How does James's return affect the Canadians?
As LeBron heads home to northeast Ohio, his decision will transform the career arc of his teammates
Saturday, July 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S5

The King is going home - and it's the decision that transforms the career arc of Andrew Wiggins and the other young Canadians on the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Whether the return of LeBron James to Cleveland shoots that arc skyward - or ratchets it to the hinterlands of basketball - remains, for now, unclear.

James captivated the basketball world this week: The obsessed tracked the private plane of Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, parsed the computer code of James's website, watched for moving vans in Miami, all of it playing out in a dragging digital drama online.

When The Decision Part 2 emerged Friday at high noon, in an essay in Sports Illustrated, joy burst forth in woebegone northeast Ohio. It was an instant lunchtime party, the citizenry celebrating in a bereft region that was so ruthlessly spurned four years ago.

For Canadian hoops fans, the week of parsing that concluded for most people began anew. In James's essay, he wrote of teammates he was excited to work with, Toronto's promising Tristan Thompson among them, as well as Dion Waiters, shooting guard - the position Wiggins would play on the James-led team. Wiggins, and last year's No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett, were not mentioned.

It wasn't an accidental omission. Alongside the chatter this week of James heading back to Cleveland was another piece in a moving puzzle: a talked-about trade with Minnesota for the force of Kevin Love. Cleveland, even with James, is not an instant contender. Add Love and they are. To get Love, Cleveland would have to give up a lot.

ESPN floated a proposed deal Friday afternoon: Waiters, Bennett and a first-round pick for Love. Cleveland does not want to hand over Wiggins. They may have to - but if Cleveland can manage to acquire Love and keep Wiggins after bringing home James, the makings of a champion, a Miami Heat North, is set.

For Wiggins, a raw 19-year-old rookie, such a scenario would be an extraordinary win. The arrival of one of the greats exempts the kid from the usual slog of top picks on poor teams. James becomes an instant trampoline for Wiggins and his budding brand empire.

Basketball banishment, however, looms. The Minnesota Timberwolves exist on the figurative and physical fringes of professional hoops. The team has not made the playoffs in a decade.

An optimist can cite a steadily improved recent record, up to going 40-42 this past season in the tough Western Conference.

But subtract Love and: Whoa.

Wiggins and/or Bennett would arrive in a place where young talent would be feasted on in the West. This is the typical trial for No. 1 picks: several years of awful losing as they learn their trade in the furnace of pro sports. Just ask the young Edmonton Oilers.

While the futures of Canada's prospects bounce in limbo, Cleveland rejoices. Four years ago, the agony on Lake Erie was acute, when James at age 25 abandoned his home in search of a better shot at his first NBA title and, in a classless spectacle, took his talents to Miami. It worked: four championship appearances in four seasons, with two victories.

Back in Cleveland, the Cavaliers without James crumbed into a basketball wasteland. The hurt did not heal. It was only a few days ago that the Cavaliers removed left from their website owner Gilbert's epic and unhinged rant penned when James. Published in the ridiculous comic sans typeface, Gilbert lashed out at James and declared, in capital letters, a personal guarantee of a Cavs championship before James won his first.

For James, it is no longer about five rings, six rings. Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan can brag about their fistful of titles, never mind, of course, Bill Russell and his 11. James has finished his work in Miami. It is in Cleveland where James can cement his legend, the greater glory of unfinished business.

"My relationship with northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball," said James. "I didn't realize that four years ago. I do now."

James made it to the finals once in Cleveland, at age 22 in 2007, when he carried the Cavs to their first, and only, NBA final, where the team was swept by San Antonio. The Cavs never made it back. Today, he returns to a team he can again carry, though with less of a singular burden on one man's shoulders. The wasteland James left behind produced a harvest at the draft, starting with 2011 No. 1 pick Kyrie Irving at point guard.

In the broader, less concrete realm of psychic pain, it may only be sports, but James's departure hurt Cleveland so much because life in northeast Ohio is marked not by joy and brightness, but by grey and bleakness.

James was hope - and his leaving was as severe a sports rejection as there can be. James grew up poor in Akron, 40 minutes south of Cleveland. A bit farther east is Youngstown. This dark triangle of the Rust Belt lost half its manufacturing jobs through the second half of the 20th century.

"Here in Youngstown," sang Bruce Springsteen in a particularly dark 1995 song, "My sweet Jenny, I'm sinkin' down."

"I want," said James, "kids in northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there's no better place to grow up. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business. That would make me smile. Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get."

Away from the shuttered factories, and inside the arenas and stadiums, it has been little better.

The last professional championship was 50 years ago, the 1964 Cleveland Browns, before the modern era of Super Bowls. Go further back and there's the Cleveland Indians and the 1948 World Series. James was a sports saviour - until he wasn't.

Cleveland is not a city that can afford to hold a grudge, and so it opens its arms. The local paper, the Plain Dealer, published a special section, fronted by the fullpage image of James as a Basketball Jesus.

The King is coming home. The gutting pain is over and all is forgiven. As James forges the next part of what has become one of the more extraordinary stories in North American sports history, there is work left to do. "In northeast Ohio," he concluded in SI, "nothing is given. Everything is earned."

Associated Graphic

With his return to the Cavs, LeBron James, right, becomes an instant trampoline for Canadian player Andrew Wiggins and Wiggins's budding brand empire - though the potential of basketball banishment to the Minnesota Timberwolves still looms.


Par proves to be a problem at Women's British Open
The Associated Press
Friday, July 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S5

SOUTHPORT, ENGLAND -- Ayako Uehara of Japan felt confident with the putter and played in the best weather Royal Birkdale has to offer. It was the right combination to take the lead Thursday in the Women's British Open. And the best she could manage was a four-under 68.

Pot bunkers can present problems on any links course. Throw in some thick grass and par becomes a problem.

Michelle Wie could attest to that. The U.S. Women's Open champion spent too much time chipping out of sand and rough on her way to a 75. Cristie Kerr didn't make a birdie, shot 81 and withdrew with a sore back. Only nine players broke par, all but two of them in the relative calm of a sunny morning along the Irish Sea.

"It's only going to get harder," defending champion Stacy Lewis said after a 71. "Anything under par on this golf course is a good score."

Uehara got her lone mistake out of the way early and made another bogey after the opening hole. She made three birdies in a four-hole stretch, added two birdies on the back nine and built a one-shot lead over Mo Martin.

"Ayako obviously put up a really good number," said Lewis, who played in her group. "She seems like she wasn't in trouble at all.

She was just greens, greens, centre of the green. You can kind of learn a little bit from that and maybe not go at so many pins."

Morgan Pressel scrambled her way to a 70, joined by Sarah Kemp and Mina Harigae. The only players who broke par in the afternoon were former U.S. Women's Open champion Ryu so-yeon and Amy Yang, who played in the final group at the U.S. Women's Open last month. Both shot 71.

"I don't think they can make it any easier," Pressel said.

That doesn't bode well for Wie, who was introduced on the first tee as the U.S Women's Open champion and then posted her highest score of the year. Wie had to birdie the par-five 18th hole - the only time she hit driver - to finish three over.

"Thought I made a good game plan," Wie said. "Just didn't hit good shots today."

Alena Sharp of Hamilton, Ont., had a two-over 74.

The scores Thursday might have been a preview of what the men can expect next week at Royal Liverpool for The Open Championship, through Royal Birkdale is a stronger test. The links courses are separated by about 40 kilometres, and a wet spring has allowed the grass to get thick and lush. That makes it difficult to make contact with the golf ball, assuming it can be found. Tiger Woods won at Liverpool in 2006 on a fast course with wispy grass.

"The golf course is so hard, I couldn't imagine four days of this much rough and all the wind and everything it entails," Lewis said.

"It's nice to have it pretty calm today."

Pressel had 23 putts, though only four of them were for birdie. She escaped with par when she found trouble off the tee and one time salvaged bogey. Playing her third shot from the right rough to a pin on the right side of the tough 16th green protected by a pot bunker, Pressel played short of the green and got up-anddown to limit the damage. Her putter made all the difference.

"I was happy that I made it look easier than it actually was," Pressel said.

It wasn't like that for everyone.

Paula Creamer was five-over par after five holes and rallied for a 75. The best comeback belonged to Jessica Korda, who went out in 39 and then made four birdies on the back nine to return to even par. Karrie Webb, Inbee Park, Suzann Pettersen and Kraft Nabisco champion Lexi Thompson also were at even par.

The way it looked Thursday, anyone around par might be in good shape when it ends on Sunday.

Wie now has to climb back on a course that makes it feel as though she has to scale a mountain. She tried to rely on her powerful stinger off the tee, using mostly hybrids, to stay short of the bunkers and out of the rough. But she hit only seven fairways, leading to three of her bogeys.

"I definitely felt like my tempo was a little bit off," Wie said. "But it's a long way until Sunday, and I battled out there. It's not the score I was looking forward to on Thursday, but it could have been a lot worse."

Martin had a plan for Birkdale, too. She is one of the shorter hitters on the LPGA Tour and can't recall a round where she hit so many 3-woods off the tee, all in an effort to stay out of trouble.

"Every hole, every shot is its own test," Martin said. "You just really have to have so much strategy. It keeps you in the moment and it's a challenge. It's a fun challenge."

Pospisil doubled his fun at Wimbledon
Wednesday, July 9, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S3

VANCOUVER -- Early this past spring, American tennis player Jack Sock asked Canada's Vasek Pospisil if he wanted to team up for the Wimbledon doubles tournament.

The two young tennis players did not know each other well, but Pospisil said yes, with the warning that he might not be in great shape to play because of a wonky back.

By the tournament, however, Pospisil felt strong and good to go. The partnership, however, was raw, brand new. In fact, the first time Pospisil and Sock hit balls together was to warm up for their first Wimbledon match as partners. Six matches later, the last points they played on the grass of the All England Club in southwest London came in the championship game against the best doubles team of all time - the Bryans, Bob and Mike, winners of 15 Grand Slam finals. But as we now know, Pospisil and Sock defeated the Bryans in that extraordinary five-set battle, 7-6 (5), 6-7 (3), 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.

Amid the celebration of the rise of Canadian tennis - Eugenie Bouchard getting to the Wimbledon women's singles final and Milos Raonic reaching the men's semi-finals - the unlikely story of Pospisil and Sock received only fractional attention. Doubles is usually a footnote in pro tennis, receiving scant attention even as it is the favoured game for many recreational players.

But it has long been the source of Canadian court success - the amazing and ageless Daniel Nestor of Toronto has won eight men's Grand Slam titles and an Olympic gold medal in men's doubles, and now 24-year-old Pospisil, who grew up in British Columbia, has announced himself.

Nestor, 41, had for years been an inspiration to Pospisil, and more recently a mentor, friend and playing partner. The two combined for an incredible fiveset Davis Cup doubles victory last year in Vancouver, when Canada triumphed over Italy in part because of Nestor and Pospisil, whose final set required an astounding 28 games - 15-13 - to win.

Pospisil has faced the Bryans once before in doubles, at last year's U.S. Open, playing with Nestor and losing two sets to one in the round of 16. Nestor has since rekindled his winning ways this year, reunited with long-time partner Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia. But at Wimbledon the two lost in the quarter-finals.

It left Pospisil to carry the redand-white flag on the Wimbledon grass.

Between Pospisil and the 21year-old Nebraskan Sock, there was instant chemistry, unquantifiable sporting magic that can randomly bloom, and it carried the unseeded duo through some of the best teams in the draw at Wimbledon. After the win over the Bryans, Pospisil joked about their strategy: "Close your eyes and hope you have the game of your life."

On Tuesday, back home in Florida, Pospisil reflected on the title, a major win in a year during which little has gone right - he's suffered a long string of losses while struggling with an injured back. At Wimbledon, he said, he rediscovered the joy of playing tennis.

"We had a lot of fun on the court," said Pospisil on a conference call with reporters. "From the very first round, we were just laughing and enjoying ourselves and trying not to taking it too seriously, but at the same time wanting to win."

The Bryans saw it too. "The honeymoon period is sometimes, you know, tough to stop," said Bob Bryan after losing. His brother Mike added: "They've never lost a match together.

That's just the force of momentum. They have smiles on their faces. They're playing happy."

Pospisil's difficult first half of 2014 came after a strong 2013, when he shot up the singles rankings with play that included a semi-final appearance at the Rogers Cup in Montreal. He reached No. 25 in January, and has since slid to No. 33 - which is where he now also ranks in doubles, well above his No. 89 ranking at the start of the year.

A doubles victory at Wimbledon has reinvigorated his game, and Pospisil will continue to play this year with Sock, with a shot at the year-end championships, but it's not his priority.

"The focus is still strongly on singles," said Pospisil.

Still, even if it is all about singles, playing doubles helps. At the start of the year, Pospisil and his coach decided to put some additional focus on doubles, where Pospisil could work on play at the net, and on generally aggressive play - something he wanted to bolster in his singles game. As the tennis calendar turns toward North American events, Pospisil hopes doubles success will help revive his singles record.

Associated Graphic

Vasek Pospisil, left, and Jack Sock talk between points during the men's doubles final at Wimbledon on Saturday. The unseeded duo won.


Pujols lifts Angels with two-run shot
Pitching takes the day off as L.A. wins see-saw battle, taking rubber match of the three-game series
The Associated Press
Thursday, July 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S4

ANAHEIM -- As long as they have Albert Pujols at the plate in a clutch situation, the Los Angeles Angels are confident they can win any close game they trail in the late innings.

Pujols hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the seventh inning Wednesday and Kole Calhoun also connected, leading the Angels to an 8-7 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.

Los Angeles took the rubber game of the three-game series after starter C.J. Wilson was chased in the fourth inning.

"This team is finding ways to win, and we're not out of it until the game's over," Calhoun said.

"The bullpen came in and did a great job keeping us in the ballgame after the starting pitching didn't go as deep as they've usually been going. We came out and swung the bats and got enough runs to win."

The Blue Jays took a 7-6 lead in the sixth on Dioner Navarro's two-out RBI single against Fernando Salas, who made his second appearance since coming off the disabled list after missing 19 games because of inflammation in his shoulder.

Pujols responded with a drive that hit the top of the centre-field fence beyond the outstretched glove of Colby Rasmus and bounced over for his 20th homer of the season and 512th of his career, tying Ernie Banks and Eddie Mathews for 21st place alltime. It scored Mike Trout, who reached on a fielder's choice grounder after Calhoun drew a leadoff walk from Aaron Loup (2-2).

The homer was the first allowed by Loup this season after 431/3 innings.

"The curious thing was that they had the righty warmed up, and Albert hit that home run off a lefty. So we were like, 'Oh, awesome. They're leaving him in to face Albert,' and he came up with a huge homer," Wilson said. "So it was great for us. We have a tenacious team, and the nature of our clubhouse is that we always believe that it's going to happen."

Jason Grilli (1-1) pitched a scoreless inning for his first AL victory since 2009 with Texas, striking out cleanup hitter Jose Bautista with two on to end the seventh.

The 12-year veteran was acquired June 27 in a trade that sent Ernesto Frieri to Pittsburgh.

Joe Smith worked the ninth for his 12th save.

"We [threw] away a good opportunity today," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "We had the lead, coughed it up, then took a slim lead. So it was disappointing.

But hey, we left so many guys on base [12], and there comes a time you've got to blow open a game."

Marcus Stroman was charged with five earned runs and eight hits through 42/3 innings in his eighth big league start. The 23year-old right-hander's teammates staked him to a 6-3 lead with a five-run fourth, but David Freese scored on a wild pitch in the bottom half and Calhoun drove his 10th homer into the lower seats in the right-field corner.

"Early on against me, I felt like he was putting the ball anywhere he wanted to. But with a 2-0 count, I got a fastball that got a lot of the plate and I put a good swing on it," Calhoun said.

The Blue Jays parlayed three hits, two errors and a bases-loaded wild pitch into their five-run rally against Wilson. He was charged with six runs - three earned - and eight hits in 32/3 innings. He is 3-3 with a 5.70 ERA in 10 starts since May 17, when he threw 127 pitches in a five-hit shutout against Tampa Bay.

"I think my delivery was a lot better today and the ball was going where I wanted it a lot better," said Wilson, who gave up three homers in his previous start against Houston.

The Angels took a 2-0 lead in the second, capitalizing on a twobase error by shortstop Jose Reyes. Howie Kendrick and Freese each had an RBI single.

The Blue Jays got one run back in the third on a bases-loaded walk to Nolan Reimold.

Trout, thrown out by Melky Cabrera in left field Tuesday night as he tried to stretch a double, tested Cabrera's arm again in the third inning Wednesday and was cut down at home plate after Pujols's single.

Pujols scored on a single by Josh Hamilton that ended his 0-for-16 drought and gave the Angels a 3-1 lead.

Associated Graphic

Blue Jays infielder Munenori Kawasaki, right, is greeted by Erik Kratz after scoring after Nolan Reimold was walked with the bases loaded during the third inning on Wednesday in Los Angeles.


Wie shoots 68 to take three-shot lead at Pinehurst
Hawaiian's play had trappings of another runaway a week after Martin Kaymer won men's tournament, but Lexi Thompson closes in
The Associated Press
Saturday, June 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S5

PINEHURST, N.C. -- For all the interest in the men and women playing Pinehurst No. 2 in consecutive weeks, Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson made the U.S. Women's Open more closely resemble the first LPGA Tour major of the year.

Wie held it together with two key par putts and finished with back-to-back birdies for a two-under 68. Thompson powered her way out of the sand and weeds and ran off three straight birdies to match Wie for the lowest score Friday.

They were the only players still under par going into the weekend, perhaps setting up a rematch from the first major of the year. Thompson soundly beat Wie in the final round at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

"Definitely too early," Thompson said with a laugh. "Thirty-six holes in a major, that's a lot of golf to be played, especially at a U.S. Women's Open."

For now, Wie had control with a three-shot lead.

The 24-year-old from Hawaii twice thought her shots were going off the turtleback greens, and twice she relied on her table-top putting stance to make long par saves. She finished with a 6-iron that set up a 12-foot birdie putt, and a 15-foot birdie on the par-five ninth to reach four-under 136.

"End of the day yesterday, I was thinking if I just did this again, that would be nice," Wie said. "Finishing with two birdies is always great. It's a grind out there. It's not easy. Really grateful for the par putts that I made and some of the birdie putts that I made. I can't complain. I'll take it."

Just when it looked as if this had the trappings of another runaway - Martin Kaymer led by at least four shots over the final 48 holes to win the men's U.S. Open - along came Thompson with a shot reminiscent of what Kaymer did last week.

From the sand and bushes left of the fairway on the par-five fifth hole, Thompson blasted a 5-iron from 195 yards just off the green, setting up two putts for birdie from about 60 feet. Kaymer was in roughly the same spot in the third round when he hit 7-iron from 202 yards to five feet, that pin position more toward the front.

That was her third-straight birdie, and she closed with four pars to reach 139.

Pinehurst No. 2 wasn't in much of a giving mood on another warm day in the North Carolina sandhills, with a brief shower in the middle of the afternoon that didn't do much to soften a dry, crusty golf course.

Stacy Lewis, the No. 1 player in women's golf who opened with a bogey-free 67, picked up a bogey on her first hole in a wild round of six bogeys, three birdies and a tough 73. A two-time major champion, she saw the big picture.

"I hung around, and that's what you've got to do at this tournament," said Lewis, at even-par with Amy Yang (69) and Minjee Lee, the 18-year-old amateur from Australia who played bogey-free on the back nine to salvage a 71.

Lucy Li, the precocious 11-year-old and youngest qualifier in the history of the U.S. Women's Open, isn't leaving town until Monday. She just won't be playing any more golf. The sixth-grader from the Bay Area started with a double bogey for the second-straight day and shot another 78 to miss the cut.

The cut was nine-over 149.

No one was conceding anything to Wie or Thompson. What last week showed was a Pinehurst No. 2 that played about the same all four days, instead of some U.S. Opens where scores are thrown in reverse on the weekend. There's still plenty of time for players to chip away at par, and equal opportunity to lose even more ground.

"When you think seven shots, you think that's a lot," Karrie Webb said after battling for a 73, leaving her seven shots behind. "But really at the U.S. Open, I don't think that's too far out."

Na Yeon Choi had a 70 and was at one-over 141, followed by a Paula Creamer (72) at two-over 142. The group at 143 included Webb and So Yeon Ryu, who saved her hopes with three-straight birdies on the front nine, and narrowly missing a fourth. All of them are former Women's Open champions.

Seattle: not quite Great enough
Agent for Gretzky denies report claiming legend has joined group seeking team. League says expansion not in the cards for now
Tuesday, July 8, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S3

The agent for Wayne Gretzky is denying reports that the former National Hockey League great has joined a group of investors pursuing an NHL expansion team for Seattle.

"There is nothing to it ... zero," said Darren Blake in an e-mail.

"He had been approached by a couple groups a while ago, but none are anywhere close, and he certainly hasn't aligned with anyone. Seems as though Seattle has a long way to go before getting a team."

The NHL has made it clear it has an interest in Seattle as a possible market, provided all the logistics - a well-heeled owner, a fully funded modern arena - fall into place. Currently, the league has 16 Eastern Conference teams and 14 in the West, and NHL officials would eventually like to balance that out. Last fall, the Globe and Mail reported that Seattle and Las Vegas are the likeliest destinations for the NHL if it expands to 32 teams. But at a press conference during the Stanley Cup final last month, commissioner Gary Bettman stated plainly that expansion was not in the cards in the near future.

When the topic of expansion came up, Bettman said the NHL "is not planning on expanding."

The league is "not in an expansion mode or formal expansion process," he added. "We listen when people say, 'We'd like to come visit you and tell you why we're interested and where we're interested.' "

That was a veiled reference to a meeting Bettman had in May with a number of Seattle civic officials, including the mayor, Ed Murray, to get a sense of where things stood. Seattle's NHL hopes have always been tied to the possibility that a group led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen would get an NBA franchise for the market; he was pursuing the Sacramento Kings last year before local investors bought the team and kept it in the California capital. Hansen has said he is only prepared to finance a new arena if he has a firm commitment for an NBA team, and he'd like an NHL team as a partner in the enterprise.

However, the landscape shifted soon after Bettman's visit to Seattle. Hansen's primary financial backer, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, instead agreed to purchase the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers from Donald Sterling for $2-billion. It left the Hansen bid back at the starting line - no building, far less financing and no available NBA team ready to relocate to the Pacific Northwest. It is possible, and even likely, that will change eventually, but for the NHL at this moment, the matter has shifted to the back burner.

Gretzky, of course, has been a far more visible presence in the NHL ever since the league made him "whole" last year: It sold the Phoenix Coyotes to a group led by Calgary oilman George Gosbee, allowing Gretzky to be paid for his stake in the team. In January, Gretzky appeared at an outdoor hockey game at Dodger Stadium, and he also dropped the puck for the opening game of the Stanley Cup final between two of his ex-teams, the Los Angeles Kings and the New York Rangers.

The expectation is that he's looking for an entry-point to return to the league at a senior level, and was linked back in April to a possible role with the Washington Capitals.

Last month, Bettman acknowledged that Seattle "seems to have the most number of people interested," but added: "There's no building that's on the horizon.

The person who controls the rights to build a building in Seattle [Hansen] is intent upon having an NBA team before he builds a building. Based on what's happened to date and the fact that his partner [Ballmer] has now bought a different franchise, I don't know that there's any prospect of a building in Seattle.

"It's nice that there's interest, but there's really not a whole lot for us to do with it."

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Associated Graphic

An agent for former NHL great Wayne Gretzky says 'Seattle has a long way to go before getting a team.'


A closer look at five key stages of the Tour de France
The Associated Press
Friday, July 4, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S4

LEEDS, ENGLAND -- With more mountain stages, only one time trial, and cobblestones on the menu, there's an exciting smorgasbord of routes in store on the Tour de France.

The three-week race, which starts on Saturday in Leeds, features only 54 kilometres of timetrialing, all on the Tour's penultimate stage between Bergerac and Périgueux. This could disadvantage defending champion Chris Froome of Britain, who beat his main rival, Alberto Contador, in both of last year's individual time trials.

"Given the structure of the Tour this year and the diversity of all the different challenges - we've got the cobbles, we've got these tricky stages up here north, and we've got five summit finishes, we've got a 54-kilometre time trial - it's not possible to say that this guy is going to win," Froome said on Thursday.

Here's a look at five stages where the Team Sky leader and other contenders could win - or lose - the race:


Wednesday, July 9, Ypres, Belgium, to Arenberg Porte du Hainaut, France

At 155.5 kilometres, this stage is not particularly long. But it features nine patches of cobblestones, many of them familiar in the joint-jarring Paris-Roubaix one-day race. The key for the big guns will be to stay at the front of the pack to avoid crashes on a treacherous and dusty terrain usually tackled at a frenetic pace. Punctures are also frequent on cobblestones, and can end a rider's hopes of winning the race. Both Froome and Contador have carefully reconnoitered the stage, with the Spaniard having a final workout on the 15 kilometres of cobblestones this week. "Sensations over the cobbles have been very good," Contador said.


Monday, July 14, Mulhouse to Planche des Belles Filles

The first major test in the mountains. The 161.5-kilometre stage finishes in the ski resort where Froome got his first Tour stage win two years ago. It features seven tough climbs and a hilltop finish with a patch of super-steep, 20-degree gradient.

STAGE 14 Saturday, July 19, Grenoble to Risoul The Queen stage of the Tour. This 177-kilometre ride features two classic mountain passes, the Col du Lautaret and the Col d'Izoard, and ends with a summit finish in the Alps. The ascent to the ski resort is not the most difficult of the race, but riders will have been worn out by 31 kilometres on the slopes of the two mythical mountains beforehand.

STAGE 17 Wednesday, July 23, Saint-Gaudens to Saint-Lary (Pla d'Adet) The penultimate day in the mountains is a short 124.5-kilometre ride through the Pyrenees that will offer no rest to the peloton. After 50 relatively flat kilometres, the riders won't stop climbing and descending over three category-1 ascents - the Col du Portillon, Col de Peyresourde and Col de Val Louron-Azet - before the last climb to Pla d'Adet, which is so hard that it is defying cycling's ranking system for climbs. The race's final top three are likely to be known at the finish line.

STAGE 20 Saturday, July 26, Bergerac to Perigueux

At 54 kilometres, it is one of the longest time trials in recent Tour history. On the eve of the mostly ceremonial finale on Paris' Champs-Élysées, the race-againstthe-clock will be decisive if the mountains haven't been already.

The distance and the rolling terrain make the stage difficult.

After three weeks of racing, expect the TT specialists like Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland and Tony Martin of Germany to be challenged. Fatigue could also take its toll on the main contenders.

Djokovic outlasts Federer for second title
The Associated Press
Monday, July 7, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S3

LONDON -- Novak Djokovic won his second Wimbledon title and denied Roger Federer his record eighth by outlasting the Swiss player in five sets Sunday.

Djokovic wasted a 5-2 lead, and a match point, in the fourth set but held on for a 6-7 (7), 6-4, 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-4 Centre Court victory that returned the Serbian player to the No. 1 ranking.

It was Djokovic's seventh Grand Slam title and broke a streak of three consecutive losses in major finals and in five of his past six.

In the last set, Djokovic broke in the final game with the help of four mistakes by Federer to seal the win.

After the players met at the net, Djokovic went to the middle of the court, knelt down and plucked out a piece of grass and ate it, similar to what he did in 2011 when he won his first title here. Trailing 5-4 in the fourth set, Federer double-faulted to make it 30-30. He then put a backhand into the net to set up a championship point for Djokovic.

The 32-year-old Federer then hit a serve that was ruled out, but he challenged it and the Hawk-Eye replay showed that it hit the line for an ace - one of his 29 in the match. Federer went on to break in the next game before forcing a fifth set.

"I was hoping that Roger was going to miss the first serve, but that didn't happen," Djokovic said. "It rarely happens. That's why he has 17 Grand Slams and he's been the most successful player ever, because in important moments, he comes up with his best shots and top game."

Djokovic said it was difficult to stay focused heading into a deciding set.

"Of course, after dropping a fourth set, it wasn't easy to regroup and compose myself and find that necessary energy to win the fifth," Djokovic said. "I don't know how I managed to do it."

Federer said it was a dramatic match.

"You know going into a match with Novak, it's always going to be tough," Federer said. "It had everything for fans to like, the swing of momentum in the first set, him coming back in the second and third, all the back and forth in the fourth set and all the dramas in the fifth."

Boris Becker, a three-time Wimbledon champion and Djokovic's coach, paid tribute to both players. "Roger played unbelievable today," Becker said. "It's the best Roger I've seen in years and it could've gone either way in the fifth set. Novak digs deep and finds another way, his sense of not giving up, giving it always another try."

Djokovic had 27 unforced errors in the match while Federer had 29. Djokovic broke Federer four times while Federer converted three of his seven break points.

There had been only one service break through the first three sets before a string of three straight in the fourth as Djokovic took a 4-2 lead before holding serve again.

Cabrera's error hands A's a win, as Jays waste solid start from Stroman
The Associated Press
Saturday, July 5, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S4

OAKLAND -- Melky Cabrera couldn't corral Nick Punto's double with one out in the 12th inning, sending the Oakland Athletics to a 1-0 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday.

Derek Norris was walked by Chad Jenkins (0-1) leading off the 12th inning. After Jed Lowrie lined out, Punto hit a slicing double down the line in left.

Cabrera moved to his right to cut off the ball, which squirted by his glove for an error. Norris scored from first for an odd ending to a game highlighted by stellar pitching performances by starters Tommy Milone of Oakland and Marcus Stroman and both bullpens. Dan Otero (7-1), the fifth Oakland reliever to toss a scoreless inning, earned the win.

The pitchers quickly erased the few chances both teams had.

Stroman gave up three hits in seven innings. He struck out seven and walked three. Milone allowed four hits in six innings, striking out six and walking one intentionally. The left-hander is 6-0 in his past 11 starts and hasn't lost since May 3 at Boston.

Jose Reyes singled on the game's first pitch, but Milone didn't allow another hit until Steve Tolleson doubled on a pop fly leading off the fifth that landed between three players battling the bright sky, which caused problems all day. Tolleson advanced to third on the second of two groundouts before Milone struck out Reyes.

Shortstop Lowrie's fielding error extended the sixth for Toronto. But Milone rebounded the way he had all afternoon, striking out Brad Glenn to strand two. Stroman kept the A's offbalance and out of sync in similar fashion. He got some help from his defence, too.

With two on and two outs in the third, Cabrera made a diving catch on Yoenis Cespedes's liner to left. Cabrera grabbed his midsection and jogged gingerly backed to the dugout.

Josh Donaldson started a double play by fielding Edwin Encarnacion's grounder at third and threw from his backside to Punto at second base and the relay to first ended Toronto's eighth.

Toronto caught its own defensive break when Brandon Moss sprained his left ankle coming out of the box, and the Blue Jays easily turned a double play to end the bottom of the inning.Moss did not return.

Oakland's Ryan Cook, Fernando Abad, Sean Doolittle, Eric O'Flaherty and Luke Gregerson all pitched shutout innings.

Toronto's Chad Jenkins, Brett Cecil, Dustin McGowan and Aaron Loup combined to throw four runless innings.

Associated Graphic

Toronto infielder Edwin Encarnacion fields a ground ball against the Oakland Athletics on Friday. The Athletics triumphed 1-0 in 12 innings.


O'Shea refuses to take Ottawa lightly
The Canadian Press
Thursday, July 3, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S3

WINNIPEG -- Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Mike O'Shea may not know exactly what to expect from the Ottawa RedBlacks on Thursday, but he says there are a lot of reasons, including quarterback Henry Burris, not to look at them as just an expansion team.

"They're going to be well coached," he said of the RedBlacks, who play their inaugural regular-season game Thursday at Investors Group Field. "Their GM didn't hire guys that don't have CFL experience. These are all guys that are very well-versed in the CFL game. They're going to be well-prepared.

"The expansion draft saw them get a lot of good players. They've got a quarterback that passed for 50,000 [yards] and ran for five [thousand]. He was right up there for MVP of the league last year. I don't look at them as an expansion team."

He says he expects them to come out flying.

He says the Bombers will only be guessing at what the RedBlacks will bring, but that same uncertainty applies to all teams up to a point at the start of a season.

Veteran Winnipeg defensive back Johnny Sears seconds O'Shea's assessment of Burris, who took Hamilton to the Grey Cup final last year.

"They've got Henry Burris so you know they have a chance to win no matter who else they've got on the team, so that's a challenge in itself," said Sears, who will be competing against former teammate Jovon Johnson in Ottawa's secondary.

Burris, 39, shows no signs of slowing down. After 14 seasons in the CFL with Calgary, Saskatchewan and Hamilton, he has completed 3,672 passes for 51,526 yards and 324 touchdowns. He's rushed for another 5,033 yards and 55 touchdowns.

He earned two Grey Cup rings with the Stampeders, one in 1998 as a backup and another in 2008 as the starter.

The Bombers were also looking at Burris in the off-season, but he picked the expansion RedBlacks, who bring the nation's capital back to the CFL for the first time since 2005. The Ottawa Renegades, the short-lived replacement for the Ottawa Rough Riders, folded after just four seasons due to mounting losses.

Associated Graphic

Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Drew Willy, right, hands off to Nic Grigsby during their game against the Toronto Argonauts on June 26.


Moncton Mounties returning to duty in wake of shootings
Saturday, June 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A6

MONCTON -- Mounties in Moncton are starting to return to work after a roughly two-week break to regain their composure in the wake of the shootings that killed three of their comrades.

After the June 4 tragedy, the RCMP had sent outside reinforcements to stand in for local Codiac officers for mental-health reasons, but Mounties here are now trickling back to duty pending individual assessments.

Each of Codiac's 141 officers and dozens of support staff will be assessed by a health-services team, which includes doctors, nurses and psychologists, RCMP spokeswoman Constable Jullie Rogers-Marsh said.

"It's going to be a staggered process," she said. "

She wouldn't detail the assessment process, citing officers' privacy, but said Mounties will have continuing access to the health-services team should they find themselves in need of further support once back on the job.

Officers from elsewhere in New Brunswick and from other provinces have been in Moncton since the regimental funeral on June 10 if not longer, but those relief officers will soon no longer be required here.

Outside the funeral for the three fallen men - Constables Fabrice Gevaudan, Douglas Larche and Dave Ross - a Codiac officer expressed gratitude for his colleagues' willingness to assist in the coming weeks. The Mountie, who asked not to be named, alluded to the detachment's fragile psychological condition after the shootings.

"We just went through a traumatic experience," he said. "We can't just jump back on the street - people might have some sort of reaction."

In a statement to The Globe and Mail the day of the funeral, RCMP Superintendent Marlene Snowman, the officer in charge of the maritime Codiac detachment, confirmed her staff had been relieved for "mental health reasons."

It's time to rein in taxation by regulation
Friday, July 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B2

Brian Lee Crowley is the managing director of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, an independent non-partisan public policy think tank in Ottawa.

One day, a man walked into the café that my wife and I owned in Halifax and asked my wife if she "lived on the premises." After some preliminary skirmishing, she discovered that this man was on Her Majesty's Service and he was there to determine if we were entitled to write on the café window that our baked goods were "homemade."

We naively thought that the fact that she made all the stuff from scratch every day from her own recipes, often handed down from her grandmother, would be enough to pass muster. But no. Ottawa found it worthwhile to dispatch a civil servant to our café and announce haughtily that we could say "homestyle" or "housemade" (I promise you I am not making this up) but not "homemade." He gave us a week to fix our transgression and photographed the evidence of our shocking threat to the health and well-being of Canadians.

I was put in mind of this brush with the regulatory state by a fashion sweeping the policy-making world to become more business-friendly, not by cutting business taxes, but by reducing the burden of regulation.

My own view is that the distinction between tax burden and regulatory burden is superficial. Governments used to tax you and spend the money to hire people to put into effect their policies. Regulation, they have learned to their eternal delight, allows them to cut out the middleman. They don't need to take your money and use it to hire others to persecute you. They can use regulations to make you spend your own money on their policy objectives instead. "Regulation" is so abstract and sounds so reasonable and civic-minded that governments find that raising the regulatory burden gets the policy outcome they want without the opprobrium of raising taxes.

But how in practice might one rein in this regulatory passion of governments? By shining a bright light on the regulatory state and the costs it imposes on us all.

The torrent of regulation has now become so vast that, like the Saskatchewan floods, it has swept all before it. Parliamentarians have essentially given up the fight to scrutinize regulation - a shocking state of affairs when one remembers that one survey of outgoing MPs showed that many of them were confused or ignorant about what their true role is. They seem to think it is getting up on their hind legs in Question Period and making themselves objects of ridicule and contempt rather than being doughty defenders of our right to be free from unwarranted intrusion by the state.

To help them, we should have an annual regulatory budget, just as we do an annual financial budget. The financial budget directs public and parliamentary scrutiny to the money government intends to take from us to fund the state. But regulatory costs are every bit as real as the tax bill. By stealthily substituting regulation for taxation, government obscures its true cost. Let's make the government table a regulatory budget detailing how much time and money it plans to force citizens and companies to spend in pursuit of government policy - and let Canadians decide if that's a price they're willing to pay.

Such a budget requires tough, consistent and independent yardsticks for measuring the costs that regulations impose, so governments couldn't fiddle the regulatory books. A regulation that produces $10-million of benefit but costs $100-million in lost economic activity is a poor deal. We should make that cost-benefit relationship perfectly transparent.

Require by law that each regulation achieve its stated purpose at the lowest cost (in time and money) possible, and those who bear the burden of regulation could challenge regulatory absurdities directly in court.

We might consider a universal sunset provision. No regulation could be valid for more than, say, 10 years, unless put through the whole process afresh.

An Auditor-General of Regulation (AGR) could produce an annual report for Parliament highlighting a few areas of regulation (e.g. food safety, or airport security), cycling through all areas of government activity every five years or so. The AGR could work with the accounting profession and others to come up with those objective measures of regulatory costs and benefits we would need.

Finally, the federal government should assert its power to sweep away barriers to trade created by the provinces; they are an important part of Canadians' regulatory burden.

I'd be tempted to say this would be a Made in Canada solution, but some bureaucrat would surely appear to tell me that phrase is forbidden by the regulations.

What Canada's incredible shrinking trade deficit means
Friday, July 4, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B2

Canada's May trade numbers aren't enough to declare that a trade boom has begun. But they certainly take the sting out of April's stunning slump, which now seems to have been more an anomaly than an alarm bell.

Statistics Canada reported Thursday that the country's trade deficit shrank to $152-million in May, from April's $961million shortfall. Yes, it's still a deficit - and a far cry from the surplus of nearly $1-billion posted as recently as March - but it was better than the $300-million shortfall that economists had expected. And after April's scare (which, after a revision, now looks even worse than the originally reported $638-million deficit that stunned the market last month), it certainly comes as a relief to observers, especially those at the Bank of Canada, who are counting on a trade revival to light a sustainable fire under Canada's lukewarm economic recovery.

And if there's such a thing as a good deficit, this is what one looks like - with strength in both exports and imports. The value of exports jumped 3.5 per cent in May, while imports rose 1.6 per cent. And that was in a month when prices actually declined for both imports and exports; unlike some of the impressive gains seen earlier in the year, these weren't juiced by inflation.

On a volume basis, exports rose 4.2 per cent in the month - the biggest monthly advance since the start of 2012. Import volumes rose 2.4 per cent. It looks like a healthy dose of demand in both export and domestic markets - which for an economy looking for traction, is certainly encouraging.

Let's consider the bigger picture. The total value of exports in May was the second highest on record, behind July, 2008. On a volume basis, exports were their highest in seven years.

May's imports, both by value and by volume, were record highs - which is the only reason we're still talking about trade deficits.

Still, more goods coming in than flowing out is a drag on economic growth, which won't help already tepid expectations for the country's growth pace in the second quarter (most economists are calling for about 2 per cent annualized). It should be noted that while May's deficit beat expectations, it didn't beat them by enough to offset April's revised figure. The combined deficit for the two months, at $1.11-billion, is bigger than the $938-million that we would get by combining April's originally reported number with what economists had predicted for May. As a result, trade's contribution to second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) is tracking behind where we thought it would be.

That said, the trade surpluses of February and March have been revised upward substantially since they were originally reported (possibly reflecting data-gathering hiccups stemming from the dreadful North American winter). Taken all together, Canada is now showing a modest trade surplus of $390million for the year to date - representing the best five-month performance in more than two years.

Is it enough to begin to sway the Bank of Canada, which has long pointed to a recovery in exports as one of its cornerstones to a sustainable acceleration in Canada's economy?

Probably not. The choppiness of the data in the past few months, not to mention the recent sizable revisions (which could still change the May data significantly), will probably mean the central bank will want to watch for a few more months before being convinced. What's more, May's numbers were helped by strong rebounds in energy and consumer goods exports after a particularly weak April; those two segments, which together account for about one-third of all exports, won't see those kinds of gains every month.

The central bank will also be concerned about the Canadian dollar, which has gained almost 3 cents against its U.S. counterpart since the beginning of May.

The bank has argued that the dollar's declines in the past year were giving exports a muchneeded boost, but its recent reversal could now pose a threat to trade's momentum. Expect the bank to make note of the improving trade tone in its next monetary policy report in midJuly - but with sufficient caveats that its overall outlook won't warrant an upgrade just yet.

Associated Graphic

The Port Metro Vancouver terminal. Canada's trade deficit shrank to $152-million in May, from $961-million in April.


Why you should thank a short seller
Tuesday, July 8, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B2

The spectacular demise of Let's Gowex SA is evidence that the world needs more short sellers - especially now, as stock markets reach new heights.

The failure of the award-winning Spanish WiFi provider followed the publication last week of a report by Gotham City Research, which alleged that more than 90 per cent of its revenues were pure fiction. Over the weekend, the company declared bankruptcy and said its founder had been falsifying accounts for at least four years.

Gowex's epic face plant adds to the shame for Spain's stock market, following the failure last year of Pescanova SA, a packaged-seafood giant that filed for creditor protection after an audit discovered it was secretly running up enormous debts. But Europeans aren't the only ones to dabble in creative accounting, as the collapse of Sino-Forest Corp. demonstrates.

The Toronto-based company, which claimed to be one of the leading tree growers in China, slid into bankruptcy in 2012 after a report by short seller Muddy Waters Research alleged it was a fraud. Like Gowex and Pescanova, Sino-Forest had won plaudits from investment analysts not long before its downfall began.

How could the investment community get things so wrong? It's easy to say in retrospect that analysts missed obvious clues. But the real problem is one of motivation.

By and large, Wall Street and Bay Street have no desire to dig for dirt. After all, bad news generates no investment banking revenue.

That leaves the job of breaking ugly facts to short sellers - generally individuals or hedge funds who operate outside big investment firms. They make money by borrowing a company's shares, selling them, then buying them back to return to the original lender. If the stock price has declined in the interim, the short seller pockets the difference between his sale price and his purchase price.

There's nothing illegal about this arrangement, but it does raise nasty suspicions, most of them to do with the possibility that short sellers will spread false rumours to drive down a stock price - "short and distort," as it's known in the trade.

Such things do happen, no doubt. But as Gowex and SinoForest demonstrate, the short sellers are sometimes simply right.

In fact, short sellers seem to have an uncannily good eye for spotting trouble ahead. In a study of 454 U.S. firms that were disciplined for misrepresenting their financial statement, short sellers were typically on the case long before the authorities. They began to vigorously short the stocks as much as 19 months before the misconduct was officially revealed.

The authors of the study, finance professors Jonathan Karpoff and Xiaoxia Lou, argue that short sellers provide a service to every investor. Strong short selling can alert authorities to potential problems; it also helps put a lid on share prices, thus limiting the damage that can occur when a business is cooking its books.

To be sure, short sellers aren't angels. They're motivated by profit and sometimes overstep the bounds of decency.

Short sellers can also be wrong, or at least early. Just ask U.S. activist investor Bill Ackman, who is still looking for payoff on his big short against Herbalife more than a year and a half after he labelled the nutritional distributor a Ponzi scheme.

But the shorts help investors by bringing to light all the negatives that the perennially bullish Street likes to play down, especially in the middle of a roaring bull market.

The downfall of Gowex shows that a short seller can win just by asking the questions that other analysts glide past. Gotham City, a shadowy firm that has previously published negative research on a handful of other firms, divided Gowex's revenue by its number of employees and concluded that the business's per-employee sales were "far above nearly all other businesses in history" and simply too good to be true.

Gowex's CEO Jenaro Garcia fired back, saying the report was "categorically false." On Sunday, he confessed and tweeted, "I apologize to all. I am heartily sorry." But not as sorry as his investors.

Associated Graphic

Over the weekend, Spanish wireless networks provider Let's Gowex SA filed for bankruptcy.


The vast, untapped market of pet insurance
Oakville firm the latest player hoping to sell policies and expand in Canada
Saturday, June 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B5

BamBam, Tucker and Briar are just a few of the furry companions who come to work with their owners at Pets Plus Us each day, keeping the 30 staffers happy and better connected with customers calling to insure their pets.

Located in Oakville, Ont., Pets Plus Us is the latest player in the Canadian pet insurance business, seeking a greater share of the accident and illness policies increasingly being written for cats and dogs. The business is a subsidiary of insurer RSA Canada.

The growth of the niche pet insurance industry comes amid changes in the animal health care business as veterinary medicine becomes more expensive. There are 14 million cats and dogs in Canada, but less than 3 per cent of owners buy insurance for them, trailing more developed pet insurance markets, such as Britain, where more than one-quarter of pet owners buy policies.

That's poised to change, according to Randy Valpy, head of Pets Plus Us - who is referred to as the "top dog."

"We know there's a lot of other companies considering whether now is the time to get into this," Mr. Valpy says from his open concept headquarters as the office's lone cat, Bruin, walks alongside him. He thinks the industry could reach the 5- to 10-per-cent penetration range before 2020.

The North American pet insurance industry is estimated to be a $595-million market, according to a measurement of gross written premiums by the North American Pet Insurance Association (NAPIA). The amount of new businesses, and the number of insured pets has increased in the past five years.

Dogs and cats are living longer than ever as nutrition and animal medicine improves. "It wasn't that many years ago, if your pet came down with cancer, the scenario was you put it to sleep, whereas now you go through chemotherapy," Mr. Valpy said.

The rising cost of veterinary medicine has put more canine and feline owners in a position where they must put a price on their pet's life. Insurance policies spread out that risk over time, and reduce the sticker shock of invoices from veterinary clinics.

RSA's Pets Plus Us became Canada's fifth pet insurance provider when it launched in April, 2013. The five companies support 14 brands of pet insurance in Canada, underwriting policies offered by major retailers, such as the Hudson's Bay, President's Choice Financial and Wal-Mart. More of these so-called white-label solutions are likely to come to market in the future, insurers say.

Market growth for insurance providers "will come through increased education to consumers by tapping into the channels of our key influencers - veterinarians, breeders and shelters," said Rod Cunniam, interim president of the industry's oldest and largest cat and dog insurer Petsecure, a subsidiary of Western Financial Group. The company has covered more than 900,000 pets and paid over $140-million in claims in the past 25 years.

Insurers must first convince Canadian pet owners that they need the policies, especially since insurance here is more costly than other parts of the world because of market immaturity and claims patterns. In Britain, customers tend to make claims for major injury or illness expenses, rather than routine visits. In North America, customers are more likely to make frequent claims for small expenses, too, so loss ratios tend to be higher, Mr. Valpy said. Marketing costs are also higher in North America.

One advantage for the industry is that pet insurance is an easy product to sell online - where 40 per cent of the industry's sales happen. "All we need to know is species, breed and postal code - those are the three factors that drive pricing," Mr. Valpy said.

A pet living in downtown Toronto is going to be more costly to insure than one in a small town in Saskatchewan because the vet's overhead expenses are higher in the city. The average annual premium per pet insured for illness and accident in North America was $407.37 in 2013, NAPIA's measurement shows. That's far less than the cost of canine cancer, which can be thousands of dollars to treat.

