Guillermo del Toronto
The Mexican superstar is directing a new scene in Canadian film: blockbusters and indie productions living in harmony
Friday, August 29, 2014 – Print Edition, Page P28

When Guillermo del Toro was a child in Mexico, he made a pact with the monsters that crowded into his room at night: If they let him go to the washroom, he'd be their friend for life. The deal worked. The monsters disappeared, and the now-acclaimed filmmaker has devoted his career to bringing those beasts back to life for everyone else.

"To this day, monsters are the thing I love most," del Toro says on a bright, hot morning in June. Del Toro, who lately calls Toronto home, has arrived at our meeting dressed all in black--black hoodie with blood-red lining, black T-shirt, black pants--and leaning on a black cane. He's a large man, but despite being physically hobbled, he moves quickly, throwing himself toward the sofa in a way that is somehow both brisk and lumbering. Our conversation is stolen from a packed schedule, as happens in the film business. But beyond the standard rush and hustle of the industry, something in del Toro's pale blue eyes and alert demeanour attests to the well of creative energy that allows him to maintain multiple movies or TV shows in active production, as well as dozens of projects in development. His prodigious output also extends well beyond filmed entertainment, including novels, comic books, video games, lecture series and, of course, designing monsters. "It's the part of my job I like best," he says.

It's also part of his job at which he excels, but certainly not the only part. The broad appeal of del Toro's filmmaking has elevated him into the highest echelon of box office success, along with the likes of James Cameron and Michael Bay. The total box office gross of all the movies he's directed, produced or written to date is well over $3 billion.

And here's the twist in the plot of this success story. Del Toro is a key part--a driver--of the Canadian film industry, single-handedly keeping thousands of people in work. "They shouldn't give him the keys to the city--they should give him a piece of the city," says producer J. Miles Dale.

If films like Pacific Rim are a long way from the sort of arthouse flick that epitomizes most people's idea of Canadian film, the two styles have nevertheless become entwined--by design. Leaving behind the era of tax write-offs that produced little in lasting benefits, the federal government, as well as most of the provinces, has aggressively sought to entice Hollywood "tent-pole" films--so named for their ability to support the whole system and create a shelter for other less-profitable movies--through generous incentives and other measures. But while del Toro's passion for making films in Ontario signifies the success of all that effort, many other countries have caught the buzz and started offering highly competitive subsidies to Hollywood. Now Canadian film workers are looking pensively forward to the third act, and wondering whether Canada can maintain its advantage.

Hollywood's tent-pole films live and die by their success in reaching an international mass audience of adolescents and those content to regress along with them for two hours. This has put del Toro, a wunderkind who started making horror home movies as a youngster, in the sweet spot. Having scaled the ladder of cult classics, critical picks, audience favourites and franchise home runs, the relentlessly inventive filmmaker now commands the kind of budget it takes to mount an international blockbuster.

For a film industry like Canada's, toiling forever in the shadow of the behemoth to the south, the blockbuster is a beast that's easy to love. In what is now a highly globalized industry, the blockbuster occupies a huge variety of high-paying talent wherever it roams, and raises the profile of production centres like Toronto--the third-largest in North America, after L.A. and New York--as readily as it razes buildings on screen. In 2011, the film and television sector generated $9.7 billion in direct GDP in Canada; workers earned $6.4 billion in income, and produced nearly $5.5 billion in tax revenue. Del Toro's latest contribution to the genre, Pacific Rim, cost $190 million to make, most of which was spent in Toronto.

It's no surprise that these movies are so sought after. In 2012-'13, Canadian film and television production generated $2.3 billion in export value, of which three-quarters ($1.7 billion) was for Hollywood and other foreign production. Del Toro's productions alone have spent hundreds of millions in Ontario in the last three years, much of that on labour. This past year, the industry supported 127,700 direct and spinoff full-time equivalent jobs.

"Film and TV at this time are significant engines of growth for many other creative sectors," says Jonathan Olsberg of the U.K. firm Olsberg SPI, which offers advice to media organizations and companies, including the Canadian Media Production Association, the national trade association for independent producers. Olsberg points out that investment in film production has more of a multiplier effect than other cultural industries, creating work for writers, composers, musicians, programmers, advertisers and designers of every stripe.

But despite the logistical complexity of the major Hollywood productions, involving hundreds of people in many different sectors, the jobs have a tendency to float away. And as film workers in California have discovered, there's very little on the expense sheet to tie them down.

British Columbia was one of the first jurisdictions to benefit from the portability of film and television production, when producer Stephen J. Cannell (The A-Team, 21 Jump Street) moved his studio to Vancouver in the mid-'80s to take advantage of Canadian tax shelters. More American producers began to bring their productions north, and in 1996 the Canadian government introduced two federal tax credits--one to support domestic filmmakers, and the other to entice foreign producers. The new system largely resolved the inefficiencies of the previous tax-shelter system, in which often only 40% of the financing actually made its way into the film. "There's a trend globally toward a more direct, transparent production-cost rebate, which Canada practically invented," says Olsberg.

The tax credits in Canada offer a rebate on a percentage of labour (some of the provincial credits also refund other qualified production costs), which the producer can access once the project is completed. Since there's no cap on the credit and it's available for all productions over $1 million shot in Canada, banks will reliably lend on it up front, which means that producers can treat it like capital. The incentives are greater for domestic productions, but ultimately the majority of production dollars that claim the credits are from abroad.

But now more than 30 other countries are vying for that big Hollywood spend. Nineteen of those started or significantly boosted their incentive programs in the last five years, five of them in 2013 alone. American states other than the traditional production hubs of California and New York have also been very active in pursuing Hollywood. Louisiana was the first state to institute a tax incentive in 2002, and by 2010 43 states were offering subsidies at an estimated collective value of $1.5 billion (U.S.). But as the effects of the 2008 recession unfolded, six states subsequently jettisoned their programs.

Some American states have offered types of incentives that Canada has eschewed, such as rebates on income paid to non-residents. The Ontario government won't reimburse a percentage of Tom Cruise's salary if he acts in a film shot in the province, for example, but Georgia will. Many of the American tax credits are also transferable, an option that has led to the creation of a thriving secondary market for tax credits, whereby any company (for instance, Macy's and Bank of America) can purchase unused credits. A film qualifies for the credit, and then the producer sells it at a discount to a taxpayer or a corporation with a liability in that particular state. We have no such cottage industry in Canada, but it can be an appealing way for producers to get their money up front, not to mention a way for brokers to skim off the top.

All that competition is putting more and more pressure on Canadian provinces to increase their incentives, creating what some have called a "race to the bottom." A few jurisdictions are starting to falter.

British Columbia was one of the first provinces to put the brakes on its subsidies. The province, which primarily serves the American television industry and has built up more than a billion dollars worth of infrastructure over the course of several decades, has refused to match increases in Ontario and Quebec in recent years, and has seen a stark drop in foreign productions--often referred to in Canada as "service productions"--as a result, leading to the loss of 3,500 direct and spinoff jobs. Production in B.C. has since returned to rates comparable to the previous high point in 2006, but many in the province complain that so long as Ontario offers a better incentive, Los Angeles companies accustomed to the ease of working in Vancouver will nonetheless head east. "Tax credits are part of the puzzle, but they're not the entire puzzle," says Richard Brownsey, CEO of Creative B.C., the recently reconceived B.C. film commission. "You've got to be able to compete on the service you provide, and our success depends on that whole package."

Anxious film and television workers in B.C. have somewhat less to worry about, however, now that Quebec has shaved 20% off of its various tax credits for business this past June, which for foreign film and television producers means a drop from 25% (Ontario's current rate) of all qualified expenses to 20%. This is the first time in 16 years that Quebec has lagged behind Ontario in its subsidy offering to foreign productions. Charles David, an accountant with more than 30 years' experience consulting on film production and distribution in Quebec, says, "The moment we offer a program that's not as competitive as Toronto or Vancouver, it sends people away."

David points out that Quebec has some disadvantages compared to Vancouver and Toronto: fewer flights to L.A., a dearth of English-speaking extras. "We already have an industry that's more fragile," he says. "Handicapping it with a lower tax [credit]--it's a kiss of death." When we spoke just a few weeks after the announcement, David already knew of one big production that was threatening to move to Ontario as a result, and had heard from several post-production studios that indicated they'd have to learn to cut corners if they were to continue in Quebec.

If Quebec film and television workers are pessimistic about their economic outlook, it's still no match for the despair in Saskatchewan when Premier Brad Wall cancelled his province's tax credit outright in 2012. "There was no consultation or due diligence done. It was just a clean swipe with a pen," says filmmaker Holly Baird, former president of the Saskatchewan Media Production Industry Association.

The elimination of the credit--valued at 55% of labour expenditures in the province--immediately levelled the local production industry. The SMPIA claimed hundreds of members before the cut but has since dwindled to a few dozen. The Canada Saskatchewan Production Studios, once the only purpose-built sound stage between Toronto and Vancouver, is now primarily occupied by the offices of Creative Saskatchewan, which administers a modest grant program for local productions.

As all three of B.C., Quebec and Saskatchewan have made abundantly clear, the provincial credits are intrinsically vulnerable to post-recession austerity measures and political jockeying. "The criticism of the credit was that it was taxpayers' money going to fund projects coming in from out of town. Taking the money and running, basically," says Baird of the sudden termination of the credit in Saskatchewan.

Ontario has offered a stable tax incentive to Hollywood, but the province's value proposition extends beyond subsidies. "We don't have the richest tax credits; we simply have competitive tax credits," explains James Weyman, manager of industry initiatives at the Ontario Media Development Corp. "Ontario's value proposition is more than the tax credit; there's lots of jurisdictions with flashy tax credits, but they don't have infrastructures in place." It's these practical offerings--which, when absent, constitute hidden costs--that have appealed to del Toro and made him want to set up shop here.

"Del Toro is Toronto's unofficial ambassador," says Weyman. "I think that endorsement is a positive factor for those who don't know Ontario's value proposition in taking us more seriously."

No doubt the new subsidies played a significant role in precipitating del Toro's first visit to Canada in 1997, just one year after the tax credits were introduced, to make Mimic, a horror movie about shape-shifting insects that take human form. Such was the appeal for a studio like Miramax to send its upand-coming Mexican filmmaker to spend $30 million (U.S.) making a horror movie in chilly Toronto: an 11% rebate on money paid to Canadian workers (since then it's been raised to 16%), a dollar trading at $0.73 (U.S.), and a cheaper version of New York in which to shoot. It was del Toro's first time working for one of the big five studios and he had a miserable time of it, but fell in love with Toronto. "It's one of the best film towns in the world," he says, naming "professional and artistic efficiency and commitment" among its winning attributes.

Now that he's back in Toronto all these years later, it seems like he's here to stay. "It's an eminently livable city," he says. His family has moved up from L.A., and though his hectic schedule keeps him pinballing from sound stage to shooting location to production studio, he takes his solitary work to a little office in the Leslieville neighbourhood. He even has a version of his famous Bleak House, the private museum of curiosities and horror-osities that he uses for inspiration. "Mini-Bleak", he calls it.

Torontonians are happy to have him, but del Toro has received his best welcome at Pinewood Studios, the state-of-the-art production facility in the city's east-end factory district. Pinewood opened in 2009 for the express purpose of drawing tent-pole productions to Toronto. A sprawling facility with a dozen high-tech sound stages, it has already proven its ability to impact the local production economy. The Total Recall remake was shot at Pinewood the same year del Toro made Pacific Rim, causing a dramatic spike in the amount of foreign feature-film production money left in Ontario that year, up to $231 million from $159 million in 2010.

Pinewood claims to offer the largest purpose-built sound stage in North America. (There are converted warehouses and hangars that are larger, even elsewhere in Toronto, but they don't boast Pinewood's load-bearing or soundproofing capabilities.) It is 46,000 square feet, or one acre of land, with no pillars, and 60 feet to the ceiling. Del Toro shot some of Pacific Rim here. The same year, a giant elevator plunged through the centre of the Earth and exploded up from the floor to create the climax for the Total Recall remake. On the day I visited, a network of thick scaffolding spanned the room in various configurations, with the verticals in bright green and horizontals in a red that will be familiar to fans of classic video games--this is the world of Donkey Kong, under construction for the set of Pixels, a comedy sci-fi starring Adam Sandler. It is Sony's second production in Toronto since Total Recall.

Pinewood as a company chases tax credits internationally, and it has grown as quickly as the competition for tent-pole productions. Founded in 1936, the U.K. company added five locations in the last five years: Toronto and Berlin in 2009, and since then Malaysia, the Dominican Republic and the state of Georgia, all subsidy hot spots. "We're in the infrastructure business," says Eoin Egan, vice-president of Pinewood International. "You can't wave a wand and go, 'I want to be Hollywood.' It doesn't work like that. You need a full complement of crew, you need a good incentive, and you need infrastructure. If you're missing any part of the puzzle, you're not going to succeed."

But even with all those elements in place, no regional industry can live on tent-poles alone. Like the industry as a whole, Pinewood needs to support a range of activities in order to keep the lights on. "The nature of the business is very cyclical," says Blake Steels, president of Pinewood Toronto Studios. "The bigger the productions you're trying to attract, the bigger the peaks and valleys. The smaller productions and TV series make the curve less dangerous for us." For this reason, the studio invites independent producers to use the stages between Hollywood productions. David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis shot in Pinewood in 2011, and Atom Egoyan's The Captive shot there last year. As well as film, the studio hosts Canadian TV series like The Listener, and Space's phenomenally successful Orphan Black will move into the Pinewood complex for its next season.

Pinewood's division of customers reflects the deeper trend of mega-vs.-modest polarization that has overtaken the film industry. "There used to be a world of $40- to $60-million movies, but that pretty much doesn't exist any more," says producer Martin Katz. His latest project, Cronenberg's Maps to the Stars, had a budget of $15 million, which makes it a fairsized independent movie (the average budget of a Canadian feature is $4 million).

"It is those $100-million-plus movies that are competing for the $1-billion world box office gross that have changed the economics of the film business," Katz explains. Avatar, released in 2009, is the usual example given for this shift in scale: It cost $250 million (U.S.) to make and grossed $2.7 billion (U.S.) at the worldwide box office. While theatre attendance has declined in North America, emerging markets in Russia and China especially now outweigh the domestic box office, and big studio productions earn the better part of their revenue abroad. This fact better explains the reductionism in Hollywood storytelling than any morose cultural narratives: Blockbusters need to appeal to wildly disparate audiences across the entire planet in order to get made at all. If big-budget movies seem to be dumbing down, it's probably not because we're in societal decline; it's just that overcoming so many cultural differences at once means shedding some of the nuances and embracing a more elemental style of storytelling.

When it comes to this aspect of internationalization, del Toro's natural advantages come to the fore, as was demonstrated by Pacific Rim's success in Asia. "It connected very strongly both in Japan and China," del Toro says. "In both countries, the contact with the audience was coming from a very primal place for me." The movie is based on tropes from the anime and manga that del Toro consumed as a kid--giant robots and monsters, here pitched in a battle for the fate of the Earth.

Del Toro doesn't worry about accusations of pandering. He quotes Picasso, who said, "'It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.' When you're a child, you don't censor yourself. You just express who you are and what you are freely. That's creatively very important," he says. In a business that relies on adolescents, it's also fiscally important, which in del Toro's case is more a product of good fortune than commercial cunning. "I'm not that great a businessman; I just stay true to what I like," he says, pointing out that Pacific Rim is one of only two movies he's done where he hasn't had to pour part of his own salary back into the movie to get it completed.

Del Toro's commitment to authenticity has also allowed him to work on both sides of the industry and do projects with all kinds of budgets (though he admits, "I've never found myself in a movie where my ambition is smaller than the budget"). While he was making Pacific Rim for $190 million (U.S.), he was also working simultaneously down the hall on Mama, a Canada-Spain co-production with a budget of $15 million (U.S.). Between the two movies, del Toro used every single stage at Toronto's Pinewood Studios, occupying the entire facility for 10 months during 2011 and 2012. Every day during production, he'd work on Mama from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., then put in a full day on Pacific Rim, and return to Mama in the evening.

It paid off. Both of these movies achieved the kind of success that filmmakers in their respective budget streams only dream of. In the case of del Toro's banner year in 2013, Pacific Rim earned $411 million at the international box office, while Mama did well by indie standards at $146 million. That Mama is a Canadian movie attests to the internationalization of the industry. Written and directed by an Argentinian, executive-produced by a Mexican, it nonetheless fulfilled the relevant requirements and qualified for the domestic tax credit.

Del Toro's co-producer on Mama was J. Miles Dale, a go-to guy for big studio pictures looking to film in Canada, such as The Thing and Carrie, both shot at Pinewood. Dale helped negotiate the deal for Mama with UPI, Universal's international division. "They thought that kind of elevated genre movie with a Guillermo presence for marketing made sense at a certain price," he explains. But tapping both Spanish and Canadian incentives is what launched the movie out of the gate. "Tax credits are good, but co-productions can be better," says Dale.

Canada has co-production treaties with more than 50 countries, allowing Canadian filmmakers to secure financing from a wider pool of investors and punch above their weight on the international market. A co-production with Germany, for example, gives the Canadian filmmaker a chance to cast stars from any EU country, as well as get financing from that country and a better distribution deal. "They're what's keeping me here," says producer Don Carmody of the co-production deals. Carmody, who bills himself as "Hollywood's man in Canada," uses the treaties to make the sort of franchise films that would normally require backing from a big studio. His Resident Evil, Silent Hill and Mortal Instruments movies are all made with the domestic tax credit.

Reliance on international financing has made Canadian filmmaking harder to identify, though a name like Cronenberg or Egoyan at the top can make it easier. The former's Maps to the Stars, making its North American premiere this month at the Toronto International Film Festival, is a Canadian-German co-production. (Somewhat ironically, it's set in Hollywood.) Apart from incentives in those two countries and private financing, Katz made up a good portion of the film's budget through foreign pre-sales.

"The film is intellectual property, so what I own as the producer is a bundle of exploitation rights which I can divide up by territory," he says. "So I'm looking to raise as much money as I need to make the movie--hire the crews, rent the cameras, do the editing--and it's my job to do those things by pre-selling as few of those rights in the worldwide territories as I need to in order to get the movie made, with the unsold rights left to be exploited as profit after the movie is made."

The challenge for Canadian producers is holding on to those rights; often, they'll need to sell off most of the film's asset value in order to get the picture made. "A consistent syndrome in many territories is that independent producers feel that there's a very low probability that they'll ever see anything again, no matter how successful the film is," says Olsberg. As a result, it can be very difficult for Canadian producers to build up equity to invest in the next project and so retain some of the valuable distribution rights.

All the complicated international financing required to put an independent Canadian movie together doesn't leave much for marketing. As the old slow rollout into different markets has condensed into one blowout global opening weekend, the big studios need to spend enormous sums to market a blockbuster everywhere at once. The international marketing spend is often equal to the production budget itself; thus, a typical tent-pole film must earn twice what it cost just to break even. By contrast, in 2011 the average marketing budget for films supported by Telefilm, which administers the Canada Feature Film Fund as well as more than $360 million in other media funding, was only $610,026.

You can't pack theatres around the world on half a million dollars, so producers like Katz look to another form of promotion: film festivals. Toronto International Film Festival CEO Piers Handling has watched the evolution of Canadian film since he started programming for the festival in 1982, especially the evaporation of middle-budget filmmaking. "Film festivals have become an alternative exhibition and distribution model for much of this independent production," he says. "The rise and abundance of festivals around the world is essentially its own ecosystem." Katz is banking on a good reception for Maps to the Stars, which already won two awards at Cannes this spring. "It really has become a critically important festival for fall theatrical releases," he says.

Even though the polarization of the industry is pushing studio and independent films into separate spheres of financing and distribution, one aspect of production reaches across both sides of the rift: visual effects. Digital augmentation is now indispensable to virtually every production, even TV shows and independent films lacking in epic heroes or large-scale societal devastation. VFX production in Canada grew by 67% between 2009 and 2011, and has continued to rise reliably since then.

Perhaps the most portable of all the production sectors, VFX has experienced the greatest demand, the fastest growth and the biggest upsets. Many of the most venerable American studios have gone bankrupt in the last 10 years and been purchased by international companies, largely to take advantage of tax credits or cheaper labour in their home jurisdictions. Most famously, the long-running studio Rhythm & Hues went under just weeks before receiving an Oscar for its magical work on Life of Pi.

The Canadian industry has done well by the digital dissolution south of the border. In May, Sony announced its visualeffects studio Imageworks would move headquarters to Vancouver, employing up to 700. For his part, del Toro relies on Mr. X, a world-renowned studio with roughly 180 employees spread through a series of offices on a quiet Toronto street. Mr. X, the largest VFX studio in Ontario, made the digital sequences for del Toro's Mama as well as Carmody's Resident Evil movies, along with other Toronto-made blockbusters like RoboCop. The firm also provided the visual effects for del Toro's vampire TV series The Strain, and it's currently working on his upcoming film Crimson Peak, also shot in Ontario.

Walking in to meet Mr. X president Dennis Berardi, I pass rows of mostly young men, all gazing intently at various constellations of monitors. No one is talking on the phone or milling about chatting. The lighting is warm and dim, and there's a library-quality hush.

The atmosphere of calm efficiency is no accident. "We started to hit our stride about five years ago when we pivoted the company from a generalist workflow, where everyone did a bit of everything, to a specialist work line," says Berardi. The move allowed the company to take on larger products and offer lower prices. "I needed to do that because now we're getting offshore competition from everywhere: India, China, South Korea and Eastern Europe are emerging as potential powerhouses in animation and visual effects. We needed to be more productive or we wouldn't be able to compete."

Visual effects studios often suffer from directors' confused and overblown expectations. Because the work is intensely time-consuming, vague suggestions or impulsive afterthoughts can be devastating to the budget. Beyond breaking the workflow into component processes, Berardi has built the company's reputation for reliability by declining any work that sounds unrealistic, and by joining the production as early as possible on the planning side. He's found a good partner in del Toro, who has very detailed ideas of what he wants. "He always challenges us," Berardi says enthusiastically. "Every single time, he wants to see the visual reference we are using for inspiration." Del Toro will suggest an obscure painting for the type of sky he wants, and then expect to see it the next time he goes into the office.

Strolling through the studio, Berardi and I come across a designer digitizing ghosts for Crimson Peak. On his desk sits a monstrous blood-red latex head, created by del Toro as a character prototype. The studio scanned it for the designers to use in 3-D modelling. Across the hall, another designer is using that digital model to painstakingly animate the character, right down to the curve of its eyebrow. We watch the cumulative effect of all these tiny adjustments and meticulous rendering in one of the screening rooms. In a scene from The Strain, we see a man in a black hood jerk his head toward another character. Then the scene plays again with the visual effects added in, and suddenly a large stinger bursts from his mouth and plunges into the neck of his victim. It's gruesome, and in a world glutted with vampire stories, unlike anything I've seen before.

Del Toro's uniqueness isn't fabricated; it's perfectly authentic, which is precisely what gives his movies enough heft to carry a Hollywood tent-pole film and all the independent Canadian films that rely on the kind of infrastructure those big productions generate. He's not jumping ship any time soon. "Basically, I'll bring as many movies and as many projects as I can to Toronto, because I really have a great time working here," he says.

He'll begin pre-production on a second Pacific Rim movie this fall. Del Toro will also continue his tradition of working both ends of the spectrum at once, making a tiny, black-andwhite feature alongside his blockbuster. In this, the resourceful director presents an approach that accurately reflects the current logic of the industry: big and little together. So long as the province holds on to its tax credits, Ontario's production studios will continue to be populated by Hollywood megapictures, international co-productions and every single one of del Toro's monsters.

Associated Graphic

Photograph by Christopher Wahl/Getty

Director Guillermo del Toro on the set of TV series The Strain in Toronto

photographs christopher wahl; sketch courtesy guillermo del toro's cabinet of curiosities/harpercollins publishers

Canada's visualeffects business is booming. Toronto studio Mr. X, of which Dennis Berardi is president, has worked on del Toro projects like Pacific Rim

Pinewood Studios executives Blake Steels (left) and Eoin Egan at the company's Toronto sound stage

Facing a fate as digital roadkill, Canada Post has pivoted to champion e-commerce. Who better to help Amazon take over the world?
Friday, August 29, 2014 – Print Edition, Page P36

THE GIANT JUMBLE OF ITEMS IN the oversized-package sorting area at Canada post's pacific processing Centre at Vancouver International Airport includes a large box of fortune cookies destined for Calgary, a motorcycle tire on its way to Victoria, a trapezoidal box from beijing and a massage table for someone in edmonton. but it was the naked steel torso of a truck muffler, on its way from London, Ontario, to a customer in Departure bay, b.C., that caught the attention of rod Hart, Canada post's general manager for domestic parcels. "that just might be the ugliest thing we'll ship today," Hart chuckles. "still, somebody out there will be thrilled to get it."

Hart was winding his way from the new $200-million centre's main control room, which is perched like an alternative control tower above the airport's main runway, toward the Asia-Pacific inbound airmail sorting area, the epicentre of the huge plant. The facility, Hart explained as he watched a multitrack conveyor system stream parcels--many sporting labels from Amazon, Hudson's Bay Co., Best Buy and eBay--through a battery of photo-scanning devices, is the western counterpart to an evenlarger sister plant near Toronto Pearson International Airport. Although both locations handle large volumes of letter mail, they were designed primarily for parcels. That emphasis is part of a historic pivot under way at Canada Post: The company, as Hart puts it, is quickly moving from a focus on "mail with some parcels, to parcels with some mail."

More than 30,000 parcels arrive by air here daily from Asia, many of them containing small electronic items shipped directly from factories to online customers across Canada. "We're seeing explosive growth in inbound parcels from Asia," Hart says, noting that parcel traffic driven by online shopping is growing 30% annually. "It's unbelievable what Canadians are ordering online."

Hart's excitement about Canada Post's huge new investment in the acres of highly automated parcel handling systems surrounding him was palpable. But the logic behind the investment was sober: Despite rumours to the contrary, the post office is not dead yet. What the Internet can take, reasons Canada Post CEO Deepak Chopra, it can also give: Even as e-mail devours his company's traditional letter-delivering business, e-commerce is spawning vast new opportunities. Under Chopra's direction, a piece of nation-building infrastructure legally mandated to tie together 15.5 million addresses across half a continent is morphing into an e-commerce company. "Our plan," explains Chopra, "aims to transform our business by helping other businesses transform themselves."

For proof that salvation is at hand, Chopra, who was recruited in 2011 from postal technology powerhouse Pitney Bowes, points to a crucial set of numbers at Canada Post, a federal Crown corporation with 66,000 employees. Against 2013 revenues of $7.6 billion, postal operations lost $269 million. That is not so surprising given that paper mail volume also shrank 4.8% during the year. But meanwhile Canada Post's revenues from its top e-commerce customers grew about 30%, propelling its $1.4-billion consumer parcel business to deliver 7% revenue growth, generating an extra $93 million. Canada Post also earned $66 million in pretax profit from its 91% stake in Purolator, which dominates business-to-business parcel shipping and is Canada's largest courier company. A further $179 million in revenue flowed from SCI Group, Canada Post's technology and logistics company--which is itself increasingly devoted to servicing online retailers. On the whole, Canada Post Group (the post office and its main subsidiaries) lost $193 million in 2013, its third consecutive year of losses. Back in 2010, thanks in part to a $2.1-billion multiyear program to modernize its mail service, Canada Post reported its 16th consecutive year of profitability, with a 22% return on equity that year. Between 1997 and 2008, Canada Post delivered about half a billion dollars to the federal government in return on capital and dividends.

Last December, Canada Post announced--with the tacit blessing of its owner, the Government of Canada--that it is replacing door-to-door residential mail delivery with community mailboxes. It remains a bitterly contested strategy for the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and no small number of customers, and it represents a profound shift for a company with a long tradition of universal public service that has racked up about $1 billion in federally backed debt since 2009 to modernize that service.

To survive the decline of snail mail, Chopra reasons, Canada Post must outcompete the world's most efficient, agile and profit-driven parcel delivery companies, including FedEx, DHL and UPS. The field of battle is increasingly defined by the growth and ambition of Amazon, the hydra of e-commerce that is gunning for control over seemingly every facet of life.

Heading a company that, after all, has been a weather vane for technological change throughout Canadian history--evolving mail-sorting from manual to digital, and delivery from horsepower to jet power--Chopra insists e-commerce is the right focus for the future. "It's something we can win," he asserts with the mien of a man on a mission. "When I started asking our people if they'd hugged a parcel today, they always laughed," Chopra grins. "But this is our future."

No subject currently galvanizes--and divides--Canadian retailers like e-commerce. One camp holds that e-commerce is simply a good complement to over-thecounter sales, and even boosts it. Then there are the evangelists, like Sam Sebastian, head of Google Canada, who had this to say (or, rather, tweet) during Store 2014, the Retail Council of Canada's conference, held in June in Toronto: "You have to cannibalize your core business to go after the next best thing. Make that your business model."

The preoccupation with e-commerce found on the conference's Twitter feed was of more than anecdotal significance, confirms Diane Brisebois, the Retail Council's CEO. Sales at online businesses worldwide totalled $1.25 trillion (U.S.) last year, up from $1.06 trillion (U.S.) in 2012, she notes, citing data from EMarketer, an American research consultancy. In Canada, e-commerce sales will grow about 10% annually to $33.8 billion in 2018, up from $20.6 billion in 2013, according to a forecast from Forrester Research Inc., while online sales as a proportion of total Canadian retail sales will grow to 10% in 2018 from 7% last year.

In just a handful of years, says Brisebois, the digital technology that drives e-commerce "has gone from evolutionary to revolutionary. I've never seen anything so disruptive." The last big shock to reshape Canadian retail, she notes, was the advent of price-choppers like Walmart and Costco. That invasion resulted in the demise of untold numbers of smaller-scale retailers unable to compete with the behemoths' rock-bottom pricing and massive marketing and logistical resources. But the impacts of e-commerce, Brisebois predicts, will be even grander in scale because Canadian consumers are now able to shop globally and--in large part thanks to the efforts of Canada Post and its network of more than 6,300 postal stations--receive their purchases overnight, often without paying shipping charges.

As retailers direct their investments toward online, they are, inevitably, reducing the number of stores, and shrinking the size of the stores that remain open. There is no better example of the change than those retailers rooted in the antique business of stationery: This year, Staples announced it was closing 225 stores continentally in order to concentrate on e-commerce; Grand & Toy, a Canadian competitor, closed its remaining 19 outlets for the same reason.

But Brisebois believes traditional shopping will survive: She predicts e-commerce will accelerate the transformation of stores into venues that combine entertainment and hands-on shopping. It's true, she says, that stores have been hurt by "showrooming," in which shoppers visit stores only to inspect the products they will later purchase online from whichever vendor is cheapest. But there's also "webrooming"--when shoppers identify products online but purchase them from stores. "It's still experimental," Brisebois cautions, but the early evidence suggests that investments in digital marketing can expand store sales, "if the marriage of e-commerce with the store experience is done well."

Few companies are trying harder to make this marriage work than Hudson's Bay Co. "Driving digital growth," says CEO Richard Baker, is HBC's top strategic goal--one that is increasingly embedded in all its business decisions. When HBC bought iconic U.S. retailer Saks Fifth Avenue last year for $2.9 billion (U.S.), Baker says, one of the key reasons "was to gain access to its worldclass online experts."

To help pay for recent investments in online marketing and distribution facilities, Baker explains, the company is "unlocking" its real estate holdings through deals like last year's $650-million saleand-leaseback of its Toronto flagship store and an adjacent office tower. But a future in which HBC sells its stores and migrates its retail business online is a vision that Baker rejects: Sales online are similarly profitable to sales in stores, he argues. Customers who shop online but pick up their purchases in stores often purchase more while visiting. The company's focus on e-commerce, he claims, "is not going to negatively impact on stores. It will positively impact on them."

For shareholders in HBC--and shareholders in other retailers that likewise have billions tied up in real estate and leases, Baker's vision of a happy marriage between online and in-store sales is a soothing one. Willy Kruh, head of global consumer markets at consultants KPMG, agrees with Baker that "bricks-and-mortar stores are not going away any time soon." For evidence, he points to Canadian Tire, which is aggressively joining e-commerce and its network of stores.

And none too soon. The volume of online shopping is growing fast, Kruh adds, with Amazon in particular relentlessly driving online sales through cut-throat cost competition, expanded inventories and distribution networks (the company has opened three massive distribution centres in Canada since 2010), and technological advances including the integration of shopping-centric software into its recently launched line of smartphones. There's even a futuristic push to deliver products via drones.

"Amazon is going to carry 85% of what you need," Kruh forecasts. "And the product, pricing and delivery speed is already incredible." The challenge for traditional retailers with networks of costly stores and staff to sustain, is undeniable, he warns. But for shippers like Canada Post, intent on delivering the wares that Canadians purchase online, Kruh emphasizes, "the prize is huge. E-commerce is only at 5% of retail sales so far in this country. And still only 60% of Canadians have smartphones. The landscape is wide open."

It wasn't until Nancy Morison, chief operating officer of Clearly Contacts, Canada's largest online retailer of contact lenses and prescription glasses, had descended into the company's factory on the outskirts of Vancouver that she mentioned that the building had once served as a warehouse for Eaton's--the department store chain that was an icon of Canadian retail for more than a century, in large part thanks to a mail-order business that relied on Canada Post. But Morison, who came to Clearly Contacts with a background in small parcel logistics gained at DHL, wasn't going to dwell on the irony of an online retailer occupying the onetime home of a traditional retailer. "E-commerce is the future," was her only comment.

Clearly Contacts, which has been growing its sales volumes 20% year-over-year for well over a decade and now sits on a global customer list of six million, offers compelling evidence Morison may well be right. The company, founded in a Vancouver basement in 2000 with a desktop computer, a modem and $5,000 on a credit card, was bought by a French rival last February for $435 million.

On a tour of the factory, where employees were filling orders for contact lenses and glasses, Morison emphasizes Clearly Contacts' heavy investment in manufacturing equipment, and the extremely exacting production processes that have helped it win 95% of the Canadian online optical market. But the real secret of its success, she adds, was its ability to speedily move contact lenses from manufacturers on the U.S. east coast to its Vancouver plant and then onward to retail customers across Canada and around the world. "People almost always order contacts when they are out," she explains. "Speed is far more important to what we do than, say, for a shoe retailer.

We won our market share in Canada with speed." And Canada Post, with its dramatically upgraded logistical prowess, Morison freely admits, deserves considerable credit for that.

After years of indifferent service, Morison says that since 2010 Canada Post has paid slavishly close attention to Clearly Contacts' needs, giving it access to Canada Post's massive database of addresses for in-house labelling, and utilizing its close links with international postal systems, its huge retail network and its real-time customer parcel-tracking system. Add these offerings to the access that Canada Post enjoys to apartment buildings and condos, Morison adds, and suddenly the post office started to seem indispensable. The relationship is partly responsible for Clearly Contacts' recent decision to offer its customers free shipping. "They've done a very good job," she says of Canada Post. "It's turned out they have a lot of things in play. They've transformed themselves into a technology company with some very slick things to offer."

Stephen Gordon, director of multichannel logistics for Best Buy Canada, shares Morison's obsession with speed. "It's not just about free shipping," he says. "It's free shipping and you get it the next day." This observation came during a stroll around a vast distribution centre in Richmond, B.C., operated by Ingram Micro, a U.S.-based technology and supply chain giant. At its Richmond facility, Ingram Micro services U.S.based Best Buy's Canadian e-commerce operations, which include those of its subsidiary Future Shop, Canada's largest retailer and "e-tailer" of consumer electronics. As with Clearly Contacts, Gordon says online sales volumes have been growing at least 20% annually for the past five years.

Canada Post is obviously intent on making itself indispensable not just to Best Buy but to all Canadian e-tailers. After successfully piloting a same-day delivery experiment in the Greater Toronto Area last Christmas, Gordon notes, Canada Post made the service permanent and is now expanding it to the Vancouver region. The service, which included weekend delivery during the Christmas rush, is based on a mastery of logistics that some would have once found unimaginable at Canada Post. "We could choose any carrier," Gordon explains, "but they deliver to every postal code in the country every day and they also have thousands of post offices where customers can pick up parcels. A customer in the GTA can make a purchase at noon and get delivery the same evening."

But Canada Post's ambitions, says Gordon, go far beyond mere mastery of logistics. Increasingly, he explains, Canada Post is becoming a handmaiden helping companies like his own to diversify their product offerings into what he calls "the endless aisle"--an aisle containing not just what's on the shelves but what can be delivered in short order. "We're using our relationship with Canada Post to expand our network of suppliers," Gordon says. It was with Canada Post's help that Best Buy began selling child-care products from Evenflo Co. "We were the first company into the e-commerce market in Canada, and we quickly learned that you have to continuously expand your vendor networks. Canada Post also understands that."

In pursuing its own e-commerce opportunities, reflects Chopra, Canada Post is now immersed in an ever-broadening range of efforts to stimulate e-commerce itself. These include its growing collaboration with Ottawa-based Shopify, whose simple, low-cost software products have helped more than 10,000 Canadian e-tailers establish online sales channels that can be integrated with Canada Post technologies and services. (This effort might be Canada Post's best defence against the argument that it will help the Amazons of the world destroy the Main Street businesses that it once served and relied on.) As the winners among these ventures flourish, Chopra reasons, so too will Canada Post. Harley Finkelstein, Shopify's chief platform officer, credits Chopra with recognizing his company's potential to invigorate and extend e-commerce: "Deepak seems to understand the future of retail," he says. "This is not the Canada Post your grandmother knew."

The Canada Post E-commerce Innovation Awards is another of Chopra's gambits aimed at energizing e-commerce as a whole, and capitalizing on that growth. Launched in 2012, the Awards offer more than $1 million in free Canada Post services as prizes for companies that are "changing the online retail landscape through entrepreneurship, creativity, strategy and innovation" by "building a better online shopper experience" and "driving the Canadian e-commerce industry forward." Winners last year included home improvement giant Lowe's Canada, and online personal products retailer By hosting the Awards, Canada Post placed itself at the centrepoint of e-commerce in Canada, says Chopra. The ultimate aim, he explains, "is to create an ecosystem of partners that become our evangelists."

With more than 50,000 posties looking over his shoulder, Denis Lemelin, president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, chooses his battles with great care. Which is why he first applauds Chopra's e-commerce strategy before denouncing his single-minded pursuit of it. "We have always supported the strategy to grow the parcel business, and we have enthusiastically supported same-day delivery and seven-day delivery for parcels," Lemelin confirms. "But we cannot do this at the expense of the other services, especially door-to-door mail delivery for the public."

Lemelin worries that Canada Post is taking too big a risk: Consumer appetite for online shopping could prove more modest than Chopra hopes. And while Chopra's plan to phase out door-to-door residential mail delivery is intended to cut costs, he warns that it actually threatens to dramatically further diminish revenues from general mail, which generated $3 billion in operating revenue in 2013, as well as from direct mail from advertisers, which delivered another $1.2 billion.

With its government-conferred monopoly over the letter business and its catalytic role in community and business development, publicly owned Canada Post has an obligation to provide universal service--which translates into providing residents, businesses and communities with door-todoor delivery, Lemelin argues. Once large numbers of people are forced to brave the elements to retrieve mail from Chopra's community mailboxes, Lemelin believes, Chopra may be forced to retreat. "We'll push it as an election issue, as a political fight," he warns. "Canada Post has a duty not just to serve big corporations."

Rather than betting the future so heavily on e-commerce, Lemelin suggests the company revisit its historic role, abandoned with the closure of the Post Office Savings Bank in 1968, as a financial services provider. "There are numerous examples from around the world indicating that with our retail network, this is the way to go," he argues. A survey of international postal banking by researcher Katherine Steinhoff and Geoff Bickerton, the union's research director, reinforces the idea. France's La Banque Postale, created in 2006, has emerged as a major financial institution, with 10.6 million customers, Bickerton notes. Powered by a government mandate to combat the exclusion of rural and marginalized customers by mainstream banks, La Banque Postale has paid ¤1 billion in dividends to La Poste from 2008 to 2012. Similarly startling figures come from New Zealand, where Kiwibank, created in 2002 in part to serve marginalized customers, now delivers nearly 80% of postal profits.

Bickerton has no shortage of other examples. In Italy, the postal bank earned net profits of ¤343 million, or 33% of Post Italiane Group's profits in 2012. In Switzerland, the postal bank delivered 70% of Swiss Post's income that year. Similarly, financial services brought in 61% of India Post's total revenue. Brazil's postal company recently trained 18,000 clerks to handle an expanding portfolio of banking services. With about $2 trillion in deposits, Japan Post Bank is one of the largest publicly owned banks in the world.

Last year, the United States Postal Service's Office of the Inspector General issued a report urging the Obama administration to help save USPS by allowing it to provide non-bank financial services. "One in four U.S. households lives at least partially outside the financial mainstream," the inspector general's report states, while predicting the USPS could turn a profit by offering basic services like cheque-cashing, bill payments and small loans. The report, which has been adamantly rejected by two U.S. bankers' associations, points out that more than 90% of bank branches closed since 2008 are in lower-income towns and neighbourhoods where post offices generally continue to operate.

The conditions for a postal bank may be similarly ripe in Canada, says Bickerton. "There is a growing unease about the state of financial and banking services in Canada," he argues, noting that Canada had 1,759 fewer bank branches in 2013 than in 1990, with most of the closures occurring in rural and low-income areas. Financialservice corporations in Canada made an average 23% profit margin in recent years compared to an average 7% profit margin for firms in non-financial industries, Bickerton adds, while citing a 2005 Library of Parliament study that endorsed a postal bank, an idea Chopra's predecessor, Moya Greene (now head of the U.K.'s Royal Mail), told Parliament she thought worth studying in 2010. An April, 2014, poll conducted for the postal union indicated 63.5% of Canadians would support Canada Post expanding revenue-generating services, including financial services like bill payments, insurance and banking.

Chopra is not one of them. In a letter to the union last February, he explained that after closely studying the issue, Canada Post concluded it is "oversimplistic" to assume banking can solve the company's woes. "We cannot afford to make major investments in postal banking when its ability to generate enough revenue is questionable. That would expose us to incredible risk," he wrote.

The Canada Post pickup at Mountain Equipment Co-op's downtown Toronto store is scheduled for 3 p.m. each day. To prepare for it, four staff spend each morning sorting through online purchase orders, selecting the purchased items from the store's inventory and then packing them up and labelling them using software integrated with Canada Post's national address database. They handle about 300 such purchases daily--with products ranging from batteries to baby strollers. Canada Post doesn't (yet) handle the orders for kayaks and canoes.

Under an e-commerce strategy known as "ship from store," the Toronto team handles all the purchases from addresses that Canada Post's Toronto operations can reach within one or two days. Purchases from addresses closer to other MEC stores are handled by those stores.

Working in lockstep with Canada Post, explains MEC's manager of omni-channel sales and service, Kevin Baggs, MEC expects its e-commerce volume will soon surpass that of its busiest stores. "A year ago, the big fear was showrooming--people coming in, checking prices and then ordering from Amazon," he explains. The only way to win in this environment, says Baggs, is to provide fast, inexpensive delivery. In MEC's case, deliveries are free for purchases over $50. "I've got every carrier on the planet calling up to quote on the business," he says. "For service and infrastructure, [Canada Post] is one of the very few that offer end-to-end service."

Seen from Baggs's perspective, Canada Post now plays an increasingly instrumental role as MEC's fight intensifies with other e-tailers--especially Amazon, which has added 16 new product categories including groceries and beauty supplies in Canada since 2013. This raises questions about Amazon's potentially paradoxical relationship with Canada Post. Although Amazon does rely on Canada Post for some of its deliveries, notes parcel manager Rod Hart, it also works with other carriers, while constantly benchmarking their competitiveness in order to discipline them on price and performance. Like everyone else in the e-commerce world, Amazon is fixated on delivery speed: In the U.S., it is gunning to achieve same-day delivery for about 30% of the population by 2015, according to Marc Wulfraat, president of logistics consultants MWPVL International.

Meanwhile, Amazon is signalling (Amazon Canada declined to be interviewed for this article) that it is interested in strategies that may exclude carriers like Canada Post--possibly through the use of its own drones to deliver parcels, as Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has proposed, or perhaps through the acquisition of parcel carriers.

For Canada Post, Amazon thus represents both a vast opportunity and a terrifying threat. Winning a bigger share of the behemoth's delivery business is tantalizing. But the threat Amazon poses to Canadian retailers--many of them now deeply dependent on Canada Post in their efforts to repel Amazon--affects the entire ecosystem. And if the day comes when Ottawa considers selling its post office, Amazon might be the highest bidder. Last year, shortly before Chopra announced his intention to wind down door-to-door home mail delivery, the Harper government conducted an assessment of Britain's experience with postal service privatization.

For now, the e-commerce revolution is enough for Chopra to worry about. "There's a very compelling case Canada Post will reemerge," is all he is willing to wager for the future. On the cement floor of the Pacific Processing Centre in Vancouver, Ron Hart offers a closer-to-the ground perspective. "We'll be a target," he says bluntly. "We know that."

Associated Graphic

Canada post's new pacific processing Centre in Vancouver is seeing parcel traffic driven by e-commerce climbing 30% annually

Photographs by Kristopher Grunert

Parcels flow through the packet sorter at Canada post's Vancouver processing centre

The control room at the Vancouver processing centre, which sees more than 30,000 parcels arrive by air from Asia daily

Photograph adrian Wyld/CP

Canada post flies a DC-10 in a loop between hamilton and Vancouver (with a stop in Calgary)

Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B6

The question flickered through Paul Rosen's mind: "Is this the day I die?" The 50-year-old merchant banker was on his way to tour a medical marijuana facility two years ago, when the men driving him to the site made an unusual request.

They handed him a blindfold and told him to put it on.

Mr. Rosen had been on dozens of these trips before, crisscrossing Canada to evaluate the prospects of fledgling medical marijuana firms and deciding which ones his company, PharmaCan Capital, would invest in.

Ever since Health Canada unveiled plans to open up the market in 2014, upstarts have been popping up everywhere, opening factories, setting up greenhouses, and wooing investors, each trying to land a coveted federal licence.

It is a boom in every sense of the word. But Mr. Rosen had never been driven to a site blindfolded. The CEO of PharmaCan started to wonder exactly who he'd gotten in the car with.

"I thought, this is either a great story, or the worst day of my life," he said. "I had just been watching the fifth season of Breaking Bad. I was nervous."

When the blindfold came off, Mr. Rosen stood in the middle of a facility under construction, somewhere on the outskirts of Toronto. The company wanted to highlight just how protective it was of the site. Mr. Rosen had no idea how he got there - it was all part of the show.

Welcome to Canada's new medical marijuana industry. It's barely begun, but already there is enough froth, risk, and questionable showmanship to supply people like Mr. Rosen with years of stories.

Since the federal government began issuing licences to companies this spring, allowing them grow and sell medical marijuana to an estimated 37,000 patients, Health Canada has been flooded with requests for permits. Only 13 companies are licensed now, but according to federal documents, an average of 25 new applications are submitted each week.

And with good reason - Health Canada projects that the number of patients seeking medical marijuana for everything from glaucoma to pain relief for cancer treatment will climb to 400,000 in a decade.

Today's $100-million industry could be tomorrow's multibilliondollar bonanza, especially if the political winds ever blow in the direction of legalizing marijuana for recreational use, making it as accessible - and no doubt as profitable - as alcohol is today for brewers and distilleries.

Not surprisingly, the money is already starting to fly as speculators, penny stock promoters and get-rich-quick investors flock to the sector, and companies try to turn hobby science into something resembling Big Pharma. In just a few months, there have already been two product recalls over fears of contaminated pot, suggesting quality control is still an issue.

On the investment side, things appear just as rocky. The hype surrounding this new sector has seen junior mining companies rebrand as medical marijuana firms almost overnight. Amid a flurry of press releases from companies touting future production, stock regulators in Canada and the United States took the unusual step of warning investors to tread carefully around medical marijuana stocks, fearing a bubble is forming and that stock manipulations among small companies on venture exchanges and over-the-counter markets may be taking place.

The burgeoning sector is drawing comparisons to the dot-com boom of the late 1990s when investors rushed in to take advantage of a hot sector, and were duped by bold promises of future earnings that never materialized, while companies with Internetrelated businesses cashed out on their inflated valuations.

Not surprisingly, the dot-bong era in Canada, as it's been dubbed, comes with a healthy dose of investor-beware.

The way Mr. Rosen sees it, Canada's medical marijuana sector is a land of opportunity that's also fraught with risk. With each site he visits - more than 100 and counting - he must figure out which companies are worth investing in, which will go on to become licensed producers, and which firms should be avoided.

There will be winners who emerge from the pack. In trying to pick them, Mr. Rosen's job is not unlike any investor sitting on the sidelines wondering whether they should join the marijuana boom. Of more than 200 companies PharmaCan Capital has examined up close or from a distance, the firm has chosen to invest in just five, on behalf of clients that include large hedge funds in the United States.

"There is a real industry here that is emerging from the flurry of activity, and if you can find those companies, I think the opportunity for investors is tremendous," Mr. Rosen said. "But good luck finding those companies if you have to wade through the 985 that you may not like to find the 20 you do.

"We say no a lot more than we say yes."

Birth of a market

Health Canada has only grudgingly allowed the industry to exist.

Although Canada has bathed in glowing international reviews from pot proponents for loosening its restrictions on medical marijuana, the federal agency hasn't exactly been happy about it.

As Health Canada points out in bold letters atop its regulations and industry correspondence: "Dried marijuana is not an approved drug or medicine in Canada. The government of Canada does not endorse the use of marijuana, but the courts have required reasonable access to a legal source of marijuana when authorized by a physician."

Under legal pressure to provide a stable, affordable and safe supply of medicinal marijuana for patients who need it, the federal government announced in June, 2013, that the market would be privatized and companies would be allowed to apply for licences to grow the plants and sell the product directly to patients.

That system, brought in April 1, replaced a regime where the government allowed patients to buy from approved growers who were limited in how much they could produce (enough for a few patients) or from Prairie Plant Systems, a federally sanctioned grow-op. However, concerns that PPS's product was too weak, and quality control issues from the smaller growers, led to calls for that system to be scrapped.

Mr. Rosen suspects the old system - which Ottawa called the "Medical Marihuana Access Regulations (MMAR)" - was rife with corruption. Some operations he's visited in recent months were small growers under the old system who are looking to get licensed in the new regime. A few of them seemed to be growing quite a lot of product for just a few patients.

"The amount of abuse in the MMAR [system] is surprising to me. I've gone to facilities in British Columbia where they had licences for 700 plants for four patients, which is just a preposterous, preposterous quantity," Mr. Rosen said. He hopes the new system will get it right.

"The most shocking thing for me was how unregulated the old system was. The most reassuring thing for me now is how incredibly well regulated the new system is."

Between June, 2013, and February of this year, Health Canada received 454 applications from companies looking to become sellers of medical marijuana. It has approved just 14 of those licences. However, one company - B.C.-based Greenleaf Medicinals - was removed from the list this summer after it was forced to recall a batch of Purple Kush marijuana "due to issues with the company's production practices," the government said. The culprit was mould in the marijuana.

It is one of two product recalls to hit the young industry so far. In May, Ontario-based Peace Naturals Project Inc. recalled a batch of its medical marijuana, after testing found a higher level of bacteria than acceptable. The 55 clients who received the product were instructed to return the weed, or mix it with cat litter and dispose of it with household waste.

Health Canada hopes those recalls are merely early glitches, not a sign of more to come.

It remains unclear how many more licences will be granted - and at what pace. To obtain a licence, companies must go through a series of site examinations, background checks and security tests to ensure the facilities are secure. It is not an easy process.

For investors, the number of licences that will ultimately be issued is the big question. Will they be limited, like in the telecom sector? Or will the industry be left open to all companies who demonstrate they can meet the government's standards?

Speculation within the industry has run rampant that the government has a finite number in mind, which would make existing licence holders the owners of a lucrative permit. But a Health Canada official told The Globe and Mail that the government has no specific target. Rather, Ottawa will let the market dictate how many companies survive.

The group of 13 licensees has a head start on getting established, and several of them have emerged with operations that resemble high-tech laboratories and look nothing like a basement grow-op. Among the names are Tweed Inc. of Smith Falls, Ont., which took itself public this year in Canada's first medical marijuana stock offering, and Bedrocan Canada Inc., a Toronto-based subsidiary of a Dutch company that is one of the few established international names in the business.

Nanaimo-based Tilray has constructed a large, pristine operation on Vancouver Island, backed by Seattle private equity player Privateer Holdings, which has pumped considerable dollars into the U.S. tech sector over the years.

The sprawling, brightly-lit facility is a testament to medical marijuana's sanitized future, where staff wear white polyethylene suits and blue gloves when handling the plants.

Tilray vice-president Philippe Lucas said the two product recalls at other firms were not good for the sector over all, but show that there is oversight. "On the good side, those things are being caught," he said, noting that Tilray has not had any issues with its product.

Every detail, right down to the way the marijuana is packaged, is under scrutiny. "The packaging has to be child proof, smell proof, and maintain the integrity of the product," Mr. Lucas said.

As companies like Tilray, Tweed and others build their businesses, a growing line of companies is waiting for the door to open.

Leamington, Ont.-based Aphria, which is headed by Vic Neufeld, the former CEO of vitamin giant Jamieson Laboratories, has been growing plants for the past few months, but is awaiting its licence to sell. Like many companies in the space, Aphria also has plans for an IPO.

With the industry so untested, Mr. Neufeld said he believes trying to draw up a business plan several years into the future is pointless. Although he is confident Aphria can become a significant player in the market, he's not about to make bold long-term proclamations about growth.

"Anything forward from three years is really hot air," Mr. Neufeld said. "So when you look at the core of where we want to go, the goal is to be a consistent highquality, low-cost producer. And that's just stealing right from [the model at] Jamieson."

Not everyone is as cautious.

Regulators have expressed concern about wild predictions made by companies rushing into the market in an attempt to lure investors before the boom cools off. In particular, firms trading in the over-the-counter market, or pink sheets, have drawn the the attention of the Canadian Securities Administrators and its U.S. counterpart.

"CSA is urging investors to be cautious when considering investing in medical marijuana stocks," said the regulator, which represents securities regulators of each province.

"While some have touted medical marijuana as a significant new sector for investment, the CSA has observed a number of small or inactive reporting issuers announcing medical marijuana business plans. In many of these cases, just the announcement of intent to develop a medical marijuana business has resulted in an immediate rise in the company's stock price."

Numerous junior mining companies have taken the sudden plunge into medical marijuana, no doubt hoping for a bump in their stock prices. Supreme Resources renamed itself Supreme Pharmaceuticals this year, while Affinor Resources Inc.

changed its name to Affinor Growers. Junior miner Thelon Capital Ltd. also made the switch, while Satori Resources, which happened to have the ticker symbol BUD, also decided to explore the new line of business.

If investors needed further evidence of froth, former Canadian Olympic snowboarder Ross Rebagliati provided it in July with an announcement that he was getting into the medical marijuana industry with a branding and licensing company. Mr. Rebagliati, who briefly lost his gold medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics after testing positive for marijuana, is selling his name to companies interested in branding their best stuff under monikers such as Ross' Gold, Silver and Bronze.

His company, Green & Hill Industries Inc., is traded on the over-the-counter market in the U.S., hoping to capitalize on the hype surrounding the business.

The lesson? There is money on the table, and there is no shortage of entrepreneurs willing to grab their share of it.

With all the uncertainty over how the sector will develop, Christian Groh, partner in Privateer Holdings, the private equity investor in Tilray, said he doesn't believe the Canadian medical marijuana business should be courting mom and pop investors in the public markets.

"I know some [companies] are legitimate players. But there's no data, no metrics. This is a new industry, a new regulatory environment. The mechanics aren't completely fleshed out yet. The demand [from investors] is there - we all understand that. But you're talking about basic business fundamentals that aren't even established yet. And for people to go out on an exchange and to put out press releases, or to say they're going to do something. It's disingenuous ... Quite frankly I think it hurts the industry."

Big promises Among the companies that are given to making bold statements is Creative Edge Nutrition, a Michigan nutritional supplements maker that is setting up a facility in Lakeshore, Ont., near Windsor.

Its Canadian medical marijuana subsidiary is called CEN Biotech.

Creative Edge proclaims that it is building the "world's largest and most advanced legal cannabis production facility."

Whether the CEN facility will ever be fully constructed depends on a few factors, such as whether the company can get approvals to build it. That hasn't stopped it from issuing press releases touting its future industry-leading size. Its public relations people refer to the company as a future "super grower."

But Creative Edge, which doesn't yet have a licence to sell medical marijuana, has faced pushback from the community in Lakeshore, where some residents are uneasy about having such a large facility in their backyard.

The company's CEO, Bill Chaaban, said he expects the licence by the end of this month. The application calls for 600,000 kilograms a year of marijuana production, which would put CEN ahead of the field in Canada, he said. "We would be larger than all of them combined."

Mr. Chaaban then clarifies that number. "We don't expect to be growing [all of it] in the first year.

It's something you scale up to. We have a 10.5-acre site and it's something you build up over time."

Simply put, CEN has a few more steps to go before it can claim to be the biggest in the world.

Those types of proclamations are reminding some of the dotcom era, which produced inflated stocks, some investment winners, but left a lot of carnage.

Mr. Chaaban says he supports the regulator's warnings, "I think they're absolutely essential," he said. "There's a lot of people trying to capitalize on investor-getrich type of schemes. You have mining companies [penny stocks] that are now wanting to get into medical marijuana and I think it's absolutely ridiculous," Mr. Chaaban said.

"If it's an attempt just to capitalize ... I think they need to be halted and addressed."

Some observers have wondered, quietly, what CEN plans to do with all the marijuana it claims it will grow, since 600,000 kilograms is a lot to dump on the Canadian market. Mr. Chaaban said the company's ultimate goal is to ship outside Canada to foreign markets as more jurisdictions change their laws. "We intend to export the product," he said, adding that Health Canada allows for that, as long as the domestic market is served.

Risk and reward

Despite the unusual warnings from regulators, not everyone is against the stock market froth.Some see it as just part of the way a new industry works out the kinks.

Sure, there are bound to be bad companies, but there will also be good ones, argues Scott Gardiner, chief investment officer at Verdmont Capital, a Panama-based investment firm that is keeping tabs on the unfolding Canadian market. Smart investors can make good money by finding the legitimate players, he figures.

"As with all emerging sectors attracting capital, there will be scammers looking to capitalize on some of the misinformation floating around," Mr. Gardiner said.

"There are many companies pitching their stories with certain 'facts' that really can't be backed up by any hard data. For example, no one knows how many strains will be needed in the marketplace and the efficacy of these strains in treating different ailments.

"We have also heard companies discussing various projections with a high degree of confidence, with limited visibility on enddemand, and a yet-to-be-determined industry cost curve. Most projections need to be taken with a grain of salt."

However, that doesn't mean the industry shouldn't be courting the markets, Mr. Gardiner said.

Investors who stay on the sidelines are missing the point, he argues.

"Where we disagree ... is that investors should avoid investing in the space until the dust settles.

... For educated investors with some risk capital to deploy, now is a great time to get involved. The risks are higher for sure, but then the potential returns are there if you can identify the right teams and companies to get behind."

When the dot-com bubble burst, the collapse of high-flying stocks like, and the cratering of even more well-known tech stocks such as, left a bad taste for investors. But Mr. Gardiner argues the dot-com boom also brought forth some hugely successful businesses that have changed the world. He sees the medical marijuana sector the same way.

"Ultimately, the tech boom left us with some amazing companies," he said. "There will be winners and losers. The sooner we find out who they are, the better.

The market will only assist this process."

Growing pains

Mr. Rosen laughs in disbelief when he thinks of how many grow operations he's visited. But the work is crucial. "When I see a good company now, they jump off the page in a way that maybe they wouldn't have six months ago, because I didn't have enough of a context," he said.

Investors should be able to draw their own conclusions when a penny stock claims to be part of the rush, he argues. Still, Mr. Rosen fears a stock scandal could tarnish the good companies, along with the bad. "That's the challenge right now... we're so nervous that opportunists and people that are not committed towards long-term governance are going to impugn the reputation of the sector at a fragile time."

In the time he has spent touring wannabe medical marijuana facilities, Mr. Rosen has noticed how far the industry has come. Things are getting more professional, he hopes.

"I think today we would say we're not putting a blindfold on. We're not getting in your car. It was a different industry back then. It was a bit more of the Wild West."

Associated Graphic

Tilray vice-president Philippe Lucas, forefront, and Christian Groh, a partner in Privateer Holdings, the private equity investor in Tilray.



*Subsidiary of a Dutch-based company

Cannabis seedlings at the Tilray medical marijuana grow-op.


Joey Arsenault uncovers cannabis seedlings.


Paul Rosen, CEO of PharmaCan Capital, has visited dozens of medical marijuana firms to decide which ones to invest in.


The trimming room at the medical marijuana grow-op.


Shlomo Booklin trims cannabis plants at the grow-op.


Nathan VanderKlippe travels to remote Xinjiang for a first-hand look at what's behind the region's increasing bloodshed
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F1

Ahmet raises a trembling hand to his face, taking off his glasses and wiping away tears. His voice quivers as he speaks, but not in sadness. He is afraid.

Five days earlier, he was at his nephew's house when security forces suddenly descended. The nephew had grown a beard. And in Xinjiang, the sprawling region that dominates China's western flank and the locus of persistent civil strife, that's often enough to put a man behind bars.

The nephew was taken away, as were his wife and their daughter, not yet a year old. When Ahmet tried to intervene he, too, spent the night in a cell that was too small to let him lie down. Through the bars, he watched men with long sticks walk to where his nephew was being held - and for the next 20 hours heard the young man's screams.

Although beaten as well, Ahmet was released the next day. His nephew, whom he describes as devout but mildmannered, was not - raising the fear that he could be locked away for a decade.

Such fear is not unfounded: Ahmet and his family are Uighurs, the largely Muslim minority that calls Xinjiang home and is being blamed for a rising tide of unrest in the region. Most recently, 96 people died and hundreds wound up behind bars two weeks ago after what the state-run Xinhua news agency called a "carefully planned terrorist attack of vile nature and tremendous violence."

But there is tremendous violence taking place on both sides.

The bloodshed more than doubled the death toll from what had been - for two months - the worst act of terrorism ever committed on Chinese soil: 39 deaths May 22 at a market in the regional capital, Urumqi.

Beijing has responded swiftly and forcibly, spurred by President Xi Jinping's pledge during a visit to Xinjiang just three weeks earlier to "make terrorists like rats scurrying across a street." Declaring its own "war on terror," the government radically restricted expressions of faith - including a ban on fasting (which is essential to Ramadan).

It also sent troops bearing assault rifles to street corners, mosques, airports, hospitals, schools and train stations across the region.

"I feel like I'm in a battlefield in Iraq," says Fa Te, a 21-year-old Uighur resident of Urumqi. Soldiers are "everywhere."

Some Muslims, like many of Xinjiang's ethnic Chinese residents, support the crackdown.

They argue that an iron fist is necessary to maintain safety.

But the extent of the repression and violence being employed raises troubling questions about whether the real goal is to contain "extremists" or simply to crush the Uighurs, a minority that fits uncomfortably into Beijing's vision of a singular "Chinese dream."

The government's conduct in Xinjiang also poses new questions for an international community that has largely muted its criticism of China's contentious human-rights practices in exchange for a smoother path to lucrative trade.

Are other nations, in the name of commerce, prepared to overlook China's chokehold on the religious practice of millions of its own citizens? It's an issue that Canada, having chided Beijing for its repressive policies only to pursue energy sales aggressively, may have to face in a particularly direct way: Xinjiang is a major centre for Chinese oil and gas, and at least one company based there has toured western Canada, looking for potential investments.

Even the clock is divided

Compared with the Audi-choked freeways and glass towers of Beijing, Xinjiang is a world apart. Urumqi is 3,000 kilometres - about the distance between Toronto and Medicine Hat - from the nation's capital.

Even when the first high-speed rail line reaches the region next year, bullet trains travelling at 300 km/h will take 12 hours to arrive from Beijing.

Xinjiang is an isolated sprawl of mountains, grassy steppes and dune-strafed deserts, a place whose isolation from the rest of China is evident even in the time. Local Han people, who are ethnically Chinese, use standard Beijing time, as do airports and train stations. Uighurs, and their restaurants and hotels, operate two hours later, in keeping with their western location.

On fundamental points of history, too, there is little agreement. Uighur historians point to evidence of their settlement that dates back millennia, when Xinjiang was a waypoint on the ancient Silk Road travelled by camels and elephants, while their Han Chinese counterparts emphasize the fact that it has spent centuries under Chinese rule.

That the "Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region" is religiously and culturally unique, however, is beyond dispute. Islam arrived in the ninth century, largely displacing Buddhism. Today, many Uighurs are intellectually and linguistically oriented west toward Central Asia and the Middle East - watching Iranian music videos and reading Turkish news sites - rather than east toward coastal China.

Their home territory has, however, experienced tremendous change since the Communist Revolution in 1949. Briefly an independent state in the early 20th century, Xinjiang has in the past few decades become home to vast numbers of ethnic Chinese, many of them sent here by government settlement policies.

They now outnumber the Uighurs, and continue to arrive, drawn by untrammelled space and the jobs that flow from a land rich in resources.

Xinjiang accounts for 28 per cent of China's natural-gas reserves, which are being tapped at a roaring rate by a country eager to fuel its remarkable growth with its own energy. Between 2000 and 2012, gas output increased sixfold, while oil production rose by half. Some 60 per cent of Xinjiang's gross domestic product is now derived from petroleum.

But the wealth hasn't necessarily benefited the Uighur population. As the region's oil and gas flow east, local filling stations routinely run short, with lineups 150 cars long.

And for all the jobs that development has brought, the region has China's highest rate of unemployed college graduates - 80 per cent of them minorities, many of them Muslim. Job postings sometimes demand Han Chinese outright. A former manager at a large Western company in Urumqi says that, of 400 employees, only 10 were Uighur.

Against this backdrop for the Uighur population - reduced to minority status in their homeland, often failing to get the best jobs, watching local wealth piped away - discontent has simmered.

Protests have erupted, calling for everything from basic equality to outright separatism.

At times the anger has turned violent: In 2009, a riot in Urumqi led to 200 deaths. Last October, a radical Uighur group, the Turkistan Islamic Party, claimed responsibility for a car explosion that killed five and injured 40 in Tiananmen Square - the heart of Beijing.

But the biggest shock for many in China came with the May attack in Urumqi.

It was early on a Thursday morning, at one of the city's busiest early markets. Li, a garbage truck driver (willing to disclose only his surname), was in bed when he heard screaming.

He ran to his living-room window and saw two SUVs travelling side by side, progressing quite slowly - because they were driving on top of the shoppers crowding the street.

"They were all old people - they were hit once and did not get back up," he says.

The screaming woke his eightyear-old daughter. "She told me, 'The grandmas and grandpas are lying on the ground there,' " he says. "I told her terrible things had happened."

As the SUVs made their way, those inside also tossed explosives into the crowd. Then the vehicles suddenly came to a stop and burst into flames with a massive sound.

"The first car exploding - I thought it was an earthquake," one shopkeeper recalls.

Mr. Li took photos of the aftermath on his cellphone, and says he heard dozens of explosions as 136 people were either killed or injured.

The next day, China announced a one-year crackdown on "violent terrorist activities." After the first month, officials reported having made more than 380 arrests, seizing 264 explosive devices and breaking up 32 terrorist gangs. Dozens of people accused of planning attacks have been executed, with hundreds more sent to jail.

The crackdown has added to the weight many Uighurs already feel, pinned down by a state that sinks deeply into their daily lives - always watching and, in the name of stability and safety, stripping away the culture and religion that makes them distinctive.

China's unease with religion is evident in the very document meant to protect civil liberties - the constitution prevents religious discrimination by the state but grants it great regulatory latitude. "Nobody," it reads, "can make use of religion to engage in activities that disrupt social order."

Islam by fiat

A broad reading of that statement has allowed Beijing to restrict the practice of Islam in Xinjiang. Local Muslims cannot wear traditional dress, grow their beards long or pray where and when they want to. Who and where the Koran can be read are also subject to state control.

Enforcement is not subtle.

Across the street from one mosque in Urumqi, a pack of heavily armed soldiers glares out from a thick metal cage with a sign warning people to stay away. At another mosque, soldiers surround a hulking armoured personnel carrier pointed directly at a busy entrance; a steady strobe of flashes from a camera mounted above the street captures the licence plates of each passing car.

As well, rewards have been offered for residents who "gather intelligence" on neighbours doing something considered suspect: underground preaching, wearing "bizarre dress," "engagement in feudal superstitions."

(Also worth a bounty: "promptly discovering a foreigner.") Travel for Uighurs is difficult.

In rural areas, locals need permission just to leave their villages. Roads are dotted with checkpoints, often minutes apart, where ID cards must be presented.

Passports are almost impossible to obtain (unless an applicant can afford to pay a bribe as high as 300,000 renminbi, or $52,000). For most, travel to the Hajj is not worth attempting.

In big cities, new airport-style security checks for bus travel are forcing even grandmothers to use taxis when shopping - milk cartons are over the limit for liquids. The entrance to one Uighur-owned hotel is covered by eight cameras, capturing every possible approach.

People do what they can to evade the constant surveillance.

Ahmet attended a recent meeting with businessmen who had traded their smartphones for cheap dumb ones, believing their movements and conversations were being monitored.

When on the Internet, many Uighurs avoid making even innocuous references to their own history or poetry, for fear of angering the authorities.

Rather than pushing Ahmet, a published author, away from his faith, though, the government stranglehold has driven him deeper into it.

"Who can help me?" he asks.

"Only God."

He says he does not support terrorism and suicide bombing, but can see why people might decide to end their lives - and those around them - with one final angry act. "The next life," he explains, "will be better."

Sometimes, the next life seems too long to wait.

Alahagezhen is a small village south of Urumqi, less than 250 kilometres from China's borders with Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. It is home to a couple of cellphone stores, an electronics repair shop and several restaurants.

For the rest of the world, it may as well not exist: A search on Google returns not a single English-language reference.

It is in places like this, far from scrutiny, that China's uglier practices sometimes take root.

For years, Alahagezhen has been best known for its Tuesday bazaar, where local honey sells alongside spices and aphrodisiacs. Several weeks ago, that bazaar turned deadly, after a group of women, some of them still school age, came to shop in traditional attire, against China's strict regulations. Their faces covered except for their eyes, they were detained by police.

But their husbands spread the word, and a crowd gathered.

Anger welled, and chanting broke out: "We want our freedom! Where is our freedom?" As more people joined the protest, soldiers were called in, according to a teacher with friends who saw what happened.

"They warned people by shooting into the air, but the shots hit some high-voltage cables, which fell and killed two people," he says, identifying himself only as Roch.

That just made the crowd more angry, and soldiers opened fire, killing another three.

More than 200 people were arrested, he adds, their families not told where they'd been taken. Later, some were released, and "told us they were beaten."

The riot was confimed by a local shopkeeper, who is Han Chinese and said it began when the police were "educating" the women, and "their families made trouble." Today, a metal fence lines the road where the bazaar used to be.

No place for a child

Similarly stark, if less visible, is the barrier China has built around Uighur children. Those under 18 are not allowed to attend mosque or study the Koran. "No teacher can participate in religious activities, instill religious thoughts in students or coerce students into religious activities," reads a notice posted recently on a grade school's website, according to the Associated Press.

Ignoring the ban can have serious consequences: One of Roch's former Islamic teachers has spent a decade in jail; another was detained in early June, along with his wife, and no one knows when or if they will return.

"In my understanding, [authorities] fear that, if Muslims read the Koran and build their knowledge, they will threaten the state's power," Roch says.

"But what Muslims need is freedom, not power."

Uighur students also are no longer free to study in their own tongue, a Turkic language written in the Arabic script.

They must enroll in "bilingual" classes - where all the textbooks, except one for Uighur as a second language, are in Chinese only.

One teacher says that, because the new curriculum does not allow for enough practice, "at least two to three students can't write Uighur" in each of the first middle-school classes to use it.

The teacher supports bilingual education. "Chinese is the national language" and, without it, career opportunities are limited.

But seeing Uighur students unable to communicate properly in their own language "makes me very sad and very uncomfortable," he says.

"Lose your own tongue, and your ethnicity basically means nothing."

Battle over who came first

Not far from Alahagezhen, the Subashi ruins stand like a sentinel of the past against the jagged Tianshan range.

The adobe remnants of an ancient Buddhist temple date from the third century - ancient history China is happy to exploit to emphasize the area's pre-Islamic past and links with long-ago dynasties.

A local government employee who works on historical preservation drives the message home.

Uighurs, he says, argue that "Xinjiang is the place where Muslims are, but they don't understand history - it used to be the Han people here. They came in from elsewhere."

A short drive away, the point is further emphasized at a museum in an old palace that is still home to an elderly Uighur who is China's last living minority prince. A sign there says that, by the mid-seventh century, the Han dynasty had established a military dominion over the region. Uighur history, and the establishment of Islam in the region centuries ago, is not mentioned.

Instead, the museum displays a list of "18 Xinjiang Oddities," such as: "Men love to wear flowery hats," and "Beautiful jade dipped into alcohol makes alcohol better," and "The names of locations on the ancient Silk Road are very odd." The presentation offers a glimpse of an administration often prepared to trivialize Uighur people, or ignore them.

It's a policy with profound consequences, even among those who fit most closely into Beijing's mould.

On a small side street not far from Xinjiang University in Urumqi, a café sells handground coffee, hand-formed hamburgers and pizza using hand-kneaded dough. The decor features the cover of Abbey Road, while Eminem, Adele and Michael Jackson rock from the speakers.

The shop is run by a group of Uighurs in their twenties, who speak Chinese well - in many ways, just what central China wants to see.

Fa Te is one of the owners. He surfs Instagram, rocks a mean beatbox and drinks beer with friends in his basement mancave. He lusts for the outside world.

"I want a Starbucks so badly," he says.

But that's not all he wants.

"Xinjiang should be like foreign countries, with more equal rights," Mr. Fa says.

Local authorities have begun to stop people who look Uighur on the street asking for identification.

"I was born here, I grew up here for 20 years. This is my home," Mr. Fa says. "What do you mean, you want to check my ID card?" Like Ahmet, he has no sympathy for Uighurs whose anger has turned deadly. "I hate them," he says. "They hurt innocent people."

And yet, he, too, understands what might drive them to such extremes.

"They want equal rights."

Nathan VanderKlippe is The Globe and Mail's correspondent in Beijing. WHERE THE BATTLE RAGES

1 Urumqi, the region's capital, was the scene of a horrific bombing attack in May that left 136 people dead or wounded, and sparked the current crisis.

2 Subashi is the site of a lost Buddhist city that Beijing says is proof ethnic Chinese occupied Xinjiang centuries before the Uighurs arrived.

3 When villagers in Alahagezhen protested against the treatment of women wearing the veil, police opened fire, killing three, and arrested hundreds.

4 Aksu was the scene of a 2010 suicide bombing that left seven people dead, five of them Uighur police.

5 A key crossroad of the ancient silk route, Kashgar lost its chief imam on July 30 when the staunch Communist Party supporter was stabbed to death three days after dozens died in clashes with police.

6 Official accounts say 96 people died in Yarkand (also known as Shache) on July 28 after attacking police. Local observers contend they were massacred.

7 In 2011, activists seized a Hotan police station, killing two security guards and taking eight people hostage. Ninety minutes later, the occupation ended with 16 more dead, 14 of them hostage-takers.

Associated Graphic

Above: The images accompanying this report are the work of award-winning Canadian Kevin Frayer, a photographer for Getty Images, who captured these veiled women passing a statue of Chairman Mao in Kashgar the day after the July 30 stabbing death of the ancient Silk Road city's chief imam.

Police in riot gear secure the area outside China's largest mosque July 30 after Kashgar's chief imam - an outspoken foe of Uighur activism - was found stabbed to death. 'I feel like I'm in a battlefield in Iraq,' says one Xinjiang resident.


A Uighur family in Kashgar prays before a lunch to mark the Islamic holiday of Eid. Under Beijing's one-year crackdown on terrorism, the fasting that is the essence of Ramadan was banned, with residents paid to report any 'engagement in feudal superstitions' they may see.


A Uighur bride and her attendant in Kashgar: Wearing the veil outside a wedding ceremony is no longer allowed in China.



How many more women will it take?
The death of Tina Fontaine raises questions about missing and murdered First Nations women and about the disproportionate number of aboriginal children in the care of government agencies, writes Kathryn Blaze Carlson. People are wondering about Ottawa's lack of action: In the words of Tina's aunt, Canada 'is just putting it aside until another poor woman is found murdered.'
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A8

POWERVIEW-PINE FALLS, MAN. -- The night before Tina Fontaine left home for the last time, her family gathered in a circle in their living room to pray, a nightly tradition of uttering the Our Father and asking for healing and protection.

That was June 31, the eve of the 15-year-old's journey to Winnipeg for a visit with her estranged mother. The next day, the aunt who had for a decade raised Tina as her own, Thelma Favel, sent her out the door with $60 cash, calling cards, a pack of cigarettes and a hug.

With that, Tina was on the road with a relative, passing over Devil's Creek and Brokenhead River as the prairie grass disappeared in the rearview mirror.

"I let her go [to Winnipeg], and that's the worst mistake I've ever made," Ms. Favel said in a sitdown interview at her Powerview-Pine Falls home, where Tina grew up. "I'll never hear her voice again, never see her beautiful smile."

On either side of the living room, prayer candles flicker beside framed school photos: one of Tina not long before her cancer-stricken father's 2011 beating death, the other taken just months before the teen's body was pulled from the muddy waters of Winnipeg's Red River on Aug. 17.

Tina's life and mysterious death have become a galvanizing force in the fight for a national inquiry into the more than 1,100 aboriginal women who have died or gone missing in the past three decades. In the words of Winnipeg Police Service's aboriginal liaison officer, Patrol Sergeant Edith Turner, the women's tears would form a river spanning the nation.

Tina's family wants Canadians to see the petite teen as more than a statistic. Half of Manitoba's female murder victims between 1980 and 2012 were aboriginal, but Tina had a story of her own.

She loved math and science and made her schoolmates laugh. She was supposed to start Grade 10 in the fall. She had just finished a babysitting course and some day wanted to work with children. She was reading her driver's handbook in anticipation of her 16th birthday. She was shy, but sometimes let loose and danced in her living room.

In the days since her body was found, family and friends have offered a complex picture of the girl. It's a familiar story of a young aboriginal woman whose life was marked by trauma and instability, leaving her vulnerable to a tragic end.

Her mother left her as a toddler, but had recently come back into her life. She'd been struggling with the violent details emerging from the court case into the slaying of her father, Eugene Fontaine, but refused to accept what little professional help Ms. Favel was able to arrange.

She had run away several times before her latest disappearance in August, but signalled a couple of weeks ago that she wanted to return soon to Powerview-Pine Falls. Her last text to her 14-year-old sister, Sarah, said: "Tell mama and papa I love them and I miss them, but I'm not ready to go home yet" - a reference to Ms. Favel and her husband, Joseph Favel.

Hundreds turned out for Tuesday evening's vigil, held on the Alexander Docks near where Tina was found by police divers who were actually looking for another person when they happened upon her body, wrapped in plastic.

Across the country, the high-profile case has prompted renewed calls from the Assembly of First Nations, Manitoba's Aboriginal Affairs Minister, the Native Women's Association of Canada, the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the federal NDP for a federal inquiry.

Winnipeg police Sergeant John O'Donovan expressed frustration in announcing her death Monday. "Society would be horrified if we found a litter of kittens or pups in the river in this condition." he said. "This is a child. Society should be horrified."

But the Conservative government has rebuffed the appeals, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper drawing criticism this week for saying Tina's death is first and foremost a crime - not part of a "sociological phenomenon" requiring further study. In an interview with The Canadian Press, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said that "for Stephen Harper to say that there's not a systemic aspect to this, I think is just - I think it's outrageous, quite frankly."

Tina's death has raised some very complex questions, specifically around what former judge Ted Hughes has described as the "gross disproportion" of aboriginal children and youth in the care of provincial government agencies. In her short life, Tina was twice briefly in the care of Manitoba's Child and Family Services; she was in the system in the weeks before she was reported missing Aug. 9. "I reached out for help, and thought I was doing something good," Ms. Favel said of voluntarily placing Tina in CFS care in Winnipeg, "But now I don't have my baby."

The ripple effects of Tina's death are now being felt throughout the police service and the Sagkeeng First Nation community, whose acting chief, D.M Henderson, said he was "in shock."

It's also taking a toll on her sister, Sarah. At the vigil Tuesday, she clutched wildflowers as tears streamed down her round cheeks. "I can't believe your [sic] actually gone," she later wrote on her Facebook page.

Saturday afternoon's funeral service at the reserve's St. Alexander Roman Catholic Parish will serve as a reminder of a life cut short, dreams not lived and what University of Winnipeg aboriginal studies professor Niigaan Sinclair calls the "largest epidemic" plaguing this country: the murder and disappearance of Canada's aboriginal girls and women.

'The system failed her'

On the first day of 1999, Tina was born at the Women's Hospital in Winnipeg to Eugene Fontaine, of Sagkeeng, and Valentina Duck, a Bloodvein First Nation woman. "She was a New Year's baby," Ms. Duck, 33, told The Globe and Mail.

The couple, who met at a Winnipeg house party when Ms. Duck was 12 years old, already had a three-year-old son named Charles. One year after Tina's birth, they had Sarah.

Ms. Duck fell into alcoholism and left her children with Mr. Fontaine, who worked at a tire recycling facility, when the girls were barely toddlers. Mr. Fontaine tried to raise them on his own in the city, but when he was diagnosed with lymphoma, he reached out to his older sister, Ms. Favel, for help.

He needed someone he trusted to look after Tina, whom he nicknamed Monkey, and little Sarah, whom he lovingly called Chubby. When he let his girls go, he believed it was temporary - that some day he'd care for them himself once more.

In a handwritten letter dated Nov. 21, 2003, he wrote: "I, Eugene R. Fontaine, give Thelma Favel temporary custody of my daughters Tina Michelle Fontaine and Sarah Mae Fontaine until [future] notice. This is until I am ready to take them back."

Mr. Fontaine never got that chance. He died from an Oct. 31, 2011, beating that cut his life just short of the four months doctors had told him he had left to live.

Ms. Favel said the girls briefly came under CFS supervision after she assumed custody, living with her on the reserve. Skeptical of CFS, she decided to take them out of the system after about six months, despite it meaning she wouldn't get financial help to raise the girls.

"I wanted them to be mine," said Ms. Favel, who is also raising Tina and Sarah's two cousins. "Kids in care sometimes fall through the cracks."

But after Tina started struggling with her father's brutal slaying and her newfound relationship with Ms. Duck, Ms. Favel turned to CFS for help. In July, Ms. Favel called and asked that Tina be placed in short-term provincial care. She said she wanted Tina to have access to counselling; she thought the girl might be more safe.

Ms. Favel is under the impression Tina then lived on and off with a foster family in the city, though she isn't sure. She said a CFS worker reported Tina missing Aug. 9 after she said the teen had already been "AWOL" from care for two weeks.

"The system failed her," Ms. Favel said.

Manitoba's Office of the Children's Advocate is investigating the public services Tina received as part of an automatic review that occurs whenever a child in care dies. The results of the review, including any recommendations aimed at preventing future tragedies, must remain confidential under current provincial legislation.

Two CFS workers, including a man Ms. Favel said tried to help secure grief counselling for Tina, were among those who streamed into the Favel home delivering food ahead of the teen's wake. Both the man and his supervisor declined to answer questions, referring The Globe to the their communications office.

A turning point: 'I'm lonely. I miss Daddy.'

Growing up on Louis Riel Drive in Powerview-Pine Falls, Tina did household chores - tidying her room and doing the dinner dishes - to earn her weekly $20 allowance. She also made Ms. Favel laugh with her singular love of iceberg lettuce.

"I used to have to buy an extra head every time I made salad," she recalled with a smile. "She'd walk around the house eating the layers."

But emotions also ran high at the Favel home. The day of Mr. Fontaine's funeral, Ms. Duck called her daughters for the first time since the girls could remember, Ms. Favel said. Tina was hit hard by the reality of burying her father, whose framed picture still sits on her bedside table.

But it wasn't really until three years later that his death started affecting her behaviour, said Ms. Favel and Bryan Favel, Tina's 29-year-old uncle who was raised as her brother.

The court proceedings were under way last spring, and Tina wanted to go with Ms. Favel to hear the case. Ms. Favel resisted, saying the teen shouldn't remember her father by his violent killing.

However, Ms. Favel believes Tina overheard her one night relaying to her husband the details of the beating, including that Mr. Fontaine's torso had been stomped so hard that a Nike checkmark was visible on his bare chest.

That's when everything seemed to change.

"We'd be watching TV and she'd come sit beside me and say, 'Mama, I'm lonely. I miss Daddy,' " she said. "She would cry and then when she was done, she'd say, 'Okay, I'm good now.' "

But Ms. Favel and Bryan Favel knew she wasn't okay. Ms. Favel said she tried to get Tina into counselling - reaching out to CFS and the province's Victim Services - only to have "doors shut" in her face and find that Tina was unwilling to get professional help.

Tina had been attending the nearby Ecole Powerview, where she was slated to enter Grade 10 in September. Her cousin, Shauna Bruyère, said Tina was most often seen at school with her sister, and recently cried on the cousin's shoulder, saying she didn't want to be living at home.

Ms. Favel said Tina wasn't having issues at school, though she said there were times the teen got into minor trouble for arriving late to class after lunch, usually because she had dilly-dallied back from a nearby convenience store with friends.

A schoolmate and friend, Tarya Pakoo, described Tina as "funny," but they also had serious conversations, including one in which Tarya implored her friend not to run away.

'My God, what is happening here?'

Tina ran away twice last spring and didn't return to Powerview-Pine Falls after what was supposed to be a five-day visit with Ms. Duck in early July. Bryan Favel drove the teen into the city's north end and soon got the sense something was amiss when Ms. Duck wasn't at her sister's home, as Tina had thought.

Tina assured Bryan Favel everything would be fine and that she could stay with her aunt until her mother returned. Despite his unease, he relented.

"I told her not to walk the streets at night, and if she needed anything, to call me," he said. "She said, 'I love you.' I said, 'I love you, too.' And then I left her."

Ms. Duck said she spent the better part of the week with Tina, watching movies and going to bingo at a local hall. She also said she met her daughter's boyfriend, Cody, who posted a picture of himself with Tina on Facebook on July 10. He didn't respond to an interview request.

Ms. Favel has said publicly she thinks Ms. Duck was doing drugs with her daughter; Ms. Duck said the pair "only smoked marijuana" together.

When Ms. Favel couldn't reach Tina, she reported her missing on July 10. A week later, the RCMP issued a release saying Tina had been located. Ms. Favel said most times police found Tina she was at Portage Place, the city's downtown mall.

Ms. Duck said she doesn't know where her daughter spent her final days, but thinks she was sometimes staying in a foster home and sometimes at her aunt's in the city.

Police have revealed few details of the case, but Constable Jason Michalyshen said investigators believe the teen was "a vulnerable young lady and someone that would be easily exploited by certain individuals." He wouldn't say whether Tina had been involved in the sex trade. Ms. Duck, who once worked as a prostitute, said she's certain her daughter was not a sex worker.

After police found Tina's body, Justice Minister Peter MacKay offered his condolences to the Fontaine family. The Prime Minister did the same a few days later. Ms. Favel said the words mean nothing.

"[The government] is just putting it aside until another poor woman is found murdered, and then they'll open their mouths and say, 'We're going to try to do this, we're going to try to do that,' " she said. "But nothing is ever really done."

Still, local activist Leslie Spillett said she's hopeful Tina's death might be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back.

"Maybe it's that threshold where people kind of wake up and say, 'My God, what is happening here?' " said Ms. Spillett, executive director of Ka Ni Kanichihk, a social development organization.

