most important scientific sagas - arguably the most important - in history into a tale that is too good not to know.

Ivan Semeniuk is the Globe's science reporter.

Playing the long game on LNG
Ellis Ross Chief councillor, Haisla Nation
Saturday, May 21, 2016 – Print Edition, Page B4

VANCOUVER -- Ellis Ross has overcome personal adversity before. He isn't fazed by gloomy forecasts that have quelled the excitement over planned exports of liquefied natural gas from British Columbia.

For Mr. Ross, LNG still represents the Haisla Nation's ticket to prosperity in northwestern British Columbia. The chief councillor of the aboriginal group has been waiting a long time for his LNG dreams to come true. "We've been looking into LNG since 2004," he says, sipping cranberry soda during our lunch in downtown Vancouver.

All 20 proposals to build LNG processing facilities in British Columbia have stalled amid the uncertainty hanging over the global industry, which is suffering from a worldwide glut of fuel, depressing prices. Five of the B.C. proposals are envisaged for the Kitimat region, where the Haisla's traditional territory is located.

Only two of those Kitimat-area projects are seen by analysts as having any chance - one led by Royal Dutch Shell PLC and the other proposed by Chevron Corp. and Woodside Petroleum Ltd. The numbers just don't add up for the other three, experts say.

While he has scaled back his expectations, Mr. Ross believes it's not a matter of if but when there will be LNG exports from Canada to Asian countries, which are trying to shift away from dirty fuels, such as coal. LNG exports would generate financial benefits for the Haisla through job creation, revenue from land leases, and other economic spinoffs.

He is thankful that some Haisla members found jobs during Rio Tinto Group's recent $4.8-billion (U.S.) modernization project at its aluminum smelter in Kitimat.

The smelter is near Kitamaat Village - the Haisla's traditional home on the east side of Douglas Channel. More than 1,150 Haisla live off-reserve, while almost 700 reside in Kitamaat Village. Hunting for moose and deer and fishing for salmon and halibut remain a way of life.

Last year, the Lax Kw'alaams band council opposed the Pacific NorthWest LNG project near Prince Rupert, citing concerns about the risks to juvenile salmon habitat in the Skeena River estuary. Since then, many Lax Kw'alaams hereditary chiefs have declared their support for Pacific NorthWest LNG, creating a rift in the First Nation.

While there are critics of LNG in Kitimat, there is community support for the fledgling industry, says Mr. Ross, who points to Kitimat's industrial history. He is satisfied that there would be strict environmental monitoring over LNG projects in Kitimat, located roughly 200 kilometres by car east of Prince Rupert.

Mr. Ross strives to build consensus by sharing information and delegating council duties. And although he has heard the Haisla labelled as pro-LNG, he is quick to add that his fellow band members are far from pushovers when it comes to considering whether to support energy projects.

Mr. Ross emphasizes the Haisla's opposition to the Northern Gateway oil pipeline proposal, which would ship diluted bitumen. He argues that the risks of a spill along Douglas Channel far outweigh any of the project's potential benefits for the residents of Kitamaat Village.

He cautions that it is premature to write about the demise of the fledgling LNG industry in British Columbia. He has learned to keep LNG setbacks in perspective and stay calm, having overcome his own personal demons.

Mr. Ross entered political life in his late 30s, after years of battling alcoholism. As the server refills his glass with cranberry soda, he points out the hundreds of bottles of wine on display along a nearby wall. He says he is no longer tempted by alcohol.

"Seventeen years ago, I decided one morning I'm not going to drink any more. I haven't touched a drop since then," he says, before digging into his lettuce, tomato and avocado sandwich. Tucked inside is a runny egg yolk, which drips onto his plate as he takes a big bite. He removes the thick slices of bacon from the rosemary bread to make it easier to chew the sandwich at the bustling Yew Seafood restaurant, on the second floor of the Four Seasons Hotel.

"I don't mind going to receptions or events where alcohol is being served. But I decided, nope, I'm not doing that any more. I'm done," says Mr. Ross, 50, who recalls booze binges in his early 20s. They were merely a prelude to his early 30s, when he would go on benders, including an 18month haze fuelled by alcohol.

"Near the end of it, I was getting really bad. I was getting to the point where I was drinking almost every day; a functioning alcoholic, basically, having really big drunks on the weekends," he says matter-of-factly. "I could really see the pattern. I could see the effect that it was having on my family. I didn't want to be that guy who screws up his family."

Mr. Ross shows me his iPhone 6.

There is a photo of his wife, Tracey, on the lock screen. On his home screen, there is a wallpaper photo of his younger daughter, Miranda. She is posing with his three-year-old granddaughter, Elise, who was born to Megan, his elder daughter. In 2010, he coached Miranda and her teammates to a zone championship in high-school basketball. He plays basketball for a men's team at the annual all-native tournament in Prince Rupert.

The discipline in basketball has influenced him off the court. He makes a point of wearing a suit and tie during business meetings.

He recalls his high-school coaches instilling a sense of pride in First Nation players - wear ties before and after games. During our lunch, he has a suit on but no tie - this is a time to relax after finishing a morning meeting.

In Kitamaat Village, where I met him in 2014, a casually dressed Mr. Ross drove me around in a pickup truck. He parked and looked across the waters of Douglas Channel, eyeing the site of Enbridge Inc.'s proposed marine terminal for the Northern Gateway oil pipeline project. That is an area where the Haisla themselves hope to eventually develop their own LNG project.

He is well-acquainted with Douglas Channel from his 11 years working as a water-taxi driver.

Over the years, he has done everything from construction work to hand-logging jobs. Wanting to give back to his community, he successfully ran to become a fulltime Haisla councillor in 2003. He was elected chief councillor in 2011 and won by acclamation in 2013 - the first to serve under a new four-year term.

He doesn't like to be labelled as pro-LNG or anti-oil. He is mulling over a pitch from newspaper publisher David Black, who is proposing an oil refinery on a site that is partly on the traditional territory of the Haisla. Northern Gateway's plan would result in tankers carrying tar-like bitumen, rather than Mr. Black's vision to process the bitumen and export the value-added products in tankers.

Should there be a spill in the waters near Kitimat, Mr. Ross says, refined products, such as diesel and gasoline, would be much easier to clean up than bitumen. He warns that a bitumen spill would devastate Douglas Channel.

Mr. Black says he is encouraged by Mr. Ross's openness to the refinery plan. "The Haisla focus on the environment to begin with, and everything else comes after that - jobs to compensation to training. I respect that."

The Haisla have been collecting revenue from leasing a site in Bish Cove near Kitimat to the LNG proponents Chevron and Woodside. But Mr. Ross believes the best hope for the Haisla to prosper from economic spinoffs now rests largely with the plans of Shell-led LNG Canada to a build a facility on the site of a former methanol plant in Kitimat.

In recent years, concerns have increased about the impact in northeast B.C. of fracking. In such operations, large amounts of water are mixed with chemicals and then pumped into the ground to extract natural gas.

"There's a lot of spin doctors out there who can twist information to their own use," he says. "Who do you believe?" Mr. Ross, who won't seek reelection in July, 2017, says he is proud to have helped make the Haisla more independent and self-reliant. They aren't affluent, but they aren't poor either, he says, adding: "We don't have it as bad as other First Nations do."

Mr. Ross sees residents with disposal income. He recently counted 20 pickup trucks parked outside the Haisla Recreation Centre in Kitamaat Village. While many reserves in Canada have dirt roads, Kitamaat Village has paved streets. And many Haisla members have obtained their own mortgages under an arrangement with local banks instead of relying on housing subsidized by the band council.

"What gets through me the day and through life is you do have to give up your ego," he says. "I've mused about the idea about going back to being a nobody and blend into the background. But if I had it my way, I would like to be in a position where I could help aboriginals, not just the Haisla, bring up their standard of living."


Age: 50

Place of birth: Kitimat, B.C.

Education: Graduated in 1984 from Mount Elizabeth Secondary School in Kitimat.

Family: Second-youngest of seven children; married to Tracey since 1985. They have two adult daughters, Megan and Miranda.

Leadership roles: Became Haisla Nation's chief councillor in 2011; chairman of the Aboriginal Business and Investment Council in B.C.

since its founding in 2012.

Inductee: Named to Order of British Columbia in 2014.

Sports: Plays basketball, soccer and golf; coach in 2010 of Mount Elizabeth senior girls' basketball team that won zone championship (team included his daughter Miranda).

Favourite bands: Kiss, Van Halen, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Angel City

Favourite food: Spaghetti, Montreal smoked meat

Favourite TV viewing: Survivorman, news channels

Favourite movies: Goodfellas, Casino and three Stanley Kubrick films - Full Metal Jacket, A Clockwork Orange and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Advice for First Nations: "Be independent. Don't really think of yourself as aboriginal or Haisla first. Think of yourself as who you are first and that will make things easier for you."

On self-examination: "You have to acknowledge your selfishness, greed, sadness and happiness. I don't tell anybody that I have all the answers."

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King James's Version
There is no denying the sheer force and talent of Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James. But his calculating nature and unceasing quest for a legacy leaves him unloved outside of Ohio
Saturday, May 21, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S1


After Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final, LeBron James sat on a riser beside Kyrie Irving looking bored.

Irving wore sweats. James, a head higher than his teammate, wore a suit. They looked like father and son at a meet-theteacher night.

James does not move anywhere alone. A small clutch of retainers and Cavs staffers move with him. They all seemed in on the joke when another Cavalier, Mo Williams, swanned into the room halfway through the presser.

Williams is a seldom-used veteran best known as an FOL (Friend of LeBron's). So here he was, paying public tribute.

Williams made a great show of raising his phone to film the proceedings. In a nice meta touch, a woman was there to film Williams filming James.

More phones turned. Everyone was suddenly filming everyone.

James bent over exaggeratedly and began laughing. Which allowed Irving to laugh. Which freed everyone else to laugh as well.

We all spent a good 30 seconds laughing at something that wasn't particularly funny. As soon as James got serious, everyone else did as well. Quite literally, snapping to attention. And on we continued with the postgame blandishments.

One was vaguely reminded of Solzhenitsyn's passage about the Soviet factory director who decided to sit down during an ovation for Stalin. As they gave him 10 years in the gulag, the director was handed a sheet that read, "Don't ever be the first to stop applauding."

That is Cleveland's function in LeBron James' professional life. In Miami, he was a star. In Ohio, he is the centre of the universe. Everything revolves around him.

His image is omnipresent in the downtown. The 10-storey mural that sits alongside the Quicken Loans Arena - conspicuously designed to resemble a man in front of a congregation - once ran with the caption, "We are all witnesses."

That was before the first breakup. Now it has the word Cleveland emblazoned across the back of James's jersey, as if he and the city are one and the same.

A lot is made of James's various community endeavours. He has given millions of dollars to charities supporting youth and education in Cleveland. He's got an coming reality show entitled Cleveland Hustles - a sort of innercity Apprentice. He wants to send hundreds of current gradeschoolers to study at the University of Akron.

More than most pros, James has tried to make public service central to his brand. Maybe that's why people have never quite warmed to him outside his hometown of Akron and its environs - it still seems like branding.

There is something undeniably calculating about the way James carries himself. He's the only pro I can think of who doesn't lean in to the mic at pressers. Instead, he picks it off the podium and handles it like a talk show host. That way he can stay erect.

If you are inclined to like him, he gives off thoughtfulness and purpose. He always has a sturdysounding, functionally vapid reply. "When you have a team that's winning, I think it brings excitement to the people," James told reporters this week. "It's a sense of hope and they just get excited every night that you go out on the floor."

Like Michael Jordan, he is never going to screw up because he never intends to say anything interesting.

If you are inclined against him, the vibe he gives off is scheming and pompous. Throwing chalk; the blowing-into-hands routine; the head-thrown-back howls; the implied sneers. He's a coach-killer and a control freak. James turned timeout huddles into the finest theatre in basketball: Exactly how will he embarrass his boss today? There may never have been anyone better than James is. There certainly have been few who understand that better than he does.

It is remarkable how poorly the best athletes are able to leverage their talents. They are the most famous people on Earth. They get plenty of money and attention, but it rarely accrues to real power.

You're considered a postcareer success story if you are fed back into the system in a less important role - as an executive, coach or TV analyst. Aside from a big house, the most players can hope for is going from an alpha to a beta.

How many have built real empires (and, no, tucking yourself under Nike's corporate umbrella doesn't count)? None.

How many will be best remembered for things that didn't happen within the lines of play?

Muhammad Ali, Curt Flood, Arthur Ashe and a very few others aside, none.

That's the real conundrum for an athlete as great as James. The sport can't possibly contain the entirety of your legacy. You need more. You need to be loved and respected as well as admired.

And for years beyond your playing days.

James will never get love outside Cleveland. He doesn't have the right personal style. Too flat.

Too grim. Intensely contrived and commercial.

There is also the problem of his physicality. I've stood beside many amazing specimens. None of them are in James's league. He is as close as any human can come to being perfectly realized.

It's great fun watching people get close to James for the first time. It is, quite literally, awe inspiring. Jaws dropping and eyes widening and all that other stuff used as visual props in bad movies. But in real life.

When you're that big and that athletic and that much better than everyone else, it can be perceived as its own form of cheating.

The viewing public wants to believe that basketball at the NBA level is hard. That's why people are so taken by Steph Curry. By the standards of the game, he's too short and too skinny. He must've worked for it.

By contrast, James makes it look easy. There is real effort behind the effortlessness, because there always is. But James doesn't get the benefit of the doubt.

You can see it in the way opponents tire of being pressed to praise him, to find new ways to describe how special he is. Even they think it's mostly down to luck.

"He's a great player. I don't know how many adjectives I can give him," Toronto coach Dwane Casey said after Game 2, frustration creeping into his voice.

"We're not here to increase his legacy."

Legacy work - that's all James is doing now.

It would be wrong to call it selfish. James is one of those rare players who see team wins as personal victories. As such, he's willing to step back and become a distributor. Some observers believe he is the greatest passer in the history of the game. James is happy to do it. He doesn't need to win the box score every night.

He trusts (correctly) that people will give him most of the credit in any case.

It's a highly functional and difficult-to-achieve level of sports narcissism - believing the team can't win without you. People who reach it either flame out early or end up in the Hall of Fame.

That's where it's headed now.

James needs to break Cleveland's 52-year-old championship curse.

Then he needs a couple more.

Many career records are within his reach.

The money is peripheral at this point. According to Forbes, he pulled in $65-million (U.S.) last year, all told. He's recently favoured one-year deals. Aged 31 and having not diminished physically, he still has two max contracts left. If he wants them.

And, honestly, why would he care? He's smart enough to know money won't sustain him. He needs adulation for that. After all, why come back to Cleveland - a place where they'd been burning him in effigy - if this wasn't about ego?

You can call it "giving back," but if that's all it was, you wouldn't need to talk about it on TV.

The more James wins, the more possible that sustained obsession becomes. As a sportsman, you need a special sort of legend to transcend sport itself. You need the aura of Best Ever. That's what James wants. He makes no secret of it. He's out there auditioning for it every night.

The Cavs remained on the court after Game 2, doing interviews and primping for fans.

They may not see their home crowd again until Game 3 of the NBA final.

At the door to the Cavs locker room, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar waited.

At 69, Abdul-Jabbar is bent by age and an unusual amount of gravity. He moves gingerly and seems frail. There aren't many players whose reputations James is still chasing, but this would be one of them.

As the Cavaliers came jogging off the court, they seemed surprised to find the NBA's all-time leading scorer waiting there.

Most reached out to tap hands. If any had stopped, he'd have clogged up the door to the locker room. He'd also have presumed a great deal: 'I'm the guy Kareem really wants to talk to.' James did not hesitate. He came to a stop several feet in front of Abdul-Jabbar, forcing the older man to make the last few steps forward.

"How are you feeling?" AbdulJabbar asked.

Once again, people began lifting up phones to record this moment. James was keenly aware of the attention.

"I feel great," he said. "Great!"

He took Abdul-Jabbar's hand and clapped the elderly man on the back. Hard. You could see Abdul-Jabbar flinch.

Then James pulled him in for a hug. They whispered in each other's ears for a bit.

It was James's decision to leave.

He was still talking as he began to ghost. Abdul-Jabbar watched him fade into the dressing room, arm raised.

The unspoken implication was clear: 'You were the greatest in your day. But I'm just a little too busy undoing that to talk right now.' .

Follow me on Twitter: @cathalkelly

Associated Graphic

LeBron James of the Cavaliers looks to make a pass as Toronto Raptors forward DeMarre Carroll defends during their Eastern Conference final game in Cleveland on Thursday night. Game 3 of the best-of-seven series, which the Cavs lead 2-0, is Saturday night in Toronto.


Facing Uncle Sam? Be patient and firm
Saturday, May 21, 2016 – Print Edition, Page F8

In 1993, I was in Tokyo to address a group of businessmen on "Coping with a Changing United States in a Changing World." It was a year after George W. H. Bush, then U.S. president, had become violently ill at a state dinner with the prime minister.

The uproar had produced a low point in Japanese-U.S. relations, and the shock had yet to subside. So I repeated for my audience what I'd said at the time to a Japanese journalist, who was unsure of what to make of Americans. Just as American jazz is called the "sound of surprise," I said, the U.S. is the nation of surprise.

Then I made three points:

First, whatever happens in any given week in no way represents the United States as a whole.

Even Americans can't see their own country whole at one time.

There is simply too much energized purpose in their vast, open society - too much action being initiated. No matter the problem, or the opportunity, someone is taking it on.

Second, just as it's impossible to overestimate the lack of Americans' collective foresight, it's impossible to overestimate the power they bring to bear when they decide they must.

Finally, after living beside Americans for 150 years, Canadians have learned one key lesson: Be firm and patient with them, and you can find a position somewhere between Pearl Harbor and simply handing them the keys.

This is crucial, because no country matters more to Canada - to the world, for that matter - than the United States and, right now, it's in its greatest political turmoil since the Civil War.

Even so, it has two very big positives: The U.S. is the only major country on the right economic path, and under President Barack Obama, it has largely withdrawn from geopolitical, financial and economic ground it could no longer hold. It's now stronger, but at risk because of America's divisive politics.

The drive to divide

The United States has a drive for division, but at critical junctures, under the right leaders, it can also do big mutual accommodations. Canada has a drive for mutual accommodation - one that involves overcoming, not aggravating, divisions. The United States was founded by force and preserved by force. Canada was founded by the mutual accommodation of the Quebec Act of 1774, which was passed just 15 years after the Plains of Abraham and allowed the vanquished to retain their language, their religion and the French form of civil law.

The pattern has been repeated, first at Confederation and, more recently, with the notwithstanding clause in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Canada has been preserved by words and persuasion, not arms and force - a contrast that marks the abiding difference between the two countries.

What is happening to the United States comes from the beginning - from the driving force of its freedom and individualism.

But these strengths can overwhelm mutual accommodation and collective action.

Canada's mutual-accommodation culture is rooted in a different history and geography. Ironically, Canada has become less European than the United States - less divided by nationalism, ideology, religion, class, and cultural differences.

The world is in its first global moment in history - when the momentum and direction since 1945 have weakened and the counterforces have strengthened.

This will require all the important countries to better understand themselves as well as others. In his insightful book The Duel: The Eighty-Day Struggle Between Churchill and Hitler (1990), historian John Lukacs argues that, from May 10, 1940, the day Churchill became prime minister, through the Battle of Britain, the war was essentially a two-man struggle - which Mr. Lukacs says Churchill won by understanding Hitler better.

What was apt for leaders then is apt for countries today. Those that do best understand themselves and others, and use that understanding effectively by following the four great better ways mankind has found for going about things: caring and compassion, freedom under the law, science and education, and mutual accommodation.

The world is becoming more horizontal (the opposite of tribal and hierarchical) and less vertical. Freedom has made that happen, and the Internet, along with social and physical mobility, has reinforced it. Nowhere has that happened more than in the United States.

Moral crisis and fearfulness

The United States faces moral crises in many of its major institutions. Examples include a Washington barely able to govern, the hierarchical side of both the Catholic Church (in the Oscar-winning film Spotlight, sexual predators are attracted to the church because it offers them, as well as victims, lasting safety) and Wall Street (in The Big Short, another Oscar-winner, tycoons make profits any way they can, disconnected from the real economy and from those who work and invest in it).

Similarly, the current exclusionstyle capitalism is also in a moral crisis, reflected initially in Occupy Wall Street and now in the fact that some 40 per cent of U.S. voters are prepared to support delusional (Donald Trump) or pie-in-the-sky (Bernie Sanders).

Historically, waves of fearfulness have come and gone in the United States: the McCarthy-era paranoia about "Reds under the beds," for instance, or the attitude to terrorists after 9/11.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt seemed to have sensed this tendency. When speaking of the Depression in his 1933 inaugural address, he famously said, "There is nothing to fear but fear itself."

In most countries, leaders do not invoke the idea that the problem is the fearfulness of their own people.

The U.S. election in November may become one of the more dangerous moments of the postwar period. It is hard to imagine what the world could become if the United States were to go into some form of craziness - a world of exclusion and no compromises - opposed to what it has always been about.

The raging U.S. democracy and its exceptional ability to manage extremes is under severe stress.

Though unlikely, that craziness scenario cannot be ruled out.

Even the best possible result will not assure minimum effective politics. The combination of high levels of partisanship, divisiveness and disaffection will likely make a sunnier Reagan-like political outcome close to impossible.

Big-time accommodation

Americans have usually preferred division, yet they have had two historic mutual-accommodation outcomes, and four great mutualaccommodation leaders at critical moments.

The United States was launched by war. It was achieved by the mutual accommodation of national and state interests.

Fast-forward 170 years, and the United States led the greatest statecraft achievement in history: It created a post-1945 global order based on broadening the inclusiveness in the world and containing what could not be included. It did so collectively, not unilaterally.

The first U.S. president, George Washington, won not only a war but the peace. He created a new country through mutual accommodation with a fractious group of founders. Abraham Lincoln, by collaborating with his notorious "team of rivals," could not avoid the Civil War, achieved some accommodation with the slaveholding South and preserved America's representative democracy - government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Mr. Roosevelt saved political and economic democracy by overcoming the deep divisions from the Depression and leading the allied victories in the Second World War.

I believe Mr. Obama will come to be seen as a great American president and one of its foremost mutual-accommodation leaders.

The post-2008 economic improvement is finally reaching more middle-class Americans, and his approval ratings are approaching 50 per cent. Great leaders make many mistakes, including big ones; but they get the most important things right.

President Obama got three: election and re-election as the first black president; keeping the world from a global depression; and bringing the United States back from economic, financial, and geopolitical overreach. Ironically, the absence of the victories Donald Trump craves has made the United States stronger on every substantive front. Mr. Obama withdrew from overreach.

The Republican response was to overreach themselves.

How Canada copes

Canada has always understood that hockey showed the way for dealing with the United States.

When Americans wake up each day, they find it difficult to see beyond themselves. But they are so interconnected with the rest of the world that, by the end of the day, they realize they have to break out of their U.S.-centric perspective and deal with issues beyond their borders.

Canadians understand that, in their relations with the United States, they are always shorthanded. To continue the hockey analogy: They have to rag the puck until an opportunity to score emerges. It usually does - but sometimes, as in the case of the St. Lawrence Seaway years ago, only after long delay. Shorthanded hockey is punishing, and Americans use punishment as they see fit.

What if the present political turmoil in the United States ends badly? How can Canada best look out for itself? Has it a role to help the world cope?

As I told the businessmen in Tokyo, the U.S. is always capable of surprise - its politics could bounce back. Even so, now is the time for Canadians and their government to start thinking about and discussing these questions.

Job one is to use the present U.S. economic positives to strengthen the longer-term supply side of Canada's economy.

Job two is to build a strong political, economic and socioculture intelligence capacity regarding the United States and other relevant countries.

Job three is to build Canada's diplomatic relationships and explore its best roles.

Job four is to reposition Canada's relationship with the United States to reflect present reality: a world where the dominant power is in turmoil, with an emerging relationship with Canada that is moving away from decades of convergence to one of divergence.

The best way to face any hard challenge is to build on one's strengths, which Canada's ambitious new government must do as it focuses on something better suited to tomorrow's world.

It needs more sources initiating action - especially of the economic variety.

William A. Macdonald is a Toronto writer who, to spark discussion of the nation's future, has created, with associate William R.K. Innes, The Canadian Narrative Project at

Associated Graphic

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the White House with Barack Obama, who will come to be seen as a great president, according to William A. Macdonald.


A tax reformer with a righteous song
Brigitte Alepin Accountant, tax policy adviser
Saturday, May 14, 2016 – Print Edition, Page B3

MONTREAL -- What's the definition of a successful accountant? Someone who has a tax loophole named after them, goes the old joke. These days, the professionals who help corporations and wealthy individuals benefit from gaps in the tax laws or set up shell companies or offshore havens to minimize their taxes are not exactly clamouring for attention or accolades.

The recent bombshell revelations in the Panama Papers, following last year's Luxembourg Leaks, have shone a broad, bright light on the seemingly widespread use of tax avoidance - mostly perfectly legal - and evasion.

Brigitte Alepin, the Quebecbased accountant and tax policy adviser at the forefront of a group working to reform global tax regimes, wants it known at the outset of our lunch that she is not out to condemn, punish or vilify the notorious 1 per cent or multinationals for taking advantage of existing tax regimes.

"I'm not a leftist," she insists, although she admits "I find it extremely difficult to remain neutral," as we settle in for a traditional Italian meal at one of her favourite spots, Il Cortile, on a tony stretch of Sherbrooke Street near the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Ms. Alepin's neutrality in what is an emotional, politically charged debate may be viewed skeptically by some critics. But she says she's motivated by a desire to bring a sense of fairness to what she believes is an out-ofcontrol system in which countries try to outdo one another in a "race to the bottom" as companies facing fierce competition seek out the lowest tax rates possible.

Her strategy is to eschew confrontation and polemics. Instead, she carefully cultivates an influential network of decision makers in key positions in government and at global institutions.

Her career path has taken her from a modest start as a tax specialist in a small firm in the Laurentians north of Montreal to the rarefied, clubby circle of global finance and economics. Besides her role as a tax policy expert, she is also one of four organizers of TaxCOOP, an international conference on tax equity that gathers together finance ministers, entrepreneurs, members of government, and non-governmental organizations and academics.

Ms. Alepin, 49, and one of three siblings, always had a head for figures but accounting was furthest from her mind when growing up.

Her Syrian-born father was a salesman; her mother - a native of Quebec - was a stay-at-home mom who later became a partner in her husband's carpet business.

Becoming a professional singer was her dream as she closely followed the rise to fame of homegrown superstar Céline Dion.

"I had the profile of the pesky little girl who wants to be a singer," she says. A more practical outlook eventually took hold. She graduated with honours in accounting from the Université du Québec à Montréal, got a masters in taxation from the Université de Sherbrooke and a masters in public administration from Harvard University. "You'll be the Céline Dion of taxation," she recalls her dad telling her.

Then tragedy struck. At the age of 26, she was diagnosed with cancer and told she had a 30-percent chance of survival. Part of her colon and an ovary were removed and she underwent eight months of chemotherapy.

Somehow, coming out on top of those odds made her an even more passionate lover of life, she says.

"[News of the cancer] was like an electroshock making me appreciate the things that really matter and I have always considered myself privileged to have lived this ordeal at that age," she says. "I think I was able to overcome it because deep down inside me I never believed it would kill me."

Not long after the struggle of her young life, Ms. Alepin welcomed a "great gift": the birth of a son. But she was not exactly charmed by the idea of being a single mother - after an amicable separation - raising Sam in a ninth-floor condo in the city. So she moved to the Laurentian town of Ste-Adèle, got her start as a writer penning a tax advice column for the local newspaper and was soon recruited by an accounting firm in the area.

She subsequently met her current husband - an Air Transat pilot - and they set up in a lakeside house with a blended family.

She researched and wrote her first book, Ces riches qui ne paient pas d'impôts (2004) (The Wealthy Who Pay No Taxes) during the evenings and on weekends.

But the early days of her career as a tax reform crusader involved a certain degree of sacrifice, Ms. Alepin confesses. To save on hotels on overnight trips, she would sleep in her car and, on trips overseas, bunk down at the airport. Her airfare was virtually nil thanks to her pilot husband's perk of free standby travel for family members.

"Air Transat subsidized my career," she laughs. "I couldn't ask my family to pay for those trips," the frugal tax specialist, dressed in a Zara blouse and skirt, no watch, says.

Between bites of veal scaloppine, Ms. Alepin defines her role as a mobilizer of people from all sides of the political spectrum on the tax reform issue.

"Patience, perseverance, take the time for one-on-one meetings to talk frankly, be strategic but honest and command respect, avoid going to extremes and be sure people are comfortable with your approach," is how she describes her modus operandi.

Earlier this year, respected online journal International Tax Review put her on its Global Tax 50 list of influential people. She co-authored The Price We Pay, a 2014 feature documentary by Harold Crooks that takes a critical look at the shifting of billions of dollars in profits to low- or no-tax jurisdictions by corporate giants including Starbucks and Apple.

The film - which made its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival - is based on Ms. Alepin's 2010 book La crise fiscal qui s'en vient (The Coming Fiscal Crisis).

Making the switch from print to film was not easy but turned out to be an enriching experience, she says. "It was challenging because the film was based on my book and I had to trust a team of people I didn't know very well and who had no fiscal expertise. It was demanding because I had to contribute to the making of the documentary and had to learn everything on the fly." The discovery of a new medium with which to reach a wide audience and get her message across was an added plus, she says.

Over a four-year time span, she testified as an expert witness 10 times before the standing committee on finance in Ottawa and in 2014 was invited by the chair of Britain's public account committee of the House of Commons, Margaret Hodge, to speak at London's historical Guildhall.

Lately, Ms. Alepin has focused her attention on the social and tax-avoidance issues raised by the growing use of charitable foundations by the super-rich, such as Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. Is the rise of such powerful private foundations eroding government influence in the public sphere, she asks? And to what extent is the ordinary taxpayer indirectly subsidizing the generous tax writeoffs the billionaire benefactors get?

"It breaks my heart to see the way we idolize private foundations that are supposedly philanthropic when in fact we are dealing with an infringement of public finances and a threat to democracy," she says.

Retired justice of the Quebec Court of Appeal and McGill University adjunct professor of law Louise Otis, an international mediator, says Ms. Alepin could have had a lucrative career as a tax specialist in a prestigious accounting firm but chose instead to commit a big part of her life - she also provides tax counselling to mostly small and mediumsized enterprises - to tax policy reform. "She wants to change [things] from the inside, use mediation and negotiation to move towards multinational agreements," Ms. Otis says. "She loves negotiation and she's skilled enough to be able to do that. She's very strong. She's very convincing. She does it all with a smile."

Ms. Alepin has no qualms in trying to win over some leading lights, Ms. Otis says. But she's not in it for her own personal glory, she adds. She's a team player par excellence and has gathered "an impressive team around her."

Her passion for tax reform has no single source or trigger incident. "At a certain point, you just go into something you consider important," she replies when asked what her motivation was.

"From the start it was wanting to see fiscal justice."

The Panama Papers leaks are a step in the right direction, a possible "agent for change," she believes.

She's confident the tax regimes of the world will eventually fall into step with the enormous changes wrought by globalization and that she has achieved something by helping contribute to a better understanding of the tactics and techniques available to corporations and high-net-worth individuals. But she says she isn't done yet.

"I can't conceive of stopping.

I'm like a singer who can't stop singing."


Born: Laval, Que.

Age: 49

Principal residence: SainteAdèle, Que.

Family: One son, Sam, 22, by a previous marriage; partner Rainier Turgeon has two daughters, Marie-Christine and Cassandra

Hobby: Producing maple syrup at the family-owned sugar bush in Quebec's Eastern Townships

Books that have inspired her: Leadership on the Line, by Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky; Bonheur d'occasion (The Tin Flute), by Gabrielle Roy

Favourite films: 12 Angry Men; A Beautiful Mind; Life is Beautiful; The Price We Pay (a documentary she co-authored)

Vacation getaways: "Places where I can go cross-country skiing or ride my bike and where my husband takes me on his motorcycle."

Best vacation: Four-month family trip to seven countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa in 2004

Sports: Cycling, cross-country skiing, working out in the gym

First jobs: Worked at a Burger King in Laval when in high school; assistant at her father's carpet store

Leisure: Cooking, reading, watching movies and television, house cleaning

Associated Graphic


Bad singers, Unite!
A new book delves into the science behind how we hear music and asks whether any tone-deaf amateur can learn to sing
Monday, May 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page L1

The name William Hung may ring a dissonant bell to those who watched the reality competition American Idol.

Hung sprang to fame in 2004, becoming one of pop culture's most notoriously bad singers when he delivered a staggeringly awkward and ear-shattering rendition of Ricky Martin's She Bangs in an audition for the television show.

His off-tempo hip wiggles, accompanied by jerky arm movements, and tinny voice prompted the show's famously surly judge Simon Cowell to cut him short.

"You can't sing. You can't dance.

So what do you want me to say?" Cowell said.

It turns out Hung could sing in key. He just sounded terrible.

As Toronto journalist Tim Falconer explains in his new book, Bad Singer: The Surprising Science of Tone Deafness and How We Hear Music, there's much more to how the brain processes music than simply registering the pitch. A number of other factors, including rhythm, volume, lyrics and timbre, an intangible quality which involves the tone colour and texture of a sound, also play a significant role in how we experience and enjoy music.

Falconer suggests one of Hung's big mistakes was in his choice of song. The Ricky Martin number was a bad match for his thin voice and a capella performance. His lack of timing and accent did him no favours either. But incredibly, Hung's pitch almost perfectly matched the pop star's. As Falconer points out, he was hitting all the right notes.

Not that Falconer could actually tell. Falconer is among an estimated 2.5 to 4 per cent of the population who has congenital amusia, or tone deafness, a neurological impairment that affects one's ability to perceive small differences in pitches. It also makes him a self-described and scientifically validated poor singer. Yet strangely, his disorder doesn't hamper his enjoyment of music. In spite of it, Falconer is an avid music lover who fantasizes about being the lead singer of a band.

In his book, Falconer documents his quest to learn about his rare and fascinating condition, interviewing professional musicians, psychologists, neuroscientists and ethnomusicologists to figure out how his brain processes music differently from others. Along the way, he maintains an ambitious mission to improve his singing so that he may perform in front of a gathering of friends.

Falconer firmly declined to sing for The Globe, but happily answered our questions about what he discovered about the perception and production of music.

For you, what is it like to be amusic?

My ability to hear pitches is not good, but my production of pitches is even worse. At the International Laboratory for Brain, Music and Sound Research (BRAMS) at the University of Montreal, they tested me and said, "Yep, you're a classic amusic."

So my first question to explore was: What's going wrong in my brain? And that's an important thing; it's not in the ear, it's in the brain.

When I worked really hard with my singing coach, both in sessions with him and practising in between sessions, I got to the point where I could sing badly in front of people. But having not had a lesson for a year, I would be really terrible.

How does this deficit affect your life?

I guess if I didn't like music or was indifferent to it, I wouldn't know what I was missing. But I see my friends getting together and making music together, even if it's just playing guitars around a campfire or something.

That's something I can't do.

All the research I did suggests there's a connection that gets created when people make music together, and I'm missing out on that. The analogy I like to use is hockey. I love watching hockey and reading about hockey and talking about hockey and arguing about hockey. But nothing beats playing it.

You talked to a lot of researchers who were eager to study you. What were they hoping to learn?

Music cognition is pretty recent stuff, and they're still trying to figure it out. Really, they're trying to understand music and understand how we react to it, what's going on in the brain.

One study that my family members and I all took part in is a study in BRAMS that looks at the genetics of amusia. If they can really find the gene, maybe it gets back to the roots of music in humans. But it's hard stuff to really understand because people are still trying to figure out what is it that we respond to in music.

You mention they have something at Ryerson University called the Emoti-Chair, which allows deaf people to feel music. Tell me about the Emoti-Chair.

I tested it out. It's really cool. It's basically what they called voice coils, which are actually nothing to do with voice. They're a component in your stereo speakers. They're tuned to different frequencies in this chair and music plays through them.

I sat in the chair when they played white noise, and it was just sort of like a gentle massage.

And then they played a song. It turned out to be Hey Jude by The Beatles, and I couldn't identify it, but I could tell there was a musical structure to it. Apparently deaf people will get in there and will immediately start moving their hands and those who use it a lot can identify genres and stuff like that and really become attuned to the music playing through the Emoti-Chair.

It's another example of how we don't only hear music, we feel music. And psychology professor Frank Russo, director of Ryerson's Science of Music, Auditory Research and Technology Lab, always talks about seeing music, that we see the rhythm.

When we see a band playing, the obvious thing is to see the drummer, but we also see the guitarist tapping his or her foot, we see the emotion in the singer's face. The way we perceive music is a lot more complicated than most people think. It's not just about what you're hearing, there's a lot of other senses going into it as well.

With training, you mention your singing improved.

Well, it improved marginally. It's still really bad.

Because I don't hear pitch very well, I kind of had to learn the contour of a song and then get some sort of muscle memory to get me close to the right notes.

So I wasn't learning to sing in the way most people would, where they'd, you know, learn the notes and sing them.

Happy Birthday is a horrible song but all the labs like you to sing it just because it's a song everybody knows. I worked with my singing coach and I did get a little bit better at singing it.

But when I was played two tones and asked to sing them back, I was sometimes able to sing them back in the right order, but wouldn't always correctly tell which was higher or lower.

One of the theories is some amusics may be hearing the stuff unconsciously but not have access to it. And apparently, some amusics have learned to sing. They're just not aware that they sing in key.

What was the most difficult part of this whole process?

Dealing with the frustration. I kept thinking that it would be like learning some really hard level of math, level triple integration or something like that, where you'd go, "I don't get it, I don't get it." And then all of a sudden, you go, "Yes! Now I get it!"

And that never happened because there's a pathway in my brain that is underdeveloped. It would take a lot more work than I've put into it or would really have time to put into it to improve that neural pathway.

How did all the testing and training affect your enjoyment of music?

I think I have a deeper understanding of music. It's always been a basic gut reaction, like "I like that" or "I don't like that."

Now I have a more nuanced understanding of music and how we perceive it. I still really love music, but I'm also much more aware that I can't do what I want to do, which is to make music.

The researchers say I'd have a much easier time learning an instrument, but my favourite instrument is the human voice, so I wanted to master, well, maybe not master, but play that instrument.

Do you still sing when you're on your own?

Yeah. But I'm much more selfconscious doing it in front of other people now because now I know how bad I am.

You were asking me about having me sing. What I say is I have a disorder in my brain that's like dyslexia. And no one would say, "You wrote a book about dyslexia, now could you get up on a stage and read?" But you write a book about being a bad singer, and people say, "Can you sing for us?" And it's like, well, no.

For some people, it's an innocent enough request. For other people, they think it will be funny.

The thing about music is there's this whole debate about whether it's evolutionary or not.

But it's so important in our lives, in our society, that it doesn't really matter if it's evolutionary or not.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Associated Graphic


Tim Falconer, a 'classic amusic,' says he has a difficult time hearing different pitches in music and finds it even trickier to produce them.


Heading north in this African country means you trade the beach for the bush - and a chance to explore one of the continent's last tracts of true wilderness
Special to The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, May 24, 2016 – Print Edition, Page L1

PEMBA, MOZAMBIQUE -- Mozambique first caught my attention years ago, during a quick weekend vacation from Johannesburg. Friends and I joined a number of vacationing South Africans escaping their western wild coast for calmer, dolphin-filled seas in Mozambique's Ponta d'Ouro. Moments after crossing South Africa's most northwestern border, tar roads propelled us into deep sand - a sign of a vastly different nation.

Sunny skies and sandy dunes were complemented by local specialties such as fiery peri peri roasted chicken, crisp 2M beers and ever-adored and especially sweet R&R cocktails. At its core, the town is a South African playground, and the rand will take you farther than the local currency, the metical.

Sensing I'd but scratched the surface of Mozambique, I returned years later with my partner to seek out opportunity and adventure in what we'd heard was one of Africa's few wild places: northern Mozambique.

The long drive north along the country's central highway from the capital of Maputo down south to the northernmost town of Pemba gave us clues that we were moving into a land untouched. In a rush, you can complete this 2,450-kilometre journey in two intense days.

However, we opted to take nearly two months in hopes of understanding the country's intricacies a little better - and because our travelling companion/puppy required frequent stops.

As we left behind the oft-travelled route connecting Maputo with the seaside towns of Tofo and Vilankulo, the pulse of the country slowed as life grew more rural. At the country's midpoint, we took our place in a mandatory military-escorted convoy to travel through Muxungue to the Rio Save in the Sofala province.

This section of highway has been under sporadic attack by the country's rebel movement, known as Renamo, since 2014.

With a safe crossing behind us, we detoured up Monta Gorongosa to look out over Gorongosa National Park. Before the country's 1977 descent into civil war, this area was celebrated by the intrepid global elite as a cosmopolitan wilderness retreat. Today, conservationists covet it, and watch rehabilitation efforts amid rebel territory with trepidation.

For us, it was an opportunity to swim alone under a waterfall following a spectacular hike to the peak of the mountain. With limited trail markings and only the most minimal camping facilities, we climbed through village-speckled foothills into a dense rain forest and up onto a grassy plateau. Alone and unguided, a mythically raw Mozambique began to feel real.

With the northernmost reaches of the country in sight, we quickened our pace in order to reach Pemba in time to dive with a particularly eccentric South African expat. Sinking down to The Gap, we swam alongside a drop plunging to depths of 120 metres. Turtles and gorgonian fans surrounded us, while humpback whales breached out to sea, welcoming us to a paradise of gentle teal waves.

That said, our time spent on shore quickly revealed a different picture characterized by intense and contentious change. In 2010, 180-trillion cubic metres of natural gas was discovered just north of Pemba in the Ruvuma River Basin and the area has since exploded with prospectors and developers. Moreover, years ago, this sleepy beachside village had but a sprinkling of recreational divers coming to visit annually. Now, commercial divers hover around the expanding port as a landscape once fringed by baobab and palm trees morphs dramatically.

As the pulse of Pemba quickened with each passing day, we set out for the bush. The dhowfilled coastline most often attracts visitor attention, but our hearts were set on Niassa National Reserve - a territory larger than Switzerland and double the size of South Africa's Kruger National Park. With but one lodge, a handful of roads, a few hunting camps, one conservation organization and 40 villages, Niassa is often touted as Africa's final wilderness. True or not, we had crowded lions in safari vehicles on the Serengeti and in Kruger one too many times: The allure of solitude in a wild place drew us inland toward the Reserve's unassuming front gate.

Our first peek into Niassa was bittersweet. An electric fence and a well-used main road heading north to Tanzania squashed hopes of a wilderness truly untouched. But one turn off onto a narrow, dusty track took us into the woods and behind the mountains, where we found something akin to the anticipated.

The Niassa Reserve is home to one of the planet's largest lion populations, and boasts an impressive number of endangered and elusive African wild dogs.

Leopards, elephants, buffalo, sable antelopes and three native ungulate species (Niassa wildebeest, Boehm's zebra and Johnston's impala) walk the forest and plains. However, be warned that a visit here is not about completing your "Big Five" checklist, as you will likely leave disappointed.

Instead, Niassa is about hiking dramatic granite inselbergs, navigating golden miombo woodlands and listening to buffalo move toward your evening campfire, seeking protection from lions roaring in the distance. It is an opportunity to explore the bush with your senses, tracking wildlife through footprints, scat, sound and smell.

In doing so, you go beyond simple observation, finding an intimate experience not meant for the first-time safari goer (nor the faint of heart).

Resident species, with the exception of birdlife, are justifiably skeptical of humans, and local rangers will tell you that many have adapted to live a more nocturnal life in order to avoid us. Although Mozambique's civil war (1977-1992) brought an increase in hunting and poaching, the past five years are of the greatest concern. During this period, the country saw a 48-per-cent decline in its elephant population, and 95 per cent of that loss occurred in the north. It is far too likely that you will encounter a hunted, tuskless elephant before you will see a live one in Niassa or neighbouring Quirimbas National Park. Despite being illegal, the sale of elephant meat and ivory to readily available buyers in Pemba is a lucrative temptation for local villagers.

Gorongosa National Park offers a glimmer of hope in Mozambique's conservation story, as its small elephant population has increased over the past five years. However, Niassa's epic size greatly complicates the area's anti-poaching efforts. The Niassa Carnivore Project plays its part, through its research and community education/engagement initiatives. Since 2003, this small and largely local team has worked to conserve local lions and other large carnivores. Central to the organization's philosophy is relationship-building with local villagers in order to create sustainable solutions to conservation threats. The NCP has also been instrumental in working with hunting concessions, independently auditing trophies in order to prevent further damage to local populations.

These challenges and stories made Niassa all the more fascinating to visit, and we immediately fell into a happy rhythm of early morning game drives, sunset hikes and afternoons avoiding an unforgiving sun and encroaching tsetse flies. I took particular delight when a herd of elephants - a herd clearly more trusting of humans - casually appeared around the permanent watering hole adjacent to camp as we prepared lunch. There was the occasional conversation with local rangers and researchers, who were also based out of the camp, but for the vast majority of time we were left to our own devices. The tranquillity was so appealing that we stayed until our food, water, and fuel resources were completely depleted.

Mozambique is a country that is fledging fast, and its future remains particularly uncertain. For the moment, the north attracts a handful of adventurous travellers who drift between azure waters and the far-flung bush, enjoying lands of unpolished beauty. However, with development expanding and tensions rising, you must hurry in order to experience such a raw and unparalleled place.


Pemba International is the nearest airport to Niassa, and has daily flights to Maputo and Johannesburg. Guests of hunting camps will have access to private charters from Pemba. All others must travel by road over a full day of driving, heading north after the town of Marrupa. Be sure to carry extra fuel for game drives, as it is not readily available outside of major towns.

Entry Requirements: Canadian citizens require visas, which must be arranged in advance via the Mozambican Embassy in Washington. Proof of a yellow fever vaccination is also mandatory.


The only tourism-focused lodge in Niassa Reserve, Lugenda Wilderness Camp, recently closed. Hunting camps are now the only catered accommodation in the reserve itself. Completely selfsufficient guests can camp at the Mbatamila ranger camp for approximately $10 (U.S.) a night. No advance contact is possible, and directions can be obtained at the Niassa Reserve gates. Showers and bathrooms are available. For those looking for more comfort, Nkwichi Lodge (, located on the edge of Lake Niassa/Lake Malawi, is the only other regional option.

Rates begin at $375 a night, and packages are available.


Guests staying at a hunting camp or with Nkwichi will have a range of organized activities available to them, including hiking, paddling and cultural tours. Self-guided visitors must organize their own activities as guides and resources are typically unavailable. Proper equipment and supplies (GPS system, fuel, food, water, camping supplies and a 4x4 vehicle) are essential.

Associated Graphic

Wildlife in Mozambique's Gorongosa National Park was nearly eradicated during the country's civil war; today, it is a symbol of hope and conservation efforts.


Since Mozambique's civil war brought an increase in hunting and poaching, Gorongosa National Park has become coveted by conservationists.


A dhow sits in the water on the coast of Pemba, Mozambique.


The sweetest (and most overrated) cones in Toronto
From traditional shops to the ridiculous, but delicious, Toronto has many offerings to beat Instagram-famous Sweet Jesus
Saturday, May 21, 2016 – Print Edition, Page M2

The El Chapo cone at Sweet Jesus, a shark-jumping, lineup-clogged soft-serve ice cream phenomenon just north of King Street West, on John Street, presents like a medical exhibit from the lost causes cabinet of a journeyman Victorian-era surgeon.

Bulbous and misshapen, the cone is dipped in what tastes like Dollarama clearance-bin chocolate, be-drizzled with spasms of sauce and rolled in deep-fried pork skin. Its most prominent colour is a looming, viruliferous brown.

The experience of eating that cone, which Sweet Jesus promoted around Cinco de Mayo earlier this month, is a lot how I imagine it'd feel to slurp on a stick of freezer-burned margarine dipped in Nestle Quik and week-old bacon drippings. As for the wisdom of celebrating one of Mexico's most beloved national holidays with a paean to the country's most murderous drug lord, I'm slightly less certain, though I do look forward to the launch of Sweet Jesus's Maurice (Mom) Boucher cone this Canada Day.

The El Chapo, like the rest of the soft-serve menu at Sweet Jesus, is absurdly popular, if you judge by all the social-media postings, not to mention the ever-present lineups. If you can get through the Sweet Jesus queue, which often stretches a full block down John Street and in through the doors, past the display of Sweet Jesus merch and past the cash station, with its basket marked "What Would Jesus Tip?" (cost for five cones, after tax and the credit terminal's suggested 18-per-cent gratuity: $43), and then beyond the coffee counter and the ice-cream cone assembly line, where unsmiling workers (no modifications, please!) roll the company's third-rate soft serve (the stuff at McDonald's is as good or better) through tubs of cheap candy and cookie crumbs and squirt it with squeeze-bottle drizzle, in less than an hour, you should count yourself among Sweet Jesus's least unlucky victims.

After all that, of course, almost nobody actually finishes their ice cream. Whether you order the El Chapo, or a Red Rapture, a Cookies Cookies Cookies & Cream, a Krusty the Cone or a Bangin' Brownie (key ingredient: "chocolate cookie cumble," which one presumes is not a typo), a Sweet Jesus cone is not meant for eating so much as it is for showing off on Instagram. Sweet Jesus is a spinoff of La Carnita, the taco chain that started as a viral marketing project of One Method, the cool kid King West advertising firm. They're smart, those One Method folks.

My friends and I had about five bites each and then tossed the lot into Sweet Jesus's garbage bin. Maybe we just weren't ready to let Sweet Jesus into our hearts. Maybe we weren't yet ready to be saved.

Until that happens, I feel it's my duty to save as many people as possible from the ice cream at Sweet Jesus. Happily, it's an ideal time to do that, as Toronto is in a quality ice-cream boom. Here's my look at some of the best new (ish) shops around town.


Scoop Shop by Sweet

Sammies Every neighbourhood needs a tiny, top-quality scoop shop such as this one on Dundas West, near Palmerston, where there are typically around a dozen different flavours, each one made, according to the chalkboard menu, "From scratch with [heart shape]."

There was an excellent Ontario strawberry ice cream when I stopped in a few weeks ago, all super-creamy texture and vividtasting strawberry chunks, as well as a superbly flavourful hazelnut and a toasted marshmallow chocolate chip, among other, mostly classic flavours.

They were also scooping the richest, most custardy vanilla I've had in recent memory. It tasted resolutely honest: like good cream, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla, heated into custard and churned through a salt-and-icecooled hand crank bucket, the last part of which I'm sure it wasn't, but anyway. It tasted just the way your homesteading great-grandmother might have done it if she opened an ice cream shop. You ought to go. 808 Dundas Street West (at Palmerston Avenue),

Sweet Olenka's

The three-location empire's Kensington Market storefront specializes in vegan ice creams and naturalist flavours: the wasabi and ginger tastes like wasabi and ginger, while the strawberry and rhubarb tastes like nothing more than those two things.

The lychee ice cream, like many of Sweet Olenka's vegan offerings, is built not on dairy cream but coconut milk, which you might think would make for a thin, limp base and a Caribbean-tasting backnote. It doesn't. It is soft and remarkably dense, a titch closer in texture to sorbet than ice cream, sure, but still utterly nice. 225 Augusta Avenue (at Baldwin Street),

If neither of those work for you, be sure to try the fantastic gelati at The Cheese Boutique, in Etobicoke, the very well-made ice creams and sorbetti at stalwart Ed's Real Scoop, with three locations, or the top-drawer scoops at Kekou Gelato, with locations on Queen Street and on Baldwin Street, which might be the best in town.


Death in Venice

Chef Kaya Ogruce's sateen-textured gelati often tip toward oddball flavours. He has offered a "chocolate, crisp cricket and mealworm" creation in recent months, as well as caramelized eggplant and tahini, roasted parsnip and maple syrup and pecorino-porcini.

If those aren't quite your speed, he does plenty of more straight-ahead sorts. His vegan pina colada is wonderful, flavoured with coconut, lemongrass and rum-soaked pineapple in a snowy-white, mid-weight base and the peanut butter and feuilletine (that's the French word for croissant crumbs, for the uninitiated) is as stupidly good as it sounds. The ginger and carrot was beautifully flavoured, if a rare Death In Venice gelato with a touch of icy texture; far better the smoked hay and goat's milk (it is sort of brilliant), or the combination that won Mr. Ogruce Chopped Canada's $10,000 prize last month: his ricotta, rosemary, lemon and honey, which is sublimely tangy and creamy, with bits of aromatic peel inside. 536 Queen Street West (at Ryerson Avenue, inside the Constantinople Bakery),

Forno Cultura

The ground-breaking King West bakery (disclaimer: earlier this year I worked on a cookbook proposal with owner Andrea Mastrandrea, which we didn't pursue) installed a soft-serve machine recently, which it fills with deliciously whacked-out gelato bases, one single flavour at a time.

Recent offerings have included Spanish ham, chocolate and olive, and anise-studded cornbread, which tastes like Southern Italy's answer to cereal milk.

Earlier this week, they were trying out a fantastic (if very sweet) amarena cherry flavour, which you could order straight-up in a cup, or drowned, affogato-style, with good espresso. 609 King Street West (at Portland Street),


Seven Lives Paleteria

This cheery satellite to Kensington Market's superb SoCal taqueria opened just last week, and so I had a mind at first to give it a miss while it worked out the kinks. I'm glad I didn't. The Mexican-style ice creams and floats here are nearly as fun and spectacularly garish as the ones at Sweet Jesus, except these ones you're definitely going to want to eat.

If you'd like to keep it simple, go for the pineapple soft serve, which is properly smooth-textured and has exactly the same sweet-tart-tropical taste as the canned pineapple juice that many of us grew up with; it's a cup of frozen genius.

The mango soft serve is also great, though even better to have that in the form of a Mangonata, which adds the pickled fruit and chili powder mix called chamoy, as well as mango chunks and a chamoy-dipped candied tamarind straw. Another standout: the horchata con tuna, a float of sorts combining spice-kissed rice milk with chopped, toasted walnuts and deep-purple, tequilainfused prickly-pear sorbet. This place is a must-try. 72 Kensington Avenue (at Baldwin Street), @sevenlivesto

Bang Bang Ice Cream

I started hearing the blowback a few months ago, as ice-cream hounds, many of them frustrated by this Ossington Avenue ice cream sandwich emporium's often two-hour lineups, complained that Bang Bang wasn't really all that great. I'm sorry to report that the blowback looks like a classic case of tall-poppy syndrome. The doubters are absolutely wrong.

Who could not love a couple scoops of perfectly made pink lemonade and raspberry ice cream inside a pair of ginger cookies? How could anyone turn up their nose at Bang Bang's exquisite coconut mango pudding ice cream, topped with warm coconut sticky rice and set inside an eggy, made-to-order Hong Kong waffle? I'd even brave a Friday evening lineup for another one of those.