Why investors may not want to hitch a ride with BlaBlaCar
Thursday, July 3, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B2

Nothing gets a capitalist heart beating faster than the thought of cashing in on socialism - at least, when socialism takes the form of the new "sharing" economy.

The latest beneficiary of the sudden passion for sharing goods and services among complete strangers is the wonderfully named BlaBlaCar, a French Web app that connects travellers looking for cheap transportation to drivers who have empty seats.

It raised $100-million (U.S.) from venture investors on Wednesday, a huge amount for what amounts to an automated hitchhiking service.

Yet despite the success of its financing efforts, BlaBlaCar looks positively downscale compared to other sharing services. Airbnb Inc., a service that lets you rent out your spare room, your house - or even your couch - has raised more than $800-million and is being valued at $10-billion. Uber, another car-sharing service, just raised $1.2-billion in a financing that puts a price tag of $17-billion on the entire company.

Enthusiasts argue these firms have found a sweet spot in an economy where online tools can quickly match up people who have unused stuff and people who would like to rent that stuff for a brief time. The bulls have a point - but anyone who's tempted to invest at today's valuations should consider the spotty history of earlier attempts to build a sharing economy.

Remember Zipcar Inc.? The car-sharing service, which allowed its members to rent vehicles by the hour, seemed to offer a great alternative to car ownership for people living in dense, urban neighbourhoods.

When it went public in 2011, it quickly soared to a market capitalization of more than $1-billion. But when it failed to generate a consistent profit, its share price tumbled and it was acquired by Avis Budget Group last year for less than half its peak valuation.

Or how about the timeshare resort industry? The notion of buying a part interest in a vacation property has always made sense - sort of. Problem is, no company has ever been able to make the business pay off in the way that theory would suggest.

The industry is better known for high-pressure sales tactics than spectacular investor returns.

The lacklustre history of earlier sharing efforts isn't necessarily a death knell for BlaBlaCar, Airbnb or any of the other current entrants in the field. But they do suggest that it's not easy to build a business that is based on having myriad unrelated people divvy up a resource.

One problem is that businesses that are premised on sharing things don't always generate huge savings for users, perhaps because of the amount of administration required. Based on my experience, renting a Zipcar vehicle for a day isn't always cheaper than renting one through a traditional car rental company.

Similarly, numerous reviewers who have tried Uber, the trendy car-sharing app, conclude that it is often - but not always - cheaper than hailing a cab. In both cases, the quality of service can vary a lot.

The savings that are generated by some sharing services reflect the fact that they're unregulated - and any company in the sector has to deal with the threat that government is unlikely to leave them unregulated if they grow large enough.

In New York, Airbnb has been forced to strike a deal with regulators who suspect that people who rent out part of their homes through the service are concealing income and perhaps violating state housing laws. Uber has been the target of protests by London cabbies; it is also under pressure from several local regulators in the United States who claim it is running an unlicensed taxi service.

Even if these companies succeed in winning regulatory approval for their businesses, they face another hurdle: increased competition.

Uber is already battling rivals such as Lyft and Sidecar, not to mention BlaBlaCar. Airbnb is going up against VRBO and Wimdu.

In a sharing economy, profits, too, may be shared. And that doesn't bode well for investors who overpay for a slice of any of these companies.

National securities regulator won't fly until key provinces sign on
Thursday, July 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B2

If, as Canada's Finance Minister Joe Oliver says, the addition of Saskatchewan and New Brunswick to the Co-operative Capital Markets Regulatory System is a "major step" toward the federal Conservative government's dream of a national securities regulator, then clearly "major" has become a relative term on this file.

While Ottawa has added two tiny provinces (in financial market terms) to the agreement-inprinciple, the four biggest players remain stubbornly reluctant to co-operate - including two who have already signed on to the plan.

The announcement Wednesday has brought the total number of provinces and territories who have embraced the plan to four (Ontario and British Columbia were part of the deal from its inception last September). While the national-regulator pact can boast jurisdictions where threequarters of the country's publicly listed companies and more than half the total market capitalization are based, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick contribute almost nothing to that achievement: Combined, they represent only about 2 per cent of the country's public listings by market cap. Getting them on board is more a symbolic victory than a statistically significant one.

It would appear that, in the vein of a TV marketing pitch, Ottawa sweetened the pot with an added gift at no additional charge for these two early-bird buyers. By acting now, each will get a regional deputy regulator based in its province. That's a perk it won't be able to extend to other smaller regulatory jurisdictions.

None of it will mean much unless the two big holdouts come into the fold - Quebec and Alberta, who together represent roughly 40 per cent of Canada's public listing by market cap.

Without them, Ottawa and its provincial partners might be able to cobble together a cross-country regulatory framework, but nothing close to a truly national one. It might be less cumbersome than the current 13-jurisdiction system (10 provinces and three territories), but with those two huge gaps, only marginally so.

Meanwhile, last September's promised co-operative spirit between Ontario and B.C. isn't faring so well in reality. In March, the two failed to harmonize proposed new rules governing crowdfunding, instead unveiling two decidedly different plans.

And just last week, B.C. refused to join the Ontario Securities Commission's proposal for new reporting requirements regarding representation of women on corporate boards - even though six other provinces and two territories are adopting Ontario's plan.

If the two provinces can't agree on these relatively small issues, how are they going to agree on fully harmonizing their regulatory systems under the national plan's timelines that, in political terms, are looking pretty short (legislative approval by the end of this year, the new regulator up and running by July 1, 2015)?

While Quebec and Alberta both publicly dismissed the national regulator plan (again) in response to the Saskatchewan/New Brunswick announcement, we may actually have entered a rare (albeit perhaps small) window for coaxing the two into the fold, in that both are under new management. Quebec has a new Liberal government after its April election, and Alberta will select a new premier through the Progressive Conservatives' September leadership vote, as a result of Premier Alison Redford's resignation in March. It suggests an opportunity for Ottawa to extend an olive branch to these two key holdouts, to reopen a dialogue that has been going in the wrong direction lately. (Indeed, Alberta Finance Minister Doug Horner complained that Mr. Oliver didn't even extend him the courtesy of giving him a heads-up in advance of Tuesday's announcement and the accompanying amendments to the national regulator proposal.)

But it's all a non-starter unless the two other big provinces who have already teamed up on this can develop the kind of co-operation needed to integrate their regulatory systems and make this thing work. Achieving that would be a more meaningful step than getting a couple of junior partners to sign the dotted line.

Betting against Canadian banks is always a bad idea
Wednesday, July 9, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B2

Are the world's bank watchers re-evaluating their long love affair with Canadian financial institutions?

It certainly appears that way, if the latest downbeat assessment from Moody's Investors Service is anything go by.

The big bond-rating agency has changed its outlook on Canada's banking system to negative from stable on the grounds Ottawa has no appetite to bail out too-big-to-fail institutions using taxpayers' money in the event of a crisis. Instead, the government is proceeding with a so-called bail-in strategy that could force bondholders to shoulder part of the burden of any future restructuring.

The rating agency signalled this sentiment shift a month ago when it similarly downgraded its outlook to negative on senior debt and uninsured deposits of the seven biggest banks, which control a whopping 93 per cent of the assets in the financial system.

Never mind that none of Canada's well-regulated banks needed such emergency relief even during the darkest days of the global financial meltdown and the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

And ignore the fact that this country's cozy financial oligopoly is better capitalized and more profitable than ever.

The major Canadian banks emerged with a flood of admirers and a rather overblown reputation as paragons of banking virtue, a model for the rest of world to follow. Moody's hasn't veered far from that script, acknowledging that Canada retains one of the world's highest-rated banking systems and that "the banks' strong capital positions provide significant capacity to withstand unexpected stresses."

But the debt monitor is paid to warn bondholders about the possibility of any heightened risks to the safety of their investments, and the federal government's crisis strategy counts as one. The result could be a slightly higher cost for future bank financings.

Moody's has raised the caution flag over Ottawa's bail-in plan, under which senior bondholders could get dinged in a restructuring through the rapid conversion of certain debt instruments into equity capital.

The change in outlook "reflects our view that the Canadian government's plan to introduce a bail-in regime for senior debt, combined with the accelerating global trend towards explicit inclusion of burden-sharing with senior debtholders as a means of reducing the public cost of bank resolutions, could reduce the predictability of support being provided to the senior debtholders and uninsured depositors of the large Canadian banks," Moody's warns.

This isn't the first time some expert has decided the Canadian banks are more vulnerable than they used to be.

Last year, a handful of intrepid hedge fund speculators became convinced that one or more of Canada's financial juggernauts would come to grief as the housing bubble finally blew up, the slide in resources steepened and record consumer debt ratios took a heavy toll. They took a bath on their short bets.

To keep the good times rolling, Canadian banks are expanding other business channels, including wealth management, and increasing their exposure in the U.S. and other foreign markets where the battered local competition has left opportunities. TD and BMO are particularly well-positioned to take advantage of a sturdier recovery of demand in the U.S. market.

That, too, raises concerns, Moody's says.

"The risks associated with the banks' diversification strategies, which dilute their strong domestic credit profiles, are reflected in their current ratings but still represent a growing risk to the stability of the Canadian banking system."

Maybe so. But betting against the banks remains a bad investment idea.

Associated Graphic

Moody's has downgraded its outlook on Canada's banking system, which could result in higher costs for future financings.


Shaw to apply for national all-news channel
Saturday, July 5, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B2

TORONTO -- Shaw Media is making plans to launch a national TV news channel called Global News 1.

In filings to the CRTC, the media division of Shaw Communications Inc., which operates Global Television, says it wants to launch a "hybrid local/national" Englishlanguage news channel.

A brief outline of the plans were included in Shaw's submission to the broadcast regulator as part of the CRTC's formal consultation on the evolution of the broadcasting system.

Global News 1 would fall under "Category C" guidelines, which cover all-news channels like the CBC News Network, CTV News Channel, RDI and the Sun News Network.

If approved, cable and satellite companies would have to offer their customers the option of subscribing to the new Global channel, though it would not be a mandatory part of basic cable packages.

Shaw told the CRTC that its application will be for "a service that will expand and diversify the amount of news and informationrelated programming in the Canadian broadcasting system."

"There is no specialty news service that currently provides such a service in this country, namely the provision of uniquely local reflection," it added.

While Shaw didn't outline exactly how its proposed news channel would operate, it's likely the company would tap into the assets of numerous local TV stations it owns across the country.

Shaw also operates a regional news channel in British Columbia called Global News BC 1.

Under its planned business model, the national news channel would help financially support local programming, Shaw told the regulator.

A spokeswoman for the broadcaster declined to discuss the plans until after the licence application is finalized.

Last week, the CRTC wrapped up a formal interventions process on the future of Canadian television, which collected comments from Canadians and the industry.

Shaw made a few recommendations to the CRTC over changes to how it classifies news channels.

The company said the regulator should "introduce minimum thresholds to ensure that only truly national news services benefit from must-carry privileges."

The list of requirements it believes the regulator should enforce include reporters posted in at least nine of the 13 provinces and territories, additional people based overseas to tell stories from a Canadian perspective, and at least 16 hours a day of original news coverage.

"In addition to imposing these requirements on new services, at licence renewals, the commission should consider whether existing services meet these criteria," Shaw suggested to the regulator.

Sun News Network has been criticized by some outsiders for its limited on-the-ground reporting, heavy editorializing of news coverage and repackaging of content from international news outlets.

Shaw (SJR.B) Close: $27.62, down 16¢

Nordion shares jump as takeover passes hurdles
Saturday, July 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B2

Shares of iconic Canadian medical isotope maker Nordion Inc. jumped Friday after the proposed takeover of the firm by an American company passed two key hurdles.

Nordion is in the process of selling itself for about $800-million to Sterigenics International Inc., an Illinois-based company that specializes in sterilization services for medical device makers, as well as pharmaceutical and food companies.

Nordion stock rose more than 4 per cent on the TSX (closing at $13.89) after the company said it had received a "no action" letter from the Competition Bureau in Ottawa, and that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission had ended the waiting period under antitrust legislation.

That means Canada's competition watchdog does not intend to challenge the sale, and the U.S. government sees no problem with it either.

Nordion's stock price had slipped in recent weeks below the $13 (U.S) Sterigenics has agreed to pay for the shares. It is now trading at roughly the takeover price, indicating that investors are now more comfortable that the deal will go through without problems.

In early June, Nordion shareholders voted 76.4 per cent in favour of the deal. Two-thirds support was necessary for the sale to go through. Later that month, the federal government enacted legislation that relaxed foreign ownership restrictions on Nordion, allowing it to be sold to a foreign owner.

But the string of conditions is not yet complete. The deal still needs approval under the Investment Canada Act. The company hopes everything will be in place well before the end of the year.

Nordion was created almost seven decades ago as the radium sales department of Eldorado Mining and Refining Ltd. It took over the sale of radio isotopes from the nuclear research facility at Chalk River, Ont., before becoming part of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. in the 1950s.

It was part of MDS Health Group for two decades before being spun off as a standalone public company in 2010.

Nordion currently has two core businesses: selling systems that use radiation to sterilize medical devices and foods, and the processing of medical isotopes for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases.

Until 2012, Nordion was a dividend play for investors with a yield of around 4 per cent. Everything changed in September, 2012, however, when the company lost a crucial arbitration case against AECL, which still supplies it with isotopes.

Nordion (NDN) Close: $13.89, up 63¢

Housing data likely to show signs of slowing construction growth
Monday, July 7, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B2

Two reports this week may help ease concerns of overbuilding in Canada's housing market.

First, Statistics Canada on Monday releases its report on building permits issued across the country, which BMO Nesbitt Burns forecasts will show an increase of 3 per cent in May, compared with April's 1.1 per cent. But the May number is expected to be driven by permits for nonresidential construction.

More important, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.'s Wednesday report on housing starts is projected to show a drop in the number of residential real estate units that launched in June.

What will be widely watched is whether construction starts fell back into line with the pace of increase in the number of households being formed in Canada.

That is what's expected in the wake of May's report, which showed a much higher annual rate of 198,300.

That annual pace is believed to have eased to somewhere between 181,000 and 190,000, based on the forecasts of several economists.

"Housing starts look to pull back to 185,000 units annualized in June, slightly below the 12month average of 190,000," said BMO senior economist Benjamin Reitzes. "That's more or less in line with household formation, which should ease fears of excess building."

Notably, National Bank Financial expects to see a drop in Montreal and Toronto in starts on condo construction, an area of particular concern.

Most Canadian economists, and the Bank of Canada, believe the overall housing market is heading for a soft landing, rather than a meltdown.

"Canada's housing market continues to defy skeptics, with a solid spring selling season and rising prices," Mr. Reitzes said.

"The construction side is in decent shape as well, settling into a soft landing."

Economists at CIBC World Markets expect to see that the pace of starts slowed to only 181,000 in June, a rate "not very far" from the trend they predict for the rest of 2014. "The Canadian housing market has remained relatively robust, despite many calling for a slowdown, or even a collapse," they said in a research note.

"And with many mortgage lenders competing with increasingly attractive financing rates, all while the Bank of Canada stands pat on rates until the latter half of 2015, a sharp rotation from housing to exports and investment isn't likely."

Fearless belief in herself propels Bouchard
Since her earliest days in tennis, Montrealer has had a relentless and uncompromising devotion to winning Grand Slam titles
Monday, July 7, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S3

MONTREAL, TORONTO -- Talented kids by the hundreds have clicked through the turnstile at Club de tennis de l'Ile-des-Soeurs, all carrying tennis bags stuffed with racquets, sneakers and big ambitions.

Many have oozed swagger and potential, but who could predict that one of them would make it to a Wimbledon final by age 20.

A pint-sized Eugenie Bouchard would troop into the club on Nun's Island, south of downtown Montreal, usually with her mother and twin sister Beatrice. The girls began tennis there at age five, in an introductory class that got the little ones moving first with hoola hoops and balloons.

While her sister and the other youngsters found whimsy in that, to Bouchard it felt like a humdrum opening act, as she burned to get at the racquets and yellow balls.

Saturday, Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic beat Bouchard 6-3, 6-0 in the women's final in 55 minutes to claim her second Wimbledon title.

By now, even casual fans know about Bouchard's upbringing in the affluent Montreal enclave that is Westmount, Que., the fact her parents named her and Beatrice after the Duchess of Kent's daughters, and she honed her talents between Montreal's national training centre and Plantation, Fla., where she has worked with coach Nick Saviano since she was 12. What's less discussed is the quality that sets her apart.

Those who have rubbed elbows with Bouchard longest cite a confluence of factors that explain her meteoric rise, starting with obvious athletic talent.

But more so, they stress, since her earliest days in the sport, she has had a relentless and uncompromising devotion to winning Grand Slam titles, and a fearless belief in herself versus any opponent. Despite her eyecatching looks, smiling articulate persona and growing global celebrity, Bouchard is a stone-cold killer on the court.

"Genie had this competitive streak and was never satisfied, always wanted to hit more balls," said her mother Julie Bouchard in a phone interview with The Globe and Mail last summer. "So it became a growing commitment, two hours a week, three hours a week. By Grade 3 she was going every day; in another year, she was starting to leave school a bit early so she could do a private lesson before the group. Then she went to regular school until the middle of Grade 7, and then we moved to Florida.

It was a long slow process but the interest and fire and competitiveness were always there."

At 9, Bouchard won a qualifying event in Montreal to get into a 12-and-under tournament in France. The fire intensified then within the youngster.

"I beat 12-year-olds to get there, and it really opened my eyes about what I could do," Bouchard recollected to The Globe during an off-season interview in Florida. "It was the first time I had ever left North America and I was doing it to go play tennis because I earned my way there. In France, I realized I want to travel the world and play tennis as a career."

Her confidence struck Ralph Platz the first time he met her at an under-12 national selection event in Edmonton, a man who became her coach on Canada's national junior team.

"I went over and asked what her name was. She looked at me like she was almost disgusted that I didn't know who she was.

She put her hand on her hip and said 'I'm Eugenie Bouchard,' and walked off," said Platz, who coaches rising talents at Montreal's National Tennis Centre.

When the players at the camp were asked about their goals, Bouchard declared "to win Grand Slams."

Platz is reminded of the 2005 Junior Fed Cup World Championships in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, when Bouchard was training with the Canadian girls' team and they were doing wind sprints. One of the other players kept winning.

"She wasn't having it," said Platz, who remembers that Bouchard kept asking for one more race, over and over again, wanting to keep going until she could win one. "At one point I just had to stop them."

And how did Bouchard perform on the court that week?

"She won every match she played," Platz said.

The highly reputed focus extended beyond the court.

Michael Cristofaro, the principal of Westmount High School, remembers a driven young woman with outstanding commitment and determination, but who was nevertheless sociable.

The school offered a flexible curriculum that allowed her to travel for tennis; she didn't complete her diploma at the same time as her peers but enrolled in a distance education program, determined to finish.

"She had pretty much the same personality then that she has now," said Cristofaro.

The same personality carried through, as did the same dream.

She admits to looking at her twin sister sometimes to see a very different life from her own.

"We're very different, but very close, and because she is exactly my age, I see what my life would be like if I wasn't playing tennis," said Bouchard, who also has a younger sister and brother.

"She's normal, I'm abnormal - that's how I see it. It's cool having someone exactly your own age in your family."

The family's schedule was often dictated by Bouchard's growing commitment to training with Saviano, who was also coaching others destined for the WTA, like American Sloane Stephens and Brit Laura Robson.

The junior ranks are brimming with players who believe they're destined for the pros, but only a select few make it out. Juniors have to call their own lines when competing there, and some desperate ones cheat and intimidate, often those from less-fortunate countries who believe tennis is their only way out.

"You have to get through those years - imagine little league or soccer without an umpire - tennis is like that when they call their own lines at a young age," said her mother. "But it toughened her up."

Coaches often say that from an early age, Bouchard had a unique ability to take in coaching without complaint.

"She was special, very unique, in her desire to receive information at an early age - to really want information - then apply that information right away," said Sylvain Bruneau, Canada's Fed Cup coach, who has had a part in Bouchard's development since she was 12. "She's always been relentless about improving.

She has a really special mind."

She spent the last five weeks of 2013 working in the gym, racing against herself up hills on sandy beaches and honing her game on courts around Southeast Florida from Plantation to Boca Raton.

"A lot of athletes just trust and don't question what we plan to do in the gym, but Genie would challenge me on a daily basis "why am I doing this exercise, how will this make me better?', because she really wants to understand, and then she totally buys in," said Andy Hanley, a strength and conditioning coach who worked with her at The Chamber, a Florida gym that also has NFL clients. "I never fear for her when she's in competition, because she's competing against herself every day in training, and the expectations she has for herself are so high."

Bouchard is striking as opportunity knocks, chasing after the top prizes on a WTA Tour that is ripe for a new headliner. At the top of the tennis world, every athlete is gifted technically, but what separates good from great are intangibles like toughness, confidence, and relentlessness.

She's sometimes blunt in her post-match press conferences.

Does this rapid success surprise her, she's repeatedly asked.

No, she often says in a frank way. She's been chasing this since she was five. She doesn't feel out of place beside the more experienced women. She feels deserving.

Bouchard's old coach Platz offered this insight while explaining Bouchard's fearlessness: working with one of his current pupils recently, he stopped her to point out that the situation called for aggressive play. The player went for an audacious shot and missed, then became more conservative.

"I told her that in that situation Genie would be aggressive, even if it didn't work, and that she would keep being aggressive until it did, until she could make the shot," Platz said. "Genie will be aggressive in a given situation because it's the right thing to do, and she'll keep doing it."

Associated Graphic

Eugenie Bouchard plays a return to Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic during their women's singles final at Wimbledon Saturday. Kvitova won in two sets that took only 55 minutes.


Tuesday, July 08, 2014


A Monday sports story on Eugenie Bouchard incorrectly said she and her twin sister, Beatrice, were named after the Duchess of Kent's daughters. In fact, it was the Duchess of York's daughters.

Brazil will do anything to win
Hometown team has many admirable traits, but its under-penalized beat-down tactics aren't one of them
Saturday, July 5, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S5


A head of their first four games, the city cleared out before Brazil played. Shops closed.

Streets emptied. Traffic vanished.

But after having spent a week preparing for the very worst, Rio was determined to make hay while the soccer sun still shone.

Hundreds of thousands of locals were out in the minutes before kickoff, lighting off fireworks, making themselves heard.

This was not an entirely hopeful display. It had the slightly hysterical feel of a wake.

They needn't have worried.

Following a 2-1 quarter-final victory over Colombia, everything is finally lining up for Brazil. The team looks renewed. Also, all the people they might expect help from - most importantly, the frothing home crowd and the onfield officials cowed by their fervour - are doing their utmost to push this nervy side toward the hexa.

They scuttled through the group stage looking terrified. The sight of several team leaders weeping before crucial penalties against Chile unsettled the entire country.

Reasonable questions were asked about the side's mental fragility. All of Brazil had found something to agree on - their team was in the midst of cracking.

Facing that relentless pressure, the team arrived on Friday night ready to take all reasonable steps to stop a rampant Colombian side. Also, several unreasonable ones.

The key problem was Colombia's play maker, James Rodriguez. Brazil had a plan to reduce his effectiveness - beat him flat.

Again and again, Brazilian midfielders - in particular, Fernandinho - went flying into Rodriguez professional-wrestling style. The Colombian is renowned for his flat aspect on the pitch. Twenty minutes into this game, he was a shrieking, red-faced basket case.

As this pattern was emerging, so was the game's most remarkable performer: Spanish referee Carlos Velasco Carballo.

A soccer game that starts out chippy must be reined in, or it will degenerate. This one started out brutal, and Velasco Carballo did nothing to dissuade Brazil's bully tactics. His reticence actively encouraged them.

One half-expected to see a Brazilian out on the field beating an opponent with a pool cue, while Velasco Carballo stood alongside, shaking his head sadly and saying, "All right, final warning." In a game that featured 54 fouls - 54! - the Spaniard did not start pulling out cards until the second half.

Even then, the ones he handed out were almost all wrong.

This would have been nothing more than a choppy slugfest if Colombia had not swooned early under the onslaught.

In the ninth minute, a total collapse at the back allowed Silva to walk in on a corner kick and tap the ball in at the far post. He ran for the corner flag, pointing angrily at his badge and screaming in to the crowd. Best guess at what that psychologist told him: "Don't let 200 million people walk all over you all the time."

From that point on, the Brazilians were at their most commanding - relentless, determined and savage.

In our imaginations, this country is a footballing artists' collective, dipsy-doodling around the field until they feel like scoring.

That's a shared cultural memory from those half-remembered Brazilian sides of the seventies, and it's wrong.

In actuality, Brazil is now and always has been a profoundly skilled and shamelessly cynical set-up. It will do anything it takes to win games. Which is why it wins them with such regularity.

Brazil fully embraced that darkness for the next 80 minutes. Fernandinho and his gang chased Rodriguez around the field, devastating him with sneaky hip checks and heel clips.

Meanwhile, the Brazilians were laid out across the park like patients in some super-fit triage unit. In one instance, David Luiz was clipped on the right leg, and went down clutching his left. In another, Maicon was nicked on the back of his head, and hit the ground grabbing his face.

There is a lot to admire about this Brazilian team. It'd be easier to notice if they weren't all such shameless frauds.

Meanwhile, Colombia continued to wander around disconsolately, looking for Rodriguez to do something from his back. Brazil scored a second with 20 minutes remaining. It seemed over. The city began to celebrate.

With 15 minutes left, Rodriguez finally found a yard of space and sent a cutting pass into the Brazilian area. Goalkeeper Julio Cesar was out quickly, missed the ball entirely and scythed down Colombia's Carlos Bacca. That's a red card every time. So, of course, Velasco Carballo showed Cesar yellow.

After slotting the resultant penalty, Rodriguez wheeled away with the ball in his hands. The cameras caught an enormous, green ... grasshopper? Praying mantis? ... clinging to his arm.

The Colombians weren't just fighting Brazilians. They were fighting every living thing in Brazil.

Colombia continued to kick in the dying moments, but Brazil sat on them until they passed out.

Poor Colombia. They lost this game before the anthems were finished, and didn't realize it until the end. This time, it was Rodriguez in tears.

Rio erupted at the final whistle.

Fireworks were going off like artillery for 10 solid minutes.

They'll wake up with an awful hangover. Silva took an unforgivably silly second-half yellow for clipping the Colombian 'keeper on a goal kick and will be suspended for the next game. Their talismanic forward, Neymar, was taken off late on a stretcher. The team doctor said Friday night that Neymar has a fractured vertebra and will miss Tuesday's semi-final against Germany.

You could not pick two more important players to lose, but maybe Brazil shouldn't worry.

After Friday's display, one does get the feeling that the fates - as well as much stronger forces - are lining up behind a home winner.

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Associated Graphic

Brazil's Neymar is carried off the pitch after being injured during the quarter-finals on Friday. The team doctor says he has a fractured vertebra and will miss Tuesday's semi-final against Germany.


Breaking down Toronto's midseason tailspin
Wednesday, July 9, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S3

It was only about a month ago that the Toronto Blue Jays were on top of the baseball world.

They were the hottest team in Major League Baseball, winners of six straight after beating the St. Louis Cardinals 3-1 on June 6 to improve their record to 38-24.

That was Toronto's 20th victory in a 24-game span, the best streak in franchise history, vaulting the Blue Jays to the top of the American League East by a seemingly comfortable six-game margin.

With a torrid display of power hitting, Edwin Encarnacion was being mentioned in the same breath as Mickey Mantle; Jose Bautista was enhancing his reputation as one of the game's best all-around performers; and no one could argue that John Gibbons was an early candidate for manager of the year.

How quickly things have changed.

The once-feared offence that carried the Blue Jays to the top of the standings has lost its potent pop, and Toronto has dropped 20 of its past 29 games. That includes a season-worst five in a row culminating with a 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Monday night.

Heading into play on Tuesday, the Blue Jays' record was 47-44, and they have tumbled into second place in the AL East, three games behind the Baltimore Orioles.

Here is what went wrong.

The offence

For the past month, it has basically been non-existent.

Since reaching their high-water mark June 6, the Blue Jays offensive production over the next 29 games has dipped to 3.3 runs per outing. That represents a drastic decrease from the 5.5 runs per game the team scored over a 35game span beginning May 1.

Toronto's team batting average also declined considerably, to .234 from .277.

Toronto's offensive problems were highlighted over the past weekend in Oakland, where they were swept in the four-game series while being outscored 14-4 by the A's.

That tied the Blue Jays all-time mark for fewest runs scored in a four-game series.

Through the first five games of their current road trip - all losses - the Blue Jays were outscored 19-6. They scored two runs or less in five consecutive games for the first time since a run that ended Sept. 3, 1996.

The injuries

June 22 may well go down as the day the season was lost.

In Cincinnati for an interleague series against the Reds, that was the day the Blue Jays lost two key starters - Bautista and Brett Lawrie - to injury.

Lawrie, whose 12 home runs on the year already represented his single-season best, and who was being used at both third and second base, suffered a broken right index finger after being hit by a pitch. He is not expected back until August at the earliest.

Bautista, Toronto's all-star right fielder, then left the game with a strained left hamstring. He was hitting .305 at the time, with 15 home runs and 49 RBI and had an on-base percentage of .433. Bautista missed six games before the club started to ease him back into the lineup, first as a pinch-hitter, then as the designated hitter as his injury healed.

On Monday, Bautista made his second consecutive start at first base, but his offence has been clearly compromised by his injury; he's hitting just .179 since his return.

Then there is Encarnacion, who is among the major league leaders in both home runs (26) and runs batted in (70). He suffered a right quadriceps strain during last Saturday's game in Oakland and has been placed on the disabled list.

In May, Encarnacion put the Blue Jays on his back, leading them to the top of the standings by hammering 16 home runs, which set a Toronto franchise record and tied him with Mantle for the all-time AL record for the month.

Lefty blues

When the struggling Chicago White Sox came to play the Blue Jays in a four-game series in lateJune, the Blue Jays pummelled them 7-0 in the opening game with right-hander Scott Carroll starting for the visitors.

The White Sox sorted things out after that, sending left-handed starters to the mound for the next three games. The result was three straight Chicago victories.

The White Sox figured out what the rest of MLB has come to realize - that the Blue Jays struggle against southpaws. In those final three games against the White Sox, the Blue Jays managed just 2.3 runs per game and had a team batting average of .200.

On the year, the Blue Jays are hitting just .229 against lefty pitching, the second worst batting average among major league teams. Against right-handers, the Blue Jays are hitting .266.

Toronto first baseman/designated hitter Adam Lind, who bats from the left side, is enjoying a solid season offensively, with a .320 batting average. But that is almost exclusively against righthanders.

Against lefties this year, Lind has managed just two hits in 29 plate appearances, for a .069 batting average.

The Blue Jays will have to handle lefties better in the second half if they hope to climb back into playoff contention.

Associated Graphic

Jose Bautista, Melky Cabrera and Edwin Encarnacion celebrate a homer on May 23.


Teams hunt for behemoths as arms race heats up
Friday, July 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S4

BROSSARD, QUE. -- The big man is still a considerable human - in fact, he's brawnier than ever.

Whispers of "bust" may have started dogging Michael McCarron in some hockey circles, but the 2013 first-rounder - a strapping 6-foot-5, 240 pound forward - remains central to the Montreal Canadiens' ongoing strategy of adding more heft.

"Patience," Habs player-development head Martin Lapointe said when asked about McCarron's fitful progress this week at the team's annual prospect camp.

"He's a young kid who probably never really trained ... It takes time."

Lapointe, a two-time Stanley Cup champion, is the man tasked with fashioning raw talents - like McCarron's - into viable NHL players.

It's not a perfect science.

"You can tell them all the right things to do, but at the end of the day we have to meet in the middle. I'm willing to help you, but you have to make steps too," Lapointe said.

In McCarron's case, that has meant better conditioning and nutrition and working ceaselessly on his skating.

"I just want to show my improvement ... I think you'll see more speed," he said this week.

The American's first year in the Ontario Hockey League didn't go according to plan - he scored only 14 goals and 34 points in 66 games and was left off the U.S. World Junior team roster. It was, the 19year-old said, "a wake-up call."

From Lapointe's point of view, player development is about instilling confidence in a player's singular ability.

"In any player you can find one thing he does real well, but that thing he does real well, you have to push it to the extreme and develop it at the max, and the rest, try to move it up [with time]," he said.

His message to McCarron (use your size, play fast) applies to others in his charge.

Of the 50 players invited to the Habs' suburban practice facility this week, only 10 are under six feet (and four of those players are listed at 5 foot 11). All of the 17 defencemen in camp are six feet or taller, and only four are lighter than the NHL average weight of 203.1 pounds.

These days it seems all NHL teams are chasing the same mythical creature - the tough, fast behemoth with skill - and the dominant Western conference teams such as Los Angeles, Chicago and Anaheim are stacked with reasonable facsimiles.

It's an arms race, and everyone is taking part.

Since Marc Bergevin took over as Habs general manager in 2012, five of the 21 players he has drafted have been shorter than six feet; just one of the 2014 crop, shifty scorer Daniel Audette, falls short of the standard.

As it stands, Montreal has a topnine forward slot to fill and the candidates mooted for the job tend to be largish. Swedish prospect Jacob de la Rose, 19, is 6 foot 3 and 203 pounds; 22-year-old Czech free agent Jiri Sekac is 6 foot 2 and just under 200 pounds; and while talented Swiss winger Sven Andrighetto, 21, is a relative midget at 5 foot 9, he doesn't mind mucking it up along the boards.

De la Rose and Sekac have both committed to playing in North America this year, and the Habs will also have a number of other prospects, including former junior Team Canada winger Charles Hudon, taking their first steps in pro hockey on this continent.

Each can expect to see a lot of Lapointe. This is the third summer on the job for the former Detroit Red Wing, who also worked in the Chicago Blackhawks' front office. Both organizations are renowned for nurturing talent, and one of the things Bergevin was intent on doing when he picked up the reins was to bolster that area.

Enter Lapointe and former Habs defenceman Patrice Brisebois.

Their jobs involve teaching, cajoling and maybe the odd threat; Lapointe is a stickler for goal-setting, and works on both the micro and macro levels.

"I go straight to the point and say 'This is how you become a pro, this is how you have to do it, there's not 15,000 ways to train, eat,' "said the 40-year-old, who is still based in Chicago.

That doesn't mean he isn't racking up the airline and hotel loyalty points.

Lapointe estimates he spends eight days a month in Hamilton, working with the AHL's Bulldogs, and that he made one or more personal visits to roughly 20 junior and college prospects last season. He's also in constant touch via e-mail and text message.

All junior-aged players are bombarded with advice and drafted prospects also have to contend with agents and their NHL teams.

At the same time, Hudon says the advice offered by Lapointe and Brisebois - mostly about positioning, defensive awareness, and playing efficiently - was a big help.

As the 2012 fifth-round pick said, "It's good to feel a hand on your shoulder."

Associated Graphic

Winger Michael McCarron, centre, remains pivotal to the Canadiens' strategy of adding more heft.


Toews, Kane sign matching extensions
Franchise cornerstones each take an extra eight years and $84-million to stay in the Windy City as Hawks lock up their core
The Associated Press
Thursday, July 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S3

CHICAGO -- This was a no-brainer from start to finish. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane wanted to stay in Chicago and the Blackhawks wanted to keep the high-scoring forwards in the only NHL uniform they have ever known.

All that was left was crunching the numbers on two of the biggest contracts in franchise history.

The Blackhawks announced Wednesday they had reached eight-year extensions with two of their top performers in a long run of success that includes Stanley Cup titles in 2010 and 2013.

Toews and Kane led Chicago back to the Western Conference final this year, where it lost to the eventual NHL champion Los Angeles Kings.

General manager Stan Bowman said all along that the extensions were his biggest off-season priority, and it didn't take very long to reach the agreements with Pat Brisson, who represents both players. Toews and Kane each have one year left on their fiveyear extensions from December, 2009, and July 1 was the first day they could sign new deals.

Each contract is worth $84-million (U.S.) for an average annual value of $10.5-million, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not announce the contract numbers.

Toews and Kane made it clear right after the Game 7 loss to Los Angeles that they wanted to stay with the Blackhawks, who added #8MoreYears to their tweets about the deal.

"There's no organization in sports that cares more about the overall experience of their fans and the success of their players," Toews said in a statement released by the team. "There's nothing we want more as players than to continue to win Stanley Cups for the best hockey fans on the planet."

Toews, the No. 3 selection in the 2006 draft, was just 20 when he became the 34th captain in team history in July, 2008. He is regarded as one of the NHL's best two-way players, winning the 2013 Selke Trophy as the league's best defensive forward.

Kane, the top overall pick in the 2007 draft, has developed into one of the NHL's most clutch players after questions about his maturity dogged the dynamic winger for the first part of the career. He had the series-clinching goal in Game 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup finals at Philadelphia, and won the Conn Smythe Trophy last year as playoff MVP.

The 25-year-old Kane put on another impressive display in this year's postseason, almost bringing Chicago back from a 3-1 deficit against Los Angeles. He had two goals and eight assists in the final four games of the series against the Kings.

The $168-million worth of extensions for Toews and Kane mean the Blackhawks have much of their core group locked up through the 2016-17 season. Bowman could face some sticky situations with the salary cap in the coming years, but his team should be a Stanley Cup contender for a while.

"The signings of Jonathan and Patrick symbolize an important milestone in franchise history," Blackhawks president and chief executive John McDonough said.

"We are driven by the pursuit of consistent excellence and today is a huge step forward."

The 26-year-old Toews has at least 23 goals and 25 assists in each of his seven NHL seasons.

He set career highs with 32 goals and 44 assists in the 2010-11 season. Kane averages 25 goals and 45 assists per year. He had a career-high 30 goals and 58 assists for the 2009-10 campaign.

More important for Chicago, each player has been at his best in the postseason. Kane is fifth on the franchise's career list with 37 playoff goals and his 54 assists ranks sixth in team history.

Toews (29 goals, 52 assists) is also in the top 10 in each category.

Associated Graphic

Patrick Kane, left, and Jonathan Toews have won two Cups with the Hawks, and are among the franchise leaders in playoff scoring.


Montreal, B.C. gear up for redemption game
The Canadian Press
Friday, July 4, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S3

MONTREAL -- No one needs to tell Troy Smith he has to play better.

The Heisman Trophy-winner replacing future Hall of Famer Anthony Calvillo at quarterback completed fewer than half his passes as the Montreal Alouettes offence fired blanks in its CFL season opener last week in Calgary.

Smith hopes to start clicking with his receivers and moving the ball when the Alouettes (0-1) take on the B.C. Lions (0-1) in a bounce-back game for both teams at Percival Molson Stadium on Friday night.

"It falls on my shoulders as a quarterback," said Smith, who put up only 148 passing yards in a 29-8 loss to the Stampeders. "I have to do a better job of decision making and distributing the ball. We have weapons all over the field, but if we don't protect and get the ball out on time, these weapons mean nothing. So it's on me."

The Lions' 35-year-old pivot Kevin Glenn may be thinking the same. His team took an early 14-0 lead, but he then threw four interceptions in a 27-20 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos. It was only the third time the Lions lost at home since 2011.

So the stage is set for yet another in a long history of close battles between the Alouettes and Lions in Montreal. Last season, a lastplay Sean Whyte field goal gave Montreal a 39-38 win.

B.C. coach Mike Benevides played film of that game to his players as a reminder.

"What happened last year was BS," Benevides said. "We had multiple turnovers and didn't score off it. We became unglued somewhat and, at the end of the game, there's a quarterback that hadn't played a lot [Tanner Marsh] who finds a way to get into field goal range and beat you. You can't let that happen."

Smith was tabbed as the Alouettes starter going into their first season since 2000 without CFL all-time passing leader Calvillo behind centre.

He had an impressive array of receivers led by S.J. Green, but wasn't able to find them consistently, often overthrowing them.

The team's lone touchdown by running back Steven Lumbala came on the final play of the game after pair of Calgary roughing calls put the ball on the one.

"More reps, more practice," was Smith's answer to what he needs to find his groove. "As a quarterback, I think staring down the eye of adversity and understanding that only you can surface yourself out should be fun. Anybody who is worth their weight in marbles would not want to dig themselves into a situation like this, but would love to dig themselves out."

How long first-year coach Tom Higgins will stick with Smith if the offence doesn't click remains to be seen. Marsh is the backup, and third stringer Alex Brink has CFL experience. When asked about it, Higgins didn't rule it out. But he expects that Smith only needs time and experience with CFL football to succeed.

"I don't know if we're going to a two-quarterback system," he said.

"I'm hoping that's not the case.

But Troy has been under pressure before. It's about production. It's about us giving him an opportunity to be successful. I think we have the ability to run the football. We need to do that. We need to get the ball out of Troy's hand quicker in certain situations, but also give him an opportunity to air the ball out."

The Alouettes will be without key receiver Duron Carter, as well as safety Mike Edem, both with ankle injuries.

The Lions have started the season without No. 1 quarterback Travis Lulay, who is on the sixgame injured list with a shoulder injury.

Toronto's anemic offence swept away
With Encarnacion out of the lineup for two weeks, fellow all-star Bautista is unlikely to see many pitches worth hitting
The Associated Press
Monday, July 7, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S2

OAKLAND -- Edwin Encarnacion's face showed signs of anguish, the result of a right quad strain that will keep him out of the All-Star Game and, more important, out of the Toronto lineup for at least two weeks.

Encarnacion was on the bench Sunday when the Oakland Athletics completed a four-game sweep of the Blue Jays with a 4-2 victory.

Toronto fell two games behind the AL East-leading Baltimore Orioles.

"It hurts us not having him on the team," said Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista, who was also chosen to the AL team, along with left-handed pitcher Mark Buehrle. "The No. 1 priority is to get him better."

The Blue Jays managed just five hits against Jeff Samardzija, who made his Oakland debut, and closer Sean Doolittle. Without Encarnacion in the lineup, Bautista doesn't have the same support.

"I'm happy to be named an allstar," Encarnacion said. "I won't be playing. I will be working my leg to get back to the field as soon as I can."

Encarnacion was injured in the first inning of Saturday's loss after he drove in a run.

Bautista, nursing a hamstring injury, made a rare start at first base in Encarnacion's place.

"It was sore but I was able to run and make plays," Bautista said. "It shouldn't be too long before I'm back in right field."

Depending on the way things change over the next week, Bautista said he is ready to play anywhere, whether it be the outfield, first base or third base.

"Throw me in the fire," he said.

"If playing third gives us our best lineup, so be it. We can't afford to be picky. We have to strap it on and do it."

The Blue Jays managed four runs during the four-game series, which included a 1-0 loss in 12 innings on Friday.

"We got shut down big time," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We had chances, it didn't happen. We're just not producing."

Stephen Vogt singled and tripled to help the A's complete their first series sweep of the Blue Jays since taking a three-game series in 2000. Oakland hadn't swept a four-game series from Toronto since May 22-24, 1981.

Steve Tolleson hit a pinch-hit home run off closer Sean Doolittle in the ninth for the Blue Jays, who have lost six straight on the road.

It was Tolleson's first career pinch-hit homer.

Toronto got a stellar outing from starter Drew Hutchison, but for the fourth straight game had little success offensively. The Blue Jays went 0-for-18 with runners in scoring position during the series.

"I thought I threw the ball well except for the two walks in the sixth," Hutchison said. "The only pitch I'd like back is the 1-2 change that went for a double."

Samardzija pitched out of a two-on, one-out jam in the first by getting Bautista to ground into an inning-ending double play.

Samardzija retired 13 of the next 14 batters he faced until Jose Reyes singled with one out in the sixth.

Munenori Kawasaki followed with a double, and Melky Cabrera's groundout scored Reyes.

Hutchison (6-7) struck out four and walked two in his first career start against the A's.

Left-hander J.A. Happ (7-4) takes the hill for the Blue Jays in their series opener against the Angels in Los Angeles on Monday.

Associated Graphic

Pitcher Jeff Samardzija, newly acquired by the A's from the Cubs, celebrates a first-inning double play in his Oakland debut. He gave up just one run in his seven innings against the Blue Jays.


Toronto hopes to take advantage of hurting Stamps
The Canadian Press
Saturday, July 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S4

TORONTO -- N o Jon Cornish, no Nik Lewis, no Maurice Price, no tears from Dwight Anderson.

Anderson will make his Toronto debut Saturday night when the Argonauts (1-1) host a shorthanded Calgary squad at Rogers Centre. The Stampeders will be minus running back Cornish - the CFL's outstanding player last year - and receivers Lewis (both concussion symptoms) and Price (broken hand).

But Anderson, who helped Calgary (1-0) win the 2008 Grey Cup, isn't feeling sorry for his former team.

"Not at all," Anderson said.

"You can't feel sorry for nobody in this league because at the end of the day nobody is going to feel sorry for you."

Canadian Matt Walter and American Jock Sanders will split running back duties against Toronto while Joe West comes off the injured list to line up at receiver. The offensive line also receives a boost with the return of tackle Dan Federkeil.

"Over the years, if you look at Calgary, they've had a lot of injuries and a lot of guys have stepped in and done well," Anderson said. "Cornish is down but [Walter and Sanders] are going to share the load.

"Nik went down, Joe West stepped in. They're not leaving too much firepower out; they're bringing in firepower so you've got to be on your toes. That's what I've told these guys here; they're a vertical team. Bo [starter Bo Levi Mitchell] has a strong arm and can scramble."

Anderson, 33, will start at halfback with just one week of practice under his belt. Toronto acquired the eight-year veteran Monday from the Saskatchewan Roughriders, just two days after defeating the defending Grey Cup champions 48-15 at Rogers Centre.

To add insult to injury, Anderson endured the lopsided loss on his 33rd birthday. But Anderson said his transition in Toronto has been seamless because the Argos' defence is very similar to the one he played in while with the Montreal Alouettes (2011-'12).

Toronto defensive co-ordinator Tim Burke held the same post with Montreal from 2008-'10 and although he'd left La Belle Province by the time Anderson arrived, the Alouettes still used many of Burke's defensive principles when Anderson was with them.

"It's been busy: a lot of running around [since the trade] but as far as the playbook goes it pretty much came back to me from the Montreal days," Anderson said. "I think the coaches were kind of surprised I picked it up so quickly but [when] you've been in this game long enough nothing is too difficult."

Argos head coach Scott Milanovich is hoping the vocal Anderson, who's regarded as the CFL's top trash talker, can be a positive contributor to Toronto's young, inexperienced defence.

"Dwight's an intelligent player," Milanovich said. "I expect Dwight to be what he's always been, and that's a play maker, aggressive, emotional.

"I think our defence could use a little of that. Dwight's somebody you have to account for and always know where he's at because he can change the game.

You make one mistake, he can take it the other way."

Milanovich said the Argos can't afford to take Calgary for granted.

"If we think the fact Jon isn't playing can give us an opportunity to relax, that's going to burn us," Milanovich said. "Calgary has proven over the years their depth is as good as anybody's."

Winnipeg can still beat more experienced RedBlacks
The Canadian Press
Thursday, July 3, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S3

Execution certainly wasn't a problem in Winnipeg's season opener. The Bombers were dominant in their 45-21 home victory over the Toronto Argonauts. Quarterback Drew Willy finished 19-of-27 passing for 308 yards and four TDs en route to being named the league's offensive player of the week.

Willy hit Aaron Kelly five times for 100 yards and two scoring strikes. Running back Nic Grigsby added 122 yards rushing on 21 carries.

The RedBlacks, who were 1-1 during the exhibition season, have plenty of CFL experience.

Their roster features 30 players who saw action in the previous season and the veterans have a combined 121 seasons of experience and played 1,675 career games.

That's more than 400 more than Winnipeg has through last week's game. Ottawa also has 18 players with Grey Cup experience.