The issue is on the lips of those living on the Sagkeeng reserve, where one resident said Tina's former teachers were overheard at a fundraiser lamenting her death. Gloria Spence, a 49-year-old woman who grew up on the streets of Winnipeg but returned to Sagkeeng in the 1980s, said she believes the problem of missing and murdered aboriginal women has gotten worse over the years.

"In my younger days, it wasn't an everyday-type thing," said Ms. Spence, who was hosting a yard sale in the reserve this week. "Now, it seems like it's constant."

Patrol Sgt. Turner, whose own mother was reportedly a residential school survivor, said Winnipeg police met with local aboriginal leaders, including Sagkeeng's acting chief, in the aftermath of Tina's death.

With a trembling voice, she told those gathered at Tuesday's vigil that everyone agreed on the importance of working together to end the plight of Canada's so-called stolen sisters.

For Ms. Favel, though, it's too late. She and her husband have arrangements to make and a funeral service to attend. In the coming days, she'll scatter Tina's ashes atop Mr. Fontaine's grave. She knows today's steady flow of family and friends into her home won't last forever. She knows it will only get harder.

"Everything settles down," she said, "and then you're all alone."

With a report from Jill Mahoney in Toronto

Associated Graphic

In a handwritten letter dated Nov. 21, 2003, Tina's father gave Thelma Favel temporary custody of his two daughters until he was ready to take them back. He was beaten to death before he got the chance.


Photos of Tina adorn Thelma Favel's home in the Sagkeeng First Nation. After Tina started struggling with her father's brutal slaying and her newfound relationship with her mother, Ms. Favel turned to CFS for help. In July, Ms. Favel asked that Tina be placed in short-term provincial care.

Tina's last text to her 14-year-old sister, Sarah, left, said: 'Tell mama and papa I love them and I miss them, but I'm not ready to go home yet' - a reference to Thelma Favel and her husband, Joseph.

The day of Tina's father's funeral, her mother, Valentina Duck, called her daughters for the first time the girls could remember. Tina was hit hard by the reality of burying her father, whose framed picture still sits on her bedside table.

Saturday, August 30, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B4

TIVAT, MONTENEGRO -- Peter Munk's yacht, Golden Eagle, is an impressive piece of glimmering nautical hardware.

It is 43-metres long - qualifying it as a superyacht - has three decks and a crew of seven to cater to the guests' every whim. But it is a mere dinghy compared to the floating gin palaces that surround it like condo towers. "The combined value of all these yachts is bigger than the GDP of Montenegro," Mr. Munk says, beaming.

Mr. Munk is not gloating about the wealth of the superyacht owners, some of whom are his friends; he is gloating about the ability of his marina and resort development, Porto Montenegro, to attract rich visitors who are boosting the economy. The development, which has cost Mr. Munk and his co-investors, among them the Russian oligarch Oleg Derispaska, 287-million ($410-million) so far, has created 550 direct jobs in a country with 12-per-cent unemployment and is acting as a magnet for other seaside developments.

The gross domestic product of tiny Montenegro, the former Yugoslavian republic squeezed between Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania on the eastern shore of the Adriatic, is about $4.4-billion (U.S.). The Porto Montenegro investment is worth a hefty 6.5 per cent of GDP, a figure that could easily double as piers are extended, hotels and condos are shaped like sand castles on a beach, and goodies for the rich and pampered, such as a helipad and a golf course, are added to the opulent mix. This year, the yachties got a treat when the marina opened a 67-metre horizon pool, one of the largest of its kind in the world.

Mr. Munk is almost 87. He took on the Porto Montenegro project in 2007 when the site was a defunct, rusting Serbian navy base. "I thought at age 80 I needed this place like a hole in the head," he says. "But now look at it. It's beautiful. I wanted to create a transformational investment out of nothing. I'm very proud of it. Every day, it gets more and more on the international tourist map."

Welcome to the new world of Peter Munk, founder of Barrick Gold, the world's biggest gold company. He reluctantly stepped down as vice-chairman in April - he's now chairman emeritus, which gives him no vote on the board - and misses the company desperately. "Barrick is still me; it's my life," he says in a voice that booms one minute, and fades to nothing a minute later as he becomes introspective or tired (he has heart problems). "How can you do something day and night for 32 years and stop caring about it?" He especially hated leaving Barrick when its shares were in the tank. The fall of gold prices and the monstrous cost overruns at the high-altitude Pascua Lama project in the Andes conspired to cut the share price in half. Since then, Barrick has appointed a new chairman, ex-GoldmanSachs banker John Thornton, and sent chief executive officer Jamie Sokalsky packing, replacing him with two co-presidents (Barrick no longer has a CEO).

Porto Montenegro is no consolation prize, but it is keeping Mr. Munk busy - he says he'll keep working as long as he draws breath - and he has an enormous amount of his personal wealth tied up in it. At last count, his personal investment in the project had reached almost $100-million.

That's more than twice the value of his two million Barrick shares.

Mr. Munk is sitting in the salon of the Golden Eagle, facing the stern. To his right is the new $60million Regent Porto Montenegro, the five-star hotel whose opening bash was held Wednesday night. Gleaming white yachts dominate the rest of the view on the Bay of Kotor, the fjord-like natural harbour that the English poet Lord Byron called "the most beautiful encounter between the land and the sea."

Parked on the same pier as the Golden Eagle is the 76-metre Ocean Victory, a five-storey behemoth that is thought to be owned by Vladimir Potanin, the Russian nickel oligarch whose wealth is estimated by Forbes at $12.7-billion (his ownership has never been confirmed and superyachts tend to change owners frequently as their outsized egos push them to trade up to ever bigger yachts). It features a beach club, a helipad, a cinema and hull doors that open like wings to expose a minimarina stuffed with nautical toys like Sea-Doos.

At the refuelling dock in the distance is the Enigma, a sleek knife of a yacht - 75-metres long - that could pass for a navy frigate. It is owned by a member of the reclusive Barclay family of Britain's Telegraph newspaper fame.

Next year, after the massive concrete piers that were originally built for the Austro-Hungarian navy in the late 19th century are extended, the marina will become the home port of the socalled Golden Fleet - the 100metre-plus mega-yachts owned by members of the Saudi royal family, which are rumoured to have their own missile defence systems. A fill-up for some of these monsters can cost more than 200,000.

Thanks to Mr. Munk's adept political skills, fill-ups at Porto Montenegro are about half the price it would be elsewhere in the European Mediterranean. That's because Mr. Munk negotiated a sweet deal with the Montenegrin government that allows yachties to avoid fuel taxes and excise charges. As a result, big yachts from all over the Med find that it pays to tie up at Porto Montenegro. But Mr. Munk and his coinvestors want the marina to be known as something greater than a cut-rate gas station. They're trying to develop it into a yearround luxury resort that will compete with Monaco, Antibes, Portofino, Flisvos and other established destinations for the floating rich.

Judging from the 95-per-cent occupancy rate of the 250 yacht slips - another 150 are under construction and the total will eventually reach 850 - Porto Montenegro has already made the A-list.

'It's another world'

Porto Montenegro's journey from clapped-out naval base to the world's newest superyacht marina began when Mr. Munk had a rude encounter with a waterborne object.

Mr. Munk has always been fond of yachts (although Golden Eagle is the first he has owned). Several years before he bought the naval base next to the seaside Montenegrin town of Tivat, he rented a yacht and moored it at Monaco, jumped overboard for a swim, felt something strange brush his face and realized it was a spent condom.That was it for Monaco - he would seek other ports. But where?

Not long after he gave up on Monaco, he was approached by a friend who told him he should invest in Montenegro, which was then still attached to Serbia. Mr. Munk didn't even know exactly where Montenegro was. It had been the southern rump of Yugoslavia, which got ripped apart during the Balkans wars in the 1990s. After the war, it found itself reluctantly attached to Serbia and was suffering economically as a result of economic sanctions that had been imposed on Serbia and Montenegro during the wars.

To get more information on the country, Mr. Munk called Robert McDougall, who was then Canada's ambassador in Belgrade.

"The ambassador said Montenegro is going to be independent and was convinced it would become like Monaco," Mr. Munk said. Indeed, a referendum went in the separatists' way in 2006 and Montenegro has been an independent state since then.

Montenegro happened to be blessed with one of the most dramatically beautiful, deep-water bays on the planet - Kotor - which had attracted the navies of colonizers from the Romans and Venetians to the Yugoslavians, with brief appearances by the French and the Italians along the way. Mr. Munk's friend Mr. Deripaska, who had bought the country's main employer and biggest industry, the KAP aluminum smelter, arranged a meeting with Montenegro's Prime Minister, Milo Djukanovic. Before he knew it, he was flying over the Bay of Kotor in a military helicopter, mesmerized. "I had never seen a place like this," Mr. Munk says. "I fell in love with it."

At the time, the 24-hectare site was littered with the corpses of the Yugoslav navy's submarine fleet and other hulking bits of Cold War detritus. Mr. Munk assembled a group of wealthy investors, among them his son Anthony Munk, Mr. Derispaska and Lord Jacob Rothschild, the fourth baron of the Rothschild banking dynasty, and bought the gutted seaside strip for a mere 23-million. Most of the amount went to pay the pensions of the 400 shipyard workers who had lost their jobs.

That's when things got ugly. The Montenegrins, upset that the naval base was to receive the kiss of death, and suspicious of the new colonizers in the form of yacht-owning millionaires and billionaires from afar, took to the streets in the thousands to protest. There were rumours that Mr.

Djukanovic, whose family owns one of Montenegro's biggest bank and who had been investigated by Italy's anti-Mafia unit over a billion-dollar cigarette smuggling operation (the charges were dropped in 2009), had struck a bad deal for Montenegrins.

The protests eventually melted away as jobs were created and the Montenegrins realized that the new investors were no hit-andrun tightwads. Under managing director Oliver Corlette, an Australian who had worked with Anthony Munk at Onex, Gerry Schwartz's private equity company, fortunes were plowed into the wrecked naval base. The first yacht berths were opened in 2009. A waterfront promenade, complete with retail village and restaurants, came next. Then it was an international school for the captains' children and a naval museum dominated by two restored submarines. The condos have attracted wealthy buyers, including Ivan Glasenberg, the billionaire CEO of Glencore International of Switzerland, the world's largest commodities trader.

The sale of the condos has financed the expansion of the marina. Mr. Corlette explains that the marina's profit margins are fat. Once built, piers require little maintenance and are rented at high prices (though lower than the prices charged by the French and Italian marinas). The yearly lease of a berth for a 50-metre yacht is about 60,000. "The port is a very nice business," he says.

"You effectively lease out water.

Nothing breaks, unlike in a hotel."

The people of Tivat would rather have Porto Montenegro than not, but more than a few think the touted economic benefits are overblown. Some shop owners think Porto Montenegro effectively operates as a closed economy.

"Porto Montenegro is breathtaking, but their clients don't want to come here," said local travel agent Ivana Millic, whose shop is only a few hundred metres from the marina. "It's another world."

Branimir Gvozdenovic, Montenegro's Tourism Minister, realizes that not everyone in Tivat is suddenly clad in pearls and diamonds because of Porto Montenegro's arrival but insists the wealth will come. "Give it time," he says. "People forget that, seven years ago, this property was completely vacant."

A 'transformative project'

The opening party for the Regent Porto Montenegro, which is owned by Mr. Munk and his investors but managed by Regent, the Taiwan hotel giant, was supposed to be a blow-out party studded with the great and the good. It fell a bit short.

The VIP list was pretty much limited to Roman Washuk, Canada's ambassador to Serbia and Montenegro; Regent chairman Stephen Pan; Mr. Djukanovic, who has been Montenegro's Prime Minister on and off for two decades; Lord Rothschild; and Mr. Munk himself.

A few of Porto Montenegro investors were there, including Hungarian billionaire Sandor Demjan, who controls TriGranit, one of Europe's biggest construction companies. But notably absent were two prominent Porto Montenegro investors - Mr. Deripaska and Nathaniel Rothschild, Mr. Rothschild's youngest child.

It was no great mystery why Mr. Deripaska was a no-show. KAP, the Montenegrin aluminum smelter he bought in 2005, proved to be a disaster for both him and the government, which forced it into bankruptcy last year in a messy affair that is seeing the oligarch sue the government for 100-million. Everyone at the party agreed that the lawsuit would make Mr. Deripaska's presence at a public event with the Prime Minister uncomfortable.

The younger Mr. Rothschild's no-show was harder to explain, although it's an open secret that he has been at odds with both his father and with Mr. Munk. Nathaniel joined the Barrick board, at Mr. Munk's urging, in 2010, and left in early 2013, also presumably at Mr. Munk's urging. Mr. Munk lost money on Bumi, Nathaniel's Indonesian coal business whose shares have lost more than half their value in the last year.

Still, the event put a huge smile on Mr. Munk's face. The VIP guests heaped praise on Porto Montenegro. Mr. Washuk called it "an amazingly transformative project" for the little Balkan country. In a short, charming speech, Lord Rothschild called it a "miracle." In a long, dull speech, the Prime Minister called Porto Montenegro "the model for hotel development" in his country.

Mr. Munk was typically energetic and passionate. He thanked the investors, employees and government ministers for "believing in us ... for making [Porto Montenegro] a showcase for the world," then, like a crusader for capitalism, warned the country to avoid any temptation to make life difficult for foreign capital. "For your country, don't let this industry die," he said. "Believe in them [the investors], trust them, encourage them."

Then about 300 guests flowed into the hotel for drinks. A few wandered off to the seaside discotheque, the rest returned to their condos, yachts and Regent hotel rooms. No one went into Tivat and Mr. Munk no doubt climbed aboard the Golden Eagle wondering, at age 86 and shorn of Barrick, what project would capture his attention next.

Associated Graphic

The Lady Nag Nag, a 52-metre, Cayman Islands flagged superyacht tied up at Port Montenegro, accommodates 12 guests and is staffed by a crew of 12.


Porto Montenegro's new 67-metre long infinity pool.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Regent Porto Montenegro hotel.

Globe and Mail driving columnist Peter Cheney drove a $140,000 Tesla Model S from San Diego to Whistler. His 2,800-kilometre journey was a test of both the electric car and the future of transportation
Monday, September 1, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A6


First impression: The Tesla Model S is like nothing I've ever driven before. As I aim the nose toward Los Angeles and accelerate up to highway speed, the only sound is the rush of high-speed air over the car. It reminds me of flying a glider - the noise and vibration of internal combustion are gone, replaced with an intoxicating whoosh.

I've tried several electric cars before, but they all felt like glorified golf carts. Not the Tesla. It's blindingly fast and relentlessly futuristic: On the dash is a giant display screen that gives the cockpit the feel of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

The Model S's throttle response is instant. There are no gears, and zero hesitation as it builds rpm (revolutions per minute) - the Model S rockets forward in a wave of silent speed. The California coast is blurring past, a streak of blue and gold. Leaving internal combustion behind may not be as hard as I thought.

I stop to take some photos of the car in front of the La Jolla surf. The Tesla's door handles automatically retract into the body as I walk away. When I return, they glide out to meet me, driven by hidden servomotors and an alien intelligence it will take some time to get used to.

Ahead of me is a trip of more than 2,800 kilometres in a car that can't refill at a gas station.


I'm rolling up to my first Tesla Supercharger, a fill-up station that pumps electricity instead of gasoline. The station is located inside the compound of SpaceX, a company that builds rockets, and the curved roof is covered with solar panels that will supply the power I'm about to zap into my car.

(Tesla chief executive Elon Musk's business interests also include SpaceX and energy-supplier SolarCity.)

It feels like I've been transported into the automotive future: I'm topping up the Tesla with power from the sun while teams of technicians bolt spacecraft together in the buildings around me.

And I got a history lesson on the way. The route to the Supercharger took me through an old Los Angeles suburb filled with car-related businesses from the postwar era - dank grease pits, mouldering carburetor repair shops and a junkyard stacked with rusting engine blocks. After this, the Supercharger station feels like a computer clean room - a spotless environment of polished concrete and white steel that conjures up the lair of a friendly Bond villain.


Although I mapped out my trip in a spreadsheet to make sure I could make it between charging stations, I decide to take a detour into the Hollywood Hills for a trip along Mulholland Drive. This is one of my favourite roads, twisting through the steep slopes above L.A. like a bobsled track.

Mulholland has a long tradition of speed - Steve McQueen and James Dean used to wring out their Porsches up here.

The Tesla is great through the curves, with instant power and accurate steering. But I know my range is taking a serious hit with all the climbing and hard acceleration. Do I have enough battery power left to make it to the next charger? I navigate to the rangecalculation screen to see what's going on.

An orange line traces across the screen like an EKG chart. This shows my energy use and predicts how much range I have left.

As I've learned, the numbers are based on a number of variables - headwinds, climbs, high speed and hard accelerations can kill a lot of range.

Some smart engineers obviously put a lot of time into writing the algorithms that track the energy going in and out of the Tesla's massive battery. In a car like this, software is king.


I spend a few hours shooting pictures and video on the steep hills that look out over the Bay and Alcatraz prison. I've travelled nearly 1,000 kilometres since leaving San Diego, but I've spent nothing on fuel. When you get a Model S, you also get a lifetime energy supply - Tesla lets you fill up your battery at their Supercharger stations for free.

The only problem is that there are only 105 Supercharger stations in North America. Most of them are along the east and west coasts, which are the home to the highest concentrations of electric car buyers.

For the electric car industry, infrastructure is a chicken and egg conundrum: If there were more electric cars, the industry could afford to build more charge stations. And if there were more charge stations, more people would buy electric cars.

Driving the Model S has convinced me that electric power is superior to internal combustion.

There are some caveats - batteries need to improve, for example, since their energy density is far lower than gasoline's. But the rest of the car blows traditional technology away.

The motor resembles an oversized coffee can - it's nestled in the tail end. There's no oil to change, and no reciprocating parts to wear out. There's also real joy in driving a car that produces zero emissions. Clean is good. Even though a lot of electricity is produced with carbon fuels, the electric car still represents a net gain - and clean power generation can change everything.

After a lifetime defined by oil sheiks, the Exxon Valdez spill and tailpipe emissions, I'm enjoying clean power. If there were a few thousand more Supercharger stations, I'd be ready to leave gasoline behind forever.


I make my first big mistake. My destination today is Mt. Shasta, which is 173 kilometres away. Throwing caution to the wind, I disconnect the car from the Supercharger after just 16 minutes of charging. According to the car's software, the battery is only about 60-per-cent charged, which will provide enough power for approximately 265 kilometres (a full charge will provide more than 430).

The past three days have given me a better feel for the car's capabilities, and I'm fairly confident the 60-per-cent charge will be enough. But as I head north, I realize there's a major grade ahead.

My wife Googles the town of Mt. Shasta, and we learn that it's more than 1,000 metres higher than where we are now. Now I'm starting to worry.

Range calculation is a complex process. Every car, whether it's powered by electricity or gas, consumes power at a constantly varying rate. The main variables are weight, aerodynamic drag, grade and driving habits (a skilled driver can double a car's fuel economy by minimizing throttle changes and driving at optimum speeds).

And the road can change everything. Over the next half hour, the Tesla's predicted range plummets. My range margin shrinks. I feel like a bomber pilot heading back from a long mission, staring at the fuel gauges and praying that the airport appears before the engines quit. If I run out of power, there's no way to get more.

Eighty kilometres into the drive, I turn around and head back to the Supercharger. Lesson learned.


The world of today isn't always ready for the car of the future. I realize this when I wake up to a cruel surprise: The hotel has failed to charge the car.

I'd called ahead to find a hotel that had charging, and when I handed the car over to the valet, he assured me that the Model S would spend the night suckling at an outlet. But this morning, the car has exactly the same remaining range as it did last night - 80 kilometres. The next Supercharger on my route is 140 kilometres away.

The hotel gives us a room discount, buys us breakfast and plugs in the car again. Unfortunately, not all chargers are created equal. A Tesla Supercharger (such as the one that happens to be an unreachable 140 kilometres away to the north) could fill up the car in just more than half an hour. But the hotel charger can supply only a comparative trickle - 196 volts at 79 amps. Two hours later, there's enough power in the battery to make it to the next Supercharger.


Despite yesterday's hotel-charging hiccup, I love the Model S. I've had my doubts about electric cars in the past, but the Tesla is making me a convert. This isn't just a great electric car. It's a great car, period. My route has provided a comprehensive set of driving challenges - soaring mountain passes, downtown traffic, highspeed freeways and desert plains straight out of a cowboy movie.

The Tesla has handled it all with aplomb. It's fast, quiet and eerily smooth. Accelerating at full power feels like being thrust forward by an electronic tsunami. And its great to drive a car that gets its power from the sky instead of a hole drilled in the ground.


I arrive here after stopping in Squamish, the final Supercharger on the West Coast route. By the time I got here, I had travelled more than 2,800 kilometres. Travelling through Vancouver this morning induced a strange sense of déjà vu. This is a city where I once worked as a Porsche-VW mechanic, buried deep in the world of internal combustion. I spent my days rebuilding engines, tracing down vacuum leaks and adjusting carburetors that wandered in and out of tune like fickle musical instruments.

Now I was passing through my former home in a car that rendered all this technology obsolete. In the Model S there are no pistons, no valves and no transmission. Instead, there is a battery, an electric motor and enough software to run a mission to Mars.

Despite my emotional connection to gas-powered cars, I realize that the age of internal combustion will come to an end. There are better ways to power cars than drilling crude oil out of the ground, shipping it halfway around the world, then burning it in an engine that spews a high percentage of its energy out the tailpipe in the form of heat.

The internal combustion engine is a complex device. Burning fuel drives pistons up and down inside an engine block that must be massive enough to contain the energy of heavy metal parts reciprocating at supersonic speeds. Air and atomized gasoline must be sucked into the engine through a set of valves, ignited with a perfectly timed spark, then blown out through another set of valves into the exhaust manifold.

The internal combustion process is hot, so you need an elaborate cooling system. It's also noisy, which necessitates a set of mufflers. Friction is also a problem - without oil and an intricate network of passages that routes it through the engine, the moving parts would overheat and lock themselves together in a violent mechanical cataclysm (this sometimes happens anyway).

And then comes the overarching problem of speed range - internal combustion engines produce their power in a relatively narrow band (typically 1500 to 5000 rpm) You need a transmission that lets the engine stay within its limits as the car travels through a wide range of speeds.

(Transmissions are even more complicated than engines, and when they go out of whack, the bill will not be small.)

All this mechanical complication has created an enduring industry - the repair business that once employed me. Changing dirty oil and rebalancing VW crankshafts paid my way through university. I apprenticed with German master mechanics who taught me to adjust valves, hone cylinders and plane cylinder heads so they didn't leak.

Driving the electric Tesla makes me realize there's a better way.

The Tesla's motor is packed in the tail near the rear wheels - it's a small, barrel-shaped device that produces over 400 horsepower.

Because of its vast rpm range and flat torque curve, no transmission is required. When you decelerate, the motor turns into a generator, pumping power back into the battery.

With the Tesla, there are no tune-ups, oil changes or cylinderhead overhauls. There are no coolant flushes or fan-belt replacements. It's a mechanic's nightmare. The oil companies hate it. But it's a driver's dream come true.

Electric car technology isn't perfect. At the moment, the biggest obstacles to widespread adoption are battery technology (gasoline holds more energy a pound than batteries can) and infrastructure (there are a lot more gas stations than recharge points). But as history has shown, superior technologies have a way of prevailing in the long run. Some day we will look back on the gas-powered car in the same way we look back on horses, typewriters and steamships.

Will electric cars such as the Tesla Model S become the new transportation paradigm? Here's hoping.


One of the major drawbacks to the electric vehicle (EV) is rate of charge. Filling the gas tank of a combustion-powered car takes only a minute or two. Charging an EV with a standard household outlet can take days.

The Tesla Supercharger overcomes this problem by pumping electricity into the battery of the Model S at extremely high rates.

A Supercharger can add nearly 300 kilometres of range in just 30 minutes.

There are now 110 Supercharger stations in North America. Only two of those are in Canada (Toronto and Squamish, B.C.)

Most are located near restaurants and shopping centres, so drivers can relax while their cars recharge.

Some of Tesla's Superchargers are connected to solar panel arrays. According to Tesla, the solar panels feed more power into the grid than its cars consume.

ONLINE Peter Cheney's daily journal of his Tesla trip along the West Coast is available on Readers can follow Globe Drive on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Associated Graphic

The $140,000 (U.S.) Tesla Model S: No tune-ups or oil changes needed, but there's little infrastructure in place for recharging.


'Mike is a movement now'
As The Globe's Joanna Slater reports from Ferguson, Mo., protests here are not just a backlash against the shooting of Michael Brown - but against the inequality experienced every day by African Americans across the country. Could one town spark a national push for civil rights?
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F1

The sidewalk on Canfield Drive is baking under the afternoon sun as Tommy Chatman-Bey starts walking from his home toward a protest. He has numbers on his mind.

There are his two ailing knees, which bother him when he marches - and lately, police are ordering crowds to keep moving or face arrest. There are the ten shots he keeps reliving, which he heard ring out on this street on Aug. 9 when 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed. And then there are the faces of the young people - hundreds, maybe more - who have gathered each night since in Ferguson, Mo., to demand answers.

Those youths were angrier than he'd ever witnessed. "This is something like I never seen before. This much passion, this much frustration, this much tension, this much fed up-ness," he says. "It's like a pot on the stove with the gas on high."

Mr. Chatman-Bey, a 60-year-old retired drug counsellor, is fed up too - with the police, with discrimination, with a lack of opportunity. The passion he sees on the streets of Ferguson reminds him of the demonstrations of his own youth. "This thing here has a life of its own," he says.

"Mike is a movement now."

Over the last two weeks, a formerly obscure suburb of St. Louis has become a crucible for how race is lived in America. Ferguson is a town where black men feel criminalized and where a whole community is disempowered; where parents are afraid for their children; where young people lack opportunity and sometimes make bad choices.

But the events in Ferguson are also a stark reminder of national discontent - of America's unfinished business in the long struggle for equality.

After the election of President Barack Obama in 2008, some pundits talked of the advent of a "post-racial society." Ferguson has shown that idea to be a cruel mirage, while underscoring a gulf in perception between blacks and whites. A poll conducted earlier this week by the Pew Research Center found that 80 per cent of African Americans believed Mr. Brown's shooting raised important issues about race. Only 37 per cent of whites felt the same way; 47 per cent said the issue of race was receiving undue attention.

State and federal authorities are conducting separate investigations into Mr. Brown's death. On Wednesday, a grand jury began hearing evidence in the case and will determine if charges are brought against Darren Wilson, the police officer involved. On a visit to Ferguson, U.S. attorney general Eric Holder assured community members that the inquiry would be "thorough and fair."

He also said the unrest was the product of a long history - and "the history simmers beneath the surface of more communities than just Ferguson." By way of illustration, Mr. Holder, who is African American, recounted how he was once stopped by police in Washington, D.C., as he and a cousin ran to catch a movie. At the time, he was a federal prosecutor.

Mr. Brown's death can be a catalyst for progress, Mr. Holder said. What that change will look like isn't clear, but it will almost certainly include new initiatives to diversify police forces and repair their relationship with black communities.

As the protests start to quieten, some see a chance for an even broader discussion, and broader changes. "Things might die down in Ferguson, but race is back on the agenda - certainly for African Americans but also for the country as a whole for the foreseeable future," says Michael Dawson, a political scientist at the University of Chicago who heads its Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture.

'Not full Americans'

In a parking lot across from the headquarters of the Ferguson Police Department, a group of people is gathered in a circle to pray. Since Mr. Brown was killed, they've arrived at this patch of asphalt early each morning and stayed until late at night. Supporters bring peanut butter sandwiches, donuts, and even a "crave case" - a box packed with White Castle hamburgers.

Jerome Jenkins, a local restaurateur, arrives with a cart full of food and drink. He and his wife own Cathy's Kitchen and have lived in Ferguson for more than 20 years. During that time, Ferguson has evolved into a community where two-thirds of the population is African American, even as the police force, local government and school board remain overwhelmingly white.

"Ferguson does not stand out as an extremely disadvantaged community," says Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, who lives nearby. "There are pockets of poverty. There are also sections of the community that are middle income and even upper-middle income." The historic downtown has seen a new influx of businesses and has a farmer's market every weekend. Emerson Electric, a Fortune 500 company, has its headquarters in Ferguson.

But any gains do not appear to be distributed evenly. At Mr. Jenkins' restaurant on the main street of Ferguson, the clientele tends to be white at lunchtime, black at dinnertime. The reason, he says: white residents often have higher paying jobs, which allow for longer lunch breaks and regular daytime working hours, unlike black residents.

Although in Ferguson, he adds, the real tension is not between the community's residents, but between young black men and the police force. When an employee is waiting for a ride home late at night, Mr. Jenkins sometimes sits outside too - an informal way, he says, to signal to any passing police that the staff member is of no concern to them.

Mr. Jenkins, who is 44, was stopped and questioned by local police a couple of years ago while out on a date with his wife. The same thing happened to him when he was in his 20s and in his 30s, he says, despite the fact that he has never even had a parking ticket. "I wouldn't say we're much better at all," he says.

Every black man here seems to have a similar story about an encounter with the police. Elliott Wilson, 23, said that when he played on the football team in high school, his teammates would sit together in front of his house. The mere fact of being "a bunch of black guys" would attract police scrutiny, he said while attending a demonstration on Tuesday night. "We're just tired of letting them get away with it."

For years, Missouri has been tracking the racial composition of traffic stops by the police. In Ferguson last year, black drivers had their cars searched at double the rate of white drivers, even though officers discovered contraband less often in their vehicles. Those figures were roughly similar to those for the state as a whole.

The tension between police forces and African Americans is something that unites black communities across the country and across class barriers. "People feel harassed, like second-class citizens - that this is not their country, that they're not full Americans," says Elijah Anderson, a professor of sociology at Yale University who is an expert on urban inequality.

"Minorities, especially black people, run into these moments of acute disrespect based on their blackness," he says. "You thought everything was going just fine and then - boom."

That, in turn, leads to some difficult conversations between parents and children. Early one recent morning, Terrell Taylor brought his two daughters, 6 and 3, to the spot where Mr. Brown was shot. A memorial has sprung up in the middle of the road: a couple of pylons, candles, flowers, messages, stuffed animals.

Mr. Terrell, 29, showed his older daughter the mementos. "I told her, 'This is where a young man died from the police. I don't know if he was wrong or right, but cops do kill,'" said Mr. Terrell. She looked back at him with a question mark on her face, he said.

"She will understand it in a couple of years."

Luck: $7.75 an hour

It's another steamy summer evening in Ferguson when Malik Wilkes grabs a ride with a friend to the nightly protests on West Florissant Avenue. A genial 23year-old sporting stud earrings and a black tank top, he is studying for an associate's degree at the nearby campus of St. Louis Community College and working at a Church's Chicken.

Mr. Wilkes was raised by his mother and attended the area's "raggedy" public schools; his father is in prison. He considers himself one of the fortunate ones.

"A lot of people don't make it even to my age," he says. Most of his friends are dead or incarcerated. "There's nothing else for us but to live fast and die young."

He lifts his shirt and points to a mark on his side. It's the spot where he was stunned with a Taser by police. At first embarrassed to explain further, he later tells me he was trying to steal a car. After that encounter, "I kind of calmed down."

Now he works at Church's for $7.75 an hour, 25 cents more than the state-mandated minimum wage. "I was one of the lucky few to get a job - even though I hate it," he says with a laugh. "I go to school, I go to work, I don't have time [for anything else]."

Once he gets his degree, his goal is to join the army, even if it means that he has to get rid of a couple of his cherished tattoos. Going into the military is a "great opportunity for a black male," he says. "You've got very few jobs out here."

The issues Mr. Wilkes raises go far beyond Ferguson. African Americans are more likely than their white counterparts to live in places with high unemployment, failing schools and elevated crime rates. In Ferguson, the most recent unemployment figures, for 2012, show the jobless rate at 14 per cent, compared to 8 per cent for Missouri as a whole.

For young black men in St. Louis County, the picture is grimhe mer. The unemployment rate for those aged 20 to 24 is nearly 40 per cent; for the country as a whole, the rate is 32 per cent. Mr. Wilkes is proud to have a black man as president of the country, but it hasn't made much difference in his daily life. "Some of my friends have died, some are on government assistance their whole life, some have five kids with different fathers. When is it ever going to change?"

The backlash

By Wednesday evening, the nightly clashes in Ferguson appeared to be winding down. Gone was the tear gas; gone was the piercing, ululating siren to disperse demonstrators; gone was the line of police in riot gear carrying sticks. On Thursday, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon ordered the National Guard to begin withdrawing from the town, where it was camped in a suburban shopping centre, home to a Target and a supermarket.

In Ferguson, some next steps are clear. The town of 21,000 has had dismal turnout for local elections, particularly from the African American community. At one protest earlier this week, a volunteer went around handing out voter registration forms. There is a strong likelihood that black voters will be more active and mobilized in the future.

Repairing the relationship between the African American community and the police will be harder, but not impossible. For instance, in 2001 a shooting by an officer in Cincinnati led to riots.

In response, the city instituted a series of effective reforms to the way its police department functions, including stricter oversight of its use of force. Tensions with police have eased, and the neighbourhood most impacted by the riots is flourishing.

In Ferguson, much depends on the course of the investigation and whether residents consider it impartial and thorough. A failure to charge the officer involved or to secure a guilty verdict is likely to produce fresh clashes. "It's going to be hard to convince the African Americans in Ferguson that this police officer didn't do something outrageous," says Michael Klarman, a legal historian and constitutional scholar at Harvard Law School.

On a national level, Ferguson has placed racial injustice and inequality back in the spotlight.

The repeated killings of unarmed African Americans in recent years, together with last year's court decision striking down key provisions of a voting-rights law have contributed to a sense that a backlash is underway. If young African Americans form activist networks and build political organizations, it could have a lasting impact on the nation's politics, says Prof. Dawson of the University of Chicago.

A broader change is exactly what the demonstrators in Ferguson are hoping to spark. Gary Hill, 51, a local church elder, spent many recent nights chanting, marching and defusing confrontations between the police and young people, sometimes on a person-by-person basis. The authorities asked for peace, he said.

"We give them peace so we can get justice."

It was late. He was tired, with a long walk home, where his wife was waiting. The hum of crickets combined with the whirring of police helicopters overhead. He gestured to the streets around him. "This is not just for here, this is for everybody," Mr. Hill said. "It don't stop here."

Joanna Slater is The Globe's New York Bureau Chief.

Associated Graphic

Above: Protestors march along West Florissant Ave. in Ferguson. 'This is something like I never seen before,' says local Tommy Chatman-Bey.


Tracey Love, 46, a resident of Ferguson, poses near an improvised memorial to Michael Brown.


Messages hang in bushes near where Michael Brown was killed.

Two youths carry roses to be placed along the street where Michael Brown was killed by a police officer on Aug. 9. Mr. Brown was unarmed at the time.

Protesters in Ferguson this week. "Race is back on the agenda," says one observer.

Where you 'longs to?
It's suddenly a have province. But as novelist Michael Crummey writes, not everyone in Newfoundland and Labrador is in on the boom - and that split may wreak havoc on the locals' idea of 'here'
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F1

Property values have tripled since I moved home to St. John's 15 years ago. Condos are replacing old strip malls and abandoned buildings at a steady clip. Even former premier Danny Williams is getting in on the action, spearheading a 970-hectare residential/retail/industrial development.

What was a row of unoccupied downtown storefronts and lowend retail when I was at university here in the 1980s is now awash with trendy shops selling Labradorite bracelets for $500 and coffee bars serving Espresso con panna and Aztec Chili Hot Chocolate.

There are also restaurants like Raymond's, where customers can order up a seven-course meal featuring Newfoundland cod ($135), paired with wines chosen by the in-house sommelier ($85).

God knows we were due for a break. The longtime butt of jokes about backwardness and outmigration, Newfoundland and Labrador is finally bringing people to the area due to a steady economic boom fuelled by multi-billion-dollar developments in off-shore oil, hydroelectricity and nickel processing.

But while oil execs tuck into their gourmet fish, much of rural Newfoundland is falling deeper into a crisis that began with the cod moratorium in 1992.

A "temporary measure" when it was imposed, the moratorium is now into its 22nd year. And the most isolated of the province's outports - some are still accessible only by sea - are reeling without the cod that made them possible. The only influx of cash on the horizon for many locals is a government cheque for leaving their homes. By this time next year, some of the island's oldest villages will likely be abandoned. It's anyone's guess how many will have disappeared a decade from now.

Hard times and a sense of shared adversity used to be one of the things Newfoundlanders had in common. But the map is being radically redrawn these days and we are, increasingly, a province of two solitudes.

Traditional Newfoundland - a world of isolated, tightly knit communities that relied on the fishery and each other for survival - is still at the heart of our conception of ourselves, of how we present ourselves to the world. But with every passing year, that conception has less to do with the reality on the ground. A generation from now, what it means to be a Newfoundlander will be something altogether different.

Earlier this summer, I visited some outports on a cruise ship operated by an Ontario company that specializes in trips to out-of-the-way destinations. I was the resident culturalist on board, hired to help "interpret" the place to travellers from as far afield as Europe and Australia. The tourists signed on for the chance to see the remarkable physical landscape, the icebergs and whales and seabirds. And also to experience traditional Newfoundland, to meet people whose families have lived in the same isolated communities for two centuries.

One of our first ports of call was Little Bay Islands, for many years a centre of the cod fishery in the region - and the hometown of one of the ship's staffers, Gerry Strong, who offered a guided walk "up around shore."

Gerry was born into the merchant family that ran the local fish trade here through much of the last century. "Strong's Room," as it was known, included the buildings where the fish was cleaned and salted, and an entire hectare of fish flakes where the cod was set out to dry. Rail tracks ran the length of the flakes, to help lay out the fish in the morning and collect it again at the end of the day.

Trading vessels from Europe and the Mediterranean sailed into Little Bay Islands in the fall to buy the salt cod. Gerry's father often fell asleep listening to the Greek sailors drinking and playing music on their ships in the harbour.

When Gerry was a boy, he played in a large sandbox filled with ballast from trading ships that came to the outport from as far away as India and Egypt.

That incarnation of Little Bay Islands - vibrant, self-sufficient, oddly cosmopolitan - ceased to exist some time ago. Most of the younger residents have left to find work elsewhere. Many houses sit empty. Islanders have to take a three- to four-hour roundtrip by ferry to buy groceries or see a doctor. The school here still operates, but there is only a single student. The most action the gymnasium sees is when the Women's Home League lays out a feed for visiting tourists.

And much of the talk over partridgeberry pie and toutons was about "resettlement." A referendum was held here last winter, with 55 of the 69 voters in favour of leaving Little Bay Islands for good.

"We knows we have to go," said one woman, who admitted she had never lived anywhere else.

I asked how old she was.

"Eighty-two this year."

"Where will you go?" She laughed. "I haven't got a clue."

But that resignation isn't unanimous. Among the dissenters is Gerry Strong's old babysitter, a retired nurse who moved back to Little Bay Islands after a 30-year career in Montreal.

"This is not over," she told me.

And she looked ready for a fight.

A $270,000 moving bonus

It's not a new fight. Sixty years ago, the Joey Smallwood government launched the first ham-fisted resettlement program to drag the province into the 20th century.

New to Confederation and Canada's cradle-to-grave social programs, Mr. Smallwood faced the near-impossible task of delivering modern conveniences such as roads and electricity, as well as health and education services, to 1,200 communities scattered along 29,000 kilometres of coastline.

Reaching the province's smallest and most remote outports was so impractical that households were paid between $300 and $600 to move to a more central community. Between 1954 and 1965, 30,000 people from 300 outports relocated. In 1965, the government's resettlement package increased to $1,000 per family, plus $200 per dependent. An additional 20,000 people left behind 148 outports in the decade that followed.

But if it was technically a "voluntary" program, resettlement was mired in controversy. In the hundreds of outports that accepted packages, there was rarely universal assent. Neighbours and relatives were pitted against one another. Coercion and intimidation, subtle or otherwise, poisoned friendships and families.

Many people moved under duress and lived the rest of their days in a kind of internal exile.

It's a touchy subject, still.

And after an extended period of dormancy, resettlement is making a comeback, fuelled by chronic unemployment in the fishery and an aging demographic. After a lengthy and acrimonious internal debate, Great Harbour Deep on the Northern Peninsula took a government package to relocate in 2002. Petites was abandoned in 2003. The residents of Grand Bruit, also on the south coast, followed suit in 2010.

The modern version of resettlement is different in this crucial respect: the government is happy to facilitate the process, but only when outport residents make the request. Withdrawal of power generation, regular ferry runs and other essential services to unsustainable communities is a longterm economic win - but the government isn't about to "force" relocation on anyone.

Instead, they're sweetening the pot. Last year's provincial budget nearly tripled the cash incentive per household from $100,000 to $270,000. The requirement that a decision to resettle be unanimous was also set at a more workable 90 per cent.

All this hasn't set off the mad rush to move that some might have expected, but the numbers and interest are growing.

Round Harbour on the Baie Verte Peninsula has voted in favour of the move. The Department of Municipal Affairs has met with residents of south coast communities Gaultois and McCallum, and has working files for Snook's Harbour on Random Island, William's Harbour in southern Labrador and Nipper's Harbour on the Baie Verte Peninsula. La Poile, also on the south coast, has set up a resettlement committee and residents are filling out official "expression of interest" forms.

Barring a sudden recovery of the cod stocks, what we're seeing now is likely the thin edge of the wedge.

What is lost

It was raining steadily as we steamed toward Francois (usually pronounced Fran-sway) on the south coast. The 600-foot headlands disappeared in fog above us.

I've done a half-dozen circumnavigations, and on each Francois has been a favourite stop. Tiered on steep hills at the foot of a stunning fjord, it looks and feels like something out of another world, another time. First settled in the late 1700s, it is one of the communities that successfully resisted the Smallwood resettlement program. There are no cars and no roads. Residents are able to travel to the nearest town by snowmobile during the winter, otherwise the only access is by boat. Less than a hundred people still live here, a handful fewer each time we visit.

I've alway thought of this community as a microcosm of Newfoundland's place in the world before Confederation: singular and inaccessible and largely unknown. Francois, and hundreds of other outports like it, are the crucible in which the distinct linguistic and cultural character of Newfoundland was formed.

Buchans, the central Newfoundland mining town where I was raised, is an anomaly in the province - a community nowhere near salt water, its residents all from "somewhere else." But both of my parents were raised in outports, as were all of their friends and neighbours. No one ever locked or knocked on a door. We had no blood relatives in town, but I was surrounded by people I called uncle and aunt, to acknowledge a tie that felt familial.

Even as a youngster I recognized that "the outport" had made these people who they were.

The accents around me reflected this: Some people dropped their aitches, some added haitches. Isolated from the larger world and from one another, each of Newfoundland's bays developed dozens of distinct dialects. Even now, 60 years into standardized education, in a time when every child is raised on 200 mainland cable channels, it's still possible to identify where someone is from by the particular idiosyncrasies of their speech.

That isolation, coupled with dependence on an industry as fickle and dangerous as the cod fishery, also bred a distinctly Newfoundland character - a peculiar mix of self-reliance and fatalism, a longsuffering acquiescence to larger forces that can look to mainland eyes like defeatism; a flahoolic generosity and love of a good time, an irreverent sense of humour, a well-known gift of the gab. "If you don't want any part of engaging conversation," one of our expedition staff warns passengers, "don't make eye contact with a Newfoundlander."

The people who lived in Buchans carried the outport with them when they moved inland to work the mines. Through their influence, the outport shaped me as well, though I didn't spend more than a few weeks a year near the ocean. Even as the fishery has diminished over recent decades, even as more and more Newfoundlanders move to the mainland or to larger urban centres on the island, the culture and character of the people remains remarkably unchanged.

But there's a question troubling me as I enjoy my bacon-wrapped scallop and spinach salad downtown in St. John's, watching another BMW drive by: How far can the outport travel before we lose it altogether?

Ashore in Francois, we wandered the warren of paths in the continued downpour. The most adventurous slogged their way to the lookout at Charlie's Head.

Except for our local guides the weather kept folks inside, and the town felt nearly abandoned.

There was a reception at the Community Hall, where we dried out and dug into a lunch of bakeapple tarts and molasses buns. I sat with three of the women who prepared the food and the conversation turned, inevitably, to resettlement. There was an "internal" vote on the issue over the winter, but there wasn't "enough interest" at the time, one of the women told me.

I asked if she thought it would happen eventually.

"Oh it will," she said. "It might be next year. Or ten years from now. But it will happen."

It's a sad fact of life that the disappearance of these and other outport communities won't alter much about the world at large.

The GDP won't change, the oil boom will carry on pumping money into provincial coffers, the northeast Avalon will continue to be swallowed by cookie-cutter suburbs. In almost every way we quantify such things, their absence will make no difference.

But the loss we're facing is real, if subtler and harder to measure.

It may be true that we won't be poorer without them. But we will be, intangibly and inevitably, something less.

Michael Crummey is a novelist in St. John's. His book Sweetland, about a community faced with resettlement, is in stores Aug. 19.

Associated Graphic

Francois (pronounced 'Fran-sway') was settled in the late 1700s, and has resisted resettlement. But less than a hundred people still live here.


The goverment won't force relocation. But it will pay up to $270,000 per household to encourage outport residents to leave. Among the takers: La Poile, on the south coast, which has set up a resettlement committee.


Always fighting for long shots
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B3

Wherever I've gone this year in Canada, lawyers are talking about Rocco Galati.

What's Rocco going to do next? If the Prime Minister tries any funny business with the courts, Rocco will stop him. Rocco won't sit by ...

It's as if Mr. Galati, the Toronto lawyer who brought grief to the Conservative government, has been designated the Unofficial Opposition. He's the first person ever to challenge a Prime Minister's appointment of a Supreme Court judge. And he won. All the resources Stephen Harper and his government could bring to bear, and this upstart spending $42,000 of his own money won the case. And he's not done.

Canada's Unofficial Opposition is eating a tuna salad, washed down with red wine (a Negroamaro, an earthy wine from Friuli), at an outdoor patio on College Street in Toronto's Little Italy, just down the street from the three-storey house he has turned into an office for his small law firm.

The government never thought someone named Galati could defeat it, he says.

"They were so arrogant in assuming that an argument from me couldn't win or shouldn't win, because we live in a tribal culture. You're only an expert if you're anglo or francophone.... That's been made clear to me for 26 years. I'd put my win ratio in impossible cases up against anybody's, yet I'm still ridiculed when I bring a challenge. How does that work?"

But the real question is - why him? Why not someone else in this country of lawyers?

Mr. Galati and I have a lot to talk about. We have so much to talk about that the batteries in my tape recorder run out of juice. Mr. Galati, an amiable provocateur, goes across the street to buy me new ones.

Snazzy in a beige linen suit with a striped shirt and grey-patterned tie (only the open-toed sandals hint at non-conformity), the 55-year-old comes from a world far from Ottawa's Wellington Street, where the Supreme Court and the Parliament buildings sit in a majestic row. He and his 12 siblings were born in Calabria, in southern Italy. Five of them died in early childhood.

His father, a farmer, was courtmartialled twice and interned because he didn't want to fight in Mussolini's army.

"He always told me the fascists don't come marching in overnight. It's a slow march."

His father came to Toronto in 1965, found work in construction, and brought the family over a year later. Only three of the children received any formal education, Mr. Galati says. But that includes a brother who, though he had only two years of public schooling, went to the University of Toronto as a mature student and became a lawyer.

"Because of my sense of history, I don't like the idea of injustice. Growing up in Toronto was no picnic in the sixties and seventies. It was a very brutal, racist environment. The police were enforcing wartime regulations. On College Street, up until Trudeau rewrote the loitering laws, more than two Italian males could not congregate. They'd get billy-sticked home by the police."

Although he is Catholic, he says his family was Jewish, on both sides, at one time. (When I first met him at his office, he showed me his late grandfather's Argentine identification document from 1918, framed on the wall. It has a Star of David on it.) He says most people don't realize how many Jews (and Muslims) used to live in Calabria, or about the violence used to kill or convert them in previous centuries. It's a recurrent theme of his - the loss of historical memory.

A fighter for long shots, he was a long shot himself. He says he was once assessed in school as intellectually handicapped, and it was only through the efforts of an English teacher at his technical high school, who recognized his perceptiveness in Shakespeare studies, that he was able to go to an academic school for Grade 13.

Bob Dylan saved him from life as an electroplater. He quit his job to move to Montreal to learn to read the poet Arthur Rimbaud in French; he came to Rimbaud knowing that he had influenced Dylan.

"He was not very popular in his early years. That was to my liking - this guy stands on what he believes."

Once again, his future (and Canada's) was altered by the kindness of a teacher. He enrolled in non-credit courses in poetry at McGill University, and a teacher told him he'd written a publishable poem, and saw to it that McGill accept him as a fulltime student. Despite an A- average, journalism schools and teachers' colleges rejected him - he still wonders if it was because of his name.

At York University's Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, he learned that his love of Bob Dylan stood him in good stead: Constitutional law was like poetry.

"I had a professor at Osgoode, a very bright man, Graham Parker, who I took courses on statutory interpretation from. He said to me, 'Do you read or write poetry?' I said, 'Yeah, I do both.' He said, 'I can tell. Reading statutes is as difficult as reading poetry.' "

He started his law career by working for - of all places - the federal Justice Department. "It seemed the best place for me to get to court frequently." But he owed $122,000 in bank and student loans, and the interest rate was 22 per cent; his salary was $29,000. If not for his financial need, "I might have stayed, because I enjoyed the kind of law they did."

On Sept. 30 last year, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced his choice for a Quebec vacancy on the Supreme Court: Justice Marc Nadon of the Federal Court of Appeal. It was an unusual choice in several respects: He was semi-retired; he was a maritime law specialist (hardly a big need on the court); and he was little-known.

The Canadian legal community raised hardly a peep.

But in early October, Mr. Galati stepped in. He filed a lawsuit in Federal Court, saying the choice was illegal under the Supreme Court Act, which governs appointments. Federal Court judges can't be appointed for any of the three spots reserved for Quebec judges, he said.

There was nothing personal in it, he says.

"In fact, I like Justice Nadon. I was tormented by bringing the challenge. I thought he was a good judge. I got along with him. That's not the point. If it was my father, I would have brought the challenge."

Justice Nadon immediately stepped aside, pending a resolution of Mr. Galati's lawsuit. Then, Quebec's National Assembly passed a unanimous resolution opposing the appointment. Prime Minister Harper then asked the Supreme Court to rule on whether it was legal.

So why didn't anyone else challenge the appointment? "Look," Mr. Galati says, "there are about 300,000 lawyers in Canada. I think 299,995 think they're all going to the Supreme Court and they don't want to blow their chances. They're worried about their reputation."

Few thought he had a chance to win. "Most people in the legal establishment thought his case was frivolous," University of Montreal law professor Paul Daly says.

Fighting the odds is nothing new for Mr. Galati. Early in his career he argued 27 separate times in Federal Court that government officials need to provide reasons for their decisions. Finally, in Baker v. Canada, a 1999 deportation case on which he was co-counsel with Roger Rowe, representing a Jamaican immigrant mother, he won his point at the Supreme Court.

"It was epoch-making," Prof. Daly said. "Your liberty and sometimes your life are really in the hands of a government official. Because of Baker, the government has to give reasons for finding against you."

In the Nadon case, he had a secret advantage: he knew the Supreme Court Act inside and out from another improbable case.

Four years ago, he learned that a judge hearing a constitutional challenge of his was 77 - two years past retirement age - and that the chief justice could appoint a retired "deputy judge" if he needed someone to hear a case. The Federal Court had followed the practice since its creation in 1970, and a predecessor court since 1927. In 80 years, no one had challenged the practice. Mr. Galati did, in Felipa v. Canada, and won.

We are having a good laugh. In an earlier story, I somehow managed to slip his quote about the Harper government enjoying "urinating on the Constitution" past my editors. "I say that all the time," he tells me. "You're the first guy who put that in."

It is hard to say what is more fun to talk to Mr. Galati about - the personal or political. He's what my mother would call a character. His cellphone voice mail is a Miranda warning: "If you're anyone else except Miranda, please do not leave a message." Miranda is his daughter who is away at university in the United States. (Mr. Galati also has twin four-year-old boys from his second marriage; Miranda is from his first.)

Few outside of legal circles realize the lasting importance of the Nadon case. The Supreme Court gave itself the protection of the Constitution; from here on in, any changes to its composition will require provincial consent. On Mr. Galati's back, the court insulated itself from tampering.

Although he calls that "a big win," he still describes the ruling as a disappointment. "The way they politically split it is inconsistent and illogical." (The court said Federal Court judges can be named to the six non-Quebec spots on the Supreme Court.)

It's news to him that lawyers everywhere are talking about him. "That's strange," he says.

The case hasn't changed his life, "except taking away time from my family and from my billable hours."

He makes his money from doing tax law, not constitutional cases.

And now he has launched a challenge to another of the Harper government's judicial appointments - that of Federal Court of Appeal Justice Robert Mainville to the Quebec Court of Appeal, and any subsequent appointment to the Supreme Court.

"The other thing I hear - 'You won the Nadon reference, but that's because nobody likes Nadon; everyone likes Mainville.' What kind of kindergarten debate is that, really? That's just stupid. Liking or not liking has nothing to do with it."

Rain has begun to fall, more on me than on him. Mr. Galati is in fine form, still going strong after two hours, the tuna long since finished. It is a good thing he picked up those batteries.

"I hear, 'Mr. Justice Mainville wanted a transfer to Montreal for personal reasons.' I sympathize.

Are they going to bend the Constitution for me? Should we bend the Constitution for any individual? Well, no. If we do, we're back into l'état, c'est moi. We're back to the divine right of kings, Louis XIV and the Versailles culture.

"This is why stacking of the courts is a very serious concern.

There's only one difference between a dictatorship and a constitutional monarchy: a fair and independent judiciary standing between the authority of the state and the rights of the citizen."

I tell him I need to pay him for the batteries so no one can accuse me of anything. I give him $5.

"Yeah, okay," he says. "I'm going to give you $1.50 back because as a lawyer I won't be bribed either." And he does.


Rocco Galati on the business of law:

"If I go broke, I'm no good to anybody. A lot of good lawyers who do a lot of good work lose sight of the business side and they go under."

On the source of his sharp tongue:

"It comes from my mother.

She had a great, quick wit and was very quick with a metaphor. Everything that came out of her mouth was original and often funny."

On his previous work representing suspected terrorists:

"I saw it as the civil rights issue of the day."

On his chances of winning his challenge, filed in Federal Court, to the appointment of Federal Court of Appeal Justice Robert Mainville to the Quebec Court of Appeal:

"The Federal Court, because they're human beings, is going to be resistant to the idea because he's one of their own.

You know that beautiful line in O Brother, Where Art Thou?, where the evil sheriff is the personification of the devil, and says, 'The law is a human institution?' Therein lies the historic, ageless tension between the rule of law and human capriciousness and tribal impulses."

On whether the Supreme Court will grant leave to appeal, if the Mainville case goes that far: "What's in it for the Supreme Court at this point? Nothing, they've constitutionalized their status. Will they care about one judge? Maybe not.

There are a lot of variables that have nothing to do with the law, but with human frailties and dysfunction and a non-adherence to the idea of law."

Associated Graphic

Rocco Galati, Constitutional lawyer


The accidental business expert
Amanda Lang, senior business correspondent for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B3

One of Canada's most recognizable financial journalists never planned to be an expert in business. She once wrote the Level 1 Chartered Financial Analyst exam but failed by a hair, "entirely because of bond pricing."

Amanda Lang's road to becoming the face of business news at the CBC, where she is senior business correspondent and has hosted The Lang and O'Leary Exchange for nearly five years, was one of apprenticeships. She has made a career strategy of grabbing opportunities as they arise, driven by a what she describes as a craving to keep "learning for a living."

After growing up in Ottawa and Winnipeg, the youngest in a large family - along with her twin sister Adrian - Ms. Lang studied architecture at the University of Manitoba. She stuck around precisely long enough to earn her bachelor's degree and a strong conviction that architecture was not for her.

"I was just bad enough at it that I was unwilling to pursue it," she says over lunch at Kit Kat restaurant, a well-trodden Italian joint in Toronto's theatre district, around the corner from CBC's headquarters. "I'm not capable of going and being bad at something."

Architecture did, at least, give her a certain facility with math. Her first job "as a real journalist" was at the Financial Post, "and my first day on the job was the first day I'd ever read that paper. Literally. It was the first time I'd ever had to think about stocks or stock markets."

The qualities that allowed her to do that - "My willingness to be ignorant was very high" and "I've never been inhibited by wanting to look smart" - have served her well through jobs at CNN and BNN.

Now 43, she calls her career detour "the lucky accident of my life." As she sees it, coming to business with "no preconceived notions" let her forge the measured, curious but still firmly pro-business stance she adopts on air. To her, businesses are like most collections of individuals: Basically good, but capable of acting very badly. And while she points out misbehaviour when she sees it, she is mystified by the amount of anti-business sentiment she encounters.

"Are people pulled aside in high school and told business is bad?" she exclaims.

This outlook made her a natural match for her long-time cohost, Kevin O'Leary. Before lunch arrives, she explains why she thinks the program's pugilistic format has worked: Mr. O'Leary is brash and unwavering in his capitalist gospel, and her counterpunches are more moderate, nuanced and sensibly sassy. Their sparring yields welcome dissonance on a television dial with no shortage of echo chambers.

But she has seen her fair share of upheaval around her of late, and doesn't hesitate when asked if she can envision doing the show with a different partner. "Sure. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.

I mean, there will be a show that isn't me and Kevin," she says. "At some point, he'll move on, I'll move on - you know, the audience may move on."

It is mid-July as she ponders this uncertain future from one of Kit Kat's wooden-slatted booths. Not even a month later, Mr. O'Leary will make good on her prediction, breaking up the duo's 12-year on-air partnership, which began at BNN, to sign on with Bell Media. There, he announced last week, he'll contribute to a range of programs, while at the same time deepening his commitments with American network ABC.

Ms. Lang says she met the news with mixed emotions but took it in stride, and it "had a feeling of inevitability." Yet while Mr. O'Leary is a polarizing figure, his defection marks the loss of another big name for a corporation struggling through budget reductions and 657 job cuts that have pushed familiar faces such as Linden MacIntyre and Steve Armitage out the door. CBC plans to shed up to 1,500 more positions over the next five years.

The notion that the country's public broadcaster is suddenly "on the ropes" or "down and out" is one Ms. Lang disputes, noting the CBC still ultimately has more resources than its foremost private rival, CTV. "It's a shame that it's a declining pot, but we're not going out of business," she says at lunch.

Still, she acknowledges the sense of turbulence inside the organization takes a psychological toll - that feeling of "what's happening? And do mom and dad know which way to drive the car?" Kit Kat, at least, offers the comfort of consistency. Ms. Lang is a regular at the casual Italian spot, where servers and the owner, Al Carbone, greet her warmly. She orders a Caprese salad and the calamari, served at the same time - the same as she always does - and asks for a little balsamic vinegar. The balsamic is key.

"If you go to [Toronto restaurant] Terroni and you ask for balsamic, they will refuse to bring it to you," she says.

"The chef does not believe that a proper Caprese should be eaten with balsamic. They also don't serve diet drinks, because they don't believe in those."

Lest anyone chalk this up to TV-star griping, it's the business aspect that irks her: "It's like, but people, you're in the business of serving people what they want!"

Between sips of sparkling water, she muses about the future for the CBC, its business coverage and her role in it. She is firmly committed to her hosting duties for the foreseeable future (her show's name has changed to The Exchange with Amanda Lang in the interim, and a new program she will helm solo is in the works to launch at a later date).

But the CBC is at the outset of a digital shift that puts mobile content front and centre, and what that will mean for hosts like Ms. Lang is unclear. The fact that the CBC's TV department is dropping from the broadcaster's top priority to its fourth out of four - officially, at least - doesn't faze her.

Sure, the voyage into a digital unknown can be a tad unnerving. "We're trying to change the engines on a 747 in mid-flight," she says.

But she gets excited at the notion of letting the way people consume news drive the reporting. Not so long ago, Ms. Lang hauled her staff off to a bar and said, "Let's have some fun." She challenged them to sketch out a new TV show, forgetting all they know about how such shows are constructed, with points deducted for traditional thinking.

"And some of the stuff we're batting around is, do you even need anchors? Do you need a TV show that has a host? Or do you just need content?" she says. "Maybe you don't need the kind of formal bus-driver host of the thing."

It's a vision that might threaten Ms. Lang's very job description. But whereas Mr. O'Leary has said he left to seek a wider audience, Ms. Lang insists she doesn't need a camera on her, and would do her job "in a closet" if someone would pay her to.

Even the CBC's throne, the anchor chair for The National, is not sacred in Ms. Lang's imagination. If you believe its longtime occupant, Peter Mansbridge, his job should become available in the next few years.

He recently told the Toronto Star of his potential successors: "I see them all every day when I come to work. They're standing on the second floor, looking out the window as I cross the street, wondering, 'Is he going to make it today?' " With a smile, Ms. Lang recounts calling him and saying, teasingly, "Peter, that's not true.

We're on the fourth floor."

"It would be a hard job to say no to," she says of Mr. Mansbridge's gig. "But what I do think is that job, as it's currently constituted, probably won't exist forever ... Is that what [the anchor's job] looks like in five years, 10 years? I don't think so. So do I want that job, the one that will come next?

Yeah. I mean, I stay open to everything," she says, later adding, "I think there will always be a trusted brand, and the CBC will be that. But it could be a team of people that are the curators that we turn to."

Her current role is intellectually consuming, but manageable from a scheduling standpoint. She starts a typical day reading newspapers before a 10:30 a.m. producers meeting, does preinterviews during the day and tapes the show from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. (when she's not filling in on The National). She published her first book, The Power of Why, two years ago. But she counts parenting her nine-yearold son as her biggest commitment.

She also has some new-found free time. For years, her calendar has been packed with public speaking engagements, but "I'll be doing less of that," she says wryly. It's a sore spot. The CBC recently tightened its speaking rules, particularly for paid appearances, after speeches by Mr. Mansbridge and Rex Murphy caused controversy.

The impacts are two-fold, and she worries the CBC has underestimated them. The first is the financial hit, and though she doesn't discuss dollar figures, she expects CBC management will "find out as people's contracts come up." The second is the ability to reach out, in particular, to audiences beyond her show, particularly in the business community.

"But it's done," she says. "We'll see."

Put it all together and it isn't hard to imagine the TV host reinventing herself one day. She is well-connected, counting bank CEOs among her friends and shoots the breeze with Larry Summers, the former U.S. Treasury Secretary and Harvard University president, about football and concussions (a subject she sees from both a business and parent's point of view).

"I'm at the stage of life where I'm open and if the right thing came along, outside of journalism, I'm open to that," she says.

"But that may be a state that I'm in for the next 10 years."

What would she do if not journalism?

The CBC is her focus right now, and she never wanted to start or run her own business, but consulting-type work is a possibility, because it would allow her to learn multiple businesses.

"I haven't quite figured it out yet," she says. But Ms. Lang has rarely had it all figured out, and that seems to be working.


Born: October, 1970.

Education: Bachelor of Environmental Studies, focus on architecture.

Family: Daughter of Otto Lang, a former Liberal cabinet minister, and Adrian Macdonald. Has five siblings and a nine-year-old son.

Hobbies:"I've never had a sexy answer to that question." Reading, often fiction, as well as cycling and running, but not competitively - "I run with my twin and she's done half-marathons and stuff, but I don't get it."

Career highlights:New York correspondent for the Financial Post; covered the New York Stock Exchange and anchored programs for CNN; anchored SqueezePlay and The Commodities Report for BNN; moved to CBC to launch The Lang & O'Leary Exchange in 2009.

In her own words:

On Kevin O'Leary: "Frankly, he challenges me. I'm not somebody who has a fixed viewpoint about things. I'm open to the idea that I'm wrong all the time."

On public curiosity about CBC salaries: "I don't know what Peter [Mansbridge] gets paid, but he deserves it. I was trying to guess, actually. ... We were both in that silly Senate request for salaries, and they quoted his salary as $88,000 and my salary as $78,000 or some kind of crazy number.

So I sent him an e-mail saying, based on what I know the ratio for my salary to be, I'm now guessing your salary is X. And he said, I can see why you're a business reporter, but your math is off."

On the value of her public speaking, now constrained: "I get in front of communities who hate the CBC. I get in front of communities who think the CBC is antibusiness, anti-corporate, left-wing socialist organization that should probably be obliterated. And they relate to us in a whole new way, because they go, 'Oh, they're not so anti-business.' They understand where we come from."

On TV news in a digital age: "It's almost impossible to beat Twitter now, with breaking news."

Associated Graphic


The chronicler of a wild, Western life
Yarn spinner and freewheeling lover of adventure also represented the constituency of Coast Chilcotin in the House of Commons
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, August 30, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S9

Paul St. Pierre was one of our finest storytellers, a yarn spinner at his best describing wry country characters of independence, dry humour and horse sense.

A prolific writer, he wrote newspaper columns for many years, while also producing novels, short stories and juvenile fiction, as well as scripts for stage and television, including the popular Cariboo Country drama series.

He found his inspiration among the cowboys, natives and townsfolk of the dusty Cariboo-Chilcotin country of British Columbia's vast, underpopulated central Interior. It would have been an improbable twist to his own fiction that he would represent his beloved territory in the House of Commons, as he did for four years.

A freewheeling lover of adventure, Mr. St. Pierre, who died at the age of 90, could have sprung from one of his own stories. A husky man who spoke with deliberation, he considered himself as much an individualist as any of his characters. He once greeted a reporter in his parliamentary office by pouring amber shots of Walker's Special Old into china tea cups with a growled toast: "Here's to slow horses, fast women, gravel roads and cheaper whisky." By 1970, he no longer sported a trademark crew-cut flattop, growing his hair long and framing a craggy visage with mutton-chop sideburns that would not have been out of place on a Father of Confederation. With each passing year, he looked more like an Old Testament prophet, an appropriate style for someone who wrote jeremiads against government intrusion into everyday life.

It might surprise his many fans that this great chronicler of the Cariboo, whose works were imbued with the hardy spirit of life in rural British Columbia, was raised in the Maritimes and born in Chicago on Oct. 14, 1923.

Harold Paul St. Pierre was an only child for Pearl Clayton (née Stanford) and Napoleon Paul St. Pierre. As a young woman, his mother earned a science degree from Macdonald College in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Que., becoming, along with classmate Margaret Newton, "Canada's first girl graduates in agriculture," as one 1918 newspaper story noted.

She was teaching school in Piapot, a farming village in southwestern Saskatchewan, when she met her husband.

The young family relocated to her hometown of Dartmouth, N.S. His mother, who called her son Sunny Jim, would tell him he was "Canada's youngest little old man." Many years later, Mr. St. Pierre told interviewer Lynne McNamara that his mother's comforting words through the Depression were that if times got tough, they could always homestead in the Cariboo. She had never visited the territory, but knew it by reputation from her time as a school teacher in the West. His parents eventually settled on a farm at Merlin, Ont.

At about age 13, Paul wrote a letter to the Halifax Chronicle that was displayed prominently in the pages of the morning newspaper.

He was hooked on the intoxicating pleasure of seeing his words - not to mention his name - in print.

He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1941, determined to become a bomber pilot.

Instead, he was trained as a wireless operator. A bout with rheumatic fever caused him to be invalided out of the air force before he was ever sent overseas.

After the war, he travelled to British Columbia with $8 in his pocket to seek work as a radio operator. He was hired by the Columbian, a daily newspaper published in New Westminster.

After a year, he skipped to the struggling Vancouver News-Herald for a brief spell before being hired by The Vancouver Sun in 1947, his home until 1979 save for a four-year interregnum when he served in Parliament.

The Sun was entering a golden age of high circulation, sparked in part by an enviable stable of columnists, which would over the years include Jack Scott, Bruce Hutchison, Allan Fotheringham, Simma Holt, Marjorie Nichols and Denny Boyd, among other celebrated wordsmiths. Many of his newsroom contemporaries regarded Mr. St. Pierre as the finest of the lot, as he found in the 800-word template of the column the perfect structure for a character study. The subjects for his column were often found by wandering dusty Cariboo roads until he found another living soul, then stopping to talk.

"They were sufficiently isolated that their personalities could be developed independently of the customs and shibboleths of the rest of the world," he told Ms. McNamara in a televised 1988 interview. "It was a place of strong characters. They knew who they were."

He maintained a cabin of his own at Big Creek, to which he welcomed newsroom cronies, including Ron Rose, who was invited on a hunting expedition with the instructions: "You bring the whisky, I've got the food." Mr. Rose dutifully stocked up on liquor. "We tried out one of the bottles once we crossed the Chilcotin; any of Paul's old friends will know the routine - you throw the cap out the window and then you have to keep nibbling on the bottle in case the stuff goes bad," Mr. Rose told a gathering on Mr. St. Pierre's 80th birthday. The duo arrived at the cabin, where Mr. Rose discovered provisions were limited to a case of canned salmon.

They had some watery mishaps while bird hunting and later got lost in a valley. A few days later, it was time to return home. After untold miles of blacktop rolled past without a word being exchanged, Mr. Rose inquired if he had incurred his host's anger.

"Shut up," Mr. St. Pierre explained. "Can't you tell I'm writing my column?" The real-life characters he met on the parched ranch land in the province's Interior provided the inspiration for the drama series Cariboo Country, aired by CBC television in the 1960s. Set near the fictional town of Namko, the series depicted the challenges faced by a rancher known only as Smith. The series is notable for casting First Nations actors and for portraying them as individuals with idiosyncrasies beyond the stereotypes that dominated Hollywood movies and television westerns. Cariboo Country marked the acting debut of Chief Dan George as Ol Antoine, a role he would reprise in the unsatisfying 1969 Disney movie adaptation Smith!, featuring Glenn Ford in the title role.

An episode of the show led to Breaking Smith's Quarter Horse, a celebrated 1966 comic novel in which the hard-pressed rancher Smith relies on his inherent gumption to survive.

In 1965, Mr. St. Pierre released Boss of the Namko Drive, a work of juvenile fiction about a 15-yearold cattle driver in charge of 197 cows who endures a stampede, a near-drowning and drunken cowboys.

The rancher Smith and native friend Ol Antoine reappeared in Smith and Other Events: Tales of the Chilcotin (1983). "Paul St. Pierre relays these stories beautifully, in the language of the people and places he describes, the kind of vivid language that provides literature the nourishment it needs," The New York Times stated in a review.

Over a prolific career, he released two collections of columns (Chilcotin Holiday and Chilcotin and Beyond, the latter shortlisted for the Leacock humour award), a collection of short stories (Tell Me a Good Lie), a memoir (Old Enough to Know Better), a collection of caustic observations (All is Well - Sort Of), and a novel (In the Navel of the Moon), set in the fictional Mexican border town of San Sebastian de Hidalgo, "with a name longer than its main street," which Mr. St. Pierre regarded as his finest work, though it received less attention than he hoped on publication in 1993. Chris Dafoe in The Globe called it "an affectionate and detailed portrait of the people of the village."

Mr. St. Pierre maintained a third residence in Mexico at Teacapan on the Agua Grande river at the southern edge of Sinaloa state, where his nickname was el Hombre Lobo (the Wolf Man), "because I have whiskers on my muzzle, pale eyes and a restless manner." The novel's protagonist is a retired newspaperman asked by a brother-in-law in the Mounties to keep an eye on the drug trade. The tale was partly inspired by his own experience in Mexico, where his first home had been next door to a drug exporter known as Crazy Pig.

Mr. St. Pierre stunned newsroom colleagues when he stood for election in 1968, running under the Liberal banner in a campaign remembered for Trudeaumania. The columnist threw his cowboy hat into the ring in Coast Chilcotin, a constituency so vast the legal description of its borders runs 687 words, including longitudes and latitudes. He was dispatched to Ottawa with 10,292 votes to 7,477 for the runner-up NDP candidate.

As independent minded as his constituents, he bristled at the restrictions of party discipline, "balking like a cayuse on its first halter," the journalist Patrick Nagle would later write. In time, Mr. St. Pierre made peace, of sorts, with the party's leadership, serving as parliamentary secretary to External Affairs Minister Mitchell Sharp. At the United Nations, he protested the "poisonous, dangerous and in the ultimate futile" testing of nuclear weapons by the superpowers. He also headed Canada's first delegation to the Organization of American States as non-member observers in 1972.

The job cost him both personally and financially. His marriage faltered during this period, eventually ending in divorce. As well, the $12,000 salary he earned as a member of Parliament represented a substantial cut from the sum he earned as a columnist. He also faced the cost of chartering a float plane to visit remote outposts in his sprawling riding, which was said to have 50,000 people living on 50,000 square miles.

"All I can claim is the mileage I could charge if I went by road, if there was a road, and that isn't enough to get me off the ground," he complained.

Despite the hardship, he was one of only six MPs, five of them from British Columbia, to pledge not to accept a $6,000 pay raise.

His reward after four years of crisscrossing the country was to be defeated by the NDP's Harry Olaussen by 360 votes in 1972, an outcome likely owing to antipathy toward his leader. When Pierre Trudeau accompanied Mr. St. Pierre to the Williams Lake Stampede in 1970, the Prime Minister wore slacks and a striped dress shirt with an ascot. Mr. St. Pierre dressed like his constituents - in a Western shirt with bolo tie, a large buckle on the belt holding up his jeans.

His contribution to political life included a memorable aphorism: "Canadian politics in British Columbia is an adventure, on the Prairies a cause, in Ontario a business, in Quebec a religion, in the Maritimes a disease."

In 1979, Mr. St. Pierre gave up his newspaper column to become a B.C. police commissioner, serving for four years.

In 2000, he received the Terasen (now George Woodcock) Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to letters in British Columbia. As well, he won awards for his stage plays and teleplays, while the Western Writers of America presented him with a Spur Award for short fiction in 1984 for the story Sale of One Small Ranch.

Mr. St. Pierre died at his home in Fort Langley, B.C., on July 27.

He leaves a son, Paul St. Pierre, and daughters Michelle Marino and Suzanne St. Pierre from his first marriage, as well as a daughter, Yesica Gonzalez, whom he adopted from an impoverished family in the Mexican fishing village in which he wintered. He also leaves 10 grandchildren. A second marriage also ended in divorce.

Before his death, the author purchased a grave marker on which he had carved the epitaph: "This was not my idea."

For a man celebrated as the chronicler of a wild, Western life, Mr. St. Pierre harboured a prejudice that probably would have surprised his readers. He did not like horses.

"They're stupid animals," he once told the critic Robert Fulford, "and as far as I'm concerned their only value is that riding them is better than walking."

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Associated Graphic

rolific writer Paul St. Pierre wrote newspaper columns for many years, while also producing novels, short stories nd juvenile fiction, as well as scripts for stage and television.


Mr. St. Pierre, right, seen on a duck-hunting expedition with Bill Ryon, drew inspiration from real people he met in B.C.'s Interior.


Teetering on a wall of worry
David Berman reports on the rising risks threatening to derail a bull market
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B4

Stocks are setting record highs, U.S. unemployment has retreated toward six-year lows and financial crises in North America, Europe and much of the developing world have faded.

So why is everyone so glum right now?

"I am not throwing in the towel but I'm not about to throw caution to the wind, either," David Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist at Toronto-based Gluskin Sheff + Associates, said in a blunt note on the global economy, released earlier this week.

"This is an acknowledgment of how unusually high the level of uncertainty is."

Robert Shiller, the Nobel Prizewinning Yale economist, also stirred things up in a recent New York Times article by calling today's stock market valuations "worrisome" and comparing them to dangerous peaks in 1929, 1999 and 2007.

"Major market drops followed those peaks," he said, adding that individual and professional investors "are beginning to worry."

For some observers, worries are good. Stocks, they say, climb a wall of worry.

These observers like to point out that this has been the most hated bull market in history - defined by unusually high levels of caution and fear from the getgo in 2009, when stocks began to recover from multiyear lows.

And just look at what stocks have done with this investor reticence: Five-and-a-half years into the bull market, the S&P 500 has nearly tripled and Canada's S&P/ TSX composite index hit record highs this week.

But many of today's worriers aren't bitter, sidelined investors who have missed out on spectacular gains. Rather, they are seasoned pros who have seen these conditions before and are growing increasingly concerned that the risks in the stock market outweigh the rewards.

No one is suggesting that investors should sell all their stocks, but rather prepare themselves for disappointing returns ahead - and the possibility of the sort of demoralizing dip that can challenge our long-term commitment to the market.

'We are in an unusual period'

Mr. Shiller is about as far away as you can get from a table-pounding blowhard who sees doom and gloom around every corner.

He is a soft-spoken academic whose meticulous research draws on market data going back more than a century. In place of forecasts, he raises concerns - often with a chuckle - and his views are usually accompanied by questions and caveats.

Yet his track record for spotting trouble has raised his profile from an Ivy League professor to a voice of reason that can't be ignored.

His book Irrational Exuberance, published in early 2000, eviscerated the hokum that drove the dot-com bubble at a time when many analysts and strategists were remarkably comfortable with stocks trading at 150-times earnings.

He showed similar prescience with his warnings about the U.S. housing market before its collapse triggered the global financial crisis and Great Recession.

In previous remarks about the stock market, Mr. Shiller has sounded cautious but hardly alarmed by stock prices - but that is changing.

His preferred approach to gauging the risks in the stock market is to compare the current level of the S&P 500 with corporate earnings averaged over 10 years and adjusted for inflation. He calls this the cyclically adjusted priceto-earnings ratio, or the CAPE ratio, which attempts to smooth out fluctuations in the business cycle.

The CAPE ratio's long-term average is about 15. But as he pointed out in his New York Times article, the ratio has risen above 25 following this summer's market surge, a level surpassed only three times since 1881.

All three just happened to occur before terrifying downturns. The crash of 1929 sent U.S. stocks tumbling 89 per cent over the next four years; the tech wreck of 2000 sent the S&P 500 down 49 per cent by 2002; and the financial crisis sent the index down 57 per cent between 2007 and 2009.

Mr. Shiller, whose article is free of bear-market gore, is not hitting the panic button. Indeed, his observations are in keeping with his here-are-the-facts approach to market timing.

"The CAPE was never intended to indicate exactly when to buy and to sell," he said. "The market could remain at these valuations for years. But we should recognize that we are in an unusual period, and it's time to ask some serious questions about it."

Cash levels rising

Brad DeLong, an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, has an answer: Over the long term, it just doesn't matter. When you hold stocks for at least 10 years, it is very hard to lose money, even when the CAPE ratio is high.

In a response to Mr. Shiller, he pointed out that buying stocks at the peak in 1929 and holding for 10 years would deliver an average annualized return of 3.3 per cent, after inflation. Buying in 2007 would deliver an average return of 5.2 per cent over the next seven years. And buying in 1999 and holding on through the tech wreck and financial crisis would deliver an annualized return of 2.7 per cent.

"Thus you can see why I am relatively unsatisfied with Shiller's writing," he said in blog post.

But he warns, "if you are not an investor in the stock market for the long term, you can easily get into a world of hurt."

Still, holding on when stocks are in freefall is no easy matter when your savings are evaporating before your eyes. Avoiding the worst of such freefalls with, say, a lighter exposure to stocks, is far less painful, which is why Mr. Shiller's warnings should resonate with investors.

Mr. Shiller is certainly not alone with his concerns about valuations. A number of investing professionals are lightening up on stocks even as the market marches higher and the S&P 500 approaches its third year without a significant correction of 10 per cent or more.

Bank of America's most recent monthly survey of global money managers found that cash levels - a buffer against market turbulence - are rising and stock exposure is falling.

As well, the same survey found that hedges against a sharp dip in equity markets over the next three months have reached their highest levels since October, 2008, soon after Lehman Brothers failed.

The respected money managers at Memphis-based Southeastern Asset Management fit right into this tilt toward cautiousness.

Cash is by far the biggest holding in the $8.6-billion (U.S.) Partners Fund, accounting for nearly 26 per cent of the assets in the fund.

The managers are in no rush to invest the money: "While we are as committed as ever to identifying opportunities, we will maintain our investment discipline that has served us and other shareholders for four decades," Mason Hawkins and Staley Cates said in their semi-annual report.

Stephen Takacsy, chief investment officer at Montreal-based Lester Asset Management, is also cautious, arguing that today's market is defined by investor complacency, a disregard for stretched valuations and distortions caused by ultra-low interest rates.

And over the longer term, he believes that massive index funds and mutual funds contribute to a market where everyone owns the same basket of stocks, much like the dot-com days of the late 1990s.

"When you add all that together, there's a big bubble forming," he said. "I'm not saying it is going to burst any time soon, but caution is warranted throughout this unusual environment."

He is prepared though: Cash levels are hovering between 5 and 10 per cent - high relative to peers - while safer dividendgenerating stocks account for about 35 per cent of assets.

It is an interesting stance, given that Lester's segregated accounts have outperformed the S&P/TSX composite index and the S&P 500 over the past five years, with a total return of 140 per cent.

'Excessive valuations'

Gluskin Sheff's Mr. Rosenberg is a world-renowned economist and strategist, as well known on Bay Street as he is on Wall Street - primarily as a hard-nosed skeptic, lending irony to his nickname "Rosie."

He shed his bearish views on the market about two years ago, and he still believes that the path of least resistance for the stock market is up. However, concerns are creeping into his daily commentaries.

He noted that Gluskin Sheff, which manages $7.5-billion (Canadian) in assets, had been reducing risk in its investment portfolios, raising cash levels and trimming positions in stocks that have a heavy exposure to the economy, such as energy and consumer discretionary stocks.

"Our view is that the moderately stretched valuations in the equity market, lingering geopolitical tensions and the imminent shift in U.S. monetary policy - all these things are likely to cause some tension in the market," he said in an interview.

"Against that backdrop, we're raising some cash to put to use later in the fall at better price levels."

This caution may sound surprising to anyone who has seen some of the latest headlines on the U.S. recovery.

The economy grew 4 per cent in the second quarter, at an annualized pace, pleasantly surprising just about everyone and marking a big rebound from the first quarter. As for employment, U.S. companies generated 209,000 jobs in July, bringing the total to 1.6 million new jobs this year.

But Mr. Rosenberg digs deeper and finds little to feel upbeat about.

There is no global economic leadership, he bemoans: The euro zone is close to recession, this time dragged down by powerhouse Germany; the U.K. property market looks vulnerable and wages fell in the second quarter for the first time since 2009; Japan continues to suffer with uneven growth and China's economy is clearly slowing.

As for the U.S. economy, he called it "the smartest kid in summer school" in a recent note - that is, performing well only in a relative sense. It's not threatened by recession, but it is being held back by weak consumer and business spending. The second half of the year, he believes, will be more of the same: "Sluggish. Tepid. Lacklustre. Mediocre at best."

Five years of monetary stimulus from the Federal Reserve, he continued in his note, have accomplished little more than "excessive valuations in many asset and security markets with little, if any, economic payback ... and very likely with future damage once these bubbles pop."

It's enough to make a cautious investor wonder if moving to the sidelines would be the best action right now.

But Mr. Shiller, looking at levels that make today's stock market appear eerily similar to three other historical peaks, is more interested in what's driving the lofty valuations and whether they could remain lofty for a long time.

He has no clear answers. High bond prices and very low levels of inflation might explain the interest in stocks as an attractive alternative to fixed income.

Or perhaps stocks and bonds are expensive because of people's anxiety about their financial future. That is, job losses associated with the financial crisis have pushed people to buy stocks and bonds to make up for any careerrelated shortfalls, even when they worry that these assets are overvalued, Mr. Shiller said.

But he is not sure. "I suspect that the real answers lie largely in the realm of sociology and psychology - in phenomena like irrational exuberance, which, eventually, has always faded before," he said. "If the mood changes again, stock market investments may disappoint us."

The most worrisome part about Mr. Shiller's warning: He has been right before.


Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller's approach to gauging the risks in the stock market is to compare the current level of the S&P 500 with corporate earnings averaged over 10 years and adjusted for inflation. He calls this the cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio, or the CAPE ratio, which attempts to smooth out fluctuations in the business cycle. The CAPE ratio's long-term average is about 15. But it has risen above 25 following this summer's market surge, a level surpassed only three times since 1881. All three just happened to occur before terrifying downturns.

Associated Graphic

1929 People gather across from the NYSE on 'Black Thursday.' /AP


2000 The floor of the NYSE as stocks plunge on Nov. 20.


2007 A Chicago futures trader after another day of losses.


The Finnish miracle
Sonia Verma needed to find a school for her daughters in Qatar, and fast. What she discovered was an educational oasis in the desert with important lessons for Canada
Saturday, August 30, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F4

I had set my alarm for 2 a.m.

the night before and awoke in utter panic. I mentally rechecked the time difference between Toronto and Doha, fumbled for the phone and made the call on which my children's educational future depended.

"Is this Juha? Juha Repo?" I asked the Finnish man who answered.

"Yes, this is Principal Juha."

I launched into the same speech I'd given a dozen others before him: My family is moving to Doha. I am seeking school placement for our daughters.

Yes, I realize it is late to enroll. I know, your school probably has a wait list, and my daughters don't have a hope in hell of getting in. But my children are bright (!) creative (!) gifted even (at least I thought so).

I was one breath short of nominating them for a Nobel Peace Prize when he interrupted: "Actually, you're one of the first parents to call. We'd be delighted to meet with your girls," he said.

Two weeks later, my children and I boarded a plane for Doha on a quest to secure them a Nordic education in the Qatari desert.

My daughters have spent most of their lives happily ensconced in Toronto's West End, a neighbourhood filled with farmers markets and some of the best public schools in the city. But when my husband was offered a job in Doha, Qatar - a tiny Persian Gulf country roughly twice the geographic size of Prince Edward Island - their educational trajectories veered off course.

On one level, this was devastating. Our children - Annie, 7, and Jane, 5 - loved their schools and thrived there. On another level, we were thrilled at our upcoming move to Doha and the opportunity to expose our children to life abroad.

The emirate is a land of superlatives. It sits atop some of the world's largest gas reserves, has the world's fastest growing economy and the world's highest per capita income.

In the past decade, it has channelled some of its staggering wealth into realizing its outsized ambitions: the World Cup in 2022; a sprawling new airport terminal; a state-of-the-art transit system.

Admissions problems

When it comes to education, Qatar really goes to extremes.

Education City, a 14-square-kilometre complex on the outskirts of Doha, wants to be the Ivy League of the region. Cornell, Texas A&M, Carnegie Mellon University and Georgetown University have all opened satellite campuses there. Doha's drive to become the Middle East's hub for education has filtered all the way to the primary-school level.

In theory, we would have our pick of prestigious international schools for our daughters. But as our departure date drew closer, I realized with gnawing horror that we weren't the only expats seeking school placements. Five hundred new people move to Qatar every day, often with children in tow. Virtually every school I called to inquire about admissions was either full or oversubscribed. Even the Canadian School firmly - but politely - turned us down.

The most sought-after schools were British and American. They also had the most punishing admissions process. One asked for my daughter's class rank.

"She's in junior kindergarten.

She doesn't have a rank," I explained in vain. Virtually all of the schools demanded proof of our children's academic prowess. They emphasized behavioural discipline, competition and measured learning outcomes.

"Tell them your children are prodigies at math, or that they've memorized the periodic table or something," one mother advised. The insanity of it all was off-putting, to say the least.

Jane's most recent report card stated: "Her understanding of the physical world is an engaging mixture of science, magic and personification." In most of these schools, I worried her spirit would be suffocated. But the truth was our school options were quickly disappearing.

Then a friend sent me a link to a story from the Doha News announcing a brand new school: The Qatar-Finland International School would admit students between the ages of 5 and 7. It promised a more progressive approach to education than the British and American systems, modelled on Finnish child-centric education principles.

I had stumbled upon the perfect solution to our current mess. I had studied Finland's education system while serving on the editorial board of this paper.

It was one of the best in the world. The Finnish system wasn't just instructive for my children - but for Canada at large, as various provinces struggle with educational reform.

Sisu, a Finnish word that means determination, bravery and resilience, is said to capture the Finnish spirit. I had to get my daughters admitted into this school.

A new system

Why Finland? The county has consistently performed among the top countries on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a standardized test that measures the educational outcomes of 15year-olds in 65 countries around the world. What makes Finland especially interesting is that it wasn't always at the top of the class. Modern Finnish education was built relatively recently - in the last 30 years - with stunning results.