There were 31 flavours the last time I went there, from the classics to more inspired creations ("Maltease Me," "Love Oolong Time," "Bellwoods Beer and Brown Bread"). If you're smart, you'll go in the afternoon (the shop is open from 1 p.m.) instead of after dinner. I managed to get in and out, arms loaded with awesome, in 15 minutes flat. 93 Ossington Avenue (at Argyle Street),

Associated Graphic

Deborah Ellis enjoys a Krusty the Cone from Sweet Jesus.


Shane Black, the last action hero
How The Nice Guys director survived a Hollywood exile - and why he might resurrect that rarest of genres: the original, adult-oriented blockbuster
Friday, May 20, 2016 – Print Edition, Page R1

Shane Black should be living in Ohio. Maybe drying out in Mexico. Or possibly dead. But he should definitely not be walking the red carpet at Cannes, where his new film The Nice Guys just got the full-court press treatment. Yet there he was on Sunday, enjoying all that a Croisette premiere has ... Wait, sorry - this is bad narration, as Black might write in one of his own screenplays, famed as they are for smart-ass narrators.

Let's go back to the beginning of Black's story, which just so happens to be the beginning of highgloss action cinema, or the kind of high-gloss action cinema that defined the eighties and nineties.

In 1986, Black was just 24, a few years out of UCLA and living in a West L.A. bungalow filthy with wannabe screenwriters, in addition to being just plain filthy.

After selling his screenplay for Shadow Company - a Vietnam-set zombie movie that would never get produced - Warner Bros. shelled out an unprecedented $250,000 for a Black script titled Lethal Weapon. A few years later, he got $1.75-million for The Last Boy Scout. He was offered a polish on the Predator script and turned it into an acting job. It was the height of the spec-script gold rush, when a clever-ish idea and a fresh name could net you a bidding war and an instantly inflated ego, and Black was the era's poster boy. But like most things in Hollywood, it wasn't built to last.

Black's first misstep: a rewrite of Last Action Hero (original title: Extremely Violent), which turned into a flop so embarrassing it's still used as a punchline.

Then there was Black's mammoth $4-million payday for The Long Kiss Goodnight, whose final product made Last Action Hero's disaster seem dignified. In between there were legendary parties at Black's mansion - debauched gatherings that wouldn't look out of place from the louche bad-guy lairs in, say, Lethal Weapon - and enough industry jealousy and vitriol to drown out anyone's voice for good.

Which is all a long way of saying that Black could have retreated to the suburbs of Cleveland like Basic Instinct's Joe Eszterhas, another icon of the halcyon spec-script days. Or he could have ended up so lost in the L.A. party scene that his obit would have long ago been printed. Instead, Shane Black is alive, sober and ready to embark on his second (or third, or fourth) act: the man who can save Hollywood from itself.

It's no industry secret that studios are relying increasingly on sequels and superheroes, familiar properties that can be stretched into an endless cinematic universe of franchise opportunities.

Which is exactly why Black's The Nice Guys - which he directed and co-wrote - stands out. With two movie stars (Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe), a budget that's not insulting ($50-million), a major studio's backing (Warner Bros.) and a hard-R rating in the United States (sorry, kids), the film is that rare summer-movie beast: an original wide release about adults doing adult things, with nary a cape in sight.

"It's getting harder and harder to encroach on the market when fewer and fewer films aren't the dependables - the tentpoles or the sequels or the branded product. How do you enter the summer sweepstakes?" says Black, now 54, over the phone from L.A.

"For me, it's gratifying that [The Nice Guys] exists. This is a postcard to Los Angeles, a tribute to the detective novels I still collect - it's purely a labour of love."

That labour of love took more than a decade of tinkering, though, as Black scrapped his way back into the industry's good graces, first with 2005's low-budget Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and then with 2013's ludicrously budgeted Iron Man 3. Written with friend Anthony Bagarozzi, The Nice Guys acts as a master class on all things Black. There are the two mismatched, overly quippy heroes (Gosling and Crowe here, echoing Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon), a wise-beyondher-years kid (hello, The Last Boy Scout and Iron Man 3), a twisty plot (The Long Kiss Goodnight) and unexpectedly verbose henchmen (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang).

"I didn't grow up reading scripts - I read pulp like the Ed McBain novels. If you want a playful style, all you have to do is check out how he describes a crime scene," says Black of his style. "But I'm also painfully aware how difficult it is to read scripts, with these giant blocks of text, just paragraphs of stuff, so I've always thought I owe it to the script-readers and directors to tap dance a little bit, to show them not just what things look like, but what it should feel like."

Which is how you get descriptions like this, from Black's Lethal Weapon script: "EXT. POSH BEVERLY HILLS HOME - TWILIGHT. The kind of house that I'll buy if this movie is a huge hit.

Chrome. Glass. Carved wood. Plus an outdoor solarium: A glass structure, like a greenhouse only there's a big swimming pool inside. This is a really great place to have sex." Black makes films that know they're films - the only goal is to entertain, to keep the movie moving, dancing.

"His work doesn't walk a straight line," says frequent collaborator Fred Dekker, who met Black at UCLA and directed their script for 1987's The Monster Squad. "He's always had his own peculiar, pulp-influenced bent.

We see the world through the same kind of coloured glasses - an eye for throwback things like the cop and crime shows of the seventies, but with a contemporary edge. Which is why I think The Nice Guys is the most pure Shane movie yet."

If The Nice Guys ends up a hit, it will not only pave the way for more original, adult-first films, but also cement the comeback narrative that Black has been building for two decades, ever since The Long Kiss Goodnight fizzled and he found himself a pariah. (In an infamous 1994 Variety editorial, Peter Bart wrote that Black's "weapons are out of control. If the French have established a 'language police' to protect their native tongue against vulgarization, then Hollywood may have to come up with its own language police to protect against Shane Blackisms.") "I got my feelings hurt, no question," Black says now. "Right after Bart, a friend of mine called and asked if I wanted to get into the Academy [of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences]. You get to vote on the Oscars, go to screenings, it sounded terrific. Cut to a week later, and the academy says, 'Sorry Mr. Black, but we require two pieces of substance of merit for consideration.' I had tons. I just realized, wow, they don't want me.

"It occurred to me that they didn't really know me - they just pictured a kid laughing all the way to the bank and lighting my cigar with $100 bills. So I thought I was going to show them! I'll write a drama or romance!"

His attempt to become the new James L. Brooks didn't fly - and instead Black added a murder to that romantic drama, which turned into Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. It would attract the attention of a similarly career-moribund Robert Downey Jr., who would years later persuade Marvel to bring Black on to the Iron Man team and, well, as one of Black's narrators might ask, where were we again?

Oh right - here, on the eve of Shane Black's latest comeback.

His last, he hopes.

"I have no idea how [The Nice Guys] will perform, and I try to stay out of the results business.

But the end game is to just enjoy that it's out there, something fresh in a summer filled with stuff that's good, but stuff that's recognizable," says Black, who is learning to manage his expectations - both of Hollywood and himself - as he enters his eighth year of sobriety.

"I used to expect a bad outcome, of almost getting everything in life and having it snatched away at the last second," he adds. "Then I stopped drinking and I'm surprised when something goes wrong. It's a remarkable, transformative thing.

There's no way I'd want to go back."

It's doubtful the industry would want him to, either. After all, the movies need Black as much as he needs them. Both to give fresh life to their almighty franchises - Black is currently working on rebooting the Predator series with Dekker - and to produce the original, Blackian stories that the landscape so desperately lacks.

"I'm lucky enough I can still write on spec - there are fewer movies being made, and they are all so thoroughly vetted," Black says. "But I think there's still room for people to see more than one kind of movie, something that is distinct and represents a commitment from someone to have a clear view. Something fun." And, maybe, just a bit smart-ass, too.

Associated Graphic


Lethal Weapon (1987)

Last Action Hero (1993)

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

The Nice Guys (2016)

The Nice Guys, with Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, is a master class on all things Shane Black - mismatched heroes, a precocious kid and a twisty plot.

CIBC's trading floor hit by sexual harassment allegations
Wednesday, May 18, 2016 – Print Edition, Page B1

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce conducted an internal investigation into alleged misbehaviour on its trading floor amid claims of sexual harassment and a toxic work environment, The Globe and Mail has learned.

Earlier this year, the bank hired an outside firm to question trading floor staff about a series of alleged incidents, according to three people familiar with the situation. Roughly 20 employees were interviewed, said a source involved in the process.

The investigation is linked to a wrongful-dismissal lawsuit filed in December by Diane Vivares, a former executive assistant to the head of equity markets. Ms. Vivares, who was terminated in October, is seeking at least $1.175million in damages from CIBC World Markets and Kevin Carter, a former executive director who worked in the dealer's equity derivatives group.

Ms. Vivares is seeking damages from the bank for allegedly failing to protect her from a "sexually poisoned and toxic work environment" and from Mr. Carter for allegedly sexually assaulting her at a staff Christmas party in 2007. Ms. Vivares claims in court documents that she reported "incidents of sexual assault, harassment, bullying and discrimination" to several senior managers.

Both CIBC and Mr. Carter deny the allegations, which have not been proven in court.

"While we are unable to comment on the specifics of the case as it is before the courts, it is important to note that some of the complainant allegations date back almost 10 years and many of the individuals named are no longer employed at CIBC," the bank said in an e-mailed statement to The Globe.

"We only became aware of the complainant allegations when she filed a lawsuit, following her departure from CIBC. Whenever any harassment issue is raised through our confidential hotline or any other avenue of escalation, we investigate thoroughly early and take disciplinary action, including termination, if the allegations are proven.

"Our most basic promise to our team is that everyone be treated fairly, with decency and respect, and feel safe and secure when we come to work," the bank said.

"We are committed to a culture of caring and doing the right things for our people. No form of harassment, discrimination, bullying or any other kind of violence in the workplace will be tolerated."

The allegations come amid a strategic overhaul at CIBC that has touched the bank's wholesale unit, Bay Street's top equity trader by market share. Since chief executive officer Victor Dodig took the reins in September, 2014, CIBC has taken steps to cut $600-million in costs across the bank.

One of the co-heads of CIBC World Markets left last fall, and the heads of equity trading and equity sales left the bank in February in a restructuring.

Larry Acton, the former head of equity trading who had also been appointed to the dealer's global leadership team last fall, is not named as a defendant in Ms. Vivares's lawsuit, but she alleges in her statement of claim that he made inappropriate sexual comments directed at her.

Reached by phone, Mr. Acton declined to discuss the case but said he was told his dismissal in February had nothing to do with the bank's internal investigation.

Mr. Dodig's overhaul has included efforts to revamp the bank's culture - particularly at the executive level. He has been keen on promoting gender diversity, naming three women to his executive committee. He also sits on the advisory board of Catalyst Canada, which promotes the advancement of women in the workplace.

One lawyer who deals frequently with sexual harassment cases said the issue still comes up on Bay Street, despite efforts in recent years to tame the male-dominated culture that often exists on trading floors.

"These things still happen," said Susan Vella, a top lawyer on the subject at Rochon Genova LLP who has handled many Bay Street cases and also advised Ontario's Liberal government to help draft sexual harassment legislation that was introduced last year.

The problem, Ms. Vella said, is that the public rarely hears about issues such as sexual touching or sexualized language in the workplace.

"The only time we hear about anything is if it is elevated to the level of either a criminal charge, or if someone decides they've had it, their career's pretty much ruined anyway - [or maybe] they're going to go into another area so they can't be hurt by it," which is when they have the courage to sue for damages.

But even then, she said, many damage suits are never heard of because "most of those cases are settled out of court."

CIBC has dealt with allegations of misbehaviour in its capital markets group before.

In 2011, a female employee complained about feeling compelled to visit an adult entertainment club in Vancouver with co-workers; upon finding out, CIBC brought in a third party to conduct an investigation, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Afterward, the bank sent the message that such behaviour would not be tolerated by docking some senior employees' pay and deferring promotions.

Ms. Vivares, 51, an employee from 2005 to 2015, alleges she was groped by Mr. Carter at the bank's annual Christmas party at Reds Tavern in downtown Toronto nine years ago. In the middle of a conversation, he asked her if she wanted to go somewhere private with him, she alleges in court documents.

When she said no, the lawsuit claims, "he proceeded to shove his hand down the inside of her skirt." She pushed him away, but she alleges that he did it again.

As of December, Mr. Carter is no longer employed by the bank. A lawyer representing him said "there is absolutely no merit to the allegations against Mr. Carter. They are scurrilous and false and are being vigorously defended."

The lawyer added that Mr. Carter "left his job as a result of a larger restructuring at CIBC World Markets" and that his departure "was unrelated to these allegations."

Ms. Vivares, who declined to comment for this story through her lawyer, alleges that several senior employees were aware of the incident, one of whom apologized to her the next day on Mr. Carter's behalf. When contacted to verify her claim, the employee, who is no longer with the bank, wrote: "At this time I'll refrain from commenting."

The lawsuit also alleges that in April, 2014, Stephen Pynn, a junior trader, approached Ms. Vivares "unsolicited and showed her a pornographic picture of his girlfriend's vagina on his phone."

Two senior female employees, one of whom worked in human resources, were allegedly aware of the incident. When approached by the human resources director about it, Ms. Vivares said little.

In her lawsuit, she says she was "too humiliated and traumatized by the incident to speak about it at that time" and that she "feared she would face reprisal if she reported the incident." Mr. Pynn is no longer employed by the bank and did not reply to multiple requests for comment.

A third incident is alleged to have taken place in or around March, 2015, when Ms. Vivares found a sexually explicit note on her desk. The note, written by someone else but made to appear that she wrote it, requested that Mr. Pynn meet her in a boardroom for sexual intercourse. Ms. Vivares claimed she was shocked by the contents and approached the traders "who appeared to be laughing at her expense." Mr. Acton allegedly joked that Ms. Vivares wrote the note.

The lawsuit also alleges "sexual comments and/or innuendo were also used quite often in the workplace." Examples given include Mr. Acton telling Ms. Vivares that another female colleague needed a "big [expletive] black guy to fix her"; Mr. Acton approaching Ms. Vivares and saying "I'm soft now" and then pointing to his private area; and Lou Mouaket, the executive director of portfolio trading, wearing a blazer with "Fuck Bitches, Make Money" - a riff on lyrics from a Junior M.A.F.I.A song - embroidered on the inside. Mr. Mouaket did not reply to multiple requests for comment.

Ms. Vivares alleges "the bank either knew or ought to have known that such behaviour was occurring in the workplace in breach of the bank's workplace policies, and failed to take any steps to address and eliminate it." Her lawyers have requested the case be sent to trial.

The bank argues in its statement of defence that it did nothing wrong. "CIBC denies that [Ms.] Vivares was subject to a sexually poisoned and toxic work environment," it wrote, adding that the bank took "all reasonable steps to provide [her] with a work environment that was free from harassment, discrimination and/or bullying."

"Despite the obligation to report, the multiple resources available, and CIBC's commitment to protect employees from retaliation, [Ms.] Vivares did not report the alleged incidents of sexual assault, harassment, bullying or discrimination," the bank argues.

As for the incident involving Mr. Carter at the Christmas party, CIBC argued that "[Ms.] Vivares waited eight years to raise this allegation, immediately following the termination of her employment."

In its e-mailed statement to The Globe last week, CIBC said its commitment to treat everyone fairly "is clearly articulated in our code of conduct and antiharassment policies and is supported by robust policies and mandatory training. Any person who reports a potential breach of our code of conduct will be supported and protected."

When safety, privacy and freedom collide
Family members of adult patients are frustrated at being excluded from the treatment process and other relevant communications
Saturday, May 14, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S1

VANCOUVER -- All was normal when Eddie Young stopped by his mother's home two Fridays ago: He took the dog for a walk, had some food, caught up on Game of Thrones. He helped himself to a bowl of ice cream to satiate the sweet tooth he'd had since childhood.

The 38-year-old had fallen upon hard times recently, in part due to mental-health issues exacerbated by his father's death seven years ago, said his mother, Kim Young.

He used drugs, lived on limited means from disability cheques and alternated between sleeping at his mother's home and at those of friends. But Ms. Young had just secured an apartment for him; its refrigerator was already stocked.

On that day, everything seemed good.

But three days later, Mr. Young appeared at his mother's door again, beaten and dazed. Two days after that, he was dead.

The Fraser Health Authority is now reviewing the death of Mr. Young, who was admitted to Burnaby General Hospital for mental health reasons early this month and who died by suicide upon discharge two days later. Ms. Young says she told hospital staff her son was suicidal and had repeatedly requested they contact her before he was discharged, to no avail.

The death shines a light on the intersection of safety, privacy and personal freedoms in the treatment of people with mental illness. Family members of adult patients have expressed frustration at being excluded from the treatment process and other relevant communications. Care providers have insisted they are bound by privacy laws.

But mental health experts say those laws can be revised to allow more clarity and better care without privacy violations.

It is a complex issue that comes up with some regularity. An inquest into the deaths of three people who had recently left Abbotsford Regional Hospital, where they had been admitted for mental health issues, was scheduled to start next week, but has been postponed.

When Mr. Young showed up at his mother's house the second time, he told her he had been drugged and robbed on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, Ms. Young said. He was largely incoherent, and his arms were covered in bruises.

"I took one look at him and I knew that to be true," she said. "I said, 'Come on, we're going to the hospital right now.'" Ms. Young says her son was admitted to Burnaby General on a Monday morning. When she phoned the hospital the next day, hospital staff told her he had been assessed by a physician and she could pick him up. When she told them he had mental-health issues and had threatened to harm himself, hospital staff told her he would be kept under the Mental Health Act and assessed by a psychiatrist.

When she called back on Wednesday, Ms. Young said, staff told her he was being assessed and to phone back. Throughout, Ms. Young insists she made repeated requests for the hospital staff not to discharge her son without notifying her.

"I phoned back at 1 o'clock: 'How's my son?' " Ms. Young said.

"[They said:] 'Oh, the psychiatrist just looked at him. We gave him a bus ticket and he just left.' That was 1 o'clock; he was dead at 2. He took the bus from Burnaby hospital and went straight to the bridge and killed himself.'" These events could not be independently verified. The Fraser Health Authority, which operates Burnaby General, declined to comment on specifics of Mr. Young's case, saying only that a review is under way. However, chief medical health officer Victoria Lee has been quoted in news reports as saying the health authority's policy is to ask patients if they would like staff to notify their loved ones and that staff followed Mr. Young's wishes.

Ms. Young says it was clear her son was not of sound mind, so she should have been involved in his treatment and discharge.

Nigel Fisher, program medical director and regional department head of mental health and substance use at Fraser Health, said patients' outcomes tend to be better when family is involved, and that most patients consent to their involvement. However, when they do not, staff will disclose patient information to family only when there is an "immediate and significant risk" to the patient's health.

In other words: A person deemed fit for discharge is no longer considered an immediate or significant risk, which means family members are not typically notified if the patient does not want them to know.

Caution is important. For patients with an abusive home situation, for example, upholding such privacy is key. But the same rules create obstacles in other circumstances.

Dr. Fisher pointed to B.C.'s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), noting that while significant efforts are made to engage the patients and involve family when possible, "the rules for confidentiality are quite high."

However, Gerrit Clements, a long-time health lawyer and teacher who has advised B.C. health authorities on the Mental Health Act, believes the handling of patient information under FIP.

PA is not overly restrictive, just unclear.

Because it is open to interpretation, there will be inconsistencies across hospitals, Mr. Clements said.

The section that states that a public body may disclose personal information "so that the next of kin of an injured, ill or deceased individual may be contacted," for example, is currently interpreted as permission to notify family that a person is in hospital, Mr. Clements said. He said the law should be amended to clarify that the body can disclose detailed information if it will help family care for the patient.

"Also," Mr. Clements said, "I am sure that if the patient says no, disclosure does not happen."

Elizabeth Denham, B.C.'s information and privacy commissioner, confirmed that there is discretion in privacy law and said that common sense and good faith should guide the disclosure of personal information to family or other loved ones in compelling circumstances that affect a person's health and safety.

The call for improved family involvement in mental health cases is not new. After the 2008 suicide death of a Mission man diagnosed with schizophrenia at what was then Matsqui-Sumas-Abbotsford General Hospital, a coroner's inquest recommended legislative changes that would, at a psychiatrist's discretion, allow family members access to information, diagnosis and inclusion in the treatment plan.

Ana Novakovic, a program and development co-ordinator at the B.C. Schizophrenia Society, has said that while it is encouraging that such inquests are being held, "it does bring into question the usefulness of the inquest and recommendations if you can see the same ones over and over again without concrete changes being made."

No one from B.C.'s Ministry of Health or Ministry of Finance, which is responsible for FIPPA, was available to comment on past recommendations or potential changes to the legislation. However, the government does acknowledge that clarity is needed.

A statement provided by the Health Ministry's manager of media relations, Kristy Anderson, said the ministry is looking into streamlining B.C.'s health information policies.

"B.C. has about nine separate pieces of legislation and many regulations dealing with the protection and storage of health information. That makes for a confusing and complex system, more prone to misunderstandings and mistakes," the statement read. "In her report of April 2014, [Ms. Denham] also called for comprehensive information standards, with consistent rules for public bodies, such as hospitals, and private ones, such as doctor's offices. We're in the process of creating this framework."

At least one health authority has taken steps to clarify privacy rules regarding mental health patients in its own guidelines.

According to Vancouver Coastal Health's family involvement policy for mental health clients, care providers can share some information even if the client asks them not to. This includes information "on a need-to-know basis to prevent harm to a client's health or safety, or the health or safety of others."

If a clinical team cannot reach a decision, it can consult a riskmanagement department or an ethics committee, said Monica McAlduff, VCH's operations director of mental health and addictions for Vancouver Community.

As well, Ms. McAlduff said a working group of family and consumer representatives, mentalhealth teams, police and others developed a new mental-health and addiction "communication protocol" last fall.

This protocol includes check lists for a client's arrival, admission and discharge; the discharge check list includes providing emergency contact information and referrals for follow-up services to the client and the family, often an appointment date for a follow-up visit, and prescriptions to cover oral medications until then. There are quarterly audits to ensure this happens with every mental health discharge, Ms. McAlduff said.

Ms. Young, who is planning for her son's funeral next week , said she hopes his death draws attention to what she feels is a broken system. "They dropped the ball.

They most definitely dropped the ball," she said. "My one wish is that awareness gets out so that not one more person commits suicide."

Associated Graphic

Kim Young attends a vigil for her son, Eddie, an adult who was discharged from hospital without her knowledge and shortly thereafter killed himself.


Newsman was a 60 Minutes mainstay
Toronto-born correspondent, who retired last week after more than 60 years, excelled at in-depth investigations and lighter fare
New York Times News Service
Friday, May 20, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S6

Morley Safer, a CBS television correspondent who brought the horrors of the Vietnam War into North American living rooms in the 1960s and worked for the network's news magazine 60 Minutes for nearly 50 years, died Thursday in New York. He was 84.

CBS announced his death, saying he had been in declining health.

Mr. Safer was one of television's most celebrated journalists, a durable reporter familiar to millions on 60 Minutes, the Sunday night staple. By the time CBS announced his retirement on May 11, Mr. Safer had broadcast 919 60 Minutes reports, profiling international heroes and villains, exposing scams and corruption, giving voice to whistle-blowers and chronicling the trends of an ever-changing world.

Mr. Safer joined the program, created by Don Hewitt, in 1970, two years after its inception, and eventually outlasted the tenures of his colleagues Mike Wallace, Dan Rather, Harry Reasoner, Ed Bradley and Andy Rooney, becoming the senior star of a new repertory of reporters on what has endured for decades as the most popular and profitable news program on television.

But to an earlier generation of Americans, and to many colleagues and competitors, he was regarded as the best television journalist of the Vietnam era, an adventurer whose vivid reports exposed the nation to the hard realities of what the writer Michael J. Arlen, in the title of his 1969 book, called The Living Room War.

With David Halberstam of The New York Times, Stanley Karnow of The Washington Post and a few other print reporters, Mr. Safer shunned the censored, euphemistic Saigon press briefings they called the "5 o'clock follies" and got out with the troops. Mr. Safer and his Vietnamese cameraman, Ha Thuc Can, gave Americans powerful close-ups of firefights and search-and-destroy missions filmed hours before air time. The news team's helicopter was shot down once, but they were unhurt and undeterred.

In August, 1965, Mr. Safer covered an attack on the hamlet of Cam Ne in the Central Highlands, which intelligence had identified as a Viet Cong sanctuary, though it had been abandoned by the enemy before the Americans moved in. Mr. Safer's account depicted Marines, facing no resistance, firing rockets and machine guns into the hamlet; torching its thatched huts with flame throwers, grenades and cigarette lighters as old men and women begged them to stop; then destroying rice stores as the villagers were led away sobbing.

"This is what the war in Vietnam is all about," he reported.

"The Viet Cong were long gone.

The action wounded three women, killed one baby, wounded one Marine and netted four old men as prisoners. Today's operation is the frustration of Vietnam in miniature. To a Vietnamese peasant whose home means a lifetime of backbreaking labour, it will take more than presidential promises to convince him that we are on his side."

Broadcast on the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite and widely disseminated, the report and its images stunned Americans and were among the most famous television portraits of the war.

They provoked an angry outburst from President Lyndon B.

Johnson, who excoriated Frank Stanton, the president of CBS, in a midnight phone call and ordered Mr. Safer investigated as a possible communist. He was cleared.

For three weeks in 1967, Mr. Safer toured China, then in the throes of Mao Zedong's cultural revolution, posing as a Canadian tourist (he was born in Toronto) because Western reporters were banned. Then, as CBS London bureau chief, he covered a war in the Middle East, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, strife in Northern Ireland and civil war in Nigeria, where he was expelled for reporting thefts from relief supplies intended for Biafran refugees.

In 1970, he swapped the foreign correspondent's fatigues for the dapper suits and silk handkerchiefs of 60 Minutes, American TV's first news and entertainment hybrid with a magazine format, and was soon contributing celebrity interviews and stylish essays to complement the investigative exposés of Mr. Wallace, the veteran CBS inquisitor, who died in April, 2012.

Over the next four decades, Mr. Safer profiled writers, politicians, opera stars, homeless people and the unemployed, and produced features on shoddy building practices, strip mining, victims of bureaucracy, waterfront crime, Swiss bank accounts, heart attack treatments, problems of sleeplessness, cultural nabobs and other subjects, many suggested by staffers and viewers.

In contrast to the often abrasive Mr. Wallace, Mr. Safer produced witty pieces on the lighter side of life: the game of croquet, Tupperware parties, children's beauty pageants, experiments to communicate with apes and oil-rich Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, "a place," as he put it, "with free housing, free furniture, free colour television, free electricity, free telephones, no property taxes, no sales taxes - no taxes, period."

His serious journalism included a 1983 investigative report in which he cited new evidence that helped free Lenell Geter, a black engineer wrongly convicted of an armed robbery and sentenced to life in prison in Texas. Mr. Safer's report was not the first on the case, but it drew national attention that led to its official reconsideration.

In the studio or reporting on the road - he often travelled more than 300,000 kilometres a year for 60 Minutes - Mr. Safer was an affable interviewer, asking questions the man in the street might if he had the chance. He was well aware of television's power to exploit emotions and was typically moderate, if persistent, in his commentaries.

Still, Mr. Safer sometimes raised hackles, as when he questioned the basic premise of abstract art in a 1993 report, calling much of it "worthless junk" destined for "the trash heap of art history."

The art world recoiled, but Mr. Safer, who described himself as a "Sunday painter," stood his ground.

Suave, casual, impeccably tailored, with a long, craggy face, receding grey hair and a wide, easy smile, Mr. Safer was something of a Renaissance man. He baked pies and cakes (but swore he did not eat them), played pétanque (a French version of bocce), pounded out scripts on a manual typewriter long after computers became ubiquitous, and painted watercolours of the interiors of countless hotel and motel rooms he had occupied.

In 1980, he even had an art show at a SoHo gallery.

Morley Safer was born in Toronto on Nov. 8, 1931, the son of Max and Anna Cohn Safer. His father owned an upholstery shop. He studied at the University of Western Ontario, was a reporter for two small newspapers in Ontario and worked for Reuters in London before joining the CBC in 1955. He cited the writing of Ernest Hemingway as one of the early influences that led him to become a foreign correspondent.

For the next three years, he covered conflicts in the Middle East and Cyprus and the Algerian revolution for CBC. In 1958, he produced and appeared on CBC News Magazine. Sent to CBC's London bureau in 1961, he covered major events in Europe, the Middle East and Africa in the early 1960s.

Mr. Safer was hired to work at the CBS London bureau in 1964 without even applying for the job, according to the network.

When one of Mr. Safer's CBC colleagues sent a demo tape to CBS seeking work, the news executives spotted Mr. Safer in a roundtable segment and offered him the position instead. The following year, Mr. Safer went to Vietnam and soon began filing reports that changed the way many people perceived the war.

In 1968, he married Jane Fearer, an anthropologist and author, who survives him. He is also survived by their daughter, Sarah Safer; a brother and sister; and three grandchildren. He had homes in Manhattan and Chester, Conn.

In 1989, Mr. Safer went back to Vietnam for a 60 Minutes report and interviewed people whose lives had been touched by the war. He also wrote a bestseller, Flashbacks: On Returning to Vietnam (1990), with a chapter on Pham Xuan An, a Time magazine war correspondent who had secretly spied for Hanoi. Mr. Safer held no grudges. "He has done his best to follow his conscience," he wrote.

Mr. Safer won many awards, including Emmys, Peabodys and the George Polk Award for career achievement. In recent years, he had worked part time for 60 Minutes. Still, his 2009 profile of the legendary Vogue editor Anna Wintour, who rarely gave interviews, was the talk of the fashion world.

When he retired, CBS broadcast an hour-long special, Morley Safer: A Reporter's Life, in which he revealed that he had not really liked being on television.

"It makes me uneasy," he said.

"It is not natural to be talking to a piece of machinery. But the money is very good."

To submit an I Remember:

Send us a memory of someone we have recently profiled on theObituaries page. Please include I Remember in the subject field.

Associated Graphic

From left, Morley Safer with 60 Minutes colleagues Dan Rather, Mike Wallace and Don Hewitt on Nov. 6, 1975. Mr. Safer, a mainstay of 60 Minutes for nearly 50 years, died on May 19.


Mr. Safer soaks his feet while on assignment in South Vietnam in 1965.


Saturday, May 21, 2016

Can a rape joke ever be funny? According to a troupe of sexual assault survivors currently touring the country with a comedy show, it can be that - and cathartic too. Here they talk to Zosia Bielski about the power of being ready to laugh
Friday, May 20, 2016 – Print Edition, Page L1

Can you be a funny rape victim?

Emma Cooper and Heather Jordan Ross are setting out to find out. The women, Vancouver comedians who both experienced sexual assault, are co-producers of Rape Is Real and Everywhere: A Comedy Show, a controversial stand-up tour hosted by sexual-assault victims telling "rape jokes."

With their provocative tour now crisscrossing Canada, Ross, 26, and Cooper, 30, are reappropriating the vile rape joke from drunken frat boys and putting it into the hands of survivors. It's a rethink of the rape joke as a serious narrative tool.

"There have always been rape jokes and there have always been survivors and now they are coming together," says Ross, who was violently sexually assaulted in Burnaby, B.C., by a co-worker she had been sleeping with.

Ross now "jokes it out" on stage as therapy: "When you get to say, 'This happened. I didn't deserve it. Now I'm ready to laugh,' that's empowering."

The show underscores how straitjacketed sexual-assault victims remain in the courts of law and public opinion. Victims who don't fit the mould of solemn, scared and seemingly ashamed are still distrusted. As we learned through the Jian Ghomeshi trial, unconventional accusers remain especially challenging.

And so the comedians quipping about their attacks in Rape Is Real and Everywhere have taken a special leap of faith. ("If you don't laugh at these jokes, I got raped for nothing," one male survivor teased the audience.)

Cooper and Ross spoke with The Globe about society's insistence on "perfect victims," and the darkly cathartic power of a well-told rape joke.

How can you "joke it out" about rape, as you put it?

Heather Jordan Ross: If you're a regular human, after an experience happens you think, how am I going to share this with the people I know? When you're a comedian your first thought is, how do I make this funny? For me, it was one of the most natural things in the world. It's actually a relief to joke it out.

Give me a sample.

Emma Cooper: My rapist left a poem on my bicycle beforehand. In the poem he misspelled the word "beautiful" with two L's. I need a higher standard of rapist. My rapist is an idiot.

How does cracking jokes about your assaults help you?

Cooper: A joke isn't a joke until you take it in front of an audience, and an experience like this is less real in your own mind until you communicate it with other people. It's helped me process it. It's made me talk about it with my family. It's opened dialogue with other people who have shared their story. After talking about it with different people, I understood that someone felt more entitled to my body than I had felt entitled to say no.

Ross: Working on the show has made me constantly confront the assumptions I have about my own sexual assault, and about sexual assault in general. I used to be a journalist, and after reporting my assault to police, I started calling it "my alleged assault."

Which makes no sense because I was there and I know that it happened.

One of the biggest things here is reiterating that you didn't deserve it. For me, it took a therapist and a police officer saying, "That shouldn't have happened to you." If I get to go on stage and say, "Yup. Still didn't deserve that," it's comforting.

When you get to tell the story, you get to own the story. When you don't get to tell the story, the only narrative is your rapist's narrative, which is that nothing happened.

What is the formula for a good rape joke, then?

Ross: The formula is thinking your joke through. If your joke makes a rapist laugh and makes survivors sick to their stomach, what kind of jokes are you telling?

Cooper: Does your joke punch up at the issues? Or does your joke punch down at the person who's been hurt?

Should anyone but survivors ever tell them?

Ross: I know survivors who have made some bad rape jokes and I know non-survivors who have made some good rape jokes.

Cooper: As comedians, we're firm that anyone can tell any kind of a joke. But you've got to take responsibility and think about your audience. People don't remember that there are survivors in probably every audience that they've ever told jokes to.

Why are young, male comedians so drawn to the awful rape joke?

Ross: It's the same reason the punchline to the next joke has to be about cancer and the next one has to be about taking a dump. They're all things your mom told you not to talk about when you were 8, and now's your chance. They want to be edgy.

I'm not even offended any more; it's just boring.

These guys also think it doesn't really happen - that you're just as likely to be a victim of sexual assault as you are to be struck by a toilet that came from outer space.

Cooper: Some people have never had to think about the experience of sexual assault. They operate in this bubble where they're not impacted. If you've never had someone disclose sexual assault to you - I mean, you're really missing out. [Laughter] .

The Jian Ghomeshi trial drove home that being irreverent will ding your credibility as a sexualassault accuser. Lucy DeCoutere didn't win any points with the judge for joking with a reporter that she was to sexual-assault awareness what David Beckham is to Armani underwear. Kathryn Borel was recently eviscerated for a years-old Canadaland interview that suggested she'd occasionally been "inappropriate" and "foul-mouthed" while working at the CBC. In a draft of his courtroom apology to Borel, Ghomeshi reportedly blamed her for her "jocular manner" at work, Borel told Maclean's. Profane victims do not sit well with observers, who expect victims to be absolutely serious people. Why can't a victim be funny?

Cooper: With sexual assault, we have the narrative that someone comes out of the alley and attacks you. And we've also prescribed the response. As a victim, you should feel shame, tell two close friends and immediately report to the police. Those who diverge in their responses - including using humour to process it - you're probably not a victim and you might be lying. Our system is built on the wrong assumptions about how rape plays out.

Ross: I reported my assault to police and did a show that night. I said, "Well, here's what happened, everybody." It wasn't funny, for the record, and the audience was not having it. But people are going to grieve the way they grieve. Not everyone processes this with a single tear falling through the centre of their eye while quietly whispering to a police officer.

People want a pure, blue-eyed Bambi victim. If you have a personality, you probably had something to do with it.

Are you getting pushback from other survivors over this project?

Ross: It's just started. We've gained a nemesis of sorts in one city, who e-mailed and said she'd do anything in her power to stop this. I do respect that not everybody wants to joke about it. Most survivors have said they don't want to laugh about it but they're glad we're processing this.

Some people have said "rape's never funny," but I don't think they're reading the second part here: rape jokes, by survivors.

We're survivors, surviving.

You also include male victims of sexual assault on your tour.

Ross: We've got a male survivor for every show except for one where we had no submissions, in Calgary. Male survivors go through a double whammy: They're raped and then they're told that they can't be raped.

Cooper: You can be mindful of the statistics [85 per cent of victims reporting sexual offences to police are women, according to Statistics Canada], but this show gets back to people telling their own stories. You're coming back to humans, first.

One might assume that survivors' rape jokes would be preachy and PC. Not quite.

Ross: It's a comedy show. That's something we've been really firm on. This is not a TED Talk.

Cooper: The show walks the line between social justice and free speech. We're not going to coddle you, but we will be respectful of you. We can't promise that you won't be offended. If it's so PC that no one will be offended by it, you're not really creating a lot of change.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Associated Graphic


Comedian Emma Cooper says joking about her own sexual assault has helped her process it.


Philanthropist changed the face of Montreal
In addition to donating to hospitals and universities, he gave 420 artworks to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, plus funds
Special to The Globe and Mail
Monday, May 16, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S8

About a week before her father died, Sari Hornstein took him on a nostalgic driving tour of Montreal, his beloved adopted city, pointing out familiar spots steeped in memories and made better by his entrepreneurial acumen and philanthropic spirit.

They drove past the Duc de Lorraine pastry shop on Côte des Neiges - one of the first he visited as a new immigrant from Europe - for his favourite millefeuille pastry and where he and his wife celebrated a recent wedding anniversary with a decadent breakfast.

They moseyed along Sherbrooke Street then up to Queen Mary Road, where they stopped for cappuccino and croissants.

One building on their route was particularly meaningful - the new pavilion at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts on Bishop Street scheduled to open Nov. 5 and bearing his name.

The Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion for Peace is the product of one of many generous gifts this extraordinary couple gave to the city's art, education and health-care sectors over the past six decades. During that last drive through the city, however, it was clear Mr. Hornstein would not live to see the opening of the new pavilion.

He saw this process unfold, knowing that it would come to fruition and that helped him to pass peacefully," Sari said. "He'll be there in spirit."

Michal Hornstein died at home nine days after that drive, on April 25 at the age of 95, leaving his wife, Renata, to inaugurate the building this fall without her beloved partner of more than 70 years.

Mr. Hornstein was a brilliant businessman who grabbed life with both hands and lived it to the max - and it was a life filled with "horseshoes and brass balls," his son Norbert Hornstein said.

Born Sept. 17, 1920, in Tarnow, Poland, and raised in Krakow, Mr.

Hornstein was the second child of Moshe Itzhak and Rikel (née Honig) Hornstein. He graduated from that city's business school and was 19 when Germany invaded his country. He was captured by the Nazis and loaded onto a train headed for the notorious concentration camp Auschwitz. But before the train reached its destination, a gutsy Mr. Hornstein jumped off and spent the rest of the war hiding in forests in Czechoslovakia, living in Budapest and finally, taking refuge in a safe house in Bratislava in 1944.

There he met Renata Witelson, another Polish Jew nine years his junior, who was fleeing persecution. After the war, they moved to Rome and shared a villa with Renata's three aunts and uncles.

They married in 1947 - a ceremony for which Mr. Hornstein arrived a few hours late because he was negotiating a business deal. "He was opportunistic in the best sense of the word," his daughter, Sari, said. "He grabbed opportunities whenever they came along."

During their five years in Italy, the couple began collecting art because, as Renata Hornstein tells it, their walls were empty.

At the time, my father was the kind of guy for whom if one is good, 10 is better," Sari said.

"Mom was more: 'I would rather have one that is of the finest quality than to buy 10.' So they compromised and got 10 of the best quality."

Both Norbert and Sari credit their mother with having the eye for art and their father for having the business acumen to pay a fair price. Together they made a formidable couple, amassing a collection of art that they chose to donate in order to share their passion with others. Perhaps their most notable single gift, worth about about $75-million, was a collection of 70 Old Masters paintings given to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 2012.

Their marriage succeeded through compromise and recognizing each other's strengths, Renata Hornstein said in an interview via Skype.

I was the the neck and he was the head," she said.

From his youth as an Orthodox Jew in Poland, to a successful entrepreneur in cosmopolitan Montreal, Mr. Hornstein travelled vast cultural, as well as physical, distances.

Orthodox Jews are not inclined to look at pictures," his son, Norbert, a professor at the University of Maryland, said. "So the whole idea that he should become an art collector constituted a long journey for him emotionally, culturally and intellectually."

After five years in Italy, the couple immigrated to Canada, settling in Montreal, where Mr.

Hornstein established his own real estate development company, Federal Construction Ltd.

They had their two children, Norbert and Sari, and lived in a duplex on Lacombe Avenue, near the University of Montreal. As a father, Mr. Hornstein was strict and had high expectations of his children but they knew they were loved unconditionally. He was brutally honest and called a spade a spade, they said.

Sari Hornstein remembers one particular moment in her life when she was coming to terms with the possibility that her son might have autism.

My father and I talked and he said, 'I don't think he's going to snap out of it. Be prepared,' "she recalled. The diagnosis was later confirmed.

Dad saw things clearly as they really were and encouraged others to see them that way, too."

The children were sent to summer camp along with an itinerary of their parents' travel schedule and addresses of where to send camp news. And while the elder Hornsteins weren't sporty, they made sure their children learned to ski and attend hockey games like their friends.

Despite their parents' horrific early years in Europe, Norbert Hornstein says none of that trauma was passed on to the next generation, which has often been the case with Holocaust survivors. "It was horrible, but they were non-victims," he said. "It was sort of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid more than Shoah.

They were not in concentration camps, they weren't starved to death, they were running and were always one step ahead and succeeded."

The couple gave generously to several of Montreal's hospitals, including the General, the Jewish, Hôpital Notre-Dame and the Heart Institute, as well as to Concordia and McGill universities and the University of Montreal.

Clarence Epstein, senior director of urban and cultural affairs at Concordia, credits Mr. Hornstein as the pragmatist needed to bring money to the arts. Mr.

Hornstein, in one of his many speeches, told a joke about a journalist asking the director of a literary museum who deserves to take credit for the museum's existence. The director replied, "Shakespeare, Molière and Schwartz. Schwartz wrote the cheque."

Mr. Hornstein and his wife are perhaps best known for putting the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts on the map - donating close to 420 works of art, as well as providing funds to purchase another 23 works. They also helped pay for the restoration of the 1912 pavilion on Sherbrooke Street which was named after them in 2000.

The new Pavilion for Peace, set to open this fall, will be the fifth building in the museum complex, housing the collection of works by Dutch and Flemish masters donated by the Hornsteins in 2012, as well as the largest educational complex in a North American art museum.

Mr. Hornstein served on the museum's board of trustees since 1970.

In a statement after his death, the chairman of the board's museum said they had lost a wise adviser and great patron.

For many years, we have had the extraordinary good fortune of benefiting from the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Hornstein to enrich our national heritage," Brian Levitt said. "Without their incredible magnanimity, the museum would never have been able to even imagine acquiring such valuable works."

Mr. Hornstein received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012, was promoted to officer of the Order of Canada in 2013 and named a grand officier of the Ordre national du Québec the same year.

He loved dark chocolate, welltailored suits, Madama Butterfly and scalding hot soup. By all accounts, he had a wicked sense of humour, was a crack negotiator and emanated charisma and power. He could always tell when someone was trying to con him and always expected the worst, but was happy when things turned out well, his son said.

He helped out friends when he could, expecting nothing in return.

Isn't it nice to think there are pockets of people like this in the world all over the place?" he said.

"There are some that are bigger and some smaller but they're having this huge and wonderful impact on the world in which they live and they're making it a better place for the people around them or at least a more interesting place."

Mr. Hornstein leaves his wife, Renata; daughter, Sari; son, Norbert; and three grandchildren.

Associated Graphic

Michal Hornstein began collecting art with his wife while living in Italy. Their impressive inventory included a $75-million collection of 70 Old Masters paintings given to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 2012. NATACHA GYSIN

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The kingmaker of Canadian cinema
As the first director of the federal government's film-funding agency, he helped nurture a generation of filmmakers
Special to The Globe and Mail
Wednesday, May 18, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S6

Michael Spencer loved the movies. Canada has a film industry today in large part due to the vision and persistence of this modest English-born birdwatcher who, in the 1960s, grasped the special problems confronting filmmakers in a U.S.dominated industry. Somehow, he put forth enough optimism, conviction and daring to encourage a generation of talent to stay here and tell our stories.

He never stopped working to make his adopted country into a cultural entity with not only its own music, drama and literature but above all, its own popular film arts.

He was the first executive director of the Canadian Film Development Corporation, later renamed Telefilm, a government body that provided seed money for Canadian productions. He was also the first Canadian to be a judge at the Cannes film festival.

Many Canadian directors and producers who went on to success - Claude Jutra, David Cronenberg, Gilles Carle, Paul Almond, Donald Shebib, Robert Lantos - couldn't have made their first films without his help.

Mr. Spencer died on April 20 in Montreal, of old age, according to his wife, Maqbool Spencer. For the past three years he had been wheelchair-bound because he suffered from peripheral neuropathy, a condition that affects balance and leads to falls.

"Michael Spencer was the kingmaker of Canadian film," recalls Mr. Lantos, now owner of Serendipity Point Films, whose first film was In Praise of Older Women. "As the head of what was then called the CFDC, he was the one who could pull the trigger or the plug on the financing of a movie. The $300,000 that his CFDC invested in In Praise of Older Women [30 per cent of the budget], made it all happen. For some reason, Michael decided to have faith in a 26-year-old aspiring filmmaker without real production experience."

The CFDC never provided more than a small portion of the total amount needed to make a picture. A couple of weeks before principal photography was to start, Mr. Lantos recalls that he lost a large part of the rest of his funding. "Michael stuck by me while my partner Stephen Roth and I stitched the pieces back together. He was a cultured nationalist with major cojones."

Michael Desbois Spencer was born in London on Nov. 9, 1919, into a well-to-do family, the son of Maurice Charles and Helen Beatrice Spencer. His father was a partner in Price Waterhouse and young Michael grew up with chauffeurs and maids. He was sent to Rugby School and then St. John's College, Oxford.

At 19, he went to visit his aunt and cousins on Quadra Island in the passage between Vancouver Island and the mainland.

While he was on this island idyl, on Sept. 3, 1939, Britain and France declared war on Germany.

Looking for a fast route home, he went back to New York, where his ship had landed just a few months before. Since all sailings had been cancelled and his father advised him to stay put, he spent the winter in New York, working part time at the Museum of Modern Art.

Here he heard that John Grierson had recently arrived in Ottawa and was setting up the National Film Board of Canada. Mr. Spencer immediately decided to go back to Canada in search of employment.

He became an editor and cameraman, at a salary of $25 a week, and worked on several documentaries before enlisting in the Canadian armed forces; he was sent to England where he was appointed to the army's film unit, whose purpose was to show the Canadian army in action in Britain, Italy and Germany. The Canadian material was sent to New York to be added to the U.S. newsreels.

During this period, he met and married Jean Holland Shum, of the Canadian Women's Army Corps. They had two daughters but the marriage ended in divorce. Ms. Shum died in 1995.

Back in Canada after the war, he restarted his documentary career at the NFB but his mentor, Mr. Grierson, was gone and things had changed. The NFB moved from Ottawa to Montreal, where it became evident that the solemn documentaries Mr. Grierson championed had had their day.

A new generation of talented young Canadian filmmakers wanted to make story films, if only they could find the money. He was on a committee of the National Film Board that met every month for two years and finally resulted in legislation, introduced by secretary of state Judy LaMarsh in 1967, to establish the CFDC with an initial budget of $10-million.

The younger generation of Canadian directors and producers were euphoric, but neither they nor the politicians had reckoned with the power of the Motion Picture Association of America and its head, Jack Valenti, who saw his job as squashing any attempt at creating a local film industry in countries where Hollywood movies were distributed.

The theatre chains were linked to the major Hollywood studios, which sucked all the profits made from screening films out of the country. Screen time for showing Canadian films was difficult to obtain, as were profits.

Throughout his career, Mr. Spencer kept trying to persuade whichever secretary of state he worked under to introduce a quota for screen time allotted to Canadian films, but none agreed to such legislation.

In 1972, after the end of his first marriage, he met Maqbool Jung, a young Indian journalist from Hyderabad, at a Toronto dinner party. In his memoirs, Hollywood North: Creating the Canadian Motion Picture Industry (written with Suzan Ayscough), he wrote that when he began talking to Maqbool, the communication was electric, "and I've been talking to her ever since."

But in his working life, things were bumpy.

In the House of Commons questions were raised accusing him of funding Quebec filmmakers to make pornography. In English Canada, David Cronenberg's first feature, Shivers, in 1975, about an epidemic of parasites that transform people into sex fiends, made critics ask if we needed a Canadian film industry to make such a repellent work.

Mr. Spencer refused to play the censor, pointing out that every province had a censorship board.

Canadian films were expected to return some of their profits to the fund, to keep the CFDC going. By 1975, there were 75 titles that were returning money but only an average of $50,000 each. It was not enough to sustain an industry.

The film fund's budget rose steadily, in large part owing to his persuasiveness. By 2003, when Mr. Spencer wrote his memoir, Hollywood North, the industry received public subsidies of $300-million each year. "This is the price of keeping Canadian culture alive," he argued, "and it's worth every penny."

After he'd put in 10 years at the helm, the axe fell in 1978, when then secretary of state John Roberts decided to replace him with Michael McCabe, a man with no film experience.

Though no longer head of the CFDC, Mr. Spencer continued his association with the industry as the owner of Film Finance Canada, a completion bonding firm, which insured producers against catastrophic events that could result in a film not getting finished. He was a member of several industry associations and his advice and experience was sought by both government and industry.

Paul Gratton, now director of programming at the Whistler Film Festival, recalls that Mr. Spencer served with him on the board of the Academy of Canadian Cinema in the 1980s. "He seemed to enjoy regaling me with stories of the early days of the CFDC. [He was] a gentleman, who always seemed quietly bemused by the political shenanigans that he had lived through. I believe he was a true pioneer, and the spiritual godfather of the much larger and much more successful Canadian film industry that we have today."

Many honours came Mr. Spencer's way, including the Order of Canada in 1989, a Genie Award for lifetime achievement, an honorary doctorate from Concordia University and induction into the Canadian Film and TV Hall of Fame.

A birder who made lists of feathered creatures beginning at the age of 14, he was director of the Quebec Society for the Protection of Birds. He supported the publication of the Bird Atlas of Canada and before his death, completed the memoir The Accidental Bird Watcher.

He leaves his wife, Maqbool, and daughters Christina Ruth and Theresa Jane Spencer.


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Associated Graphic

Michael Spencer aided in the funding of Canadian films and fought against the monopoly of Hollywood movies and the skepticism of filmgoers at home. 'This is the price of keeping Canadian culture alive,' he said.


Saturday, May 21, 2016

Every year, Canadians turn $31-billion worth of edible food into garbage, squandering the labour and natural resources that went into producing it. Corey Mintz learns how one organization keeps millions of pounds of food out of the green bin - and offers ideas for the rest of us
Wednesday, May 18, 2016 – Print Edition, Page L1

I know a couple, let's call them Lily and Zach. On Friday nights they lounge while their daughter plays: With cookbooks spread out and online recipes bookmarked, Zach and Lily plan out meals for the entire week.

On Saturdays, the couple shops for the meals they've planned, plus a few snacks. By the time that Sunday night rolls around, they've got a a number of meals prepped, and most lunches set. The week's eating is a source of delight and deliciousness, not stress.

Yes, I hate them too. Lily and Zach are nutty and uptight, giving themselves one more chore that subtracts from free time that could be spent watching Game of Thrones.

But here's the twist. Zach and Lily don't buy food they don't need. Because of their routine, they rarely throw whole, unused produce into their green bin.

The other option, more popular in Canada, is to buy food just to let it rot. Of the $31-billion worth of food that Canadians waste every year, 47 per cent is in the home.

As a guest, I would never look in someone's medicine cabinet, but I always look in the fridge (consequently, I am rarely invited anywhere). Whoever said that the eyes are the window to the soul never peered into the vegetable crisper of a loved one to see browning romaine, withered grapes and mummified carrots, all of it untouched since purchase.

In a world where the phrase "epic fail" is far overused, this is a tragedy of monumental proportions.

On a professional level, I have seen food waste that makes me want to cry: hundreds of pounds of green beans rotting in the sun at the Ontario Food Terminal because fresher beans came in before these could be sold; asparagus peels tossed in the restaurant kitchen trash because rich diners can't stomach the skin of a vegetable; a flat of less-thanperfect cantaloupes left in the alley behind a supermarket because there is no space on the retail floor.

In a country where one in eight families lacks reliable access to affordable, nutritious food (a situation experts dub being "food insecure"), wasting this much food, not to mention water, gas and electricity used to grow, ship and store this garbage-tobe is a crime.

That's not hyperbole: Earlier this year, France actually made food waste a crime , passing a law requiring supermarkets to partner with food donation agencies. Grocers who destroy or throw away edible food risk racking up fines of 75,000 (about $110,000).

Canada lacks similar legislation, which is why we have food rescue operations such as Moisson Montreal, Quest Food Exchange in Vancouver and Second Harvest, which collects and distributes food to more than 200 social agencies in Toronto.

Soliciting food donations takes up a lot of time. In the Second Harvest office, two shaggy dogs named Dyrby and Kramer scamper around while staffers call farmers and companies such as Loblaws and Maple Leaf, soliciting donations of food that has been overbought or overproduced, looking to redirect it before it becomes waste.

"I've seen Loblaws crush skids of yogurt," says director of communications Cori MacPhee, describing a machine like the one in Goldfinger that pressed the car into a small cube, but in this case with gallons of yogurt oozing out the sides. "It's amazing what grocery stores consider unusable."

Nutrient-rich fresh foods are in scarce supply compared with shelf stable goods, a problem faced by every food insecurity agency (including, but not limited to, food banks). The food that Second Harvest distributes is 58 per cent fresh ingredients.

To keep perishable food waste at 3 per cent, nothing stays in the produce walk-in fridge for more than 48 hours.

"I often say we run a logistics company," executive director Debra Lawson says. "Because it's really about transferring very precious cargo, picking it up and delivering it, in a very short span of time."

Every day at 4:30 a.m. the warehouse manager looks at the meat and produce supply, plus flats of donated crackers, juice, potatoes and canned soup, and divides the day's dispersals among its trucks.

At 8 a.m. one Monday, I head out on the road with Hektor Habili, a former driver for the Red Cross in Albania. Our truck pulls to the curb in front of Across Boundaries, an outreach centre near Dufferin Street. and Eglinton Street W. that provides mental health and addiction services for racialized communities. Habili kills the engine and rolls open the back of the truck.

Most of the food that Second Harvest redirects - nine million pounds each year - is at the distribution level, from farms, factories or supermarkets. That could mean up to 50,000 pounds of potatoes in one haul (since 2013, Ontario farmers are able to receive a tax deduction for 25 per cent of the value of donated food).

Often, it comes down to one individual, like Habili, making quick decisions to make sure good food gets eaten instead of thrown out. Habili knows his route, knows each organization and what they can or can't use.

He decides how much to dispense at each stop.