Pick: Winnipeg


Both teams are looking for their first win but this is already an important game for a Montreal team that struggled badly last week in Calgary. The Stampeders beat the Alouettes 29-8, as quarterback Troy Smith finished 18of-41 passing for 154 yards and an interception.

It was an opener to forget for Lions starter Kevin Glenn, who threw four interceptions in B.C.'s 27-20 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos. Glenn finished 18-of-28 passing for 251 yards and two TDs.

Pick: B.C.


Quarterback Mike Reilly helped make Chris Jones's Edmonton coaching debut a winning one. Reilly was 22-of-35 passing for 229 yards and three TDs as the Eskimos outscored the Lions 14-3 in the second half.

Edmonton's defence contributed the four picks, four sacks and a forced fumble, which doesn't bode well for a Hamilton offence that surrendered 10 sacks in its season-opening 31-10 road loss to Saskatchewan.

Quarterback Zach Collaros never was allowed to get comfortable in his Ticats regular-season debut, completing 19-of-33 passes for 159 yards with a TD and interception.

Pick: Edmonton


Toronto has plenty to fix following its disastrous season debut, but discipline remains first and foremost. All too often, the Argos shot themselves in the foot with penalties.

Toronto's offence couldn't sustain consistent pressure, holding the ball for less than 24 minutes.

Losing two of four fumbles didn't help, either. The Argos' defence showed vulnerability against the run, not exactly reassuring with Saskatchewan up next.

So emphatic were Saskatchewan's defence and ground attack against Hamilton that starter Darian Durant only threw 22 passes - completing 15 for 136 yards and two TDs - before giving way to Tino Sunseri.

Pick: Saskatchewan

Saturday, June 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S2

Rio de Janeiro -- As a World Cup newbie, I will defer to John Doyle and Cathal Kelly in their assessments of the other teams. But after a year based in Brazil covering this story, I could not disagree more with their assessment of the Cup as it is unfolding off the pitch, or the sentiment of Brazilians.

Brazilians are euphoric. Even people who were total skeptics, protesters who were insisting they would boycott watching matches, have been swept up in the excitement. They are particularly pleased with how well things are going in the big picture; how happy visitors are, how much everyone is savouring their country. They're proud, and I think legitimately.

No doubt having the media centre invaded by some blue-collar Chileans heartbroken about the $1,500 (U.S.) ticket prices was a frightening moment, if you happened to be sitting there. But it was a tiny blip for fans, Brazilian and otherwise.

I have had hundreds of conversations about the Cup in the past 10 days - and I speak Portuguese well enough actually to talk to Brazilians - and there's no schadenfreude. Because there's no sense of things being a mess. And no desire to see Brazil embarrassed, in any sector of society.

Most importantly: Cathal is flat-out wrong when he says Brazilians would rather the Dutch win. First of all, no still-breathing Brazilian will ever admit that any other country plays "their" football.

More to the point, they want to win. They still think they may. And surely the collective will of 200 million people has to be worth something.

The art of making learning fun
Royal Conservatory program that weaves drama, music and art into curriculum boosts test scores for First Nations, Métis students
Saturday, June 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A8

FORT MCMURRAY, ALTA. -- At St. Anne's School in northern Alberta, teachers are stepping away from the chalkboard and using creative new techniques to teach the most confusing parts of the curriculum.

Sometimes this means using elaborate charades to act out examples of literary tools such as similes, metaphors and personification. Or turning a tarp into a giant Cartesian grid, laying it on the floor and getting the students to use mathematical equations to move between co-ordinates. Or explaining the food chain through a break-dancing competition - insects do a simple step and shuffle, apex predators must perform a more demanding move like the worm.

It's all part of the Royal Conservatory's Learning Through the Arts Youth Empowerment Program, which uses drama, music and visual arts to teach core curriculum to students in Grades 6 through 9.

The results, outlined in a report released this week by the Royal Conservatory, show that those who benefited most from the program were First Nations and Métis students.

Between 2010 and 2013, the first three years that the Learning Through the Arts program was delivered to about 3,000 students in Fort McMurray, the Grade 9 math scores of First Nations students have climbed more than 20 percentage points, beating the average for Alberta's non-aboriginal students.

First Nations students also beat the provincial average by nearly 10 points in Grade 6 language arts and posted a 20-percentage-point gain in Grade 9 social studies.

"It's thrilling," said Shaun Elder, executive director of Learning Through the Arts. "We always thought it was possible, but to see [aboriginal students] beating the provincial average in serious topics like math and language arts, that's off the charts."

Educators across the country are struggling with how to get First Nations youth - a fast-growing demographic - to live up to their academic potential. As a group they have long trailed their non-aboriginal peers on standardized tests, and only one in three graduates from high school.

The program pairs local artists with classroom teachers to develop creative ways to teach some of the drier or more confusing parts of the core curriculum. The teachers identify the concepts that their students struggle with most, and the artists help develop new ways to visualize or act out those ideas.

Grade 6 students at Fort McMurray's St. Anne School learned about a type of metaphor called personification this week using Learning Through the Arts techniques. Rather than memorizing the definition of personification - a literary tool that lends human traits to animals and inanimiate obects - 11-year-old Ryan Kelloway and his classmates acted out examples.

Ryan crouched on his hands and knees, like a chair, and pleaded with his classmates to sit on him.

"Please, please, please! Just come and sit!" he said, his eyes wide with dramatic flair.

"The chair begged me to sit on it," someone shouted, as the classroom erupted with laughter.

The program generates a more fun and informal feeling to the classroom, according to Gabby St. Martin, 16, a Métis Grade 10 student at Fort McMurray's Holy Trinity School. She remembers feeling intimidated and shy for most of her school career until she became part of Learning Through the Arts about two years ago.

"[The program] allowed me not to be worried about messing up," she said. "If you did you could laugh it off."

Gabby particularly enjoyed the elements of the program inspired by First Nations culture, many of which were developed with the help of Hazel "Issapaakii" Derange, a local elder and residential school survivor.

Issapaakii teaches students about traditional medicines, such as dandelions, and their teachers lead them in a scientific investigation of why these weeds can be used to treat skin rashes. (They contain an abundance of nutrients, including vitamins A, C and K, calcium and potassium.) First Nations and Métis students often struggle because they're intimidated by traditional classrooms, according to Issipakii.

"For all of my life I was terrified of classrooms," she said. "I never wanted to go to school. The teacher would ask me to answer a question and my mind was blank."

Just letting kids out of their desks to move around can help them relax, she said, and the cultural elements of the program give aboriginal students a badly needed sense of validation.

Mr. Elder and his staff are exploring ways to expand the program into nearby communities with a higher density of aboriginal students, including Fort Chipewan and Fort McKay.

The challenge is finding local artists in a remote part of Canada where the cost of living is so high. The expansion will also test whether the program's success can be replicated outside the affluence of Fort McMurray and the region of Wood Buffalo, where the average household income is $189,000.

Issapaakii, a soft-spoken great-grandmother with shoulder-length salt and pepper curls, lowers her voice and drops her easy smile when she talks about the expansion.

"It's a different way to reach kids," she said, "and there are kids who badly need that."

Israeli army kills 13-year-old Palestinian
More than 300 arrested, many from Hamas, in the past week as troops search West Bank for three abducted teens
Associated Press
Saturday, June 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A17

RAMALLAH, WEST BANK -- Israeli soldiers killed a 13-year-old Palestinian in clashes during West Bank raids Friday, hospital officials said, as a search for three Israeli teens feared abducted in the territory entered its second week.

Three other Palestinians were seriously wounded by army gunfire during raids in four towns and refugee camps.

Friday's death raised to two the number of Palestinians shot dead by troops during search operations this week.

The three Jewish seminary students disappeared June 12 while hitchhiking in the West Bank. Israel has blamed the Islamic militant Hamas group for the apparent abduction, but has offered no proof.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has used the search to promote two other objectives - a new crackdown on Hamas and an attempt to discredit the Palestinian unity government formed earlier this month by Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas, which is supported by Hamas.

Hamas has praised the abduction of the teenagers but has not claimed responsibility for it. The group has abducted Israelis in the past to press for the release of thousands of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.

In Hebron, families of Palestinians arrested recently in Israeli raids protested after weekly Muslim prayers. They gestured with three fingers, one for each missing teen, in a sign of their support for the abduction.

The gesture has become popular on social media among Palestinians and others who support the abduction of the teens.

Over the past week, thousands of Israeli troops have searched hundreds of locations in the West Bank and arrested more than 300 Palestinians, many from Hamas.

The Israeli military said it conducted raids in four towns and refugee camps early Friday, detaining 25 suspects and searching about 200 locations. The army said it searched nine institutions linked to Hamas and confiscated materials.

In one raid, in the town of Dura near Hebron, Palestinian youths threw stones at soldiers, drawing army fire. A hospital official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to media, said 13-year-old Mohammed Dodeen was killed by a bullet in the chest.

The army confirmed soldiers used live fire, saying they were responding to life-threatening situations, and added that the troops engaged in sporadic confrontations during Friday's raids. Palestinians threw homemade explosives, firebombs, fireworks and stones, and in Qalandiya, a soldier was lightly wounded by a grenade thrown at troops, the military said.

A senior Israeli intelligence officer said Friday that anyone linked to Hamas was potentially a target for arrest.

He acknowledged that despite recent government declarations of a major crackdown on Hamas, both Israel and Mr. Abbas's Palestinian Authority have already dismantled much of the movement's West Bank infrastructure in recent years.

"But there are a lot of small places that are supporting Hamas," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with military briefing regulations.

"We'll go to every place that has a sign of Hamas on it, and we're going to hit it. Whether it's small or large. "

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said Friday that if it emerges that Hamas did take the missing teens it would have a dire impact on the unity government.

"Clearly if it is proven that Hamas was behind the abduction, which was not proven yet, then the consequences for the reconciliation process will be very, very negative," he said.

'Boring engineer' has his day in the sun
Saturday, July 5, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B3

Shawn Qu is doing his best to avoid being a compelling interview subject.

"I am a boring engineer," he says. "I work 16 hours a day and I don't really spend money."

He's sipping coffee in a bland boardroom in a low rise factory on the outskirts of Guelph, Ont., wearing the classic engineer's uniform of a dark suit with an open-necked shirt.

Behind this low-key facade, however, is an extraordinary story of a poor Chinese immigrant who came to Canada to advance his education, then created from scratch what has become one of the world's largest and most successful solar energy firms, with annual revenue closing in on $3-billion.

In 13 years, Canadian Solar Inc. has built three solar panel factories in China and two in Canada; in 2013 alone, it manufactured panels that can generate almost two gigawatts of power, enough to power hundreds of thousands of homes. Its market cap is about $1.3-billion (U.S.), making Mr. Qu's personal holding of 27 per cent worth more than $300-million.

But Mr. Qu is reluctant to consider himself a high-tech wunderkind.

"Lots of great companies were built in shorter times. In that regard I don't think I'm such a superstar," he said. "The superstars are the guys who do Internet, instant messaging, that kind of stuff."

He does acknowledge, however, that building a company that makes physical products is more complex than expanding a firm based on software. "Real manufacturing and the energy business takes a much longer time and it is harder work and effort than [a company in] the virtual economy," he says. "In that regard, I think we have chosen a difficult path. But I am glad we are doing something that eventually will change the energy infrastructure of the world."

He is also keenly aware that what he has built could collapse if he isn't careful. "I know that in any industry you can be leaders for a while, but if you don't watch out and make sure you change your business model, you can be washed away in four or five years.

Just look at what happened to Nokia or Nortel or BlackBerry.

That is the life of being an entrepreneur. I am aware of it so I am prepared for it."

That preparation began when Mr. Qu arrived in Canada in 1987, shortly after the Chinese government first allowed students to leave the country to study abroad. In his mid-20s at the time, he had an undergraduate physics degree from a Chinese university, and was teaching in a college in Beijing. But teaching was anything but lucrative, and he didn't make enough to pay for any further overseas education. "I was making something like 76 renminbi per month, and that translates to less than $10," he said. Consequently, "applying for study abroad meant applying for a scholarship."

The University of Manitoba gave him that scholarship, an offer he still sees as extraordinarily welcoming, especially at a time when western countries didn't understand the quality of education in China. "I was very grateful.

Canada was a very open and fair society compared to many other countries."

But wasn't it a tremendous culture shock coming to a small city in the western prairies? Not as he recalls.

"I didn't feel it. I guess I was young. At that age, you can venture into any place, any culture, and you will survive. Canada is a lawful society, and the infrastructure on campus was good, and people take care of you. There must have been a culture shock, but when I look back I don't remember it."

After completing his masters degree in physics in Winnipeg, Mr. Qu moved to the University of Toronto to do a PhD in materials science. That's where his interest in solar power took hold.

After graduation, he considered jobs in academia or management consulting, but took a position at Ontario Hydro (now called Ontario Power Generation), working on a solar power project inside the Crown corporation. When that project was sold to ATS Automation Tooling Systems in Cambridge, Ont., he went with it. ATS had also bought Photowatt, a French solar product manufacturing firm, and that gave Mr. Qu exposure to yet another culture.

It also gave him a sense of the social value of solar power. One of ATS's projects was a Canadian government-supported scheme to help with rural electrification in China. His group developed tiny solar cell and battery systems that could power two lamps and a radio.

"It was a very interesting project that gave me a chance to visit these remote areas. People really loved it. It made me think about how I could do more in solar ... I felt fulfilment."

But Mr. Qu admits that, over all, he was bored at ATS, which was losing money on the solar operation and didn't give it many resources. It was time to venture out on his own.

"All this experience on the technical and manufacturing side, and experience in different cultures - Chinese, Canadian and French - and also experience in government programs, got me prepared to launch my own business."

He started Canadian Solar in 2001, but at the beginning never dreamed of creating a multibillion dollar company.

"At that time, my vision was probably a small company working on renewables, which [I thought would be] good for human beings and would allow me to feed my family. I am a programmatic engineer. I do it step by step."

The first step, however, was a big one. A business contact mentioned to Mr. Qu that Volkswagen's Mexican operation was looking for a solar device to keep car batteries charged when new vehicles were sitting in outdoor parking lots, sometimes for months at a time.

He set to work, came up with a design, and won the contract.

"The challenge was that I had a purchase order without a real company. I didn't even know where the factory was going to be.

I had to do my budgeting. Where was the money going to come from, where was the equipment going to come from?" Canadian Solar ended up building a plant in China, and it lived off the Volkswagen order for a couple of years, shipping hundreds of thousands of units. Mr.

Qu created a team, raised money, and in 2004 got another big break when the German government put in place incentives for solar panel installations, opening up an enormous market. The fact that Canadian Solar was already a key supplier to Volkswagen opened a lot of doors. "It meant a lot to my initial German customers. We were at the right place at the right time."

For the next several years Canadian Solar - and most other solar companies - flourished, as more governments put incentives in place, and sales boomed. The government stimulus that followed the 2008-2009 recession also pumped up the industry, and more and more companies jumped into the fray - an ominous sign.

"In the U.S., they had a recovery plan. In China, they also had a big incentive plan. Everyone had easy access to money and easy access to debt. So, you saw those factories - not just solar factories but all kinds of factories - just mushroom," he said. "We started to see everyone get into the solar business. The writing was on the wall."

A perfect storm of issues, including the glut of supply and cuts to European subsidies during the financial crisis, pushed panel prices down and prompted a dramatic shakeout. Some of the biggest players collapsed, along with many small ones, and stock prices tumbled off a cliff. Canadian Solar's shares went from over $50 in mid-2008 to below $3 in 2012. (They've since climbed back to almost $31.)

But Canadian Solar was one of the survivors. A strong balance sheet and conservative capital spending kept it afloat. And the drop in prices meant solar became more competitive with other conventional forms of energy generation, making incentives less important - a trend that continues today.

Mr. Qu also made a crucial change at Canadian Solar during that period. He decided the company should be not just a cell and panel maker, but also get into the business of building solar farms - a segment of the business where the fall in component prices was actually an advantage.

Most of its projects are in Canada, the United States, China and Japan. In most cases, once solar farms are up and running, Canadian Solar sells them to independent power producers who then hold them for the long term.

Canadian Solar is expanding in Canada, and recently opened a panel-making facility in London, Ont., in addition to its first panelmaking factory in Guelph. The corporate headquarters are also in the Guelph facility, which Mr. Qu visits about once a month.

And, he insists, despite the frequent characterization of his company as Canadian in name only, it really is Canadian. Indeed, the only time he becomes really animated during our chat is when I bring up the company's nationality.

"It is a Canadian company," he says, his voice rising slightly. "It is registered here. We pay Canadian tax. We have a major operation here. For 2014, Canadian revenue will probably be half of the company's total revenue. So we do more business in Canada than any other places. So why are we not a Canadian company?" And, he points out, "lots of companies do manufacturing in China. So what? Look at Apple.

Where do they make their cellphones?" In fact, he says, good Canadian companies should be international. "I hope that Canadians will develop this kind of international mindset."

Mr. Qu, who is a Canadian citizen, does spend the majority of his time in China, where he lives near the company's biggest manufacturing plant in Suzhou, just outside Shanghai. But he is on the road - or rather in airplanes - a great deal of time, and he uses that time to e-mail and read industry materials.

Okay, you're an engineer and you work like mad, I acknowledge, but don't you have any diversions? He said he does take the occasional ski vacation - often in Japan - and he swims every other day when he is at home, putting in 1,000 metres each time at a health club near his house.

But he's not a big spender, and admits he doesn't even know how to shop online. He leaves that up to his children.

Success hasn't changed him much, although he says he gets less anxious about the business than he once did, since he has delegated a lot of the day-to-day work to his management team. Now he can be the big picture guy.

Since he has a little more free time than he used to, he's even starting to read some novels. A current favourite author is Chinese writer Mo Yan, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2012, and whose novels often deal with politics and sex.

That should be a bit of a diversion for a "boring engineer."



Born in Beijing 50 years old Married with three children


BSc in applied physics from Tsinghua University in Beijing MSc in physics from the University of Manitoba PhD in material science from the University of Toronto .


Worked on a solar project at Ontario Hydro, before moving to ATS Automation Tooling systems Founded Canadian Solar in Ontario in 2001 Began manufacturing in China in 2002 Opened a plant in Guelph, Ont. in 2011, then one in London, Ont. in 2014 .


"My dream was to see solar panels on every household ... to create a clean world for the next generation, for our children."

"I manage a new economy, new energy, business in a very traditional way. I guess I am quite different from other entrepreneurs who start companies. It is very different from the Facebook style."

"The conventional energy industry receives more tax breaks and incentives than the solar industry. People just don't see them."

"We will see costs going down and prices going down, and solar becoming more economic. It will be more and more competitive compared with conventional power sources."

" Financial institutions have started to see solar as an investment grade asset."

Associated Graphic

Shawn Qu, founder, president and chief executive officer of Canadian Solar Inc.


Waiting for the wheat
With the possibility of hailstorms, drought, weeds and political unrest threatening to punish the worth of a crop, Eric Atkins reports on nervous moments in the Prairies as green shoots emerge and the waiting game drags on
Saturday, June 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B4

This is the second part of

The Globe and Mail's 'Bushel

to bread' series tracking the

progress of a single shipment of grain, all the way from seeds in the ground to bread on the table.

After a cold and wet spring that delayed the planting of crops across Western Canada, Jay Schultz has finished seeding his Alberta farm. The plants have responded to the warm weather and rain by sprouting leaves and tillers, the green shoots that, in a few weeks, will begin to bear the grains of hard red spring wheat.

"It's good to see something green finally coming up," Mr. Schultz said in an interview from his 6,000-acre farm an hour east of Calgary, where he has watched row after row of green shoots appear amid warm sunny days and moderate rain. "Moisture just does wonderful things for germination."

Mr. Schultz's wheat is up and growing, but a lot can happen between now and harvest. Hailstorms, drought and political unrest in faraway places - any and all can affect the worth of his crop.

When Mr. Schultz began planting in early May, wheat prices were at a 10-month high, buoyed by expectations for a smaller global crop due in part to unrest in Ukraine - one of the world's top wheat exporters - and a harsh winter in the U.S. that was expected to have damaged the winter wheat crop.

But prices have fallen nearly 20 per cent since then, as the farmers in Ukraine and Russia have surprised markets with expectations for a massive harvest. Asian buyers have been switching from more expensive North American and Australian wheat to the cheaper Black Sea grain.

None of those dangers is as clear and present as the weeds. The 17-hour days, early mornings and late nights on the tractor are over, and Mr. Schultz has been spraying the fields with herbicides to ensure the wheat is not competing with weeds for water, sunlight and nutrients.

Mr. Schultz, who has a degree in crop sciences, says this is a crucial stage for the wheat. In its early stages, the wheat decides how many tillers, or sprouts, to grow, based on the amount of space between it and the next plant - or weed.

"Right now, the plant is kind of writing its code about what kind of yield potential it can do," he said. "It's kind of thinking about how it's going to grow."

In a few short months, if all goes well, the wheat will stand three feet high and be ready to haul by truck to one of the handful of elevators nearby. The end of long planting days means he has time to read the daily analyst reports, speak with grain merchants and decide when - and if - to sign a forward contract to sell his wheat.

In the meantime, it's the planning, planting, spraying and weather that will determine the success or failure of the crop.

"The conditions in Alberta, I've rarely seen them look better," said Harry Brook, a crop specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development.

The wheat crop's strong start means the heavy crop will need steady rainfall between now and July, however, if the grains are to properly fill out, he added.

Although the rains have ensured Alberta's grain has plenty of moisture, the subsurface - which is several inches deep - is too dry, Mr. Brook said.

"Right now, the weather's warm. We're getting good sunlight and there's moisture. The crop will be moving very rapidly," Mr. Brook said. "We have a great start, but one of the problems with a great start is if you have a heavy crop coming, it's going to need significant amounts of moisture to fill and finish."

Alberta is better off than its neighbours. Much of the province has finished seeding the fall crop, slightly ahead of neighbouring Saskatchewan. But in Manitoba, a province known for flooding and poor drainage, heavy snow melt and recent rains had delayed some farmers from planting their crops. Many were racing to finish before June 20, the seeding deadline for crop insurance.

The conditions early on don't necessarily dictate the result, however. Last year, warm temperatures and timely rain turned what looked like a slow seeding start into a record crop in Western Canada. At Mr. Schultz's farm, the wheat grew so tall it reached his dad's chest. He started harvesting and hauling early when he realized how big the crop was, avoiding the transportation jam that would vex Western Canada.

Much of the 76-million-tonne crop Western Canadian growers harvested last fall remains in farmers' bins or in elevators, awaiting rail cars that will take it to international buyers via ports on the West Coast, Thunder Bay, Ont., or Quebec. The massive crop and severe winter strained the country's grain-handling system, and left farmers facing a cash shortfall as they tried to buy seed and fertilizer for this season.

Even now that the grain trains are moving, thanks to the end of the worst winter in years and a federal order that forced the railways to double the amount of grain they were shipping, no one expects that the backlog will be cleared by the time the new crop comes in. Not with about 18.5 million tonnes of the 2013 harvest to move. Add that to the 62 million tonnes Agriculture Canada expects in next year's harvest - less than the 76 million tonnes in the current crop year, but still a substantial amount.

After all the planting, weeding, and praying, in a frantic effort to grow enough wheat, grain handlers, railways and farmers like Mr. Schultz could once again be stuck with grain they can't sell.

"My concern is, if we have a really good harvest," Mr. Brook said, "where is all this grain going to go?"


WHEAT / Bushel to bread: An occasional series following one bushel from seeding to eating.

New wireless auction is a familiar story - but a big step for Ottawa
Tuesday, July 8, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B2

The federal government's latest strategy to foment competition in wireless at first brings to mind Albert Einstein's famous definition of insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

The government on Monday announced it would set aside valuable spectrum for mobile phones that could only be purchased by a company that wants to compete with the big three in the wireless business: BCE Inc., Rogers Communications Inc. and Telus Corp. That had echoes of the government's 2008 spectrum auction, which set aside spectrum for new entrants. That spectrum was eventually purchased by Mobilicity and Wind Mobile, which are now struggling to make a go of it.

Dvai Ghose, a well-respected telecom stock analyst at Canaccord Genuity, channelled Einstein when he opined in a report that "we have seen this story before and it has not resulted in success for the new entrants" and that "we wonder why the government believes that following the same strategy that has failed to date would have a different outcome this time around."

That risks giving the government too little credit on two fronts. One, that the government has not learned anything from its mistakes on this file - and there have been more than a few. And two, that Ottawa has not been talking to potential consolidators about what they need on their shopping list before they go ahead with what the government so desperately wants: create a fourth national wireless carrier.

A roadmap to creating that carrier has to include how to get more spectrum, because the business is increasingly about bigger and bigger data plans as people transition to smartphones. Given that the Big Three can outbid most anybody in an open spectrum auction, the government has to find ways around that.

A lobbyist for Verizon Communications Inc. met with Industry Canada officials late last year. And the federal lobbyist registry shows meetings between senior Quebecor Inc. officials and Industry Canada regarding telecommunications in February of this year. What are the chances that those meetings did not touch on what those companies would need to try a fourth carrier?

"I can't believe anyone is saying this doesn't move the needle," said Macquarie telecom analyst Greg MacDonald. "You must assume Quebecor has had a conversation and said 'wink wink, nudge nudge, and this is what it takes to make the economics work.' "

And when Verizon's lobbyist met with the government, "my guess is Verizon pressed the point then as well," Mr. MacDonald adds.

So would have any of the private equity firms that have been circling the file.

True, on its own this move is not enough. Still on the shopping list would have to be a way to ensure cheaper roaming charges when customers on an upstart's network in urban areas head into other areas where only the Big Three have towers. The industry regulator is looking at that later this year.

And finally, there has to be an exit strategy. The government would like to limit the ability of anybody who buys this new spectrum to sell it, but that ignores the reality that anybody who takes a gamble on creating a fourth network will want to know there is an escape hatch if it doesn't work. The government's record on this so far - limiting the ability of Wind and Mobilicity to sell - will not inspire great confidence in anybody eyeing getting in.

So yes, this has to only be viewed as step one, but a big one.

Mr. MacDonald thinks one strategy that's open to an upstart is based on cheap data. A new entrant with a lot of spectrum relative to its small number of customers can price big buckets of data cheaply. An incumbent with millions of customers and spectrum that's straining at capacity cannot match it for fear that its network would bog down.

If there is a loser in this, it is quite possibly the backers of Wind and Mobilicity because it reduces the scarcity value of their spectrum. That's somewhat ironic, given that the government wants them to be part of the solution and so has stipulated, essentially, that anyone wanting to get into the auction for this new spectrum will have to buy one of those two first.

Still, the government has been remarkably cavalier about the financial outcomes for Wind and Mobilicity and their investors, repeatedly blocking attempts to sell. Ottawa is singlemindedly focused on a fourth carrier that it says will benefit consumers.

Investors in the Big Three and the new entrants are a distant second in the government's mind.

And if the government is to get to a fourth carrier in time to trumpet that as a success before an election next year, the fortunes of those investors may yet take more bruisings as more steps in the plan are laid out.

Associated Graphic

Ottawa is singlemindedly focused on a fourth carrier that it says will benefit consumers.


Bullish on the loonie? Don't expect a market stampede
Wednesday, July 9, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B2

A bullish reversal in the Canadian dollar certainly has important implications for Canada's exports, for inflation and for the Bank of Canada's policy path. If, of course, we had such a bullish turn.

We haven't. Not yet, anyway. The Canadian currency raised these concerns after topping 94 cents (U.S.) last week for the first time in six months, up more than 2.5 cents in a month and more than five cents since mid-March. This week, news that speculative traders in the currency futures market had moved to a (small) net long position in the loonie for the first time since early 2013 - that is, more speculators hold futures contracts predicting that the dollar will go up than those with contracts betting it will go down - has raised talk that market sentiment has turned, signalling the beginning of a march upward in the currency.

This would be an unexpected complication for exporters, who have been looking at the dollar's decline from north of parity since early 2013 as a handy boost to their competitiveness in foreign markets, and thus a key driver of export sales. It also throws a new wrinkle into the inflation outlook - so pivotal to the Bank of Canada's monetary policy thinking - as the declining dollar had been considered a significant, if temporary, contributor to the sharp rise in Canada's inflation rate in recent months.

But when we put the numbers in their full context, the recent gains and the fluctuations in the futures-market mix don't add up to a major change of course in the currency.

At 94 cents, the loonie has merely returned to the level it was at when it entered its early-2014 tailspin - essentially, both the market's previous trading range and, by extension, the top of the current trading range.

Unless and until the dollar moves meaningfully above this level, it can't be considered to have gone into a rally mode - it remains in its six-month range between 90 and 94 cents.

That's considerably cheaper than where the loonie was trading a year ago (95 to 98 cents) and in the second half of 2012 (98 to 102 cents). We're still in a much more favourable currency environment for exporters than the one they faced 12-18 months ago.

But what do we make of the evidence that speculative currency investors have turned bullish on the loonie? In short, there isn't much.

Speculative (i.e. non-commercial) long positions in Canadiandollar futures have been remarkably stable over the past year; it's the short positions that have gyrated wildly, and have been the dominant feature during the currency's declines. The upswing in long positions in the past few weeks has merely moved them toward the upper end of the narrow range they have occupied since early 2013; this is hardly a stampede of Canadian-dollar bulls.

Meanwhile, the bears are still present in large numbers. Despite their recent retreat, speculative short positions remain at historically elevated levels, nearly 50 per cent above their 10-year average. Historically, when the speculative shorts are this high, the dollar is falling, not rising.

The downward sentiment has far from vanished. Rather, it looked extreme, and unsustainable, when the loonie was at 89 cents and speculative short positions were near record levels, more than double where they are today. The dollar looked massively oversold at that point; the recent rebound was both inevitable and healthy. And in other instances in recent history (in 2012 and in 2013) when the futures market moved into a speculative net-long position from a net-short, it has not signalled the beginning of a sustained upturn in the currency.

The recent upturn should be viewed as a currency having found firm footing - the end of a depreciation, not the beginning of a rally. We can still expect (as the Bank of Canada outlined in its last monetary policy report, in April) a boost in foreign sales for manufacturing exporters; an upward pressure on costs for imported goods, especially manufacturers' inputs, some of which will be passed on to Canadian consumers; and a lessening of this impact as the currency stabilizes and the declines move more distant in the rear-view mirror. All we have now is a stronger conviction as to when the downturn ended.

A further rise in the dollar, and a more dramatic shift in futuresmarket sentiment, could still change this. But for now, for all the recent excitement, this looks like merely a new chapter of the same currency story, not the writing of a new one.

Alberta needs to get the message on carbon
Thursday, July 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B2


Albertans really didn't need another reminder that their Progressive Conservative government is bad at picking up on social cues when it comes to getting more serious about carbonreduction policy.

They got one anyway, this time from the provincial auditor-general, who pilloried the Tories for failing to meet their own targets for greenhouse gas emission reduction, being lax on monitoring the six-year-old program and not getting around to publishing any public reports yet.

This performance is from the same government that spent the past several years jetting to Washington to pitch U.S. officials on increasing oil sands exports and pushing for approval of the contentious Keystone XL oil pipeline, touting its environmental progress.

Alberta just doesn't get the respect it deserves for being a North American leader in real actions on carbon, former premier Alison Redford often said during her trips, pointing to the province's $15-per-tonne levy on emissions from the largest industrial facilities.

But during her tenure and after it, discussions about toughening the regulations - even if that could offer U.S. President Barack Obama more cover to approve Keystone XL - have resulted in nothing so far. The Specified Gas Emitters Regulation, whose centrepiece is the carbon levy, had been up for renewal on Sept. 1 - smack dab in the middle of the race to appoint a new Alberta Tory leader and premier. But on Wednesday the Tories punted the renewal back to Dec. 31.

Major players galore, from the 13 member companies of Canada's Oil Sands Innovation Alliance, the group formed to share environmental technology, to Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric Co., a top supplier to the industry, have launched drives to find ways to chop emissions.

Mr. Immelt told me this week that the industry's goal must be to put oil sands production on equal footing with other worldwide crudes when it comes to emissions, and that technology is the key.

Suncor Energy Inc. chief executive Steve Williams said the COSIA developers are close to agreeing on a new carbon standard for oil sands projects. They apparently see this as critical for assuaging critics as they seek to expand operations.

So is the Alberta government taking the hint and moving quickly with complementary policy, such as a higher levy on even more industrial activity? Not exactly.

So far, climate-change policy has not proven to be an overriding ballot-box issue in the race between Jim Prentice, Ric McIver and Thomas Lukaszuk. With so much at stake in terms of energy and investment, it should be.

But as Auditor-General Merwan Saher reported on Tuesday, even the plans put in place back in 2008 haven't been tended to.

Here's what he had to to say: The government has not followed up on the AG's recommendations dating back six years, and he found no evidence that it monitored progress for cutting emissions between 2008 and 2012.

He said the province is only now preparing its first public report since start with the strategy, which initially foresaw reducing emissions by 50 megatonnes under a business-as-usual case by 2020. Two years ago, the government conceded it would fall short of the goal.

The plans relied heavily on carbon capture and storage, and some projects envisioned in 2008 have already been scrapped.

"Overall the department's progress implementing our recommendations since 2008 has been slow. This pace does not reflect the significance that effectively managing climate change has for the economy and environmental performance in Alberta and in Canada," Mr. Saher wrote.

That's what's so surprising about the whole thing. The Alberta government may not be as focused on environmental issues as some jurisdictions, at least not for motherhood reasons. But, as Mr. Saher makes clear, this is as much a trade issue as a green one.

For the government, "market access" for oil sands derived crude has been the rallying cry for the past few years as new export pipeline plans stalled and revenues suffered when supplies were backed up into Alberta, triggering deep price discounts.

Making real, measurable progress on carbon reduction won't solve all of Alberta's problems, but it certainly won't hurt efforts to open the right doors.

Associated Graphic

The government has not followed recommendations on climate change for six years, according to the Auditor-General.


Pesticide linked to bee deaths causes headaches for retailers
Thursday, July 3, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

More than half the flowering plants sold at Home Depot stores in three Canadian cities contain the neonicotinoid pesticide linked to deaths of honey bees and other pollinators, according to a new study.

The findings are part of a report by environmental group Friends of the Earth that tested plants purchased at garden centres in 15 U.S. cities. The studies - which were conducted at an accredited laboratory - found 51 per cent of the plants contained the pesticide that has been restricted in Europe but is widely used in North America.

Since their widespread adoption by Canadian crop growers in 2008, neonicotinoids have been blamed by several studies and Health Canada for the collapse in bee populations. Honey producers say bees are exposed to the chemicals during the planting process, as well as by ingesting the flower pollen.

Farmers say the pesticide is essential to protecting against such insects as white grubs and wire worm, which can badly damage their crops, and is less harmful to humans than chemicals used years ago. They point to studies that say viruses, mites, loss of habitat and long winters are responsible for bee deaths.

But those who want to limit or ban the use of neonicotinoids say the pesticide - made by Bayer AG, Dow Chemical Co. and Syngenta - weakens the insects and should only be applied where it is needed.

The pesticide "is intended to make the plants easier to raise," said Beatrice Olivastri, chief executive officer of Friends of the Earth Canada. "They're probably using it prophylactically, just like they do with corn ... Maybe in some cases there's an infestation and they need it, but 100 per cent of the plants don't need it."

Friends of the Earth sampled plants from Home Depot stores in Vancouver, Montreal and London, Ont., and found a range of pesticide residues.

Even though Home Depot was the only retailer included in the study, Ms. Olivastri says gardeners should assume the plants they buy from most garden centres contain the pesticide, given the prevalence of neonicotinoids.

Other major flower retailers were not included in the study because they did not have plants for sale at the time it was conducted, in late spring.

She said people who purchased flowers from Home Depot should return them, or cut off the flowers to limit pollinators' exposure.

Home Depot, BJ's Wholesale Club and other companies in the United States have said they will require flower suppliers to begin labelling plants that contain the pesticide later this year, with an eye on phasing out their sale altogether.

A spokeswoman for Home Depot Canada said the U.S.labelling rules did not apply in Canada, but the company is planning to address the issue.

"I know that we're working on something, and it's definitely an important issue for us," she said.

In response to a request for an interview, Rona Inc. issued a statement.

"We have been paying close attention to the neonicotinoid pesticides issue over the past several months and we are currently in communication with our suppliers to assess the situation," the company said.

Loblaw Cos. Ltd., Canadian Tire Corp. Ltd. and Canada Safeway Ltd. did not grant interview requests to the Globe and Mail.

An official with Flowers Canada Growers, a group that represents companies that raise and import flowers, was not available for an interview.

Associated Graphic

Home Depot Canada says it is examining a response to the use of neonicotinoid pesticides in its garden centre offerings.


A blind faith in sponsorships
Canadian companies spend billions but don't invest anything to find out if their investment is paying off
Saturday, July 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B2

OTTAWA -- In a bid to win consumers' hearts, Canadian marketers spent $2.85-billion on sponsorships last year. But half of those companies are not investing anything to find out if their investment is paying off.

That is according to the Canadian Sponsorship Landscape Study, presented by marketing agency TrojanOne at a conference in Ottawa this week.

"One out of about every five marketing and communications dollars are going to sponsorship," said Norm O'Reilly, a professor at Ohio University who specializes in sports marketing and a senior adviser with TrojanOne. "On one end there are those doing unbelievably sophisticated [return on investment measurement]. The Cokes and Pepsis of the world ... and there are a lot that just don't."

The study showed that marketers are spending more money than ever to be associated with things that matter to consumers - including museums, music festivals, charities and causes, amateur and professional sports, and local groups.

In 2006, when the study was first conducted, they accounted for 16.7 per cent of respondents' marketing budgets; last year, that figure had grown to 21.9 per cent.

In total, marketers spent $1.75billion in rights fees last year - in other words, the cost just to be associated with an organization, event, or cause. And they spent $1.07-billion on "activation," which is advertising and any other activity that makes people aware of that connection.

But despite the scope of the output, only about half of the marketers spending that money do any evaluation of the return on investment (ROI). This has been a downward trend: In the first year of the study in 2006, nearly 8 per cent of sponsorship dollars on average were spent on evaluation. By 2013, that had fallen to just 2.7 per cent. That is despite the fact that demonstrating ROI ranked highest among all the concerns the industry listed when it comes to sponsorship.

Agencies that handle sponsorships on behalf of marketers also report a drop: In 2012, sponsorship evaluation accounted for just over one-fifth of their billings, and last year that dropped by 4.2 per cent to just under 17 per cent of billings. Billings for sponsorship research - the general term for any study of sponsorship - fell more than 8 per cent, and now account for just 6.6 per cent of billings. "And versus other statistics around the world, we're falling behind," Prof. O'Reilly said of Canadian companies' investment in evaluation.

Part of the decrease is due to recent cuts as marketing budgets have been under pressure. For smaller organizations, the investment in measurement can be prohibitive, as tens of thousands of dollars in fees for a national survey is hard to justify. The study surveyed marketers ranging from small businesses and up to large corporations with as many as 45,000 employees. Sponsorship rights fees ranged from $10,000 to $21-million.

For some organizations, there is also a concern that the results of such measurement could be negative: Since those deciding whether to measure are the same people responsible for spending money on those sponsorships, there can be anxiety over backlash if the investment does not perform well enough. However, Prof. O'Reilly suggested smaller focus groups and surveys that marketers can do themselves, while not perfect, can help to get a sense of whether an investment is worth it.

"If you don't get any feedback at all, you're flying completely blind," he said.

Mexico scores new victory in race for auto plants
Friday, July 4, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

Mexico has won new auto investments worth $2.4-billion (U.S.) in one week, just $800million less than the $3.2-billion invested by auto makers in Canada since 2010.

BMW AG said Thursday it will spend $1-billion to build a new plant in Mexico, on the heels of an announcement last week by Daimler AG and Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. that they will invest $1.4-billion to build luxury cars.

The two new plants, which are scheduled to come on stream later this decade, underline how Canada is being eclipsed by Mexico when it comes to new auto investment.

"Mexico simply wants jobs and economic growth more than Canada," and recognizes that assembly plants with thousands of direct jobs and thousands more spin-off jobs are one way to generate employment and growth, one senior industry executive said Thursday.

Mexico has already knocked Canada into third place when it comes to vehicle production in North America and output will expand again in 2014 with new Honda Motor Co. Ltd. and Mazda Motor Corp. plants that began turning out vehicles earlier this year.

Audi AG said late last year it will build an assembly plant in Mexico. With the announcements by BMW and Daimler, three of the largest and fastestgrowing luxury manufacturers in the world will be building vehicles in that country.

When it comes to winning such investments, Canada is battling against a country with formidable advantages.

In addition to significantly lower labour costs than both Canada and the United States, Mexico is also an export powerhouse, boasting free-trade agreements with more than 40 countries and ports on both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans that operate year-round.

"The large number of international free trade agreements - within the NAFTA area, with the European Union and the MERCOSUR member states, for example - was a decisive factor in the choice of location," BMW said in a statement announcing the investment.

Mexico's foreign investment agency, ProMexico, is aggressively courting auto investments and offers generous incentives, industry sources have said.

"When Mexico goes on to the world stage, they go as a national player, not provincial, not municipal, not regional," said former Ontario economic development minister Sandra Pupatello, who now is chief executive officer of the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corp.

"ProMexico is streamlined, it's one door, it makes a difference.

[Companies] only have to talk to one person," Ms. Pupatello said.

The federal and Ontario governments offer incentives to auto makers to locate in Canada. But a report issued last year by the Canadian Automotive Partnership Council, an industry-union group set up to advise the governments on the auto sector, complained about the way the Canadian funds are administered.

"In Mexico, for example, rarely will one see repayable contributions or restrictive covenants that can claw back co-investment programs," the report said. "Through ProMexico, companies can secure cash grants with no strings attached."

The report described Mexico as a preferred location for auto investment, although car companies always consider the United States first because it is the largest market.

"However, what has changed is that their second choice is now Mexico, not Canada," it concluded.

BMW already has an assembly plant in North America. Its factory in Spartanburg, S.C., is in the midst of a $1-billion expansion that will boost production to 450,000 vehicles by the end of 2016.

Jobless rate expected to hold at 7 per cent
Monday, July 7, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B2

Canadian employers have been a cautious lot in the past few quarters, with job creation averaging only 3,000 a month.

Government cutbacks tell part of the story, while manufacturing employment has dwindled amid competitive pressures. Meanwhile, most of the new jobs in the past year have been on the part-time side.

Statistics Canada will release its labour force survey on Friday. Economists expect about 21,000 new jobs, or more, were added in June, with the unemployment rate holding at 7 per cent, or possibly easing a notch to 6.9 per cent.

A jobs gain "would mark a second straight increase for the first time in seven months," noted economists at National Bank Financial, adding that the breakdown of employment "will require close scrutiny, given that it has disappointed since the beginning of the year, particularly with respect to full-time employment, private-sector employment and high-paying jobs."

There are grounds for optimism. U.S. job growth topped expectations last month and the country's jobless rate fell to the lowest level since September, 2008, more bright signs for the world's largest economy.

Moreover, parts of Canada's job market have remained quite sturdy, Statscan data from its labour force and payrolls surveys show. Although past trends aren't necessarily a predictor of future hiring, they do suggest where momentum lies in the labour market.

Here are some of the pockets of strength, in terms of salaries and jobs:

Natural resources: Average earnings for workers in the mining and energy sectors are $2,068.34 a week, payrolls data show - more than twice the national average of $932.13. Earnings growth has soared 13.3 per cent in the past year, more than quadruple the national pace. But the sector is relatively small, employing less than 250,000 people.

Health care: Year after year, this is one of the biggest growth areas in the labour market. The health care and social-assistance sector has added more than 60,000 positions in the past year and is the second-largest source of employment after retail trade, a reflection of the country's aging population.

Older women: Women over the age of 55 continue to lead all demographic groups in terms of employment gains. It's part of a years-long trend that has seen more older women join, or rejoin the labour market either as salaried employees or selfemployed workers. Their jobless rate, at 5.4 per cent, is also the lowest of any group.

Professional services: The category that includes accountants, graphic designers and engineers has swelled by more than 10,000 workers in the past year with employment hovering at a nearrecord high. This sector tends to require higher education, and the average pay is higher, at $1,293.09 a week.

Alberta: Almost all job growth in the past year has been concentrated in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Alberta has the fastest employment growth in Canada, at 3.2 per cent (more than 70,000 jobs) compared with a national average of 0.5 per cent in the past year. Earnings growth, too, has been higher than average, at 4.3 per cent.

Associated Graphic

Year after year, health care is one of the biggest growth areas in the labour market.


Enbridge in the running for Alaskan natural gas pipeline
Friday, July 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

OTTAWA -- Enbridge Inc. is turning its eyes north to Alaska, entering talks with the state to build an $8-billion (U.S.) natural gas pipeline there if a competing project falters.

The Calgary energy company and the state-owned Alaska Gas Development Corp. (AGDC) "are undertaking substantive and exclusive discussion" which would see Enbridge become the builder and operator for the 1,163-kilometre pipeline.

It would carry natural gas from the North Slope to Fairbanks and other communities in southern Alaska.

"Assuming that the project meets all required milestones, receives the necessary commercial commitments, meets all regulatory requirements, and is selected as the state's preferred alternative, we anticipate the pipeline could begin service in 2020," the company said in a statement Thursday.

However, Enbridge is in a queue behind TransCanada Corp. - and its partners, Exxon Mobil Corp., BP PLC and ConocoPhillips Co. - who have been working with the state on a $65billion plan to build a larger pipeline and natural gas liquefaction plant for LNG exports from Alaska to global markets.

Alaska has been struggling to gain market access for shut-in North Slope gas reserves, after an earlier pipeline project to the lower 48 states through Canada was cancelled due to the shale gas boom which drove down prices.

In January, Governor Sean Parnell announced a new agreement with TransCanada and its producer partners for the pipeline project that would supply the Alaskan market and support the LNG export project.

The AGDC signed an agreement last week with TransCanada, and its partners signed an agreement last week to proceed with pre-engineering phase.

"TransCanada is pleased that all of the parties to the [Alaska] agreement have achieved another milestone and are now proceeding with the next phase of the project," company spokesman Davis Sheremata said in an e-mailed statement Thursday.

"We look forward to working with our partners on this important and challenging project."

In the coming weeks, the TransCanada-led project will begin to work to secure an LNG export license with the U.S. Department of Energy, and will continue permitting work with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Each producer party, in addition to the state, will begin to engage the LNG sales market during this phase.

But the producers face an increasingly competitive LNG market in Asia, with British Columbia, Australia, Russia and other U.S. producers looking to serve that market. Enbridge's project is not dependent on an LNG facility.

Enbridge (ENB)

Close: $50.72, down 9¢

An almost magnificent World Cup. Almost.
Saturday, July 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S3

At the end, you think about this and hope it isn't always true: "Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans win."

The English player and now pundit Gary Linekar said that, years ago, less in bitterness, one suspects, than in sighing acceptance of England's fate.

Ah, England. How long ago it seems now that England's fate at World Cup 2014 was a story anyone considered important. It has been weeks since most of the English media returned to their natural arena of excited speculation about which English clubs were trying to buy the services of exceptional foreign players at the World Cup.

At the beginning, when you're there, you have high hopes. For a World Cup lit from within by attacking soccer, goals, surprises, unsung heroes and startling performances. We got that by the bucketful. Until it stopped, somewhere in the quarter-finals and then the buzz - the commotion about the unexpected - returned briefly when Germany hammered Brazil 7-1 in a semi-final that was more farce than futebol.

And in that bizarre Brazil defeat is the central narrative of this World Cup, in a nutshell; in all its hopes, dreams and demented expectations. Anyone in Brazil, perhaps even the dogs on the streets of Rio, will tell you that it is the "pais do futebol," the country of soccer. That is, of course, based on its past, not its present.