It was done so with the belief that all children, regardless of their social circumstances or innate intelligence, are capable of achieving academic success.

Today, Finland has one of the narrowest achievement gaps in the world. Academic success appears to have lifted all sorts of other economic and quality-oflife indicators. According to the OECD, "Finland is one of the world's leaders in the academic performance of its secondaryschool students, a position it has held for the past decade.

This top performance is also remarkably consistent across schools. Finnish schools seem to serve all students well, regardless of family background, socioeconomic status or ability."

Finland has accomplished all of this by moving in the exact opposite direction of most other countries undergoing educational reform. Pasi Sahlberg, a Finnish educator and author, has chronicled Finland's rise to educational powerhouse in his book Finnish Lessons. He argues that when most countries experience declining educational outcomes, the tendency among policy-makers is to crack down. They increase standardized teaching and testing. Students are subjected to more school, given more instruction in the core subjects of reading, writing and math. Ministries of education draft stricter curricula. Schools are compared to each other, with the hope that greater competition will trigger better results. Schools, teachers and students that persistently lag behind are punished - closed down, fired, failed or expelled.

Finnish education rejects all of these notions. "This little Nordic country of barely 5.5 million people has illuminated a different path to educational and economic goals than those being forged by the Anglo-American groups of nations," Mr. Sahlberg writes. My family was about to walk it.

Bracing for the worst

When we arrived in Doha, I frankly didn't know what to expect from the Finnish admissions team. I was braced for the worst. We did math drills on the car ride over. We practised the pronunciation of "Helsinki".

We were met by a striking woman in square-framed glasses whose last name I could not pronounce to save my life. Tiina Raatikainen, a lead education expert with the school, spent about 45 minutes with each of our daughters. The assessments seemed bizarre. The girls weren't really given any desk work.

Instead, they were asked to throw a ball back and forth 10 times, use scissors to cut a circle, draw a picture of themselves and walk on a straight line - something that incongruously reminded me of a drunk-driving test.

Ms. Raatikainen took incredibly detailed notes, which she shared with us afterward. She seemed just as intent on our reaction to her evaluation as the evaluation itself. Later, she explained many parents were as confounded as we were by the tests.

"To be honest, we are not interested in a child's academic skills at all. From our perspective that would be silly," she said. The motor skills tests, by contrast, "show us a lot and help us diagnose any learning disabilities," she explained. If a learning deficit was detected, it didn't count against the child or banish her to a different classroom.

In Finland, children with learning disabilities are generally placed in regular classes but receive extra support from "learning assistants" if needed.

The student may also be given an individual learning plan with adjusted learning goals.

Annie and Jane's evaluation, it turned out, had nothing to do with being accepted or rejected to the school. Finnish education philosophy accepts all sorts. Assessments are only used by Finnish teachers to get a sense of how they might best be supported to thrive. In Finland, students aren't subjected to standardized tests, nor is it possible to fail a grade.

Finland abandonment of standardized testing is one of the biggest factors that sets it apart from other systems. Another is its teacher training. In Finland, teaching is a highly prestigious profession, equivalent to medicine or law. All teachers, regardless of what grade they instruct, must hold at least a Master's Degree. For every hundred people that apply to teacher's college, only six are accepted at one of eight Finnish universities.

Mr. Repo tells me he only managed to gain admission on his second attempt. "Becoming a teacher in Finland really means something," he said. "In Finland, we believe we have to have highly educated teachers because we have to trust them to do good work."

Finnish teachers are paid roughly the same amount as Canadian ones, earning more based on their years of experience. Professional burnout - something that seems to be epidemic among the teachers I know - simply isn't a factor in Finland. Both Mr. Repo and Ms.

Raatikainen credit this to the fact that teachers are given more freedom to exercise their professional training and more autonomy. They can be creative with how they teach without fear of reprisal, or being secondguessed by the principal or administrator.

Less is more

The final paradox of Finnish education only dawned on me when I received the girls' school calendars. At first, it looked a little thin. School began at 7:30 every morning and ended at 1 p.m. No lesson appeared to last longer than 45 minutes, after which 15 minutes was given for a break. The Finns appeared to have several names for this down time. Besides "break" there was "lunch," "long break," "breakies," "mini break," "extra curricular activities" and (my personal favourite) "Golden time."

The theory is that children learn just as much during unstructured play as they do inside a formal classroom setting - arguably more. The Finnish system flies in the face of the logic that poor student performance can be somehow cured by increasing class time.

In Finland, students don't begin school until the age of 7. The school days are shorter and students are almost never given homework.

According to the OECD, a typical Finnish student, by the time they've reached the age of 14, will have spent 5,500 hours in the classroom. A Canadian student of the same age has spent 7,500. Several OECD studies show Finnish students experience far less anxiety than their peers in other countries. They also do better at school.

When we flew back to Canada to pack up, I reflected on the differences between our approach to education and the Finnish model. Canada's provincial education systems aren't broken, but they could be improved. The most recent PISA survey showed several provinces were slipping in academic performance, particularly in math.

Much of the debate that ensued emphasized stricter curricula and more accountability through yet more testing.

Finland shows there is another way. In the end, Annie and Jane were both offered admission to the school. Their offer letter issued by the Qatar-Finland International School required my husband and I to sign our names. It also required the children's signature - which struck me as odd but was ultimately symbolic.

In Finland, children are neither coddled nor condescended to. They are expected to take an active role in their learning.

When our daughters signed their names, it symbolized they were expected to take personal responsibility for their own education. I wish them all the sisu in the world.

Sonia Verma is a member of The Globe's editorial board.

Associated Graphic

By age 14, Finnish kids have spent 5,500 hours in class, 2,000 hours less than in Canada. The result: better grades, less anxiety.


Battle to create Grasslands park pits ecologists against ranchers
The proposed south Okanagan project has been the source of controversy almost from its inception
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

OSOYOOS, B.C. -- Greg Byron stops his van, and the dust it has been kicking up during the ascent of Kruger Mountain momentarily hangs in the air.

The area's famous grasslands have given way to a growing forest of ponderosa pines, their branches the takeoff and landing site for Brewer's sparrows and pygmy nuthatches and any number of species of birds that will spend the day scouring creases in the bark for insects.

Mr. Byron gathers his guests beside the edge of a mountain lake and points to a cluster of lily pads and a tangle of marsh reeds.

"Do you see him?" he asks.

Eventually a less discerning eye picks up the olive shell and the red, orange and yellow stripes of his neck.

"That is your painted turtle," says Mr. Byron, owner of Great Horned Owl Eco Tours.

"Isn't it beautiful? Isn't all this beautiful? Why you wouldn't want to preserve this as a national park is simply beyond me. This is one of the most special and important places in the entire world."

The tour operator has brought us to the eastern edges of the proposed Grasslands National Park, a 286-square-kilometre tract of land in the south Okanagan that is home to more endangered species than any other region in the country.

The project has been the source of controversy almost from its inception, with hunters and some area ranchers opposed to any infringement on their daily pleasures and way of life.

A couple of years ago, the B.C. government broke off talks with the federal government on the park's future, saying there was not enough consensus in the south Okanagan to continue having discussions. But now a new, pro-park coalition is attempting to pressure Victoria to get back to the table and at least hear Parks Canada out on the benefits associated with its proposal.

The group's call comes amid heightening concerns that the integrity of the country's parks system is under threat as a result of budget cuts and fresh pressure being applied by resource-based industries to open up more land to exploration.

In a recent report, the Canada Parks and Wilderness Society pointed to changes made this year to the B.C. Parks Act as being particularly grievous. Those amendments allow industrial research in parks and make it easier to alter park boundaries to accommodate pipelines and other developments.

The latest offensive by Grassland park proponents is being led by some of the south Okanagan's most prominent citizens.

And their bid to get the park plan back on track has put them distinctly at odds with the region's provincial political representative, Liberal MLA Linda Larson, who is firmly against the idea.

Her position has led some to suggest she is simply repaying wealthy ranchers and others who financially supported her election campaign and who want nothing to do with a national park. The result is a fraught political and social environment that has seen tempers on either side of the debate sometimes get as hot as the summer weather here.

The dispute centres on land in the southern end of the Okanagan Valley that was created some 180 million years ago by a series of continental collisions.

This was followed by a period of intense volcanic activity. Then the Ice Age arrived and the valley became a huge glacier. It eventually retreated, leaving the valley in the state one finds it today.

But its history helps explain the rich topography of the valley, now one of the best wine-growing regions in North America.

Part of that landscape includes the desert grasslands that truly characterize the south Okanagan and set it apart from other valleys in the country. The area is home to a unique and thriving eco-system that boasts some of the rarest plant and animal species found anywhere on Earth. It is for this reason that Parks Canada wants to offer protection from future development by giving the area national park designation.

"There is no other place in Canada like it in terms of its environment and ecology," says biologist Dick Cannings, who has literally written the book on the subject.

"There is no other place in North America with a higher bird diversity rating than the Okanagan.

It's why birders come from all over to see it for themselves."

There are 56 federally listed endangered species in the proposed park area, including birds, mammals and plants not found in another region of the country.

Eleven per cent of all the threatened species in Canada exist here, including the Flammulated Owl and the Great Basin Spadefoot toad. Over 200 species of birds nest in the Okanagan Valley, more than anywhere else in Canada. Fourteen species of bats also call the valley home. There are more than 700 species of wildflowers, 150 different species of butterflies and more than 200 species of grasses in the Okanagan as well.

"The diversity of species is a condition of the diversity of habitat," Mr. Cannings explains. "You have desert grassland and valley floor, you have big lakes, rivers and marshes, you have ponderosa pine forests and Douglas fir and spruce forest and alpine parkland and alpine tundra. So there is a tremendous diversity in environment within a few kilometres of where they want to create this park. It's like no other place in that regard."

Parks Canada first rolled out its proposal in 2006, a design that called for more than 600 square kilometres to be protected. That meant hunting and fishing would be banned in the area, as well as any commercial enterprises. Under park guidelines, ranching would be prohibited too. The early response to the proposal was negative, especially with cattle ranchers and hunters.

Soon, large NO PARK signs began popping up along major roadways in the area. The few Yes signs that were erected were quickly vandalized, some even marred by bullet holes.

This made Parks Canada step back and reconsider its idea. It came back with a new plan less than half the previous size, cutting out an area that was popular with hunters. It also decided to allow existing ranching to continue in perpetuity, but also made clear that any rancher who did want to sell would have, in Parks Canada, a willing buyer at market prices. It also said it was prepared to grandfather the one existing business inside the park, a helicopter company. In other words, the federal government was prepared to give opponents of the park almost everything they wanted.

Doreen Olson, a long-time national park supporter and director of the South Okanagan Similkameen National Park Network, is one of many local residents worried that if ironclad protections aren't put in place, this vital area of the valley will eventually be developed like so many other parts of the region.

"I was in a coffee shop and heard a couple of developers talking about the park and they were saying, 'It's just a bunch of scrub land of no real value,'" Ms. Olson recalls of the moment when she realized that people didn't appreciate what they had here. "We don't have the megafauna that makes a park look attractive. People love to see elk and other flashy animals. We don't have that and most of the species that are endangered are small ugly things like rattlesnakes and bats and crickets. But all those things are important to the grasslands."

Ms. Olson said many people who support the idea of a park are afraid to speak out because they feel intimidated. "Mostly it's the old guard in the area who are opposed to it, and they are generally high-profile in the community and people are afraid to speak up against them. But there is a tremendous amount of silent support for this project, I know it." Jim Wyse, founder of the Burrowing Owl winery in Oliver, concedes the park proposal got off to a rocky start. But now, he believes, it is gaining traction with residents as they learn more about what is actually being proposed - as opposed to what critics are suggesting will occur.

"We need to get the province back at the table," says Mr. Wyse, who for a number of years has led a conservation effort to bring back to the region the owl named after his winery. "I don't think there has been nearly the recognition of the major compromises Parks Canada has made here. This park should be an absolute no-brainer, one that would be a boon for tourism in the area. It's madness that we've just walked away from this opportunity. Other areas would kill for something like this in their backyard."

Holly Plante, past president of the South Okanagan Chamber of Commerce, said studies have been done that show the park would have a significant economic impact. A resolution passed at the recent B.C. Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting said a national park would support 570 full-time equivalent jobs, generate more than $37-million in gross domestic product, $25-million in annual labour income and $49-million in visitor spending annually. The motion called on the B.C. government to re-engage in talks with Parks Canada.

"There is a real solid business case for this park, which I think this provincial government really needs to consider here," Ms. Plante says.

So far, park advocates have been unable to sway the Liberals' Ms. Larson. Speaking on behalf of all the dissenters, Ms. Larson says she can't understand why those who want the park insist on "flogging a dead horse." She dismisses studies that say the park would be an economic generator, saying you can get a study to say anything you want.

She also rejects the numbers associated with the project as "hype" and said no one talks about the economic opportunities that would be squandered if the area was turned into a park - like mining. She said a national park would completely block any chance companies had of exploring their claims, suggesting the Liberals are open to the idea of seeing this area mined.

"Whether the pro-park people want to believe it or not," Ms. Larson said in an interview.

"There are as many or more nonpro people on the other side of this debate."

Ms. Larson believes there are other ways to protect the integrity of the park, without putting it under the restrictions a National Park designation would impose. She said a resource management plan for the area that was sketched out eight years ago would offer protections without infringing on others' ability to use the area to make a living.

For Mr. Wyse and others, the park is worth continuing to fight for. It would offer the greatest degree of protection, and a national park designation would bring in tourists from around the world, he says. He recently led a delegation that met with Environment Minister Mary Polak for nearly an hour. "She didn't kick us out so that's a good thing," he says. There could be further meetings down the road.

Meantime, Greg Byron, who spends several days a week traversing the roads and trails that the proposed national park would encompass, has trouble contemplating all the fuss.

"This is a very fragile ecosystem with all of these endangered species who make their home up there and the area is being degraded by the day because of the ATVs [all-terrain vehicles] running around up there, and the cattle grazing and lots of stuff," he says. "If we don't do something to protect this area we'll see some species disappear from the landscape altogether."

Mr. Byron shakes his head.

"I don't think people understand what they have here. This is special, really special. This is a one-time-only shot, I think. And if we don't do it, shame on us for letting it slip away."

Associated Graphic

Doreen Olsen stands in the South Okanagan Grasslands Protected Area near Osoyoos, B.C., on Thursday.


The south Okanagan region, which includes Blue Lake, above, is home to a unique and thriving eco-system.


The early response to the proposal was negative. Soon, large NO PARK signs began popping up along major roadways in the area. The few Yes signs that were erected were quickly vandalized.

A lifelong do-it-yourselfer
Terry Davis, chief executive officer of Home Hardware
Saturday, August 30, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B3

WATERLOO, ONT. -- He's something of an accidental CEO.

Terry Davis got his start at Home Hardware Stores Ltd. 44 years ago as a warehouse stock picker - a 19-year-old, longhaired hippie fresh out of high school with a wife and newborn daughter to support. A few months later, he applied for and landed a job as a computer programmer, without knowing anything about computers. Over the ensuing years, through a divorce, second marriage and the birth of a second daughter, he kept moving up the corporate ladder and on May 1, at age 63, became CEO.

But he says he never set career goals for himself.

"I had a lot of things thrown at me, to be responsible for," Mr. Davis says over a chicken Caesar salad at his favourite restaurant in the high-tech hub of Waterloo, Ont., just a 10-minute drive from his head office in tiny St. Jacobs (population: 2,011).

"I said yes every time. I would never hem and haw ... You should say yes to every opportunity that comes along. Don't think for a second that you can't do something. Just do it and learn about it."

His do-it-yourself approach has served him well in the brutal home-improvement retail wars, helping his team build Home Hardware into an unlikely contender against U.S. powerhouses Home Depot Inc. and Lowe's Cos., as well as Quebec-based Rona Inc.

Privately held Home Hardware, a co-operative of owners of 1,060 stores with more than $5.4-billion in annual sales, has managed to gain market share in the $40.7-billion Canadian sector over past years and remain a significant player, according to data from trade publication and consultancy Hardlines. The retailer ranks a close third in sales to Rona and Home Depot.

But as Mr. Davis asserts: "It gets tougher every day."

He and his team fight the bigbox stores partly by borrowing from the DIY model of the Mennonite community in St. Jacobs, picking up on its "culture of self-sufficiency," he says. The Mennonites produce their own food and clothing and run their own technology operations, including the injection moulding and pressing machines that they use to make snow shovels, garden rakes, buckets and other products for Home Hardware.

"That strong culture in our area has seeped into the psyche of Home Hardware over the years," he says.

Home Hardware's co-founder, Walter Hachborn, a long-time St. Jacobs resident who, at 93, still comes into the office every day, introduced automation to the retailer early on, Mr. Davis says.

As early as 1967, the company installed its first computers, leading to Mr. Davis's early years as a programmer, taking computer courses, reading up on the subject and even writing proprietary computer programs for the company. "I did everything myself, pretty much."

He feels a bigger influence from St. Jacobs than its Waterloo neighbour, which BlackBerry Ltd. and other tech companies call home.

"We tackle things a little bit differently," he says. "We've got limited resources to work with.

How can we keep up with our competition without having their deep pockets? It makes us a little more creative."

For our lunch, he chooses Waterloo's Wildcraft Grill, where BlackBerry in its heyday rented its three private rooms for meetings so often that the mobile-device firm's executives affectionately called it "the RIM cafeteria." Mr. Davis thought about booking lunch instead at a restaurant in St. Jacobs, but figured it might be too noisy and crowded with summer tourists flocking to see the Mennonites in their horse-driven buggies, women in traditional caps and aprons and the local farmers' market.

He takes his wife, Anne, to Wildcraft for dinner on weekends for steak frites and thriftily collects rewards points from its Bite Club - he's got about 14,000, enough to get a free multi-course group dinner. He usually skips lunch, a habit he got into as a busy computer operator. "I'm a stout person," he says. "If I had three meals a day I'd be even stouter."

Today, he enjoys the crostini appetizer with bacon, granny smith apple and Gruyère cheese and, later, one of the cheesecake lollipops (with a Skor candy coating) that our server brings for free, without our asking.

The intensity of the home-improvement battle isn't apparent from his easygoing demeanour and tendency to crack jokes.

He's quick to acknowledge he's a "terrible" handyman and leaves the heavy-lifting to his wife or a Home Hardware contractor. "I can build shelves and I can do very basic things," he says. "I haven't plumbed anything lately."

He likes punk rock. The licence plate on his silver Ram 1500 4X4 pick-up truck says "CLASHFAN," a nod to the band that he fell in love with in his 20s.

Michael McLarney, president of Hardlines, says Mr. Davis can be lighthearted, but runs a tight ship at head office. "You think it's that nice sleepy company tucked away in Mennonite country," Mr. McLarney says. "Don't be fooled."

Mr. Davis credits his late father for his sense of humour and can-do attitude. A former mayor of Uxbridge, a town north of Toronto where Mr. Davis grew up, his father, a veterinarian, "was always telling me to do something I love. 'Whatever you do, don't get stuck in a factory job.' I never saw him mopey. I never saw him down about things. He was just a very positive guy."

As a child, he drove to farms with his father to watch him deliver calves and chase down pigs to give them shots. "We hung around a lot." His mother taught him to be frugal. She would reuse aluminum foil and store it in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator.

When he was 16, his father got a senior job with the Ontario agriculture and food ministry in Guelph, Ont., where the family moved. "I was from a little town and I'm going to a city. Guelph had its own radio station. I thought this was a big deal. I really thought it was kind of cool to move."

His dad helped him find his first job at Home Hardware and encouraged him to stay with the small, young company. "He felt it was clean work and a product that would always be in need ... He was very strong about having a business sense about things.

As a veterinarian he would tell me, 'You could be the best farmer in the world but if you don't have good business sense it didn't matter, your farm would fail.' "Mr. Davis has no misgivings about not having earned a university degree, although he took accounting and marketing night courses at Wilfrid Laurier University. "I was getting my education on the job."

"One of the things I hated about Wilfrid Laurier was that they did a lot of case studies with group work," he says. "I know it doesn't make me sound like a collaborative person. But I liked that aspect of it - I could just get into something in depth on my own and really think it through and approach it like a puzzle and figure out how to solve it. I like working with people too: I wouldn't read too much into that."

On the personal side, one of his toughest moments was during his breakup with his first wife, although he says it was amicable and they even used the same lawyer.

"To go and talk to your teenage daughter and tell her that her parents are getting divorced - it's tough on a person," he says. "I still feel, 'What a crappy thing to have done to my daughter at the time. But that's life - it doesn't always work out.' "Going to tell my mom that we were getting divorced, driving out to tell her the news - that feeling in your gut: you just feel you're letting so many people down."

He met his second wife, Anne, within 18 months at the local Lulu's, at the time known for being the Guinness record holder for the world's longest bar.

They live in Fergus, Ont., about 25 minutes from his office, and had another daughter, Devon, now 28, who spent time teaching English in Korea and is now an elementary school teacher.

His eldest daughter, Stori, is now 43 and lives in Raleigh, N.C., with her husband and two children. His daughters' travels over the years have given him the chance to see new places as he visited them, he says.

One of his biggest challenges on the job came about a decade ago, when Rona quietly made an informal offer to merge or team up with Home Hardware, which it ultimately rejected. Mr. Davis, as vice-president of strategic planning, was subsequently charged with transforming Home Hardware from its entrepreneurial roots to a more growth-driven player, recruiting independent hardware stores into the network. For the first time, it started to pay incentives to store owners to sign on, which didn't sit well with some existing dealers. In the past six years, the retailer has signed up more than 130 new dealers, he says.

Home Hardware benefited from Rona's troubles, strategic shifts and opposition from its own independent dealers to an unfriendly takeover proposal from Lowe's in 2012, he suggests. Rona also recruits independent store owners to its mix of independently owned small shops and corporate-owned big box outlets. "You don't want to be with a company that's changing direction every couple of years," Mr. Davis says.

His other pressing challenge is persuading about 10 per cent of his store owners who resisted investing in upgrading their "shabby" stores to do so. As well, he needs to persuade a smaller percentage of them who have resisted adopting e-commerce to embrace it.

What's next for Mr. Davis?

Each of his two predecessors as CEO held the top position for 25 years. "The next guy, he ain't gonna be around for 25 years because he's 63," he says of himself with a smile. "The board will want me to make sure that I have the next generation of leadership in place by the time I move on." Succession planning is on his to-do list.


Born: Uxbridge, Ont., Jan. 14, 1951

Family: Divorced, remarried Anne, two daughters, one from each marriage, Stori, 43, and Devon, 28. Two grandchildren, Evan, 13, and Brynn, 10. He lives in Fergus, Ont.

Beginnings: His late father was a veterinarian, former mayor of Uxbridge and a senior official with the Ontario agriculture and food ministry. His mother raised the children, four boys and a girl, while helping his father with his practice, which was in the back of their family home.

Positions at Home Hardware: Started as warehouse stock picker in St. Jacobs in 1970, soon after became a computer programmer. From 1981, he held a wide array of senior positions, including vice-president of information services, vice-president of marketing, vice-president of dealer development, vice-president of strategic planning, and chief operating officer. "I was lucky at Home Hardware, I got to try a lot of different things over the years."

His view of his biggest corporate achievement: writing a software system for the retailer in 1973 that allows automatic inventory orders of its store "dealers" (owners) if the warehouse has run out of the merchandise they ordered rather than the dealers having to reorder it.

Another corporate highlight: On 2012, as chief operating officer, he donned a wig and dark mascara to cover up his grey eyebrows to appear for a week on Undercover Boss Canada after then CEO Paul Straus turned down a request to participate in it.

Leisure activities: He plays bocce, which he learned from the late Pat Paulsen during a chance meeting in 1980 with the Smothers Brothers comedian - and U.S. presidential candidate - at a hotel in Edmonton where Mr. Paulsen was performing. "He's out in the courtyard of the hotel throwing bocce balls," Mr. Davis recalls. "He was desperate for a partner." Mr. Davis also kayaks and golfs, although of the latter he says "I'm terrible at it." He plays Tuesdays after work in a company golf league.

Associated Graphic


Last stand
Behind the good-ol'-boy exterior, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons shows a keen baseball mind, tempered with a healthy dose of humility. 'Baseball's not rocket science,' he says, knowing that his job is on the line if the Jays don't improve
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

TORONTO -- John Gibbons is gregarious, with a distinctive cackle and a self-deprecating sense of humour, and it is often standing room only when the self-described "dumb Texan" meets each day with the media in his Rogers Centre office.

The coming game is often the last subject to be discussed. The latest crisis in the Middle East, the war on terror, U.S. gun control, Hillary Clinton - these are all topics that the Toronto Blue Jays manager has been known to weigh in on. The son of a career military man, a fan of the John Wayne guts-and-glory flick The Green Berets, Gibbons is a staunch right-winger willing to take on all comers.

"I'm a very proud, patriotic guy," the 52-year-old said in a recent interview. "It comes from watching my dad - very hard-working, very disciplined type of guy. The military brings a lot of that out of you. Sometimes, I guess when things are in your blood, it just kind of takes you that way."

Gibbons is in his seventh campaign as a manager in Major League Baseball, all with the Blue Jays, a job for which he was hired on two separate occasions even though he never actively sought the post. His detractors - and there are many - continue to doubt that the man with the good-ol'-boy persona (and the mumbling drawl of Boomhauer from the King of the Hill cartoon) is the right guy to lead the Blue Jays into the gloryland of the postseason, a place they haven't gone for 21 long years.

To others, Gibbons is the perfect fit for the tough job that lies ahead: a knowledgeable, personable baseball man beneath the often-taciturn exterior. Despite the Blue Jays' Jekyll-and-Hyde on-field performance this season, their play alternating between inspiring and indifferent, the confounding outfit remains in the hunt for an American League wildcard spot. After dropping three games in Seattle, the Jays opened a weekend series against the Chicago White Sox on Friday night.

The final six weeks of the regular season will be the defining moment - not only for a franchise desperate to relive its 1992 and '93 World Series days, but also for a baseball lifer trying to prove he has the guile to pull it all off. He and the man who hired him the second time, Jays' general manager Alex Anthopoulos, are now inextricably linked, their jobs likely both on the line as the season speeds toward October. Gibbons deflects the pressure.

"Baseball's not rocket science," is his take on the game. "It's not like football, where Xs and Os are everything. Baseball, basically everybody does the same thing. They just choose when they're going to do it. It's really pretty much a simple game."

Gibbons was one of four managers whom Brian Butterfield worked for during his 10 years as a coach with the Blue Jays, and in his estimation you will not find a better baseball mind in the game.

"Everybody has their own distinct strengths, their own unique personalities," said Butterfield, now thirdbase coach with the Boston Red Sox. "It was easy for me to draw close to Gibby just because of the type of man he is. I think one of the things he brings, other than great baseball knowledge, is a great way with people. He's always got his players' backs, he always has his coaches' backs. He's a man's man. He's one of my best friends in baseball."

'I'm not too fascinated by myself'

Talk to people who know Gibbons best and, in a profession where egos soar, they all describe a man singularly without one.

Certainly his playing days were a lesson in humility. Gibbons was a first-round draft choice of the New York Mets in 1980, a hot prospect, but his major-league career was a bust. A star catcher in high school, he played in only 18 games over two seasons with the Mets, in 1984 and '86, batting just .220 and hitting one home run.

He doesn't have the home-run ball as a memento. Nor did he keep any of his baseball cards, either from MLB or the minor leagues, where he slogged through 10 years, from 1980 through 1990, before deciding coaching might be a better option.

"I've never been one of those guys - nostalgic, keeps a lot of stuff," Gibbons said. "At my house, there's a couple of baseball things sitting around. I'm just a normal guy. I'm not too fascinated by myself."

One thing he managed to hang on to was the 1986 World Series ring he earned with the Mets, even though he was not on the active playoff roster. The Mets kept him around to catch the odd bullpen session, and for that he got the treasured trinket.

It sits in a safe-deposit box in a bank in San Antonio, Tex., where Gibbons and his wife, Julie, raised their three children and where they still live.

Today, working in Toronto, Gibbons carries a cellphone that shows the San Antonio weather on the main display. He was a two-sport highschool star in Texas, baseball and football, and even then his tastes ran simple. The purchase of a Datsun 280Z, the classic Japanese sports car of the day, was one of the lone early extravagances he allowed himself after signing with the Mets.

"He was a big REO Speedwagon fan, I remember that," said Mike Hennessy, a former Mets minor-league player who roomed with Gibbons in the early 1980s. "Johnny just loved them and he turned me onto them. Then he had that beautiful 280Z. To this day, it remains my all-time favourite car."

Back then, Gibbons was a well-puttogether, 5-foot-11, 190-pound athlete, lantern-jawed with bright blue eyes. Blue jeans and cowboy boots were his clothing of choice - still are. "He always reminded me of Luke Skywalker from Star Wars," Hennessy said. "He wasn't a ladies man but he easily could have been. He was always focused on his career."

After retiring as a player, Gibbons started working in the Mets organization as a roving minor-league instructor. In 1995, he landed his first minor-league managing job in Kingsport, Tenn., a rookie-level Mets affiliate, and led them to the Appalachian League championship in his first season.

Managing gigs followed in Port St. Lucie, Fla., Binghamton, N.Y., and Norfolk, Va., before J.P. Ricciardi gave him his big break in 2002. Another former minor-league roommate, Ricciardi had risen to become the Blue Jays GM and was in the market for a bullpen catcher. Gibbons took the job.

Before the summer was over, the Texan was promoted to first-base coach and then, in August, 2004, was appointed interim manager after Carlos Tosca was fired. The team was 4764 at the time.

"We got pounded that day [8-2 by the New York Yankees]," Gibbons said. "I was just walking through the clubhouse and was about to get into the shower and J.P. said, 'Don't go anywhere, I need to talk to you.' So I hung around and he cut Tosca loose and then told me I was the new interim manager."

The placement was made permanent once the season ended. But the transition to the major leagues was not seamless for Gibbons, who can be a demanding taskmaster if he does not believe his players are performing to his standards.

His temper got the best of him on two celebrated occasions in 2006.

Gibbons challenged infielder Shea Hillenbrand to a fight during a team meeting after the infielder wrote the "ship is sinking" on the clubhouse bulletin board. About a month later, Gibbons got into skirmish with pitcher Ted Lilly, who became upset after getting removed from a game. Gibbons was embarrassed by the publicity and subsequently made a conscious effort to handle contentious matters behind closed doors.

Butterfield, who was on the Blue Jays coaching staff during both the altercations, said Gibbons's actions were justified.

"Every one of those run-ins that he had with every player that I know of, he was 100 per cent in the right," Butterfield said. "And if any of those guys that he had run-ins with that everybody knew about, they were 100-per-cent wrong. That needs to be out there."

Nonetheless, after a mostly undistinguished five-year run with the Blue Jays where the team's best finish was second place in 2006 with an 87-75 record, Gibbons was fired during the 2008 campaign. His big-league managing career, it seemed, was over.

Gibbons has shown his steely side

For Gibbons, though, it turned out there was a second act. Following a tempestuous 2012 season, when Blue Jays manager John Farrell decided he wanted to manage his former team in Boston, new Toronto GM Anthopoulos went searching for a replacement. He yearned to hire a manager not only with major-league experience but also someone he would feel comfortable working alongside, and his thoughts kept drifting back to Gibbons, whom he'd known during the Texan's first stint in Toronto.

When Anthopoulos contacted Gibbons, who was managing his hometown team, the Double-A San Antonio Missions, he assumed he was going to be offered a coaching position with the big-league outfit. He admits he was dumbfounded when Anthopoulos offered him the managing job - but not enough to turn down a second opportunity to run the show in Toronto.

His return season in 2013 was a disaster, despite being handed a seemingly gilt-edged roster, the result of a massive off-season makeover by Anthopoulos. Such high-pedigree stars as R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes were brought on board, but a team many predicted had World Series potential instead fell flat, finishing last in the division.

This season has offered more promise, the written-off team beating expectations in a weakened division. But while keeping his temper in check, Gibbons has shown his steely side. In June, Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar threw a tantrum, heaving his bat in frustration in the dugout after Gibbons dared to pinch-hit for the .225 hitter. After the game, Pillar was quickly exiled back to the minors - no fuss, no muss.

"He has a certain expectation level that he demands out of everyone, about how you handle yourself as a professional," said closer Casey Janssen, one of Toronto's longest-serving players. "He gives you just a longenough leash until you burn him and then he tightens it up a little bit."

Nonetheless, the rumblings have returned about the Blue Jays' leadership, and Gibbons himself allows that, whatever happens in Toronto, he is unlikely to manage anywhere else in the majors.

"I don't even know that I'd want to do it somewhere else," he said. "I'm not old by any standards. I've got kids; they're all grown up. My wife has been tugging my family along. I love baseball and would want to stay in it in some capacity. But I'm not one of those guys that has to have this in his life. I'm not obsessed with it."

For now, he is just focused on the next game, realizing that the only way to silence the critics is winning.

Losing, he says, takes a toll. "The lows from the losses last a lot longer than the highs from the wins," Gibbons said. "They just do more to you, they wear on you. You know what? If you ever get used to losing, it's time to move on."

Associated Graphic

Manager John Gibbons, whose Toronto Blue Jays are fighting for a playoff position, says, 'If you ever get used to losing, it's time to move on.'


Like a lot of players, John Gibbons had more of a minor-league career than a major-league one. His duties as a catcher took him to Albuquerque, Oklahoma City, Tidewater and 18 games with the Mets, before he eventually landed as a coach, then manager (twice), with Toronto.

Cover boy
As he announces his retirement after four decades as one of Canada's most celebrated magazine editors, John Macfarlane tells James Adams the stories behind six issues that define his remarkable career
Saturday, August 30, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R5

Earlier this month, John Macfarlane announced his intention to step down, at the end of 2014, as editor and co-publisher of The Walrus. Of course, the seeing will be the believing. When Macfarlane, 72, joined the current-affairs magazine in July, 2008, shortly after a 15-year run as editor of Toronto Life, he thought it would be largely a "part-time" gig, lasting a year at most. Enough time, he figured, to put the award-winning but troubled periodical on a firmer footing institutionally, financially and editorially. Six years and umpteen National Magazine Awards later, he's still on the masthead.

"I freely admit I stayed on because I found that I was enjoying myself," Macfarlane said recently, during an interview at The Walrus offices in downtown Toronto. "I thought I never wanted to edit a magazine ever again. But it turned out I was just tired of editing Toronto Life after all that time!" Thus, part-time became full-time, with Macfarlane opting to stay the course "until I wasn't enjoying it, or I didn't feel we were making any progress, or I was asked to leave."

At this juncture, Macfarlane's departure is contingent "on whatever success we have finding my successor." At the same time, intimations of mortality are at play. "I can see the horizon. I now understand that I'm not going to live forever. There are things that I want to do while I'm still relatively healthy that I can't do while working full-time."

Anyone writing a history of the last 40 or 50 years of the Canadian periodical industry in particular, and journalism in general, would be remiss to not give due consideration to Macfarlane. Just naming the publications, defunct and extant, he's published, edited, revitalized and sometimes helped shutter - among them, Saturday Night, Weekend, Maclean's, the Financial Times of Canada - is enough to evoke the bitter and sweet nature of what's always been a precarious trade. With this in mind, The Globe and Mail asked Macfarlane to pick a handful of issues he's helped produce, and to discuss their significance professionally and personally.

Toronto Life, January, 1973

I went to Toronto Life [in 1972] when Michael de Pencier and Peter Gzowski had just purchased it. I'd been at Maclean's as associate editor, and they invited me to come edit Toronto Life. It was the first time I had my own magazine. We all shared the same vision: We wanted to turn Toronto Life, heretofore a kind of society magazine, started in 1966, into a real city magazine like the one Clay Felker had [with] New York. The only trouble was, we didn't have much money and there was only a staff of three.

This issue followed the December, 1972, municipal election, and we'd commissioned a writer, John Aitken, to do a sort of Theodore White/The Making of the Mayor 1972. There were three main candidates [including eventual winner David Crombie]. The cover concept we had was of the winner, in a tuxedo, kneeling down, kind of doing a showbiz victory gesture. But because there was no Photoshop back then, we had to shoot all three candidates, then tack their faces, somehow, on the body of a model, because we didn't know who was going to win ...

But I don't think I made it to the end of 1973. I eventually burned out. Three of us putting out a magazine that, I admit, sometimes was as small as 68 pages was more pressure than I could handle. So I left. Someone offered me a lot of money to go into public relations. I submitted and I went to the dark side.

Weekend, March 11, 1978

Macfarlane stayed out of journalism for more than 18 months, but in 1975 Peter Newman, editor of Maclean's, invited him to return to that magazine as executive editor to help oversee its transition from a current-affairs monthly to a fortnightly news periodical.

In 1976, while at Maclean's, I was recruited to edit Weekend, which at that time was a Montreal-based supplement carried in The Globe and Mail, The Kingston WhigStandard, the Vancouver Sun and other newspapers. I told the headhunter that I didn't think an English-Canadian magazine could be edited out of Montreal at that time. [René Lévesque's sovereigntist Parti Québécois had just been elected, and Quebeckers of all stripes were "entirely focused" with the fallout.] I thought it would have to be moved to Toronto, the centre of magazine publishing in Canada.

Eventually, they agreed.

Weekend had a circulation of 1.7 million when I was there, and I had a bigger budget than I ever dreamed of, or ever saw again. And when it was folded [in 1979], I said that it was the end of an era in which Canadian editors could afford to behave in ways that New York editors take for granted. If I wanted to send Adrienne Clarkson to China for the 30th anniversary of the revolution, I could do it! We brought over two great art directors from London, Robert Priest and Derek Ungless, and near the end The New York Times was syndicating Weekend stories all over the world.

This is the first issue of the redesigned, reinvented Weekend. However, the cover [by scabrous British artist Ralph Steadman, best known for his work illustrating Hunter S. Thompson's journalism; and referring to a story on the Newfoundland seal hunt] was so raw it created a bit of an incident in St. John's, because it was included in the Evening Telegram.

Later, we did a story on a defrocked priest, and I think the publisher of the St. John's paper manually tore out that article from every Weekend issue.

Saturday Night, January, 1987

When Weekend died, I got a job as publisher of Saturday Night, not editor. [Robert] Fulford was, and he generously allowed me to be a part of the editorial process. My main job was to keep the magazine afloat, and I didn't realize until the end of my seven years there that what we were trying to do was impossible: You couldn't do a magazine like Harper's or The Atlantic in a country [that's one-tenth the size of the United States].

This issue was a special one, marking Saturday Night's 100th anniversary. The plan was to sell 100 pages of ads. We didn't succeed. We had about 125,000 paid circulation, but 50,000 of that was bogus; it was agency sales, it was people paying a dollar a month for five Canadian magazines. The problem was, they were buying the magazine for the wrong reasons - it was cheap - and they didn't renew subscriptions. Still, this was a wonderful issue; there are stories by Ron Graham, David Macfarlane, Jan Morris, Mordecai Richler, Margaret Atwood, John Kenneth Galbraith. And it was 192 pages.

Then Conrad [Black] bought it [in summer, 1987]. I remember vividly Norman Webster, who owned it then, coming into my office late on a Thursday afternoon - we knew he was looking for new ownership - and saying, "We've found a buyer." And I said, "Terrific. Who is it?" and he said, "Conrad Black," and I replied, "That's great, too" because I knew Conrad had the resources to support it. Then Norman said, "The only problem is, he doesn't want you."

The Financial Times of Canada, January, 1988

Macfarlane shifted to The Financial Times of Canada, a Toronto-based weekly business periodical then owned by Southam, where he worked first as a consultant, then editor, then editor/publisher. Macfarlane subsequently hired Ungless, at that time art director for Rolling Stone, to redesign FT as a tabloid, with a buff-coloured front page. Writers included now-former Globe and Mail staffers John Stackhouse, Michael Posner, Patricia Best and Sarah Murdoch.

We described it to ourselves as "Business Week meets Rolling Stone" because we focused not solely on the mathematics of business but also on its Shakespearean elements - the narratives, the human stories - which the other papers, like The Globe's Report on Business, and the Financial Post, weren't doing.

What I didn't know about business journalism then would have filled a library! I remember the first day I arrived for work, Oct. 19, 1987, was Black Monday; there was panic in the newsroom; the Dow Jones was plummeting by 508 points - and I barely knew what was happening. So I was on a very steep learning curve. Which I loved. It was like doing an MBA outside a university. [In 1989, Southam sold FT to Thomson Corp., proprietors of The Globe and Mail, and it was closed in spring, 1995.]

Toronto Life, October, 2007

Departing FT in 1990, Macfarlane spent two years at CTV as managing director of news, features and information programming before returning to Toronto Life, this time as editor, in the summer of 1992. Again, he was charged with overseeing a redesign, duly implemented in early 1993 with help from Ungless, Priest and Bruce Mau.

When the Conrad Black criminalfraud trial came along [in March, 2007], I knew it was maybe the biggest Toronto story of the last quarter-century. But unlike The Globe or the Toronto Star, we didn't have the resources to cover it. So I thought, I'm gonna go out and get the biggest name I can get and I'm gonna pay that person more than anybody's been paid for a magazine article in Canada but not enough to spend two or three months in Chicago every day. This was Peter C. Newman, with whom I'd worked, and who knew Conrad. At the end of the trial, Newman wrote this - oh, it must have been 15,000 words, with a cover by Anita Kunz depicting Conrad as Humpty Dumpty. Newman was pretty savage, I have to admit. But it was a natural Toronto Life story: We had to do something big, and we did.

The Walrus, October, 2013

Around the time of the publication of the Black cover story, Macfarlane, then 65, announced he'd be leaving Toronto Life at the end of 2007. He thought he'd like to serve on sundry boards, which he'd already been doing voluntarily with not-for-profits since the mid-seventies. Today, he says,"I don't know if I'd have been very successful." Luckily, Ken Alexander, the co-founder, original publisher, and later editor of The Walrus, was departing the magazine after five years.When publisher Shelley Ambrose and Allan Gregg, then-chair of The Walrus Foundation, sought Macfarlane's service, he agreed.

This is the 10th-anniversary issue, a milestone for any magazine, but also emblematic for me of the changed and more secure circumstances of The Walrus.

We've established a business model that works. We've demonstrated that if you want to do a magazine like The Walrus in this country, you can't make it viable with just circulation and advertising. The third leg of the stool is philanthropy and events: fundraising.

Five or six years ago, if Shelley had gone to somebody else and said, "We'd like you to edit the magazine," that somebody likely already had a job, maybe a mortgage, maybe kids to educate, and he or she would have asked, "Will The Walrus be around in a year?" and Shelley couldn't have looked that person in the eye and said, "Yes." Now we can. Five or six years ago, we were pretty close to shutting the place down. Today we can look for an editor who has skills I don't have and we'll be able to say to that person, "The Walrus will be here 10 years from now and we'll be able to pay you what you're worth."

Quotations have been edited and condensed.

Associated Graphic

Macfarlane's reason for working to age 72: 'I found that I was enjoying myself.'


Some of Macfarlane's standout issues.


A stern judge of 'the world's fastest sport'
He officiated 718 regular-season NHL games, and was in the thick of the Richard-Laycoe donnybrook of 1955
Special to The Globe and Mail
Monday, September 1, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S6

Frank Udvari was booed in every building in which he worked.

For 15 seasons, he refereed games during the NHL's original-six era, a time of train travel, back-to-back weekend games and animosities so acute not even the most judicious of arbiters could please the crowd.

Mr. Udvari, who has died at 90, earned induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1973, an honour that probably befuddled players who felt they had been unfairly punished in the past.

"I was never a players' referee," Mr. Udvari once said. "I called the game by the rulebook and was overly officious for many, many years."

A hockey referee is a peacemaker set amid a dozen scofflaws, his only weapon a whistle. It is his unenviable task to act as investigator, prosecutor and judge in the world's fastest sport. Justice is administered swiftly, infraction to conviction to sentencing happening in an instant.

Many a coach and general manager wound up with a lighter wallet after being fined by the league for criticizing Mr. Udvari's verdicts. Tommy Ivan of the Chicago Black Hawks called him "gutless," a charge later repeated by Detroit's Sid Abel. Punch Imlach of the Toronto Maple Leafs declared him to be "the worst referee in the league." Frank Selke of the Montreal Canadiens wanted him banned from working games at the Montreal Forum. At least once, Mr. Udvari needed a police escort from the ice to the officials' dressing room at the Forum.

Disgruntled fans tossed orange peels and other debris at him, while also launching eggs, bottles of ink and, in Detroit, the occasional octopus onto the ice.

The referee's workday included being bruised, punched, and crunched in the corners by hellbent skaters.

Once, Lou Fontinato carelessly slashed Mr. Udvari in the face, opening a gash that needed six stitches to close.

For all that, Mr. Udvari missed only two assignments during his NHL career, both games on the same weekend as he tended to a coincidentally sick parent and an ailing wife.

In the days when a single referee worked a hockey game, Mr. Udvari endured hours alone - on trains, in hotel rooms, in restaurants dining on a pregame steak - before working for three hours in a crowded arena where he might be the only neutral observer amid a braying mob of partisans.

He handled his share of melees and donnybrooks over the years, including a game with a notorious stick-swinging duel involving Maurice (Rocket) Richard, whose subsequent suspension led to rioting on the streets of downtown Montreal.

Known for wearing well-tailored suits off the ice, Mr. Udvari had what at the time was described as dark features - a slight pompadour, black eyebrows, a blockish head.

He was in good shape, spending two hours daily working on stops and starts on his skates, and was known for hoisting himself off the ice by grabbing onto the top of the glass above the boards.

Frank Joseph Udvari was born to Eva and Martin Udvari on Jan. 2, 1924, at Srpski Miletic, a village in what is now part of Serbia. He came to Canada from Yugoslavia at the age of eight.

A mill owner in his homeland, Martin Udvari worked in a tire factory in Guelph, Ont., before taking a job as a janitor. Frank did not learn to skate until he was 12. He is listed as playing a single Junior-B game for the Kitchener Greenshirts.

As a youth, he showed greater promise on the diamond than on the ice. In 1949, he employed a deft glove and enjoyed a high batting average while playing first base for the Galt Terriers of the Intercounty Major Baseball League, a semi-professional circuit in Ontario.

Mr. Udvari returned to the rink for the 1950-51 season as a referee for the Junior-A Ontario Hockey Association.

In a 1951 game, he assessed a bench penalty to the St. Catharines Teepees for banging their sticks on the side of the boards before a faceoff. (The Teepees were trying to alert teammates on the ice they had too many skaters.) The penalty incensed Teepees coach Rudy Pilous, who hauled his team off the ice. The referee then declared the game forfeited.

The feud would carry on to the NHL, where Mr. Pilous coached the Black Hawks.

Mr. Udvari made his NHL debut in 1951, a rookie with a part-time role in a fraternity whose members could be counted on one hand.

After Georges Gravel underwent gallbladder surgery, Mr. Udvari took his place in a rotation that included Red Storey (a former football star and Grey Cup winner), Jack Mehlenbacher (a harness racer by day and referee by night), and one-eyed Bill Chadwick, a legendary official whose hand signals for calling penalties were officially adopted by the NHL in 1956.

The refs wore white dress shirts with black neckties and a V-necked sweater with the NHL crest on the left breast.

Then, briefly, they wore orange sweaters, which were confusing in games featuring teams with red sweaters (Detroit, Chicago, Montreal) and, besides, showed up black on television, an entertainment growing in popularity.

The league adopted the familiar black-and-white zebra sweaters for referees at a meeting in December, 1955.

In a game in Boston during his first season, Mr. Udvari blew his whistle to halt play, though it turned out the goalie was not holding the puck. Just then, Milt Schmidt of the hometown Bruins knocked the loose puck into the net. The Bruins player skated over to the rookie referee, engaging in a spirited conversation that excited the Boston partisans.

"The fans littered the ice with all kinds of garbage, figuring he was giving me hell," Mr. Udvari told sports writer Jeff Hicks three years ago.

Instead, the player was animatedly inquiring as to the well-being of mutual friends back home in Ontario, deliberately rousing the crowd without incurring the referee's wrath.

In a game on Dec. 9, 1953, Bud MacPherson of the Canadiens tussled with Eric Nesterenko of the Maple Leafs just as a Toronto line change was taking place late in the game.

To even out the numbers, a quantity of Montreal players left the bench, causing the full Toronto bench to enter the melee. The penalty box was full by the time Mr. Udvari cleared the docket. He called a record 36 penalties, including four majors for fighting and 17 misconducts.

A total of $375 in fines was also assessed. (Oh, and Toronto beat Montreal, 3-0.) Mr. Udvari later described the brawl as the War of 1812 because the fighting began at 18:12 of the third period.

After a decade in the league, the referee looked back on his early days and shuddered at the errors he made.

"It's a marvel I kept my job," he said. "I was always in trouble. It was strictly my own fault.

I irritated players by giving them penalties sort of triumphantly. I sensed hostility the minute I stepped on the ice. I worried all the time - had two X-rays for ulcers."

In a game at Boston Garden on March 13, 1955, Boston defenceman Hal Laycoe clipped a streaking Rocket Richard with his stick.

"Rocket was going down the right wing and Hal went to hook him on the shoulder," Mr. Udvari recalled on the 40th anniversary of one of the most notorious incidents in hockey history.

"His stick came up and cut the Rocket just above the eye.

Rocket kept on going, firing a backhand shot that hit the goal post behind Sugar Jim Henry.

"Rocket went around the net.

I had my hand up for a penalty [on Laycoe] when Rocket showed me the blood. I said, 'I got it.' But he went right after Hal."

The defenceman had dropped his stick to prepare for a fistfight, but instead Mr. Richard chopped at his adversary with a two-handed swing. The stick nicked Mr. Laycoe's ear before splintering on his shoulder.

Unsatisfied, Mr. Richard grabbed another stick and slashed again.

As the two men grappled, linesman Cliff Thompson, a burly part-time undertaker who had played six games for the Bruins before being called away to war, tried to separate Mr. Richard from his quarry.

The official took two punches to the face.

The parties were called to a meeting at the Montreal office of NHL president Clarence Campbell. Mr. Richard explained he struck the linesman by accident, as he was dazed and had blood in his eyes from a gash that needed five stitches to close. An unsympathetic president, who had conducted a long and public feud with the Montreal star, suspended Mr. Richard for the final three games of the season, as well as the entire playoffs. The unprecedented punishment would cost Mr. Richard the league scoring title, as he would be passed by teammate Bernie (Boom Boom) Geoffrion.

Mr. Campbell made the unwise decision to attend the next Montreal home game, where he was pelted with food and rubber shoes. A hooligan reached out as if to shake his hand only to punch him.

The crowd fled the Forum after a gas canister was opened at one end of the rink, and for the next four hours, a mob surged along downtown streets, smashing store windows in what came to be called the Richard Riot.

Mr. Udvari also made his share of controversial calls on disputed goals. In a single Stanley Cup final game in 1962, the referee disallowed two goals. The first cost the Black Hawks, as he blew his whistle to halt play after losing sight of the puck, believing it was in the possession of Toronto goalie Johnny Bower. Instead, Stan Mikita banged the puck home. "Everybody in the country saw the puck - except Udvari," fumed Chicago's coach.

Then, the referee waved off a goal by Toronto's Ed Litzenberger, ruling he had illegally struck the puck when it was above his shoulder. "That was a good goal," the Leafs skater insisted.

"Heck, I'm 6 foot 3, and if I had hit it with my stick above the shoulder it would have gone over the net."

Mr. Udvari hung up his whistle and No. 1 striped shirt after the 1965-66 season, having officiated 718 regular-season NHL games and another 70 in the playoffs.

He then took supervisory positions with the league. Once off the ice, he had friendlier relationships with players. Gordie Howe once teased him by saying, "I see you finally got eyeglasses."

He had sold insurance throughout his hockey days, later building a property portfolio including apartment buildings.

Mr. Udvari died in hospital at London, Ont., on Aug. 13. He leaves Colette (née Reinhardt), his wife of 68 years. He also leaves a son, a daughter, three grandchildren and a sister.

His final game as an on-ice NHL official came unexpectedly on Dec. 30, 1978. He was in the press box at Nassau Coliseum in New York as a supervisor when referee Dave Newell took a puck in the jaw and was unable to continue. Mr. Udvari borrowed a pair of skates from the Islanders' Bryan Trottier, donned a spare zebra shirt and handled the game while wearing suit pants.

The final cameo was remarkable as a rare instance in which a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame returned to the ice.

It is also remembered because Mr. Udvari, seeking to be fair to the end, waved off a goal by Mr. Trottier.

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Associated Graphic

Renowned for being steely and once called 'the worst referee in the league,' Frank Udvari was known for hoisting himself off the ice by grabbing onto the top of the glass above the boards.


Disgruntled fans sometimes threw debris at Mr. Udvari, and at least once, he needed a police escort from the ice to the dressing room.


In the week since a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed African-American teenager in a small St. Louis suburb, the familiar demons of race and violence returned in full force to rattle the U.S. consciousness. In death, 18-year-old Michael Brown has become a rallying point - even a metaphor - for broader grievances over racial profiling, the militarization of the police and the absence of minorities in positions of power. Still, this is not the 1960s, or even the 1990s. The fury in this corner of Missouri sparked clashes and peaceful vigils, while social media proved itself a powerful venue for protest. Joanna Slater and Joe Friesen report on what we are learning from Ferguson
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A8


Police departments, even in small towns, are armed with military equipment

Some of the most disturbing images to emerge from Ferguson feature police officers sporting equipment that would be right at home in a war zone. The clashes in Missouri underscore the progressive militarization of America's police forces since the 1980s, a trend spurred by several government programs.

For decades, the U.S. Defense Department has handed off unneeded military equipment to local police forces at no cost. The Department of Homeland Security has also provided grants to police to purchase various types of equipment under the broad rubric of fighting terrorism. The allure of free stuff has proved irresistible. The town of Dundee, Mich., (population 3,900), acquired an armoured mine-resistant vehicle weighing roughly 20 tons from the U.S. military in 2013; so, too, did the campus police force of Ohio State University. The town of Keene, N.H., (population 23,000), successfully applied for federal anti-terrorism funds to purchase an armoured personnel carrier.

The increasing availability of such equipment has coincided with a growing reliance on military-style tactics. In a report released earlier this year, the American Civil Liberties Union found that police forces increasingly deployed paramilitary units - or SWAT teams - to carry out routine tasks such as "serving warrants or searching for a small amount of drugs." When heavilyarmed teams arrive with assault weapons, flash bang grenades and battering rams, the author of the report said, it sends "the clear message that the families being raided are the enemy."

Ferguson was part of the surplus equipment program, and received two tactical vehicles - both Humvees - along with other equipment, according to a spokesman for thee Defense Logistics Agency, the government's combat logistics support agency. A few congressional Democrats have vowed to introduce legislation to rein in the program.


Police forces still don't look like the communities they serve

For decades, police forces in the U.S. have sought to diversify their ranks as a way to bolster their legitimacy among the varied communities in which they work. It turns out that process is moving very slowly indeed. The town of Ferguson, for instance, has 53 police officers; 50 of them, or 94 per cent, are white. The population, by contrast, is 67 per cent black.

(The demographic change in the town was sudden: In 1990, whites made up nearly three-quarters of the population; by 2010, they were less than one-third.)

Major U.S. cities fare better and have made significant strides, but there's still a long way to go. According to an analysis of census data by The Washington Post, the 22 largest American cities all have a greater percentage of whites on their police forces than in their respective populations.

The big city with the best numbers: Los Angeles, where the 32 per cent white police force almost matches its 29 per cent white population.

Skeptics point out that women and minorities have found it harder to advance to the upper ranks of police forces, which means they have less sway over broader policies and procedures.

Several large police departments are attempting to change that situation. Earlier this year, for instance, the Boston Police Department appointed an AfricanAmerican as its second-in-command for the first time.


Shooting adds to list of incidents of violence toward unarmed African-Americans

Trayvon Martin. Jordan Davis. Renisha McBride. Jonathan Ferrell. Eric Garner. Michael Brown. These killings, all of which took place over the past two years, represent a shameful litany: instances where police or others inflicted violence on unarmed African-Americans with fatal consequences.

These deaths have sparked protests and vigils, but also a sense of despair. In each case, a relatively ordinary behaviour - walking on a street, seeking help after a car accident, returning from a convenience store - took a lethal turn. Mr. Garner, a 43-year old Staten Island man, died in July.

New York police put him in a chokehold after he protested their accusations that he was illegally selling cigarettes. Handcuffed and forced to the ground, Mr. Garner kept repeating, "I can't breathe. I can't breathe. I can't breathe." The officers did not release him and provided no medical aid as he lay unresponsive.

The reaction in Ferguson is not only about Mr. Brown. "It is about the bitter sense of siege that lives in African-American men, a sense that it is perpetually open season on us," wrote Leonard Pitts, a columnist for the Miami Herald, earlier this week. "And that too few people outside of African America really notice, much less care."


First black president prefers to walk softly in racially charged situations

When he was first running for president, Barack Obama gave a landmark speech on race in the United States. But as the country's first black president, he has hesitated to address the issue in any major way, to the frustration of some in the African-American community. His preferred method for addressing raciallycharged situations is with an abundance of caution, an appeal to shared American values and a call to respect the common humanity of all those involved.

But the killings of two unarmed black teenagers - Trayvon Martin in Florida in 2012 and Michael Brown in Missouri - have challenged Mr. Obama's careful approach. The President spoke in unusually personal terms about Mr. Martin, saying the teenager could have been his own son. He has made two public statements about Mr. Brown's killing and the subsequent unrest in Ferguson.

He also instructed federal prosecutors to pursue their own probe of the shooting and promised to follow up on that process.

On Thursday, Mr. Obama took care to be even-handed in his description of events. He paid tribute to the loss of a young man in "heartbreaking and tragic circumstances" while acknowledging that there are "passionate differences" about what happened in Ferguson.

"There is never an excuse for violence against police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting," he added. "There's also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests."


Social media has proved to be an effective tool for mobilizing protest

Ferguson was defined for people outside St. Louis County largely by images being shared on social media - on the one hand of white police aiming weapons at black protesters, on the other of black protesters looting or throwing Molotov cocktails. Images, for their immediacy and as references to the past, remain incredibly powerful even in an age of hyper-skepticism and mistrust of the media. Interest in Ferguson first intensified on social media via a Twitter campaign that objected to the media's use of an informal photo of Mr. Brown with his fingers extended, in what was called either a gang sign or a peace sign. Thousands of young black people posted photos of themselves in formal settings, such as a graduation, and then joking around with friends, asking whether they'd be portrayed as a thug if they were killed by police.

The campaign aimed to expose racial stereotyping and its slogan, #IfTheyGunnedMeDown, was used more than 168,000 times on Twitter, The New York Times reported.

The size of the response suggests that the informal network that refers to itself as "black twitter" has considerable clout in the online world and can effectively push back against media messages that it sees as discriminatory.

Social media interest peaked Wednesday evening, four days after Mr. Brown's death, just as some journalists and at least one local elected official were arrested. The images and accounts of these arrests were shared widely and tens of thousands tuned in to watch live streams from the protest site, many of which focused on the array of weaponry trained on the protesters. Sociologist Zeynep Tufekci wrote that the way broad interest in Ferguson grew on Twitter shows why net neutrality is important, because Twitter feeds are not subject to algorithms that decide which items should be brought to a user's attention.

SOCIAL THEORY Race is a persistent and inescapable undercurrent in U.S. history

Despite the high hopes that accompanied the election of a black president, the United States is still haunted by an ugly racial history and fixated on its meaning, and consequences. More than class or gender, race is the first and most important expression of its divisions, and it instantly became the lens through which the shooting of Mr. Brown would be understood.

"We have this unwritten social theory that says we've come such a long way. ... People think we're a postracial society," says Garrett Albert Duncan, a professor of education and African-American studies at Washington University in St. Louis. He describes the U.S. social landscape as, instead, something much less settled, with race lying always just below the surface of any debate or public conversation. "It's more like a tug of war that goes back and forth. When there's economic crisis, there's racial crisis."

Prof. Duncan is originally from California. He was shocked by the rigid racial divides he found when he moved to the St. Louis area, which he describes "hypersegregated." "North," where Ferguson is located, is a code for black; "South" is synonymous with white. He says that even he, a middle-aged professor, would not be surprised to be pulled over by police without reason if he were to venture into South St.

Louis. That sense of invisible lines and competing realities is prevalent across the country. A 2013 Pew Research Center study that found 70 per cent of blacks said black people are treated less fairly by police; only 37 per cent of whites surveyed agreed.

PROFILING Minorities feel like they're being singled out, and statistics back them up

The question of whether Mr. Brown posed a threat to the police officer who shot him may never be answered to the satisfaction of everyone, or anyone.

But what is sure is that there will be an abiding suspicion that here, as in so many recent cases, racial profiling played a part in the unarmed teenager's killing.

Profiling is a reality in the United States, one that has prompted lawsuits on behalf of AfricanAmericans and also Latinos, Muslims and other groups, and forced changes in police training.

President Obama has highlighted it; in one speech he described a personal experience that he said would be familiar to many black men - that is, being followed by security in a department store.

(Only last week, there was an echo: The upscale store Barneys paid $525,000 to settle claims that it singled out minorities for surveillance.)

"All too often, young black men in our society are viewed as potential criminals," Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Centre, wrote this week. "They are targeted for arrest and incarceration more than anyone else. In schools, they are disproportionately subjected to harsh discipline. They fill our overcrowded prisons, often for crimes associated with the failed war on drugs. They are arrested for drug offences at three to five times the rate of whites, even though drug use among whites is comparable."

Ferguson's police statistics tell that story: In 2013, 86 per cent of stops and 92 per cent of searches involved black people. While a minority in Missouri, blacks were also 66 per cent more likely to be stopped by police than others, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, and the disparity has grown steadily for the past 14 years.

Associated Graphic

Police move in to detain a protester in Ferguson on Monday. The photographs of unrest in the town after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a police officer have drawn comparisons to pictures of the Deep South in the 1960s.


A demonstrator hugs Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol in Ferguson on Thursday. In response to criticism that local police inflamed tensions with protesters, the highway patrol was placed in charge of security.


Framing the decisive moment
Visionary with the National Film Board devoted his life to immortalizing moments in the lives of others
Special to The Globe and Mail
Monday, August 25, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S10

You can see the evolution of the multitalented and innovative filmmaker Wolf Koenig by looking at some of his movies, such as Lonely Boy, Stravinsky, Neighbours, City of Gold, Corral, The Days Before Christmas, Ted Baryluk's Grocery and Universe, on the National Film Board website. Although his roles varied - he began as a splicer and moved on to animation, cinematography, directing and producing - his keen eye, narrative power and generous collaboration are always evident in these films, created during a nearly 50-year career.

"He was a very good still photographer, a brilliant animator, a superb cameraman and the most creative film person in Canadian history," said his friend, producer Graeme Ferguson. "He invented cinéma vérité in Canada."

Mr. Koenig's first step toward a life in film came in 1937, when his family fled Nazi Germany for Canada. That year, Walt Disney released his epoch-defining animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which became an early inspiration for the 10-yearold boy.

His parents settled on a farm near Galt (now Cambridge), Ont. Although he was a couple of years older, he became friends at high school with other creative and entrepreneurial types, including Mr. Ferguson, Robert Kerr and William Shaw, who would later found Imax, a company that used technological wizardry to create huge-format films and projection systems. Mr. Koenig was "extremely bright" and "one of the most creative people of our generation," according to Mr. Ferguson. Although he created Imax's first logo, Mr. Koenig never moved into the burgeoning private sector in the film industry because to him the film board was "a calling and a mission."

Mr. Koenig and his younger brother, Joe, attended the vocational stream at Galt Collegiate because their father, influenced by his experience in Germany, thought he could keep his sons safe by literally keeping them down on the farm. By chance, Mr. Koenig, who "had the instincts of an artist, not a mechanic," according to Mr. Ferguson, met a film crew on a neighbour's farm in the late 1940s and parlayed a casual conversation into a lowly job as a film splicer at a pivotal moment at the NFB.

That eventually gave him the chance to work in Unit B under the legendary Tom Daly, and as an animator with the equally luminescent Norman McLaren.

In the next few years, he began collaborating with Roman Kroitor, an aspiring philosopher who had been lured from academia by the lustre of a summer job in film, and who would later become the fourth of Imax's founders. Together they worked in the board's Candid Eye series produced for CBC-TV between 1958 and 1961 and made several award-winning films.

The final building block in Mr. Koenig's development came from a book. In the early 1950s, Mr. Koenig was given a copy of the great French photojournalist Henri Cartier-Bresson's The Decisive Moment, a collection of his photos and an essay explaining his philosophy that "photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression." Mr. Koenig was dumbfounded. This was exactly what he and his colleagues were trying to do in film. He talked about the book over sandwiches at work and he kept his copy for the rest of his life. When he met Mr. Cartier-Bresson during a shoot in Montreal in 1998, the legendary photojournalist autographed the book "À Wolf Koenig ... En souvenir de bien des moments au Canada qu'il a rendu decisifs sur film."

After Mr. Koenig died, at 86, on June 26, his family found a fourpage typed essay inside that book in which he described the tumultuous effect of encountering Mr. Cartier-Bresson's words and pictures as a 28-year-old aspiring filmmaker desperate to embrace the possibility of moving outside the studio to film real people in their own milieux. He recalled how he and Mr. Kroitor had spent their holidays at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto, roaming the grounds "with haunted looks searching for 'reality' ready to siphon it into our Bolex whenever it should appear." The problem was: "How, in God's name, could we be sure of being present when the moment of truth arrives?" That was the problem and luckily, Mr. Cartier-Bresson pointed to a solution. He "gave us direction as well as courage," Mr. Koenig wrote. "We rushed out into the real world and made a lot of Candid Eyes. Many of them were bad - a few were acceptable, a couple good. Whatever success we had, we owe in large measure to The Decisive Moment. For us it had arrived at a very decisive time."

That homage stands as Mr. Koenig's own modest statement of artistic purpose.

Wolf Koenig was born in Dresden, Germany on Oct. 17, 1927, the eldest of three children of Nathan and Ethel (née Handel) Koenig. His parents owned a prosperous linen store, called Wasche Koenig (Linen King). As Adolf Hitler and the Nazis rose to power, Jews suffered increasing oppression and the Koenigs decided to emigrate while they still could. Mr. Koenig sold his store, which was subsequently billed as "Now pure Aryan," and sailed to Canada, where an older brother, who had left Germany before the First World War, had agreed to sponsor them. "The hills were beautiful, all right, but hell to plow and harvest," Mr. Koenig said, describing the family farm in an interview in Take One magazine. "So we got a tractor, one of the first in the area, a Ford-Ferguson - small but strong." That tractor changed Mr. Koenig's life and Canadian cinematic history.

After school and in the summers, the Koenig boys milked the cows, fed the chickens and plowed the fields. "When we hoed the turnips," Joe Koenig remembered, "Wolf talked about great movies we had seen in town and how he wanted to make film, too, some day." Invariably, these discussions were interrupted by barked orders from their father to "start hoeing from opposite ends of the long row and stop the chatter."

During spring planting in May, 1948, the phone rang in the Koenig house. It was a neighbour, the local representative for the federal department of agriculture, asking if "the boy" could drive over with the tractor to try out a new tree-planting machine.

His father said "Go," and so he did. As "the boy" was pulling the tree planter across a field he noticed a film crew from the NFB.

Afterward, he approached the director, Raymond Garceau, and said how he longed to work in film. With Mr. Garceau's encouragement, he sent in an application and was offered a job as a junior splicer at NFB headquarters in Ottawa at $100 a month.

"Go!" his father said. "It's the government."

That's how Mr. Koenig left the farm with "hay seed in my hair, hauling a cardboard suitcase bulging with clothing and my mother's cookies and sandwiches." He was 20, bristling with curiosity and sponge-like in his eagerness to learn not only splicing but editing and animation.

He even made his own animated film about birds by punching triangles and circles into discarded celluloid and splicing them together. That caught the attention of Mr. McLaren, the genius of pixillation (a stop-motion animation technique) and the man who had pioneered drawing on film. He wangled Mr. Koenig away from his normal duties to be the cameraman on Neighbours, the 1952 film that won an Academy Award for best documentary. Mr. Koenig also began working with Mr. Daly. "He was a master teacher as well as an artist," Mr. Koenig told Take One.

"Without his guidance and infinite patience, many of us would never have worked on a film." He also challenged them intellectually, pressuring them to read the classics of philosophy and literature, in effect "giving us a university education" on the job.

Back in those days, cameras were noisy and heavy, sound was recorded on a separate and equally cumbersome machine, and everything was spliced together back in the studio.

Along the way, Mr. Koenig learned another lesson in his apprenticeship as a documentary filmmaker: Editing is what makes a film live and shine. You have "to know the rules as almost second nature," but then you have to "let go and allow the material to lead you." He became adept at "shooting with a mind to the editing process," which meant collecting lots of cutaways, wide shots and close ups and using them as scene setters and bridges, the way a writer uses words to create continuity in print. And he also learned that sometimes you have "to lie to tell the truth," by cutting scenes and combining shots in the order in which they advance the story rather than chronologically. Otherwise, "the audience would die of boredom or the truth would be smothered under a mountain of chaff."

Shy, modest and unassuming, Mr. Koenig spent his last years at the film board - he retired in 1995 - mentoring a younger generation of filmmakers. "He was interested in putting his ideas forward through other people," Mr. Ferguson said. One of them was Peter Raymont, now head of White Pine Pictures, an independent film company that includes such credits as Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire and West Wind: The Vision of Tom Thomson.

"Wolf was one of the gods," Mr. Raymont said in a eulogy at Mr. Koenig's funeral, recalling a three-month contract he had at the NFB in the early 1970s, and describing his excitement at being asked to work as an editor on two documentaries about Moshe Safdie, under Mr. Koenig as executive producer.

"Wolf was so open and encouraging," he said. "I was invited on shoots. Wolf shot some second camera. I shot some third camera too!" Then Mr. Koenig, who had "a great love of the Inuit people and had started an animation film workshop in Cape Dorset" sent Mr. Raymont to the Arctic to make a film. "It was an extraordinary responsibility and an exhilarating experience." That was the way it was in those days, Mr. Raymont concluded. The executives would throw aspiring filmmakers "into the deep end to see if we could swim." That's not so unusual. What was different about Mr. Koenig, was how he tested you - with "kindness and caring and love."

Mr. Koenig, who never married and had no children, leaves his younger siblings Joe and Rachel, their families and a wide circle of friends.

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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.

Associated Graphic

Wolf Koenig, filming Jour de juin (A Day in June) during the Saint-Jean-Baptiste festivities in Montreal in 1959, was 'one of the most creative people of our generation'


As a young man, Wolf Koenig, left, beside colleague Colin Low, spent his holidays at the Canadian National Exhbition, Bolex camera in hand.

The million-dollar dream
The cost of a single-family home crossed the seven-figure line this year. Prices fluctuate, but it was a real-estate benchmark for Toronto. Denise Balkissoon talks to homeowners about why they bought in and what they got for $1-million
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page M1

One million dollars. It's still the stuff that dreams are made of, it's just that our dreams have become a little less extravagant.

In April, Toronto's wild housing market hit a historical benchmark, when the average price of a detached home hit $965,760.

Most real estate observers rounded up to $1-million, and clarified that they were discussing the cost of a house, not a mansion: just a nice place to live, where two kids can each have their own bedroom, and people are not constantly yanked into the drama between neighbours on the other side of a wall.

Prices fluctuate, of course - in July, a detached house was a mere $880,433 and yes, there are still good houses in good neighbourhoods for less money. But interminable gridlock and perpetually minuscule interest rates are a deadly combination for anyone hoping to find a house with a bearable commute to downtown.

Perhaps the biggest factor is that Toronto is a bustling city full of energy, ideas, and fun. Despite bidding wars and mortgage insurance, condo delays and endless real estate bubble talk, it's why buyers are willing to spend seven figures to live here. Here's a look at three who did, and what they got for $1-million.


Tim Hughes and Rozita Razavi lost three bidding wars, and were bullied out of a fourth before it started. "There were Seaton, Grafton and Manning," says Mr. Hughes, counting off the streets that could have been. "And then Beverley, that was the bully offer."

The couple began their search in March, when the condo that they were sharing with Ms. Razavi's sister finally seemed just too small. Ms. Razavi's parents visit often, for one, and Mr. Hughes, 46, is a bicycle aficionado with a lot of wheels and frames to fix. "The elevator in a condo drives me nuts," he says.

Their requirements were simple enough: three bedrooms within bicycling distance of the University of Toronto, where he's a professor and she's a research associate, since they don't have a car. Although they were approved for a mortgage of up to a million dollars right away, the couple originally planned to spend about $750,000. "That wasn't realistic," says Ms. Razavi, 42, of their early search. "Even if that was the asking price, the final selling price was always over a million." Mr. Hughes was pushing for a detached house, but they looked at semis and even rowhouses, including one on Beverley Street, just south of the university, that was sold before they had a chance to get their paperwork together.

By June, the couple was ready to take a break for the summer when their agent suggested they look at one more house in Parkdale. The commute seemed a bit long, though they both liked the neighbourhood's cool yet down-to-earth vibe. What convinced them, though, was the place itself, a 120-yearold detached house with a wraparound porch, many of its original features, and almost 4,000 square feet of space. "It's an amazing house," Ms. Razavi says. "Better than we expected." It does need some modernizing and renovations - Mr. Hughes is looking forward into making the unfinished, 1,000-square-foot loft (which has awesome vaunted ceilings) into a livable space.

Of course, there was a bidding war: theirs was one of seven offers. In fact, Ms. Razavi and Mr. Hughes were told by another buying agent that they'd lost out, and were headed home when the call came through that they'd actually won.

"It does sound like a lot to me," says Ms. Razavi of the milliondollar price tag. Because their down payment is less than 20 per cent, they had to qualify for CMHC insurance to get a mortgage, and the house was assessed three times before the deal was done. CMHC's willingness to insure high-ratio mortgages is capped at a million, so Mr. Hughes calls it "the magical number," the price point that defines the hottest competitions. "I think that Toronto is at the edge of not having houses for everyone who wants a house," Mr. Hughes says. "You can almost think of it as a luxury good."

Yonge and Eglington

"It's too expensive to move in Toronto," explains Adam Weitner about why he and his wife, Ginny, bought a house to raise kids in even though they don't have children yet. With the city's land transfer tax demanding thousands of every buyer, and housing prices consistently resisting deflation, the Weitners decided to skip the starter home. Their hunt was for a house they could live in for a really long time, maybe forever.

Not that this is their first venture into ownership. With a little financial help from his family, Mr. Weitner bought his first condo as a university student in Ottawa. When he moved to Toronto in 2005, he sold that condo and bought one here, which is where the couple were living when they got married. "If it was my first property there would be no way I'd be able to do it," says the marketing manager, now 30, of the cost of his new house.

The Weitners' search began in October, 2013 and took them to Leslieville, Little Italy, the Danforth and midtown - they wanted a place no more than a 20-minute commute away from downtown, where they both work, and that wasn't negotiable. "I cannot stand being in traffic, it's bad for my health," says Mr. Weitner, who grew up in Brampton. "I'd never move to the suburbs, I'd rather live in a condo my whole life."

All in all, it was relatively painless. There were no bidding wars, because the duo was so particular they didn't make any other bids. Though they toured some semi-detached homes around $700,000, the couple felt they were too small to stay in for a very long time. They rejected houses listed at $900,000 that were in such bad shape that Ms. Weitner calls them "haunted," and said a bittersweet goodbye to an almost-perfect place in High Park that shook when the subway rumbled underneath.

This past January, they found a newly built detached house two blocks north of Eglinton, just west of Yonge, in a midtown neighbourhood with good schools that they thought would be out of their price range.

Because it was originally a developer's own home, the work was much more solid and well-done than many of the shoddy flip jobs the duo had seen. There are four bathrooms, one with heated floors, and a heated driveway that was a lifesaver during last winter's ice storms. "We could tell it was really good quality," says Ms. Weitner, 27, who works in sales.

Although the lot is slightly shallower than they'd like, the neighbourhood is full of parks. Mr. Weitner credits the just-over one-million asking price for the lack of competition. On a Sunday night at 10:30 p.m., they made an offer of $20,000 under asking with no conditions and it was accepted right away. "Toronto is expensive," Mr. Weitner says. "If you're going to break the bank, you may as well go all the way."


Twenty-three years ago, Dawna Henderson bought a 1,500square-foot, semi-detached house on Bertmount Avenue in Leslieville for $186,000. This past October, she sold it for $870,000. Wanting to make the most of her return, she bought two more properties: another Leslieville house to live in, and a new penthouse condominium as an investment. Both of them cost about a million dollars.

"I like this part of town, it's not as congested as the west," says Ms. Henderson of her decision to stay close to her old home. The 52-year-old advertising executive wasn't planning to buy an investment condo from the outset - she grew up in the country, and isn't quite sure how people live without a backyard. But she was intrigued with the plans for the West Don Lands neighbourhood, south of King Street E. off of River Street, near the site of next summer's Pan-American Games.

"Perhaps the developers have learned what not to do downtown," says Ms. Henderson of the park-and-amenity laden plan. Corktown residents are anticipating a brand-new YMCA, and arevalready enjoying the splash pad at Corktown Commons Park. All three levels of government kicked in money to build affordable rental housing nearby, which Ms. Henderson hopes will help maintain the east end's traditional class diversity.

She began to consider the 12storey building, that is the third of a five-building, 1,000-unit River City development. Although the penthouse was much more expensive than a smaller unit, her agent advised that because bigger condos are scarce in the city, it's easier to rent and sell them. "There's a glut of one bedrooms plus dens," Ms. Henderson says. "Like in Liberty Village, you have to wonder what some of those buildings will look like in five years."

To visualize how big the unit would be, Ms. Henderson drove out to a field in Caledon, and used spray paint to outline the space. "I thought, 'Oh, I understand now,' " she said. It became real that the condo took up more space than her old house, especially since it came with a 700square-foot, LEED-certified green roof and patio. After asking an architect friend's opinion and getting an enthusiastic response (and some suggested redesigns for the space), Ms. Henderson decided to go for it.

Her plan is to rent the unit out for about $4,000 a month when the building is ready for inhabitants next year. She and her husband are considering the space as their retirement home, and in the meantime, she definitely isn't worried about her investment.

"It's a question of supply and demand - people are sick of driving out to the suburbs," Ms. Henderson says. "It doesn't matter where you live in downtown Toronto, it's all going to be worth something."

Rozita Razavi and Tim Hughes


Lot size: 30 by 110 feet

Bedrooms: 3

Bathrooms: 3

Asking price: $889,000

Sold price: $999,999

Agent: Chris Chopnik, Sage Real Estate Ltd.

Dawna Henderson


Bedrooms: 2

Bathrooms: 2

Square footage: 1,900 plus balcony .

Sold price: $1,000,049 .

Agent: Robin Pope, Pope Real Estate Ltd.

Adam Weitner and Ginny Weitner

Yonge and Eglinton

Lot size: 25 by 65 feet

Bedrooms: 3

Bathrooms: 4

Asking price: $1,220,000 ..

Sold price: $1.2 million

Agent: Christine Cowern, Keller Williams Referred Urban Realty

Associated Graphic

Tim Hughes and Rozita Razavi lost several bidding wars before they purchased their Parkdale home.


Dawna Henderson never thought she would buy a condo, but she really liked the River City development.


Adam and Ginny Weitner wanted a place that was only a 20-minute commute from downtown.

He brought Cape Breton style to world stage
King of the Jigs shared Gaelic music with a wider audience and led its renaissance in Canada and abroad
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S8

Hugh Allan "Buddy" MacMaster rightly earned his title as the dean of Cape Breton fiddlers.

From his early boyhood days spent imitating the fiddle style by rubbing two sticks together, to the countless square dances he led with his music inside packed parish halls, to his recent public recognition as one of the world's greatest traditional musicians, Mr. MacMaster is fairly credited with not only bringing Cape Breton fiddling to the world stage, but preserving the region's musical traditions.

Known as King of the Jigs, Mr. MacMaster was 11 years old when he played his first tune, The Rock Valley Jig, after finding his father's fiddle in a trunk in the family's home in Inverness County on the western side of Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Island.

Some years later, Mr. MacMaster played his first dance at about age 15. Over the next four decades, his fiddle playing was a regular feature at house parties, weddings, dances and benefits throughout the region and on CBC-TV shows such as Ceilidh and The John Allan Cameron Show. But music remained mostly a hobby until Mr. MacMaster retired from the Canadian National Railway in 1988, after 45 years with the company as a telegrapher and station agent. In 1989, he released his first of several recordings, Judique on the Floor, and went on to play fulltime as a professional musician, gaining an international reputation.

Endlessly generous with his time and music, Mr. MacMaster taught, scoured old music books to rediscover and revive forgotten tunes, and remained forever faithful to the fiddle music he first heard in his parents' home.

He was known for mentoring younger players, the most notable being his niece, Natalie MacMaster, an internationally renowned fiddler, and her cousin Ashley MacIsaac, who brought Cape Breton fiddling to new audiences when they emerged on the scene in the late 1980s.

"He really did believe in giving to other people and not letting them down," Ms. MacMaster said. "He really did believe in the duty that he had in sharing his God-given talent."

As Mr. MacMaster liked to say: "The music really belongs to the people."

An unassuming, kind and humble man, he shied away from awards and public recognition. Despite his modesty, they kept coming his way. Earlier this year, Folk Alliance International gave Mr. MacMaster a Lifetime Achievement Award, placing him in the company of past recipients Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and Stan Rogers. "I was surprised, especially at my age, to get this award when I thought I was all through," he told the Halifax Chronicle Herald.

Mr. MacMaster suffered a heart attack and died on Aug. 20 at his home in the tiny community of Judique, two months shy of his 90th birthday, leaving behind his wife, Marie, two children, Allan and Mary, and a large extended family. He had to stop playing the fiddle in recent years when arthritis made his fingers less nimble and his health deteriorated.

Natalie MacMaster remembers as a child hearing her uncle play in her parents' kitchen. He'd often stop by the house on his way home to play a new tune he had just learned. Later, when she started playing fiddle she listened to his recordings over and over again, pressing stop and rewind on her cassette player, while she tried to emulate his sound.

"I've copied Buddy's style more than anyone else," she said. "He had this amazing rhythm. In the drummer world they call it a wide groove or a big pocket. He never rushed an ounce. But his tempo was very lively."

Some of his gifts included his ability to pick pieces from the Scottish music canon, or turn a lesser-known tune into something special, Ms. MacMaster said. He'd infuse the tunes with personality, characteristic bow work and quick grace notes. She and others frequently refer to his nuanced, buoyant style as "the Buddy MacMaster lift."

Mr. MacMaster's musical style comes from a tradition that began in the Scottish Highlands and crossed the ocean where it has been preserved in the rural communities of Cape Breton Island, remaining, some would argue, even more true to its roots than modern Scottish fiddling, Dawn Beaton, artistic director of the Celtic Colours International Festival, remembers the joy his music brought to her as a young step dancer. She and her sister played Judique on the Floor so many times while dancing that they wore it out. They eventually had to replace the cassette tape.

"He did the most iconic version of [the tune] King George the Fourth," she said. At an annual step-dancing festival held in the community of Port Hood, he was the fiddler all the dancers wanted. "Every little girl got up and asked for Buddy to play King George the Fourth."

Born in 1924 into a Gaelicspeaking, musical family in the northeastern Ontario town of Timmins, Mr. MacMaster was the second eldest of eight children.

His parents, Sarah Agnes and John Duncan MacMaster, had moved from Cape Breton to the mining town so John could work in the mines. In 1929, the family returned to Cape Breton's Inverness County, where John resumed work at the mines.

Mr. MacMaster's father played the fiddle, but he didn't hear him play often, instead he learned his first tunes mainly from Judique fiddler Alexander MacDonnell, and revered players such as Bill Lamey and Winston (Scotty) Fitzgerald when they visited the MacMaster home.

He says, however, that his love of music came largely from his mother, who sang to him from birth. She would lilt, often referred to as mouth music or "jigging," with a Gaelic inflection peculiar to the area, and always encouraged people to play music in the house. Several of Mr. MacMaster's sisters became accomplished piano players and would accompany him when he played publicly.

"I'd be lying in bed jigging tunes," he once said in an interview of his childhood. "Then I got two sticks of wood and would be rubbing them together pretending I was playing the fiddle. My grandfather, Alain Iain, was up at the house and he saw me at this, so he whittled the pieces of wood down to resemble a violin and a bow. Somewhere along the way I got away from that. I guess I was getting older, saw it was foolish to be rubbing two sticks together."

His first paid gig came when he was about 15 years old. "I was asked to play for a dance at the Troy School," he recalled in the book Buddy MacMaster: The Judique Fiddler. "It was just a little dance, you know. Anyway, they gave me $4. I had to pay my way on the old bus to the dance and then on the train to get home the next day." On the train ride home he met a man he knew who was impressed by his earnings from the dance.

"You did well," he told Mr. MacMaster.

"In Cape Breton, step-dancing and square-dancing, I think, has a lot to do with the way we play," Mr. MacMaster told Fiddler Magazine in 2000. "You have to give it a lift or a lively feel to make the dancer feel like dancing or perform better, you know.

Then when you see a dancer responding to your music, that sort of puts you in a better mood to play."

At a typical dance, Mr. MacMaster would play from his repertoire of hundreds of tunes with precision timing and impeccable correctness, all from memory. He put so much energy into each performance that sweat would cover his shortsleeved, collared shirt. A young woman, named Marie Beaton, who frequented the dances where he played, caught his eye.

The couple married in 1968. By that time, Mr. MacMaster had been a regular player on Cape Breton's dance circuit for close to 20 years.

In the 1940s, his fellow CNR workers loved to hear Mr. MacMaster play reels and strathspeys over the wire connecting stations on the line. When the station agents were saying their good nights at the end of the late shift, Mr. MacMaster would play a tune and agents up and down the line would listen in on their headsets. Finding time between trains, he would often practise his fiddle at work. The train stations, with their traditional plaster and lath combined with Douglas fir panelling, made for good acoustics and were wonderful places to play.

"At least three generations [of fiddlers] have looked up to him as the gold standard," said Joella Foulds, executive director of the Celtic Colours International Festival, where Mr. MacMaster performed about 40 times over the years.

Wanting to ensure that the traditions of his music were passed on, he taught not only close to home, but in the United States and was one of the first Cape Breton fiddlers to be asked to teach in Scotland. Down the road from his house, at the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre, people came from around the world to learn to play like him.

"One of the things on their bucket list, they would say, was to meet Buddy," said Frank MacInnis, vice-president of the centre's board. "Among the fiddlers, he was looked up to by everyone."

Generous with his time, Mr. MacMaster received countless calls to play at community events and fundraisers. He often played these events for free, sometimes attending up to three events a day in the summers.

Soon-to-be-married couples also sought him out. "I'd get calls to make a booking for a wedding," he recalled in Buddy MacMaster: The Judique Fiddler. "I always got a kick out of that. Because sometimes they would give a date and I'd say, well, I'm booked that day. There would be a little pause and I could hear some talking in the back[ground] and they would come back and ask if another date was open."

Outside of music, he was an active community member, serving as a municipal councillor, chair of the local school board and community college board member.

For his work as an ambassador of Canadian music, a mentor and a leader of the Gaelic renaissance in Canada and abroad, Mr. MacMaster was admitted to the Order of Canada. He also received honorary degrees from Cape Breton and St. Francis Xavier universities.

Mr. MacMaster's funeral will be held at 11 a.m. on Aug. 25 at St. Andrew's Catholic Church, an old, stone structure, near his home in Judique, N.S. Inside the sacred place, which traces its roots to the Highland Scots, his fidelity to his ancestors and the music he loved will be honoured.

Associated Graphic

Cape Breton fiddler Buddy MacMaster, left, mentored many younger players, including his internationally renowned niece, Natalie MacMaster.


Buddy MacMaster raises his Dr. Helen Creighton Lifetime Achievement Award at the East Coast Music Awards in Charlottetown in 2006, just one of many honours he received in his career.


