Behind the mask
He's likely the next leader of the world's largest democracy. But many Indians are unsure which Narendra Modi they're voting for: an economic wizard who can deliver a prosperous future - or a calculating sectarian who will revive a dark past. Iain Marlow reports
Saturday, April 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F1

AHMEDABAD, INDIA -- Her face framed by a brilliant green scarf, Fatima Bibi sits on the concrete floor of her back-alley home and explains why she can't vote for the front-runner in what may be the most pivotal election in India's history. He is a fellow Gujarati, the pride of India's thriving northwestern state, but in her eyes Narendra Modi is anything but a hero. She simply can't forgive him for what happened 12 years ago.

It began on Feb. 27, 2002, when a train carrying devotees of the Hindu god Ram was attacked by angry Muslims and burst into flames in Ghodra, a city 130 kilometres east of Ahmedabad.

Investigators later ruled the fire, which left 58 passengers dead, accidental. But early the next morning, a mob marched into Ms. Bibi's neighbourhood on the outskirts of this metropolis of almost 7 million. Some in the crowd wore the khaki shorts favoured by Hindu militants, and carried cans of fuel, swords and printouts telling them where to find Muslim homes and businesses. "Say Ram!" they shouted.

Amid falling stones and rising chants, Ms. Bibi fled, like those around her. She managed to hide on a rooftop, but down the lane, her sister and young children came upon a police officer, who told them where buses were waiting to carry people to safety. Instead, the woman was surrounded by Hindus, Ms. Bibi says. "They hit her with [bamboo] lathis and cut her with swords and burned her in front of my eyes." She weeps at the savagery.

The violence went on for weeks. Nearly 2,000 people, most of them Muslim, were killed, many of the women having been raped first, and another 150,000 were driven from their homes.

Yet troops weren't deployed until the worst was over. And the police? Ms. Bibi says one asked her: "Why did you do what you did in Ghodra? You have to pay."

A few months before, a new chief minister had taken office in Gujarat: Narendra Modi.

Mr. Modi has held the post ever since, in large part because he is hailed as an economic wizard for bringing a wave of prosperity to his state. And now, as India approaches the mid-point of an election that stretches over five weeks, he is expected to be the next leader of the world's largest democracy.

To his supporters, he is a self-made man well equipped to halt the corruption and dysfunction that many feel are holding the rest of India hostage. But others not only challenge the idea of Gujarat as the land of plenty, they can't forget the bloodshed of 2002. To them, Mr. Modi's continual anti-Muslim remarks suggest that he is unrepentant and there may be no one more dangerous to the future the nation.

Closing in on the prize

In the 47-degree heat of India's summer furnace, a Bolero jeep carrying black-clad commandos glides to a halt in front of a screaming crowd just outside Gandhinagar, the Gujarati capital. Once its heavily armed occupants have taken up position, Mr. Modi, 63, steps from a second SUV wearing a bright white linen kurta that falls to his knees. Embroidered over his heart is a lotus, the symbol of the polarizing Hindu nationalist opposition, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

His security cordon locks arms as the crowd surges forward, screaming in Hindi: "This time, it's a Modi government!" Folding his thick hands in greeting, Mr. Modi peers through his rimless glasses at the supporters without smiling. But his stare is not of the moment - it's as though he realizes that he is almost there.

A recent Pew Research Centre survey revealed that seven Indians in 10 want political change, and 63 per cent favour the BJP. The ghosts of 2002 - and all they represent - still haunt Mr. Modi, but almost all the polls show his party and its allies (India has been governed by coalitions since 1989) with a majority when the final count is in on May 16.

Barring a last-minute revival by the Congress incumbents, the world will see soon enough if his intention is simply to recast the country in the image of his home state or, as his critics fear, he will drive India away from the secular pluralism that has defined it since independence - and toward bitter division.

To anticipate what the future holds for the man, it may help to examine his past.

It starts in a sleepy city of 25,000: Vadnagar, where Mr. Modi grew up, is surrounded by dusty farmland in Gujarat's northern hinterland - camels haul carts down narrow streets past packs of sleeping dogs, faded pink terraces and ancient houses, one with eyes painted above its carved wooden door.

In a clinic down a small side road, the resident doctor adjusts his glasses as he reflects on what has become of his childhood friend. It makes no sense, Sudhir Joshi says. Young Narendra was so poor he had to leave school each day at recess to help his father serve customers down by the train station.

"I didn't know anything big was going to come out of him," he says, as patients flow ceaselessly into the waiting room. Like so many of them, Mr. Modi should have been chained to his fate by India's rigid caste hierarchy, but he refused to be held down. Dr. Joshi recalls his remarkable confidence at 13, when he decided to run for class representative: "Now, I have to win it." Which he did - "he convinced them all."

With six children, five of them boys, the family never had enough. His mother worked long hours as a maid and wasn't home to cook, so Mr. Modi learned to make parathas and dal over a smoky wood stove. He enjoyed cricket and acting in school plays, but took nothing lightly, according to his younger brother.

"Whatever games we would play as kids, Narendra bhai [brother] would have to be captain: He wouldn't settle for anything less," recalls Prahlad Damodardas Modi. "He always wanted to stand out and tried to get our attention. If we didn't listen, he would even beat me."

That rigid ambition pulled him closer to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a national, pseudo-paramilitary Hindu organization created in 1925 to build character as well as resist British imperialism and Muslim separatism. Its khaki-clad members hold morning drills and are often implicated in sectarian violence, along with other groups in the Sangh Paravar, a Hindu nationalist umbrella organization.

He would eventually earn a master's degree, but Mr. Modi dropped out at 17 after a year of college with Dr. Joshi, and took a two-year spiritual journey to the Himalayas. Almost five decades later, he remains a devout Hindu, rising early for yoga and prayers, and fasting regularly, even when campaigning.

Returning from his trek, he became a full-time organizer with the RSS, which was to evolve into the backbone of the BJP. (Not everyone in the party is Hindu, says Piyush Pandya, 25, a campaigner at the Modi rally, but "we feel closer to the BJP.")

The solitary life of an RSS propagandist provided much of the rigour that now serves him so well, but it led him to leave behind not just Vadnagar but a young wife. The marriage was arranged and never consummated, but Mr. Modi didn't even acknowledge it until he filed his national nomination papers.

A few years later, he disappeared in earnest. In 1975, as unrest spread across the country, the iconic Indira Gandhi, grandmother of current Congress candidate Rahul Gandhi, declared the infamous "emergency" that allowed her to postpone elections and arrest foes. With the RSS banned and its leaders behind bars, Mr. Modi went underground.

Vishnu Pandya, editor of the official RSS organ at the time, was among those arrested and remembers the young Mr. Modi as "not very knowledgeable," but enough of a zealot to provide inspiration. One day, as morale was withering in their cell, the prisoners received a visitor: Mr. Modi in disguise, boldly risking his freedom to talk strategy and lift their spirits.

"That was very dangerous," says Mr. Pandya, now 67 and a historian and columnist in Ahmedabad. "One of the others locked up in the cell - he said, 'He will be a leader one day, maybe even a chief minister.' "

But Mr. Modi's dedication didn't extend to his family. Prahlad says his famous brother didn't return to Vadnagar for 30 years, and even now sees their elderly mother exactly once a year, on her birthday.

"Before he became chief minister, he told us not to bother him, not to come asking for jobs," Prahlad says. "We didn't feel bad. We feel proud that he's been chosen."

Change India forever

Standing outside the hall in Gandhinagar, which is just north of Ahmedabad, Mr. Modi waits for his entourage to arrive before he goes in. The building is packed with loyal supporters. He allows himself a smile.

Formed in 1980, the BJP has had just one full term in power, which ended in 2004. A decade of Congress rule since has left the nation wounded and weary. Because of corruption and economic disorder, millions of Indians suffer from grotesque levels of poverty despite their nation's rising economic clout. With lives essentially untouched by the left-leaning government's welfare schemes, two-thirds of India's 1.2 billion people get by on less than a $2 a day.

Meanwhile, young voters are restless due to widespread unemployment, and the middle class, which is growing and well educated, expects more of politicians than endless corporate scandals that drain the state's coffers - two alone (involving the coal and wireless industries) cost the taxpayer almost $80-billion (U.S.).

Many have high hopes for Mr. Modi. They want him not only to rebuild the economy but to change India forever. It would take years, but their goal is to see the country with one-third of the planet's poorest people modernized on the same scale as China.

"Even if he can do 50 per cent of what he did in Gujarat, then we'll be better off," says Ramesh Chandak, chief executive officer of KEC International, which has six factories in various Indian states, as well as in Brazil and Mexico.

But the counterpoint to all that promise is the nagging fear that he will also bring to the national stage bitter, sectarian politics the BJP can't seem to escape.

Above all, Mr. Modi is known for being deliberate. He alone controls his message; bureaucrats and even members of his cabinet are rarely allowed to appear on TV or speak in public.

He is no less meticulous about his appearance. Bipin Chauhan, his tailor for 25 years, flips through pictures of fitting sessions on his smartphone, and says his biggest client prefers fine linens and cream is his favourite colour. He also has a knack for knowing how to stand out (wearing a jacket when no one else does, for example) - a fashion sense so distinctive that Mr. Chauhan now markets his own "Modi" line of kurtas. "His aura is very strong," he says of the chief minister, who once told him: "I don't compromise in my voice, my eyes, my clothes or my work."

This unwillingness to compromise frightens some people. After the riots, investigations by human-rights groups and the government repeatedly implicated the state. For two years, no one faced prosecution, and even then, the Supreme Court had to move the trials out of Gujarat.

Finally, a decade after the fact, 32 people were convicted, including a legislator who, even though her phone records showed she was at one riot, had become Mr. Modi's education minister.

Intimidation was a constant complaint. When renowned classical dancer Mallika Sarabhai filed a suit accusing the state of complicity, corporate donations to her troupe dried up and, at one point, a warrant was issued charging her with human trafficking in connection with its trips overseas.

Her passport was seized and she was required to apply at police stations to travel abroad. "The policemen would say, 'We know who you are. It's the pressure from the top,'" she recalls. "I was enemy number one."

Mr. Modi was cleared of any wrongdoing related to the riots, but he has neither apologized for his government's behaviour nor shown any great remorse for what happened. (He once called the resettlement centres created for Muslims who lost their homes "baby-making factories.")

Even so, the world took a dim view of his performance, and in 2005 the U.S. refused to issue him a visitor's visa. But now, as victory draws near, foreign diplomats flutter closer, and it seems highly unlikely that his election would spark any international backlash.

'Son of shah'

Although the BJP's sophisticated publicity machine is pitching the candidate as a moderate who has been endorsed by (a few) high-profile Muslims, he remains very much a product of the Hindutva (Hinduness) movement. India has a Muslim population of about 140 million, yet Mr. Modi - unlike other politicians in pursuit of votes - refuses to don a skullcap and uses allusions to India's ancient Muslim conquerors when villifying his foes.

He accuses the rival Congress campaign of courting Muslims and calls its candidate shahzade, son of the shah, even though Rahul Gandhi's great-grandfather was Jawaharlal Nehru, the country's first prime minister. To Mr. Modi, the current power brokers in New Delhi are the "sultanate," and (a vegetarian like many Hindus) he is critical of government subsidies for mutton exporters.

When such comments are called into question, his BJP handlers (who spurned requests for an interview with Mr. Modi) insist that there has been no major unrest in Gujarat since 2002 and those seeking an apology are seeking a confession.

But critics suspect such a calculating cultivation of division may be a sign that danger lies ahead, given that the possibility of communal violence is ever-present. A clash late last year between Hindus and Muslims left 60 people dead and 40,000 displaced in Uttar Pradesh. A close confidant of Mr. Modi was recently censured by India's election commission after urging Hindus in the state, India's most populous, to get "revenge" by voting BJP.

Comments like this leave liberal Indians feeling queasy.

"I'm studying history, and we spend a lot of time comparing Modi and Hitler," says Neha Dasgupta, 22, after voting Congress in an affluent Delhi neighbourhood. "A lot of time, actually."

Even those with far greater political experience argue that the stakes are high. "This is a battle for the idea of India," says Shashi Tharoor, an author, former United Nations diplomat and now a cabinet minister in a Congress government facing defeat.

Mr. Tharoor's party and its coalition, the United Progressive Alliance, still promote social democracy and a pluralistic welfare state but are wheezing and dispirited after a decade in which their lack of conviction has led to corruption and excess.

The BJP, meanwhile, says it will provide reform, accountability and growth to all Indians, despite rising evidence from Gujarat that the growth may come at a high cost to the disadvantaged, such as poor farmers driven off their land by development.

A convincing win by the BJP and its allies would suggest that Indians are so frustrated with the status quo that they are willing to experiment with the economy even at the expense of pluralism.

Would this free Mr. Modi to experiment with more divisive issues as well? Some fear he would revive plans to build a Hindu temple on the site of an ancient mosque in Ayodya - which the pilgrims aboard the ill-fated train in 2002 had visited.

The BJP downplays such fears. People who have worked with him, and will do so if he takes office next month, say that having the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance form a stable government requires that Mr. Modi be a moderate economic reformer, as advertised.

When the BJP was last in power, it embarked on an infrastructure-building campaign and liberalized several industries - business people expect something similar again this time.

Mr. Modi has promised to re-examine, but not do away with, India's large welfare and subsidy schemes, as well as to work closely with its 30 chief ministers - only five of whom would be BJP even if Gujarat stays in the fold.

Advisers say his foreign-policy priorities would be to keep an eye on rival Pakistan, while rebuilding relations with neighbours such as Sri Lanka, rejuvenating India's participation in Asia's multilateral institutions and attracting investment by capitalizing on trips he has made to China and Japan.

Converts kidding themselves

Hard-core skeptics reply that the hopeful business elite, the frustrated middle class and the desperate poor who turn to Mr. Modi for purely economic reasons are kidding themselves. Former civil servant Harsh Mander says he will promise inclusive growth, but veer India toward capitalism and religious fundamentalism.

Mr. Mander, who worked closely with Congress party president Sonia Gandhi, has seen the divisions in Gujarat while fighting to have the victims of 2002 receive housing and compensation. He quit the civil service in the wake of the riots, and likens the current struggle to that of Mahatma Gandhi, whose vision of a diverse, secular India led to his assassination by a former member of the RSS.

"It is a new battle for India," Mr. Mander says. "If India doesn't get it right, the world will remain a place that is unacceptable."

And yet a naysayer who once compared Mr. Modi to Hitler in print has very much changed his mind. M.J. Akbar is the author of a widely respected biography of Nehru, a former spokesperson for a Congress prime minister and, perhaps most surprising of all, a Muslim. Yet he recently joined the BJP as a representative - even though he once accused its candidate of having an "intellect unleavened by reason, and untempered by humanism."

Mr. Akbar now says he wrote those words in anger after the riots, and argues that his former target has no choice but to rule on everyone's behalf.

"Modi is a man who delivers," he says over coffee in Delhi. "He knows his credibility will rest on what he can do to grow the economy. You cannot have prosperity without peace."

Fatima Bibi, however, has precious little of both. Now a widow (her husband had both arms broken during the riots and died of a stroke shortly after), she must care for a disabled son and support her family on the earnings from her tiny shop.

Yet she too seems resigned to the fact that the "Modi wave" may be unstoppable: "Even the Muslims are attracted to him."

Iain Marlow is The Globe and Mail's Asia-Pacific correspondent.


Modi's economic 'miracle'

Narendra Modi's reputation as an economic magician has made the performance of his home state the subject of intense debate: Is Gujarat really doing that well?

For his 12 years in office, a flood of investment has fuelled the "miracle" in India's northwest. Good roads now reach smaller towns, factories have nonstop power and annual growth is well above the national average. Even before he arrived, Gujarat was relatively prosperous. But on his watch, it has become extremely efficient - known as the kind of place bureaucrats cut through red tape without collecting a bribe.

Demanding and meticulous, Mr. Modi makes sure bylaws are enforced and buildings without permits are demolished. Bureaucrats and cabinet ministers are given portfolios and broad mandates and then held accountable, unlike Delhi mandarins now so spooked by corruption accusations they are afraid to approve anything.

India's stock market soared 12 per cent on pre-election hopes of a Modi victory. "Business in India loves the man," says TV executive R. Sridharan. "Just about everyone in industry is rooting for him."

But Gujarat is no Utopia. Malnutrition remains atrociously high, the state's literacy ranking has slipped, and health's share of public spending has declined, leaving Gujarat fourth last among Indian states. Even the level of female infanticide is worse.

Critics say that luring corporate investment has led to unsustainable tax breaks, property giveaways and a mass displacement of the poor. Also, Gujarat's growth still trails that of states like Tamil Nadu (with half its population), and foreign investment is below that of traditional fiscal gateways, such as Mumbai.

So, if he makes the leap to New Delhi, Mr. Modi may need more than a repeat performance if he hopes to make a mark anything like that left by another famed Gujarati - Mahatma Gandhi.

Iain Marlow


Modi's competition

This week Rahul Gandhi, the man trying to halt the Modi express, accused his rival of "fooling" voters about Gujarat's success, saying business comes only because it's given farmland for the price of a few toffees.

Bad move. Narendra Modi not only denied the charge, he seized the opportunity to polish his populist credentials by informing the scion of India's greatest political dynasty that he, the son of a humble tea seller, saw precious few toffees while he was growing up.

The exchange illustrates the uphill battle that faces Mr. Gandhi, the 43-year-old Cambridge-educated son of Sonia, grandson of Indira and great-grandson of founding prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. He has been in politics for a decade and devoted much energy to anti-corruption legislation in recent years, but his Congress party pedigree may be doing him more harm than good.

He started off driving trains and ended up as one of Ukraine's most powerful men atop a $6-billion empire built on natural gas trading. Then, early last month, police arrested him in Austria on U.S. charges of corruption and involvement in a criminal enterprise - a move he says was 'purely political.' Eric Reguly tells the curious story of Dmitry Firtash from Vienna
Saturday, April 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B7


At about 8 p.m. on March 12, Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash left the offices of his family holding company in central Vienna with several colleagues and his usual small army of beefy security guards. Only moments later, he would become, in his view, an instant "victim" of the power struggle in Ukraine between the United States and Russia.

As he stepped onto the street, Mr. Firtash was arrested by Austrian police at the request of the FBI. In an indictment sealed in 2013 and unsealed on April 2, he had been charged with corruption and involvement in a criminal enterprise by a U.S. grand jury.

Without putting up a fuss, he was hauled into a police station and, two hours later, delivered to a detention centre. His release came nine days later, when he posted bail of €125-million ($190-million) by wire transfer - an Austrian judicial system record. Now he cannot leave Austria.

"The reason for my detention was without foundation as I believe strongly that the motivation was purely political," he said a few days after his arrest.

The arrest marked a grim reversal for Mr. Firtash, who was, until only a couple of months ago, one of the most powerful men in Ukraine and an ally of former president Viktor Yanukovych. Mr. Firtash made his fortune trading natural gas and was a big player in Mr. Yanukovych's political party, known as the Party of Regions. When Mr. Yanukovych fled in February after months of often violent protests, Mr. Firtash and other oligarchs became personae non gratae in Kiev. The interim government alleged that some of them siphoned billions of dollars from the country. Mr. Firtash said he did no such thing.

The American allegations against Mr. Firtash and five co-defendants apparently had little to do with Ukraine - the case centres on $18.5-million (U.S) in bribes allegedly paid in India to try to secure the rights to a mining project. But commentators were quick to speculate that the timing of the arrest could not be entirely coincidental. He had been nabbed four days before the pro-Russia referendum in Crimea, a move that triggered U.S. and European Union sanctions against some 30 individual Russians and pro-Russian Ukrainians for what was described as their role in threatening the security and borders of Ukraine.

Mr. Firtash, a natural gas trader reportedly worth anywhere between $500-million and $10-billion or more, was not on the sanctions list. But he had been close to both Russian natural gas giant Gazprom, whose gas contract dispute with Ukraine has turned ugly and threatens to impoverish the country, and to Mr. Yanukovych, who fled to Russia in February after protests in Kiev turned into a bloodbath, killing at least 79 and injuring more than 500 (the interim Ukrainian government has accused Mr. Yanukovych of mass murder).

Timothy Ash, a Standard Bank analyst, called the arrest of Mr. Firtash a "seismic event" that could have repercussions for the oligarchs who are close to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his cronies at the Kremlin. "I think this sends a strong message to former Soviet Union oligarchs that ... if they are to do business in or with the West, they need to comply with some basic Western values," he said. " I also think that it sends a strong message to Russia that the West is willing to go down the financial sanctions route, unless it backtracks over Crimea and over broader policy towards Ukraine."

Mr. Putin did not backtrack on Crimea and Mr. Firtash faces extradition to the United States, which, inconveniently for Mr. Firtash, has an extradition treaty with Austria. Since his arrest, he has been busy proclaiming his innocence, protecting his businesses in Ukraine, where he claims to be the biggest private employer, with 100,000 workers, arguing that his entrepreneurial leadership is essential to Ukraine's economic recovery and trying to distance himself from the hated Mr. Yanukovych.

He has also been ramping up his war of words with Yulia Tymoshenko, the former Ukrainian prime minister who is running in the presidential race scheduled for May 25. Mr. Firtash blames her for much of his woes, insisting that she is bent on destroying him, to the point he suspects she had some influence in the timing of his arrest. "Tymoshenko became a serious opponent towards independent gas traders in Ukraine and started a very big war against me, telling people I was a middleman, that I wanted to harm Ukraine," Mr. Firtash said in an interview with The Globe and Mail in Vienna on Monday.

She did more than that. She once accused him of being in a secret partnership with the notorious Ukrainian-born, Russian mobster Semion Mogilevich, who is on the FBI's "10 Most Wanted" list. Ripped-off Canadian investors will remember him as the dark force behind the Toronto Stock Exchange's YBM Magnex, which claimed to make magnets and did not, earning him, in 2003, a pile of U.S. Justice Department indictments for fraud, racketeering, money laundering and other forms of misbehaviour.

The evolution of a trader

Mr. Firtash has seen happier days. He may still be a billionaire but he stands to lose it all if he goes to trial in the United States, and he can't count on his vanishing cohort of allies in Ukraine, among them Mr. Yanukovych, to provide him with cover. "Firtash is a man with a dreadful reputation," said Taras Berezovets, a political analyst who runs the Kiev think tank Politech. "He is known as the man who supported the regime of Yanukovych."

Dmitry Firtash does not travel light. The cast of characters in support of his interview with The Globe and Mail, held at the offices of a Vienna communications firm, included a bodyguard; his lawyer; a London PR man flown in for the occasion; the Kiev communications man for Group DF, the umbrella company for his Ukrainian and international businesses; the head of Inter Media Group, his TV company in Ukraine; and Robert Shetler-Jones, the Briton who was chief executive officer of Group DF until 2012 and is now its deputy chairman.

Fluent in Russian, Mr. Shetler-Jones acted as Mr. Firtash's interpreter during the meeting. Not present, except by phone to clear up a misunderstanding about the conditions of the interview, was Lord Tim Bell, the London PR guru who helped to steer Margaret Thatcher to three general election victories. Evidently, Mr. Firtash still has a lot of money to spend.

Mr. Firtash is tall, slim and well groomed, with salt and pepper hair and a carefully manicured beard of maybe five days' growth. He wore a light blue shirt - no tie - light blue blazer and grey pants of obvious high quality.

For a man of such power and formidable reputation, his voice is surprisingly soft. He spoke at a measured pace and liked to answer his own questions. "Why did this happen? Let me explain ..." he would say. He has three children, one from his first wife, two from his second and current wife, Lada, who is chairman of the Firtash Foundation, which runs the family charities. They are - or at least were until his arrest - regulars in the London social scene and own a house near Harrod's, in Knightsbridge, complete with underground pool.

Mr. Firtash's rise to the top of Ukraine's oligarch heap is remarkable when you consider he came from nothing, admits he was an academic underachiever and didn't get his big break as a gas trader until fairly late in his career. But he took outsized risks that occasionally paid off, had an instinct for business and was skilled at forming relationships. "I always had a feeling about people," he said.

Mr. Firstash was born in the town of Sinkiv, in western Ukraine (the largely non-Russian-speaking part of the country). The son of a truck driver and an accountant who worked in a sugar refinery, young Dmitry was expected to do what other Soviet-era boys did, which was to attend the schools assigned to them, join the military and then work in a collective farm or hellish factory. The only unusual feature of his youth was his work in the family greenhouse, a sort of off-the-books operation that brought in a few extra kopecks and gave Dmitry an early taste for business.

He attended Krasnolimansk Railway Vocational School and learned how to drive steam trains. "I was middling in my abilities at school," he said. "When I tell people I was a train driver, they laugh. I know how to throw coal into a boiler."

Then it was off to the military, after which he joined the fire brigade in his home town, got married, had a kid and realized he would face a life of near poverty unless he boosted his income. As luck would have it, the political and economic reforms under perestroika in the mid-1980s, and the collapse of the Soviet Union a few years later, meant a capitalism free-for-all was about to be unleashed. Mr. Firstash became a trader, selling everything from bed sheets to dried fruit. With a partner, he once made a small fortune by selling dried milk to Uzbekistan and taking cotton in return. "My job was to ensure the cotton got to the port of Odessa, then was sold into Europe," he said. "I made on the deal somewhere between $200,000 and $250,000. I was 24."

Hooked on trading, he moved to Moscow, which was operating as an enormous souk at the time as representatives of the former Soviet republics came to town to barter and beg for life's essential products. His big break came when he based himself in the Rossiya hotel, Europe's biggest hotel until it was demolished in 2006. Located near Red Square, it was the city's deal-making hub. There, he met a trade official from Turkmenistan. The country desperately needed food and Mr. Firtash raised money from acquaintances (some of whom are now famous oligarchs, he said) and delivered enough flour, oils and other products to fill entire warehouses. But the bill went unpaid for three months and his backers were getting surly. So he flew to Ashgabat and learned the government had no money. "The only product I could take in return was gas," Mr. Firtash said. "It was effectively a barter trade. ... Eventually, we contracted for almost the entire volume of central Asian gas."

Rather suddenly, Mr. Firtash found himself in the unlikely role of gas tycoon. From the late-1990s, he was supplying Ukraine with almost all its imported gas, some of which was in turn sold into European spot markets, where he earned fortunes. In 2004, Mr. Firtash formed a joint venture in Switzerland with Russia's Gazprom called RosUkrEnergo (RUE). The deal: Gazprom would get access to central Asian gas and the Ukrainian market and Mr. Firstash would gain access to Gazprom's pipeline network, which extended into Europe. "Gazprom made no investment in the [joint venture] but got in return an awful lot," he said.

Hints of criminal connections

This is where Mr. Firstash's often murky investments became even murkier. While RUE was ostensibly more or less an equal joint venture, more than a few officials in the Ukrainian government believed the true power behind it was not Mr. Firtash, but Mr. Mogilevich, the mob boss. In 2005, Oleksandr Turchynov, now acting president, then head of Ukraine's secret service, the SBU, told the Financial Times that "The name Mogilevich isn't in the [gas trade] agreements or the ownership documents but there are many indications that a group of people under his control could be involved."

Ms. Tymoshenko, the former prime minister, made the same accusation a year later on BBC's Panorama program. Mr. Firtash denies the allegations. "He was not involved in the business and not associated with the business," he said.

But a curious and widely reported story, first published by Wikileaks in 2010, suggested that Mr. Firtash did have some sort of relationship with Mr. Mogilevich. In 2008, Mr. Firtash requested a meeting with Gordon Taylor, then the U.S. ambassador in Ukraine. A cable sent to the U.S. State Department after the meeting stated: "Firtash's bottom line was that he did not deny having links to those associated with organized crime. Instead, he argued that he was forced into dealing with organized crime members, including Mogilevich, or he would never have been able to build a business."

Mr. Shetler-Jones, Mr. Firtash's deputy chairman, confirmed that the meeting with the ambassador did happen, and that Mr. Firtash did on one occasion meet Mr. Mogilevich. "But the comments [reported in the cable] in reference to Mogilevich were not made by Dmitry Firtash," he said.

In 2009, RUE's Ukrainian gas import monopoly vanished when the Ukrainian government, then led by president Viktor Yushchenko, predecessor to the ousted Mr. Yanukovych, rewrote the gas import script and handed the market to Russia's Gazprom.

Mr. Firtash thinks Ms. Tymoshenko was the driving force behind RUE's banishment and argues that Ukraine is the poorer for it because Gazprom is charging Ukraine higher prices than RUE did (a new gas war has just broken out between Russia and Ukraine, with Russia demanding the end of discounts and arrears payments of more than $2-billion). "I cannot prove what I am saying, but she created a situation where Ukraine is completely dependent on Russian gas with no alternative to go to a different market and we have all these problems. Immediately after this, the Ukrainian budget began to shudder."

He thinks the Kremlin is expertly using its control of the Ukrainian gas supply to exert pressure on Kiev as tensions rise in Eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian and pro-Ukraine forces were clashing this week. "Russia needed geopolitical influence in Ukraine," he said. "And when Ukraine doesn't have debts and doesn't have problems, and when the economy is working normally, it is impossible for Russia to influence Ukraine. There are no weak points. So they had to create a scenario [to weaken Ukraine] through the price of gas."

It appears, however, that Mr. Firtash's empire - whose sales, he says, reached $6-billion in 2012 - largely survived Gazprom's takeover of the Ukraine gas market in 2009. He still traded gas inside Ukraine and expanded into banking, media, real estate, titanium, chemicals and fertilizer. His connections obviously proved fruitful. Mr. Firtash has a close relationship with Sergey Levochkin, who was chief of staff in the administration of Mr. Yanukovych. Last year, Mr. Firtash and Mr. Levochkin purchased Ukraine's Inter Media Group, the broadcaster that owns one of the country's main TV networks.

Mr. Firstash faces an uncertain future in spite of his vast holdings and wealth. He could get extradited, in which case all bets on the health of his empire are off. While he has distanced himself from Mr. Yanukovych, and insists he supported his removal from the president's office, Ukrainians still associate him with the kleptomaniac strongman.

He says he still has full control over his Ukrainian businesses, and that the jobs they create, and taxes they pay, will play a big role in the sustainability of Ukraine after the May elections. He believes that Ukraine, under a strong elected government, can act as a "neutral state that is a bridge between Russia and Europe." In the presidential elections, he is backing Petro Poroshenko, who owns the confectionery company Roshen and is known as the "chocolate king." Smart move - Mr. Poroshenko is ahead in the polls.

Mr. Firtash obviously hopes that Mr. Poroshenko, should he win, will highlight his role as a big employer and the president of Ukraine's Federation of Employers. "I think I am one of those people who can be quite useful, to put it mildly, in the resolution of the country's problems."

The problem is that Mr. Firtash has lost a lot of his allies in Kiev and Moscow. The next chapters in the oligarch's story are unlikely to be as rousing, or as lucrative, as the first ones and may end in a lengthy prison sentence.

For her part, Ms. Tymoshenko isn't shedding any tears about her old foe's woes. In an interview published April 13 in Austria's Die Presse, she was asked how she felt about Mr. Firtash's arrest. "That there is justice that prevails - sometimes earlier, sometimes later," she said.

In Queensland, Catherine Dawson March ignores croc warning signs, feeds grapes to a cassowary and searches for turtles in the Great Barrier Reef - all in the name of leaving her comfort zone
Saturday, April 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page T1

CAIRNS, QUEENSLAND -- When did I become such a wimp? When I backpacked around Australia 23 years ago with my future husband we hitchhiked - a lot - to hike and camp in remote areas. It was risky, but it was the only way to see more and spend less. And I'll never forget the time we lost the trail and then half our tent in the midst of a three-day coastal walk in Victoria - not to mention the many times we let our rides take us home for free meals. (They were such kind people, really!) Reading my old travel diaries recently I was shocked at how unadventurous I've become - but kids, marriage, middle-age and a full-time job will do that to you.

So I've come back Down Under - not backpacking, thankfully - to recapture some of that derring-do. Still, I can't help but think that standing shin deep in mud and tidal water in a mangrove swamp - home to crocodiles, maybe even deadly box jellyfish and the irukandji jellyfish - is a bad idea. Am I ready to ignore every bit of advice I've received since landing in Northern Queensland four days ago?

Brandon Walker of the Kuku Yalanji tribe, whose family has lived along Cooya Beach, 73 kilometres north of Cairns, for thousands of years, hands me a thin, two-metre-long bamboo spear.

When I point out it is unlikely to protect me from reptile attack (though it might make a nice toothpick for the croc), Brandon points out that it will help me catch a nice, juicy crab.

Ignoring the "danger crocodile" signs (red triangle, wide open croc jaw), he leads me into the bush where the mangroves meet the sea. My protests elicit scoffs; he's been wandering through this area his entire life, as have generations of his family. "My aunties taught us how to hunt here - they'd send my brother and I back to the house with bags of clams, then we'd have to find them again." Drawing on this past, Brandon and his brother Linc now run Kuku Yalanji Cultural Habitat Tours, sharing their childhood adventures and knowledge of the bush with visitors as they forage for a seafood lunch. Brandon explains why we won't meet our end here - his answer is a blend of geographical fact and Aboriginal legend - and it's persuasive enough that I follow him in.

I am drawn to the wildlife in Australia, terrifying as some of it may be. Much of this country's flora and fauna can hurt, if not outright kill you if you're not careful.

Shark attacks off both coasts routinely make the news. Saltwater crocs dine on dogs and small children. Lethal stonefish are easily missed. The rain forest stinging tree injects a neurotoxin into your skin, causing excruciating pain that lasts for months. Twenty of the world's 25 deadliest snakes live here, not to mention venomous spiders that like to hide in your boots and bush toilets (and that can eat through your tent - trust me).

The allure is that many of the animals don't live anywhere else. Separated from the rest of the world millions of years ago, species evolved entirely on their own. Many of these unique creatures can be found in North Queensland - it's where the Wet Tropics rain forest meets the Great Barrier Reef. These diverse ecosystems make it one of the richest wildlife regions in Australia, where scientists are still discovering new species.

On the Daintree River, about 100 kilometres north of Cairns, small tour boats ply the rain forest waterway looking for crocs, snakes and anything in between. It's a good place to spot crocodiles in the wild - as long as they want to be seen. Mick Casey, our guide, was a character straight out of Aussie central casting - accent, attitude and great storytelling. He makes the sex life of plants as fascinating as the crocodiles we soon spy sun-baking. Seeing these beasts from an open, low-in-the-water boat is breathtaking and chilling. Crocs can move with lightning speed, and we're in so close that mangrove branches are in my lap.

Natuaralist Alan Gillanders is another great wildlife enthusiast. He's delightfully nerdy - a committed "greenie" known by his colleagues as "the possum whisperer," who passionately rattles off details and stories on a nighttime walk. More than half of Australia's mammals are nocturnal, and to see them in action you need flashlights to look for the "shine" caused by light reflecting off the back their eyes. Without the light, I can't see my hand in front of my face - I hope we don't stumble upon any of the stinging trees he's warned us about. But only possums, bandicoots and bats are out tonight. When I ask Alan about the deadly rep of Australian wildlife, he laughs: "It's largely a reputation rather than fact. There are lots of dangerous plants and animals in [Canada]. In fact, I've a friend in your country who wants me to come snow camping and it scares the hell out of me!"

I ponder the difference between sleeping outside in the winter and stumbling upon a hungry "saltie" - the largest and deadliest of all reptiles - as I wander around Hartley's Crocodile Adventures. The 10-hectare wildlife park, 40 minutes north of Cairns, is perfect for ticking species off your must-see list in a hurry. (I do not, after all, have nine months to spend looking this time out.) Koalas, parrots, snakes, turtles, wetland birds - they're all here, but the main focus is a large lagoon teeming with crocs where visitors take a 25-minute boat ride to watch them being fed. Chicken parts are hung off a long pole and dunked repeatedly in the billabong. When you least expect it, one jumps. If it's the 800-kilogram, 5.4 metre-long "Ted" who rises right beside you, you'll feel the "thunk" of his snapping jaw in your gut. (For an extra fee you can feed them yourself on a private tour with a wildlife handler - and they'll tie on the chicken head.)

You can also feed the locals at Cairns Tropical Zoo, which offers more up close and personal time than you'd expect. This is where I finally see a cassowary - human-sized birds that run up to 50 kilometres an hour and, if provoked, can strike out with a dagger-like claw on each foot. Despite hiking through cassowary habits last time I was in Queensland, I never saw one. Now I'm feeding grapes to two of the great birds with my bare hands (albeit through a chain-link fence). I also hand-feed lemurs, cuddle a wombat and a koala, hold a young crocodile, and spend quality time with a 'roo and her joey. Then I try not to feel guilty about last night's dinner: Ochre, one of Cairns top restaurants, dishes up fine plates of Australian bush meat - kangaroo sirloin, pulled emu, roasted wallaby, green-ant gravlax and crocodile wontons. When I brag about it on the phone later, my kids nearly hang up on me.

What wasn't on the menu at Ochre was turtle - only Aboriginals can kill the animal as part of their traditional hunt. But a day spent at the Great Barrier Reef is a good way to search for the endangered green sea turtle in its habitat. Guided snorkelling tours, scuba dives or goofy dry-hair "helmet" dives get you close to the reef's 1,500 species of fish and 400 types of coral, not to mention turtles and the odd reef shark. They cost extra but get you get a better view than what you see in the roped-off snorkelling area or aboard Quicksilver's semi-submersible vessels. Since I'm living large this time, I choose to return to port by helicopter and it's an awe-inspiring way to see the world's largest coral reef.

Looking back, I can see why I followed Brandon into the bush against my better judgment. The boat tours, the croc feeding, the koala cuddling, the chopper flight - I'd been more coddled than I'd have cared to admit. I was ready to step off into the unknown, with no chain-link fence between me and whatever came next - like I did when I stuck out my thumb 23 years ago.

In the mangrove swamp, Brandon shows me how to use a clam shell as a boomerang, how to turn a nut into a candle, what plants I should never eat and what seeds clear up pink eye. The mud sucks around my ankles; suddenly, I'm thigh deep in the tide - I've sunken into a crab hole and nearly drop the lunch bucket of snails and crabs. I pull myself out of it just as Brandon calls back: "Here, this crab's smaller, see if you can get him!"

There's a glint in his eye and a challenge in his voice: He doesn't think I can do it. But this is one tourist who's already out of her comfort zone, who's tossed aside city-slicker misgivings, who's ruined a pedicure by using her toes to dig in the mud for clams, who's eaten Aussie bush meat and alienated her family. Kill my own lunch? Why not? As long as I make it back alive to tell the tale.

The writer was a guest of Tourism and Events Queensland. It did not review or approve the story.



From Canada, fly direct to Brisbane, Queensland, from Qantas hubs in Dallas (16 hours) and Los Angeles (13 hours). Then it's another 2 1/2 hours to Cairns on Qantas, Jetstar or Virgin Australia.

Where to stay

Silky Oaks Lodge: True luxe in the rain forest, complete with comfy hammocks on each treehouse balcony where you lie and listen to the Mossman River. Swimming holes, a restaurant that feels like you're in the treetops and a proper spa make the haven complete. Treehouses from $410 ($398 Australian dollars, all prices below are in Australian dollars); Mossman,

Rose Gums Wilderness Retreat: Gorgeous cabins that feel like treehouses in the rain-forest canopy. Take a short walk at the right time of day and they almost guarantee platypus sightings here. Plus, every morning there's a musky-rat kangaroo and parrot feeding. Tree houses from $304, includes one breakfast. Malanda,

Thala Beach Lodge: About a 10-minute drive from the resort town of Port Douglas is this luxe eco-escape. Under a eucalyptus forest, private cabins are scattered up and down a cliff overlooking the ocean. Head downhill to the two-kilometre-long beach where you'll find hammocks in the pine trees and a quiet bar. Bungalows from $289.

Oak Beach, Port Douglas,

Wildlife tours

Kuku Yalanji Cultural Habitat Tours: If you're going to learn anything about this country, it's a good idea to understand how the non-Europeans see it. Bush walks with Brandon and Linc Walker are unlike any tour you've had before. A seafood lunch (foraged by you, cooked by your guide) is included. From $75. Cooya Beach,

Alan's Wildlife Tours: Who better to take your small group wildlife tour from than a man nicknamed "the possum whisperer"? In the Atherton Tablelands, naturalist Alan Gillanders offers a variety of animal experiences. If you're booking the nocturnal tour, hope for a drizzly night: You'll see more. From $80. Yungaburra,

Hartley's Crocodile Adventures: Natural rain-forest surroundings and too many crocodiles to count make this a must see. A croc-feeding boat tour is included with admission or book a private tour for $125 if you've got the chutzpah to feed the beasts yourself. Admission $35. Wangetti Beach, QLD,

Cairns Tropical Zoo: Queensland is one of two states left in Australia where you can hold a koala, and this is a good, animal-sensitive place to do it. Walk among the kangaroos and through the birds of prey aviary for an immersion-like experience. Pay $125 extra for the Zootastic experience and you can hand feed lemurs, cassowaries, crocs and cuddle a wombat. Admission $34. Cairns, QLD,

Daintree River Cruise Centre: Putter along the rain forest waterway with eagle-eyed guides who know just where the saltwater crocs are sunning themselves and get you in real close for a photo. From $25. Mossman/Daintree Road,

Quicksilver Cruises: Climb aboard a 450-passenger Wavepiercer catamaran for the 90-minute ride to the outer reef. Lunch is served on a two-level pontoon and snorkelling equipment is included along with an underwater viewing area and semi-submersible boat rides. Book a dive or snorkel tour to get beyond the rope boundary, but the marine biologists I snorkelled with gave the same reef spiel in the water as they'd delivered for free on the trip out. Helicopter Reef tours are an unforgettable way to see the UNESCO spot. Reef trips from $225; scenic chopper flights from $165.;

Catherine Dawson March

'Our shared madeleine'
On the eve of a new snooker championship named after Mordecai Richler, his son Daniel recalls the sights, sounds - and smells - of his father's beloved game
Saturday, April 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F5

In 1983, not long after our parents bought a cottage overlooking Lake Memphremagog in Quebec's Eastern Townships, the Richler family enjoyed a massive upgrade in the shape of one regulation-size, oak snooker table - in its own purpose-built room whose floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding doors situated our games on the edge of a hill in the woods, the actual woods, with the water lapping and gurgling and glittering brightly below.

You can see a corner of it on the jacket of On Snooker, Dad's last book published while he was alive, as he surveys the field of green baize before him, cue held upright like a rifle with its butt to the floor. Outdoors the sky is blue while over his shoulder, somewhat ominously, is the silhouette of a bird of prey. We stuck it there to prevent sparrows and marsh wrens from smashing into the glass, but it reminds me of the raven in Solomon Gursky Was Here, "the likes of which hadn't been seen over Lake Memphremagog since the record cold spell of 1851. A raven with flapping wings. A raven with an unquenchable itch to meddle and provoke things, to play tricks on the world and its creatures."

If Dad himself looks a little worse for wear - well, yes, in fact. Cancer would do him in the following year, in 2001. But he loved that room, as we all did. We spent many a boozy, farty evening in it. Among other bacchanals, it saw the annual Boxing Day Richler Cup - an event, Dad wrote in On Snooker, "not yet recognized by the snobs who run the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association."

Next week, another Richler Cup - a new one, semi-formal, less boisterous and organized by Snooker Canada - begins in Montreal. An annual event with prize money totalling $20,000, it is open to all-comers internationally. Already, players are arriving from India, Pakistan, the United States...

This is quite the leap from our little room, a place where Dad found solace and inspiration, and which for all my sibs and myself holds little but the fondest, most hilarious memories, and - in a manner that sports nuts who see existential dimensions in baseball will readily understand - the profoundest too.

As my sister Emma says, "You could tell the time of day by the sounds he made about the house." All his life he worked at home, in later years almost exclusively at the cottage, and at 10:30, taking his morning tea break, against a backdrop of swap sparrows, willow catchers and motorboats out on the lake, you'd hear him knock the balls around as he waited for the kettle to boil.

He'd never play an actual game before the day was done, so you knew not to interrupt him there. That room was equally for him a place to think and process "whenever," as he wrote in On Snooker, "I'm enduring a bummer of a morning at my typewriter," which is why in those years Mum almost never set foot in the place. She knew it was his space.

'He loved being with his boys'

It was Mum, though, who designed the snooker room and had it constructed for Dad's 52nd birthday.

"I pretended it was going to be a master bedroom, with all the windows and the glorious view, to keep it a surprise," she remembers. "He took very little interest in its construction until he discovered what it really was, but in the end it gave him more pleasure than any other gift I'd given him."

There were pews at either end, salvaged from a local church, which would seat you with your face exactly at arse height of the players as they bent over to shoot. There was a stone chisel on the wall that once belonged to Dad's dad, Moses Isaac Richler, the only legacy from a failed brickmaking venture in Montreal. There was a framed movie still of Ray Milland reaching for one more whisky in Lost Weekend; a 1960s-style Coca-Cola machine that reeked of the hash we used to stash in it as teenagers; a disgusting old brass spittoon; a painting of Daniel Mendoza, the first Jewish heavyweight boxing champion.

We kids moaned that playing at night required night-vision goggles. Tables in gentlemen's clubs often have a canopy lamp hanging overhead, replete with tassels or Tiffany glass, dropping a generous pool of light onto the felt. Dad likely thought them garish or pretentious or too much in some way, so we were reduced to six feeble pot lights in the ceiling, which illuminated the cigarette smoke hanging in the air all very cinematically but not the other end of the table, as it receded into darkness 12 feet away.

As a player, Dad was tough to read. To watch him lazily whacking, or half-heartedly scooping, or just jabbing at the ball, more like a gardener with a spade or a street sweeper with a broom, you'd take him for a rank amateur. His stance: what stance? His style: not for him Euclidean geometries, the deep screw, the cocked-hat, the stun-run-through/massé combo. He could barely be bothered bending over to rack 'em up, preferring us to do the work, the way he'd send us to the cobwebbed cellar for firewood on wintry nights, while he lay in front of the hockey.

But growing up as he did around the Main in Montreal, he honed his skills early - and then, at the Mount Royal Billiards Academy and the Rachel Pool Hall on St. Lawrence, while still in high school, graduated to hustler. The bottom line is, no one could best the man's ability to hook. His repertoire may not have been wide, but that guy could, and with a chuckle while he was at it, exile the cue ball to the remotest regions of the table, lose it in a thicket of coloured balls, leave it teetering on the precipice of a pocket or resting snugly, as if glued, against the bank. Every time, without fail.

"Just winning was not enough for him," says my brother Jake. "It was more about the way he won - he preferred that it was really miserable for you, the opponent. Part of that was really dragging it out. Another was making sure that you thought there was hope, when there was none.

"He'd say, 'All you have to do is snooker me once or twice and sink all the colours and you'll win!' I cannot recall how many times I led into the colours, and then he'd awaken and snooker me six times."

"He loved being with his boys," Mum recalls, "but he was fiercely competitive. He didn't care whether you were 4 years of age. The world was a competitive place and you weren't going to win just like that, that easily. If you won, then you deserved to win, because you had played very well and he had lost. Simple as that."

When we kids swore and threw things, so bitterly surprised yet again at our own incompetence, he'd stand there awaiting his go like his mind was half-elsewhere. Which it usually was (on something worth the sweat, like his new novel). His only real concern was that we might rip the felt.

Or he'd say, "Look! Through the window. There's a loon!"

And having distracted you, move the cue ball over for a better view of the black.

My sister Emma was like me, a stickler for the rules, a student of the arcana, the underlying Zen of it all, keeping faith that inner discipline and attention to the finest of details would one day bring victory.

"I'd do the technical too. Everything: the chin, the stance," she said to me. "But Dad was like Hurricane Higgins - his head bobbing up immediately after the whack. Then I'd carefully line up my shot and he'd be terrorizing me from behind going, 'Shoot! Shoot!' and I'd collapse in giggles and muck up the shot."

Another of the impediments to make a shot, we discovered, was putting away too much beer or, at that Boxing Day tournament, Mum's most excellent chili con carne. The continual bowing action exerts an accordion effect on the gut, resulting in epic flatulence and no little embarrassment.

Tempers may flare as well on this account, particularly in late December when people are reluctant to open the windows, all of which will distract you from your shot and forfeit the game a measure of its charm, and goes some way to explain why the annual 15-hour Richler Cup was a nearly all-male celebration.

Dad loved the ritual of it all, with a Macallan 18-Year-Old and a special cigar to go with it. Actually, more than anything, I think he loved Emma's send-up of the ritual, as in all that ruckus she'd don her white referee's gloves, give the cue ball a rub and intone with ludicrous sobriety, exactly as they do on the World Snooker circuit, "Gentlemen. Quiet, please."

Over the years the table became encrusted with little brass plaques we had engraved with the names of the winners, and Dad's was there on almost half of them. As for the times he lost the Richler Cup, well, Jake remembers his pal Steve trailing 15 or 16 points, with only the pink and black on the table.

"He threw his cue down and said, 'That's it,' and Dad said, 'No, no, all you have to do is snooker me once and pot the rest and you've won.' So Steve grudgingly picked up his cue again, snookered Dad as recommended, potted both remaining balls and won the tournament. Dad was very gentlemanly about it for a moment. But he was livid."

Generously, our Mum calls those Boxing Days her day "off," though she was the one who prepared the chili feast and all its accoutrements for 25 people, only escaping to her bedroom with a book by the late afternoon. Both my sisters tended to shy away too, especially as the party became boisterous and aggressive. Nonetheless, they also value memories of Dad at that table - but on a gentler note, from the days of the year when no one else was around.

"Among the sounds I miss the most," says my younger sister Marf, "are the gunfire bursts of him typing in his studio upstairs, with long silences between. But then the soft, rhythmic knock-and-roll, the lazy click-clack, and the satisfying ker-thump that emanated from his cherished snooker room."

Mum calls those sounds "our shared madeleine."

The new Richler Cup

So it was that a year and a half ago, I received a call from Patrick Guigui, president of Snooker Canada.

"I want to set up a tournament in your father's name," he said. "'The Richler Cup.' It'll be the biggest snooker prize in the country. And I'd like permission from the family."

"And you want money from us, I take it?"

"No, no," he said. "I read his book on snooker, and as soon as I was done I knew. He had the kind of passion that borders on obsession, the kind that can only be recognized by somebody who has the same vision. For me, it's a labour of love, not some gold rush."

It'll also be a semi-formal event - a wise move in my opinion, for Canucks are known, even in England where we're otherwise culturally invisible, to punch above their weight as boozing, brawling, coke-snorting stickmen; the Daily Mirror's recent "Top Ten Bad Boys of the Baize" included three, count 'em, three Canucks: Kirk Stevens, Bell Werbeniuk and Cliff Thorburn.

"No jeans, no sneakers," says Patrick, "and no noise for that matter. I know it's boring if everything is perfect and proper, but you put a bad boy in a tux and he transforms into an elegant player. For those few hours, at least, it keeps him out of trouble."

A big cash prize, then, with a bottle of The Macallan thrown in, and I'm thinking a Richler book or two wouldn't be a bad idea. Oh, and it occurs to me that Dad would also want Emma there with her white gloves, trying to keep a straight face and saying, "Gentlemen. Quiet, please."

Daniel Richler is a writer living and working in

London, England.

The Richler Cup begins April 24 in Montreal.

After a few trying seasons, Dwane Casey's team-first, defensive-first approach is paying off big time for the Toronto Raptors. The hard-working coach changed the team's culture and chemistry, and was rewarded with the most successful regular season in Raptors history, Rachel Brady reports
Saturday, April 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

Long before he became an NBA coach, Dwane Casey worked deep underground in a Kentucky coal mine, navigating the dark and cramped tunnels wearing a hard hat and headlamp, cleaning coal from the railway tracks so the cars could rumble through.

He was coming off his freshman season at the University of Kentucky in 1975, trying to make a few bucks in the summer.

"I met men down there who had never worked a day above ground; they spent a lifetime down in those coal mines, and many of them paid for it with their health," said Casey, during a wide-ranging interview about life and basketball. "They were always saying, 'Son, you don't want to work your whole life down here, so work hard in college.' It was quite a lesson for me."

Hard work has been a common theme woven through the life of 57-year-old Casey. He will enter the NBA playoffs on Saturday for the first time as a head coach, after turning a Toronto Raptors team that appeared to be rebuilding into Atlantic Division champions and the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. Their surprising season - which began badly on the court, touching off the inevitable talk-radio chat about canning Casey - has instead made him a legitimate contender for coach-of-the-year honours.

This is a squad, after all, without a gold-plated star in a star-driven league. But it boasts a team-first ethic that, following a transformative trade with Sacramento, helped Toronto roll to the best record in the franchise's two-decade history - and its first postseason appearance since 2008, facing the Brooklyn Nets. And the Raptors are clearly a reflection of their coach who, dapper and gentlemanly as he is, has never forgotten his modest roots and the sweat ethic that brought him success.

Young Casey was raised in the small farming town of Morganfield, Ky., by a grandfather who toiled as a janitor and dry cleaner and a grandmother who was a housemaid. Dwane took odd jobs, from coal mines to tobacco fields, and even as a driver for a former Kentucky governor.

"I remember going with my grandmother to the houses she cleaned when I was little, and I would have to stay down in the basement while she cleaned, and then we walked back home together," said Casey, whose parents moved to Indianapolis to find work while he remained with his grandparents. "It was a wholesome upbringing, I was brought up well. They were disciplinarians and preached education. We were poor and lived modestly, but we always had food on the table."

It was also a tumultuous racial era, and Casey moved from a segregated school to an integrated one, in a town harbouring the unsettling presence of the Ku Klux Klan. He bounced a basketball everywhere he went and worked on his game until dark each night, and his hoops prowess offered opportunity. The former Kentucky governor for whom he drove, Earle Clements, called the university president to suggest the basketball coach might be interested in this talented youngster. Vanderbilt, Indiana and Louisville recruited him, too, but Casey chose Kentucky, wanting to follow a childhood friend who had played there years earlier, one he sometimes watched play on television.

In so doing, Casey became just the fifth African-American to suit up for the Kentucky Wildcats, a team that, until the late 1960s, had been defiantly all-white. During his freshman year, the Wildcats won the National Invitational Tournament, which today is an event for teams who don't make the NCAA tournament, but was prestigious back then.

"We were young and scrappy, and we played really hard all the time," said Casey, a point guard. "Our team here in Toronto this year reminds me a lot of that team."

Casey worked for Kentucky basketball coach Joe B. Hall during some of his summers, something that wouldn't be allowed by today's NCAA rules but was permitted in the 1970s.

"I would work on coach Hall's tobacco farm, cutting tobacco, putting it on sticks, and hanging it in the barn," Casey said. "I had to find work. I knew I wasn't getting money from home."

The team won an NCAA title in 1978, with Casey as the captain and senior starting point guard, upsetting the favoured Duke Blue Devils in the final. That Kentucky team was experienced, smart and adaptable. Casey compared them to the 2011 Dallas Mavericks, a team for which he was an assistant coach and the defensive guru during a memorable championship campaign. During that postseason, his defences stifled the likes of stars such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant en route to the prize.

"With all the championship teams I was with, the mantra was always defence. We never talked about offence, never spent much time on it," said the 6-foot-2 coach, who speaks politely and analytically. "We spent most of our time on defensive fundamentals and shell drills almost every day. It became monotonous, but then in the games it felt easy. I've seen defence win championships and that really rubbed off on me."

Casey has kept countless notebooks full of coaching lessons learned from the many mentors he's had, from years as a graduate assistant under Hall at Kentucky, to Rick Carlisle in Dallas, and George Karl with the Seattle Supersonics. He also learned under legendary U.S. college and Olympic coach Pete Newell, when together they coached an inspired 1998 Japanese national team to its first appearance at a FIBA world championship in more than 30 years.

His first stint as an NBA head coach was short-lived with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Reflecting back on that now - three years into his second head coach's gig, in Toronto - he can see where he went wrong in Minnesota.

"We should have just stuck with my principles defensively and been who I was," Casey said. "I tried to listen to way too many voices in my first stint as a head coach. The second time around, I know what I want and how I want to do it. Defence wins in this league, so stick with it; never veer too far from that."

When he took over the Raptors in the 2011-12 season, he was inheriting the NBA's worst defence. He could see some talent on film, but knew good defensive principles weren't in place. Casey knew changing the focus from offensive to decidedly defensive would be a grind.

"We didn't have a LeBron or a Kobe or a [Michael] Jordan," he said, adjusting the Raptors cap he says he wears daily as a sign of consistency to his players. "Our guys were young and I knew it would take time and hard work to become a playoff team. We weren't going to out-run or out-score anybody. I knew it would take a couple of years and I wanted to find something that signified how hard and monotonous it would be for us."

The story is legend now: Casey asked that a 1,300-pound boulder be placed inside the locker-room entrance to teach them about the "Pound the Rock" motto, used by many teams. It's based on a piece of writing by Jacob Riis about New York's poor in the 1800s. It features a stonecutter, who hammers away at a rock 100 times without a crack. But on the 101st blow, it splits in two, not as a result of that one strike, but of all that came before it.

"The concept had a great point to it, and it was understood by us," said DeMar DeRozan, who has been a Raptor since 2009. "A lot has changed since then, and it's very evident. The whole culture has changed for the better ... It just takes the right chemistry, the right group of guys doing what it takes to win. You don't need superstars and this, that and the other - whatever people say you need. We're proof of that."

Casey's first two seasons in Toronto were tough. There was the NBA lockout-shortened season that ended with a 23-43 record and some disheartening lopsided losses. The Raptors spent roughly 80 per cent of their practice time on defence, mainly teaching fundamentals such as footwork, stance and rotations. In 2012-13, the team was 34-48 and general manager Bryan Colangelo lost his job. New GM Masai Ujiri took the post as Casey entered a contract year, with no talk from the team about renewing him.

Just over a month into their 2013-14 season, Casey walked into his team's locker room to a lot of concerned faces during a road trip to Los Angeles, just after Ujiri had a made a seven-player trade that shipped its biggest-name player, Rudy Gay, to the Sacramento Kings. Was the team being stripped down, or would the trade actually help? Casey himself didn't know. But he wasn't throwing in the towel.

"One thing players understand is consistency, and trading a player can really upset the apple cart, so I saw a lot of sad faces," Casey said. "The only thing we as coaches could do was keep developing players as we had been doing. Nobody knew which way we were going to go, but we sure didn't know we were going to become a playoff team. We got John Salmons and Chuck Hayes, who were veterans, and young Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson, who are basketball junkies, and they really wanted to fit in. We found that they all really wanted to please."

The Eastern Conference was uncharacteristically weak this season, and Casey's team capitalized. After the trade, the Raptors had the best success rate in the East. They improved on many fronts: an all-star season for DeRozan, a dramatic turnaround for point guard Kyle Lowry, and a coming out for Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas once opportunity knocked with the departure of Gay.

"I think they've finally got what Casey has been preaching all along," said Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel while in town recently to play the Raptors. "It's a matter of growing up and staying within a system and letting a coach put his imprint on a team, and having the system play out. You're seeing the rewards of that now."

Casey says he's a night owl, usually watching film until 3 a.m., as he knows there is still defensive tuning to do for the postseason and further steps needed to develop the Raptors into a perennial playoff team. He and wife Brenda have two small kids - six-year-old Justine and two-year-old Zachary. He calls them "the human alarm clocks" as they typically wake him by 7 a.m., and he cherishes the early morning time he spends with them.

"I'll never forget my daughter was three years old when we had the parade in the streets of Dallas," Casey said. "So when we first got here to Toronto, she said, 'Daddy, are we going to have a gold trophy parade here too?' and I said, 'Sweetie, that's going to take time, you don't just win that trophy every year.'"

As the playoffs begin, Casey has warned his young, inexperienced squad that "it's a totally different thing." He will draw on a lifetime of lessons in diligence as he navigates the postseason and, after that, the lingering question of his own future in Toronto.

"I look back and see what life could have been if I hadn't applied myself in basketball, and I'm really thankful for every experience I've had," Casey said. "There's not a moment I don't appreciate my life."

CEO relearns, rebuilds after brain injury
Jonathan Goodman, chief executive officer, Knight Therapeutics
Saturday, April 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B3

On Aug. 17, 2011, everything changed for Jonathan Goodman.

The aggressive, hard-driving executive - at the time the CEO of hugely successful drug distributor Paladin Labs Inc. - had just sealed one of Paladin's biggest acquisitions. Taking a celebratory bicycle ride with fellow employees in the hills north of Montreal, he fell off his bike and hit his head. Despite wearing a helmet, the result was a serious brain injury.

Mr. Goodman, now 46, was in a coma for five weeks, had septic shock, a pulmonary embolism, heart attacks, and he contracted C. difficile, a hospital based-infection. His family worried he would die. He was in hospital for four months, and the struggle back to health took many more months of hard work and strenuous physical therapy. He had double vision, and had to relearn how to walk and run.

Now, two-and-a-half years after the accident, Mr. Goodman is sitting across from me in a booth at Park Restaurant in Westmount, in the posh west end Montreal, deftly sampling his Bento box lunch special with chopsticks and exhibiting classic entrepreneurial enthusiasm for his latest venture. Since returning to work he has sold Paladin for $3-billion (netting him and his family $1-billion for their one-third share) and started a new drug distribution business called Knight Therapeutics. At first glance you'd never know he's been through a near life-ending trauma.

But there are a few adjustments. He's brought a sheaf of notes along to help with the occasional lapses in short-term memory. And he's got his wife, Dana Caplan-Goodman, at his side, ready to give him a nudge if he starts to talk a little too candidly about his business - something he says he tends to do because his accident causes him to speak without a "filter." Dana also fills me in on some of the details of the accident and its aftermath, since her husband of 10 years has no memory of it.

As we talk in the restaurant, which is a few blocks from their home and in the same building as the new Knight Therapeutics office, several people wave at the couple, or drop by the table to say hello. One man, who was on the bike ride with Mr. Goodman when the accident took place, tells him, "It is incredible to see you like this."

"When people say, 'Good to see you,' I answer, 'Good to be seen,'" Mr. Goodman tells me, turning back to our conversation.

He is happy to appear normal, but that is not entirely the reality.

"I am not 100 per cent. I will never be 100 per cent," he says.

"I have two things that kind of linger and will be around forever and I will have to live with. One is memory issues, especially short-term memory, and the second is fatigue. I am always tired. I kind of feel like I just pulled an all-nighter for an exam. I feel that the moment I wake up until I go to bed."

Although he can no longer ride a bike - his doctors tell him he could not withstand another head injury - he hits the gym almost every day to stay in shape.

He's adopted what he calls "compensatory strategies" to deal with the memory issues. "I take crazy notes. I have my BlackBerry on me at all times. I write things down. I have to create a system to follow up and make sure I deliver what I promise."

Still, he insists that his capacity to make business decisions is "perfectly intact and functioning at a high level ... I think, intellectually, I'm as smart as I was."

It is clear that what he calls his "type A plus" personality is fully intact. He is still competitive and massively self-confident, and he wants things his way.

Indeed, it was his need to run his own show that got him started in the drug distribution business in the first place. Mr. Goodman, who earned an MBA and a law degree after his undergraduate BA, realized that he wouldn't fit in as a manager at his father's company, a maker of generic pharmaceuticals. (That firm, Pharmascience, is still in business. His father Morris is now chairman and his brother David is CEO.)

Pharmascience had a small arm that sold specialty drugs, so Mr. Goodman decided to spin that off and run it himself.

"I couldn't work with my father and brother. I said, 'I am a control freak and so are you. It is a recipe for disaster.'"

The spinoff, Paladin Labs, was anything but a disaster. Founded in 1995 and publicly traded from the start, it began on an uninterrupted upward trajectory. By selling drugs it bought or licensed from other companies, it had no development risk.

The portfolio eventually included everything from birth control pills to allergy treatments to pain medications. Sales blossomed in Canada, and beyond, to Israel, South Africa, and Latin America.

Revenue rose for 19 consecutive years, and profits followed.

At the time of Mr. Goodman's accident, Paladin had sales of around $150-million, and a market capitalization of almost $1-billion. It had just bought Montreal drug firm Labopharm Inc., and was trying to take over Afexa Life Sciences Inc., the maker of Cold-FX. (It eventually lost a bidding war for Afexa to giant rival Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc.)

The day he addressed Labopharm employees as their new CEO, Mr. Goodman headed off for that fateful bike ride.

After he was rushed to hospital "it was just touch and go, trying to keep him alive," Ms. Caplan-Goodman tells me.

While in the coma "he looked so peaceful and so healthy and strong," she said, but it was terrifying to deal with, especially with three small children at home.

"I told them their dad had an accident and banged his head and is sleeping in the hospital. I didn't bring them to see him until he was able to talk ... I had to tell [Jonathan] what to say to them. He still couldn't function normally."

While he recovered, his colleague and Paladin co-founder Mark Beaudet held the reins at the company. In May, 2012, nine months after the accident, Mr. Goodman returned to the firm as chairman, but mainly focused on small deals and loans from the company coffers.

The transition was tough for someone who was used to being in charge. "I like to describe myself as a benevolent dictator, [but when] I came back it was a democracy, and it was hard to deal with," he says. "I put myself in my office and did deals, where I could do them by myself."

At that point, he decided to put the company up for sale. "When I came back I realized I couldn't run this business any more. And if I couldn't run it, I didn't want it. So I ran a process to sell it."

But by the time Credit Suisse, who he had hired to find a buyer, came back with some not-great offers, Mr. Goodman's cognition had improved and he decided not to sell after all.

Ironically, after making that about face, U.S. drug giant Endo Health Solutions Inc. showed up at his door and made him an offer he couldn't refuse.

Endo's $1.6-billion cash and share merger proposal last November was at "an amazing price," Mr. Goodman said, but it immediately got even better. Endo's shareholders were extraordinarily enthusiastic about the plans to shift the merged organization's registration to Ireland to save tax dollars, and the stock price leaped.

Because Paladin's shareholders were to be paid partly in Endo shares, their holdings also skyrocketed. Paladin's shares almost doubled in price by the time the deal closed at the end of February, surpassing $140. That valued the company at more than $3-billion.

But Mr. Goodman, who readily admits that he loves to work, was not going to sit around spending his new wealth. He had negotiated with Endo to spin off one Paladin product - a treatment for the tropical disease leishmaniasis - to form the basis for a new company, Knight Therapeutics, whose stock was distributed to Paladin's shareholders. While the rest of Paladin's staff stayed with Endo, he left to run Knight.

In just a few weeks of existence Knight has raised more than $250-million in private placements - a testament to Mr. Goodman's reputation for managing a growing drug company. While it now has loads of cash, and plans to acquire the rights to sell many more drugs, the firm has only one other employee, CFO Jeffrey Kadanoff, whom Mr. Goodman hired on day one.

Investors appear to think he can turn it into another Paladin: The stock has risen by more than 50 per cent since its first day of trading in early March.

The day of our lunch, Knight's offices were, like the company, in its formative stages. Drywall was unpainted, boxes and packaging materials were strewn about, and technicians were fiddling with phones and computer equipment.

Mr. Goodman acknowledges that he is trying to make a point with his aggressive little venture.

"I want to prove that the first brain-damaged CEO can thrive," he said. "That is why I am doing this interview ... I want to be inspirational. I want to be a source of inspiration for people who are facing challenges."

Mr. Beaudet, his long-time colleague, says that is exactly what Mr. Goodman is doing. "His life was taken away and he has progressively been taking it back," Mr. Beaudet said.

"What he has done is nothing short of heroic, and should be a source of hope for anybody who is facing a really difficult situation." The aggressive and energetic way Mr. Goodman approached his recovery and his new business venture "fits with the pattern of his entire life," he said.

As Mr. Goodman sums it up, "tenacity is something that has served me well."




Born in Montreal; 46 years old

Married to Dana; three children


BA from McGill University and the London School of Economics

law degree from McGill

MBA from McGill

Career highlights

Worked at Bain & Co. as a consultant

Joined Procter & Gamble in brand management

In mid-1990s became CEO of drug distributor Paladin Labs Inc., a spinoff from his father's generic drug maker Pharmascience

Sold Paladin for $3-billion in 2014 to Endo Health Solutions

Created startup Knight Therapeutics, whose shares were distributed to Paladin shareholders, in February, 2014

In his own words

"My working memory is solid. I can run iterations in my head. I may not remember the next day perfectly, the basis of my decision. But if I were given the same facts again, the computer will still come to the same decision. That part of the brain is perfectly intact and functioning at a high level."

"Most people with a severe traumatic brain injury lose their wives and best friends because of changes of personality. It haunts me that that could happen to me. And I understand why. I see it and I fight it."

"We know more about Mars than we do about the human brain."

"The pharmaceutical industry is the best industry to be in, because you make a great living and you make people better. I can't imagine a better vocation. It is so much better than selling widgets."

"I don't want to just take up room, to take up space. I want to make a difference. Making a difference in work and making a difference in society."

In 1990, Chris Johns arrived in Bangkok and was dazzled by its street food. Nearly 25 years later, he again travels to Thailand's capital - this time visiting some of its toniest restaurants as well as its back-alley stalls - to see if it still has the power to wow his taste buds. (Spoiler alert: It does)
Friday, April 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page 40

Monks in saffron robes crowd the railings of packed commuter boats. Tugs, tethered together like balloons, struggle to pull heavy convoys of barges upriver. Long-tailed speedboats, as brightly decorated as they are deafening, bounce over the wakes of teak riverboats that bob along seemingly without direction.

I'm on the Chao Phraya, Bangkok's River of Kings, motoring north in the Siam Hotel's elegant golden teak rice barge, past the elegant wats, iridescent temples and gilded palaces that have helped make Thailand's capital one of the most-visited cities in the world. This is my second journey to Bangkok, the first one having occurred more than two decades earlier. The gap of nearly 25 years between the trips makes it feel like a brand-new city, which in many ways it is.

These days, high-rises are popping up where humble fishermen's shacks once stood; boutique hotels are crowding out the backpacker hostels. Everywhere, luxury-apartment developments advertise themselves with evergreater levels of hyperbole: Billboards promote buildings promising "a new era of dynamism and prosperity" amid "a retail phenomenon for the world." Even those offers pale in comparison, however, to one developer's vow of nothing less than "nirvana beyond all perfectivity."

That's a high bar. But if such a thing can be found anywhere, it's probably here. I came close to achieving it when I arrived late at night after a gruelling series of flights and saw a liveried chauffeur with my name on a sign waiting to take me to the Peninsula Bangkok; I approached it again the next day at that hotel's plush spa, where I was lulled into a hypnagogic state by the judicious application of oils infused with calendula and ginger. Another night, across the river at the Shangri-La Hotel, it was the sinuous movements of Khon dancers in elaborate costumes and intricately carved masks that nearly got me there.

More than anything, though, it's the potent, tensile balance of hot, sweet, sour and salty flavours constituting Thai food that brings me closest to bliss. That was also the case 24 years ago. When I first arrived in Bangkok in 1990, I had never heard of, let alone tasted it. Every day brought new dishes and ingredients - rich curries redolent with aromatics, torrid soups that set off fits of hiccuping, relishes of profound, eye-watering funkiness - that expanded my understanding of food and flavour.

Most of my eating was done on the streets, where I would wander from stall to stall and, if something looked good, smelled tempting or just seemed especially popular, I'd try it. This method led to some incredible discoveries, but also the occasional calamitous dud. This time around, I wanted to beat the odds, so I enlisted the services of Daniel Fraser, a Canadian expatriate and the co-founder of Smiling Albino, a leading adventure-tour company. Fraser speaks fluent Thai and is something of a celebrity in his adopted country, where he hosts his own adventure-travel show and is the face of Thai tourism in a series of ads. As a bonus, he loves to eat.

"The food culture really started with the Chinese labourers who came to Bangkok about 100 years ago," Fraser explains. "They weren't allowed to own property and the law at the time decreed that anyone who didn't own their own land couldn't cook inside, so they put their woks in front of their houses and cooked there. One neighbour would say 'What are you cooking?' and the other neighbour would say 'I'm going to do fish' or 'I'm going to do vegetables' and that became Bangkok street food."

With this in mind, Fraser directs us toward Chinatown's Yaowarat Road, where the brightly lit signs are matched in intensity by the barrage of aromas emanating from innumerable vendors. The woody, robust smell of roasted chestnuts blends into the intense porkiness of kuay jap nam sai (a soup based on pork offal), which in turn gives way to the candied-ginger aroma of bua loy nam king, sticky-rice balls stuffed with sesame paste in ginger-tea broth.

We squeeze into a communal table among hundreds of other diners at Lek & Rut, a seafood restaurant seemingly located in the middle of a busy street. More than once the rearview mirrors from cars pulling out of the alley require Fraser to duck to avoid getting bumped. Undaunted, we tear apart giant smoky-sweet prawns and dip them in chili-spiked fish sauce, devour the tender stems of water mimosa and ladle bowl after bowl of sadistically spicy tom yum kung from a Sterno-fuelled hotpot. A downpour begins and the practised staff has tarps pulled over us before the crispy edges of my or lua (oyster omelette) have a chance to go soggy.

This is Thai food as I remember it, eaten on the street, where aesthetic concerns are strictly limited to what goes on the plastic plates. Delicious, but definitely no-frills. To get a taste of how the cuisine is expressed at the highest levels in Bangkok today, I booked a reservation at Nahm, widely considered one of the finest, most progressive Thai restaurants in the world.