Second Harvest clients take what's available. It's good, fresh food - although sometimes lacking packaging, or close to its expiration date - but kitchen managers at each organization are tasked with figuring out how to make meals of unpredictable ingredients. "That's what I've got for you this week," Habili softly declares as he hands a case of yogurt to Across Boundaries employee Andrew Abraham, who also unloads cases of lettuce and hot dog buns and sacks of potatoes.

Restaurants are more of a lost cause than the organizations that Second Harvest works with.

At night, the waste bins lined up outside of restaurants might also stir tears.

The majority of restaurant kitchens I've been in don't compost. Even for chefs who want to, it's hard finding a spot for one more bin in the kitchen, where there's often less free space than legroom in an Air Canada coach seat. And most owners just can't do it, since the additional cost (restaurants already pay private companies for waste disposal because city services don't come daily) would be one more dent in a thin profit margin.

It's easy to point fingers, but home cooks, too, waste far more food (and money) than is necessary. The consumer habit of weekly shopping makes sense for non-perishable staples. But buying produce once a week almost certainly dooms too much of it to go unused before it wilts.

"We go into a grocery store and everything's so beautiful and we're seduced, by the most attractive asparagus and incredible tomatoes," Lawson says. "So we're overbuying. And when you bring it home, it sits there." I get it - not everyone has the time to shop multiple times a week. But what you buy and how you plan to use it can greatly reduce your amount of food waste. (Tip/Caveat: learning to love cabbage could kill two birds with one stone.)

It's a great start that Loblaws has recently begun selling "Naturally Imperfect" produce, offering aesthetically challenged fruits and vegetables at a discount. It's far better than perfectly edible food being thrown out, and it raises awareness for consumers, about what food actually looks like (that is, not uniform). But consumers need to step up, too.

Cooking like a chef isn't about exotic garnishes and fancy plating. It's about knowing how to make something good out of what you have available and planning the use of your resources based on their degradability.

It's knowing that spinach turns slimy after a few days, but cabbage is good all week. It's using quickly decaying basil on Monday and saving robust parsley for Friday. It's knowing that wilted kale tastes no different when it's cooked. It's buying only the food you need or having a designated weeknight when you cook whatever ingredients are left in the fridge. At Lawson's house, they call it a "this and that" dinner.

So who are the real monsters?

Is it yuppies Lily and Zach, for making a family activity of meal planning? Or is it the shopper who buys asparagus and broccoli every week, just to throw them in the compost?

Associated Graphic

Second Harvest's warehouse distributes nine million pounds of food each year to more than 200 social agencies in Toronto.


Wild thing, I think I love you
Chef Michael Hunter's game-focused restaurant rises above the standard Canadiana backwoods offerings
Saturday, May 14, 2016 – Print Edition, Page M2

Earlier this year, the chef Michael Hunter appeared shirtless in a promotional photo for a restaurant industry convention. In his hands, he cradled the skull of a seven-point buck - a souvenir from one of his first kills. He's been photographed clutching his crossbow in a home kitchen (this was at a charity dinner, apparently), and a few weeks ago, in his chef's clogs and a fitted black T-shirt, gripping the neck of an enormous wild turkey tom that he'd managed to blast from a meadow in Caledon at dawn.

At Antler, the game-focused restaurant Mr. Hunter opened last fall on Dundas Street West, the chef and his kitchen staff wear camouflage-patterned aprons. You can sometimes see the inked black tines of an image of that buck's skull, which is tattooed across his chest and shoulders, poking from the collar of his shirt.

Credit where it's due: Mr. Hunter, who maintains an artfully stubbled face and the easy-grinning countenance of the fireman-calendar-model next door, is highly adept at personal branding. (Overheard at the bar there recently, in a loud and woozy alto: "Any time I go to a place where the chef has tats, I know I'm going to get great food.") Nothing about Antler veers far from message. Its cocktail list includes a scotch and maple syrup concoction called "Smoke Barrel" (that's woodsman lingo for a type of muzzle-loading rifle), and another drink called the "Blood Fashioned." Mr. Hunter refers to himself in publicity as "The Hunter Chef," and tags his Instagram posts with the names of rifle and camo companies, including #remingtonarms and @mossyoak.

I should admit now that none of the above gave me confidence in advance of my first visit to his restaurant. With few exceptions, it is illegal to serve wild game in restaurants in Ontario; Antler's venison, wild boar, duck and bison are all sourced from farms.

The whole hunter-gatherer schtick, while clever, therefore seemed moot, and in a city that's lousy with cedar trees, I'll never be able to read the words "foraged cedar" without chortling loudly and rolling my eyes.

There was also the matter of that shirtless photo. When I picture the chefs who are making my dinner, I generally like to picture them fully clothed.

Yet to my great surprise, Antler is a very good restaurant, with a menu that extends well beyond the expected Ye Olde Canadian Backwoods Fare. While Mr. Hunter serves ash-crusted venison chop and a burger made from a blend of boar, deer and bison - both of these items fairly typical of the well-trod rustic-Canadiana genre - his menu also includes the likes of an excellent venisonstuffed Jamaican patty and a stellar duck-heart skewer that is among the best grilled-meat dishes in town.

Mr. Hunter, who is 31, grew up in Caledon. He took his first cooking job at a roadside diner at the age of 13, he said. He moved up from there to a country club, cooking weddings and banquets, and then to a fancy country inn.

Before long, he moved to Toronto, where he spent four years at Sassafraz, in Yorkville.

He became chef de cuisine at the troubled Scarpetta and then executive chef at the Financial District's Reds. When it came time to open his own place, he thought he should marry his chef skills with his love of hunting and wild foods. There is commitment behind the branding, too. The chef made 40 litres of maple syrup for the restaurant this spring at a friend's farm in Caledon, and lately he's been foraging two mornings a week for wild leeks, garlic mustard, watercress and nettles, he said.

Antler is a partnership with Jody Shapiro, a documentary filmmaker (among his credits, the well-received Burt's Buzz and Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg, for which he was a producer) and sous chef who makes Antler's breads, gyoza and pastas. The room is small and crowded but reasonably comfortable, with a busy bar and a chef's counter that overlooks the kitchen. On the raw brick wall are antler mounts that Mr. Hunter decorated with ferns.

In the kitchen, he has a light touch. A few months ago, the chef served slices of B.C. sockeye salmon that he'd smoked inhouse, set over a crisp, perfectly turned-out potato rosti, and topped with Spanish herring roe and crème fraiche. This wasn't a new idea, but a delicious one, executed perfectly. More recently, he served clear, delicate venison consommé from a French press, enriched with wild mushrooms, radishes, chilies and herbs.

He put wild mushrooms to use as well in superb tarte tatins that he built on buttery house puff pastry and filled out with dark caramelized onions and the sour snap of walnut and sorrel pesto.

But those mushrooms were their absolute best when skewered and grilled over charcoal and then bathed, yakitori-style, with sweet, complexly savoury tare sauce. Antler does three types of yakitori: mushroom, chicken and duck heart. Eating them in that order is an exercise in incredulity, because it's hard to believe the chicken can be even better than the mushroom or that the duck hearts can be better than the chicken. The duck hearts had me wondering why duck hearts don't appear on every city menu. They were ridiculously tender and juicy, and tasted duckier, for lack of a better word, than any duck I'd had before. Mr. Hunter grilled them to a soft char on their outsides, but not quite medium rare in their centres, so they were deep, dark reddish pink and delicious inside.

I was less crazy about Antler's "harvest salad" a while ago, in some part because it had been snowing that week. From which harvest, exactly, had the salad been harvested? The farro risotto, however, made with Canadian spelt grains, was far better than you might expect - utterly on-point. Each perfectly tendercrisp grain popped with flavour as you ate it. The risotto was made with cubes of roasted squash, rutabaga, Parmesan cheese and Brussels sprouts leaves for bitter pop, and was a steal at $17.

The pastas are also excellent.

(The general quality level of pasta making and cooking in this city's restaurants has tripled or quadrupled in the past five years.) Try the comfortingly chewy cavatelli with boar ragu, or if it happens to be on the specials sheet that night, the tagliatelle carbonara, which was made with house-cured bacon and a duck yolk, and freshened (this isn't at all traditional, but it was tasty) with a tart white-wine deglaze, and which turned heads around the bar as it landed it front of us, because it smelled so stupidly good.

Apart from that farro, the mains can tip toward heaviness; this section of the menu most transparently betrays Mr. Hunter's country-inn roots. It is simple, timeless, unfussy stuff, done mostly very well. His grilled chicken, cooked over charcoal, under a brick, is very good, as was that rack of venison, which came on parsnip and saffron cauliflower purees. (The burger, enriched as it is with boar and venison, is also pretty great.)

Desserts are based on the classics, but each with a touch of wildness. There was a decent chocolate brownie with candied black walnuts, mild, "foragedcedar-infused ice" (cue the eye roll), and something called "cedar dust" (I didn't notice it until I read about it later), as well as a ricotta cheesecake that the menu tells me was scented with white spruce and set on a hazelnut crust.



1454 Dundas St. W (at Dufferin Street), 647-345-8300,

Atmosphere: A lively rustic Canadian restaurant in Little Portugal, complete with antlers and staghorn fern fronds on the walls. Kind, if occasionally slow, undertrained service.

Wine and drinks: Pretty good cocktails (check out the "Smoke Barrel"), a few decent (but mostly non-local, notentirely-crafty) beers, and a tight, decent wine list with affordable picks by the glass.

Best bets: Venison patty, yakitori, mushroom tarte tatin, the pastas, the farro risotto, the burger, roasted poultry.

Prices: Appetizers, $9 to $18; mains $21 to $35.

NB: Menu changes seasonally

Associated Graphic

Michael Hunter has become known for his fireman-calendar looks, tattoos and being an avid outdoorsman. His restaurant Antler shows that Hunter is also a very talented chef.


Antler's venison-stuffed Jamaican patty is excellent.

What's behind Toronto's gun homicides?
In 2016, the city has seen double the deaths compared with the same period last year - and police have three theories to explain it
Saturday, May 21, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A8

At dinnertime in northwest Toronto, a kindergartner twirls in a princess dress on a green field while two boys play basketball on a nearby court.

But by 7:30 p.m., their mothers start calling them inside.

And they don't let them back out - for any reason.

Lately, says one mother, older boys have been coming onto the field and shooting handguns aimlessly into the air. "I can't say if it's weekly or monthly," she said. "I just usually hear it if I'm out here smoking. I usually bring my kids in before 8, because you never know."

The field borders Jamestown Crescent, where a pregnant mother of two, Rochelle Bobb, was shot and killed Sunday night. Her baby was saved by emergency cesarean section.

The incident shook Jamestown residents and roused the rest of the city to recognize an alarming trend.

In the days after Ms. Bobb's death, Toronto recorded its 30th homicide of the year - double the number for the same period a year ago. Factor in guns and the spike is particularly glaring: 19 gun homicides in 2016 so far, a 217-per-cent increase; and 135 shootings, representing a 60per-cent jump compared with the same period in 2015.

If the trend continues, Toronto could surpass the 2005 high of 52 gun homicides - a chapter in the city's history still remembered as the "summer of the gun." Several theories for the increased gun violence have emerged - any combination of which could help explain the bloodshed.

The end of carding

In the United States, dozens of police chiefs and police unions have speculated that increased gunplay is a function of the "Ferguson effect" - the theory that officers are backing away from proactive policing in the face of large-scale protests against police brutality, including the shooting of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Mo. Perhaps the theory's most reputable voice has been James Comey, the FBI director who has said the protest movement has created "a chill wind blowing through American law enforcement."

A similar theory has traction in Toronto, where years of controversy over the local police practice known as carding have left officers confused over how they can engage with residents, suspicious or not, according to officers and their union. "The way police are being portrayed and demonized has created a disconnect between the public and the police," Toronto Police Association president Mike McCormack said. "A lot of the major urban centres where we're seeing this, there is a slowdown in proactive policing, where police are more hesitant to engage the public."

In a recent internal TPA poll, 97 per cent of officers said they were no longer policing as proactively as they once had, according to Mr. McCormack, who did not say how many officers were surveyed.

The theory has holes, however. For one, carding in Toronto has been suspended since Jan. 1, 2015, so the 217-per-cent increase compares two periods without carding. What's more, the premise of the theory is that activists and protests have undermined the authority of police and ruined their relationship with the community. But the activists counter that police themselves are responsible for destroying their own credibility, through actions such as the Sammy Yatim streetcar shooting, the G20 kettling and racial profiling.

"They are saying that the police have no accountability, that the community has all the accountability," said Andray Domise, a community organizer.

"It's a fundamentally stupid argument."

Guns on the street

Toronto's police chief and other senior officials have argued an increase in gun seizures proves that more guns are circulating on the city's streets. So far this year, 250 firearms have been confiscated, 100 of them being handguns, according to Chief Mark Saunders.

What is unclear is how many of these guns are considered "crime guns" - guns possessed illegally or used in a crime.

Over the past four years, the number of crime guns seized has consistently been between 575 and 610. If all 250 guns seized over the first quarter of the year are deemed crime guns, then Chief Saunders's theory could certainly hold. Historically, however, the majority of guns seized by Toronto police are not crime guns; they are handed over as part of regular amnesty programs.

Neither the Toronto police, nor the OPP's provincial weapons enforcement unit, the lead agency on stopping the flow of guns, could provide specifics about where the glut of firearms is originating.

More than two-thirds of guns used in crimes in Canada can be traced back to the United States.

The demand for guns among organized crime in Canada means that smuggled guns can fetch 10 times their U.S. value and can be easily shipped across the border, explained Christian Leuprecht, a Queen's University and Royal Military College political science professor who studies gun-smuggling networks.

"If you want to get weaponry - it's not that difficult to get weaponry and bring it in to the country ... [Canada Border Services Agency] can't stop every car that goes across the border," he said.

Border agents, mainly at crossings in Southern Ontario, seized 261 firearms from April 1, 2015, to Jan. 25, 2016, according to data provided by the CBSA. That is up from 172 for the same period a year earlier. For the more recent period, 41 weapons were non-restricted firearms such as hunting rifles, 81 were restricted firearms such as handguns, and 139 were prohibited guns that include automatic weapons.

But the University of Toronto's Jooyoung Lee is skeptical of the Toronto polices' claim that an increased number - and greater availability - of guns is to blame for the spike in gun homicides.

"I think it becomes a narrative that the police use often as a way to justify and legitimize an increase in police resources," said the assistant professor of sociology and expert in gun violence.

Habits of gang members

Officials have blamed gangs for a number of this year's shootings. But that doesn't mean there's a new turf war - the problem is that guns are being used in new ways in old turf wars, said a police source.

After the height of gun crime in 2005, police enforcement was strong enough that gang members didn't regularly carry guns.

They would stash them with friends or family.

"In order to use that gun, they would have to have a lot more planning involved, rather than being more spontaneous," said the source.

"They didn't carry it with them all the time, and they knew their rivals didn't carry it with them all the time. So instead ... they would gather intelligence about where maybe their rivals are going to be, then they would go get their guns that are hidden in their girlfriend's house, then go to where those rivals might be and hopefully see them and then use the guns."

Now gang members are more likely to carry guns, "and if they happen to spontaneously see rivals, those rivals have guns as well."

Then comes an impulsive shooting, even if bystanders may get hurt in the process.

People in Jamestown complain that gang members are younger and more impulsive than in the past - "kids doing stupid things and not thinking of the consequence and thinking they're cool," as one woman put it.

But the police source disputed that, saying there have always been very young gang members.

Police suspect Quinton Gardiner, the 19-year-old charged in a double kidnapping and "gang town shootout" at a Front Street condo last month, has been involved in the Youth Buck Killas gang for years. His older brother, now imprisoned, had earlier led the gang.

"You have the younger brothers, or sometimes even sons and daughters, picking up the family business," the source said.

Associated Graphic

A pamphlet calling for a memorial service for Rochelle Bobb is seen taped to a community board. Ms. Bobb was killed by gunfire on Sunday night on Jamestown Crescent in Toronto, in a year that has seen an enormous spike in gun-related homicides.


A yard is seen in Jamestown Crescent, not far from where Rochelle Bobb was killed on Sunday night. The incident shook the area's residents and roused the rest of the city to recognize an alarming trend.


Officer Bill Vollmar is seen patrolling Jamestown Crescent. Mr. Vollmar says the community is frustrated.

Descent into darkness culminated in mass killing
Tuesday, May 17, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A1

CALGARY -- As the night of Wednesday, April 14, 2014, wore on, Susan de Grood's text messages to her son grew exasperated and anguished, pleading for him to talk to her, to come home after work.

Matthew de Grood, then a 22year-old future law student, was supposed to be nearing the end of his shift at a northwest Calgary Safeway store, and his responses to his mother were disjointed, with references to Illuminati, Frankenstein, Pontius Pilate and reincarnation, then reassurances that he was okay. He had left the store early, without telling coworkers.

"Matt, please talk to me. I wanna understand what is going on with you. Please don't stop talking ... to me," his mother wrote during the exchange, which extended past midnight into that Thursday. "Come home and talk to me please.

"I really need to see you."

Matthew replied: "You can't come here you will die."

At the start of the trial on Monday into Calgary's worst mass killing, Mr. de Grood pleaded not guilty to five counts of firstdegree murder in the deaths of Jordan Segura, 22; Kaiti Perras, 23; Josh Hunter, 23; Zackariah Rathwell, 21; and Lawrence Hong, 27, at a house party.

However, he admitted to killing the party-goers, according to an agreed statement of facts that Crown prosecutor Neil Wiberg read to the court.

"The victims were stabbed and killed by Matthew Douglas de Grood," Mr. Wiberg said.

Mr. de Grood has undergone extensive psychiatric evaluation to determine if he might meet the criteria of being criminally responsible.

Details are expected as the trial, being conducted before a judge but no jury, proceeds.

This account of the rampage, and what led up to it, is pieced together from testimony on Monday as well as witness statements from young men and women who were at the party, police notes before and after Mr. de Grood's arrest, excerpts from text messages between family members and exchanges between the suspect and arresting officers. Five officers and the assistant manager at the Safeway where Mr. de Grood worked testified Monday. The materials and testimony reveal a descent into darkness that family and friends were unable to stop.

To anyone outside the de Grood home early that spring, Matthew seemed poised for success, having graduated from the University of Calgary with a bachelor of science in psychology. He was accepted at law school for later in the year. He enjoyed long-distance running.

Within the family, however, tension had grown. Matthew's father, Doug de Grood, a senior Calgary police official, and his wife discussed feeling powerless as their son had become withdrawn, at times angry, lashing out at any criticism. He had taken to spending much time in his bedroom, posting on his Facebook profile ramblings on radical politics and conspiracy theories. His parents even discussed a "mental-health warrant" but decided against it, saying it was unlikely he met the criteria.

On the night of the stabbings, Doug de Grood told his wife to call 911, fearing Matthew was suicidal. Doug went out to search for him and found his truck at the Safeway where his son worked.

Doug told a fellow police officer in the area he was looking for his son. Early the next morning, he was told his son had been involved in a serious incident and that the young man may have been responsible.

After midnight, a rented house near the university became a scene of chaos and carnage. Blood stained the interior of the house, some pools smeared by rushing footprints, and blood trails extended beyond the yard.

Brendan McCabe had invited Matthew de Grood to his party to mark the end of the university semester. When the two met up, Mr. de Grood, still dressed in his produce-department uniform, gave Mr. McCabe a clove of garlic, saying he "may need it." He also handed over a kitchen knife, according to a police interview with Mr. McCabe.

During the walk to the party, Mr. de Grood spoke nonsensically, according to Mr. McCabe's statements. He compared his state of mind to patterns in the Matrix movies. He said that U.S. President Barack Obama was the Antichrist and talked about hidden meanings in heavy-metal lyrics.

He asked Mr. McCabe if he could stay at the house he shared with four roommates for a few days.

Partygoers at 11 Butler Cres. NW at times numbered as many as 25.

Witnesses said Mr. de Grood made guests uncomfortable, wearing his jacket zipped up to his neck, and latex gloves, leading one partygoer to wonder if he was a germaphobe. According to the statements, Mr. de Grood had a box cutter.

At around 12:45 a.m., with other guests around a campfire in the backyard, he put his cellphone on the blade of an axe, and dropped it into the flames. According to witnesses, when someone pulled it out of the fire, Mr. de Grood smashed it with the axe.

Six years earlier, in Grade 11, Mr. de Grood had developed a drug problem, using heavy narcotics including cocaine and ecstasy. He listened to a steady rotation of heavy-metal music. Alarmed, his parents put him in counselling, which helped Mr. de Grood kick his habit. Eventually, his musical tastes changed and he went back to being, as his sister described, "the fun-loving, happy person" she knew.

In the weeks leading up to the attacks, however, anti-social behaviour returned. An exchange of iPhone chat messages a week before the attacks display tension between Susan and Matthew de Grood. They suggest a heated argument in which Mr. de Grood had lashed out and placed blame for negative aspects of his life at the feet of his parents. In the exchange, Mr. de Grood suggested his father treated his sister preferentially, and had threatened to force him out of the house.

Teri Lewis, who lived at the house where the party was held, described the mood at the gathering as light and happy before she went to her room to turn in. She was awakened not long after by yelling and screaming outside her door. Mr. McCabe was frantic.

"Hey Matt, it's okay, calm down, it's okay. Dude, it's okay, calm down," Ms. Lewis quoted Mr. McCabe as saying. The panic continued for two or three minutes.

She locked her door and called 911. It sounded as if someone had a knife, she told the operator, but she had not looked out.

When the house quieted down, Ms. Lewis left her room and saw two bodies on the floor covered in blood. One was another of her roommates, Mr. Segura, and the other she did not recognize. Neither was moving.

One group of four friends had left the house earlier to get a snack and they returned at around 1 a.m. They heard screaming from inside the house. Two people ran out the front door, apparently one chasing the other.

Some guests locked themselves in a car, others called 911. At least one was frantically using CPR to try to revive a person who had collapsed on the front lawn.

Later, police said a knife from the kitchen of the house was used in the attacks.

After the chaos, Mr. de Grood took off down the street on foot.

His friend, Mr. McCabe, caught up with him. They struggled.

Mr. McCabe grabbed the knife used in the stabbings, before Mr. de Grood produced another blade, warned him to stay away and fled again.

Police hunted him down in the neighbourhood and he was bitten by a police dog, but did not appear to react to the severe bite.

He tried to punch an officer, missed and then was apprehended at gunpoint. Police found a small package of garlic in the suspect's sock. Mr. de Grood explained he was trying to keep zombies away, and said, "I'm sorry. I had to kill them."

Associated Graphic

Family members of Lawrence Hong, one of the people stabbed to death by Matthew de Grood at a house party in 2014, enter court in Calgary on Monday. Mr. de Grood pleaded not guilty to five counts of first-degree murder in the case, but admitted to the killings.


Matthew de Grood runs a race in Calgary in 2013. Mr. de Grood, who faces five counts of first-degree murder, once seemed poised for success.


Reality television and social media have made for more educated - and demanding - consumers in restaurants, retail stores and interior-design firms. Here, experts in those three fields explain how the customer relations model is changing and how they stay ahead of the game
Saturday, May 14, 2016 – Print Edition, Page L8


Front-of-house manager at Toronto's Piano Piano and 20-year restaurant industry veteran

"Anybody can learn about wine, anybody can learn about food, anybody can learn about systems installed to make your place successful. I've always seen it as a bit of an entertainment business, somebody that can approach a table with confidence. You need to know the answers to the questions that the customers are going to ask you. As time goes on people know more about cooking, that's from TV and people taking wine courses, so your service always needs to be a jump ahead to be able to answer questions.

Customers' increased knowledge of food and restaurants has helped change that perception about the job, as well, so part of what constitutes good service for an evening out now is that you've learned something from your server, they've told you about a new grape varietal or a new mushroom you've never heard about. People are also more inclined to take the recommendations from people serving the table: What restaurants do you like to go to? Where do you like to eat? There's almost a concierge component to the job now.

Recognizing what people drink, what their favourite kinds of wines are and if they have any food restrictions will always be crucial components of service in this industry. Online reservation systems and Open Table and things like that are making it easier because you can store that stuff online, but back in the day the sign of a good maitre d' was being able to keep that information in their head. And now, with social media, everyone is a potential critic. People will pick up their smart phones before they pick up their fork when a dish hits the table.

If you come into our restaurant on a Saturday night at 5:30 p.m. it's full. Kids are learning about food and that's a positive thing.

It sets the tone for the restaurant.

It's nice to see families teaching their kids about food. It's a great energy to have in the room.

Our kids' menu was done with a dietician and is very extensive.

But one of the things we've done is to build a separate dining room downstairs with a kids' play area. Sometimes kids aren't well liked in a restaurant and that's not always just by management or staff, but often by the couple sitting next to a screaming baby.

They've spent $50 for a babysitter that night and it's their one night out in two months; they might as well have stayed home and ordered pizza again. This way we're able to give families a private, comfortable place to eat and it kind of reflects the neighbourhood." - AS TOLD TO CHRIS JOHNS


CEO and founder, Laurel & Wolf interior design marketplace

"I was at a phenomenal design firm for about four years, where we did very high-end residential work all over the U.S., as well as internationally. But we were working with the top one per cent of people in the market - incredibly wealthy clientele. What I realized quickly was that interior design as a service had really not changed since the early 1900s.

At the same time, there was a massive evolution happening to everything around interior design as a result of technology. Through the birth of Pinterest, Instagram and Houzz, people were consuming design content at a rapid pace.

Designers were offering design services through email for years, and it was unbelievably clunky.

I thought, if you could use the technology to streamline the service, you could still make a good amount of money, work on the projects you like, and not have to do the stuff most designers hate, which is contracts, billing, admin, purchasing. Designers have to apply to be a part of Laurel & Wolf, and we look at their education, as well as the number of years of working experience. Plus we do a portfolio review. It's a very thorough vetting process. We want them to be as successful as possible, and we also want to make sure that our clients have a phenomenal design experience.

What we built from the tech perspective is complex. Step one is a quiz, where we gather a lot of information: You're telling us about your style, uploading photos of your space, giving us dimensions of your room. We ask you the questions a traditional interior designer would ask. We take a flat fee per room, and you pay your one-time fee. Then you get connected to three to five interior designers for a first look. From there you choose the designer and start the online collaborative design process. Once you receive your final design, we also offer a free 'Buy for Me' service.

Our clients love the fact that they can communicate so seamlessly with their designers.

It's democratizing the service, but it's also a lot more fun. We've designed everything from a 22-year-old's studio apartment to 8,000-square-foot homes." - AS TOLD TO ANYA GEORGIJEVIC


Personal shopper at Holt Renfrew's Toronto Bloor Street store for 10 years

"I went to New York for the fall collections at the end of February during New York fashion week, and spent three days with the buyers. It was fantastic to give the clients validation; they thought, 'Holt Renfrew sent Marlo to New York so they must trust her opinion.' It was great to learn where the [buyers] are coming from and have them learn about my clients - what they are ready to spend on and what they are asking for. More coloured dresses, for example. I can say I have clients that would love this line or this is something that I could really sell them.

One special thing I do is go to clients' homes. I look at what they own and help them to edit their closets. I'm there for a couple of hours, sometimes I will take photos and make notes. Later, we meet at the store to build their wardrobes. I have clients who come in every week, some every month and at the beginning of every season. We can have breakfast or lunch brought up, but most people want to focus on the task. It's changed a bit because fashion has changed and brands realize customers are seeing things on social media and online and they want immediate gratification.

The number of deliveries from vendors has increased and the number of times people come into the store to see if we have new items has increased.

Before I was the one guiding my clients, but now they come to me with ideas from people they follow on Instagram. My job is to be more of a stylist than I ever was in the past. I fi nd key pieces that work with their lifestyles and customize what they are seeing on social media to suit them. They are now getting very fast feedback and so am I. A lot of my clients who look at my Instagram like the way I pose and the style of the pictures, so I show them how to do it. My Instagram is lifestyle based - I have pictures of my family and me on vacation. It's good to show what I wear on the weekends and how they can mix it up in a very natural setting. Instagram really sells things." - AS TOLD TO ALEX LAWS

Associated Graphic

ONLINE RESERVATIONS Jeff Dinan, front-of-house manager for Piano Piano in Toronto, says online booking systems and social media have made keeping track of diners' preferences easier, but that personal touches and face-to-face interaction remain the mark of supreme restaurant service.


DIGITAL DINING ROOMS Leura Fine's online design firm, Laurel & Wolf, enables clients to have rooms or entire homes designed through a collaborative process online, including the option to have designers purchase the goods and shipped directly to clients' homes.


SNAP HAPPY Holt Renfrew's Marlo Sutton uses Instagram to show clientele how to style outfits. Her clients also use social media as a way to keep lists of what they'd like to see in store.

Hunting expedition company falls prey to Civil Forfeiture Office
Monday, May 16, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A1

VANCOUVER -- Bob Milligan feared he was about to lose everything.

As owner of Coast Mountain Outfitters, a company that specializes in hunting expeditions along British Columbia's north and central coasts, Mr. Milligan held one of the largest and most valuable guide territory certificates in the province.

And now it was in the sights of B.C.'s Civil Forfeiture Office, a government agency that has been criticized for its aggressive attempts to seize homes, vehicles, cash and other property that has been associated with unlawful activity.

Mr. Milligan said the Civil Forfeiture Act was created to go after large-scale crime, not small individuals such as himself.

I think the law's got to change," he said.

In May, 2012, the Civil Forfeiture Office filed a lawsuit against Mr. Milligan in a bid to seize his certificate after he was accused of committing eight offences under the Wildlife Act and the Land Act. The move meant that infractions that could have brought only fines could end up costing Mr. Milligan his certificate and his livelihood.

One of the alleged infractions concerned a trip with a helicopter that a provincial agency had deemed justified for medical reasons. Another involved the use of a snowmobile in a closed area - Mr. Milligan's lawyer said an employee accidentally strayed 200 metres past a zone boundary.

9 Last June, facing a hefty legal bill in the battle, Mr. Milligan settled the case in a confidential agreement. He also reluctantly sold the certificate - believed to be worth millions of dollars - to the Nisga'a Nation for an undisclosed price. It is unclear how much of the money went to the Civil Forfeiture Office.

The Globe and Mail has reported extensively on the office, which was introduced as a way to fight organized crime but has come to have a far broader reach.

It does not need a conviction or charges to pursue a case, and critics have questioned some of the files it takes on, calling it a cash cow. B.C.'s office has taken in millions of dollars more than a similar agency in Ontario, despite opening three years later.

B.C.'s Justice Minister has repeatedly defended the office, saying it takes only cases that are in the public interest.

Scott Ellis, executive director of the Guide Outfitters Association of B.C., said Mr. Milligan's case is the only one in which the Civil Forfeiture Office has attempted to seize a guide territory certificate.

The association advocated on Mr.

Milligan's behalf with the province.

Our position was that there are penalties and a mechanism under the Wildlife Act that justly handle Wildlife Act infractions, if there are some," Mr. Ellis said in an interview.

Mr. Milligan said that, at first, he was determined to fight the civil forfeiture case. But as it dragged on and the risks became clear, he felt he had no choice but to settle and sell the certificate.

I didn't want to [settle]," Mr.

Milligan said. "My lawyer talked to me until he was blue in the face. He said, 'It's all about counting beans, Bob. It's not about principle. When you do it on principle, it costs you money.' " Mr. Milligan said this was not the first time the province pressed him to sell the certificate - it earlier asked him to consider a deal with the Coastal First Nations alliance.

The 47-year-old, married father of two inherited the guide territory certificate when he was 18, after his parents died in a plane crash. The certificate gave him the exclusive right to guide hunters in an area about 17,000 square kilometres in size, with part of the territory including a region known as the Great Bear Rainforest.

Mr. Milligan said that, in 2008 or 2009, provincial officials asked the Guide Outfitters Association to facilitate a meeting between Mr. Milligan and the Coastal First Nations about selling the certificate.

Mr. Milligan said talks went on for two years, but he opted not to sell. Then, he said, came the civil forfeiture case.

The office's notice of civil claim argued the certificate had been used as an instrument of unlawful activity. The offences were alleged to have occurred between 2003 and 2009, and the most serious involved hunting a bear by placing bait, and allowing a hunter to kill a bear while left unsupervised. Mr. Milligan denied those allegations and questioned the use of the Civil Forfeiture Act.

In addition to those claims, the lawsuit alleged a snowmobile was used for the purpose of hunting in a closed area in late 2006, and a helicopter was used to transport hunters without authorization in September, 2008.

Nicholas Weigelt, Mr. Milligan's lawyer, said the only allegation that had "any basis in reality" was the one involving the snowmobile. He said one of Mr. Milligan's employees accidentally travelled into an area where snowmobiles were not allowed. He said Mr. Milligan was convicted of the offence and paid a small fine.

On the allegation involving the helicopter, Mr. Milligan said he obtained authorization over the phone from a conservation officer. He said the temperature was -20 C and the hunters had to be transported out.

A Ministry of Environment spokesperson said in a statement the incident was investigated.

"The file was concluded with no enforcement action required as the transport was due to medical reasons," the statement read.

It is unclear why the Civil Forfeiture Office mentioned the incident in its lawsuit.

Phil Tawtel, the Civil Forfeiture Office's director, declined a request to discuss the case and broader civil-forfeiture issues.

The office's notice of civil claim also alleged Mr. Milligan's certificate was suspended between November, 1994, and April, 2003, due to a "number of convictions," although it did not provide further details.

But a 2002 ruling from the B.C.

Environmental Appeal Board said Mr. Milligan had convictions in Provincial Court in 1998. Mr. Milligan had agreed in 1995 that he would not guide until an administrative hearing into the allegations in that case had concluded.

The ruling said the convictions stemmed largely from three incidents in April and May, 1994. In the first instance, a hunter shot and killed two wolverines when he was licensed to hunt only bears, and Mr. Milligan did not report it. In the second instance, Mr. Milligan allowed a hunter to use one of his tags to shoot a black bear when the hunter ran out of tags of his own. The third incident involved an attempt to hunt for grizzly bears, although no bears were shot.

The convictions against Mr. Milligan included unlawful possession of dead wildlife, misusing his tags, guiding hunters toward grizzly bears without a licence, and making false statements in guide reports. He was ordered to pay about $25,000 in fines, the ruling said.

At the time, the Environmental Appeal Board disagreed with a government fish and wildlife manager who said Mr. Milligan should have to sell his certificate.

It said Mr. Milligan was young when the offences occurred and he showed an "immature tendency to try to please his clients." It said he had matured, demonstrated remorse and had a clean record in his side work as a fishing guide.

Mr. Milligan's response to the Civil Forfeiture Office lawsuit noted the province renewed his certificate in 2007 - at which point it would have known about at least some of the allegations later referenced in the forfeiture case.

Micheal Vonn, policy director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, said in an interview that the Civil Forfeiture Act allows the government to "cherry pick" how a wide array of disputes is heard.

The Nisga'a, in a statement, said the certificate was transferred to the nation in October. It said "obtaining the guide outfitting privileges conferred by the certificate has been a long-standing objective of the Nisga'a Nation."

The statement said the Nisga'a do not currently have an individual trained and certified to act as a licensed guide. As a result, it has arranged for Mr. Milligan to assist with the transition and operation of the business as a consultant.

Mr. Milligan said working with the Nisga'a has proven to be a very positive experience.

But he said the civil forfeiture process took years off his life.

As oil wealth evaporates, Nigeria's economy in tatters
Saturday, May 14, 2016 – Print Edition, Page B1

ABUJA, NIGERIA -- Armed with Kalashnikov rifles and wearing bulletproof vests, the Nigerian police stood watch over the queue, ready to break up any fights in the unruly mass of motorists that stretched around an entire block of the capital city.

The winding lineup was so long that its front almost bumped into its tail. Shouts and arguments erupted as drivers jostled for position. One motorist tried to bribe a policeman to let him jump the queue and avoid the three-hour wait.

This chaotic scene has become the new normal at Nigeria's gas stations as fuel shortages grew worse this year. In an attempt to end the queues, Nigeria announced a dramatic 67-percent increase in the price of petrol this week, ending a longstanding subsidy.

For many, the paradox is infuriating. "In Nigeria, we have oil - we're not supposed to suffer to get fuel," said taxi driver Owolabi Samson, whose daily income has fallen by two-thirds because he spends so much time in gas-station lineups.

"It's not fair. The people are suffering."

For years, the oil wealth of Africa's biggest country had seemed inexhaustible. But today, its economy is in deep trouble. Oil prices have collapsed. Its currency has plummeted. Inflation is soaring. Imports are increasingly hampered by shortages of U.S. dollars. And through it all, corruption and heavy-handed regulation have allowed paralyzing distortions to flourish.

As the biggest economy on the continent, Nigeria could be the engine to lead Africa to new heights. Instead, its graft-ridden bureaucracy and overregulation has made it a cautionary lesson for oil-dependent countries, demonstrating the pitfalls of slow adjustment to new realities.

Nigeria's economic growth, according to the International Monetary Fund, will slump to just 2.3 per cent this year - its slowest rate in almost two decades. Oil production has fallen to a 20-year low after rebels attacked pipelines and other oil facilities. Nigeria's dreams of joining the world's top 20 economies, which seemed imminent when it was booming before the oil crisis, have been deferred indefinitely.

President Muhammadu Buhari, elected last year in the first democratic transition of power in Nigerian history, has vowed to tackle corruption and diversify the oil-dependent economy.

Those are noble goals, but Mr. Buhari is attempting to rule by rigid edict: tightly controlling the exchange rate, limiting imports and clamping down on the supply of foreign currency, which in turn has reinforced a two-tier system of insider access and widespread corruption.

Mr. Buhari flatly refuses to allow a devaluation of Nigeria's currency, the naira, which remains pegged at 197 to the U.S. dollar.

Yet, on the black market, the naira has tumbled to about 345 to the dollar, after one of the worst currency declines in the world over the past year. In an import-dependent economy, this pushed inflation to a five-year high of 12.8 per cent last month.

Despite its oil wealth, Nigeria depends on foreign refineries for 80 per cent of its fuel. But for years the government has tried to keep fuel pegged to an official price, far below the market price - which only added to the fuel shortages by encouraging smuggling and theft.

And it's not just fuel. Importers of all products must apply to Nigeria's central bank if they want to acquire U.S. dollars at the official rate. These days, permission is often denied. Instead, the dollars are often given to cronies of central bank insiders, who can immediately sell the dollars for a quick profit on the black market.

As a result, many importers have halted their trade, prices are spiralling upward and much of the economy is grinding to a halt.

"For the past six months, I've tried to get dollars," said Emmanuel Mbonu, a Nigerian entrepreneur who imports auto parts and electrical fixtures from Asia.

"But they keep saying, 'It's not available, it's not available,' and there's nothing you can do. They give it to their friends instead. So they basically force you to go to the black market, and then you have to jack up your prices."

In the past, he could get a supply of U.S. dollars within five working days, he said. Now, his only option is what he calls "backdoor PR" (paying a bribe to a bank insider) or going to the black market, where the exchange rate is so volatile and expensive that he can't establish stable prices or get credit from suppliers. So he has shut down his business temporarily, leaving his part-time workers unemployed. "You can't do any planning because you never know what the price will be tomorrow," he said. "It's a terrible situation."

Femi Jaiyeola, a businessman who imports fabrics from Europe, has stopped travelling to his suppliers for the past seven months; his customers won't accept the higher prices resulting from the black-market exchange rate.

"There are no buyers," he said.

Instead of selling dollars to importers, it's more profitable for central bank officials to speculate on the black-market rate, he said.

"There's no incentive to do business. The situation is terrible, and it affects everyone."

The shortages of dollars and imports are hurting most sectors of the economy. Imported food - including rice, a staple here - has leaped in price. Hotels and travel agents, unable to get permission to process international credit cards, ask their foreign clients to pay in huge bundles of cash.

One hotelier said he has delayed the opening of a new branch because of restrictions on importing construction materials. And his occupancy rate is way down.

"Nobody is doing business in Nigeria now," he said.

At a huge new shopping mall in Abuja, most of the planned shops still haven't opened - five months after the mall itself opened - because the cost of doing business and obtaining imported goods is so daunting.

The President is vowing to crack down on corruption, but the problem has seemed intractable.

His Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, recently alleged that about $15billion (U.S.) had been stolen from public funds in fraudulent arms deals under the previous government.

This week, British Prime Minister David Cameron was caught on camera describing Nigeria as "fantastically corrupt" - and Mr. Buhari said he agreed.

The President also faces strong resistance from powerful politicians who temporarily blocked parliament's approval of Nigeria's new budget, creating a further shortage of funds for public investment. Two-thirds of the country's 36 states are having difficulty paying salaries to civil servants.

Nigeria traditionally used its oil revenue to pay for 70 per cent of government spending. But today it has "minimal fiscal buffers" to cope with the crash of oil prices, according to the IMF's latest Africa report. Nigeria's attempt to limit access to foreign currency "has introduced significant distortions in the economy ... and adversely affected economic activity," the fund said. "The adverse impact of lower oil prices is compounded by disruptions to private-sector activity through exchange-rate restrictions."

Back at the fuel queues, Nigerians are weary. Wisdom Egiliga, a 26-year-old recent university graduate, said he is working as a driver because he can't find any other job - and he is losing half of his income as he sits in gas-station queues for several hours a day. "Nothing is moving in the economy," Mr. Egiliga says.

"Everyone is complaining that there's no market."

To avoid the lineups, some motorists end up buying fuel from unofficial vendors at higher prices. But many are afraid of poor-quality fuel from the unregulated vendors, so they stay in the official queues.

"A huge amount of productivity is lost," said Edward, a 38-year-old doctor at a government hospital in Abuja, who didn't want to give his surname. He spends two or three hours in fuel lineups every day. "Multiply that over the whole economy," he said.

"Everything takes longer to do.

Everyone is affected."

Associated Graphic

Motorists queue to buy fuel at a filling station in Lagos on Thursday. Nigeria hiked the price of gasoline on Wednesday after months of fuel shortages caused by a foreign-exchange shortage.



Province's biggest school boards feel strain of new students
Saturday, May 21, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S1

CALGARY -- For Syrian refugee Mohammed Younis, the day the yellow bus pulled up in front of his family's rented split-level to take his kids to school was the day he felt they had arrived.

"I forgot those five years of struggle and pain," Mr. Younis, 40, says of the moment he watched his children board the bus.

The past five years have been about survival, not about school. In 2011, Mr. Younis says, he, his wife, Layla, 31, and their children were forced to flee due to fighting from their home in Deir al-Zour, in eastern Syria.

Speaking through an Arabic interpreter at his northwest Calgary home, he says they lived in Raqqa until that city was besieged. They moved again within Syria, and then crossed the border to Turkey. It was there that the Red Cross approached the family and asked if they wanted to go to Canada. The Younis family arrived in Calgary in February as part of the wave of 25,000 refugees taken in to Canada in late 2015 and early 2016.

Now, four of five of the Younis children are in school. (Sultana, 2, is still too young.) They have joined more than 1,000 Syrian students who have entered

Alberta's school system, most in Edmonton and Calgary, since the beginning of the year - the province's largest influx of refugee students in recent memory.

Most of the new Syrian students do not speak English, and school boards across the province have welcomed the students with an intense focus on English classes, along with Arabic-speaking teachers, classroom assistants and mental-health supports. In some cases, students have access to art-therapy classes, or bean-bag chairs in the corner of a classroom, when they need a few moments to relax.

At the same time, boards are struggling to accommodate the midyear influx of students.

Alberta school boards do not receive provincial per-pupil money from the province for the Syrian students because they entered the system past the funding cutoff date, and the boards argue they are not being funded for the services they provide. The province's two largest public boards - Edmonton and Calgary - say that since Ottawa made the decision to bring in thousands of Syrian refugees over a matter of months, the federal government should provide additional funding for the new students.

"Our board is very supportive of the decision to take these families and these kids," says Michael Janz, board chairman at Edmonton Public Schools.

"That being said, we cannot let the federal government off the hook."

Funding has become an issue in some other Canadian cities, as well.

In Halifax, teachers' unions and boards have asked for more money to help with the arrival of Syrian students.

In Regina, the public-school teachers' association has complained that almost 200 new Syrian students are straining teacher and language resources.

However, the Toronto District School Board says that Ontario has provided funding to meet the needs of 500 students in that province.

While the push to welcome and integrate students to Canada's education system might be country-wide, each board's funding circumstance, and approach, is different.

In Alberta, dozens of Syrian children are now going to school in smaller cities such as Red Deer, but the large majority of Syrian refugee children are attending school in Edmonton and Calgary's public-school systems.

The Calgary Board of Education's admissions and assessment office at the downtown Kingsland Centre has been bustling for most of this year, says Christine Oliver, in charge of the facility that processes non-Canadian students.

Large families with five to seven kids are not uncommon.

Through a family appointment, children are tested to determine how well they can speak, read, write and understand English, says Ms. Oliver, who is also supervisor of English-language learning for the board.

Both parents and kids meet with specially trained teachers to get an idea of what the family has experienced in recent years, and build a profile of the child.

Even once the children enter the Calgary Board of Education's system, they do not go straight into a regular classroom.

The Calgary Board of Education has a special program that puts all refugee students in smaller, 15-pupil classes with an intensive focus on English-language skills.

Teachers are also on the lookout for signs of trauma - something as ordinary as school bells could bring back a bad memory - so support can be given before children transition into regular classrooms.

Children and families also learn that the school system might work differently than in Syria, she says.

Expectations about discipline might be different, she notes - for instance, teachers in Canada don't spank - and girls and boys are equal, and in the same classrooms.

"It's a huge learning curve for them," Ms. Oliver says. There are questions such as, "Why is that girl at the front of the line? The boy should be at the front of the line."

At Edmonton Public Schools, the board has increased its Arabic-speaking "intercultural consultants," who provide a cultural-bridging service to students. They work on mobile teams, paired up with an ESL consultant, a mental-health therapist and a social worker, said Marlene Hanson, supervisor of diversity education.

Four mobile teams will be up and running by the end of June.

It's helpful, Ms. Hanson says, because if the families don't have access to transportation, "it allows us to go to them."

In Calgary, at the Younis household, Mr. Younis says his children are grateful to be in classes, and are adapting well.

After a family discussion on life in war-torn Syria, the children read donated books and munch on potato chips as they talk about their first days of school.

Ismail, 15, is in junior high and says he wants to some day study to be a petroleum engineer.

Rim, 12 - who asks everyone how to spell their names and other intriguing English words - says that she wants to be a doctor.

"Here they have the opportunity to do something with their life," Mr. Younis says.

Alberta's two largest publicschool boards say they are welcoming Syrian children, and when it comes to funding, education costs are the responsibility of the provinces.

But they also argue the influx of new students has created a set of exceptional circumstances, and it was the federal Liberal government's commitment to bring in a large number of refugees in a short time span that has caused uncertainty around their finances and staff resources.

Calgary Board of Education chairwoman Joy Bowen-Eyre said the more than 425 new Syrian students who entered the public-school system in the province's largest city this year is the equivalent of adding an elementary school of children, most of whom need special services.

"It has put a significant strain on our school system."

However, it doesn't appear any direct funding is imminent. In e-mails to The Globe, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada referenced the previous announcement that $335-million would be made available over four years for resettlement and settlement services for Syrian refugees, and noted education is a provincial responsibility.

More money from the province doesn't appear to be forthcoming this year, either. Alberta Education Minister David Eggen says Alberta school boards will receive funding for enrolment growth for the school year beginning in the fall, but there will be no major additional infusion of funds for Syrian refugees from his government during this school year.

"Certainly, we are, during this difficult financial circumstance, still committed to funding for enrolment, here in the province of Alberta - which is no small thing, quite frankly, considering the budget," Mr. Eggen says, adding that some English language grant money will be available to help the refugees this year.

"Everybody who lives in Alberta knows we're in a difficult economic circumstance here, but also, we have a very strong, long tradition of caring and accommodation for new Canadians, and we will continue in that spirit."

Associated Graphic

Layla Younis, left, practises her English reading skills with her daughter Rama, 6, centre, and her son Hamza, 11, at her home in Calgary on April 13.


Flying homeowners get their wings clipped
Air Ranch was Canada's first private fly-in housing development. Now the airstrip has had its licence revoked, grounding residents
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, May 21, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S4

Air Ranch in Okotoks, just south of Calgary, is one of the most unusual residential communities in Canada: one which allows its residents the luxury of landing personal aircraft on a 3,100 foot private airstrip, right in their back yards.

Formally established in 2005, it was Canada's first private airpark, the ultimate commuter town for aerospace enthusiasts and a playground for wealthy aircraft owners. But last month the community's lofty mission had a rather bumpy landing as the airstrip handed over its operating licence to Transport Canada in the face of safety concerns.

For the owner of one of the community's unique properties, a custom-built 3,000-square-foot European-style cedar home complete with 60-by-60-foot heated aircraft hangar, it's just another bout of turbulence in a two-year quest to secure a sale.

"It was, and I guess still is, my dream home," says Sean Clarke, a German-born Geophysicist, entrepreneur and aviation enthusiast, who immigrated to Canada in 1983. "It was the first house to be built there, back in 2001, and it was the only one for a few years, which was pretty nice."

The 47-year-old's ambition was to build a structurally insulated panel house and aircraft hangar, using cedar wood and traditional post and beam design.

"I built the hangar first and that's where I lived for a long time," he admits, "but of course I didn't tell the city that. Then the Air Ranch community said 'You know, you can't just build a hangar, you have to build a house as well. We're trying to create a community here.' So I finally built the house a few years later."

Mr. Clarke's business has since taken him to live in the Philippines where he's opened an aviation school teaching advanced aviation manoeuvres and acrobatics to pilots. He's now married and has a family there, but his affections still lie firmly with his Okotoks aircraft hangar.

"The hangar is awesome. It's a wonderful utility, an incredible structure and a beautiful building," he says. "The house was really only ever a pretty ornament to go with it."

It is undoubtedly an aviation lover's dream, enjoying a premium position adjacent to the runway on its own acre of land, which means the owner can land a plane, taxi it to his own private garage and stroll to his front door. It also boasts a kitchen, bathroom and 900-square-foot mezzanine living area, in case, like Mr. Clarke, you felt like taking up residence.

"It was extremely expensive to build," says Mr. Clarke. "About $1.2-million as I remember. But when it's your dream home, only the best will do. The kit for the hangar cost way more than the kit for the house, but the house took longer to build so they cost about the same in the end."

That the hangar is the best that money can build is clear; it features slab heating, a 46-centimetre concrete floor and has a clear span design with no interior supports, which can accommodate up to three aircraft. It has two six-metre-wide doors with a sliding centre beam on the runway side and its wiring is warranted for shop operation with its own separate circuit board.

It also features a crimped steel panel roof, as does the house, chosen because crimping the panels avoids drilling holes and drilling holes can lead to rust.

"The owner is a real perfectionist," says Mr. Clarke's agent Don Blocka, of Sotheby's Realty who's been tasked with selling the property. "You have to admire that. It's a feat of design and engineering. I've been out there in the dead of winter and the hangar is comfortably heated.

Every aspect has been a very considered decision."

And, like his hangar, Mr. Clarke's "pretty ornament" of a home, is also precision engineered; a careful balance of practical and picturesque with seven-metre-high ceilings.

"The curb appeal on this home is pretty incredible," says Mr. Blocka. "There's no doubt about it. If you like the look of a character home, you'll love this property.

"The kitchen is a European kitchen, which is set up for food preparation and storage rather than entertaining and gathering.

The main gathering and eating space in the house is the Great Room. Off this room is the master suite while the bedrooms for the children are located upstairs where there's also another entertaining room."

The layout of the house is one of the things Mr. Blocka says is hindering interested parties from making an offer.

"It definitely confuses buyers used to a North American layout," he says.

But the house's unconventionalities don't end there. It also features an impressive ground-floor hobby room with a concrete floor and extra-wide, custom steel doors complete with a dog shower for the discerning pet owner.

"The hobby room is specifically for working on motorbikes and other smaller vehicles. Or for washing the dog," explains Mr. Blocka.

"It's unusual to have so many unique aspects altogether in one home," he adds. But Mr. Blocka doesn't believe that's the only thing hindering an offer.

"The property has attracted a number of buyers for a number of different reasons, including someone looking for a large art gallery, a buyer with a car collection and one with a helicopter.

The hangar has space for 12 cars easily and that's pretty interesting for someone who's paying a lot to store their collection.

"But the price point is the first qualifier. It definitely steps out of line in Okotoks and even in the Air Ranch community."

Average selling prices in Air Ranch are typically 65-per-cent higher than Okotoks at $825,000.

"The property was originally listed for just under $3-million," explains Mr. Blocka. "And if the market was respectable it should command just over $2-million, so at the current price of just over $1.5-million, it offers exceptional value.

"If this property was in Vancouver we'd be talking $7.5-million, $5-million for Toronto." Price aside, both Mr. Clarke and Mr. Blocka recognize that without an operating airport, the purchase of a house with an aircraft hangar could be hard for any buyer to justify.

The closing, which came into effect mid-April, is currently a temporary 180-day closing but many are questioning whether the airport can afford to make the regulatory fixes required to reopen.

"It's quite surreal," says Mr. Clarke. "I mean, it's an airport. If it's closed, what do you do with it? There are 380 airparks in the States, all really successful communities, but it never really worked in Canada for some reason. I think Canadians are perhaps a little too conservative for the concept and there aren't enough aircraft owners there."

Meanwhile, his aircraft hangar home has been relisted as having an "impressive garage" until the issue is resolved.

Mr. Blocka remains optimistic that a sale will materialize for the home.

"It'll be a Flames hockey player with lots of cars looking for a home with character or an executive with lots of toys to house or another artisan or perfectionist who appreciates this kind of design and engineering," he says.

But he admits selling someone else's dream can be a tough gig for an agent.

"For sure, it's not easy when there's that level of customization and personality tied up in a property. But I look at it as a piece of art. And a great piece of art can hang on someone else's wall. It's a narrow market, even more so now the airport's in trouble, but it's still a market."

Associated Graphic

The Air Ranch property listed for sale in Okotoks, an aviation lover's dream, features a crimped steel panel roof on the house and hanger because crimping the panels avoids drilling holes and drilling holes can lead to rust. An aerial view of the estate shows its proximity to the community runway.

NHL vet's latest hat trick: owner, GM, coach
For Brent Sutter, being boss in the corner office, front office and on the bench for the Red Deer Rebels comes with interesting challenges
Friday, May 20, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S2

At 17, Brent Sutter saw junior hockey mostly as a stepping stone, a way station to the next level, the NHL, where three of his older brothers were already playing. Brent would eventually follow in their footsteps, and won two Stanley Cups playing alongside his brother Duane with the New York Islanders as part of an 18-year, 1,111-game NHL career.

The one thing the teenage Sutter could not have imagined was how soon after his NHL days were over, his hockey journey would come full circle, right back to Red Deer, where it all began.

"I came home to ranch," Sutter explained. "I was ready to step away from the game for a bit. I had little kids. When you have a family, you want to get them back home."

Sutter owns and operates the Red Deer Rebels, the host team of the 2016 Memorial Cup, one of a handful of junior hockey "lifers" involved in the annual tournament. Also qualifying for this year's event were the WHL's Brandon Wheat Kings, the OHL's London Knights and the QMJHL's Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. The Memorial Cup opens Friday night.