Erin Anderssen examines the science that has teachers across Canada pressing pause during math or English so their students can get physical - and boost their grades
Saturday, August 30, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F5

To prep for high-school life, incoming Grade 9 students paid an early visit to Midland Secondary on Thursday. They found where their lockers will be, were given their timetables and memorized their wireless passwords.

They also received a short session on the importance of exercise. But intellectual - not physical - fitness was the theme. They learned that classes at this 100-year-old school in Georgian Bay's cottage country don't just mean sitting at desk. Here, studying everything from history to calculus also includes soccer in the hallway, ultimate Frisbee in the yard, even "swimming" across the floor - some of the brief workouts known as Spark breaks.

Classes last 75 minutes, but "I really find it hard to sit for 10 minutes, to be honest," admits Walker Hunter, a Grade 10 student who was helping to demonstrate floor swimming and other activities at the orientation. During a fitness break, he says, "you get refreshed, but you're still in work mode, and you can start up again. It gives me time to get out and refocus."

Getting students to focus is a perennial preoccupation, but it seems especially pressing at the moment, with grade-obsessed parents, politicians and school trustees wringing their hands over Canada's recent slide in international math standings.

With that worry back in the news this week when Ontario's elementary math scores took a dip, neuroscience offers this subversive solution: Cut math class to dance - or walk, skip, play catch ... the theory being that whatever gets the heart pumping will get the brain humming as well.

"If you want to raise test scores, we have documented evidence - big-time evidence - that that the key is to include fitness-based activity in the day," insists John Ratey, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School and a lead researcher in the area. "There's no question about it."

It's well understood that exercise promotes over-all health. But in the past few years, neuroscientists have made significant strides in quantifying its brainboosting powers at all stages of life.

One recent study suggested that exercise is an important safeguard against Alzheimer's disease.

For young minds, the benefits to academic performance and attention are also convincing: Not only do children with higher levels of fitness have a more developed brain structure and perform better on cognitive tests, embedding exercise - even short spells of moderate activity - into classroom time improves focus, retention and test scores.

Last week, researchers at the University of Illinois reported that children who are more fit have better white matter tracts (which affect learning) in their brains, building on earlier work in which they also found higher levels of development in areas of the brain that support critical thinking and memory.

For another study to be published soon, the university's neurocognitive kinesiology lab conducted a clinical trial with children 7 to 9 years old. Half participated in a two-hour playbased fitness session after classes. Within 160 days, says Charles Hillman, the lab's leader, those youngsters were found to have a "significant" increase in brain function compared with the control group, and performed better on attention and cognitive tests.

Science suggests that, even in the short term, exercise can be a grade-changer. Earlier research by Dr. Hillman's team has shown that 20 minutes of easy walking (the children didn't even break a sweat) boost performance in areas of the brain that support math and reading achievement for up to an hour.

The benefits were seen in kids of all fitness levels. But research has found even greater gains from exercise among children who have attention-deficit disorders - or whose families are less well off and able to provide fewer extracurricular activities.

Theory also applies to college

In June, researchers at Dartmouth College reported that even less aerobic exercise - 12 minutes - increased attention scores for college students. But the improvement was so significant for low-income students that it essentially eliminated the pre-test performance gap with higher-income peers.

The findings, suggests Michelle Tine, co-author of the report, support the notion of having multiple activity sessions interspersed with class time. "It is particularly exciting," she says, "because quick bouts of exercise are pretty feasible to implement, from both cost and time perspectives."

Adding more exercise into the school day should be obvious, says Mark Tremblay, an obesity researcher at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa.

"Sitting idle for long periods of time is a biologically bad idea," says Prof. Tremblay, who also teaches pediatrics at the University of Ottawa. "You are designed to move, and you should pay attention to that, not repress it."

If the science is this strong - and the solution so simple - why has this practice not been adopted more universally in the country's schools? Partly, it's because a society obsessed with test scores will resist interrupting class time for dancing or running games with such names as "huckle buckle." Indeed, when Canada's international math scores took a dive last December, for the third testing period in a row, the remedies that were suggested ranged from better training for teachers to having students go back to memorizing multiplication tables. Parents didn't call for more hopscotch in the hallway (also popular at Midland Secondary), especially not in high school.

Canada's students now spend more time sitting at a desk than those in many other industrialized countries. The curriculum in Ontario, for example, requires daily exercise for younger students, although educators quietly admit that the policy is applied inconsistently. In fact, fewer than half of all elementary schools in the country now have a dedicated phys-ed teacher trained for the job.

Most secondary students need to take just one phys-ed course, so gym is usually a class to get out of the way in Grade 9. (Manitoba is the only province that still requires a credit for each year.)

This pattern is mirrored in a steep drop in over-all activity levels as Canadian children grow up. While 84 per cent of youngsters who are 3 or 4 receive their recommended 180 minutes of physical activity a day, only 7 per cent of those 5 to 11 get the 60 minutes considered necessary for them - and the figure drops to merely 4 per cent for children 12 to 17.

Not only have a growing number of schools decided to reverse the trend, a new private-public partnership to be announced next month and backed by $4.8million in federal funding over the next five years will bring an early-morning exercise regimen to another 450 schools across the country. In the United States, as part of Sparking Life, a program developed by Dr. Ratey at Harvard, some schools offer voluntary activity time before the bell rings, while others have made room during the day for 30 minutes of mandatory exercise. The approach has been adopted by eight schools in Ontario's Niagara Region, after a 2011 pilot project reported higher scores in math and reading comprehension among struggling students who participated in daily fitness sessions.

But more schools are also adopting the approach being used in Midland and embedding exercise between Shakespeare and algebra.

Alison Cameron, a special-education teacher in Saskatoon, was one of the first in Canada to put her students on treadmills to improve their concentration. Since then she has helped to bring the concept to classrooms across North America, including almost 50 aboriginal schools in Saskatchewan.

In addition to Midland, which introduced them last year, at least four high schools in Simcoe County now use Spark breaks as teaching strategies.

"It's a little counter-intuitive," says Russell Atkinson, the pioneering principal who made Barrie Central Collegiate the first school in the area to try the approach in 2011.

"You take some time away from the curriculum and do some things that don't appear to be related. We saw amazing results. The teachers said just the improvement in mood was worth it."

The program easily included students who weren't star athletes, he says, and concerns that classes would have trouble settling down never materialized.

There's no evidence that 15 minutes or so spent tossing a ball or walking the hall hindered learning. Rather, Barrie Central's math scores rose by more than 10 per cent over the 2012-2013 school year. As well, there were more passing grades for students in English and math - and fewer behavioural problems and suspensions.

"I definitely find myself more focused," says Rachel Pigott, a Grade 11 student at Barrie Central. Last year, her math teacher would call for an exercise break after introducing a new subject area.

"It's just a really nice time to let the lesson sink it," she explains.

"When you come back in, it's a fresh look at the work."

Now, when she does her homework, Rachel takes her own timeouts to shoot baskets or take a walk. "I know the benefit of taking a break."

A double payoff

Dr. Hillman's lab in Illinois has produced more than 100 research papers on exercise and learning. He says that, if he were to design a school day, it would look a lot like the one in Barrie or Midland.

Not only are there immediate benefits, he says, the 10 minutes for every hour or so of class time add up to a sizable chunk of the daily recommended total for exercise, which has been shown to produce long-term brain improvement for students.

"Everybody comes back and says there are positive effects behaviourally, emotionally, academically, and asks, 'Why isn't everyone doing it?' " says Ms. Cameron, clearly frustrated. "But the people making the decisions aren't putting the practice into place. I don't understand it."

According to Prof. Tremblay in Ottawa, adding exercise to the school day has no downside. At best, as the science suggests, grades improve. At worst, they stay flat, but at least students are more active. He predicts that, before long, the public will be warned against sitting for more than 30 minutes at a time - even to learn your fractions.

Perhaps more important in the long run than math scores, he adds, young people will learn something fundamental about the role of physical activity - the kind that doesn't require all-star skills and a team uniform. A little floor swimming may be just what your brain needs.

Erin Anderssen is a senior feature writer with The Globe and Mail.

Associated Graphic

Education in motion: Sydney Lawrie, top left, and Georgia Grundmanis do the 'huckle buckle' for MIdland's new Grade 9 students while, above from left, Brayden Bumstead, Katherine Pakulak and Ethan Copland get all wrapped up in their activity.


Tim Jenkinson's shirt says it all as he supervises Midland's orientation activities - such as the 'cookie catch' showing newcomer Mitchell McCron how to use his head.


Whether you're an Oscar snob or a popcorn fiend (or both), let Sean Tepper be your guide to the many offerings of the new movie season
Friday, August 29, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R1

Sorry to break it to you, but summer's on its last legs. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you can begin planning how to spend your shorter days. Over the past four months, we have seen everything from destructive robots to talking raccoons dominate the box office, but soon enough the fall movie season will be upon us and you will actually see movies that don't use CGI and other special effects. In fact, in a couple of weeks you will be able to see a movie that features normal people.

From family-friendly flicks to likely Oscar winners, there should be something to help get every moviegoer through to the holiday season, and we've compiled a handy list that breaks down which upcoming movies fit your particular taste. You're welcome. (Please note: release dates are subject to change, and ratings will be available closer to release.)

Gone Girl (Oct.3)

Starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry; Directed by David Fincher; Rated R

Gone Girl sees Fincher take a break from his acclaimed Netflix series, House of Cards, and return to feature films for the first time since 2011's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Based on Gillian Flynn's bestselling novel of the same name, this dark, gritty thriller has Affleck in the role of Nick Dunne, a man who may or may not be responsible for his wife's sudden disappearance. The movie's plot is right in Fincher's wheelhouse, and the film is sure to garner critical attention for bringing the tense novel to the big screen.

Birdman (Oct. 17)

Starring Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Emma Stone; Directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu; Rated R

A washed-up actor (Keaton), famous for once portraying an iconic superhero, struggles to relaunch his career through Broadway. Birdman is director Inarritu's most buzzed about film since Babel.

Interstellar (Nov. 7)

Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Casey Affleck, Jessica Chastain; Directed by Christopher Nolan; Rated TBA

Little is known about director Nolan's latest thriller, other than it's set in the not-so-distant future and involves a team of space travellers who embark on a voyage to find a habitable planet and save the human race from starvation. Like most projects that have Nolan's name attached to them, Interstellar is almost sure to generate a healthy amount of buzz come award season.

Foxcatcher (Nov. 14)

Starring Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Steve Carell, Sienna Miller; Directed by Bennett Miller; Rated TBA

Based on the 1996 murder of Olympic wrestler Dave Schultz, Foxcatcher tells the tragic story from the perspective of Schultz's brother, Mark (Tatum), and explores his relationship with Dave (Ruffalo) and sponsor John du Pont (Carell). One of the most buzzed about movies following this year's Cannes Film Festival - where Miller took home the award for best director - critics have lauded Ruffalo, Carell and Tatum's performances, calling them career-changing.

The Equalizer (Sept. 26)

Starring Denzel Washington, Chloe Grace Moretz; Directed by Antoine Fuqua; Rated TBA

A movie about a seemingly quiet man (Washington) with a mysterious past who will stop at nothing to save a young woman (Moretz) from ruthless mobsters. Sound familiar? If the trailer is any indication, The Equalizer has Washington playing a character that combines the role he played in Tony Scott's Man on Fire with elements of Liam Neeson's role in Taken.

Annabelle (Oct. 3)

Starring Annabelle Wallis, Alfre Woodard, Eric Laden; Directed by John R. Leonetti; Rated TBA

Little is known about the plot for this horror spin-off, but it's safe to say that the tried, tested and true formula of gruesome murders and the unexplained events that are ambiguously linked to a creepy children's doll will be at play. Think Child's Play, but with a demonically possessed antique instead of a witty, knife-wielding kids' toy in overalls.

Nightcrawler (Oct. 17)

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton; Directed by Dan Gilroy; Rated TBA

Scheduled to premiere in the Special Presentations section of this year's TIFF, Nightcrawler sees Jake Gyllenhaal take on the role of a Los Angeles drifter who discovers the underground world of freelance crime journalism. From the trailer, it looks like Gilroy's directorial debut will be a darker, more action packed episode of The Newsroom, without the unnecessary Sorkinisms.

Fury (Nov. 14)

Starring Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Michael Pena; Directed by David Ayer; Rated TBA

Unlike 2009's Inglourious Basterds, which saw him lead a group of Jewish soldiers into Nazi-occupied France, Fury has Brad Pitt take on the role of Wardaddy, a hardened Second World War tank commander who leads his fiveman crew on a heroic mission behind enemy lines.

This is Where I Leave You (Sept. 19)

Starring Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Rose Byrne; Directed by Shawn Levy; Rated 14A

If summer is the season of blockbuster action movies, then the fall is shaping up to be the season of dark comedies. Based on Jonathan Tropper's novel, This is Where I Leave You is the story of family members who are forced to reunite after their father passes away. With a star-studded cast and a Canadian director, this movie is definitely one to keep an eye on.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Oct. 10)

Starring Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Bella Thorne; Directed by Miguel Arteta; Rated TBA

Ever have a day where it seems like nothing can go right? If you're hoping to learn about that type experience from a movie, then look to Disney's latest comedy, about a family that goes through one of those aforementioned days. Despite being a family-centric movie, the combination of Carell, Garner and Donald Glover should be more than enough to keep the accompanying adults entertained.

St. Vincent (Oct. 24)

Starring Naomi Watts, Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy; Directed by Theodore Melfi; Rated TBA

With Murray as a grumpy old neighbour-turned-mentor to a young boy, McCarthy as a responsible mother, Watts as an exotic dancer and Chris O'Dowd as a Catholic brother, need we say more? Since TIFF recently immortalized the veteran actor by decreeing Sept. 5 as Bill Murray Day, we'd recommend you go see this movie shortly after it's released in October. It's Murray. Don't ask, just go.

Dumb and Dumber To (Nov. 14)

Starring Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels; Directed by Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly; Rated TBA

It's been 20 years since Carrey and Daniels have graced the silver screen as the lovable and moronic Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne. The sequel to the 1994 cult comedy features the duo searching for one of their long lost children, and it's safe to bet that this movie will live up to its title. Whether or not that's a good thing is for you to decide.

No Good Deed (Sept. 12)

Starring Idris Elba, Taraji P. Henson, Leslie Bibb; Directed by Sam Miller; Rated 14A

For those who love easy-on-thebrain movies with their overpriced popcorn, the fall has plenty to offer. Here, a charming but dangerous convict on the run will stop at nothing to terrorize a young family in their suburban home. Yes, No Good Deed's premise does sound like it's taken straight from a 1980s slasher flick, but the fact that it stars Elba, a Golden Globe Award-winning actor, and Henson, an Oscar-nominated actress, gives us hope that it will be one of the better thrillers of 2014.

Kill the Messenger (Oct. 24)

Starring Jeremy Renner, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Michael Sheen, Ray Liotta; Directed by Michael Cuesta; Rated R

In Kill the Messenger, Renner takes a break from becoming the next great action star and assumes the role of an America journalist who in 1996 uncovers the CIA's role in arming Nicaragua's Contra rebels with money earned by the rebels' smuggling operation that imported cocaine into the U.S. It's based on the true story of San Jose Mercury News reporter Gary Webb.

Ouija (Oct. 24)

Starring Olivia Cooke, Ana Coto, Daren Kagasoff; Directed by Stiles White; Rated PG-13

A movie based on a game played by, and in most cases feared by, millions of people. What could possibly go wrong? In spite of its predictable plot involving young adults making contact with vengeful spirits from beyond the grave, the casting of Bates Motel's Cooke suggests that this iteration of a beloved Hasbro board game won't evoke memories of 2012's disastrous Battleship.

Horrible Bosses 2 (Nov. 26)

Starring Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Jennifer Aniston; Directed by Sean Anders; Rated PG-13

Other than the fact that most of the cast will be reprising roles from the original, we're not too sure what to expect from Horrible Bosses 2. Chris Pine and Christoph Waltz add some more star power to the big-budget comedy, so it wouldn't be surprising if it dominates the box office again.

Tusk (Sept. 19)

Starring Genesis Rodriguez, Justin Long, Haley Joel Osment; Directed by Kevin Smith; Rated R

A horror-comedy that kicks off Smith's True North Trilogy (a series of films whose plots are based on Canadian mythology), Tusk is the odd story of Wallace Bryton (Long), a popular American podcaster who travels north to interview a man with an unbelievable story to tell. Once there, Bryton is held captive by his interviewee and subjected to physical and mental torture in an attempt to turn him into a walrus.

Hector and the Search for Happiness (Sept. 26)

Starring Simon Pegg, Rosamund Pike, Toni Collette, Christopher Plummer; Directed by Peter Chelsom; Rated R

In this Canadian co-production, the always-charming Pegg plays a psychiatrist who travels the world in search of the ever-elusive secret to happiness in a story that's so blatantly ironic it's not worth pointing out.

The Good Lie (Oct. 3)

Starring Reese Witherspoon, Corey Stoll, Sarah Baker; Directed by Philippe Falardeau; Rated PG-13

Based on the true story of an American woman who takes in Sudanese refugees relocated to the U.S., The Good Lie is a hotly anticipated drama from producer Ron Howard and acclaimed Canadian director Philippe Falardeau, who is best known for Monsieur Lazhar.

Maps to the Stars (Oct. 31)

Starring Julianne Moore, Robert Pattinson, Mia Wasikowska, John Cusack; Directed by David Cronenberg; Rated R

Following the story of an insecure middle-aged starlet (Moore) who's hoping to land a role in a remake of a movie that her mother had previously starred in, Maps to the Stars is director David Cronenberg's first movie since 2012's Cosmopolis.

Follow me on Twitter:@Sean_Tepper

After a rash of deaths across the country at music festivals, health advocates are promoting a harm-reduction approach to help attendees avoid the dire effects of dehydration, tainted drugs and overdoses
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

It's Friday evening at the Shambhala Music Festival, and a young woman in denim cut-offs is using an X-acto knife to separate a small quantity of a white powdered substance into three piles on a large white dinner plate.

She watches anxiously as a volunteer in gloves dispenses a drop of fluid onto one of the piles, turning it dark purple and confirming that the substance contains MDMA, the main ingredient in ecstasy.

Outside the tent near Nelson, B.C., where more than a dozen partiers are lined up, whiteboards bear descriptions of bad drugs circulating at the event: "Green playboy bunny baggie - sold as ketamine - actually methoxetamine."

"Bag with clubs on it - sold as E - unknown."

This is harm reduction at work. Health advocates are enthusiastic about the approach after a rash of deaths across the country thrust music festivals - and the drug habits of young people who attend them - into the spotlight. The heightened scrutiny has raised questions about how much effort festivals should make to keep participants out of harm's way.

The popularity of music festivals is on the rise, with new events every year. Electronic music alone is pegged as a $6.2billion global industry, according to the Association for Electronic Music, but that is only a slice of the pie. Canadian music festivals play a wide array of genres, including rock, hip hop and country. About 30,000 people flock to Kelowna every year for the Center of Gravity festival, while the Squamish Valley Music Festival drew more than 100,000 guests this year.

But as the number of festivals and attendees increases, so does the likelihood something will go wrong. About 80 people were admitted to hospital and a woman died of a suspected drug overdose at the Boonstock festival at the beginning of August in Penticton, B.C.

Last month, a man was found dead in his tent at the Pemberton Music Festival, which had an estimated 25,000 guests.

At Toronto's VELD Music Festival, which attracted about 70,000, two people died after taking drugs and another 13 were sent to hospital. Some people took upward of 10 pills or picked up drugs off the ground, Det. Sgt.

Peter Trimble of the Toronto Police told the media. Some organizers deny the existence of drugs at their events. The harm reduction approach forces organizers and volunteers to walk a fine line between acknowledging drug use and condoning it.

Officials at Shambhala say giving people safety information - such as the importance of staying hydrated, or which drugs mix well and which do not - can keep prevent trouble.

"We're not here to crash parties," says Shaun Wilson, the festival's security manager. "We're here to help people party safe."

It is virtually impossible to keep drugs out of a days-long event with campers and their gear, he acknowledges.

"We're not able, in our searches, to go through everybody's jar of peanut butter and their prescription bottles to see what's a controlled substance and what's not," Mr. Wilson says.

At outdoor music festivals, heat, dehydration, marathon dance sessions and tainted drugs sold by unscrupulous dealers can create a "perfect storm" of risk factors, says Adam Lund, a researcher at the University of British Columbia. In some cases, people in the midst of a crisis may sequester themselves instead of asking for help for fear of being reported to the authorities.

In a worst-case scenario, that can lead to an unpleasant death.

Chloe Sage, who volunteers with the non-profit group Ankors, which operated the drug-testing tent at Shambhala, says she has been seeing a resurgence of PMMA, or paramethoxymethamphetamine, being sold as MDMA, and suspects it might be responsible for recent incidents. It is a dangerous drug that can cause users to overheat.

"It's like their thermostat breaks and they keep heating from the inside like a microwave," she says.

"People have dropped dead from it; that's why it stopped being popular."

One of the challenges of providing medical aid at large gatherings is a lack of research on the topic. "There are no provincial or national guidelines that say what the minimum standard of care should be," Dr. Lund says. "The evidence base for best practice at large gatherings is really thin."

Dr. Lund is hoping to change that. For the past five years, he has been leading a group at UBC's department of emergency medicine that is interested in medical care of people at large events. Its database contains information chronicling more than 20,000 patient encounters at everything from music festivals to sports.

The goal is to identify risk factors and determine how much of a burden certain types of events are likely to place on local hospitals.

This summer, Dr. Lund's team is collecting data from Shambhala, Squamish and Pemberton.

In the Sanctuary

It is late Saturday night at Shambhala, and the Sanctuary, the festival's chill-out space, is filled with people, most wrapped in blankets and curled up on mattresses or in hammocks. Psychedelic first aid, as it is colloquially called, provides a safe, non-judgmental place for people to go if they are having an intense drug trip and need to get away from the loud music and the bright lights. It is staffed by volunteers who have experience in the mental health field.

In addition to the Sanctuary and the drug testing booth, which festival organizers contract out to Ankors, the festival has a safe space for women, a harm reduction outreach team and a sexual health division. It even has a sober camp for people struggling with addiction that holds three AA-style meetings a day.

The festival's medical facilities are in a permanent wooden structure staffed around the clock with doctors, nurses and paramedics - even administrators to organize medical records. The first-aid team typically treats 200 to 300 patients a day, most for scrapes, blisters and mild dehydration.

There are only about a dozen serious, drug-related issues each year, says Brendan Munn, the head of medical, calling it a small fraction given that the festival's population is more than 10,000.

The festival also has more than 100 security guards, plus a plainclothes investigation team to crack down on trafficking. Mr.

Wilson says he strives to find security workers who embody the Shambhala spirit. "We try to avoid the door bouncer type," he explains. "We want the caregiver types."

Security does not go after people for possession of drugs, but it does devote energy to finding drug dealers, Mr. Wilson says, especially those believed to be peddling dangerous drugs that are sending people to the first aid tent. "Hopefully, they end up in an RCMP vehicle leaving the site; that's our goal," he says.

He notes the festival has fewer fights and sexual assaults than any other music festival he has worked at, a fact he attributes to the no-booze policy.

But in spite of the festival's efforts to reduce risks, accidents happen. This year, seven people were taken to hospital, organizers said. It is unclear how many hospital admissions were drug related. In 2012, a man at Shambhala died of an overdose after ingesting a cocktail of illegal and prescription drugs.

A different democraphic

The term "overdose" typically conjures up images of a street youth in tattered clothes slumped in an alleyway with a needle sticking out of one arm. But those who have died at music festivals this summer have been described by friends, family and co-workers as bright, hard-working young people with promising futures who were simply looking to have a good time.

Annie Truong-Le, the 20-yearold who died after taking drugs at Toronto's VELD Music Festival this month, was a political science major at York University.

Ms. Truong-Le was too busy studying and working with community non-profits to be involved with drugs, says Chris Rugel, who had volunteered with her at Mentoring Arts Tutoring Athletics.

"She was a smart girl, she was going to school, she was doing all the right things," Mr. Rugel says.

"I don't know what happened that day at VELD. It's really sad.

But I can only attribute it to her youth and having a little bit of fun and making a really bad decision any one of us could have made in her position."

Toronto Councillor Anthony Perruzza said Ms. Truong-Le interned in his office for six months during the summer of 2013 and had stayed in touch, helping organize community events.

"She was going places," he says.

"I would never have looked at her and said, 'There are problems here.' Absolutely not."

The pictures emerging of the other festivalgoers who have died this summer are similar. Willard Amurao, a 22-year-old from Ajax, Ont., who also died after ingesting party drugs at VELD, had a diploma in marketing from George Brown College .

Lynn Tolocka, a 24-year-old from Leduc, Alta., died after she collapsed from a suspected drug overdose at the Boonstock Music Festival in Penticton, B.C. According to a newspaper report, Ms. Tolocka was a martial arts enthusiast who grew up in a U.S. military family.

And Nick Phongsavath, 21, who was found dead in a tent at Pemberton Music Festival last month, was a software engineering student at the University of Regina and was among the winners of the Regina Engineering Competition last fall, according to a blog post.

People who spend hundreds of dollars going to music festivals are a different demographic from street youth with addictions, Dr. Lund says.

"People who are going out to these kinds of destination events are going there to have a really good time," he says. "They're using whatever drugs they're using to enhance their experience, to have a euphoric feeling."

Dr. Lund says it is unfair to blame electronic music, or music festivals in general. After all, drug overdoses at concerts are not new, he says.

"Every generation detests the music of its youth," Dr. Lund says.

Even Elvis was considered risky once. "This is just a different brand ... I don't think that electronic dance music should be particularly villainized for that."

Associated Graphic

Top: Festival-goers relax at the Squamish Valley Music Festival last weekend.


Above: A volunteer tests an MDMA capsule at Shambhala Music Festival in Nelson.


Thousands of fans watch Arcade Fire perform at the Squamish Valley Music Festival on August 9.


A security guard checks on a woman in the beer gardens at the Squamish Valley Music Festival.

'It brought people out of the closet'
World Pride took over Toronto earlier this summer. LGBT events will bring thousands to Montreal this week. But in the developing world, violent homophobia is on the rise. What will it take to humanize gay people and galvanize the gay-rights movement? Surprisingly, argues André Picard, the answer may be HIV/AIDS
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F3

In the early 1980s, a new disease ravaged the gay community. It had many names: gay pneumonia, gay cancer, the gay plague and the more formal Gay-Related Immune Deficiency. The symptoms were visible and immediately recognizable: a disfiguring cancer called Kaposi's sarcoma, extreme weight loss (wasting) and suffocating pneumocystis carinii pneumonia.

The deadly disease, renamed Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome after the virus was identified, travelled quickly through the gay community, but fear travelled even faster in mainstream society.

Gay men, even men suspected of being gay, lost their jobs - they were evicted from apartments and they were ostracized. Newspapers carried earnest stories about the risks of catching AIDS from a toilet seat in a public restroom. Funeral homes refused to handle bodies, and hospitals turned patients away, or placed them in isolation. There was talk of quarantining the sick in modern-day leper colonies and tattooing the infected to warn prospective sex partners of the danger.

"No one is safe from AIDS," blared Time magazine which, in the pre-Internet era, was hugely influential. Pat Buchanan, communications director for President Ronald Reagan, called AIDS "nature's revenge on gay men." Some far-right fundamentalist preachers called for the death penalty for homosexuals and, across the Western world, there were moves to bar gays from the classroom, from health-care jobs and more.

It was a time of stigmatization and oppression, eerily similar to what is going on again now in large parts of the developing world, but on a grander scale and with more dire consequences. At least 76 countries in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean have enacted anti-homosexual laws, and homophobia - and more disturbingly state-sanctioned homophobia and vigilantism - is on the rise. Sudan has the death penalty for anyone found to have committed "homosexual acts," Uganda has harsh prison sentences for anyone who even dares to speak out in defence of a "known homosexual," and Russia has labelled gay-rights groups as "enemies of the state."

At the same time, three decades after the "gay plague" began, there is an once-unthinkable acceptance of same-sex relationships in the Western world: Gay marriage is widely accepted, human-rights protections have been extended to gays and lesbians, and events like World Pride are not only mainstream family activities, but tourist draws.

How did this happen? How did fear of pestilent homosexuals give way to acceptance of men loving men? And are the horrors that are taking place now in the developing world the last gasp of homophobes, an inevitable clash on the road to gay liberation?

"What we're seeing today is two parallel stories: the relentless rise of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual (LGBT) rights in the Western world and the rise of homophobia and the trampling of rights elsewhere, and something has to give," says Craig McClure, a former activist with the radical AIDS group Act Up and now the chief of HIV-AIDS at the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund.

He says that a lot of activists who fought the early battles for gay rights in the West are now in positions of power and influence, and they have an obligation to speak out for and come to the aid of those who are now being jailed, beaten and threatened with death because of their sexual orientation.

"I think we need to do a lot more to support our brothers and sisters in the developing world," Mr. McClure says. "We should be as furious today as we were in the early days of the epidemic." And furious they were.

When AIDS came along in the early 1980s, the gay rights movement was well under way. It was born, symbolically at least, in June 1969, when police conducted a routine raid on a New York bar called Stonewall. Angered by the harassment, members of the gay community took to the streets in what came to be known as the Stonewall riots. The scenario was repeated with raids on bath houses and gay bars in Toronto, Montreal and elsewhere, and the community pushed back with demonstrations and lawsuits. Emboldened, the gay bathhouse subculture came out of the shadows and many embraced promiscuity as a form of revolution.

When AIDS struck, priorities changed, and quickly, from hedonism to survival. And, ironically, the advent of AIDS probably advanced gay rights more than anything else in history.

"HIV-AIDS changed public perceptions a lot: It showed a more humane side of the community," says Ed Jackson, director of program development at Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange, and a longtime activist. "It also galvanized gay men into being more active and more visible. It brought people out of the closet."

Mr. Jackson said the large number of HIV-positive men, and the often-overlooked contributions of many lesbian women who cared for the sick, forced members of the gay community to interact with the system, instead of living on the margins. In fact, many of the early battles that mobilized the community were about seemingly mundane issues such as the right to visit partners in hospital (people were refused access because they were not considered immediate family, even if they were in long-term relationships), taking time off to be with loved ones who were sick and dying and claiming insurance benefits.

Gay rights came incrementally as these battles were waged before administrative tribunals and the courts and, in the process, gay and lesbian couples became more mainstream.

"We went from being marginalized as sick people to being normalized," Mr. Jackson says.

"Along the way, a lot of desires became mainstreamed; we wanted to be like everybody else, which is why you saw a push for things like gay marriage.

"We chose the straight path, if you will," he adds with a smile.

AIDS hit Africa about the same time as it did Western countries and affected the same demographic groups, principally men who have sex with men, recipients of blood and blood products and intravenous drug users. But the response was very different from places like Canada. Instead of rage and activism, there was denial and inaction.

AIDS was dismissed as a disease of Westerners with perverse sexual habits. The party line in virtually every country on the continent was that there are no homosexuals, and that Africans don't engage in the unnatural acts that spread the disease. This dismissal delayed any serious response to the epidemic, and AIDS spread like wildfire, assisted greatly by truckers who travelled the transcontinental route that came to be known as the "AIDS highway" and the sex workers who populated road stops. By the late 1980s, when the rates of infection became so high that they could no longer be denied, AIDS was portrayed as a heterosexual disease, which was spreading so rapidly because men were promiscuous.

"It was never true that HIVAIDS was uniquely a heterosexual disease in Africa," says Christine Stegling, executive director of the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition, and a longtime AIDS activist in Botswana.

"The reality is that there are men who have sex with men in Africa, just as there are everywhere, but because of the stigma, they marry and otherwise remain hidden," she says.

"Politicians and governments have always refused to acknowledge that these practices and these communities exist.

"What's different now is that gay men and transgendered people are starting to come out - in large part because rates of HIVAIDS are so high in these communities - and that is making it a lot more difficult to deny their existence. This, in turn, has fuelled a backlash and the introduction of repressive anti-homosexuality laws."

"HIV has been devastating but it has also created an entrance for LGBT work to be done," Ms. Stegling adds.

"There is a lot of activism for rights in these communities but the response has put a lot of people's lives in danger."

Paul Semugoma, a Ugandan physician, knows that all too well. He is on a "wanted" list in his home country (where homosexuality is a crime) because he has spoken out for gay rights, and lives in exile in South Africa.

Dr. Semugoma decided to come out himself two years ago, for a couple of reasons. Gay activist David Kato, a close friend, had been murdered and he felt like a hypocrite. Also, he was treating large numbers of patients with HIV-AIDS but realized that men who have sex with men were reluctant to seek help for fear of being found out. Rates of HIVAIDS in men who have sex with men in Africa are about 10 times those of the heterosexual population.

"I was gay, I was having sex and nobody knew about it," Dr. Semugoma says. "But I realized that, with HIV-AIDS, silence is literally death, so I couldn't be silent any more."

As in the West, he adds, the AIDS epidemic is pushing gay men out of the closet and thrusting them into the public eye. But, unlike in the West, the evangelical movement that is so rabidly homophobic, holds much more sway, and corrupt, dictatorial governments are far less likely to "do the right thing" by extending rights to a beleaguered, oppressed minority. On the contrary, gays are a handy scapegoat.

"In Uganda, the anti-homosexuality law was presented as proAfrican, anti-West legislation. It's us versus them," he says. "But I reject that. I'm a gay man. I'm a Ugandan. I'm an African."

But the situation is not altogether dire, he notes. South Africa was one of the first countries in the world to legalize gay marriage and one of the few countries where discrimination against gays and lesbians is barred in the constitution. Uganda, because of its anti-homosexuality laws, is also becoming a human-rights pariah, in much the same way that South Africa's apartheid regime was isolated and pressured to change.

"All this discussion is forcing people to recognize that there are gays in Africa, just as there are everywhere in the world," Dr. Semugoma says. "We will always be a minority, but one day we will be a minority with rights."

"Even in Uganda?" he is asked.

"It's my country," he replies pensively. "Whether it's two years, 20 years or 50 years, I will return some day as a full citizen."

Andre Picard is The Globe and Mail's public health reporter.

Associated Graphic

This 1986 photo of Ken Meeks - taken three days before he died of AIDS - put a human face on the 'gay plague.'


The message in the bottle
Alison Pick on why we're still afraid of antidepressants - even when we take them
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F4

In the wake of Robin Williams' death, we have seen an incredible outpouring of compassion for those who suffer from depression. Suicide, so often met with accusations of selfishness, has instead been met with empathy - with an understanding that it's the result of unthinkable pain.

I want to feel hopeful that this new ethos of tolerance will last, and will encourage those afflicted to get the help they need and deserve. But deep down I fear it won't.

We are still suspicious of both mental illness and how it's treated. We might accept the idea of depression in celebrities, in our social circles, even in our friends - but surely we ourselves are stronger than that. Talk therapy, maybe. But aren't antidepressants for the weak or unstable, the truly sick?

I understand these biases because I suffer from depression and I hold them too.

I wasn't 'that' depressed

My first real experience with depression was in my early twenties, a typical age for onset. I had an old-school psychotherapist who did not believe in medication.

Depression, he said, is a sign that unconscious material is attempting to break free. It is a good sign that we are ready to heal. To medicate away your symptoms would be a kind of cruelty.

And he was right. I learned more about myself in those two years of therapy than I had in my entire life until then. I learned - I hadn't known! - about the way in which the unacknowledged within us has a way of running the show. I learned that to experience a feeling fully was the only way to release it.

I still believe these things. I know them to be true, because my depression passed. I experienced a long period of peace and ease - I published books, I enjoyed my life. Then the next dark spell hit. I hoped it was just plain old sadness. It was not. This pattern repeated several more times. Was each episode worse? It is so hard to be objective. To be depressed is to be swallowed by a fog. I can say with certainty that each episode made it very painful to be alive.

Still I resisted medication. I didn't want to banish my darkness at the expense of the rest of my personality - my insight, my authenticity, my sense of myself as an artist. And the fact that I was depressed did not line up with how I perceived myself, with how my life was supposed to be.

My fear is not only personal, but cultural. There's been a backlash against antidepressants since Prozac Nation came out in 1994. Part of our skepticism is about whether Big Pharma has our health at stake or just their profit. Part of our skepticism is about whether antidepressants actually work. These are valid concerns: according to a report in 2012, 42.6 million prescriptions for antidepressants were filled in Canada that year (our population is not quite 35 million).

But there's a deeper fear, too, that pills are a kind of cheating, a lazy way to deal with a problem, and that they will muffle our true or "essential" selves.

I spoke with Dr. David Goldbloom, senior medical advisor and staff psychiatrist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, who called this the "Frankenstein fear" of antidepressants. "This is the fear that medication will change me into something I am not, never was and don't want to be," he told me. "In my experience, most people who benefit from antidepressants feel more connected to, or more able to express and enjoy, their essential selves."

That would be nice.

But still I doubted. I wanted others who suffered to get treatment - of course! - but was I really a good cantidate? For me, the episodic nature of the illness means that when I am in the darkness it is hard to remember anything else exists, but when I am well I wonder if I'm making the whole thing up. I have such a good life. I have a family who loves me, financial stability, success in my career.

But depression, as Dr. Goldbloom told me, is not a logical reaction to external circumstances. My new memoir Between Gods is about the ways in which it can be inherited, like a family heirloom passed down the generations. Trauma, and its legacy, are very real. But so is brain chemistry, and despite the new research about the incredible plasticity of our brains, to a certain extent you get what you get.

Is this cheating?

Last fall, amidst a confluence of difficult personal events, I went to see my doctor. "Is there anything else I can try?" I asked.

"You're in therapy?" I nodded.

"Exercise works. But for it to have a statistically significant impact you have to exercise every single day."

Scratch that.

So I took a prescription and went to the pharmacy. After years of hesitation, the weight of my suffering all at once seemed heavier than the weight of all my doubts combined. Even so, I confess I thought of it as a kind of caving in, and my body's reaction to the drugs seemed like some bizarre punishment. For three days I didn't move from bed. I had every side effect - intense nausea, no appetite, dry mouth, dizziness - but the real sensation was of being buried alive.

In this way it was not so different from what I was trying to cure.

I was, as it turned out, having an "abnormal constellation of side effects." My doctor wanted to switch me to a different drug.

Was that wise? Maybe it was a sign I should not be on any drugs at all.

She looked at me with the kindest eyes.

"I'm just worried about how you felt before," she said.

The second drug muffled things in a way both pleasing and worrying. I was used to my feelings being like a chainsaw inside me. The jagged teeth tearing through my organs. Now I had some distance. I thought of the pain in my life. A sensation began in my body. But where a wave of grief and tears would normally have overtaken me, now it was thwarted. It rose in my chest and shivered along my shoulders, like goose bumps. Then it subsided.

A wave that did not crest.

I was grateful, for I knew the cresting would hurt. I was terrified, for the cresting would bring me relief.

Was this how normal people experienced emotion? It was so different from what I was used to. It was so good. It was so disconcerting.

I thought about a whole society on these medications, a nation of citizens lulled into permanent remove.

I talked to Andrew Solomon, the author of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression. Mr. Solomon is on antidepressants himself, which he speaks about in his hugely popular and moving TED Talks.

Isn't there something lost in taking drugs? I asked him.

"A great deal would be lost if we had medication that eliminated sadness," he said. "We need sadness to have our basic human experiences of love and connectedness. I would not want to lose that. Antidepressants deal with a lack of vitality: the shift for me was that I stopped being depressed and overwhelmed by having to take a shower. Now I am sad about Gaza, about planes being shot down in the Ukraine. One can hold onto those things even when taking the medication."

Mr. Solomon suggests that we are constantly altering ourselves - with sleep, exercise, our eating habits - and that taking antidepressants isn't somehow bizarrely different from all these other things we do.

But wasn't depression natural? I asked him.

Tooth decay is natural, he said, but nobody advocates against fluoride.


Exactly who you are

The drugs worked for me. They took a while to kick in, but once they did I passed several months in the winter - usually my worst time - without the same degree of existential dread. I still felt sad, but that matched up with my life's circumstances, and I was able to function, to be a good parent, to work. I felt so much better that I thought the episode had run its course. Spring arrived. I had been on the drugs for six months. I didn't want to be on them any longer than necessary.

I lowered the dose and then went off the antidepressants entirely. But it turned out I had underestimated the degree to which the medication was shielding me from myself. By which I mean to say, the drugs had succeeded in replicating the feeling of an "authentic self" so even I believed it.

Four days later I started to cry. The tears leaked out of me like some noxious substance my body was expelling. It was a cry without contents, a chemical cry, but that did not remove the potency. On the contrary.

I told my small daughter that tears were good, tears clean you out.

"Stop it Mama," she said, swiping at my cheeks. "Stop it."

Andrew Solomon told me, "People somehow think taking anti-depressants is like losing your virginity; you'll never be able to be your old self again. But my experience is if you don't like the way you've changed then you can stop taking them and go back to exactly as you were."


Buddhism says every moment is new; we do not know what will happen tomorrow. But the past has a way of predicting the future. I find myself caught between these poles, leaving room for a different story, trying to not become entrenched in the idea of being depressed, while also being realistic about that eventuality.

I still don't know whether I will go back on the medication. Despite how well it worked, my niggle about it remains. Depression is not logical. It is animal, and vicious. It is like being held down by your throat in two feet of water - you can see the surface, the air, but you cannot get there. I know it will pass. I know, each time, that if I can make it through the month, or six months, or year, I will feel better.

On the other hand, that's still a year I will have lost.

Alison Pick is the author of Far To Go, and the upcoming bookBetween Gods: A Memoir , in stores Sept. 2.

Associated Graphic


The firm hand on Canada's business tiller
'He was a mentor before mentoring was hot - he didn't even know what to call it'
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S10

It was 1957, and a little-known lawyer named Bertha Wilson - today better known as the first woman on the Supreme Court of Canada - was making the rounds on Bay Street looking for a job.

It wasn't an era when women were warmly embraced in the clubby male world inside Toronto's largest law firms, but she found supporters at the small firm of Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt, where fellow Dalhousie law school alumnus Purdy Crawford was one of the lawyers who saw her potential and supported her hiring.

Initially Ms. Wilson worked primarily as a researcher at the firm. Over time, she increasingly worked closely with Mr. Crawford on cases, providing a depth of legal expertise as the gregarious Mr. Crawford won business and worked with clients.

Mr. Crawford later insisted he was not Ms. Wilson's mentor, but rather a colleague who relied heavily on her excellent work. But friends say his support for Ms. Wilson's advancement was characteristic of Mr. Crawford's career, in which he repeatedly became an advocate for people with talent. That included numerous women in decades long before it was common for men to sponsor women's professional careers.

"I often cite [Bertha Wilson] as a female role model, but I say that I would not likely be talking about her at all if she hadn't had a Purdy Crawford giving her an opportunity to use her talents fully," said Alex Johnston, a lawyer and long-time Crawford family friend, who now heads the women's advocacy group Catalyst Canada.

Mr. Crawford, who died in Toronto on Tuesday at age 82 after a long illness, became a pillar of Canada's business community as a corporate lawyer and as a business executive who headed giant conglomerate Imasco Ltd. for a decade from 1985 to 1995.

He was also a reform advocate who headed numerous committees and task forces to deal with crises or spur improvements to business regulations.

Author Gordon Pitts, who has just completed a book about Mr. Crawford's life, said his greatest contribution to Canada was a private role: serving as a personal mentor for generations of young people who now form a who's who of Canada's most influential leaders, including Governor-General David Johnston, Toronto-Dominion Bank chief executive Ed Clark, and former Home Depot Canada chief executive Annette Verschuren.

For most of his life, Mr. Crawford never thought of himself as a mentor, Mr. Pitts said, and the term was not as widely used in bygone decades. Instead, he fell into the role naturally. He had an outgoing personality, loved to remember details of everyone's life, and would generously open doors to help his legions of friends.

"There aren't many people like that, when you look at his influence," said Mr. Pitts, a former Globe and Mail reporter. "And I don't think there is any male business leader who had more to do with the advancement of women than Purdy Crawford. He was a mentor before mentoring was hot - he didn't even know what to call it."

In 2013, Mr. Crawford received a special recognition award from Catalyst Canada for advancing women on boards of directors.

Deborah Alexander, executive vice-president and general counsel at Bank of Nova Scotia, said Mr. Crawford was her most important mentor as a young lawyer. "He was also so much more," Ms. Alexander said. "He was a friend and a confidante, and much of my personal success is attributable to him."

Harold Purdy Crawford was born on Nov. 7, 1931, in the tiny town of Five Islands, N.S. His mother, Grace, was a divorcée with two sons when she met coal miner Frank Crawford, a widower. They married and later had Purdy, who grew up with two half-brothers and a half-sister.

His mother, who lived to 94, was "formidable," recalled granddaughter Heather Crawford, one of Mr. Crawford's six children.

Grace is credited as one of the early influences who helped make him a supporter of women in an era when they were rarely encouraged to succeed in careers or often even pursue higher studies.

He grew up modestly as a coal miner's son, and attended a tworoom schoolhouse in Five Islands, later moving to a small, four-room high school. It was there he met Beatrice Corbett, and the couple began dating as high-school sweethearts. They married when he was 20 and she was 18.

Mr. Crawford was completing his undergraduate degree at Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B., at the time of their wedding, and the couple then moved to Halifax, where he won a scholarship to study law at Dalhousie University. After law school, they moved to Boston, where Mr. Crawford earned a master's degree in law at Harvard University with help from more scholarships.

He later headed to Toronto to fulfill his ambition to work in a large city. He joined Osler in 1956, became a partner in 1962 and a member of the firm's small executive committee in 1970.

Osler vice-chair Brian Levitt said Mr. Crawford helped to transform the firm, which was small at the time and had a limited scope of work. (Others more bluntly say Osler was a stodgy 100-year-old bastion for old-money Toronto elites when Mr. Crawford first arrived in the mid-1950s.)

Mr. Crawford advocated for a more open hiring culture at the firm, and shifted focus into new areas of law, Mr. Levitt said. In the 1960s, Mr. Crawford served as counsel to the Kimber committee, which developed an Ontario Securities Act that became the foundation for securities law in Canada today.

Mr. Levitt said Mr. Crawford's experience in helping to shape the province's securities helped him garner the knowledge and contacts to push Osler deeper into the realm of securities law.

"It got us into the capital markets and [mergers and acquisition] business," Mr. Levitt said.

"And he had a real eye for talent - he simultaneously built the firm's capacity and built its talent base."

Mr. Crawford's work on the Kimber committee was just the beginning of a long series of projects involving public policy reforms. Over the years, he served on numerous panels, including a huge project in 2003 to develop updates to Ontario's securities laws, as well as a task force to propose a new model for a national securities regulator in Canada in 2005.

Perhaps most prominently, Mr. Crawford agreed in 2007 to head the high-profile committee working to resolve the collapse of Canada's $32-billion market for non-bank commercial paper, which threatened to leave many large institutions with huge losses. After months of tortuous negotiations, he helped persuade a host of truculent parties to accept a settlement and receive new restructured notes.

Lawyer Stephen Halperin, who worked with Mr. Crawford on the restructuring, said his partner was most proud of the fact the committee recovered full restitution for smaller retail investors.

"He was mindful of the small investors - mindful that they didn't have a seat at the table and mindful that his role was to represent them as much as the big institutions," Mr. Halperin said.

Mr. Crawford was also "incredibly smart and incredibly strategic" at seeing the big picture, and recognizing the public policy issues at play, Mr. Halperin said.

"You don't often get role models when you are 57 or 58. He was a role model for me," he added.

Mr. Crawford interrupted his law career for a decade, from 1985 to 1995, when he was offered the opportunity to head conglomerate Imasco, which at the time controlled a host of major Canadian companies, including Canada Trust in the era before its sale to Toronto-Dominion Bank; as well as Imperial Tobacco and Shoppers Drug Mart.

While the job allowed him to shape the future of a stable of Canadian companies, he also faced long-term difficulties with Imperial Tobacco.

Critics excoriated the company and its executives for selling tobacco in an era when it was becoming an increasingly socially shameful commodity, and Mr. Crawford later had to watch the legal aftermath that stemmed from a widespread industry practice of smuggling cigarettes into Canada to avoid high taxes and boost corporate taxes.

Long after Mr. Crawford had departed and Imasco was broken up, Imperial Tobacco announced a settlement in 2008 with federal and provincial governments to pay a $200-million fine for smuggling activities in the 1980s and 1990s. All other major Canadian tobacco companies faced similar penalties, and Mr. Crawford never spoke publicly about the legal issues.

Outside of work, he spent his holidays at his family compound on the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia, and remained committed to promoting business and education causes in Atlantic Canada.

He made large donations to Maritime universities, especially to his alma mater, Mount Allison, where he has helped finance construction of the new Purdy Crawford Centre for the Arts.

David Wheeler, president of Cape Breton University, where Mr. Crawford helped fund aboriginal business studies, said he was made an honorary chief of the Membertou First Nation and given the name Rising Tide in appreciation for his commitment to the community.

"He would joke that he was still searching for his twin, Chief Ebbing Tide," Mr.Wheeler recalls.

Mr. Crawford's daughter Heather said her father appreciated the honour so much that the family named his new vacation home on the Bay of Fundy "Rising Tide."

"It signifies that [Membertou] position, and also the fact that we really felt our father raised all ships, as the tide does. Whether in the business community or at home, his presence raised us all," she said.

In addition to Beatrice, his wife of 63 years, Mr. Crawford leaves six children: Suzanne, Heather, Mary, David, Barbara and Sarah; and 17 grandchildren.

With files from reporters Boyd Erman, Tara Perkins and Jane Taber

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Associated Graphic

Beatrice and Purdy Crawford at a family event in April, 2012. The high-school sweethearts were married for 63 years.


Purdy Crawford, shown in Toronto in 2009, led the high-profile committee that resolved the collapse of Canada's $32-billion market for non-bank commercial paper.


Ammo and camo: It's a girl thing
Supportive, nurturing, and very good shots. Alanna Mitchell on the rise of women who hunt
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F3

Last week, a self-described "diehard waiting on the big old buck" reassured his modest Twitter following: "Keep calm, deer season is almost here."

The advice may have been intended for men, but the biggest response came from a woman: Eva Shockey's retweet to her more than 39,000 followers.

A Canadian who identifies herself as a professional hunter, Ms. Shockey travels the world as cohost, with her Vancouverbased father, of Jim Shockey's Hunting Adventures, a wildly successful staple of the Outdoor Channel.

At 26, Ms. Shockey is being touted as the "new queen of hunting." Along with the Twitter throng, she has more than 600,000 "likes" on Facebook. Even the sporting man's bible, Field & Stream, recently declared her a "rising star," putting her photo on its cover - just the second such appearance by a woman in the magazine's 119-year history. (The first? The Queen almost four decades ago.)

F&S focused on Ms. Shockey's passion for hunting with a bow rather than bullets - a hot trend, especially since The Hunger Games. But when asked to predict the "next big thing" outdoors, she didn't reach for the latest high-tech arrow.

"Women are," she replied.

"Compared to just last year, the number of women I meet - young girls, teenagers, moms with babies, older women - who tell me they hunt, or are taking up hunting, is incredible."

She has a case. It is partly because of women that hunting is on the rise again after decades of decline. In 2011, according to a survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, their numbers were up 36 per cent from 1991 - versus a corresponding drop of 6 per cent in male hunters.

If anything, the trend is even stronger in Canada. The number of women hunters in Alberta almost doubled between 2006 and last year, while in Ontario it has risen 70 per cent in the past four years and in B.C. by 62 per cent between 2003 and 2012. Last year, enrolment in Saskatchewan's mandatory hunter-education course rose by more than half over 2012, with women accounting for more than onethird of all students.

This year three Canadians reached the semi-finals of Extreme Huntress, a TV competition for women around the world that began in 2010, about the time Ms. Shockey says she noticed that women's participation had "just gone crazy."

'It's an ethical decision'

Last fall, Jenna Gall took a break from her studies in the Okanagan Valley and went home to Saskatchewan for a few days. She didn't go back to school emptyhanded - her suitcase held almost 25 kilos of frozen venison.

An experienced hunter at 22, Ms. Gall bagged a handsome white-tailed deer in the first hour of what was supposed to be four days in the field with her father, who farms near Montmartre, an hour east of Regina.

The two spotted the buck shortly after dawn. Heart pounding, Ms. Gall sat down to steady herself and then, as the deer ran off across the snow and wheat stubble, took the toughest shot of her life. He went down right away.

She has gone on hunts since she was 7, but Ms. Gall remains something of a novelty to her friends, many of them amazed to learn that she not only eats wild game regularly but is willing to go out and get it.

And many women are trying to emulate her: Kelly Semple is executive director of the Hunting for Tomorrow Foundation, an Edmonton-based coalition of outdoors organizations that has long run an annual training program specifically for women.

What began as a day and half of instruction for a class of 20 ran for five days this month, with registration cut off at 200 people four months ago.

Ms. Shockey says that, in her grandfather's day, women wouldn't dare go out and shoot a deer for the dinner table. "Now, any woman anywhere can do it."

But why, in the age of environmentalism and wildlife conservation, do women want to?

With a pierced lip and a slash of bright red in her hair, Sam Pauzé hardly looks like a typical "sportsman." Yet on a Sunday morning she is one of four women in a class of about 30 taking a course at the Buckeye Firearms and Hunter Training Cabin northeast of Toronto.

The setting is suitably rustic: An imposing stuffed moose head overlooks the classroom, camouflage fabric covers the windows, and the tables are made of plywood and two-by-fours. There is also just one washroom. So when lineups begin to form, instructor Tom Ott invites those able to find relief standing up to visit the great outdoors.

"It's kind of a man's world," the 23-year-old Ms. Pauzé concedes, but then adds: "It's uplifting to be part of it, to be self-sufficient."

Classmate Jessica Wright, 23, is no less aware of being a trailblazer. "I've always wanted to do this," she says. "People see girls and they say: 'You can't hunt.' " That's hard to say about Ms.

Shockey, praised by many in the hunting community both for serving as a role model and for making the sport chic.

But she admits that even she "didn't really have the hunting bug, naturally." It was only under the tutelage of her famous father that she eventually came to hunting - as an ethical way to put meat on the table.

She is not the only woman put off by how commercially raised livestock are treated, says Dylan Eyers, who runs EatWild, a Vancouver company that preaches the virtues of game in the diet and teaches everything from how to hunt to what to do with what they kill.

"It's an ethical decision."

Ms. Shockey also opposes the commercial use of chemicals and growth hormones, and says it makes more sense to eat an animal that has lived a healthy, maybe happy life in the wild.

This school of thought certainly includes the deer-stalking Ms. Gall, who is thoroughly green, given her freshly minted honours degree in environmental and earth studies from UBC Okanagan in Kelowna.

In fact, if she didn't hunt, "I likely would be vegetarian ... I don't agree with eating meat if I don't know where it's coming from."

Dick Ott, who runs the Buckeye Cabin with brother Tom, says that, a few years ago, a female student had a bowl of the wild game stew on offer during a class and told him it was the first meat she'd eaten in six years.

"You can't get much more organic than wild meat," he contends.

Well, not quite: Studies show that wild game has about onethird fewer calories than even lean cuts of commercial meat and is lower in cholesterol, but health experts point out that wild meat isn't necessarily organic if, for example, deer have fed on pesticide-treated grain and that eating game taken with buckshot can elevate levels of lead in the bloodstream.

Also, wild deer, elk and moose in parts of the U.S., Alberta and Saskatchewan can carry chronic wasting disease, a brain-destroying condition that is fatal and thought to have originated on game farms. There is no evidence it can jump to humans but health officials warn against eating suspect animals.

Some women's attachment to hunting runs deeper than diet, though - it's a meditation on living off the land: If they don't farm it or hunt it, they don't eat it.

Ms. Semple of Hunting for Tomorrow calls self-sufficiency "a big motivator," adding that "women are confident. They're not dependent on anyone.

They're very empowered."

The backlash

For all its revived popularity, hunting remains controversial, with detractors especially irate at anyone who does it for trophies or the thrill of the kill.

For some, the idea of a woman hunting seems to trigger an almost primal response, as demonstrated by some of the comments posted on Ms. Shockey's Facebook page.

Given that they are expected to be "more supporting, nurturing, caring," says Lauren Everall, a 30year-old B.C. hunter, "maybe seeing women hunt brings up some deep-seated shock ... maybe it's seen as more violent than when men do it."

EatWild's Mr. Eyers says that a few years ago a woman featured in a local newspaper story about urban hunters was stalked by angry people on social media.

He says he's careful when marketing his company to steer clear of images of guns and dead animals, instead emphasizing the adventures and good food to be had.

Tom Ott warns his Buckeye class not to flaunt what they shoot, reminding them that Ontario cancelled its spring bear hunt in 1999 after a public outcry. When the hunt returned this year as a pilot project, irate animal-rights activists tried to stop it again in court.

"If it's all about the bloodsport," he says, "that's quite a negative image. The way we present ourselves makes a big difference."

Ms. Everall says choosing what to eat is highly political, no matter what you decide. She spent 10 years defending the fact she was a vegetarian and now must do the same for hunting, which she still doesn't support fully.

"I'm exploring it as an option," she says. "We humans, we're animals. We need to consume something."

Alanna Mitchell is an award-winning environmental journalist and author who lives in Toronto. Her father used to go hunting - with her brothers.

Canadian hunter Eva Shockey has clear market appeal. Her face graces the packaging on products such as the new Crosman Wildcat, a semi-automatic BB pistol that is hot pink. But her weapon isn't a gun, it's a bow and arrow - conveniently just like the heroine of the Hunger Games. Field & Stream played up the similarity to Katniss Everdeen right down to the braid over one shoulder when it put Ms. Shockey on its cover. But she doesn't mind: "Katniss has done a huge amount for women and bow-hunting," she says. "And she's not there because she's taking off her clothes. She's classy, she's independent - there's nothing negative about that."

Associated Graphic

If she didn't hunt her own game, says Jenna Gall, she'd 'be vegetarian.'

The AGO's massive new retrospective proves that there's such a thing as too much of a master. James Adams reports
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R1

It's usually a huge disappointment when a survey of a major artist fails to include a work or works that a viewer believes should be there. How authoritative and essential would a Tom Thomson retrospective be without The West Wind and The Jack Pine? Ditto a van Gogh exhibition minus The Starry Night, or a Manet sans Le déjeuner sur l'herbe from the Musée d'Orsay.

No one is going to complain about such absences in Alex Colville, an exhibition of paintings and studies by the man who, before his death last summer at 92, was Canada's most famous living artist. Opening Saturday at the Art Gallery of Ontario for a run through Jan. 4, the show spans his entire career, includes more than 110 paintings culled from public and private collections across the country, and sprawls over several galleries in the Zacks Pavilion on the AGO's second floor. The Toronto gallery hosted the first major retro of the artist 31 years ago, a two-month-long showcase that went on to tour other Canadian centres, as well as venues in Germany, China and Japan.

Of course, there are gaps - I don't recall seeing In the Woods, from 1976, for example; or 1954's Three Sheep; or Man on Verandah, the 1953 tempera on board that sold for close to $1.3-million in 2010, the most valuable Colville ever sold at auction in Canada. But this is just nitpicking. For a decidedly irreligious man, Colville had a knack for producing precisely rendered iconic images, and pretty much all of his greatest hits are gathered here. They include Horse and Train, To Prince Edward Island, Pacific and Dog and Priest, as well as quirkier, less familiar pieces like the Felliniesque Circus Woman from 1959. There are five works never before seen in public, including Woman with Clock, a 2010 acrylic of the artist's wife and long-time muse, Rhoda (she predeceased him by six months), generally deemed to be Colville's last painting.

It is, in fact, this feeling of completeness that is perhaps the exhibition's biggest flaw. Colville was a singular talent. But, in its very plenitude, the AGO show makes the case for an artist best consumed and appreciated in small doses.

Doubtless many Canadians can remember their first encounter with a Colville and the thrall in which they were held.

But almost 65 years after the artist finished what he considered his first truly successful Colville painting - Nude and Dummy, also on show here - repeat encounters in such a grand survey affirm the law of diminishing aesthetic returns. In short order, the persistent rectitude of Colville's palette, the geometric rigour of the compositions, the finickiness of his brush strokes (profligate in number, stingy in application), the impasto-bereft surfaces of the paintings, their atmosphere of existential melancholy and constipated terror, the artist's fondness for freezing a painting's action in media resall induce not so much reverential contemplation as a kind of fatigue.

Indeed, had this show been trimmed by 30 per cent (at least) and the balance hung in tighter proximity, its cumulative effect would have been more potent, not less. And it certainly would have been more in keeping with Colville's repressed, buttoned-down, Apollonian aesthetic. (One of the funniest artifacts in the current exhibition is A.C. Little's 1990 photograph of Colville, in suit and tie on a summer day, walking along railroad tracks with a dog - two quintessential Colville tropes.)

Andrew Hunter, the curator both of the show and of Canadian art at the AGO, says he went into its assembly determined to present the Colville oeuvre less as a "memorial" or "closed book" than as an argument for Colville's "ongoing" and "deep relevance" as a "significant artist."

To militate against the works' sheer familiarity, Hunter employs two strategies. One is to arrange the Colvilles by theme rather than chronology. Thus, there are sections with such titles as Of Light, Love and Loss; Home from Away; and On Good and Evil.

The other is to position, at various junctures, a series of what he calls "responses" and "echoes" by other artists, living and dead. They include William Eakin's monumental photographs of the six fauna-themed coins Colville designed for Canada's centennial; a 2013 colourpencil drawing, titled Hunters, by the late Cape Dorset artist Itee Pootoogook; a looped clip of a beach scene from Sarah Polley's autobiographical 2012 film Stories We Tell; and an eight-page comic book, Colville Comics, by Hamilton-based David Collier who (like Colville, in his case, during the Second World War) served as an artist for the Canadian military.

Another short loop is from a tense scene in a Texas suburb near the end of the Oscar-winning No Country for Old Men. Colville thought Joel and Ethan Coen were "great filmmakers," according to his daughter, Ann Kitz. He liked the way the brothers captured a sense of events "going along very smoothly" on a sunny day, then suddenly turning "horribly wrong."

Hunter's first strategy, while not altogether successful (it's finally like shuffling a well-worn deck of cards), does result in some artful juxtapositions. One my favourites involves the pairing of the female nude in Colville's 1987 film-noirish Woman with Revolver with the equally noir nude Dressing Room from 15 years later. Guns, of course, are a Colville motif. (If there isn't already an edition of Camus's The Myth of Sisyphus - which begins "There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide" - with Pacific or Target Pistol and Man on its cover, there should be.) And it's carried even into the show's amply stocked gift boutique, which offers a revolver keychain for $9; and, for $27, a notebook with an embossed pistol on its cover.

In some respects, the most interesting works in the exhibit, at least from a purely painterly perspective, are the early ones - among them a couple of selfportraits from the 1940s; and scenes of the Second World War.

The latter include, of course, depictions of the horrors of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp that a 24-year-old Colville witnessed, to life-searing effect, in April, 1945. Content-wise, these paintings are already distinctively Colvillean. To paraphrase Marc Mayer, CEO of the National Gallery of Canada: Alex Colville always was Alex Colville.

Yet, the brushwork is refreshingly looser, less refined; the compositions airier and not as beholden to the strictures that came to jacket Colville's mature work.

As for Hunter's second strategy, it's decidedly more interesting than the first, but frustratingly so. While its notion of "anticipations," "responses" and "echoes" more successfully realizes the ambition of updating Colville's artistic currency (rather than stranding him, as the art establishment did from the late 1950s into the early eighties, as an eccentric cul-de-sac doomed to history's dustbin by the grand sweep of abstract expressionism, pop, and conceptualism), it's realized with insufficient breadth and depth.

Certainly the conceit begins excitingly and enticingly enough, with Hunter positioning, at the exhibition's entry, Colville's 1965 classic To Prince Edward Island alongside a 10-second loop, from Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom (2012), of actress Kara Hayward staring worriedly through binoculars while atop an apparent lighthouse. This doubling, with its suggestions of surveillance, isolation, Hitchcockian tension, unknowability and voyeurism, motion and stasis, creates an anticipation that's only fitfully realized by the rest of the show.

For instance (through no fault of the AGO), Warner Bros. refused permission to run those excerpts from Stanley Kubrick's The Shining in which no fewer than four Colvilles (Horse and Train among them) appear. As a result, a gallery visitor is left to simply stare at those paintings and try to imagine their cinematic resonance via text panels outlining when each of the Colvilles appears and what's happening narratively when it does.

Still, the idea, at least, was a smart one. And proceeding through the exhibition, you'll likely be hankering for more examples of that kind of thinking, even if their realization might have meant fewer paintings of dogs, bridges, cars, and humans with their faces supplanted, averted, cropped or otherwise obscured.

Perhaps, too, had the AGO given itself extra prep time, it might have sourced more interesting and eclectic artists for compare-and-contrast purposes. The gallery's inclusion of hyperrealist paintings by Christopher and Mary Pratt is entirely apt but also entirely predictable. The show would be a lot cooler and hotter had the AGO scored, say, The Old Man's Dog and the Old Man's Boat by Eric Fischl, with its suburban sexual raunch; or one of David Salle's mid-eighties provocations; or a loan of Cindy Sherman's creepy Untitled Film Still #48, depicting a solitary woman at dusk, seemingly stranded with suitcase, beside a deserted highway.

As it stands, the exhibition affirms, if such affirmation is needed, Colville's stature as a Canadian original. However, as a machine for recasting or revaluating what the artist himself called the "authentic fictions" of his oeuvre in light of contemporary art practice, it is something of a missed opportunity. Or as Hunter prefers, in his introduction to the show's catalogue, a "beginning rather than ending."

Alex Colville opens Aug. 23 at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto and runs to Jan. 4, 2015. It moves to the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa from April 24 to Sept. 7, 2015.

Associated Graphic

Alex Colville, Couple on Beach (1957)

Three Horses (1946): The most interesting pieces in the 110-work exhibit, at least from a purely painterly perspective, are the early ones.


The AGO show offers thoughtful 'responses' and 'echoes' to Colville's work by other artists, including a 10-second loop from Wes Anderson's 2012 film, Moonrise Kingdom (left), alongside Colville's 1965 classic, To Prince Edward Island.


The trouble with private equity valuations
As pension funds bet big on private companies and infrastructure, the worth of these investments can be hard to pin down
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B7

In the middle of a private equity bull run, with money managers such as Canadian pension funds searching for superior returns outside traditional public markets, Andrew Ang is one of the few brave souls waving the caution flag.

Early in 2013, the professor and chair of finance and economics at Columbia Business School put out a prominent paper that suggested private equity returns aren't as sexy as they seem. His research targeted large, longterm investors, such as university endowments and pension funds, which regularly cite their lengthy time horizons and deep pockets as key reasons to invest in private companies and infrastructure assets.

Because these funds often do not pay their beneficiaries for 20 or 30 years, they argue that they have the size and patience required to invest in illiquid assets that are thought to offer top-notch returns.

But Prof. Ang found that widespread biases inflate private equity returns. And even after adjusting for these, the gains often aren't enough to justify the extra risk that comes with this type of investing. In a public market, investors can buy and sell at any time; in the private asset world, the market can quickly dry up.

"Many [funds] have these expected return targets that I think are unrealistic," Prof. Ang said in an interview.

He isn't alone any more. As private equity heats up, there are growing questions about the industry and its valuations. Even the Securities and Exchange Commission, the major U.S. market watchdog, has weighed in, with reports surfacing in April that an internal review found widespread compliance shortfalls that can affect the way funds are valued.

The questions come just as Canadian pension funds pile into private markets, searching for juicy returns many claim cannot be made from investing in publicly-traded securities. The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, the investment arm of the country's largest pension fund, now has 40 per cent of its portfolio in private assets, which includes privately held companies, real estate, infrastructure and securities such as private debt. Smaller rivals are following suit. OPTrust, the pension fund for Ontario public service employees, just signed its twelfth direct private equity deal in two years.

These pension funds are ramping up in what observers are calling an incredibly expensive market. Scores of private equity funds have emerged as the industry matured over the past two decades, boosting demand for a relatively fixed assortment of assets, and debt financing to fund takeovers is readily available thanks to the Federal Reserve's post-crisis stimulus program. "There's just a ton of liquidity out there," said Jane Rowe, head of Teachers' Private Capital, the private investing arm of the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan.

Undoubtedly, private assets can offer enticing returns. Teachers made boatloads by investing in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Raptors, for instance, and Teachers' private equity arm has returned 19.5 per cent, net of fees, since its inception in 1991.

But such outsized profits can also be outliers and it isn't clear whether all of the country's pension funds know what they are getting themselves into - specifically, how difficult it is to build a first-class franchise. Even Teachers, a widely respected private equity player, acknowledges that it stumbled badly in its early days. "It is a business where we had to learn to crawl, then walk, before we could really ramp up," Ms. Rowe said.

One of the industry's major drawbacks is the difficulty faced when trying to value private investments between their initial purchase date and the time of their ultimate sale. Unlike stocks traded frequently on major indexes, providing observers with regular updates on what the market considers a fair price, private assets change hands much less often. The average holding period in private equity is four years, and a lot can happen during that time; in extreme cases, a pension fund could buy a water utility and own it for 25 years. As a result, the valuation process is full of subjectivity.

"A valuation is an estimate. I don't care if we do it or Goldman Sachs does it," said Andy Smith, a principal at valuation specialist McLean Group in Virginia. "It's an estimate, and you need to be asking questions."

Because there is so much more subjectivity when comparing thinly-traded assets such as water treatment plants or highways, "if you're valuing any asset, you're always plus-minus 10 to 15 per cent," Mr. Smith said. Annual performance metrics can't always be trusted, and they are especially problematic when markets sour.

During the financial crisis, Harvard University's endowment fund - then valued at $37-billion (U.S.) - famously lost 22 per cent between July 1 and Oct. 31, 2008, and university officials warned that even more value was destroyed after factoring in private equity and real estate, which could not be accurately priced in such a volatile market. Because the university did not have a clear picture, administrators were suddenly told to cut their budgets in dramatic fashions.

As for overall fund returns, Prof. Ang warns against relying on inflated data skewed by what's called survivorship bias. Whenever poorly performing private equity funds fail, they stop reporting returns, and that means these portfolios are then excluded from further industry calculations.

To account for subjectivity and biases, auditors and valuation firms have developed code phrases such as "range of reasonableness" and "disparity in practice" - all of which are "code words for 'fudging it,' " Mr. Smith said.

Global bodies such as the International Accounting Standards Board have become aware of the inconsistencies and laid out guidelines to standardize the valuation process as much as possible, including hiring external advisers to offer independent estimates. However, "it still is a subjective exercise by design," said Colin O'Leary, the Canadian leader for valuation and business modelling at Ernst & Young.

"Many times when you talk to people on the deal side ... they will give you this answer: 'It only matters what happens when we get to the end of the investment,' " said David Larsen, a managing director at valuation and corporate finance advisory firm Duff & Phelps, which does work for the Canadian pension funds.

The valuation team at PricewaterhouseCoopers deals with the same issue. Clients "may struggle with the concept of 'fair value' when it differs from their expectations," said Sean Rowe, a partner at the firm. "They may see the longer-term value, and not the immediate value."

Advisers stress that mid-term checkups are incredibly important. Mr. Larsen, who was on the drafting committee for the U.S. Private Equity Valuation Guidelines, said funds have a fiduciary responsibility to know exactly what is going on, and constant valuations help to determine which asset allocation changes need to be made - should the manager put more money in private equity or less? Should the manager buy more stocks or fewer of them?

The issue is a hot one at the University of Toronto's Rotman International Centre for Pension Management, which is run by renowned pension expert Keith Ambachtsheer. At this very moment the ICPM is doing research to find better ways to come up with mid-point valuations for illiquid, private assets.

These checkups are especially handy when material changes arise. This week, rating agency Standard & Poor's downgraded the debt of Teranet Inc., which has a monopoly on land registration data in Ontario and Mantioba, and is owned by the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System. While the company's business model is still solid, S&P says, it worries about how much debt has been added to fund acquisitions - which could ultimately affect the firm's value.

When pressed about their private equity exposures, Canada's pension funds often point out that their private asset portfolios are largely comprised of infrastructure investments, such as toll roads or water utilities. Because these assets are government regulated and are often essential to daily life, they are widely viewed as extremely safe alternatives that are bound to see their values rise in the long run.

Not everyone is convinced. Jim Keohane, chief executive officer of HOOPP, the pension plan for Ontario health care workers, stresses that these assets are still illiquid. "Liquidity can have tremendous value at certain points in time," he said, adding that the risk premiums embedded in the values for these rarely traded assets often aren't high enough. "From what we can see in pricing, it's just not there."

This doesn't mean HOOPP is against all private deals. The pension fund has a sizable real estate portfolio, for instance. But Mr. Keohane worries that too many people have blinders on, especially with regard to government regulated infrastructure assets.

"I go to meeting after meeting, and I hear over and over again, 'I just made this investment last year and the regulator came in and changed the rules on me.' That happens all the time," he said.

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, for one, recently invested in Gassled, Norway's offshore gas pipeline system, and shortly after, the country announced major cuts to gas transportation tariffs, prompting the Canadian fund and its investment partners to sue, tying them - and their capital - to a lawsuit that could drag on for years.

There are ways to make private equity work for pension funds. Teachers has been investing in private markets for more than twenty years, and it is viewed as a global leader. But Teachers also has the luxury of being patient now that it has a sizable roster of investments.

"There's no pressure to have to do a deal, and that makes Ontario Teachers different than a typical private equity [firm], or a younger pension plan that is trying to get money into a particular asset class," Ms. Rowe said - especially in such a heated market.

"This industry has matured," Prof. Ang said. "It's always harder to get superior returns when there's a lot of money chasing deals."

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Bears. Bugs. Rain. Whatever: The biggest challenge of camping alone is facing yourself, writes Jacob Berkowitz
Saturday, August 30, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F3

'When's the last time you went camping by yourself?" my wife asks as I back out the van from our driveway. For a moment I see myself as she does: week's worth of salt-andpepper stubble, sunglasses, yellow canoe tied to roof rack of red family van.

"When I was 16," I reply.

"When I was 16."

This October I'll turn 50. So that's a lifetime ago. Then, I was at a wilderness canoe camp that included a three-day solo trip. A coming-of-age experience alone in the northern Ontario wilds.

Now, I'm the parent of teenaged campers but I still remember how heading out alone on an adventure changes the nature of everything you experience.

Solitude is something we often avoid like a bad smell. In July, a team of American psychologists reported in Science that they'd asked adults to sit alone in a room for 15 minutes. No phones, screens or reading material - just their thoughts and feelings.

In the room was a device with which participants could zap themselves with a mild electric shock that they'd already experienced and described as unpleasant.

Two-thirds of the the men and a quarter of the women zapped themselves before the 15 minutes was up. "(The) mind does not like to be alone with itself," the authors concluded.

Some times it does. Out there in the wild, your brain goes into detailed intensity mode. The world tastes richer, is more interesting. Even if the bears you'll probably encounter aren't outside, but within.

Heading out

At the put-in, I load my canoe, guitar acting as figurehead pointing over the bow, and push off. I take off my shirt and relax into the steady rhythm of the J-stroke.

In the distance I see Site 71 (the number changed to protect my favourite campsite), a sentinel line of mature white pine trees marching down a hill to the south and out along the site's ridge to the point's cliffedged lip. I pull ashore and unload in mid-day heat, and decide to go for a swim before lunch.

One of the reasons I love Site 71 is for its four-meter-high jumping cliff, the top flat as a diving board, the perfect wilderness jump into deep, deep water. I stand on the cliff, surveying the lake.

To my left I see a canoe breaching the point. I recognize them: the couple I'd seen at the put-in, the smile-less woman in the bow, facing sternwards toward the guy who'd glared at me as if I was trespassing on a private beach. They're in a 14foot Coleman canoe, the kind with Styrofoam sideboards, like a child's water wings, a bastardization of millennia of canoe craftsmanship.

In retrospect, I don't know if I hear or see them first. What I do recall are her words, galvanized nail-hard.

"Don't tell me that. You've been changin' your lure every five minutes. That's 35 minutes of you not paddling."

It's one of those crystalline moments when, because of some confluence of timing, location and acoustics you overhear a perfect sound-bite of strangers' conversation and it stays with you forever.

I jump. I jump for the guy in the stern. I jump to say enough. I'm here. I revel in gravity's awesome tug. My feet slap hard on the water, bubbles rush up in the dark greenish-blue water, I see my hands reflected down from the lake's surface as I reach up for the light.

The neighbours

I learned about the lake, and the point, a decade ago from neighbours.

"Where you guys going this weekend?" I'd asked as the couple lashed a canoe to their car.

She looked at me with a sheepish grin, what I took as a mix of selfish embarrassment at not wanting to tell me and a genuine desire to protect something deeply valuable to her.

Taking a step forward, she softly mentioned the lake's name. It's the only place I've ever known that people kept secret.

Our annual family visits to Site 71 had the aura of coming to a secret place, not a provincial park - and better for it, I thought. There's still a flavour of the wild here.

But while eating a shore lunch, I hear the sputter, cough and then distinctive high whine of a chainsaw. I walk up the ridge to see that one of my long-weekend neighbours - five guys, two boats, bounteous coolers, 50 metres away on an island - is walking along the far shoreline of the little bay, chainsaw in hand, cutting driftwood and anything that stands in his way.

I've been blind to the fact that in the past decade the lake has gone from a relatively unknown to a very known destination; from buying camping passes at a remote Ottawa Valley general store, now a gravel lot, to online campsite bookings.

After dark I climb into my tent. I'd imagined this moment as one of calm silence, the sound of white pine needles rustling in the off-lake breeze.

Instead I lie in my sleeping bag listening to classic rock radio, smiling ruefully to myself as the Rolling Stones' Satisfaction drifts from the island. And then the pre-sleep kicker: Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young singing Woodstock with the chorus: We are stardust, we are golden and we've got to get to get ourselves back to the garden. Amen.

A camping gift

Waking the next morning a single thought wisps through my mind: What am I going to do?

I take a deep breath and let myself sink into the unfolding day. I end up getting a wilderness camping gift.

The gift begins when I see that there's a steady flow of fuel drops from a loose valve on my Coleman camping stove - drops that form a deceptively innocuous clear pool. A choice. A damn-the-torpedoes part of me wants to light the stove anyway.

After all, time is of the essence: I'm making coffee. The burner flame probably won't ignite the pool of gas. Alternately, the pool could ignite and with it maybe the fuel canister. I opt to use Site 71's fireplace, a ring of stones atop a flat section of granite on a rise at the water's edge - a simple structure tying me to ancient peoples and their journeys. I collect tinder-dry leaves and pine needles. They ignite instantly followed by the twigs I add. I judiciously fill my pot with just enough water for my coffee. I place the rack low over my little fire so the pot catches most of the heat. To my surprise and joy, the water boils within minutes, using just a handful of twigs.

In my twenties, I used to tell the canoe campers I led that a trip wasn't really a trip until something went wrong and we rose to the occasion. Now a piece of technology had failed and I adapted and found a simple workaround. The solution had been lying near me the whole time.

I use a Christmas-themed oven mitt, adorned with marching penguins, to remove the pot. I make my coffee and take a seat looking out over the water. The experience of making the fire creates a deep calm in me. Things like this matter here. It matters whether the wood's dry. The temperature. When the sun sets. Whether you're cold.

Whether you get your coffee. It's not life and death. Just a little bit of an edge. It's a little edge that makes a big psychic difference for me. I feel more alert. More aware. More alive.

The eternal now

At day's end, I'm lying up on the point's dome, under the arc of a darkening star-dimpled black sky, yellowy campfires dotting the far shoreline.

I'm as solitary as you can be on the August long weekend on a big lake not too far from Canada's capital. My only company is the liquid prattle of burr oak leaves in the wind, the cackle of the crows, the eerie yodel of loons and the over-sized sounds of the ground squirrels, bellowing like chattering Tarzans as each conquered sticky pine cone thuds on the forest floor.

But the wildest sound is the sound of being with myself. This person feels a little like a stranger. I'm wary but intrigued to begin a conversation over coffee.

Outwardly, I'm a six-foot-four, balding guy. Inside, there's a small convention going on: reflections on the loneliness I'd felt as a teenager during my solo trip, now replaced with a deep calm; debate about whether to ask my neighbours to turn down their radio; and most of all a range of emotions that I realized I'd been hungering to hear.

When I'd fallen in love with this place, the thought arose in me that I want to die here. Or at least that this be my final resting place. I'm particularly taken with Tibetan sky burial: leaving the deceased's body, in pieces preferably, to be carried skyward by vultures. The local turkey vultures would be on me in a minute.

My wife squirms whenever I mention this. "Think of something easier," she says. Sitting looking out over the lake, Big Dipper over my left shoulder, I know why Site 71 calls to me.

It's timeless, infinite, the ground cover a mix of spongy brown decay and pale, shining green renewal. It's rooted in the eternal now. And lying here, held between Canadian Shield and the faint Milky Way, so am I.

Jacob Berkowitz is a writer based in Almonte, Ont. His latest book is The Stardust Revolution: The New Story of Our Origin in the Stars.

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Twelve ways to brighten up your fall
As kids get new backpacks, envious adults dust off serious work attire. The Globe's Health Advisors share tips for a healthy transition
Monday, September 1, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L5


If you want your brain to work at full power, you want to manage two things: good fats and an even flow of glucose. Your best bet is to have nuts for breakfast with very low glycemic carbs and fish for lunch. Glucose is the fuel your brain burns but it is the good fats that build the cells in the first place. Most of us have too many carbohydrates in the morning, which pumps glucose to the brain, makes you feel awake but can make you feel foggy as your blood sugar drops after digestion. Don't be tempted by caffeine; it can help briefly but it won't overcome poor cell structure or sugar shots to the head.

Theresa Albert is a registered nutritionist based in Toronto.


You can supercharge your brain with 15 minutes of exercise, so get active right before the most important task that you have to do. Go for a walk before a presentation. Do a few flights of stairs before meeting with your boss to present a new idea. If you need to solve a problem, block off some time to get focused and make sure that you walk, stretch or lift some weights in the hour before you settle in to work on the challenge. It might seem like you're taking too much time away from the task, but the physiological science says that you'll perform better and become healthier at the same time.

Greg Wells is an assistant professor in kinesiology at the University of Toronto and associate scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children.


We're hearing it more and more: Sitting is the new smoking, and more people are "smoking" than ever, thanks to computerbased jobs. When I first retired from competing, I got the closest thing I'd ever had to a desk job. And I noticed it right away.

My mood shifted and I felt lethargic. So, I took control. I made sure I did something active every day, and I also got rid of a chair that made me slouch. I asked myself: Would I ever be a smoker? And when the answer came back as never, I started to look at my desk differently. Then I stood up and stretched.

Gold-medal Olympian Simon Whitfield is the director of sports with the Fantan Group in Victoria.


Not getting enough sleep because of that big project? Feeling moody and tired during the day? Recent scientific studies suggest a bright idea - increase the light in your office. Normal office lighting is only about 300 lux, a unit of illumination brightness equal to one lumen per square metre. Compare that to 3,000 lux outdoors on a cloudy day and 100 lux for indoor light in your living room at night. A sunny day might be 50,000 lux or higher! Studies find that increasing office lighting to 500to-1,000 lux can improve your mood, alertness and thinking ability. If you can't raise your general office lighting, or add windows, you can just use bright desk lamps to optimize the light that gets to your brain.

Dr. Raymond W. Lam is a professor of psychiatry at the University of British Columbia and medical director of the Mood Disorders Clinic at the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health.


Every day, thousands of Canadians experience the repetitive strain of office work. To avoid wrist discomfort, use an open-contoured keyboard with a built-in wrist rest. Avoid compact rectangular keyboards, which keep your hands too close together. To relieve neck pain, every two hours do 10 neck rolls and flex and extend your neck fully 10 times. To avoid shoulder strain, do 10 slow shoulder shrugs, as well as shoulder rolls, forward and backward. Getting eye strain from staring at a monitor all day? Tilt the screen at an angle away from your eyes so the rays don't hit you straight on; use a readable font size and large icons for text and documents.

Dr. Shafiq Qaadri is a Toronto family physician.


It may seem counterintuitive to hardworking employees and their bosses, but napping at work makes good sense. One brief (10-20 minute) nap in the early afternoon boosts alertness, mood and performance. Persuading your employer to have a physical and temporal nap zone will be facilitated by evidence that naps pay off in terms of increased productivity. In the absence of an official workplace nap strategy, you can use the latter part of your lunch break to put your head down for a short snooze. Set the alarm for 20 minutes.

Dr. Judith R. Davidson is a clinical psychologist and sleep researcher at the Kingston Family Health Team and Queen's University in Kingston.


In Mean Girls, Tina Fey asks: "Raise your hand if you have ever been personally victimized by Regina George." All hands go up. Every office has its Regina George. Bullies get their "lift" by putting down others, often with their typical tactic, the e-mail tantrum. Never take this passive-aggressive bait! Cool off then communicate directly. Anger control is a social skill.

Accept that changing this insecure tyrant is unlikely, but know that you can control your emotions and behaviour. Always be professional, courageous - set an example. You can neutralize the bully's toxic impact. (And ... save those e-mails!)

Scott Schieman is a Canada Research Chair (social contexts of health) and professor of sociology at the University of Toronto.


To me, feeling a little uncomfortable is a good sign. It means that I'm out of my comfort zone. When I work out and I feel that my muscles are burning, I've challenged them. They will adapt and grow.

The first time I stood in front of an audience to do a presentation, I was very uncomfortable. But I was learning a new skill. When I travel, I sometimes feel out of place. Well, this is a sign of my horizons expanding. So don't be afraid of a little uneasiness. It's a sign that you are an evolving human being.

Gilles Beaudin is a registered clinical exercise physiologist at Cleveland Clinic Canada.


To perform on demand, I aligned my mental, emotional and physical states. I did this by moving past my nerves and reframing the situation as an opportunity. Failure was not a possibility, which removed the negative stress. Instead, I focused on the thrill of facing the challenge. This allowed me to clear my mind, control nervous energy and go into a state of flow. I am no longer skiing down the moguls, but I still use this technique when I need to perform in challenging situations.

Jennifer Heil is a Montreal-based Olympic gold and silver medalist in freestyle mogul skiing and co-founder of the charity B2ten.


No time to exercise? High-intensity intervals and extreme boot-camp-style workouts are popular, but the demanding pace is not suited for everyone. What about a brief jog instead? A recent study examined the relationship between leisure-time physical activity and mortality in more than 55,000 adults. It found that running even five to 10 minutes a day at a relatively slow pace (less than 10 kilometres an hour) was associated with a markedly reduced risk of dying from many different causes. It seems that even small doses of running, which are below the current minimum guidelines for vigorous-intensity exercise, can help you live longer.

Dr. Martin Gibala is chair of the department of kinesiology at McMaster University in Hamilton.


Gain insight into patterns happening throughout your day using a smartphone app such as eTracker or My Fitness Pal. When clients tell me they feel sluggish or bloated in the afternoon, I encourage them to look back at what they had for lunch (large portions? lack of balance?). Keeping a journal helps you to be mindful of your eating choices and make positive changes. Paper journal versus app? It's your call, but a recent review concluded that apps frequently lead to better changes in intake, and subjects were more likely to "stick with it" compared with other techniques. Either way, studies have shown tracking your intake leads to increased fruit and vegetable consumption and fibre intake as well as helping with weight loss. A study of 175 overweight adults showed that those using a food journal (digital or paper) more frequently lost significantly more weight over a sixmonth period.

Casey Berglund is a registered dietitian and spokesperson for Dietitians of Canada.


If you want to improve your health this fall, simply turn off your phone and pay attention to your child or adolescent. If they are happy, you will be happy and if you are happy your health will be so much better. And the best way to promote resilience in kids is to effectively communicate with them. They need to feel that you are present and that you are fully engaged and actively listening to them. Make it easy and incorporate that time while taking them to school, at the dinner table or at bedtime. This will allow you to focus your energy and attention on your child or teenager and then afterward you can refocus on your work without worrying about them. With the click of an off button, such a simple act can have a huge impact on your family. You will strengthen your bond and will create a relationship based on trust and openness, which in turn will help shape your child's future relationships. "Powering off" will pay off when you see your kid flourish.