It might seem blasphemous to have an Australian cooking Thai food in Bangkok, but David Thompson has silenced his critics by becoming the first chef to win a Michelin star for a Thai restaurant, by repeatedly placing on the World's 50 Best list and simply by cooking utterly delicious food that respects tradition while continually evolving the cuisine.

Inside the cool, quiet confines of the restaurant, dark, polished-marble floors support stacked columns and spotlights pinpoint delicate flower arrangements. A solicitous waiter in a crisp blue shirt and tie explains each dish in perfect English. "This is blue swimmer crab with peanuts and pickled garlic on rice cakes," he says, presenting a pair of tiny white pyramids that are equal parts fresh crunch and saline slickness with a bright, herbaceous acidity. Salted thread-fin perch with chili and green mango on betel leaves is ripe with the kind of funky, intense flavours (think blue cheese) almost entirely absent in Western versions of Thai food. A northern-Thai-inspired "jungle curry" plays the dark, meaty flavours of salted beef against the headiness of wild ginger, peppery Thai basil and astringent madan fruit. It's a meal as complex and beautiful as a mathematical equation.

Have I reached culinary nirvana? I have come pretty damn close. Have I achieved nirvana beyond all perfectivity? Not quite. Removed so completely from the street and served in such a polished, comfortable setting, the food seems almost too perfect, lacking something of the rough energy that propels Bangkok and its cuisine.

On my last night in the city, I meet up with Jason Friedman, general manager of the Siam, the new, ultrastylish riverside boutique hotel that combines elements of classical Thai architecture with a Jazz Age sensibility. Friedman is renowned in hospitality circles, having already opened the phenomenal Four Seasons Tented Camp in Chiang Mai, so I was only too happy to accept his invitation to visit some of his favourite spots.

Like me, Friedman first came to Bangkok in the 1990s, so it's fitting that our first stop is Khao San Road, the hub of backpacker culture for years. As we amble through it, the area seems much larger, busier and better lit than I remember it. "Khao San Road has gone upmarket," Friedman says, pouring me a beer from a tall pitcher with a frozen core in its centre. "There are nightclubs. There are fancy restaurants. It's a business now. Twenty years ago, it was a necessity [to come here]: There was no Internet, no cellphones. You got information from meeting other travellers and Khao San Road was where you met people."

"Upmarket" is a relative term for an area that, in Friedman's words, "looks like a Grateful Dead parking lot" on any given night of the week, but it does feel more touristy and less edgy. We make our way through the throngs, duck down a small alley and out onto a side street where a car and driver materialize to take us to dinner.

A short while later, we pull up to a bright streetside restaurant surrounded by European luxury sedans. This is Jae Fai, home to the legendary chef of the same name, a serious, laconic woman who has stood over these same woks, in a wool cap and heavy boots, turning out some of the city's most renowned street food, for more than 30 years.

No sooner are we seated - at a comfortable albeit plastic table - than a silver ice bucket with a cold bottle of wine sticking out of it is placed beside the table along with a set of tall-stemmed glasses. This is Friedman's doing and it's a stroke of brilliance. Drinking expensive sauvignon blanc at a streetside restaurant might seem incongruous - except that this is Jae Fai. "My mother shops every day for her ingredients," Jae Fai's daughter, who speaks fluent English, tells us. "The vendors know to give her only the best. If their product isn't good enough, they won't even show it to her. If it's good, they set it aside especially for her."

Consequently, it is only the fattest prawns and freshest calamari that she tosses, along with wide rice noodles, into her pad kee mao (drunken noodles). This is the dish that Jae Fai is most famous for: sticky, intense and imbued with that haunting, caramelized smokiness, known as wok hey, that happens when a great chef cooks with a well-seasoned wok over high heat. And it was show-stopping, although nothing could have prepared me for what came next. On an oval plate garnished only with a sprig of cilantro rested a golden crab omelette, crispier, rounder and more beautiful than any omelette has a right to be. Friedman encouraged me to crack it open and, when I did, great chunks of steaming crabmeat fell out. Then I took a bite, relishing the sweet, delicate shellfish, barely bound together by a crisp, gossamer coating of impossibly light egg.

I closed my eyes, breathed in deeply. The noise of the city had retreated. For a moment, I was there: nirvana beyond all perfectivity. Then I opened my eyes and went in for another bite.


Where to eat in Bangkok (and what to have)

Chinatown's YAOWARAT ROAD for high-quality street food (Lek & Rut, at the intersection of Yaowarat and Soi Texas, is especially recommended).

David Thompson's NAHM in the Metropolitan by COMO hotel ( for upscale Thai food including "jungle curry."

JAE FAI (327 Mahachai Road) for the drunken noodles and golden crab omelette.


Jae Fai's famous drunken noodles; Bangkok's skyline; Nahm's jungle curry, a dish containing salted beef, wild ginger, green peppercorns, Thai basil and madan, a small, sour fruit.

Minced prawn and chicken on pineapple at chef David Thompson's Nahm, the first Thai restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star.

The three-tiered pool at the Peninsula Bangkok, located on the bank of the Chao Phraya River.

A bellboy at the hotel.

The exacting streetside chef Jae Fai cooks only with the freshest seafood; a courtyard at the Siam hotel; rambutan (a lychee-like fruit) in scented syrup at Nahm.

An ambitious project to move police into dangerous neighbourhoods and rid them of drug dealers had the desired effect - at first. But violence has skyrocketed again and, as Stephanie Nolen writes, Rio de Janeiro is desperate to get things under control before the World Cup begins in June
Saturday, April 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A8

RIO DE JANEIRO -- When the doors were thrown open on four shiny new police stations sprinkled across the hilltops of the giant Rio favela called Complexo de Alemao back in 2011, the moment was "a symbol of liberation of the city from the Nazis," in the words of one prominent observer. Elite soldiers crashed through the tiny alleyways and drove out the heavily armed drug dealers who had ruled the favela for decades.

Residents were promised safety, new services, new hope, all to be delivered from the "pacification" centres on the hilltops. Rio was three years into a bold new experiment in urban security, and taking back Alemao was its biggest prize.

Today the prize is looking decidedly battered. Six officers from the new police force have been killed since November, one of them shot at her desk in the station when it was besieged by the supposedly vanquished drug dealers. Six civilians have also died in the fighting. There are near-daily gun battles in the favela; two police were wounded Thursday. Terrified of losing control of Alemao just two months before the World Cup of soccer, the state of Rio de Janeiro has sent the elite unit of the military police back in to reinforce the regular police officers, and to train them in counterinsurgency.

The government has also sent the army into the city's other largest favela bloc, Complexo de Mare, desperate to push back on the drug gangs before a flood of tourists arrives. And so Rio's evening news is full of images of children playing football in the alleys as tanks and armoured personnel carriers rumble past; the newspapers publish daily death counts from the favelas.

"It's a deep crisis," said Ignacio Cano, a leading researcher on Rio's pacification project and the man who made the Nazi liberation observation. "We're losing the opportunity to make real change."

Launched in 2008, pacificação was a bold attempt to tackle Rio's staggering public-security problem. A fifth of the city's population was living under the control of drug dealers - not in remote or isolated suburbs, but in the favelas that carpet the hills in the middle of the city and are nestled all through it. Rio's homicide rates were among the highest in the world. The favelas were no-go zones for the police, and for most other branches of the state, creating bizarre pockets of isolation and lawlessness that sometimes spilled over into the rest of the postcard metropolis. The crime organizations, meanwhile, which are administered by Brazil's powerful prison gangs, had built up heavily armed bastions where they made money not only on drugs but also by controlling access to services such as electricity, effectively holding their residents hostage.

With the World Cup on the horizon, and a bid in to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, the city decided to embark on a new strategy. First, troops went in to chase out the dealers (after first warning them and giving them the chance to flee on their own). Then came specially trained police, who instead of their usual model of crashing into favelas on bloody raids and then decamping, would move in and stay. These police were mostly new recruits, without any history with the drug dealers, with training in community policing, more limited weaponry and instructions that armed engagement was to be a last resort rather than a standard operating procedure. Instead of having an incentive policy for the number of targets killed (as police working the favelas in the 1990s did), they were now rewarded for lowering the number of people they killed in the course of doing their jobs.

These police were to establish the presence of the state, give residents new confidence and end the invisible borders that set the favelas apart from the city that surrounded them. Hot on their heels came services - garbage collection, and pop-up primary health clinics in shipping containers, and technicians to put in electrical wires and Internet cables. There were limits on what they could do quickly (favela geography makes it fiendishly difficult to install sanitation services, for example) but plenty of scope for them to win over residents and close up the space for lawlessness.

That was the theory. And early on, it seemed to be working. An oceanfront favela called Vidigal now has art galleries, boutique hotels for tourists and sky-rocketing real estate prices. Rocinha, a community of 170,000 people that soars behind the beachfront of Ipanema, became a showpiece, with health clinics, libraries, public transit and streetscapes where children could play with no fear of stray bullets. There are now 36 pacification units, across some 250 favelas, with an estimated half a million inhabitants.

Alemao was the biggest target: The complex of 15 different favelas is home to roughly 100,000 people, jammed into two square kilometres near the heart of the city. It was the headquarters of the Comando Vermelho, the Red Command, the largest of the three main drug gangs. In hindsight, it seems clear that it never fully came under police control - and it is possible to see in the crisis in Alemao much of what has gone wrong with pacification.

When her neighbourhood was pacified, Maria de Fatima Casa Novas recalls, she started going to the market and browsing the fruit for sale, rather than dashing in and out as quickly as she could, as she had done all her life; she and her teenaged daughter signed up for dance classes at the new community centre. But they never learned to dance - because the social programs fizzled out not long after the television cameras moved on, she said. The new pool was drained and all lessons cancelled. "In the beginning it was excellent - on the first day the garbage collector and the streetlight installation people come. But four years later, they've forgotten us."

The scale of the need seems to have overwhelmed the city government, and the holes in its planning seem obvious in hindsight. "There are no jobs, nothing for the people who come out of prison," said Lucia Cabral, who heads a human rights organization in Alemao. The dealers never left, just went a bit underground or down the road, she said - and as the pacification has expanded, and shrunk their space to operate, they are increasingly aggressive.

Prof. Cano, who heads the innovative Laboratório de Análise da Violência at the State University of Rio de Janeiro, says it is not accurate to call pacification a failure: Lethal violence fell substantially in the pacified favelas since it began, he said; the state reclaimed huge swaths of the city. (Reports of other crime went up, but that largely reflects a new confidence in reporting, he said.)

"But in the last seven months several communities started to go back - you can see in the number of police that have been killed, the number of people who have been killed. There were always incidents like this here and there, but not like this. It shows that the change was never deeply rooted. Ninety-five per cent of everything that's happened is not sustainable; if the police leave tomorrow, in three weeks you'd have the same thing back."

Rio has failed to engender real change in its police force. The officers still consider shooting drug dealers "real" police work, he explained, unlike talking to children in the street. They maintain an aggressive stop-and-search policy for men in Alemao, years after they arrived. "They still have the mindset, 'We have to defeat the enemy, we have to torture people,'" Prof. Cano said.

Disappearances have increased sharply in the pacified favelas. One case, in particular, soured many favela residents on pacification: A bricklayer and father of six named Amarildo de Souza disappeared from Rocinha last July, and 25 police officers now stand charged with his murder, after he died in "interrogation" for his supposed knowledge of drug trading. Now frequent gun battles are once again taking place in Rocinha, as public hostility to the police allows the dealers to move back in.

Both police and drug traders need to reconceive the business, Prof. Cano added. "You're never going to have enough police to occupy everything, so you have to induce change on the other side. We need drug dealing to be carried out as it is in Toronto or Denmark: You hide from the police or you pay them off, whatever; [a buyer calls] you, you deliver, you don't have guns, you don't occupy territory, you don't control the population, which is probably a lot more profitable than what the [dealers here now] do."

But police have been trying to conquer instead of encourage that shift. Meanwhile, there is no state response targeted at the militias - made up mostly of corrupt ex-police who push out the dealers and take over the business - that run some favelas.

More than 800 Rio favelas are still beyond state control; the city has nowhere near the staff or financial resources to tackle them. But Rio's top security official, José Mariano Beltrame, insists the program is on track. "We have a few problems in a couple of areas, which are the most populated, with more than 100,000 residents," he told reporters last month. "We are far from ideal, but the occupied communities are much better than they were before."

With only weeks to go before the World Cup, all levels of government in Rio have been in an obvious panic about the violence. Two weeks ago they decided to move on the other huge favela complex, called Mare, which sprawls for kilometres along the road to the main Rio airport. It was frighteningly easy to imagine a tourist taking a wrong turn and ending up in the middle of this: Mare is home to 150,000 people and until a few days ago, its streets were patrolled by gangs of young men in board shorts and flipflops, their bare chests slung with automatic weapons longer than their torsos - the foot soldiers of the drug lords. Crack cocaine and other drugs were sold from plastic tables in the streets. Now those streets are patrolled by tanks and caveirao, a sort of giant armoured personnel carrier. The social service squads have yet to make an appearance.

"For so many years we were desperate - people really supported the project. They still do because they think it will be better," Ms. Casa Novas said.

"Pacification would have been perfect if they'd done what they said. But you can't take back a community with tanks."

Artist illustrated the truths of Inuit life
Using coloured pencils, graphite and paper, the former carpenter was determined to buck an orthodoxy imbued with myth
Saturday, April 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S12

Itee Pootoogook was a man of few words. He was hard of hearing but never bothered to replace the expired batteries in his hearing aids. And he was so quiet that, as one friend observes, "It was damned near impossible to get him to talk." Even when he did, he kept his words to a minimum: "I like yellow;" "See you at 1;" "Not really."

Yet for all this laconism, Mr. Pootoogook never lacked for expression, blessed as he was with an artistic talent louder and more eloquent, finally, than any soft-spoken words. It was a talent, honed by habits strictly observed, that in the past five years saw Mr. Pootoogook's name referenced in sentences that also included the names Christopher Pratt and Alex Colville, Milton Avery and David Thauberger.

Drawing with coloured pencils and graphite on pieces of paper big and small, this former carpenter and construction worker earned both a living and a measure of fame. Indeed, many felt even greater work and more recognition - public, critical, monetary - lay ahead. On March 18, however, that cocktail of anticipation and expectation was dashed when the cancers (neck, sinus, throat, lung) plaguing Mr. Pootoogook for the past three years claimed him at 63 in an Iqaluit hospital.

Though he was born in Lake Harbour, NWT (now Kimmirut, Nunavut), on Feb. 7, 1951, Mr. Pootoogook was a Cape Dorset man. His father, Paulassie, a carver, moved the family to that community on the southern tip of Baffin Island when Itee was six or seven.

In 1959, shortly after the family's arrival, the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative founded the famed Kinngait Studios, a print-making centre that has nurtured hundreds of Inuit artists, including such legends as Kananginak Pootoogook, Itee Pootoogook's uncle, and his cousin Annie Pootoogook.

When Mr. Pootoogook was alive, you could pretty much set your watch by his schedule. At 8:50 a.m., he'd leave the small house where he lived alone to make the 10-minute downhill trudge to the drawing and lithography studios.

Removing his coat, Mr. Pootoogook would take a seat at his work table and begin to arrange his tools - pencil crayons from the Derwent factory in England, sheets of textured paper, graphite pencils, photographs. Then he would get to work, drawing with great intensity and focus, always stopping to take his coffee breaks and lunch at precisely the same times, until day's end at 5.

If his drawing was still in progress, the studio manager would give him a chit for $100. Once it was finished or near completion (a drawing could take five days, sometimes more depending on its difficulty and size - a 2012 drawing, Working on his Canoe, is an impressive 130 centimetres by 86 centimetres), Mr. Pootoogook would negotiate for his final payment (usually $2,000 to $3,000, minus the total advance chits).

Whatever the amount, Mr. Pootoogook would almost invariably do two things before walking home: send a money order to his estranged wife living in Ottawa (with whom he had two sons and a daughter) and buy a bag of groceries.

Other artists might have buckled under this regime, which he adhered to five days a week, month after month, but Mr. Pootoogook seemed to thrive on the self-imposed discipline.

His renderings - of architecture, panoramic landscapes, Arctic activities, the human figure - became progressively more refined, the compositions more ambitious, with dramatic croppings, interior framing devices and unusual perspectives, often "radiating," in the words of curator Ingo Hessel, "timeless calm and contentment."

Notes William Ritchie, manager of Kinngait Studios since 2009, currently a primary drawing buyer and long-time champion of Mr. Pootoogook: "In the last five years in particular, he really ratcheted up his game."

Mr. Ritchie first met Mr. Pootoogook in 1988 when he arrived at Cape Dorset from Newfoundland to serve as an art adviser at the co-op. True to the artistic background of his family, Mr. Pootoogook had tried his hand at carving in the 1970s and in 1973 even provided a stop-frame sequence of his colour snapshots as part of Animation from Cape Dorset, a National Film Board project.

By the end of the decade, however, Mr. Pootoogook had largely forsaken art to concentrate on carpentry. Then, in 1985, facing what he called "no work, no job, no nothing," he returned to making art, this time drawings.

It wasn't a particularly happy time. Then, just as in the successful years just before his death, Mr. Pootoogook was keen to depict Inuit life as it was, a world as much about power tools, rifles and Ski-Doos as walrus meat, harpoons and igloos.

Moreover, he was keen to use photographs - his own initially, then later others' (most notably those taken by fellow artist Tim Pitsiulak) - as source material. Photo-based art is, of course, a staple of Western modernity: Edgar Degas, Gerhard Richter, Francis Bacon, Mary Pratt, Robert Longo and Chuck Close - they've all done it.

But it was frowned upon at the then-authenticity-conscious Kinngait Studios, as was Mr. Pootoogook's passion for rendering the here and now. Best to follow the footsteps of the legendary Kenojuak Ashevak, he was told, and her myth-inflected presentations of birds, fish, whales and foxes. That was what collectors in Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto and New York wanted.

"Itee didn't care about any of that," Mr. Ritchie says. "He just did his own thing." Occasionally a drawing would strike a buyer's fancy "so he'd get $15, or $20 and live on that" but mostly "he had a rough time." Wanting to sharpen his skills, he enrolled in the drawing and print-making program at Nunavut Arctic College in 2000 to 2001.

Mr. Pootoogook wasn't alone in his determination to buck orthodoxy: Another Cape Dorseter, Peter Pitseolak (born 1902), had traced from his own photographs; Pudlo Pudlat (born 1916) put cars, buses, steamers, helicopters and planes in several drawings; Mr. Pootoogook's aunt Napachie Pootoogook (born 1938) did a series of drawings of Inuit life "in the raw" in the mid-1990s.

But it took the example of his cousin Annie, with her groundbreaking 2006 solo show of drawings at Canada's leading contemporary art gallery, The Power Plant, in Toronto, and a first-place, $50,000 finish that year at the Sobey Art Awards, to truly let loose the winds of contemporaneity.

For veteran Toronto-based Inuit art dealer Pat Feheley, "the message" Annie Pootoogook's portrayals of "abuse issues, drug issues, alcohol issues" sent to southern Canadian art lovers wary (and weary) of walrus soapstone carvings "was, 'Wow, there really is contemporary art in the North.'

Even more important was the message that went back to the drawing studio in Cape Dorset: namely, 'You can draw what you want and it will still sell and the co-op will bless you for it, as it were, and not try to stop it.'"

Even at that, it took a while for Mr. Pootoogook to make his mark. His first appearance in the famous Cape Dorset print collection only happened in spring, 2008, with the release of a lithograph, Pratt-like in its meticulousness and the frontality of its presentation, of a pair of kamiks (Inuit boots), titled Looking South. Ms. Feheley first exhibited his work along with other Inuit artists at the 2007 Toronto International Art Fair, followed by other group showcases that steadily built his appeal.

A solo exhibition at Feheley Fine Arts in November, 2010, prompted what she called "a serious feeding frenzy." Of 50 drawings hung, 49 were sold by the end of opening day. "People were literally begging to get in to see his work." Another smaller solo show in Vancouver the next year, organized by Robert Kardosh, director/curator of the Marion Scott Gallery, proved similarly successful, prompting follow-up solo excursions in 2012 and 2013.

From there, Mr. Pootoogook seemed to move from strength to strength, triumph to triumph: three works in the acclaimed Inuit Modern exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 2011; a dual show with Newfoundland's Tim Zuck at the MacLaren Art Centre in Barrie in 2012; a solo exhibition, the first for an Inuit artist, at Vancouver's Contemporary Art Gallery in 2013; inclusion that same year in Sakahàn, the National Gallery of Canada's acclaimed exhibition of international indigenous art; entry into the permanent collections of the AGO, the NGC, Bank of Montreal and Toronto Dominion Bank.

And all the while the art "just got better and better and better," Mr. Kardosh says. Back in Cape Dorset, Mr. Ritchie would throw new challenges at Mr. Pootoogook: Let's go large format! How about working on a long, skinny piece of paper? Want to use blue paper? Black? Green?

"In the old days, a lot of people in Dorset thought of art as welfare: Do a drawing; get paid," Mr. Ritchie observes. Luckily, Mr. Pootoogook came of age when Ms. Ashevak and Kananginak Pootoogook were deemed to be artists, "really big people in the local community" with clout in southern art circles. As a result, "he took it seriously. He really liked to push himself, to force himself, to try to get really involved in the images. Look at his work, it shows."

Curator Candice Hopkins, one of the organizers of last year's Sakahàn exhibition, says what "immediately struck" her about her initial encounter with Mr. Pootoogook's drawings "was their stillness, as though paradoxically, through the studied and meticulous process of pencil-drawing, he had managed to capture an instant. What Itee introduces to the rich history of Inuit art is something of the truth of photography, of the documentary image, and what it reveals of Northern life now."

"What really gets me," a sombre Mr. Ritchie says, "is how just in the last few years of Itee's life, after being ignored, he knew he was on to something. These lifelong skills were finally paying off and now they were being taken away from him."

Much of what those skills produced, though, seems likely to endure. This summer the AGO is hosting an Alex Colville retrospective and, to illustrate Mr. Colville's continuing resonance, the show's curator, Andrew Hunter, intends to pair selected Colville works with those of other artists. An as-yet unselected Itee Pootoogook drawing will be part of the exercise.

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The man behind the minister
One of eight children from a blue-collar suburb of Montreal, Jim Flaherty went on to become the finance minister who steered Canada's economy through one of its most turbulent times in decades, Craig Offman writes
Friday, April 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A6

Right from birth, the odds were stacked against Jim Flaherty's success.

The sixth of eight children in a family of Liberal supporters. A hockey player measuring in at 5-foot-3. A kid from a blue-collar suburb navigating the leafy, gentlemanly climes of Princeton University. A twice-defeated candidate for leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives. Hands on the country's purse strings just as all the money was vanishing.

Yet in the end, Canada's flinty, wise-cracking former finance minister - who had little aptitude in high school for calculus or chemistry - was honoured in a way that few other Canadian politicians ever will be. After he resigned as finance minister in March, his face was on Manhattan's NASDAQ billboard, looming omnisciently over Times Square.

A bootstraps philosopher credited with restoring a balanced budget and helping to raise Canada's image as a sterling example of fiscal stewardship during a crisis, Mr. Flaherty also wasn't above telling others to put their own houses in order - whether it was dressing down European countries or even his own province - for their fiscal profligacy.

In a CTV interview last year, he mused that his feistiness may have come from his family's pirate roots in Ireland, where his family name is inscribed on the city gates of Galway in Gaelic. "Dear God, protect us from the wrath of the O'Flahertys," he recalled it saying. "I thought, you know, it's not bad training for finance minister."

As quick to joke about himself as he was to mock others, Mr. Flaherty was hardly a one-dimensional, one-note ideologue. He could be personable but caustic, socially conservative but sometimes liberal. "Jim was a firebrand when it came to articulating conservative values and conservative principles," said Ontario Progressive Conservative Frank Klees. But Mr. Klees pointed out that he went head to head with many socially conservative colleagues, persuading them to adopt legislation to provide same-sex couples with pension benefits.

As a boy growing up in the working-class town of Lachine in Montreal's west end, young Jim earned his first keep doing what most self-starting, self-disciplined kids do: he delivered newspapers. Small for a hockey player, he scrapped it out in the rinks in the winter and sailed on Lac St. Louis in the warmer months. "If we wanted extras like new skates, we were expected to work for them," he told the Hamilton Spectator in 2002.

The sturdy domestic management of his mother, Mary, must have made an impact on him. "She was certainly in control of the situation. She had to be. I mean, she had eight kids running around and limited resources."

Following the lead of his overachieving brother David, then teaching at prestigious Princeton University, Mr. Flaherty went to the Ivy League school on a hockey scholarship. It was there that he heard Robert Kennedy speak about the importance of public service.

In the summer of 1968, at the age of 18, he returned from New Jersey and had a political awakening of sorts, knocking on doors for the Trudeau campaign. The next summer, he told The Globe and Mail's Tara Perkins, he had his best job ever: waterfront director at a camp in rural Quebec. "I didn't realize until I got there that it was an all-girls camp with all girls as staff and I was the only guy."

The zigzagging adventures of his early days soon hardened into the serious narrative of conservatism. He graduated from Toronto's Osgoode Hall Law School, was married briefly, and was a Bay Street lawyer while growing increasingly disheartened with Mr. Trudeau's laissez-faire attitude toward spending. "It was really irresponsible," he recalled, "these deficits and debts and the inflation that followed."

Remarried to Christine Elliott, the couple had triplet boys, John, Galen and Quinn, in 1991. After practising law for decades, he helped found his own firm in 1994 and a year later entered provincial politics as an MPP for Whitby-Ajax in Mike Harris's Common Sense Tory landslide. Mr. Flaherty quickly aligned himself with the family values caucus of social conservatism. After winning re-election in 1999, he became attorney-general, a legal pulpit he seemed to relish, introducing a crackdown on so-called squeegee kids on Toronto's streets. There didn't seem to be a wedge issue this pro-life politician didn't like.

Mr. Flaherty ran to succeed Mr. Harris in the 2002 Tory leadership race, but lost to Ernie Eves, whom he had labelled a "pale pink imitation" of then Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty. (One of his supporters showed up at a leadership debate dressed in a Pink Panther costume.) The campaign was also noted for its hospitality suites, replete with Irish whisky and Irish dancers. But it could also be remembered for its pledges to sell off the Liquor Control Board, make homelessness illegal, and ban teacher strikes.

After another failed run for leadership in 2004, Mr. Flaherty heard the siren call of Ottawa in 2005. While his wife took his seat in the legislature, he was elected in 2006 and became Finance Minister in Stephen Harper's new minority government, juggling an economy that was taking a turn for the ominous and massive controversy over taxing income trusts. On the brighter side, his collection of 70-plus green ties, often given as gifts, took on a semi-legendary status. "It's more frugal to wear ties that are given to you," he told CTV's Don Martin.

Mr. Flaherty also favoured the MPs' gym, where he said he had many achievements that went beyond the Sisyphean victories on the elliptical machine. The bipartisan spirit of a workout led to deals with then party leaders Gilles Duceppe of the Bloc Québécois, Jack Layton of the NDP. "How serious can people be when people walk around in shorts and T-shirts?" he said.

As Mr. Flaherty and the Conservatives successfully reinvigorated in the late part of the last decade with the help of Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney (Mr. Flaherty's recommendation), his stewardship won accolades. In 2009, EUROMoney Magazine named him Finance Minister of the Year, saying he "enhanced his country's reputation for sound fiscal policy that takes full account of social justice, while a strong regulatory regime has kept the financial sector out of the chaos."

He spent time with his wife and three sons in Whitby, which helped ground him. One of his triplet boys, John, has encephalitis, a swelling of the brain that happened when he was an infant bitten by a mosquito. "If there is one thing you can count on in Jim Flaherty's calendar [it was] his annual baseball trip with John," recalls Regan Watts, a former senior aide to Mr. Flaherty at Finance and a close family friend. Mr. Flaherty and his son would travel to a different U.S. city for two or three days to watch their beloved Blue Jays.

Early last year, Mr. Flaherty announced he had an acute autoimmune skin disease called bullous pemphigoid and less than a month ago, the 64-year-old said he was stepping down to go into the private sector and that health was not a factor.

"It breaks your heart," said Mr. Watts. "They gave their father over to public service, willingly or not, for nearly 20 years and they just got him back."

Four years ago, Mr. Flaherty wrote a column about John called "What Heaven Looks Like," for the Canadian Association of Community Living. "Being John's father has changed my perception of what really matters in life," Mr. Flaherty wrote. "The months during his second year of life when John was grievously ill and near death in the hospital were the most desperate time, but a time that I always recall when faced with some crisis or another - all comparisons fail when compared to the desperation of that time. John gave us context about what really matters."

In the same letter, in which he described a jaunt on a submersible at the Great Barrier Reef, he remembered a crystalline vision: "Looking out the window at the sun's rays shimmering through the turquoise water on the colourful fish and plants, when John said simply and eloquently, 'That's what heaven looks like.' So now I know."

With files from Karen Howlett and Jane Taber


It was a touchy subject: What was wrong with Jim Flaherty? His face had grown bloated and puffy and he'd gained a lot of weight. He didn't sound like himself, either. In a television interview in Davos, Switzerland, in late January, 2013, the then-finance minister appeared red-faced and sleepy, and his voice sounded distorted.

Mr. Flaherty had wanted to keep his health condition private, but as questions and rumours persisted, he decided to speak out. In an interview with The Globe and Mail's Steven Chase on Jan. 30, 2013, Mr. Flaherty opened up about his battle with a rare, blistering skin disease, bullous pemphigoid. Here is a portion of what Mr. Flaherty told The Globe.

This will be a different interview. I will just start. I don't usually talk about my health because it is private. But there's been quite a bit of concern about what I look like these days: appearance concerns. And that is related to my health. And so I want to make that clear: what's going on there. It's related to medication. It's not life-threatening. And it doesn't affect my ability to do my job.

Of late, I've been getting too many questions about my appearance and the weight gain - and people [are] concerned. Most people are quite cautious about what they say, but a few people have said to me: 'Do you have cancer? Steroids? What's going on? Are you going to die?' That kind of thing. And obviously, I am not. I mean, I will die eventually, but not over a dermatological issue.

I am a pretty tough guy. I'm an old hockey player. This will pass and it's much better now than it was before, so I have more confidence now that this will pass. I don't have any problem doing my budget work, which I have been doing, including all the month of January. I would still like to stay until the budget is balanced.

Mr. No comes to Canada The U.S. billionaire and anti-Keystone activist Tom Steyer made a quick trip to Alberta this week and left a simple message for Canadians: Your country's economy can survive without the oil patch. He has a point, says Doug Saunders
Saturday, April 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F4

What was Tom Steyer doing in Alberta this week? The San Francisco hedge-fund billionaire is mainly known to Canadians as Mr. No - America's largest single political donor, he has spent a good part of his fortune opposing the Canadian petroleum industry on ecological grounds and leading the effort to stop the Keystone XL pipeline from being built. By making his first trip north of the border with a circle of Canadian environmentalists and publicists in tow, was he quietly announcing that he intends to extend his activism north of the border?

At first, when I spoke to the 56-year-old in Vancouver on Tuesday before he departed for Alberta, he was careful to say, over and over, that he has no interest in influencing Canadian political affairs the way he has in the United States, where he is spending $100-million this year, half of it from his personal fortune, to help pro-green candidates in November's congressional and state elections.

"Canadian politics are suitably left to Canadian citizens," he said.

But, it turns out, he very much does have a message for Canadians, and it is clearly political, if not in the partisan sense. Mr. Steyer does not want to be seen as one of the "foreign radicals" Prime Minister Stephen Harper's ministers once claimed were meddling in Canada's environmental movement. But given that his NextGen Climate Action political committee, one of the largest so-called SuperPACs in the United States, is devoted to portraying Alberta's oil-sands petroleum as the greatest climate threat his country faces, he can't avoid trying to influence Canadians in the political sphere.

"This is a global problem that calls for a global solution," he says. "So one of the things I do hope I can learn about, and I hope happens, is that there is co-operation between Canada and the United States the way there has been in the past, where together we have managed to solve the hole-in-the-ozone problem and acid rain."

He believes, strongly, that even the oil industry now recognizes that the climate debate is settled, that Canada has no need for an oil industry, that alternative-energy sources can be even bigger employers than petroleum, and that the market economy can make that transition happen - and he'd like Canadians to recognize this, and act accordingly.

A big part of this, it turns out, is to convince Canadians that there is life beyond petroleum - that, beyond the big "no" of stopping Keystone and reducing oil-sands production levels, there is also a big "yes" of profitable post-oil enterprise.

The notion that the economy depends on petroleum revenues and jobs, he says, is a myth he's hoping to shatter by backing clean-energy industries - including, he says, a Canadian project to extend the Ontario hydroelectric grid more efficiently into the northern United States.

"It isn't Keystone or nothing," he says. "It's Keystone or a different, cleaner energy future. That message is one that hasn't got through nearly enough, and it's played into this false dichotomy that either we're going to have a strong economy or we're going to have a healthy environment. And that is a false choice that people try to use to scare citizens and voters."

Here he has a point: Canada's economy is far less dependent on petroleum than is often portrayed by the Prime Minister and oil-patch investors. Oil and gas make up only 8 per cent of the economy (and 40 per cent of it is not from Alberta's oil sands); our future does not depend on oil extraction. The drama of Keystone, however bold the headlines, is not really playing on centre stage. Mr. Steyer would like to persuade Canadians that they could get by just fine without Athabasca crude.

"I don't know how it works in Canada," he says, "but what we've seen in the United States is that there are a hell of a lot more clean-energy jobs than there are fossil-fuel jobs."

There is, to be sure, more than a little political naiveté in all this: As welcome as Mr. Steyer's voice may be in Canadian environmental circles, it might not help their cause to have a wealthy Californian liberal suggesting that the people of Alberta ought to be happy to do away with their main source of sustenance. By conforming to their foreign-radical stereotype, Mr. Steyer could prove to be a gift to Mr. Harper's Conservatives.

As well, he has no idea if Keystone will be approved or not - despite the hundreds of millions he has devoted to Barack Obama's Democratic Party.

He is hopeful, based on statements the President has made on climate and energy policy, including a major speech he devoted to the subject in Georgetown last year, that the decision will go against the pipeline.

"I don't have any information," Mr. Steyer says. "I will say that, according to the criteria that he laid out in his Georgetown speech, he said that if 'it leads to significantly increased carbon-dioxide emissions, I will not permit it.' And we believe strongly that it does. So if that's the case, we're taking him at his word."

Not everyone in the environmental movement is so confident. In January, the State Department released its final environmental-impact assessment, which concluded that while oil-sands petroleum is significantly more carbon-emitting than other fuel sources and poses a major climate threat, the quantity of emissions would not increase if the pipeline were built (because the oil would get to market through other means).

That report was hailed by Keystone supporters as a victory, because it seemed to invalidate Mr. Obama's pledge that he wouldn't approve the pipeline if it increased carbon emissions.

Mr. Steyer believes the report is simply wrong.

"I don't accept the State Department report. I thought that report was deeply flawed in a number of respects, and I don't accept their conclusion. So it is hard for me to use that as a baseline for analysis, honestly."

In his view, the Keystone pipeline will put a lot more oil-sands petroleum exhaust into the atmosphere. Alberta oil, he believes, would cost significantly more to bring to market by rail or via less direct pipeline routes, enough so that, at $75 a barrel (the projected oil price over the next few years), it wouldn't be competitive.

In other words, contrary to the reassurances offered by other factors, he believes that scuppering Keystone is worth the effort because it would effectively sink the entire Alberta oil economy.

So cutting off access to markets by stopping pipeline construction remains his key strategy - as well as trying to persuade people that alternative energy can be just as big an employer and revenue source as oil.

Keystone or not, Mr. Steyer believes that he is winning. He points to recent announcements to shareholders by Exxon and Shell that they expect their businesses to be affected by climate change.

"Both those huge, worldwide energy companies within the last two weeks came out and said the science is basically settled on this, that we need responsible policies to reduce the risk. I don't know what planet you live on where you start saying Shell and Exxon are left-wing communists."

Add to that a series of large-scale studies released this month that confirm the scientific consensus on the link between carbon emissions and climate change - by the United Nations, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - and Mr. Steyer says the "climate debate" has ceased to be a debate at all.

"I think it's a charade that this is a two-sided argument. You know, the dog is not barking. There is no other side. We are not hearing factual, learned responses to these studies - we are hearing deafening silence. "

He rages at the accusation, made recently by conservatives in the United States, that he is backing clean energy simply because he stands, as an investor in the industry, to profit from it.

"Who in their right mind leaves a job at a hedge fund in order to make money? Why would I leave a full-time job where I'm getting lavishly compensated, in order to go work for free - in fact to spend a bunch of money - and how does that make me money? "

His investments in clean technology, he says, are made by his foundation, so their profits will go to non-profit and charitable causes and conflicts of interest can be avoided.

Mr. Steyer does believe, however, that the quest for profits is the only path out of fossil-fuel dependence.

"We want to make darn sure that clean tech is profitable . Because if it isn't profitable, we're not going to get the kind of investments we need over the coming decades to make sure that it actually happens."

It is his enthusiasm for hard-nosed capitalism that makes Tom Steyer such a difficult opponent for conservatives. He helped to create the Sustainable Accounting Standards Board, which provides market information on the ecological costs of business to ensure that these costs are incorporated into share prices and corporate decisions - one of several ways he hopes to use market forces to replace fossil-fuel energy with alternatives.

"I'm not an anti-capitalist," he says. "I happen to believe the private sector is going to be the engine of this transformation. I went to Stanford business school; I was a business person and an investor for over 30 years."

That said, he still believes the best way to cut emissions is through an act of government - the blocking of Keystone. Which is likely the other big purpose of his Alberta tour: to find the evidence he and his allies need in their bid to talk the President out of backing Keystone.

"I came up to Canada to learn a bunch of things," he says. "But I have a big mouth. I expect to communicate what I've learned to people. I think it's relevant."

Doug Saunders is The Globe's

international affairs columnist.

Add a few more dollars to your house hunt budget
Our Spring survey finds a heated market has pushed prices up, but rising inventory may cool things off
Friday, April 18, 2014 – Print Edition, Page G1

A housing market tilted heavily in favour of sellers pushed Toronto real estate prices up sharply in the opening months of 2014, but, so far in April, buyers appear to be gaining clout, says John Pasalis, president of Realosophy Realty Inc.

The spring survey of home values, tallied exclusively for Globe Real Estate by Realosophy, shows that prices jumped about 10 per cent in the Toronto area in the first quarter compared with the same period in 2013. Among the hottest neighbourhoods for price appreciation are Allenby, the Danforth, Danforth Mosaic, Christie Pits and Regal Heights.

The coolest are the condo-packed areas such as the Entertainment District, Cityplace, Fort York, the Financial District and the Distillery District.

In coming up with the rankings, Mr. Pasalis looked at such factors as the number of days the average property stayed on the market, the percentage above asking or below asking that the seller received, and the percentage of properties that sold above the list price in a given area.

Mr. Pasalis points out that, sometimes, a wild swing in values in a particular area can result from a shift in the mix of housing types that happened to sell during the period. In an area such as the Annex, for example, where the average price dropped 24 per cent, last year's number could have had a boost from the sale of one multimillion dollar mansion. Conversely, a condo building could have recently come on-stream, which would pull down the average if this year a rush of units sold for less than neighbouring houses.

The most intense competition still tends to take place in the range between $500,000 and $800,000, but segments above that price are also busy.

For example, drilling into the numbers for Allenby, where prices rose 11 per cent year-over-year, Mr. Pasalis finds that 83 per cent of the properties received multiple offers and the average property was on the market only five days. He adds that the gain is noteworthy because prices in the area are already fairly lofty: The average price came in at $1,158,667. The neighbourhood is popular with families who are willing to pay a premium for a detached house close to Allenby Junior Public School.

Mr. Pasalis says Allenby represents a lot of neighbourhoods where properties commonly change hands at prices north of $1-million and where homeowners have seen significant appreciation. "This isn't just the affordable ones," he says of the areas seeing values swell.

In the neighbourhood stretching out from Danforth and Coxwell avenues known as Danforth Mosaic, the average selling price was a relatively reasonable $629,490. Ninety per cent of properties received multiple offers and typically sold for 112 per cent of the asking price in nine days.

Mr. Pasalis says the area is popular because it's more affordable than many of the others along the Bloor-Danforth subway line. "It's still relatively manageable for a dual-income family," he says of the average price.

The neighbourhoods considered coolest in the rankings of price appreciation tend to be those where buyers have lots of choice. If they can't negotiate a deal on one condo unit, they know plenty of others are available in the same building or surrounding area.

In the Financial and Distillery districts, for example, virtually no properties sold for more than the asking price. In Cityplace, Fort York and the Entertainment District, about 2 per cent did. The average days on market ranges from 26 in the Financial District to 39 in the Entertainment District. The units in these areas typically sell for 96 to 98 per cent of the asking price.

Since the survey was completed, signs are pointing to a slightly calmer April market. It's been a while since we've heard about a house with 28 or 30 offers. Mr. Pasalis says houses that would have received 10 to 15 offers back in February are now receiving five to seven offers.

"A month ago, 20 buyers would line up to compete for the one nice house taking offers on any given night. Today, there are two to three nice houses taking offers on the same night, which means we are seeing five to seven offers for each house rather than 20 offers on one house."

Mr. Pasalis points out that, while sales rose 4 per cent in March from the same month last year, they are well below levels reached in 2011 and 2012.

Last week, he represented a seller who received four offers on a condo townhouse in Brockton Village. Mr. Pasalis did not set an offer date so one buyer stepped up on the first day the unit arrived on the market and made an offer good for 24 hours. The following day, three more buyers saw the unit between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. - then rushed to have their bids on the table by 8 p.m. Despite the last-minute flurry, the first bidders secured the deal by increasing their original offer to a small amount above the asking price.

Since March break, the action has cooled a bit as new listings have gradually trickled onto the market and approximately 18,000 buyers who bought in the first three months of the year have left the melee, Mr. Pasalis says. "It was just ridiculous," he says of the heated activity and eye-popping amounts above asking that were registered in January, February and the first half of March.

New listings, meanwhile, edged up 1 per cent in March compared with March, 2013. For the year to date, listings have shrunk 5 per cent from a year earlier.

When Mr. Pasalis takes a deeper look at the numbers, he finds that new listings for semi-detached houses declined 11 per cent in the first three months of the year compared with the same period last year. So many of the properties that generated skirmishes involving 25 or more bidders and sold for 10 to 20 per cent above the asking price were semi-detached, he points out.

He adds that, in many cases, the listing agent stirred up a bidding frenzy by listing the property at an eye-catching low price. Many agents and potential buyers are worn out by the commotion created when a house is listed with an asking price of $599,000 instead of closer to the $725,000 that it's likely to fetch in the current market, he adds. "It's a really bad practice."

Meanwhile, he has seen a couple of houses that didn't sell at all on the designated night for receiving offers. A couple of weeks later, they are back on the market at a higher asking price. What likely happened, he says, is that the sellers received a bunch of offers close to the asking price but that price was never realistic. "Despite the fact that they had six offers at $599,000, the sellers really wanted $725,000."

Mr. Pasalis says such a scenario wastes the emotional energy of all the bidders and alienates everyone who was interested in the property.

It's hard to forecast what the volume of listings will be like in the second half of the spring market he adds, but he thinks many house hunters and agents will be relieved if a more stable market emerges. "Nobody likes it when it's completely insane. It's not a fun experience for most buyers."

John Pasalis gives his buying tips:



Home buying in Toronto this spring has been a story of bidding wars, bully offers and over-asking bids as house hunters confront a sellers' market. "Overall, the market has appreciated roughly 10 per cent from the first quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of 2014," says Realosophy Realty president John Pasalis, but he adds that a degree of calm should soon return to the market. "We saw significant competition for homes in Toronto during the first three months of 2014. That has slowly tapered off because of an increase in the number of new listings and because 18,000 successful home buyers exited the market."


Avg. Price: $1,031,860

Avg. % of asking:104%

Avg. days on market: 7

% of houses selling for more than list price: 80%


Avg. Price: $717,833

Avg. % of asking: 109%

Avg. days on market: 4

% of houses selling for more than list price: 83%


Avg. Price: $1,158,667

Avg. % of asking: 107%

Avg. days on market: 5

% of houses selling for more than list price: 83%


Avg. Price: $823,373

Avg. % of asking: 110%

Avg. days on market: 8

% of houses selling for more than list price: 88%


Avg. Price: $629,490

Avg. % of asking: 112%

Avg. days on market: 9

% of houses selling for more than list price: 90%


Avg. price: $388,029

Avg. % of asking: 98%

Avg. days on market: 32

% of houses selling for more than list price: 2%


Avg. Price: $383,229

Avg. % of asking: 97%

Avg. days on market: 37

% of houses selling for more than list price: 2%


Avg. Price: $510,394

Avg. % of asking: 97%

Avg. days on market: 39

% of houses selling for more than list price: 2%


Avg. Price: $256,222

Avg. % of asking: 96%

Avg. days on market: 26

% of houses selling for more than list price: 0%


Avg. Price: $486,879

Avg. % of asking: 98%

Avg. days on market: 26

% of houses selling for more than list price: 0%



Nature lover was larger than life
Zoologist known for his physique trapped bears without using tranquilizers, and wrestled professionally in what would become WWE
Special to The Globe and Mail
Thursday, April 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S7

For Al Oeming, a zoologist who had live-trapped grizzlies before the advent of bear tranquilizer, bottle-feeding a grizzly on his Alberta Game Farm was business as usual, until it wasn't.

One day in the mid-1970s, as Big Dan - four years old and 272 kilograms - guzzled his breakfast of milk, nutrients and maple syrup from an oversized baby bottle in Mr. Oeming's hands, an elk broke out of its pen and leaped into the grizzly compound. Panicking, Big Dan knocked Mr. Oeming over and then sank his canines into his handler's back near two lower lumbar vertebrae and lifted him off the ground. If it hadn't been for Mr. Oeming's muscular physique, which he had maintained since leaving professional wrestling, the damage probably would have been much worse. "He was incapacitated for weeks," remembers Jim Poole, a keeper on the game farm. "Then he was right back at it. He was one of the toughest guys I'd ever met."

Injuries were rare on the farm, located 35 kilometres east of Edmonton, and never deterred Mr. Oeming from his mission to educate and inspire future conservationists. His work often took him on the road, travelling across Canada with pet cheetah Tawana to speak at schools and amphitheatres. He also became a TV personality and documentary filmmaker. At its peak, his game farm housed more than 3,000 animals and 166 species.

"Every time you turned around, it was a new adventure," recalls his eldest son, Todd. "If you weren't catching big-horn sheep to trim their feet, you were tranquilizing a Siberian tiger to clean out the pus in its mouth."

The adventures ended in the late 1990s as the public's attitudes toward animal captivity soured. Mr. Oeming sold all but a few horses and chickens to zoos, but he never left. On March 17, he died from surgical complications, just weeks before his 89th birthday.

The middle child of German immigrants Albert and Elspeth, Albert Frederick Hans Oeming was born in Edmonton on April 9, 1925. Smart, ambitious and macho, young Al learned to speak fluent German and read Latin, but loved nothing more than wrestling his neighbour Stu Hart, the godfather of Canadian pro wrestling, who was like a big brother to him.

The two remained best friends until Mr. Hart died in 2003. Their machismo grew while they served together in the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War, bench-pressing each other and fellow seamen. Mr. Oeming was a gunner on HMCS Stadacona in the South Pacific. He didn't see much action, but in 1946, along with his discharge papers, he brought home two 20-kilogram artillery weights he had purloined, and connected them to a pulley and headpiece to work out his neck. This exercise contraption, along with a blood-stained wrestling mat from his youth, never left the basement of Mr. Oeming's home on the game farm.

After the war, the 21-year-old and Mr. Hart rented an apartment together in Harlem, N.Y., fighting in the National Wrestling Alliance under "Toots" Mondt, co-promoter of what would become the WWE. He wrestled up and down the eastern seaboard as the Nature Boy.

His father, a chef with Canadian National Railway, instilled a love of wildlife in young Al, but it wasn't until the 1950s, when he and Mr. Hart bought the Alberta rights to the wrestling league, that he could fund his passion. The "Boy Promoter," as the local papers referred to him, put together matches, starring Gorgeous George, Strangler Lewis and other greats of that era, while he majored in ornithology at the University of Alberta. After completing his master's of zoology and becoming the Edmonton Zoological Society's inaugural president, he sold his half of the wrestling venture to Mr. Hart and built the Alberta Game Farm with the proceeds.

Mr. Oeming already had a pet cheetah and some other animals, but over time the game farm became an Albertan Noah's Ark: muskox, otter, sika deer, tame wolverines, gazelles, camels, all three species of zebra, two white rhinos, two elephants stomping the grounds in knitted booties, silverback gorillas that enjoyed KFC every Friday, and red pandas traded by Communist China at a time when few Westerners could penetrate the Bamboo Curtain.

Some animals enjoyed extra privileges, such as Tonga the lynx, often found purring on Mr. Oeming's living room sofa, or Bearable Ted, a black bear sent to Mr. Hart's wrestling events to tackle men in the ring.

May (née Dennistoun), who married Mr. Oeming in 1950, and her sons Todd and Eric were just as fearless with the animals. "There was no union or hierarchy. If there was a job to do, we all pitched in to get it done like farmers," Todd Oeming says.

The 3,200 creatures were maintained by 20 to 30 keepers, many of whom lived on the farm. At its peak, Alberta Game Farm was believed to be the world's largest private animal collection, drawing thousands of visitors each weekend. The game farm also had breeding and research programs for rare wild animals.

Mr. Oeming's PhD research into the links between two grizzly species was never completed, but years later the University of Alberta gave him an honorary doctorate.

At a time when urban zoos crammed animals into small enclosures, Mr. Oeming took great pride in his facility's open spaces and large compounds. His facility was ahead of its time. The guidebooks read: "To the people the world over who love and appreciate animals as much as I do."

Decades earlier, as the Edmonton Zoological Society's president, he had lobbied the city for a more humane zoo that resembled the species' natural habitats.

Mr. Oeming's love of animals also led him to become a fixture on Canadian screens with his documentaries In the Land of the Black Bear, Wild Splendor, National Geographic special Journey to the High Arctic and the 1980 CBC miniseries Al Oeming: Man of the North. He toured North America and New Zealand for film screenings and to advocate for wildlife. Tawana, his beloved cheetah, was almost always by his side. Tawana was there when Mr. Oeming appeared on The Tonight Show, and he was there when Tawana starred in Disney's Cheetah.

The constant touring was taxing, however. Moody and irascible, Mr. Oeming would return home and make rounds from pen to pen, noting every keeper's error, and then notoriously mass fire the blunderers. When he would return to the road, Ms. Oeming would hire them all back.

Those who understood him loved being in his presence. Keith Hart, Stu's son, recalls the breadth of Canadian history he would relay like a storybook. For others, though, Mr. Oeming was a tough taskmaster. He was frugal about everything but his passion, which took a toll on his marriage. He and his first wife separated after he spent a large sum on a polar bear compound.

Without her, "the glue that held it together," according to Todd Oeming, the spirit of the game farm declined. Mr. Oeming sold the exotic animals, keeping only the cold-climate creatures and in 1982 rebranded the facility Polar Park.

By the 1990s, Polar Park had lost its lustre as animal-rights groups increasingly targeted zoos. Mr. Oeming came under scrutiny of Alberta's Fish and Wildlife department for allegedly selling a Japanese deer to an unauthorized buyer. The charges were dropped, but pressure from animal activists weighed on him heavily. The naturalist, who had once berated Edmonton city council for running an inhumane zoo, now ran a facility that had drawn criticism from another generation of activists. Polar Park closed in 1998.

The dismantling was hard on him. But by then he was well into his 70s and ready to retire. He became an auctioneer of horse carriages and accessories, and ran his new business on the former game farm.

Mr. Oeming never left the property. Active and sharp as ever, he tended the 900-acre farm with his bulldozer - clearing trails around the empty, rusted gorilla cages, paint-chipped bear compound and the faded, torn Polar Park welcome sign - until his last days in March.

He leaves his sons Todd and Eric Oeming from his marriage to his late first wife, and children Lorelei von Heymann and Thelon Oeming from his marriage to former second wife Gina Mrklas. Grandchildren Bethany May Oeming and Robert Oeming won't soon forget his candour and character, but baby Minka von Heymann will have to learn about him the way so many Canadians did, through the films, literature and legends he left behind.

"He's bigger than life," says Todd Oeming, who has been planning for several years to redevelop the farm into an eco-resort and wildlife sanctuary called Wild Splendor. Though Mr. Oeming didn't live to see the project completed, he requested his ashes be sprinkled in the forest bog on his land so that his remains will enter the root systems and live in the tree canopy forever.

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Send us a memory of someone we have recently profiled on the Obituaries page. Please include I Remember in the subject field.

Liquid gold: making the world's most exclusive maple syrup
Special to The Globe and Mail
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1

When you first arrive at Gereli Farm in Shefford, in Quebec's Eastern Townships, you catch a whiff of something you can't quite put a name on. It's faint at first, and seems to be emanating from a chimney attached to a truss-roofed structure at the end of a dirt road. As you follow its path between a cluster of farmhouses and a corral of cattle, you suddenly find yourself enveloped by the sweet aroma of maple. During a few hectic weeks each spring, it is here, in this sugar shack, where Richard Semmelhaack produces what is arguably the most exclusive maple syrup in the world: Remonte-Pente.

Chefs have exclusive access to the first round of sales - and it's been sold out since December. Some chefs reserve the following year's supply immediately upon receiving their order. The syrup has gilded dishes in such high-end restaurants as Daniel, Del Posto and Betony in New York, and Quince in San Francisco.

What makes Remonte-Pente so covetable?

"True dedication, hard work and attention to detail shines through, be it in olive oil, wine or maple syrup," says Bryce Shuman, Betony's executive chef. "Remonte-Pente is rich, it has great flavour and it's perfect for whenever you need to top something off." (He drizzles Remonte-Pente atop amaranth with espresso yogurt, caramelized banana, spices and maple ice cream.)

Remonte-Pente is the result of a close collaboration between Semmelhaack and Société-Orignal, a Montreal-based distributor. Co-founders Alex Cruz and Cyril Gonzales work with farmers to develop products that are meant to underscore high-quality and esoteric Quebec foods. Remonte-Pente, for instance, isn't your typical pancake topping: A richly dark caramel colour, it's thicker and has a higher sugar concentration. By focusing on elements of maple syrup that are usually overlooked, Société-Orignal is not only building a profitable business, but is changing how people think about one of the world's most remarkable natural food products.

So far, the formula seems to be working. Société-Orignal launched in 2011 with three products. It now sells 25 to 40 each season, including apple vinegar aged in estate barrels and raw honey made with nectar from wild linden trees. Société-Orignal's ability to deliver such idiosyncratic ingredients has afforded it a cult-like following among chefs. Two months ago, it opened an office in New York and another in Sept-Îles, Que.

"We believe in the honesty of farming and thus take a very hands-on approach. For us, it's really important to build a one-on-one relationship that's intimate," said Cruz. Both he and Gonzales have been up to Gereli Farm numerous times to help package the syrup. Calling their relationship "brotherly," Semmelhaack appreciates not having to worry about labelling and marketing his syrup. He can focus on what matters for him: producing it in the time-honoured way.

Quebec produces 94 per cent of Canada's maple syrup and 77 per cent of the world's supply, making it the focal point of a $400-million global market. At the centre of this virtual monopoly is the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers. A consortium of more than 7,300 producers, the federation establishes price caps, production levels and manages global marketing initiatives. In return, members receive guaranteed revenues for their maple syrup.

Since 1966, when the federation was first established, the market has shifted from small, independent producers to a one-size-fits-all commodity. Instead of being distinguished by sugar content, taste and texture, syrups from across the province are blended together, stored in metal tanks and sold according to colour. This strips them of their individuality and makes it impossible to define maple syrup by region.

Although a handful of small producers like Semmelhaack have refused to join the federation, they are nonetheless bound by its rules. They cannot, for example, sell maple syrup in containers more than five kilograms.

"Nowadays maple syrup is sold like petrol. Consumers have been taught that the paler it is, the better it is. The industry is focused on selling quantity, not quality. I don't care if my petrol comes from Saudi Arabia or Alberta, but I do care where my maple syrup comes from," said Cruz. "Maple syrup should be an expression of its location. Sap that comes out of a 100-year-old tree in the Eastern Townships doesn't taste the same as a 40-year-old Mauricie tree."

Cruz notes that, at 200 acres and with only 3,000 maple trees on site, Gereli Farm is considered "smaller than small" in the world of syrup production. Semmelhaack sells Remonte-Pente directly to Société-Orignal and prefers to work with the terroir rather than against it. This means using organic farming practices and letting Mother Nature do most of the work.

Maple syrup producers typically use vast systems of vacuums to suck the sap out of the trees. Semmelhaack uses buckets. A small team of farmhands head out into the woods - often accompanied by Sunny, Semmelhaack's massive Bernese mountain dog - to collect the sap and bring it to the large vats on the upper level of his sugar shack, conveniently located at the edge of the tree line. The sap is then fed through pipes into an evaporator mounted over a wood-burning furnace. Most modern evaporators burn oil and use reverse osmosis to remove water from the sap, but Semmelhaack believes that this eliminates flavour compounds unique to the site of origin. Instead, he fuels the fire with dead wood he gathers year round. It's a slow, labour-intensive process during which Semmelhaack does not move from the fire's side.

"If you take all the apples off the same tree and give some of them to me and some to Jamie Oliver, well, you're not going to get the same pie at the end simply because you used the same ingredients. In that sense, reverse osmosis might be more cost-effective, but it cooks the sap far too quickly to really bring out its true flavour," he said.

Unlike homogeneous groves of maple trees planted specifically for the production of syrup, the maple trees on his property grow alongside jack pines, balsam firs, birch and mountain ash. According to Semmelhaack, leaves from the different tree variants lower the pH of the soil and heighten its minerality. This makes Remonte-Pente less acidic than most syrups and gives it pronounced notes of caramel, vanilla and brown butter. It also has a distinct peaty flavour thanks to the firewood.

Its most defining feature, however, is the elevated sugar concentration. The industry standard for maple syrup is 66 degrees brix; Remonte-Pente is boiled until it reaches a sugar level of 70 degrees brix. To obtain this mark, 56 litres of sap are needed to produce one litre of syrup (the normal ratio is 40:1). Consequently, a tiny amount of the sweet stuff is produced each season - usually no more than 350 to 500 litres. The last step of the process is a series of blind tastings to select the best lots. Only then is Remonte-Pente bottled and shipped.

"We boil daily and isolate daily flavours. Then we sample the lots and try to showcase the ones that pick our brain. Our goal is to share atypical notes and promote a diversity of flavours," explained Cruz.

Considering the attention to detail, it's easy to see why chefs are clamouring to get their hands on it. "It's quite fun to compare it with more commercially focused syrups," said John Horne, the executive chef at Canoe in Toronto. "The latter have a very maple-forward taste, whereas with Remonte-Pente, it finishes with the maple flavour. It's a completely different experience."

Limited quantities priced at $35 for 500 ml should be available on the Société-Orignal website ( later this month.



"This dish is something I crave especially during maple season, since it goes amazingly with Remonte-Pente maple syrup and a little fresh butter," says John Horne, executive chef at Canoe. This recipe has been passed down through his family.

1 cup pastry flour

4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 cup cornmeal

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 tsp vanilla

10 tbsp melted butter

7/8 cup milk

Mix all dry ingredients together. Drizzle in the melted butter until incorporated. Add milk, vanilla and eggs and mix well.

Pour the mixture into an eight-by-eight inch pan that has been greased. Cook in a 400 F oven for approximately 20 to 25 minutes until golden on top. Cool slightly and serve.

What a city can learn from its global population
Photographer Colin Boyd Shafer set out to capture one Torontonian who emigrated here from every country in the world. More than 170 portraits later, he's almost done. The Globe talks to five subjects from countries that have recently been in the spotlight
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, April 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page M4

The exact number of countries in the world varies depending on whom you ask - the UN has 193 members, while the United States State Department pegs it around 196 - but for his purposes, photographer Colin Boyd Shafer has narrowed it down to 190. And he just finished capturing numbers 173 and 174: Mozambique and Burundi.

For his project Cosmopolis Toronto, Mr. Shafer is endeavouring to photograph a portrait of one immigrant living in the City of Toronto from every country in the world. The effort has provided insight from some of the city's smaller and less-vocal immigrant communities. And those Torontonians born in countries that are currently in the headlines can offer a unique perspective that other Canadians might not understand, such as Ukraine's complex relationship with Russia or the hidden corruption in Brazil's government. Cosmopolis highlights the city's diversity, but also what all Torontonians can learn from our global population.

"I've travelled to maybe 40 countries. I've done tons of travelling and I've honestly learned more about the world through this project than I have through all my travels," Mr. Shafer said.

Mr. Shafer raised money for the ambitious project through crowdsourcing funds on Indiegogo and had a curated selection of portraits displayed at the Toronto Centre for the Arts earlier this year.

Mr. Shafer photographs each person in a space in the city where they feel most at home and takes a separate shot of them holding something that reminds them of their homeland. He also conducts an interview and provides an accompanying synopsis of their story. He has about 15 portraits to go, posting three new stories every three days on his website.

It's been challenging to find subjects from smaller countries, in particular island countries such as Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Palau, but Mr. Shafer believes he can find someone in Toronto from every country, and doesn't want to leave any country unrepresented when he's done. He even extended his own deadline to May 15; if a country isn't represented by the time he has his final exhibition shortly after that, he wants to be sure there's a very good explanation.

"If there's a country that's not included, I want to at least be able to say 'here's why,'" he explained, noting his team of volunteers has been instrumental in tracking down subjects.

The Globe talked to five participants - from countries that have had a particular spotlight in the news in recent months - to get a closer look at their perspective on issues in their homeland and what Toronto means to them.



Born in Dhaka, her family had moved all over the world due to her father's job as an engineer. They were living in Toronto and when a new job opportunity opened up for him, it looked like Ms. Alam would have to pack her bags again. She was happy when it turned out they were staying.

"I remember hugging one of my friends - still she's one of my closest friends to date. I remember hugging and crying on her shoulder, and the next day I found out we're actually staying in Canada. That's when I knew that Toronto was going to be home for a long time. The friends that I have, they don't have to be temporary any more. I could continue my friendships with them and that was such a good feeling.

"I have a really deep sense of connectedness to Bangladesh because there's a very fine line, a little flip of the switch, that decided my fate for being outside of the country. I feel connected to that part of the world because it's part of who I am.

"There's a lot of political turmoil [in Bangladesh]. There's a lot of poverty. There's a lot of concern over what will happen with global warming. [But] at the end of the day, it's how the media chooses to frame certain things versus what the people there are trying to achieve. I feel like there are stories of resilience. Any place that there's deep sorrow, there's also the opposite of that: elements of happiness and love that you see in the littlest of things."


Ms. Bukhman was born in Kiev, but grew up in Toronto. After graduating university, Ms. Bukhman travelled the world, but says Toronto has always been the only place that ever felt like home.

"Everywhere else I'm a foreigner. At this point, when I go back to Ukraine, I'm kind of a foreigner, too. I don't really belong there any more, but here I definitely belong because everybody's a bit of a foreigner here. ... It's lovely to get all those different perspectives all in one place. Everyone is so friendly about it, too. There's no animosity in the air about where you come from or what your background is.

"I think a lot of the time the perspective [on what's happening at home] that is represented is very black-and-white, but it isn't like that. Obviously there are many shades of grey. There tends to be this Cold War leftover feeling of this huge dichotomy between the east versus the west. I think in Western media, the east, predominantly Russia, tends to be vilified.

"[But] there are so many people [in Ukraine] that have ties that are beyond what happened in the 1930s. ... There are a lot of people whose families are half-Russian and half-Ukrainian, who don't really know what to call themselves. They're kind of in-between."


Born in Qamishli, 31-year-old Mr. Touma is studying to become a Catholic priest. It's a calling that he believes is linked to his home in Toronto.

"It was like I found myself and where I belong, in the same city where I was hanging out. [At the St. Conrad friary, where Mr. Touma lives], we are international people who came from all countries. There are very different cultures living in one house, different mentalities and different behaviours. This is a blessing to have brothers from different countries that you live with in one house, especially when cooking!

"[With the Cosmopolis project] there was a bit of a feeling of 'wow, I'm representing all of Syria.' As if whatever is happening there is on me.

"[With the civil war,] it is tough, especially seeing my mother and father here in Canada worrying about it. We are so attentive, listening to where the next bomb will be dropped. Some of the images [in the media], I don't even bother to read myself because I know they are fabricated. I know where it's coming from and who's saying it."


Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Mr. Lopes moved to Canada in 2010 because he thought it would be a safer place to raise a family. He settled on Toronto because he felt it was the most diverse.

"[Toronto] was the only place that looked like home when I look at others. People look like me sometimes, sometimes not. I thought it would be easier to start in a city that looked like home.

"There are so many problems in Brazil. People here normally don't understand the size of the problems because Brazil is beautiful, we have Carnival, soccer et cetera, but it's really scary. We have so many social problems and corruption and violence there. Maybe the World Cup will be good because people will be curious about Brazil and now they'll see there are real problems there."


Born in Kaliningrad, Ms. Yunusov lived in Israel before moving to Canada when she was 21.

"I went to university [in Toronto]. I found my first job here, fell in love here, got married here, gave birth to my daughter here. My whole life is here. That's why I like the project so much. It's giving people a platform to share those stories. I consider myself Torontonian just like others are, but we're a really, really diverse city.

"I feel conflicted about the coverage [of Russia] because a lot of it has to do with cultural differences more than anything. The view that we're seeing in the media is a very Western view. The culture there is people don't really follow the rules as much as they do here. People mean well and they try their best, but it's not a structurally strong society. It's been through turmoil and wars and revolutions. It's never been settled in a way we feel settled here."

A consummate showman for nine decades
Four-time Oscar nominee Mickey Rooney went through turbulent times in love and show business, but never stopped performing
Associated Press
Tuesday, April 8, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S6

LOS ANGELES -- Mickey Rooney's approach to life was simple: "Let's put on a show!" He spent nine decades doing it, on the big screen, on television, on stage and in his extravagant personal life.

A superstar in his youth, Mr. Rooney was Hollywood's top box-office draw in the late 1930s to early 1940s. He epitomized the "show" part of show business, even if the business end sometimes failed him amid money troubles and a see-saw of career tailspins and revivals.

Pint-sized, precocious, impish, irrepressible - perhaps hardy is the most-suitable adjective for Mr. Rooney, a perennial comeback artist whose early blockbuster success as the vexing but wholesome Andy Hardy and as Judy Garland's musical comrade in arms was bookended 70 years later with roles in Night at the Museum and The Muppets.

Mr. Rooney died Sunday at age 93 of natural causes, surrounded by family at his North Hollywood home.

He was nominated for four Academy Awards over a four-decade span and received two special Oscars for film achievements, won an Emmy for his TV movie Bill and had a Tony nomination for his Broadway smash Sugar Babies.

Last month, Mr. Rooney attended Vanity Fair's Oscar party, where he posed for photos with other veteran stars and seemed fine. He was also filming a movie at the time of his death, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, with Margaret O'Brien.

"He was undoubtedly the most talented actor that ever lived. There was nothing he couldn't do. Singing, dancing, performing ... all with great expertise," Ms. O'Brien said. "I simply can't believe it. He seemed fine through the filming and was as great as ever."

A small man physically, Mr. Rooney was prodigious in talent, scope, ambition and appetite. He sang and danced, played roles both serious and silly, wrote memoirs, a novel, movie scripts and plays and married eight times.

"I always say, 'Don't retire - inspire,'" Mr. Rooney said in a 2008 interview. "There's a lot to be done."

He was among the last survivors of the studio era, which his career predated, most notably with the lead in a series of Mickey McGuire kid comedy shorts from the late 1920s to early '30s that were meant to rival the Our Gang flicks.

His first marriage to the glamorous, and taller, Ava Gardner lasted only a year. But a fond recollection from Mr. Rooney years later - "I'm 5 feet 3, but I was 6 feet 4 when I married Ava" - summed up his passion and capacity for life.

He was born on Sept. 23, 1920, to a pair of vaudeville performers. Joe Yule Jr. was the star of his parents' act by the age of two, singing Sweet Rosie O'Grady in a tiny tuxedo. His father, Joe Yule, was a comic, his mother, Nell Carter, a dancer. But Mr. Yule was a boozing Scotsman with a wandering eye, and the couple soon parted.

While his mother danced in the chorus, young Joe was wowing audiences with his heartfelt rendition of Pal o' My Cradle Days. During a tour to California, the six-year-old made his film debut in 1926's Not to Be Trusted. The Mickey McGuire short comedies that followed gave him a new stage name, later appended to the surname Rooney, after vaudeville dancer Pat Rooney.

After signing with MGM in 1934, Mr. Rooney landed his first big role playing Clark Gable's character as a boy in Manhattan Melodrama. A year later, still only in his mid-teens, he was doing Shakespeare, playing an exuberant Puck in Max Reinhardt's A Midsummer Night's Dream, which also featured James Cagney and Olivia de Havilland.

Mr. Rooney soon was earning $300 (U.S.) a week with featured roles in such films as Little Lord Fauntleroy, Captains Courageous and The Devil Is a Sissy. Then came Andy Hardy in the 1937 comedy A Family Affair, a role he would reprise in 15 more feature films over the next two decades. Centred on a small-town judge (Lionel Barrymore) who delivers character-building homilies to troublesome son Andy, it was pure corn, but it became a runaway success with Depression-weary audiences. In Love Finds Andy Hardy, he played opposite fellow child star Judy Garland.

His peppy, all-American charm was never better matched than when he appeared opposite Ms. Garland in such films as Babes on Broadway and Strike up the Band, musicals built around that "Let's put on a show" theme.

The 1939 Babes in Arms earned him a best-actor Oscar nomination. He earned another best-actor nod for 1943's The Human Comedy, adapted from William Saroyan's sentimental tale about small-town life during the Second World War.

"Mickey Rooney, to me, is the closest thing to a genius I ever worked with," said the film's director, Clarence Brown. He also directed Mr. Rooney and Elizabeth Taylor in 1944's horse-racing hit National Velvet, but by then, Mr. Rooney was becoming a cautionary tale for early fame. He earned a reputation for drunken escapades and quickie romances and was unlucky in both money and love.

In 1942 he married for the first time, to Ms. Gardner, the statuesque MGM beauty. He was 21, she was 19. They divorced a year later and Mr. Rooney joined the U.S. Army, spending most of his war service entertaining troops.

He returned to Hollywood, disillusioned to find his savings had been stolen by a manager and his career in a nose dive. He made two films at MGM, then his contract was dropped.

"I began to realize how few friends everyone has," he wrote in one of autobiographies. "All those Hollywood friends I had ... when I was the toast of the world, weren't friends at all."

The Bold and the Brave, a 1956 war drama, brought him an Oscar nomination as best supporting actor. He played second leads in such films as The Bridges at Toko-Ri with William Holden and Requiem for a Heavyweight with Anthony Quinn. In the early 1960s, he had a wild turn in Breakfast at Tiffany's as Audrey Hepburn's bucktoothed Japanese neighbour, and he was among the fortune seekers in the star-studded comedy It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.

But no one ever could count Mr. Rooney out. He earned a fourth Oscar nomination, as supporting actor, for 1979's Black Stallion, the same year he starred with Ann Miller in the Broadway revue Sugar Babies, which brought him a Tony nomination and millions of dollars during his years with the show.

"I've been coming back like a rubber ball for years," he joked at the time.

In 1981 came his Emmy-winning performance as a disturbed man in Bill. He also found success with voice roles for animated films such as The Fox and the Hound, The Care Bears Movie and Little Nemo.

After splitting with Ms. Gardner, Mr. Rooney married Betty Jane Rase, whom he met during military training in Alabama. They had two sons and divorced after four years. His third and fourth marriages were to actress Martha Vickers, with whom he had a son; and model Elaine Mahnken.

His fifth wife, model Barbara Thomason, gave birth to four children. While the couple were estranged in 1966, she was killed by her alleged lover, a Yugoslavian actor, in an apparent murder and suicide. A year later, Mr. Rooney began a three-month marriage to Margaret Lane. She was followed by a secretary, Caroline Hockett - another divorce after five years and one daughter.

In 1978, Mr. Rooney, 57, married for the eighth time. His bride was singer Janice Chamberlin, 39. After a lifetime of carrying on, he settled down and became a devoted Christian.

In 2011, Mr. Rooney was in the news again when he testified a special U.S. Senate committee about abuse of the elderly, alleging that he was left powerless by a family member who misused his money. "I felt trapped, scared, used and frustrated," he said. "But above all, when a man feels helpless, it's terrible."

That year, he took Ms. Chamberlin's son and others to court, alleging that they tricked into thinking he was on the brink of poverty while defrauding him of millions and bullying him into continuing to work. The suit was settled last year, with Mr. Rooney awarded $2.8-million.

Associated Press; biographical material written by former AP reporter David Germain and the late AP reporter Bob Thomas.