Brazil the country is mysterious to me after four weeks of this World Cup. Solipsistic, sexy, samba-driven in its rhythm, futebolfocused, but foolish in so much.

There were hints of all that at the opening game, Brazil playing Croatia in Sao Paulo. The city was unprepared for the influx, the stadium was flimsily finished, barely on time. The mood of madness you expect at a World Cup (I've covered three, and three Euro tournaments) was faintly there, still on the horizon somewhere.

Sao Paulo, a city I hope I never see again, seemed to see this World Cup as an irritation, but an irritation overcome easily by the fact - one as plainly visible as the smog of Sao Paulo - that Brazil would win and everyone would be happy. Best of all, those foreigners with their phrase books and maps, would go away, their money spent.

Brazil would win that opening game 3-1, but the match left a taste, a touch of bile. It was tainted. Staging the tournament for the first time since 1950, Brazil went behind 0-1 from a Marcelo own goal and Neymar came to the rescue. But it took a theatrical dive by Fred to settle it. He went operatic, flailing about after barely being touched, conned the referee into calling a penalty and Brazil went ahead.

You could tell, right there, the team was long on enthusiasm and guile, while short on ideas and talent. Honour was at stake though, and the hubris of it was forgotten in the frantic celebrations. Eventually, mind you, all of Brazil's nightmares would come stalking through the knockout stages, seeking revenge.

Then the Netherlands thumped Spain 5-1 and the world went mad. Goals, goals, goals! The reigning champions dethroned, exposed. Chile doubled the madness, all speed and fervour. Brazilians looked bewildered too as the vast hordes from neighbouring countries descended on its cities. The mass of Chileans, the Costa Ricans, the Argentines, rambunctious in the streets and on the beaches. It wasn't, it seemed, about Brazil but about these odd, cheering people declaring that they too were from a "pais do futebol" and they didn't pay much heed to Brazil's honour and history.

The Chileans. The Algerians on their mad, magnificent run. The United States, that dour team of trying and never-say-dying, their hundreds of thousands of supporters out-roaring, out-chanting everyone their joyous, who-cares invasion of the local party. The Greeks, spinning a good run from a team of defensive-minded journeymen. For a time, the plot twisted bizarrely this way and that.

Luis Suarez. A child-demon, all his animal instincts let loose in the heat and sweltering zeal of Brazil. The intractable melancholy that follows that - Uruguay, a small country, deeply serious and glorious in its soccer history, undone by this unhinged kid.

If you were there it was all absorbed in a haze of heat, hairraising cab rides in the dark, the collapsing wall of the Maracana media centre, sneering FIFA officials, shrugging Brazilian waiters, expensive hotels and cheap beer.

The velocity of it all was extraordinary. One day the world is worshipping Chile, the next it is calling for the expulsion of Luis Suarez. After that the Costa Ricans are the next big thing and, always, Brazil, the team, the country is in a nervous, angsty revelry.

Brazil the country went into a kind of limbo between Brazil games. In between those you were, reporter or civilian visitor, an irksome tourist. I have never covered a soccer tournament in which so little was done to accommodate the visiting masses. Brazil presented itself like resort you had prepaid to visit and if you expected more or better, it was your own fault. You get what you pay for.

From all those days and nights of games, planes, buses, taxis, street parties, exhibition and elation, one day and one game comes into focus with emphatic clarity.

It was the day Brazil played Mexico. In Rio, far from the city hosting the game, I walked along the beach front, from Copacabana to Ipanema to Leblon. Stopping here and there to watch, peering into bars, watching face-up against a tiny TV by a beer-hut on the beach. The city was nearsilent, the beach near empty. Brazil scraped a 0-0 draw and stayed alive, the World Cup party kept going. Nobody was caring much about what might happen next.

After the game I walked on the beach and finally felt the vibe that draws the tourists and what drew the World Cup itself to this place.

Away from he velocity of the tournament's momentum there was the voluptuousness of Brazil itself, the warm breeze, the ocean waves, the occasional figure of a beautifully sculpted body, lost and at peace in the rapture that the place creates.

This World Cup was itself a rapture, for a while. An almost magnificent World Cup. Dazzling until dark cynicism took hold of teams on the cusp of reaching the Final.

Football, or soccer or futebol, is indeed a simple game and one played with ease in the surface pleasantness of Brazil. After thus, future World Cups will be a harder sell. As a TV event, fine. Not so voluptuous a setting, ever not more comically cynical in nature.

Brazil, the country and the team, almost got it perfectly right.

At the end, though, either the Germans win, as the prosaic Englishman says, or the poetry of the irritating neighbours winning, will happen. And hopes, dreams, demented expectations float away.

But beautifully so, in Brazil, like the game is beautifully played there. Sometimes. Anything can happen in Brazil.

Follow me on Twitter:@MisterJohnDoyle

Associated Graphic

A woman waves German and Argentine flags on Copacabana Beach ahead of Sunday's World Cup final match in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil, the country and the team, almost got things perfectly right.


Brazil relegated to run-of-the-mill status
Thursday, July 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S2

SAO PAULO -- Inside Brazil, the reaction was that predictable mix of disappointment and incipient rage.

Almost every newspaper headline in a country with plenty of them ran a headline riff on the words Humilhacao (Humiliation) or Vexame (Disaster).

The Metro chain led with the most atmospheric front page - a darkened Estadio Mineirao with only the accusatory final tally lit up on a distant scoreboard.

A very few were trying to look on the bright side of soccer life.

"We'll get the sixth title in Russia," Pele tweeted. Well, anything's possible. But some things are less possible than others.

This country continues to produce top young talent, but very little of it featured here. Brazil was the sixth-oldest squad at this World Cup (while Germany was the sixth-youngest).

Among the current starting XI, the only locks to make the roster at World Cup 2018 are Neymar and Oscar.

You don't win World Cups with a team full of guys who've never been there before. This isn't getting better in four years' time since, by their own standards, nothing short of a championship is good enough for Brazil.

Realistically, their next shot at that will come at Qatar 2022.

When you're trying to imagine how hard this will be to explain to Brazilians, imagine Canadians being told, "You'll have to wait eight years to be the best at hockey again." Then imagine the bulk run on pitchforks.

That's Brazil's end of it. Since it's not going to suddenly become intrigued with the possibilities of handball, it'll struggle out of it.

What's more intriguing is the damage this has done to Brazil's worldwide brand.

If all it took to win hearts was titles, everyone would love Germany. Even Germans are frequently iffy on Germany.

What Brazil projected for more than half-a-century was something more fetching than victory - it was glamour. No country has ever produced so many romantic figures and footballing rogues.

Take, for instance, Socrates, the man who fairly invented the slow-moving, quick-thinking midfield general, and the fulcrum of those heroically failed teams of the eighties.

He was a leftist philosopher, a qualified doctor, a newspaper columnist, a chain smoker, a high-functioning alcoholic and the guy who helped bring down the junta. In between, he found time for soccer, and was better at it than just about anyone in the history of the game.

"There's more to life than football," he once said. And better yet, proved. Some very good soccer-playing countries have produced one or two players who capture your imagination.

Brazil gave birth to dozens of them.

If the sum of its parts was often greater than the whole, it rarely overwhelmed it. Brazil's best teams were always a collection of individualists sublimated to a single goal. They were - to borrow a phrase from Barcelona and use it in a more fitting context - mas que un club.

That ended here, and who knows for how long.

The Guardian captured that feeling in the morning's obits: "One of the striking things about this World Cup is the extent to which Brazil have gone from being everyone's second favourite team to hardly anyone's." There were several factors that weighed in to that hasty peeling-away.

First and foremost, in a tournament stacked with electrifying sides, the Brazilians were dreary and dull. Occasionally - as against Colombia - they were brutal. There was nothing uplifting or admirable about the style of this Brazil team.

When they weren't chopping down their opponents, they were rolling around on the ground feigning injury. How much of the viewing public thought Neymar was really injured until they carried him down the tunnel on a stretcher?

I'd wager none.

Once that happened, they became depressingly maudlin.

It's not clear why their manager Luiz Felipe Scolari allowed the team to react to Neymar's absence like it was a death rather than a spell on the disabled list.

Looking back on it, the semifinal was won as the teams got off their buses. Brazil slunk in looking desperate, all wearing their "#ForcaNeymar" ballcaps like the world's most downtrodden scout troop.

Germany fairly floated after them, laughing easily. One side was getting ready to play. The other one was already imagining how it would feel to lose.

Scolari would say afterward that he saw his team "cracking up" after the first goal. From this vantage, that was happening long before the whistle.

Beyond Neymar, none of these players inspired. For those who take their cues on the world's best from watching the Champions League (i.e. everyone), this was a stunningly unimpressive group. Against Germany, Brazil fielded three forwards who play for Zenit St. Petersburg, Shakhtar Donetsk and Fluminese. When we think of Brazil, we think of its striking prowess.

That lack of quality (perhaps unfairly) lent the entire group an also-ran feeling.

Most important, while defeat can be romantic as well, there is nothing fetching about a 7-1 loss. No one sings songs about the time the hero got his ass absolutely handed to him.

Since so many of Brazil's nonBrazilian fans were casual to begin with, they can casually wander over to a more attractive, more hopeful side. By this morning, most will have emigrated to the Dutch. They play the sort of soccer we once associated with Brazil.

Within this country, and after some lengthy period of garment rending, the legend of Brazil will resurface. That's a function of faith.

But outside, in the hearts of so many who only swung by to bask in the pomp every four years, it may never recover.

Associated Graphic

Brazilian newspaper front pages Wednesday recounted the carnage from Tuesday's 7-1 semi-final loss to Germany. Many headlines used the words 'humiliation' or 'disaster' to describe the result.

Pulling out all the stops in the elite eight
Since any game in the quarter-final round could go to penalty kicks, goalkeepers could be the most important group of players left
Friday, July 4, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S3


Sometimes they are maddening and sometimes they are lionhearted. The goalkeepers.

Take Tim Howard of the United States. If that match against Belgium had gone to penalties, Howard looked like the guy who could stop all of them.

He's not in the last eight keepers left standing. As every game can go to penalty kicks, the last, elite eight keepers might be the most vital group of players in what's left of the World Cup.

Here they are:


Age: 27

Club team: Sampdoria in Italy

Goals conceded in World Cup 2014: Three.

This man has been Argentina's main keeper for years, was first choice in World Cup 2010 in South Africa four years ago, but is no superstar at the club level.

Sampdoria loaned him out to Monaco and there he was rarely the starting keeper. He's 6 feet 3 inches and has a brother who is 6-foot-10 and plays pro basketball in Argentina. The thing about Romero is that he's had very little extreme pressure so far and has rarely faced penalty kicks. He's on the team because he fits in, mentally, and the players trust him.

An unknown in a penalty shootout circumstance.


Age: 22

Club team: Chelsea in the EPL

Goals conceded in World Cup 2014: Two.

Although on Chelsea's books, he's been on loan at Atletico Madrid for several years and been a vital part of the team's astonishing breach of the Real Madrid/Barcelona duopoly in Spain. An imposing figure at a young age, he's been hardened by those tense encounters in Spain with Atletico's rivals. Like Romero, he's from a family of tall people, several of whom play volleyball for Belgium. Analysts in Spain say he tends to dive to the right in penalty situations, but you can be sure Atletico has told him to stop that.


Age: 27

Club team: Tottenham Hotspur in the EPL

Goals conceded in World Cup 2014: Two.

It's a tribute to the French defence that Lloris could have arrived at the quarter-finals having conceded zero goals. If it weren't for an attacking flurry from Switzerland, that would be the case. Known for his quick reflexes, students of the EPL also know his weakness - he's no expert in penalty shootout psychology. In 22 penalty circumstances, he's only saved two. Not the most reliable, should the battle with Germany end in a shootout.


Age: 28

Club team: Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga

Goals conceded in World Cup 2014: Three.

Neuer saved Germany against Algeria, with a breathtakingly bold persistence in keeping his area and playing as, essentially, a defender. Few can match his confidence facing down speeding attackers. And sometimes he looks on the verge of calamity.

But, like Lloris, he's not considered a vital penalty-stopper, and that's area in which Germany usually excels. He is, however, good at taking them and could well end up taking a shot at Lloris.


Age: 27

Club team: Levante in La Liga, Spain

Goals conceded in World Cup 2014: Two.

Like most of the Costa Rican team, Navas was largely unknown before this World Cup. Only close watchers of La Liga would be aware that he was the outstanding keeper in Spain this past season, putting a mid-level team close to the same statistic as Real Madrid in terms of goals conduced. Here Navas has been brilliant and was key in his country's 5-3 penalty victory over Greece after a 1-1 stalemate.


Age: 25

Club team: Ajax in the Dutch league

Goals conceded in World Cup 2014: Four.

Statistically, he's worst going into the last eight, but allowance must be made - no keeper could have stopped extraordinary shots from Tim Cahill of Australia and Giovanni dos Santos of Mexico. Only a year into his international career for his country, he's considered calm, a solid influence on the defenders. While he has no outstanding record in stopping penalties, his distribution is superb and often finds the pacy Netherlands attackers quickly and accurately.


Age: 25

Club team: Nice in France's Ligue 1

Goals conceded in World Cup 2014: Two.

Ospina is not the star of the Colombia team. That's James Rodriguez. As it happens, though, young Rodriguez is married to Ospina's sister. He's been an outstanding keeper since he was a teenager and is thus vastly experienced. Known to be occasionally foolhardy in leaving his line and area, his penalty stopping stats are good, not great - he has saved four of 21 in the past five years.


Age: 34

Club team: Toronto FC of the MLS

Goals conceded in World Cup 2014: Three.

The facts suggest he's the least likely of men to carry Brazil's hopes on his shoulders. He struggled in the EPL with Queens Park Rangers and is a man nearing the end of his career. In the penalty shootout against Chile he did well, and became a national hero.

He may well need to do that again several times, if Brazil is to lift the World Cup trophy.

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Associated Graphic

Sergio Romero has been Argentina's main 'keeper for years, but is no superstar at the club level.


Kittel crowned Stage 3 winner at Buckingham Palace
The Associated Press
Tuesday, July 8, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S2

LONDON -- At this point, the top Tour de France sprint star might be called Sir Marcel.

Marcel Kittel, the German with a French first name, led a bunch sprint to win Monday's Stage 3 with a finish on the doorstep of Queen Elizabeth's Buckingham Palace. Two days earlier, he courted royal attention as Prince William and Kate saw him win Stage 1 in Yorkshire in another sprint.

The stage wrapped up the English debut to this 101st Tour edition, a rousing success among cycling-crazed British fans. Riders hopped on planes and bid au revoir to Britain before flying across the English Channel onto the race's home turf.

Rain in the City of London doused riders at the end of the 155-kilometre ride from the university town of Cambridge to a dramatic finish past landmarks Big Ben and Westminster.

Italy's Vincenzo Nibali retained the overall leader's yellow jersey with a 2-second lead over the most likely contenders to win the three-week race in Paris on July 27.

Svein Tuft was the top Canadian in 138th place, 16 minutes 13 seconds off the lead. Christian Meier, also from Langley, B.C., was 17:31 back in 154th.

Kittel, led out perfectly by Giant-Shimano teammates, made it look easy as he sped down a final wide approach on The Mall with Buckingham Palace behind him. Peter Sagan of Slovakia was second and Australia's Mark Renshaw was third.

"I'm really, really happy I could win in front of Buckingham Palace," said Kittel, who won four Tour stages last year.

"It was one of the greatest finishes I've ever seen in front of this great scenery."

The hulking German made it a tale of two cities. He added London glory to his record after also winning on the ChampsÉlysées in Paris, in the Tour finale last year. His job in the sprints got a lot easier after Britain's Mark Cavendish pulled out of the race after injuring his shoulder in a crash in Saturday's Stage 1.

"It's one big opponent that is not in the race any more," Kittel said. "Of course, that changes things for me, but also for the team."

Kittel is no threat for the yellow jersey. Like many sprinters, he struggles on climbs and fell nearly 20 minutes behind Nibali in the overall standings in an up-and-down ride on Sunday through the hills and dales of Yorkshire.

Nibali's biggest challengers for the prized leader's shirt remain title-holder Chris Froome of Britain and Spain's Alberto Contador, who finished with the same time as the Italian and Kittel in an 84-rider bunch.

On Monday, the pack cruised nervously and let two breakaway riders go free on Monday.

The duo was caught with about 6 kilometres left.

Tour officials estimated fans made nearly 5 million individual visits - some may have attended more than one stage - to the route in the first three stages. In signs of cross-Channel comity, Tour chief Christian Prudhomme took English lessons before the race; Britons waved both French tricolours and their beloved Union Jacks.

But the teeming curbs, sidewalks and roadsides again caused trouble for the riders.

With about 30 kilometres left, 2010 Tour winner Andy Schleck of Luxembourg was among riders who crashed briefly, and French TV showed a fan on the ground. Schleck, who gingerly returned to the race, said he didn't hit a spectator.

"I guess it was my own fault," said Schleck, who collided with another rider and hurtled over his handlebars.

His Trek Factory Racing teammate Jens Voigt said: "I saw about 15 crashes today. In the end there were two guys on the ground but I don't know what happened exactly ... That's the Tour de France. The first week is always nervous."

In other spills, Ted King of Cannondale and Jan Bakelants, a Belgian rider on Cavendish's Omega Pharma QuickStep team who wore the yellow jersey two days last year, each scraped up their right elbows and knees.

Froome's Team Sky floated the idea that the pack might well ride under the sea rather than fly over it one day, if the Tour ever returns to Britain. The team released a glitzy video Monday saying that last month he became the first man to cycle through the Channel tunnel.

In the video, Froome quipped: "This could be a really, really cool stage of a race."

With files from Samuel Petrequin

Associated Graphic

Germany's Marcel Kittel led a bunch sprint to win Monday's Stage 3. Like many sprinters, he is not a threat for the yellow jersey as he, and others, struggle on climbs. Kittle also won Stage 1 in Yorkshire.


Epstein says Ramirez could join club's Triple-A affiliate next week
The Associated Press
Saturday, June 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S4

CHICAGO -- Manny being Manny has been a positive so far for the Chicago Cubs.

President of baseball operations Theo Epstein praised Manny Ramirez on Friday for his work with the Cubs' minor leaguers in Arizona, and said the former major league star could join Triple-A Iowa next week.

Ramirez signed a minor league deal in May and reported to the team's facility in Mesa to get some at-bats in extended spring training. When Ramirez moves to Iowa, he will be a player-coach for Chicago's top farm club.

"I've gotten unsolicited e-mails and texts from a lot of the staff down there saying that he's been a breath of fresh air and the best thing that ever happened to the kids down in Mesa," Epstein said before the Cubs' 6-3 victory against the Pittsburgh Pirates. "So I'm really pleased with the impact he's making on the organization.

"Probably sometime next week that he's ready to go to Iowa, but we're not in a rush because he's making an impact with the young kids down there who are getting their first taste of pro ball as well as guys like Jorge Soler, who are there rehabbing. Manny's been a really nice influence so far."

The 42-year-old Ramirez is a .312 hitter with 555 home runs in 2,302 games covering 19 major league seasons. But the Cubs brought him in to serve as a mentor for some of their young players and insist he is not a candidate for a promotion to the major league club.

The addition of Ramirez was a bit of a gamble for Epstein, who was the general manager in Boston when the enigmatic slugger helped the Red Sox win the World Series in 2004 and 2007.

Ramirez was suspended for 50 games in 2009 while with the Los Angeles Dodgers after testing positive for a banned drug. He retired in April, 2011, instead of serving a 100-game ban for a second positive test while with Tampa Bay, but later agreed to a reduced 50-game suspension and played in the minors for Oakland in 2012.

He also has been criticized in the past for lackadaisical play, but Epstein thinks he can be a valuable teacher for Chicago's rich minor league system.

"He's been meeting with the young kids there daily, pulling them aside, talking about hitting, talking about not making some of the same mistakes that he made off the field, really keeping them focused on working hard and having a passion for the game and doing things the right way," Epstein said.

When Ramirez gets to Iowa, he will get a chance to work one of the majors' best prospects in third baseman Kris Bryant. The No. 2 overall selection in last year's draft hit .355 with 20 homers in 68 games with Double-A Tennessee, and then belted a two-run shot in his debut with Iowa on Thursday night.

The promotion to Triple-A means Bryant is just one step away from joining the Cubs, but Epstein made it sound as if that would be next season at the earliest.

"I don't forsee a scenario where he'd be up this year," he said. "I don't think it's the right thing to do for someone in his first full professional season, barring extraordinary circumstances both in respect to the player and what's going on at the big league club."

Epstein also is pleased with what he has seen so far from this year's first-round pick, Kyle Schwarber. The No. 4 overall selection from Indiana University was quickly promoted from Chicago's short-season Class A affiliate in Boise, Idaho, to Single-A Kane County.

There is some question about whether Schwarber will play catcher or left field in the pros, but it looks as if that decision can wait for now.

"We decided this year, his first exposure to pro ball, we're going to have him see a lot of time in left field, let him catch about once a week, maybe twice a week, so he can stay fresh with his catching, DH some so that he can keep his bat in the lineup when he needs a day off," Epstein said. "Then we're going to sit down at the end of the minor league season and see whether it's an appropriate time to make a call."

Start of free agency all about overpaying
Capitals' decision to hand out more than $65-million to Niskanen, Orpik is a sign of major desperation
Thursday, July 3, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S2

Trying to separate winners from losers on the opening day of NHL free agency is usually a fool's game.

Edmonton Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish made the point a few weeks ago - 80 per cent of the contracts signed in free agency tend to be poor deals in the long run. Privately, most of his peers would agree. If there are any bargains to be found in free agency, they'll occur later in the summer, when the frenzy has dissipated and the remaining unsigned players are suddenly just looking for jobs.

On opening day, it's all about overpaying to fill in the gaps on your team - which is why the Washington Capitals paid a ridiculous amount of money - more than $65-million (U.S.) - to sign a pair of 21-minute-anight defencemen in Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik, clearly the greatest act of desperation on a desperate day.

The only way to accurately assess the impact of free agency is to wait until next June, when the smoke clears on the 2015 Stanley Cup champion.

But the team that made the most tangible gains was the Dallas Stars, who added Jason Spezza in a trade with the Ottawa Senators and then signed Ales Hemsky to play with him on the second line and only gave up one roster player to get them both in the fold.

Alex Chiasson, the primary asset going the other way, may have an upside playing for Ottawa, but he was not a core piece when the Stars unexpectedly made the playoffs last season and then gave the Anaheim Ducks a scare in the first playoff round.

Stars general manager Jim Nill needed to take the scoring pressure off his top duo of Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn - and he did just that. Spezza, playing as a No. 2 centre behind Seguin, will not face a steady diet of shutdown defencemen, or if he does, then that will free up Seguin and Benn to flourish against lesser rearguards.

Spezza led the Senators with nine power-play goals last season; his presence should help bolster the Stars play with the man advantage.

Among teams that made the playoffs last year, the Stars had the second-worst power-play percentage, trailing only the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.

It was slightly reminiscent of the move the Minnesota Wild made two seasons ago, when they added Zach Parise and Ryan Suter via free agency. The $196-million in total committed by the Wild to the pair was an outlandish, outrageous sum, but Parise and Suter were among those rare free-agent birds: They actually delivered on their promise. Minnesota has made the playoffs in each of the past two seasons; and this year, won a round.

The Wild swapped out Dany Heatley's expiring $7-million-aseason contract and replaced him with Thomas Vanek, an upgrade, even though Vanek's underachieving playoff with the Montreal Canadiens means he arrives with lots to prove to his new employers.

But unlike the Stars, few other teams were able to add assets without losing players at the same time. The Colorado Avalanche, for example, waved goodbye to centre Paul Stastny and then added Jarome Iginla.

One top-six forward in; one topsix forward out.

The St. Louis Blues signed Stastny for a cool $7-million per season, big dollars for a player who hasn't scored 70 points since the 2009-10 season - but Stastny filled an organizational need for a playmaking centre and they didn't give up any assets to get the deal done.

They're better today than yesterday as well.

Last season, five teams in the Central Division made the playoffs and based on their actions Tuesday, all are as good or better than they were a year ago.

Pity the Winnipeg Jets, trying to make up all that ground, with only Mathieu Perreault added to the mix and Olli Jokinen (who signed with the Nashville Predators Wednesday) subtracted.

Follow me on Twitter:@eduhatschek

Associated Graphic

Defenceman Brooks Orpik, seen in this file photo from Jan. 20, is the lucky beneficiary of a new, fat contract from Washington.


Kittel takes fourth stage, Nibali keeps yellow jacket
The Associated Press
Wednesday, July 9, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S2

LILLE, FRANCE -- Marcel Kittel sprinted to his third stage victory at the Tour de France on Tuesday, while defending champion Chris Froome had a scare in a crash that scuffed up his left side and wrist before a tough day ahead on cobblestones.

Astana team leader Vincenzo Nibali of Italy, who kept the yellow jersey, decried a "crazy race" in the 163.5-kilometre Stage 4 along the Belgian border as cycling's big event entered France after a wildly popular three-day start in England.

Unlike his wins in Stages 1 and 3, when he made victory look easy, Kittel eked out victory by a halfwheel length at the end of the ride from Le Touquet-Paris Plage to Lille Métropole.

Kittel, of the Giant-Shimano team, didn't celebrate this time but panted and, instead, it was runner-up Alexander Kristoff of Norway who swatted the air in frustration after being pipped at the line by the barrelling German.

French rider Arnaud Démare was third.

After a difficult day because of crosswinds and jumpy nerves in the peloton, Kittel said of his seventh career Tour stage win, "It's never easy ... [I was] lucky just enough at the finish line."

Froome, the Team Sky leader, fell early in the stage after a rider bumped another into the Briton's front wheel. He got up, got bandaged, and got back to the pack.

Afterward, team boss Dave Brailsford said Froome would undergo X-rays as a precaution.

Slovak star Peter Sagan also went down in a spill, and he too recovered to finish.

"It was a crazy race," said Nibali, describing how his team informed him through his earpiece about Froome's mishap, and went back to see whether he was OK. Froome responded, "more or less," according to the Italian. Froome went straight into the team bus and didn't speak to reporters after the stage.

He skinned up his left knee, left elbow and hurt his left wrist in the crash, and was treated by race doctor Florence Pommerie before rejoining the peloton. She told French TV the injuries were mostly superficial and amounted to "essentially a few scratches."

Froome and two-time champ Alberto Contador are among 20 riders who trail Nibali by two seconds.

Christian Meier of Langley, B.C., finished tied for 132nd in the stage, 79 seconds back. Svein Tuft, also from Langley, was 2:51 behind the stage winner in a tie for 164th place.

Over all, Meier holds the No. 141 position, nearly 19 minutes off the lead. Tuft is just behind in 144th.

An aching wrist could mean pain ahead for Froome. The peloton rolls over nine patches of bumpy cobblestones on Wednesday, which could make for a jointjarring ride and prevent him from keeping his hands on the handlebars.

Many race experts believe Wednesday's 155.5 kilometres (97 miles) from Ypres, Belgium, to Arenberg Port du Hainaut, France, could offer the first big shakeout among the contenders because of the treacherous cobblestones.

"Tomorrow, we just have to make it through the day," Nibali said. "Let's hope it's not raining."

Before the fourth stage, 2010 winner Andy Schleck dropped out because of a crash injury a day earlier. On Sunday, British sprinter Mark Cavendish quit the race after crashing in the final sprint in Stage 1 and damaging his right shoulder.

Kittel has already acknowledged that his job is easier without Cavendish in the race. The Giant-Shimano rider is not a threat for the yellow jersey: Kittel is not a good climber, and lost nearly 20 minutes to Nibali in an up-and-down Stage 2.

Associated Graphic

Marcel Kittel, third from right, leads at the finish line during Tuesday's fourth stage. Kittel also won the first and third stage.


The Associated Press
Friday, July 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S3

Reims, France -- Sprint specialist Andre Greipel won a drizzly sixth stage of the Tour de France on Thursday, as crashes again thinned the pack of support riders for rivals hoping to strip Vincenzo Nibali of the yellow jersey.

The German champion collected his sixth career Tour stage victory in Champagne province by outpacing Norway's Alexander Kristoff in second and France's Samuel Dumoulin in third.

At the end of the 194-kilometre ride from Arras to Reims, Greipel burst out of the pack with less than 300 metres left, and clenched his fists, shouting, at the finish. His job was made a bit easier because Marcel Kittel, a fellow German who has won three stages and dominated the sprint finishes, got a flat tire right before the end.

"I had really good punch today, I am really happy," said Greipel, the Lotto Belisol rider who turns 32 next Wednesday. "Of course I'm not looking at Kittel. I don't need to hide. I am still one of the fastest in the bunch.

"There was a lot of pressure on us, on my shoulders" for a win, he added. "It's a big relief for us." The top of the standings didn't change, as most of the contenders for victory in the threeweek race trailed close behind the muscular Greipel. He was not a challenger for the overall title; like many sprinters, he does not fare well on the climbs that are crucial to winning in Paris. He's 371/2 minutes behind Nibali.

Over all, Nibali has a two-second lead over teammate Jakob Fuglsang of Denmark. Peter Sagan of Slovakia was third, 44 seconds back. Two-time Tour champion Alberto Contador, a day after losing about 21/2 minutes to Nibali, was dealt another setback: His Tinkoff-Saxo teammate Jesus Hernandez dropped out after a crash.

Among other possible contenders, Richie Porte was 1 minute, 54 seconds back, in eighth place.

The Australian inherited the leadership of Team Sky after injured defending champion Chris Froome dropped out on Wednesday following two crashes in a rain-splattered ride.

Porte, too, lost a teammate: Spanish veteran Xabier Zandio was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital with a suspected rib fracture and severe back injury in a group spill with about 79 kilometres left, according to the race medical report. It listed a total of 14 riders with varying injuries from "two big crashes."

"It was such a stressful day - horrible actually," Porte said.

Nibali said that while Froome's out, "I'm still afraid of Contador," and he expects the Spaniard and other yellow jersey aspirants to attack when the race enters the eastern Vosges mountains on Saturday - culminating with an tough uphill finish in Monday's Stage 10.

Toronto revamps defence for Riders showdown
The Canadian Press
Saturday, July 5, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S2

TORONTO -- Scott Milanovich doesn't want the Toronto Argonauts to completely forget their dismal start to the 2014 CFL season.

Toronto opened the campaign with a lopsided 45-21 road loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. On Saturday, the Argos play host to a Saskatchewan Roughriders squad that registered 10 sacks in a 31-10 dismantling of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in its season opener.

"Take nothing away from Winnipeg, but I think we were embarrassed with the way we performed and should feel like we've got a lot to prove [Saturday]," the Argos head coach said Friday. "I know I'm looking forward to kickoff to see if we can get this bad taste out of our mouth."

The defending Grey Cup-champion Riders were very impressive in their opener.

Former Toronto defensive end Ricky Foley had three sacks as the defence held Hamilton to just 114 net offensive yards. Newcomer Anthony Allen - replacing departed Grey Cup MVP Kory Sheets - rushed for 158 yards and a TD, and also had a touchdown catch. So effective was the run game that Saskatchewan quarterback Darian Durant only threw 22 passes, completing 15 for 136 yards and two TDs.

Toronto's revamped defence - it has just four returning starters - will have four new faces against Saskatchewan. Cornerback Vince Agnew, safety Jermaine Gabriel, linebacker Antwaun Molden and defensive tackle Marcus Thomas all get the nod as cornerback Matt Ware, linebacker Jamie Robinson and safety Matt Black go on the injured list while defensive lineman Greg Romeus is placed on the practice roster.

Running back Jeremiah Johnson goes to the injured list, with Anthony Woodson (practice roster) replacing him. That means sophomore Curtis Steele and rookie Anthony Coombs - Toronto's 2014 first-round pick from the University of Manitoba - will share tailback duties.

Backroom strategies and scrambles
Behind the scenes, each party worked to take advantage of campaign talking points
Saturday, June 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A12

TORONTO -- It was 7:07 p.m. on a warm Thursday in June when the Liberal campaign had its greatest scare.

Senior staff for Kathleen Wynne were a few minutes into a nightly conference call when the Ottawa Citizen posted a story about the Ontario Provincial Police collecting documents at the Ontario Legislature that day. The officers were investigating Dalton McGuinty's former chief of staff over the alleged destruction of records related to the billion-dollar cancellations of two gas-fired power plants.

As Bob Lopinski, head of the party's war room, read the story over the phone, the campaign team's hearts sank. Suddenly, the Liberals' greatest liability had been thrust into the spotlight. A government with a history of spending scandals was making a bid for a rare fourth term, and its Achilles heel had suddenly been bared.

The June 5 story was the worst moment in the worst week for the Liberals, who were battling to keep Ms. Wynne in power after the New Democrats rejected her budget and forced a snap election. The bad news had started the previous Thursday, when the Progressive Conservatives released leaked documents revealing the Liberals were looking to bail out MaRS, a not-for-profit research organization.

Then, Ms. Wynne had a shaky debate performance, during which PC Leader Tim Hudak and the NDP's Andrea Horwath tag-teamed her on the gas-plant scandal.

The Premier looked defensive as Mr. Hudak channelled Brian Mulroney, repeatedly asking her why she had not objected to the cancellations as a cabinet minister: "Why didn't you just say no?"

Just one week from voting day, Ms. Wynne was in danger of losing control of the campaign.

On the night of Saturday, June 7, the Premier's team - led by strategist David Herle and organizational guru Patricia Sorbara - convened an emergency conference call. They tore up the schedule for the rest of the campaign and redeployed.

By Monday morning, they had organized a photo opportunity at a school in Cambridge, Ont., the first of several that week, where Ms. Wynne drove two messages: that electing Mr. Hudak, with his agenda of cost-cutting, would put public services at risk; and that voting for Ms. Horwath would split her vote and help Mr. Hudak win.

It was a dramatic change for a campaign to make, especially with only five days to go. But the Premier pulled it off flawlessly, projecting a calm competence that gave no hint of the scramble behind the scenes.

And in the end, it would prove enough to put the focus back on a risky but simple promise made by Mr. Hudak weeks earlier, at a country club in Barrie, that would decide the election.

The Progressive Conservatives knew from polling that many supporters hadn't bothered to vote in 2011 because they were uninspired by the party's centrist platform.

So Mr. Hudak and his advisers decided to motivate them with a truly conservative plan: cuts to spending, a balanced budget, lower corporate taxes. Many Liberals, they calculated, would be angry enough over the gas plants to vote NDP or not come to the polls at all. They also looked to play to the greatest strength of the conservative brand - the economy - by promising to create one million jobs over eight years.

Such a right-wing agenda was in line with Mr. Hudak's principles: A small-government conservative, he had cut his teeth in the budget-shrinking administration of Mike Harris in the 1990s.

At the heart of the Tory team were Ian Robertson, a former charity executive and Mr. Hudak's chief of staff; and Clark Savolaine, a young, brainy American with a passion for policy. Amanda Philp ran the war room and strategist Geoff Owen travelled with Mr. Hudak.

The PCs calculated that the most important thing to do in the campaign was present Mr. Hudak as a serious leader. For that reason, they surprised almost everyone when they opened with a series of policy rollouts instead of attacking the Liberals.

"Tim's lesson in 2011 was that he spent a lot of time talking about what the other guys did wrong but not enough time talking about what he can do," said Mr. Robertson, a slender man with a small pair of spectacles and an impish grin.

They ran a highly targeted campaign - in part to save money and in part to better control their message. Mr. Hudak typically did one or two media events a day, most of them within driving distance of Toronto.

On the Friday morning at the end of the first week, he made the bold pledge that would define the fight. Standing in that country club, he promised to cut 100,000 jobs from the public sector to balance the budget.

"It's not easy, I take no joy in this, but it has to be done," Mr. Hudak told the audience. "Will it mean fewer teachers? It does."

Nearly everyone was blindsided, including Tory MPPs.

Campaign headquarters told them the night before that Mr. Hudak would be detailing his plan for balancing the books, but did not give them the job cut figure, several later said. It was not until after the announcement that the central campaign held a conference call with MPPs.

Tories across the province heard about the issue constantly at the doors.

"I was getting some pushback in places that had been supportive before," said Doug Holyday, who ultimately lost his Toronto seat.

Those who crafted the promise seemed genuinely not to expect it to whip up such opposition.

"What was surprising to me was how few people concluded that we had a big fiscal problem that needed to be dealt with," Mr. Robertson said.

Ms. Wynne couldn't believe what she was hearing. She was on her campaign bus after touring an engineering firm in Kingston that morning when she heard about Mr. Hudak's pledge.

"I was incredulous," the Premier told The Globe and Mail. "It was amazing to me, quite frankly, and it stayed amazing to me that he would think that that would resonate with people."

At Liberal campaign headquarters in downtown Toronto, staff were equally stunned. After watching Mr. Hudak's announcement in their offices, they gathered in the hallways and crafted a swift response. Writer Scott Feschuk bashed off a new stump speech for Ms. Wynne as her bus rolled down Highway 401. When she reached her next stop an hour later, at a medical supply company in Trenton, she was more animated than she had been all week.

"Tim Hudak's jobs plan is to turn paycheques into pink slips for 100,000 people," she said. "Let me spell this out for Mr. Hudak because he is obviously struggling with this notion: You don't create jobs by cutting jobs."

With one announcement, Mr. Hudak had given the Liberals exactly the campaign they had dreamed of.

Over the previous year, Ms. Wynne and her team spent many hours discussing what to run on. The Premier wanted to put forward a hefty agenda in keeping with her activist background. It would ultimately include a new pension plan, billions in funding for infrastructure and raises for front-line social services workers.

In the fall, Mr. Herle - a large, extroverted man with a head of curly grey hair - hunkered down alone at his cottage outside the city. He pored over electoral maps and polling data, and tried to plot a course to victory. His conclusion was that the Liberals needed to set up a head-to-head fight with Mr. Hudak, portraying him as a radical bent on reckless cuts, while marginalizing the NDP.

Mr. Herle also saw opportunities for the party to grow its base, both by taking away traditionally left-of-centre ridings in downtown Toronto from the NDP, and by targeting seats on the fringes of the GTA held by Tories. Both places had seen an influx of middle-class, centrist voters, whether in new condos or suburbs, that he felt were natural liberals.

Meanwhile Ms. Sorbara, a veteran political staffer with a reputation as a hard-driving taskmaster, whipped the party into shape organizationally. She switched it to the federal Liberalist database to help target potential supporters in swing ridings, and bought new software to scrape census data to feed into it.

As soon as Mr. Hudak made his pledge, the Liberals pounced.

One particularly ominous ad showed members of a suburban family - including a little girl and her dog - literally vanishing one by one as a sombre announcer warned Mr. Hudak's plan would force families out of the middle class. The unions piled on, too, filling the airwaves with dire warnings about the PC cuts.

Ms. Wynne set a frenetic pace on the campaign trail, packing in as many as seven events into 16-hour days. At her side was her partner, Jane Rounthwaite, and Andrew Bevan, her bookish principal secretary and a long-time friend. In contrast to Mr. Hudak's strict message discipline, Ms. Wynne often improvised, giving long, complicated answers to questions. It broke the rules of political communications, but her advisers contend it added to her authenticity.

"She's one of the most naturally gifted politicians I've ever met," said Peter Donolo, who oversaw communications for the campaign. "Part of her appeal is that she comes from a different place than the typical, run-of-the-mill, overscripted politicians who speak in soundbites."

At every stop, the Premier warned Mr. Hudak's cuts would damage public services. In her sharpest attack, she visited a water treatment centre in Walkerton, Ont. - where seven people died from drinking tainted water, a tragedy partly blamed on Mr. Harris's cutbacks in the 1990s.

It helped the Liberals that the NDP campaign failed to catch fire.

The party had been optimistic it could attract Liberals disaffected by the spending scandals.

But Ms. Horwath received little attention during the first two weeks of the campaign, unveiling a series of populist pledges while Mr. Hudak and Ms. Wynne dominated the agenda.

New Democrat strategists watched Mr. Hudak's 100,000 job cuts pledge in horror: The announcement turned the focus of the campaign away from Liberal scandals by putting it on the PCs. Meanwhile, Ms. Wynne's attacks on Ms. Horwath for rejecting a left-tilting budget resonated with Toronto voters.

Partway through the campaign, the party retooled. Ms. Horwath went on the attack, labelling the Liberals "corrupt" and pressing Ms. Wynne hard during the debate.

Then, the OPP bombshell dropped and the Liberals seemed in jeopardy. As the clock ticked down, Ms. Wynne made her final mad dash.

Early on election day, things looked good to Mr. Robertson. Initial updates from party scrutineers at the polling stations showed strong voter turnout in Tory-friendly areas. As the day wore on, however, he noticed another trend: A lot of people in Liberal strongholds were also coming to vote.

"Our people were turning out," he said. "But the Liberals and unions were being very successful in turning out even more of their people."

That sealed Ms. Wynne's victory. In trying to motivate his base with unabashedly right-wing policies, Mr. Hudak has inadvertently motivated the Liberals' significantly more.

As her supporters filled an underground ballroom at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Toronto, Ms. Wynne watched the results upstairs with her parents, children and three small grandchildren.

"In an election that close, it would have been impossible for me to know. It was going to depend on who came out to vote," she said.

Partway through the count, she walked down the hall to a conference room where her staff had gathered. She was nervous, a source in the room said, reluctant to believe how well things were going.

In the end, it wasn't even close. The Liberals beat the Tories by more than 7 per cent of the popular vote, winning 58 of 107 seats.

Around 11 p.m., Ms. Wynne entered the ballroom amid a crush of supporters. As she stood at the podium, their cheers drowned her out.

"Whoa!" she said. "We did this."

With a report from Adam Radwanski

Mandela a target of intrigue in final years, says book
Saturday, June 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A17

JOHANNESBURG -- Nelson Mandela's staff and family were put under suspected surveillance by intelligence agents in the final years of his life as feuding factions used state resources to fight for control over him, a new book says.

South Africa's liberation hero and his entourage became the target of backroom intrigue and espionage as relatives and corrupt officials sought to control his medical care for their own interests, according to the book by his long-time assistant Zelda la Grange.

Ms. la Grange worked for Mr. Mandela for 19 years, becoming one of his closest confidantes and travel companions after he was elected as South Africa's first democratic president in 1994. She was pushed out of his inner circle in the final months before he died last December.

Her memoir, titled Good Morning, Mr. Mandela, reveals disturbing details of the battles to control his medical team, access to his hospital room, the revenue from his trust funds, and even his funeral.

Two unknown people mysteriously joined Mr. Mandela's medical team in 2012 as he became increasingly frail, and his doctors were unable to identify them, Ms. la Grange wrote. His wife, Graca Machel, and his household staff believed that the two individuals were state intelligence agents, the book says.

Ms. la Grange wrote to President Jacob Zuma to complain that the suspected spies were infringing on Mr. Mandela's "privacy and dignity." They eventually disappeared from the medical team - and then reappeared a few weeks later. "We could never figure out their mission," she wrote in the memoir.

"I was disgusted at how I understood state resources were being used, and there is little else that angered me as much," the memoir says. "Influences were at play that allowed people to abuse state resources for their own benefit. ... This was a clear example of a corrupt government that allows this kind of interference."

Ms. la Grange said she suspected that her phones and those of Ms. Machel and others were being secretly tapped so that confidential discussions about Mr. Mandela could be monitored.

She does not identify exactly who would have spied on Mr. Mandela and his wife and staff, but other sections of her memoir accuse Mr. Mandela's eldest daughter, Makaziwe, and factions loyal to Mr. Zuma in the ruling African National Congress, of seeking to control Mr. Mandela in his final years of poor health.

She said his wife, Ms. Machel, was "emotionally brutalized" by his daughter, who mocked her frantic reaction when Mr. Mandela was stranded on a highway on the way to a Pretoria hospital because of an ambulance breakdown.

Ms. Machel was frozen out of key decisions about Mr. Mandela and even had to apply for accreditation to attend his memorial service because of the hostility of family members led by his daughter, the memoir says.

Ms. la Grange writes scathingly of the "poison" in the Mandela family and how some factions used Mr. Mandela's mute frailty in hospital as an opportunity to "step in and start controlling matters to their advantage."

As early as 2010, the former president's health was suffering because of interference by some Mandela family members who ignored his wife and took control of the medical decisions, Ms. la Grange said. One specialist, brought in to examine Mr. Mandela in early 2011, expressed "shock" at the poor medical care, the book says. Some of the former president's doctors and nurses "seemed uninterested in his condition and discomfort."

Makaziwe Mandela, speaking to a South African newspaper, would not comment on the book's allegations but warned that Ms. la Grange could be sued if she cannot substantiate her comments.

Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, June 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page T3 may be my new favourite flight search engine. It not only ranks journeys by price, it provides a numerical happy rating that factors in aircraft age and amenities, seat quality and traveller experiences. Looking for a last-minute flight to Paris, I'm given more than 100 options that range from a "dreadful" 2.6 (18-plus hour flight on a "just ordinary" American Airlines plane) to 8.2 on an Air Canada jet that has 32-inch-wide seats and on-demand movies. Flights with "elation" ratings of 9 or higher have on-board WiFi, brand new aircraft and non-stop routing. Travellers who've flown routes before can post details of their experience, but I find comments on crew friendliness and the quality of in-flight snacks less important when finding my personal happy place.

Hockey, family and takin' care of business
Saturday, July 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B3

This used to be date night for Keith Pelley and his wife. Seventeen years ago, the thennewlyweds designated Tuesday evenings as sacrosanct. It served them well, maybe even saved their marriage, especially in its early days when Mr. Pelley was a frenzied hockey and football producer for Fox Sports, based in New York.

"I was travelling 230, 250 games a year," he explains, sipping a half pint of amber dry in a rambling, family-style Italian restaurant out on The Queensway in Toronto's west end.

"Then I'd go over to Europe for three, four months to do NFL Europe. I was never home.

"When we got married, I would say maybe 50 per cent of the people at our wedding would have given us a chance, to be honest with you."

A little while ago, though, date night got moved to Thursday. Which is how it came to be that, on this summery Tuesday in June, Mr. Pelley, the president of Rogers Media, finds himself talking about business in a place where he usually goes to escape all of that.

Mamma Martino's is his regular haunt: He and his wife Joan are here so often, they simply call it "the restaurant." (In fact, one Valentine's Day, it's where he proposed to her.) But he's a born showman, too, with more than 30 years of experience in television production, and he knows how to sell. Over a twohour dinner, like an eager talk show guest he reels off a series of anecdotes, beginning each one: "Oh, this is a good story."

So, never mind that Mr. Pelley's compensation in 2013, according to a Rogers proxy circular, was a sniff more than $1.8-million. Ignore the shirt cuffs with their monogrammed "KWP." (Walter is his father's name.) Forget it was he who oversaw Rogers's astonishing 12year, $5.2-billion purchase of the NHL broadcast rights last winter, a deal that has plenty of Canadian hockey fans worried they'll have to pay to see games that used to be free. The folks at this straight-up Etobicoke restaurant are his constituency. He kibitzes with the owner, Bruno, and compliments Bruno's wife, Jane, on her dress.

Mamma's pastas, pizzas and veal marsala go for less than $10 each, statuary and fountains are out front, clusters of fake grapes and old family photos adorn the exposed brick walls, and there's even a picture of the Mona Lisa for good measure. Parents bring their kids here for dinner, then everyone saunters over to Tom's Dairy Freeze next door for a cone or a banana split and watches the sun melt slowly in the distance.

But if Mr. Pelley is here to escape, his business finds him, anyway: In the other room, a TV tuned to Sportsnet is showing the Toronto Blue Jays; Rogers Media owns both the channel and the team. Under Mr. Pelley's leadership since September, 2010, the high-profile division of Rogers Communications owns more than 20 conventional and specialty channels (including the City network, Omni, F/X and seven Sportsnet TV services), more than 50 radio stations, and dozens of consumer and business publications as well as the all-you-can-read digital magazine service Next Issue Canada.