Brandon is run by Kelly McCrimmon who, like Sutter, wears three hats for the Wheat Kings: Owner, general manager and coach. Brandon advanced by defeating the Seattle Thunderbirds in the WHL final. Seattle is run by Russ Farwell, the former Philadelphia Flyers general manager who made the seminal Eric Lindros trade in 1992. Soon after Farwell was fired by the Flyers, he returned to Seattle, where he has managed the Thunderbirds for the past 21 years.

London is home to the Hunter brothers, Mark having joined the Maple Leafs' front office, Dale still behind the bench after leaving briefly to coach the Washington Capitals. McCrimmon, who played with his brother Brad for the Wheat Kings more than 35 years ago, also had a chance to join the Leafs' staff last summer, but opted to stay in Brandon, partly because he knew he had a Memorial Cup contender.

All have their roots deeply embedded in junior hockey, although, in Sutter's case, it came about rather by accident.

Soon after retiring from the NHL in 1998 and returning to central Alberta, Sutter got a call from an old friend, Terry Simpson, who owned the Rebels then. Simpson asked him to help out with the team, coaching part-time and Sutter said yes, figuring he had enough time to juggle his ranching commitments with a little hockey thrown into the mix.

Later that season, Simpson upped the ante. The two were driving to Lethbridge for the league's all-star game when Simpson had another question for Sutter: Would he be interested in buying the team from him and his brother Wayne?

"Next thing you know, I was sitting down with accountants and lawyers," Sutter said. "It was a big step for me because I couldn't swing it financially myself. I didn't make the big money that players are making today. So I was able to work it out and get some financial help through the banks.

And I threw myself into it.

"My last two years of playing in Chicago, I was hurt quite a bit, so I learned a lot from Mr. [Bob] Pulford and Mr. [William] Wirtz. You use all the experience you gather - 10 years of having Al Arbour as a coach - and you just run with it and learn as you go.

"But it's crazy how I ended up coaching the team. It was because I couldn't afford to hire a coach or a GM."

Junior hockey has become big business since then. The Rebels ultimately won the 2001 Memorial Cup in Sutter's third year of ownership. In 2007, he left for a time and spent five years coaching in the NHL - two with the New Jersey Devils and three with the Calgary Flames.

Life in the NHL is a succession of chartered flights, five-star hotels and mostly sold-out arenas. It's the glitz and glamour of Manhattan, Chicago, downtown Los Angeles. Junior is, by contrast, a far more modest experience.

Recently, when Red Deer played Brandon in the WHL's Eastern Division final, it was a 101/2-hour bus ride back and forth between cities. Once you get to a certain age, don't those long bus rides cause additional strain on the body?

"At times, it can wear on you," Sutter answered, "but you know what? You get past that and after a while you don't think about it.

I'll say this: It certainly feels a lot longer after a loss - but that's the same as in the NHL after a loss, when you're on a chartered plane.

The only difference is you get to where you're going quicker."

Now 53, Sutter says juggling three positions - owner, general manager and coach - can be challenging. It was especially difficult for him this year, knowing Red Deer would host the Memorial Cup, which involved a lot of preparation, both on and off the ice.

"When you do all three jobs, you have to be three different people," Sutter said. "As an owner, you have to evaluate everything, beginning with the work of your general manager. Are you happy with him? Then as the general manager, you have to evaluate the work of the coach.

"To me, you can't be the owner, the GM and the coach without being honest in all areas of your operation. If you think you're not doing the proper job in one, then you have to step away from it. If you don't, then you're cheating the people around you."

Years ago, one of those evaluations convinced Sutter that he needed to fire his older brother Brian as the team's coach.

"That was a tough thing," Sutter said. "My expectations in what I wanted from a coach were different from what Brian could provide, because of his commitment to his ranch. It was hard on Brian, too, but you have to do what's right for your players.

"Coaching at this level is no different than coaching pro. You have to spend time at it."

Sutter has his son Merrick and his nephew Shaun working with him, Merrick on the business side, Shaun (Brian's son) as the team's assistant general manager.

He likes having them there because they can provide fresh ideas from a younger perspective.

"I always tell them, 'Guys, let's not be afraid to try new stuff, whether it's on the marketing side or the ticketing side or our game-night experiences. If it doesn't work now, it might work four years from now.' "People talk about analytics.

Well, we've formed our own analytics program here. It's all about how the game has evolved over time, the way video has evolved.

I'm somewhat old school, but I also understand if you want to stay competitive, you've got to advance, too."

Nowadays, Sutter says he gains the most satisfaction out of providing life lessons for the players passing through his program, knowing only a small percentage will go on to have NHL careers.

"The day they get dropped off at your door, there's a big responsibility put on your shoulders," he said. "You're like their guardians.

It's not just about hockey. It's also about education - making sure they graduate, making sure they get good grades in school. Getting them involved in the community and understanding why that's important - it's all those things.

"The satisfaction and reward comes when they're leaving. Did they grow as people? Were you able to put them on a path that allows them to have success, whether it's in hockey or the business world? Whatever they become - doctors, lawyers, carpenters - did they understand the time and effort and commitment it takes to be successful?"

Follow me on Twitter: @eduhatschek

Associated Graphic

After an 18-year NHL career, Brent Sutter was set to retire, but an opportunity arose to get involved with junior hockey.


Climate plan will usher in a sea change
Ontario's $7-billion bid to slash carbon footprint will affect every aspect of life in province while disrupting auto and energy sectors
Monday, May 16, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A1

TORONTO -- The Ontario government will spend more than $7-billion over four years on a sweeping climate change plan that will affect every aspect of life - from what people drive to how they heat their homes and workplaces - in a bid to slash the province's carbon footprint.

Ontario will begin phasing out natural gas for heating, provide incentives to retrofit buildings and give rebates to drivers who buy electric vehicles. It will also require that gasoline sold in the province contain less carbon, bring in building code rules requiring all new homes by 2030 to be heated with electricity or geothermal systems, and set a target for 12 per cent of all new vehicle sales to be electric by 2025.

While such policies are likely to be popular with ecoconscious voters, who will now receive government help to green their lives, they are certain to cause mass disruption for the province's automotive and energy sectors, which will have to make significant changes to the way they do business. And they have already created tension within the government between Environment Minister Glen Murray and some of his fellow ministers who worry he is going too far.

The 57-page Climate Change Action Plan was debated by Premier Kathleen Wynne's cabinet Wednesday and subsequently obtained by The Globe and Mail.

Stamped "Cabinet Confidential," the document lays out a strategy from 2017 to 2021. It contains about 80 different policies, grouped into 32 different "actions." Each action has a price tag attached to it, as well as an estimate of the amount of emissions it will cut by 2020.

The Globe had previously uncovered details of the plan, but this is the first time the full blueprint has been revealed. The strategy is scheduled to be further reviewed by cabinet ministers and fine-tuned, sources said, with public release slated for June.

The many new programs will be paid for out of revenue from the province's upcoming capand-trade system, which is expected to be approved by the legislature this week and come into effect at the start of next year. Together, the cap-and-trade system and the action plan are the backbone of the province's strategy to cut emissions to 15 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, 37 per cent by 2030 and 80 per cent by 2050.

We are on the cusp of a oncein-a-lifetime transformation. It's a transformation of how we look at our planet and the impact we have on it," reads a preamble to the plan signed by Ms. Wynne.

"It's a transformation that will forever change how we live, work, play and move."

Highlights include: 6 $3.8-billion for new grants, rebates and other subsidies to retrofit buildings, and move them off natural gas and onto geothermal, solar power or other forms of electric heat. Many of these programs will be administered by a new Green Bank, modelled on a similar agency in New York State, to provide financing for solar and geothermal projects.

New building code rules that will require all homes and small buildings built in 2030 or later to be heated without using fossil fuels, such as natural gas. This will be expanded to all buildings before 2050. Other building code changes will require major renovations to include energy-efficiency measures. All homes will also have to undergo an energyefficiency audit before they are sold.

$285-million for electric vehicle incentives. These include a rebate of up to $14,000 for every electric vehicle purchased; up to $1,000 to install home charging; taking the provincial portion of the HST off electric vehicle sales; an extra subsidy program for low- and moderate-income households to get older cars off the road and replace them with electric; and free overnight electricity for charging electric vehicles. The plan sets targets of expanding electric vehicle sales to 5 per cent of all vehicles sold by 2020, up to 12 per cent by 2025, and aiming to get an electric or hybrid vehicle in every multivehicle driveway by 2024, a total of about 1.7 million cars.

New lower-carbon fuel standards would require all liquid transportation fuels, such as gasoline and diesel, to slash lifecycle carbon emissions by 5 per cent by 2020. The plan will also provide $176-million in incentives to fuel retailers to sell more biodiesel and 85-per-cent ethanol blend. The government will also oblige natural gas to contain more renewable content, such as gas from agriculture and waste products.

$280-million to help school boards buy electric buses and trucking companies switch to lower-carbon trucks, including by building more liquid natural gas fuelling stations.

$354-million toward the GO regional rail network.

$200-million to build more cycling infrastructure.

$375-million for research and development into new clean technologies.

$1.2-billion to help factories and other industrial businesses cut emissions.

$174-million to make the government carbon neutral. This will include retrofitting buildings, allowing some bureaucrats to work from home and buying carbon offsets.

The actions expected to cause the largest emissions cuts by 2020 are moving buildings and the electricity system off natural gas (three million tonnes); programs to make industry more energy efficient (2.5 million tonnes); the low-carbon fuel standard (two million tonnes); the renewable content requirement for natural gas (one million tonnes); and switching trucks and buses to liquefied natural gas and electricity (400,000 tonnes.)

Cutting natural gas, which currently provides 76 per cent of heating, will require mass adoption of green technologies in buildings across the province.

The plan lists geothermal systems, air heat pumps and rooftop solar panels as technologies that will be eligible for rebates. It could also require an expansion of the electricity grid. The plan promises, however, to subsidize any increased electricity costs for homeowners.

The electric vehicle targets represent a sea change for the province's $16-billion auto sector. The 2025 goal would boost to about 86,000 the number of annual electric vehicle sales, more than 20 times the number of electric vehicles sold in the province so far this century.

Already, the plan is causing tension within government, pitting Mr. Murray against Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli and Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid. Mr. Murray's colleagues, sources said, complained that he often did not bother to consult with other ministers as he drafted the strategy, and ignored their advice when he did.

Energy officials were particularly concerned about the new Green Bank, contending its functions could be handled by the Independent Electricity System Operator, sources said. Mr.

Duguid, meanwhile, was worried about the effect on the auto sector. Mr. Murray also aggravated colleagues with an Economic Club speech last month, in which he chastised auto companies for not doing enough to fight climate change and mused about closing down the province's nuclear power plants.

The behind-the-scenes battle played out at a meeting of cabinet ministers involved in the climate file two weeks ago, when Mr. Chiarelli and others confronted Mr. Murray with their complaints, sources said. After The Globe subsequently revealed the clash, all parties have tried to play it down.

We're working very well together. I'm very excited about it. We have a very, very good strong team and we've worked very hard for two years," Mr. Murray said last week.

Mr. Chiarelli, for his part, acknowledged there had been "debate" at Wednesday's cabinet meeting, but said it ended with "100 per cent consensus" on the climate plan.

We have a normal amount of debate on this issue," he said. "If you were to get a leak on every cabinet meeting, you would find out, you know, that there's a good airing of points of view on issues."

Asked if Mr. Murray had to change or water down the plan to get cabinet buy-in, Mr. Chiarelli cracked a grin.

You know what? I'd be breaking my oath if I told you that," he said. "You know that."

Associated Graphic

Tesla Motors unveils the new Model 3 electric sedan at the Tesla Motors design studio in Hawthorne, Calif., in March.


Creativity and strategy combine to put the T in Toronto's basketball playoff drive
Saturday, May 21, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S1

TORONTO -- Late morning on the day of each Toronto Raptors home playoff game, intriguing images start to filter out on social media that carry meaning for the fans. Those images might involve an angry beaver, a snowball with a snarling face, or the letters YYZ.

After the players finish their morning shoot-around at Air Canada Centre, media members arrive for interviews. They are the first to click and share photos of what awaits fans later that day: every seat in the ACC decked out in the latest from a collection of the Raptors' offbeat and buzz-worthy playoff shirts.

Freebie shirts that cloak fans in team colours and strengthen home-court advantage in the playoffs are nothing new.

They're a given in today's pro sports - another bit of inventory to sell to sponsors, another chance to strengthen a brand and an obvious invitation for fan selfies. The Raptors, though, wanted to break from the NBA pack and take a creative risk with their giveaway tees during this postseason.

During a planning meeting for the Raptors' playoff run, president and general manager Masai Ujiri issued a general challenge to the marketing department at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment.

"Masai challenged us to live up to what the brand is about and be disruptive and different and unexpected," said Shannon Hosford, MLSE's vice-president of marketing and communications.

"He wanted us to do something that other teams don't do, something you would only see in Toronto." Many teams put a team slogan or logo on the same-coloured T-shirt for the whole crowd to create a unified look at a playoff game. The Raptors chose to put a different - an unexpected - artwork on their shirts for every home playoff game and then arrange those shirts on the seats to create a different eye-popping pattern or message across the stadium.

The artwork has all been graffiti-inspired and an extension of the team's wildly popular "We The North" campaign. It takes nicknames for Toronto or urban-styled imagery of Canadian stereotypes and spins them as things to brag about.

The shirts have featured different graffiti-styled artwork, such as an angry beaver, a muscled maple leaf, a basketball dripping in paint and an aggressive flying snowball with a face - all spurring conversation from fans. A flaming "6" offered a nod to Toronto's area code, while a "Since '95" harkened back to the club's humble inaugural season.

Some fans on social media call the shirts edgy; others dismiss them as weird or say the references are way too vague for an NBA playoff game.

One game, red, white, black and grey shirts were placed out to create a camouflage backdrop.

Once they divvied out red and white ones to create the shape of a Maple Leaf. They've used the tees to spell out Toronto's monikers - such as "6ix" (a Drake-created spin on the 416) or "YYZ" (you know, Pearson Airport). The team is etching out these endearing little messages that only the Raptors faithful can truly appreciate.

"There are no Canadian NHL teams in the playoffs, so we looked at this as a real opportunity for us to do something that would get people's attention," said Dave Freeman, MLSE's head of brand marketing. "Put a mad snowball on there - it's cold here in Canada, so let's turn that on its head and make snow aggressive and a part of what we are.

That's what 'We The North' stands for - we're outsiders, we're different. No other team in the NBA is putting an angry snowball on their playoff T-shirt."

The idea of coaxing playoff fans to dress identically is often credited to the Winnipeg Jets back in the 1987 NHL playoffs, when they asked Jets fans to arrive at the game in white shirts. The powerful idea caught on and has grown over the years.

This year, the Cavs have given out shirts in gold, wine and white with their slogan "All In." The Portland Trail Blazers gave out "Rip City" shirts. The Oklahoma City Thunder have had a new playoff slogan for each hosting opportunity, often creating blocks of blue and white with them. The Charlotte Hornets created sections of teal and purple shirts which read "Swarm." The reigning champs, the Golden State Warriors, have been lauded for their idea "Strength in NuMbers," where the "M" on their gold shirts is made of tally marks recording the team's achievements.

"We've got some great marketers in the NBA and Toronto is certainly among the top," said Tracy Marek, senior vice-president and chief marketing officer for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"Their ideas this year have been really fresh and new. Toronto is like Cleveland - civic pride has grown in Cleveland and there's something really special happening in this marketplace. Just like 'The 6ix' has a special meaning in Toronto, and local vendors and celebrities are grasping on and making it uniquely yours, that's happening here in Cleveland, too. It's nice to see the two cities using this big stage to showcase that kind of pride."

The Raptors' shirts have kept fans clicking photos, sharing, discussing and anticipating - more fodder for a group already bantering about the Raps' pick-androll defence, or fretting over how best to defend LeBron James.

"The competition is not just on the court, it's also on the business side, and this is a chance for MLSE to show itself as an innovative business that is pushing the borders on creativity, galvanizing the fan base and aiming to create best practices," said Vijay Setlur, sport marketing instructor at York University's Schulich School of Business. "These different shirts set out in a special pattern - it's done to help create a sense of wonderment. We live in an experience economy, and turning each playoff game into its own spectacle heightens the fervour and affinity that people have for the team."

Printing more than 20,000 T-shirts for every home game - often on very short notice - is complicated. They're produced at a large Oakville facility called Entripy Custom Clothing. When the Raptors lost Game 6 to the Heat in Miami on a Friday night, Entripy worked around the clock to process and deliver shirts specifically planned for Sunday afternoon's Game 7.

"There is a new theme for each game, and we don't know too much ahead what we'll be printing, so we've got to be fast when we get word to start the order," said Jas Brar, Entripy's chief executive officer. "They work up a pattern in advance of each game, and then they tell us how many they want printed of each colour.

It's really unique, and we love the challenge."

Entripy delivers skids loaded with some 400 boxes of T-shirts to the ACC, and an army of MLSE employees is there to receive them - usually in the wee hours of game day. The staff meticulously places the shirts on the seats to achieve the desired pattern. They use a map of the stadium seating manifest with a colour-coded overlay from MLSE's marketing team. It's all in place before the players arrive for their morning shoot-arounds - and the colourful scene screams playoffs.

"When those first pictures go out on social media on a game day, it creates a sense of anticipation for people coming to the game," Freeman said. "It shows other people what they're missing and kind of makes them want to be there."

While MLSE is keeping quiet about what's in store for Games 3 and 4 in Toronto, they said the shirts will have special commemorative meaning for the club's first appearance in an Eastern Conference final.

Associated Graphic

T-shirts adorned with with aggressive or dripping snowballs, angry beavers, YYZ and colour schemes that create a maple leaf in the Air Canada Centre stands have spurred lots of conversation among Raptors fans during this spring's playoff run, now in its third series.


Fort Mac: Why haven't we heeded lessons?
Wildfires are inevitable in the boreal forest. Yet, the third conflagration in 13 years raises questions about our failure to learn from Kelowna and Slave Lake - to take steps to guard against their fury, Mark Hume reports
Saturday, May 21, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S1

As he stood on 12th Avenue with 35 homes and dozens of vehicles in flames around him, Lesser Slave Lake Regional Fire Chief Jamie Coutts was assaulted by a flood of thoughts.

One was that his team wasn't trained to fight the kind of mega-fire that had roared out of the northeast Alberta forest in May, 2011, igniting parts of Slave Lake with a blizzard of embers that rained from the sky.

Another was "this happened in Kelowna in 2003, why didn't we all learn from that?" After a massive blaze swept through Fort McMurray more than two weeks ago, forcing the evacuation of over 80,000 people, that question is being asked again by fire experts who think too little is being done to prevent wildfires from spreading into communities.

Despite wildfires that have caused billions of dollars of damage in recent years, only a relative handful of Canadian communities have fully embraced programs, such as FireSmart Canada, designed to keep suburbs safe from forest fires.

Fort McMurray was an early adopter of the defensive approach, launching a planning project in 1997 that aimed to turn the city into a "FireSmart community." The regional municipality spent $465,000 in provincial grants over the years on preventive measures, but it might not have done enough.

The town's wildfire-prevention officer couldn't be reached for comment; a provincial government spokesman, Renato Gandia, described the community as "a great partner of FireSmart."

Mr. Coutts said it is too soon to say what lessons can be learned from the Fort McMurray disaster, but one thing is clear - another community has been devastated by a wildfire, the scope of which might have been preventable.

"I feel that, as human beings, we are slow on the uptake here."

His comment wasn't meant as criticism of Fort McMurray, but rather of society in general for failing - despite several clear warnings - to take adequate steps to adapt to the increasing threat of wildfires.

Because of climate change, drought and more than a century of fire suppression which has built up fuel loads in the forests, mega-fires, which grow and move with shocking speed, are becoming more common.

"We have to take living in the boreal forest seriously," Mr. Coutts said. "That's not just [a lesson for] Fort McMurray, that's for every single person that lives in the boreal forest. That would be my top thing."

After the devastating Slave Lake fire five years ago, which destroyed nearly 400 homes, the community became a model for the FireSmart program.

Slave Lake now has firehardened suburbs where houses are built to higher flame-resistant standards; they are ringed by protection zones where fire fuel has been reduced, and the last line of defence now includes an urban firefighting team that has "cross-trained" with forest crews.

The blueprint Slave Lake used was provided by FireSmart Canada, a non-profit national program that aims to teach communities how to best protect themselves against wildfires.

For years the FireSmart manual had largely been ignored in Slave Lake, but the catastrophic fire changed attitudes.

"FireSmart used to be a black book with a fire [photo] on the front of it sitting on the shelf covered in dust. Now I could recite that book page for page if I wanted to and so could a lot of other folks in town," Mr. Coutts said.

Slave Lake got $20-million in provincial funding for the project, but he said few communities have the money needed to do the extensive work his town did.

Kelly Johnston, executive director of Partners in Protection Association, a group of national, provincial and municipal bodies that run FireSmart Canada, said the organization got going in the 1990s in response to the growing threat posed by wildfires.

Hundreds of communities in British Columbia and Alberta have since undertaken preventive programs, but only about 30 (and Fort McMurray is not on the list) have made the full sweep of changes needed to be certified as a "FireSmart community."

The program is organized around "seven disciplines": the education of people about the risks of living in forested areas; fuels management, or the thinning and removal of trees; legislation, such as bylaws banning wood-shake roofs; development guidelines to ensure new projects are fire-safe; planning for catastrophic fire; training structural firefighters to deal with wildfire; and development of a strategy for inter-agency cooperation.

Mr. Johnston said interest in the program is growing.

Most participating communities are in British Columbia and Alberta, but a few are in Ontario and Newfoundland.

Many more communities need to get involved, he said.

"We continue to try to stop these fires with fire suppression alone and that just doesn't work. Everybody needs to put as much effort into mitigation as they do into fire suppression," he said.

The small town of Logan Lake, about 50 kilometres southwest of Kamloops in southern British Columbia, is one place that took that message to heart.

Mayor Robin Smith said her community began to work at the program about a decade ago, after several big forest fires in the region.

"We have created a fire break around the whole community of Logan Lake and then we cleaned up all the brush and low-lying branches and anything that could be forest-fire fuel ... we've reworked all those areas over time and are just making sure we keep on top of the fuel out there," she said.

In British Columbia, $10million to $12-million is allocated annually to local governments and First Nations for forest-fire prevention programs, primarily FireSmart, under the Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiatives.

However, the B.C. Forest Practices Board in a report last year said the funding isn't adequate and only about 10 per cent of the forests that need to be treated have been.

In Alberta, which this week approved 34 FireSmart projects, about $4-million to $5-million a year is spent on FireSmart through the Forest Resource Improvement Association of Alberta (FRIAA) and a community grant program.

Todd Nash, manager of FRIAA, said not enough communities are applying for grants. "If you haven't faced an emergency in your own community, it doesn't hit home."

Alan Westhaver, a consultant based in Fernie, B.C., last year did a report for the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, looking at FireSmart projects done in Kelowna and Slave Lake after the catastrophic fires.

He found that, while a lot of good work had been done in both communities, Kelowna rated poorly in one key area - the fire zones immediately around many homes were still hazardous.

"People are really not getting the message. I was really surprised," he said.

By contrast, Mr. Westhaver said, homeowners in Slave Lake did a much better job of fireproofing their yards and the wider community. "It seems like there is a real culture of change there."

As recent pictures from Fort McMurray have illustrated, fire seems to skip capriciously through urban areas, burning some buildings while leaving others untouched.

But Mr. Westhaver, who looked at more than 400 homes in Kelowna and Slave Lake after wildfires swept through those communities, says it's not a fluke some buildings survive.

Those that do are usually built with fire-resistant material, with yards clear of fuel, and are surrounded by carefully managed forest zones. In a word, they are FireSmart.

Mr. Westhaver said he had "a real sinking feeling in my heart" when he saw images of the neighbourhoods reduced to ash in Fort McMurray.

"This seems so senseless," he said. "There are things we can do to prevent disasters like this from happening."

Associated Graphic

The wildfire's calling card: gutted homes and a smoky street in the Beacon Hill neighbourhood of Fort McMurray earlier this month.


Forest fires are a frequent occurence in the Okanagan; flames threaten one of several structures in Seclusion Bay in 2010.


The curious line roads to watch the Okanagan Mountain fire near Kelowna, B.C., in September, 2003.


Coming face to face with history
Yuxweluptun's exhibition at the Museum of Anthropology is a stunning show that illustrates a stark ugliness
Monday, May 16, 2016 – Print Edition, Page L7

VANCOUVER -- Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun and I are standing in front of his monumental 1991 painting Scorched Earth, Clear-cut Logging on Native Sovereign Land. Shaman Coming to Fix - one of the (many) highlights of his exhibition at the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver - when he reaches over and grabs the glasses from my face.

Those are your glasses, right?

I have them, they belong to you.

I'm using them, they're yours.

They're in my possession, you own them. I'm benefiting from it, but they're yours," he says, in a prolonged analogy where my glasses stand for the land, I am the First Nations and he is the government - the thief holding my property.

I have it. You own them. I'm using them. I'm destroying whatever I want but you can watch.

That is the usufruct. So every day that I have your glasses I am going to usufructure every right you [have]. I'm going to fruck you every day. I am the frucker that's frucking you around. So what is your problem? You're trying to get your glasses back.

But if you go and get a lawyer maybe we can talk for the next 200, 500 years about your rights.

Because I don't recognize them." (Because it was not a term I was familiar with before this conversation, "usufruct" is defined as the legal right of using and enjoying the fruits or profits of something belonging to another.)

Yuxweluptun explains his points with a raised voice that echoes through the galleries and quiets the weekday crowd taking in the show. They stop, creep closer and listen as he pronounces on missing and murdered indigenous women, the Mount Polley mine disaster, pipelines, Stephen Harper, the current British Columbia government and the relationship between environmental devastation and corporations.

The 1 per cent are saying, 'I want to kill this planet and I don't care what any of you people say; get the hell out of my face ... I have the power, I make the decisions.' ""Amen," one woman says.

The opening last Wednesday night for Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun: Unceded Territories attracted 2,000 people - making it the largest opening in MOA's history. It is a stunner of a show that places Yuxweluptun's provocative ideas in the spotlight along with his powerful paintings.

It's a very haunting show," Yuxweluptun says. "It's not an easy experience."

Like so much of Yuxweluptun's work, Scorched Earth is an accessible but complex wonder, colourful and aesthetically beautiful while illustrating a stark ugliness: a clear-cut, a weeping sun, a giant tear falling from the land, which is depicted in the same hues as the First Nations people - who are the land. A pink tongue extending from a mountain - like a tongue hanging from a dying animal - indicates the death of Mother Earth.

Tiny and surrounded by the beauty and devastation is a bear.

A few evergreens made up of ovoids remain; one, nearly bare, is as much signpost as tree. This is where we are heading! Take note! "It's not a pretty picture," the artist says. "But it is."

Born in Kamloops in 1957, Yuxweluptun, who lives in Vancouver, is of Coast Salish and Okanagan descent. He is an outspoken critic of the status quo - specific examples include the Indian Act, the land-claims process, pipelines and governments that support them - and these ideas are central to his practice.

He believes the name of British Columbia should be changed to reflect its pre-contact history and suggests, as a joke, the province of Traditional Native Territories instead.

Which, abbreviated, would be the province of TNT," he says with a laugh.

He also pronounces on the province's current government, the BC Liberals and its leader, Premier Christy Clark. In the 2015 painting Christy Clark and the Kinder Morgan Go-Go Girls, three masked women stand side by side - Clark, in the middle sports a navy pantsuit and pearls, but also long, sharp red nails/talons and a forked tongue.

I apologized to the snakes and had a talk with them and said I'm sorry for using your tongue, but it's the only way I could represent this person who says one thing in one way and says something else in another.

And so I made her with a forked tongue, as a super-predator," Yuxweluptun says. "It's such a political animal, this painting." It sold for $100,000 at a Vancouver Art Gallery fundraising auction last month.

Yuxweluptun may be a tough critic of the establishment, but the establishment seems to love him. Perhaps it's the beauty and whimsy with which the unapologetic messages are delivered.

Another painting addressing the global environmental crisis, Red Man Watching White Man Trying to Fix Hole in the Sky (1990) was flashed on the screen during a New York science conference on the ozone layer. He recalls being on reserve when he received a call asking for permission to use the work. "I said sure; go ahead. And they asked me, do you have anything to say? And I said, 'Fix it.' " Up close, little details in these large paintings can be observed.

The lab-coat-sporting scientist hoisting another on his shoulders hands the guy on top - who is trying to replace the hole in the sky with a patch of blue - a screwdriver.

In another environmental work, Killer Whale Has a Vision and Comes to Talk to Me about Proximological Encroachments of Civilizations in the Oceans (2010), a whale emerges from the polluted ocean to tell the artist that the oceans are dying.

The show traces Yuxweluptun's work over more than 30 years; the oldest work is his 1984 pioneering pop-art painting Haida Hotdog - the ovoid frankfurter a commentary on mass production of Northwest Coast art.

The most recent piece is the enormous Spirit Dancer Dances Around the Fire, completed this year and what Yuxweluptun calls a religious painting. Like the 1991 work Night in a Salish Longhouse, the work depicts the sacred space of the longhouse in illuminated tones against the dark interior space, reminiscent of European religious art.

I'm showing the world that this is how we pray, that it wasn't destroyed under colonialism rule; that when they tried to outlaw our culture, this still goes on," Yuxweluptun says. "So we've never lost our culture; it was hidden and it still is a very private place."

Yuxweluptun is a tremendous painter, but perhaps the most powerful piece in the show is the mixed-media installation Residential School Dirty Laundry (2013) - a large crucifix on the floor formed out of hundreds of pairs of white children's underwear, some splashed with a substance meant to resemble blood, with a ceramic cross in the centre and the inscription "For this child I prayed ..." (1 Samuel 1:27).

There's no national monument for me to go to so I made my own monument to remember the truth of what this country did to the aboriginal children," says Yuxweluptun, who was at residential school when he was 5 and 6. "I didn't end up in the hands of the priests but I do know what the suffering meant."

The show is particularly powerful in the context of this museum, filled as it is with art and artifacts made by indigenous people. Yuxweluptun himself has also publicly criticized MOA - often calling it an "Indian morgue," as the show's co-curators note in their catalogue essay.

The museum can't be divorced from the whole history," co-curator Karen Duffek says during an interview. "You're just brought face to face with it here."

Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun: Unceded Territories is at MOA at the University of British Columbia until Oct. 16 (

Associated Graphic

Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, seen in his studio, creates powerful paintings that illustrate provocative ideas.


Fish Farmers They Have Sea Lice (2014).


An Indian Game (Juggling the Books) (1996)


Intrepid travelling couple bring their unique world view to China
Monday, May 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A1

BEIJING -- They have snuck into Syria, been invited to the presidential palace in Mogadishu, visited Osama bin Laden's villa, gazed at the sites inside Baghdad's Green Zone and wandered around Chernobyl. They have climbed into a volcano, swam with piranhas, camped in -54 C and sailed around the world.

Move over, Rick Steves, Anthony Bourdain and Karl Pilkington. The small screen has a new set of headline-grabbing explorers, whose daring videos have together attracted more than a billion views - and the ire of China's censors after drone footage they shot was used by rebels to spot Islamic State fighters.

Liang Hong, 36, and Zhang Xinyu, 38, have spent the past eight years skipping across the globe by commercial aircraft, boat and car.

Their adventures have made them among China's most famous online figures. Along the way, they also have become accidental representatives of a rising China at its most inviting. They are neither commercial conquerors nor political meddlers. They are instead fellow travellers, concerned about historic preservation, intrigued by the past and determined to reveal the most remote and hostile corners of the world as they are experienced by ordinary people.

"We are just recording the road we've been travelling these past few years," Ms. Liang said. "We are both people who cherish life."

"A flower growing in a place hit by a depleted uranium bomb.

That's what we look for," Mr. Zhang said.

While filming for their show, On the Road, they have cooked Chinese food for troops in Iraq, been robbed in South Africa and handcuffed in the United States.

Next up during their fourth season: exploring with a plane they will fly themselves, and expect to land at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. Once they've finished that, they will trace the Arctic Circle around the top of the Earth - a trip that will see them spend a lot of time on Canadian soil.

Their wanderlust is emblematic of a China increasingly hungry to see the world: Chinese travellers made 120 million trips abroad last year. In 2014, they spent more than $210-billion on foreign travel, and Ms. Liang and Mr. Zhang offer a preview of the future, where a more daring generation skips Vancouver for the Northwest Passage and favours the Amazon over Amsterdam.

Many are like Ms. Liang and Mr. Zhang, whose backgrounds offer few hints they would one day set foot in more than 160 countries.

Both have mothers who are accountants. They grew up poor but together, first meeting when she was four and deciding at an early age they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together; they married in Antarctica.

As an adult, he went into business, selling tofu before expanding into international trade, which took him to Syria, Iran, Libya and North Korea.

But the earthquake that hit China's Sichuan province in 2008, killing 70,000, caused him to abandon the pursuit of profit.

"The most important thing in life is to experience all kinds of things and see the way all kinds of people live," he said.

As they began to travel, they brought along video cameras and, when they came home, invited friends over to watch.

One guest suggested other people might want to see the couple camping in the Russian winter and traipsing around Chernobyl - and suggested uploading videos to a Chinese equivalent of YouTube.

Making the show is expensive: Once, to get out of Afghanistan, they chartered an IL-76 transport for $1.4-million. Their third season cost $4.5-million to produce, and online ad revenues bring in barely enough to cover the Zhongnanhai cigarettes Mr. Zhang sucks back in quick succession.

But the couple bring so many views - 1.1 billion, at last count - that sponsors have opened their wallets. Mercedes-Benz, Asus and DHL pay for prominent product placements, even when the couple came up with ideas that bordered on foolhardy.

When Syria hit the news last year, they heard constant mention of a single name: Kobani, a city that had become a battleground for the Islamic State.

But what was life like for people there? "I just wanted to go and look," Mr. Zhang said.

Their videos show them sneaking into Syria in armoured cars protected by masked men with machine guns. "The first time I saw Kobani, I could not say anything. I was like, 'Is this a city?

This is just a heap of rubble,' "Ms. Liang said.

In a city few outsiders have visited since war broke out, they found piles of unexploded ordnance and danced with a battalion of female Kurdish soldiers. At a cemetery for soldiers, bodies were buried in graves so shallow that a fetid odour lingered.

The couple were granted permission to interview three captured Islamic State fighters, who were dragged out with their eyes covered and, not long after, executed.

They even used their camera drone to help Kurdish fighters spot Islamic State artillery and machine gun positions. It made for dramatic footage.

But the Syria episodes hit the Internet last November, the same month the Islamic State executed a Chinese hostage; soon after, every second of On the Road was yanked, raising worries the hosts had fallen afoul of censors unwilling to countenance edgy material.

The couple says it's not true: "Some terrorist organizations took us as their enemy. We might be at risk. They were kind of trying to protect us," Mr. Zhang said.

As evidence, he said, the full suite of 87 past episodes is returning to the Chinese Internet, beginning in June.

Being Chinese, it turns out, confers all manner of advantages for the traveller. In dangerous places, kidnappers value them far less than whites. "Were I not Chinese, there's no way I would have left the north of Iraq alive," Mr. Zhang said.

What they have seen has changed the couple. In the past season, Ms. Liang noticed she was laughing less. "I kept breaking into tears."

One instance stood out: Ms. Liang was in her bullet-proof car when men and children began pelting it with rocks.

"The reason was very simple.

It's because I'm a woman driver," Ms. Liang said. Her tears were out of "deep pity for these people.

They have lost so many basic rights that should belong to all human beings, under the rule of an extremist force."

But if that sounds like the kind of support for universal democratic human rights that might resonate with Western observers, the couple's travels have led them to very different conclusions.

Travelling in the wake of the Arab Spring has left Mr. Zhang disillusioned. "At the outset, I thought freedom of speech was very important," he said. But in Libya and Iraq, the remnants of democratic uprising and American intervention have not been pretty.

"One of China's virtues is its social stability," Ms. Liang said.

It's also a country whose people are convinced no problem is too intractable to solve - be it building the world's highest-elevation bullet train, or, perhaps, quelling ancient religious conflict.

Seeing firsthand the ravages of sectarian conflict made the couple question whether something can be done. They now want to hold a concert in Jerusalem, to invite a Jewish and Arabic poet to the stage and have them "rhyme together hand in hand, one in Hebrew the other in Arabic," Mr. Zhang said.

They want to broadcast the concert live and have pitched the idea of a two-hour ceasefire while it is under way. "The Kurdish military in Iraq agreed to halt fire, and the Syrians also signed on," Mr. Zhang said. (The Globe was unable to verify this claim.)

He rejects the idea that it's a fantasy.

"It's not a dream," he said. "It's a plan."

Associated Graphic

Liang Hong, left, and Zhang Xinyu visit Chernobyl in August, 2012.


Mr. Zhang, left, and Ms. Liang pose atop volcano Mount Yasur on Tanna Island, Vanuatu, in November, 2012.

Five hidden gems across Canada
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, May 21, 2016 – Print Edition, Page T3

In 2012, I moved to Canada from Britain and since then have been crisscrossing this gorgeous nation, soaking up its beauty from coast to coast to coast. Canadians often say to me that I've been to more places in their country than they have, and I always reply that's such a shame, because damn, Canada! You're dazzling! There's almost no need to go anywhere else when you have such a vast treasure trove right here on your own - admittedly vast - doorstep. From paddling with beluga whales as the sun sets over Hudson Bay to camping out on an Atikamekw reserve in a romantic teepee, Canada offers extraordinary variety and astounding natural beauty, you don't need to go far to find inspiration for your next great vacation.


The Bay of Fundy may not have made the new seven wonders of the world list in 2011, but it certainly should be on yours. Advocate Harbour is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it community in Nova Scotia, jutting out into the home of the world's greatest tidal range, where a massive 115 billion tonnes of water flow in and out twice daily.

You can head out on a sea kayak trip with Nova Shores from Cape Chignecto Park and paddle through narrow archways, past gnarly rocky spindles and around the Three Sisters, the jagged fingers of rock which soar skywards from the ocean floor.

Stop off for a picnic on a sandy, driftwood-scattered beach, then marvel at the tidal power on your return, as your kayak seems to have mysteriously moved metres away from the shoreline and the rocks - which just an hour ago were half submerged but are now almost fully exposed to their roots.

Enjoy adventurous cooking from husband-and-wife team Andrew Aitken and Sarah Griebel at Wild Caraway, in a century-old house, with a modern seasonal menu adorned with gems such as seaweed popcorn and applewood-smoked sour cream with mackerel tartare. Later, snuggle up in a chalet, with its own hot tub, overlooking the sea at Driftwood Park Retreat.


Get far away from, well, everything at traditional native site Matakan on Kempt Lake, near Manawan in Quebec, about four hours north from Montreal. Delve deep into First Nations culture, cuisine and customs with a two-night wilderness adventure with guides from the Atikamekw nation on an island that's only accessible by boat or canoe in summer or snowmobile in winter.

Take off your watch, put your cellphone away, and let yourself experience the heartbeat of nature. This is responsible cultural tourism at its best, and a rare chance to experience the pristine nature of this rarely visited region of Canada.

Daytime brings interpretive hiking around the island discovering medicinal plants, craft and language workshops and a chance to help install fishing nets out on the lake to catch dinner. At night the campfire crackles and the stars are dazzling, so take an astronomical walk or paddle out in a rabaska canoe by the moonlight to see the sky with new eyes. Listen to the guides tell Atikamekw stories and legends, and learn the history of the people and the place.

Feast on moose meat and freshmade bannock by the fireside. Inside your tepee, it's cozy and warm, sleep soundly on a bed of soft aromatic fir branches.


Everyone says that winter is the time to head north to Churchill to see the polar bears, but I'm here to tell you that everyone is wrong. The best time to discover Churchill is in July and August, when you can see birds, belugas and bears - all without the need for bulky Arctic gear, just a light fleece.

Fly from Winnipeg or take the train north (you can't drive to Churchill), and then spend time marvelling at the sheer emptiness of the landscape. This is wilderness country.

Lazy Bear Expeditions' summer adventure package will show you everything this historic frontier town has to offer, from the ruins of the Prince of Wales fort that dates to 1771 to the town's "polar bear jail" and its natural wonders.

Hundreds of beluga whales come to feed, mate and give birth in the relatively warm waters of the Churchill River each summer, and you'll see their sparkling white bodies coasting the waves as you walk along the shore.

Join a sunset kayak trip and see the waves and playful whales turn pink in the rosy glow of the setting sun. Climb aboard an Arctic crawler to explore the tundra to spot sleepy bears paddling in ponds, fields of vivid wild flowers and flocks of nesting and migrating birds; as Canadian adventures go, this is hard to beat.


Find sunshine and solace in Canada's desert beside the cooling lakeside beaches of Osoyoos, surrounded by barren scrub-covered hills dotted with Ponderosa pines. A five-hour drive from Vancouver or 90 minutes from Kelowna, the lush orchards, overflowing fruit stands and award-winning vineyards of the Okanagan await.

Enjoy an all-ages vacay with excellent golf and spa facilities, as well as kid-friendly beach attractions, and seriously elevated wining and dining. Try Spirit Ridge at Nk'Mip Resort, home of Canada's first First Nationsowned winery, perched high on the bluffs. Explore the resort's fascinating desert cultural centre (watch out for the rattlesnakes), laze by the pool, enjoy a round of golf at the nine-hole Sonora Dunes, or just indulge at the Mica restaurant, with its ambrosial menu from acclaimed chef Lee Humphries and its dazzling patio views.

Sniff, swirl and sip your way around the dozens of wineries in the area with OK Wine Shuttle, which offers a six-hour hop-on, hop-off tour for $65, which typically includes tasting fees at 10 wineries along the way.

Down by Osoyoos Lake, Watermark Beach Resort offers a spa packed with natural products, a wellness program with everything from daily beach-side yoga to meditation classes, and a delicious barbecue.


Just after Nanoose Bay on Vancouver Island, the coastal road separates, with Highway19 turning into the high-speed Island Highway, which leads you inland to Campbell River. But take the slower-paced 19A and make the turn for the Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort to enjoy three kilometres of private sandy beach, 22 forested acres and the warmest ocean swimming waters in Canada. Take the family pet and stay in one of the rustic but well-appointed wooden cabins that sit under the shady orange arbutus trees and delicately scented Douglas firs.

By day stroll on that golden sandy beach where the tide rolls back for what seems like several kilometres, and the mountains on the horizon reach up to the clouds.

Make time to visit the Grotto spa, which recently scooped the No. 1 spot in Canada from the annual Spas of America awards, where you can float in the warm silky mineral waters and let the spa waterfall pound away any stress.

Next to the resort is Rathtrevor Provincial Park, surely one of Canada's most beautiful public parks. Stake your claim on a blanket on the dunes or at one of the picnic tables dotted under the shady firs that circle the beach, and enjoy the time-honoured tradition of a bucket and spade break, Island-style.

The writer was a guest of Destination BC, Tigh-Na-Mara, Tourisme Autochtone Quebec, Nova Scotia Tourism, the Lazy Bear Lodge, Travel Manitoba, Spirit Ridge and Destination Osoyoos. They did not preview or approve the story before publication.

Associated Graphic

Rent a kayak and paddle through narrow archways, past gnarly rocky spindles and around the jagged rocks of the Three Sisters in Advocate, N.S.


Visit Churchill, Man., during the summer to marvel at the beluga whales.

The spa at Tigh-Na-Mara Resort on Vancouver Island is award-winning.

Sleep in a teepee at Matakan on Kempt Lake in Quebec.


To build a home
Jay Pitter recalls growing up in a Scarborough social-housing development, and the profound sense of marginalization it instilled
Saturday, May 21, 2016 – Print Edition, Page M7

Home was on the other side of the tracks. Past the strip mall, along a winding street, under the hydro lines and over the subway tracks, and across a parking lot. "This was it," Jay Pitter says with a long sigh. "This was home."

The 12-storey apartment building in west Scarborough is where Ms. Pitter spent her childhood from 6 to 16, living with her mother in social housing. The building belongs to Toronto Community Housing today, and Ms. Pitter visited the place recently to show me the place she lived - and all that was wrong with it.

Ms. Pitter is the co-editor of Subdivided: City-Building in an Age of Hyper-Diversity, a powerful new essay collection from Coach House Books; she wrote the introduction as well as an essay, "Designing Dignified Social Housing," that combines critiques of how social housing is conceived and Ms. Pitter's recollections of this place.

She speaks of a profound alienation - and she ably critiques the physical attributes that made the place, and its residents, feel like outsiders. That isolation and sense of marginalization that badly hurt some of her friends and neighbours.

Ms. Pitter herself has moved on.

She holds a post-graduate degree, lives downtown and works as a stakeholder engagement director; but she has a strong interest in placemaking, and with her essay, she is bringing some of her professional training to bear on this building.

"I feel like a lot of people who live in these communities don't have a window on the outside world, and they don't develop a sense of spatial entitlement," she says. "They don't feel entitled to more beautiful spaces, to safer spaces. It creates a psychological effect that's real."

On a sunny morning this month, Ms. Pitter's childhood building near Warden and Danforth seemed in reasonable shape; its concrete and brick facades and concrete balconies were largely in good repair, the grass lawns mown, the pavement well-tended. The building's front hallway, where Ms. Pitter remembers drug dealers and sexual predators hanging out at will in the 1980s, was both deserted and clean.

But it was also cramped. The lobby is surprisingly small; the building's halls narrow; the windows in the ground-floor laundry room high and tiny, wrapped in bars. Ms. Pitter left here more than 20 years ago, and has rarely been back. "The only additions I can see anywhere on the building," she says, "have been bars on the windows and security cameras."

And this matters. "In other buildings, barriers are created by beautiful low walls, by shrubs," she says. "Here, there are bars. It's an institutional community."

The basketball court a few minutes' walk away, the one place devoted to youth recreation, is hemmed in by buildings, flanked by a high iron fence on two sides - concealed from the rest of the community and physically contained. "It is a cage," Ms. Pitter says, looking around. "If you come to play here, you are going to be playing in a cage."

When Ms. Pitter was growing up here, that sense was equally clear.

"You knew," Ms. Pitter recalls.

"You learn spatial shame really early ... I saw other people's homes, and there was a sense of dignity and order; and then I came back here and there was a very different feeling."

Ms. Pitter's and her mother's first home, as immigrants from Jamaica to Canada, was her grandmother's house near St.

Clair and Dufferin. Ms. Pitter's grandmother "came from a family that owned things, and that was important to her," Ms. Pitter recalls. She bought a large house "and carved it up into a million pieces. I think she always had six or eight tenants."

But Ms. Pitter's mother "was a free-spirited newcomer intent on integrating," she writes in her essay. "My grandmother was a traditional Pentecostal who loved the Lord, wrestling, and judging women who wore miniskirts." So into social housing they went.

And, in the 1980s, this was a dangerous place: Ms. Pitter recalls an underage sex trade that took advantage of teenage girls she knew. One of those girls - the older sister of a friend of Ms. Pitter, who was preyed upon by a local pimp - was murdered.

Ms. Pitter writes: "Where I grew up, our address and postal code were the equivalent of a scarlet letter - a place-based mark branding us as second-class citizens."

She describes condescension from teachers, and from friends' parents, that was coloured by racism. But Ms. Pitter dwells on the stigma that affects all socialhousing residents equally, the fact of being set apart.

For one thing, many residents had no sense of belonging. "My mother always made it clear that we would be moving on from here," Ms. Pitter says now. "And she did; it was only 10 years of her life that we spent here, but for me it was formative." This lack of ownership, literally and symbolically, is powerful.

Why? It's not simply the fact that it is an apartment building.

At a glance, the building is much like other modernist tower blocks in the former Scarborough, Etobicoke and North York, many of which are stable and safe communities. But here, the recipe has been diluted; there is an inherent stinginess in the architecture.

In her essay, Ms. Pitter cites the scholar John C. Bacher that "social housing in Canada was visually designed to affirm that it was inferior accommodation intended to serve a low-income group." This is visibly the case here - as it is in certain other social-housing developments of the same period in Toronto. It's not just that these places have been poorly maintained and hard-worn; it's that they were built to look and feel cheap in the first place.

This, despite the idealism that animated the work of the period.

Architects in the 1960s saw themselves as agents of social change: To build housing for the people was the great goal of the modernist movement in architecture, which was aligned with the ambitious welfare state of the period.

In the world of urbanism and architecture, much of Ms. Pitter's critique will sound familiar.

Social-housing advocates, including the Pritzker Prize-winning Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena, focus heavily on questions of community engagement and economic stability.

And the no-man's-lands of Ms. Pitter's neighbourhood are also out of fashion. All around the houses and apartment buildings of Warden Woods, there is a wealth of green space, front yards and side yards and unnamed green patches that belong to nobody in particular.

Today, making neighbourhoods connect to the rest of the city, and making public spaces that are defensible - to have "eyes on the street," in Jane Jacobs's phrase - is a given. North American public-housing providers now embrace the ideal of integration; TCH is attempting to break down the physical and social barriers that separate its tenants from the larger community, rebuilding neighbourhoods to include market-rate housing in Lawrence Heights, Alexandra Park and in Regent Park.

Those "revitalizations" are thoughtful efforts to undo some of the failed urban design of a half-century ago and remove the quarantined aspect of places like this. By bringing in market-rate housing, they also bring in private money to address TCH's massive repair backlog, which it estimates at $2.6-billion.

But that number is too small: Even if the concrete isn't crumbling, homes such as this retain a deficit of dignity.

Subdivided launches May 24 at Revival Bar in Toronto (783 College St).

Associated Graphic

Jay Pitter stands in her former community-housing neighbourhood in Scarborough earlier this month.


At first glance, Jay Pitter's childhood home is much like other tower blocks in Scarborough, Etobicoke and North York, many of which are safe communities. But she recalls the stigma that affects all social-housing residents.


Fort Mac: Why haven't we heeded lessons?
Wildfires are inevitable in the boreal forest. Yet, the third conflagration in 13 years raises questions about our failure to learn from Kelowna and Slave Lake - to take steps to guard against their fury, Mark Hume reports
Saturday, May 21, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S1

As he stood on 12th Avenue with 35 homes and dozens of vehicles in flames around him, Lesser Slave Lake Regional Fire Chief Jamie Coutts was assaulted by a flood of thoughts.

One was that his team wasn't trained to fight the kind of megafire that had roared out of the northeast Alberta forest in May, 2011, igniting parts of Slave Lake with a blizzard of embers that rained from the sky.

Another was "this happened in Kelowna in 2003, why didn't we all learn from that?" After a massive blaze swept through Fort McMurray more than two weeks ago, forcing the evacuation of more than 80,000 people, that question is being asked again by fire experts who think too little is being done to prevent wildfires from spreading into communities.

Despite wildfires that have caused billions of dollars of damage in recent years, only a relative handful of Canadian communities have fully embraced programs, such as FireSmart Canada, designed to keep suburbs safe from forest fires.

Fort McMurray was an early adopter of the defensive approach, launching a planning project in 1997 that aimed to turn the city into a "FireSmart community." The regional municipality spend $465,000 in provincial grants over the years on preventive measures, but it might not have done enough. The town's wildfire-prevention officer couldn't be reached for comment; a provincial government spokesman, Renato Gandia, described the community as "a great partner of FireSmart."

Mr. Coutts said it is too soon to say what lessons can be learned from the Fort McMurray disaster, but one thing is clear - another community has been devastated by a wildfire, the scope of which might have been preventable.

"I feel that, as human beings, we are slow on the uptake here."

His comment wasn't meant as criticism of Fort McMurray, but rather of society in general for failing - despite several clear warnings - to take adequate steps to adapt to the increasing threat of wildfires.

Because of climate change, drought and more than a century of fire suppression which has built up fuel loads in the forests, megafires, which grow and move with shocking speed, are becoming more common.

"We have to take living in the boreal forest seriously," Mr. Coutts said. "That's not just [a lesson for] Fort McMurray, that's for every single person that lives in the boreal forest. That would be my top thing."

After the devastating Slave Lake fire five years ago, which destroyed nearly 400 homes, the community became a model for the FireSmart program.

Slave Lake now has fire-hardened suburbs where houses are built to higher flame-resistant standards; they are ringed by protection zones where fire fuel has been reduced, and the last line of defence now includes an urban firefighting team that has "cross-trained" with forest crews.

The blueprint Slave Lake used was provided by FireSmart Canada, a non-profit national program that aims to teach communities how to best protect themselves against wildfires.

For years, the FireSmart manual had largely been ignored in Slave Lake, but the catastrophic fire changed attitudes.

"FireSmart used to be a black book with a fire [photo] on the front of it sitting on the shelf covered in dust. Now, I could recite that book page for page if I wanted to and so could a lot of other folks in town," Mr. Coutts said.

Slave Lake got $20-million in provincial funding for the project, but he said few communities have the money needed to do the extensive work his town did.

Kelly Johnston, executive director of Partners in Protection Association, a group of national, provincial and municipal bodies that run FireSmart Canada, said the organization got going in the 1990s in response to the growing threat posed by wildfires.

Hundreds of communities in British Columbia and Alberta have since undertaken preventive programs, but only about 30 (and Fort McMurray is not on the list) have made the full sweep of changes needed to be certified as a "FireSmart community." The program is organized around "seven disciplines": the education of people about the risks of living in forested areas; fuels management, or the thinning and removal of trees; legislation, such as bylaws banning woodshake roofs; development guidelines to ensure new projects are fire-safe; planning for catastrophic fire; training structural firefighters to deal with wildfire; and development of a strategy for inter-agency co-operation.

Mr. Johnston said interest in the program is growing. Most participating communities are in British Columbia and Alberta, but a few are in Ontario and Newfoundland.

Many more communities need to get involved, he said. "We continue to try to stop these fires with fire suppression alone and that just doesn't work. Everybody needs to put as much effort into mitigation as they do into fire suppression."

The small town of Logan Lake, about 50 kilometres southwest of Kamloops in southern British Columbia, is one place that took that message to heart.

Mayor Robin Smith said her community began to work at the program about a decade ago, after several big forest fires in the region.

"We have created a fire break around the whole community of Logan Lake and then we cleaned up all the brush and low-lying branches and anything that could be forest-fire fuel ... we've reworked all those areas over time and are just making sure we keep on top of the fuel out there," she said.

In B.C., $10-million to $12-million is allocated annually to local governments and First Nations for forest-fire prevention programs, primarily FireSmart, under the Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiatives.

However, the B.C. Forest Practices Board in a report last year said the funding isn't adequate and only about 10 per cent of the forests that need to be treated have been.

In Alberta, which this week approved 34 FireSmart projects, about $4-million to $5-million a year is spent on FireSmart through the Forest Resource Improvement Association of Alberta (FRIAA) and a community grant program.

Todd Nash, manager of FRIAA, said not enough communities are applying for grants. "If you haven't faced an emergency in your own community, it doesn't hit home."