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From glittering art museums to eye-catching street-level details, an attention to how Mexico's vast capital both functions and looks infuses all aspects of the metropolis, now a must-visit stop for the world's culturati. 'Our buildings and sidewalks are full of all this food for us to eat up visually,' one local tell Andrew Braithwaite, who happily sinks his teeth into the feast that is Mexico City
Friday, April 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page 30

These days, Mexico City's drive to clad itself in layer upon layer of beautiful design never stops, not even when the city's residents leave on vacation. "Gaby and I were at a beach near Puerto Vallarta and we met this designer from San Francisco," says Eduardo Garcia, currently the hottest chef in this vast capital city of 20 million people. "We told him we were opening a new restaurant, and he said he'd come design the interior if we bought him a plane ticket."

At its core, design - diseno here in Mexico's D.F., or Distrito Federal - is the practice of making decisions about how something will look or feel or work. And any lover of good design visiting this city will spot, with each new step, clever street-level choices - triangular concrete planters, puzzle-like wooden sunscreens, curvy pink façades - seemingly everywhere.

That includes the interior of Maximo Bistrot Local, the small, unpretentious restaurant that Le Bernardin-trained Garcia and his wife, Gabriela, opened in November 2011. The designer on the beach, Charles de Lisle, converted a former wheelchair-supply shop in the Colonia Roma neighbourhood into a handsome, inviting room - "very Barragan," Eduardo says, referencing Luis Barragan, a master of space and light and the only Mexican architect to win the Pritzker Prize.

At Maximo, simple white walls are lit by 1950s Lightolier fixtures sourced by local mid-century-modern dealer Claudia Fernandez. A tangle of white plaster "branches" juts out from the side wall: The Tree of Life, as the patrons call it, was crafted by young plaster artisan David Rodrigo Mendez Nava. The week I visited, the Garcias opened a small bar directly upstairs - once again decked out by de Lisle, Fernandez and David Nava - where the crowds awaiting a coveted table can linger with a cocktail.

In this room, it's easy to grasp the cross-pollination of disciplines - design, art, architecture, food, fashion - that has recently made Mexico City one of the globe's hottest cultural scenes. "In the last five years, a lot more creative Mexicans have come to this city and hopped aboard this train," says the artist Pablo Vargas Lugo, with whom I'm enjoying a leisurely late-afternoon lunch of roasted duck breast with cauliflower purée, given a Meso-American lift by Garcia's addition of a vanilla gastrique. "People are diversifying, so now you wonder, Is this guy doing design? Is he selling clothes? Is he making art? What's his angle?"

Our conversation turns to architecture - specifically, the stunning new Museo Jumex, a contemporary-art museum by British architect David Chipperfield. "Other than perhaps Renzo Piano, Chipperfield's the best around when it comes to art museums," says Vargas Lugo. "He gets what it means to design a building for displaying art."

The structure, which opened in November just north of the posh Polanco district in Plaza Carso, sticks to a simple material palette: creamy travertine from Veracruz, warm chechen wood from Yucatan, white concrete, matte-black painted steel lining the central staircase. The tall spaces of its five floors - main galleries on the top two, an open-air café on the ground floor, a bookstore in the basement - flow smoothly, feeling capacious without swallowing you up.

Drawing from the nearly 3,000-piece collection of the Fundacion Jumex, the museum has no permanent exhibitions (unless you count the stunning basement floor, striped with some two dozen varieties of marble, by the British artist Martin Creed). Instead, a team of curators crafts three- to fourmonth shows that feature Mexican and international artists and are then turned over; temporary walls built in the spaces according to the particular needs of each exhibition get demolished for the next one.

"Chipperfield understood the context of our city right away," says the museum's director, Patrick Charpenel. "Our climate, all the open spaces that exist in what can seem like a very busy city - he built a museum that feels right for Mexico City."

Just beyond a train track is the Jumex's flashy neighbour, the Museo Soumaya. Built and named for the late wife of billionaire Carlos Slim and opened in 2011, the structure by Mexican architect Fernando Romero is a curving plinth covered in 16,000 hexagonal aluminum tiles. It looks like a magnificent reptilian torso cinched elegantly at the waist.

Unlike the Jumex next door, the architecture here is not always in service of the art it contains. The building itself is the showpiece - the best way to experience the Soumaya is to begin on its sixth floor and walk the sloping corkscrew pathway all the way to the bottom, appreciating every perfect curve and ignoring the art altogether. Six-and-a-half minutes later, convening with a cast of Rodin's The Thinker !in the main foyer, you'll feel like you've experienced a sort of artistic miracle.

Romero, the architect of Museo Soumaya, plays his own role in the city's intersection of creative disciplines via Archivo, a design collection he opened in 2012. Archivo occupies a lovingly retouched home in the Daniel Garza neighbourhood; the house was originally designed by the architect Arturo Chavez Paz, a contemporary of Barragan (whose own home is open to tours just up the street). Right across the road, incidentally, is the azure façade of Labor, Pamela Echeverria's influential gallery (she represents my Maximo lunch date, Pablo Vargas Lugo), which she relocated in 2012 to this house designed by the mid-century architect Enrique del Morel.

Archivo aims to demystify what design is and why it matters. Articles in its collection include a Jean Prouvé chair and several models of William Gruber and Harold Graves's View-Master stereoscopes. The house, stylishly impenetrable when viewed from its porthole-pierced concrete façade, opens onto a lush back garden that hosts a strange sort of amphitheatre: Local architecture firm Pedro&Juana won an international competition to install their pavilion, a grouping of 765 clay pots traditionally used in the distillation of tequila.

"Design is having a real moment right now all around the globe, and it's important that Mexican designers use this opportunity to articulate to the world what our design is all about," says Regina Puzo, who was just 23 when Romero tapped her to direct his gallery. "The primary place where we exchange ideas in the D.F. isn't in salons; it's in the streets. Our buildings and sidewalks are full of all this food for us to eat up visually."

That visual conversation comes in many forms, from the tight hedge of red steel bars that forms the façade of the Universidad de Las Americas to the silent movies projected nightly from the rooftop bar of my hotel in Polanco, the Habita, onto a windowless tower across the street. The chaotic mix of Spanish tile that covers the floor (and walls) of the café where I drink each morning's cortado exemplifies this city's well-styled playfulness: If Seattle is the sombre green and grey of Starbucks, Mexico City is the explosion of blue and yellow and pink inside Cielito Querido.

"We have this long cultural past that we can revisit in Mexico, and we do," says Hector Esrawe, a prominent furniture and industrial designer who, with Ignacio Cadena, created Cielito in 2010 and now counts 35 locations in the D.F., with four more on the way. "But what I'm interested in is taking these references and transitioning them to new techniques, to new expressions of Mexican design."

On my last day in Mexico City, I eat lunch at Rosetta, an Italian restaurant in Roma Norte, housed in an old belle époque mansion. The chef, Elena Reygadas, sends out what I decide, three bites in, is the greatest beet dish I've ever eaten: hickory-smoked beets with a beet sorbet, arranged with Mexican goat cheese atop a bed of young beet greens.

I look around the room - a glorious double-height space with hanging spherical fixtures and a massive skylight, obscured by hanging vines - and smile. It should come as no surprise that the husband of the chef who conceived of this food, and this place, is an architect. One creative style marrying another: That's Mexico City.


Mexico City's must-see art and design spots

MUSEO JUMEX, the Fundacion Jumex's contemporary-art museum featuring rotating exhibitions in a striking David Chipperfield building (

An artwork in itself, MUSEO SOUMAYA, built and named for the late wife of billionaire Carlos Slim (

ARCHIVO, Museo Soumaya architect Fernando Romero's modern-design gallery offering curated exhibitions and a lush rear garden (

Ballerinas with tenacity and guts
Two memoirs expose the grittier side of dance, from eating disorders to racism
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page P9

Two recently published memoirs by prominent U.S. ballerinas, New York City Ballet's Jenifer Ringer and American Ballet Theatre's Misty Copeland, part the curtain on the ballet's central illusion: that it is empowering for the female dancers at its centre.

Providing a behind-the-scenes look at the glory and gore of ballet, both books, in their own way, uncover unjust practices in ballet which for decades have tended to be tolerated, if not excused, in the name of art.

In Dancing Through It, Ringer's chronicle of her years as an elite ballerina at one of the world's most esteemed classical dance companies, eating disorders are at the foreground as the ugly underbelly of an art form that encourages extreme thinness in ballerinas at the cost of their physical and mental health. Ringer, who recently retired from the stage, almost went mad wrestling with the demon of a perfect body image, and her first-person account of her struggles is graphic, unsettling and sad.

Copeland, on the other hand, is a naturally curvy ballerina who never succumbed to the epidemic of anorexia and bulimia. As she documents in Life in Motion, her story is about what it is like to be a black ballerina in an art form where white swans rule. Her problems have always been more socially based.

When growing up in Los Angeles, she was discovered on a basketball court when she was in her early teens, already old for ballet. But Copeland was so extraordinarily and innately talented she soon was soaring through the ranks of her local ballet school.

Copeland today is an in-demand soloist with ambition to become a principal dancer, and if she realizes her dream she will make history. To date no major ballet company has advanced a black ballerina to the top of its ranks. And so you find yourself rooting for her, because like Ringer she is a ballerina with tenacity and guts, a true survivor. The Globe and Mail interviewed both dancers.


You have struggled with eating disorders much of your career, a common enough ailment for dancers but until recently rarely discussed in the open. Why did you want to go public with your struggles with body image?

Really because it is such a common problem, not only for dancers but for women in general. The ballet world is a microcosm of the real world - there is a standard of beauty out there, held up to women daily in the media, that is truly impossible to attain. It causes women to be critical of themselves and each other for falling short of this standard and results in so many women being dissatisfied with their appearance. I feel like it is a real problem and distracts women from thinking and caring about how to develop their inner beauty and true feelings of self-worth based on traits like honour and courage and integrity. I think of this often as a mother of a precious little girl - I think about what patterns I want to set up for her, positive patterns that will encourage and nurture a healthy self-esteem.

Let's talk about sugarplumgate. When The New York Times dance critic publicly accused you of having eaten one too many sugar plums in his 2010 review of The Nutcracker, you were hurt, of course, but your public was outraged. Are audiences today more accepting of different body types in ballet than some critics are?

The great thing about that whole incident is that it got people thinking. And the fact is, though the myth of the 'perfect ballet body' is out there and continues to be perpetuated, if you look around at the principal rosters of the major ballet companies, you will see a wide variety of bodies . I can think of principal ballerinas that are too much of something: too tall, too short, too broad, too long of a torso, too athletic, too womanly, too crooked. And no one cares when they are dancing, because they can move so incredibly.

Fascinating in the book are the glimpses you offer of the behind-the-scenes world of the ballet dancer, including the spills and falls. Ballet is glamorous on one level but quite brutal and stark on the other. How do you view this dichotomy?

For a dancer, ballet is a combination of so many things - it is an elite, highly specialized athletic endeavour, it is an art form that requires all of your emotional energy, it is a life, it is a job. And people are people, whether they are wearing tutus or suits.

You recently retired from the stage. Can you describe your last dance?

I loved my last performance. I felt so much joy and resolution and gratefulness and satisfaction. I think writing my book actually helped me to retire - I got a lot of closure about a lot of things. I had so much fun, dancing one last time with those incredible artists that were my colleagues and friends.


Why is colour in ballet still a contentious issue, even in this day and age?

I think the access has been limiting for diverse communities. Underprivileged communities. So when you get to the top-tier companies, there aren't enough dancers of colour to choose from. In addition to the history of ballet being predominantly white, it's hard to be accepted and fit into the unison of a corps de ballet, especially when the audience isn't used to seeing it.

For whom did you write this book and why?

I wrote this book for everyone. I know that my story is an unlikely one for the path of a ballet dancer. I wanted to share my personal life story for people to be able to relate to me, coming from a very typical American upbringing of modest beginnings and dreaming beyond the means presented in front of you.

You describe the fact that you were poor, that your mother wasn't always the best at choosing fathers for you kids, how you lived in motels, and at one point petitioned to become free of your mother's care. How did where you came from prepare you for where you ended up?

My rocky upbringing gave me a very thick skin that is a tool every dancer needs. I also think it helped me to build character from a young age, which helped me to be able to bring my life experiences to the stage through the characters I portray.

You are curvier than most ballerinas have been since the Balanchine effect took root in ballet in the 1960s. How have you avoided the edict to be thin, and how do you think body types are changing in ballet today?

I wouldn't be capable of carrying out the duties of an athlete if I were thinner than I am now and looked like the dancers did in the Balanchine era. Choreography today has become so extremely athletic that it has forced the ballet world to adapt to the way our muscles develop doing the more contemporary works we do today.

You once told me that racism is still very much practised within ballet and that you have had to work harder than your white counterparts to get ahead. Is that still the case?

I have seen a shift in the way companies look today. There are more dancers of colour because we have opened a dialogue to the world beyond ballet. It's as though the ballet world has been exposed and forced to make changes. I think because minority dancers are few and far between we have to be that much stronger and talented to be accepted in a company where we are going to stand out. I still hear from ballerinas from previous generations who say I'm going about my career in the wrong way. They see me as a self-promoter using my voice to be seen and force the artistic staff to promote me to principal. It's hurtful but I have to accept everyone's opinions when I'm this visible in the media. I think I will be proving myself and talent for the rest of my career.

Your goal is to become the first black principal dancer in the United States. How close are you to achieving that?

Actually having the opportunity to go on stage and perform principal roles in Coppélia, Manon, La Bayadère, Firebird and now preparing Swan Lake, make it seem much more real, attainable and possible. This is the first time that it feels like more than a dream.

Interviews have been edited and condensed.

The former finance minister shaped the Conservative Party, the nation and the world's response to the Great Recession
Friday, April 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A1

OTTAWA -- Jim Flaherty changed fiscal conservatism in Canada by delivering one of the largest deficits in modern history. When he quit as finance minister after eight years, he left the country on the road to balance.

That tough decision, taken during the Great Recession of 2008, symbolizes how Mr. Flaherty will be remembered - as a smart, fiscal conservative who proved to be a flexible finance minister during hard economic times.

Mr. Flaherty - remembered by friends and colleagues as a tough-talking politician with a heart, someone who never took himself too seriously - died of a heart attack Thursday. His death was a blow to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who was a close friend and ally, as well as the entire Conservative Party. Mr. Flaherty's legacy, as a conservative on fiscal policy but also as a politician who believed government had a role in helping individuals, drew praise from across the spectrum - from Bank of England Governor Mark Carney to Toronto mayoral candidate Olivia Chow.

He worked most closely with Mr. Harper and, over eight years, helped shape the economic vision of the new Conservative Party, setting a long-term path toward a smaller federal government by cutting the goods and services tax in the government's early days. He later took a leadership role in crafting not only Canada's response to the economic crisis, but also the international conversation as a veteran voice in the G20.

While Mr. Flaherty's legacy around stimulus has been widely praised, other key decisions remain hotly debated.

Many economists urged the government not to cut the GST, and the lost sales tax revenue likely meant the recession-era deficits were deeper than they would have been otherwise. Mr. Flaherty has been criticized for easing mortgage rules in early days as finance minister, but his later moves to gradually tighten lending in an effort to ease personal debt loads while avoiding a crash in the housing market have won high marks.

After House of Commons proceedings were suspended Thursday, Mr. Harper spoke to an emotional gathering of fellow Conservatives about the loss of the 64-year-old Mr. Flaherty.

"This comes as an unexpected and a terrible shock to Jim's family, to our caucus and to Laureen and me," Mr. Harper said, as his wife, Laureen, wiped tears from her eyes. "And it is with the heaviest of hearts that I offer my family's condolences and I know the condolences of the entire Parliament and the government of Canada."

Mr. Flaherty's family released a statement saying he passed away peacefully in Ottawa. He leaves his wife Christine Elliott and sons John, Galen and Quinn. "We appreciate that he was so well supported in his public life by Canadians from coast to coast to coast and by his international colleagues," the statement said. Mr. Flaherty developed close personal connections with friends and rivals alike, as well as with the many former staffers and volunteers he mentored into senior positions.

His most difficult policy decision came in late 2008 when, with their minority government on the line, he and Mr. Harper decided they would change course and approve a massive stimulus budget that would lead to years of red ink. By the time the books are balanced next year, the government will have added $162-billion to the federal debt to cover the cost of keeping the economy afloat during a period of private-sector panic.

It is a legacy that would have been inconceivable when Mr. Flaherty became federal finance minister in 2006, but his decisions during the crisis have won praise from the International Monetary Fund and even strong marks from critics.

The G20 finance ministers and central bankers, currently meeting in Washington, issued a statement Thursday saying Mr. Flaherty's "hard work and leadership were instrumental in helping to shape the recovery and in charting Canada's path back to surplus. At all times, Jim retained his refreshing honesty and good humour."

"He rose to the task," said Liberal MP John McCallum, a former chief economist of the Royal Bank. "As a finance minister, he understood that jobs and the Canadian economy were at stake. And I think he worked with other leaders to help to save the global economy at that time."

In his final year at finance, eliminating the deficit had clearly become a very personal goal. He chose to battle a painful skin condition while remaining in the public eye. In January, 2013, Mr. Flaherty confirmed that he was undergoing treatment for bullous pemphigoid, and that the steroids he was taking were responsible for his recent weight gain and puffy face.

Mr. Flaherty's family had urged him over the Christmas holidays to step down from politics and the high-pressure finance portfolio. His wife, who is deputy leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, had told reporters that her husband was planning to spend more time with their three sons and to find a job in the private sector.

Mr. Flaherty had recently joked that he still ran into angry investors at airports who are mad at him over his 2006 decision to break a campaign pledge by taxing income trusts - but stressed that it was the right economic decision.

With reports from Kathryn Blaze Carlson, Gloria Galloway and Kim Mackrael


Canadians react

Finance Minister Joe Oliver:

"As the guiding force of ten federal budgets, Jim never wavered in his abiding commitment to build a better country for all Canadians, a legacy that will ensure his memory as one of Canada's great statesmen."

Former Ontario premier

Mike Harris:

"He touched a lot of people very positively as a person. We are all going to miss him. I really feel for his family."

Conservative MP John Duncan:

"Devastating news. Jim Flaherty was a good person and a good friend. Condolences to family and friends."

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair:

"He's a good person. We're very, very sad for the loss of a great Canadian. Jim Flaherty was an extraordinarily dedicated public servant and he will be greatly missed by all of us."

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford:

"He was a close friend of the family for many, many years. I can never thank him enough for his friendship and his loyalty through the years. It is with deep sadness and a heavy heart that I say goodbye to a very special friend. We love you, Jim. We'll miss you."

B.C. Premier Christy Clark:

"Jim Flaherty returned our country to a balanced budget and I can tell you from experience, that is really hard to do. It takes a lot of tough decisions. And he was a man of character."

Former NDP MP Olivia Chow:

"I understand how difficult it is when you have a partnership, when a husband and wife are both in politics. There's a special bond there. I wish her strength."

Canadian Council of Chief

Executives CEO John Manley:

"His leadership helped Canada to overcome the most serious financial crisis since the 1930s. His astute judgment, thoughtful pragmatism and strength of character inspired confidence during a period of profound uncertainty and economic risk."

Long-time NDP and Liberal

politician Bob Rae:

"He was a tenacious, effective and dedicated politician who reached across the aisle."

Green Party Leader

Elizabeth May:

"I didn't agree with his policies, but that didn't mean I wasn't very fond of him. And I'm so very very sorry. My heart goes out to his whole family."

Foreign Affairs Minister

John Baird:

"Jim was a mentor to me throughout my time at Queen's Park from a very young age. I could always rely on Jim to be a devout friend through tough times, and an encouraging figure through good. Jim's passion for public service never wavered."

Industry Minister James Moore:

"This spot, this place, won't ever be the same. Thank you Jim."

Ontario Premier

Kathleen Wynne:

"He was a feisty spirit in this place."

Former Quebec premier

Jean Charest:

"When I went to Davos during the period of the financial and economic crisis, Canada had a rock star status. We're indebted to him in that regard."

Former Bank of Canada

governor Mark Carney:

Jim Flaherty played a central role when the G20 came of age in Washington in 2008, and when it forged its greatest contributions in London 2009 and Toronto 2010. He was a true believer in multilateralism, leading, urging, cajoling the members around the table to pursue policies that would promote strong, sustainable and balanced growth for all.

Connected with nature
A house that backs onto a pond blends Modernist designs with some traditional touches
Friday, April 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page G5


Asking price: $2.575-million

Taxes: $11,645.13 (2013)

Lot size: 47 by 120 feet

Agent: Andrea Morrison (Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd.)

The back story

Many Torontonians have visited High Park's Grenadier Pond to see the swans and their cygnets in the spring or to skate on the frozen surface in winter.

But far fewer have made the hop across Ellis Road to the more secluded West Pond.

Like Grenadier Pond, the small and slender body of water is surrounded by parkland and houses. It also accommodates skaters in winter and nesting families of swans in the spring.

On Ellis Gardens, the houses on the north side of the street sit along the curve of the pond's southern tip.

For years, Melanie Wickens and Paul Marchildon lived on the south side of Ellis Gardens, waiting for a house to come up for sale on the north.

Eventually, they gave up and moved out of the neighbourhood, but they always kept their eye on the little enclave in Swansea.

One house came and went while they were adjusting to life with a newborn baby.

But when a second house arrived on the market a couple of years later, they were ready to move.

They bought the small bungalow and had it torn down to make way for a new four-bedroom house.

The house today

The couple didn't look far for an architect: Not only is Tim Wickens Ms. Wickens' brother, he had previously designed the couple's cottage on Georgian Bay.

Mr. Wickens, who specializes in residential architecture, faced a couple of significant challenges.

One was the building site's location next to a pond, which means that the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority had to approve the project, along with City of Toronto's department of Urban Forestry. Acquiring permits was a lengthy process.

"There are a lot of rules around water and slopes," Mr. Wickens said.

The backyard's gentle descent to the water's edge is actually considered a ravine, he explains.

To ensure that the house would never shift or sag, they built it on the type of helical piers that more typically support a commercial building or condominium tower.

"There's a fortress underneath the building," Mr. Wickens said. "It's kind of an indestructible thing."

The second challenge Mr. Wickens faced was combining Ms. Wickens' love for traditional elements with Mr. Marchildon's preference for a modern residence.

Since Mr. Wickens also has a bent for Modernism, the house was always going to be tilted that way, but he also wanted to make his sister happy.

The two spent a lot of time driving around together, looking at the grand Edwardian and Arts and Crafts houses of High Park.

"That's part of my job, to look at what the inspiration is for them," says the architect.

Mr. Wickens talked with his sister to find out what she found appealing about traditional houses.

When she said "traditional," she was envisioning a house that would feel warm and welcoming and domestic and protective, he interpreted.

In traditional houses, rooms are more often closed off and separate from each other. Traditional houses don't have walls of floor-to-ceiling glass.

Ms. Wickens agreed that she wanted openness and spaciousness and light and, in that sense, she did prefer the interconnected dining room and living room and kitchen typical of modern architecture.

"These are things that everyone wants these days," Mr. Wickens said.

The architect satisfied her desire for a modern house with a warm feeling by adding elements such as a wooden staircase and banister instead of steel and glass, for example.

"It's a very clean version of a traditional way to make a stair."

He had a wall of closets built into the front hallway but the doors have Shaker-style panels instead of flat. The fireplace was placed at the centre of the house and surrounded by cut field stone instead of the large slabs of polished stone that Mr. Wickens first presented.

"The double-sided fireplace is extremely traditional but in a way very modern," he says.

A separate family room can be left open as part of the main floor space or closed off with sliding pocket doors.

"I think that part of building a good, open space is knowing when to close off a room."

The U-shaped kitchen provides an outlook over the pond and into the dining room. Ms. Wickens finds that the marble-topped counters feel warm and modern at the same time and blend well with the stainless steel.

Tall wood cabinets and a built-in china cabinet also provide lots of storage.

"We spent a lot of time planning the kitchen," Ms. Wickens said. "It's very efficient."

Hidden behind the kitchen is a side entrance to a mud room with many more built-in closets.

"The mud room seems to be high on the list of priorities for families," Mr. Wickens said.

Upstairs, the master suite occupies the back of the house. A wall of windows has a view of the trees, pond and parkland, but a low bookcase below the window prevents the room from feeling too exposed.

"The master suite has that kind of privileged view down this long length of the pond," Mr. Wickens says.

The bathroom and closet are combined in one volume to keep it separate from the sleeping area.

The large spa bathtub under the window provides a place to relax while taking in the view. A door leads to an outdoor terrace where Ms. Wickens and Mr. Marchildon can feel as if they're stepping outside into the treetops.

The couple's children, Sophie and Sam, each have bedrooms at the front of the house.

Those bedrooms were designed to feel special in their own way, Mr. Wickens says, with built-in desks and large play areas. The dormer in Sam's room creates a sloping ceiling that makes the bedroom feel more cozy, he adds. "The dormer drops down to make you feel a little more protected on the inside."

Outside, the exterior was also made to appear more traditional so that it would blend in with other houses in the neighbourhood and also let the occupants feel less exposed.

"Some of it was about a big roof that kind of protected the house," Mr. Wickens said. "For the street it's a very big house but it doesn't feel as big."

On the lower level, the basement provides space for a recreation room and home gym, along with a laundry room and a room that could be a fifth bedroom.

Now that the house is complete, Ms. Wickens finds that the wood trim, pocket doors and banister give the modern house the warmth that she yearned for.

"Those are reminiscent of my grandparents' place growing up," Ms. Wickens said.

She enjoys spending time in the kitchen while Sophie and Sam do their homework or work on crafts at the dining table nearby.

Looking out, they often spot lovely birds, including the great blue heron and the night heron.

"We actually see quite a lot of really beautiful wildlife," Ms. Wickens said.

Real estate agent Andrea Morrison of Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd. believes the house is best suited to a family that wants to be close to High Park and the waterfront. She points out that the kids can put on their skates in the backyard and step right onto the ice. "It's really designed for family living."

The best feature

Visitors arriving to the front door immediately catch a glimpse down the hallway to the large room at the rear of the house and the water beyond.

"There was an idea to give a preview of what's going to happen. You get a slice of it," Mr. Wickens said. "As you come down the hallway, it becomes very horizontal and panoramic."

The hallway leads to the sunken living space at the rear.

"The back was all about giving them as much overlook as possible of the pond."

With the kitchen, dining area and living room all facing the rear, the family always feels connected to the landscape. A walk-out leads to a large deck with an outdoor fireplace.

"In some ways this room manages the topography," Mr. Wickens said. "Instead of walking outside and dropping into the landscape, there's no significant disconnect from the landscape and I think that's an important thing."

For Ukrainian President, heavy pressure and few good options
First he set a tough deadline for pro-Russian militants. When that deadline passed, Oleksandr Turchynov suggested a referendum and asked for UN peacekeepers. As Mark MacKinnon reports, Ukraine's President isn't indecisive - there's just not a lot he can do
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A8

KIEV -- Oleksandr Turchynov, the interim President of beleaguered Ukraine, declared several times on Monday that he had a plan. But with his country being pulled apart under Russian pressure, and few good options to counter Moscow's meddling, the plan continues to change.

First, Mr. Turchynov played the tough guy, ready to confront Russian intervention. Then he flipped and offered a complicated compromise. Then he went back to battle mode.

Meanwhile, pro-Russian gunmen gained ground and seized more buildings in the east of the country on Monday, defying Mr. Turchynov's warning that he would use force to prevent a repeat of the scenario that last month saw Russia annex the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine following a controversial snap referendum in the region.

Mr. Turchynov had promised he would launch a "full-scale anti-terrorist operation" starting early Monday if the separatists - who Ukraine claims are Russian-backed and include undercover Russian soldiers - didn't peacefully leave the buildings they had captured.

It was a high-risk ultimatum. Using force against the militants might give the Russian army massed on the other side of the border an excuse to invade, something many in Kiev believe Russian President Vladimir Putin is waiting anxiously for.

But by leaving separatists in control of an expanding area of eastern Ukraine, Mr. Turchynov risks seeing his country further disintegrate on his brief watch.

Mr. Turchynov's deadline came and went Monday without any sign of a concerted move to oust the militants, who now control the cities of Donetsk and Lugansk, as well as much of the densely populated coal-producing industrial region known as the Donbass.

Instead, dozens of masked men - some carrying automatic weapons - stormed and seized a police station in the city of Horlivka on Monday, raising the Russian flag. The move brought to 10 the number of cities in eastern Ukraine where one or more government buildings is under the control of pro-Russian forces.

Late Monday, the Kyiv Post reported that Mr. Turchynov had signed a decree entitled "On urgent measures to deal with the terrorist threat and the territorial integrity of Ukraine," the contents of which were secret.

The leader of the pro-Russian militants in one of the insurgent-held cities, Slavyansk, told journalists he and his Kalashnikov-toting fighters were counting on Russian protection if the Ukrainian army moved in. "We call on Russia to protect us and not to allow the genocide of the people of Donbass," rebel leader Vyacheslav Ponomaryov told a group of reporters. "We ask President Putin to help us."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Mr. Putin had received "a great many such appeals coming from the eastern Ukrainian regions." Mr. Peskov said Mr. Putin was "watching the developments in eastern Ukraine with great concern."

NATO generals say Russia has tens of thousands of combat-ready troops - as well as tanks and warplanes - massed on its side of the Ukrainian border.

"Peace and stability is being threatened here in a way that has not been threatened since the end of the Cold War," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement. He claimed the advances made by pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine were "patently, without any doubt whatsoever, strictly the work of Russian provocateurs sent by the Putin regime" and said "Canada will take additional measures" beyond the economic sanctions currently in place.

Video emerged on Monday showing a man who introduced himself as a lieutenant-colonel in the Russian army giving instructions to Horlivka police officers, who appeared to have switched loyalties after their station was stormed.

Russia has repeatedly denied that it has soldiers or operatives on the ground in east Ukraine. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said: "I don't think denials of Russian involvement have a shred of credibility." He also advocated further sanctions against Moscow.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said there were "very clear and disconcerting parallels between what is happening in eastern Ukraine and leading up to the annexation of Crimea," noting the pro-Russian fighters had weapons "you can't buy at army surplus stores."

Mr. Baird will travel next week to the capitals of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia and Latvia to discuss the crisis in Ukraine.

There were signs of disagreement Monday inside the Kiev government over what to do next. After his ultimatum passed, Mr. Turchynov demoted Vitaliy Tsyhanok, head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU)'s anti-terrorist centre, and appointed his deputy, Vasyl Krutov, to take his place. The interim President then tried to reach out to the separatists who eight days ago proclaimed a "Donetsk People's Republic" - suggesting the government could hold a nationwide referendum on the future of Ukraine alongside the presidential elections scheduled for May 25.

That idea predictably fell flat. The men who control the Donbass don't want a national referendum in which most Ukrainians would surely vote to keep the country together. They want a separate ballot on the future of their Russian-speaking region, which presses up against the Russian border and is economically reliant on Moscow. Kiev says regional referendums are not permitted under the country's constitution.

Rebuffed, Mr. Turchynov later proposed that a United Nations peacekeeping force aid the Ukrainian army in retaking the seized buildings in the east of the country. The suggestion seemed fanciful given that Russia would almost certainly use its veto at the UN Security Council to ensure such a mission never takes place.

The shifting plans are less of an indication of Mr. Turchynov's indecision than they are a sign of how few good options his government now has in the face of the extreme pressure Russia is placing on Ukraine.

Moscow considers Mr. Turchynov's government - which came to power after protesters demanding closer ties with the European Union forced the Kremlin-backed Viktor Yanukovych to flee - illegitimate and calls Mr. Yanukovych's ouster a Western-backed coup.

Mr. Putin's coterie considers Ukraine part of Moscow's historic "sphere of influence" and want to see the country adopt a new constitution that gives more autonomy - and guarantees Russian influence - over the Russian-speaking east and south of the country.

Kremlin-connected analysts have told The Globe and Mail that Mr. Putin will consider all options - up to and including the further use of force - to make sure that Ukraine never joins the EU or the NATO alliance. They say economic sanctions are very unlikely to convince Mr. Putin to change course.



Where the militants have taken over Ukrainian government buildings - and where Russia's military buildup is taking place, according to NATO

The 10 cities in eastern Ukraine where one or more government buildings is under the control of pro-Russian forces


City administration


Headquarters of SBU state security service


City administration


City police headquarters


City police headquarters, city administration


City administration, city police headquarters, checkpoints on roads leading into the city


City administration


City administration


City administration


Regional administration building, regional police headquartersLEGEND80+40-8020-4010-201-10%Percentage of Russian-speaking population

Russian military buildup identified by NATO

This satellite image from March 22 shows a Russian military airborne or Spetsnaz (Special Forces) brigade at Yeysk.

Russian military Su-27/30 'Flankers' aircraft are seen at the Primorko-Akhtarsk Air Base in southern Russia on March 22.

This image from March 26 shows what NATO says are Russian Mil Mi-8 'Hips' and Mil Mi-24 'Hinds' aircraft in Belgorod, about 50 kilometres north of the Russian border with eastern Ukraine.

Russian military tanks and infantry fighting vehicles are seen at a military base near Kuzminka on March 27.

According to NATO, this satellite image from March 27 shows the marshalling of elements of a Russian Motorized Rifle Regiment (MRR) in Novocherkassk, southern Russia.

Russian Su-27/30 'Flankers' and Su-24 'Fencers' are seen at a military base in Buturlinovka, southern Russia, on April 2.

NOTE: All of these satellite images were made by DigitalGlobe and released by Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), the headquarters of Allied Command Operations, one of NATO's two strategic military commands. They were released last week through Reuters and Associated Press, which could not independently verify the images.



A humanistic approach to archeology
Researcher was focused on her work, supportive of her students and made unique contributions to Newfoundland history
Special to The Globe and Mail
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S8

A pioneer in Arctic and North Atlantic archeology, Dr. Priscilla Renouf was a dynamic and intelligent researcher with a holistic approach to her discipline. She thought big, envisioning broad cultural landscapes and considering vast time scales, but was always able to present her findings as deeply human, connecting peoples. She studied hunter-gatherer tribes that formed small-scale societies that were fluid and family-based.

For the past three decades, she conducted research in Labrador, Arctic Norway and Greenland, but her primary focus was Port au Choix in northwestern Newfoundland. Her research spans the extent of Newfoundland's human history, beginning 5,500 years ago. Her work there shed light on four distinct aboriginal cultures: two Amerindian groups - the Maritime Archaic and Recent Indian - and two Arctic-based - the Groswater and Dorset. She also helped illuminate the 18th- and 19th-century European occupation of the area.

Much of Dr. Renouf's excavation took place at Phillip's Garden, situated in the Port au Choix National Historic Site, where she began work in 1984. A spectacular spot, it is one of the largest Dorset sites in Canada and rich with as many as 135 small oval and rectangular house depressions and tens of thousands of well-preserved artifacts.

Phillip's Garden was an important harp seal-hunting location and an economic hub, as the seals' migratory patterns always brought them predictably and in great abundance to the beach twice each year. A large group would gather and engage in social activities, reinforcing family and community ties.

Dr. Renouf and her team had funding that allowed her and her students to investigate a whole range of research questions. The overarching aim was to understand as much as possible the nuanced social lives and interactions among the people who had lived in the province. The Parks Canada museum at Port au Choix draws heavily on her work.

"She headed the research [program] around the Port au Choix Archeology Project in an exemplary way," Bjarne Gronnow, research professor in Arctic archeology at the National Museum of Denmark, wrote in an e-mail. Her research was a model of complex, interdisciplinary and innovative work that attracted worldwide respect and earned her "a central position in the international archeological research environment," he said

Field work was a huge component of Dr. Renouf's research, and resulted in her unique contributions to Newfoundland history. She would find new artifacts and new ways of interpreting existing material. She and her students and colleagues examined bone and stone tools, dwelling architecture and food refuse, and explored rituals. Her research questions were always anthropological in nature, as she sought to understand social practices and how people approached the opportunities and challenges of living where they did.

She was particularly interested in people's relationship to their biophysical surroundings. This led to her long-time collaboration with Trevor Bell, a geographer at Memorial University Newfoundland. Together, they related the ancient landscape to human settlement patterns.

As an academic and teacher, Dr. Renouf was also highly distinguished, having earned this country's highest honour in the field, a fellowship with the Royal Society of Canada, in 2010.

Dr. Renouf died April 4 in St. John's. She had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer in November, 2010.

Miriam Alleyne Priscilla Renouf was born Aug. 8, 1953, one of four girls born to Harry and Miriam (née Suckling). They grew up on Forest Avenue in St. John's, where several big Catholic families had adjoining backyards, and the houses were full of girls. Harry Renouf was the registrar at Memorial University. His three older girls earned doctorates and the youngest became a medical doctor.

"They were all very smart," said family friend Maire O'Dea. ("Focused" is an adjective often used to describe Dr. Renouf.)

"Even as a preteen," said Sheila Devine, another friend, "she spent hours sewing." Priscilla won the Miss Singer Sewing Contest as a teenager, with a tennis costume.

"In those days, everyone was babysitting," Ms. Devine said, "and she and my sister, Metz [Mary], saved up all their money, and we kept asking what they would do with it, and they said they'd decide later. One night they announced they were going to dinner at the Newfoundland Hotel. They were attired in two dresses each had made, carrying purses, so elegant."

Along with her stylishness, another notable quality she had from a young age was her curiosity.

"Priscilla always had an inquiring mind," Ms. Devine said. "She always asked, I wonder why that happens? I wonder where that happened? I wonder how come? Stock answers were not enough for her."

Dr. Renouf earned her BA and MA at Memorial University and her PhD at Cambridge. She did her PhD on hunter-gatherer sites in Tromso, Norway, and returned to Newfoundland and a faculty appointment at Memorial in 1981.

Among her many achievements, Dr. Renouf was: Canada Research Chair of North Atlantic Archeology; 1992 recipient of the President's Award for Outstanding Research; on the first Board of Trustees of the Canadian Museum of Civilization; inaugural board member and Chair of Newfoundland's The Rooms; a member of the board of directors for the Historic Sites Association of Newfoundland and Labrador; on the governing body of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada; and co-founder of the international research group LINK - a dozen archeologists whose goal is to answer questions relating to past societies and how they coped with long- and short-term climate fluctuations. She authored many papers for academic and general audiences, wrote the book Ancient Cultures, Bountiful Seas: The Story of Port au Choix (1999), and co-edited, with David Sanger, The Archaic of the Far Northeast (2006). She was curator of a multimedia exhibition of her work at a new Parks Canada museum, and was a popular speaker on national and international podiums.

For all that, her most valuable legacy may be her students. She held them to her own high standards and invested herself in their goals. "I once received a corrected paper with hair that she had pulled out of her head and taped to my page," said Patty Wells, a postdoctoral fellow lecturing at Western University and a winner of the Governor-General's Gold Medal for Graduate Studies. "She nominated me, she nominated many of her students for awards," Dr. Wells said. "She was always promoting her students."

Witty and funny, Dr. Renouf was also known for her adroit caricatures, her hand-drawn cards (sometimes decorated with New Yorker cartoons), and even performing such practical jokes as masquerading as a nun stranded by a car breakdown (the illusion held until she pretended to get the garage on the phone and expressed herself in language unbefitting of a nun).

She and her beloved husband Roger Pickavance, whom she married 15 years ago, enjoyed entertaining and had a great sense of occasion. "We loved to be invited to dinner," Ms. Devine said. "If we brought a guest we would say, 'There will be eight people and 16 conversations.'" They entertained at their home in St. John's and their place at Red Cliff on Bonavista Bay.

"Red Cliff was a really important refuge for her," Dr. Wells said. "She spent weekends there occasionally throughout the year, but she very firmly gave herself that time after her field work to have this period of relaxation with Roger and her friends, always the month of August. She and Roger sat out on their deck overlooking Bonavista Bay and watched the sun go down and the whales cruise by. Their house was small and airy, very comfortable. Friends would visit and enjoy the gracious and easy company."

Her taste and good eye extended to Newfoundland artworks, which she collected. She was also very fit, one of her reserves of strength. Even as her illness worsened, Dr. Renouf kept to her routine. "She still had that application and discipline that made her such a success," said Ms. Devine.

Predeceased by her parents and sister Deane, she leaves her husband, Roger, and sisters, Mary and Tia.

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Carolina dreamin'
Asheville is like the east-coast equivalent of Austin. Full of galleries, craft breweries and hopping music venues, it's a hotbed of delightfully odd, down-home hippie chic
Special to The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, April 8, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- 'It's the wind chime capital of America," my brother-in-law told me as he walked my husband and me to our car before we set off for Asheville, N.C.

Ask a Carolinian about the city and they'll start rattling off brewpubs: Green Man, Thirsty Monk, Wicked Weed ... names that put it in a league with craft-beer capitals such as Portland, Ore., and make you wonder if Asheville were founded by Trappist monks. Mention the city to an outsider, such as my Ohio-based brother-in-law, and you'll get a different description, making you wonder if it were settled by Dead Heads.

As we walked Asheville's snug downtown grid - to the promised sound of copper pipes tinkling in the breeze - we spotted other clues: bead stores, Peruvian bobble hats, a shop offering Himalayan salt lamps. And it seemed most of the locals were either plucking banjos for change or head-nodding to buskers while waiting for a brunch table.

Rolling Stone once described this Blue Ridge Mountain city as "America's new freak capital," and although that was nearly 15 years ago, a commitment to counterculture has kept this oasis in the hardscrabble Appalachian landscape, like its fellow beer hub Portland, weird.

Along with a thriving music scene, you'll find craft galleries, flea markets and bookshops created out of art deco banks or old five-and-dime stores. The Mellow Mushroom pizza joint has a patio painted in psychedelic colours and a slogan that says "Feed your head." An old roadhouse west of downtown recently reopened as a live venue with events such as the "Xanax Square Dance." They named it the Odditorium.

The long, strange trip happened gradually for this city of 85,000. In 1927, the liberal arts Buncombe County College opened its doors (it's now the University of North Carolina at Asheville) and students were encouraged to be active in the community, a practice that prevails in the allotment gardens and tailgate markets that keep residents in wood-fired bread and organic mushrooms.

Fuelling this sense of community is the fact that Asheville is delightfully walkable. The River Arts District, for example, is only 15 minutes from downtown via the Chicken Hill neighbourhood, a rejuvenated mill community that is a model of Asheville's "new urbanism." The knot of streets on the hill released us near Riverside Studios and the Hatchery, the two anchors in a strip of 22 artists' studios in repurposed industrial buildings on the French Broad River.

A former auto body shop, Phil Mechanic, is now a gallery displaying pottery etched with poetry and floral bouquets sculpted with buttons - with the artists' workshops upstairs. Around back, on a boardwalk that skirts the river bank, we picked through jewellery and furniture made from recycled machine parts, and watched students at a glass-blowing clinic. At Curve, we explored potters' studios and a sculpture garden. All that art appreciation brought us happily to the patio at Wedge Brewing Co., where we sampled the house Derailed Hemp ale.

The city's fascination with arts and craft is laid out for all to see in the River Arts District, like catnip to the hippies and retirees who roam here. Asheville is home to the Southern Highland Craft Guild, which was formed in 1930 and is still one of the most influential promoters of grassroots art in the United States. In 1933, a group of radical academics collaborated with artists Josef and Anni Albers (instructors from Germany's Bauhaus institute, which had been shut by the Nazis) to set up Black Mountain College, an artists' retreat buried in the mountainscape east of Asheville. That campus is now a private boys' school, but you can visit a small satellite museum on Broadway, which exhibits the works of avant-garde artists in the vein of Willem de Kooning and Robert Rauschenberg, who are former instructors.

Another sort of art is on display just a two blocks further on Broadway Street, at Moog Music. To the untrained eye, it's a modest synthesizer showroom, but to Moog disciples it's music nirvana - the only place in the world you can try every Moog keyboard in production. The factory next door offers weekday tours. Outside, a two-storey mural features the late founder Bob Moog, the silver-haired godfather of prog rock and electronic music who made this city his home for 30 years. In the painting, he sports a lime-green shirt unbuttoned to the chest.

The Moog mystique is so powerful that it spawned an annual electronic music blow-out. This year's Moogfest runs April 23-27, with international headliners such as Kraftwerk, Chic, Giorgio Moroder and Laurie Anderson. Not bad for a city rooted in indigenous bluegrass.

Thanks in part to Moog, Asheville now boasts all kinds of live music, such as a junior Austin, Tex. The Orange Peel, a defunct roller-skating venue that reopened in 2002 as a music hall, had us rocking to honky-tonk. Next we hit the Grey Eagle, an old roadhouse that staged a sold-out show by Georgia rockers Of Montreal and a tribute to Django Reinhardt a week earlier. We saw the Blue Rags, a local ragtime-blues act that played a set so rousing the septuagenarian in front of us spun his granddaughter right off the dance floor.

It seems this city doesn't need much shut-eye. On our way home in the wee hours, folks with bellies and beards were huddling over foosball at Hi-Wire Brewing on Hilliard Avenue. We heard hubbub coming from Top of the Monk, the speakeasy above the Thirsty Monk pub on Patton Avenue. Earlier in the evening, we'd ordered a round of bourbon cocktails from the bar, and they arrived with a numbered key. We were led to a post-office box by the bar that was filled with warm snacks like bacon-wrapped figs - each in one of the locked boxes. Fabulous.

We checked out of our hotel early on Sunday and hightailed it to the Tupelo Honey Café (famed for its shrimp and grits) to try to beat the brunch rush. At 10 a.m., there was already a 90-minute wait. Nope, this city doesn't get much sleep.




The InterContinental's boutique brand Hotel Indigo is centrally located and offers good-size rooms with dreamy showers. Breakfast is staged in a Starbucks, with loads of selection. Double rooms begin at about $210 (U.S.) a night, including breakfast. 151 Haywood St.; 1-828-239-0239,

Aloft Asheville Downtown is bang in town, with a billiard bar, gym, rooftop pool and a rec room like you'd find in your friend's basement. The decor is youthful and acid bright. Double rooms begin at about $235 a night, including breakfast. 51 Biltmore Ave.; 1-828-232-2838,


Storm Rhum Bar & Bistro, adjacent to the Orange Peel, is cozy and full of buzz - in every sense of the word. The drinks menu features local tipples such as French Broad Kolsch and a Carolina Sling, with Cardinal gin and cherry brandy. The kitchen doles out beef short ribs with grits and red wattle (pork) with roasted beets and bacon butter. 125 S. Lexington Avenue; 1-828-505-8560,

You can get all manner of Carolina soul food at Pack's Tavern or one of the half-dozen brewpubs around town. The Admiral, however, is an original - a roadside joint seized by an innovative chef who masters multi-culti dishes such as sweetbread schnitzel, crispy frog legs, and brisket with latkes. Book well in advance or show up from 5 p.m. for a seat at the bar. 400 Haywood Rd.; 1-828-252-2541,

Ellen Himelfarb

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


An April 8 Travel article about Asheville, N.C., incorrectly referred to American artist Robert Rauschenberg as having been an instructor at Black Mountain College. In fact, he was a student at the school.

Young Swedes take league by storm
Saturday, April 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S2


A few days before the NHL playoffs began, the Anaheim Ducks' sparkling rookie defenceman Hampus Lindholm was sitting alone in his locker stall. A crowd had formed around team captain Ryan Getzlaf; another was waiting for Teemu Selanne to emerge. Goaltending seemed to be on everybody's mind because the Ducks had three netminders on their roster, two of them rookies - and how can a team win a championship with so much inexperience at such a key position?

But then here is Lindholm, just 20, in his first full NHL season, playing with the poise of a veteran, and shunting a couple of other quality rearguards, Sami Vatanen and Luca Sbisa, to the press box.

Lindholm is part of a hard-to-explain wave of young Swedish defenceman taking the NHL by storm. At 20, he is playing on the top pair in Anaheim alongside François Beauchemin, just as Jonas Brodin has played on the top pair in Minnesota alongside Ryan Suter for the past two years.

The number also includes the Tampa Bay Lightning's Victor Hedman, who had a massive breakout season and emerged as a top-five scorer among defencemen this year; the Phoenix Coyotes' Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who edged out Keith Yandle as the team's most complete rearguard, and of course, the 2012 Norris Trophy winner, Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators, who led all defencemen in scoring with 74 points.

Karlsson is the oldest of the bunch at 23; he went 15th overall in the 2008 entry draft. Hedman and Ekman-Larsson went second and sixth overall in 2009, respectively; Brodin went 10th overall in 2011 and Lindholm was taken sixth overall in 2012. Lindholm's selection there was considered a stretch by some teams, but he has proven with his poise that Anaheim's scouts saw something other teams didn't.

Defence is supposed to be the hardest position to learn in the NHL, and yet Lindholm and Brodin are making it look if not easy, then doable - and without a real long apprenticeship either.

Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau speaks of Lindholm's "great hockey IQ" and says it all starts there, with great vision and on-ice awareness.

"Sometimes, you never notice it in Swedes because they're a quieter group, but he's got a determination and a willingness and a want to be so good that I think it's improved his play immensely," Boudreau said. "Last year, he came into camp wanting to make the team. Unfortunately, he got hurt and almost missed the whole year, so it's great what he's doing now - and he's just going to get bigger and stronger. He's put on about seven pounds over the course of this year and he's just starting to reach into his man's body. He's going to be really good."

Hedman made perhaps the greatest strides this season after altering his condition program in the summer to work on quickness and explosiveness. Hedman also watched tapes of both Karlsson and the legendary Hall of Famer Nicklas Lidstrom who, along with Borje Salming, are the greatest Swedish defencemen in history, to see if he can add some things to his game. Though Hedman has Chris Pronger's size, he actually models his game after the smooth-skating Scott Niedermayer, who happens to be the Ducks' assistant and who works with defencemen such as Lindholm.

Lidstrom influenced a generation of young Swedish players in the same way Patrick Roy once influenced a generation of young Quebec goalies and according to Hedman, "he was certainly one of my biggest influences growing up. It's tough to speak for other guys, but every Swedish defenceman looked up to Nick Lidstrom and the way he played the game, the way he leads, all the Cups and individual trophies as well. You watch him play and it makes you want to reach a high level."

But Lindholm also believes the Swedish development system has something to do with their collective evolution because it stresses tape-to-tape passing.

"I feel like back home, coming up from juniors, the big difference from playing over here, is they always want us to make a play with the puck," Lindholm said. "It's not often you see a young defenceman back home chipping the puck, glass and out.

"Sometimes, that can be a good play over here, but back home, you don't really do that. So coming over here, Swedes and Finns, we always want to move the puck and make a play, so it's a little bit different that way."

Hedman echoed those thoughts:

"You don't stand still on the blueline, you keep your feet moving all the time, they want you to keep your head up as much as you can and then try to make plays," he said. "Maybe that's the biggest key for us - don't be afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes are going to happen during the game, but the approach is go ahead and make plays."

Beauchemin, the nine-year veteran who spent five seasons apprenticing in the minors, was asked: Isn't playing defence supposed to be harder than Lindholm and his peers are making it look?

"It is really hard but these guys, I think it just has a lot to do with their personalities," Beauchemin said. "They are so calm. There's no panic in their games - and obviously, he's a great skater, which makes it a lot easier when you can skate and move the puck like he does.

"Skating is part of the new NHL. When you can skate and move the puck, it makes your forwards play with it a lot more in the offensive zone."

Though the Calder Trophy will go to the Colorado Avalanche's Nathan MacKinnon, Lindholm gets some votes because of his impact on a Ducks team that played without Sheldon Souray and Sbisa earlier this season, providing him with an opening.

"Just watching a guy like Hampus Lindholm go straight from the Swedish second league into the NHL and playing impressively and very well, I don't know what it is, but we have a great program back home," Hedman said. "I played with Erik [Karlsson] since we were 16.

"I played at world juniors in Pardubice, and since then they've been to the semi-finals, at the worst, in every single one. They're doing good things with the juniors."

The real irony may be that because of their puck-handling skills, the North American game, with its smaller ice size, actually plays into their favour.

"I like [the NHL game] because things happen faster," Lindholm said. "I would say for the fans, it's a more fun game because there are so many more scoring chances and every puck in front of the net is dangerous, every angled shot could be a good rebound. So I would say it's more fun that way. Of course, it's fun to play on the big ice too, but I would probably prefer the North American style."

In the meantime, Lindholm was looking forward to his first NHL playoffs, after the Ducks earned the top seed in the Pacific Division. They led the Dallas Stars 1-0 heading into Friday's second game of the best-of-seven Western Conference quarter-final.

"Playoffs [are] always a gamble," Lindholm said. "I've been in playoffs back home. I remember when we had some success, my team [Rogle], two years ago. We were the underdogs. We weren't supposed to win. If you win one big game and the team gets confidence, you can keep snowballing. You can keep rolling. In the playoffs, anything can happen."

With a file with Sean Gordon

in Tampa

In Canada and around the world, experts are working to preserve Aramaic through dictionaries, a language institute and Facebook exchanges. As Kinda Jayoush reports, the real fear surrounds the village of Maaloula - and an exodus of Christians who speak the 'definitely endangered' language
Special to The Globe and Mail
Friday, April 18, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A6

Aramaic, the language of Jesus Christ, has survived for centuries and is still spoken in one place on Earth: the village of Maaloula in Syria, about 60 kilometres northeast of Damascus.

But Maaloula has not been immune to the civil war that has torn the country apart, and experts are worried that Aramaic, already designated as "definitely endangered," will be a casualty.

Since late 2013, Maaloula has been held by the Nusra Front, an Islamist extremist organization affiliated with al-Qaeda, which prompted a number of Christians to flee the village. This week, after an intense battle, Syrian forces reclaimed the town. The civil war has taken its toll: The once-picturesque tourist attraction for pilgrims is now full of charred homes and bombarded churches and monasteries.

The damage - and continuing violence in Syria - could mean that the refugees do not return, which would be a significant blow to Aramaic.

"Aramaic, which has been transferred from one generation to another for thousands of years through the inhabitants of Maaloula and their collective memory, could die today because the villagers fled their homes heading toward different destinations as refugees," says Monsignor Makarios Wehbi, a priest at Ottawa's Sts. Peter and Paul Melkite Catholic Church who hails from Maaloula and has been active in preserving his language.


It is a beautiful village, carved in the Qalamun Mountains in Syria. Maaloula is more than 2,000 years old and is home to a number of ancient Christian sites and monasteries, including two of the oldest monasteries in the history of Syria and Christianity - St. Sergius and St. Thecla - making it a tourist destination for pilgrims.

Its population of 10,000 drops in the winter to fewer than 5,000 people, as many residents move temporarily to Damascus and Beirut to escape the cold.

But in the Syrian civil war, Maaloula is also strategically significant. The village is located near the main road that links Damascus to Homs, which is considered an essential supply route. That is why the government was eager to retake Maaloula from rebels - to cut off their supply routes and give the government more control of central Syria.

The exodus of Christians over the past year has worried experts, who fear that Aramaic speakers will integrate into their new communities and eventually the language will disappear. And although the village has been recaptured, many believe that the residents will not return because their homes have been destroyed, they are not wealthy enough to rebuild and the insecurity of the civil war continues.

"The village is badly damaged and security is very limited," says one Maaloula resident who did not want to be named for safety reasons. "I do not think we will be able to go there to settle in a long time."

"We are so happy [Maaloula] is free now, but the village is littered with land mines, many parts of it are destroyed and some homes have been torched," says a former resident named Ward, who fled in late 2013 and has taken refuge in Damascus. "Most villagers are poor and I doubt they would have the means to rebuild their homes. And those who have the means are afraid that the general security situation is not stable yet or safe," she added.

There are isolated communities around the world that still speak Syriac or Aramaic, but Maaloula's Western Neo-Aramaic is considered the closest to the language of Jesus. Two small communities near Maaloula - Gubbadine and Baxa - speak a version that is almost the same.

"It is a very critical time in the history of the language," Father Wehbi says. "If the residents of Maaloula finally decide to take refuge and settle in Damascus, Lebanon, Egypt or elsewhere, then we will be facing a risk of losing the language. It would be easier for them to speak Arabic or any other language that their children may use in schools and hear on television or on the streets of the new places where they resettled and lived."


The closeness of the Aramaic of Maaloula to the language of Jesus was first discovered around 1850 when linguists visited the village. This version of the Aramaic language used to be transferred orally, but that changed over the past four decades when George Rizkallah, a professor at Damascus University, began to write wrote poetry in it. Several years ago, the Aramaic Language Institute was established in Maaloula.

Prof. Rizkallah lives in Damascus, where he gives lectures and holds activities with the aim of protecting the language.

Father Wehbi's voice chokes with frustration as he describes the importance of protecting Aramaic, one of the Semitic languages that has various branches, including those spoken east of the Euphrates River - modern-day Iraq and North Syria - and those spoken to the west of the Euphrates, in Syria, in periods of history that predate Christianity.

UNESCO recognizes Aramaic as a "definitely endangered" language, and has called for the protection of Syria's heritage against damages by the civil war.

Father Wehbi is working hard to co-ordinate efforts between Canada and Europe to protect the Aramaic language from extinction. He set up a Facebook page this year - Learn the Aramaic, JESUS language - to teach the language.

He began the individual effort with some of his close relatives to post short lessons and translations of Arabic, English and Aramaic.

He also connected with a Spanish Facebook page on the subject. "Sometimes we post items of the Aramaic heritage of Syria, we post articles and research. We have friends from all over the world," he says.

Arnold Werner, a professor of Semitic languages at Heidelberg University in Germany, has also researched the Aramaic language for several decades - including spending two years in Maaloula in the 1980s - and has written a dictionary of the language.

"We hope [the violence] ends very soon," says Prof. Werner, who is currently in Turkey carrying out research on languages. "This is a treasure of the world and it needs our help today."

Prof. Werner has set up a charitable association, hoping to raise money to help residents of Maaloula rebuild and resettle there when the violence ends.

"This is my duty," Prof. Werner says. "My children lived in Maaloula and loved it. They are determined to help in whatever way they can. It was a shock for us to see what is happening in beautiful Maaloula. We used to attend its famous festivals and religious celebrations. It is carved in our hearts and minds."


George Haddad, a Canadian of Syrian origin from Maaloula, is proud of his village and its grand history. Some of his extended family still lived there when the village was attacked in September.

As he speaks of Maaloula, his voice fades and he collapses into tears. "I feel the pain is crushing my heart of all that happened," he says from Montreal, where he has been living for more than two decades.

Mr. Haddad and several members of his family have been living in Canada for many years, but they never stopped visiting Maaloula. "I always tried to go there regularly in the summers. I love my beautiful ancient village, our summer religious festivals and the tourists. I love everything about it," he says. "I wish I can go back and visit. We all pray that we will have the chance to go back to our homes and to visit Maaloula."

There are about 10 families from Maaloula in Montreal and a few others in Ottawa and Calgary.

Mr. Haddad tries to teach the language to his grandchildren. "For example, I would ask one of them to bring me water in Aramaic words. Sometimes they laugh with excitement that they are trying to speak the language their grandfather speaks."

How doctors are using a simple test in surgery to save blood - and money
The pilot project at Toronto's Peter Munk Cardiac Centre will soon be expanded to a dozen other Canadian hospitals - part of a movement to stem a looming shortage of blood products. Health reporter Kelly Grant and photographer Fred Lum attend open-heart surgery to see how it works
Monday, April 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A6

When Mike Towns went in for cardiac surgery recently, doctors hoped to save two things: his heart, and a few units of blood.

The 69-year-old retired owner of a general store in Duoro, a small town outside Peterborough, Ont., was having his aortic valve replaced at Toronto's Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, where doctors have piloted an innovative bedside-testing regime to reduce the amount of blood and blood products pumped into patients at the end of heart surgery.

The new protocol has driven down the cardiac centre's use of red blood cells by 20 per cent and blood products by 40 per cent, saving the hospital more than $1-million so far.

The pilot project, which is set to expand to a dozen other Canadian hospitals beginning in September, is part of a larger movement toward conserving blood in this country.

Experts say that movement will be critical to prevent blood shortages as the population ages. The older the baby boomers get, the more they are expected to require complex treatments that include transfusions and the less they are expected to roll up their sleeves and donate blood.

It's a looming demographic development that could begin to drain the country's blood banks and drive up the cost of a system that already costs more than $465-million a year in provincial and territorial funding to operate.

"There are calculations that suggest now that our blood has run out ... we only produce just enough to support cancer patients and surgical patients right now. Just enough," said Stuart McCluskey, medical director of the blood-conservation program at Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, which is located at Toronto General Hospital.

"There's a finite amount of donors. This is such an important initiative because the only way to make the balance sheet work is to reduce the utilization of blood when it's not needed."

A 2012 study in the journal Transfusion projected that demand for blood could begin exceeding supply the same year the paper was published.

The researchers dug into the 2008 figures for blood donation and blood use in Ontario - a province they considered a fair proxy for supply and demand rates in the rest of the country - and then extrapolated out to the year 2036. If the trends hold, red blood cell "demand is forecasted to outstrip supply as soon as 2012," the study concluded.

The researchers calculated that, thanks to the grey wave, the gap would widen to a chasm by 2036, when red-blood cell transfusions to the over-70 set would make up 68 per cent of all transfusions, up from 53 per cent in 2008.

So far, the study's early predictions have not come to pass.

Canadian Blood Services, which manages the blood system in every province and territory but Quebec, says there has not been a national blood shortage - defined as less than two days' supply on CBS's shelves - since the agency was founded in 1998 in the wake of the tainted blood scandal.

There have been occasional shortfalls of platelets, the cells in blood that clot to keep people from bleeding, around the Christmas holidays. Those have typically been resolved in a day or two, CBS said. (Maintaining platelet supplies can be tricky because platelets are only good for five days. Red blood cells keep for 42 days and plasma, which can be frozen, keeps for years.)

CBS says donation rates have not budged in a decade, with fewer than 4 per cent of eligible donors rolling up their sleeves every year.

That suggests the lack of shortages is thanks mostly to less demand, not more supply.

"We've actually seen blood demand decrease in the last five years," said Kathryn Webert, medical director of utilization management for CBS. "That wasn't necessarily predicted."

Some of the drop is due to changes in medical technology, Dr. Webert said. For instance, a pleasant side effect of the rise of minimally invasive surgeries has been a reduction in blood use.

But, more importantly, there has been a concerted, if quiet, effort to conserve blood - particularly in Ontario. The head of the province's successful blood-management program, which has saved the province at least $15-million in the cost of red blood cells alone since 2002, is urging other jurisdictions to follow suit.

"What we need to do is change the culture in hospitals. This isn't easy," said John Freedman, director of transfusion medicine at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto and head of the Ontario Transfusion Co-ordinators (ONTraC) program.

Blood transfusions, which are generally safe but carry some health risks, are most often given for reasons that might surprise people outside the medical world. The typical recipient is not the car-crash victim rushed to the emergency room with a bleeding wound; it is the presurgical patient with low levels of hemoglobin in his or her blood, a condition that can be dangerous during an operation.

Hospitals regularly pump fresh blood into patients before elective surgeries because it swiftly boosts red blood cell counts. It seems cheap, too, because neither hospitals nor patients pay for blood.

But there are alternatives to transfusions if anemic patients are flagged early. The blood-boosting drug EPO, best known as Lance Armstrong's doping agent, can increase hemoglobin levels, as can iron supplements or drugs.

"The fact that blood is free to hospital patients in Canada makes it more difficult for us," Dr. Freedman said. "Whereas the drugs, the hospital has to pay for them. The patient has to pay for them."

The ONTraC program, started at St. Michael's and now in place at 25 Ontario hospitals, dispatches nurses to guide elective-surgery patients in raising their hemoglobin levels without a transfusion before going under the knife.

Transfusions rates at participating hospitals have plummeted. Rates dropped 64.3 per cent for coronary artery bypass surgeries and 86.9 per cent for knee surgeries between 2002 and 2013; they fell 59.6 per cent for prostate surgeries and 62.2 per cent for hip surgeries between 2005 and 2013.

"Programs like this make the requirement for blood less and this plays a major role in the reduction in shortages," said Dr. Freedman, noting hospitals can also take less blood for testing and use a machine called a "cell saver" to wash the blood patients lose during surgeries and return it to them.

The new bedside testing regime at Peter Munk Cardiac Centre takes blood conservation a step further. Its goal is to use rapid tests at the end of a surgery to pinpoint as much as possible what kind of blood product a patient might need - platelets, plasma or red blood cells - to make blood clot as quickly as possible.

In the case of Mr. Towns, the results were good news. "Already I have enough information to tell us this guy isn't going to have any clotting problems," Keyvan Karkouti, deputy chief of anesthesia at Toronto General Hospital, said as he watched the results roll in on computer screen in a tiny lab down the hall from the operating room.

Sure enough, when Mr. Towns came off the heart-lung machine that kept him alive while surgeons sewed a new equine tissue valve into his stopped heart, he did not bleed enough to require red blood cells, platelets or plasma - even though he initially seemed to be "wet" (still bleeding) before doctors closed his chest.

Before the new testing protocol, "chances are 60 to 70 per cent he would have received a transfusion," Dr. Karkouti said.

But now the surgical team is mindful of conserving a precious resource.

"We're not claiming the tests alone have made all the difference," Dr. Karkouti said. "It's the awareness, the whole package."

Smart energy challenge changes the office building
When landlords and tenants enter into friendly competition, the consumption of energy and water can come tumbling down
Tuesday, April 8, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B7

Since its inception in 2011, Toronto's Race to Reduce has encouraged office building landlords and tenants to work together to cut energy use. Just over three years into the program, participants have reduced their energy consumption by 9 per cent, nearing the 10-per-cent target two years ahead of schedule.

The 175 buildings taking part represent 67 million square feet of commercial space - about one third of all the commercial office buildings in the Greater Toronto-Hamilton area.

Only 100 of those buildings, accounting for 54 million square feet, were included in final 2012 findings. But those 100 buildings have made significant progress, organizers say.

"[It's] the equivalent of taking 3,598 cars off the road," said Brad Henderson, senior managing regional director for CBRE Global Corporate Services.

"The total potential for the Toronto market, which is 165 million square feet, if all of them were able to reduce by 10 per cent, that total is 11,500 cars."

Reducing energy usage can present a hurdle for some of the older, less efficient buildings, particularly in Toronto, where the real estate is amongst the oldest in the country. Many of the buildings in the Ontario capital are approaching the end of their 25- to 30-year life cycles, according to Greg Moore, senior managing director for CBRE Project Management Canada.

"We're now in an era where we have knowledge workers and they're demanding a higher level of quality of their work environment," he said. "And if landlords and building owners don't adapt they will become the dinosaurs of the real estate industry and their buildings will become vacant."

Many of Toronto's prominent firms are doing their bit to help achieve these goals, using methods ranging from simple to cutting edge.

Here's a look at three.

Toronto-Dominion Bank

Striving to be as green as its logo, TD has renovated half of its corporate headquarters, located at the intersection of King and Bay streets in a cluster of iconic black towers, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the first of which was completed in 1967.

The company's 1.97 million square feet of office space were "overlit," says Roger Johnson, senior vice-president of enterprise real estate for the TD Bank Group. With artificial lighting accounting for 38 per cent of all energy use in the average office building - by far the highest drain on energy - a lighting retrofit of the Toronto-Dominion Centre using energy-efficient bulbs has reduced energy use by 3.5 megawatts, the equivalent of 35,000 tonnes of carbon-dioxide emissions a year.

Motion sensors turn off lights in empty rooms and passages, timers put computers to sleep if they sit unused for a period of time, and cleaning staff now work during the day throughout nearly the entire 90 floors that TD occupies predominantly in five of the six towers, which are owned by Cadillac Fairview.

"We have reduced our energy consumption in the towers by doing what we've done by 40 per cent," Mr. Johnson said of the company's efforts since 2008. "That's staggering. We're saving more than $1-million per year."

The company's future at Bay and King isn't necessarily set in stone, however. Despite achieving high-level LEED certifications for existing buildings on four of the six towers, the TD Centre will never have the capability of some of the newer, more modern buildings currently going up around Toronto. In January, the bank put an RFP into the market to explore options when its lease comes up for renewal in 2018, Mr. Johnson said.

Royal Bank of Canada

Royal Bank of Canada has taken a different direction from TD, leading the corporate shift from older building stock to Toronto's brand-new south core and to LEED-certified modern buildings.

The company has vacated much of the Front Street corridor it occupied between Blue Jay Way and Simcoe Street to move into new, purpose-built buildings. Most prominent among those is the RBC Centre at Simcoe and Wellington, which has been certified LEED gold, and the new Waterpark Place III on Queen's Quay, which opens later this year and will be Toronto's first new office tower certified LEED platinum.

In addition, RBC completely stripped down and rebuilt its aging office at 180 Wellington St., replacing the building's facade, energy systems, generators and electro-mechanical systems to build what Nadeem Shabbar, vice-president of corporate real estate for RBC, calls a "state of the art, Class A building."

Within its properties, as both an owner and a tenant, RBC has developed a four-pronged plan to reduce its energy consumption. The first initiative is daylight harvesting, which involves using as much natural light as possible, and incorporating RBC's Digital Addressable Lighting Interface, or DALI system, to synchronize with the building's automated lighting systems to make up for any deficit.

RBC has also incorporated daytime cleaning where possible to reduce its energy usage, and at RBC Centre, this move has allowed the company to save almost 250,000 kilowatt-hours annually.

The third prong to RBC's plan is to raise employee awareness and education through devices such as TV monitors at Royal Bank Plaza, which offer real-time updates on the building's energy consumption and tips for employees to bring that total down.

Finally, RBC has promoted alternative work environments, such as hot-desking or hoteling.

"It's early days so I couldn't put a figure on it," Mr. Shabbar said, "but I would say we'll hit double digits in energy savings in the office buildings within the next 15 to 18 months."

Starwood Hotels

As one of the world's largest hotel and leisure companies, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. has a prominent footprint in downtown Toronto. It owns the Sheraton Centre opposite City Hall and manages the Westin Harbour Castle on the waterfront.

While both facilities opened in the early to mid-1970s, both are still big players on the Toronto tourism and hospitality scene, with the pair welcoming more than one million guests in 2013.

Starwood has set itself a "30, 20 by 20," goal, in which it is attempting to reduce its consumption of energy by 30 per cent and water by 20 per cent by the year 2020.

Starwood examined all of its practices to find savings.

"Everything from the basics, such as what kind of light bulbs are we using, what kind of water, faucet aerators and all these sort of things that we use around the properties, the simple, easy fixes come first," said Jennifer Bauchner, director of rooms and sustainability for Starwood's North America operations.

Starwood also engaged its guests to become part of its sustainability programs, inviting them to "Make a Green Choice," offering vouchers or loyalty points for those declining housekeeping during their stay.

At the Westin Harbour Castle, Starwood uses Bullfrog Power to power its lobby and restaurants with green electricity, while Sheraton is currently retrofitting all exterior windows in all guest rooms to drive down heat loss.

Both hotels also use ORCA machines for disposing of organic waste. The ORCA system eliminates the need to haul away massive amounts of food waste to a landfill by accelerating the breakdown of organic food matter, and can turn more than one ton of organic food waste into environmentally safe water within 24 hours.

"A lot of this work does take upfront investment, but it does lead to a saving, and that saving is usually in energy or water, and energy is really one of the largest expenses that any property has, so it's actually a very easy business case when you look at it that way," says Ms. Bauchner.

Campus renewal project goes a step beyond lean
When planning a $47-million expansion, St. Jerome's University chose a new design process. It gives architects, contractor and the university equal say - and keeps costs down. Globe writer GUY DIXON sat in on an integrated project delivery meeting
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B7

MISSISSAUGA -- It's like constructing a building backward.

Architects, construction companies and their clients normally exist in silos, waiting for the other to finish their work. Yet there's a design process that allows the three to work together, but it requires them in a sense to work in reverse.

Called integrated project delivery (IPD), it has a growing number of converts, at least judging from the palpable enthusiasm at one design meeting for a new 360-room student residence and academic building at St. Jerome's University. The Roman Catholic university is located on the campus of the University of Waterloo in Ontario. Students from one school regularly take classes in the other.

The new St. Jerome's buildings are being designed by committee. The university's administration has had a hand in the plans from the start, from the size and configuration of the raked lecture halls in the academic building to the smallest furniture details.

No detail seems too small. At one of the preconstruction IPD meetings, all three parties discussed whether indoor trees in the academic building should be grown from the floor or from heavy, movable pots. They didn't strike an accord on that one. Time was pressing at the meeting.

Another issue was the problem of placing emergency fire hydrants in the stairwells of the student residence. As representatives of St. Jerome's noted, stairwell hydrants had been vandalized at another university by students wanting to see what a staircase waterfall would look like.

All of these design choices have to be mapped out, so that all parties are part of the decision-making process. Designing by committee may sound time-consuming, but typically it means that all choices, put into three-dimensional computer renderings, can be agreed upon by the main parties and by other building specialists involved at the beginning with fewer changes later.

At the meeting in a warehouse-sized room at the Mississauga branch office of construction company Graham Group Ltd., a computerized flowchart of tasks was projected for everyone to see.

Graham is leading construction for the St. Jerome build. Diamond Schmitt Architects is the designer. And administrators from St. Jerome are involved at every stage. Each design detail is charted, from plans for a particular mechanical space in one of the buildings to architectural revision work for the college's chapel. Each task is given a completion time and inserted into the flowchart. Some of the smaller tasks may take just 30 minutes, but each needs to be checked off for all to see.

"We're working backward from outcomes. In other words, we have milestones, and then we have things we need to get done to deliver these milestones," said Art Winslow, project director at Graham.

"This says when we need to get something done, and let's work back to see how we get there. It's working almost exactly in reverse of the norm," added David Dow, a principal at Diamond Schmitt.