When he took over the helm from the Rogers lifer Tony Viner, Mr. Pelley told associates he intended to make the company No. 1. At Ryerson, he was a running-back on the Rams football team. "Yeah, I'd say I'm competitive," he says, his head low over the table now; he is practically whispering. "Oh yeah."

The drive to be No. l has been bumpy. Sportsnet has been on a tear, and will benefit enormously from the NHL games. Still, in the past two years, Rogers has launched City stations in both Montreal and Saskatchewan. But it doesn't have a full national footprint, leaving the network a persistent also-ran behind Shaw Communications Inc.'s Global Television and Bell Inc.'s CTV Network. (Bell owns 15 per cent of The Globe and Mail.)

In an appearance before the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission during the spring, Mr. Pelley said the conventional television industry's well-chronicled troubles were intensifying: He noted that Rogers had lost $38-million on City in 2012 and $42-million in 2013, and that he couldn't even trust the sales projections his executives had made five months earlier.

"Where's it going?" he asks, now rhetorically. "Isn't it changing like - "he snaps his fingers - "changing at a torrid pace?" So how, he is asked, can he make a five-year plan with any legitimacy?

"The only thing you know about that five-year plan? That it's wrong," he chuckles. His voice jumps an octave, as it tends to do when he is excited.

"It's the only thing you know! It's the only thing!"

We pause to order dinner from Jane. He requests the meat ravioli and another half pint of amber dry. But when the complimentary garlic bread arrives and neither of us wants it, he tries to give it back and is disappointed to learn that health codes prevent it from being given to someone else after it has touched our table. "Well, now, that drives me crazy," he says.

"So much food is wasted. That's an interesting lesson. Next time, I'm gonna say, 'Don't bring the bread.' See? You learn something every day."

Then, back to business: "I think over the next five years, we'll be the dominant player in the media and the content space." Hockey is the linchpin.

Mr. Pelley won't give away many clues about what's to come - he won't confirm or deny the possibility of equipping players' helmets with cameras - but says the 12-year deal makes Rogers and the NHL true partners, because neither is just positioning for the next contract.

One thing is for sure: Rogers will use all of the media platforms at its disposal to build the game. "Today's Parent will be involved," he says. "Chatelaine. Cityline." So, maybe P.K. Subban's favourite fall recipes?

"Yeah, that kind of concept," he nods. "There'll be far more emphasis on the stars of the game than on the business stories."

The industry was very different when Mr. Pelley first got into the business as a student in the radio-television arts stream at what was then known as Ryerson Polytechnical Institute. Still, it took commitment. He spent one summer working days at Ronald H. Chisholm Ltd., a food importer-exporter where his father was a vice-president, then clocked in for a nightly 6:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. shift as an editorial assistant at TSN.

"It was $35 a shift, but I couldn't say no to getting into the business." His boss was Scott Moore, who now works for him as Rogers's president of Sportsnet and NHL Properties.

After graduating from Ryerson, Mr. Pelley landed a producer gig at TSN. He bought a townhouse near the studios, where a number of the people he is working with now - including Mr. Moore and Dave Randorf, whom he just hired away from TSN for the Rogers hockey broadcasts - were roommates. "Joel Darling, he worked at Hockey Night in Canada as an associate producer, he would bring home the Stanley Cup."

Wait, I ask: Doesn't the Cup travel exclusively with that guy in the white gloves? "Nah. Joel brought it home in a big tuba case, and we'd all get in the bathtub and take pictures with it." He adds quickly: "With our clothes on." Then he smiles at the memory and forks into his ravioli.

Within a decade or so, Mr. Pelley was heading up programming at the CTV-owned sports channel. A few years later, he was named its president. In 2003, he left to become president of the Toronto Argonauts, helping stabilize the CFL club after a tumultuous period.

"It was pretty hands on," he says, chuckling wryly again.

"I'd speak at the opening of a letter, if I thought I could sell a couple of tickets."

Four years later, he was lured back by his old bosses at CTV to head up the Olympic Broadcast consortium for the Vancouver 2010 Games, overseeing an unprecedented effort that brought together the TV and radio properties of Bell Media and rival Rogers. In the run-up to the Games, he tub-thumped relentlessly to convince his normally restrained countrymen to unleash their patriotism.

"The Americans celebrate their stars, they celebrate their heroes. I think Canadians need to be a little bit more nationalistic. We were that in Vancouver," he says. "It became a rallying cry for a nation."

It also became a nice notch in Mr. Pelley's CV, one that proved he could manage a gargantuan operation. A few months after the Games wrapped up, Rogers came calling.

As president of Rogers Media, he is now doing battle with some of his closest former colleagues. "It's just business," he says, and though he shrugs, he has a glint in his eye. He looks down, grabs the garlic bread, and sops up the extra sauce on his plate. "It's very good." He orders another half pint of amber dry.

Joan calls, and he tells her he'll be home soon. After he hangs up, he says he works very hard to carve out time for his wife and two children, Jason, 11, and Hope, 7. It's not easy. "I could work all the time. I love it," he says. Still: "At Jason's graduation, at Hope's graduation, and their marriages, at their weddings, it's very important to me that I've been a significant part of their life, and Joan hasn't raised them [alone]."

Family is why he came back from the U.S., to be near his parents. Almost five years ago, as a perk for organizing the Olympic torch relay, he got to be one of the 12,000 torchbearers. In a nod to his father's Newfoundland origins, he chose to run in Corner Brook. His dad had left there decades ago, arrived in Toronto "on the back of a pickup truck, and worked his way up."

His mom and dad were there with him last January to celebrate his 50th birthday, when Mr. Pelley's friends David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski - the owners of the Argos when he was president - rented the Mod Club in Toronto's Little Italy. "It was really neat."

"They threw a great party, and then they brought out Burton Cummings. And at 12:30, he came out for the third time, and I sang Takin' Care of Business with him. Oh, it was cool."

Was he friends with Burton Cummings? "I'd never met him before in my life!" he says. "But I love B.C. Love him."



Jan. 11, 1964, Toronto


Married 18 years to Joan Pelley

Two children: Jason, 11, and Hope, 7

Two dogs: Taffy and Bella


Radio and television arts degree, Ryerson Polytechnical Institute

Diploma in speech and drama, Trinity College, London .

Career highlights

President, Rogers Media (as of Sept., 2010)

President, Canada's Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium

President and CEO, Toronto Argonauts Football Club

President, TSN

NFL and NHL producer, Fox Broadcasting Company .

A rocky beginning

In high school, Mr. Pelley and a buddy started a DJ company called 4D Sound.

"I've been to more weddings than you will ever be at in your life!"

Their motto: "Music that takes you one dimension beyond."

He recalls: "We started on albums, moved to tapes, and ended on CDs. But in the early days, I did one wedding - this was an hour and a half, two hours away, and the first song was Sharing the Night Together.

So we get to the sound check, and I go: 'Dr. Hook, do you have it?' 'I didn't get it. I said you were to get it.' 'Well, I didn't get it!' Think of that concept now; you can download everything! Back then?

You've got to go meet the bride, and say you don't have the first song."

Associated Graphic

Keith Pelley, president of Rogers Media


Europe's shale gas backers are living in a fantasy world
Saturday, July 5, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1


The Ukraine crisis has come as a godsend to the shale gas cheerleaders in Europe.

Russian natural gas exports to Western and Central Europe, half of which flow through Ukraine, are unreliable, they argue; we need our own gas and - wouldn't you know it - we're sitting on an underground ocean of energy.

Our policy should be drill, baby, drill and if we turn the continent into a pincushion, we will be energy independent and competitive with the Americans, who have so much gas they're practically giving it away.

On paper, it's a compelling argument. Parts of Europe, from England to Poland, are sitting on vast amounts of shale gas. On Monday, even Scotland, which may decide in September to break away from the United Kingdom, learned from the British Geological Survey that it has enough shale gas to supply all of Britain's gas needs for 30 years.

That's good news for Scotland, whose North Sea oil and gas fields are running out of puff.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, have been pumping up the British shale gas story as if it were the greatest thing since deepfried Mars bars. Noting that the United States has become a magnet for energy-intensive industries, like the chemical makers, Mr. Cameron has talked about "reshoring" - jobs returning from overseas - if Britain were to get into the shale game.

The country's massive energy-payments deficit would disappear and the use of carbon dioxide-belching coal would plummet, along with Britons' energy bills. Europeans generally pay three times as much for gas as Americans and Canadians.

And if Britain drills, you can bet that France and Germany would not be far behind. Those two countries wouldn't tolerate handing Britain a massive energy advantage.

The European drilling spree would revive Europe's economy in the same way it did in the United States. And it would allow Europe to tell Russian President Vladimir Putin to take a hike. In the past decade, Russia has cut gas supplies to Ukraine three times, the previous time in mid-June. In 2009, the gas contract dispute between the two countries created gas shortages in 18 European Union countries in the dead of winter.

It's all sheer fantasy. There will never be an American-style shale gas "revolution" in Britain or anywhere else in Europe. For all the talk about gas galore right under the feet of the British, the French and the Germans, not a single commercial shale well is pumping away in those countries (Italy is evidently shale-free, although it does have a lot of pumpable black oil in the south).

How can this be, given the size of the shale resource and the high price for European energy?

You would think the British would sink a drill through the floor of Buckingham Palace if they knew there was gas underneath.

Geology doesn't explain the missing revolution. Blame it on the law, population densities and a relatively strong environmental movement.

The law is the biggie. In the United States, a landowner owns the rights to the minerals to the centre of the earth. The shale bonanzas in the U.S. Midwest and in Texas have turned thousands of farmers into overnight millionaires, or "shaleonaires."

They lease land to the driller, or take a royalty on production, or both. Beats getting up at 5 in the morning to milk cows.

In Britain and in most of Europe, no such subsurface rights exist. In Britain, the wannabe drillers, such as Cuadrilla, plan to buy favour by paying off the local councils, but that's not the same as cash payments to landowners. The minimum requirement for a U.S.-style shale rush is changing the law to allow landowners to cash in.

Concentrations of humans make any driller's life difficult.

The population densities in Europe are five to 10 times higher than those in the United States.

Slapping a drill rig in or next to a village, plus connecting it to a pipeline and stuffing the local roads with trucks to bring in equipment and beefy guys with tattoos isn't going to happen.

Finally, environmental laws are tougher in Europe than in North America. In France, fracking - the use of chemicals and highpressure water to crack open the hydrocarbon-bearing shale - is banned. Ditto Bulgaria. The fear is polluted groundwater, and more than a few horror stories in the United States support the view that fracking is not without environmental costs.

The attempts at shale drilling in Europe have pretty much gone nowhere. Poland was supposed to emerge as the first big European shale market, but it hasn't worked out. Some energy giants, including Exxon Mobil Corp. and Italy's Eni SpA, have pulled out of Poland because the geology and the legislation are not conducive to a drilling bonanza.

The United States and Canada will be happy that the European shale revolution is on hold.

Exports of gas, in the form of liquefied natural gas (LNG), to Europe are inevitable. What Europe needs in an energy policy. It doesn't have one.

There's an incoherent mishmash of national programs that range from Germany's vow to phase out nuclear energy (and replace it with what?) to the pursuit of renewable energy whose subsidies are unaffordable to governments.

Shale is being billed as the cure-all in some countries, notably Britain. Just because it exists doesn't mean it can be produced.

Associated Graphic

In Britain, exploration companies such as Cuadrilla Resources plan to make payments to local councils for permission to drill.


U.S. companies turn on the hiring taps
Dow closes above 17,000 after 304,000 new jobs were added in April, the strongest monthly gain since 2012
Friday, July 4, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

WASHINGTON -- American employers this year are hiring at the strongest pace in 14 years, boosting confidence that the U.S. economy is at last poised to make the Great Recession a distant memory.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 17,000 for the first time Thursday after the Labour Department's latest hiring survey showed companies added 288,000 jobs in June, far exceeding the expectations of most Wall Street analysts. The Labour Department also added 22,000 to its tally of new jobs in April, taking the total to 304,000, which now stands as the strongest monthly gain since January, 2012.

America's economy now has found jobs for 1.4 million people since the start of the year, the strongest six-month total since the second half of 1999. That's the kind of consistently strong hiring that has eluded the United States since the worst of the financial crisis ended in 2009. The evident momentum will allow the Federal Reserve to proceed with its plan to end its extraordinary bond-buying program later this year.

The economy even could pick up speed as the newly hired start spending their paycheques.

"This development will continue to support the purchasing power of households and help offset the drag due to higher prices for energy and food," said Stéfane Marion, chief economist at National Bank Financial, who used to study the U.S. labour market at the Canadian Finance Department.

Wall Street's enthusiasm for the latest hiring figures showed up in higher equity prices and a jump in the value of the U.S. dollar, along with a steady stream of allusions to the fireworks that will accompany Friday's July Fourth celebrations.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index, another closely watched gauge of U.S. equity prices, also climbed to a new record.

Surveys of analysts taken before Thursday's report showed the consensus was for a nonfarm payrolls reading of about 215,000 and for the unemployment rate to remain unchanged at 6.3 per cent. The jobless rate actually dropped to 6.1 per cent, the lowest since August and September of 2008, when the unemployment rate also was 6.1 per cent. When the Fed's policy committee revised its economic outlook last month, it said it didn't anticipate the unemployment rate dropping to its current level until the end of the year.

The jobless rate has proved a poor guide over the past couple of years because its decline had more to do with a shrinking pool of job seekers than increasing numbers of employed people. That wasn't the case in June, as 407,000 people told the Labour Department they had found jobs, while the number of unemployed declined by 325,000.

"The June employment report was without question the most comprehensively constructive jobs report this cycle," Tom Porcelli, New York-based chief U.S. economist at RBC Dominion Securities, said in a note to the bank's clients.

Mr. Porcelli and other economists were impressed by the breadth of the hiring, as almost every major industry posted gains. Employment in professional and business services increased by 67,000, well ahead of its 12-month average of 53,000.

Retailers and restaurants also added workers at impressive clips. Factories increased their payrolls by 16,000.

The strength inherent in the latest jobs figures is further evidence that the first-quarter economic contraction was an anomaly induced by severe weather in an unusually large number of places unused to ice and snow. Mr. Marion and other forecasters predict growth at annual rates of at least 3 per cent in the months ahead.

Evidence that the U.S. economy appears to have found its feet will strengthen the opinion of a vocal minority that argues the Fed is winding down its stimulus measures too slowly.

While the Fed plans to stop creating money to buy bonds by the end of the year, Janet Yellen, the chair, has made clear that the central bank will still leave its benchmark rate pinned at zero well into 2015.

There is lots of evidence that the economy still has a ways to go before it is back at full health.

Wages are growing at a relatively tepid annual rate of about 2 per cent, which will restrain consumption - and reduce any anxiety the Fed may have about an outbreak of inflation. The number of people who are working part-time and said they would prefer full-time work grew in June, indicating slack in the economy.

Associated Graphic

A waiter checks on tables in downtown San Antonio, Tex. U.S. retailers and restaurants enjoyed significant worker growth in May.


Long overlooked as a place to do business because of red tape, Andean country is eager to invite investors - provided they play by the rules
Friday, July 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

The morning after a World Cup soccer victory is an optimal time to interview a foreign minister, it turns out.

In this case, it's a Saturday morning after Ecuador's comefrom-behind 2-1 defeat of Honduras. It is days before Ecuador is eliminated, when anything still seems possible. And as Ricardo Patino says, "What I love is that there are many Latin American countries - Chile, Colombia, Brazil - that are in first place."

He's in Toronto to participate in Inti Raymi, an Incan festival of the sun and celebration of the harvest. He would also like to put Ecuador on the map of more investors, companies and tourists, as the country seeks to drum up foreign capital.

Ecuador, an Andean country with a population of 15.5 million, has long been eschewed by investors in favour of countries such as Colombia and Peru, which have more fervently courted capital. While its neighbours have rolled out the red carpet, in the form of tax credits or reduced barriers to doing business, Ecuador has acquired a reputation for red tape and legal uncertainties.

There are reasons why investors have stayed away. The country opted to default on its debt in 2008 (its President called foreign bondholders "true monsters"). The World Bank puts it in 135th spot in its ease-of-doingbusiness list, behind India and Yemen.

Yet change is afoot that merits closer attention. Economic growth has been above 4 per cent for the past several years. Last month, Ecuador issued its first bond since its default, and it has now allowed the International Monetary Fund to carry out a long-overdue review of its economy. Growth has also trickled down, reducing poverty and inequality and strengthening the middle class, the World Bank notes.

A good chunk of the country's oil revenues are flowing into infrastructure. That shift that has already lured Canadian companies such as Aecon Corp., which was the lead contractor in building Quito's international airport (opened in February last year, it also boasts the longest runway in Latin America).

Ecuador's economy has long rested on oil and bananas. Mr. Patino says the country is diversifying its economic base, and that foreign companies have a key role to play in that process - provided they play by its rules.

"We are different from some other countries in the world that perhaps get more foreign investment, but don't put any conditions or don't regulate activities [such as worker safety or the environment] ... In Ecuador, that's not our policy," said Mr. Patino, who is an economist.

"Companies must have a reasonable profit, but that's not everything."

He rattles off a list of growth areas: green energy, manufacturing, steel plants, port expansions, improved highways and plans to tilt toward a knowledge economy, where his country could benefit from Canada's expertise in science and technology.

Canadian companies are entering Ecuador in mining (Cornerstone Capital Resources Inc. and Ecuador Gold and Copper Corp.) and in energy (Ivanhoe Energy).

They're not just natural resources companies, however. Imax Corp. now has one theatre in the country, with two more pending, while HolaEcuador Property Development Inc. is a Canadian real estate developer selling oceanfront vacation and retirement properties there.

Muthu Chandrasekaran, vicepresident of corporate strategy at Calgary-based infrastructure inspection company Pure Technologies Ltd., reckons he has made hundreds of trips to the country since 2008 for his company, which has analyzed aging water pipes and recommended where improvements should be made in the coastal city of Guayaquil.

It was a tough process - endless meetings, snarled traffic, political change, navigating the tax system and developing contacts.

"You really need boots on the ground," says Mr. Chandrasekaran.

Six years later, patience has paid off. Ecuador has a lesscrowded field of competitors and the country has become more open to foreign investment, he says. His firm plans to open an office in the country as it takes on more work and is using Ecuador as a springboard for more projects in the Andean region.

Ecuador may be open for business, but not at any cost. A bitter court case with Chevron Corp.

over oil pollution in the Amazon region has proven instructive. "I hope we've learned a positive lesson," Mr. Patino says, "that when companies come to Ecuador, they create wealth and make reasonable profits but they don't leave behind a destroyed environment."

Associated Graphic

Ricardo Patino aims to bring Canadian business investment to Ecuador.


Eugenie's dad netted by court over tax ploy
Tuesday, July 8, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

Eugenie Bouchard continues to rise toward the heights her father, Michel, always believed she would. But not as a tax deduction.

The Montreal investment banker was found to have double faulted in tax court last year, after he lost a four-year battle with the Canada Revenue Agency over an attempt to claim developmentrelated expenses that contributed to making his daughter the Wimbledon runner-up, and a world sensation.

When his daughter was a budding tennis player at age nine, Mr. Bouchard established a limited partnership, called Tennis Mania LP, whose stated purpose was to promote junior tennis and financially assist promising young players. The partnership only funded two young players, Ms. Bouchard and Béatrice Gervais - the daughter of the other cofounder, François Gervais. Along with a third investor, Mr. Bouchard and Mr. Gervais contributed money to the partnership in exchange for a share of the players' future tennis earnings. (Mr. Gervais exited the partnership when it became clear his daughter was not going to turn pro.)

Mr. Bouchard argued that, because the young tennis players were not generating any income at the time, the money he put into Tennis Mania - $81,143 between 2005 and 2007, according to court documents - was a business loss and created a tax benefit for himself. The CRA disallowed the claims, which prompted a multiyear battle in the Tax Court of Canada. In August, 2013, the court backed the CRA's decision, that the partnership's investment in his daughter's tennis development was personal, and not a business venture.

Vern Krishna, a professor at the University of Ottawa who specializes in tax law, says, "I'm a big fan of Eugenie Bouchard, and I was disappointed to see her lose on Saturday." But Prof.

Krishna did not view the limited partnership as favourably as Ms. Bouchard's tennis career, calling it "a very badly conceived plan, and ill-advised.

"I would hope her tennis career in the future is more successful than this tax planning."

Ms. Bouchard earned $1.6-million (U.S.) on Saturday for her second-place performance at Wimbledon. The showing almost doubled the career earnings for the 20-year-old, who is now ranked seventh on the tour.

Before a player of Ms. Bouchard's calibre starts making money, however, the costs of training and developing them can be prohibitive.

"As the athlete goes through the system, obviously the costs increase dramatically," says Hatem McDadi, senior vice-president of tennis development at Tennis Canada. While competitive tennis costs are comparable to hockey until age 12, personal coaching, physiotherapy, and travel expenses can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in a player's teenage years.

Players on the pro tour need to earn $150,000 to $200,000 in order to break even, he says.

Tennis Canada provides programs for promising prospects, such as training at the Montreal National Training Centre that is worth $75,000 to $100,000 anually. There's also the Top Player Pro in Transition program for players who are identified as having the best potential.

The program is worth around $200,000 to $300,000 to selected players each year; donors and sponsors top up this funding for additional coaching.

With Ms. Bouchard's win at Wimbledon, she's now at the threshold where she has to return between $30,000 and $50,000 to Tennis Canada. Her father's partnership, however, has no legal claim.

The investors in the partnership had intended to make their contributions in exchange for 10 per cent of Ms. Bouchard's future tennis earnings, up to the amount they contributed, plus a 10-per-cent rate of return per year. But as the court ruling noted, Ms. Bouchard was never a party to the partnership despite being the source of its income - as a nine-year-old, she could not reasonably have consented to signing away part of her future earnings. Instead, Tennis Mania's business model relied on her goodwill to honour its terms. In the eyes of the law, that wasn't enough.

"They did not meet the essential requirements of a partnership, which is that it must be a business with a view to carry on with a profit," Prof. Krishna said.

Associated Graphic

Eugenie Bouchard earned $1.6-million for losing in the Wimbledon final, almost doubling her career earnings.


Fed to end bond buying in October
Historic stimulus measure to wind down in the fall, but benchmark rate to remain at zero as U.S. economy continues rebound
Thursday, July 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

WASHINGTON -- The Federal Reserve said explicitly for the first time it intends to end its extraordinary bond-buying program in October, enhanced clarity that represents a first step toward a lengthy and careful unwinding of years of unprecedented stimulus measures.

Most on Wall Street already had satisfied themselves that the Fed's asset purchases would end at the conclusion of the Oct. 28-29 meeting of the central bank's policy committee. The Fed steadily has been reducing its monthly purchases of Treasury debt and mortgage-backed securities by $10-billion (U.S.) at each meeting since December, 2013. At that pace, the Fed will spend $15-billion under its quantitative easing policy in October.

Rather than allow any questions to linger, Fed officials decided at their June 18-19 meeting the best thing to do would be end the program there, rather than buy $5-billion of bonds in November.

Under quantitative easing, the Fed creates money to purchases the assets, which in turns puts downward pressure on interest rates. The value of the Fed's portfolio now exceeds $4-trillion, compared with less than $1-trillion before the financial crisis.

"Participants generally agreed that if incoming information continued to support its expectation of improvement in labour market conditions and a return of inflation toward its longer-run objective, it would be appropriate to complete asset purchases in order to avoid having the small, remaining level of purchase receive undue focus among investors," the Fed said in minutes of the June policy meeting, released Wednesday after the customary three-week delay.

The minutes confirmed the widely held view that while the U.S. economy is accelerating, it's not accelerating fast enough to convince most Fed policy makers that stimulus no longer is necessary. Fed Chair Janet Yellen has made clear in recent months that the central bank intends to leave its benchmark lending rate pinned at zero for some time after it stops buying assets.

Equity markets rose after the minutes were released, as investors were reassured anew that the Fed isn't close to changing tack. The minutes revealed that many on the policy committee remain wary of weakness in the labour market, household consumption and demand for houses. A particular point of concern was wages, which are growing at a less-than-vigorous annual rate of about 2 per cent.

"Whether the Fed raises interest rates earlier or later than anticipated depends on how well the economy performs in the second half of the year," said Paul Edelstein, director of financial economists at IHS Global Insight, a research firm.

Fed officials expressed unease with investors' apparent easiness with an economic outlook that central bankers find at least somewhat troubling. Major stock markets are trading at record levels, the bonds of recently troubled countries are surprisingly cheap, and measures of overall volatility are low. Some officials worried these factors "are an indication that market participants were not factoring in sufficient uncertainty about the path of the economy and monetary policy," the minutes said.

The Fed's decision to articulate clearly when it plans to end quantitative easing shows policy makers are sensitive to being responsible for any unnecessary surprises. The central bank's aggressive involvement in financial markets as the result of its bond-buying strategies means that walking away may not be easy.

Fed officials used the minutes to advertise their latest thinking on an appropriate exit strategy.

Most on the policy committee are agreed that the interest rate the Fed pays on excess reserves that private lenders stash at the central bank is the most appropriate tool to manage the amount of cash in the economy.

There also appears to be agreement on an aspect of how the Fed manages its portfolio. Currently, when the assets the Fed has purchased since the crisis come due, the central bank reinvests the proceeds. The minutes said most on the policy committee think that policy should continue until after the Fed raises its benchmark rate.

Samsung feels heat in crowded phone fight
With their cheaper devices, Chinese manufacturers such as Xiaomi and ZTE have taken a bite out of sales in the pivotal Asian market
Wednesday, July 9, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

After emerging as the world's leading smartphone maker, Samsung Electronics Co. is now being hit hard by fast-moving changes in the global cellphone market.

The South Korea-based consumer electronics giant became the global flag bearer for Google Inc.'s Android operating system with its premium Galaxy smartphones and a mix of cheaper devices, bruising Apple Inc.'s market lead and overturning industry stalwarts such as Nokia and BlackBerry Ltd.

But newer competitors in China, such as Xiaomi Inc. and Lenovo Group Ltd., are cramming high-end functionality into cheaper devices that also run Android.

These devices are selling fast in the developing world even as the market for high-end smartphones is reaching a saturation point in the West - putting pressure on Samsung, the market leader, which has seen profit pinched and its share price sink.

On Tuesday, Samsung warned that it expected second-quarter profit to drop between 22.3 per cent and 26.5 per cent, which would be the third straight quarterly drop.

The company forecast that profit would drop to $7.1-billion (U.S.) for the three months ended June. Analysts had expected roughly $8-billion.

"Samsung has depended on smartphones to act as the profit engine for the company, but the phones don't have the same luster," says Kevin Restivo, a European mobility analyst with research firm IDC in London.

"There's no question the market has entered a different phase, has evolved - and part of that evolution is falling prices."

Over the past several years, Samsung's mobile phone unit has come to account for more than 75 per cent of the company's total profit. Western consumers kept upgrading to newer versions of its enormously popular Galaxy phones, while its cheaper devices - which were available in a number of price points - sold well in various African and Asian countries.

But now, that lucrative market for mid-tier devices has collapsed, says Chetan Sharma, a U.S. technology consultant who has worked with Samsung, China Mobile and AT&T. Consumers, particularly in emerging markets, are choosing either low-end or high-end devices, and no longer want to spend $400 on a device that is far more expensive than devices with similar features, but doesn't have as much cachet as an Apple iPhone, he says.

"Samsung has benefited tremendously from their brand in emerging markets, but competitors are coming up with products that look similar," Mr. Sharma says. "And so a consumer that wants to own a $100 phone that looks like a galaxy and walks like a Galaxy - there's a number of those coming into the market."

And although Mr. Sharma says Samsung would not be surprised by what's happening, he says profit margins are a natural victim of the trends that are now sweeping through the market.

"Samsung can probably push a bunch of low-end devices, but their margins will get crushed," Mr. Sharma adds.

Xiaomi, a Chinese manufacturer, has become a particularly fierce challenger to Samsung in the crucial Chinese market, producing sleek, touchscreen phones that run Android - but retail for a fraction of the cost of a Samsung, and sometimes have better battery life. In mid-July, it will launch the Mi3, a phone that is almost identical to Samsung's Galaxy S4, but will sell for roughly half the price - about $250. But across China, phones from companies such as ZTE Corp. sell for much less than that, around $100 or less.

But even in lucrative markets for high-end phones, such as the United States, analysts say the explosive smartphone growth of a couple of years has dissipated.

"It's a very mature market at this point," says Charles Golvin, with Abelian Research. "That same growth just isn't there. And most of the high volume sales are coming from the places where Xiaomi are competing - or even at the lower end: companies like ZTE and less known Chinese brands."

Investors look to earnings for more evidence of economic uptick
Monday, July 7, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

Investors are counting on earnings season for a second-quarter rebound after a harsh winter bit into corporate profits.

On Tuesday, Alcoa Inc. unofficially ushers in the spring earnings season when it reports its second-quarter financials, followed in the coming weeks by the quarterly deluge of corporate earnings reports.

Recent quarters have seen companies easily beating lowball earnings estimates.

"It seems like the bar is still quite low," Bank of Montreal chief economist Doug Porter said.

"I think we'll see the typical pattern."

That bodes well for investors banking on earnings season's recent reputation as a reliable source of fuel for the stock market.

The last several quarters have been preceded by waves of profit warnings that prompted analysts to cut their forecasts.

Prior to the first quarter of this year, 92 S&P 500 companies issued negative guidance compared with just 21 that revised to the upside, according to FactSet.

Despit that, 74 per cent of the companies in the index ended up beating those revised expectations.

Though the exercise is a predictable one, investors love a good beat, and corporate earnings have sustained the bull market amid recent volatility in economic indicators.

Last week saw record highs for each of the S&P 500 index, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P/TSX composite index.

"It's been such a strong market that even if a company missed, you had a reaction to the downside, but then you see quite a bit of support coming in," said Jennifer Radman, senior portfolio manager at Caldwell Investment Management.

The first quarter's rash of negative guidance was mostly blamed on a brutal winter, which spread its misery across a wide geographical and sectoral range. Earnings in that quarter came in at 2.1 per cent, which is respectable considering the U.S. economy contracted at an annualized rate of 2.9 per cent, the U.S. Commerce Department reported in late June, marking the economy's worst quarter in five years.

Most economists are predicting an economic rebound of similar size in the second quarter, Mr. Porter said. "I do think there was a significant step up in the economy from a pretty tough start to the year and I think that will be reflected in second-quarter earnings." FactSet forecasts second-quarter earnings growth of 5.1 per cent.

In the last couple of weeks, a number of U.S. economic indicators began pointing in the same direction. Auto sales, home sales and consumer confidence all ticked up, while, perhaps most important, the U.S. unemployment rate fell to a sixyear low of 6.1 per cent in June.

"If companies are willing to hire, they're usually more willing to spend on machinery and equipment as well," Mr. Porter said.

"I suspect that nice spring we had for jobs likely showed up in capital spending."

U.S. business investment took an unexpected 1.2-per-cent dip in the first quarter, and investors will be looking to earnings reports for indications of a rebound.

"Capital spending remains a critical investment debate, and we are looking for signs that companies within technology, industrials and consumer see the need to add capacity," Adam Parker, chief U.S. equity strategist at Morgan Stanley, said in a note.

On a related note, investors will want confirmation that firstquarter weakness was primarily a weather-related phenomenon, particularly in the sectors hardest hit by winter, Caldwell's Ms. Radman said.

"People will be really looking at retailers, because they really lagged. It goes back to whether it's a structural demand problem, or was it that people just didn't go outside."

Labrador Iron halts mines amid steel-industry slump
Thursday, July 3, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

MONTREAL -- Labrador Iron Mines Holdings Ltd. said it is halting all operations at its mines for the rest of the year, the latest industry player to fall victim to slumping demand.

The benchmark price of iron ore, used to make steel, has plummeted 30 per cent this year on rising global supply and reduced steel output in the critical Chinese market. The spot price is in the $93 (U.S.)-a-tonne range, down from almost $120 in early April, a level at which highcost producers such as Labrador Iron can barely meet their costs.

Some observers see the price falling to below $80.

Labrador Iron is experiencing "considerable strain" on its cash resources and now needs outside investment if it is to continue operations, the company's chairman and chief executive officer John Kearney said.

Across-the-board cost-cutting measures are in place and Labrador Iron is in talks for potential financing with commodity traders, financial institutions and others, the company said. The focus for 2014 is development of the flagship, long-life Houston Mine in the Labrador Trough, it said.

However, financing in the current climate of uncertainty has dried up for many mining companies, as they buckle down and slash costs to ride out the slump.

Iron ore producers Atlas Iron Ltd.of Australia and giant BHP Billiton Ltd. have cut jobs and taken steps to boost productivity.

Closer to home, Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. indefinitely mothballed its Wabush Pointe-Noire iron-ore pellet plant on Quebec's north shore last year, and Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. sharply scaled back its Mary River iron ore project in Canada's north.

"Right now, the chart for iron ore looks horrible," said John Kaiser of Kaiser Research Online.

"I would not want any exposure to iron plays."

Labrador Iron said on Wednesday that development of its Houston Mine is subject to completion of financing and the negotiation of major contracts.

The company also said it is seeking to cut costs by renegotiating agreements with contractors and suppliers.

Desjardins Securities industry analyst Jackie Przybylowski said in a note that she sees a "low probability that the company will raise the required funds in the next few years."

Smaller companies with deeppocketed partners have a better chance at surviving the current slump than those on their own, Ms. Przybylowski said. "It seems like the mining companies that have partners are probably in a better position to finance their projects."

For the fourth quarter ended March 31, Labrador Iron said it posted a loss of $20.5-million (Canadian) or 15 cents a share, compared with a loss of $71.3million or 65 cents a year earlier. The company completed its third operating year in December 2013.

Some observers say iron ore - particularly the deposits in the rich Labrador Trough in Newfoundland and Labrador and part of Quebec - still offers solid mid- to long-term potential.

"There can be short-term fluctuations but demand from China and India will continue" as modernization and urbanization boost the need for steel, Wade Locke, economist at Memorial University, said.

"The Labrador Trough has a lot of big, big potential," said Mr. Locke, who co-authored an economic impact assessment of iron mining in Labrador for the Newfoundland and Labrador government in 2012.

A key advantage of Labrador Trough iron ore is that it is relatively cheaper to produce than in China, the world's biggest producer of iron ore, said Mr.Locke.

Somewhat offsetting that difference is the high cost of shipping to China.

Labrador Iron (LIM) Close: 95¢, down 1¢

Friends meet for lunch to help Ottawa's homeless
The donors Chris Henderson and Neil Knudsen
Saturday, June 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B2

The gift: Raising $53,000 and climbing

The cause: Alliance to End Homelessness

Chris Henderson has built his career coming up with ideas for clean energy and protecting the environment, but one social issue has become a personal concern: homelessness.

Mr. Henderson, who runs an Ottawa-based consulting firm called Delphi Group, has tried working with charities to raise money for homelessness and increase awareness about the issue. But he felt most of those efforts had little impact.

"No one seemed to be wringing their hands about it," he recalled. "So, I went to a group of friends and said: 'Why don't we get together and do a fundraiser?' "

That led to the start of an annual fundraising lunch at an Ottawa restaurant, Oriental Chu Shing. This was the third year for the lunch, which has raised $53,000 in total for the Alliance to End Homelessness and other local charities that work with homeless people. The lunch also features people from various agencies who discuss challenges facing the homeless.

"We've got it down to a science and keep it simple," said Neil Knudsen, an Ottawa management consultant who is a co-organizer of the event. He added the pair doesn't sell tickets or market the lunch, preferring to rely largely on word of mouth to keep costs down.

Mr. Henderson said he hopes to find another group that will start a similar lunch in a different part of the city. For now, though, he's just happy to be finally doing something to address the issue.

"This event is very much saying that individuals and families can make a difference," he said.

The rodeo's secret-service men
Scott Byrne is a bull fighter, not a rodeo clown - and he never hesitates to rush in and take the hit when the riders are down
Saturday, July 5, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S2

INNISFAIL, ALTA. -- The clouds roll in and the mood darkens as eight oneton assassins are caged in their chute. Some are grey in colour, some are black; some even have the tips of their horns sawed off to make them less dangerous.

You look at those horns close up, from behind the chute, and your guess is it has only made them madder.

Standing in the arena, Scott Byrne waits for the mayhem. It comes with an eruption of anger and streams of whip-snapping drool as the bull known as Bombs Away drops its rider, then turns to run him over.

Byrne puts himself between the bull and bull rider. He dekes one way; the beast goes the other, before trotting off to its pen.

The rider leaves without winning a nickel. Byrne readies for the next explosion.

They call themselves bull fighters, not rodeo clowns, and you can tell the difference when you watch them in action. There is no grease paint on their faces, no water-spraying plastic flower pinned to suspenders straps.

They don't tell jokes. They don't hide in barrels and they don't sit at a poker table and let a bull crash through them. Oh yes, that's been done.

What bull fighters do is protect bull riders. In rodeo parlance, they are the secret-service men.

They stay in the background until needed, then rush in to take the hit.

"In a nutshell, mentally and physically, you have to want to put your body on the line for someone else," Byrne explains.

"It's really a game of close calls and quite a bit of luck ... Honestly, I love it."

The man who tangos with bulls was born in Saskatchewan, operates a horse-boarding business near Brandon, Man., and at 42 is considered the dean of his rodeo profession. Today, Byrne makes his 12th appearance at the Calgary Stampede, "the greatest outdoor show on earth."

At his first, he says he stood in the infield dirt hours before the show started and stared at the huge grandstand. "I almost crapped my pants," he recalls. "I was so nervous."

Since then, Byrne has garnered the intestinal fortitude and savvy to keep bull riders from getting seriously skewered.

Naturally, he is drawn into a conversation about the hits he's taken over the years, including the one last summer in Ponoka, Alta, when a bull stomped on his face.

It was a hoof that caught Byrne under his right eye, ripped open a slice of his upper lip and smashed the orbital bone to the point where his face was swollen beyond recognition.

He can touch his forehead and still feel a tingling sensation in his cheek.

Of course, that was nothing compared with what happened several years ago in Lethbridge, Alta. A bull hit him so hard it broke five of Byrne's ribs and bruised a kidney. He was stretchered off the field and felt this strange warmth overtaking his body. He figured he was dying.

He took the next day off. The day after that, he was back in the arena, putting his broken chest to the test.

"All the bull fighters make you feel pretty safe," says Tanner Girletz, the rider who was planted by the despicable Bombs Away. "But when you have the elite guys, like Scott, you feel you can bear down and go harder. He reads stock better than anyone. He can remember bulls and how they react."

So you ask Byrne how he does it and does it so well. (The "why" question comes later.) Does he keep a running journal on which bulls do what? Does he play the percentages? Is there such a thing as bull fighting analytics? He chuckles and says he has learned to expect the unexpected; that it is better to react than to try and out-scheme a raging Brahman.

The safest move is to get "in the pocket" - more rodeo parlance, this time for standing next to the bull, in tight by its shoulder so the bull fighter can grab one of the horns and steer it away. The rationale is simple: Bulls don't have a great turning radius. What they do have is power to spare. On a straightline dash, the four-legged beast will beat the two-legged cowboy every time.

"We also do a lot of hand touching on the bull's head," Byrne continues. "When you touch bulls, nine times of 10 they want to throw that off their head. They'll bay up a little bit.

That buys us that second or half a second to get in the pocket or get away."

He was a lousy bull rider in his day, but too infatuated with rodeo life to let it go. Having an uncle who was one of the best bull fighters of his generation made for too good an opportunity to waste. So Scott went to Ryan Byrne for help.

Ryan Byrne spent 25 years fighting bulls and remains the only Canadian to have worked the prestigious National Finals Rodeo in the U.S. He wore the face paint because it was tradition. Clowns in the early 1900s wore it. Jasbo Fulkerson wore it when he became the first man to hide inside a barrel then get knocked around the infield. The legendary likes of Rex (Mr.Smooth) Dunn, Leon Coffee and Flint Rasmussen all wore makeup while they dodged disaster.

Ironically, few of them wore anything more protective than a knee brace.

"I don't think there's much difference," Ryan Byrne says of bull fighting then and now, "except for the opportunities. There are more indoor rodeos and so many more rank bulls that bull fighters can make a pretty good living at what they do ... My boys are enjoying it."

Jesse and Bo Byrne are bull fighters; younger brother Tanner is a bull rider. At the 2014 Calgary Stampede, cousins Jesse and Scott will offer up their protection while Tanner will ride. All the Byrnes share the same desire to be where the danger is.

"That's what I'm always asked: 'Why? Why are you a bull fighter?' "Scott Byrne says. "It's an addictive sport. I'm always a little nervous before the chute is opened. But when that bull comes out, it's an adrenalin rush. It's hard to describe unless you're out there doing it."

With his ankles taped, knee braces on and his chest protector pulled snug, Scott Byrne does some stretching behind the chutes. The rodeo announcer tells the Innisfail crowd, "This is the toughest eight seconds in sports," alluding to the amount of time a rider has to stay on his bull before looking for a soft place to land.

On this cloudy afternoon, Byrne is working with fellow bull fighter Scott Waye. It's a Yoda-Luke Skywalker type of arrangement. Inside the arena, Waye feeds off Byrne's confidence and experience. Out of the arena, Waye takes in Byrne's worldly advice.

"He's a businessman," Waye says. "He told me right from the start that I should be thinking about what I'm going to do when my bull fighting career is over because it doesn't last forever."

When the last bull has been dispatched to its pen, Byrne and Waye shake hands, then mingle with the fans exiting the Innisfail grandstand. Everyone is in agreement: This was a good day. The rain held off and no one got hurt, not even the bull fighters.

Associated Graphic

Bull fighter Scott Byrne distracts a charging bull from getting at a rider at the Daines Rodeo in Innisfail, Alta., last month.


To prepare for work and for protection, Byrne gets his ankles taped, and wears knee braces and a chest protector.


Toronto's ever-intense third baseman evolves
Saturday, June 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


There are a couple of images that instantly spring to mind when you consider the fledgling professional baseball career of Brett Lawrie, third baseman of the Toronto Blue Jays.

The first is from two years ago, at Yankee Stadium in July, when Lawrie made a harrowing headfirst dive into a camera bay trying to snare a foul ball. He flipped over the railing and wound up dropping about two metres onto an unforgiving concrete floor. He was fortunate that an injury to his right calf only kept him out of the lineup for a couple of days.

The second occurred two months earlier at Rogers Centre in Toronto when Lawrie became incensed at a called third strike by home-plate umpire Bill Miller. He stalked menacingly toward the startled umpire and then hurled his batting helmet to the ground, only to see it bounce up and glance off Miller's hip. For that fit of anger, Lawrie was fined and handed a four-game suspension by Major League Baseball.

Demonstrative, fiery, brash, overbearing and even childish have all been words used to describe the now 24-year-old from Langley, B.C.

But Lawrie has been making a concerted effort to curb those emotional outbursts this season, and the American League club believes the added maturity is paying dividends with his improved performance.

"Now just knowing how to keep things on the straight and narrow and just keep it under control for the most part," Lawrie said in a recent interview when asked about trying to play with a little more emotional restraint. "Just knowing what I can and can't do out there is the biggest thing."

That is not to say simmering emotion doesn't continue to drive everything he does. But apart from firing the odd helmet into the dugout wall after an unsatisfying visit into the batter's box, he has so far this season been able to keep his raging hormones in check. Where once a borderline called third strike for the third out would lead to a demonstrative outburst, Lawrie these days chooses to simply peel off his batting gloves and lay them gently on the playing surface and move on. A close play for an out at first and he will turn and head back to the dugout, lips sealed, no glaring looks at the ump.

"I don't know if describing it as being more under control is the proper wording," said Toronto outfielder Jose Bautista, who seems to have conquered his own anger-management issues. "The way I would describe it is that he is certainly more mature. I think he has a better idea and understanding of some of the things he needs to stay away from, like sometimes running too hard down the first-sbase line [and risking injury] all the time or jumping into camera wells to get foul balls, stuff like that."

Now in his third full season as the Blue Jays' regular third baseman - with occasional stints at second - Lawrie has emerged as one of the top young defenders in the game. With his remarkable athleticism, including above-average speed, Lawrie continues to make jaw-dropping plays seem routine.

Toronto manager John Gibbons has stated repeatedly that a Gold Glove award, symbolic of defensive supremacy, is in Lawrie's future.

Offensively, Lawrie's batting average of .237 is a bit troubling. But his 11 home runs, tied for third highest on a slugging Blue Jays club, has already matched his regular-season high over a full season, and his 37 runs batted in indicates an ability to deliver in the clutch.

"Nobody plays the game harder than Brett," Gibbons said. "He'll run through a wall for you. I mean, he plays to win and you wish everybody was like that. But the thinking is, he just needed to back down the intensity just a little bit. Defensively, I don't think he has to change, but offensively it can kind of work against you when you're too revved up stepping up to plate."

The Lawrie era in Toronto began on Dec. 6, 2010, when the Blue Jays, who always coveted his Canadian roots, sent starting pitcher Shaun Marcum to the Milwaukee Brewers to bring him into the fold.

The Brewers had selected Lawrie in the first round in the 2008 first-year player draft straight out of high school with the 16th overall pick, making him the highest Canadian position player ever chosen. But things did not go smoothly for Lawrie during his stint with the Brewers. There were rumblings out of Milwaukee that he was a bit of a problem child - headstrong and brazen, an unbridled colt who rubbed management the wrong way.

The Blue Jays did extensive background checks before they traded for Lawrie and they never viewed him that way. They saw a player with incredible passion for the game who would stop at nothing to achieve his goals.

Lawrie was raised a catcher but soon realized that position was too hard on his legs, as his speed has always been one of his biggest attributes. The Brewers tried to turn him into a second baseman while Lawrie coveted third, thinking that was his fastest ticket to the major leagues.

The Blue Jays had no need at the time for a second baseman with Aaron Hill comfortably settled in there, but they had an opening at third so Lawrie was welcomed aboard.

Starting off 2011 in Triple-A, he finally got the call-up to the big leagues in August of that year, and immediately made an impression. He went 2-for-4 with an RBI in his first game against the Baltimore Orioles, collecting his first hit with a single off Tommy Hunter in his first at-bat.

Two days later, Lawrie stroked his first home run, and on Aug. 10, in just his fifth major-league game, he clubbed his first career grand slam against the Oakland A's.

This season, the Blue Jays have tested Lawrie's patience by moving him to second base on occasion to keep the big bat of Juan Francisco - who can play third, if nowhere near at Lawrie's level - in the lineup when Toronto faces a right-handed starter. Lawrie has taken the move in stride and is prepared to keep running with it as long as it benefits the team.

But at some point he believes a decision will have to be made as to where his long-term defensive spot will be, just for peace of mind.

"If I'm at second base then I want to play there," Lawrie said. "I don't want to keep switching back and forth. I need reps, I need the opportunity to continuously go out there and play the spot because when I prepare for a day I prepare for that day."

Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos said he sees third base in Lawrie's future.

"Look, we've said it, he's a third baseman, there's no doubt about that," Anthopoulos said. "He's doing something for the good of the team, which we're all thrilled about and it's what we need to do. I haven't even thought about a year or two years down the road. Right now he's playing both because we have a need there and that makes us the strongest club and allows us to win more games. I don't think anything has changed in terms of our view of him as a third baseman long term."

Penalty shootout packs a punch, Argentina advances
Netherlands The Dutch made no mistakes, but took no chances in regulation, only to gamble and lose on penalty kicks. What was the coach thinking?
Thursday, July 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


The Dutch do not have a style. They have a desire. No country has ever got so close to the World Cup title and fallen short so consistently. Those failures have corrupted its soccer soul. It doesn't know who it is any more. The results of that psychic tension showed here.