Dr. Peter Szatmari is chief of Child and Youth Mental Health Collaborative at SickKids, CAMH and the University of Toronto.

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The best native leader Canada never had
Osoyoos Chief Clarence Louie likes creating jobs, making money and fostering independence. He's also very good at it
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A6

OSOYOOS, B.C. -- The sun beats down on Canada's only desert - sagebrush on the far hills, rattlesnake warnings along the paths - and the luxury resort surrounded by ripening vineyards is packed with summer visitors.

A young blond woman wearing a small dress and large rings moves across the street toward a brand new Range Rover (from $119,990 at your local dealership) but halts suddenly, startled by the thunder of a Harley-Davidson rumbling down the paved approach to the resort.

She steps back and stares, slightly aghast. The motorcycle driver is dark and solid and wears a helmet featuring the face of Sitting Bull, the Lakota chief and holy man whose visions led to the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876 and who was later shot and killed by U.S. Indian agents. The driver calls the motorcycle Crazy Horse, after the Sioux leader who brought down Custer.

The man on the Harley is Clarence Louie, chief of the Osoyoos Band, which owns the Spirit Ridge Resort, the surrounding vineyards, the winery next door and the championship golf course in the distance. He is, in no small part, the creator of the Osoyoos Miracle in the Desert.

"Let us put our minds together," Chief Louie's great hero Sitting Bull once said, "and see what we can make for our children."

Mr. Louie's other great native hero is Billy Diamond, the Canadian First Nations leader who forged the James Bay Agreement in the mid-1970s and brought prosperity and an airline to the Crees of Northern Quebec.

Like Mr. Diamond, who died at the age of 61 four years ago, Mr. Louie may be the best national native leader the country never had - an intriguing thought during a summer in which First Nations leadership has rarely seemed on more uncertain grounds. Mr. Louie has no national ambition despite being only 54.

"I don't really think about Canada," he says. "I've got my hands full with my own issues. A lot of chiefs like travelling - I don't know why. Business travel got boring to me pretty damn quick. I like staying on the 'rez' here. I just like creating jobs and making money."

When first elected chief in 1984, he was paid $250 a month. Today, as chief, he is paid $18,000 a year, though this month's disclosures under the new Transparency Act have him listed at $146,369 for last year. While he agrees with disclosing what taxpayers rightly regard as tax money, he takes serious issue with having to disclose his First Nation's self-generated income: His additional compensation comes from operating as administrator of the successful band and as chief executive officer of the Osoyoos Indian Band Development Corp.

"Once again," he says, "First Nations are being treated like 'wards of the state,' whereby the old 'Indian Agent' mentality still exists. The federal government still feels the need to control and pry into everything (including our privately owned business and privately generated income) and at the same time announces year after year in the Speech from the Throne that First Nations must take their rightful place in Canada's rich economy and compete in the business world."

In a week in which one chief's salary of nearly $1-million created national outrage, the Fraser Institute immediately defended the Osoyoos chief, saying "Louie and his staff are worth every penny and it would be pound-foolish to be upset at his compensation."

Mr. Louie first rose to national attention a decade ago when he was featured in a Globe and Mail column in which he brusquely told an Alberta conference on aboriginal economic development: "My first rule for success is, 'Show up on time.' My No. 2 rule for success is, 'Follow Rule No. 1.'"

His blunt message reverberated throughout First Nations and beyond. "Our ancestors worked for a living," he told the conference, "so should you."

Mr. Louie's own work ethic came from his mother, Lucy, a single mom who raised a half dozen of her own and others' children. He believes there is a fair, if surprising, comparison to be made between isolated Canadian reserves and inner-city America. "Black people are like natives," he says. "They're mostly raised by single moms and most of the people who get in trouble are young men."

While the chief went to university for native studies and is respectful of native culture, there is nothing he believes in as much as discipline. Lucy Louie, still alive and thriving, kept her children in line at home and they learned to work in the vineyards, which then supplied grapes to various wineries. "Summertime wasn't play time," he says. "We started working at 11 or 12 years of age, and at four and five in the morning because there's no shade in the Okanagan. It was good training grounds."

Mr. Louie returned from university to become chief of the band while in his early 20s. He was unprepared, lost an election and then came back with a resolve that transformed the desert around Osoyoos Lake. The band went from poverty, soaring unemployment and bankruptcy to a shining success story, even hiring natives from 36 other bands across the Prairies, B.C. and the territories.

Mr. Louie is quick to note the band's No. 1 advantage - "location, location, location" - but it took far more than luck, climate and proximity to Vancouver to transform Osoyoos. Jake MacDonald, writing in ROB Magazine in May, noted that the band had $26-million in revenue a year ago and posted a net profit of $2.5-million.

The band has used available federal and provincial programs, astute hirings from outside and partnerships to transform its 32,000 acres into a thriving modern community.

Mr. Louie is short on sentimentalism, often politically incorrect - he cheers for the Washington Redskins and Chicago Blackhawks - and has captured the attention of so many other First Nations that he could easily spend half the year on the road giving speeches and business workshops.

"I keep telling government they should concentrate on economic development and then we wouldn't be in this mess. The original treaty relationship was a business relationship. It wasn't a dependency relationship. ... Even at the national level I never hear the national chiefs talk about that. They always talk about poverty. What is all this talk about poverty? You'll never get rid of poverty without jobs. Talk about jobs. Quit talking about poverty."

He says the chief and council should be the first "scorecard" for any band not doing well. But he says responsibility lies beyond the band, including the tribal councils, the regional vice-chiefs and the national leadership - all of whom have highly paid expertise at their disposal.

"Some of those guys get paid pretty damned good," he says. "That is supposed to be your checks and balances, your system. So if a band is really messed up, I go up the line and say, 'You guys mustn't be doing a very good job if one of your family members is really suffering.'"

Mr. Louie always prefers to talk about his own small world over the larger one of Canadian First Nations issues. Some topics he avoids completely: "Pipelines aren't an issue here," he says.

The recent Supreme Court ruling that upheld the Tsilhqot'in title claim regarding logging rights in B.C. is of interest because there is mining and forestry in the Okanagan. "I hope it's not another of those, 'Oh yeah, the natives win but it's really just smoke and mirrors,'" he says. "But at least it's a win, and that's better than a loss."

He also stands strongly behind the need for a better education system for First Nations, but with a caveat: "Once you get beyond the fluff about what education is supposed to do for you - make you a better person, more rounded, all that stuff - it's really about making yourself employable. The more education you get, the better job you're going to get."

No matter the issue, the answer always comes back to the same mantra: jobs, jobs, jobs. While once more conceding that the desert climate of Osoyoos puts his band in a fortuitous position - compared with, say, the troubled Attawapiskat First Nation of Northern Ontario - he says location is "only half the problem."

"The other half of the problem is the leadership focus," the chief believes. "Most bands say, 'We need more money.' And some people say, 'Well, give them more money.' Why give them money? Teach them how to work, how to have a work ethic and how to have them start focusing on the economy. Because if you feed them this week, who's going to feed them next week? You're going to have to keep feeding them."

When Mr. Louie speaks of his dreams for Osoyoos, he is always months, sometimes years down the line. A $200-million provincial prison will be going up near the band's headquarters at Oliver, B.C. Mr. Louie's experience while serving on a federal panel reviewing the operations of correctional services convinced him things could be done differently, so the band bid on and won the project, though it will not run it. Still, the prison will mean more jobs - and, he hopes, lead toward new approaches. Then there is the hobby racetrack, a new idea that is itself racing along as the Osoyoos band is convinced it can attract a rich clientele that prefers Lamborghinis to Land Rovers and might like to live out their Formula One fantasies.

The day done, Mr. Louie straps his Sitting Bull helmet tight, fires up the Harley and heads down the road toward the band office. There he will collect his truck, parked beneath the band sign that contains the same quote that runs along his truck's bumper.

"Native people have always worked for a living."

Friday, August 22, 2014

Jens Voigt, the German cyclist legendary for his masochistic brand of racing, retires at 42, Oliver Moore writes
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

Jens Voigt said the pain kept him young. But not even the legendary hard-man of pro cycling could suffer enough to ward off the effects of time.

Less than a month before his 43rd birthday - a milestone by which most cyclists have long since retired and gained weight - the hugely popular rider is finally calling it quits with a U.S. stage race that ends on Sunday.

The decision was expected but still had the power to sadden his legions of fans. No longer will races be enlivened by the German's self-punishing aggression and willingness to ride himself into the ground. Never again will spectators hear him bark "shut up, legs!" - which became his catch-phrase and the name of several cycling clubs.

"My body and my head go, 'listen, this is the last, we give you everything we have, you've squeezed everything out of us and we can't do it anymore,'" Voigt said in an interview.

Aging amateur cyclists everywhere are losing a source of inspiration. Fans who romanticize pros able to ride through the pain are losing one of the toughest of recent years. And top-level sport is losing a rare class act.

As the sport reeled through years of drug scandals - Voigt never tested positive and insists he "did not ever" dope - he was a journeyman whose grit made him a star.

Neither a sprinter nor a top mountain climber, he specialized in launching long attacks, often riding solo for hours while the pack chased after him. He would almost always be caught before the finish line, but he rode with the sort of panache and self-sacrifice that fans loved.

"I think they'd rather see me dying in a beautiful way in a breakaway than hanging on and being clever and super-smart and beat someone in the last 50 metres," Voigt said. "No, you would rather see me go out there for 50 kilometres or 100 kilometres and get caught in the last mile and you go, "Man, he put everything on the line.' " Fans traded stories about his exploits on the road, each more unbelievable than the last.

There was the time he crashed hard, passing out for several minutes and suffering a concussion and broken cheekbone. He called it "very lucky not getting severely hurt." Or the time he raced about 20 kilometres on a youth's bike after wrecking his own in another bad crash. "I was suffering and bleeding, but optimistic about my chances of finishing the Tour [de France]," was how he characterized it. "There were only four stages left, and dropping out would have killed me."

In a lengthy phone interview from Colorado on the eve of Voigt's last race, the seven-day USA Pro Challenge, he described his determination to leave everything on the road. The Trek Factory Racing rider spoke about his deep appreciation of the fans and revealed his belief that some younger riders don't have the necessary work ethic. And although he peppered the conversation with the slightly offbeat humour for which he is known, he also admitted his fears about the future.

"I'm happy that the sacrificing, the hard training, the travel, the time being away from the family is going to stop," Voigt said. "So I'm happy, I'm glad about that.

But I'm also terrified. Frightened.

Because, I mean, in my whole adult life cycling was the most consistent thing I ever did."

Voigt, who is finishing his 18th year as a professional, started riding the Tour de France before Lance Armstrong first pulled on a yellow jersey. This year the father of six competed against some people young enough to be his children. He is the oldest Tour racer since the war. And he was the oldest man in the race's history to wear the King of the Mountains jersey (albeit briefly), as top climber.

Over the years he rode in support of some of the biggest names in cycling, but wasn't a team leader and never had a chance of winning the sport's marquee race. He notched solo victories on only two of the hundreds of Tour de France stages he started. But just as a scoreless soccer match can rivet fans, Voigt's ability and appeal cannot be measured just by how he placed.

His willingness to suffer - a trait many cycling devotees respect more than mere victory - has become legendary.

"He will attack as soon as the flag drops ... because he has this enormous appetite to keep on racing," veteran cycling commentator Phil Liggett said in a 2013 phone interview from London.

"He never stops racing. And they're the most difficult racers to counter, because they never give up. He doesn't listen to his body."

Canadian national time trial and road race champion Svein Tuft, who wore the leader's jersey for a day at this year's Giro d'Italia, said he had "a huge amount of respect" for the German rider.

"I mean, he just gives everything," the British Columbia native, who rides for the OricaGreenEdge team, said from his home in Andorra. "A guy like that has so much experience that, for sure, if you're in a breakaway with him you're going to definitely be doing the right thing."

Rolston Miller, who rides with and races at the masters level for the Toronto-area Morning Glory Cycling Club, said watching someone like Voigt "suffer, crack, break and then to do it again the next day all over again" is an inspiration.

"The solo break or the small break, it's ... one of the most glorious ways to win a bike race," he said. "It's pretty damn impressive in my mind. You might say maybe we're masochistic for enjoying that, maybe it's some kind of weird form of athletic schadenfreude, the enjoyment of watching others suffer. Like, I feel bad for the guy but I love watching him do it, I love watching him grit his face. And when they do pull it off it's exhilarating, those are some of the best events."

Voigt was determined not to leave the sport "as a washed-up pro" and wanted to race hard until the end. So he kept attacking. In a typical move, he helped form a breakaway group on the second-to-last day of the 2013 Tour de France and then rode away from them with 60 kilometres to go.

Fans knew the move had little hope but still mourned when he was caught barely eight kilometres from that day's mountaintop finish. He ultimately came 32nd on a stage won by rookie Nairo Quintana, a Colombian climbing phenom barely half his age.

"There were moments when I actually thought he could do it," Liggett said. "That was a brilliant day and he was riding almost like I've never seen him before. He rode himself almost to a standstill."

It was days like these that inspired a Chuck Norris-style tribute Twitter account, where wags contribute accolades such as "For breakfast Jens Voigt adds cobblestones to his muesli." Other fan appreciations abound online. In one extreme case, a woman posted an essay called, "I Love My Husband, But Jens Voigt May Be The Coolest Man Alive."

Liggett, who as commentator has seen Voigt race for years, said the German helped his popularity with his gutsy attacking and his quickness with a joke. For Voigt, in spite of his aggression on the bike, is affably plain-spoken when off it.

He gives thoughtful answers in interviews, responds on social media to fans seeking advice about training and equipment, and says he once turned back in a race to shame a man who had snatched a water bottle Voigt tried to give to a child. In 2005, he agreed to take a blind fan out for a ride on a racing tandem and then, according to, invited the man and his wife home for Christmas cookies.

"What would we be without the fans?" he said rhetorically in our pre-Colorado interview. "They're more important than me, because they make our sport great, they make things happen.

We put on the show, but if people don't react to it we are nothing.

So, the fans, basically we should roll out the red carpet for them."

Fans have seen older cyclists score strong results in the last few years. Among them, then 41-yearold Chris Horner won the 2013 Vuelta a Espana and 37-year-old Jean-Christophe Péraud came second in this year's Tour de France. According to Voigt, older riders can handle suffering with greater maturity than some of the younger generation.

Determination can take you only so far, though. In recent years, Voigt would wake up hurting and be keen to quit. Then fan support would make him want to keep racing. But he knew he was slowing down and worried about pushing his luck.

"I don't want to have that one year too much where people actually behind my back start smiling at me and pointing fingers at me and go, 'Ah, look, that's Jensie, no, he's not good anymore,' " he said.

Voigt, who will continue to work with the team, made clear there will be no comeback.

"I'm going to put a big chain on my bike, lock it away and watch cobwebs grow on it," he said.

"I might go on the bike later ... but I'm not going to suffer anymore. I'm not going to do five hours. I'm going to do one hour, easy, in the sunshine, riding my bike to the next ice cream shop."

Follow me on Twitter:@moore_oliver

Associated Graphic

Jens Voigt prepares for the People's Choice Classic on Jan. 19. He spent 18 years as a professional cyclist.


With few hits in foreign-policy initiatives, Obama's time to deliver is running out
In 2009, the U.S. President rode in on a wave of hope to restore his country's reputation on the world stage. But since then, as the world lurches from crisis to crisis, Barack Obama's apparent aversion to risk has come back to haunt him, Paul Koring writes
Tuesday, August 19, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A6

WASHINGTON -- In the U.S. President's own succinct, if off-colour, phrase, the Obama doctrine is: "Don't do stupid shit."

Barack Obama has, in recent months, repeatedly used that vulgarism to define, defend and explain his foreign policy. And despite well-intentioned efforts by some media to sanitize the President's foul-mouthed version - usually by rephrasing it as "Don't do stupid stuff" - Mr. Obama, who first used the line with reporters on board Air Force One last spring as he returned from Asia, has repeatedly opted for the cruder version in subsequent interviews.

Unlike Theodore Roosevelt's much-admired "Speak softly and carry a big stick" - the phrase that became emblematic of foreign policy as the United States emerged as a superpower at the dawn of the 20th century - Mr.

Obama's crude dictum seems unlikely to be embraced by his successors or carved into the cornerstone of his presidential library.

Yet there's more than a trace of truth in the President's self-assessment, at least in terms of the realities of how Mr. Obama has performed on the world stage.

The President, who pocketed a Nobel Peace Prize within weeks of reaching the Oval Office, has little to show in terms of foreignpolicy successes after nearly six years in the White House.

His critics accuse him of hesitancy and mixed messages that have diminished U.S. power and emboldened the country's adversaries.

It's a way to "avoid errors," Mr. Obama claimed on his previous big overseas trip to Asia. "You hit singles, you hit doubles; every once in a while we may be able to hit a home run." It's a far cry from the soaring oratory about ridding the world of nuclear weapons or delivering a new era in relations with the Muslim world or the pivot to the Pacific, all big sweeping visions unveiled by Mr. Obama at various stages of his presidency that have since been quietly discarded or downgraded.

Even his staunchest supporters find the "small ball" approach perplexing.

"Great nations need organizing principles, and 'Don't do stupid stuff' is not an organizing principle," Hillary Clinton, who served as secretary of state during Mr. Obama's first term, said last week.

Ms. Clinton evidently has decided to distance herself from Mr. Obama as she considers another presidential run in 2016. In an interview with The Atlantic, she made a half-hearted attempt to explain that the President was "trying to communicate to the American people that he's not going to do something crazy."

But Americans seem less worried that Mr. Obama is going off the deep end than they are just broadly disappointed with his presidency. The soaring "audacity of hope" has been replaced by the reality of ill-defined policy and uncertain action.

Sagging approval rating

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted earlier this month put the President's approval rating at an all-time low of 40 per cent. On coping with the world, it was even worse: When asked whether they approved of "the job Barack Obama is doing handling foreign policy," the rating sagged to 36 per cent.

That came with the world beset with crises: with Israeli warplanes pounding Gaza; a violent separatist insurrection threatening to spiral out of control in Ukraine; Beijing bullying its weaker, smaller neighbours in the South China Sea; an Ebola outbreak raging in West Africa; and the extremist Islamic State jihadis carving out a proto-caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

Mr. Obama hasn't even hit many singles.

His boldest first-term foray into foreign affairs - toppling Libya's bizarre and brutal dictator Moammar Gadhafi with a sevenmonth bombing campaign billed as a no-fly zone enforced by NATO - looked impressive at first, but Libya has since collapsed into simmering civil war.

Even Mr. Obama admits he failed to follow-up after the air war. "We underestimated ... the need to come in full-force," he told The New York Times. "It's the day after Gadhafi's gone, when everyone's feeling good and everybody's holding up posters saying, 'Thank you America,' at that moment there has to be a much more aggressive effort to rebuild societies that didn't have any civic traditions."

In Syria, where Mr. Obama first boldly drew a red line threatening air strikes then quickly abandoned it, the bloody toll after three years of civil war has topped 160,000. After backing down when Syria's dictator Bashar al-Assad refused to be cowed by the President's sabre-rattling, Mr. Obama had to seek help from Russia's President Vladimir Putin in a face-saving deal that left Mr. al-Assad in power.

Hesitancy has a price.

Failure to back Syrian rebels early and effectively gave the Islamist extremists now rampaging across western and northern Iraq the opportunity to emerge as a potent political and fighting force. The hesitancy to arm and support rebels in Syria "left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled," Ms. Clinton says.

Mr. Putin then outfoxed Mr. Obama in Crimea with the boldest land grab since the Cold War, restoring to Russia the Black Sea peninsula that had been given to Ukraine 60 years earlier.

Despite Washington slapping sanctions on some of Mr. Putin's rich and powerful buddies, Moscow continues to meddle in eastern Ukraine and Mr. Obama has failed to lead a concerted effort sufficiently strong to deter the Russian President.

Meanwhile relations with Israel - not least because of Mr. Obama's decision to open direct talks with the ruling mullahs in Iran about Tehran's secretive and controversial nuclear program - are at a nadir. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mr. Obama make little effort to disguise mutual disdain.

The President, perhaps seeking to turn away from violence, chaos and failure in the Middle East, two years ago loftily unveiled the Pacific pivot - a rebalancing of U.S. priorities in recognition of Asia's growing power in the 21st century. Since then, little of substance has emerged to match the rhetoric and Mr. Obama didn't even mention the pivot in his latest major foreign-policy speech to West Point cadets in June. Aside from finger-wagging at Beijing, Mr. Obama has largely left U.S. allies to fend for themselves as China bullies smaller countries in the South China Sea.

'A mixed record'

On some fronts, Mr. Obama has gone further than any previous president. The use of drone strikes to target and kill designated "enemies" - on lists kept top secret - has ranged far from established battlefields. Since Mr. Obama took office, more than 400 drone attacks killing at least 2,500 have been recorded in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. And Mr. Obama was the first president to explicitly authorize an assassination strike against a U.S. citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed by a Hellfire missile fired from a Predator drone over Yemen.

"The President has made some tough decisions," said Leon Panetta, who served in the Obama administration as director of the Central Intelligence Agency and also as defence secretary.

"But it's been a mixed record, and the concern is the President defining what America's role in the world is in the 21st century hasn't happened."

Even some of Mr. Obama's proudest moments are coming back to haunt him.

The Iraq war that he denounced as stupid and vowed to end - a promise that played a major role in his initial campaign for the presidency - is on again.

Mr. Obama's triumphal claim about "this moment of success" made when he pulled the last U.S. combat troops from Iraq three years ago now looks a bit hollow. "We're leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people," he said then.

Now, U.S. warplanes are again pounding targets in Iraq, hundreds of U.S. Special Forces have been sent back there, the central government in Baghdad is impotent and the Iraqi military that cost the United States hundreds of millions of dollars to arm and train has degenerated into a largely sectarian Shia force that broke and fled rather than defend non-Shia areas.

The President has also set a fixed exit date for pulling all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, where the "good" war - according to Mr. Obama and in contrast to Iraq - is now in its 13th year. "We will bring America's longest war to a responsible end," Mr. Obama said when he announced the last U.S. troops will be out by December, 2015, less than a month before he leaves the White House. But that was before the Afghan presidential elections descended into acrimonious deadlock and the first U.S. general to die in a war zone was killed there earlier this month.

More than six years ago, on the day he nailed down his party's presidential nomination, Mr. Obama proffered a glimpse of the future, of how he would change the world. "I am absolutely certain," he said then, "that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth."

Nearly halfway through his final four years in the White House, Mr. Obama is running out of time to deliver.

Associated Graphic


China broadens crackdown on foreign missionaries
Monday, August 25, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A1

SEOUL -- Paul Yoo at first thought the text was a joke, or perhaps spam. "Chinese secrets are like the heavens and the big mountains. Do not reveal or talk about them," read the cryptic message.

It sounded like a poem, although not one Mr. Yoo or his friends had ever heard of. He was prepared to laugh it off, until he discovered that no one else had received the same message.

"That's when I realized something was going to happen," he said.

A week later, police arrived at his door in the northeastern Chinese city where Mr. Yoo, a South Korean missionary, had lived untroubled by authorities for years in a country where proselytizing by foreigners is, officially, illegal.

China is turning a blind eye no longer. The knock on Mr. Yoo's door two years ago marked the beginning of a quiet forced evacuation of foreign missionaries, including hundreds of South Koreans, some of whom have worked to train and convert Chinese, and others who have helped Christian defectors from North Korea.

Those who remain live in mounting fear that they will be next, as China's new president Xi Jinping seeks to rid the country of foreign influences and effectively nationalize Christian churches to bring them under state control.

"This crackdown, and the people being deported, has intensified starting from May," said Rev. Peter Jung, director of Justice For North Korea, which supports North Korean defectors. And, he said, "the number of missionaries getting arrested has increased."

The eviction of missionaries is in some ways a mark of China's own perceived global strength, as an increasingly confident Beijing seeks to define China, an atheist state with government-run churches, on its own terms. Yet it also threatens to revive a point of conflict between China and Western nations, which have long criticized the Communist country for its refusal to allow free pursuit of religion.

Conditions in China have never been easy for foreign missionaries, and most try to keep a low profile. They work for so many different organizations and denominations that numbers are hard to come by. But from interviews with nearly a dozen former and active missionaries, experts and academics it's clear at least hundreds - perhaps nearly 1,000 - have been forced out of China.

In early 2013, at the peak, China was home to some 2,000 to 4,000 missionaries from South Korea alone; U.S. missionaries made up large numbers as well.

The forced departures form the background to the detention a little more than two weeks ago of Kevin and Julia Garratt, a Canadian Christian couple who had run a coffee shop in Dandong, a Chinese city on the North Korean border. Chinese authorities have accused them of stealing state secrets, but said little about what they have done wrong. Canadian officials believe their detention is likely China's response to allegations of Chinese espionage in North America, including by a Canadian immigrant who is accused of co-ordinating hacking attacks to steal U.S. fighter jet secrets.

Yet the Garratts also stood at a dangerous nexus of issues that stir Chinese suspicion, by virtue of their personal faith, their humanitarian work with North Korea and the donations from Canadian churchgoers that supported them. That background almost certainly attracted the attention of authorities, though it may not be the primary reason for the couple's detention.

'It's extremely sensitive'

China is North Korea's closest ally, but the two nuclear powers still operate with great mutual suspicion, and the Garratts live in a place that is the focus of intense Chinese military and intelligence scrutiny. Some of that is directed at Christian missionaries who play a critical role in the underground railroad that secrets North Korean defectors out of China.

"If you are a North Korean in China, the only place where you can realistically be given food and shelter is a church," said Andrei Lankov, a Russian scholar and expert on North Korea. Often, that means the involvement of missionaries, who "actively proselytize among the North Korean refugees," and train them in spreading Christianity inside North Korea.

The Chinese pressure on missionaries, however, extends far beyond the North Korean border, suggesting Beijing's chief motivation is concern about religion.

"One of the aims of Xi Jinping's policies is to get rid of all missionaries by 2017," said one missionary who continues to work in northeastern China.

Such a claim is impossible to verify. Mr. Xi, the Chinese president, has publicly said no such thing. But fears in the missionary community of a coming clean sweep offer a window into the degree of alarm that has spread.

The missionary asked The Globe to reveal no potentially identifying details, including his age or nationality, how much time he and his wife have spent in China or the nature of their work there.

"It's extremely sensitive. A tiny little clue could identify us and get us kicked out," said the missionary's wife, who travels to China separately from her husband in case one of them is detained.

Mr. Xi's presidency has already coincided with powerful new campaigns to curb groups that could challenge the power of the Communist Party. Human-rights lawyers have been jailed and mercilessly tortured. (Last week, one lawyer, Gao Zhisheng, was released from prison mentally "utterly destroyed. He can barely talk," activists said.) Bloggers have been threatened with strict new punishment for "spreading rumours."

Underground churches, which Beijing sees as co-ordinated groups with the potential to organize political resistance, have been torn down. And missionaries, who represent a direct foreign influence on Chinese citizens, have been ejected.

The departures have happened quietly, often mandated by authorities who refuse to renew visas, a tactic also used to kick out journalists. Some missionaries accustomed to one-year stays are now being offered threemonth visas that place them in constant uncertainty.

'Government wants control'

Many, like Mr. Yoo, face probing and uncomfortable questions. The police officers who questioned him at his home wanted to know what he did every day, the source of his income, what he had done in South Korea before he came to China and how he was educating his children.

He said he avoided referring to "church" in his answers but had no doubt that authorities knew the truth. Months later, he took his wife and two children to Canada in hopes things would cool down.

Earlier this month, they headed back to Seoul where they hoped to secure a new Chinese visa.

Their flight took them through China, but they had new passports, with fresh numbers and pages clear of evidence they had been in the country before.

It didn't matter. Their names raised flags at immigration and the entire family was sent into a side room for questioning. Mr. Yoo and his wife were ordered to sit for mug-shot style photographs. Then, shortly before their plane to Seoul departed, they were released. An officer accompanied them to the door of the aircraft.

It was never said outright, but they were left certain they were no longer welcome in China.

"When they were taking pictures like I was a criminal, I felt I was being deported, for sure," Mr. Yoo said in Seoul, where he is now living with parents, without a home and unsure of what his future holds.

Mr. Yoo decided to be a missionary when he was barely out of high school. "I get so excited just breathing the air in China and meeting people there," he said.

He cried as his plane took off the last time from Beijing.

"I started praying, 'God, please forgive China. This is a land that needs healing. Christian work needs to be done.' " China has said little about what is happening with its Christians.

The State Administration for Religious Affairs and the country's Foreign Ministry did not respond to faxed requests for comment. In May, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei, in one of the few official Chinese statements, said "the Chinese government earnestly protects the rights of Chinese citizens including safeguarding their freedom of religious beliefs."

In South Korea, a former missionary who asked to be called Brother Paul said he believes China is evicting missionaries amid a renewed campaign to require Chinese Christians to worship only in government-run churches. Those churches can be useful to Beijing in doing the state's job, easing social tensions and solving social inequalities through good works.

China wants its religious people "registered, because government wants control," Brother Paul said.

He asked that his full name not be used because he has, for a decade, met regularly with Chinese authorities who have studied the role Christians have played in shaping South Korea. Of China's estimated 50 million to 100 million Christians, only 21 million attend official churches.

In an interview, Bishop John Fang Xingyao, chairman of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association - a state-sanctioned organization - described the official view of the church. It is a vision of Christianity as an organ of the Communist Party, not the haven of spirituality sought by missionaries and the underground churches with which they work.

Church, Mr. Fang said, "plays a role in maintaining social stability," he said. "Generally speaking, the crime rate among believers is much less than among non-believers."

Associated Graphic

A bible rests on a bicycle at an underground church, some of which are run by foreign missionaries, in Tianjin, China.


Christians in Tianjin, China pray at an underground church; authorities fear religious organizations have the potential to organize political resistance.

Artist became lifeblood of Victoria gallery
Inexhaustible maker and appreciator of art gave 'transformative' donation to support B.C. institution
Wednesday, August 27, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S6

VANCOUVER -- A meticulous and prolific artist, Anthony Thorn produced nearly 1,300 works over his career - which took him from Canada to France, Mexico, Greece, the United States and Japan - and in the final months of his life, he made a decision that will have a lasting impact on Victoria, his last home.

Generous with his ideas, Mr. Thorn was always eager to discuss technique, form and approach in tête-à-têtes about his craft. He loved to smoke and never gave it up. As he thoughtfully discussed his work in his bookstuffed home, he would burn through multiple cigarettes, often distracted by the topic at hand.

"He ... would slowly take a cigarette out of the package, he would light a match and then he would start talking. And then you'd be listening to him talk, but you'd be looking at the flame on the match as it got closer and closer to his fingers, worried that he would burn himself," recalls Jon Tupper, director of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. "Of course he never did. And then he would continue with this florid talk that he had: a measured way of speaking, and very colourful."

Knowing death was approaching, Mr. Thorn was eager to divest himself of his library, inviting those close to him to take what they liked. His books smelled of smoke, and it was that fact and a precious gift years ago - a valuable first U.S. edition of James Joyce's Finnegans Wake - that inspired a work of art made for Mr. Thorn by his friend Robert Amos.

Mr. Amos, an art writer who is also an artist, painted a passage from Finnegans Wake: "And the stellas were shinings," it began, ending with, "O dulcid dreamings languidous! Taboccoo!" Knowing how Mr. Thorn loved gold in his work, Mr. Amos finished it with some gold paint.

Mr. Thorn hung it in his studio.

"But I could tell that he thought the idea of gold paint was debased and what I needed was gold leaf," Mr. Amos recalls. And so began a series of discussions and in-depth lessons into the proper application of gold leaf, the gifting of appropriate materials and tools by Mr. Thorn so Mr. Amos could make the "suggested" alterations, and then, once that was done, recommendations for additional modifications to the work. It was passed back and forth as the months-long tutorial continued.

"He was in love with technique ... His practice was really profound and serious," says Mr. Amos, with whom Mr. Thorn had begun a correspondence after Mr. Amos wrote an insightful review of an exhibition of his work in 1990. Art remained a foundation for their years-long friendship.

"We shared a lot of sympathies.

I'm not a fussy, persnickety, hermetic spiritualist like him; I'm not that person at all," says the art-critic-turned-friend. "But he recognized that I understood where he was coming from; I understood the practicalities of working as an artist and the frame of reference in literature.

And I liked him. And these were enough things to bring us together."

Anthony (Tony, to his friends) Thorn - inexhaustible maker and appreciator of art, voracious collector and reader of books, unregenerate smoker until the end - died July 24 from bladder cancer.

He was 87.

He was born Arthur Goldman on March 8, 1927, in Regina, the son of Dorothy and Leon Goldman, clothing-store owners who were dedicated and generous philanthropists. (They died a year apart in the 1990s.) He adopted the pseudonym Anthony Thorn when he began publishing poetry in the university newspaper - to spare his prominent family possible embarrassment, according to Mr. Amos.

He began to paint in his early 20s, studying in Regina, Chicago and at the Banff Centre, and - beginning in 1953 - at the Centre d'Art Sacré in Paris, which focused on applied art for churches.

"Sounds like a bit of a stretch for a Jewish boy from Regina," says Mr. Amos, "but the applied arts were the underpinnings of everything he did."

Not a traditionally observant man, religion and spirituality did figure prominently in his work and in his life. His art was infused with faith, sometimes subtly (you can see the influence of his Parisian study of stained glass in some work) and sometimes overtly - as in his painting Kaddish; a plaque for which he cast the Hebrew letter aleph in gilded bronze; or his carved and gilded shofar - a ceremonial Jewish instrument, made from a ram's horn. He painted church murals and read the Koran twice, he told Mr. Amos.

He also studied in Mexico, Greece and Japan (he was strongly influenced by Japanese art).

During his years living in Toronto, he made, exhibited and sold oils. In 1980, he and his wife, Jacqueline Goldman, moved to Victoria from Thunder Bay, where Mr. Thorn had taught at Lakehead University. In Victoria, his practice expanded to focus on works he called wall jewels, intricate small-scale treasures that incorporated gilding, carving, miniature sculpture and calligraphy, using a variety of materials including, of course, gold.

The couple's first apartment was a few blocks from the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, and on his first visit to the gallery, Mr. Thorn was welcomed personally by then-director Pat Bovey, "who made me feel that I might become a good addition to the artistic community here," Mr. Thorn wrote in a fax to The Globe and Mail in January. (He did not use e-mail, and a telephone interview was not possible because of his hearing problems, so he responded to questions by fax.)

He never forgot that warm welcome. When he read an article in the local newspaper last year about the gallery's decision to stay put and expand rather than try to find a new, more central location - as it had been trying to do for decades - Mr. Thorn reached out to Mr. Tupper through the AGGV's Asian art curator Barry Till, whom Mr. Thorn knew. The three met in Mr. Thorn's modest Oak Bay home - he was ill by then and had trouble leaving the house. Mr. Thorn recalled Mr. Bovey's warm 1980 welcome, ruminated on his own parents' generosity and offered a large donation.

"I am a childless widower," he explained to The Globe when the donation was to be made public.

(Ms. Goldman, to whom he had been married for 50 years, died last year.) "I had often spoken with my sister about my fondness for the gallery ... One time, she said, 'Wouldn't it be nice if you were to give the gallery a million dollars, if you had the means to do it?' " His donation, made possible by transferring his shares in a family company, which owned an apartment building in Regina, amounted to $2.67-million, the largest monetary gift in the AGGV's history.

"Because we're a smaller institution, it means a hell of a lot. It's transformative for us," Mr. Tupper says. "Anthony wasn't a rich man. He had this one thing and he gave it to the gallery and it's going to make a big huge difference for us ... We can actually achieve our dreams to transform this place from an interesting - but somewhat dishevelled - regional gallery into something much more substantive; something that reflects the capital city of British Columbia."

Mr. Thorn made the donation in memory of his wife, but did not ask for any permanent naming recognition at the AGGV. He called the gallery an important component of a civilized city, which "gives the inhabitants a wealth of experience and enjoyment," he wrote to The Globe. "I am one of those who value it, wish to add to it. I am grateful to be living and working here and as my upbringing has formed me to not be a parasite but a participant in the culture I live in, I do so.

"It will be for those who come after me an even greater treasure."

Mr. Thorn knew his death was imminent. A final art show was organized, but he was too ill to attend the opening. In increasing pain these past few months, he was ready for the end. There was a do-not-resuscitate notice posted on his refrigerator door; when he could no longer make it down the hall to work under the skylight in his studio, he did not want to continue living, says Mr. Amos, who curated that final show.

Shortly before his death, Mr. Thorn told Mr. Amos: "'When the Angel of Death makes his presence known to me I'll just put on my prayer shawl and pick up my shofar and blow that horn.' I took that as a kind of metaphorical thing, but as the conversation went on, I realized he was in deadly earnest," Mr. Amos recalls. "He was intending when he felt that death was coming upon him that he would blow the horn and give himself into the arms of whatever comes next."

Mr. Thorn leaves his sisters, Lyn Goldman and Barbara Gleiberman, other family, friends and patrons, and his caregivers Stella Daniels and Flor Albuleras.

To submit an I Remember:

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

Associated Graphic

Anthony Thorn's art was infused with faith, sometimes subtly and sometimes overtly.


Thursday, August 28, 2014


Patricia Bovey, the former director of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, was incorrectly described on Wednesday as "Mr. Bovey" on second reference, in an obituary article about the artist Anthony Thorn.

Five ingredients, 25 meals. That's right: This year you are going to crush the lunchbox. The power is in your pantry
Special to The Globe and Mail
Wednesday, August 27, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1

Kids think they have it rough?

As lunchboxes are acquired or unearthed across the country, I think it's possible to hear the collective groan from parents getting ready to face the demands of yet another school year.

Somehow, the simple task of packing a midday meal turns excruciating when you know you're going to have to keep it up for 10 long months.

Time for some serious inspiration. Introducing the Magic Five - a handful of versatile ingredients that you can cut, cook and coax into 25 different lunch ideas, whether you're feeding a culinary ascetic or a budding gourmand. Or even - who knew? - yourself.

Lunches to beat everyone's back-to-school blues

= ready in 10 minutes or less


Unassuming and mild, navy beans pack a nutritious punch. These recipes call for a 19 oz can, drained and rinsed, and each will make enough for at least two lunches:

Hummus* - Purée beans with the juice of half a lemon, a few glugs of olive oil, half a clove of garlic, salt, pepper and 1/2 tsp smoked paprika. Send as a dip with sliced veggies, or use as a sandwich spread.

Lunchbox chili - Chop a green onion, a carrot and a celery stalk and sauté in a saucepan with 2 tsp vegetable oil. Season with 1/2 tsp each paprika, cumin and oregano. Add beans and 1/2 cup chicken stock. Simmer until thick, mashing some of the beans with the back of a fork. Transfer to a pre-heated Thermos. If you triple the recipe, you'll have dinner, too.

Crostini* - Purée beans with 1/2 cup drained artichoke hearts, 1/2 cup goat cheese and a few glugs of olive oil. Season to taste. Send with baguette slices and cut veggies.

Crispy beans with pancetta - Cut a few slices of pancetta into small cubes (about /4 cup). Heat on low in a saucepan until fat 1 starts to melt. Add beans. Sauté for 10 minutes. Add a handful of fresh spinach (if your child will allow), and pack in a warmed Thermos.

Bean salad* - Combine beans with 1 cup shelled edamame and finely diced red pepper. Make a dressing of 1 tbsp tamari soy sauce, 2 tsp vegetable oil, 1 tsp sesame oil and a squeeze of lime juice. Toss beans with dressing until well coated and pack in a leak-proof container.


Everybody's favourite cruciferous vegetable happens to be a source of many vitamins and minerals, and turns out to be amazingly versatile.

Fresh salad* - Dress 1 cup cauliflower florets and 1/2 cup sliced carrots with 1 tbsp olive oil and 2 tsp white vinegar and fresh herbs like thyme or chive, if your child will tolerate.

Mac 'n' cheese - Cook 1 cup each spiral pasta and cauliflower florets in the same pot of boiling salted water. Drain. Transfer pasta and vegetables to a dish and while still hot add 1 tbsp milk and 1 cup shredded cheese. Mix well. Transfer immediately to a warmed Thermos. Top with crumbled potato chips.

For the next two recipes, roast cauliflower by separating pieces into florets and spreading on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook at 400 F until golden, about 20 minutes. Then make:

Roasted cauliflower soup - Combine 2 cups roasted cauliflower with a diced onion and sauté until fragrant. Add 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock and simmer 10 minutes. Add 1/2 cup light cream. Purée coarsely and send in a warmed Thermos. Makes a few servings.

Roasted cauliflower pasta - Combine 1 cup roasted cauliflower with 1 cup cooked pasta and a spoonful of water in a microwave-safe bowl. Add 1/2 cup chick peas and a handful of sliced olives or sundried tomatoes. Warm for 50 seconds and sprinkle with Parmesan or pecorino cheese. Send warm or cold.

Crispy steakettes* - Separate a large branch of cauliflower and slice through the centre into 3 or 4 "steaks." Dip each one in a beaten egg thinned with a little water, then in seasoned bread crumbs. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a non-stick pan and fry 3 minutes per side or until golden brown. Wrap in paper towel and send in a crushproof container.


What could be more predictable in a lunchbox, right? But have you tried:

Grilled cheese* - Spread the outside of two slices of bread with butter and lay havarti or cheddar cheese inside. Toast in a hot pan until golden. Cool slightly. Slice a quarter of a Granny Smith apple thinly and insert slices into sandwich.

Slaw - Cut half a Granny Smith apple into thin batons. Combine with 1/4 cup each mango and celery cut the same way. Season with the juice of a lime, 1/4 tsp sugar and a pinch of salt, mixing well.

Applesauce - Peel, core and slice 2 or 3 McIntosh apples and slide into a saucepan. Add 1/2 cup water, 1/3 cup sugar, a generous squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of cinnamon. Cook for 20 minutes or until apples fall apart. Send as a dessert or with yogurt and granola as a main. (Makes a few servings.)

Dried apple snacks - Slice several Granny Smith or Cortland apples and transfer to a shallow bath of water acidulated with the juice of a lemon. After a minute, dry lightly and spread out in a single layer on baking sheet(s). Dry in an oven set to about 140 F for 3-4 hours, turning halfway through, until apples are dry but still pliable. Will keep in airtight containers for months.

California bagel and cream cheese* - Spread a sesame bagel with cream cheese. Add thinly sliced Granny Smith apple and cucumber, along with alfalfa sprouts.


Yes, plain chicken seems ordinary enough, but oh, the places you can go! Consider:

Cold chicken "fondue"* - Cut cooked chicken into cubes and send with a variety of dipping sauces - BBQ, ranch, spicy mayo - and a long-handled fork.

Chicken and salami club* - Microwave a few slices of salami on high for 30 seconds to crisp. Blot away fat. Spread toasted bread with mayo and add sliced chicken and salami, lettuce and tomato. Cut on the diagonal and stick with a toothpick to hold together.

Quesadilla* - In a small saucepan warm a tortilla sprinkled with 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella. Add 1/3 cup cooked chicken and a few dashes hot sauce, as well as a few pieces of slivered red pepper. Close with a second tortilla and cook briefly on second side. Cut into quarters.

Crunchy chicken burger* - Make a spicy mayo by mixing 1 tbsp mayonnaise with 2 tsp Frank's Hot Sauce. Spread on a hamburger bun. Add half a chicken breast, sliced cucumbers and thin celery sticks. Close with top of bun and send a few potato chips to be added just before eating.

Sweet and crunchy chicken salad* - Combine 3/4 cup cooked chicken cubes with 1/4 of a Granny Smith apple, cubed, 6 or 7 sliced grapes, 1 tbsp mayo and 1 tsp cider vinegar or lemon juice. Mix well, adding a small handful of corn nuts, and pack into mini pita pockets.


Not only good for us, quinoa is, amazingly, well liked by lots of young 'uns. Start by cooking 1 cup dry quinoa (which will yield enough for two lunches) according to package directions.

Southwest chicken salad* - To cooked quinoa, add 1/2 cup cubed chicken and 1/4 cup each frozen corn and chopped roasted red peppers. Combine 2 tsp vegetable oil, 1 tsp cider vinegar, 1/4 tsp each cumin, smoked paprika and sugar and pour over top. Season with salt and pepper, mix well and send cold.

Taboule - Into cooked and cooled quinoa, add 1/4 cup each chopped cucumber, tomato and parsley, as well as 1 tbsp each chopped mint and sweet onion, if desired. Mix well. Add a dressing of 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 tsp fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper and send in a leak-proof container.

Crispy cakes - Into cooked quinoa, add 1 egg, 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, 2 tsp finely minced onion, 2 tsp Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Mix well. Heat 2 tsp vegetable oil in a medium skillet and form quinoa into small cakes. Fry about 5 minutes per side and wrap in paper towel before packing in a crush-proof container.

Quinoa steak salad - Put about 3/4 cup cooked quinoa in the bottom of a container large enough to hold a generous salad. Lay thinly sliced steak and sprinkle with 2 tsp sesame seeds. Mix a dressing of 1 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tsp vegetable oil, 1 tsp each sesame oil and sweet rice wine vinegar, and send separately, along with a handful of baby greens, all to be assembled in situ.

Warm quinoa with dried cherries - Make a dressing of 2 tsp olive oil, 2 tsp fresh orange juice, 2 tsp liquid honey, a squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of cumin. Mix well and pour over cooked quinoa. Add 1/4 cup each chopped dried cherries and dried apricots and warm in microwave for 50 seconds. Load into a warmed Thermos.

Associated Graphic



After a scathing audit revealed years of misspending, Brampton's council has been thrust into the spotlight and its residents are wondering how this happened. Continually re-elected incumbents - some have held their positions for more than two decades - have quashed efforts to bring more accountability to city hall. Disengaged voters are now tuning in, saying it's time to shake things up. Dakshana Bascaramurty reports ahead of an election that could change the face of the city's politics
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page M1

Brampton has evolved from a sleepy suburb into Canada's ninthlargest municipality, but it seems city hall hasn't yet received the memo.

The faces on the 11-member council haven't changed much in the past two decades, even though the population it represents has soared from about 260,000 to nearly 600,000 in that same period - two-thirds of them visible minorities. Long tenures have made some on council a little too comfortable, and allowed accountability to fall to the wayside.

Deloitte Canada delivered a searing report last week, calling out Brampton City Council - and especially the mayor - for everything from charging $220 in mobile phone IQ tests to a corporate account to purchasing $128,000 of pricey flight passes on the taxpayer's dime. Brampton, one of Canada's fastest-growing and most diverse cities, has now been thrust into the spotlight with a spending scandal by a council that does not reflect its population. Residents who are finally tuning in are asking how this could happen.

The current crop of council members has served a collective 238 years on council - an average of 22 years each. A case of continually re-elected incumbents and a disengaged electorate have created the perfect setting for oversight to fall through the cracks. But the magnitude of the current spending scandal has reached even the most apathetic of voters: They're paying attention, plan to vote and may just overhaul council come election day.

Brampton real estate agent Bachittar Saini said he had voted for Susan Fennell in the past several elections because she was the incumbent. But after learning of her misspending and that of other councillors through the media in the past year, he's become politically active and is trying to encourage his fellow residents to elect a brand new slate of council members.

"I hope they wake up and don't vote for any of these [incumbents]. It's not one guy - the whole council needs to be replaced," he said.

On Oct. 27, Torontonians will head to the polls to elect their mayor in what has been one of the most colourful elections in a while, but just as big a change will be happening next door in Brampton. Political watchers predict voters will show up to polls in higher numbers - beyond the dismal 33 per cent seen in 2010 - eager to shake up what has been status quo for so long.

"Certainly, the mayor is in deep trouble and I imagine many of the councillors will be, too. It's not unheard of in this kind of situation for there to be a kind of tidal wave of throwing out the rascals," said Andrew Sancton, an urban politics professor at Western University in London, Ont. It's the first election when Ms. Fennell will face two serious challengers: former Ontario municipal affairs minister Linda Jeffrey and fellow council member John Sanderson, who is backed by many other councillors.

After completing its $243,000 audit, Deloitte identified the key reason for the many breaches of the city's spending policy by members of council: In 2011, council approved a new expense policy, which eliminated oversight. Previously, the city's finance department approved expense reports, but with one vote, council switched to an honour system - a system that allowed for $172,608 in transactions by the mayor and $46,000 by the rest of council that breached the city's expense policies to go unchecked. The audit report has now been passed along to Peel Regional Police, who may investigate whether the mayor and councillors broke the law.

"I don't know what happens to mayors sometimes in a lot of cities, but they think that after a long period of time, they're like kings or queens. And they don't need to listen," said Paul Palleschi, a 29-year veteran of city council. While he has long been a staunch supporter of the mayor, he said the report proved Ms. Fennell was not "lily-white."

Mr. Palleschi was found to not be "lily-white" either - auditors said he breached city finance rules, too. What's more, he voted in favour of the new expense policy in 2011 because, he says, he thought councillors were mature enough to handle an honour system.

Other mechanisms of accountability have also crumbled, or just never came to fruition, in the city.

In 2007, Mr. Sancton was appointed as Brampton's closed meetings investigator. By law, members of municipal councils cannot meet to discuss city business outside of open, public meetings (with a few exceptions).

Mr. Sancton, who quit his post earlier this year, said he had not received a single complaint during his seven-year tenure. That may have been because the City of Brampton charges residents $250 to make a complaint.

"I think it probably did have a chilling effect," Mr. Sancton says.

In what initially seemed a promising move on the accountability front, Brampton retained mediator Donald Cameron to serve as its integrity commissioner in 2011. Mr. Cameron investigated and filed a report on Ms.

Fennell, clearing her of accusations she had acted improperly when raising money for a private fundraising gala. Unhappy with that and other rulings, councillors voted to fire the integrity commissioner this past spring. A few months later, they hired a new commissioner, who is currently investigating the findings of Deloitte's audit report.

Ontario Ombudsman André Marin says council should not be able to meddle with these offices, which are there to keep them in check.

"You don't hire or fire. You don't suspend. You hire these people on terms. A five-year term is ideal. And you don't interfere - you let them run the show," he said.

The flaws in the city's government aren't limited to lack of accountability, though. As those who cover politics for ethnic media see it, the city is stuck in another era because, while 66 per cent of Brampton's population are visible minorities, only one member of council is not white.

Incumbents tend to clinch victory term after term, based on their name recognition, says Asma Amanat, a political reporter with South Asian Generation Next, a publication based in Peel Region.

"They have been there forever. They don't even come out in the community," Ms. Amanat says. She saw a bump in councillors attending events following the 2010 election, but believes they were there to win back favour, not actually engage with the community. For Ms. Fennell in particular, Ms. Amanat says she's won over much of Brampton's South Asian community by being a regular fixture at community events.

But at least three new faces will be on council this fall, as two councillors have announced their retirement and another, Mr. Sanderson, is not seeking re-election because he is running for mayor. Manan Gupta, who is running in one of those races, hopes to change that ratio, though establishing name recognition has been a challenge.

"There's no party machine, you know?" he says. "In municipal elections, there is nothing like that. So you are totally dependent upon your own independent credibility, your outreach, your passion."

Yudhvir Jaswal, the editor of South Asian Daily, which is distributed throughout the GTA, and host of several radio and TV programs, says there has been a lack of representation of South Asians on council because little importance is given to local politics in India and that mentality is imported to Canada when immigrants arrive here.

"Municipal-level politics - it's not discussed in the media, it's not discussed in the community that much," he says.

Vicky Dhillon, the lone South Asian on council, was defeated in two municipal elections before he was elected in 2006. When he went door-knocking to meet residents, they'd ask what post he was running for: MP? MPP? "I'm not running for MP or MPP," he told them. "I'm running for panchyat member" - the equivalent of a city councillor in Punjab state, India, where many of Brampton's South Asian residents are from. He would then have to explain what issues local government handled and why they should care to vote.

This campaign won't just be about property taxes or new recreation facilities, Mr. Jaswal predicts - the expense scandal has been widely discussed in the ethnic press.

"This time, the race will be really tough," Mr. Jaswal said. "I think, primarily, the voters are a lot more engaged now."

Associated Graphic

A report revealed $172,608 worth of transactions by Mayor Susan Fennell, above, and $46,000 by the rest of council that breached the city's expense policies. Brampton's council, top row from left: John Sanderson, Bob Callahan, John Hutton, Sandra Hames, Paul Palleschi. Bottom row: Elaine Moore, John Sprovieri, Gael Miles, Grant Gibson, Vicky Dhillon.

Brampton Mayor Susan Fennell questions two Deloitte auditors during a discussion on a report into her expenses at a city council meeting Aug. 6. The October election will be the first time the mayor has faced two serious challengers.


Chaos in Sierra Leone
Roadblocks checking body temperature. Pregnant women avoiding now-empty hospitals. Banks restricting customers from conducting business. The fear of Ebola is wreaking even greater havoc on a country already in the midst of a public-health disaster
Special to The Globe and Mail
Thursday, August 28, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A6

FREETOWN -- There's a frantic feel palpable throughout downtown Freetown these days. A frenetic Ebola fanaticism has taken over, especially now that there are more than 40 confirmed cases within city limits. All talk is of Ebola, from street corner to office block, from cookery shops to bank queues.

Knowing your body temperature has become a fact of life in Freetown, where I've been living and working for the past five years since coming over from Canada.

I've had my temperature taken more times over these past three weeks than at any other time in my life. At almost every roadblock checkpoint, drivers and passengers are required to wash their hands and get their temperature taken before proceeding. I queried a guard recently at a Unicef compound about the accuracy of the "point and click" laser temperature-taker that gets a reading from your forehead. "Don't worry," he said. "We only tell you to go to the hospital if the 'gun' makes a beeping noise."

Fear of hospitals

Like many Sierra Leoneans, I'm afraid of going to the hospitals here. Despite the attention of international donors and government programs, the country's health care hasn't developed much since the end of the civil war in 2002. And now, the fear of Ebola is stopping people from seeking treatment for other ailments, wreaking even greater havoc on a country already in the midst of a public-health disaster.

Mary Alberta Camara is among the many young people who are unemployed after finishing a secondary-school diploma. She's 25 years old and lives in a corrugated shelter in downtown Freetown.

She recently had malaria but was afraid to go to the hospital, preferring to treat herself at home with over-the-counter anti-malaria medication.

"What if they mistake malaria for Ebola and send me to Kenema?" she said. "What if they test me for Ebola and I have it? What if someone else at the hospital has Ebola and I might catch it from them?" These are all reasonable fears given the current hysteria over health care in the country. So people stay away from clinics and hospitals: pregnant women, ailing elderly, parents with small children, diabetics and even Ebola patients.

Connaught Hospital, in the central and oldest part of Freetown, is not known for its hygiene or level of health care. But it's usually full of nurses and patients, one of the busiest hospitals because of its downtown location and proximity to the morgue and nursing college.

This past weekend, when a high-level delegation from the United Nations and the World Health Organization visited Connaught Hospital, only the pediatric ward housed any patients. The broken-down beds in other wards were eerily empty.

As the international officials crowded into the front entrance, nurses in starched uniforms clustered along the mouldy, posterplastered walls. They explained they don't have medical equipment, training or personal protective equipment and many of them are afraid to come to work for fear of contracting the Ebola virus.

For the nurses, death and disease are part of their jobs. But their jobs and circumstances have changed dramatically and now include the monster of the Ebola virus. The WHO officials appeared stoic but one could tell they were cringing inside as nurses related horror stories from the wards. The nurses were visibly afraid and spoke quickly and nervously.

Almost straight across the country from Freetown, close to the eastern border of Sierra Leone and close to Liberia, lie the Kenema and Kailahun districts. These are the quarantined areas and the epicentres of the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. For now, Kenema and Kailahun house the only medical facilities dedicated to fighting Ebola.

Others are planned but this is the region of the country where Ebola is most prevalent.

In Kailahun, the headquarter town in the district, the Ebola treatment centre of Médecins sans frontières (Doctors Without Borders) was literally carved out of the jungle. It sits atop a small rise about five kilometres outside the small town and is surrounded by dense, green, rolling countryside.

To get to the centre, you have to travel along a muddy, rutted road that often disappears under the flooding waters of heavy rains.

The gleaming white tents and blue tarpaulins of the centre popout of the green vegetation. It's a long drive from Freetown and the final stretch of road into Kailahun is a dangerous, muddy trek over bumpy roads and through small streams.

The MSF compound is an intricate network of fenced paths leading to and from a series of designated tents. The gravel courtyard that separates patients from doctors and nurses is as immaculate as one can expect in a jungle. The atmosphere is cautious and meticulously organized.

It's a far cry from the environment at the Kenema Government Hospital, four hours to the west.

The Kenema hospital is where more than 30 health-care workers have become infected with Ebola and died. Contrast that to only one confirmed case of Ebola among staff at the Kailahun treatment centre. The British volunteer nurse, William Pooley, who was recently evacuated to London, was based in the Kenema hospital.

Frenzy of daily life

On Monday, a bank employee of the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank became the 41st confirmed case of Ebola in Freetown. She'd attended her mother's funeral several days before and probably contracted the disease during the burial rites. Apparently, the family did not suspect Ebola and went ahead with the traditional rites of washing and anointing.

Word quickly spread around the city and ramped up the paranoia. The bank was closed and there was a rush of rumours about other banks withholding money, running out of money and closing for good.

The relatively regal façade of the Commercial Bank sits opposite the colonial-law courts building in downtown Freetown. Both buildings are majestic in their own way. Steel-barred gates now block the bank's entrance. Siaka Stevens Street, normally bustling with beggars, street sellers and bank customers, is strangely clear. Even the disabled guy, Alimamy, who sells pens from his wooden cart, is not at his regular post.

Two weeks ago, the Association of Bankers decided to reduce banking hours from seven hours a day to four. This, they said, was "to reduce the congestion in banking halls and prevent the transmission of the disease." According to the public notice put out by the bankers, all customers are now required to wash their hands in chlorine and water, have their temperature taken and wait outside before entering the banks.

These new entry procedures and reduced hours have severely disturbed the typical organized chaos of most banking transactions.

I tried to get into the Ecobank on Tuesday. Outside, where overhead awnings have been temporarily installed to ward off the seasonal rains, waiting bank customers were furious. The street hawker's din was overwhelmed by angry shouting.

More than 75 people were crowded together, held momentarily in place by an armed, fatigue-wearing guard of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Sierra Leone Police. And in Freetown, where there's shouting and jostling, a crowd of onlookers quickly forms.

The arrival of a large, blue police vehicle bristling with machine guns soon quieted the surging crowd. The diminutive bank official, wearing plastic gloves and firmly planted in the entryway, looked relieved.

There was an occasional outburst of protest as one of Sierra Leone's so-called "big men" - a member of the social and political elite - strolled to the bank's doors and entered. Without washing his hands.

For the next three hours, the crowd remained relatively calm and we sweated together under the midday heat. My temperature as I entered the bank was 36.4 degrees and after failing to retrieve my money, ("dollars don don," which means the bank had no U.S. currency in their tills) my temperature was 33.5 degrees. I'm not sure how I managed to lose body heat in these conditions, but the official forehead-laser-reading woman looked nonplussed.

The fear of Ebola has spread around the globe. It has been the top story on CNN, Fox, Sky. And thanks, in part, to this media frenzy, many countries now sport travel advisories suggesting "essential travel only" to the countries affected.

Airlines, including regional flights and many international ones, have been cancelled in or out of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. On Tuesday, the UN and WHO issued a strong statement urging airlines to continue flying into and over this region. They cautioned against flight restrictions, saying such limitations were preventing the transport of critically needed health workers and supplies, as well as contributing to economic and diplomatic isolation of the region.

"This is no time to isolate West Africa from the rest of the world," said Keiji Fududa, assistant director-general of the WHO and one of the doctors who toured the hushed Connaught Hospital in Freetown this weekend. "This region is in need and disease knows no borders."

Associated Graphic


Streetcar city
This weekend, the TTC starts to roll out the next generation of streetcars (with all-door boarding and lots more room), a $1.2-billion vote of confidence in the future of this type of transit. Love them or hate them, Oliver Moore reports, they're here to stay
Saturday, August 30, 2014 – Print Edition, Page M1

Toronto has its own version of the two solitudes, and it revolves around streetcars.

Depending on whom you ask, the transit vehicles can be "sexy" or "ugly." To some they're "obsolete technology," others call them "forward-thinking." They're a "tourism gimmick" or a "remarkably efficient way of moving people."

But no matter if you love them or hate them, streetcars are here to stay. Toronto retained its network when other North American cities were tearing them out and relies on them to carry huge numbers of transit passengers every day. The city is on the verge of rolling out its next generation of the vehicles, a $1.2-billion vote of confidence in streetcars.

The promise is that the 30metre Bombardier vehicles will be more spacious, quieter, faster and more comfortable.

"Some time from now kids will only know this streetcar as the streetcar of Toronto and I think we're very proud of this," said Claire Patrigeon, manager of light rail vehicle engineering at the Toronto Transit Commission.

"A city without streetcars is not as friendly," she added. "I personally think that transit is the future of the city."

That future - the Fordian nightmare - comes as numerous other cities that once shunned streetcars are moving ahead with new projects. And it cements Toronto as the North American exemplar of a streetcar city.

"When done well it can efficiently move a lot of people for costs that are far less than a subway," argues Brandon G. Donnelly, who blogs at Architect This City.

In 1966, Metro Toronto chairman William Allen called streetcars "as obsolete as the horse and buggy." Critics of this type of transit have seen little since to change that view.

A vehement opponent is Mayor Rob Ford. He once slammed them in a radio promo, saying they make traffic worse. Earlier this year, he said "I know one thing: I won't get on a streetcar."

Mr. Ford is not alone. Some drivers argue that streetcars block traffic. Other people call them loud and slow. But does the antipathy go beyond that? One possibility is that the permanence of a streetcar line annoys opponents - by its nature, a route cannot be easily adjusted or killed. Although that permanence can attract developers and encourage transit supporters, critics argue that buses are a better option. Streetcars that share lanes with cars, as most of Toronto's do, can be stalled by car accidents or other delays.

Bus routes can be adjusted to fit changing demand and the vehicles can fit more flexibly into the traffic mix. A single turning car or broken-down streetcar need not delay a long line of other vehicles. But to the TTC, switching to buses would raise other issues.

Chris Upfold, deputy CEO of the transit agency, points out that it would take roughly three times as many buses to carry the passengers who ride streetcars.

These would have their own traffic-clogging effect and their stops would take away space from street parking. It would also triple the operator cost, a major part of transit budgets.

"People that are in their private cars aren't making the comparison between what would this be like if it was buses instead of streetcars," he argued. "People are comparing what the ideal would be if there was no transit.

And they are comparing that, if we just took the streetcars away things would be way easier, they aren't thinking of what you would have to add back in."

Transit advocate Steve Munro, who was part of the group that helped save Toronto's streetcars in the early 1970s, said that people can be justifiably annoyed at years of streetcar-related construction, much of which he attributed to short-sighted decisions in the past. But he also said that critics can be unreasonable, looking at buses on wide suburban roads and assuming they would work the same way in the narrow streets downtown.

And Mr. Upfold said that the very downtown character would be impacted if the streetcars were replaced, noting that buses on Queen could be arriving as often as every 45 seconds.

"Queen partly is the way Queen is because historically the tracks were there. That's what led to that particular style of development, those three- and four-storey buildings that you see on Queen, that higher density," he said. "You would have all of that feel - that ephemeral, I don't know, café culture... pedestrians, people walking along - you would have that affected by a 40foot diesel bus roaring beside them. And the streets around the world that have that kind of [bus] service do not have the kind of businesses and restaurants that King and Queen and College have."

Starting Sunday, the first two new streetcars will begin service on Spadina. This is the big unveiling, after more than a year in which citizens could see them only as they rolled past on testing and training runs. Ms. Patrigeon, the streetcar manager who has spent untold hours on them, revealed an emotional response when she sees one on the streets.

"I'm very proud to see it out there without me," she said. "It's like, I think, kids walking for the first time without their parents."

The two modern streetcars will initially operate among aging vehicles on the Spadina route and will gradually replace them.

The new vehicles are expected to be on all routes within five years.

The promise is that they will be quieter, faster and, a blessing for a few months each year, feature air-conditioning. They are lowfloor and there is a ramp that can be deployed for people in wheelchairs. People will be able to board at all four doors, which should reduce the amount of time at stops and perhaps also spread passengers more evenly through the vehicle. They are much bigger and, even though there won't be as many vehicles, the TTC says people will notice the extra space.

"This is a remarkably efficient way of moving people," Mr. Upfold said. "This is 40 per cent extra capacity. When Spadina is entirely converted ... people are going to have a so much greater chance of getting on, a so much greater chance of getting a seat, a so much greater chance of not being crammed in."

Other obvious differences are the area for bicycles and the faster acceleration. Lionel Jordan, one of the lead trainers on the new streetcar, said that they don't have the "sluggishness" of the current fleet. They hit 70 kilometres per hour in testing, though regular passengers are unlikely to experience that.

Mr. Jordan has spent close to 1,000 hours driving them. He's probably been photographed at the controls at least as many times.

A curious aspect of the streetcar's long testing and training period is that it allowed a fan base to grow. The TTC encouraged this; Mr. Upfold tried to ramp up the excitement with a slightly theatrical presentation at the last board meeting in which he called them "crimson beauties."

The enthusiasm can be understood in the context of Toronto's glacial pace toward new transit.

The arrival of the streetcars represents one of few bright spots, alongside the Eglinton Crosstown and recent hints of progress toward an LRT on the waterfront.

And the hyperbole is not without a receptive audience. People eagerly tracked the new streetcar on social media. One of the new vehicles passing a patio this summer provoked a round of applause. A recent excursion on a streetcar prompted a number of passersby to take pictures and one man to call out "nice ride."

"People enjoy it. At every traffic light we have people coming in front of the car, taking pictures and video," Ms. Patrigeon said. "I hope that Toronto will identified by these new streetcars."



The streetcar is noticeably bigger than the models it is replacing, measuring 30.2metres long and 3.84-metres high. Each weighs 48 tonnes.


There are 70 seats on each and as many as 181 other people can squeeze on if they're willing to stand. There is also a rack for two bicycles, which won't be allowed during rush hour.


The streetcars are low-floor and each is equipped with a ramp that will allow wheelchairs to roll on. The ramps can be used as well by people with strollers or bundle buggies, or by anyone who feels the need.


The streetcars have four doors and people can enter through all of them. For the 40 per cent of passengers without passes, there will be single fare vending machines on board and on the busier platforms. A beefed-up security presence will try to prevent farejumpers.

Associated Graphic

The new fleet of streetcars will feature wheelchair ramps, air conditioning, and bike racks.


A new-generation streetcar, which will debut Sunday on Spadina, beside the sort of vehicle it will eventually replace.


Two new books offer very different understandings of how we should relate to technology
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R14

The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload

By Daniel J. Levitin Allen Lane, 528 pages, $30

The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We've Lost in a World of Constant Connections By Michael Harris HarperCollins, 304 pages, $29.99

Technology advances furiously, but the human brain remains stubbornly human.

McGill neuroscientist and author Daniel J. Levitin writes that, "In 2011, Americans took in five times as much information every day as they did in 1986," but our internal hardware hasn't adapted to keep pace. The average home computer has enough data to fill 500,000 novels, and yet the brain's processing power is estimated at a meager 120 bits per second, hardly enough to parse two simultaneous conversations. In his new book, The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload, Levitin considers how we can use our limited mental capacity in an era of limitless information.

The book is a how-to manual and a mixed bag. There's lots of useful advice, but I'm not convinced that we can adapt to the 21st-century information economy - with its many demands and infinite distractions - as fully or easily as Levitin says we can. Some of his best ideas might be described as counterintuitive but useful.

He argues that, instead of relying solely on electronic memory aids, you should invest in index cards, which are tactile and wonderfully modular - you can rearrange them as your priorities change. Other pieces of advice are obvious but well worth emphasizing. Levitin repeats one sobering fact: you are not a multitasker. Studies show that when you switch between, say, work, e-mail, Instagram and BuzzFeed, you decrease the cognitive resources needed for deep thought and decision-making. For high-level mental work, Levitin counsels, you must avoid digital distractions.

Another category of advice might be labeled "impractical but thought-provoking." Levitin says that when making tough medical decisions we should revert to dispassionate statistical reasoning, drawing on Bayesian probability analysis and the binomial theorem. He crunches the numbers on well-known hospital procedures such as prostate surgery and biopsies, concluding that, when the side effects are weighed against the benefits, these treatments aren't as good as they're made out to be. I find this claim unsettling, but I'm too innumerate to second-guess it. My helplessness reinforces Levitin's point: if we were better with stats, we could form autonomous opinions instead of depending on the noisy external world.

A final advice category encompasses ideas that are so straightforward they hardly warrant more than a sentence or two. Consider some of Levitin's suggestions on home organization (make the things you use often easiest to reach), filing (use nested categories), or productivity (try to sleep regularly). There's nothing wrong with simple, practical ideas, but Levitin sometimes strays into what critics Sally Satel and Scott O. Lilienfeld call "neuroredundancy": the tendency to bolster obvious points with neuroscientific explanations. I don't need a lesson in evolutionary psychology, for instance, to appreciate that arranging household items by category is a good thing to do.

Maybe it's unfair to criticize Levitin for lapses like these, since any 400-page book is bound to have at least a few flaws. But I'm not sure the book needed to be so long. For all of its braininess, The Organized Mind is a piece of service journalism, so I find myself wishing it were more serviceable - that is, shorter, crisper, and focused on game-changing insights. It could have exemplified the efficiency and practicality, which, for Levitin, are hallmarks of an organized life.

I read The Organized Mind alongside Canadian journalist Michael Harris's comparatively pessimistic work The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We've Lost in a World of Constant Connections, which was so engrossing I rarely stopped to check my phone. The book draws on research and interviews, but it's ultimately about Harris himself, a contemplative thirtysomething coming to terms with the rise of digital technology and the corresponding loss of absence.

"Absence," for Harris, means many things: immersing yourself in a book or conversation because there are no silicon devices making claims on your attention; experiencing a concert or meal for its own sake, without documenting it in a gauzy digital photograph; relying on old-fashioned flirtation over dating algorithms, or on memory and mastery over electronic aids. Absence is the deep restfulness you experience when you're miles away from the grind of connectivity.

Harris isn't an anti-tech evangelist. He's a moderate - a young writer with an active Twitter account who goes offline for stretches of time; a gay man who's squeamish about the meat-market mentality of hook-up sites like Grindr but willing to seek (and find) love on dating forums like Plenty of Fish. He's also a Romantic: just as his heroes (Wordsworth, Thoreau) retreated into unspoiled nature, he believes in the therapeutic benefits of reverting, temporarily, to the rhythms of pre-digital life.

The book isn't all Wordsworthian soulsearching. There's plenty of journalistic material too. The most compelling interviews feature social-media luminaries, like MIT student Karthik Dinakar, who's working on an artificial intelligence application - tentatively named National Helpline - that matches users with automated counselling services; or Noel Biderman, the Toronto-based CEO of Ashley Madison, the well-known hook-up site for cheating husbands and wives.

Harris shows these people for the savvy entrepreneurs that they are, but he takes issue with their slickness, their belief that efficiency is the only goal worth pursuing.

National Helpline may someday grow into a useful application, and I've read defences of the Ashley Madison as a tool for unsatisfied people to seek fulfillment without blowing up their marriages. The problem with people like Dinakar and Biderman is that they refuse to admit what's at stake here. (Why not automate psychology by removing some of the complexities of doctor-patient relationships from the equation, they implicitly ask? Why not expedite sexual encounters by dispensing with risktaking, trust building, or accountability to your primary partner?) Harris suggests that we might lose something when we mechanize the most fraught, therapeutic, or intimate human encounters.

Ultimately, Harris is an elegist: he acknowledges that with every technological gain there's an attendant loss, one that deserves to be recognized and maybe even mourned. Levitin is an accommodationist.

What matters, for him, is that we cultivate the right habits so that we can be organized and efficient, even in an economy of limitless data and distractions. This discrepancy in worldview might reflect differences in genre - creative non-fiction versus service journalism - but I instinctively trust Harris's stance more. True, some people are good at living emotionally healthy, productive lives in the digital world, but surely none of us are unaffected by the loss of absence.

To prove this point, Harris spends 30 days (from August 1 to 30) without going online. He describes how the experience makes him more observant, self-aware, and emotionally vulnerable. It also teaches him a few things: 1) it is extremely hard to be the one disconnected person in a hyper-connected world and 2) the more distance you take from digital culture the more peculiar it seems. On Day 24 of his experiment, he writes: "Behaviour that seemed utterly normal on the 30th of July now looks compulsive and animalistic. Now when I see teenage girls burrowed into their phones on the sidewalk I think of monkeys picking lice out of each other's hair."

If you're looking for an authoritative study on human psychology and the Internet, there are other books you could read. Harris's account is anecdotal and meandering, but that's okay: we don't expect theoretical rigour from an elegy. We expect compelling prose and emotional intelligence, which is exactly what Harris offers. If I could change one thing about The End of Absence, I'd put a question mark after the subtitle. Harris isn't convinced that we really can reclaim "what we've lost in a world of constant connections." He wants you to try, though, if only from time to time, since the pleasures are best experienced firsthand. And if you can't do that, you can at least take a pause and acknowledge what you've left behind.

"Think of that moment when the fridge shuts off, causing you to realize - in the silence that ensues - that you'd been hearing its persistent hum before," he writes. "You thought you knew silence, but you were really surrounded by the machine's steady buzz. Now multiply that sensation by the world. Think how cold, how naked, how alone, how awake, you might be."

Simon Lewsen is a writing instructor at the University of Toronto and a contributor to Hazlitt, Reader's Digest, Toronto Life and The Walrus.

South of 60
An expedition to Antarctica is a trip into the most hostile environment in the world. But, Tim Johnson writes, gale-force winds, frigid waters and a pervading sense of isolation are all part of the thrill
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page T1

NEKO HARBOUR, ANTARCTICA -- Ignoring every natural instinct, I stripped to the waist, acutely feeling the fresh slap of a frigid wind as I pulled off my shirt, kicked off my boots and peeled down to my skivvies. Standing barefoot on a frozen beach at Neko Harbour in Antarctica, I paused for a few seconds, allowing a line of handsome gentoo penguins to march by me - a dozen or so waddling adorably, wings out, in lockstep with one another.

A couple of birds split off then looked at one another, standing motionless for just a second before going horizontal, shooting under the water like tuxedoed torpedoes. I steeled myself and rushed forward, splashing into the gunmetal grey, 2.5 C water, picking my way around small ice floes. The unbelievable cold engulfed my legs and waist, but still I pushed forward, deeper and deeper. Then, like the penguins, I stopped for a second, and then decided to go for it. Holding my glasses up high, I dropped my torso and then my head down into the salty blackness. The cold - bam! - hit me in the chest and then the face, as real and as a vicious as a kick from an unruly mule.

In retrospect, I can see that it was a rather cold day for a swim. But I had come here to Antarctica - the darkest, coldest, driest, windiest continent on earth - seeking a truly epic adventure. The absolute south remains largely terra incognita to even the seasoned scientists who visit on a regular basis, never mind the 30,000 tourists who brave the journey each year. And while the risks and challenges are no longer as death-defying as those that faced Ernest Shackleton and other early navigators, it is still a continent that presents unique - and sometimes, almost unbelievable - experiences.

Part of the challenge - and the fun - is simply getting there. After flying to Ushuaia, Argentina - the southernmost town in the world - I boarded the MV Fram, an expedition ship operated by Norwegian company Hurtigruten, for a nine-day voyage. From there, the Fram, which holds around 200 guests, plunged south into the Drake Passage, reputed to be the roughest sea crossing in the world. Part of the Southern Ocean, the Drake forms the shortest stretch of water between Antarctica and any other continent, a 1,000-kilometre "pinch point" where the water and winds - unimpeded by mountains or islands or anything else that might provide a small bit of merciful resistance - slam with full gusto into any craft with the audacity to sail straight into them.

On our journey, we faced galeforce winds and waves as large as a two-storey building - enough to tip the ship 15 degrees back in either direction, tossing dishes from tables and even throwing people from their seats. But expedition leader Karin Strand told me that those conditions were nothing, relatively speaking. She recalled other voyages on the Drake where they dealt with hurricane-force winds and 15-metre waves for days at a time. But, she added, that's all part of the experience: extreme weather and isolation and a perennially harsh environment are part of the thrill.

"Down here, you're on a knife's edge," Strand said. "This is the most hostile environment in the world. The Fram is your lifeline, and if it were to disappear, there's no way you would survive it," she told me as we sat near a window while massive mountains moved slowly past outside in the distance. "When you step onto the shore, you're in awe of it. There's an existential fear that heightens your senses. It's an adrenalin kick."

During the Fram's two daily landings on and around the Antarctic Peninsula - a thin finger of land that points north from the main body of the continent - we called at Chilean and Russian research stations, where we heard tales of isolation and howling winds from bearded, burly men. The ship used powerful bow thrusters to crack through heavy ice that threatened to trap us inside the Antarctic Sound, and we stood against floor-to-ceiling panes of glass on the ship's top-deck observatory to watch, taking in the sight of an orange sun setting, very late, over countless blue icebergs.

But amid the tension came moments of great fun. I drank whisky chilled with 2,000-yearold ice. I hiked up steep slopes to take in vistas of ancient glaciers ready to calve, then slid back down the other side on my bum, sans toboggan. And, of course, I stripped down to my skivvies and ran into the sea.

And then there were the penguins. Everywhere. Before the voyage, I had expected to see a few of the curious, flightless birds, but I had never anticipated their sheer number, or variety. Or cuteness. I walked past vast rookeries, thousands and thousands of gentoo or chinstrap or macaroni penguins, sitting on stone nests, warming their eggs. I kayaked past them as I circumnavigated a small, snowy place called Cuverville Island while humpback whales flashed their flukes on the horizon. I saw them on ice floes and icebergs that floated past the ship, falling like dominoes as they dove, en masse, into the sea.

And I got very close to them at Port Lockroy, a curious British outpost on a small island that is home to a colony of gentoos. Established way back in 1944, Lockroy was originally one of two original British research stations on the continent. Once an important foothold for Britannia, it now operates as a tourist attraction, complete with a gift shop that boasts a satellite uplink for processing credit cards and a red Royal Mail box for you to send your friends some very cool postcards that feature a penguin postmark.

I walked through the various rooms, most of them preserved as a museum, and chatted with Helen Annan and Sarah Auffret, two of the four women who accepted a commission to run this place during the Antarctic summer. Part of their task is to monitor the penguins, and Annan told me that this was her favourite part of the job. "I love seeing the chicks grow up and to see the whole process, from nesting to eggs to the hatching and the chicks. It's very special," she said.

Auffret agreed. "Every so often, one will be cheeky and peck at your boots. They have very human traits. They're so sweet."

And while both women conceded that they have it infinitely better than their Lockroy forebears, who in previous generations depended on seal brain omelettes and a weak signal from the BBC for survival, they admitted that the isolation could still be tough. I asked them what they missed the most. Annan thought for a long moment and said, somewhat sheepishly, "I probably should say friends and family.

But I think I miss fresh vegetables the most."

As I rode back to the Fram on a small tender boat, it all seemed a little surreal. The 2,000-year-old ice that crunched underneath the boat. The stories of hardy explorers who braved this place in a time before satellites. The ship, anchored against a backdrop of impossibly white mountains, partially sheathed in a dreamy marine fog. As I looked back on Port Lockroy, I swear that some of those penguins were moving their little wings up and down, bidding me an adorably fond farewell.

The writer travelled as a guest of Hurtigruten. It did not review or approve the article.


Hurtigruten offers a number of itineraries aboard the MV Fram, from 10-day voyages that focus on the Antarctic Peninsula to 19-day trips that include stops in the Falkland Islands and South Georgia. Prices start at $11,500 a person (based on double occupancy) for a package that includes all meals on board, landing activities and lectures from experts on the expedition team. Visit for more info.

The expedition team also hosts a number of optional excursions during landings, from kayaking and cruising on small Polarcirkel boats to an overnight camping experience that allows you to sleep in a tent on the frozen continent.

Almost any trip to Antarctica aboard the Fram will include a stopover in Buenos Aires. Housed in the former palace of one of Argentina's wealthiest families, the Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt offers opulent rooms right in the heart of Recoleta, the city's most desirable neighbourhood.

Associated Graphic

Your welcoming committee in Antarctica: vast rookeries of penguins.


For the brave at heart, Antarctica offers many opportunities to get close to nature. You can venture out in a Polarcirkel boat or kayak, or even spend a night camping on the ice.


Tired of being forgetful? You don't need personal assistants to have an organized life (though it helps). The Globe's Wency Leung talks to McGill University's Daniel Levitin to learn how a bit of neuroscience can put you on the path to clarity
Monday, August 25, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1

You can't find your keys again. You forgot to buy milk. You were supposed to call your niece to wish her a happy birthday - three days ago.

Don't worry, you're not losing your mind. It hasn't adapted to deal with modern life, according to Daniel Levitin, neuroscientist and bestselling author of This Is Your Brain on Music.

As Levitin explains in his new book, The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload, the evolution of the human brain hasn't caught up with the demands of today's world. We're now chasing deadlines instead of the quarry that will become our next meal. We're keeping track of friends and acquaintances around the world through e-mail and social media instead of focusing on relationships within a single village. And rather than having to make do with whatever the environment deals us, we're bombarded with choices at every turn, from which shampoo to buy to where to plan our next vacation.

The brain has a limited capacity to process information and juggle multiple tasks. But Levitin, a professor of psychology and behavioural neuroscience at McGill University, says we can help the brain do its job more efficiently by organizing our lives around how it functions. By using so-called brain extenders, methods that offload some of the brain's functions, we can help declutter our thoughts and sharpen memories. As Levitin discovered through interviews with high-powered executives, military leaders, Nobel laureates and artists, adopting organizational tactics to reduce the brain's workload may help us become more successful.

Evaluate the probabilities

When making big decisions, like buying a home or considering medical treatments, it can be tough to wrap your head around a deluge of numbers and statistics. You may be inclined to trust your gut feelings, but your gut does not always yield the wisest results. To better systematize your approach to decision-making, Levitin advocates using Bayesian inferencing.

Bayesian inferencing involves updating one's estimates of probabilities, based on increasingly refining the information available, he explains. Consider, for example, what the odds are that the person you just saw at your local Starbucks was the Queen. Your answer is probably close to nil. But your estimates of those chances increase if you find out the Queen is in town. And they become higher still if you know the Queen had plans to visit that very Starbucks at the very hour you were there.

Levitin says this kind of reasoning is especially important in medical decision-making. Imagine, for example, your doctor tells you that you need to take a cholesterol-lowering drug.

Most people would likely assent based on their physician's recommendation, he says. But if you were to weigh the odds of that drug having a positive effect against the odds of experiencing side effects, you might find it wiser to decide otherwise.

"What I advocate is a more active role in medical care where you would say to the doctor, 'Well, what are the chances that I'll benefit from it? How many people take this medication with no benefit?' " Levitin says. Although doctors tend to be trained to think in terms of diagnosing and treating illnesses, they are not typically trained to think probabilistically, he adds. This becomes problematic when faced with the latest treatment options with questionable odds of a cure. "The way medical care is going in this country and in other countries, I think we need to become more proactive about knowing which questions to ask and working through the answers."

Take the time to write it down

According to The Wall Street Journal, the coaching staff of the Cleveland Browns is employing an old-fashioned tactic this year to help boost the NFL team's performance; it's encouraging players to write notes on team strategies by hand. "When you write stuff down, you have a much higher chance of it getting imprinted on your brain," coach Mike Pettine told the paper.

Pettine may be on to something. A recent study in the journal Psychological Science found university students who were asked to hand-write notes during lectures were better able to answer questions based on the lectures later, compared with those who typed their notes using a laptop. The researchers suggest handwriting required the students to engage more in processing the information, selecting only the most important details, instead of mindlessly transcribing what they heard.

Levitin offers another compelling reason to dust off your pens and pencils. Writing things down conserves mental energy that you would otherwise expend fretting about forgetting them. It frees the brain from what cognitive psychologists call the "rehearsal loop," replaying an idea over and over again to remember it.

While conducting interviews with highly successful individuals for the book, Levitin was struck by how many of them use this low-tech approach. But don't settle for organizing your thoughts with notebooks and to-do lists. Levitin suggests writing them on index cards. You may, for example, have a stack of cards for daily errands, reminding you to pick up laundry, call a client and drop off your collection of Breaking Bad DVDs for a friend.

"The beauty of it is, for one thing, you can carry them in your pocket, so they're always with you," he says. And unlike lists, you can easily re-sort them, as your priorities change. He notes some people even keep separate piles of index cards for to-do items at work and for home.

Your friendships could use a reminder

A 2012 study from the University of Edinburgh found that having more Facebook friends also means having more stress. The study suggested the average Facebook user has seven different social circles - among them, friends they know offline, extended family, siblings, friends of friends and co-workers. Having these disparate circles in their Facebook network increased users' anxiety because they worried about presenting an online version of themselves that did not meet the approval of certain groups.

It's no wonder juggling your social life is stressful. Levitin notes that our ancestors, with their limited social networks, had it easy by comparison.

Today, simply trying to keep track of all the people we wish to stay connected with is a source of stress on its own.

Levitin suggests actively organizing data about your social world to allow you to have more meaningful interactions. This means taking notes when you meet new people that help you contextualize your link to them, such as who made the introduction and whether you share any hobbies, and using memory "ticklers," such as setting a reminder on your electronic calendar every few months to check in with friends if you haven't heard from them in a while.

"Organizing your social world doesn't mean you turn your social world into an algorithm," Levitin says. "The idea is to maximize the opportunities that you'll have rewarding and pro-social interactions with people."

When in doubt, toss it in a junk drawer

The chaos of a junk drawer, a catchall place to store odds and ends, may seem antithetical to creating order in your life. But Levitin says there is an important purpose for the junk drawer. It allows you to cut down on time and mental energy spent making trivial decisions.

Previous research by Sheena Iyengar, director of the global leadership program at Columbia Business School and author of The Art of Choosing, found the average American makes around 70 conscious decisions a day. It's a safe bet Canadians are faced with a similar number.

Although our brains are hardwired to create categories for all the things and ideas we encounter, there are times when deciding the right category for an item is counterproductive.

Say, for instance, your plumber gives you a tool needed to fix your garbage disposal, and asks you to hold onto it until the next time the appliance needs repairs. Instead of agonizing over the best place to put it, Levitin says, "we throw it in the junk drawer. We're not wasting more time making a decision than it's worth, and we move on with our lives."

A junk drawer needn't be just for physical odds and ends. And it needn't be their final resting place. You can set up electronic junk drawers, or miscellaneous folders, on your computer to hold hard-to-categorize documents and e-mails until you find a better place to store them. Levitin notes that his former boss kept a folder titled, "stuff I don't know where to file," and would check it periodically to review the materials in it, and sometimes create new folders for them.

Associated Graphic



John Tory's SmartTrack: Why his big bet on transit is a real risk
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page M1

Recent polls show John Tory leading the race for mayor. One big reason, his team says, is SmartTrack, his $8-billion plan to use existing rail track to create a 53-kilometre, 22-station "surface subway." When he unveiled the idea back in May, illustrated with colour-coded transit maps, he said the system could be completed in just seven years and would "break the back of the city's congestion problems."

But anybody can draw lines on a map. The key question - frankly the only question, when it comes to transit in Toronto - is how to pay for it. A close look at his funding proposal suggests that the biggest, most costly proposal in his campaign for mayor is built on a shaky foundation.

The old-fashioned way to build rapid transit in Toronto is to borrow the money and pay it back by raising property taxes. That is how the city plans to cover most of its share of the proposed Scarborough subway extension, for example.

Mr. Tory proposes something different and, in Ontario at least, so far untried. He would avoid raising property taxes and instead use a method called taxincrement financing (TIF). As he put it in prepared remarks for a speech in June, this method "would help pay upfront capital costs by capturing ahead of time the increased tax revenues from development on lands near the new stations."