On another wall of the meeting space, every significant construction cost is printed on spreadsheets and posted. This unorthodox transparency, as the IPD process has slowly gained ground in the building industry over the past decade and a half, has mirrored the movement toward lean construction and finding ways to streamline the design process, hopefully making it more efficient.

All forecasted costs are monitored by everyone. As another example, the projected overall cost of the campus development was due to come in at $47.5-million, more than the originally projected cost of $47-million. The goal, then, by all parties is to bring down that overall cost estimation, rather than have it be a nasty surprise for the client at the end, as it might have been with a traditional design project.

Another graph showed the estimated total fees for the construction engineers and architects. Originally projected to wind up being around $1,485,500, those were actually under budget a few weeks ago at a projected $1,077,000 in total costs. For this project, the design and preconstruction phase won't take longer than if it was done the traditional way. Construction is set to start in June and finish by early 2016.

Darren Becks, vice-president of administration at St. Jerome's, said this collective approach depends on finding the right kind of architects to work with - a firm willing to work non-traditionally.

Mr. Becks did most of the original research on using the IPD approach for the university's redevelopment. He had been in touch with Howard Ashcraft at San Francisco law firm Hanson Bridgett, a key figure in formulating the legal framework for the IPD method in recent years and who helped St. Jerome write its request for proposals for its development.

"The architects are the ones who have normally held most or all of the process at the front end. And they've had to now [with the IPD method] share and embrace a whole bunch of other trades and professionals, and a group of owners, to essentially tweak and poke and peck and critique the process to arrive at the best value for the client," Mr. Becks said.

"We wanted to find an innovative way that would allow us to be more collaborative, but also to manage the risks of undertaking a build of this size for an institution our size," he added.

Said to be the first postsecondary educational building project in North America using the IPD approach, the method does seem best suited to institutional buildings where costs are key. And while agreeing that the IPD approach may be less suited to a building in which an architect is given free rein, Mr. Dow of Diamond Schmitt said that IPD could still be possible with an architectural gem, so long as those costs were understood from the get-go.

IPD is best seen as a relationship contract (a working relationship between all parties), rather than a traditional, transactional contract (where the architects and construction company works for the client.) In the latter, the architects and the contractor don't have a legal tie. In IPD they do.

"In this arrangement, the three of us - the contractor, the architect and the client - are all signing one mutual contract. All three of us are legally bound together. So that's a very strong distinction," Mr. Dow said.

"And within that agreement there are various clauses that limit quite significantly the times where we can apportion blame or sue each other effectively. For lots of things on a typical project, I might end up suing, or he might end up suing me. Those are taken off the table," Mr. Dow said. "So therefore, it's better for us to work together. It's a legal framework to help enforce the collaboration."

Indeed, the drive to make this succeed adds to the proselytizing conviction in the room, despite the long hours that the meetings entail. Each party said that the process should bring out the best in everyone.

"And it does that because it mitigates the risk," said Katherine Bergman, president and vice-chancellor of St. Jerome's. "I know what this whole thing is going to look like from beginning to end before we ever put a shovel in the ground."



Academic building

Building gross floor area: 2,087 square metres - two storeys plus mechanical penthouse.

Six classrooms, including some theatre-sized, and student study spaces.

Placed north of the chapel, the academic building redefines the entry to campus.

Residences building

Building gross floor area: 9,765 square metres - seven storeys plus mechanical penthouse.

Ground floor - pantry, rooms for TV, games, music, study, gym-multipurpose and fitness.

A total of 360 beds on six floors.

Source: Diamond Schmitt Architects

Calling all Canadians who bring great business ideas to life
With our new Innovators at Work contest, we're seeking talented individuals who are moving their industries - and the country - forward. Their vision and risk-taking are exactly what Canada needs for a vital future
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B10

Creators, innovators and entrepreneurs tend to be intrinsically motivated to do their work. Their drive, in other words, often comes from within - from engagement and curiosity, and not from carrot-on-a-stick rewards such as profit or fame.

It's why the minds behind many of today's most successful businesses eschew traditional measures of success - why Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard, for instance, or why Steve Jobs took an annual salary of a dollar: They let their output speak to investors while their personal fate hung in the balance.

Not all innovators make it to the Fortune 500, though, in spite of their dedication or even their impact. Most act quietly, particularly in the bastion of modesty called Canada, taking risks and developing products and processes that shift the paradigms of their sectors a little or a lot.

More often than not, these people leave a measurable influence on their industry, if not broader Canadian prosperity and productivity.

Today, The Globe and Mail is launching the Innovators at Work contest to recognize those Canadians whose entrepreneurship has made an indelible mark on their industries and communities. The series will profile creative business minds who not only come up with innovative ideas, but also see them through to fruition to change the life of Canadians for the better.

Innovators have "a combination of spark, depth and practicality," says Sheldon Levy, president of Ryerson University in Toronto and one of five panelists who will determine the winners of the Innovators at Work contest. "I would describe it as the ability to almost see what others don't see, in identifying an opportunity to improve the status quo."

The simplest ideas - say, getting e-mail on your phone - have made some Canadians transformational innovators. "Take an example like BlackBerry in its earliest days. It's the ultimate invention innovation," says panelist Paul Waldie, editor of The Globe and Mail's Report on Business.

True innovators, Mr. Waldie says, think beyond traditional business models and products. "They get out of their niche, out of their comfort zone," he says. The willingness to acknowledge failure helps, too. "I think humility's a real part of being open to new ideas and new ways of doing things."

Unearthing Canadian business talent is crucial, says Doug Watt, director of industry and business strategy with the Conference Board of Canada. In today's sluggish economy, he says the country puts too much emphasis on its raw resources, including lumber and oil and gas, and isn't focused enough on creating new value among those resources and working toward greater productivity.

The country ranks just 14th in global competitiveness worldwide, according to the World Economic Forum.

"If you have a lot of a good thing, sometimes people rest on their laurels, recognize what they're doing is serving them well, and the continue along that path," Mr. Watt says.

The Conference Board released a 129-page report this week examining how companies, governments, educational institutions and individuals can better promote innovation. "Canada is at a stage in its developed economy where it needs to be innovative, to create new value and opportunities with the talent and resources we have," Mr. Watt says.

The deck, however, is improbably stacked against Canada's creative problem-solvers: Not only is Canada "weak" at promoting business innovation, according to Conference Board research, but traditional education systems rarely encourage the type of thinking that leads to innovation.

Tony Wagner, expert in residence at Harvard University's Innovation Lab and author of Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World, says today's culture of schooling is also to blame, and "fundamentally at odds" with learning to be an innovator. Reward and punishment for grades and advancement, he says, don't help these "intrinsically motivated" people who become innovators.

Still, many parents and teachers have pushed against the norm, helping young people to become creative problem-solvers by encouraging "play, passion and purpose," Mr. Wagner says. These people grow to take risks, make mistakes, work collaboratively, and cross the borders of disciplines and specializations to try new ways of thinking.

They become innovators - whether working alone or as part of an effective team.

"The characteristics I look for in innovators are a balance of creativity and discipline. This is hard to find in one person," says Innovators at Work panelist Annette Verschuren, chief executive officer of NRStor Inc. and former president of Home Depot Canada. "But teams that have a balance of creative/strategic thinking and execution capability are the best."

By clearly describing their products and services, understanding their markets, and carefully planning, Ms. Verschuren says, innovators can execute their ideas even in an ever-changing environment.

"It starts with putting yourself into the perspective of the people your business will serve," Mr. Levy says. "This goes with the practical reality of recognizing that ideas by themselves are cheap, and that execution is the challenge. Execution is a team sport, and it is about far more than just the technical side, it involves critical strategies in marketing, human resources and business planning."

Innovators at Work panelist Bill McFarland, CEO and senior partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers Canada, says innovation "is not about another program driven by 'champions' within an organization.

"It's about a culture that allows everyone in the organization to challenge the norm, take risks and do things differently," Mr. McFarland says.

Peers, colleagues, clients, associates, friends and family can nominate the innovators in their life for the Innovators at Work contest - people who have ideas, and the ability to turn those ideas into something tangible, be it product, policy or business model. The Globe and Mail will profile those nominees weekly this spring and summer, and the panel of judges will announce 12 winners in September.



Innovators at Work is a series and contest about talented people across key sectors of the Canadian economy and society who not only have great ideas but who also help to turn those concepts into reality through their actions. They get the job done with impact.

We seek to highlight these people, many of whom are not famous but who nonetheless have had a significant and measureable influence on not only their industry, field or discipline but have in some demonstrable way improved the lives of Canadians.

Their peers, colleagues, clients, friends and family recognize them as people who have ideas combined with the ability to turn those ideas into something tangible, whether it's a business, a product, a theory, a policy, a service, a model, productivity, competitive edge or a positive disruptive change.

Who are they? You tell us - and our panel of judges will select the top 12 Canadian Innovators in September.

Definition of an innovator

Individuals who, through their ideas and subsequent actions, have made a significant impact on their business, sector, institution or profession to a degree that Canadian society has benefitted.

Nomination criteria

- Nominees must be living Canadian citizens or permanent residents, residing either in Canada or internationally.

- Must have had a demonstrable achievement that has positively affected or influenced others or actions in the areas of natural resources, manufacturing and retail, finance and professional services, science and technology, public sector and academia, and health.

How to nominate

To nominate an innovator that you know, please go to:



Sheldon Levy

President of Ryerson University in Toronto.

Annette Verschuren

Chairwoman and chief executive officer of NRstor Inc., formerly of Home Depot Canada.

Daniel Debow

Senior vice-president at, co-founder of Rypple.

Bill McFarland

CEO and senior partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

The kid makes the picture
Meet Jaxzen Sandell: director, producer, raconteur, Grade 7 student
Friday, April 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R1

Most filmmakers have a predictable list of people to thank when their work arrives on the big screen. Their actors, the producer, the screenwriter, perhaps even an agent will all get special praise. When Jaxzen Sandell's first film premieres at TIFF Kids this month, he'll likely give a shout-out to his homeroom teacher, Ms. Partridge.

It was Ms. Partridge, after all, who late last year, before her retirement, suggested that Sandell and his Grade 7 classmates at Bowmore Public School, in Toronto, each make a movie and submit them to the TIFF Kids International Film Festival Jump Cuts program. Sandell was eager to pick up a camera and start shooting.

"Our teacher expected us to make storyboards and everything. I started making storyboards and then I got bored so I started filming," the 12-year-old recalls.

Sandell's movie, Flat, is one of just 14 films in the Grade 7 and 8 category, selected out of nearly 100 submissions from across Ontario that will be screened at this year's TIFF Kids festival. The film, with a running time of five minutes and 45 seconds (all entries had to be under eight minutes), uses stop-motion animation to tell a story about two drawings in love who are separated by an evil tablet that makes one of them into 3-D Plasticine while the other is trapped on paper. A representative for the festival said the movie was chosen as a finalist because of its "very impressive" blend of various types of animation.

"I was kind of fond of the whole Romeo and Juliet idea," Sandell says.

Like most storied films, Flat ran into its share of production troubles.

Sandell took so many photographs for the stop-motion animation - just more than 2,000 - that they crashed the family computer.

Then, he had to learn to use iMovie."We had a big problem with editing. It took two days to figure out how to use iMovie. My mom helped me figure it out and I did the editing myself," Sandell says.

But the largely improvised, do-it-on-the-fly aspect of making the movie suited the director just fine. "Sometimes you just have to go with what feels right at the moment," he says.

Besides, it's not as if he wasn't prepared. Sandell has wanted to be a filmmaker since he saw Enchanted, a Disney movie starring Amy Adams that puts a different spin on princess stories, in 2009.

"Before then, I only liked watching cartoon movies because I was younger," Sandell says. But Enchanted, which his older sister had shown him, led him to decide to become a filmmaker. "It had a different formula from normal Disney movies."

Since then, he has gobbled up DVD commentaries to learn everything he can about making movies. His favourite directors include Steven Spielberg, Tim Burton and Hayao Miyazaki, the director of Spirited Away. And, Sandell adds: "I like the work of Brad Bird."

He's already thinking big: Sandell's dream project is a series of three or four animated musicals.

"I would want to get a big cast," he says. "I like Jim Carrey. I like Will Ferrell. I like Kristen Wiig. I like Jonah Hill. He plays a good side character. I feel like Leonardo DiCaprio is a bit too serious for what I want to do for certain movies. But I wouldn't mind working with him. And mind you, all of these actors will be pretty old by the time I become a really good director."

He does want to make live-action movies, but he always knew that Flat would be animated.

"I wouldn't say there are more limitations to being live action because you can certainly do more. You could jump around. It wouldn't be so hard to actually make. I just felt like there's more craftsmanship and more personal kind of influence that went into an animated movie because it has your own artistic style. It's like looking at a painting that came to life," Sandell says.

He's already planning his second film, a claymation short about the Mexican Day of the Dead, which he expects to shoot this summer. It's the next step toward one day launching his own moviemaking company.

"I plan on starting from scratch," Sandell says. "Blue Sky Studios, that's what they did. They just made a short and then went off and made Robots."

He wants to go to film school, but his education has already begun. He's currently learning Final Cut, a video-editing software, and Toon Boom, the animation software. And he hopes to get RenderMan, the visual-effects industry's gold-standard software developed by Pixar. At the moment, though, he's looking forward to the premiere of Flat at the festival.

"It will be very, very exciting. I'll probably be sweating a lot," Sandell says.

Now that he's got his first movie under his belt, he is absorbing the lessons of sitting in the director's chair.

"What I liked about it was just the idea that I'm able to bring the story to life. It's like a buzz kind of feeling when you're doing it. It's not that sort of excitement when you say, 'Oh, I can't wait to be done.' It's more of a feeling like, 'I can't wait to accomplish this.' I guess it's just different words, but it makes a difference," he says.

And then there's maybe the most important lesson of all that Sandell says he's learned from the process.

"I know this is going to sound kind of cheesy, but follow your instincts, and go where your heart takes you."

Jaxzen Sandell's film, Flat, screens as part of the Jump Cuts Young Filmmakers Showcase on April 17 and 19.



Disneynature's Bears

Directed by Alastair Fothergill, who's been called the "Spielberg of nature films," the new True Life Adventures film from Disneynature, about a year in the life of a family of brown bears in the Alaskan wilderness, makes its Canadian premiere on April 11.

The House of Magic

The festival's closing-night film, on April 19, is also a Canadian premiere. The House of Magic is an animated movie about a cat who lives in the house of a retired magician. Director Ben Stassen will be on hand for a post-screening Q&A, and a "special guest" magician will also be on hand to teach kids tricks.

Big Bird in the House

The yellow Sesame Street superstar will give a special introduction to Elmo the

Musical on April 13. Kids in attendance can get their photos taken with Abby Cadabby, Elmo and Cookie Monster before or after the screening.


Described as "where great kids' books meet flash mobs," StoryMobs will be part of a special event where kids and adults will bring to life the book Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, on April 19. There will be a screening of the movie afterward at this free event.

Easter Treat

With the festival falling on Easter Monday this year, it is extending programing on April 21. There will be screenings of the award-winning films as voted by festival audiences and TIFF Kids juries, meaning there'll be one more chance to check them out. DigiPlaySpace, the interactive space inside TIFF Bell Lightbox, will also be open.

Dave McGinn

The TIFF Kids International

Film Festival runs April 8 to 21.

Visit for details.

A hike to the summit of Whistler Mountain leads to stunning views that even beginners can experience - if they're not scared by boulders the size of condos and ice that stretches upward at 45-degree angles
Special to The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, April 22, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1

WHISTLER, B.C. -- Cedar branches brush the top of the Rocky Mountaineer as the train chugs through the camping area at Porteau Cove Provincial Park. It's early morning. Shadows move between the blurring tree trunks - chopping wood, preparing breakfast. Campfire smoke quickly fills the narrow, outdoor vestibule behind the double-decker car.

The trees give way to an open bay and everything shifts into slow-motion: ocean, mountains, summer sky. In the distance, passenger cars snake around a rock outcrop. This is exactly what I imagined while playing with model trains as a kid.

These tracks date back to the early 1900s and the Pacific Great Eastern Railway. Small towns and oceanfront vistas give way to wooden trestles and untouched wilderness. On the final approach to Whistler, the scene could easily pass for 100 years ago.

In a way, it's history that has brought me on this trip. A couple weeks ago, I found a photo of my father from the 1970s, posing by a glacier in a Grizzly Adams beard and a coil of rope. All cracking ice and crunching rock, it's the kind of photo that made me want to add ice climbing to my bucket list.

Dad trekked in the Columbia Icefield between Jasper and Banff throughout the 1970s, but I've decided on a challenge closer to home: the summit of Whistler Mountain.

Whistler Alpine Guides offers a guided ice-hike that covers the last couple kilometres to the peak. It's a half-day experience that includes crampons, ropes and ice picks along with the convenience of hopping on to a chairlift to return to the village. Perfect for a beginner like me.

Our train arrives in Whistler at a couple minutes past noon and there's no time to waste. Our bags were sent in advance to the Chateau Whistler so we head straight to the gondolas in the village. We meet our guide, Chelsea Sullivan, at a small, wooden lodge across from the Peak 2 Peak gondola.

We're over an hour late, but she tells us not to worry.

"Looks like you're already on mountain time," she jokes while outfitting us with harnesses, boots, ice picks and helmets.

"You'll fit right in here."After a few waivers and a quick lesson on how to use our picks, we're off. We follow a packed dirt trail up to the summit through purple fireweed and moss so green it glows neon in the midday sun.

The white patch of snow that Sullivan keeps pointing out looks tiny: more of a slope than a climb. But as we scramble over a final series of boulders, I realize why our guide spent so much time talking about safety. The pitted, aquamarine ice stretches upward on a 45-degree angle.

Many of the boulders around us have trails in the snow that lead toward the summit - leftovers from small avalanches that occur throughout the year. One rock is the size of a condo bedroom. As I try to imagine dodging something of that size, my eyes are drawn to a red streak above the lip of the glacier. It looks like the blood of hikers past.

"Cold feet?" Sullivan asks with a smile. "Don't worry. That's watermelon snow. It's a type of algae."

Crampons affixed and safety rope in place, we begin to climb diagonally up the ice face. I stop halfway to catch my breath. With the exception of meltwater running beneath the ice, it is completely silent.

As we get closer to the summit, the physical effort involved also climbs - this is more strenuous than an easy mountain hike - but it's worth it. Mountain range after mountain range unfold across the horizon like a carnival fun-house mirror. It's one of the most amazing alpine experiences I've encountered.

Still, after a good night's sleep, we decide to up the ante with Blackcomb Aviation at Whistler's heliport. Hiked out, we settle on a chopper landing on Ipsoot Mountain's main glacier, roughly 1,800 meters above sea-level.

Cloud cover and sporadic rain nearly scuttle our plans, but our pilot, Andrew Murdock, eventually spots sun breaking over Garibaldi Park and up we go.

For the first 10 minutes of the flight, I feel like an egg in an Easter basket. Cliff faces collapse into valleys then reassemble into mountains and vanish into high clouds. Before my inner ear can adjust, we're gliding along a glacial crevasse, then landing in middle of a massive ice field. Yesterday's glacier is an ice cube in comparison.

We lift off and speed along the meltwater. Murdock clears his throat and says, "I saw this shot in a movie once. Want to try it?"

Seconds later, we're flying sideways down a waterfall, staring directly out the windshield at the valley floor. Murdock straightens out last minute. He flies along Rutherford Ridge, then follows a slender creek to the heliport.

Back in Whistler village, we agree that our alpine theatrics deserve a one-of-a-kind après. A close friend of mine is the former general manager of Bearfoot Bistro, a fine-dining restaurant that also doubles as the resort's culinary amusement park. He suggests we check out Bearfoot's vodka room - reputedly the coldest such tasting bar in the world.

Owner André Saint-Jacques greets us at the door like long lost family, with kisses on either cheek and a bear hug. From there, our evening devolves into calculated chaos: Sawmill Bay oysters on the ice bar, sabring bottles in the private cellar and a dinner with wine pairings under chef Melissa Craig's watchful eye.

After three courses, we're ready for the vodka room. With courtesy parkas, vodka-lined walls and a -32 C ambient temperature, this is my kind of sensory-deprivation tank. Mid-tasting, our host produces a custom "shot-ski" affixed with four, boot-shaped glasses. It elicits no shortage of volunteers.

The combination of liquor and sub-zero temperatures makes me instantly nostalgic for my first snowboarding trip. I consider calling my father to talk about following in his alpine footsteps, but after the shot-ski, the bartender makes a wise suggestion: "Sending a photo would probably be best."

The writer travelled courtesy of Tourism Whistler. It did not review or approve this article.



By rail, the trip to Whistler from Vancouver takes three hours on the Rocky Mountaineer. From $269 round-trip;

A less expensive option is the two-hour Pacific Coast Lines (PCL) bus ride from Vancouver. From $55 one-way;

What to do

Whistler Alpine Guides offer a variety of tours for climbers and hikers of all skill levels. A lift ticket is required for the Glacier Walk, Glacier Hike and Via Ferrata tours to the summit of Whistler Mountain. Tours range from $79 to $119 per adult;

A customized, glacier walk or touchdown by helicopter with a guide or naturalist offers a one-of-a-kind glimpse into British Columbia's alpine playgrounds. Located at Whistler Municipal Heliport, Blackcomb Aviation offers shuttle service to and from Whistler village. Tours begin at $123;

Where to Stay

The all-season Fairmont Chateau Whistler is conveniently located at the base of the Wizard Chairlift to Blackcomb Mountain. A post-trek soak in the outdoor whirlpools is a must. Rooms from $219 a night in the shoulder season leading up to summer;

Sean Horlor

Mammoth revival
Almost frozen out, the Cadillac Escalade heads up a herd of big luxury beasts that have carved out a profitable niche
Thursday, April 17, 2014 – Print Edition, Page D1

Russian scientists recently unearthed the remains of a wooly mammoth, an immense, tough, elephantine beast that went extinct about 10,000 years ago. Given the remarkably well-preserved nature of the corpse - hair, bones, blood, and marrow were present and intact - there has been discussion of the possibility of cloning this animal and allowing this deceased species to rise from the evolutionary graveyard.

Cadillac has just reincarnated its own immense, tough, elephantine beast: the all-new 2015 Escalade, which will arrive in dealerships throughout Canada in the next few weeks. Despite its similarities to that prehistoric pachyderm, this luxurious four-wheeler never actually suffered an extinction event.

Sales of basic, large-scale SUVs like the Chevrolet Suburban, GMC Yukon and Toyota Sequoia have fallen by as much as 40 per cent from their peak 10 years ago. With the rise in gas prices in the mid-2000s and the plummet in the economy a few years later, many "casual" full-sized SUV users abandoned these vehicles for mid-sized crossovers, smaller SUVs, or mid-sized cars.

But buyers of Brobdingnagian luxury behemoths like the Escalade - along with its brethren the Infiniti QX80, Mercedes GL and Lexus LX 570 - remain fiercely loyal. Despite any commodity dips, spikes or corrections, each of these vehicles has sold consistently at around 20,000 units every year.

Who is still buying these leather-lined, chromed-out, gas-hungry land yachts?

According to Alexander Edwards, president of automotive industry research firm Strategic Vision, these buyers have some significant differences from the typical luxury buyer. They are more likely to be married and from Generation X. They're twice as likely to have minor kids living at home, and four times as likely to have three or more. And they're less likely to be college grads - though their household income is about two-thirds higher than that of a typical luxury buyer.

Consumer purchase decisions do not occur by compulsion through their slotting into a demographic profile. There are myriad emotional and behavioural needs, known to marketers as psychographics. "People are not simply buying these vehicles because they have a lot of money and a lot of kids," Edwards says. "They're buying them because they have a lot of money and a lot of kids, and a lot of needs that can't be satisfied by a smaller vehicle."

Strategic Vision's surveys of nearly 1,000 owners of vehicles in this category demonstrate that buyers use these big rigs for a multitude of discrete but interrelated tasks. In addition to acting as a shuttle for their atypically extensive broods, they're also utilized as an all-wheel drive, all-weather hauler - for safety reasons. They find use ferrying a large family-sized hoard home from a big box store or shopper's club. They have the capacity to tow a boat, a camper or an off-road vehicle, be it a snowmobile or an ATV. They're also an easy way to tote around aging parents, for whom climbing up into the vehicle's wide doors via step-up power running boards is simpler than climbing down into an average sedan.

Most importantly, says Edwards, buyers see enough value in these vehicles' combination of functionality, safety and luxury to justify the high five-figure purchase price. (The 2015 Escalade starts at $79,900). To wit, these big SUVs are laden with technology and creature comforts like touch-screen navigation; multiple integrated on-board entertainment systems; rows of heated, cooled, and/or power-folding seats; high-end leather, wood and metal trim; and collision avoidance systems like adaptive cruise control, automatic braking and a plethora of airbags. They also tend to be equipped with the highest output and/or most sophisticated powertrain choices within their segment. For example, the new 2015 Escalade will sport a 6.2-litre, 420 horsepower V-8 borrowed from its famous General Motors stable-mate, the Corvette.

While their sheer scale prevents fuel economy from taking a high place on consumers' list of must-haves, efficiency improvements from advanced six- or seven-speed transmissions, direct injection, and cylinder deactivation (shutting down parts of the engine to conserve gas) means that they can return real-world consumption that lands just this side of the purely profligate.

Because buyers see these vehicles as being both highly utilitarian and highly indulgent, they are able to rationalize their purchase as one that would otherwise need to be filled by two vehicles. "Rather than having a luxury sedan and a utility vehicle," Edwards says, these consumers tell themselves, "I can get this alone."

Buyer fealty and the limited number of choices within the segment mean that the introduction of a new model usually results in a significant bump in market share without altering the total number of vehicles sold in the category. With its all-new offering, Cadillac may see its Escalade sales evolve, stampeding itself back into first place in the pack.



Cadillac Escalade

The Escalade has always had presence. But where previous generations used to privilege audacity over refinement, the all-new model is at once extremely luxurious and extremely imposing, without being simply a blunt instrument.

The exterior clearly communicates this notable transition, with softer and less flashy chrome trim (and less of it), jewel-like LED head and tail lamps and a crisp profile that looks more lithe and taut - if such adjectives can be applied to a vehicle that, in extended wheelbase ESV trim, weighs 2760 kilograms and is nearly 5.7 metres long.

The most significant upgrade is in the interior. The materials feel as exclusive as those in the rest of the Cadillac line - exquisite leathers, intriguing veneers of real wood, satin-finish metals and delightful trim in unexpected places like the chrome caps on the end of the dash, visible only when the doors are open. The cabin is also equipped with the latest tech and safety features, like active cruise control that follows the car in front of you at a safe distance up to your preset speed, and a full suite of emergency collision avoidance features. Unlike the outgoing Escalade, there's a truly adult-friendly third row of seats, which power down and fold flat - like the second row - at the touch of a button, and can feature their own 9-inch LCD entertainment monitor.

And while the Escalade sports the category's most potent V-8 engine, the passenger compartment is remarkably quiet. Cruising at highway speeds, the big eight-pot chugs in almost electric silence, barely infringing on the cabin occupants' conversation, while providing plenty of muscle when needed. (0-100 km/h in 6 seconds.) We only wish the premium Bose stereo had a power and depth of sound to match its clarity.

Mercedes-Benz GL

The category best seller, the GL is smooth, luxurious, quiet, and almost minivan-esque - unless you order it with the raucous 550 horsepower 5.5-litre twin-turbo V-8 in the GL63 AMG version.

Infiniti QX80

With its high-shouldered stance, tall forehead and low eyes, the Nissan luxury brand's SUV most resembles an actual elephant - on the outside. Inside, it's more like a luxurious private jet.

Lexus LX570

The Lexus of SUVs has the brand's signature insulation, effortlessness and technical perfection. But it's mounted on the aging Toyota Tundra truck platform, which may be nearing the end of its life cycle.

Brett Berk

Fonda Lola's food is fun and tasty. End of story
Saturday, April 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page M5

In a simpler time, in a city that wasn't overpopulated with cheap, cheerful and generally decent little restaurants, a casual new quasi-Mexican spot just off the Ossington strip wouldn't need an elaborate origin story.

But this is not a simple time. The origin story for Fonda Lola, which opened last fall, has all the you've-got-to-be-kidding-me gravitas of a Hollywood old testament disaster flick. A highlight: Fonda Lola partners Andres Marquez (front of house) and Howard Dubrovsky (kitchen) did not merely take an eating trip or two to Mexico in the run-up the restaurant's opening - or, God forbid, spend some real time there, like a year, say, and put in the hard work of really learning the cuisine. Instead, they conducted a pair of - their words - "culinary fact-finding missions," as if Ban Ki-moon had personally written them letters of passage. One of these culinary fact-finding missions was to attend the wedding of the restaurant's other partner, Ernesto Rodriguez, as it happens; the other was to eat and drink around Mexico City for a week.

Another tidbit, which has been swallowed whole and dutifully regurgitated around town in the last few months: Fonda Lola serves, "traditional Aztec recipes inherited by Marquez from his anthropologist aunt."

Which of the following Fonda Lola menu items do you think are "Traditional Aztec recipes"?:

a) the deep-fried panela cheese poppers;

b) the hand-held Caesar salad;

c) the jalapeno-candied bacon;

d) the anatomically-correct special-order churros that have their own instagram hashtag (it's #churropenis, in case you're interested) and come shaped like a gentleman's reproductive bits?

The downside to this sort of origin story, to the sort of empty hype that's endemic to new city restaurants of late, is that it sets expectations irreconcilably beyond the grasp of reality. It's doubly disappointing when, as with the case of Fonda Lola, the restaurant is actually pretty good.

Fonda Lola is cheap, and friendly. The service, run by Mr. Marquez, is charming; he has a habit of describing dishes as: "The best thing you're gonna eat this year," and "better than crack." (I'm pretty sure I know where Fonda Lola's hype machine spends its evenings.) The food is tasty, for the most part. A night at Fonda Lola can even be a little fun.

Mr. Marquez, who is 31, emigrated from Mexico City when he was a teenager. He worked most recently as director of operations and partner with the Milagro restaurant mini-chain.

In Mexico, a fonda is a simple spot that serves home cooking. Fonda Lola's partners have taken that simple approach to heart.

The little room feels as though it was thrown together on a shoestring: the tables are bare wood and tiny; the walls corrugated metal. The crowd is young and happy and almost exclusively female, if my two visits there were any indication. (Did I mention that Mr. Marquez is charming? Where most of us cast mere shadows, Mr. Marquez casts a trail of swoon.) Mr. Dubrovsky, 34, is best-known as a television chef. When I wrote a few years ago about L.A.B., Mr. Dubrovsky's short-lived vegetarian/modernist spot on College Street, I described him as, "long on ideas and moxie, but short on actual restaurant cooking experience." That holds true today.

What saves Fonda Lola's kitchen is the simplicity of its intentions; the cooking isn't meant for over-thinking. That candied bacon, though. It is quick-cured with maple syrup and jalapenos, so that the smoke and porkiness and buttery fat - the bacon strips are barely rendered - are layered with sweet and tongue-searing spice.

I wanted to hate that bacon for its prediluvian, kegger-at-the-frat house reductiveness. I couldn't hate it. Only my shame kept me from ordering a second round.

That Caesar salad was also good. It's a taco, essentially, made with butter lettuce instead of a tortilla, filled with chopped romaine and dressing and with Parmesan cheese and more of that bacon candy. The trout aguachile - ceviche, effectively, but with far more than the usual spice and an inch-deep puddle of lime juice - is one of the tastier ceviches I've had of late.

Mr. Dubrovsky's baby kale and arugula salad was excellent. (Kale and arugula were common ingredients for ancient Aztec juice cleanses and conscious uncoupling parties, I am certain.) His kitchen dresses them with a mix of agave syrup and lime, tosses the leaves with toasted pumpkin seeds and crunchy, juicy chayote batons, and then finishes the works with a scattering of softly floral hibiscus dust.

Other dishes were humdrum. The guacamole is whipped smooth here and hadn't been lightened with enough acidity either time I tried it: it tasted like avocado-flavoured mayonnaise.

There's a fish dish, made with cod both times I had it, that pairs beautifully-seared pieces of fillet with a thick, musky-tasting purée of sweet potatoes. These did not work well together. It seemed like a waste of cod.

As for the tacos al pastor, that epically delicious mess of meat marinated with toasted chiles and spices and then slow-cooked for hours and wrapped with pineapple in warm tortillas - Fonda Lola's tacos al pastor are nothing like that. Mr. Dubrovsky doesn't slow-cook his meat. He quickly sears it. It's Mexican food, but with a family-size tin of bland thrown in. The churros are very good; the caramelized goat's milk cajeta sauce they come with is even better. If you want the ones that come shaped like man bits, you need to special-order them 24 hours ahead. I am glad of that.

When I spoke this week with Mr. Marquez I asked him about all those historic Aztec recipes. The restaurant hasn't really started with them, he said, adding that they'll begin appearing in earnest in coming weeks.

He told me that the highlights will include a recipe they're working on for a raw, vegan sort of mole that the Aztecs once used as a marinade for human sacrifices.

I have no idea how much of that last sentence is true; I do know for certain that it gets my mierda-detector jangling.

And I know that at the back of Fonda Lola's cramped little dining room, Mr. Marquez has installed a life-sized cardboard cutout of The Most Interesting Man in the World, the charming but epically mendacious man from those Dos Equis beer commercials.

So stay thirsty, my friends. And maybe a little bit skeptical too.



Fonda Lola

942 Queen St. West (at Shaw Street), 647-706-9105

no web; Twitter: @fondalola

Atmosphere: A cheap, cramped and cheerful west-side room, populated by young (ish), happy people. Loud.

Wine and drinks: Good tequila cocktails spiked with kombucha; smart tequila and mescal selection; two beers; one red and white wine, both plonk.

Best bets: Kale and Caesar salads; trout aguachile; candied bacon; quecas; frijoles; panela poppers; churros. For parties of four, try the "Mexican fiesta," aka the entire menu.

Prices: Small-ish plates, $5.50 to $13.

NB: Vegetarian and vegan dishes are a specialty.

A Cheap Eats pick, where you can dine well for under $30, before alcohol, tax and tip

A fighter in and out of the ring, Hurricane Carter dies at 76
Monday, April 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A1

Rubin (Hurricane) Carter, a professional boxer who served nearly 20 years in prison in New Jersey after being wrongfully convicted of a 1966 triple murder, became an international figure after his release as an advocate for others jailed for crimes they did not commit.

Mr. Carter, a cause célèbre in the 1970s whose plight was dramatized in a song by Bob Dylan and later in a 1999 movie starring Denzel Washington, died on Sunday in Toronto after a battle with prostate cancer. He was 76.

His long-time friend, John Artis, who was also wrongly convicted with Mr. Carter for the same crime in 1966, confirmed the death in an e-mail to The Globe and Mail. Mr. Artis had been caring for Mr. Carter over the past three years as his condition worsened.

While seen by many as an inspiring figure after his 1985 release, Hurricane cultivated a much more menacing persona when he took up pro boxing as a middleweight in 1961, with his fighting style of quick punches earning him his nickname.

His background matched the image. He had served more than four years in prison for assaults and robberies. At age 12, after assaulting a man he claimed was a pedophile, he was sent to a reformatory, from which he would escape. He had also spent two years in the army, serving in West Germany, where he got into boxing.

Born on May 6, 1937, in Clifton, N.J., Mr. Carter says he was bullied about his stammer, forcing him early on to learn to respond with his fists.

The story of Hurricane later put into song and film begins on June 17, 1966. In the early morning hours, two black men shot and killed the bartender and two white patrons, one man and one woman, of the Lafayette Bar and Grill in Paterson, N.J.

Riding in his car nearby, after a night spent at local nightclubs, was Mr. Carter, then 29. Actually at the wheel that night, because Mr. Carter had been drinking, was Mr. Artis, a 19-year-old acquaintance who had hitched a ride from a bar. Another man was also with them in the car.

Looking for the suspects, police pulled them over, but let them go, since they were looking for two black men, not three. They were stopped again about 10 minutes later after the other man had been dropped off.

Police took them to the scene of the crime, and then to the hospital where a survivor of the attack who had been shot in the head was asked if they were the killers, and did not identify them. The initial descriptions given by witnesses did not match Mr. Carter and Mr. Artis. They were interrogated, given lie-detector tests and released. A grand jury would later fail to indict them.

But in October, police arrested both men and charged them with the murders. At their 1967 trial, an all-white jury would convict them based largely on the testimony of two local petty criminals, Alfred Bello and Arthur Dexter Bradley.

While in jail, Mr. Carter published his 1974 book The Sixteenth Round and sent it to celebrities, including Muhammad Ali - whom he knew from his boxing days and who would put up his bail before his second trial - and Bob Dylan.

Mr. Dylan soon met with Mr. Carter and helped organize two benefit concerts. With theatre director Jacque Levy, Mr. Dylan wrote the 8 1/2-minute song Hurricane in 1975 that made Mr. Carter's story widely known.

The prosecution's two main witnesses, Mr. Bradley and Mr. Bello, would both recant their testimony, leading to a second trial in 1976.

Two witnesses that provided alibis for Mr. Carter also recanted, saying they had been encouraged to lie at the 1967 trial. Hopes for Mr. Carter and Mr. Artis soon faded. Mr. Bello recanted his recantation, reverting to his testimony from the first trial that labelled Mr. Carter as the killer.

At the 1967 trial, the prosecution had also argued that the killings were a "racial revenge" plot, meant to avenge the death of a black tavern owner who was the stepfather of a friend of Mr.


A jury, this time with two black jurors, once again convicted Mr. Carter and Mr. Artis of first-degree murder and they were sent back to prison.

In 1979, an illiterate black teenager named Lesra Martin, who had been plucked from his home in Brooklyn by a Toronto-based commune that wanted to help him learn to read and write, picked up a copy of The Sixteenth Round.

Mr. Martin, now a lawyer in Kamloops, B.C., became fascinated by Mr. Carter, and learned to read partly by going through the documents in his case. At his urging, others in the commune decided to try to help the former fighter gain his freedom, moving down to New Jersey to be close to him. They became known as "the Canadians," in the various retellings of Mr. Carter's life story.

Mr. Carter's principal lawyers, with research assistance from the commune members, won a last-ditch hearing for their client, after all his other appeals were exhausted. (Mr. Artis had been paroled in 1981.)

On November 7, 1985, U.S. federal judge H. Lee Sarokin sided with Mr. Carter, saying the prosecution failed to disclose Mr. Bello's lie-detector tests, which raised serious questions about his recanted testimony, and wrongly pursued what he declared a prejudicial "racial revenge" theory.

After prosecutors declined to press charges a third time, Mr. Carter was finally free and moved to Toronto to live with the commune and Mr. Martin. He married commune leader Lisa Peters, but by the early 1990s, the marriage crumbled. He then broke with the commune, bucking at its control over him after so many years in jail.

Before the rupture, Mr. Carter and the Canadians got involved in the beginnings of the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted.

Toronto lawyer James Lockyer was fighting to free Guy Paul Morin, a Toronto-area man wrongly convicted of raping and murdering a nine-year-old girl, and Mr. Carter and the commune also got involved.

Mr. Carter would become the association's executive director. For the next 11 years, he was the front man for its efforts to free those jailed for crimes they did not commit. He and Mr. Lockyer would become close friends.

But in 2004, Mr. Carter would resign from the association in anger, and break off all contact with Mr. Lockyer. He had demanded that the association do more to protest against the appointment of the prosecutor behind Mr. Morin's conviction as a judge.

Mr. Carter soon started his own small organization, Innocence International, to fight for prisoners he felt were wrongly convicted.

Even as his health deteriorated, he sent a letter to the New York Daily News in February demanding the release of Brooklyn man David McCallum, whom Mr. Carter said was wrongly convicted of murder and jailed in 1985.

"I am now quite literally on my deathbed and am making my final wish, which those in authority have the power to grant," Mr. Carter writes, adding that he would be surprised if he sees heaven after his death.

"To live in a world where truth matters and justice, however late, really happens, that world would be heaven enough for us all."

Doing the math for rapid-transit growth
Calculations about crowding are at the top of a lot of local minds lately as Vancouver embraces a love affair with mass ridership
Saturday, April 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

VANCOUVER -- Get a roll of tape and use it to outline a square one metre by one metre on the floor. Find three friends. Stand inside that box with them. For 20 minutes. Perhaps 30.

Does that feel comfortable? We hope so. Because that is the golden standard that transit planners in North America use to decide whether a bus or a subway car is too crowded - or underused. Four is just right. More than that is not. But we hope you're okay with two more friends inside that box with you occasionally.

You'd better be, since that's what it gets like for a couple of hours a day at peak rush hour in the growing metropolis of Vancouver, especially on the region's ever-more-popular rapid-transit lines.

And, according to the authorities at this city's regional transit authority, no one is going to order a few million dollars worth of new subway cars just to alleviate that. Not until the system is heading for five and six people in that box for more than just rush hour.

"There is a comfortable ride most of the day. If the fleet is only going to be busiest for that 15 minutes of the day, it doesn't make sense to deploy resources only used for that 15 minutes," said Jeff Busby, the director of infrastructure planning at TransLink.

But that four-person-per-square-metre formula, along with other mathematical calculations about the maximum crowding permissible on platforms, elevators and bus stops, is at the top of a lot of local minds lately as Vancouver embraces a continent-wide love affair with transit.

Cities are racing to put in more light-rail, rapid-bus and train lines. Commuters, pushed by high gas prices and pulled by the attractive new lines, are flocking to use them. Transit ridership is at its highest point since the 1950s. And office and home builders are talking about nothing but transit-oriented development these days.

That's producing jammed lines, still more condos and offices being planned along them, and a scramble to figure out how to accommodate that explosive growth.

That's nowhere more evident than around this region's Richmond-Vancouver Canada Line, which has exceeded all projections for ridership.

Many Vancouver residents who came out to a recent public hearing to express their opinions about a 2,900-unit megadevelopment at the Oakridge Centre mall - which sits on top of the 41st Avenue station of the Canada Line - said the line is already at capacity. So how, they wanted to know, will there be any room for the 50,000 or so new residents about to arrive all the way along the line, from Richmond Centre to downtown?

"TransLink can't meet the current demand," said Sophie Petric, a former nurse who lives a few blocks from Oakridge. "Even in off-peak hours, I've been on when it's already pretty full. I don't have any confidence anyone is looking at the whole thing."

Vancouver is one of a very small group of cities at the forefront of that kind of demand.

"I think this is going to start happening in all the cities that are planning transit successfully," said John Renne, a U.S. expert in transit-oriented development based at the University of New Orleans and the managing director of a real-estate development company, the TOD Group. "It's a growing pain."

At a January meeting at the U.S. Transportation Research Board, Mr. Renne said he and other participants heard for the first time about a new urban problem - too many people on transit.

Washington is going through something similar to Vancouver. It has so many developments planned along the local lines that the director for Metro, the transit agency, told the Washington Post last fall that "the system is kind of busting at the seams."

Mr. Renne said such transit jams have people talking about new kinds of planning, to try to even out the demand so people are travelling both ways on the system to homes and jobs. In the meantime, everyone locally is trying to figure out how to plan - or pay for - increased service along the lines as density coagulates along those municipal arteries.

It's the job of Mr. Busby's department at TransLink to figure out where all the people and jobs are going to be 10, 20 and 30 years from now - and when to trigger a higher level of service or expansion.

The current work being done to stations all along the Expo line are the result of that kind of planning. When the line opened in 1986, it had a capacity of about 12,000 people per hour per direction (pphpd, in transit-planner speak). Just before the Olympic Games opened in 2010, the agency got 48 new cars, which boosted the capacity to 16,000.

The Expo line had started to exceed the four-person-in-the-box standard in 2007. Now TransLink is in the slow process of spending $1-billion to create larger platforms and more escalators, and add more cars to boost the capacity to 25,700 by 2031.

There's a similar plan in place for the Canada Line - some day. Contrary to what a lot of people think, the Canada Line - which looks dinky compared to the honking trains that run in large metro systems like London, Toronto or Paris - has a lot of capacity. Even though the line only has two-car trains, the Canada Line's driverless, automated system allows TransLink, if it has enough cars, to run trains much closer together than a Toronto-type operation.

Mr. Busby says TransLink could increase the capacity of the current system just by running trains every two minutes, instead of the three minutes and 20 seconds that its private partner is currently required to provide. The two-minute intervals would increase the capacity from 6,100 pphpd to 10,000 pphpd. (And currently, he points out, the system is running at only 5,500 pphpd.)

"We have included all the estimates for regional growth, development along Cambie and in Richmond and, even by 2045, we can suffice with these two-car trains."

More growth after that? The agency could extend the platforms (which were deliberately designed for that eventuality) and add one car to each train.

Of course, the problem with all of this is money. TransLink has been stuck in limbo for four years, trying to get the province to agree to new sources of money for additional service and expansions to the network. In the meantime, it's struggled just to keep up with growing population.

The province has insisted there be a regional referendum to get the public's say on new money. That has created massive public uncertainty.

"Citizens ... know a million people are coming. They know that [adding density] is the right thing from a textbook perspective," said Richard Walton, the chair of the TransLink mayors' council and the mayor of the District of North Vancouver, which is going through some painful public hearings at the moment about its official community plan. "But they say, 'We're not prepared to put our faith in the three levels of government to come up with the funding for the services. We hear your ideology but we don't believe you can get there.'"

For the record, there's one Sam's left
In a Belleville mall you'll find the last outpost of the once-mighty Sam the Record Man, a modest end to a chain that was anything but
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, April 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page M6

You can spot the sign from the food court. In a corner of Belleville's Quinte Mall, past the chain stores that populate what must be every mall in Southern Ontario - a Peoples Jewellers here, a Claire's there, a Winners down the hall - are three chunky red capital letters that mark the very last outpost of a Canadian retail-music empire: SAM. A good two hours' drive east on Highway 401 from the corner of downtown Yonge Street that a chorus of spinning neon discs once lit up, in a city with a population of 49,454, is what's left of Sam the Record Man.

"I never thought that I would be the last Sam the Record Man," says Spencer Destun, 74. "We didn't plan on it." It's a wintery Tuesday afternoon, and Mr. Destun is at his desk in the Belleville store's back room, overstock CDs piled up on shelves behind him. His 41-year-old son, Krystofer, is sitting on an empty wooden LP crate, wearing one of the store's t-shirts, which feature the flagship store's façade, "THE LAST" stamped above the "SAM" in the "YES THIS IS SAM THE RECORD MAN" sign. (The shirts go for $19.99 each.) Holly Destun, 54, Spencer's wife, is out front, using a pricing gun on a stack of CDs.

It's a modest end to a chain that was anything but. Sam Sniderman started selling records out of his family's radio shop at 714 College St., near Ossington, in 1937. By the late fifties, newspaper ads with what had become Sam's trademark enthusiasm ("ANYBODY CRAZY ENOUGH CAN SELL AT THESE PRICES BUT ONLY 'SAM THE RECORD MAN' DOES!!!") were already boasting that the store had the largest record selection in the country. Then came Yonge Street: after a short stay below a furniture store at Dundas, Sam's opened up the block at Gould on Sept. 5, 1961, its sprawling interior "organized with all the finesse of a steamer trunk packed by somebody given five minutes' notice to leave the country," as Toronto Star writer Gerald Levitch put it in 1979.

But that wasn't big enough for Sam's. Jason Sniderman, who started working in his dad's store as a seven-year-old and became the company's vice-president in the eighties, says in a phone call that "the idea was to have the chain spread as widely as possible across the country." And it did: huge stores opened in cities such as Montreal, Vancouver, Halifax, Hamilton and Edmonton, and smaller ones opened everywhere. There were somewhere between 125 and 150 at the height of the chain's popularity, Mr. Sniderman guesses. "I travelled with my dad all the time," he says. "Whatever airport he was in, he was recognized as being Sam the Record Man."

As Sam's grew, so did the sleepy Canadian music industry. Before the chain took off, Mr. Sniderman remembers, "you could never contemplate a Canadian music business with people selling 10,000 records, let alone millions." But Sam Sniderman stocked locals - Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Anne Murray, the Guess Who and Buffy Sainte-Marie, to name a few - and helped change all that. "I think that's his true legacy," he says.

In May, 1979, Spencer Destun opened his first Sam's franchise store in downtown Belleville; Ms. Destun was the manager. He opened a second a few years later in Trenton, Ont., then closed it and opened another in Quinte Mall in 1985. For a while, remembers Mr. Destun, "we were basically the only game in town - when I say we, I don't mean Sam's: I mean the music industry. ... we had a lot of people coming into our store because they didn't have other options as to where to go and spend their entertainment dollar. It was easy that way."

But by the late-nineties, music-sharing services such as Napster and competitors such as HMV had left Sam's share of a shrinking market at only 9 per cent, according to Billboard magazine; it had once been 25 per cent. When Sniderman Radio Sales and Service Ltd. declared bankruptcy in October, 2001, "People would come into the store and say, 'When are you closing?' and I'd say, 'We're not closing,'" remembers Mr. Destun. (By then, the family had already shuttered the downtown Belleville store. In the 1990s, Mr. and Ms. Destun added one last Sam's, in Kingston; that, too, had since closed.) Other franchisees weren't so lucky, and by the time the last two corporate-owned stores, in Halifax and on Yonge, closed in 2007, only the Belleville and Sarnia, Ont., franchises were left. By the time Sam Sniderman died in 2012, the Quinte Mall Sam's was it.

"Even though we could probably exist by calling it something else, we would lose all the cachet that is involved in the Sam the Record Man name. Now, that cachet is quickly disappearing," Mr. Destun says. "So it's very, very important that we work at keeping this name alive."

Last spring, they launched, to save locals from neighbouring municipalities such as Port Hope, Bancroft and Cobourg from having to make the long trip into town. And they've started focusing on vinyl records again, since it's what twenty- and thirtysomethings have started coming back to the store to buy.

"We're carrying on an idea that seems to have had its day," Mr. Destun says. But, he adds, "we're not quite so sure we can't blend it into something else."

Still, vinyl makes up only 3 per cent of their sales; online sales account for less than 1 per cent, and it doesn't seem like many young people are buying there yet-the site's current three best sellers are 16 Biggest Hits by John Denver, 1964-1971: Very Best Of by the Rolling Stones, and 1974-1978: Greatest Hits by Steve Miller. The locals who sell in-store, meanwhile, are acts such as Freddy Vette (a local DJ who fronts a fifties cover band) and Andy Forgie (a local DJ who fronts a Beatles cover band). Were it not for DVDs, "we would've been out of business five years ago, six years ago," says Mr. Destun.

Everyone is quick to point out that today is a slow day - "a snow day," says Krystofer, with a shrug - but there are more of those now than there used to be. On a good day a decade ago, the store could make 500 sales; on a good one now, they'll make 250; this day, they'll barely hit 50. "A music store is not sustainable any more," says Spencer. But a Sam's, they hope, still might be, at least as long as their customers keep following the instructions on another sign that greets them just inside the store's entrance. "THANK YOU! For keeping us in business!", it reads. "Buy lots!!!"

Record Store Day - which this year sees independent music retailers across Canada and elsewhere stocking exclusive vinyl releases from artists such as R.E.M., Green Day, Bruce Springsteen and Coldplay - is this Saturday, April 19; Sam the Record Man (390 N. Front St., Belleville, in Quinte Mall) will be open 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

A high cost to living
Hazardous levels of air pollution ni the Chinese capital are making it increasingly difficult for Canada to find qualified people to staff its embassy. Foreign companies face similar challenges, Nathan VanderKlippe reports from Beijing
Thursday, April 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A10

As China's acrid air exacts a mounting health toll, Canada's embassy in Beijing is pouring taxpayer dollars into purifying pollution, spending $175,000 in the past two years to buy crates of high-end filters for its staff.

Faced with growing difficulties getting people to Beijing - and keeping them once they arrive - embassy officials are also looking at compensation for workers whose stays in China stand to permanently damage their health.

"It has become a major problem, and unfortunately it will take many years for the situation to improve," said Guy Saint-Jacques, Canada's ambassador to China, in an interview Wednesday. The embassy, which has 70 Canadian workers, has seen qualified candidates drop out of competition for jobs after assessing the Chinese air quality. Staff with families in China have also declined to extend their postings "because they are concerned about the pollution," he said.

Staffing concerns have become an acute problem for foreign companies and countries operating in China, where air quality regularly descends to a level considered hazardous to human health. In Beijing, pollution ranks as the top concern among two-thirds of companies recently surveyed by the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China. It's also driving wealthy Chinese out of the country, as those with the means are ordering family members to flee to places where children don't risk lifetime consequences from merely breathing.

"The number of millionaire families that have air pollution as one of their top reasons to leave China for Canada" has become a palpable trend in recent years, particularly among those with asthmatic children, said Richard Kurland, a Vancouver immigration lawyer who, through access to information requests, unearthed an early 2013 e-mail showing the Beijing embassy's initial plans to buy more air purifiers.

He offered sympathy for embassy workers in China. "People don't realize that the foreign service of Canada is not a cakewalk, and gone are the days of champagne and fancy parties," he said. "The reality is that a significant number of Canadian embassy posts are hardship postings."

Mr. Saint-Jacques said he discussed the smog problem with senior officials in Ottawa last week. He said it is important to "look at all the measures that we could put in place to reassure people."

That extends to money. The Japanese company Panasonic in March announced it would offer extra "smog pay" to expat workers in Beijing, and Mr. Saint-Jacques has been asking other companies what they give their employees.

"Based on all those comparisons, we are also looking at what else could be done to make sure that we meet the fiduciary obligations of the government toward the employee," Mr. Saint-Jacques said.

Beijing is already considered a Level 4 hardship post by the Canadian government, placing it in the company of Bogota and Caracas. (Cities such as Baghdad and Islamabad are Level 5, the highest.) The Level 4 calculation, which is based in part on local pollution levels, qualifies a worker with a family of four in Beijing for roughly $15,000 in annual hardship pay.

The embassy has spent heavily to protect its Canadian staff in their Chinese homes, too. Over the past two years, it has purchased 106 Blueair air-purifying units at a cost of $81,000. It spent another $93,000 on air filters, which are expensive and must be changed regularly, and a further $2,500 on an air-testing unit.

That unit has been deployed to employee homes on bad-air days to make sure the filters are working properly and ensure air meets World Health Organizations guidelines. If there are problems, more filters can be installed.

In one case, a family stopped using a bedroom after a leaky window allowed foul air to enter.

The embassy has not purchased filters for its Chinese staff, saying its obligations to local workers extend only to keeping a healthy workplace at the embassy. It has, however, brought employees into briefings with local hospital officials and Health Canada.

Mr. Saint-Jacques has also begun considering much more drastic measures - such as barring some vulnerable family members from China.

The embassy wants to "to look, in the long run, at what else we should take into account. Because, to give you an example, there are some missions around the world where we don't allow children," he said. The government is "not at the stage" of making such a decision, he said. But, he added: "If you expose a child to severe pollution below the age of eight, they could have permanent damage to their lungs."

The bad air isn't all bad for Canada, however, as the embassy also seeks to mill profit from the smog. Among its most recent priorities is finding business opportunities for Canadian companies whose technologies may help solve the Chinese pollution problem.

Next week, a delegation of Canadian nuclear energy companies will come to Beijing to market the Candu reactor. British Columbia has actively courted Chinese buyers for liquefied natural gas, which when burned produces fewer harmful emissions than coal.

And in March, the embassy arranged for SaskPower, which has scrubber technology for coal-fired power plants, to make a presentation in front of China's powerful National Development and Reform Commission.

It is working to do the same for Airborne Energy Solutions, a Calgary-based company whose technology promises to cheaply remove virtually all traces of particulates, sulphur dioxides and other nasty byproducts from coal stacks. Airborne uses sodium bicarbonate - baking soda - as a scrubber, and turns the scrubbed material into fertilizer.

"We can remove the pollution and turn it into [something clear], like a Saskatchewan day," said Murray Mortson, Airborne's president, who lives in Beijing.

But it's a small company and hopes the embassy can place it in a room with people powerful enough to offer intellectual-property protection.

"My shareholders and myself don't want to build one unit in China, and then lose everything because someone steals it," Mr. Mortson said.


Pollution is shortening lives in China and, by some accounts, is the main cause of social unrest in the country. One report said people in northern China may be dying five years sooner because of air pollution-linked diseases. In February, President Xi Jinping said air pollution was the country's "most prominent" challenge.

Public concern over air pollution exploded last January during a smog crisis in Beijing. Levels of PM2.5, the particles posing the greatest risk to human health, peaked at 35 times the World Health Organization's recommended limit. State-backed media provided surprisingly critical coverage of the crisis.

Coal still provides about 65 per cent of China's energy and it will take years to reverse the country's dependence on polluting fossil fuels. Fumes from coal-fired power plants kill about 250,000 a year in China, according to former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, now a UN special envoy on cities and climate.

By the end of June, all building sites in Beijing will have to install cameras to monitor how much construction contributes to the city's notoriously polluted air. In addition, all building firms will have to use fully enclosed vehicles to carry earth to prevent it from being blown into the air.

Sources: Bloomberg News, Reuters

Having fostered the careers of such cutting-edge designers as Ann Demeulemeester and Dries Van Noten, Belgium's second city has first-rate cred among the world's style savants. But as Amy Verner discovers during a 48-hour jaunt, the town isn't resting on its laurels. These days, an equally impressive group of innovative up-and-comers is following in their forebears' footsteps. And did we mention the shopping?
Friday, April 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page 18

Compared to fashion centres such as New York and Paris, Antwerp feels positively quaint, sleepy even. Its luxury boutiques line intimate laneways instead of grand avenues, while the avant-garde looks associated with the city are more likely to be spotted hanging on a rack in a hidden-away studio than on the backs of the throngs of Belgians who stroll from shop to shop on sunny Saturday afternoons. That low-key feeling also marks the collections of the city's many designers. Rather than committing to an identifiable Belgian style, the only common denominator among them (including big names such as Raf Simons, Kris Van Assche and Ann Demeulemeester) is a resolute individualism.

This, of course, is what makes Antwerp such an intriguing fashion destination. Thanks to its prestigious Royal Academy of Fine Arts and the legacy of the Antwerp Six, a group of designers (including Dries Van Noten, Dirk Bikkembergs and Walter Van Beirendonck) who banded together in 1986 to launch their idiosyncratic collections in London, Belgium's second-largest city has become a must-stop on the grand garmento tour.

"Back then, we were really convinced that you could tell a lot through fashion," says Van Beirendonck, reflecting on the mid-eighties rise of Antwerp's fashion industry. The designer, who continues to present his collections in Paris, has been the director of the Royal Academy since 2007.

We are sitting in one of the school's airy studios before one of his classes. Two floors below is ModeMuseum (or MoMu), Antwerp's fashion museum. The entire building, known as ModeNatie, also houses the Flanders Fashion Institute and the museum's extensive library, plus a restaurant and shops at street level. It's a unique fashion ecosystem where academia, culture and retail all feed each other.

Just up from ModeNatie is Van Noten's flagship, located in a beautiful belle époque department-store building dating to 1881. There are sneaker shops and streetwear outposts in one direction and artisanal jewellery boutiques in another. Head south and you'll find independent shops, Demeulemeester's minimalist, multilevel outpost and the atelier of emerging designer Izumi Hongo.

Hongo graduated from the Royal Academy in 2010 and showed her first collection of delicate knitwear and printed-silk pieces two years later. After studying architecture in Tokyo, she chose Antwerp for her fashion education because it offered a more personal approach than other options. And she stayed on in the city, not just because her partner is based here, but also because, in her words, "it's peaceful; there's no unnecessary information."

That's a sentiment echoed by Karen Van Godtsenhoven, one of the MoMu curators involved in the recent exhibition timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Royal Academy's fashion department. "Antwerp has a bit more space to develop your universe and it is a quieter place to focus," she says.

Back in the golden age of the Antwerp Six, the national government was grappling with the reality that its textile industry was moving elsewhere. The Royal Academy created a Golden Spindle Award to foster fresh talent, and Demeulemeester was the first to win it in 1982.

Like many other graduates, Glenn Martens (class of '08) credits the vision of former Royal Academy director Linda Loppa for the program's success. !"They really push personal development," he says. Martens now oversees the Paris-label Y Projects and jokes that Antwerp is a "fashion academy island."

The fact that so many designers stay in the city to start their businesses is a testament to its appeal. Damien Fredriksen Ravn, who graduated the same year as Martens, worked for three years on the design team of a commercial label before concentrating on his own line (his showpiece for spring, pictured on these pages, consists of a vest with oversized pockets that has the spongy feel of neoprene, only with better breathability).

A Norwegian, Ravn says he appreciates that there isn't a single specific aesthetic shared among his peers even if, on closer inspection, you can detect a technical similarity or two. "I think you can always recognize how the silhouettes are constructed or the thought behind the concept," he says. "Everyone is taught to think for themselves."

Van Godtsenhoven uses Van Noten and Demeulemeester to illustrate the industry's sense of independence.

"The colour use, the importance of shoes, the playing with masculine and feminine codes - all of this is there, but comes out in very different ways." When Demeulemeester recently decided to step away from her own label, she shared the news via a handwritten note, circulated by e-mail, that included the line, "I always followed my own path"

Over time, the city has gradually realized that it can leverage its free-spirited fashion reputation beyond students. Antwerp Tourism & Conventions has created a Fashion in Antwerp app that includes a local shop directory and a variety of thematic walking routes. For Luddites, there is also an Antwerp fashion map marked with essential retail stops.

"They're not blind," Van Beirendonck says about the tourism initiative. "They see that chocolate is working and diamonds are working, so it makes sense to play that card."


Dramatic entrance

Many sojourns in Belgium's secondlargest city start at Antwerpen-Centraal Station, where this voluminous overcoat by Emmanuelle Lebas competes for attention with Clement Van Bogaert's soaring iron-and-glass train shed. Adjoining the space is an equally grand waiting hall that leads onto Astrid Square. Emmanuelle Lebas drawstring coat, price on request through WeberHodelFeder lace-up oxfords, €695 through

Mas appeal

Like the view of the city and port from Museum aan de Stroom (MAS), Damien Ravn's neoprene vest with oversized pockets is in a class all by itself. Damien Ravn neoprene top, €915, sheer skirt, €280 through WeberHodelFeder lace-up derbies, €595 through

On the markt

Surrounded by Antwerp's iconic guild houses and imposing city hall, the statue in Grote Markt, its main square, depicts the mythical giant Antigoon. During the summer, locals sometimes cool off with a dip in the fountain at its base. Van Hongo gauze vest, €230, silk camisole, €245 at Salon Van Hongo ( Carolina Apolonia necklace made of old book covers, €595 at Beyond Fashion (

Zoo story

One of the stately stone lions that mark the entrance to Antwerp's zoo serves as an ornate counterpoint to Wim Bruynooghe's minimal separates cut from athletic textiles. A green oasis in the middle of the city, the zoo dates to 1843. Wim Bruynooghe stretch jersey bodysuit, €492, jogging maxi skirt, €390 through Emmanuelle Lebas slingback platforms, price on request through

Bell curve

Even when worn with a pair of sporty brogues, designer Nathalie Bries's made-to-order gown, accented with miniature sequins, makes a big impression on the circular staircase twisting through Den Bell, home of Antwerp's administrative offices. Nathalie D'Anvers silkjersey dress, price on request through Tine De Ruysser bracelet made from Mongolian banknotes, €330 at Beyond Fashion ( WeberHodelFeder Velcro brogues, €495 through

New moms determined to raise self-assured daughters often rail against our princess-obsessed culture. But banning tutus and tiaras can give way to a re-evaluation of values - and biases - about gender. Is being 'girlie' so wrong?
Friday, April 18, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1

Shani Halfon had vowed that there would be no pink - a colour she loathes herself - but by the time her daughter was 2, there was no avoiding it: Desta wanted everything to be pink. By the time she went to preschool, she refused to wear pants. Halfon remembers her opening a gift box that contained evening gloves, a purse and a tiara, and watching her dress herself in front of a mirror, and walk away.

"She knew exactly what to do," says Halfon, a Toronto-based child-care researcher. "That was very eye-opening for me. I thought I was going to shape who this person was, and I was so dead wrong. I am only one little piece of what shapes that little human being."

For many still-new mothers determined to raise their little girls as self-assured, take-charge women, the most misguided of sentences begins: "My daughter will never...." Take your pick: Wear a tutu, play with Barbies, worship Cinderella. Then those parental ideals meet child reality, and the feminist fairy tale crumbles. That coveted tiara is often the tipping point - that moment when many a mother finds herself, despite all efforts, defeated by the bedazzled princesses in the pink aisle of the toy store, ubiquitous on cereal boxes, lunch boxes and toothpaste, a nefarious plot to colour every girl pink.

But perhaps Snow White and her frothy cohort are doing them a favour - after all, they're not big on subtlety. The mothers I interviewed for this story admitted that seeing their daughters choose not the prince-rescuing Paper Bag Princess of Robert Munsch's classic but the glammed-up Sleeping Beauty who needed rescuing herself, forced them to look in the mirror and confront their own values, body image and gender perceptions. Suddenly the questions aren't so theoretical: Why does what a little girl wears matter so much? What's wrong with being "girlie?" And who gave pink so much power anyway?

"I thought I'd be vigilant against The Pink. I thought I'd keep them princess-free," explains Andrea Phillips, a New York game designer and writer. But when her daughters wanted the toys and clothes targeted to girls, she found her objections sounded hollow, and worse, a lot closer to the sexist messaging from which she was trying to protect them.

"It was hard for me to come up with an answer that didn't boil down to, 'You can't have it because it's girl stuff, and girl stuff is bad.' And that is what really got me thinking." After all, she says, "The goal here isn't one of conformity - we don't want to build a world of men doing man things with a diversity of genitals. The goal here is one of choice."

And while she cringed at first, she let her daughters choose. When her eldest was 2, Phillips says, she even went through her own "pink phase" that included shoes, handbags and nails - what she now calls a "subconscious act of solidarity." Reconsidering her own values, she says, "I'd suddenly realized that the message I'd received wasn't that women should be equal - it's that women should be men, because women are inferior. And I simply couldn't tolerate that."

Liz Kesten, a Toronto mother, describes her two daughters, Sojourner, 3, and Ibby, 2, as very "rough-and-tumble, adventurous girls who love the concept of good versus evil." But, Kesten observes, "When they do battle with the bad guys, it's in tiaras, ball gowns and heels." That's caused Kesten to wonder if her own view of femininity was too narrow. "You get so contained in roles," she says, "always playing the strong girl, while suppressing the other part," she says. "When you see how fluid they are, it allows for more room in your own life. It's very freeing." Her daughters insisted she wear dresses, which she had always avoided.

Many of the mothers said they made conscious changes to their behaviour- from speaking positively about their jobs, or, as Halfon says, being more aware of the tenor of their male relationships, to not making critical comments about their own weight or appearance, and not referencing celebrities in those terms either. One Ottawa mom stopped painting her toenails after her first daughter was born - partly because time was short, but also because she wanted to delay the conversation about appearance. A Toronto-area mother, who had always shied away from jewellery or frilly clothes - all the things, she says, "that girly girls drool over" - began to reconsider her own biases about tutus and ballerinas. "I've always associated stereotypically feminine traits as being somewhat weak and a disadvantage of sorts. I know this is short-sighted, something I have to work on."

Some moms admitted those conversations led to them examining their own body image, and become more accepting of themselves. "I don't want them to see me having a fit over what to wear, or if something is feeling tight," says Sarah Rani Sharma, a Canadian who's a communications professor at the University of North Carolina. "Raising girls has made me more comfortable with myself.

For Anya Shor, a Toronto art-gallery owner, allowing her two daughters autonomy has required grudgingly accepting that sometimes they will ask for a nauseating story about a fairy who decides her "gift to the world" is making cupcakes. Her five-year-old, Simone, would wear a princess dress everyday if her mother allowed it. (It's at-home wear only.) "I don't want to be the one to say to her that this is crap. Because if anything, it's going to push her in the wrong direction," says Shor. "It's really about nurturing a discernment in my two girls so they can recognize what is truly beautiful for themselves. Even if I want to throw it in the garbage."

But in the end, as Halfon says, pink is just a stand-in for the feminine stereotypes that inundate little girls, and often translate into a swing too far the other way. "Why aren't we teaching our daughters to value their nurturing qualities?" she asks. "If you want to change the world, talk to them about why those things are undervalued."

Nearly four years after writing her book Cinderella Ate My Daughter, Peggy Orenstein recognizes some progress. The Disney princesses, like those in the movie Frozen, have become more independent and feisty. The British department store Marks & Spencer has vowed to stop sorting its toys by gender, even if the merchandise on the shelves is still notably pink versus blue. But now working on a book on teenage girls and body image, Orenstein sees that even highly successful young women are still wrestling with body-image issues, revealing to her the pressure to be the school council president, the math star, all while still "looking hot" doing so. During the interview, her daughter, now 10, and well past play-acting a poisoned, passive Snow White awaiting the prince's kiss, offers her own take: "You never completely escape the Disney princesses."

For U.S. banks, it's a question of when, not if
The Big Three have rewarded those who bought in 2009, but even with 2014's stumbles, there's likely more good news to come
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, April 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B8

The biggest, most global, most complex of the American banks were damaged goods coming out of the financial crisis. The long-term investment thesis, however, was that in time the wounds would heal, and they would unleash their massive earnings power to return to their place as some of the most valuable banking franchises in the world.

Today, five years after the market's bottom, that remains a long-term thesis for Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., particularly after a first quarter that can most charitably be called "mixed." Thanks in part to continuing headlines about multibillion-dollar regulatory settlements, they continue to trade at below-average valuations compared with the broader group of large U.S. banks (and far below the shining stars of Canada).

There are, certainly, things to like in all three companies' financial results, and compelling cases that they are all buys - for the long term. That's because the question, unfortunately, is how long investors will need to wait until the banks' good news overshadows the bad, rather than vice versa.

It is important to point out, of course, that every bank that made it out of the financial crisis alive has rewarded those with the iron guts to buy at the lows. Bank of America, Citigroup and JPMorgan have all tripled or quadrupled since March 9, 2009. And the three did just fine in 2013, with each rising 30 per cent or more.

That momentum has stalled, however, with Bank of America eking out a slight gain so far this year and Citigroup and JPMorgan posting high single-digit losses, making them two of the worst performers among U.S. bank stocks.

A couple of years ago, in fact, it would have been insulting to lump JPMorgan in with this group, since the perception was that JPMorgan emerged from the financial crisis in great shape. That was before the London Whale, a massive derivatives-based trading loss.

Morningstar analyst Jim Sinegal initially viewed the loss "as a one-time aberration," but subsequent problems make him question whether JPMorgan has the conservative culture CEO Jamie Dimon has claimed. "Management's initial underestimation of last year's trading losses, the firm's recent need to add billions to its reserves for legal liabilities, and its need to resubmit [to regulators] its 2013 capital plan, along with a variety of penalties over the last year have justifiably shaken our confidence in the firm."

Wall Street analysts will excuse a certain amount of such things if a company is hitting its numbers - but JPMorgan, which reported April 11, failed to do that in the first quarter, missing estimates for revenue and earnings due to weakness in its mortgage and investment-banking business.

Analyst Gerard Cassidy of RBC Dominion Securities's U.S. arm cut his 2014 earnings estimate to $5.50 (U.S.) a share, but maintains his "outperform" rating. He suggests a "normalized" earnings number for the bank, which he sees occurring "further out," is $7.50 a share, and a price-to-earnings ratio of 10 on that number yields a $75 stock.

Mr. Cassidy, who despite the recent challenges calls JPMorgan "the best-managed money-centre bank of its size," says it has been steadily improving the credit quality in its lending businesses. At the same time, new regulations have reduced risk in its investment banking business. "Though the de-risking will cost the company in near-term profitability, longer term it will reduce its volatility," he said in a note.

Citigroup, by contrast, beat analysts' expectations Monday with its earnings. That was good, because it counteracted a string of bad news earlier this year. The company revealed a $400-million fraud in its Mexican operations in February, then was embarrassed in late March when U.S. regulators blocked its plans to return capital to shareholders through a combination of dividends and buybacks.

Analyst Derek De Vries of UBS Securities, who had been looking for a dividend/buyback combo to serve as a catalyst for the shares, says he believes Citigroup can get approval for its capital plan next year - an important part of any bull thesis. In the meantime, however, the bank reached or exceeded all of its targets with its first-quarter earnings report, he says, and its sizable emerging-markets consumer business beat his forecast, which he said should assuage investors' fears about Citigroup's exposure to the developing world. His $60 target price suggests about 25 per cent upside. "Citi is the least expensive U.S. bank, it is arguably the best capitalized U.S. bank, and it is coming up on easy [second-half] 2013 [comparisons]."

Bank of America's results, released Wednesday, were frequently referred to as "noisy." That can happen when you tell investors you've reached legal settlements worth $3.7-billion, but then set aside $6-billion in a litigation reserve, leading to a loss. The shares were down, wiping out a portion of 2014's gains.

Analyst Joe Morford at RBC's U.S. arm argues that if you can look past the legal expenses, Bank of America reported stronger margins, lower expenses, better credit quality and higher capital ratios. He believes the company, which did have its capital plan approved by regulators, is on track to continue to boost dividends and buybacks in the coming years. His target price of $19 is about 18 per cent above current levels.