In the 1978 final, with less than a minute remaining in regulation against Argentina, the Dutch were an empty net and a struck post from the world championship. At the time, it seemed unfair. That team was one of the most unreasonably positive in the history of the game. Since then, it's begun to seem like a sort of justice.

Over four decades, Dutch teams have been, by turns, groundbreaking, aspirational, heedless, bullying and - this time around - suicidally cautious.

The Dutch came to Sao Paulo on Wednesday not really intending to play Argentina. Instead, they hoped to bleed them over 120 minutes of grim, error-free football. They made no mistakes, because they took no chances.

They gambled on the crapshoot of penalties and rolled sevens. Four days ago, they subbed in goalkeeper Tim Krul and beat Costa Rica in similar fashion. The move seemed inspired then. On Wednesday, they were out of substitutions by the end of the game, and that now seemed like carelessness.

Instead, their undersized regular 'keeper, Jasper Cillessen, was overwhelmed by Argentina. He should've saved at least two. It was over by the time the South Americans had completed only four rounds. Argentina moves on.

On Tuesday, Brazil loses 7-1. On Wednesday, its bitter rival books passage to a World Cup final at the Maracana. There are no games on Thursday, but if the current trend continues, Brazil should expect biblical plagues.

Perhaps there are a few in the tactics gang who enjoyed watching this 0-0 chess match on grass (if, occasionally, the opponents rose from opposite sides of the table and walked around to give each other a good, hard kick). Not a single one of those could be Dutch.

This was soccer brinksmanship. It wasn't 22 players playing.

In the first half, the Netherlands' two remarkable forwards - Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben - had fewer touches of the ball than Argentina's goalkeeper.

This was was two coaches coaching.

Argentina manager Alejandro Sabella had nothing at his disposal aside from Lionel Messi, who was blanketed and buffeted throughout. Drawing the game out was his only choice.

But what was Dutch coach Louis van Gaal thinking?

He's been as big a star here as any player. But over the course of a month, his constant fiddling eventually amounted to gross interference.

In its first game, the Netherlands routed Spain 5-1. That was a hallelujah moment. It should have been a mission statement.

Instead, it was a tactical feint.

From that point on, the Dutch began disappearing inside themselves - scoring three, two, two, zero, and then zero again. Zero is not a sustainable number.

Nonetheless, van Gaal was sold as a savant. His decision to insert Krul into the quarter-final penalties was the bold stroke of a genius.

His ego has always been healthy. After being hired to his first head-coaching job, he began his introductory press conference with, "Congratulations on signing the best manager in the world." He meant it.

He's been saying it ever since at a succession of top clubs, never pausing to wonder why he's always wearing out his welcome.

The cracks are inevitable in any van Gaal team, and too often at the crucial moment. In his postgame presser, he said two of his players refused to take the first penalty. He declined to name them, calling it "a humiliating question." Humiliating for whom?

As it ended in tears - another World Cup opportunity squandered - one's mind wandered back to a snippet from the autobiography of a more ambitious genius, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He and van Gaal worked together briefly at Ajax. It didn't go well.

"Van Gaal liked to talk about playing systems," Ibrahimovic sniffed. "He was one of those in the club who referred to the players as numbers. There was a lot of five goes here and six goes there, and I was glad when I could avoid him."

There was the inevitable divorce. Ibrahimovic went elsewhere and became one of the best players alive. His final judgment on the coach: "a pompous ass." Van Gaal stuck with his numbers.

Calling penalties "the most terrible scenario," he seemed to round back on himself on Wednesday night.

"It's simply a matter of luck and we did not lose today," van Gaal shrugged. Well, half right.

What he managed to do here was show so much caution, it amounted to wild risk-taking.

That's some trick.

This was the failure of a single ego, rather than that of a team.

Van Gaal convinced himself that he could think his way through the problem of Argentina. He forgot to include a crucial variable - that he doesn't get to play.

If the Dutchman has a twinned opposite in soccer history, it's the Irishman Brian Clough.

Clough also won European championships and titles as a manager. He also came up from nothing. He was also a supreme egoist. But he never confused the drawing board with the field of play.

"Players lose you games, not tactics," Clough once said.

"There's so much crap talked about tactics by people who barely know how to win at dominoes."

In the end, van Gaal ended up rolling dice with himself. It would be easier to forgive if he'd been playing with his own money, instead of using Dutch pride as his currency.

Follow me on Twitter:@cathalkelly

Associated Graphic

Ron Vlaar of the Netherlands misses a penalty shot against Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero during their World Cup semi-final on Wednesday. Argentina won 4-2 on penalty kicks to advance to Sunday's final against Germany.


Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero saves the third penalty shot from Wesley Sneijder of the Netherlands.


Saturday, July 12, 2014


A Thursday Sports story on the World Cup incorrectly said Brian Clough is an Irishman. In fact, he was born in England.

This wasn't about a Brazilian collapse. It was all about German engineering
Wednesday, July 9, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

It's seven games, you see. Just seven.

The World Cup takes a month to unfold, and with so many matchups, goals, subplots and twists, it's easy to forget, from the first game to the final, it is only seven steps.

Germany, the team and its management, understood this in the precise, impactful way that matters, that makes winners. Prepare for each game separately, fashion a strategy specific to each one, then throw it aside and move on to a precisionengineered plan for the next.

That's how they destroyed Brazil in the semi-final.

Before the match, consensus was that it was a toss-up, the closest game on the bettingodds board this whole tournament. Brazil, without Neymar and Silva, was vulnerable. Ah yes, said the deep-thinkers with beard-stroking consideration, but the Brazilians have home advantage, passion and tons of raw talent. Besides, they can play agressively, with theatrical showmanship, to spook the opposition and the referee, if necessary. Gives them an edge.

Even Nate Silver favoured Brazil to edge it. The American statistician/writer, famous for his accurate, data-based predictions about baseball and election campaigns, said on his blog, "Even without Neymar and Silva, the team remains the leading contender to win the World Cup in our estimation.

You may or may not agree with the math, but the intuition behind it is this: Soccer is a team sport, and Brazil is a very deep team."

That, it turns out, is so not true. You can keep your data, dude.

It would be easy to explain away the astonishing scoreline, 7-1, as the fundamental and structural collapse of Brazil. It would be tempting - and many will not resist it - to point to the absence of Neymar at the front and Silva at the back as rather like removing the supporting joists of a building and watching it fall down. In Brazil, after the brooding stops, Neymar's absence will be woven closely into the core mythology of this World Cup.

All of that would be insulting to Germany. Appallingly so. Germany prepared for this match, studied hard, and implemented a winning plan of attack. Maybe it was a meltdown by Brazil that will enter the annals of international soccer and, whenever mentioned, people will shake their heads in disbelief. But it happened for a reason. It was engineered.

Germany manager Joachim Low gave the watching world a master class in tactical arrangement and planning. It was evident from the lineup announced before the start that Germany intended to anchor everything in a straight line down the middle, from Bastian Schweinsteiger to Miroslav Klose. The two veterans had not started all of Germany's matches in this World Cup, but putting them in here against Brazil was a signal. Germany would soak up Brazil's aggressive speed and attack, and then counterattack straight down the middle.

It worked, beautifully. Schweinsteiger played deep, and he's rarely spent so much time so close to his own goalkeeper. But he was there, cunning, always knowing where Klose was in front of him, and getting him the ball through Toni Kroos or Thomas Mueller, was the plan.

Germany had noted that Brazil, in previous games, had never settled on a specific midfield roster or positioning. Sometimes Fernandinho, sometimes Paulinho, sometimes David Luiz improvised the role and got the ball to Neymar. Nothing was settled about Brazil's middle and there, clearly was the vulnerability. After 20 minutes, Germany was driving straight at the Brazil penalty area with blithe ease.

Perhaps even more impressive was the psychological advantage the Germans had. Low had talked in advance about the Brazilians' "brutal" behaviour in the game against Colombia, and insisted his players would need to be protected by the referee. He also referred to some actions by Brazil's players as "completely exaggerated," meaning they claimed to be fouled when nothing had happened.

He wasn't going let Germany fall into the trap usually set by Brazil - play with speed, fall down if necessary and persistently express outrage.

Early in this match, Marcelo Vieira raced into the German area and Philipp Lahm dispossessed him with a perfectly fair challenge. He got the ball, not the man. Marcelo collapsed in supposed agony. Pure theatrics. It wasn't Lahm who claimed innocence. It was Germany's Jerome Boateng who expressed outrage, pointing vociferously to the diving that had just occurred.

That, right there, was when Brazil was finished. No histrionics would work. The theatre part of the thing was cancelled.

In tactics, mind games, ball possession and pace, Germany had a plan, one fashioned for this game, against this team. And it worked.

Germany indicted its formidable adaptability in previous games. Against France, Schweinsteiger, Kroos and Sami Khedira dominated the midfield, played high and refused to give the French attack any space. On that day, Germany looked vastly different from the team that had been stretched earlier by Algeria. Lesson learned; the next plan was midfield balance and control.

For Germany, each step has been an example of rigorous preparation and execution of a plan. Only one step is left, and Germany will be prepared. Never mind the opposition: It's all up to German planning now.

Follow me on Twitter:@MisterJohnDoyle

Associated Graphic

Sami Khedira (6) fired a low blast past Brazilian defenders and goalkeeper Julio Cesar to give Germany a 5-0 lead only 29 minutes into the semifinal match against Brazil. The Germans will next face the winner of today's Argentina-Netherlands game.


Canada has hoop dreams for its Olympic future
Tuesday, July 8, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

VANCOUVER -- Picture this: It is August, 2020, at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, and the gold medal men's basketball game features the perennial powerhouse, the United States.

The opponent is an unlikely challenger: Canada, in the country's first appearance in the championship game in 84 years.

And here's a wilder picture: Canada wins.

That takes us back to the beginning. In basketball's official Olympics debut, in Berlin, 1936, it was played outdoors - which marred the gold-medal game between the U.S. and Canada. It rained through the day, and the game was played on a swampy clay-and-sand court. The U.S. won 19-8. James Naismith, the Canadian-raised inventor of the game, awarded the medals.

Canada has never again won a men's basketball medal, and the national team has qualified for only one of the past six Olympics, so imminent prospects of a return to hoops glory may sound unlikely.

But in the minds of a new generation of basketball players emerging from Canada, an Olympic gold medal does not seem like a ridiculous dream at all.

The core of Canada's envisioned 2020 team made a major leap into professional basketball at the NBA draft in late June, led by the trio of No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins, No. 8 Nik Stauskas and No. 18 Tyler Ennis.

There will be more to come, such as Trey Lyles next year.

As well, others are already in the NBA, including the veteran of this youth movement, 23year-old power forward Tristan Thompson of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

He was drafted No. 4 overall in 2011, and invokes the upset basketball gold won by Argentina at the 2004 Games as an example of what Canada might achieve.

"That's our game plan right there," said Thompson, a confidence issued without swagger or hubris.

During those Games in Athens, the U.S. didn't have its best-ever team, but it was a pretty good squad: The roster had Tim Duncan and Allen Iverson as well as a young LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. But Argentina's golden generation, led by then 27-year-old Manu Ginobili, usurped the U.S.'s longstanding hold on basketball gold in the semi-finals on the way to victory, as the Americans settled for bronze. It was the only time the U.S. hasn't won at the Olympics since NBA players made their Dream Team debut in 1992.

The road from potential to Olympic glory is beautiful in the imagination, but the reality is harsher. Canada is No. 25 in the world right now, behind Mexico and ahead of the Dominican Republic. Last summer, the national team - led by Thompson and guard Cory Joseph, but without the full complement of the best players - failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Spain.

Instead, Canada this summer will play a heavy schedule of 11 exhibition games from July 24 to Aug. 12 against top competition, designed to forge a team ahead of qualification games in 2015 for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Who will play remains unclear. Canada Basketball will likely have commitments from the young Canadians in the NBA such as Thompson, Robert Sacre of the Los Angeles Lakers and Kelly Olynyk of the Boston Celtics, but the availability of recently drafted players is less clear.

Wiggins, the most prominent name, is scheduled to be at a coaching clinic with his former University of Kansas coach, Bill Self, in Kansas City Aug. 9-10. And the Cleveland Cavaliers, who drafted Wiggins first overall, have not said whether Wiggins will be made available to play.

"You're never going to get every player every summer," said Rowan Barrett, the assistant general manager on the national team, on assembling this year's squad.

The potential has team bosses excited. "This group of Canadians wants to represent and has the chance to do something very special," said Jay Triano, national team coach and an assistant coach with the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers.

But Triano warned that it takes time and commitment to build a national team. "If guys elect to take this summer off, it's going to be very difficult to qualify for the [2016] Olympics, to just show up next year at the qualifying tournament," he said.

If Canada does reach Rio, the team would still be very young.

By Tokyo, 2020, the team would be in their mid- to late-20s, the prime of their careers.

Wiggins is a fulcrum. Canada has depth under the basket and behind the three-point line, but it is Wiggins on the wing who could bring a Canadian team together. He has previously played for Canada, but opted out last summer when he was getting acclimated at the University of Kansas.

"I love it, every time," said Wiggins in an interview in February about playing for Canada in the past. Last month, speaking with, he talked of his general pride of country: "Everywhere I go, I rep Canada.

It's who I am."

Wiggins's participation isn't make-or-break this summer. But unlike the U.S., which can afford to have one or two stars not sign on, Canada needs its best.

Decades after Escobar killing, Colombian soccer finally recovers
Thursday, July 3, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


On July 2, a week after his own goal had cost Colombia a chance to advance into the knockout rounds of the 1994 World Cup, a group of men approached team captain Andres Escobar outside a Medellin nightclub.

An argument that had started inside now escalated. Someone pulled a gun and began shooting. They pumped six bullets into him.

According to his fiancée, after each shot, one of the assailants yelled, "Gooooaaalll."

It's never been clear if Escobar was killed on impulse or assassinated. The only man convicted of the crime - the bodyguard for a pair of local drug dealers - repeatedly changed his story.

Escobar's murder was a tipping point. It destroyed Colombian soccer. Twenty years on, it's only begun to recover here in Brazil.

There is no greater or more clichéd way to express the elemental link between fans and their teams than to tie them together in death.

After Uruguay beat Brazil in the 1950 World Cup final at the Maracana, contemporary reports had local supporters jumping to their deaths inside the stadium. There is no record of their names.

Nevertheless, it's a feature of any retelling of the Maracanazo. Did it happen? Who knows. These examples have nothing to do with real people. The victims are emblematic of the larger point - how much the game meant. They killed themselves for it.

Escobar's death was different. It had a face. The whole world had seen the replay of his terrible error. He'd written an article of apology afterward, and concluded it with the line, "Life doesn't end here."

This death had the opposite effect - it made the game trivial.

The crime gripped the world's imagination, but it was a final insult for Colombians. They were by this point inured to the link between soccer and violence, but this was too much.

At the height of the coke trade, before Pablo Escobar was chased out of his aunt's house in 1993 and shot on a rooftop, before Colombia's cartels were pulled apart in a campaign of legal murder, the preferred toys of the narcotraficantes were soccer clubs.

The other Escobar, history's most famed drug kingpin, was a sort of psychopathic Robin Hood.

He built vast estates for Medellin's poor, and then set his child assassins into them to take target practice. They used the method Escobar had pioneered as a teenage hitman - two men, back-toback on a motorcycle, the rearward-facing one spraying machine-gun fire.

Pablo Escobar had many interests, but soccer was his fixation.

He controlled the hometown team, Atletico Nacional, behind a series of fronts. It was both a plaything and a money-laundering operation. He was buried wrapped in a Nacional flag.

During the 1980s and early '90s, Colombian soccer became a battleground between the country's most powerful crimelords. Officials were either bought off or cowed. Referee Alvaro Ortega was murdered in the street several days after making a call that cost Nacional a win. When the country's justice minister pointed out in 1983 what everyone already knew - that drug lords owned most of the country's first division - he was killed as well.

This culture of death overwhelmed an entire country, and infected all its institutions. The only one it improved was soccer.

Suddenly, there was unlimited money to spend on players and managers.

Having never before done anything of consequence, Nacional lifted a Copa Libertadores - the South American Champions League. Andres Escobar scored the first penalty in the shootout that won it.

In life, the two unrelated Escobars were said to have been cordial, though never friendly. (In death, it was said that if Pablo had been alive, he would not have allowed Andres to be killed.)

Propped up by drug money, the national team was now concentrated in two professional clubs - Nacional and America Cali (of the Cali cartel). A golden generation began to form and cohere. At the 1994 World Cup, Colombia was the fourth-ranked side in the world. Pele had predicted it would win.

Then it went sideways on the field, and right into the ditch off it. Many of the best internationals quit in despair.

Escobar's murder leant popular support to an ongoing campaign to cleanse Colombia of the cartels, by any means necessary.

Coke went out of fashion. The drug business moved further north, closer to its primary market. Colombia's crime problem didn't disappear, but the drug lords lost their place at the head of society.

Without their money, Colombian soccer collapsed, at home and abroad.

It's taken two decades to rebuild. On Friday, Colombia will play Brazil in its first ever World Cup quarter-final.

Escobar's family will be in attendance. His siblings spoke to FIFA's website pre-tournament to remind people why they're here.

"People should enjoy football with passion, but never forgetting it's a game."

It's a wonderful sentiment.

Thanks to the complexities of human nature, it will never be entirely true.

Follow me on Twitter:@cathalkelly

Lowry eager to 'do something special'
Friday, July 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S3

TORONTO -- Looking out on applauding Toronto Raptors fans gathered before him inside a sports bar at 10 a.m. on a Thursday summer morning, Kyle Lowry broke out in a wide, boyish smile and shook his head in amazement.

"This is awesome," said the Raptors' star point guard. "This is awesome."

Hundreds of basketball fans gathered inside Real Sports for the team's public announcement that they had re-signed the 28year-old to a new multiyear contract, the heart and soul of the squad, and its top priority in free agency. Joined by general manager Masai Ujiri, the two spoke of the family they're building in Toronto, the winning culture and the kind of place in which top NBA players want to put down roots.

"This is a first-class organization, and coming back here, I want to do something special," said Lowry, as the bar's jumbo video screens played a montage of his most memorable on-court moments of the season. "People say 'Toronto can't do this or that in free agency,' and I just proved them wrong."

The deal was reported last week but couldn't be made official until Thursday, when the NBA's moratorium on free-agent signings ended. Terms weren't released but reports have indicated it's a four-year, $48-million (U.S.) contract. He had reportedly also met with the Miami Heat and Houston Rockets, and says he seriously considered the offers.

"[Other teams] were real factors; I did my homework and took my time. I had a couple of meetings with my family, and we went through the pros and cons," Lowry said. "The way Masai handled everything, this went so smoothly. I got the deal exactly the way I wanted it."

Fans became enamoured with the gutsy eight-year NBA veteran for his fearless performances this season, as he played through several injuries and jump-started many late-game comebacks. Lowry played a key role in leading the Raptors to a club-record 48 wins, their second-ever Atlantic Division title and first postseason appearance since 2008.

"For us to have a fighter, a bulldog, everything I want in a leader ... he came back here to fight for the Raptors, and to make the decision one day after free agency started says a lot about this person," Ujiri said. "This is just the beginning of something good for the Toronto Raptors."

The Raptors acquired Lowry from the Houston Rockets in July, 2012. He had been the 25th overall draft pick by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2006, but hadn't thrived there or in his three seasons with the Houston Rockets.

This, he says, feels like home.

The six-foot, 205-pound point guard posted career highs in points (17.9), rebounds (4.7), assists (7.4), field goals (457) and three-pointers (190) last season, his second in Toronto. He ranked seventh in the NBA in assists per game and tied for eighth in threepointers.

"It was easy to come back here," Lowry said. "I talked to [teammate] DeMar [DeRozan] every day for like five, six days straight. We're so close ... he just listened ... we're brothers."

Ujiri said a few minutes after they agreed to their deal by phone, Lowry texted him to ask whether he could do anything to help recruit other players. For a team that had in the past struggled to land and keep free agents, its general manager says the tide has changed.

"To me, there are no excuses any more - it's as cold here as it is in Detroit or Chicago, and they have championship; well I'd rather be in Toronto," Ujiri said. "We have the best fans in the world; I don't care what anybody says. We built a culture with our fans, and that culture is winning, and Kyle Lowry was at the forefront of that. Our guys play hard and they compete, and players in the NBA see that and want to play where there is a great atmosphere."

The Raptors made a few other moves this week. They signed first-round draft pick Bruno Caboclo to a rookie contract and traded forward Steve Novak and a future second-round draft choice to the Utah Jazz for point guard Diante Garrett. Guard Grievis Vasquez tweeted Wednesday night that he and the Raptors have agreed on an extension.

"Other teams had great things and pieces that were great, but the situation I'm in, the age I'm at, me being able to lead the team and grow as a person, that was the biggest factor," Lowry said. "You don't get many chances to say this is your team. I relish it, getting to say it's my team, and I'm the leader of this team."

Associated Graphic

Fans became enamoured with Kyle Lowry's fearless performances this season.


Linden takes a breather after rapid Vancouver remake
Friday, July 4, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S2

ANCOUVER -- When Trevor Linden was hired as the new boss of the Vancouver Canucks, a returned hero whose chief job was a swift rehabilitation of the hockey team, he faced a three-month sprint through an obstacle course crowded with moving objects.

The holes to fill were numerous - coach, general manager, and throughout the roster - and the challenges were significant - Ryan Kesler and his microscopic trade list. Linden, a rookie NHL executive, has managed well, conjuring a rapid remake that cuts ties with the Mike Gillis era and establishes reasonable foundations for his tenure.

"It's been intense," said Linden in an interview Thursday. "I'm extremely pleased with how things have worked out."

The Canucks promised change, wanting to excise all memories of the season of John Tortorella. In April, facing waning demand for season tickets, the team offered a money-back guarantee until July 11 so buyers could see what Linden delivers. Time is almost up, and most of the work is done - but it's not certain skeptics have been converted into believers.

Linden got the GM he wanted, Jim Benning, and the coach, Willie Desjardins. A trade of Kesler was done, to mixed reviews.

David Booth and Jason Garrison - a combined cap hit of about $9-million - were jettisoned.

Ryan Miller was the marquee free-agent signing, providing reliable stability in the crease, and on Thursday Radim Vrbata was added, a 33-year-old goal scorer.

The Canucks didn't get everything they wanted - the team couldn't secure a trade for the No. 1 draft pick in late June or convince free agent Jarome Iginla to come to Vancouver - but it has been three months of solid work for Linden.

The report card may look all right but it is not especially inspiring - and this is reflective of difficult circumstances. Linden arrived amid the end of a wreckage of a season. There was no single move he could make to instantly remake the Canucks into a contender. Instead, it's a two-tier strategy: Aim for the playoffs in 2014-15, while building a stronger contender for the years thereafter.

Making the playoffs will still be a challenge, as it is hard to declare the Canucks today better than the team of one year ago.

And the Western Conference remains ferocious, with the likes of Anaheim, Colorado and Dallas all looking tougher than they were last year.

Vrbata, relatively unheralded, could become a fulcrum. The right winger scores goals, puts a lot of pucks on net, is strong on the power play and is savvy in shootouts - all elements the lowscoring Canucks need. And even as Linden and Benning rework the roster, if the Canucks are to truly improve next season, much of it will come from revived performances from veterans, starting with the Sedins, who are turning 34 and coming off their worst season in a decade. Vrbata is imagined as the man who will provide a new spirit on the first line alongside the Sedins.

"I'm a big believer in chemistry," Vrbata said. "[It] helps so much in today's league, where sometimes it's so, so tight. You can really gain advantage by knowing the guys."

Vrbata on the first line creates a second line centred by Nick Bonino, acquired from Anaheim in the Kesler deal, flanked by Alex Burrows and Zack Kassian, according to a sketch by Benning.

The idea is this composition gives the team more scoring depth. The third and fourth lines then look to include names such as rookie Bo Horvat, veterans Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen.

"It's not about someone coming in and scoring 40 goals," Linden said. "It's about guys playing to their potential and being a 15to 20-goal scorer. If you can have enough [of] those guys throughout your lineup, and manufacture goals, that's ultimately how you win games."

All in, however, one cannot decisively say these Canucks are better than the Canucks who failed under Tortorella. To this Linden leans on the prospects for Desjardins, the rookie NHL bench boss at 57: "His influence on this group will be significant."

When Linden was hired, he circled July 15 on the calendar, roughly marking the date where he would get a chance to breathe, take a day or two off. Most of the work is done. The team still has to re-sign three restricted free agents, Kassian, Chris Tanev, and newly acquired Linden Vey, but the Canucks of 2014-15 appear to be largely in place. Considering where the team was on the day Linden began his work, the past three months have been a success, but it may not be enough to produce immediate success on the ice.

Associated Graphic

Canucks president Trevor Linden has quickly remade the team from top to bottom, adding a new head coach and GM and tweaking an underachieving roster.


Brazil The fantasy World Cup is shattered as injured star Neymar was the poster boy for the team, the country, the tournament
Monday, July 7, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


It hasn't hit them yet.

They weren't caring much about Neymar and his broken vertebrae here in Rio on Friday night.

The fireworks were launched, sometimes with a deafening, pounding sound - no lights, just noise - as ugly as Brazil's win over Colombia. They drank and partied on the streets. Those vast seas of yellow shirts celebrating the carnival that continues here for another few days.

But it will hit them, eventually. By Saturday photos of him in pain on the field were on the cover of every newspaper.

Still, it didn't seem to sink in that their best player's World Cup was over. Asking people about it, the response was a shrug. Too bad. But only two games left, Brazil can win two. It's the destiny now.

But Brazil's World Cup is as brittle as Neymar.

He epitomizes everything about the alleged attractions of a World Cup held in Brazil. The poster boy for the team, the country, the tournament. His image is ubiquitous. It's his shirt that the people wear. His number, the iconic No. 10, that's on the cheap flip-flops the World Cup tourists buy to stroll on the beaches. He's it; he embodies everything.

Young, slim, glamorous, with sublime skill in ball control and a breathtaking instinct for goalscoring opportunities, he's been poetry in motion, and Brazil's picture of itself for some time.

He stayed here longer than most young stars. Famous as he was a standout for Brazil's team at the 2009 U-17 World Cup, he stuck with his local club employer, Santos, for four years.

He rejected all the offers of enormous instant wealth that came with the bids made for him by the richest teams in Europe.

He lent legitimacy to Brazilian club soccer by staying here, giving it a much-needed upgrade in image at time when this country of storied soccer clubs seemed to exist only as a development factory for European teams. Neymar came to exist in the public imagination as a fantasy embodiment of the "New Brazil," the Brazil reaching for first-world status and confidence. In a way, he's part of why the World Cup and Olympics are being held in Brazil.

He's the walking, running, stylish, smiling exemplification of the Brazil that dares to host the World Cup and expects to win it.

As he writhed in pain on the field on Friday, though, he became something else - the personification of Brazil's brittleness as a country and a team.

Holding the World Cup in Brazil was a fantasy idea from the beginning. A sort of impulse-buy by the nation. With a stagnant economy, a seething middle-class and rampant urban crime, the place has been barely holding it together as World Cup hosts.

And then the national team, in keeping with the situation, didn't look like the country's image of itself as a captivating soccer outfit and international powerhouse.

The win against Colombia was a win-at-all-costs victory. The play was aggressive, angry, and violent and as far from the beautiful game as this World Cup will get, if we're lucky.

There is bitter irony in the fact that although Brazil won, and in winning ugly, it lost its avatar of elegant soccer, doing so in the course of a grotesque combat Brazil itself unleashed. The tactic was to cause harm to Colombia's players and the result was serious harm to its own best player.

What happened is that anxiety about being second-best gave way to angst and that in turn became anger and desperation.

Which is something that could be said about Brazil itself in the lead-up to the hosting of the World Cup.

The very idea of a World Cup in Brazil in anchored in the international public and Brazil's own ideal of Brazilian soccer - cultured, creative, and joyous. That's now as broken as Neymar's vertebrae.

After a glorious start, the tournament has turned constricted, cautious, the style of play premeditated, not free-flowing. The goals are fewer. And in Neymar's injury is captured every reason why it's all gone awry.

He symbolized so much at the start and now symbolizes the unseemly end. The end of beauty, the end of "joga bonito." It hasn't hit them yet here, but it might when everybody sobers up and looks around at what's happening.

Follow me on Twitter:@MisterJohnDoyle

Penalty shootout packs a punch, Argentina advances
Argentina As this South American country prepares to play Germany in the final, what it really preps for, with lip-smacking anticipation, is jeering Brazil
Thursday, July 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

There's a video you can find online that shows Argentina's players and team officials chanting and dancing in the locker room. This happened after Argentina beat Switzerland 1-0 earlier in the World Cup. It's funny stuff, but what you take way from it is the intensity of the singing and the mad dancing. What they sing is the pointed little ditty called, "Brasil, decime que se siete." It means "Brazil, tell me how it feels." It was sung over and over by supporters of Argentina who poured into Brazil for the World Cup. As many as 120,000 came and they sang it everywhere, obsessively.

The point of it is to mock Brazil for being "bossed around" at home. The song sneers at Brazil and boldly asserts, "Maradona is better than Pele." It was composed and has been popular long before Brazil was humiliated by Germany and eliminated.

The point of everything with this Argentina team, its supporters and the entire country of Argentina is forever established that Argentina is the one true great soccer countries of South America.

Brazil won five World Cups, Argentina won two. It is time to put that right. It's an obsession with Argentina.

As much as Argentina will prepare to play Germany in the final, what it really preps for, with lip-smacking anticipation, is jeering Brazil. The team players are only instruments of a massive mind game.

Thus it will matter little that the semi-final victory over the Netherlands was a prosaic, stuffy affair, marked by timidity, even lack of ambition by Argentina.

Their ambition is to reach the final in Brazil and then win it. By any means necessary.

It's a historical need. A nagging, gnawing commitment to putting Brazil in its place. To the rest of the world, arguing whether Maradona or Pele is the greatest player in soccer history is something to be done over a beer, idly, without malice. In Argentina it is of vast, epic significance.

The time, Argentines believe, is now. They have Lionel Messi, the best player in the world. Around him they have an exceptional team, skilled in every department and in Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero (the star of that locker-room video with his swagger) they have youngsters who might be their golden generation. An age-old wish can be fulfilled.

The fact that the players sing in the locker room what fans sing in the stands and on the streets is significant. Often, at a World Cup, you'd get the impression that players are so remote from the fans and the media that they breathe a different air. Not with Argentina. The team is the nation and the nation is embodied in the team. The nation will feel a great deal better when it gets this grudge settled.

Sure, there is irony in the fact that Messi was barely visible against the Netherlands. Germany will take great comfort from the manner in which he was stifled. Sure, there is irony in the fact that it was not Argentina's goal-scoring star or the team's general prowess that sealed the victory - it was the goalkeeper Sergio Romero, nobody's idea of a glamour-puss star. "By any means necessary" might be Argentina's motto, and it doesn't care if the world is puzzled. The world doesn't matter. It's Brazil that matters. It's shouting in Brazil's face that matters.

Against Germany in the final Argentina will play well. It will face daunting opposition, a team cocky from demolishing Brazil. But it won't be Germany that Argentina is actually playing against. It's Brazil. That kind of weird resentment can take you very, very far. Possibly past Germany. Possibly.

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Doctor gives $10-million for First Nations health care
Saturday, June 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A6

OTTAWA -- A Toronto doctor who received money from the sale of his father's generic drug company has given $10-million toward improving the health of Canada's indigenous people.

The University of Toronto announced on Friday, National Aboriginal Day, that Michael Dan and his wife, Amira, made the donation to its Dalla Lana School of Public Health to create an institute that will study the health issues among the country's aboriginal population.

"This is the single most important issue facing my generation, and if people like me don't do something about it, then I wouldn't be able to sleep well at night," Dr. Dan said in a telephone call from Bosnia, where he was visiting his in-laws.

"The opportunity to do something about it is here," he said. "The university is ready to tackle something like this."

Dr. Dan, a former neurosurgeon, shared in the proceeds of the sale of Novopharm Ltd., a generic drug company founded by his father, Leslie. He used $17-million to create the Paloma Foundation in 2002, and has given millions to charities around Toronto.

The institute created by the Dans will operate with the input of indigenous people and will bring together scholars in public health, medicine, nursing, social work, education, law, anthropology and many other disciplines. It will tackle a complex and difficult issue.

The life expectancy of First Nations people is five to seven years shorter than that of the general population. Among the Inuit, it is 15 years shorter. Indigenous newborns have a mortality rate that is 1.5 times that of babies in the rest of Canada, and they have more birth defects.

People living on reserves are 31 times more likely than other Canadians to contract tuberculosis. They are three to five times as likely to develop diabetes. They bear a disproportionate risk of traumatic injury. And their rates of infectious disease and suicide are significantly higher.

"If you look at it in totality, it's completely overwhelming," Dr. Dan said. "But I think it's possible, working on a community-by-community basis, to just make a little dent in some of these big issues. You'll never achieve anything unless you sit down with a community and ask, 'What are your health problems, how can we help you?'"

The University of Toronto will host Canada's first indigenous health conference later this year.

Howard Hu, dean of the Dalla Lana School, said the institute will add to the other work already being done on aboriginal health at the U of T, and results will be measurable.

"The mission will be to generate the kind of scholarship and evidence and new graduates who have this as the focal point of their work and who have the methods and the training and the evidence to know what can really lead to improvements in aboriginal health," Dr. Hu said. "It's called 'indigenous' health purposely, because there's lots of what we can learn from initiatives and partnerships with indigenous peoples around the world."

Among Dr. Dan's other philanthropic ventures was the creation in 2006 of Gemini Power, a hydroelectric corporation that finances the construction of power stations that are turned over to First Nations to operate.

Obama's message to Iraq unclear
As with previous crises, U.S. President's approach is pragmatic rather than doctrinaire - and remains a work in progress
Saturday, June 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A4

WASHINGTON -- State Secretary John Kerry is Baghdad-bound to deliver President Barack Obama's plan for coping with a widening sectarian war that now stretches from Syria across Iraq and threatens to inflame the Middle East.

But the message from Mr. Obama to Iraq's beleaguered and Shiite-dominated government remains unclear.

That may be a recurring theme in the Obama doctrine - that there is no doctrine, only a pragmatic approach to dealing with crises as they arise and an aversion to the sort of long-running military entanglements that cost so much blood and bullion since 2001.

In Iraq, as with previous crises, Mr. Obama's objectives remain a work in progress, a short-term approach often decried as weak and wavering by his critics and defended as careful and reflective of the new limits to superpower capacity by his supporters.

Over nearly six years in the Oval Office, Mr. Obama has faced a cascade of crises in the Middle East - a region where, for decades, allies and adversaries had stayed pretty much unchanged and there was neither regional war nor comprehensive peace. But the reliable array of despots, dictators and ruling families has been swept away by the pro-democracy Arab Spring and its violent rebellions, extremist factions and secessionist struggles. On Mr. Obama's watch, U.S. policy has mostly consisted of reaction.

So far, the President has hedged over whether he will back Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki or whether he wants him out. He won't say whether he will accept a nascent Sunni state or a Kurdish declaration of independence, both of which would finally end Iraq's century of fractious existence as a multi-ethnic state.

It's not clear whether Mr. Obama is ready to order U.S. warplanes to deliver months of punishing air strikes - as he reluctantly did in Libya in 2010 - wielding air power without the risks of American boots on the ground. Nor is it clear whether the vague threat of air strikes will evaporate in the heat of domestic and international opposition, as it did last year when Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad's used chemical weapons against his own people.

Do the new facts on the ground in Iraq - as they did in Crimea - matter more than the sanctity of long-existing borders?

The President has ordered hundreds of elite U.S. forces to Iraq but not to fight, only as advisers. He's ordered a carrier battle group into the Persian Gulf. U.S. warplanes are again in Iraqi skies but only on reconnaissance missions. He seems serious about intervening to prevent the emergence of an extremist caliphate sought by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. But both the nature and the duration of that intervention is - perhaps deliberately - vague.

At the end of 2011, extricating the U.S. troops from Iraq was - in his own words - a "moment of success" and delivered on the central promise of his original bid for the White House.

Less than three years later, Iraq is again riven along ethnic lines. In Libya, the high hopes after the U.S.-led air war backing rebels that toppled Col. Moammar Gadhafi have been replaced by violence and uncertainty. In Syria, Mr. al-Assad, remains in power and more than 160,000 people have been killed in a grinding civil war.

"What I've seen is - in far too many cases - the President doesn't back up his words with actions," said Kentucky Sen. Paul Ryan, a possible Republican presidential contender in 2016. "It's not that he says one thing and does another. It's that he doesn't do enough. The instinct is to go for the bare minimum - just enough to show concern, but not enough to get results."

Even supporters are irked at the President's determination to get out of conflicts abroad at all costs, even at the risk of delivering a power vacuum to adversaries.

Former Secretary of State and undeclared Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton writes in her book Hard Choices that she "worried that it might send the wrong signal to friend and foe alike," when, in 2009, Mr. Obama set a fixed date to exit Afghanistan.

The Washington Post, generally supportive of the President, opined: "President Obama has been claiming credit for 'ending wars,' when, in fact, he was pulling the United States out of wars that were far from over. Now the pretense is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain."

Already, the President's caution on Iraq looks like dithering compared to other leaders.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose backing of the Syrian regime and support for Crimean separatists has left Mr. Obama looking out-manoeuvred, was offering unambiguous support for Mr. al-Maliki on Friday.

Mr. Putin telephoned the Iraqi leader and "confirmed Russia's complete support for the efforts of the Iraqi government to speedily liberate the territory of the republic from terrorists," the Kremlin said in a statement.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


A Saturday news story on the Middle East incorrectly said the United States ordered air strikes in Libya in 2010. In fact, it was 2011.

Number of displaced persons surges past 50 million mark
Associated Press
Saturday, June 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A4

BEIRUT -- For the first time since the Second World War, the number of people forced from their homes worldwide has surged past 50 million, the United Nations refugee agency said Friday.

Syrians fleeing the devastating civil war and a fast-growing web of other world crises accounted for the spike in the displaced, the UNHCR said in its annual Global Trends Report.

At the end of last year, 51.2 million people had been forced from their homes worldwide, said the UNHCR. That's six million more people than at the end of the previous year, reflecting a collective failure to resolve longstanding conflicts or prevent the eruption of new ones, the head of the agency said in announcing the report.

The latest figures do not include the half-million people believed to have fled violence in Iraq over the past week.

"The world has shown a limited capacity to prevent conflicts and to find a timely solution for them," UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said.

"Today, we not only have an absence of a global governance system, but we have sort of an unclear sense of power in the world," Mr. Guterres told reporters in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, where the global report was launched Friday.

The massive increase was mainly driven by Syria's civil war. By the end of last year, 2.5 million Syrians had become refugees in neighbouring countries and more than 6.5 million had been displaced within Syria, the agency said.

The daunting numbers - which are straining the resources of host countries and aid organizations alike - also are a stark reflection of the ongoing conflicts and persecution in other countries, including the Central African Republic and South Sudan.

Aid agencies have struggled to keep pace with worsening conflicts in Syria, the Central African Republic and South Sudan, and on Friday the World Food Programme, another UN agency, said it was forced to cut rations to refugees in several countries.

"We are being squeezed, other UN agencies are increasingly squeezed, NGOs are squeezed," spokesman Peter Smerdon told The Associated Press.

The over-50-million number includes refugees and asylum-seekers who fled abroad as well as people displaced within their own countries. The data was compiled from government, non-government partner organizations and UNHCR's own records.

Saturday, June 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page T3


The speed, in kilometres an hour, of what could become the world's fastest elevator inside the Rosewood's new luxury hotel in Guangzhou, China, scheduled to open in 2017.


Percentage of Canadians who didn't get out of town for a long weekend last summer, according to a survey. Now that's sad.


The cheapest seat (in U.S. dollars) on the all-business class airline La Compagnie, with inflight amenities by Caudalie and meals created by Michelin-starred chef Christophe Langrée. Flights between New York and Paris begin July 11.

Sources: Travel Weekly,; La Compagnie



"It was either sleep in the street or sleep in the 'love hotel.' And we have been propositioned every night."

Marc Cummings

English World Cup fan who couldn't find anywhere else to stay but a hotel in the red-light district of Manaus, Brazil

Source: Reuters

Union roots run deep for new face of labour
Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress
Saturday, June 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B3

The restaurant in the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel is not on anyone's list of hipster dining locations in downtown Toronto, but I've chosen it for lunch after searching the Internet for a place where the staff are unionized.

Hassan Yussuff didn't insist on meeting in a unionized restaurant, but his staff says he prefers it when possible, and it seemed like the right place to meet the newly elected president of the Canadian Labour Congress, an umbrella group for Canada's largest unions with more than 3.3 million members.

Urbane and slim - he opts for roasted Atlantic salmon, asking for no rice and extra pan-seared vegetables - Mr. Yussuff volunteers that he has been told by others in the labour movement that he doesn't fit the stereotype of an unhealthy, overweight union leader.

But as he discusses the campaign platform that won him a surprising victory over long-time president Ken Georgetti at the CLC's national conference in May, there is no doubt he harkens to an era of far more militant union leadership.

Mr. Yussuff's populist election campaign, which saw him secure the presidency of the CLC with a thin 40-vote margin from 4,700 delegates, was built on his belief that the labour movement has lost ground because it has been too passive.

"Things aren't going to change simply by remaining silent and going to the bargaining table and taking less," he says. "I think we have to start pushing back. We have to send a clear message that enough is enough, and we're not going to accept this any more."

Mr. Yussuff, 57, had been second-in-command at the CLC as secretary-treasurer since 2002, and had long considered running for the leadership when Mr. Georgetti stepped down.

He initially believed Mr. Georgetti was not going to run again in 2014, and says he was surprised when he announced he would stand for re-election after all.

Mr. Yussuff debated whether to launch a public battle to oppose his boss of 15 years, or look for a new job outside the congress.

"I felt it was time for him to go. I felt the organization could use some new energy and a new direction, given the attacks we were faced with," he says.

His decision was sealed when he secured the backing of Unifor, Canada's largest private-sector union with 300,000 members. It was created in 2013 from the merger of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union.

Mr. Yussuff worked for the CAW before joining the CLC, so Unifor remained his affiliated union and gave him a base to start a campaign. (Unifor represents employees at The Globe and Mail.)

Unifor president Jerry Dias says he supported Mr. Yussuff's argument that unions need to fight harder to stop losing ground in an era of political attacks and companies' demands for concessions.

"The labour union in Canada has to recognize that we were losing so much of our strength, we were losing respect, and we were losing a lot of our influence," Mr. Dias says.

Mr. Dias says Mr. Yussuff is "aggressive and articulate, and he's prepared to do what is necessary to stand tall." The message resonates at Unifor, where Mr. Dias is now promising to defy back-to-work legislation imposed by governments to end strikes.

"We're not going to get pushed around any more," Mr. Dias said in an interview. "So the governments are going to have some very strong decisions to make to figure out how they're going to deal with a labour movement that is absolutely prepared to defy legislation that takes away our collective bargaining rights."

Mr. Yussuff's beginnings were far from the militancy of Canada's labour movement. Born in the South American country of Guyana, he was one of 10 children of second-generation immigrants from India. His father ran his own trucking company, and while no unionist, was also not a hard-nosed businessman.

"He had a big heart - there was nothing he wouldn't give to somebody who asked."

When he was 16, his parents sent him to Toronto at the urging of his older brother, who had moved to Canada years earlier and said there were good opportunities to build a comfortable life. Young Hassan came alone and lived with his brother while upgrading his high-school qualifications.

Initially, he says, he hated Canada, missed his family and friends, and was upset by the overt racism he encountered.

"Toronto was not a nice place in the seventies if you looked like me. It didn't matter where you came from, if you were riding a subway, anyone who looked South Asian was called a 'Paki' and people would say it without hesitation."

But he made friends, and spent evenings working at a movie theatre and drinking with fellow employees after their shifts ended.

"I was struggling with: 'Is this a place I'm going to be temporarily and then go back to Guyana?' And then it came to me one day: 'Hassan, you need to get over this. You're not going back anywhere. This is home.' "

He became a certified welder while still a teenager, and quickly got a job. He just as quickly realized he did not enjoy welding. "It was a lot of smoke, and I thought this can't be good for your health."

After asking his boss for a raise to his $4-an-hour pay, and being disappointed with the offer of just 35 cents more, he says he walked out at lunchtime the same day, changed his clothes, and spent the same afternoon applying for a job as a mechanic at Canadian Car & Foundry's trailer-manufacturing facility.

He was hired on the spot at CanCar as apprentice trailer mechanic with a starting salary of $7.35 an hour.

It was at CanCar that he caught the union bug. After attending just three meetings of the CAW local at the plant and listening to officials talk about health and safety issues, he agreed to stand for election as chairman of the bargaining unit.

He says the older work force, many of them immigrants and Second World War veterans, supported him because he was young and willing to stand up to management. They were nervous about risking their own jobs by being too outspoken. At 18, he was their union leader.

Mr. Yussuff says he quickly realized he needed to get more serious with his life, and that leadership wasn't about "swearing at managers" on behalf of his members.

One of his early tasks was to persuade provincial education ministry officials to offer a practical hands-on test at the plant to certify mechanics, because he was upset that so many older employees were earning less money because of their inability to write the certification test in English.

"They all passed their tests, and they all got $3-plus increases in their pay, which to me was quite remarkable because they deserved it," he recalls. "It ensured they were not treated differently from their other co-workers who were doing the exact same work. That gave me a sense that the purpose of a union was to use it as a vehicle to help people."

His next job was at the now-shuttered General Motors Trucks Centre in Toronto, where he worked as a mechanic and again got involved in union activities. In 1986, he defeated the incumbent plant chair in an election and became head of the plant's bargaining unit while still under 30.

From there, he attracted the attention of CAW leader Bob White, who asked Mr. Yussuff to join the union's staff in 1988 as a young organizer. In 1999, with Mr. White's support, he decided to run for election as a vice-president at the CLC, saying he wanted to try shaping pro-labour public policies.

"Everybody thought I was nuts - I was in the prime of my work in the union and I had some credentials," he says. "One thing I've learned in life is you've got to take a bit of risk, and the CLC would give me a lot of opportunity to learn things I didn't know."

Mr. Yussuff says public policy reform remains a key interest of his and a priority for the CLC. One of his plans this year is a renewed campaign seeking the expansion of the Canada Pension Plan to provide more income to workers in retirement.

He acknowledges there is a wide swath of the general public that does not support the union movement, resentful of higher wages and superior benefits. He says the union movement needs to do more to sell its merits.

The fact that unionized workers earn more on average means unions are serving society by reducing inequality and helping Canada sustain a vibrant middle class, he says, which is critical in an era when many jobs are turning into insecure contract positions in low-paying service sectors.

"Rather than blaming other workers who have a pension, the fundamental question should be: 'How do we ensure all workers have a decent pension when they retire?' " he says. "We're committed to making this happen."

Mr. Yussuff also argues unions need to more actively challenge governments that are unfairly "blaming" public sector workers for past financial problems, and are "making them pay" by slashing civil service jobs and reducing public services.

"[Their] message is that we have to sacrifice more in order to somehow improve the economy. I think it's fundamentally a falsehood."

He remains committed to labour's traditional support for the New Democratic Party, saying it is still the party most concerned about protecting workers' rights.

But when it comes to telling union members how to vote, he argues pronouncements don't work with a diverse membership. The best approach, he counsels, is to talk directly to members about why certain candidates do - or do not - warrant support.

"Simply making a statement from high above is not going to do very much to assist our members in sorting out who best represents their interests," he says.

Mr. Yussuff says he will be on "more picket lines than anybody in the history of the congress." He joined striking workers on several picket lines in British Columbia and Ontario during his first few weeks on the job.

He shows no signs of fatigue at lunch as he details a whirlwind week that included meetings, speeches and picket-line appearances in Vancouver, the Northwest Territories, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick.