One big plus for Mr. Tory is that he doesn't have to pitch tax increases during an election campaign and put a target on his back for Mayor Rob Ford and others. "I don't propose to offer hardworking Torontonians transit relief in exchange for a financial headache that could last for years," he said in his June speech.

"Therefore, I will not raise property taxes to build the SmartTrack line. The city's one-third portion will come from tax-increment financing."

But it is far from clear that TIF could work here in Toronto, especially for such a costly project.

Three recent transit studies have looked at TIF and other forms of what experts call land value capture. None has recommended making it a pillar of a transit-funding strategy. City of Toronto officials say the concept is essentially useless to them in its current form. Some experts warn that by counting on a geyser of future property tax revenue that might never materialize, Toronto could be facing a serious risk. One-third of $8-billion is $2.666-billion. That is a lot of money, however you raise it. TIF has never been used in Canada on anything like that scale. In fact, says former TTC chair Karen Stintz, who pulled out of the mayoral race this week, "there is no example of tax increment financing working to that degree anywhere." The Tory campaign counters that TIF is sound, safe, backed by a pile of research and already in use around the world.

California pioneered tax increment financing in the 1950s. Since then, it has spread to most American states. Say a city wants to redevelop a rundown part of its downtown. The city creates a TIF zone there and makes plans for improvements. It borrows money, usually by issuing bonds, to pay for those improvements. It freezes regular taxes in the zone at existing, or base, levels and uses any tax money it reaps in excess of that - the increment - to finance the debt.

The Tory campaign says the tax increment from just three areas that will be served by SmartTrack stations - Liberty Village, the East Don Lands and the downtown core - could cover the city's share of the cost.

But TIF relies on identifying new development that comes from a project. Liberty Village is pretty thoroughly developed already. So is the downtown core.

It is one thing to rebuild a blighted area and claim that the bigger tax take is due to redevelopment. It would be trickier to claim that, say, a new cluster of downtown office buildings came from a new downtown transit station, considering that downtown is already well served by transit.

And what if the development never comes? TIF is a gamble that the property-tax income will rise enough to cover the money borrowed to build the project - in this case, the SmartTrack network.

"The real danger here is that those values don't increase in the way it was predicted at the start," says Enid Slack, director of the University of Toronto's Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance. "How do you pay back the loan?" The answer, almost certainly, would be to raise property taxes, the very thing Mr. Tory has promised to avoid for SmartTrack.

New York is using a form of TIF to help pay for a $2.4-billion extension of the 7 subway line, part of a transformation of Manhattan's Far West Side. A report last year showed that revenue from new development had fallen more than $100-million short of the $283-million expected by 2012. Tax increment financing is "a promising way of financing infrastructure but it's not working out very well so far in New York," says David King, an assistant professor of urban planning at Columbia University, who has studied the subject.

Mr. Ford proposed using TIF to fund a Sheppard subway extension before city council shot that project down. The Ontario government brought in legislation in 2006 to permit the financing method. It was to be used in a pilot project to help pay for the Toronto-York subway. But the government has yet to bring in regulations to put the legislation into practice.

Toronto and Queen's Park are locked in a dispute over TIF.

The city has asked the province over and over to allow Toronto to tap into the education portion of the local property tax, which goes to Queen's Park to pay for schools. "If we don't get the province to agree to waive their portion of the property tax, will this tax mechanism work? From our perspective, no," says city manager Joe Pennachetti. "It really is going to be of no benefit from our perspective." That is because, as the city sees it, it would only be tapping into its own future revenue stream, not gaining new resources.

Mr. Pennachetti hopes the discussion about TIF in the campaign for mayor will put pressure on Queen's Park. But there is no sign of that so far. In an e-mailed statement, the Ministry of Finance said that "before considering programs to divert future revenues away from our education system to fund municipal infrastructure projects, the province will carefully study the implications."

The government, it said, was "taking a careful and prudent approach."

Even if the struggle over the education portion of the property tax could be worked out, the Tory campaign admits there is another hurdle. The Ontario legislation says municipalities must keep TIF spending in any given year below 1 per cent of their total property tax take.

The problem with earmarking any amount of future tax revenues for a particular project like SmartTrack is that those revenues won't be available for other things like filling potholes, or creating new parks for the people who live in the redeveloped area.

Canadian transit authorities have been cautious about the idea of relying on TIF to fund big transit projects. An exhaustive report from Metrolinx, the Ontario transit agency, last year recommended raising hundreds of millions of dollars a year for transit through a five-cent-a-litre tax on gas and a one percentage-point rise in the sales tax. It estimated that various types of land value capture could reap only a modest $20-million a year, though the sum could be higher with the right policies in place.

A second panel, led by Anne Golden, recommended gas taxes, listing land value capture as one of its "smaller" revenue sources. In British Columbia, the mayors of greater Vancouver issued a report this spring calling for tolls, road pricing and a share of the provincial carbon tax. It recommended looking at land value capture, too, "although it doesn't have the revenue potential of other sources."

Mr. Tory once said that "transit plans without money are almost worse than no transit plans at all because they create nothing but false hopes." Now he promises to produce $2.5-billion dollars at no cost to the ordinary taxpayer through the alchemy of tax-increment financing.

This leading candidate for mayor is just feeding more false hopes.

Associated Graphic

John Tory's SmartTrack plan, above, is an $8-billion proposal that would rely on tax increment funding, which has never been used in Canada on that scale.


Tech-savvy brides and grooms are urging guests to live-blog their nuptials. Others are demanding the big day remains unplugged. Zosia Bielski explores the divide among a generation raised on the Internet
Friday, August 22, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1

If they forgot, the bridesmaids and groomsmen could always check their socks.

On the bottom of this customized, polkadot hosiery, bride and groom Lauren and Ryan Cohen had printed some vital information for their wedding this past June: #RyLovesLoLo. It was the hashtag the couple had picked for their nuptials - "Lolo" being Lauren's nickname. Guests were encouraged to amass snapshots and videos to post to social media under this hashtag, documenting for the busy bride and groom how their big day was unfolding in "real time," as the bride put it.

In the end, there were 113 references to #RyLovesLoLo online, a resounding success: "It just brought the whole evening together on Instagram, which we both absolutely love," said Lauren Cohen, a 27year-old advertising account manager in Toronto.

People Instagram their food and what they look like in the morning; it should follow that they'd want to catalogue every bit of nuptial minutiae as it happens. The customized hashtag is suddenly ubiquitous at weddings, allowing couples to collate everybody's photos, videos, congratulatory tweets and inebriated overheards in one place on the Internet. People are now enlisting wedding planners to brainstorm catchy hashtags.

The specialized hashtags are then broadcast from "wedding websites" in advance, displayed prominently on signs erected at ceremonies, or pressed into invitations and place-card holders - all a nudge for guests to serve as photographers and narrators of the big bash.

But with social media still relatively new terrain in the wedding-industrial complex, two camps have emerged: those who photograph, hashtag and post everything, and those who are going unplugged, pushing back against a sea of devices glowing down the aisle.

These camps stand firmly divided on what brides and grooms gain and what they lose when they encourage a communal recording and broadcasting of the entire day.

Social mores emerge and diverge at weddings, with nuptials often serving as a cultural litmus test. In this case, it's how a generation feels about the place of social media in their lives.

There are brides and grooms who feel it brings everyone together and others who believe it alienates guests from each other.

When you focus more on sharing the moment than the moment itself, what do you experience and what do you miss?

Kristin MacKenzie left her own phone in the hotel room on her wedding day this May but encouraged guests to post under #kpmmwedding, which fused her initials with her husband's.

"People used to put cameras on the table. I love having the scrapbook online. It turns a wedding into one big giant conversation," said MacKenzie, a 24year-old seminary student at the Atlantic School of Theology in Halifax.

MacKenzie said her guests knew better than to snap photos or tweet during the traditional Anglican ceremony, whipping out their phones only at the party.

"There is a balance to be struck between actually having experiences and recording them," she said.

"We watch concerts through our phones. We take so long logging everything that we miss out. But with a wedding, there's a balance to be had for taking the day in but also having these records."

Ceremonies remain sancrosant for many guests, brides and grooms, who prefer them iPadfree. In July, Kimberlee McCormack was married in an unplugged ceremony at Toronto's Royal Conservatory of Music. Ahead of the vows, her wedding planner took the stage to request no smartphone photos, videos or social-media updates.

"It was an intimate setting. We wrote our own vows. It was really important for us to have everyone present," said McCormack, a 29-year-old account director at an advertising firm.

As a result of the tech ban, McCormack feels the audience was more attentive: "The quiet was what really surprised us. Everyone was looking at us. I've never seen that before at any wedding I've been to."

Jen Doll, author of the recent book Save the Date: The Occasional Mortifications of a Serial Wedding Guest, advocates for fewer rules of any kind for guests. She believes both plugged and unplugged weddings have drawbacks. At nuptials heavily mediated by Instagram, Twitter, Vine and Facebook, guests lose out on "unscripted conversations" as their focus shifts downward to their phones. With outright tech bans, guests are probably distracted anyway by thoughts of what they're missing on those phones.

In both the plugged and unplugged camps, Doll sees a common element of "control mechanism."

Couples can sculpt their image by forbidding photos, videos and tweets, publishing only the best shots through their own wedding photographer, or they can shape their new personal brand as a unit through social media.

"Brides and grooms have paid the money and tried to orchestrate it to make it perfect," Doll says in an interview from Brooklyn, N.Y.

"If someone comes in, takes an unflattering photo and decides to put it on the Internet, it can feel like everything is ruined."

She remembers a time before weddings became a "manufactured environment," when our parents' nuptials were shot haphazardly with Polaroid cameras and even wedding photographers didn't enter the frame.

"Part of this is about how excessive weddings have gotten in recent times," says Doll. "It's everybody's opportunity to be a celebrity."

Meg Keene, the editor-in-chief of the wedding-planning website A Practical Wedding, is a "superbig fan" of device-free nuptials.

"I dislike the narrative that you're being crazy or demanding if you ask for an unplugged ceremony," Keene said in an interview from Oakland, Calif.

"Now every single person has a device and we're all so trained - if it's only even vaguely meaningful - to take a picture. Who wants to walk down the aisle to a whole bunch of smartphones in their faces?" No one gripes more against the hashtagged wedding than professional photographers.

Steve Koopman, who runs Unveiled Photography with his wife Katie in Kingston, Ont., rattles off a list of "frustrating scenarios," including "massive iPads being substituted for heads" in the audience during a ceremony.

More disappointing is the dynamic he sees playing out between family members who haven't seen each other in years: Instead of being together, they're hunched over their phones posting wedding content "in what often appears to be a competition to see who does it first."

Koopman's advice is undeniably appealing: "Sit back, have a drink, relax. Live in the moment. Don't worry. We've got you covered."


Lizzie Post is the great-greatgranddaughter of manners maven Emily Post, and co-author of Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette, which was updated in January with social-media rules for nuptials. In an interview from Burlington, Vt., Post offered these dos and don'ts: .

Timing is everything

Post dissuades brides (and grooms) from oversharing wedding plans using a hashtag in the weeks and months leading up to the big day. "It's not that fun for all the people who follow you on social media who aren't invited." Day of, guests should respect the hosts' wishes, if they wish to post their own content first. And never - ever - post photos of the bride before she walks down the aisle. "You don't want someone scooping your story," says Post. "Give the bride and groom a chance to post something on their own."

Location, location, location

For the hosts: Do not emblazon the hashtag on the invitation - that's just tacky. "It's not the place for it," says Post. "The invitation is the one place where we focus entirely on the guests. It's about letting them know that their presence is welcome." As for Instagramming by hashtag-happy guests, "It's really important that you don't lean in front of the photographer to get the photo," says Post. "Out of respect, he's the professional. You're messing up the bride and groom's shot."

Liquid courage

If you've taken it upon yourself to catalogue the evening's hilarity on Twitter, watch the booze. "Guests can get too caught up in it. Next thing they know they've posted something hurtful or inappropriate," says Post. "I'm thinking of a situation at a wedding a number of years ago. The person at the table next to me wasn't enjoying herself. She spelled out 'F me' on her dinner plate using vegetables, and posted that."

Associated Graphic


Kristin MacKenzie used #KPMMWedding to get her friends and family to post their photos and thoughts on Instagram and Twitter.


Kate Bush, Beyonce and Laura Nyro: being female makes for good material
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, August 30, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R1

Being a young female music fan is a weird experience, or at least it was for me. The fans I knew were disproportionately dudes, and the dudes who liked the kind of music I liked, generally music by old people, were disproportionately older. Often enough, these older dudes saw the record store as a safe space away from the kind of person who might have rejected them in high school (female persons). The weird part is that I looked up to these guys. They weren't much for eye contact.

Not all of them were like that, but even some of the best could skew a little guyish in their tastes. The accepted icons were Harry Nilsson, Alex Chilton, Ozzy Osbourne. Artists like Kate Bush were "a little shrill." Better for an artist to sound like a sopping drunk than to sound too much like a broad. For this, and for other, better reasons, feminism is an important lens for music. I'm happy to see talents like Wanda Jackson lauded as feminist icons.

Happy to see the word blown up big behind Beyoncé at this year's VMAs - happy, in the abstract, about all the feminist think pieces she has spawned.

But the feminist take can be self-defeating. There's a risk of reducing femaleness to a political identity, and of judging female artists by how empowering their message is. It matters that an artist is female, but not just because there are too few in the canon, or because girls need role models. It matters because being female is an experience, or rather a multitude of experiences, and experience informs art. "Female" is a quality, not a qualifier.

This week, Kate Bush performed the first showings of Before the Dawn, a run of 22 concerts, her first in 35 years, at London's Hammersmith Apollo, spawning "Bushmania" in Britain - all 77,000 tickets sold in 15 minutes - and a torrent of appreciation. (In a frustrating piece for The Guardian, columnist Zoe Williams compared her favourably to the current lineup of female pop stars, and wondered if Beyoncé could "emancipate herself from the craven redomestication agenda" of Single Ladies.) Bush is a living icon, but she wasn't always so beloved. As part of The Guardian's roll-out Bush coverage, Simon Reynolds wrote that "she was not afforded much respect by critics or hip listeners in the late 1970s." Debuting with Wuthering Heights in 1978, Bush appeared as a squeaky-voiced, mime-eyed sylph, dancing with dangling sleeves in character as a Brontë heroine. It seems fair to call this "girly."

Bush's femaleness (and I emphasize that hers is only a female experience; artists from Beyoncé to Grace Jones to Laura Jane Grace populate a limitless horizon of female perspective) is not a statement, or a simple matter of context. It's aesthetic, part of what makes her work what it is.

A useful point of comparison is Laura Nyro, another one of the most singular and complete artists of the 20th century, whose influence as a songwriter stretches from Elton John to Alice Cooper, and who performed as if there was no difference between the way she felt and the way she sang it.

Like Bush, Nyro was so deep in her own bag that good taste was irrelevant to her work. She was prone to romantic grand gestures and to dressing like a girl who read the Brontës, although her references are more Sixties New York than the myths and legends of old England. ("She looks like the girl down the block dressed up in a long white gown for her First Communion," Michele Kort quotes a Rolling Stone writer, in her Nyro biography, Soul Picnic).

And like Bush, Nyro was ecstatically female. She was "a guidepost for soul-searching young women, especially high-school and college students," writes Kort, "and her songs became a soundtrack for their lives." She had a special resonance with many gay men as well, and "became a code of sorts for certain sensitive young straight men: If they could crack it, they could perhaps gain entree to the women who attracted them."

Nyro wrote love songs to female friends (and, later, her female partner), lamented the plight of lonely women (Lonely Women), warned other girls off bad men (Eli's Comin') and counselled the heartbroken (Time and Love). Her second LP, Eli and the Thirteenth Confession, released when she was just 20, was something of a concept album, a "coming-of-age memoir," in Kort's words. Its songs were as ambitious and its emotional pitch was as intense as either could be while remaining pop. It was sold with a scented lyric sheet.

She was compassionate and playful with those she worked with - she once rolled a six-inch joint and later stopped a take to savour the way her piano keys felt - while insisting on absolute creative control. Mood and intuition were crucial to her. On the way to the recording sessions for New York Tendaberry, her third album, she would ride through Central Park in a horse-drawn carriage, then "sashay in in a magnificent gown," Kort quotes recording engineer Roy Halee. She'd then set up candles, and "have a beautiful dinner catered, with tablecloths and wine." The album sounds like nothing recorded before or since, and is at least as powerful as Pet Sounds or Abbey Road.

Bush told stories and invented personas - invented, for her videos, whole capsule dimensions - to capture feelings rarely examined in pop music, and wrote an impassioned, transatlantic hit about the actual work of empathy. Nyro, who died of ovarian cancer in 1997, invented new song structures to fit her emotions. Both artists are completely unpredictable, a consequence of their fidelity to their instincts, and both sometimes embarrass for it: Bush flies in a bat costume across the back cover of her third album, Never For Ever, scat-sings in a birth-giving frenzy during the outro to The Big Sky. Nyro composed a song from the perspective of her cat, as well as one about "the descent of Luna Rosé." (It is surprisingly good.)

Embarrassment is liberating, if you press into it: A great performance involves feats you couldn't replicate, either because you lack the talent or you'd never allow yourself to, and, ideally, both. Bush soars with her enthusiasms, and Nyro did the same with her vulnerabilities: Her voice flies into the glass-breaking register and hangs there a little flat and unreinforced, the science way you'd hate to sound to a significant other. I found this off-putting in my record-store days, when I cared what men thought. But I realize now how galvanizing it is: She so owns those qualities that I once associated with weakness and defeat. For Nyro, heartbreak was grace.

Both seem to perform "in the sense of inhabiting another reality," as Jeanette Winterson put it in The Guardian. They do so in a way that often resonates with young women as a form of escapism, comparable to fantasy, and which spawned a lineage continued by the likes of Tori Amos. Maybe it's because girls aren't normally socialized to think of the wide world of stuff as theirs for the taking (not that all women were socialized to be girls); maybe it's because female culture can be so cryptic, enacted so tacitly, to begin with. When I was in middle school, the appeal of the "ethereal" singer-songwriter lay on a continuum with Wicca, which wasn't about casting spells, or goddess culture, or even female bonding so much as the promise that if I learned to squint just right, my world could be magical.

The appeal of secret worlds isn't just a "female" thing, of course, nor does it speak to everyone who is female - and again, there are many, many ways to be female. The fact that femaleness is so vast and undefinable makes it perfect for art, which says what can't be said about the infinite spread of experiences people can have. As for feminism, part of the point, as I see it, is to fix this world so that the experiences of women, all women, are considered as seriously as men's have always been.

Associated Graphic

This week, Kate Bush performed the first showings of Before the Dawn, a run of concerts at the Apollo.


On Harbord, it flourished. Here, Ici flounders
Saturday, August 30, 2014 – Print Edition, Page M2

If you closed your eyes and shut out the leopard-print curtains and the tartan wallpaper and the queen-sized padded headboard at the back, lit in brothel red, and the flat screens streaming CP24, and the server swearing "oh shit" as she breezed past, and the 30odd minutes it took to get a cocktail, and the rich and guileless tourists in their white denim and brass-buttoned blazers, and the Denny's-style name tags the staff wore, and the all-1970s soundtrack some nights, and the drywall by the kitchen, crumbling as if in the basement laundry of a soon-to-be-condemned coldwater tenement, you could almost imagine the Windsor Arms's restaurant as it must have been when the hotel was the most important dining address in Toronto.

Chefs Jamie Kennedy, Michael Bonacini, Robert Clark, Marc Thuet, Suzanne Baby and Anthony Walsh all once cooked here. Pierre Trudeau used to come in with heads of state, passing rock stars and platinum-headed socialites and film idols on the way to the johns. Peter C. Newman once called the piano lounge in the corner of the hotel's Courtyard Café restaurant: "A combination of the Polo Lounge in Beverly Hills, Elaine's and Sardi's in New York ... Blake's in London and the Gaslight in Paris." The Toronto International Film Festival was conceived and reared at this address. Leonard Cohen and Burt Reynolds used to get hit on at the bar.

Yet the hotel's restaurants have never been able to grow old gracefully - they're constantly born again. "When the Windsor Arms opens another restaurant, it's as if Dick is giving Liz another diamond," Joanne Kates wrote in this space a few years ago. Correction: Joanne Kates wrote that line 35 years ago, at the end of the 1970s.

The cycle of birth and death has only accelerated. After the first dozen facelifts you have to start looking in out-of-the-ordinary places for serviceable skin.

The latest arrival, announced last winter, was hard to ignore, however. Rather than building a new concept in-house, the Windsor Arms bought out and relocated one of the city's most charming and beloved bistros.

For just shy of four years, the chef JP Challet's 25-seat Ici Bistro was a beacon of inventive, accomplished cooking and warm service at the western end of Harbord Street. Mr. Challet served airy Barbadian cod cakes with lemonzinged rouille, superb, finely flavoured fish, and best-in-the-city lobster bisque. His potato croquettes were so light and delicious that I would happily have made entire meals there from nothing but cru Beaujolais and those whipped, deep-fried tubers.

Ici's plates were nouveau French and classic French: light and fresh and decadent. Mr. Challet's Grand Marnier soufflé was easily the greatest egg dish in town.

Mr. Challet, like the Windsor Arms's restaurants, is a constant re-inventor; he rarely stays in one place for long. (The chef has also had an on-again, off-again relationship with the hotel since his turn as executive chef there in 1999.) That sweet little spot on Harbord Street couldn't last.

Ici Windsor Arms is just good enough in spots, at times, to remind you how great the original was. It's Ici, but without the lightness or the freshness, the warmth, the charm, the intimacy or the knowing service. Maybe you'll love it. The second time I ate there the cooking was largely excellent, the service at very least friendly and professional. (I've encountered just one good server at the restaurant. We had him that evening.) But my first visit was almost comically abysmal - it's well in the lead so far for worst restaurant experience of 2014 - and the third one, just this week, was closer to what you'd expect from the breakfast buffet of a north Florida HoJo's than a supposedly boutique, five-star hotel.

Mr. Challet's menu here is long, the plates complex. His steak tartare, served in any one of three ways, is reasonably tasty, particularly the Bordelaise version, which tops hand-chopped beef with oysters and Canadian black caviar. His bisque was as good as ever when I had it: Mr. Challet extracts and concentrates every last bit of goodness from the flesh and shells before weaving the deepmarine suspension with ginger and green onion brightness, and shrimp that are fried au point in starchy-crisp potato shells.

One night's escargots plate was terrific, the snails rich and tender, with a wedge of puff pastry, toasted grapes, macadamia nuts and a thick, buttery nap of sauce vigneronne. The scallop dish was a knockout: it combined the flavours of crab salad, perfectly seared scallops, ginger, pears, beurre blanc sauce and lobster thermidor.

On the foie gras plate: cool torchon and flash-seared lobe dressed with rhubarb and reduced beet juice, so that the whole was earthy, humble, fruit and fowl with a farmhouse sensibility. It was foie gras as you might find it in Mr. Challet's hometown of Lyon.

We had two soufflés, chocolate and Grand Marnier, both exquisite. The Grand Marnier version was a jiggling, decadent web of egg, sugar, flour and bubbles, leavened as if with hydrogen and just barely held together by gentle heat. It was peppered throughout with orange-flavoured booze and flecks of candied peel.

I'm still struggling to believe those plates came from the same kitchen that sent out leathery house-made ravioli, overcooked beef tenderloin, underseasoned fish, cold, congealed-tasting bone marrow croquettes and a puck of couscous so hard and bland and grainy-tasting that my otherwise omnivorous tablemate that night pulled it from her mouth not three seconds after a piece of the thing went in.

The soufflé on another night was undercooked: runny instead of jiggly. The duck breast was tough, the salmon trio blunttasting without acidity or salt, the escargots desperately bland, the deep-fried goat cheese borek yearning for a bit of balance.

And it would be hard to overstate just how incompetent Ici's service can be. The first time I ate there, having reserved a week earlier, it took nearly 10 minutes of confusion just to be seated; when, after 25 minutes, I pleaded with a food runner to find somebody we could order drinks from, the first server she grabbed announced, "That's not my table." They were just three feet away from us at the time.

Mr. Challet became the hotel's executive chef when he signed on; he oversees not merely Ici's menu but also the hotel's all-day hotel and bar menus, a vegan menu, Sunday buffet brunch and a full kosher offering. I don't know of many chefs who could do all that and maintain any level of quality. When I spoke with him this week he said he's aware of how much work is still ahead; the transition from 25-seat bistro to institutional kitchen has been difficult, it sounds. He works at the hotel just four days a week.

On Wednesday this week a middle-aged couple were just finishing their main courses as I arrived. They were tight-lipped and unhappy-looking. They hardly spoke.

As one of them finished his plate, a server turned up with a long-awaited glass of wine. He'd wanted it 15 minutes earlier, he told her. The server left with the wine. You could see the frustration on the couple's faces.

"This is the same place as on Harbord Street?" the man asked his partner.

I wished I could have warned them earlier.

No, it really is not.



18 St. Thomas St. (at Bloor Street West), 416-971-9666,

Atmosphere: The piano lounge of a Glasgow-themed brothel in Nevada, as imagined by a sightless Rosedale dowager. Bumbling service.

Wine and drinks: Anything you might desire, from craft beer to a $14,000 Bordeaux, with some affordable picks.

Best bets: Lobster bisque, steak tartare Bordelaise, Grand Marnier soufflé.

Prices: All plates can be ordered as appetizer or entrée; $14 to $36.

NB: Ici's menu only available Wednesday through Saturday.

Associated Graphic

Ici Bistro, which was on Harbord Street, has moved to the Windsor Arms Hotel.


The writing life
With his new book, Damon Galgut offers a lightly fictionalized version of E.M. Forster
Saturday, August 30, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R13

Arctic Summer By Damon Galgut McClelland & Stewart, 368 pages, $29.95

Ruling over a global empire brings with it many benefits, the chief perk being unlimited access to illicit sex. When Britannia dominated the waves, the English were famous for being prudes at home and lechers abroad. Men who were models of selfcontrol in the mother country kept harems in the hinterland. Queen Victoria, Empress of India, reigned over a planet-encompassing booty call.

Yet if lust was a motive for seeking domination, it could also be a solvent of oppression. In his eye-opening monograph The Rise of Gay Rights and the Fall of the British Empire (2013), the human rights scholar David A. J. Richards called attention to the curious fact that gay men and women were at the forefront of anti-imperialist agitation, Roger Casement, E.M. Forster and Virginia Woolf being prime examples.

Casement and Forster both took native lovers but the dynamic of these relationships was subtly different than the more common heterosexual unions that flourished under imperial aegis. Straight sex was often coercive: simply colonization and plantation carried out by other means. Gay sex, by contrast, always involved the bringing together of at least two oppressed groups. Second-class citizens in their own home, British gays felt an affinity for peoples struggling for independence.

Damon Galgut's Arctic Summer, a lightly fictionalized biography of E.M. Forster, offers a textured and convincing account of how queer desire fed into empathy for those dispossessed by the Union Jack. Born in 1879, Morgan Forster (as he was known to his friends) was in his native land as prim a gentleman as one could dread meeting. He was a Cambridge graduate who lived with his mother, his days taken up with a succession of suburban tea-parties with dotty and doting aunts. Mirroring his life, he wrote social novels about failed communication and unrequited love that made him a worthy, if minor, successor to Jane Austen, Anthony Trollope and George Eliot.

Yet behind Forster's trim mustache and languid manners, there hid yearnings that he could never publicly acknowledge (his one novel about same-sex love, Maurice, was published in 1971, a year after he died). In Galgut's novel, Forster says that gay love "wasn't possible at home." As presented in the novel, it appears that Forster's family were too nearby, psychologically as well as physically, for him to act out his passions.

But when Forster travelled to tropical climes, he developed a severe case of jungle fever, falling in love with an Egyptian tram conductor named Mohammed el Adl and later having a more domineeringly sadistic relationship with an Indian barber named Kanaya. Forster's brand of sexual tourism was inherently ambiguous. What he experienced as liberation, others might view as exploitation, especially his relationship with Kanaya. One of the strengths of Galgut's novel is that it leaves open the possibility of multiple interpretations of Forster's behavior.

By Galgut's account, Forster's sexual awakening paralleled his flowering as a novelist, his erotic adventures opening up for him a wider social expanse that allowed him to write his masterpiece, A Passage to India (1924). Arctic Summer is, therefore, not just a novel about a novelist but also a novel about the novel-writing process: the real heart of Galgut's book is the story of how A Passage to India first germinated in Forster mind, the long writer's block he suffered during the writing of the novel, and the way his experiences in India gave him answers to storytelling problems.

A novel about novel-writing might seem too meta or parasitic to be tolerable. "Who cares what it's like to be a writer?" John Updike asked in frustration at Philip Roth's habit about focusing on the dilemmas of his alter-ego Nathan Zuckerman. Yet Galgut is not alone in thinking that the writer's life is a fit subject for fiction. Indeed, novels about real-life writers are a flourishing genre, as witness David Lodge writing about Henry James and H.G. Wells, Colm Tóibín writing about Henry James (again), Moacyr Scliar writing about Kafka, among others.

Since writing is a supremely sedentary activity, involving much internal dialogue about the choice of words, it seems a guaranteed recipe for a boring book. Yet the impulse to novelize about novelists is surely born of a desire to recuperate energies from admired models. On his muchdelayed return home, Odysseus found it useful to seek guidance from the dead. On the same principle, novelists living in a time where the realistic novel seems, if not quite dead, at the very least exhausted, find comfort and reassurance in calling on the spirits of long-departed writers.

Arctic Summer is a deeply Fosterian novel on multiple levels. The very title of the book is from an abortive novel that Foster attempted and set aside. Galgut is not only telling Foster's story but appropriating the older's novels voice and method of attack, down to minute details. A Passage to India is dedicated "to Syed Ross Masood and the seventeen years of our friendship" (Masood being one of Foster's unrequited loves). Arctic Summer is dedicated "To Riyaz Ahmad Mire and to the fourteen years of our friendship." In Arctic Summer, a character refers to "the unspeakable vice of the Greeks" - a phrase to be found in Foster's Maurice.

In hemming so close to Foster, Galgut is playing a risky game. Forster was no great stylist and had a disabling tendency towards sententious over-explicitness and mawkishness. Writing a Forster pastiche, Galgut at times copies some of his subject's worst tendencies.

Here are some sentences from Arctic Summer describing Foster's fear that his sexuality has been found out: "It was terrible, terrible; everything he most feared was about to happen; he had drawn it down on himself.... The shame was, literally, indescribable; there were no words for a sensation one had never fully experienced until now.... His mother would hear of it! The horror made him lame. How he wished he could spool time backward; how he wished he had never spoken." In any other book, these bathetic sentences would constitute quite terrible prose indeed. Yet because we know Galgut is mimicking Forster and because the novel is elsewhere much more tactful, they are forgivable.

A novel featuring real people is open to criticism about accuracy that would be impertinent in wholly imagined fictions. Galgut's Forster is a mild misogynist; at the very least, uncomfortable around women. What is barely hinted at in the book is that the real-life Forster had a very close female friend, Florence Barger. "She loves me and I her," Forster once wrote.

Bedazzled by the superstition of chronology, we foolishly believe that our parents created us. The reverse is the truth: we create our parents, by turning the raw facts of their existence into stories. The present always changes the past. Throughout history, poets and novelists have created their ancestors, by acts of criticism, appropriation and reinvention. T.S. Eliot's poetry helped conjured into being John Donne, whose sudden metaphysical leaps now seem very modern and not a quaint curiosity. Kafka's fiction helped birth a Charles Dickens that didn't previously exist, a dark chronicler of urban despair. E.M. Forster took part in this tradition of generating ancestors: Forster's libretto for Benjamin Britten's opera Billy Budd helps us see Herman Melville's concealed homoeroticism.

In Arctic Summer, Damon Galgut does for Morgan Forster what so many of us do to our parents: try to imagine what he was like when young and uncover the riddle of his existence. In Forster's time, homosexuality was "the love that dare not speak its name." In this novel, Galgut gives voice to that love and tells the story Forster was not allowed to. Because Galgut is bringing together the threads of empire, love and novel-writing in a new way, he can be forgiven for writing a novel about a novelist.

Jeet Heer's new collection of essays, Sweet Lechery, will be published later this year.

Associated Graphic

E.M. Forster, shown here working on the libretto of Benjamin Britten's opera Billy Budd in 1949, lived a life filled with secret longings and desires.


'Helpless and hopeless'
The Ebola outbreak in Western Africa is the result of dysfunctional governments and broken health-care systems, writes Geoffrey York
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page F5

A frightening disease hit an African country this month, infecting thousands of people and killing dozens. Hospital wards were jammed, health workers struggled to cope. As cases soared, overwhelmed officials called the impact "staggering."

But this outbreak didn't provoke any global headlines, because it was just another cholera outbreak in Ghana - an almost annual event in the capital, Accra.

Ebola, of course, has captured the media's attention: It has a much higher death rate than other diseases, and it's had a devastating effect on Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The world is right to send medical aid to those countries and to stay alert to suspected new cases. But it's also true that Ebola is less contagious than other diseases; it is transmitted by bodily fluids, not by air, water or mosquitos. The virus has been spread by commercial airplane only once, by an ill passenger to Nigeria.

Other diseases, including malaria and diarrheal diseases such as cholera, routinely kill far more people than Ebola across Africa. In the Ghana outbreak alone, more than 3,100 people were infected and nearly 50 were killed. Even at the epicentre of the Ebola outbreak, malaria has caused up to 35 times more deaths than Ebola this year.

But Ebola is a warning sign of a much bigger crisis: the fragility of African health and sanitation systems after many years of poverty, illiteracy, neglect and, in some countries, catastrophic civil war. Even in countries that have recently seen impressive economic growth and foreign investment, the money is failing to reach the hospitals and healthcare workers who can prevent disease outbreaks.

Government authority has been almost non-existent in many West African regions, including, crucially, the border crossings in the Ebola "hot zone" where a million people live. Hospitals and clinics, meanwhile, are severely under-staffed, suffer from shortages of equipment (even such basics as disposable rubber gloves) and medicine, and often lack even electricity and running water.

Everywhere the signs of state collapse have been exposed. Bodies of Ebola victims, often lie uncollected in homes and streets for days at a time. Some hospitals have been completely abandoned after staff and patients fled. Quarantine efforts sometimes fail because people simply walk around the checkpoints.

The spread of Ebola out from the villages of southern Guinea, the source of the current outbreak, was fuelled by a similar state failure. Guinea's first cases were confirmed in March, and by April the virus was taking hold. But the health system was so inadequate, and ignorance so widespread, that many people with the Ebola virus decided to cross over the poorly controlled border to Sierra Leone, where they sought treatment from a herbalist who claimed to have the power to cure Ebola.

Instead of curing others, she soon became infected with the Ebola virus and died. Mourners at her funeral then spread the disease across the region, according to published reports.

The herbalist's death led to hundreds of new cases of the disease in Sierra Leone.

Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, says the Ebola outbreak has "allowed the world to see what can happen when a lethal and deadly dreaded virus takes root in a setting of extreme poverty and dysfunctional health systems."

The hardest-hit countries "have only recently emerged from years of conflict and civil war that have left their health systems largely destroyed or severely disabled and, in some areas, left a generation of children without education," Dr. Chan said in a report this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"In these countries, only one or two doctors are available for every 100,000 people, and these doctors are heavily concentrated in urban areas. Isolation wards and even hospital capacity for infection control are virtually non-existent. Contacts of infected persons are being traced but not consistently isolated for monitoring."

It's clear that the world neglected the Ebola outbreak when it first emerged. Only a few aid agencies, notably Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), responded speedily to the crisis. The United Nations health agency, the WHO, was slow to act. But governments in Africa have also failed to invest in health. Most countries hit by Ebola were spending less than $100 annually per person on health care before the outbreak began.

In Sierra Leone, for example, there is just one physician for every 45,000 people. In Liberia, the ratio is even worse: one physician for every 70,000 people. (In Canada, by contrast, there is a physician for every 476 people. Some Canadian hospitals have more doctors than an entire country in the Ebola zone.) After the outbreak began, some of these few doctors fled the country or quit their jobs, and only about 50 doctors are still working in Liberia right now, according to one estimate.

As the Ebola crisis deepens and the medical burden becomes greater, the worst-hit countries have become so desperate for revenue that they've issued treasury bills as a crude way to raise money.

"The outbreak far outstrips their capacity to respond," Dr. Chan said of the governments afflicted by Ebola. "The attitude of the public is summarized in two sad words: helpless and hopeless. The most urgent request is for more medical staff ... According to current estimates, a facility treating 70 patients needs at least 250 health care workers."

Deep poverty and the legacy of civil war are among the key reasons for the poor health systems in these countries. But there is also growing evidence, across Africa, that most governments are failing to give enough priority to health care.

At a summit in Abuja in 2001, African nations pledged to increase their government health spending to 15 per cent of total government budgets. Today, only a few African nations have reached this target - and 11 governments have actually reduced their health spending since the Abuja summit.

Of the four countries hit by Ebola, three of them - Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone - have lagged behind the goals in the Abuja Declaration. Guinea and Nigeria, in particular, are far behind the target, despite their substantial revenue from mining and oil in recent years. Liberia was the only one of the four countries to reach its Abuja spending goals. But even this has been inadequate, as the Ebola crisis quickly showed.

To make the situation even worse, illiteracy has hampered the efforts to educate people about disease prevention. In the Ebola-hit countries, there is widespread distrust of the health system and a preference for traditional healers. People see hospitals as prisons or death sentences, since Ebola patients usually don't survive. They fear the stigma of being identified with Ebola, so they keep infected family members at home. Wild rumors have circulated, claiming that Ebola is a hoax, or a scam by governments to get money.

One of the biggest threats is the combined effect of many diseases at the same time. Because the Ebola outbreak has brought the health system to a standstill, common diseases such as malaria are going untreated, and death rates are rising - "which is completely ridiculous," said Joanne Liu, a Canadian who is international president of MSF. "What needs to happen now is we need to be able to restore basic health-care access as soon as possible."

In the Liberian capital, Monrovia, almost every hospital has been shut down by the Ebola crisis. Pregnant women have been seen wandering the streets, unable to get care to deliver their babies. Some have died of labor complications as a result.

Others have suffered miscarriages. "People are knocking on our doors in desperate need of health care," Dr. Liu told a briefing in Geneva.

And then there are the quieter health crises that don't draw any publicity at all. In Sierra Leone, more than 10,000 people are dependent on long-term life-saving drug treatment for HIV. When Ebola hit, the HIV treatment centres were so disrupted that many people stopped getting their medicine. In the months to come, they could become the victims that never get counted.

Geoffrey York is the Globe's Africa correspondent, based in Johannesburg. Reporting also contributed by Kelly Grant in Toronto.

Associated Graphic

A Liberian woman covers her face as health workers wearing protective clothing prepare to remove an abandoned body in Monrovia.


Happiness is in the details
Behavioural scientist says it's not just a matter of adopting a sunny outlook, but taking notice of what makes one happy
Friday, August 29, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L4

So you want to be happier. Who doesn't? But is your daily life set up to maximize happy moments?

Happiness is not simply a matter of adopting a sunny outlook, says Paul Dolan, a renowned happiness expert and professor of behavioural science at the London School of Economics and Political Science. It's about paying attention to the things that give you joy.

In his new book, Happiness by Design: Change What You Do, Not How You Think, Dolan draws on a wealth of psychology and economics research to shed light on what causes happiness, and what prevents us from being happier. With amusing anecdotes, hard data and a delightful delivery, he explains how to engineer joy into your life by reallocating your attention to pleasurable and meaningful experiences.

It may be the most important thing you do. After all, as Dolan explains to The Globe, happiness is all that matters in the end.

You mention you want to bring out the "sentimental hedonist" in your readers. What does that mean?

It is to say that happiness is the final consequence. That's what ultimately matters to us in our lives. But those experiences have a richness to them that contain pleasure on one hand, and purpose on the other.

When I hear my kids read the same story for the fifth time, it's not that much fun, to be honest, but it does feel fulfilling. So purpose is important - especially when you look at the negative side of purpose, which is pointlessness and futility. I don't know that there's anything worse than doing something that has no point to it.

We all know a Gloomy Gus or Sad Sally. Is it possible some people are happiest when they're miserable?

When you add purpose into the set of experiences that we have, then I think you can see there is a point to some of what might appear to be negative emotion. Anger is a great example. If we're having a discussion and we're getting angry and we want to find a way through to a conclusion, then the negative emotion has a point to it. So for some people who are curmudgeonly, maybe part of their experiences of purpose comes from finding the misery in what they do.

How is it possible for someone to think they're happy but not actually feel happy?

I tell a story about my friend that, I think, kind of captures how many of us live our lives: My friend literally spent a whole evening complaining about her boss, her commute. Her day-to-day experiences at work were miserable.

But then she said, without any hint of irony at the end of dinner, 'Of course, I love working at my job.' And I think that's the story she tells herself - that we tell ourselves all the time about the things we think ought to make us happy, but come from stories that are told to us by society, by our parents, by the media. So feeling and thinking can sit in contrast to one another. It happens in jobs, it happens in partners. You know, people will often be with someone for years because they think they're the kind of person that makes them happy, rather than paying attention to the day-today experiences, which might be quite different.

Our expectations of what will make us happy, like finding the perfect partner or getting that plum job, don't always end up giving us as much joy as we'd like. Why are we so bad at predicting our own happiness?

If you were to get a pay rise, and you were to pay attention to the pay rise all of the time, it would make you happy. But what you're not particularly good at anticipating is that many things that are attention-seeking to begin with cease to be so after a short time.

We can imagine what becoming rich might be like, or what it's like to become married. But it's much harder to imagine being rich, or being married - to experience those events not just for a few hours or days, but for months or years. We're not particularly wellwired to be able to understand the things we will stop paying attention to.

But strangely, you say our friends and family might be better at predicting what will make us happy.

I think I'm right in saying that our friends and family may be better guides to our own happiness than we might be ourselves sometimes, but we have to be careful in picking who to give us that advice because we can't - all of us - help but get caught up in stories.

The story of achievement is a critical one. Some people are really driven by the idea of achievement, in whatever way that's measured, without really thinking about whether reaching the summit is going to make them happy. And also, much more fundamentally, they don't really think, is the journey to the summit worth it?

I live in a very middle-class part of Brighton and the parents there are just kind of consumed by the idea that their kids need to get into the right schools and get the right grades and get the right jobs.

And I don't think it's because they're sadists. I don't think any parent wants their kids to be miserable. But I think they've probably got a mistaken desire about what they think will make their kids happy.

Can your work apply to people who suffer from depression?

We tend to think if you've got a big problem, then the solution also has to be big. And I think that's wrong, actually. I think you can have very big effects with very small changes.

And if you are depressed - this is really important not to trivialize it - but if you can remind yourself to go outside into the fresh air, ideally around some trees and nature for 10 minutes every day, spend 20 minutes every day or more talking to someone you enjoy talking to, anyone, whether they're feeling depressed or totally happy, would be happier from doing that.

What is interesting is we don't remind ourselves that these are things that make ourselves happy. And then we don't try to design into our lives making those things happen more often or more likely to happen.

How can trying too hard to be happy be counterproductive?

Trying too hard sometimes acts as a barrier. We think, "I can't do this. I must do this or I have to do this."

We try to beat ourselves into being different.

I read quite a few happiness books and they all tell you by and large to be positive and whatever.

And well, yeah, I kind of worked that out, but how do I actually do that? And of course, you buy those books, there's no design features in there that can change your environments to make it easier to do so. You get even more miserable that you failed. And then you go out and buy another self-help book.

This interview has been condensed and edited.


Laughter, music and being around people you like are surefire ways to make you happier. The trick is to program them into your routine and environment. Paul Dolan offers some tips:

Keep a stockpile of prerecorded comedy shows for days when you're feeling blue. Dolan also encourages his friends to set up amusing outof-office e-mail replies so he gets an automatic laugh whenever he sees them in his inbox.

Put a waterproof radio in the bathroom, or set your car stereo so that it automatically turns on the next time you take a drive.

Carpool with co-workers to make your commute feel more purposeful. Once at work, make a habit of using the washroom at the other end of your floor instead of the nearest one to maximize your chances of having a pleasant chat with colleagues.

Associated Graphic

In his book, Paul Dolan explains how to engineer joy in your life by reallocating your attention to pleasurable and meaningful experiences.


Cases for the defence in the People v. TIFF
Saturday, August 30, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R4

Esteemed members of the jury, turn off your cellphones, the show is about to begin. On Thursday, the 39th Toronto International Film Festival opens with the Robert Downey film The Judge, which is an appropriate title. During the next two weeks you, the audience, will be in the judge's seat, passing your verdict on many films and on the festival as a whole.

Over the course of this trial, you will be exposed to an overwhelming amount of evidence (285 feature films and 108 shorts) and experience a Toronto pastime only slightly less popular than the actual movie-going - complaining about what's wrong with this year's festival: elitism and pandering, frivolity and self-importance, irrelevance and trend-chasing. And, don't forget, those washroom lines and traffic jams.

In the case of the People v. TIFF we offer the following defence, based on a modest sampling of 10 representative films. And if they don't offer a complete exoneration of the defendant, at least they make a case for leniency.

The charge: I want to see the best movies of the year before the Oscar season. The program guide says everything's great, even if it's mediocre, and I heard some of the best movies went to the New York festival. Is there anything really good?

The defence: FOXCATCHER

Lots of TIFF films are the subject of early awards speculation, including The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything and the two Reese Witherspoon films by Quebec directors, Jean-Marc Vallée's Wild and Philippe Falardeau's The Good Lie. But Bennett Miller's Foxcatcher, which had its debut at Cannes in May, is in a separate class.

This true-crime film, based on the 1996 murder of a U.S. Olympic wrestler, is tautly scripted, resonant in its theme of the abuse of power, and features a trio of superb performances from Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo as wrestling brothers Mark and Dave Schultz and an unrecognizable Steve Carell as their multimillionaire benefactor, John E. du Pont. Pencil it in next to Boyhood on your Oscar pool because you won't go wrong.

The charge: The world's going to hell - Syria, Iraq, Gaza, Sudan, Ukraine - and TIFF is busy kissing up to movie stars. It's irrelevant.

The defence: MAIDAN

The documentaries at this year's festival offer a roster of in-depth perspectives on contemporary conflict zones: The Wanted 18 (Palestine), Iraqi Odyssey (Iraq), This Is My Land (Israel-Palestine) and Beats of the Antonov (Sudan).

If you want to see one film that stands up as both art and on-thefly history, the answer is probably Maidan, from two-time Cannes competitor Sergei Loznitsa (My Joy, In the Fog). Avoiding all narration and talking heads, and sticking to fixed cameras, the film records last winter's protests in Kiev's central square, which led to a violent government crackdown and the eventual ouster of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.

The charge: I'm not interested in Hollywood kitsch or current events. Where are the filmmakers who are advancing the art form?

The defence: HORSE MONEY

The Wavelengths program, which used to focus on experimental cinema, has broadened to become home to international art-house luminaries, including Lisandro Alonso (Jauja), Tsai Ming-liang (Journey to the West) and 105-year-old Manoel de Oliveira (The Old Man of Belem). A key film figure in reshaping cinema in a doc-fiction hybrid is Portuguese director Pedro Costa, whose Horse Money is his fourth film set in the impoverished Lisbon neighbourhood of Fontainhas. The film focuses on an ailing, aged Cape Verdean construction worker, Ventura, and his feverish, death-bed dreams and memories.

The charge: Since Ingmar Bergman's death, cinema has lost its aspiration to dramatic greatness. Where are the filmmakers wrestling with the themes of identity, love and morality?

The defence: WINTER SLEEP

If you want your Bergman close to the source, see the film version of August Strindberg's Miss Julie, starring Jessica Chastain and directed by Bergman's muse and disciple, Liv Ullmann. But if you want to see a contemporary, living dramatist doing some serious soul-mining, watch Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Palme d'Or-winning Winter Sleep, a drama that hits the Chekhovian bitter-sweet spot in an engrossing study of a former actor running a remote hotel in Anatolia while his marriage to a younger woman falls apart.

The charge: Sometimes, after enduring a "film," I just want to watch a movie. Do I have to wait till the festival is over before I can enjoy some smart, cathartic buttkicking?

The defence: THE EQUALIZER

Director Anton Fuqua's update on the eighties television series was designed, over several years, with Denzel Washington in mind. The actor plays a middle-aged, erudite working stiff named McCall, who happens to have had a former career as a black ops secret agent. When he befriends a teen prostitute (Chloe Grace Moretz), his chivalric instincts are awakened - and bad guys fly like bowling pins. The Equalizer opens theatrically on Sept. 26. Can The Sequelizer be far behind?

The charge: TIFF, with its middleaged, middle-class audiences watching quality films, is so lastcentury. Contemporary, grassroots genre festivals like Montreal's Fantasia International Film Festival and Toronto After Dark are about young fans actually having fun.

The defence: TOKYO TRIBE

Give credit where it's due. The Midnight Madness program has been a breeding ground for art/ exploitation mania for more than 25 years, and the boisterous Madness screenings, when the parents have gone to bed, feel like a separate festival. This year's top pick? Tokyo Tribe, with hip-hop gang wars in a future Tokyo. Japanese director Sion Sono's previous film, Why Don't You Play in Hell?, took the audience prize at the 2013 Midnight Madness. Sono's biggest-budget film to date promises to be a blend of The Warriors, West Side Story and Scarface.

The charge: This year, we see a lot of prominent Canadian directors (David Cronenberg, Vallée, Falardeau, François Girard) directing American dramas. All very nice, but where are the young directors who are telling Canadian stories?

The defence: CORBO

Long before "domestic terrorism" became a popular subject of mainstream thrillers, Canada had its own radicals, the Front de libération du Québec, or FLQ, whose string of violent acts culminated in the kidnapping and murder of Quebec labour minister Pierre Laporte in 1970. First-time feature director Mathieu Denis's sixtiesset drama traces a pro-independence Quebec teenager of Italian descent (his surname is Corbo) who progresses from activist to violent radical.

The charge: Whether highbrow or lowbrow, contemporary films just aren't surprising. After a halfhour, I know more or less how they're going to end.

The defence: JAUJA and BIRD PEOPLE

Here's a surprise - you can still be surprised by the big screen. Lisandro Alonso's Jauja, with Viggo Mortensen, starts as a Latin American western that resembles Heart of Darkness or The Searchers, then goes into the protagonist's subconscious and zips through space and time.

But the "twist" winner might be French director Pascale Ferran's Bird People, a two-part narrative about an American businessman at the Paris Hilton airport hotel, and the daily life of a curious hotel maid who works there, culminating in a transformation that left Cannes audiences either exhilarated or confounded. No spoilers here.

The charge: I'm into real people, not pretty movie stars. Where, for example, is the movie about Toronto Mayor Rob Ford?

The defence: LEVIATHAN

The character of Mayor Vadim in Andrey Zvyagintsev's Leviathan, an obese, foul-mouthed, harddrinking buffoon with criminal links and populist support, may strike a chord with Toronto audiences. This scathing portrait of Russian provincial life features rampant alcoholism, political corruption and the shameless collusion of the clergy. Russia's minister of culture (whose department helped finance Leviathan) declined to attend the official Cannes screening last May, complaining that he did not like the "the abundant profanity in the script."

Follow me on Twitter:@liamlacey

Associated Graphic

Channing Tatum, left, and Mark Ruffalo are superb as the wrestling Schultz brothers in Foxcatcher.

Writer was early proponent of native rights
His searing appraisal of aboriginal life in B.C. for Victoria's Daily Colonist won a National Newspaper Award in 1958
Special to The Globe and Mail
Friday, August 29, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S6

A newspaperman through most of the past century could have done worse than to pitch questions to Richard Nixon, Tim Horton and the Three Stooges.

That last one did not diminish the seriousness with which George E. Mortimore took his craft. He was an early proponent of native rights and his series The Strangers, a searing appraisal of aboriginal life in British Columbia, won a National Newspaper Award in 1958. It ran in Victoria's Daily Colonist across 52 instalments - a length unheard of today - and described in wrenching detail the miseries and injustices inflicted on First Nations.

In a journalism career that spanned three-quarters of a century, Mr. Mortimore tackled such diverse topics as violence in hockey, environmental advances and myriad social issues. He interviewed comedian Bob Hope aboard entrepreneur Max Bell's yacht, Louis Armstrong while the jazz great shaved, asked Albert Einstein for a personal favour, scrummed Mr. Nixon (before he was U.S. President) and rode the Toronto Maple Leafs team bus alongside Mr. Horton for a booklet titled What's Happened to Hockey? distilled from his Globe and Mail articles about violence in the game.

"He wrote morning, noon and night," his son Michael told an interviewer this month. "That was his passion."

An old-time two-finger typist who pounded the keyboard mercilessly, perennially surrounded by stacks of paper that threatened to bury him, Mr. Mortimore died in Victoria General Hospital on July 29, five days after turning 94.

Known widely in the newspaper business and among friends as "Gem," an acronym of his initials, he wrote a regular column for the Goldstream News Gazette in Langford, B.C., well into his 90s, often focusing on the environment. His final column, in July, 2013, was on the benefits of solar power.

"I think you could say that around here he was very well read and he got people talking," said the paper's editor, Don Descoteau.

Mr. Mortimore wrote for The Globe and Mail from 1962 through to the early 1970s. "I used to write about social distress and how to fix it," he said in an interview last year. "I don't want to give the idea I was big fish at The Globe, because I wasn't."

Perhaps, but his work for this paper was marked by colour and directness. "Canada's Indian policy is largely a failure," he wrote bluntly in 1967. "The Government and people have fumbled the attempt to deal with three main problems: poverty, separateness, and grudge."

In a poignant essay about visiting his elderly mother in a nursing home, he related how she had asked a nurse's aide for a cup of tea for her son. The aide, "a tall, cool young woman, did not answer. She merely tuned my mother out, as if she did not exist."

His story about the 1963 visit by the Three Stooges to Toronto's Canadian National Exhibition was not as bleak but still had a serious tone: "Does the violence in their shows really harm young minds?" he wondered. "No, says Moe, who is the philosopher of the trio."

After he left the Globe in his 50s, Mr. Mortimore earned a PhD in anthropology from the University of Toronto and taught at universities in Ontario, Alberta and B.C. He learned to use a computer as an editorial writer at the Vancouver Province in the 1980s.

Richard George Ernest Mortimore was born July 24, 1920, in the Joseph Conrad-esque Tanganyika Territory in East Africa, just four days after Britain assumed control of the colony from Germany as part of First World War reparations (his birth certificate was from the "Occupied Territory of German East Africa"). His mother, Myrtle Johnson, was a teacher descended from Anglican missionaries, while his father, Foster Mortimore, was the scion of a wealthy and influential English family that had prospered in the tanning and leather business.

Dispatched to Africa, the senior Mr. Mortimore became an inspector of plantations and a custodian of enemy property following the First World War. Bad business deals saw him fall into hard times, though, and the family's fortunes spiralled downward to the point where the platinum tea service had to be sold. Their son was just three years old when he contracted malaria, and the clan decamped for London briefly, then to Duncan, B.C.

The teenaged Mr. Mortimore didn't last long delivering milk for a local dairy, and was bitten by the newspaper bug after joining Vancouver Island's Cowichan Leader, where he covered high school football games and community events. But when war came, he joined up.

"He was from a family that was very much associated with England and very patriotic," said his son Michael. "So when war broke out, all the young, fit guys signed up."

After training as an air navigator, he was assigned to the Royal Air Force's Bomber Command in England. But a case of the mumps sidelined him and he was instead deployed to an anti-submarine patrol in Ceylon and to ferrying aircraft, mainly Lockheed Hudsons, through Africa and India.

He expressed a great deal of regret over never seeing combat in the Second World War. "He wished he had been assigned to drop supplies into Burma, closer to the action," his son related.

"He kind of felt sheepish because he had a leisurely war."

Back home in 1945, he enrolled at the University of British Columbia, studied English with poet Earle Birney, and graduated with a general arts degree. On joining the Victoria Daily Colonist as a reporter, he wrote profiles of locals, everyone from politicians to tattoo artists. When his column, All Aboard, debuted in 1950, the paper bragged that he covered everyone from "the thieves and drunks of the night beat to visiting celebrities." Indeed, he befriended hotel managers to get the scoop on which bigwigs were in town.

Among them was Richard Nixon, the former U.S. vice-president who visited Victoria in 1962 on a break from his campaign for the governorship of California, which he would lose. "The bland conversation focused on Euro-Canadian-American relations and lumber-marketing quarrels - stale topics loaded with frustration even then," Mr. Mortimore recalled in a column in 2010.

"Maybe I could have stretched Nixon's political charm thinner by asking how he reconciled his peacemaking Quaker faith with California's war industries, or whether he was financing his campaign partly from poker winnings, as he did in a Congressional campaign," Mr. Mortimore noted acidly, but conceded: "I winged the interview without proper homework."

He did note that the future president marvelled at Canadian reporters' politeness - they actually asked whether they could take his picture. "The Nixon that I remember from that interview was an affable and charming fellow," Mr. Mortimore would recall a half-century later for a guidebook on Victoria.

"Much different from the dark figure he became in political folklore, and the vindictive plotter that one chapter in presidential history showed him to be."

A scientist he once profiled lent him a letter signed by Albert Einstein. The notoriously disorganized Mr. Mortimore promptly lost it. "The episode really did illustrate his absent-mindedness," his son said with a chuckle. The lender, though, was not amused, so Mr. Mortimore wrote to Prof. Einstein and persuaded him to send the scientist a replacement letter.

He never stopped writing for newspapers and would branch out to weightier periodicals.

"Only political fossils would still prefer fossil fuels to tidal power," he wrote in a 2004 article for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

His wife, Peggy (née Rigler), died in 2007. He leaves his sons Michael, John and Paul Reeve, and four grandchildren.

To submit an I Remember:

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

Associated Graphic

George Mortimore was a two-finger typist whose career in newspapers spanned three-quarters of a century. His final column in July, 2013, for the Goldstream News Gazette in Langford, B.C., was on the benefits of solar power.

The acrimonious relationship between B.C.'s teachers and governments stretches over the past three decades
Saturday, August 30, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

VANCOUVER -- Over the past year, the B.C. government has signed deals with nearly half of its public service. Despite the flurry of successful agreements, the teachers' union remains a loud and visible holdout, standing in the way of Premier Christy Clark's dream of labour peace on Canada's West Coast.

The province's 40,000 teachers have fought an escalating series of job actions since the end of winter, culminating with the cancellation of the last two weeks of school in June. Over the summer months, negotiators stayed away from the bargaining table and are now engaged in a game of brinkmanship that will determine when 550,000 students can head back to school.

The two sides know that they have stoked the public's anger and disbelief. In documents and in conversation, they concede that they have presided over a mess, using words like "dysfunctional" and "tortured." But a look at the history of the relationship between teachers and governments makes it clear that the real surprise in the current conflict would have been an amicable and quick settlement. Through decades of trench warfare, more than a generation of rival negotiators based out of Victoria and the B.C Teachers' Federation offices in Vancouver have built up a mythology of past wrongs that continues to influence the discussion at the bargaining table.

The relationship between B.C. governments of all political leanings and the province's teachers over the past three decades has been unparalleled. Since teachers won the right to collective bargaining in 1987 there have been 52 strikes, a series of controversial legislation, bitter court battles and only a single new contract signed without the aid of strikes or legislation.

With all the angst created among students and parents during this conflict, neither side can claim victory. While B.C. students have some of the highest test scores in the country, those scores have been sliding, especially when compared with competitors overseas. If teachers had accepted the average contract in the public service over the past decade, they would be making considerably more today according to government documents. The union says wages have been stagnant since 2010. That poor showing is in spite of a string of legal and illegal strikes in 2002, 2005, 2011, 2012 and 2014.

"Resentment is woven into the DNA of both sides," according to Thomas Fleming, a retired University of Victoria history professor who wrote a book on the relationship. "These two groups have haunted public schooling for 50 years in this province; the battle between them has been biblical."

The modern relationship between the teachers' union and the province started in 1987 when the Social Credit government of the day was forced to allow teachers to bargain collectively after a court challenge. For the next six years, the province saw the BCTF operate as a federation of 75 individual unions, one in each school board.

Each local union negotiated with a local school board. With the boards eschewing aid from Victoria, the BCTF-led unions had a string of successes, writing into collective agreements much of what the BCTF wants to preserve today.

One of the successes of the period was the introduction of unionled directions on class size and class composition - the main flashpoint in the current conflict.

This meant the union would set the number of students and special-needs students in each class, determining how many teachers would need to be hired.

The union wins came at the cost of an average of 16 strikes during three rounds of negotiations from 1987 to 1994, according to the British Columbia Public School Employers' Association.

In 1994, the BCPSEA was created as a counter-weight to the BCTF.

It would negotiate for all of the province's school boards from then on and teacher bargaining would also be centralized. Now you had two heavyweights in place to bargain over the conditions of the province's teachers and the lives of students.

"They wanted to get back at us," said Ken Novakowski, the BCTF's executive director for much of the 2000s. "The school boards didn't like that early period, they felt that they got beaten and that caused some of the attitude that BCPSEA picked up when they started negotiating."

In the first provincewide negotiations in 1995, the BCTF vowed "no concessions." According to Mr. Novakowski, the union was looking to raise teachers to the best contracts then found in the province. The government viewed the talks as a "blank slate."

With no agreement possible, both sides agreed to extend the existing contracts to 1998.

Attempts at a second agreement failed in 1998 and an NDP government resorted to legislating teachers back to work for the first time.

Everything changed in 2001. With the election of Gordon Campbell and the B.C. Liberals, the relationship worsened. "That was absolutely the point when the relationship broke down," Mr. Novakowski said.

With the provincial economy facing severe headwinds and budgets slashed or frozen, Mr. Campbell and Ms. Clark, the new education minister, looked for savings in the province's contract with its teachers.

With the BCTF seeking double digit wage increases, Ms. Clark tabled two bills in January, 2002, that legislated an end to an impasse in negotiations and removed class size and composition language from the collective agreement with the BCTF.

"The government felt that the NDP had lost managerial control and cost controls over the system," said George Abbott, then a junior minister in the government.

"I think that retrospectively they would have done things differently, including the amount they consulted with the teachers."

More than a decade later, Mr. Novakowski wipes tears from his eyes when he remembers the day Ms. Clark tabled the legislation.

The BCTF had only received a few hours' notice of what was in the two bills.

"That was one of the most emotional moments for a lot of teachers who had sacrificed, worked hard and believed in what they were doing. And then to have it all taken away like that, without any consideration," he said.

(The BCTF contested the 2002 legislation. In 2011, the union won and the government was ordered to restore the language. In 2014, the BCTF won another case on the same legislation. The government is currently waiting on an appeal.)

In 2005, the province's teachers launched an illegal strike after they were legislated back to work for the third time in a row.

Months later, an agreement was reached. The relationship remained acrimonious.

Charles Jago, appointed mediator between the two sides in 2011, was struck by the currents running through negotiations. "The mindset of the BCTF was fascinating to me," he said. "Their sense of grievance goes back 40 years. It is real and palpable and is played out at the table. They can't overcome the past."

After months of low-level job action and a strike, Mr. Jago reached a short-term deal that ended in 2013.

"My biggest regret after 34 years in politics was that I wasn't able to turn a corner in the relationship between the government and the BCTF," said Mr. Abbott, who was education minister in 2011.

Now in negotiations again, both sides appear to be close to a sixyear deal. The contract would be the longest yet. The BCTF is still fighting to regain what it first won in the 1980s, kept through the 1990s and lost in 2002.

Ms. Clark has pledged to end the current cycle of animosity, now in its 27th year. The government will not legislate an end to the current conflict, leaving both sides to hammer out a deal.

And the day after a new deal is signed, the B.C. Liberals say they will start negotiating a 10-year contract, long enough perhaps for a generation to forget the past.

Associated Graphic

B.C. teachers at the Vancouver Art Gallery during a noontime rally last June. Since 1987 when teachers won the right to collective bargaining, there has been only one contract signed without the aid of strikes or legislation.


Friday, August 22, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B5

When Charlie Sheen is the voice of reason and responsibility, you know things have gotten weird.

On Monday, a video emerged of Mr. Sheen taking part in the "ice bucket challenge" - an online sensation that began in Boston and has been spreading globally among celebrities and civilians alike. The challenge calls out people to dump a bucket of ice water over their heads in an effort to raise awareness for a debilitating disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Mr. Sheen, however, implicitly criticized those who have been enacting one variation that allows them to do the prank in lieu of donating to an ALS-related charity.

The actor who has become known for strange public behaviour declined to jump on the bandwagon. Instead of water, he dumped a bucket of money on his head - $10,000, he claimed, that he would donate - "because let's face it, ice is going to melt, but this money is going to actually help people," he said in the video.

The campaign has been criticized for "slacktivism," social media petitions and stunts that allow people to feel good about getting involved with a cause without actually doing anything.

But as it turns out, that critique, and Mr. Sheen's contribution to the tsk-tsking, weren't necessary.

The ice bucket challenge has actually pushed people into action. And it provides a lesson to other charities trying to market themselves with few resources in a digital age.

The donations are unlike anything the ALS Society of Canada has seen before. Due to overwhelming traffic, it has taken down its regular website and directed all visitors to its Ice Bucket Challenge page. While the campaign started in the United States, Canadian participants helped to direct roughly $400,000 in donations to the organization (and its provincial affiliates) on Tuesday alone. In total, the campaign has raised almost $800,000. As a comparison, in the entire summer period last year, "we're talking just thousands of dollars," said Interim CEO Tammy Moore.

In the U.S., the numbers are massive: $31.5-million (U.S.) in donations compared with just $1.9-million in the same period - July 29 to Aug. 20 - last year.

"It's not just a stunt. People are opening their wallets, and they're making themselves aware," Ms. Moore said. What's more, she believes the controversy around slacktivism has helped. People are called out if they don't mention the cause in their videos, or do not donate.

It's started a conversation.

According to Facebook Inc., more than 28 million people have either posted content, commented on or liked others' posts about the challenge, and 2.4 million videos related to the campaign have been shared on the social network globally.

Before the campaign, the organization struggled with branding ALS, Ms. Moore said. Its full name is too long for many to remember, and awareness of the disease is minimal compared with cancer or heart disease.

"This is giving a name to it," she said.

That is a huge opportunity for all charitable organizations: Social media have levelled the playing field for the thousands of groups working on a shoestring - not to mention for larger charities that would prefer to direct a smaller portion of donation dollars to advertising themselves.

"In this country, there are 86,000 charities," said Marina Glogovac, CEO of CanadaHelps, which helps charities process online donations. Many of its clients are small to mediumsized organizations. "There is an enormous long tail of small charities that don't have the marketing budgets, or the knowhow, and they're the ones that could benefit the most from social media marketing."

It's also a hugely important vehicle for connecting with younger people, who are not as involved in charitable giving as older generations. People born between 1981 and 1995 account for just 15 per cent of total giving in Canada, according to a study released last year. Far more than other generations, those younger people say that they prefer to volunteer, spread the word or fundraise rather than writing big cheques.

That sense of participation is partly what made the ice bucket challenge so popular.

"This was fun, it was relatively easy to do, and it had a bit of naughtiness to it. Those are terrific elements for something that people will pass along," said David Hessekiel, president of the Rye, N.Y.-based Peer-toPeer Professional Forum, which counsels non-profits on how to effectively engage people in fundraising through activities among peers, often online.

"There are two things we know motivate people to action: Peer opinions and the pursuit of unique experiences," said Mark Sutton, chief revenue officer for Washington, D.C.-based FrontStream, which offers online pay...

ment processing for businesses and charities. "The Ice Bucket Challenge offers both."

People pouring buckets of ice over their heads is also funny, and unexpectedly joyful - it's an easy way in for people who might not otherwise be convinced to Google ALS and read up on such a brutal disease.

Facebook is the No. 1 referrer to fundraising and donation pages online in North America, according to a study by Artez Interactive, a division of FrontStream focused on charitable giving. The social network accounts for 28 per cent of referrals.

Even beyond friends' appeals for fundraising drives, charities are learning that social media have the potential to get the attention of younger people. In 2012, for example, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada ran an awareness campaign for CPR training. It was targeted at people under 35, many of whom are not trained.

In a video released on YouTube, a zombie horde chases a woman in post-apocalyptic Toronto. Panicked, the woman suffers a heart attack. So the zombies perform CPR - complete with step-by-step instructions - and when the woman is revived, with blood flowing to her precious brains once more, they devour her.

The video received 1.5 million views, and 16,000 people have gone through training as a result of the campaign. What's more, it brought in money: HSF links more than $1-million in donations to the widespread attention the video received.

"It opened our eyes in terms of how effective social media could be," said chief marketing officer Geoff Craig. "[Young people] are going to be the givers of the future. So we have to figure out how to engage with them today."


What it's all about

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), sometimes known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells we use to control our muscles. It can start with tightness or weakness in certain muscles, and eventually progresses until a person loses the ability to walk, speak, swallow and even breathe. While these functions deteriorate, the disease leaves cognitive functions mostly intact: a person with ALS is aware of what is happening to them. There is no cure.

ALS in Canada

3,000: the rough number of people currently living with ALS in Canada

1,000: the estimated number who will be diagnosed in Canada this year; roughly the same number of people will die from the disease this year.

90 per cent: the proportion of ALS cases where there is no hereditary link to the disease.

ALS is indiscriminate, and strikes regardless of age, ethnicity, gender - or family history.

Source: ALS Society of Canada

The challenge:

Where it's happening

Top countries by participation in the ice bucket challenge, according to Facebook:

1. United States

2. Australia

3. New Zealand

4. Canada

5. Mexico

6. Brazil

7. Germany

8. Philippines

9. Puerto Rico

10. India

Associated Graphic

Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri, left, and the Toronto Raptor are drenched on Wednesday.


Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon, left, dumps a bucket of ice water over the head of actress Lindsay Lohan on Wednesday. Celebrities such as Ms. Lohan have flocked to the challenge.


For years, brands have mocked advertising tropes in TV spots to gain attention. Now, one brand is poking the trends with a sharp stick in an effort to make digital advertising just as snarky as what's sometimes seen on television
Friday, August 29, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B5

More than two decades ago, when the Energizer Bunny first drummed its way onto TV screens, it kept going and going right into the middle of other commercials.

In order to create the image of a long-lasting battery, the brand created ads that started out looking as if they were promoting something else. They would often run after a regular Energizer ad. In the middle of commercials for fake brands such as Très Café coffee, Nasatene nasal spray, and Château Marmoset wine, the bunny would thump onto the screen, interrupting the action - the idea being that it was still going, even though its commercial had ended.

But the ads weren't just about communicating a message of extreme endurance, or mocking Duracell's ads that showed toys powered by its batteries outlasting other brands. The spots were also a shot at advertising in general. The fake ads were designed to spoof the kind of commercials people hate. Think of the contrived scene in which friends rave to each other about a product, or the pretentious tone of ads for luxury goods. The bet was that by making fun of advertising, Energizer could find a more receptive audience.

The bunny "interrupts, disrupts, and derides the kind of advertising people would zap anyway," Dick Sitting, senior vicepresident for Energizer's ad agency, Chiat/Day/Mojo, told New York magazine in 1991, explaining the commercials' popularity.

"The bunny becomes the hero for shutting the ads up."

The rise of digital media means that advertisers now have the chance to reach us at every second of every day. But it is also a time when people value frankness, the kind of tone they use when talking to their friends on social media. Partly because of that, the strategy is alive and well. And it can pay off for brands that do it right.

The strategy is now helping Newcastle Brown Ale to make itself heard on a shoestring.

While the British beer is now owned by a big company, Heineken NV, it is a small brand with a small budget. About one year ago, the marketing team took stock: Its TV commercials were not making an impact. While the "No Bollocks" campaign that started three years ago received positive feedback for mocking over-the-top promises of good times, bad Photoshopping and egregious flag-waving in other advertising, they did not have the money to make a difference in TV.

So the brand moved 100 per cent of its budget into digital, where it has seen results.

Before the Super Bowl, when companies were spending roughly $4-million (U.S.) to air 30-second TV commercials, Newcastle produced a series of videos admitting it couldn't afford to join the fun. Instead, it talked about the ad it would have made - implicitly mocking the overthe-top Big Game ads that air in the U.S. - featuring "battle apes," robots and actress Anna Kendrick wearing only body paint.

It released teaser trailers, videos of real focus groups reacting to its premise and a video with a crude storyboard version of its ad, as well as videos with Ms. Kendrick and former NFLer Keyshawn Johnson complaining about Newcastle backing out for lack of funds.

The humour boosted Newcastle to a "trending topic" on Facebook, ahead of the Super Bowl itself, for two days. The campaign earned roughly 600 instances of coverage in the media, helping to stoke views of the videos, which spiked to more than 10 million in two weeks. The company estimates that in total, its media exposure amounted to more than one billion "impressions," the number of times people would have seen the coverage.

"We felt that people were kind of tired of marketing that treated them like idiots," said Scott Bell, creative director at Newcastle's ad agency, Droga5.

The latest campaign makes fun of crowdsourcing. Miller Lite, for example, asked U.S. consumers to send in photos of their summer, and produced an ad with a selection of those images. Newcastle asked people to send in the kind of "mediocre" photos that overpopulate Facebook, and promised to retouch them poorly to insert its product into the shot.

"If you're going to be on the Internet, you have to give it what it wants. The Internet doesn't want advertising," said Quinn Kilbury, brand director for Newcastle and a former marketer at Pepsi, where he worked on big-budget Super Bowl advertising. "We're not competing with Budweiser or craft beer, we're competing with Justin Bieber and cute kittens."

For the Super Bowl campaign, half the viewers came to the video without prompting, a much higher ratio than many ads attract. (A truly "viral" brand video does not exist. Most companies have to pay for at least some of those views, by buying a spot in preroll before other videos on YouTube and elsewhere, paying companies that can help increase view counts by promoting the video across the Web, or other advertising pushing people to it.)

The brand has seen results.

Among its target customers, ages 21 to 39, its trial - people surveyed who have tried the beer - has jumped from 60 per cent to 72 per cent since December. During high-profile campaigns, it sees sales rise.

"Ads that make fun of ads acknowledge the truth that most advertising out there is awful," said Angus Tucker, partner and executive creative director at Toronto ad agency John St. "It's a very, very quick way of connecting to consumers over a shared hate. " John St. knows that well. Since 2011, it has created an annual video mocking the advertising industry. It started with a spoof of the overwrought case studies that agencies send in to award shows boasting about their supposedly astounding, transformational work. John St. used the same tone to talk about producing a child's birthday party. This year, it mocked advertisers that use mean-spirited pranks to get their message across.

Making fun of advertising can be good for advertisers - and it's also been good for the agency.

Clients come to meetings wanting to talk about the videos. Mr. Tucker once got a call from an executive at Coca-Cola asking if they could show a video at a board meeting. They have been invited to pitch for advertising work because the videos got them noticed, including outside of Canada.

"Nobody is forced to watch it any more, so you have to make something people want to watch and send to their friends," Mr. Tucker said.

Making fun of ads is a good way to do that. "People are sick to death of bad advertising."


What it mocks: The over-the-top concepts and obscene amount of money spent on Super Bowl advertising.

Priced out of the $4-million cost for ad slots during the broadcast of the big game, Newcastle made online videos showing the "mega huge" ad it would have made if funds allowed. It featured all the clichés of big game commercials: celebrity cameos, excessive sexuality and adorable animals. The campaign even included behind-the-scenes videos featuring actress Anna Kendrick and former NFLer Keyshawn Johnson complaining about the campaign being cancelled due to lack of funds.


What they're mocking: User-generated content

Contributions from real people are popular with advertisers for lending brands an air of authenticity with cheap content.

For example, Miller Lite this year asked fans to send in their photos of summer, and picked a selection to use in an ad. This month, Newcastle spoofed the trend by asking people to submit "boring," photos to make ads, "because we totally blew our marketing budget by paying celebrities to pretend to drink our beer." It promised to (badly) Photoshop those ads to include images of beer - with such techniques as mismatched hands and substituted limbs.

Associated Graphic





What, you don't skateboard in your living room? Loosen up. Indoor slides, swings and climbing walls are bringing a sense of play into the home, Matthew Hague writes
Special to The Globe and Mail
Thursday, August 28, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1

David Hotson is a serious architect. He studied at the University of Waterloo before doing his masters at Yale. In his early career, in the late 1980s, he worked with fellow Yale alumni Maya Lin - famous for her Vietnam Veterans Memorial - on important projects such as the Museum for African Art in New York. After he started his own practice in the early 1990s, he helped with the redesign of Kofi Annan's offices at the United Nations.

But Hotson, who was born in Pennsylvania and raised in Southern Ontario, also has an intensely playful side - as in, on the Willy Wonka magnitude of playful.

His Skyhouse Penthouse, completed in 2013, occupies the 21st through the 24th floors of a century-old skyscraper in downtown Manhattan. The overall aesthetic is entirely tasteful: spare rooms with iceberg white walls appointed with fine decor (lamps by the Netherlands' Marcel Wanders, a Jean Paul Gautier sofa).

But it's all a backdrop for an adult, indoor playground. There's a swing, a four-storey rockclimbing pillar that towers up from the living room, and a reflective stainless-steel slide that worms through the entire apartment like a creature from a sci-fi movie. Justifiably, Fast Company magazine named it one of the year's "coolest" houses. It exemplifies the kind of zaniness and whimsy that some homeowners are embracing to shake the doldrums of sameold modern design - even same-old everyday life. Hotson describes the space as an "immediate, present-tense experience," where "the playful elements - the slide, the swing, the climbing column - provide a counterpoint, at once familiar and surreal, to the austere, dramatic, vertiginous, slightly disorienting spaces of the interior."

"Children are a little delirious when they encounter the slide," he says, "but adults also respond in a charmingly excited fashion." And the effects can be felt just by standing in the space. "These elements provide a sharpened sense of the verticality of the penthouse, which suspends the attention of the visitor whether or not they decide to strap on a climbing harness and try to ascend the 50-foot tall main column or to plunge into the dark void of the slide and see where is leads."

If Hotson's apartment were an office space for a tech or advertising company, it would almost be normal. Starting in the late nineties, creative concerns started investing heavily in work-asplay environments. Foosball and pool tables became as regular as coffee makers and photocopiers. The idea being that unstructured activities would foster collaboration, ingenuity and innovation.

The trend was interrupted during the dot-com bust of the early aughts, and again by the last recession, but has picked up since. Google's recently opened Toronto offices have meeting rooms shaped like camping tents and a roof-top putting green.

Corus Entertainment has a massive, three-storey slide corkscrewing through the atrium of its head offices on Toronto's waterfront (the building was finished in 2011, with interiors by Quadrangle Architects).

Now it seems the trend is crossing over into residential spaces. Houses with indoor slides, skateboarding ramps and swings keep cropping up on international design blogs such as Dezeen, Design Boom and Architizer.

Among the most recent is Jerry House by a Thai architecture firm called Onion. A vacation property for a wealthy Chinese family, it has an atrium filled with circus nets where kids (and adults who wish they were still kids) can flip-flop around as though they were living in their own private amusement park.

Other notable projects include Panorama House by Korea's Moon Hoon studio - with a sleek wooden slide that glides through a bookcase - and a Skate House developed by 29year-old Austrian skateboarder Philipp Schuster, for which he retrofitted a Viennese villa with indoor skateboard ramps. The contrast of the concrete embankments and the traditional hunting lodge is actually startlingly effective. (Unfortunately, the project was just an exploration of what could be done to give new life to out-of-use dwellings, and the structure was later demolished).

This kind of house-as-amusement park, at least for the extremely wealthy, is not entirely new. Michael Jackson's former estate, Neverland, was famous (then, darkly, infamous) for its childlike follies (including roller coasters and a zoo). In 2012, Jay-Z and Beyonce rented a Hampton's mega-mansion for upward of $400,000 a month that came with an indoor halfpipe and bowling alley.

What's different, though, is that this new crop of full-sized playhouses actually looks good, with architects paying as much attention to the aesthetics of the amusements, as to the amusements themselves. Whereas Jackson and Jay-Z's places had a distinctly nauseating, toogrand pastiche quality, these newer projects are both elegant and absurdly fun.

Hotson, for example, was not influenced by Jay-Z. He looked to legendary, neoclassical architect Sir John Soane as an inspiration for layered, complex spaces; and contemporary Belgian-born artist Carsten Holler (who famously installed sleek, silver slides at London's Tate Modern) for a way to make giddiness look gorgeous.

It might all seem highly indulgent, and, to be sure, it is. But play does have a purpose.

Researchers believe that play is essential for childhood development. In one often cited, 1960s study by psychiatrist Stuart Brown (founder of America's National Institute for Play), a group of imprisoned Texas murders were found to have a striking similarity - all rarely had the opportunity to play as kids (due to social isolation, abuse or other reasons). Brown now advocates for the necessity of play as a tool for young people to develop key skills, including imagination, cooperation, empathy and self-control.

It's no less crucial in adults.

Simple, unstructured diversions are believed to decrease stress, improve emotional well-being and boost productivity. (The Googles of this world aren't just doing it to be altruistic; they believe it helps with profitability).

Also, these play houses are not always as extravagant as villas or penthouses. Vladimir Zotov is a research scientist with the Canadian government.

In 2011, he and his wife custombuilt a four-bedroom home in Toronto's north end around the idea of play. Hidden passageways connected the bedrooms of the two kids (ages three and eight at the time). A bright blue slide ribboned from the upper level into the family room.

In some ways, the house is modest - it's not enormous, or particularly grand - but the fun elements were essential. Zotov's wife was raised in poverty in Siberia, and, after coming to Canada in 1992, she was determined to, one day, give her kids the kind of light-hearted life she simply couldn't have.

"The three-year-old was a bit scared of the slide at first, so I would slide with him," Zotov says. "It took him a year to get used to. The eight-year-old loved it though. He used it every morning."

Unfortunately, to get into a better school district, the Zotovs sold their house and moved last month. The slide was not an issue in the resale. "Some buyers asked how easy it would be to remove," Zotov says. "But it's like the beer commercial [for Alexander Keiths]: Those who like it, like it a lot. And the new home owners, they like it a lot."

Associated Graphic

Skateboarder Philipp Schuster filled his Skate House with a mix of concrete ramps and traditional furnishings.


Houses with indoor slides, skateboarding ramps and swings keep cropping up on international design blogs such as Dezeen, Design Boom and Architizer.


Cornish's comeback Marketable, capable and back on his feet
After being sidelined by a concussion, the CFL's most outstanding player is preparing for another Labour Day Classic. The Calgary Stampeders' cerebral Canadian running back offers fresh legs for an age-old rivalry, Eric Duhatschek writes
Saturday, August 30, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

CALGARY -- For most of the past two months, Jon Cornish was visible to Calgary Stampeders fans only when they entered their local Co-op grocery stores. There, generally just inside the front door, would be large display of product featuring Cornish's familiar No. 9 jersey, ball tucked under his left shoulder, plowing determinedly ahead for some of the 2,157 yards he accumulated from scrimmage last year to become only the third Canadian to win most outstanding player honours in CFL history.

In the midst of the barbecue season, there were always Cornish "RB-Q" chips available. Later, there was a breakfast cereal: Corn flakes that were branded as Cornish Flakes, a cute pun and one that harked back to a nickname he enjoyed as a boy growing up in New Westminster, B.C. To get his name and face on a box of cereal in the grand Wheaties tradition was a stop-andpause reflective moment for the 29-year-old who has, over time, evolved into one of the league's most marketable faces.

The association with the grocery chain was all part of a fundraiser for the Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation, and here Cornish credits the Stampeders' relatively new association with the Calgary Flames for setting it in motion. It is the second time in the conversation that Cornish talks about the Flames. The first came up moments earlier in discussing why he will participate in Sunday's local Pride parade. The Flames' president of hockey operations, Brian Burke, has participated in it for years, ever since his son Brendan came out. Cornish's mother, Rev. Margaret Cornish, has a same-sex partner.

"With Brian Burke and the Flames organization, they are very progressive in their whole approach to this," Cornish said, "so it means a lot to participate.

"I won't really be doing much," he added. "I'll be sitting on a float. But I think it's a good event for people to truly be themselves - not really care about what other people think about them, but truly be themselves, and that's what I want to support."

A day later, Cornish promises to be a little more active - playing the Labour Day Classic against the Edmonton Eskimos, the first in a series of back-to-back games featuring the Alberta provincial rivals that could go a long way in determining the Western Division's regular-season champion.

The Stamps and Esks are both 7-1 going into the game. Compared with the 48 previous times they've met on Labour Day Monday, these are statistically the best the two teams have ever been, in terms of their cumulative winning percentages (.875).

For Cornish, it will be his second game back after missing six in a row recovering from a concussion that he suffered in the season opener against the Montreal Alouettes, the result of a forearm shiver delivered by Als linebacker Kyries Hebert.

Cornish returned to the lineup last weekend for a 32-7 victory over the Ottawa RedBlacks and had a thoroughly respectable game - 74 yards on 16 carries - but said immediately afterward that it was a mere tuneup for him and the real test would be provided by the Esks.

Because of the oddball nature of the CFL this year, where the last-place team in the West has a winning record and the firstplace team in the East is a disaster, even a 7-1 team cannot take anything for granted, something Cornish is acutely aware of.

"I think Edmonton, they've been a good team and we've lost Labour Day Classics to them while I've played," Cornish said.

"They've never been a team we've taken lightly. We've always had respect for both the team and the organization and I think this year, they're finally getting back to the Edmonton of old, and very dominant. So I'm looking forward to competing against them."

The fact that the Stamps have managed to stay so competitive even without Cornish speaks volumes about the organization that coach John Hufnagel has assembled. Still, it doesn't change the fact that the Stampeders are a better team with Cornish than they are without him.

According to Stampeders defensive end Shawn Lemon, a former Eskimo, Cornish's return should have a "huge impact" on the team in the second half and may eventually turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

"It's unfortunate he had a concussion, but he's had a chance to rest his legs and be there for the ending part of the season, which is kind of the most important part of the CFL," Lemon said. "So with the MOP just coming back with fresh legs, with the 10-game stretch coming up, that'll be big for us."

Cornish won the past two CFL rushing titles, and last season ran for 1,813 yards, the fourth highest total in league history. It also bettered his own record for most rushing yards by a Canadian, which he originally set two years ago, a mark previously held by the legendary Norman Kwong and that had stood for 56 years.

In his time away from the game, the cerebral Cornish found time to meditate frequently and otherwise keep his mind off the fact that recovery from a concussion requires patience from the patient.

"I think a lot of people, when they're away from the game, they get depressed," Cornish said.

"They get down. That's not what I'm trying to do. That's not part of my MO. For me, being on the sidelines, I just found the positives and did what I could.

"I found things to keep me occupied."

The Stampeders' only loss of the season came against the 5-4 B.C. Lions three weeks ago.

Edmonton's sole defeat was by a 26-22 score at home to the Stampeders. Ultimately, if the teams end up tied in the standing, the first tie-breaker will be their head-to-head record, making the results of Monday's game and Saturday's rematch potentially ultrasignificant when playoff spots are decided.

"It's very rare that you get to have two 7-1 teams play against each other," Cornish said. "For that reason, the fans are going to be ready for a huge game."

As for all those food products that currently bear his likeness, Cornish said the approach came along largely because the Flames have brought the Stampeders organization "to a new level of sponsorship in dealing with different corporations. Through them, we were able to set up this deal with Co-op and from there Co-op developed the different food products. I'm proud to stand beside each one of the products because they taste great.

"The idea of corn flakes, Cornish Flakes - since I was a little kid, people have been joking about that, so for me to actually see it in reality, a few years down the line, it is definitely something you can look back on fondly."

Follow me on Twitter:@eduhatschek

Associated Graphic

Calgary Stampeders running back Jon Cornish, trying to avoid Ottawa's Jasper Simmons last week, is ready to face the Edmonton Eskimos in a key Labour Day matchup.


The Edmonton Eskimos' Damaso Munoz, left, tackles the Calgary Stampeders' Jon Cornish during 2013's Labour Day Classic. The Stamps and Esks are gearing up for this year's Labour Day showdown: Both teams are atop the West and going into the game with 7-1 records.