Alan Westhaver, a consultant based in Fernie, B.C., last year did a report for the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, looking at FireSmart projects done in Kelowna and Slave Lake after the catastrophic fires.

He found that, while a lot of good work had been done in both communities, Kelowna rated poorly in one key area - the fire zones immediately around many homes were still hazardous.

"People are really not getting the message. I was really surprised," he said.

By contrast, Mr. Westhaver said, homeowners in Slave Lake did a much better job of fire-proofing their yards and the wider community. "It seems like there is a real culture of change there."

As recent pictures from Fort McMurray have illustrated, fire seems to skip capriciously through urban areas, burning some buildings while leaving others untouched.

But Mr. Westhaver, who looked at more than 400 homes in Kelowna and Slave Lake after wildfires swept through those communities, says it's not a fluke some buildings survive. Those that do are usually built with fire-resistant material, with yards clear of fuel, and are surrounded by carefully managed forest zones. In a word, they are FireSmart.

Mr. Westhaver said he had "a real sinking feeling in my heart" when he saw images of the neighbourhoods reduced to ash in Fort McMurray.

"This seems so senseless," he said. "There are things we can do to prevent disasters like this from happening."

Associated Graphic

Forest fires are a frequent occurence in B.C.'s Okanagan Valley; flames threaten a row of houses in Seclusion Bay in 2010.


The curious line roads to watch the Okanagan Mountain fire near Kelowna in 2003.


One anniversary that China does not want
Fifty years later, most of the People's Republic is still trying hard to forget or ignore the destruction and the trauma caused by Mao's
Saturday, May 21, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A12

BEIJING -- In late November, 1966, authorities arrested Liu Wenzhong and his older brother for questioning the man who had thrown China into chaos.

The two had posted an article lashing out at the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution that Chairman Mao had imposed on the country only a few months before.

His brother, Liu Wenhui, thought it would bring grave disaster by further entrenching a dictatorship under Mao. He dared to write as much, publicly challenging the Great Helmsman.

For his sins, he was executed by a firing squad. The younger Mr. Liu was imprisoned for 13 years. But what his brother wrote came true.

The Cultural Revolution created a "destruction and contortion of Chinese people's spirit, morality, beliefs and ideas," and Mr.

Liu was determined not to forget it. He wrote a book and the sprawling family regularly gathered "on the anniversary of his death to commemorate my brother, and to denounce the Cultural Revolution," Mr. Liu said.

In a country determined to blot out the tumult and violence Mao inspired, such family gatherings were among the few ways to ensure memories of his older brother survived.

But those gatherings have changed in recent years. "It's very hard to get the next generation fully involved," Mr. Liu said.

Children grow bored with hearing "the same old things, and they don't want to remember and listen to bad memories that were buried in the past," he said.

"They are just like most others in society now, forgetting about the past and looking only toward money."

The launch of the Cultural Revolution 50 years ago plunged China into years of disorder and disruption. Children turned against parents, students against teachers and a society against itself. In some places, people labelled "capitalist roaders" were eaten.

To mark its anniversary this week, People's Daily, the Communist Party outlet, released a commentary saying China would never "allow a re-enactment of a mistake like the Cultural Revolution," acknowledging that "the harm it created was comprehensive and severe."

Otherwise, the 50th anniversary of an event whose horrors became one of modern China's defining moments was relegated to the blackness of unremembered history. Newspapers printed virtually nothing. Censors deleted online discussions. Outspoken Chinese faced pressure not to discuss amongst themselves.

Three people contacted by The Globe and Mail for this article declined to talk, citing worries about surveillance. One person postponed an interview by two days, after authorities told him to stay home. Police physically blocked another couple from leaving their home to meet friends for a regular monthly meeting this week. They met The Globe and Mail at a tea house instead, and frequently looked out the window to uniformed police standing outside.

"What the government is doing is disgraceful, trying to silence people," said Zhang Lijia, a Beijing-based author and cultural observer.

"It's such a major event which has shaped China, and they don't allow people to discuss it because they don't want open discussion of anything negative associated with the Chinese Communist Party."

That has cut off most avenues of discussion outside the home.

When Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television sampled attitudes among young Chinese about the Cultural Revolution this week, it discovered a generation that drew its little knowledge from parents and grandparents.

"Mainly through my family.

The older members of my family talk about these things," one woman said. "I feel that history textbooks don't really address it enough," said another.

The books that are available, meanwhile, go unopened - even by those with most reason to read them. In, 1988, writer Ma Bo published Blood-Red Sunset, a novel-length account of his experience in the Cultural Revolution. He criticized his own mother, a famous writer, and robbed the family home. She, in turn, wrote a letter disowning him because "you let the party and us down."

Years later, Mr. Ma's account, published under his pen name Lao Gui, still stands as one of the most unflinching accounts of "scar literature." But his own son, who lives in the United States, hasn't read it, even though it has been translated into English. "The Cultural Revolution was very dark and brutal - the darkest period under Party leadership," he said.

His son, however, "feels no interest at all."

In other homes, parents are unwilling to recount their past.

In 2014, Dong Jian, a songwriter, went to see Coming Home with his mother. The Cultural Revolution-era film shows a family split apart, and a daughter selling out her father. It echoed some of Mr. Dong's family past, with a mother who lived separated from her husband. When the movie ended, "I asked her what she thought. She sighed and said nothing," Mr. Dong said.

His own curiosity has led him to study what happened - he believes the Cultural Revolution was a force for good, helping to preserve China from splitting up like other Communist states. But his mother won't discuss it.

"My mother's attitude towards my studies is, what use is it? Can it earn you money?" Mr. Dong said.

Harvard professor Roderick MacFarquhar has for many years taught a course on the Cultural Revolution, a subject on which he has written extensively.

Often, his Chinese students "thank me for telling me about the Cultural Revolution, since their parents or grandparents had not told them anything," he said. In part, he says, it's because wealthy Chinese suffered greatly.

"Either they beat people up or they were beaten up. I wouldn't want to tell my kids about such events and perhaps Chinese parents feel the same way," he said.

"Which is a pity, since families have to be the repository of knowledge about the Cultural Revolution."

The question of how families discuss traumatic events is welltrodden in science, largely in the context of the Holocaust.

Researchers have found that trauma often extends through generations, even when parents refuse to discuss their experiences, leaving their hurt to be expressed, as one academic paper put it, in "veiled references or mysterious outbursts of grief."

Similar ills haunt China today.

"Grievances and emotions are still there. They have not been properly vented or channelled into more productive dialogue or discussions," said Yiching Wu, a University of Toronto researcher currently writing a book on the origins of the Cultural Revolution.

But discussing what happened is difficult because of how the turbulence of the times blurred the lines between neighbour, government and enemy.

Take Ms. Zhang, who at 4 saw her grandfather's stiffened body hanging inside a communal hall near her home. A grain-seller, he killed himself out of fear that he and his family would suffer humiliation.

The sight is her first memory, and growing up she was fortunate to have a mother who spoke about people she knew who were killed by knives and factory tools. A friend recounted a story from her own family, who recalled villagers cutting off a landlord's head and then kicking it like a football. "People met horrible deaths. And she was willing to talk about this. I guess when people suffer, they want people to know about the suffering," Ms. Zhang said.

But, she said, the mere act of remembering is not enough.

"Why did the Cultural Revolution happen? And what does it say about China? My mother never asked these questions," she said.

"Ordinary Chinese people are encouraged just to forget about what happened and look at the positive side, to be grateful for how China has risen in the world."

Associated Graphic

A cleaner sweeps in front of the mausoleum of Mao Zedong at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Monday, which was the 50th anniversary of the start of the Cultural Revolution.


Chinese youths wave copies of Mao's Little Red Book at a rally in September, 1966, four months into the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, which led to an extended period of upheaval.


The man who predicted Trump's rise
Norman Ornstein tells The Globe's Joanna Slater why the Republican Party's likely presidential candidate wasn't such a long shot
Saturday, May 21, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A16

Norman Ornstein is a political scientist at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. Back in August, 2015, when Donald Trump's candidacy was widely viewed as a joke, Mr. Ornstein published a piece arguing that Mr. Trump could win the Republican nomination. Mr. Ornstein explains the roots of the Trump phenomenon and the future of the Republican Party.

Your piece from August, 2015, feels pretty prescient these days. How does it feel to be one of the only people who saw this coming?

To be perfectly truthful, I would rather have been wrong. Of course, there's a part of me that feels some satisfaction, because there were plenty of leading experts who pooh-poohed the whole notion. But I'm not real happy at the direction our politics have taken.

When did you start to feel that this time really could be different?

I really began to feel in about May of last year that Mr. Trump and [Texas Senator Ted] Cruz were likely to be the ones to fight it out for the nomination.

Some of this was based on a lot of years being right in the belly of the beast, but also watching the dynamics outside. In 2012, my long-time writing partner and friend Thomas Mann and I wrote a book, It's Even Worse Than It Looks, that reflected our belief, after four-plus decades in Washington, that we were careening out of control.

Starting in 2009, Republicans said, "We're going to behave like a parliamentary party," only in a system that doesn't have either the parliamentary structures or the culture. As you know, the culture of a parliamentary system is you have a majority and the majority makes decisions.

Even if you don't like those decisions - the minority vociferously opposes every one of them - people believe those are legitimate decisions. In our system, the culture is built around the idea of this extended republic, where you do debate and deliberation to build broad leadership consensus around policies. What [Republicans did] was to unite against everything that the Democrats and [President Barack] Obama wanted to do, even if they had been for it before. They weren't going to win on everything, but they were going to make every victory look ugly and illegitimate.

Republicans would say, well, the Democrats are no different. But you've argued that the current Republican Party has become 'an insurgent outlier'

This is different. Just to give an example: [In November, 2000] George W. Bush gets elected president after the most controversial, contested election in at least 100 years.

If Democrats had behaved the way Republicans did with Mr.

Obama - who won in a landslide, really - then they would have united to an individual against Mr. Bush. Democrats would have filibustered in the Senate, they would have blocked everything and they would have created the whole idea that Mr. Bush was an illegitimate president. Instead, Democrats in Congress - including some of the most liberal members such as Ted Kennedy - immediately worked with Mr. Bush to pass major pieces of legislation such as No Child Left Behind and tax cuts.

After the 2008 election, you have this new generation of conservative leaders who went around the country to recruit Tea Party-type populist candidates and incite anger in a lot of people. It worked beautifully for them.

In the midterm elections in 2010, they made massive gains and took a majority in the House of Representatives. But they did it in a couple of ways that led to the politics of the Republican Party now.

One was to promise the moon and the sun. Namely, you give us power and we'll bring Barack Obama to his knees. We'll repeal Obamacare, we'll repeal DoddFrank [a piece of financialreform legislation], we'll blow up government as we've known it.

Did some Republican voters believe that was actually possible?

Yes. So you've got a group of Republicans and Republican sympathizers out there who now basically believe their own leaders have taken them down a garden path, have seduced and abandoned them repeatedly. The level of distrust combined with another factor: people increasingly looking at government as failing them completely. Then you have the data. Going back to last April and May, every poll of Republicans showed 60-70 per cent support for outsiders and insurgent candidates and 20 per cent or less for establishment figures.

Enter Donald Trump

Mr. Trump was one of 17 candidates, a curiosity at the beginning. Then he was clever enough to seize on the immigration issue and move to the right of Ted Cruz and everybody else in his rhetoric and his approach.

That was the skyrocket that took him to the top of the field.

He recognized that the immigration issue was not just a strong issue at a difficult economic time. Mr. Trump also understood that white working-class people were beginning to see not only stagnant wages and manipulation by billionaires and elites, but also that the country was moving inexorably towards majority-minority status [in which minorities together make up a majority of the electorate]. So you have a slogan like "Make America great again," which is, basically, we'll make it like it was in the 1950s, when you thought everybody was happy.

Do you think Mr. Trump could actually win?

Yes. I don't think it's likely. I put the odds at 80-20 for Hillary Clinton. A 20-per-cent chance may not seem that high, but it's plenty high. There are a couple of reasons for this: One, this is a distinctly tribal environment. We're already beginning to see some surveys that show Republicans rallying behind Mr. Trump. Now, he may not get the same proportion of Republicans supporting him that John McCain or Mitt Romney got, but my guess is he's going to be damn close. In the end, people are tribal. Tribalism means that you despise the other side and Hillary Clinton is an easy target for them. So he's going to start with probably 45 per cent [of the electorate] as a base, because he'll get Republicans and some others. That's not enough to win.

Then you throw in the reality that stuff happens and the world can change. The bottom line here is that whenever we have an election where you have a two-term president, the election focuses entirely around change.

How much change do you want, and how much risk can you tolerate to get that change?

What if there's a Brexit and there's global turmoil that really begins to reverberate by late summer or fall? What if there are some disasters in the world, including terrorist attacks at home or elsewhere, which leave people feeling uneasy? Maybe voters decide that Mr. Trump is too big a risk under those circumstances. But it's also possible that there's a kind of panic and people begin to look for a strongman.

Could the Republican Party split?

If they lose in November, there is an existential struggle among three components. There will be the Trumpist populists. A lot of them are going to believe - including, most likely, Mr. Trump himself - that they were stabbed in the back by the Republican establishment. You're going to have the Cruz-ite radical right.

And then you're going to have an establishment wing, which is going to be divided and battered. It's going to be a long time before we see anything emerge in a unifying way.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Associated Graphic

Donald Trump speaks during the National Rifle Association annual meeting in Louisville, Ky., on Friday. Mr. Trump's candidacy was largely viewed as a joke back in 2014 - but he now looks likely to win the Republican Party's presidential nomination.


Unfussy. Caloric. Satisfying.
Pittsburgh unabashedly stands behind its sammies. From spicy sausage and crispy fish to French fries, anything goes inside a bun in this town
Special to The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, May 17, 2016 – Print Edition, Page L1

PITTSBURGH -- With a thriving art scene, popular summer music festivals and a wealth of historic architecture, more and more travellers are heading to Pittsburgh.

It's also one of the best places in America to eat a sandwich. There's not much question of what one should order at Nied's.

This fact is owing to the pink neon sign proclaiming NIED'S FAMOUS FISH SANDWICH running the length of the façade above a row of small American flags. That the owners of Nied's, who set up shop here in 1941, think enough of their sandwich to devote the entire front of the building to it says a lot about its reputation. It also says a lot about the city of Pittsburgh. This is a sandwich town.

Like so many Rust Belt cities, Pittsburgh boomed in the early 20th century, churning out steel for the railways, ships and skyscrapers from which the American empire grew. Immigrants arrived en masse to man coke ovens and load rail cars, from Poland and Ukraine, from Italy and Germany. They brought with them their religion, their traditions and, of course, their food.

It's from these working-class roots that Pittsburgh's culinary scene emerged, not a culture of tablecloths or sidewalk cafés, but of street carts and hidden kitchens, of food designed to be eaten from a lunch pail or behind the wheel, unfussy, caloric, satisfying.

Pittsburgh is booming again these days, with rising real estate prices and a burgeoning art scene.

Google recently set up shop here, and a wave of new restaurants offers everything from Thai street noodles to Basque pintxos. Despite this 21st-century culinary infusion, the city's Old World sandwich culture remains a note of civic pride.

While any cab driver or bartender will point you to their favourite - the steak on focaccia at Gaucho's, the massive meatball hoagie at Angelo's - every Pittsburgh sandwich journey must begin at the source, a brick storefront on a side street in the Strip District.

Though now boasting locations from Florida to Indiana, Primanti Bros. sold their first sandwich here back in 1933. According to local lore, a truck driver was looking to unload a shipment of potatoes and was also in need of a satisfying meal before heading back home. An opportunistic Primanti bought the spuds, fried them up and sandwiched them between two slices of Italian bread along with coleslaw and hot sliced meat. The rest, as they say, is sandwich history.

"The capicollo and cheese is fantastic," says Mike Mitchum, operations director at the sandwich chain, over a bottle of Iron City beer in the restaurant's bustling dining room. The spiciness of the thin-sliced pork offers a perfect counterpoint to the sweetness of the coleslaw. But, Mitchum adds, "If you're gonna do it right, you have to add a fried egg to it."

The Primantis' influence has spread far and wide and spawned many imitators. Flip open the lunch menu at the new Ace Hotel in trendy East Liberty neighbourhood and you'll find a Primantistyle sandwich dressed up with house-cured pastrami and aged provolone. Order a "Pittsburgh salad" at Fat Head's Saloon and you'll get an order of fries mixed in with your greens.

Along Penn Avenue, past Jimmy Sunseri hawking Jimmy & Nino's famous pizza rolls ("They're dough-licious!"), you'll arrive at Peppi's Old Tyme Sandwich Shoppe, another house of worship for the holy trinity of bread-meat-bread. Peppis, "Home of the #7 Roethlisburger," as its window proclaims, is not the kind of place where you'd want to be seen in a Baltimore Ravens jersey. To say that football is a big deal in Pittsburgh is kind of like saying Parisians enjoy a glass of wine on occasion, or London is sometimes overcast. Peppi's famous hoagie is named after Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and to outwardly support any other team within its walls would be considered a major faux pas.

"It's the best sandwich in the universe," says one customer.

"Get it with bacon!" says his son, a wiry kid who is no doubt blissfully unaware of concepts such as cholesterol and metabolism. The #7 is a mix of fried spicy sausage and hamburger anointed with American cheese and eggs, cooked on Peppi's flattop before coming to rest beneath a pile of iceberg lettuce and sliced tomatoes on a pillowy submarine bun.

The spice of the sausage bites pleasantly through the grease, while the lettuce and tomatoes provide just enough vegetal crunch. Bacon is by no means necessary but the impetus to add it is understandable.

On the northern edge of Lawrenceville, a fast-gentrifying neighbourhood that's now home to a hipster antiques store, a craft beer bar/indie movie theatre and a rock 'n' roll bowling alley, Nied's is filling up with regulars for the evening. The menu is classic Pittsburgh: kolbassi with kraut, wing dings, liverwurst on rye, but there's really only one thing a visitor should order here.

"One swimmer!" calls out Cathy, the bartender, an indefatigably cheerful woman with grey hair and a tuxedo T-shirt, to her cohort at the deep-frier. A breaded filet of haddock fried perfectly crisp, a couple slices of American cheese draped languidly over top.

Italian roll, pickles, lettuce, onions, tomatoes. Tartar sauce if you want it (and yes, of course you do). There's no magic to Nied's fish sandwich, just simple good things combined with other good things, assembled with care and served without pretense.

"Well? What do you think?" Cathy asks. It's delicious, of course, but she already knows this.

The writer travelled as a guest of Visit Pittsburgh.


From Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver, Air Canada offers daily flights via Toronto. From Toronto, Porter Airlines offers two daily direct flights from Billy Bishop Airport.


The Ace Hotel's Pittsburgh outpost offers a hip, comfortable home base for exploring the city. A permanent exhibition by legendary Pittsburgh photographer Charles (Teenie) Harris offers a glimpse into the city's past. 120 S Whitfield St., rooms from $169 (U.S.). The Fairmont Pittsburgh Centrally located at Pittsburgh's Market Square, this 65-room hotel is notable for its 6,000-square-foot wellness centre and Edie, the resident dog. 510 Market St., rooms from $239. .


Pittsburgh Jazz Festival Pittsburgh's remarkable revitalization is in a large part thanks to annual music festivals such as this one, which brings top performers to the city's downtown for a weekend of live jazz at more than a dozen venues. From June 24 to 26; Three Rivers Arts Festival In June, Pittsburgh's Point State Park becomes home to one of the world's largest free arts festivals, featuring art installations, live music, dance performances and an arts market. From June 3 to 12, The Warhol The largest single-artist museum in the United States is dedicated to Pittsburgh's own Andy Warhol. This summer, an exhibition explores the relationship between Ai Wei Wei's and Warhol's creations.

From June 4 until Aug. 28;

Associated Graphic

The pizza roll from Jimmy & Nino Sunseri Co.

Southside slopes headwich with grilled kielbasa from Fat Head's Saloon

Ace Hotel's pastrami sandwich is an homage to a Pittsburgh classic

The #7 Roethlisburger, named after Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, from Peppi's

The Primanti Bros. capicollo and cheese


Pittsburgh is full of neighbourhood institutions, each offering their own take on the art of the sandwich.

Nied's fish sandwich succeeds on a simple formula: good things combined with other good things, assembled with care and served without pretence. It's best enjoyed with a Yeungling Lager, one of Pennsylvania's best beers.


Golf season
Welcome to Woerthersee Treffen, a rock-solid annual gathering in celebration the Volkswagen Golf GTI
Special to The Globe and Mail
Thursday, May 19, 2016 – Print Edition, Page D1

REIFNITZ, AUSTRIA -- Driving through the Austrian Alps, you'll discover that even some of the tiniest villages have massive stone statues in the middle of town. They might be town founders, or famous residents. In Reifnitz, on the shore of Lake Woerthersee near the Slovenian border, that stone statue is a 55-inch-tall, full-scale replica of a Volkswagen Golf.

Once a year, that Golf gets a lot of company.

Since 1981, the town has hosted the Woerthersee Treffen, an annual meeting of car enthusiasts that draws some 200,000 people to the tiny town over the four days of Germany and Austria's Ascension day, also known as Father's Day, long weekend.

"Here on Father's Day, the tradition is for people to go and drink in the forest - it's always on a Thursday, so Friday's a writeoff and they have Saturday and Sunday to recover," says Thomas Tetzlaff, Volkswagen Canada spokesman. "You don't have to be a father, you don't even have to be a man. But 35 years ago, a handful of GTI owners decided instead to bring their cars and meet at Lake Woerthersee - and every year it just kept growing."

I'm here for the 35th anniversary of the Treffen - and 40th of the Golf GTI - with colleague Matt St. Pierre, of Montreal.

We head to a waiting Golf R SportsWagen. The coveted GTI Clubsports have already been spoken for, but we're promised one for the way back.

As we leave the Autobahn - where St. Pierre briefly got the R up to 255 km/h despite slower drivers clogging the free-flowing lane - and cross into Austria, Teztlaff says that this year, VW has a more modest presence at Woerthersee.

Last year, there were pavilions for Audi, SEAT and Skoda - all owned by Volkswagen Auto Group. There was also a test track. This year, it is only a setting up a Golf GTI pavilion - featuring every generation of GTI and the 306-horsepower Clubsport S that set a record for the fastest lap by a front-wheel drive production car at the Nuerburgring Nordschleife - but it's smaller than in recent years.

The official theme of the festival is "back to the roots."

Could this shift have anything to do with Dieselgate, the emissions-test cheating scandal that cost Volkswagen $16.2-billion (U.S.)?

It was the town's new mayor who decided to declutter the festival, Tetzlaff says. Also gone are a lot of the vendors and a Jaegermeister tent. The idea is to bring the focus back to its GTIcentred origins.

From Munich, it's about a three-hour drive straight to Woerthersee, but we force the R's navi to let us take winding back roads through the mountains to the tiny village of Kals am Grossglockner. There's still snow in parts.

The next morning, before heading across to Reifnitz in a boat, we take out a few GTIs for a quick drive through Poertschach am Woerthersee, the nearby resort town. We get a first- and a second-generation GTI that Volkswagen has brought from its museum.

And then we take out the GTI Clubsport. It has 261 horsepower, but an overboost function gives it 286. Even just driving around town and a nearby highway - where the photo-radar patrolled speed limit is 100 km/h - the Clubsport feels "like it's on cocaine," St. Pierre says.

Like yesterday's SportsWagen, it won't be sold in North America.

All three cars turn heads as we head through town, where there are lines outside the car washes.

If you didn't know better, you'd think the event was here - at 9 a.m., there are already gleaming cars lined up along the roads - and there will be cars parading in a loop through town and on the hillside roads around the lake for the next four days.

But that's just spillover from the main event.

The first thing you notice as you approach Reifnitz by boat is the booming techno. When you get closer, you see the cars.

They're lined up for kilometres, all heading into town at a crawl.

The loop through the village is maybe 600 metres. The cars - mostly Golfs, but also Polos, Sciroccos and then Audis, BMWs, Porsches and others (somebody tells me they spotted a GM truck) - drive it for hours at a near standstill.

Onlookers walk on the street around them and snap smartphone pictures of the cars.

"It's a hobby - we just come here and drive and see tuner cars," says Ingo Reiter, 23, who brought his 2006 GTI from Salzburg. "And then we will park and maybe drink some beer."

Even with the official move to make it more family-focused, there's still beer - and the revelling will step up in the evening.

Volkswagen is running a party boat - with flashing lights and still more techno, even in the afternoon - ferrying people to and from the main town.

But what's most noticeable, despite the crowds and constant techno, is how calm it all is.

Despite all the cars, nobody is nudging the car ahead to hurry up. Nobody is honking at pedestrians in the way. Except for a bit of applause in the stands at the lot where GTIs do burnouts, nobody is cheering, screaming or yelling.

"We're just here to see the GTIs," says Fabio Zauchi, 22, who drove all night from Switzerland in his 2006 Golf GTI 30th-anniversary edition to be here. "I love them because they are fast and they look good."

Mostly, people are quietly, but enthusiastically, appreciating the cars. The bulk are classics -some carefully restored, some still needing work. There are also ordinary GTIs along with soupedup versions.

"I don't have a car, but I'd like a Golf 2," says Philip Brunner, 24. "The old cars are better - back to the roots."

The bulk of the licence plates are from Austria and Germany, but I spot plates from Italy, Poland, Hungary, Latvia, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and England.

Cars that aren't driving just sit on the grass - often with their owners nowhere in sight.

Instead of guarding their cars from fingerprints, many owners are off looking at other cars, or lying in the sun with a beer.

"I've had 60 cars in 15 years - 60 not 16," says Andrea Nedelkovits, 40, sitting with her dog a few cars down from her 34-yearold Golf. "I keep going back to Volkswagen and to the Golf."

Treffen means meeting in German. And that's the best way to describe it. It's not a rally or a car show.

"I've been here for more than 20 years," says Andreas Amort, 50. "It's a kind of lifestyle - we make the cars new and then we come here and meet."

Amort, here with his 1983 GTI, appreciates the move to bring the focus back to Volkswagen's Golf.

"This year, they're trying to make it more like it used to be - I think that's good," he says, adding that he has no interest in getting a GTI Clubsport - or any newer GTI. "With the new cars, I can't fix anything myself - with this car, I can fix everything."

The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval.


Video Check out the GTI Festival wackiness.

Associated Graphic

The full-scale replica of a Volkswagen Golf in Reifnitz, Austria, gets a lot of attention once a year for Woerthersee Treffen.


GTI fans flock to the picturesque town of Reifnitz, Austria, for its annual festival.


The festival draws an eclectic mix of GTIs.


The Golf GTI party weekend includes all manner of creatures.


Role model
Actress and Canadian fashion advocate Kim Cattrall talks about feeling good in the skin she's in
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, May 14, 2016 – Print Edition, Page L1

As awareness and appreciation of Canadian designers continues to rise - at least here at home - the industry is embracing all those who enthusiastically wave our flag on the global stage. After all, the success of our brands depends on it. That's why British-born, B.C.-raised Kim Cattrall made such a good host for the third edition of the Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards on April 15. First capturing fashionistas' hearts with her spirited Golden Globe-winning role as Sex in the City's Samantha Jones, style-savvy Cattrall is currently on a mission to promote our homegrown designers. In her more recent celebrated television series Sensitive Skin, now in its second season, Cattrall regularly sports Canadian fare, determined to show off the great fashion product this country has to offer. I recently chatted with the 59-year-old producer/ actress about her personal fashion philosophy, the importance of balancing style with comfort and her passion for local labels.

It was a great show of support for our fashion industry that you hosted the CAFAs this year. Why are you so passionate about Canadian fashion?

It's been a real education for me in the last three years, since making the fi rst season of Sensitive Skin for HBO Canada, where I play a character who is a former model and lives in Toronto.

She would shop in Toronto. And seeing that she was a model, she would be interested in new design and designers in Canada. For me, having been away for quite a while in New York and London and all over the place, it was really an opportunity to get acquainted with - and educated about - who the new designers were. So it became a way of finding one of the details of this character. We wanted to include as many Canadian designers as we could to make it as authentic a show as possible, so I asked our production company to bring on a Canadian stylist who knew a lot of designers. Marie-Eve Tremblay came on board, and she's in touch with all the young Montreal and Vancouver designers. She worked with the costume designer for the show and we had a lot of fun in the sense that, no matter what the outfit was, we were going to include as many Canadian designers as possible. Then a lot of my friends in Canada and U.S. would comment on what I was wearing. But it was astounding to me how many people outside of the fashion industry were not as aware of the amazing talent that we have in Canada. So I started to educate not just myself but other people about this great talent source that we have here.

Our retail landscape is undergoing such monumental changes and very few Canadian retail chains remain.

We're worried about how much support our Canadian brands are going to get, especially from the big outside retailers. It's almost like you wish that we could do what the Canadian music industry did years back, when the CRTC legislated that radio stations had to play a certain amount of Canadian content. It would be interesting if we could do that for fashion so that retailers would have to carry a certain percentage of Canadian designers.

Yes, absolutely. And I do think that Canadians will buy Canadian products. I mean, when the Prime Minister's wife showed up at the White House, she was wearing all Canadian.

Good on her! That's fantastic. But what is the next step? How do we continue that and create our own star system? We have our own wonderfully talented designers accessible to Canadian buyers because we live in Toronto. Toronto's a very metropolitan, sophisticated city, but what about people outside of Toronto? We need to get them interested and excited about what's happening, because there's a lot to be excited about. A lot of people say, "Gosh I didn't know that Sensitive Skin was Canadian. I just thought it was fi lmed in Canada." And I say, "No, this is a Canadian woman that I'm playing. It's not an American woman.

She's a Canadian woman and this would be where she would shop." I feel that it's really time for this extra awareness and encouragement from the business side and from the community side, and nationwide. It's just really encouraging more and more Canadians to support Canadian product and artistry.

As a woman of a wonderful age, would you say that one gets better at style the more comfortable one becomes in her own skin?

Whenever I look at someone who looks very chic, it looks effortless. It's about not trying too hard, either with an outfit, a hairstyle or makeup. I've been in this skin for coming up on 60 years, and I think what I like is just me, hanging out, being real, feeling relaxed, feeling that my clothes are part of what's representing me, but they aren't me. I look back at some photographs of when I was younger and see some style mistakes and some victories. And I think, "Wow, that dress is wearing me a little bit there, you know. I'm not wearing the dress." Now, what I wore to host the CAFA Awards was a beautiful Pink Tartan suit with a blouse, with a lovely, very simple but chic Ron White pump. I was wearing a Canadian designer who was nominated [for an award], but I felt very elegant, and very much in my own skin.

Do you find yourself becoming more of a risk taker the older you get or do you play it safe, now that you've hit a groove?

I don't feel one way or the other. I'm just attracted to what speaks to me, just simplicity and elegance and something that I look at and think, "You know, I've got four or five hours in that outfit. And with those heels, am I going to be comfortable? Is that going to be great for me and am I going to feel good in that?" instead of "Oh, I'll be alright... I'll get through it, even though it pinches a bit here or there." Now I just I want to feel the way it looks, which is effortless.

How do you feel when you look in the mirror, or is it different all the time?

It depends on how much sleep I've had! But what I see is a woman and sometimes she looks great and vibrant and alive, and sometimes she looks tired, and I say, "Oh, I want to take care of her." I like myself. I want to be good to myself. So I try to surround myself with good cameramen when I'm working and protect what needs protecting. But I like how I look. I like not wearing as much makeup. I like dressing down and merging. In your youth, you want to stand out and you want to be noticed. You want to be seen and heard and I feel a lot of that's been answered for me. I think that's reflected in the choices that I make, with the people I want to work with, with the material that I'm investing time in. For me, it's a good point in my life.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Associated Graphic

NATIONAL PRIDE As host of this year's Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards and throughout her TV series Sensitive Skin, Kim Cattrall supports Canadian designers. "It's time for extra awareness and encouragement" of Canada's fashion industry, she says.


Realtor licensing rules questioned
Industry insiders say tougher qualifications and increased mentorship for new agents are essential to improving professionalism
Monday, May 16, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S1

VANCOUVER -- William McCarthy still remembers the tense month or so he spent checking the mail almost daily to see whether he passed the gruelling three-hour written real estate licensing exam he took at the University of British Columbia.

Nearly 30 years ago, the then-27-year-old was working full-time managing property in Burnaby, but had dreams of setting up his own development firm and wanted the licence to sell land and gain access to residential housing data.

That was a lot of nerve-racking pressure, but it should be, right?" says Mr. McCarthy, now a developer and realtor with a host of other professional designations, such as qualified arbitrator.

"Because ... if you make something easy, that doesn't necessarily produce the best results."

Aspiring realtors once needed to pass written assignments and attend in-person lectures before becoming eligible to write the exam. Now, one can complete the $1,150 licensing course's 20 online assignments in slightly less than three months before signing up for the multiplechoice exam and applying for a licence.

Realtors once had to commit to the field as a full-time job. Today, part-time agents can practise as long as they are licensed with an agency. Whereas an agent could once expect to benefit from the tutelage of a managing broker, now there are numerous megafirms where a single broker can oversee hundreds of agents, who must pay that brokerage a desk fee, a commission on their sales or both to "hang their licence."

The number of agents traditionally ebbs and flows with the strength of the housing market.

As B.C.'s prices reach record highs, so too has the number of licensed agents, which stands at more than 22,500. There is now roughly one licensed realtor for every 205 British Columbians.

Those overseeing the licensing of realtors - UBC's business school and the Real Estate Council of B.C. - say new agents go through a rigorous process, including an applied practices course during the first weeks in their new profession.

But several high-profile real estate agents and industry insiders say making it harder to become a realtor and increasing the mentorship available to young agents is essential to improving the professionalism of a sector allowed to regulate itself in B.C.'s white-hot housing market.

The concrete steps detailed by these agents could be echoed in next month's final report by an independent advisory panel reviewing the industry. This group was launched by the government earlier this year after a Globe and Mail investigation revealed dubious practices, such as shadow flipping, and the weak penalties for agents using such techniques.

Keith Roy, a Remax agent who has sat on the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver's professional-conduct committee for two years, says one of the biggest problems in his industry is that those seeking a licence get a test, not an education.

Imagine if you could get a law degree for $1,100 and never show up in a classroom, except for an exam," Mr. Roy said. "You look at a personal-injury lawyer; they deal with cases ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 [in settlements.] I deal with multimillion-dollar transactions every day."

Mr. Roy says he was able to pass his licensing exam in 2006 by poring over a database of 1,000 sample multiple-choice questions to ace the 100 that were somewhat rejigged and presented on the final test. Several Vancouver firms even offer prospective realtors pre-licensing courses where these questions are memorized, he says. (The multiple-choice exam format has been in place for at least 24 years.)

UBC has been administering the licensing course and exam since 1958, when a new law allowed the Real Estate Council of B.C. to delegate the education of realtors to this institution.

In 1997, UBC's Sauder School of Business had 1,497 students enrolled in its real estate licensing course. That number dipped into the hundreds for the next several years before gradually increasing to a record 5,194 students in the 2005 fiscal year.

Enrolment went down in 2008 when the recession hit and the market cooled, but has increased steadily until 4,619 people enrolled in 2014-15.

The percentage of those who pass the course, by answering at least 65 out of 100 exam questions correctly, has gradually declined over the past decade from the low 70s to the low 60s.

David Moore, who has overseen the program for more than two decades, says it's difficult to draw specific conclusions as there are many factors that might contribute to the fluctuating pass rates.

My understanding is that the [real estate] council is satisfied with the programs and they're well served by the programs we offer," he said.

Larry Buttress, who has been deputy executive officer at the council since 1998, said the regulator is looking forward to the independent advisory group's recommendations on reform due next month, but disagrees that it is too easy to become a realtor in B.C.

The only way to really understand whether that is true is to go and take the course yourself," Mr. Buttress said. "I can guarantee you that you will get $1,000 worth of information that will be useful for the rest of your life."

Mr. McCarthy, a past-president of the Real Estate Institute of Canada, said aspiring realtors should be forced to take a mandatory two-year program, similar to the sales and marketing diploma at the B.C. Institute of Technology, before they can obtain a licence. (Quebec instituted a lengthier licensing program - 11 courses and 570 hours of total instruction - in 2010 and has seen the number of realtors shrink.)

Once the test is passed, aspiring realtors must take an applied course from the B.C.

Real Estate Association that consists of a two-week online component and two days in a classroom setting.

After that, they must find a firm overseen by a managing broker in order to start buying and selling property.

In Metro Vancouver's frothy market, many brokerage firms boast agent rosters in the hundreds.

That's problematic because even the best managers can't provide proper oversight when overseeing hundreds of agents, according to Christopher Hughes, a long-time North Vancouver realtor who owns and runs a small agency with his wife.

I'm not saying there's not managing brokers that can't do that, but the ones that can must have years and years of experience," said Mr. Hughes, who waited six years until applying to become licensed as a managing broker.

Mr. McCarthy says experienced managing brokers can handle anywhere from 50 to 125 agents effectively, but only at agencies with other licensed brokers to assist them and strict policies and protocols that keep standards high.

Under the existing rules, a managing broker is restricted from overseeing more than four branches of one agency, but has no limit on the number of realtors at these offices.

Mr. Roy says the real estate council should create a hard cap on the number of licensees a broker is allowed to supervise.

As well, he argues a mandated apprenticeship period for all new realtors would help everyone in an industry under intense scrutiny from the public and politicians. [Mentorship] gives new life to the senior agent's business and it gives a solid understanding to the new agents," he says. "The stakes are higher [in B.C.].

We have the most expensive real estate in the country, we have arguably one of the most unaffordable cities in the world at the centre of our industry - we should raise the bar."

More than the old guy in the crazy beard
Opposing coach Ken Hitchcock describes remarkable Joe Thornton as 'one of the smartest players ... in the history of the league'
Saturday, May 21, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S3

TORONTO -- Hal Gill remembers it well.

The bad old days in Boston, when the Bruins struggled to escape the early rounds of the playoffs, and coach Pat Burns was in his young players' ears, trying to get as much out of them as possible.

What Gill recalls the most is an enduring image of Joe Thornton, then still a kid, joking and having fun, even in some ugly postseason wars.

"He'd laugh through a tough situation," said Gill, who broke into the NHL the same year as an 18year-old Thornton with the 199798 Bruins. "Pat would give him hell and he'd take it and kind of shrug it off and get back to work.

He's always been a, 'You're not going to ruin my fun' kind of guy.

"Joe is definitely one of those guys that I'm rooting for."

That sentiment is everywhere in the NHL these days, from everyone that crossed paths with "Jumbo" over his 18 seasons. Thornton, now 36, is deep in the playoffs with the San Jose Sharks and, given the way they're playing in their third-round series with the St.

Louis Blues, this could be his best - and perhaps last - chance at that elusive Stanley Cup.

Thornton added to his impressive postseason in the Sharks' Game 3 win on Thursday with two more assists, including a highlight-reel 40-foot saucer pass to Tomas Hertl behind the net on their third goal. Thornton now has 10 assists in these playoffs, good for third in the NHL before Friday's game.

These playoffs have also been a further confirmation of Thornton's remarkable talents. He has used his enormous wingspan to cradle the puck so well, maintaining time in the zone and helping San Jose dominate possession. He has run a dominant power play better than perhaps anyone, too, especially with his familiarity with his long-time Sharks teammates.

But Thornton is also a contradiction in the sports world. He is a rare combination of superlative talent and a laid-back, easy demeanour. He is not the ultraintense Jonathan Toews. He is not Sidney Crosby. He does not eat gravel for breakfast.

He is - as witnessed at the end of Game 2's win in St. Louis earlier this week - the old guy in the crazy beard dancing on the bench next to some young fans.

It's a mix that has confounded some in hockey, including multiple coaches and the Bruins, who shipped him to California more than a decade ago and watched him win the Art Ross and Hart trophies that same season.

Thornton has hardly slowed since, piling up 887 points in 835 games overall with the Sharks, including a remarkable 82 this season - tied for fourth in NHL scoring - despite the fact he was one of the 30 oldest players in the league. He now sits 13th in career assists and is closing fast in that category on legends such as Mario Lemieux, Gordie Howe and Adam Oates.

Those who know him well say he could be the next Jaromir Jagr and play - and play well - into his 40s.

Because Thornton hasn't won in the postseason, however, he remains the rare sure-fire Hall of Famer who goes underappreciated - and misunderstood - in some circles.

Just not by the coaches in this series.

"What you find out in working with him is how competitive he is and how smart he is," said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, who has had Thornton with Team Canada three times. "He might be one of the smartest players in the league - and maybe in the history of the league. He's been at it a long time.

He's still an impact player every night."

"If this guy's playing in Toronto or Montreal or New York or one of those markets, he's a living legend," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "He's that good."

It wasn't long ago that it appeared Thornton's time with the Sharks was headed for an ugly divorce instead of the franchise's first finals berth. Last March, with their season in doubt, he made headlines around the league when he called out general manager Doug Wilson, saying that he needed to "just shut his mouth."

"He just needs to stop lying," Thornton added.

That was the culmination more than a year of frustrations. Thornton was stripped of the captain's C in 2014 - now worn by linemate Joe Pavelski - and the Sharks sputtered through last season en route to missing the playoffs for the first time in 12 years.

They won only six of their final 14 games after Thornton's unusual outburst, which spoke more to underlying tensions on the team than anything else.

For a time, there was trade talk, and Wilson mused about the Sharks being in need of a rebuild and if his veterans would want to be part of that process. But Thornton and long-time teammate Patrick Marleau both had no-movement clauses on their three-year deals and weren't budging.

A year later, the relationship between Wilson - who declined comment because of the ongoing playoff series - and Thornton has been mended. The Sharks ultimately didn't rebuild and instead retooled. They've benefited hugely from Wilson's strong off-season, when he added goaltender Martin Jones, defenceman Paul Martin and forward Joel Ward to reinforce a long-standing core.

The Sharks' improvement in the standings this season was modest - only nine points - but they are a deeper, more self-assured group.

And the intense pressure that had come, year after year, with being a front-runner, is gone.

"He never wanted to leave," explained John Thornton, Joe's older brother and agent. "He made that obvious. He's very happy to be in San Jose. He's not a 'grass is greener' kind of guy. He could have went anywhere else, but he always felt the team in San Jose had just as good a shot as anybody. He'd rather win with his team. He wants to win with Patty.

He wants to win with Logan [Couture], with Pavs. He really loves this team."

As for being misunderstood, Thornton's family has seen that from the beginning. "His whole life he's been very competitive at everything he does," John Thornton said. "He just happens to have fun while he's doing it so people view it as being too laid-back."

"I didn't have an appreciation for how honest a player he is," DeBoer said at one point earlier this week. "How hard this guy works away from the puck. How badly he wants to win."

Jumbo Joe's friends in the game, meanwhile, have seen that coming out in these playoffs. Their hope is that, this time, there's a different ending.

One where the goofy guy in the beard is dancing with the Cup.

"I think that's why being in San Jose worked out for him - he could focus on having fun and playing hockey," said Gill, who won his only Cup at age 34 with Pittsburgh in 2009. "He's always been a great player, but it seems like he's added a different level of skating and touch and everything.

There's a little something extra in his game that you can see in the playoffs.

"It's been good to watch him. He looks good out there. Never mind the beard."

Follow me on Twitter: @mirtle

Associated Graphic

San Jose Sharks centre Joe Thornton carries the puck during Game 2 of the Western Conference final in St. Louis on Tuesday.


The captain will now switch on the zucchini sign
Saturday, May 14, 2016 – Print Edition, Page F2

People are awful, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences seemed to suggest this week: We're perfectly okay to be miserable as long as no one else appears to be happier than we are.

The study done by business professors Michael Norton of Harvard and Katherine DeCelles of the University of Toronto concluded that, if there's a first-class section on a plane, passengers are 3.8 times more likely to behave poorly. That level of passenger rowdiness doubles again if those in economy class have to walk through first class on the way to their seats.

This is a bit like one of those "fairness studies" where, when a monkey completes the task of handing a scientist a rock, he's rewarded with a slice of cucumber. Monkey is delighted with his slice of cucumber -- until he sees the monkey next to him get a grape for completing the same task.

A grape! A whole grape! Vegetable-rewarded monkey then loses his monkey mind at this injustice.

Cucumber is thrown. Then rocks.

In one case, monkey picks up a rock, studies it, then tests it by tapping it against the glass before trying again.

"Is it my work that's the problem?" monkey seems to be asking. "Do I not deserve a grape?" his eyes say.

I've always sensed that too much of monkey's self-worth, his identity, is tied to the crudité selection at hand, but clearly there is a monkey wage gap at play here.

Like the disparity in airline seating, this visible inequity can build in otherwise reasonable simians a burning desire to throw snacks at one another.

Some of us want to throw pieces of cucumber, some of us want to throw packages of smoked almonds - the root cause of our rage is much the same.

The authors "posit that the modern airplane is a social microcosm of class-based society, and that the increasing incidence of 'air rage' can be understood through the lens of inequality."

Their perfectly reasonable suggestion is that we recognize the "importance of considering the design of environments - from airplanes to office layouts to stadium seating - in understanding both the form and emergence of anti-social behaviour."

This makes sense, but I'm not sure hiding the grape-eating monkeys who sit in first class is the answer.

First of all, there are a few things we could do to improve the lot of those of us in cucumber-class that don't involve adding more drapes to planes. It's already like a cover of Architectural Digest in there and sometimes window treatments just aren't the answer.

For starters, I think we should charge for carry-on and let everyone check their baggage for free.

No, put down those rocks, please, monkeys. Hear me out.

Trying to game the carry-on system has become an international pastime. I'm sorry, sir, but if that hockey bag with what appears to be a net and half the team in it is regulation carry-on, I'll eat the hat, fanny-pack, computer bag, handbag and diaper bag carried on by the woman seated next to me.

This woman-with-a-diaper-bag on my last flight had no baby, by the way. Which is unfortunate, because I am that passenger who wants to sit next to your screaming baby on a flight. Spare me your complimentary excuse-forheadphones, airlines. There should be a box you check when you book your flight: (a) I want to stick niblets in my ears and be subjected to an Anne Hathaway vehicle; or (b) I want a sense of purpose - pass me a howling infant.

I do, of course, want to get where I'm going. I've been on several flights where takeoff was delayed while exasperated flight attendants ran around the plane attempting to stow baggage as if they were on some kind of weird seventies game show.

Once or twice the pilot has come on and chided everyone that the plane wasn't going anywhere until homes had been found for everything. This meant that all the baggage got hauled from the overhead, pulled out from under the seats, and then put back in the overhead and under the seats in a different order to see if that worked out.

It must be like trying to fly a goddamn Rubik's Cube, and all of this is done so that when we land we can all stand in the aisles for 40 minutes and hit each over the head with "Dr. Livingstone, I presume"-sized trunks as we pull them down.

Check your damn suitcases, people. Surely it's better to stand in the open space by that miracle of technology that is the luggage carousel than to duck fearfully in the cramped aisle of a plane, surrounded by our own waste, debris and personal effects.

It's like war in the trenches the minute the plane lands. It's nightmarish; in contrast, who doesn't love the loud beep of the carousel as it rolls into action and the first bag tumbles down the chute and begins its lap of victory?

That's why they call it a "carousel," people. It is an adorable fair ride for adults, the last place where the painted ponies still go round and round for us.

There's camaraderie by the carousel. So much so that I think that, not only should we stop letting people take their hulking great bags on the plane for free, we should stop serving them free liquor on planes as well.

Down rocks there, monkeys.

Liquor on planes, like the carry-on permissiveness, often ends badly. Allow no more booze and casket-sized bags on planes, but open a nice tiki bar at the carousel. Everyone would want to be there.

As for instituting a social revolution on our jets - and, as a relatively small woman, I can say that, if there were ever a place for "From each according to his ability, to each according to his knees, do they fit?" it's on a plane - I still have to say: Not so fast.

A more careful reading of this air-rage study, coupled with a more cynical view of humanity, suggests that redesigning planes may not be the answer.

All we need to do to make people behave is add a third metaphorical monkey to the mix.

Third metaphorical monkey would get the airline travellers' equivalent of chunks of zucchini - the devil's vegetable. Zucchini Class monkey would put the World Traveller Plus monkeys, with their grapes, in perspective for all us riotous monkeys stuck in economy.

You can see where I'm going with this, can't you? Airlines should put one guy at the front of every plane, wedge him into one of those tiny school desks, put his legs in an actual bench vice, and then hire someone to poke him with a stick over and over during the flight.

They should make seeing this guy an option on the inflight entertainment system. That way, when a passenger starts to feel upset about his lot in flight, he need only tap the icon of a crying stick figure in a box, the one next to that flight-tracking page, and all will seem entirely right with the world.

Associated Graphic

Trying to game the carry-on system, writes our columnist, has become an international pastime.


Don't let Canadian small-caps fly under your radar
With less analyst coverage and higher risk, these dividend-paying stocks may be available at attractive prices
Special to The Globe and Mail
Wednesday, May 18, 2016 – Print Edition, Page B10

Investing in Canadian small-cap stocks can reap dividends - literally.

While the big blue-chips with payouts garner the attention, there are dividend opportunities among smaller companies, too.

Some are former income trusts used to doling out healthy distributions. Others have more modest payouts because they need to fund growth. Because smaller caps can take a bigger hit than their larger peers during market downturns or fly under the radar with little analyst coverage, investors may be able to snap up these shares at attractive prices.

We asked three portfolio managers for their small-cap dividend picks.

Alex Sasso, portfolio manager with Norrep Capital Management Ltd., Toronto

The pick: Hardwoods Distribution Inc. (HWD-TSX) Close on May 17: $16.17 a share.

52-week range: $14.08 to $18.66 a share.

Annual dividend: 22 cents a share for a yield of 1.36 per cent.

This hardwoods distributor is a way for investors to play the U.S. housing recovery because 75 per cent of its sales come from south of the border, says Mr. Sasso, who runs Norrep Income Growth fund. The British Columbia firm, which has a solid balance sheet, has been growing by acquisition.

Its 2014 purchase of U.S.-based Hardwoods of Michigan Inc. provides exposure to the growing commercial market, while it is also increasing sales of imported lumber, he said. A strong U.S. dollar has been a tailwind as earnings from its American operations are converted back into Canadian dollars, but a weaker greenback could be a risk in the second half of this year, he noted.

The stock, which trades at about 11 times next year's earnings, could hit $20 a share in a year, he suggested.

The pick: Badger Daylighting Ltd. (BAD-TSX) Close on May 17: $21.96 a share. 52-week range: $16.71 to $30.05 a share.

Annual dividend: 36 cents a share for a yield of 1.64 per cent.

Rising infrastructure spending is a potential tailwind for the Calgary-based excavation contractor whose shares have struggled amid falling oil prices, says Mr. Sasso. Half of Badger's revenues used to come from the energy sector, but that percentage has fallen recently to 38 per cent, he said. The rest of the revenues now stem from the utility and construction sectors. Revenue has been flat in the past couple of years, but it's been "a wonderful growth story" over the long term, he said. Badger, whose hydrovac trucks can dig earth without damaging buried pipes and cables, is also expanding into the larger U.S. market. Shares of Badger, which has a payout ratio of less than 20 per cent, trades at about 17 times next year's earnings, he said. "We think this stock could be in the $30 range in a year."

Aubrey Hearn, portfolio manager with Sentry Investments, Toronto

The pick: Information Services Corp. (ISV-TSX) Close on May 17: $16.40 a share.

52-week range: $13.21 to $17 a share.

Annual dividend: 80 cents a share for a yield of 4.88 per cent.

Shares of the Saskatchewan provider of registry and information services has struggled recently amid a weaker economy, but it still benefits from having a monopoly, says Mr. Hearn, who manages Sentry Small/Mid Cap Income fund. The company, which is 30 per cent owned by the province, administers land, personal property and corporate registry services. "Saskatchewan is not Alberta but it does have some oil and gas exposure ... and we are seeing a weakening housing market," he said. However, Information Services has about $34-million in cash on its balance sheet, and part of its business is tied to recurring revenues, such as mortgage refinancing. The payout ratio is close to 80 per cent so the dividend is still safe, he added. His target is about $18.50 a share within two years.

The pick: Cargojet Inc. (CJT-TSX) Close on May 17: $31.10 a share.

52-week range: $18.01 to $31.99 a share.

Annual dividend: 60 cents a share for a yield of of 1.92 per cent.

Shares of the Canadian cargo carrier are poised to gain more altitude with the help of a seven-year contract from Canada Post that began last year, says Mr. Hearn. The contract - a massive win on top of business from major customers such as United Parcel Service Inc. and TransForce Inc. - has about doubled the size of the company, he said.

Cargojet now has a near monopoly on the domestic market, while "the tailwind of e-commerce is also going to benefit the company for many years," he added. More than 70 per cent of revenue stems from long-term contracts, while the rest is ad hoc business, he said. Continued weakening of the western economy or potential problems integrating the Canada Post business are possible risks to the stock, he said. His target is $34 within two years.

Michael Waring, portfolio manager with Galileo Global Equity Advisors Inc., Toronto The pick: Chorus Aviation Inc. (CHR.B-TSX) Close on May 17: $6.30 a share. 52-week range: $4.75 to $6.78 a share. Annual dividend: 48 cents a share for a yield of 7.62 per cent.

The stock of the regional airline is appealing for income-oriented investors because of its robust yield and sustainable dividend, says Mr. Waring, manager of Galileo High Income Plus fund. Most of its revenues come from an agreement with Air Canada, which will buy seat capacity at pre-determined rates until 2025.

Nova Scotia-based Chorus, which operates aircraft under the Air Canada Express brand, pays about 60 per cent of its free cash flow for dividends so there is room to raise the payout. Chorus, which has little competition on its routes, is adding new capacity, and recently inked a deal to buy five CRJ900 aircraft from Bombardier Inc. Chorus' stock, which trades at seven times Galileo's free cash-flow estimate, could hit $7.50-to-$8 a share within a year, he suggested.

The pick: Pure Multi-Family Real Estate Investment Trust (RUF.UN-X) Close on May 17: $7.41 a unit.

52-week range: $6.10 to $7.65 a unit.

Annual distribution: 38 cents (U.S.) a unit for a yield of 6.43 per cent.

This Canadian REIT, which operates resort-style apartments in Texas, will benefit from the state's strong job and population growth, Mr. Waring says. Cheap rents, a young work force and lack of corporate income taxes have spurred more firms to move head offices to the state. The REIT, which has properties in Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and Houston, has had consistent rental growth in a state with no rent controls.

The REIT, which has a payout ratio of about 86 per cent, trades at a discount to its net asset value and at lower price-to-earnings multiples versus comparable U.S. REITS, he said. Potential headwinds include rising interest rates and a weaker U.S. dollar versus the loonie because of the impact of currency conversion. The REIT's units could reach $8.50 to $9 a unit within a year, he said.

Associated Graphic





Among Canadian small-caps experts recommend, clockwise from top left: Badger Daylighting, Cargojet, Chorus Aviation and Pure Multi-Family REIT.

The decline of the convenience store
Once integral to the community, rising rents and changing consumer behaviour mean that many of these local shops are closing
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, May 21, 2016 – Print Edition, Page M8

With tight rows of shelves packed with household goods, buzzing fridges interrupted by lottery machine jingles and ad hoc signage, Toronto's convenience stores are the kind of business you only notice if you need them.