James Strecker a debt analyst at Wells Fargo (a bank that, thanks to its greater domestic focus, has avoided getting lumped in with these three) says that the long-expected increase in interest rates is what could truly drive earnings in the banking group. Since Bank of America has $2-trillion (that's with a 't') in assets, an expansion of 0.1 percentage points in its net interest margin could add another $2-billion in lending income per year.

"It's hard to get the timing right, but most folks would agree there's a positive earnings trend for most of these institutions," he said in an interview. "It's just a matter of the time-frame to realize them."

Thurs. close: $16.15 (U.S.), up 2¢

Citigroup (C)

Thurs. close: $48.22 (U.S.), up 4¢

JPMorgan Chase (JPM)

Thurs. close: $55.22 (U.S.),

down 4¢



The biggest U.S. multinational banks are still struggling to emerge from the financial crisis, as they lag their peers (and the far more profitable Canadian banks) in both stock valuation and profitability measures.

BANK / Price to tangible book value / Return on equity for the past 12 months


CITIGROUP / 0.9 / 6.6%

JPMORGAN CHASE / 1.3 / 7.6%

U.S. AVERAGE / 1.6 / 9.1%

CANADIAN AVERAGE / 2.6 / 17.8%


Price to tangible book value is a measure of the company's assets minus liabilities

U.S. average is for a group of 17 large banks including the three listed above

Canadian average is for the country's six biggest banks


Why groceries are going upscale
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B8


Metro Inc.'s store No. 46 is a testing ground for the mid-market supermarket of the future, one that is decidedly more upscale than its predecessor.

The Mississauga store features a lush "wet wall" of fresh vegetables stacked in colourful arrangements, a 2 1/2-metre-long display of mushrooms varieties, hot gourmet pizza, plus local and organic pork and chicken.

Montreal-based Metro isn't alone in transforming the traditional mid-priced supermarket into a premium foodie's destination. After a rush to roll out discount formats in response to new competition and a budget-conscious consumer, grocers are now upgrading their shrinking array of conventional supermarkets, as a way to differentiate them from low-cost competitors.

An upmarket strategy also has the benefit of bolstering financial returns, as the discount grocery wars start to leave a void in the middle, which takes a toll on profit margins. Last year, grocery stores' operating profit fell 9 per cent from a year earlier, according to industry publication Grocery Trade Review.

Conventional grocers are losing ground to discounters. In 2013, the mid-market segment fell to 60.4 per cent of the total estimated $87.54-billion grocery industry, from 63.9 per cent in 2009 and could drop to 50 per cent within five years, said Carman Allison, vice-president of consumer insights at researcher Nielsen Co.

"Over the years, the discount stores have raised their game," said Johanne Choinière, senior vice-president of Metro's Ontario division. "Conventional stores cannot be stuck in the middle. They really have to elevate their game. It's not only us but everybody in the conventional market. It's our mission to offer stuff that consumers cannot find at the discounters."

"If you stay in the middle you're going to get run over," said Tom Stephens of food specialist Brand Strategy Consultants and a former executive at industry leader Loblaw Cos. Ltd.

From Metro to Loblaw and second-ranked Sobeys Inc., grocers are dressing up their mid-market conventional supermarkets with walls of cheeses, rows of cupcakes and racks of local lamb. They're peddling freshly squeezed juices, 40-item salad bars and made-to-order stone oven pizza to entice customers to spend more.

Even U.S. luxury chain Saks Inc., which was bought by Toronto-based Hudson's Bay Co. last fall, plans to bring a tony food hall to its new stores in Canada.

Italian-based Eataly, the upscale mega-food-emporium that had to close its new store in Chicago for a day last December because it was selling out of key items, is looking for space here. Some sources say the company is talking to the Galen Weston family, whose holdings include Loblaw and Holt Renfrew, about buying the rights to run Eataly in Canada. (Spokeswoman Cristina Villa said Canada is "one of the countries we are looking at," while a Weston spokesman declined to comment.)

"The middle is disappearing," Anthony Longo, chief executive officer of the high-end Longo Brothers Fruit Market Inc., said. "Conventional stores have to figure out what role they play. ... A lot of them are moving upmarket."

In a more crowded field, upscale players such as Longo and U.S.-based Whole Foods Market Inc. are being forced to raise their game as Loblaw and others borrow from their playbook.

"Competition is pretty fierce at the moment in terms of Canadian grocery retailing," said Michael Bashaw, who heads the Whole Foods' region that includes Canada. "I don't think that's going to change for three to five years. At the end of that time there are going to be some winners and losers."

Whole Foods, with eight stores in Canada, is looking to expand to 40 outlets in all and generate $1-billion in sales here (it doesn't disclose its current revenue here.) It has been able to maintain its Canadian margins over the past few years even as it lowers some prices, partly by getting better deals from its suppliers and pumping up its overall sales, Mr. Bashaw said.

Other grocers, nevertheless, "are cutting margin," he said. Metro, which will report its second-quarter results on Wednesday, saw its first-quarter gross margin slip to 18.8 per cent from 19 per cent a year earlier.

Longo has cut some prices to draw shoppers: it recently started to sell 4L bags of milk at cost, for $3.99, from its previous range of $4.29 to $4.49, Mr. Longo said. A year ago it shaved the price of a 24-pack of its water bottles to $2.99 from $4.99 to compete with the likes of Costco Wholesale Corp.

But to offset the margin pinch, the 26-store Ontario chain is adding higher priced items and new merchandise, such as local Ontario beef , rather than beef from Western Canada. It is even looking at emulating Eataly concepts, such as stand-up eat-in bars to keep shoppers in the stores longer.

Still, with the key competitors all focusing on improving their fresh and prepared foods and "doing the exact same thing, the risk is that they mostly negate each other" and capture just "modest" market share from small grocers, Michael Van Aelst, retail analyst at TD Securities, said.




Loblaw's store at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto has become the blueprint for its growing number of outlets referred to internally as "inspire" stores, marked by a "higher-end experience," spokesman Kevin Groh said.

The stores feature a 12-foot high wall of cheese, including more than 450 varieties. They tout more than 100 organic products, including tropical fruit. Other features include a coffee bar, tea emporium and patisserie.

Last year, Loblaw refurbished two Ontario outlets into the "inspire" model and more are planned in 2014. "These stores don't just offer a premium shopping experience for our customers, they offer a premium learning ground for our business." Mr. Groh said.


Sobeys began rolling out Sobeys Extra stores last fall, offering stone-oven-made pizza, freshly grilled sandwiches and in-store bars serving coffee, smoothies, sushi and noodles.

Stores include a chef who offers advice, food classes, a "well-being counsellor" who answers health and diet questions, and a "cheese ambassador" who provides guidance in selecting from hundreds of cheeses. An expanded bakery features artisan bread; store-made Montreal and New York style bagels; all-butter pastries and gourmet cakes. An expanded produce department organic and local produce and and tomatoes displayed by sweetness. The stores have "well-being departments" with organic products and more than 600 gluten-free items.


About a year ago, Metro set up an internal innovation team to oversee the transformation, which is playing out at a test store in Mississauga.

For example, Metro's produce section carries green, red and black kale, both regular and organic; it stocks red, gold and striped beets - regular and organic - and yellow, orange, purple and white carrots.

Depending on availability, it carries mushrooms that include shitake, chanterelle, king oyster, enoki, oyster, lobster, morel and porcini.

Marina Strauss

'He's a rock star and I am not'
You live in your parents' basement, while your successful older brother heads out on tour with his hit band. What can you do? If you're Tom Berninger, you snag a gig as roadie, get fired and turn the whole experience into a moving, hilarious documentary
Thursday, April 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1

There's a point in the sweet, offbeat music documentary Mistaken for Strangers when director Tom Berninger despairs, "I don't know what I'm doing here." He was not the only one confused.

In 2010, Berninger was living in his parents' basement in Cincinnati, Ohio, while his older (by nine years) brother Matt was preparing to hit the road with the National, the ruminative rock quintet he fronts. At the time, the indie darlings were breaking into the mainstream with the release of their brooding thriller of a fifth album, High Violet.

With hapless Tom in a rut, his rock-star sibling hired him as an underling roadie. Tom took along a small video camera in order to stockpile footage that was originally planned to be used as a tour diary for the band's website, but eventually became the basis for the feature film. Turns out he was such a bumbling roadie - slow with the water and towels for the musicians, unable to manage the guest list properly and partying so hard that he missed the call for the bus - that he was relieved of his modest duties before the tour was complete. He was fired, which gave him more time to devote to filming.

Initially, he appeared to be just as feeble a documentarian as he was an assistant tour manager. His stuttering conversations with band members made Chris Farley and his star-struck Saturday Night Live interviews look like Scorsese in comparison. (Sample question: "On tour, it's day in and day out - does that ever make you sleepy onstage?") And yet the film, which opens Thursday for an eight-day run at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema in Toronto, turned out to be affecting and charming, with enthusiastic reviews citing its laughs and quirks. Director Judd Apatow called it a "classic," documentarian Michael Moore hyped it as the "one of the best documentaries about a band that I've seen," and the indie-music taste-makers at Pitchfork hailed it as the "funniest and most meta music movie since Spinal Tap."

Mistaken for Strangers succeeds because of its originality. Fans of the band might wish for more live performances, but mainstream audiences will likely prefer the deft handling of the sibling rivalry at the film's core.

More than anything, the unexpected development of guileless novice filmmaker Tom as his own protagonist is the movie's heart. Tom, an artistic man-child as comfortable with a beer in his hand as a camera, had yet to figure out his purpose in life. In trying to get himself in focus, his film becomes less about touring musicians and more about a man fumbling in the shadow of a public-figure brother while floating through life without a map. And so, a slacker struggles, and improbably succeeds.

"There have been people who see how Tom is in the movie and they think, 'Well, that person could have never made that film,'" says Matt. The brothers are sitting in the same room in New York for our phone interview. "And it's true. Tom probably couldn't have made this film alone. We brought in my wife and a couple of other smart people that helped him craft a story arc."

Matt's wife is Carin Besser, a former fiction editor for The New Yorker. She was among the film's editors who played up Tom's awkward interviewing style that supplies many comic moments. (Example: Tom, to his brother, "So, how famous do you think you are ... you're way more famous than any of my friends.") And perhaps it was her idea to turn the focus away from her husband and the band and onto her lovable, unaccomplished brother-in-law.

"We cut for comedy," says Tom, 34, when asked if he was as inept as the film sometimes portrays him to be. "It's an exaggeration of me, but it is me."

A tour in support of the National's Grammy-nominated Trouble Will Find Me album from 2013 brings them to Toronto's Massey Hall for three nights this week (April 9 to 11). The group will also be on hand for the film's opening night at the Bloor - a sharing of the spotlight between brothers that would have been unthinkable until recently.

In our chat, the alpha-male Matt does most of the talking, more than once mentioning his wife's role in the completion of the film. Tom doesn't disagree, but does stick up for himself. "I stepped away from the editing chair, and Matt's wife helped find the film's tone and the humour," he acknowledges. "But some of the questions I asked turned out to be interesting questions. I wasn't wrong all the time. It took us a while to figure that out."

In the film, Tom encapsulates his brotherly dynamic morosely: "He's a rock star and I am not, and it's always been that way." More than one scene involves the taller, slimmer Matt scolding his shorter, rounder brother. "Do you have any kind of organization for this film?" he asks, exasperated.

On the phone, Matt talked about how the film had changed his understanding of Tom. "He sees the world through different coloured lenses, and he reacts to the world very differently than I do," he explains. "I've stopped trying to shape him to be more like me. I started loving, understanding and respecting him for who he is."

The Berningers's mother makes an appearance in the film. She tells Tom that she always felt he was the "most talented" of her sons, but that he had a long history of quitting projects and pursuits. By the film's end, the viewer is struck with the realization that Tom had indeed accomplished something: He had completed the film - the movie represents the triumph.

"We feel it's a perfect film to accompany the band," Matt says. "It feels like one of our songs. It's about all the weird, awkward things and how hard it is as human beings in the world, with all the little details on how we're our worst enemies at times."

So, what comes next for younger brother? "I'm more confused about where I'm going than ever," Tom admits. "People are calling, but this is all brand new. Whatever I've achieved, how do I call it up again? It's a little scary."

One imagines Matt smiling upon hearing that. His lyrics increasingly reflect the anxieties involved with being an adult - in the film-ending song Terrible Love, he sings about walking with spiders and not being able to sleep "without a little help" - while the band itself has grown slowly and steadily, building upon each album and increasing its draw on the road incrementally. One hurdle cleared leads to another. Welcome, Tom, to your brother's world.

Mistaken for Strangers opens April 10 (with the National in

attendance) at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema in Toronto.

The National plays Toronto's

Massey Hall, April 9 to 11


Doubling down on love
Annette Bening plays a widow who falls for the unwitting doppelganger of her husband in the new film The Face of Love
Saturday, April 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R3

It happens to everybody: You're walking down the street, and suddenly you spy someone who's a dead ringer for someone you know. It's always a tingly experience, evoking the mysteries of others' lives, and the lives you could be living but aren't. It's especially unsettling when the person you swear you're seeing is no longer alive.

A few years ago, it happened to the mother of the writer-director Arie Posen (whose first feature was The Chumscrubber): She saw her late husband coming at her in a Los Angeles crosswalk, a big smile on his face. She froze in the street. He blew past her. The light changed, cars honked, and she kept going.

She felt warmed by the experience, but Posen, who was only 19 when his dad died, had a different reaction: He began obsessing over it, even dreaming about it.

Eventually he wrote a script and made a movie about it, The Face of Love, starring Annette Bening as Nikki, a woman who falls for the unwitting doppelganger of her husband (Ed Harris), who'd dropped dead on vacation five years earlier. It opens in select cities on Friday.

"For me it was a sort of wish fulfilment," Posen said in an interview during the past Toronto International Film Festival. "I thought I was making a movie about this thing that happened to my mom, but, as often happens, you discover you're actually making a movie about yourself."

He deliberately set it five years after the death, when it seemed that Nikki had moved on. "But as anyone who's experienced loss knows, you don't move on," Posen says. "You just learn to live with the absence."

The film plays with our expectations - is Nikki experiencing ordinary delayed grief, or is she unstable? - and that complexity drew in Bening, a four-time Oscar nominee (most recently for The Kids Are All Right).

"I was really surprised by the script," she said in a separate interview.

"I was moved by it, intrigued by it, so I wanted to help guide the audience to feel those same things when they were watching it, if I could."

I've interviewed Bening, 55, a few times, and it's always a highlight.

Although she possesses innate elegance and glamour, she has never lost her Midwestern modesty. (She was raised in Kansas and went to community college in San Diego, where she fell in love with theatre's combination of "intellectual rigour and emotional passion.")

Intelligent, engaged, she's constantly referencing things, from a TED talk about vulnerability to the work of developmental psychologist Erik Erikson. Rarely does she talk about herself - this is a woman who knows how to keep her private life private, though it includes a 22-year marriage to Warren Beatty and four children ages 14 to 22. (Her eldest, Stephen, who was born Kathlyn, is a public figure, however; he has done PSA's about issues concerning transgendered people.)

"I'm interested in writing that explores all sides of human beings," Bening says.

"I find the reality of our emotional lives interesting. I wanted to try to capture that Nikki was a woman who didn't know that she'd never gotten over her husband's death. She didn't know how deep and confused that pain and sadness was."

But getting that story to the screen wasn't easy. "Uphill battle does not even begin to cover it," Posen says. Despite having Bening, Harris and Robin Williams (who plays a neighbour who's in love with Nikki) in the movie, and their powerful agents behind it, not a single financing entity in Hollywood would back it.

After 18 fruitless months, they turned away from the system and courted wealthy connections who'd never invested in a film before.

"It's a smart investment, because there's a huge audience for these movies," Posen says. "Older filmgoers ask me all the time, 'Why don't they make movies for me anymore? I have time, disposable income, and the habit of going.' It was an unhappy education to realize Hollywood doesn't see the potential. Movies are about a collective dream we're having. To ignore an enormous, real segment of the audience, [people] who are dealing with a lot and eager to see stories about themselves, is to me foolhardy."

These days, a film with older actors and the word "face" in the title could be a freak show, but Posen makes a strong argument for natural beauty.

"This is a movie about real life, and to be real, the first step is to look real," he says.

"Being open like that, that's the job," Bening agrees.

"Yes, there are times it frightens me. But I know that it is what I want to do. I love saying, 'Show my face.' Not only the reality of aging, but also the reality of what your face looks like when you're having certain feelings or reactions. When I first started doing movies, I had a hard time watching myself for that reason. I had to find a way to put all of that mental chatter aside and give myself to the stories."

Why not wear your years as a badge of honour, Bening continues? You've earned them. "At this point in life, everything is deepening, and I like that," she says.

"I like that I've been through things, that when something happens, it resonates with something that already happened. It's not that things like loss are more or less painful. But they're deeper. I find that fascinating."

In the film, Nikki has a daughter, played by Jess Weixler (the blonde investigator on The Good Wife), who has a strong reaction to her mother's new beau, and that drew Bening in, too. "Our children see us a certain way, and we want to be seen by them in a certain way," she says. "I certainly want to be a strong, stable, loving, consistent presence in my children's lives. But we are human beings, too. We're going through what we're going through. What if you don't remain that thing that everyone thinks you are?"

When you're younger, she goes on, "you think you'll get to a point where you've arrived. But in your 50s, you can really be transforming, in ways that nobody expected. Part of it comes from illness or losing the people around you, but there's also so much vitality in my generation. It's such a time of growth."

Bening feels lucky that she still loves her job, and that it, too, is always evolving. "I don't feel cynical about it at all," she says. "The business is going through what it's going through, but it doesn't bother me. I just figure I'm going to continue doing the work that I do. As long as I have that, it's like my medicine."

Teach children about money by age 10
Though the stakes are higher for wealthy families, all children need to learn how to manage money, financial advisers suggest
Friday, April 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B14

We all have heard the stories: Young adults who come into tremendous wealth too early and unprepared - and proceed to squander their fortunes.

It's a thorny problem that financial institutions and advisers involved with wealth management are confronting at the request of their affluent clients. How do you teach children to be rich? How do you know when the next generation is ready to properly handle wealth?

It's an issue that is growing as the number of affluent Canadians increases. The number of high-net-worth individuals here - those with investable wealth of $1-million or more - grew 6.5 per cent over the year before to a record 298,000 in 2012, according to the 2013 World Wealth Report by Royal Bank of Canada's RBC Wealth Management and Capgemini. The number of ultra-rich individuals - with wealth of $30-million or more - increased 11 per cent to 4,500 people.

And that means more wealthy Canadians who are looking to pass on those assets to their children. According to a study released this week by the Bank of Montreal's wealth management arm, BMO Harris Private Banking, affluent Canadians plan on leaving, on average, 30 per cent of their wealth to their children. The online survey of 305 Canadians with at least $1-million in investable assets also found that parents are taking the time to educate their children about finances - 65 per cent said they do.

"There has been a lot of focus on that kind of education in the last five or 10 years," says Yannick Archambault, vice-president and chief operating officer at BMO Harris Private Banking. "The larger the dollars, the more complexity there tends to be. ... High-net-worth parents or clients want to make sure that the second or third generation is well-equipped to handle it."

Mr. Archambault is referring to programs such as BMO Harris's Financial Fluency, aimed at children of clients who are in their late teens or early 20s that teach the principles of debt, credit, investing and risk tolerance. Financial Fluency was introduced in 2008, and has been bolstered regularly since.

Programs like these help, but Mr. Archambault and others have seen financial advisers tackle more and more of the educational role - bringing in the adult children of clients and explaining to them aspects of their parents' finances.

That's certainly the case with Phil Tippetts-Aylmer, a Vancouver-based financial adviser with Nicola Wealth Management, who says a large number of clients he works with have introduced their children to the firm or have brought the children in for extensive discussions about the family's financial situation.

"There is the understanding that the children are going to inherit a sizable amount of money and there is a desire to have them be financially literate by the time that event occurs," he says.

One way to help is to give children control gradually. For example, university students might be given responsibility for the money the parents have saved for their education, with a financial planner to help. Some parents bring their children to sit in on regular review meetings that deal with their assets.

"If the parents are happy with that and the child is keen, we're happy to do that," Mr. Tippetts-Aylmer says.

In the case of estate planning, parents might restrict when children get the assets - or set up a trust in which there is a co-trustee for a certain length of time.

But Mr. Tippetts-Aylmer says that for most children in affluent families, understanding finances comes in the same way that it does for most people - when they come up against major financial decisions for the first time, such as when getting married, landing their first job, buying a house or having children. How they tackle those events is a great indicator of whether they can handle the legacies their parents will eventually leave.

Other indicators of whether they can handle finances are if they save and if they undertake financial planning on their own. Warning signs include carrying a lot of debt.

Mr. Tippetts-Aylmer says that most of the children who meet with him are 20 or older. Participants in the BMO Harris Financial Fluency program are between the ages of 15 and 30, Mr. Archambault says, with the average age about 22 or 23.

But many personal finance experts believe that there is work to be done before that - that teaching children to manage money should start before the age of 10, says New Jersey-based personal finance author Jonathan Clements, echoing many others who advise people on finances.

"The stakes are higher for parents with lots of money who plan to bequeath substantial sums to their kids, but I think the issues facing wealthy parents are the same that face all parents," says Mr. Clements, who was director of financial education for Citi Personal Wealth Management and just left to write a column for the Wall Street Journal.

The one lesson that parents need to teach their children early, he says, is how to delay gratification.

Most children, he says, grow up spending their parents' money so they have absolutely no incentive to curb their desires. It's like going out to dinner when you know someone else is going to pay: "Of course you're going to order dessert."

Parents need to set up a system where kids feel like they're spending their own money - and making some financial decisions of their own, Mr. Clements says. When his children were small and the family went to restaurants, he would offer the kids $1 if they drank water with meals instead of pop. It was their choice: Take the money or the drink.

When his daughter Hannah was 13 and his son Henry was 10, he started bank accounts for them and got them ATM cards. He then deposited their pocket money into the accounts four times a year. This had two benefits, he says: The kids stopped asking him all the time for money and they learned to budget.

Mr. Clements says it's also important to instill values in your children, and those are best passed down "in the stories we tell."

Parents can talk about the financial struggles they had when they first started out, for example. Describe the first apartment you lived in as a student - with cockroaches or mice.

Children will take these stories to heart. "A great family story is far more powerful than any lecture on financial prudence you could ever deliver," he says.

The family story he heard growing up definitely set him and his three siblings on the right path. It's a doozy.

His maternal grandfather inherited millions and blew it all. "We grew up hearing about how the great family fortune was squandered." All four children ended up being responsible with money, he says. "Let me tell you, it was a very powerful story to hear."

Hate crowds? Head for these subway stops
Four TTC stations have their own reasons for being the least used, ranging from snobbery to reverse snobbery to nothing there
Friday, April 18, 2014 – Print Edition, Page G7

Hollering "subways, subways, subways" during this mayoral race is about as logical as "jetpacks, jetpacks, jetpacks." Subways, the most expensive form of public transit, only work in areas where there are enough people to fill the trains - it's that simple.

That's why the Sheppard "stubway" still struggles to reach capacity almost a dozen years after opening, carrying under 50,000 passengers a day (compare that to the Yonge-University-Spadina line, with well over 700,000), and the Scarborough RT line boasts the least-used stop of the entire system, with just over 1,000 passengers "travelling to and from" that station "on an average weekday" (source: TTC Subway Ridership 2012-2013).

However, even the overcapacity Yonge line, surprisingly, has a bum location: Summerhill sits in fourth-last place of least used stations.

All of this tells me a steel-wheels trip to each of the four line's biggest losers is in order: Who lives around these dogs, anyway, and why aren't they using them?

Ellesmere station, Scarborough RT. Opened 1985. 1,140 daily passengers.

Changing over from the "real" subway at Kennedy station to the little toy trains of the RT is easy enough, but nothing can prepare you for how different they feel. So 1980s they belong in a Spoons video, these narrow cars thump, creak and cough so many death-rattles, TTC staff wear earplugs.

The almost-full train sways first through stands of evergreens and hydro fields - this bucolic area needs "rapid" transit? - and then a smattering of single-family homes. Nine minutes later, after passing alarmingly large industrial complexes, it deposits me, and three others, at Ellesmere.

Outside, confronted by the grassy lump that supports Ellesmere Road above, I spy a couple of condo towers in the far distance and, closer, one of those shingled pyramids that houses road salt; to my left is the long, blank brick wall of a warehouse.

Further exploration provides an answer as to who might use this station: the cinder block-and-stucco "Leisureworld" retirement residence is, literally, a stone's throw away. One woman, sitting under a freestanding lean-to in a barren fenced-in area, waves wildly to me as I pass ... I must be the first person she's seen all day.

Soon, she'll be alone permanently, as a June 2011 Metrolinx report suggests that Ellesmere be shuttered when the Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown line opens.

Bessarion station, Sheppard subway. Opened 2002. 2,550 daily passengers.

Even though I've watched the short YouTube film Finding Bessarion, I am still thrown when the train's PA pronounces it "Buh-zarry-in."

Like at Ellesmere, I exit with three other souls. I am struck by how clean and pristine this place is - like the pure, Platonic form of a subway station - and how the rich, red wall-tile excites my senses.

As I walk, I recall Derek Welsman, a radio colleague, was moved to write a song about Bessarion. Clearly, Bessarion is the artist's muse of the TTC.

"It was contemplated as a place of reflection in this hard-scrabble world of ours," confirms TTC communications guru Brad Ross. "The 'artists' now see it as a canvas, but its tranquility should never be diminished by high-minded art."

Well, that puts the kibosh on my idea of converting the cavernous upstairs space into artists' studios, which would've squeezed more revenue from this little-used station.

So few people visit Bessarion, as a matter of fact, station designers found it necessary to place instructional photographs of how to use the handrails on the stairwell walls (they've also put photos of the backs of heads and the bottoms of legs on the station walls so TTC employees won't get lonely).

Since I'm a veteran TTC-er, I grab the handrail willy-nilly and hoist myself up and out ... to wind up in a strip mall parking lot. The only people I see out here are inside their cars - six lanes of traffic on Sheppard and, not far away, the jam-packed 401.

Fortunately, there is a condo under construction directly across the street, which could help passenger volumes.

Old Mill station, Bloor-Danforth subway. Opened 1968. 5,790 daily passengers.

It's a long walk from the back of the train to the one lonely exit at Old Mill. Luckily, there is a panoramic view of the Humber River valley to enjoy (the two other people to get off are more interested in texting), as this station is a long, glassy bridge rather than an underground bunker.

Straight past the tiny bus-loading area (only one bus route departs from here), I find myself in some sort of medieval village, since half-timbering is everywhere: on apartment houses, single-family homes and the massive Old Mill hotel complex. Speaking of which, there are so many cupolas, weather vanes and jiggity-jaggity roof lines competing for attention at the hotel, it's easy to miss the few remaining short, stone walls of the original seven-storey flour mill that once stood here (built 1848); it's also a relief to glance over at the unadorned surfaces of architect Ray Mandel's 23-storey Brutalist tower, built in 1967.

My guess is the few pioneers who use this station come from Mr. Mandel's tower or the low-rise apartments nearby; the Escalades, Bimmers and Cayennes in the massive hotel parking lot suggest it isn't the brunching and wedding set.

To find any density at all, I walk 11 minutes east along Bloor Street West. By the South Kingsway, blessed retail graces both sides of the street, as well as professional offices, restaurants and cafés. That's why Jane station hosts 18,150 passengers a day.

Summerhill station, Yonge-University-Spadina subway. Opened 1954. 5,880 daily passengers.

Summerhill's biggest problem might be that no one can find it: It's actually located on Shaftesbury Avenue.

Another theory, Mr. Ross of the TTC offers, is that regular folk "are intimidated by Summerhill, seeing it as a private station - perhaps - for the special few, much like those private elevators one hears about (but never experiences) in ritzy condo towers."

While Summerhill is indeed located in a "ritzy" neighbourhood, my guess is that on rare occasions when the homeowners of Chestnut Park, Cluny Drive, Woodlawn, Walker and Farnham avenues leave the car at home, they skip Summerhill just like the unwashed masses, and window-shop their way up to the bright lights of Yonge and St. Clair.

While the TTC has parodied its underachieving stations (Google its 2014 April Fool's video, where it proposes building condos inside), it's serious business building a subway line. Each new stop requires cool consideration that's better left outside the heated world of politics.

You don't need to let your kids fail
Thursday, April 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L3

As parents, many of us choose to spend our five minutes of free time drinking in the latest theories on child-rearing. Depending on the day, it's about fostering grit and remembering not to overpraise, or fretting over the endless flow of trophies our kids bring home just for showing up.

But in his new book, education and parenting author Alfie Kohn says underlying much of the reigning wisdom around parenting is a conservative - even punitive - view of children. Kohn proposes we think a little harder about adopting every new gospel about child-rearing. We might not like the ugly right-wing parent we're accidentally becoming.

We spoke to Kohn about The Myth of the Spoiled Child: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom About Children and Parenting from his home in Boston.

There is a never-ending flow of theories on parenting. It's exhausting. But clearly you hit a boiling point and felt like you had to write this book.

What put me over the edge was the fact that beliefs about children and parenting that are not only unsupported but deeply conservative in their ideology are uncritically endorsed even by people who are more liberal on other political issues.

It's a rage that you find expressed when we give a trinket to the kids on the losing team. When people claim that kids feel too good about themselves when they haven't earned that right. Any time people try to step in to alleviate children's pain or try to soften the ugly blow of competition, there is a huge push back from people who think that kids have it too easy. And that the best way to prepare children for the unpleasantness of life is to make them as unhappy as possible when they're young.

Isn't that just the old farts?

You find the same sensibility among people who would never vote conservative, who take the enlightened line on global warming and multicultural activities and so on but nevertheless blast teachers or parents for being too permissive or for being helicopter parents. Who make wild unsupported statements about millennials who are entitled and have been coddled their whole lives.

Some of these ideas are ubiquitous, like the notion that we don't let kids fail enough.

The two assumptions that are made these days are, one, that kids don't experience enough failure and frustration, which suggests to me a lack of understanding of children's inner lives if people really think that's true, and two, that more failure is good because kids will pick themselves up and try harder next time. The reality is, according to decades of psychological research, that what conduces to success is past success.

So letting a kid fail on a test doesn't teach him or her to study harder next time?

Anyone who hangs around real kids knows that the more likely outcomes are that kids come to think of school as something they're not good at. Or to lead them to resent the teacher. Or to cheat if they're under a lot of pressure to perform well. And with some good reason, to doubt the validity of tests.

If you look below the superficial results, you've got a lot of miserable kids studying very hard who are hating learning and not feeling great about themselves.

Is there a middle ground?

Parents need to think about how best to support their kids. To ask questions such as, how do I help my kid keep his excitement about figuring stuff out? How do we revive that sense of curiosity and support depth of thinking?

In a related matter, what about those trinkets for the losing team?

Giving a recognition trinket to the losing side is a tiny step in the direction of minimizing the inherent harms of unnecessary competition. People are somehow criticizing this as trying to persuade the losing team that they didn't really lose, as if kids didn't know the difference. There's this mindless macho sensibility that we must do nothing to moderate the ugly effects of competition. Otherwise children won't be prepared for "real life."

In the book you say the notion of spoiled kids in general 'twas ever thus.

People claim that kids are indulged and that parents are spoiling their kids and failing to set limits - unlike the good old days. And then you go back a couple of decades and find that people were saying exactly the same thing and you go back another couple of decades and you find the same thing again.

What about the kid in The New Yorker piece Spoiled Rotten who demands his father tie his shoes.

We can always come across ridiculous examples of parents who do silly things. But we have an obligation to look past individual anecdotes and not overgeneralize. Are there kids who run wild in public places and make a nuisance of themselves while their parents ignore them? Sure. But for every example like that there are hundreds of examples of kids who are bullied, bribed, yelled at or threatened by parents whose only apparent objective is to get mindless compliance.

You take on Jean Twenge, the researcher behind the millennials-are-narcissists trope and

author of Generation Me.

Younger people tend to score higher on narcissism measures than older people; that's always been true. When older people look at young people and see what they think is narcissistic behaviour, they incorrectly attribute this to a change over generations. In reality it's a developmental change. Jean Twenge has become this one-woman crusade to see young people in the worst possible light and claims to have data to support it. But when experts in data analysis review her studies carefully or try to replicate those studies they come up empty-handed.

Maybe parenting - and parenting media - involves some sort of amnesia?

We often forget the way things were for us. Baby boomers were accused of being shiftless hippies by their parents and turned around and accused Generation X of being slackers. Now, we both unite and accuse millennials of very similar things. Some of it may just be amnesia. Some of it may take on a more ominous cast, which is that we tend to reproduce some of the disturbing things that were done to us by our parents when we have children of our own, as if to erase any possibility that our parents didn't do what was best for us. That was psychoanalyst Alice Miller's hypothesis - that we're desperate at an unconscious level to believe that our parents did what was in our best interest. So to avoid having to confront that, we just do it to our kids.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

For rapid growth, Africa is the new China
Saturday, April 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B10

The latest hot investing sector to bottom out: Emerging markets.

Once a favourite of investors amenable to living on the knife edge of risk and reward, emerging markets have been dragged down by their slowing economic growth. Many strategists suggest investors forget about emerging markets for now and instead put money in developed economies like the United States and Europe.

Another thought is to consider frontier markets, a subset of emerging markets with economies that are still in the rapid growth phase. Examples: Argentina, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Vietnam and the African nations of Kenya and Nigeria.

"People are very excited about Africa," said Gavin Graham, chief strategy officer at Integris Pension Management and co-author with Al Emid of Frontier Markets for Dummies. "It's the new China. You've got demonstrable improvement in political and corporate governance, and you're starting to see some fairly major growth in GDP. The possibilities there are very attractive."

Mr. Graham describes frontier markets as being what major emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia, India and China - often grouped together as the BRIC nations - were 15 to 20 years ago. That is, fast-growing economies attracting a lot of foreign interest.

These countries still have growing economies, but the momentum has faded. India's economy grew last year by 4.4 per cent, compared to 9 per cent before the global economic crisis. China's economy grew by 7.4 per cent in the first quarter of this year, down from a long-term average rate close to 10 per cent. It's numbers like these that have prompted global investors to take profits in emerging markets over the past year or two.

Oil-rich Nigeria is an example of both the risks and rewards of investing in frontier markets. After a revision of its economic data, the country recently moved ahead of South Africa as the African continent's largest economy. The financial rating analysts at Moody's say Nigeria's economy will rank among the world's 15 largest by 2050. These indicators of growing economic success have produced a 12-month gain of 21.2 per cent for the Nigerian Stock Exchange All Share Index.

But Nigeria has also been battling a ruthless insurgency that threatens its economic growth. This week, 75 people were killed after an explosion at a bus station. A day later, gunmen killed a pair of guards at a school and kidnapped some 100 female students.

Looking at the broad frontier market group of countries, Mr. Graham sees some demographic advantages that will help economic growth. Birth rates are coming down, the populations are skewed to a younger age than Western countries and work forces are expanding. "And, you've got lots of people moving from the country to the city, which is where you get the big, explosive growth that you saw in India, China and Southeast Asia."

The dynamic growth of frontier markets explains why the MSCI Frontier Markets Index surged 25 per cent for the 12 months to April 15 in U.S. dollars, while the MSCI Emerging Markets Index fell 0.3 per cent. For the past three years, the frontier index averaged gains of 4.7 per cent and the emerging markets index fell 5.4 per cent annually.

In terms of volatility, frontier markets will give you all you can handle. The MSCI Frontier Markets Index lost 54 per cent in 2008 and 18.4 per cent in 2011, but gained 72.7 per cent rise in 2005.

The investment industry, with its innumerable emerging market funds, has been cautious with frontier market products. The one big name in the sector, the $82.4-million Templeton Frontier Markets Class, was closed to new investors in June, 2013, to help the company manage the flow of money going into frontier market stocks. The fund's 19.4-per-cent return for the 12 months to March 31 was far better than the 2.8 per cent average for emerging market funds.

The lack of mutual fund options means investors must look at exchange-traded fund options. Here are three listed on the New York Stock Exchange:

The iShares MSCI Frontier 100 ETF (FM): Close to 60 per cent of the fund is in Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Qatar; the fees are high at 0.79 per cent.

The Guggenheim Frontier Markets ETF (FRN): Fees at 0.7 per cent, and a weighting of roughly 70 per cent in Chile, Argentina and Colombia.

The Global X Next Emerging & Frontier ETF (EMFM): Emerging markets like Malaysia, South Africa and Mexico take precedence over frontier markets like Vietnam, Pakistan and Nigeria; fees at 0.58 per cent.

Mr. Graham suggests putting 5 to 10 per cent of your portfolio's international exposure into frontier markets, and he thinks that reallocating this money from emerging market funds makes sense. This portfolio tweak isn't just about reaching for higher returns. According to Mr. Graham, frontier markets are also an effective way to diversify your portfolio.

Years back, one of the arguments in favour of holding emerging markets was that the stocks from these countries weren't correlated with developed markets. Mr. Graham said frontier markets are now a better way than emerging markets to get some portfolio content that won't rise and fall in the same way as Canadian, U.S. and other developed markets. His explanation: Because they're less developed, frontier markets are more influenced by domestic events than global events.

Mr. Graham expects frontier markets to produce the same returns over the decade ahead as emerging markets did in the past decade, which is about 7.5 per cent a year on average. If you've been looking at investing in emerging markets based on this past performance, shift your focus to frontier markets.



The MSCI Frontier Markets Index is the benchmark for investing in some of the world's least developed but most economically dynamic countries. The index includes 143 countries in the Middle East, Africa, South America, Asia and Europe.


Consumer staples, 7.24%

Energy, 7.52%

Industrials, 9.82%

Telecom services, 13.51%

Other, 6.8%

Financials, 55.1%


Kuwait, 18.66%

UAE, 17.84%

Qatar, 15.9%

Nigeria, 11.22%

Argentina, 4.71%

Other, 31.67%

FUNDAMENTALS (March 31, 2014)

Market / Div. Yld. (%) / P/E / P/E Fwd. / P/BV 1.83

MSCI Frontier Markets / 3.63 / 13.94 / na / 1.83



National Bank of Kuwait / Kuwait

Emaar Properties / United Arab Emirates

Mobile Telecom Co. / Kuwait

Kuwait Finance House / Kuwait

Qatar National Bank / Qatar

Al Rayan Bank / Qatar

Qatar Industries / Qatar

Nigerian Breweries / Nigeria

Ooredoo / Qatar

DP World / United Arab Emirates


Ready for their claws-up
Saturday, April 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R1

Dogs may be the public face of the pet world, but cats have proved to be the real stars.

The Internet has brought these once-aloof creatures out of the shadows and helped them shed an image problem dating back to the days of witches and broomsticks. As the acknowledged rulers of YouTube and the perpetrators of e-mail chains that draw millions of views to their online antics, cats have turned into pop-culture darlings - creating celebrities out of such camera-friendly felines as the permafrowned Grumpy Cat; wide-eyed Lil Bub; brooding Henri, le Chat Noir; and the compulsive box lover, Maru.

Much of the cat's unexpected ascendancy has been happening quietly, in the privacy of the cubicle and the solitude of the computer screen. But now the cat-video phenomenon has found a bigger stage: a festival format where curated videos play to huge crowds of adoring fans, and the "Is it art?" questions are reaching new levels of confusion and semi-urgency.

On Thursday night, under the patronage of Laureen Harper, wife of the Prime Minister and a committed cat foster mom, the Toronto International Film Festival hosted Just for Cats - two sold-out showings of a best-of compilation reel put together by the Walker Art Center of Minneapolis that features such videos as Oskar the Blind Kitten vs. Hair Dryer, Smart Cat Knocks on the Door, Parrot Relentlessly Annoying Cat and Henri 2, Paw de Deux. The Toronto event marks the beginning of an 11-city cross-country tour that will wind up in August with a massive tribute in Vancouver.

"The cat has no intention of being amazing onscreen," says TIFF programmer Magali Simard, a self-described cat lady. "And yet the fact that this content becomes the most-viewed material online is a humbling message to people who create art very consciously - it's a little bit of a middle finger to established art."

In a departure from the usual cinephile fare at TIFF (such as the just-concluded retrospective Pier Paolo Pasolini: The Poet of Contamination), Just for Cats features a red-carpet adoptathon in the theatre atrium and the opportunity for audience members to have their pictures taken with cat cutouts under the sponsorship of the Temptations brand of kitty treats. Proceeds from the event will go to the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS), which hopes the festival can win more love for an animal that, despite its Internet popularity, is still undervalued in the real world. Less than 0.5 per cent of cats that find their way to shelters are ever reunited with their owners, and many are euthanized.

The CFHS had been looking for ways to focus more attention on the normally Garboesque animal when the Walker Center compilation became an instant hit - drawing 10,000 people to an outdoor screening in 2012, and pulling in Canadian fans to a showing in Montreal last fall. The Internet's affirmation of the cat's most attractive qualities, says society CEO Barbara Cartwright, provides an opportunity to broaden the base of cat owners and to prove in a joyful social setting that a devotion to cats isn't proof of craziness.

"Up until very recently, if you weren't a cat person, you didn't know how fascinating the cat brain could be," says Cartwright. "But when you get sent a cat video by your friends, you see what compelling creatures they are. They're unpredictable and unremorseful; they're playful, and they're attempting crazy things that we as humans never think of attempting. Cats are unfettered, unedited and not predetermined, unlike so much of what we now consume in the media."

Modern technology, through the proliferation of smartphone and tablet videos, has enabled cats to express these qualities much more successfully. "These are videos shot in people's kitchens and living rooms, which is exactly where you catch a cat behaving like a cat," says David Grimm, author of Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs. "They're intimate and domestic, and give owners a chance to say that cats are cute, cats are loveable, cats do silly and funny things."

YouTube's LOLing felines may be the ultimate reality stars of modern culture, capitalizing on a gift for spontaneity to lure in viewers weary of Hollywood's dog-like attempts to please. And yet in many ways, cat videos replicate the innocent unexpectedness of the first silent movies, and allow a viewer to feel like a newcomer to the wonders of motion pictures. The playful pair of prancing cats in Dansons la capucine almost feel like an homage to Thomas Edison's pioneering film from 1894, an exhibition of feline pugilism titled The Boxing Cats. As nature's born actors, blessed with enigmatic faces that give away nothing and say everything, cats have infinite cinematic range: slapstick, action, deep introspection, lofty disdain, childlike excitement, and an atavistic urge to jump in boxes.

"Cat videos have become a kind of wildlife preserve for the cinema of the real," says James Cahill, who teaches a course in Animals and Cinema at the University of Toronto. "They provide us with a lot of what contemporary spectacle moviemaking doesn't give us: moments of a pure, unadulterated and almost indifferent unfolding of events."

Cats are indeed the masters of indifference, as cat-video director Will Braden can attest. The Seattle-based Braden won the Walker Center's Golden Kitty Award for his subtitled Henri 2, a black-and-white French film of studied artiness that features a black-and-white cat prone to ruminate with Camus-like ennui. ("We cannot escape ourselves; and sometimes the cat door ... is closed.")

His fluffy furball star may be celebrated for the existentialist depth of his portrayal, and yet Braden has learned to accept that cat actors, for all their spontaneity, cannot be directed and manipulated as easily as humans: Anyone who works in the cat-video field has to park some of their auteur instincts at the door.

"As a director, you lose the ability to fix things," Braden says. "So much of the technical aspect of shooting is just logistics: 'We need to fix this light. Can you take a step forward? Do that again more slowly.' But cats either don't understand English or pretend they don't understand English, so you can't do any of that stuff. Your role as director becomes more passive - you have to wait for things to happen rather than controlling them."

Which is exactly what makes this unherdable animal the source of cinematic celebrity and the object of human love: an above-it-all elusiveness that is the mark of the true star.

Pressure on the Habs: Who will step up against Tampa Bay?
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

TAMPA -- Writer and adventurer Rudyard Kipling rendered the thought so eloquently that it's become a splendid cliché - if you can keep cool when everyone else is freaking out, you can be the man.

Okay, okay, maybe that's not quite what he wrote. And fair enough, he arranged his words a smidge more poetically. The point is Kipling's oft-cited poem If contains lots of reasonable advice, much of it relevant to the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Poise is a quality some athletes are born with, but more frequently it is acquired at the cost of previous failure and disappointment.

"I wasn't [calm] early in my career, I remember those games ... where you pretty much play your game before it starts. Then the game starts and you're exhausted. It's learning to manage your nerves, your excitement," said 35-year-old Montreal Canadiens forward Daniel Brière.

That resonates as the Habs prepare to open their first-round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday, because a question hangs over Canada's lone entry in the NHL playoffs: How good is this team, really?

They've had inspirational moments, such as the night they trailed the Ottawa Senators 4-1 with barely four minutes to play and pulled out an overtime win. They've also had long stretches where they struggled to play .500 hockey.

Montreal finished the season as a bottom-six team in terms of advanced statistics - puck possession correlates strongly with success, and the Habs have been out-possessed consistently. And their even-strength scoring over the whole season was 26th in the 30-team NHL (they scored one more goal than the Los Angeles Kings, who are possession monsters).

But they're also a stingy defensive team - their 2.45 goals-against-per-game average was eighth in the league (Tampa Bay, meanwhile, had the 11th best offence at even strength, and the 11th best defence). And the Habs' penalty kill, which can patch up a lot of cracks, is among the league's very best.

A good part of evaluating this team's chances lies in composure, and whether the Habs' key players will be able to maintain it.

Somewhat paradoxically, the person about whom there are no reservations is Brière, the veteran free agent signing who has spent the season playing limited minutes, flitting around the lineup and in an out of coach Michel Therrien's good graces.

But Brière was signed for precisely these circumstances - he has 50 goals and 109 points in 108 playoff games, and has at points in his career led the playoffs in both points and goals.

He won't play top-line minutes, but if the Habs are to fulfill their ambitions - and don't be fooled by the even-keeled talk about one game at a time, they are not satisfied with merely making the postseason - he will participate in a balanced scoring attack.

Goaltender Carey Price's hallmark is calm, phlegmatic play - his 9-17-3 career post-season mark (.905 save percentage, 2.90 goals against) is largely a function of an unflappable guy getting flapped at inopportune moments.

Case in point: then-Ottawa Senators forward Jakob Silfverberg's back-breaking goal in game one of the first round last season. Silfverberg was plainly surprised Price didn't stop it.

Doubters tend to forget that Price, who is now 26 and coming off the finest season of his career, saw his first postseason action in 2008 (he beat Boston in a seven-game series) and is now in his seventh go-round in the searing cauldron that is the NHL playoffs.

The belief he doesn't get it done in the playoffs has proven difficult to dispel; the alternative view is that, in 2011, he was bested by Tim Thomas, then in the midst of one of the greatest statistical seasons in NHL goaltending history, and in 2013 he was outdone by Ottawa's Craig Anderson, whose save percentage in the shortened season was over .940.

Price, who passed the pressure test at the Sochi Olympics, considers his time is now. "After that whole experience, it helps you stay calm, being able to take in how a bunch of leaders on other teams that have won carry themselves. I think that was a very valuable learning experience," he said recently.

Price knows about winning, and when he looks at the Canadiens, he sees possibilities.

"We've got a lot of good parts. We have guys who can grind, guys who can put the puck in the net, we have offensive defencemen, defensive defencemen ... the team that wins the Cup is the team that puts [the] intangibles together," he said.

Another Canadian Olympian who's well-stocked in intangibles is P.K. Subban. The animated 24-year-old didn't score in his final 19 regular-season games, but still managed to finish near the top of the scoring charts among NHL defencemen.

Despite what some term a late-season funk and a tumultuous relationship with Therrien - he was benched for most of the first period in a recent game against Ottawa - Subban has played the kind of low-risk hockey his coaches demand for much of the season.

And the playoffs, where he established himself as a full-time NHLer in 2010, don't exactly make him quake with fear. "I enjoy playing under pressure, I think that's why I've had individual success in Montreal. I love playing here, I love playing underneath the microscope all the time, it just makes me better," he said.

Conventional wisdom holds that hockey teams adopt the tone set by their veterans and best players.

Leave it to Brière to tie it up in a neat little parable: The Habs'uncontested top player is Price, who acts as a human stress reliever.

"You'll look at him after we've made a catastrophic mistake, and he's just like, whatever, I've got it," Brière said. "It's as if nothing happened. We'll be sitting on the bench and the other team gets that chance and everyone tenses up, he just deals with it, makes the save. You think maybe it wasn't so bad, then you see the video the next day, and it wasn't pretty. He can paper over a lot of things, and that's where he makes a difference."

Another of Kipling's stanzas holds that "if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you," it will nudge you on the path to become "a man, my son."

If the Habs goaltender and his acolytes follow that injunction, who's to say what sorts of men they might become.

A 'cinematic poem' captures Afghanistan
Thursday, April 17, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1

If Hollywood ever makes a movie about Cédric Houin - and based on his exploits so far, there's no reason why it shouldn't - it's certain to have one of those child-is-father-to-the-man epiphany scenes. The kind that announces to the viewer, "Destiny alert! Portent ahead!"

In Houin's case, the scene would occur in 1983 when he's five, an only child living in Paris. His father, Jean-François, a peripatetic hotelier, described by Houin today as "handsome, sportif, my own Crocodile Dundee," has just returned from some foreign adventure, this time in Zambia. As Jean-François walks toward his son, the viewer notices one of his arms is crooked behind his back. Something is hidden in his fist! When Jean-François swings his arm around to open his palm to his expectant son, that something is revealed to be a large leopard tooth. At that, young Cédric's eyes would glisten; string-laden music would swell and the leopard's tooth would give off an almost diamond-like gleam. "Merci, Papa!" Cédric would cry. "Merci! Trés magnifique!" Shortly after, there'd be a scene of the tyke proudly wearing the tooth as the pendant of a necklace, romping with his playmates as they call out to him: "Rahouin! Rahouin!" - a riff on the name of the popular French comic-book character Rahan, a bearclaw-necklace-wearing prehistoric fighter, created in 1969, with a golden mane worthy of the Mighty Thor.

Cut to the present. Houin's 35, movie-star handsome, with Wakhan: Another Afghanistan, "a multiplatform art-documentary project" opening today at Toronto's Arsenal Contemporary Art. But instead of being called Rahouin, he goes by the "artist's name" Varial, after the kick-flip he used to perform as a skateboarder. The necklace is still around but he never wears it.

Varial's "very much against hunting" now, a vegetarian, in fact. Nor is he entirely sure, it seems, of the tooth's precise location. It's just "somewhere in a box" in his home in Montreal, a memento of "another consciousness." If he couldn't find it, the lapse would be understandable. Especially in the last four years, Varial has been very much the nomad, making infrequent, often rushed stops in Montreal, where he pitched up in 2001 as a finance and marketing intern, only "to improvise myself into a visual artist."

Varial has wandered far from the realms of finance and marketing into what in the 19th century would have been called "the exotic" - those far-flung, off-the-beaten-pathway places where smartphones, iPads, even mirrors are non-existent. While he still takes the occasional advertising assignment, whatever's earned is ploughed into personal projects and travel. Today, says Varial, "I'm putting my artistic chops at the service of the planet." Wakhan: Another Afghanistan - an installation of photographs, videos and a luminous 76-minute film/"cinematic poem," narration-free, that recently took best documentary honours at the Rendez-vous du cinéma québècois - is the distillation of a 24-day trek, by foot, horse and donkey, through the 300-km-long Wakhan Corridor of northeastern Afghanistan that Varian and fellow adventurer/"cultural entrepreneur" Fabrice Nadjari made in summer 2011.

Sparsely populated, windy, hemmed in by mountains, road-free and nearly inaccessible, the corridor is so isolated that neither the Taliban nor the government in Kabul nor NATO forces has paid it any mind. Its 12,000 inhabitants are divided mostly between two major tribes, the Wakhis, Ismaili Muslim farmers, and the Kyrgyz, Sunni Muslim herders, each living in calm and harmony with the other, bartering goods to sustain themselves.

Varial and Nadjari were inspired to visit the Wakhan after reading an article about it in The New York Times in the fall of 2010. Giving motivated their adventure as much as taking: Rather than just take photographs and footage of the scenery and the inhabitants, they hit upon the idea of bringing two Polaroid cameras and about 150 packages of compatible film with them. Whenever they encountered a willing tribesperson, they'd take his or her instant colour photograph, then, before giving the image to the subject to keep, pose him or her for another portrait, this one in black-and-white, holding the Polaroid. Varial found this "ceremony of the snapshot . . . touching and humbling. Most of the people we met had never seen an image of themselves, had not even seen mirrors in the Wakhan Corridor."

It was, unsurprisingly, a hard trip. Living mostly on bread and tea, trundling along difficult paths 10 hours a day and longer, Varial dropped 15 kilograms. Once he and Nadjari agreed to kill a sheep "because we felt we were starving and in need of protein." The next day, however, "we were all sick. Our bodies were not able to process the meat. So I killed an animal to take its energy - for nothing!" That realization, he says, made him a vegetarian.

Since returning,Varial has thrown himself into a variety of projects "at the service of the planet" even as he's "personally in huge debt." There's been a visit to India "documenting humanitarian actions with the Dalits," 170-million strong and the lowest-ranking members of Indian society, "the poorest of the poorest." He's been taking photographs and footage of the Waorani tribe in Ecuador's Amazon rainforest, its traditional ways and land endangered by deforestation and aggressive resource development. Late last year, on assignment for Smithsonian magazine, he travelled with Vanity Fair contributor Alex Shoumatoff to Borneo to document the struggle of 500 Penan nomads against the exploitation of wood and palm-oil companies. "I'm not a war photographer," he observes. "The only conflict I'm interested in are cultural conflicts."

Coming up - or so Varial hopes - is a project that will see him travel down the spine of the Andes where he'll collect stories from indigenous peoples about Pachamama, the Incan goddess/"world mother" worshipped before the Spanish conquests in the 16th century.

"Borneo, Ecuador, Afghanistan - all these trips have been extremely enlightening for me in terms of connecting to nature, of course, and living better on this planet," Varial attests. "I've been through different experiences, not only physical journeys but spiritual journeys. I've been through psychedelic experiences like peyote, ayahuasca, San Pedro [cactus] . . . ancient medicines that reconnect you to the cosmology, to the essence of life." He adds: "I am far from being perfect . . . my carbon print is awful with all the planes I take every year . . . but I am trying."

Wakhan: Another Afghanistan is at Arsenal Contemporary Art, Toronto through Aug. 15.

The tragedy of sisterhood
Saturday, April 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R14

All My Puny Sorrows

By Miriam Toews

Knopf Canada, 336 pages, $29.95

In Miriam Toews's brilliant and desperately sad new novel, All My Puny Sorrows, we meet two sisters. One is our narrator, Yolandi, a moderately successful author of rodeo-themed young adult novels. The other is Elfrieda, or Elf, a world-class concert pianist known for her Rachmaninoff, in much demand in the capitals of Europe. Yolandi lives in Toronto; Elfrieda lives in Winnipeg. Yolandi has two children; Elfrieda has none. Yolandi lives a happy enough life, though she's down on herself for sleeping around, for not being as career-driven as she might be. Elfrieda wants to die so desperately that, at one point in the novel, she cuts her wrists and drinks bleach.

AMPS, as Elfrieda abbreviates the Coleridge line that lends the novel its title, has been called a book about suicide. And fair enough: it is a book about suicide, and, as must be noted, a book drawn from suicides in Toews's own life - those of her father and her sister. But it's actually a book about what it is to be a sibling, and particularly about what it is to be a sibling to only one other sibling. It is one of the most moving and accurate representations of that complicated situation I have ever read.

That relationship is the smallest, most intense unit of family - there is none closer, even when it's bad, partly because there is no relationship with less clearly defined parameters. There's no parental responsibility, no filial obligation. You just are, alongside that other person. Even as you grow up and grow apart, you are connected by what you shared.

That's the nature of siblinghood: it's formed in the crucible of childhood; even as adults, childhood remains its grammar, the common language that continues to shape it. But what happens when that bond matures into adulthood? Often, it softens and blurs into nostalgia.

Throughout AMPS, we are reminded that childhood was an ideal (and idealized) state - "I remember perfectly - or should I say I have a perfect memory," Yolandi relates, highlighting how we reshape our past - and that that ideal state has been degraded: "There was no freer soul in the world than me at age nine," she offers, "and ... now I woke up every morning reminding myself that control was an illusion."

In a way, it was a better time: Elfrieda's mental illness, the internal churning that seeks to destroy her, wasn't present, or at least as pronounced. In adulthood, the whole world has backslid: "I saw an orderly who had once been the lead singer of a local punk band," Yolandi notes. "He was stacking trays and whistling next to a poster that listed the symptoms of Flesh Eating Disease."

Part of that erosion is the awareness of life's fundamental despair. "Did Elf have a terminal illness?," Yolandi wonders. "Was she cursed genetically from day one to want to die? Was every seemingly happy moment from her past, every smile, every song, every heartfelt hug and laugh and exuberant fist-pump and triumph, just a temporary detour from her innate longing for release and oblivion?"

All of which sounds rather grim, when you spell it out. But it isn't, because this is a Miriam Toews novel, which are always delicate braids of sadness and humour. In this sense, and all others, for that matter, AMPS is her most accomplished novel yet.

It's funny - often really funny. Thus the Mennonite community's disapproval of Yolandi and Elfrieda's mother's choice to become a social worker and turn her home into an office brings "a steady stream of sad and angry Mennonites came to our house, usually in secret because therapy was seen as lower even than bestiality because at least bestiality is somewhat understandable in isolated farming communities."

At a memorial service, a toddler opens the urn containing the deceased and snacks on some ashes; late in the novel, Yolandi compares living with her mother to living with Winnie the Pooh.

But even in the many moments of lightness, there is a dangerous undercurrent of sadness. At one point Yoli buys "Vaseline Intensive Care lotion, which had recently been renamed Vaseline Intensive Rescue lotion by the company to reflect the emergency atmosphere of current life on earth."

Sadness is the book's currency. And not just the sadness embodied in Elfrieda. Yolandi suggests that sadness such as hers lives within us all, a shared consciousness of sorts.

When her mother asks her why the teenage heroines in her rodeo novels are all so sad, if their struggles are because Yoli has so much sadness in her, she has a simple answer: "no, no, everyone has all that sadness in them."

And that is the book's great gift: its reminder that feeling such things is normal. In a world where everyone has that sorrow in them - which is to say, a world like ours - we find permission to embrace that sadness, rather than a rallying cry to escape it. And we witness the possibility of making a life that can accommodate incredible intimacy without denying the fundamental bleakness of existence.

At one point early in the novel, Yolandi recalls asking her sister, when they were young, "what's so hot about playing the piano?" Elfrieda offers an argument for how to structure a performance for maximum efficacy, but it's just as easily read as a roadmap for the success of All My Puny Sorrows:

"She told me that the most important thing was to establish the tenderness right off the bat, or at least close to the top of the piece, just a hint of it, a whisper, but a deep whisper because the tension will mount, the excitement and drama will build - I was writing it down as fast as I could - and when the action rises the audience might remember the earlier moment of tenderness, and remembering will make them long to return to infancy, to safety, to pure love, then you might move away from that, put the violence and agony of life into every note, building, building still, until there is an important decision to make: return to tenderness, even briefly, glancingly, or continue on with the truth, the violence, the pain, the tragedy, to the very end."

AMPS proves that that final, important decision is not much of a decision at all. There is no need to choose relief over violence, or love over pain. In this devastating novel - as in life itself - tenderness and tragedy are, like siblings, forever bound.

Jared Bland is the editor of Globe Arts and Globe Books.

Last person out, the building will turn off the lights
Tuesday, April 22, 2014 – Print Edition, Page E1

Though provincial incentives to reward energy efficiency may give commercial landlords a financial impetus, many find it is also a necessity for attracting tenants. But in older buildings, it's not that easy to become more energy efficient.

"Landlords recognize that in order to competitively market their properties and attract tenants they have to be proactive, they can't sit back and just wait until the lease comes up for expiry because they're going to lose the tenant," says Greg Moore, senior managing director at CBRE Project Management Canada. "So they've recognized that they have to stay ahead of the game."

One of the ways older buildings can become more energy efficient is through the use of technology. Toronto-based SensorSuite, for instance, has a system that, through sensors placed at various points in a commercial building, allow for fully automated or remote control over its energy systems.

The energy usage of more than two million square feet of Toronto office and commercial space is being monitored using SensorSuite's systems, which helps building owners and landlords be as efficient as possible, especially in older buildings that don't have more modern, efficient systems and structures.

"We're very much focused on the retrofit market because there are just so many buildings and they all need help," says SensorSuite founder and chief executive officer Robert Platek.

The company, which was created two years ago at Ryerson University's Digital Media Zone, is a natural progression for Mr. Platek, who has been tinkering with computers since he was a child, and who has a background in engineering.

In its most basic sense, his company establishes self-sufficient electronic nervous systems for buildings to monitor occupancy and energy usage, using a network of wireless sensors that relay information to building managers and owners via apps on their tablets or cellphones. This allows for variable lighting, heating and cooling, depending on whether a hotel room, conference room or ballroom is being used, or sitting empty.

Other companies are filling the residential and commercial smart-energy-usage field. For instance, Google this year bought Nest Labs Inc. for $3.2-billion (U.S.). The company manufactures, among other things, self-learning thermostats. Mr. Platek says his devices build on that concept.

"If you look at the Nest, there's actually a motion sensor built in, as well as temperature [gauges] and a whole bunch of other stuff. So they actually try to determine if you're home or not and that's how they heat or cool the place. So it's based on occupancy."

SensorSuite's systems also employ the use of CO2 sensors, in addition to motion sensors, so not only can it detect if people are in a room, it can also use its readings of carbon dioxide to determine roughly how many people are occupying the space, and adjust the room's energy systems accordingly.

"Using those two kinds of sensors, we can actually have a pretty comprehensive view of the room to see if there's occupancy or not and then be able to control it," Mr. Platek says. "So we started with HVAC [heating, ventilation, and air conditioning] and now we're actually getting into lighting as well."

That was at the behest of one of SensorSuite's hotel clients, which suggested that, since the company was already monitoring its HVAC systems to ensure more efficient running, why not simply take control of the lighting systems as well?

SensorSuite has since branched out into monitoring refrigeration, boilers and water leaks through its systems, too, allowing property managers and landlords to get comprehensive updates on their buildings. The company relies on a proprietary 900 megahertz mesh network to achieve its wireless capabilities, rather than relying on WiFi, as the mesh offers far greater range, particularly when delving into basements and other concrete-encased spaces that may have an effect on connectivity.

But SensorSuite's systems have also been designed to function even in the event that some of its sensors go offline.

"So there are motion sensors, CO2 sensors, there's a controller on the wall, they're all talking to each other and then [the system is] making decisions about this room and this is replicated in every single [room]," Mr. Platek says. "They're all using each other to talk to each other so that the network remains stable. Even if a couple of nodes die, it reroutes around them."

Regardless of the technology they use, when businesses take action to become more energy efficient, the potential effect can be huge.

Initiatives such as CivicAction's Race to Reduce have shown that the potential in this area can be sizable. A collaborative four-year initiative among commercial tenants and landlords in the Toronto-Hamilton area, the Race projects that a 10-per-cent cut in energy consumption across the GTA's 1,750 buildings would reduce consumption by 545-million kilowatt-hours, a cost reduction of more than $40-million. To help in these kinds of endeavours, the Ontario government is offering a number of rebates, such as its energy audit rebate of up to 50 per cent to companies that want to minimize their energy consumption. Similar programs are offered throughout much of Canada. For instance, in New Brunswick, a program offers a maximum of $75,000 toward energy retrofitting project costs in commercial buildings, while Quebec offers a maximum of $275,000 in a similar initiative.

As a result, the opportunities for firms who can pinpoint areas of energy excess have rarely been greater.


As a cloud-based building automation system, SensorSuite monitors and automates how a building uses energy. Sensors measure occupancy and send wireless signals to key systems. Updates are sent to the owners' or property managers' mobile devices.


Large spaces, such as conference rooms and ball rooms, are unoccupied about 70 per cent of the time. Motion and CO2 sensors detect whether a room is occupied, and how full it is.


Lighting is automatically adjusted, depending on whether a room is occupied.


Less heating and cooling is needed in unoccupied rooms.


Utilities make up about 70 per cent of the average building's operating costs, making energy efficiency a financial, as well as environmental, benefit.


By setting up a digital nervous system in a building, sensors can communicate with each other and adjust conditions and levels as needed, around the clock.


SensorSuite can add its sensors to installations, such as boilers, to ensure that if there is a leakage, building owners and managers are informed.



Will LRT change the way Ottawa works?
The capital city hopes developers will build high-density nodes in at least six spots along the 13-station route
Tuesday, April 22, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B9

OTTAWA -- A few years from now, Bernie Myers will be able to see the entrance to Ottawa's Lyon light-rail transit station from Morguard Corp.'s regional office on Sparks Street.

"It's going to be great," says Mr. Myers, Morguard's top executive for Eastern Canada, who manages a commercial property portfolio of five million square feet - one of the city's largest. Not only will rapid transit get buses off the streets, he says, but it will bring new opportunities to people who want to work downtown.

"It'll be easy to attract a diverse group of employees," he says, bringing both walking urbanites and far-flung suburban homeowners to businesses downtown. Whether it will tangibly boost property values in the capital, though, is a question that's best left to time.

"It takes time for a system to be large enough to have that impact," he says.

By making it easier to get to the core while creating attractive development opportunities around stations in suburban areas, the LRT will help change the way people work in Ottawa. Set to open in 2018, the transit system is expected to accelerate the movement of the city's largest tenant - the federal government - to newer buildings, largely outside of the core, opening up more space downtown. But it's unclear how quickly this will happen: While developers plan to play the waiting game, the City of Ottawa is doing everything it can to get people building along the line.

The city's Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system is one of the biggest of its kind in North America, but it's long been overcapacity. The new 13-station light rail "Confederation Line" will replace 12.5 kilometres of the BRT's central east-west route, from Blair Road to Tunney's Pasture, including 2.5 kilometres underground through downtown. The $2.1-billion project is hoped to be the first line in a network of light rail throughout the city.

In spite of the city's best efforts, development around the non-core BRT stations never intensified. Ottawa's planning chair, Councillor Peter Hume, hopes to correct that .

"The success of our program will be defined by how much intensification we get around these transit stations to drive ridership," Mr. Hume says. "No question, it's a gamble."

To do that, the city is making it as easy as possible for developers to start building, including by prezoning land around the stations for high density.

"We need to see this start to happen in the five- and 10-year time frame to critically say it's been a success," Mr. Hume says. And if Ottawa developers hesitate within that window, "we're prepared to go and pitch our opportunities to developers across the country."

Ottawa's LRT boosters often point to the Yonge subway line in Toronto, where the streets around Eglinton and St. Clair stations have significantly intensified since the subway line opened in the 1950s.

Seventy years, though, have elapsed since then, making developers and urban planners alike hesitant to believe Ottawa's LRT will give an immediate boost to density around stations. And not all Toronto subway stations have led to greater density: The land around many stations on the city's Bloor-Danforth line, even just outside of the downtown core, hasn't intensified at all.

George Dark, an urban designer and partner with Toronto consultancy Urban Strategies Inc., says that Ottawa's detailed plan should help it avoid Bloor-Danforth-style problems. "What Ottawa's done is the opposite," he says, and it's "sending clear signals for development."

Driving the charge to develop along the LRT will be the federal government, which is naturally Ottawa's biggest employer. "I would describe the line as a public-sector-driven light-rail project," says Kelvin Holmes, managing director of Colliers International's Ottawa office. The light rail line, he says, will allow governments to easily move employees or departments station to station.

The government is trying to update its civil service work place, launching the Workplace 2.0 program that opens up office spaces and shrinks the amount of floorspace per employee. It also involves moving to greener, Class-A office space, which in many cases means moving out of Ottawa's downtown B- and C-class buildings. LRT stations will offer a natural place to put these offices while keeping employees a stone's throw from transit and, in turn, the core.

The rail line will change the way a huge number of Ottawans live and work. While new developments will cluster around suburban stations, the LRT should directly boost the value of the properties on or near the underground downtown stations, too, says Frannie Heeney, a market intelligence co-ordinator with Colliers in Ottawa.

In a report published last month, Ms. Heeney wrote that demand for both residential and office space in the core should grow with the LRT, boosting property values and rental rates - especially within 400 metres of station entrances. People want to live downtown, or at least work there, but buses and parking can be frustrating - LRT will make either option easier.

The much-discussed future network of underground shops and businesses next to the stations, like Toronto's PATH system, will only further boost property value. Light rail may also encourage more amenity-focused businesses to locate in the core, as far-flung residents have easier access to the core, Colliers says.

The office vacancy rate in downtown Ottawa rose to 8.8 per cent in the first quarter from 6.9 per cent a year prior. While government departments are vacating some of their space in the core, Ms. Heeney says it will give smaller, private companies an opportunity to move into "really interesting space in the downtown." Meanwhile, more distant office spaces in transit-barren industrial areas will likely see greater vacancy in the coming years.

A bustling downtown makes sense to Mr. Myers, who manages $1.8-billion worth of property in the city through Morguard. "A lot of people like to work downtown because of the vibrancy, the sense of being where the action is - more so, probably, in this city because of the Hill."

But he isn't ready to quantify the LRT's impact. "We'll have to wait and see."




The number of stations set to open by 2018.


The number of kilometres of tunnels beneath the city core.


The number of housing units and 31 million square feet of non-residential space planned along six stations, according to City of Ottawa development study.

Josh O'Kane

Mill invested in production, not safety
WorkSafeBC concludes safety committee overlooked the sawdust problems at Lakeland
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

VICTORIA -- The owners of the Lakeland sawmill in Prince George invested millions of dollars in recent years to boost production, but didn't put the same effort into safety measures, an investigation into the explosion that killed two workers has concluded.

Greg Stewart, president of the company that owns Lakeland Mills, said Tuesday his company will embrace a culture of safety when a new replacement mill opens this fall, but maintained management "did everything reasonable to ensure our mill was safe."

The WorkSafeBC investigation noted there had been five fires involving sawdust at the mill in the months before the incident - including one the same day a dust-fuelled explosion flattened the Babine Forest Products sawmill in Burns Lake, killing two workers at that facility. There were known problems with the dust collection system, and numerous violations of the safety standards for electrical equipment.

Money was being spent on upgrades, but the priority was on producing more lumber. WorkSafeBC found that the mill had expanded its production capabilities, but the waste conveyors for those new systems were not installed. "There had been little work done on the sawmill dust collection system and the problems that this wood waste was causing," the investigation said.

The mill's own safety committee overlooked the problems, the investigation found.

"The accumulation of sawdust and the urgent need for its removal appears to have gone unnoticed in these inspections," the report says. "Dust was permitted to accumulate even in plain sight ... Some workers may have become complacent, whereas others stated that they were tired of complaining about it as nothing was ever done."

But WorkSafeBC's own inspections also glossed over the dust problem. On Feb. 3, 2012, a Lakeland employee anonymously called the agency to complain about excessive sawdust buildup on horizontal surfaces in the mill. The whistleblower said he was concerned about it "turning into the next Burns Lake sawmill." WorkSafeBC's inspectors, however, found no reason for alarm, and no violation orders were issued.

On Monday, the Criminal Justice Branch announced the company will face no charges in connection with the deaths of Glenn Roche and Al Little. Crown Counsel found that WorkSafeBC's failure to warn the company about the explosive risk of sawdust blunted the chances of a successful prosecution - a key reason no charges were laid.

Mr. Stewart welcomed the Crown's decision, saying it is impossible to pin the blame on one person or entity. However, he said the the company "failed the expectations" of its workers to keep them safe, and said he is "eternally sorry" for the deaths and injuries that occurred at his mill two years ago.

At a news conference in Prince George, he acknowledged the incident has undermined confidence in the company's safety record, which he said has always been central to operations. He said when the new mill opens, "we are going to make sure they understand they are safe, and they can refuse work if they are unsafe."

But Steve Hunt, regional president of the United Steelworkers' union, said the failure to bring forward charges in either of the deadly mill explosions demands a complete overhaul of the province's worker protection system that is failing in its primary task.

"You need very strong regulations that are prescriptive and enforced and that didn't happen here," he said. He added that WorkSafeBC should not be trusted to handle investigations into serious injuries and deaths in the workplace - something that should be left to the RCMP.

NDP Leader Adrian Dix, who met Tuesday with the injured workers and families of the workers who were killed at Lakeland, dismissed the government's promise to revamp WorkSafeBC, with a new administrator to look at a new structure to improve prevention efforts and investigations. Mr. Dix said that the government wants to "tinker" to avoid a public inquiry that might expose its own role in reducing workplace safety to ease the regulatory burden for employers.

"This isn't in any way sufficient," he said. "WorkSafe gets a tip about sawdust and nothing happens? There was clearly a policy decision not to deal with dust. And they don't want an independent assessment of that."



Jan. 19, 2012: A fire breaks out at Lakeland Mills Ltd. in Prince George. An equipment malfunction has caused sparks, which set fire to sawdust situated on a headrig. No workers are injured, though one describes a "big ball of flame." Fires are not infrequent at sawmills and at Lakeland they date back as far as 1999.

Jan. 22, 2012: An explosion at the Babine sawmill in Burns Lake kills two workers and injures 19.

Feb. 3, 2012: An anonymous Lakeland worker calls WorkSafeBC to complain about excessive buildup of sawdust. The worker expresses concern the sawdust will turn "[Lakeland] into the next Burns Lake."