Event horizon
When is a thing more than just a thing?
Saturday, August 30, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R14

Event: A Philosophical Journey Through A Concept By Slavoj Zizek Melville House, 182 pages, $16.95

There's an old Saturday Night Live sketch that cast Jon Lovitz as a barking, obnoxious Pablo Picasso, lazing on a restaurant patio hastily scrawling off crude doodles for passerby. He tips his waiter with a Picasso scribbled on a napkin. The joke is funny, if obvious: the value of these crude squiggles monumentally increases by dint of their Picasso-ness. "I'm Picasso!" Lovitz barks. "There's only one!"

So it is with Slavoj Zizek, the Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic whose very name has become its own marker of...well, if not quality, than a quality. The quality of the Zizekian: muddling up Hegel and Lacan and jokes about toilets; framing issues of global capital through old Hitchcock movies; fiercely oppositional (he's been hailed as the "master of the counterintuitive observation") to the point of blistering contrarianism and straight-up meaninglessness.

Given his tenuous ties to the institutionalized academic community, it's a bit ironic that Zizek hold fast to one of academia's core edicts: publish or perish. Zizek is almost implausibly prolific, churning out articles, essays, books, lectures, TV appearances, movies (like the epic 2012 essay film The Pervert's Guide to Ideology) and other brandbuilding bric-a-brac with industrial consistency.

But a consistency of output rarely correlates to the consistency of that output, and Zizek's latest sees him passing from being something like philosophy's Robert Pollard to its Danielle Steel. Event (tantalizingly subtitled: A Philosophical Journey Through A Concept) tackles the "evental" nature of political phenomena: celebrity scandals, natural disasters, the protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square, humanity's fall from prelapsarian grace and so on.

Zizek subjects this idea of "the Event" to a characteristically Zizekian battery of anti-rigour, ricocheting from Christianity to J.J. Abrams's Super 8 to Stainslaw Lem's Solaris to the structure of haikus, Cartesian subjectivity and Rosini's light operas. Only one page separates a discussion of the Holocaust from an analysis of the found-footage teen party movie Project X. And a passage pertaining to viral video phenomenon Gangnam Style, which proclaims South Korean pop singer Psy as the "new Messiah," follows just a few paragraphs after that.

The aim, which emerges through the noise like the contours of spaceship fuzzily materializing inside one of those Magic Eye puzzles, is to understand the nature of these Events in order to better grasp at how the next major Event - nothing short of the capsizing of the whole entrenched network of global capitalism and its play over the individual psyche - may transpire. Thirsty work for a volume clocking in at fewer than 200 pages.

This notion of the capital-e Event, roughly outlined as "the effect that seems to exceed its causes," seem self-evident. Think of the recent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, following a white policeman (allegedly) shooting and killing 18 year-old black man Mike Brown. Is not the ensuing fallout of protest a sort of capital-e Event, its resultant affects embodying broader tensions: America's deep-rooted racial anxiety, its more modern militarization of local police forces, etc.? Do not these protests - felt on the ground and reverberating across cyberspace to anyone following the #Ferguson hashtag - stand as expressions of what Zizek terms "the universal freedom of humanity"?

Zizek also sweats the "global process of dis-eventalization [sic] which threatens the very fundamentals of our emancipatory achievements." His key reference point here is "normalization of torture" in the critically lauded Osama bin Laden manhunt thriller Zero Dark Thirty, whose director Zizek accuses of "ethical obscenity." (Seeing Zizek, who in this book alone relies on a rape joke to make a point and repeatedly employs the pejorative term "tranny," accusing anyone of sloppy ethics feels a bit rich.)

But this idea of dis-eventalization also calls to mind, even more recently, Vladimir Putin's apparent attempt to restore the geopolitical "glory" of Soviet Russia by establishing a new ring of Moscow-controlled satellite states. Isn't Putin effectively trying to undo the Event of Soviet collapse? Or at least "reboot" (to use glossy Hollywood ad-speak) the USSR as a kind of hollow man, lacking any unifying ideology beyond nostalgia for the bygone days of Soviet communism?

Event, presumably filed in advance of these Events, offers little insight into the realties of contemporary geopolitics (except for some late-game stuff on how debt, like capitalism itself, "strives for its own expanded reproduction").

Instead of scrupulously picking apart the sorts of incidents name-checked in his introduction, Zizek gets lost down his rhetorical rabbit holes. Reading Event, even more so than a lot of its author's recent work, gives the feeling of frantically reloading the Random Article page on Wikipedia.

As has become a trademark of his work, Zizek offers little in the way of solutions, let alone something like a thoroughgoing program for realizing (and making good on) the sort of "new universality" that an authentic political Event promises. Instead, Event serves up more cutesy, boringly Zizekian dialectical U-turns.

"Division," he writes in the book's concluding chapter, "is the only path to true unity." Master of the counterintuitive observation, indeed.

Sure, there may be a certain stubborn dignity in Zizek's commitment to the "authentic political Event," and his heard-headed contempt for any compromised political reforms (the title of his 2009 volume, In Defense of Lost Causes functions as a kind of fatalistic thesis statement). But when Zizek acknowledges, in Event's final sentence, that his demanding argumentative CrossFit® workout may have left his reader "too exhausted to envisage the prospect of a political Event," it feels totally goading and cynical.

It's not the social-democratic consensus, or the dis-eventalizing forces of global capitalism, or even the perilous cycles of debt that flatten the possibilities for political revolution. It's prankster-provocateurs like Zizek, who seem to nastily savour his work's fatiguing effect on its would-be revolutionary reader. "One has to know to wait," he writes, "to not lose one's nerve." Against the forces of a global capitalist apparatus that is constantly changing, that has mutated and evolved across the twentieth and twentyfirst centuries into its own revolutionary force, maybe Zizek's advocating for a kind of radical quietism through which, as he writes in his phonebook-thick 2012 tome Everything and Nothing, "those who refuse to change anything are effectively the agents of true change."

Beyond this feeling like selfvalidating nonsense for the armchair radicals who have made Slavoj Zizek a cause célèbre-"the Elvis of cultural theory," he's been called; another totally meaningless phrase-it's hard to ignore how such sluggish prescriptivism benefits Zizek himself. Like a comedian working through a long-winded shaggy dog story, Zizek defers answers from volume to volume, essay to essay, YouTube lecture to bigticket documentary film.

What proliferates instead of the seeds of revolution is Zizek's curious celebrity, his value as a cash-cow for academic and sortaacademic publishers like Verso and MIT press increasing with each hastily-scrawled, bewilderingly rambling text. Like Lovitz's Picasso in that SNL sketch, the meaning of the work becomes reducible to its author's obnoxiously forceful assertion of its own value.

"He's Zizek!" Event seems to scream, as if it should mean anything on its own. "There's only one!"

John Semley is a regular contributor to Globe Books.

How to build a Canadian rom-com
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R9

This summer, filmmakers are grafting all kinds of unnatural things onto the ailing genre of romantic comedy, to try to revivify it - "Hey, imagine Dr. Frankenstein and Gregor Mendel crossed with Sleepless in Seattle!" There's a zombie romcom (Life After Beth, starring Aubrey Plaza), an abortion romcom (Obvious Child, which Jenny Slate co-wrote and headlines), a supernatural dramedy (The One I Love, with Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass) and a middle-aged sex farce (Sex Tape, starring Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel).

So it's a delightful surprise that the freshest, most glowing-withhealth rom-com I've seen in ages - The F Word, which opened in select cities on Friday - has a straightforward plot. Chantry (Zoe Kazan) and Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) become friends, and begin to fall in love, but there's a hitch: Chantry has a perfectly interesting boyfriend. Simple, yes - but it works. And unlike many films that purport to be romcoms, this one is both romantic and comedic.

Added bonus: It's set in Toronto, which increases its unusualness - because, let's admit it, romantic comedy is not the genre that springs to mind when you think "Canadian film." (Note: In the United States, censors deemed the title too risqué for a PG-13 rating, so the title there is What If.)

At last year's Toronto International Film Festival, and again this summer, I spent some time with The F Word's director, Michael Dowse; its screenwriter, Elan Mastai; and its leads. Not only are Kazan's eyes like blue crystal balls in which one can ponder the mysteries of life, while Radcliffe's eyebrows are as thick and friendly as Muppet fur - they also helped me figure out three important romcom rules. They're worth following, because the genre can be insanely lucrative: When Harry Met Sally, for example - another look at friends who fall in love - grossed $93-million (U.S.) back in 1989. That's, like, $2-trillion in today's dollars. Well, close.

Rule No. 1: Men fall in love, too. Why do so many filmmakers treat this genre as if only women care about relationships? Isn't "two" the minimum number required to qualify as "a relationship"? Too many romantic comedies are built on the premise that Chicks - basically, Gorgons in eyeliner, who spend their days glugging pink cocktails, mainlining pedicures, shrieking rather than speaking and believing that heaven is an eternal shopping montage - must devote their 20s to scheming, in order to trick men into marrying them. The men I know, however, are not unconscious dupes. They are willing, in fact eager, participants in love.

Radcliffe agrees. "I think men are more romantic than women, frankly," he says. "The feeling of falling in love is great on both sides. In my experience, it's mainly my male friends who go, 'I love her, I don't know what I'd do without her.' It seems to me that women can function well without men. But as soon as a man has been in a relationship for a while, if that's taken away, all functioning goes."

To summarize: Include men in your rom-coms. Not only is it true to life, it could double your box office.

Rule No. 2: Don't cheap out on the details. Classic romantic comedies generally feature swoony shots of the city in which they occur. Toronto, on the other hand, "is usually treated coldly, in greys and blues," Dowse says. So he sought out and shot romantic locations, water views, street life, sparkly lights. Seems obvious, right?

The F Word is a summer movie, so Dowse, well, shot it in summer. While this doesn't sound radical, financing a Canadian film is a Kafkaesque labyrinth, so films often shoot in November. But leafless trees and grey skies do not scream "romance." "It just doesn't look good," Dowse obvious-states.

Dowse offers more useful advice: Don't cut the extras. "In a restaurant scene, you want 40 people, not two," Dowse says. "You're better off to take less money yourself and keep that $20,000 in the extras budget. And never cut the production designer's budget."

In other words: Make your film look great, and it will pay you back.

Rule No. 3: Don't omit the falling in love part. In a baffling number of romantic comedies, the section where the leads fall for one another is glossed over in a Generic Love montage: wordless scenes of walking along the beach, feeding ducks in a park, etc. In The F Word, that montage is actually the movie. Only with words in it.

And jokes.

And because Mastai bothered to write the love stuff, we viewers can see why these two particular people like particular things about one another, and we become invested in this particular relationship. It is the opposite of The Bachelorette, where ciphers in nice clothes pose against pretty backdrops, but have nothing to say to one another. Chantry and Wallace fall in love by talking. Like people.

"That's what I loved about the script," Radcliffe says. "It's so hard to write those moments of falling in love, to write the connection. Why do these two find each other so funny? Why do they want to hang out so much? We've all been through that first flush of, 'This person likes me, I like her, this is great.' Being allowed in, as an audience, to watch that intimate, fun process unfold is a gift."

If you squander the falling-inlove part in a montage, Radcliffe continues, when the course of true love runs momentarily rough, as it must, the audience "won't have anything to latch onto about what makes this love special. You'll be indifferent to it."

And that's bad.

Furthermore, because the script takes the time to create two realish-feeling humans in a realishfeeling relationship, it earns the right to posit a Big Idea: that by falling in love with someone, you're choosing who you are, as much as choosing who you want to be with. I don't recall anything that thoughtful in, say, Bride Wars.

It's also important in a romcom that the "com" is organic rather than tacked on. Remarkably, no one in The F Word needs to fall into a puddle to get laughs.

"The characters use the comedy as a way to flirt and get closer," Dowse says. "The more they take the piss out of each other, the more they're saying to each other, 'I love you' or 'I forgive you.' Instead of trying to build the moment with editing, we tried to capture the moment with writing and acting."

"Watching people connect is endlessly fascinating," Mastai says. "In the absence that, we'll take other stuff - car chases and explosions and nudity. But to me those merely fill in the gaps of what we actually want, which is to watch people try to communicate."

So please, filmmakers, spread the love. Because I don't think I can watch another rom-com in which a Mean Girl behaves dementedly until, I don't know, a bird poops on her, which humbles her into earning the love of a featureless Mr. Right - but only after she buys just the cutest pair of teal snakeskin stilettos.

Associated Graphic

The romance between Daniel Radcliffe's Wallace and Zoe Kazan's Chantry in The F World develops, like any normal couple, through talking.

Time incarnate
Nothing reveals the slow, steady march of years like seeing your children grow. A child, Sarah Hampson writes, is a physical truth that cannot be denied
Friday, August 29, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1

A little truth about how children are the ones who mark the passage of time for us came home to me a month ago.

I was at a party in one of those beloved places where time seems to stand still. In the summer months, many of us escape to such places - by a sea, by a river, a lake, up in the mountains. And often, a lot of effort is put into keeping these places the same as they have been for generations, not just for the sake of tradition, but in service to the longing for nostalgia.

It's a comfort to know some things don't change, but that's not the only reason. In preserving a place the way we first experienced it, we remain young. Or think we do, anyway. If the physical environment is the same, there's no external cue to remind us that time has passed (aside from looking in a mirror, of course). And we all know how hard many people work on outwitting that annoying little reality check.

But there's no denying the physical truth of a child. He is yours. You are his parent. He is not a baby; not any longer, anyway. And the reality of that is all there, right in your face: the 6-foot-5 bearded presence of him, glass of wine in hand, giving you that calm, knowing look of connection, love and familiarity that often passes between parent and child.

A child's maturation into adulthood is every parent's personal physical manifestation of that abstract thing many of us would like to deny and sometimes think we don't have to obey. He is time incarnate. And that's why a friend of mine, whom I have known since I was about 14, looked across the room of this particular party at my youngest son, whom I had pointed out, and said, "I feel like I'm in a time warp." Not a time warp back, but forward, he meant. This friend has never married, never had children. He doesn't have the benefit of offspring as markers of time. For him, it could still be the summer of 1971 if it weren't for the grown children of his contemporaries to prove it isn't.

Now, with another summer coming to an end and a new school year starting, children move up one more notch on the maturation scale. School is the wall against which you measure their growth. Sure, birthdays tell us they're older. But there's nothing like a new school year to remind us that they're zooming through childhood.

When my three boys were in elementary and high school, I often treated summer as a fleeting infatuation. I would be eager for it to arrive, to release us all from school-related schedules and projects, and equally eager for it to go away after I'd had enough of it.

But there were some years when I wished to hang onto it a little longer, to stay in its embrace. It had been so good, so much fun that I wasn't ready to leave it behind.

But now I think that part of that sad leave-taking of summer, when I felt it, was because I knew that when school started up again, my children would seem to have magically leapfrogged ahead in time, closer to that day when they wouldn't need me so much. One minute, your child needs you to help tie his shoelaces, and the next he's learning algebra equations you no longer know how to solve.

The children feel the graduation too, of course. That's why they'll drop your hand, which they've been holding firmly, when the two of you come within sight of the school gate on that first day of Grade 1.

The brilliance of Richard Linklater's ground-breaking film Boyhood is in this truth about children and time. During the 12 years of filming, we see the boy, Mason (Ellar Coltrane), and his sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) grow up before our eyes.

The parents, played by Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette, change and age, too. They get a little heavier sometimes, a little more wrinkled, greyer. But it is the transformation of the children, and especially of Mason, from innocent boy to young man, that is so moving.

"The days are long but the years are short," Gretchen Rubin, the happiness guru and author, has written about parenthood. To have a movie make 12 years into 165 minutes, to have that crucial passage of a boy's and his parents' lives captured and told in one sitting, was startling and instructive. For one thing, the movie is an affirmation for parents everywhere that no family is perfect, and need not be for the children to be okay. Mason's parents are divorced, and his mother goes through two subsequent relationships that don't end well.

But the thing with the most impact was realizing that the process of growing up is really just a series of moments - between siblings, between child and parent, between a boy and his friends, his teacher and the people who happen to come into his life and make a difference. Some moments are tender, some are ordinary, some are dull. They're not big moments, but little ones, the side moments to the predictable ones of birthdays, losing one's virginity and having that first drink or toke.

And the message of the film seems to simply be that time passes, that the sum of those moments is greater than any of them seemed to be at the time, that the children grow up through their own actions, and that it's our job as parents just to weather the difficult or uncertain moments, to be calm, to keep on loving them no matter what. The movie is a perfect counterbalance to the prevailing parenting culture that insists upon perfection and constant intervention in order for the children to become functioning adults.

In his memoir, Love Life, actor Rob Lowe writes movingly about his son going off to college, how happy and sad it is all at the same time. "We put in this time together; we built this thing we have of comfort and love," he writes.

That's what parenthood is all about: putting in the time to see them over that jagged path to maturity. It is rarely smooth. I don't think it's meant to be. When Mason goes off to college at the end of the movie, entering his dorm room, I cried. I wasn't expecting to. But Linklater's genius is in making the audience feel like Mason's parents, having seen him grow up.

And you think, well, he's on his own now. His mom did her best. His dad did, too. Day after day. Year after year. It's a period of time you can't recreate or make up for once it has passed. You're just in it, fully, until you're not.

Associated Graphic

Globe readers as kids, clockwise from top left: Kerry Kunz, Calgary; Mary Mondoux, Toronto; Amanda and Tigger the cat, Ottawa.

We asked Globe readers to share photos of themselves from the past. Here are some of our favourites. Bottom left: Susan Willms and family, Toronto. Bottom right: Martine on her bicycle, Toronto.

Under a big top populated by humanoid creatures and extraterrestrial sea life, the storied company's 30th-anniversary show manages both to defy logic and be utterly real. Lee Marshall goes backstage
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R5

Everyone backstage calls Cirque du Soleil a family, but it's never more obvious than when director Michel Laprise is around. It's half an hour before a Friday matinee and so many performers in makeup come to hug and greet Laprise that his cheeks are marked with lipstick and green glitter.

Back in Montreal after a month travelling to Japan, China, Las Vegas and Toronto (where he spent three days dancing at WorldPride), Laprise is excited to watch his show, Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities, again. Throughout its first month this past spring, the director had been sitting in the audience almost every day. Today, along with a dark denim jacket emblazoned with the company's insignia, he wears an indefatigable smile - he is inviting every single person backstage to a party at his house on the weekend.

Laprise's directorial debut reinvents Cirque du Soleil, the Canadian entertainment company that is celebrating its 30th birthday this year. "I know the house, so I know how to challenge the rules," says Laprise, who started working with Cirque in 2000, first in casting and then in special events. "I don't want us to be sleepy; we have to be awake all the time."

Kurios certainly keeps the audience wide awake. Beneath the yellow- and blue-striped grand chapiteau, the show takes place in an alternate steampunk reality where a mad scientist transports an ensemble cast of mechanical, aquatic and humanoid creatures into his laboratory from a parallel dimension.

Invention plays a starring roll, from what was then new technology, like the airplane, to innovations on circus classics: a puppet show where a human hand is a creature that breakdances and rides a hot-air balloon; a big top where the performers are invisible; and a balancing routine with an antigravity, upside-down twist. Kurios is beguiling because it's more clever than merely deathdefying (although, beware, a few acts will induce popcorn stresseating). It captivates with novelty, evoking that same feeling of wonder Laprise says he experienced when he spied on a Cirque du Soleil dress rehearsal as a little boy.

Backstage - an ecosystem that supports 107 people on tour, 150 local hires in every new city, and comes complete with generators, cafeteria, laundry rooms and a medical centre - is equally remarkable. Every effortlessly polished performance belies the endless practice and personal sacrifice that is a prerequisite of life with the circus.

For many in the family, joining the company has been a lifelong dream. Australian Nathan Dennis started trampoline when he was nine, after watching Cirque's Saltimbanco, which ran for more than 20 years before closing in 2002. "It was never my goal to go to the Olympics or the World Championships," he says. "It was always, when I was old enough, audition for Cirque." For Dennis, the dream came full circle when he was cast in the same show. "I don't think I celebrated. I think I went straight to the gym to train," he says, laughing.

The acrobat toured with Saltimbanco for six years before joining Kurios when rehearsals began in January. In this new production, he is part of the Acro Net act, which features a net that stretches across the stage and allows acrobats dressed as extraterrestrial fish to jump to breathtaking heights, launched by the weight of other performers, their bioluminescent fins flapping slightly in the breeze.

Polish performer Lidia Kaminska plays the accordion in Kurios, a skill she has been perfecting since first picking up the instrument when she was nine.

She toured with Alegria for over four years before signing on with Kurios. "The show is always different," Kaminska says. "Seeing the acts is very inspiring every day - it's like real people doing unreal things."

Her own performance is anything but ordinary - even on the days she has two shows, she will practise for an hour or two before curtain. "It's never enough actually. There's always more practice to do," she says.

Kaminska describes the music played by the seven-piece band as "gypsy jazz." Along with electrical and mechanical sound effects - gears turning, clocks chiming, light bulbs buzzing - the musicians drive the show, even literally, conducting a locomotive around the audience.

Sixty per cent of the Kurios performers have been in a Cirque show before; many left ongoing productions, taking a reduced training salary for months because they wanted to contribute to something new.

But, at least for Kaminska and Dennis, the hardest part of the job is maintaining relationships outside of the Cirque family.

Kaminska has a husband who lives in Philadelphia. Dennis wants to settle down one day. "I think this will be my last show," he says. "I want to stay here a few years, but then I want to go somewhere and do personal training and coaching."

It's also a job that is extremely taxing on the body. Ryan Murray, an American acrobat in the Acro Net act with Dennis, hurt a toe during morning rehearsal, and is sitting out today's show, watching from backstage for the first time in some 80 performances. Greek singer Eirini Tornesaki, whose supernatural voice drives Kurios, is also sitting out her first show, to rest her vocal cords. It's unfortunate timing; she is expecting a friend in the audience.

Laprise says these last few days in Montreal will be the hardest on everyone. They've been rehearsing since January, and opened in April without a real break - but there will be some rest time between upcoming stops on their two-year North American tour.

Work days might just be longest for British general stage manager Alan Parry. "Stage management, we're the first in and we're the last to leave," he says. Parry joined Cirque 12 years ago as a stagehand, operating trap doors for the show Dralion, before working his way up the ranks. "It's more than a job. It's a life choice; I mean, we live on tour. For the last 10 years, I haven't had a home anywhere," he says.

In Parry's view, what makes Cirque unique is that the performers are involved with everything from applying their own makeup to executing set changes - including pedalling out the giant hand that is the performance pedestal for a group of contortionists who undulate like sparkling eels.

The cast's wardrobe, by Philippe Guillotel, mixes old-fashioned design - bathing costumes, short trousers and top hats - with fantasy. Full-body robot shells look equal parts alien and insect; an accordion suit moves and sounds like its musical model.

Laprise intentionally created a show around a mostly human cast of characters - that's also different from other Cirque shows, which emphasize the mystical and imaginary. Of course, there are elements of both in Kurios - but it's more about connection. "When you write a show that is going to last," says Laprise, "you have to have a language that is universal, that is profoundly human."

Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities runs in Toronto from Aug. 28 to Oct. 26.

Associated Graphic

Kurios comprises a complex ecosystem that supports 107 people on tour and 150 local hires in every new city. Unfolding in a parallel dimension, the show aims to evoke the feeling of wonder that director Michel Laprise (pictured at bottom) experienced when he spied on a Cirque du Soleil dress rehearsal as a little boy.


Risking failure to make something new
Ryan Reynolds and Atom Egoyan rise from the ash in The Captive
Saturday, August 30, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R3

Neither man would claim to have a perfect track record when it comes to making movies. Actor Ryan Reynolds experienced one very public flame-out in 2011, when his potential superhero franchise The Green Lantern failed to ignite; and another two years later, when his ghostcop movie R.I.P.D. was dead on arrival. Director Atom Egoyan's last film, the true-crime tale Devil's Knot, came on the heels of four documentaries about the same subject, and had many viewers scratching their heads about why he bothered.

But neither was prepared for the vitriol that came their way when their joint effort, The Captive - a new drama about a girl who is kidnapped and imprisoned for eight years, and her parents, who can't escape their rage and sorrow - screened in the prestigious, 18-film competition section at the Cannes Film Festival last May. At a morning press screening, some critics left early; others booed. A few scathing reviews appeared immediately, and more piled on.

"I wasn't at that screening, so I don't quite know what happened," Egoyan said in an interview this week. "But I've read those reviews, and one cannot deny there were awful, virulent, extreme reactions." Egoyan wonders if the material was too troubling (the girl's captor is part of a pedophile ring). A friend who attended the press screening posits that the movie felt flawed, and out-classed by the other competition films.

Either way, Egoyan went to the gala premiere that night with low hopes. He gathered his actors - Reynolds and Mireille Enos, who play the girl's parents; and Rosario Dawson, who plays a police investigator - into a room beforehand, and said to them, "We had a troubled response this morning, so this won't go as we thought." He'd heard the sound in Cannes before: the seats clacking as audience members up and left. Though he wouldn't hear it that night - in fact, the film received a standing ovation - "the whole screening was awful for me," Egoyan admits. "I kept waiting for the moment people would start booing and leaving." Audiences can soon judge for themselves: The film opens in select cities on Friday.

For me, there's only one reason to loathe a film, and that's if I feel the filmmakers have disdain for their audience. The Captive doesn't qualify; it's clear that Egoyan is trying to say something meaningful about the effect of time on grief, anger and love. In our interview, he keeps drifting into extended, presenttense descriptions of the characters and their fates, as if he wants to convince me to care about them, as if they're real people he's still puzzling out. (Example: Discussing Scott Speedman's character, a cop who believes Reynolds killed his daughter, Egoyan says, "He makes a major transgression - even though he says he has permission, which I don't believe for a second.")

Egoyan's script for The Captive was triggered by real-life cases - a boy who'd gone missing in Victoria (where Egoyan was raised) whose birthday is celebrated every year by parents who are still waiting for him to return; and the four-year investigation of an alleged, high-profile pedophile ring in Cornwall, Ont., that ended in 2009. It's also the latest in a string of Egoyan's films that deal with children in peril - a subject that's gripped him since his 20s, when he learned that a close female friend had been abused by her father for years, without Egoyan ever suspecting it.

"I had no idea that was possible," he says now. "And her father was this very charismatic public figure. Maybe that gives my films their tone. It's a particular way of seeing a situation, where I'm trying to understand how it could be sustained.

There's this process of enchantment, somehow. The Sweet Hereafter, Exotica, even Felicia's Journey - they feel like dark fables because that's the world the abuser has to create. It's a distorted, malevolent version of a myth that we're all raised with, the notion of love being this separate world."

Reynolds, who was born in Vancouver in 1976, grew up revering Egoyan, and was "thrilled" to finally work with him. "Atom never eliminates possibility," he said in a phone interview, where he was a master of the light joke and the modest self-putdown. "He's creatively generous. You can approach his scenes, involving dark subject matter, from any angle, and Atom welcomes it. Someone said to me that a great director listens to his movie, and that's him."

Reynolds's work here, as a grieving father who's also simmering with rage, is some of the best he's done, but he admits that his career has been "all over the place. I've never rooted myself in any genre or size of film. Part of that is a success story, and part probably highlights a lack of success."

He started working at 13. "I ostensibly should be on my fourth rehab by now, and my sixth mug shot, but I've managed to buck some odds," he says. "I was never a star as a kid. In my 20s, I loved working, travelling, and riding motorcycles too much to use that time to get high or shitfaced. And I had good parents, and three older brothers. My father and one brother are cops.

We didn't spend our days screwing around in our house; we were either putting one foot in front of the other or sleeping." He's learned not to get too wrapped up in his characters, because "you're unbearable if you do. I couldn't do that to my friends and my wife." (He's married to actress Blake Lively, and was married for three years to Scarlett Johansson.) He's worked with actors who do get caught up, "and it's tough," he continues. "I once stood across from a guy in the lunch line who was giving me the hairy eyeball because his character didn't like mine. I just wanted to say, 'Why don't you put the Greek salad down and take a few deep breaths?' " He's learned to control the things he can, and "let go of everything else."

So, though it stings when a movie of his doesn't work - "especially a movie like Green Lantern, that's created exclusively to cater to an outcome" - Reynolds has realized that career valleys can lead to opportunities he might not have found if he'd had to spend the next six years pumping iron in the gym and making sequels. "If Green Lantern had made a billion dollars, I don't know that I would have had the strength of character to challenge myself beyond that," he says.

And isn't that what film should be: a challenge? I'd much rather watch a movie that tries to engage with me, even if it doesn't succeed, than one that wants me to stop thinking. True movie lovers accept that some have to fail. Because risking failure is the only way to make something new.

Associated Graphic

In Atom Egoyan's The Captive, Ryan Reynolds, here with Alexia Fast, plays a grieving father who's simmering with rage after his daughter disappears.

Simulcast overshadows Canadian content
Saturday, August 30, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R8

There's no shortage of drama premiering on Canadian television this fall: CTV has the Batman backstory Gotham; Global has NCIS: New Orleans, the latest spinoff in a growing procedural franchise, and even hockey-mad City has the social comedy Black-ish. Of course, all of these programs, plus many other new and returning prime-time offerings, are U.S. shows that are being broadcast in the same time slots as they appear on the U.S. networks where they originate. That's simulcasting: The life-giving elixir - or dangerous narcotic - of commercial Canadian television.

Elixir because federal regulations allow the Canadian networks to drop their ads into the competing U.S. signals when they simulcast, thus permitting them to generate ad revenue off the most-watched programs on TV. (Canadians occasionally complain about the practice, known in the industry as simultaneous substitution or sim sub - particularly during the Super Bowl, when they miss the bigbudget U.S. ads created for that event.) And narcotic because the system hooks the Canadian networks on U.S. shows and U.S. schedules, dampening their appetite for commissioning Canadian programs and forcing those shows into marginal Saturday-night or summertime slots. So, what would Canadian TV look like if we killed off simulcasting?

That used to be a question posed only by starry-eyed idealists, critics barely acknowledged by an industry that currently estimates it makes about $250million in direct ad revenue off simulcast shows and could lose up to $460-million in total ad revenue if it could no longer build prime-time schedules around the Hollywood hits.

But as Internet television and the Netflix model make the very notion of a prime-time schedule seem a bit quaint, the simulcasting question is finally getting some respect: The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has put it on the agenda for its "Let's Talk TV" hearings that start on Sept. 8, asking Canadians what the future of TV should look like and, among many other questions, whether sim sub should go.

The three main commercial broadcasting groups, which have been crying poor ever since the 2009 recession took a bite out of ad revenues, are predictably opposed and have told the CRTC so in interventions they have filed leading up to the hearing.

They even banded together to commission the report that provides that $460-million estimate of lost revenue, a big increase from the $200-million that previous studies have associated with sim sub - and which the CRTC itself points out is not actually that much money.

"Elimination would irrevocably change the Canadian television system and shake the very foundations of an already structurally challenged local television business," Bell Media (which owns CTV) told the CRTC, while Shaw Communications (which owns Global) said that sim sub was critical to the economic viability of all Canadian television.

The industry has always argued that sim sub protects costly program rights: Why would you pay for the right to broadcast NCIS: New Orleans on Global in Canada if Canadian viewers can just as easily watch it on CBS?

The trouble is that the Canadian networks' spending on those U.S. shows just keeps rising: As a percentage of their revenues, it has more than doubled over the past 20 years, according to the CRTC's numbers. Sim sub was instituted by the commission in 1971, part of a series of clever Canadian cultural policy moves aimed at repatriating ad dollars that might be lost when Canadians consume American media. The idea was that financially healthy cultural industries would have more money with which to create Canadian content, but in television the system increasingly seems to protect the businesses rather than advance the policy objective.

"Forty-three years later are we any further ahead? We have reduced Canadian-content requirements," said Monica Auer, executive director of the non-profit Forum for Research and Policy in Communications, in an interview. "We have an opportunity to wean ourselves from American content.... If we are not going to do it now, when are we going to do it? Are we just going to say, 'It's really hard?' "

Auer's group is one of the rare intervenors that actually recommends pulling the needle out of the industry's arm. Not that the Forum isn't offering some methadone: It suggests a gradual withdrawal of the sim sub capability in prime time, but also a significant change to Canadian content requirements. It would reduce them from the current 50 per cent in prime time to a mere 35 per cent, but stipulate that this quota must be exclusively devoted to drama, the prestigious but expensive program category policy-makers have always tried to encourage. (Canadian dramas on commercial networks are already publicly subsidized through grants to producers, but the Forum's demanding plan also throws in some extra funding mechanisms.)

Under the scheme, a CTV or Global prime-time schedule would have to feature several Canadian dramas on weeknights. Right now, those schedules often rely on their newscasts and entertainment magazines (busily hyping American stars) for their Cancon quota. No one is suggesting they would abandon U.S. shows, just that there might be one fewer CSI every night and one more Orphan Black, the Canadian sci-fi hit that currently airs Fridays on CTV.

Would the beleaguered broadcasters just go bankrupt? Maybe.

But maybe they would be forced, in a global era in which Canadians can get any TV content they want anywhere, any time, to finally define themselves as significantly different from their U.S. counterparts.

Maybe they would stop needing the sim sub protection if they created a niche for Canadian commercial television that would lure Canadians just as reliably as Canadian music and Canadian beer do.

In Australia, where the local TV culture benefits greatly from the huge geographic distance from the United States, commercial television offers lots of imported Hollywood drama but also a lot of Australian soaps, comedy, reality shows and even the occasional made-in-Oz drama.

That leaves the public broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Corp., with a clearly defined role providing most of the drama and documentaries as well as nurturing comedy shows (the most popular of which are often poached by the commercial networks). In Canada, the removal of sim sub might clarify everybody's role, encouraging the birth of genuinely Canadian commercial television as well as the rebirth of the CBC as a genuinely public broadcaster.

That's probably more starryeyed idealism: It's hard to think the CRTC, which tends to favour the business arguments of incumbents, is really countenancing a policy move that the major broadcasters so strongly oppose.

In launching Let's Talk TV, the commission has thrown all sorts of options up in the air; most public discussion of the hearings will focus on the very popular notions of pick-and-pay cable pricing and a cheaper, slimmeddown basic cable. The CRTC expects to issue its findings early next year and then we'll discover whether it took the broadcasters' sacred cow out of the barn to shoot it - or just to pat it on the head and give it another handful of hay.

Associated Graphic

Advocates hope the CRTC will mandate more room for Canadian shows like Orphan Black, starring Tatiana Maslany.

More and more families are choosing an urban lifestyle. Now they're waiting for the services they need to catch up
Friday, August 22, 2014 – Print Edition, Page G1

Eight years ago, Hazel Liau's husband bought a 1,268square-foot, pre-construction condo in the CityPlace complex at Spadina Avenue and Front Street.

He spent two years in his bachelor pad before Ms. Liau moved in. Now, the two-bedroom-plus den unit is a family home for the couple, their two daughters, a French bulldog and a school of saltwater fish in a 300-gallon tank.

Their evolution has been mirrored in the neighbourhood around them.

"It feels like the kid population has maybe tripled in the past four years," says Ms. Liau, 33, who's currently on maternity leave with her eight-month-old second daughter.

She's almost right. Between 2006 and 2011, her Trinity-Spadina ward has seen a 20-per-cent jump in the number of under-five yearold residents - and since the majority of the ward lives in multiunit buildings, it's safe to say a whole lot of those kids live in condos.

Toronto's condo boom has kicked off a real-time experiment in ultra-urban living, and one of the most controversial aspects of the shift is whether the city is ready for the influx of high-rise families like Ms. Liau's.

With 21 buildings and roughly 7,500 units, CityPlace is perhaps the fastest-burbling test tube of them all. Ever since the developer Concord Adex began dropping towers onto the site in 2000, CityPlace has taken a lot of criticism for lacking sufficient infrastructure or amenities for its population. In some ways, the neighbourhood is catching up: In exchange for allowing extrahigh towers, the city got developers around the Fort York neighbourhood to kick in cash to build parks, like the Canoe Landing splash pad that Ms. Liau's daughters love, and a modern, high-tech library that opened earlier this year to an immediate influx of condo-dwelling families. "We use it all the time - everything's so new," says Ms. Liau.

Like many of her neighbours, Ms. Liau says she prefers a small downtown space to a big suburban home: She grew up in Brampton and spent much of her 20s commuting the 90 minutes there and back. Here, her husband can walk to his office in the Eaton Centre, while she can take her daughter to Mandarinlanguage preschool in Chinatown on foot. Ms. Liau also says that part of the draw are the child-friendly amenities offered in her complex, like a movie theatre for holding birthday parties, a swimming pool that lets her bypass the waiting lists for city recreation programs, and an indoor playground, which was especially appreciated during this past brutal winter.

But the air-drop of new people into already-busy neighbourhoods definitely brings problems. The snarl of traffic in, out and past CityPlace is formidable - cars, bicycles and pedestrians all act independently, regardless of the stop lights - and it's not the only capacity issue the neighbourhood is grappling with. Here, and in neighbourhoods from High Park to Yonge and Sheppard, condo parents are dismayed to learn that their kids might not automatically get into the high-rated schools in their district, because there just isn't room. Two new schools are being built to handle the influx from CityPlace and other Fort York condos, but in the interim, there will be a whole lot of busing.

Ensuring his daughter's smooth transition into a local school is part of why Andrew Geldard is currently renting an apartment in the Junction while waiting for his condo to be built. "That way, if she starts school before it's ready, she'll already be in the right one," said the 37year-old, who bought a 1,000square-foot unit in the Duke condos, a seven-storey apartment and townhouse complex at the corner of Dundas Street West and Indian Grove Avenue. The building is slated to be ready for occupancy at the end of 2015. By that time, Mr. Geldard's daughter will be almost five, and his son will be just over two years old.

Mr. Geldard and his wife spent a few months casually looking for a house before accepting that ground-floor real estate is currently too much for their budget, and anxiety levels. "There's all this frantic panicking that you have to do to win a house," he says of Toronto's current market, which is rife with bidding wars and competition. "We nearly made one bid and pulled out. I felt like a rabbit in the headlights."

As a senior designer with Quadrangle Architects - which is working with the developer TAS on the Duke - Mr. Geldard knew firsthand that the building's floor plans truly maximized the small space. It helps that he grew up in a narrow townhouse in England, though he does wish he had a "garden" for his kids to play in. Part of why he and his wife like the Junction is the proximity to parks: the wading pool at Vine Avenue makes it a favourite. Choosing an apartment as his starter home was a compromise, but it's one he thinks can work for the present time. "A condo seems like the stepping stone to a bigger property in the future," he says.

One major drawback for families considering condos has been the lack of larger units on the market, leading them to command prices comparable to smaller homes (especially once maintenance fees are added in).

Having noticed the demand, some developers are finally responding. Duke developer TAS has just launched a new mid-rise building, Kingston&Co, east of Main Street in the upper Beaches. Toronto's average condo size is 800 square feet - more than half of the units in Kingston&Co are that big or larger, with the biggest ones bordering on 1,600 square feet. Many units have eight-foot-deep terraces, with sizes from 160 to 520 square feet, and most are split into two or three bedrooms. TAS cheif executive and president Mazyar Mortazavi says these design decisions were made purposely to attract families.

"The units have the kind of space you need to keep a vacuum in, so you're not always running to your basement locker," says Mr. Mortazavi. He knows that many people choose condos over houses because of economic constraints, but says the upside of that is the decision to remain in downtown neighbourhoods. The goal is to make Kingston a building that appeals to buyers from singletons to parents to retirees. Rather than a condo, Mr. Mortazavi hopes they'll consider the seven-storey building a "home in a multiuse environment" - one they can stay in as they transition through life stages.

Ms. Liau says that her family will need more square footage at some point, but while her husband is set on a house, she'd consider another condo. "We'll probably move in a year or two," she says, "and I want to stay as central as possible."

Associated Graphic

Andrew Geldard, his wife Dionne Hingston, daughter Mea, 3, and son Ethan, 1, play together in their Junction-area apartment.


Andrew Geldard and Dionne Hingston bought a downtown condo after rejecting the frantic resale market.


This one's big
Construction is soon to begin on Vancouver House and the impact - stylistic, economic and cultural - is just beginning to be felt
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S5

Construction on Vancouver House will begin in the next four months and as it goes up, so, too, will the city's cachet as one of those places worthy of world-class architecture.

We've all seen the renderings of the tower that appears to twist, and few dispute that Vancouver House is a thing of beauty. It's also going up in a downtown location at Beach and Howe that needed a serious jolt of life, in a tight wedge of space darkened by a bridge off-ramp; a dead zone dominated by traffic and perilous for pedestrians.

Once finished, by 2018, Vancouver House will be the sort of sculptural building that lands in the pages of international architecture and design books. Sales of the 388 units began just three weeks ago, and the tower is already half-sold.

Developer Ian Gillespie believes sales are driven by the fact that the tower is unique, and has the lustre of being a Bjarke Ingels project. Since he hired Mr. Ingels for the job, the young Danish architect's demand has soared. He and Mr. Gillespie already have other projects in the works.

"Every city needs to have some special moments that take your breath away, that say to you, 'Okay, this is something unique. This is something beautiful,' " says Mr. Gillespie, the man behind Westbank Projects Corp. "And you can't have too much of that, because then it's not special. But you do need two or three or four special moments in a mature skyline, and Vancouver lacks that."

The tower appears to defy gravity, a top-heavy shape that ascends from a triangular base. It will be more than 500 feet tall and yet its foundation only 6,000 square feet.

"The total floor plate above is about 13,000 square feet, so your building is twice as heavy up top," says director of sales Jason Dolker. "It's the reverse of the usual building that gets skinnier and skinner as it goes up."

It wasn't a creation driven by ego, or the "edifice complex" that drives development in cities such as Dubai and elsewhere, insists Mr. Gillespie.

"This wasn't some attempt at being extravagant or trying to shock people into some crazy form," he says. "Instead, the form came out of the constraints."

As part of its $4-million amenities contribution, Westbank is building a market-style area under the nearby Granville Street Bridge. The project includes stores, restaurants and office space and 95 market rental apartments.

There's also a public art component, with Rodney Graham's spinning chandelier, located at market level. Over the course of the day, the chandelier will slowly descend and at 9 p.m. spin rapidly, then slowly ascend again.

Mr. Ingels, 39 - who was introduced to Mr. Gillespie by former city planning director Brent Toderian - has been directly involved in the design of the faucets, the copper backsplashes, the kitchen islands that are shaped like the building, an infinity pool, the lobby couch that resembles stacked sand bags, and floating mailboxes designed to encourage conversation between residents.

"There is a strong link between architecture and interiors, like some of the features in the architecture repeat in the interior design," says Bjarke Ingels Group partner Thomas Christoffersen, who met with Mr. Gillespie in Vancouver this week. "We are doing a lot of customized items, such as built-in furniture."

Like most major projects, it hasn't been without its controversy. Eyebrows have been raised about marketing to global purchasers. An influx of foreign money, mostly from China, has helped push Vancouver home prices so high as to make affordability an ongoing issue for a city where the average household income is among the lowest for a major North American metropolis. Locals are tired of competing with offshore money for a share of the real estate pie. It's typical for marketers to target overseas buyers, but for locals, it's a sensitive topic.

Westbank began its official marketing launch with real estate agent events in Vancouver in April. The company, which has offices in Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong, then marketed the tower in Asia in June. It also marketed the project in New York, London and Beverly Hills.

When asked what he thinks of the unease with foreign ownership, Mr. Gillespie is forthright.

"I think it is a very provincial attitude," he says. "And Vancouver is one of only four cities in the world where 40 per cent of the population is born outside of Canada. The second thing I would say is that the foreign buyer is buying a unit that creates hundreds of construction jobs. That buyer closes on the unit, and then pays thousands and thousands of dollars a year in property taxes, and doesn't use infrastructure that those property taxes pay for. If that's the worst-case scenario, then maybe we have bigger problems."

Mr. Gillespie says we also need to define the meaning of "foreign owner."

"The majority [of units] will sell to local residents of Vancouver," he says. "And I don't know where the numbers will shake out, but 35 to 40 per cent will sell overseas. And at the end of the day, most of those people already are Canadian citizens.

About 90 per cent of the buyers in Hong Kong already have Canadian citizenship. Is it foreign because they don't carry a passport? What does foreign even mean? In today's world, what do those concepts mean?" As for the potential empty condo issue, Mr. Gillespie says that the number of empty condos typically shrink as the residents settle in. Wealthy global purchasers are often transient.

"These buildings mature and as they mature, the ownership of the units gravitates to people who are owner/occupiers," he says. "I could point out building after building that has been through the same pattern.

Because what happens is, you are a buyer from Singapore, and you buy a unit in Vancouver, and why do you buy that unit? They never, ever buy just on speculation. They don't buy to flip it.

Those days are gone 10 or 20 years ago. Our market doesn't go cyclical up and down. It's a very steady market. They buy because they think it's going to be a second home or because they have a child who will go to UBC, or because they are thinking of leaving Hong Kong because they are worried about air pollution.

And the ones who don't end up coming, it's because their kid who they thought was going to UBC decides to be a rock star.

Instead, they end up renting the unit out.

"But in those years they are paying property taxes, and supporting the City of Vancouver. So in the whole scheme of things in a city that will continue to blossom over the next century, why worry about something like a building not being occupied in next three or four years?"

Associated Graphic

Ian Gillespie, left, seen with Bjarke Ingels, insists Vancouver House wasn't a creation driven by an 'edifice complex.'


Thoughts on depression from an artistic mind
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R3

I admire the (temporary?) openness about depression that is being displayed in the media and online in the wake of Robin Williams's suicide, and I want to add my two cents. My credentials are that I am a fellow sufferer, and have experienced depression (and its knife-wielding twin, anxiety) since I was an adolescent. I have been hospitalized for it, medicated for it (with both licit and illicit drugs), and I've had various therapies as well.

Like cancer, depression kills a certain amount of its victims; like cancer, it's an illness, not a weakness. Even so, I am ashamed to admit that I am a sufferer, which means I find it easy to internalize as well as somehow externalize - through my own silence - the attitude that depression is a failure of strength or character.

I am not an expert in the causes of depression, only an expert in the experience of it, and after four or so decades living with the illness, I know a few things about it:

There's no cure, only remission. People who suffer from depression (not "normal unhappiness," which was the goal of Freud's talking cure), are never fully out of danger because it is depression's nature to recur. Sufferers of depression have "episodes" the same way those who suffer from multiple sclerosis do.

It comes, wipes the floor with you, and then somehow returns you to the world. But it comes back.

Depressives don't make themselves sick. They don't choose depression. They may have a cognitive leaning toward interpreting events and feelings in a certain way, but they don't choose to get or stay depressed. The fact that it runs in families should indicate to fair-minded people that it has a genetic aspect as well. You may get your blue eyes from your father and your blue feelings from him as well. Recent research even suggests that ancestral trauma may be coded genetically, thereby passing a predisposition for mood disorders down through the generations.

Depression is a surfeit of empathy - a killing empathy - that makes depressives great friends to everyone but themselves. Having a self is a rough business and depressives can empathize with others who have to deal with it, but not with themselves. Fundamentally, people who suffer from this illness can give love, but when suffering from it, they can't accept it. That doesn't mean they don't need it, only that they believe they don't deserve it.

The only treatment is exercise and work. Many depressives become expert walkers. Solvitur ambulando - Latin for "it is solved by walking" - has profound application for depression. I think therapy would be more effective if the therapist and the patient had their sessions while walking, briskly, around a park.

Work equates to purpose, something that depressives think they lack. Working gives lie to the feeling of purposelessness and combats it.

Suicidal thoughts become suicidal action when the thought of your loved ones arranged around your grave is no longer a deterrent. When a depressive who wants to die thinks of the suffering it will cause others, it's a restraint, but it also feels like a trap. It's the last barrier between them and eternity, which the depressed person longs for. Once the idea of others' pain is trumped by their own, a peace descends and suicide is often inevitable. I'm not arguing for suicide, only acknowledging its draw. In a terrible way, self-murder is an act of self-love. It ends someone's suffering.

The only thing you can do for someone who is depressed is to be around them and love them despite their illness. Living with a depressive is a bloody nightmare.

They say things they don't mean, about themselves and others.

They cancel dinners. They won't look you in the eye. They use the words "always" and "never" liberally. The symptoms of depression often seem like they're directed at you. But it's not personal. If you can accept this, you'll be doing the most you can for the sufferer in your life. Be silent and useful and remember it's not about you.

Touch helps. Get a massage. Give a massage. If you can, make love to a depressed person.

Touch is primitive. Your reaction to it is in your reptile brain, but your thoughts are happening somewhere else. Touch creates some distance between the body and the self. Depressives are excellent in bed if you can convince them to take off their pyjamas.

The culprit is the mind. I think, therefore I am, said Descartes.

Therein lies the problem. Some depressives conclude, as Robin Williams did this past week, that not thinking and not being is preferable to the alternative. I'm shattered that he lost his battle, but I'm also glad he's free of his pain. If you have lost someone to depression, or another mood disorder, be aware that your love was enough. You couldn't have prevented their death and there's nothing you should have done differently. The suicide's logic has nothing in common with yours.

In the end, death makes mad, perfect sense to them.

Depression is a byproduct of consciousness, and addiction is a byproduct of depression. No one is depressed when they're asleep, which is why being in bed is such a safe place if you're really down.

The reason so many intelligent and creative people suffer from depression is that when you take the risk of being fully conscious, you open Pandora's box and you can't close it again. Alcohol, drugs, and addictive behaviours are a bulwark against what's in the box. They say people with addictions are escaping pain as if that's a foolish or illogical reaction to pain. It isn't. As the comedian Doug Stanhope said, "There's no such thing as addiction, there's only things that you enjoy doing more than life." If you know depression, you know what he means.

To all my fellow sufferers, then, slainte. Your depression exists not because you did something wrong or because you're a bad person, it exists because you're you. Remember the last time you survived it and how it cleansed you, and hold on to that if you can. That is the gift of depression: When it leaves you, it leaves you flayed but vividly alive. Dante's Inferno (an archetypal rendering of depression) ends with Virgil emerging from the seven circles of hell, reborn into life by a holy grace. The depressed person wants to live and wants to love and it is always a surprise to rediscover the pleasures of the world after despair. The final line of Dante's poem is a talisman to be held dear by anyone who has experienced depression's pervasive darkness: Thence we came forth to rebehold the stars.

Michael Redhill is a poet, novelist and playwright. His most recent work, Saving Houdini, is a novel for young adults. This essay, at the request of The Globe and Mail, was adapted from a Facebook post.

For a smooth commute downtown, take a kayak
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page M1

The loon really was straight out of central casting.

Easing a kayak out of a garage in Toronto's east end, the piercing call of a bird more often heard farther north broke the quiet morning air. It was one of the only things awake around dawn to witness this test of whether paddling - the quintessentially Canadian way to get around - was a viable alternative to the road congestion for which the country's biggest city is now known.

It's never all that quick getting into the city from the Beaches. A normal commute can range from about 25 minutes in a car to an hour on the streetcar, if you don't short-turn. And the 501 Queen streetcar got a lot worse this summer, when a series of construction projects forced it onto epic diversions.

Not long before the construction started, the idea of water transportation had been mooted on the mayoral campaign trail, which left me wondering about bypassing traffic in a kayak. But how feasible is it to paddle to work? I recently set out to test the waters, "commuting" each way and storing the boat overnight at the home of a helpful expat couple.

The only company as I launched earlier this month, not far from the Balmy Beach Club, was a group of stand-up paddle boarders. A few of them carrying small dogs on their boards, they moved east toward the sun that was climbing huge and red from the horizon. I went west, paralleling the beach and then curving out to cross the mouth of Ashbridge's Bay.

The first half-hour toward the downtown was probably the most peaceful commuting I'd ever done.

Just me, the birds and the rhythmic dip and splash of the paddle. I was reminded of The Wind in the Willows and the water rat's love of "messing about in boats."

Urban life intruded near the base of the Leslie Street Spit. The distant hum of traffic was punctuated by the beeping of reversing trucks. The first plane roared overhead at 7:02, but quiet fell again as I looped around the spit, passing a couple of skippers who seemed to be waking up aboard their yachts near the end.

I was more than halfway there. Less than an hour later, I was pulling the boat out in downtown Toronto.

Taking to the water

When driving along the waterfront highways, gridlock often gives commuters a chance to look at the lake. In the summer months, it can be a beautiful glittering sight. And it's usually pretty empty, particularly in the morning.

People have long mused about using Lake Ontario as a commuting alternative. The urban theorist Jane Jacobs thought it could be done in all seasons, arguing decades ago that the city should start "hydro-foil and ice hovercraft transportation."

This spring, mayoral candidate John Tory's transportation plan included the teaser that "the water remains an untapped resource for most Torontonians." He mentioned water taxis and commuter services, but didn't go into detail.

The idea is not far-fetched, with the examples of many other cities to learn from.

In Chicago, a water-taxi service connects several parts of the city. Hong Kong has high-speed boats bringing commuters from outlying islands and the venerable Star Ferry remains used by residents in spite of the excellent subway between Kowloon and the island. And in Venice, while the tourists ride the clichéd gondolas, water buses operated by the transit agency help locals get around.

In Toronto, though, some issues would need to be resolved. Would there be a series of pick-up spots or a pair of major terminals, with correspondingly large parking requirements, to the east and west? Where would commuter ferries dock in the core and how would their passengers connect with the transit network? Could it be run in winter, or would it be service for summer only, when traffic volumes already are down a bit?

Of course, these issues do nothing to prevent a person driving their own boat into the city's downtown from the east or west. But there are not a lot of places to moor when you arrive. A kayak, on the other hand, is small enough that there are more options. Clubs in the core and near Cherry Beach offer storage, for a fee, and striking a deal with a waterfront condo resident could mean space in their storage locker.

The evening commute

It's a short walk from the Globe building at Front and Spadina to the water, and as I paddled I cut a beeline southeast across the harbour. The early August heat dropped immediately out on the water and a distinctly molasses sort of smell drifted over from the Redpath facility. It was a somewhat windy evening, though, with the chop combining at times with the ferries' wakes to make for a bouncy ride.

The water smoothed out through the Eastern Gap and the traffic on the lake dropped noticeably as well.

The Spit is closed to the public during the week, meaning it would be verboten to do a quick portage that would cut the trip by one-third. Taking the long way around, I powered past the guano reek pouring out of one of the bays. There were very few boats here - just a few jet-skis that made me think there could be a faster way to do this.

It was somewhere around here I started to wonder about the safety of the water, which was ending up on my face periodically.

The city is rightly proud of some of the cleanliness of some of its beaches, but water elsewhere is not tested. (A spokeswoman for Toronto Public Health reached later recommended that people stick to tested and guarded areas. She offered no specific health advice related to those using the water elsewhere. Maybe it's a good thing I've got all my shots.)

The passage across Ashbridge's Bay seemed more or less endless and I began to regret the incredibly heavy chain I'd brought along to lock up the boat. But my mood lifted after rounding the last headland. The Leuty Lifeguard Station was in sight and the finish was just after that.

All told, about two hours each way. The truth is, you'd have to be pretty driven to do this every day.

But it's not inconceivable to paddle to work occasionally.

Commute on the Queen streetcar, add in a visit to the gym and the timing is a wash. And it's a lot more fun than going to the gym.


Have paddle, will travel

Join Oliver Moore as he kayaks from downtown to the east end, and assesses if waterborne commuting is an answer to beating the traffic.

Associated Graphic

Oliver Moore pulls his kayak into the dock at HTO Park on Toronto's waterfront on Friday. His paddle from the Beaches to the Globe office took about two hours each way.


Places of higher learning expand up, not out
Two-storey addition on top of Thompson Rivers University building gives B.C. law school sweeping style and space
Tuesday, August 26, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B6

Academic architecture isn't what it used to be.

For many years, stretching back to the 1950s, universities and colleges in this country and beyond were constrained by the notion that buildings of higher education could work only on three or fewer storeys. According to some experts, however, that concept is now as outdated as the abacus.

"I would say it's totally an academic planning prejudice that universities can only work in three floors," says Don Schmitt, principal at Diamond Schmitt Architects Inc. in Toronto, a firm that has worked with 40 colleges and universities and has designed roughly 100 academic buildings over the past decade and a half.

"It's partly because that's been the tradition across many campuses. There's some vague idea that we have to accommodate the flows of people, that at the bell between this lecture and that lecture, there's 250 people flowing out and 250 people flowing in.

"Well, a typical office tower, say the TD Centre [in Toronto] that has 3,000-4,000 people working in one tower, how do they move them in and out?" While some schools have adopted a high-rise philosophy, such as Chicago's Roosevelt University with its 32-storey all-inclusive "vertical campus" served by highspeed elevators, others start to feel a little uneasy when the idea of even a sixth storey is discussed.

Case in point was the work Diamond Schmitt recently completed at the University of Ottawa, where it designed a 15storey faculty of social science building on a tiny footprint of land squeezed in between the existing five-storey Vanier Hall building and the Rideau Canal.

"Vanier Hall, everybody thought of it as fronting the canal, and we did a little work and said there is a ... building site here that could be made to work and it could integrate with Vanier Hall," Mr. Schmitt says. "They said academic buildings don't make sense on 15 floors."

But the building opened two years ago to widespread acclaim, offering five storeys of undergraduate classroom and lecture space, with seminar, office and research space occupying the upper floors.

But given the increasing complexities that come with operating in an urban environment, responding to growing student bodies and the demands for collaborative learning methods, utilizing the space most effectively is of the utmost importance.

"I think we are mindful of the footprint that we have because we are in an urban setting," says Alan Wildeman, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Windsor. "We don't have a lot of land around us and so we haven't gone much higher than three or four storeys but we are mindful of the fact that we need to create compact spaces that maximize the land that we've got."

That overriding principle was certainly at the forefront when Diamond Schmitt was asked to redesign an existing academic building at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops to accommodate a new law school. Though space wasn't necessarily a problem, there was a feeling among the faculty that the campus had started to sprawl, and that it needed to be refocused around a central core.

"When we did our campus master plan, one of the principles of that master plan is we wanted to create greater densification of the core of campus," says Matt Milovick, vice-president of finance and administration at TRU.

TRU had an existing circular piece of topography designed by famed Canadian landscape architect Cornelia Oberlander, which Mr. Schmitt saw as a crossroads for students. Diamond Schmitt built the university library there a few years ago, and the firm decided to re-emphasize that area of campus when it came to the neighbouring law school, too.

The existing multi-use two-storey 1970s structure, known as Old Main, which Mr. Schmitt fairly describes as a "bit of a beast in the middle of campus," was short on style, but long on function.

The university decided that rather than knocking it down, it would add to it. Instead of increasing the footprint horizontally, Diamond Schmitt went vertical instead, adding another two storeys.

"The old building being two storeys and fairly low, it didn't really take advantage of the views," Mr. Milovick says.

The extra height allows law students to capitalize on the breathtaking vista presented by the mountains that surround the campus, particularly Mount Peter and Mount Paul. They became the inspiration for the undulating wooden roof that echoes the landscape.

A painting of Mount Paul by Group of Seven artist A.Y. Jackson gave Mr. Schmitt what he calls the "aha moment" and it also helped him avoid putting a "flat pancake on a flat pancake."

In addition to the law library and reading rooms housed in the new space, which officially opened in June, the extra room also allowed for teaching areas to be reinterpreted. The lecture theatre, for instance, was designed following discussions with local First Nations people, who viewed it more as a gathering space as opposed to a more Western view of a talking head in front of a group of students.

"It's that whole issue of how is the lecture space changing to accommodate new ways of thinking about teaching and how is academic space overall changing to accommodate the collegiality," Mr. Schmitt says. "How are universities, particularly urban universities, taking advantage of diminishing campus space?

They're going more compact and taller, partly a real estate circumstance of making more effective use of the site they have available."

For Thompson Rivers University, the result is one that takes maximum advantage of the landscape around it, and while it is hoped the new facility will enhance the learning experience, the increased height and stature of the building is one that the faculty hopes will offer greater exposure to the school across Canada.

"You think of universities that have iconic buildings," Mr. Milovick says. "OCAD's got the Sharp Centre of Design and anybody that knows that building [with its table-top structure] relates it to OCAD; Queen's has their clock tower, the University of Guelph has [historic] Johnston Hall.

"I think in the future when people see this building, as it becomes more well-known, people are going to immediately identify it as 'That's TRU.' That is the building that will define us in people's minds."


The additional two storeys provide 45,000 square feet of space, housing the law library, reading room, lecture theatre and offices.

Roof panels were prefabricated and made of glued laminated timber beams, called glulam, wood joists and plywood sheathing.

The 122-metre-long roof was installed in just seven weeks in the summer of 2012.

$20.2-million - total cost of the addition to Old Main.

Existing two-storey building was reclad in cement-board planks to form curving bands that reference First Nations basket-weaving traditions.

Associated Graphic

Signature curved roofline on Old Main building reflects the natural B.C. landscape. Reading room below. See more photos at


Ford threatened teacher, swore at students, documents allege
Thursday, August 28, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A1

In the months before Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was banned from coaching high school football, he allegedly threatened a teacher, appeared inebriated for a crucial practice and at an equipment handout and forced his teenaged players to roll around in goose scat as he berated them with profanity after winning a big game.

The allegations against Mr. Ford are detailed in more than 300 pages of Toronto Catholic school board documents released Wednesday under freedom-of-information legislation. The disclosure occurred after The Globe and Mail appealed the board's decision to keep details on Mr. Ford's dismissal from Don Bosco Catholic Secondary School's football program confidential.

Mr. Ford had served as a volunteer head coach for a decade before he was prohibited from coaching at any Toronto Catholic school in May, 2013. The ban came days after revelations of a video reportedly showing him smoking crack cocaine.

Mr. Ford, who is running for re-election, went to a rehabilitation centre this past May after The Globe reported a second crack video had surfaced.

When asked by The Globe on Wednesday about the allegations, Mr. Ford declined to comment.

The accusations shed new light on what was happening behind the scenes at Don Bosco and add to the avalanche of controversies that have surrounded Mr. Ford's time as mayor, most of them centred on his abuse of alcohol and illegal drugs.

Concerns about Mr. Ford's behaviour and the intense media attention he was drawing to the Etobicoke high school stretched back months, at least to August, 2012, the newly released documents show.

He allegedly clashed with fellow coach John Royiwsky, a teacher at the school.

According to briefing notes prepared by director of communications John Yan, the mayor was upset that Mr. Royiwsky had banned practices until the start of the school year.

"The Mayor was very heated and swearing at, and challenging Mr. Royiwiski [sic] to a fight," the briefing notes state.

Then-principal Ugo Rossi stepped in. Mr. Royiwsky was visibly shaken. The mayor later apologized, the briefing notes state.

The same document, titled "Critical incidents involving Mayor Ford," outlines other serious accusations: Mr. Ford allegedly offered custodians cash to keep the school open an extra hour in the summer, but the custodians refused; he delayed mandatory criminal background checks for himself and his coaching staff and then had a staffer "rush" the paperwork through police Chief Bill Blair, according to a briefing note; he showed up late and appeared "visibly inebriated" at the final practice before the Metro Bowl championship game; he took players on an unsanctioned overnight trip to play a football team in Peterborough, Ont.; and he allegedly made his players roll around in goose scat and swore at them after a game against Father Henry Carr in October, 2012.

The Don Bosco team won that game, but Mr. Ford was not happy with the team's performance, Mr. Yan said Wednesday.

Despite earlier concerns with some of Mr. Ford's conduct, the documents reveal that the catalyst for his dismissal was a television interview he gave to Sun News Network that aired March 1, 2013.

"A lot of these kids come from gangs, they come from broken homes, the stories you would hear would bring a tear to your eye," Mr. Ford told the host.

That evening, Mr. Rossi e-mailed his superiors. "I am a very patient Catholic but this is enough. This is our Bosco, these are our students, they deserve better."

Three days later, a letter signed by "The Don Bosco Staff" was sent to the board's leadership expressing "deep concern" with the mayor's "demeaning" and untrue comments.

That afternoon, board spokesman Mr. Yan e-mailed superintendent Loretta Notten.

"Mayor Ford is way over the top - [principal] Ugo is ready to pull the plug on him as coach," Mr. Yan wrote.

The documents suggest there was already unrest at Don Bosco around the mayor's coaching duties. And in fact, on January 16, 2013, a month and a half before the Sun interview aired, Ms. Notten wrote an e-mail to school officials requesting "an internal discussion re next year and football at Bosco."

Records indicate a meeting was scheduled for February but never happened.

After the Sun segment, things moved quickly. The board launched an investigation and on March 20, sent the mayor a letter requesting he not have any contact with Don Bosco football players while the board decides what to do.

A parent council meeting was held on March 25. According to a briefing note prepared afterward, parents felt the mayor was "using the school and the team for political gain." They were angry about his comments and the media attention, although most believed he genuinely loved his players. In the end, a majority of parents at the meeting felt it was time for Mr. Ford to go.

On April 9, Mr. Rossi informed his superiors that the mayor was making overtures to his teaching staff, but they weren't interested in talking. His staff voted 41-3 not to meet with embattled Coach Ford.

In early May, with the board's review ongoing, the mayor asked school officials for permission to distribute football equipment on Don Bosco property. In an e-mail to then-director of education, Bruce Rodrigues, Mr. Yan alleged the mayor showed up "inebriated."

He was fired about two weeks later.

"After careful consideration of the input received from (consultations with parents and teachers), I am writing to inform you that the school board has decided to pursue a different direction with a new volunteer head coach for the Don Bosco Eagles senior football team," read a May 22 letter signed by Mr. Rodrigues.

As school board officials moved to push Mr. Ford out in May, his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, allegedly threatened Mr. Rossi at a community luncheon, according to an e-mail on May 6, 2013 from Mr. Yan. In another e-mail, Mr. Yan alleges Doug Ford also made a "blackmail attempt" against Mr. Rossi and a "racial slur" against Mr. Rodrigues.

Councillor Ford denied the allegations when asked by a Globe reporter Wednesday evening.

"You guys are nuts," he said at City Hall. "Did you actually talk to him? He's a friend of mine."

He also denied uttering a racial slur against Mr. Rodrigues, calling the accusation "ridiculous."

"It's a lie. Ridiculous. You guys make up all this shit. That's what you do. You're ruthless."

Mr. Rossi could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The school board had initially refused to disclose internal records about Mr. Ford's dismissal to The Globe and the Toronto Star. The board argued that details about the mayor's tenure as volunteer head football coach were shielded from public scrutiny because Mr. Ford had a "quasi-employment" relationship with the board.

Associated Graphic

Rob Ford declined to comment Wednesday on a school board document titled 'Critical incidents involving Mayor Ford.'


An outside-the-box educator
'One of the most reflective of community college leaders' built a legacy with forward-thinking vocational training
Special to The Globe and Mail
Thursday, August 28, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S6

Around Christmas in 1966, William Newnham was presented with an empty box. It was not meant as a cruel yuletide gift, but as a challenge. "This is Seneca College," the chairman of the institution's newly formed board of governors told Dr. Newnham. "Take it, find a building, renovate it, develop courses and an administration, hire teachers and enroll students. And we want it to be the finest in Canada."

At Seneca College in Toronto, the box story attained mythic status. But Dr. Newnham himself confirmed it years later. The board "wasn't fooling," he recalled. He wrote seven drafts of his application letter before finally sending it in to the board, which included the president of IBM Canada, senior engineering faculty from universities and politicians - "all long-ball hitters."

Dr. Newnham "overachieved on all the goals of his opening assignment," wrote David Agnew, Seneca's current president, in a tribute. "Real estate was found, more than 20 programs were launched, teaching and support staff were hired, and nearly 2,000 full- and part-time students were enrolled on Day 1. And that was all within a scant eight months."

Beginning in a renovated factory, Dr. Newnham established Seneca College as one of the largest post secondary institutions in Canada. Consisting of 10 campuses across the Greater Toronto Area, it has 26,500 full-time and 70,000 part-time students enrolled, and awards an array of degrees, diplomas and certificates in 290 programs, ranging from accounting to visual merchandising arts.

Former Ontario premier Bill Davis, who as education minister had been one of the architects of the college system, recalled Dr. Newnham as "a very important part of the education scene in Ontario" and "one of the premier presidents of the college system.

He was a man of great integrity who believed in what he was doing and really helped the educational position of the colleges move ahead. He was a very honest person, intellectually and otherwise, and the kind of person who was a pleasure to be with," he said.

"The educational system in Ontario owes a great debt to Bill," Mr. Davis said of Dr. Newnham, who died of heart failure in Richmond Hill, Ont., on Aug. 23. He was 91.

On his retirement from Seneca in 1984, Dr. Newnham was the last of the original founding presidents of Ontario's system of community colleges, which today number 24 institutions that enroll 200,000 full-time and 300,000 part-time students, and boast that 83 per cent of their graduates find work within six months.

William Thomson Newnham was born on Feb. 7, 1923 in Shallow Lake, Ont. His mother, Gertrude, was a teacher and his father, Bertram, was a United Church minister who moved his family frequently as pulpits opened up. When war came, his son longed to see combat but the military instead assigned him to teach flight navigation, based in Winnipeg. "They wouldn't let him go [overseas] because he was more valuable as an instructor," his daughter, Susan Mitchell, related. But the disappointment revealed to Dr. Newnham how much he loved to teach.

After the war, he graduated from Queen's University in Kingston, with a bachelor's in math and physics, followed by two master's degrees from the University of Toronto, in mathematics and education. He began teaching math at Toronto schools, and by the age of 36, he became the youngest school principal in Toronto, at Northview Heights in North York, where, as Mr. Agnew recalled, he was "already showing his innovative flair" in the early 1960s by bringing several firsts to the school: a computer course (he installed an early IBM mainframe and spurned job offers from the company), night school, a summer semester, teacher development and a series of guest lecturers that included businessman Ed Mirvish.

He oversaw Seneca's acquisition in 1971 of the 700-acre summer estate of Lady Flora Eaton of department store fame. Eaton Hall, her residence, has become the college's King Campus, now home to more than 3,500 students.

Appointed in 1973 to a provincial commission on higher education that recommended community colleges be given the right to grant BAA (Bachelor of Applied Arts) and BT (Bachelor of Technology) degrees, Dr. Newnham issued a spirited dissent, saying many college students don't want degrees, and he deplored "the obsession our society has for paper qualifications."

But he recognized that vocational training should not come at the expense of the liberal arts.

Seneca was one of the first community colleges to establish a curriculum that included instruction in English, communications and the humanities. It was a policy hailed by Canadian historian Desmond Morton, who lauded Dr. Newnham as "one of the most reflective of community college leaders."

His daughter described his philosophy this way: "It wasn't enough to know how to plumb.

You had to be able to communicate."

York University gave Dr. Newnham an honorary doctorate of laws in 1975.

In 1985, he was thrown into an issue that ignited the public. One of Mr. Davis's final acts as premier was to announce that the province would provide full funding for Roman Catholic high schools all the way to Grade 13 (funding had previously stopped at Grade 10). It came as a surprise to many, especially to other religious groups that cried discrimination; infamously, Lewis Garnsworthy, the Anglican Bishop of Toronto, compared Mr. Davis to Adolf Hitler.

Seven weeks after his bombshell, Mr. Davis appointed Dr. Newnham to chair an eight-member commission to advise the government on the financing issue. Despite some raucous hearings, "his committee had a lot to do with getting understanding and acceptance [for funding] among the general public," Mr. Davis said.

"It was a powder keg," recalled his daughter, "the most contentious political issue of the day. It was very difficult to navigate. I'm not sure he completely agreed [with funding] but he thought it behooved everyone to see to it that both systems [the public and Catholic] were treated fairly."

In a Globe profile on his retirement, Dr. Newnham listed several accomplishments during his tenure, including student travelstudy programs, adult retraining and new student counselling programs. With considerable pride, he recalled the development of programs to help workers who lost their jobs and employers who could not find technicians with adequate skills.

He attributed the college's popularity to a knack for anticipating future trends in education and the labour market. To this day, Seneca keeps in contact with hundreds of businesses in Ontario to get a picture of their training requirements.

In retirement, Dr. Newnham ran a gift and antique shop in Unionville, Ont., with his family.

He leaves his sister, Marianne Stone; his wife, Marein; children, Susan, Linda, Donald and Thomson; and eight grandchildren.

Associated Graphic

William Newnham, left, and Seneca College's founding board chair Fred Minkler turn the sod on the land that would eventually become Newnham Campus.


William Newnham

The jewels in Buffett's crown
A look at some of the investments that helped make Berkshire Hathaway a $200,000-a-share stock
Special to The Globe on Mail
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B9

Warren Buffett's good oldfashioned stock-picking has a been a big part of Berkshire Hathaway's path to $200,000 (U.S.) a share.

The company's $100-billionplus portfolio of publicly traded securities makes up about a third of its value. As for the rest, the earnings from giant insurers, a wide portfolio of energy companies and manufacturers, and one of the United States' largest railroads have helped Berkshire cross a price barrier no company has ever crossed before.

Alas, the individual investor can't get in on its fully owned subsidiaries, such as GEICO, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, MidAmerican Energy Co. or Nebraska Furniture Mart, except to the extent a share of Berkshire provides a small slice of their worth. (Berkshire also has a "baby" Class B share that trades for about $135, giving investors an even smaller piece of the pie.)

So that's why there's so much attention on Berkshire's stock portfolio, even as it changes modestly from quarter to quarter, year to year. Mr. Buffett's list of picks is a special kind of validation for a stock, a seal of approval from one of the greatest investors of all time. If it's good enough for Warren, it's certainly good enough for me! (Setting aside all sorts of issues of risk tolerance and investment horizon, of course.)

In that spirit, we thought we'd take a look at some of the investments that helped make Berkshire a $200,000 stock, from the old standbys to the new arrivals, from the shares seemingly falling out of favour to the ones Berkshire is buying now, including a well-known Canadian name.

(The holdings are as of June 30, per a report Berkshire filed with U.S. securities regulators late Thursday.)

Through it all, keep in mind this maxim, which Mr. Buffett first shared with his stockholders in his 1989 chairman's letter: "It's far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price."

The mainstays

Three of Berkshire's four biggest positions have been part of the portfolio for at least a quartercentury.

American Express Co. ($14.4billion at June 30) dates back to 1964 and the Buffett Partnership Ltd.'s biggest-ever investment, when it scooped up 5 per cent of the company for $13-million after the Salad-Oil Scandal of 1963 that saddled American Express with bad loans and crushed its stock price.

Berkshire began buying the stock of Coca-Cola Co. ($16.9billion at June 30) in 1988.

Its largest holding is now Wells Fargo Corp. at $24.4-billion as of June 30. Berkshire first bought in in 1989 at split-adjusted prices of less than $2 per share (versus Friday's close of $50.21). While Berkshire hasn't added to its American Express and Coca-Cola stakes, it bought Wells Fargo actively through the end of 2013.

As a corollary to Mr. Buffett's "wonderful company" principle, he also recently told stockholders in a letter that "we much prefer owning a non-controlling but substantial portion of a wonderful company to owning 100 per cent of a so-so business; it's better to have a partial interest in the Hope diamond than to own all of a rhinestone."

In Canada

In the second quarter, Berkshire trimmed a number of its energy holdings, including ConocoPhillips, National Oilwell Varco Inc. and Phillips 66. But it increased its position in Suncor Energy Inc. by more than 25 per cent, buying almost 3.5 million shares. Berkshire owned almost 16.5 million shares, worth just over $700-million, at June 30. The holding is a little more than 1 per cent of Suncor's outstanding shares and less than 1 per cent of Berkshire's portfolio, which may explain why Suncor hasn't yet made it into one of Mr. Buffett's chairman's letters.

Cashing out

Mr. Buffett is known as a longterm investor, but sometimes he does exit holdings. In addition to the energy companies mentioned above, Berkshire trimmed its positions in DirecTV, as well as Liberty Media Corp. and Starz, two companies affiliated with cable magnate John Malone that have posted impressive gains; and Precision Castparts Corp., an industrial components maker that hit a 52-week high in the June quarter.

The newest arrival

Mr. Buffett famously eschewed technology stocks during the first Internet bubble. So it came as a bit of a shock when he disclosed in November, 2011, that he'd spent $10.7-billion on 64 million shares of International Business Machines Corp., an average price just under $170 a share. He's added six million shares since, including 1.8 million in the quarter that ended in June. The position is worth $12.7-billion now, making it one of Berkshire's four biggest holdings.

This one, however, may not promise the immense gains Berkshire has seen with the other three top holdings. IBM is no higher than it was at the time of Mr. Buffett's disclosure, nearly three years ago.

While IBM bulls see a company actively adapting to the new world of computing and creating shareholder value through stock buybacks, skeptics see a company that has shockingly lost big-ticket government contracts to Amazon Inc.

The newest theme

Much like technology, telecommunications hasn't traditionally been a big part of the Berkshire portfolio. That may be changing. The company bought into Verizon Corp. in 2014's first quarter and added to its position by more than a third in the second. It owned more than $700million in Verizon stock at June 30.

Berkshire also initiated a position in regional U.S. cable company Charter Communications, buying 2.3 million shares worth $365-million at quarter end. It increased its share position in international cable concern Liberty Global plc by 17 per cent to 17.2 million shares worth just under $750-million at June 30.

The author owns Berkshire Hathaway and Wells Fargo stock and also contributes to a Wells Fargo magazine for its clients.

Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B)

Close: $134.34 (U.S.), down 96¢

Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A)

Close: $201,227 (U.S.), down $1,623


Since the financial-crisis low for the S&P 500 on March 9, 2009, Berkshire has tracked the index, while Wells Fargo has appreciated more than 450 per cent and American Express has gained more than 800 per cent. Coca-Cola has lagged the index as its sales slowed in increasingly health-conscious developed markets. Now, it's trying to buy into fast-growing trends in the beverage market, as evidenced by stakes in Keurig Green Mountain Inc. and Monster Beverage Corp.

Associated Graphic

Berkshire Hathaway first invested in Coca-Cola in 1988 and its 400-million-share stake is now worth $16.9-billion.



Amusement-park stocks offer a bumpy ride
SeaWorld's struggles highlight the danger of the big debt loads that its competitors Cedar Fair and Six Flags are also carrying
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B9

Call them orcas or call them killer whales - the big mammals helped to sink SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. last quarter when their new-found human friends stayed away from the marine theme parks over concerns about the whales' treatment.

And yet there's something else sizable lurking nearby that threatens SeaWorld. Its peers in the amusement-park business are in jeopardy, too.

The creature of which we speak is orca-sized debt, weighing down the balance sheets at SeaWorld, Cedar Fair LP and Six Flags Entertainment Corp. And investors who see the healthy yields at all three concerns need to be aware that the companies are using their cash to reward shareholders, rather than pay down their significant obligations. When a highly leveraged company runs into trouble, as SeaWorld has, management faces more pressure to make its payments.

This story serves to update an article in this space in May of last year, "Theme-park stocks could give even staid investors a thrill."

The thrust: Investors had already bid up the shares of the three because they discovered the companies could grow revenues in a lacklustre economy, albeit modestly, while throwing off gushers of cash promptly returned to shareholders in the form of dividends. The shares "may have further to climb," we said, particularly if the North American economy didn't slip back into recession, a common fear at the beginning of last summer.

The advice was, shall we say, mixed. Cedar Fair, owner of 15 parks including Canada's Wonderland outside Toronto, is up nearly 30 per cent since the article. Six Flags, with 18 parks including La Ronde in Montreal, is up 8 per cent. SeaWorld's earnings disaster earlier this month, however, leaves it down 40 per cent. (All returns include dividends with yields ranging from 4.4 to 5.4 per cent.)

To be clear, none of the companies is in any serious danger of default at this time. All have BB or BB-minus ratings from Standard & Poor's, near the upper end of "high-yield" ratings, less politely known as "junk."

The debt numbers, however, are worth considering, particularly when investors are confronted with a sudden, sharp drop in earnings, as SeaWorld admitted last week. All rely on debt for nearly two-thirds or more of their capital. Cedar Fair and Six Flags actually have negative tangible book value. This means when you strip out intangible assets such as "goodwill," an accounting entry made to reflect the cost of past mergers, the two don't have enough hard assets - such as, say, amusement parks - to cover their liabilities.

Each company has about $1.4billion to $1.6-billion (U.S.) in debt and generates roughly $400-million in EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. That means each has a debt-to-EBITDA ratio between more than 3 and a little more than 4.

Again, that's not necessarily in the danger zone: A search on S&P's Capital IQ database reveals that about 20 per cent of the companies on the New York Stock Exchange with both $1-billion in sales and positive EBITDA have debt-to-EBITDA ratios of more than 4.

But earnings misses like SeaWorld's show how quickly a company can go in the wrong direction. SeaWorld had told analysts to expect $450-million to $465-million in EBITDA for 2014.

The new guidance implies EBITDA as low as $369-million.

The difference means a debt-toEBITDA ratio that could have been 3.5 at year-end is more likely to be 4.4.

When S&P downgraded SeaWorld's debt to BB-minus on Aug. 14, it also changed its outlook to negative, because of its fears of continued reputational risk from the Blackfish documentary that purported ill treatment of SeaWorld's orcas. S&P said a deterioration of the debt-to-EBITDA ratio to 5 or higher would suggest another downgrade; an upgrade could occur if SeaWorld could get that ratio back to less than 4.

So, is our new advice to run screaming from these themepark stocks as if you're plummeting to the bottom of a roller coaster? Not necessarily: When things go right for these companies, the cash flow thesis remains intact.

Cedar Fair increased revenue 6 per cent and EBITDA by 8 per cent in 2013, which led management to boost the dividend by 60 per cent. Six Flags's revenue gain of slightly less than 4 per cent in 2013 led to EBITDA growth of 19 per cent and a dividend boost of nearly 35 per cent.

In recommending Six Flags shares, S&P Capital IQ equity analyst Tuna Amobi sees "potentially sustainable pricing power" at the company's parks and believes the company "appears to be settling into a more consistent dividend and cash flow return phase of its life cycle." (His target price is $44, versus Friday's close of $37.54.)

Jeffrey S. Thomison of Hilliard Lyons says his "buy" rating and $55 target price on Cedar Fair is because its "strong cash flow can allow for meaningful reinvestment in the properties ... comfortable debt service, and an attractive cash distribution policy."

And there's even a case for SeaWorld. Citi Research's Jason B. Bazinet, admitting an "extreme mistake" in his previous "buy" rating for the stock, says SeaWorld may beat its new, lowered guidance; move toward turning itself into a tax-saving real estate investment trust; or plunge into a $250-million stock buyback that could take 16 per cent of the company's shares off the market at today's prices.

One or more of these things could happen, he says, before investors decide the Blackfish documentary has done permanent damage to the company. There's still risk, though, that SeaWorld could see a sustained attendance decline. "As such, investing in SeaWorld's equity, even at current levels, is not for the faint of heart."

It's a risk found in any company that relies on the good graces of the public for its revenue - and passes on its profits rather than aggressively reducing its whale-like debt.

SeaWorld (SEAS)

Close: $20.27 (U.S.), up $1.26

Cedar Fair (FUN)

Close: $49.88 (U.S.), down 80¢

Six Flags (SIX)

Close: $37.54 (U.S.), down 27¢


The big U.S. theme-park operators generate plenty of cash, and use much of it to pay generous dividends. But all carry significant debt loads - and, as SeaWorld illustrates, a sharp drop in profits can put the squeeze on a highly leveraged company.

Associated Graphic

Canada's Wonderland is one of 15 parks owned by Cedar Fair, which has seen its stock rise nearly 30 per cent since May, 2013.



B.C.'s Martha Sturdy has become internationally renowned for her rich, sculptural works, from jewellery to furnishings, in resin and metal. But she isn't resting on her laurels. These days, she tells Deirdre Kelly during visits to her Vancouver studio and farm in Pemberton, she has two fresh passions: horses and fine art. 'I did that already,' she says of her past successes. 'Now I'm onto something new'
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L9

Being able to reverse gear in a camo-print ATV when there's a bear staring you down on a wooded path might not seem like an especially valuable skill to have when you're a globally acclaimed designer.

But for Martha Sturdy, it certainly comes in handy.

On a recent scorching-hot summer afternoon at her 250-acre farm in Pemberton, B.C., Canada's reigning doyenne of design rollicked through sky-high grasses while making hairpin turns through a cedar forest in which bears, hungry for the season's first crop of wild raspberries, had torn down trees now threatening to block her path.

But there was - or, rather, is - no stopping her.

Throwing the stick shift back a few aggressive notches, Sturdy, who had encountered her bear during a morning ride on one of her horses, turned and whirled and drove on past some of the ancient conifers that have inspired her new line of burnt-cedar furniture as well as various abstract sculptures and paintings. Sturdy produces all her work in her studio in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, just over an hour's drive south.

"Everything in life is either a positive or a negative," says the 72-yearold powerhouse, revving the motor and jerking forward in the direction of majestic snow-peaked mountains surrounding her sprawling property. "I think, just get on with it."

It's a philosophy that has served Sturdy well throughout a 35-year career that started in 1978 (when she graduated from Emily Carr University with a degree in visual art) with the making and selling of wearable art, Sturdy's description for the chunky, poured-resin jewellery that fi rst made her famous.

Almost from the start, Sturdy's sculpted pieces were featured in leading fashion magazines from London to Milan to Tokyo, including Vogue.

Prominent fashion designers, among them Donna Karan, Oscar de la Renta, Marc Jacobs, Carolyne Roehm, Geoffery Beene, Gianfranco Ferre and Calvin Klein, all clamoured to have her work showcased on runways alongside their clothes.

Today, Sturdy still crafts spiralling brass rings and bracelets, but just for herself. "I did that already," the designer, who is dressed in her usual head-to-toe black, including short shorts paired with leather cowboy boots, declares of her early success as a jewellery maker. "Now I'm onto something new."

In recent years, Sturdy has returned to her first love, fine art, which she sells under a moniker, Martha Varcoe Sturdy, that includes her maiden name. Supporting that endeavour are the profits from Sturdy Living, her hugely successful Vancouver-based company specializing in maxi-sized furniture made of brass, wood, resin and steel, as well as home accessories such as sinks (some produced in collaboration with the U.S. manufacturer Kohler), vases, trays, serving bowls, light fi xtures and utensils. Sturdy's design work will be showcased at New York's Boutique Design Show in the fall, followed by the Maison et Objet expo in Paris this coming winter and the Architectural Design Show in New York in March.

Major pieces include a $20,000 castresin sectional with white leather seat cushions and a $3,000 zigzag stool made of dramatically cut steel. While expensive - "my labour is Canadian labour, so it costs more," Sturdy says, unapologetically - her furniture and home accessories are in high demand. Among those commissioning them are commercial clients including luxury hotels (such as, most recently, the Four Seasons in Miami) and restaurants such as Vancouver's new Boulevard (where the champagne is chilled in one of Sturdy's oversized resin bowls) and Chambar (whose bathrooms are outfitted with her brass bowl sinks).

"I am very practical," Sturdy says of work as minimalist in form as it is materially rich. "I make things people can actually use." Having opened her studio showroom to the public, people can come to buy directly from her now. On a recent afternoon, the visitors there included an interior designer and a backpacking design student who waited until Sturdy was off the phone to thank her in person for inspiring him. "I just love your work," he told her. Sturdy smiled from behind her trademark fringe of dark hair, offering a calloused hand for him to shake.

"The visual is very important to me," Sturdy remarked later. "What I do is I come with an idea and I never worry about cost, because the integrity of the creation is what is important; money is what happens after the fact. Integrity is what it's all about; if I design something that's too expensive, oh well, that's life.

But in the end I feel good."

Feeling good when in your 70s isn't always a given. But Sturdy, who was born and raised in Vancouver among an upper-middle-class family that encouraged reading and education ("We went once a week to the library with a wagon fi lled with books," she recalls), is blessed with good genetics.

Her mother, for instance, lived well into her 90s. Photographs of the woman Sturdy calls the Queen line the walls of the Pemberton farmhouse in addition to images, hundreds of them, of other family members, including her three grown children and five grandchildren. "I know what my priorities are," Sturdy says, pointing out the faces in every frame. "Family fi rst."

But as she ages, staying creative is becoming increasingly important to her as well.

To ensure the creative juices keep flowing, Sturdy maintains a strict regime of exercise and good living at her farm, including the eating of vegetables and garlic she plants herself.