Once upon a time, they were integral to the fabric of a neighbourhood, their owners playing an important role in keeping an eye on their street corners from behind the cash register.

"They also used to be social centres, where people would congregate, tell stories, talk politics," observes Zahra Dhanani, who recently opened her own convenience store in East York.

But rising rents, changing consumer behaviour and parsimonious cigarette companies taking ever larger chunks of commission have meant that many of these local shops are closing and the ones staying open have an increasingly transient ownership.

"With the car and big box stores, we've lost that meeting place," Ms. Dhanani says.

Yet convenience stores persist as a Toronto institution, offering last-minute basics to locals within walking distance, and, at those stores that have thrived, a little something extra - whether saleable or intangible - to re-establish themselves as neighbourhood fixtures.

Seeing an opportunity, Ms. Dhanani opened Old's Cool General Store with her partner Mariko Nguyen last September. Surrounded by small houses and bungalows, the store replaced D+K Grocery at the corner of Westlake and Lumsden avenues, 10 blocks north of Danforth Avenue and nearly backing onto the Taylor-Massey Ravine. It had been a neighbourhood mainstay since the 1970s.

"Corner stores are community hubs by nature," she says. "We wanted to take that a step further."

With tables and chairs at the front of the store that encourage

customers to linger, and playing host to free monthly gatherings, Ms. Dhanani and Ms. Nguyen have created a place where residents can meet over mundane, daily affairs.

"It's a place for relationships," Ms. Dhanani says.

But with gruelling 16-hour workdays, seven days a week, and shrinking profit margins, many convenience store owners - for the most part new immigrants to Canada - come and go.

"There's been three owners in the last 15 years" recalls Polly, the owner and operator of Lucky Convenience at Wallace and Perth avenues in the Junction Triangle, halfway between Bloor and Dupont. (She preferred not to use her last name.) Polly immigrated from Fuqing in southeast China before taking over the store two years ago.

Housed in a plain, two-storey brick building with a simple block-letter sign, and surrounded by a hodgepodge of baskets, milk crates and wood shelves, Lucky is the essential Toronto corner store, where customer loyalty is mostly based on proximity.

"We have just the basics to serve the neighbourhood," Polly explains while restocking a shelf of canned soups in the back her store. "But rent is rising," she says, gesturing toward the window and the church being converted to luxury lofts across the street, "and people are shopping elsewhere."

Because wholesalers don't give small stores the same break on bulk purchases as they do for dollar and big box stores, convenience stores have to charge more.

And the expansion of product lines at pharmacies and gas stations means many people are finding their convenience elsewhere.

"The location here is good, important - better than the others nearby," says Polly. Despite three other convenience stores in the area, Lucky holds a place of prominence at the intersection of two minor thoroughfares that hum with pedestrian and bike traffic during the day.

Even the most transient owners give quick access to necessities in a city that doesn't have many other kinds of businesses beyond its main streets.

"Older people can walk here easily" Polly says. "And the ones that can't, I deliver to."

Some owners have found viability by providing unique services beyond snacks and household items. Geeta and Very Singh have managed to operate Budget One Stop on Queen Street West for more than a decade. The store has survived rising rents in Parkdale, a neighbourhood that has changed dramatically in their time there - in 2011 the hip taco joint Grand Electric opened just across the street.

Though the front of Budget One Stop looks like any other convenience store, a small door at the back labelled "Religious Items" is likely the secret to its endurance.

In a room just beyond the cleaning supplies and stationery, floor-to-ceiling shelves are packed with religious accoutrements catering to a wide range of spiritual needs. You can also find love potions, breakup sprays, court-case oils and a slew of other concoctions for casting off evil, inducing jealousy and bringing on fast luck.

While they can accommodate any quotidian need at the front of their store, the Singhs report that "people from all over Canada have come to see our products at the back."

A less spectacular strategy is taken by the Palmerston Market at Barton Avenue, in Seaton Village, where appealing to customers beyond the immediate vicinity is as simple as offering dry cleaning.

Other times, it's the personality of the owner alone that creates a legion of loyal customers.

A little store filled with almost anything you could need such as board games, hosiery, flower pots, tablecloths and alarm clocks, Stanley's Variety at Bathurst and Barton, just west of the Annex, is known for its random and extensive stock. But the real draw is Stanley himself, who has owned the store since 1970.

"I left the Annex more than 10 years ago, but I still come to say hi to Stanley if I can," a customer related to a Globe reporter before he left. Stanley's warm personality and sense of humour means that he knows many of his customers intimately, and they keep coming back.

"The neighbourhood's always changing," Stanley says. "But I'm still here."

Ms. Dhanani and Ms. Nguyen of Old's Cool are able to draw customers from afar by selling things more likely to be found in stylish markets: Their stock ranges from Chocosol solar power-roasted chocolate bars to Kit Kats; Neal Brothers organic, hand-crushed tortilla chips to Cheetos. They also have artisanal baked goods, crafts made by local artists - and lottery tickets.

"The cigarettes were hardest for me" Ms. Dhanani says of another locally appreciated product. "But we're the only ones close by, and people in the neighbourhood had been getting smokes from here for ages. I had to suck it up."

Ms. Nguyen adds: "We're not trying to change the neighbourhood or exclude people."

After picking up his lottery tickets, a scruffy man with a fraying coat takes a moment to look at some of the artisanal pillows on sale.

"I'm not going to buy them. But I like them," he tells Ms. Dhanani and Ms. Nguyen, before taking a seat by the front door and telling them more about his day.

Associated Graphic

From top: Tonk's Variety Milk and Grocery store at Rogers Road and Rosethorn Avenue; the Palmerston Market store located on the south east corner of Palmerston and Barton avenues near the Annex neighbourhood; and the Old's Cool General Store located on the north west corner of Lumsden and Westlake avenues in Toronto's East End.


From top: The Y & L Convenience Variety at Annette Street and Windermere Avenue; Wilson's Variety and Grocery on Sorauaren and Wright avenues; and the Stop 'n' Go at Harbord and Bathurst streets.

The value in old bricks
Despite some successes, Calgary's built heritage still struggles to fend off the forces of demolition
Saturday, May 14, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S4

In July, Canada's National Music Centre, Studio Bell, will open to the public. The impressive feat of architecture and engineering totals 160,000 square feet over five storeys with nine interlocking towers. The structure is clad in 220,000 custom-glazed terracotta tiles, which shine a myriad of colours in sunlight; a beacon of modern architecture.

And cradled by the structure, at its heart, is the original 1905 King Edward Hotel. Well, sort of.

The King Eddy, as it's affectionately known, was in fact completely disassembled and rebuilt, brick by brick, into its new parent structure.

"We didn't want to dismantle it.

That was never the plan," says Andrew Mosker, the National Music Centre's President and CEO, "but it had lain empty for a decade, unprotected from the elements, and the building was unsound."

The building, known as Calgary's home of the blues, had been owned by Calgary Municipal Land Corp. (CMLC) since 2008 and prior to that by the city. In 2010, it was pegged for demolition to make way for an underpass, but was saved due to public outcry.

The underpass was relocated.

It was around that time that Mr. Mosker approached the CMLC with a plan to incorporate it into the National Music Centre and the hotel's fortunes took a turn for the better.

"I strongly believed the Centre should be anchored to a Calgary music story and a physical space.

Some authenticity was needed.

The King Eddy was the obvious choice," Mr. Mosker says.

Three years later, Ontario-based Clifford Restoration was hired to undertake the epic task of taking apart the building, numbering and zoning 48,000 century-old bricks and rebuilding the entire structure, ensuring each brick was placed within a metre of its original location.

They also stripped back decades of paintwork to restore the building to its turn-of-thecentury glory.

"It was a huge undertaking," Mr. Mosker admits, and also "vastly more expensive" than other available options.

"It was in the region of $7-million more to dismantle and rebuild it the way we did. But it we didn't see it as a choice; it needed to be as real as we could make it given our situation. We didn't want to chase the ghost away."

While many consider the rebirth of Calgary's second oldest hotel to be a triumph, others say it begs an important question about whether or not enough is being done to maintain the city's heritage buildings.

Last year, the City of Calgary increased its maintenance budget for city-owned heritage buildings from just $200,000 a year to $10.5-million over four years; a sum that is exclusive of the $34.1million rehabilitation budget allowed for City Hall.

The budget increase resulted from the introduction of a management plan for city-owned heritage buildings in 2013, shortly after work commenced on restoring the King Eddy.

"We recognized that something needed to be done about cityowned heritage buildings," says senior heritage planner Clint Robertson, though he remains noncomittal about whether or not the plan and the budget increase were a direct result of the King Eddy.

But for some, the city's policies still don't go far enough to protect the city's history.

Restoration veteran and president of Calgary's Heritage Property Corp. Neil Richardson is perplexed at what he calls "hollow restorations" such as the King Eddy, which he claims are "like taking a photo of the Mona Lisa and saying 'Hey, I saved the Mona Lisa.' "This is happening more and more in Calgary and it's all public relations; there's no substance to it. People tear down buildings and stick the old façade back on and call it restoration, and it's not."

Mr. Richardson currently owns six historic sites on the 100th block of 7th Avenue S.W., including the original Calgary stock exchange. The buildings date from 1911 through to 1921 and according to heritage planner Mr. Robertson, the buildings are "one of the most important streetscapes in downtown Calgary."

And yet, despite owning the sites since 2008, Mr. Richardson has struggled to make progress on an ambitious restoration and development plan that would see the block become an arts and culture hub, financed by a large automated parking facility at the rear.

Mr. Richardson worked with the city on rezoning the sites in 2013.

He then submitted a plan that, last October, was overturned due to a neighbour refuting his traffic report.

"I'm pretty sure this particular neighbour, who owns the Hyatt Hotel, is assembling an entire block of Stephen Avenue to build something and our development would throw a major spanner in the works. That's my belief."

He's due to resubmit a new plan this fall but, as time goes on, he's increasingly concerned over the state of repair of his investment.

"Because we've always been led to believe we'd get permission for this development shortly, we haven't undertaken the repair and maintenance you might normally undertake with buildings like these. Now it's eight years on and there's water damage, broken windows, graffiti, leaking roofs. It all adds to the escalating costs. It also looks unsightly."

Mr. Robertson agrees. "It's unfortunate the project has ended up where it is, these are really significant buildings."

Mr. Richardson's previous list of heritage restoration successes includes the Lougheed Building and Grand Theatre and The Lorraine.

The latter had been partially destroyed by fire and demolition permits had been issued for all three sites, along with planning permission to build condo towers in their place.

"The Lorraine sat for a year and a half with no roof, the top floor had been completely destroyed.

The Lougheed is a six-storey building, which came with permission to build a 30-storey condo," says the lawyer-turned-developer.

"Often the condition of heritage buildings provides a very convenient excuse for not restoring them. Because of city policy, you'll always make more money tearing them down and there's no incentives not to."

Never one to give up easy, Mr. Richardson says he'll "hang in there" with his 7th Avenue project.

"It comes down to how you measure return; is it about dollars or is there a social value to consider? These buildings are important, this could be an incredible arts and culture location for our city."

While Mr. Richardson and Mr. Mosker might not agree on the integrity of the King Eddy's restoration, they do agree that heritage buildings contribute hugely to the social fabric of the city.

"It was always important for us to create a place, not a monument. In years to come, I want people to come to Calgary and say 'Let's go to the King Eddy and watch a show tonight,' " enthuses Mr. Mosker, "and they will, because it's part of the soul of the city and there's something magnetic about that."

Associated Graphic

An artist's rendering of what the 100 block of 7th St. SW in Calgary mightlook like, once restored.


The original Calgary stock exchange on the 100 block of 7th St. SW, left, is the subject of an ambitious restoration and development plan to transform the block into an arts and culture hub - if the developer can get the proposal approved.


Evacuees face tough decision about returning to Fort Mac
Monday, May 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A1

LAC LA BICHE, ALTA. -- It was two nights after Debbie Halfyard and her husband, Rick, were evacuated from Fort McMurray that they saw on television what became of their twostorey house when the fire raged into the north part of the city.

Footage showed their street, and all that was left were basements and singed debris.

"I said to my husband, 'Look - there goes our house.' And, of course, everybody cried," she said from Deer Lake, Nfld. The couple, and their dog, spent eight days on the road to get there after leaving the work camp to which they and other family members had fled.

With the immensity of the ordeal still sinking in, the Halfyards have had to decide if they want to return to a city that's been home for six years, and which, even before the disaster, had fallen on tough times with the slump in the oil sands industry. Work for Rick had been slow recently. The plan now is to return and rebuild, partly because their children and grandchildren live in Fort McMurray.

But they hope to sell the house and move to a rental when it's all done. Whether Debbie returns full time is up in the air.

To come back or not - it's a tough decision many Fort McMurray residents face in the coming weeks and months.

No one can even gauge the task ahead of them until they are allowed back in starting June 1. Many have pledged to take a stand and rebuild. For some, though, the economic downturn and disaster will be the one-two punch that prompts them to move on.

"I have my mom and dad home here in Newfoundland, and I was planning to come home anyhow.

My husband will keep working in camp, and if not camp, he'll stay wherever, and I'll just go back and forth - probably go back up for a month at a time," said Ms. Halfyard, 55.

"There certainly will be some people who won't return on a permanent basis," said Allan Vinni, a councillor for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and a 15-year Fort McMurray resident.

"Everybody who was living up there will go back to see what happened to their property, or to retrieve stuff. But some business people have told me that people have already informed them that they've quit and they're relocating."

Even before the fire destroyed about 10 per cent of Fort McMurray, oil companies, and contractors that provide a range of services to them, had shed thousands of workers as the drop in crude prices extended past a yearand-a-half and billions of dollars worth of projects were shelved.

The fire that began in early May has added a whole new dimension. It destroyed about 2,400 structures, including many homes, in what is expected to be Canada's costliest natural disaster. As many as 88,000 people fled and remain scattered around the country.

It will be a long time before life returns to normal. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley cautioned that some people, including those with chronic health conditions that require regular treatment, will have to wait until the hospital is back to full operation. For parents with young children, schools won't reopen until September.

The city had become famous as "Fort McMoney," where people arrived to make their fortunes in the oil sands. That meant much of the population stayed in town for just a few years. Many oil sands workers, meanwhile, stay at camps close to the projects, flying in from other locales to work rather than buying homes and setting down roots in Fort McMurray. However, some long-term residents say the bust, and flight of some people that it's prompted, had actually removed some of the stresses that came along with the boomtown population influx.

Besides the state of their homes, people will decide on resuming life there based on property ownership, employment situation and age. Whether they have children and how deep their roots might be elsewhere will also play major roles, said Sara Dorow, a sociology professor at the University of Alberta who has done extensive research on population trends in Fort McMurray.

"There are people who might have moved there in the last number of years, got caught in the downturn, with a house they paid a lot of money for that had been devalued, or had not quite settled in, and might decide not to go back," Prof. Dorow said.

She points out, however, that the very fact that the northern outpost is a tougher place to live than many others makes residents loyal; a large number will apply that civic spirit to the massive rebuilding effort ahead.

Leo Pike is going back. His house wasn't burned, and his job at Royal Dutch Shell PLC's oil sands plant is secure, even with the downturn. He's sure he'll resume his life in Fort McMurray, albeit gradually. For nearly three weeks, Mr. Pike and his wife, Cora, have been staying in their holiday trailer at Kikino Silver Birch Resort on a Métis settlement about 340 kilometres south of Fort McMurray. Resort owners Dave and Shirley Thompson put up hundreds of evacuees in the days after the mass exodus. Not all are as clear about their future as the Pikes.

"I know several families that I talked to are not going back to Fort McMurray to rebuild if their homes are down. I guess it's the uncertainty," Mr. Pike, 54, said at the resort's general store. "There were a lot of people laid off and they were just looking to get back to work. There are a lot of people going back to Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Cape Breton and places like that."

For homeowners, leaving a firedestroyed house requires careful consideration. A resident could take insurance money rather than use it to rebuild a house, but would still be responsible for the remainder of the mortgage. In addition, the claim covers only the house and not the land, so the owner would then have to sell the bare property. Depending on their policies, some may eventually determine that rebuilding, then selling, is a better financial move, though it is unclear what the housing market will be like in Fort McMurray by the time a new house is built. It's been depressed since oil collapsed.

Many houses in the city, purchased at the top of the market when crude prices were about $100 (U.S.) a barrel, were worth less than their mortgage value.

Mr. Vinni said emotions among his constituents are very raw so soon after the fire and evacuation, and no one has all the facts to make a major life decision such as whether to stay or go.

"I get the sense that everything's going through people's minds," he said from Edmonton.

"Even if they're saying they're totally committed to moving back, they still haven't seen what that's going to look like, what the rebuild is going to look like. I don't think we're going to get an accurate idea of what people's responses are going to be until they go back and see what they're dealing with."

Associated Graphic

The Abasand neighbourhood on the west side of Fort McMurray is seen on May 13 after being ravaged by wildfires.


After a brief disappearance, the Oscar-winning actress returns to the director's chair with Money Monster. Johanna Schneller reports on what happens when a spotlight-averse star finds herself back in the conversation
Special to The Globe and Mail
Friday, May 13, 2016 – Print Edition, Page R1

Jodie Foster still takes it all personally. Her work, that is. She has to.

"I don't know how to do my job unless I'm moved," the actress and director says in a phone interview. "I'm never going to be that director who says, 'Scuba diving! That sounds like something I'd like to make a movie about!' I'm always going to have to download my personal fears and questions into my work."

So when she read the script for her latest directing gig, Money Monster (opening Friday after premiering out of competition in Cannes this week), she did what she always does: She saw "every side of myself in each one of the characters, and tried to weave them together in a beautiful, weird tapestry."

In Money Monster, brash host Lee Gates (George Clooney) is performing his usual routine, spewing investment advice on his financial cable-TV show, connected via earpiece to his producer, Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts) - until Kyle Budwell (Jack O'Connell), a working stiff who lost his nest egg by following Lee's advice, sidles onto the set with a gun and a suicide vest, demanding to know where his money went. The ensuing crisis unspools on live TV (captured by Patty's six TV-studio cameras) in near-real time.

Foster's a speed-talker, but an elegant, concise one, and you can feel her intelligence in every sentence. She says she's not political, then does a trenchant summary of the mood in the U.S.; she claims to know little about the financial world, then offers an acute analysis of its psychology.

"Right from our first phone call, we felt we had our director," says Lara Alameddine, Money Monster's co-producer, in a separate phone interview with fellow co-producer Dan Dubiecki. "She's Jodie Foster. She's an icon, and she's all the things you want an icon to be: smart, strong, generous with her time and ideas. A total professional. Dedicated."

Foster recognized that aspect of herself in Roberts's character, Patty, "the Jiminy Cricket figure who manages Lee and Kyle's relationship and produces their survival," she says.

With Kyle, Foster related to "his rage, that rage of being the good son who does it all the right way, but gets screwed over.

The unfairness of that."

But her deepest connection was to Lee. "He's a showman, a public person, and in some ways he's completely tainted by that experience," Foster says.

"He doesn't know the difference between his persona and who he is. That's a theme in my life, and in my work."

Foster, who was born in Los Angeles and educated at Yale, has been a public figure for 50 of her 53 years, stretching from her first commercial (for Coppertone) through scores of TV shows and films, including Taxi Driver, The Accused and The Silence of the Lambs (she won best-actress Oscars for the latter two). In 1981, she experienced first-hand the unwitting power that comes with fame, when John Hinckley Jr. shot then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan to impress her. She was 18 years old.

She developed a "survival system" that she still uses, "that's allowed me to be fairly welladjusted," she says. "My public persona isn't much different than who I am, but it's just one part of me. It's the part people who don't know me see. I'm bigger and richer than that."

The private side includes her two sons, Charles and Christopher, from her former relationship with Cydney Bernard, and her wife, the actress and photographer Alexandra Hedison, whom she married in 2014.

"It's about being compartmentalized," Foster continues, "about saying, 'My work is here, my life is there, and the two do not meet.' The only area where it intersects is the work that goes on screen. I don't think there's anything that's more me than the work I do."

But even without fame, Foster insists that "we're all crippled by our public personas. It's your job as a fully functioning, fully conscious person to look hard at yourself, and to make people better and not worse. That's your attempt, to communicate, so we can all get better."

Money Monster examines what happens when people do the opposite. "The financial world is a reflection of our issues as humans," Foster says. "We're looking for value, to be meaningful, to become winners and more like computers in some ways. The financial world is almost a remedy for self-hatred: 'I get more money, that makes me a better person.' " The leverage and borrowing that her film examines began as a positive thing, Foster continues - "a foundation for America and for Third World countries that allows, for example, people who have a small store to be able to send their kids to college. But it's been abused by entitled middlemen, who figured out a way to create a system that's completely mysterious, that only they have the keys to, and only they can benefit from."

Ironically, Money Monster's $27million (U.S.) budget is the biggest Foster has had as director, but it still felt, she reports cheerfully, "like we didn't have enough money and I was choking." Figuring out how to match the shots from the six cameras that are shooting Lee's TV show with Foster's film cameras, so that no one in the crew inadvertently landed on screen, required full use of her math brain. "People will see the movie and have no idea how hard it was," Foster says.

"As much as the movie is a thriller, it never felt unattainable for Jodie," co-producer Dubiecki says. "She didn't waver for a second about what she was taking on. She's probably the most prepared person we've ever encountered. She's in touch with every department on every detail. People describe movie sets as battlegrounds, but she grew up on them. So she brings a sense of calm, security and comfort."

The personal nature of Foster's commitment also means that she disappears for long stretches between projects. "That's my way," she says. "I worked a lot more when I was a child. I like to live." Money Monster is only her fourth feature as a director, and her most recent one, The Beaver, came out five years ago (though in between she directed an episode of House of Cards and two of Orange Is the New Black for Netflix).

"I couldn't do it any sooner," Foster says. "I'm always looking.

I never stop reading and developing, but I'm picky. Not because I'm so great, but because I'm specific about what moves me at what time."

So did this film whet Foster's appetite for bigger fare? "No! Absolutely not!" she says, audibly grinning. "I'm still interested in the same things I'm always interested in: the personal story, the humour in drama, and how each person affects other lives."

She has to feel it. She wouldn't have it any other way.

Associated Graphic

'My public persona isn't much different than who I am, but it's just one part of me,' says director Jodie Foster.


Faced with infinite choice in the age of UberEats, Spotify and Amazon, deciding what to pick can be paralyzing. In his new book explores the messy, irrational choices we make everyday
Saturday, May 21, 2016 – Print Edition, Page R15

You May Also Like: Taste in an Age of Endless Choice By Tom Vanderbilt Knopf Canada, 305 pages, $32.95

Try as I might, I can't get my wife and twoyear-old son into the Grateful Dead. If put to the test, the pair vote in a block; Justin Bieber soundly defeats Jerry Garcia every time.

I've never much questioned my son's preference for pop, but my wife's position - not her Bieber-fever, which I reluctantly accept, but her Dead-dread - vexes me. Does she truly dislike the band because the music, as she says, is "boring and undisciplined?" Or is it the mere idea of a jam band that she rejects? Conversely, do I love the Dead purely because of Jerry's genius - or because it is a nostalgic summer-camp soundtrack? With no resolution in sight, do our reasons for disliking, or liking, even matter?

According to Immanuel Kant, they do. In his 1790 The Critique of Judgment, perhaps the definitive philosophical treatise on taste, Kant argues that judgments of aesthetic matters, such as art and music, should be rendered in a disinterested fashion, unsullied by our wants and needs. For Kant, there are universal truths of beauty and our aesthetic judgments should aspire to uncover them. In other words, in Sorry vs. Scarlet Begonias, there's an objective winner - and it's got nothing to do with what I did behind the boathouse in the summer of '95.

In his new book, You May Also Like: Taste in an Age of Endless Choice, Tom Vanderbilt turns Kant's position on its head. To answer an ageold question - "Why do we like the things we like?" - Vanderbilt navigates philosophy, economics, psychology, neurology and data science. His premise, from Page 1, where he declares blue his favourite colour without really knowing why: The subjective, vague forces that shape our likes are not noise that confuses taste; contrarily, they are the essence of taste itself. All we can do is try to understand them a little better.

Vanderbilt, an American journalist and former Jeopardy! contestant, explores the messy, irrational decisions we make on the road in his previous book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do; You May Also Like carries the torch, exploring the messy, irrational choices and microchoices we make everyday. He writes, "We are faced with an ever-increasing amount of things to figure out whether we like or dislike, and yet at the same time there are fewer overarching rules and standards to go by in helping one decide." Faced with infinite choice in the age of UberEats, Spotify and Amazon, deciding what to like can be paralyzing. And yet, we persevere: We eat a meal; we listen to a song; we buy a salad spinner. (Often, we then rate the experience.) As Vanderbilt explores the enigmatic forces driving these decisions, he paints an engaging, multilayered, often contradictory picture of taste. De gustibus non est disputandum? Think again: There is plenty of accounting for taste.

Although any individual like may teach us little, study enough of these choices, as Vanderbilt does, and overarching principles emerge. For one: "We like what we know." He writes, "The single biggest predictor for whether you will like a food is whether you've had it before." There's evolutionary logic here - if it didn't kill us, it can't be that bad. But the principle applies to music, too; once we hear a song enough, we develop "perceptual fluency," a pleasure of familiarity. So it was, Vanderbilt recounts, on a fateful night in a Chicago nightclub in 1985. The first time the DJ played In Your Mind, the song that gave birth to the acid-house genre, the crowd was baffled; by the fourth play, later that night, "people were dancing on their hands." (Something similar may have happened to me at summer camp, or to my son the weekend my wife played Sorry roughly 80 times.)

Sometimes, we don't even have to hear a song to like it. As Tim Westergren, the co-founder of music-streaming service Pandora, tells Vanderbilt, "Our appreciation of music is so deeply affected by our preconvinced notions of what an artist stands for, what a genre means. You don't listen to music objectively. People have a knee-jerk reaction to an artist based on something that's not musical." The comment points to another principle of taste: "We like what we expect to like."

Westergren's insight led to his Music Genome Project, an algorithmic map of all songs' basic elements, as well as his unfulfilled ambition of stripping Pandora's tracks of identifying information. Much as Kant may have admired this pursuit of universal truth, Vanderbilt reminds us that objectivity and music are strange bedfellows; music is, in fact, the region of taste most wrapped up with our identities. Here, he cites the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, "Nothing more clearly affirms one's 'class,' nothing more infallibly classifies than tastes in music."

It's a neat segue to another principle: We like the things that signal - to others and ourselves - our status. It's an idea well understood by my former boss, Monocle editor-in-chief Tyler Brûlé, who refuses to create an iPad edition of his magazine because it precludes the possibility of others seeing what you're reading. But this relationship between taste and status should come as no revelation to anyone who's chosen Starbucks over Tim Hortons.

Sometimes, driven by a desire for status, we overestimate our likes. To wit: An Inconvenient Truth. In Netflix's DVD days, the Al Gore doc was often rented - and then renewed, and renewed again. (As one Netflix employee notes, "it was a great cupholder.") Conversely, even when we really do think we like something, we're often wrong. Here, Vanderbilt quotes 18th-century Scottish philosopher David Hume: "There is a species of beauty, which, as it is florid and superficial, pleases at first; but being found incompatible with a just expression either of reason or passion, soon palls upon the taste, and is then rejected with disdain." That catchy pop song or sugary cocktail might seem great at first, but you'll soon tire of it. At the same time, a truly original painting or song or building might initially seem ugly. Vanderbilt recounts the tale of Jorn Utzon, the architect of the Sydney Opera House, who "was practically driven from the country" before people clued in to his genius. Vanderbilt warns, "Don't trust the easy like."

After reading You May Also Like, it may be tougher to trust any likes at all. But Vanderbilt does not aim at challenging readers' tastes; he simply aims at explaining "the way we come to have the tastes we do." In so doing, he teaches us that we often like - and dislike - for arbitrary, irrational or superficial reasons. There's a lesson in here, somewhere. Perhaps it's a reminder to someone like me - an unBelieber and occasional snob - that I'm no better than my wife, or my toddler son, or anyone else who chooses slickly produced pop over the soulful melodies of one of history's most groundbreaking rock bands. I just happen to like better things.

Benjamin Leszcz is a writer and a partner in the creative consultancy Whitman Emorson.

In Montreal, a hopeful transformation of suffering into art
Thursday, May 19, 2016 – Print Edition, Page L1

MONTREAL -- Prison scenes figure in several well-established operas, from Tosca and Fidelio to Janacek's From the House of the Dead. This week in Montreal, two new operas take off from prison stories, one imagined and the other very real.

Les Feluettes (Lilies), at Opéra de Montréal, is an adaptation of Michel Marc Bouchard's 1987 play about a love between two men that ends in death and imprisonment. The Trials of Patricia Isasa, at Chants Libres, is based on an Argentinian woman's captivity during her country's "Dirty War" of the 1970s, and her determination to bring her torturers to justice. Both works are being staged during Opera America, a major annual conference for North American opera companies taking place this week in Montreal.

Patricia Isasa was 16 when she was seized by security forces who beat and raped her, and held her prisoner without charge for two and a half years. For the first six months, she was kept in a six-by-six-metre cell with 35 other women, who never saw daylight or darkness - their cell was brightly lit day and night.

"Half an hour after they kidnapped me and put a hood over my head, I decided three things," Isasa said, during an interview in Montreal. "I decided that I would survive, that I would tell the story, and that I would remain the same person.

They could do things to my body, but they couldn't touch my soul."

She was never tried for any crime, and was released at the age of 19 without apology or explanation. The trials of the opera's title relate to the two processes she launched against her tormentors, first in Spain and later in Argentina, where six men - including a chief of police, a federal judge and a mayor - were found guilty and given heavy sentences in 2009.

One of Isasa's witnesses was killed before the trial, and another was murdered after the convictions. At one point, she fled to the United States because of death threats, before returning to Buenos Aires, where she now lives.

At 55, Isasa still has the brio and warmth of the buoyant teenager she must have been.

American librettist Naomi Wallace and Norwegian-American composer Kristin Norderval actually begin their opera with a scene featuring the young and older Isasa confronting each other, comparing ideals and challenging each other's assumptions.

Isasa said she had one musical request, which was that the opera contain elements of tango and a bandoneon. Norderval, who also performs the soprano role of the adult Isasa, wrote the score for an expanded tango ensemble of seven players, plus an electronic tape part made from the sounds of detuned pianos.

"The ending is hopeful," Norderval said - though she noted that the infamous School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Ga., where many Dirty War torturers were trained, is still turning out graduates. Isasa has been active in protests against the school, which she says disseminates techniques for controlling civilian populations through state terror.

But Pauline Vaillancourt, Chants Libres's artistic director, says that The Trials of Patricia Isasa is not a political opera as such. "It's an opera about courage," she said.

Isasa said that when her captors were convicted, "I received a reparation and a healing. I felt everything was ending, and my question was, 'What do I do with this now?' " One of the answers came in an approach from Norderval, who had heard her story and wanted to adapt parts of it for the stage. For Isasa, the transformation of her suffering into a work of art was an unexpected hopeful ending.

"Beauty softens everything, even horrible things," she said.

"The tragedy is changed into something you can more or less touch. I have good memories of so many people [who did not survive]. We lose the person, but we don't lose the message or the stories. You could find love and beauty even in these kinds of places, because human beings are about resistance."

Michel Marc Bouchard has seen several transformations of his landmark play Les Feluettes, through eight translations for the stage and in John Greyson's film adaptation Lilies, released in 1996. Writing the libretto for the opera version meant cutting at least half of the play, the playwright said in an interview between rehearsals, and reshaping the rest to fit a musical setting.

"We had to make room for the music, and especially for the two leading parts," Bouchard said. He also wrote brand new text for several arias.

Even so, "I find it easier and more gratifying to write for opera than for film," he said, "because there is a closer proximity between opera and theatre. There's the same unity of time, action and place, which you absolutely don't find in cinema."

He was contacted by the American composer Kevin March after March saw the Greyson film in 2002. They were talking about a possible collaboration when Opéra de Montréal and Pacific Opera Victoria each contacted Bouchard independently, about making an opera version of Les Feluettes. The work became a co-commission that will be seen in Victoria in April, 2017.

The opera, like the play, is set in a prison where a less-thansaintly bishop is forced to watch a re-enactment of events in which he played a part years before.

The 50-piece orchestra is in prison too, visible on stage throughout the piece, wearing costumes made using only what could be found in a jail. There are nine solo roles in the piece and a chorus of 20 - all male.

The play contains an overt operatic cue, in the form of an amateur theatrical scene from a Gabriele D'Annunzio play, Le Martyre de saint Sébastien, for which Claude Debussy wrote incidental music. March's eclectic tonal score includes crucial references to Debussy, as well as scenes set to Quebec folkloric music and ragtime. March said he has also associated certain motifs and themes with particular characters, giving himself room to allude to things even when they're not seen or spoken about on stage.

The stylistic diversity matches the range of different kinds of French used in the play, Bouchard said, though he had to eliminate Québécois speech from the libretto. "If the whole opera were in Québécois, that would work. But to have a French character and a Québécois character singing together, the Quebecker sounds grotesque and funny."

It was also hard to preserve the play's humour, Bouchard said, because operatic timing is more rigid. In terms of the interplay between performer and audience, he said, theatre is a hot medium, while opera is cold.

But the playwright also said he feels proud to be putting this story on the opera stage, which hasn't seen many same-sex love stories. "This is about two men in love, and not as accessories, but in front, as the main characters," he said.

The Trials of Patricia Isasa plays at Montreal's Monument National, May 19-21. Les Feluettes plays Place des Arts' Salle WilfridPelletier, May 21-28.

Associated Graphic

At 55, Patricia Isasa still has the brio and warmth of the buoyant teenager she must have been.


Crises put Olympic world in turmoil
The Associated Press
Saturday, May 14, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S11

LONDON -- Doping scandals. Bribery allegations. Fears about Zika. Political, economic and corruption crises.

What else could go wrong?

The past few days have unleashed a wave of grim news for the Olympics, battering four host cities - past, present and future - on three continents, and further eroding public trust in the credibility of the global sports movement.

The 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, the coming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo - all have been caught up in an unprecedented meltdown of trouble.

Just when the sports world thought it had pulled away from the darkest days of the FIFA and IAAF scandals, a confluence of turmoil this week brought the clouds back and threatened the image and prestige of the Olympics, less than three months before the Aug. 5 opening ceremony in Brazil.

It poses a new test for the International Olympic Committee, which endured its worst crisis with the Salt Lake City bidding scandal in the late 1990s.

Richard Ings, former chief executive of Australia's anti-doping agency, said sports leaders must work quickly or "sink further into this quicksand."

"It's about sport and the credibility of sport," he said. "And the responsibilities rest with sports administrators who are failing to reform."

David Larkin, a lawyer and sports-corruption expert, blames the continuing scandals on "a failed governance model, a broken system of sport justice and a troubled doping system."

Here's a look at the chaos across the Olympic world: .

Sochi scandal The 2014 Games were attacked by critics for a reported $51-billion price tag. Now they may be remembered for one of the biggest sporting frauds ever exposed.

The former head of Moscow's anti-doping lab, Grigory Rodchenkov, detailed in The New York Times how Russia operated a state-sponsored scheme that included exchanging bottles of tainted urine samples for clean ones through a concealed hole in the wall of the Sochi lab.

The doping program reportedly involved at least 15 Russian medal winners.

Russian officials denied the allegations Friday, with President Vladimir Putin's spokesman denouncing Rodchenkov's claims as "a turncoat's libel." The World Anti-Doping Agency will investigate.

The IOC said it "will not hesitate to act decisively to punish those responsible." If the cheating is proven, and it's unclear how much hard evidence exists, it could result in mass disqualifications and stripping of medals. The Sochi Olympics, one of Putin's pet projects, could wind up as Russia's Shame Games.

The new doping allegations won't help Russia's case for having its track and field athletes reinstated for the Rio Games. They were suspended by the IAAF following a WADA panel report that found state-sponsored cheating.

Pressure also mounted on Kenya - and its celebrated distance runners - when the East African nation was declared non-compliant Thursday with WADA's rules.

Blame it on Rio Never has a host country been in such political and economic turmoil before an Olympics. Seven years ago, when the IOC picked Rio de Janeiro to host South America's first Olympics, Brazil was a rising star on the world stage with a booming, emerging economy. Now, 84 days before the games begin, the country is in its worst recession since the 1930s. It is torn by a massive corruption scandal centred on oil giant Petrobras. Olympic budgets have been slashed.

The political situation has imploded - with the Senate voting Thursday to impeach President Dilma Rousseff. She's now suspended and won't be declaring the Olympics open on Aug. 5. Her Vice-President, Michel Temer, is now the acting President.

While most of the Olympic venues are ready, concerns remain over the severe water pollution at the sailing and rowing sites.

If all that wasn't bad enough, Brazil is in the grip of the Zika virus. The mosquito-borne disease has been proven to cause a range of severe birth defects, including brain-damaged babies born with abnormally small heads and a rare neurological disorder that can cause temporary paralysis. A Canadian professor said this week the Olympics should be postponed or moved because of the Zika threat. The IOC and World Health Organization said the Games will be safe, while urging visitors to take precautions.

Most Olympics are preceded by controversies and last-minute worries, only for the mood to lift once the cauldron has been lit and the host country has won its first medal. Perhaps that will be the case once the first TV pictures show the Olympic flame burning against a backdrop of the Copacabana beach, Sugar Loaf mountain and the Christ the Redeemer statue.

Pyeongchang's problems The first Winter Olympics in South Korea have been dogged by more problems than expected, including construction delays, conflicts over venues, a shortage of local sponsors - and a revolvingdoor leadership. While preparations for the 2018 games seemed to accelerate after successful test events this winter, the local organizing committee was hit by yet another sudden resignation of its top leader. For the second time in less than two years, there has been a change at the helm.

Business tycoon Cho Yang-ho stepped down to focus on dealing with the financial troubles at the shipping company his family controls. Cho had taken over in July, 2014, after the sudden resignation of Kim Jin-sun, the former governor of the Pyeongchang region.

On Thursday, Pyeongchang elected former South Korean government minister Lee Hee-beom, a newcomer to the sports world, as the organizing committee's new chief. With less than two years to go until the games, Lee will need to get up to speed - fast.

Trouble in Tokyo Tokyo, seen as a safe choice when awarded the Games three years ago, has been buffeted by a series of problems. The original stadium design was scrapped because it was too expensive. The original logo was dumped after allegations it was copied from a Belgian theatre.

But this week brought the most damaging setback yet: allegations of possible bribery during Tokyo's winning bid.

French prosecutors, who have been investigating IAAF corruption, said Thursday they had widened their inquiry to look into payments of 2.8-million Singapore dollars ($2.6-million) from a bank in Japan to an account in Singapore in the months before and after Tokyo won the games.

The account in Singapore was tied to the son of disgraced former IAAF President Lamine Diack. Both Diacks are under investigation in France on corruption charges.

Tokyo bid leaders issued a statement Friday acknowledging the payments but insisting they were for legitimate consulting fees. The IOC said it is contact with the French magistrates and is a civil party to the investigation.

Tokyo defeated Istanbul 60-36 in the final round of IOC voting.

Madrid was eliminated on the first ballot.

Should investigators determine that bribery took place, it would pose the IOC's biggest ethics scandal since 10 members were ousted for accepting cash and other favours during Salt Lake City's bid for the 2002 Winter Games.

Associated Graphic

Members of the Japanese delegation celebrate the IOC announcement on Sept. 7, 2013, that Tokyo will host the 2020 Olympic Games, a selection now being investigated for possible bribery.


The man with the golden bottle
Saturday, May 21, 2016 – Print Edition, Page F2

This week The New York Times revealed the details of a state-run doping program operated under the direction of Grigory Rodchenkov, the director of Russia's antidoping laboratory. According to Dr. Rodchenkov, during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russian agents ran a Byzantine peesnatching operation, years in the making. Working late into the night, in dark, secret rooms, they would switch out out performance-enhancing-drug-contaminated urine samples from Russian athletes - and refill the bottle with untainted, preGames urine from the same athlete, stored at a separate fac-ility.

Dr. Rodchenkov has fled Russia for Los Angeles, where he is cooperating in the making of a documentary film about the failures of drug-testing in international sport, but the man I kept thinking about, after reading the story, wasn't him anyway; I wondered about the man Dr. Rodchenkov believes is a Russian agent, the man in charge of all the pee logistics - logistics that included, according to Dr. Rodchenkov, a signal that "the urines were ready."

What was that like for him, I asked myself, being the pee mule for the Russian Olympic team? And naturally, I assumed I'd never know, and so I was surprised to be greeted by a shadowy figure - well, he was doing his best to be shadowy in my very sunny office, this Tuesday morning.

"For this I joined Russian intelligence?" the man said to me in a thick Russian accent, spinning around in my own desk chair to face me. "Victor ... Victor get ricin-tipped umbrella. Me? I get pee."

"I'm sorry," I said, setting down the teacup I had come in with. "And you are ... ?" "It is I. Man who opens little bottles of pee for Russian government," he said, trying, I think, to sound ominous.

"Oh," I said politely. "I won't shake hands," I added as he rose. "No, really. Let's not.

"Yes, I've read about you. So, tell me, what would happen was, during the Sochi Games, a bottleful of urine, someone else's urine, would be passed through a small hole in the wall, near the ground? It would be passed to a hidden room, to you, a man crouching down to receive another man's urine, and you'd take that Swiss-designed, supposedly tamper-proof bottle away, open it ... somehow ... and bring it back to the room?" "Not one bottle - teams' worth of bottles. And then I would bring new urine ..." "Months-and-months-old new urine, though, right?" "Yes," he nodded - somewhat defensively. "I bring old, but clean ..." "Clean for urine, you mean?" I asked. "But still, you know, urine. Someone else's urine?" "Yes, I bring relatively clean urine back to room - I bring urine back in various vessels.

Sometimes I bring urine back in soda cans. Sometimes in jars and, as I do this, I think: Victor, Victor is wearing a nice suit and chasing double agent through the streets of Prague, carrying a deadly umbrella. Me? I am wandering the streets of Sochi in an I Heart Team Russia hoodie with a baby bottle full of luger's urine in my hands. This is what I do for Mother Russia."

"And that was your job? Is that right, Mr. ..." "My code name is The Whiz.

They try to tell me is short for The Wizard. But it is not short for The Wizard. Every time I call my handler at headquarters and I say, "Whiz, over" at the end of my report, some clown always say: "Did you shake it?" and the whole room bursts out laughing, and then I know handler have me on speakerphone the whole time, again."

"I'm sorry, Whiz," I said, picking up my teacup and holding it over my mouth to hide my smile.

"You know what Victor's code name is?" said Whiz. "Victor gets to be called The Poker!"

"Yeah," I said. "That's not really a good code name, either.

Sounds like you guys need to work on your code-naming process a little harder. Maybe take some time off the whole amateur-sport-doping thing and just work on your secret-agent names for a while. You see where I'm going with this, Whiz?

How did you come to choose this line of work, anyway, Whiz?" "My father was sinister agent of the state. His father before him was sinister agent of the state. I just grew up dreaming that one day I would burst out of the shadows and garrote James Bond. For this reason, I learn to ski. I not even like winter sports - especially the luge - but I see what job requires; I watch movies. Always, what I see is, you hatch sinister plot in Nairobi, it gets discovered during Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but everyone involved will eventually drop everything, and catch a transcontinental flight so that you can try and kill each other at a ski resort in Switzerland ..." "Yes, my impression has always been that over 70 per cent of tourism to Switzerland is assassination-related," I said sympathetically. "Did you also imagine yourself being seduced by beautiful women over forcefully ordered drinks?" I asked.

"No. Beautiful seductresses always Russian agents also.

Office romance, no good. No one ever ask me to be diabolical in any of the six languages I learned, either. It's just pee, pee, pee with these people all the time. No danger! No excitement! No Bond! I open to compromise but I never even got to push a bottle of athlete's pee out of a plane without a parachute. Just collect pee bottle, open pee bottle, give pee bottle to pee doctor ..." he sighed.

"Those Swiss urine-sample bottles sound very tricky," I said to him, "like little bottle-safes almost. Tell me, to crack those little urine-filled safes, did you have to hold the bottle of another human being's pee up really close to your ear and turn the lid a little one way and then a tiny bit the other way and listen for tiny little clicks?" "I don't want to talk about it."

"Did the swishing sound make the clicks harder to hear?" "Pee-bottle-opening method is state secret," he said.

"Because I totally see it as happening like that," I said.

"I want to push you out of a plane," he answered quietly.

"You think you can take me, Bottle Boy?" I said.

"I, Russian secret agent, you journalist; you really want go down this road?" he answered.

"You fall from plane so fast ..." "You want to check and see if I have a bladder infection first?" I offered. "I could just ..." and I held up my now-empty little teacup delicately, raised my eyebrows suggestively, and tilted my head toward the bathroom down the hall, and he began to cry.

It's been three days and he's still here. I'm not complaining.

He's offered to garrote the mailman, but I told him no and it was fine, and sometimes he'll burst out of the shadows and open a particularly tricky salsa jar for me or something, and I think he just needs a little time.

Associated Graphic


Ten things you need to know about B.C. spot prawns
Special to The Globe and Mail
Wednesday, May 18, 2016 – Print Edition, Page L4

VANCOUVER -- A decade ago, British Columbia spot prawns were a bottom-of-the-barrel seafood product - the mushy filler for chowder and fortifier of cheap fish stock. Last weekend, the luxury crustaceans were toasted with Moët & Chandon champagne.

To celebrate its 10th anniversary, the B.C. Spot Prawn Festival kicked off Friday night with a black-tie gala at the tony, private Vancouver Club. The splashy fete featured the delicacy in six courses - melted into "liquid gold," smoked over rosemary, poached with grand-fir tips and chopped into XO sauce - prepared by famous chefs from Vancouver and across the country.

Gala guests wore ball gowns and tuxedos and the soaring calla lily floral arrangements were lavish. The scene was about as far removed from a dockside spot-prawn boil as one could imagine. So how did the humble B.C. spot prawn go from being an unappreciated toss-away ingredient to one of Canada's signature seafood luxury products coveted in restaurants around the world?

Here's what you need to know.

Basically, it's a prawn with spots

The wild B.C. spot prawn is the largest of all seven commercial species of shrimp found in the Pacific Northwest. Some grow bigger than a human hand - up to about 23 centimetres in length. They are reddish-brown, turning bright pink when cooked, with defining white spots on their tails. When properly handled and cooked, they are firm in texture, with a luscious, sweet flavour.

Maligned and misunderstood

The commercial B.C. spot-prawn fishery - which harvests approximately 2,540 metric tonnes annually, between Vancouver Island and the mainland - has a long history. But prior to 2006, almost the entire catch was exported to Hong Kong and Tokyo. Sport fishermen, who are allowed to trap unlimited amounts all year long, knew there were premium prawns in them thar waters, but it was a well-guarded secret. Vancouver chefs were skeptical, which isn't surprising, since only the dregs were sold locally.

Local champions

At the turn of the millennium, Robert Clark was the executive chef at Vancouver's C Restaurant, one of Canada's premier seafood restaurants. Long before programs such as Ocean Wise or SeaChoice existed, Clark had already begun championing sustainable seafood. He knew that farmed tiger prawns were bad for the environment and often tasteless to boot, so he took them off his menu. "It was the hardest decision we ever made, but it had to be done," he recalls of nixing the most popular seafood from his sales. Two years later, he was out on a boat with his friend Steve Johansen, the owner of Organic Ocean Seafood, complaining about how he couldn't source any premium spot prawns. "If you're serious about this, I'll buy a spot-prawn licence," Johansen said. In 2006, Organic Ocean became the first commercial fishing operation to serve the domestic market exclusively.

The festival that almost sank the dock

Clark went to the Chefs' Table Society of B.C. and asked for $2,000 to stage a little festival on Vancouver's Fishermen's Wharf.

"We thought we'd boil some prawns and educate a few people," Clark recalls, chuckling.

"Hundreds of people turned out.

We almost sunk the dock." This year, 2,000 tickets were sold for the Sunday-afternoon spotprawn boil, hosted by the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, with nearly twice as many people wandering through the festival to buy prawns from the day boats.

Canada versus USA

Any live spot prawns for sale before last Thursday's seasonopening festival were American, from Puget Sound in Washington State. U.S. spot prawns are not as sustainable as those from British Columbia, where a later fishery opening means prawns have grown to full size. In Canada, fishermen have to throw back "berried" prawns (females with eggs attached), which helps maintain healthier stocks. The prawns are caught with long-line bait traps that have minimal impact on ocean habitat and low levels of bycatch. Traps are closely monitored during the four-tosix-week harvest season: Once the number of spawning prawns caught in each trap drops below a certain level, the fishery is closed.

Try this at home

When buying live spot prawns, look for firm prawns with a strong tail. If the tail is curled inwards, they are weak and close to death. Spot prawns have an enzyme in their brain that starts spreading as soon as they die.

The enzyme breaks down the proteins in the tail and turns the flesh soft and grainy. If buying tails with the head removed, look for translucent flesh. Avoid prawns that are turning white, have black spots or smell like ammonia. Tap water will kill live prawns: Remove the head as soon as you get home. Put the tails on ice, cover them with a cloth and keep them in the fridge for up to two days.

Choose your prawns with care

Obviously, fresh prawns are better, but frozen spot prawns can be pretty tasty. Look for those that are frozen in blocks or tubs of seawater. The briny solution seasons the flesh and keeps them in good shape for up to two years. Be wary of frozen spot prawns served in Japanese restaurants. The Japanese market prizes prawns with the head still attached. But in order to kill them without spreading the enzyme, the intact prawns are dipped in ascorbic acid or sodium metabisulfite, a chemical compound that can be quite hazardous. The prawns may taste incredibly delicious - almost buttery - but they can be toxic.

Cooking - be quick

A little heat will firm up the flesh and release the sweetness, but too much will toughen the meat.

Blanched or seared, prawns need no more than 30 seconds to cook, one minute max. They're also delicious when grilled in their shells. The heads are edible.

Fry them in oil and eat them like chips.

Price escalation

In 2006, spot prawns were priced at $12 a pound off the docks in Vancouver. This year, they cost $17 a pound here, and upwards of $30 elsewhere in Canada.

While that isn't a huge increase over a decade, prices shot up by 50 per cent two years ago when Early Mortality Syndrome decimated Asia's farm-raised tigerprawn industry. Hungry offshore buyers determine the price: Although licence owners would rather keep prices down for the domestic market, if they don't charge what the market dictates, the fishermen they work with will simply sell to others supplying the exporters.

Will spot prawns stay in Canada?

Although consumers - and chefs - have balked at the increased price of spot prawns, demand shows no signs of slowing down.

The lineups to buy from the boats at Sunday's festival were hundreds of people long. Some people are now choosing local sidestripe and humpback shrimp as a less expensive alternative.

But if it weren't for spot prawns, which proved that there were delicious shrimp swimming in local waters, even those lesser varieties might still be considered garbage.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Urbancorp's collapse exposes weaknesses in consumer-protection laws
Monday, May 16, 2016 – Print Edition, Page B1

The sudden downfall of Urbancorp, one of Toronto's most active developers, has exposed what many say are serious shortcomings in consumer-protection laws governing new home construction in Ontario.

Since paying a $75,000 deposit toward an Urbancorp townhouse more than two years ago, Alex Oren is still wondering if he will ever get his home - or his money.

Mr. Oren is one of more than 50 buyers who paid more than $2.4million in deposits for Urbancorp's Ravines of Lawrence townhouse project in west Toronto.

The project is among the nine Urbancorp subsidiaries that have since filed for court protection.

Had Mr. Oren purchased a condo, rather than a freehold townhouse, his deposit would have been required by Ontario's condo laws to be insured or placed in trust.

But because he bought a freehold home, Mr. Oren is now among the nearly $4-million worth of creditors listed in Urbancorp's Ravines of Lawrence insolvency filing. The most he is entitled to reclaim from new home-warranty administrator Tarion Warranty Corp. is $40,000 - or close to half of his original payment.

It's peanuts," said Mr. Oren.

"Homes cost $1-million minimum in this crazy market and we pay such big down payments, the money has to be safe somewhere. This is an open door to steal people's money."

Tarion's warranty coverage for freehold deposits was last increased in 2003, when it was doubled from $20,000. Since then, single-family home prices in the City of Toronto have quadrupled to more than $1-million.

Outside of the GTA, it's been sufficient largely, people haven't been putting down more than $40,000. I guess it's a different story in Toronto," said Tarion spokesperson Melissa Yollick.

It's important for people to read their protection before they buy a home to understand: If I buy a freehold home, I am protected up to $40,000, so what does that mean?" Ms. Yollick added.

Urbancorp's financial problems have also highlighted the steep cost to consumers of lengthy construction delays - which have required some homeowners to pay rent to Urbancorp for years before they were allowed to finally close on the purchase of their homes, while others have waited nearly five years to move into their properties.

Cate Beyleveldt and David Dubrovsky are among a group of 41 purchasers who lived in their east-end Riverdale townhomes for more than two years before they were finally able to close on their purchase and get title to their homes. That meant Urbancorp was able to charge them "occupancy fees" for years. Occupancy fees are similar to rent, essentially allowing developers to charge buyers fees to live in homes that are still legally owned by the developer.

In Mr. Dubrovsky's case, he paid roughly $55,000 in occupancy fees to Urbancorp before finally being able to close on his home purchase, as did many of his neighbours.

The process is known as "interim occupancy" and is typical in new large-scale condos, where owners on lower floors are often allowed to move in before workers have put the finishing touches on higher levels.

But it is rare for buyers of new single-family homes and other freehold construction to spend years in interim occupancy, since purchases typically close when each individual home is finished.

After August, when Urbancorp's plans to close on the Riverdale purchases were abruptly cancelled, the developer began to demand three months' worth of occupancy fees in advance.

The buyers say they also received little communication from Urbancorp, Tarion or city officials to explain the delay until they read on Tarion's website that the agency was proposing to revoke Urbancorp's warranty registration - even though Tarion had been in negotiation with Urbancorp for months.

People's life savings or retirement savings are being put into this home and they're at risk," Mr. Dubrovsky said.

There were a lot of people who knew or at least should have known for a developer of this size what was going on."

Early this year, with few options to negotiate collectively with Urbancorp as 41 individual homeowners, the group decided to create a formal neighbourhood association, hire a lawyer and finally push Urbancorp to close on their home purchases.

Urbancorp filed for court protection only hours later.

What protections are there in legislation for consumers who buy freehold as opposed to a condominium project?" asked Gary Caplan, the group's lawyer.

"Why isn't there some system in place to protect consumers?" Mr. Caplan has also been contacted by buyers in other Urbancorp projects that have yet to be built. "These poor consumers run the risk of losing their deposits or parts of them," he said.

"They're in a difficult position and they have to decide what their legal remedies are."

Elaine Quinn spent tens of thousands on storage fees and short-term accommodations while her family moved from home to home waiting for years for Urbancorp to finish their Leslieville townhouse. It was originally due to be completed in 2013, but remains unfinished.