Feb. 6, 2012: Two WorkSafeBC officers attend Lakeland to investigate the complaint. One says there does not appear to be excessive dust and the situation does not call for issuing an order. The other officer says Lakeland is a clean mill in comparison to other operations.

April 23, 2012: An explosion at Lakeland kills two workers and injures 22 more. In the five years before the explosion, WorkSafeBC has cited Lakeland for 15 violations, but none were related to sawdust.

Nov. 29, 2012: WorkSafeBC announces it will prepare and forward a report on potential charges to the Crown.

Jan. 10, 2014: The Crown announces it will not approve charges in the Burns Lake explosion and points to a botched WorkSafeBC investigation.

Feb. 19, 2014: WorkSafeBC formally submits its Lakeland report to the Crown. It recommends four charges, two under the Workers Compensation Act (failing to ensure the health and safety of workers, and failing to remedy hazardous workplace conditions), and two under Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (failing to prevent the hazardous accumulation of material, and failing to safely remove combustible dust). The maximum cumulative fine is $2.6-million. There is no possibility of a prison term.

April 14, 2014: The Crown announces it will not approve charges in the Lakeland explosion. It says there is not a substantial likelihood of conviction, and that Lakeland would likely succeed on a defence of due diligence since WorkSafeBC's own officers hadn't flagged a risk.

The Crown says the manner in which WorkSafeBC conducted parts of its investigation likely would have rendered some evidence inadmissible. It says WorkSafeBC left a number of areas unexplored, including whether Lakeland officials had direct knowledge of the sawmill conditions and likelihood of an explosion.

Criminal Justice Branch

A new generation of moms meets an old favourite
Friday, April 18, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B7


Peanut butter may have a long shelf life, but the people who sell it are worried it's getting old.

On Monday, Kraft Canada will launch a new advertising campaign and a total rebranding of one of its most recognizable brands. Its peanut butter is a top-performing product for Kraft, but an all-important advertising target is not buying as much. Heads of households who are millennials - broadly defined as those born between 1980 and 1994 - are buying 13 per cent less peanut butter in Canada than the average consumer.

(Kraft's research does not show a correlation between those slightly lower sales and concerns about peanut allergies. That makes sense, since allergies have been a factor long before the latest generation started having kids.)

Marketers have recognized the importance of speaking to this younger cohort of digitally savvy people. But now that they are starting to have kids of their own, this consumer segment is posing a new challenge for companies that have to figure out how to communicate with a new generation of moms.

The new Kraft campaign is an attempt to do just that.

The ad shows a mother giving a teddy bear to her baby; as the baby grows, she takes her bear with her everywhere (in a nod to the target viewer, at around 12 years old, the girl is dressed in nineties-era rolled-up jean shorts and canvas shoes). Eventually, she becomes a mother herself (with bangs, and wearing skinny jeans) and her baby gets a bear as well. Ellie Goulding, a singer whose voice will be recognizable for younger viewers, provides the soundtrack.

Kraft has made the teddy bears far more central to the package design of the peanut butter, and it's a strategic move: The ad purposefully includes very few shots of the product itself or the brand name. It is focused much more on the emotional story.

"Companies that will win in the future are those that humanize their brands," Leisha Roche, senior director of marketing for grocery brands at Kraft Canada, said as she showed off a real-life model of the teddy bear at Kraft headquarters in Toronto this week. "You can't just push your brand any more."

That's because these new moms are consuming media in a digital environment more than ever before. They grew up with the Internet. That means brands aren't competing against other ads on TV; to be heard, their messages need to be compelling enough to compete in a broader digital environment where people are posting readable, watchable, human content all the time.

Marketers have always tried to reach mothers - according to some statistics, they control up to 85 per cent of household purchasing decisions. But these younger moms are not just consuming media in a different way; they also believe advertisers are fundamentally out of touch. In fact, 42 per cent of millennial moms believe that "most advertising and marketing is not geared to women like me," compared to 36 per cent of all moms, according to a survey from communications firm Weber Shandwick, which spoke to 2,000 women in North America.

"What we've heard from millennial moms is that the bar of creativity in marketing to them is too low," said Katherine Wintsch, founder and chief executive officer of The Mom Complex, a Richmond, Va.-based consulting firm that helps clients including Kellogg's, Unilever and Wal-Mart market to mothers more effectively. "It's typically a mom in a cardigan talking to the camera about her cleaning products. It's tutorial, and boring, and they react against that."

Kraft is not the only marketer recognizing the importance of changing that. This past holiday shopping season, Fisher-Price increased its spending on digital advertising by 50 per cent in the U.S., saying that younger moms (born in the eighties or early nineties) have become a greater focus for its marketing.

The Mattel Inc. toy brand's campaign, "Share the Joy," included three online videos. But plenty of advertisers have warmed up to the promise of online videos: The difference here was that Fisher-Price offered an incentive (a $5 coupon) for visiting the brand website where the videos were hosted, and another coupon if they shared a video with their friends.

That's an important strategy with this demographic. According to research firm Mintel, 26 per cent of moms aged 18 to 34 said they would be more likely to buy something if they had seen friends recommend it online.

Like Kraft, Fisher-Price was trying to push its brand with a relatable tone that was a departure from its past advertising.

"Unlike previous Fisher-Price advertising that focused on product features, the 'Share the Joy' campaign introduced a more playful tone and manner we thought would resonate better with the millennial mom," said Geoff Walker, executive vice-president of Fisher-Price global brands.

The ads were effective: In the U.S., the videos were viewed roughly three million times and 1.6 million coupons were downloaded.

"They're the first generation to grow up using technology, and it informs everything they do," said Diane Ridgway-Cross, executive vice-president at Montreal-based advertising firm Marketel, which has just launched a division called Marketelle, focused on marketing to women.

Advertising will not just have to get better; it needs to get real. The research shows a growing demand for depictions of mothers with realistic, messy lives. Kelly Ripa breezing through her immaculate kitchen wearing heels and maintaining perfect hair while balancing a career and a family? That's not aspirational, it's infuriating.

Tide detergent has done a great job showing families' lives as messy and chaotic; and that resonates with moms who have given up aspiring to perfection. (A recent ad featuring a father caring for his three daughters is a particular winner, Ms. Ridgway-Cross said, because women - not just men - are sick of seeing dads depicted as incompetent morons.)

In the second phase of the peanut butter campaign this summer, Kraft is hiring anthropologists to explore the phenomenon of distracted living - and is working on social events designed to bring people closer together.

And it will be watching the results of the campaign closely; the company will be shifting its advertising across many of its brands to better speak to millennial moms.

"Moms can make the connection between an emotional message and a brand, without you beating them over the head," Ms. Wintsch said. "In research they tell us, 'I want to laugh, I want to feel something.'"

Taking a business cue from games
Special to The Globe and Mail
Monday, April 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B4

If you're interested in changing behaviour in your workplace, helping employees or customers to develop new skills, or spurring innovation, you may want to consider the approach known as gamification. If that scares you - given that the word is ugly and sounds as if you would just be encouraging staff to play video games - Brian Burke, a vice-president at technology research firm Gartner Inc., says you should relax.

Gamification is actually not about playing games. Games are about entertainment. Gamification is serious stuff, using game mechanics such as badges and awards to digitally engage and motivate people to achieve their goals.

"It's not entertainment. It's motivation," Mr. Burke said in an interview.

He points to the Boy Scouts, which has long used badges to motivate youngsters, and Weight Watchers, which uses a points system and social encouragement to nudge dieters. Both are examples of gamification from the days before the term was even coined. "It provides them with the encouragement, motivation, and clear path to achieve a goal," he said.

Mr. Burke stresses that when using gamification, it is vital that the emphasis not be on organizational goals but on motivating people to achieve their own goals. When those personal objectives are aligned with the organizational goals, you can hit the gamification jackpot.

Behavioural change is the most common use for gamification. It comes in handy because new habits must be created to change behaviour, and gamification can excite us to adopt those practices.

In his book Gamify, Mr. Burke notes that Spanish bank BBVA used gamification to encourage customers to use its online services. The BBVA Game, which has 80,000 users, rewards players for completing challenges that educate them about Web banking, encouraging them to use the service. Points are awarded, which can lead to prizes. It has led to a 5-per-cent increase in BBVA's Web-banking users, who spend 60-per-cent more time on the site. Because online banking can be easier than going to a branch, the game is aligned with customers' needs. But it's also aligned with BBVA's needs, because it reduces costs.

Samsung Electronics focused on customers with its social loyalty program, dubbed Samsung Nation. Customers are rewarded with points, levels and badges for watching product videos or commenting on Samsung products. The program has doubled the number of items placed in online shopping carts.

A key to success for behavioural change is to increase complexity over time. The BBVA Game starts by encouraging customers to watch instructional videos and then try simple operations such as checking an account balance. As users become more confident with the help of coaching, they move to more complex tasks such as paying bills.

Gamification can also help people to build their skills. Learning new skills often requires a repetitive process of lectures and practice, which gamification can handle. Or if the skill is best learned in an experiential way - such as being presented with a problem to solve - gamification can provide a vehicle for collaboration with others.

There have long been games that can teach new skills, such as Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? (a series of video and computer games and TV shows designed to stimulate kids' interest in geography, cultures and history). But Mr. Burke says those are games first, and skill-builders second. Gamification puts the skill-building first.

U.S. organizations such as Capital BlueCross are using it to educate members on the complexities of health care. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services applied a gamified solution to educate health-care practitioners on best practices about privacy and security.

A key element of design is to create theory-practice loops. Players are provided with instruction, a challenge, and feedback on their efforts. "Gamification breaks the learning process into small, achievable steps and provides constant feedback and encouragement throughout the process," Mr. Burke writes in his book.

To spur innovation, gamification can encourage people to submit innovative ideas, evaluate proposals and then collaborate to refine the idea into reality. Quirky, a crowdsourcing product-development company that has more than 6,000 inventors as members and has launched more than 400 new products since 2009, uses gamification in this way.

While he is an enthusiast, Mr. Burke warns that the biggest challenge facing companies is to understand the limitations as well as the opportunities of gamification.

"A lot of organizations are pursuing opportunities that are unlikely to be successful with gamification," he said. Faced with a problem, they throw some points at it and hope a solution will materialize. Instead, you need to figure out how a point system might work, how to employ collaboration, and whether what you are designing can hold for the long term as well as short term.

But if you get it right, he believes you can harness the power of game design to great benefit for your organization.




Keep turnaround times tight

Your backlog - the deadlines for projects and commitments you're handling - should usually be one to two weeks, Toronto productivity consultant Ann Gomez suggests. Stretch beyond that and you might find your work quality subpar, deadlines missed, and office time a drudgery.

Clear Concept


Motivate employees with tailored plans

Create a motivational profile for each employee, starting from when he or she is being recruited, HR expert John Sullivan advises. Catalogue the most effective non-monetary motivators, best form of recognition, preferred formal rewards - and the negative factors that will demotivate and frustrate the person.

Business of HR Blog


Teamwork tops in research

A look at the journal Nature by consultant Ben Waber shows innovation does not come from a lone genius. The five papers most cited by others - research that is changing entire scientific fields - all had multiple authors. Over all, there were almost 10 times the citations for multiple-author papers as single-author works.

Business Week


Go ahead, be kind to your boss

If your boss has supported you or gone to bat for you on a project, thank him or her, Ottawa consultant Shaun Belding says. If your boss is having some challenges in the workplace or with his or her boss, ask whether you can do anything to help.


Print comments in Word documents

If you wish to print the comments made on a Word document, select Print from the File menu; on the subsequent Print What drop-down box, pick Comments; and then click on OK.

Allen Wyatt's WordTips

Harper tells state funeral that his former finance minister 'sacrificed himself' for his country; family members pay tribute, with son saying, 'He showed me what it takes to be a man'
Thursday, April 17, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A6

TORONTO -- Stephen Harper bid a final goodbye to a central player in his eight-year-old government, delivering a tearful and highly personal eulogy to Jim Flaherty that shed new light on the partnership that steered Canada through tough economic times.

He revealed that Mr. Flaherty, who suffered health problems in recent years, had wanted to quit in 2010 but stuck to the finance minister's job because he wanted to balance the books before leaving - a stubbornness the Prime Minister suggested had cost him physically.

"He believed he had taken on a responsibility for all of our families, not just his own and he was prepared to make sacrifices - ultimately, although he did not know it, to sacrifice himself," Mr. Harper told a crowd of more than 1,800 at St. James Cathedral in Toronto.

Mr. Flaherty died April 10 of an apparent heart attack only weeks after announcing he was leaving the Finance portfolio and politics for private life. He was given a state funeral Wednesday that attracted former prime ministers and dignitaries.

Mr. Flaherty's wife, Christine Elliott, and two of their three sons - Quinn and Galen - paid tribute to their father's hard-driving personality, which saw him work as hard in public life as he did raising a family.

"Dad, I love you. We love you," said Quinn Flaherty, who was flanked by his mother and brothers. "Put your feet up, lay your head back, close your eyes and relax. We will take it from here."

Ms. Elliott recalled first meeting her husband when they worked at the same law firm. That first day they spoke, she said, he barely looked up from his work.

"That was Jim: driven, intense, a perfectionist," she said. "He was the most intelligent man I ever met and his clarity of thought was unparalleled."

Partly inspired by his son John, who has a developmental disability, Mr. Flaherty cared about helping people of differing abilities. Even as he was working to balance the books in Ottawa, he and Ms. Elliott helped set up the Abilities Centre in Whitby, Ont.

He was close with his sons, she said, recalling the many times he would bond with John at live sporting events.

"Jim wanted to make a difference in people's lives - that's why he entered public life," Ms. Elliott said. "He wanted to make sure that everyone, regardless of their varying abilities, have the chance to live happy lives of purpose and dignity."

Mr. Harper, for his part, used an 18-minute address that was by turns poignant, funny and sad to offer Canadians a glimpse into his relationship with Mr. Flaherty.

The Prime Minister said that his finance minister hung in the job despite informing him four years ago that he would prefer to quit were it not for the fact Ottawa's finances were in deep deficit.

"He deliberately set his own plans aside and put off his goals for his family," Mr. Harper recalled.

"And every year after that, without any prompting from me, the call would come and Jim would say, 'Prime Minister, I'm still worried about the global economy and we're not yet in balance. I want to do one more budget.' "

Mr. Flaherty resigned in March, shortly after tabling a budget that forecast balanced books by 2015, if not earlier.

In recent years, however, he suffered a serious physical toll. Mr. Flaherty was afflicted by a rare skin disorder, one that required strong steroid treatment with side effects that included facial swelling, bloating, puffiness, difficulty sleeping and significant weight gain.

Mr. Harper said Mr. Flaherty insisted on remaining as finance minister throughout. "And so he did year after year, work away on the next phase of the Economic Action Plan, even as, in the past couple of years, it became more and more difficult for him, and sometimes hard to watch, as every one of you could plainly see."

Mr. Harper also revealed he and Mr. Flaherty regularly locked horns about policies in private, even though they shared the same underlying conservative philosophy.

"On the specifics of the many and complex priorities before us, we often had, at least initially, different views."

He said their differences normally disappeared during budget-planning negotiating sessions. "When they didn't, occasionally, I imposed a final decision," Mr. Harper said.

"Occasionally, I decided he was probably right. And occasionally, I decided he was wrong but let him have his way, but I just got so damned tired of arguing with him," he said to laughter from the assembled crowd.

Mr. Flaherty was known for self-deprecating jokes about his height and Mr. Harper took a page from his former finance minister, offering an observation about the Whitby politician at his own expense.

Calling Mr. Flaherty a principled, yet "ruthlessly pragmatic" man, the Prime Minister noted he was combative and had a "quick and biting temper but also a "deep and gentle sense of humour."

At the same time, Mr. Harper said, even Mr. Flaherty's enemies admired and respected him.

The Prime Minister joked that he was jealous of his finance minister in this respect.

"That's something in this business, something I envy - I can't even get my friends to like me," Mr. Harper said to laughter from the crowd.

He also revealed a more personal side of himself as he addressed Mr. Flaherty's triplet sons and shared the pain of losing his father in an effort to console them.

"I lost my own father almost exactly to the day, 11 years ago," Mr. Harper said. "From that period, I remember almost nothing of what I said or what was said to me, so powerful were the waves of emotion."

But, he assured them, it gets better. "Once that passed, and perspective took hold, I came to appreciate my father's place in my life, probably even more fully and deeply than if he were still here.

"And it is all good. And it will be for you," he said.

Galen Flaherty said that of Mr. Flaherty's many titles over the years - from Ontario attorney-general and deputy premier to federal finance minister - his most important was father.

"My father was a politician because he loved his country. He was my dad because he somehow won my mom," he said. "But at the end of the day, he was my father because he showed me what it takes to be a man. He gave me an example that I will aspire to for the rest of my life."

Business acumen and a love of fine liquor
An entrepreneur, a professor and son with a passion for craft spirits created Dillon's Small Batch Distillers in Ontario
Tuesday, April 8, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B6

You could easily pass the unassuming barn off the highway in Ontario's Niagara Region and miss the alcohol alchemy going on inside.

Or you could see Geoff Dillon, an unassuming 28-year-old local, sporting a black tuque and working around the barn with his black poodle Sam.

Or you could look past the bottle he offers with its unassuming label and not get around to trying the gin he produces.

But you'd be missing the story of Dillon's Small Batch Distillers, operating out of that modest blue barn in Beamsville, nestled between Hamilton and St. Catharines. Running a distillery has been more than just Mr. Dillon's obsession since college. The business is also a blend of his father's and father-in-law's disparate interests.

Sitting in the distillery's simply decorated and welcoming sipping room, Geoff describes how his father Peter Dillon, an environmental chemist who teaches at Trent University in Peterborough, Ont., and specializes in pollutants such as acid rain, always emphasized to his children to do something in life they love. For the father, that meant continually experimenting with ingredients in the kitchen. In Peter's words, "cooking, beer making, wine making, all these things are just another kind of chemistry, in a way."

He's also a collector, amassing a selection of one bottle from every whisky distillery in Scotland. He's nearly there with 90 to 95 bottles, roughly 20 short of a full collection. This passion seeped into Geoff's own interests, he says.

On the other side of the family, Geoff's father-in-law Gary Huggins is a Toronto entrepreneur who has created and managed businesses in the technology and consultancy sectors including DHR International Inc. and Insight Business Consultants.

Even if Geoff hadn't married his daughter Whitney, Mr. Huggins says he has a soft spot for anyone so obviously following his life's passion. Both fathers have been working with Geoff since the distillery opened in late 2012, Mr. Dillon doing R&D and experimenting with flavours in a little lab built for him at the distillery, and Mr. Huggins handling much of the business side as chairperson.

Mr. Huggins, who still works in Toronto as a business consultant, pushed the younger Mr. Dillon early on to write the business plan, and helped bring in some friends to provide extra financial backing, topping off the money the family was investing. They expect to bring in more backers in the coming year as the young company grows. "He had this dream and he was very passionate about it, and as I learned later, his father was passionate about it. And I thought, 'My gosh, that's a great combination,'" Mr. Huggins says.

Among only a few notable craft distilleries in Ontario, Dillon's Small Batch has already cultivated a growing market.

The Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) sells Dillon's gins and rye in its liquor stores across the province. Williams-Sonoma stocks its bitters throughout North America. And the company's spirits can be found in most upscale Toronto bars, Geoff says. The company is now looking to make inroads along the Atlantic seaboard. On the cusp of turning a profit, Dillon's is anticipating a big year coming up, when its first batch of whisky aged the necessary three years - as required in Canada - will become available.

Geoff describes it all with a young man's staccato. And it's in the back of the barn with the towering distillery where he becomes more animated.

"I love every single aspect of the way it was built and how it works," he says over the gentle rumble and sloshing of the tanks and pipes at work. "We designed it with a German firm [distillery fabricator Carl GmbH]. It's a complete one-off. There's never been another one exactly like it. We designed it for exactly what we want."

Dillon's ethos is to use local ingredients as much as possible. The gin is distilled from locally grown grapes. Wineries in the region love this. Dillon's is buying some of the harvest the wineries would otherwise throw away. And instead of eliminating flavours from the alcohol to get a purer taste, Dillon's is all about keeping flavours in and adding hints of others.

Geoff points to the distillery's network of curving pipes angling out of the two main vats and tall vertical columns. "You see that stainless steel elbow? That open pipe? We have four different elbows up there, so every day we can climb up, move elbows around. Right now we're distilling right up to 94, 95 per cent alcohol. Tomorrow we can go, 'You know what? Let's move some elbows. We don't want it to get that high [in alcohol levels]. We want to make a gin, we don't want to lose flavours. We'll bypass both of these columns and it'll just be a pot still, we'll put some botanicals in the helmet and make a gin.'

"The next day, we want to do a pear eau-de-vie [distilled from Niagara pears]. We want mid-70s-per-cent alcohol. It's going to get us a smooth product that has lots of flavour. So we move some elbows around," Geoff says. "We've got so much freedom with this guy, we can do anything."

This is home for Geoff, although his actual home is an old schoolhouse on an adjacent property, which he is renovating with his wife, who is studying to become a family doctor.

After attending the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont., for a double major in biology and economics, Geoff held a series of jobs, all with the end goal of starting the distillery, he said. One year he worked in equities trading in Toronto, another he worked a harvest at a winery, all while gradually introducing himself to the Niagara business community.

"I fell in love with the idea of distilling, understanding the process behind it and how interesting it really is. I never really thought we would make a business out of it. But then seeing this explosion during university in craft distilling around North America, mainly in the U.S., it started to become more and more real." That's when he says he realized, "I think this might actually work."



Part one of a three-part series on entrepreneurs who have built businesses based on personal hobbies or passions.

The Bank of Canada and beyond
Western's golden age of economics
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B4

Forget the Calgary School. The maverick campus in southern Alberta may still influence policy among Stephen Harper's Conservatives, but the economists holding the levers at the powerful Bank of Canada are products of the Mustang campus in Southern Ontario.

Last week's appointment of Carolyn Wilkins to the No. 2 position at the central bank - senior deputy governor - puts yet another Western University economics graduate in the upper echelons of the country's monetary-policy brain trust, joining Governor Stephen Poloz and deputy governor Timothy Lane. Together, they account for half of the policy-setting Governing Council. The man she succeeds, Tiff Macklem, is another Western economics grad.

All four are products of a golden era of economics at Western in the late 1970s and 1980s that made the sleepy London, Ont., campus a global hotbed for monetary theory and inflation research. A fortuitous combination of a young, energetic and talented faculty, an influx of exceptional graduate students and the burning real-world economic questions of the period came together to create a rich atmosphere for debate and discovery that produced exceptional work, launching a generation of Canadian economic leaders and building the intellectual base on which the central bank sits today.

"In retrospect, I think the department did catch lightning in a bottle," said Bank of Montreal chief economist Douglas Porter, who earned his master's degree in the program in 1984.

And the spark for this lightning came from two talented and ambitious British economists named David Laidler and Michael Parkin - who might have never ended up in Canada, but for an inflation crisis an ocean away.

In 1975, Mr. Laidler and Mr. Parkin, both in their mid-30s, were working together at the University of Manchester, and were rising stars on the global economics scene. Their passion was inflation, which by that time had ballooned into the world's most critical economic issue. They had established the Manchester Inflation Workshop in the early 1970s, which gained international attention for ground-breaking research. The young academics were routinely rubbing shoulders with the luminaries of their profession.

But their professional passion was also their personal problem. The inflation rate in Britain surged above 25 per cent in 1975; strikes were rampant and budget deficits were soaring. Britain's government sought to rein in wages - including freezing those of university professors. As a result, Mr. Parkin and Mr. Laidler were seeing their real income dropping by 25 per cent a year. At the same time, funding for universities, and their research, was drying up. They began looking for greener pastures.

"We were definitely pushed," Mr. Parkin said in a recent interview.

Meanwhile, Grant Reuber - the provost at Western who had been the head of the economics department (and would later become federal deputy minister of finance and then chief operating officer at Bank of Montreal) - was on a mission to turn Western into a leading school for economics, not just in Canada but the world. He and Mr. Laidler had crossed paths at the University of Chicago in the early 1960s; he made an offer.

And when Harry Johnson, the legendary Canadian economist who was a friend and mentor to Mr. Parkin and Mr. Laidler, convinced them that Western would be a strong fit for their talents, that cemented the move.

They came to a department that was a powder keg of young talent; Mr. Laidler and Mr. Parkin, at 35, were the elder statesmen on faculty. The arrival of the two internationally known inflation researchers propelled the school to the global stage, and the two new stars quickly became a draw for top-notch graduate students and researchers.

"Economics was very exciting at that time," Mr. Laidler said. "The inflation of the 1960s and early 1970s had generated a whole passel of new research problems for people to work on. There was Milton [Friedman] and his whole monetarism counter-revolution. This was generating controversy. The subject was wide open. A lot of bright people were attracted to economics."

The economics department thrived on a youthful exuberance and collegiality that would be near impossible to duplicate today. There was little age gap between the students and the mentors - they were a group of peers, both at work and at play. Mr. Porter recalled that on the department's intramural basketball team, three of the five starters were professors.

"There was only sort of 10 years between us and the graduate students," Mr. Laidler said. "There were lots of parties, and lots of sitting in the bar until one in the morning. We all had lots of energy."

At the core of Mr. Laidler and Mr. Parkin's inflation work were ideas that over the past two decades have become widely accepted, and today form the heart of policy at the Bank of Canada and many other central banks. They helped popularize the notion that inflation was a monetary matter - that by influencing the growth of money supply, via interest rates, central bankers could tame inflation. They explored the concept that specific inflation targets could be a stabilizing basis for monetary policy.

It all sounds obvious now; indeed, the Bank of Canada has operated with an inflation target since 1991. But in the mid- to late 1970s, all this was pretty radical thinking. Elected officials and public policy makers saw inflation as "a sociological phenomenon that might be contained through direct controls on wages and prices," Mr. Parkin said.

"About three months after I got to Canada, Pierre Trudeau was on my television telling me that inflation was being caused by trade unions and aggressive firms' pricing," Mr. Laidler recalled. "I don't think he mentioned monetary policy at all. I had a purple fit!"

Mr. Parkin and Mr. Laidler's proteges at the Bank of Canada face a different problem today; rather than runaway inflation, they are wrestling with unusually low inflation levels. Still, the country's ongoing lack of business investment is, at its root, a money-supply issue; Mr. Poloz's concern about low inflation boils down to the stability of price expectations. The issues debated at Western three decades ago remain central to Canada's current monetary policy discussion.

"Bottom line is that inflation needs to be well anticipated to deliver strong growth and low unemployment," Mr. Parkin said. "If Steve remembers properly the lessons of [Milton Friedman's 1963 book] A Monetary History of the United States and follows its advice, we'll be fine."

Rise of the affordable robot: Cheap robotics tip into mass market
Monday, April 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A1

Baxter is the very model of a modern-day employee.

Eyebrows furrowed in quiet concentration, he's quick to learn skills that can be used to package bottles or move products on factory lines. He's easy to train and gentle, meaning no safety cage is needed to work nearby. And he'll toil round the clock to get the job done.

He also happens to be a metre-tall (minus the pedestal) red robot, newly acquired by Toronto's Humber College and made by Boston's Rethink Robotics, which has sold hundreds of Baxters in recent years. His face - a screen - sports six expressions, from confused to asleep, and his long agile arms have sensors and two-finger grippers.

The real game changer: At $25,000, he's comparatively affordable for a robot, whose costs have traditionally run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

He's as good a symbol as any of the coming revolution in the workplace as robots get smarter, more mobile - and cheaper. As companies such as Google, Apple and Amazon plunge into robotics - and the ingredients to make them, such as sensors, drop in price - these technologies are at a tipping point, poised to enter mass markets.

The impact on employment will be profound. On the one hand, machines could take over many of the most dirty, dangerous and dull jobs, leaving humans with less repetitive, safer and more interesting work. A long-standing debate, though, is being rekindled over the extent to which machines will reduce the need for workers.

Automation is already a workplace mainstay in factories, warehouses and airports. In the coming decade or two, nearly half of U.S. jobs are at risk of becoming automated, a recent paper by Oxford University concluded (its probability list shows telemarketers and bank tellers are most vulnerable to computerization, while occupational therapists and choreographers are among the least at risk).

"We're really entering an era of anxiety about [whether] the rate at which technology is changing is actually reducing opportunity," David Autor, economics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in a February speech at an Ottawa conference.

The jobs most ripe for replacement are routine tasks that tend to be repetitive and in controlled environments, such as bookkeepers, he says. Jobs that require abstract thinking - problem solving and mental flexibility - are harder to replace, such as scientists and managers.

Machines are thus most likely to carve out middle-skill occupations, which partly explains the hollowing out of the middle class in North America and the polarization in the labour market, with growth in both high-skill and low-skill occupations, he says.

Anxiety over worker displacement isn't new. A century ago, angry workers trashed power looms in frustration at the labour-saving machinery. In the 1960s, the Milwaukee-Matic, an industrial machining tool, became a symbol of a machine that could eliminate the need for tool makers.

Still, Paul Beaudry is skeptical a sudden surge in robots-stealing-jobs is under way. The professor at the Vancouver School of Economics notes the big increase in automation happened in many factories in prior decades. In recent years, though, business investment has been sluggish. He figures the anxiety stems from still-elevated unemployment rates and an accelerating pace of technological change.

He's less concerned about machines replacing workers than about the impact of technology on income inequality. "It's not so much that there won't be jobs ... but technology can create polarization in the level of wages, moving people to either being superstars are getting enormous amounts of money while other people are getting very little," Prof. Beaudry says.

The rate of change appears to be ramping up. Automation is rapidly taking over the duties of travel agents, accountants, front-desk receptionists and post-office workers. New capabilities are unveiled every day. Robots are cooks, with IBM food trucks serving machine-made asparagus quiche. In schools, robots are being tested as teachers' assistants. In journalism, an algorithm wrote a story on the earthquake last month for an L.A. Times reporter. In trucking, Suncor is testing autonomous vehicles at its open-pit mine in Alberta, which could lead to fewer accidents and higher productivity.

Their reach is extending to less traditional arenas. Brian is a University of Toronto robot developed to care for the elderly, an area of rising need as the population ages. He gently reminds seniors to eat their lunch. He can play memory games with them and suggest recipes. Brian costs just a few thousand dollars and will likely be on the market in the next decade.

"I don't see this as replacing jobs," says Prof. Goldie Nejat, who is also developing robots that can look for people in rubble following earthquakes. Rather, like computers or cellphones, she says these are new tools to assist workers doing dangerous or stressful jobs.

Mobile robots buzz and hum about the University of Waterloo's student labs. Driverless trucks could materialize on main highways within the next five years - reducing the need for truck drivers, says Steven Waslander, assistant professor at the department of mechanical and mechatronics engineering. He envisions robots flying about inspecting pipelines from the air, detecting fires in warehouses and mapping post-disaster areas in real time - leaving less repetitive and safer work for humans.

Some industries do want to reduce reliance on workers. In Niagara's horticultural heartland, technology is being developed to eventually replace migrant workers. Labour comprises about 40 per cent of a typical operation's expenses and the sector is looking for ways to cut that.

At the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, a test robot hoovers up white mushrooms from a box of dark earth.

Next door, another is labelling and packaging pots of pink mini-roses.

"We need to solve the labour-cost problem," says chief executive Jim Brandle. "We have minimum wage going up and we have to compete with the rest of the world. The solution to that is automation."

Where does that leave the younger generation? These shifts mean skills such as problem-solving, conflict management, resiliency and creativity are ever more important if they are to compete with machines for work.

Already, more students are picking robotics as one career option. Schools such as Humber, Waterloo and University of Toronto are boosting capacity in their robotics and mechatronics programs - with virtually all students landing work after graduation.

A taste for the food scene
Digital marketer marries passion for design with love of cuisine to focus on restaurants
Special to The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, April 22, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B7

TORONTO -- Behind Amin Todai's desk hangs a portrait of the late, great hip-hop legend The Notorious B.I.G.

A poker-faced Biggie stares out, overlooking the sprawling syndicate of digital marketing agency OneMethod's 45 or so employees in the Toronto office, a loose array of snapback ball caps and headphones, eyes affixed to iMac screens.

They're elbow-to-elbow, unused counter space is a coveted commodity at the digital and design agency. An employee has even commandeered Mr. Todai's office for a conference call.

Mr. Todai pokes his head in, wearing his trademark grin.

"Want to check out the bar we're building in the new office?" asks the 37-year-old president and chief creative officer. He's dressed like a hip-hop star, chain peeking from the collar of his shirt.

We walk across the freshly dry-walled passageway leading to the second high-ceilinged, recently gutted office plunked on the stretch of King Street between Bathurst and Spadina affectionately known as Agency Row.

OneMethod is expanding.

"Over here we're going to have the bar called The Meth Lab and back there we'll have a showroom type thing for our restaurant incubator," says Mr. Todai. At the moment, it's a chaotic mess of damp dust, exposed wires and awkwardly placed stepladders but he talks as if the additions are there already.

Though OneMethod was acquired in 2012 by advertising agency Bensimon Byrne and he was made a partner, that hasn't stopped him from continuing to build a range of other companies, especially in the culinary and design fields, passions of his.

Over the past 13 years he's fashioned himself an empire ranging from OneMethod to his pivotal role in the success of eight restaurants, including the much-hyped taco peddler La Carnita, which took off as a pop-up restaurant and art sale in surprise locations around town.

As a teenager, Mr. Todai had his heart set on going to design school, but his parents, who were paying for his education, wanted him to take a business-oriented route.

"They weren't going to pay for an art college so I thought, 'How do I get around this and fake my way into design?' " Mr. Todai says. He settled on studying marketing at Ryerson University in Toronto.

"While I was there, I taught myself all the design programs," he says.

It was a double life, with days reserved for business school and evenings and commutes spent devouring design textbooks.

By graduation, Mr. Todai was an all-in-one marketing department. He did a year-and-a-half stint in marketing at Siemens AG before joining the now-defunct - an early crowdsourcing incubator where people submitted ideas and the team, including Mr. Todai, built out the concepts to pitch to venture capitalists.

It was at that he learned "the smoke and mirrors of building a business."

After a year and a half toying with others' ideas, it was time for his own.

He took a job in marketing at Rogers Communications Inc. to build a cash cushion and in 2001 launched OneMethod from his condo.

He added employees as his client base swelled.

"I just started filling my living room with more and more desks, my bedroom became one of the board rooms, the balcony was the other conference room - I had two people working at my coffee table," Mr. Todai says. "You did what you had to do."

It was not much different than OneMethod's current "at capacity" condition.

In 2007, while building OneMethod, he launched Picture Perfect Motoring - a customization shop for high-end super cars - with former Toronto Raptors player Morris Peterson.

That company closed its doors two years later.

"That was my first failure at a business endeavour - I called it a very expensive MBA," Mr. Todai says. "It taught me that not everything I'm going to do is going to be a home run."

It didn't take long to rebound. Shortly after Picture Perfect Motoring tanked, Mr. Todai was approached by a mutual friend looking for investors to back a new restaurant called Lucien. Mr. Todai was smitten by the idea.

Since Lucien, he's helped to launch a series of culinary experiments in Toronto that range from southern barbecue to fine dining, Spanish cuisine, and even a modern saloon. These include Lou Dawg's, La Carnita, Weslodge, Patria, Home of the Brave, Byblos and Switch bar/lounge.

"It's like rappers: Everybody wants to own a club and a restaurant; it's just one of those things that guys with money end up doing," says Mr. Todai glancing out the dusty windowpane to the saloon-like signage of Weslodge on King Street below. "For me, I wasn't trying to be flashy, I was just super interested - cooking is a creative outlet for me and I've always loved the idea of restaurants and the experiences people get going to good, well-designed spaces."

He's also in the process of readying a street wear line to be launched in the summer and sold via the OneMethod website, as well as conceptualizing an interactive furniture line.

"It's just trial-and-error stuff," he says with a shrug. "I'm okay with just breaking even; I don't see that as a failure."

Mr. Todai is eons away from the 24-year-old who sat designing OneMethod's logo in his bedroom at his parent's place. But in a sense he still sees the world through the same lens.

"The litmus test is me: If I think it's cool, usually other people will feel it's cool, too," Mr. Todai says. "I trust my creative instincts and eye for design."

He pauses as if reconsidering the stone-faced Biggie overlooking his design syndicate on the other side of the building.

"I mean, it's obviously not just about me. It's about the people we surround ourselves with," Mr. Todai says. "It's kind of like being a rapper: They want to collaborate with the best in class of their business, even if it's different styles. Things just kind of happen when you meet good, smart people and creative types. You just want to collaborate."



Part two of a three-part series on entrepreneurs who have built businesses based on personal hobbies or passions.

Dreaming of a consumer-friendly CRTC
The voice of ordinary Canadians at the commission hopes there eventually will be no need for her position with the regulator
Saturday, April 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B5


Barbara Motzney hopes she's out of a job one day - at least in her current role at the CRTC.

As chief consumer officer, Ms. Motzney is charged with giving ordinary Canadians a voice at the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission - a position specially created by chairman Jean-Pierre Blais as part of a broader mission to rebuild the trust of Canadians.

It's no easy task. The federal broadcast and telecom regulator has a complicated rapport with the public. It is, by turns, commended in some quarters for promoting Canadian culture, and condemned by others for forgoing price regulation of cellphone services. There are also those perennial complaints about CRTC regulations that enable broadcasters to block Canadians from watching those showy Super Bowl ads.

Ms. Motzney is mindful of the cynicism, especially since her challenge is to bring consumer issues to the fore of the commission's decisions. After spending 18 months spearheading cultural change, there are some signs that the 46-year-old federal agency is improving its image. Still, she looks forward to the day that consumer interests are given priority without prodding from her. In fact, this long-time public servant wants her job to become obsolete.

"Ideally, at some point in the future, you may not need a chief consumer officer," Ms. Motzney says during an interview in her office. Sensing this reporter is incredulous, she continues: "Hopefully, it is in a long time because I am having a great time," she says with a laugh. But she is clear: Her goal is to transform the commission. "It will all be about serving Canadians."

She has her work cut out for her. A 2012 Reader's Digest poll ranked the CRTC as Canada's second "least-trusted" institution after Parliament. More recently, the CRTC's "Let's Talk TV" online discussion elicited blunt comments about its perceived paternalism: "If the CRTC is rightly abolished, the programming would be much more suited to my tastes as I will be able to decide for myself what I want to watch on TV."

Still, some of the the CRTC's recent decisions, such as the elimination of new three-year cellphone contracts and capping of roaming rates in its new wireless code, have won praise from consumer advocates. It is also widely credited for pressuring the wireless industry to create a national stolen smartphone registry and for conducting an investigation that spurred carriers to slash their international roaming rates in recent months.

Ordinary Canadians have also become more involved in regulatory proceedings through the use of social media sites, "flash" conferences and evening sessions for some public hearings. Last year's public consultations on the wireless code, for instance, included more than 5,000 participants, including individual consumers. Some participated via Skype.

"It's funny, you wouldn't think it's that big a deal. But for the technical people, for the legal people, there were issues that had to be sort of worked through - whether Skype was going to be okay or not," Ms. Motzney says. " And at one point, I remember being in a meeting ... and saying: 'Okay, either you figure this out or I am bringing my laptop and commissioners can gather around and they can watch the guy on the laptop because we're going to make this happen.'"

She is also eager to demystify the industry's lingo, which includes "arcane" terms such as forbearance (to refrain from regulating) and broadcast distribution undertakings (TV service providers such as cable and satellite companies), to encourage more people to participate.

Not only are Canadians more vocal at public hearings, but their views are "being taken more seriously" by the commission, says John Lawford, executive director of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, an Ottawa-based consumer group. Still, he suggests the CRTC could do more if it is serious about remaining relevant.

"I think the wireless code did a big job in saying that they [the CRTC] are there for the average person. I think rejecting Bell-Astral the first time around got people on the radar and going 'Oh, they're willing to stand up to big companies,'" Mr. Lawford says, referring to a 2012 media deal that was under the purview of Ms. Motzney's team.

(Bell's parent company, BCE Inc., eventually obtained the CRTC's permission to buy Astral Media in 2013 but with stricter conditions. BCE owns a 15-per-cent stake in The Globe and Mail.)

Ms. Motzney's holds a BA in financial and administrative studies, along with a master of business administration. But what's really prepared her for the rigours of her new role, aside from a binder labelled "Telecom 101" in her office, is her own experience of being an angry consumer.

In the two weeks preceding our interview, she complained about her TV service but her previous grievances have also targeted other services including Internet and home phone. "In times, all of the above," she says with a grin, adding that one of her peeves is the lack of clarity of what's in a bundle.

"What am I actually getting? Because a lot of times, there is a promotion for this, there is a promotion for that. If you take this and that, you get a discount on this ... It all started with HBO for free, I must confess. I took the three months and I was sucked into the vortex." She dismisses the suggestion that Canadians, despite their penchant for grumbling about telecom and cable companies, are complacent consumers.

"They're reasonable. They think about, 'Yeah, okay, we need to pay a certain amount for things, for sure. Companies need to make money.' I'm surprised at how many people I've seen in their comments and in discussions are very reasonable towards the companies," she says. "But what they don't like, they don't accept, is not being listened to. Not being given the information. And not being, in a way, taken seriously."

It is a warning that equally applies to the CRTC.

"There's a healthy number of people who are saying, 'Let's abolish the CRTC and the CBC' ... But we're still getting constructive, thoughtful comment," Ms. Motzney says.

She later adds: "You know, if people didn't believe that their comments mattered, they wouldn't bother. So, you know, we have to earn that trust."

The look of glove: From a tool of the trade to baseball bling
Tuesday, April 22, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A1

In the early days, they were simple leather work gloves with the fingers sliced off, offering little protection against the impact of a rock-hard, speeding ball.

Today, baseball gloves are not only large, luxurious and deep-pocketed, but they have evolved into a multimillion-dollar business, carefully crafted by sporting-goods companies with a multitude of features and in a rainbow of colours. They are prized by Major League Baseball players for utilitarian purposes - catching the ball - but they are also increasingly fashion statements in an image-conscious game.

"Starting with the pros, the glove is just looked at differently [from how it used to be]," said Howard Smith, MLB's senior vice-president of licensing. "The gloves used to be a tool of the trade. To me, it's another thing that defines who they are. It's like a piece of jewellery."

All sports, of course, have seen dramatic changes in equipment: in hockey, for instance, wood sticks giving way to composites.

But in baseball, with its working-class roots and adherence to tradition, the most striking recent change in gloves is mostly cosmetic. Where once mitts were almost uniformly brown, they now come in shades of black, blue, red and orange. "Players are a lot more colour-co-ordinated," said Michael Markovich, the global business director for Chicago-based Wilson baseball and softball.

High-end fashion outfitter Hermès of Paris has even manufactured a baseball glove in "gold swift calfskin" that requires 25 hours to make by hand and carries a price tag of $14,100 (U.S.). So far, the Hermès glove has yet to make its big-league debut.

That's not the case with David Wright's orange number: The all-star third baseman for the New York Mets uses his eye-catching glove during games to match the color scheme of the team's jerseys.

"He happens to love the colour orange, it's his favourite colour," Mr. Smith said. "And everything that he wears matches, everything ties in. When he looks in the mirror he feels like a big-league ballplayer and he feels really good about how he looks. And I think that's just basic sports psychology - you feel better, you're going to play better."

Such considerations are a long way from the origin of baseball gloves, which date back to the 1860s. At first players were reluctant to embrace the new equipment - it wasn't regarded as manly, in much the way the goalie mask was once mocked in hockey. Some baseball players wore flesh-colored gloves in an attempt to hide them.

The glove came out of the closet years ago, of course, becoming a staple of North American childhood - lovingly broken in with conditioning oil, a ball in the pocket and a wrap of twine. And sales have been consistently strong. In the United States in 2012, according to data provided by the U.S.-based National Sporting Goods Association, 5.6-million baseball/softball gloves were sold, representing revenues of about $235.3-million to the likes of Rawlings and Wilson, the two top baseball-glove manufacturers.

The key for glove-makers is getting the endorsements of Major League players. The outfitting begins each spring when sales representatives show up at training camps in Florida and Arizona to distribute their new wares to the players, most of whom have contracts to wear a specific brand.

"Mizuno, for example, they will come around and they actually have a guy they refer to as the glove master," said Kevin Malloy, the Toronto Blue Jays long-serving clubhouse manager. "They have a Mizuno truck, like a motor home, and the glove master comes over from Japan and he will actually make [a player's] glove for him in the truck while the practice is on. All these guys get custom-made gloves."

Most players begin the year with at least two gloves, with many stockpiling as many four or five. One glove, known as the "gamer," is used for nothing else but games. The second glove, or backup, is broken in during practice and ready to be pressed into game service when the No. 1 breaks down. The design differs by position, from the smaller, shallower-pocketed infielder's glove to the circular, well-padded catcher's mitt.

For Blue Jays all-star rightfielder Jose Bautista, gloves come in blue, gray and black. They are made by Marucci, a Baton Rouge, La.-based company that he has invested in since 2010; he's now on the board of directors. He keeps his gloves in a dedicated case so they won't get bent out of shape during travel.

"We searched around for a good master glove maker and then the right facility to make them," Mr. Bautista said. "We tried Taipei, Pakistan and Japan before settling in Taiwan. I like the glove I use because of the shape - a little longer with a wide pocket, and I have lots of real estate for the ball to go into. And I have good control over it."

At the other end of the spectrum is Jays third-baseman Brett Lawrie, the energetic Canadian known as a "dirt bag" - a player who will not hesitate to get his uniform dirty. Nor his glove, it turns out - his Mizuno-made gamer is entering its third season and looks it. The once-tan leather has become cracked and faded, and the mitt has been discolored by sticky resin and the batting glove he also wears on his hand for added stability.

"Would you use this, Jose?" Mr. Lawrie said, waving the glove in the face of shortstop Jose Reyes.

"No chance," Mr. Reyes said.

The manufacturer is puzzled, too. "He has a bunch of Mizuno gloves, but he continues to go back to that one," said Dave Bartlett, the director of sales and marketing for Mizuno in Canada.

Mr. Lawrie, considered one of the game's bright, young defensive stars, remains stubbornly true to his grubby gamer. "The other players all tell me that I can get a new one any time," the 24-year-old said. "But for me, it's not about how I look, it's about how I feel. And I like the way it kind of moulds to my hand. That's the glove I'm going to use until it falls off."

Goalie troubles on the road to the Cup
Netminding uncertainties among intriguing storylines for 2014 post-season
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

Just as real estate is all about location, the NHL playoffs are all about goaltending. Epecially this year: So many teams started the season with one goaltending plan and, at the 11th hour, had to switch to Plan B. Things are so unsettled in Anaheim, San Jose, Minnesota and Tampa Bay that their teams may be starting goalies in the playoffs who began the year in other organizations or far down their own depth charts.

If you factor in Pittsburgh, where there are recurring questions about Marc-André Fleury's playoff struggles, or St. Louis, where the Blues acquired Ryan Miller at the trade deadline, the outcome of this year's playoffs could hinge on how those teams handled - or mishandled - their netminding uncertainties.

With a passing nod to Ken Dryden, who had exactly six NHL regular-season games of experience under his belt before he backstopped the 1971 Montreal Canadiens' Stanley Cup victory, here's a look at eight intriguing storylines for the 2014 post-season.

A welcome Bryz

Ilya Bryzgalov was on the NHL scrap-heap last fall after being bought out by Philadelphia, where he failed to stabilize the Flyers' goaltending. In October, he tried out with the ECHL Las Vegas Wranglers; a month later the Edmonton Oilers took a chance and signed him to a contract. Going nowhere, the Oilers flipped him to the Minnesota Wild, where injuries and illnesses to the goalies ahead of him on the depth chart (Niklas Backstrom, Josh Harding, Darcy Kuemper) left Bryzgalov with the job. He was 7-1-3 in his 12 starts with the Wild, providing stability and helping Minnesota earn the Western Conference's first wild card.

Duck hunting

The Anaheim Ducks emerged from a scrambled stretch drive to land the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. But starting goalie Jonas Hiller has struggled, and rookie backup Frederik Andersen is just back after missing time with what were described as headaches. It meant that another raw rookie, John Gibson, made his NHL debut last week, played three games out of four and was Monday named one of the NHL's three stars for the week. The betting is the Ducks opt for Andersen, who hardly gets mentioned in the rookie-of-the-year conversation despite a sparkling record of 20-5-0 with a 2.29 goals-against average and .923 save percentage.

Will Sharks tank?

San Jose has a reputation as a playoff underachiever, but if the Sharks are ever going to win with the current Joe Thornton-Patrick Marleau group, this might be their best chance. Thornton, Dan Boyle and Logan Couture all used the Olympic break to get rested, and Joe Pavelski scored 40 goals for the first time in his career. But Antti Niemi, who was so good last year, has been so-so this year. Logically, the Sharks need to start Niemi in the opener against Los Angeles to keep his confidence up, but the hook could be quick.

Bishop will be missed

Ben Bishop is the Tampa Bay Lightning's MVP and the main reason they're in the playoffs, but he likely won't be available in the first round because of a left elbow injury. That means the Lightning will turn to Anders Lindback, who had a good finish after a mostly rocky season. Tampa Bay-Montreal would be a pick-'em series if the match-up was Bishop versus Carey Price, but now you'd have to give the goaltending edge to the Canadiens.

March of the injured Penguins

No team this season has endured a more devastating set of injuries than Pittsburgh. Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Kris Letang and Pascal Dupuis are among the key players who missed significant stretches. Sidney Crosby was mostly healthy and the Penguins received another quality regular-season performance from goaltender Marc-André Fleury, though he faltered in each of the past two playoffs seasons (4.63 GAA in '12, 3.52 GAA in '13). Pittsburgh needs Fleury to rediscover his 2008-09 form, when he was excellent in leading the Penguins to back-to-back appearances in the Stanley Cup final, including a championship in 2009.

Can Toews and Kane catch up?

The defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks looked to be mounting a strong title defence until injuries knocked both Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane out of the lineup down the stretch. Some may see that as a blessing in disguise - with last year's four-round playoffs and their participation in the Olympics, Toews and Kane have played a lot of hockey in the last two years, so their forced absence might help them recharge. But it may also take time to get back up to speed, and Chicago's path back to the final will be a difficult one. Coach Joel Quenneville claims that both his stars are ready to start the playoffs.

The Olympic factor

The playoffs in 2006, after the last time the NHL interrupted its schedule for a European Olympics, were among the most unsettled in history: The top four seeds in the West all lost in the first round. Current teams such as Chicago and St. Louis had a lot of players in Sochi; the Blues, who work so hard under coach Ken Hitchcock, were decimated by late-season injuries, with Olympians David Backes and T.J. Oshie among the wounded. That turned the Blues from the sexy pick to win the Stanley Cup to a team that most view as an underdog in their first-round series against the Blackhawks.

Jarome Iginla as the new Ray Bourque

Back in 2000, nearing the end of a Hall of Fame career, long-time Bruin Ray Bourque consented to a deal that would send him from the rebuilding Bruins to a Stanley Cup contender, the Colorado Avalanche. Bourque didn't win in his first playoffs after leaving Boston, but he did the following season. Iginla left Calgary late last season under similar circumstances to join Pittsburgh, but lost in the third round. This season in Boston, where he signed as a free agent, Iginla led the Bruins in goal-scoring. Boston won the President's Trophy as the NHL's top regular-season team, and something would have to go badly off the rails for the Bruins to fail to reach the finals again.

A premium problem
Insurers and critics agree Ontario's system is 'broken' - but are at odds on how to fix it
Thursday, April 17, 2014 – Print Edition, Page D3

The Fraser Institute's landmark 2011 study on public-versus-private delivery of auto insurance in Canada concluded that Ontario's private-sector insurance regimen enjoyed the questionable distinction of being the most expensive in the country - a conclusion even more damning because the report's major takeaway was the overall superiority of the private system in other parts of Canada.

The Ontario government's 2010 reforms to private insurance were supposed to address the system's problems - high premiums, fraud, over-regulation, a punitive cost structure - but have they? As it stands "post-reform," the insurance industry and many of its major stakeholders are in a state of undeclared war. And the government is caught in the middle, dodging volleys of angry rhetoric from opposing sides.

Ontario's private auto insurance industry is a train wreck. "When we concluded our study, Ontario had the most expensive system in the country due to regulatory severity and massive fraud," says Emrul Hasan, an economics instructor at Vancouver's Simon Fraser University and one of the author's of the Fraser study.

Another out-of-province expert is even more frank. "Insurance company margins have increased incredibly over the last decade," says British Columbia-based Bruce Cran, president of the Consumers' Association of Canada. "The companies are making a lot of money and people are getting less benefits ... to be perfectly honest, I don't know how you're going to fix Ontario."

The battle lines are clearly drawn between The Industry and The Stakeholders, but who is manning the barricades? Leading the charge for the insurance industry is the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), one of the savviest and best-financed lobby groups in the country. On the other side are the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA), representing lawyers who negotiate and litigate for accident victims, and the Fair Associations for Victims of Accident Insurance Reform (FAIR), the victims' lobby group.

This standoff was borne out of the 2010 reforms that generated billions of savings for the industry - and the targeted 15-per-cent reduction in premiums that the NDP secured from a minority Liberal government in the 2013 budget as part of the price for its ongoing legislative support. The industry loved the former and is less enthusiastic about the latter; vice versa for accident victims and trial lawyers. The 2013 reductions were meant to address issues pinpointed by reports such as Fraser's, notably excessively expensive premiums. To date, rates have gone down just 4.66 per cent.

But the story doesn't end there. Insurers demanded, and received, a pound of flesh for their lost revenue. Benefits for minor injuries were slashed from $30,000 to $3,500, deductibles were ratcheted up to $30,000 to deter litigating contested claims. And here's the nut of the problem: 80 per cent of accident claims are deemed to fall within the minor injury guidelines, with its small cap. Unsurprisingly, accident victims pushed back. There's a backlog of more than 30,000 accident claims in mediation and a further 16,000 in compulsory arbitration. Even the IBC admits the status quo is a mess.

"What is clear is that the system we have today, and what the government is trying to fix, is a system that is broken," says Ralph Palumbo, the insurance lobby's Ontario vice-president. How to fix it is tricky because the industry and some of its key stakeholders are at loggerheads.

Victims believe the insurance industry is making out like proverbial bandits. "They made over $2-billion after the 2010 cuts," says OTLA president Charles Gluckstein. But Palumbo says it's impossible to ask for a massive reduction in rates (insurance company revenue) without looking at the cost side of the equation. "Otherwise it's not sustainable," he says. To critics who argue the industry made billions in the wake of the 2010 reforms, Palumbo says poppycock. "If you say it long enough, people start to believe it," he says. He cites two commissioned actuarial studies that claim auto insurers' return on equity hovers between 3.9 and 4.9 per cent. "Compared to the banks in the high-teens - say, around 17 per cent - that's pretty modest, though some observers claim it's as high as 25 per cent, which is ridiculous. All our critics ever talk about is the benefit side, never the cost side. And it's a little tiring, and tiresome, coming from guys who are enriching themselves from the system."

Palumbo is referring to the trial lawyers, and it should come as no surprise that they don't buy the argument about the industry's relative penury.

"The government is at the mercy of the industry and their view of their profits," says Gluckstein. "That's why the transparency aspect of the 2010 reforms is so vital because independent auditors will investigate the profits of the insurance industry."

As part of its reform package, Ontario agreed to commission an annual Automobile Insurance Transparency and Accountability Expert Report. The first, from KPMG, is pending.

From the OTLA's perspective, the industry camouflages its robust financial health with accounting chicanery. "All sorts of tax manoeuvring, underwriting adjustments, carried forward losses et cetera," says Gluckstein. "The industry's view is that if you want reduced premiums, you have to cut costs. So what happened to all the saving they earned on the backs of victims who had to give up all their coverage?"

Gluckstein says that comedian Rick Mercer brilliantly captured the present stalemate in one of his epic CBC rants: "We are your insurance company, we will take your premiums but if you have a claim, we will give you nothing - that's how it works."

Caught in the middle are accident victims. Part of the problem, says FAIR's Rhona DesRoches, is the public's relative disengagement and passivity on the issue. Maybe that's not surprising: Ontario has nine million drivers but only 60,000 accident victims.

"No one ever thinks they'll be in an accident, that it will happen to them," DesRoches said. "Until they are and it does."



ProvinceAverage Annual Premium
New Brunswick$728
Nova Scotia$736
British Columbia$1,113


Friday, April 18, 2014


An article on automobile insurance in Thursday's Drive section refers to a backlog of 30,000 accident cases in mediation. The backlog has been cleared by a government-appointed consultant, however 16,000 cases remain in non-compulsory arbitration.

'The thrill is in the hunt'
Wheeler and dealer puts 400 vehicles up for bid at auction
Thursday, April 17, 2014 – Print Edition, Page D6

Montrealer John Scotti may be selling more than 400-plus of his collectible cars, but one thing he is not selling is a piece of his heart.

Emotional connection to coveted old cars and trucks is what Scotti leaves to buyers. Their yearning will fuel bidding for his vehicles at Auctions America's sale May 8-10, at Auburn, Ind.

On offer without reserve, all going to the highest bidder, are an astonishing variety of vehicles. The Scotti offering is the largest consignment of vehicles from a single Canadian collection ever to go to auction, says Gord Duff of RM Auctions, the Blenheim, Ont.-based global auctioneer and parent of Auction Americas.

Two Acura NSX are expected to command $25,000-$45,000, a Ferrari 308 GTS $30,000-$35,000. But American cars predominate. A total of 83 Chevrolets are on offer, from a Corvair to multiple Corvettes and enough Impalas to sate several prides of lions. A 1934 Chrysler Imperial Airflow is the prize of the bunch, at $100,000-$140,000. A 2002 Camaro Z28 is as low as they go, $8,000-$12,000.

Scotti's focus has been steely-eyed since he bought/fixed/sold his first Ferrari at age 23. "I've never owned a car, never had a car in my name," he says in a telephone interview. "Always it's business: In business I may have a car two days, a week, 10 days. We don't keep any car.

"For me, the thrill is in the hunt. I do 60,000 km a year driving to places like Goderich, Ont., on weekends, making five or 10 stops along the way."

Scotti's driving a Mercedes-Benz wagon his Subaru dealership took in as a trade. As you read this, it might be something else. He's always looking for opportunity.

He'll pay $10,000 or $5 million, he says. "If I can turn a profit, I'll buy it." The most he's paid: $1 million, three years ago, for a 1933 Duesenberg.

"Every car guy has a crystal ball, story, right? If only I'd had a crystal ball.

"In 1977, a friend calls, says he needs money and he has a Ferrari 275 GTB/4 alloy body, he's asking $15,000. I offered him $12,000, a lot in 1977, and we made the deal.

"I put it in the Globe and Mail classifieds asking $15,900, and the very first call, from a gentleman in Toronto, I sold it for $15,000. So, $3,000 in profit in three days, pretty good - but today that car probably would sell for $3 million."

At age 58, he owns 14 Montreal dealerships, including the John Scotti Collection that specializes in exotics and collectibles. He's energized now as older cars gain new currency with international auctions, yielding stratospheric prices. Duff says enthusiasts need to put pleasure first when making purchase decisions, then enjoy the consequences. "Buy what you love ... no question, that car is always going to go up in value," he says. The evidence is at hand.

A Ferrari 275 GTB NART Spyder sold for $27.5 million at a RM auction at Monterey, Calif., last August - reportedly to Lawrence Stroll, the Montreal fashion mogul - establishing a record for a U.S. auction sale. In July, at Goodwood, England, a 1954 Formula One Mercedes-Benz W196 raced by the great Juan Manuel Fangio commanded $29.6 million at a Bonhams auction.

But one needn't stand among the rich and famous to see old cars as attainable sculpture. Ordinary car buffs are emerging in such numbers that NBC Sports Network is covering the Auburn auction. Fox Sports featured the Jackson-Barrett auction at Palm Springs, Fla., this month.

And these Chevrolets, Fords, MGs and even Bentleys from Montreal are ordinary cars for ordinary enthusiasts, destined to be driven, not hermetically sealed in anticipation of another auction. They'll be seen at weeknight cruises rather than international concours. There are cruises where Ralph Lauren is worn, after all, and events where Ralph Lauren appears in person with his own cars. He's a better bet at RM's auction at Monaco than at Auburn.

Scotti grew up in Ville Saint-Michel, now part of Montreal, home of Cirque du Soleil, where Dingy's garage formed him. "The late John Dingman was my mentor," he says. "I started as a mechanic - I still wrench - but got into buying and selling cars, and drag racing, working for Dingman while I was finishing high school."

He loves drag racing so much, the memory of doing the quarter-mile in 8.08 seconds at 170 mph so strong, he hardly ever sells anything from his collection of 51 race cars, although one raced by Quebec legend Alban Gauthier was a notable exception.

Duff grew up in Chatham, Ont., and at 18, drove trucks for RM, going on to become a "car specialist," engaging with both buyers and sellers.

Duff spent last week driving his 1966 Shelby GT350 in the Copperstate 1000 rally in Arizona, for the third straight year, great fun and value in terms of contact with prospective clients. "It's 100 per cent relationships," he says of his work. "You don't keep up with collectors by telephone or e-mail, you go to see them, spend time with them."

A year and a half ago, Scotti ran into Duff at an auction. They already knew each other well. "Gord said, 'What have you got right now?' and one thing led to another, to the idea of one big auction," Scotti says. "I've known Rob Myers (RM's founder) since 1977, but Gord is a good asset for that firm, he was the key to this coming together.

"Normally I sell 600 classics in one year. With this, I can sell 400-450 in a one-shot deal, with the U.S. exchange rate 10 per cent, I'm taking advantage of all that. If it goes well, I'll repeat the auction in a year."


1967 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster

1966 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe

1987 Porsche 930 Turbo Slant Nose Coupe

1987 Buick GNX

1969 Ford Mustang GT

1934 Chrysler Custom Imperial Airflow

1939 Packard Super Eight Convertible Sedan

1994 Land Rover Defender 90

1970 Plymouth Barracuda

Leaving the shadows
Opening Day at Augusta turns into walk down memory lane for golfers from famous families who want to outperform their predecessors
Friday, April 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


Let the U.S. Open finish on Father's Day, June 15.

Here at Augusta National, Father's Day - and Uncles' Day, not to mention Great Uncles' Day - was opening day at the 2014 Masters.

The first-day leader, with a four-under par 68, was 31-year-old Bill Haas, son of Jay Haas, a nine-time winner on the PGA Tour and in his own right a golfer who tied for third in the 1995 Masters won by Ben Crenshaw.

But it doesn't stop there. Jay Haas's other son, Jay Jr., has also played the PGA tour and sometimes caddies for Bill. Jay Sr.'s brother, Jerry, played the PGA tour, as did their brother-in-law, Dillard Pruitt.

Take a breath ... and then there's Bill Haas's great uncle Bob Goalby, winner of the 1968 Masters - sometimes called "The Lost Masters" in that Argentinian golfer Roberto De Vicenzo signed the wrong scorecard and Goalby was declared winner without the necessity of a playoff.

The Haases all owe an exceptional debt of gratitude to Bob Goalby, now 85 and happily pounding the Augusta fairways as he watches his nephew's kid challenge for the family's second Masters title.

Bob is famous in the family for something he claims he said to himself back in 1968 when, on the 18th and final hole of that controversial Masters, he stood over a nine-foot put that he desperately needed. We will use here the somewhat cleansed version Sports Illustrated went with:

"Step in there, you gutless choking [expletive] dog - and make this putt like a man!"

Bob Goalby handed the quote down for future use, and though Bill Haas did not say whether or not he had used it this Thursday, he did say "The putter kind of saved me."

And, rather sweetly, it was a birdie putt on 18 - Great Uncle Bob's triumphant final hole - that put him back to four-under and kept him in the lead.

One stroke back, at three-under, were three golfers of far more Masters experience: 2013 champion Adam Scott of Australia, 2012 champion Bubba Watson of the United States and 2012 runner-up Louis Oosthuizen from South Africa.

Scott had his game to four-under at one point but took a double-bogey on the par-3 12th when his tee shot found the water.

"I hit the one poor shot on 12, which obviously cost me a couple of shots," Scott said. "But very pleased to get off to a good start."

Scott said winning last year had him more comfortable at the start "than I've been in the past - because I didn't have the legs shaking and nerves jangling for six or seven holes, like usual."

In a moment of serendipity, tied in fifth place after shooting a two-under 70 was Kevin Stadler, son of Craig Stadler, the 1982 Masters champion. They became the first father-son combination to play in the same Masters event, though it could hardly be said they played at all the same. The elder Stadler ballooned to an 82.

"I'll take two-under all day every day for the rest of my life," said the son.

"I played like a moron," said the father. "My whole game stinks."

Others at two-under included first-timer Johnny Walker, fellow Americans Gary Woodland and Brandt Snedeker, South Korean K. J. Choi and Sweden's Jonas Blixt, who says he was a much better hockey player but kept playing golf instead of working out in summer.

At one point the 29-year-old Blixt was also at four-under but faltered over the final four holes and lipped out a par putt on 18 for his 70.

Like all players, Blixt found Augusta difficult, something that can only increase as the sun hardens the greens and pin placements become increasingly difficult.

"Every single shot can be the best shot of your life," Blixt said, "and every single shot can be the worst shot of your life."

At one-under par was Rory McIlroy, the popular Northern Ireland golfer whose final-round meltdown cost him the 2011 Masters title.

"The greens are firming up," McIlroy said. "The wind was all over the place. Anything under par today was a good score."

Also at one-under 71 was perennial patrons' favourite Fred Couples, 54 years old and 22 years removed from his own Masters victory. With all the emphasis on youth at this tournament - 24 golfers playing their first Masters - there has been much speculation that this year's green jacket may go to someone in his 20s.

"Can a 50-year-old win here?" Couples asked after his round. "I think so."

Can a 20-year-old, though? Jordan Spieth was only 19 last year when he became the youngest PGA winner in 82 years. If he were to win at Augusta, the now-20-year-old would beat Tiger Woods, who won his first at 21 years, three months. Woods, of course, has had to skip this tournament following back surgery.

Speith began with promise, shooting a one-under-par 71.

Canada's Mike Weir, the 2003 Masters champions, finished with a one-over-par 73.

"It's a brute of a course," said Weir, who was fighting a bad cold, "a long, tough golf course. Anywhere around par is good.

"I'd have loved to be a couple better. I could have been a few better, but still a nice little round."

The same could not, unfortunately, be said for the only other Canadian in the field, Graham DeLaet of Weyburn, Sask., who was playing in his very first Masters.

DeLaet was six over through his opening nine and ended up with an eight-over-par 80.

"It just exposed me," DeLaet said of the famous course. "It was tough. I got on the wrong side of the hole a few times.

"I just got behind the eight-ball early and wasn't sharp by any means."

DeLaet will now be hard-pressed to make Friday's cut for weekend play. "It might be a total beast tomorrow, who knows?" he said with a smile.

"I had a great time out there - I mean, this is the Masters."

A student house party turns deadly
Every year on the last day of classes, University of Calgary students celebrate with Bermuda Shorts Day and lots of parties. Early Tuesday morning, five young people were stabbed to death, allegedly by an invited guest to one of those celebrations
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A8

CALGARY -- It was a last-day-of-school celebration with close to 30 young people gathered in the backyard of a northwest Calgary home. Many were University of Calgary students and some were wearing Bermuda shorts, a school tradition on the final day of classes.

As Monday evening came, most everyone moved inside the bi-level house to warm up from the chill and continue a party that was so quiet the neighbours weren't even aware it was going on.

Everything changed with the late arrival of an invited guest who police say didn't leave until he had stabbed five people, killing them all in what the city's chief of police called the "worst mass murder in Calgary's history."

Police officers, investigators and EMS personnel responded en masse early Tuesday morning after receiving a 911 call from someone at the scene of the tragedy, only minutes away from the university. As soon as they got there, police found three people dead and two others who would die later from their wounds. Four of the victims were men; the other a woman. All of them were in their 20s.

Police deployed their canine unit and quickly tracked down Matthew de Grood, 22. Police allege Mr. de Grood fled the house and threw away the knife used in the slayings of his fellow party-goers. The son of a 33-year veteran of a police inspector, he was charged Tuesday night with five counts of first-degree murder.

"He's heartbroken, as his wife is," Calgary Police Chief Rick Hanson said of Insp. Douglas de Grood. "He asked me to please pass on to the families our sorrow and condolences. They [the de Grood family] are devastated."

How something as joyous as a school's-out party could turn so deadly was a question that wasn't answered Tuesday. It appeared there had been no warning of the attack, no apparent reason for Matthew de Grood to do what police allege - turn on people he knew and go after them, one by one, stabbing them repeatedly.

Police did not officially release the names of the five who died, saying only that the woman was 23 years old and from Calgary, while three of the four men were from Calgary and one hailed from Priddis, Alta. The men ranged in ages from 22 to 27.

Two of the men were identified by friends as Josh Hunter and Zackariah Rathwell. They were both part of a local musical band, Zachariah and The Prophets. The band had a release party for their EP on Saturday, said friend Suzanne Alexander. "Zack just always knew how to say the stupidest, funniest things at just the perfect time," she said. He attended Alberta College of Art and Design, she added

Mr. Hunter was "quieter, but had this great smile," Ms. Alexander said. "He would ask you what's going on in your life."

The other three were later identified by media reports as Jordan Segura, Lawrence Hong and Kaitlin Perras.

There were no reasons to think the worst of the students who were renting the Brentwood community home. Their neighbours never had to complain.

John Pruzinsky said he drove by and saw people both outside and inside the house at about 10 p.m. Monday night. Mr. Pruzinsky, who moved into the neighbourhood in 1976, said not many students live on the crescent and most people are homeowners.

"It's very quiet, very nice," he said.

The landlord who rented the home to the students said he had no problems with them. He wasn't sure how many people were living there - four or five - and he didn't have names signed to a lease. But that never became an issue.

"Every month I'd go and grab the rent cheques," said the landlord, who declined to give his name. "They never didn't pay. ... They were really nice guys to me. They seemed like they were industrious and hardworking."

The landlord added, "[The house] was nicely decorated for a 20-year-old renting a house."

Not one of the renters, or even Mr. de Grood, had experienced any prior run-ins with the police. The victims, in the words of Chief Hanson, were "good kids. They did nothing wrong ... At this point in time, we can't say the reason why [they were killed]."

Mr. De Grood was a former U of C student and had been working at a grocery store on Monday. He arrived after the party had moved indoors. Police allege that he carried a "weapon," but grabbed a knife from inside the house and used it against his victims. Chief Hanson described the crime scene as "horrific. It's extremely difficult, regardless of who the perpetrator is, to go into a scene like that with young people who have been killed, who've been murdered."

The news of the killings brought about statements from Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Southern Alberta MP Jason Kenney, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Alberta premier Dave Hancock. All expressed their condolences. The University of Calgary scheduled a gathering Tuesday in honour of the five who died. Students signed a U of C banner when they walked into the hall.

"Jordan, you will be missed," one student wrote in a message surrounded by a heart. Another message read: "Lawrence, you were full of life + laughs. I will never forget you."

The university's Wellness Centre director Debbie Bruckner said students and their families had been coming in throughout the day.

"What we're doing right now is ensuring we're responsive to students who are feeling grief or trauma or confusion," she said, noting chaplains, psychologists and nurses are all available, as well as a meditative room. "It impacts the community because [the neighbourhood] is across the street from the university."

Third-year Greek and Roman Studies student Sarah Robb had celebrated in the sun during Bermuda Shorts Day, a 54-year-old tradition that now includes an on-campus beer garden, bands and DJs. In stark contrast, she said the mood at the university was gloomy on Tuesday.

"It's just a shocker. It's brought a shadow over the U of C," she said.

With reports by Tu Thanh Ha and Jill Mahoney

Made for war, condemned to peace - the curious case of the Jeep Wrangler
Thursday, April 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page D1

As I piloted the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon through downtown Toronto, an odd thought popped into my head: What would it be like to be a killer whale stuck in the display tank at MarineLand? Or a Bengal tiger condemned to a zoo cage?

The comparison made a weird kind of sense: like the killer whale and the tiger, the Rubicon is a highly evolved creature, with a set of special adaptations that allow it to dominate its chosen environment. Unfortunately, that environment isn't downtown Toronto.

Working through stop-and-go traffic on Yonge Street, I was struck by the ridiculousness of my mission: The Rubicon was outfitted with long-travel suspension, locking differentials and a set of 4:1 reduction gears that allow it to ford streams and climb sheer walls like a mechanized mountain goat. I was driving it to lunch on a road where the biggest obstacle was a badly parked Hyundai Accent.

The rational side of us knows that the ideal vehicle for our daily lives is a pragmatic, fuel-efficient machine that carries out our mission at minimum cost. But then there's our other side - the questing, restless soul that rebels against the relentless, deadening tedium of life. Hence the Jeep's appeal: the idea that nothing can stop you. We may have mortgages and a job in a cubicle, but we'd like to believe that if we really wanted, we could light out for the wild territories.

The Jeep Wrangler is built for journeys that most of us will never take. It is one of the finest off-road vehicles built to date. Because of that, it has also become a potent fashion symbol, serving as a badge of ruggedness for countless drivers whose most challenging mission consists of a trip to the mall.