Each morning, just as the sun is breaking through the sky, she does an hour of yoga, followed by another hour of horse riding around her property and in the ring of a 100-by200-foot arena where she practices the jumps that have earned her a barn full of ribbons at equestrian competitions. Among them is the top prize she took at a recent event at B.C.'s Olympic-calibre Thunderbird Equestrian Show Park.

Not bad for a woman who didn't start her equine training until she was well into her 40s.

"I got myself a horse when I thought I knew everything and then I discovered I still had more to learn," she says.

"But that's what's great about life: You get to keep on learning. Once you stop, then it's over."

Associated Graphic

ARTIST IN RESIDENCE Martha Sturdy (top) sits on one of her trademark metal zigzag stools in her studio in Vancouver. Although she continues to produce a wide range of household objects, such as the resin bowl and salad utensils pictured at middle, she is increasingly focusing her energy on creating fine art. A brass sculpture (bottom) is just one example of her efforts.


B.C.'s transpacific pioneer
Thomas Fung's Fairchild Group spans media, real estate and food rooted in an Asia-Canada connection
Monday, September 1, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B1

RICHMOND, B.C. -- Thomas Fung's fantastical new movie script goes something like this.

A kung-fu actress is brought to Hollywood from mainland China so she can party with directors and producers at a riverside mansion. At the same time, a boxer from the Bronx is working there as a caterer, ferrying supplies in a boat from a luxurious house across the river. Bored, she flees with him to the other side.

Chased by security guards, they take shelter in a private jet on the property, and eventually take off. They crash on a desert island, and as the two navigate their cultural differences, hijinks ensue - including battling a crocodile.

"It's a love story with kung-fu and boxing," said a gleeful Mr. Fung, the founder of the Fairchild Group, over a bowl of Taiwanese beef noodle soup at Chef Hung's in the Aberdeen Centre in Richmond, B.C.

If the plot sounds a bit unbelievable, consider that almost everything Mr. Fung attempted in his career seemed far-fetched in the beginning before it paid off. Now he is worth about $400-million, not including his real estate holdings.

It's thanks to the transpacific empire that is the Fairchild Group, a conglomerate he built to span Chinese-language media, international partnerships and global retail franchises, real estate interests, a pâtisserie chain, a flight school, and import and e-commerce businesses.

Born in Hong Kong and now based in Vancouver, Mr. Fung has become a uniquely Canadian success story. He acts as a cultural liaison for other executives on his travels through Asia. Business is the pursuit of long-standing passions like his new script, which he is working on with a Chinese director.

"He's a small businessman on a huge scale," says Michael Francis, a businessman and chair emeritus of the Vancouver Film Festival. "He's as interested in trying it in Richmond as Hong Kong or Beijing."

It was Mr. Fung who, while in Taipei, tasted Chef Hung's and became convinced it would be a global success. He's opened several restaurants in Vancouver and is now building locations in China on a seven-year plan to eventually take the noodle restaurant public.

He also wants to (eventually) have a public offering for his high-end pâtisserie chain, which is expanding as Aime in China and as St. Germain in Vancouver.

It has contracts with airlines' firstclass service out of Vancouver and various hotels in Richmond.

Mr. Fung started Chef Hung's at the Aberdeen Centre, a pioneering Asian mall he built (and then destroyed and rebuilt) in Richmond, just outside of Vancouver, a community he has helped transform since the late 1980s.

The mall has dumpling shops, a branch of the popular Japanese izakaya (casual after-work bar) Guu, Hong Kong fashion brands and a hugely popular "100 Yen" discount retailer called Daiso. It has become a laboratory of sorts for his new ventures - he said he owns 15 per cent of the mall's 200 stores - and lures locals (Richmond is roughly 50 per cent Chinese) as well as tourists from Korea, China and Japan.

When Mr. Fung first tried to get tenants in the 1980s, he placed ads in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and Toronto, hoping for tenants to be part of his ambitious project - the first multicultural mall in North America, he says. Six months passed, but he heard nothing.

"They were not interested in Vancouver," says Mr. Fung. "They thought we were a small town."

But Mr. Fung - whose father arrived in Hong Kong after fleeing the mainland and then dabbled in foreign exchange before founding a merchant bank and making a fortune - correctly predicted the large influx of Hong Kong residents who would land in Vancouver and Richmond in the tense years before the handover of the city-state from Britain back to China.

"I said, sooner or later they will come," Mr. Fung says. "And that will be an opportunity for business."

But no brands wanted to take the risk along with him. He offered tenants 51-per-cent stakes, with the ability to walk away if the venture failed, or to buy back his stake - with no interest - if it succeeded. He did the legwork: hiring, renovations, operation.

The Aberdeen Centre was a success, and tenants bought into Mr. Fung's dream. Western brands have so far "shied away," although Mercedes is opening up.

In the early 1990s, Mr. Fung bought two money-losing Chinese-language broadcasters and began building out Fairchild's media assets - which includes Mandarin and Cantonese radio stations, two TV networks and a lifestyle magazine. He said owning media would create synergies with his retail and real estate holdings. And it has worked - so much so that one opponent in a regulatory hearing in 2009 said Mr. Fung might end up with a "monopoly" in Chinese-language broadcasting, and that Fairchild's news reports make "favourable comments with regard to (Fairchild's) businesses and does not remain neutral."

Gabriel Yiu, a Hong Kong-born activist who once ran for the provincial NDP, said Mr. Fung is a "pioneer," whose mall was a "big factor in turning Richmond into the most Chinese city outside Asia," although it has also contributed to the decline of Vancouver's Chinatown.

Mr. Fung, who says he slept in stairwells as his father toiled at odd jobs in the godowns of Hong Kong harbour, says his journalists occasionally show a bit of bias against mainland China in their reports. This, he says, reflects anti-mainland views held by many ordinary Hong Kong citizens, and many Hong Kong-born people in Vancouver - but which are not generally held by members of the more "pragamatic," transpacific business class, like himself.

It seems Mr. Fung earnestly wants to achieve much broader appeal. He wants his mall to be a "cosmopolitan" and "Asian/Western" establishment, but is effectively tied to Chinese by broadcast licences that prevent him from producing anything of substance in English or French. To find a challenge, he is now pushing deeper into China, pursuing his passions and philanthropy - and preparing his son Joseph to take over the business.

"At my stage, I don't really push for any projects," said Mr. Fung, who is 63. "It's more for my son."

His friends aren't too sure.

"I don't think he'll pass it on nearly as quickly as he thinks he will," Mr. Francis said. "He loves his life."

Associated Graphic

Thomas Fung built Richmond, B.C.'s Aberdeen Centre, which caters to the city's Chinese community.


Thomas Fung predicted a surge of Chinese migrants would fuel business at the Aberdeen Centre in Richmond, B.C.


Putting honesty centre stage
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R6

I Will Tell You Exactly What I Think of You begins with Zeesy Powers, 31, alone onstage, a camera off to the side. If you want to know exactly what she thinks of you, you can sign a contract and take a seat to her left.

"For the past two performances, I've been keeping it a little lowkey," she said on Saturday, during the last of three events for the SummerWorks festival in Toronto. "I thought we'd bring it up to something a little intense and ugly tonight."

A full hush. Then, a middleaged man, with a workaday resemblance to porn star Evan Stone, stepped forward. He stared intently at the artist. "You look like a sadder version of an actor who sat in that chair last night," Powers told him, adding that, judging by his face, "Maybe things have worn at you a bit more." She spoke lucidly, though not in a cruel way, about his "sad, worried lines," the psychology of his ponytail, and his "sultry" eyes.

He took it with stoicism. When he mentioned he was trying to be more honest with himself, Powers replied forcefully, "That is not a good reason to come to this show tonight."

I've known Powers socially, not well, for about a decade. She's been performing this show for seven years, but this was the first time I'd gone to see it. I'd always been scared to, and though I loved the concept, the fact that Powers could pull it off made her seem a little other than human.

This is a typical misconception, she explains over the phone: "People in the audience are expecting Don Rickles, like an insult comic or something like that. And I'm not an insult comic, at least not intentionally."

Onstage, she appeared to be more vulnerable than any of the eight participants, partly because her task is impossible by design.

The piece originated at a zine fair, where Powers, an interdisciplinary artist, was selling portraits for $10. "I thought it would be funny to sell something that I thought nobody would buy," she says. So, for half the price, she offered to tell customers exactly what she thought of them. Like the portraits, the readings were only her take, for which she was surprised to find a demand. "I realized that a lot of [people] were looking for something a little more nuanced than just a confrontation." For some, it was "just the fact of having somebody pay attention to them for an extended period of time. It's almost a little bit like going to the spa."

The live show, with its intimation of gore, was inspired by daytime talk shows; for a while, Powers kept a box of Kleenex onstage. This was ballyhoo - the "nurse" stationed outside the midnight movie. Hurt feelings are not the point. Her judgments are nuanced. When they're harsh, she talks them out. "We invited all the mayoral candidates to come," she says. "And none of them did. But somebody said, 'Oh, it would be so exciting to tell Rob Ford exactly what you think of him.' Well you know, I could very easily tell him that I think he's fat, but that's also not exactly what I think of him. I think he's a really sad person who's trying his best."

After the ponytailed man came a young actress, for whom Powers mostly predicted success, followed by a polished man in his early 30s, pegged as applecheeked but sporadically intense. Halfway through the show, a graceful woman in her 70s emerged from the front row.

"Ohhh," Powers said affectionately, breathing heavier. "You already know what I think of you." This woman had been a mentor of Powers for more than a decade, and the reading seemed so effusive that I barely noticed the part about mortality; I ask Zeesy if she'd pulled her punches. "The big one with that was talking about death," she says. "Of course, by the time I was finished talking about it, it didn't seem bad at all. To just say to somebody, 'You really make me think about dying' - well, that's super harsh. And I did say that," but couched in enough detail to soften the blow.

Before that, I'd gone up. I hadn't planned to: When you know someone long enough without really knowing them, you tend to assume they dislike you, for all the reasons you've disliked yourself. But I was mostly touched by what she had to say, and even when I didn't exactly agree, I found myself absorbing a certain characterization; it was flattering. (I later ask Powers, who hadn't known I was coming, if the possibility of my writing about the show had influenced her reading. "I think I was more concerned that I might have to see you again," she replied.)

"People can be very selective - people should be very selective in what they want to hear, or what they want to take with them," which is why some participants, she says, find it so hard to watch themselves after the fact. In this way, the performance "isn't any different from a cold reading that a travelling psychic would do. I'm just much more transparent about my methods and also my prejudices."

What a psychic offers - or an astrologer, or even a therapist - isn't the truth so much as the illusion that somebody knows it. My need to feel as though someone has all the answers is different from my urge to figure them out. Onstage, I felt myself imbuing Zeesy with these powers. I was projecting my own reasoning, but I'd paid for the opportunity, which is partly the point of the piece.

"I do feel uncomfortable if people walk away going, 'Yup, everything got sorted out in that session. We got some answers, we figured out the truth of the matter.' " It's impossible to know exactly what you think of someone: Any one person is too many people. As Powers makes explicit, her readings are partly a reflection of her own needs - ones that are sometimes elusive to her - and partly a response to those of her subjects. The spectacle is of two people trying to make sense of themselves, alone with the same motivations. "It's an obnoxious setup," she says, "that all just leads to this one little point: Am I okay?" .

To see a selection of performances of I Will Tell You Exactly What I Think of You, visit IWTYEWITOY.

Associated Graphic

I Will Tell You Exactly What I Think of You originated when Zeesy Powers decided it would be funny to sell something people wouldn't want.

DIY sensation is a cause for optimism
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R4

I'm a child of MuchMusic, but even in the nineties, music videos seemed "iffy" - something apart from The Art, which threatened its integrity. Now, people are used to getting their music as part of an audiovisual onslaught. The song is part of a grid of associated projects. This is marketing, but the difference between art and marketing is indistinct: Beats by Dre ads are also music videos, Saturday Night Live specials promote the latest Arcade Fire.

Videos sell albums, but the album isn't necessarily the point; sometimes the marketing is the art, and the artist is a flavour available in cake, pie and muffin. But beneath all that, the artist needs a persona interesting enough, or absent enough, to fascinate consumers with a million other bids on their attention and little intention of paying much for music. This goes for acts large and small, though very few acts, large or small, have pulled it off as well as FKA twigs, who'd made herself iconic before releasing her first LP this Tuesday. (More on her in a second.)

For acts with limited resources, branding is both a creative endeavour and a necessity. It's also an ideological pose, a repudiation of the old taboo against trying. Liberated, indie acts sometimes make a point of chasing stardom. Two years ago I watched John O'Regan, a.k.a. Diamond Rings, a formerly independent act who'd recently signed with a major, and his creative director, Lisa Howard, who is also his cousin, work on the visual campaign for his upcoming record in her basement apartment. Howard is a makeup artist, while O'Regan has a degree in fine art; for them, hype building was a project, and a challenge, to see how big they could make themselves with a small machine.

Their ambition was part of the show - an earnest pose, shared by artists such as Claire Boucher, or Grimes, who recorded her last album, 2012's Visions, in her Montreal apartment. "I really hate being in front of people," she told Pitchfork's Carrie Battan around its release. "I'm also obsessed with becoming a pop star."

Last December, Boucher announced that she had signed a deal with Jay-Z's Roc Nation, whose website refers to Grimes as Boucher's "multimedia project"; in June, she released a song that had been written for, and rejected by, Rihanna. The track was underwhelming, but that seemed beside the point.

Small acts take cues from huge ones, just as huge acts ape the small. Artists whose show is the work of many hands have to project a sense of creative control, and stand out in a precarious marketplace. The most obvious example is Lady Gaga, whose solid pop hits earned her an audience while her team of creative collaborators made her a living parade float. Two of its most essential members quit before the release of her most recent album, ARTPOP, which was launched with an "artRave" at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. There, Gaga took a ride in a hulking "flying dress" designed by her tech team, and performed in front of a Jeff Koons sculpture in her likeness, flailing from side to side in a wall-socket mask and inflatable suit like a drunk accosting a pedestrian.

The effect was blue-fluorescent and blinding, making it hard to tell where she was coming from: Gaga may well have good ideas, but she tends to throw money at them until they're buried under giant piles of it. It's nice to get a multimedia display along with your radio single, but the spectacle does risk swallowing up the music. Which brings us back to FKA twigs: one of very few artists to make her own spectacle convincingly. Twigs is a sensibility that flows across disciplines, and the aura surrounding her has grown so naturally that it's no surprise her album, LP1, meets all expectations - not that LP1 needs to be the focal point for what she is.

Born Tahliah Barnett in Gloucestershire, in 1988, twigs (she spells it lowercase) started out as a dancer, appearing onstage and in videos for major pop acts, before realizing that, as she told Zane Lowe of BBC, she loved dancing to music more than dancing itself. In 2012, she released a video for the song Hide: Co-directed with a friend, the filmmaker Grace Ladoja, it showed her torso in black and white, hyperreal against a red background, hands creeping toward, but never touching, the tip of the anthurium between her legs. (A literal anthurium, not an awful metaphor.)

Her music has been filed under trip-hop and alternative R&B, but from the beginning, twigs seemed to come with her own genre: high, trembling vocals exuding both vulnerability and strength; shifting tempos and disappearing melodies; sound effects as cryptic and precise as machine guts. More videos, created with Ladoja and the stunning Jesse Kanda - the best friend and roommate of producer Arca, with whom she's also worked - made her seem like a subculture unto herself, a foregone star. Without a full-length under her belt, she was filling venues, including New York's Webster Hall and Toronto's Danforth Music Hall, where, from reports, she was as transfixing as everyone hoped she would be.

It isn't just her music, or her videos, or her movement - or her style, or her beauty. It's the fact that all of it, even her face, seems to come from the same mysterious place. The work is excellent, but just as impressive is the fact that it all manifests the same arresting sensibility. Twigs pulls this off far more professionally than most independent acts, and with far more integrity than most superstars. Her show is more than music because she's more than a musician.

To mention "integrity" feels square - it smacks of the old attitude that sees the well-presented as phony, and the phony as impure. But it's still important that a spectacle feel organic, the outgrowth of a real idea. An audience needs to trust the figure throwing abstractions - to have faith that she's tapped into whatever makes it make sense.

You could say that twigs's success is a triumph for DIY - she's made herself a sensation with just a small community of wellchosen collaborators - but artists are rarely ingenious enough to pull this off. For me, twigs is a cause for optimism, proof of how pop is evolving. What I love about music, or any art form, is the sense of a world I want to spend time in; twigs, like Bjork or David Byrne before her, shows how expansive a world can be.

Associated Graphic

FKA twigs released her first album, LP1, on Tuesday.

Poised for takeoff
She may be 16, but world No. 2 amateur Brooke Henderson possesses the work ethic, composure and focus that her peers lack
Friday, August 22, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

LONDON, ONT. -- Brooke Henderson drives through her first tee shot of the day with a commanding ping, and those looking on whoop and utter their amazement. This poised heavy-hitter is only 16 years old.

The teen from Smiths Falls, Ont., is the No. 2 amateur female golfer in the world, hardly a favourite at this week's Canadian Pacific Women's Open alongside seasoned LPGA pros. Yet with stellar results at the recent U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Women's Open, the youngster now really draws a crowd. She has verbally committed to play at the University of Florida in 2015, yet she could leap to the LPGA sooner. She's Canada's most promising female golfer and a likely headliner for the country when golf debuts at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics.

She's been compared to rising Canadian tennis star Eugenie Bouchard because of her success at such a young age and poise beyond her years. No doubt, the likeness is also drawn in part due to Henderson's glowing smile, blue eyes and blond braided ponytail.

But the young golfer could also be paralleled with Canadian NBA draft pick Tyler Ennis, who was raised in a basketball-loving house, a little boy playing on a Fisher Price hoop with his older brothers and father long before thriving as the Syracuse point guard at just 19. Like Bouchard and Ennis, Henderson fell in love with her sport early and went all in.

Henderson's first brushes with golf came when she was about four, watching sister, Brittany - six years her senior - play in local tournaments.

"I wanted to be just like her," Henderson said. "She'd be swinging her club on the fairway, and I'd be picking up a stick in the woods trying to match her swing.

I just loved it."

Their father, Dave, taught the girls how to golf. The longtime schoolteacher also ran an after-school golf program called Junior Linksters, where Henderson would hack around on the end of the range while he taught.

Soon, the younger Henderson was winning golf tournaments, too. As her golf talent grew, so too did her ability as a hockey goalie, taking after her father, who had played net at the University of Toronto. She honed her skills at an indoor golf school in Smiths Falls all winter while also playing girls' hockey.

"I can remember, when she was like 11 or 12, she would come into my golf school in the winter and she'd hit some balls, then sit down with a healthy snack, and get back up with a tennis ball and go throw it against the wall in the warehouse to work on her reflexes for goaltending," said Paulin Vaillancourt, her coach at Smiths Falls Golf & Country Club. "Then she'd be right back to hitting golf balls. Her work ethic was always tremendous, and she and her sister always had incredible maturity."

Her sister went off to play golf at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, S.C. The younger Henderson would travel to watch the occasional tournament and sometimes visit her sister in the college dorms. She dreamed of playing college golf herself some day.

"Starting around 12 or 13, I started to feel I would love to have a career in the sport and make it to the LPGA, so I gave up playing hockey, which was tough," Henderson said. "But being a goalie, I faced a lot of heat sometimes and it could be stressful, so I think that has helped me on the golf course, playing with big crowds, coming down the stretch and having to finish strong."

Women's national amateur team coach Tristan Mullally had heard about the youngster before he took over the job three years ago, but seeing her up close was something special.

"Her focus in that training environment was way higher than I had seen at that age," said Mullally, who saw her at age 14. "To be that focused and in-tune with herself at that age is pretty unique."

Today, Henderson can drive the ball in the 250-yard range, which puts her among the top 85 on the LPGA Tour.

"She swings more like a male golfer," Vaillancourt said. "I used to have a clubhead speed radar here at my golf school, and I used to try to get them to swing as fast as they could, get that clubhead speed up. She gets her legs and hips right into it, and she hits it dead-straight. When she hits it, it just makes a different sound."

She recently set a new championship scoring record on her way to victory at the PGA Women's Championship of Canada, where she piled up 14 birdies and an eagle in the two-day event at Fire Rock Golf Club in Komoka, Ont.

She was the runner up at the U.S Amateur Championship, and finished 10th at the U.S Women's Open - the low amateur of the event.

In this, her third appearance in a Canadian Women's Open, Henderson will try to make the cut for the first time. She scored a two-under 70 in Thursday's first round, tying with Rebecca-Lee Bentham, Elizabeth Tong and Sara-Maude Juneau as the second-lowest from Canada. Of the 15 Canadians in the event, LPGA rookie Jennifer Kirby of Paris, Ont., was the low one of the day with a five-under 67. South Korean So-yeon Ryu leads the tournament at nine-under.

As an amateur, Henderson doesn't collect prize money when she plays LPGA Tour events, but she is currently the highestranked Canadian golfer in the Women's World Golf Rankings at No. 199. Yet, the rising talent remains very humble. She returns to Smiths Falls to work for Vaillancourt, picking up golf balls, cleaning clubs or selling raffle tickets, even as many golfers there now ask for her autograph. After the Canadian Open, she will go caddy for her sister in Palm Springs, Calif., as she plays in the first stage of qualifying school for the LPGA Tour.

"This year, my goal was to get inside the top three, and I've been able to do that, so now I'm setting my sights on the No. 1 spot," Henderson said. "When I think back, a year ago last January, I was the No. 32 amateur in the world and now I'm No. 2, so it's been a great run and I want to continue it."

Associated Graphic

Brooke Henderson hits a shot during a golf clinic at the Canadian Pacific Women's Open at the London Hunt and Country Club in London, Ont., on Tuesday.


One child and two adults are in critical condition after a magnitude-6.0 earthquake slammed the San Francisco Bay area, shattering vintage buildings and bottles in the famed winery region. And yet, despite widespread damage and more than 100 injuries, 'it certainly is not the Big One'
The Associated Press
Monday, August 25, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A6

NAPA, CALIF. -- The largest earthquake to hit the San Francisco Bay Area in 25 years sent scores of people to hospitals, ignited fires, damaged several historic buildings and knocked out power to tens of thousands in California's wine country on Sunday.

The magnitude-6.0 earthquake that struck at 3:20 a.m. about 10 kilometres from the city of Napa, Calif., ruptured water mains and gas lines, left two adults and a child critically injured, upended bottles and casks at some of Napa Valley's famed wineries and sent residents running out of their homes in the darkness.

Dazed residents, too fearful of aftershocks to go back to bed, wandered at dawn through Napa's historic downtown, where the quake had shorn a threemetre chunk of bricks and concrete from the corner of an old county courthouse. Boulder-sized pieces of rubble littered the lawn and street in front of the building and the hole left behind allowed a view of the offices inside.

There were no reports of any fatalities but the quake shook up residents, said Barry Martin, community outreach co-ordinator for the City of Napa, which has a population of 77,000.

"This was a pretty big jolt in Napa, but it certainly is not the Big One," Mr. Martin added in comments to local television, referring to fears Californians have of a catastrophic quake.

California, which sits along a series of seismic faults, is forecast to experience a much more powerful earthquake at some point, but scientists do not know exactly when it will come or how strong it will be, said Don Blakeman, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

"Usually when people talk about 'the Big One,' they're talking about something on the order of a magnitude 9, which of course is tremendously more powerful" than Sunday's quake, he said.

President Barack Obama was briefed on the earthquake, the White House said. Federal officials have also been in touch with state and local emergency responders. Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for southern Napa County, directing state agencies to respond with equipment and personnel.

Most damage appeared centred on Napa, a major tourist destination in northern California.

One hard-hit building housing winery tasting rooms had to be closed to tourists, and the floors of many wine stores were stained red from the contents of broken wine bottles.

Napa Fire Department operations chief John Callanan said the city has exhausted its own resources trying to extinguish six fires, some in places with broken water mains; transporting injured residents; searching homes for anyone who might be trapped; and answering calls about gas leaks and downed power lines.

Two of the fires happened at mobile home parks, including one where four homes were destroyed and two others damaged, Mr. Callanan said.

The earthquake sent 120 people to Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa, where officials set up a triage tent to handle the influx. Most had cuts, bumps and bruises received either in the quake, when they tried to flee their homes or while cleaning up, hospital chief executive officer Walt Mickens said. Three people were admitted with broken bones and two for heart attacks.

The child in critical condition was struck by part of a fireplace and had to be airlifted to a specialty hospital for a neurological evaluation, Mr. Callanan said.

The earthquake is the largest to shake the Bay Area since the magnitude-6.9 Loma Prieta quake in 1989, the USGS said.

That temblor struck the area on Oct. 17, 1989, during a World Series game between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics, collapsing part of the Bay Bridge roadway and killing more than 60 people, most when an Oakland freeway fell.

Sunday's quake was felt widely throughout the region. People reported feeling it more than 300 kilometres south of Napa and as far east as the Nevada border.

Amtrak suspended its train service through the Bay Area so tracks could be inspected.

Napa city manager Mike Parness said at an afternoon news conference that 15 to 16 buildings were no longer inhabitable, and there was only limited access to numerous other structures, mostly ones with broken windows.

Officials say they are still assessing buildings in the area.

In Napa, at least three historic buildings were damaged, including the county courthouse, and at least two downtown commercial buildings have been severely damaged. A Red Cross evacuation centre was set up at a high school, and crews were assessing damage to homes, bridges and roadways.

"There's collapses, fires," said Napa fire captain Doug Bridewell, standing in front of large pieces of masonry that broke loose from a turn-of-the-century office building where a fire had just been extinguished. "That's the worst shaking I've ever been in."

Mr. Bridewell said he had to climb over fallen furniture in his own home to check on his family before reporting to duty.

The shaking emptied cabinets in homes and store shelves, set off car alarms and had residents of neighbouring Sonoma County running out of their houses and talking about damage inside their homes.

Pacific Gas and Electric spokesman J.D. Guidi said close to 30,000 lost power right after the quake hit in Napa and in the neighbouring cities of Sonoma, St. Helena and Santa Rosa. But by Sunday afternoon, the number was down just under 19,000. He said crews were working to make repairs, but it was not clear when electricity would be restored.

The depth of the earthquake was about 11 kilometres, and numerous small aftershocks have occurred, the USGS said.

"A quake of that size in a populated area is of course widely felt throughout that region," said Randy Baldwin, a USGS geophysicist in Golden, Colo.

California highway patrol officer Kevin Bartlett said cracks and damage to pavement closed a portion of a westbound interstate highway. He says there haven't been reports of injuries or people stranded in their cars, but there are numerous flat tires from motorists driving over damaged roads.

Associated Graphic


Nina Quidit cleans up the Dollar Plus and Party Supplies Store in American Canyon, Calif., after the biggest earthquake to strike the region in 25 years wreaked havoc early Sunday morning. The magnitude-6.0 quake ruptured gas and water lines, started six fires, killed power to 30,000 residents and sent more than 100 people to hospital for treatment.


Mobile homes in Napa, Calif., such as Steve Brody's, were hit hard by the quake.


The earthquake rendered 15 to 16 buildings uninhabitable and ripped bricks from Napa's post office.


A turf war over very valuable real estate
Putting numbers to the Arbutus Corridor may help focus the mind to future development options
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S6

As bulldozers showed up for demolition duty on the Arbutus Corridor last week, the battle between the city and Canadian Pacific took a controversial turn, with innocent fava beans and zinnias squashed in the middle.

Judging from the outcry, residents were divided between those who thought the railway company was stomping all over the little guy, and those who believed that CP had every right to do what it wanted with its own property.

The city says it had offered CP $20-million in exchange for the 11-kilometre strip of land that runs from Granville Island to the Fraser River.

It is zoned as a transportation corridor and CP owns the right of way. CP's asking price is $100-million. A train hasn't run along the line in 14 years, which is around the time when west side gardeners started growing a patchwork quilt of community gardens at various points along the line. Victory Gardens in Marpole has been in operation between 50th and 57th Avenue since 1942, supplying produce during the war years.

But the corridor issue goes beyond the lovely gardens, and we are definitely a city known for our gardens.

Arbutus Corridor is a political hot potato because of a prolonged battle and the west side's escalating property values, which have made the land worth a fortune. CP has never formally discontinued the track, so any talk of other uses is a moot point until a deal is struck. Negotiations, and court battles, go back for more than a decade, and the value of the land in question has gone up considerably - and will continue to do so. We need to figure this one out.

A green corridor that cuts along the city is unique, which is why it would make an ideal linear park. There would seem to be an opportunity here to create a valuable public amenity that all taxpayers could enjoy, something akin to New York's successful High Line, which is a former unused railroad converted into a one-mile walkway. As to the value of the Arbutus Corridor, a respected real estate analyst supplied some numbers anonymously. As I said, the issue is an extremely hot potato, and he didn't want to get embroiled in the controversy.

Let's look at the hard numbers to put things in perspective, even if the matter is a more complex story than the data can provide.

It took him a couple of days to gather these numbers, and he based his figures on an almost contiguous right-of-way that totals about 42.8 acres of land, or 173,139 square metres, extending 500 metres from both sides of the railway centre line.

Property values vary considerably along the line. However, existing parks adjacent to, and in proximity to the corridor, average an assessed value of $2,344 per square metre.

If the city were to designate the Arbutus Corridor for use as a park, its average assessed value is $406-million, according to the data.

However, if valued as a railway, the number drops considerably. Railway land is relatively inexpensive, and this line is abandoned and rundown. At an average of $145 per square metre, the value comes in at around $25-million - closer to the city's offer.

Let's look at the housing number, because we Vancouverites love to talk about residential real estate. Hypothetically speaking, if the land were to be rezoned and developed for use as single-family housing, it would have an average assessed value of more than $2-billion, according to the data. That's based on an average land value per square metre of $12,254.

That's probably never going to happen, mind you, but it illustrates the land's worth. We won't even bother calculating its use as multi-family or condo tower housing because that figure is in the stratosphere.

Although the city has never talked about development, some argue that parts of the line would eventually cry out for some sort of development, especially since there are already some adjacent city-owned lands.

"It's worth more than $20-million," says real estate analyst Richard Wozny. "The speculative premium alone would more than double that figure.

"The site is so large and complex that no matter how green or how transportation-oriented, any logical land use plan would warrant a little development here and there."

For example, without a rail line running through it, Kerrisdale would no longer need east and west boulevards. That would free up land for development of some kind, he says.

"The rail line cuts across the city with extensive roadways beside it," he says.

"If the city were to consolidate it with some of the roads, which would now become redundant, it could create large properties for possible development in the future."

Mr. Wozny isn't referring to just market housing development.

A future plan might include retail, affordable housing, rental housing, neighbourhood amenities, as well as that High Linestyle linear park, but with proper cycling and jogging paths. An Arbutus Corridor cycling path could tie in at the north end with the path heading east, around Olympic Village. Considering that there is more green space on the west side than the east side of the city, it would be reasonable for east-side residents to connect to the corridor with an extended bicycle path.

It's a sure bet that any talk of development would be met with some outrage. Back in 1999, when CP said it wouldn't service Molson Brewery any more - its only customer along the corridor - it also announced a proposal to zone the land for residential and commercial use.

That was met with huge backlash from neighbours who pushed for public transportation and jogging paths. The city's Arbutus Corridor Official Development Plan came out of a series of public hearings in 2000, designating the land for transportation and greenways.

There's another aspect to consider, says a well-known urban planner who also wished to remain nameless. The public land was granted to CPR a century ago for use as a railway, he points out.

"When the railways were given land by the provincial government to build railroad connecting the country it was for that purpose.

So when a railroad is through with the land for its intended purpose, should it not go back to the people of B.C.?"

Associated Graphic

A CP Rail officer, right, stands by as workers remove community gardens from a stretch of CP Rail line. The once-abandoned 11-kilometre-long Arbutus Corridor has been used by residents for many years as a greenway where community gardens were erected.


Namby-pamby protagonists: Step aside
Caroline Adderson ditches her passive observer, opts for a take-no-prisoners divorcee to lead in her new novel, Ellen in Pieces
Saturday, August 30, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R6

VANCOUVER -- You dream it and shape it and tussle with it and manage to squeeze it out of your brain and translate it onto the page. You stress and sweat and weep (and bliss out) and lose sleep and lose track and rework it and rework it and rework it through a yearslong gestation process. Then you, the author, send your baby out into the world. Now it is at the mercy of the reviewers, prize juries, Indigo's merchandiser and Amazon's algorithm.

Caroline Adderson knows the drill intimately - the anxiety, the terror, the utter helplessness of the just-published moment. A CanLit fixture who does beautiful things with the written word, Adderson, 50, has published four novels, two short-story collections and a bunch of children's books. This is a big year for her, with four releases: three books for children (including her first picture book), and her latest novel, Ellen in Pieces.

Ellen marks a departure in its format, and in its protagonist: no more namby-pamby passive observer types, Adderson vowed during a recent interview. Its release also marks a new approach for Adderson to that difficult authorial postpartum period.

"I look back on what I think has been kind of a typical Canadian career: B-list Canadian writer, written many, many books, all very well received, many, many, many nominations. Nobody's heard of me." Here she produces a great infectious laugh. "And then I had to say to myself, hmmm okay, let's look at the things you've written: a novel about two hairdressers who make a pilgrimage to the Auschwitz museum [A History of Forgetting]. Wow, everybody wants to read that. Buddhism and spinal-cord injury [Sitting Practice]. People actually recoil in horror when I say what these books are about." More laughter.

If I reduced Ellen in Pieces to a similarly simple one-phrase descriptive summary - and I won't because it would give too much away - its subject matter might also elicit a recoiling in horror. But really this is an unblinking portrait of the realities of midlife - its torments, yes, but its joys too.

Ellen McGinty is feisty and earthy and imperfect, and life has dealt her all kinds of blows - infidelity, an ugly divorce, the deaths of her parents, a war with her sister, troubles with her daughters - one has been to rehab, the other is 18 and pregnant. Life at what you might calculate to be the midway point appears pretty bleak. And then it gets bleaker.

But through it all, Ellen is a take-action dynamo force, the kind of woman you would want for your friend - or your protagonist.

"She kind of came to me fully formed; really I felt like she kicked a door open in my head," says Adderson, over lunch near her Vancouver home.

Ellen was born in part out of its format. Adderson felt the novel form was no longer a struggle for her, and thus less interesting. So she wrote a novel of linked stories. She also borrowed a page from her children's-book career: The child protagonist has to solve his or her own problems; an adult can't step in and do it for them.

"And then I realized, ah! That's really interesting!" (Adderson's enthusiasm means she often speaks in exclamation marks.) "I would say this is almost like the curse of CanLit: The protagonist is usually passive for a long time before they actually act. They're very introspective, they're pondering things. So I thought, wow, in my books, the protagonist is always the least interesting person in the book, right? The person who's watching everybody [else] ... who tends to be more flamboyant or original or interesting. So I thought" - and here she pounds the little outdoor patio table that holds her tuna salad - "that's the end! No more of that! And then bang, she just burst in, full form. And I thought this is a person who acts. She royally [screws] up through a lot of it, but she acts, right? She acts and then she has to fix it."

Our interview took place on publication day, launching a period on the CanLit calendar described by Adderson this way: "I'm sick to my stomach the whole month until the book comes out, and the curse of these bloody nominations. Then the list comes out and you're not on the list. And then you go to the festivals and you should all be having a great time. And all the [authors] are going, 'Ohhh, no nomination, my book sucks.' Everybody's just really depressed."

Now Adderson, who has earned a long list of honours, avoids knowing when prize nominations are being announced. "If I don't know about it, I'll be fine. I won't find out about it until two days later. But there's no need to call me up and tell me I didn't make it."

Adderson is no bitter CanLit survivor. She loves what she does, and feels grateful to scrape by in a two-artist household (her husband is filmmaker Bruce Sweeney). But she has learned to keep her eye on the real prize.

"I've done it long enough to know. I'm not going to get my knickers in a knot any more," she says, before recounting a trip to her cabin in August, 2010, ahead of the release of her novel The Sky Is Falling. It's the time of year for the Perseid meteor shower. Adderson watched the falling stars for hours - wishing on them repeatedly that her novel be successful.

"It's so pathetic," she says with a laugh, embarrassed at the memory. She tells the story freshly back from this year's summer break at the cabin. "This time I sat there, I watched the star, and I said, 'How lucky I saw a shooting star.' And there is my reward: to be able to see a shooting star. I don't have to attach it to some success of something completely unrelated. It's successful. I finished it. I wrote it. I wrote the book I wanted to write. What other people think about it, that's out of my hands. I'm too old now to get all tied up about it. It just ruins your life. It just ruins you."

Associated Graphic

Caroline Adderson, 50, says Ellen, the protagonist in her new novel, is a dynamo force despite having been dealt all kinds of blows; infidelity, an ugly divorce, the deaths of her parents, a war with her sister, and an 18-year-old pregnant daughter.


Only in Quebec, eh? Reflecting European tastes, consumers demonstrate a disproportionate affinity for small cars
Special to The Globe and Mail
Thursday, August 28, 2014 – Print Edition, Page D1

With less disposable income, higher fuel prices and an urbanized population, the Quebec auto market more closely resembles that of Europe than the rest of Canada.

Last year, compact, subcompact and compact SUV models made up 61 per cent of vehicle sales in the province, versus 45.8 per cent countrywide. The Hyundai Elantra and Honda Civic are the bestselling vehicles in the province, according to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc.

Furthermore, when it comes to compacts such as the Elantra and Civic, as well as the Toyota Corolla, Mazda3, Hyundai Accent and Volkswagen Jetta, Quebec accounts for anywhere between 47 to 71 per cent of all sales across Canada.

A variety of other factors make the Quebec auto market unique, ranging from economy to culture. For one, Quebeckers prefer to lease.

"There's certainly no love affair in Quebec for vehicle ownership, [while] there is a serious love affair in the rest of Canada," said Dennis DesRosiers, president of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc. "They buy more on a needs basis than on a wants basis. A lot of the major markets, like Alberta to a degree, B.C., Saskatchewan and Ontario, consumers buy as much vehicle as they can afford. In Quebec, they historically buy the least amount of vehicle they can afford."

Which explains why some affordable models, which have struggled to gain a toehold in other regional North American markets, have seen huge success in Quebec. The Fiat 500, for example, was considered a niche player when it entered the Canadian market in 2011.

In its first year, however, Fiat sold 5,700 Fiat 500s, with Quebec accounting for 43 per cent of all sales. Nissan didn't attempt to sell its new affordable subcompact, the Micra, in the United Sates, but sold nearly 1,000 in its first month after being introduced to the Canadian market in May.

According to Didier Marsaud, Nissan Canada's senior manager of corporate communications, Quebec will be a big part of the Micra's success in Canada.

Marsaud, who was born and raised in France, adds that he sees many parallels in car culture between his native country and Quebec, adding that the narrow city streets and lack of available parking contribute to the appeal of compact vehicles.

While foreign-made cars such as Hyundai and Nissan top the Quebec market, the province shows a strong aversion to American-made vehicles. In 2012, the Big Three averaged 50.1 per cent of market share across all other provinces, but GM, Ford and Chrysler only made up 30.6 per cent of sales in Quebec.

"The Quebec market was very European-centred, and then the Japanese displaced much of the European preference in the seventies and the eighties, and now the [South] Koreans are pushing the Japanese back a little bit," DesRosiers said. "But there's very much an anti-American sentiment in the Quebec vehicle market."

Though Dave Keane works in construction, the 35-year-old Montreal native doesn't feel the need to own a pickup truck. Instead, Keane drives a 2005 Mazda3 hatchback, which has enough storage space to carry tools and small amounts of materials to job sites, with better fuel economy and manoeuvrability than a pickup truck.

"People say, 'You're in construction, why don't you have a pickup?' " he said. "I don't see the point. Both environmentally and economically, it doesn't make sense to me. ... Gas prices are a real nuisance here, to say the least. Because of gas prices and being ecologically minded - at least we think we are - we're discouraged from driving a big truck or gas guzzler."

Economic factors have also forced the province into the lower end of Canada's car-buying landscape. Higher taxes, fuel prices and a sluggish economy have created a market for more efficient and affordable compact cars. According to a 2009 report by Natural Resources Canada, Quebec has the lowest vehicle ownership rate in the country, with 1.35 cars per household, compared with a national average of 1.47.

Of Hyundai Canada's 211 dealers, 61 are stationed in Quebec. Environmental sustainability has also begun emerging as a trend in the Quebec market, thanks in part to the higher fuel prices. According to fuel price tracking website, Quebec has the third-most expensive gas in the country, averaging 135.5 a litre. Montreal and Quebec City are also the second- and third-most expensive cities for buying gas, with a respective average of 136.2 and 134.4 a litre, trailing only Vancouver. As a result, the market tends to sway toward more fuelefficient compact and semicompact vehicles, but hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles are still far from reaching the same level of popularity. The Quebec transportation electrification program provides substantial rebates for making the switch - up to $8,000 per electric vehicle and $1,000 per charging station.

Hydro-Québec also launched Canada's first-ever public charging network in 2011, which will include 230 charging stations throughout the province, but DesRosiers believes a significant electric fleet is far from reality in Quebec.

"The plug-in electrics and hybrids have failed virtually everywhere in Canada, with the exception of the Toyota Prius," he said. "That being said, all roads lead to electric, so you start to look out 10 years or 20 years, Quebec is probably the best-positioned province to grow their plug-in electric fleet."

Electric vehicles remain few and far between on the streets of Quebec, but so are large SUVs and pickup trucks, for both cultural and economic reasons.


Quebec's distinct culture leads automotive companies to devise unique marketing strategies. Marketing materials cannot simply be translated, explains Chad Heard, manager of public relations for Hyundai Canada.

Montreal-based Tequila Communications has created campaigns tailor-made for the Quebec audience, building a series of ads around local actor Guillaume Lemay-Thivierge. In 2011, Hyundai released a television ad for the Accent in both markets. Most of North America saw an ad about four male friends using a magic wand to change traffic lights and transport themselves into the neighboring Hyundai Accent full of girls, over an upbeat song composed by B.C.-based band The New Pornographers. In Quebec Guillaume Lemay-Thivierge led viewers through Quebec scenes, in a campaign titled "Les Accents du Quebec."

Associated Graphic

Residents of Quebec lean more heavily toward leasing than consumers in other provinces.


Quebec has the third-most expensive gas in Canada, and prefers more fuel-efficient cars.



Spirits align for Ogopogo opera
It took nearly 20 years to stage The Lake/N-ha-a-itk at the home of its mythical monster. But for Heather Pawsey, it was meant to be
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R5

VANCOUVER -- It was patriotism - and fate - that launched Heather Pawsey's 19-year search for Ogopogo. It wasn't Lake Okanagan's mythical creature itself that she was after, but an opportunity to stage a Canadian opera about an Ogopogo sighting, in the actual spot where the real-life event had taken place. Written in the 1950s, that opera, titled The Lake, had never received a full production when Pawsey discovered it.

The first part of this Canadian opera tale begins in the early 1870s when Susan Allison and her husband, John, settled on the west side of Okanagan Lake at their Sunnyside Ranch. On a stormy fall day when John and their son had gone across the lake for supplies, Susan, concerned for their fate and scouring the water for their boat, spotted what she first thought was a tree but quickly came to believe was the lake dweller known as n-ha-aitk - a creature she had heard so much about from her aboriginal friends.

The story picks up in the 1950s, when Barbara Pentland, a pioneering modernist composer, teamed up with Governor-General's Award-winning poet Dorothy Livesay (both women were born in Winnipeg and died in British Columbia) to write an opera. Commissioned by an amateur organist from London, Ont., The Lake recounted Susan Allison's sighting of Ogopogo in 1873. But beyond a CBC Radio broadcast, it was never staged.

Jump to 1995, when Pawsey, a young soprano, entered the Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition. She wanted to sing an aria from a Canadian opera, but the Canadian opera scene being what it was, she didn't know of any. So she set off for the Canadian Music Centre B.C. Region, where for days she pulled all kinds of songs and arias off shelves - until she came across a handwritten, unpublished score. It was The Lake, and Pawsey was hooked.

"I opened it and I looked at the first page and honest to God I went, 'This is it, this is the aria.' And I knew I was going to have a really long relationship with this piece," Pawsey told The Globe and Mail.

She would win first prize with that aria the following year, but before that - in between rounds one and two of the competition - she was visiting Quails' Gate Winery in West Kelowna, B.C., with her husband. As she tells it, while her husband was geeking out over wine during a tasting in a little log cabin on the property, she found a scrapbook about the house. Flipping through it, it became apparent that she was in the spot where Allison had spotted Ogopogo.

"I realized that Sunnyside Ranch was Quails' Gate Winery now and I'm standing in Susan Allison's house and I went, 'We have to do it here,' " says Pawsey, who did not yet have a company (she has since founded Astrolabe Musik Theatre) and could not fathom how she was going to do it, but was determined to stage the opera there nonetheless.

"It was one of those weird times when you get a message from the universe, the powers, the spirits, whatever it is that you believe in that something comes to you and you don't have a choice; it just has to happen."

Nineteen years later, it is finally happening. The Lake is being performed at Quails' Gate this weekend, with Pawsey singing the role of Susan Allison. (Further evidence of this being fated: Allison and Pawsey, both of Scottish ancestry, share the same birthday - Aug. 18, the day after the show closes - and they both arrived in B.C. on their birthdays.)

It is the first fully staged production of the work. But this is not The Lake as Pentland and Livesay had written it. This is The Lake/N-ha-a-itk, with the original work as its core, but also infused with the music, traditions and legends of the Westbank First Nation, for whom n-ha-a-itk is an important figure (as opposed to the tourism-driving kitschy commercial mascot to which Ogopogo is often reduced).

In 2012, the centenary of Pentland's birth, Pawsey staged a concert version of The Lake at the black-box theatre at Vancouver's Chan Centre. Delphine Derickson, a musician and teacher and member of the Westbank First Nation, was in the audience - it was her first opera - and after the performance, ventured backstage to provide some feedback.

"Our history [is] never really told from our point of view, so it was an opportunity for me, because I'm a teacher ... to [provide] the correct information," says Derickson, who grew up hearing about sightings of n-ha-aitk from elders and her own relatives. (She declined to specify what she felt may have been inaccurate.)

Backstage at the Chan, Derickson and Pawsey began talking. Derickson confided that she had written a song about n-ha-a-itk. She sang it for Pawsey.

"And I looked at this woman and I thought she's speaking from her heart; I'm going to speak through mine," recalls Pawsey. "And I said, 'You have this thousands-of-years-old musical tradition and ... I've wanted to bring this opera home for 17 years.' She said, 'I'll do anything I can to make that happen.' And I said, 'Do you think there's any way that your rich tradition of music could ever meet with ours? Could we experiment? Could we explore? Could we find ways of connecting?' And she looked at me and she said, 'Would you teach me to sing opera?' And I said, 'Would you teach me to sing in your language?' " Derickson has become an integral part of The Lake/N-ha-a-itk, a collaboration between Astrolabe Musik Theatre, Turning Point Ensemble and the Westbank First Nation.

Pawsey arrived at Quails' Gate to prepare last Sunday night, and stood at the spot where her dream was born, watching as the supermoon rose over the lake.

"Nineteen years, later I'm still pinching myself, going wow, I can't believe this is actually happening," she told The Globe the next morning. "And then to be blessed with that moon last night was like, oh whoa, this has to be a good omen from the spirits."

The Lake/N-ha-a-itk is being performed at Quails' Gate Winery Aug. 15 and 16 at 8 p.m. and Aug 17 at 2 p.m. (

Associated Graphic

Delphine Derickson, left, a Westbank First Nation member, worked with Heather Pawsey to develop the current version of The Lake/N-ha-a-itk.


After 10 years of touring, there's still so much to talk about
Friday, August 22, 2014 – Print Edition, Page G3

Slept in Frank Sinatra's bedroom: check. Toured a 1960s glass-and-steel home so fantastic, it could have been part of the Case Study House program were it not at Kempenfelt Bay: check. Fought for Riverdale Hospital, Inn on the Park, Montreal's "Trend House," and Victoria College's Wymilwood; cried thrice and cheered once: check. Interviewed some of Toronto's greatest postwar builders, engineers and architects: check. Interviewed tomorrow's stars: check. Tried to point out things busy people don't have time to appreciate - sidewalk stamps, telephone exchange names on signs, public sculpture, hydro houses and bee condos - and got a kick when I heard that they now do: check.

Had an absolute blast this past decade: check. That's right: At the end of the month, your humble Architourist will blow 10 candles out on his cake.

While I started as a feature writer in the spring of 2003, the weekly Architourist column debuted on Sept. 3, 2004, with a look at the CNE's Food Building (then celebrating its 50th anniversary). A week later, I profiled a heritage activist in Bowmanville who painted the pillars on his 1890 home purple to draw attention to the benefits of Heritage Conservation Districts (HCDs).

And those two topics, I think, set the tone for the journey thus far, as I've tried to learn as much as possible about the postwar boom years in Ontario, and have also championed those among us who fight for our built heritage - whether from 1850 or 1950 - across Canada and the U.S. And the response I've received from all of you tells me you're as excited as I am.

Indeed, there's electricity in the air when water-cooler conversations turn to architecture. And why not? - there's so much construction in the GTA, and our resale market is so red hot, everyone's got a story. Civic pride is so strong right now - whether expressed via books, graphic art, T-shirts, ugly condo awards, or Spacing's TTC buttons - my septuagenarian and octogenarian friends say it rivals the 1960s, when Toronto emerged from its provincial shell into a truly cosmopolitan city.

Speaking of which, I'd argue we were already halfway there by the 1950s. One of the first pieces I wrote for Globe Real Estate was about the widow of painter/ muralist R. York Wilson, Lela Wilson, who, at 92 (in 2003), was still living in the home the couple had had custom-designed by architect John Layng as a painter's paradise in 1955. Seven years later, I wrote about Toronto's "only Bauhausler," Andor Weininger, a Hungarian artist and furniture designer who'd studied under the greats at the Bauhaus school in the 1920s and chose to live here from 1951 to 1958, where he produced his best work. And, as regular readers know, at various times I've dug into the modernist dirt of Don Mills, our brave "New Town" that began in 1952, and I've documented the race Peter Dickinson and John C. Parkin had to see who could throw up more modernist towers (and both even dabbled in a few residential projects) in that decade.

Clearly, Toronto began its quest to be modern in the 1950s.

But I never wanted this space to be a one-trick pony. In 2005, as a greenhorn in the world of green/ sustainable architecture, I met with Glen Hunter to tour his offgrid, straw bale home outside of Peterborough, Ont. I was dazzled by his passive and active solarpower systems, and by his wind tower, but mostly how the style of his home - penned by Paul Dowsett, then with Scott Morris, now with Sustainable.TO - was thoroughly un-Hobbit-like and totally 21st century. That started me on a quest to meet other architects in Toronto doing green things, such as Levitt-Goodman, Solares, Brown + Storey, and Terrell Wong.

I also met architects who'd hung their shingles around the same time I started writing, so I could take the pulse of Toronto today, and get a sense of our collective future; after the privilege of reviewing superkül, Agathom, Reigo & Bauer, RAW and Dubbeldam (to name but a few) I can say without hesitation that the next few decades are in very talented hands.

Perhaps best of all, personally, is that many listed here have become good friends. Breaking bread and sipping wine with an architect - and allowing the discussion to veer into non-architectural territory - is a wonderful way to understand their work.

That's why the advice I give to anyone before hiring an architect is: "Do you like them as a person?

You'd better, because you're going to be strapped into an emotional roller coaster with them for the next 18 months!"

And while I don't fancy myself an architecture critic, I've been mad enough to dust off the soapbox on a few occasions. The rant that got the largest response was penned in February, 2005, and truth be told, while from the heart, it was something I dashed off because I had to catch a flight to Cuba the next day. In an open letter, I asked why current-day builders didn't think new versions of the small, stylish 1,200 to 1,700-square- foot homes I'd been coveting in a 1965 Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation book were marketable today.

Three years later, I lambasted the condo-development community for choosing building names that brought to mind California or New York City rather than the T-Dot.

While the latter has improved, the former still needs work, since I've yet to see a development of modern single-family homes come to market.

The biggest mistake I ever made was when I called the HMS Ajax a "battleship" rather than a "Leander class light cruiser" in a column about the 50th anniversary of the Town of Ajax; the number of e-mails I received (only a few were unkind) made me realize Globe readers pay very close attention and that I'd do well to bone up on my proofreading skills.

All in all, however, I've got little to complain about. The decade I've spent writing The Architourist has been the highlight of my professional life. And with your support, I'll try to make it to 2024.

Associated Graphic

Lela Wilson's striking Wychwood Park house, above, and Frank Sinatra's house in Palm Springs, Calif., above right, are two of Dave LeBlanc's highlights from his years as the Architourist.


U.S. discounters' shares retain bargain allure
For TJX and Ross Stores, the off-price business model has worked well - and investors are taking notice
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, August 30, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B7

Winners - it's not just the name of a Canadian clothing chain. It's an apt description of Winners' parent, TJX Cos. Inc., and its biggest rival, Ross Stores Inc.

The two are North America's leading "off-price" clothing retailers. The business model: Snap up overstocks and clearance items from the makers and department stores at a deep discount, then sell them to value-oriented middle-class customers at discounts of 20 per cent to 60 per cent off regular prices.

The model is proving to work in both bad times and good. Both companies posted stellar secondquarter reports, prompting analysts to raise estimates and target prices - and investors to bid up the shares. TJX is up nearly 11 per cent from its Aug. 18 announcement, and Ross Stores is up more than 8 per cent since Aug. 21.

That means the shares aren't as "off-price" as they used to be. Yet investors interested in companies with consistently solid returns and the prospect for sustained, steady growth will likely find there's still value in these stocks.

Both companies rely on aggressive and timely buying systems, sophisticated inventory management and distribution and, very important, scale. Massachusettsbased TJX Cos. has 3,100 stores in the U.S., Canada and Europe, primarily under the T.J. Maxx and Marshalls brands. (There were 345 Canadian locations at yearend 2013, primarily under the Winners and HomeSense brands.) California-based Ross Stores has roughly 1,300 locations, with more than half in California, Florida and Texas.

Analyst Richard Jaffe of Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. Inc. describes the model: "Off-price retailers operate their business quite differently from a typical retailer, and have succeeded in creating a competitive moat around the business. Merchandise is bought close to need, versus six to nine months in advance at a typical retailer." Stores are set up so that departments don't have a fixed amount of space for specific products, allowing flexibility based on customer demand, he said.

The winning math for both chains is same-store sales growth - gains in revenue at stores open at least a year - coupled with a healthy number of new-store openings.

Analyst Tuna Amobi of Standard & Poor's Capital IQ says in the near term, TJX, whose shares closed Friday at $59.61 (U.S.), is targeting annual increases in square footage of 4 per cent to 5 per cent. That would be coupled with 2-per-cent growth in samestore sales, TJX projects. (The gains for the 2014 fiscal year, which ended Feb. 1, were 4.7 per cent for square footage and 3 per cent in same-store sales.)

Mr. Amobi, who has a "buy" rating and $65 target price, says TJX believes the U.S. can ultimately support 3,825 locations. In Canada, 450 stores are the goal. Europe, where TJX has 400 stores, can sustain 875 in its existing markets and perhaps 1,800 if it expands into new countries.

Oliver Chen of Citigroup Global Markets Inc. has a "buy" rating and $72 target price. He says he expects the off-price retailers' customers "to stay even as the economy improves, given positive customer experiences and the ability to purchase branded goods at discounted prices."

Mr. Chen and Mr. Jaffe of Stifel, who has a $70 target price, believe TJX will trade at roughly 20 times its 2015 calendar-year earnings - once, as Mr. Jaffe puts it, investors come to see the company's "continued, consistent earnings growth."

Ross Stores, whose shares closed Friday at $75.42 (U.S.), has similar expansion potential. Morningstar analyst Bridget Weishaar says the company believes it can nearly double its number of locations, most of which use the "Ross" name. (The company also operates a 130-store chain, "dd's Discounts," which targets more lower-income consumers than the Ross nameplate does.)

"Our channel checks support this [store growth] thesis," says Ms. Weishaar, who has a "fair value" estimate of $80 on the shares.

"Long lines and quick inventory turnover indicate that even current markets offer the opportunity for additional growth."

S&P's Mr. Amobi, who has a "buy" rating and $80 target price, notes that Ross operates in just 33 states, giving it "ample opportunity for geographic expansion and market share gains." The company plans 75 new Ross stores and 20 new dd's in the current fiscal year.

John Kernan of Cowen & Co., who has an "outperform" rating and $80 target price, says "the company's improving access to branded apparel, sourcing capabilities, and potential to nearly double the domestic store base are under-appreciated."

Mr. Kernan sees Ross Stores' ample cash flow enabling it to grow its dividend (currently yielding 1.1 per cent) by 20 per cent or more, and repurchase roughly $500-million of stock each year. (The company is on track to buy back $550-million worth this fiscal year, it says.)

TJX, too, is a story of cash flow, returned to investors: Its dividend yield is 1.2 per cent, and Ms. Weishaar of Morningstar notes TJX has repurchased about 15 per cent of its shares over the past five years. Her financial models assume another 15-per-cent decline in the share count over the next five.

Traditionally, e-commerce has been a problem for off-price retailers of apparel and other goods. The downside of quick, opportunistic buying of other companies' remainders is that it's awfully hard to keep a website consistently stocked with merchandise.

But TJX is trying, launching a year ago and learning from Sierra Trading Post, a primarily online retailer it purchased two years ago. Analyst Mark Montagna of Avondale Partners says is "performing above plan, continuing to add more categories and expand to more vendors." E-commerce is just 1 per cent of sales right now, but "should be an increasingly meaningful contributor to profit dollars for the foreseeable future," he says.


Close: $59.61 (U.S.), down 16¢

Ross Stores (ROST)

Close: $75.42 (U.S.), up 19¢


TJX Cos. Inc. and Ross Stores Inc. both posted stellar second-quarter reports this month, prompting investors to bid up the shares. Yet investors interested in companies with consistently solid returns and the prospect for sustained, steady growth will likely find there's still value in these stocks.

Associated Graphic

Shares in TJX Cos., which operates Winners and HomeSense stores in Canada, are up nearly 11 per cent since Aug. 18.



When celebrities die, we sometimes grieve as if we knew them. Johanna Schneller on our complicated bond to the stars of the silver screen
Special to The Globe and Mail
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page R1

I was sitting with friends by a lake on Monday afternoon when another of our group, who'd been up at the house, came down with a strange look on her face. "Are you seeing this?" she asked, holding out her phone. "Robin Williams killed himself." My hands flew up to my mouth in surprise - the same way they would, I suspect, if I'd just heard that about someone I knew in (so-called) real life.

Reading the instant deluge of tweets, statements and essays about Williams, it's obvious that many people feel he was part of their lives, whether they'd met him or not. One young fan tweeted that watching Mrs. Doubtfire helped him cope with his parents' divorce. One woman wrote that Aladdin and Flubber were her babysitters at her cottage, night after night, year after year. Those tapes were as familiar to her, and as much a part of her summer routine, as her flesh-and-blood cottage friends were.

(It's worth noting, first, that Williams' biggest hits came out during the early generation of VCR/DVD viewing, when tapes and discs were piled beside television sets, and kids watched them over and over; and second, that his death occurs as those same kids are inventing how to grieve online - another place where concepts like "real life" and "real friends" are not easy to define.)

Some of the outpouring seemed genuine, some felt formulaic - but isn't that how grief is in real life? Aren't all wakes a mix of generic and personal?

Then on Tuesday, Lauren Bacall died, at age 89, after a stroke -and again, I had a reaction.

Not hands flung to face this time; rather, the shoulder slump and sigh you give when a friend's grandmother dies. Public reactions to Bacall's death were more muted, too - far fewer and less fervent; more about sharing fond memories from a long time ago.

It was like going to a great aunt's visitation: You note that few of her peers are left; you gaze at the collage of old photos that someone has set up on an easel, and marvel at how young and glamorous she was once. But you don't feel shattered, because you didn't know her that well any more; you'd lost touch with her a while back.

In an interview, George Clooney once said to me that no matter how popular a person becomes, fame lasts, at most, 80 years.

With Bacall - whose fame, at her heyday, rivalled anyone's - that seems about right. She has been famous for 70 years; in 20 more, the last of us who were young when she was working will be old, too. At that point, "fame" turns into "history."

This week's celebrity deaths also called to mind Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died of a drug overdose in February. The reaction to his death was something else again. Some mourned the troubled artist he clearly was; others were less kind, castigating him for stupidity and waste. But whether you felt sadness or ire or both, your feelings were no less genuine.

And why shouldn't they be? To me, celebrities are inarguably part of our "real" lives. Going to movies, watching TV, having conversations about whatever we just saw and the actors who were in it - that is some of the stuff of real life. We have real dreams with celebrities in them. We name our real pets, not to mention our children, after them. We imagine having sex with them, sometimes when we're with real people. How much more real does it get?

If you believe, as I do, that cinema is an art form, then it follows that it will engage your emotions.

Someone on a screen does or says something that moves you.

If he or she does it well or often enough, he or she becomes a star, and goes on to say more moving things. Eventually, if a star keeps gravitating toward quality material, it's not unreasonable to conflate that star with those feelings, or to feel that you and he or she share that feeling in common. Because, guess what, you do: You are both humans.

Part of the allure of celebritywatching, for me, has always been this: Most of us wonder how our lives would be different if we had more talent, more money, more access, more power, more ... something. Stars demonstrate for us what life with "more" looks like. They are examples we can point to and discuss. And in discussing their lives, we discuss our own - how marriages work or don't, how to raise kids, what breaks our hearts, who deserves a second chance, and why. Through their work and in interviews, stars share with us how other people experience being alive. They are professional empathy-elicitors.

So it's no wonder that, when a star such as Williams or Bacall dies, we feel, not that we know them exactly, but that we know enough about them to have a sense of the parameters of their characters and fates. Bacall's death - as a grande dame, after a full life - feels appropriate to the parameters we imagined. For Williams, on the other hand, suicide at 63, when he was still vital and widely beloved, when his synapses were still firing fast enough to dazzle scientists, feels outside the bounds.

We're not wannabes if we feel angry sorrow over Hoffman's overdose. We're not maudlin if, as we explain to our kids who Bacall was and why she mattered, we feel a stab of pain that all things pass, and we will, too. We're not wasting our time if we take to the Internet to help us process the weight of depression that crushed Williams. We're not even pathetic if we try to express our feelings in 140 characters or less. The feelings are real. It would be tragic not to feel them.

Associated Graphic

Robin Williams in Awakenings, 1990.


Fans took flowers to the building, left, where Lauren Bacall lived. She had been a huge star, in part because of her great, glamorous romance with Humphrey Bogart, but the reaction to her passing this week was more muted, perhaps because she was 89, seemed to have had a good long life, and was a star from another era.


Philip Seymour Hoffman's drug overdose in February elicited strong, and conflicting, emotions. Some mourn his too-soon passing; others decried the unnecessary waste of such a great talent.


The F Word gave screenwriter chance to use his own voice
Friday, August 22, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1

The F Word, a new romantic comedy opening Friday, covers familiar romcom territory - about men and women and friendship (or more). But it does so with a contemporary quirkiness, and a Canadian perspective. The film was shot in Toronto - proudly playing itself; directed by Canadian Michael Dowse (Goon); and written by Elan Mastai, who was born and raised in Vancouver. He adapted it from the Fringe Festival play Toothpaste and Cigars, by Canadians TJ Dawe and Mike Rinaldi, which Mr. Mastai saw in Vancouver in late 2004.

It also features a superstar actor in the lead role: Daniel Radcliffe plays the heartbroken medschool dropout Wallace to Zoe Kazan's unavailable (but happy to be friends!) Chantry.

"I think Elan Mastai ... is a very funny, very clever man," Mr. Radcliffe said during an interview at the Whistler Film Festival in 2012.

Mr. Mastai, 39, is now based in Toronto. We reached him in B.C., on vacation with his family.

Where were you in your screenwriting career when you saw that play?

When I was growing up in Vancouver, it felt like more of a place that people from Hollywood came to shoot their movies, but it wasn't really a place where people wrote movies.

The idea of being a screenwriter seemed very far away. I didn't know anybody in the business, I didn't have any connections. So I was very much open to whatever job came my way. I was still in university when I got hired to write my first movie. It was a kids' movie called MVP: Most Vertical Primate. That was in late 2000. And in 2005 I'd been working relatively steadily, but it was mostly on work-for-hire jobs. So The F Word was the first project where I was going to pursue my own voice instead of writing the version that someone was asking me to write.

How did you become screenwriter-for-hire?

This friend of mine from university was working for this producer. She said, I can't get you a job but I can at least get you a phone call with him. I ended up getting hired to write a draft on this kids' movie. I wrote three drafts in five weeks and every step of the way I assumed I was going to get fired because I didn't know what I was doing. The funny thing is, I don't think this woman totally explained to this producer that I had never written a movie before.

My approach was fake it till you make it. In fact, I knew so little that I didn't really even know how to format a screenplay. I bought the published screenplay for Pulp Fiction. I modelled my first screenplay off of what Quentin [Tarantino] had done. To the point where Pulp Fiction was 134 pages so I made my screenplay 134 pages - which is way too long for a kids' movie about a skateboarding chimpanzee. In fact, the producer described it as War and Peace with chimps.

The script for The F Word was in flux for years and next thing you know Daniel Radcliffe has signed on to play the lead. What was that like for you?

As soon as I met him I knew he was right for the part. And it's very exciting because you need to get someone who can close your financing and open your movie around the world. You want people to see your movie. He's a movie star and that's fantastic, but more than that, he totally embodied the character much more thoroughly than I had any reason to hope we'd find. Because when I started writing it, Daniel was a teenager doing Harry Potter movies. The idea of him starring in this movie would have seemed ludicrous. But once we actually met him and got to know him it became impossible to imagine anybody else playing the part. And because he's super famous, that helps.

What was he like to work with?

He's incredibly gracious and thoughtful. One day we were all sitting around shooting the breeze between setups and we overheard this extra complaining to another extra that she had a splitting headache. And Daniel just goes up to her and he's like, are you okay? He mentioned that he gets headaches sometimes too and he always keeps medication in his trailer; does she need anything? And you should have seen the look on this girl's face.

The film has had its title changed for the U.S. to What If. How do you feel about that?

It wasn't ideal. I love the title The F Word. I think it captures the kind of cheeky edgy charm of the film. But when we sold it for U.S. distribution they were very candid about it, that the ratings board would have an issue with calling it The F Word. I don't think anyone thinks American civilization is going to crumble just because of a cheeky title. But most Canadian movies struggle to even get seen on Canadian screens, let alone to get distribution across the U.S. and around the world. So if a title change is the price we have to pay for that, then it's well worth it. The fact that on our side of the border we have this cheeky, more evocative title is unique. And we just take it as a banner of pride - that Canadians can handle it.

I understand there were some changes made to the script - the end in particular.

We didn't actually change the ending of the movie, but we added an epilogue where we return to the characters 18 months later. When we sold the movie to our U.S. distributor, they felt very strongly that the audiences had become so invested in the characters that they wanted to know what happened to them.

It was something we went into with open eyes, but also with a lot of care to make sure we crafted something that felt of a piece with the rest of the movie, but provided a little more closure and just that kind of burst that you want at the end so everyone walks out of the theatre on a high.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Associated Graphic

Elan Mastai, screenwriter of the romantic comedy film The F Word, at his cabin on Bowen Island, B.C., on Thursday.


The wild coast of Tofino is good for more than just surfing: Its natural bounty is turning chefs into foragers - and their menus into celebrations of sea plants
Special to The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, August 26, 2014 – Print Edition, Page L1

TOFINO, B.C. -- We've come to Tofino, to the end of the road on Vancouver Island's wild west coast, to embrace the beach and all that it entails.

The beach is the backdrop to everything here. The big waves that curl and crash over miles of soft sand create a playground for surfers, a bounty for beachcombers and a constant white noise, as mesmerizing as the veil of fog that often rolls in behind.

We're content to stroll the packed white sand, and simply sit and stare at the truly majestic magnitude of it all. The cellphone coverage is spotty and the WiFi even worse, which makes these beaches the perfect place to unplug, unwind and just sit back and smell the seaweed. Or taste it.

Yes, that's on the agenda, too, for these pristine coastal waters are home to 20 kelp species, the highest concentration and diversity in the world. Healthy sea vegetables are the latest hot kitchen-commodities, and Tofino chefs have a bounty of choices, from the kelp and sea lettuce waving in the shallows, to the salty sea asparagus and dune spinach sprouting on the shore.

"Its just a cool idea to go for a walk along the beach and see what you can find to eat," says chef David Sider, who heads the team at the Pointe Restaurant at the Wickaninnish Inn and draws inspiration for his creative cooking from the beach pantry.

Sider arrived at the inn a year ago from Langdon Hall, another famous Relais & Chateaux property, and his multicourse tasting menu includes foraged sea plants on every plate, creations as stunning as the panoramic views of Chesterman Beach from every table.

We begin with a fluffy mound of reindeer moss, crisply fried and topped with shavings of saltcured egg yolk, an ephemeral mouthful of toast and egg. Then there's a cube of raw albacore tuna, dusted in charred leek, to dip in a swirl of sweet cream and electric-green dill oil, chased by a tender pink tendril of local octopus and a smoked Outlandish mussel, perched on a sliver of new potato under a flurry of spruce oil snow.

"We have a number of different foragers who visit the back door," Sider says. "But we can pick sea lettuce, beach peas, sea arugula and dune spinach right here."

We head out to the white shell beach beyond the hotel kitchen to search, and Sider plucks a handful of edibles, including the ruffled sea lettuce he'll lightly poach and serve in a foamy chicken and truffle emulsion, and the beach pea greens that will top a plate of tender halibut cheeks.

An estimated 650,000 tonnes of wild kelp grows along the province's coast, with bull kelp being the fastest growing seaweed on earth, growing from a tiny spore to a 61-metre plant in a single summer.

At the newly opened Wolf in the Fog in downtown Tofino, chef Nicholas Nutting combines bull kelp and kombu fronds from Canadian Kelp Resources in his tasty Bamfield Seaweed Salad, a textural feast of sautéed shiitake mushrooms, crisp daikon radish, kelp ribbons and crunchy puffed wild rice, in a warm sesame soy vinaigrette.

"We receive it dry, in long dehydrated strips, then it's blanched and julienned," says sous chef Martin Dean about the crinkly kelp that stars in this creative, Asian-inspired combination.

Fishing and foraging on the rugged west coast is at the heart of the Wolf in the Fog menu: Shareable plates include thick slices of tender Humboldt squid (this rare behemoth can weigh 100 pounds) and the Spanish Picnic platter of cod, octopus and mussels with romesco sauce.

Even the casual observer will find all manner of interesting sea plants on a stroll along Tofino's expansive beaches. But if you're really curious about seaweed, the local Raincoast Education Society offers free Raincoast Walks to explore the intertidal zone at low tide, and a three-day Seaweeds of the West Coast field course.

Long Beach Lodge chef Ian Riddick finds chanterelles and other tasty treats on his regular beach and rainforest walks. Riddick says he wants his food to be part of "the adventure" guests experience, so he smokes his own salmon, makes his own "Cox Bay Salt," and pickles bull kelp tubes with ginger and rice vinegar to create a crisp relish for the restaurant and new Sand Bar beachside café.

"We get mushrooms and nettles and recently our forager brought in 25 pounds of sea asparagus," says Riddick who arrived in Tofino last year, after stints in Whistler and Okanagan resorts.

"I've always been a forager, but I can actually find something to eat 12 months of the year here. That's unusual for Canada."


The beaches of Vancouver Island's wild west coast are renowned for their big surf and changeable weather. The most famous is legendary Long Beach, in Pacific Rim National Park, a 16-kilometre swath of sand backstopped by windswept, old-growth conifers and tangled driftwood. Walk all day or climb Incinerator Rock for a fantastic view. The others are: .

Chesterman Beach: It's a 2.7km stretch of white sand. The Wickaninnish Inn is at the north end of the beach, and there are posh homes and B&Bs along the beach, with its tide pools and sandspit to Frank Island, walkable at low tide.

Cox Bay Beach: Home to resorts including Pacific Sands Beach Resort, the Long Beach Lodge and the Cox Bay Beach Resort, this 1.5-km beach is a surfer's paradise.

MacKenzie Beach: The one closest to town, there are campgrounds along a beach that's sheltered by tidal rocks, with calm waters suited to swimming and paddle-boarding.

Wickaninnish Beach: A section of Long Beach, this stretch includes the Kwisitis Visitor Centre, massive sand dunes and piles of driftwood brought in on powerful ocean waves.

Tonquin Beach: The easywalking trail that leads to this beach starts less than a kilometre from the post office in downtown Tofino. Follow the boardwalk and stairs down to the beach for white sand and spectacular sunsets.

Associated Graphic

Chesterman Beach - 2.7-kilometres of white sand - is home to the luxe Wickaninnish Inn.


Grilled octopus with romesco, from the Wickaninnish Inn.

Far left: Salmon and pig-tail purée, from the Wickaninnish Inn.

Middle: Poached halibut cheek with sweet pea purée, nasturtium and beach pea, from the Wickaninnish Inn.

Right: Seared Humboldt squid from the Wolf in the Fog.


Women's tennis is more enjoyable to watch than the men's game. It's also better
Saturday, August 30, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S1


They began lining up at midmorning on Thursday to watch 15-year-old amateur CiCi Bellis play her second-round U.S. Open match. She didn't hit the court until 8 p.m.

Above all, the sudden, frantic fascination with the elfin teenager was a "Murika!" thing. This poor country hasn't won a Grand Slam in almost a year, and it's begun to erode their self-confidence. The United States has made itself a promise - no more wars until they get this tennis thing sorted out. Not even a little incursion. No, no, not even a couple of guys in a canoe.

What made it really special is Bellis's precociousness. The average female pro is an unusually large, lissome specimen. Bellis is a tiny little slip of a thing. Yet, she was still able to compete because she's mastered the basics.

She doesn't do any one thing particularly well - her average first-service speed is 135 kilometres an hour (a functional knuckleball) - but she does everything just well enough. Like every other successful woman, her game is rounded, and will grow more so.

Try to imagine a male CiCi Bellis. It's verging on impossible. Because the men's game isn't about skill. It's about brute force.

Women's tennis is chess - in and out, lengthy rallies, in-game tactics and plotting, all happening at speed.

The men are playing checkers - huge serve, try to rip the skin off the ball, depend more on your opponent's weakness than your own strength. It's ballet without the dancing, only throws.

This is why women's tennis is so much more enjoyable to watch. It's more than that. It's better, full stop.

A few years ago, French pro Gilles Simon wandered into a briar patch and began thrashing around when he commented on the debate over gender equality and pay.

"The male players spent twice as long on court at Roland Garros [at the French Open] as the women," Simon said. "The equality in salaries isn't something that works in sport. Men's tennis remains more attractive than women's tennis at the moment."

Later, doubling down, he called men's tennis "more interesting."

Simon was ripped up and down, which was predictable and a little unfair. This isn't a political point, but an aesthetic one. Everyone's entitled to bad taste.

Simon - and many others ducking behind him for cover - argues that the potential for five sets equals more entertainment value than the limitation of three. This is akin to saying one painting is better than another because the canvas is bigger.

Simon presumes that longer equals more - more tension, more drama, more value in real terms.

He's wrong. Longer just equals longer. By his logic, mid-July baseball is better than World Cup soccer because the games go on forever. By his logic, Test cricket is the most interesting sport on Earth.

Call this "the Godfather Exception." A 3.5-hour movie may be better than a 90-minute one. Generally, it's a whole lot worse, if only because it buries the story under layers of unnecessary flab.

Every five-setter resembles a classic at the end. We forget all the tedium that led up to the final release.

In order to claim that men's tennis is more aesthetically pleasing than women's, you have to believe a few things.

First, that power is the ultimate expression of sporting achievement. It isn't.

Men are better athletes than women in absolute terms. They're stronger and faster. If that were all that mattered from the viewer's perspective, rock throwing and brick smashing would be more popular televised entertainments.

That's what the men's game is for the most part. Arm wrestling at a distance. Roger Federer aside, there isn't a single top player in the men's game who could reasonably be called elegant. Most of them are happy to stand behind the baseline wanging shots at each other until someone's arm falls off.

It's faster, which is an initial rush, but it's less nimble. At its worst, it's a pell-mell jumble of overlong limbs and all-or-nothing forehands. There's plenty of industry and very little art.

Commenting on Milos Raonic a couple of days ago, his coach, Ivan Ljubicic, said the Canadian is "not a natural athlete." He's too big to be one. That's the key to his ability. That's true of the majority of men's players. It's true of almost none of the women.

They come in a variety of shapes. All of them are operating at maximum efficiency. If they wanted to play five sets, they could. And do just as bad a job at it.

But someone with sense has realized that what Grand Slam tournaments need to be is better, not longer. Would Venus Williams's 6-0, 0-6, 7-6 (5) heartbreaker against Sara Errani on Friday have been better if it had lasted two more sets? No, it just would have had more of the drama the pair was able to pack into a sleeker package. That small classic lasted just more than two hours.

After two hours of a tight men's match, you're beginning to grow weary. Can't we just skip to the deciding set now? Well, I suppose not. But don't worry, we'll only be stuck watching this for ... oh God, another two hours. A nice thought at a Wimbledon final. A less appealing prospect in the first round of the Australian.

Most important, to believe the men's game is better, you must believe that women should want to play more like them. More horsepower. More filler. More more.

This misses the key to any great sporting event - an array of ability. What we want from athletes is to see them do things the rest of us could not. That's the romance.

We want a full display of their talents. Not a couple of them strung over hours and hours. All of them in an hour and a half, when they're not exhausted.

If that's the goal, then the question should not be whether the women can raise their game to the grinding, big-bodied, maxeffort level of their male counterparts.

It's wondering why the men don't aspire to play the game more like women.

Follow me on Twitter:@CathalKelly

Portfolio-building for the rookie investor
Saturday, August 23, 2014 – Print Edition, Page B11

The best investment products for beginners are cheap to buy and own, easy to manage and effective in producing competitive returns.

In Part 2 of my Ultimate Investor Guide for Generation Y, we look in detail at some specific investments that deliver on all three points (read Part 1 online at Our target investor has $5,000 to start a portfolio in a tax-free savings account. TFSAs are an ideal vehicle for rookie investors for three key reasons.

Taxes are a non-issue: Money can be withdrawn tax-free at any time.

They typically have no annual account administration fees. Investment firms hate small accounts for the most part, and they have demonstrated it by charging administration fees on them; TFSAs are a notable exception.

They're versatile: You can put pretty much any type of investment in a TFSA - mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, stocks, bonds and guaranteed investment certificates.

A quick word about portfolio building: Many of the portfolios we'll look at here use a modestly aggressive mix of 25 per cent in bonds and 25 per cent in each of Canadian, U.S. and international stocks. If I were in my mid-20s, I'd probably go 15 per cent bonds and 85 per cent stocks, but Gen Y investors tend to be on the conservative side (read more on this in an earlier column at EClo).

Now, let's look at four ways to invest as a beginner - simple, medium effort and two advanced options.


Who sells them: Balanced funds are sold everywhere, but two of the best for beginners come from the online bank Tangerine Bank, formerly ING Direct, and the Calgary-based investment company Mawer.

What you're buying: Tangerine's balanced growth portfolio is built with index mutual funds tracking major stock and bond benchmarks. The fund is divided evenly into Canadian bonds, Canadian stocks, U.S. stocks and international stocks (outside North America). Mawer Balanced holds other Mawer funds in a blend of roughly 6 per cent cash, 31 per cent bonds and 63 per cent stocks from Canada and around the world (including large and small companies).

How to buy: Online through Tangerine. For Mawer funds, choose an online broker (my latest broker ranking is at and confirm that you can buy Mawer products with no commissions.

Pluses: You put money in and the fund managers maintain a diversified portfolio for you. Investing gets no simpler than this. Also, there shouldn't be any cost to buy or sell either of these funds.

Minuses: The cost of owning these funds, as measured by the management expense ratio, is more expensive than the other options here, though much cheaper than most conventional mutual funds.

Takeaway: A fair price for investments that do all the work for you.

More info: Tangerine funds for TFSA:, Mawer Balanced: .


Who sells them: All the big banks sell mutual funds that track major stock and bond indexes, but the cheapest by far are in Toronto-Dominion Bank's e-Series of index funds.

How to buy: The easiest way is to open an account with TD Direct Investing and then buy these four e-Series funds online.

Pluses: Very close to the cheapness of owning ETFs, and no cost to buy or sell.

Minuses: You have to rebalance your portfolio once or twice a year to ensure your mix of investments remains where you want it to be.

Takeaway: A very good choice requiring only medium effort.

More info: TD e-Series funds: .


What you're buying: ETFs, which in their most effective form are very low-cost funds that track major stock and bond indexes and trade like stocks.

That means you need to have an online brokerage account to use them.

How to buy: Go to your broker's online equity order screen (equities are financial-speak for stocks), add the stock symbol for your ETF and select the number of shares you want to buy. You can buy any number you want.

Pluses: The cheapest way to get the diversification benefit of investing through funds rather than picking individual stocks.

Minuses: The big one is brokerage stock-trading commissions, which can range from $9 to $29 for small accounts, depending on which firm you use. That's expensive if you add to your investments on a monthly basis.

The independent brokers Questrade and Virtual Brokers (not affiliated with a big bank or credit unions) offer no-cost ETF purchases.

You pay normal rates to sell, but these firms have very low commissions. One more minus with ETFs is an overwhelming selection, numbering close to 400 funds. The four ETFs shown here can certainly be used to build a complete portfolio, but there are many alternatives.

Takeaway: The less you pay for your investments, the higher your potential returns.

More info: Questrade on ETFs:; VB on ETFs:


Who does this: ShareOwner, an online brokerage firm catering to long-term, buy-and-hold investors.

What you're buying: The same ETF portfolio as above, but this time you're investing through ShareOwner.

How to buy: ShareOwner lets you pick the ETFs you want, and then set up a monthly contribution plan. In addition to the fees on your ETFs, ShareOwner applies a charge equal to 0.5 per cent of your account balance annually to buy your funds and manage your portfolio (a flat $40 a month is charged for accounts over $100,000). ShareOwner will divide your contributions between the funds you choose, in the proportion that you specify.

They'll even do fractional shares to ensure your money is invested where you want it.

Pluses: 47 core ETFs are offered for portfolio building, or you can use one of five model portfolios. Once you've chosen your portfolio, they do all the work for you.

Minuses: You're giving up half of a percentage point in returns to have someone keep your account running smoothly.

Takeaway: Not a bad way for a novice to build an ETF portfolio.

More info: ShareOwner's ETF program: .

Follow me on Twitter:@rcarrick

Associated Graphic

he best investment products for beginners are cheap, easy to manage and ffective in producing competitive returns. CHAD ANDERSON/GETTY IMAGES

The future looks bleak for MLSE and all its teams
Leiweke brought two things that cannot be pulled from the air by a new CEO, regardless of how competent his successor may be: connections and a single-minded drive to put his personal stamp on every part of a business
Friday, August 22, 2014 – Print Edition, Page A6

After a couple of days of pointedly time-sensitive denials, the news that Tim Leiweke is leaving as president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment within the next 10 months is more than a management shuffle. It's a decapitation.

The body he leaves behind will continue twitching for a while.

Maybe a season or two. But, eventually, it's going to die.

Mr. Leiweke was more than a manager. MLSE has had a whole bunch of those.

He was a visionary, an 18-houra-day dynamo, a man who could work himself near tears thinking about the possibilities (and often did).

He brought in or elevated a series of fellow travellers who now control all aspects of the corporation. In every case, in every conversation, every one of them was keen to tell you who lit the fire underneath them: Tim.

"He is the most incredible person I've ever met," an MLSE exec once told me, with a religious sense of awe.

For the past year, MLSE has been run as a function of one man's outsized personality. It can't just go back to being an insurance company that happens to own a hockey team.

Troublingly, they also can't find another guy who exists at Mr. Leiweke's level, because such a person does not exist. He wasn't just the best-connected sports executive in the country. He may have been the most hooked-in entertainment operator in the world.

Take the most famous Leiweke recruit - Drake.

In recent years, the hip-hop star had reached out on several occasions to MLSE, wanting to get involved with the Raptors. He didn't really care how. This wasn't a business opportunity.

This was a fan with leverage.

No one at MLSE ever returned his calls. Think about that. Seriously. If you're a fan of any one of MLSE's teams, have a long think about what you're going back to.

Eventually, Drake gave up. Shortly after taking the job in Toronto, Mr. Leiweke was back in L.A. having a friendly chat with Scooter Braun, the man who manages Justin Bieber's musical career. Mr. Braun mentioned Drake's interest. Mr. Leiweke made the call.

Drake had no suggestions as to his role. Mr. Leiweke dreamed up the global brand ambassador title. It was all done in days. The effect on the club's continental reputation has been seismic.

Draw a straight line from Drake to the "We The North" campaign to Kyle Lowry deciding he preferred the Raptors to the Lakers or the Knicks. Draw a line between all those moves and relevance.

Two years ago, that was impossible. Two years from now, without Mr. Leiweke, it's impossible again.

Mr. Leiweke brought two things that cannot be pulled from the air by a new CEO, regardless of how competent - connections and a single-minded drive to put his personal stamp on every part of a business.

The thing that should give the next man or woman in charge pause is how deeply every important player in this organization is beholden to the last guy.

Without Mr. Leiweke, Masai Ujiri is not the general manager of the Raptors.

Without Mr. Leiweke, Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley don't both make risky leaps to Major League Soccer. It was Mr. Bradley's agent, Ron Waxman, who reached out in the first place to Toronto FC. He's the one who sold the idea to his player. Why?

"I really liked what Tim was doing there," Mr. Waxman said.

Not the team. Not the GM. "Tim."

It was Mr. Leiweke who strongarmed MLS into allowing the move to happen. Because he knows everyone at the league.

He knows everyone at every league.

Without Mr. Leiweke, Brendan Shanahan does not become the president of the Maple Leafs.

Again, it was Mr. Leiweke who smoothed the idea of poaching one of the NHL's comers by going to another one of his old pals, Gary Bettman.

Notably, Mr. Leiweke did not bring a single employee with him from AEG. He won over most of the existing staff. The ones who didn't want to be won over, he replaced. The joint is not full of his loyalists. It's got nothing but.

In replacing him, MLSE has three problems: the past, the present and the future.

The past suggests that this corporation is not a friendly place to spend your peak professional years. In announcing his departure a year after his arrival, Mr. Leiweke hasn't helped much on that score.

The present is built on a foundation entirely of his creation.

Every one of his hires has plenty of other options.

Mr. Ujiri, for one, has been frustrated at the corporation's initial reluctance to build his team a new $30-million training facility (a key recruiting tool). It's only happening now because Mr. Leiweke went to war for him at the board level.

What's keeping Mr. Ujiri here now, aside from a paycheque? Who is his rabbi in management?

The same could be said of Mr. Shanahan. Or Mr. Bradley. Or a bunch of other behind-thescenes people who've been instrumental in this Great Leap Forward.

However, the real issue is the future.

Just a few days ago, we were talking I wrote abote Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant, and the possibility that he might choose Toronto in two years' time. That was always a reach.

Without Mr. Leiweke, it's hopeless. He held that plan together.

He knew all the players involved.

You can't hire another person who can do that. There isn't one.

Before Mr. Leiweke, MLSE worked like a bank. It had money. It offered money to people it wanted, and hoped they'd come.

Few did. That mentality is useless when all three of your teams operate in a salary-cap environment.

These days, every ascendant organization rides on one of two things - its history or its personality. No Toronto team has a recent history it wants to talk about.

So all they have to sell the stars of the future and build these clubs into winners is their personality. And it just quit.

Associated Graphic

Tim Leiweke, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, takes a call outside Toronto's Air Canada Centre on Wednesday. Mr. Leiweke is set to leave the sports empire no later than June, 30, 2015.


Toronto steels itself for Lions defence
The Argonauts host the B.C. squad at Rogers Centre on Sunday, just five nights after beating the Winnipeg Blue Bombers there
The Canadian Press
Saturday, August 16, 2014 – Print Edition, Page S5

TORONTO -- On a short week, Curtis Steele replaces brawn with brain power.