The most the couple can recoup under Tarion's warranty for delay compensation is $7,500.

Increasing warranty coverage or forcing developers to insure deposits or place them in trust would require a legislative change to the rules governing the new-home construction industry, Ms. Yollick said.

The province is in the midst of examining the rules governing the new-home market. It has appointed former Superior Court associate chief justice J. Douglas Cunningham to conduct an independent review of Tarion and its new-home-warranty legislation.

Anne-Marie Flanagan, Minister of Government and Consumer Services spokeswoman, said the review can make recommendations on a broad scope of consumer protection rules.

Justice Cunningham could look into deposit protection as part of his recommendations on improving consumer protection, but since this is an independent review, we anticipate receiving the final report in the fall 2016," she wrote in an e-mail.

NDP MPP Catherine Fife, who has pushed for changes to the current consumer-protection legislation, including the practice of interim occupancy, described the province's actions as too little too late. "The failure of the Liberal government to enact substantive reform of Tarion continues to leave citizens at risk," she said in an e-mail.

In an e-mailed statement, Urbancorp said it is "working to find ways to advance all of its projects to completion" and expects to either give buyers their homes or refund their deposits.

For purchasers in Urbancorp's Riverdale complex, the yearslong struggle has a silver lining.

"We've gotten to form a community that is quite tight-knit," Mr. Dubrovsky said. "People know each other and work together and that's kind of special to have those connections."

Associated Graphic

An Urbancorp townhouse development in Toronto's east end has been in limbo since construction halted last year. Nine Urbancorp subsidiaries have now filed for court protection.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Urbancorp's collapse exposes weaknesses in consumer-protection laws
Monday, May 16, 2016 – Print Edition, Page B1

The sudden downfall of Urbancorp, one of Toronto's most active developers, has exposed what many say are serious shortcomings in consumer-protection laws governing new home construction in Ontario.

Since paying a $75,000 deposit toward an Urbancorp townhouse more than two years ago, Alex Oren is still wondering if he will ever get his home - or his money.

Mr. Oren is one of more than 50 buyers who paid more than $2.4million in deposits for Urbancorp's Ravines of Lawrence townhouse project in west Toronto.

The project is among the nine Urbancorp subsidiaries that have since filed for court protection.

Had Mr. Oren purchased a condo, rather than a freehold townhouse, his deposit would have been required by Ontario's condo laws to be insured or placed in trust.

But because he bought a freehold home, Mr. Oren is now among the nearly $4-million worth of creditors listed in Urbancorp's Ravines of Lawrence insolvency filing. The most he is entitled to reclaim from new home-warranty administrator Tarion Warranty Corp. is $40,000 - or close to half of his original payment.

It's peanuts," said Mr. Oren.

"Homes cost $1-million minimum in this crazy market and we pay such big down payments, the money has to be safe somewhere. This is an open door to steal people's money."

Tarion's warranty coverage for freehold deposits was last increased in 2003, when it was doubled from $20,000. Since then, single-family home prices in the City of Toronto have quadrupled to more than $1-million.

Outside of the GTA, it's been sufficient largely, people haven't been putting down more than $40,000. I guess it's a different story in Toronto," said Tarion spokesperson Melissa Yollick.

It's important for people to read their protection before they buy a home to understand: If I buy a freehold home, I am protected up to $40,000, so what does that mean?" Ms. Yollick added.

Urbancorp's financial problems have also highlighted the steep cost to consumers of lengthy construction delays - which have required some homeowners to pay rent to Urbancorp for years before they were allowed to finally close on the purchase of their homes, while others have waited nearly five years to move into their properties.

Cate Beyleveldt and David Dubrovsky are among a group of 41 purchasers who lived in their east-end Riverdale townhomes for more than two years before they were finally able to close on their purchase and get title to their homes. That meant Urbancorp was able to charge them "occupancy fees" for years. Occupancy fees are similar to rent, essentially allowing developers to charge buyers fees to live in homes that are still legally owned by the developer.

In Mr. Dubrovsky's case, he paid roughly $55,000 in occupancy fees to Urbancorp before finally being able to close on his home purchase, as did many of his neighbours.

The process is known as "interim occupancy" and is typical in new large-scale condos, where owners on lower floors are often allowed to move in before workers have put the finishing touches on higher levels.

But it is rare for buyers of new single-family homes and other freehold construction to spend years in interim occupancy, since purchases typically close when each individual home is finished.

After August, when Urbancorp's plans to close on the Riverdale purchases were abruptly cancelled, the developer began to demand three months' worth of occupancy fees in advance.

The buyers say they also received little communication from Urbancorp, Tarion or city officials to explain the delay until they read on Tarion's website that the agency was proposing to revoke Urbancorp's warranty registration - even though Tarion had been in negotiation with Urbancorp for months.

People's life savings or retirement savings are being put into this home and they're at risk," Mr. Dubrovsky said.

There were a lot of people who knew or at least should have known for a developer of this size what was going on."

Early this year, with few options to negotiate collectively with Urbancorp as 41 individual homeowners, the group decided to create a formal neighbourhood association, hire a lawyer and finally push Urbancorp to close on their home purchases.

Urbancorp filed for court protection only hours later.

What protections are there in legislation for consumers who buy freehold as opposed to a condominium project?" asked Gary Caplan, the group's lawyer.

"Why isn't there some system in place to protect consumers?" Mr. Caplan has also been contacted by buyers in other Urbancorp projects that have yet to be built. "These poor consumers run the risk of losing their deposits or parts of them," he said.

"They're in a difficult position and they have to decide what their legal remedies are."

Elaine Quinn spent tens of thousands on storage fees and short-term accommodations while her family moved from home to home waiting for years for Urbancorp to finish their Leslieville townhouse. It was originally due to be completed in 2013, but remains unfinished.

The most the couple can recoup under Tarion's warranty for delay compensation is $7,500.

Increasing warranty coverage or forcing developers to insure deposits or place them in trust would require a legislative change to the rules governing the new-home construction industry, Ms. Yollick said.

The province is in the midst of examining the rules governing the new-home market. It has appointed former Superior Court associate chief justice J. Douglas Cunningham to conduct an independent review of Tarion and its new-home-warranty legislation.

Anne-Marie Flanagan, Minister of Government and Consumer Services spokeswoman, said the review can make recommendations on a broad scope of consumer protection rules.

Justice Cunningham could look into deposit protection as part of his recommendations on improving consumer protection, but since this is an independent review, we anticipate receiving the final report in the fall 2016," she wrote in an e-mail.

NDP MPP Catherine Fife, who has pushed for changes to the current consumer-protection legislation, including the practice of interim occupancy, described the province's actions as too little too late. "The failure of the Liberal government to enact substantive reform of Tarion continues to leave citizens at risk," she said in an e-mail.

In an e-mailed statement, Urbancorp said it is "working to find ways to advance all of its projects to completion" and expects to either give buyers their homes or refund their deposits.

For purchasers in Urbancorp's Riverdale complex, the yearslong struggle has a silver lining.

"We've gotten to form a community that is quite tight-knit," Mr. Dubrovsky said. "People know each other and work together and that's kind of special to have those connections."

Associated Graphic

An Urbancorp townhouse development in Toronto's east end has been in limbo since construction halted last year. Nine Urbancorp subsidiaries have now filed for court protection.


Tape reveals plot to stifle bribery probe
Senator that took power after President Rousseff was pushed out has announced he will take leave from cabinet job
Tuesday, May 24, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A11

RIO DE JANEIRO -- A Brazilian senator who had a key role in the drive to oust President Dilma Rousseff has been caught in a secret recording in which he appears to say impeaching her is the best way to shut down a high-profile corruption probe. The conversation, recorded in March as a first impeachment vote loomed, was made public on Monday and created fresh political turmoil in Brazil.

In the recording, Senator Romero Juca, a key member of the new government that took power after Ms. Rousseff was pushed out, seems to tell a colleague that all those being investigated, including the two of them, need to advance a "political action" to ensure the impeachment. He says that will allow them to "staunch the bleeding" caused by the Lava Jato probe, in which dozens of top political figures have been indicted or are under investigation for accepting what prosecutors say are more than $2-billion (U.S.) in bribes. And he says he has talked to senior military officials and to Supreme Court justices who back a "pact" to shut down the probe.

The origin of the recording is unclear. Its existence was made public Monday morning by the newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo, and Mr. Juca confirmed its authenticity in a midday news conference in which he defended his actions, saying Folha had only released extracts that took its meaning out of context. But four hours later, he announced he would take leave from his cabinet job until prosecutors ruled he had committed no criminal offence. The recording may have been leaked by prosecutors worried that the new government is succeeding in the sort of plan Mr. Juca is heard describing, to shut down the probe, known by its police code name Lava Jato.

Monday's bombshell adds new fuel to Brazil's months-long political crisis, and comes as the economy is in free fall, the Zika virus is spreading and the Olympics are due to begin in less than three months.

On May 12, Brazil's Senate voted to put Ms. Rousseff on trial for violating a federal budgetary law, forcing her to step down for up to six months. She was replaced by her vice-president, Michel Temer, who in his first 10 days of power has announced a range of policy decisions that are decidedly more right-leaning than were those of Ms. Rousseff's elected government.

Supporters of Ms. Rousseff, who have argued all along that the effort to oust her had little or nothing to do with her budgeting practices, say the tape is evidence of a putsch. "This only confirms what we have been talking about for some time: it confirms the coup against Dilma," said Paulo Rocha, the Senate leader for her Workers' Party.

In what Folha says is a 75-minute recording, Mr. Juca is heard speaking with Sergio Machado, a former executive with the national energy company Petrobras, which is at the heart of the graft scandal. (The newspaper has released only two chunks of audio.)

The conversation in the released Folha transcripts alludes to a web of relationships and blurring of lines between Brazil's key institutions of power. Mr. Juca appears to suggest that he has discussed the plan to remove Ms. Rousseff and then stop Lava Jato with senior military and judiciary figures: "I am talking to the generals, the military commanders. They are fine with this, they said they will guarantee it ..." He then seems to suggest that the Supreme Court justices with whom he has spoken have said it is impossible to stop the probe as long as the unpopular Ms. Rousseff is president, that public scrutiny will not permit it.

Then the senator appears to say he is in regular contact with several of the justices, but laments that he can't get to Teori Zavascki, who is in charge of Lava Jato cases at the top court, saying, "he's a closed guy."

The revelations present a challenge for acting President Temer, who was counting on Mr. Juca, an experienced politician with a wide range of relationships in Congress, to ensure passage of the fiscal austerity plan he has pledged in an effort to revive Brazil's economy.

As Planning Minister, Mr. Juca is in charge of overseeing the budget and was to lead conversations with members of Congress to vote this week on a new fiscal target for 2016.

Already Mr. Temer has faced sharp criticism for appointing an all-white, all-male cabinet; for unilaterally eliminating ministries; and for comments by his new ministers questioning the viability of the national health system.

He appointed as his government leader in the lower house a member of Congress, Andre Moura, who faces charges not only of corruption but also of attempted murder.

Speaking to reporters after the release of the recording, Mr. Juca was at pains to reinforce his support for Lava Jato.

"There isn't the tiniest chance of any interference of the executive power in any sort of investigation," he said.

"... I've always said that I consider the Lava Jato operation a positive change in Brazilian politics, a paradigm change for the relationship between political parties, candidates and companies that finance political campaigns."

But supporters of Lava Jato - which is hugely popular with a Brazilian public revolted by the large-scale swindle - took it as an ominous sign when Mr. Temer appointed seven cabinet ministers who are under investigation or named in the probe.

The acting President himself has been named in plea-bargain testimony.

Ms. Rousseff, in contrast, faces no accusations of personal enrichment, although one witness has said she attempted to obstruct prosecutors who are investigating allies.

The reported contents of the tape give an indication of the fraught atmosphere behind closed doors in Brasilia. When Mr. Machado suggests a strategy meeting with the Senate president and a major party leader, Mr. Juca says they can't meet because none of them can be seen together.

And in a vivid turn of phrase, Mr. Juca says some senior politician must be sacrificed to Lava Jato so others avoid it: "There has to be a cow thrown to the piranhas: Let them get someone, and then we pass by and resolve it, get to the other side of the river."

In the Folha transcript, the former Petrobras executive makes what Folha called "a veiled threat" and asks Mr. Juca to ensure he doesn't end up in that position.

Mr. Juca agrees they must avoid a case ending up in the courtroom of Lava Jato's crusading judge Sergio Moro.

He compares it to "the Tower of London," where people were sent to be tortured until they confessed.

While Mr. Juca is on leave from his job, he continues to sit as a senator.

The interim planning minister will be his deputy, Dyogo Oliveira, who is being investigated in another corruption probe.

Associated Graphic

Brazil's Planning Minister, Romero Juca, attends a news conference in Brasilia on Monday.


The secrets of one of China's darkest eras
The 50th anniversary of the Cultural Revolution will get scant public mention, but intrepid researchers fight to bring horrors to light
Monday, May 16, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A4

BEIJING -- Students tortured teachers and beat them to death. Workers attacked one another with screwdrivers devised into spears. Temples and libraries were razed.

Millions of people were banished to the countryside for "re-education."

The turbulence and viciousness of China's Cultural Revolution began 50 years ago, on May 16, 1966, with a Politburo decision to create a Cultural Revolution Group that would oppose "counter-revolutionary revisionists" and create a final rupture with the old ways of the capitalist past.

Two weeks later, a People's Daily editorial called for an attack on the bourgeoisie. "Sweep away all monsters and demons!," the state newspaper urged.

The directive launched years of social disorder, factional warfare and even cannibalism. In total, between 1.5 million and two million people died, historians estimate.

But unlike the calamities perpetrated by Stalin, Pol Pot, Franco and Hitler, the regime responsible for the Cultural Revolution remains in power. The 50th anniversary will barely be discussed in public. The Communist Party has largely maintained a historical blackout, in hopes of suppressing the blemish on its legacy. "Researchers cannot accept any interviews related to the Cultural Revolution," one Chinese academic said this weekend.

That has presented a unique challenge to those documenting the Cultural Revolution - which is why the package sent to Song Yongyi 16 years ago, containing classified military plans in the city of Tianjin in the late 1960s, was so exceptional.

A Chinese-born librarian at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, Prof. Song had only months before been released from his home country, where authorities had detained him on suspicion of smuggling secret documents. He had been on a quest to collect material on the Cultural Revolution, scouring archives and flea markets for copies of Red Guard newspapers. He wanted to compile a full record of the propaganda used to stoke tumult that, in some places, rendered indistinct the line between human and animal.

His time in detention looked as if it would permanently end that quest. Instead, it gave him a global profile as someone determined to reveal the secrets of one of modern China's darkest hours.

The package that he received from a Chinese high school teacher became the first of many he would acquire in the years that followed, placing him at the forefront of a small band of researchers who have dug for documents in garbage dumps, archives, private collections and blogs. They have accepted information from unannounced visitors, spent long hours digging through archival documents and sought out personal accounts of hardship.

In the process, they have brought to light a stunningly detailed account of what happened during the Cultural Revolution, when Mao Zedong subverted normal societal order, orchestrating a mass lawlessness that saw factory workers imprison bosses and students torture teachers with boiling water and nail-spiked clubs.

One of Prof. Song's signal achievements will emerge next month, when he begins the republication, in e-book form, of a 36-volume secret report on the Cultural Revolution in the country's southern Guangxi province.

Among the most startling revelations in its 13,000 pages is the cannibalism it documents.

Whipped into a fury by the chaos of the times, Red Guards - groups of youth dedicated to removing enemies through violent class struggle - and others feasted on the hearts, livers, penises and breasts of people deemed "class enemies." In total, 421 were eaten in at least 31 provincial counties, Prof. Song said.

So there was a cannibalism mass movement in the remote countryside."

Only now, 50 years after the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, has the account of that period been assembled in a form that anyone can read.

The report forms "the most important information on the Cultural Revolution that exists today," said Jean Hung, who from 1988 to 2007 oversaw collection development at the Universities Service Centre of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

If modern China has sought to suppress history, then, it has failed. Academics who study Soviet times, as one example, "tell me that the USSR was never so open about their dark historical past as China has been," said Andrew Walder, a Stanford political sociologist who has written extensively on the Mao era. That is, in part, due to efforts by elements inside China's Communist Party itself to internally document the ugliness Mao perpetrated.

Far more information, however, remains locked away in Chinese archives, compiled by a one-party state with a "desire to tease out information about everything and everybody - and an attempt also, clearly, to keep all of this secret," said Frank Dikotter, a historian at the University of Hong Kong who wrote The Cultural Revolution: A People's History.

To research his book, Prof.

Dikotter spent six months in Chinese archives.

Even mundane economic reports revealed the scale of dislocation beginning in 1966, as reverence for Mao grew feverish while people attacked and killed each other in efforts to wipe out "capitalist roaders."

Toymakers curbed output as plastic became needed, instead, to make glossy covers for the Little Red Book. Factories churned out 50 million Mao badges a month, but still struggled to keep up with extraordinary demand for wearable images of the leader.

So much aluminum was diverted to those badges that by 1969, Mao himself had to step in, demanding "give me back my airplanes."

In Beijing, meanwhile, students killed dozens of teachers in a battle against "capitalist intellectuals." Roughly one in 100 teachers died by suicide. Details of their deaths emerged from extensive research by Youqin Wang, the Chinese language program director at the University of Chicago, who has compiled them on a website called the Chinese Holocaust Memorial.

Two other massive online Cultural Revolution repositories have also been built: an Internetconnected database of roughly 40,000 documents that Prof.

Song helped to create, and another website run by University of Toronto researcher Yiching Wu that contains more than 10,000 texts and articles. Many of them are personal stories collected from online posts by Prof. Wu who preserves them from censorship in China.

The sheer volume of available documents stands as a testament to the ingenuity of those dedicated to revealing what happened.

Still, where the Chinese Communist Party has been unable to block preservation efforts it has succeeded in halting discussion.

Inside China, few are willing to write on the Cultural Revolution, knowing their work won't be published. Outside China, the number of researchers working on the period can be mostly counted on two hands.

Ms. Hung compares that to the Holocaust, which is the subject of entire libraries. The Cultural Revolution may have killed fewer people than Nazi Germany. But it scarred many more.

The Cultural Revolution, my goodness, lasted for 10 years. ... Almost every single family was impacted."

Associated Graphic

Red Guard students wave copies of Mao Zedong's Little Red Book as they march through Beijing in June, 1966.


Amazon biting into legacy retailers' lunch
Don't be fooled by rock-bottom price-to-earnings ratios at the brick-and-mortar chains as apparel sales increasingly happen online
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, May 14, 2016 – Print Edition, Page B8

Inside the Market

Investors were surprised this week, unpleasantly so, at the trouble in the U.S. retail sector. Macy's Inc., Nordstrom Inc. and Kohl's Corp. reported their worst sales numbers since the 2009 recession as part of deeply disappointing earnings reports. Macy's and Nordstrom sharply cut their 2016 outlooks. J.C. Penney Co. Friday reported firstquarter sales well below analyst expectations.

Unfortunately, the companies themselves seemed to be caught unawares, as well. "We're, frankly, scratching our heads," Macy's chief financial officer Karen Hoguet told investors on her company's call when asked to sort out the fundamental and economic forces that are causing the decline.

"We see the same economic data you all see and it would point to a customer that would be spending more ... I'm not sure, but I would say that we, too, are somewhat puzzled by the data that we are seeing on the consumer and the traffic we're seeing in the stores and on the sites."

And all this hand-wringing from the department stores comes as the U.S. Commerce Department said Friday that retail sales rose 1.3 per cent in April, the largest gain since March, 2015, as Americans bought more cars and other goods.

Core retail sales - which exclude cars, gas, building materials and food services - was up 0.9 per cent last month, higher than what analysts had expected. Online retail sales jumped 2.1 per cent, the largest gain since June, 2014.

Many observers suggest the department stores' numbers reveal an economy that's not as strong as people think, with tired consumers closing their wallets.

There's another huge factor, though, that the stores' executives were unable or unwilling to identify by name.

Amazon Inc. Amazon's rise is not a secret, of course, as the company has moved past a "show-me" period of minimal profits and investor skepticism, and is increasingly becoming the dominant online retailer - as well as the world's largest cloud computing company.

One analyst this week said the shares, currently trading at $710.22 (U.S.), could hit $1,000 within the next 12 months.

What is not as well known, however, is that Amazon, first a seller of books, movies and electronics, is on track to become the biggest apparel retailer in the United States - perhaps as early as next year. And they're rapidly taking those sales away from traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers. Department stores such as Macy's that led the category for so long are particularly vulnerable, but other mid-priced apparel retailers including The Gap (which also released poor sales numbers) are feeling the effects as well.

This is a structural shift, not a cyclical, economic one. Investors may see the rock-bottom priceto-earnings ratios of traditional retailers and think it's a buying opportunity that will pay off if consumers spend more. They will lose, however, once they realize consumers are already spending more - at Amazon.

Certainly, analysts who cover the traditional retail sector are aware of the threats - and opportunities - that online retailing presents.

While it's clear that Amazon has taken sales away from retailers in multiple industries, however, the exact figures are a matter of speculation and prognostication, as the giant lumps together most of its revenue in a segment called "electronics and other general merchandise" that represents 80 per cent of its e-commerce revenue.

Some firms have gathered their online and traditional retail analysts together to look at the matter, and the result, in a couple of cases, is a bullish thesis on Amazon and a great deal of caution on legacy retail.

One example: Cowen and Co. LLC, which published a July, 2015, report, "The Emperor has a Large Wardrobe," that predicted Amazon would become the No. 1 U.S. apparel retailer by 2017.

Cowen uses its own proprietary survey of "purchasers" (or customers) and determined its apparel numbers were skyrocketing as Amazon had more than 19 million apparel products for sale at the time.

Amazon's stellar first-quarter earnings, reported last month, combined with Macy's dismal report on Wednesday makes the Cowen analysts "more confident" in their thesis. They estimate Amazon's U.S. apparel business will grow from $16-billion in gross merchandise value (products sold both by Amazon and by the third-party sellers on the site) to $52-billion in 2020.

This implies a gain in U.S. apparel and accessories market share from 5 per cent to 14 per cent over the five years, they say. (Cowen's Amazon price target is $830.)

The analyst team at Morgan Stanley says that part of Amazon's recent success is that it's becoming "more fashionable" in its product offerings. "We believe we are still in the early innings of Amazon's apparel 'land-grab,' given its growing focus on fashion/high-end apparel," the analysts wrote this week.

Morgan Stanley's own consumer survey found 20 per cent of U.S. consumers are "frequently" buying clothes on Amazon, with shoppers buying a wide range of items. The survey said "over 40 per cent of consumers

(and 35 per cent of women) now view Amazon as an 'excellent' or 'great' source of fashion inspiration."

This, says the Morgan Stanley analysts, risks accelerating department stores' sales decline.

Based on Euromonitor and U.S. government retail sales data, they say, Internet retailers, led by Amazon, have added $27.8-billion to their apparel revenue since 2005, while department stores have lost $29.6billion.

"We expect total department store revenue declines to accelerate from minus 6.5 per cent annually over the past 10 years to a minus 8.5 per cent [annual rate] through 2020. We forecast department stores will comprise just [about] 7 per cent of the total U.S. apparel market in 2020 versus [about] 26 per cent in 2005 and [about] 11 per cent today."

Amazon's momentum is not believed to be as great in Canada, but that may not matter as much to Canadian investors.

Hudson's Bay Co. has nearly as much square footage in the United States and in Europe as it does in Canada, thanks to acquisitions. Its shares suffered this week along with U.S. peers, falling below $15 (Canadian) for the first time since mid-February.

This week's toll, with Macy's, Kohl's and Nordstrom all down from 14 per cent to as much as 19 per cent, has placed retail stocks in what seems like a bargain bin.

Beware: This could be the beginning of a closeout.

Amazon (AMZN) Close: $709.92 (U.S.), down $8.01 Kohl's (KSS) Close: $35.74 (U.S.), up 59¢ Macy's (M) Close: $31.22 (U.S.), up 1¢ Nordstrom (JWN) Close: $39.16 (U.S.), down $6.07

Associated Graphic


Expedia sets sail with new office design
The travel company's airy, open-concept space has nautical touches. But the design and details are more than a pretty hull - they're part of a larger strategy to create a healthy workplace
Special to The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, May 24, 2016 – Print Edition, Page B6

If you can shift your eyes away from the jaw-dropping view of the water and mountains from Expedia's sleek new office space in Vancouver, you'll notice in the reception area nods to all things nautical: a sliding door that resembles the side of a shipping container, the front desk shaped like the bow of a boat.

Wander through the office's eighth and ninth floors and you'll see porthole windows on interior walls and signage made from rope cleats. Those seafaring references morph from one side of the office to the other into design details inspired by land: faux "living" grassy walls, wood detailing, and walls emblazoned with markings derived from topographical maps.

The decor is meant to represent both Vancouver's incredible geography and also Expedia's branding, the office housing three of the growing company's groups: Expedia CruiseShipCenters, Expedia Lodging, and Expedia Worldwide Engineering.

The uncluttered 28,500-squarefoot-space is worthy of a spread in Architectural Digest, but there's more to its contemporary design than visual appeal.

There's science behind workplace set-up, with designers weaving in all sorts of elements to make a corporate setting not just beautiful but also functional and motivating.

At Expedia Vancouver, some of those elements include glass walls and an open office plan where everyone gets a view, with work stations, phone rooms, "huddle" areas, and the funky, expansive lunch room (which is adorned with ships' rope) all windowside.

"All the meeting rooms are glass to represent transparency," says Matthew Eichhorst, president of Expedia CruiseShipCenters. "There are no secret meetings. Traditional offices had quite a few private offices [lining the outside walls] - that old school, hierarchical thing - but Expedia wanted more of an open plan. It brings more light into the floor, and we wanted to create very bright spaces for people. It also gets people talking to each other a lot more.

We're all trying to do the same thing here."

Collaboration and communication are facilitated via glassenclosed breakout rooms for brainstorming sessions and by whiteboards that employees are encouraged to write on (even if it's to simply doodle or jot down inspirational quotes).

Research has started looking at how design can affect people's moods and well-being, with scientists discovering how everything from ceiling height to background colours can influence how we think and work.

A 2010 study into the effects of the physical work environment on physiological measures of stress, for instance, conducted by Ohio State University and the National Institute of Mental Health, tracked 60 white-collar workers at a government facility in the central United States for 17 months. Some were randomly assigned to an old office building, with low ceilings and loud air-conditioners, while the rest got to work in a recently renovated space filled with skylights and open cubicles. Scientists discovered that people subjected to the older building were significantly more stressed, even when they weren't at work, so much so that they could be at increased risk for heart disease.

Even a workplace's wall colours can affect creativity and productivity. Researchers at the University of British Columbia tracked more than 600 people's performance on six cognitive tasks that required either detailorientation or creativity for a 2009 study. Red boosted performance on detail-oriented tasks such as proofreading, while blue environmental cues prompted participants to produce more creative outputs.

"Our ultimate goal is to try and inspire people," says interior designer Gracie Andraos, associate at Gensler in Dallas and team lead for Expedia Vancouver's office design. "This isn't just about creating a pretty space; it needs to go deeper than that.

The workplace environment is becoming more and more important; we're in the office for a good part of our week. We see these people more than our family sometimes. More and more companies want to create a culture where people feel comfortable."

Vancouver interior designer Jennifer Hamilton, partner at Square One Interiors Inc. (SQ1), says a focus on health and wellness is at the top of the list of current trends in workplace design, with employers driven in part by a desire to gain a competitive edge by attracting and retaining excellent talent.

"Promoting health and wellbeing results in employees who are more engaged, meaning that when they show up to work they are actively there, giving their all, fulfilling their true potential, and doing their best," Ms. Hamilton says.

There are some overt ways to improve employee health, she notes, such as efforts to overcome the effects of being stationary all day.

"A fairly overused saying now is that, 'Sitting is the new smoking.' Physical examples of overcoming this are promoting movement and activity, which promotes connectedness between employees," Ms. Hamilton explains. "This often involves sitstand workstations, with desks that the user can adjust the height on with a touch of a button. Internal convenience stairs are often incorporated to encourage staff taking stairs between floors rather than the elevator. Providing only one place in an organization where staff can get coffee makes people get up and move and creates impromptu opportunities for collaboration."

The shift from an independent working style (think shut-door offices) to a more collaborative approach is another dominant theme in workplace design, as seen at Expedia Vancouver, with its multiple meeting rooms of varying sizes, all outfitted with videoconferencing technology.

"At the Facebook headquarters, for example, employees have the ability to customize the layout, height and configuration of their own desks based on personal preference," says Russell Devenish, chief executive officer of TruSpace, which specializes in office design. "Teams can also create the workspace layout that best supports the project they are working on. Grouping desks or making a long row of desks, for example. This ability to allow employees to control their own space has been shown to increase motivation and productivity.

"As a new, younger work force starts to enter the workplace, the breakout space is becoming an increasingly important area of good office design," he adds.

"The goal of a well-utilized breakout space is to create a truly multifunctional area that can be used in a wide variety of ways."

Strong corporate branding is also reinforced in more workplaces. Ms. Hamilton cautions that too much emphasis on a theme can look gimmicky and quickly become dated.

"People are drawn to beauty, and if a place is beautiful, it will have longevity, which is an ultimate goal in sustainability," Ms.

Hamilton notes. "If employees feel good in their workplace, productivity goes up."

Associated Graphic

Marine details pop up thoughout Expedia's new 28,500-square-foot Vancouver office, whether it's portholes for meeting rooms or the ocean colours and rope in the funky lunch room. The openness and clear panels are meant to convey a sense of corporate transparency.


A new raft of mattress makers is changing the way we shop, Anya Georgijevic writes, by making online ordering, front-door delivery and a one-style-fits-all philosophy the new (less exhausting) standard
Thursday, May 19, 2016 – Print Edition, Page L1

On the fourth floor of the historic Burroughes Building on Toronto's Queen Street West sits the smallest mattress showroom you can imagine. At 200 square feet, it's the antithesis to big-box stores with dozens of options on display.

This white brick-clad showroom, Endy's, selling just one style of mattress, looks like the kind of warehouse a guest character on Girls would live in. The Torontobased startup entered the rising, already competitive direct-to-consumer bed-in-abox online market a year ago with its eyes set on the coveted, tech-savvy consumer.

"It's the same generation that's using Uber and Airbnb. It comes down to convenience, being able to shop online and compare different options," co-founder and CEO Mike Gettis says.

What this means for the industry is that the old-fashioned way of marketing mattresses - think of those Sleep Country Canada ads with people being interviewed on beds - won't work any more. Enter the hipster mattress, a bed in a box with celebrity buzz and strong social-media presence.

Endy trumpets its Canadian manufacturing, which Gettis credits as a factor in keeping low costs on a high-quality product, saving by streamlining their production chain and by eliminating the wholesaler and the retailer. "Plus, with the state of the Canadian dollar, it's more economical to produce stuff here," he says.

Endy's memory-foam mattress ranges from $650 for the twin size to $850 for the king, making it among the more affordable options on the market.

Endy's photogenic, compact white-andblue box comes Instagram-ready, printed with the hashtag #lovesleep. Their socialmedia strategy plays a significant factor in reaching the target market, with select influencers and bloggers posting pics of the mattress in hip Kinfolk-y homes. Endy recently introduced hipster-approved bike delivery in the Toronto area, following in the footsteps of Casper, their well-established American counterpart.

New York-based Casper had buzz from the beginning, helped along by celebrity investors Ashton Kutcher and Leonardo DiCaprio. It launched in 2014 with a one-style-fits-all mattress in a slick sailor-striped box that has made cameos on celebrity Instagram accounts, including Kylie Jenner's as well as that of indie darling, Girls actress Gillian Jacobs. Like Endy, Casper comes with an affordable price tag, with the king size priced at $950 (U.S.).

Last December, Casper took part in Art Basel Miami, collaborating with artist Colin Snapp and Master & Dynamic headphones on Quiet Rooms, a series of safari tents outfitted with Casper mattresses and bedding that exhibition-goers were invited into for a quick rest.

Sleep has become a hot topic as recent reports have identified that a greater number of young professionals are suffering from sleep disorders. In the 2015 Newsweek cover story titled Our Sleep Problem and What to Do About It, author Betsy Isaacson attributes the millennial sleep issues to the changing economy and work culture. She cites the findings from the 2014 Millennial Study conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Wells Fargo, which reports that 40 per cent of young people in America hold non-permanent positions at their places of work. Isaacson's article suggests that smartphone dependence and constant connectivity is a significant factor in the quality of sleep.

To address the sleep epidemic, Casper also launched an online sleep-wellness site, Van Winkle's.

They aren't alone in targeting this generation's sleeplessness: Ariana Huffington has embarked on a college tour to promote her new book, The Sleep Revolution, in which she describes the millennial generation as the most stressed and sleepdeprived. Even Hastens, a luxury mattress giant, is jumping to reach the fatigued demographic by collaborating with Spotify on a series of sleep-aid playlists. If you're under 35, you may also find sleep on offer at work.

Cool/hipster workplaces are now offering nap rooms, says Andrea Baxter, founder of Bratface Marketing. "Having a 15- to 30-minute power nap in the middle of the day is becoming more prevalent."

Casper's aspirational marketing has also managed to imbue a product in the "economy" category with cachet. For proof, see the hundreds of "unboxing" vidoes on YouTube and socialmedia channels. The mattress, which is vacuum-packed into a compact metre-tall box, expands to its full size within minutes of its release. "It becomes kind of an iconic moment when you buy your Casper mattress," says Nicole Tapscott, the company's general manager for Canada.

In some ways, the bed-in-abox was just waiting to happen.

Edmonton-based Novosbed was an early pioneer and paved the way for companies such as Endy and Casper. Andy Prochazka and his twin brother, Sam, launched Novosbed in 2009, offering three different mattress options: firm, medium and soft.

Geared at Generation X, they offered a generous 100-plus-day return policy, a far cry from the traditional way of sampling a mattresses while fully clothed and wide awake in a big-box store. That policy made their product a low-risk investment, resonating with the early online mattress buyers and set the precedent for other companies, including Casper and Endy.

"Casper really blew the market open to a younger buying demographic in 2014," Andy Prochazka says. Novosbed actually benefited from Casper's launch, gaining costumers who were looking for a higher-end option that could be easily ordered and delivered to their door. By his count, at least 27 similar bed-ina-box businesses such as Leesa, Yogabed and Tuft & Needle have rolled out since.

Prochazka also points out that traditional mattress brands have been trying to catch up with the boxed trend, with Mattress Firm's Dream Bed and Tempur Sealy's Cacoon. They look just as hip, but lack the cool factor of a startup company. "It feels disingenuous," says Prochazka.

The demand for straight-toconsumer product sees no signs of slowing down. The online customer satisfaction reviews of Novosbed, Casper and Endy rank high, with few returns (which are usually donated to their respective charities).

According to Gettis, just a couple of years ago "online sales made for about 2 per cent of the mattress market, and it's grown to about 5 per cent."

Thanks to an exhausted generation of young people, that's projected to grow, "to between 15 and 20 per cent in the next two to three years."

Associated Graphic


Mattress startup Casper has created buzz from its beginning with a one-style-fits-all mattress that arrives neatly boxed, sometimes delivered via bicycle. The company's success has been helped along by celebrity endorsements from stars such as Ashton Kutcher and Leonardo DiCaprio. Endy, meanwhile, trumpets its Canadian manufacturing, which its CEO credits as a factor in keeping costs low on a high-quality product.


Brazil's new leader is little known, less liked
Acting president Temer is known as a deft deal maker who has cultivated the malleability to thrive in a range of environments
Saturday, May 14, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A15

Stop a Brazilian in the street and ask them to tell you something about the new President: Most will pause. If they know anything personal about Michel Temer, it will almost certainly concern his wife, a smalltown beauty queen 42 years his junior. Perhaps the fact that he dresses like a butler. Maybe that he writes poetry.

Beyond that, they will struggle, for Mr. Temer has been a powerful figure in politics in this country for decades, but he has kept mostly to the long, dark hallways of Congress in Brasilia.

"He is not the folksy kind. He is not the guy who campaigns by going to eat potato salad in people's homes," said Homar Cais, a former federal appeals court chief justice who went to law school with Mr. Temer more than 50 years ago and who remains a close friend. "He has another style of doing politics: more refined."

Refined, perhaps; certainly skilled: Mr. Temer is known as a deft deal maker who listens more than he talks. Over the years, he has been tapped to quell prison riots, student revolts and occupations by homeless people.

In the estimation of those who know him well, he is the ideal man for this fraught moment in Brazil.

"He is a natural conciliator, he has amazing skills - so important in this moment of turmoil," said Adilson Dallari, another college friend who practised law with Mr. Temer. "He will work to unite people."

Mr. Temer, 75, became acting president on Thursday morning after the Senate voted to open a trial of Dilma Rousseff, the elected leader, on grounds she violated federal budgetary laws.

The Senate will now conduct a trial for up to 180 days, in which she must stand aside; the strength of the vote against her (55-22) suggests she is unlikely to return to the office.

Yet, it is not clear Mr. Temer will serve out her term. There is also an impeachment case against him before the lower house of Congress on the charge that, as Ms. Rousseff's vice-president, he must also be held responsible for any charge for which she is convicted. He has also been named in pleabargain testimony by witnesses in the giant Lava Jato corruption scandal and is subject to investigation for those allegations.

At most, Mr. Temer can serve to the end of 2018; an electoral court ruled last week that he had violated campaign-finance laws in the past election and barred him from running for office for eight years.

Mr. Temer is the third vicepresident to assume power without an election since the return to democracy in 1985, and all have been from Mr. Temer's Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (known by its Portuguese acronym PMDB). He has headed the party for 15 years. It is Brazil's largest, divided into factions from different parts of the country and it has no real ideological platform other than obtaining power.

The PMDB has previously entered alliances with right-wing parties, but was the largest part of Ms. Rousseff's leftist coalition.

As a politician, Mr. Temer has cultivated the malleability and negotiating skills to thrive in a range of environments.

Mr. Cais said Mr. Temer was political from their student days, and characterized him as "a Christian democrat."

"He has Christianity and democracy as his dogmas," Mr. Cais said.

He insisted that his friend never had the ambition to be president and was always content with a backroom role, but in recent weeks Mr. Temer has begun to seem a master tactician. He was twice Ms. Rousseff's running mate, but the two were never close.

And in early April, Mr. Temer distributed a 13-minute audio recording on WhatsApp of a speech he might make should he become president. He said it was an accident, but the speech contained promises and platforms that served to make a potential Temer administration appealing to a range of constituencies.

For Ms. Rousseff's defenders, the moment was the falling away of the traitor's mask.

Humberto Costa, a Workers' Party senator, called Mr. Temer the "conspirator-general" and said he had turned the vicepresidential residence "into a market stall at which he negotiated positions and favours to overthrow Dilma for the chair she conquered through the sovereign will of the Brazilian people."

The cabinet Mr. Temer has now assembled contains figures from a range of political parties and powerful influence blocs, including the wealthy agribusiness sector and evangelical Christians.

The cabinet does not, however, contain any women - for the first time since 1979. There was a distinct paucity of women when Mr. Temer introduced his new government; among those absent was his wife, Marcela Temer. The pair reportedly met when she was 19; her mother, who is younger than Mr. Temer, accompanied them on their first date. Ms. Temer studied law, but has never worked as a lawyer, and married Mr. Temer when she was 20.

They have one young child together; his other four children, from one of two earlier marriages, are older than his wife. She had his name tattooed on her neck before they were married.

Ms. Temer was recently the subject of a glowing profile in the right-wing magazine Veja, which put her on the cover with the tag line "Pretty, demure and at home." That prompted a hashtag and a stringent response from many Brazilian women.

The acting president is the author of a book of verses, called Anonymous Intimacy, said to have been inspired by Ms. Temer. He says he wrote the poems on airplane napkins while commuting between Brasilia and Sao Paulo.

The poetry did not charm literary critics. Manuel da Costa Pinto, writing in the newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo last month, remarked that pro-Rousseff protesters targeting Mr. Temer for political reasons didn't know the half of it: "If they were familiar with the content of Temer's work, maybe they would protest about other issues, for aesthetic reasons, if not ethical ones."

Mr. Temer is the youngest of eight children of immigrants from Lebanon who arrived in Brazil in the 1920s. He favours expensive dark suits, plain shirts and a neutral facial expression; in 1999, another member of Congress snarled, in a heated debate, "I'm not impressed by his pose as the horror-movie butler."

Mr. Temer takes office little known and less liked. In a survey in early April by the polling firm Datafolha, just 2 per cent of Brazilians said they would vote for him in the next election (which, in any case, they can't, now that he has been barred, and 58 per cent said he, too, should be impeached).

Associated Graphic

Michel Temer, seen in 2014, is barred from running for office for eight years after breaching campaign-finance laws.


'Some of them pray, some of them don't pray. But all of them kill'
Thursday, May 19, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A11

MAIDUGURI, NIGERIA -- Clutching her daughter tightly to her chest, Zarah Ali leans close to the visitor and whispers her story.

She doesn't want the nearby camp guard to hear. If he learns that her 22-month-old daughter was fathered by a Boko Haram fighter, the gossip could sweep across the refugee camp, bringing her the stigma and ostracism that afflicts many women who were forced into "marriage" with the Islamist radicals.

Ms. Ali, the 20-year-old daughter of a Muslim farming family in northeastern Nigeria, knows more about Boko Haram than most. She was its captive - twice.

She escaped once, fled across the border to Cameroon and was captured again.

She spent months under Boko Haram's control. And despite the group's Islamist ideology and its claims of allegiance to the Islamic State movement, she scoffs at its professions of faith.

"Some of them pray, some of them don't pray," she says. "But all of them kill."

In her months of captivity, she remembers how Boko Haram would gather the people of the occupied villages and preach to them about how to "slaughter" their enemies. In contrast to their religious pretenses, they often recruited followers with offers of money and threats of violence, she says.

"They are unbelievers and thieves," she says. "They kill Christians, but they also kill many Muslims. They kill people and take their property."

New studies of Boko Haram are confirming what Ms. Ali has witnessed. The group was founded by a charismatic Islamic preacher, but religious beliefs are no longer the driving force behind the group. Many of its followers today are instead motivated by economic factors or anti-government grievances.

Mercy Corps, a United Statesbased humanitarian aid agency, recently interviewed 47 former Boko Haram members in northeastern Nigeria. Its study gives fresh insight into the brutal militia that has killed and abducted thousands of people in Nigeria and neighbouring countries.

The influence of religion in Boko Haram has declined since 2009 as the group became increasingly violent, the study found. "What emerged from stories of former members is that little religious or ideological indoctrination occurred, at least on a systematic level," the study said. "The youth we spoke to left disillusioned, whether because the violent tactics were too extreme or because their personal expectations were not met."

Boko Haram exploited the "deeply held grievances" of many communities in northeastern Nigeria, where people felt powerless and excluded from the political system, it said. "About half of former members said their communities at some time supported Boko Haram, believing it would help bring about a change in government."

In one of its most cynical recruitment tactics, Boko Haram offers business loans to youths who have little hope of formal jobs. Frustrated by Nigeria's economic inequality, they accept the loans in the hope of establishing themselves as traders. But in many cases Boko Haram soon demands repayment, using it as leverage for recruitment.

"If there is no money, the youth is forced to join Boko Haram or be killed," the Mercy Corps study said. "The tactics practised by Boko Haram resembled organized criminal gangs and their practice of doling out favours, only to demand repayment at a high cost."

The survey found that about half of the former members had been "coerced or pressured to join" - often because they needed protection or immunity from the group's attacks. "Young men described complicated business relationships in which they felt compelled to start attending Boko Haram preaching, or listen to audio cassette tapes, because of pressures put on them by buyers of their product, or their bosses."

Another study, by Nigerian scholar Abdul Raufu Mustapha, found that Boko Haram had its early roots in Islamic doctrinal disputes and radicalization in the 1970s, but that other factors have become increasingly important for its followers: poverty, unemployment, Nigeria's unequal economy, the collapse of local governments and the chance for profits from robbery or kidnapping.

"The longer the violent insurgency has lasted, the further away it moves from its original doctrinal motivations, and the more its violence becomes routinized in everyday life," Prof. Mustapha wrote in a recent book, Sects and Social Disorder. "For the youth directly involved either forcibly or by choice, violence becomes a way of life ... more attractive to them than their previous marginalized, humdrum existence." A report by the International Crisis Group this month said Boko Haram is becoming "strikingly similar" to the Lord's Resistance Army, the Ugandan-born militia that - like Boko Haram - began with a "radical religionbased rejection of society" and deteriorated into "a roaming gang, surviving by plundering goods and people."

As it expanded into border regions, Boko Haram absorbed local networks of illicit traffickers and bandits - networks that lacked any religious agenda but instead exploited Boko Haram's name and notoriety, the report said.

"Current attacks seem to be less about military strategy than extracting resources and sending a violent message that it is surviving," the Brussels-based think tank said.

"Increasingly they are on targets that offer easy plunder, including young captives, many of whom are turned into 'wives' and child soldiers. ... The easy access to brides, via coercion or otherwise, that Boko Haram gives to young militants ... has probably been a major pull factor for the insurgency."

Ms. Ali was one of the many women forced into "marriage" after her village was invaded by Boko Haram. An insurgent warned her that he would kill her father if she refused his demand.

"You have to marry him, or else they will kill me and force you to marry him anyway," her father told her.

The militant disdainfully tossed them 2,000 naira ($13) as a bride price. "I never liked him," Ms. Ali said.

She was pregnant within three months, but the insurgent was killed in fighting shortly afterward. She fled the village and eventually crossed the border to Cameroon - but then Boko Haram invaded again, capturing the region and taking her to a Nigerian town. Months later, she escaped captivity during a gunfight when Nigerian soldiers advanced into the town.

In Cameroon, her Christian relatives had considered her a Boko Haram follower because of her baby. They told her to convert to Christianity, but she refused.

Today she lives with her daughter, Kellu, at the huge Dalori refugee camp in Maiduguri, where thousands of people have taken shelter from Boko Haram. She says she has escaped stigma because the other refugees assume she is a war widow, like so many others. A mother without a husband is normal here.

She says she never thinks about the circumstances of Kellu's birth or the girl's father. "She is a blessing from God."

Associated Graphic

Widows affected by the Boko Haram insurgency sit and wait to apply for a grant program on April 20.


Goalie struggled to shed 'second best' label
Back-up Habs netminder nevertheless won the Vezina Trophy twice and the Stanley Cup six times as a player
Special to The Globe and Mail
Thursday, May 19, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S7

The goaltender Charlie Hodge spent much of his hockey career as an understudy before becoming a castoff.

The diminutive goalie, whose hockey cards described him as the shortest player in the NHL, seemed unable to convince management of the Montreal Canadiens he was worthy of the No. 1 sweater he wore.

Despite doubts about his ability, the goalie managed to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup six times as a player. He also twice won the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goaltender.

The reward for his under-appreciated success was to be selected by the expansion Oakland Seals, a woeful club for whom he would see more rubber than a worker at a tire factory. Three seasons later, he was picked by another expansion team, the Vancouver Canucks, once again enduring the unenviable role of being the last defence on a roster staffed by rejects and discards.

Mr. Hodge, a long-time resident of the Vancouver suburb of Langley, died of heart failure on April 16 at Abbotsford Regional Hospital in suburban Vancouver. He was 82. He leaves his wife, Sheila; three sons; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Mr. Hodge had a long second career as a West Coast scout, known as a curmudgeonly figure at hockey rinks in British Columbia. In 2015, a plaque was placed on Seat 8, Row 1, Section 4 of the Pacific Coliseum, the arena that had once been his workplace and the home arena in recent years of the Vancouver Giants junior team. "Reserved for Charlie Hodge," the plaque reads, "Canucks Alumni and NHL scout."

While there was some playacting in his crusty demeanour, Mr. Hodge nursed ancient resentments. As a young man, he had great success as a paddler and looked forward to competing as a canoe racer at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, only to be rejected for losing his amateur status as a professional hockey player. The snub bothered him decades later.

"I'm still ticked off," he told Ian MacDonald of the Montreal Gazette in 2004. "What's the relationship between paddling and hockey?" Charles Edward Hodge was born in Lachine, a Montreal suburb, on July 28, 1933, to the former Jeanie Bridges and John McLean Hodge, a welder from Scotland. He made his debut in junior hockey at the age of 16 in 1950, losing two playoff games as a fill-in goalie for the Junior Canadiens, who went on to win the Memorial Cup championship.

After three seasons, he turned professional with the Cincinnati Mohawks in 1953-54, leading the International Hockey League with the lowest goals-against average.

Mr. Hodge got a 14-game tryout with the Canadiens the follow ing season. On Dec. 9, 1954, he blanked the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Montreal Forum for the first of his 24 regular-season NHL shutouts.

The 5-foot-6, 150-pound netminder had the misfortune of being the second best goaltender in a system in which the great Jacques Plante held top spot. After nine seasons of pro hockey, Mr. Hodge had played only 63 games in Montreal's famous red-white-and-blue sweater.

His long minor-league apprenticeship included stints with the Buffalo Bisons, Providence Reds, Seattle Americans, Shawinigan Cataracts, Montreal Royals, HullOttawa Canadiens and Quebec Aces.

Meanwhile, in summer, he wore the red-and-white, barber-pole striped singlet of the Lachine Racing Canoe Club. In 1955, he and partner Art (Herky) Jordan won the North American single blade tandem championship in a regatta at Rivière des Prairies, Que. The pair were also part of the goldmedal-winning foursome in the kilometre paddle. Mr. Hodges dream to compete at the Olympics in Australia was thwarted by officials.

The Canadiens traded Mr. Plante to the New York Rangers in a seven-player trade in 1963, getting in exchange the roly-poly goalie Lorne (Gump) Worsley. A flopping goalie who guarded his net like a freshly landed flounder, the Canadiens expected Mr. Worsley to be the club's top goalie until he suffered a pulled hamstring.

Mr. Hodge made the most of his opportunity, winning 33 games with a fine 2.26 goals-against average, thanks in part to recording a league-best eight shutouts. He won the Vezina as top goalie, a trophy he would share two years later with Mr. Worsley.

Even after the formidable shadow of Mr. Plante had been moved, Mr. Hodge suffered the indignity of seeing management tout such prospects as Cesare Maniago and, later, Rogatien Vachon as the team's goalies of the future.

With the NHL doubling in size to 12 teams for the 1967-68 season, the six established teams were only allowed to keep a single goalie on a protected list. The Canadiens opted to keep Mr. Worsley, exposing Mr. Hodge to the draft. He was taken in the first round of the expansion draft, No. 6 overall, by the Seals. He provided a yeoman's effort, but the woeful Seals were the worst team in the league. Mr. Hodge was credited with 13 of the team's 15 wins.

He also suffered an NHL worst 29 defeats.

When the NHL added two more teams in 1970, Mr. Hodge was again left unprotected and the Vancouver Canucks snapped him up. (The goalie had played for a Western Hockey League team of the same name two seasons earlier and was something of a crowd favourite.) Mr. Hodge backstopped the Canucks' first NHL victory (a 5-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs) and ended what would be his final campaign with a winning record of 15 wins, 13 losses, 5 ties.

He coached a Vancouver junior hockey team and sold real estate for more than a decade. After the Winnipeg Jets entered the NHL, general manager John Ferguson, a former teammate of Mr. Hodge's with the Canadiens in the 1960s, hired him as an amateur scout. He later filled the same role for the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins. After the Penguins won a second consecutive Stanley Cup in 1992, the team's scouts were included in the engraving. It marked the seventh and final time his name appeared on the Stanley Cup. His six Cup victories as a player is a feat that eluded his more famous goaltending contemporaries - Mr. Worsley, Glenn Hall, Johnny Bower, Terry Sawchuk, all of whom wound up in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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Associated Graphic

Charlie Hodge is seen in his Montreal Canadiens jersey in 1959. The diminuitive netminder had the misfortune of playing in a system in which the great Jacques Plante held the top spot.


Craft brewers, distillers tap industrial spaces
Finding a suitable building is difficult for the growing number of small breweries and distilleries. But that's nothing compared to navigating the murky vat of municipal zoning rules and fire codes
Special to The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, May 17, 2016 – Print Edition, Page B10

Two years after brewing their first batch of ale in a backyard tool shed, Graham Sherman and partner Jeff Orr opened a craft brewery in an industrial warehouse in northeast Calgary in 2014. The former tech consultants, who met while working in Afghanistan, quickly won "people's choice" awards for their flavourful, quirkynamed ales and lagers, and this year expect to triple annual production to one million litres from a year ago.

The aptly named Tool Shed Brewing Co. is one of scores of small-scale breweries and distilleries popping up in urban areas and small towns across Canada, tapping a global thirst for traditional, hand-crafted beer and spirits. Fuelling growth is a loosening of land use and other regulations as governments recognize potential economic spin-offs from this fast-emerging sector.

However, commercial real estate challenges persist, from locating an appropriate site (and building) to convincing wary landlords to lease to a startup or navigating provincial and municipal rules on zoning, water and fire safety.

"The biggest real estate challenge is not only to find a spot that supports your business but a building that will support the use as well," says Curtis Scott, manager of market intelligence for Colliers International in Vancouver. With the explosive growth of craft breweries (and, to a lesser extent, distilleries) in the past five years, he adds, "It is an exciting thing to do but there is a long list of checks you have to go through to make sure it is appropriate for you and that the city is willing [where requested] to change land use."

In Calgary, the Tool Shed partners took 18 months to find their site: a high-ceiling building with a thick concrete floor and sloped floor drains located in an industrial park. Vacant for more than two years for the very features that made it attractive to Tool Shed, the 1970s-era building had a landlord willing to issue a long-term lease to budding brewers.

"The beer gods were smiling on us," says Mr. Sherman. "It was the perfect building."

After its first year in Calgary, Tool Shed is attracting hundreds of beer lovers a week (by car or on city-wide brewery tours) to its industrial location, in part because of rule changes by Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission in 2013, including permission for tasting rooms in facilities in industrial areas. Now Tool Shed patrons sit at a 30metre-long bar and watch the production of their favourite brew.

As in Calgary, the search for an appropriate, affordable brewery site in Vancouver is "very challenging," says Iain Hill, a cofounder of Strange Fellows Brewing Co., and a 20-year veteran of British Columbia's craft brewing industry.

"In Vancouver, because of the massive real estate boom since 1969, on and off, you have a lot of developers trying to turn commercial or industrial zoned [areas] into residential," he says.

After a two-year search, Mr. Hill and his partner, Aaron Jonckheere, leased a 9,000square-foot former carpet warehouse east of downtown. Since the commercial property was not in an industrial zone, the partners needed a Vancouver development permit to establish their brewery. While the approval never seemed in doubt, the process is still "really hard and risky," says Mr. Hill. "You have to be especially patient with local authorities to get over what hurdles you need to get over with them. That is the greatest area where you need patience."

Mr. Jonckheere adds, "You've got to choose wisely in your building," including an adequate sprinkler system and water supply and, in British Columbia, seismic upgrades. "Making that right choice will set you for success."