With the possible exceptions of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle and the cowboy hat, no fashion accessory has ever been more misused than the Jeep Wrangler. Last year, Jeep built 223,000 Wranglers (up 14 per cent from 2012.) There are no definitive figures for how many of these are actually used off road but, according to a survey by J.D. Power and Associates, only 5 per cent of all sport-utility vehicles go off the paved road with any regularity.

This disconnect has always fascinated me, so when offered a new Rubicon for a test drive, I jumped at the chance. I've driven a number of Jeeps over the years, and have always found them to be interesting machines, with a distinctive character and classic, pragmatic style.

One of my friends has owned a series of Jeeps, and we've had a lot of fun driving them on trails down in the southern United States. At my friend's place in Georgia, a Jeep makes sense. He's surrounded by mountain trails and he operates a hang-gliding business - the Jeep is excellent for hauling gliders and reconnoitering new flying sites in the mountains. In Toronto, I am not exactly in prime Jeep country. My everyday driving world consists of city streets, underground parking garages and 400-series highways that reward slick aerodynamics, high-speed stability and effective braking. And now I found myself in a battleship grey Rubicon with Dana 44 axles and gigantic lugged tires.

Although Jeep engineers have done a remarkable job of taming it, the Rubicon is not an ideal vehicle for smooth roads. The heavy axles that excel on a rutted trail rebound on their springs like a pair of massive barbells - going quickly through a bumpy corner was like riding a drunken rhinoceros with a bad-fitting saddle.

The Jeep's mass and blunt aerodynamics also made for less-than-ideal fuel economy. The best I managed on the highway was 15 litres/100 km, and it was worse in town. And yet I found the Jeep deeply endearing. Driven properly (at moderate speeds), it was a rewarding vehicle, with a distinctive character that few vehicles possess. Looking out over the stubby hood made me feel like a battle commander, riding into action in the turret of an Abrams tank.

When I found places to take the Jeep off road, it was a revelation - I climbed a pile of construction rubble under the Gardiner Expressway, then headed to Durham region, where I drove along dirt trails under the power lines. No longer was I limited to the stripes of tarmac that society had deemed acceptable for cars - I was a four-wheeled Columbus, setting sail across an infinite ocean of dirt.

The Wrangler comes by its rough-hewn style honestly. It is the direct descendant of the Willys MA, a vehicle designed in 1940 for the U.S. army. Dubbed the "Jeep" by U.S. serviceman, it was renowned for its versatility and toughness. The Jeep could carry soldiers and supplies through deep mud and rutted battlefields, and became an icon of the Second World War - by the time the war ended, more 600,000 had been built.

Legendary war correspondent Ernie Pyle immortalized the Jeep in one of his dispatches from the front: "It did everything," Pyle wrote. "It went everywhere. Was a faithful as a dog, as strong as a mule, and as agile as a goat. It constantly carried twice what it was designed for and still kept going."

The Jeep has been refined considerably since Pyle wrote his encomium, and yet it remains essentially the same vehicle: it may have air conditioning and a fuel-injected motor now, but its slab-sided shape and flat, flip-down windshield would make it instantly recognizable to a 1940s G.I.

As I drove the Wrangler, I thought about Pyle's words, and the Jeep's place in the North American consciousness. It was built for war, yet finds itself condemned to a peacetime mission as a fashion accessory. And yet, it is also a genuine icon, with a style that reaches back more than 70 years. And when you finally get the chance to roll off the pavement and into the dirt, you will understand the Jeep's primal allure: you are a tiger sprung from its cage; Shamu, finally released into the infinite green kingdom of the sea.

Greece inches toward a comeback
Relatively positive numbers emerge from the ashes of Hellenic downturn, but many hurdles remain
Thursday, April 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B8


In 2012, when Greece was on the verge of bolting from the euro zone and riots turned the streets of Athens into war zones, little Hellas Trekking, an outdoor holidays company, saw its sales collapse as foreign tourists sought adventures in saner parts of the planet.

"Because of the strikes, the instability and the fear that the drachma was coming back, Americans and Canadians didn't want to come to Greece," said marketing director Loukia Leonidou. "We let go a couple of employees, moved to smaller offices and took half-salaries and didn't spend a thing."

The picture couldn't be more different this year. Hellas Trekking's sales bounced back by 30 per cent in 2013 and should improve by the same amount this year. Two more employees have been hired, taking the total to nine. "We're hiring and we've started to invest. We've changed our computer system and we're going to travel shows," Ms. Leonidou said.

The mood is newly upbeat at Greece's Association of Chief Executive Officers. George Ghonos, a board member on the association who runs McCain Foods's operations in Greece, Cyprus and the Balkans, said employers are on the verge of hiring again.

"At our last meeting for the first time, there was no discussion about job reductions," he said. "Gradually our companies will start to recover."

Employers still face horrendous problems, ranging from the largely unreformed public sector to rising taxes. On Wednesday, as if to prove the point that all was not well in Greece, the largest public and private unions launched a 24-hour strike to protest austerity measures. Athens and other cities were once again paralyzed.

Still, there is a sense that Greece is finally on the mend after the deepest and longest economic downturn since the Second World War. The Greek government apparently feels the same. On Thursday, it plans to sell long-term bonds for the first time since 2010, when soaring bond yields pushed it out of the debt markets and into a sovereign bailout sponsored by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

The €2-billion ($3-billion) of five-year bonds will probably be sold with yields of about 5 per cent. While that's still high by euro-zone standards - the debt costs in Portugal, another bailed-out euro-zone member, are less than 4 per cent - the level is a remarkable turnaround from the height of the crisis. In 2012, yields on 10-year Greek bonds were 30 per cent or more.

The five-year debt sale, if it succeeds, will be a huge vote of confidence in both Greece's revival and the revival of the euro zone's other economic weaklings, including Ireland, Spain, Italy and Portugal. But some economists and strategists think investors have become overly bullish.

"The Greek bond sale would mark the official end of the euro-zone crisis," said Nicholas Spiro, managing director of Spiro Sovereign Strategy, a London debt investment firm. "Greece has been the most conspicuous example of improvement in the euro-zone periphery. Still, a cursory glance of the underlying fundamentals suggests there is a big disconnect between the bond markets and the economic and political reality."

There is little doubt that the worst is over for Greece. While the country's gross domestic product shrank 3.9 per cent in 2013, marking the sixth year of recession, the pace of contraction slowed in each quarter. The Greek government forecasts 0.6-per-cent growth this year. That's hardly enough to make a dent in the record 27.5-per-cent jobless rate, but in Greece, any good news is welcome after an era best described as an economic depression.

There's more. Greece posted a small current-account surplus in 2013, its first since 1948, and should produce a primary surplus - the budget surplus before debt payments - of 1.6 per cent of GDP this year. Tourism has come roaring back and manufacturing is no longer in free-fall.

The bad news, however, is ample. The economy is deflating and the debt load is rising. Public debt is now equal to 175 per cent of GDP, by far the highest in the euro zone. Unless growth comes roaring back and deflation is replaced by inflation, Greece may require another bailout or a second debt restructuring. Economic reforms have hardly been sweeping. "The public sector is still huge and we have to pay those people who are doing nothing," Ms. Leonidou said.

Greece's political situation is also shaky. The ruling coalition, led by the New Democracy party, has a bare majority in parliament and the junior partner, Pasok, is losing ground. The coalition could easily lose its majority before the scheduled 2015 election. If so, the anti-austerity radical left party, Syriza, which is rising in popularity, could force a snap vote. Syriza's near victory in the June, 2012, election sent international investors fleeing and triggered a bank run that almost wrecked the banking system.

Greece, in other words, remains a huge potential risk for investors even as the economy stumbles out of recession. "We've gone from paranoia to complacency in a worryingly short period of time," said Mr. Spiro.




Q3 2013

Germany 78.4%

Netherlands 73.6%

Ireland 124.8%

U.K. 89.1%

Belgium 103.7%

Luxembourg 27.7%

France 92.7%

Spain 93.4%

Portugal 128.7%

Sweden 40.7%

Finland 54.8%

Denmark 46.3%

Estonia 10%

Latvia 38%

Lithuania 39.6%

Poland 58%

Czech Republic 46%

Slovakia 57.2%

Hungary 80.2%

Romania 38.9%

Bulgaria 17.3%

Italy 132.9%

Malta 76.6%

Greece 171.8%

Cyprus 109.6%

Austria 77.1%

Croatia 61.7%

Slovenia 62.6%


Austria 4.8%

Belgium 8.5%

Cyprus 16.7%

Estonia 8.7%*

Finland 8.4%

France 10.4%

Germany 5.1%

Greece 27.5%*

Ireland 11.9%

Italy 13%

Latvia 11.6%*

Luxembourg 6.1%

Malta 6.9%

Netherlands 7.3%

Portugal 15.3%

Slovakia 13.9%

Slovenia 9.8%

Spain 25.6%

*Dec. 2013



Politician changed Calgary's light bulbs
Determined, an 'idea factory' and entrepreneurial from a young age, he also owned a popular community video store
Tuesday, April 22, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S6

CALGARY -- A politician, small-business owner and competitive griller, Jon Lord spent years trying to make things better - whether it was introducing more efficient light bulbs for the City of Calgary, serving customers at his popular video store or striving for barbecue perfection at the World Series of grilling. He also championed lower taxes for small businesses and helped revitalize the now-trendy neighbourhood of Marda Loop.

Mr. Lord, who served as a city councillor and member of the Alberta Legislature, and twice ran as a mayoral candidate against the current incumbent, Naheed Nenshi, died March 25 after a heart attack, at the age of 57.

After Mr. Lord's death, Mr. Nenshi paid tribute to his former rival. "I knew Jon well and I was happy to get to know him better during the last two mayoral elections," Mr. Nenshi said in a statement. Though Mr. Lord finished with just 0.4 per cent of the vote in his 2010 run for mayor, his second try, last October, saw him win 21 per cent of the vote to Mr. Nenshi's 74 per cent.

"It was an honour to have him as a challenger because he pushed all of us to be better," Mr. Nenshi wrote.

"Jon was a community-builder in the truest sense of the word," he wrote. "His belief in the power of entrepreneurship led him to public service; he understood that government is there to serve its citizens and that we need people with fresh ideas at the table if we want positive change in our community."

Mr. Lord believed small businesses were the lifeblood of neighbourhoods, providing jobs, a sense of community and a place to meet friends and strangers. He spent years trying to persuade governments to lighten the tax burden on small shops.

Since Mr. Lord's death, Sheryl Guillaume, his wife, has steadfastly supported the cause. "The first thing I said when Jon's former secretary called ... and asked what the city could do, I said: 'Lower taxes.' That's Jon."

Mr. Lord also took on less-conventional battles, such as persuading the city to switch to high-tech light bulbs to save money. He admitted he pestered until he got his way.

"It took me several years of effort to get anyone at city hall to take this idea seriously," Mr. Lord told The Calgary Herald in 2001. "It wouldn't have been pursued at all without my constant nagging everyone to get after it, including a rather contentious meeting one day with the mayor [Al Duerr] and the board of commissioners," he said.

"It took about five years to get to the point of actually changing any light bulbs."

Ms. Guillaume estimates the energy-efficient light bulbs now save the city about $100,000 per year.

Ric McIver, Alberta's minister of infrastructure, turned to Mr. Lord for advice in the late 1990s when he was starting his political career. He remembers Mr. Lord being proud of his light bulb plan - something that challenged the status quo.

"He was always looking to build a better mousetrap," Mr. McIver said. "He was an idea factory."

Mr. McIver ran for mayor in Calgary in 2010, hoping for Mr. Lord's support. Mr. Lord, however, decided to run himself. "That was Jon. If he thought he was able to make a difference - he was bold," Mr. McIver said. "He just jumped in."

The rare type of Calgarian who was a native of the city, he was born in 1956. His parents, Connie and Hugh Brown, named him Jonathan. When he was still a child, his parents decided to move the family to a homestead in northern Alberta, where they kept cows and horses. Young Jon helped work the farm alongside his six siblings until he left to study at the University of Alberta.

After repeatedly being confused with other people named Jon Brown, he decided to change his surname to Lord. His wife said the name was inspired by both Jack Lord, of Hawaii Five-O fame, and Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord, both of whom he thought were cool.

Entrepreneurial from a young age, he started his first business, a painting company, at the age of 18. A little while later, just as VCRs started becoming widely available, he had the idea of opening a video store. According to Ms. Guillaume, his movie-rental business, Casablanca Video, which opened in February, 1981, was the first store in Canada dedicated exclusively to renting videos. (A store in Toronto opened a month earlier, she said, but it also sold electronics.)

One of the few video stores still running today, Casablanca rents old-school VHS tapes alongside DVDs and serves as Marda Loop's neighbourhood drop-in centre, Ms. Guillaume said. Mr. Lord used to joke that he had finally run Blockbuster out of business.

"Casablanca just isn't a place to rent movies," Ms. Guillaume said. "It is a place where people come in, and some people have nowhere to have a conversation, a contact with another human being. But they can come into our store and they can talk to someone about movies ...That's what Casablanca has been for 33 years."

And then there was Mr. Lord's barbecue prowess. After topping local competitions, he headed to Kansas City - in the middle of the race leading up to the 2013 mayoral election - to compete against international grillers in the American Royal Invitational. He was a "mad scientist" when whipping up spice mixes, Ms. Guillaume said. He just tossed ingredients together by instinct, adding a dash of this and a scoop of that. The outcome was slightly different every time.

People asked him about his secret ingredient, and he told them the truth: "It is so secret even I don't know it," he would say.

Mr. Lord leaves his wife, Ms. Guillaume; his four daughters, Mandy Kolebaba, Michelle DeCecco, Katie DeCecco and Jessica Eren; Ms. Guillaume's children, Anthony Squires and Michael Morey; and several grandchildren.

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Abigail's constant companion
It used to be that Canadian children could take an inexpensive drug to put juvenile arthritis into remission. Carly Weeks looks at what happens when the pharmaceutical company stops selling it here
Monday, April 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1

The pain makes the simplest tasks, such as buttoning her clothes or writing her name, a challenge. Walking any great distance is out of the question. Abigail Stewart can barely move in the morning and spends up to two hours doing exercises and stretches in bed before she feels well enough to get up.

In between all of that, she has to find time for school, homework and gymnastics classes. That's because Abigail, who lives in St. Thomas, Ont., is 12 years old. She has been diagnosed with extended oligoarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis, which affects numerous joints, including her ankles, wrists, hips, knees and elbows.

About 24,000 Canadians under 18 live with some form of arthritis, a disease that can cause severe pain, permanent joint damage and serious growth problems. For many, a simple injection of an inexpensive drug called Aristospan can eliminate symptoms and put their arthritis in remission for months at a time. But the company that markets the drug in Canada has decided to stop selling it, leaving patients, doctors and their families scrambling for a solution. Instead of going to their local pharmacy, families now must wait weeks or months for access to the drug - an unnecessary delay that is causing children and teens to suffer irreversible joint damage, according to arthritis specialists and families of those affected.

"We're not giving the best treatment to the right patient at the right time," said Joanne Simons, chief mission officer with the Arthritis Society. "It's delaying the whole process and kids just get sicker."

Although they've been unable to find out why Aristospan is no longer available on the Canadian market, some experts are concerned that this lack of access is part of a wider trend: the growing disappearance of inexpensive, older drugs that have small profit margins.

"We've been seeing it since at least 2010," said Dr. Jacalyn Duffin, a hematologist and historian who holds the Hannah Chair of the History of Medicine at Queen's University. "It's just a tiny little symptom of a huge system problem."

Reports of drugs that are either unavailable or in shortage across Canada have increased in recent years. For instance, the generic drugs haloperidol, an anti-psychotic, and propranolol hydrochloride, a popular treatment for high blood pressure, have been in shortage since last year.

Duffin, who maintains the website, said many of the drugs in shortage are older, less expensive medications. Pharmaceutical companies note that supply-chain problems or lack of raw materials are often the cause of shortages.

Dr. Peter Dent, professor emeritus of pediatrics at McMaster University and head of the division of pediatric rheumatology and immunology at McMaster Children's Hospital, said he also believes a profit motive may be at the root of the problem.

"What this has done has added a layer of bureaucracy into the process and there's some delay. Is the delay life-threatening? I would say not. ... It does ... result in some prolonged discomfort," he said.

Currently, Valeo Pharma is the only company authorized to sell Aristospan in Canada. But the company no longer makes it. Although Canadian generic drugmaker Sandoz produces Aristospan for the U.S. market, it doesn't have authorization to sell the drug here. Valeo Pharma did not respond to requests for comment.

Now, the Arthritis Society is pushing Valeo to restart production of Aristospan and for Sandoz to get market authorization to sell Aristospan in Canada. In the meantime, the only way young patients can get Aristospan is for their doctors to apply to Health Canada's Special Access Programme, which is reserved for drugs unavailable in Canada and typically used in life-threatening situations. The drug is delivered from the United States and the amount of red tape means children and teens are left to suffer for weeks for a drug that was once available at pharmacies across Canada.

"It's not really fair to the patients," said Dr. Deborah Levy, a pediatric rheumatologist at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children. "It's not right of us to be relying on a program to get medication from other countries to treat children at home."

While there are some other drugs available that can be used as alternatives, they don't work quite as well and the effects don't last nearly as long, according to Simons. The duration is important because the drug has to be injected in the joints of children, which typically requires them to be put under anesthetic.

Although the lack of access is serious, experts such as Dent say it has gone under the radar because the pediatric rheumatology community is so small and spread out. There are only about 40 pediatric rheumatologists in Canada and patients living in smaller cities or rural areas often face challenges getting access to the care they need.

Abigail Stewart had to wait six weeks for a recent Aristospan injection. And every day she had to wait, the arthritis did permanent damage to her body, said Abigail's mother, Hope Stewart. "That can never be repaired and that's a bigger cost to our health care system as she gets older," Stewart said in a recent interview.

Stewart pointed out that in addition to suffering cartilage and joint damage, her daughter must take the cancer-drug methotrexate to help keep the disease at bay. Even at relatively low doses, the drug puts her daughter at a greatly increased risk of infections and causes her to feel nauseated for days.

"It's an unnecessary medication that she could have taken for six weeks less if [Aristospan] put her into remission," Stewart said.

Since Abigail had the injection, her pain, inflammation and swelling have all been wiped out and she is on the road to remission, according to her mother. She will need more injections in the future if she wants to keep the disease at bay. But unless something changes, the girl will once again have to wait six weeks, or perhaps even longer, for a medication that used to be available at the local pharmacy.

"Every day of damage is a day of damage that is unnecessary," Stewart said.

Stacey, stage two
When NBC gave her a pilot, she 'let out a silent scream.' Is prime time ready for Second City's most fearless female?
Saturday, April 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R4

She sparkled in three Second City comedy revues over the past couple of years, but I had no idea what to expect when the time came to interview the comedic actor Stacey McGunnigle. The characters she has portrayed onstage have been varied, nuanced and fully formed. Where she began and they ended wasn't clear. That she would be an expressive redhead was my best guess.

We meet at the Second City theatre in downtown Toronto. She has moved on from the company, but she's still part of the close-knit Second City family, which is proud of her recent big-time career move: Last month, the 28-year-old McGunnigle, the pride of Alliston, Ont., landed the title role on the NBC pilot Ellen More Or Less, one more stage in her heady ascent through the comedic ranks.

The story of a plucky woman who used to be overweight, but has shed the pounds and is readjusting to life, Ellen More Or Less is one of a dozen or so comedy pilots that NBC is considering for its 2014-15 season. From that crop, at best a handful will be picked up. McGunnigle will know by next month if the show will make it to air.

When her casting was announced in the trade papers, there was mention of the comedian landing the role after "wowing NBC brass with her screen test," but also that her coup was possibly aided by the fact that Ellen mirrors McGunnigle's own real-life story as a "former fat girl." When asked about that description of her younger self, the tall, fit, fiery-haired actor uses words like "chunky" and "awkward." She relates to Ellen. "I can access the parts of her character in myself," she says. "She doesn't have it together, but she's very confident in her chaos."

For the past few months, McGunnigle has shuttled back and forth between Toronto and Los Angeles. Just last week, she finished filming the Ellen pilot. Shooting it was an exhilarating experience, she says. Sitting down with the cast - which also includes TV veteran Mary Kay Place - reading the script, suddenly it all became real. "I thought, 'This is right out of the movies.' And then I realized, 'Oh, this is where the movies are made.'"

A survivor of the rigorous Second City training program, McGunnigle is no rookie. But being involved with the network that made Seinfeld, Friends, 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live is an almost surreal event for someone who grew up in a family of "comedy nerds." Her favourite sitcom was Roseanne, because she identified with the imperfect characters. "Seeing them, I realized that I wasn't crazy and that my life wasn't crazy and that my mother wasn't crazy," she explains. "You were watching yourself on television."

As a teenager, McGunnigle didn't take road trips to see bands. Instead, she and her friends headed to the Yuk Yuk's comedy club in nearby Barrie, where she saw standups like Jon Dore ("What a babe!" she shrieks) and Gerry Dee (silence).

Later she went full circle, performing at Yuk Yuk's as part of a Great Canadian Laugh-Off talent contest. "I thought to myself, 'I've made it.' " She studied at York University's theatre conservatory - "a pretty serious bunch" - and quickly made her way through the Second City pipeline, from touring troupe, to understudy status, to mainstage ensemble.

"It's a great success story," says Klaus Schuller, the producer and executive director of the Toronto branch of the legendary Second City sketch-comedy organization that's famous as a breeding ground for comedic actors who went on to greatness in the business of being funny. Whether from the Chicago troupe or the Toronto ensemble, future stars who passed through the company include Alan Arkin, Shelley Long, Stephen Colbert, and SNL icons Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Mike Myers and Tina Fey.

But most of Second City's comics don't ever land a place with Saturday Night Live - much less grab a lead role in a sitcom. "Stacey showed up," says Schuller, "as someone unknown and with no buzz about her, and auditioned and did an amazing enough job that they're pinning the hopes of the show on her."

Comedian Naomi Snieckus agrees. "For a role like this, thousands of people would have been considered," she says. "It's a huge lottery." Snieckus is a Second City alumna and one of Canada's most gifted improv comics. She also co-produces The Casting Room, a lighthearted Web series on the ins and outs of auditioning. While Snieckus says that McGunnigle's story as a relative unknown landing such a big-league spot is rare, she notes as well that "people in the business want to discover people. Stacey's low profile actually may have helped her."

Each winter, comedians and actors descend on Los Angeles in search of roles in the new crop of TV projects. Pilot season, as it's known in the business, is extremely competitive, and most emerge from it empty-handed. For Ellen More Or Less McGunnigle sent in a tape and auditioned in person, but initially the producers planned to go in a different direction. Before a final decision was made, however, she made a second tape and tested again for the studio and the network. She was in an L.A. hotel room when the show's producer gave her the good news. "I let out a silent scream," she recalls.

McGunnigle has a reputation for being fearless in her willingness to dive into characters, take risks, and leave everything she has on the stage. "It's a roller-coaster ride, and Stacey had nothing to lose," says This Hour Has 22 Minutes star Shaun Majumder, who's also a busy L.A.-based comic and a veteran of the pilot-season carnival. "I don't know her, but I imagine she was just going to be her, and that was what led NBC to decide that there's no one else out there quite like her."

So, just being herself. Stacey being Stacey, more or less.

Scarlett Johansson and the problem with celebrity profiles
Special to The Globe and Mail
Friday, April 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L2

The cover story on Scarlett Johansson in the May Vanity Fair - now online for subscribers - is already drawing fire for being too gooey about the fantastic good looks of its subject. It opens with its writer, Lili Anolik, admitting her own star-struckness, her weakness in the presence of fame, and her enchantment with the star's great beauty. "She looked ravishing, radiant, sublime, good enough to eat. ... And as I joined the small throng that had gathered to watch, throwing subtle elbows to secure a better position, I realized that I was acting the opposite of cool, that I was acting totally and completely gaga. I realized, too, that Scarlett wasn't just a movie star. She was a movie goddess, the purest strain of movie star."

It's this kind of rapturous, almost hysterical writing about the superhuman qualities of stars that gets magazine writers in trouble. Canadian Stephen Marche was ridiculed for growing similarly mystical about the effects of Megan Fox on his psyche when he wrote a profile of her for Esquire in January. His praises of her beauty - comparing her face to "the patterns of waves crisscrossing a lake" and "an elaborately camouflaged butterfly" - were said to be overwrought and sexist.

Of course they were; he's a guy. But Anolik is not. So is her adoration of a woman's sexual charms also sexist? In fact, she addresses her gender head-on, saying that in the presence of such godlike charisma: "You become a man, even if you're not one. You gawk. You gape. You leer."

This admission - which I find rather interesting, the kind of thing you don't hear people admitting to very often - has brought some scorn down on Anolik's head. There is already a backlash to this profile. "Vanity Fair Is Latest Magazine To Reduce Scarlett Johansson Into A Sex Fantasy," reads the headline at online Hollywood gossip mag The Wrap. The complaint is that it's Johansson's acting that should be analyzed, not her sexual charm.

But what, actually, is the difference? Do we not want our actors to have massive sexual charisma?

Anolik's self-analysis is actually de rigueur in the contemporary celebrity profile. Magazine writers are in a bit of a pickle when it comes to these pieces. The reporters picked to do the star piece are generally the best in the business: These articles are the best paid, and so they are assigned to the clever and successful. Those clever writers must establish that they are at least a little bit intellectual - that they are aiming not just to tell you why Scarlett Johansson broke up with Josh Hartnett, but something about the nature of celebrity itself. They want to be seen as sociological as much as prurient. Hence all the writerly self-psychoanalysis, and all the poetry about what it's like to be screened by publicists and sitting in on makeup sessions in the presence of great beauty. It's about the puzzling draw of fame.

Even the cerebral New Yorker tried its hand at a Johansson profile last month, and buttressed all the current conventions of the genre. Witty film critic Anthony Lane spent a lot of time appreciating Johansson's new move; the creepy sci-fi Under The Skin (adapted from the brilliant Michel Faber novel). But he also couldn't resist poetic paeans to the actress's sexual pull. Noting that she is pregnant (and that her publicists have forbidden questions about her pregnancy, in a paradoxical effort to restrain speculation about her personal life), Lane writes: "Would it be construed as trespass, therefore, to state that Johansson looks tellingly radiant in the flesh? Mind you, she rarely looks unradiant, so it's hard to say whether her condition has made a difference."

Lane came under fire, too, even after praising her acting talent, for such a capitulation to mere sex drive. Pervy old guy, just like Marche, etc.

I am puzzled by this sanctimony. The indignation presumes that there is something genuinely substantial that we can learn from the personality profile if it avoids reverence about superficial things, such as beauty. What exactly do we want to know about Johansson? What she reads? Because that would tell us something about her character in Under The Skin? No, it wouldn't. Come on. And what informs her character in a movie isn't what readers of Vanity Fair want to know in the first place. They want to know why she broke up with Hartnett.

Here is a fundamental conflict in educated society: We are not supposed to value beauty so highly, and yet who can defend against its sheer power to move, its rhetorical force? Of course we want to know what constitutes her charisma, this magical beauty; this is the great mystery and the great prize, and it is through beauty that we will not only understand ourselves - what weakens and arouses us - but glean some tips on how to reproduce it. It is partly through current ideas of visual beauty that we will understand the artistic moment, the draw of cinema itself. What the hell is wrong with beauty? We don't mind beauty when it's in poetry, do we? Do we call it superficial there?

Lane, like all profilers, addressed the powerful flexibility of a star's beauty in his New Yorker piece. "After all, film stars are those unlikely beings who seem more alive, not less, when images are made of them; who unfurl and reach toward the light, instead of seizing up, when confronted by a camera; and who, by some miracle or trick, become enriched versions of themselves, even as they ramify into other selves on cue." He describes photographers who exhort the star to make herself expressionless for photographs. He quotes her as responding: "I rarely have anything inside me."

This is why the celebrity profile has become such a personal canvas for writers: It is quite understandably a screen for projection of one's own complexes rather than for deep analysis of another's. Just like movies.

On the cutting edge
Stockholm's once-gritty 'knife district' has reinvented itself as a waterfront destination beloved for its vibrant dining scene, unique shops and down-to-earth vibe
Special to The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1

STOCKHOLM -- Stockholm's once-gritty Sodermalm district - the setting for author Stieg Larsson's popular Millennium Trilogy - has turned into some of the hippest real estate in the Nordic world. The Hornstull neighbourhood, at its western edge, is the latest area to brush off a murky past and reinvent itself.

Once dubbed "knife-soder" because of its rough reputation, an influx of restaurants, cafés and bars to Hornstull has changed that to "knife-and-fork soder," and it's definitely worth a visit. Here, you'll get a different taste of Stockholm, because few of Hornstull's restaurants feature traditional Swedish fare. Instead, the focus is on international flavours.

Unlike the shops selling Viking helmets in Stockholm's old town, or the glitter of the ABBA museum, Hornstull is a vibrant, workaday neighbourhood that can easily be explored in a day. Despite the modernizing changes in the area, many of its historic aspects have been retained, as has the sense of community. Long-time residents still congregate outside to discuss the latest news and families push strollers along busy streets.

Hornstull is a major commuter hub from the southwestern suburbs into the city centre, and it's not surprising that some of the recent changes can be seen as soon as you leave the subway. You immediately walk into a small shopping mall and, just outside, see the new Hornhuset building, which opened last year. Each of its three storeys offers a different dining option focused primarily on Mediterranean fare.

The soccer-loving Enzo's Trattoria adds some Italian flavour with classic Neapolitan pizza on the top floor and excellent views from its terrace. At night, Enzo's becomes a lively bar. Nearby, you'll find a memorably named restaurant, Taylor & Jones with the Twist, where English-style sausages and sandwiches are paired with a selection of on-tap beers from Sweden and beyond.

Around the corner, a space known as Tjoget is home to a barbershop, a florist that sells only locally grown plants and flowers, and a restaurant. Hipsters can get their beards trimmed at Roy & Son, while Linje Tio restaurant offers New York-meets-Paris chic.

Its menu celebrates mostly southern European flavours, including Spanish chorizo, Italian salami fenocchio, French boeuf braisé and a few vegetarian dishes.

Hornstull boasts more than interesting new restaurants, bars and shops, of course. Artists enjoy places such as Parallel, a combined gallery, café and workspace, where you can buy work from local artists or create your own in a 3-D print shop.

The district is also home to one of Stockholm's best music venues, Debaser, which has two connected restaurants, Calexico's (Mexican) and Bar Brooklyn (its menu includes American-style sliders).

Despite the changing neighbourhood, older Hornstull shops continue to thrive, such as Mickes Serier CD & Vinyl. For 17 years, it has been selling music finds such as rare vinyl from the Beatles and early Joy Division singles.

The store recently opened a second shop, just across the street on Langholmsgatan, focusing on hip-hop and reggae. Owner Micke Englund has lived in Hornstull since 1999 and is happy with the area's new spirit - and the fact that it still attracts the creative types that keep it lively.

"I'm here seven days a week," he says with a smile.

A short walk away is the historic Liljeholmsbadet, a floating bathhouse dating to 1929. During its early years, people would come here to wash because showers and baths weren't common in apartments.

Now you can swim here in every season except summer, when most residents simply dive into the waters surrounding the city.

After their long winters, Swedes like to stay outside as much as possible in warmer months. One such destination for a summer night might be Lasse i Parken, a snug café in the middle of one Hornstull parks that offers outdoor seating, live music and Swedish fare - think fresh trout with dill, new potatoes and lingonberries.

One of Hornstull's greatest assets is its beautiful Liljeholmsviken waterfront, with its abundant green space. In the summer, it also hosts a Sunday market with everything from used CDs to vintage clothing.

The market is also becoming known for its varied food trucks, where you can sample international treats such as Vietnamese sandwiches and American-style barbecue. The colourful trucks are a fitting symbol of Hornstull's busy, melting-pot atmosphere.




Enzo's Trattoria: Modern, but warm and cozy, Enzo's serves fantastic Neapolitan pizza, is wild about soccer, and has great views from its terrace. Langholmsgatan 15B,

Linje Tio: With a menu heavily influenced by southern European cooking and the stylish interior looking more like an industrial-tinged Parisian brasserie, it's easy to forget you're in Stockholm.

Hornbrukstgatan 24,

Taylor & Jones with the Twist: It's hard to argue with good sausages straight from the butcher and a selection of international beer.

Langholmsgatan 17-21

Judit & Bertil: Named for the owner's grandparents, this eatery offers an international menu and a relaxed atmosphere. A good place to enjoy a cocktail with the locals.

Bergsundsstrand 38,

Lasse i Parken: A charming café in the middle of a park may be the only place you'll find a typical Swedish meal in Hornstull. Stop in for fresh fish and grilled steaks, or enjoy an afternoon fika, the traditional Swedish coffee-and-cake break.

Hogalidsgatan 56,


Hornstull is a true working-class neighbourhood, so most hotels are located just outside the district.

Hotel Rival: A former cinema turned chic hotel, partially owned by former ABBA member Benny Andersson. Double rooms start at $300 a night. Mariatorget 3,

Hotel Hellstens Malmgard: This former royal hunting palace offers a pleasant mix of classic charm with modern style. Double rooms start at $185.

Brannkzrkagatan 110,

Hotel Hornsgatan: Housed in a 1905 residential building, this hotel offers simple, but charming rooms. Double rooms start at $160; most, however, have shared bathrooms.

Hornstgatan 66b,

Zac Steger

One year later, a massive show of strength
One million spectators. More than 35,000 athletes. Double the number of police officers. Everything was big at this year's Boston Marathon, after last year's bombings killed three and injured hundreds. Karen McColl talks to some of the Canadians who ran
Tuesday, April 22, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A6

Tom Hoogendoorn made the decision to run in this year's Boston Marathon immediately after finishing last year's race.

"I wanted to see the spirit of Boston come alive again," he says. "[This year] met and exceeded my expectations."

This is the fourth time the 52-year-old dairy farmer from Agassiz, B.C., has run the Boston Marathon. His son, Brandon, flew down from Fort McMurray, Alta., to cheer him on but his wife declined. She was a little nervous, he says, and doesn't like crowds.

"The people were just fantastic," he says, adding he fed off the energy of the crowd when the heat started slowing him down. "When they see a Canadian flag, the cheers are phenomenal."

But he describes the police presence as a little "over the top," saying he figures there were about double the number of officers than in past years.

And next year? "Oh yeah, I'm coming back," he says. "Boston is an addiction."

"Run for yourself but finish for them."

That sign, held by a spectator, made a huge impression on Stu Vander Geest, 35,who ran the Boston Marathon for the first time Monday.

He says the massive number of spectators and the moment of silence for last year's bombing victims put things into perspective for him.

"Running this is not as hard as what a lot of people had to go through in the last year," says Mr. Vander Geest, who lives near Pickering, Ont.

"There was no part of the race with no people [along the sidelines]. Forty-two kilometres of people, sometimes four deep."

Mr. Vander Geest was joined by his training partner, Rick Atkinson, 46, a four-time Boston Marathon veteran who ran last year.

Mr. Atkinson says this year's Boston Marathon was "a hard race."

"My legs are killing me," he moans as he rests in his hotel room overlooking Boston Harbor.

Despite the challenges, Mr. Atkinson says he will remember the moment of silence most. "It was an opportunity to reflect," he says.

Jean Marmoreo says she isn't taking anything for granted even though she has become the first person to win their age category five times at the Boston Marathon.

Ms. Marmoreo, who is 71 and from Toronto, was just starting to feel as if she "didn't have anything left" when she turned onto Boylston Street, the final leg of the marathon. "I finally thought, 'It's finished,'" she says, knowing she was one kilometre from the finish. She went on to win the 70-74 women's age category with a time of 3:58:54.

The six-time Boston Marathoner and doctor says she found this race particularly tough, but circumstances pushed her harder. "You put out everything you had ... It's our way to honour the people who lost their lives and who are injured."

Ms. Marmoreo says she doesn't know how much longer she will continue running marathons. "Every time I finish I say, 'That's it!' "

Then: "Ask me tomorrow when I'm not tired."

Amy McIntyre was in her hotel room last year when the bomb went off at the finish line. The 34-year-old from Udora, Ont., came back this year to "support the city and the community."

"As a running community, it's kind of a tight-knit world," she says Monday evening after completing her third Boston Marathon.

Ms. McIntyre noticed a few differences with the race compared with last year. "It was crazy, it was so exciting. The crowd was unbelievable compared to last year," she says. "It was loud."

Ms. McIntyre says 10,000 extra people ran this year and the course was "packed," but everything was well-organized and ran smoothly.

"There were tons of kids out," she says, handing out water and Freezies. "That was really cool."

Her favourite moment was crossing the finish line. "I think that was a very emotional spot for a lot of people," she says. "There are a lot of memories on that street."

Canada's fastest female marathoner in Boston this year was Lanni Marchant, who says the crowd kept her company for much of the race.

"There wasn't a portion [of the race] that wasn't covered with people," says the 30-year-old, who is originally from London, Ont., but now resides in Chattanooga, Tenn.

She is happy with her performance, finishing 14th in the women's category and 105th over all with a time of 2:30:34.

This was Ms. Marchant's first time running the Boston Marathon and she says it felt good to see some many runners and spectators out in "full force."

"You can't attack running and Boston" without people coming back to show their support, she says.

Mr. Marchant enjoyed passing some of the wheelchair racers on the uphills and having them fly by her on the downhills.

"They would take time to congratulate me on my race," she says.

Tom McGrath of Edmonton was the first Canadian to finish, with a time of 2:30:24. He finished 101st over all.

"I'll remember most the crowds that were bigger and louder than any previous Boston I've run," Mr. McGrath wrote in a message to The Globe.

"I'll also remember standing on the start line listening to the American national anthem and feeling the emotion of the runners and the crowd."



Number of athletes registered to run, the second-largest field in the race's 118-year history


The largest field of athletes - in 1996, the marathon's centenary


Estimate of the crowd this year, according to organizers. That's twice the usual number.


Number of police officers, double the size of the force last year. They are from Boston police, state police and the FBI.


Number of cameras installed along the route in Boston.


Estimated number of observation points set up around the finish line to monitor the crowd.

AP, Reuters, NYT and AFP

Court of appeal
Part sociological treatise, part mix tape, Canadian director Brett Kashmere's ambitious documentary, From Deep, delivers a high-energy history of the three-decade love affair between basketball and rap
Special to The Globe and Mail
Friday, April 18, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R1

Few team sports twine so intrinsically with the arts as does basketball with hip hop. From the playgrounds of inner-city America to the corporate arenas of the NBA, rap lends basketball an attitude, aesthetic and soundtrack; and basketball has arguably become a fifth pillar of hip-hop culture, alongside MCing, DJing, graffiti and breakdance.

This relationship informs From Deep, the first feature-length documentary by Regina-born, Pittsburgh-based filmmaker Brett Kashmere, enjoying its Canadian premiere at this year's Images Festival in Toronto. Over three chapters (The Hoop Moves, The Funky Dialectic, Crossed Over), the film traces basketball's evolution from ground-bound fundamentals to high-flying spectacle, alongside hip hop's popular ascendancy.

Together, each of these complementary histories not only feels essential to understanding the others; they also provide insights into the legacies of race, economics, competition, populism and entertainment that define contemporary America. From Deep braids its two threads cleverly, and the resulting insights extend far beyond pop culture into the realm of sociology. Splicing hand-held shots of pickup games with clips from Hollywood movies, rap videos and archival footage, the film is also hugely enjoyable, a testament to Kashmere's obvious passion for both subjects.

"Growing up," he said during an interview last week, "I never thought about hip hop and basketball as being separate. They were part of the same culture, and Michael Jordan and Spike Lee were seemingly in the middle of everything."

From Deep, which Kashmere classifies as being somewhere "between essay and mix tape," incorporates two corresponding streams of voice-over narration - the filmmaker's personal ruminations and passages from Hoop Roots: Basketball, Race, and Love, the 2001 memoir by John Edgar Wideman - which offer divergent interpretations of the images onscreen.

"Hoop Roots represents the voice of authority, of firsthand knowledge, of expertise," says the 36-year-old Kashmere, who grew up in the community of White City, Sask., "while my own writing and research is more tentative, even self-questioning at times. I'm white and Canadian, and I'm documenting and speaking about a game that is now primarily black, American, urban." Yet, he admits that this definition feels reductive, reinforcing "a black-white racial dichotomy played up in popular narratives," which his film examines and discredits.

In the early 1980s, hip hop began to spread from sound-system parties in the South Bronx, first through the five boroughs of New York, and then across the Hudson River and beyond. This coincided with a shift in the dynamics of professional basketball, the NBA having recently merged with its flashier, streetwise cousin, the American Basketball Association. The sport became a forum for style, embodied in the jaw-dropping exploits of Julius Erving. And as DJs Kool Herc and Afrika Bambaataa paved the way for the chart-topping success of Run-D.M.C., so too did Dr. J's aerial acrobatics presage the sport's first truly global superstar, Michael Jordan.

From Deep pinpoints 1984 as the year that everything changed. "During this period," Kashmere says, in his narration of the film, the NBA "continued its transition to an urban aesthetic as its players were elevating to the level of mainstream entertainers, able to cross over racial barriers." That year saw the NBA hold its first slam-dunk competition - an official sanctioning of a shot once banned from the sport - as well as Kurtis Blow's single Basketball; and the advent of Def Jam Records, which would host breakout acts LL Cool J, Public Enemy and the Beastie Boys. It was also the year Jordan was drafted by the Chicago Bulls.

Kashmere casts Jordan not only as a pivotal figure in how basketball is played and talked about, but as something of a cultural paradigm. Jordan, "a young rebel intent on getting money and dominating the game" possessed a marketable swagger that heralded an era in which "individual players became brands unto themselves." Anyone familiar with the current state of pop music will recognize these traits from rap moguls Jay Z and Kanye West. Yet Jordan remains the standard for brand resilience: Almost 30 years after the original Air Jordan sneakers hit the market, they remain a fashion staple among hip-hop heads and gym rats alike.

From the late 1980s onward, as rap launched from urban subculture into the mainstream, basketball, led by a new crop of players raised on the beats and rhymes of EPMD and N.W.A., adopted a similar place in American society. Leading the charge were five freshmen at the University of Michigan. "A cultural force, more akin to music stars than student athletes," as Chris Webber, Jalen Rose and Co. are described in From Deep, "the Fab 5 started a hip-hop style trend within basketball."

That trend is most indebted to the streets, where rap was born (literally: Kool Herc would drive his mobile sound system from one party to another) and basketball is played in its most expressive form. Driveways, schoolyards and playgrounds provide stages for ballers to show out, perhaps best embodied in the streetball inspired And1 Mixtape Tour, whose videos feel as much like freestyle ciphers and breakdance competitions as they do compendiums of hoops highlights.

And it's on the playground that From Deep really shines. Unlike Hollywood's attempts at portraying basketball, which tend to feel voyeuristic and staged, the film acutely captures the rhythms of the pickup game. Kashmere's goal was to give a sense of "the distinctive nature of each neighbourhood court, the social environments, the different mixtures of people, to demonstrate a glimpse of the amazing diversity and variety of how and where the game is played." While plenty can be said about the current state of American politics, From Deep suggests at least one place where democracy perseveres in its most idealistic form: on the playground, and in the streets.

From Deep has its Canadian premiere April 19 at 9 p.m. at the Art Gallery of Ontario's Jackman Hall. The Images Festival runs April 10 to 19.

Move fast, bid hard: The new buyers' rules in a sellers' market
Friday, April 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page G1

Real estate agent Christopher Bibby was on a plane making its final descent into San Francisco last weekend when his clients in Toronto found the house they had to have.

"We've been looking at houses all over the city for a year. The minute I leave, the perfect house comes through," he says. "I don't think we had even touched down and my phone powered up."

As the plane taxied to the gate, Mr. Bibby was already gearing up to make a bully offer on the house in Toronto's west end.

The sellers were holding off offers for a week, but the clients weren't willing to follow the schedule. That's the way of Toronto's real estate market in the spring of 2014: competition for detached houses in prime neighbourhoods has escalated into fierce combat.

"I find the freehold market to be extremely aggressive and buyers are willing to be very aggressive to get a house," Mr. Bibby said.

Many agents are advising their clients to remain on standby, ready to leave work or drop their plans to see a property as soon at it hits the market. In this case, Mr. Bibby couldn't accompany them so he sent the clients with his business card.

"They got very excited. They said 'if we wait it will be gone. "

While his fiancée waited in line at the rental car counter, Mr. Bibby launched his opening salvo.

To add to the intensity, the couple was in California to make the arrangements for their wedding. During the day, Mr. Bibby put together an unconditional offer for more than $100,000 above the asking price around the $1-million mark. By the end of the day, the paper work was all signed and his buyers had their house.

"In a way it's almost exciting," Mr. Bibby said. "[Buyers] have to fight back - there are no rules. We put on the pressure that we had to to get this done."

Mr. Bibby is philosophical about the timing and thankful that his fiancée is more than understanding. She pretty much single-handedly chose the menu and selected the wines for their wedding celebration while Mr. Bibby kept disappearing to negotiate the deal.

Meanwhile, he says, listings have started to increase for single-family houses in Toronto since the Ontario schools' March break, but not nearly enough to meet the demand.

The Toronto Real Estate Board reports that sales in the Greater Toronto Area rose 7.2 per cent in March compared with the same month last year. Many agents think that the shortage of listings in the single-family tranche is dampening sales. Potential move-up buyers are reluctant to list their houses for sale because they are afraid they won't be able to find another place to buy. That dynamic creates a vicious circle, with the number of listings remaining low.

TREB president Dianne Usher points out that a shortage of listings spurs more competition for the few houses available and that in turn pushes up prices.

According to TREB, the average selling price in the GTA hit $557,684 in March to mark an 8-per-cent jump from the same month last year.

Mr. Bibby says a somewhat more balanced market means the eye-popping amounts over the asking price are slowly settling down.

But he adds that many of his colleagues are exasperated with the bidding wars that are so common downtown - especially when listing agents set an asking price far below the market value of the house. In many cases 80 per cent of the offers won't make it past the first round.

As a result, many agents and buyers are rebelling.

"When they say 'offers Tuesday,' you know it's not going to last until Tuesday. You treat it as offers any time."

Mr. Bibby sells mainly condos and lofts in the downtown area. He hasn't set an offer date on one of his own listings in years.

"If we price it well the bidding war will happen organically."

At Capital Economics, economist David Madani takes the longer view and warns that a slowdown in sales of newly constructed homes may be part of a long-term correction that will dampen economic growth this year and next in Canada.

Mr. Madani believes high prices and tighter household credit conditions principally explain the slowdown in new home sales, but he expects that softening investor sentiment is also partly to blame - especially in what he considers an overbuilt new condo market.

In Toronto's condo segment Mr. Bibby finds that some units are selling within six to eight hours for the full asking price. Others take a week or two and buyers are able to negotiate. The most generic units sit for months.

Mr. Bibby recently sold a unit in the Abbey Lane lofts on King Street East near Sherbourne Street. The boutique building has a low turnover and most of the occupants are owners. When the loft arrived on the market, Mr. Bibby received three offers the first day and the unit sold for $579,150, or $14,150 above the asking price of $565,000.

In Liberty Village, a unit at 43 Hanna was listed with an asking price of $489,900 and sold for $500,000 after eight days on the market. The 840-square-foot unit is in the Toy Factory Lofts, which remains among the most popular with buyers.

"The really interesting buildings in the smaller pockets - those buyers aren't willing to compromise," he said. "These unique properties are what get the buyers excited."

As the spring unfolds, Mr. Bibby says that enthusiastic buyers will likely continue to watch for houses and condos with character and singular features and pounce quickly when they find them. For his part, he will step out of the fray for a time.

"There may be a rule during the wedding that my cellphone stays in the room."

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Saturday, April 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R17


Most of us know the theremin as the instrument that lends its eerie, trilling voice to b-movie scores; few know the equally otherworldly real-life tale behind its invention. In Us Conductors, Sean Michaels builds a fictional narrative around the life of Lev Termen, the Soviet scientist who was seduced by Jazz Age New York City and wound up in a Siberian gulag. The novel skips through time, place and outrageous circumstance with the agility of the leaping ersatz soprano of the theremin itself.


1 1 4 Shadow Spell, by Nora Roberts (Berkley, $19).
2 4 6 Power Play, by Danielle Steel (Delacorte, $32).
3 7 5 Be Careful What You Wish For, by Jeffrey Archer (St. Martin's, $31.99).
4 6 3 Whirlwind, by Rick Mofina (Harlequin MIRA, $8.99).
5 8 22 The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simison (HarperCollins, $19.99).
6 - 5 Somewhere In France: A Novel Of The Great War, by Jennifer Robson (Avon, $17.99).
7 5 4 NYPD Red 2, by James Patterson and Marshall Karp (Little Brown & Company, $31).
8 - 1 Carnal Curiosity, by Stuart Woods (Penguin, $31).
9 - 65 The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared, by Jonas Jonasson (HarperPerennial, $16.99).
10 - 1 Keep Quiet, by Lisa Scottoline (St. Martin's, $29.99).


1 1 2 Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, by Michael Lewis (W. W. Norton & Company, $32.95).
2 - 24 Orr, by Bobby Orr (Viking Canada, $32).
3 3 2 Listen To The Squawking Chicken: When Mother Knows Best, What's A Daughter To Do? A Memoir (Sort Of), by Elaine Lui (Random House Canada, $27.95).
4 - 1 Face The Music: A Life Exposed, by Paul Stanley (HarperCollins, $35.99).
5 5 2 The Women Of Duck Commander: Surprising Insights From The Women Behind The Beards About What Makes This Family, by Kay Robertson, Korie Robertson, Missy Robertson and Jessica Robertson (Howard, $29.99).
6 - 1 Love Life, by Rob Lowe (Simon & Schuster, $29.99).
7 2 23 An Astronaut's Guide To Life On Earth, by Chris Hadfield (Random House Canada, $32).
8 4 4 Up, Up, And Away, by Jonah Keri (Random House Canada, $32).
9 - 1 The Death Of Money: The Coming Collapse Of The International Monetary System, by James Rickards (Portfolio, $33).
10 7 3 Thrive: The Third Metric To Redefining Success And Creating A Life Of Well-Being, Wisdom, And Wonder, by Arianna S. Huffington (Harmony, $31).


1 The Orenda, by Joseph Boyden (Penguin Canada, $22).
2 Still Missing, by Chevy Stevens (St. Martin's , $9.99).
3 Whirlwind, by Rick Mofina (Harlequin MIRA, $8.99).
4 Somewhere In France: A Novel Of The Great War, by Jennifer Robson (Avon, $17.99).
5 All My Puny Sorrows, by Miriam Toews (Knopf Canada, $29.95).
6 Empress Of The Night, by Eva Stachniak (Doubleday Canada, $24.95).
7 Indian Horse, by Richard Wagamese (Douglas & McIntyre, $21.95).
8 Frog Music, by Emma Donoghue (HarperCollins, $29.99).
9 The Hole In The Middle, by Kate Hilton (HarperCollins, $19.99).
10 The Shadow Queen, by Sandra Gulland (HarperCollins , $29.99).
1 Orr, by Bobby Orr (Viking Canada, $32).
2 Listen To The Squawking Chicken: When Mother Knows Best, What's A Daughter To Do? A Memoir (Sort Of), by Elaine Lui (Random House Canada, $27.95).
3 An Astronaut's Guide To Life On Earth, by Chris Hadfield (Random House Canada, $32).
4 Up, Up, And Away, by Jonah Keri (Random House Canada, $32).
5 Waking The Frog: Solutions For Our Climate Change Paralysis, by Tom Rand (ECW, $29.52).
6 David And Goliath, by Malcolm Gladwell (Little Brown & Company, $32).
7 The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account Of Native People In North America, by Thomas King (Anchor Canada, $19.95).
8 My Journey, by Olivia Chow (HarperCollins, $29.99).
9 Ice Storm Ontario 2013: The Beauty, The Devastation, The Aftermath, by Toronto Star (ECW, $31.63).
10 Tales From Beyond The Tap, by Randy Bachman (Viking Canada, $30).


1 The Doctors Diet: Dr. Travis Stork's STAT Program To Help You Lose Weight & Restore Your Health, by Travis Stork (Bird Street, $28).
2 Wheat Belly, by William Davis (HarperCollins, $17.99).
3 Unmasking Superfoods, by Jennifer Sygo (HarperCollins, $19.99).
4 Miracles Now: 108 Life-Changing Tools For Less Stress, More Flow, And Finding Your True Purpose, by Gabrielle Bernstein (Hay House, $24.95).
5 The End Of Dieting: How To Live For Life, by Joel Fuhrman (HarperCollins, $33.50).
6 The Gifts Of Imperfection: Let Go Of Who You Think You're Supposed To Be And Embrace Who You Are, by Brené Brown (Hazelden, $17.50).
7 A New Earth: Aweakening To Your Life's Purpose, by Eckhart Tolle (Plume, $16).
8 I Can See Clearly Now, by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer Dr. (Hay House, $27.95).
9 Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, And Sugar--Your Brain's Silent Killers, by David Perlmutter and Kristin Loberg (Little Brown & Company, $30).
10 The Reboot With Joe Juice Diet: Lose Weight, Get Healthy And Feel Amazing, by Joe Cross (Greenleaf Book Group, $18.95).

Romance / Erotica

1 Shadow Spell, by Nora Roberts (Berkley, $19).
2 Whiskey Beach, by Nora Roberts (Berkley, $19).
3 Forget Me Not, by Fern Michaels (Zebra, $9.99).
4 Starting Now, by Debbie Macomber (Ballantine, $9.99).
5 Afterburn & Aftershock, by Sylvia Day (Harlequin, $17.95).
6 Tell Me, by Lisa Jackson (Zebra, $9.99).
7 Four Friends, by Robyn Carr (Harlequin MIRA, $17.95).
8 Dark Witch, by Nora Roberts (Berkley, $18).
9 Thankless In Death, by J. D. Robb (Berkley, $9.99).
10 The Summer Hideaway, by Susan Wiggs (Harlequin MIRA, $8.99).

Famous, finally, for being George
Saturday, April 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F3

George Takei's fame spans two generations, thanks to his role as Sulu on the original Star Trek and his daily posts for almost eight million followers on social media,which are by turns campy and earnest. But he's also spent much of his life engaged in a very personal form of social activism - most recently as an equal marriage crusader. And in To Be Takei, a new documentary at next week's Hot Docs film festival in Toronto, he lets fans into his life with his endearingly fretful husband (and partner of 25 years) Brad Takei.

Why did you make the documentary?

I have long been a social justice advocate - civil rights, the peace movement, the campaign to get redress for the unconstitutional incarceration of Japanese-Americans during the Second World War.

Now, I'm active in the movement for LGBT equality. So when director Jennifer Kroot approached us with the idea for this documentary, Brad and I thought it was a wonderful opportunity to do away with the perceptions that people have about same-sex marriages. We've been together for more than a quarter-century. We have a genuine partnership. This is an opportunity to show the normality of our loving marriage.

It was a very difficult decision for Brad. He is profoundly camera-shy. And in some scenes he might look like that proverbial deer caught in the headlights. But bless his heart, he agreed to do it, even though it was an excruciatingly uncomfortable proposition.

I was reading an article in which Ms. Kroot describes your marriage as a "functional-dysfunctional love story."

[Laughs.] Yes, we are opposites. Brad is almost infuriatingly organized and a neat freak.

We met in a gay running club. He'd run a few marathons and he was the best runner in the club, and stunningly good looking. I thought, I'll get him to train me for my first marathon. He was very successful.

I hope you won't take it the wrong way if I suggest he's the star of the film.

He steals the movie, I think.

When did you go from being famous for being Hikaru Sulu to being famous for being George Takei?

I think that was when I was persuaded to be the official announcer for the Howard Stern Show. And certainly, that's accorded me that much more megaphone volume in doing my advocacy work.

You seem to have a rapport with Howard Stern.

He can't tolerate dishonesty. He's got a keen antenna for that.

You've also amassed a huge online following. What's that like?

It's useful. It began when I was developing Allegiance, a musical based on the internment of Japanese-Americans - like me - during the Second World War. It's a subject that very few people know about.

My collaborators and I needed to prepare an audience, and I thought social media would be the best way to reach a lot of people. I had no idea it would grow that fast. My base was primarily made up of sci-fi geeks and nerds. I started with trial and error, and I found that humour was what got the most likes and shares. Then, as the audience grew, I thought, why not try a social-justice issue: equality for the LGBT community.

I did that, and it exploded.

Were gay rights on the public's radar when you were first doing Star Trek?

No, it was not even talked about. Everything was very secretive. The gay bars of that time were usually down very seedy-looking alleys. Even in gay bars, people had to have their guards up, because periodically police would raid them, march the clients out, load them onto paddywagons, take them to the police station, photograph them, and fingerprint them and put their names on a list. They had leverage over you then. If they let that list out, your career was in jeopardy, and maybe even your membership in your family.

For me to be pursuing a career as an actor was the most dangerous, foolhardy, risky thing to be doing.

Were you scared?

I was passionate about acting, and I took that chance. And people in the business are sensitive people. Certainly most of my colleagues from Star Trek guessed that I was gay. Only one person had no idea of my sexuality. It went right over his head.

Are we going to name names?

Oh, he's one of yours. He's a Canadian.

Who appears in the documentary, no less.

I had to bargain with him to get him to do the interview.

So much gets made out of this running animosity with William Shatner.

Isn't that silly?

Does it really exist, or is there an element of performance here?

There is an element of that now, but Bill was not the easiest person to work with. If you know who he is, he's supremely self-obsessed. There's a thing called actor's etiquette. That did not apply to him.

I didn't realize that you had been so politically active. You worked on governors' races and presidential campaigns, starting with Adlai Stevenson.

All my campaigns failed, except when I got behind Tom Bradley for mayor of Los Angeles, and when he won, he appointed me to the Southern California Rapid Transit District board (I had been an architecture and city-planning student at Berkeley). The mandate was to get started on building a subway system.

In Canada, when I fly over Toronto, I can always peg where your subway stations are, because that's where you have your high-rise areas. You organize your city in a way that's much more efficient and salubrious.


Well, that means healthy.

Do you see yourself as a culture warrior?

No, I just see myself as an advocate of justice and equality for all people.

Ivor Tossell is a frequent contributor to The Globe. This interview has been edited and condensed.

Susan Krashinsky reports on ING Direct's struggle to find a new way to stand out
Friday, April 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B5

They couldn't call it Orange.

The name was already in use, in a number of industries. As executives at ING Direct scanned hundreds of possible names to re-brand their bank, they knew that whatever they picked would need to stand out.

When Bank of Nova Scotia announced its $3.1-billion deal to acquire the Canadian arm of Dutch bank ING Groep NV in August, 2012, it created a major branding challenge. Because of intellectual property concerns, ING Direct was faced with upending a brand it had been building successfully since 1997, when its Dutch spokesman first took to the Canadian airwaves to urge consumers to "save your money."

"It wasn't a situation where we were renaming a brand that was failing or obsolete," said Andrew Zimakas, vice-president and chief marketing officer of the bank formerly known as ING Direct. "We were having to rename a brand that people generally really liked."

The marketing team was also challenged with reassuring the company's 1.9 million customers that while everything appeared to be changing, nothing would change. That message will kick into full gear on April 22, when the newly christened Tangerine launches an aggressive advertising campaign - its biggest ever in Canada, and more than double what it spent last year.

The bank has already had a television commercial in heavy rotation preparing consumers for the name change, which officially took effect this week. But the bulk of the work is still to come, as Tangerine grapples with maintaining a brand that was built on being different from other banks, while coming under ownership of Canada's third-largest financial institution. While Tangerine customers now get access to Scotiabank ATMs, the marketing team will be tasked with keeping "daylight" between Tangerine and its parent company, Mr. Zimakas said.

That means very little presence of the Tangerine brand in Scotiabank branches; no red or other Scotiabank references in its new campaign; and later this month, a series of ads seeking to maintain the image of the bank as small, simple, and different.

It started with the name. Orange was on the list because of the company's desire to reference the colour of the ING brand, for continuity. Executives pored over hundreds of names provided by the agency Lexicon Branding, before deciding on Tangerine. The list included words in Sanskrit and Latin, more than one portmanteau, and a few made-up names, before they were whittled down.

Now that the name change is done, the advertising strategy will kick into high gear. The new ads will feature the same man holding an orange mug that appeared in the "transition" ads. He will walk viewers through a word problem - one of those classics from grade school textbooks about two trains moving at different speeds toward a destination. Two people who need to deposit a cheque by 5 p.m. are travelling on commuter trains. The calculation: "If Cindy's train is travelling at 89 kilometres an hour and Roger's train is travelling at 92 kilometres an hour, how happy is Sarah that she banks with Tangerine?" It's a scenario meant to showcase the simplicity of depositing a cheque by taking a picture of it with the bank's mobile application.

This kind of word problem with a simple answer will be a running theme in Tangerine's new ads in the coming months.

"Tangerine is the simple answer to what seems to be a complicated scenario," Chris Hirsch, creative director at the bank's ad agency, John St., said.

"People don't really like to think about their finances that much. It's intimidating. It's a bit of wading through the murk," John St. partner and executive creative director Angus Tucker said. "With the simplicity of this campaign ... hopefully we can get them to think about it for five seconds."

That theme will continue in billboards and online ads that pose banking decisions as A/B choice questions.

John St. will also film "contextual ads" to play before online videos. It will shoot at least 20 spots that touch on various subjects commonly searched online - everything from home improvements, to car shopping, and yes, even cats. It will then serve up ads based on what viewers have been looking at, with a wink at the financial impact of pet ownership, for example. It's a way to talk about the brand with ads that have a more relevant starting point for viewers.

Tangerine's new branding will point to its ING Direct heritage in other ways. The unnamed spokesman carries an orange mug wherever he goes (even, as in the new commercial, when hanging off the side of a train going 90 kilometres per hour). The mug's colour is important, and coffee is meant to symbolize energy, conversation and approachability. Finally, the logo design includes a modified arrow icon, a nod to the orange arrow in the old ING Direct logo. The "forward banking" slogan will stay.

Tangerine is not the only smaller bank emphasizing simplicity. Last month, PC Financial - a joint venture between the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and Loblaw Cos. Ltd. - launched a new campaign urging Canadians to "debankify." It emphasizes the same elements that Tangerine does: making banking uncomplicated, and eliminating fees.

"Our whole banking offering is a simplification message," president Barry Columb said.

In general, Canadian banking customers dislike change. Bank marketers are constantly battling inertia: It is hard to convince consumers to switch financial institutions. By the same token, changes in existing services are unwelcome. Tangerine's current bump in advertising spending will have to reassure current customers, while also using the fresh image to convince prospective customers to consider a change.

"We saw it as an opportunity to step back and look at what the brand had become over 16 years," Mr. Zimakas said. "We're trying to root this in where we've been, back to the starting point and the DNA of the brand not changing."

Self-doubt? You're probably a woman
Men talk big, even when they can't deliver - but maybe they're on to something
Saturday, April 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F2

Here's a confession. I have lived most of my adult life riddled with self-doubt. Sometimes, I felt barely adequate. My inner critic never shut up. Fortunately, I was able to fool an amazing number of people into thinking that I'm basically competent - including my friends, my husband and the people who've employed me for the past 40 years. Let's hope they never find out the truth.

The other day, I asked my husband if he'd ever felt like this. He looked at me, blankly. "No," he said.

It seems that lack of confidence is overwhelmingly a female thing. It has nothing to do with actual ability or achievement. It is common even among women who present themselves as supremely self-assured. A surprising number of successful, high-achieving women struggle with self-doubt. Over a third glass of wine, they might even admit to it. When you ask them how they got so far, they seldom say, "I was really smart and worked like a dog." Instead, they say, "I got lucky."

The confidence gap between the sexes is one of today's hottest topics. Here's leadership expert Erica Anderson in this week's Forbes: "Women, I have come to believe after having thousands of conversations on this topic over the past 30 years, tend to be much more self-critical than men - and that really gets in their way when it comes to accomplishing all they're capable of doing at work."

You could, of course, look at it another way. The problem is really male overconfidence, which gives men a natural advantage. Men talk big, even when they can't deliver. At one stage of my career, I spent a lot of time in meetings where men proposed audacious business schemes that were also terrible. "That's not going to work." I was dying to say. But I did not want to be seen as a non-team-player, so I shut up. These schemes crashed and burned, but the perpetrators typically skipped happily along to the next big thing.

According to the authors of a new book, The Confidence Code, featured in the new issue of The Atlantic, this gap isn't just a nuisance. It's a "particular crisis for women." They argue that it helps explain everything from why women don't ask for raises as often as men (and when they do, they ask for less) to why the glass ceiling still seems so rock-solid.

In other words, they suggest that systemic discrimination is less important than we thought. The real problem is that women routinely underestimate their own abilities (while men routinely overestimate theirs). Many male managers privately complain that their best female subordinates simply don't assert themselves enough. And substantial research shows that women won't go after new assignments or promotions if they think there's even a small chance they'll fail. Men are much more tolerant of risk, and far more likely to think they'll succeed.

Inconveniently, competence and confidence do not go hand in hand. One of my favourite examples is the calculus exam. Men say, "Hey, I'm going to ace it!" Women of the same ability are sure they're going to bomb. Other, equally smart women aren't in the room to begin with because they think calculus is too hard.

We have other strikes against us. Women tend to be perfectionists, which makes it a lot harder to feel good about ourselves. We tend to brood on our mistakes. Please don't ask me about my experiences in graduate school. I studied great literature with great scholars like Northrop Frye, and one of my professors even told me I could have a future in the academic world. In some ways, it was the best year of my life. But that's not what I typically remember. What I remember is the time I mispronounced the word "misogyny" in Robertson Davies's graduate seminar. To this day, the memory floods me with shame.

Women also suffer from worry-wartism. It seems to be congenital. If we don't have something serious to worry about, we'll make stuff up. My own totally unscientific theory is that we have a worry gene that's connected to our primal need to protect our children from marauding tigers and poison plants. If those aren't available, our worry gene attaches itself to something else.

So where does all this stuff come from? A generation ago, the confidence gap was generally attributed to the different ways that boys and girls were socialized. Girls achieved less because they were raised to be more timid, to have lower expectations, to let boys take the lead. If only we encouraged girls to play with fire trucks, and got teachers to call on them more in class, their confidence would soar.

Fast-forward 30 years and much has changed. Girls are out-achieving boys in school. They're better at following the rules and meeting expectations. But then they hit the working world and the guys wind up on top. Why?

Today, brain science and evolutionary psychology have pretty well demolished the blank-slate theory of gender differences. We now know that male and female brains are subtly different, and that these differences (along with hormones) have powerful influences on personality and behaviour, in ways I've described here.

Is all lost, then? Maybe not. As the authors of The Confidence Code point out, our brains are malleable. With training and persistence, we can alter our emotions and behaviour.

There's more good news, too: It gets better. A few years ago, my inner critic went away. I have no idea why, but it probably has to do with age. I have a much better opinion of myself now, and I'm fairly confident that the critic won't be coming back. What a relief.

Peaches Geldof and the perils of affluenza
Friday, April 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L4

On the face of it, Peaches Honeyblossom Geldof had it all: beauty, youth, fame, talent and wealth. And yet, from the moment she was thrust into the public eye (in this case at birth - celebrity parents and a name like Peaches will do that to you), she was almost the opposite of enviable. Tragedy seemed to shadow her every move.

Earlier this week, when the 25-year-old socialite's death was announced, suicide and overdose were the immediate assumptions on social media; the initial autopsy into the causes behind her "sudden and unexplained death" was inconclusive, according to the coroner. No drugs or suicide note were found on the scene.

Her father, the musician and activist Bob Geldof, is no stranger to tragedy - his ex-wife and mother of his children, Paula Yates, died of a heroin overdose nearly 14 years ago, after leaving him for INXS singer Michael Hutchence. Hutchence also died, in 1997 allegedly of auto-erotic asphyxiation. After that, Geldof raised that couple's orphaned daughter, Tiger Lily, as his own. This week, he released a heartbreaking statement, saying his family was "beyond pain," and paying tribute to his second-born daughter as "the wildest, funniest, cleverest, wittiest and the most bonkers of us all." Her husband, Thomas Cohen, lead singer for the band S.C.U.M., and their young two sons, Astala Dylan Willow and Phaedra Bloom Forever, will, according to Geldof, "always be in our family."

There is no point in speculating on what might have caused Peaches Geldof's untimely death (police say it could be weeks before toxicology test results are released). But the surrounding mystery does little to diminish the feeling that, somehow, despite her many advantages, here was a young woman upon whom the world bestowed lots of everything she didn't need and tragically little of what she did.

Like so many children born into wealth, Peaches struggled to make sense of her life. In an interview for Elle last year, she described her childhood as "traumatic," a series of years "of feeling lost at sea, rudderless and troubled." There is good reason for this. Her mother left her father when Peaches was just six; her last tweet before her death was an Instagram photo of herself as a toddler with her mother with the caption "Me and my Mum."

Her parents' public split was difficult for Peaches and her sisters. Their childhood, according to Peaches, went from idyllic (their mother cared for them at home in the Kent countryside while writing parenting books) to chaotic. Peaches recalled her father's insistence that the girls attend school the day after their mother's death: "So we all went to school and tried to act as if nothing had happened. But it had happened. I didn't grieve. I didn't cry at her funeral. I couldn't express anything because I was just numb to it all. I didn't start grieving for my mother properly until I was maybe 16."

Given this bumpy start, the adolescent drama that followed is perhaps not surprising. As rich-kid tabloid fodder went, no one dished it like Peaches. She was Britain's Paris Hilton, with a sharp tongue and a tragic story. Drug convictions, overdose, rehab, Vegas wedding and divorce, lingerie-modelling contracts terminated over party-girl antics. There was little she didn't manage to do before finding love (with Cohen) and becoming a mother.

While Geldof did find fulfilment through her babies, the way she spoke of them sounded at times like a very young woman seeking to fill a void. Having children, she has said, was a way "to correct the multiple mistakes of my own traumatic childhood." In her final column for Mother & Baby magazine, published days after her death, she wrote: "I wanted an anchor - I craved it. And when I had two wailing, smiling, joyful little blobs of waddling pink flesh, they became my entire existence and saved me from one of pure apathy." Now, of course, those children will grow up without a mother - just as their own mother did before them.

A comprehensive 2011 Boston College study funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation found that people who are brought up with great wealth (categorized as fortunes of $25-million or more) are generally dissatisfied with life and are prone to depression, with deep anxieties about love, work and family.

So what is it that so often makes the children of privilege so sad?

In The Golden Ghetto: The Psychology of Affluence, Jessie H. O'Neill writes how money transferred to heirs without strong values often culminates in "affluenza" - a social condition that diminishes an heir's ability to cultivate a sense of self-worth and forge an identity apart from the family. More dangerous still is the vacuum created by wealth (and, in some cases, fame). Inheritors, O'Neill writes, often show "an inability to delay gratification, unwillingness to tolerate frustration, feelings of failure, and a false sense of entitlement."

Salvatore LaSpada, former director of the Institute for Philanthropy, which helps high-net-worth families set up charitable foundations, told me that one challenge for the super-rich is how inward-looking their family lives can be. "Some very wealthy families are almost like companies, it's like Family Inc.," he said. "It's very easy to skip the part in raising children that asks them, 'What are you passionate about? What are your values?' "

In the case of Peaches Geldof, she seemed to have found a way through her case of affluenza and into a better, healthier place. As her family mourns yet another untimely death, it's hard not to marvel at how riches and notoriety so often culminate in terrible sadness and tragedy. But as Bob Geldof insisted in his statement, he and his surviving children are determined to carry on. "Our family," he writes, is, "fractured often, never broken."

Memories of a street girl
At age 14, I knew the chill of a cement sidewalk and found warmth in strangers' beds. But it was a safer time and perhaps I got lucky
Friday, April 18, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L8

She was there the day I took the bus up Granville Street from the SeaBus Terminal. It was twilight, the time when everything looks silvery, as if the world is suspended in mercury.

The anxiety and bustle of the bright-light hours were subdued, but you could feel the energy of a Friday night building just below the surface. I watched the storefronts pass by in a parade of shining silver and gold, the jail-fronted jewellery shops and the glinting windows of high-end clothing boutiques.

At Robson Street there was a gradual transition to nightclubs, all-night shawarma joints and tattoo parlours with signs announcing We Pierce Anything. Just before a porn shop advertising 25-cent peep shows, the bus stopped and I saw her.

The girl was young, barely a teen. She was sitting on the concrete sidewalk, her back propped against the door of an out-of-business movie theatre, and she was sharing a stained and damp-looking light-green blanket with another girl. As I watched, she shivered and tucked the blanket under her chin. The frayed edges blended with blondish, lank hair that half-covered a pale, moon-shaped face. Her sharp knees were pulled close to her chest and jutted through the thin material.

Our eyes met briefly, but I quickly turned away. I didn't like her to see me watching.

Because I remember that cement. The cold creeps through your jeans and chills your bum until the bones are numb and you can't feel anything. But that's okay. Not feeling anything. Then you can sit for longer.

I remember that I didn't have a blanket, so I held off the cold by loudly singing Janis Joplin songs, hoping for a handout. "Oh Lord, wontcha buy me a Mercedes Benz, my friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends."

No one left any change then, either. They walked by, the same as now, and furrowed their brows. "Damn kids," they muttered. "Why sit on the ground and nearly freeze to death rather than find a warm place to sleep? Why do they look at me, defiant and angry, when I haven't done anything to them? Why don't they go home?"