"I'm different - I don't mind going to people's events. I think it's fun and kind of exciting," he says. "I'm known for hard work and long hours. That part doesn't bother me."



Age: 57


Married to Jenny Ahn (who works for Unifor), with one child, Sarah, 5.


Just spent a low-stress week in Paris with his family. Avoiding art galleries and museums, he says they mostly sat on a blanket in the park.


Jazz, running


Born to Muslim parents, but is not religious. He believes his purpose is "to make this country and world a more equal place."


He describes himself as an unshakable optimist. "I fundamentally believe the next day is the day you'll change the world."

On the tensions of a job that requires him to both oppose and lobby Ottawa's Conservative government: "I don't think we have the luxury to not talk to people we have difficulty with. I think you have to talk to them more."

On his views about unions telling workers how to vote: "I think it would be rude and disrespectful of me to make a bold statement to tell people what to do. I don't think it takes into consideration our members actually have the capacity to think for themselves and come to the right conclusion about the decision on their behalf."

Goldman's Alibaba regret
A $3.3-million investment and the billions that could have been
Saturday, July 5, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

BEIJING -- Fifteen years ago, when Shirley Lin started talking to Jack Ma about investing in Alibaba, he wanted to sell 10 per cent of his company for $5-million (U.S.).

Alibaba wasn't much then, just a small collection of people who got their start in an apartment building a website to connect businesses with consumers.

Ms. Lin was with Goldman Sachs Group Inc., where she helped lead the firm's "principal investment area" in Asia, a private-equity arm that sought out promising companies around the world. The fund held billions. It was hardly a fair fight.

What Ms. Lin ended up with was a deal any investment banker could love: $5-million for 50 per cent of Alibaba, with Goldman given control of the board and anti-dilution rights that meant it would never have to spend another dime to hold its stake.

It was a gold-plated agreement, in a company Ms. Lin believed in.

She was, like many who would follow her, convinced that Mr. Ma, the Alibaba founder who is now a billionaire and icon of China's new generation of entrepreneurs, was worth backing.

But almost immediately, she ran into trouble.

Goldman wasn't eager to pour $5-million into a small and potentially risky company, and asked that other investors join the deal.

Eventually, the Goldman investment was pared down to $3.32million.

Even then, Goldman Sachs was the first major outside investor to put money in Alibaba, a company whose meteoric ascension to the pinnacle of Chinese e-commerce has primed it for what may be the biggest IPO in world history.

A series of estimates have suggested the online juggernaut is now worth hundreds of billions; recently Morningstar predicted a $26-billion IPO, which would imply a total equity value of $220billion.

But Goldman sold out in 2004, happy with $22-million, a tidy return of nearly seven-fold.

"It was far too quick, you cannot believe it," Ms. Lin says today, in her first public comments on the matter.

She is no longer with Goldman Sachs, and now teaches in the Master of Social Science in Global Political Economy program at City University of Hong Kong. Goldman owns none of Alibaba any more, although it is one of six lead underwriters in the company's IPO, a reason it offered in declining comment.

But "every time I see someone at Goldman, they still tell me, 'Shirley, I didn't do it. I had nothing to do with the sale,' "Ms. Lin said.

When Ms. Lin started crisscrossing China in the 1990s, searching out new investments, she found herself confronting an unexpected question.

"Those days, when I went to a meeting and said I was with Goldman Sachs, they asked me if I was Mrs. Goldman or Mrs.Sachs. They had never heard of the firm," said Ms. Lin.

China was then, particularly for an outside Goliath such as Goldman, fertile ground but difficult terrain. "There was no competition for about five years," Ms. Lin said. "We were one of the few big games in town." But finding investments meant bouncing across unpaved roads to factories and sorting through a fire hose worth of ideas.

"We would get literally 500 business plans a week," Ms. Lin said. But "everything in China was very murky." Figuring out what was worthwhile meant picking 10 out of the 500 to see, travelling to find them and then, on rare occasions, investing.

Ms. Lin helped shepherd Goldman money into a series of Internet companies that would gain household recognition, including Sohu, NetEase and Sina. "I even thought of merging Sohu, NetEase and Sina, since we owned them all," she said. "This was 2000. It was really amazing."

When she ran into opportunities over her own approval limit, she teamed with others, such as Foxconn's Terry Gou, who invested with her in Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. - now one of the biggest semiconductor makers in the world.

"It was really wonderful, heady days," she said.

When Ms. Lin first began speaking with Alibaba, it was a small company in a sea of contenders. "Really, it was all about Jack and his people," Ms. Lin said.

At the time, Goldman sorted its Chinese prospects into two camps: those heavily reliant on expats, and those with a more local bent. Alibaba was firmly the latter. "And I really thought that to invest in China, you have to know the local market," Ms. Lin said. Mr. Ma, an English teacher turned Internet pioneer, "was as local as it gets." Plus, he was a born entrepreneur.

She was sold.

The deal was signed Oct. 27, 1999. Fidelity Growth Partners Asia invested alongside Goldman.

Mr. Ma "recently jokingly said doing the deal with me [in terms of selling 50 per cent] was the 'worst' deal he's done because he sold too much," Ms. Lin said.

"But he sure was happy to get our investment. I don't think any of us thought how big it would ever become." And at the time, it didn't hurt Alibaba to have the Goldman Sachs name behind it.

Others soon saw the company's promise. In early 2000, Masayoshi Son, founder of Japanese phone and Internet giant SoftBank, led a group to invest $20-million. SoftBank later added to that sum, and now owns 34.4 per cent of Alibaba, a share that, depending on the IPO price, is likely worth $60-billion to $75-billion.

But it wasn't immediately obvious that Alibaba was a winner. Often forgotten in the company's meteoric growth tale is that early in its life, in the midst of the global dot-com bust, it stumbled badly. It looked like it might join the legions of other companies tripping into a corporate grave.

Within three years, Goldman had marked down its Alibaba investment by 50 per cent. "They thought it was hopeless," Ms. Lin said.

Huge numbers of other startups failed outright. At one point, China had some 2,000 small companies looking at models similar to Alibaba, said Peter Liu, the founder and chairman of WI Capital Group who is one of the pioneers of venture capital in China. "Those days it was just the wild wild west," he said.

"In the early to late nineties, a lot of foreign direct investment going in got wiped out."

For Goldman, too, small Internet investments never fit comfortably into its multibillion-dollar private equity fund. "They were not interested in most of the things we were doing in China. They wanted quicker results," Ms. Lin said.

She helped keep the Alibaba investment intact while she was at the firm. But in May, 2003, she left. Early the next year, Goldman sold. At the time, it looked like an undeniable win - a massive increase in just over three years.

It didn't take long to see that the exit was early. The very next year, Yahoo's Jerry Yang invested $1-billion for 40 per cent of Alibaba; Yahoo still holds 22.6 per cent.

But by then Goldman was out, missing out on a return that, today, would have been massive.

"In the 10,000 times is very much an understatement," Ms. Lin said.

Associated Graphic

Alibaba's headquarters in Hangzhou, China, in February, 2012. Estimates suggest the company is worth hundreds of billions.


With one more win, Eugenie Bouchard can make history - and be on the path to a payday far larger than the $3.2-million winner's cheque
Friday, July 4, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

Eugenie Bouchard's victory in the Wimbledon semi-finals has sharply boosted her value to corporate sponsors, but that's nothing on what she'll be worth if she gets her hands on the silver salver that goes to the ladies' champion.

The 20-year-old Montreal-born tennis star beat Romania's Simona Halep on Thursday to earn her spot as the first Canadian in a Wimbledon singles championship final on Saturday.

Ms. Bouchard already has a number of corporate sponsors, thanks in part to her bubbly personality, good looks and the fact that she is fluently bilingual. But "without a doubt" her success at Wimbledon means she will now attract more, said Brian Cooper, president of Toronto-based S&E Sponsorship Group.

"To get into the final, especially Wimbledon - the storied event that it is - [means] she is breaking through in an area that has been dominated by the Williams sisters and [Maria] Sharapova and a few others for years," he said. "From a sponsorship perspective, this is a tremendous boost to her career and it will turn into significant dollars."

Among Ms. Bouchard's existing sponsors are sportswear maker Nike Inc., French tennis equipment maker Babolat, Rogers Communications Inc., and Ontario-based packaged chicken processor Pinty's Delicious Foods Inc. Just last month she signed a three-year sponsorship deal with Coca-Cola Canada.

As a winner, even more companies - selling packaged goods, cosmetics, consumer electronics, watches and cars - will want to be associated with Ms. Bouchard, Mr. Cooper said.

"She is reaching directly to the purchasing decision maker and the female of the house."

Still, he said, what she really needs to gain the interest of top global sponsors is a victory in the Wimbledon final. That's "the final stamp of approval that says she has the potential to be there for a long time."

He noted that Mike Weir, who won a number of PGA events, signed long-term contracts worth significant amounts of money only after he won the Masters championship in 2003.

But even a Wimbledon win may not be enough to vault Ms. Bouchard into the top ranks of sponsored athletes, said Keith McIntyre, chief executive officer of sports marketing consultant KMAC Group in Burlington, Ont.

Winning a major tennis tournament would generate new endorsements, Mr. McIntyre said, but "the real earnings potential truly [depends on] whether it is sustainable." She must win more big prizes, over a number of years, for sponsors to consider multiyear contracts over the $1-million mark, he said. In those cases, an athlete's image is often incorporated into a long-term plan for a company's brand.

He thinks that could happen with Ms. Bouchard. "What I'm starting to see is that this is not just a flash in the pan .... Each year she is going up the rankings."

At this point, however, the companies that sponsor Ms. Bouchard are just happy to be on board.

Tony Spiteri, senior vice-president of Pinty's, said his firm is thrilled at her success. "It's a coup for the the business," he said, "but if you talk to most of the folks in my company, they are just proud of [her] right now."

Mr. Spiteri met Ms. Bouchard at the U.S. Open last year, and was impressed by the fact that she was young, aggressive, at the top of the her game, and doing a good job representing Canada. But what really made him realize she would be a good spokesperson, he said, was watching her interact with children. "Watching her sign a tennis ball for a six-year old ... that's what kind of sealed the deal for us."

Mr. Spiteri acknowledged that Ms. Bouchard's success might make her too expensive for Pinty's when its current multiyear deal expires. Still, he said, "I don't think that she'll forget who was there early on."

Nike Canada communications director Claire Rankine said her firm is "not at all surprised by [Ms. Bouchard's] success and her vast amount of talent." Sponsored athletes such as Ms. Bouchard help Nike "by providing insights to help advance the game," Ms.Rankine said. "She's a captivating athlete - it's amazing to see her passion and confidence when she plays."

Even if she has long-term success, Ms. Bouchard has a lot of catching up to do to reach the endorsement earnings of some of her predecessors. Top women's tennis earner Maria Sharapova of Russia brought in about $24-million (U.S.) in the past year, including about $22-million in sponsorships, according to Forbes magazine.

Ms. Bouchard will get a big payday Saturday no matter what happens with her sponsorships. The runner-up in the Wimbledon final wins £880,000, about $1.6-million (Canadian), and the champion gets £1.76-million. Either outcome would dramatically boost her career tennis earnings, which currently sit at about $1.7-million.

The man behind the deal
Amaya's David Baazov has placed a $4.9-billion bet on PokerStars - but a lot has to go his way for the gamble to pay off
Tuesday, July 8, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

MONTREAL -- David Baazov has bought himself a pricey seat in a very high-stakes poker game.

After years of steadily building his technology and software company as a supplier to the gambling industry, the 33-year-old Canadian recently made a huge splash with the blockbuster $4.9billion (U.S.) acquisition of the company that owns the popular PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker online sites.

Observers say the deal has the potential to transform online gambling, but also contend that Mr. Baazov's company, publicly listed Amaya Gaming Group Inc., has taken on a hefty debt load to get its hands on some valuable brands and is betting big on the likelihood that major U.S. states are soon going to legalize Internet gambling.

There are also some key legal, regulatory and social issues to deal with, not least the lingering opposition from many quarters to the idea of legalizing online gambling and the refusal of major banks, financial institutions and credit card companies to have anything to do with the business.

Mr. Baazov, who was born in Israel and grew up in Montreal, says his game plan is to not only increase PokerStars' and Full Tilt's pool of 86 million registered players, but to roll out a convergence strategy involving other online games, mobile apps, partnerships with land-based casinos and tapping the vast social-media sphere.

"We expect to acquire additional customers and bring them into the mix that may be specific to poker but really expand that customer base," the chairman and chief executive officer of Amaya said in a recent interview.

"The focus is to grow the sector," he said.

"The exciting part of this company [Rational Group Ltd., the owner and operator of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker] is that it comes with 86 million customers," Mr. Baazov said. "Not 86 million gamblers specifically; 86 million customers."

So far, only a few small states have legalized online gambling.

California and several other states are studying the matter. Opponents, including existing industry players, are fighting any such move. Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, for example, is spending millions to get Washington to once again impose a federal ban on online gambling.

Isle of Man-based PokerStars has been stymied in its attempts to re-enter the market after a U.S.

Justice Department crackdown on online poker in 2011.

Isai Scheinberg, described by federal prosecutors as the founder and owner of PokerStars, and 10 other online gambling executives were indicted three years ago on charges of conspiring to break the Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act, which bans banks and other institutions from accepting payments for illegal online gambling.

Mr. Scheinberg denies any wrongdoing and is contesting the legal actions against him. Under terms of the deal with Amaya, he and his son, Mark, are to sell their stock and resign from the company and all of its subsidiaries, but management will stay on.

With the slate wiped clean, Mr. Baazov believes the way is cleared for Amaya to spearhead the expansion of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker in the U.S. and in other regulated jurisdictions around the world.

Mr. Baazov says the U.S. is only part of a larger expansion strategy taking in key markets in hot gambling regions such as Europe and Asia.

Asked if California, a populous state where gambling is big, is key, Mr. Baazov replies: "Yes and no.

From a broader perspective I think that poker is going to grow regardless of the U.S. The game of poker is going to grow not just domestically but internationally."

And he believes the financial institutions will eventually come around.

"It's just a question of time, and I see that as more states continue to regulate, you're going to see more and more banks get involved."

Amaya is taking on $2.9-billion in debt to finance the transaction, with Blackstone Group's credit arm providing about $650-million.

Frank Legato, editor of Global Gaming Business, said the deal is great for the Scheinbergs, but more of a gamble for Amaya.

"Amaya is a relatively small company that is borrowing the majority of the money to buy PokerStars," he said in an e-mail.

In the meantime, he questions how quickly some big U.S. states will legalize online gambling.

"Will Amaya's other worldwide revenues, including PokerStars, be enough to finance the new debt the company is incurring?" With 86 million users, he adds, "I'd say it's a pretty good gamble."

Amaya (AYA) Close: $22.09, up 4¢

Portuguese bank slips, markets stumble
Banco Espirito Santo's 17-per-cent drop highlights fragility of investor confidence and global stock market rally
Friday, July 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

Troubles at a Portuguese bank sent shivers through global markets, underscoring the fragility of the stock rally and reawakening fears over the stability of Europe's banks and the prospects for economic recovery.

While those concerns subsided and North American stocks later pulled back from deeper losses, the ripple effects from Portugal put a sudden end to investor complacency and triggered a rush to traditional islands of safety such as U.S. Treasuries, German government bonds and gold.

At the end of the day, the hit to North American stocks merely sent major indexes back to where they were several days ago. But the selloff highlighted concerns not only about Europe but also about high stock valuations on this side of the Atlantic.

"While we don't think that this will morph into yet another new, nastier phase of the crisis, it is a reminder that there are still lots of potential aftershocks and hangovers from the massive buildup of public sector debt from the lengthy EU recession," said chief economist Douglas Porter of BMO Nesbitt Burns. "And markets have suddenly gone from euphoria to Europhobia."

The source of the initial flight was Banco Espirito Santo SA (BES), Portugal's largest publicly traded bank by assets, and its wobbly parent, Espirito Santo International SA, a conglomerate with major real estate and other holdings. After plummeting more than 50 per cent since the start of April, the bank's stock lost 17 per cent Thursday, prompting the country's regulator to halt trading in what has become a penny stock.

Immediately there were fears in the market that the bank's problems would hit other lenders, triggering a new banking crisis in Europe.

"With Portugal looking to be in trouble once again, prudent analysis has been thrown out of the window in preference to a kneejerk reaction," said IG market analyst Chris Beauchamp. "Portuguese bond yields aren't soaring [yet], and the contagion hasn't spread to Spain or Italy [yet], but the combination of the news from Lisbon and more data that confirms the weakness of the euro zone has provided the excuse to finally kick-start the summer volatility trade into life."

Portugal's benchmark stock market index fell 3.7 per cent amid a wider European retreat.

Italian stocks fell 1.9 per cent, Spanish stocks fell 2 per cent and even German stocks fell 1.5 per cent.

In the bond market, spreads widened sharply between German bonds and comparable government bonds issued by Spain, Italy and Portugal. But even in Portugal's case, the 10year bond rose only one-fifth of a percentage point to just under 4 per cent, a remarkably low level for a country supposedly on the brink of financial calamity.

"The Portuguese banking system has been able to endure the crisis without significant disruption, aided by substantial public capital support and extraordinary measures from the ECB," the International Monetary Fund said in a statement. But it added that "pockets of vulnerability remain, warranting corrective measures in some cases and intrusive supervision in others."

The IMF would not name names. But BES does have a slew of headaches ranging from its ultimate parent's financing woes to a large, problem-laden portfolio of Angolan loans.

Espirito Santo International (ESI) owns one-third of Espirito Santo Financial Group, which in turn is the main shareholder of BES.

Dating back to last December, ESI came under scrutiny for its accounting practices during the worst of the financial crisis. It appeared everything the company did was legal, but concerns were raised that the company sold preferred shares to retail investors and understated the risks of those investments.

The Portuguese central bank ordered an audit and determined that the parent company was in "serious financial condition." Those worries were exacerbated this week when ESI delayed payments on some short-term debt.

This could spell big trouble for the Portuguese economy, because ESI is a huge holding company whose problems could weigh on business confidence and further damage its bank, which lost 517-million ($749million) last year, largely because of credit provisions.

But there's no evidence that the bank itself is in dire financial condition. It has survived stress tests and did not require a government bailout during the euro crisis. And with only 52billion in loans outstanding, it could fail without causing huge ripples in European financial circles - or global markets.

Associated Graphic

Despite sending jitters through markets Thursday, there's no evidence Portugal's BES is in dire financial straits.


Power surge: A world of gadgets sends electricity usage soaring
Thursday, July 3, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

OTTAWA -- Rising power demand from "smart" TVs, game consoles and other network-connected devices are driving up global electricity consumption, leading to calls for greater regulation of the booming electronics industry.

Such devices consumed more than 600 terawatt hours of electricity worldwide in 2013, equivalent to the output of 200 medium-size coal-fired power plants and three times more than they would need if their manufacturers used best-available energy-saving technology, the International Energy Agency said in a report released Wednesday.

Electricity use from such electronics is climbing at a rate of 6 per cent per year, twice the increase in overall global power consumption, the Paris-based agency said.

"The proliferation of connected devices brings many benefits to the world, but right now the cost is far higher than it should be," IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven said on a conference call.

"Consumers are losing money in the form of wasted energy, which is leading to more costly power stations and more distribution infrastructure being built than we would otherwise need - not to mention all the extra greenhouse gases that are being emitted. But it need not be this way. If we adopt best-available technologies we can minimize the cost of meeting demand as the use and benefits of connected devices grows."

The devices, from smart TVs to set-top boxes to modems, consume power whether they are on or not, as they use power to remain connected to networks and to maintain standby mode that allow instant access when they are turned on.

Officials at Natural Resources Canada are working with their counterparts in Europe and the United States to decide whether to impose mandatory standards or adopt a voluntary approach that would encourage manufacturers to adopt the most energy-efficient technology for network-connected devices.

The department currently offers a consumers' guide to equipment that relies on standby power, noting such electricity use can account for up to 10 per cent of a household power bill.

Under the government's voluntary Energy Star program, electronics should not use more than one watt in standby mode.

The department also encourages consumers to use power bars, and turn off the devices when they are not in use.

"Government has a responsibility to promote efficient energy use," said Chris McCluskey, a spokesman for Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford.

He noted that, in 2011, the IEA ranked Canada second for its rate of energy efficiency improvement.

The Conservative government has introduced new standards for televisions, video equipment and audio devices that enhance conservation of power while in off mode.

As a result of these new standards, officials estimate that televisions now draw one watt instead of four watts when not turned on.

"We'll continue our important work with industry to introduce new standards and help Canadians save on their power bills," Mr. McCluskey said.

Without better standards to reduce usage from networkconnected devices, utilities around the world will have to add more generating capacity, the IEA said.

By 2020, it expects such devices to consume nearly 1,200 terawatt hours, more than the current electricity consumption of Canada and Germany combined.

That figure could be cut by two-thirds if best-available technology was adopted.

"We're seeing more and more interest from utilities and regulators," said Tania Donovska, a project manager with the CSA Group, a non-profit, standardsdevelopment association.

"Everybody wants to have everything at the palm of their hands, and different devices can have different energy requirements for the same function."

Ms. Donovska said governments appear to be leaning to voluntary standards, though regulations are being formulated to standardize testing of equipment.

The performance of networkconnected devices will be increasingly important with the development of the "Internet of Things," in which non-human "users' will communicate to one another through the web and remain connected even when not in active use.

An X-Box, for example, uses nearly as much power when it is on standby mode as it does when it is in use.

"It's very timely for the IEA to put out this report now," said Francis Bradley, vice-president of the Canadian Electricity Association.

"As we move into the era of the Internet of Things, we are going to have more and more devices that rely on standby power. And the more we have a codes and standards to deal with them, the better off we're going to be."

Associated Graphic



In a digital world, record sales soar as vinyl moves into the mainstream
Thursday, July 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

Digital downloads and streaming remain the king of music sales, but the resurgence of vinyl records is shifting into high gear.

Vinyl sales in Canada have increased 53 per cent since this time last year, and sales in the U.S. are up 33 per cent in the same period. Since 2006, the vinyl music sector in the U.S. has grown 677 per cent.

"Everyone is trying to figure out just how big this thing is going to be," says David Bakula, senior vice- president of Industry Insights for Nielsen Entertainment.

"It's not that it is driving the business the way streaming is, but the growth is substantial."

The digitization of the industry has certainly turned music into a convenient commodity, easily accessible with the tap of a finger or click of a mouse.

On-demand streaming of digital music, from services such as Songza or Beats, is up 42 per cent year-over-year in the U.S., according to new data from Billboard and Nielsen Entertainment.

Digital downloads, after years of strong growth, dipped slightly last year - they're down 11.6 per cent - as music lovers flocked to the new streaming options.

For an audience who only knows music as an impulse buy or succession of single purchases, vinyl is introducing them to the experience of a complete album while creating a new revenue stream for artists. Musicians make just fractions of a penny off of the stream of a song. But, depending on the record deal, they may make in the ballpark of a couple of dollars per sale of a vinyl record. Independent artists pressing music into vinyl take home even more.

"There is a preconceived idea that the vinyl is an old-folks market, but it isn't any more," says Martin Koppel, owner of Toronto's oldest record store, Kops Records. "It is quite common now to have young people hold vinyl music parties where they sit around, discuss and listen to the music."

The resurgence of vinyl isn't just about blowing off the dust of a secondhand Pretty in Pink soundtrack found in a milk crate at the back of a record store either.

Major retailers such as HMV Canada or Sunrise Records continue to expand their shelving space dedicated to the format at the expense of the dwindling CD.

"Artists have largely learned more about who their fan base is and how they want to consume music," Mr. Bakula says.

Turntables are turning up at mass retailers such as Best Buy, Target or even Urban Outfitters, with inexpensive replacement parts compared to previous generations. And though the format is most popular with rock and alternative artists, brand new albums are being released on the format by many mainstream artists including Lady Gaga, Coldplay and Michael Jackson, often with a digital download included.

"The record companies also never had a replacement for the CD," Mr. Koppel says. "CDs were finishing and they had nothing to sell to the young market because of downloading. Now when teenagers buy a record, whether it be Arcade Fire or the Beatles, this is the first time that the record is physically new for them."

For artists and labels, it is a lifeline for profit-making while building a more intimate relationship with fans. For listeners, the return of vinyl is about making music tangible again.

"It is an investment," says Chris Forrest, a 29-year-old music producer and owner of Synicalist Records in London, Ont. Mr. Forrest has a personal collection of more than 300 records and presses vinyl for his artists. "There is something about having that record in your hand and the process of pulling it out, putting it on the player and dropping that needle. It makes you more interested in the music."

The vinyl boom can be traced back to 2006 or 2007, when the format started moving beyond trendy underground groups and into popular music. DJs began opting for digital turntables and eventually back to the old records.

"There is a joy of going through a record store's used bins and finding something you want," Mr. Forrest says. "That is something many people are truly missing these days."

Associated Graphic

Andrew Koppel in the Kops Records store in Toronto.



Strained Canada-U.S. relations are simply a sign of the times
Monday, July 7, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1


The headlines are ominous. Canada-U.S. relations have hit a "low ebb" and a "new low." They are "frayed" and "strained."


A longer-term view suggests recent tensions aren't all that unusual. Strains over the Keystone XL pipeline, Buy American legislation, the Windsor-Detroit Bridge and a U.S. tax crackdown are typical of the ebb and flow of a sweeping relationship, stretching back decades. There are rough patches, when the list of irritants grows longer, and there are better times.

Through it all, there are a couple of constants. The urgency of these bilateral issues is inevitably more magnified in Canada. Like it or not, the Canadian economy is more dependent on the United States than vice versa.

A second reality - often overlooked in Canada - is the crucial importance of the U.S. electoral clock. Second-term presidents, such as Barack Obama, are always weaker than first-term ones.

Their influence wanes as their days in office wind down. Legislative gridlock and inward-looking domestic politics are typically more pronounced in the months before presidential elections (every four years) and midterms (every two years).

Mr. Obama is going into a pivotal midterm in which the Democrats are struggling to hang on to the Senate.

The Obama administration's non-decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, the resurgence of Buy American purchasing rules and the U.S. reluctance to pay for a toll plaza on the planned Detroit-Windsor bridge are all entangled in election-year angst about climate change, federal finances and lost jobs.

Bruce Heyman, the new U.S. ambassador to Canada, undiplomatically likened the spate of continuing bilateral problems to a "scratch" on the bumper of a new car. In other words, trivial.

His comments underscore constant No. 1: Scratches can cost Canada dearly in lost trade and economic opportunities, even when there is minimal collateral damage to that big U.S. Chevy.

But to suggest relations are at a new low in 2014 is a bit of stretch.

The year 2002 stands out as a distinctly rougher patch, with arguably much higher stakes than today. The prime minister at the time, Jean Chrétien, refused to send Canadian troops to Iraq, calling the U.S. invasion illegitimate. His then director of communications, Françoise Ducros, inflamed already-tense relations when she was overheard at a NATO summit in Prague calling U.S. President George W. Bush a "moron."

That same year, the United States slapped punitive duties on shipments of Canadian softwood lumber. The two sides would call a truce in 2006, but the Canadian industry lost out on some of the best years of the U.S. housing boom.

Like Keystone XL, softwood lumber was similarly held up as a symbol of relations gone sour during the serial trade wars of the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.

Too many Canadians cling to the notion of a "special relationship" with the United States.

Close, yes, special, less so. Special implies privilege, including privileged access to the U.S. market. That is no longer the case with the proliferation of regional and bilateral trade deals, which have undercut much of the advantage Canada enjoyed with bilateral free trade.

The absence of special treatment for Canada is particularly evident in the U.S. crackdown on tax evasion, highlighted by imposition of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.

Eager to stop Americans from stashing their cash offshore to avoid taxes, the U.S. decided it would strong-arm foreign financial institutions, and governments around the world, to track foreign accounts held by Americans.

This clampdown aimed at a relatively small group of wealthy U.S.-resident Americans has had an outsized impact on Canada, where there are more people with U.S. ties than in any other country. It isn't aimed at Canada. It is a product of misguided U.S.-centric policy making, rather than a deliberate attempt to hurt a neighbour.

The same is true of recent Buy American restrictions on government spending. The intent of these measures is to protect U.S. manufacturing jobs and production from moving offshore to countries such as China. Unfortunately, many Canadian companies straddle the border, with integrated supply chains that become collateral damage.

If anything, Canada is a victim of benign neglect.

But that's not new.

Oliver gains new support on national regulator
Wednesday, July 9, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

OTTAWA -- Two more provinces have agreed to join a voluntary national securities regulator expected to begin operations in the fall of 2015, bringing the total number on board to four and giving the upcoming capital markets watchdog a more pan-Canadian scope.

Sources say Saskatchewan and New Brunswick will sign on to the Cooperative Capital Markets Regulator Wednesday in a ceremony in Ottawa with federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver, embracing a plan backed by Ontario and British Columbia last September.

They join as adjustments are made to governance and operations of the new watchdog to spread out power and decision making more broadly among the provinces and assuage concerns it would be too Toronto-centric.

As they prepare for 2015, participants will try to enlist other provinces, notably Quebec and Alberta, that so far have resisted relinquishing control over capital markets within their jurisdictions.

The addition of both Saskatchewan and New Brunswick is big step forward for the regulator, despite the provinces' relatively small capital markets presence. The success of the single watchdog rests on momentum - the idea is that once some provinces join, others will feel pressure to follow suit.

The ultimate goal is to create a common nationwide regulator and end the patchwork of 13 provincial and territorial securities watchdogs.

As it now stands, the four provinces that have joined forces represent nearly 53 per cent of market capitalization of Canadian companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and TSX Venture Exchange. The annual economic output of the financial sector in these jurisdictions represents represents two-thirds of the Canadian total.

One of the persistent provincial concerns about the new regulator is that it would be dominated by Central Canadian concerns.

The executive head office is to be located in Toronto along with the chief regulator and a national management team.

Saskatchewan had earlier this year voiced that it was keen to join, so long as local concerns were addressed. While there are only a few publicly traded companies in the province, Saskatchewan Justice Minister Gordon Wyant told The Globe and Mail in May that those concerns include preserving the ability of the province's small and medium-sized business to raise capital from sources such as crowdfunding. Mr. Wyant also wanted to ensure that companies and residents in Saskatchewan enjoy the same easy access to regulators they had when having capital markets regulated from Regina.

The province must "protect our companies' ability to raise capital and preserve that responsiveness," he said at the time.

Participating provinces have now amended the 2013 agreement in principle to add two additional regional deputy chief regulators who would represent capital market jurisdictions in Eastern and Western Canada.

These additions are an effort to share the regulatory levers of power more evenly among the provinces - along with the related spinoff economic benefits of such offices.

The two additional regional regulators would be initially located in New Brunswick and Saskatchewan and would be in addition to four deputy chief regulators already planned for B.C., and Ontario as well as Quebec and Alberta should the latter two provinces sign on to the deal.

The agreement also leaves the door open to locating related offices to various provinces.

Quebec has said the common regulator would be of no real benefit for that province. "A national securities regulator, whether co-operative or not, with decision makers headquartered in Toronto, could not be as attentive to businesses based in Quebec," Louis Morisset, president of Quebec's regulator, l'Autorité des marchés financiers, wrote in February.

"The current system gives regulators flexibility and autonomy for reflecting upon major public policy issues. It is important to maintain this autonomy."

Advocates of a Canadawide regulator have predicted that Alberta will eventually join the effort.

Ian Russell, head of the Investment Industry Association of Canada, said in June he believes while Alberta is still skeptical it will feel pressure to join once the watchdog gains "critical mass."

Once it begins operating, the new regulator will have reduced the number of securities watchdogs in Canada to 10 from 13.

With files from Boyd Erman and the Canadian Press

Lundin emerges as front-runner for Chilean copper mine
Saturday, July 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

Canada's Lundin Mining Corp. is emerging as the front-runner to buy a major Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. copper mine in Chile, sources familiar with the matter say.

Toronto-based Lundin would pay more than $2-billion for the Candelaria mine, according to people familiar with the current proposal. It would partner with Franco-Nevada Corp., which would pay up to $1-billion for a stream of the mine's future gold production, the sources said.

The base-metals miner has been hunting for a copper acquisition for more than two years. Its chief executive officer, Paul Conibear, told The Globe and Mail in April, 2013, that assets with at least a 10year mine life and capable of producing about 50,000 tonnes of copper a year would be ideal.

At the time, Mr. Conibear said the company had a strong balance sheet, no debt and had been on the lookout for the right deals for the last year and a half.

If Lundin's proposal succeeds, the Chilean mine would boost its copper production significantly.

The interest in copper assets comes after a tumultuous few months for the red metal, used in construction and power generation. It dropped below $3 (U.S.) a pound on fears that China's slowing economy would weaken demand, although it has since rebounded to around $3.25.

Lundin produces copper, zinc, nickel and lead from mines in Europe, Africa and the United States. The company has partnerships with Phoenix-based Freeport on the Tenke Fungurume copper mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as a refinery in Finland.

During the commodity boom a few years ago, Lundin tried to merge with fellow Canadian miner Inmet Mining Corp. before Inmet was taken over last year by First Quantum Minerals Ltd. It also fended off a hostile takeover attempt by Equinox Minerals Ltd. in 2011, which was later taken over by Barrick Gold Corp.

Lundin has since bought a small copper and nickel mine in Michigan.

Freeport, one of the largest copper companies in the world, has been moving into the U.S. oil and gas market and has been selling assets to pay down its hefty debt load.

The miner recently sold its Eagle Ford shale assets to Canada's Encana Corp. for $3.1-billion.

Freeport had been aiming to announce the sale of Candelaria by mid-year, one source said.

But the company's process has been delayed because it is waiting to hear from the mine's minority owner, Japan's Sumitomo Corp., which holds a 20-percent stake in the Chilean mine.

Barrick Gold's former CEO, Aaron Regent, had also expressed an interest in Candelaria, a source said.

Mr. Regent is looking to build a mining company and has been on the hunt for assets through his investment firm Magris Resources Inc. It is not known whether Mr. Regent or another company will top Lundin's proposal.

Last year, Mr. Regent teamed with two senior mining companies and private equity firm Blackstone to buy Glencore PLC's Las Bambas copper project. But his bid fell through when one of the miners backed out, one source said. The project was eventually sold to a Chinese consortium for nearly $6-billion.

A spokesman for Freeport said the company doesn't comment on speculation. Lundin, FrancoNevada and Magris declined comment.

Lundin Mining (LUN)

Close: $6.27, up 5¢

Fans now mere extras in FIFA's reality show
We can argue about where Brazil 2014 stands in the World Cup pantheon, but what did become clear over five weeks is that this was the last great, global soccer tournament
Saturday, July 12, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S2


We watched Brazil play Mexico sitting in rickety plastic chairs in the midst of a main favela thoroughfare. The bar was too crowded. Luckily, it had no front wall.

Every once in a while, a truck would pass through and we'd pick up our chairs and move to the side to stand in a puddle.

A couple of gringos attracted a small crowd. There were five of them in a little gang. Maybe 7 or 8 years old. All in bootleg Brazil jerseys and flip-flops.

They stood right behind us, waiting patiently for breaks in play. Their hands were clasped behind their backs like old men. They wanted very badly to have a conversation. These were the free-range children of the Third World. Unlike North American kids, they haven't been trained to fear strangers. They don't have much, but they maintain the most potent gift of childhood - curiosity.

At the half, they all began speaking at once in Portuguese. We responded as best we could in English. So, not very well. Their eyes widened. They had the look of people who think they're being put on. They kept going in Portuguese. We shrugged. An impasse.

One of them wandered off to smash a vicious-looking piece of lumber against the bumper of derelict car. The rest of us sat there silently for a while, stumped.

Eventually, one of them pointed up to the TV. There was an Adidas ad on.

"Dani Alves," he said.

"Dani Alves," I repeated. "Barcelona."

He turned delightedly to his comrades. He'd found a way to communicate with this illiterate savage! "Messi," he said.

"Messi," I agreed. "Barcelona."

"BARCELONA!" they all screamed.

This went on for five glorious minutes. They said the name of a player and his professional club.

We concurred with elaborate gestures and courtesies. ("Ronaldo!""El Gordo? ('Fatso'?)" "No, no.

CRISTIANO Ronaldo. Real Madrid.")

We were not talking, but we were communicating.

This is the true power of soccer.

It's not the glamour or the big show or any of the notions that get pushed out front to sell you things.

Soccer is the world's lingua franca. It's our last real piece of common ground.

While that will never disappear, the opportunity to gather together and say the names is vanishing.

We can argue about where Brazil 2014 stands in the World Cup pantheon. What did become clear over five weeks here is that this was the last great, global soccer tournament.

As it started, FIFA boss Sepp Blatter told a gathering of delegates "more than 400 billion fans will watch the games through televisions around the world."

He hasn't bothered to explain that improbable figure, which assumes that just about every one of us on the planet watched all 64 games. But you get his point.

When they last held the World Cup here, in 1950, about 200,000 people attended the final at the Maracana. No one is precisely sure of the number because tens of thousands sneaked in. This was a presouvenir culture. Tickets for that match were collected at the gate, and then discarded. A few weeks ago, FIFA traded a pair of seats to Sunday's final for an unused 1950 ducat. It will be displayed as a museum piece.

That was the last untelevised World Cup. Eight years later, the organizers of the World Cup in Sweden would complain that their total gate revenue (roughly $1-million) hadn't met expectations. They blamed TV for leeching away their audience.

They squared that accounting circle pretty quickly.

The total value of the broadcasting and marketing rights for this World Cup amount to roughly $4-billion. Every nickel of that goes into FIFA's pocket.

Increasingly - and that's really saying something - FIFA's focus is on wringing every red cent from their once-every-four-years cash cow. They erect tax-free bubbles around the stadiums. Having spent a fortune to prepare, host nations get nothing out of this other than prestige (and that's debatable).

We are long past pretending that holding a World Cup is a smart bottom-line proposition.

That myth died in South Africa.

This has created a vicious economic circle. FIFA will not substantially share revenues with the hosts. As a result, the hosts are encouraged to do this on the cheap. Everyone talks a good game about the fan experience and infrastructure improvements, but it doesn't materialize.

The hosts shrug. Having put them in an impossible situation, FIFA stops pretending to care about preparations as soon as the journalists begin arriving.

If you're on the ground, you're on your own.

It still works. Sort of. If you're willing to put up with a good deal of hassle and spend a great deal of money, you can get around. But it's not easy.

On the night Chile qualified for the second round, I caught a midnight bus out of town. The dingy terminus was heaving at that hour, rammed with Chileans waiting to catch the third-class cattle car home. Santiago is a 48hour drive away over the Andes.

That's dedication.

Tens of thousands of Argentines flooded the country. Many came without tickets or the money to buy them. They were happy to be in the vicinity of the games. A combination of those neighbouring zealots and a general Brazilian enthusiasm made this tournament vibrant. For four weeks, you felt you were near the main source. That's not always the case. And, I suspect, may never be the case again.

In four years' time, Russia will be Brazil with twice the hassles and a fraction of the charm. The distances are vast. In an effort to spread around the graft, Russia initially proposed 13 host cities.

The only way to get between them is in the air. Russians root for one thing - Russia. Their team is crap and shows no hint of getting much better. The atmo at the 2018 World Cup will be D.O.A.

In 2022, it will be even worse. This assumes that Qatar will still be host (a big assumption). You can't just roll into Qatar to soak up the vibe. The average daily high is 40 C. If you're on the street, you're going to die.

There's also the issue of moral peril. Who wants to vacation in a graveyard for itinerant workers?

By 2026 - after two consecutive gong shows - nobody sensible is going to want this hassle any more. Of course, that means Canada's already declared its interest.

That'll never happen. We're too straight. We won't grease the right people. There won't be any sketchy legal wiggle room for the usual shakedowns.

No, this will end up going to some desperate, half-crooked government that will be happily robbed blind in exchange for a month's worth of agit-prop. That pattern has been very good to FIFA. The organization will do even less for the fans, because that's the trend. This thing is charting a line into human oblivion.

In choosing Russia and Qatar, FIFA declared this is no longer about people. Those two countries will function as sound stages. All that matters any more is how this looks on television.

That's why the only spend that matters to organizers is the arenas.

The super-rich will still come.

They've taken over this thing.

They pay for the hospitality suites and drive the in-stadium revenues. If you want to really feel your place in the socioeconomic pecking order, come to a World Cup. Don't forget to bring your own jet.

If real fans don't show up to pad out the attendance, they'll do what they did in South Africa - paper the joint with freebies for locals.

Travelling fans and local enthusiasts were once essential partners in this venture. They paid for it. Their presence gave it meaning. No longer. Once they stopped figuring in the bottom line, they became a necessary annoyance.

They've been reduced to extras in the world's most lucrative reality show.

With that future in mind, you spent the five weeks here trying to commit to memory what this is supposed to look like. At street level, when you gather this much positive human energy, the pavement vibrates. At its best, the World Cup is not about the love of soccer. It's about the many ways in which soccer allows us to really see each other, if only briefly. It's a vital link.

Ahead of Brazil's semi-final disaster, Rio resembled the Fall of Saigon, but in reverse. Everyone was trying to get in to town. Up the street from us, someone had pulled a TV out onto the street, onto a traffic island. It was getting set to pour, so they'd propped an umbrella over it. I have no idea how they were getting a signal.

I wandered over to catch a bit of the pregame. A guy walked up beside me. He looked at me and said something. I did the international no hablo sign (point at ear; shake head).

We stood there happily in silence. Julio Cesar's picture popped up.

"Julio Cesar," he said.

"Toronto FC," I said.

One last chance for all of us to come together and share the sacred names.

Follow me on Twitter:@cathalkelly



This is a heart-over-head sort of pick. Argentina can't run with Germany. It can't trade blows. The Argentines must slowly bleed the will from the Germans. That makes this an 'I don't expect much of a game' sort of pick. But there's too much history here to go the other way. Winning at home in '78 was the crown in their national heritage, but winning in the Maracana - the St. Peter's of Brazilian football - would represent the great crowing opportunity of all time.

Key player: Lionel Messi will have to be great, but he only needs to do so for an instant.

Heat-seeking midfield missile Javier Mascherano will have to be at his very best for all of 90 - or, more likely, 120 - minutes.

Score: Argentina 1 (4), Germany 1 (3)


Goal: Manuel Neuer, Germany

Defence:Ezequiel Garay, Argentina; Ron Vlaar, Netherlands; Mats Hummels, Germany; Philipp Lahm, Germany

Midfield: Javier Mascherano, Argentina; James Rodriguez, Colombia; Toni Kroos, Germany

Forward: Arjen Robben, Netherlands; Lionel Messi, Argentina; Neymar, Brazil

Subs: Keylor Navas, Costa Rica; Thiago Silva, Brazil; Arturo Vidal, Chile; Clint Dempsey, United States .

Cathal Kelly


I'm seeing a very tight game, near impossible to predict with emphatic assurance. It will start slowly, very cagey from both sides and will only break open by a goal - the first from Germany. Then Argentina will loosen up, Messi moving to a more forward position. I see a 1-1 game going to extra time and Germany taking advantage of a slow, tired Argentina to win it 2-1. If so, it will break Argentina's heart - the dream, the overwhelming urge to win it in Rio, has been so strong. But Germany has the momentum and there is a freshness about them, even going into the seventh game in this tournament.

Key player: Lionel Messi, but he is the unknowable factor. Pure alchemy. He could turn this into Argentina's victory in a heartbeat if the opportunity arises and if Angel di Maria is back and fit, ready to supply him from the wing.

Even in a loss, Messi will be a standout. But Germany's air of authority and adaptability is awe-inspiring at this point.

Score: Germany 2, Argentina 1.


Goal: Tim Howard, United States

Defence: Ezequiel Garay, Argentina; Gary Medel, Chile; Eder Balanta, Colombia; Philipp Lahm, Germany

Midfield: Javier Mascherano, Argentina; James Rodriguez, Colombia; Paul Pogba, France

Forward: Arjen Robben, Netherlands; Lionel Messi, Argentina; Alexis Sanchez, Chile

Subs: Keylor Navas, Costa Rica; Giorgio Chiellini, Italy; Raphael Varane, France; Clint Dempsey, United States

John Doyle

Associated Graphic

Argentine fans in Buenos Aires celebrate as they watch their team defeat the Netherlands in Wednesday's semi-final match.


A Brazilian woman and a Colombian man dance during the World Cup Fan Fest on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro on July 4. But most of the World Cup in Brazil was a reality show for the super rich.


As the competition nears the end of the group stage, Globe writers Cathal Kelly and John Doyle assess the organization of the tournament, its Brazilian backdrop and, more specifically, who is the best player and which country is going to win when the final whistle blows on July 13
Saturday, June 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

Cathal Kelly: When the walls started coming down at the Maracana press centre, I had my come-to-Jesus moment. I thought, 'Well, the building's collapsing. That seems a little too perfect. However, I've lived well. Adieu.' ... It was a long moment. But it was only a rampaging horde of invading Chileans. They seemed harmless enough as security began corralling them like escaped hogs.

We're more than a week into this thing, and it's time to ask ourselves: 'Remind me. How much was my per diem?' It's also time to ask ourselves: 'How's this all going?' The perspective from this corner - perfectly on the pitch, and more than a little dodgy everywhere else. Brazil wasn't ready, and it shows.

But the on-field product is rescuing their international reputation. It's almost as if football and Brazil were meant to go together?!

John Doyle: I tend to agree. For instance, the stadium in Sao Paulo wasn't ready and, as I understand it, in the EU, no country would have allowed it to be used and accommodate the crowd for the opening match. The flimsy wall that so easily collapsed at the media centre encapsulates it all - flimsiness observed here, there and everywhere if you're covering the tournament. What is saving the situation is the quality of soccer played so far. Wonderful, thrilling matches with lots of goals. And locally, I suspect people only want to talk about the Brazil team. Also I think the reality is that the most important facility here in the IBC, the International Broadcast Centre. This is a global TV event, and unless something massively awful happens, that is how the world sees it. Speculating what it all reveals about Brazil, the country, is another matter.

CK: I suspect it won't mean much of anything to the average Brazilian. Most of them threw their hands up months ago. They were only too aware of how much of a gong show this might shape up as, logistically. There's a little bit of local schadenfreude now that it's gone a little sideways. Not a whole lot. Just enough to embarrass the elites.

In the streets, they're focused on the look of the national side, and not in a fond way.

As ever, the truth comes from the mouths of cab drivers. We were with one the other day who wanted to discuss the relative merits of everyone here. In his judgment: Netherlands 'bom,' Germany 'bom,' Brazil '(unprintable).'

It is remarkable how invested average Brazilians appear to be in that sinking feeling.

They have that very Canadian way of talking down their own chances, while desperately hoping they're wrong. An inverse invocation of luck.

I don't think things are anywhere near as bad as they seem to fear. Brazil hasn't been a powerhouse here, but barring one out-of-contract goalkeeper, they should be on two wins from two.

Do you see an early exit for Brazil in the cards?

JD: I'm seeing Brazil scratch through to the quarterfinals and go out on penalties. An England way of doing a tournament.

Everybody has seen most teams play twice, and the quality can be assessed. Brazil, the team, needs some tinkering, though it may be too late. I'm starting to think of Brazil as the Portugal of South America - a ceaseless supply of really good players, but lack of steel when it comes to a tournament. The World Cup is seven games. That requires a unity of purpose and leadership from a manager. It isn't there with Brazil.

And if we agree that Brazil is not up to winning it all, who then? Germany is a candidate. But as we both know you can really only assess a team based on the quality of the opposition. Wiping the floor with Portugal perhaps inflated Germany in some estimations. The Netherlands looks awesome, but played a shagged-out Spain and didn't look supreme against a very plucky Australia. Chile's hour has come, I think. They can beat anybody - they've found a groove. They have an intensity about them.