Like their brewery counterparts, small-scale distillers also face real estate challenges, but their 40-per-cent alcohol products face more stringent fire code provisions than for beer.

"The most learning I have done has less to do with zoning and way more to do with fire and building code [rules]," say Mike Heisz, a former BlackBerry Ltd. engineer who founded his distillery, Junction 56, in Stratford, Ont., in 2014. It produces gin, vodka and moonshine. He expected to lease, but spotted a former 19th-century church (most recently a hardware store) on an industrial property bounded by train tracks and a residential neighbourhood, close to downtown.

He purchased the 40,000square-foot building for its rustic look, needing just 5,500 square feet for the distillery and leasing the rest to commercial tenants.

Significantly, to meet Ontario fire code rules, Mr. Heisz had to build a thick fire wall of concrete block separating the distillery from the rest of the building.

"We worked with them [Stratford fire and planning officials] and they with us, and we got through it," he says.

Zoning rules vary by jurisdiction, with either smooth sailing or headaches for small-scale distillers.

In west-end Toronto, Charles Benoit founded Toronto Distillery in a former Canada Bread manufacturing plant, zoned industrial, that is also home to Junction Craft Brewing, owned by Tom Paterson and partners.

"It was very straightforward for us and we were very fortunate," says Mr. Benoit, citing the city's zoning provisions. Despite their location, the distillery and brewery are close to public transit and residential neighbourhoods, and operate with permission to offer tasting rooms and retail. "We found a location that met the rules," he says.

Rising real estate costs put pressure on entrepreneurs to find affordable industrial locations in the $10- to $15-a-squarefoot lease cost.

"There is not a ton of buildings or space," says Mr. Paterson, noting his west-end Junction neighbourhood "has taken off with families moving in and the price of houses going up."

In contrast to the experience in Toronto, some distillers have had difficulty setting up in rural municipalities.

Don Di Monte, owner of Last Straw Distillery, was told he would need to seek rezoning approval if he wanted to set up his facility in Erin, Ont. Ultimately, he decided to open a 2,000-square-foot distillery in Vaughn, Ont., already zoned to allow whisky making and close to a retail market in the Greater Toronto Area.

For now, the thirst for craft brewers and distillers shows no sign of slackening.

Calgary's Mr. Sherman says he and his partner already have blown past milestones set for their seven-year business plan.

"We can't keep up with growth," he says. "It's terrifying, but a great thing, better than the alternative."

Associated Graphic

Tool Shed co-founder Jeff Orr, operating the canning machine, and his business partner Graham Sherman took 18 months to find the right site for their Calgary brewery. The open space has plenty of room for visitors who want to taste product and see beer-making in action.


When your social calendar is fodder for mass consumption, finding a place of refuge from the spotlight becomes priority. Nolan Bryant explores the history of the outdoor space as an escape and how traditions established in the society days of Bunny Mellon have continued through to today
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, May 21, 2016 – Print Edition, Page L7

Figures of good taste often become synonymous with the objects they acquire - couture, art, decor - and the homes in which they display these pieces can seem like museums. Sometimes they even become one. As a result, the space around their house - the gardens - becomes a refuge. And while the lunching and fundraising that these stylish society types take part in is well documented, their gardens are largely kept private; they are places where they can ditch the fussy duds and get their hands dirty.

Thanks to author Martha McDowell's spring release, All the Presidents' Gardens, a whole new generation of green thumbs is learning about one of the more influential examples of a prominent persona with a secret (and glorious) outdoor space, Rachel "Bunny" Mellon. Along with other like-minded society gardeners, past and present, Mellon proved via the landscapes she created at the White House and in her own backyard that a garden can truly be one's greatest escape.

The wife of Paul Mellon, co-heir to Mellon Bank, one of the more substantial banking fortunes in the U.S., Bunny was also a friend of President John. F. Kennedy, and became a sort of aesthetic advisor to his wife, Jacqueline. Many believed that it was Mrs. Kennedy who called upon Mellon to redesign the White House's Rose Garden in 1962, when in actual fact it was President Kennedy who, according to McDowell, tapped her for a redesign after seeing the grand gardens of Europe on a trip to meet Nikita Khrushchev, the former Premier of the Soviet Union.

"John Kennedy thought that the gardens at the White House were really shabby," McDowell says over the phone from Washington on the eve of the launch of her book. "Bunny was a personal friend of theirs and she was already known as a garden designer and, defiantly, a horticulturist. She loved the plants." It was a book on President Thomas Jefferson's gardens given to President Kennedy by Mellon that drove the inspiration for the revamped outdoor space at the White House.

A key discussion between Mellon and Kennedy was about the placement of the steps that would become a focal point for official ceremonies, "a space where he could stand with the people who were being honoured," McDowell says. While researching her book, McDowell discovered a passage from a scrapbook that was put together by Mrs. Kennedy for Mellon that states the President was so proud of the steps, he wanted to lead everyone up them.

Mellon's own gardens on her Virginia estate leaned toward the style of the French, with defi ned spaces, prim hedges and marvelous courtyards. It was austere at times, but always appropriate. "It's all in the details," McDowell says of Mellon's approach to everything she touched. "I think that really sums up her design philosophy." She was dressed by Balenciaga, a designer who also loved flowers and expressed it during the 1950s with pieces cut from distorted blossom prints.

It was after Balenciaga's sudden retirement in 1968 that Mellon switched her fashion allegiance to Givenchy, who dressed her for the rest of her life. Somewhat decadently, he is said to have created not only her gardening clothes in his couture ateliers in Paris, but also the uniforms for her army of staff.

Like Mellon, Barbara "Babe" Cushing Paley, the wife of CBS founder William Paley, is considered one of the most stylish women in history and had her own secret garden. She called on preeminent garden designer Russell Page (the mastermind behind the garden at the Frick Collection museum in New York) to help create an oasis of epic proportions at Kiluna Farm, the Paley's 80-acre Long Island weekend estate. For Vogue's December 1964 issue, Paley was photographed by Horst P. Horst near the black ponds sans the social armour for which she was known. She looked as much in her element on the immaculate lawn in cropped pants, flat shoes, a straw hat and her shirt sleeves casually rolled past the elbows, as she did sporting a ball gown in the grandest salon on Park Avenue.

In Canada, one of the greatest lovers of gardens of her time was Adelaide McLaughlin. Born in the late 1800s, she was the wife of General Motors co-founder R.S. McLaughlin. An active socialite of her époque, McLaughlin oversaw all happenings on the family's Oshawa, Ont., estate.

Its lawns and greenhouses were created alongside top landscape architects of the day including Harries and Hall in the 1910s and, in the 1930s, architect John Lyle. To this day, the McLaughlin garden attracts visitors, and is one of many sites across Canada where the public can now view great green spaces that were once private.

Today's society-set gardeners continue to use their outdoor spaces as an essential escape. "I squeeze something in every spot, it's not terribly planned," says Harriet "Sis" Bunting Weld, a real-estate agent and regular on Toronto's social scene who takes a less formal approach to the outdoor space at her weekend home in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Like Mellon and Paley, Weld's garden reflects her sense of fashion. "One half of the garden is a croquet lawn. It's perfectly straight, so that's my daytime," she says. "All the rest of it - and around the pool - is all flowers. In the evening I wear more colour, so my garden is very colourful."

Though she has some help now, she's quick to note her involvement goes deeper than calling in a professional: "I used to sit on the tractor and mow the lawn myself," she says. If that's not proof that even the grandest dames of society like to wind down by getting their hands dirty, what is?

Associated Graphic


1. Barbara Paley, in casual attire, lounges beside the pond in her garden on Long Island.

2. President Kennedy shows the Rose Garden to Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands.

3. Sis Bunting Weld's garden in Niagara-on-the-Lake is a modern take on the garden as a quiet escape. 4. Bunny Mellon, an avid gardener, at home in her gardening attire in 1982. 5. Adelaide McLaughlin's Italian-inspired gardens in Oshawa, Ont. The grounds and greenhouses produced some of Canada's best chrysanthemums.


Inside the Swiss lab catching drug cheats
Retesting of 2008 samples has caught 31 violators, and results for the 2012 Games will be known soon
The Associated Press
Monday, May 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S7

GENEVA -- Inside a nondescript concrete building in a Swiss parking lot lies evidence that could take down dozens of Olympic athletes.

The anti-doping laboratory in Lausanne holds the stored urine and blood samples from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics that are being retested with improved techniques to catch drug cheats who escaped detection at the time and to keep them out of this summer's Games in Rio de Janeiro.

So far, 31 unidentified athletes in six sports from 12 countries have been caught during retests of samples from the 2008 Beijing Games. Results on tests of 250 samples from the 2012 London Olympics will be known soon.

Some things to know about the retesting program: .

The Lausanne lab

It's officially called the Swiss Laboratory for Doping Analyses, or by its French acronym, LAD. It's one of 34 labs around the globe accredited by the World AntiDoping Agency and is affiliated with the University Hospital of Lausanne. The lab is located in a drab building near a small co-op supermarket, beside a main road and at the end of the M2 metro line. Visitors have to be buzzed in to take the elevator in the threestorey building.

The lab director is Martial Saugy, a Swiss scientist with long hair and a soul patch above his chin that gives him the look of a jazz musician. Saugy and his lab have often been caught up in major doping cases. Lawyers for Lance Armstrong tried to undermine Saugy's evidence about the cyclist's suspect samples from the 2001 Tour de Suisse. Saugy also met with Armstrong's entourage ahead of the 2002 Tour de France when he was a witness for anti-doping authorities in their case against the American rider.

The Russian connection

Links between Russia and the Lausanne lab were questioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency inquiry team that detailed statesponsored cheating in a report last November. Panel chairman Dick Pound said the lab did not have a convincing explanation for destroying 67 samples that were sent from Moscow in 2013.

An inquiry witness in Russia implicated Moscow lab director Grigory Rodchenkov in a plot to retain clean samples for 67 athletes ahead of the London Olympics. If any of the athletes later produced a positive sample, it would be replaced by their clean sample and the athlete would pay Rodchenkov.

In late 2012, WADA asked for all 67 samples to be retested in Lausanne. One tested positive for low levels of a banned substance, 54 were clean and 12 had too little volume for proper testing. The Lausanne lab destroyed the samples after a standard threemonth storage period despite a request from WADA to keep them.

An investigation by the Lausanne hospital, opened within days of the Pound report, cleared the lab of wrongdoing. Rodchenkov is now at the centre of a scandal over Russian doping at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

He says he helped Russian athletes dope before Sochi and switched their tainted samples for clean ones during the Games.

Sochi samples are also stored at the Lausanne lab and the International Olympic Committee says it plans to retest those.

Sample process

By the end of any Olympics, IOC testers are in control of as many as 5,000 urine samples.

Samples are divided into "A" and "B" bottles, and the "B" samples are available in case they're needed to corroborate a positive result in the "A" bottle.

The initial tests take place in the lab located in the Olympic city. Because of the huge number of samples and tests that need to be conducted in a short period of time, not every sample is tested for every drug. Experts take educated guesses on which set of athletes are more likely to use certain drugs and run the according tests.

After those tests, the leftover urine is placed into a cargo container that's refrigerated, then loaded on an airplane that goes to Geneva. From there, the samples are transported to the lab in Lausanne and stored in a large vault, where they can be stored in a locked freezer at one of two temperatures, either -20 C or -80 C, depending on the type of freezers the lab buys.

"Chain of command" is a critical part of the anti-doping process, and every time the bottles change hands, or locations, forms must be filled out to acknowledge who has been in contact with the bottles. A missing link in that process can invalidate a positive test.

Under new rules, the IOC can hold the bottles for up to 10 years, and can thaw the urine for a retest any time during that window.

The limit was recently raised from eight years, which gives scientists more time to identify new drugs, then develop new tests to identify them. Also, scientists can develop more sensitive tests for metabolites - residue - of known drugs that are found in urine.

And, if a test for a certain drug wasn't completed at the Olympics, it can be done in a retest years later.

"The anti-doping guys have an arsenal that they don't make public," said Tom Brenna, a Cornell University professor and an expert on anti-doping laboratories.

An example Brenna gave was the discovery of a test for plastic residue from the bags some cyclists used for EPO-laden blood transfusions. Because EPO has been notoriously difficult to detect, the test for the "plasticizer" gave the drug-fighters a backdoor method to prove someone was using the drug.

Medal reallocation

The IOC is notifying the 12 national Olympic committees whose athletes have been caught in the Beijing retests. Names and details have been kept confidential for legal reasons.

If athletes are found guilty of doping and stripped of medals, any reallocation won't take place immediately. The IOC will retest the samples of those athletes who stand to move up in the medals to make sure they were clean.

By the numbers

The 31 new cases from Beijing represent by far the highest number of positive tests from a single Olympics. Beijing had already produced 14 doping cases during the Games, plus six cases involving doping of horses. Retests of Beijing samples in 2009 produced five more cases for the blood-boosting drug CERA. The new retests bring the overall total to 56. The previous high was held by the 2004 Athens Olympics, with 26 cases.

Associated Graphic

A man walks past a doping control centre at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Samples from the 2014 Games will be retested at the Swiss Laboratory for Doping Analyses after 2012 tests are done. LEE JIN-MAN/AP

B.C. realtor accused of making threats
Vancouver police and industry regulator investigate after house hunter turns over recording of phone call
Saturday, May 14, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A6

VANCOUVER -- A Vancouver realtor has been accused of threatening a local businessman after he denounced her for encouraging a bidding war on a house she is trying to flip for a client - in a deal he worries could lead to tax evasion.

The man says he was frightened for his life.

He reported the May 2 incident to the real estate industry regulator and Vancouver police, which are both investigating. He gave The Globe and Mail a recording of a threatening call - from a number connected to Layla Yang, a licensed realtor from Re/Max.

In the recording, a woman he said had identified herself as Ms. Yang warns him in Mandarin: "I'm telling you - people above me are from Harbin [China] gangs. Gangsters, right? You don't fucking want to be alive." That call was followed immediately by another, also in Mandarin, from an unidentified man, also recorded. That caller repeatedly demanded to know the businessman's address and told him, "You have lived for too long." The Globe had the recordings translated.

The Globe agreed not to name the alleged victim because of his fears. Ms. Yang declined to talk about any of this.

The incident reveals a dark side of the palpable tension in Vancouver over out-of-control house prices. In this case, the businessman says he believes shady practices and speculation in the real estate industry are hurting the Chinese community.

The man said the episode began when Ms. Yang's assistant, Mo Tao, phoned him to promote a west-side house in which he had expressed an interest. Ms. Yang had just listed it for $4.28million, however, he said Ms. Tao told him that price was just a low-ball enticement to start a bidding war. He claims she told him he must offer at least $1-million more to be competitive, which he found offensive.

"I had no interest in playing this game, with multiple offers. I told her, you are crazy. You can't play a house like stocks. A house is to live in," said the man, who claims he simply wanted a new home for his family.

"I called her back and told her, I don't like your style ... you are making Vancouver unlivable and unacceptable."

Ms. Tao said she recalls the businessman lost his temper and began yelling at her, and she did not understand why.

"He is just saying some bad words back to me - and I got really upset and I hung up the phone. Then a couple of minutes later, he called me back again," said Ms. Tao, who is also a licensed realtor. "I said ... how can I help you? And he just kept saying some bad words to me."

Ms. Tao said she felt threatened and reported the incident to Ms. Yang. The businessman said Ms. Yang called him two hours later, and he recorded part of that exchange.

The multimillion-dollar house is near Point Grey, one of Vancouver's most popular areas for foreign investors and speculators.

Records show Ms. Yang sold it once already this year - for $4.42million. The new MLS listing classifies the home as owner-occupied. However, the buyer relisted it for sale with Ms. Yang just five days after taking possession.

Sales records show the same investor flipped at least one other home last year, making a quarter-million-dollar profit in three months.

The businessman reporting the threats said he is concerned the owner will flip the newly listed property too, then claim it as a principal residence to avoid paying capital-gains taxes.

He said he told the realtors he expected them to apologize for trying to get him to "play their rigged game." He said he warned that if they did not, he would report their activities to the Canada Revenue Agency.

His phone records indicate the first threatening call came after 10 p.m., from a number used by Ms. Yang's sister. Ms. Tao confirms Ms. Yang was with her sister that night. The alleged victim says the caller identified herself as Layla Yang, but he did not record that part, because her call was unexpected. Before warning him about her gangster connections, the woman in the recording says, "I'm telling you - don't ... cause me troubles," possibly a reference to reporting her to the tax authorities.

"To threaten my family and my safety is unacceptable," said the man, who adds he was in shock.

He again compared the activity to trading on the stock market. "I was just telling them my true feelings ... if you play stock games, you should pay taxes."

Ms. Yang's office sent several text messages to The Globe explaining why she would not comment. "We suggest you contact police not Layla Yang office for this matter. Layla Yang is fully engaged in business day and night and thank you for contacting and trusting our team! We have to dealing with our other business now."

"Let's make a Hollywood movie out of this! Pls contact police as needed."

The alleged victim said he called 911 soon after the calls on the Monday night.

"I was awake the whole night ... but they [police] didn't come," he said, adding that a Vancouver police constable came by the next night. "I told them, when you don't come for 24 hours, I could be killed already."

He says the officer advised him to move to a hotel. Vancouver police refused to comment, because no charges have been laid. After The Globe contacted the police, the alleged victim said, two detectives called him in to give a video statement.

The businessman also complained to the Real Estate Council of B.C., the industry self-regulator. A lawyer from the council contacted him on Wednesday, asking for a copy of the phone recording.

"You complaint will now be assigned to a compliance officer here who will be in touch with you regarding the next steps to be taken," reads the e-mail from the regulator.

The businessman said that, as a Canadian citizen, he thinks the authorities should take his complaint - and the manipulation and speculation in Vancouver real estate - more seriously.

"I am a residential buyer. I am not a stock buyer. I buy to live," he said. "Even in China, the government it would control this.

I am not sure why they don't here."

Follow me on Twitter: @KathyTGlobe

Associated Graphic

A house in Vancouver is listed by Layla Yang, a Re/Max agent who is named in a would-be home buyer's complaint to the industry regulator and police.


Success of James shows that top players know when to walk away, know when to flop
Monday, May 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S1

TORONTO -- Three years ago, in the midst of another one of his convenient spates of disequilibrium, LeBron James denied what is demonstrably true.

"I don't flop," James said during a series against the Chicago Bulls.

"I've never been one of those guys."

Au contraire. Whoever "those guys" are, James is their spiritual leader. Wherever they gather, they do so under a portrait of James, eyes wide, expression affronted, spinning wildly to the ground after being hit hard by a light breeze or a harsh word.

In the intervening years, he's adapted his position. He still doesn't use the word "flop," but has sadly conceded that it must be done.

"I will protect myself," the Cleveland Cavaliers star said after two gob-smacking dives during Saturday's Game 3 against the Raptors, which led to three Toronto fouls. "When I was in high school ... a kid just lowbridged me and I fell and broke my wrist. So, that kind of thought kind of always plays in my mind when I'm being thrown to the ground or if it's a borderline dirty play. ... I always think back to the Jay Z line, 'If I shoot you, I'm brainless/If you shoot me, you famous/What am I to do?' That always plays in my head any time I want to react. I gotta keep my brain."

James plainly does everything at an elite level, even his sophistry.

If I follow his logic here, he pretends to be hurt when he is not in order to discourage people from actually hurting him. In real-life terms, this is you calling the cops every time someone drives by your house, just in case one of them is a burglar.

We know where diving started - soccer. It's hard to say exactly when. It grew out of control in the 1990s and remains a major problem whenever the stakes are highest (i.e. World Cups and the like).

The NBA picked up on it after the turn of the century.

It grew epidemic four or five years ago.

The league has cracked down with new rules and postfacto fines, which are financial pinpricks to the game's multimillionaires. Their main efficacy is in embarrassing fakers. It's a dubious prevention strategy.

The key problem with flopping in any sport is that it works more often than not.

If you get away with it, then you've gotten away with it. If you don't, you've reset a referee's internal guidance system midgame. Now he's going to suspect everything, which hurts your opponent as much as you.

As such, it's as effective a tactic as any other game-plan tweak.

Does it work?

"Flopping? Why are you asking me about it?" Raptors forward Luis Scola said Sunday. He laughed, but without much humour.

The best I could come up with is that he's an Argentine. His soccer-playing countrymen didn't invent the practice, but they may have perfected it.

And Scola well knows why I'm asking. His former teammate, Shane Battier, once said of him, "I love Luis Scola, but he's the most egregious flopper on the offensive end."

Battier went so far as to suggest Scola's shaggy mane was an effective flopping prop, as it tended to whip around as he hit the deck, helping him sell the con.

Scola doesn't think flopping is a problem (because what flopper, even a reformed one, would?).

"You see a little bit of exaggeration, but I think it's pretty much gone," Scola said. "For a minute, it became a little bit of a problem, but the NBA took care of it."

What about the moment in Saturday's game when James - 260 pounds of immovable, carved granite when he's being buffeted under the rim - was sent sprawling by a light tap in the mouth?

"I didn't see that play very well.

Or the replay."

I must say that "or the replay" was a very nice touch there. Later, Scola would refer to the widely acknowledged phenomenon of NBA officials giving stars startype calls a "rumour."

If you need someone representing your interests in front of a Senate committee, I'd suggest Scola. You'll be taking the fifth a lot. And neither of you is American. He's that good.

A day later, still warmed by the glow of their surprising Game 3 win, the Raptors were circling their wagons. Around James.

"I don't look at [James] as being a flopper," coach Dwane Casey said. "We don't even talk about that."

Two things. Whenever anyone says, unprompted, "I don't even talk about that," I will 100-percent guarantee you they've been talking about it. And the logic here is sound. Why rattle the cage of the NBA's alpha predator?

Whatever they say, James's behaviour isn't going to change.

Neither is the way he's treated by NBA officials. If you want perfect fairness, forget basketball and try competitive horseshoes instead.

At the highest level, floppers and divers don't think they're cheating. They believe they're levelling the field. That's where James's explanation - "I'm trying to prevent people from hurting me" - falls apart. He's not worried about injury (or any more than any other player). He's trying to dissuade people from touching him, full-stop.

It's the same reason the most flagrant divers in soccer are its biggest stars. They get hit more than most because they have the ball in dangerous positions more often. They'd like to be hit less.

Going to ground is the most effective way to discourage it.

As with any other instance of rule-bending or dark artistry, you just wish people wouldn't pretend it works any other way.

You don't have to honest.

That'd be dumb. Just don't be dishonest. Like most of us, James wants it both ways. It's a big reason so many fans have never warmed to him.

Speaking later about his own muscular and irritating brand of play, Raptor Bismack Biyombo - the antithesis of a flopper - said, "On the floor, I don't have friends."

No great player does. And, for reasons that go beyond his talent, James is the greatest of them all.

Follow me on Twitter: @cathalkelly

Associated Graphic

LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers, bottom left, reacts after being hit in the face by teammate Tristan Thompson during the first half against the Toronto Raptors in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals in Toronto on Saturday.


Dark descent culminated in mass killing
Matthew de Grood admits killing five at 2014 house party, but pleads not guilty to first-degree murder
Tuesday, May 17, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A15

CALGARY -- As the night of Wednesday, April 14, 2014, wore on, Susan de Grood's text messages to her son grew exasperated and anguished, pleading for him to talk to her, to come home after work.

Matthew de Grood, then a 22year-old future law student, was supposed to be nearing the end of his shift at a northwest Calgary Safeway store, and his responses to his mother were disjointed, with references to Illuminati, Frankenstein, Pontius Pilate and reincarnation, then reassurances that he was okay. He had left the store early, without telling coworkers.

"Matt, please talk to me. I wanna understand what is going on with you. Please don't stop talking ... to me," his mother wrote during the exchange, which extended past midnight into that Thursday. "Come home and talk to me please.

"I really need to see you."

Matthew replied: "You can't come here you will die."

At the start of the trial on Monday into Calgary's worst mass killing, Mr. de Grood pleaded not guilty to five counts of firstdegree murder in the deaths of Jordan Segura, 22; Kaiti Perras, 23; Josh Hunter, 23; Zackariah Rathwell, 21; and Lawrence Hong, 27, at a house party.

However, he admitted to killing the partygoers, according to an agreed statement of facts that Crown prosecutor Neil Wiberg read to the court.

"The victims were stabbed and killed by Matthew Douglas de Grood," Mr. Wiberg said.

Mr. de Grood has undergone extensive psychiatric evaluation to determine if he might meet the criteria of being criminally responsible. Details are expected as the trial, being conducted before a judge but no jury, proceeds.

This account of the rampage, and what led up to it, is pieced together from testimony on Monday as well as witness statements from young men and women who were at the party, police notes before and after Mr. de Grood's arrest, excerpts from text messages between family members and exchanges between the suspect and arresting officers. Five officers and the assistant manager at the Safeway where Mr. de Grood worked testified Monday. The materials and testimony reveal a descent into darkness that family and friends were unable to stop.

To anyone outside the de Grood home early that spring, Matthew seemed poised for success, having graduated from the University of Calgary with a bachelor of science in psychology. He was accepted at law school for later in the year. He enjoyed long-distance running.

Within the family, however, tension had grown. Matthew's father, Doug de Grood, a senior Calgary police official, and his wife discussed feeling powerless as their son had become withdrawn, at times angry, lashing out at any criticism. He had taken to spending much time in his bedroom, posting on his Facebook profile ramblings on radical politics and conspiracy theories. His parents even discussed a "mental-health warrant" but decided against it, saying it was unlikely he met the criteria.

On the night of the stabbings, Doug told his wife to call 911, fearing Matthew was suicidal. Doug went out to search for him and found his truck at the Safeway where his son worked. Doug told a fellow police officer in the area he was looking for his son. Early the next morning, he was told his son had been involved in a serious incident and that the young man may have been responsible.

Brendan McCabe had invited Mr. de Grood to his party to mark the end of the university semester. When the two met up, Mr. de Grood, still dressed in his produce-department uniform, gave Mr. McCabe a clove of garlic, saying he "may need it." He also handed over a kitchen knife, according to a police interview with Mr. McCabe.

Partygoers at 11 Butler Cres. NW at times numbered as many as 25.

Witnesses said Mr. de Grood made guests uncomfortable, wearing his jacket zipped up to his neck, and latex gloves, leading one partygoer to wonder if he was a germaphobe. According to the statements, Mr. de Grood had a box cutter.

At around 12:45 a.m., with other guests around a campfire in the backyard, he put his cellphone on the blade of an axe, and dropped it into the flames. According to witnesses, when someone pulled it out of the fire, Mr. de Grood smashed it with the axe.

Teri Lewis, who lived at the house where the party was held, described the mood at the gathering as light and happy before she went to her room to turn in. She was awakened not long after by yelling and screaming outside her door. Mr. McCabe was frantic.

"Hey Matt, it's okay, calm down, it's okay. Dude, it's okay, calm down," Ms. Lewis quoted Mr. McCabe as saying. The panic continued for two or three minutes.

She locked her door and called 911. It sounded as if someone had a knife, she told the operator, but she had not looked out.

When the house quieted down, Ms. Lewis left her room and saw two bodies on the floor covered in blood. One was another of her roommates, Mr. Segura, and the other she did not recognize. Neither was moving.

One group of four friends had left the house earlier to get a snack and they returned at around 1 a.m. They heard screaming from inside the house. Two people ran out the front door, apparently one chasing the other.

Some guests locked themselves in a car, others called 911. At least one was frantically using CPR to try to revive a person who had collapsed on the front lawn.

Later, police said a knife from the kitchen of the house was used in the attacks.

After the chaos, Mr. de Grood took off down the street on foot.

His friend, Mr. McCabe, caught up with him. They struggled. Mr. McCabe grabbed the knife used in the stabbings, before Mr. de Grood produced another blade, warned him to stay away and fled again.

Police hunted him down in the neighbourhood and he was bitten by a police dog, but did not appear to react to the severe bite.

He tried to punch an officer, missed and then was apprehended at gunpoint. Police found a small package of garlic in the suspect's sock. Mr. de Grood explained he was trying to keep zombies away, and said, "I'm sorry. I had to kill them."

Associated Graphic

Relatives of Lawrence Hong, one of five people killed at a house party in April, 2014, enter court in Calgary on Monday for the trial of the accused killer, Matthew de Grood.


Priced out of the action
Big money purchases of luxury houses are having a ripple effect, making affordable homes harder to get
Saturday, May 14, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S5

VANCOUVER -- Near the bustling intersection of 12th Avenue and Clark Drive, a record was set this month for the highest price paid for an East Side duplex.

Each side of the duplex, 1241 and 1243 E. 13th Ave., for $2.161million, according to the listing agent, who didn't want to be named. He said that prior to the sale, the highest sale price for an east side duplex was $1.866-million.

The duplex is five houses west of the city's busiest corridor, a loud four-lane thoroughfare for semi-trailer truck traffic.

The house that once stood there had been rental housing for people of millennial age. Now, it will be home to two families who left the West Side in search of community, according to the agent.

"It was built to West Side quality," he says. "We went with everything in it; air conditioning, heated floors. Each home has four outdoor video cameras for security."

Because the West Side is now unaffordable for those with the average local income, most of the city's young families have headed east. The new owners were drawn to that.

"People are moving over because of the community, with kids playing in the front yards, and shops and restaurants, and great transit. It has a decent school system, parks, bike lanes.

That's what's driving people over."

It's a clear-cut example of the ripple effect. Houses at the high end of the market are unattainable, so buyers go east.

The affordable rental house that once housed a low-income group of young people is now gone, and those young people will have gone elsewhere. Many fear the process will continue to ripple outward until only the wealthiest live within the most central areas of the city.

Several industry representatives have claimed there is no ripple effect, that only the highend of the market is affected by foreign buying.

One Simon Fraser University academic set about trying to prove the ripple effect in a widely circulated academic paper last week.

While most urban experts talk of supply as the solution to the crisis, Josh Gordon, assistant professor of public policy, says instead we need to look at demand. His paper makes the pointed assertion that unregulated foreign buying is the culprit, and government is complicit.

Mr. Gordon, 33, is so frustrated with the situation that he put aside his usual focus on labour markets to pen a paper about the crisis in housing affordability.

The intention, he explained in an interview, was to refute the common excuses being thrown up. "Everyone knows they're just distractions," he says. "So that was the point of the piece. Let's subject this to an empirical test and work this through."

He dismisses low interest rates as one excuse used to explain the current buying frenzy. If that were the case, then prices across the country would be astronomical. However, he points out that a BMO Nesbitt Burns report from January shows Vancouver has by far the highest house price to household income ratio out of 11 major Canadian cities. (13.2 compared to the national average of 5.5).

That's because local bids for houses can't compete with offers from wealthy offshore buyers, he says.

"Nor does this just affect the high-end neighbourhoods, where foreign money is most prevalent.

Now, the better-off families or individuals that may have bought in a more upscale market bring their extra purchasing power to a lower-end area and bid up the prices. And so on, cascading outwards." If anything, the low borrowing rate has caused Vancouverites to overreach to a worrying degree.

He also addresses the shopworn excuse that Vancouver house prices are high because "everybody wants to live here."

City reports suggest the Vancouver region should expect an unprecedented flood of growth over the next 20 years. But according to research by University of British Columbia professor David Ley, the number of people coming into B.C. from other provinces has remained close to net zero since 1990. That would mean the vast majority of growth is from international immigration. But seldom does anyone explain, exactly, what type of growth we're looking at. Are people obtaining citizenships, buying property and earning their incomes elsewhere? Or are they moving to Vancouver to live and work?

Mr. Gordon also dismisses provincial government claims that the strong local economy might be feeding demand.

"B.C. Premier Christy Clark has taken to bragging about the province's growth record in the last year or so, but that's a bit like the leaders of Ireland and Spain bragging about their growth in 2007: It's mostly based on a foundation of unsustainable debt," he says.

"It's the housing bubble that is driving short-term growth, not the reverse.

"It's ironic that we are in the fun part of the debt cycle, and yet people aren't enjoying themselves. So what is it going to look like when this thing pops?" Mr. Gordon isn't the only one predicting a bad ending for Vancouver's housing market. In town this week to speak at the Real Estate Development Talks, McGill University's affordable housing expert professor Avi Friedman, told the young industry crowd that there would be "dire consequences" if the government doesn't intervene soon. He encouraged them to demand action.

Mr. Friedman believes in home equity as a basic human right and a means of future security. In an interview before his presentation, he said if he hadn't purchased a home when he was a young professor, he'd be in serious trouble at this stage of his life. He worries for his own kids.

"I believe the train is out of control," he said. "The damage that this train can eventually do to people who will need to spend huge sums of money at their later stage of life is very, very serious."

He says government is not doing enough to address the problem.

"At the federal level, I do not see affordable housing becoming a priority in the next year or two.

There is talk, there is a pledge, but if you see the recent federal budget, it has not become a priority, in my opinion.

"We don't have the galvanizing voice that knows how to put this subject front and centre."

Associated Graphic

A duplex at 1241 and 1243 E 13th Ave. sold within days. Each side of the duplex sold for more than $2-million. The homes are five houses away from Clark Drive, one of the city's busiest thoroughfares.


Reflecting on returning to work
Only able to find contract jobs, couple wonder whether they should keep looking or retire early
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, May 14, 2016 – Print Edition, Page B9

After fairly long and successful careers, Simone and John have been downsized from their well-paying jobs. She is 48, he is 53. They have two children, ages 7 and 15.

"We're lucky that we've been able to save over the years, have no debt and have been able to pay off our house in a nice neighbourhood," Simone writes in an e-mail. "Despite looking for work, we've not found anything beyond sporadic contract work, and are wondering if we can afford to just stop and consider ourselves retired early," she adds.

Simone has contributed to a defined benefit pension plan and is wondering whether she would be better off taking the commuted value - a lump sum of cash - rather than a monthly pension.

John is already collecting a pension from the Canadian Forces.

Simone had a health scare a few years ago that may colour her work and pension decisions.

"I'm hoping to live long and will need my resources to support that hopeful future, but I need to preserve assets for my family in case my luck runs out, and do what I can to provide for them as the kids get into university and my husband would be on his own," Simone adds.

"Do we need to go back to work?" We asked Warren MacKenzie, a principal at HighView Financial Group of Oakville, Ont., to look at Simone and John's situation.

HighView is an investment counselling firm.

What the expert says

Simone and John have been good savers, so they have an investment portfolio valued at roughly $1.2-million. Their current shortfall is being covered by withdrawing funds from their portfolio.

John is getting an indexed government pension of $27,700 a year. At the age of 65, Simone will be entitled to an indexed pension of $36,360 a year. By the time they are both 65 and drawing Old Age Security and Canada Pension Plan benefits, they would have more than $120,000 a year before tax.

Alternatively, Simone could take the commuted value of $744,000, of which $408,000 would be taxable. If she does this, and invests the money at an average annual return of 4 per cent, by age 65 the total of their registered and non-registered portfolios would be more than $2-million and would generate about $80,000 a year before tax. "The projections show that at age 65, their net worth would still be growing every year," Mr. MacKenzie says.

Should Simone take the cash now or the monthly cheque later?

"If a person has a normal life expectancy, it is almost always better to take an indexed government pension," Mr. MacKenzie says. But because Simone has had health problems, and her pension survivor benefit is only 50 per cent, "in this case it might make better sense to take the commuted value," he says. "This assumes, however, that the money will be wisely invested so that it at least matches the benchmark for a well-diversified investment portfolio."

Simone and John's investments have fallen short, but it wasn't readily apparent because their financial adviser did not compare their investments to the appropriate benchmarks. "In 2015, their investment portfolio - about 35 per cent fixed income and 65 per cent equities - earned 2.7 per cent," Mr. MacKenzie says. "A composite benchmark using total return indices would have earned 8.2 per cent. That's underperformance of over five percentage points per annum."

They have underperformed this composite benchmark for the past five years, the planner says.

"In dollar terms, if they had matched the benchmark in 2015, they would have earned an additional $60,000." The appropriate composite benchmark would be made up of indexes for treasury bills, bonds, international stocks, U.S. stocks and Canadian stocks, including dividends, multiplied by the couple's allocation to each type of investment, he says.

"They've been with their adviser for 20 years and were under the impression that the adviser was doing an excellent job of picking individual stocks and bonds," Mr.

MacKenzie says. "They believed their portfolio was performing well because their statements don't include any composite benchmark comparisons that would indicate otherwise." The statements show various indexes at the bottom of the page, "and given their return was better than the worst-performing index that was shown, they felt they were doing well," he adds.

Adding to the confusion, the indexes shown on their statement were price indexes, "whereas from a relative benchmark point of view a more reasonable comparison would be the total return indices (including dividends)," the planner says. However, an even better comparison would be to track their absolute benchmark requirement. This is the rate of return that is required for them to achieve their financial goals.

"Simone and John were shocked to learn that in 2015 a simple portfolio of exchangetraded funds with similar equity and international exposure would have earned over 5 per cent more" than they did.

From a financial point of view, there is no need for Simone and John to go back to work, the planner says. "An additional salary would give them only about the same benefit as simply starting to manage their money wisely."

Want a free financial facelift? E-mail Some details may be changed to protect the privacy of the persons profiled.


The people: John, 53, Simone, 48, and their two children.

The problem: Can they retire now or do they have to go back to work? Should Simone take a monthly pension or a lump sum?

The plan: Take the lump sum and invest it wisely, insisting on performance reports that more accurately reflect their returns.

The payoff: Financial freedom and the potential to improve their returns by moving to a low-cost, diversified investment portfolio.

His pension income: $2,310.

Assets: Bank $51,000; stocks $515,070; his TFSA $55,560; her TFSA $47,066; his RRSP $278,328; her RRSP $206,737; RESP $86,229; commuted value of her DB pension plan $744,000 ($580,000 after tax); house $750,000.

Total: $2.7-million.

Monthly outlays: Property tax $600; utilities, insurance $325; maintenance $350; transportation $440; grocery store $800; clothing $205; vacation, travel $600; other discretionary $385; dining, drinks, entertainment $600; grooming $50; pets $75; sports, hobbies $180; subscriptions $35; dental $100; life, disability insurance $210; telecom, TV, Internet $235.

Total: $5,190. Monthly shortfall: $2,880.

Liabilities: None

Associated Graphic


What you can do to help bees
In honour of Toronto's new title as bee city, forget the pesticide and let the dandelions sprout
Saturday, May 21, 2016 – Print Edition, Page M3

Toronto's been called Hogtown, T.O. and, lately, The 6.

Now it has a new handle: bee city.

The title is a recognition of Toronto's efforts to become a better place for bees and other pollinators by restoring their habitats.

It's also a rallying cry for gardeners to forget the pesticide and let the dandelions sprout, said Shelly Candel, the founder of Bee City Canada who lobbied city council to adopt the title. She hopes it will spur Toronto and its residents to seed native plants wherever they can to help the hundreds of wild bee species and countless butterflies and other pollinators.

Here's a look at what you can do to help the city live up to its new name, as well as some common misconceptions.

Who are you calling a honeybee?

The bees in your garden are probably not honeybees. They're leafcutter bees, mining bees, bumblebees or sweat bees, and many others. They don't make honey and they don't live in hives. They likely live alone, and many don't sting. If they are males, they don't even have stingers. They're all vital to biodiversity and responsible for making the flowers bloom and the tomatoes grow.

Laurence Packer, a biology professor at Toronto's York University and a well-known expert on native bees, saw just one honeybee in his backyard last year, compared with 40 different types of native bees. Managed honeybees get all the attention, but it's the hundreds of native bee species that do most of the work in Toronto, he says. These bees make their homes in holes in the ground, in piles of twigs and in whatever cavities they find in houses, sheds and even patio furniture.

Although the declines in honeybees can be easier to track because they are managed in hives near farmland, less is known about the effect of industrial agriculture and habitat loss on the health of native bees. The rusty patch bumblebee used to be common in Southern Ontario, but is now rarely seen, Prof. Packer said. Toronto's status as a haven for bees and other pollinators is threatened by, among other things, pesticide usage. The city banned lawn herbicides and insecticides in 2003, but the chemicals linked to pollinator deaths are still finding their way into residential gardens, through flowers grown at nurseries and compost, he said.

Despite its concrete canyons and car-clogged roads, Toronto's ravines and gardens offer bees and other pollinators a varied feast. There are more than 360 species of native bees working the city's flowers and countless other pollinators. Beekeeper Fred Davis of Toronto Honey said his rural counterparts know Toronto, largely free of large-scale pesticide use, is a good home for honeybees. "They don't suffer the way they could in the farmland," Mr. Davis said.

But native bee experts say honeybees are an invasive species that belongs in farmland, not urban backyards or parks. "They compete for flowers. They can spread diseases," said Scott MacIvor, a bee researcher and lecturer at the University of Toronto.

What you can do If you want to help the bees, leave the hives to the farmers and make your garden a place for native bees and pollinators. Plant native perennial flowers, leave bare patches of ground for their nests and stop spreading mulch that can block their burrows. Bees and other pollinators like things a little messy because it gives them places to lay their eggs. So cut back the shrubs, bundle the twigs and leave them out for bees to nest in. Bees prefer sunny areas to shade and like decaying logs, preferably facing south. They also prefer simple, open flowers that offer easy access to pollen over roses and other flowers that have densely packed pedals that are hard to squeeze through.

"Stop pruning, stop spraying," said Beatrice Olivastri of Friends of the Earth Canada, an environmental group that has launched a campaign called Let it Bee, urging Torontonians to convert their lawns into habitats for pollinators. "It's time to change how we garden and landscape to make sure we protect wild bees." Prof.

Packer said gardeners should buy organically grown plants that don't contain traces of neonicotinoid pesticides or other chemicals favoured by the horticultural industry.

Risky rise in hobby beekeeping Growing awareness of the diseases, loss of habitat and chemical threats faced by pollinators has spurred interest not only in planting bee-friendly gardens, but in beekeeping itself. A growing number of businesses are offering homeowners hives for rent, or selling shares of the honey produced at hives on buildings or commercial properties.

Toronto Honey's Mr. Davis, a beekeeper in Toronto for 12 years, wonders if this is "too much of a good thing." The rise of rookie beekeepers risks spreading parasites among honeybees, and annoying neighbours. "As long as you're a responsible beekeeper and you know what you're doing, you have a higher chance of preventing things that could taint all beekeepers as being a nuisance," he said.

Mr. Davis is worried by plans of some companies to add as many as 200 honeybee hives this season. Provincial law bans honeybee hives within 30 metres of another property, and 10 metres of a road, which pretty much rules out backyard beekeeping.

How your neighbourhood affects honey Every gardener plants a different mix of flowers and vegetables that bloom at different times - lilacs in the spring; black-eyed Susans later; dandelions all season long. For the beekeepers who work in the city, this randomness yields honey that is unpredictable and varied. "Each neighbourhood has its different taste and aroma just because of the different flowers in the neighbourhood," said Declan Rankin Jardin, co-founder of Montreal-based Alvéole, which plans to install 120 Toronto hives in June. "If you go to the Annex, it's different than if you're downtown or in the Beaches. Sometimes it can be minty or floral or appley."

Also, award-winning. Mr. Davis, whose hive-share business Toronto Honey has bees on several buildings and industrial lands around the city, won first place at last year's Royal Agricultural Winter Fair for his honey. The honey came from colonies atop the Canadian Opera Company's Queen Street hall. In the heart of the city, those bees feed on "anything and everything that's in bloom," Mr. Davis said.

Associated Graphic

There are hundreds of different species of native bees in Toronto


Switching gears
Bicycle sales in flux as road-bike frenzy cools
Monday, May 23, 2016 – Print Edition, Page B1

Just a few years ago, Ira Kargel put a big focus on road bicycles in her Gears stores, with prices ranging up to about $12,000 apiece.

But Gears, which launched its fourth store this month, has now shifted its spotlight from road bikes to urban and mountain models, which can be almost one-third the price of a road bike.

While cyclist Lance Armstrong helped galvanize a generation into buying the workout-friendly road bikes more than a decade ago, his fall from grace played a part in consumers kicking the high-end road bike buying habit. What is more, the sturdy bikes didn't need frequent replacement, leading to softer sales.

"That Lance Armstrong fad - every CEO needs to be on a road bike - you don't see that as much," Ms. Kargel, co-owner of Gears, in Mississauga, said.

At the peak of the bike-selling season, retailers and suppliers are bracing for the effects of big shifts in the bike business that are catching some players off guard and forcing them to operate more nimbly or face weaker results.

The changes include sluggish sales of pricey road bikes and a lift in those of generally lower-priced urban or multi-purpose bikes amid a more crowded market and the emergence of low-cost online bike sellers.

"The business model is changing," said Larry Koury, managing director of Specialized Canada Inc., a division of one of the industry's biggest bike suppliers in Madison, Wis. "The speed and the willingness to change are probably the biggest determining factors in how things will be in two or three years."

Already some companies are feeling the pinch. South of the border, the changes have led to a glut of some premium models and heavier discounting - and in some cases, lower sales and thinner margins.

Montreal-based Dorel Industries Inc., which produces the upscale Cannondale bikes, saw its first-quarter operating profit tumble to $5.3-million from $11.6-million a year earlier in its sports division, pointing to an oversupply and markdowns in its U.S. premium bike business, which is known for its road bikes. Sales in the division fell to $216.5-million from $228.9-million.

As consumers moved to buying more mountain and urban bikes, "we responded maybe a little late," Jeffrey Schwartz, chief financial officer of Dorel, said. But the company is catching up now with new models in those popular categories and sales already are picking up, he said. "That's going to pay off."

The wider shift is being driven by millennial consumers who are looking for affordable urban or multi-purpose bikes with upright handles, rather than upscale road bikes that are geared to fitness buffs with money to spare, said Matt Powell, sport industry analyst at researcher NPD Group in Port Washington, N.Y.

"This whole industry really has to recognize this shift in consumer preference and make the move," Mr. Powell said. "There are some who have resisted it. If you've made your living selling $6,000 to $8,000 bikes and now you're going to sell $800 to $900 bikes, that's a whole different business model."

Even so, U.S bike sales are growing over all (no Canadian data were available): Last year, bike sales in the United States rose 3.9 per cent to $1.7-billion (U.S.) from a year earlier, according to NPD.

Sales of road bikes, previously the single largest category, fell 6.2 per cent to $508.2-million, while sales of mountain bikes, today's biggest category, picked up 6.2 per cent to $518.5-million, it found.

Other data tell the broader story: Bike profit margins were an average of 38.2 per cent of revenue last year - but those of road bikes were just 33.7 per cent; mountain bikes, 36.7 per cent; and urban commuting bikes an attractive 41 per cent, NPD data show.

U.S. bike prices fell 2 per cent to an average $722 in 2015, with the price of road bikes an average of $1,518, compared with only $556 for commuting bikes and $996 for mountain bikes, it says.

Urban bikes are emerging as an important segment and one that Montreal-based distributor Outdoor Gear Canada is increasingly emphasizing, said company president David Bowman. Electric bikes and those for children are small but budding businesses, he added. Weather is a critical factor in bike sales and the often cool and rainy spring in Central and Eastern Canada didn't help, Mr. Bowman said. More important, cycling is evolving from principally a sport - road and mountain bikes - to a more popular form of transportation, helped by cities building bike paths, he said, adding that suppliers and retailers need to reflect the changes in their offerings.

At the same time, the retail market is becoming more crowded - not just with online discount sellers, such as Britain-based Wiggle, but also larger retailers that are putting a bigger push on bikes.

Vancouver-based Mountain Equipment Co-op has expanded aggressively into bikes, angering specialty rivals that view the coop's tax-exempt status as unfair competition. And MEC focused early on urban bikes, while "the rest of the industry was a little slow to get on it," Jeff Crook, MEC's chief products officer, said.

But Mr. Crook sees online players, even Inc., as bigger threats to traditional retailers. Some suppliers, such as Trek Bicycle Corp., have rolled out their own e-commerce. MEC has been adding more cycling items to its cyber offerings, including many that are not stocked in its physical stores, he said.

Other smaller bricks-and-mortar retailers are starting to sell products online, including - in March - Ms. Kargel at Gears, whose sales and profit margins have been relatively flat in the past year.

"Clearly people like to buy online," she said. "When your competition is Amazon, you'd better be able to reply quickly and be engaged. Otherwise you fail."

Associated Graphic

Gears co-owner Ira Kargel says the cycling business is moving away from high-end road bikes to more rugged designs.


Retailers such as Mississauga's Gears bike shop are adjusting to cycling's changes. 'Clearly people like to buy online,' says co-owner Ira Kargel, seen on Saturday. 'When your competition is Amazon, you'd better be able to reply quickly and be engaged. Otherwise you fail.'


Cleveland's sports franchises are born losers. Sound familiar, Toronto?
Tuesday, May 17, 2016 – Print Edition, Page S1

This is a quote widely attributed to Mark Twain: "There are only three great cities in the U.S.: New York, San Francisco and Washington. All the rest are Cleveland."

One problem - Twain didn't write it. But since it sounds like him and it's a hell of a zinger, people have been recycling it for nearly half a century. The "great cities" change. Sometimes it's New Orleans or Chicago instead of Washington. The Cleveland part stays the same.

In the fuzzy imagination of the wider world, Cleveland is the civic embodiment of everything that's gone wrong with the American Dream. It's an industrial ruin denuded of human life. It's Planet of the Apes, minus the apes.

More importantly, it is a born loser. If you do not know anything about Cleveland and try to summon it to mind, you'll think two things: burning river, cursed teams.

My pal Chris is a masochist who's spent a lifetime rooting for the various iterations of the Cleveland Browns. Every year, he makes a pilgrimage to Ohio for the express purpose of seeing them get beaten by someone new. When he talks about the Browns, he tilts his head up just slightly and gets a glassy, faraway look, like he's recalling a favourite cousin who died young in a gruesome barbecue accident. But over and over again.

Of course, Chris is from Toronto. He understands sports pain and, having grown used to the feeling, seeks it out wherever he can. (Lack of) game recognize (similar lack of) game.

No big-league Toronto team has ever played a Cleveland team in the postseason at anything. The simple explanation is that Cleveland doesn't have a hockey club and Toronto's never been much good at anything else. But I'd prefer to think that this is God's way of keeping two immensely powerful negative forces from interacting and thereby ripping a hole in the Earth's crust.

We'll begin risking that on Tuesday night, when the Raptors play the Cavaliers in the first game of the NBA's Eastern Conference finals. Remember to put your emergency go-bag by the door before you hit the couch.

On its face, this isn't much of a matchup. Unless LeBron James steps on an ice cube and collides with a passing Kevin Love, who is sent careering like a cannonball into Channing Frye, breaking all their legs in the process, it is very close to impossible seeing how Toronto can win this series.

Take a game on the back of monsoon-strength home-crowd support? Sure, that may happen.

But sneak four by them? It would be a Leicester City-level upset.

On Monday, Raptors coach Dwane Casey conceded as much.

Asked if the Raptors could win it, Casey said a lot of empowering things, but the word "yes" did not pass his lips.

At one point, Casey called the Cavs "the best team in the league right now." At another, "one of the top teams of all time." He called James "the best player in the league" - which he no longer is, but whatever.

This was more than a show of respect. Casey has seen the bear and, rather than poke it, decided to give it a long, sensuous, rhetorical back rub.

Cleveland, being Cleveland, was busy being offended that Kyle Lowry had referred to James as "probably one of the best players in the league, beside Steph [Curry]" during a chaotic courtside hit immediately following Toronto's Game 7 win over Miami.

That is a factually supportable statement based on recent available evidence. But God forbid anyone say anything sensible when they could have said something pandering instead.

However, it's hard to take offence at their offence at our unintentional offence since this is exactly the way Toronto would react. That is, if we'd ever had the best player in any sport.

Since we haven't, I believe that gives us the right to be offended at their presumption. Seriously.

How dare they?

In all likelihood, it won't be basketball that makes this series interesting. Instead, it will be that this is the inevitable collision between the two sad-sackingest sports towns in the entirety of the universe. If it turns out that they play games in distant galaxies, jokes about the Leafs and the Indians will have reached them before the Voyager space probe.

In many important ways, Toronto is Cleveland and vice versa.

They have not won a big-time championship in 52 years. And that was a grubby little pre-Super Bowl NFL title. That's a worse record than Buffalo, which is a distinction you would rather not have.

Like all Toronto teams, Cleveland clubs do not just lose. They implode. Once every three or four years, they start to give off a sizzling sound. It gets louder and louder. Someone punches someone else in the locker room. The best player is arrested. Eventually, they blow a 400-point lead in a game they were supposed to win easily and everything collapses in on itself.

The team is then reassembled from its faulty, constituent parts - like a zombie - and begins shuffling forward again. Or they send everyone to Toronto to run a different baseball team into the ground.

Like Toronto, Cleveland knows it sucks. That's what makes it charming instead of just sad.

Also like Toronto, no one is allowed to point this out but people from Cleveland. And also like Toronto, people complain that nothing changes and then get angry when it does. Regardless, they keep showing up in both cities no matter how hard the team is drilling toward the bottom, giving ownership limited incentive to change anything.

The only difference between us? LeBron James was born there.

In this case, that's the only one that will matter. One can only hope for some more creative cross-border sniping before it gets that far. If it takes one to know one, few opponents have ever been so well-matched.

When James screws his hometown over by leaving for a second time - because you know that is also inevitable - Toronto will be there to support Cleveland. By laughing at them hard, as only people who've been there can.

Follow me on Twitter: @cathalkelly

Associated Graphic

DeMar DeRozan, left, and Kyle Lowry get focused during the warmup prior to their Game 7 victory over Miami on Sunday.


Things are looking up for long-suffering Raptors Historic victory elevates team to conference final
Monday, May 16, 2016 – Print Edition, Page A1

TORONTO 116, MIAMI 89 --

This morning, after a historic Toronto Raptors win, it all makes sense.

All the blown picks and ugly goodbyes and terrible, terrible basketball. For most of two decades, the Raptors were to the NBA what the Hindenburg was to air travel.

Our American friends - some of whom had drawn local paycheques - loved pointing that out.

That's how they are in Canada.

They don't really know basketball," former Raptor Charles Oakley once sneered. "They don't know if they're watching polo or lolo."

Whichever one of those things is the good one, that's what we're into now.

After years of nearly uninterrupted disappointment, the Toronto Raptors are within four wins of competing for an NBA title. They annihilated the Miami Heat 116-89 on Sunday to advance to the Eastern Conference championship against the Cleveland Cavaliers. That series begins Tuesday in Ohio.

This country deserved it," DeMar DeRozan, the longest-serving current Raptor, said afterward. Perhaps uniquely among the foreigners who've played here, he gets how much it meant.

It had been an ugly series, but it was a glorious finale. Finally seeming to fully coalesce in their 14th postseason contest, the Raptors offered some hope that the next round against the prohibitively favoured Cavaliers might not be a walkover.

That's the hand-wringing to come. But give this franchise and its fans a moment to stop and look around.

You have to respect an organization that's gone through some pain," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said afterward, rather understating the matter.

Pain is a few down years. If you are one of the people who remembers the entire history of this organization, you'd probably use words such as "searing" and "agony."

The voyage seemed cursed from the get-go. The Raptors came slinking into the league in 1995, so desperate to be included they allowed the NBA t