One particularly bad night, a social worker scooped me up and took me to a transient foster home until they could figure out who I was.

Another street girl who lived there full-time always locked her bedroom door, day and night. Once when she was out I watched another girl jimmy the lock to use her nail polish. When the street girl found out, she came at both of us like a feral cat, eyes blazing.

"C'mon," I laughed, "it's only nail polish."

It turned out she had been sexually abused regularly by her father and brothers. Her eyes held a desperation I couldn't understand.

You see, I was lucky. I had only run away from a small-town home full of illness and the impending death of my father, propelled by an indefinable anguish and an excess of teen hormones.

When I arrived in Vancouver, I would hitchhike back and forth across the city until one of the men who picked me up gave me a place to stay for a night or two. Most of them were nice, and they usually fed me and gave me booze if I agreed to sleep with them.

I didn't mind at first; it was comforting to be close to someone sometimes. Besides, I felt that I was the one in control, not them. I was lucky because they didn't give me any drugs worse than pot or booze, and none of them turned out to be violent or pimps.

At times I'd get tired of being a good girl, and I'd lash out by telling them my real age - a month shy of 15 - just to see the panic in their eyes and the words "statutory rape" flash across their faces.

I'm still not sure how I got out. Maybe it was that social worker, who refused to take my "no" for an answer; or my sister, who tracked me down at the foster home; or my parents, who despite their own desperate worries welcomed back an angry daughter. And maybe I was just lucky.

But then that was the early 1970s, before the Highway of Tears, Robert Pickton's pig farm and the Missing Women inquiry. I don't think street kids and runaways catch as many breaks now. They don't meet men who seem to care that they're still children. They don't avoid crack or meth or heroin. And, like the girl with the locked bedroom, most of them really have no place to go.

My luck held over the years, bolstered by others who believed in me: generous people at a spiritual centre in Kamloops who smoothed my prickly teenage exterior with a summer of fresh air and farm work; patient instructors at Vancouver Community College's adult education program who nurtured my talents so I could get my high school diploma; and a steadfastly loyal partner who helped me attain a university degree and cares, always, about who I am right now, not who I was then.

When the bus pulled away from the curb, my reflection in the dark window gazed back at me.

I looked for the girl with the blanket and, as her image grew smaller, a thread came loose in my chest. I felt myself unravel slowly, and soon my bum was numb and I was back on the street, sitting on cold cement.

Something brushed my cheek, and as I pushed back my blondish hair I wondered if that girl would make it. I vowed to give her some change next time. It's all right, you know, maybe then she'll be lucky.

Christy Costello lives in Vancouver.

Bright future
New glow-in-the-dark products that promote safety without sacrificing style show this trend isn't just a nineties throwback
Thursday, April 17, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L4

Look at the new bike by San Francisco's Mission Bicycle Company in the daytime, and it might not warrant so much as a second glance. You have to wait until the sun goes down to see the light.

Thanks to a special retro-reflective coating, the Lumen, as it is called, reflects light in such a way that it appears to glow white. If a light cycle from Tron morphed in to a commuter bike, this is what it would look like. So, not only is it impossibly cool looking, you can't miss it on the road.

"You don't have to sacrifice pleasure and style for safety," says Kai McMurtry, marketing specialist for Mission Bicycle.

The first-of-its-kind bike is one of many products boasting new technology that delivers glow-in-the-dark-like properties: Think plants spliced with genetic materials from jellyfish, smart highways that light up with weather alerts, and biologically friendly paint to cover trees with. Designers, manufacturers and infrastructure companies around the world are utilizing the new technologies, prompted by both the promise of promoting safety without sacrificing style and, in some cases, energy efficiency. And, of course, there is the cool factor of a look that is both retro and futuristic.

"There definitely is a nostalgia [factor]," to glow-in-the-dark products, says Miles Keller, who teaches a course on emerging technologies in industrial design at OCAD University, in Toronto.

See, for instance, the new footwear collection by Palladium and Atmos that feature glow-in-the-dark accents, including glowing green soles and toe caps. "It's always fun to have the opportunity to show off and have something cool that not everyone has," says Hommy Diaz, Palladium Boots' global product line manager. "It's a conversation piece."

And the nostalgia factor certainly explains the most talked-about item to hit shelves on Record Store Day this Saturday: a 10-inch vinyl record of Ray Parker Jr.'s song, Ghostbusters. But while Egon would approve, today's designers are moving far beyond the traditional phosphorescent green, slightly bluish glow that lit up so many 1980s toys and nineties raves.

That light - think of the green stars glued to a child's bedroom ceiling - contains phosphors, a substance that radiates light once it has been energized. The highways of the future may be painted with something much more advanced - in fact, a small stretch of road in the Netherlands already is. A 500-metre length of highway features glow-in-the-dark road markings thanks to a specially designed paint that is mixed with photo-luminescent powder that was developed in partnership with Heijmans, an infrastructure company.

"It looks like a fairy tale," according to one Netherlands news report.

The smart highway, as it's called, was designed by renowned Dutch architect and designer Daan Roosegaarde in 2012. His full vision of the highway features weather markings that will light up to alert drivers to conditions on the road, including giant glowing snowflakes that warn you of potentially slippery roads ahead.

Several European governments have turned off street lights on large swathes of roads and highways to cut costs, making the smart highway one potential solution, Roosegaarde says. "It's about safety," he says. "It's about sustainability."

The same is true of Roosegaarde's most daring glow-in-the-dark project, one that he hopes could replace street lights with glowing trees.

"We're working on a sort of biological paint that we can use to apply to living trees, which does not harm them. It charges in the daytime and makes them glow at night," he says.

Roosegaarde is not the only one trying to make the glowing plant life from Avatar a reality. Bioglow, a St. Louis, Mo.-based company founded by molecular biologist Alexander Krichevsky, has already created what it says are the world's first light-producing plants, made from mixing a plant's genetic material with luciferin, the chemical that makes jellyfish glow. Such plants could one day offer "more sustainable, cleaner and affordable light sources," says the company's website.

There are hurdles to jump before these types of products become mainstream. Municipalities will no doubt have reservations about replacing street lights with glowing trees. And smart highways may face cost barriers for governments to create on a large scale. But companies are being drawn to the bright potential of this new technology like moths to a flame.

Ryan Downey, one of the founders of Halo Coatings, the Indianapolis, Ind.-based company that developed the retro-reflective coating technology used on the Lumen, says the market has been steadily growing since the company was founded in 2008.

Three years ago, it developed the technology to bond the retro-reflective coating to a wide array of composite material and rubber, not just metal.

As a result, the number of potential products that can incorporate the technology has now jumped exponentially.

"We're working with the largest helmet manufacturer, the largest shoe manufacturer, the largest tire manufacturer," Downey says. (He cannot identify these companies because of non-disclosure agreements. But several new products featuring the coating are set for release this holiday season, he says.)

While the promise of enhanced safety is surely a draw, McMurtry says the fact that the coating is so visually striking, especially on an entire bike, explains much of the Lumen's appeal.

"People want that uniqueness," he says. A frame and fork set costs $499 (U.S.), with three versions of fully assembled bikes range from $1,245 to $2,500.

And no, the coating is not meant to replace the usual lights typically found on a bike, McMurtry says. "As beautiful as that retro-reflection is, it is not nearly as reflective as having front and rear lights," he says. But, he adds, "You can never run out of batteries."

Little house in the great northwest
Friday, April 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


British Columbia has stood in for all kinds of places on film and TV. Up next: Langley stands in for Coal Valley, in the "great northwest." When Calls the Heart, which premieres in Canada next week, was inspired by Alberta writer Janette Oke's bestselling novels.

In the TV series, set in 1910, a young upper-crust teacher (Erin Krakow) receives her first classroom assignment in a small coal-mining town at a difficult time. An explosion has just killed a group of miners, and now their widows, including Abigail Stanton (Lori Loughlin), have to go to work in the mines to keep a roof over their heads. There's also a new, handsome, Mountie (Daniel Lissing) in town.

The series, which has been a ratings winner on the Hallmark Channel in the U.S., is shot on a bustling frontier-town set in Langley. Michael Landon Jr. is one of the show's executive producers and directors. He is the son of the late Michael Landon, probably best known for Little House on the Prairie.

What was it about this story that made you want to be involved with the project?

I had quite a bit of success with Janette Oke and her other bestselling series of novels called Love Comes Softly and when that movie aired for the Hallmark Channel it became the highest-rated movie on the channel by 40 per cent. Then when I did the sequel for them, it became the highest rated movie in the history of the channel. So the genre was resonating with their audience. And I loved the milieu. I grew up on Little House on the Prairie, my favourite of my father's work, and it has a very special place in my heart. So being able to do the kind of programming that I grew up on that basically has become extinct in the film and television world was exciting for me. So with that much success, I then pursued Janette Oke's second best-selling series of books, which is When Calls the Heart.

Little House is familiar territory for you, but I imagine there would be a temptation on the part of a son to distance himself from their father's work, especially when you have the same name.

Very true. I've been in this business for a long time. And working your way out of your father's shadow is definitely a challenge. My brother [Christopher Landon] is in the film business and he went a completely different direction; he [recently released] a feature, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, so he's in the thriller/horror genre.

How much time did you spend on the set of Little House?

Quite a bit. When we had school breaks and they were filming, my sister and I would always go to the set and we were very close with Melissa Gilbert and Melissa Sue Anderson and all the kids. It was a 100-acre backyard in Simi Valley where we would play tag, hide and seek, and hunt for snakes. My father was a prankster. So there might be a guest who would show up to the set and [my father] would put a small frog or something in his mouth and then he would go shake their hand and open his mouth and freak them out.

It's an amazing set that you've built in Langley. How have you found shooting up here in Canada?

It has its challenges, just from a weather standpoint, but we've got a fantastic crew. They're dedicated, they're hard-working, there's absolutely no complaining. And there's some fantastic talent in the acting pool here.

It's a very Canadian story. Did you have to school yourself in the history of Canada and the Mounties?

Well honestly, Hallmark didn't want to hang a lantern on that so it would feel a bit more universal to our audience in the States, but there's been quite a bit of research in terms of the time period and in terms of understanding the history of the Mounties and coal mining.

What sort of relationship have you had with the RCMP? I know you had to get permission in order to be able to use the uniform.

Yeah, that was very challenging actually and I'm very grateful that we came to terms on being able to represent them properly. We had to obviously assure them that we had every intention of portraying them in a proper light.

What do you mean by portraying them in a proper light?

There's a certain honour and nobility that comes with that uniform. This storytelling isn't always about the grittiness and the ugliness of life. There are definitely challenges within the characters themselves, but we also want to look at the positive side of humanity. Why not do that with the Mounties? I mean, these are honourable men putting their lives on the line. Obviously, they're human beings and they're not perfect, but we want to show the good part of them.

How are you feeling about the prospects for this series?

This kind of family entertainment is non-existent so I feel like we're tapping into a large audience that's yearning for this type of programming. That was one of the special things for me growing up and I think that's why I loved Little House. It wasn't just the series itself. It was the idea that as a family we were all going to sit together and we were going to have some laughs and shed some tears and be uplifted at the end of the day, and not brought down.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

When Calls the Heart airs on Super Channel beginning April 16.

Shanahan a logical fit for Toronto
Friday, April 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S2

He left the league's hockey operations department to join an NHL team because, after a long and storied career that featured both a Stanley Cup championship and international hockey success, he wanted to go back to a job where wins and losses mattered.

Brendan Shanahan? Yes, soon, after Shanahan officially joins the Toronto Maple Leafs in a senior front office position, perhaps as early as next week.

But the same career trajectory also applies to Rob Blake, who joined the Los Angeles Kings as an assistant general manager last summer after spending three seasons working with Shanahan in the NHL's player safety department.

Working as the NHL's disciplinary chief is an inherently difficult job, made all the more complicated by the fact that the league is trying to shift some long-standing attitudes about what constitutes a legal hit in an era of increased concussion awareness.

The demands of the job can lead to burnout - people who hold that position too long often age right before your very eyes - and they don't want to be in it forever. Nor does it get their competitive juices flowing the way working for a team does. When Shanahan joined the league in December, 2009, as the vice-president of hockey and business development and then shifted over 18 months later to head the newly created player safety department, he knew it wasn't going to be forever - and that it would ultimately serve as a vast learning experience for whatever happened to come next, a trial by fire that you couldn't get in any business school.

One of Shanahan's predecessors in the NHL's hockey operations department, Brian Burke, also used the position as a springboard to a general manager's post.

Presumably, when Shanahan eventually explains his motives for making the switch, he will echo comments made by Blake in an interview last week, in which he said the primary reason for leaving the league to join the Kings was so he could ditch his studied neutrality and start caring about wins and losses again.

According to Blake, when you work for a team, "the wins and losses matter so much more, the losses more than the wins actually. The feeling of losing three in a row and walking into the dressing room or going in the office the next day and trying to figure out what to do next is a challenge. You don't have that on the NHL side.

"But I'm glad I worked at the NHL first, because now, when I watch us play and I see a call go one way or the other and I hear our management chirping, I know the league is not trying to screw the West Coast teams or the Los Angeles Kings. I've seen it first-hand.

"I know how passionate you can get towards the league when you're on a team. So I'm glad I did it the other way, so I can be a little calmer about things. At least, I can this year. I'll give it a couple more years and see if I still feel the same way."

Shanahan had received overtures to leave the league job in the past, most notably an invitation from the Calgary Flames last summer to discuss the job that Burke eventually took, president of hockey operations. It wasn't the right fit for him then, not on a personal level or a professional level. Toronto is different. Even though he never actually played for the Leafs, Shanahan grew up in Mimico, Ont., and has a lot of family and friends in the area.

Once the Leafs' interest in Shanahan became clear, the fit seemed so logical that the only real question was going to revolve around the timing.

Would it be immediately, which in the Leafs' case, means Monday, when the players clear out their lockers and rehash for a final time the disappointing ending of the 2014-15 season? Or some time after the NHL playoffs ended, so that Shanahan could finish out the season administering discipline?

But once negotiations started, it would have been difficult to put the genie back in the bottle. Transparency and neutrality are essential in administering supplementary discipline. Even though the Leafs didn't make the playoffs, the primary responsibility for monitoring on-ice conduct will have to shift elsewhere, either to Mike Murphy or Brian Leetch, who has starred in a few Shanahan videos earlier this season, suggesting a succession plan was already shaping up.

This tendency and temptation for teams to hire generational stars to work in a team's front office has intensified in recent days, with Trevor Linden joining the Vancouver Canucks earlier this week as president of hockey operations.

Shanahan is a consensus builder, the same as Linden. When Linden was head of the players association during the 2004-05 lockout, Shanahan proposed a joint league-player summit that would address some of the on-ice issues that were undermining the game. The net result was a faster, better product. Linden, Shanahan, Blake, Joe Sakic of Colorado - all are smart enough to know what they know and what they don't know, which is the key for any talented, but inexperienced. executive coming in to run a new company.

Competency eventually will trump all, and determine who succeeds and who doesn't. But in a position many believe is impossible to do - and ultimately satisfies no one - Shanahan did a credible job.

Apart from the chance to perhaps run one of the New York-area teams, so he could stay put, there would be few hockey jobs more appealing to Shanahan than Toronto. Commissioner Gary Bettman was his biggest fan. He would not stand in the way of that opportunity.

Habs tighten noose on Bolts
Bourque's goal 11 seconds into the game, Montreal's overall play has fans at Bell Centre dreaming of how far the team can go
Monday, April 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S2

MONTREAL -- It's taken the better part of two decades, but maybe the Montreal Forum's vaunted ghosts have finally found the new place.

In any case, the Tampa Bay Lightning may be cursing supernatural apparitions - in the way that dozens of teams before them did in the Forum, which closed in 1996 - for the disallowed second-period goal that cost them a 2-1 lead on Sunday.

Particularly since they find themselves in an unenviable 3-0 series deficit and could be swept out of the playoffs as early as Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, Lightning coach Jon Cooper deadpanned that "I'm sure [the Canadiens] have never had a 2-0 lead on the road and come back and blown it."


But the Bolts aren't exactly the 2011 Boston Bruins (who turned the trick and also defeated Tampa en route to the Stanley Cup).

In fact, the way the Habs have played to this point in the series, their fans will surely start wondering just how far they might go.

The Lightning were convinced they had scored the go-ahead goal at 15 minutes 38 seconds of the second period, when Ryan Callahan's shot caromed off a sliding Carey Price and into the net.

But referee Francis Charron immediately waved the goal off - it was judged that Tampa forward Alex Killorn, who had barrelled into the Montreal net moments earlier, had interfered with Price.

The decision was loudly endorsed by 21,273 at the Bell Centre, who were jacked up by a swishy pregame ceremony and an early Montreal goal.

Replays showed Price initiating contact with Killorn as he tried to leave the crease, but that's still goalie interference according to the NHL rulebook.

Rule 69.3 states that "If a goalkeeper, in the act of establishing his position within his goal crease, initiates contact with an attacking player who is in the goal crease, and this results in an impairment of the goalkeeper's ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed."

Retired NHL referee Kerry Fraser tweeted that "Price knows this rule and works it to his advantage better than any goalie in the league."

You'd think Cooper, who used to practise law, would have more of a propensity to exploit the fine print than Price, his fellow Northern B.C. product.

Cooper was plainly furious at the referee's decision, treating the officials to a lengthy monologue as he left the ice for the intermission.

He also made a face - let's call it one of extreme bemusement - in the final minute of the second as Price discovered an equipment problem moments after the Habs iced the puck.

In the event, the Habs were the ones who took the lead at 18:10 after some eye-popping work from defenceman P.K. Subban, who went on a 50-cent tour of the Tampa offensive zone with the puck on his stick.

Dangling clockwise, he skated up to the blueline, then chugged toward the net, outdistancing Ondrej Palat, who managed to pitchfork himself with his own stick as he chased Subban behind the net.

Then Subban came out the other side, slammed on the brakes, whirled a bullet pass to an open Brendan Gallagher, who had time to settle the puck and pick his spot.

In the third period, Gallagher was involved in the play again - parked in front of the net, in fact - as Tomas Plekanec scored Montreal's third goal on a perfect slapshot.

Tampa narrowed the gap to 3-2 midway through the third, but despite a last-gasp flurry in the dying moments could do no better than a Steven Stamkos shot that whistled just wide (Stamkos having returned at the beginning of the third after being accidentally kneed in the head in the second by Montreal's Alexei Emelin.)

Setting team records with a club as old at the Montreal Canadiens is usually a function of said record's obscurity.

So Rene Bourque's goal 11 seconds into Sunday's game, before the crowd had even had time settle down after Quebec singer Ginette Reno's rousing O Canada, isn't a team mark for the playoffs - Bob Gainey once scored with seven seconds elapsed.

But it staked the Habs to a start even a congenital optimist wouldn't dare hope for.

Tampa's Valtteri Filppula drew the opening faceoff back, the puck was sent toward the Montreal end, and Subban swooped across to cut it off and lobbed a diagonal pass high into the air.

Bourque read it, and screamed up the ice, rounding Tampa's defence and tucking a shot in off Lindback's arm.

Bedlam doesn't begin to describe the racket in the Bell Centre when the puck wormed its way through the big Swedish goalie.

As they like to say in hockey circles, it's a shot he'd like to have back, but happily the Canadiens provided a bushel of subsequent scoring chances so he could show his mettle.

He closed down Montreal's Max Pacioretty one back-to-back chances as he stood alone in the slot, the 39-goal man has yet to score in this series.

And of course another of them fell to Bourque, the oft-maligned forward who contributed only nine regular season goals.

The 32-year-old native of Lac La Biche, Alta., also made a gorgeous backcheck to deny Callahan a goal in the first period - and also mixed it up with Callahan after checked Stamkos in the first period.

It should be pointed out that Bourque now has five goals in eight playoff games as a Montreal Canadien, which should quiet the grumbling from those who pine for the postseason exploits of Michael Cammalleri, the man he was traded for.

Breaking the education habit
Some see school as a safe harbour. I prefer scarfing chocolates in a blanket fort watching The NeverEnding Story
Thursday, April 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L8

Like most children, I used to dream about being 32 and stuck in a low-paying customer service job with no hope for advancement.

No, wait, I used to dream about being a cyborg bounty hunter. That's what it was. Anyway, that first thing happened instead.

Now, like 99.9 per cent of adults, I'm thinking about pulling a screeching U-turn with my life and going back to school.

People think that university is like the Time-Turner from Harry Potter: It magically lets you turn back the clock, erase your mistakes and try again. But university can also be like Quidditch: a huge waste of time that doesn't make any sense when you stop to think about it.

There is one good reason to give school another shot, and a lot of bad ones. Here are three of the worst:

1. Everyone else is doing it.

This wasn't a good enough reason to do the Harlem Shake, and it's certainly not a good enough reason to study anthropology.

Thirteen years ago, I worked in a fast food restaurant with a bunch of people who hated working in a fast food restaurant. We thought the job was a prison, and each of us believed education was the dessert spoon with which we would tunnel out. I was in university but had switched my major from psychology to sociology to history, which is to say from useless to pointless to aimless.

Everyone around me was doing the same thing. We'd complain about our dead-end jobs, then pin our hopes on the vague promise of getting a degree. There was one guy in the restaurant who wasn't in school. One day he said: "I think I want to be a pilot." He quit the job, enrolled in flight school, got his licence and started flying planes. As far as I know, he spent the rest of his life walking majestically away from an F-15 Eagle at sunset, helmet under his arm, while the Top Gun theme song played.

This guy escaped his job as quickly and easily as the Road Runner escapes Wile E.Coyote. The rest of us were left standing there, mouths open, saying: "How did he do that?" It's taken a long time, but I finally get it. He went to school because he wanted to be a pilot. The rest of us were in school because we didn't want to work in fast food.

2. You want to look like you're moving upward.

Here's a question: If you could buy the respect of every person you know or will ever meet, how much would you pay? Now, take that number, multiply it by 20 and you'll have something closer to the real number. The admiration of others is way more important than most of us would like to admit.

Unless you've moved to a hidden monastery in the mountains of Nepal, you probably run into people you used to know sometimes. And when you do, the awkward chat usually goes like this:

"So, what are you up to?" (What job do you have?)

"Oh, just working." (The fact that I won't tell you what my job is implies that it's unskilled, low-paying and I hate it.)

"Oh. Cool." (I'm sorry to hear that you are mired in a bog of your own failure.)

Now, watch what happens when we add school to the equation.

"So, what are you up to?" (What job do you have?)

"Actually, I'm finishing my degree." (I'm staking thousands of dollars and years of my life on a Hail Mary pass to respectability.)

"Nice!" (Jeepers, I'd better leave before I get permanently blinded from the dazzling success of this superstar.)

3. You like going to school more than you like going to work.

You know what I like more than going to work? Mixing a bunch of M&M's with Reese's Pieces in a bowl then eating them in a blanket fort while watching The NeverEnding Story. But you can't do that for four years and expect your life to get better.

I'm part of the "millennial" generation, and we love going to school. If we get a flat tire, our first response is to take out a student loan to get a masters degree in Flat Tire Theory.

It's easy to get addicted to education. From the age you stop peeing your pants to the age you get tired of binge drinking, school is the solid ground. It has a feel and a rhythm. You get clear goals from a clear authority. Your achievement is expressed with a number, and you can compare other people's numbers to know who's winning.

Have you seen those trained seals that can balance on one flipper and push a ball through a hoop? Imagine if you took one of those and said: "All right, Cinnamon, you've completed all the tricks we've taught you. It's time for you to leave the aquarium and live in the ocean. It's way colder, there are lots of sharks, and all the skills we've been rewarding you for are now completely useless. Good luck!" That seal might just be applying for a post-graduate program.

I said at the beginning that there's one good reason to go to school, and here it is: You want to do something that needs specific skills. That's it. Anything else is a hobby. And going to university while you decide what you want to do is like skipping your skydiving lesson because you want to figure out the parachute during free fall.

Dave Jorgensen lives in Victoria.


At the Temple, in the black
Saturday, April 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R5

Success has a colour, and it is a distinctive orange. That's the hue that lights up one corner of the downtown brick-and-beam office of David Fortier and Ivan Schneeberg, co-presidents of the TV studio Temple Street Productions. It comes from more bottles of Veuve Clicquot than two people can drink in one sitting.

"We usually take that stuff home," says Fortier. "But the packaging is so nice - and my wife doesn't like Champagne. His wife likes it a lot." Schneeberg nods and chuckles: "I can't bring that home!"

The bubbly has been coming through the doors a lot lately, now that Temple Street has one of the hottest Canadian-born shows in the world. Two weeks ago, Orphan Black, its thrilling sci-fi series that airs in the United States on BBC America, was included among the winners of this year's prestigious Peabody Awards. During the show's first-season run last year on Space in Canada, it was the channel's highest-rated original series ever, pulling in an average 328,000 viewers. Last month, around the same time the show snagged 10 Canadian Screen Awards, Entertainment Weekly featured star Tatiana Maslany on the cover of an issue about "criminally underrated shows." Nodding at this Saturday's second-season premiere, the cover teased readers: "If you've seen it, you're hooked. If you haven't, get ready to be obsessed."

Meanwhile, Temple Street's The Next Step, a faux-reality drama set in the world of teen competitive dance, is the highest-rated show on the Family Channel. When its cast visits malls, they are greeted by screaming, sobbing mobs of tweens. (Ear-splitting proof can be found on YouTube.) Next month, a full line of Next Step merchandise (backpacks, lunch boxes, etc.) will roll out in Wal-Mart stores across the country, in what Fortier and Schneeberg say is the first such partnership with a Canadian TV show.

Temple Street has tasted success before - its CV includes CBC's Being Erica, as well as Family Channel's Wingin' It and CITY-TV's Canada's Next Top Model - but this time feels different.

"This is a volatile business, right?" says Schneeberg. "We've had five or six shows in production, then gone down to one show. We've made big-budget dramas and then we've made little half-hour shows. The last 18 months, we've worked really hard to build stability into the business by having a diverse slate, making lots of different content." Last summer, Temple Street opened an office in Los Angeles to make factual shows. It is also expanding its digital productions.

"When you're volatile, it's hard to hold onto a philosophical view," continues Schneeberg. "You know what you want to be, but you gotta keep the lights on, and you gotta keep people employed, and you gotta pay your own mortgage. With a little stability and success, we can hold much closer to our own personal philosophies - which are really creative integrity, and integrity."

Fortier, now 42, and Schneeberg, 43, met while working as entertainment lawyers at the Toronto office of Goodmans LLP for clients that included Temple Street, a production company then involved in Showtime's Queer As Folk. In 2003, after spending many afterwork hours dreaming up projects of their own over drinks (Strange Brew 2, anyone?), they bought Temple Street and began developing shows. Showcase's law-office comedy Billable Hours was an early hit.

Back then, the partners say, Canadian TV had a reputation for being both cheap and cheap looking. "We would go to the markets, like MIP [in Cannes] and we would talk to the international distributors, and we'd say, 'We're Canadian producers, we're making content,' " says Schneeberg. "They'd laugh at us. They'd say, 'We're not funding Canadian shows. You guys are making dramas for a million dollars an hour, shooting them in five days, with, like, six extras. We can't sell them. They're unsellable!'"

About five years ago, though, "we started to see broadcasters investing more in Canadian content," says Schneeberg. "That allowed writers to be able to stay in Canada - as opposed to having to flee, or continue working for hire on other people's shows. So you had a few writers who said: 'Hey, maybe Canada's an option.' And our budgets went up, and distributors started to say, 'Well, wait a minute, you're making that show for one-million-six, or one-million-seven, or one-million-eight - and you're shooting it properly, and I can sell that.' And it sort of has changed the marketplace."

As Temple Street has grown, Fortier and Schneeberg say they are mindful of the fact that the Canadian regulatory system enables them to own the content they produce. (Most U.S. networks own their shows.) "We can never forget that we hold onto those rights because of a subsidy system that has been created over time to protect people like us," says Fortier. Writers, though, have no such protection, so Temple Street structures its deals to make genuine partners of their producers - both creatively and financially.

"The success of Orphan Black - I don't think it's transformed our company. I think what's happened is, it's legitimized our model," says Schneeberg. "When I think about other projects that we're working on, we've pitched this crap that we're pitching you right now - about the thing and the creative and the integrity - and we've done it for years until we're blue in the face, and oftentimes people don't believe us. But every time we have a success with a show, it legitimizes that model, and people believe it a little bit more."

Friday, April 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

In 2010, I wrote a long profile of Jim Flaherty on the theme of whether he was one of Canada's greatest finance ministers. When it came time to draw conclusions, I equivocated. Maybe, I summarized in more words than that; time will tell.

Time told. He was.

Back then, one could start asking about Mr. Flaherty's place in the pantheon because he just had stared down an economic calamity of the like that few of his predecessors ever had faced.

Ottawa was ill-prepared for the financial crisis. It had been a long time since the Finance Department had been asked to think about spending money. Mr. Flaherty, who, until three weeks ago, was Prime Minister Stephen Harper's only finance minister, inherited a budget surplus in 2006. He promptly narrowed it by cutting taxes, including the Goods and Services Tax, a fiscal sin for which few in the economics academy will ever forgive him. Besides trimming taxes, Mr. Flaherty had made clear the only other thing that mattered was paying down debt.

It is fine to be guided by your intellectual instincts when the economy is strong: The creation of jobs and wealth tends to cover up policy mistakes. The test comes when the good times end.

Mr. Flaherty in 2008 confronted a situation that only could be reversed by heavy spending.

This was a difficult moment for him. His economic philosophy was based on a rejection of the stagnation that marked Pierre Trudeau's tenure as prime minister. The last thing he wanted to do was run up the debt by paving roads, refurbishing hockey rinks and building gazebos. But he did it because after considering all the evidence, he knew it was the right thing to do. Not only did he sign off on the spending, but he made clear that he didn't mind if some of the money was wasted. The point was to flush the economy with cash, not worry about an embarrassing report someday by the auditor-general.

"His leadership helped Canada overcome the most serious financial crisis since the 1930s," John Manley, president of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives and a former political enemy of Mr. Flaherty's, said Thursday in a statement. "His astute judgment, thoughtful pragmatism and strength of character inspired confidence during a period of profound uncertainty and economic risk," he said

Ending the crisis was the easy part. Put bluntly, once the water is flowing, all you have to do is hold the hose until the flames are extinguished. It is the rebuilding that is difficult, which was why it would have been presumptuous in 2010 to conclude definitively that Mr. Flaherty had earned the same level of respect accorded to former finance ministers such as Paul Martin and Michael Wilson.

The budget Mr. Flaherty introduced in February answered one of the questions that lingered over his legacy. For an unabashed, if occasionally flexible, fiscal conservative, Mr. Flaherty's tenure only could have been considered a complete success if he returned Canada's books to balance.

With a little creative accounting, his last budget probably could have been written in black ink rather than red. There is little doubt that Mr. Flaherty's restraint since the crisis will leave Canada with a budget surplus next year, if not sooner.

Economists will argue over how to score that achievement. Just this week, the International Monetary Fund indicated that Mr. Harper's government could stand to be a little less austere. With borrowing costs at record-low levels, there is a strong case that countries such as Canada should be taking advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rebuild crumbling infrastructure. Lacklustre economic growth and shaky business confidence would benefit from the spending. Mr. Flaherty did a bit of this, but not a lot.

It's fair to argue that Mr. Flaherty's quest to balance the budget needn't have been so intense. He would argue otherwise, probably with the example of middle-class Canadians who dropped their house keys at his law office in the 1980s, unable to pay double-digit mortgage rates.

If Mr. Flaherty hadn't reduced the GST, he might have accomplished his goal much sooner. The GST hurts his legacy as a policy maker because it's the most efficient, fair way to raise revenue.

A relatively small levy on most of the population tends not to distort economic decision making. But a consumption tax also is highly visible, which is why Mr. Harper and Mr. Flaherty chose to target it.

"Middle-class people don't believe that governments reduce their taxes," Mr. Flaherty told me in 2010. "But if you do it on a consumption tax, people see it. That, in part, restores faith in government."

That confidence showed itself in a greater achievement than balancing the budget. He took the lessons of the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis seriously. In an interview in October, Mr. Flaherty said he started looking hard at Canada's housing market in 2007, sooner than most of us who followed him had realized.

He would tighten mortgage rules four times in as many years, making it harder for Canadians to buy homes, but dramatically reducing the odds that the U.S. experience would be repeated north of the border.

These decisions met with resistance; voters like buying houses.

But decades of sloppy policy had made a mess of housing markets. Mr. Flaherty knew this, and, as he did more often than not, he used his stubborn streak to do the right thing.

"There was pushback," he told me.

"I knew what I was doing, especially the last time, and I knew it would have a negative effect on employment. But one must look at the longer term and that's what I did."

Happily co-dependent
The Social's Elaine Lui talks to her mother at least 12 times a day. 'It's as necessary as going to the bathroom.' Courtney Shea examines how and when it became acceptable - even healthy - to be so close with mom and dad
Special to The Globe and Mail
Friday, April 11, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1

Every day Elaine Lui wakes up and calls her mom. It is the first of at least a dozen mother/daughter telephone or text correspondences before bed. Some messages are practical ("Where are we meeting for dim sum?"), some are instructional ("You looked sick on TV today - drink more soup."), some are simple status updates.

"Whatever I'm doing, wherever I am, I check in with my mother. When I get into a cab, I call her. When the cab drops me off, I call her," writes Lui in her new book, Listen to the Squawking Chicken, a memoir about what she calls an "excessively dependent" mother/daughter dynamic.

Lui, who also writes the Lainey Gossip blog and is a co-host on CTV's chat show The Social is over 40, married and more than a little bit busy. Still, checking in with mom multiple times a day is non-negotiable. "It's just a part of me," she said in an interview. "I've been doing it for god knows how long - checking in, checking in, checking in. It's as necessary as going to the bathroom."

Lui's phone-home fixation is an extreme example of an increasingly common reality. On the whole, parents and children are closer than they used to be, and smartphones and Skype make it easy and inexpensive to maintain regular contact. The frequency of communication between parents and their adult children recently became a hot topic after a survey by a British telecom company found that the average adult calls his or her parents once a week. But that's just the average, and includes those who speak never, or at least rarely. At the opposite end is a growing group of high-frequency communicators - parents and their adult offspring who may have cut the cord, but have no intention of cutting the wireless signal.

When I asked friends on Facebook to share their parental phoning patterns, it was mostly members of the frequent-callers group who responded: three to four times a week; twice a day; one friend spoke to her mom every day even when she was living in Kenya. Such responses probably say less about the norm and more about a bit of humble bragging. As with other "telling" figures (the price of a home, the tally of past romances), the number of times we speak to our parents is a quantifiable, easily comparable detail that carries certain connotations about the quality of the ties that bind.

"Having a close relationship with our parents is part of a modern definition of success," says Alyson Schafer, a Toronto-based family psychologist and author of several books about child-rearing.

This doesn't mean that previous generations were indifferent to intergenerational bonding, only that "parent" and "bff" tended to be mutually exclusive terms. Today, evidence of the overlap is all around: Rather than the usual supermodel dates, bad boys such as Jared Leto and Leonardo DiCaprio took their moms to this year's Oscar festivities. Earlier this week, singer Rihanna posted a mother/daughter portrait on Instagram, along with a gushy happy birthday message. "There used to be a commonly accepted notion that rebelling against, and more or less hating, your parents was a part of adolescence, and that the parental relationship needed to be severed for the child to become independent," Schafer notes. "More recently, we have realized that detachment doesn't have to be part of the maturation process."

These are positive developments, says Jessica Grose, an American journalist and co-creator of the website Postcards From Yo Mama. Grose and a girlfriend got the idea for the site (which eventually became the book Love, Mom) when they realized how many of their peers were engaged in constant (and comical) text exchanges with their mothers. Grose says that the book could be interpreted as a portrait of an emotionally stunted generation, "unable to make a move without mommy council," but really it's a sign of how our society is evolving sociologically, technologically, even pop culturally: "Today parents and kids watch the same TV shows and movies, read the same books - the generation gap has shrunk. There's a lot more common ground," Grose says.

Common ground is definitely a hallmark of my mother/daughter phone habits, which falls somewhere between three to five times a week. Most exchanges are flagrant in their non-essentialness, but the cumulative effect of endless throwaway discussions - on family gossip, on The Good Wife, on Michelle Obama's blond highlights (blech!) - is anything but. Having a adult, close relationship with my mom is one of the cornerstones of my identity, and speaking on the phone several times a week is part of the upkeep. Does this make me co-dependent? Clingy? In need of a hobby?

According to Schafer, the difference between healthy and unhealthy communication isn't a matter of quantity so much as consensus: "If both people want the same thing, and neither is using talk time as an avoidance tool, then there generally isn't an issue."

There is also the matter of boundaries, and not taking advantage: "If you are chatting to your mom on the phone about what you're making for dinner, that's okay," Schafer says. "But if your mom is driving across town to pick up a chicken for her adult, working daughter, that's a problem."

Lui, who receives homemade soup deliveries from her mom several times a week and takes maternal instruction on everything from wardrobe to what to eat for breakfast, says she has certainly felt judged for her relationship, but feels this says more about the person doing the judging. "Calling my mom several times a day makes her happy, and that makes me happy. It's pretty simple."

Cheers, eat your heart out
This Southern barbecue saloon impresses with its hospitable vibe, loyal customers and electric smoker-cooked brisket
Saturday, April 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S3


Location: 833 Denman St.

City: Vancouver

Phone: 604-428-2528


Prices: Small plates, $5 to $15; barbecue, $10 to $36; group platters, $55 and $95

Cuisine: American barbecue

Additional Info: Open from 4:30 p.m. until 2 a.m., Monday to Saturday (12 a.m. on Sunday), brunch from 10:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Reservations for large parties only.


A jovial doctor named Andrew walks into Buckstop and takes a seat at the bar. He is a regular here and has dropped by to celebrate the sale of his condominium.

"A round for everyone!" he says to restaurant owner Fiona Grieve.

She turns to me, "What would you like?" Really? I've only ever seen this happen on TV.

Buckstop is more than just a great Southern barbecue saloon. It's a friendly neighbourhood hangout where everyone, if they don't know your name, at least remember your face.

"How was your birthday?" Ms. Grieve, a long-time server who squirrelled away her tips to build her own business, asks on my second visit. She didn't even serve me the first time.

The narrow 30-seat room isn't remarkably handsome. It's decked in dark wood, humble Mason-jar candleholders and the standard hunting motifs, including a pointy deer-antler chandelier in the front window.

But the joint's immensely hospitable vibe explains why it has amassed what Ms. Grieve calls "a loyal army of awesome regulars" since quietly opening without any advertising nearly 12 months ago.

Of course, it helps that the smoky, home-style fare is cooked with pride and care. Chef Henry Besser Rosenberg appeared on Buckstop's doorstep after reading about the restaurant in an online magazine. "If I can't work here, I'm moving back to Ottawa," the former commissary cook for Re-Up BBQ pleaded.

"He took control and has been the heart and soul of this kitchen ever since," Ms. Grieve explains, leaning over the bar with a frothy bourbon namesake cocktail, courtesy of Andrew, fizzed up with house-brewed ginger ale. Self-taught, the proprietor is an ace bartender.

Mr. Besser Rosenberg replaced the original chef and expanded the menu to include brunch, happy hour snacks, a tantalizing array of West Coast-inspired small plates and the best barbecue he can muster out of an electric Cookshack smoker supplemented with hickory chips (local bylaws prevent indoor kitchens from using all-hardwood fire).

St. Louis pork ribs are dry-rubbed Memphis style and slow-cooked for three to four hours until they achieve a crispy char and succulent tenderness without falling off the bone (a good sign).

Big beefy back ribs are treated with a slightly spicy Texas-style rub and cooked for five to seven hours at about 225 F (107 C). Like the pork ribs, they have a nice crusty bark, which indicates that the chef is using the correct amount of wood, heat and salt.

You're never going to get trophy-winning brisket out of an electric smoker. Without hardwood, the beef breast isn't permeated with the magical vapour that gives championship barbecue its telltale smoke ring. But this brisket, with its blackened edges, jiggling fat cap and meltingly soft marbling, is pretty darn good.

The pulled pork is less impressive. It's the only meat that's served sauced and the kitchen really slathers the sweet stickiness on heavy. The chef explains that he originally served it drier (as it should be), but received so many complaints he bowed to customer demand (admirable).

The first time I visited, it was Saturday night and the place was slammed. The pulled pork was stiff and hard, almost fossilized. What went wrong? Was it reheated too many times? "Yeah, something like that," the chef mumbles over the phone.

On the second visit, the pork was much more tender with a toothsome chew. I think it helps that Buckstop thickly pulls its butt into fat strands. If it's too fine and silky - or overcooked - the meat can get mushy and watery and end up tasting like collagen-blown cardboard.

The best way to eat here is to go with a group and order the half stop ($55) or full stop ($95) barbecue. In addition to the two types of ribs, brisket and pulled pork, the platters include honey-orange brined chicken drumsticks (finished in the oven to give them a crispy skin), dense cornbread with honey butter, hush puppies (deep-fried cornbread doughnuts laced with cinnamon), superb sweet-and-sour coleslaw, salty fries and navy beans perfectly balanced with smoky bacon, sweet ketchup and tangy barbecue sauce (all made in-house).

"Want some of our signature hot sauce with that?" I'm back at the bar for my second visit to try some of the smaller plates, each of which is prepared with its own smoky component. Tonight it's hearty cheddar mac 'n' cheese blended with tons of bacon and just the right amount of jalapeno. Oddly enough, it's the small side salad with smoked beets, candied walnuts, goat cheese and mandarin vinaigrette that I devour first.

I take the barbecued buttermilk calamari to go. I'm skeptical about this dish, tossed in a tangy, onion-thickened sauce and dressed with fresh cilantro and diced mango. But it rocks, even when eaten cold the next day.

"I'll be back," I shout to Ms. Grieve as I walk out the door. And I mean it. Sure, it helps that I live only a few blocks away and they serve $4 tequila shots on Tuesday nights. (The daily drink specials are quite amazing.)

But what I really love about Buckstop: This is a Gastown-style bar that's even cooler because it's not.

When multiculturalism tests our moral relativism
Friday, April 18, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L6

Remember that episode of The Simpsons where Marge's car breaks down in an unfamiliar neighbourhood? Staring out the windows, the Simpson kids see people eating in an Ethiopian restaurant. Lisa exclaims: "They're using pancakes as spoons!" To which Bart responds: "Let's see what else they do wrong!"

Raising a family in a crowded multicultural city can be a bit like that - fantastic takeout, endless parades, delightful shops and, of course, opportunities for cultural judgment.

Bart Simpson was very much on my mind the other day after my neighbour, a friendly Sudanese Muslim mother of three who immigrated to our street three years ago, rang my doorbell and asked if she could have a word.

Her six-year-old, let's call him Mohammed, has become besties with my five-year-old stepson, Freddie. The two boys spend every free minute they can playing together, moving freely between the two houses, knocking morse code through our shared wall. They've even had a sleepover that was a moderate success (Freddie forgot his teddy but enjoyed dawn prayers). Some things are different at Mohammed's house - they have bunk beds, a later bedtime, unlimited Halal biscuits and a television in every room, as Freddie often reminds me enviously - but otherwise it's much the same.

Or so I thought.

"We need to talk," said Mohammed's mother. "Freddie was showing the other children his bottom."

"Oh dear," I winced. "Sorry about that."

"He seemed to think it was funny."

"Yes, well he's going through a bit of bum fixation, you know how kids are at that age. Poo, farts, bums, ha ha ha."

She looked at me like I had just grown an extra head.

"He can't play at our house any more if it continues," she said. I could see she was serious. I made a stern face and vowed to talk to him.

"Don't worry," she said. "I already talked to him. I told him that he must never show his body from here to here." She motioned from the waist to the knees. "I told him it's dirty, and to show that part to anyone is very wrong."

Now it was my turn to be offended. I squirmed until she asked what was wrong.

"Well," I said, "it's just that, uh, we take a slightly different view of the human anatomy in our house."

What I didn't tell her is that we are as immodest as late-sixties flower children and that fart jokes are de rigeur. The problem we had here was a classic cross-cultural paradox: Mohammed's mother thought Freddie pulling a mooner was fundamentally immoral, whereas I felt it was immoral for her to tell my kid to be ashamed of his body. I agreed that what Freddie did was naughty, but I disagreed with the idea that it was aberrant. Or even particularly bad. Body shame is, for me, more troubling than the naked body. Whereas for Mohammed's mother, body shame exists for good reason.

Parenting in a multicultural environment tests our moral relativism. It reveals the wildly different ways most of us struggle to make sure our children end up as good people. The question is, good according to whose rules? Despite the rise of Tiger Mother-type parenting books, which presume the goal of most parents is to ensure our kids get ahead, most parents I know are far more concerned with ensuring their kids are simply decent.

A 2007 study conducted at the University of Texas, which interviewed 343 American parents from European, Asian, Hispanic and African ethnic groups, found that most respondents thought caring was a more important personality trait than achievement - defined as academic or financial success in childhood or later in life. Interestingly, the other values highly rated across all cultures were independence (the ability to take care of oneself) and interdependence (the ability to relate well in a group). A 2001 study conducted at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem asked families in more than 50 countries to place value on character, and found the same thing: The respondents said decency and kindness were more important than success.

So how best to achieve this? According to Adam Grant, a Wharton School management professor at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, we must praise good behaviour in children while instilling guilt when they knowingly misbehave or do harm. Guilt, he writes, "is a judgment about an action, which can be repaired by good behaviour," whereas shame "is a negative judgment of the core self," which can be devastating for children.

Great advice, but what happens when two neighbours strongly disagree on what is morally right?

This is the tricky part. Because while I know I must respect my neighbour's right to view the human body any way she wants, I also believe she is fundamentally wrong. And while I can usually balance these two conflicting notions in my head, it's when she attempts to impress her values on my child that I find my tolerance reaching its limit. The same is true for her and bare bums.

Our boys remain best of friends - and that can only be a good thing, both for their own developing characters and for society as a whole. Post-bottomgate, Mohammed's mother and I have arrived at an uneasy truce over tea and biscuits. Our unspoken agreement is like the unwritten contract that binds any multicultural society. Privately, we will each adhere to our own rules. And in public we will try our best to get along. Even if, like Bart Simpson, we are pretty darn sure the other person is wrong.

Raonic knocked out in Monaco
Despite loss, Thornhill, Ont., native reaches final eight at a clay-court tournament for first time in career
The Canadian Press, The Associated Press
Saturday, April 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S6

MONACO -- Canadian Milos Raonic is out at the Monte Carlo Masters.

The hard-serving native of Thornhill, Ont., was limited to just six aces in a 7-6 (5), 6-2 quarter-final loss to third-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka on Friday.

Raonic, seeded eighth, was playing his first clay quarter-final at the Masters 1000-level but struggled with consistency against his Swiss opponent, the reigning Australian Open winner.

Raonic, 23, is currently ranked No. 10 on the ATP but has lost all three head-to-head matches against Wawrinka. The previous two were hard-court contests in 2012 and 2013.

Raonic played well in an opening set that lasted nearly an hour before getting into trouble in the tiebreaker. He held leads of 3-0 and 5-3, but mental lapses allowed Wawrinka to rally for the victory.

Raonic stormed out to a 40-0 lead to start the second set but again Wawrinka rallied to earn the break and take the early lead.

"Stan found a rhythm and played more free," Raonic said. "On the key points, he was really going for his shots. He overtook me and started dictating.

"But I've done something I've never done before [reach quarter-finals on clay at the Masters level], so it's still very positive for me."

Raonic was broken in the seventh game to trail 5-2 before Wawrinka cemented the win a game later.

"I was really focused on my serve to be really aggressive from the first shot, to make him move, to make him work every ball," Wawrinka said. "I just feel strong from the baseline. I feel good physically.

"I know that on clay courts, if I play my best tennis, I can beat those guys."

Raonic will try to regroup as the French Open draws closer but found solace with his accomplishment at this clay event.

"I have to be happy with things if I look at the big picture," he said. "Of course I wish I would have done better, but after one week on clay I'm playing well.

"I had expected to work through the weeks up to Paris, getting better as I go along. That's still the goal. I need to get better on the clay, spend more time on it and do all the clay-specific fitness. This week does give me confidence though."

In doubles action, Toronto's Daniel Nestor and Serbian Nenad Zimonjic, who won this event in 2009 and '10, face Monaco's Romain Arneodo and Benjamin Balleret in quarter-final action.

In other singles play, Rafael Nadal lost his quarter-final match to Spanish compatriot David Ferrer 7-6 (1), 6-4. It's Nadal's earliest exit at the Monte Carlo Masters in 11 years.

While he beat Nadal just last year, Ferrer hadn't defeated Nadal on clay since 2004.

A day after becoming the 11th man in the Open era to reach 300 wins on clay, Nadal committed 44 unforced errors and was broken four times. Ferrer lost his own serve three times in the match that lasted more than two hours.

Nadal won eight consecutive Monte Carlo titles from 2005 to 2012 before he lost last year's final to Novak Djokovic.

Ferrer will face Wawrinka in semi-final action.

"I know I am supposed to be among the favourites, but every time I play a match I am in the state of mind of a challenger who is trying to win an additional match," Wawrinka said.

Swiss star Roger Federer advanced with a 2-6, 7-6 (6), 6-1 win against No. 9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France. Federer was two points from defeat at 0-30 serving at 6-5 down in the second set.

Federer, who improved to 11-4 against Tsonga, wasted 15 straight break points and three set points in the second set. But at 6-6 in the tiebreaker, Tsonga hit a wild forehand into the net and Federer tied the match with a volley winner.

After finally breaking Tsonga at the 16th try, Federer clenched his fist in relief. He broke him again with a forehand winner down the line and held for 5-0.

"It was just many things went wrong at the wrong time for me: Jo playing well, me playing wrong at certain times, wrong shot selections," Federer said. "I'm happy I found the way to tough it out."

Tsonga said the changing conditions in the late afternoon as the match went into a third set suited Federer's style of play more.

"I don't think it was that much of a change. I don't think there was any wind change or any crazy, like, quickness change," Federer said. "We played in those conditions a million of times."

Djokovic set up a 34th career meeting against Federer, a 17-time Grand Slam champion, by downing unseeded Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain 4-6, 6-3, 6-1.

"I started very poorly. Garcia-Lopez played well and I had to work for this win," Djokovic said. "I finally started to play as I wanted in the second set."

Federer leads Djokovic 17-16 in head-to-head matches and they are 1-1 this year. Federer won in the Dubai Championship semi-finals, while Djokovic emerged victorious in their showdown in the final at Indian Wells.

The Serbian was close to losing against Garcia-Lopez, saving a break point in the fifth game of the second set and two more when trailing 15-40 in his next service game.

Djokovic then made a crucial break to take a 5-3 lead, served out the set, and then broke Garcia-Lopez twice at the start of the third.

The plan: Mortgage-free by 40
Couple bank on annual raises to pay off house and save for children's schooling
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, April 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B9

Evan and Violet are both 27 with good jobs, a big mortgage and their first child on the way.

They hope to have three or four children. They want Violet to leave her $75,000 a year nursing job when the baby is born and stay home with the children indefinitely.

Longer term, they aim to pay off their $717,325 mortgage by the time they are 40, and save for their children's higher education.

"We're trying to plan for living on my salary alone while living in a house we bought in Toronto, [an expensive housing market]," Evan writes in an e-mail. He works as a management consultant, earning $130,000 a year plus bonus - a number he reckons will rise substantially as the years go by.

Their biggest single expense is their mortgage, to which they are making extra payments. They do not have an allowance in their budget for vacations because they use Evan's frequent flyer points, "and we think that with a baby on the way, travel will go down significantly," he writes.

We asked Matthew Ardrey and Warren Baldwin of T.E. Wealth in Toronto to look at Violet and Evan's situation. Mr. Baldwin is regional vice-president, and Mr. Ardrey is manager of financial planning.

What the experts say

Evan and Violet are not a typical young couple starting out on the adventure of life together, the planners note.

"Their high-income bracket creates a unique planning scenario for their financial goals."

The couple has three main goals they want to address over the next 10 to 15 years: For Violet to quit working, to pay off their mortgage and to save for their children's higher education.

First, the planners assessed the couple's projected cash flow. Evan expects that he will retain his job as a management consultant earning $150,000 (salary and bonus) and that his income will rise at a rate of 15 per cent a year.

Their current lifestyle expenses total about $9,000 a month, a number that is estimated to rise by $500 per month for each child.

In their calculations, the planners assume the couple's children will be spaced out over the next nine years.

To take advantage of the Canada Education Savings Grant, Evan and Violet will have to make contributions of $2,500 a year to a registered education savings plan for each child.

Violet and Evan are both making maximum RRSP contributions. Once she stops working, Violet will no longer be generating additional RRSP room. The planners' calculations assume an average annual rate of return on investments of 5 per cent and an annual inflation rate of 2 per cent.

Violet and Evan are making a lump-sum payment of about $24,000 annually to the mortgage, mainly from Evan's bonus. Their mortgage interest rate is 2.9 per cent. When the mortgage comes up for renewal in 2017, the planners estimate the rate will increase to 4 per cent, and to 5 per cent on subsequent renewals. In the plan, the couple's biweekly payments of $1,746 remain constant.

"Based on our analysis, Evan and Violet will not be able to make any additional lump-sum mortgage payments for the next five years, or until 2019," they conclude. "The loss of Violet's income, combined with the additional expenses, will keep them very close to the line on their budget."

As Evan's income rises, though, this will change. In 2019, they will be able to resume their mortgage prepayments, starting with $24,000 the first year and doubling to $48,000 in subsequent years.

"At this rate, by the time they are age 40, they will be mortgage-free."

Mr. Ardrey and Mr. Baldwin offer a note of caution:

"Though they can achieve their financial goals, doing so is solely dependent on Evan's continuing to earn a significant income and achieve significant annual increases," the planners note. "If something were to derail that, they would need to take another look at their financial plan."

One consideration that the couple may be overlooking is insurance. Evan has life insurance coverage of $875,000. If he were to die after they had their fourth child, "it would only be a few years before Violet would run out of financial assets and could be forced to sell the home," they say.

They suggest Evan take out an additional $1.6-million of insurance to cover off family expenses until the youngest child is through school.

Want a free financial facelift?

E-mail Some details may be changed to protect the privacy of the persons profiled.



The people

Evan and Violet, both 27.

The problem

Can Violet stay home with the children without jeopardizing their goals of paying off their mortgage by age 40 and saving for the children's higher education?

The plan

Stick to a tight budget for a while. Get more life insurance for Evan. Then, if all goes well, double up on lump-sum mortgage payments in five years.

The payoff

A roadmap showing how their goals can be achieved - and how dependent they are on everything going as anticipated for Evan at work.

Monthly net income



Cash $2,000; his TFSA $7,000; his RRSP $47,500; her RRSP $8,500; residence $850,000. Total: $915,000

Monthly disbursements

Mortgage $3,495; other housing $865; transportation $550; groceries, clothing $575; gifts $1,500; entertainment $455; sports $325; discretionary $25; life insurance $40; drugstore $25; telecom $125; RRSPs $2,915; TFSAs $165; association $15; group benefits $250; misc. discretionary spending $1,000. Total: $12,325 Liabilities

Mortgage $717,325 at 2.9 per cent

Sisters in dungarees
I didn't realize it when I was a student at Smith College, but Seven Sisters style, which is the subject of a new book and still finds expression through brands such as J.Crew, was radical in its way. Yes, my fellow alums sported Peter Pan collars and saddle shoes, but they also insisted - vociferously - on wearing trousers too
Saturday, April 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L10

When I arrived on the campus of Smith College toward the end of the 1970s, I didn't know that what I encountered there was something called Seven Sisters style. I didn't know it had a name. I just remember feeling as though I had entered a kind of club. Or a cult.

The majority of the students at the all-women's college in Northampton, Mass. dressed the same. They all seemed to have received a memo about wearing khaki pants, polo shirts, Fair Ilse sweaters and casual, loafer-like shoes called Top-siders. I clearly hadn't. From Montreal, I was in a determined teenage phase of wanting to be different, even among my Canadian peers. I had a thing for long Laura Ashley skirts worn with battered-up work boots - from Canadian Tire, I believe. Needless to say, I was thought of as a bit odd and not only because of my accent.

But now, a new book, Seven Sisters Style by Rebecca Tuite, unravels the history of the sartorial fashion - a "pioneering ... all-American style revolution," she calls it - that began on the East Coast of the U.S. at the seven colleges referred to: Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Radcliffe, Smith, Vassar and Wellesley. The Seven Sisters schools - all were single-sex at the time (Vassar is now co-ed and Radcliffe has merged with Harvard) - were founded between 1861 and 1889 to give women what men had at elite Ivy League colleges. As Harper's Bazaar announced in 1935, "[the college girl's] contribution to fashion is as American as Coca-Cola, baseball and hitch-hiking. It is as true to her character as the starched bodice to the Gibson Girl, gray flannels to the Englishman, black to the Frenchwoman."

The book is an interesting investigation into American cultural ideals, feminism and a style standard for a brand of wholesome sexuality that's still promoted today through brands such as Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors and J.Crew. It's what made Ali MacGraw so attractive in Love Story, the 1970 film about a love affair between a brilliant, fast-talking Radcliffe girl and a Harvard rich boy played by Ryan O'Neal.

The look also found expression in Diane Keaton's character in Annie Hall and Manhattan. Katherine Hepburn, who attended a Seven Sisters college, embodied it, too. And it found its way into literature as well: "Her hands did not twitch at her bottom," Philip Roth in 1959's Goodbye, Columbus, "but the form revealed itself covered or not, under the closeness of her khaki Bermudas. There were two wet triangles on the back of her tiny-collared white polo shirt, right where her wings would have been if she'd had a pair."

Hillary Clinton's style (she is a graduate of Wellesley graduate) still has a Seven Sisters vibe to it. Remember her hairband? I never saw as many headbands, worn as if part of a uniform, as I did when I was at Smith. They came in all colours, as did the Fair Ilse sweaters. I once asked a woman across the hall in my dorm to show me her cupboard; there, in neat stacks, were about 30 Fair Ilse sweaters, arranged in a rainbow of colour gradations.

Whether I felt admiration, wonder or horror, I cannot recall. But I did feel like an amateur anthropologist, who had come across some strange tribe of women that knitted in front of the television (when they weren't hitting the books in the library), had tea in the afternoon and, in the evening, changed into long, patterned flannel Lanz nightgowns with lace-trimmed yokes. Sometimes, late at night, after studying in their rooms, some would gather in the hallways, plopping down on the carpet, their nightgowns billowing like tents over their seated forms.

I never adopted the style, perhaps because it was so much of an upper-class American look that it wasn't part of my identity. It would have been like a North American suddenly deciding to wear a kimono in Japan. In her book, Tuite describes the emergence of a new style on the women's colleges at the turn of the 20th Century. The first students at the Seven Sisters had arrived in crinolines and hoopskirts amid cultural reservations about the merit of educating women. Lighter, looser clothing, including shirts, blouses and jackets, some of it inspired by their Ivy League male counterparts, radiated athleticism and agency. The bloomer suit - designed in New York in 1851 by female rights activist, Amelia Bloomer, who crusaded unsuccessfully for a woman's right to wear pants in public - re-emerged at the turn of the century on Seven Sisters campuses as sports attire.

Style had become a "powerful statement on the capabilities and character of Seven Sisters women," Tuite writes. From there, in the decades that followed, came Bermuda shorts, plaid skirts, Peter Pan collars, raccoon-fur coats and saddle shoes as the look aimed "to strike a balance between challenging traditional clothing conventions and maintaining ... femininity." The most controversial garment was jeans. In 1944, Life magazine ran a photograph of two Wellesley girls in saggy jeans and shirts, provoking national dismay and a response from students at the college: "We do not sympathize with stringy hair and baggy shirts, but we will fight to the death for our right to wear dungarees on the proper occasions."

They knew who they were, what they wanted, what they could learn and what they would wear. The style culture of the Seven Sisters communicated a solidarity of purpose for women to be taken seriously, to have choice. If only I'd known, I might have ditched the work boots.

Unholy grail
Barbara Ehrenreich, staunch atheist, delves into the meaning of the mystical visions that have overcome her throughout her life
Saturday, April 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R15

Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth About Everything

By Barbara Ehrenreich

Twelve, 256 pages, $29

America is a country constantly in search of its own mythologies, whether on a national or individual scale. They - we - love the notion of transformation and redemption, preferably shot through with some mystical or spiritual significance. It's in the opera of Oprah, the redemptive arc of Eat, Pray, Love, the self-help books with titles like The Gifts of Imperfection and Choose Yourself! that, in 2014, hold a giant share of the market.

Yet one of the country's most admirable qualities has always been its ability to self-analyze - to tolerate, even encourage, dissent from within the ranks, and to dissemble these mythologies. In the 20th century, writers such as Studs Terkel, Alex Kotlowitz and Barbara Ehrenreich made a career of peeling back the country's Rockwellian façade to reveal racism, class inequality, bad government - the corrupt foundations on which a superpower is built.

In her 2001 book Nickel and Dimed, Ehrenreich spent months working, like many Americans, at minimum-wage jobs - waiting tables, working at Wal-Mart - trying, and failing, to get by. In 2010's Bright-Sided, she offered an excellent critique of America's obsession with "positive thinking," inspired by the pink-ribboned optimism foisted upon her following a diagnosis of breast cancer.

So it is something of a surprise to see the title of Ehrenreich's most recent book, a memoir called Living With a Wild God. The book seems to promise a new, inverse kind of revelation, of her spiritually driven transformation: Are we about to discover the secret all-American values that lurk beneath Ehrenreich's rabble-rousing façade?

And, in fact, Ehrenreich does begin to describe her upbringing in terms that would move talk-show coteries to tears: she is the observant child of frustrated blue-collar parents, each simmering with frustration and rage that would spill over into emotional and sometimes physical abuse (preteen Ehrenreich, cowering at the prospect of having to walk to the bathroom past a furious mother waiting up for her absent husband, chooses to wet the bed instead; she is punished with a sharp slap). But with flinty wit and no sentimentality, Ehrenreich dispatches with the narrative of victimhood. That is not the story she wishes to tell. The subtitle of her book is not "My Journey to Inner Peace," but "A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth About Everything."

She has been compelled to revisit the story of her life by re-reading the diaries she kept in her teenage years. In one entry, young Ehrenreich wonders about the future self who is poring over her words, and exhorts this future self to consider what she has learned between then - 1958 - and now.

The young Ehrenreich was referring, in part, to a series of mental episodes she went through - and that would endure well into her adult life - that foretold either enlightenment or insanity.

Ehrenreich's teenage diaries are exceptionally probing and philosophical. Lacking the ability to connect with other human beings, she retreats into what she calls "solipsism," the idea that the only thing that's certain is one's own existence - not the existence of other people, and certainly not the existence of god. Eventually her furiously working brain boils dry and she is visited by the sudden sensation that the world is stripped of meaning; instead of existing in a matrix of history and significance, everything - every tree, teacup, building, even her own self - is pure object. The event lasts only minutes at a time, but recurs often and distressingly.

"How crazy was I?" she asks now of her younger self. "Over the years the question has arisen again and again, often taking on an edge of maternal concern." With hindsight, Ehrenreich supposes that, had she been born into a more religious upbringing, she would have identified her experiences as "divine." Instead, she beat back a secret fear of schizophrenia and rigorously applied herself to her physics PhD. But the exploration of the "crazy" question forms the kernel of this book: How does a non-believer process episodes of altered consciousness? Of what are religious ecstasies made?

It is hard to dislike this book, for its occasional faults: yes, Ehrenreich spends too much time in the lab, drawing incomprehensible analogies between the movement of electrodes and human nature, and there are too few tensions pulling the reader through the muck of solipsism and physics; but it is impossible to remain unimpressed by Ehrenreich's moxie - by her sheer, raw intelligence, talent and, finally, hard-won compassion. She set herself the task of becoming a decent, moral person and, against many odds, succeeded.

Morality, in her view, arises out of godlessness; in the absence of a higher power, it behooves us to show mercy to one another. Despite her visions, she remains a staunch atheist, and her views on mysticism come out all a-tumble in the last, breathless chapter of the book. She speeds us through a historical and cultural overview of spiritual experiences, which she legitimizes, even while refuting the notion of faith. "I believe nothing," she writes. "Belief is intellectual surrender; 'faith' is a state of willed self-delusion."

For the agnostic reader, the purported climax of the book is nothing special - she allows that scientific rigour can co-exist with mysticism. Sure, why not? What is most revolutionary, perhaps, is her choice to eschew easy answers and comfort in a land built on the promise of it - Snuggies! Drive-thrus! Chicken Soup for the Soul! - in favour of a more thorny, ambiguous conclusion.

Lisan Jutras is the deputy editor of Globe Books.

Arab Israelis fear joining Palestine under land-swap plan
Monday, April 21, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A9

UMM AL-FAHM, ISRAEL -- A plan being promoted by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is worrying a lot of Arab Israelis who fear they might become collateral damage in any peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The plan, first proposed by Mr. Lieberman almost a decade ago, has been brought to prominence in the past three months. It calls for the border between Israel and a future Palestinian state to be moved a few kilometres west so that an area in central Israel, populated almost entirely by Arab Israelis, would fall inside the state of Palestine.

Mr. Lieberman is quick to point out that this does not amount to a transfer of population. "Nobody will be expelled or banished," he reassured a conference of Israeli ambassadors in January. The people won't be moved, he said, "but the border will move."

The hillside territory that would be ceded to Palestine is one side of a valley known as Wadi Ara. It includes communities such as Ara and Kafr Qara, as well as the city of Umm al-Fahm, home of Raed Saleh, a popular former mayor and leader of the radical northern wing of the Islamic Movement in Israel.

The handover would be part of a land swap in which Israel would receive sovereignty over tracts of land in the West Bank on which large Jewish settlements have been built. In one fell swoop, Israel would guarantee its claim to the large settlements, reduce its Arab population of 1.6 million by some 200,000, and be rid of some people the Foreign Minister views as troublemakers.

Mr. Lieberman said he sees "no reason why they [Arab Israelis living in the area] should not join their Palestinian brothers and sisters under full Palestinian sovereignty and become citizens of the future Palestinian state that they long for so ardently."

In February, the plan was given a thumbs-up by the Foreign Ministry's legal department, which cited numerous historic examples from Greece and Bulgaria to Honduras and El Salvador as precedents.

But it was widely condemned by Arab Israelis in interviews conducted in the area. They may support the creation of a neighbouring Palestinian state but they were born in Israel and appreciate the benefits of staying there, most insist.

"He didn't ask me if I support this move," said Bashar Yahia, chief scientist of a research centre and owner of a beautiful new house in Kafr Qara. "Why does he have the right to move us?"

Officials in the Foreign Ministry explain that the plan would allow Arab Israelis to remain in Israel if they wish, although they would have to be relocated to another part of the country.

Such a choice is not an option for many Arabs in Israel who are particularly attached to their home towns. "How dare he," said Adel Jasmawe, a nurse at an Israeli hospital and a father of four who lives in the small community of Ara. "This is our village," he said. Having to choose between his family roots and the country in which he was born, is "a choice I should not have to make."

"This is our land; he [Lieberman] has no right to change anything," said Assad Mahameed, 38, a house painter who lives in Umm al-Fahm. Mr. Mahameed cites a number of practical benefits on which he and his family depend. "I have a good income, health insurance, a pension. Under Abu Mazen, I'd have nothing," he said, referring to Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, by his nickname.

Officials also point out that the plan calls for benefits such as these to continue for the lifetime of those people who stay in their homes and become part of the Palestinian state. People, however, worry that their Israel-funded benefits could be cut off at the first sign of any trouble between the two countries.

Mr. Mahameed's children - Mohammed, 9, and Yasmine, 7 - say they want to be a lawyer and a doctor, respectively. He doesn't see that happening in Palestine.

More than benefits, people here worry about a lack of freedom and possible conflict in the new Palestine.

"Look at the countries around us," said Sami Majnar, a Tel Aviv waiter who lives in Umm al-Fahm. "Look at all the blood in Syria. Look at Egypt. It's a dictatorship in Ramallah," he said, referring to the seat of the Palestinian Authority. "We're much better off here."

Hadeel Mahajne, 36, a medical secretary and mother of two in Umm al-Fahm, agrees. "My heart is in Palestine," she says, "and I would be happy to be a citizen there. But, only when they've established a real democracy."

The lone person of about two dozen interviewed who said he was keen to be part of Palestine was an 18-year-old who gave his name only as Omar. "I am a Palestinian," he said, as he washed and brushed his horse, "and I am ready to become a Palestinian citizen."

Ironically, this territory was never expected to be part of Israel. The 1947 United Nations partition plan that called for all of Mandate Palestine to be divided into an Arab and a Jewish state placed Wadi Ara in the Arab state. And the 1949 ceasefire, arrived at after a year of fighting, had Jordanian forces holding this territory.

It was Israel that wanted the area to be included in its state, as a sort of buffer from areas of trouble further east, such as the Arab city of Jenin. And the Green Line was moved to accommodate it. Now Mr. Lieberman, speaking for a substantial number of Israelis, wants to return it.

Augusta turns to the next generation
Club's chairman needs to be commended for holding a national children's tournament that could revive interest in the game
Thursday, April 10, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S3


Standing here on the first tee of the most famous course in the world, all seems at one with golf.

Grass green, sky blue, sun warm and air still. Brown thrashers - the state bird - are in full choir. All 18 holes of Augusta National and the par-three course off to the side are covered with players, exceptional players, enjoying themselves almost as much as the 40,000-or-more ecstatic fans coming to the final day of practice before the Masters begins and the world tunes in to celebrate what for so many is the first day of spring.

But all is not really as well as it might seem.

In the United States alone, the number of golfers has fallen from more than 30 million a decade ago to barely 25 million today. The number of "core" golfers - those who play eight to 24 rounds in a season - has fallen from nearly 20 million to fewer than 15 million. Yet the population grows, as do the number of courses trying to figure out how to get more people playing. Public courses have been closing.

No one is exactly sure why. Too expensive? Too difficult? Too long?

Too long to play is certainly one problem. Those covering the 2014 Masters are grateful Korean professional Kevin Na is not here, though he is a fine golfer and apparently a nice man. By the time Na finishes his practice swings and takes a shot, others have been known to climb Kilimanjaro, sail the Atlantic and read War and Peace.

It is one of the great ironies - and perhaps even great charms - of Augusta National, private club of the super-rich and super-connected, that it undertook an initiative two years ago to try and get more children interested in the game.

The diminishing-numbers situation, club chairman Billy Payne said at the time, was a "critical" issue for the future of the game.

"What ideas," he asked in his southern drawl, "might attract kids and other groups of potential golfers to the game?

"... We must try. Golf is too precious, too wonderful, to sit on the sidelines and watch decreasing participation."

On Sunday, Payne's intriguing idea - he denies it was his, but no one believes him - was unveiled at Augusta. Before the professionals began their practice rounds, 88 young golfers ages seven to 15 competed in the inaugural Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals. They were selected from more than 17,000 kids who signed up to enter the competition that was held in 110 qualifiers around the country.

It was an event at times as compelling as many PGA tournaments. It was televised live on the Golf Channel. There was heartbreak - kids missing putts, long drives that bounced just out of bounds - and in the end eight champions, four boys and four girls, were named in the various age categories.

As the pros began arriving, several of them joined in, 2012 Masters champion Bubba Watson shaking hands with the participants and others, such as Darren Clark and Fred Couples, stopping their own practice just to watch. Best was when defending champion Adam Scott happened to come along during one of the trophy ceremonies and agreeing to do the honours - but not, of course, until someone had fetched his green jacket for the family photos.

Golf Digest called it "a rousing success."

With registration for 2015 already under way, the 17,000 who registered a year ago has already been surpassed in less than a week - with a cap set at 50,000 and the possibility, not fully explored, of expanding the kids competition to other countries and continents in the years beyond.

Natalie Pietromonaco, the girls' 2012-13 champion, described it as "a life-changing experience" that was hard to explain.

Jason Day, the No. 4 golfer in the world and a strong favourite to win his first Masters, tried for her. He said he would have "loved" such an opportunity to play Augusta as a youngster.

"I think a lot of kids are going to start playing golf because of what they saw on TV," Day told reporters earlier this week. "I was close to tears watching some of these kids, just to see the excitement and joy on their faces."

Wednesday morning Billy Payne held his annual news conference. It might be better described as his "State of the Union" address, with questioners referring to him as "Mr. Chairman" and his green-jacketed board sitting on a raised platform back of the media.

An emotional Payne called Sunday's children's day at Augusta "one of the most powerful moments in my life" and claimed he was merely carrying on the mandate of Augusta's founders, Bobby Jones and Cliff Roberts, in that they felt a "duty and obligation to give back to the game."

One can only imagine what the imperious, wildly conservative Roberts would have thought had a child ventured on to the sacred grounds, but that is another story and, besides, as Payne himself admitted with a sly grin, "I'm known to exaggerate a little bit."

What is important, Payne argued, "is that hundreds of thousands of other kids saw how much fun they had, sat by their televisions repeatedly telling their moms and dads that they could hit that chip even better, visualized themselves right here at Augusta next year.

"And I think in doing so, they all began the process of falling in love with the game of golf."

Perhaps so, and a tip of the golf cap to you for that, Mr. Chairman.

But could you now do something about the amount of time it takes to play?

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