CK: My brain is already full of Marvel comics plotlines and every phone number I've ever had. There's very little room left in there for anything like impulse control or fine motor skills.

But the way this tournament has spun out so far has stunned me. Though it's a verboten subject in the professional ranks - where managers and players are forced to prattle on about "attractive" football like they're endorsing universal suffrage - football is in a profoundly cynical moment. I blame Jose Mourinho for this (and everything else). He glamourized ugliness. Winning is an all-encompassing rationale, and the more hopeful teams (ahem, Arsenal) are being punished for their aspiration. Win any which way you can, and no one will care how unwatchable it might be.

That's been the pattern in every European Championship and World Cup for more than a decade. The artists flame out. The manual labourers grind through. There was nothing sadder than watching brilliantly skilled teams like Netherlands and Spain reduced to this jobbing style over the past few years.

And then we came to Brazil, and world football shed its defensive skin. Every team that has thrived here goes straight at you. The ones who've tried to sit back and defend - I'm thinking of the U.S. in the 80 minutes after their early goal against Ghana - is eventually punished.

You mention Chile. Chile cannot defend. They couldn't defend a mountaintop against an army of moles. So they've turned their entire emphasis onto constant high pressure. Instead of marking you in their own half, they do it in yours. Then they score.

Though they are stylistically very different, that's the same basic philosophy as the Dutch. This is giving me back my faith that the guys who play this game at the highest level actually care about putting on a show.

JD: I think your assessment of the last 10 years is unfair. Spain flourished with artistry. I'm sorry to see the end of the tiki-taka style, if that is indeed what is happening. I think this Spain team is tired. I think the skilled, thoughtful, short-passing game will flourish again. And, frankly, I don't care if Chile allows a lot of goals. If they win 3-2 or 4-3, I'm fine with that.

Possibly we're both a bit bewildered and exhausted at this point. The first week has been hard to comprehend. There is so little pause between games, so little time for consideration. But you and I differ in taste. I liked the USA/Ghana match. Enjoyed the rhythm of it. Enjoyed the ending, like a wonky drama stitched together in hope. I like Italy too. I enjoy Pirlo's casual, blithe demolition of the opposition.

And, you know, a new World Cup starts with the Round of 16. There will be tears.

CK: I have no sympathy for Spain. They had a great team that was unspeakably miserly with its greatness. Four years ago, they won a World Cup by scoring eight goals. Eight goals in seven games.

They didn't bother opening up until the final, which was a good tactic that made for some consistently bad viewing. Spain was a monumentally myopic team and I was glad to see them flame out here. In 20 years, when someone says the words "Spanish dynasty," you'll think of Barcelona rather than the national team.

That's my bar for greatness - wanting not just to win, but also to overwhelm - so all my hopes here lie with the Dutch. Brazil is too thin. Argentina is too timid. Germany rampaged in their first game, but that was against a Portuguese side that looked like they'd given up in the tunnel mouth.

On some karmic level, the Netherlands is owed this one. They have always been the most aspirational side in the world. What other team could make a World Cup final, and be scolded by their greatest hero (Johan Cruyff) for the manner in which they'd made it? That is an unreachable standard worth applauding. They're Le Sacre du Printemps of football.

They've been nervy here, but entirely committed. Australia did them the great favour of giving them a scare. I believe they'll overwhelm Chile in the final group game - and wouldn't that be a wonderful preview of a potential final? Then I think they'll scythe through the rest of the tournament.

JD: We will have to agree to disagree on Spain. Watching them play, in person, was always an enjoyable education in how soccer can be played: You looked at the complex formation, the short passing and, suddenly it was like watching a beautiful flower blossom in seconds.

Something that irks me is how FIFA stops being an issue as soon as the ball starts rolling on the field. We all start talking players, teams, results. I've done a few interviews with Canadian radio from here and it always comes up - how corrupt and arrogant is FIFA, really? I don't even know where to start with the answer. Certainly FIFA hates us, the written press.

But enough about us, let's talk players. I know you've asserted that Luis Suarez is the best player in the world right now. I think he's more fascinating as a precocious man-child than as a player. He's a poacher, an enormously gifted one, but not a truly skilled, refined player. I think he'll flame out soon. Mind you, Uruguay is a compelling soccer story. Tiny country, fourth at he last World Cup and winners of the 2011 Copa America.

Which brings me to Lionel Messi. I have a feeling that Messi is at some crisis point in his life and career. He's phoning it in. There is no motivation there. Barcelona has ruined him as a player in that asking him to perform for Argentina is like asking him to pretend for a month that he's part of some other family. And he just can't do it.

CK: If we presume that, at the most elite level, players share a roughly equal skill set, then what separates the very best of them is opportunism. On that basis, Suarez is the greatest form player in the world. He had two real chances against England and took them both.

The first goal - a slashing header - was, for me, the goal of the tournament. Robin van Persie's stretch-header against Spain was braver and more spectacular, but Suarez's was more cunning. Messi may be a more up-out-of-your-seat player with the ball at his feet. No one is more studious than Andrea Pirlo. But Suarez is both a blunt and a cutting instrument, and his aim never errs.

Now that we've got all this sorted out, final thoughts?

JD: There is also something that you, me and the watching public should remember. We actually know very little about what is going on inside most national teams. The dynamic can be very hard to read because most managers and players talk in cliché. In a book I read, the manager of Cameroon at the 1994 World Cup talked about feuds and schisms inside the team, all of which amounted to a disaster. He said, "We lost those games at the hotel." He meant it. And only recently we have come to learn that in the French national team, Zidane and Thierry Henry never got along. According to Henry, Zidane mostly declined to pass the ball to him. If I remember correctly, Henry says he only ever scored one goal for France that was the result of a Zidane move.

So, as the public often concludes, you and I actually know nothing about soccer at the World Cup. But we keep trying.

As for you and your antics here, I'm saving it for the next book.

CK: (Worried expression)

Canadian tennis has gone through a massive overhaul in less than a decade, changing its culture, its approach and, most important, its results on the court. Players such as Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard expect to win every time
Saturday, July 5, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

Grant Connell has lost track of how many times he's played centre court at Wimbledon. The best guess he can muster is somewhere north of a dozen.

Tennis once consumed him. But since retiring in 1997, one of Canada's most successful players has largely moved on from the sport. The 48-year-old real estate agent in Vancouver estimates he's maybe watched three matches on television since then.

But when Eugenie Bouchard steps onto centre court at the All England Club Saturday for the women's final, it will draw him back. And what he sees on TV will be something even Connell says he doesn't recognize - a brand of tennis that is almost foreign to this country. It is about Canada not just playing and hoping, perhaps praying, to do well, but a new kind of drive that comes with an expectation to win every time out.

"It is a whole different ball game," Connell said of the tennis he sees Canadians - such as Bouchard, Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil - putting on display this year. "It's not like 'wow.' It's not a novelty. They expect to be there. It's night and day from when I played 20 years ago. It's kind of nice."

Canadian tennis has gone through a massive overhaul in less than a decade, changing its culture, its approach and, most important, its results on the court.

A country that was once a backwater for the sport now boasts a national program that has become the talk of Wimbledon with a pipeline of young stars. At 20, Bouchard has a shot Saturday at becoming the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam title, while Raonic, at 23, came close before falling to Roger Federer in the semi-finals. Pospisil, 24, will compete in the men's doubles final, and countryman Daniel Nestor, the elder statesman at 41, will likely find himself playing for the mixed doubles title.

Canada is everywhere in London, but to understand how the country turned itself into a contender, you have to go back to the early days of the transformation. The talent factory Tennis Canada has created began as a rough blueprint in 2005, and an idea that its board members hoped would work - though they didn't know for sure.

At that time, Tennis Canada's chief role as a non-profit organization was to host the two Rogers Cup tournaments in Toronto and Montreal, and channel the proceeds into developing the sport.

The money was paltry, though, producing about $3-million a year for Tennis Canada, compared with well over $50-million that Grand Slams such as Wimbledon and the U.S. Open can generate, said Roger Martin, a former Tennis Canada chairman who remains on the board.

An injection of new board members, which included Martin, then-dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto; Tony Eames, the former head of CocaCola Canada; tennis mind Michael Downey; and Nova Scotia lawyer Jack Graham decided the non-profit needed to get more aggressive. In addition to squeezing more revenue out of the Rogers Cup, boosting the proceeds to the $12-million to $14-million range today through better marketing, the federation needed to spend its limited money smarter.

Rather than spreading the funds thin, supporting too many players across the tennis ranks, the board decided to revamp the program and begin targeting players that showed the most promise, and the fiercest dedication. And it needed to consolidate those players in one spot, so they could practise and play together, which spawned the National Tennis Centre in Montreal.

"We said, we're only playing to win," Martin recalls from the early board discussions. "It's not justifiable to spread money around to players who aren't training the way they need to train to be great. Historically, if you were sort of okay, you got money from Tennis Canada - a little bit for everyone. And we said no, we've got to focus the money on the people who are training the way we need to train."

Then Downey suggested Tennis Canada attempt something it had never done before. It would take some of that money and hire international coaches to teach Canadian players. It is what some people see as the pivotal moment for the program.

"Downey hired foreign coaches for the first time ever, and he was under the gun. He got a lot of criticism," Connell said. "But he had the guts to do it. That's what is behind the success. He hired outside."

Two men led the shift. The first was French coach Louis Borfiga, who was hired as vice-president of high performance athlete development in 2006. In addition to being a hitting partner for Bjorn Borg in his prime, Borfiga helped build the French Tennis Federation into a venerable force, overseeing the emergence of young French players Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gaël Monfils and Gilles Simon in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The second key move was hiring Australian Bob Brett, who coached Boris Becker and Goran Ivanisevic, among others. While Borfiga was tasked with building the country's tennis talent at the top, Brett's job was to oversee the development of players under age 14. It was something few countries had tried, said Martin, taking a top pro coach and putting him with kids.

"We had to give our young players world-class coaching that was required, because if you didn't have that, it was getting to the point where it just didn't matter any more how good you were athletically, you could not be a winner," Martin said. "You have to have world-class coaching and an environment for that."

After years in France, Borfiga recalls arriving to a much different situation in Canada in August, 2006.

"When I arrived, what surprised me a bit was that there was no structure. What I tried to bring above all was a very solid structure," he said on the phone from Wimbledon. "We gathered all the players together in the same place. We had them compete with each other, and work with coaches."

Changing the Canadian psyche in tennis was more difficult, Borfiga said. "I found the Canadian players ... they played to have a good match, rather than to win," he said. "What I tried to do was change the mentality ... telling them that they are really stronger than the others, that they could win. We did this work even with the younger players, with all the boys and girls at the centre."

Raonic went through the program at 16, while Bouchard was a student at 14. With Raonic, the coaches wanted to build out his strength, and get him playing more on clay to develop tactics in his game. But when the student started to outstrip the program in terms of talent and drive, Tennis Canada took another important step. It knew Raonic was too good to be training full-time in Canada, and helped him arrange coaching in Spain, where he could practise with better players, and continue getting funding from Tennis Canada.

Bouchard made the same step with training in Florida.

But the success of Tennis Canada's makeover has come with certain casualties. Downey was poached to run the British Lawn Tennis Association, and took Brett with him, as the British hope for similar results in their program.

Despite the praise being heaped on Tennis Canada by other countries, Martin says the results seen at Wimbledon this year are undoubtedly the work of the players. Bouchard, Raonic, and Pospisil are special talents who deserve the credit. The organization has simply helped move them along.

"To say that it's [the strategy] and not the players, would be, of course, stupid," Martin said. "We have awesome players with heart and awesome willingness to train."

Tennis Canada bristles at the suggestion that this generation of talent is just a lucky streak for Canada.

"This is not a fluke. There are more coming through the pipeline," Martin said. Keeping that talent flowing for years to come will be the ultimate challenge.

With a report from Susan Krashinsky

Associated Graphic

Canada's Eugenie Bouchard will be playing in the biggest match of her career when she faces Petra Kvitova on Saturday in the women's final at Wimbledon. Bouchard is an example of how Canada is becoming a powerhouse in tennis.


Brazilian ticket-scalping investigation could snare high-profile FIFA executives
Twelve people have been arrested so far for the resale of hospitality tickets as the investigation continues
Wednesday, July 9, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Brazilian police have cracked an alleged ticket-scalping ring that experts say could have ties to senior people in scandalplagued FIFA, soccer's governing body, and be worth as much as $96-million for this World Cup alone.

And they have done it almost in spite of themselves.

The resale of World Cup hospitality tickets - those bought by corporations or given to national organizations and sponsors - through a chain of criminals has been widely suspected for years. International police forces, including Scotland Yard, have tried to crack it.

But when the scam was finally broken open, it was by low-level investigators at a tiny local Rio police station who had no idea what they had stumbled upon, and had to rely on journalists to explain who some of the key figures were.

"How did a bunch of pé rapado policemen from Brazil do it?" the inspector in charge of the operation asked rhetorically on Monday, using a slang expression that means "shaved foot," or poor. He uttered an expletive and shrugged. "I don't know!"

Twelve people have so far been arrested, including Mohamadou Lamine Fofana, a man identified as a French-Algerian national who police initially believed was the kingpin. But on Monday, police arrested British national Raymond Whelan from the swanky Copacabana Palace, where he was staying alongside top FIFA officials, including president Sepp Blatter. The inspector, who asked not to be named, said that at least seven other people are still under investigation in the scam.

Whelan is a director of Match Hospitality, a ticket-sales service that has the FIFA contract to sell hospitality packages. Match was also given the job of accrediting FIFA's hotels in Brazil, including the Palace suites where Blatter and the other executives stayed.

Whelan is charged with illegal ticket resale, but was ordered released on $2,300 bail by a judge in the middle of the night, in a move that Brazilian media say suggests intervention from high places. Police retained his passport. Match said in a statement that he will return to work with the company's World Cup operation.

Police said he may also face charges, including association with a criminal organization and collusion.

The investigation was built on wiretaps that yielded more than 50,000 call registers - phone conversations, text messages and messages sent through smartphone apps such as WhatsApp - including, police say, 900 over 20 days between Whelan and Fofana alone. They say they have yet to review half of the registers.

In April, officers from the tiny Praca da Bandeira station, near Rio's Maracana Stadium, were conducting a routine undercover investigation of cambistas, as scalpers are known, when they began to be offered World Cup tickets. "What can you get us?" the undercover officers asked.

The scalpers promised anything they wanted - VIP seats at the final, for example. Surprised that those seats were for sale on the sidewalk, the police began to tap the phones of the scalpers, which led them eventually to Fofana. Tracking his calls, they discovered that he was allegedly collecting tickets from Whelan, who was staying in the FIFA enclave at the Palace.

"Raymond denied that he negotiated with Fofana during the World Cup," said police commissioner Fabio Barucke. "Of that, we have proof that there were 900 calls during the event."

One ticket among those recovered by police was in the name of FIFA vice-president Julio Grondona's son, Humberto. Police say his role will be investigated.

FIFA says it cannot comment on the investigation, but will take action against anyone found to be participating in illegal activity.

Those who follow FIFA - which has been accused of corruption at every level, from match-fixing to bribery over choice in host countries - say this time it's different.

"It's more of the same from FIFA, except this time it's during the World Cup and they have all the recordings," said Jamil Chade, a correspondent with Brazil's Estadao newspaper, one of the journalists who inadvertently found himself becoming part of this story.

Chade was reporting on the initial arrests a week ago. The police at the tiny station noticed that, while they did not recognize any of the names in the recordings, he did. They pleaded for help deciphering the English and French in the recordings, since they speak neither language.

Police say Fofana had 64,000 tickets to sell, including some from most of the national soccer organizations, and from companies such as the giant Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd. While the top-price match ticket has a face value of $990, individual tickets for the July 13 final were being sold for as much as $25,000 last week, and prices were rising. Any reselling of tickets above the face value is illegal in Brazil under laws designed to protect fans. There were more than three million tickets issued for all the games in this World Cup.

Andrew Jennings, a Scottish author and investigative journalist who has tracked FIFA for years (and has been banned by the organization from all its events for his pains), said Rio police have made a critical breakthrough.

"FIFA is a tight, small, unaccountable group," he said, and this is a rare incident of casting light on some of its activities. Long after the winner of this year's Cup has been forgotten, "Brazil will be remembered for exposing the fraud," he said. "By accident or not, the cops have made a fantastic breakthrough - they must go on questioning Whelan about Blatter, the contracts, the connections."

As many as 40 per cent of tickets to FIFA events are illegally resold, Jennings reported in his book Omerta: Sepp Blatter's FIFA Organised Crime Family. The Brazilian police inspector said that Scotland Yard had called to express happy surprise at the arrests, saying that they had been investigating illegal FIFA resales for three years. Other international police forces who learned of the organization called to offer help, he said.

Chade said that in wiretaps that he heard, the suspects reassure each other that police in Rio never tap phones. "This is a powerful, globalized organization brought down by a little police office," he said. "They buy off Interpol, but they forgot to buy off the local police."

Match, majority-owned by the Mexican brothers Jaime and Enrique Byrom, won exclusive rights to resell hospitality packages for the 2010 and 2014 World Cups in an open tender in 2007.

In 2011, that contract was extended until 2023 for all major FIFA events, including the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, in a deal worth at least $300-million for FIFA.

Whelan had been in Brazil for two years, police say, and he is married to a sister of the Byrom brothers. A five-per-cent stake of Match is owned by Infront Sports and Media; its president and CEO is Phillippe Blatter, the nephew of the FIFA president.

Fofana came to Brazil two months ago purely to operate the ticket resale ring, police say. His company, Atlanta Sportif Management, organizes friendly matches and consults on player sales, particularly among Middle Eastern teams.

With a report from Manuela Andreoni

Associated Graphic

Ray Whelan, left, arrives at a police station after being arrested in Rio de Janeiro on Monday. Mr. Whelan was released on $2,300 bail, with the police holding his passport. Police say they collected hundreds of calls and messages between him and accused co-conspirator Mohamadou Lamine Fofana.


Of FIFA's many, many children, Brazil is her clear favourite
Tuesday, July 8, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


The mark of a good fix is plausible deniability.

With that in mind, FIFA gave Brazil a light tap across the back of the hands on Monday. Not so much a "Don't do that" slap as a "Don't worry, we'll take care of you later."

First, Brazil applied for a reconsideration of captain Thiago Silva's yellow card for running over Colombia's goalkeeper in their quarter-final game. As a result of that blatant numbskullery, Silva is suspended for Tuesday's semifinal.

No such appeal had ever been considered at a modern World Cup, much less granted. You'd like to say fair play to Brazil for trying, but it wouldn't be true. It isn't fair play. It's a gross attempt at manipulating the rules, and it has worked before.

In the 1962 World Cup, Brazil's brightest star of that tournament, Garrincha, was red-carded in the semis. His automatic suspension was quietly overturned - likely at the backroom behest of the thenhead of Brazilian football and future FIFA boss Joao Havelange. Garrincha played in the final. Brazil won.

That set a pattern that would carry forward in future decades. FIFA has more than 200 children, but Brazil is her favourite.

Brazil was also behind a halfhearted reconsideration of Juan Zuniga's foul on Neymar late in that same quarter-final, the one that broke the Brazilian star's vertebra.

In recent days, the local temperature around that incident has been stoked hotter than the surface of the sun. Replays of the incident were in heavier rotation than the Zapruder film. When Neymar appeared on a Globo talk show via satellite, the host burst into tears.

Manager Luiz Felipe Scolari accused the Colombians of "hunting" Neymar. The country's chief footballing simpleton, Ronaldo, said darkly, "I do believe there was some intention to harm."

What exactly Brazil expected out of an investigation is a mystery. A suspension for a player already out of the tournament? And that would achieve what, exactly?

The injury was serious, but the foul - one player going through another for a ball in the air - was garden variety. It happens a halfdozen times in every game. It was no worse than what Brazil's midfield enforcers had done all evening long to Colombia's James Rodriguez, with less onerous results.

If Zuniga's foul ever becomes a suspendable offence, get ready for the open-field thrills of seven-aside soccer.

On Monday afternoon, FIFA denied both appeals. In both instances, it was made clear that no investigative process had been undertaken. Instead, FIFA declined to consider either. This was all done in the same press release.

From one perspective, it defused a few million tin-foil-hat conspiracists. From another, FIFA gave itself enough cover to paper over the many ways in which Brazil has been helped along here.

The hosts' choppy run has been bookended by two egregious refereeing performances, each of which helped push them through.

The decision of Japan's Yuichi Nishimura to award a key penalty in the opener invited global scorn. It was almost certainly the result of nerves, but it would still be wrong to forgive that sort of folding under pressure.

That was small beer compared to the mind-boggling showing of Carlos Velasco Carballo in the quarters. Back home in La Liga, Velasco Carballo has the reputation of a man who doesn't brook any shenanigans. Here in Brazil, he morphed into the guy in charge of a cockfight. Short of eye gouging, anything went in that game against Colombia. The result was a brutal tempo that heavily favoured Brazil.

There was an ugly karma to the fact that Velasco Carballo's permissiveness led directly to the kung-fu-fighting tackling style that resulted in Neymar's injury.

If Brazil wants to blame anybody, they should be blaming the man in charge.

Diego Maradona isn't right about much any more, but he was correct in calling the Spanish referee's performance "the worst I've seen in 10 years."

Nonetheless, both Nishimura and Velasco Carballo were named on Monday to the shortlist of officials in contention to officiate the four remaining games.

Neither will get a Brazil game - that would be too bold - but the fact they were shortlisted equals tacit approval of their performances.

They did what FIFA expected - bent over backward to help the tournament's chosen side.

Lest that message be lost on anyone, FIFA has bizarrely appointed Mexico's Marco Rodriguez to officiate Tuesday's BrazilGermany semi-final.

Rodriguez was another of the handful of men who fell face-first into this World Cup. He's the one who (totally incorrectly) redcarded Claudio Marchisio in the Italy-Uruguay Round of 16 game, then missed Luis Suarez helping himself to a bit of Giorgio Chiellini. On the scale of screw-ups, it was somewhere between Nishimura and Velasco Carballo.

There are several world-class refs with reputations still fully intact who could've taken the most pivotal game yet - Italy's Nicola Rizzoli and Uzbekistan's Ravshan Irmatov prime among them. Why not pick one of those two?

It isn't regionalism (though that's the excuse that will be used). It's because Marco Rodriguez is already compromised.

While no one will say it out loud - that would be the surest way to ruin a fix - he understands what's expected of him. He can't give Brazil the game. But if it comes down to a 50/50 call or three, he knows what to do.

And if he does it FIFA's way, the manner in which Nishimura and Velasco Carballo have been treated assures him that he will be backed, no matter what.

That's how you throw a tournament - by laying down just enough diversionary smoke that you can pull the heist in plain sight.

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Associated Graphic

Spanish referee Carlos Velasco Carballo shows Brazil's Thiago Silva the yellow card during Friday's quarter-finals. Velasco Carballo's refereeing resulted in a brutal tempo that favoured Brazil.


Netherlands The Dutch are the Canadians of international soccer. Players expect to win up until they don't - then shrug, go home and drink beer
Monday, July 7, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


It's hard to say what makes the Dutch everyone's second-favourite soccer nation.

It isn't their play. Not any more.

They're just as cynical and grinding as anyone else when the need arises. They field the most irritating player on the planet, Arjen Robben. They also have the most unapologetically brutal one in Nigel de Jong.

Plus, nobody looks good in orange.

Beyond quality, what sets the Dutch apart is their guilelessness in the big world. They are blasé truth tellers. They expect to win right up until they don't. Then everyone shrugs and goes back to Amsterdam for a parade and drinks a million beers.

They are the Canadians of international soccer.

It was in that spirit that the Dutch met their small semi-final crisis on Sunday - the story of their duelling goalkeepers.

Jasper Cillessen played 120 minutes of the quarter-final against Costa Rica. In the final seconds, backup Tim Krul was inserted to take the penalty shootout. This was unprecedented stuff at any level, and most especially at a World Cup. As he came off the field, Cillessen had a flailing, cursing, medium-intensity meltdown.

Other teams would ignore the obvious question, lest it embarrass either player. The Dutch forced both 'keepers to come out the next day and do a press conference together. Sadly, they were not forced to hug.

The media showed up at the Dutch HQ - the faded and impossibly romantic training ground of Flamengo - hoping for a scrap.

Not expecting one, mind you.

Historically, Dutch footballers have preferred actual fistfights to verbal ones. But still hoping.

First problem - no headsets. It is the habit at these tournaments to provide instantaneous translation via wireless radio. There was none. All the wilting nonDutch journos milled around bitterly beforehand, drinking free espressos and muttering about wooden-shoe thinking and a wasted trip.

"The one thing you must understand about the Dutch - they are not very nice people," said one woman. Quick look down for a credential check. French. We'll take that observation with a boulder-sized grain of salt.

For years now, the Dutch have been marched through their media paces by a legendary communications director, Kees Jansma. He has the impish aspect of a member of the Hogwart's faculty.

How big is soccer in the Netherlands? Jansma has been knighted and published a memoir.

In profound Dutch/Canadian style, the presser starts four minutes early.

"First, we will take a few questions in Dutch, and then move on to English," Jansma says. Quasiorgasmic sighs of relief sweep the room.

We're expecting a long, querulous wait. Only one Dutch journo is invited to ask questions. Then Jansma switches everything to English. In all, only three questions will be asked in the native language of the speakers. More than a dozen will be asked in English. This is the masochism of helpfulness, which is near to the Canadian heart.

As is their wont, the Brits take over, truffling around for tabloid gold. Both Cillessen and Krul deflect in clipped clichés. No, there is no rivalry. No, we're good friends. No, we are both cyborgs.

(It's possible I transcribed that last bit wrong.)

After a while of this, Jansma loses patience and interrupts.

"Jasper, you just told the Dutch media that you were a little bit angry when you left the pitch.

What happened?"

Cillessen looks over in alarm.

"Yes, I was a little bit angry," he sighs, unsettled. "But I understood."

Everyone scribbles in their notebooks.

Someone asks Krul if there is any jealousy in their relationship.

"No, no jealousy. Jasper's our No. 1 ..." - and then a pause to weight this next bit with meaning - "... for the moment."

Cillessen swings his head the other way. He's getting slapped around like a vaudeville act.

The target moves back onto him. Has this all affected your confidence?


"Why not?"

"Well ..." - and here Cillessen searches around for something profound - "... why would it?"

It's hard to tackle that logic.

It goes on like this for 15 perfect minutes. At one point, a Brazilian asks Krul a convoluted question about the philosophy of penalty kicks and an interview in which he'd said he'd based his strategy on that of former Brazilian international 'keeper Claudio Taffarel.

Krul very purposely adjusts his microphone, leans down, and says, "I've never said anything about Taffarel."

You can hear the poor Brazilian groan all the way up at the front.

Someone else gives it a try: How exactly do you prepare for penalty kicks?

Krul: "We're not going to give away all our secrets."

Then he says that they collect video of every opposition player taking penalties, study it two days prior to the game, and use that to prepare a dossier that will be reviewed pre-match and postextra-time.

In other words, all the secrets.

The very best is saved for last. It is the habit in Dutch World Cup press conferences to give the final question to a representative of Jeugdjournall (Kids News).

In South Africa, just prior to the final, then manager Bert Van Marwijk was asked what advice he would offer to all the Dutch children at home "biting their nails."

"Don't do that," van Marwijk said menacingly.

This time, Krul and Cillessen are asked what advice they'd offer to the young about their own footballing aspirations. Both go on for some time in Dutch. Jansma picks up at the end.

"They both say, 'Have fun and enjoy yourselves.' "

An amused silence fills the room.

"The same goes for the rest of you," Jansma says.

For as long as the Dutch team - both so familiar and foreign to this traveller - continues, that won't be a problem.

Follow me on Twitter:@cathalkelly

Associated Graphic

Dutch goalkeeper Tim Krul saves the last penalty kick during the World Cup quarter-final against Costa Rica on Saturday.


How Brazil's Julio Cesar resurrected his career
With the victory over Chile, the Brazilian goalkeeper has come back from his squad's 2010 loss to the Netherlands. 'He has spent the last four years in hell'
Friday, July 4, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


This is the tale of two interviews, four years apart.

In the first, Julio Cesar is confronted immediately after Brazil has been bounced from the 2010 World Cup by the Netherlands.

Up until an hour ago, he's generally been considered the best goalkeeper in the world. That impression has curled up here and died.

Early in the second half, a ball is launched into the Brazilian penalty area. Cesar comes for it.

So does defender Felipe Melo.

The pair collides in the goalmouth. Cesar's attempted punch is nowhere near the intended target. The ball glances off Melo's head and in.

The eventual collapse is not his fault - not all of it, at least - but he already knows he's eating this one.

Cesar is gasping, wordless. He seems in danger of fainting. He tries to speak, but can't, so retreats into the mindless work of yanking off his gloves. He offers his excuses. He doesn't sound as if he believes them himself.

"I ended up ... well ... there was a little doubt there with Melo. He headed the ball. I missed it. And ... well ... things like that happen in football."

They do, but not in World Cup quarter-final games. And not to Brazil.

He trudges off to find a cliff's edge to go over. In the coming months, his form bleeds away. Inter Milan, the European champions, dump him onto Queens Park Rangers. Soon after arriving, he loses his starting job. He's no longer good enough to play for the worst team in the Premiership.

Awash in frustration, he begins walking home after matches, rather than driving. In order to get a game, Cesar has to accept a loan to Toronto FC.

The time between two World Cups - that's how long it takes to reach the outer rim of the known footballing universe.

"He has spent the last four years in hell," Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari said this week.

This stage rarely offers anyone a chance at redemption. Four years is a long time to maintain your place in a top team. It's a very short time to expect people to forget your sins.

One moment of indecision here attaches itself to you, and defines you. That is especially true for goalkeepers.

Colombia's thwarted midfielder in net, Rene Higuita, was the darling of the 1990 World Cup.

Right up until he got caught in possession practically at the halfway line by Cameroon's Roger Milla, who dinked around him and scored on an empty goal.

Twenty-four years later, I still perfectly recall the expression on Higuita's face as he chased Milla back toward his own net. It's the look of a man who knows his life is about to be ruined.

England's Robert Green palmed a ball into his own net in South Africa. He was the man who took Cesar's job at QPR, but that once-in-a-thousand-tries failure is all anyone will remember about his career.

But the worst of the worst - the lowest circle of hell - is reserved for Brazilian goalkeepers who implode in the colours of their country. This nation has never produced a really legendary netminder. Since they're all so good with their feet, why would anyone want to work with their hands?

The best Brazil's goalies can hope for is reflected glory and a pleasant anonymity. When they are noted, it's only for their failures, and then forever.

Moacir Barbosa was blamed for the goal that gifted Uruguay the most recent World Cup played in this country. For the rest of his life, he was portrayed as a jinx.

His exile took on a disturbingly moral element.

Upon retirement, someone gave him the goalposts from the Maracana as a souvenir. He took them home and burned them.

"Under Brazilian law, the maximum sentence is 30 years," Barbosa said shortly before he died.

"My imprisonment has been 50."

That's the territory 34-year-old Cesar was drifting toward - a lavish and unbearable postsoccer life as the unfunny punch line to a national joke.

Then, serendipitously, a chance at redemption. Two things worked in Cesar's favour in Brazil's Round of 16 win over Chile - he was wonderful; the rest of the team was awful. He was still only a crossbar away from disaster.

The Chilean who nearly won the game, Mauricio Pinilla, went out afterward and had the moment tattooed on his back. A transcription runs underneath it: "One centimeter from glory." For Cesar, one centimetre from perdition.

Before the eventual penalty shootout, he carried out a rosary that Brazil's back-up keeper, Victor, worries during games. He was already weeping.

In the most important 10 minutes of his life, he was magisterial. He didn't erase the memory of 2010. He vindicated it.

He was the first person off the pitch and in front of the microphone. Once again, he was gasping. This time he allowed himself the luxury of tears.

"Only God and my family know what I went through," he said.

For him, validation. For us, the comforting sense that, while still knowing the universe is capricious and cruel, having occasional proof that it may allow us to write our own ending.

Follow me on Twitter:@cathalkelly

Associated Graphic

Brazil's goalkeeper Julio Cesar celebrates after beating Chile in a World Cup Round of 16 game last weekend. Brazil faces Colombia in a quarter-final on Friday. When not with his national team, Cesar plays for Toronto FC of the MLS.


At every one of these events, soccer sets its tone for the coming four years. The World Cup really is just like your high-school graduation, just more sodden. Here are a few of the things this World Cup got right. Also, a few of the things it didn't. Understanding those will help put everything about your unbearably empty post-World Cup life in perspective
Friday, July 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1



The United States: As cool (i.e. emotionally stunted) Canadians, it's always a delight to watch our pal, the U.S., and her sudden, wild bursts of enthusiasm. The U.S. is the friend who heard Stairway to Heaven in line at a Starbucks, and a week later she's downloaded the entire Zeppelin back catalogue and bought a double neck Gibson guitar. The U.S. went bonkers over the World Cup here. Her team was essentially playing a variety of rugby, but it was still a lot of fun to watch. Good job, Team USA. Good jo ... okay, calm down.

Goalkeepers: An elite 'keeper must have two attributes - be tall and look reasonably non-ridiculous wearing Day-Glo. It's a low bar. This time around, through a confluence of athleticism, good fortune and a ball that flew true, they became the stars of the tournament. Yet nonetheless, they got into the gig because they were no good with the ball at their feet. This is heartening proof that God-given talent, or the lack thereof, is not a roadblock to success.

Transportation infrastructure: Good news, fellow taxpayers - this turns out to be a waste of money. Brazil has no viable rail system. The roads are in ruin. Traffic is insane. You'd be safer walking to work over the roofs of stalled cars, because the sidewalks are awash in kamikaze cyclists. And yet, we all managed to get around somehow. Thousands of traumatized World Cup visitors will now return to their native countries, get back in their cars and turn their own commute into a Brazilified version of Mad Max - hopefully without the leather pants.

Body shaming: You'd like to spend more time at Copacabana or Ipanema, but it makes you feel bad about yourself. In the morning, the whole of Rio is out at the beach jogging or doing pull-ups or playing volleyball with their feet. Everyone's exercising. EVERYONE. And you're schlumpfing around like a de-shelled turtle. You'll be better when you get home (i.e. No, you won't). Everything's going to change (i.e. Nothing's going to change).

Losers: Some of the most admirable sides here were the ones who had exactly zero shot at making an impact, and went for it anyway. My personal game of the tournament was Iran sticking its chin in the chest of Argentina, and giving the finalists their toughest test thus far. That effort proved there are all sorts of ways to win.

The niceties: A hand up after you've knocked someone down. The jersey exchange. Opposing goalkeepers walking arm in arm to the net as they're about to start the penalty shootout. Arjen Robben having a sideline chat with, and then embracing, Costa Rican manager Jorge Luis Pinto mid-game. There is no sport that so values small gestures of chivalry and respect as this one, and especially on this stage. It's enough to give you faith.


Nickname creativity: Past generations gave us Jairzinho, Vava, Zizinho and Baltazar. Those are nicknames. This time around, we got Fred, Jo, Bernard and James. Those are things you call your cat. Hulk is also not a nickname. It's an observation. If this trend continues, in eight years' time, the Brazilian team will be full of guys named Stumpy and Hates To Pass.

Arm folding: Once you start thinking about how to do this, it becomes impossible. That occurred to hundreds of millions of us at the beginning of every game. As the starting lineups were announced, each player was shown solemnly facing the audience while crossing his arms over his chest like John Wayne channelling Marty Feldman. Hand tucked into armpit? Over forearm? Under bicep? Two of three? Who knows. If the goal was to have them project toughness, at the next World Cup they should turn to the camera holding a broken beer bottle.

Goal celebrations: Hey, I'm okay if you want to point up and thank God, and he's all, "I'm a little busy in Syria, but hey, thanks for the acknowledgment." It's another thing when the whole roster, including physiotherapists and press attachés, needs to gather on the sideline and reinterpret the entire final scene from West Side Story.

Mick Jagger: He loves soccer. Soccer hates him. The human shar pei who fronts the Stones is a notorious jinx. In local argot, a pe frio (cold foot). Brazil begged him good humoredly not to come over and pull for the Selecao. He did anyway. They suffered the greatest humiliation in sports history. How droll. If he comes here again, he will doubtless be murdered before he gets out of the airport.

Tears: Everyone loves a sensitive sort at work. Mostly from a distance. One teary workplace meltdown? Sure. I'm here for you. Two? It's time to talk to HR about someone better suited to dealing with this sort of issue. This was the tournament in which everyone went all wobbly, and for any sort of reason. Lose? Cry. Win? Cry. Draw? Still crying. You understand it's a heightened emotional environment, but there is still something to be said for stoicism in the face of professional disappointment.

Now, having just revisited my pre- and mid-tournament predictions, I'm off somewhere for a good whimper. Some things you just never get over.

Follow me on Twitter:@cathalkelly

Associated Graphic


Scenes from a nervous nation: Brazil terrified of facing Colombia
Thursday, July 3, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


The scene was a restaurant here in Rio. Not a swank place, just plain food and cheap beer. A group of six, men and women, sat together. Friends, coworkers perhaps.

The midday TV news came on. You couldn't miss it, on the giant screen set up for World Cup matches. The top item was a report from the Granja Comary Football Complex, headquarters of the Brazil national soccer team

and the Brazilian Football Confederation.

Footage showed Neymar limping from the team bus, walking gingerly. A psychologist appeared. It wasn't hard to figure out the gist of the report - the mentality of the team, after the narrow victory on penalties, over Chile. There was silence among the group of six as they watched.

Then I heard a light, persistent tapping sound, and saw a woman's fingers, her nails painted in Brazil's yellow team colours, drumming on the table. Next, she stepped outside and smoked a cigarette, her eyes still glued to the screen inside. This is one nervous nation. The national team is, one gathers, mentally fragile. The country is, for sure, terrified of playing Colombia in Friday's quarter-final.

The worry is evident everywhere.

"Scolari can play with three defenders against Columbia," says O Globo newspaper on its front page. The second story has this headline: "Emotional control of squad divides experts." In the online O Globo later that day, there's a follow-up: "Emotional state selection worries Scolari."

The dynamic is slightly demented, and complex. There are three strands to the story.

First, Brazilians were shocked by the traumatized state of many players after the Chile match.

Tears, quivering lips, and stunned, distant looks on the players' faces. The pressure on them was crystal clear and they felt it.

Even former players for the national team, the "Selecao," have suggested that these players keep calm and get a grip.

Legend Carlos Alberto Torres, of the 1970 team, criticized his country's captain, Thiago Silva, on SporTV here, saying, "In Brazil, we expect our captains to illustrate strong postures."

Zico, another legend, told Radio Globo he was shocked by the demeanour of Brazil's players who, he said, "Looked in no mental condition to carry on."

But for all the bluster of pundits, the nervousness is a deeprooted problem ingrained in Brazil's soccer culture.

What matters is that the World Cup is here, in Brazil, and nobody on the team wants to be the next Moacyr Barbosa, the Brazil goalkeeper who allowed the goal that allowed Uruguay to win the World Cup final in Rio in 1950.

The weight, the fear of that fate, is emphatically real.

Second, and this will seem strange to outsiders, Brazil the country isn't that much interested in the World Cup. It is only interested in the Selecao. As locals will tell you here, when Brazil has been knocked out of a World Cup, the country stops paying attention. TV viewing for matches after Brazil exits is tiny. Nobody cares much about Italy, the Netherlands or Germany cutting a glorious path to a final that doesn't include Brazil.

This is, it seems, an insular country when it comes to soccer.

If Brazil is knocked out in the quarter-final, this World Cup is essentially over. But the country will be left groping and struggling to continue hosting it.

Third, most important, there's the genuine anxiety about facing Colombia. With reason.

A few days ago, when Colombia beat Uruguay at the Maracana, there was the perception, unspoken aloud by Brazilians, that a revolution was under way.

A shift in the power rankings of South American soccer was unfolding. And it happened right here, at the Maracana, sending a shiver through Rio and beyond.

Tens of thousands of triumphant Colombians teemed in the city. Cocky as all get out. Outside the Maracana, I saw a TV crew from Colombia going live-to-air and the reporter was drowned out by supporters chanting that Brazil is the next to fall. Given the spectacular goals by young James Rodriguez, you couldn't blame them for their brashness.

Worse, assessment of Brazil's performance against Chile was harsh. "The team was unable to deal with Chile's strengths," declared pundit Paulo Vinicius Coelho in the Folha de Sao Paulo. In Estadao, the leading soccer columnist wrote, "Those two hours of football were worrying, too emotionally charged. There was plenty of heart but not enough skill, intelligence or strategy."

Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari spent an hour with selected journalists on Tuesday and declared that the frantic pace of the Chile match won't be repeated, saying, "Ball possession is a strategy to overcome Colombia."

But he also admitted that the team's psychologist, one Regina Brandao, has a vital role. Then he complained about Brazil's media being negative.

They're not negative, really.

The pundits are, like the nation, nervous. The fingers tap nervously, whether hitting keyboard keys or a table in a restaurant.

And rightly so. Colombia has a great team and is a rising power.

Brazil has a bunch of nervous Nellies.

Follow me on Twitter:@MisterJohnDoyle

Associated Graphic

Fans hold hands and get on their knees in a bar in Brasilia on Saturday, as they watch the Brazil-Chile match on television. Brazilians were shocked by the traumatized state of many players after the match.


TFW overhaul decried by Alberta
Jason Kenney says employers who can't find people for low-wage jobs should pay more, but restaurants predict higher prices
Saturday, June 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A3

OTTAWA and CALGARY -- Canadian business leaders are warning of closings and a big spike in prices for consumers after the Conservative government announced a sweeping overhaul of the temporary foreign workers program.

The government of Alberta is also expressing "grave" concerns that the new rules will hurt the one province that is driving the economy.

The changes announced on Friday by Employment Minister Jason Kenney and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander essentially terminate the program for most low-wage jobs in regions with more than 6-per-cent unemployment. The threshold largely limits the program to Alberta and Saskatchewan and a few small pockets elsewhere. But even in regions where the program is still allowed for low-wage jobs, employers will face much higher fees and a cap that limits foreign employees to 10 per cent of their work force.

"This is an appalling over-reaction," said Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which has supported the Conservative government's economic approach in the past. "This will be a serious knock on this government's small-business credentials to have taken the kind of move that they just did."

Restaurants Canada, which represents restaurant owners, predicts the formula, combined with new $1,000 user fees, will force some restaurants to close, while others will need to raise prices to cover higher wages.

"I think there are going to be business casualties," said Joyce Reynolds, Restaurants Canada's vice-president of government affairs. "Are Canadians prepared to pay double what they pay now for a steak?"

Friday's announcement was dramatic in terms of the scope of policy changes. Taken as a whole, the changes are a direct response to critics who say employers have become over-reliant on the program and are not doing enough to find Canadian workers. The $1,000 fees - more than three times the current $275 - will be used to finance stronger enforcement of the rules and better labour market information, another area that has had Ottawa on the defensive.

The Conservative government is calculating that the vocal objections of business groups will find little sympathy with voters, who have spoken equally loudly against the program. Mr. Kenney sided on Friday with critics, who have long said the program has, in some cases, suppressed wage growth.

Friday's changes split the program into two, including a smaller TFWP for low-skilled positions with a new screening process that will ensure employers try harder to hire Canadians. Other parts will be renamed the International Mobility Program, which is largely for higher-paying jobs and inter-company transfers that will continue to be exempt from requirements to search for Canadians first.

Mr. Kenney said employers who cannot find people for low-wage jobs have a simple option: Pay more.

"This has to be a last and limited resort," he said of the program. "It cannot be a business model."

The minister pointed to newly released statistics showing that 1,123 employers relied on temporary foreign workers last year for more than 50 per cent of their work force. A government report released on Friday said these numbers clearly show that the program is no longer being used as intended.

The Alberta reaction was swift and negative.

"We have some grave, grave concerns about the economic impacts in our province, in Alberta, with our unique labour situation," Kyle Fawcett, the province's Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour, said in an interview.

Foreign investors with capital to spend are judging Alberta now on two fronts: whether they can get the province's abundant oil and gas products to markets, and whether the work force is stable and affordable. With proposed pipeline projects such as Keystone XL and Northern Gateway held up by regulatory delays and environmental concerns, Mr. Fawcett said more uncertainty on the labour front is unwelcome. His department estimates the province, which has generated most of Canada's new jobs, will be short 96,000 workers by 2020.

"We are driving the economy right now in this province, and I would hate for Alberta to be penalized, and have those impacts start to impact the national economy," he said in an interview.



The winners

A new fast-track option will approve foreign workers within 10 business days if they are in the highest-demand occupations, such as skilled trades, or are among the top 10 per cent for highest-paid occupations. The fast-track option will also be available for short-term work of 120 calendar days or less in jobs with above-average pay.

Those who bring in farm workers under the On-Farm Primary Agriculture program are exempt from the cap, the reduced timelines and the higher fees.

The losers

The moratorium on access to the program for all employers in the food service sector has been lifted, but the new high-unemployment area provision will effectively make that moratorium permanent in most parts of the country.

The program will be off-limits for employers in the accommodation, food services and retail trade sectors - as well as those who hire cleaners, construction helpers, landscapers and security guards - if they operate in areas of high unemployment, which the government defines as being above 6 per cent.

What's next

The Live-in Caregiver Program is subject to the new $1,000 fee, but is not subject to the cap or the reduced timelines. An official said the program is facing a separate review and further related announcements are expected.


Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, June 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page T3

Fogo Island, Nfld.

Travellers who've made the epic journey to Fogo Island Inn can go the distance and sail into Iceberg Alley. From now to July 31 (or until the icebergs are moving), the remote retreat is offering its guests a half-day sailing excursion aboard a custom-built expedition vessel to see the annual southern migration of icebergs from Greenland. While you're taking in the up-close views of 10,000-year-old ice formations, the captain and crew will regale you with stories of life in the region. Landlubbers need not fret: The inn's 29 rooms are outfitted with floor-to-ceiling windows and uninterrupted views of the ebbs and floes of the North Atlantic Ocean. The Iceberg Getaway Package starts at $1,495 per night.


Dutch hotel group citizenM has opened its first French property in the central zone of Paris Charles de Gaulle International Airport. From the unique Julian Opie art piece that covers its façade to interiors that are decked with Vitra furnishings, super-king-size beds, Hansgrohe rain showers, Alessandro Gualtieri bath products and in-room tablet MoodPads that control TV, music, blinds, temperature, digital artwork and more, this is a cut above typically drab terminal-side lodging. While you won't find a fine-dining restaurant on site, sandwiches, salads, coffee and cocktails are served 24/7 at the hip cafeteria-style canteenM.


Spend a night in Turner Prize-winning artist Antony Gormley's Room, a sculpture-turned-suite that emerges from the façade of the Beaumont Hotel in Mayfair like a giant Lego creature. Rumoured to rent for about $4,600 a night (the price has not yet been divulged to the public), the unique space is a huge splurge. The interior includes a living room, marbled bathroom and a tiny bedroom with a 10-metre-high ceiling and only one window that provides a glimpse of the sky. The hotel - the first lodging venture by restaurateurs Chris Corbin and Jeremy King of The Wolseley, The Delaunay and Brasserie Zedel fame - is set to open in October. Reservation inquiries are being accepted now.

Chemnitz, Germany

Housed in a 1920s-era Erich Mendelsohn building, the State Museum of Archaeology Chemnitz displays historic artifacts in a thoroughly modern setting. Architecture firm Atelier Brueckner converted the former department store into a sleek, well-lit exhibition space with interactive exhibits and a permanent collection that spans from the Paleolithic Age to the beginning of industrialization in modern-day Saxony. Highlights include a landfill of sea urchins dating back more than 280,000 years, a bust of Adonis from 5,000 BC and a collection of ancient spearheads.

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